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(Vanity) Anyone been to Disney World lately?

Posted on 04/04/2012 6:52:33 AM PDT by RangerM

Thinking about surprising the family with a Disney trip later in the year (around October), but haven't been there before.

Anyone have any suggestions? Did you (would you) stay on the Disney property itself? If so, where and would you recommend/avoid it?

I've been on the website, and they have packages available, but while I'm not looking to spend myself into oblivion, I'm not looking to go at bottom dollar either.

TOPICS: Travel
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To: RangerM
This is not good time to go there. Labor day weekend used to be one of the best times to go since most people are done with vacations and home getting set for school to start. “Spring break” too busy IMHO. End of April or May would be better. It is hot here already so bring a straw hat. Busch Gardens is nice, but it depends on the age of your kids. Still this time of year too busy.
21 posted on 04/04/2012 7:20:59 AM PDT by GILTN1stborn
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To: RangerM

Have done onsite & offsite on multiple occasions.

Definitely stay onsite if you plan on doing nothing but the Disney thing.

Traffic outside the parks is awful. We stayed in a Residence Inn away from the parks and honestly, it was a dump from hell.

Our next FL trip will not include Orlando at all.
St. Augustine is amazing, and Jacksonville Beach is great. The kiddies came home from Jax with a bagful of shells and sharks’ teeth, which a kindly local beachcomber taught them to find for themselves. That turned them on more than the $$$ we spent at Disney.

22 posted on 04/04/2012 7:21:39 AM PDT by LadyBuck (In the immortal words of Jean Paul Sartre, 'Au revoir, gopher')
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To: RangerM

This family has been to Disney World 8 times. The number one piece of advice, stay on property. Within DisneyWorld, you can stay at an assortment of hotels in all price ranges. Pick the one you can afford, they’re all nice. You’ll be able to enter the parks before the general public and you simply get on a bus to the park itself. If you don’t intend to visit the beach while you’re there and you’re flying, don’t rent a car. You’ll only drive it to the hotel and back to the airport. Disney will do that for you on a bus.

As suggested by others, buy the park hopper tickets. That allows you to leave the Magic kingdom, go into Epcot, into the studios, animal kingdom all in the same day. You may decide on Epcot, but it’s crowded, you can leave there and visit a different park on the hopper ticket.

Food - eat as you usually do on vacation. Some people want a great fine dining option, you can get that at Epcot in the different “countries”, others are content with counter service. It’s your choice. Disney offers meal plans now, just review those carefully and think if your family really eats that many meals a day.

You can read tons of reviews online, disregard the totally negative and the totally everything was fabulous reviews, and then read through the rest.

If you have a young child, say 4 or under, by all means, take along an umbrella stroller, even IF you never have that child in one. Believe me, when he or she is tired, it will be a great place for him or her to rest. Kids get cranky and Disney is crowded hot and very sunny. Just be ready to find a good spot to relax and allow the kids to rest for a bit. If they have a screaming fit as ours did one year, just go with it and don’t lose your cool. It will pass. Somehow, a hug from Goofy or some other character makes everything better.

The number one thing to do at Disney World is have fun.

23 posted on 04/04/2012 7:21:53 AM PDT by swpa_mom
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To: RangerM
You didn't specify any ages, so I have to give some generic advice...

There's a ton of forums on WDW - is one of my favorites - great advice on how to save money, reviews of various hotels, etc.

I advise against trying to ‘do it all’ - make a priority list with alternatives for rides and attractions, know ahead of time when they are, and you'll have a much smoother trip.

And on property has a huge price tag, but you literally save hours and hours (and Magic Mornings means you gain an hour of park time.)

24 posted on 04/04/2012 7:23:32 AM PDT by kingu (Everything starts with slashing the size and scope of the federal government.)
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To: barmag25; RangerM
Stay in a Disney resort. Transportation to and from the parks is easy and buses run from the front of all resorts every 15 minutes or so.

If you have small children, the Contemporary Resort is nearest to the Magic Kingdom park. It's also close to the ticket & transportation center where you can switch monorails to Epcot.

If Epcot is where you'd prefer to spend more time, check into the Boardwalk Inn, Yacht & Beach Club, Swan or Dolphin Resorts - those allow you to walk into the rear entrance of the Epcot park. Those are all generally a better deal than the Contemporary, the Polynesian or (*gak!*), the Grand Floridian. Depends on what deals are currently offered.

The transportation system really is hard to beat, even if you stay in one of the off-monorail resorts.

And RangerM, let me be the first to say:

“!Por favor, manténgase alejado de las puertas”

You'll understand, after you've been there.

25 posted on 04/04/2012 7:26:30 AM PDT by Charles Martel (Endeavor to persevere...)
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To: RangerM
I have two young boys and live about 90 minutes from the parks. We have season passes and spend more time than we should at WDW.

October is a slower time for the parks and the heat won't be an issue. You chose your timing well. If you stay at a Disney property, you'll have some advantages like early park hours, Disney supplied transportation, and charging privileges. We're never up early enough to take advantage of the early park openings but, to us, the transportation is huge. The last thing we want to do when the park closes is have to wait in a long line to take the monorail back to the transportation center, then wait in line to get on the shuttle, then get in our car and drive back to the hotel. We like getting on a bus that drops us off in front of our hotel.

Anyway, so much depends on your budget, the number of kids you have and how long you'll be staying. We usually stay at the Boardwalk in one of the villas because they have a separate bedroom and a suite area with a fold out bed. We add a roll away for our second and they can fall asleep while we have the other room to ourselves. Each villa also has a full kitchen so we save $50 a day on breakfast and bring our own drinks and snacks to the parks. It is also right next to Epcot and you can walk to the international showcase (all the countries) in 10 minutes. We usually go to the pastry shop in France for breakfast. It's pretty awesome. Then, after the Epcot fireworks show, you can be back at the hotel in 15 minutes by walking or taking the boat. The Boardwalk is also loaded with restaurants and things to do during the day and night. It also has a pretty cool pool with a decent waterslide. My kids love the place. Of course, the Disney properties ain't cheap but they have all sorts of options at all sorts of price points.

Here's my advice. Pick several hotels that will work for you and then look for the best deal. While you're doing this, choose the parks you'd like to attend on each day and then make your dining reservations. The good places to eat, especially with the characters, fill up many months in advance. Make your reservations on line now and then you can always cancel them later if you want to change them.

Finally, choosing the right park passes is important. We used to do the park hopper but found that we never hopped. Given the size of the parks and the lines, we'd simply pick a park for the day and stay there. You pay a huge premium to be able to hop and we never used it. Again, your ability to do this depends on the ages of your kids. I'd also recommend spending some time on There is a lot of information available there about accommodations, restaurants and specials.

PM me with any questions and I'd be happy to list some of the things we've learned to do that makes you more efficient, gets you on the rides you want to get on and where best to spend your time. There's a lot to do and like all places, some of the parks are better than the others.

26 posted on 04/04/2012 7:33:29 AM PDT by Mase (Save me from the people who would save me from myself!)
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To: RangerM

Visited Disney World last Novemeber. Stayed at the Animal Kingdom lodge — very nice room, you can look out your window and see animals (e.g., giraffes, zebras, antelope etc.) that are kept in a compound on-site — the kids love it! (like staying inside the zoo). The room had a fridge, which meant that we could get groceries and keep stuff cold for breakfast in the room. Did not eat at hotel, but lots of choices both within and outside of the parks (cheaper outside).

Staying at a Disney hotel has the advantage of getting you into the parks early; that hour helps with the lines (although in October, you should be OK in general). You should definitely rent a car if you are not driving to Orlando — you need it to get off the property for cheap eats and also, the inter-world bus shuttle to the various parks bites the big one (not enough buses, don’t run often enough).

27 posted on 04/04/2012 7:36:23 AM PDT by Cincinatus (Omnia relinquit servare Rempublicam)
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To: CAluvdubya

I assume you mean a mulitple day trip... you sure can’t do that circuit in an hour and a half ;)

28 posted on 04/04/2012 7:36:23 AM PDT by Nifster
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To: CAluvdubya

When I was a kid and Disneyland was ‘new’, we’d always wrap up the day by taking the short ride over to Knott’s — it was open and free then — and have the chiggin dinner.

29 posted on 04/04/2012 7:36:23 AM PDT by ErnBatavia (A conservative, a liberal and a moderate walked into a bar; barkeep said "Hi Mitt")
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To: RangerM
I was there once and never again. Spent most of my time waiting in line and watching the "disabled" move to the front.

If you're gonna spend the money, go on an Alaskan cruise. Your kids will be free, they will see lots of wildlife in its' natural habitat, meals are included and there are a ton of activities for them on the ship, You'll have to go before October though.

30 posted on 04/04/2012 7:37:25 AM PDT by anoldafvet
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To: RangerM

Ride Soarin. To save money pack your own breakfast foods. Cereals and oatmeals and stuff. If your driving bring it with you and if your flying fed ex it to the Disney resort you stay in and they will have it at the counter when you check in.

You will spend all day at the park and probably won’t get back to your resort till after dinner. Unless your staying at Fort wilderness lodge or Animal Kingdom lodge think of your hotel as just a place to sleep. Cheaper is better, save money with the value resorts for lunch and dinner in the parks.

If flying choose southwest/airtran. Much cheaper flights into Orlando.

Plan a day at each park.

31 posted on 04/04/2012 7:38:18 AM PDT by barmag25
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To: RangerM

I love Disney and Universal. The key is to go when it is not crowded. The 1st week in May is perfect. Not too hot, and it is after spring break but before colleges let out. Enjoy

32 posted on 04/04/2012 7:40:51 AM PDT by MattinNJ
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To: No Truce With Kings
Kennedy Spac Center is close to Disney World and has a fascinating Visitors’ Center, if you are into space stuff.

Kennedy Space Center is now the Islamic Contribution to the Humanities Cultural Training Center. You didn't get the memo?

33 posted on 04/04/2012 7:43:49 AM PDT by central_va ( I won't be reconstructed and I do not give a damn.)
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To: RangerM

Ok. You have made a wise call.

Disney in October is wonderful, specially if you can avoid the fall break crowd.

Get hold of Burnbam’s Guide to Walt Disney World 2012. Best book for overviews of the whole resort.

Go to for deals and things.

Go to for menus for restaurants and the like. Deb is a very nice person and knows her Disney.

Go to for forum type information and discussion.

There are some very good, on property hotels that are inexpensive and very nice. There are also more expensive and some VERY expensive places.

If you want to contact me via private message, feel free. Mrs Conan and I are regular visitors and love helping folks out at Disney. You need to start soon though. If you want to eat something other than quick service fare, you need to make reservations starting soon!

34 posted on 04/04/2012 7:45:47 AM PDT by Conan the Librarian (The Best in Life is to crush my enemies, see them driven before me, and the Dewey Decimal System)
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To: kingu


My daughters will be 10 and (almost) 5 in October.

I’m planning on driving from Raleigh, NC because I don’t want to subject my family to flying (and the TSA), and we can take more with us more easily. I also have a ton of (various air and hotel) points so I can rent a nicer car, and stay in hotels on the way there and back for essentially free.

I guess I’d have to worry about parking the car when I get there (do they have parking at the in-park hotels?), but otherwise I’d prefer something (like a package) that smooths the way as much as possible (hotel, park tickets, meal plan, etc), BUT while I don’t mind spending a little more, I want to know I’m getting value (if I can say that of Disney).

My oldest has been wanting to go for years, and now that my youngest is probably old enough to appreciate (and remember) it, I’d like to do it while the oldest is still young (enough) to have that same level of excitement that they seem to lose as teenagers.

35 posted on 04/04/2012 7:46:27 AM PDT by RangerM
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To: RangerM

Definitely stay on DisneyWorld property! You will not need a rental car at all, with free transport from airport. They even pick up your baggage and deliver it to your room. Rental cars, with gas, tolls and parkign fees are awfully expensive in Orlando

Plus those staying in Disney properties get to use the extra hours (early admission to the parks on a scheduled basis)

If you are looking to spend all or most of your time in the parks, then just stay at a value resort. Especially if you have kids. The value resorts have restaurants and food prices that are better for families. The higher-end decor and restaurants are nice but the restaurants are more upscale and expensive- wasted on my kids!

However, if you want a nicer hotel to hang around and a more interesting swimming pool with water slides, then check out the mid value to higher end resorts.

If you have young kids check out the Dolphin and Swan hotels, when we stayed there kids under 10 ate free at several restaurants on the property with our rewards program

We eat a big breakfast and take snacks (fruit, granola bars, gum) in fanny packs for lunch, eat early dinner and go back to the parks until the fireworks!

We know our way around and always buy park hopper tickets

Be sure to take cheap rain gear that fits into a fanny pack

Buy the refillable mugs at your resort the first day you arrive- that covers drinks all the time you are at that resort

Check out AllEars- it is an unofficial WDW site with tons of information

Get a Disney VISA card and get room and other discounts, and 6 months no interest to pay for Disney vacations

Check out AAA for discounted Disney tiokets and packages. If you are military, teacher or govt employee, look for discounts

Have Fun! It is a great vacation! Be sure you have conmfortable walking shoes and/or also take moleskin and bandaids for blisters, suntan cream, and headache pills

The Disney Fast Passes do work once you figure out how to plan your time, so use them for the rides you like best that get long lines. The most crowded times are mid day and right after dinner

The shows at Animal Kingdom (Lion King) are great, so are the shows at MGM

36 posted on 04/04/2012 7:47:07 AM PDT by silverleaf (Funny how all the people who are for abortion are already born)
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To: RangerM

The last time I was there was in 1991, but I’m sure there are still nice hotels off the grounds. We stayed our last visit at a condo and it was a lot less expensive than the hotels on the ground. The Contemporary and the Polynesian are great hotels, but are pretty expensive. All hotels have shuttle busses for those without cars. And they run on a pretty regular schedule. We did that when our youngest was 4 and we had no problems. The chain hotels all should have hotels near the theme parks and you can usually get a good deal from them. The Buena Vista Palace, which is a Disney hotel, was very nice as well.

37 posted on 04/04/2012 7:51:11 AM PDT by murron (Proud Mom of a Marine Vet)
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To: sauropod

My thoughts exactly. Although I did enjoy Sea World, I doubt if i ever go to Orlando again

38 posted on 04/04/2012 7:52:02 AM PDT by mel (There are only 2 races decent and undecent people)
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To: RangerM

When we’d fly in we’d use the town car from the airport to property hotel for transport and you can request a 30 minute grocery stop and grab quick breakfast, snack, maybe some wine or beer, and a case or two of water for your room.

Also, when the kids were little, since so many rides literally dump you in a shop, I’d shop the Disney Store 75% off sales and would have a daily gift for the kids that I’d place at wrapped up on thefoot of their bed to: blank from: Tinkerbell and they’d be really excited and happy with a 5.00 t-shirt vs. a 20.00 t-shirt or a new short/top outfit or whatever Disney lighted toy to play with at the parade . . . for 75% less than they’d cost you in the parks . . . of course we’d still buy a few things in the park but I’d shop for months at Disney Store for my stash of gifts.

Character meals . . . when they are younger . . . such a waste of food and money . . . we got over that after the first trip . . . also sharing meals with smaller kids as there is plenty of food helps save.

Fast Pass . . . learn it and work it. Also early entry, we could hit Magic Kingdom and do 10-12 rides, multiple on favorites in Fantasyland in the first hour before heading on to Adventureland or Tomorrowland.

39 posted on 04/04/2012 7:52:13 AM PDT by Qwackertoo (Gingrich/West 2012)
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To: RangerM

We stayed in the cabins...fairly inexpensive, still neat and tidy, complete with maid service.

The only problem was, although the cabins are part of the park, you had to drive out of the park, and to a main gate, to enter the attractions. A little extra driving, but alot of savings on lodging.

40 posted on 04/04/2012 7:52:59 AM PDT by lacrew (Mr. Soetoro, we regret to inform you that your race card is over the credit limit.)
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