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Best Orlando Timeshares for Park Hopping?

Naria2004

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So, we have a trip planned for April 10-18, wanting to come in Easter weekend and stay the week after. I've got an OGS for a DVC resort, but with Galaxy's Edge and it being Spring Break, I suspect it will be a long shot. I'm wanting to come up with a backup plan since our week is not flexible due to school schedules, and because I'm also signed up for the RunDisney Star Wars run that weekend (April 18).

So, my question is, for those who are Florida/Orlando pros, what is the best resort(s)?

We plan on doing 3-4 days in Disney and 2 at Universal, with 1 day as a rest day in between. We've got two girls (ages 12 and 13) who love to swim. I'm more of the lounge by the pool type. We will likely drive down, so we will also have a car, so would also love to not pay extra parking fees if it's avoidable.

I was originally looking at either Orange Lake or Whyndam Bonnet Creek as backups to DVC. However, I've heard that both charge extra fees on top of staying there to use any of the services. I understand most places have resort fees and I get that, but I'm talking about charges on top of that. What do you all recommend?

I am RCI Weeks. I currently have 52 points saved up (38 plus 14). I haven't merged them yet, but will soon if needed.
 

TheHolleys87

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I would do a search on the RCI site now just to see what's available for your dates, and I'd look at resorts that are located more or less between WDW and Universal. I know from experience that the HGVC Tuscany Village, the Vistana Resort and Vistana Fountains, the Bluegreen Fountains, and the Royal Palms and Sabal Palms are very nice. We also liked the units at the Grand Beach, but we didn't use the pool, and I'm not sure it would fit your daughters' desires.
 

Lisa P

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Easter weekend and stay the week after...3-4 days in Disney and 2 at Universal, with 1 day as a rest day in between. We've got two girls (ages 12 and 13) who love to swim... love to not pay extra... fees. ......RCI Weeks.
Wyndham does NOT deposit Bonnet Creek's major holiday weeks to RCI so that will not become available with the bulk deposit for April. FYI, for future reference, there is currently NO resort fee or parking fee at this timeshare - it's only for the hotel guests at the Wyndham Bonnet Creek Grand Orlando, hotel on shared property. Not sure whether HGVC (Hilton) deposits holiday weeks or not, but their resorts DO charge a resort fee. Look at the "Fees" tab on each resort's page in RCI before you add it to your search.

Holleys87 above offers good suggestions for resorts with nice pool areas, located between the two theme park areas. To be located pretty close to Disney, focus on Vistana Resort/Fountains and I might add the 2 sections of Cypress Point to that. A little further from Disney, but in the direction of Universal, Vistana Villages and Bluegreen Fountains are really nice too. Royal/Sabal Palms and Cypress Harbour are great but managed by Marriott so will have scant availability through RCI. Still worth adding to your search. Double-check all of these for possible FEES. Have a great time! :)
 

elaine

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Bonnet creek does get deposited. We got a match for the week prior to Easter for 2019. It was Friday-Friday. It was from a very long ongoing search.
We like the sea world area for park hopper. Intentional drive is also ok. Olcc is not good for universal. Very far opposite side.
 

silentg

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Orange Lake has River Island, if your girls like to swim it’s perfect for that. You can spend a day just in that area alone. They do charge for the pool tubes. But you can go there without a fee. There is a shuttle bus that takes you all around the resort. We are owners there so partial to Orange Lake.
Silentg
 

LMD

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If you are going to do Universal I personally would stay at one of their onsite hotels that offer the free express passes (there are 3 of them). If you book a one night stay you can have expresses passes for the day you check in and the day you check out. Expresses passes are over a $100 add-on per person per day to the park ticket. We have annual passes to Universal and will not go to the park unless we have the express passes....the regular lines are just way too long!
 

pedro47

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Suggestion Only check Marriott’s Cypress Harbor. Marriott’s Cypress Harbor once exchanged with RCI and II. Plus, they do not charge those extras resort fees.

Universal passes can be purchased at Costco in Orlando for some savings.
 

Naria2004

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Thank you all. These are great tips!
 

quhines

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We have stayed at HGVC Seaworld, and we visited WDW (Magic Kingdom, and Animal Kingdom). We had a car, so the drive was not bad. We plan on going back during the same time frame April 11th through April 18th). We have already booked HGVC Parc Soleil through RCI for the stay.
 

marmite

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If you are going to do Universal I personally would stay at one of their onsite hotels that offer the free express passes (there are 3 of them). If you book a one night stay you can have expresses passes for the day you check in and the day you check out. Expresses passes are over a $100 add-on per person per day to the park ticket. We have annual passes to Universal and will not go to the park unless we have the express passes....the regular lines are just way too long!

I realize this doesn't meet your want of a Timeshare in the area, but I do heartily agree with this idea too. For your girls ages, I wouldn't be surprised if the Universal Islands of Adventure theme park was more of a hit than the Disney resorts. Even a night in the hotel that would get you those passes is an amazing bonus. Just walking straight up and doing rides again and again and again -- such a great feeling after spending AGES in the lines at Disney.

As for the hotel accommodations, I will never forget opening the door to our hotel room and my youngest daughter jumping on the bed and saying "this is my room" and then looking for a door to the 'rest' of the unit and asking "Where is the kitchen"? It is a little cozy with 4 to a room, but the trade-off for the passes was worth it for us.
 

Bailey#1

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Right now HGVC Seaworld is available (I just looked) at 44 TPU's (from 4-10 to 4-17) for a 2 bedroom. This is a very nice resort!
 

Lisa P

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Bonnet creek does get deposited. We got a match for the week prior to Easter for 2019. It was Friday-Friday. It was from a very long ongoing search.
Wow, nice catch. :) Haven't seen or heard of this in years, so thanks for posting. Was the week deposited as part of their bulk deposits or fairly last minute?

If you are going to do Universal I personally would stay at one of their onsite hotels that offer the free express passes...
Agree with this, if you can swing it, especially during busy holiday or school break weeks. Also, it would expand your timeshare options for the Disney part of the trip to include the area east of WDW, such as Houses at Summer Bay, HICV@OLR or maybe Silver Lake.
 

TheHolleys87

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I'll add to the endorsements for booking a night at one of the three deluxe Universal hotels in order to get Express Pass. We're doing exactly this in November. We have a 2-bedroom TS week booked for my sister, DH and me, but we've also booked one night at the Royal Pacific during that week. We probably won't actually spend the night there but plan to check in early in the morning and get our room keys (that serve as the Express Passes), then enjoy the two days in the Universal parks. For the three of us, the cost of one night at the hotel was significantly less than the cost of three Express Passes for those two days (cost of EPs varies by date), and we'll save on parking too because we only need to pay for one night of parking at the hotel but can leave the car there until the parks close the day we check out.
 

Naria2004

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So this is my first time using my points and doing an ongoing search, so sorry for the newby questions.

Should I book now or wait until closer to the 5-6 month mark? I know DVC doesn’t release options until 4-6 months out. Is that true for the other resorts in the area as well? If I book something now and then a DVC option or something on my OGS comes available, can I switch, or am I SOL at that point?

Should I even bother going for a Disney option or not even worry about it? I’ve been doing a ton of Disney trip planning research and everyone talks about the perks that staying on site provides.

I agree with the idea of doing a universal hotel for at least one night. Those express passes will definitely be worth it. Our whole family loves roller coasters and are big Harry Potter fans so Universal will definitely be a big hit no matter what.
 

bankr63

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A DVC trade for a holiday week in RCI is going to be a Unicorn. This mythical beast may actually exist, and you may find someone who's uncle's mother's neighbor's son actually saw one once; but only believe it if you see it yourself.

Also, the onsite benefits are generally pretty overblown. Extra Magic Hours are great IF you can get to the park an hour before opening, but by an hour AFTER opening you are in the busiest park that day. Wise touring veterans avoid the EMH parks like the plague. Free buses to the park sounds wonderful. In a high occupancy week you will be waiting for buses in the heat, and they will probably be packed when you get on. The 60 day window for Fastpass+ is the only benefit that has any real value, as it can get you FP+'s for some of the newest attractions. BUT we have generally been able to get all the FP+'s we wanted at 30 days with a bit of perseverance.

Considering how busy vacation weeks can be around Disney, I would grab any of the top tier resorts that come up while they are available. If you can still get that Tuscany, it is a really nice resort. Your kids would love all the pools at Vistana Resort, and so would you. At their age (assuming they are responsible and good swimmers) you can let then go off to one of the busier fun pools while you relax a nearby quiet pool. That's what we did with our kids. Vistana Villages is another good option, but Disney parks access from Vistana Resort is better (10 minutes and 2 traffic lights to the Magic Kingdom parking lot), especially if you are planning to grab a Universal hotel for your days there. (BTW - not mentioned above, but not ALL Uni hotels include the FOTL passes - only the 4 top-tier hotels do). The other recommendations above are all good properties as well.

Have a great vacation!
 

Lisa P

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Great advice above. :)

IMO, onsite perks are most helpful for these travelers:
* won't have a car, planning to use Magical Express bus shuttle from the airport
* expect to sometimes split up, using Disney transport - some sleep in or return to the resort midday while others tour
* early risers traveling over peak holidays when parks may reach capacity and close to new arrivals - in the past, WDW has sometimes opened all parks an hour early during PEAK days during Christmas/Easter weeks, not announced to the general public.

We avoid the Early Magic Hours parks on any given day because they are always so crowded, even when we stay onsite. We arrive at a non-EMH park ~45-60 min before the posted opening time to be near the front of the entering crowd - 1.5 hours ahead for AK's Pandora/Flight of Passage, and for DHS' Galaxy's Edge once it's open. We enjoy a less crowded couple of morning hours, followed by 3 midday Fastpasses. We've had good luck adding an additional Fastpass or two, one at a time, later on. Our vacation group patterns don't really fit the above (onsite perks) list. So while we do love the DVC resorts, we enjoy our offsite trips just as much as onsite.

If staying onsite is that important to you for this trip, get a back-up reservation at an onsite hotel or Good Neighbor hotel that offers the onsite perks that matter the most to you. It's possible to stay 5 nights in a Disney value hotel and 2 at Universal's Portofino Bay in prime season for ~$2,600. Compare this with your expenses for an RCI exchange (or 2 exchange fees?), added upgrade and resort fees if any, your maint fees, and a night at Portofino Bay.

Always, always place any RCI ongoing search (OGS) request as early as possible so it's high on the waitlist queue. For a prime holiday week, expect to use your back-up reservation and save your points for a different trip - it'll be a nice surprise if it works and you can cancel your hotel res.

If staying onsite is just a mild preference, then you'll need to decide whether it's worth paying extra for either an RCI upgrade (highly unlikely) or for trip insurance to save your points and pay a second exchange fee with a separate OGS. Don't forget that DVC also charges a Resort Fee on arrival, so these fees will add up.

Since you'll be traveling during a prime holiday week and you care about getting a nice place, I'd go ahead and exchange into somewhere else that you'd like as soon as you find it. I'm sure you'll have a fun trip either way.
 
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