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Old 06-03-2009, 02:26 PM   #46
mrsklamc
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Originally Posted by kcsmom76 View Post
Thank you all for the wonderful advice and encouragement about driving down.

I am not worried about the amount of time it takes as I am about how my car will handle it, and with 13 year old long legs it could be pretty trying for him. I think I need to do more research on getting a rental van with unlimited miles on it. That way ds will have a row of seating and dd will too. That way, hopefully they won't fight too much.

I also have another question. It is probably a stupid question, but I really don't know the answer. If we stay on site, we would have transportation to the Disney Parks, but what about the other parks like Islands of Adventure, Universal, Wet-N-Wild, Aquatica, and Sea World? Do they provide transportation to these parks also??
They do not. Their goal is to keep you on property as much as possible.
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Old 06-03-2009, 02:55 PM   #47
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Originally Posted by mrsklamc View Post
They do not. Their goal is to keep you on property as much as possible.
Very true!

If you're looking for an "Orlando" vacation and not specifically a "Disney" vacation, it's far more economical to stay off property... you will need a car, however.
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Old 06-03-2009, 03:24 PM   #48
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Also, keep in mind that the more "other" you do, the more your costs will go up. Disney optimizes you after four days - additional days become really cheap. Universal is another ticket - with a similar price structure - expensive for the first day or two, then cheap. And SeaWorld is a third ticket. A lot of budgeters go down and only do one companies parks (this being a Disney board, its usually Disney around here) to keep ticket costs down.
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Old 06-03-2009, 03:46 PM   #49
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I think you can take an Orlando bus from the TTC to Universal, but it takes a long time (seems like I read 1-1 1/2 hours) and might involve a transfer or two. As PPs have said, Disney wants you to stay on property and makes it worth your while to do so - tickets for 7 days are only a few dollars more than tickets for five.

If you'd like to see the "other" side of Orlando, you can rent a car for a day or two with pickup on Disney property (can't remember if it is at the Swan/Dolphin or somewhere else, but the folks on the transportation board will know.)

We were at Disney in May and rented a car from Sanford airport for $68 total from Friday to Monday (upgraded to a minivan). If you decide to fly Allegiant from GSP, you will fly into Sanford, not MCO, and you will need to rent a car. Disney doesn't offer transportation from Sanford, but the savings might be worth it. GSP is a nice small airport compared to CLT (except for no cool rocking chairs and piano player in the terminal ).

Be aware if you fly Allegiant that you will pay for seat selection, all checked bags, priority boarding (optional, but they really try to convince you. You could pay priority boarding for just your DH and let him take the carryons onto the plane, but there was plenty of overhead space on our flight from ILM). You will also pay a convenience fee on Allegiant unless you purchase your tickets at the airport (learned that one the hard way ) - the convenience fee was about $40 total for the three tickets we bought from ILM to Sanford. Since you would be driving from CLT to catch a flight at GSP, you should budget for the convenience fee unless you want to make another drive to Greenville/Spartanburg just to buy the tickets. Honestly, though, since it is an hour and a half to Greenville and you have to be there an hour or so early, it might not be worth the savings to you over the Charlotte price, once you factor in the time difference.

Since this is your DD's first trip to the world, I'd plan at least five or six days at Disney. You still won't do everything. Universal Studios/Islands of Adventure adds two days. Seaworld adds another. Unless you are willing to extend your trip, you're probably better off planning another trip in the future to do Universal and Sea World.
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Old 06-04-2009, 09:58 PM   #50
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It may just sound like symantics but I promise you it is not. You have gotten good advice here and the difference between "going to Disney World" and "going to Orlando and visiting Disney World for a few days" is HUGE .

I know this as I have done both multiple times in the past 25 years of "doing Florida"

So your first decision should be what will fill your days?

Again, about the car thing, we travel with 2 teens (long legs) and 2 ginormous carseat-ed kiddos (those seats take up more room then a very tall, heavy person, I promise you We travel roughly 1000 miles each way in older vehicles. If you are only traveling 8 hours I would sooo save your money for much "fun-er" things. 8 hours is really a cake walk. Shot, you can have it half done almost before sun-up and be pulling into WDW by lunchtime if you start at 5am! And if you do fly and want to go the offsite route, for goodness sakes, rent a smaller car for usually less then half the price of a mini van! JMO and not meant to offend any one at all, we all have our own way of "doing things". I guess I have been sentenced to my minivan for so many years of parenting, I love getting a smaller car when we can and marveling at the gas savings and how quickly they cool off, etc! Car trunks always amaze me, I always go away thinking , wow, I want one of those
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Old 06-05-2009, 12:01 AM   #51
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Since you ask, 'what is the average cost', I will tell you that we have taken 4 trips in the last 10 yrs, 5 people, and all have been less than $4,000.

Latest trip starts next week. Here's a breakdown of our costs.

Flights: Southwest, $800 for 5 from Dallas. This started out higher, but the neat thing about SWA is that they'll credit you the difference if/when they lower their fares. At first I found $99 each way, then $84, and finally $59.

Hotels: Using hotels.com, we got the All Star Music family suites for $160/night, which is about half price. Got Port Orleans Riverside for $135/night with the current 35% promotion. Used Mousesavers to get Springhill Suites for $99/night. 8 nights, 3 hotels for $1140. And a continental breakfast is included at Springhill Suites.

Tickets: This was cheaper for us cuz we had leftovers from last trip. We bought 10day no-expiration park hoppers for 3 of us, so I had to buy 2 more 10 day tickets from Universal Tourist. $600

Food: I am budgeting $125/day for the 7 days there; another $50 while at airports. Total: $925 Note - we don't buy the DDP - with 3 small eaters all over the age of 10, we can't afford to shell out $200/day for food to go uneaten.

Rental Car: Using Dollar and the KISS code, we got a car for $27/day for the last 3 days. Taxes and fees included, $127 Our car at the airport in Dallas, $80 parking.

1 day water park tickets - 5 x $45 = $225

Total is $3897, which leaves us another $100 for whatever.

You should be able to do it for well under $4k as you have several factors in your favor. Only one of your kids counts as an adult (for tickets), you are going in value season, and you can drive. It CAN be done!

Good luck in your planning,

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Old 06-05-2009, 08:21 AM   #52
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I had been to WDW before, but this past February was the first trip for my dd8 and my ds17. We flew because the drive for us would be about 22-24 hours, and that just wasn't feasible. Here's a breakdown of our costs:

$750 for a 4 bedroom, 3 bath villa 10 minutes from the parks; the price included taxes and pool heat. We had our own pool, jaccuzzi, game room, kitchen, etc. I didn't do any cooking, but we had cereal, toast, etc. in the mornings before leaving for the parks. It was great having space to spread out at the end of the day, and for some downtime from all of the hustle and bustle. I like kids, but frankly I think I would have been frazzled at the end of the week if I were around families with small kids at my hotel after being in some crowds with them all day. I also liked having a washer and dryer available; it allowed us to pack a lot lighter, and to only take carry-ons instead of checking luggage (and paying for that)

$380 for a mini van rental. Dollar had a rental special of a minivan for $299 for the week, plus taxes and fees

$529 for direct flights on AirTran ($69 each way, plus taxes and fees)

$60 for airport shuttle from our house to the airport, and from the airport to home when we returned

$650 for WDW tickets

$72 parking at WDW (12/day x 6 days)

$160 for Hoop De Doo dinner show

$70 for Princess Breakfast at Askerhaus

$50 for gas for van

$75 at Publix for water, soda, milk, cereal, bread, peanut butter, snacks, "adult beverages"

Total before souvies and food (other than Hoop and the princess breakfast):
$2,800

I budgeted $150/day for food, and we didn't spend nearly that much. We're not a big table service kind of family, and we wanted to spend our time at the parks enjoying the rides and attractions, grabbing counter service stuff and snacks along the way. One night we ordered pizza delivery to our villa, one night we went to Bob Evans for a late dinner after leaving the park...you get the idea. I took along $1,500 in cash, and came home with about $800, so my cost for our trip was about $3,500. Your cost would obviously be higher, needing another adult ticket for WDW and airfare for an additional person, but I think $4,000 is a fair estimate if you fly.

My kids had their own money for souveniers. They received Disney gift cards from their grandparents for Christmas, and both of them took along some of their allowance money. My dd bought a balloon for about $15 and a WDW hoodie for abour $30. My ds bought a WDW hoodie for about $50. Before we left, I picked up a disney princess photo album, glow necklaces, disney coloring books, etc. at the dollar store and took them along.

If it were me, I'd get my car tuned up, get each of my kids a portable dvd player and an MP3 and plan on driving. Or, as a pp said, maybe it's time to consider buying a different vehicle if one is on its last legs anyway, and drive that to WDW. I'd also skip doing Universal, SeaWorld, etc. this trip. Doing other parks adds a LOT of $$$ to the overall cost, and you will have so much to do and see at WDW that you won't miss the other attractions.

As a side note, my ds was not at all excited about our trip during the planning stages. Think about the way Disney markets itself; towards little kids, with images of magic and fairies. I was afraid he'd be rolling his eyes and have an attitude the whole time we were there. When we got to Orlando, we went to Downtown Disney first, and had a nice lunch at Wolfgang Puck Express. We talked around for awhile, and really enjoyed the surroundings. Then we headed to MK. We got there just as the 3pm parade was starting. We watched that, and then went to Tomorrowland. We saw Monsters Inc. Laugh Floor, then did the Buzz Lightyear spin ride, and that was all it took; from that point on, my ds was TOTALLY into our trip!! He'd take the guidebook each evening at our villa, and plan what he would like to do the following day, depending on which park we were headed to. He had just as much fun as his 8 year old sister!!

I highly recommend you buy a copy of the Unofficial GuideBook, even though the one available in bookstores is for 2009. There's so much info it's mind boggling, but has great ideas, tips and suggestions. I found the villa we rented through one of their recommended websites; the link is

http://www.lastminutevillas.com

I simply typed in the criteria for what we were looking for, and got tons of emails from owners with really nice places available for rent.

Keep asking questions and cruising the boards here; people are quite helpful and have some wonderful suggestions and ideas. Have fun planning!!
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