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Help - planning Disney holiday of lifetime

(168 Posts)
KinkyDorito Sat 14-Jul-12 16:26:34

Hi all

I have booked for us to go to Disney in Florida next August. There will be DH and I, and DD (14) and DS (4) - ages for next year.

I want to make this holiday as special as possible. I have been to Florida once, but I didn't organise it. I want to create something very magical. It was DDs request to go there; she has leukaemia and she is due to finish chemotherapy in April 2013. This holiday is to celebrate the end of it, and to give us all something to look forward to.

What I'm after are insider's tips - best places to go, things to see, ways to get best service. We will be staying in the Animal Kingdom Lodge. Currently, I don't plan to drive, so we will be using local transport (I am a big wuss, and I want to enjoy myself and relax after what has been the most difficult time of all of our lives). We have park tickets for all the big ones - Universal, Seaworld and Disney. I think we will also book Discovery Cove.

Any tips would be very gratefully received. I'm working a year in advance so plenty of time.


YouBrokeMySmoulder Sat 01-Sep-12 20:45:52

Hmm interesting question. It was only ds for CA and he was only 5. I think if they were given an option they would do Florida again. California he loved but said it was a lot of time in the car. Yours are so much older though and so presumably that won't be a problem.

You can get a much more varied holiday in CA but the first time I did Florida pre dc we flew to Miami, did that, did the Everglades, drove down to key west for some diving etc, then back up to the gulf coast for the Dali museum and some beach time, the a few days in Orlando, space coast and cape canaveral then fort lauderdale and back to Miami.

Now we wouldn't do that because realistically you need 2 days for universal and then however many for Disney, we took 5, one for each park and some waterpark and downtown Disney time.

ssd Sat 01-Sep-12 20:47:59

thanks x

ssd Sat 01-Sep-12 20:50:16

am struggling a bot with it all, have very limited funds, this will be a one off for us!

me and dh would prefer Ca, and the kids might prefer Orlando!!

just don't know what to do...

ssd Sat 01-Sep-12 20:51:53

a bit not a bot!!

Waswondering Sat 01-Sep-12 21:12:10

(Not read whole thread and apologies if this has already been asked, but ....

Please could you let me know realistically how much a holiday to Florida would cost for a family of 4? Dc are currently 9 and 6, and there's no plan to go, but it's a "oooh, that would be a fabulous holiday!" thought and I'm not sure what realistically it would cost .... to see if it would ever happen! So what would the ball park budget be for a family of 4? £3k? £4k? Assuming Scottish school hols.

Thanks. smile)

YouBrokeMySmoulder Sat 01-Sep-12 21:14:53

I would price both up properly and then you'll have a better idea. What do you actually want from a holiday too? If you're going to drive out to the desert and have a really varied holiday then California is the way to go. You have to bear in mind the flight though as well. I found that a bit of a killer for CA.

The other worry about Orlando is that we said it was a holiday of a lifetime but as soon as we came back we wanted to again!

We used a planning service for Disney by the way that wasnt that expensive but meant we didn't queue as we knew where we were supposed to be. Mind you you need to get there for park opening everyday, especially for Harry potter, do yours like to sleep in?

YouBrokeMySmoulder Sat 01-Sep-12 21:18:39

Waswondering, depends on whether you stay in a villa, a cheap hotel or onsite etc. but the flights are going to be 2k, the tickets another 1k an the cheapest villa 500. You can get deals for about 700 in the cheapest hotels at the cheapest time of year but you still need park tickets.

We spent about 5k all in but flew with virgin nonstop, cheap time of year, stayed moderate and luxury hotels and free dining at Disney. With unlimited Disney tickets and 2 day universal tickets. We didn't spend much on stuff like shopping though. Virgin holidays are ridiculously marked up, I wouldn't touch them.

Waswondering Sat 01-Sep-12 21:24:19

Thanks YBMS - that's really helpful.

(Notes for the future .... eeek!) grin

AnnaLiza Sat 01-Sep-12 21:28:47

The first week we went to San Francisco and Yosemite. Both amazing places!
It was an incredible holiday not least because none of us got bored (DCs aged 9 and 10 plus a baby!). I would have got bored with just theme parks and that's why we decided to do California instead of Orlando. We did city sightseeing, national parks, beaches and theme parks all in the same holiday. There wasn't that much organising really. I researched the hotels on tripadvisor and compared prices on a few websites. I booked them all in advance. We hired a car with a satnav and that was it, really. You just need to decide how long to spend in each place and that depends on what you want to do broadly speaking but you can fine-tune the details last minute to a certain extent (for example on day 10 the DCs preferred the beach over Legoland near San Diego).
It was expensive but we did learn a few tricks as we went along that saved us money. The main one was to eat in "self-serve" restaurants rather than being waited upon. I don't mean fast foods, you know places where you order and pay at the counter and then go and find a table when your food is ready. It was always $50 to $60 per meal cheaper to dine this way.
HTH smile

arfur Sat 01-Sep-12 21:29:23

Hi Kinky [waves] grin my tips are put kids in sun suit type tops and shorts and crocs for the wet ride places (hate being dripping wet then air conditioned restaurants) and wet shoes are a PITA. If doing disco cove book your dolphin slot early unless you rock the wet hair look in photos (I don't) also breakfast there is inc in price and is good so aim to get there early and eat brekkie. I would DEFINITELY email Animal kingdom lodge and explain situation. American hotels in general respond really well to prior info and disney even more so! If possible request a room not too far from main hotel area as its huge! Don't miss after dark animal viewings by the pool with night vision goggles - fab! Also we loved the brown derby rest in studios (goofy telephoned dd in there still don't know why) great food. Also second bubba gumps, mythos and rainforest cafe. Back with more when I remember it grin

YouBrokeMySmoulder Sat 01-Sep-12 21:33:48

The thing is though that I don't see California v Orlando as a valid sort of comparison. They are both very different holidays. The only thing slightly comparable is the price.

ihatethecold Sat 01-Sep-12 22:26:37

Just for info. Virgin will price match.
I recently got £400 off my 4 hotels in Florida.
Did a bit of research into the prices myself.
But I now have the extras that come with booking through virgin like free parking and breakfasts. grin

ssd Sat 01-Sep-12 22:45:22

I suppose I'm comparing them as we'd go to Disney/universal/sea world and both places have these

must admit the thought of only seeing theme parks fills me with horror!

maybe not Florida then?

ihatethecold Sun 02-Sep-12 09:13:14

Florida isnt just theme parks.
We got to the gulf coast after orlando.
Its just lovely there.
Great beaches.
Amazing wildlife.
Clear blue sea like bathwater grin

arfur Sun 02-Sep-12 10:42:50

Ooh also highly recommend a day out to gator land we had a lovely low key relaxing day there, a real antidote to the Disney mania! And keep your eyes peeled at AKL we saw a snake from our balcony and described it to one of the rangers and she said shed never seen one in 4 years of working there (I forget what type it was but big black thing and not dangerous) smile

KinkyAllTooOrangeDorito Sat 15-Sep-12 12:53:57

Having a glitch in the respect I can't get travel insurance until DD finishes chemotherapy. (It would cost more than £1000 and not cover cancellation anyway.)

What we've decided is that we will wait. If she becomes ill again, we can postpone it until the following year for a £35 admin fee. If everything is okay, we'll get travel insurance in May. This also makes me reluctant to book Discovery Cove in advance. Will I be alright leaving Discovery Cove booking until May - will we still get in for August?

Thanks all.

Haven't read whole thread but for those planning Disney Florida the log site easy wdw is fantastic.

MOSagain Wed 19-Sep-12 14:25:13

kinky so sorry to read about you having to cancel.
Not too sure about Discovery cove, we went years ago before it was well advertised and as popular as it is now. Why not email them and ask. Also, why not find out if you can book and get a full re-fund if you cancel within a reasonable period of time. They will easily re-book at short notice as have a sales point in Seaworld and people always try to get last minute bookings.

Good luck and I hope your DD recovers soon x

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