Planning a trip to Disney - where to start?!?!?

(34 Posts)
DTisMYdoctor Fri 12-Apr-13 10:32:45

Sorry, I know there are 1001 (and then some) threads about Disney (USA) but having had a scan through some, my head is in a whirl.

DH and I have tentatively been discussing a trip to Disney in 2015 (probably in October) with DS (who will be 7 then) - ages away I know, but I imagine it will be pretty expensive so need to think ahead so I can get an idea of how much we need to save for it. In an ideal world we'd like to aim for around 5 days at disney and tag on 3/4 days in New York at the start or end.

So, where do I start? What do I need to think about? Is it easy to book different components of the trip seperately or would I be better letting a holiday company do it for me? Any money saving tips? What are the pros/cons of staying in a disney hotel vs a villa. Can we do it without driving?

Any advice welcome!

DTisMYdoctor Tue 16-Apr-13 19:42:51

Thanks for the luggage comments - prompted me to check what the allowance would be if we did book an internal flight between Orlando and New York and you do have to pay for baggage on those so useful to know we would have to factor that in.

Someone lent me a guidebook on planning a trip this week so I feel like I've gone from knowing nothing to being quite well informed! All from an idle comment last week 'wouldn't a trip to Disney when DS was around 7 be fun...' grin

theoriginalandbestrookie Tue 16-Apr-13 19:35:07

It's one bag per person including children ( although probably not infants)

It's a very generous weight allowance of 23kg per bag, which we managed to exceed on the way back due to DH buying a mahoosive case. We had the choice of paying $100 or jettisoning 2.5kg and unfortunately the other bags had already gone down the line.

DH stripped things out of his bag and put them into our hand luggage until the staff waved the bag on out of sheer exasperation.

MOSagain Tue 16-Apr-13 14:23:27

Surely its one bag per person which is what a lot of the british carriers now do

I would check with United directly as their website does not make this entirely clear.

carriedawayannie Mon 15-Apr-13 18:08:47

Is that one bag per person or family Attila?

Re United and luggage.

You can check in one bag on United; any additional bags will incur a $100 (US) charge. They like many US carriers charge for any additional bags placed in the hold.

theoriginalandbestrookie Mon 15-Apr-13 16:07:35

Hi DT - you reminded me that I am thinking of going back to my original name - much shorter and easier to type !

Yes I booked direct, just go to www.united.com only downside is you need to pay for the flights at the time, whereas with a travel agent I guess you could spread out the costs. I found united to be fab ( disclaimer I usually fly Ryanair grin) . No fees for credit cards, luggage, soft drinks or food and all the latest movies on your personal screen, plus a tic tac toe game that DS wanted to play for hours and hours and hours with me. The seat space was standard - wish I was rich enough to fly Business class and get a bed like seat, but hey ho.

If you are only going for a week I think you have to make timing a priority so flying into Orlando International direct makes life a bit easier.

I was having a look at the Disney hotels/resorts last night as a friend is talking about going and for me the big downside would be that unless you pay for two bedrooms you are all stuck in one bedroom. Although our condo wasn't the most luxurious it was very nice to have quiet time away from the parks relaxing at the pool or in the living room/patio.

DTisMYdoctor Mon 15-Apr-13 14:55:05

Oh, and TheOriginal.. (apologies for shortening your nickname by the way, I can't seem to copy and paste it on my ipad or see it while posting to make sure I have it correct) did you book direct with United?

DTisMYdoctor Mon 15-Apr-13 14:51:05

Thanks for all the comments - it's really helped with giving us a starting point to think about a trip.

TheOriginal.. How did you find flying with United? I haven't flown with them before. Your info on flights and prices has been really useful thanks, it's given me a bit of a benchmark to start thinking about what the likely costs will be.

DH has remembered that some friends of ours went in October last year, so I'm going to grill them for info when I see them next!

Apart from the driving/cost any pro's and con's on villas vs Disney hotels/resorts?

tiredemma Sun 14-Apr-13 11:44:06

We went in Easter 2007 and it was boiling hot and RAMMED. Long queues and just hanging around in unbearable heat.

Went last year in october and it was lovely- still hot (but not humid)- no queues anywhere- we were literally able to get off the ride and then run around and do them again.
The only day that was heaving (and we should have planned better) was the Saturday- we went to MAgic Kingdom and it appeared that so had half of florida.
Our longest wait for any ride was the harry potter ride- 30 mins.

theoriginalandbestrookie Sun 14-Apr-13 11:36:28

If you are definitely only going for a week I'd try to avoid adding additional travel. Actually thinking about it if you are only away for a week, you might be best just focusing on Floriday and staying in a Disney hotel that way you minimise your travelling time to parks.

We came back Friday morning and I'm still feeling a bit jaded - an extra 4 hr drive from Manchester would have sent me over the edge! It's a long trip for only a week.

One thing - you said you are avoiding Easter because of the crowds.
We are just back and arrived on Good Friday. I didn't find it a huge problem as we got to the parks as soon as they opened for the first week at 8am ( easy enough as due to jet lag we were up at 5.30am anyway) and the crowds didn't build up until 11.00 - 12.00pm by which time we had done most of the rides we wanted to and fast passed the others. Disney is great as you can fast pass one ride at a time for free. At Universal only the really popular attraction - Harry Potter was busy, the rest of the rides and there were loads only had 5-10 min waits.

The second week was a lot quieter as most of the Americans had gone back to school.

Grovee - who did you do Allocation on Arrival with - is it a hotel or a villa?

DTisMYdoctor Sun 14-Apr-13 09:47:08

It's definitely only one week for school holidays in October in our area. I appreciate it will always be busier in holidays.

Thanks for the tip re: airline and flying, that's useful to know.

Groovee Sun 14-Apr-13 09:33:52

October is getting more popular as parents pull children out for 1 week and use 1 week of the school holidays. Plus a lot of area's in Scotland have 2 weeks October holidays now.

We went the last week of October/first week in November for our honeymoon. The only issue we had was hurricane season which lost us 2 days while it poured with rain.

I'd love to take the kids out for a couple of days in February and go then as it's warm for us and quiet then.

theoriginalandbestrookie Sun 14-Apr-13 09:24:46

If you are from Scotland do check out the United flights. We went via Newark and this was recommended to us in preference to going direct via Thomson from Glasgow.plus it makes doing new York easy as its entirety route.
As I said up thread if you get flights as soon as they are issued about 11 months in advance then you get the best price.we flew over Easter and paid £2000 for 3 of us and you get free movies and seat allocation and luggage. Plus we flew into Orlando international so only had a 30 min drive to get to condo.

DTisMYdoctor Sun 14-Apr-13 07:44:29

Thanks for all these comments - they're really helpful.

Rosvita - part of the reason we're thinking October is because it should hopefully be a bit quieter. The DIbb website classes Easter as one of the busiest times. We're in Scotland, so our half term doesn't usually clash with the English holidays so we could potentially look at flying from Manchester too.

I'll definitely do a bit more research. I also need to look into how to go about booking internal US flights if we do add a couple of days in New York - I'm thinking UK -> Florida -> NYC -> home. So need to figure out how that will compare to flight of a straightforward return flight to Florida.

Groovee Sat 13-Apr-13 14:10:01

We have the disney ultimate tickets and the 2 park universal ones.

We've chosen an Allocation on Arrival at Westridge. Dh and I felt it was where we wanted to be.

We're going from Glasgow in the Scottish School holidays for 2 weeks. We could have got cheaper from Manchester but it would require another day off for dh.

Am so ready for this holiday.

MOSagain Sat 13-Apr-13 13:56:21

carriedawayannie the quote will really depend on what time of year you are going as flights vary significantly. You can save money by flying indirect or if you want to go direct, maybe get a quote from BA into Tampa instead of Orlando. We saved over £1,200 last year (6 of us) by doing that. Depending on where you are in Orlando/Kissimmee its only about another 30 mins drive from Tampa. I wouldn't consider flying into Miami though, arrivals can be a nightmare.

For villas, look at www.loyaltyusa.com A company owned and managed by an english lady who only manages luxury properties within 4 miles of Disney, most of which have private pools and many have games rooms. This is one of their villas http://www.ownersdirect.co.uk/usa/f1895.htm
A decent 4 bed will be around £500+ pw peak (august/easter/christmas) but off peak you can get one from around £425 per week.

Park tickets/spending will depend on which parks/how many days. Very difficult to give a good estimate.

theoriginalandbestrookie Sat 13-Apr-13 12:07:37

Hi DT.

None of us liked Disney studios as there were very few rides and the queues were long. If you are more into the shows though then it might be your thing.Having said that though, we arrived peak time around 11.30 as we had been to a character breakfast. I'd skip the Studios if I went again, also DS liked Downtown Disney because of the Lego shop, but to me it was a bit meh. Restaurants a lot dearer than outside Disney and overly crowded.

For Epcot DS loved the Space bit at the entrance and had a great time with the interactive stuff, but hated the different countries - which was a pest as I really enjoyed that bit and wanted to linger.

Magic Kingdom was completely magical though. We went there 2 days and still didn't see everything. Loads to do for 7 year olds. Loads to do at Universal as well, although people said it wasn't good for younger kids I found it better than Disney in some respects - probably not worthwhile if you only have a week though.

We liked the Water Park Typhoon Lagoon, but DH refused to go to the other one as for our down time he preferred that we relaxed at our own pool at the complex which had one lazy river and a few slides. Annoyingly there was a daily facility charge for this therefore it might have been cheaper for us to just get daily tickets to Disney.

A pal at work went in October and said the parks were very quiet. This would be a great advantage as they were busy for our first week at Easter which we got round by getting there for opening time the first few days (easy enough due to jet lag).

Food was a bit of a disappointment, I found it bland and lacking in choice in most places. I was too lazy to do any cooking, but if you went s/c then it means you could do your own, or get in take out which would cut down costs a lot as you need to add taxes and 18-20% tip on to any restaurant meal.

Rosvita Sat 13-Apr-13 10:52:00

Groovee how exciting are you going in term time or school hols?and is that for a 2week break?

Rosvita Sat 13-Apr-13 10:43:10

DT just thought I'd post as we too are planning a trip to florida in October 2015 - was planning on going for 2 weeks including the half term so the kids only miss 1 week of school. Originally we I was planning on a 2017 trip so the kids will be 9 and 6 so that dd can swim with the dolphins but Ds is still classes as a child but I'm getting itchy feet now so want to bring it forward! We chose October as seems slightly cheaper at that time of year and weather not too bad (the idea of going in summer hols with the crowds and heat doesn't appeal!) Ds will have sats that year so wanted to avoid Easter (plus v busy then) and doubt we'll have the money together before then!plus we have lots of 'big' celebrations coming up in the next couple of years-big birthdays and wedding anniversaries for us and my parents so thinking of going with them too and sharing a villa which will have the added bonus of hopefully bringing the cost down slightly and sharing the care of the children!

carriedawayannie Sat 13-Apr-13 10:18:51

And what tickets you choose Groovee?

carriedawayannie Sat 13-Apr-13 10:15:32

Groovee how did choose your villa? There is so much choice!

Groovee Sat 13-Apr-13 10:06:47

We'll be there in 11 weeks. We've got a villa and for 4 of us dh, me dd13, ds10 it was £3900 for villa, flights, car hire, then £1420 for our park tickets and we aim to take £2000 spending money.

I'm not sure you could do a full on week in Orlando without burning out. I always feel exhausted after just a week and that includes rest days every second day.

DTisMYdoctor Fri 12-Apr-13 23:34:45

That's really useful to know theoriginal... Thank you. Any particular parks your 7 year old was less enamoured with?

Am warming DH up to a bit of Florida driving grin

theoriginalandbestrookie Fri 12-Apr-13 22:37:09

We have just returned, I booked flights and accomodation separately.

We actually had a stopover in Newark as we flew with United and I'm kind of kicking myself for not arranging some time in New York to see my cousin.

There is a lot to do in a week. If you book flights separately then you could maybe try to eak it out to 8-9 days instead. If you do that then get the flights as soon as they come out - keep checking every day from about 13 months in advance, if you are lucky then you'll get them at a reasonable price.

We stayed in a condo, it was very cheap and servicable. Unless you are staying at the Disney resorts or at a partner hotel which has frequent buses I would say you need a car. Disney hotels which are close to the resorts look fabulous but are £££, I believe the cheaper ones aren't so close so you lose the benefit of being at Disney a wee bit.

Our 7 year old loved it, but preferred some of the parks - Magic Kingdom and Universal over others. If you are staying for a week or less it may be better to get your tickets over there rather than buying the UK ones. We needed quite a lot of down time over a 13 night period and I'm not sure that we saved much over getting the tickets daily.

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