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Orlando / disney on a budget. Can it be done?

(51 Posts)
Monroe Sun 24-May-15 17:01:23

Or is it just wishful thinking?

I have had a (small) unexpected windfall. We haven't been on holiday for 3 years and my first thought was to book a week away somewhere at the end of the year. But what I'd really like to do is use it as a deposit for a trip to Orlando next year. The dc's will be 9 and 6 and I feel if we don't do it soon we never will.

But a quick look at prices is scary! We were thinking early June and staying probably on I drive which isn't too bad but the park passes are confused Ideally we would like to do disney world and universal. Can you get combined tickets for these? And are there any packages which do the lot - flights, accommodation and passes - at prices which won't break the bank?

Sorry if it's all been answered a million times already

Artandco Sun 24-May-15 17:03:58

No. Use your money to go somewhere nicer. Orlando on a budget is crappy flights, crappy accomadation, bad food.

For the same cost of budget Orlando you could all have a lovely week or two in Europe in 5 star accomadation, amazing food, great weather, plenty of money for trips, food and excursion or activities:

Artandco Sun 24-May-15 17:04:25

What is your budget?

Yuleloglatte Sun 24-May-15 17:05:25

It's much cheaper to buy things seperately than in a package. It's worth looking at staying insite as there is a free dining offer which can make it a good option, as transport is also included. What sort of budget do you have?
With your children's ages I would probably not do universal - there is plenty at Disney and that will reduce your costs hugely.

Monroe Sun 24-May-15 17:28:10

Artandco thanks for your reply. I appreciate what you are saying and no we do not want a crappy 2 weeks but we would really like to go. I don't have a budget in mind, I guess what I'm asking is what is a reasonable amount to pay and then I can figure out if I can afford to save that over the next 12 months.

Yuleloglatte when you say staying insite do you mean at a disney resort? I would have thought they would be the more expensive option. I hadn't thought about not going to universal, thanks for the tip.

PotteringAlong Sun 24-May-15 17:29:59

It depends on your budget. £10,000 then go for it. £2,000 and you'll need to go somewhere else.

Twirlwirlywoo Sun 24-May-15 17:37:42

We did it on a vvv tight budget a few years ago now when our DC were 9 and 6. Lovely ages to go. We booked each bit seperately.

We flew indirect. Used websites like expedia and opodo as a start point to see what flights and connections there were but ended up booking with the airline direct quoting a cheap fare found elsewhere. Kayak is brilliant for email alerts and easy yo play around with flight date and times whilst searching for the best deals.

We flew Gatwick to Houston outbound and then Houston to Orlando.Coming home we flew back via Newark New York and into London Heathrow (we got family to give us lifts to the airport so different airports was not an issue with parking).

Also - if you book flights not for exact weeks - so not Sat to Sat but maybe Tues to Weds (8 days) or (13/15 days) I found the fares could be even cheaper.

Flying indirect was not as awful as I anticipated with the kids and actually doing immigration at Houston was hell of alot quicker than doing it in Orlando. You do have to go with the attitude though that the flight and wandering around the airports is part of the holiday and not something to "get through" to get there. We found somewhere nice to eat at Houston Airport and took our time eating and then had a wander around the shops with the kids.

I booked a condo with either On The Beach - which are fab as kids are free. We chose Lake Buena Vista but International Drive is usually cheaper. Condo instead of villa as we wanted to avoid pool heating charge - communal pool at Condo, means its included in the price but it was a proper Condo - with 2 bathrooms,full kitchen etc.

We did initially hire a car to get from airport and intended to keep it for the duration of our holiday but Disney charge you to park every day and as we had free transport to Disney,Universal and Sea World from our Condo,we ditched the car after a few days. We used Disney transport and with careful planning still made it to the parks for Rope Drop (opening) every day we planned to. So do consider - condo/motel shuttles and reserach Disney transport if trying to cut costs. I ignored this before we went because everyone poo pooed the idea of not having a car in Florida and said the Disney Transport was slow etc - but we save £££ by returning the car early and using Disney Transport (free with your tickets) which we found brilliant. I think its 15 dollars a day to park as well at Disney.

Shopped around for tickets - cannot recall where we got them in the end sorry.

Insurance is important and expensive - especially if you have pre existing conditions. I spent a long time researching this as DD has a kidney condition. It did cost a fair bit but whittled the price down with alot of research from my first quote.

We found eating outside of Disney cheaper. If you are staying on International Drive then you will have lots of options. We did stock up at Walmart before dumping the car on drinks and snacks and managed to get into the parks fine(but not Aquatica) with drinks and snacks in our bags.

Also a friend recently told me she stayed in a hotel (dont know the name) across the road from DownTown Disney. She had no transport costs at all as she could walk to Downtown Disney and then get on the free Disney Transport - she said the hotel cost more than I Drive but they saved on car hire, which absorbed a good chunk of the dearer hotel.

The Dibb - is a fab website for people planning Disney trips.There are some real hardcore disney fans that have been 20 times in their life! lol But there are some good tips etc. However, you can feel by reading the threads on there that your budget holiday will be pants because they all book meals at all the different Disney hotels and restaurants,special tours and extras - we did none of this pre planned because we were on such a tight budget and Ok we don'tknow any different but we had an absolute awesome time just pleasing ourselves, although we did kind of plan what we intended to do every day.

I would recommend investing in the latest Disney World guide once booked to get the most out of your trip.It gives times and date to avoid certain things and the best time to go to them etc etc.

Mrsstarlord Sun 24-May-15 17:37:50

Thats interesting Artandco, our experience of costing up holidays in Orlando and Europe has been that they work out on a par with each other.

We stayed in an apartment off I drive, about a 10 minute walk from Universal which saved on taxis etc, we used the free shuttle to Disney. Go to a supermarket and buy in food to cook in the room most of the time, we preferred this to feeling that we had to eat out all the time (and it gave a welcome break from burgers etc), ds also has LD so having a break was really helpful.

Tickets for 3 adults and 1 child for a fortnight for all the parks worked out at around £1400. Universal is loads cheaper than Disney and ours much preferred it but it was lovely to be able to come and go without spending extra money all the time.

Spamminit Sun 24-May-15 18:02:54

use 'Florida tix' for your tickets as they do lots of combinations for tickets

newgirl Sun 24-May-15 18:16:48

Thomsons do good package deals that include Dreamliner flights at ideal times, self catering flats and car hire @£700 each. There is NO cheap way to buy Disney tickets but if you go off season it is worth it. Off season is not busy so you get to do it all. Your age kids would love it. You can just do one day at Magic Kingdom - it's good to include a water park for an extra day or two. Disney boardwalk is free and good fun. Other days go to the pool explore real orlando which is surprisingly nice. Universal is a separate company so no combined tix available. You can do one park at universal and upgrade if you want another. You can take your own food into the parks saving more money. Just do it you won't regret it.

merlehaggard Sun 24-May-15 19:21:13

We are going to Orlando next May for 21 days. Our flights for 5 is £2600 with Thomson. Hotel is £4000 at disney's Caribbean Beach including Disney tickets and free disney dining (2 counter service meals). Car hire £600 for 7 seater. Universal tickets for days will be about £1200. Our plan was to keep it around £10k including spending and I think we'd have managed it. Strangely, 21 days was only about £1k less than 21 days. With flights alone being so expensive, I don't really see how you could go on a budget, but obviously it depends on what your budget is. I would happily stay in a days inn or similar as you spend little time there and have had friends say that they are very clean and spacious (though basic) but disney tickets are also very expensive. Could you not keep your windfall and start saving to add to it?

merlehaggard Sun 24-May-15 19:27:55

Btw I would say avoid packages - though if you really want a package, Thomsons are well priced. You really don't need a package. You can book the flights by choosing the best price on Book the hotel direct and book car hire through

RufusTheReindeer Sun 24-May-15 19:32:24

We've found Orlando much or expensive than somewhere like Spain or Portugal


We do go to Orlando for three weeks, and don't usually eat in the villa

Flights are expensive at very nearly 1k each in August but we did save a lot of money by doing an indirect flight which was fab and I would do again

Flights and car hire and a week in a universal hotel worked out at about £7500

A villa was about £400 per week

The tickets ran to over 1k but we did Disney and universal

I think you could do it cheaper with a few tweeks, keep thinking we should go back again and do it cheaper (might leave it until the children have left home, not taking 3 money sucking children would certainly be cheapergrin)

Twirlwirlywoo Sun 24-May-15 19:43:43

You can cut loads off the flights by flying indirect. Depends how much you need to cut the budget.

PandaMummyofOne Sun 24-May-15 19:52:48

Sorry but no it can't. If your doing somewhere like that you do it properly.

Can you not save it and top it up so you can go?

Monroe Sun 24-May-15 20:46:10

Thanks so much everyone. Lots to think about and look into. We definitely want to do it in the next couple of years but don't want to get into debt to do it or be scrimping while we are there.

Panda I think that is we I will do. Put the money into a savings account and put as much as I can in monthly over the next 12 months and see if we can afford it.

momtothree Sun 24-May-15 20:54:03

Have you tried asda travel for bargains - some indirect flights so just watch for that. Also we went october - no queues - bus buses and disney transport plus the itrolly was great. Plenty of tickets offered with extras so worth a shop round. We eat out at allyou can eat streak houses and ordered takeouts. Lots of hotels inc breakfast - good with kids. Best holiday we had loved every minute.

Twirlwirlywoo Sun 24-May-15 20:56:45

Its never a cheap holiday but there are ways to cut costs without missing out as I have mentioned in my post above.

Its like going to Spain - you can go to a 5 Star all singing dancing luxury hotel right on the beach or you can stay in a 3 star hotel down the road.

You still have a fab holiday which ever you do.

Accommodation is generally OK in FLorida and unlike Spain, you spend most of your time out and away from your accommodation. You dont need luxury when all you do is come back from a busy day at the parks tired and ready to hit the pillow. Yes,if money was no object you may choose a luxury villa over a buget hotel and spend evenings chilling around your own private pool, but you are not going to come back from Orlando/Disney thinking you have missed out,if you cannot afford to do that.

We did it on a very tight budget. We didnt spend a fortune there on Dinsey tat to being home but we ate out lots and had a bloody fab time. Its still the best holiday we ever had despite staying in posher hotels etc elsewhere since.

Its a lot of research and choosing where you are happy to cut costs. For us we felt the 60% saving on our flights was worth flying indirect despite our kids being young. Others may decide thats a no-goer and save for another 6 months or whatever to avoid that. Other people say you simply CANNOT do Orlando without a car. We ended up ditching ours. Its about choice and compromise.

Monroe Sun 24-May-15 21:04:56

We're not particularly fussy about 5 star hotels etc, as long as we have a clean comfortable base we would be happy. Never heard of asda travel, will have a look.
Also thank you Twirl, the non direct flights is something else I'll look into.

HelpMeGetOutOfHere Sun 24-May-15 21:05:00

We never hire a car now. Stay on I drive and most hotels have free transport to universal, seaworld and the water parks. Disney transport can be arranged by taxi or the hotel reception arranging a minibus for several guests and cost sharing. There's even a public transport bus from I drive.

We usually get tickets for the I trolley bus as well. Cheap for the duration of your holiday and very regular.

We usually eat in the parks or on our way home. Don't bother going back to the hotel to change it's just a waste of time. Most places are super casual.

Breakfast at Denny's diner is amazingly cheap and lots of buffet type ones as well so you can fill up for the day. If we had a buffet breakfast we never at lunch just maybe an ice cream or some fruit.

CalamitouslyWrong Sun 24-May-15 21:12:12

We've been looking and two weeks in Orlando is cheaper than a week in a 5* resort in Spain (that's taking two adults, a 15 year old and a 6 year old). Even with nice hotels and the ludicrous expense of park tickets it's still cheaper. Package holidays to 5* Spanish resorts are ridiculously expensive!

WhoisLucasHood Sun 24-May-15 21:15:41

Watching with interest, we're planning on going next year. I really don't want to go in summer due to the heat and the cost but will all depend on DHs hol allocation from his shift pattern. I've been stunned at the cost of flights, I've not been to America for years but it's crazy money. Then the ticket prices shock. I'll happily eat at Denny's every day, except for a couple of steaks at Charley's.

Monroe Sun 24-May-15 21:19:10

HelpMe Do you book everything separate? Only the ones I have looked at all seem to have car hire automatically included. We'd be happy to stay on I drive and use the transport. Also who do you book the hotels and flights with? Sorry if these seem like stupid questions blush And do you know how far in advance you can book the flights? Is it cheaper to book a certain amount of time before you fly?

HelpMeGetOutOfHere Sun 24-May-15 21:30:02

I just book through first choice. It's a few minutes from my door. I've never found the savings of booking separately that significant and I like having my transport organised and waiting from the airport. (Coach transfer) we fly into Sanford airport which makes it a bit cheaper. It's not as fancy as Orlando but not awful. Transfer time isnt too bad. Also I feel like nothing worse than getting in a car and driving in a different country after a long and tiring flight. So to get on a coach and nap and arrive at my destination is much preferable.

I know as a mumsnetter I'm supposed to look down on package holidays but have always got some good deals. First year we got 14 day Disney passes included, next year got universal and seaworld discounted tickets. Disney dollars etc.

Coco keys was a good hotel. Was worried when reading trip advisor as said noisy and damp rooms but it was a great hotel. Small water park, swimming pool, gym, restaurant etc all on site. Right on I drive but not noisy. Apart hotel at pointe Orlando was nicer but the dc preferred coco keys.
When we stayed at a Disney hotel I felt a bit trapped. We didn't go anywhere else just seemed to stay in disney parks and resorts.

We stayed in a friends villa in Kissimmee as well but felt a bit far from everything and needed to drive everywhere. It was nice to have so much space, 7 bedrooms, private pool etc but much prefer the central location of I drive.

You have outlet malls either end reached easily on the I trolley, good selection of restaurants and shops. Taxi was $20 plus tip to Florida mall for shopping. Much of which is cheaper than the outlet malls!

Monroe Sun 24-May-15 21:55:46

Thanks again, very helpful. I've only been looking online so far but think I might pop into the travel agents as well and get some quotes. Feeling quite positive about it. I knew it wouldn't be cheap but I'm hoping if we forego a less expensive holiday again this year then it will hopefully be achievable next year

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