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Old 09-18-2012, 02:37 AM   #31
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that 3rd week of september should have low crowds.
mid sept to near the end, but not on the weekend, usually has the low season rates for onsite hotels.

what is nice about staying onsite is you become immersed in the entire theme of the park.

a short 7 minute walk from the park back to your hotel.

you'll love the pool activities that go on each day.
dive in movies at the hotel pools are really a lot of fun.

enjoy your planning for next year.
you have a lot of time to think things through and make changes.


yes, the homies on the darkside generally don't start their trip reports to the last minute.
but at the motherland trip report side, i have seen many do a pre planning report a long way out from their trip.

i enjoy reading them all.

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Old 09-18-2012, 01:31 PM   #32
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Quote:
Originally Posted by macraven View Post
that 3rd week of september should have low crowds.
mid sept to near the end, but not on the weekend, usually has the low season rates for onsite hotels.

what is nice about staying onsite is you become immersed in the entire theme of the park.

a short 7 minute walk from the park back to your hotel.

you'll love the pool activities that go on each day.
dive in movies at the hotel pools are really a lot of fun.

enjoy your planning for next year.
you have a lot of time to think things through and make changes.


yes, the homies on the darkside generally don't start their trip reports to the last minute.
but at the motherland trip report side, i have seen many do a pre planning report a long way out from their trip.

i enjoy reading them all.

and thanks for popping in. As I've been exploring the UO boards I've noticed that you are kind of the go-to guy so I definitely appreciate your input.

I love staying onsite for the very reasons you mentioned. We stayed onsite for our trip to WDW two years ago (has it really been that long??) and loved it. Well, mostly- the buses took longer than we anticipated and the walk from the stop to our room was fine in the mornings but killer at the end of the day. I'd love to stay onsite again, I'm just not sure it's in the budget. If we weren't going at such a low-crowd time I'd jump at using the UEP and early entry as my excuse... However, it is low crowd time so I'm still crunching numbers to figure out if I can swing it. I have a post coming up soon to weigh the pros and cons for our family but just haven't had time to do it. I'd definitely love your opinions when I get that update posted though.

Now, back to work...
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Old 09-18-2012, 01:49 PM   #33
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many peeps will book a one night stay only for the darkside onsite hotels.

you get the hotel perks for the day you check in and the day you check out.
the day you check out the perks are valid until the parks close.
you can have valet hold your luggage once you check out and go to the park for that day.
take the water taxi back to your hotel and pick up your luggage.

if you drive, you only incur a one night parking fee.
parking fees start at midnight, so if you leave the parking lot on day #2 before 11:59pm, no charge for that day.

stay onsite for one night, then move offsite for the rest of your stay.
get two days of unlimited usage of all express lines for rides and shows.
and, early entry to both parks.

if you have 4 or 5 in your group that spends the one night on site, figure out what the express pass plus would cost you for each person X 2 days.
(5 homies allowed per room)

usually, you come out ahead booking a one night stay then.
that one night you are paying for could be less than having add ons to pay.
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Old 09-19-2012, 08:11 AM   #34
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Originally Posted by macraven View Post
many peeps will book a one night stay only for the darkside onsite hotels.

you get the hotel perks for the day you check in and the day you check out.
the day you check out the perks are valid until the parks close.
you can have valet hold your luggage once you check out and go to the park for that day.
take the water taxi back to your hotel and pick up your luggage.

if you drive, you only incur a one night parking fee.
parking fees start at midnight, so if you leave the parking lot on day #2 before 11:59pm, no charge for that day.

stay onsite for one night, then move offsite for the rest of your stay.
get two days of unlimited usage of all express lines for rides and shows.
and, early entry to both parks.

if you have 4 or 5 in your group that spends the one night on site, figure out what the express pass plus would cost you for each person X 2 days.
(5 homies allowed per room)

usually, you come out ahead booking a one night stay then.
that one night you are paying for could be less than having add ons to pay.
Great idea, I'm still unsure if it's right for us (that post explaining all my thoughts is coming right up). My main question is, do we really need the express pass? If not then it's not really saving us money to stay onsite for an add on we wouldn't pay for anyway.
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Old 09-19-2012, 09:05 AM   #35
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Decisions, decisions! On site, partner hotel or home rental?

Okay guys, I really need your input on this one! I am so on the fence about where we should stay for our trip. There are so many factors to consider and it is one of the things that will really have a major impact on our vacation so I just want to be sure I make the right choice for our family.

I thought I'd break down the pros and cons of each choice and then get some feedback from you guys to help with the decision.

On site:

Oh, there are so many fantastic things about staying on site! Walking to the parks and City Walk, beautifully themed rooms, pools and properties, early entry and, of course, that unlimited express pass. The only real drawback is the price.

I'm not really sure we can afford to stay onsite. And if we can it would mean sacrificing a weekend getaway with Robbie. My thought was that since he's not going on our major vacation with us that he and I could take the kids for a long weekend somewhere nearby. But if I tie all of our vacation budget to this trip then we won't be able to do that. Staying off site would save us about the amount we would need for a three or four day weekend.

So, my question for experienced dark siders- how important is early entry and UEP going to be during the third week of September. I know at WDW it is (along with the previous week) historically the slowest week of the entire year. When we went in 2010 we had Express Fast Passes from the Give A Day, Get A Day promotion but we really hardly needed them even on days we arrived well after rope drop. (Though it was a lifesaver for TSM and Soarin'.)

No one in my family really likes the high octane rides. My kids just don't like roller coasters, my mom has vertigo and I think coasters are okay but don't love them. We can't use the EP for FJ. So, do we really need them? Staying onsite one night might be a possibility but again, I only want to go to the expense and the hassle of that if it's really worth it.

I would also add that we stayed onsite at WDW (for the FD) and while we enjoyed it, it wasn't as thrilling as we thought it would be. Don't get me wrong, it was nice but not something that we felt was really worth the added expense. I am not a person who loves looking for hidden Mickey's or swoons over the details on the bedspread. I want my vacation accommodations to be comfortable, have access to a pool and reasonably close to major attractions. I honestly don't care that much about theming.

Partner Hotel:

I love that UO has partner hotels that offer some, but not all perks of staying onsite for a much cheaper price. When pricing things out I've pretty much settled on Drury Inn that would give us free hot breakfast and some perks in the evening if we were back from the parks (some light snacks for the kids, popcorn, soda, even wine!). Parking is free and there's a free shuttle to the parks. The free shuttle doesn't include early entry but there is a bus stop nearby and we could use public transit or just pay for parking at the park a couple of times if we want to get there early.

But- is early entry really something I'm going to need? My mom is the only "morning person" in our family and even for her that means waking up around 7:30- which is the time we'd need to be arriving at the gate for early entry! I have the Undercover Tourist app for UO on my phone and have been watching wait times for a while now. At this time of year there doesn't seem to be much difference in wait times at various times of day- at most I see about 10-15 minutes extra at the busiest parts of the day. I would rather wait in line for a few more minutes than wake up at the crack of dawn. Don't get me wrong- I'd be up and at 'em super early if it meant not getting to ride or a difference of half an hour in each line but for 10 minutes it just doesn't seem worth fighting my kids to get up early while we're on vacation. We're homeschoolers- I don't even fight them to get up early when we're not on vacation!

Home rental:

This is really the option I'm leaning toward most. I love renting condos or houses for vacations. We get so much space, a kitchen, usually laundry facilities and for so much less than we'd pay to stay in a hotel.

We may need the space. My brother has a new girlfriend who loves Harry Potter. My mom and I have discussed that if they are still together and as serious as we think they are it might be nice to include her. But it's too early to know if that's going to be a good idea at this point. It would be nice to have the option to invite her along when we get closer to the trip if we want.

I also like having time and space to myself to recharge, write in my vacation journal, etc. I love my mom but she can be a little overwhelming at times and she likes to talk. A lot. This weekend she and I spent a night at my cousins house and she kept talking to me while I was trying to go to sleep- I was on my phone and she thought that meant I was still up even though I'd explained that reading is what helps me settle into sleep. And then as soon as I rolled over the next morning she started talking to me even though I told her that I need a few minutes to be myself and fully wake up in the morning. Having our own space would help avoid these issues and save my sanity!

As for the kitchen and laundry facilities, I know that may not seem like a bonus to some but for us it is. I like packing light and would rather throw in a load of laundry than lug a huge suitcase all over. As for the kitchen, I really thought I'd love not having to cook when we had FD for our WDW trip but honestly, by the end of the week we were all so sick of themepark food and I would have loved to just whip up an easy meal. Generally for vacation I make a few freezer meals and put them in ziploc bags so I'm really just warming something on the stove or in the oven and maybe tossing together a salad while actually there. Not a lot of time cooking, not a lot of dishes. Just simple, easy, cheap and healthy food to refuel us. And if we don't want to do that we can still eat out- but it's nice to have the option IMO.

So, really the only drawback of renting a house or condo is that we won't have early entry or an EP (though we could buy an EP, I'd have to price it out to see if that's an option).

That's what it keeps coming back to and will probably play the biggest role in my decision- do we REALLY need these perks or will we have plenty of time without them? We'll probably do three single park days with the option of adding park to park or a fourth day if we want. (Another perk of the house/condo is that it will most likely be a one week rental so adding a park day won't add to our accommodations budget.)

Whew, that was long winded and rambling (I warned you!) so if you're still reading I appreciate it. I'd love some feedback and opinions about this!
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Old 09-19-2012, 12:11 PM   #36
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Drury Inn is a well kept secret of being a great place to stay.

i have some friends that have been using that place.


you should break down the costs involved.
hotel stay cost, tickets separately and then compare that to the packages.

most of the time, you will come out ahead by booking everything separately.


the hotel shuttle at DI is free if you have a package or not.

they honor AAA discounts.
if you stay during the weekdays, the rate will be lower there.
the free breakfast is good there.

since you are not staying for a long time, i would go with a hotel rather than a condo set up.
when i am on vacation i do not cook, clean, do dishes, etc.
you would have lots more room in a condo/private rental house, but you then have the down time in getting back and forth to the parks, shopping areas, restaurants, etc.

how do you want to spend your time on vacation?
shopping, park fun, city walk adventures, etc.

if you want to concentrate on theme parks as your main entertainment, go onsite one night then offsite.
or, stay at drury inn as it is close to the parks.

parking is $15 in the garage at city walk.
only do that one day if you plan to take breaks back at your offsite place.
show the parking stub so you are waived from paying again when you return to the parks later in the day/evening.

the parks close earlier in september.
do you really want to take breaks in the daytime away from them?

do the parks all day and spend the early evening at city walk or other places in that area off site.

you have plenty of time to think this all through.

promos for onsite rooms come up frequently.
there are times rooms can go for $150 a night.
i have paid less with my AAA card and with my APH card for a room.
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Old 09-20-2012, 07:58 AM   #37
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I vote OFFSITE. Seriously, you need to make a pros/cons graph. I think you will see that there are FAR MORE pros for your family to stay in a condo. I know it's not the same staying offsite for WDW, but we had a fabulous trip when we rented. Yes, it was different than the whole immersing yourself, but it was also more relaxed, spacious, and comfortable!

There are great reasons for on and offsite, but you have to decide what is best for YOUR family, YOUR budget, and YOUR trip.
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Old 09-20-2012, 08:34 AM   #38
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Quote:
Originally Posted by macraven View Post
Drury Inn is a well kept secret of being a great place to stay.

i have some friends that have been using that place.


you should break down the costs involved.
hotel stay cost, tickets separately and then compare that to the packages.


most of the time, you will come out ahead by booking everything separately.


the hotel shuttle at DI is free if you have a package or not.

they honor AAA discounts.
if you stay during the weekdays, the rate will be lower there.
the free breakfast is good there.

We've stayed at a DI (years ago) and it was nice. Comfortable, clean, good breakfast. If we choose a partner hotel it will be DI for sure!

since you are not staying for a long time, i would go with a hotel rather than a condo set up.

We'll actually be doing 5 or 6 nights. 3-4 days at Universal, a day at Legoland and possibly some time at DTD.

when i am on vacation i do not cook, clean, do dishes, etc.

I don't mind a bit, as I explained before. I actually prefer some light cooking to a week of themepark/fast food.

you would have lots more room in a condo/private rental house, but you then have the down time in getting back and forth to the parks, shopping areas, restaurants, etc.

Good point, if we decide on a house/condo rental I'll have to be sure to look for something very near the parks. I've actually found one that claims to be about 15 minutes out from both UO and Legoland so that's a definite contender.

how do you want to spend your time on vacation?
shopping, park fun, city walk adventures, etc.

if you want to concentrate on theme parks as your main entertainment, go onsite one night then offsite.
or, stay at drury inn as it is close to the parks.

parking is $15 in the garage at city walk.
only do that one day if you plan to take breaks back at your offsite place.
show the parking stub so you are waived from paying again when you return to the parks later in the day/evening.

the parks close earlier in september.
do you really want to take breaks in the daytime away from them?

We probably won't take breaks. We attempted afternoon breaks at WDW and they just didn't work well for our family. (And this was while staying onsite and with later park closings than UO.)

do the parks all day and spend the early evening at city walk or other places in that area off site.

you have plenty of time to think this all through.

Yep, I know. I do generally like to get my accommodations booked fairly early though so I can get my first choice AND because it solidifies the vacation a bit more by making it more difficult to change our minds.

promos for onsite rooms come up frequently.
there are times rooms can go for $150 a night.
i have paid less with my AAA card and with my APH card for a room.
That is a good rate and one I'll be on the lookout for if we determine we need to stay onsite. I'm still curious if you think we'll need the express pass at this time of year. I've been watching my line app but would value input from someone who's actually been to the parks.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Twoboysnmygirl View Post
I vote OFFSITE. Seriously, you need to make a pros/cons graph. I think you will see that there are FAR MORE pros for your family to stay in a condo. I know it's not the same staying offsite for WDW, but we had a fabulous trip when we rented. Yes, it was different than the whole immersing yourself, but it was also more relaxed, spacious, and comfortable!

There are great reasons for on and offsite, but you have to decide what is best for YOUR family, YOUR budget, and YOUR trip.
A GRAPH!! Ooooh, you know me so well.

I'm definitely leaning toward off site if I could just figure out if I'm going to need that EP. And I'll also need to find just the perfect offsite spot- good location, pool, spacious, right price...
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Old 09-20-2012, 03:22 PM   #39
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Here is reason to stay onsite:



This was the third week in June. It was raining this morning but Early Entry to WWoHP without crowds was amazing.
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Old 09-20-2012, 04:29 PM   #40
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Quote:
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Here is reason to stay onsite:



This was the third week in June. It was raining this morning but Early Entry to WWoHP without crowds was amazing.
That looks amazing! I'm not sure it's enough incentive for us at this point but it sure is tempting!
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Old 09-20-2012, 04:38 PM   #41
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Out of all of the options, offsite does seem like the best bet for the time of year that you are going. That was a good idea to watch wait times on your app to see how things would typically run at this time of year. Your mom sounds like my mom. Love her to pieces, but that woman could (and would) talk ALL DAY LONG if someone would listen. Probably even if no one would listen It is important to have your space, even on vacation, because itís terrible when people start to get on each otherís nerves just because they are on top of each other every day. I think a vacation home is a nice option, but Karen is right: you need a graph, and we uber-planners need to see the graph
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Old 09-21-2012, 10:06 PM   #42
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Out of all of the options, offsite does seem like the best bet for the time of year that you are going. That was a good idea to watch wait times on your app to see how things would typically run at this time of year. Your mom sounds like my mom. Love her to pieces, but that woman could (and would) talk ALL DAY LONG if someone would listen. Probably even if no one would listen It is important to have your space, even on vacation, because it’s terrible when people start to get on each other’s nerves just because they are on top of each other every day. I think a vacation home is a nice option, but Karen is right: you need a graph, and we uber-planners need to see the graph
Glad to know my mom isn't the only one!

Yep, I think offsite is the best option for us on this trip. I was really hoping to get a little more feedback about the need for an EP but I'm just going to go with my WDW experience and my app.

And my handy dandy chart...



shows me that I can actually buy an EP (though not unlimited like the room key) and still come out cheaper than staying on site. Seems like a no brainer to me.

The offsite prices on that chart are from all the research I did yesterday. I pinned tons of options on my Orlando pinboard from HomeAway and VRBO. All have plenty of space, are between 5 and 20 minutes to the parks and are super cheap. Like I said, no brainer!

Honestly, I appreciate the perks of staying onsite but as macraven said, I have to ask myself what type of vacation I want. And when I really thought it about it the word that kept coming to mind was relaxing. I don't want to be rushing out the door in the morning to get to early entry. I don't want to be on top of each other all the time. I know I'll have to do some light cooking and dishes but we'll bring frozen meals to warm up and buy paper plates. That will impede on our fun far less than stressing about time or getting sick of each other will.

Now I have plenty of time to sort through all those options and decide which rental is going to be just right for us.

Last edited by -Hope-; 09-21-2012 at 10:12 PM.
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Old 09-21-2012, 10:40 PM   #43
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One year!!!

ONE YEAR!!!!

Yep, one year from today we will be on the road and headed to Orlando. (We won't actually arrive until the 22nd but I'm counting down to our departure, not our arrival.)

We needed to celebrate and those of you who have followed along with my other PTR or TR might be able to guess that to do this we...





had a movie night of course!

We had free HBO last weekend and I recorder Despicable Me which just happens to be the latest and greatest attraction at US. We've seen it before but it's adorable and definitely worth rewatching.

I went with yellow and blue to honor those cute little Minions. We had a blue table cloth, blue cups and blue Kool-aid in our yellow pitcher...


We set out some test tubes in honor of the lab...




We had a shoot the space monster game (but no fluffy unicorns for prizes, lol)...






I found a printable with a maze, word search and spot the differences picture...


Which the kids thoroughly enjoyed...


And we topped it all of with some Minions for dessert...


As I said, I recorded the movie so we could watch... but...


I accidentally recorded the Spanish version!

Seriously, I didn't even know there was a Spanish HBO on DirecTV (we've only had the system a few months) and I just wasn't paying attention when I set the DVR. I was worried at first that it was going to be a bust for the movie but then remembered that our new smart TV has Amazon capabilities so I rented it.

Jace was super tired and Robbie gave up about half-way in but Kya and I are enjoying it right now. Hangin' with my girl, not a bad way to celebrate our one year mark.
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Old 09-21-2012, 11:44 PM   #44
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Hope, you need a correction in your graph.
parking at the hotels cost $17 + tax per night.

the day you leave, there will be no parking charge as the rate begins at midnight each night.


are you using the rack rate for onsite hotel costs?
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Old 09-22-2012, 05:56 AM   #45
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Too funny about recording the movie in Spanish. We do Countdown Dinners too. They are so much fun to do.
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