Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Disney World Vacation - suggestions?

We are in the process of trying to plan a trip to Disney World for the family. My husband and I have both been as children, but this will be our first trip as a family. The kids are excited, but I think that we are probably more excited right now.

There are so many options in planning a trip to Disney World, that it starts to feel overwhelming. We are currently trying to figure out where to stay and whether the dining plan will be a good value for us.

Since this is the first trip for the family to Disney World, we think that we would like to stay at a Disney Resort location. We have narrowed in on a Moderate Resort and are considering Coronado Springs Resort. That being said, we have some points, not enough for the whole stay, but could potentially have some free nights at the Hilton by Downtown Disney. Normally, I would say that I wouldn't consider the Hilton, but it is on Disney property, includes transportation to the park and they do offer the Extra Magic Hours Benefit. Thing is that the rates for the room at Coronado are cheaper, plus if we start to bundle it, I think that there could be better value. It appears that both locations have a fee for wi-fi - not that I expect to be on it a lot, but still, something to consider. I know that the Hilton has a per day parking fee (we likely are driving), but can't seem to find that information for the Coronado Springs Resort.

Have you stayed at either of these resorts? What is your preference/feedback on the resorts? Have you stayed at another Moderate Resort at Disney World? What did you think? What do you see as pros/cons of staying at a Disney Resort location over another local Hotel Resort?

Next area of consideration is food. Of course, if we go with the Hilton, the dining package is not an option, but if we stay at Coronado Springs (or another Disney Resort), should we get the dining plan? I have read mixed assessments of the value of the package, what are your thoughts? Do you go with the 2 quick service/2 snack option or with the 1 table service/1 quick service/1 snack option? As I browsed menus on-line for many of the Disney Table Service locations in the parks, it seemed that we could likely spend a little less by being selective in our dining, but having the meal plan allows us to not worry as much about the where. That is part of what I liked about our Honeymoon - we went to an all inclusive, so we knew up front what most of our costs would be. I feel that the dining plan is similar.

Have you used the dining plan? Do you feel there was a value? How old were yhttp://www.blogger.com/img/blank.gifour kids? If you got the dining plan, did you still find yourself spending out of pocket on food?

What about Character dining/experiences? I feel like we likely would do a Disney Princess dining and maybe another more gender neutral one. I have also heard that the Star Wars Jedi Training Academy is something we will want to do for our son.

What has been your experience with Character dining/experiences? What do you recommend or recommend avoiding?

This post shared at the Works for Me Wednesday Backwards Edition, where you seek help from your readers on what works for them, instead of sharing tips and tricks that work for you.

8 comments:

Cris said...

Congrats on your upcoming trip. We just took ours. We stayed off site and if I had it to do over, I would stay on-site hands down, even if it meant one of the lower end resorts.

Other than that I am not sure I am of much help... except that I used this site A LOT in planning our trip:

http://www.dadsguidetowdw.com/

Have a GREAT time!

Caroine Mukisa said...

We got a great deal on Animal kingdom lodge booking direct from the disney website. they always have offers so it's worth checking that out.

Sat next to a lady on the plane who bought someone's Disney Vacation Club points using a DVC forum - she got really cheap accommodation - about 70% off.

We skipped the dining plan and just paid as we went along. We didn't want to spend the who;e time eating but in would have come in handy for breakfast.

Enjoy your trip - it really is a fab place!

debbielynne said...

We were at Disney a few years ago at Thanksgiving and had a character buffet in the Crystal Palace restaurant. Food was very good and the characters were fun (and it was just me & hubby)

Miko's Girl said...

How much fun! We have been repeat visitors to Disney (grandparents living in Florida helped).

We have stayed on and off resort. We prefer on resort because of the shuttle buses and the extended hours.

We have stayed at a Value Resort. Disney does hospitality well - regardless of which resort you in which you stay. The room was small but clean. We were not in the room much so we didn't need more than they offered. The pools are fabulous and much needed with the Florida heat.

We found the dining plan a good value. Prior to our stay, we booked all of our dinners using a Disney guide to choose the restaurants. Without advance reservations, you can be stuck with impossibly long waits. Not fun with kids.

Character dining. Book NOW! Our favorite princess dining experience is in Norway at Epcot. The castle in Magic Kingdom books up so quickly. The Pooh breakfast was fabulous. The Lilo and Stitch experience left much to be desired. My girlfriend raves about Chef Mickey. Most importantly is to book these character events as soon as you can or you will not have an option to attend.

Here are some other tips: quick ticks, trading pins, autograph books, and the Kim Possible Scavenger Hunt in Epcot. Our favorite ride of all time is Soaring in Epcot.

Enjoy!

Melanie said...

I'm interested in seeing your responses because we have been considering a DW trip...

I would love for you to come link up at my new "Encouragement is Contagious!" linky party! You can share your favorite posts from someone else's blog to encourage them, and share your favorite from your own blog and get lots of visits :)

Have a great day!
Melanie :)

Tired Mom T├ęsa said...

That's awesome that you are planning a Disney trip! You all will have so much fun!

As for recommendations, we have not stayed in Coronado Springs but have heard great things. We did stay at the Grand Floridian recently and it was beautiful but not as kid-friendly as a moderate resort I would say. We did get to visit the Animal Kingdom Lodge and were immediately in love. The place is incredible! It's on my bucket list to stay there some day.

We did do character dining a couple of years back and love the Crystal Garden but weren't as found of Chef Mickey's (except for the waffles!). The Crystal Garden offered more interaction and felt less crammed.

I highly recommend the disboards.com as a great forum for tips, advice, and answers to any questions you might have. Have fun planning!

Stacey M said...

My son absolutely loved the Jedi Training Academy. It fills up quickly though, so I recommend going there first thing in the morning when the park opens to get a spot. Actually, I would send one parent there and the other to the Toy Story Ride to get Fast Passes. Make sure the parent that does the Fast Passes has everyone's tickets. You will NOT want to miss the Toy Story ride.

Sheila said...

We stayed at Animal Kingdom and really enjoyed it. I would recommend you look at mousesavers.com. They had some great ideas for eating in-room that we took advantage of. We thought the cups that you buy at the resort were a great value to us. I think they were $12.95 each, which seems like a lot, but you drink all you want at the resort for your entire visit with these cups - pop, juice, coffee, hot cocoa, etc. We did not think the dining plan was worth it to us. We took snacks and things for breakfast. If you are driving, you can do this more easily than we did. Food is not important to us in the sense that we like nice restaurants, but we eat three meals a day plus snacks, and we ate well while we were there. Our kids were never really into the characters, so we didn't do a character meal.