Orlando/Tampa in December advice

I'm going to Orlando/Tampa Bay this December and I am looking for advice on the best places to stay, best tickets deals for Disney and Busch Gardens. We are visiting between Christmas and New Years. My brother is in the high school marching band and they are marching in a parade at Disney and performing at the Outback Bowl. I know that it will be busy but it is the only time of year when my entire family can get off school and work at the same time.Any help would be greatly appreciated!
Jeff's avatar
You're going one of the worst weeks of the year. Good luck.

Jeff - Editor - CoasterBuzz.com - My Blog

Agreed, I also have gone that week a few times and it's amazing how crowded those parks can get. Test Track was 3 hours standby with fast passes gone an hour after the park opened (thank you single rider line!), and the Magic Kindgom was at maximum capacity a few times where they weren't letting anyone else in. Sea World was just as bad with people waiting 90 minutes to 2 hours before a show started so they could get in. It took close to an hour to get to the exit of the Magic Kingdom after the fireworks one night and then they had ropes set up for switchbacks just to get to the monorail to take you back to the ticket and transportation center.

I suggest getting to the parks at opening and grabbing as many fast passes as you can at Disney before it gets very crowded and getting on the more popular rides at that time. *** Edited 10/23/2006 3:38:08 AM UTC by YoshiFan***

Buy the Unoffical Guide to WDW, they have day planners in the back of the book that worked wonders for me during the week before Easter I went one year, never waited more then an hour for any ride my first time through (afterwards, pre fastpass, I choose to wait it out for some of my more favorite rides.) Also check out the Disney sites, they know everything about those parks.

2022 Trips: WDW, Sea World San Diego & Orlando, CP, KI, BGW, Bay Beach, Canobie Lake, Universal Orlando

rollergator's avatar
Between Halloween and Spring Break, the parks in FL are all basically deserted...'cept for that ONE week. Your ONLY good chance of scoring rides is staying on-site...and using all the SR lines that are available....and spend extra at Universal for the FP option if you DON'T stay on-site. I believe Disney still does the Magic After Hours or whatever it's called for hotel guests...

Ride popular rides EARLY. Do arrive *at* opening. And good luck...you're gonna need it.

^Dont arrive at opening, arrive at least a half an hour before, because if you arrive at opening youll have a couple thousand people in front of you. If your lucky Disney will open part of the park early (usually the rides dont open early, but it does give you less "olympic speed" walking distance between you and the first ride on Space Mt/Splash MT/Nemo/Sorin/Summit Plummit/RRC/ToT/Safari/Expeditdition Everest.

2022 Trips: WDW, Sea World San Diego & Orlando, CP, KI, BGW, Bay Beach, Canobie Lake, Universal Orlando

I second the Unofficial Guide advice, and the get there before the parks open advice.

For Disney specifically, I also really recommend you subscribe to www.tourguidemike.com He's a former guest relations CM at WDW who now makes his real living guiding high rollers around central florida's theme parks at $150/hr. For $20, you'll learn what he knows about getting thorugh the Disney parks and keeping your sanity.

Gemini's avatar
I wouldn't dream of doing WDW without Tour Guide Mike, let alone the week between Christmas and New Year's. Money more than well spent.

Walt Schmidt - Co-Publisher, PointBuzz

Thanks for all the advice. I realize that it is going to be extremely busy but I’ve been to WDW before so I am not worried if I miss out on a ride because of crowds. I believe we are just going to go to WDW for one day, one park, mostly likely the MK. The main purpose of going would be to see my brother in the parade.

What I am really looking forward to is Busch Gardens Tamp- I mean Africa. Are the crowds at BGA as bad as WDW during this time of the year?

Also, I guess I should have been more specific, but I was wondering if anyone had any advice on the best places to stay (or not to stay) in Orlando or Tampa and what kind of discounts can I find for park tickets? Not looking forward to the sixty whatever dollars it is to get into WDW so if anyone knows of any good deals I would greatly appreciate it! *** Edited 10/23/2006 5:25:14 PM UTC by Amnesiac***

eightdotthree's avatar
I went to BGA in early December and it was fairly slow, but one train operations on everything but Sheikra made for longer (20 minutes) waits then there needed to be. Disney was crazy busy and Universal had a decent crowd.

That was early December though, not the week you are going.

Lord Gonchar's avatar
I've seen that Tour Guide Mike site before and was wondering if it's worth it. With two very credible recommendations and a trip to Orlando next summer, I'm definitely jumping on that.

Thanks guys. :)

rollergator's avatar
^ Summer? Take the kids outta school and come down at a better time...i.e., ANY other time...LOL!
BGA is my homepark. It will be really busy that week. The trick (like most parks) is to go to the back of the park first. Everyone rides Sheikra or Montu first- Go to Kumba first or Timbuktu.

If you have the money(really pricey), they offer guided tours that allow you to ride everything without waiting! If you wanna splurge just a little, they also offer valet parking for $20, just $12.00 more than the traditional parking, and well worth it.

I dont know whats going to be going on in Congo at that point, evidently they are getting rid of Python after Halloween, and that area will be getting tore up.

Have fun.

I also wanted to add that there are tons of hotels in Tampa, and quite a few near BGA,

BUT dont stay at any hotel located on Busch Blvd, they are ALL fleabags. There are a couple moderately priced, well maintained motels on 30th street or Fowler Ave. I would call asap for a reservation.

For single-day WDW tickets, the only way to get them cheaply is to sit through a time-share presentation. It will cost you about 2 hours+ of your time to do so, plus lots of aggravation. My time is worth more than that, so I've never bothered. Ponly up the $70 ('cause that's what it is now, with taxes) and smile.

There are tons of cheap fleabag places along US-192. If you are not particular, just pick one. It will have a bed. Probably.

A step up would be a Cypress Pointe 2-BR condo rental through www.hotelkingdom.com. Usually you can get them for about $100/night.

If you want to live large in Orlando, though, I'm now totally sold on renting privately-owned vacation homes---tons of space, excellent amenities, not much money. We're going down late Feb/early Mar this year---which is Peak season for Disney hotels---and renting a 5BR/5BA house w/equipped kitchen, washer/dryer, TV/DVDs in every room, private heated pool and hot tub, no more than 12 minutes from any WDW theme park parking lot, for less than $1200 for the week. Last year I had a 3BR/3BA townhouse with a private heated plunge pool for less than $800 for the week, at the same time of year.

True, there is no maid service, but at those prices, I can put my dishes in the dishwasher all by myself. The space and privacy is well worth it for us.

You'll find plenty to pick from at www.vrbo.com. I like the Windsor Hills, Windsor Palms, and Emerald Island subdivisions, but would also consider Indian Creek, Rolling Hills, Oak Island Cove, and Formosa Gardens.

rollergator's avatar
^ "There are tons of cheap fleabag places along US-192. If you are not particular, just pick one. It will have a bed. Probably."

Sweet! :)

Same can NOT necessarily be said for the area surrounding BGT...er, BGA.

Gemini's avatar
If you're looking for a cheap, but reasonable, place on 192, try the Seralago Hotel and Suites. It's a former Holiday Inn property. No one would ever confuse it with the Marriott, but it's better than the price indicates. Plus there's a light and a cross street that gets you to the Osceola Parkway quickly. You can get to and from Disney without ever driving on 192.

Walt Schmidt - Co-Publisher, PointBuzz

Lord Gonchar's avatar

Brian Noble said:
You'll find plenty to pick from at www.vrbo.com. I like the Windsor Hills, Windsor Palms, and Emerald Island subdivisions, but would also consider Indian Creek, Rolling Hills, Oak Island Cove, and Formosa Gardens.

You may have just talked me out of staying on-property when we go. Some nice places at ridiculous prices. I could easily see spending two weeks in some of those. :)

Kick The Sky's avatar
If you are staying in Tampa, avoid the area around BGA and stick to a hotel near the airport. The airport is only about twenty minutes in heavy traffic from the park. I've stayed on the Dale Mabry a few times at different hotels and have never been disappointed. You may have problems getting in, however, with Raymond James Stadium being on Dale Mabry ;)

Another option is out in Brandon. I used to stay out there for business quite often. If you stay right off of I-75 there is a really nice LaQuinta there that is about ten minutes from the park and about 45 minutes from Disney. It is only a few miles from the I-75/I-4 split, so it is super convenient. There is also no lack of things to do in the area with a huge mall and a ton of restaurants as well. There used to be a mini-golf place there with live gators, but I don't know if that is still there or not.

Certain victory.

rollergator's avatar
^ If the Bucs lose this weekend, I wouldn't worry too much about the traffic around the RJ... ;)

But I try to remain optimistic... :)

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