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Help an overwhelmed dad out

flyfree432

New Member
Original Poster
Our family of 4 went to Disney for the first time 3 years ago, and have been back once since then. We have a trip planned for 4 days November 8-13. I've never stayed in a disney resort hotel, but I booked two resorts - All Star Movies and Art of Animation. We have a preferred room for $808 total at ASM, and $1094 at Art of Animation (Little Mermaid room). I also have a room reserved at Comfort Suites east maingate (rated 9.0/10.0) for $500 total. We also get 10% back on that so it's more like $450. We only use our hotel rooms to sleep and shower. We spend most of our time in the parks.

So, I need to cancel 2 of those rooms, but I'm trying to understand why staying at a Disney resort is worth so much money. I guess you get access to free transportation, extra magic hours, and free magic bands? I admit the free transportation looks good - Ubering to and from MCO costs $50 each way. Ubering to the resort each day from local hotels cost $15 each way last time. That's potentially $250 right there + $100 for parking at the parks. I don't care about the Magic bands because we still have them from our last trip.

I'm worried about the potentially long waits for buses. Monorails and boats at MK are an absolute nightmare at closing time, I can't imagine how many hours you have to wait for a bus back to your resort. When you stay on resort, can you get there well before rope drop? We're going to want to get in line quickly for Galaxy's Edge. I'm also not sure what to think of the possible lines for the Skyliner when it opens near AoA. How long does it take to bus from the resorts to the parks?

I also have a question about park hopping tickets. We can easily spend a day in MK without park hopping, but AK isn't our favorite (still a few rides we would like to do, and can easily be done with that park in 1/2 a day). 14 hours in Epcot would be a little much with extra magic hours thrown in, but we could start the day at Magic Kingdom and head on over. I guess, adding a 5th day is only $20 more per person, compared to $85 for a park hopper. Can we use the ticket for the 5th day instead of buying a park hopper?

Thanks!
 
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joejoe

Member
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If you're only using the rooms to sleep and shower, like you said, definitely stick with Comfort Inn. I think you will feel disappointed in the Disney Resorts if you're only viewing those rooms as functional vs. an extension of the parks. If you are staying off-site, you can easily get to rope drop, just arrive at the Transportation & Ticket Center at least one hour prior to official park opening. You can drive or take Uber. Galaxy's Edge is a wild card at this point. No one *really* knows what to expect as far as crowds, and for how long, so I'm not good on that one. What I can say is this: I think the Galaxy's Edge "Extra Extra Magic Hours" (6-9am daily perk for Disney Resort Hotel guests) will have expired by the time of your trip, so another reason not to book a Disney Resort Hotel. Someone else may want to fact-check me on that though. If it were me, early November, I would arrive no later than 2 hours prior to park opening at Hollywood Studios for Galaxy's Edge. You mentioned 14 hours in Epcot with extra magic hours, that's only if you're staying at a Disney Resort so you first need to make up your mind about that. :) Hope this helps and remember, SLOW DOWN, take in the sights at the parks (for example, look at the animals roaming around Animal Kingdom especially at the entrance and "Tree of Life Awakenings" at night) and most important, have fun!
 

Zé_Carioca

Active Member
I'm leaning towards a Disney resort for your case, since it helps you maximize park time.

So, you got some of the Disney benefits down. As you mentioned, transportation is a great benefit. But yes, the lines can get super long after nighttime shows, however you would face a similar problem trying to find an Uber while regular guests leaving the show are also trying to request ubers.

For your bus question, it really depends since WDW is huge (twice the size of manhattan I think) so some resorts are closer to some parks and further from others. I'd say most rides take around 15-20 minutes, but keep in mind both disney resorts you mentioned are values and are farther from most parks (to make up for the lower pricing).

Another Disney Benefit are extra magic hours (some days one of the 4 parks opens earlier or closes later than usual and only resort guests can be at the park during those extra hours. This seems like a good benefit for your family from what you have described.

Another benefit is that guests staying at Disney resorts get to make their FastPass reservations 60 days before regular guests (that is 30 extra days). Might be good for your family because if you are on top of it, it can make it easier to get a fast pass to the more popular rides.

I'd suggest choosing All Star Movies for you since many rooms have been renovated and at AoA the little mermaid rooms are the farthest from the lobby, which would add a lot of walking time to your journey to the parks.

Lastly, answering your hopping question. No, you cannot use your extra ticket to park hop. You would have to buy a park hopper for that. I don't think you will need it though, with the addition of Pandora at DAK you might find that you want to enjoy your time there.

Edit: I just realized you mentioned Galaxy's Edge. Art of Animation will have a new transportation system (Disney Skyliner) that has lines to DHS and Epcot, for that reason i'd actually recommend you stay at AoA. It might help you get to DHS even faster!
 
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flyfree432

New Member
Original Poster
Thank you for your help - these are great answers. I'm still not super clear on which resort we should do.
  1. Since the cost of staying on resort and using Disney transportation the whole way is so close to the cost of staying off resort when you add up all of the extra fees for transportation and parking, I guess I do like the added benefit of extra magic hours and reserving fast passes 60 days in advance (Maybe we'll actually get to ride Pandora this time?!?!). As long as all of you feel like Disney Transportation is good enough to get us there early enough each day to get started. I'm a big fan of being there at rope drop and running like hell to places like the mine ride at MK. I am also all for leaving and taking an afternoon nap around 2:00 PM. Then again, it's usually 90 degrees and humid when we have gone in the past (May and July).
  2. Staying at AofA in a Little Mermaid room will cost an extra $250 over ASM. We are only going to DHS for the one day that they have an extra magic hour from 8-9 AM. We could simply Uber out there super early that morning to get in line, but I am hoping we will be able to reserve our spot at Savvi's online by that point, which is the only thing I'm concerned about missing out on. It's for our 13 year old's birthday. The uber will probably be $15-20, but then we're saving $250 too...so it seems like that would be the best option right? Otherwise what Zé_Carioca said makes sense. We can use the skyliner to get to both Epcot and DHS, as long as the skyliner is also open early enough. Otherwise, just getting to ride the skyliner isn't worth $250 to me.
  3. The park hopper would cost us $340 more, so I guess it doesn't make sense to do that. We can just slow down and take our time in Epcot and Animal Kingdom.
 

Zé_Carioca

Active Member
I agree with 1 and 3. I do think a Disney resort might be worth it in your case and do not necessarily see the need for a park hopper upgrade given the price difference.

As for 2, other things to consider between the two Disney resorts that might make the price difference worth it:
AoA is newer and has nicer amenities, I know you mentioned that you only need a place to sleep but if you ever want to do a pool day or eat at the resort AoA will have a much better pool and food court.

In terms of buses, I know sometimes the all-stars share buses and stop at all three resorts (I hear it depends on season and demand), so that might increase bus ride times.
Edit: similarly, since Pop is across from AoA, I hear of families crossing the bridge between the resorts to catch a shorter bus line or an earlier bus (this might add convenience to you, it is a further walk but a possibly shorter wait).

Room is the only thing all-star wins at, they recently remodeled the rooms while the little mermaid rooms do have that old Disney room feel. The new rooms have wooden floors and a modern design, while the old rooms are your typical Disney room. Similarly, the new all-star rooms have 2 queen beds while the little mermaid rooms have 2 fulls, if that matters to your family. Some people hate the new remodels because the Disney feel matters to them, it varies from person to person.

All in all, if price is a major factor go All Star, but if the price increase is in the budget i'd go AoA as the amenities could make up for the price difference.
 

BoarderPhreak

Well-Known Member
If you have kids and plan to move around the parks, it's hard to beat on-property resorts, especially for mid-day siestas/pool time. Keep in mind that while Comfort Inn has complimentary shuttles, their stops and times may be limited - then there's the actual time in transit to/from WDW. Kids don't do waiting well, at least in the mornings... Evenings, they'll be passed out regardless.
 

storm180

New Member
As a person who has stayed on and off property, it is far easier and sometimes cheaper staying on property. Remember, there are also Disney activities at the hotels for the kids during off times, you don't have that on outside properties. Uber and lyft can get expensive if you are using them every day. The lines aren't bad for the Art of Animation buses, the all stars do get crowded at times and especially during park closing but most resort buses are crowded at closing time.

My advice is to take your time, you don't have to leave when everyone is leaving. Either leave before the park closes or don't leave when everyone else is leaving the park. Find a place to sit for a bit and wait for the crowd to leave. Buses are running every 20 min and sometimes even shorter during park closing. If you don't feel like waiting you can also splurge for a lyft or uber. I did that last year leaving Hollywood studios but I also had a dinner reservation I had to get to at another location and didn't want to be late. Remember this too when using lyft and uber, you will probably get caught up in the same traffic leaving the park, it gets congested both for the buses and cars. I would just wait it out on the bus if you have nowhere else to be.

Storm180
 

nickys

Premium Member
You can drive or take Uber. Galaxy's Edge is a wild card at this point. No one *really* knows what to expect as far as crowds, and for how long, so I'm not good on that one. What I can say is this: I think the Galaxy's Edge "Extra Extra Magic Hours" (6-9am daily perk for Disney Resort Hotel guests) will have expired by the time of your trip, so another reason not to book a Disney Resort Hotel. Someone else may want to fact-check me on that though.
I wanted to pick up on this.

The extra EMH for Galaxy’s Edge we currently scheduled to end on November 1st, I think. However, the half marathon is on the 2nd, and that may well be the reason for that end date, as they can’t have the race going through DHS during EMH (or it would be unwise to do so, at least).

Depending on crowds, the extra EMH could return the next day. Even if just daily EMH of an hour or possibly two hours could make a difference to plans for SW:GE.

Unfortunately, what they decide to do isn’t going to be known for a few weeks at least, possibly towards the end of September.
 

DisneyOutsider

Well-Known Member
DON'T book on-property just for Extra Magic Hours. Extra Magic Hours is really a trash benefit these days and is definitely not worth changing your plans over. What you SHOULD do is find out which park is having morning EMH, and avoid that park completely. I do this now even when staying on-property.
 

mdcpr

Well-Known Member
DON'T book on-property just for Extra Magic Hours. Extra Magic Hours is really a trash benefit these days and is definitely not worth changing your plans over. What you SHOULD do is find out which park is having morning EMH, and avoid that park completely. I do this now even when staying on-property.
Why is it a trash benefit? I’m staying onsite and was planning to take advantage of it.
 

DisneyOutsider

Well-Known Member
Why is it a trash benefit? I’m staying onsite and was planning to take advantage of it.
It's trash because all it does is guarantee that the park will be very busy for that morning/evening. This is more true of evening EMH especially, and is worse at MK than the other parks, but it remains true in general across all parks. The masses ascend upon the park with EMH waiting to "take advantage", and all it ends up meaning is bigger crowds and higher wait times.

My suggestion to you would be to avoid the park with EMH. It will give you a more pleasant park experience at whichever park you choose to attend for that morning/evening.
 

Tom 55

Well-Known Member
You never specified who "we" are and you list yourself as overwhelmed dad. So I am thinking you are with children. When we had young kids they could not do 12+hours at the parks. We would come back to resort for a couple of hours. Nap or use pool. Just refresh. Then head back to park. This is were park hoppers work out. Spend morning at one park and night at another.
 

jaklgreen

Well-Known Member
I can't imagine how many hours you have to wait for a bus back to your resort
Nobody waits "hours" to get back to their resort at night. Everyone is just tired and cranky so 15 minutes FEELS like an hour to them. We have been going for over 20 years and always stay on property and use the bus. With a few exceptions(maybe 5 times in over 30 visits) did we wait at our resort for a bus longer then a half hour. The "waiting for the bus" complaint is exaggerated when in reality, most people are a bit impatient. You can not use another day's ticket for the same day at a different park. If you want to hop, you need to pay for hopper. I have seen it several times where people try to do that and are denied. I would just stay on property, especially if you have children with you.
 

Hula Baloo

Member
I will personally never stay off-site again. Of course all of the amenities are a plus such as magic bands, transportation, advanced Fastpass selection, etc. My main reason is that I want to feel immersed when I'm there and the only way to do that is staying in the bubble.
 

nickys

Premium Member
It's trash because all it does is guarantee that the park will be very busy for that morning/evening. This is more true of evening EMH especially, and is worse at MK than the other parks, but it remains true in general across all parks. The masses ascend upon the park with EMH waiting to "take advantage", and all it ends up meaning is bigger crowds and higher wait times.

My suggestion to you would be to avoid the park with EMH. It will give you a more pleasant park experience at whichever park you choose to attend for that morning/evening.
That advice doesn’t hold true for actually using EMH though.i think OP is planning hopper tickets, in which case they can hop if necessary.

For two months, if taking your advice, you would only go to Epcot then?
 

DisneyOutsider

Well-Known Member
That advice doesn’t hold true for actually using EMH though.i think OP is planning hopper tickets, in which case they can hop if necessary.

For two months, if taking your advice, you would only go to Epcot then?
Why would Epcot be your only option? There is only one park doing morning EMH and then only one in the evening, so all other parks are in play for that corresponding morning/evening.

And Yes, it holds true for using EMH. If DHS is having EMH, don't go there for EMH. The lines will be just as long if not longer than usual, exacerbated by the fact that they don't always open all of the attractions up for morning EMH.

If MK is having EMH, you can bet that the crowds will show up. You'll get more time in the park, but you definitely won't get short lines.

Now, EMH used to be great. They would keep the park open a couple hours longer and the crowds would be lesser. I miss those days, but they're gone now.

My .02 is that EMH just isn't worth the hassle anymore.
 

flyfree432

New Member
Original Poster
Thanks everyone. I'm digesting everyone's comments.

Now I'm hearing that you absolutely don't want to use your extra magic hours and I want to avoid those parks??

This is what I had narrowed it down to for our family of 4 (2 adults, an 11 year old girl and a 13 year old boy).

I was going to get 4 day, no park hopper tickets since it would add $340 for park hopper. We could do it (with or without it we are staying under our limit for tickets and the hotel), but why not save it if it isn't that important to get it?
  • Sat. Nov 9 - Magic Kingdom (9a-9p) - Magic kingdom closes at 6 PM on both Mon & Tues for the Christmas party event)
  • Sun. Nov 10 - Hollywood Studios (8a-9p) - with morning EMH
  • Mon. Nov 11 - Animal Kingdom (8a-9p) - with morning EMH
  • Tues. Nov 12 - Epcot (9a-11p) - with evening EMH
I have a preferred room at All Star Movies for 5 nights for $808.
I also have a little mermaid room at AofA for 5 nights for $1084.

I need to pick which one to cancel and which one to keep.

I'm reading that the ASM resort actually has nicer rooms now (we have a reservation for 2 queens), but that maybe transportation isn't as friendly or that the amenities and food court isn't as nice as AOA. ASM also doesn't have the skyliner to get to Epcot and DHS. If the $300 more for the Little Mermaid room, skyliner, and better amenities is worth it, no problem. If not, then well, we mine as well save the cash and spend it on better restaurants in the park or gifts.

All things considered, I'll be happy if we get into Galaxy's Edge, get to ride the ride, and get to do Savvi's workshop while we are there. If lines are a real problem on days with extra magic hours and we're better off and will get to do more if we avoid those parks, I'll switch our days around.
 
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hanwill

Well-Known Member
I can't comment on your choices- but I will say this about getting to the park early. I was at Animal Kingdom on day 2 of the opening of Pandora. It was complete coincidence, but they had extra magic hours starting at 7.... so for us that meant getting on the first bus out to have a chance to ride it. Well at 6:00 we were on the bus- and it was standing room only and we left people at the resort....Throughout the day- it was a solid 4 hour wait to ride.... So- just be aware that the lines for Galaxy's edge will be there and people will be willing to get up all hours of the day and night to ride it.... I was also at Hollywood Studios about an hour and a half before opening (about 6months after Slinky opened) and the race to get to slinky dog dash was a nuts... In both cases Disney does everything they can to control the crowd and the mad rush into the lines....

if you don't plan on being at the hotel much, or using the pool- I would choose All Star Movies. I did stay there last spring break, and we loved it. We got up one morning and we encountered a ton of Herbie the love bug cars parked in the Herbie section. Evidently there was some kind of Herbie club there for a party. It was really cute to see them all... Ill put up a pic if I can find them. (Just to say you can have a magical experience anywhere!)
 
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