How It Pays to Be A Floridian

Florida-signPlanning fun trips or activities can become stressful when costs start adding up, but there are ways to be frugal and have a great time with family and friends while staying close to home. Living in Florida is a perfect example of how you can enjoy yourself while taking advantage of the countless resident deals and free, local events.

When most people think of Florida, they think of beaches, sunblock, and summer vacations. Many areas of Florida draw in tourists for a variety of reasons, whether for the amusement parks or the clear ocean waters. Orlando is a primary destination because of its theme park prowess, but counties like Hillsborough and  Broward are popular, too, probably because of their quality beaches.

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Tourists understand the benefits of traveling to Florida, but residents get to enjoy several perks of their own. While the proximity to major attractions is an advantage in itself, people living in Florida get additional benefits, including some awesome monetary discounts. Here’s a look at exactly how (and where) it pays to be a Floridian.

Florida Hot Spots

While many cities in Florida have beautiful beaches and friendly locals, some areas in particular draw the biggest crowds.

Illustration 02_It Pays to Be A Floridian Florida as a whole has a lot to offer, but there are particular Florida hot spots (pun intended) that are home to impressive, widely known attractions. Not only are Floridians close to these first-rate destinations, but they can also take advantage of discounts that are often designed exclusively for residents. Let’s look at the three most popular areas in Florida and the benefits they offer locals.

Central Florida

disney-signOrlando is often called the theme park capital of the world. Millions of people trek to Central Florida to ride Walt Disney World’s Space Mountain at Magic Kingdom or taste a Butterbeer at Universal’s Islands of Adventure. Florida residents not only get the benefit of closer proximity to these fun rides and experiences, but they get to enjoy them at a cheaper price.

WALT DISNEY WORLD RESORT

Resident Deals

Normal

Florida Resident

Single Park 3-Day Pass

$262 + tax

$179 + tax

$83.00 difference

Single Park 4-Day Pass

$279 + tax

$199 + tax

$80.00 difference

Annual Pass

$609+

$494.16

$114.84 difference

disney-quoteObviously it’s advantageous to save any amount of money, but Disney offers Florida residents some especially impressive discounts for multiple-day visits. It’s just another great excuse for me to eat my body weight in Mickey bars.

Florida residents also get the option of a monthly payment program, which allows them to break down the cost of select annual passes over a period of 12 months. For example, if a family of four purchased an annual pass for each person, they could spend $32.68 per month per person after the down payment.

Other theme parks offer deals, too, even if they’re not as dramatic as Disney’s.

UNIVERSAL ORLANDO RESORT

Resident Deals

Normal

Florida Resident

 

Single Park 2-Day Pass

$125.99

$112.99

$13 difference

Single Park 3-Day Pass

$140.99

$128.99

$12 difference

Annual Pass (Power Pass)

$199.99 + tax

$174.99 + tax

$25 difference

LEGOLAND FLORIDA

Resident Deals

Normal

Florida Resident

 

Annual Pass (Age 13+)

$129 + tax

$99 + tax

$30 difference

Florida residents are valued guests at these theme parks, and the discounts help tempt them to return to the rides again and again.

Central West

There’s another major theme park worth visiting, but it’s about an hour west from Cinderella’s castle. Busch Gardens features formidable rollercoasters and amazing animal exhibits, and fortunately, it also offers some Floridian perks.

busch-gardens

Florida residents can purchase a Fun Card, which allows them to go to Busch Gardens for a day (and pay for that one day) and then attend an unlimited number of times for free until the end of the calendar year. Basically, it’s buy-one-get-three-hundred-and-sixty-four if you happen to go on New Year’s Day. Also, if a Florida resident buys an annual pass, a program called EZ-Pay provides the option to pay for the pass in monthly increments.

But there’s more to the Central West area than theme parks, like beautiful beaches you can spend the day at for free. For example, Clearwater Beach has been named a top beach on multiple lists, including being named No. 5 on Travel Channel’s Top 10 U.S. Beaches list and being named No. 18 on TripAdvisor’s Travelers’ Choice 2013 Top 25 Beaches list. Floridians can pack up their beach chairs and head to the shore for some pleasant scenery and sea air.

The fun doesn’t stop with the major tourist attractions, either. Consider, for instance, Gasparilla, an elaborate, pirate-themed festival that qualifies as Florida’s version of Mardi Gras. It takes place at the beginning of the year and has been happening since 1904. The best part is that it’s free to attend, so Floridians can flock with their pirate hats and peg legs over to Tampa while only having to pay for gas (and, of course, beverages).

Southeast

snorkelerHome to Miami and Ft. Lauderdale, two widely known vacation (and spring break) destinations, Southeast Florida has a lot going for it, as well as a lot to offer Floridians. As far as major trip-related discounts go, it just so happens the two largest cruise ships leave out of the Port of Ft. Lauderdale. Royal Caribbean International offers Florida resident specials on these massive ships (the Oasis of the Seas and the Allure of the Seas) that feature zip lines, carousels, and other ridiculous (and awesome) amenities.

And, of course, there’s Miami Beach with its beautiful beaches and party atmosphere, making it an ideal place for a vacation. However, it’s also a great place to plant your roots for a while. In fact, Livability.com ranked Miami Beach No. 5 on its Top 100 Best Places to Live list (with Ft. Lauderdale coming in at No. 24). Even if Floridians don’t live on Miami Beach, they can take a mini trip down there and stay at impressive resorts at good rates. Beacon South Beach, The Palms Hotel, and other resorts and hotels offer discounts to Floridians, so “staycations” are even sweeter.

air-and-sea-show-FLL

No matter what area of Southeast Florida you’re examining, there’s bound to be beautiful nature and vibrant culture. Florida is almost synonymous with the beach, but people sometimes forget about other natural icons, like the Everglades. For one available deal, if Florida residents purchase an airboat ride, they get a free annual pass. But if locals are looking to do something a little more thrilling or cultural, there are countless nearby festivals and events, like Ft. Lauderdale’s Air and Sea Show or Miami’s Art Deco Weekend.

Aside from Central, Central West and Southeast Florida, there are countless other opportunities to save money while exploring the state.

Whether it’s getting a discount at Kennedy Space Center or having the opportunity to grab a lobster net and catch some crustaceans from the sea, it’s easy for Floridians to benefit financially in their home state.

 

SOURCES:

http://www.dot.state.fl.us/planning/trends/tc-report/tourism123112.pdf

https://disneyworld.disney.go.com/florida-residents/passholder-program/

https://disneyworld.disney.go.com/passes/

https://disneyworld.disney.go.com/florida-residents/

https://disneyworld.disney.go.com/tickets/?affiliation=STD_GST

https://www.universalorlando.com/Theme-Park-Tickets/General-Admission.aspx

https://www.universalorlando.com/Theme-Park-Tickets/Florida-Resident-Tickets.aspx

https://www.universalorlando.com/Theme-Park-Tickets/Annual-Passes/Non-FL-Annual-Passes.aspx

http://florida.legoland.com/en/buy_tickets/AnnualPasses/Florida-Resident-Special-Offer/

http://florida.legoland.com/en/buy_tickets/AnnualPasses/

http://florida.legoland.com/en/buy_tickets/Admission-Tickets1/

 

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