Advanced search

Disney World Florida: Your top tips for first timers

(19 Posts)
manicmum66 Thu 27-Dec-12 20:52:57

Hi all, I'm hoping to take DH and our 2 children (10 yr old DD and 8 yr old DS) on a fab trip to Orlando in October half term 2013. Probably for about 10 days as a week seems a bit short. However, I'm feeling a bit overwhelmed by all the choices out there and wondered if you Mumsnetters might have any top tips.

We'd probably like to go to Disney for about 3 days, Epcot, Seaworld and maybe Harry Potter. All the ticket deals seem to exclude at least some of these. Would we be better getting tickets individually?

There's a Disney deal on with a dining plan. Anyone used one of these before? (Just a bit reticent as, on previous visits to USA many moons ago before kids, I felt so stuffed full of burgers etc I came back craving salad)

Where is a good area to stay? If not too extortionate I'd like to stay in a Disney resort - something 4 star, but would look at other options too. Any particular recommendations?

Is it best to book as a package or individually? Any recommendations?

Also, a bit worried that we might catch the end of the hurricane season. Anyone got any experience of Florida in Oct?

Thanks in advance!

MamaGeekChic Thu 27-Dec-12 23:11:51

wee bump as i'm watching this too hoping for some insight.

noisytoys Thu 27-Dec-12 23:16:51

We went last year it was amazing. We stayed on International Drive it is walking distance to Sea World and Universal Studios and good transport links to Disney World it was very cheap ($50 a night for a family room). We would def stay there again the whole holiday was amazing

MOSagain Fri 28-Dec-12 17:06:08

We go quite regularly and have often gone in October and weather has been great. Its a fabulous place to be for Halloween too.

Given the ages of your DC, I'd recommend Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom or Hollywood studios out of the Disney parks, seaworld and either of the Universal parks (Islands of Adventure is where Harry Potter is).

We always stay in a villa as it gives so much freedom (and no fighting over sun loungers). You'd get a really nice villa from around £400 per week and many will do odd durations, ie 10 days.

Have a look at or for a wider selection

Flights into Orlando International Airport tend to be very expensive so last year we saved over £1,200 (for 6 of us) by flying into Tampa which was only an extra 20 mins drive.

HollyDayzacummin Fri 28-Dec-12 17:17:26

I signed on to the DIBB boards. If you google it, it's a world of information about Disney schedules, how to approach the parks, how to tackle the busy days, etc.

We went at Easter and I was absolutely dreading it, as everywhere I read people saying it was an awful place to be that time of year, but by following the advice on the DIBB boards, we had the best holiday we've ever had and have decided to do it again when I'm 50 (only a couple of years away now). We have decided not to do all the parks next time, but I think it was good to do them all the first time we went as it was an experience and we were free and easy with the budget. Next time we'll be a bit more budget concious.

We found that booking accommodation separately, then trying to find flights, wasn't cost effective. We booked via James Villas. We could have done a more cost effective deal going through a hotel, but my husband loves his independence and being able to switch off without being surrounded by others, so a villa was perfect for us.

I loved Disney...loved it, loved it, loved it. I would go villa, myself, as it gives you so many options for how you run your holiday. I am now officially jealous smile

cathers Fri 28-Dec-12 19:24:05

We went last year and spent 6 nights at Animal Kingdom Lodge which is a 4 star Disney hotel on the dining plan, then did 10 days in a villa whilst doing non Disney things.
Loved the hotel, great pool and really a theme park itself. Great to have free transport straight to the park gates and not have to drive, pay for parking and transfers to the park and you get in earlier and later to saving queue times. The dining plan saved lots of money- especially with the children and drinks! The food wasnt all burgers but this varies depending on your hotel i think. At AKL lots of the food was 'africian style', rice, salad, grilled meat etc so good and varied.
We were quite surprised how much prices had risen in supermarket so food shopping whilst at the villa was on par will dining plan costs.

manicmum66 Fri 28-Dec-12 22:17:01

Thanks for the replies. I had my eye on the Animal Kingdom Lodge, so good to know you liked it. If anyone has any more tips, please do post. Thanks again!

gregssausageroll Sat 29-Dec-12 07:48:48

We have been looking too possibly for may. Going to look at Tampa flights so that is a good tip. We have found masses of accommodation on international drive that has fantastic reviews on trip advisor that is cheap as chips. Going to go with that.

We are also looking at 10 days. Also struggling with tickets as there is so much choice.

Flossiechops Sat 29-Dec-12 07:57:18

I wouldn't even contemplate a hotel, the parks can be very busy (we've been in feb and march). It's wonderful to come back and have home comforts in privacy plus your own pool. We stayed in Davenport both times which I would recommend. We thought that universal studios was a huge waste of money as our dc were too small for a lot of rides but the were only 6&7 at the time. Universal is just not as spectacular as the Disney parks which are all out of this world. Have a fab time! grin

gregssausageroll Sat 29-Dec-12 08:24:01

That is good to know flossie. Been pondering tickets for days. We have found a suite on ID which is £650 for 2 weeks and flights into Tampa for £1100 for the 3 of us which is good I think. Just trying to work out if we can manage without a car and use shuttle buses - dh drives for a living so likes not to drive on holiday.

ihatethecold Sat 29-Dec-12 09:25:49

hi, i went this year at half term.
we flew to Tampa, but the flight does arrive quite late and you will be tired.
we stayed in clearwater for a couple of nights to relax (about 45 mins away) then drove up to Orlando.

We didn't do Disney parks this time just universal and IOA. they were not busy, not much queuing. although we got there early.
went to blizzard beach which was fab, but the water was a little chilly at times.

How old are your kids?

I have never stayed in a villa, just hotels which include breakfast. it can get quite exp buying food for 4 of us.

Would consider a villa if i went again to keep costs down.

buy your park tickets before you go, i have bought from florida tix before.

Virgin holidays will price match, i saved £500 by doing a bit of research on my accommodation.

we have stayed at the Hilton at bonnet creek twice now, have a look at the ratings on TripAdvisor. its amazing and free transport to all the disney parks.

noisytoys Sat 29-Dec-12 10:03:55

If you stay on International Drive, rather than get the shuttles provided by the hotels which are at set times, you can use the Linx bus for £4 each and children ride free it makes travelling to and from parks more flexible. The only other thing is on all busses in Florida, pushchairs must be folded and babies carried. They think its a health and safety risk to have an open pushchair on a bus

gregssausageroll Sat 29-Dec-12 10:06:53

That is ok as ds walks. The plan is to do the Disney parks and that is it. Not ones for shopping so i am Hoping taxi from airport and buses will be cheaper than car hire.

SparklySanta Sat 29-Dec-12 10:34:49

We went in September and other than it being a bit muggy the weather was great (hurricane season) we had 1.5 days of rain, but that was actually quite fun, the thunderstorm we witnessed was amazing!! It's a risk you take but we never had a problem!

Staying on Disney is a great idea, their intern transport system is amazing! That being said we stayed on international drive and made use of the free shuttles from our hotel to Disney and then the I-trolley for everything else!!

My friend did the Disney dining plan and said it was great, I believe you can use it in different hotels on the Disney park so it's got a huge selection! You do restrict yourselves a little though, we found some fab places to eat both in and out of the parks!

Check out rainforest cafe in downtown Disney, the burger place by the dinosaur ride in animal kingdom, sizzlers out I-drive and the pasta/pizza buffet in seaworld!!!

Also if you venture to universal the food is a tad rubbish, don't bother with the three broomsticks in the wizarding world of Harry potter! Head for Hard Rock Cafe instead!!

Oh and don't bother boozing in to the early hours, the highlight of the hotel we were staying in was that the pool was open till 1am, so we'd have a busy day in the parks, go for dinner and then come back and spend a few hours in the pool! I've decided you haven't lived until you've watched lion king on a giant screen while floating in a pool with only a handful of people!! Bliss!!

You'll have an amazing time, as will your children, such perfect ages!!

SparklySanta Sat 29-Dec-12 10:39:57

Oh and as for tickets
The Disney combined pass, something like 14 days unlimited access to all their parks and water parks!

The Orlando flexi ticket for 14 days unlimited to universal, seaworld, Busch gardens and associated water parks!

That's what worked out cheapest for us!

Oh and Busch gardens is worth a trip, head to seaworld first thing and you can take advantage of the free coach that takes you to Busch gardens and back again!

Doilooklikeatourist Sat 29-Dec-12 10:59:43

We went a few (5 ? ) years ago . So not entirely up to date info .

We stayed at Animal Kingdom Lodge , we booked a package with Virgin holidays , that included the Disney park tickets , the dining plan and transfers .
Didn't hire a car , transport system was great .

We stayed 12 days , only left the Disney area once to go to a big shopping mall . We didn't see everything , it's huge ! I think it's the size of greater Manchester .
We split the days up , eg go to the park , back to the pool at the hotel for a rest , then back to the park for dinner and fireworks .
The water parks are huge too , and worth a visit depending on the weather

If you take the dining plan book the nice restaurants before you go . ( I think 100 days in advance )

manicmum66 Sat 29-Dec-12 13:10:02

Thanks so much for the tips. Have signed up on DIBB boards - what a lot of info!!

Good to know we could get away without car hire if at a Disney resort. Thinking of just getting the 14 day Disney ticket and leaving Universal until kids a bit bigger. The 14 day ticket is same price as 7 and comes with free Quick Dining Plan. Not sure its worth upgrading to the table service - could just buy the odd restaurant meal as we go along.

Btw,who are the cheap flights to Tampa with?

Thanks all!

user1499162249 Tue 04-Jul-17 11:05:21

Does anyone know where we can get a personalised video message from a Disney character informing our Niece she's going to Disneyworld in Orlando?? This is for a surprise for her birthday... If anyone can help we'd be grateful!

WinnieTheW0rm Tue 04-Jul-17 11:12:42



You might be better off starting a new thread, as people will clock that this is a zombie from 2013 and may not scroll down to see why it has been reanimated.

All the advice on the thread is 4 years old and so cannot be relied on, and those who posted then might not still be regular MNetters.

Join the discussion

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

Register now »

Already registered? Log in with: