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Hey Mommies,
We are planning our first Disney (Orlando) family trip in 2012 and wonder if anyone can provide some tips. There will possibly be 7 adults and 3 kids (the ages will be 2/2&.5 to 5). I'm wondering about good months to go, hotel or rental homes recommendations, etc. In general, ANY info that you can provide that may help. If you have traveled there in the past few years, what is a good estimate of what the trip cost you? We're saving now but would love a rough number of what this may cost us (airfare, hotel, spending cash, food). We also debate if we should look for deals ourselves or go and sit down with a travel agent and we have all agreed that eating out for every meal is not something we like so we thought about getting a rental home close to the park or some sort of villa/suite that has one full kitchen. Like I said before, any tips or information on anything to do with your Disney (Orlando) vacation will be much appreciated!

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We actually went in november, with 3 adults and 6 kids, and we rented a house through vacation rentals by owner (www.vrbo.com) and for $640 had a house for a week, a three bedroom with a kitchen and pool in back - it was nice because the kids could swim when we were there, and it wasn't that far away from disney and universal, about 20 minutes... we had tickets to disney and universal; the disney was a 2-day pass where you could go to two different parks, and that was about 1400; the universal studios was a week pass and that was about $840 for all of us; altogether the trip cost about $5000 with gas & everything (but we drove there). It was akways less crowded at universal (and it's an awesome park, more worth the money imo)but unfortunately we went to disney on thanksgiving and i definitely don't recommend that unless you like big crowds...

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Try the Regal Palm Resort. they have condos and vacation homes. the vacation homes have 3-5 bedrooms. We stayed in a 3 bedroom condo and it was great. Close to a grocery store and the pool was wonderful, waterslide and lazy river. Full kitchen too. I'm not sure what plane tickets from IL are but when we went last year I think tickets were $250 each. I think the time of year you go depends on what you want to do. April is good for swimming, February is nice but a little cold some days for swimming. I think travel agents are to pricey but whatever works for you. Using the kitchen saves you tons on food and you can bring food into the park so it works good. Are all of you planning on staying in the same place or will you get to separate places. It think for 7 of us in a 3 bedroom townhouse we paid under $700 for the week closer to 600 I think. I'm sure you can look up ticket prices etc. hope you find something good.

oh yeah and get some disney stuff online for the kids before you go and give them to them when they are there, saves lots of money. mickey hats, shirts etc.

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I would definitely get "The Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World" - it's a little overwhelming, but has tons of tips. We stayed at the Grand Cypress and although it's not on Disney property, they do have shuttles that go to most of the Disney parks and Seaworld. They also provide free strollers for the duration of your stay. The pool is fantastic! Also, make sure you get the parks pretty early and try your best to get Fast Passes- they sell out quickly though. There is also some Hyatt Villas that are also on the Grand Cypress property if you're looking for something with a kitchen. We did tour those (my cousin works there) and they were really nice, but kind of a walk to the pool. Bring a fan with a water bottle attached if you go during a time that it's REALLY hot. We bought one when we were there and of course, we paid more than double for it. We went in May last yearand it was really hot. My hubby and I went in October before we had our daughter and it was really the perfect time to go- not too hot and the crowds were really light. In fact, we were able to ride the rides at least twice with no wait. Have fun!

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I would first start with calling Disney (get the # from their website). There are a lot of deals offered on their site but to discover what would really work for family, it's best to speak directly with their agents. The meal plans they offered saved us a lot of money. The info they gave us on how to get ahead of the lines for the rides was priceless! Standing in long lines with young kids can be a huge challenge!

Also, do any of the adults going have any type of military status (active, inactive, reserve)? If yes, ask them to find out what discounts they can get. This cut our cost by 40% when we went 2 years ago.

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You couldn't pay me to go in the summer months. Horribly crowded and miserably hot!

We went in the fall (late October) once and it was awesome. We were there during the week and the lines/crowds were very, very light.

If you rent a place with a kitchen you can eat breakfast before you go, pack your lunch and snacks to take with you into the park and then would have to count either dinner in the park or leaving early enough to go back and make dinner. You might be able to find a resort that would also have shuttle service to the park along with apartment type arrangements. If not, then you'd have to balance that with the needs for a rental car. Decide if you are going to want to explore any parts other than Disney while there and would need a car.

You can get regular hotels as low as $50 on priceline. Most have a mini-fridge in the nicer hotels.

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you could do it yourself, but i have a great travel agent who knows a lot about disney. you don't pay any extra for use of a travel agent, you use her because she has contacts, expertise, and gets you the best deals. she could knock out what you need lickety split, instead of you fiddling with all the research yourself.

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We went Oct. 5-12 and I didn't think it was too crowded. I hadn't been there in 20 years, though, so I don't have anything else to compare it to. I paid for TourGuideMike.com, and I followed his advice about crowds. We were happy, as our wait times for the rides were about 15 min. at the most. I found a coupon code for TGM online. It was worth every penny. I would recommend going to Fantasyland in the Magic Kingdom as soon as the park opens. I guess it can get really crowded there. Let me know if you have any other questions.

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If you can swing it, staying on property is the easiest and most fun way to do Disney. Once on site (and Disney provides easy, free transportation to the hotel from the airport), you don't need a car for anything since you use their transportation. As far as staying places, may I suggest you all look at one of the Disney Vacation Villas. You don't need to be a Vacation Club Member to stay at them, and with the number of people you have, it may end up being almost the same cost as a Value Resort, but you get the benefit of the kitchen. There are always 8 adults and at least one child (soon to be 2!) when we go, and this is by far the best thing we could have done! Enough beds for everyone, three full bathrooms, and a kitchen. You aren't forced to buy in to the Disney Dining plan, but depending on when you book, it may actually come free!

As for the cost, it really depends on when you go. High season is during the summer months (kids out of school), so if you can stay away from them, it will cost less. Our favorite months to go are March (no where near spring break), and May. We also enjoy the fall (October/November). I just looked yesterday to see what it would cost us all to go in December of this year (a relatively cheap time to go there). For the 8 adults plus 2 kids (one under 2), it would cost us $10,000 to stay at Bay Lake Towers (right next to Magic Kingdom where you can see the fireworks from your window), with the meal plan and a 6 day park hopper ticket. I believe it went down to maybe $7500 without the meal plan.

We go every year (and are Vacation Club Members as well), so if you have any other questions, please feel free to PM me! Have fun!

P.S. You should be able to do everything yourselves. I wouldn't pay a travel agent to do anything!

1 mom found this helpful

My sister and brother-in-law go in mid-September. They say it's the best time to go - it's still warm, but not hot and not crowded.

Staying at Disney has some perks...you can take a bus or tram directly to the parks and not have to deal with parking, the resorts are all very nice and very clean. But Disney is usually more expensive. We went about 8 years ago and rented a 3 BR condo (5 adults and 3 kids). It was great to have a kitchen and the complex had a nice pool, too - which the kids liked almost as much as Disney.

Good luck and have fun!

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