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Planning our first disney world trip for 2016 - don't even know where to start! Please can I have some help?

(21 Posts)
ElsaShmelsa Sun 15-Feb-15 17:26:55

We have decided to take our dd (she will be coming up to 7) to disney world next year for the first (and probably only) time. I don't know where to start and would really appreciate some advice... So a few questions:

What is the best time of year to go (for cheapness and weather)?
Is it better to stay in a hotel or to get a villa (there will just be 2 adults and dd)?
Are there tried and tested websites that you would use to book your accommodation/flights/car hire etc?
Where is the best area to stay if we want Universal Studios and Disney World?

We want to save enough money to enjoy ourselves and need to be realistic about how much we will need to save. How much (roughly) would get us a decent 10/14 night holiday. Standard of accommodation I would imagine will be 3-4 star...

I know this is all a bit vague but I have no idea where to start...

Awks Sun 15-Feb-15 17:34:28

Are you stuck with school holidays? If so then Easter's your best time, I guess. You could go in a Disney resort and get the free dining plan. Though we never do that, we stayed here last year as we got a good package deal with Thomas Cook but this year we're diy'ing and going in a villa as we're going with family.

ElsaShmelsa Mon 16-Feb-15 06:43:17

Well we are thinking of taking dd out for a week if we have to so could also do it around the half terms... What is February like?

StrawberryTallCake Mon 16-Feb-15 07:01:56

We stay in a villa every time, I love disney but being in the parks and the hotels can become a bit too intense.

We have always found excellent value villas on owners direct. Windsor Hills and Reunion Resort are both gated and safe developments near disney. It's nice to have your own pool too and get some peace and quiet (IMO).

I've only been in early May and June which are usually very hot with May being the quieter time - not sure on Feb.

Flights - we've booked ours with BA, their sale ended a week or so ago but economy seats were around £600 each return. I think virgin are better with economy though. You can book your car with your flight? Or there are car hire places in the terminal. Orlando airport is a bit of a nightmare and there has not been a time I've waited less than an hour to get through security then an extra 30 mins for car, be prepared!!

Moneysavingexpert has great tips on where to buy park tickets, I've just bought ours from the uk disney site. You can book character dining, bibbidi bobbidi boutique and other events (fireworks and dinner packages) on the site and it keeps them all in one place for you. I found the park tickets cheaper on there too. Don't miss Mickey's backyard BBQ, it's lovely smile people often think the best fireworks are at the magic kingdom but I love Hollywood studios for many reasons.

Obviously there are a million ways to book and you may prefer a hotel, this is just the way we do it. The budget can also be changeable, best thing to do is have a look!

StrawberryTallCake Mon 16-Feb-15 07:15:50

this is the kind of villa you can get in one of the closest and newest resorts. That would be around £1800 for your dates.

this one is about £1000 for 2 weeks.

There are lots of bigger & cheaper villas on other estates we have stayed in - highlands reserve and calabay parc.

ISolemnlySwearImUptoNoGood Mon 16-Feb-15 07:31:17

I've been and woah! what an experience, I'm dying to go back one day! I didn't book the holiday myself (I was about 13 and it was a planned trip with school) so I too would have no idea where to begin but I just found loads of info here.. Hope it can help a bit.

HarrogateMum Mon 16-Feb-15 07:58:35

Get yourself on thedibb website it's full of disney fanatics! We went last August and I used the dibb to plan everything!

HairyPotter Mon 16-Feb-15 08:10:31

I like October. The parks are quieter and the weather is usually brilliant. We only had rain once last year. We do the October week plus a week.

If you are doing Disney and universal, you could consider splitting your holiday and staying one week onsite in Disney (they will probably release their free dining offer around April) then stay onsite in Universal for the 2nd week. We loved the Hard Rock Hotel. You will get free express passes and early entry as well.

A villa would be good but for me it's a bit of a trek to Universal as they tend to be closer to Disney and can be over 30 mins drive to some of the parks. An option would be somewhere like The Sheraton Vistana Village where you could have a 2 bed apartment and you would be closer to everything.

I love Orlando, not just for theme parks either. As someone else said, go onto The Dibb, it really has everything you could ever want to know.

Ohanarama Mon 16-Feb-15 08:35:02

You will have such an amazing time! We went in late May/early June. It coincided with a US bank holiday plus some of their schools had already broken up for summer hols so it was very busy and very humid. I've heard Oct half term is a good time to go, not too busy, hot, expensive.
We paid nearly £6000 for 2 adults, 2 children to stay in a moderate Disney hotel. We got the free dining offer and it was well worth it, we didn't spend much on holiday except for souvenirs etc.
We would have liked to do Universal but it would have added a huge extra expense and we didn't have a hire car. We found it quite difficult to get anywhere from Disney by public transport, I think they don't want you to get away!.
The Dis board is a really helpful forum. Don't forget that if you want some quiet time at Disney you can visit the other hotels, some are quite spectacular!

rookiemere Mon 16-Feb-15 08:41:19

We took DS when he had just turned 7. He had a whale of a time and so did we - we found because of his age that we managed to cover Universal quite quickly as he wasn't able to do many of the rides, so did one day in each of their parks. Therefore basing yourself near Disney might be a good option.

As DS is an only we felt that a villa would be too quiet for us and a hotel room too cramped, therefore we stayed in an apartment, it wasn't the worlds most luxurious but it was perfectly adequate and best of all they had a small water park on site and lots of activities, in fact sometimes it was hard to drag DH and DS away, we paid £650 for 13 nights at Easter - We tended to stay on UK time for the first few days and the drive to Disney was only 10-15 mins and by getting in for opening time the rides weren't crowded until about lunchtime when we were getting ready to head home.

I have heard good things about the Sheraton Vistana Village although it's obviously pricier. Most of the aparthotels offer transport to the parks, but the times are quite restricted so its good to have a car for the flexibility.

I would buy this book before you do anything else : I found it a lot more user friendly than The Dibb and also has some discounts for accomodation which you might be able to use.

If you are doing flights and accomodation separately, flights come out about 11-12 months in advance. We booked through United Airlines and pounced on Easter flights as soon as they came out and also by being a bit flexible saved quite a lot by doing 13 rather than 14 nights.

ElsaShmelsa Mon 16-Feb-15 13:25:09

Wow thank you all so much!! I will take a look at 'The Dibb' and also the links that you've all posted.

Looking at the information you've all given, I think we will go for October half term. The Xmas term 'seems' to be the one where they do less work at school, so if we go the week before the half term I can't imagine DD will miss much. The Head seems to be good aswell and as long as attendance is good, he won't charge the 'fee'.

Also, a big plus is that it will give us a lot longer to save!! DD has only ever flown once, to Jersey and we can't afford to go away this year (family wedding in May) so next year's trip will hopefully be one of a lifetime.

I went to Miami on holiday in my early 20s and we had a two day Orlando excursion so did Universal and Disney, one day each. Which definitely wasn't enough!!! DD is madly into Frozen and I'm a huge fan of Harry Potter, so I think we'll both be happy.

Thank you all again. smile

froomeonthebroom Mon 16-Feb-15 13:44:48

We've booked for October 2016 so we'll see you there! smile

ElsaShmelsa Mon 16-Feb-15 14:03:08

Ha ha ha Froom. We'll be the crazy family dressed as characters from Frozen with an over-excited 7 year old!!! and an even more excited 42 year old.

mummymeister Tue 17-Feb-15 17:07:45

Buy the books WDW with kids and Beyond WDW with kids. they will be, without a doubt the best investment you make. so much information on times to go, places to stay, touring plans. we used ours 2 years running and they were fab. don't do anything else until you have read them from cover to cover and then it will all be so much clearer smile

RollaCola Tue 17-Feb-15 17:13:45

This site is very good for Disney planning too.

I assume you're joking about being dressed as Frozen characters, but if you're not be aware that outside the hallowe'en parties adults are not allowed into the parks in any kind of fancy dress.

chocogirl77 Tue 17-Feb-15 23:44:33

If you're planning on a trip to Disney, I would advise that you stay on property for a couple of reasons.

Firstly, if you're flying into Orlando international, we find it a lot easier to get the free transfer from the airport to our hotel and then pick up our rental car the next day. ( a rental car place is next to the Magic Kingdom, a mini bus comes and picks you up and takes you there).

Secondly, if you want to do the most popular character meals and get the best times for rides, people staying on site can reserve these much earlier than off site.

As your daughter is 6/7 you might want to check out the Art of Animation hotel, there's a little mermaid section with themed rooms. They also have family suites which give you a bit of privacy as they have a separate master bedroom.

There is also bibbity bobbity boutique which does princess makeovers in the castle. Once again, I'd book early to get the best times.

Hope this helps

ElsaShmelsa Wed 18-Feb-15 12:21:51

Thank you all. Mummy, I will order those books, they sound like a good investment.

Rolla, I was joking but wow, I didn't know that! Although obviously it makes sense, a lot can be hidden under a costume (both in terms of weapons and personalities...).

Choco, that's great advice thank you. We will look into all the costs etc, but your reasoning behind staying on site make sense.

Onsera3 Wed 18-Feb-15 16:54:09

I've been to Disney World in May and Feb but have been to Disney in California around Oct half term.

It was a good time re queues but check and see that nothing you really are desperate to go on will be closed. As it's an off peak time some of the popular rides were closed for maintenance. Also parades etc might only be on weekends rather than every night like peak season.

It is fun to go with all the Halloween decorations! But also I think some things were closed as they were decorating for Xmas.

Just have a look and see.

spababe Thu 19-Feb-15 12:07:12

We have been in both October half term + a week and Easter. Weather was about the same but crowds and lines were MUCH better in October. If I still had children at Primary School then I would go then.
We never have a car. We stay in the Lake Buena Vista area which has non Disney (cheaper) restaurants and hotels but is very close to Disney. We use the hotel shuttles, Lynx buses, Disney buses and the occasional taxi to get around. This is cheaper than a car as we are not hammered for parking every day. It probably takes a bit longer but we never have to use the parking trams either which adds to the times.
Work out which parks you want to see. Most can be done in 1 day apart from Epcot and MK which are both 2 day jobs.
Don't forget water parks (which we count as rest days) and Disney Quest/Downtown Disney.
Schedule in a rest day after 3 consecutive park days (!)
Have 'early days' at the beginning of the holiday where you get to the park for when it opens and hit the most popular rides first and leave when you are tired eg mid afternoon/early evening and get Fast Passes although I know Magic Bands have come in since we last went so not sure how Fast Passes work now.
Major rides to hit first:
MK - Dumbo, Big Thunder, Splash Mountain, Minetrain, Space Mountain
Epcot - Soarin and Test Track then Nemo and Turtle talk
Hollywood Studios - Rock'n'Roller, tower of terror then backlot tour
Animal Kingdom - Killimanjaro Safaris and Everest
Harry Potter

Later in the holiday have 'late days' where you sleep in then get to the parks mid morning or lunchtime. Stay late to see the fireworks/late show at
Magic Kingdom, Hollywood Studios, Epcot

Make meal reservations before you go for anything you really want to do at Disney. If Cinderella's Castle is hard to get try the Princess Table at Norway at Epcot. The food offerings and themed restaurants at Disney are fab we esp like 50's prime time at HS. Remember you can eat at Disney hotels as well even if you are not staying there. We like the restaurants at Animal Kingdom Lodge where you can also view animals on the sevannah and the counter service at Port Orleans Riverside where you can then get a boat to Downtown Disney. You can also get a boat from HS to Epcot via the Boadwalk. the Boadwalk is great in the evenings for restaurants and street performers.

Wear very comfortable shoes ie trainers.

BaconAndAvocado Sat 21-Feb-15 19:37:48

spababe I have planned our Disney trip pretty much with everything you've suggested in mind!

The only 4 consecutive days at parks I've planned ends with a day at Discovery Cove which I don't think will be particularly exhausting.

Harpenden1960 Tue 21-Jul-15 11:16:26

Hi, I am also going to Disney World with my son who would of just turned Seven. And we are going for two weeks at the end of February for two weeks . I did have a look at the Villa`s and thought how great it would be to come back home an have a swim in our own pool, but who will he play with, just me?

So I have booked a Disney Moderate Hotel ( Caribbean Beach resort) at least that way he can play with other children and make friends.

I`m looking at car hire now.

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