Things to do in Orlando that don't involve the Mouse- or a ton of money

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

When most people picture taking a trip with the family to Orlando, Florida, they have visions of Disney World, Mickey Mouse, Princesses....and money magically flying out of their wallets.

But it doesn't have to be that way.  You can still have a great trip to Orlando with the kids (even without Disney) and stick to a budget.  Skeptical?  Take a look at some of the other things to do in the area with the family!

My family and I went this past weekend and had a wonderful time.  We took my son out of school early on a Friday and made the 5 hour drive to Orlando and came back home late Sunday.

This is  how we road trip!

The Hotel

If you want to save money on your trip and still feel like you're on vacation, book a decent hotel with a nice pool to relax in.  Make sure to check deal sites to get the cheapest price and check reviews.  I swear by Priceline's Name Your Own Price option and for great deals on hotels, while I always check Tripadvisor for reviews on the places we're looking into.


When we got there, we checked into the Red Lion Hotel.  We found a great deal on  The room was super clean...even the bathroom.  The grounds were beautiful, well kept, and there were multiple pool options to choose from.


Medieval Times Dinner Show ($40-$70 per ticket,  includes dinner)

This was the highlight of our trip.  I love these types of shows.  I've been to the Tournament of Kings in Las Vegas which is similar.  If you watch their website, you will see that tickets go on sale quite often.  And if you or one of your children have a birthday coming up while you're on the trip, be sure to sign up for their emails because you get a free ticket for your birthday!  

The Orlando show is special because it has the Medieval Village which you can visit before your show.  It's basically a museum taking you back to, well...the Medieval Times.  It's set up so that you can see what rooms in houses would look like back then, along with pottery, shoes, clothing, and a variety of other things.  One room not to miss is the Medieval Torture Chamber.  This shows you (and explains to you) all of the devices used to torture criminals back in the day.

The show is a perfect family activity because it entertains so many different personalities.  Does anyone in your family like Knights and Princesses?  Horses?  Sword Fighting?  Falconry?  Action?  Cheering really loud?  Eating??  Then this show is for you!

The Tournament of Kings is also a great deal if you're on a budget because not only do you get your nightly entertainment, but they don't skimp on the dinner either!  It is a LARGE amount of food.  There is sure to be something to please everyone in your group.  (Want more info on the Tournament of Kings?  I have a full recap of our time there)

Geocaching (free)

 For those of you that Geocache, you already know that its a fun and free activity to do with the whole family.  There are TONS- and I mean TONNNNS of caches in the Orlando area.  So we spent some time getting our first Florida caches done before the show on Saturday.

 For those of you who may not have heard of Geocaching, check out this article that explains all about it.  But quickly, it's pretty much a treasure hunt for the modern times.  And, who doesn't like a real life treasure hunt??

Old Town Kissimmee (free and up)

My son loves cars.  So we had to check out Old Town Kissimmee.  They had an All American Muscle Car Show where you could look at the cars and then they cruised down the streets.  They also have restaurants, rides, magicians, a band, etc all in the area that make you feel like you've gone back in time to the 60s and 70s.  It's a great place to spend some time without spending a ton of money.


We didn't get a chance to do the following things on our visit, but are great options for more fun in Orlando:

Lake Eola Park and Kelly Park (free or a couple of dollars)

Lake Eola Park
is right inside downtown Orlando.  It has a sidewalk that circles the lake, making it perfect for taking walks, bike riding, or roller blading.  The park has a playground, plenty of space for picnics and has a light show in the evenings!  Kelly Park in nearby Apopka Florida, is a huge park that has a natural springs creek for you to go tubing in!  The water stays a constant 68 degrees throughout the year.  Bring your own tubes, or there are places to rent them right outside the park for a couple of dollars.  There is a sandy "beach" area to rest, have a picnic, go swimming, hiking,etc.  It's a great option to spend a fun filled day on a budget.

Spook Hill (free)

Is your family up for a little spooky adventure?  We didn't have time to do this, but will certainly try it out the next time we go. It's an area where when you park your car, and can actually watch it roll uphill...all on its own!  Spook Hill is right outside Orlando in an area called Lake Wales, FL.  When you arrive there are directions telling you what to do to experience the attraction best.  This blogger wrote a great article explaining all about it.

Great Escape Room ($23)

In the mood for something a little different?  Check out the Great Escape Room!  This is a new form of interactive entertainment that is popping up in new cities across the US all the time.  The idea is you're "locked" in a room with no way out.  You and your family must find the clues, figure out the puzzles, and find secret passageways in order to escape!  You have 1 hour to complete the mission or you will be locked in there forever (or you know, until 2 seconds later when the workers open the door for you....either way, lol).  Their website says only 18-35% of the groups have been able to solve the mystery within the hour and escape.....will you???

The Orlando location has three different rooms that follow a Sherlock theme!

The rooms are designed for guests ages 12 and up.

These are just a few of the options you could do in Orlando to entertain the family without spending a ton of money at Disney.  Or, do Disney for one or two days, but throw in some of the ideas to keep the rest of your trip under budget?  

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