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Discussion Starter #1
We are planning a 2 week vacation at the end of June 2014 and the 1st week of July. This vacation is being planned very well but I need help with Disney planning. We will be stopping at Disney for 2-3 days in the beginning of the vacation. I would really like to stay at one of the Disney hotels for ease of transportation. I get discounts thru our timeshare company but tips and tricks is what I want to know. I have been on the couponing to Disney site. I don't do credit cards so most of her stuff does not apply to help me. I already know how to coupon too. I want to know what resorts to avoid and what is worth it. Any help is appreciated. Thank you!
 

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The DISboards as mentioned above are a fantastic source of info. We've been to WDW every year for quite a few years now. We actually went 3 times in 13 months at one point. We're taking a few years off now :) We typically camp at Fort Wilderness there, but we have also stayed in Bay Lake Tower (DVC property but we are not owners) and the Polynesian. They are both fantastic resorts but very pricey. You can't go wrong with any of the Disney resorts...it just depends on what level of amenities you want. Many people are very happy with the budget resorts, the All Stars; others love the moderates, and some only stay at the higher end resorts.

The DIS is such a wealth of info, you could spend days reading there. If you have specific questions, I'm happy to help if I can! WDW is our favorite place on earth :) (And I guess I'm assuming from your post that you're talking about visiting FL, not CA....if it's CA, I can't help on that yet....our first trip there won't be until 2016 or so!)
 

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We went 3 years ago and stayed at the Port Orleans -French Quarter. It was ok but I wouldn't stay there again. It was one of the "mid" level properties and there is a second hotel on that property called the Port Orleans-Riverside. If we go back I would chose either Disney Beach Club resort or The Polynesian! The Polynesian has a restaurant called Ohana and it was really nice, probably our favorite place to eat in the entire park.
 

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We go every Christmas for 7-10 days and we will only stay on Disney property. Been doing this since 2001. We've stayed at every level of resorts and other than Coronado Springs, we have been more than pleased with each and every resort. For values, our fave is Pop Century; moderates we love Port Orleans French Quarter and Caribbean Beach Club; for Deluxe our choice is either Animal Kingdom Lodge with a Savannah view or the Contemporary. I also make sure I upgrade to a preferred room location. I like being close to the main building that houses the restaurants and gift shops, bus stops, etc...But, everyone likes/prefers different resorts for various reasons. It's more of a personal preference thing. Each resort offers its own "personality" and extras.

Try allears.net; mouseforless.com; disboards.com and Disney's site, too. There are several more websites, but these are the ones I always recommend to get your feet wet.

(BTW...I don't have credit cards either. I pay our trip ($4k-$5K) in cash, in full, meal plan included well ahead of time each year directly through Disney.)

Have fun!!! Disney is the absolute best!
 

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You may want to check and see what the cost of an annual pass would be for each of you. I was shocked to find out that it's not much more than buying daily tickets, and it makes parking free.
 

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we stay off property at lake buena vista spa and resort. quick drive to parks! we are not disney fans but have a now 10 yr old dtr...we went for 2 thnksgvngs in a row! not this past though.

disney food is blah yuck in our opinion. others may disagree.

we have stayed at the contemporary in the past as it is closest to the kingdom via monorail.

disney is a personal preference type vacation in our opinion. also, check out trip advisor....lots andlots of useful info and reports, etc on there. have a great trip
 

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disney food is blah yuck in our opinion. others may disagree.
I agree! We did the food plan (the entire package deal) when we went and we won't do it again if/when we go again. For us, we spent so much time running to make our reservations and we had to plan our evenings based on what park we were eating at. We did do breakfast in the morning but other than water at the parks we didn't use the snack portion of the plan.

Next time we will enjoy the freedom of eating when and where we want. Not saying you won't have that but we had never been and planning was hard since we had no clue what to expect.
 

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Yeah, we don't care much for Disney food either. When we camp, we always make 2 meals on our own and eat just one Disney meal and snack a day. Even when we stay in the hotels, we take some food and eat one meal a day from our own stash. Disney meals get old really fast for us. Disney is supposed to be top-notch if you have food allergies though, as far as making sure your food is safe to eat. We've not had to worry about that before, but I now have a wheat allergy, so I'll be putting them to the test next time we go!
 

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I'll jump in, I like the Disney food just fine-- better than fine.... it's MUCH better than almost any other theme park (I'd say "Trappers Grill" at Busch Gardens Williamsburg is on-par, but that's it...) BUT**!!!! I *DON'T do the dining plan. Disboards has scans or write-ups of the menu of every single place in the parks, with prices, so it's really easy to plan ahead. Just remember that if you're staying in a Disney hotel/campground, you can make your reservations 190 days in advance, and 180 days in advance if you're off-campus. I can't tolerate the prices on-campus, but was able to get every reservation I wanted at the 180 mark with no problems (ok, so I was awake at 5:59 EST to make the call... I kind of tend to be anyway...)

I'll second/third Disboards-- you can save SO much money and hassle by researching there. I think the biggest tip I got from there that I'd want you to know is that you CAN bring in your own food, and that ANY stand there will give you a free cup of ice water for the asking. There are entire threads discussing which stands have filtered water and which don't... But our first day we went to Pecos Bill for Lunch (counter service. open seating, indoors, air conditioned) and the water there was very good and free and in HUGE glasses.

Take an umbrella with you and some good-quality slickers... it WILL rain in the afternoons and the dollar-store ones are as thin as saran wrap. The umbrella can double as a parasol to keep that summer sun off your noggin' while you're in the lines.

You've got plenty of time to plan with those dates, so have fun with it. Planning really *IS* half the fun! I planned our last trip a year out and it made SUCH a difference! Best trip ever (and that was my 5th time.) We went for my DD's 5th birthday, and she is already campaigning to go back for #10! :)
 
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Just a note on the dinning plan and someone can correct me if I'm wrong but from what I remember (we went 5 years ago) on the dinning plan you are limited to what you can order, they had a separate menu for those on the dinning plan. We couldn't just order anything off the menu. We never went hungry, there is more than enough to eat but we didn't have a lot of options. The only place we did get to just order what we wanted was at the Biergarten Restaurant in Epcot. It is a buffet and it was one of our favorite places to eat.
 

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No, you are allowed to order anything off of the menus. Some appetizers will count for two (each person gets their own appetizer at table service credits.). But, you can get anything except alcohol. A lot of people are also unaware that when you get a counter service meal, you can get a large drink instead of the medium. Just tell the cashier you want large. We ate at Narcoossee's this past Christmas with our dining plan and each ordered the most expensive meals on the menu, the bill was right at $500 for the four of us and our dining plan covered it all. The food was great there. We're eating there again this year. Plus, if you eat there when the Magic Kingdom does their fireworks, they pipe in the music, lower the lights and you can watch them from your table or out on the porch. Really beautiful.

The only time there is a separate menu is if you are doing a Candlelight Processional dinner package or a Fantasmic! dinner package. But, it still offers a wide variety and you would be limited to this menu whether you were paying cash or using the dining plan.

There is no reason to let your snack credits go to waste. At the end of your stay, use any you have left over to get the bagged treats, like the Goofy sour balls, Gummy bears, etc...to take home for later or souvenirs for friends. We normally have forty or fifty snack credits left. DS uses some to get bagged candies for his wrestling teammates and DD uses them for her college roommates. Plus, our kids love the taffy and they get several packages of those and a few of the rice crispy treats, etc...At the very least, use them on bottles of soda or water for the ride home. We have had meal credits left over and gotten burgers to go from the Contemporary's counter service restaurant for the ride home.

Here's an interesting blog on the various resorts. I cannot say I agree 100% with everything, but it will give you some food for thought on the resorts.

The pros and cons of every Disney World resort
 

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Discussion Starter #15
Thank you all so much for the help and guidance. This really is fun planning so far. We are hoping to book our trip sooner than later. I don't know yet about the meal plans. I have heard both sides and not sure what we will do with that. I will be all over these sites you all have listed for me. Thank you!
 

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Not sure if this will apply since you're in the US but CAA (Cdn version of AAA) offers pkg's & deals that are exclusive to CAA/AAA members only and sometimes better then what's offered by Disney and affiliates etc. Might be worth calling to find out (if this interests you)?
 

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Discussion Starter #17
So we have narrowed it down to using an extra week of our timeshare at a beautiful resort in Orlando rather than staying at Disney. We are staying at a resort I stayed at when I was 13 and it's HUGE now and filled with so much to do. That way if we only do 2 days at Disney parks we will still be booked with fun activities all week. Then when we leave there we will drive down to singer island in west palm to hang out at the beach for a week. This is our celebration vacation for getting out of debt and staying that way. It stinks that it is a year and 2 weeks away but I know that will fly by ASAP with a new baby. So anymore disney tips are much appreciated. I am going to dollar general in a few days to pick up some cheap Disney reusable tote bags for the kids. I think I am going to buy all my souveniers before we leave. That seems like a great idea. I also can stock up on Disney gift cards they sell at my grocery store and then we get fuel perks back for buying them. I hope to have $100 in those soon.
 

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Discussion Starter #18
Actually I decided lastnight that I am going to make my daughters matching Disney dresses for this trip and tote bags. That way they will count as souveniers/new items and they were made by mom. I am hoping to get the sewing machine in the next month. Now to find some cute disney fabric and drawstring tote bag patterns
 

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Discussion Starter #19
Dh bought me an early birthday present lastnight with super unexpected $. A sewing machine!!!! Made my day. Can't wait to use it.
 

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Discussion Starter #20
Anyone have any favorite restaurants in the Orlando/Disney area that they love?
 
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