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I need some advice. This isn't my first Disney rodeo, but this is our first trip with a larger party, and I'm having trouble deciding what to book. We will be traveling with my dd and dsil and will have military discounts, as well as the option of staying in Shades of Green.

 

There will be 7 or 8 of us plus dgs (he will be 16 months). What I'm looking at is one of the following:

 

Old Key West Villa (2 br, 2 ba, sleeps 8, full kitchen, w/d, etc.) - we have no experience with these accommodations so I'm interested to read others' experiences. The Disney rep told me these villas are 300 sq ft larger than other villas.

 

AKL Villas (Kitana I think) - similar accommodations as above - LOVE AKL so we know we'd love it, but I'm wondering if it's worth a full thousand more than OKW for similar accommodations.

 

2 regular rooms at Port Orleans FQ - obviously this wouldnt be like having the full villa, but it is $1400 cheaper than OKW and $2400 cheaper than AKL.

 

As much as we want to go all out, I just need to weigh the pros and cons - can i get some input?

 

And military members, is Shades of Green a comparable option?

 

**I have added some more questions on page 3**

Edited by StaceyinLA
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Have you considered looking at the Tree House Villas (by the Saratoga resort)? They sleep up to 9, while the all the other 2 bedroom villa suites only sleep up to 8. In addition, I believe that the T.H. villas have 3 bedrooms - not 100% on that, though. I don't know that the bus service is as convenient. You should look at Saratoga, too. Nice large rooms.

 

The first week of December is a great time to go. 2 things to be aware of:

- it is a slightly more crowded week than the 2nd week of Dec b/c of the PopWarner superbowl. Expect lots of pre/teens. And lots of cheerleaders. LOTS. :/ You can't go anywhere without lots of cheering.

 

- They will tape the Disney Christmas parade either the 1st or 2nd Saturday of Dec. MK will be *insanely* crowded that day, fyi.

 

I've never stayed at SoG, so I can't answer a "SoG vs. Key West" type question, but I will say the villas are nice.

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I'm bumping this for you! I have no clue about the bigger places, but my family always stays in two rooms at POR. We just love it there. It's really quiet. The pools are gorgeous. The rooms are a bit small, but we aren't in them much! I understand they are renovating them this summer, so maybe they'll be even nicer than I remember!

 

Have fun!

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We just stayed last week at kidani village and while it is GORGEOUS I doubt we would pay what they want. We are Vacation Club members so we don't "pay" for accomodations. Treehouse villas are really hard to get and they have nothing around them to entertain kids. OKW is bigger. They were the first resort and have been redone. I would go with what is cheaper. Yes you save money on food if you cook in the villa but you also pay more per night. What about Port Orleans French Quarter? That is a moderate and my favorite(when we stay out of DVC). There is also a suite style hotel on the Blvd within walking distance of Downtown that might hold you all. I know the villas are anywhere from $400- $1000 per night depending on the size. You could do 2 studios as well. That would sleep 8 and give you kitchenettes with microwaves, sinks, mini fridge, and disposable dishes and stuff. That would be cheaper. You don't spend much time in the room anyway, right?

OKW should be the cheapest since it cost us less points. Saratoga has had the worst bus service we have experienced. Kidani is far from almost all of the parks and can be slow too. I would stay at OKW, Boardwalk, or even try for Bay Lake towers at the Contemporary since it won't be prime swimming season. Good luck!!

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Keep in mind that Shades of Green is NOT a true Disney resort, so little perks like early park entrance do not apply to you if you stay there.

True. That is also the day that we avoid those parks since they tend to be the most crowded though.;)

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I'm new here and this is my first post, but I feel like this is something that I can actually contribute to. :) We have stayed at SOG a few times. You do get extra magic hours when staying there, but you don't get Magical Express and you can't add the dining plan. We would always pick SOG over a moderate (POFQ in your case). The rooms are very big (only the grand Floridian has bigger standard rooms), it's interior corridors and the rooms have a balcony or patio.

 

If I were choosing between the ones that you listed I would pick the Animal Kingdom Villas in a heartbeat. We stayed at AKL in 2009 and loved it (as did our girls). It's truly a beautiful resort, and you will have both pool areas to play in (the AKV one as well as the AKL one). There are some great kids activities there as well. (here is a sample of what they offer: http://www.aklresort.com/content/2011-september-activities-guide?size=_original )After that OKW, then SOG with POFQ last on the list. I put OKW before SOG because of the space, the kitchen, and the washer/dryer.

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or even try for Bay Lake towers at the Contemporary since it won't be prime swimming season.

 

For what it's worth, we had a big problem with the 2 bedroom BLT villas. We were a party of 8 (9 with a baby), 6 adults, 2 kids, and we chose BLT because of the location and the extra bathroom (2 bedrooms, 3 bathrooms). They are absolutely GORGEOUS (and we even had a MK park view!), however, the 3rd bathroom off of the living room doesn't offer any privacy. All the bathrooms have sliding pocket-type doors, but they don't "seal" all the way around. In other words, there is a good 1/4 - 1/2" gap all the way around the door. You can see and hear everything. For the poor couple that had to use that as the bathroom, it was very awkward. None of the bathrooms have courtesy fans either. :glare:

 

I don't know if Disney addressed it or not - this was BIG issue for the DVC members who had bought into BLT, and it's been a couple years since we went. I'd be surprised if they'd spent money to refurb the doors less than 5 years in...

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The dvc villas are all nice. If you all want to be together and have a lot of family time this is a great way to go. This is especially true if you prefer to do some of your own food prep. With 9 people you can save a lot of money and still have really nice food but someone has to want to do it. You can also have the meal plan if you are at any Disney resort which is cost saving if you plan to eat at the resorts.

 

SOG does have some suites. You should find out what they contain and availibility. Someone told me that they are great but no personal knowledge. The regular rooms are quite nice. There is a small refrigerater and table in each room. If you plan to spend most of your time in the parks this is a great option. The transportation isn't great. You can walk to the Magic Kingdom and connect there.

 

The SOG restaurants are usually a good value. No meal plans. But we it have eaten there a lot and enjoyed it.

 

I hope this helps.

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I'd go with Old Key West. We LOVE it there. We're DVC members and it is one of our home resorts....

As for the Treehouse Villas - they would be perfect for you, but I wouldn't plan on being able to book one.

Kidani at AKL is fantastic, but only worth the extra money if you will have the time to sit out on your balcony and watch the zebras. I would not go there and get a standard view room..... Cheaper to stay elsewhere - and the big 'pop' comes from having the animals off your own balcony.

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We've been to Disney twice with large groups and found that our best option was to rent a house nearby. On our last visit, we had 14 people (7 adults & 7 kids). We rented a 7 bedroom house in Emerald Isle with pool and hot tub for $1400 for a week. We booked through homeaway.com and they have tons of houses to choose from.

 

Enjoy your trip!

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I would suggest looking at the "armed forces vacation club" website. You can get a week at a condo for $349 or less with A full kitchen. You can often find them to sleep 8 or more. We have had great experiences with the site. The condos will offer a tour (sales pitch) and we just say no thanks and that's it. We've never had a problem with hard sells.

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A couple of things to add to the mix.

 

The cabins in Ft. Wilderness, possibly 2 suites or 3 regular rooms in the new Art of Animation (a new value resort). I know it'll be tacky, but it IS an option we would consider. 2 suites gives us 4 bathrooms total plus sleeping for 12. 3 rooms gives us 3 bathrooms and sleeping for 12 (and will most certainly be the cheapest option, though that isn't my primary concern).

 

I do appreciate suggestions for off-property accommodations, but it isn't one of my options. We want to be on site. We are bringing Disney newbies (SIL and soon-to-be SIL) and I want them to get the whole experience!

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I can't say much for the value resorts, but I've stayed at AKL and BLT and we really liked them. Also, have a friend that loves OKW.

 

For a big party, the villas are probably the best way to do it. All of them come with a kitchen so you could save food costs if you eat in for two meals (brkfst and dinner maybe).

 

Disney is so much fun- blessings on your preparation!

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We rented a private vacation home when we went to Disney last May with 8 adults and 2 kids. It was easier to rent a 6 BR house than to deal with multiple rooms, etc. We had a fully stocked kitchen and pool out back in a gated community. I highly recommend it for big groups. There are tons of rental by owner places and private rental home companies. The place we rented was only 15 minutes away from the Magic Kingdom too and was tricked out with granite, stainless steel, and Pottery Barn decor.

 

We've also stayed at Shades of Green and you CAN...I REPEAT CAN...use your SOG room keys and discount tickets to access extra magic hours. It is on Disney property and is treated just like the Contemporary or Polynesian. It's not all Disney-fied, but that didn't matter to me. Being close enough to take the kids for naps and swims in the afternoon was priceless! You don't have easy access to the monorail from SoG (which is nice for 1st seating at Cinderella's castle for breakfast) but it only took us 10 minutes to walk to the Polynesian stop. No biggy.

 

Good luck with your planning. Book your character meals asap!

Edited by Sneezyone
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Keep in mind that Shades of Green is NOT a true Disney resort, so little perks like early park entrance do not apply to you if you stay there.

 

Do you mean the Extra Magic Hours? We stayed at Shades and were able to go in early & stay late each day with no problem. The only thing I know of that you can't do w/Shades is the dining plan, which was totally ok with us.

 

Shades has some of the largest rooms as it used to be an all suites Disney property. We've stayed there twice and if (really, I'm hoping it's WHEN) we go back, we'll definitely stay there again. For the price, you can't beat it (imo).

 

ETA: I didn't read through the replies and see the Extra Magic Hour info has been noted already. :) But I will say we never had a problem with the SOG transportation. The bus drivers were friendly & on time. We also walked reguarly to the Polynesian to hop on the monorail. Fun!

Edited by TN Mama
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A couple of things to add to the mix.

 

The cabins in Ft. Wilderness, possibly 2 suites or 3 regular rooms in the new Art of Animation (a new value resort). I know it'll be tacky, but it IS an option we would consider. 2 suites gives us 4 bathrooms total plus sleeping for 12. 3 rooms gives us 3 bathrooms and sleeping for 12 (and will most certainly be the cheapest option, though that isn't my primary concern).

 

I do appreciate suggestions for off-property accommodations, but it isn't one of my options. We want to be on site. We are bringing Disney newbies (SIL and soon-to-be SIL) and I want them to get the whole experience!

 

Oh fun! Disney newbies! And you get to show it all to them for the first time. Lucky you!

 

How do you do Disney? Are you get-up-in-the-morning-and-get-to-the-park-as -early-as-possible? Or are you spend-some-time-in-the-room people? We don't spend much time in the room, so the number of bathrooms wouldn't be a huge consideration for us.

 

If you're staying on property - consider the dining plan. Disney just announced it for certain times in the fall. That'll get you your meals free. (If you stay at the value, you'll only get counter service meals though. That's one reason we upgrade - better food!)

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Keep in mind that Shades of Green is NOT a true Disney resort, so little perks like early park entrance do not apply to you if you stay there.

 

I know this has been addressed, but even though it's not technically *on* the property, it is part of the Disney resorts. Also, I don't think anyone mentioned this yet, but tickets were discounted when bought at SOG, with a military ID.

 

SOG does have some suites. You should find out what they contain and availibility. Someone told me that they are great but no personal knowledge. The regular rooms are quite nice. There is a small refrigerater and table in each room. If you plan to spend most of your time in the parks this is a great option. The transportation isn't great. You can walk to the Magic Kingdom and connect there.

 

The SOG restaurants are usually a good value. No meal plans. But we it have eaten there a lot and enjoyed it.

 

I hope this helps.

 

:iagree: with everything but the bit about transportation. We never had issue with transport. There were regular busses to the rail system or you could walk to the Polynesian.

 

 

We've also stayed at Shades of Green and you CAN...I REPEAT CAN...use your SOG room keys and discount tickets to access extra magic hours. It is on Disney property and is treated just like the Contemporary or Polynesian. It's not all Disney-fied, but that didn't matter to me. Being close enough to take the kids for naps and swims in the afternoon was priceless!

 

Good luck with your planning. Book your character meals asap!

 

:iagree:

 

Do you mean the Extra Magic Hours? We stayed at Shades and were able to go in early & stay late each day with no problem. The only thing I know of that you can't do w/Shades is the dining plan, which was totally ok with us.

 

Shades has some of the largest rooms as it used to be an all suites Disney property. We've stayed there twice and if (really, I'm hoping it's WHEN) we go back, we'll definitely stay there again. For the price, you can't beat it (imo).

 

ETA: I didn't read through the replies and see the Extra Magic Hour info has been noted already. :) But I will say we never had a problem with the SOG transportation. The bus drivers were friendly & on time. We also walked reguarly to the Polynesian to hop on the monorail. Fun!

 

:iagree: and just wanted to say :seeya: Hi Laura!!

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Oh here is another thing to consider about Kidani. It is LONG. We were first put down in the 7th building from the lobby and actually walked it off as being almost 600 strides mile from the lobby!!! Plus we were put overlooking the smaller savanna......no zebra and giraffe back there.:glare:

I requested a move and we got one but that messed with our Magical Express reservations so that was a bit of a pain at the last minute.

We have been several times in December and I can tell you that Wilderness Lodge and Beach Club were both very hard to get full weeks at. We ended up room hopping which is fine b/c they move all of your stuff for you.

You may want to request Jambo house so that your walk is not INSANE.

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get-up-and-head-to-the-parks kinda family. Of course, this is the first time we will be going with a little one in a while, but I think that'll just make our days shorter, or afternoon napping a reality; it shouldn't keep us out of the parks bright and early.

 

We ARE taking the two days off from the parks so we will spend a bit more time in the rooms than usual I think.

 

Also, we are definitely doing the dining plan, but I don't think we will get free dining in early December. Our plan right now is to pay for it since we will be taking advantage of 40% off rooms if they extend the military discount. Also, my gift to my kids/kids-in-law is the room and the passports. The older ones are responsible for their dining plans.

 

Also, SoG is definitely NOT a Disney-owned property. It is ON the grounds, but not owned by Disney. Since we are planning to do the dining plan, it is no longer a viable option.

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Keep in mind that Shades of Green is NOT a true Disney resort, so little perks like early park entrance do not apply to you if you stay there.

 

Yes they do - we just went this last fall and stayed at SOG. We had access to all the perks (early entrance, open late hours) *EXCEPT* meal plans. I have never done Disney before so I can't compare, but I did really like the hotel. The rooms were just hotel rooms, but the prices were very good so I'm not complaining at all.

 

ETA: should have read through first - redundant info!

 

One more idea - if you aren't POSITIVE you want to stay at Disney - I was just looking at AFVC . com and they have all sorts of condos for 369.00/week. They sleep up to 8 and most have full kitchens. I think that's what we'll do next time.

Edited by TXMomof4
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Here are a few other options you may not have thought about:

 

1. One of you buy a premium annual pass. The hotel room savings runs about 30 to 40% per night which on a 5 to 7 night stay will pay for itself, especially if you are thinking about 2 rooms or a villa. You will also get 20% off merchandise if you remember to pull out your card and ask. (Regular annual pass only gives 10% off).

 

2. You can purchase a Tables in Wonderland card for about $75 or $80. This will allow up to 8 people eating at the same time 20% off of food purchases. It doesn't include alcohol. But when you are feeding as many people as you are, this might be a good option for you. All Disney owned sit down restaurants are included. Counter service is not included. People would have to eat together as one cannot share the card with others.

 

3. Landry's has a similar card which covers their restaurants. It costs $25 and the $25 is given back to you on the first visit. It covers Yak & Yeti, Trek, and Rainforest Cafe. These restaurants will give you 10% off if you have an annual pass even without their own Landry's card.

 

Personally, if I were in your shoes, I'd go with the cheapest option at Port Orleans Riverside. The rooms are very small, but the charm of the resort is unequaled. One can ride boats to downtown Disney, fish, swim, jog, rent Surrey bikes, and ride a horse and carriage. There will be plenty of things to do the two days you are having down time. And there are some cute gazebos for the kiddos to pretend play.

 

The first week in December has recently become one of the busiest weeks of the year. It seems a ton of companies have discovered it to be a good week for conventions. The second week is hit or miss depending on how many conventions are scheduled that week. January and February have less crowds, but there is more risk with the weather.

 

Happy planning. You can check out the DisBoards for specific questions as well.

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We have stayed at the Port Orleans French Quarter several times and enjoyed it. The rooms are bigger than value, but still not huge. It is nice to be able to take the riverboat to Downtown Disney. We have also stayed at Shades of Green. The rooms are HUGE! We were very happy with our stay there.

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Or Beach Club villas? How are those and how's the travel to the parks from those?

 

As far as crowds, it's still got low rates so crowd levels shouldn't be too bad. We have decided on the second week. January would be great, but we wanna go when it's decorated for Christmas, and when rides are less likely to be closed for refurbishing.

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Or Beach Club villas? How are those and how's the travel to the parks from those?

 

The BC villas would be my first choice again with a young child (having taken my 5 and 3 year olds there many years ago). Here's why:

 

1. Quick in and out of Epcot - you have a "back" entrance by the World Showcase, and you can walk down to Future World or the monorail. Monorail for us is a must with a stroller. Minimizing the in/out, up/down of strollers is key.

 

2. Most of the really good meals (at least in our humble opinons!) is at Epcot. The proximity to your hotel after a nice dinner with a tired toddler in a stroller is wonderful! And while everyone else is dragging their tired selves to wait in the long bus lines after the Fireworks show, you're just steps from a comfy bed.

 

3. We only used the bus transportation once or twice from BC. All other times we used the monorail to the Transportation center.

 

With a young child, I would highly, strongly, and opinionatedly recommend the BC villas, Boardwalk villas or BLT villas.

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From the Beach Club Villas you can walk to Epcot or Hollywood Studios. You can also take a boat to both. The bus will take you to other parks and Downtown Disney.

 

You can also rent boats for the fireworks display at Epcot. The boat dock is just in front of The Yacht Club. For a little extra, you can add chocolate covered strawberries to the trip. There's Club May for dining which offers a fun character breakfast. Finally for kiddos about 6 to 10, there is a pirate cruise available. Book very early to get in.

 

You can get a blue print of the rooms by visiting the Disney site. Also several new Disney downloadable apps help make the vacation a breeze.

 

Head out on the Boardwalk at night which makes a big circle in front of the 3 Epcot resorts. The kiddos will enjoy popcorn, musicians, and magicians.

Edited by Minniewannabe
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You might want to check the DVC Points Calculator. Enter your dates and see how many points are needed to stay in any of the resorts you're interested in. Then do some math - it may be less expensive to rent points from an owner (you can do that at MouseOwners) than booking directly through Disney's CRO. Often the rate you pay to rent DVC points is half what you'd pay through Disney, sometimes you can rent points for as little as $8 a point, sometimes up to $13 a point. Early December is not a popular time to go to Disney (low crowds which is great for you!) and points are lower! If you rent, the owner can book your dining reservations for you too.

 

Old Key West has large units, but they're older and getting around to the parks takes longer. It's a compromise resort that still keeps you on-site with the perks of staying on-site. All the two-bedroom units have 2 queen beds in the second bedroom and a king in the master. This resort has a bunch of fun type activities you can do while there.

 

Saratoga Springs is on the same road as Old Key West, it's not as old feeling, but there is less to do there. My only complaint about this resort is the master bathroom doors are truly strange, opening this way and that way, making it odd to get into the bathroom and close the doors!

 

Bay Lake Tower has an awesome location, right on the monorail and also within an easy walk to Magic Kingdom. I stayed here in a dedicated 2 bedroom a couple of years ago (they have dedicated with 2 queens or a lock-off 2-bedroom which is a 1-bedroom + studio that opens to each other) and the bathroom doors didn't close all the way or lock; stayed again last year (3-bedroom) and the bathroom door issue had been resolved.

 

Animal Kingdom, I'd suggest Jambo over Kidani. Kidani has an awesome pool, but Jambo is where everything really is going on. It has dedicated 2-bedroom or lock-off 2-bedrooms too.

 

Beach Club and Boardwalk are both great if you're goign to spend a good amount of time at Epcot; they're both in walking distance....you can also head into Epcot (if you have a park hopper ticket) to catch the monorail to MK. They're smaller units overall, but have great features and things to do. Oh, and you can boat over to Hollywood Studios from either too.

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They just announced free dining!!!! Heehee. Yea. We weren't going to go this year either. We just booked our second trip.

 

Thankfully they haven't announced free dining for early December yet, which is when we normally go. I don't think I have the fortitude to say no....

 

Our last trip, though, we did without the dining plan, and (after 5 other trips ON the plan) I think we've decided we like dining on our own a little better. Plus, it's so difficult to get those ADRs during free dining season.

 

BRAG ALERT: Last time we used the dining plan and before Le Cellier bumped up from 1 point to 2, I got 3 (count 'em, 3) ADRs for Le Cellier. Who's da man? I'm da man. I could bathe in their risotto.

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We have had free dining in the past and really enjoyed it. Last trip we opted for 40% off our room and paid for our meals. I think we came out a little ahead because we are fairly light eaters so we bought a shared meals between us pretty often. We also aren't dessert eaters so that doesn't really factor in for us. Don't get me wrong - we LIKE desserts, maybe even LOVE desserts, but we are likely to buy one and each eat a few bites rather than all get one.

 

All that aside, I think the dining plan just gives you one less headache when you're there - it's paid for and a done deal. I'm trying to make this trip as simplistic as possible.

 

I AM sad that Le Cellier counts as 2 now, but I can't say I'm surprised. I really wanted to get it booked, but I'm not sure we will want to do it. I'll make reservations as soon as I can, and then cancel if we decide against it.

 

I do have a question for more seasoned dining plan users: if you have a 7 night stay, do you get 7 full days of dining? If so, we might be able to pull off one that uses 2 since technically we will only be there 6 full days (the first day we get in late afternoon so we could just do a counter for dinner that night and use that day's sit-down meal as the extra we'd need for Le Cellier.

 

Also, are the character breakfasts still just counted as a single sit-down?

 

Thanks for more food for thought. (no pun intended) I'm leaning toward Beach Club if we do a villa, 2 rooms at POR (recently renovated) if we do a moderate.

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Thankfully they haven't announced free dining for early December yet, which is when we normally go. I don't think I have the fortitude to say no....

 

Our last trip, though, we did without the dining plan, and (after 5 other trips ON the plan) I think we've decided we like dining on our own a little better. Plus, it's so difficult to get those ADRs during free dining season.

 

BRAG ALERT: Last time we used the dining plan and before Le Cellier bumped up from 1 point to 2, I got 3 (count 'em, 3) ADRs for Le Cellier. Who's da man? I'm da man. I could bathe in their risotto.

 

Nice!!! I love Le Cellier. You know lunch is still one dining credit? Last month, we did a lunch there instead of dinner. Yum!!

 

We have had free dining in the past and really enjoyed it. Last trip we opted for 40% off our room and paid for our meals. I think we came out a little ahead because we are fairly light eaters so we bought a shared meals between us pretty often. We also aren't dessert eaters so that doesn't really factor in for us. Don't get me wrong - we LIKE desserts, maybe even LOVE desserts, but we are likely to buy one and each eat a few bites rather than all get one.

 

All that aside, I think the dining plan just gives you one less headache when you're there - it's paid for and a done deal. I'm trying to make this trip as simplistic as possible.

 

I AM sad that Le Cellier counts as 2 now, but I can't say I'm surprised. I really wanted to get it booked, but I'm not sure we will want to do it. I'll make reservations as soon as I can, and then cancel if we decide against it.

 

I do have a question for more seasoned dining plan users: if you have a 7 night stay, do you get 7 full days of dining? If so, we might be able to pull off one that uses 2 since technically we will only be there 6 full days (the first day we get in late afternoon so we could just do a counter for dinner that night and use that day's sit-down meal as the extra we'd need for Le Cellier.

 

Also, are the character breakfasts still just counted as a single sit-down?

 

Thanks for more food for thought. (no pun intended) I'm leaning toward Beach Club if we do a villa, 2 rooms at POR (recently renovated) if we do a moderate.

 

Le Cellier lunch is only one credit. So, you could do your sit down place at lunch and do counter for dinner one night.

 

If you are there for seven nights, you will get seven counter service, seven sit down, and seven snacks. We usually do one meal that takes two credits and then share the counter service meals - eating two CS meals one day to make up the sit down credit. Did that make sense? LOL

 

I'm not sure about all the character breakfasts, but I think most are still one credit. Do a google search . . .

 

We've tried pricing it out - getting the free dining and paying top dollar for the room (which at POR, isn't bad) OR getting the discount on the room and paying for our food. We almost always choose free dining. My boys eat a TON and we choose the really nice expensive places for our sit down meals. Those meals if we paid would cost around $350 - $400 each! So, I think we make out on the dining plan.

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http://www.vrbo.com/40959

 

This home is the exact one we rented with our extended fam. over Christmas 2011. They were FABULOUS. We had a baby in tow as well. They have high chair, 2 strollers, fab. house, pool, etc. It was so great sharing a home, away from the parks, restful!

 

They are wonderful folks and we opted for this instead of being cramped into hotel rooms at SOG. Overall we paid less to split the cost of the house than to each pay for hotel rooms.

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if you have a 7 night stay, do you get 7 full days of dining?

 

Yes. The dining credits are "attached" to your room, not to your tickets. So, if you stay 7 nights, but only get a 6 day ticket, you still get 7 nights of dining points.

 

Also, are the character breakfasts still just counted as a single sit-down?

 

Ahhh, the dreaded <ahem>, I mean BELOVED character breakfasts. Have you done these before? Obviously the biggie is Cinderella's castle - ADRs there are cut throat, and they are a 2 point meal. And I by "meal," I mean the most average food ever. You might try King Akershus Dining Table in Norway (Epcot) - it's princesses, better food (supposedly - we've never eaten here), less points, and greater availability. I've known people to swear off the Castle forever after eating here.

 

Other character dining options:

- Garden Grill (The Land, Epcot) - a rotating restaurant with Mickey, Pluto, Chip & Dale. Dinner only, 1 point, I believe. Family style, decent food.

- Chef Mickey's (Contemporary Hotel) - large buffet style with Mickey, Minnie, Pluto, Goofy, Daisy and Donald. Breakfast & Dinner. Food is marginal.

- Crystal Palace (MK) - Winnie the Pooh and friends. B, L & D. Not been here personally, but is supposed to be among the best for character dining food.

 

There are also a couple other options at some of the hotels, but I am much less familiar with them, so can't give a thumbs up or down: Jiko (?), and Polynesian. One (or both) of them involve Stitch, who we avoid at all costs!

 

Not character dining, but I HIGHLY recommend O'Hana at the Polynesian. Really fantastic food, and lots of fun for the kids. Plus, when they offer the free dining, and if you are a little late in making reservations, you will (typically) have more success finding open ADRs at the hotels.

 

If you want Le Cellier - you MUST be on the phone by 7 am FL time with all the correct buttons pushed on the 180th day prior to your trip. The reservations will be gone within minutes on that day. I kid you not!

 

Disney also has a new policy regarding ADRs - you will now have to give them a credit card number to make a reservation. People were making multiple reservations a day to "cover their bases" on time, what they felt like eating, etc. Most didn't bother to cancel the reservations and just let them hang. As a result, others couldn't make reservations and the restaurants didn't have reliable data on who was coming so as to allow for walk ups. The credit card deposit holds your ADR, and as long as you cancel by a certain date (say, a day before your reservation - but I'm not sure on the specifics), you will get your $ back. Does that make sense?

 

I strongly recommend you check out either http://www.allearsnet.com or http://www.mousesavers.com. Allears lists every menu on the property and can probably better explain the dining plan and reservations than I have.

 

If nothing else makes sense in my message, please just remember this: if you are going to use the dining plan you MUST plan ahead. You MUST make reservations 180 days in advance if there are places you really, really want to go to. I have watched many sad families who assumed that eating at Disney was like it was in the old days, when you could walk up to a restaurant or make reservations that day. The dining plan won't do you much good if you don't get to use it!

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It's really not my preference because I find being tied to reservations annoying. However, we have been to Disney enough times to know how long things take us and about when we'll wrap up at certain parks. In addition, we have allowed ourself a couple of days OUT of the parks for this trip, so we will do out of park locations those days.

 

I am planning to book Le Cellier as SOON as my date arrives. I'll be working on an itinerary (hopefully my Tour Guide Mike details will come up for December before my June ADR date arrives). We will definitely be booking BOMA as well. I'm not sure where else yet, but I'll be working on it!

 

As far as character meals, we will do one breakfast, just for the novelty, most certainly on one of our days off. I was thinking of the Cape May one at the Beach Club. It has gotten good reviews. I wouldn't bother doing a character lunch or dinner since most of that buffet food is just pre-fab and unimpressive.

 

I'm still struggling with my accommodations decision. Beach Club has some serious appeal, as does AKV of course, but doing 3 value rooms does as well. UGH!

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