Orlando in a Budget - the Best Activities, Eateries and Staying Facilities to Be More Economical

If you are in Orlando on a budget and are in confusion with your itinerary, be assured that there are several places that offer accommodations at below a hundred dollars while food can be as low-cost as 2 dollars. Even if you are in Orlando for one day and have decided to visit the popular places, there are attractions that have great discounts and cost below four dollars. Be it a picnic or canoeing and swimming at the central Florida Springs, a visit to Charles Hosmer Morse Museum of American Art to explore the comprehensive collections of Louis Tiffany or a wine tasting tour to Lakeridge Winery –there are many things to enjoy in and near Orlando.   

While visiting Epcot, you can get turkey legs at Fife & Drum Tavern or flavored sodas at Beaches & Cream Soda Shop. The Restaurantosaurus and Flame Tree Barbecue from Disney Animal Kingdom or Casey’s Corner at Disney Magic Kingdom can be the perfect places to enjoy with your little ones.

While considering activities during your visit to Orlando on a budget, consider the following places to visit –

Budget Activities In Orlando

1. Albin Polasek Museum & Sculpture Gardens

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On Lake Osceola, Winter Park is home to the sculpture gardens and home of Albin Polasek, a Czech sculptor. Learn about his life and works from the garden and changing exhibits, public and group tours and the permanent collection of figurative, mythological, portraiture, allegorical and monumental sculptures.
Cost: USD 10 for adults, USD 8 for seniors above 60 and college students, USD 3 for school students, free for kids aged four and below. 
Timings: 10 AM till 4 PM from Tuesday through Saturday, 1 PM to 4 PM on Sunday

2. Mennello Museum of American Art

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Tucked in Howard Phillip’s house this museum at Loch Haven Park showcases sculptures and paintings by Earl Cunningham in the permanent exhibits and organizes regular exhibitions. It celebrates the contemporary and traditional artists including Guy Carlton Wiggins, Henry Salem Hubbell and Louis Ritman with their works.
Cost: USD 5 for adults, USD 4 for seniors above 60, USD 1 for students with ID and visitors aged 6-17, free for kids below 6, military, veterans with ID and their families
Timings: 10:30 AM to 4:30 PM from Tuesday to Saturday, 12 noon to 4:30 PM on Sunday. Sculpture Garden is always open.
Highlights: Yoga in Sculpture Garden, over twenty American Impressionist Collections including seminal works and paintings of early twentieth century

3. Harry P. Leu Gardens

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Sprawling over 50 acres, this Downtown Orlando attraction boasts of palms, flowering trees like camellia, azalea, rose, tropical philodendron, vines and bromeliads regardless of season. Take a stroll through elms, oaks and camphor groves. Visit the Leu House Museum and the Garden House that organizes permanent and rotating exhibits. 
Cost: USD 10 for adults, USD 5 for kids aged 4-17 and free for kids aged 3 and below
Timings: Garden is open from 9 AM till 5 PM, museum is open from 10 AM to 1 PM from Tuesday to Sunday
Highlights: Seasonal blooms, walking through garden, museum, paintings of Mulford B Foster, Flowers For Janette sculpture, Tree of Life Mosaic, Grove Diptych, Camellias Watercolor, outdoor sculptures, Citrus Workers, Otfinoski.   

4. Lake Eola Park

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Enjoy watching the fountain and the endemic birds and swans inhabiting the sinkhole of Lake Eola while traversing through the 0.9 mile sidewalk or taking a swan boat ride. Photograph birds or watch movies, plays and concerts at the amphitheatre and marvel at the skyline of Orlando and the flower beds at the park. It hosts several events like Orlando Farmers Market from 10 AM till 4 PM every Sunday, Come Out With Pride during October with parades, fireworks and food, Fireworks Over the Fountain on 4th July from 4 PM, Spin City Classic in March and Fiesta in the Park from 10 AM till 5 PM during first full weekend of November.   
Cost: USD 15 for 30 minutes of Swan Boat ride
Timings: Park open daily from 6 AM till 11:59 PM. Swan Boating open from 11 AM till 6 PM (Monday-Thursday), 10 AM till 9 PM (Friday-Saturday) and 10 AM till 7 PM (Sunday)
Highlights: Swan Boat ride, Walt Disney Amphitheatre, sidewalk, fountain that changes colors in dark

5. Orlando Museum Of Art

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With over 2400 objects of local, national and international arts including the extensive painting collections of Louis Dewis, this museum hosts rotating temporary exhibitions, year-round lectures., workshops, art appreciation programs, guided tours and seminars for kids and adults. It also has 2 discovery centers for kids with educational programs and interactive activities.   
Cost: USD 15 for adults, USD 8 for seniors above 65, USD 5 for kids aged 4-17 and college students with ID and free for active and veteran military, kids aged 3 and below.
Timings: From 10 AM till 4 PM from Tuesday through Friday, from 12 noon till 4 PM on Saturday-Sunday and closed on major holidays.
Highlights: American art, African art, contemporary graphics, contemporary art, art of the ancient America

6. Orange County Regional History Center

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Nestled in the historic courthouse of Downtown Orlando, the four floors of the museum are used for exhibitions, educational programs for kids, adults and families and permanent exhibits talking about the regional and local history from 12,000 years ago. The Joseph L. Brechner Research Center with archive and library featuring over 5000 volumes is free for public and has special collections from Central Florida Historical Society. There is gift shop on the first floor.
Cost: USD 8 for adults, USD 7 for seniors above 55, students with ID and military, USD 6 for kids aged 5-12, free for kids aged 4 and below
Timings: 10 AM till 5 PM from Monday through Saturday, 10 AM till 9 PM on Thursday and 10 AM till 7 PM on Sunday
Highlights: over 35000 photographs, artifacts and archives documenting the region’s heritage, ancient and contemporary collection of 7 counties namely Lake, Brevard, Polk, Seminole, Volusia, Orange and Osceola

7. Pirate’s Cove Adventure Golf

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Take a journey to the time when infamous pirates ruled the sea with the 18-hole and 36-hole adventure golf courses laden with cascading waterfalls, tropical vegetation, sunken ships and dreading pirate dungeons. 
Cost: USD 14.50 for adults and USD 12.95 for kids in Captain’s Course and Blackbeard’s Challenge, USD 23.95 for adults and USD 21.50 for kids for 36-hole, USD 9.95 for replay. 
Timings: 10 AM till 10 PM from Monday to Thursday, 9 AM till 11:30 PM from Friday through Sunday
Highlights: Manicured greens, beautiful landscaping and the unique Pirate ship

8. SAK Comedy Lab

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Orlando's top live Improv comedy venue, SAK Comedy caters 250 guests for the nightly stand-ups including the Duel of Fools that runs daily and various temporary shows like Love for Fools on Valentine’s Day, Midnight Halloween Torture Show, Mardi Gras SAK Style and Yule of Fools during Christmas. Also notable are Lab Rats and Gen S where the graduates of SAK are invited for performances.

 9. Orlando Science Center

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For kids and adults alike, Orlando Science Center features different exhibits like Pompeii: The Immortal City with artworks, multimedia experiences and interactive mechanical devices to give a glimpse at the 1st century Roman town. Get up close with reptiles, fish, mammals and amphibians at NatureWorks while hiking through Florida ecosystems. Let infants and kids upto 7 years old enjoy skill-based activities within 11000 square-feet KidsTown. Get creative with various tools at the Hive: A Makerspace. Learn art fused with Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics at Fusion: A Stem Gallery. Learn about prehistoric earth, dinosaurs, mega fauna and marine reptiles at DinoDigs. Explore the hydrosphere, atmosphere, geosphere and biosphere at Our Planet. Climb virtually on cockpit to enjoy a flight sequence at Flight Lab and visit the two theatres –Dr. Phillips CineDome and Digital Adventure Theatre for 2D and 3D movies. 
Cost: USD 26 for adults, USD 23 for seniors above 55 and student with ID, USD 18 for youth (2-11) and free for kids below 2 for Pompeii Admission. USD 23 for adult, USD 21 for student with ID, USD 20 for seniors above 55 and USD 16 for kids (2-11) for Military and First Responders. Science For All Costs USD 3 for all except kids below 2
Timing: 10 AM till 5 PM daily and Kids Night At the Museum is open from 6 PM to 10 PM
Highlights: Pompeii: The Immortal City, private interactive experiences, 3D movies, Kids Night At the Museum, KidsTown, NatureWorks

 10. Ripley’s Believe It or Not!

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Discover the most unusual and odd exhibits in the 16 galleries of Ripley’s odditorium where you will find incredible artwork, shrunken human heads, rare animal skeletons, visual illusions, vampire slaying kit etc or get a picture with the tallest man of the world. 
Cost: USD 15.99 for kids (3-11) and USD 23.99 for adults (12 and above)
Timing: 10 AM to 12 AM daily

11. Crayola Experience

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Tucked in Florida Mall, Crayola within its 70,000 square-feet space offers numerous hand-on experiences with colors such as Colossal Caddy, Be A Star, Character Meet-n-Greets, Crayon Factory Show, Cool Moves etc. Learn Drip Art, Kaleidoscope, molding, modeling with clay, painting, scribbling and many more. Screaming Green Hauntoween lets you make cauldron treat bag, paint wizard or witch hat, enjoy slime show, scavenger hunt, slime making and pumpkin painting.   
Cost: USD 24.99
Timings: 10 AM to 6 PM daily

12. Hollywood Drive-in Golf

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The outrageously decorated two 18-hole state-of-the-art courses in Universal CityWalk are inspired from 1950’s classic box office area of the drive-in theatre. Choose any of the two family-friendly courses namely Invaders From Planet Putt and The Haunting of Ghostly Greens. The single-feature and double-feature golfing let you delve into the science-fiction vibe of “little green men” while you putt through filmy cemetery, large alien robot, giant spider, space worm and the lab at a haunted house. Neon-edge lights help playing both in daytime and night with special effects and interactive elements.  
Cost: USD 17.99 and USD 14.99 for 10+ years old and USD 15.99 and USD 12.99 for kids (3-9) for 18-hole and 36-hole respectively.
Timings: 9 AM till 10 PM daily

13. The Wheel At ICON Park

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Often called the Orlando Eye, the Wheel is more affordable than the Sea Life Orlando Aquarium and Madame Tussauds Orlando from the ICON Park. Standing 400 feet tall, this observation wheel offers an exhilarating ride spanning about eighteen minutes and offers private air-conditioned capsules accommodating 15 guests and several LEDs that are used during light show. Enjoy birdseye vistas of the Orlando skyline, the natural lakes including Little and Big Sandlake, Walt Disney World, Universal Orlando and the landmarks of central Florida namely Legoland, Kennedy Space Center and International Drive.  
Cost: USD 27.99 for general admission and USD 32.49 for VIP Experience  
Timings: 1 PM till 9 PM from Sunday through Thursday, 1 PM till 10 PM on Friday and 1 PM till 11 PM on Saturday
Highlights: Weather-controlled capsules, light shows, skyline vistas 

14. Gatorland

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Along the Orange Blossom Trail, this theme park sprawling over 110 acres is a wildlife preserve with ‘Old Florida’ vibe. As Alligator Capital of the World, it harbors thousands of crocodiles and alligators within the breeding marsh and organizes feeding and wrestling shows. Watch leucistic alligators at the White Gator Swamp or hop on the Gatorland Express, zip through the Screamin’ Gator Zipline or enjoy at Gator Gully Splash Park.  
Cost: USD 24.99 for adults, USD 15.99 for kids (3-12) for general admission
Timings: 10 AM till 5 PM daily
Highlights: Mile of Monsters, Parrot Playground, Baby Gator Marsh, Very Merry Aviary, White Gator Swamp, Flamingo Island, Emu Enclosure, Breeding Marsh, Jungle Crocs Of The World

15. Wonderworks

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Within the building designed in an upside down angle, WonderWorks emphasizes on edutainment with over a hundred exhibits in a 35000 square-feet area. Traverse through the inverted tunnel and pass through the extreme weather zone, wonder art gallery, light and sound zone, physical challenge zone, imagination hub and space discovery zone. Enjoy a VR adventure at the 4D XD Motion Theatre.  
Cost: USD 34.99 for adults, USD 24.99 for kids (4-12) and seniors above 60 with all access. 
Timings: 10:00 AM to 10:00 PM (Sunday – Thursday) and 10:00 AM to 11:00 PM (Friday-Saturday)
Highlights: WonderWorks Story, Wonder Zones, Glow-in-the-dark ropes course, Outta Control Magic Comedy dinner show, laser tag

16. Orlando StarFlyer

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At the height of 450 feet, Orlando StarFlyer boasts of being the tallest swing ride in the world appealing to all age groups. 24 riders with minimum 44” height can sit on the harnessed double seats to go rotating or upward and downward at maximum 60 mph speed while enjoying the view of the International Drive and its surroundings. More than 240,000 LED lights shine every evening for the light show.      
Cost: USD 10 online, USD 12.21 at booth and USD 7.51 for riders returning on the same day
Timings: 11 AM till 2 PM
Highlights: LED show, swinging at speed
If you thought Orlando is only about celebrity chefs and global cuisine specialists in over 5000 restaurants, you need to check this list –

Budget Places To Eat In Orlando

1. Bartaco

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Starting at USD 2.50 and not exceeding USD 3.50, the twelve taco varieties including portobelio, cauliflower, queso fresco, falafel, rock shrimp and tuna bring the taste of southern California, Uruguay and Brazil.
Timing: 5 PM to 6:30 PM with “Happy Tide” offering special sangria, anchojito verde, beer, wine and cocktails

2. Mrs. Potato

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Near Universal Orlando Resort, it offers Brazilian rosti, empanadas, burgers, steak, grilled chicken and baked potato varieties at USD 8-10.

3. Gringos Locos

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While visiting Orlando on a budget, have burritos, fresh tacos and sides including the special Double D that cost USD 3.39 at any four Downtown locations of this restaurant. At USD 7.99, southeast chicken salad is the most expensive dish.
Timing: 4 PM to 8 PM Happy Hour offering tacos at USD 2 daily and late night specials till 3 AM. 

4. Q’Kenan

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Near Walt Disney World Resort, it offers Latin and Venezuelan specialties below USD 10 i.e. empanadas costing less than USD 4, cachapas costing less than USD 9, daily lunch specials at USD 7.25 and arepas at less than USD 7.

5. Beefy King

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Starting at USD 3.55, you will get sandwiches, corned beef, pastarami and turkey along with the Beefy Spuds and hand-spun milkshake at Beefy King. Combo meals cost around USD 7.75.

6. Sofrito Latin Café

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Taste the Cuban, Colombian and Argentine cuisine near Walt Disney World. Tapas-styled sweet plantains, empanadas and tequeños cost around USD 2-6.

7.Tako Cheena

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Latin American and Asian special tacos including Indian Yellow Curry, Thai Peanut Chicken (USD 3.75), Korean Burrito and Bahn Mi Hot Dog are available here at USD 10 or less. The Indian giant tortilla and unique burritos might cost a little more than USD 10.

8. Hot Dog Heaven

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Offering the best hot dog, this Downtown Orlando restaurant offers various hot dogs with chili, cheddar and jalapeno at less than USD 5 and Chicago-special dogs at less than USD 4 along with sides.

9. Sticky Rice

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Enjoy Laos
street food like tapas-styled meals, small plates like papaya salad, pieng gai and lemongrass pork sausage at below USD 10 and the special sticky rice with savory sauce.

10. Banh Mi Nha Trang

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Flanking Downtown Orlando, this cash-only mom-and-pop eatery is famous for the Vietnamese banh mi sandwich and variegated toppings at only USD 5.50 or less. 

11. Se7en Bites

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Using farm-fresh products and grandma-styled culinary art with a modern flair, it is special for seasonal specialties and the daily Vanilla Bean Bourbon Bacon Moonpie. Have biscuits and gravy, mac ‘n cheese, scones, cookies, cake and pies at less than USD 10.
Timings: Breakfast and lunch are offered throughout the week, brunch is offered on Saturday-Sunday, Chicken Pot Pie available from 11:30 AM on Thursday-Friday

12. Beth’s Burger Bar

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At Universal Boulevard, South Orlando and Downtown Orlando, it lets you choose your type and size of burger with favorite sauces, toppings and sides. At less than USD 10, you can have the special Double D Challenge or Peanut Butter Burger for USD 5.24 or garlic parm fries and handspun milkshakes.

13. Mamak Asian Street Food

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With a fusion of Malaysian, Indonesian, Korean, Vietnamese and Thai cuisine, here you will find Yangzhou Fried Rice, Korean Ramen, Satay etc. small plates cost USD 4-6 while full-sized plates cost USD 8-10.

14. King Bao

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Sweet and savory steamed fluffy buns like Hogzilla, Tarzan and Veganville at below USD 4 are the specialties with various fillings.

15. Pom Pom’s Teahouse & Sandwicheria

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Beside Orlando Executive Airport, this local favorite offers loose-leaf tea, sweets, side salads and sandwiches including the famous Thanksgiving sandwich of Mama Ling Ling at USD 9.50.

16. Lazy Moon Pizza

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Play bocce, enjoy drink and get slices starting at just USD 4.45 or create your own pizza. Specialties include Boxcar Willy and beer at USD 5.50, the Buff at USD 6.50, Calzones at USD 8 and El Fidel at USD 7.

You can consider many hotels during your trip, such as Barefoot’n Resort, Hampton Inn Orlando, Drury Inn & Suites Orlando, Staybridge Suites Orlando etc that are moderately priced. While visiting Orlando on a budget, the following accommodations can be considered –

Budget Places To Stay In Orlando

1. Avanti International Resort

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This budget hotel from International Drive is just about 3 miles from Universal and SeaWorld. Being family-friendly, it features fitness center, pool, pool bar, coffee bar, game room, free parking, shuttle service etc. While premium rooms have desks and Jacuzzi, guest rooms have coffee-maker, microwave and refrigerator.    
Cost: USD 83.95 per night

2. Rosen Inn International

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Only 1.8 miles from the Universal Studios, 4.5 miles from SeaWorld and 13 miles from Magic Kingdom, this family-friendly accommodation is equipped with outdoor pool, sushi bar, steakhouse, pub, 24-hour deli, business center, arcade, complimentary shuttle service and free parking while guest rooms come with refrigerators and microwaves.  
Cost: USD 73.99 per night

3. Clarion Suites Kissimmee-Orlando Maingate

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Only 4.5 Miles from Animal Kingdom and 7.5 miles from Magic Kingdom, this hotel offers complimentary shuttle service to malls and theme parks, free parking, outdoor pool, free breakfast, self-serviced laundry, restaurant, bar and rooms equipped with refrigerators and microwaves.
Cost: USD 97.81 per night

4. SpringHill Suites by Marriott Orlando Lake Buena Vista in Marriott Village

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This is an all-suite facility about 4.5 miles from SeaWorld and 7 miles from Magic Kingdom, it offers complimentary shuttle service to theme park, free breakfast, outdoor pool, gym, free parking, café and guest rooms with sitting areas, microwaves and refrigerators.
Cost: USD 100 per night

5. Hampton Inn Orlando International Drive/Convention Center

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Only 10 minutes from International Drive, 14 miles from Magic Kingdom and 3 miles from SeaWorld and Universal, this hotel offers complimentary shuttle service, heated outdoor pool, free breakfast, free breakfast and rooms with iron and coffee maker.
Cost: USD 56.62 per night

6. Drury Inn & Suites near Universal Orlando Resort™

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Only 2 miles from Universal and 4 miles from SeaWorld, this hotel offers free breakfast, free shuttle service, free parking, fitness center, indoor and outdoor pool, free snacks and beverages in the evening and rooms with refrigerators and microwaves.
Cost: USD 89.19 per night

7. Staybridge Suites Orlando Airport South

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Only 3.5 miles from SeaWorld and 7.5 miles from Magic Kingdom, this hotel offers apartment-styled rooms with fully equipped kitchen and offers free shuttle service, free parking, games room, outdoor pool, fitness center, weekday happy hours and self-serviced laundry.
Cost: USD 90.93 per night

8. Aloft Orlando Downtown

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Within half a mile from Amway Center, 9.5 miles from Universal, 15 miles from Seaworld and 22 miles from Magic Kingdom, this posh hotel comes with several restaurants, fitness center, pool, free parking and rooms with floor-to-ceiling windows, refrigerators and coffee makers.
Cost: USD 105.45 per night
If you want to add to the list of eateries, accommodations or budget experiences in Orlando, let us know in the comments. Orlando on a budget will make your trip wonderful.

This post was published by Rachana Jain

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