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First-timer needing help with accommodation options

larryz

Can't 'Member Anything
Premium Member
What hotels would you recommend as the best option for us? While we'd love to have a suite where the adults have a separate bedroom from the kids, that will obviously depend on the price. If we use a value hotel, do we still get early access to the parks? Really not sure where to start here, and would appreciate any advice.
Disney suites are ridiculously expensive. My family of 4 finds two connected rooms serve our needs, and usually at a great savings over a suite.
 

Zé_Carioca

Member
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Yeah, the suites at Art of Animation etc. are more geared towards 6 people and are priced that way. If money is an issue I recommend Pop Century or a renovated All-Star room. The rooms are small, but for that short of a trip, you will barely be in the room and the new rooms have a murphy bed so when not in use, it opens up space.

Connecting rooms are the best way to get your privacy, but that does mean you would be paying double. Also, I think Disney does not guarantee connecting rooms but you can request it and they will try their best.

Keep in mind that value resorts at Disney are still not cheap so the cheaper option is staying offsite. However, since its your first time and you are unfamiliar with the area, the price to stay at Disney and at Universal might be worth it since they take care of all the logistics for you (transportation etc). Both parks will have transportation from their resorts to their parks. For Disney, they even have transportation to/from the airport! However, Disney will not have transportation to Universal and vice versa to you would need to plan for that.

Some resorts do offer transportation to the parks as their perks so if you decide to stay offsite make sure to study up on all the resorts and what they offer as, as mentioned, some of them partner with Disney and Universal to offer similar perks as the on-site hotels.

Universal is about to launch a super value resort (Endless Summer(?)) so check out their prices. Keep in mind that for Universal, every resort gets extra morning hours at the parks BUT only the deluxe resorts get the free unlimited express pass.
 
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DisAl

Well-Known Member
Just FYI here are a couple of photos of the rooms at Pop Century. The desk / table folds down to a second queen size bed. Note that the "fixed" bed is high enough off the floor that you can store luggage underneath. Click on the thumbnail to view full size.
DSCN5670.JPGDSCN5672.JPG
 

Nero the dog

Well-Known Member
If I was you I would sit down and look at all the costs again to see how to maximise the time you could have in Orlando.
Is Orlando the only area of the US you are visiting or is it part of a bigger trip.
As air fare is likely to be the biggest single expense it makes sense to spend as much time as possible in Orlando as the fare will be the same whether you spend 1, 2 or 3 weeks there.
Other big expenses such as park tickets are better value for longer stays.
If you were to stay longer, look at renting a car and villa, the car cost can be offset by the savings eating at offsite restaurants which are usually less than half the price of the Disney/Universal offerings. Also having kitchen in the villa means you can save $$ by making a few meals yourself.
 

Minnesota disney fan

Well-Known Member
OP:
Our family loves Harry Potter too. If you only go one day to Universal, you might have to choose which side to go to, Studios or Islands of Adventure. If you want to ride the Hogwarts express, you have to have park tickets to Both parks. That can get really spendy.
I will just let you know what we do when we want to fit Universal in on our WDW vacations. First, we always stay for 10 days if possible. This gives us ample time to enjoy WDW, see most things, and go to Universal for an overnite stay. We usually book one night at RPR in Universal in the middle of our WDW trip. We just get a cab to take us to Universal from Disney, and back again. You can get 2 days early entry and express passes with your hotel stay which saves money. You still have to buy park tickets. But 2 days for the price of a one night stay is fantastic and that pays for the cost of express passes for the family. You can get to the hotel as early as 7am, register, store your bags at guest services, get your express passes and go to the parks. Then spend an enjoyable night at RPR (our favorite), and you can use your express passes and early entrance for the next day too. You just need to check out of the hotel by 11 am and store your bags at GS. You can stay at the parks for as long as you want. That's the only way we do Universal. I confess that Universal entry is expensive, and if you buy express passes it gets very expensive.
You might consider POR resort at disney as you can sleep 5 easily (with a pull out bed). It is a beautiful resort and has a boat ride to disney springs which is very nice. We love POR and it's sister resort, POFQ.
I would recommend getting on Universal's site and checking things out, as well as disney's.
Welcome and have a great time no matter where you stay.
I do think you need more than 5 days to do both WDW and Universal if you can swing it. 3 days at disney will not allow you to see and do everything and rest at your resort.
 

JillC LI

Well-Known Member
If you are early risers and can be at the parks before rope drop each day, if you do your research and plan your days carefully, and if you take good advantage of Fastpasses, then you can accomplish a great deal doing one Disney park per day. I recommend Pop Century as the best Value resort if you are trying to save money.
If you get the Express Pass at Universal and do early entry (both of which are included with some of the hotels (I recommend Royal Pacific Resort) then you can complete much of those parks in 2 days as well. So 6 full days should be enough if time is limited. Bear in mind that you MUST get the two-park tickets for Universal if you want to be able to ride the Hogwarts Express.
 
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DisAl

Well-Known Member
I agree with rsj88; about the only time you will be spending in your room is sleeping. If your family can stand a little extra "togetherness" for the time you are at the parks your least expensive option would be one room at Pop Century. The vanity / sink area and the tub / toilet area both have real doors, not curtains, so your family would have some privacy for necessary functions. :) Also, Pop has one of the better food courts at WDW which might help with your meal costs.
 

DISR

Active Member
As others have mentioned, it is very difficult to do Disney in less than 4-5 days. The limited Fast Pass system and the size of the area are against you. You will definitely need to prioritize the experiences and attractions you want to do across WDW. This will probably not be a trip for appreciating lots of the small details and going off the beaten track.

For Universal, I believe you can hit the highlights in one day if you have Express access (especially in January). Again, you won't be doing lots of the detail stuff, but you can hit most of the headliner attractions and explore the Harry Potter areas pretty well in a day. Express Pass is very expensive to add to a one day ticket, but it is included with any Deluxe resort room for the entire group staying in the room. You may find it cheaper to get a room you do not use than to add Express to your park tickets.

If I were trying to do Universal and WDW from one hotel, I would probably pick Port Orleans Riverside/French Quarter or Saratoga Springs for the location. The drive up Palm Parkway is a very good way to access Universal and avoid the I-4 gridlock.

You have a challenge with your Orlando wish list and time/money limitations, but if you prioritize things, I'm sure you will have a great visit. Decide what you want to do and then decide what you reasonably can do based on things you cannot change. Accept the result and have a great time.
 

Janir

Well-Known Member
Disney suites are ridiculously expensive. My family of 4 finds two connected rooms serve our needs, and usually at a great savings over a suite.
You are not always guaranteed connecting rooms however. Even if you ask.
A One bedroom DVC room generally has 1 bed and 1 pullout bed to it. Question to ask if how many actual beds do you need? 2 adults and two kids? Two older kids? Younger, can get by on a Murphy bed easily?
 

Janir

Well-Known Member
Watch this video from DFB Guide on picking resorts for your needs and wants.
It should help you figure out what will work for you.
 

SaltyD

Member
I can see we're going to have to stretch our days to spend more time at the parks. Harry Potter is definitely our focus, so that's a must. She also desperately wants to do Magic Kingdom. Your advice is great and gives me a better idea of areas to focus on. I think our teenager would like Hollywood Studios too. I had no idea how complicated a trip to the theme parks would be. Between accommodation, travel, tickets, fast passes and magic hours, it's quite overwhelming. I so appreciated you all kindly offering your thoughts and recommendations.
I would suggest splitting your time between Disneyworld and Universal and concentrating one half of your vacation at Universal and other half at Disney. Cabana Bay at Universal has great family suites where the sleeping areas are separate. It's walking distance to Universal and Islands of Adventure. You will need park-to-park passes so you can ride the Hogwarts Express and I suggest a full 3 days to enjoy it all. Then move over to Disney - you can take an Uber - and stay there for 4 or 5 days. Every Disney resort is great! If you want a suite check out Disney's All Star Music - you'll spend so much time in the parks to see everything you may just be using the resort to sleep and enjoy the pool.

I suggest you take each part one at a time - decide on resorts, decide on amount of days for passes, then worry about fast passes and dining later when that is all set. It IS overwhelming but half the fun should be in the planning so enjoy it :) And ask questions - everyone loves to talk Disney and Harry Potter!
 

MaryJaneP

Well-Known Member
In our not so humble opinion, we would NEVER try nor expect to do WDW and UO in a 5 day trip. It can be (suboptimally) done but we would think it is not worth your hard-earned money to do things on so razor-thin a timetable.
As for hotels, you are probably going to have to choose off-property for either park. This may be the only way to have enough money to do some of each company's parks. Also, we would recommend doing a cross-out list of parks that will be skipped in their entirety. In addition, the EMH, 60 fast pass, and 180 day ADR options not only seem ludicrous, given your helter-skelter schedule, but may not even be available depending on your accommodations. We would not worry about doing or believing that you need them at all. 30 day options (general public availability) will have to suffice.
As others have said, choose two parks at each company (UO only has the 2, really) and maximize your visit. We hear, all the time, that even regular visitors can never "do it all" in any one park.
With lines and weather, we think you will be seriously pushing it to the max to make only the most important rides in the two parks chosen. Our choices would be MK and DHS for WDW and, of course, all the Harry Potter stuff at UO. We agree that there are a few experiences you may want to slightly slow down to enjoy, such as Hogsmeade, Happily Every After, and the Electric Light Parade on the water at WDW. It is hard to blow off some of the great stuff at skipped parks, but life is about choices made and as FAS sings ...... regrets, I have a few, but too few to mention. Food hints are very helpful as eating uses a fair amount of your budget. Good Luck to you and we hope your trip is wonderful.
 

DisAl

Well-Known Member
I very much disagree with the poster above who says don't do fastpasses. Without any FPs at all you could well spend the majority of your time at Disney waiting in line. Even if you don't end up using them, make FPs for whatever rides are your highest priority. If you don't end up using them, nothing lost. But if your heart is set on a particular ride such as the Mine Train, then a FP can make the difference in a 90 minute wait and a 15 or 20 minute wait.
I know this is harder for you to do from your location but you may also find that you can stay in a Disney property value motel for about the same or lower cost than one off site.
 

KikoKea

Well-Known Member
Please read as much as you can about WDW and UO before you start making too many plans. In June, we met a lovely couple from England in a quick service restaurant while we hunkered down during a downpour (which happens frequently during certain times of the year- be prepared!). Apparently, they knew little about WDW before coming, so had no idea about Fastpasses, the crowds, hotels, etc and were having a miserable time at WDW because of it. Sadly, many of their complaints could have been prevented had they taken the time to research their trip and prepare ahead.

I highly recommend staying at a hotel that gives you access to early Fastpasses at the 60 day mark, and getting those FPs nailed down at exactly the 60 day mark. Just last week, I was making FPs for a trip in Aug, but due to family events, could get to them until the 56 day mark. Several attractions' FPs were already out. Between FPs and rope drop (arriving before the park opens) you can see much more.
 

KingdomofDreams

Well-Known Member
So much good advice here! It may have been mentioned already but I recommend getting the books The Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World and Universal Orlando. It's a lot to digest but will have you armed with a lot of very valuable information. Planning and preparation are key to an enjoyable vacation at both Disney and Universal. Read them, let your kids make a list of the things they most want to experience and don't underestimate the value of Extra Magic Hours and Fastpasses at Disney and Express Pass at Universal. All the Disney resorts give you access to the Extra Magic Hours and Fastpass selections at 60 days. Only the 3 top tier hotels at Universal include both early park entry and Express Passes. The other Uni hotels give you early entry but do not include Express Pass so you'd have to forego those or pay extra. A lot of choices ultimately just have to come down to budget. Just my own opinion, I would get park to park passes at Universal and do 2 days there. Hogsmeade and Hogwarts are at Islands of Adventure and Diagon Alley is at Universal Studios and the Hogwarts Express runs between the two. At Disney you could experience a lot in 4 days. Adding just one more day will allow you to take it easy and have more down time if you can swing it both in time and budget, but if it's a once in a lifetime trip, I'd get park hoppers, do a full day at Magic Kingdom, then experience the other 3 parks (Hollywood Studios, Epcot, Animal Kingdom) for at least a half day. A lot depends on what your family's stamina will allow, but every park is beautiful and special in it's own way. Also, although Disney World and Universal are two separate entities, they are only about a 20 min drive from each other and you can easily use Uber or Lyft to move from one to the other when it's time to switch. Happy planning!
 

NickPytlinski

Active Member
whatever you choose, your vacation will be magical. i never got the chance as a child or teenager to visit disneyworld. Myself and GF at the time finally booked when we were 21. since then we have been 5 times and got married at the grand floridan hotel. You and the family are going to have an amazing time.

It will be very difficult to fit so much in, in a short space of time. It seems you are very much planning to go to harry potter, we had a taxi driver that explained the best way to do both parks in a day! We rode almost every ride, apart from king kong which was down when we tried to get on it. otherwise it would have been nearly a 100% ride day. We go there for early entry to islands of adventure, straight to harry potter world (the new hagrid ride was not in operation so not sure how this would change things) Completed! work out way back to the front of the park hitting all the rides in our path. Back on the hogwarts expresss to studios and circle. This was in September so would probably be busier also.
Magic kingdom and animal kingdom are a must at WDW. There is too much to go into regarding those parks, they are amazing.

Unfortunately for everyone travelling from outside the USA, it comes at a big cost. Check out the offsite hotel prices and compare with on site prices for what services you want. We have never done an offsite shuttle to disney but other family members have and said it was spot on.
however for us We would stop on site at disney everytime if we could afford it. the buses are amazing service, the food is great and 'reasonable' priced! There is always a surcharge for disney table service meals compared to offsite dining.

either way

Enjoy the bubble of disney world and universal, whichever path you choose :)

feel free to ask myself or the rest of the Magic forum any questions, we have all been in your position at some point.
,
 

MickeyCB

Well-Known Member
There is a ton of good advice here, but if you have absolutely no experience with Disney and Universal, I would contact an experienced Disney/Universal travel agent to help you.
I believe their services will not cost you any more than if you try to do this yourself.
(If I am wrong about travel agency fees, posters please feel free to correct me).
 

Minthorne

Well-Known Member
I agree, to me your best bet is to get a travel agent.

There is a ton of good advice here, but if you have absolutely no experience with Disney and Universal, I would contact an experienced Disney/Universal travel agent to help you.
I believe their services will not cost you any more than if you try to do this yourself.
(If I am wrong about travel agency fees, posters please feel free to correct me).
 
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