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Does my first-time Disney plan sound okay? A few other questions too!

(43 Posts)
PlutoTheDwarfPlanet Sat 18-Aug-18 13:41:51

Firstly, no driving, so will be reliant on ubers or public transport meaning I want to stay on site (plus I like the sound of early magic hours and the dining plan).

I'm just about to put down a deposit but thought I'd post here first for opinions.

We're trying to keep essential costs to around £5000 and take around £1000 spending money. There will be one adult and one child (11 - so counts as an adult at Disney). Any last minute tweaks to save £££ would be greatly considered! I like the convenience of my current plan though so not sure i'd consider indirect flights or staying in a villa etc (although I've researched these options thoroughly).

Planning to go beginning of October 2019 for 14 nights. We will be doing our first three nights at Universal and then 11 nights at Disney.

We will book directly with Disney from the day we're checking in there. We're going to Universal first so won't take advantage of the free disney express from the airport but we will on the way back at the end of the hol.

We will be booking flights separately and will be booking our universal hotel separately.






*FLIGHTS WITH THOMAS COOK FROM MAN TO MCO (I live in Glasgow but flights from here are £250 more expensive) = £1200





We'd really only need tickets for 4 days at Universal (arriving late Friday night and moving to Disney late Monday afternoon). Is there a cheaper way rather than buying the full 2 week ticket? I guess it allows us to go back and revisit while we're at Disney if we really want to.

We will have £1000 spending money, however, i've already planned away £400 of this for:

*Marvel Dinner one night at Universal = £80
*Minions breakfast one morning at Universal = £80
*BLUE MAN group tickets while at Universal = £80
*Disney Halloween Party tickets = £160

So we would have approx £600 left for:

- 2 breakfasts, 3 lunches and 2 dinners at Universal

- 11 breakfasts at Disney

- money for tipping, souvenirs (we don't care too much about these though), any additional travel costs (e.g. if we want to get an uber somewhere instead of waiting on resort buses).

Does this sound okay? DD will likely be given some money for toys etc and she has already started saving 75% of her pocket money each week to put by. So this doesn't have to come from spending money.

Here is where I plan to go for our sit down dinners with our dining plan (haven't thought about days/times yet though, but have sorted them into parks)

-Animal Kingdom
Tusker House (dining package rivers of light) -1 table service credit

-Magic Kingdom
Cinderella’s Royal Table - lunch OR dinner - 2 table service credits
Tony’s - lunch (Fantasy Parade dining package) - 1 table service credit

Akershus Royal Banquet Hall - lunch - 1 table service credit
The Garden Grill - lunch OR dinner - 1 table service credit
Via napoli - lunch OR dinner - 1 table service credit

-Hollywood Studios
Hollywood & Vine - dinner (Fantasmic dining package) - 1 table service credit
50s Prime Time Cafe - Lunch OR dinner - 1 table service credit

-Grand Floridian
1900 Park Fayre - dinner - 1 table service credit

-Downtown Disney Marketplace
T-rex - lunch/dinner - 1 table service credit

Again, lots of thought/research went into these choices but would appreciate any opinions e.g. if somebody had a very bad experience at any of these?

DD has SEN and is developmentally quite young for her age. She adores Disney characters and still very much 'believes'. We have been to DLP before and she loved character meals. These are definitely our must-do pretty much each day (will also save queuing to meet them in the parks!)

I'd appreciate some thoughts/opinions before i take the plunge and put down deposits.


OP’s posts: |
Harriedharriet Sat 18-Aug-18 13:54:15

A friend of mine from LA stayed in the Disney resort for a birthday and said it was great. They could stroll in at anytime, night events were easy to manage, and when in the mood for a rest they stayed by the pool. So, it sounds like a lovely trip for your dd. Enjoy!

zebedeetwinkle Sat 18-Aug-18 14:09:59

We went to Florida last summer for three weeks smile

We did 3 days at Universal Hotel (Loews Portofino Bay), 6 days at Disney Hotel (Beach Club) and almost two weeks in a villa.

With your Universal hotel you get Express Pass for the entirety of your stay (basically FastPass for every ride) totally worth it!

For your tickets check out FloridaTix, we bought all of ours on there (Disney, Universal, SeaWorld and some others) before we went for about £3000 for three weeks for four people (2 adults/2 kids).

And stick to the resort buses not the Ubers. One evening we got a taxi back to the resort after staying late instead of waiting in the queue for the bus and they can't go down the same roads and it ends up taking triple the amount of time. And they know they can charge whatever they like because you just want to get home, the buses come really quickly and I would just stick it out and wait. smile

Depending on where you stay at Disney (totally recommend Beach Club) I would say get the Dining Plan and spend your Quick Service on Breakfast, Table Service on Dinners and either pay for Lunch or just use snacks from your Dining Plan at the parks. Get the free refillable cups but don't bother bringing them to the parks as they don't work smile

We went to the Hard Rock at Universal and it was amazing! As was Bubba Gumps. If we went again I wouldn't bother doing any of the Universal Character meals. The characters terrified my kids, (but they are younger than your DD) and they only stayed for about 20 seconds once they realised my kids were scared.. (unlike at Disney where you got 2+ minutes with the characters smile)
Also make sure you go to ColdStone Creamery for Ice Cream and Voodoo Donuts!

Cinderella's Royal Table is worth it for the experience but not so much for the food... not many options, a bit random and we didn't really like the food so had to eat again afterwards but 100% worth everything if your DD is as princess mad as my two are smile
Really if you are doing Cinderella's you don't need to do Akershus too. Very similar princesses, although better food. Try and do Be Our Guest though that was really great! smile

Don't bother with the Hollywood and Vine though. The food wasn't great and the Fantastic! show is probably the worst evening show at all the parks.

Don't know about any of the other restaurants you mentioned though smile

You may say now that you want a character dining every day but in reality it gets very hard. You end up spending a whole lot of time going between parks and hotels and different places and missing rides and just the general experience. I would do some definitely, but possibly not every day. And no matter how much you love them, meeting the same character every day for two weeks does get tedious!!! smile

Final thing: You're not bothered about souvenirs now but when you're there you will be. 90% of rides come out in or opposite a gift shop that somehow you just find yourself in, theres so much stuff and even if you don't want it you just find yourself buying! So I would put some money aside for souvenirs smile

Have a Great Trip!!! smile

HermioneWeasley Sat 18-Aug-18 17:29:22

I don’t think your universal hotel does include express passes - if that matters to you it would be worth upgrading to a hotel that includes them. Most rides are express pass, so it’s worth it to avoid queues.

You mention breakfasts, doesn’t your Disney dining plan include breakfast? If not, it might be worth using snack credits for breakfast to reduce costs.

In magic kingdom, I’d recommend “be our guest” (but only for lunch), and Liberty Tree tavern (if it’s dining plan eligible). In Hollywood studios, I’d consider the sci fi drive in instead of the Hollywood diner. The Yak and Yeti in Animal kingdom is supposed to be great, but I don’t know if they do the rivers of light package?

The Disney food blog channel on youtube is a mine of information

Have an amazing trip!

PoptartPoptart Sat 18-Aug-18 23:15:11

If you’re staying at the Disney All Star Sports Hotel I assume you have paid extra for the dining plan as I don’t think it’s included if you stay at a value resort?
Just double check what dining plan you have - the basic plan (quick service plan) only includes 1 quick service meal and a couple of snacks per day - it doesn’t include table service meals which you need for most of the restaurants you mention.
If you have the regular dining plan you get 1 quick service meal, 1 table service meal and 2 snacks per day. This is more than enough and you won’t need to buy 11 breakfasts at Disney if you have this plan.
We used 1 quick service for breakfast, snack credits for a drink and a muffin or similar for lunch, then our table service credit for dinner.
Be sure to book your table service restaurant reservations well in advance on the My Disney Experience website or app. I think you can do it 6 months prior to travelling. Popular restaurants get booked up very quickly and it’s unlikely you’ll be able to just walk in and get a table on the day.
Likewise with ride Fastpasses - book them in advance (3 months) on the website/app. You can always cancel or change them once you’re there.
It’s amazing how quickly things add up and even if you’re not planning on buying gifts/souvenirs it’s so easy to get caught up in the moment and find yourself out of pocket.
You’ll have an amazing time op but please don’t underestimate just how pricy Disney can be.

PlutoTheDwarfPlanet Sun 19-Aug-18 10:54:09

Wow - thank you so much for the tips!

Just to clarify, my universal hotel does not come with an express pass. It's the cheapest on-site hotel (I don't even think it's properly opened until next year) meaning we will get early access to the parks but that's about it. However, in DLP we were able to get a pass from Guest Services meaning we were given return times for a ride or allowed to queue in a shorter line due to DD having a doctor note. I know that Universal's system works differently, but we're hoping to utilise that so we're not too fussed about the express pass. We're happy to chill out on a bench or something while waiting on our return time for a ride.

Yes - we have upgraded to the dining plan. It was only free breakfast with our value hotel at Disney so I bought the dining plan instead. This, however, means that we don't get breakfast included. Makes sense to me to buy this in cash each day (as it's cheaper than lunch) and use our quick service credits each day for lunch and sit down meal for dinner. I think we get a snack each day too (drink and a cookie, or something).

Great tips about the restaurants. It will be a long way off before we need to book our ADRs but i do like to be organised.

I'm really confused over the Orlando ticket. Why am I the same price to buy a 14 day 3 park explorer ticket than I am just to buy a 4 day ticket? Worried I've missed a trick here!

OP’s posts: |
AttilaTheMeerkat Sun 19-Aug-18 16:20:27

This may be useful to you re special needs and Universal Studios:-

PoptartPoptart Sun 19-Aug-18 23:13:05

I can’t answer much about Universal, but I know about Disney!
In my experience op, you’ll do better to use your quick service credit for breakfast, snacks for lunch, and table service credit for dinner.
The portions are huge, even with the quick service meals. If you use it for breakfast it really fills you up for the day and we only needed a snack at lunch before a nice sit down evening meal. If you have a quick service meal at lunchtime there’s a good chance you won’t be very hungry for dinner.
Some days switched it around and used our table service for breakfast (character breakfast buffets) a snack at lunch and quick service in the evening.
Oh, and three snack credits = a quick service credit. You can exchange them if you want to.
You can also use snack credits to buy sweets/gifts in the Disney shops.

Kittysacunt Sun 19-Aug-18 23:21:03

Is it cheaper to stay at Disney for the full length of your stay and get an Uber to universal? We paid $17 from AOA to universal last year.

For breakfast in your hotel, don’t buy meals - get side orders of eggs and some toast it was around $2

whoareyou123 Tue 28-Aug-18 19:57:39

MCO has free wifi and ubers will pick you up there. Even with a tip it should cost you less than $40 rather than £40 for a shuttle. Small saving but IMO more convenient.

mikeTV Tue 28-Aug-18 20:03:42

I agree that express passes are definitely worth having at universal.

I second floridatix - we bought 14 day unlimited universal and Disney passes including memory maker for £491 each - we bought them at Christmas when the prices were lower.

imtired1butmykidsarent Sat 01-Sep-18 17:33:51

Message deleted by MNHQ. Here's a link to our Talk Guidelines.

TheMotherChip Sun 02-Sep-18 06:31:36

Firstly op your trip sounds fantastic and I’m very jealous!!
Regarding Universal, we have been this year and we never found the queues that bad - nearly all under 30mins, apart from the Harry Potter ones a couple of times. Often in the mornings you could just walk on the rides and this was in school holiday time. I was so glad we didn’t pay extra to stay in a more expensive hotel which included express passes as they really weren’t needed. For a couple of rides - Jimmy Fallon and Fast and Furious - you could book a ride time via the app so that you don’t have to queue and this system worked brilliantly, hopefully they will add more rides to this before you go. Jimmy Fallons ride is highly recommended - lots of fun! The Universal hotels are lovely, I would say possibly nicer than Disney and pool hopping is allowed so if you want you can try a pool at another hotel. Volcano bay is lovely and wonderfully themed if water parks are your thing. Everyone gets a ‘Tapu tapu’ to book your time to ride so you don’t have to queue for long.
Disney is so lovely but my advice would be not to over plan for it. Make sure you include plenty of time relaxing at your hotel because the place is very exhausting. Just travelling from your hotel to the parks can be quite time consuming.
If your dd likes characters there is a totally free sing a long at the Wilderness campground in the evenings with chip and dale. You can buy smores kits and toast marshmallows and there is an outdoor movie afterward. This is a good place to see chip and dale which is a bit less hectic than at the character meals. You can get to the campground by boat from the magic kingdom.
Uber’s are brilliant in Orlando, so easy and very good value. If you ever felt that you had been overcharged by a driver you can raise this via the app an Uber will immediately refund any extra you have been charged. If you like shopping an Uber trip to the Florida mall is recommended - American Girl, M&M store etc.

3WildOnes Tue 04-Sep-18 10:38:20

£2900 sounds expensive for all star sports plus dining, does this include your park tickets for Disney too? Would it not be cheaper to get combined park tickets for Disney and universal? I think this would be £654 each with Florida tix for tickets to all Disney and universal parks for 14 days.

PetraDelphiki Tue 04-Sep-18 10:45:50

FYI if your dd is really into the characters it’s worth sneaking off to have a word with their minders at the dining experiences and asking them to “know” her name etc...we got Cinderella to “recognize “ dd from a previous visit and she was thrilled! The minders are really helpful!

cloudtree Tue 04-Sep-18 10:58:16

Where are your disney park tickets or does the all star price include your park tickets? But your biggest flaw seems to be that all star free dining is only breakfast - not the full dining plan. or have you upgraded to full disney dining plan (middle one) too for that cost?

If you have the disney tickets and dining plan covered then it looks ok but I would second the others and say you will be better at loews Royal Pacific to get the express passes since universal is busy *because people only do 1 or 2 days so try to cram everything in). Plus your flights would be cheaper if you wait until the norweigan flights are out.

I'd skip Tony's since you really don't need preferred setting for that parade and instead I'd try to get be our guest (but you will literally have to be online the minute booking opens).

I'm also not a massive fan of 50s Prime Time and would question whether you need two evening meals at holloywood studios. Personally I'd eat at wildeness lodge (and ask for ketchup!!!).

And be aware tat your magic kingdom table service evening bookings will either need to be be on your not so scary party night or you'll need two lots of not so scary tickets (which would not be worth it)

cloudtree Tue 04-Sep-18 10:59:53

Sorry I missed that you've upgraded your dining plan already. I'd question then why you wouldn't upgrade your accommodation instead and get the free dining. That's a much better use of the money and the offer. Limited room options released at the moment but Ive spoken to them and more will be coming on line.

cloudtree Tue 04-Sep-18 11:01:30

I wouldn't pay for the minions breakfast either. plenty of minions interaction for free in the park.

CrazyDaisy2018 Wed 05-Sep-18 07:20:01

Does your Disney cost include the park tickets? I couldn't see it listed separately.

Another option for breakfast is what we're planning on doing when we go to Disneyland CA. We're planning on finding the nearest Target or Walmart and buying boxes of cereal, milk and the cheapest bowls and spoons we can!

It's a shame you're not driving. The Alamo Brits offer is great and makes it very reasonably priced and it's very easy to drive out there. Then again we always stay off site so have no park shuttle options.

Not sure who you're looking to get your park tickets from but take a look at Attraction Tickets Direct.

cloudtree Wed 05-Sep-18 07:41:47

You can't buy your disney tickets separately if you want the free dining

StopPOP Wed 05-Sep-18 07:48:29


cloudtree Wed 05-Sep-18 07:56:03

My biggest tip for anyone going for the free dining for next year is to wait. They haven't released all of the rooms yet which is why you're seeing a massive price jump between the value resorts like pop century and the all star resorts (where you only get free breakfast) and the cheaper luxury resorts like AKL, Widerness lodge and Saratoga (where you get the middle dining plan - which quite frankly would be enough food to feed Big Daddy - we always have snack credits left over). The luxury resorts have released their club level rooms (waste of money during free dining) and are gradually trickling out some standard rooms. The prices are coming out high at the moment for a package including part disney and part universal.

There is of course a risk around brexit and cancelled flights and so my other tip is to pay deposit only...

ScottishDiblet Wed 05-Sep-18 08:38:29

Hello! Excited for you and your DD. My only contribution is to be wary of the money you will need for tips. It’s 18% minimum and it seems to be compulsory in the restaurants on the dining plan so do plan for that.

tickingthebox Wed 05-Sep-18 15:05:22

"In my experience op, you’ll do better to use your quick service credit for breakfast, snacks for lunch, and table service credit for dinner. "

Was about to say the same, but we do this in reverse

snack credits for breakfast, counter service at lunch and table service in the evening!

Does your deal get the photos as well - it's so worth it! We have come back with loads of pictures/ ride photos and posed shots at the park entrances. It's $199 normally but we got it free with the deal.

anxious62 Wed 05-Sep-18 16:25:51

I think that’s expensive. We are staying at a deluxe resort which is table service dDP. That’s for three of us including DS who is classed as an adult. £2300 this October.

Look at other resorts for a better deal.

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