Disney - please explain!

(70 Posts)
Itsaburrdiee Wed 01-Jan-14 09:51:37

We have never been to Disney and are just starting to save (£400 so far so we won't be going soon - probably next 2-3 years). We are a family of 4, children currently 5 and 3. We live in Scotland and will go in school holiday period, probably Easter or Summer. Neither of us is keen to drive over there so probably looking at a Disney resort.

So...questions:

When is best to go?

How far in advance should we be looking to book?

How much should we be looking to save?

Where should we stay?

Anything else we should be thinking about?

Thank you ( getting excited just thinking about it all!!!!)

wordfactory Wed 01-Jan-14 09:57:06

Go at Easter.

Summer is too hot/wet/humid/busy.

Driving is very easy in FL (wide open roads and low speed limit) but if you intend to stay in a Disney Hotel then youy don't need a car for the Disney parks (though you would need one for the other parks, which are at some distance).

Itsaburrdiee Wed 01-Jan-14 10:01:04

Thanks, hadn't thought about how we would get to the other parks. So, it looks like we can't get out of driving then. I was thinking Easter might be the better option.

Happypiglet Wed 01-Jan-14 10:01:07

Hi itsaburrdiee I am by no means an expert as I have only been once with our second trip planned for this October.
I am assuming you mean the Florida resort? If not then don't bother reading further!
We went to WDW in October half term 2012. Just after Hurricane Sandy had hit! I haven't been at Easter or in the summer but the crowd levels were pretty low and the worst queue we did was about 45 mins but average queues were shorter. The weather is also a bit less got than the summer. So don't rule out October. We only had just over a week (used inset day as well) so it was tough to fit everything in and we had no rest days.
There are loads of Disney hotels in Florida. We stayed inthe Beach Club which is pricey but really well placed. But there are hotels to suit all pockets.
I booked our first trip in the Jan before we went via Disney holidays. There were good deals for staying at a Diseny hotel including free dinng plan (saved us ££) and some spending money,
We booked this years trip further ahead via Virgin holidays. If you are booking things independently the flights only,usually come out 11months before.
I am sure someone who has booked it all separately will be along soon to explain how that side works. We just booked a package.
My biggest tip is to plan scrupulously. I don't think a WDW trip is something you can wing. Book meals as soon as the 180 day window opens to get character dining and your first choice of times etc.

Happypiglet Wed 01-Jan-14 10:04:26

Meant to add we only did Disney parks.
This time we are doing Disney and Universal and have booked a two centre holiday. We will transfer by taxi.
You can get to the other parks via taxi if you want to stay on site and not drive. The Disney transport system works well and we could walk to Epcot which was fab!

Itsaburrdiee Wed 01-Jan-14 10:12:24

Ooh taxi - that sounds like an option. Tbh DH is a good driver and probably would drive a bit after getting a feel for the roads.

NaturalBlondeYeahRight Wed 01-Jan-14 10:21:54

I hired an American sat nav from eBay for the two weeks for about £25, was brill and much cheaper than getting one on arrival. Stayed in port Orleans, lovely and no real need for a car unless you want to do universal/shops etc.
The Brit guide to Orlando on amazon was a great guide book.
I had no idea what to expect when I went and was nervous but Americans make it all pretty easy.

Itsaburrdiee Wed 01-Jan-14 10:23:42

I will go and look for that book - thank you!

MadeOfStarDust Wed 01-Jan-14 10:24:28

have been 3 times- October was best - you get special Halloween "parties" everywhere too. Easter generally is Spring break over there and busy, summer was way too hot and humid for us - though late August can be quiet.

Found staying in a villa and driving was best for us - cheaper to self cater (pizza and oven chips/ lasagna /salad), multiple bedrooms - so a fab night's sleep for everyone and own pool/games room to mess about in.

We stayed ONE night in a Universal hotel too though - to get their "express passes" meaning MUCH less queueing at the Universal and Islands of adventure parks... for 2 days (check in day - check in from 7am - and check out day).

Driving is soooooo much simpler over there - light controlled crossings - not roundabouts, lots of signs.... get a mapman map here and it has all the restaurants, parks, attractions, hotels, villas, shops etc etc - an absolute godsend!!!

And join the dibb forums too thedibb.co.uk- LOTS of great advice from people who go lots!!

My parents have booked to take the dc this year. If you do go in the summer book for as soon as the Scottish holidays start. Is cheaper by hundreds than leaving it a bit later.

Happypiglet Wed 01-Jan-14 10:27:10

I also found The Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World invaluable. It's written by/ for Americans but is really useful. It scared me a bit as a lot of it is focused on avoiding crowds/ queues but I did use a lot of their tips to our advantage even at a quieter time of year.
The DIBB web site is great for a UK slant.

uptheanty Wed 01-Jan-14 10:27:19

I have been 4 times with 2 dc. We always go at Easter, we were advised to as its so hot in summer.

If you stay at a disney hotel its really expensive, though the accomodation is great.
You can stay 1 week on Disney & do all their parks, the benefit is that you take their free buses to all the parks so you dont have to drive. The buses are regular, clean, air conditioned and no more than about 10-15 minutes away....depending on your hotel.

Or you could rent a villa, this is great to spread out and gives you some space, you will need a car.
There are lots of other parcs off Disney that are great fun and you'll have more choice eating out etc if you're mobile.

We also stayed at a hotel apartment complex once which was my favourite. There were lots of other families so on "off" days the dcs made friends in the shared pool and we had peace.smile

Itsaburrdiee Wed 01-Jan-14 10:42:58

Our schools are always off the first full two weeks in April for Easter holidays. Does that tie in with Spring break? We only get a week and a day at October which seems a bit tight. I'm not keen to take DC out of school as I will need to do that at some point during the Primary School years to visit siblings in Australia.

Is April cheaper than early July?

PowderMum Wed 01-Jan-14 10:53:07

As you are in Scotland do you get 2 weeks school holiday in October? We now go for just 1 week then it is generally quiet with pleasant weather.

I wouldn't go at Easter it is very very busy, in the summer it is very hot and I would only go after the American kids have gone back to school but this is when your kids will be at school as you are in Scotland.

I have been many times in the past 20years. Can I recommend a website www.thedibb.co.uk

We have never not had a car and first time we went we were under 25 but driving is so easy and it's so big you just need a car.

Where to stay - we have stayed onsite (Disney Hotels) and offsite, we prefer staying offsite now as it is much better value. If I was only going once I would stay at a Disney hotel.

roughtyping Wed 01-Jan-14 11:04:59

It's much cheaper to fly from Manchester than Scottish airports, especially if you go at the end of Scottish summer hols (end of June) as English schools aren't out, so prices aren't sky high. You can save around £1k depending how many of you there are.

We're staying at the Hilton Bonnet Creek which is Lake Buena Vista - so on disney property but not a Disney hotel. Free shuttles half hourly to different WDW parks smile for Universal we'll book shared taxi shuttles with Mears - about $45 for the three of us for our return fare. Come whenever you want and pick you up whenever - it's a wee minivan so maybe 2 other fares in with you. It's worth it for us as I really don't want to drive!

roughtyping Wed 01-Jan-14 11:06:36

Although if you CAN go in October I would - we went once at tha time when we were kids and it was much quieter, still lovely and warm but not quite as HOT as July!

We went Christmas, when I was still a teen, my parents foubd a cheaper deal fly drive on Christmas Eve for two weeks. Weather warm as our summer. We stayed on International Drive which was great as we didnt just do Disney but Universal, Sea World, Busch Gdns etc. Also loads to see and do on ID.

FunkyBoldRibena Wed 01-Jan-14 11:12:37

Another for October here - we are lucky that OH's brother lives just south of the Space Place [Kennedy] and we can get free accommodation. It was extremely hot when we went so when we got soaked on rides we dried off in about 10 minutes.

Also, Universal is better than Disney. Just saying.

Itsaburrdiee Wed 01-Jan-14 11:18:37

We get a week and a day off in October holidays. The quietness appeals but I think I would prefer 2 weeks. At the moment this is a one off holiday as I have family in Australia to visit and would like to do some European holidays as well. Unfortunately we can only afford to go abroad every few years so we are unlikely to manage it again, or if we do DC will be teens.

Chocolatecoin Wed 01-Jan-14 11:19:36

I would really recommend staying in a villa. It will save a fortune compared to a hotel. You can go to walmart and buy drinks in bulk and freeze them, take them to the parks semi frozen instead of buying them at park prices. And being able to make your own drinks and snacks in your own kitchen will be much cheaper than buying at hotel prices. Another advantage is that they usually having washing machines, which is so handy.

Chocolatecoin Wed 01-Jan-14 12:55:43

Another tip - jet lag is your friend. When you arrive, it will be evening and you'll be shattered. Go to bed even though it's only 8 or 9 pm, you'll wake around 5 or 6. Which is perfect. Have an enormous breakfast and go straight to your first theme park, arrive just before it opens and enjoy the first hour with very few queues. The parks get much busier later on in the morning but you can do 3 or 4 of the major rides before then. Research each park before you go and go straight to the rides you want to do. You can do the wandering around, browsing the shops and the small attractions later when it's busier.

Definetly plan plan plan. If you plan to book a Swim With Dolphins Experience, it ofren includes two week passes to certain parks (non Disney) so do that earlier in the trip to make the most of the passes.

CurlsLDN Wed 01-Jan-14 13:06:56

We went to disney this summer as part of our honeymoon and didn't have a car. We stayed in a disney hotel (the swan) and used a combination of the disney transport and lynx buses. Lynx is really really cheap, and runs through all the places you might want to go (universal, seaworld, Florida mall etc) you can get the disney bus to downtown disney and pick up lynx from there. More info here
http://www.tripadvisor.co.uk/Travel-g34515-c117796/Orlando:Florida:Bus.Services.From.To.Walt.Disney.World.html

dixiechick1975 Wed 01-Jan-14 13:07:41

Hi Have a look on thedibb.co.uk - a helpful britsh disney planning website

I'd go October if you can. Great weather and lowish crowds.

CurlsLDN Wed 01-Jan-14 13:09:55

Ps, if you are able to go over labour day weekend it's a fantastic time to go. Most international kids are back at school, so the parks are not crowded at all. We went to magic kingdom, Hollywood studios and universal and didn't queue for more than 5 mins for anything!

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