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Old 07-05-2014, 11:23 PM   #1
crusoe2
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Offsite at Christmas?

We're planning a Disney trip for Dec 20-27 and we're debating between onsite and off. We drive down so we wouldn't need a rental car either way. Onsite we can get free dining but the offsite accommodations I've looked at (Windsor Hills) are priced low enough to make up for paying out of pocket for our meals. So the trip would cost about the same, either way.

Our big concern about staying onsite is the lack of space (would be staying at CBR - larger onsite accommodations being a little too spendy for our taste). We've been advised to take more clothes than usual so that we're prepared for any type of weather. Plus we want to have a small Christmas tree and will have gifts to put under it. And I know we'll buy stuff while we're there - some of which will be gifts that we'll need to wrap. Which means having to take and find a spot for gift wrap supplies too. So no doubt we would be much less cramped in a condo or townhouse.

However, we also know that this is one of the busiest times of year and worry that we'll wish we had onsite perks - specifically extra magic hours, guaranteed admission to a park even when the parks start closing due to reaching capacity, and being able to book FP+ 60 days out instead of 30. We're also wondering what the offsite traffic will be like that week.

If you've been during Christmas week - especially if you stayed offsite - what was your experience? And which would your recommend - offsite or on?
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Old 07-06-2014, 11:12 AM   #2
rackerlee92
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We were at WDW last year (12/27/13-1/5/14) and stayed off site. We did most of our park touring later in the day until the park closed. We were able to ride all the rides that we wanted (have been to WDW several times, so know the rides that are must do for us).

We are doing the same thing this year 12/24/14-1/6/15).

With our teenage daughters, we just need the extra space that off site offers.

I'm sure that what ever decision you make will be great!
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Old 07-06-2014, 02:11 PM   #3
kathy884
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We've been down five different Christmas weeks over the years. I can't really give you an on vs. offsite comparison for that time as we stayed in offsite condos on all those trips -- big monetary savings for a large extended family group and we love having the balcony and common areas for sitting out and visiting in addition to our own kitchen (I don't like having to eat all our meals out). Also, with the washer and dryer, you don't have to bring as many clothes too (so easy to do a load in a house or condo).

We really like to get there for rope drop on park days and go to parks that don't have morning extra magic hours. The first two hours are soooo nice, and then the crowds really start rolling in. I like to use touringplans.com touring plans for these busy times too to save some line waiting time (pick an optimal order for things you'd like to do.)

The crowds (not just the parks are crazy). I don't recommend just driving around for the heck of it. Traffic is insane around dinner time, and don't do any extra driving you don't have to do then or any time really. Now getting to and from the parks, though, was no issue.

We usually on a day when we aren't visiting a park will go park at the Polynesian and visit all the monerail resorts to see the Christmas decorations. The Grand Floridian in particular is pretty impressive.

It must not be that bad, as we've done it five times. These days, though, the Christmas crowds are more than what I care to deal with and DH prefers to skip Disney/Orlando all together, so we stay home for Christmas.

My son, though, this year finishes college finals on Dec. 12, so lol I'm taking him down and meeting up with my mom, my dad, my nephew who works for Disney, and my cousin who lives is Tampa, as I can get down before the crazy crowds and will be doing a mini offsite budget trip (staying at Cypress Point in a condo) Dec. 13 - 18. Can't wait.

Bring some patience, have expectations of really heavy crowds, and have a great time whatever you decide.

I always recommend staying offsite, but I'm into value and think Disney hotel rooms and condo even with discounts and meal plan freebies (and for me even with cast member discount of 60% that my nephew can get me) are too expensive for what you get. You might want to post on the Disney resorts forum, though, for another view point. I think most of the posters here are really into offsite like me. There are great values offsite, even Christmas week.

Last edited by kathy884; 07-10-2014 at 08:03 PM.
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Old 07-06-2014, 03:58 PM   #4
maxiesmom
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I've stayed off site many times, but I would never do so over Christmas. For some of the reasons you have listed--better access to the parks when they start to close to capacity, for the ability to make FP choices farther out, and Extra Magic Hours.

For me, EMH is a big reason. Typically the Magic Kingdom has EMH ever morning the week of Christmas. Meaning you will always be behind a big mass of people hitting that park when you stay off site. Just the idea of it gives me the chills. Also, if the parks are crowded and some people need a break and others don't, it is much easier to split up staying on site than it is off site.

Have you given any thought to doing an All Star Family Suite? That would give you a lot more room than one room at CBR. It will cost a bit more, but you can get some of that back by doing quick meals in the room.
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Old 07-06-2014, 04:19 PM   #5
Dasha Hermosilla
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If you stay off site, you want to arrive early. I have been on the bus from AK to GF on NYE around 2 in the afternoon and the back up of cars to get through the MK gates was absolutely insane!!! I can't imagine how long it took for those folks to wait for the gate, park, tram and then get to turnstiles at MK.
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Old 07-06-2014, 05:16 PM   #6
crusoe2
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First off, thanks so much for posting your experiences.

We have considered bumping up from CBR to a family suite at AoA (ASMusic family suites aren't available with the free dining). The family suite would cost almost $1800 more than the preferred room we currently have booked at CBR. That's a pretty big jump but we have not ruled it out.

I'm wondering about something tho. From everything I've read, the days leading up to Christmas are not as bad crowd-wise as the week between Christmas Day and New Year's. I've been told it's busy those last few days leading up to Christmas but not yet shoulder-to-shoulder with parks closing to capacity. From all I've read, the park closings are usually in that Christmas Day to New Year's timeframe and we'll be gone by then. Have you guys found that to be pretty accurate?
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Old 07-06-2014, 09:51 PM   #7
kathy884
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Quote:
Originally Posted by crusoe2 View Post
First off, thanks so much for posting your experiences.

We have considered bumping up from CBR to a family suite at AoA (ASMusic family suites aren't available with the free dining). The family suite would cost almost $1800 more than the preferred room we currently have booked at CBR. That's a pretty big jump but we have not ruled it out.

I'm wondering about something tho. From everything I've read, the days leading up to Christmas are not as bad crowd-wise as the week between Christmas Day and New Year's. I've been told it's busy those last few days leading up to Christmas but not yet shoulder-to-shoulder with parks closing to capacity. From all I've read, the park closings are usually in that Christmas Day to New Year's timeframe and we'll be gone by then. Have you guys found that to be pretty accurate?
Yes -- The difference between the week before Christmas and Christmas week is significant. And each day that is closer to the Christmas Holiday is busier as more people are out of school. And by far the time between Christmas and New Year's Eve is the busiest. This has been the pattern for all of our Christmas visits. For the Magic Kingdom especially, the busiest of the four WDW parks, we like to go before Christmas week on a non extra magic a.m. hour day.
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Old 07-07-2014, 07:24 AM   #8
Bete
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I think the deal breaker for me is the 60 day fastpass reservations. For that time of the year this is important. If you want to do everything on your list at the parks this is the best route.

Spending more time in lines or missing out on certain attractions is not my idea of fun.

The free dining plan can be worth more than the actual cost of the plan depending on what you order. I tend to order the most expensive entree; I feel I really get my monies worth that way. It's fun to be able to dine that way.

I've done offsite and I do like having more room, but at that time of the year I prefer onsite.
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Old 07-07-2014, 04:03 PM   #9
maxiesmom
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A quick peek shows that the Magic Kingdom has EMH every morning, starting with December 21st, and going through the rest of the month. That is a big thing to factor in when deciding between on site and off site.
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Old 07-08-2014, 08:40 AM   #10
crusoe2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bete View Post
I think the deal breaker for me is the 60 day fastpass reservations. For that time of the year this is important. If you want to do everything on your list at the parks this is the best route.

Spending more time in lines or missing out on certain attractions is not my idea of fun.

The free dining plan can be worth more than the actual cost of the plan depending on what you order. I tend to order the most expensive entree; I feel I really get my monies worth that way. It's fun to be able to dine that way.

I've done offsite and I do like having more room, but at that time of the year I prefer onsite.
Quote:
Originally Posted by maxiesmom View Post
A quick peek shows that the Magic Kingdom has EMH every morning, starting with December 21st, and going through the rest of the month. That is a big thing to factor in when deciding between on site and off site.
You guys just hit on the two things that pretty much have me convinced to stay onsite in spite of the lack of space - first crack at booking FP+ and all those morning EMHs at Magic Kingdom. Since this is the first Christmas since the full implementation of the new FP system, I know I will be stressing if thousands of other people are able to book a month before I can. And I also know how time-consuming it is to get into the MK from offsite. Add in all the onsite folks being able to get in an hour before we can - every day of our trip - and we could have a really lousy situation. So I think we've convinced ourselves to keep the onsite reservation. Thanks for all the input and advice.
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Old 07-09-2014, 09:14 PM   #11
got4boys
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During that time I would recommend staying onsite although the room is smaller than offsite - you can get free dining... don't forget the reservation window for the dining is already open for your dates.
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Old 07-09-2014, 09:21 PM   #12
msb578
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I know you already have an offsite place in mind... and I've never actually stayed at this place before... but the Hilton at DTD has EMH privileges (it is owned by the same company as Swan/Dolphin). I'm not sure how high their rates go that week, but if I were going then, I'd take a look. Just an idea
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Old 07-11-2014, 10:19 PM   #13
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We are DVC members so obviously big fans of staying on site. Xmas 2013 we stayed at Bonnet Creek in a 3 BR (we ran out of DVC points so were forced off Disney property). As you probably know it is near Carribbean Beach Resort and is "inside" Disney" in regards to to traffic.

While we did not have EMH's we know that when we going during holidays that we don't try to race around and get on every attraction. We definitely went on rides but also enjoyed XMAS deco's in Parks, DTD, hotels etc. What was nice was the resort while busy never seemed busy due to the size and being spreadout.

When we did go offsite for food and church, the roads were definitely busy so we were happy not to have to drive in from offsite everyday. We used our car vs. using their transportation.
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