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Help with planning last-minute Orlando trip with family THIS CHRISTMAS

amycurl

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Okay, hear me out...

My brother-in-law and his family have expressed interest for a few years now in going to Orlando with us (so all the cousins could go together,) and because he knows that I have timeshare and Orlando travel knowledge. They have never been to Orlando as a family or done the parks as a family. Originally, the idea was to do it early in June, before most schools get out, because both his kids and our kid actually get out one week earlier than most. We've gone--ourselves--to Universal during that time of year, and while it was wicked hot, the crowds weren't bad. We stayed onsite, and just for a few days.

This year, they are coming from Chicagoland to our place in NC for Christmas, for the first time in nearly a decade. I casually threw out the idea that we could do Orlando after Christmas, since they will already be partway here and haven't purchased plane tickets yet. (Rookie mistake on my part.) We did explain that it would be the BUSIEST TIME OF YEAR, but since my BIL is sensitive to the sun and to heat, thought it might be better for him than June. (However, I did not explain that "busiest time" meant not only lots of people, but also hours+ waits for rides.)

They were *all over it.* Now, I am freaking out during a fairly busy fall schedule about having to be the travel agent for this trip.

Of course, none of the five billion ACs I have will pull the holiday week or even the first full week of Jan (kids don't go back until the 6th.) I don't have any "real" deposits in II to search with (I do have a strong trader that I can deposit, if need be.) Not sure if anything in Bonnet Creek would be available to rent from either a TUGger or Extra Holidays at this late date, either. Just checked Extra Holidays for Bonnet Creek; they want about $3400 for a two bedroom for six nights. II Getaways is showing a single studio at Grande Vista for $1100 for a check in date on the 30th; if there was a second studio available, that might be do-able. I would not want to rent from Redweek or Ebay (just personal comfort level.)


They are thinking at least five days (two at Disney, two at Universal, and a rest day in the middle.) So, check in the 27th and check out the 2nd? Could do a full week, but the Friday check in would be ideal.

I know this is insane. I haven't gone to Disney myself in Magicband/reservations for rides era (it's been about 8 or 9 years for Disney parks proper.) Do we need to stay onsite for those?

Thoughts? Is this even do-able? (I would ask if this was crazy, but I already know the answer to that, LOL!) Is someone willing to search for me and let me know what's available? Four adults, two young kids (9 and 5) and one teenager (13.) Ideally, a three bedroom, but a two-bedroom (or a one-bedroom and a studio, or two studios) would work. Note: I am *not* soliciting rentals; just asking for advice/availability possibilities.

Mods, if this is in the wrong forum, please feel free to move (should it go in sightings?) I am stymied, and feeling a lot of pressure to do this "right." *sigh* Why did I do this to myself, LOL?!?

Thanks for letting me vent, and for any insight and guidance you knowledgeable TUGgers can provide!
 
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Talent312

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Others may have more details, but here's my quick take...
First: Did you lose your friggin' mind, or were you high on somethin'.
OTOH: If you're flexible about location, you should be able to find something.
Just don't be persnickety about it.

WDW FastPass+ reservations are essential. Light 'em up 30 days out at 7ET.
You'll need a game plan for which parks & preferred rides on which days.
Download the WDW official app as it reasonably approximates wait times.

At Universal, to avoid long waits, pony up for Express Passes ($$ worth it).
Otherwise, do the Harry Potter stuff first. Do other things if time permits.
.
.
 

amycurl

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First: Did you lose your friggin' mind, or were you high on somethin'.
These guys aren't big travelers, so I think when I casually mentioned it as a possibility, I assumed they would have turned it down, LOL!

OTOH: If you're flexible about location, you should be able to find something.
Just don't be persnickety about it.

I am fairly flexible. But it kills me to pay hand over fist for something that I know I could get waaaay more cheaply in early June.

WDW FastPass+ reservations are essential. Light 'em up 30 days out at 7ET.
You'll need a game plan for which parks & preferred rides on which days.
Download the WDW official app as it reasonably approximates wait times.

Thank you for that. We'll pass that along to them.


At Universal, to avoid long waits, pony up for Express Passes ($$ worth it).
Otherwise, do the Harry Potter stuff first. Do other things if time permits.

That I did know. It's only been about two years since we've done Universal (which is my fav, even before the Harry Potter stuff went in.)
 

AnnieBets

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First, I recommend doing only Disney or Universal. If teenagers, Universal. Some of their hotels give the express pass so might be worth one night stay for 2 days of passes. Then Disney Springs for a little magic. Also can tour Disney resorts to see their decorations. 4 days at Disney and you’ll barely scratch the surface. Disboards and mouseowners websites for advice. I love the Candlelight Processional at Epcot but your group might think it takes too much time. If doing Table service at Disney, you can and should set up reservations now.
 

Beachclubmum

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We go to Disney frequently during that week; it's busy but do-able. Planning is key.

You can make restaurant reservations 6 months out, so you might want to go ahead and book something now.

Decide if you will get single park passes or do the hoppers.

Check out an online crowd calendar and figure out which are your best days to do which parks.

Just throwing this out there...sometimes it's more cost effective to do a reservation at one of the Universal Resorts that offers their version of FP than to pay for it separately (and you can ride as many times as you want vs just once). So if accommodations aren't working out you may want to look at this option too.
 

chalee94

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WDW FastPass+ reservations are essential. Light 'em up 30 days out at 7ET.
They will need to purchase tickets in advance and input them into their MyDisneyExperience account online (or the app, same thing) in order to be able to book fast passes. New stuff like Flight of Passage and Star Wars will not be available at 30 days out but tell them to grab what they can. If they really want to do it - and FOP is definitely a great great ride - getting to the park an hour before official opening is probably the best bet.
 

Lisa P

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My suggestion:
Visit the Disney parks on the 28th or 29th and on the 1st. Avoid Disney parks on the 31st when crowds for the fireworks will shut down entry by midday.
Visit the Universal parks on the 28th or 29th and on the 30th or 31st, with Express Pass entry. Compare the cost of Universal's Express Pass for everyone vs. getting 2 rooms onsite at a Premier hotel, where the passes are included.

If you can afford it (and want to), consider staying at a Disney value hotel so you can get 60 day fastpasses. If you start now, you'd have about 2 weeks left in which to set up your reservations, purchase tickets and get them entered in the MyDisneyExperience app, before you'll be able to request 60 day fastpasses for a trip starting on December 27th. Busy!

Consider comparing the overall costs with a Spring break trip, when weather may be more predictable and you'd have more time to plan, and seek a good timeshare exchange (saving $ on lodging). I doubt you're going to find really good rental options in timeshare now, for over the New Year's holiday. And without 60 day fastpasses, the Disney experience won't be great, IMO.
 

amycurl

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Yeah, that's what I'm feeling about the Fastpasses. Since that's new since our last visit, I wasn't really sure how they worked. Spring Break, unfortunately, won't work, because the kids' breaks don't align (our break has absolutely nothing to do with when Easter is,) *and* my daughter will be on a school-organized trip to Cuba. So, it would most likely be back to that first week in June...
 

TheHolleys87

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My suggestion:
Visit the Disney parks on the 28th or 29th and on the 1st. Avoid Disney parks on the 31st when crowds for the fireworks will shut down entry by midday.
Visit the Universal parks on the 28th or 29th and on the 30th or 31st, with Express Pass entry. Compare the cost of Universal's Express Pass for everyone vs. getting 2 rooms onsite at a Premier hotel, where the passes are included.

If you can afford it (and want to), consider staying at a Disney value hotel so you can get 60 day fastpasses. If you start now, you'd have about 2 weeks left in which to set up your reservations, purchase tickets and get them entered in the MyDisneyExperience app, before you'll be able to request 60 day fastpasses for a trip starting on December 27th. Busy!
I agree with all of this. The Universal Express Pass is exceedingly valuable during busy times, and especially if you can't get a timeshare and need to stay in hotels, I strongly recommend pricing out the purchase of Express Passes for everyone vs. the cost of hotel rooms at Universal. The Hard Rock, Portofino Bay and Royal Pacific are the three that give you Unlimited Express Passes from check in (which can be as early as 7 AM) until parks close on day of check out (as well as any intervening days). AND parking at the hotel is per night, meaning you can park there when you check in and leave the car there until you depart (after the parks close) on day of check out for the cost of one night's parking fee rather than two days in the day-guest garage (in other words, if you stay two nights you can park for all three days at the cost of two nights' parking fee). That too can be a significant savings.

In addition to the Disney value hotels (All Stars, Pop Century and Art of Animation) which would be the least expensive onsite hotels, check out the Disney Springs hotels too at https://disneyspringshotels.com/. Those are the only off-site hotels that offer 60-day FP booking. They also have regularly scheduled bus service to/from the parks and are walking distance from Disney Springs (formerly Downtown Disney).

You might find this DISboards forum helpful: https://www.disboards.com/forums/orlando-hotels-and-attractions.15/.

If you have more questions, please ask! And please let us know how everything turns out!
 

rapmarks

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My daughter just informed me that she plans to spend Christmas vacation at Disney. She will new asking for lodging through me and will buy plane tickets at last minute
 

mentalbreak

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We did post-Christmas break at WDW once. I would NEVER do it again without staying onsite. The roads around the area were INSANE. We usually visit during spring break, sometimes including Easter. And at Christmas it took us at least 4x longer to go anywhere.

Also, I can’t imagine having my first trip during Christmas and ever even considering returning to Disney.
 

Talent312

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I also recommend getting to the gate 'bout 30 min b4 opening.
You'll be able to do ~2 rides (w/o FP's) b4 the unwashed masses appear.

The trick will be getting your gaggle in the cars in a timely manner.
 

Jan M.

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Our soon to be 33 year old son did a Disney World trip with his high school band for the week you're talking about. He'd done Disney World twice before with us so had our trips for comparison. The crowds and wait times were horrendous. New Year's Eve day was the worst. The park was at max capacity even before noon. If you leave you aren't getting back in. The kids got to ride two or three rides in nine plus hours! He still says that he can't imagine anything that would persuade him to go back that week.

We now live in Florida and have Disney World Florida resident annual passes so we go more than a lot of people. In fact we are heading there next week with our three year old granddaughter. We too can't imagine anything that would persuade us to go then. However I'm the first to admit that we now have and even back then had options other people don't have. Our son's school district did a five day mid semester break over Martin Luther King weekend and we got him excused from school for the other two days for our Florida trips.

Your plan for the first week of June would be a much better time for them to join you. All of us would tell you not to waste the money, yours and theirs, going the week after Christmas. For what you will spend you could easily do a week long cruise. Perhaps a Disney cruise? Or you could save a lot of money and visit southern Florida. There are plenty of resorts on both the east and west coasts. The weather will be beautiful.

I would tell your relatives that from what other people are telling you that week won't be quite the fun time they are likely envisioning.
 
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TheHolleys87

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Yes, although I offered alternative accommodations above, I have to agree that the crowds will be awful. We went that week back in 2001-02 and vowed "never again." Crowds were so thick in Epcot on the morning and early afternoon of New Year's Eve that we barely made it to our lunch reservation at Biergarten, and we then worked our way back to the Boardwalk and left. We're from New Orleans, and the crowding was worse than Canal Street on Mardi Gras.
 

pianodinosaur

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The Swan and The Dolphin are outstanding hotel resorts on the WDW campus. There are still vacancies as of 10/15/2018. They would be an excellent location for a family Christmas Holiday. Good luck with whatever you decide.
 

Bailey#1

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Your best bet to obtain an inexpensive Christmas Timeshare would be to stalk the Tugbbs "Last minute Rentals" starting in Mid November
to see if something opens up. Check out last years time frame on the LMR forum I think it is page 55. There were a few 2 and 3 br available.

Good luck!
 

mdurette

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The Swan and The Dolphin are outstanding hotel resorts on the WDW campus. There are still vacancies as of 10/15/2018. They would be an excellent location for a family Christmas Holiday. Good luck with whatever you decide.
Agreed with this AND you can use Chase UR or Marriott points to stay there too! From these resorts you can walk to both Epcot and Studios. If you have Marriott status you also get free breakfast (or discounted buffet).

We were in Orlando 2 years ago for week 52 and will be headed there this year, staying at Cypress Harbor. I only plan to go into a Disney park for one day and we have passes to get us into SeaWorld and Aquatica (if weather permits). We did NYE at SeaWorld in 2017 and it wasn't bad at all - if the kids in the party will be looking for roller coasters, that may be a not so crazy option to consider.
 
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