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BBSDTfamily's avatar

Disney vacation planning- HELP!

Asked by BBSDTfamily (6737 points ) March 6th, 2011

I’ve never been to Disney World in Orlando and I’m trying to plan a trip for our family. Is there an advantage to staying in Disney World versus a hotel outside of the park? We want to go to SeaWorld and Busch Gardens too so we’d need to leave the park anyway. Also, if we need to stay in the park, where can I find details on every section of Disney World so I can plan our trip around what I think my son will enjoy? Also, what hotels inside the park are located for the shortest travel times from the hotel to the parks? I’ve heard of people having to travel an hour one-way inside the park just to get from their hotel to their destination! Planning this trip has really seemed overwhelming since I don’t know the difference between the Epcot Center and Animal Kingdom!!

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13 Answers

marinelife's avatar

This site explains the parks and contains maps of the parks.

Sea World is actually in Orlando. Disney World is about 25 miles south of the city of Orlando. Busch Gardens is in Tampa (about a 90-minute drive from Orlando).

All you get from staying in a hotel inside the parks is more expense.

josie's avatar

Best bet is always stay inside the park. More expenisive, but more fun. Pick one of the hotels that is right on the monorail.

MyNewtBoobs's avatar

Epcot is dedicated to international culture, Animal Kingdom focuses on animals, Hollywood Studios does “Show Business”, and the Magic Kingdom is the main park (with the castles and the spinning tea cups and whatnot).

IIRC, staying inside is a LOT more expensive – but you get to eat alongside Aladdin and Snow White, see the fireworks and water light shows (which are AWESOME!!!!), and get perks like that.

BarnacleBill's avatar

Plan on staying the the park for 2–3 days while you do the park, then move to a hotel outside the park for the rest of your stay.

janbb's avatar

I would stay inside the park for the Disney time too, preferably on the monorail. We found the best way to do Disney with children was to go in the morning to the park, then go back to the hotel for the afternoon and relax (by the pool if possible), then venture back in the late afternoon when the lines are shorter and attention spans revived. For that scenario, it is a good idea to be close in. Haven’t been in a long time, but we stayed once at the Contemporary, once at Caribbean Beach, and I think once at Fort Wilderness. The cheaper ones of the Disney resorts are just fine; you don’t need the fanciest. And as @BarnacleBill says, you can move to another motel for the non-Disney days. Look into a package that has hotel and admission tickets included.

Judi's avatar

The transportation in the park used yo be great, but last time I went it was awful.
If you stay IN the park, I would stay as close to pleasure island as possible. I think it’s pretty central and has the best transportation hub.
I would move out of the park for your Sea World and Busch Garden days. No reason to pay the premium for days you aren’t even there.
Also, be careful about how you buy your park and hotel tickets. I ended up paying for a day in the park even though we didn’t even arrive until 11:00 and the park was closed. They would not give us that day on the end of our trip.

Judi's avatar

You might also want to consider buying “The Unofficisl Guide to Walt Disney World”. It helps with times to do what and helps you not be part of the “herd” so much.

Rarebear's avatar

We stay outside the park (way cheaper) and take the shuttles.

breedmitch's avatar

If you like long lines, by all means don’t stay on Disney property.

The main advantage to staying on Disney property is being able to “Fast Pass” tickets for rides. In a nutshell, you put your hotel key in a kiosk at the entrance to a ride, it prints out a ticket giving you a time to come back and ride. (Even in the height of Summer, It’s usually not more that 20–25 minutes later.) So when it’s your time, you get in a special line that blows past all the poor people who couldn’t afford to stay on Disney property. “So long, Suckers!!” We send our fastest kid around the park with all our hotel keys and he comes back later with tickets to like, 5 rides. Then we leisurely walk to each one and basically get right on! Very little waiting.
I will also second The Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World. It’s really the best guide and there’s a new version printed each year. Get it!

Rarebear's avatar

@breedmitch You can fast pass even if you don’t stay at a hotel. All you need is a ticket.

breedmitch's avatar

Looks like you’re right. That’s new (since the last time I was there). The Disney site says that the fast pass vouchers now give an hour long time period to return (i.e. 1:20–2:20).

I don’t like that at all. And I definitely don’t like the Idea of having to stand in line with all those poor people from god-knows-where in middle America.

YARNLADY's avatar

There is zero advantage in staying in the park. It is more expensive and you still have to take a shuttle or drive to the other parks. When you say “park” you need to understand that the various Disney parks are not one park, but several different parks, and going from one to the other takes up to an hour.

Find a hotel based on the price, and use the shuttle to go to the various places you want to visit. Of course, make sure the hotel offers a shuttle – it is all the same service; a bus that stops at various motels and amusement parks, which is the reason for the long time it takes. We were at the end of the rounds, so spent a long time on the bus, but we had very cheap motel rates.

flourchild01's avatar

I’ve done both. It all depends on what experience you want for your family. In 2009 we travelled with our then almost 5 year old. We drove from Canada and stayed at Coronado Springs Resort, a Disney property. So, we took the bus rides to and from the park. Or drove ourselves to Downtown Disney. Yes, it takes quite a while to travel to and from the parks. Whether you stay on-site or off.

If you want some quiet and less interaction, outside of the Park visits then the other option is to stay off-site. Which we did in January 2010. There are plenty of Resort Complexes to chose from. Many right outside the Disney property.

You don’t mention the age of your child. If he/she is under 6 years of age, then don’t plan for anything longer than half day visits to the Park. During his/her best time zones. Otherwise, you’ll only end up with one tired little mouse!

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