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Stay onsite at Disney or not?

Manchester
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Stay onsite at Disney or not?

Hi, we are planning a trip to Orlando with two boys aged 6 and 7. We are at the early stages of planning and have never been to Orlando before (but have to to Disney Paris twice). Any help with the following would be appreciated!

- If we were to go for 2 weeks in October and were at WDW for Halloween, is it likely to be very busy? Would Christmas be better??

- we can’t dedcide whether to stay for 2 weeks in a resort at Disney like the Disney Port Orleans Resort Riverside OR

- ideally we would also like to visit Universal, Sea World and Discovery cove, but if we want to do this should we still stay at Disney as seems a waste to stay at Disney but visit other things also

- should we hire a car if we were staying onsite at a Disney Resort for the full 2 weeks

- we only have 2 weeks so it is realistic to fit Disney and the the other attractions??

Any help/advice would be most appreciated!

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Orlando
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Central Florida, FL
Disney's Port Orleans Resort - Riverside
Disney's Port Orleans...
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Orlando, FL
SeaWorld Orlando
SeaWorld Orlando
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37 replies to this topic
Berkshire, England
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1. Re: Stay onsite at Disney or not?

Christmas is by far the very busiest time of year! The parks are heaving and have been known to be closed because they are full!

You do not have to stay at a Disney resort for the whole of your holiday. You could stay off site (which will be a lot cheaper!), or stay for one week at Disney and one week on site at Universal.

I would hire a car unless you want to spend you whole holiday waiting on public transport and planning around timetables. It will give you the freedom to come and go as you please and you change your plans according to how you feel on the day and of course, the weather.

Disneyworld in Orlando is nothing like Disneyland Paris. The parks cover an area of over 40 square miles and the on site hotels are not within walking distance of the majority of the parks.

A good place to start your research is to buy the excellent book "Brit Guide to Orlando". It's invaluable, especially for first timers and will take you from landing at the airport to going home again and everything in between.

Another way of gaining masses of information is to read some of the thousands of posts on here that interest you. Everything you could want to know about a holiday to the theme parks has been covered hundreds of times.

Happy planning!

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Orlando
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2. Re: Stay onsite at Disney or not?

Onsite vs Offsite welcome to one of the more emotive topics ;)

Halloween and Christmas are popular visiting times and will both be busy however Christmas is crazy busy. You cant really compare WDW with Disneyland Paris - Paris is just nowhere near the scale/size. You've got the 6 lands (incl. water parks) with Magic Kingdom being enormous. You could easily spend just 2 weeks at Disney and still possibly not do everything. However you could also fit in other parks depends - a lot may depend on budget as more parks, means more tickets, means more money. You can stay one night at a Universal deluxe and get express passes for 2 days (still need park ticket).

I would say that if you are staying onsite you don't need a car especially if you are looking at POR which has more than one means of transport. A car is good if you are planning trips or going out of Disney. From Disney you can also hire a car if you wanted one for e.g. a couple of days. Or alternatively more and more are just going Uber to places and depending on how much offsite you do it can work out way cheaper then a car.

What you have to remember with a car is if you are taking it to the parks you have to park it and then get back to it and drive back to your hotel - this can take time depending on how busy it is. The park transportation may be as quick (although rather more crowded).

Everyone is different and will have an opinion - but staying onsite I personally just don't see the need for a car.

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3. Re: Stay onsite at Disney or not?

If you time it right you can catch the fall decorations and the Christmas decorations. I would do a split stay stay one week in Disney one offsite with a car. If you time it too catch Christmas too you can save a day on your Disney tickets and go back one day your second week.

We love Port Orleans Riverside. It’s a step up from the values but not as expensive as the deluxe. It’s our favorite moderate. The boat to Disney Springs is a great perk.

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Disney's Port Orleans Resort - Riverside
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4. Re: Stay onsite at Disney or not?

I personally prefer staying in a Villa, as a hotel room with 2 kids for 2-3 weeks can become a bit stressful.

But I also like the idea of doing a split stay, a week at Disney then onto a Villa or a centrally located hotel near Sea World and Universal would be an option.

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SeaWorld Orlando
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Flintshire N Wales
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5. Re: Stay onsite at Disney or not?

Ok... as they say it's a subjective topic... we have never stayed on site at Disney, we do a suit or a condo as my 2 kids are 19 & 21 , so they don't relish sharing a room with mum...

Last visit we stayed 12 days at a condo unit off universal boulevard, was easy for the kids to get an uber to pop off to Disney on their own ..then we did 2 nights at universal HRH to gain advantage of early entrance, which was brill, like having the park to ourselves, and the fast express passes that came with staying on site at a premium hotel..

we would love to do a Disney on site and universal holiday one day.. 10 at Disney in a suit room with 2 bedrooms and 4 at either HRH or portofino

Manchester
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6. Re: Stay onsite at Disney or not?

Thanks everyone! I have read before about split stays but then some people say that you easily waste a day in checking out/travelling to your other hotel/checking in etc.

I guess we could do 10 days on-site at Disney and then go and stay at Universal for 4 days to get the express pass. What attracts me about staying at Disney is getting the extra magic hours as we found that very useful in Paris (appreciate Paris is not the same) but it must cut out some queuing!

Am I right in that you just need a day each for Sea World and Discovery’s cove so we could hire a car one day at Disney and visit these?

Also sounds like we wouldn’t need a car if we stayed at Riverside as access to the Parks is easy. We did think about Animal Kingdom but seems like that’s the furthest from the parks so just impact on travelling back and forth from the park?!

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SeaWorld Orlando
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7. Re: Stay onsite at Disney or not?

AKL is a wonderful place to stay but you are right it's far away and only has one means of transport (buses) and even in summer they are busy. Then if you decide to go back out at night you have all the travelling again. At the hotel there are boards saying when the buses are coming but there is no "queueing" system so it quickly becomes a free for all.

Possibly stretching the budget again but Beach Club is walkable to Epcot, Hollywood Studios and Boardwalk so plenty on doorstep.

The Universal thing is great - will definitely be looking into that the next time we plan Universal.

Happy Planning!

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Epcot
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8. Re: Stay onsite at Disney or not?

We just got back from a week at Riverside. We live within driving distance so we had our car but still wanted to take the bus to MK. We did fine with the bus for the Halloween party on Columbus Day but when we went back for our full day on Wednesday, we had an issue with the bus and ended up driving. POR has 4 stops and for the MK it goes WEST-NORTH-EAST-SOUTH. We were at the EAST depot and the wait times for the bus kept changing. When we saw a MK bus go right past us, we decided to take our car. My parents decided to wait it out but told the bus driver for a HS or AK bus that they had been waiting forever. They sent a bus right away and ended up catching us just as we got in line for our first ride. So, if you do stay at POR, look at staying in the Alligator Bayou section so you will be near the WEST depot. We drove over to the west depot on our 2nd MK day and walked right on a bus. Or another option is to stay at French Quarter. They only have one bus stop. I headed over there one morning to get beignets and I really liked the feel of that resort. It was more personal. We would consider a stay there as well.

We also had dinner at AKL on our first night. That place is amazing! Can't comment on the bus situation though.

And just keep in mind that around Columbus Day (the 2nd Monday in October), the parks are busy. Many southern US schools have fall break. I was surprised how much busier they were compared to our trip in September last year. I'm sure it's no where near the Christmas craziness but I just wanted you to be prepared.

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Valley Stream, NY
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9. Re: Stay onsite at Disney or not?

Personally could not stay in a small hotel room for two weeks. If anything I would split the stay. Universal hotels have free shuttles to Seaworld and Aquatica so you could do Seaworld from your stay there (just need to book them the day/night before). There are perks to on site at both and many do a split stay. You really don't lose a day, just get up early and switch hotels, when you check in (whichever way you decide to do it) to the second hotel even if the room isn't ready they'll hold your bags and you can go off to a park.

Christmas/New Year's is the most crowded time of year and weather can be iffy :)

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10. Re: Stay onsite at Disney or not?

"I have read before about split stays but then some people say that you easily waste a day in checking out/travelling to your other hotel/checking in etc."

Not necessarily; if you get going early in the day, you can easily move you the 2nd location in an hour or two. Usually, you can check in even if the room isn't ready and the resorts will hold your luggage until it is.

We've often chosen our "moving day" as a rest day away from the parks and at our age, we need some rest days built in anyway. In a two-week stay, you will need one or two as well most likely, so just use one of them to be your moving day if need be, but not absolutely necessary either.

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