Fall break is right around the corner. Maybe you want to use the few days off to recover from the first half of the semester – there is no same in a staycation. But, for the adventurous, last-minute planner’s out there are numerous options to indulge in a little Florida vacation. With this Hurricane season in full swing, current weather predications suggest fall break’s weekend will be plagued with light rain. Though not the best for a beach trip to the keys or airboat ride through the Everglades, you can set your sights on Orlando – city of theme parks and home to Halloween Horror Nights.
Depending on your budget you can chose to go to Universal Studios and Disney or just stick to one (Universal is cheaper), but at just a four-and-a-half-hour drive, Orlando offers a wide range of fun activities you won’t find in Miami.
Start by driving (or taking a bus for just $40 roundtrip). Sometimes half the fun of a trip is the journey there and you might as well take your time. Stock up on some Pub Subs, 7/11 slushies and your favorite snacks and before you know it you’ll be in Orlando.
Before you cruise through SoFlo’s glorious swampland, take the 95 up to Palm Beach and have a leisurely lunch downtown. On your way out to Orlando, you can also make a stop at Jupiter Inlet Lighthouse, a towering structure that is part viewpoint part museum.
Once in Orlando, check in to your overnight amenities. If you don’t have a family member or friend who lives in the area, the city has a few cheap hotels that you can get for about $60 a night for four people – meaning about $15 per person a night.
Thursday night is your best option for Halloween Horror Nights because it is cheaper than Friday and, assuming you’ll have nightmares following, you won’t have a long drive ahead of you the next day opposed to if you went Saturday. If you aren’t familiar, Universal’s Halloween Horror Nights is a series of haunted houses and scare rooms designed in a maze-like fashion and designed to mimic a real-life horror movie. This year’s scarefest has an 80s horror theme and is the largest the park has ever hosted with 10 houses and five scare zones. You’ll walk through a house with Christmas lights and the Upside Down — a direct nod to the set of Stranger Things — maze your way through the world of Poltergeist, run into Michael Myers, get lost in a rusted Carnival and more.
Pro Tip: buy your tickets ahead of time online. Thursday night tickets are priced at $62.99.
For the next two days, you’ll have the opportunity to explore a Disney or Universal Park. Both Disney and Universal offer park prices for about $100 to $130 a day (even offering some discount if you buy a two-day pass). With Disney, you have the option to step into some of the most classic parks in the world, including Magic Kingdom, Animal Kingdom, Epcot – which is the cheapest – and MGM Studios. Though Disney has a few rollercoasters, the parks are more known for the performances and overall experiences. If you’d rather feel transported into another world, catch a musical performance, or take it easier on the rides, Disney is a better option. Universal, on the other hand, features two major theme parks – Universal Studios Florida and Islands of Adventure. Universal is most famous for its renowned Harry Potter experience and epic thrill rides. If you love Harry Potter or prefer to spend a day on the large coasters, Universal may be the better option for you!
Note: Remember Orlando will probably have some light rain, so plan accordingly.
If you haven’t already explored Disney Springs (formerly Downtown Disney) at night – which you should definitely consider, stop into the plaza of stores and restaurants on your way back to Miami. Sometimes the best weekends are spent winding down and Disney Springs offers things for every type of person, whether you are a foodie, a shopaholic or just love to sightsee. Remember you still have a four hour plus ride ahead of you and enjoy your last moments of relaxation!