You spend big bucks for a vacation at Walt Disney World and the other Orlando theme parks and attractions. You don’t need annoyances interfering with your fun. As a local, I know the pitfalls that await unwary visitors. Here are three to watch out for and what you can do to handle them:
1) Timeshare recruiters in stores, restaurants, and even theme parks. Orlando is a hot spot for timeshares, and sales people are constantly on the prowl for new victims to sit in on high-pressure pitches. Many buy space inside souvenir stores and restaurants and lure in tourists under the guide of cheap or free tickets to a theme park, dinner show, or other attraction. Once they get your attention, they spring the catch: a multi-hour timeshare sales presentation.
As a local, I get annoyed running the gauntlet of sales people when I’m out to lunch at a restaurant that has them positioned right at the front door. I just snap, “Leave me alone, I’m a local,” but it gets tiring doing that every time you’re out for a meal. You’ll even find them inside some of the theme parks (for example, watch out for the booth near Men in Black at Universal Studios Florida). My best advice is to walk by without making eye contact or to just keep repeating a firm, “No, thanks.” Don’t feel like you’re being rude. The real rudeness is having your precious vacation time interrupted.
The only timeshare that doesn’t make me cringe is Disney Vacation Club. DVC has kiosks in the parks, but they’ll never pounce on you as you walk by, and even if you sign up for a sales meeting, it’s very low key and even (dare I say it) fun. DVC is also the only timeshare I know where all my friends who’ve bought in are totally happy owning it.
2) Paying full price for an attraction when everyone else is getting a discount. Many tourists don’t realize that you can get a discount on almost any attraction in the Orlando area. Theme park discounts vary, and Disney rarely has major ticket deals, but the side attractions, dinner shows, and restaurants all throw coupons around freely.
There’s nothing more annoying than chatting with the family next to you at a dinner show and finding out they paid half price when you ponied up the full amount or for discovering that everyone but you is getting a discount at the go-kart track. I recommend ordering a free Magicard Discount Card from Visit Orlando (the Orlando Tourism Bureau) before your trip. Otherwise, look in restaurants and hotel lobbies for racks full of free discount coupon books.
3) Getting gouged for parking. Many tourists get upset because theme park and attraction tickets are pricey enough on their own, and parking comes at an additional cost. There’s no easy way to avoid this, so most just pay up. Years ago, those in the know would park for no cost at Downtown Disney and take a free bus to the theme parks. Now, the buses only run to the Disney hotels, and Downtown Disney parking is very limited due to the Disney Springs remodeling project.
The bright spot is that once you pay for parking at one Disney park, you can park at the others for free on the same day. Just save your receipt to show at the toll booths. Also, parking is free at the Typhoon Lagoon and Blizzard Beach water parks. At Universal Orlando Resort, there’s a discount for parking after 3 p.m. on most nights. Also, you get $2 parking if you go to a movie at the CityWalk AMC theater, and there’s a weekday “two hours for $2” valet parking deal between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. with validation from participating CityWalk businesses.
You can’t totally avoid these three annoyances. They’re common in other tourist areas, not just Orlando. Still, when you know about them, you can work around them and still have a great vacation.