Vacations to Orlando
Have you been considering vacations to Orlando? WestJet Vacations has what you’re looking for. Orlando is fun-loving and magical; a place where guests find great things to explore like DisneyQuest® Indoor Interactive Theme Park, Discovery Cove and The Mennello Museum of American Art. We know how important it is to be able to get away from it all every now and then, which is why at WestJet Vacations, we’re dedicated to providing our guests with safe, friendly and affordable travel options and package deals. Browse the packages below to find a trip to O-Town that’s right for you.
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The ultimate playground for family fun, Orlando's showmanship and focus on non-stop amusement won't fail to bring a smile to anyone's face curmudgeon adult or cranky child alike. Home to some of the world's biggest and most beloved theme parks, Orlando can easily be considered the crowning jewel of the state of Florida, enticing millions of tourists each year in search of a magical getaway.
With so many attractions vying for attention, it's easy to get caught up in a whirlwind of daily activity and ignore the more serene sights Orlando has to offer. Taking a day off from the mega-sized theme parks of Walt Disney World and Universal Studios, visitors can find time for quiet contemplation at Wekiwa Springs State Park or downtown Kissimmee, which still proudly retains some of its original 19th century charm. No matter the preferred speed of your vacation, unlike Cinderella's glass slipper, Orlando has endless potential as a one-size-fits-all destination?
What to do during the day?
It's impossible to talk about a vacation to Orlando without mentioning the biggest attractions the city has to offer: Walt Disney World, SeaWorld and Universal Orlando. These three sites combined are enough to fill a family's week with non-stop action and, in fact, even a single park will be impossible to cover in its entirety. Still there's no harm in trying and, with some judicious planning and advance ticket purchase (expect fees from $100 pp/per day), any traveller is sure to leave feeling satisfied with their theme park accomplishments.
At the flagship Walt Disney World, visitors can explore at least one of the complex's four theme parks, consisting of Magic Kingdom, Animal Kingdom, Epcot and Disney Hollywood Studios. There's also two water parks (Typhoon Lagoon and Blizzard Beach), five golf courses, one camping resort, 34 hotels and a monorail' phew! No wonder it's become known as the "happiest place on earth," but for the time-pressed traveller, must-sees include the Epcot fireworks, Splash Mountain, Magic Kingdom Castle and daily parade through the Magic Kingdom streets.
Over at Universal Orlando, film fanatics will get a thrill from the many movie-themed attractions spread over 125 acres. Jaws, Twister Ride It Out and the Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit are just some of the rides that will shock and delight; while bona fide Potterheads will enjoy the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, where Butterbear and Chocolate Frogs can be sampled in the muggle world.
What to do at night?
At night both Walt Disney World and Universal Orlando put on showtime extravaganzas featuring fireworks, lights, dancing, music and, of course, all your favourite Hollywood characters. If you can manage to tear the family away from the park for one evening, downtown Orlando has just as much to offer in terms of evening entertainment. At SAK Comedy Lab, improvisational comedians host a "Whose Line Is It Anyway"-like show onstage, encouraging audiences to participate over dinner and award points to the best.
Over at House of Blues, guests can be serenaded by nightly performances from well-known musicians as they dine on Southern favourites like po'boys and jambalaya. Finally, for those seeking after-hours adventure will be well placed to visit Tier Nightclub, where 10,000 square feet of party space sets the stage for a high-energy night of dance officiated by some of the country's top DJs.
Going to the chapel?
Any trip to Orlando is sure to create memories that will last a lifetime, but for those looking to make even more of an occasion of their vacation, the nicknamed "City Beautiful" is an ideal locale to host a once-in-a-lifetime wedding. At the Orlando World Center Marriott,bridal parties can take advantage of a fully-catered wedding package that includes an outdoor island location, fresh flowers and even a romantic four-course dinner for two. Meanwhile at Universal's beautiful Lowes Portofino Bay Hotel, brides and grooms can exchange "I dos" amidst a re-creation of the Italian seaside village of Portofino, Italy, complete with decadent ballrooms and charming courtyards.
What else is nearby?
Away from parks, International Drive is Orlando's main tourist strip where hundreds of hotels, restaurants, shopping plazas and unique attractions draw millions of visitors. Popular sights along this strip include the upside down building of Wonderworks, Wet 'n' Wild waterpark, Pirates Dinner Adventure and Discovery Cove. Here visitors can swim with bottlenose dolphins, feed birds and even pet stingrays in between gorging on all-you-can-eat buffets.
Away from the bustle of I-Drive and the theme parks, travellers looking for a more serene experience may want to visit Wekiwa Springs State Parks, just a thirty minute drive north of Orlando. At this picturesque state park visitors are able to camp, picnic, swim in the famous spring or even kayak along the breathtaking and pristine Wekiva River. There is an intriguing cavern from which the namesake spring stems, however, cave diving is forbidden in the area.
What to eat?
As American as apple pie, Orlando is a city where burgers, hotdogs, pizza, steaks and ribs are prevalent on every corner. Mega buffets lay out bounteous spreads come breakfast, lunch and dinner, the best of which can be found at Boma in Disney's Animal Kingdom or the Oktoberfest themed Biergarten in EPCOT's Germany Pavillion. If you're looking for something a little more unique to Florida, foods native to the region and worth tracking down include blue crab, Florida oranges, gator tail and Key lime pie. Named after the region in which it was first created (the Florida Keys), this lime citrus pie has become a staple after dinner treat for hungry Floridians. You can find one of the best servings of Key lime pie at Sister Honey's in downtown Orlando, which has won a number of accolades for its sugary treats.
Where to stay?
With such an abundance of hotels on both International Drive and the theme park complexes, it goes without saying that visitors to Orlando are always able to find accommodation to suit their budget. In the low price range, two star resorts from $40 per night can boast outdoor swimming pools, comfortable air-conditioning and convenient access to all activities. WOW Resort is one such choice, as isDays Inn Orlando Downtown, which even comes with a daily complimentary continental breakfast.Mid-range:
In the mid-range price bracket, larger families may want to consider hotels with self-catering kitchenette facilities. At Casiola Vacation Homes, guests can take advantage of kitchens with full-sized refrigerators/freezers and stovetops from just $173 per night. Looking for somewhere to keep the kids happy AND offer kitchen conveniences? Rooms at the Nickelodeon Suites Resort (from $209 per night) also come with kitchenettes as standard, but with the added bonus of a game room, waterpark and host of Nickelodeon characters roaming the grounds.High roller:
When your budget is endless then so are your accommodation options, widening the net to hotels situated on the very grounds of Walt Disney World and Universal Orlando. By far the most luxurious of these on-site hotels is the five-star Four Seasons Resort Orlando at Walt Disney World Resort, where from $990 per night guests can enjoy a golf course, outdoor pool with lazy river and even iPads provided in rooms. Meanwhile at Disney's Grand Floridian Resort and Spa (from $744), two pools, a full service spa and swim-up bar will keep you refreshed after a hard day of riding rollercoasters.
When to go?
It will come as no surprise that, during school holidays, the theme parks are full of families with children. This can mean that waiting lines for some of the major rides can stretch into hours (alleviated somewhat with the purchase of fast passes), however, surge pricing can also be in effect on flights and hotels. Christmas week is the most expensive time to visit and September can be the quietest, though it is prone to hurricane weather. Annual themed events at the big parks can also impact crowd levels, with some of the most popular spectacles being the Epcot International Food Festival (March to May), Star Wars Weekends (May to June) and Independence Day (July 4).
Getting around the major theme parks is easy thanks to the complimentary shuttles and monorails, however, if you're looking to explore International Drive, a little more planning may be required. Servicing International Drive and the wider areas are two bus companies: LYNX and I-Ride. I-Ride is geared specifically towards tourists, regularly running the length of International Drive, but what may surprise you is that there is no schedule (just wait at the stops) and the service doesn't travel to the main theme parks. In comparison, LYNX is the city bus service that covers a greater area, including the theme parks and airport. Look for Service 8 for the popular tourist route and expect to pay around $2 per journey.
Orlando, Florida's weather is warm throughout the year, experiencing highs over 33°C in August and 21°C in the winter months of December, January and February. Nighttime lows in winter can also fall to 9°C, however, summer months rarely manage anything below 24°C. Though this season boasts some of the highest temperatures, it's also a time prone to hurricanes and high rainfall, sometimes exceeding 200mm a month as the wet season descends upon the state.
As a city within the U.S. state of Florida, the currency of Orlando is that of the American dollar (sign: $; code: USD), which can be purchased at Orlando International Airport. Likewise, most hotels will exchange foreign currency and traveller's checks are still widely accepted. Always inform your bank of any travel plans if you intend to use a credit card.