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Old 01-20-2015, 04:32 PM   #1
dznyfam3
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Staying Offsite and Overwhelming Questions

My family and I live on the west coast in WA and haven't visited WDW since 2005. We usually just head to DL every year or so as that park is home for us. But we want to try a trip to WDW next year. I'm extremely overwhelmed by all the planning I see goes into dining and Fastpass+ in WDW. At DL I book a few dining locations 60 days out and our days are not planned out except for what park we start at each day and first ride of the day. I've been planning our trip to WDW for April 2016 for awhile and I know what dining reservations I'll be selecting however we will be staying offsite. It will be my family: DH, DS7, myself and my parents.

My main question is what can I expect as to the ease of getting the fastpasses I want at 30 days out since we will be staying offsite? Is there really an unfair advantage for those staying offsite compared with those staying onsite? Does this disadvantage for offsite guests mean my planning will be much more stressful?

Another area of concern is transportation. The resort we will be staying at offsite offers a daily shuttle to Epcot at 8:00 in the morning for dates in April. How will this affect us when most parks open at 9:00? When we travel to DL I get to the gates 45 minutes before park opening. However from what I've read and from what we experienced even back in 2005 in WDW it can take quite awhile to not only wait for your bus to each park but travel between the parks. I'm planning character breakfasts at WDW resorts on our non-park days to make it easier but I like to be early for rope drop at park opening. How reasonable is this when staying offsite? and how would this differ if I considered an onsite hotel instead?

One last question, for special dining such as Tomorrowland Dessert Fireworks Party, is that something which can be booked 180 days out or no?

Looking for some much needed trip planning help!!


Thanks!!
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Old 01-20-2015, 05:00 PM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dznyfam3 View Post
My family and I live on the west coast in WA and haven't visited WDW since 2005. We usually just head to DL every year or so as that park is home for us. But we want to try a trip to WDW next year. I'm extremely overwhelmed by all the planning I see goes into dining and Fastpass+ in WDW. At DL I book a few dining locations 60 days out and our days are not planned out except for what park we start at each day and first ride of the day. I've been planning our trip to WDW for April 2016 for awhile and I know what dining reservations I'll be selecting however we will be staying offsite. It will be my family: DH, DS7, myself and my parents.
We visited DL over the summer and I was surprised by how EASY everything is!! I LOVED the old FP, I was able to get great dining reservations at the last minute… it was a breathe of fresh air!! We had such a great experience!!! With that said, WDW is totally different as far as experience goes (for us at least)

Quote:
My main question is what can I expect as to the ease of getting the fastpasses I want at 30 days out since we will be staying offsite? Is there really an unfair advantage for those staying offsite compared with those staying onsite? Does this disadvantage for offsite guests mean my planning will be much more stressful?
I don't think it will mean your planning will be more stressful, I think it means you may just not get all the times you want.

Quote:
Another area of concern is transportation. The resort we will be staying at offsite offers a daily shuttle to Epcot at 8:00 in the morning for dates in April. How will this affect us when most parks open at 9:00? When we travel to DL I get to the gates 45 minutes before park opening. However from what I've read and from what we experienced even back in 2005 in WDW it can take quite awhile to not only wait for your bus to each park but travel between the parks. I'm planning character breakfasts at WDW resorts on our non-park days to make it easier but I like to be early for rope drop at park opening. How reasonable is this when staying offsite? and how would this differ if I considered an onsite hotel instead?
I always find relying on offsite transportation a little iffy (personal experience). Whenever we stay offsite we always rent a car. That way, we can get to the park when we want and leave when we want. The benefit to Disney transportation is they always have buses and such running, a lot of offsite hotels have VERY specific times.

Quote:
One last question, for special dining such as Tomorrowland Dessert Fireworks Party, is that something which can be booked 180 days out or no?
Haven't done this so I can't really offer any help here. Sorry! My best advice is to try and relax... don't stress if you can't get specific FP times (even when staying onsite I don't always get what I want either). I also think it would be a lot less stressful if you don't rely on offsite transportation and instead rent a car, but I definitely understand the savings in not doing so. WDW, as I'm sure you remember is a lot bigger (more spread out) than DL. However, DL has more rides than MK, so you may find you will get everything done you need to, even if you have to wait on lines.
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Old 01-20-2015, 05:20 PM   #3
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I think you'll be fine getting FP's at 30 days. You may not get the parade or Anna/Elsa at 30 days but you should be fine with any others - lots of places to watch the parade and you could always wait in line for Anna/Elsa.

I would rent a car rather than rely on off site hotel transportation. Alot of times, those fill up and you can't get to the parks when you want and they have strange hours in the evening, sometimes the last pick up is before the parks fireworks so you would miss those.

Also getting an 8am bus to Epcot means you would have to get on the monorail to get to MK - that involves a switch at the TTC so it's doubtful you would make a 9am park opening there.
You might make a 9am park open at DHS since that park is close to Epcot. To get to AK, you would need to deal with catching a bus there so you would probably make it to AK by 9:15a or 9:30a depending on wait times for the bus.

If you stayed onsite, it would be easier - you could use DME to the resort, use Disney transport to the parks - getting to character breakfasts at resorts could be a tiny bit trickier but it's all doable and you wouldn't need a rental car if you wanted to save the money.

I don't know about the Dessert Party - I always thought the view from there wasn't that great so I didn't research much.

Have a great time!
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Last edited by GaSleepingBeautyFan; 01-20-2015 at 05:45 PM. Reason: added a paragraph break
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Old 01-20-2015, 05:34 PM   #4
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I agree that renting a car is best if you want to make rope drop.

A lot of off-site visitors use tips from this thread for MagicBands, FPs, and parking: http://www.disboards.com/showthread.php?t=3218652
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Old 01-20-2015, 06:03 PM   #5
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I'm open to the idea of renting a car. In fact if we do continue with the plans to stay offsite I think I will definitely rent a car. Now as far as parking goes, if I park hop do I pay for parking at both parks or just once for that day?
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Old 01-20-2015, 06:12 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dznyfam3 View Post
I'm open to the idea of renting a car. In fact if we do continue with the plans to stay offsite I think I will definitely rent a car. Now as far as parking goes, if I park hop do I pay for parking at both parks or just once for that day?
Once for the day, keep your parking pass from the first one.

You will find some answers to your FP availability questions, among many others, in the thread linked to in my signature.
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Old 01-20-2015, 07:04 PM   #7
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We're going during Spring Break and staying offsite so your questions are mine too. Luckily we are skipping Epcot and DHS this year. Those look like the hardest to schedule with the tiering. MK at least has a lot of choices and AK doesn't seem to be as popular.

The big headache will be staying up so late for each park day at the 30 minute mark. Plus hoping that the website works properly.
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Old 01-21-2015, 01:26 PM   #8
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Is there anyone who can maybe share their offsite trip planning experience and how successful they were at getting everything they had planned for?

Thanks!
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Old 01-22-2015, 09:21 AM   #9
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We just got back from a 5 night offsite stay! We got our tickets at the gate when we arrived and used no fast passes. We rode everything we wanted to ride except space mountain and the mine train. We had a wonderful time. Our kids loved every minute of it. The wait times were pretty long compared to our january trip two years ago, but we just kept a positive attitude and went with it! Great trip!!
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Old 01-22-2015, 09:47 AM   #10
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We always stay offsite!

Quote:
Originally Posted by dznyfam3 View Post
My main question is what can I expect as to the ease of getting the fastpasses I want at 30 days out since we will be staying offsite?
You should be able to get most things, with the exception of 7DMT and Anna and Elsa.

Quote:
Is there really an unfair advantage for those staying offsite compared with those staying onsite?
There can be when a ride is extremely popular, like the two I mention above or Toy Story or a few others.

Last year, when FP+ was available for onsite and not for offsite at all, just saying the words FP+ sent me into a rage. I understand why Disney was doing it, but I paid exactly the same price for my park tickets as the people who were onsite did and I felt like a second class citizen. Now that everyone has access to FP+ it seems much more "even", with the only advantage like I said being for the super popular things.

Quote:
Does this disadvantage for offsite guests mean my planning will be much more stressful?
Well, you'll probably stress more about it in the lead up to booking the FPs (I totally did) but the reality is that you'll likely end up with a pretty good selection. And if there's anything you want and don't end up getting, if you stalk MDE for cancelations (or the cancellation threads here) you have pretty good odds of getting something.

Quote:
Another area of concern is transportation. The resort we will be staying at offsite offers a daily shuttle to Epcot at 8:00 in the morning for dates in April. How will this affect us when most parks open at 9:00? When we travel to DL I get to the gates 45 minutes before park opening. However from what I've read and from what we experienced even back in 2005 in WDW it can take quite awhile to not only wait for your bus to each park but travel between the parks. I'm planning character breakfasts at WDW resorts on our non-park days to make it easier but I like to be early for rope drop at park opening. How reasonable is this when staying offsite? and how would this differ if I considered an onsite hotel instead?
If you're staying offsite, get a car. We stayed at the Wyndham and we always do have a vehicle - their shuttle service was just not useful.
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Old 01-22-2015, 09:50 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by dznyfam3 View Post
Is there anyone who can maybe share their offsite trip planning experience and how successful they were at getting everything they had planned for?

Thanks!
We stayed for a week and had 5 park days. When I started booking my FPs I had some ADRs already booked, but the only one I couldn't cancel was CRT. Everything else I could move around. So I had first intended to do HS on the Monday, but when I went to get FPs for that day Toy Story was already long gone. So I checked FPs for MK and got some really good ones, so I ended up switching that to a MK day. Later in the week, I checked HS and got a great Toy Story time and a Frozen show to boot.

The only thing I couldn't get on first pass was A&E. However, thanks to this board I discovered when Disney dumped a bunch of availability in to the system and was able to secure FPs. So basically there was nothing I wanted that I didn't get.
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Old 01-22-2015, 10:06 AM   #12
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I share the thought of previous responses in that renting a car is wise if you stay off site.

There are several benefits to staying onsite including earlier choice of fastpasses and ease of transportation. I don't I think the advantage is unfair but it is definitely an advantage of staying onsite and, in my opinion, worth the cost.

Though we recently moved to the east coast (in Sept), we lived in the Seattle area for 10 years and traveled several times to Disney World. We always stayed onsite because, in my opinion, if I am going to travel that far, I'd rather put the extra money into the vacation and make it as easy as possible. As you know, you'll spend basically 2 days traveling there and back. Those are long days. Arriving onsite at Disney meant I could totally relax and not worry about any more logistics. I guess it's all in what you value from a vacation. For our family, staying onsite has always been worth the extra money. It makes our vacations easier.
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Old 01-22-2015, 10:24 AM   #13
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So I have had signatures turned off for the better part of a decade.

To keep you from having to dig around and find it, the "thread in the signature" mentioned above (I hope) is:
http://www.disboards.com/showthread.php?t=3326057


To the OP, even when I stay onsite I rent a car. There have been exceptions but every time I skip renting I miss having a car! Only going to MK is a bus more convenient. And frequently leaving MK at night I find I prefer my car.
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Old 01-22-2015, 10:38 AM   #14
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Originally Posted by Candleshoe View Post
So I have had signatures turned off for the better part of a decade.

To keep you from having to dig around and find it, the "thread in the signature" mentioned above (I hope) is:
http://www.disboards.com/showthread.php?t=3326057


To the OP, even when I stay onsite I rent a car. There have been exceptions but every time I skip renting I miss having a car! Only going to MK is a bus more convenient. And frequently leaving MK at night I find I prefer my car.
That's the one.

The signature option is the easiest way for me to refer others to it, since it is not a sticky. That seems to work for the vast majority, but occasionally posters mention they don't see signatures and in those cases I provide it.
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Old 01-22-2015, 11:44 AM   #15
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We stayed off site once, but it was WAY before FP+. We had a great trip, but I would not do it again. The resort transportation was not good at all. Very limited. We did have a car, but I just don't like driving on roads I am not familiar with. To me Disney transportation is so much more relaxing. But I do know MANY MANY people stay onsite and hate Disney transportation, so it is all in what you are looking for.

As for FP+, I would say definite disadvantage when you are staying off site. I have tickets connected to my MDE and have been playing with the 30 day availability just for fun. I haven't seen 7DMT or A&E ever available, but I don't check frequently, because it isn't even close to my window and I will have a 60 day one anyway. Most other attractions have had some availability, but not always great times. You can adjust them once you get them all booked though based on availability of course.

Good luck whatever you decide. I think you can definitely have a great trip staying off site, but I know I would be a bit stressed over the 30 day window.
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