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Orlando: 7 Things Travelers Need To Know Before Visiting

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Orlando is one of the most visited destinations in the U.S., attracting nearly 75 million visitors each year.

While it is true that Orlando’s most famous attractions are its theme parks, the city has more to offer visitors beyond costumed characters and amusement rides.

With a thriving performing arts culture, a growing culinary scene, charming neighborhoods, and endless sunny days, it is easy to see why so many people choose to visit Orlando.  

the sun sets over downtown orlando florida

But before setting off to Orlando, there are a few things you need to keep in mind. In this post, we’ll cover everything you need to know about traveling to Orlando, including:

•          What are the costs for travelers?

•          Things to know about culture and etiquette

•          What are the top attractions?

•          How safe is it?

•          Local food and drinks

•          How good is the WiFi?

•          Best times to visit

Ready? Here are the top 7 things you need to know before visiting Orlando:

entrance to Gatorland in Orlando Florida is a giant alligator mouth

Did you know… Orlando is known as the theme park capital of the world, and many see it as synonymous with Walt Disney World however there were theme parks in the area well before the famous park opened in 1971. The city’s first theme park was Gatorland which opened in 1949 and is still open today. The 110-acre park is now home to thousands of alligators as well as other animals including crocodiles, snakes, birds, and bobcats. Visitors can also enjoy other activities at the park like ziplining over an alligator pit and an off-road adventure that gives passengers an up-close view of some of Florida’s unique ecosystems.

1) Orlando Affordability

Rating: 2 out of 5.

Prices in much of Orlando fluctuate with the seasons. However, regardless of when you travel there are ways to save money.

Accommodation

  • Average hotel price: The current average rate for one night at a 3-star hotel in Orlando is $150, while an average 4-star hotel is about $260.
  • Luxury 5-star hotels: On average, a 5-star hotel costs around $600 per night. However, there are pricier options if you are looking to splurge. For example, the Four Seasons Resort Orlando at Walt Disney World has rooms ranging from $1,200 – $10,000 per night during peak summer times.
  • If you’re on a budget: Travelers on a budget can save on accommodation by vising during off-peak times, staying outside the main areas, or booking a stay at a campground. There are budget options available for around $100 per night.

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The view of a magnificent pool at Loew's Sapphire Resort in Universal Studios Florida.

Food

  • A 3-course meal at a mid-range restaurant for two costs around $80.
  • For a cheap meal at an inexpensive restaurant, expect to pay around $20.
  • A beer costs between $6-$7 and a cappuccino is about $4.75.

Transportation

  • Many visitors to Orlando opt to rent a car. Rates range from  $55 – $100 per day.
  • Visitors who want to travel between their hotel and one of the theme parks can often avail of free shuttles operated by the hotel. Check before booking to see what options are available.
  • Taxis are plentiful in Orlando. Rates start at $2.88 and cost an additional $4 per mile traveled. Uber and Lyft both operate in the city and have comparable rates to taxis.
  • The LYNX public bus system travels all throughout Orlando and is an affordable way to get around. Single rides cost $2, while an all-day pass is $4.50, and a 7-day pass is $16.
Aerial shot at dusk over the 408 and I-4 interchange in Orlando.

2) Culture And Etiquette In Orlando

Check this list before your trip! Here are some of the major Dos and Don’ts in Orlando.

  • DON’T bring weapons to theme parks: Firearms, knives, and even toy guns are not allowed in most of the major theme parks.
  • DO check if smoking is allowed: Many of the theme parks only allow smoking in designated areas.
  • DON’T try to do it all in one trip: There is a reason why tourists return to Orlando again and again – it is impossible to see and do everything in one trip. Pace yourself and prioritize your top sights, but give yourself time to relax too.

3) Top Attractions in Orlando

Here are a few of the top things to see and do while exploring in and around Orlando:

  • Theme Parks – Most tourists choose to visit Orlando for the theme parks. Walt Disney World, Universal Studios Florida, and SeaWorld are the most popular parks and they regularly update and open new attractions. But visitors should know that there is more to Orlando than just the theme parks.
  • Lake Eola Park – A peaceful lake in the heart of downtown Orlando with a mile-long walking path that circles around it. Visitors can also rent paddle boats, watch the swans and birds, and even catch a concert at the amphitheater.
  • Titanic: The Artifact Exhibition – Titanic fanatics will enjoy a step back in time at this museum. Not only are more than 300 original artifacts on display, but the exhibit also has full-scale recreations of many of the ship’s rooms and iconic features.
Lake Eola and downtown Orlando Florida

4) How Safe Is It For Tourists?

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Orlando is generally safe for tourists. However, there are still some things that visitors should keep in mind to stay safe during their visit:

  • Beware of thieves: pickpocketing is common in Orlando, so be sure to take extra caution with your valuables.
  • Choose your neighborhood wisely: While crime against tourists in Orlando is rare, certain areas are more prone to violent crime than others. Exercise increased caution if you find yourself west of the downtown area, and check to make sure your accommodation is in a safe neighborhood.
  • Protect yourself: Orlando can get extremely hot during the summer so be sure to drink plenty of water and bring sunscreen and hats so that you don’t get dehydrated or sunburnt.
  • Watch your drink: don’t lose track of your drink at the bar, and never accept a beverage from someone you don’t know.
  • DO get travel insurance: Travel insurance can help in health emergencies as well as with covering the costs of any travel mishaps during your Orlando trip. For 5 great options, read more here.
Pier in Orlando Florida

5) Local Eats And Drinks

Orlando is an incredible food city, thanks to its diverse population. Be adventurous and don’t let yourself leave without trying at least one of the following:

Food

  • Turkey legs – Did you even go to Disney if you didn’t gnaw on a giant turkey leg like a ravenous carnivore?
  • Cuban food – Orlando has a large population of Cuban Americans so you’ll find great authentic Cuban cuisine throughout the city. Cuban sandwiches and chicken and rice are two popular dishes.
  • Fried alligator – Crispy fried alligator meat that tastes similar to chicken.
  • Dole Whip – A non-dairy pineapple-flavored frozen dessert made from dried pineapple juice.
a woman gnaws on a large turkey leg

Drinks

  • Orange juice – best freshly squeezed from locally grown Florida oranges
  • Rum Runner – the official cocktail of Florida made with pineapple and orange juice, a mix of fruit liqueurs, light and dark rum, and grenadine.

6) How’s The WiFi?

Using Ookla, an internet speed testing service, the average internet speeds in Orlando for April 2023 were 71mbps download and 8.68mbps upload.

Universal Orlando

7) Best Time To Visit

The best time to visit Orlando has largely to do with your agenda. Most people visit during June – August, but expect high temperatures, big crowds, and inflated prices.  If you plan on spending most of your time in the theme parks but want to avoid the crowds then winter is a good time. Just avoid Christmas and New Year’s or other school holidays, as those are some of the most popular times. The shoulder season is also a less-crowded time to visit- the weather is nicer and hotel rates drop.

Read More:

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This article originally appeared on TravelOffPath.com