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Old 11-19-2012, 04:46 AM   #301
alicia1506
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Originally Posted by WanderlustNZ View Post
I asked on the Universal forum about hotel specials and was told there very well could be some for September stays that are even better than the ones being offered now. Apparently if you book online directly with Loews, it's quite easy to cancel and rebook if something cheaper comes up.
I was also told that having an AP for Universal might entitle you to an even cheaper hotel rate, but no guarantees.

Alicia, your plan of combining a Disney cruise bus with a Universal shuttle is one I have considered despite the added travel times and cost. I've seen the cute little video (on You Tube) that the Disney bus shows it's passengers on the way to the Port. It would be really cool for my son to see that and find out that Mickey and friends have also packed to come on this cruise with us. :-)
However, I've also heard that with a town car I can get to the Port much quicker (and cheaper) and can check in earlier than the passengers arriving by Disney bus. I'm quite keen to go to open-house at the kids club and film my son in there before too many other passengers arrive. Will have to do some investigating into the company Karen just found to see if they're reliable. My biggest fear is not getting picked up at all and having to splash out on a taxi the whole way.

I have to be honest, this whole trip is starting to do my head in. I love planning usually, but normally there are clear cut answers to all my questions. But with this holiday it's far from the case. Even all the experts here on Dis seem to disagree what is best to do . For example, with Disney right now I am trying to decide:

Should I book a book a room-only rate now and then cancel and rebook if something better comes along? Alternatively, should I be looking at booking a package that includes tickets now instead? Or perhaps I should just forget about it all until specials are actually released and then book then? Am I taking a gamble with the exchange rate if I don't pay for more things now? (Don't worry, I'm not expecting an answer to that one). And what about AP's and TIW cards and dining plans...? And don't even get me started on my indecisiveness over which hotel to book. Too many questions all at once. (I feel like placing one of those crazed looking emoticons here, but App doesn't have them)

I contacted Dreams Unlimited on Wednesday night (Tuesday night their time) about possibly transferring my cruise. I'm thinking they might also be the best way to go with the WDW booking. However, they haven't got back to me yet and I'm surprised. Do they normally take more than a few business days to respond? I'm not known for being patient.
i have always had an auto response from dreams within an hour or so, and usually a quote within 24 hours, if that. i usually ask for the quote at night and i have a reply with details/prices etc the following morning. sounds like there may have been a glitch. i would definitely send your request for a quote again.

for our wdw trip, we are planning a 7-8 night stay, then the 7 night cruise in 2014. we will need to keep it budget cause we are doing a large trip in 2013 and again in 2015, so we will most likely be staying at pop (would love to stay BWI, but i cannot justify the price hike), just getting hoppers and if FD is in place, we will likely take advantage.

i have used the birnbaums guide to wdw and the unofficial guide to wdw to help with all of my questions/decision making abilities etc. from this, i have decided that we are at least doing ohana dinner & crystal palace breakfast. the rest of our meals we will most likely do cs with maybe a few other TS but have yet to decide on where/what this far out. i will be booking my whole package (land + sea) with dreams, and that way i have just the one deposit and only one 'person' to pay money to, if that makes sense, plus if a better deal comes out, they will let me know.

for us, it comes down to price and convenience. if the hotel is decently situated and has good transport (ie, direct + not shared) and we can get our requested room type (ie king bed since it's the 2 of us -- i know this is not guaranteed, but at least they offer it), then i'm pretty comfortable. i find the other hotels may be nicer, better looking, bigger, more amenities etc, but we will be spending very little time in the rooms other than sleeping, don't need things like club level, don't need anything other than a pool (maybe), a food court, and a souvenir/sundries shop. all the rest for us is just optional extras and for this trip, we've decided to just go with pop. it meets our needs and money spent on room upgrades/mod/deluxe hotels is money we can't spend buying souvenirs/drinks/shopping for clothes etc...

sorry for the long ramble... not sure if it answers any of your questions, but i hope it shows that you're not in this alone also, re the AP + TIW card -- for the 2 of us, we would have to spend heaps to make the savings worthwhile, and we will most likely not do that, so for us it doesn't make sense. in this respect, it really comes down to working it out in a spreadsheet/notebook etc as to how the sums work out for you and your family. if you don't intend to purchase lots of merchandise, getting an AP for merchandise discounts may not prove worthwhile. also, if you're not going to be dining at TS a lot, having the TIW card, may not prove worthwhile. if you are going to be dining TS a lot, the TIW may save you the equivalent of your tips, so that may add up to a fair amount over the course of your trip... just depends on which way the numbers crunch and how you prefer to tour WDW.

good luck
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Old 11-19-2012, 05:59 AM   #302
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Just wanted to add if you don't want to gamble on the exchange rate you can out money on a travel card and lock in the current rates. It was then handy to have that card and pay for things online as needed. ( although you are gambling that the exchange rate won't go higher, but that's just being greedy)

As for cruise port transfers, we used Orlando town car now,he was fantastic, we had to pay upfront for the out of town pick up, (our first pick up was at port canaveral) was $120 to the airport, but that was five of us and a lot of bags! For an extra $50 he held our bags for a couple of days while we travelled to NYC with just carryons.

You can't go wrong booking with dreams unlimited, they will tell you of any discounts. Although only you can tell if an annual pass will work for your family.


Oh, and we loved pop century, I feel like I am always defensive of this place, but for my mind a more expensive resort wouldn't have made our holiday any better, we spent very little time at the resort, and as a family of five we needed two rooms so anything else was a lot more $$.
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Old 11-19-2012, 11:31 AM   #303
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Thanks both of you for the tips.
I got an automated response from Dreams straight away on Wed night and then finally got the proper response this morning. Unfortunately, due to tighter regulations implemented recently by Disney, TAs can no longer offer as much onboard credit for transferred bookings. They can only offer me $75 instead of the $150 I would have got had I booked with them in the first place.
Not to worry, I'm actually not interested in the OBC as much as I am the support Dreams might be able to give me with my WDW reservation. If I book room only now through Dreams and then decide to change my booking to a package or another resort later on, will Dream's sort the changes out for me without me having to muck around calling Disney to cancel one reservation and the book another? I'll email Dreams and ask them also, but I am interested in your experiences with them.

I had decided initially that we were going to stay at POP as well. BUT, then I started worrying about the 3 of us sharing 2 double beds. My husband and I, being wider and taller than average, enjoy a spacious King here at home. My son becomes a karate expert in his sleep and knows just how to aim for the lower back and ribs. There is no possible sleeping combination with two doubles that I think we will feel comfortable with. A good night's sleep is extremely important to us and for that reason, and that reason alone, we are thinking of splashing out on a resort with two Queens (i.e. any moderate except CBR).

Will email dreams now and am looking forward to their response. Hopefully, this time I'll hear back a bit quicker.
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Old 11-19-2012, 01:22 PM   #304
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My understanding is yhat if you want to make any changes (and we certainly did), dreams will do all the running around, calling disney part of it. All you do is email them what you want and they will email you back to say it is done or if they need to clarify anything. They can also make adrs but i personally would prefer to make them myself. Good luck with it. I have also found dreams TAs are a fount of knowledge when it comes to all things disney
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Old 11-19-2012, 03:49 PM   #305
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I was going to add last night, the only problem at pop is the double beds, so yes, if we were less than 5 people (but more than two) I would probably look at a moderate for that reason too.
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Old 11-19-2012, 04:31 PM   #306
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Hrmm. I didnt realise they were doubles. It will only be the 2 of us but i would still prefer a queen or king bed. And i dont want to plan on needing a king and then spend the whole vacation sleeping all squished up in a double... May need to consider a mod now
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Old 11-19-2012, 04:42 PM   #307
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No Alicia I think there are king bed rooms, it's just when you want two beds in the room they are doubles!
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Old 11-19-2012, 06:33 PM   #308
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oh, great. i was really hoping for the king bed arrangement as the price difference between pop and a regular room at a mod is pretty decent, and pop does have dedicated travel, food court etc, all the things i'm looking for
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Old 11-19-2012, 06:51 PM   #309
australiankaren
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No Alicia I think there are king bed rooms, it's just when you want two beds in the room they are doubles!




heres a shot of our king room....i think it was ground floor...heaps of room
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Old 11-19-2012, 09:32 PM   #310
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Some quick questions:
at lowes hotels onsite do you pay for parking??
is it worth paying for express fastpass thingy??
should we hop between parks or do one per day?
which park first?
what great restaurants should we check out at the city walk?
what hotel has the best pool??
No idea about the hotels/pool, never stayed onsite at Universal.

The fastpass thingy, does not work for the Harry Potter stuff, and that is probably the only area you will be really thinking you need it. The onsite perks of early entry to Universal Islands of Adventure is the main benefit (not sure if that is every day?)

You will probably find Universal Studios is relatively quiet and you won't need a whole day for it.

Use the early entry at IoA to go straight to Harry Potter, hang there until you can't take anymore Harry Potter, then either go direct to US or other area of IoA. The general public that gets in after early entry will all go straight to Harry Potter and the rest of IoA will be quiet.

IoA is usually open later than US these days, go back to Harry Potter until close, it's absolutely gorgeous at dusk/dark with all the lights on.

I like to have a late lunch at the Hard Rock Cafe which is between US and IoA, there is even a side entrance from US that takes you into a back entrance of Hard Rock Cafe, then you go out the front to get to IOA to go back for Harry Potter late afternoon. Repeat the next day and the next until you have seen everything in US and IoA So you do need a park to park pass.

Universal is MUCH more compact than Disney.

Dining at Universal is great, all the standards like Hard Rock, Magaritaville, Bubba Gumps, Emeril's, Latin Quater, you can't go too far wrong with any of them. Most importantly there is a Cinnabon, there is even a Cinnabon inside IoA.
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Old 11-19-2012, 09:48 PM   #311
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No idea about the hotels/pool, never stayed onsite at Universal.

The fastpass thingy, does not work for the Harry Potter stuff, and that is probably the only area you will be really thinking you need it. The onsite perks of early entry to Universal Islands of Adventure is the main benefit (not sure if that is every day?)

You will probably find Universal Studios is relatively quiet and you won't need a whole day for it.

Use the early entry at IoA to go straight to Harry Potter, hang there until you can't take anymore Harry Potter, then either go direct to US or other area of IoA. The general public that gets in after early entry will all go straight to Harry Potter and the rest of IoA will be quiet.

IoA is usually open later than US these days, go back to Harry Potter until close, it's absolutely gorgeous at dusk/dark with all the lights on.

I like to have a late lunch at the Hard Rock Cafe which is between US and IoA, there is even a side entrance from US that takes you into a back entrance of Hard Rock Cafe, then you go out the front to get to IOA to go back for Harry Potter late afternoon. Repeat the next day and the next until you have seen everything in US and IoA So you do need a park to park pass.

Universal is MUCH more compact than Disney.

Dining at Universal is great, all the standards like Hard Rock, Magaritaville, Bubba Gumps, Emeril's, Latin Quater, you can't go too far wrong with any of them. Most importantly there is a Cinnabon, there is even a Cinnabon inside IoA.
thanks for all that..it was 2006 since the last time I was at IoA/Ust......and was stupid to have a cinnibon just before the hulk.....never felt so sick in my life...lesson learnt...dont go on hulk

so do you think sun-thur is too long to stay at Ust..or should i throw in a day at sea world as well????

this time I'm with the DH not with the kids, so will try to focus on more adult things/places to eat at night...so universal city walk should be perfect
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Old 11-19-2012, 10:37 PM   #312
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we were at universal for 4 days and found the pace just right... we could go to the parks in the morning, head back to the pool in the middle of the day (it's literally like 5 mins from front of IOA to the pool at royal pacific, and that's if you go by the slow water boat -- if you walk it, it's less) and then go back to the parks in the afternoon/early evening.

4 days will give you time to spend by the pool, do the rides, go out for dinner etc without feeling rushed. if you wanted to do every ride and see every attraction, total commando style, i would say 2 days. if you are doing it after your cruise when you're all laid back and will enjoy the pools and the cheaper drinks and a good meal, and just happen to be right inside the theme parks... then yeah, 4 days is a great amount of time. you could fit in seaworld if you need to, but you could also fit in a day of shopping etc if you find that you've seen enough of universal/IOA
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Old 11-19-2012, 10:39 PM   #313
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oh, and karen, thanks for the pics i appreciate them. i think we will go with pop & just request a king bed, ground floor room it helps once you have seen the room to allay those fears about room size and style and included amenities. also, that decor is really cute retro mickey
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Old 11-19-2012, 11:37 PM   #314
australiankaren
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oh, and karen, thanks for the pics i appreciate them. i think we will go with pop & just request a king bed, ground floor room it helps once you have seen the room to allay those fears about room size and style and included amenities. also, that decor is really cute retro mickey
mate, we do love POP....if we had longer at WDW we would def stay at pop the first 2 nights...helps us get over the jetlag and into mickey mode.....

ask for the 70's building, king preferred, away from the lifts...its the one building that isn't around a pool, so fairly quiet. Ours was disabled room, so had walk in shower/wet room.....

I think its an extra $10-$15 a night, but def worth it

re universal, I think 4 nights will be great..as we love our pool hopping
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Old 11-20-2012, 12:09 AM   #315
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so do you think sun-thur is too long to stay at Ust..or should i throw in a day at sea world as well????

this time I'm with the DH not with the kids, so will try to focus on more adult things/places to eat at night...so universal city walk should be perfect
If you had a hire car you could have even more dining options - it's another chain, but I really enjoyed Cuba Libre Actually there are quite a few grown up dining options in Pointe Orlando

Have you been to SeaWorld before? I prefer the Gold Coast one, mainly because of the polar bears I saw lots and lots stereotypical behaviors with animals swimming in exactly the same circle at SeaWorld in Orlando, which was great for photo ops, people could position their child right in front of where the walrus was going to swim up every 2 mins, but I found it quite distressing. (I lived in Singapore for a while and spent quite a bit of time at the zoo, but got to see too much of how they controlled the animals in what is regarded as a show case example of a zoo and have been quite sensitive to the issue ever since, I've noticed a little of it at AK (eg the lion on the top of the hill in Kilimanjaro Safaris), but nothing compared to what was on show at SeaWorld in Orlando). SeaWorld is opening a Empire penguin exhibit next year, so maybe that will be better?

What time do you arrive Sun and what time do you leave Thurs? With Harry Potter you can cover the 2 parks pretty well in 2 full days (with sensible crowd levels), 3 days gives you more breaks to enjoy the resort and you can just be more relaxed about spending time in Harry Potter. I think we had the pay for 3 get 4 day park tickets last time, and we went back pretty much just for Harry Potter the last 2 days, one was just late afternoon after shopping, and one was morning before MNSSHP, 3 day ticket probably would've been enough, but the Harry Potter area is absolutely amazing They are expanding the Harry Potter area so you'll have to go back to Universal after next year anyway. (They're saying 2014 or maybe 2015, they have a new hotel supposedly opening 2014, so they'd be trying to have all of it happening together)
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