36 hours may not sound like much, but I always like to take advantage of my time in new or different places as much as I can. Kale and I stopped in Orlando this Fall and had such a great time in our few hours there, so I wanted to share all of the things you can do in 36 hours in Orlando!
What to Do with 36 Hours in Orlando
1. Go to an Amusement Park
Whichever park you choose, you can’t go wrong. This is without a doubt my first choice on the list of things to do in Orlando if I have at least one full day, and 36 hours is plenty! I’d choose only one park (or park within a park) because it’s better to have more time than feel rushed. Especially if you’re traveling before and after, the parks can be a bit of a whirlwind. It’s better to have some time to relax instead of trying to do all the things to get your money’s worth.
Disney vs. Universal Studios
A full blog post to come on this subject, but I do think ultimately it comes down to your affinity for the characters, whether or not you have kids with you, and really what you’re looking to get out of your experience.
I always love Disney, but it can be overwhelming to try to do in one day. If you choose Disney, I’d recommend choosing a park or maybe two if you are going to be there all day. See the best things to do as adults at Disney here! In general, the food is better, rides are more attuned to children, and the park itself is a whole experience from the cast members always in character to the honey bees on the caution tape in the Winnie the Pooh ride.
If you choose Universal Studios, I do think you can do both parks in one day, though it may also depend on the time of year. When we went in September. the lines were almost non-existent. Universal is more adult-focused with more alcohol and larger rides, many rides require kids to be at least 48ins tall, and an overall older genre of themes between Marvel Superheros, Harry Potter World, and Jurrasic Park. As an adult with no kids, this part of my experience was superior to Disney purely due to the lack of strollers to dodge! Check out my tips for visiting Universal Studios in the fall.
Pricing for both Universal and Disney varies by date, but the general range is from $115-200 for Universal and $109-220 for Disney for a one-day ticket depending on the day and whether you choose a park-hopper pass.
2. See the Kennedy Space Center
The Kennedy Space Center is a really different experience for everyone. I remember going when I was younger with my family and thinking it was really cool. It’s a large property, so plan for a few hours for this experience at least. There are different packages you can buy, but they all require the bus to take you around the property. This isn’t a cheap experience by any means, so be prepared to spend at least $90 on tickets and more if you do any additional experiences.
3. Enjoy the Pool
A cheap and fun thing to do in Orlando is to hang by the pool! Even though Texas has similar weather to Florida, I always enjoy just laying by the pool more when I’m not at home. Don’t forget the sunscreen!
4. Drive Out to the Coast
It might sound crazy to drive somewhere else when you’re only in town for 36hours, but I totally recommend renting a convertible and driving out to the coast! First, it shouldn’t matter too much what time of year. I’m pretty sure that even in December people drop the tops and drive! The coast is less than two hours away in either direction. You can hit the Atlantic Ocean in less than an hour, and the Gulf of Mexico in an hour and a half. We went to Cape Canaveral and Cocoa Beach area and had the best time! Even for a day, it might just be the beach fix you didn’t know you needed.
5. Enjoy Disney Springs
Ahh shopping, now we’re speaking my language! I always think of shopping when I think of Disney Springs, but that is definitely not all there is to do there! There are great restaurants, a movie theatre, and lots of live entertainment both free and paid. You can stop in a bar or club, grab great food, or just walk in and out of stores up and down the boardwalk and you’ll come across some fun experiences. Some of my favorite stops include the Disney Store, Lego Store, Pandora, Kate Spade which both include exclusive Disney merch not sold elsewhere!
6. Hang out at CityWalk
The self-proclaimed Epicenter of Awesome is home to one of my favorite donut shops, Voodoo Donuts, Margaritaville, and something called the Chocolate Emporium which I’ve never been to but would really like to visit. It’s a fun spot to hang out, but very commercial. You can sing karaoke, listen to live music, play mini-golf, or see a movie. This is again, more of an adult’s place due to all of the bars, but still a fun spot during the day with plenty of activities for all ages.
7. See a Show
This would technically fall under CityWalk and Disney Springs, but I wanted to pull it out because there are some of the best shows in Orlando! With 36 hours in Orlando, you’ll have at least one night, so if you can make it work, a show is a great way to experience what the city has to offer!
I saw Cirque du Soleil here several times, and in Spring 2020 there will be a new Cirque du Soleil show in town! The tent is at Disney Springs and I think that Cirque du Soleil is always a must-do if you have the opportunity.
Another fun show would be the Blue Man Group! The show is a comedy, theatre, concert, all in one, and such a fun time! They put on a cool interactive show and “multi-sensory experience.” However, one caveat would be that if you’ve seen the show recently, I do not believe they change it often, so it may be the same in multiple cities.
I hope this post was helpful if you’re traveling to Orlando soon! These activities are great for anything from a weekend getaway to a work trip layover.