Planning a trip to Orlando? This 3 days in Orlando itinerary is a great place for you to start planning your trip. From theme parks to local attractions you will not want to miss!
Thank you to Visit Orlando for hosting us
Orlando, Florida is located in Central Florida. And thanks to the theme parks is has become one of the most popular destinations for travelers in the world. Orlando has so much to offer we created this guide to help you plan the ideal trip for your family. Here are another 21 reasons to visit Orlando. I will share information about theme parts as well as less known attractions that you will love too.
Orlando is the perfect place for a family vacation, even if you don't have kids. Kurt and I have had annual passes to either Disney or Universal almost every year since we have been together, which is almost 15 years.
Whether you are looking to go to a theme park like Disney, SeaWorld and Universal Studios or you want to experience something new there is something for everyone.
This 3 day Orlando itinerary will help you plan the perfect trip for you and your family. It is possible to spend all 3 days at the theme parks, but I want to make sure you don't miss any of the fun Orlando has to offer.
Day 1 – Theme Park of Your Choice
We are lucky to go to Orlando at least 4-5 times a year, some years even more often. We generally pick our theme park based on why we are going to Orlando. For example, if we are celebrating someone's birthday, they get to pick the park. Or if there is a fun seasonal event or decorations that helps us decide.
We love all the theme parks, so it is hard to pick a favorite. Instead I will share with you our favorite things about each of the parks. That way you can pick which theme park is best for your family. There is no wrong choice here. We like to start with a theme park when we are still fresh and have walked less than 20K steps the day before.
SeaWorld Orlando features 200 acres of sea-themed rides and the world's most popular marine life. If you love rollercoasters and/or animals, this is the park for you. As a kid I wanted to be a dolphin trainer thanks to trips to SeaWorld.
Don't miss their dolphin and orca shows. They are the highlight for me every time.
If you love animals I also recommend their penguin experiences. Antarctica: Empire of the Penguin which includes a ride and close encounter with the penguins, just be prepared to get chilly.
Adventure seekers will love their rollercoasters like
• MANTA, a thrilling coaster, allows riders to seamlessly transition from watching rays in underwater flight to the sensation of actually being one
• The park's new river-rafting ride, Infinity Falls, which includes the tallest drop of its kind into churning whitewater
Slade was in heaven with the Sesame Street neighborhood. He did not want to leave Elmo.
They also have great seasonal events:
If you are traveling to Orlando in the fall you do not want to miss their SeaWorld Halloween Spooktacular. The event is included in your regular ticket price. All you need to buy is a small trick or treat bag for less than $5. You may also want to bring the kids Halloween costumes.
If traveling in November or December, we love their Holiday events too. You do not want to miss their ice skating show. Who knew that ice skating outdoors would happen in Florida next to a lake?
Universal Studios, Islands of Adventure and Universal's Volcano Bay Water Theme Park
This was our first time to Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure in a decade. We have been waiting to take the kids until B was tall enough for some of the rollercoasters.
The park has changed a lot over the years, thanks to the Harry Potter areas in Universal and Islands of Adventure!
I have to confess that I have not read any of the books and I have only seen one movie, but B is Harry Potter obsessed. You do not have to be a big fan to appreciate exploring Hogsmeade in Islands of Adventure and Diagon Alley in Universal Studios. Do not miss them. Some of our favorite parts included
- Escape from Gringotts
- Ride The Hogwarts Express Train Between Parks - skip walking and get transported into the movie on The Hogwarts Express.
- The interactive wand experiences
If you love movies, TVs and Travel you will also love the other parts of the parks. I was in awe of how realistic the different areas were like:
- Springfield from The Simpsons truly transports you into the show including Moe's bar. The other areas of the parks and rides are great as well.
- San Francisco
- Back to the Future Train, car and even characters interactions
Slade really enjoyed Despicable Me Minion Mayhem and Dr. Suess Landing even though as a 1 year old there are not many ride options.
We had the express passes that allow you to get on the rides faster and I highly recommend them. You can purchase them or stay at a Universal hotel to get access to them.
If I had to pick one Disney park it would be Magic Kingdom. No matter how many times I have been walking on Main Street it always makes me feel like a kid again.
B and Kurt love Mine train roller coaster. I enjoy the parades, which are now cavalcades, basically short parades that are not at any specific time. We cannot wait for Character interactions to come back.
We also love to add in a character meal to make sure the kids get to see their favorite characters all in the comfort of AC.
Day 1 - Evening Plans
There are so many things to do at night. We often stay for the fireworks at the parks, but if you are only in Orlando for a long weekend, I recommend that you explore Universal City Walk or Disney Springs. They are both free to attend (minus parking at Universal before 6pm) and offer great dining options and shopping.
If you are in town during the fall or winter, you may want to enjoy one of these seasonal events at Magic Kingdom. These are ticketed events that are not offered every night so check the dates. They also often sell out so you will want to pre-purchase your tickets. The events have changed slightly for 2021 and have updated names but these posts will give you an idea of what to expect.
We go to Disney Springs almost every trip to Orlando. It is a great spot to grab dinner. Some of our favorites include:
- The Polite Pig - We all love their BBQ options.
- T-Rex - a dinosaur-themed restaurant that also has a Build a Bear in it
- Chef Art Smith's Homecomin'
- Planet Hollywood
If you have Lego lovers, you will not want to miss the Lego store at Disney Springs and their photo opportunities outside.
We also love to go to the Disney store for souvenirs. If you are there over the holidays check out this post for what to expect special for Holidays at Disney Springs
If you are staying at a Disney resort, they will offer complimentary transportation to Disney Springs.
They also have a fun bowling alley and lots of nightly entertainment. I recommend checking their calendar for special events taking place. They often have concerts by the bay.
Evening at Universal City Walk
You walk through City Walk from the parking lot to the Universal parks. So, if you go to Universal you may want to plan dinner there. And wait to buy souvenirs.
Universal City Walk offers great nightlife, live music and entertainment, fantastic restaurants and shopping.
We like to eat at
- Jimmy Buffet’s Margaritaville
- The Hard Rock Cafe
- Save some room for VooDoo donuts
- If you have time the Blue Man Group performance is an amazing show!
Don't forget to check the calendar for special events at Universal’s City Walk as they offer lots of variety .
Morning - Pool Time
We love to schedule time to enjoy the hotel pool. If you enjoyed a park on the first day of your trip it is possible you walked 20-30k steps. After days like that I love a slower morning by the pool.
The other perk is that many families may wait and enjoy the pool in the later afternoon so you may have the entire pool to yourselves depending on the time of the year.
Morning - Crayola Experience Orlando
Or head to Crayola Experience in the Florida Mall. They offer 26 hands-on attractions, including the new Meltdown attraction that was a huge hit for both kids. Slade is only one, but he really got into it too. I personally loved the star in your very own coloring page where could can add yourself to a coloring page. B was most excited about the name and wrap your own crayon. They have more than 70,000 square feet of wonderful, whimsical adventures.
The Florida Mall also has other great shopping options the American Girl Doll store.
Option 1 - ICON Park
Head over to ICON Park. There is so much to do from experiences to dinning and shopping. Make sure you experience
- Madame Tussauds Wax Museum
- SEA LIFE Orlando Aquarium
- The Wheel
The world’s most famous celebrity wax attraction and it provides visitors at ICON Park with the ultimate fame experience with its signature red carpet treatment.
As a mom I loved that sections of the attraction taught about historical events like man walking on the moon.
SEA LIFE Orlando Aquarium
SEA LIFE offers a wave of underwater adventures with underwater species from around the world. They are home to over 5,000 creatures including colorful fish, seahorses and jellyfish.
We all enjoyed walking through with turtles and sharks in their immersive 360-degree ocean tunnel.
The Wheel at ICON Park
An iconic 400-foot-tall observation wheel at the heart of ICON Park, provides breathtaking views of Central Florida in all directions within 30 fully enclosed, air-conditioned glass capsules.
We went up mid-day but if your schedule allows, I would recommend going close to sunset. I think the views would be amazing. And they have a bar right before you board making it a great happy hour spot.
The Wheel is a massive climate controlled Ferris wheel that holds up to 10 people. They also let you connect your phone so you can jam out to your favorite songs all while observing the city and skyline!
After you can get lunch or dinner at Icon Park. Or it is a short drive to Universal City Walk or Disney Springs
On the last of your 3 days in Orlando I recommend heading back to another theme park.
Orlando Travel Guide
Now that you know how to spend 3 days in Orlando, I want to share more information that will help you plan your trip. Like when to visit Orlando, how to get around, and where to stay.
When to Visit Orlando
Florida is considered the sunshine state and for good reason. We are lucky to have sunny days year round. The Winter and Spring are the most popular times of year to visit Orlando. Since Orlando is a family destination traffic is especially busy over school breaks like Spring break.
The weather is more often milder in the winter and spring making it a great time to travel to Orlando.
If you want to come when it is less crowded consider coming when school is in session like the middle of November, beginning of December and most of January and February.
You can definitely come in the Summer and Fall. Just make sure to pack things like cooking towels and personal fans to keep everyone cool. Most afternoons you can experience a thunderstorm.
Don't worry there are lots of rides and dining options in the AC. And afternoon storms often clear out the parks making for shorter lines after the storm or a needed break back to your hotel.
When we go in the summer we try to get to the parks before they open and enjoy the park in the morning when it is coolest. Then head back to the hotel for a break and some pool time. Then Kurt and B like to head back out in the evening once the sun is down while I put Slade down at his normal bedtime.
If you are not from Florida, you may not be familiar with Hurricane season. Hurricane season is June through the beginning of November. While Orlando does not get hit by many hurricanes it is possible.
Getting Around Orlando
Orlando is a big city that is really spread out. Luckily the highway system makes it easy to get around and the theme parks are not too far away from each other.
Many hotels offer transportation to the parks and other attractions so that is always a good option.
There are also lots of Uber's available if you don't want to wait for a tram.
Renting a car is also an option. Just keep in mind that you have to pay to park at lots of places. The theme parks can be as much as $30 for parking.
Where to Stay in Orlando
Orlando has lots of hotel options.
For this trip we stayed at Lake Buena Vista Resort Village & Spa located at 8113 Resort Village Dr, Orlando, FL 32821
This condo resort provides you with two-, three- and four-bedroom options just 2 miles from the Walt Disney World Resort. We love the pool that features a zero-entry pool and a pirate shipwreck complete with a water slide, jacuzzi-style hot tubs, tumbling waterfalls, poolside loungers and hammocks.
We loved having the full kitchen and two bedrooms. Their soaking tub also had me thinking that every theme park trip must have a soaking tub. It was perfect for a relaxing bath as well as a fun bath for both our kids.
Outlet mall stores are right within the village, and dining and spa options complete the excellent features of the resort.
Did you know that Cocoa Beach is just an hour East of Orlando? You can easily add a couple of days onto your trip with a trip to the beach and Kennedy Space Center. We did it over Spring Break and loved the variety it added to our trip.
We hope you found this 3-day Orlando itinerary really helpful. Orlando has so much to offer you will certainly want to come more than once.
Once you have finalized your trip you can use this guide for packing.