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Need Disney World hotel help


happyWImom
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We're planning a trip in Feb. & prices aren't out yet, so my research is almost impossible!  But, here is where I need advice.  We need a hotel that offers a suite-preferably 2 bedroom w/ kitchen or kitchenette.  I'm thinking with that criteria, we will probably have to go offsite unless we want to pay an exorbitant amount of money.  I think I'm fine with off-site, but wanted to get opinions on this.  We are probably going to stay 5 or 6 nights (which is why we need the suite) and my kids aren't little, but I have no idea how the transportation works.  Ideally, we don't want to be spending 8hrs a day at the parks.  We'd like to go back & forth so that it's not go, go, go constantly, and we want some down time.  

 

Please, give me all of your tips, opinions, etc... on all of everything!  Lots of recommendations are what I'm after.  I can book the trip after Aug. 4th, so I'm looking for options.

 

Thanks!

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I am far from an expert as we did our only family trip this past year.  If you want to come and go and want a suite, I'd look at Art of Animation maybe, or renting DVC points will probably be fairly pricey but some locations like the Bay Lake Tower or Beach Club would be convenient, for example.  We did POR as it could fit our family of 5, but we did not have a suite with a kitchen.  We were there during the stay, play, dine promotion last year, so meal plans were pretty discounted (adults ate at kid rates, adult tickets were kid prices, very slight discount on room).   Have you considered something like Wyndham Bonnet Creek?  I still think coming and going from anywhere other than a monorail resort chews up a lot of time in many cases though.  At least, I feel like when we went back to our room at POR it took some time to get there and back again.

 

The monorail was down for maintenance a LOT during our Feb stay this past year. We mostly relied on boats, and we drove to the parks vs. buses.  I know I would have been bummed to shell out $$ for a monorail resort and then not have access to the monorail for a lot of that time.  I have no idea what is planned for this year, but that's something to consider.

 

If we go back we've kicked around staying off site at Windsor Hills and building in 1-2 days of just staying at home and enjoying the pool.  We considered that for our trip, but thought we'd stay on site since we weren't sure when or if we'd come back.  In the future I don't think we'd do the meal plan; going in we knew it would probably not be a great fit, but with the discount we were getting, it was fairly reasonable.  So staying off site I think would work for us.

 

edited to add that I know Bonnet Creek started charging for transportation now, so consider that vs. a rental car vs. on site.  We were surprised that when we ran the #s we weren't going to save as much staying off site as we had thought.  THat was looking at renting a bigger house like those in Windsor Hills though.

 

 

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All Star suites, Art of Animation suites, Fort Wildnerness cabins.  If you can swing A of A, that's the best for transportation...the buses are excellent. 

The cabins at Fort Wilderness are awesome as well, but transportation from Ft. Wildnerness can require a bit of patience at times.  The cabins have a full size kitchen, and Mousekeeping will do your dishes every day. There is a bedroom with a double bed and a bunk bed, a Murphy bed in the living room, and a sofa.  There is only one bathroom in the cabins.

 

The A of A suites have two bathrooms, but only a small kitchenette.

 

All Star suites are not anywhere near as nice as A of A, and the resorts can be noisy, with tour groups full of teens.  Especially in February. 

So you just have to decide what's more important to you...a second bathroom, or a full-sized kitchen.

 

If you have any other questions, I'm happy to help.  I've stayed at all the resorts. :D

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You might want to look into renting time share points from a vacation club owner. The dis boards is a good place to start looking for that. You could get a 2 bedroom unit at a Disney hotel that way. http://disboards.com/forumdisplay.php?f=29

 

If you're willing to stay off site you could get an entire house for less than the price of a Disney hotel. I recommend Windsor Hills if you want to go that way. Floridasunvacationhomes.com is a good place to find a house or condo in that development.

 

If you want to stay in a resort that is on Disney property but not Disney you could try the Wyndham Bonnet Creek resort. It is a time share that you could rent from someone also. It has 5 pools I believe, activities, and is peaceful. A good place to look into that is here http://disboards.com/forumdisplay.php?f=15

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All Star suites, Art of Animation suites, Fort Wildnerness cabins.  If you can swing A of A, that's the best for transportation...the buses are excellent. 

 

The cabins at Fort Wilderness are awesome as well, but transportation from Ft. Wildnerness can require a bit of patience at times.  The cabins have a full size kitchen, and Mousekeeping will do your dishes every day. There is a bedroom with a double bed and a bunk bed, a Murphy bed in the living room, and a sofa.  There is only one bathroom in the cabins.

 

The A of A suites have two bathrooms, but only a small kitchenette.

 

All Star suites are not anywhere near as nice as A of A, and the resorts can be noisy, with tour groups full of teens.  Especially in February. 

 

So you just have to decide what's more important to you...a second bathroom, or a full-sized kitchen.

 

If you have any other questions, I'm happy to help.  I've stayed at all the resorts. :D

I'm thrilled to use your expertise!  I was looking at some YouTube videos of A of A, I'm just trying to think if that will work for us.  The reason we wanted a separate bedroom was that even though my dc aren't really young, they have to have decent sleep or it's a nightmare.  So, we wanted to be able to put them to bed & not have to go at 9pm ourselves.  Except having them share a bed is not an ideal situation, either.  My mom is taking myself & my 2 dc.  

 

The 2 bathrooms isn't a big deal, but I was hoping for a separate bedroom that at least had 2 beds.  All along, I guess I pictured us staying off-site (bigger rooms for less money) but we don't want to spend half our time traveling back & forth, either. :confused:   How are the prices at Ft. Wilderness?  Do you think that would be our best bet?

 

My dc aren't good with huge sensory overload, that's why I was thinking we'd not want to spend all day, every day at the parks.  

 

Trying to figure all this out is overwhelming.  And I'm a big planner/researcher and usually love this stuff.  It's just so much.  Onsite/offsite, meal plan or no, park hopper pass, magic pass-argh! :eek:

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Remember you can also build in down days and save on tickets. At a nice resort or house, the kids may love a day to just play in the pool.  We did not do that on our first trip, but if we go back we'll build in 1-2 resort only days. *I* need that, LOL.  I'd wait on hoppers and see where you are staying first.  We skipped hoppers and were happy with that.  If we stayed somewhere like Beach Club, having visited now, I think we'd like hoppers to head over to Epcot in the evenings for dinner/snacks/drinks sometimes.

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We've done both on-site and off-site.  They are very different trips.  Here's a quick run-down of our opinions of each:

 

On site pros:

Disney Magic (you'll get it after your trip!)

Park your car and don't see it again until the end of your trip

Amazing resorts and pools

Extra Magic Hours (although our family has rarely ever used them - we're too tired!)

Dining plan 

 

On site cons:

Cost

Small rooms

 

Off-site pros:

Large space

Often the place you stay is a resort in and of itself (Windsor Hills!)

Cheap

Laundry in the room/condo

You can cook your own food

 

 

Off-site cons:

The drive to the parks (although, we find that often it's faster to drive from Windsor Hills to a park (except Magic Kingdom) than it is to take the transportation on site)

You lose some of the magic when you leave the site

No meal plan at Disney

 

Ok.  I'm sure there are more things.  We've stayed at Windsor Hills and had an AMAZING time.  We always rent from a particular man (3 br, 2 bath condo) and go off season and pay no more than $90/night.  

 

But we love staying on property and getting the meal plan.  It's a no-brainer vacation once you get there. We always get two rooms at Port Orleans Riverside.  So, we all have beds and two baths.   Off-property takes a little more planning once you are there.  Honestly, we don't find the drive an issue each day (but be sure to budget parking at $14/day, I think).  

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All Star suites, Art of Animation suites, Fort Wildnerness cabins.  If you can swing A of A, that's the best for transportation...the buses are excellent. 

 

The cabins at Fort Wilderness are awesome as well, but transportation from Ft. Wildnerness can require a bit of patience at times.  The cabins have a full size kitchen, and Mousekeeping will do your dishes every day. There is a bedroom with a double bed and a bunk bed, a Murphy bed in the living room, and a sofa.  There is only one bathroom in the cabins.

 

The A of A suites have two bathrooms, but only a small kitchenette.

 

All Star suites are not anywhere near as nice as A of A, and the resorts can be noisy, with tour groups full of teens.  Especially in February. 

 

So you just have to decide what's more important to you...a second bathroom, or a full-sized kitchen.

 

If you have any other questions, I'm happy to help.  I've stayed at all the resorts. :D

 

Could you tell me your favorite resort that has 2 bedroom villas?  I have stayed at SS, but am looking at others to see if we want to do something different.   Thx

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We've done both on-site and off-site.  They are very different trips.  Here's a quick run-down of our opinions of each:

 

On site pros:

Disney Magic (you'll get it after your trip!)

Park your car and don't see it again until the end of your trip

Amazing resorts and pools

Extra Magic Hours (although our family has rarely ever used them - we're too tired!)

Dining plan 

 

On site cons:

Cost

Small rooms

 

Off-site pros:

Large space

Often the place you stay is a resort in and of itself (Windsor Hills!)

Cheap

Laundry in the room/condo

You can cook your own food

 

 

Off-site cons:

The drive to the parks (although, we find that often it's faster to drive from Windsor Hills to a park (except Magic Kingdom) than it is to take the transportation on site)

You lose some of the magic when you leave the site

No meal plan at Disney

 

Ok.  I'm sure there are more things.  We've stayed at Windsor Hills and had an AMAZING time.  We always rent from a particular man (3 br, 2 bath condo) and go off season and pay no more than $90/night.  

 

But we love staying on property and getting the meal plan.  It's a no-brainer vacation once you get there. We always get two rooms at Port Orleans Riverside.  So, we all have beds and two baths.   Off-property takes a little more planning once you are there.  Honestly, we don't find the drive an issue each day (but be sure to budget parking at $14/day, I think).  

Yes, I forgot about getting 2 rooms!  That would probably be our best bet.  Then, we'd just do the meal plan & not worry about a kitchenette.  My parents stay in Naples in a condo for the winter, so our other option is to do Disney for maybe 4 nights, then drive to Naples & spend another 3 or 4 there, so we could decompress.  Is Disney do-able in 4 nights, do you think?  Or would we be making ourselves insane???  We did decide we're not doing Animal Kingdom.  They want to see/do a lot at Magic Kingdom and Epcot.  We had talked about Sea World and Universal, but I think that might be way too much for the first time.

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We now stay offsite. We get a 3 BR condo at Windsor Hills for around $100 a night. We love it.

 

We go back during the middle of the day almost every day- it takes less time to drive to and from the condo than it does to utilize the Disney bus system.

 

We rent from this place:

 

www.floridasunvacationhomes.com

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Yes, I forgot about getting 2 rooms!  That would probably be our best bet.  Then, we'd just do the meal plan & not worry about a kitchenette.  My parents stay in Naples in a condo for the winter, so our other option is to do Disney for maybe 4 nights, then drive to Naples & spend another 3 or 4 there, so we could decompress.  Is Disney do-able in 4 nights, do you think?  Or would we be making ourselves insane???  We did decide we're not doing Animal Kingdom.  They want to see/do a lot at Magic Kingdom and Epcot.  We had talked about Sea World and Universal, but I think that might be way too much for the first time.

If I were you, I'd plan on more time there.  We always plan a day or two off from the parks just to enjoy the resort and Downtown Disney.  

 

If you decide to do SeaWorld and Universal and three of the Disney parks?  I'd stay a lot longer!  For our family dynamics, we'd need 7 - 8 days.  We always take 2 days at Epcot and Magic Kingdom each.  We can usually get everything we want done at Disney Studios in a day.  

 

You'll have so much fun - especially that time of year.  If you can help it, don't go over a three day weekend!!! 

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Could you tell me your favorite resort that has 2 bedroom villas? I have stayed at SS, but am looking at others to see if we want to do something different. Thx

Not Diane but a fellow Disney lover :D

 

Our family's favorite DVC resorts are Animal Kingdom--Kidani (the building separated from Jambo House that also has regular hotel rooms--we prefer Kidani as it's quieter, the villas are larger, and there is an additional bathroom (2 BA in a 1 BR, 3 BA in a 2 BR --if you view my signature you'll see why!)), Bay Lake Tower at the Contemporary (we stay on standard or lake view---they also have the extra bathroom), Boardwalk (super convenient to Epcot and the Studios now our kids are older), and the Grand Floridian (but that's really pricey, point-wise).

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We now stay offsite. We get a 3 BR condo at Windsor Hills for around $100 a night. We love it.

 

We go back during the middle of the day almost every day- it takes less time to drive to and from the condo than it does to utilize the Disney bus system.

 

We rent from this place:

 

www.floridasunvacationhomes.com

These look great.   If we actually stay for 7 nights, I think we would have to have something like this.  I can't imagine just being cramped into either the Art of Animation suites or 2 regular rooms.

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Not Diane but a fellow Disney lover :D

 

Our family's favorite DVC resorts are Animal Kingdom--Kidani (the building separated from Jambo House that also has regular hotel rooms--we prefer Kidani as it's quieter, the villas are larger, and there is an additional bathroom (2 BA in a 1 BR, 3 BA in a 2 BR --if you view my signature you'll see why!)), Bay Lake Tower at the Contemporary (we stay on standard or lake view---they also have the extra bathroom), Boardwalk (super convenient to Epcot and the Studios now our kids are older), and the Grand Floridian (but that's really pricey, point-wise).

 

Thank you very much!

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You've gotten some good advice here. I'd just want to add that I can't imagine doing a Disney park in less than an 8 hour day. Once you subtract your transportation time, the miles of walking you will do around the parks, breaks for food, and the waiting in line, you won't be left with a lot of time to actually experience the attractions.

 

Of course, I am the complete opposite. We get to the parks early and stay late and do not go back to the hotel mid-day. Once I pay the high ticket fees, I want to experience as much of it as I can.

 

If you are sure that you want to have shorter days, I suggest doing some intense research ahead of time and plan out exactly which rides you want to go on and which ones you will skip. You will also want to carefully choose which park to go to on which day -- any park with Extra Magic Hours (early opening or late closing times) will be more crowded, which means more time in lines. There is a ton of info online. Decide the path that you will travel around the park (which rides to do in what order). I wrote down our list on a 3x5 card and carried it around with me. This might sound like overkill, but it took me less than an hour for each day to make our plan, and it was well worth it.

 

You can even research the menus at various restaurants ahead of time, so that you know where you want to go and don't waste time on those decisions on that day. Plan to eat at off times -- before 11:30 or after 1:30 for lunch, and either early or late for dinner. If you choose table-service dining, you will need to allot more time for meals. You can get some excellent food at the quick service counters for less money and less time if you want to spend more of your time on attractions and less on eating. You can also carry food into the parks with you to avoid buying inside the park. You can ask for a free cup of ice water at any food counter, so you don't necessarily need to carry a water bottle (though you may have to wait in line for your drink that way).

 

There are entire websites devoted to Disney tips, so all of the info you need is out there in cyberspace. Have fun!

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These look great. If we actually stay for 7 nights, I think we would have to have something like this. I can't imagine just being cramped into either the Art of Animation suites or 2 regular rooms.

Yeah- that's the biggest reason we moved off site. We stay for 12-13 nights when we go- being cramped in tiny rooms gets miserable after 3 nights, lol.

 

If you stay 7 nights or more, with Florida Sun, you get a 15% discount.

 

We just enjoy having our own space, and multiple bathrooms, and a kitchen. And being able to drink coffee in our pajamas.

 

If you can afford a 4 BR house, they have their own pool and hottub in the back yard! That's what we are doing when we go in January. I'm actually looking at them right now, trying to decide which one to stay in :)

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Not Diane but a fellow Disney lover :D

 

Our family's favorite DVC resorts are Animal Kingdom--Kidani (the building separated from Jambo House that also has regular hotel rooms--we prefer Kidani as it's quieter, the villas are larger, and there is an additional bathroom (2 BA in a 1 BR, 3 BA in a 2 BR --if you view my signature you'll see why!)), Bay Lake Tower at the Contemporary (we stay on standard or lake view---they also have the extra bathroom), Boardwalk (super convenient to Epcot and the Studios now our kids are older), and the Grand Floridian (but that's really pricey, point-wise).

 

 

The Grand Floridian DVC is beautiful, but the 2 bedroom doesn't have the 3rd bathroom. I don't know how big your group is or if you're even considering this one, but just an FYI.   Bay Lake and GF are our home resorts.  :001_smile:  Happy planning!

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Could you tell me your favorite resort that has 2 bedroom villas?  I have stayed at SS, but am looking at others to see if we want to do something different.   Thx

 

Bay Lake Tower.  Love that place.  Costs an arm and a leg, but I loved it.  If you rent DVC points in a less crowded time of year, it's not as bad as it could be.

 

Old Key West has GIANT rooms.  It's out of the way (near Downtown Disney...it was the first DVC resort), but if you're looking for space, and peace and quiet, it's a good one.  Plus, I like their pools.

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I'm thrilled to use your expertise!  I was looking at some YouTube videos of A of A, I'm just trying to think if that will work for us.  The reason we wanted a separate bedroom was that even though my dc aren't really young, they have to have decent sleep or it's a nightmare.  So, we wanted to be able to put them to bed & not have to go at 9pm ourselves.  Except having them share a bed is not an ideal situation, either.  My mom is taking myself & my 2 dc.  

 

The 2 bathrooms isn't a big deal, but I was hoping for a separate bedroom that at least had 2 beds.  All along, I guess I pictured us staying off-site (bigger rooms for less money) but we don't want to spend half our time traveling back & forth, either. :confused:   How are the prices at Ft. Wilderness?  Do you think that would be our best bet?

 

My dc aren't good with huge sensory overload, that's why I was thinking we'd not want to spend all day, every day at the parks.  

 

Trying to figure all this out is overwhelming.  And I'm a big planner/researcher and usually love this stuff.  It's just so much.  Onsite/offsite, meal plan or no, park hopper pass, magic pass-argh! :eek:

 

If you want two separate bedrooms, your best bet would be to rent DVC.

 

And no, four nights in Disney isn't really enough.

 

I also admit that I'm completely biased, and will not stay off-site.  I've done it twice (in my youth when I had no choice), and I will never repeat it.  And the end of a long day in the parks (and it will be long, because you won't be able to go back to your hotel for a nap or a pool break), the LAST thing I want to do is pile in a hot car and try to navigate the going home traffic.  Disney World is HUGE...it's not a "drive through the gate and you're in the parking lot" type of deal AT ALL.  I also like to be there early (rope drop) to do the headliner attractions without a line.  Because waiting in line sucks.  I also like the extra magic hours, and all the other perks that come from staying on property.

 

For DVC rentals, Dave's vacation rentals is a good one.  www.dvcrequest.com  They're very reliable, and I've never had a problem using them.  They're recommended by many disney sites.

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I also admit that I'm completely biased, and will not stay off-site.  I've done it twice (in my youth when I had no choice), and I will never repeat it.  And the end of a long day in the parks (and it will be long, because you won't be able to go back to your hotel for a nap or a pool break), the LAST thing I want to do is pile in a hot car and try to navigate the going home traffic.  Disney World is HUGE...it's not a "drive through the gate and you're in the parking lot" type of deal AT ALL. 

 

Okay, I know the whole onsite/offsite thing comes down to personal preferences, but this is making it sound like offsite lodging is inferior and out in the middle of nowhere, which you have to navigate awful traffic to get to.  And it's really not.  Offsite lodging can run the gamut, from just another Days Inn room that is indeed miles away through traffic, to a fully themed multi-bedroom home in a beautiful resort community that is literally less than 10 minutes from Disney property.  And for places like the latter, of which there are many, it's really easy to go back to your hotel for a nap or a pool break.  One would think that leaving at the end of the day would be nuts, since there are thousands upon thousands of cars leaving, but it's not. The Disney parking lots are amazingly well-planned when it comes to traffic flow, and you pretty much just get in your car and drive away.

 

I stayed onsite when my kids were little and we all fit in one room.  After the youngest moved out of the pack and play, we never stayed onsite again because we would need two rooms or an option more expensive than the values (this was before the value suites were available).  We moved to offsite and never looked back--more room for less money, and the chance to spread out, have a little space, and get away from the masses at Disney.

 

Others want to immerse themselves in Disney 24/7.  Nothing wrong with that, but the other available options are also very good.

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I agree with the above poster. Staying offsite doesn't necessarily mean battling traffic. We've stayed in Bonnet Creek which is closer to Hollywood Studios than some Disney resorts. The road system at Disney is quite good and we never encountered traffic. It took hardly any time to get to the parking lots. We had no problem getting back to the condo for a mid day break.

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If you want two separate bedrooms, your best bet would be to rent DVC.

 

And no, four nights in Disney isn't really enough.

 

I also admit that I'm completely biased, and will not stay off-site.  I've done it twice (in my youth when I had no choice), and I will never repeat it.  And the end of a long day in the parks (and it will be long, because you won't be able to go back to your hotel for a nap or a pool break), the LAST thing I want to do is pile in a hot car and try to navigate the going home traffic.  Disney World is HUGE...it's not a "drive through the gate and you're in the parking lot" type of deal AT ALL.  I also like to be there early (rope drop) to do the headliner attractions without a line.  Because waiting in line sucks.  I also like the extra magic hours, and all the other perks that come from staying on property.

 

For DVC rentals, Dave's vacation rentals is a good one.  www.dvcrequest.com  They're very reliable, and I've never had a problem using them.  They're recommended by many disney sites.

I really appreciate the DVC rental info.  We've never used anything like that, and my mom might get nervous without recommendations!  What is the procedure?  Sorry to be so dense. :001_smile:

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You can do it a variety of ways, but here is some preliminary info:

 

http://mouseowners.com/RentingPoints.html

 

http://www.mousesavers.com/davids-vacation-club-rentals/

 

We have done it before.  We rented points and stayed in a studio at Old Key West.  That was when we only had 2 kids and they were little.  Now we need more room.  We actually got it off of ebay.

 

Honestly, we don't stay on-site anymore.  We rent a larger condo with a full kitchen and stay off-site for the space.

 

Dawn

 

 

I really appreciate the DVC rental info.  We've never used anything like that, and my mom might get nervous without recommendations!  What is the procedure?  Sorry to be so dense. :001_smile:

 

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I agree with the above poster. Staying offsite doesn't necessarily mean battling traffic. We've stayed in Bonnet Creek which is closer to Hollywood Studios than some Disney resorts. The road system at Disney is quite good and we never encountered traffic. It took hardly any time to get to the parking lots. We had no problem getting back to the condo for a mid day break.

When you've stayed there, how do you usually book it?

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I agree with the above poster. Staying offsite doesn't necessarily mean battling traffic. We've stayed in Bonnet Creek which is closer to Hollywood Studios than some Disney resorts. The road system at Disney is quite good and we never encountered traffic. It took hardly any time to get to the parking lots. We had no problem getting back to the condo for a mid day break.

 

I also agree.  We've stayed offsite 3 times (2 at Windsor Hills) and onsite once (Old Key West).  No issues whatsoever going back for midday breaks.  Sometimes commuting from offsite beats internal buses.  And when we were onsite, we always took our car when we had dinner ressies at other resorts.  Onsite (at least in the DVCs) is expensive and we felt guilty spending most of our time in the parks.  There is a lot going on at the resorts, so if you end up staying onsite, I would definitely make sure you spend lots of time there to make it worthwhile.

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I agree with the above poster. Staying offsite doesn't necessarily mean battling traffic. We've stayed in Bonnet Creek which is closer to Hollywood Studios than some Disney resorts. The road system at Disney is quite good and we never encountered traffic. It took hardly any time to get to the parking lots. We had no problem getting back to the condo for a mid day break.

I agree with this.  We've never had traffic when we stayed off site.  And, often it was actually faster to get to our car and drive ourselves back to the off-site resort than waiting for the on-site transportation..  But, there is something about staying on-property that is just more magical.  

 

I have to say the worst traffic or transportation issues we've had have been when we've stayed on-site.  We once went to dinner at CA Grill thinking that we could just grab Disney transportation back to MK and then back to Port Orleans.  Well, MK had closed by the time we were done with dinner there, so busses weren't running to and from MK.  Ugh.  Took a little while to figure it out, but we did.  (I think we ended up waiting for a bus back to Downtown Disney and then switched busses there back to POR.)

 

Then, there was the time we were stuck on a Disney bus in traffic for 1.5 hours due to an accident.  I know, it could have happened to us if we'd had our own transportation.  BUT, my three teen boys and husband had given up their seats on the bus to others.  They had to stand for that time.  If we'd been in our own car, we'd at least have been sitting down!  

 

Anyway, we've done both and really like both.  BUT they are definitely different vacations.

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And my off-site experience was a bit farther away than these ladies, so I really can't comment as to the nearby accommodations.  I've heard really good things about some of them, and I'm sure they'd be wonderful, and more than meet your needs.  I love staying in "the Disney bubble" the entire time I'm there, and leaving the property kind of deflates it.  But that's my own personal (somewhat warped :D) bias.  And LOL that a previous poster mentioned the "Days Inn".  That is indeed where we stayed on my high school senior trip, so obviously my experience has been colored by that...um...less than satisfactory experience. :lol:

DVC rental is a great way to "try it before you buy it", and a big help to those wanting to stay on property, but have more room and a full kitchen.  If you go through a well-established rental service with a good reputation (like Dave's), there's no risk.  If you pursue it on your own, with a DVC owner you don't know, there's some risk that you'll get scammed.

 

The cabins at Ft. Wilderness are a great middle ground.  They're considered a moderate (so the pricing is fairly reasonable), and Ft. Wilderness is very peaceful and relaxing (you mentioned your kids need some quiet time).  It's a resort where you don't feel like a giant theme park is right across the bay.  I absolutely love it there (especially in the colder months), and I wouldn't hesitate to stay again.

 

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If you want two separate bedrooms, your best bet would be to rent DVC.

 

And no, four nights in Disney isn't really enough.

 

I also admit that I'm completely biased, and will not stay off-site. I've done it twice (in my youth when I had no choice), and I will never repeat it. And the end of a long day in the parks (and it will be long, because you won't be able to go back to your hotel for a nap or a pool break), the LAST thing I want to do is pile in a hot car and try to navigate the going home traffic. Disney World is HUGE...it's not a "drive through the gate and you're in the parking lot" type of deal AT ALL. I also like to be there early (rope drop) to do the headliner attractions without a line. Because waiting in line sucks. I also like the extra magic hours, and all the other perks that come from staying on property.

 

For DVC rentals, Dave's vacation rentals is a good one. www.dvcrequest.com They're very reliable, and I've never had a problem using them. They're recommended by many disney sites.

I hate arguing about this because it's so trivial, lol- but your idea of traveling back and forth is just not true.

 

We stayed onsite my whole life, child and adult, before moving to offsite. One of the biggest reasons we switched to offsite was because taking Disney buses made us absolutely miserable.

 

Hands down, we spent MORE time on Disney buses and getting back and forth using them. The lines, stopping at multiple hotels, walking to and from the bus stop, etc. it all takes time. Then there is waiting in line, sometimes FOREVER, at the end of the night when everyone leaves at once.

 

On the flip side, when we drive back to Windosr Hills, we can easily make rope drop, we almost always go back midday- and it never takes longer than 15 minutes- door to door. We have never, not once, sat in traffic at the end of the night when leaving the park. And we get to hop straight into the car and blast the AC as opposed to standing in the heat waiting to get on the bus- and then, upon arrival, we don't have to walk from a bus station to a room- which can take a while if you don't pay extra for a "preferred" location room. At Windsor Hills, we park right in front if our "room".

 

I know what it's like to be an "onsite only" person and think it's the only way to go- I remember being like that. But what you are saying about traveling back and forth in a car is simply not true.

 

I'm not trying to change your mind- it's great if you guys stay onsite and enjoy it- someday, when we are empty nesters and can afford monorail resorts, we might stay onsite again too :) But I think it's unfair to make claims that aren't true when people are asking for advice. You are going by what you remember as a child, since you said you only stayed offsite growing up- so I think maybe you should realize that you are taking old memories and exaggering them.

 

Now, we always go during the off season, so I'm willing to bet that during the busy season, there is traffic getting in and out of the parks- but atleast you get to sit in an air conditioned car. And the buses take the same exact roads, so they would also be sitting in traffic. But you wouldn't be able to get directly on the bus the way you would be able to get directly on your car- you would have to stand in line to wait for a spot on the bus- in the heat, no A/C, and standing up. Like I said, we were miserable.

 

And the second reason we switched to offsite was what the OP mentioned- I hated having to go to sleep at 8 or 9 pm because we were in the same room as our young child.

 

When we stay offsite, we get home, bathe the kids, put them to bed in their own room, close the door and are free to do whatever we want- watch TV, read, talk, eat, plan the next day, whatever.

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^^^ I totally agree, as I stated in the above post.  My personal preference is for staying on site, and my bias stems from not very good experiences from staying off site, which I acknowledged were many years ago, when Wyndom and Bonnet Creek were not even an option for guests.  My commuting experience to the parks was horrendous, but that was just my personal experience, and obviously not the same for others.  Especially not now, when better accommodations are available.

I think staying off site works great for a lot of people, especially if money is a concern.  Disney is expensive, and saving money is not something to be taken lightly.

 

If off site works best for your family, then that's fabulous.  And if it's the best option for the OP, then that's what she should do as well.  No judgement here at all.



 

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We booked Bonnet Creek using Vacation Strategies but there are others. There are numerous helpful threads ondisboards about Bonnet Creek. They will tell you which tower is best, whom to book through, and everything else you would want to know.

 

The resort is very nice with multiple pools, free miniature golf, free kids activities, lazy river, etc. Our 2 bedroom 2 bath condo was $714 total for 8 nights. That was two years ago in the offseason but even today's prices will a gigantic cost savings over Disney resorts.

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Staying off site clarification please:  Meal plans and Disney transportation from the airport and to and from the hotel/condo are not available, right? 

 

Right. You can only get meal plans and Magical Express if you stay onsite.

 

For some people, like us, the not getting a meal plan thing is a plus, for others, it's a negative.

 

We don't like most counter service places at Disney, and like to eat at table services more than once per day- so the meal plans do not work for us. It's better, for us, to use the $$$$ we save on lodging (by staying offsite) to eat at all the table service restaurants we like, and eat healthier lunches and some breakfasts, at the condo.

 

But some people love all the counter service places, so the meal plan works for them :)

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Staying off site clarification please: Meal plans and Disney transportation from the airport and to and from the hotel/condo are not available, right?

Correct. I recommend anyone who stays offsite rent a car. Even if your resort/hotel/community has a shuttle to the parks, it may not be convenient for your family.

 

We always rent a car when we stay offsite...or at Universal :D

 

Onsite works better for us at this stage of our lives. Our kids are teenagers or older. We can and do split up during the day or evening---the kids might head to the studios for rides and dh and I might go to Epcot to wander and eat. Dh and I also like to have an adult beverage or two when in Epcot. We can't do that if we have to drive.

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Now, OP, can we help you with dining? :D :D :D

Sure!  We try to eat healthy, if possible and are gluten-free-as of right now.  Not sure if that will change by Feb.  but it's been a pain eating out: I have to do my research ahead of time.

 

The reason I did want something with some sort of kitchen/ette was because I was envisioning most days eating breakfast in the room, eating most lunches out and coming back for dinner-either making it or bringing something back.  I know we would want to be at the park a couple of nights, but for the most part, do fairly early evenings.  We will want a couple of nice dinners out, I'm sure, but if we've been running around all day, my dc are better if we can eat in without all of the chaos.

 

Which is why I still am thinking maybe off-site (as close as possible) might be best.  I'm going to start plugging in dates to get an idea of cost, and I'm betting that will make my decision.  So, stand-by for more in depth questions as I continue-please! :001_smile:

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If your kids have special dietary requirements, Disney is the best place to vacation.  You can make a note of it when you make your reservations (180 days out if you're staying on site), and a chef will personally come out and speak with you when you arrive for your meal.  If it's a buffet, the chef will walk you through it, and point out the foods your child can eat.  He can also make something special that isn't on the menu.  Disney goes above and beyond for this sort of thing.

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Okay, I know the whole onsite/offsite thing comes down to personal preferences, but this is making it sound like offsite lodging is inferior and out in the middle of nowhere, which you have to navigate awful traffic to get to. And it's really not. Offsite lodging can run the gamut, from just another Days Inn room that is indeed miles away through traffic, to a fully themed multi-bedroom home in a beautiful resort community that is literally less than 10 minutes from Disney property. And for places like the latter, of which there are many, it's really easy to go back to your hotel for a nap or a pool break. One would think that leaving at the end of the day would be nuts, since there are thousands upon thousands of cars leaving, but it's not. The Disney parking lots are amazingly well-planned when it comes to traffic flow, and you pretty much just get in your car and drive away.

 

I stayed onsite when my kids were little and we all fit in one room. After the youngest moved out of the pack and play, we never stayed onsite again because we would need two rooms or an option more expensive than the values (this was before the value suites were available). We moved to offsite and never looked back--more room for less money, and the chance to spread out, have a little space, and get away from the masses at Disney.

 

Others want to immerse themselves in Disney 24/7. Nothing wrong with that, but the other available options are also very good.

Thanks for offering that. I too, can see that they are two different vacations. My question is-is windsor hills the best off site place to find a 3-4'bedroom house? Ideally, mid LOVE something Disney themed for the kids but have no idea where to look for that sort of thing or how to get the best prices. Any thoughts would be appreciated!

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We always stay at Wyndham Bonnet Creek. It's not a bad drive at all, but you do have to pay for parking.

I really prefer condos. I love putting the kids to bed, closing their bedroom door, and going about the rest of my night!

We need the kitchen space because I have kids with food allergies, and I appreciate the lesser meal expense. I plan our menu and do lots of the prep type work ahead of the vacation, so it's really not a big deal to me to make our food there.  I like having a washer and dryer right in the room. Our condo is always two bed/two bath, with a pull out in the living room too if needed.

 

I think you need more than 4 nights if you can. Tickets are cheaper per day with more days. The most expensive, by far, are those first few days. If you're just doing 3 day tickets (is that right?), I'd do 2 at MK and decide between Epcot and HS for the other. I guess you could try to park hop.

 

If you're doing a small number of days, and making them short on top of that, you'll really need to prioritize what to hit and what to miss.

 

 

 

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Sure!  We try to eat healthy, if possible and are gluten-free-as of right now.  Not sure if that will change by Feb.  but it's been a pain eating out: I have to do my research ahead of time.

 

The reason I did want something with some sort of kitchen/ette was because I was envisioning most days eating breakfast in the room, eating most lunches out and coming back for dinner-either making it or bringing something back.  I know we would want to be at the park a couple of nights, but for the most part, do fairly early evenings.  We will want a couple of nice dinners out, I'm sure, but if we've been running around all day, my dc are better if we can eat in without all of the chaos.

 

Which is why I still am thinking maybe off-site (as close as possible) might be best.  I'm going to start plugging in dates to get an idea of cost, and I'm betting that will make my decision.  So, stand-by for more in depth questions as I continue-please! :001_smile:

 

I agree with Dianne that Disney is the place to go for food allergies or intollerances.  The reason we went to Disney in the first place was because my ds was peanut and tree nut allergic and they went all out for him.  NO worries at all.  It was a stress-free place to vacation.  So, no worries there.

 

If you stay on-property - check out the meal plan.  We usually go when they offer free dining, which is a huge money-saver for our family.  But others find it isn't.  It just adds to the stress-free aspect of the trip!

 

Also, think about a split stay.  Stay off property first for a few nights.  Then move on property and get a package that includes dining.  Buy the park tickets with the package for the entire stay.  So, for example, stay off property for five nights, on property for three.  Buy 6 day park passes and the meal plan for the three days.  (Saves money over staying all 8 nights on property and paying for the meal plan the entire stay, but it gives you a taste of it.)  You can pick up your park passes at any of the parks up to two weeks (I think) ahead of your official Disney stay.  Make sense?  I'm not sure how all that would work with the new FastPass Magic Bands for the days before you check into WDW.  So, you'd have to check that out.

Thanks for offering that. I too, can see that they are two different vacations. My question is-is windsor hills the best off site place to find a 3-4'bedroom house? Ideally, mid LOVE something Disney themed for the kids but have no idea where to look for that sort of thing or how to get the best prices. Any thoughts would be appreciated!

To be fair, I've never stayed anywhere but Windsor Hills when I've stayed off-property.  So, we obviously think it's the way to go!  Windsor Hills has some houses that have Disney themed rooms.  If you search Windsor Hills, you can get a nice idea of what is available.  Remember to save a couple days for WH itself.  It's a resort in and of itself!

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Windsor Hills Rentals (among other neighborhoods) can be found here.  You can do a search for houses (or condos) and come up with prices, availability, and photos of each unit.  Some are more themed than others--look for units with cute Disney names (Ariel's Grotto, etc) if that is is a plus for you.  In my experience the photos are representative of what you get, meaning it's not the case that they took the photos 10 years ago but now the place is a dump--what you see is what you get.  We've stayed at various units at WH and not been disappointed.  We've also rented from Vacation Central Florida, but I don't remember theming in their units.

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If we do Windsor Hills, any specific recommendations?  And do/should I book through floridasunvacationhomes.com?   Wyndham Bonnet Creek looks wonderful, but if I'm just booking right on their website, they are a lot more expensive than Windsor Hills.  Do you use any other booking sites?

 

If I try for on-site, I might look specifically at Fort Wilderness because it does seem more laid back & less hectic.  What do you think the least expensive, safe way would be to book it?

 

I know I can only do the meal plan if we stay on-site, but what about that fast pass thing?  Can you only get that if you stay on-site?

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If we do Windsor Hills, any specific recommendations?  And do/should I book through floridasunvacationhomes.com?   Wyndham Bonnet Creek looks wonderful, but if I'm just booking right on their website, they are a lot more expensive than Windsor Hills.  Do you use any other booking sites?

 

If I try for on-site, I might look specifically at Fort Wilderness because it does seem more laid back & less hectic.  What do you think the least expensive, safe way would be to book it?

 

I know I can only do the meal plan if we stay on-site, but what about that fast pass thing?  Can you only get that if you stay on-site?

 

You can still do the fast pass if you stay off site. If staying off site, you can book fast passes up to 30 days out but you have to have all ready purchased your tickets & have the tickets entered into your Disney Experience account.

 

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Thanks for offering that. I too, can see that they are two different vacations. My question is-is windsor hills the best off site place to find a 3-4'bedroom house? Ideally, mid LOVE something Disney themed for the kids but have no idea where to look for that sort of thing or how to get the best prices. Any thoughts would be appreciated!

 

I don't know if Windsor Hills is "the best" but I know that we really love it :) We haven't even bothered with looking at other places because we love Windsor Hills so much- if you take the Sherbeth Rd. route, it makes getting to Disney *so* easy and quick. And so far, all the places we have stayed in from Florida Sun have had Disney themed rooms.

 

There are tons of cheap places to rent from, that are legit. But I have seen so many complaints about the niceness of units, or neighborhoods, that when we found FSVH and had a good experience using them- we just haven't bothered looking elsewhere. The units were just as they were advertised, and look just like, or nicer than, the pictures. It's all done online and over the phone- we have had nothing but positive experiences with them, Windsor Hills and the individual units, so we only book through them, and I reccommend them to everyone.

 

www.floridasunvacationhomes.com

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Now, OP, can we help you with dining? :D :D :D

 

I am planning my dining *right now* since we will hit 180 days out in a few days, and I am really struggling! I have all these places that I love and want to return to, but then I also want to try some new-to-me options.... decisions, decisions....

 

Has Chef Mickey's breakfast gotten better, or is it still "meh"?

 

The food at Rainforest isn't that great, but I just don't feel like I have *done* Disney without going to dinner there after a day at Animal Kingdom. And I really want to try the T-Rex place in downtown Disney...

 

Hoping and hoping that we'll score a spot at Be Our Guest for dinner...

 

 

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If we do Windsor Hills, any specific recommendations?  And do/should I book through floridasunvacationhomes.com?   Wyndham Bonnet Creek looks wonderful, but if I'm just booking right on their website, they are a lot more expensive than Windsor Hills.  Do you use any other booking sites?

 

If I try for on-site, I might look specifically at Fort Wilderness because it does seem more laid back & less hectic.  What do you think the least expensive, safe way would be to book it?

 

I know I can only do the meal plan if we stay on-site, but what about that fast pass thing?  Can you only get that if you stay on-site?

 

Again, (and I don't get paid for this or anything, lol!) I definitely recommend Florida Sun. We have had nothing but great experiences with them.

 

We love Ft. Wilderness and have actually camped there a lot when we were kids :) The best way to book staying on-site, is through the official Disney website. There really aren't any legit "deals" that are available on Disney lodging, that aren't through Disney themselves.

 

Fastpass + is for everyone, someone else above explained that pretty well.

 

We are going at the end of January/beginning of February :)

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I am planning my dining *right now* since we will hit 180 days out in a few days, and I am really struggling! I have all these places that I love and want to return to, but then I also want to try some new-to-me options.... decisions, decisions....

 

Has Chef Mickey's breakfast gotten better, or is it still "meh"?

 

The food at Rainforest isn't that great, but I just don't feel like I have *done* Disney without going to dinner there after a day at Animal Kingdom. And I really want to try the T-Rex place in downtown Disney...

 

Hoping and hoping that we'll score a spot at Be Our Guest for dinner...

 

 

Chef Mickey - We haven't been in a year, but it was just meh.  I don't think we'll do it again anytime soon.

 

If you don't want to do Rainforest after a day at Animal Kingdom, what about Boma at Animal Kingdom?  African food and then you can go out afterward and see more animals.

 

Be Our Guest was a fantastic experience.  The theming in that place is incredible.  And, we had the best waiter EVER when we went there.  I hope you get it!

 

 

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