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

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

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

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

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

Any advice welcome!

mummymeister Fri 12-Apr-13 11:07:20

buy the book wdw with kids and check out the dibb website first. 5 days is pretty full on if you want to visit disney, water park, do the evening shows etc. villas will usually only book by the week but are cheaper. you need to do a bit of reading first, decide what kind of a holiday you want to have and then take it from there. i would have thought 5 days wasnt long enough with a 7 year old personally.

DTisMYdoctor Fri 12-Apr-13 12:17:42

Thanks mummymeister - I'll check those out. We definitely won't go for longer than around a week as we're likely to go in October half term - but I appreciate that will limit what we can do.

Any other suggestions/comments on my OP most welcome!

ChestysLonelyYoni Fri 12-Apr-13 12:24:01

2nd the Dibb, can answer any question you need to know.

We stayed on I Drive and books lynx bus tickets pre trip. Took longer than driving but saved on parking everyday and felt like it was in the spirit of things grin

Lots of tourists took the buses. Our hotel also did a free shuttle to most of the parks.

Is soooo much cheaper out of the school holidays too.

We went at Easter and parks were very full.

Also think 5 days isn't enough if you plan to do all the parks.
We stayed two weeks and everyday was used up with the parks.

We allowed a day per park as they're huge and arrived at opening and generally headed back to hotel around tea time. Long tiring days in the heat.

So we did Discovery Cove, universal, island of adventure, sea world, Hollywood studios, Epcot (2days), magic kingdom (2days), animal kingdom, downtown Disney and aquatica.
We also had a lazy day by the pool and the went back to Hollywood studios for fantasmic fireworks.

There were lots of things we didn't do.

I shall definitely be planning a return trip grin

salcz Fri 12-Apr-13 13:29:53

5 days may be ok if you don't plan on visiting any non-disney parks. If you stay in resort, you can usually get a dining plan, saving you loads on food (which is expensive in the parks) and transport between parks and hotels is free.

I've always gone with Virgin so can't comment on getting better deals by doing it separately. I found that a Virgin package was cheaper than Thomas Cook / Thompson (in 2011).

I'm planning going back in 2020 when DS is 8. Can't wait!

DTisMYdoctor Fri 12-Apr-13 13:33:23

Thanks ChestysLonelyYoni. I've had a quick look at the Dibb website and it looks great. I'll order the book mummymeister recommended too.

Going out of school holidays won't be an option unfortunately, but I think I will look at doing a full week in Florida rather than 5 days. I know we'll not get to do all the parks, but I figure some is better than none grin

I can see me spending a lot of time reading the very many MN threads over the next year or so!

carriedawayannie Fri 12-Apr-13 13:41:41

Does anyone know the rough cost of bpoking a villa, flights, food and spending money for a family of four?

ChestysLonelyYoni Fri 12-Apr-13 13:52:35

Would the Easter holidays be any good instead?

DTisMYdoctor Fri 12-Apr-13 15:05:36

No, a week in October it will be. Which we don't mind tbh. We know we'll just have to think carefully about where we really really want to go to.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Am warming DH up to a bit of Florida driving grin

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

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

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

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

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

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

And what tickets you choose Groovee?

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

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

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

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

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

Hi DT.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Am so ready for this holiday.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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