May 22, 2008,
L.M. asks from Centreville, VA on May 20, 2008
Seeking Help Planning a First Time Disney Trip Family of 6 4Kids and 2 Adults
I need help planning this trip. I have no clue on what resorts, best way to travel, hotels, should we stay on or off the resort. How much is this going to costs us? We have to go to Sea world while we are there. the ages of the children are 18,15,10, and 6. This is their X-mas gift as well as their dream vacation. I want this to be an outstanding vacation, be able to do almost everything they want to, and for this to be a trip they will always remember without being too pricy. Please help with any ideas or wisdom that you can share. I will like to know or hear from families especially of my size to just get a true feeling of what this trip would costs. Should we go through AAA or any other travel agents or do it on our own.
1 mom found this helpful
A.F. answers from Washington DC on May 21, 2008
I don't have the family you do, but I grew up in Orlando, and my mother worked at Disney for years. So I can at least give you my two cents on the Disney vacation. First of all, I definitely recommend staying at a resort. Orlando is not very public-transportation friendly, and you will need to rent a car, and paying for parking back and forth to the parks each day will eat up the difference between what you may save staying off-property. Staying on property REALLY gives you an opportunity to enjoy your stay, and get the most out of the parks. You can go back to your hotel for meals in your room (this will save you a TON of money), and you won't feel rushed to get through each park during the day. Take a break after lunch to swim & relax by the pool at your hotel, as the busiest time in the park (read as: most miserable) is about 2-5. Go back after dinner and you'll really enjoy a nice evening there. Also, when you stay at a Disney Resort you will get a card that will allow you to skip the lines at many rides -- WELL worth it.
A couple of money-saving tips: buy your souvenirs OUTSIDE the park, on International Drive (near Sea World) to save the Disney mark-up. Like I mentioned before, buy some groceries once you get there, to keep in your room for meals like lunch and breakfast, and your own snacks, which will also save you a ton. Buy some bottled water as well, to cart around yourself. All of the food there has a ridiculous mark-up, and the more you can cut out, the better off you are.
There are Disney Vacation consultants you can call at Disney, to help you plan your vacation, but I agree with the PPs who have recommended AAA, as they will be able to give you non-Disney advice and coupons as well.
Most of all, enjoy yourself! I have probably been to Disney 1000 times, and I still love it as much as the first time! It's a truly magical place, and I hope your family has a magical vacation!!
2 moms found this helpful
L.V. answers from Washington DC on May 21, 2008
I haven't read the other responses yet, but I have two websites to recommend: www.intercot.com it is full of information, message boards, etc, its a great place to go for Disney info. For a free travel agency specializing in Disney, try http://www.yourmagicaljourneys.com/ . They are fabulous at finding the perfect deal for you! My husband and I have stayed at Caribean Beach Resort, Animal Kingdom Lodge, and Port Orleans Riverside. I would stay at Animal Kingdom Lodge and Caribean Beach Resort again in a heartbeat! Good luck planning.
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C.F. answers from Washington DC on May 22, 2008
The previous posters already had some great tips, here are a couple other thoughts:
If you are definitely going to Sea World or Universal or Cirque de Soleil (any of the things NOT Disney), then you'll need a car while you are there.
If you haven't already decided, with so many people, you should consider driving down there. Yes, gas is expensive, but so are six (6!) plane tickets! You can do it all in one very looong day of driving if you'd like - its about 13 hours (not counting rest stops.) Or you can plan to stop at a specific point on the way and reserve a motel room in advance. Savannah GA is right on the way, and a beautiful place to visit in its own right. Depending on how much vacation time you have, maybe stay a day or two in Savannah and then go the rest of the way to Disney. (I'd recommend on the trip down, 'cause on the trip back you will be sooooo tired of walking around. = ) Even if you just stay the night there, Savannah is known for it's evening walking tours of 'ghost' sites in the historic district. Might be a good way to stretch and get over being in the car for so long.
The first time my parents took my family to Disney, we also had 6 of us (2 adults and kids ages 17, 15, 14 and 4) and we stopped here in the DC area and again in GA to see relatives (we were driving down from Long Island, NY.)
Lets see, what else...
Make sure where you stay has at least a fridge, if not a kitchenette, so that you can at least store stuff. My mom made PB&J sandwiches that we took to the parks every day with a big bag of chips - we only bought drinks (but that was before the rise of bottled water = ) Definitely a great money-saver and a healthier alternative to eating fried foods or hamburgers every day for lunch (and we got to skip the lines at the eateries.)
When I went with my husband a couple of years ago, we booked everything through AAA (definitely a good choice if you are already a member) and the park hopper pass was the most economical, even though we didn't use it all - we went to Sea World one day, which was so worth it! (I LOVE Sea World!)
One last thing - if you are planning on going to any of the 'celebrity' theme restaurants for dinner at Disney or Universal, definitely choose them and call to book a table at least a month or so before you go. My husband really wanted to go to the Emeril restaurant, but when we called the first day we got there, we were told that the restaurants were all booked up and had been for at least a month! Especially with such a large group, try to book as early as possible.
Anyways, hope this info helps - have a great time!
K.L. answers from Washington DC on May 21, 2008
Hi L.! We just did our first Disney trip last November with our two girls, ages 6 and 4. We had a BLAST!! It is definitely expensive, but knowing you'll only do it once in a blue moon makes it feel better. We booked the everything except the airline tickets through Disney. They were extremely helpful. We booked the airlines ourselves because my husband found pretty cheap flights online. If your kids like swimming Disney's Beach Club Resort is amazing! We actually spent one entire day there - never made it into the parks because the pools were so much fun. My girls were doing the Macarena on the pool deck with 20 other kids. So funny. Also, if you stay there it is a very short bus ride to Magic Kingdom, a very short boat ride to MGM, and within walking distance of Epcot. We did the dining plan and I think it saved us money. I swear we actually had trouble eating all the food we were allotted for each day. My one word of caution - beware of hotels that Disney says are "on the property" because some are very far from the parks. A friend of mine stayed at Disney's All Star Movie Resort because it was cheap, but then found out the bus ride to Magic Kingdom took forever!! Good luck with your planning, and HAVE FUN!
S.R. answers from Washington DC on May 21, 2008
If you have AAA, go there for planning. They are a marvelous resourse.
E.H. answers from Washington DC on May 21, 2008
We actually just got back from Disney two days ago. This was our first trip there as well. And since I had no idea as to what I was doing I went to a AAA agent. They are so wonderful and very helpful. When I had a question about anything, I got the answers from my agent. She also made all the phone call and reservations. It was great and we had a wonderful time. Plus using AAA we got a few discounts and meal/gift vouchers. I would recommend AAA.
Good luck and have a fun vacation.
The few recommendations I have are:Stay at a Disney resort, the benefits of staying there are great/and well worth it.
Get a park hopper pass
and use the dining plan
We stayed at the Polynesian Resort, great place and very close to all means of transportation.