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Calling all Disneyworld experts!

42 replies

donaldbump · 06/01/2022 22:22

So...hoping to go next Feb 23 (do one covid!) for 2 weeks with 6 and 9 year old.
Itinerary so far...
Universal 4 nights - both parks and volcano bay.
Disney 6 nights - all parks except Epcot. No water parks. Day trips out to Space Center/Merritt Island and Blue Spring state park plus a chill day/shopping.
Pas de Grille 4 nights - art galleries in St P, beach time, trip to Fort de Soto and Egmont Key
What do you reckon? Want a balance between theme parks and seeing other parts of Florida. We like nature and outdoor stuff. And lovely low key beaches.

Questions....
I've not included Legoland and Epcot. Does this seem sensible? We have legoland near us here in UK and Epcot doesn't look that interesting for the ages that my kids are.
Is Florida aquarium in Tampa worth a visit? Busch Gardens? What about the Titanic Experience on I-Drive? All three look good but nor sure I can fit them in!
Is the Chip n Dale campfire signalong good? Orlando eye?

Accommodation - can't decide whether to stay onsite or not. I want to stay at Universal as it seems to offer more benefits. Then staying at Disney sounds good but it seems v experience and perhaps I might feel overwhelmed. I like the look of either Animal Kingdom or Fort Wilderness cabins if we stay onsite. Universal Cabana Bay is first choice for Universal.
We will hire a car as want to see outside of the parks so maybe a villa would be better?

Budget £10-12k ish. Hoping to get a good deal as we will book asap. Also not sure if cheaper to do it all direct or through an agent.

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Unihorn · 06/01/2022 22:28

On site for Disney is nowhere near as attractive for the price as it used to be, it may be worth checking the Disney Springs resort hotels as they're cheaper but close by with some similar benefits (pre covid to be fair, so may change next year!)

We're Disney people so 6 nights would be nowhere near enough, and I wouldn't dream of missing Epcot. Soarin, Test Track, Mission Space, Ratatouille, the Mexico pavilion, the FOOD etc. But that's completely personal choice!

I've not done the Chip and Dale campfire but fa ily who have said it's really good.

Sounds like a good balance of things with your split. Are you on the It's Orlando Time Facebook group?

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Stanleyville · 06/01/2022 22:33

I would dial back on the Universal, unless your kids are thrill seekers, it isn't really oriented to that age group. Your 6 yo may not be tall enough for lots of the rides too, and they are strict on the limits. Epcot is good for that age. We liked Legoland, it is quiet, spacious and lots of greenery. We have never been to the one here since, because the Florida one makes it seem horrible.

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donaldbump · 06/01/2022 22:35

oh no maybe i should rethink epcot! I think we may have a spare day floating..
I'll check out Disney Springs hotels thanks
I'm waiting on the facebook group request. It doesn't seem to be functioning anymore though?

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Weenurse · 06/01/2022 22:37

There are a lot of blogs out there that give good advice on both parks and how to get the best experience.
We only did 1 day universal as my DC was a lot older and only wanted the Harry Potter experience ( along with some roller coasters).
We stayed onsite at Disney to take advantage of the extended hours and the travel between different areas.
I don’t think Epcot has a lot to offer DC of your ages.
I suggest looking at blogs and speaking to your travel agent, they were invaluable with the advice they gave us and made getting there seem less and hassle free. They also know the best way to get deals.
Have fun

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donaldbump · 06/01/2022 22:37

i joined the wrong group doh!

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TheCraicDealer · 06/01/2022 22:38

Epcot has the Frozen ride, as well as the new Ratatouille one. There's Soarin as well as Mission Space and Test Track, Spaceship Earth, all of which your kids should be able to ride. Walking round the world showcase and spotting the different "lands"....it's all great fun for a young family- and THE FOOD. You'd be there during Festival of the Arts, and they usually have kids treasure hunt type things during festivals. I wouldn't miss it for the world, even if you only did one day.

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cloudtree · 06/01/2022 22:40

You’re trying to cram way too much in. You need two days for each of the four Disney parks and there’s no way you should skip Epcot

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donaldbump · 06/01/2022 22:43

so less universal and more disney? i have three star wars and Harry Potter nerds with me....

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AyeEee123 · 06/01/2022 22:44

We don’t do Disney as my kids didn’t like it but Cabana Bay is a fabulous hotel, we’re booked to go in April (fingers crossed!) My kids loved Universal last time we went [age 14-4]

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cloudtree · 06/01/2022 22:45

Chip and dale campfire is great but I’d think your eldest might find it a bit young. Depends on whether they’re a young 9 or a mature 9.

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Poppinns · 06/01/2022 22:48

Yeah I'd say at least 3 nights for Harry Potter nerds if you want to do Volcano Bay as well.

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cloudtree · 06/01/2022 22:50

I wouldn’t say less Disney and more universal. I’d say you need a minimum of 8 days to do Disney (and that’s cramming it in and bring ultra organised and without the water parks which are great chill days) and you need at least two days to do universal. So your other things need to give or you should go for longer. It can be tiring with young kids and so we always factor in downtime around the pool each day.

I think the ideal is 12 nights Disney (with a day trip for space centre and quick Everglades boat trip) 2 nights universal.

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Umbongoumbongo999 · 06/01/2022 22:50

Epcot is great, and our favourite park overall.

I agree universal is better for older kids, unless your dc are really into Harry Potter I would leave it til later. If you are doing universal you should look at what is included in the hotel stays. The budget (used ironically!) Hotels give you early entry but the more expensive Loews and Hard Rock are fab hotels and give you fast track on the rides.

We have done a number of combinations of stays. My favourite stay in Orlando was a townhouse on a gated community with a lake, clubhouse and shared pool ,plenty of space to spread out, no worries about different bedtimes etc, plus our own outdoor space with a hot tub. We then did the last two nights onsite at Disney just to experience another lovely hotel and take advantage of the disney transport to have a night off driving

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Tayegete · 06/01/2022 22:54

Epcot was our favourite park, DC were 8 and 11 at the time. We love Harry Potter and Star Wars too but tbh 2-3 days was more than enough for us at Universal. We decided against staying onsite as we didn’t want to spend 14 days stuck in a hotel room with DC so we stayed in a (huge) apartment. It was cheaper than being onsite and had a pool and a free shuttle to the parks. The advantage of being on site though is that you can start early - rest in the afternoon when it’s hot and go back in the evening.

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stardust40 · 06/01/2022 22:58

Best thing was planning for us was the join thedibb google it .....basically a forum of people who are experts! We've been twice and did Disney, seaworld, shopping malls and discovery cove the first time and second time disney and discovery cove. In ten days in Disney we didn't get around it all but had a fab time (kids aged 11 and 6). We liked all the Disney parks as well as the water parks! We also wished we'd planned in more time
Enjoying the pool at the resort (art of animation) as we all needed the downtime and there was an animation team playing with the kids so we actually got to
Sit and chill! Loved staying on resort and not having to worry about a car!

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cloudtree · 06/01/2022 22:59

The advantage of being on site though is that you can start early - rest in the afternoon when it’s hot and go back in the evening

This is a massive advantage, particularly extra magic hours which are exclusively for guests staying onsite and which are the only way to get on some of the massive rides like avatar without queuing for hours (literally). Plus you don’t have to hire a car. We’ve been six times and I always recommend staying onsite with the free Disney dining if you can.

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silkience · 06/01/2022 23:03

You are paying for Epcot anyway - use it! There is loads for kids there, and it's also the closest to nature which you like (there are a beautiful gardens!)

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Shoemadlady · 06/01/2022 23:04

Sounds amazing but only thing I'd say is that the parks are huge and it doesn't sound like you have many down / chill days in there. Make sure you have a day between each park at least (espresso with little ones) as it's tough going x have fun!

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Quartz2208 · 06/01/2022 23:04

Tickets are a HUGE expense - DIsney and Universal together for 4 are nearly 3k

I think with the price of car parking and your need to drive I would chose a villa I think if you feel it overwhelming

Maybe do a villa but a night or two at Animal Kingdom Lodge (DVC rental allow you to do so)

thedibb is a brilliant website for this

Benefits have changed with Covid (just back now after a Christmas visit) but the booking in Disney Days is going to stay I think to the end of 2023 at least so you will need to look into that

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Unihorn · 06/01/2022 23:10

@cloudtree

The advantage of being on site though is that you can start early - rest in the afternoon when it’s hot and go back in the evening

This is a massive advantage, particularly extra magic hours which are exclusively for guests staying onsite and which are the only way to get on some of the massive rides like avatar without queuing for hours (literally). Plus you don’t have to hire a car. We’ve been six times and I always recommend staying onsite with the free Disney dining if you can.

Unfortunately the perks of staying on site are now fading, EMH used to be an hour before the park opening and 3 hours at night. Now it's 30 minutes before opening, and evening hours are reserved for those staying in Deluxe resorts:
www.disneyworld.co.uk/guest-services/extended-evening/
So it's not as great a bonus as it once was! Add to that the charge for Magic Bands, the lack of Magical Express, the charge for parking, plus the likelihood that free dining won't return for some time (if at all) and the on site benefits are limited.
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WicketWoo · 06/01/2022 23:17

Another vote for an EPCOT day here. There is loads for young kids to do there, and as mentioned a few times above the food in the showcase pavilion is great (they also each have a kidcot for colouring and some themed activities). They have some fab rides too, soarin is the favourite of our kids at ages from 5 to 15.

We have stayed at animal kingdom before and it was great, if a little far out. A savannah view means you can do animal spotting from your balcony, plus the animals are really close. There are a couple of great restaurants and the pool there is great too (albeit you could not top the beach/yacht club pool - sandy bottomed - amazing!).

I'd say you are missing out not going to the water parks too. A great down down with all the business of the parks. You could just do a half/short day and then a nap and then to a park for dinner and fireworks.

You will have an amazing time.

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WicketWoo · 06/01/2022 23:18

*Down day

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Tubelight · 06/01/2022 23:24

We stayed at the French quarters but met a family who were staying at pop century, It was big and lots of activities for children to do. There were direct buses more frequent then our hotel boats service because their hotel was huge with hundreds of room and thousands of guests.
Epcot is amazing so as toy story bits. By saying at the Disney hotel you can book fast passes , restaurants and experience before others who are not staying at the Disney hotels . Free photo were nice and all family were in one photo shot without a selfie stick! We booked Uber for outlet shopping and got money off coupon books, I think I had to register online and then showed confirmation email to get it free.
In your budget I think you can stay at Disney and avoid any parking issues and get dropped off by the park entrance. Believe me walking around with two little ones can be really hard.

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moralminority · 07/01/2022 07:47

@Tubelight

We stayed at the French quarters but met a family who were staying at pop century, It was big and lots of activities for children to do. There were direct buses more frequent then our hotel boats service because their hotel was huge with hundreds of room and thousands of guests.
Epcot is amazing so as toy story bits. By saying at the Disney hotel you can book fast passes , restaurants and experience before others who are not staying at the Disney hotels . Free photo were nice and all family were in one photo shot without a selfie stick! We booked Uber for outlet shopping and got money off coupon books, I think I had to register online and then showed confirmation email to get it free.
In your budget I think you can stay at Disney and avoid any parking issues and get dropped off by the park entrance. Believe me walking around with two little ones can be really hard.

Unfortunately free fastpasses are no more, it's now a paid service called genie + and lightning lanes. As a PP said other than location, the benefits for staying onsite at Disney have pretty much been removed. Dining can be booked at 60 days and if staying onsite can be booked for the first 10 days of a stay or day be day if not.

What dates in February are you looking to go OP? Things to consider in your planning is its Presidents' Day in Feb (Mon 20 Feb in 2023) and also it's the Disney Princess half marathon weekend on 23-26 Feb. Parks tend to be very busy on these days so allow for it when planning your time.

You said you wanted 4 nights at universal as you've got Star Wars and Harry Potter nerds with you but only HP is at universal, Star Wars is at Hollywood Studios which is a Disney park.

Good luck with your planning it's both daunting and exciting but you will have an amazing time. I'd second a PP, It's Orlando Time is a great resource and people are very helpful.
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Allhailzoidberg · 07/01/2022 07:57

Agree with what others are saying about not missing Epcot, but just want to add that Epcot has a large aquarium area and ride (Seas with Nemo and Friends) with a huge seawater tank, rescue manatees (I think they’re still there) and some ex-army dolphins who occasionally can be seen swimming around - don’t count on seeing the dolphins though, they’re allowed to choose where they go and tend to stay out of sight in a backstage tank area.
So if you were wanting an aquarium experience you can get that in Epcot without travelling into Tampa.

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