ORLANDO FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
By Helen Wright
For first-timers, Orlando can seem so simple, yet so complicated at the same time. Ahead of my 20th visit to Orlando I attempt to dispel some popular Orlando myths, clear up a few common confusions and answer some Orlando frequently asked questions. This post forms park of my Ultimate Guide to Orlando and is updated regularly with new information. If you wish to read the guide from the beginning, click here.
For advice on the best theme park tickets to buy for your visit, my detailed post on park passes should point you in the right direction.
If you don’t find the answer you need below or elsewhere in our guide Tweet us! We’ll answer as best we can and can add your question to this Orlando frequently asked questions page.
YOUR ORLANDO FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS – ANSWERED
WHEN IS THE BEST TIME OF YEAR TO VISIT ORLANDO?
In my opinion, spring or autumn are the best times to visit Orlando. I’m stereotyping here, but most UK visitors to Florida arrive hoping for some hot weather. Luckily, Florida is sunny year-round but winter (especially January and February) can be cool, with an average low temperate of around 11C. Spring and autumn, while under the threat of thunderstorms and tropical showers, offer warm weather that isn’t too hot and fewer crowds populating the theme parks than in the summer holidays. Personally, I usually visit in the autumn. September and October is a great time to go to the parks with less crowds and some brilliant events happening, such as the Epcot International Food Festival and Halloween Horror Nights.
WATCH MY VIDEO ABOUT UNIVERSAL’S HALLOWEEN HORROR NIGHTS HERE.
WHen IS THE RAINY SEASON?
Orlando’s heaviest rain fall is between June and September (it is a tropical climate!). But rain in Florida can look far worse on a weather forecast than it is in reality. Days are often marked ‘T-Storms’ every day but more often than not you might get a shower or two that lasts for 20 minutes and brilliant sunshine for the rest of the day. Just pack items that are suitable for rain and you can actually use inclement weather to your advantage. If rain is forecast all day the parks and waterparks are often far less busy. Meanwhile, the mall and indoor attractions in Orlando, such as Ripley’s Believe it or Not, take in the crowds. Rain alone won’t cause theme park attractions to close but if lighting is recorded within a five-mile radius, outside coasters will be stopped automatically for safety. In my experience, this is never for very long and all the theme parks have regularly updated apps that tell you when a ride has reopened.
DO THE FIREWORKS HAPPEN IN THE RAIN?
The show must go on! In most circumstances, the fireworks and parades will continue in the rain with some exceptions. Shows like Fantasmic! at Disney’s Hollywood Studios that use actors and other moving props may be cancelled in heavy rain or high winds. In the event of strong winds and lighting, the fiireworks may be cancelled for the safety of guests.
WHAT IF A HURRICANE IS FORECASTED TO STRIKE ORLANDO?
Read my post of what happened to us during hurricane Irma and pick up some weather-proofing tips here.
IS THERE A ‘BEST DAY OF THE WEEK’ TO VISIT THE PARKS?
The honest answer to this really, is no. Those who own an annual pass to the major theme parks may be more likely to visit on a Saturday or Sunday when they are typically off work or school but in my experience this applies more to the waterparks than the main theme parks. Waterparks are less of a full-day extravaganza so if they weather is nice and locals have a free pass, it’s a good place to pop down for a few hours with the kids (etc). A bigger factor is the time of day you choose to visit. The bulk of guests arrive at the parks at midday so if you can be up and at ’em first thing you will experience fewer crowds and shorter lines. Check the event calendars for the dates of your visit as special events can see crowds double.
should i buy theme park tickets in advance?
To save money and have the option to spread the cost of tickets over a longer period, the answer is yes. Find out more in our detailed post about the best theme park passes to buy for Orlando.
WHAT IS THE BEST AGE TO TAKE KIDS TO ORLANDO?
Have you read our Ask The Experts: Orlando Insider Tips post? Mum of three Debs has been taking her kids to Orlando every year since 2001. Find out what age she thinks is best.
I’ve asked my kids if they want to go and they said no. What should I do?
Of course, you know your own children and their individual personalities so it’s really a family decision. What I will say is that no amount of research, photographs or video can prepare you for the spectacle of it all. Deciding to go to Orlando is more than asking your kids if they like Mickey Mouse and whether they want to go to Disney World – a place they have no comprehension of. Even if you have been to Disneyland Paris, it’s hard to understand the magnitude and immersive experience involved in visiting the major parks, which in Orlando are bigger and more staggering. I’d be very surprised to find a kid who went Orlando and didn’t find anything they loved enough to create a life long memory. For me, it’s a celebration of friends and family and life. Hey, it’s the most magical place on earth after all!
WE ARE ADULTS WITHOUT KIDS? IS IT WEIRD TO GO?
Hell no! In fact, a mate-cation to Orlando is just about the best trip you can take. No matter what your age, there is something for everyone. Seriously, even if you’re the one guy in your crew that hates theme parks and everything about them, be comforted that you can drink your way around the world at the pubs and bars of Epcot. Visiting child-free means you can do the parks in less time (or, twice) with no rugrats to drag around that constantly need feeding, sun creaming, toilets, ice creams etc. Plus, everyone is tall enough for all the rides and hopefully no one will have a tantrum (although, we can’t guarantee that). Orlando is also a top honeymoon destination and 1200 couples actually get married at Walt Disney World every year. Okay, we’re putting it out there – who wants to campaign for an adult-only day at Disney…*quietly raises hand.
ORLANDO FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
WHERE ARE THE BEST INSTAGRAM SPOTS AT WALT DISNEY WORLD?
Since you ask, we have a post all about that! Discover the best photo opportunities at Walt Disney World here
HOW MUCH IS PARKING?
Parking fees are between $13 – $22 per car per day. Guests at Walt Disney World Resort Hotels enjoy free parking across all Disney parks. There is no charge for any guest to park at Blizzard Beach, Typhoon Lagoon or Disney Springs. Parking is free of charge at Universal Orlando after 6pm, except during Halloween Horror Nights.
ONCE YOU ENTER THE PARK, CAN YOU COME IN AND OUT or go to other parks?
Providing you haven’t purchased a one-day-one-park ticket (only available on the gates) you visit as many parks as you can fit in. With any ticket you can enter and leave the parks as many times as you want in a day.
CAN I SHARE MY TICKET?
Ticket sharing is not allowed and depending on the park you will be asked to either sign your ticket or leave a fingerprint for re-entry.
DOES MY TICKET INCLUDE A MAGIC BAND?
Unless you are an annual passholder or a Walt Disney Resort guest a MagicBand is not included with your ticket. You can purchase them online or at the parks for $13 but unless you are a resort guest you cannot yet link them to your credit card for purchases.
What is Fastpass+?
A Disney FastPass is a ticket that gives you a specific time slot to ride an attraction at Walt Disney World, meaning you don’t have to wait in the regular line. These started as printable tickets in the park and have evolved into passes you can pre-book online before you even leave the UK. Now, since the introduction of FastPass+ in 2014, once you have purchased your Walt Disney World park tickets you can actually reserve a place on a ride of your choice 30-days in advance with the downloadable app – My Disney Experience, online or at FastPass+ kiosks located around the Walt Disney World resort. Even better, Walt Disney World Resort hotel guests can make FastPass+ selections up to 60 days in advance of their visit, for each day they have a park ticket. At Universal Orlando, the equivalent pass (Universal Express) must be purchased for a chargeable fee. Universal Orlando premium resort guests enjoy Unlimited Universal Express passes free of charge. At SeaWorld parks the pass is called QuickQueue and can be purchased for a chargeable fee.
CAN I TAKE IN A COOLER?
On a personal level I could never be bothered to drag a cooler around (unless it was tiny and fitted in my baby’s pram). Official Walt Disney World rules state that you cannot enter with a cooler or backpack larger than 24″ (61 cm) long x 15″ (38 cm) wide x 18″ (46 cm) high. Coolers required for medication may be stored in a locker or at Guest Relations. To save money on lunch and drinks you can leave a cooler in your car and then leave the park for a little parking lot picnic midway through your day. But bear in mind that the actual park entrance may be a good 15-25 minutes from your car.
ARE THE PARKS WHEELCHAIR ACCESSABLE?
If you are visiting with a guest using a wheelchair or any guest with special needs you do not need to worry. Whilst I myself have not travelled with a less-abled guest, I have it on good authority that the Orlando attractions are some of the most accessible in the world. All resort transportation, theatres, restaurants and most attractions are wheelchair accessible. May I direct you to the fantastic Spin The Globe blog for accessible travel information and tips.