12 Cost Saving Tips to Stretch Travel Budgets While Having Fun in the International Drive Resort Are

Let’s be honest, planning a vacation in this economy has become a little more of a challenge as everyone is looking for bargains, value-added amenities, hot deals and just plain ways to stretch the budget to make a family vacation fun and not a thing of the past!
And with all the economic stress, vacations and the chance to get away are more important than ever.  It doesn't have to be a long vacation...just an extended weekend or last minute getaway can be healthy and provide a change of attitude! 
That is where the International Drive Resort Area comes in! So, turn off the TV, get away from the bad news and start planning a vacation that will not break the bank.
In the heart of Orlando’s tourism district, International Drive has always offered accommodations, dining, attractions and shopping for every budget. And special deals are always available by searching this site.
Home to SeaWorld Orlando, Discovery Cove, Aquatica Sea World’s Park, Wet ‘n Wild, Universal Studios Florida and Islands of Adventure, it is easy to see why the area is one of the most popular vacation destinations in the world. And don’t forget the area’s smaller family attractions, nonstop entertainment, great dining and world class shopping. Check for special offers at all area attractions.
So how can a family trim its budget into an affordable vacation?
Luann Brooks, executive director of the International Drive Master Transit & Improvement District, says that there has never been a better time to visit the area.
“Our partners are very sensitive to the fact that people really need a vacation and they are looking for ways to save money and stretch their budgets as far as possible. There are many great deals that are available for those willing to do a little research and planning. Our website is the best place to start looking for great deals on accommodations, dining and the attractions.”
Visitors should consider the following 12 tips to save dollars when planning a vacation to the I-Drive area:
1. Save on transportation costs. Park the car. Take the trolley! Gas prices continue to fluctuate and who wouldn’t like to save some $$$$ and eliminate the stress of driving? Catch a fun, relaxing ride on the I-Ride Trolley and go to major Orlando attractions, accommodations, shopping and dining for only $2.00.
The I-Ride Trolley Service operates 13 trolleys with service from 8 a.m. until 10:30 p.m. daily. Costs: Single cash fare, $2.00 per ride; child cash fare, $1.00 per ride (ages 3 to 9 with paying adult); senior fare 65 and over, .25 cents per ride. Unlimited ride passes are available: (one-day pass, $5.00 per person); (three-day pass, $7.00 per person); (five-day pass, $9.00 per person); (seven-day pass, $12.00 per person) (fourteen-day pass, $18.00 per person). 
Passes may be purchased online, at hotel guest services desks and at listed locations through out the I-Drive area. Each I-Ride Trolley seats 54 riders plus two wheelchair positions and an ADA-specified hydraulic lift system. For detailed, downloadable Trolley maps click here.
Tip: In addition to saving money, save time when you arrive by purchasing your Trolley passes before you leave home! Just visit the I-Drive Store and you will be ready to hop onboard when you arrive!
2. Check out “hot deals” on this web site. Area accommodations, attractions and restaurants list their current hot deals online.
3. Shop online for the best deals on accommodations. Check and compare the best rates and book reservations online.
4. Ask about special room rates. When calling a hotel for reservations, ask about the property’s “best” rates for the season, AARP, AAA.
5. Family dining without going broke. It can be done! Have the largest meal at lunch. Prices are less. Then go light on dinner. Check for coupons (see tip #4) that allow kids to eat free, two for one meals and other deals. When looking for a restaurant, ask about special offers that might be available.
More: When booking your hotel, select one that offers free breakfast. Have a hearty start to the day, snack for lunch and use a coupon for dinner. Make sure the room has a refrigerator for storing drinks and snacks! Tip: Check out a meal at the world’s largest McDonald’s PlayPlace! Yes, the largest in the world. It’s an attraction in itself!
6. Cost-saving coupons. Be sure to check out the more than $500 worth of coupons on the I-Ride Trolley map and in the Official Visitors Guide. The map can be downloaded here or you may pick up one when you arrive. They are available onboard any Trolley, guest service desks at accommodations and at Trolley pass sales locations.
Tip: Request a Visitors Guide to help plan your trip by filing out your address information online.
7. Enjoy your vacation even more with the Orlando Magicard, a free discount card that includes many discounted properties within the I-Drive area.  For information: http://www.visitorlando.com/discounts-and-tickets/free-magicard-orlando-discount-card/.
8. Save $$$ at the theme parks. Check websites and online outlets for discount coupons at the theme parks. Many have two for one tickets or dollars off family discounts depending upon the time of year. Tip: In your vacation planning, have a day at one of the major theme parks and then have a day at one of the areas smaller family parks that are less expensive but lots of fun! Ripley’s Believe it or Not, Fun Spot Action Park, Magical Midway, WonderWorks…are just a few! And when was the last time your family went bowling? World Bowling Center in the heart of I-Drive has 32 lanes of nonstop family fun!
9. For the best savings: travel in the off season. Late spring and fall are traditionally the value periods where visitors find the best rates. The kids are in school. Weather is nice. Plus, lines are shorter.
10. Explore the cultural side of Orlando. Take a break from the theme parks and visit one of the area’s museums…and save some money! The Morse Museum in Winter Park (www.morsemuseum.org) offers visitors free admission to see its fabulous collection of Louis Comfort Tiffany glass on Friday from 4-8 p.m., November through April. Visitors should also visit http://www.redchairproject.com/redchair/about.aspx for details on the area's cultural events and discounts.
11. Combine entertainment with dining! Take advantage of the many themed dining venues along I-Drive. Have a meal while being entertained: Pirates Dinner Adventure, Sleuths Mystery Dinner Shows, Outta Control Magic Comedy Dinner Show, Mahahiki Luau at SeaWorld are just a few.
12. Shopping savings until you drop! Every vacation has to include a little shopping! Save lots of $$$ shopping at I-Drive’s famous outlets…all accessible by the I-Drive Trolley! In addition to the regular outlet savings, check with visitor services at each location for special coupons and special promotions for further savings. Don’t miss these outlets: Orlando Premium Outlets - I-Drive, Orlando Premium Outlets - Vineland Ave, Festival Bay Mall.
07/2011 (Updated 10/31/2013)