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  #1  
Old 04-28-2005, 11:22 AM
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Location: DFW / Collin County Texas
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Disney World Orlando - Any Tips?

We are going to do a road trip from Dallas with our 3 and 5 year old boys visiting relatives in Atlanta and also Disney World in Orlando for 3 days. We have done extended driving with the kids before - Honda Odyssey with DVD player and new movies they haven't seen before really works wonders, as well as stopping every couple hours just to let them run around and stretch their legs. Oh, and not pumping them full of sugar helps too. The driving should be fine.

It has been almost 20 years since I was at Disney World; I was just a kid at the time. Now it's somewhat surreal making plans to take my own kids there. We have traveled extensively with the kids to various U.S. cities as well as internationally; both kids have passports with stamps that many adults would envy - they're great travelers. But believe it or not, this whole theme park thing seems far more daunting than a slow-paced trip through Paris or Venice or Zurich. Seems more chaotic and stressful. And it seems way more expensive too.

So I'm looking for tips. All tips are welcome, but I am especially interested in tips and tricks for saving money. For example, I know Paris very well and know where to lodge, eat cheap, etc. and can survive on very little funds. But in looking online and in speaking with others who have been to Disney, it would seem that prices for hotel, food, and park tickets can cost a small fortune.

For starters, here are a few general questions:

1) Is it cheaper to stay in a nearby hotel like a Hilton or Hampton Inn and buy the park tickets, or is it cheaper to stay in a Disney hotel (I understand you automatically get admission if you stay there). Obviously staying at Disney would be more convenient.

2) Any alternatives to the insane food prices inside the park? What amount should I budget per day?

3) Will 3 days at the Magic Kingdom overwhelm the 3 and 5 year olds? Should we break it up with a day at Epcot in the middle? Are mid-day naps recommended?

4) Any tips on getting discounts or deals on the park tickets if not staying onsite?

5) Any good restaurants or other sights in the immediate area that we shouldn't miss while we're there?

6) Any bad experiences we will want to avoid? For instance rides that aren't worth it or might scare the kids.

7) Any tips on coping with the crowds with a 3 and 5 year old? For instance, waiting in long lines. Will it be hard to keep track of them in the endless sea of people?

8) What if it rains? Can the park still be enjoyed?

That's it for starters. I'm sure I'll think of more. Any insight would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks in advance!

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  #2  
Old 04-28-2005, 11:45 AM
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Location: Palmetto, FL
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The Wonderful World of Disney!

Well... since Disney World is my next door neighbor here at UCF, hopefully this will help you out on your journey to Orlando...

1) I'm not sure if you get admission to the parks just because you are staying at a hotel on the disney property... I'm pretty sure you still have to buy tickets unless you get a package deal. I would assume it is cheaper to stay nearby, but Disney does have some lower-prices family oriented resorts, such as their "All-Star" hotels, and I think Nickelodeon just built a hotel which is supposed to be a great place for families.

2) I'm also not sure if you can bring your own food and drink into the parks... if you can, that would be a huge bouns because the food prices in the parks are ridiculous. If you are going to be eating in the parks, for a family of 4 I'd budget probably about $50 for a moderate lunch each day, and $75 for a decent dinner in the parks, or at some of the hotel restaurants there. For breakfast, you could just grab a quick bite for not too much, but a sit down breakfast would probably run you about the same as lunch. That is probably a bit of an over-estimate, but better to be safe than sorry.

3) I think three straight days of magic kingdom would be overwhelming. I think a day of Epcot in the middle would be good, a change of scenery, and there are some fun rides there - and midday naps would probably be a good idea for everyone on the trip.

4) I don't know of any way to get discounted tickets except maybe through AAA? Us Florida residents get a little discount, but it isn't much.

5) There is loads of stuff to do in the Disney area. There is Downtown Disney - a few things for the little ones to do there, but set up more towards the older crowd. A place called "Old Town" has a big classic car show every Friday or Saturday night if you are into that kind of thing. When you get here, there will be gobs of brochures and that sort of thing. There are also loads of very good restaurants around - somewhere not too pricey is a place called "Jungle Jim's" - moderately priced, and the kids would probably enjoy the atmosphere.

6) Hmm.. it depends on what your kids are afraid of. I've seen kids come crying out of some rides that other kids came out laughing.. I guess it all just depends. Same for the rides that aren't worth it - it's all your own opinion I guess.

7) On the rides that usually get long lines, Disney offers a "fast-pass" What you do is you put your park ticket in a machine, it verifies it, and then will print you out a pass that tells you to come back to the ride during a one-hour time frame usually about an hour after you get the fast pass (for example, lets say you get a fast pass at noon, it will tell you to come back between 1 and 2) - and this allows you to get into a much shorter, faster moving line when you come back for a minimal wait. As for the big crowds, just keep an eye on them, a close eye. I have seen many parents with leashes and that sort of thing, but I think that is a little extreme.

8) If it rains, there is still plenty to do. Most of the rides are indoor, and a little rain usually won't shut much of anything down. It isn't fun when the lightning starts though. They'll shut down a lot of rides if the weather gets too nasty.

I remember going to disney world back when I was about 5 and my sister was maybe 7. It was a good time, and a lot has changed since then. Disney is a lot of fun, but is also very tiring. I find if I go there for more than 2 or 3 days, I like to spend one of my afternoons just relaxing by the pool and taking it easy to get away from all of the people. Be sure to bring LOTS of sunscreen.. the sun is brutal here in the summer. Water is also very good to have on hand. And yes, Disney is a pretty expensive trip. There is only so much you can do to keep costs down, but things like ticket prices, food at the park, and gifts and goodies can ring up a big tab quick. Hope this helps you out a little bit - if you have anymore questions, feel free to send me a PM, or email me flewis2@gmail.com
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Old 04-28-2005, 12:35 PM
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I attended a professional convention which met at Disney World. We ended up booking a condo a couple of miles from Disney World itself. It was cheaper but I can't remember the name of the place. It was about a 5 minute drive.
We got discount tickets by attending a presentation at a time share resort. The offered it to us when we picked up our rental car at the airport. Got breakfast and spent an hour repeating to the salesman that we weren't interested in a time share and saved some $$.
Three days would be way too much for me. I could barely stomach one day of it. Took my 8 yr old daughter to Disneyland 2 yrs ago and 1 day was fine for her.
We drove to St. Augustine and spent a day doing historical visits and another day at Cocoa Beach rather than spend more than one day at Disney.
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Old 04-28-2005, 12:35 PM
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I also live in the greater Orlando area and took my in-laws , wife and 4 yr old to Sea World last Tuesday. I spent more on admission than I did for a round trip ticket to Paris last month. I can't say I enjoyed myself, but I think my daugher did, and that was the point. Sea World is a bit more laid back because there aren't any lines per se. Most of the attraction is the shows (Shamu etc). It might be a bit of a break from the Disney madness. I hope you like crowds- I hope you aren't there over a weekend. We brought sandwiches and food into Sea World and I don't see why you couldn't do that at Disney. That said, I would say that the dining experience at Disney (particularly at EPCOT) adds significantly to the experience and really isn't outrageously expensive ( I haven't been there in 3 or 4 years , though)

Rick
Deltona, FL
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Old 04-28-2005, 12:42 PM
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i stayed with the whole family (10 of us including old people) at a house about 3 miles from the park last fall. The outfit is www.allstarvacationhomes.com

It cost us $3,000 for a week - a 7 bedroom house with pool, hot tub, cable, playstations, the works. A great deal - and about 1/2 the cost of a crappy hotel room in the park.

They rent smaller houses too - check it out. I'll definitely be using them again.

Enjoy.
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Old 04-28-2005, 01:28 PM
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You have little kids - if at all possible, stay at one of the park hotels. They not only complement the whole theme experience, but if someone gets tired or sick, you don't have to find your car to leave the park, drive through traffic, etc. etc.

Not having to get in the car for a few days is a nice break. And you can come and go as you wish. Check the hotels for package deals.
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Old 04-28-2005, 02:34 PM
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If at all possible go during off-season. One day at the Magic Kingdom is about right, one day at Epcot, and one day at the Animal Kingdom would be my recommendation. Food ar Epcot is part of the experience and although the fireworks at the Magic Kingdom are great the ones at Epcot are spectacular (but may be too late in the evening for the little ones). The Disney waterparks are also worth a look. Believe it or not the waterparks are relaxing compared to the rest of Disney.

We went to Disney ourselves many decades ago and it was alright, but a few years ago we went with our son and it was fantastic. Disney should rent kids out to visitors who don't have any. Don't worry about saving money because you can't. Just go with the flow and see it through the eyes of your children and you will have a great memory. We're going again this year as our son will be 12 and it may be our last chance to do this again.

Jorg

Last edited by 89-300ce; 04-28-2005 at 03:16 PM.
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Old 04-28-2005, 02:43 PM
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With kids in tow, having "home base" a monorail ride away is a definite advantage and early admission to the parks is also a bonus. Those advantages only count if you're going to stay more than 2 days, which is needed to hit all the DW attractions, not to mention the Universal side.

Disney parks do not allow outside food/drink.
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Old 04-28-2005, 03:25 PM
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Dump the kids at a babysitter for one night and take the woman to Victoria and Albert's for a nice dinner.

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