Orlando/Tampa in December advice

I still think its worth it to stay on property though, both at Disney and Universal, if you can afford it. There are so much free perks and extra fees (like parking, non resort discount on tickets, etc) associated with being off property that it just doesnt make it worth it, especially since staying on property really makes you feel like the world stopped spinning, at least for me. Looking forward to my return to Florida this summer though, cant wait to ride Shiekra and Everest!

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

Lord Gonchar's avatar
Yeah, but the prospect of a private pool & spa, multiple bedrooms with plush king beds, big screen TV's, playstations and gamerooms for the 'down' time greatly outweighs the annoying hotel room experience.

Even if we hit a park a day for two solid weeks, that's what - like $150 in parking.

Actually looking into it, there's not many perks that come with staying on property. (and those that matter can usually be bought)

All I know is 5 days at the Animal Kingdom Lodge, 4 days at the Royal Pacific and 5 days at the Nick hotel come to somewhere between $4000 and $5000 (looking at July 07) - For less than half of that I can have all the amentities listed above in a sweet 4 or 5 bedroom home and use some of that savings to score something cool like a convertible Crossfire for the duration of the stay.

I really thought there was no chance I'd stay off property until I started looking at the vacation rental site. Now the entire family is convinced there's probably no way we'll choose to stay on-property. :)

^Youre willing to give up the unlimited front of the line express passes that come with staying at Universal?

I guess we just have different priorities, when I make the trek to Orlando, hotel amenities dont matter because its the only place where I stay at the parks from opening to close every day (way too much money, have to get there at opening to not wait 2+ hours for the big rides and all the parks have those fantastic night shows) so as long as my room is acceptable (no bugs, nice bed, etc) thats all I care about. Allthough I still think its worth it to stay on property, especially at Universal. *** Edited 10/28/2006 1:23:21 AM UTC by Touchdown***

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

Lord Gonchar's avatar
You can buy front of line access at Universal.

^Last time I checked you can only use that once a day at each ride, I believe the on site people get it either unlimited (unless they went back to restricting people's re rides, but even then you still got to use it twice.)

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

Lord Gonchar's avatar
No, that's how it works. In our case though, it's only been 5 years since we've lived in FL, so I don't exactly need a dozen laps on Hulk or Dragons or Spidey...been on it all before more times than I can count. We're just missing those parks after that time and the kids are at a great age to go back. Seems like the year to go and have a great time. (and there's always the Universal VIP tours to be had with the thousands of saved dollars :) )

Besides, if I just wanted a place to crash, I'd be at the Marriott or Hilton or something like that.

Truthfully, the more I look at it, the more I wonder why anyone stays on property for anything other than a few days.

There's a handful of conveniences and perks that are nice, but it seems to me that to balance the value to the costs, the longer you stay the cheaper you have to go in properties. If this was just 3 or 4 or 5 days at Disney or Universal, I'd stay on property without hesitation, but we're looking (at this point) to do...

5 days at Disney parks, 3 at the Universal parks, then finish it off with the full compliment of Orlando parks (Sea World, Busch, Old Town, Cypress Gardens, etc) and have an 'open' day or two to just do whatever (Orlando things, Citywalk, Downtown Disney and such) and on top of that we have more than a few friends and family in Florida who we expect to drop by in intervals and the extra BR's in a house would be nice to handle the revolving door of visitors.

And hell, we could get the 4200 sf, 7BR, Rock N Roll themed home for two weeks for roughly the same price as the dinky rooms at those three hotels I mentioned. ;)

I can spend TWO weeks in Brazil for le$$ than what it would cost me to spend ONE week at The Mouse House! (I spent two weeks in the Amazon last year.) If you plan to go to Disney just bring LOTS of MAD MONEY!


For Disney, I'm with Gonch. (Unsurprising, because it was my idea.) We absolutely cannot stand staying in a single hotel room for the week that we visit. That means at least two Value rooms, a Ft. Wilderness cabin, or a DVC 1-BR Villa or above. At a minimum, during our dates, that's $225 per night, or an extra $1000 over what we spend on a private vacation home.

We would get the onsite benefits, but really, they aren't worth that much to us---Magical Express (which we don't use, because we rent a car even when we stay onsite), on-site transportation (great to MK, but we use our rental car everywhere else unless we're tipping a few at Epcot that evening), Extra Magic Hour (though we don't use the evening hours because our kids are morning people not night owls) and free parking ($10/day).

The only one of those that really interests us is morning EMH at one or two parks. But, that's easy to get---book yourself a campground at $70, and bingo, you have EMH. Even if I booked my rental home and a campground for the entire length of my stay, it's STILL about $300 cheaper than staying in two el-cheapo onsite hotel rooms, but it is vastly more pleasant.

The one point I won't argue with is the "world stops spinning onsite" part. That's unquestionably true. And, if it were just my wife and I going down, we'd go ahead and just get a hotel room on site and enjoy it. But, with kids, well, the equation comes out differently for us.

The pain of having to sit in a dark hotel room for an hour every evening at 9PM pretending to be asleep until the kids nod off outweighs a lot of that onsite magic.

We haven't done Universal yet on our Florida visits, because our kids are still more in the Disney demographic. And, there, the onsite benefit of no lines anywhere ever is a lot more useful. But, I bet the same argument works out there. You probably only need the "as many times as you like" three days over the course of a week, and that's only two hotel nights---it probably works out less expensively to rent a house, and also book a room onsite for the two nights amidst the days you need access than it is to keep just the onsite room the whole time. Even if the cost is the same, the comfort level is just vastly superior.

I've even looked into buying DVC to see if that changes the equation. But, the annual maintenance fees on the points for us to get a 1BR DVC villa for a week's visit are higher than we spend renting on the retail vacation home market, and that ignores the sunk capital cost of buying the points in the first

^Absoultly agree about the only need 2-3 days thing. Our 15 day trip is broken up as so:

2 Travel Days
1 Day for BGA (2 night at a Tampa Hotel)
.5 Days for Sea World (using an SP, only want Kracken, Journey to Atlantis, and the Shamu show)
2.5 Days for UO/IOA (3 Nights at HRH)
9 Days at Disney* (8 nights at Disney)

*I realize that most people couldnt do this but I love Disney, and its allways held a special trip in my heart, first time I visited it was 5 years old, and this will only be my 4th visit.

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

If you are more than a couple, give the vacation home route a try, and see what you think. You might really enjoy it.

We're at the point where our family vacations just don't involve hotels anymore. We normally have one winter week in Florida with just our family, and one summer week at the Outer Banks in N. Carolina with my in-laws. In both cases, we rent a privately-owned home rather than two to four hotel rooms/suites somewhere. In summer '07 we're going with the in-laws to a mountain resort in Colorado, and they have a house we'll be able to stay in.

If I'm doing a single overnight near a park, a hotel room is okay. But, for an extended trip, well, I just can't take it.

Oh, and at Sea World, you might want to try to catch the Odyssea show, too. I saw Viva at SWSA last weekend, and it was really fantastic---I enjoyed it more than Believe. Odyssea isn't quite the same, but it is supposedly similar.

I expected to only spend a few hours at Sea World for Steel Eel, Great White, and maybe a show, then moving on to SFFT. I ended up spending the day there, and really had a great time.

I had a room at a motel across from medival knights for 23.00 a night with breakfast .It was a little run down.But the sheets were clean and breakfast was toast,bagels, cereal and OJ or coffee but for a family of 4. Breakfast would cost that or more anywere in orlando.

I was in orlando a couple of years ago at this time MK and epcot sold out.They closed the park to anymore people at around noon.

Your best bet is to get to any park you want to go to early (an hour early)get in at opening do the rides till it gets busy (long lines)probably 12 or 1 leave go eat somewere in orlando ,take a nap and go back around 5 or 6 most parks are open late so you do not have to stay the whole time they are open, just have a good time.

Kevin *** Edited 10/28/2006 7:01:17 PM UTC by kevin38***

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