First Trip Ever to WDW-Help needed

Discussion in 'Pre-Trip Reports and Plans' started by TheOsborns94, Apr 9, 2013.

  1. TheOsborns94

    TheOsborns94 Earning My Ears

    Mar 12, 2013
    Ok so we have been to Disneyland several times over the years (well I have and my wife) Living on the west coast always put WDW far down on the affordability list. But now that my oldest daughter is graduating HS next year we have decided that her graduation family trip would be to Walt Disney World and surrounding area. So short of selling my kidney, working every single day and leveraging all my daughter's college futures, we want to see as much as possible but not bust the bank in the process (especially since the next daughter graduates the following year).
    So here is what I need advice, tips, tricks and pointers and I have a little over a year to get it all in. What is a good moderate hotel to stay in vs. what is a must stay in moderate hotel? Is the dining plans worth it for a family of five? Are they flexible enough and good enough?
    I Need a better understanding of the different ticket types for the different parks?
    Are there any plans or programs, discounted, that combine WDW with Universal Studios in Orlando?
    I will have a lot more questions as time draws near but I wanted to get started now and for those that know of questions I should already ask but haven't please share that too. Thank you and I look forward to reading many helpful answers.

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  3. Xclusive2WDW

    Xclusive2WDW Mouseketeer

    Sep 20, 2012
    Congratulations on taking a trip to WDW!:yay: I will try to offer up what I can. . . You will find the Dis to have all of the info you seek.
    Dining: I personally think that you can dine a lot cheaper than the dining plans that Disney offers. You can find menus to restaurants that you and your family may try at, here on the Disboards as well as Disney's website.
    Tickets: How long do you all plan on staying? I would suggest Park Hoppers with whatever ticket option you purchase. Undercover Tourist is a good place to find inexpensive tickets for various Orlando attractions, particularly WDW and Universal.
    Hotel: I am not much help in the Moderate resort area as I stay Deluxe. I will say depending upon the time of year you go, see if there are hotel specific discounts (generally 20-30% off). You may find your family can stay rather cheaply at one of the less expensive Deluxe hotels (such as AKL, Wilderness Lodge, ect) for the same and sometime less than the regular cost of the moderate resorts.
    That is jus some general info to get you started. As you have more specific questions/ details please ask. I find the planning stage to be super exciting. Congrats again:goodvibes
  4. ZephyrHawk

    ZephyrHawk Confirmed Disneyphile

    Feb 15, 2007

    I saw that you didn't have many responses, and thought I could help a bit. I went to WDW for my senior class trip, and I can say it's a great experience for a teen as well as little kids (and adults too!). You might want to try posting in a different forum, as this section of the website is for people who want to share their Disney experiences through stories (as opposed to offering advice).

    Moderate hotels - Are you speaking of Disney brand on-site "Moderate Resorts" or just generally hotels that are "priced moderately"? It's hard to know how much WDW knowledge you may already have living on the West coast. Regardless, Disney has a number of moderately priced on-site options. There are the "Value Resorts" which, depending upon when you go, can be obtained very reasonably. The Moderate Resorts are a bit more upscale, but personally, I don't see a great quality difference between them and the Values for the extra price. Among these options, each is interestingly themed, though I would not consider any of them to be "must stay". That's a term I'd probably use for a Deluxe Resort, and not even all of them.

    Dining Plan - I will not be using the Dining Plan on my upcoming trip, HOWEVER, I really do think the dining plan is a great thing for people with kids. What makes it great is that folks who are used to eating on the cheap (no sit-downs) on vacation feel like they can take time out and have a nice meal with their family. However, it may not be for you. I second the advice given above about checking out menus and the like at One thing you do need to be aware of, if you do decide to eat at a table service restaurant (dining plan or not), reservations are pretty much a must.

    Tickets - There are no plans that combine Disney parks with any other Orlando parks. For Disney parks, the following tickets are available:

    Base Tickets - These will get you into one of the 4 WDW theme parks (Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Animal Kingdom or Disney Hollywood Studios) of your choice per day

    Park Hoppers - These will allow you to enter any number of the 4 theme parks for each day

    [Note: Common question - Can you use an extra day of base tickets to go to more than one theme park in a day. The answer is no.]

    Water Park Fun and More - This option allows you a certain number of entrances to Disney's 2 waterparks, Disneyquest and some other Disney attractions

    Hope this helps a bit and good luck on your planning!
  5. DisneyChef

    DisneyChef Earning My Ears

    Feb 21, 2013
    Congratulations! I hope you have a wonderful trip! My number one rule for first trips ecspecially with kids/teens is to not be so go go go and planned out to the hour that after the trip is over, your kids feel like was not a vacation. Unless this is a surprise for your kids (which I gather from your info it's not, then let your kids be a part of the planning process as much as they would like to. This helps them get excited, and makes sure they get to do some things that they would like to do. For the dining plan, most meals are filling enough, and you won't need extra so they work out okay. If you do not want to be limited to where and what you get at restaurants, then I would opt without the plan. How many days will you be in the Orlando area? I would think you would do both Universal Parks because they are great for older kids and all or most of the disney parks. If you don't have time to do all the D parks, then I would skip AK. It is way worth it to get parkhopper for Universal, because you will want/need more time in IOA than Universal Studios. For disney, I prefer not to get parkhopper, as I can go a full day in one park, but whatever works best for you is good too.

    Hotels: 1. Would you like to stay at the same hotel the entire stay, or stay on Un. & D. property? I would recomend changing hotels so you can get the perks and benefits of staying at that park's hotels.

    Universal Hotels:
    I have stayed at Lowes Royal Pacific which is the least expensive, and it is ABSOLUTLY beautiful! It has many restaurants, lounges stores, and a wonderful main pool and tiki bar. The rooms are small, but that is expected and they are decorated well. I would Highly recomend this resort, because it is cheaper than the others, but still great service and SO close to the parks. It is a 10 minute walk on a path through what looks like a Jungle. (or you can take the water taxi) Also, by staying here you get the express pass which is kind of like a fastpass only it's your hotel room key. you can use it any time on any ride that excepts it.

    Disney Hotels:
    I have to be honest with you, I have only stayed in one of their resorts, and that was Port orleans Riverside, and i think it was great! Unfortunatly we were in a building on the opposite side of the food court. Again, great main pool, and a smaller, but very nice pool for each building. they allso had laundry facilities. the food was good, and the theming was nice, although we were not able to experience the regular lobbly because it was under renovation, so we were in this kind of entryway when checking in. They have nice bike paths and you can take a carraige ride witch is nice. they also have a playground type Island. Rooms are standard hotel size. We had a little bit of a problem with our fridge, but they got it fixed and it was fine the rest of the trip.

    hope this helps a little bit. If you have any other q's just ask them!:wave2:
  6. hodgesda1

    hodgesda1 Earning My Ears

    Sep 30, 2010
    Coronado Springs is the only moderate I have stayed at, but it was nice. The rooms are a little small and you will be cramped if you plan to have 5 people in there for any length of time. We stayed with 4 and we were on top of each other. On the other hand we stayed at the deluxe Wilderness Lodge for a lot more money and the rooms were small there too. If you are set on staying on property, which is a great experience and has perks, than a moderate would probably be your best bet. If off property is an option, there are a ton of inexpensive rental houses and condos that will give you a lot more room to move, save money on food since you can cook meals there, and there are many close to all the attractions (Disney, Universal, and Seaworld). I love being on property because I like to use the buses and not have to pay to park, but if you’re looking to go on a budget you can rent a house, pay for parking, buy groceries at Publix and spent less than just the room on property. We do both on and off property. Our last visit in Oct 2012 was at the All Star Movies and we were ready to kill each other by the end of the trip. No room to move in the room and the beds are tiny.

    I have been going to Disney for most of my life and I had never used the dining plan until this past October. “Is it worth it?” is a hard question to answer since we don’t know what the cutoff for “worth it” is for you. We got the quick serve dining plan for 4 people for 9 nights. The Cost was in the neighborhood of $1300 ($34.99 per person per night plus tax) (just the dining plan). The price has gone up to 37.58 per person per night plus tax for 2013. This gives 2 counter service meals as well as a snack each day for each person. I can tell you that it was more than enough food for my family, but if you add up how much you pay for the plan versus how much you would pay eating off property you will find that the plan is not worth it in the sense of $$. I would purchase the dining plan again for a few reasons. With the dining plan you have already taken care of your food cost so you aren’t trying to budget the food money while you are there and it gives you more time to have fun, I also like it because it gave us an opportunity to eat at places we wouldn’t normally eat at if we were paying out of pocket right then. The food was really good and usually all 4 of us would share 2 meals if we chose the right restaurant. So, the dining plan, in my opinion, was not worth it in money sense, but it was worth it to us in convenience. If you stay off property you do not have the dining plan option. You only get it if you book a package (room, tickets, and dining plan). Sometimes there are deals. September 2013 there is a free dining plan offer. If you book your package (room and tickets) through Disney you can get the dining plan free. Not sure when you are planning to head to WDW, but definitely keep your eyes open for those types of deals.

    I would never by a non park hopper ticket. There are too many opportunities to visit multiple parks in one day. There are many types from single day non park hopper to park hopper with no expiration or just normal park hopper or park hopper with water parks and more. The list goes on. The first question to answer is how many days are you staying. The next question is what parks are you planning to go to (Disney, water parks, universal, seaworld, Busch Gardens, the alligator farm). Last October we stayed 9 days and had the plan of going to the four Disney parks, seaworld, Aquatica, Universal, and Islands of Adventure. You would think 9 days would be more than enough time to accomplish that. It was not for us. We did it but we were more exhausted than normal. We could have only done the 4 Disney parks and still need time. Universal has the same type of hopper tickets. You can buy a single park single day or you can buy a multiple park single day. We bought single park single day tickets and only made it to Islands of Adventure. With 3 day passes we did one park in one day. I don’t know that you would need the hopper with universal, but some people prefer universal to Disney.

    You probably won’t find anything that will combine Universal and Disney together unless you go with a vacation planner / agent and then all they will do is get them separate and charge you one price. Dreams Unlimited has vacation packages and they are a Disney Authorized agent.

    I hope this will help get you started allong with all the other responses.
  7. TheOsborns94

    TheOsborns94 Earning My Ears

    Mar 12, 2013
    Thank you for all of the input so far. We just got a planning DVD in the mail and I am cruising through that.
    I would like to stay in the Orlando area for about 7 days, maybe longer depending on other places we may visit (first trip to Florida also)
    I have been looking at the VRBO site and found a really great 3br/3 bath condo but still want to investigate the total trade off: on site hotels get extra time in park on certain days, shuttles through park area vs paying for parking, package deals and lastly proximity. May consider doing a combination of 3 or 4 days on property and then the remainder off site. Plus my girls and I like to close the park each night but my wife usually likes to be able to head back early if wanted, so being on property makes that easier.
    Again thank you
    btw what page would have been more appropriate to post first time questions too?

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