Disney visit

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rashad3000
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Joined: Fri Feb 24, 2017 11:20 pm

Disney visit

Post by rashad3000 » Wed Jan 31, 2018 11:39 am

Good morning. My wife and I plan on taking the kids to Disney World in June. We are debating on whether or not to stay on property. When we went in 2016, we stayed on property and purchased the dining plan. We really did like staying on property, but we felt that the dining plan was very overpriced.

We’ve found some properties that would be around $300 less than a Disney property and are much larger. Of course, we would have to pay for parking at the parks for all 3 days. Dining plan would be about $650. I think we could probably eat for $300 max for 3 days, even if we buy some a la carte meals at the park for lunch. We’d probably do breakfast before we get there and dinner when we leave the park.

Does anyone here have experience with going to Disney World and staying off property? Do you have any pointers on how to save some money while doing so? For those who have done both, was the convenience of staying on property worth the premium you have to pay?

Thanks, in advance.

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dm200
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Location: Washington DC area

Re: Disney visit

Post by dm200 » Wed Jan 31, 2018 11:42 am

rashad3000 wrote:
Wed Jan 31, 2018 11:39 am
Good morning. My wife and I plan on taking the kids to Disney World in June. We are debating on whether or not to stay on property. When we went in 2016, we stayed on property and purchased the dining plan. We really did like staying on property, but we felt that the dining plan was very overpriced.

We’ve found some properties that would be around $300 less than a Disney property and are much larger. Of course, we would have to pay for parking at the parks for all 3 days. Dining plan would be about $650. I think we could probably eat for $300 max for 3 days, even if we buy some a la carte meals at the park for lunch. We’d probably do breakfast before we get there and dinner when we leave the park.

Does anyone here have experience with going to Disney World and staying off property? Do you have any pointers on how to save some money while doing so? For those who have done both, was the convenience of staying on property worth the premium you have to pay?

Thanks, in advance.
It has been a very long time, but when our son was little, we tent camped at a Disney property campsite - lots of things going on there for little kids - and close to the attractions.

jojay
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Re: Disney visit

Post by jojay » Wed Jan 31, 2018 12:01 pm

We have gone approximately 30 times since the 3 children were very youngand are going again in mid March. We have stayed on property and off. Our typical stay is 2 weeks and most often has been through our timeshare process where we have multiple bedrooms, baths and a full kitchen.

You can go to a Publix or WM and pick up a bunch of everyday things you might need while in the area. Bottled water, etc or other items. We typically eat breakfast in the timeshare, have basics like peanut butter, apples, bananas etc for snacks. Dining out does not have to always be restaurant and we will get take outs. Plus, groupons and other consumer offerings take some of the sting out of it. Very few high end dining establishments are available however but i'm guessing with children you are not looking for those options.

Dining in the Disney hotels and parks can be expensive but staying on property has a couple of advantages aside from dining:
1. Early park entry. Some days, because you are staying on property, you can enter the park an hour earlier than those not staying on a Disney property. This is advantageous as long as you are an early riser - a must to maximize your Disney trip. Note: if staying off property DO NOT go to a park which has an early opening day for on property people.
2. No car is needed and as you point out, no parking fees. Plus, there is a lot less walking to and from the parking lot versus the drop off / pick up points for on property transportation. Yes, you have to often wait a few minutes to get on the Disney transport but they run often. If you are unfamiliar with the area, driving around Orlando and Disney can be a maze. On the other hand, if you have strollers, etc, getting on and off buses can be a pain. The boat rides, the monorail etc make the trip kind of special
3. Rather than just eating at a park restaurant or in the hotel, you may want to book a themed breakfast, lunch or dinner. They are expensive but you are guaranteed to see the main characters like Mickey. The food is always good and if you book it for a specific time, the activity can serve as both breakfast and lunch, a late lunch etc.

bloom2708
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Re: Disney visit

Post by bloom2708 » Wed Jan 31, 2018 12:01 pm

You can certainly spend a lot less money and be very close to Disney World.

We stayed here:

https://www.vrbo.com/74404

$119/night now. It was under $100 when we stayed there per night. This VRBO has a small pool but is about 1-2 blocks from a beautiful pool complex. It is about a mile from the entrance to Disney.

It really depends on how much time you will spend on property. Keep in mind in June it will be upper 80s/low to mid 90s. Nothing is certain, but it will likely be hot and humid.

Planning to spend 14 hours walking in the heat will fail. We arrived early (buy a AAA parking pass on eBay) and left around 3:00 each day.

We then hit the pools before making our own meal around 6:00. That meant we only ate lunches in the park. HUGE cost difference. Go back to the park in the evening for fireworks or more time.

We used the difference in savings from staying on premise to the VRBO to buy other experiences. Lots of different ways to do Disney.
"We are here not to please but to provoke thoughtfulness" Unknown Boglehead

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dm200
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Location: Washington DC area

Re: Disney visit

Post by dm200 » Wed Jan 31, 2018 12:05 pm

I think (not 100% sure) that if you stay on the Disney property you can split the park visits - do a few hours in the morning, go back to accommodations and then go back for a few more hours.

imyeti2
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Location: Greater Boston

Re: Disney visit

Post by imyeti2 » Wed Jan 31, 2018 12:42 pm

Check out https://www.mousesavers.com/. It depends on how crowded the parks are during June. We're there in Dec and stayed outside. It was a nightmare waiting in line for parking and actually getting inside the park.

You may also try rentals from Disney Vacation club owners https://www.dvcrequest.com/. It may be somewhat cheaper than through Disney directly.

If you decide to rent a car, you may be able to step out and not worry about the meal plans etc. Auto rental through Costco at Orlando airport is darn cheap - lots of competition. Some nearby restaurants may have delivery service also to Disney properties.

Have fun and enjoy the magic !

smitcat
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Joined: Mon Nov 07, 2016 10:51 am

Re: Disney visit

Post by smitcat » Wed Jan 31, 2018 12:46 pm

rashad3000 wrote:
Wed Jan 31, 2018 11:39 am
Good morning. My wife and I plan on taking the kids to Disney World in June. We are debating on whether or not to stay on property. When we went in 2016, we stayed on property and purchased the dining plan. We really did like staying on property, but we felt that the dining plan was very overpriced.

We’ve found some properties that would be around $300 less than a Disney property and are much larger. Of course, we would have to pay for parking at the parks for all 3 days. Dining plan would be about $650. I think we could probably eat for $300 max for 3 days, even if we buy some a la carte meals at the park for lunch. We’d probably do breakfast before we get there and dinner when we leave the park.

Does anyone here have experience with going to Disney World and staying off property? Do you have any pointers on how to save some money while doing so? For those who have done both, was the convenience of staying on property worth the premium you have to pay?

Thanks, in advance.

Consider staying at the Swan or Dolphin for all teh Disney advantgeas as well as lower prices most always. They are also right on the boat circuit that takes you to Epcot and teh Studios - or you can walk as well.
Easy to buy your tickets thru undercovertourist and use their crowd calendar to selct the days you visit each park.
We have stayed at many of tyeh Disney Hotels when we can get a very good deal (off peak) as well as some of the hotels near Disney springs that have great deals and still have the DIsney Perks (like the "B" hotel) but not the 'walk onto' the park experience.
Check mousesavers site for the best deals at the Disney springs area.
The overriding factor in both pricing and your overall Disney experience is the crowds of the time your expect to visit.
If you visit while the crowds are expected to be high (above about a "6-7" on the crowd calendar) all of the prices climb quickly and the lines also climb quickly.
If you visit the parks when the crowds are lower everything goes down with some costs dropping more than 50%.
Also ...get the app for your phone to check the lines in real time and link your tickets for the family experience.
have fun...

OnTrack2020
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Re: Disney visit

Post by OnTrack2020 » Wed Jan 31, 2018 2:13 pm

Both times we've been we stayed on property. We've stayed at Old Key West (on property) and it had a full kitchen in their two-bedroom villa. There are other resorts on-property that also have kitchens. There are online grocers who will deliver groceries to you. That may be a way of cutting the cost in regards to meals. We've never purchased the dining plan; we didn't want to be tied to points, etc. Yes, you will pay more for staying on property, but your bags will be delivered to your room, your gifts/packages will be delivered.

We fly to Orlando. We didn't want to deal with driving in that area, so Disney's Magical Express took a lot of the worry out of travelling there. The buses, etc. (Disney's transportation system) really was appreciated. We just simply didn't want to have to drive to a parking lot, walk all day, and then go back to a parking lot, search for a car, and then drive back to a rental condo/house, etc.

decapod10
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Re: Disney visit

Post by decapod10 » Wed Jan 31, 2018 2:29 pm

We are DVC members. I've never stayed offsite, but I've done a lot of research.

Financially, there is no question offsite is superior to staying onsite at Disney. With the money you save, you can rent a car or Uber to Disney World every day and still come out ahead.

There are some extra perks for staying on site, such as Extra Magic Hours and early Fast Pass booking (60 days vs 30 days). It's very difficult to get Fast Passes for the super popular rides like the Avatar ones at 30 days. However, Disney announced that some offsite hotels in the Disney Springs area will be eligible for these perks, so that's something to look into.

Sort of a halfway compromise would be to "rent" DVC points. Basically, DVC members sell their unused points (DVC is a timeshare). It has it's pros and cons, but it's significantly cheaper than staying in a regular Disney hotel, and they have kitchens so you can cook your own meals (another big way to save money.

Ultimately, it really depends heavily on the intangibles. Some people love the "Disney bubble" so to speak, so to them it's worth the extra coin to stay on site. They don't want to drive and feels that kills the vacation feeling, and they like the monorail/Disney buses. For other people, it's not worth the extra money.

Edit: regarding the dining plan, yes generally it's not a good deal unless you have a lot of kids and do a lot of fixed prices meals (character dining, etc). I would go cash unless you are a huge eater.

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djpeteski
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Re: Disney visit

Post by djpeteski » Wed Jan 31, 2018 2:45 pm

As a local, all I can say is that your options are near limitless. There are so many hotels of so many different classes that you can spend what you want. When I came here as a tourist, back in 1996, we stayed here https://www.redlion.com/orlando that still rents for about $50 a night, and was a different chain back then. There were two reasonable restaurants on site, and plenty nearby. That price includes a shuttle to all the parks as most hotels do as well, so there is not a need to rent a car.

Also the airport now allows Uber pickup which is something new-ish.

You may want to though if you are interested in non-disney attractions. One of the highlights of my 1996 trip was Midevil Times dinner theater.

A few years back we also stayed at the Animal Kingdom lodge. Totally swanky and we paid extra for the concierge's service. Well worth it and would not miss that for the world. We did do the meal plan, but I believe that you can scale way back on the meal plan so that maybe you get three dinners for a one week stay.

Some of the restaurants are not worth the credits one spends on the meal plan. Examples Crystal Palace and Be our Guest (Magic Kingdom)

Others are too cool, we really like:
50's Prime Time Cafe (Studios)
ABC Commissary (Studios, quick service)
Yak & Yeti (Animal Kingdom)
Satuli Canteen (Animal Kingdom, quick service)

The best, if you can get reservations:
Ohana in the Polynesian resort.

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Pajamas
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Re: Disney visit

Post by Pajamas » Wed Jan 31, 2018 3:37 pm

You're only there for three days so make the best use of the time by staying in Disney accommodations to get all the perks that come with that like early entry and not having to deal with parking and being able to easily take a break in the middle of the day to swim or nap. Skip the prepaid dining as you have to work pretty hard to make it worthwhile.

EnjoyIt
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Re: Disney visit

Post by EnjoyIt » Wed Jan 31, 2018 3:48 pm

May I ask how old the kids are? I only ask because if you have anyone that is too small to walk for 4-5 miles a day or you are forced to push around in a stroller I don't think this is the best use of your limited vacation time. The really young kids get very cranky quickly, the parents get frustrated and everyone is miserable. If your kids are of reasonable age then I would highly recommend you stay on the property and bring plenty of snacks to save money on overpriced food. Staying on property will keep you from needing a car and allow you to maximize your time at the resort. Disney will even shuttle you in for free to and from the airport. If you really want, you can get an Uber to a local supermarket and cook dinners at the hotel. That should save a ton considering you will be cooking for 5.

jaxxmjd
Posts: 141
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Re: Disney visit

Post by jaxxmjd » Wed Jan 31, 2018 3:52 pm

My wife and I have brought our 8 year old daughter to Disney World on three visits now. The first time, we stayed on Disney property at the Grand Floridian. The second time, we stayed off Disney property at a nearby timeshare that my father owned. Our most recent trip, we stayed in a club level suite at the Grand Floridian (comped from issues during our first stay). I've also visited Disney World prior to that a number of times, dating back to my teenage years, but we always stayed off of the property at the aforementioned timeshare. So I've had a fair bit of experience with both options.

Your choice should be greatly weighed upon whether your trip will be Disney exclusive or if you plan to visit other sites in the Orlando area as well (Universal Studios, Old Town, etc.). In my experience, there's a clear advantage to staying off of Disney property if you plan to tour around the area rather than staying exclusively in the Disney parks. As you mentioned, the cost to stay off-Disney is usually significantly less, you'll have better flexibility with shopping at grocery stores (a cost savings for drinks/snacks and potentially meals if your accommodations have the appropriate facilities), and you'll be better located for the activities off of Disney property. It also provides some relief from the total immersion of the "Disney experience", if that's what you'd prefer.

On the other hand, you won't have access to the various Disney transportation opportunities (including the Magical Express to/from the airport, if you're flying, and limited/no use of the various monorail/boat/bus networks), you'll have to pay for parking daily at the Disney parking lots, and you'll spend more time driving to get onto Disney property from an outside location, so you'll have to adjust your schedule accordingly or have flexibility with your park arrival times. As mentioned above, you'll also lose out on the Extra Magic Hours offered to Disney resort guests and you won't receive MagicBands (their proprietary RF wristband for park/ride/room access and can be used to link to a credit card for easy purchasing).

Regarding the dining plans, we did a lot of research prior to our fist visit with our daughter and decided against purchasing a plan due to the restrictive nature of the plans. During our trip, we enjoyed complete flexibility with our meal options, including liberal purchases of drinks and snacks as we were enticed. I kept records of every purchase we made and compared our results upon returning home. What I found is that we had spent roughly a comparable amount on food (within $100 under the cost of the plan we had considered), but we enjoyed a much greater degree of flexibility in choices. This particularly important if you're considering any of the multiple meal credit dining options. Given the time frame of your trip, you may find yourself purchasing a lot of drinks to replenish fluids lost due to the potentially extreme Florida heat and humidity (bring lots of water with you, if you can). I would recommend against the dining plans, ultimately, but you may be underestimating the cost of eating at Disney for three days for an entire family (of course that depends on your restaurant/meal/snack choices).

My wife and daughter love the full immersion experience of visiting Disney, so for now I'm resigned to staying on Disney properties until my daughter grows out of it. It's enjoyable, but can also become overwhelming without a break from "the Mouse".

Wow, that was way more than I intended to type and yet hardly seems to capture everything. If you have more questions or would like any tips, feel free to send me a private message and I'll help you out. Disney can be a lot of fun, but it can also be very exhausting and overwhelming both in planning and execution, particularly for those who aren't familiar with the numerous ins and outs of Disney World and it's unique lexicon.

DeerRunner
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Re: Disney visit

Post by DeerRunner » Thu Feb 01, 2018 10:25 am

rashad3000 wrote:
Wed Jan 31, 2018 11:39 am
Good morning. My wife and I plan on taking the kids to Disney World in June. We are debating on whether or not to stay on property. When we went in 2016, we stayed on property and purchased the dining plan. We really did like staying on property, but we felt that the dining plan was very overpriced.

We’ve found some properties that would be around $300 less than a Disney property and are much larger. Of course, we would have to pay for parking at the parks for all 3 days. Dining plan would be about $650. I think we could probably eat for $300 max for 3 days, even if we buy some a la carte meals at the park for lunch. We’d probably do breakfast before we get there and dinner when we leave the park.

Does anyone here have experience with going to Disney World and staying off property? Do you have any pointers on how to save some money while doing so? For those who have done both, was the convenience of staying on property worth the premium you have to pay?

Thanks, in advance.
Hi Just got back from Disney, and could write a small book on the inns and outs. Here's a summary.

Is that $650 for the whole family? How many?
  • For the first time going there for many years, we didn't rent a car, we used Uber the whole time. What a nice change! Getting around was a lot easier. Most we had to wait was 5 minutes for a ride. Best part is you get dropped off at the gate, which saves a lot of time and money parking and walking from the lot. For Magic Kingdom you can get dropped off by the Contemporary Resort, and walk 5 minutes to gate from there. All other parks let you get dropped off at the gate. I can't stress how much time this saves either parking at the parks, OR taking the free disney transportation. Taking the Disney bus could take 40 minutes for a uber ride that lasts 10. Part of that 40 minutes can be waiting for the bus, they're supposed to come every 15-20 minutes. After our 5 day trip we spent less on Uber than a car rental and parking fees, and it was easier.
  • We've stayed at Hilton Parc Soleil, Hilton Las Palmeras, and Hilton Buena Vista Palace (BVP), along with Disney lodging. All are cheaper than on site Disney lodging and you have more room options. BVP is closest and is very nice. Its across the street from Disney Springs. But most/all (?) rooms don't have a full kitchen. But maybe you don't need a kitchen, see below. Parc Soleil and Las Palmeras have kitchens, which can help you save $$$. But those hotels are about a 10 minute drive just to get to Disney Springs. But again, taking Uber will likely be faster than the Disney bus on property.
  • Eating at the parks is not cheap. Lunch for my wife and I and two kids typically $40. Dinner no less then $80. Get used to $15 burgers and $25 average, so-so dinners. A good approach is to stay off property, get food for your stay to make simple breakfast and lunches (to take with you), and eat out at dinner. Even the BVP has a fridge and microwave so you can store things and heat things up in the am. Other tip, there's online sites that let you shop at a few local grocery stores, and for a fee have your groceries delivered to your hotel! Or of course, take Uber. Great way to save.
Download the Disney World app to let you see wait times, maps, park hours, and view menus. Spend time with it before you go, its a great tool to have.

SR II
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Re: Disney visit

Post by SR II » Thu Feb 01, 2018 11:10 am

imyeti2 wrote:
Wed Jan 31, 2018 12:42 pm
You may also try rentals from Disney Vacation club owners https://www.dvcrequest.com/. It may be somewhat cheaper than through Disney directly.
I wholeheartedly agree with this suggestion.

We've been to Walt Disney World over a dozen times in the part 30+ years as now retired California based Disney employees (so, before kids, with kids, after kids have grown). Last time we went to Disney World, we used Davids Disney Vacation Club Rentals and would highly recommend it. We saved a lot of money versus booking directly through https://disneyworld.disney.go.com/resorts/. All the perks of staying "on property": Magical Express to/from the airport, tickets, early entry, etc. (even the meal plan can be purchased). If you need a kitchen or just a larger place, these can be great accommodations. Just be aware of their cancellation policy and perhaps buy a travel insurance policy to cover if you have to cancel.

We have never bought the meal plan. Just don't think it is worth it.

rashad3000
Posts: 133
Joined: Fri Feb 24, 2017 11:20 pm

Re: Disney visit

Post by rashad3000 » Fri Feb 02, 2018 1:04 pm

DeerRunner wrote:
Thu Feb 01, 2018 10:25 am
rashad3000 wrote:
Wed Jan 31, 2018 11:39 am
Good morning. My wife and I plan on taking the kids to Disney World in June. We are debating on whether or not to stay on property. When we went in 2016, we stayed on property and purchased the dining plan. We really did like staying on property, but we felt that the dining plan was very overpriced.

We’ve found some properties that would be around $300 less than a Disney property and are much larger. Of course, we would have to pay for parking at the parks for all 3 days. Dining plan would be about $650. I think we could probably eat for $300 max for 3 days, even if we buy some a la carte meals at the park for lunch. We’d probably do breakfast before we get there and dinner when we leave the park.

Does anyone here have experience with going to Disney World and staying off property? Do you have any pointers on how to save some money while doing so? For those who have done both, was the convenience of staying on property worth the premium you have to pay?

Thanks, in advance.
Hi Just got back from Disney, and could write a small book on the inns and outs. Here's a summary.

Is that $650 for the whole family? How many?
  • For the first time going there for many years, we didn't rent a car, we used Uber the whole time. What a nice change! Getting around was a lot easier. Most we had to wait was 5 minutes for a ride. Best part is you get dropped off at the gate, which saves a lot of time and money parking and walking from the lot. For Magic Kingdom you can get dropped off by the Contemporary Resort, and walk 5 minutes to gate from there. All other parks let you get dropped off at the gate. I can't stress how much time this saves either parking at the parks, OR taking the free disney transportation. Taking the Disney bus could take 40 minutes for a uber ride that lasts 10. Part of that 40 minutes can be waiting for the bus, they're supposed to come every 15-20 minutes. After our 5 day trip we spent less on Uber than a car rental and parking fees, and it was easier.
  • We've stayed at Hilton Parc Soleil, Hilton Las Palmeras, and Hilton Buena Vista Palace (BVP), along with Disney lodging. All are cheaper than on site Disney lodging and you have more room options. BVP is closest and is very nice. Its across the street from Disney Springs. But most/all (?) rooms don't have a full kitchen. But maybe you don't need a kitchen, see below. Parc Soleil and Las Palmeras have kitchens, which can help you save $$$. But those hotels are about a 10 minute drive just to get to Disney Springs. But again, taking Uber will likely be faster than the Disney bus on property.
  • Eating at the parks is not cheap. Lunch for my wife and I and two kids typically $40. Dinner no less then $80. Get used to $15 burgers and $25 average, so-so dinners. A good approach is to stay off property, get food for your stay to make simple breakfast and lunches (to take with you), and eat out at dinner. Even the BVP has a fridge and microwave so you can store things and heat things up in the am. Other tip, there's online sites that let you shop at a few local grocery stores, and for a fee have your groceries delivered to your hotel! Or of course, take Uber. Great way to save.
Download the Disney World app to let you see wait times, maps, park hours, and view menus. Spend time with it before you go, its a great tool to have.
Thanks for the VALUABLE feedback, everyone!!!!!!!!!

We have 3 kids, 5, 7, & 11.

Gray
Posts: 613
Joined: Sat Apr 16, 2011 5:33 am

Re: Disney visit

Post by Gray » Fri Feb 02, 2018 7:47 pm

If you qualify, Shades of Green is great. It’s part of the Disney resort system. We stayed there between Christmas and New Years a year ago for $149/night. Reserve months ahead of time for peak periods.

BeneIRA
Posts: 455
Joined: Sat Nov 29, 2014 8:43 pm

Re: Disney visit

Post by BeneIRA » Fri Feb 02, 2018 8:16 pm

I have been a local with an annual pass and a tourist with no annual pass. I have stayed on and off property. You leave out some crucial details, specifically if you are driving to Disney or flying. If driving, then you may as well park at the parks, but if you are flying into MCO, then Uber/Lyft is a much better option than parking. You can save a ton of money staying off property. Aside from the proximity to the parks and The Magical Express from MCO, and the bus to the park, there wasn't a huge advantage to staying on property. Also, the bus was often stuffed when we wanted to go and we actually ended up using Lyft anyway, so that wasn't a huge value. I would look at staying offsite.

I am not sure where you are from, but June in Orlando is scorching hot. There is no way you will be able to stay in the park all day. I would plan on getting to the parks 30 minutes before rope drop if you want to hit the hottest rides (Frozen in Epcot, Pandora/Avatar stuff, etc). Then I would plan on taking a break midday, go back to your hotel/apartment to relax, then head back to the park at maybe 3:00 pm or so, probably a bit later, to enjoy the nighttime festivities.

Biggest piece of advise: Plan, plan, plan, plan. Having been to Disney World quite a few times, I see so many people who didn't plan. They just showed up and hoped for the best. Those are the ones who have a terrible time and say Disney is overrated. Disney could be slammed, but if you plan your Fast Passes and times, you won't feel it. Have a Plan A, Plan B and Plan C.

Don't do the prepaid dining. It's not even close to worth it. Another trick I love is bringing snacks and putting a lot of bottled water and ice packs in (free) checked luggage and carrying it with me in the parks. Over a few days, it is easy to save $40 doing this.

anil686
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Joined: Thu May 08, 2014 12:33 pm

Re: Disney visit

Post by anil686 » Fri Feb 02, 2018 8:24 pm

Have gone every year (sometimes twice) since the early 2000s - mainly stayed on site. For your questions:

1). Perks to stay on site - early magic hours get you in a little earlier. Can help accomplish some rides w/out fast pass or help structure your day. Also can do the fast pass earlier - helps with some of the more popular rides. With ride shares like Uber or Lyft - I think the transportation thing is pretty equivalent as the Disney buses from some of the value resorts can be overpacked and take a long time so you may ride share from there anyway.

2). Food - I actually think the price for food at Disney is pretty reasonable for mid range quality food. Certainly a lot more affordable than many pro sporting events (not saying much) or concerts. We typically split meals (2 adults with a 13 and 11 year old) and add one additional side item for lunch or dinner. (For example - 2 burger meals with fries and an additional fry) and split it. We also snack with some ice cream and then try to do something at the resort (like a pizza) if we leave before fireworks. However, if we are staying late - we try to do a late character breakfast (normally buffets) at 9:30-10 and we don’t eat again until 5:30 -6:30 -do the burger thing and then split some churros at night (or something sweet with the fireworks). We also sub ice cream sundaes for meals as well (they are about $5 per sundae and they are huge). Normally if we do sundaes - we typically have just a popcorn later in the day. The more I type - I just think we are not huge eaters -
Also we do not do the dining plan. It is too much food for us for the standard and we really enjoy sit down breakfast meals with the characters - so we just pay cash.

3). Tip - (I know it was not asked) - Sam’s club sells Disney gift cards at a 4% discount for Disney - $500 for $477. If you are a plus member - it is another 2% back in cash rewards. And if you use a rewards credit card - it is that on top too (my blue Amex is another 1%). Total savings is roughly 6% - which when you are talking money in the thousands is a pretty big deal. Also they are accepted everywhere at Disney World. You can charge the food and purchases to your band and then pay them off at the desk of your hotel using gift cards. Alternatively, if you are sure you are going to use the money - you can have them load a credit on your account when you get to the hotel and it will just deduct as you use your magic band.

4). Ship water or pick some up. Office Depot ships water cheaply - same with amazon pantry (but less of it). Sams club is okay too but not great. I think Office Depot was the best I found last year and I got 2 24 packs of half liter bottles for $12 delivered. We always ship snacks and water. It helps keep the costs down and tides us over so we eat two meals per day.

Hope that helps...

csm
Posts: 174
Joined: Sun Mar 27, 2016 7:52 am

Re: Disney visit

Post by csm » Sat Feb 03, 2018 8:55 am

jaxxmjd wrote:
Wed Jan 31, 2018 3:52 pm

On the other hand, you won't have access to the various Disney transportation opportunities (including the Magical Express to/from the airport, if you're flying, and limited/no use of the various monorail/boat/bus networks),

... and you won't receive MagicBands (their proprietary RF wristband for park/ride/room access and can be used to link to a credit card for easy purchasing).

Just a slight correction from this very comprehensive and useful post, anyone can use the monorail / boat / bus networks with no restrictions. There are no ticket requirements to get on these whatsoever, and certainly any ticket-holder, whether staying on or off site, has unlimited access.

We are local and have even taken my elderly mother (without any park ticket) for a boat ride from a resort to Disney Springs, or from the Boardwalk across the lake (same boat to Epcot or Hollywood Studios) because she didn't want to go into the parks but we thought she'd enjoy a little bit of the experience.

csm
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Re: Disney visit

Post by csm » Sat Feb 03, 2018 9:41 am

Lots of good suggestions here and it all depends on how your family likes to travel, your tolerance for the traffic, whether you want kitchen facilities and/or private sleeping space for the adults and kids, etc. People are so different when they travel, it really depends on your family. I know families who are happy to cram into a single hotel room with two double beds and those who want separate rooms for parents and kids. I know families who want to eat three meals a day with table service, and those who prefer to make their own meals and only eat out once a day or less. So a lot depends on your preference.

We are local and the traffic in the area has become horrendous, so unless you are driving in rather than flying, and if you only plan to do Disney for those days (i.e. not go to other attractions), I would be tempted to suggest you do not rent a car but use Uber / Lyft and either stay on property or close by.

If you stay on site, as others suggested, Disney will transport you from the airport to the resort. If you don't stay on site, find something fairly close to Disney and use Uber or a shuttle service from the airport, and then Uber to the parks.

With a family of 5, you will have some limitations as to which Disney rooms will accommodate you so you'll need to research that. Honestly, unless you are really keen on being right on property, you will probably find better and more comfortable accommodations for a better price off-site. Just a couple suggestions for close proximity to Disney but non-Disney hotels would be Wyndham's Bonnet Creek which is technically on Disney property but a non-Disney resort or if you are looking for larger facilities with a kitchen and separate bedrooms for parents and kids at a reasonable price, you may want to look at the Melia at Celebration but you'll be off property.

If you just want a room and don't need a kitchen, the suggestion for the Swan or Dolphin might work as these are on Disney property, at the Boardwalk within walking distance to both Epcot and Hollywood Studios and are managed by SPG (Starwood). So if you have Starwood's rewards program, you might find a reasonable deal. It's a very charming area to be for a few days and you have access to the Boardwalk where there is a bakery, general store, pizza window among other restaurants. If I were staying on property, it is probably the area I would choose. Others suggested renting DVC (timeshare) properties and both the Boardwalk hotel and Beach Club (at the Boardwalk area) have these options. The Boardwalk area also makes it easy to take a mid-day break from either Epcot or Hollywood Studios and go back to relax and/or use the pools, then return to the park in the evening for the fireworks shows.

Do you know yet which parks you plan to visit? You mention 3 days - is that the length of your stay? You probably want to do one park per day and not park-hop as it wastes time and the tickets cost more, unless you are keen to go to one park in the morning, take an afternoon break, and go to another in the evening.

I agree with others who say the dining plan is not worth it (unless Disney has one of their free dining plan offers but I doubt that will happen in June). I would suggest spending a little time looking through menus online and get an idea of where you may wish to eat lunch at each park or area. You mention eating breakfast before park arrival and dinner after leaving which is a good idea, so just plan lunches for the park you will be in. (Or, if you go the mid-day break route, perhaps eat a large lunch outside the park and plan to go back for the night time shows and have a light snack in the park.) With some advance planning and research, you can find decent food that is not too unhealthy or expensive (if that is important). Disney allows meal sharing so that can save as well. Do you have any special needs for food (diet, allergy, etc.)? As others said, carry water and snacks with you - maybe some packets of nuts, snack carrots, granola bars, fruit. You can get fresh fruit in most of the parks but they charge $4 - $5 for a single piece of fruit, so buy some fruit at a grocery store (delivery service if necessary) and take it with you.

Definitely decide on which park for each day and get fast passes in advance for the big rides / attractions your family wants to do.

If you narrow down some details about your family's travel style, we can all provide more tips.

Dandy
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Re: Disney visit

Post by Dandy » Sat Feb 03, 2018 10:06 am

I'm pretty frugal now and was much more frugal when my kids were young -- early 80's?. At that time I sprung for staying in the park for the following reasons:

1. I know that leaving the park to go back to the off site hotel would be a hassle. I would not want to return at night.
2. It is often very hot and we planned to start early and then go back to the hotel for a swim/nap and then return at night
when it was cooler and there were fireworks, etc. Not as easy to do with off site lodging.
3. It made the whole experience less stressful, less tiring and more enjoyable for all, especially the kids. But, it did cost more. I think you can lose some of the magic by not staying in the park.

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Re: Disney visit

Post by Miakis » Sat Feb 03, 2018 10:07 am

When we went, we stayed at a Disney Vacation Club rental that had a kitchen and ordered groceries to be delivered the day we arrived. My recollection is that some kind of concierge service actually accepted delivery and put them away in our room.

That worked out well. We'd go to a park in the morning, go back for lunch, then either hit the pool or go back to the park. Our friends had a kid and grandparent who sometimes took naps in the afternoon. It worked out well, because there were no long drives back to the hotel, so people were able to do their own thing according to energy levels.

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FrugalProfessor
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Re: Disney visit

Post by FrugalProfessor » Sat Feb 03, 2018 10:59 pm

We did a VRBO 2 years ago in this area: https://www.vrbo.com/results/usa/florid ... ld-orlando. I believe the specific hotel was "Wyndham Bonnet Creek". Paid around $150/night.

It was within the Disney property. Just a few minute drive from the main park. We had access to a kitchen and cooked our own food, saving tons in the process.
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sterlingcooper05
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Re: Disney visit

Post by sterlingcooper05 » Tue Feb 13, 2018 11:19 am

We have done both. Staying onsite was well worth the premium price. We chose a moderately priced Disney hotel and would do it again over staying offsite. We did not purchase the dining plan. It was the right choice since we found ourselves splitting many meals, especially quick service. We saved money on breakfast by eating in the room. But, we still had the convenience of charging meals to our MagicBand and settling up at the hotel. In the summer heat, scheduling time for breaks was necessary. The convenience of hopping on a bus and going back to the hotel pool was perfect.

smitcat
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Re: Disney visit

Post by smitcat » Tue Feb 13, 2018 11:26 am

sterlingcooper05 wrote:
Tue Feb 13, 2018 11:19 am
We have done both. Staying onsite was well worth the premium price. We chose a moderately priced Disney hotel and would do it again over staying offsite. We did not purchase the dining plan. It was the right choice since we found ourselves splitting many meals, especially quick service. We saved money on breakfast by eating in the room. But, we still had the convenience of charging meals to our MagicBand and settling up at the hotel. In the summer heat, scheduling time for breaks was necessary. The convenience of hopping on a bus and going back to the hotel pool was perfect.
FWIW - you can stay 'offsite' and get the same bus transportation and amenities as being at one of the moderate hotels. Some of these offsite hotels are at Disney Springs and the others would be the Swan and Dolphin. We have done both and see advantages to both. Since we have had 'older kids' with us recently we would prefer to stay near the Disney boat or monorail transportation since we will be 'on' the parks for 12 or more hours each day and that is the easiest fastest way in and out.
There are some great (cheap) deals at Disney Springs hotels that can accommodate many persons in a vacation party. There are some good deals at the Swan and Dolphin but they change quickly so checking often is part of the key.

lutus
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Re: Disney visit

Post by lutus » Wed Feb 14, 2018 12:10 pm

I just returned from Disney last week (fourth time in 12 month period). Four weeklong trips to disney this year cost me around $3200 total. :D I have a 3 kids (5, 3, 1 yo). This is bogleheads so here is how we do frugal Disney. Some tips you may or may not need:

1. Lodging: If you have a CAC card (federal employee or military) you can use Armed Forces Vacation Club https://www.afvclub.com/. One week condo rentals are $350 and you can usually find a 2 bedroom condo with full kitchen (sleeps 6 or 8). If you watch throughout the year they run deals like BOGO. I got two BOGO this year, so 4 condo rentals this year only cost me $700 [$175 per week]. AMAZING, UNBEATABLE deal.

2. Florida Resident weekday only annual passes were like $260 per person (X4). Florida residents only, obviously.

3. Parking is included for free with annual passes.

3. We had a stroller for little ones so we packed lunches/snacks in a cooler and brought them everyday. This is a great tip for riding more rides as well. You never wait in any food lines so lunch only takes 15 minutes total. Ride more rides while others eat!

4. Cooked breakfast and dinner at the condo. Huge savings and works with our park strategy (see below).

Here is how my family wins at the Disney game as far as riding the best rides and maximizing number of rides:

1. Get to each park AT LEAST an hour before they open, every single day. Each park has a 'soft opening' around 45-60 minutes prior to park opening. This means you will go through the turnstiles and head into the area where 'the rope' is located. You want to be in the front row of this mass congregation which will turn into a mass exodus. Each park is a little different as to how the soft opening rope locations are handled. Too much detail for me to include here. This first hour or so is the best opportunity to ride the 'must-do' rides with no wait. PLAN YOUR FIRST RIDE EVERY DAY, NO EXCEPTION. This is also important when choosing your fast passes.

2. Walk fast everywhere you go. Lot's of people seem to just meander through Disney. This is no good if you are trying to conquer the ride wish-list. 8-)

3. Fast Pass domination. Fast passes are available 30 (off property) to 60 (on property) days in advance and show up on the app at exactly 0700 EST. Wake up and be ready to refresh the app as soon as your phone time shows 0700 EST or equivalent. The good ones can go very fast if you are going during a large crowd time. This is an advantage to staying on property which I forego for frugality.

4. Fast Pass Tiers. Research the different 'Tier' options for fastpasses. For example, Soarin' and Fast Track are in the same tier so you only get one or the other. Here is our Epcot morning for example, get a FastPass for Soarin for around 10:30, rope drop Frozen then walk super fast to Test Track and get in the Single Rider Line. You will have completed both rides by 09:40 easily. Walk quickly to Soarin' and get in the regular line. Should have a 45 minute wait or so. Ride Soarin' then turn around and ride it again using your Fast Pass. So you rode Frozen, Test Track and Soarin (X2) and the park has only been open a little over 2 hours. This only works if you walk fast, the distance between rides is substantial.

5. Fast Pass times. Ensure that all your original 3 fast passes are used by 1 or 2 PM. As soon as you use your last fast pass get on the app and start poking around for any availability. If you see what you want right away then get it. If you don't see what you want keep trying for at least 10 to 15 minutes. Often, times and selections will appear/disappear based on other users cancellations and based on the Disney system sometimes adding in extra fasspasses throughout the day as they try to funnel people to certain rides. Choose a fastpass as close to your current time as possible so you can use it and look for your next one.

6. Time management. Since you are rope dropping, walking fast, bringing food, and dominating fastpasses, I always recommend leaving the part around 3PM (escpecially if it is really hot or crowded), going to condo, eating dinner, and returning around 6PM. You can spend these 3 hours trolling for an awesome fastpass. Upon your return everyone will be getting ready to eat dinner so standby times will go down a bit. Catch a fireworks show once during the week, but all the other nights use the fireworks time as a time to ride rides since everyone else is watching fireworks.

7. Park Close. I can confirm that the posted wait times and the app wait times STOP UPDATING around 60-90 minutes before park close. Don't trust the wait times. This is done by Disney to keep people from trying to get back on the popular rides right before close, thus causing the cast members to stay well past closing.

8. Stroller/Bathroom optimization. Know all the stroller/bathroom locations. Vital if you have little kids. Knowing where to park your stroller during rope drop is crucial to save 10 to 15 minutes at each ride. No kidding. If you don't know where to drop off your stroller when rope dropping 7 dwarves mine train you can easily lose 20 to minutes wait time. Recommend you send one adult into the fray (queue) while the second parks the stroller. Meet up at the turnstile. Ignore anyone who gives you grief about this and tell them to pound sand. :twisted:

After typing this I understand that my family tends to trend toward park domination. Hopefully I have listed some good tips that you can use to ease some of the burden that is a Disney vacation. I used to go to Disney when I was a kid (30 years ago) and it was much more laid back and care free. Those days are long gone unfortunately...

Good luck and I hope you enjoy Disney, we always do. :)

PiratePenguin
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Re: Disney visit

Post by PiratePenguin » Wed Feb 14, 2018 12:48 pm

We are big fans of https://www.floridasun.com/ vacation rentals, just south of property off of 192/Irlo Bronson, literally only 15 minutes drive to any of the parks, less to some of them. We can rent a 3/2 condo for faaaaaar less than any hotel - more space, full kitchen, etc. It's fun to stay on property and be in the "Disney Bubble" sometimes, but the costs are just crazy now. We may stay onsite once every few years for a special occasion, but we've gone often enough we'd rather save by staying offsite in the condo and use that savings towards nicer meals or experiences in the parks, where we spend most of our time anyway.

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cockersx3
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Re: Disney visit

Post by cockersx3 » Wed Feb 14, 2018 4:35 pm

We have stayed "off campus" during all of our family's visits over the last 10 years or so. One reason was financial, since even with the parking and rental car costs it's generally cheaper to stay off site. Keep in mind that the parking is good for all parks - just show the cashier and park #2's parking area to the gate attendant, and they'll wave you on through.

We have typically stayed in rental condos - we typically go through Magical Memories (www.magicalmemories.com) and have always had good experiences with them, but I'm sure there are others as well. We'll typically get a 2 BR condo with a kitchen / laundry facilities, in a development that will typically have a pool available. And again - very reasonable prices, at or below the daily cost of a hotel room.

There's also a mental health benefit to doing this as well. After dealing with all of the Disney crowds (and all of the associated passive-aggressive behavior IMO) all day, it's very nice to be able to get away from all of it and stay somewhere without the intense crowds and with lots of space - much more so than a typical hotel room. Not saying it's right for everyone, but for our on-the-introverted-side family it's very helpful and makes the overall visit much more enjoyable.

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