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Orlando - Disney, Legoland, Universal Studios Deals/Tips?

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Jan 3, 2007
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Orlando - Disney, Legoland, Universal Studios Deals/Tips?

Planning a winter trip, are there any secret deal sites/coupons or tips people have? First time going with the whole fam.

Is it better to get a hotel at a resort with tickets added on, or an Airbnb and just buy resort tickets separately?

Do you need a rental car or are there shuttles?

Are there coupons or something for resort entrance tickets?
8 replies
Deal Guru
Dec 5, 2006
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Markham
mik3 wrote: Planning a winter trip, are there any secret deal sites/coupons or tips people have? First time going with the whole fam.

Is it better to get a hotel at a resort with tickets added on, or an Airbnb and just buy resort tickets separately?

Do you need a rental car or are there shuttles?

Are there coupons or something for resort entrance tickets?
How old are your kids?

I always stayed in Disney resorts and there are shuttle buses to different places (not sure legoland)
Sr. Member
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Sep 23, 2013
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Vancouver, BC
Not sure about nowadays, but undercover tourist offered ticket discounts at all the major theme parks as well as providing great advice.

When our family of 4 went down to orlando in 2019, we took a look at staying at a disney hotel and the prices, to no surprise, were too expensive to justify the cost. There are huge benefits to opting for this though - like advanced access to fastpass ride reservations, so do some research and calculations and see what works best for you.

We opted for an airbnb condo in Kissimee for $95/n. Disneyworld is so spread out that you cant really park hop. Parking is $25 /day but that plus the cost of car rental and the airbnb was still far cheaper than staying onsite in a hotel room.

Whatever you do, book it asap. The flood gates are about to open.
Sr. Member
Mar 8, 2004
619 posts
412 upvotes
Kanata
smartie wrote: How old are your kids?

I always stayed in Disney resorts and there are shuttle buses to different places (not sure legoland)
I would second this. We arrived and stayed on the resort right away. You get shuttle from airport to resort and can use the shuttles within the park. Then we rented a car and stayed elsewhere to visit everything else.
If you stay on the resort you get other benefits such as extra hours, can book fast pass earlier, etc. This was a number of years ago so things may have changed. Also being able to book with free meal plan is a big bonus. Not sure if that's still available and only was during low season.

We found it quite convenient to stay on the resort but you'll have to research the price difference if any to see if it's worth it for you.
Deal Addict
Jan 12, 2005
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Mississauga
They're getting rid of magicband at Disney and going with a phone app. There's wifi onsite, but would recommend getting a data plan.
Deal Fanatic
Jul 4, 2004
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Ottawa
It depend a lot on what you are planning on doing.

We love staying onsite at Disney and consider it "part of the Disney experience" (We also spend time simply driving or taking the bus / train / boat / lift around the resort and visiting the hotels and the sites) but it's super expensive. Staying one night at the cheapest Disney room is more expensive than staying one night at a nearby 4 bedroom AirBnb with private pool. Staying 2 nights at a premium Disney room is probably more than staying a week at a nearby 4 bedroom Airbnb with private pool. Booking fast pass earlier is certainly one of the benefits although personally, I kind of hate using fast pass as it kind of ruins the fun; you are always having to check the time to make sure you are where you need to be at the correct time and you spend a lot of time going from one area of the park to another just to get to your Fast Passes. That said, it is kind of a necessary evil as it does significantly cut down on ride wait time. If you have very young and older kids, staying onsite is also convenient because it makes it much easier for one parent to leave the park to put the youngest one down while the other parent stays at the park with the older ones or simply getting away from the park (e.g. to go to the pool and have lunch) for a few hours. Previously, one of the biggest perks of staying onsite was "Extra Magic Hours" but Disney has significantly reduced those so it's not as much of a perk anymore (They still have it but I believe it's only 1 hour extra in the morning now so for us, it's not as usable (we tended to use it more at night rather than early in the morning). Gumby_ng mentioned the "shuttle from the airport to the Disney resort" - look into it but I'm 99% sure that Disney has stopped operating the Magical Express and that's no longer offered so no longer a perk - you have to get a rental or Uber or 3rd party shuttle (They still have transportation within Disney but not from the airport). As someone else mentioned, Park Hoping is not particularly useful as it does take a lot of time to go from one park to another and the hours are much closer now so it really only works to go on one or two rides (In the past, Animal Kingdom might close at 6PM while Magic Kingdom would close at 11PM so there was value going from AK to MK but now, I believe AK might close at 7PM and MK will close at 8PM and it takes a good hour to get from one to the other so it's not really worth it).

One thing to keep in mind if you are debating staying onsite is how many days you plan on going to parks and if you are going to other parks. Personally, we pretty much never do back-to-back park days and we don't usually do more than 2 days at Disney parks and often go to other parks as well so staying at Disney is no benefit for that (in fact, if you are going to Universal or SeaWorld, etc you can be closer if you aren't staying at Disney). But if you are staying offsite, you do have to pay for parking so you have to factor that in.

One thing to keep in mind is that we typically go to Florida 3 times per year so how we do our trips might not match with how you would do yours. For us, we spend a lot of time simply relaxing, swimming, going for walks, etc

If you have young kids, Legoland is great. it's actually pretty far (maybe 45 minutes) from Kissimmee but it's really geared for kids and it's super quiet compared to Disney and Universal. There is a shuttle but not from Disney, it's from International Drive (and maybe from Orlando).

As far as a rental car, it depends a lot on what you are doing. Chances are, the car will be parked most of the week but Kissimmee / Orlando has a huge sprawl so you do have to travel a fair amount but taking Uber or taxi / shuttle might still be cheaper. In the past, rental cars in Orlando were super cheap (e.g. it wasn't hard to get a car for under $30/day) but with COVID there appears to be a lack of rental cars all over and rental prices are might higher in Orlando (Last I checked, I think it was over $100+/day)

As far as deals, last time we were there and checked, Costco had good deals for Legoland. If you plan it and the dates work out, Legoland and SeaWorld often have good Black Friday deals (although sometimes it's on annual passes which might be worth it if you plan on going twice). As someone else has mentioned, Undercover Tourist does have discounted tickets for Disney and Universal (as well as for a bunch of other tourist attractions) but I believe it's only cheaper for multiple days - for single day tickets, I think it's cheaper just to get them from Disney or Universal. For the past year or two, Disney charges different prices depending on the actual day so you might want to keep that in mind.
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Dec 27, 2009
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I never stay onsite at WDW. I rent a private villa in a gated community (Emerald Island Resort) about a 10 minute drive away. I get a 4 bed/3 bath very nice detached house with its own private pool and hot tub in the yard for $100US/night (that includes pool heat - she charges me $90 if I don't want it heated - but since I go in November I always get the heat).

This is a different time, but in "normal" times I would always try to go when they are having their "Disney after dark" parties. You pay for a ticket, you can get in 2 hours before the parks close for the day, then you are allowed to be there (with greatly reduced crowds) until about 1AM. Includes free unlimited drinks/snacks/ice cream bars. I can't tell you how many more rides I can get in at one of these parties. Way better than fighting the usual crowds.
Newbie
Mar 16, 2013
37 posts
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Southern Ontario
Slightly OT, but are you guys optimistic about the border being open to non-essential travel by this fall/winter?
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Jul 4, 2004
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Ottawa
stmarks wrote: Slightly OT, but are you guys optimistic about the border being open to non-essential travel by this fall/winter?
IMHO, I'd be shocked if the US land border wasn't reopened by the end of the summer (I actually suspect it might be open by July). I think it depends a bit if the US decides to go unilaterally or if they wait for Canada (so that it's open in both directions). If they wait for Canada, I think end of the summer (maybe even after Labour Day) at the earliest.

I'm going ahead and planning that we'll be going South in the Fall.

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