Planning 1st trip to Dinney- wanting much frugal advice...



We are a family of 5 (kids ages 11, 4 and 3) - planning our first trip to Disney- we are thinking about November, what is the weather like then? Is swimming on the beach too cold ? Is hurricane season past? How busy is it? Has anyone stayed in the "Magic Castle Inn & Suites"??? Looking for the "cheapest" hotels, suites we can find within 10 miles of Disney or Universal? When I look for Budget hotels on these sites, they hardly list anything! Does the parks close early in Nov? And is it beneficial to buy the Magic Card? Will the benefits cover the whole family?? All these other things about the Disney Store, and points etc, I don't understand what anyone is talking about..? We are a VERY frugal family, need all the ADVANCE advice we can get... thank you very much..
November should still be warm and is considered lower season so the crowds souldn't be so bad. If you want to stay on site, you might want to check into a moderate resort; I think All-stars resorts only sleep four but you can ask. Even if you book now, and a discount comes out later, you can probably rebook and then cancel the first reservation. Consider bidding Priceline if you're willing to stay outside the park and there is a site for more info on that.

There's also another site which I don't seem to have bookmarked that alerts you to discounts at Dis. Can somebody help me out?

If you are able to stay on property, you are able to book priority seatings 60 out from your planned dining experience which helps especially with smaller children. They can be expensive but at some of the restaurants, you may be able to meal share. There are tons tips on taking snacks here and a site for local coupons:

You can also find hints about renting a car through Priceline. A lot of people use bus system but I've found it more convenient to rent a car so I get where I want when I want but on the other hand, it may not be such a problem in November.
I don't know what rate you got for the Magic Castle, but I would put another vote in for Priceline as well. You can get a really nice hotel at a very good rate. Use the link posted above and scroll down to Orlando/Disney World. You will see the deals others have gotten.

I used it last year for my DW vacation plus other trips as well and have never been disappointed.

Check for coupons for discounts for hotels. The Sleep Inn Maingate on 192 is a fairly new and nice, inexpensive ($34-$39) place to stay. The Extended Stay America on Westwood Boulevard is also a clean, safe place. We've stayed at both places, as well as the Hampton Inn on Universal Blvd., which we also liked. The Sleep Inn and Hampton Inn both served continental breakfasts.
I TOTALLY understand the trying to save money while at Disney! We are taking our family of five (ages 12, 9 and 5) in June and this is NOT going to be a cheap trip! Priceline is a great way to get an inexpensive room, however, they DO only guarantee bedding for two. With five, you may run into trouble! Beware of some of the REALLY inexpensive sis and I went together 3 years ago and stayed at a Howard Johnsons on 192 that was just downright scary! Have you thought about renting a private home or condo? The little extra money it costs will be made up in meals you are able to eat at home as well as the "luxury" (?) of being able to do laundry. With little ones, it is WONDERFUL to have the extra space to play and a big bonus at bedtime! I'm looking forward to getting away from the crowd mentality each night.
Also, something we are thinking of doing is attending a timeshare presentations to get free Disney tickets. Yeah, they are annoying, but if you can get past that, you are saving a WAD of money!
Although it would be WONDERFUL to do Disney "First Class", I personally can not justify the cost. Guess I'm just cheap! :)
- CindyV
We are going in August 2 adults and 3 teenage boys. We are rentinn a house we found through in Kissimmee area for $550 for the week. Saturday to saturday. It has 4 bedrooms and 2 baths and a screened in pool in the back . This was the best way to go for us as far as cost goes. Breakfast and dinner in, and a big meal at lunchtime where ever we may be for the day. There is also a washer and dryer so figured i could throw a load in in the morning and dont have to pack quite as many clothes. If you want to check out the homes, go to Search for #838. This is a 3 bedroom home this owner has and there is a link to his site with other homes on it. Granted i havent gone yet, but it looks nice and i talked to the management company that upkeeps it. Seemed like a deal to me!!
Just a couple of hints from me to you:

Take a couple of backpacks into the parks...bring your own drinks...(freeze them the nite before)..water, juice, etc...
Also take some snacks..cut up veggies..chips..peanut butter & jelly sandwiches...whatever will stand up to the heat of the day...this will save you a ton on meals...
Also...beware of the type of tickets that you buy...DO NOT purchase tickets for things that you will not use...just do a little research ahead of time in regard to tickets....keep reading this board....AND...
with that being said:.........HAVE FUN!!!!!!!!!!!
Last year in May we stayed at the Days Inn Lakeside for $27 (not including tax)a night for a couple of days before we stayed in DisneyWorld. It is only 1-2 miles from Universal and about 6 miles from Disney. To get this rate we had to get the Orlando Magicard. It is a discount card offering discounts on many different things and it was free. I don't know if this program is still available but I got it through the Visitors Bureau. In the park we stayed at All-Stars, the most inexpensive but they are small. Keep in mind that the sales tax on your lodging is pretty expensive (I think it is 11% but I'm sure someone out there knows!). We went really cheap on lodging so that we could spend more on meals - you won't believe how hungry you get!
Have you considered camping? Fort Wilderness is very nice and you are on disney property with all the perks.

I would avoid Magic Castle. I had a very yucky experience there two years ago, although others on this board have had better experiences there.

Disney IS a Life Skill!
on this board so I think that you will be definitely fine like other families that have stayed here. They have regular rooms along with suites which feature refridgerators so you wiil be able to store things in your room and save some money on meals by eating in on some of the time.

Also, this hotel is very close to Disney and provides a free continental breakfast each morning so you won't have to pay for it elsewhere unless you want to and even has the Disney channel for your kids like most offsite hotels that I have read about. Their website is and they are running an internet special according to their site so it might be worth checking out for savings.

When you pass different shopping venues and restaurants you will see stands outside which have coupon books that save money on all kinds of restaurants, shopping, and area activities.
Another thing to save money is eating at the buffets at Ponderosa, Sizzler, Golden Corral, and Shoney's. They have an excellent variety of delecious food and fanatstic service at great prices.

Before you leave home you can pack as many nonperishable snacks as you can such as cereal, chips, cookies/crackers, peanuts, etc. Most area restaurants have regular lunch menus that are cheaper than dinner so some days you may want to eat a big lunch but have a light dinner instead because it won't cost as much.

If you decide to make a grocery stop I would highly recommend going to any of the 'Publix'
grocery stores because they have had the lowest prices in comparison. Additionally, you can stop on over at the Super Wal-Mart on 192 for food and miscellaneous things you may need. They have a great assortment of Disney souvenirs and other items for the whole family which are not as high in price.

Another highly recommended suite hotel would be the 'Holiday Inn Family Suites' which is close to Disney that has free continental breakfasts along with fridge/microwave. Also, the 'Comfort Suites Maingate East' received good reviews which also have refridgerators, free breakfasts, and microwaves for the entire family.

I hope you enjoy Disney!

[This message was edited by deena on 04-22-01 at 11:47 PM.]
Thanks so much for everyone's response to some questions..I'm afraid of Priceline because WE CAN'T be flexible, this has to be planned months in advance due to jobs, kids, etc. I really don't know much about Priceline- If we were retired and could just pick up and go - I KNOW we'd choose that route. And we also plan on driving down in a rental car- it will take us 18 hrs to get there, so I don't think we're up for "camping". Although we've definetly done that to "save" on other trips. I still have questions about this Magic Card, I thought it always cost something?? How did you get it for free? Days Inn Lakeside sounds wonderful...keep these posts coming on these low- cost hotels & suites, we just want the cheapest (for a family of 5) that is "decent" for sleeping, showering and "SAFETY"- ya know not a crime section or anything. Is certain areas to stay "safer" than others???? If you had a "Bad" experience, please tell it. A microwave and maybe a pool (my 11 yr old wants this) is all we really care to have for "extras". It seems most hotels have a pool outside- is November warm enough to swim outside?????? Thanks in advance!! :)
I have never used priceline before but have been to their site and read other peoples' experiences on this board. It seems that once the bidding process starts for hotel rooms (along with any thing else) and they find a qualifying match that meets the requirements of your stated price, amenities, and dates then your credit card is automatically charged on the spot.

You have no control over what particular type of property that you will receive so I heard its' basically a luck of the draw as far as what each individual 'specifically' receives. But, lots of people have had great success and rewards in huge savings using them so they may work for you. Also, there are no refunds given back after the bid is completed and I remember reading that they do have a cancellation fee (don't recall how much it is).

As far as the Orlando Magic Card there is absolutely no fee for requesting the card; it is distributed by the Orlando/Orange County Visitors and Tourism Bureau. You can fill out a reply form on their website at and you will receive it in the mail in a couple of weeks. They will also give you a listing of restaurants and other places that accept the card to receive discounts. We had one that we used for our trip last year and found it great in saving money.

I have never been down to WDW in November (always have gone in August) but lots of people are down that time of the year and are able to swim. I know that most hotels in the area do have heated pools so guests can swim comfortably all year round no matter what season it happens to be. But, it may be best if you are not sure to check ahead of time and see that your hotel does have a heated pool.

I don't feel that you will have any concerns with crime while visiting as long as you just follow the "normal" precautions that you would if you were at home (not being on vacation). I have been to Orlando/Kissimmee many years now going down to WDW and have never felt unsafe or in danger for myself as well as family members. I think that as long as your hotel is within the middle of the heavily populated 'tourists areas' (meaning there is definitely safety in numbers no matter what) you will be o.k.

All of the maingate hotels along Irlo Bronson/U.S. 192 as well as on surrounding International Drive areas are always "full" of yearly vacationing families with children that are there to enjoy Disney. We always have found this area to be very clean, peaceful, and respectable during all of my visits; never had a negative encounter or bad experience staying in this vicinity for many years (so, you do not have anything to fear along those lines).

I hope this helps and you have a great vacation!
Re the swimming part:

I am planning a December 2002 visit and when I posted this query..EVERY response was the same...
Florida weather at that time of year is very difficult to predict...80's one day...60's the next...course my dd's always think its warm enough to swim...especially in Fla!!!
Check to see if the pool is heated as suggested above...AND...have a great time!!!!!! ;)
I would suggest considering making a small investment in the Entertainment book. Buy the Orlando version, the web site is at and each book is full of savings. You can get a great rate at a hotel using the card, plus the book is full of coupons for restaurants, shows, attractions, etc. The last time I went to Florida I was armed with my Entertainment book, Orlando Magic card, AAA card, Disney Club card, my Disney annual pass, and lots of coupons... Everywhere I went I asked if there were any discounts given, and I saved a fortune...
I hope you have a great time !!! :D
Mary waring's site has info on staying off site:

explore the other links from her page (at the bottom) -- there is a lot of good info!

The orlando magicard is free, as posted above. Maybe you are thinking of the Disney Club card? That is $39 and I don't think it has many real benefits for anyone! It does offer 10% off Disney store purchases.

The magicard gives you discounts for hotels & restaurants outside of the walt disney world property. It is free, so you should get one :)

Are you an AAA member? If so, ask for their florida hotel guides. It lists mosts hotels in the area & has maps so you can compare locations. Very helpful for planning!

The go2orlando discount email has good rates. sign up here

[This message was edited by Gillian on 04-25-01 at 10:16 AM.]
Look into Comfort Suites Maingate East for a great place to stay. Two large rooms separated by a half-wall. Bedroom area has 2 queen beds, livingroom area has double sofa bed. Nice pool, fabulous free breakfast buffet, fridge, microwave, coffeemaker in room, big bathroom. We paid 58.50 plus tax per night in January. Check or for rates. Although I've had good experiences with priceline, their hotel bids guarantee double occupancy, not two (or more) beds, so you could end up with not enough sleeping space! We also stayed at holiday villas; the 3br villa was $109/nite in Oct. 1999, 2br was cheaper, and the living rooms have 2 queen sized sofa beds in them! go to for current rates. I've travelled alot with little kids, and have found that they don't get the idea of the "big meal"- you know, a huge b'fast and then skip lunch, don't eat again til supper? We tried that once, figuring that we'd have a 9:30ish character buffet at Crystal Palace, skip lunch, have a snack mid-afternoon and then counter service dinner. Didn't work- DD ate one piece of toast and a glass of OJ for b'fast (for $9), 'cuz that's how much she always eats for b'fast! Now we do b'fast in the hotel, fast food in the parks for lunch and dinner. Sit down restaurants get pretty pricey at WDW, and we don't like to leave the parks for meals- takes too much time with two little kids. Time is money in WDW, so maximize your time and you'll get the most for your money. Take frozen juice boxes and water bottles into the park; also fruit snax and chewy granola bars, raisins are ok but sticky, peanuts get too salty. We are pretty frugal about our trips but try to schedule one character meal during the trip- they are a real experience! Remember that the kids are going to love everything, and you can't do it all. On our first trip, on Magic Kingdom day we never got out of FantasyLand! Souveniers can be held to a minimum- character tattoos, compressed washcloths, character pens, etc. can all be had for around $3. Pressed pennies are also a good deal- for 51 cents you have a nifty souvenier! DD loves 'em, and my three year old niece thinks they're great too! I think it's reasonable to budget $6/person/counter service meal, and $3/person /snack (ice cream bar, pretzel, etc.). Cheap souveniers in Epcot are available in the China pavillion. ALSO, good souvenier from Epcot, for FREE, are the craft stations (kid spots?) that they have at each pavillion. DD made a mask in Mexico, did weaving in Morocco, etc. We enjoyed these more than the passport stamp books that cost $10 each! Have fun!


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