Help - planning Disney holiday of lifetime

(168 Posts)
KinkyDorito Sat 14-Jul-12 16:26:34

Hi all

I have booked for us to go to Disney in Florida next August. There will be DH and I, and DD (14) and DS (4) - ages for next year.

I want to make this holiday as special as possible. I have been to Florida once, but I didn't organise it. I want to create something very magical. It was DDs request to go there; she has leukaemia and she is due to finish chemotherapy in April 2013. This holiday is to celebrate the end of it, and to give us all something to look forward to.

What I'm after are insider's tips - best places to go, things to see, ways to get best service. We will be staying in the Animal Kingdom Lodge. Currently, I don't plan to drive, so we will be using local transport (I am a big wuss, and I want to enjoy myself and relax after what has been the most difficult time of all of our lives). We have park tickets for all the big ones - Universal, Seaworld and Disney. I think we will also book Discovery Cove.

Any tips would be very gratefully received. I'm working a year in advance so plenty of time.


rogersmellyonthetelly Sat 14-Jul-12 16:39:12

If you are staying in the animal kingdom lodge I can guarantee you are going to have a once in a lifetime experience. The rooms themselves aren't that special, but the views are out of this world, the staff are amazing, and having an evening drink round the fire pit is fab.
Definately watch the magic kingdom light show parade and fireworks in the evening, disney studios is great, especially the car stunt show. sea world is superb, especially feeding the dolphins and rays, and book lunch/evening meal at the shark restaurant. book discovery cove now for the swimming with dolphins, it's magic.
Typhoon lagoon is the best of the water parks IMO, you can swim with sharks, although the sea world water park is also excellent.
Basically allow 2 days per park if you can, except sea world which is doable in a day and the water parks. Don't bother with wet and wild, it's a bit tired and not as good as the newer water parks

KinkyDorito Sat 14-Jul-12 16:44:29

Thank you so much for this! thanks thanks thanks

nosleepwithworry Sat 14-Jul-12 16:46:17

With your sea world pass, you should also get Equatica passes. This place is lovely, white sands, just magical.

I cant recommend Discovery cove enough, it is just lovely and a must.
A fabulous day, just fab!

Have days off too, to wander around downtown Dysney, or a mall. Explore the resort hotel grounds.

We are also going next April all being well, SO excited grin

rogersmellyonthetelly Sat 14-Jul-12 16:52:25

Ooo yes, how could I forget the T Rex cafe at Downtown Disney, just fab.

PeanutButterCupCake Sat 14-Jul-12 16:53:20

We're going next April, am ridiculously excited!
DM is planning it to the letter hmm

Especially looking forward to discovery cove and swimming with dolphins, just deciding whether to dine with Shamu, been reading about the incident with the trainer and it freaked me out a bit blush

nosleepwithworry Sat 14-Jul-12 16:55:06

Incident was about 3 years ago now and they no longer get in the water with the wales, butt he show is still as good.
Dont be freaked out, it cant happen again.

Groovee Sat 14-Jul-12 16:55:38

Get yourself on to the disboards. We're going in June but for the first time ever we're not staying in Disney.

Brits guide to orlando and the unofficial guide to Walt Disney world are good.

Tracheostomy Sat 14-Jul-12 16:56:19

Have to second the T-Rex cafe - absolutely amazing, best lasagne I have EVER had and the volcano cake with the smoke pouring from the top - out of this world!

Also, don't miss the Simpsons ride at Universal Studios! have a great time.

nosleepwithworry Sat 14-Jul-12 16:57:26

the Dibb is a great website, have alook on there xx

Tracheostomy Sat 14-Jul-12 16:57:45

We went the week before the trainer was killed at Seaworld - we have her on our holiday videos talking about the whales. Very sad but it can't happen again thankfully.

MyinnergoddessisatLidl Sat 14-Jul-12 16:59:50

I'd recommend setting yourself up on

I found their info essential. Especially practical things such as dealing with the heat, days the parks are busiest etc.

I went into military planning mode, and it was worth it. Plan every other day and get some rest days, the heat is overwhelming there.

The water parks Typhoon Lagoon and Blizzard beach were the biggest surprises. Had such fun there, and a great way to cool off, bobbing along the lazy rivers!

Hope you all have a super time x

PeanutButterCupCake Sat 14-Jul-12 17:09:07


<<does an excited dance>>

Cheesecake factory is supposed to be amazing and also heard good things about T Rex cafe.

Is everyone going to Harry Potter Too?

Twinkleinmyeye Sat 14-Jul-12 17:09:53

This is all you need. grin

Their touring plans are brilliant.

RatherBeOnThePiste Sat 14-Jul-12 17:10:44

Hello Kinky - long time no see smile

Yes, Discovery Cove. The most expensive day trip ever, but absolutely marvellous, you pay for a day in and then within that day you can swim with dolphins, but there is so much more there too, swim with rays and fish etc.

Please take them there !!

Tracheostomy Sat 14-Jul-12 17:13:01

Awww I wanna go to Harry Potter World :-( The kids are being boring and wanting to go somewhere different next year. So selfish of them.

Groovee Sat 14-Jul-12 17:13:05

Harry Potter is the reason we're going x

MrsShortfuse Sat 14-Jul-12 17:13:09

I'd recommend these books:

Frommer's Walt Disney World & Orlando with Kids - this will suit you having dc of different age groups because it gives age recommendations for rides/attractions.

The Unoffocial Guide - Walt Disney World 2011 (as mentioned above just noticed)

Agree that Typhoon Lagoon is just amazing. In fact all Dinsey parks are utterly awesome. If you're going last 2 wks in Aug, it will be less busy as schools have gone back, if earlier then make sure you get to parks at opening time and in Disney use fastpass as much as poss. At Seaworld have coins ready for lockers as no bags allowed on big rides.

Have a great time!

solittletimeandsomuchtodo Sat 14-Jul-12 17:19:12

If you could go anytime of the year when would you go??

Groovee Sat 14-Jul-12 17:23:55

May or September, but Scotland don't have holidays then.

Secret7 Sat 14-Jul-12 17:26:37

Would also recommend the Dibb. It gives a good idea on the good and bad times to visit the parks on each day.

We're counting down - 16 days to go grin

amicissimma Sat 14-Jul-12 18:33:28

My tip if you are going to Universal and Islands of Adventure is, oddly, to book a night in one of their hotels, even though you have already booked elsewhere.

The reason is that you get unlimited Express passes for each person for each day, so if you check in cheekily early on day 1 (and everybody does!), you will have passes for that day and the next. It can be hard to find the price of Express passes to buy because they vary according to how busy it is, but when we went in August the room worked out cheaper than 4 passes for 2 days. They're not valid for Rip Ride Rockit, Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey and Pteranodon Flyers, but still worth it.

I don't think that Universal and IoA will be so good for the 4 year-old, but there is enough for a couple of days.

YouBrokeMySmoulder Sat 14-Jul-12 18:40:22

Kinky on the booking form you can tell disney that you are celebrating a special occasion and every time you do a table service meal they will make a big deal of it. Have you got free dining? If so you will book all your table service meals around 180 days out.

Go to easywdw to see which parks you should be in for what day, it makes an enormous difference to the queuing etc.

We went even further as it was once in a lifetime and used Help Around the Mouse to not only do the itineraries and book the restaurants but they also do a touring plan personalised to your party and the shows you want to see/rides you want to go on and we never queued at all! Five days came in under 100 dollars. I know other people will say its a waste of money but it made it so much easier.

MyinnergoddessisatLidl Sat 14-Jul-12 18:48:17

Went on the Harry Potter rides at Universal 3 times <<boake>>

Loved the Spiderman 4d one too.

October is a great time to go that's when we went last year.

Weather was amazing. And so was Mickey's not so scary Halloween party.

YouBrokeMySmoulder Sat 14-Jul-12 18:51:01

Oh and kinky dd was 4 when we took her to universal and she really enjoyed it, there's lots for them to do, especially in August as you get wet on lots of the rides there. Make sure you take their cossies and a towel for the curious George play area.

We did what was suggested above and had 2nights in the middle of our Disney hols and stayed at the Hard Rock hotel for the front of the line passes. Well worth it. It was lovely to walk to the parks as well after gettin gin the buses at Disney, which were great btw you don't need to drive, you'll get the Magical Express from the airport anyway.

Goosfraba Sat 14-Jul-12 18:57:36

We have stayed in Animal Kingdom lodge and it is amazing smile you'll love it.

I'd also recommend it's really helpful and you will always get any questions you have answered over there smile

KinkyDorito Sat 14-Jul-12 19:46:36

DS is very excited about Universal as he is currently in love with all things super hero!

I am going to have a very careful read through of all of this. We are on the dining plan, so I need to book meals in advance? That is useful to know. I would have hoped to wander in... see - totally naive! grin

I am really grateful to all of you. I am also going to look into the Universal hotel. We already have tickets for the parks. Would it still be worth paying for the hotel stay on top?

Will have a look at all websites, and the 'Help around the mouse'.

I take it, from all that's said here, express passes are also worth looking into.

I really, really want her to feel special and spoiled; she deserves it. DS will be beside himself with excitement. DH wishes we were going to Italy, but I plan to win him over wink.

Unfortunately, August is the only time we can go. I have haunting memories of rides being shut at the threat of storms, so am praying that it is kinder to us next year.

Am very envy of all of you going soon. Have wonderful holidays, and I will be waiting with the questions for when you get back wink.

Again, thanks thanks thanks.

And big wave to Rather smile.

Groovee Sat 14-Jul-12 19:48:02

You can book meals 180 days in advance and you will need to work out your itinery and then book your restaurants for your table service on the ddp.

Groovee Sat 14-Jul-12 20:16:08

I've set up a blog to keep memories for on the lead up to our visit etc. it may be worth doing that too.

groovejet Sat 14-Jul-12 20:19:30

It may be useful to apply for a guest assistance card, if you think your daughter requires one. You ask at guest services in the first park you visit, it will mean you can usually queue in a separate area usually shaded or with air con.

Something special that is a bit different is to go on a boat to watch the fireworks at Epcot, if you do sign up to the dibb site there is fairly often willing to share a boat and split the costs. The boat can fit 10 people.

Remember to book any meals you want especially if travelling during free dining, it is possible to get walk ups but can be in for long waits. Can highly recommend the Boma restaurant at the Animal Kingdom Lodge.

Enjoy the planning, I always find it part of the holiday smile

musicmadness Sat 14-Jul-12 22:55:40

Quick word of warning about discovery cove - you have to be 6 to swim with the dolphins so depending on when your DS's birthday is he might not be able to do it.

It was almost a decade ago when I went to disney but I remember loving Typhoon Lagoon and the Magic Kingdom. I also really loved epcot but I think that will be a bit more hit and miss. Definitely take a day off and explore the mall, it is amazing!

Try to keep any ticket stubs etc, so you can make a scrapbook when you get back. I did that for a roadtrip I went on and love looking at it now, it's such a good keepsake.

BestIsWest Sat 14-Jul-12 23:37:33

We just came back on Tuesday after combining it with a trip to New York. Hogsmeade village was brilliant, the attention to detail is incredible. And the updated Spiderman ride at Universal is just fantastic. It was quite crowded though. I've kept all our ticket stubs and I'm planning to make a collage for our kitchen wall. Good luck with the planning OP.

adoremyfamily Sat 14-Jul-12 23:46:05

Kinky be prepared to get hooked, 15 years ago we went for our holiday of a life time, on Friday we go for our 6th trip. It's the most wonderful, magical time ever, don't worry about dh I defy anyone not to be taken over by the magic, one of my favourite memories is my dd's at 19 and 14 at Halloween, holding hands skipping round parks trick/treating.
It's good to plan ahead but don't overplan leave time for relaxing it's a tiring holiday.

You'll have a super time I'll let Mickey know your coming.

03angels Sat 14-Jul-12 23:46:10

Don't forget to book lunch/dinner with the princesses at Disney, they also do a princess makeover, my dd(6) was made to feel like a real princess grin

03angels Sat 14-Jul-12 23:47:53

Sorry got the ages of your ds and dd mixed up- princess things may be too young for yr dd blush

alienbump Sat 14-Jul-12 23:58:06

The best tip I had when staying at the Animal Kingdom Lodge was to upgrade to Concierge Level - can't tell you how worthwhile it was, opportunity to do the sunrise safari, separate lounge on it's own floor, where breakfast is served (so peaceful, no queues) and free drinks and snacks in the same lounge available all day up until about 10pm. Also you get whisked up in the lift to this floor to check in at the private concierge desk - and they will book any restaurants or anything you want there for the whole trip. It was just a great place to chill and relax at any time of the day, and saved us a fortune as a family of five - think the upgrade cost us about 50 dollars a day, we must have saved that in drinks alone, never mind the number of meals we ended up not going for because we had had spent a couple of hours there having afternoon tea/evening supper. Really can't recommend it enough. - you'll have a fab time!

Wandaaa Sun 15-Jul-12 00:15:36

Take buggy for DS, you can hire them but work out expensive for full holiday. We did loads of charachter meals, Floridean for breakfast and dinner were the best, loved going over on the boat from Magic Kingdom. Get fast pass early for toy story mania in Hollywood studios although queuing for 2hours in air conditioning was worth it. We also had a fab meal at Wolfgang Puck's in Downtown Disney, we also had the dining plan but thiswould have been our most expensive meal.

If you don't get the resort mug with your dining plan it is worth buying one and we used our snacks on ice cream sundaes (loved worms and dirt from Animal Kingdom) and bought drinks as they were cheaper.

Harry Potter world is amazing and the butter beer tastes lovely (like fruity, creamy chocolate).

As you can tell I love Disney (and Harry Potter)

KinkyDorito Sun 15-Jul-12 08:17:39

Thank you all again thanks. And, have lovely holidays to all of you about to depart.

alien how did you upgrade? Was it through travel agent?

03 I might have the princess makeover though... grin

I do really appreciate everyone's help. One year and one and two weeks to go. grin grin

KinkyDorito Sun 15-Jul-12 08:17:55

one and two??? two!!

03angels Sun 15-Jul-12 15:20:26

kinky really wanted one- I think you deserve one grin

ASillyPhaseIAmGoingThrough Sun 15-Jul-12 15:51:45

Don't forget the extra magical hours as a Disney guest.

ShirleyKnot Sun 15-Jul-12 15:59:47

I am going on Wednesday and starting my planning itinerary today.


BellaVita Sun 15-Jul-12 16:00:14

For those planning to visit Discovery Cove....

We booked our tickets online before we went. Which meant that we could basically get there as soon as the doors opened - something like 7.30am, and be pushed through quicker than queuing to pay for tickets.

Because of the weather ie. in summer it tends to rain in Florida in the afternoon (quite often thunder storms) they could in effect close the "swimming with dolphins" bit.

So, when you rock up, you are asked which time slot you would like - think ours was something like 9.30am. This gave us a chance to have a lovely breakfast, then go for the "talk" then do the swimming bit.

This then left us the rest of the day to do all the other things there, have a really nice lunch and just generally take our time.

All food and drinks are included in the cost of the tickets as are the towels (which you give back at the end).

Yourefired Sun 15-Jul-12 16:01:10

In hogsmeade if you visit ollivanders position your child at the bottom of the staircase. That's the child they "choose". Worked for us.

We came back in June. We booked with Disney and had the Fastpass (really recommend this) and basic Dining Plan, with 14 days for the price of 7 theme park access to all the Disney parks and Water parks.

My only regret is we didn't do Universal or Seaworld - we ran out of time and wanted to bring some money back!

You can hire motorbility scooters and strollers at all the Disney parks. We stayed at Port Orleans Riverside and got free transport everywhere which i presume you will be using? The buses are great and run regularly.

If it's the middle of the range or above dining plan then book in advance for your character dining etc
We loved Epcot - there is a great place in China called the Lotus Blossom cafe. Also had a meal at the 50's Prime Time Diner in Hollywood Studios which is great. Not cheap but worth it for the experience.

We had four days of constant rain on arrival - make sure you have waterproofs, umberella etc just in case. Not sure of weather in August in Orlando as have only stayed in Miami at that time of year when it was ridiculously hot and sunny. Orlando have more rain.

Be warned about the queues and take advantage of the fast pass system and the Magic hours if you can. (Magic hours are at different parks on different days and are open to Disney guests before the park opens to the rest of the public. Well worth doing if you want to make a beeline for a popular ride.)

Make sure you get to the Magic Kingdom at about 8.45am to watch the Opening ceremony before the gates open. (I got all emotional behind my sunglasses. It really is Magical!)
Look out for Horrific queues out of there after the Fireworks in the evening though. Don't miss the Electrical Parade and the Fireworks at Epcot are great too.

You will have a fantastic time!

YouBrokeMySmoulder Sun 15-Jul-12 17:20:22

Shirley, good god what were you thinking?grin have you been over to easywdw to see which are the recommended days?

Pm if you want any specific info, I have it coming out of my bloody ears especially which rides and shows to hit first.

You're fired, unless you're the first group in of the day then they choose the first child, which is fair enough.

Oh and you have to make rope drop every day, get everything done by lunch and then get out for some pool time in the afternoon before returning for fireworks or parades etc.

YouBrokeMySmoulder Sun 15-Jul-12 17:25:13

Here you go Shirley...
best days

Yourefired Sun 15-Jul-12 17:38:26

Yes we were the first group in of the day.

OutragedAtThePriceOfFreddos Sun 15-Jul-12 18:04:01

Please think twice and do some research before visiting Sea World and Discovery Cove.

It is not right that they capture wild whales and dolphins for human entertainment. These places claim to help marine life but the truth is that they don't. They take wild animals and keep them prisoners in conditions that are detrimental to their health, after separating them from their families.

There are lots of links and YouTube videos, please just have a quick google before you decide to support something so barbaric.

If you want to swim with dolphins, learn to scuba dive and get into their environment. Don't support dolphins being forced into an environment that suits us. It is selfish and cruel.

YouBrokeMySmoulder Sun 15-Jul-12 18:06:39

Ooh how exiting yourefired bet you were chuffed. smile I so want to go again.

YouBrokeMySmoulder Sun 15-Jul-12 18:07:07

Exiting? If only this iPad weren't so damn convenient.

ShirleyKnot Sun 15-Jul-12 18:14:52


I don't understand any of it!

YouBrokeMySmoulder Sun 15-Jul-12 18:19:51

And breathe. Right, are you staying onsite? How many days are you there altogether? Are you doing just Disney or Disney and universal and seaworld, canaveral etc?what are the ages?

[shines light in Shirley's eyes and smokes mysteriously]

ShirleyKnot Sun 15-Jul-12 18:28:59


Ok, not staying on site - we're on International drive - staying in the doubletree which backs onto Seaworld for 1 x week. (then driving down to Naples for the second week - OMG)

I have tickets for Disney and Universal. We get there Weds afternoon, I've got to pick up my car on Thursday morning, so was planning on going to Seaworld on that day as its so close to the hotel.

The boys are 15 and 12. I want to do Harry Potter (heh ew) and Magiv Kingdom but beyond that I'm a bit baffled! Planning on doing something every day as we only have the week. Not bothered about doing Cape Canaveral.

ShirleyKnot Sun 15-Jul-12 18:29:45


RatherBeOnThePiste Sun 15-Jul-12 18:36:11

Cape Canaveral is great but a loooong drive.

BestIsWest Sun 15-Jul-12 18:37:13

Shirley - make sure they go on Spiderman at Universal if they are that age, my 14 year old DS thought it was the best ride he went on, better than HP. Also at Universal use the single rider queue where possible. you might not be in the same car as each other on a ride but it's much quicker and it doesn't matter once your on the ride especially if they want to go on a second time - no wait time at all on some of the rides last week.

Also my DCs (teenagers) liked Millers Sports bar on Int drive for food.

BestIsWest Sun 15-Jul-12 18:38:39

Also, we all adored Kennedy Space centre especially the Apollo 8 control room and Saturn V rocket but the shuttle ride there is a bit pathetic compared to the one in Epcot. It was about an hours drive.

YouBrokeMySmoulder Sun 15-Jul-12 18:40:32

Right well the ages make it easier, universal in the priority then. You need to get to islands of adventure on the day you are going at opening time, this will already be hours after people staying on site and virgin holiday punters but no matter. Unless you can come back to harry potter in the early morning if it's open that long then you need to be there first thing.

I haven't done universal without front of the line passes and unlike Disney it's an uneven playing field, hopefully someone will come on and say what its like without. But basically over the two universal parks I would set aside two days having looked at all the rides and shows and decided what is unmissable. Mythos restaurant very good btw. Also bubba gumps in city walk and you can split the mains to make it cheaper.

At Disney (have you got hopper tickets that include the waterparks?) then you want to look at the link I sent and choose to go to MK on a recommended day, not an early entry day and hit the rides in order of space mountain, thunder railroad and splash mountain using the fast pass system properly. Best place for lunch I reckon is Columbia harbour house.

At Epcot the priority is soarin, then get fast passes, sum of all thrills and mission space. Illuminations the fireworks show is worth seeing.

At DHS it's the mad rush for toy story fast passes and then rock and roller coaster and the tower of terror. Star wars is ok all day and the indiana jones show is worth seeing over the lights camera action. Fantastic is very good but you need to get there early.

After lunch I would head to a waterpark if you have hopper tickets or the free arcade centre at downtown Disney, I had trouble pulling my ds out of there.

I don't know about seaworld.

[goes for a liedown]

ShirleyKnot Sun 15-Jul-12 18:41:51

Right, spiderman at universal.

So, like if we go to universal for 2 x days that should be ok?

YouBrokeMySmoulder Sun 15-Jul-12 18:42:19

Fantasmic [seriously considers getting off the sofa to use the pc instead of the ipad]

ShirleyKnot Sun 15-Jul-12 18:42:50

X posted! Thanks so much smoulder. Xxx

YouBrokeMySmoulder Sun 15-Jul-12 18:50:05

Remember as well that if you have hoppers then you can finish at universal, have dinner in city walk and then drive over to Disney for one of the firework shows etc.

I haven't seen the new universal nighttime thing over the lake so don't know if it is worth staying for. Once you know the times of everything you can work it out anyway.

Spiderman is great, we loved the simpsons as well. Make sure they keep their mouths shut on Jurassic Park and take some towels for universal, you get wet on lots of rides.

BellaVita Sun 15-Jul-12 18:51:13

Islands of Adventure (next door to Universal) is far better IMO than Universal. It has all the roller coaster rides - The Hulk was bloody fab.

YouBrokeMySmoulder Sun 15-Jul-12 18:54:42

Here is the easywdw equivalent for universal

I agree that IOA has more but we liked terminator, the Simpsons, the mummy etc, all unmissable I think. We also liked the vibe more but I'm a sucker for Americana.

BellaVita Sun 15-Jul-12 18:55:27

Shirley, literally just down the road from where you are staying is a fantastic supermarket - Publix, we always get snacks and stuff from there. Across from Publix is a designer outlet, cannot remember the name, but it is really nice)

Aquatica is just across the road from Seaworld.

ShirleyKnot Sun 15-Jul-12 18:57:42

So do you think I'd be really, REALLY stupid not to decide what we're doing on which days until we're there?

RatherBeOnThePiste Sun 15-Jul-12 19:00:57

Shirl - it is such a big place I think you need to have an idea or you will waste precious time. Disney itself is bigger than the Isle of Wight I believe, that's just the Disney parks, forget International Drive and Seaworld etc. Tis huuuuuge. You need a cunning plan.

BellaVita Sun 15-Jul-12 19:01:40

We usually have a good idea of what is going to happen on what day and we have been a fair few times. You are on such a tight timescale, I think you would be mad not to plan.

ShirleyKnot Sun 15-Jul-12 19:07:08

Gah Gah GAH!

OK then.

Thursday - Seaworld
Friday - Harry Potter(?) then something? What something?
Saturday - erm
Sunday - erm
Tuesday - Disney
Wednesday - drive to Naples
Thursday - Wednesday - Lie on beach with 1 x trip to Everglades.

YouBrokeMySmoulder Sun 15-Jul-12 19:07:21

Yes, you would be barking not to look at the crowd calendars and go to the least busy parks on each day. You also need to know what your priorities are and make sure you do them. You can be as spontaneous as you like once you get to Naples.

Have you got hopper tickets btw? I think you, only pay for parking once if you go to more than one Disney park, can someone else confirm that? I don't know as we were onsite for that bit.

akaemmafrost Sun 15-Jul-12 19:08:39

Going in April grin am clueless so will be watching this thread!

YouBrokeMySmoulder Sun 15-Jul-12 19:10:44

So Saturday would be your universal studios day if Friday is your islands of adventure day.

Then look at the Disney crowd calendars to find out what are the best days for Sunday, Monday, Tuesday. Once you work out those days then come back, if you do animal kingdom then it will only be expedition Everest and the safari so you could do that after one of the rope drop parks.

ShirleyKnot Sun 15-Jul-12 19:13:44

I'm not sure what the tickets are - they're called a Disney Ultimate Ticket.

Right I'm going to try and decipher those calendar things and get a plan together.

ShirleyKnot Sun 15-Jul-12 19:14:46

See, I can read the words you're typing Smoulder but I don't understand them at all!! grin

BellaVita Sun 15-Jul-12 19:19:10

BUT Shirley.... Those tickets do not include entry into either IOA or Universal, so I think you may need to decide on which park you may want to do otherwise it is gonna get rather expensive.

YouBrokeMySmoulder Sun 15-Jul-12 19:20:40

Good, you've got ultimates so you can go to any Disney park and waterpark and the arcade at downtown Disney which is called disneyquest. It means you can fit much more in. I wouldn't miss the Disney waterparks, they are very good. Typhoon lagoon thought to be the best.

Tbh with your schedule I might not do seaworld at all seeing as you've only got a week. And I think it's better for younger children.

YouBrokeMySmoulder Sun 15-Jul-12 19:22:03

Oh have you not bought your universal tix yet? You can get 2 day, 2 park tickets online and then print them out. On your first day you go to the window and swap them over. It takes some time so get there even earlier.

BellaVita Sun 15-Jul-12 19:23:02

Mine loved Typhoon Lagoon.

They didn't love Disney - not bothered by it at all.

They loved Animal Kingdom and IOA and Universal. Oh and Discovery Cove and Aquatica.

Blizzard Beach was awful.

YouBrokeMySmoulder Sun 15-Jul-12 19:28:15

Bella that's just going to confuse poor Shirley more.

Shirley basically in Disney there are 4 parks: magic kingdom, animal kingdom, Hollywood studios and Epcot. For your ages the best will be Epcot and Hollywood studios with Hollywood studios the best of all. Only magic kingdom and Epcot have firework shows though.

Downtown Disney is the shopping and eating bit, the equivalent of city walk at universal. If you're in the market for a build your own lightsaber for example you can do that at the massive toy store here instead of queuing at tatooine traders at DHS. There is also the free indoor arcade there.

BellaVita Sun 15-Jul-12 19:29:22

Sorry Smoulder grin

YouBrokeMySmoulder Sun 15-Jul-12 19:30:52

I might go out for a fag, I think I've confused myself.

Oh and you can smoke most places at universal but only in a few places in each Disney park. Just thought I'd mention it.

BestIsWest Sun 15-Jul-12 19:33:17

Shirley, keep breathing, there you are, good girl. You'll be ok. I didn't plan much either, it's against my nature.

Mine weren't that fussed on Disney (14 and 19) - their favourite Disney rides were the very cheesy boatrides in Mexico and Norway in Epcot. They spent most of their time there trying on silly hats from around the world.

They loved Universal Islands of Adventure (where HP and Spiderman are). Just asked DS what his favourite thing was and he said the Horror Make up show in Universal Studios - he went in twice.

BellaVita Sun 15-Jul-12 19:33:59

Shirls is obviously busy researching to answer....

Did I tell you Shirleynthat OPi nail varnish is really really cheap in the supermarkets over there? Costs the same is say Rimmel or No17 over here.

YouBrokeMySmoulder Sun 15-Jul-12 19:36:24

I think actually that if you can't stand planning then you can not do it. We managed to go on every ride in all Disney and universal that we wanted in 5 days though with no queuing and did all the characters etc, something that yours are too old for mercifully.

In my defence I hate queuing, and I can't imagine doing a lot of it in the summer heat tbh. We were there in the winter.

BestIsWest Sun 15-Jul-12 19:37:26

Also, food in both Hard Rock Cafe and Buuba Gumps at Universal was very good and reasonable.

BellaVita Sun 15-Jul-12 19:39:52

We loved the Hard Rock, didn't go to Bubba Gumps in Florida but went to one in Hawaii last year and the boys loved it.

YouBrokeMySmoulder Sun 15-Jul-12 19:40:42

Three words: Honey Jack Daniels. Mmm

OP, so pleased you have sopmething so special to look forward to - best wishes for the next year and two weeks .... andMEGA fun to you on the weeks after that.

We're going to Butlins tomorrow - mega excited smile

Groovee Sun 15-Jul-12 20:19:37

Is there a universal version of the busiest days? Last time we went on a Sunday and it was dead. We arrived at opening to IOA and did all the kiddie rides as ours were a bit small then headed to the old park as we call it. Planning on spending more time in IOA this time x

ShirleyKnot Sun 15-Jul-12 20:31:19

Sorry, sorry! I have universal tickets as well BTW.

I've been on the phone for the past hour with as friend who has been to Florida a few times - I'm even MORE confused now!! wink

See, I know I want to definitely do Seaworld but I'm thinking now that Because I'm picking up the car on Thursday at 10 it's half the morning gone - SO what about if I do Disney Magic Kingdom on the Thursday? The boys are a bit old for it I think but I want to see it all. We could spend the afternoon there and then I'll have a whole day for SW - what do you think?

Bella - I'm only taking one nail polish with me - I am planning on a bloody mammoth polish purchase!

YouBrokeMySmoulder Sun 15-Jul-12 20:36:13

You could do but you'd have to get fast passes for whichever ride was most important, space mountain. You could then do another big ride when the parade is on if you are the right side of the parade route. If you have to do a park as a half day people would traditionally say animal kingdom but that's missing out the shows and the walking trails ie most of the animals.

Magic kingdom isn't as it's best in the arvo as its so horribly busy.

BellaVita Sun 15-Jul-12 20:44:44

Magic Kimgdom sounds like a plan for Thurs. if you decide it is rubbish after a cople of hours, you could always do mid/late afternoon at Aquatica (gates usually re open in the afternoon and then you are not far from your hotel, I reckon you are going to be wacked out by then...get an early night and be up bright and early Fri morning to hit another park.

ShirleyKnot Sun 15-Jul-12 20:48:22

I am going to sit down at work tomorrow and do a SPREADSHEET.

BellaVita Sun 15-Jul-12 20:51:09

Will you laminate it too? <<hopeful>>

ShirleyKnot Sun 15-Jul-12 20:55:02

Of course! I'm not an animal.

YouBrokeMySmoulder Sun 15-Jul-12 20:59:37

Try this for teens

BellaVita Sun 15-Jul-12 21:15:23

Just checkin' like...

OMG that Mission Space thing at Epcot shock DH and I thought we were going to be majorly sick on that and we were worried for the boys but they loved it! I did not enjoy it one bit. Very very claustrophobic.

KinkyDorito Sun 15-Jul-12 21:15:31

Good luck Shirley. I will be looking to you for inspiration when you return grin.

Thanks mumble. We went to Haven recently and DCs had a fantastic time. I hope the weather is nice for you.

KinkyDorito Sun 15-Jul-12 21:16:36

My favourite is Aerosmith Rock and Roll Rollercoaster. I will be MAKING DD go on that with me. It's the trade off for the whole holiday.

BellaVita Sun 15-Jul-12 21:21:02

Kinky, on our first visit with the boys a few years ago, DS2 was not tall enough for that ride so I waited with him whilst DH took DS1 on. They queued for about 90 mins and got all the way to the front and DS1 changed his mind. DH was not a happy bunny grin

KinkyDorito Sun 15-Jul-12 21:25:14

I'm not having any of that! She will be going on. Even if she cries. <evil mum>

ShirleyKnot Sun 15-Jul-12 21:25:25

Ive been on the Aerosmith one at EuroDisney. I shit myself it was well quick.

I lurrrve roller coasters.

Kinky! When I get back I'll tell you all about it! Sorry I've hijacked your thread a bit sweetie!

KinkyDorito Sun 15-Jul-12 21:26:07

No worries Shirley - your need is more urgent!! grin grin

ShirleyKnot Sun 15-Jul-12 21:28:11

Gordon Bennett! 2 days! This time next week I'll be there! I'll be doing whatever I've planned to do on Sunday! Heh!

YouBrokeMySmoulder Sun 15-Jul-12 21:36:08

You lucky lucky thing Shirley. Best pack some huge ass tena lady. I chickened out of the forbidden journey, am really pissed off that I didn't go on it.

ShirleyKnot Sun 15-Jul-12 21:42:57

Haha! I'm terrified of the flight though, so even though I'm excited I'm also v scared! Hence the leaving the planning til the last minute, it's a weird procrastinating thing I do in order to forget that I've got to get on a plane and sit on it for an entire day. Oh god oh god oh god.

BellaVita Sun 15-Jul-12 21:54:11

It will be fine. Virgin do free alcoholic drinks!

ShirleyKnot Sun 15-Jul-12 21:56:20

I can't be pissed for the entire flight though Bella, I'll be poorly ill.

I'm contemplating night nurse.

JWIM Sun 15-Jul-12 22:25:46

OP I hope you all get excited about the planning and have a fab, and well deserved, time at Disney next year.

We have been a fair few times with DC the ages of yours. Some suggestions - find out how far out booking times are for any meals or other Disney events and get on the phone pronto - remember the time difference - as some sell out in minutes.

Some suggestions

Hollywood Studios - Phantasmic (Show on a lake, special effects, fireworks, great music) can combine with a meal (Mama Melrose is great) to ensure entry without queueing.

Epcot - Soaring (get fast pass first thing in the morning), Test Track, Mission Space (two levels of intensity), Living Seas
Meals - the countries are good: France, Mexico, Canada, Japan (Teppanyaki restaurant)

Magic Kingdom - Night time parade I think is better than daytime. Wishes Fireworks - stand at station end of Main Street.

Animal Kingdom - Everest, Bug's Life, Safari - There is also a walking safari that you can book separately (expensive but we enjoyed it)

Restaurants we have enjoyed
Breakfast - Character at 1900 Park Fare Grand Floridian, Chef Mickey's Contemporary, Character at Yacht and Beach Cape May Cafe
Lunch - to be honest we just have a light snack (not the turkey leg they seem to eat like a chicken drumstick), Earl of Sandwich Downtown Disney
Dinner - Jiko (Animal Kingdom Lodge), 1900 Park Fare, Brown Derby (Hollywood Studios), Narcoosees at Grand Floridian

Discovery Cove - a must - well worth the money.

Universal - Hogwarts Ride - need to use locker.

Kennedy Space Centre

Both Disney Water Parks are great fun and make a change from the Parks

KinkyDorito Mon 16-Jul-12 07:01:29

Thank you JWIM - those suggestions are fantastic smile.

Shirley if the Night Nurse does the trick, let me know. Not only will it haze me out for the flight, but it will leave DH to deal with DS. I see this as a win-win. grin

Groovee Mon 16-Jul-12 09:25:20

The only problem with this thread is that it will go poof in 88 days as it's in chat! Could it get moved?

PeanutButterCupCake Mon 16-Jul-12 11:16:00

Good idea groovee

<<waves arms in the air>>

MNHQ cooooeeee, over here!

Do we need to report and ask?

PandaWatch Mon 16-Jul-12 12:28:25

HARRY POTTER WARNING: when we went to Islands of Adventure over the Easter holidays we arrived at opening and went straight up to HP (it's at the top of the park and more or less the furthest point from the entrance). Even then, it was so busy that they were giving out tickets for a time slot to come back. There were 4 of us and we had split off into pairs and both ended up with a 4 person slot. When we came back for our allotted time slot around midday there was a couple with two young children who had just come up to HP and were told that all the slots were gone. Luckily we had our spare tickets so they were ok but otherwise they wouldn't have been able to go in at all so PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE make sure you head straight up there as soon as you get in as it is absolutely amazing and no one should have to miss out!

FYI if you want to eat in one of the HP restaurants book in advance. And make sure you have a butter beer - it is the most delicious thing ever!

Someone also mentioned Cheesecake Factory - definitely the most amazing food and an incredible choice but make sure you save room for dessert! There's one at the Mall at Millennia (although the Florida Mall is, imo, better for shopping).

PandaWatch Mon 16-Jul-12 12:35:16

Definitely second JWIM's Epcot meal suggestions and there is a really sweet little boat ride next to the indoor restuarant in Mexico. But do book for any meals you fancy. My sister is in Florida at the moment and they tried to book a character breakfast a couple of weeks ago but they were all booked up.

Another tip for the Magic Kingdom fire works: just before they start make a dash for the ferry. If you stand at the back of the ferry you not only get an amazing view of the fireworks but you miss the final rush out of the park.

YouBrokeMySmoulder Mon 16-Jul-12 13:03:46

Yes if you really don't want to queue you have to get to thearls for rope drop, even with teens shirl, they will thank you later when you are leaving after lunch and other people are in 80 minute queues.

HP absolutely has to be done first thing or last thing at night. Or you need to book 1 night on site to get two days early entry and front of the line passes.

If you are in a free dining period and want any character meals then these need to be booked when your 180 day window opens.

Groovee Mon 16-Jul-12 16:15:16

Thanks for the tip about HP

RebeccaMumsnet (MNHQ) Mon 16-Jul-12 16:45:35

Hi all,

We have moved this thread over to Longhaul so that it doesn't disappear.

Lots of really interesting and useful stuff.

Groovee Mon 16-Jul-12 17:59:01

Thank you sooooooo much Rebecca xx

mummytime Mon 16-Jul-12 18:05:36

My big tip is do tell Disney the reason for your trip. You may get some nice little surprises, also if there is any help you need do discuss it with them.
Finally if anything does happen to spoil your stay (Yes I mean you Wayne on the Tower of Terror) do go and talk to customer services they can really turn a bad day around.

Oh and take plenty of plasters, as we got a lot of little cuts/grazes at the water parks. Odd!

BellaVita Mon 16-Jul-12 19:11:51

Panda, I second the Cheesecake Factory, food was delish.

NoHunIntended Mon 16-Jul-12 19:53:53

OutragedAtThePriceOfFreddos seems to have been ignored, so I'll voice again concerns for the dolphins and whales. Please please read the following:, there's a section on performing dolphins and whales, please know what you are supporting when you go to places like Sea World.

Other than that, have a great time on your holidays, sounds wonderful.

I'm intrigued now about Wayne on Tower of Terror!!

Rock n Roller Coaster is AWESOME as they say over there.
Everest at Animal Kingdom was like having teeth pulled - only went on it to not disappoint my son. Thank god we were back on the ground when they had a tech malfunction and some poor sods were stuck 100 feet up for ten minutes.

Second Soarin' fast pass as soon as you get to Epcot and don't miss the interractive Crush turtle chat in the Nemo bit too. Epcot is more laid back and spacious - we really enjoyed it. Magic Kingdom is the busiest of everywhere and you need to purchase a fan in there or it's hell grin We loved a little ride tucked away near Dumbo which is a Goofy mini rollercoaster.

Favourite ride was the Runaway Train in Frontierland in Magic Kingdom. We went on it so many times the assistants chatted to us.

mummytime Tue 17-Jul-12 10:35:45

Oh Fantasyland will be bigger and better by the time you get there, and I don't think that little Goofy Rollercoaster will be quite as little or hidden (it was shut for the big re-build when we were there).
We loved the Kim Possible adventure at Epcot, and I think there will be a similar one at the Magic Kingdom. At Epcot don't miss the Coke a Cola place were you can try drinks from around the world, we loved the Watermelon one from China.

I am sure you will find your own secret attractions. If you have a Kindle I downloaded a book on "Hidden Disney" that also added to the attraction a bit.

Groovee Wed 18-Jul-12 11:39:40

The Brits Guide to Orlando 2013 is available for pre-order from Amazon for £10.49.

The Unofficial Guide is available to preorder too for a similar price

ihatethecold Wed 18-Jul-12 13:14:30

i wanna know what Wayne did at the tower of terror???

mummytime Wed 18-Jul-12 13:50:18

We had a 8 year old who was tall enough but didn't want to ride. We asked about switching processes. They pushed us through the ride, then diverted the child and one adult out, without giving "fast pass" tickets as most rides do. The adult and child ended up in the area at the end of the ride which was basically unmanned. When everyone else arrived we couldn't find staff to help.
We walked back to the start of the ride. Wayne basically said he had been there all the time, he didn't recognise us. He hadn't been there when we went through at the start. No one would have pushed us through like that. and that we were lying.
This upset everyone in the party. In the end we went to customer services who were great. Made a note about Wayne. Gave us 10 use anywhere (except the Buzz Lightyear) fast passes valid for 5 days.

Customer services are great. A few members of staff are not. They seem to be best at Magic Kingdom, slightly less wonderful at the other parks.

(We did do the Rock and Roller Coaster without waiting.)

KinkyDorito Wed 18-Jul-12 18:37:16

I am increasingly militant after the last couple of years we've had as a family. Wayne'd better beware grin.

Love Rock and Roll Rollercoaster. It is my favourite.

Can I say a big thanks again for all the help and tips? thanks

Thomson's won't let us upgrade to concierge floor of hotel as they can't offer that through their company (suggestion was made up thread). I am starting to get quite unimpressed with them, tbh. I booked the holiday (which is very expensive) through them 16 months in advance. They said they could insure us, but when I rang the insurers up after we booked to check details I was refused. I called Thomson's the very next business day to say that if I couldn't find an insurer then we wouldn't be able to go as it's too much money to risk, but they said I would still lose my deposit for cancelling. Not impressed when they didn't check that we were okay on the insurance that they gave us.

Live and learn, I suppose. I'm not used to buying holidays through an agent... or any holidays for that matter.

YouBrokeMySmoulder Wed 18-Jul-12 18:52:22

I would phone Disney direct Kinky to see if they can do it - they are very good. it would be a good opportunity to mention the reasonb for your trip as well - they will do lots of little things for you.

I have also used memories by betsy to do surprise gift baskets - they deliver them into your room so that they are there when you come back from the parks - you can have anything in the disney shops onsite apart from food. its lovely.

Groovee Wed 18-Jul-12 22:19:07

:-( Kinky

Lockey Wed 08-Aug-12 14:50:06

OK, now I am really worried too. We are going to Savannah for a week in a weeks time and then driving to Orlando. We will arrive in Orlando on Monday 27 August and then meet family who live in the States on Friday 31st for four days and stay with them in Wilderness Lodge and do Magic Kingdom before leaving on the 2nd. So, other than staying in Wilderness Lodge and doing Magic Kingdom (which I know will be busy as it is labor day weekend) we have planned nothing between 27th august and 31st August. Am I mad? We have accommodation at Floridays for that time but in terms of theme parks I just thought I would sort it out when we got there. DD is 8 and DS is 6. I thought we would probably do Universal between 27th and 31st. I have just registered with the Disney for Brits site but now I am totally confused and overwhelmed! I don't want to do any of the dolphin swimming / sea world type places but other than that what should we consider and what should I book in advance? Any advice gratefully received!

YouBrokeMySmoulder Wed 08-Aug-12 21:45:58

Go to easywdw and look at the recommended days, stick to them, get to the park half an hour before opening on a non EMH day and tour properly doing the most popular things first and using fast pass. You do need to plan that weekend or it's going to be a nightmare.

If you are going to universal then the same principle applies, get there for opening and do the most popular things first, look into express pass prices.

Lockey Sun 12-Aug-12 23:19:29

Youbrokemysmouldr thank you so much. Have looked at easywdw and getting a little more organised. In your opinion are we better off going for the seven days pass for Disney and giving universal and ioa a miss or should we rally not miss ioa and universal. Ds is a tall and quite confident 6 and dd is 8. It is our first trip to any Disney so I am sure they will be blown away by everything but ioa and universal does look great but it does make it so much more expensive. So..... Just Disney or do we accept it is going to be super pricey and do universal too? Tanks so much for the help !

YouBrokeMySmoulder Mon 13-Aug-12 11:32:48

Accept it is going to be super pricey and do both. I think IOA and Universal are unmissable tbh unless you are going to be going back within 2 years or so.

I think the Universal tix arent that bad - I think we paid 95quid for a 2-day hopper.

KinkyDorito Thu 30-Aug-12 16:45:37

You need to update us on how it was Lockey. Hope you are having a lovely time smile.

ihatethecold Fri 31-Aug-12 07:30:57

Reading this thread makes me exited
We are off to Florida in oct gringringringrin
I am counting down the days
Went last year and loved it.
I'm gonna buy loads of nail varnish and more converse!

KinkyDorito Fri 31-Aug-12 09:25:39

ihate have a fab time, and come back and let us know how it was smile.

ssd Fri 31-Aug-12 09:47:21

has anyone on this thread been to LA and done Disney/universal and seaworld there? how does it compare?

and what place would you recommend most, eg. Florida or LA?

YouBrokeMySmoulder Fri 31-Aug-12 12:36:36

Hi ssd I have done Disney in LA but not Universal - we went to Florida instead last time for Harry Potter which isnt in California. You do get Carsland at Disney in California though.

The main difference is size - in Florida, WDW is the size of a city with 4 differen parks and 2 waterparks and umpteen hotels, in California its the size of one block.

If you're going to California then do the parks as well but its not all of the holiday - its an add-on. If you want to just do parks with a little bit of beach added on then go to Florida.

Time of year matters as well of course as, for us, its too hot in Florida past may.

ssd Fri 31-Aug-12 15:52:47

thanks youbroke

we'd be going June/July....I don't like the heat (!) so where would be bearable for me IYSWIM?

we aren't totally mad on the parks, we like sightseeing, beaches (I hide under trees..)and generally getting a feel for the place, wandering about and people watching

is there anything you'd recommend in California, I have teens?

YouBrokeMySmoulder Fri 31-Aug-12 16:42:24

God yes, I think california would be great for teens.

Our itinerary was: LA (Santa Monica, Venice Beach, Hollywood, galleries and museums, Disneyland, Newport Beach - for surfing), then down to San Diego for some chilled out but alternative vibe beach scene (and Seaworld if you're interested), then Palm Springs as a base for the Joshua Tree national Park for a bit of desert, if you had longer you could drive out through Death Valley etc. Then back to LA again.

There is so much to do in California.

Florida is great too but outside of Orlando and Miami a much more laidback holiday - you can do the everglades then drive down to the Keys.

You can get away with not driving in Orlando though and of course there is Cape canaveral if your teens are into that, and Florida would come in cheaper as well with the deals you can get...

ssd Fri 31-Aug-12 18:03:36

yes, Florida is coming in cheaper, Ca more of a tailormaid holiday

what about weather wise? where is hotter?

YouBrokeMySmoulder Fri 31-Aug-12 19:32:44

Florida hotter and stickier but there are ways to get round it by going to the parks early and then a waterpark or hotel pool in the afternoon. It's lovely in the evening too.

California not quite as hot but dryer heat and nowhere near as much rain.

Would you stay on site at Disney or universal?

ssd Sat 01-Sep-12 09:26:01

we'd probably stay nr Anaheim

its just so very expensive, isn't it!

we've been saving for ages to take the kids abroad and have looked at going to maybe a city/beach holiday where there's different things to do

we looked at Barcelona and then the coast line near to it, but a holiday there was coming in at over £3k for 2 weeks and that wasn't somewhere "posh"!!

I figured if thats for 2 weeks in Spain we might as well spend a bit more and go to Ca, where we love....or Florida, which everyone raves about

I know we could get a cheaper deal 2 weeks abroad somewhere, but the kids of holiday where its all sun/beach/pool then entertainment at night in the hotel really sounds awful to me and I think the kids would get bored pretty soon, although I've never done it so really it might be great, who knows

AnnaLiza Sat 01-Sep-12 14:10:15

Hi, we've just come back from 3 weeks in California of which 2 were spent between Anaheim and San Diego.
The weather was stunning! Never a cloud in the sky and around 26-28 degrees, so very manageable.
We did hire a car and hubby hated the driving because there was traffic at all times of day and night. The highways are also very complicated with lots of lanes and intersections.
Disneyland went beyond my expectations! I was expecting a beautiful theme's actually a magical place. You need to see it to believe it. We also loved Disney California Adventure which is next to Disbeyland and was included in our park hopper tickets. In terms of where to stay, the hotels inside the resort are very expensive so we stayed at the Candy Cane Inn. Brilliant and 5 minutes walk to the parks' entrance.
Universal also went beyond my expectations, with the tour of the studios where such famous films are shot! Loved it!
As for Hollywood, must be seen I guess but don't spend more than a day there. It's basically a residential area with a famous theatre (Kodak theatre) and stars on the pavement (the walk of fame).
We also loved Seaworld and the San Diego zoo. We didn't have time to go to Knot Berry Farm and Knots Soak City (the waterpark) but I've heard good things.
The beaches in Santa Monica and La Jolla are great. We didn't like Venice beach as too dirty and full of druggies.
I recommend getting a Southern California City Pass to save on entrance tickets.
If you need any more info dont hesitate to ask!

YouBrokeMySmoulder Sat 01-Sep-12 15:26:15

Ssd, in your situation I would do Florida, a week in Orlando and then a few days on the gulf coast. Properly planned the heat isn't a problem and if you can go in a free dining period and stay on site at Disney then you save money or you can get a cheap villa from owners direct with all the games consoles and satellite telly included.

The bonus of being onsite as well with teens is that they take themselves to the parks on the bus, marvellous.

PissyDust Sat 01-Sep-12 16:56:09

Very exciting thread, we won't be able to go for years yet so I'm very excited for those that are!

Wishing your family lots of luck kinky.

ssd Sat 01-Sep-12 19:34:01

youbroke, sadly the kids are just turned 13, couldnt let them go off themselves! can I ask why you prefer Orlando to Ca?

really like the sound of your holiday annaliza,,,,can I ask what you did the other week, did you go inland or further up the coast?

sorry for this hijack op blush

YouBrokeMySmoulder Sat 01-Sep-12 20:27:45

I reckon you could, absolutely there, it's so safe you wouldn't believe it, you can deffo do it in a park itself, after all they will want to go on rock and roller again and again and you won't. They get themselves to school don't they?

I prefer CA overall as a holiday but it's much more planning, organisation and money. Florida is much easier and cheaper. Because the dc were happy all of the time I found it very relaxing, it's not real of course but it is easy.

ssd Sat 01-Sep-12 20:41:18

I'll take your word for it grin

where did your kids prefer?

YouBrokeMySmoulder Sat 01-Sep-12 20:45:52

Hmm interesting question. It was only ds for CA and he was only 5. I think if they were given an option they would do Florida again. California he loved but said it was a lot of time in the car. Yours are so much older though and so presumably that won't be a problem.

You can get a much more varied holiday in CA but the first time I did Florida pre dc we flew to Miami, did that, did the Everglades, drove down to key west for some diving etc, then back up to the gulf coast for the Dali museum and some beach time, the a few days in Orlando, space coast and cape canaveral then fort lauderdale and back to Miami.

Now we wouldn't do that because realistically you need 2 days for universal and then however many for Disney, we took 5, one for each park and some waterpark and downtown Disney time.

ssd Sat 01-Sep-12 20:47:59

thanks x

ssd Sat 01-Sep-12 20:50:16

am struggling a bot with it all, have very limited funds, this will be a one off for us!

me and dh would prefer Ca, and the kids might prefer Orlando!!

just don't know what to do...

ssd Sat 01-Sep-12 20:51:53

a bit not a bot!!

Waswondering Sat 01-Sep-12 21:12:10

(Not read whole thread and apologies if this has already been asked, but ....

Please could you let me know realistically how much a holiday to Florida would cost for a family of 4? Dc are currently 9 and 6, and there's no plan to go, but it's a "oooh, that would be a fabulous holiday!" thought and I'm not sure what realistically it would cost .... to see if it would ever happen! So what would the ball park budget be for a family of 4? £3k? £4k? Assuming Scottish school hols.

Thanks. smile)

YouBrokeMySmoulder Sat 01-Sep-12 21:14:53

I would price both up properly and then you'll have a better idea. What do you actually want from a holiday too? If you're going to drive out to the desert and have a really varied holiday then California is the way to go. You have to bear in mind the flight though as well. I found that a bit of a killer for CA.

The other worry about Orlando is that we said it was a holiday of a lifetime but as soon as we came back we wanted to again!

We used a planning service for Disney by the way that wasnt that expensive but meant we didn't queue as we knew where we were supposed to be. Mind you you need to get there for park opening everyday, especially for Harry potter, do yours like to sleep in?

YouBrokeMySmoulder Sat 01-Sep-12 21:18:39

Waswondering, depends on whether you stay in a villa, a cheap hotel or onsite etc. but the flights are going to be 2k, the tickets another 1k an the cheapest villa 500. You can get deals for about 700 in the cheapest hotels at the cheapest time of year but you still need park tickets.

We spent about 5k all in but flew with virgin nonstop, cheap time of year, stayed moderate and luxury hotels and free dining at Disney. With unlimited Disney tickets and 2 day universal tickets. We didn't spend much on stuff like shopping though. Virgin holidays are ridiculously marked up, I wouldn't touch them.

Waswondering Sat 01-Sep-12 21:24:19

Thanks YBMS - that's really helpful.

(Notes for the future .... eeek!) grin

AnnaLiza Sat 01-Sep-12 21:28:47

The first week we went to San Francisco and Yosemite. Both amazing places!
It was an incredible holiday not least because none of us got bored (DCs aged 9 and 10 plus a baby!). I would have got bored with just theme parks and that's why we decided to do California instead of Orlando. We did city sightseeing, national parks, beaches and theme parks all in the same holiday. There wasn't that much organising really. I researched the hotels on tripadvisor and compared prices on a few websites. I booked them all in advance. We hired a car with a satnav and that was it, really. You just need to decide how long to spend in each place and that depends on what you want to do broadly speaking but you can fine-tune the details last minute to a certain extent (for example on day 10 the DCs preferred the beach over Legoland near San Diego).
It was expensive but we did learn a few tricks as we went along that saved us money. The main one was to eat in "self-serve" restaurants rather than being waited upon. I don't mean fast foods, you know places where you order and pay at the counter and then go and find a table when your food is ready. It was always $50 to $60 per meal cheaper to dine this way.
HTH smile

arfur Sat 01-Sep-12 21:29:23

Hi Kinky [waves] grin my tips are put kids in sun suit type tops and shorts and crocs for the wet ride places (hate being dripping wet then air conditioned restaurants) and wet shoes are a PITA. If doing disco cove book your dolphin slot early unless you rock the wet hair look in photos (I don't) also breakfast there is inc in price and is good so aim to get there early and eat brekkie. I would DEFINITELY email Animal kingdom lodge and explain situation. American hotels in general respond really well to prior info and disney even more so! If possible request a room not too far from main hotel area as its huge! Don't miss after dark animal viewings by the pool with night vision goggles - fab! Also we loved the brown derby rest in studios (goofy telephoned dd in there still don't know why) great food. Also second bubba gumps, mythos and rainforest cafe. Back with more when I remember it grin

YouBrokeMySmoulder Sat 01-Sep-12 21:33:48

The thing is though that I don't see California v Orlando as a valid sort of comparison. They are both very different holidays. The only thing slightly comparable is the price.

ihatethecold Sat 01-Sep-12 22:26:37

Just for info. Virgin will price match.
I recently got £400 off my 4 hotels in Florida.
Did a bit of research into the prices myself.
But I now have the extras that come with booking through virgin like free parking and breakfasts. grin

ssd Sat 01-Sep-12 22:45:22

I suppose I'm comparing them as we'd go to Disney/universal/sea world and both places have these

must admit the thought of only seeing theme parks fills me with horror!

maybe not Florida then?

ihatethecold Sun 02-Sep-12 09:13:14

Florida isnt just theme parks.
We got to the gulf coast after orlando.
Its just lovely there.
Great beaches.
Amazing wildlife.
Clear blue sea like bathwater grin

arfur Sun 02-Sep-12 10:42:50

Ooh also highly recommend a day out to gator land we had a lovely low key relaxing day there, a real antidote to the Disney mania! And keep your eyes peeled at AKL we saw a snake from our balcony and described it to one of the rangers and she said shed never seen one in 4 years of working there (I forget what type it was but big black thing and not dangerous) smile

KinkyAllTooOrangeDorito Sat 15-Sep-12 12:53:57

Having a glitch in the respect I can't get travel insurance until DD finishes chemotherapy. (It would cost more than £1000 and not cover cancellation anyway.)

What we've decided is that we will wait. If she becomes ill again, we can postpone it until the following year for a £35 admin fee. If everything is okay, we'll get travel insurance in May. This also makes me reluctant to book Discovery Cove in advance. Will I be alright leaving Discovery Cove booking until May - will we still get in for August?

Thanks all.

Haven't read whole thread but for those planning Disney Florida the log site easy wdw is fantastic.

MOSagain Wed 19-Sep-12 14:25:13

kinky so sorry to read about you having to cancel.
Not too sure about Discovery cove, we went years ago before it was well advertised and as popular as it is now. Why not email them and ask. Also, why not find out if you can book and get a full re-fund if you cancel within a reasonable period of time. They will easily re-book at short notice as have a sales point in Seaworld and people always try to get last minute bookings.

Good luck and I hope your DD recovers soon x

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