Orlando on a Budget: Getting the Most Out of the City (Not Your Bank Account)

Believe it or not, you don’t have to hold a theme park ticket to have fun in Orlando, but you do have to be a little creative. Lucky for you, you have me — a seasoned Orlando explorer and expert penny-pincher.

The National Conference Committee has planned a program that provides time to venture into the city without missing valuable programs. So, make the most of your free time (and your money) by taking a look at some of my O-town favorites.

Image courtesy of www.premiumoutlets.com.

If shopping is your idea of a good time (I’m lookin’ at you, Carrie Bradshaw), then the Orlando Premium Outlets will have exactly what you need. If you’re looking for a bargain, the factory outlet stores at this mall have it all and more.

For attendees looking to get in touch with their creative side, Orlando offers a variety of artistic and cultural venues. The Orlando Museum of Art boasts contemporary, classical and cultural art from all over the world. However, the best part is it treats college students to a special discount — just $7 for admission.

Those wanting to be a little more adventurous might enjoy the Ripley’s Believe It or Not! Orlando Odditorium. The “odditorium” takes visitors through 16 different interesting exhibits, including actual shrunken heads and a portrait of singer Beyonce made entirely from candy. Save money by purchasing tickets online for just $16.99.

Image courtesy of disney.go.com.

Personally, my favorite way to spend money is on food. After a day of sessions and networking, you will probably feel the same way, too. Downtown Disney, located just a short drive from the Conference hotel, has a number of restaurants for all types of budgets. From the Latin flare of Pollo Campero to the Asian fusion cuisine of the Wolfgang Puck Café, Downtown Disney is both convenient and delicious.

If you do want to go to the Walt Disney World theme parks, check out the Disney discount opportunities for Conference attendees. A ticket for one park with admission after 4 p.m. is only $50.

If you have questions about any of these ideas or need additional recommendations, check the hospitality booth near the registration area at Conference. The volunteers at this table can provide you with suggestions for food and fun.

Though I’ve given you a few ideas, the absolute best way to have a great time is to try things out for yourself. If you find an unusual restaurant, don’t be afraid to eat there. Or, if you discover a quirky roadside attraction, feel free to stop and take a look around. Just like with Conference, what you gain from Orlando is up to you.

What are you planning to do in your spare time in Orlando? How do you save money while on trips?

This is a guest post from 2011 National Conference Committee Member Edward Bennett.

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