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Old 04-24-2013, 02:01 PM   #1
cre8ivjay
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Hotels with benefits?

Hi all!

First off, I apologize as my questions has as much to do with Sea World and IOA as it does Disney.

My family (4 of us, with daughters aged 7 and 9) will be staying in the Orlando area July 2014 for roughly 3 days before a Disney cruise.

We have been through many of the parks before - 2011 - but may want to revisit some (MK, IOA, SeaWorld - we haven't been to SW before).

The previous trip had us at the Coronado Springs and we really liked that that allowed us to bypass parking fees at all Disney Parks. We didn't use the extra hours, but might do this time around.

I guess my big question(s) here are:

1. )Given that each (MK, IOA, SW) are completely different resorts and that we're only going to be in the area for 3 days, what hotel(s) would you choose to maximize hotel affiliated theme park benefits?

2.) Are the prices you would pay for these resorts worth the perks?

3.) What perks would you say are most important? What hotels offer those?

My personal take is this, given that we will be there in July (early July 2014), the crowds and the heat will be oppressive. In an effort to combat this, paying an extra $50,$60, even $100/night for hotels that offer front of line (or equivalent) passes would be SUPER handy. Early opening hours and closings might also be nice.

What do you think? I don't need the Ritz Carlton. In fact value or moderate accommodation is fine for me (unless it's a 5 star that the kids would LOVE). But some of the perks seem to be really compelling.

Finally, as you probably can tell, I really don't have too much of a problem jumping from hotel to hotel over the course of the 3 or 4 days if it means I don't need to stand in super long ride lines with kids.

Anyways, thoughts? Specific hotel names would be super helpful and of course, if you have personal experience here that would be even better!

Thanks!

Jay
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Old 04-24-2013, 02:44 PM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cre8ivjay View Post
Hi all!

First off, I apologize as my questions has as much to do with Sea World and IOA as it does Disney.

My family (4 of us, with daughters aged 7 and 9) will be staying in the Orlando area July 2014 for roughly 3 days before a Disney cruise.

We have been through many of the parks before - 2011 - but may want to revisit some (MK, IOA, SeaWorld - we haven't been to SW before).

The previous trip had us at the Coronado Springs and we really liked that that allowed us to bypass parking fees at all Disney Parks. We didn't use the extra hours, but might do this time around.

I guess my big question(s) here are:

1. )Given that each (MK, IOA, SW) are completely different resorts and that we're only going to be in the area for 3 days, what hotel(s) would you choose to maximize hotel affiliated theme park benefits?

2.) Are the prices you would pay for these resorts worth the perks?

3.) What perks would you say are most important? What hotels offer those?

My personal take is this, given that we will be there in July (early July 2014), the crowds and the heat will be oppressive. In an effort to combat this, paying an extra $50,$60, even $100/night for hotels that offer front of line (or equivalent) passes would be SUPER handy. Early opening hours and closings might also be nice.

What do you think? I don't need the Ritz Carlton. In fact value or moderate accommodation is fine for me (unless it's a 5 star that the kids would LOVE). But some of the perks seem to be really compelling.

Finally, as you probably can tell, I really don't have too much of a problem jumping from hotel to hotel over the course of the 3 or 4 days if it means I don't need to stand in super long ride lines with kids.

Anyways, thoughts? Specific hotel names would be super helpful and of course, if you have personal experience here that would be even better!

Thanks!

Jay
If I were planning the same trip, I would stay at one of the Universal hotels, but it depends on your budget. The current Universal hotels offer both early entry into IOA and unlimited express line access (except for HP and the Forbidden Journey and Pteranadon Flyers at IOA and Rip Ride Rockit at US). Disney does not offer a perk as nice as Universal for onsite guests. If you stay three nights, you would qualify for the Stay More, Save More discount. Universal also has good AAA rates.

Universal is opening a new value/moderate family suite hotel called Cabana Bay in the spring of 2014. It will offer early entry, but not express access. The current hotels, Portofino Bay, Hard Rock and Royal Pacific, are all deluxe 4 diamond properties, but they cost less than the Disney deluxes. We have stayed at all three, and we prefer them in this order - Portofino (favorite hotel in Orlando), Royal Pacific, then Hard Rock a distant third.

If I were planning the trip, I would schedule MK on a day when early entry is not offered, so you are not at a disadvantage compared to onsite guests. I would also plan a character breakfast at Crystal Palace before the park opens (usually 8:05 in the summer on a day MK opens at 9) so you can enter the park early (rides won't be open, but you can eat breakfast and be ready for rope drop). If you schedule MK this way, you are not penalized by not staying onsite.

Universal used to offer free transportation to Sea World, but I don't know if they still do. We did Sea World in July a few years ago. Just so you know, almost everything is outside at Sea World, so be prepared to go early.
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Old 04-24-2013, 03:00 PM   #3
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1. )Given that each (MK, IOA, SW) are completely different resorts and that we're only going to be in the area for 3 days, what hotel(s) would you choose to maximize hotel affiliated theme park benefits?

The onsite Universal hotels offer really really good benefits (the ones that exist now...the future Cabana Bay, as the previous poster mentioned, won't have all the benefits). Far better IMO than the Disney hotels. If I had a 3 day trip with 3 themeparks planned, I would stay onsite at Universal and commute to Disney.

Now, since it seems you will have a car, know that you will be paying to park at the hotel. Something to add to the budget. But the unlimited express pass and the early entry are far better than access to EMH at WDW, in my opinion. And the hotels are nice, too.
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Old 04-24-2013, 03:24 PM   #4
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I don't have much to offer as this is my first "real" trip that I've planned all by my grown-up self, but we're going to Orlando in June of this year and I think the Sea World packages are pretty nice.

We booked 8 days at the Residence Inn Sea World (Studio Suite), with unlimited Sea World and Aquatica visits as well as 2 days All-you-Can Eat (one day at each park) for just under $1100. When I booked the Sea World Partner hotels offered unlimited Quick Queue passes but I read on here the other day that this perk has been downgraded to where you only get front-of-line once for each ride instead of unlimited front-of-line privileges. Either way, I couldn't find a package with as many benefits for the price anywhere else. Add to that the fact that we can shuttle over to Sea World/Aquatica and skip having to pay for parking and it really turned out to be a good package deal. Not sure if the package will still be available for your trip.

I think you could easily spend 2-3 days at Sea World and Aquatica, especially if you've never been there before....and it would save you the hassle of having to hotel-hop. Unless you want to hit Disney and/or Universal as well.
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Old 04-24-2013, 03:26 PM   #5
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I have a friend who is doing a split stay at Disney World and Universal. They are doing 7 at Disney and 3 at Universal. They felt the cost of the tickets and the summer discount gave them the best bang for their buck; so they opted for the shorter stay at Universal.
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Old 04-24-2013, 03:33 PM   #6
cre8ivjay
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Thanks everyone!

Few questions...

- Would you entertain the idea of jumping over to a Sea World Resort to get the queue jumping pass there for one day? What's Seaworld like in July? I'm guessing busy.

- I pay for parking at the Universal resorts if I'm a guest?

- Which of the Universal hotels are most kid friendly?

Thanks!

Jay

PS: I love the idea of the early morning Crystal Palace idea. We did that for dinner in 2011. The kids loved it!
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Old 04-24-2013, 03:49 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cre8ivjay View Post
Thanks everyone!

Few questions...

- Would you entertain the idea of jumping over to a Sea World Resort to get the queue jumping pass there for one day? What's Seaworld like in July? I'm guessing busy.

- I pay for parking at the Universal resorts if I'm a guest?

- Which of the Universal hotels are most kid friendly?

Thanks!

Jay

PS: I love the idea of the early morning Crystal Palace idea. We did that for dinner in 2011. The kids loved it!
Sea World is busy in July, and it was about 100 degrees when we went. Will your kids ride the coasters, or would you mainly do the shows? That would probably determine whether or not Quick Queue is worth it for you. I would run the numbers both ways - I think you would lose the Stay More Save More discount at Universal if you stay less than three nights, but you could still use a AAA discount if you have AAA.

Universal hotels charge a parking fee - strange but true. They provide water taxis to IOA and Universal Studios, or you can walk, so you don't have to deal with the Universal parking lots. I think it is $18 per night to park at the resorts, added to your room charge.

All of the Universal Hotels are kid friendly. The Portofino is a bit more serene, but there are plenty of kids and they have games by the pool. Portofino is the farthest from IOA - it is about a 10 minute boat ride or a 15-20 minute walk. The Royal Pacific has a huge pool but no slide. It is the closest to IOA - less than a ten minute walk. We found the Hard Rock to be sterile and uninteresting - even my 13 year old daughter was not impressed, and she is the target audience. My girls are 13 and 10 and prefer Portofino.

Universal does allow pool hopping at this point in time - I don't know if that will change when Cabana Bay opens.
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Old 04-24-2013, 04:16 PM   #8
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I would stay at Universal.Yes, universal does charge a parking fee but so does Disney ( they just build it into the resort rates and everyone gets charged for it whether you use it or not).All 3 Universal resorts are kid friendly.All are within walking distance or a short dedicated boat launch to the parks.You get early entry to IOA ( and this summer possibly to the studios too with the opening of Transformers).You also get the express pass perk.It is good on all rides and shows EXCEPT- Pteranodon flyers, Harry Potter Forbideen journey and Ollivanders wandshow.It is now also good for Rip ride rocket ( this is a recent change).
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Old 04-24-2013, 04:30 PM   #9
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It is now also good for Rip ride rocket ( this is a recent change).
Good to know - thanks! Looking forward to express for our next visit.
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Old 04-24-2013, 05:07 PM   #10
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- I pay for parking at the Universal resorts if I'm a guest?
Yes. If you weren't a guest you would be parking at the citywalk lot, FWIW. As a hotel guest you leave your car at the hotel lot and walk/surrey-bike/boat over to the resort.

They charge at midnight, so let's stay you check in on Monday and leave on Thursday. You would pay midnight as Monday goes to Tuesday, Tuesday to Wednesday, and Wednesday to Thursday. As long as you are fully out of the lot before the midnight as Thursday turns to Friday, that's 3 charges. And you could have parked in that lot since 7am on Monday up to midnight on Thursday. It's not a "per day" charge, is what I"m trying to say.

If you stay at Disney, you won't pay to park there but you will at Universal and SeaWorld's park parking lots. If you stay at Universal you'll pay for the hotel parking plus parking at disney (and I don't know how you would get to seaworld so I don't KNOW what your situation would be).

I don't know about seaworld's partner hotel parking situation.

There's going to be a parking charge somewhere, though! Disney rolls in their charges for everyone; others only charge people who are parking there


You would want to see if a room-only, or one-day booking at a Seaworld resort would get you what you need. The previous poster did mention a package in the post, so it's possible a very short stay might not get any benefits. You will have to figure out IF that's needed and IF you can get it.
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Old 04-24-2013, 07:41 PM   #11
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The renaissance across from Sea World offers the express pass to the front of the line for selected attractions. I've gotten it for free twice. The only ride we use it for is Wild Arctic. We are not thrill ride people. So I would check and see which rides it offers front of the line for before you choose to do that park. I'm not sure what the parking fee is because they offer free valet parking for hybrid cars. It’s a nice hotel with a fun pool area for kids and walking to sea world is easy. HOT but easy.At Universal there are front of the line passes but again, my family doesn't ride thrill rides so it isn't necessary or worth it to pay for. If you are a guest at Universal hotels you will still have to pay for parking in their lot.


I think you need to pick what you want to do and stop thinking of moving around so much. It is going to be massively hot in July and you will not be up for as much as you think. Once you have a short wish list for 3 days of vacation you can make a better plan.


What is the most important thing to do? Check with the kids and see.

Last edited by Ali; 04-24-2013 at 07:43 PM. Reason: massive spelling errors... sheeesh
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