As you plan your trip to Orlando, you may do some research on things to do in the area while you’re here. While most people will spend a lot of time at the theme parks, many families are looking for less crowded and less expensive options for family attractions. A quick Internet search for “Cheap Things To Do In Orlando” will bring up a variety of results written by people who either
A) Have a never ending money supply and have a very different idea of “cheap” than the rest of the country or
B) Think taking little kids to a museum documenting the history of a small Florida city is a realistic choice for a fun family outing. Cheap? Yes. A place that kids will be excited about? Probably not.
As a local, I’ve put together a list of attractions that actually ARE inexpensive but will also be of interest to families.
1. Old Town USA Theme Park
Don’t let the term “theme park” scare you into scrolling past this unique and extremely fun attraction just outside of Disney. Old Town is a collection of novelty shops, restaurants, and amusement type rides that cater to people of all ages. Car enthusiasts will want to check out Old Town on Saturday nights when they have their weekly classic car cruise. Engines purr and hot rods shine as the crowd walks by to admire the classics. If muscle cars are more your thing, head to Old Town on Friday nights. Live music, countless dining options ranging from full service to fast casual, and places to grab a sweet treat are on almost every corner. As the sun goes down, adults can party at Sun on The Beach, a fast paced nightclub with themed party nights and bartenders who do their job very well. It is very realistic to enjoy Old Town without spending a dime, but it also very possible to have a great time on a budget.
Realistic Receipt: A family of four can enjoy unlimited rides at Old Town on Sunday and a casual dinner for around $60. This includes 4 Sunday Family Day Wristbands and a $20 meal at Jimmy John’s Subs or A&W.
2. Disney’s Boardwalk
Disney’s Boardwalk is a little slice of Disney magic without the outrageous price tags. Parking is free, and the best time to visit is at sunset in order to witness the beautiful sky over the water. Keep your eyes peeled for street performers such as fire-eaters and jugglers. These fun performances make for great photo opportunities and will be a favorite memory for the entire family. Grab some ice cream at Seashore Sweets or follow your nose to the Funnel Cake Cart as it rolls by.
Realistic Receipt: A family of four can enjoy ice cream sundaes and an exciting stroll along the beautifully lit boardwalk for $20
3. Downtown Disney
Downtown Disney is another family friendly part of Disney that is wallet-friendly as well. Eat before you go, because the restaurants here do not qualify as budget friendly, however the atmosphere and unique shops will keep everyone highly entertained. Let the kids’ imagination run wild as they build and create masterpieces in the Lego Store, cool off in the splash pad, listen to live music, peruse the art galleries, explore the toy shop and sample delicious Gheradelli chocolate, all for free! It is very possible to spend all day here and not see everything it has to offer! A family of 4 could enjoy a day full of outdoor fun for $0, however temptation may set in when passing the various colorful shops along the way. Want to take something home to remember your trip by? Pick up some sweet smelling souvenirs from Basin, or buy something special for your left handed loved ones at Lefty’s.
Realistic Receipt: Free for a day of family fun, but it’s possible to spend just $30 for an optional souvenir and four large, soft buttery pretzels from Wetzel’s Pretzels.
4. SAK Comedy Lab
They say a good belly laugh burns 10-40 calories, so planning a visit to SAK Comedy Lab after a day of ice cream, fried food, and soda is basically like working out! SAK is located in Downtown Orlando. Friday nights are a great night to go and be a part of the Duel of Fuels, a laugh your socks off between hilarious people and even more hilarious people, but there are shows almost every night of the week. SAK provides improve comedy, so the jokes are made up on the spot with plenty of audience interaction. It’s family friendly, so you won’t have to worry about dirty jokes or questionable references. They serve movie theatre type snacks, and parking on the street (if you can find a spot) is free after 6pm. If you park in the parking garage, SAK will validate your parking down to $4. You’ll leave with a smile on your face and plenty of money left over in your wallet
Realistic Receipt: A family of four can enjoy a night of belly laughs for $35, including 4 tickets for a Tuesday or Wednesday night show, a few snacks and parking.
5. Pirate’s Island Adventure Golf
There is nothing “mini” about this putt-putt golf adventure! Pirate’s Island offers a unique and exciting 18-hole course that twists and turns through caves, around waterfalls and onboard a pirate ship. Located in Kissimmee off at 4330 W. Vine Street and open until 10 pm, this golf course is a great place to go before or after dinner, and is walking distance to many souvenir shops and restaurants.
Realistic Receipt : A family of four can enjoy a round of golf for $44 when you use a “Kids Play Free” Coupon found on the Pirate Island Adventure Golf Website.
6. Lake Eola Park
Located in downtown Orlando, Lake Eola Park is a hot spot for locals looking for a shady and scenic escape from the hustle and bustle of busy Orlando. Sidewalks surround beautiful Lake Eola, which makes walking or running the .9-mile trail a perfect outdoor activity. There is a children’s playground with a gorgeous view of Lake Eola, the downtown skyline, and majestic Lake Eola Fountain. Enjoy a drink or lunch at Relax Grill, right on the water, and spend the day enjoying the more natural side of Orlando, just like the locals do.
Realistic Receipt: A family of four could enjoy a day at Lake Eola for $40, including lunch for 4 people at Lake Eola Grill and 5 hours of street parking.
7. King Bowl Orlando
Impress your kids with your bowling skills at King Bowl Orlando, a luxurious and family friendly bowling alley sure to keep the whole family entertained. A perfect way to escape the Florida sun or rain shower, this bowling alley has 22 bowling lanes, a full service restaurant (no frozen French fries thrown into a microwave HERE!), countless TVs, two premium bars, and four full size pool tables. Located on International Drive, King Bowl Orlando is a fun and inexpensive way to spend the afternoon.
Realistic Receipt: A family of four can enjoy 2 games of bowling (including the shoe rental) an order of chicken wings and a pizza for $65 (tip: purchase tickets on VisitOrlando.com).
The theme parks are clearly the main attraction for families coming to Disney, and although it can be pricy, the memories and experiences your family will leave with are priceless. When you have some down time and want to experience the hidden gems of Orlando, try some of the places listed above. You’ll save money, have a lot of fun, and enhance your vacation dramatically by experiencing some of the not-so-touristy attractions that Orlando has to offer.