Ask any dedicated Walt Disney World fan where their second home is, and they’ll tell you, Orlando. But what if Orlando really is your home? It certainly changes how often you go to the parks, but you also learn a lot of things to do and not to in and around property. There is a lot we’ve learned living here that we wish we’d known before when we were visiting. Here are some tips locals know that you should too.
6 – The Gas on Property is Surprisingly Affordable
Disney World is certainly known for being expensive. Gift shops often have raised prices on even the most basic items. So it might surprise you to know that you can fill up that gas tank without being overcharged. In fact, the gas prices at the Speedway Stations (formerly Hess) on Disney property are often among the lowest anywhere around property. We usually fill up on property just to take advantage of saving a couple of bucks on a tank. Can you find gas cheaper on Disney property? Sometimes yes and sometimes no. But do you really want to take an hour or two out of your vacation to drive around to save $1 or $2 on a tank of gas? Not if you are looking for actual value. Save your time, gas and money and fill up right on Disney property. (We’re comparing prices at Disney World to those around Orlando. Gas prices may still seem expensive depending on what part of the country you are coming from).
NOTE: If you’re returning a rental car to Orlando International Airport do not fill up at the stations just outside the airport. We’ve seen prices about $6 and $7 a gallon. Disney World is close enough to the airport you should be able to overfill a bit on property and still be at F when you drop the car off.
5 – Get a Sun Pass
There are a lot of toll roads in and around Orlando. If you are driving in from the airport, you will be traveling on at least one of these toll roads. While toll roads can make getting around convenient, lines at the toll booths can get very long if you’re paying cash, even outside of rush hour. Locals know how to get around this. If you are going to be driving around town outside of Walt Disney World, or even if you don’t leave property once you’re there but visit regularly, you need to get a Sun Pass. The Sun Pass will work at any toll both (including EZPass locations) around Florida. They allow you to breeze through the pass lanes without stopping and also give you a small discount on tolls. Visit www.SunPass.com for information on purchasing and loading a pass. They are also available for purchase at stores us as Publix (See next tip).
NOTE: EZ Passes from the northeast are only accepted on about half of the central Florida toll roads. If you are planning to use your EZPass from home, make sure you know ahead of time where it is and is not accepted.
4 – Publix is the Place for Supplies
Locals know that you never buy groceries at the stores on the edge of Disney property. Avoid Gooding’s at the Crossroads Shopping Center at all cost! It’s a house of horror. If you need groceries while you’re at Walt Disney World, Publix is the place to go. Publix offers the best-baked goods, the best deli, and the best shopping experience. There are megastores a little further away, but Publix will save you a lot of time. They are closer and easier to get in and out fast.
3 – Get Major Discounts on Disney Merchandise at the Character Outlet Stores
Locals know not to buy souvenirs on property. We buy Disney merchandise from one of the two Disney outlets just miles from Disney. These stores are official Disney and feature authentic merchandise straight from the parks. It’s not just damaged inventory or old shirts either. We are always surprised by how often we see the same exact product in the outlets as is currently in Disney gift shops. If you are into Pin Trading, it’s a great place to load up on trading inventory.
Our family has saved a lot of money over the years visiting these stores. Note that some items are not discounted, but mostly you’ll find deep discounts. For instance, this past spring, my wife was able to purchase a Mickey Vera Bradley purse that initially sold for $75 for only $20! Stock changes often, so you will likely find different merchandise on separate visits. Here is the address to each of the two stores. If you don’t have a car the Vineland Premium Outlets is very close and an easy cab ride over.
Disney’s Character Warehouse
at the Orlando Vineland Premium Outlets (near Disney Springs)
8200 Vineland Ave #1252
Orlando, FL 32821
Disney’s Character Warehouse
at the Orlando International Premium Outlets (near Universal/Sea World)
4951 International Drive #95
Orlando, FL 32819
2 – Do Everything to Avoid I-4
Interstate 4 (I-4) is the major highway running through Orlando, and it’s usually a nightmare. Locals know to avoid I4 if possible. There are times when I4 snarls up and slows to a crawl. If it’s sunny, cloudy, raining, dry, daytime or night, traffic can be a problem. Add to this the fact that a massive construction project has begun to expand and reconfigure nearly 30 miles of I4 and its exits, and it’s not exactly a recipe for pixie dust and happy thoughts. Any destination immediately around property can be reached without using I4. Use the 417 toll road to get to/from the airport or to bypass the city of Orlando entirely from the east/north. You can even get to Universal without using I4 by driving up Apopka Vineland Road.
1 – Visit the Park Like a Local
With the ability to visit the parks often, locals soon learn some tricks to avoid the crowds. When the out of town guest zig, locals zag. Check the park hours to see which park has Extra Magic Hours. Now, avoid that park at all costs. Extra Magic Hours work–they bring people into the park–a lot of people. If there are morning hours, then that park will have heavier crowds all day. If there are evening hours, then that park will start seeing heavy crowds in the afternoon. If you want to avoid the crowds, then skip the park(s) that have these extra hours.
For a no obligation, FREE Quote on a Disney vacation package, please contact our travel partner Magical Vacation Planner at 407-442-0227 (407-442-0215 for Spanish). You can also request a FREE quote online by Clicking HERE.