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Old 01-29-2013, 09:02 AM   #1
scotty s
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Our 1st time staying "off property"..tips and advise

My how plans change! Originally my wife and I were taking our daughter to Hawaii in July for her 17th Bday....But, now we have decided to make it a Disney vacation for several reasons. Turns out our son was able to get vacation at the same time so he and his girlfriend also want to come with us AND we are allowing our daughter to invite her best friend to come along as well. Since I can't afford to fly us all to Hawaii and after tossin around many vacation ideas, our daughter is set on Disney. Her best friend has never been to DW so she is really excited to share the Disney magic with her!
With that said...this will be our 1st time staying off property and the wife and I are a little worried Disney won't have the same feel as our previous trips. We have rented a 3 bdrm Townhouse at Windsorhills. We plan on doing 2 days at US (1st time) and 4 full days at Disney with park hopper tickets. After the last Disney trip during the summer months (June) we said never again....Now we're gonna be there June 29th - July 6th. I can just imagine how hot and humid it will be!!
In the past we have always done the DDP amd obviously that is not an option for this trip....
Any tips or advise for us "off property" newbies would be greatly appreciated!!
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Old 01-29-2013, 09:14 AM   #2
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It's a matter of perspective but we don't find offsite all that much different from onsite. Just like when we stay onsite, we get to the park at rope drop and then tour at our pace until we are tired. If we decide that we need a break, we head over to one of the resorts and have lunch and just sit for a bit.

Of course, you won't have EMH but we really don't miss it when the hours are long anyway. You'll have to drive but we usually have a car anyway. I'm not a fan of Disney bus service.

I think that it's still nice to go and stay offsite with only the "Disney Magic" lacking. That magic is in the eyes of the beholder IMO and the extra space is a nice tradeoff for that.
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Old 01-29-2013, 09:45 AM   #3
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When staying off property make sure you allow yourself extra time to get to the parks in the morning... Plus with your dates, July 4th will be a busy day for MK so expect closings...You might want to stay clear of that park for that day...If you need a break from the parks but dont want to go all the way back to your townhouse..hop on the monorail and have lunch at the poly, grand floridian or the Contemporary. It will get you out of the heat and a nice place to relax for a bit....
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Old 01-29-2013, 10:00 AM   #4
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Staying offsite is a great idea with a group that size. It may be hard to get teens to hit rope drop, but it is probably a good idea. Avoid the parks that have EMH in the morning because the lines will get long faster than non EMH parks.

Universal will be a blast with a family that age! Going to Universal when you stay onsite and don't have a car is really a pain, so grab the opportunity and enjoy.

We've stayed off-site many times, and the only real downside is the parking. I hate dragging my tired self back to the parking lot at the end of a long day. Remember that hitting rope drop means getting to the parking lot well before opening time. It can be a bit of a madhouse, but is well worth it to have the first couple of hours with very manageable lines.

This is just me, but with 4 days at Disney and no EMH available, I would not bother with park hoppers around the 4th of July. The heat, humidity and crowds will sap the energy right out of everyone. We have a tendency to hit rope drop, go until we've done everything we think is realistic, and then leave the park and relax at our hotel and maybe swim to cool down before bed.

Many people will go forward with park hoppers and try to bounce parks to avoid the crowds. Even with a car, going from park to park takes up a bit of time though, so figure that into your plans.

Staying off site and having a vehicle gives you more flexibility about when and where you eat. In Orlando there is a representative of every chain you can think of!
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Old 01-29-2013, 10:02 AM   #5
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We've stayed off property before and it was great. We saved money on accommodations which we spent on food in the parks.

Leave extra time to arrive. Go to the park that had evening EMH the night before. That one will be the least crowded because on property guest where there the night before.
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Old 01-29-2013, 10:19 AM   #6
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Just want to reassure you that you will have a great time. We have statyed at WH three times. Our most recent trip, in June 2012, was in a three bedroom town home there. I agree that avoiding the EMH parks is a good idea. Also, make sure to make a note on your phone of where you park your car at WDW parks. And the Sherberth Road is a good way to enter WDW, especially if your final destination is on the southern end (AK, etc.). I am sure there are many threads on this entrance on the Orlando hotels board.

My final note is a caution: when we were at WH last year we discovered that some criminal elements attempt to enter the resort and hang flyers for restaurant delivery on your door. Some of those are legit, but others are scams. WH gave us a list of "approved" delivery places, and I would stick to those. Have fun!
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Old 01-29-2013, 10:27 AM   #7
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We're staying off-site at Windsor Hills in May

My suggestions -- schedule an "off-day" where you do something other than a Disney park. Maybe it's a visit to one of the waterparks, or shopping in Downtown Disney, or just hanging out by the pool and relaxing. Make a nice breakfast in the townhouse and, if you want to head to a park in the evening then you can do so for dinner and fireworks.

Make sure you make reservations for at least one nice table dinner in one of the parks or resorts! Don't try to cook dinner in the condo every night or it won't feel like you're on vacation.

My hubby made that mistake our first trip. "Look, honey! A full kitchen and a washer and dryer!" Me: "Oh goodie...so I can cook and wash clothes...just like at home!"

This trip, we have *four* table service reservations!! I'm so excited to have *four* nights of no-cooking!
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Old 01-29-2013, 10:42 AM   #8
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We've stayed in Windsor many times. It is different than onsite. Some of the differences are good, some are bad.

In the bad column: You can't split up as easily. If half want to stay and half want to leave, someone in the leaving group is going to have to go pick up those that stayed. There is no just hopping on buses. And you don't have access to DDP, EMH, pkg delivery. You have to park and ride trams. And pay for parking.

In the good column: The pool is very uncrowded. You have a kitchen AND washer and dryer (these two things are huge for my family.) You have your own rooms and space. You can park very close to your front door. And you don't have to wait for buses.

So for us it's kind of a wash. It seems like it's every other time for us. And all the trips are fabulous.

As for advice, we like to order food while still in the parking lot from Outback or Pizza Hut and pick it up on our way home. It's cheaper than onsite and even cheaper because you don't have to pay the servers or for drinks. Then we eat around our table at Windsor Hills. We do this at least 2-3 times a trip.

We also buy a bunch of ham and cheese and bread and chips as if we were going to pack lunches. We never do actually pack lunches but when you go in the summer and it's SO HOT sometimes you don't want hot food You just want a sandwich. So it's cheap and easy and actually more pleasing.

Sherbeth Road is good for AK and Blizzard Beach. We usually take the main way to Epcot, DTD, and DHS. MK is kind of the same either way.

It's not a terrible idea to buy a cardboard screen thing for your front window. Your vehicle will get so hot the steering wheel will burn your hands when you try to get home.

Also, on your grocery store list put lidded, disposable cups. That way you can make and take your own coffee and just throw away the cup.

And if you like taking a break midway through the day, do it. We've found it's almost quicker to be offsite for breaks as the buses run less often midafternoon. If you get there at rope drop you will often be close to the front and can easily walk or ride to your car and be home in 15 minutes vs. the 30-40 a bus can take with waiting and other bus stops.

Have FUN!!!!
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Old 01-29-2013, 10:45 AM   #9
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As long as you set your expectations accordingly, offsite can be just as fun as staying on property.

The experience once in the park is virtually the same. Getting there and after departure is a little different, but that's it to me.

Also keep it mind it's going to be hot, hot, hot - and crowded; but again, from my point of view, your expectations are what will make the difference in how much you enjoy the experience.
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Old 01-29-2013, 10:52 AM   #10
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I've stayed on site and stayed in a 3 br townhouse in windsorhills and never again will I stay on site. I love windsorhills!!

I love having SPACE for everyone. Spending a week in a hotel room really isn't my idea of a good time. Everyone has their own bedroom and bathroom and space to move around. You also get so much more bang for your buck.

I love the kitchen! Walking downstairs in my jammies to make coffee and eat breakfast is much nicer to me than having to get dressed and walk to a food court for gross "coffee" and breakfast. I can relax and enjoy real coffee and then get dressed and go play.

No buses! We get to and from the parks soooo much faster driving then we do waiting for and riding the buses. We take afternoon breaks and its so easy driving ourselves.

Love the private splash pool! so great after a long day at the parks and the resort pool is very nice as well.

Overall, I don't feel we loose any magic staying at windsorhills and it is a much more relaxing and enjoyable vacation for us.
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Old 01-29-2013, 11:08 AM   #11
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We stayed off property this past Oct for the first time in a long time. We stayed at Bonnet Creek and it was nice to have room to spread out. I loved having all that space, a full kitchen (although I dont cook on vacation) and especially a washer and dryer in my room.
We are a family of 6 and I love being able to do a load of laundry each evening to stay ahead of the game
We drive and have our own car and dont use EMH or the dining plan, so those dont have any effect on us. I think you will be fine. We actually enjoyed being able to go off property for a good meal. We dont find the meals at WDW to be great and the prices are huge. We could eat at the Olive Garden cheaper than we could eat CS in the parks!
It was nice to have that break. I love staying on property for all the little details and magic, but that space is just so much more worth it so I think we will stay off property from now on (not to mention the money savings)
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Old 01-29-2013, 12:21 PM   #12
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We've stayed in Windsor Palms (1x) and Windsor Hills (4x) over the past 5 years. Obviously we really like it or we wouldn't go back. I love having the extra space, especially since we have a son who is a really light sleeper. A hotel room stay just about kills us every time since none of us get much sleep. But beyond that, I find it so relaxing coming "home" after the parks to WH. I like having the kitchen stocked with light snack and drink options. I like having the opportunity to throw in a load of laundry and then just go to bed. I like having tons of restaurant options nearby that aren't price like Disney.

Windsor Hills is extremely close to the parks. We've never found that it takes more time driving than waiting on Disney buses. Plus, if you get to the parks early, you're usually close enough to walk to the gates and not have to wait on the trams.

Every once in awhile, we stay at an on site hotel for a few days. It's usually fun, but it makes me so happy to get to our bigger accommodations at WH.
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Old 01-29-2013, 12:39 PM   #13
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Enjoy! Once we went to Windsor Hills, we never looked back! The increase in space will be magic enough! It will NOT take you longer to get to the parks. In fact, we found it much faster than the buses. It will take you less than 10 minutes to get to AK and DHS and about 10-15 for Epcot and MK.

Plan your days so that you aren't going to a park on it's EMH day - since you aren't eligible and it will be more crowded from those onsite guests that are taking advantage of it.
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Old 01-29-2013, 01:51 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Planogirl View Post
It's a matter of perspective but we don't find offsite all that much different from onsite. Just like when we stay onsite, we get to the park at rope drop and then tour at our pace until we are tired. If we decide that we need a break, we head over to one of the resorts and have lunch and just sit for a bit.

Of course, you won't have EMH but we really don't miss it when the hours are long anyway. You'll have to drive but we usually have a car anyway. I'm not a fan of Disney bus service.

I think that it's still nice to go and stay offsite with only the "Disney Magic" lacking. That magic is in the eyes of the beholder IMO and the extra space is a nice tradeoff for that.
Quote:
Originally Posted by conniehar90 View Post
Enjoy! Once we went to Windsor Hills, we never looked back! The increase in space will be magic enough! It will NOT take you longer to get to the parks. In fact, we found it much faster than the buses. It will take you less than 10 minutes to get to AK and DHS and about 10-15 for Epcot and MK.

Plan your days so that you aren't going to a park on it's EMH day - since you aren't eligible and it will be more crowded from those onsite guests that are taking advantage of it.
Ditto on all points. For the extra space you can get for the price, I doubt I will go back onsite again.
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Old 01-29-2013, 01:52 PM   #15
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You'll love the space of offsite. We stay 15 or so minutes away from Disney so still convenient for the parks. We often left the park for the day and had dinner on the way home, so no leaving and coming back.
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