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Old 12-27-2012, 10:28 AM   #1
stitchaholic
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family vacation confusion , opinions ?

OK , it is super expensive to take a family vacation these days , we love Disney , but my kids are 12 & 14 and starting to get sick of the parks ......

At first I was thinking about a cruise , Carnival cruise , but then I started being uneasy about that cruise line , I hate paying lotsa bucks to take a half vacation where I feel uncomfortable or receive halfway service . So the I decided a Disney cruise , but whoaaaaaa , much more expensive . I also started feeling like I would get claustrophobic on a ship , I like knowing I have an escape route if I need it ..... ( no , we have never cruised before) , not only is the cruise expensive , but I would do excursions , that adds up very quickly to a vacation of it's own , plus tips ... seems never ending , but fun to see new places .

then I thought , we could do an Orlando holiday , spend 3 nights at Universal , maybe try and rent some DVC points or stay in a mod at Disney for 5 nights and visit Discovery cove and Seaworld ( we have never been to those places either) , this way I know all the costs up front , we can stay busy , and we can get away from each other from time to time if needed , we all have strong personalities , my son is ADHD , we need space ...LOL

what would you choose and why ?
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Old 12-27-2012, 10:46 AM   #2
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pros and cons each way. I really wanted to say that we have taken 2 CCs and had fun each time. Our DS is now 11 and he had fun both times as well.

Is it cruising with Disney? From what I have seen, no. (Taking our first DCL in a couple of months) But if you are not going Spring Break times, it was fun for us.
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Old 12-27-2012, 11:26 AM   #3
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Hi, last March we skipped the main parks on our family vacation. We did go to Blizzard Beach and Downtown Disney, if you have sports fans you could go to a hockey game, basketball or baseball spring training if happening when you are there. Cocoa beach is not far away. There is also a lot of shopping in Orlando. We stayed offsite and our resort had a great pool so we had a pool day as well. I was talked into a Disney cruise and loved it! The private island is great. Good luck with the planning.
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Old 12-27-2012, 01:40 PM   #4
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If you want to check out different possibilities for cruises, I'd recommend that you spend some time on cruisecritic.com. You can look at different itineraries, cruise lines, lengths of cruises etc.

There are lots of cruise lines besides Carnival and Disney and many of them are really upping the ante when it comes to kids activities aboard. Disney is still top of the list for families, both for kids and for cost.

And while many Disney fanatics may gasp in horror, it is still possible to spend quite awhile in central Florida without setting foot in WDW (if that's what you want to do). Tourism Orlando (and Florida) have great websites that will give you a ton of ideas.

Making decisions depends on SO many variables, that I doubt we can make the decision for you. What works for our family would probably NOT work for yours. And you don't mention the time of year- this is a big deal for cruising. Do you want to cruise the Caribbean during hurrican season?

If you kind of like the idea of cruising, but aren't sure if it's for you, then spend more time researching the possibilities. My suggestion would be to take a shorter 4 day cruise to see if it's "your thing" or not. Combine it with a few days in the Orlando area. Get a taste of both without a huge $$$ and time commitment either way.
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Old 12-27-2012, 02:06 PM   #5
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Your kids are telling you loud and clear that they don't want another Disney vacation. From your signature you've gone that last 5 years in a row. It's not special for them anymore.

Rent a 3 bdrm condo at Windsor Hills, rent a car, and enjoy Universal/Islands of Adventure, Sea World and Discovery Cove. You will have a much different vacation than you are used to and the kids will enjoy new experiences and having the room they need to have some personal space. You can still book a dinner reservation or two at your favourite Disney Resort or DTD restaurant, and spend some down time at DTD to get your Disney fix.

I know you don't want to hear this, but your children are probably going to enjoy the Universal parks waaaayyy more than WDW parks, and Shark Encounter alone is worth the admission to Sea World, IMHO.

Windsor Hills is a fantastic place to stay, great pool and hot tub and reasonable driving distance to all the attractions. The money you save staying offsite will more than pay for your rental car and parking costs.
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Old 12-27-2012, 07:34 PM   #6
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I'm a Disney fanatic. However . . . I agree with Faye - take a break from WDW and take your kids to Universal/Islands of Adventure. They are the perfect ages.
You can also get an Orlando Flex ticket. Enjoy unlimited admission for 14 consecutive days to:
Aquatica
Universal Studios
Islands of Adventure
SeaWorld Orlando
Wet 'n Wild Orlando
plus Universal CityWalk

I think you can also buy a flex ticket that includes those parks as well as Busch Gardens in Tampa. If you have a car, it's worth it to head over to Busch Gardens. We loved the roller coasters there!
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Old 12-27-2012, 07:54 PM   #7
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I know I will be in the court of unpopular opinion...........but I think that Orlando has so much more to offer than just Disney.

I am a SeaWorld girl. It, along with Discovery Cove, are where I would most rather be when in Florida. We have also done all four Disney parks and both Universal parks on past trips.

For SeaWorld......we love the shows. We love the animals. We love the exhibits. We love the rides. We love that there is something for each of us, regardless of age or gender or otherwise. We love the Quick Queue and never, ever having to wait in lines. We love the unlimited all day dining. We love the atmosphere.

Discovery Cove is a tropical paradise. Its relaxing and indulgent and beautiful and so much fun the day flies by soooo fast. Its everything a vacation should be...worry free, stress free, and so memorable. We have done it with and without a dolphin swim and each has been as good an experience as the other. Your kids would be the perfect ages to enjoy a day here.

Our family has also enjoyed Gatorland and an airboat ride. Both neat experiences that are very affordable and within an easy drive from the SeaWorld area.

SW offers packages at onsite hotels that are an incredible value when compared with Disney. We got a one bedroom suite for Christmas week (we are here now ) at the Residence Inn SeaWorld with:

unlimited admission to SeaWorld
unlimited admission to Aquatica
one day of all-day dining at SW
one day of all-day dining at Aquatica
free Quick Queue daily for SW (worth $24.99 pp per day)
and all taxes

for $1330. Disney couldn't even come close, even in a tiny room at value resort. We could have added on Busch Gardens for another $40 pp and SW would provide free transportation to and from Tampa.

I have never cruised, so I can't offer any suggestions there.......but I definitely recommend SW.
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Jan. 2009....onsite at POR: all 4 Disney Parks
Jan. 2012....offsite on I-Drive: Universal Studios, IOA, SeaWorld, & Discovery Cove
Aug. 2012...Westgate Lakes Resort & Spa: Aquatica, Discovery Cove, and more
Dec. 2012...onsite at SW! Christmas week at SeaWorld, Aquatica, Gatorland, airboats, & holiday fun
**Christmas 2012 Trip Report: http://www.disboards.com/showthread.php?t=3041415
Aug. 2013....Sheraton Vistana Resort: Blizzard Beach, Typhoon Lagoon, Cocoa Beach & more! **August 2013 Trip Report: http://www.disboards.com/showthread.php?t=3167818

Aug. 2014.....SVR, SW, DC, AQ, TL, Daytona & MORE! **August 2014 Trip Report: http://www.disboards.com/showthread.php?p=51863899



Last edited by Gina-Gina-Bo-Bina; 12-28-2012 at 07:58 AM.
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Old 12-28-2012, 07:17 AM   #8
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We have 4 kids and are here now in a 4 bedroom villa-our own private pool and hot tub.(approx $150/night all taxes and pool heat included) We are not going to any Disney Parks. So far have been to gatorland and did the ziplining there -loved it. All of our kids prefer Sea World to any Disney park -last year went to Sea World and Busch Gardens- have also been to Universal and Islands of Adventure. We are pretty happy to spend lots of time at the villa and love not having to share our hot tub and pool and for our kids the outside temp does not matter when the pool is heated they are in it. Today I think we are headed to Cocoa Beach and maybe the Brevard Zoo.
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Old 12-28-2012, 08:51 AM   #9
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One thing to remember about cruising is that the rooms are very small and if your son is ADHD and you want space that may be an issue for your family. I know my kids are 13 and 15 now and we can prefer the space of a condo over a hotel room, it was so much easier when they were little but now as older kids we all need our space. I know if we were do do a cruise right now, in order for our family to keep our sanity we would absolutley need two staterooms and I cant afford that. We have been looking at the option of spending a half Orlando/half Florida beach vacation to break it up a bit. I also was looking at Discovery Cove because it seems to be such a different type of experience than we usually have in Orlando. Enjoy what ever you choose!
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Old 12-28-2012, 09:01 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by minnie mum View Post
If you want to check out different possibilities for cruises, I'd recommend that you spend some time on cruisecritic.com. You can look at different itineraries, cruise lines, lengths of cruises etc.

There are lots of cruise lines besides Carnival and Disney and many of them are really upping the ante when it comes to kids activities aboard. Disney is still top of the list for families, both for kids and for cost.

And while many Disney fanatics may gasp in horror, it is still possible to spend quite awhile in central Florida without setting foot in WDW (if that's what you want to do). Tourism Orlando (and Florida) have great websites that will give you a ton of ideas.

Making decisions depends on SO many variables, that I doubt we can make the decision for you. What works for our family would probably NOT work for yours. And you don't mention the time of year- this is a big deal for cruising. Do you want to cruise the Caribbean during hurrican season?

If you kind of like the idea of cruising, but aren't sure if it's for you, then spend more time researching the possibilities. My suggestion would be to take a shorter 4 day cruise to see if it's "your thing" or not. Combine it with a few days in the Orlando area. Get a taste of both without a huge $$$ and time commitment either way.
We've cruised lots (18 times or so) and I would never cruise with disney. This is coming from someone who lives and breathes disney. Just too expensive for the product. My favourite cruise line is Celebrity. They have wonderful family cabins (600 sq ft on some ships), the food is wonderful, level of service great and terrific kids/teens programmes. I like that when we are on the ships we have a mix of people and there are not loads of kids. This makes the kids programmes better because they are not overloaded. Check out their website. I'm sure you will find an itinerary you love. It doesn't have to be a beach holiday; they sail everywhere.
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Old 12-28-2012, 02:08 PM   #11
minnie mum
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We've cruised lots (18 times or so) and I would never cruise with disney. This is coming from someone who lives and breathes disney. Just too expensive for the product. .
Completely agree with you- that's why I said they're at the top of the list for cost (as in: REALLY expensive). We haven't cruised as much as you, but I've gotta say that we did a 7 day cruise of the Eastern Caribbean on the Queen Mary for the same price as a 4 day cruise on the Disney Wonder. I'll take a cruise on one of the Queens any day. Disney- not again.
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Old 12-28-2012, 06:47 PM   #12
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Our family has only been to Florida once, so my answer will probably not help as I want to do, see and explore all now! My kids are 13 and 8 and my current vacation wish list is:

1) two weeks at Bonnet Creek (2 bdrm) with 8 days at Disney (including waterparks), 1 day to Clearwater (see Winter), 2 resort days, and 2 Universal Studio days

2) two weeks with a 14 day unlimited pass to SeaWorld, Aquatica and Busch Gardens. Along with a day at Discovery Cove. Gatorgolf, Gatorland, the Florida Mall (M&M's world), and I'm sure there's so much more I have not even scratched the surface of

3) Not to mention a day at the beach. I have never seen the ocean yet.

4) Yes, a cruise! I keep pricing them out and wincing as we also would want to do a lot of excursions. A Disney cruise I fear will never happen because of the cost.

Someone mentioned you have been to Disney once a year for 5 years. I then agree with those who suggest exploring the other theme parks and attractions available. The only reason I want to go back to Disney is because (even finding DIS in time) we just did not realize how many days we would need there!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Gina-Gina-Bo-Bina View Post
(we are here now )
Ohhh, I'm looking forward to another trip report!!!! Please tell me you will be posting another in-depth trip report? I loved your last one! I would love to see lots of photos and a review of Residence Inn SeaWorld as well. Hope you are having a blast!
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Old 12-28-2012, 08:03 PM   #13
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Ohhh, I'm looking forward to another trip report!!!! Please tell me you will be posting another in-depth trip report? I loved your last one! I would love to see lots of photos and a review of Residence Inn SeaWorld as well. Hope you are having a blast!
And I was going to suggest you find Gina's trip reports. She really shows us the other side of Orlando. And if you really decide that you need the Disney fix-waterparks and DTD are great for that.
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Old 12-29-2012, 07:00 AM   #14
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Originally Posted by Disney Addicted View Post
Ohhh, I'm looking forward to another trip report!!!! Please tell me you will be posting another in-depth trip report? I loved your last one! I would love to see lots of photos and a review of Residence Inn SeaWorld as well. Hope you are having a blast!
Yes ma'am . I plan to do another one once we are home, the bags are unpacked, the laundry is done, the tree is taken down, and the photos have all been uploaded to photobook. We arrive home on the 31st....so sad that our vacation is almost done!!!

Quote:
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And I was going to suggest you find Gina's trip reports. She really shows us the other side of Orlando.
Thank you, Debbie! You made my morning!
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Jan. 2009....onsite at POR: all 4 Disney Parks
Jan. 2012....offsite on I-Drive: Universal Studios, IOA, SeaWorld, & Discovery Cove
Aug. 2012...Westgate Lakes Resort & Spa: Aquatica, Discovery Cove, and more
Dec. 2012...onsite at SW! Christmas week at SeaWorld, Aquatica, Gatorland, airboats, & holiday fun
**Christmas 2012 Trip Report: http://www.disboards.com/showthread.php?t=3041415
Aug. 2013....Sheraton Vistana Resort: Blizzard Beach, Typhoon Lagoon, Cocoa Beach & more! **August 2013 Trip Report: http://www.disboards.com/showthread.php?t=3167818

Aug. 2014.....SVR, SW, DC, AQ, TL, Daytona & MORE! **August 2014 Trip Report: http://www.disboards.com/showthread.php?p=51863899


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Old 12-29-2012, 07:25 AM   #15
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Ok, I'm going to think way outside the box. My family of 4 has been to Orlando every year for the past 6 or 7 years. We have graduated from hotel rooms to villas and rental homes as I hate being crammed in one room for a week. Like Gina, we have some Disney years, but then we've had a Universal year and a Sea World year. We always include at least 1 character meal at a Disney resort, a few trips to Disney Marketplace, and an evening at Boardwalk to shop, have ice cream, rent bikes, watch EPCOT fireworks........all amazing family favourites.

But have you looked at all inclusives? We did Beaches a few years ago (whole family for a week was 6k) at Turks and Caicos. It's always around that price for Florida but this was a magical vacation. Even the rainy days were amazing. No traveling,no rushing, no lineups.........it was so relaxing. You fly out of Montreal so there may be some great deals out there for family accommodations.

That said, we are booked for Orlando again - Marriott Grande Vista (gorgeous resort). You can get some amazing deals with Floridays or Sheraton on a "discover and stay" package (listen to a 90 minute timeshare) - a few years ago we did this and got 5 nights in a 2 bedroom with 2 Disney passes, 2 waterpark passes, 2 meals at Universal and 2 movie tickets for.........are you ready for this.......$569.00!!!!!!!! Hey, I can listen to 90 minutes of whatever for that deal!

I will also note that while I have cruised many times, I am hesitant to take the kids I case they get sea sick and there something about the safety of ships that worries me........don't know why. Plus GMA just said this morning that there are a number of ships in quarantine right now due to flu bugs.........breakouts on the ship. Grosse!

Good luck with your planning.

Gina, hope you are having fun! Can't wait to hear all about it!
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