*Long trips (10-14 nights) are more cost effective if this is a "once in a lifetime" or infrequent experience in Orlando. Skip paying extra on ParkHopper passes to teh parks, and instead purchase the 10 day pass to Disney for just a few dollars more than the 5 day passes! Or hit all the big theme parks, including Universal and Sea World or Legoland! Enjoy time at smaller venues like Gatorland or Wild Florida, and play at beaches on either side of the Floridian peninsula to experience both Gulf and Atlantic waters. When airfare is expensive and/or weather or crowds prohibit lengthy days at the parks, a longer stay may be worth your time and money! Our family prefers to travel for these extended trips, as we are travelling from across the country, and we often lose a full day of our trip in travel both to and from home to Orlando.
*Ormond (just north of Daytona; Atlantic ocean 1 hr 15 min): FREE parking with great facilities for families! Shaded picnic tables, kids' playground & splash pad, large CLEAN bathrooms, snack bar, lifeguard on duty, bigger waves/breakers, firmer sand. *Daytona (Atlantic ocean 1 hr 10 min): Hip scene with great beachside shopping and restaurants, bigger waves/breakers. Head south of Daytona on I-95 to exit 256 toward Port Orange for quiter beaches to the north, and public beaches to the south. *Sand Key (Gulf; 1 hr 30 min): We skip through Clearwater city, which is more crowded, but has some great restaurants, shopping, and boat tours.
*Watch the weather, and schedule a water day for the forecasted warmest day of your stay. Be sure to spend a day at the villa (especially during a particularly hot day), cooling off in the media room and in the pool! Beach days and days spent playing at the villa are needed respite anyway; you'll enjoy your next day at the theme park more after you've had a day off your feet in the water! For many people, two days in a row at parks is ideal, with a day off in between, and then another couple of theme parks days. The themed water parks at Universal, Disney, and Sea World are also lots of fun, and there is an H20 waterslide park about a mile from our properties! *Buy your theme park passes online in advance, so you're not wasting precious time in the entrance lines!
Crowds are lowest during September, early November, early December, May, and in January and February (excluding the government holidays of Civil Rights and President's Day). But keep in mind, Disneyworld and Universal Studios are never empty. The very quietest months at the theme parks tend to be September and May, as families with school-aged children settle back into their school time routines in September, or postpone travel until school is out after May. January and February have some weeks that have relatively low crowds, but watch for scheduled events like the Disney-sponsored marathons or team sports competitions, when Disney successfully brings a few more guests to the parks in an otherwise relatively quiet couple of months.
"Ideal weather" is defined very individually! Coming from long, cold winters in Utah, my favorite Florida weather is between November through March. My Texas family finds those months chillier, and they enjoy the warmer shoulder seasons of summer, including early fall and late spring, and evenings in the summer. Are YOU warm- or cold-blooded?!!! OCTOBER, NOVEMBER, FEBRUARY and MARCH may be favorite months for many guests. Humidity is lower during these cooler months, but weather is still typically 70s to mid-80s Fahrenheit during the day. Beach weather is usually warm enough for swim suits, but only the braver tourist will immerse in the water. Usually suitable for wading waist-deep in the ocean.