First Time booking for WDW

Mumtotwocuties

Earning My Ears
Joined
Apr 30, 2012
Hi there now that there’s talk of International travel opening up again I’m starting to think about planning out first family holiday to WDW. We’ve been to Disneyland twice but never WDW. For all the experts out there I’ve got a few questions I love to know please.
*Travelling from Sydney is it best to fly into LAX then onto WDW or is there a better option?
*Is September a good time to go? Is January to busy?
*Is 7-10 days a good amount of time?
*Best moderate priced hotel for 2 adults and 2 teens 15 and 13.
*Do you book your package through an Aus or overseas company? Or do you book it yourself?

thanks for any help :)
 

masterpabu

Mouseketeer
Joined
Jan 10, 2018
I can't call myself an expert (it's just the only thing I obsess over lol) but am excited when anyone has Disney plans!

Here are just my thoughts on a few of these

  • Syd to LAX typically have the most options (once more flights open up across airlines again) and why most people do that, either way it'll be 2 flights to get to MCO no matter which hub you fly into, Dallas could also be an option as Qantas does that direct
  • September I've heard has had some low crowds, though "low" may be relative during the anniversary celebrations lol, also weather can be a bit of a hit/miss coming out of summer and within hurricane season. Weather wise January would be nicer, as long as you can avoid the major US holidays it's pretty fine
  • I'd say 8-10 (park) days is a good amount for a first trip, though that's just me, might be different for a family of 4
I'm interested to see what other advice the real experts here have to share :goodvibes
 

Mumtotwocuties

Earning My Ears
Joined
Apr 30, 2012
Thank you so much for your response. I too obsess over having a Disney trip booked :)
We love Disneyland but thought we should give WDW a try. We have family in Baltimore so would love to combine the trip with visiting them, some time in New York and Florida would be amazing. Not sure how much time we will have but would be able stay longer if we go in January. Now to decide on a resort :)
 

masterpabu

Mouseketeer
Joined
Jan 10, 2018
No worries! it's great you'll be venturing over to WDW, I've been trying to convince my MIL to go since she's done 5+ Disneyland trips, WDW is the next level :laughing:

The resort is the hardest thing for me to choose! I'm already indecisive which doesn't help lol :headache: On my first trip I did a split stay between Animal Kingdom Villas and Polynesian and loved both, both via renting DVC so it was a lot more affordable vs booking direct, so if that's something that might be in your budget it's worth a little look at

Though the moderates are great, the new Coronado rooms look so nice and Port Orleans is so peaceful, you can't go wrong wherever really
 

Mumtotwocuties

Earning My Ears
Joined
Apr 30, 2012
Actually Coronado Springs was one of the hotels I was looking at. It looks really nice. Do you recommend the split stay? Was thinking a few nights at a premium resort might be a nice treat.
 

masterpabu

Mouseketeer
Joined
Jan 10, 2018
I would definitely recommend doing a split stay, I think the change of resort/scenery can add extra excitement to the trip 😊 Especially if it won't be another while until the next Disney holiday, absolutely treat yourselves!
(I imagine it'd also be easier when kids are old enough to help pack their own things)
 

loves to dive

DIS Veteran
Joined
Aug 21, 2011
Can't help you with the flight.

September is hot and rainy, no way around that. It will be hot and it will rain. Hard to tell about crowds lately. We were there the week of Labor Day this year and it was more crowded than the week before but not as bad as I've seen it in before times.

January will most likely be less crowded but who knows about the weather. I've been in Dec. and Feb. but not Jan. I've been multiple times in Dec. and once in Feb. Some Dec. trips it was warm enough to go to the pool (I've from Georgia so warm enough has to be at least 75 F) and some trips in Dec. we have had to wear scarves, coats and gloves. The Feb. trip was just downright cold and it rained part of the time. So, I would think Jan. would be the same, be prepared for anything.

Coming from overseas, I would think the higher end of 7-10 days would be best. Frankly, I go at least twice a year and sometimes 3 times a year and 6 days is never enough for me.

CSR is my favorite moderate. Now that they have the tower and more food options, it's pretty close to a deluxe. I'm staying there in Dec. but not in the tower.

I love split stays, you get the best of both worlds without the price of staying the entire time at a Deluxe. Your kids will be able to take care of their own packing and unpacking (or living out of their suitcase if they are like my son). Some will say it wastes park time but we have never found that an issue. We just go to a park on move day and go back to the resort whenever we want, sometimes when we get the room ready text, sometimes not. Disney will transfer your bags for you but be prepared, they might not get to resort 2 until after 4 or 5 in the afternoon.
 

sjmac42

DIS Veteran
Joined
Aug 15, 2017
We did a trip to WDW in September 2018 and we found the temps rarely got above the low 30’s although we may have been lucky. We were also lucky with the rain, only experiencing rain about 3-4 times in 3+ weeks in Florida. A thunderstorm rolled in one afternoon and closed the pool but we had already enjoyed a couple of hours there and the pool reopened within 2 hours or so and never affected our park days. Again, maybe we were lucky as it’s a tropical climate so summer storms and rain with high heat and humidity can occur. Typical of the tropics though, they are usually afternoon storms that last for a couple of hours or so and can be good to cool things down for the evening. Just use cooling towels, hats and drink plenty of water. We took water bottles we could refill with the free iced water in the parks.
We flew via DFW but typical of domestic flights in the USA our domestic connection was delayed so we ended up arriving at MCO about 5 or 6 hours late so make sure you have protected connections on one PNR for your flights. We called the transfer company from DFW to let them know we’d be late and they were there waiting for us (we were going to Port Canaveral first).
For a 7 night trip, I’d stick with Disney, 10 nights you might be able to do 2-3 days at Universal as well. Universal Orlando is a completely different animal to Universal Hollywood and worth it if you have the time and budget.
I booked through several places depending who was offering the best deals. I rented DVC points for our room at Disney Animal Kingdom Villas through a points broker (David’s DVC rentals). Advantages were getting a deluxe for the price of a moderate, disadvantages are you need to book months in advance, pay in full at time of booking and it is completely non refundable. Worked well for us but of course that was in the before times. For our Disney Cruise, flights, accommodation in Port Canaveral, Florida Keys and Royal Pacific Resort at Universal we went through our travel agent as she sourced some great deals for us. Staying at RPR also gave us unlimited express passes so we could visit the parks, do what we wanted to do quickly and return to the resort (about 10 mins walk) and enjoy some pool time or something else in Orlando (like shopping).
For our tickets we purchased the UK tickets through Orlando Attraction Tickets and American Airlines so had 14 day WDW tickets, 14 day Universal Tickets and Discovery Cove tickets. I don’t believe AA is an option any longer. These 14 day “UK” tickets can be cheaper than the US based multi day tickets depending how many days you are looking at. Usually worth it if you have about 5 days at Disney and between 2 and 3 days at Universal, you’ll need to compare the current prices. They were delivered to us in a few weeks and did give us flexibility as were weren’t limited to a set number of days at each park so we could (and did) visit more often for a shorter period rather than having to do open to close every day.
So we booked through various places but could easily have booked ourselves. We did plenty of research so just told our agent what we wanted and when she came through with the best pricing for parts of our trip, we booked those components through her. Specialists like Dreams Unlimited are another great option of course. Another great resource is the mousesavers.com website. Lots of info and discounts for everything from hotels to car hire.
Sorry for the long post but I hope there are some things there which help you out. Have a great trip.
 

sjmac42

DIS Veteran
Joined
Aug 15, 2017
Another thing to consider is staying at one of the Disney Springs hotels or one of the other “official” partner hotels like Disney Swan/Dolphin, Waldorf Astoria, Four Seasons etc. These can often be had for the same or less than a Disney moderate but still have some of the benefits of staying onsite. Onsite benefits have been significantly eroded over the last year or so making these hotels better value.
https://disneyspringshotels.com/https://www.familyvacationcritic.co...-resorts-with-extra-magic-hours-benefits/art/Things can change of course but these all seem to have some onsite benefits for 2022.
 

masterpabu

Mouseketeer
Joined
Jan 10, 2018
I'll second David's DVC rentals as well! Used them for the first half of my split stay and it was super easy to book (though did it at the 11month mark), though the cost was cheaper back in 2018 than now, definitely still a good option for Deluxe stays. The only downside is they don't have a cancellations/refund policy like DVC Rental Store

I looked at the Swan/Dolphin resorts again recently and was surprised their refurb rooms actually aren't bad lol and the new Swan Reserve that's opening soon looks very nice too
 

aussiecookfamily

Earning My Ears
Joined
Nov 26, 2012
I'm another vote for looking into renting DVC points, the first time we paid cash at a Deluxe before we knew about DVC and never again. It might even be worth looking at renting a 1-Bedroom (at least for the second half), with a laundry, full kitchen and 2 bathrooms (if you pick the right resort) it does prove very useful particularly with teenage kids. Our first trip we did 10 days, which allowed a couple of days at Universal, and a bit of downtime (trips since then have varied from 1 - 3 weeks).

We have gone both via LA and via Dallas, I think the key is to look for flights/connections that get you to Orlando in the afternoon, so that you can have dinner and head to bed, otherwise it is a LONG LONG day.
 

Sugarglider

DIS Veteran
Joined
Mar 20, 2009
I am really late to this party however I suspect I may be able to give you some more info.

I have been to WDW multiple times - the last was January 2020 - so ....to answer your questions:

- I much prefer transiting through Dallas FW and onwards to MCO. Might be just me .... I prefer having the first flight be as long as possible - I sit there and have a nice time with food and movies and sleep. Then the last step to MCO is only a 3 hour flight and the transfer time is tight. That 2nd flight doesn't feel like a struggle. Flying through LAX is only 12 hours and then to MCO is 6 hours - really breaks up your ability to sleep and the 6 hour flight feels really long. Also, DFW is a really easy airport - not overly crowded - a little train to take you to the other terminal etc. LAX was a nightmare last time I was there - once I walked / another time rode a little bus to get to the other terminal - HUGE crowds - overbearing security etc I now avoid LAX. to be fair - I have golden handcuffs with Qantas so I haven't flown with anyone else

2. Sept is technically hurricane season - so it can be hot and sticky and the crowds are lowish. January is winter - very dry and cold to medium. Up north can be having their arctic vortex conditions which leads to days like 13 degrees in FL - I thought I was back in Canberra! Also some really pleasant 20-ish days - nights cold. Probably a bit colder than Sydney winter. January has been having the Festival of the Arts which draws more people on weekends (I went for this festival) but found it very managable. Also - I preplanned EVERYTHING - not a spontaneous holiday - every meal, every park, every fastpass was prebooked so I had a very easy time getting everything I wanted without queuing.

3. the longer the better. I have been staying for 2 weeks most times I go - soooo much to do. I tried doing WDW in one week but it was too tiring - I was exhausted and couldn't walk in the end. Epcot = 2 days, MK = 2 days, AK = 1 day, HS = 1 day, AND I do recommend Harry Potter at Universal = 1 day at least (plus I go shopping to the Outlet Malls, visit the Zoo and kayak the river, Cape Canaveral, visit people etc)

4. Renting DVC point is GREAT. I have had success with private deals with people off this board, David's is great, Scott at D V C Rentals has given me several great deals - there are multiple safe ways to get the points. I like OKW cause the 1 bedroom villa is really large - pull out beds in the lounge room, full kitchen, split bathroom and cheap. Carribean is really really spread out - LOTS of walking. Coronado Springs is a bit easier to navigate. Hotel wise - people seem to like Port Orleans but I have not stayed there. This board and a million Disney blogs (AllEars.net esp) can help you with photos / videos and ratings to choose. I have not kept up with all the recent pricing changes at WDW - Sept and January used to be priced similarly - Mousesavers webpage can show you the typical historical prices.

5. I have booked everything myself - never been an issue - but I want to plan everything - part of the fun for me.

Enjoy your trip - I hope you get to go and it is safe and good fun!
 

DramaGeek

Earning My Ears
Joined
Aug 2, 2011
I would suggest booking your flights all the way through from SYD to MCO for a few reasons:
1. The security of being booked on one ticket means if your flight is delayed or something goes wrong the airline is responsible for getting you on a connecting flight. If you miss a connection on 2 seperate tickets you have to sort it all out yourself and most likely pay for the privilege.
2. Baggage. On your international ticket you will have baggage included on all legs booked on that ticket even if they are domestic legs. American airlines charge through the nose (in my opinion) for checked baggage - and some low cost carriers even charge for carry on! There are a few exceptions to this rule like Southwest though.
3. Cost: I've found 9/10 times when you convert the cost of the domestic leg into MCO into AUD it just makes more sense to have it all booked on one ticket. Even if its a little more once you account for the cost of checked bags and the peace of mind it affords it all works out in the wash.

I've been to WDW in Sept and Dec/Jan. I prefer the heat so I really enjoyed Sept (I would say its like a QLD summer hot and muggy) - plus you get food and wine festival. You can easily plan around afternoon showers with an app like accuweather. I would say crowds are about the same at both times - just use a good touring plan and you'll have no issues.

I'd agree that 10-14 days would be ideal to really try and do everything especially with kids and in sept you'd want to take advantage of the pools/resorts.

We have been renting points from DVC Rental Store for our last few trips which allows us to get Deluxe Resorts at Value pricing and access to a small kitchen which is great for fast/cheap breakfasts on the way to rope drop. They also have a credit/refund policy which given these current times gives me great peace of mind. We then just book our tkts on the WDW website once our DVC reservation is confirmed in MDE.
 

Dreams&wishes

Mouseketeer
Joined
Nov 22, 2019
I wouldn't go in Jan either. Part of the appeal of WDW are the water attractions, water parks the beautiful resort pools. Yes Sept might have some small showers but they are 'hot' showers January is cold, I was using my down jacket, so you won't be able to make the most of the park. An alternative good time would be May.
When we went we stayed 21 days and we would have stayed longer! Compared to Disneyland, which is a theme park, WDW is a destination! It was great to spend time relaxing at our hotel feeling like we were in an Polynesian resort and experience everything with no rush. I would do 10 to 14 days if I were you, no less.
 







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