Who knows about Disney World?

Discussion in 'The Watercooler' started by tiredmommy, Feb 9, 2008.

  1. tiredmommy

    tiredmommy Well-Known Member

    husband and I are thinking of taking Duckie to Disney in April. Who knows the ***Best*** way to do Disney? Our budget is pretty tight. I don't know if it's better to stay at the value resorts or off site. Is the meal plan worth it? What about park hopper and monorail service. Should I just go through AAA, I'm pretty overwhelmed!:please:
  2. LittleDudesMom

    LittleDudesMom Well-Known Member Staff Member


    it's been a number of years, but we took the kids to Disney and I did a lot of research beforehand. For us, it was worth saving for a while and then stay onsite. We planned the trip about six months in advance so we would have time to plan for it financially.

    We stayed at the Disney Institute, which is not one of the three onsite locals with monorail (there were only three that had monorail at that time but the others had access by Disney provided boats and shuttles). We used the free shuttle buses which ran constantly. It was great to stay onstite because it was so much easier to come and go. We would begin the day together, then bonehead would take difficult child back to the hotel for nap or chillin while easy child and stayed. Then we would have dinner (and we got a small loft townhouse with a kitchen which saved us a lot of money) and go back to the park. We would have a bowl of cereal in the morning, then just pack snacks for lunch and then cook dinner. We did do the character breakfast one morning to celebrate easy child's birthday.

    Obviously you need to consider your finances, but for us, it was worth staying onsite. And, Mickey and Minne came to the hotel while were out and left easy child a signed photo and boquet of balloons for her birthday!!!!

  3. hearts and roses

    hearts and roses Mind Reader

    TM, it really depends on whether or not you're entire vaca will be consumed with Disney. I could never take being in Disney for an entire week, so we stayed at a decent place, Tiki something, just outside of Disney and rented a car. I think when I did the math, the cost of staying outside Disney actually saved us in the long run because the cost of eating all Disney was quite pricey. Even with the cost of the rental, we did better staying outside of Disney. Also, we stocked out little mini fridge with our own food for lunches (PBJ, cold cuts) and breakfasts (cereal & instant oatmeal) in our room. And we brought a backpack with us filled with snacks/fruit...we ended up leaving the bottle water we had planned on taking with us, because it was so heavy. We bit the bullet and bought the $4 bottled water. However, we did pack juice boxes.

    We also timed it so that we were at the water park late in the day when everyone else was eating their dinner. We basically had the parks to ourselves and had a blast, could relax and not worry about the girlies getting lost. We would often go to the park for a few hours in the morning (we got there around 10) and then leave the park around 1 and then hit the water park at say 5PM. We'd stay till 7 and then leave for a late dinner. By the time dinner was over, the kids were pooped (so were we) and we'd head back to the hotel to chill and watch movies.

    It is really important to make sure that the kiddos get plenty of down time breaks and a good night's sleep. Unlike us, my sister let her daughter who is the same age as my girl stay up till almost 1AM and she was at the park gates first thing to wait in line. Her daughter threw fits throughout the day every day. Ugh.

    AAA offers some pretty good deals on the hopper passes. I think we got a 4-day hopper pass and we actually had one day left on it when we left. We used it the next time we visited H's parents.

    The book store has a lot of great books that tell you all different ways to get great deals. It also gives advice about which rides/shows to skip and which ones to see - depending on the age of your child. Just do a lot of research.

    Have fun!
  4. Fran

    Fran Former desparate mom

    We are pretty much veterans of the wife system. As you know easy child is a wife fanatic. He worked at Epcot through Christmas break and last summer.

    From a family point of view, the less time spent parking and driving is more time spent seeing attractions. On site with shuttle service works best for us.
    There are great deals to be had.
    My biggest time saver and money saver was water bottles to be filled at the many fountains and snacks for kids when they are starving and the line may be long. We always scheduled one character breakfast. Now you can do lunch and dinner with characters. It was our one big expense meal. The look on a child's face when the character stops to play with your child is priceless. We only allowed one trinket per child. No other souvenirs to keep expenses controlled.
    We found the meal program if tacked on for cheap a wonderful asset. We couldn't possibly eat all the food you were able to get so the snacks went to our room for evening muchies.
    We did early mornings, break 2 or 3 in the afternoon and then back in the evening. It worked best for the excitement to be broken up so mom could recharge. The pool is another way to help the kids decompress.

    If you want to ask questions, I'm sure easy child can help. He has been involved with wife fan sites for years and has come to be involved in the pluses and minuses of the way to view wife.
  5. meowbunny

    meowbunny New Member

    I forget the name of it, but I bought a book on DisneyWorld before my visit. It was worth three times the cost. Just go to the travel section of any bookstore and there should be some books on visiting there. The book will give you tips on how to see the most at the parks, what to skip, etc.

    We didn't stay onsite. Instead, I stayed in Kissimee and rented a car (there's all kind of shuttle buses to get you there if you don't want to drive and park). This worked well for the two of us. We would leave in the heat of the day and just veg out in the room and take a nap or hit the pool. Even with the car rental and food, it was still much cheaper to stay offsite. However, there were only two of us. My intuition says if it's a family of four or more, then you probably would get a better deal in the long run staying in one of the Disney hotels if you get the meal plan.

    If there's an Embassy Suites nearby, it would be worth considering, too. I like the idea of being able to fix small meals if I want and they're breakfasts are really good!
  6. donna723

    donna723 Well-Known Member

    TM, a lot of the off-site hotels in Orlando are pretty expensive too, and driving around Orlando has turned into a nightmare. You'd be better off to stay at one of the on-site places and take advantage of the free transportation. They have free shuttle buses that run all the time.

    There's a TON of information on the online Disney sites, and all kinds of package deals. The park-hopper passes are great because you can just get on a shuttle bus and go from one park to another whenever you want to. The Animal Kingdon park is wonderful. And you'll want to make sure to take Duckie to the Disney MGM park too - you'll all love it. And if you go, make sure to see the Muppet 3D Movie - it's the best part. It's a 3D movie with one live character that comes out and runs around the theater, the big shaggy "monster" ... it used to be my youngest nephew inside the monster suit! He used to play "Goofy" too and "Captain Hook". He's not there anymore - he married one of the little "Mickey Mouse" girls and moved to Alabama!
  7. JJJ

    JJJ Active Member

    The "Unofficial Guide to Disney World" is worth its weight in gold. You get advice on all of it - there is a companion guide "Unofficial Guide to Disney World with Kids". We didn't really use the kids book but we carried the main book everywhere!
  8. hearts and roses

    hearts and roses Mind Reader

    YES! That is the book - excellent book!
  9. Sue C

    Sue C Active Member

    TM,We have been to DisneyWorld 6 times with the girl(s), but the last time was when Melissa was 4, so it has been a long time ago. We were on tight budgets each time so we stayed at hotels very close by. At the time, there were only the 3 main hotels onsite at Disney and they were too expensive. Now there are a lot of choices onsite and many are reasonably priced, I believe. I would certainly check into those.

    Even with staying closeby and having to drive there each day (we did 3 or 4 day park hopper tickets), we got there early before the park opened. In the afternoon, we'd go back to the hotel for the girls to take naps or a swim, and then we'd go back later in the day when the crowds weren't as bad again. They really thinned out at night.

    We bought the tickets that allowed us to go back and forth from Disney to Epot to Disney MGM. (now there's more parks, right?) It was nice having a choice of where you felt like going.

    A note about Disney (I believe it was at Disney).....if they still have the "people wedway mover." This was a gentle, smooth trainlike ride around the park. It was never crowded. It was sooooooooooo relaxing. If you felt too hot, the breeze cooled you off. Whenever we were tired or wanted to get away from the crowds, we hopped aboard the "wedway mover." I highly recommend it if it's still there just to relax from time to time.

    I remember going in April and that was a nice time of year; but if it's on Easter/Spring break, be prepared for BIG crowds.

    I don't know if the food has improved, but the food you could buy at the parks was expensive and wasn't the greatest. If they still sell the Mickey Mouse ice cream bars, you have got to try those!!!

    We also visited Sea World while in Florida which we all enjoyed but husband thought was a little boring. But it's another place you might want to visit.

    As an adult, I would visit DisneyWorld/Epcot now but husband doesn't want to. I loved it! Have FUN planning!!! Oh--and like a few others have said, definitely buy a Disney guide book. I did and there were wonderful tips in there such as always heading for the farthest line because it will be shorter.

  10. saving grace

    saving grace New Member

    I am in the process of planning my second trip to wife with babygirl, I have been a gazillion times myself as a child and a half dozen with difficult child when he was little and I can tell you that you have to start from scratch each time because it changes so often with more and more to see.
    I have stayed on and off site, I did not enjoy staying off site as much as I did staying on. wife is soooo much more than amusement parks. The shuttles will take you anywere you want to go and believe me when you have walked around those parks for hours with a little one you will appreciate the front door service. It is also much more convienient when going back to the hotel midday for naps or just regroups.

    The wife All Star value resorts are alot of fun and fairly inexpensive, just check them out on the website, to see the kids faces when they see the huge Toy Story Characters or big wheels is priceless, the pools are awesome and they have arcades etc.. on site
    You can get a standard room for about 99.00 give or take.

    I absolutely LOVED MGM which the are now calling Disney Hollywood Studios. They have a Playhouse Diseny stage show and all the characters that the kids see on the Disney channel.
    Babygirl loved getting an autograph book, we spent most of our days running around the park meeting the characters and getting autographs and pictures, tons of fun.
    We did one character breakfast at Chef Mickey's, you have to make a reservation much in advance but its worth it, expensive but worth doing it once. I wouldnt have done it everyday. We found that we never really sat down for a planned meal, we would always be grabbing something on the go. I think the rooms might have mini fridges I cant remember but worth a 1/2 gallon of milk and a box of cereal for the mornings that saves a lot of time and money. between the icecreams etc..during the day we never ate alot at lunch, I you can pack a few PBJ's to eat during the day. We had a carriage with us but our friends baby was never in it because of all the bags we carted around LOL.

    We went to Typhoon Lagoon, that was fun. Did not go to Epcot, Animal Kingdom was ok Babygirl liked Magic Kingdom (not my favorite) and MGM (my favorite)
    Expect that if you go in April prices will be more, crowds will be more too making availability tougher.

    IF I think of more I will post again

  11. Kathy813

    Kathy813 Well-Known Member Staff Member


    We used to go to wife yearly when the girls were small since my brother worked there and got us in free.

    We didn't stay onsite since we would usually only go for a day or two at a time while visiting my parents who lived two hours away.

    I always wished that we had stayed at a Disney hotel but like someone else said, back in the day, there were only 3 Disney hotels and they were very expensive. If we were visiting now, I would definitely opt for one of the Disney hotels just to get the Disney transportation. Another advantage is that you get to enter the parks earlier in the morning than people that are not staying at Disney which is a good thing because you will be visiting during a very busy time at wife.

    We spent a few days in Orlando after Christmas this year while visiting my mom who now lives in an Assisted Living Facility near Disney. We had to pass by Disney to get to her from our condo and it was a nightmare because of the heavy traffic.

    There are some hotels that are very close to Disney that are not Disney hotels in the Disney Village area. You can get great deals through priceline and hotwire if you do decide to stay offsite. I got a 3.5 star hotel (Buena Vista Palace) for $89 a night a couple of years ago through Hotwire.

    The book that JJJ mentioned is wonderful. I got it through the local library and it has awesome tips.

    One more thing . . . you might want to look into the special ticket that allows you to bypass lines. It would be worth whatever the cost on busy days.

    I still have wonderful memories (and pictures) from our Disney days.

  12. KateM

    KateM Member

    TM, I'm so excited for you -- our family loves Disney! We were last there in May 2006.Planning a trip is half the fun for me, so I did alot of reading and checking out online sites Here are two of my favorites:


    I highly recommend the Unofficial Guide for Families/ with Kids.

    A few tips -- For the convenience and "the magic", we love staying onsight. We always stay at Port Orleans French Quarter (moderate resort). Refrigerators are standard in the deluxe and moderates; they're available for rent at the value resorts. We always had breakfast in our room that we had packed. Each family member wore fanny packs with a water bottle holder and packed snacks for the day. We ate some lunches at the hotel (Pb&J brought from home) and some lunches at the counter service resturaunts in the parks. We would get into the parks as they were opening, stay until 1pm, come back to the hotel for a swim (and nap for parents!), then go back until the parks closed. We ate dinner in the parks.

    We went through AAA, but you may want to book soon as they have a limited # of rooms in the resorts. We flew Southwestern for a great rate!

    The Dining Plan offers a ton of food. It may be a good value for you, but we found it cheaper to dine as listed above. Definitely bring water bottles and refill them at the many fountains.

    As far as souvineers (sp?), the kids brought their own spending money (even at Duckie's age), so they thought carefully about their choices. I have read that some parents load up on Disney trinkets at the Dollar Store and then dole out one per day while at wife.

    Have fun!!
  13. Sue C

    Sue C Active Member

    Oh, I thought of one more thing! If you drive and park in the parking lot, be most certain to note of where you parked! The first year we went, we did not and we walked around for HOURS--yes HOURS--with 4-year-old Angela and could not find our car!!!! It was evening and Angela was so tired out (and so were we). What agony! Finally, an employee in a golf-cart type vehicle picked us up and drove us around until we spotted it.

  14. nvts

    nvts Active Member


    Sent you a pm!

  15. Abbey

    Abbey Spork Queen

    I'm sure you'll have a great time. After living near to it for 11 years...I hope to never see it again.:tongue:

    I don't do lines well, and you WILL have lines. My best suggestion is to eat well before you go in. The food is incredibly expensive there. Winter is better than summer.

  16. Nancy

    Nancy Well-Known Member Staff Member

    I just went toDisney World last May with easy child and her friend. She was 20 but thought she missed out on all the fun of Disney when she was young because she didn't appreciate it then. I was afraid I wouldn't enjoy is as much this time but we had a fabulous time. We stayed off property in an Embassy Suite only about a 10 minute drive from the parks. It was not in season yet, too early for the summer season, so there were no long lines and traffic was great. There were many attractions we walked right onto with no wait. Staying off property was not a problem, parking was easy, and we could come and go as we pleased. BUT agian that was because the season had not really started.

    When the kids were younger we did stay on premises and as some members said there are reasonable hotels. The shuttle service is excellent so you don't need to be on the monorail system, although the monorail is great for getting between someof the parks, not all are on the monorail system. With young children staying on premises is definitely an advantage.

    When my kids were younger they did not enjoy epcot. MGM is my favorite and Animal Kingdom was great. Of course Magic Kingdom is a must for young kids. Typhoon Lagoon was a lot of fun.

    Read all you can beforehand, it really helps plan out your day and the information is very accurate. The food was not that great and expensive so carrying snacks is a must. I never understood why they don't get better food and more places to eat. The lines get terribly long in season. You have to look hard for any variety of food also, although they do have fresh fruit stands now.

    Hope you have a blast.

  17. tiredmommy

    tiredmommy Well-Known Member

    Thanks for all the suggestions, I need to get that book! We are leaning toward staying on site because I'm sure Duckie will want to spend as much time as possible at the parks. I don't think she's aware that there are other attractions in the Orlando area and we might as well keep it that way, lol!
  18. busywend

    busywend Well-Known Member

    TM, you have been given a ton of advice - but the ABSOLUTE BEST ADVICE is.........try the Mickey Mouse ice cream bar......YUMMY!

    Seriously, I would eat one for lunch every day if I worked there.

    Also, the book was great in helping us plan our day. One thing I know with a difficult child - do not be rigid on the plan. My difficult child had to stop at every bathroom in the park. It was quite annoying to the rest of the family (there were 11 of us all there at one time). Just do not expect too much. Be very 'go with the flow' and I totally agree with leaving the park for a bit to rest and get geared up for the evening events.

  19. 1905

    1905 Well-Known Member

    Hey I'm going on Thursday!!! The meal plan will be worth its weight in gold,as it only costs about $40 a day and that's how much, like one entee at dinner costs, so definately get that!!! I'm staying at Saratoga Springs, a villa with a washer and dryer, so we don't have to pack alot- and husband and I will have a seperate bedroom so we can have privacy from the kids. Defiinately get the park hopper tickets. As there are different things to do in different parks. Like you could get up early, and go to one park before lunch when it's not as crowded, go back to the hotel and lounge by the pool , go to another park for dinner and evening entertainment. The lines are shortest at the end of the day and beginning. I just want to take it easy and not plan every little thing so the park hopper is best for me. When are you going? -Alyssa
  20. klmno

    klmno Active Member

    We've gone twice- 1st time difficult child was 5 and this was his first big vacation. We scheduled it thru disney's website in Jan/Feb and had it paid for by time of trip in Aug. We got a package deal- stayed at value movie hotel, a few meals included, and complete park hopper tickets. So when we went I only had to take some meal money and "fun" money. We had a great time. I had been a little worried about staying at the value hotel but difficult child loved movie theme stuff everywhere- dalmations, love bug, etc. (It was even on the wallpaper!). I thought it was much better staying on site with a younger kid and there were options for food places- from snack bars with- sandwiches to very nice restaurants. We found the best deal was not to eat inside a park. I took small ceral boxes, cans of tuna, snacks, and juice boxes, and got a small refrigerator in our room so I could get milk and bottled water. At the time, Disney had these package deals at a discounted price if you scheduled them and paid a deposit in the winter for a vacation in the upcoming summer.