When it comes to planning your Orlando, Florida holiday there are some important points to think about before you go, to make sure that you get the most out of the experience. Fortunately planning a Florida holiday is almost as much fun as being there, so although there is quite a lot to consider, it can be a very enjoyable experience.
If you are visiting Orlando for the first time, take a look at our Florida First Timers Guide.
Use the sections below to work through the different areas, and don’t forget you can talk through your plans with other Florida Fans in the DoingFlorida Forums.
When to visit Florida?
Most people are restricted by work and/or school commitments, and this can obviously be the biggest factor when scheduling a holiday, but aside from this there are three key points to consider when selecting a date for travelling to Florida:
- the weather
- the crowds
- special events
Rain showers are a frequent feature during the summer months – they can be very heavy and can be an almost daily occurrence. However the showers usually pass quickly and because of the heat, all signs of rain can then disappear very quickly.
During the periods March-May and October/November the weather is cooler but still generally sunny and warm. Our summary of Florida weather across the year shows the overall position.
Crowd levels in the theme parks vary considerably across the year, with peaks around the major holiday periods as you would expect. The periods with the lowest crowd levels tend to be:
- after Christmas but before Easter
- after Easter until the end of June
- from mid-September to mid-November
Our summary of crowd levels by month shows the position across the year.
So when you have found the perfect balance between your work/school commitments, the weather, the crowd levels, and the special events, then you will have arrived at the perfect time for your visit, easy as that!
What to take with you on your Florida Holiday
Most of the attractions around Orlando are best suited to casual clothing such as shorts and shirt, so this will probably make up most of your luggage. During the hotter months, your clothes will probably need to be as cool as possible.
In the cooler months the main issue is the variation between day and evening temperatures, so you will need to be ready for that. See the Florida temperature chart for an idea of the variation.
Florida rainstorms are notorious – they can arrive quickly and be very heavy. During the summer months it is best to expect a rainstorm every afternoon, so some kind of waterproof clothing is usually essential. Ideally you will need something that can be accessed quickly, then folded up and forgotten about when the rain stops.
Most people will do a lot of walking on a Florida holiday, so comfortable footwear is a must. However, it’s also important to consider the rain here too – ideally you will need footwear that can cope with a sudden ‘mini flood’ and then dry out quickly afterwards.
If you are prone to blisters when walking long distances, wet footwear can make this worse, so it’s best to be prepared with plasters etc.
Sunscreen is essential whenever you are out in the Florida sunshine, and a hat and sunglasses are also very useful to keep the direct sunlight from your face.
Whilst sunscreen is readily available in the shops and parks, it is worth taking some with you to get through at least the first couple of days.
Because of the heat, once-a-day application sunscreens can be very effective and are therefore very popular.
Bags & Backpacks
A backpack of some kind is a great idea when visiting the theme parks and attractions. There can be quite a bit to carry – including your waterproofs and drinking water – and who wants to be carrying bags around on holiday?!
Phones & Tablets
A phone or tablet is very useful when visiting the theme parks – for example the My Disney Experience app allows Walt Disney World guests to manage things like dining reservations and FastPass+ bookings direct from their device.
The app also provides details of wait times for the attractions and showtimes for fireworks and parades.
When it comes to making calls on your mobile phone there are a few important points to consider.
Each operator will provide details of the costs for using UK mobile phones whilst in Florida. It is usually best to contact your operator before travelling, to confirm the arrangements and prices that will apply.
Find out more about using a UK mobile phone to make calls whilst in Florida.
Dealing with the Time Difference
Most of the year Florida time is 5 hours behind UK time (the only time this changes is when the clocks are changed in March and October – this usually happens on different days in the UK and USA, so the time difference is temporarily different but only for a few days).
Although a five hour time difference can sound quite daunting, it can definitely be used to your advantage as a UK traveller.
For example, for the first few days you can expect to be awake very early each morning which means you can be among the first to arrive at the theme parks. If you are planning to have breakfast at one of the theme parks, think about arranging this for your first couple of days when getting up early wont be a problem.
Of course, the 5-hour time difference can feel slightly less positive upon arrival back in the UK at the end of your holiday but, what can we say, nothing looks very positive at that point anyway! (Until you can start planning your next trip!)
For more help with planning your Florida holiday use the following links: