Disney world advice

(25 Posts)
Milkand2sugarsplease Mon 03-Oct-16 21:30:49

We're booking Florida soon and i'm after a little advice?

I Drive or Disney hotel?

Are the parks easily/cheaply accessible from I Drive? I'm wondering whether we'd save all that much staying on i drive if it'll cost us a lot (4 adults, 1 child) to get to the parks each day in comparison to the free transport if we stay on site?
As well as cost - is it accessible or will it take us forever and a day waiting around for buses?

We're going for the Disney parks/Seaworld and possibly a day out to Busch Gardens. We're not getting the 14 day tickets for universal - my husband and I are just going to go by ourselves for one day.

Any thoughts would be appreciated - along with any experiences or recommendations.

Ilikesweetpeas Mon 03-Oct-16 21:36:30

I've never stayed in a Disney hotel, the last couple of times I've stayed on I drive which is a great location. 2 years ago we were at the Embassy Suites
embassysuites3.hilton.com/en/hotels/florida/embassy-suites-by-hilton-orlando-international-drive-convention-center-MCOORES/index.html

This is a great hotel, the only reason we didn't go back this year is that they are having a refurbishment and our travel agent wasn't sure how disruptive it would be. We went to look and the refurbishment is major so whilst we were glad we weren't there this year we'll stay there again. This year we went to the Sonesta suites which is very close to the Embassy suites
www.sonesta.com/us/florida/orlando/sonesta-es-suites-orlando

This was also good, but we'll choose the embassy suites again next time.

My advice would be to look at somewhere with living space and sleeping space- that's why we like the suite style hotels. It's nice to have the space!

When you're getting tickets don't automatically get them through the travel agent. We've found them cheaper through attraction tickets direct and also direct from Disney.

Also consider the Lake Buenna Vista area, this is closer to Disney than international drive, but further to universal so it depends where you'll spend most time. There is an embassy suites hotel there too.

Personally I would always want a car, there will be transport to the parks from most hotels but we love the convenience of a car, not waiting for busses etc. You can also get to the shopping malls then!

ohdearme1958 Mon 03-Oct-16 21:48:04

I go almost every year and because we're a group of adults we stay off site in the lake Buenna Vista area. We stay in an apartment complex owned by the Sheraton. It's the Vistana resort and minutes away from the park. I believe they do buses to the parks but we hire a car and drive.

Re the major works being carried out. We go almost every year and don't take children with us and we won't be going back for some time to come due to the work being done. We noticed a big difference in things and it just wasn't the same. But at least as adults we were still able to enjoy it.

The work hits you square in the face as soon as you enter Magic Kingdom and the first thing you see is the Castle with that huge bloody crane sticking out from the side. It's been there for 3 years now and is an eyesore. It completely takes away the magic.

Everywhere you go there's something being knocked down or added and I was quite perplexed that Disney couldn't do a better job of disguising what's going on.

Phalenopsisgirl Mon 03-Oct-16 23:00:46

Never stayed at I drive but I think it's easy to get shuttles to Disney, personally we always get a car, it's so much better if you want to pop to shops etc, all the outlet malls are open until 10/11 at night and if you have a car you can save so much more time and have greater flexibility. Disney properties are great if you are going to do the Disney thing but it all gets a bit much after a few days so maybe worth considering moving midway through the holiday. The only real benefit to staying in a Disney resort hotel is the magic hour but you have to be up and out to do this. The downside is Disney dining isn't cheap in comparison to normal 'real world' restaurants, I'm not sure how dining plan works' never done it. Again a car means you can go to Cracker Barrel for breakfast, animal kingdom for a few hours, pop to a mall then zoom to Epcot for illuminations ....there is no way you could manage all that on public transport

Phalenopsisgirl Mon 03-Oct-16 23:12:10

You can get the combined seaworld/universal/Busch ticket which works out cheaper, the car is a big plus if you are going to trek down to Busch .....would thoroughly recommend blue man group at universal (book in advance online rather than at the box office for substantial savings) .... you can do both universal parks in a day, at a push, esspecially with the new Harry Potter land rail link. .... at Epcot, arrive early, get a fast pass for soarin, then always go to world show case first, NEVER go in spaceship earth until the afternoon, come back and do the pavilions after lunch, the masses will do the opposite. Make sure you book a few weeks in advance for dinner as the best times and restaurants get booked up early. Ride test track as single riders, you will only be split by minutes, sometimes in the same car just behind/ in front, however you will walk on rather than que for ages

Phalenopsisgirl Mon 03-Oct-16 23:27:04

When are you going? How old is the child? Magic kingdom Florida is a complete marathon unless you are going to only do this and that I'd recommend splitting it between two days just for your sanity. holywood studios can be done in a day, (fast pass for Medway mania) depending how much you want to do. We tend to cherry pick at the parks so I'm out of touch how long it takes if you want to everything as a first timer. Busch is a roller coaster park plus zoo, but if you've done animal kingdom it isn't worth going unless you are into the big rides....seaworld is a down day, seaworld is out of favour so generally it's pretty empty, go when you are parked out.

ohdearme1958 Tue 04-Oct-16 00:36:42

You can do Soarin in the evening and wait 10 minutes. It means you can save your fast pass for something else. The new Soarin is fabulous by the way and I went on it 3 times one after the other a few weeks ago. It took less than 45 minutes.

I also second doing single rider when you can. I used it repeatedly in the big roller coaster in animal kingdom. I'd get off and go back on right away. My brother was never more than a carriage away from me. But you can also take your phone to the park and go online to see the wait time for rides. We did that because it made things much easier to plan - the new fast pass system is awful. We didn't bother with it much.

Phalenopsisgirl Tue 04-Oct-16 09:35:00

Ah that new then, I have only had wait times like than on soarin in California, even in the evening, they must have added more screens.
I second the wait times app, you can also use these to book dining. When you go will make a big difference to wait times and the experience over all, avoid US holidays like the plague, we were in Disney land in California on Veterans Day once, the park hit capacity that day...we only stayed 30 minutes, it was hell. Also if you are there when wishes fireworks are only on on certain nights the magic kingdom will be busier on those days, instead go a different park for the day and then head to the magic kingdom in the evening

OdinsLoveChild Tue 04-Oct-16 09:45:33

We stayed at a Disney hotel because the children were still fairly young and they could enjoy everything the hotel offered too. Animal Kingdom Lodge was beautiful. They had fireside stories, campfire food and songs in fact all the hotels have their own little specialty. The toiletries were replenished every day so we bough home 2 weeks worth of soap and shampoo/shower gel etc

The bus service is brilliant you get collected from immediately outside your hotel and dropped straight back there too. You get early and late opening to the parks which is brilliant being from the UK because we were all up and raring to go at 6am for breakfast and the parks were empty (early opening was 7/8 am I think) so we go to go on our favourite rides without any queueing. The late evenings were difficult with small children though. Fireworks at 10pm were impossible to stay awake for with the time difference.

You can get buses from Downtown Disney to ID and Universal if you wanted to anyway so no need for a car really.

If you use the Disney dining plan then you don't need to carry cash for food and you can register your hotel room pass/wrist band for all other purchases (in the Disney Parks) to be added to your bill, they will even deliver your purchase to your hotel for you so no need to carry it about. You can go completely cashless all holiday which is brilliant grin

smileyhappypeople Tue 04-Oct-16 09:54:57

Disney hotels are way better in my opinion but only if you stay at a higher graded hotel, like a deluxe resort and get free dining plan. If you stay on site you also get free parking if you hire a car.
Personally I would always hire a car wherever we stayed (even if staying on Disney) because the transport can be a nightmare with kids, especially at park closing times. Also you still need transport to non Disney parks, outlets, malls and Walmart!
If you stay in yacht and beach, Boardwalk, Swan and dolphin though you can use the waterway transport or walk from your hotel to the parks. These are obviously the priciest the hotels so they are my 'one day' hotels!
I would highly recommend lake buena vista area rather than I drive if you are spending most of your time at Disney! Try the lake buena vista resort and spa (it has a huge pirate ship on the pool, so you know you have right hotel) it's gorgeous. Has apartments rather than just rooms and is right next to Disney/Walmart/the outlets.
Florida is amazing!!

smileyhappypeople Tue 04-Oct-16 09:57:00

If you don't get a car I know lots of people who use uber and say it's really cheap.
I think taxis in general from idrive to Disney are about $20 each way so will soon add up... Not sure o you would need 2 with there being 5 of you too

FanSpamTastic Tue 04-Oct-16 10:17:33

There is a web forum called The Dib with everything you need here

FanSpamTastic Tue 04-Oct-16 10:17:54

There is a web forum called The Dib with everything you need here

bumblingmum Tue 04-Oct-16 10:32:57

We went this year (2 adults, 2 kids). Stayed at Sheraton vistana but wouldn't recommend. Apartments were nice but buses to resorts had to be pre booked for journeys. Friends stayed at a non Disney hotel near Disney springs (lake Buena vista area) and there were buses to all parks including universal from there. They also used über and said it was cheap and quick, never waited more than 4 mins for a taxi.
Tickets from attraction tickets direct were best deal and you can get a Disney / universal combo which is totally worth it. It's £100 extra to add universal but costs twice that in Florida. Also, UK purchasers get free memory maker which are the photographers in the parks, they take photos and they link to your tickets. Apparently this costs $80 pp in USA. So worth it as the pics are great.
Download the Disney app to your phone (free wifi in parks) to check wait times.
Buy tickets in advance and fast pass all the popular big rides such as soarin and splash mountain. You can fast pass 30 days in advance or 60 days of staying in a Disney hotel.
A website called undercover tourist is great, it has a crowd calendar which tells you how busy parks have been on different days, we found it useful. It also has suggested itineraries for all the parks to get the most out of it.
Check out the opening hours before and check which park is doing magic hours, these are the times when Disney hotel guests can use the parks. They tend to be busier days.

ohdearme1958 Tue 04-Oct-16 12:10:33

This is where we stay year in and year out grin

Check out Sheraton Vistana Resort Villas on Booking! www.booking.com/Share-upL3hK

ohdearme1958 Tue 04-Oct-16 12:11:58

Sorry - but we do have a car.

SienaSun Tue 04-Oct-16 12:34:42

Ohdearme - we've been looking at the Sheraton Vistana for next May. Would this be a good resort for a 4 year old or is it more geared to adults? We will have to do a bit of driving around Florida while we are there so want to have some days where we don't leave the hotel but have enough going on that 4 year old won't get bored. Do they have pool games or anything like that?
Also is it convenient for driving and getting out of Orlando? We need to go visit family in Sarasota and Fort Lauderdale while we are there and I've heard traffic is really bad in Orlando.

ohdearme1958 Tue 04-Oct-16 15:39:10

Hi Siena. The resort is lovely for all ages. I see lots of children going in and out of the building but you don't really hear them once in the apartment because they're quite well insulated.

I think there is kids activeties at the pool. Something my brother said to me about when he was their with his granddaughter a few years ago.

Food wise you can get something delivered after 5pm from the on site cafe/bar if you don't want to cook. And there is a nice little shop on site as well - but you have a big supermarket just across the road and up a few hundred yards.

Driving in Florida is easy. And no, I wouldn't say traffic is bad. I did the journey both ways from Miami, it was clear all the way, and this visit we went to Clearwater beach and did it both ways in 1.5 hours.

These apartments/villas are ideal
For magic kingdom. You leave the complex and turn right, go along a few hundred yards and turn right again - go straight, and minutes later you're at Disney.

Oh and there is a fabulous crazy golf not far from the supermarket that you could do in a few minutes by car and a wee bit longer by foot.

Every time we go we say oh next year we'll try a different place to say - but we never do.

There is also a daily cleaning service, and we pack very lightly so we can wash things out at night before bunging them in the dryer.

If there's anything else you need to know just pls ask.

SienaSun Tue 04-Oct-16 22:12:43

Thanks Ohdear, that's really helpful!

Milkand2sugarsplease Wed 05-Oct-16 08:02:58

Thanks for all the hints and tips!

Didn't get on to read them yesterday as it's my long day at work but i'm catching up now.....

i'm sensing - no car, stay in disney. with car - stay either. car advised???

Phalenopsisgirl Thu 06-Oct-16 16:50:52

I'd vote car either way because it gives you options. Unless you intend to get up, go to parks, go home, sleep. There are is so much outside of the park bubble you may want to see(, I couldn't survive without a trip to target) and you just have more freedom.

ohdearme1958 Thu 06-Oct-16 18:08:03

OP car hire is extremely reasonable in the states. I'd just go for it so you have the option to use it on a day if you feel like it.

Milkand2sugarsplease Sat 08-Oct-16 13:30:26

We're all booked!!!

So, virgin flights - do I pay to prebook seats or wait for the freebie time 48hrs before the flight. 2 adults and 4 year old???

ohdearme1958 Sat 08-Oct-16 16:08:10

I would only ever book seats. And not just because on that route there will be loads of families for the crew etc to juggle about.

Have a great time

NicknameUsed Sat 08-Oct-16 21:44:11

"and I've heard traffic is really bad in Orlando."

Yes, it surprised me how busy it was. We stayed near Universal and drove to the Disney parks. We also went to Boggy Creek and Cape Canaveral. By the end of 10 days the average speed limit reading was 26mph. You spend ages waiting at traffic lights.

Once you are away from Orlando it is pretty quiet though.

Milk we flew with Virgin and they were great. We wanted extra legroom seats so we did pay extra for them anyway. I think it might be an idea to check with the airline if you need to do so. Have a great holiday.

Join the discussion

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now