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  1. #1

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    First-Time or Nearly-First-Time Visitors to Walt Disney World

    I frequently visit Disneyland in California, but currently I plan to visit Walt Disney World (WDW) for the first time. Many people visiting Disneyland for the first time need help, and I expect the same holds for first-time visitors to WDW. Thus, I wanted to start a thread that focusses on first-time and nearly-first-time visitors to WDW.

    Most of my questions were answered by websites, but there are some that were not. For example, when people post advice about when to go to WDW and when not to go, the focus is on avoiding crowds or avoiding hot days. I am more concerned about when attractions are likely to be closed for maintenance. The WDW website seems to indicate that everything is operating for most of September 2011. This is amazing since many Fall, Winter or Spring days at Disneyland have some attractions closed for maintenance or upgrades. Thus, September 2011 seems to be a good month for coming to WDW. Am I correct?

    I wanted to purchase a WDW vacation package and stay in Disney lodging. I learned that visitors are required to agree to some terms on arrival at a Disney resort. I called one of the Value resorts to ask what these terms were, but the Disney employees seemed hesitant to reveal what they were. Does anybody have a copy of the terms? Since I don't know the terms, my plans have shifted to staying at a nearby hotel, upgrading our annual Disneyland passes to Premier level (which includes admission to all WDW parks including Disney Quest) and skipping the Disney vacation package. Is that a good choice?

  2. #2

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    Re: First-Time or Nearly-First-Time Visitors to Walt Disney World

    I don't really know what the terms are for lodging, but I don't expect them to ask for your soul.

    Also, September should be a good time to go. Most kids have just started school in September, so most families with kids will be gone and since it's not summer, I think the crowds will be down. At least until the Halloween season starts in the part. Wouldn't try to go on Labor Day though.

    Anyways, just have fun when you get there. That's all that's really important.

  3. #3

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    Re: First-Time or Nearly-First-Time Visitors to Walt Disney World

    You'll be saving money not staying on property (use that money towards upgrading your AP's). It's at the point the "value" resorts can be up to $150 a night certain times of the year. I see no "value" in that when I can stay at the nearby hotels for less than $100 a night... and most of them offer free internet (WDW charges $10 a day) and some hotels offer free either continental or even hot breakfast.

    September is a decent time to go. It's still hot, but the rainy season is for the most part over and here in Florida, most kids go back to school in mid-late August now. But definitely avoid Labor Day weekend as it'll be quite busy.

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    Re: First-Time or Nearly-First-Time Visitors to Walt Disney World

    Thank you for responding. Your comments helped. Apparently copies of the terms are not easy to obtain, but my plan of lodging off the property seem to be better. Is the posted WDW maintenance schedule reliable? I want to come to WDW when the attractions are open rather than closed for maintenance or upgrades.

  5. #5

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    Re: First-Time or Nearly-First-Time Visitors to Walt Disney World

    This thread is not intended to be only for my questions.

    I welcome questions from other first-time or nearly-first-time WDW visitors.

    The idea is to get vacation-planning answers beyond the information posted at Disney websites. Does anybody have either similar questions or more information?

  6. #6

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    Re: First-Time or Nearly-First-Time Visitors to Walt Disney World

    As a longtime Disneyland Local who has visited WDW several times, I will tell you that in my opinion, it is definately worth it to stay on property. They have a transportation system that will get you anywhere in the resort, therefore there will be no need to rent a car. There are certain perks, such as early entry for resort guests. You can make dining reservations from your hotel.
    Also, I find that even when you leave the theme parks for any reason, you're still there in the Disney atmosphere. It may not be everybody's cup of tea, but for me, that makes a difference.

  7. #7

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    Re: First-Time or Nearly-First-Time Visitors to Walt Disney World

    Quote Originally Posted by sbk1234 View Post
    It is definately worth it to stay on property. They have a transportation system that will get you anywhere in the resort, therefore there will be no need to rent a car. There are certain perks, such as early entry for resort guests. You can make dining reservations from your hotel.
    Also, I find that even when you leave the theme parks for any reason, you're still there in the Disney atmosphere. It may not be everybody's cup of tea, but for me, that makes a difference.
    I agree with this as well. If you are upgrading to the Premier (which sounds like you might) it would also entitle you to discounts at the resort hotels, sometimes perhaps quite substantial. Also, check http://www.mousesavers.com, which lists current discounts running, which right now I believe are room discounts and/or free dining for when you go, so I would DEFINITELY look into it.

    The terms are nothing major. From what I remember, they apply to phone charges, room charges, not making the room your residence (So odd I'll never forget reading it), and lately, the no smoking policy with the cleaning fee. Pretty standard stuff honestly and nothing to worry about.
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  8. #8

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    Re: First-Time or Nearly-First-Time Visitors to Walt Disney World

    Thank you. Everybody is posting useful comments. I became concerned when I discovered that "terms" would be presented for immediate agreement upon my arrival at a Disney resort, and more concerned when a Disney employee declined to tell me what the terms were. There are some long stories of my misfortunes with such situations.

    Here are what seems to be the advantages of staying at a Disney Value Resort. With a Value Resort I can purchase a meal plan (such as the Disney Quick Service Dining), ride the Disney bus from and to the airport for free, have Disney take care of my checked-in baggage, take advantage of Magic hours at the parks, have a Disney environment outside our hotel room, and have no need to take bus or shuttle to WDW since I will already be there. I was led to believe the Disney buses are available to anybody who is on the WDW property. I think only some of the Value Resorts will allow purchases to be sent directly to our room.

    The advantages of the hotels near WDW include freedom from any "surprise" contract terms on arrival (so the hotels assure me), lower rates than offered by the Disney Value Resorts, and some even include breakfast without the need to purchase a meal plan. Most have shuttles to the Disney parks, and bus systems go between WDW and sites near those hotels without shuttles. Once at WDW, I can use the Disney shuttles. I don't expect to be at the hotel except near bedtime. Most hotels have airport shuttles but some charge for the shuttle services.

    It seems my family and I will be okay either way, and the useful comments posted in this thread are helping me decide which is best.

  9. #9

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    Re: First-Time or Nearly-First-Time Visitors to Walt Disney World

    Well rides at Magic Kingdom don't get shut down for Holiday overlays like Disneyland so that is an added bonus. After Labor Day weekend, it should be decent as far as crowds but still humid with possibly of crazy weather so bring rain gear.

    September will be the Value season for the resorts which is good because the rates will be cheap, even cheaper if you book within the weekday instead of the weekend. A standard room at the value resort should be only $85 on weekdays, $95 on weekends, if you go this route in September just to give you an idea. If you do have a car while you're down there, then staying off property for even less is fine. If you don't you might wanna consider staying on property.
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  10. #10

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    Re: First-Time or Nearly-First-Time Visitors to Walt Disney World

    Quote Originally Posted by ronf View Post
    Thank you. Everybody is posting useful comments. I became concerned when I discovered that "terms" would be presented for immediate agreement upon my arrival at a Disney resort, and more concerned when a Disney employee declined to tell me what the terms were. There are some long stories of my misfortunes with such situations.

    Here are what seems to be the advantages of staying at a Disney Value Resort. With a Value Resort I can purchase a meal plan (such as the Disney Quick Service Dining), ride the Disney bus from and to the airport for free, have Disney take care of my checked-in baggage, take advantage of Magic hours at the parks, have a Disney environment outside our hotel room, and have no need to take bus or shuttle to WDW since I will already be there. I was led to believe the Disney buses are available to anybody who is on the WDW property. I think only some of the Value Resorts will allow purchases to be sent directly to our room.

    The advantages of the hotels near WDW include freedom from any "surprise" contract terms on arrival (so the hotels assure me), lower rates than offered by the Disney Value Resorts, and some even include breakfast without the need to purchase a meal plan. Most have shuttles to the Disney parks, and bus systems go between WDW and sites near those hotels without shuttles. Once at WDW, I can use the Disney shuttles. I don't expect to be at the hotel except near bedtime. Most hotels have airport shuttles but some charge for the shuttle services.

    It seems my family and I will be okay either way, and the useful comments posted in this thread are helping me decide which is best.
    The reason you couldn't get a staff member from the Value resorts to disclose the "terms" to you in advance is not because they're trying to hide them - it's probably because they didn't know what in the heck you were talking about - I've stayed at the Value resorts a dozen times and I didn't know what you are talking about - In terms of policies or rules for your stay there, Disney property hotels are no different than any other hotel - I'd be curious to know where you got the idea that there were some surprise terms with which you would be hit when you arrived.

    As for whether it is better to stay on property or off - I would never consider staying off property again - the cost saved in the transportation or free parking alone is worth the cost - plus the other things you mentioned - extra magic hours, packages delivered directly to your hotel (and they all have that - not sure why you're under the impression that it is only permitted at certain ones) I usually go in early February and the cost for my room is $82 a night - and the weather is usually perfect - not too hot, not too cold. But the biggest advantage to staying on the property is the flexibility it gives you - if you are relying on the free shuttle from another hotel (and I've read some ugly stories/experiences about some of those)- you're bound by their schedule - if you're using Disney transportation, you can come and go as you please. If you have a car down there, they'll cover your parking, which adds to that flexibility. You have the option of purchasing meal plans if you stay on grounds - and you get the extra time in the parks.

    Then there's the extra plus - when you stay on the grounds you are completely immersed in the Disney experience - everything you see and hear is set up to create a magical experience. I would consider it - particularly if you're new to the resort - you won't regret it. They do this better than anyone.

  11. #11

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    Talking Re: First-Time or Nearly-First-Time Visitors to Walt Disney World

    I am a frequent Disneyland visitor counting the days til my first WDW Vacation. 30 days 19 hours and 42 min. Im a little excited. We are staying on property AKL concierge. Glad to hear we made a good choice!!

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    Re: First-Time or Nearly-First-Time Visitors to Walt Disney World

    You can go here: Contact Us | Walt Disney World Resort and ask them directly. I can't think of anything that would cause you to not want to stay on property.

    If you plan to visit Disneyland before your trip, you might want to see if you can upgrade your AP there; Disneyland offers more and better discounts for the Premium AP than WDW. You would also receive a discount for lodging if you book your WDW room after you upgrade your AP. If you decide not to purchase a Disney Dining Plan, your Premium AP entitles you to a $25.00 discount on Tables in Wonderland, which will get you discounts at most WDW restaurants without day/time restrictions. This addition will pay for itself.

    Hope this helps!

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    Re: First-Time or Nearly-First-Time Visitors to Walt Disney World

    Quote Originally Posted by celticdar View Post
    Then there's the extra plus - when you stay on the grounds you are completely immersed in the Disney experience - everything you see and hear is set up to create a magical experience. I would consider it - particularly if you're new to the resort - you won't regret it. They do this better than anyone.
    times 1000!!

  14. #14

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    Re: First-Time or Nearly-First-Time Visitors to Walt Disney World

    Quote Originally Posted by celticdar View Post
    The reason you couldn't get a staff member from the Value resorts to disclose the "terms" to you in advance is not because they're trying to hide them - it's probably because they didn't know what in the heck you were talking about - I've stayed at the Value resorts a dozen times and I didn't know what you are talking about - In terms of policies or rules for your stay there, Disney property hotels are no different than any other hotel - I'd be curious to know where you got the idea that there were some surprise terms with which you would be hit when you arrived.
    The phone conversation with the staff member took place about a year ago. The staff member did know about the terms, and explained why most people don't read the terms. There are two ways to check into a Disney resort: self check-in at a terminal and regular check-in at the front desk. With self check-in, the terms are displayed on a screen and the guest selects an "accept" button to apply them. A staff member told me that most people don't bother reading the terms. I notice that an earlier comment in this thread (from yoyoflamingo on June 03, 2011) stated that the "terms are nothing major."

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    Re: First-Time or Nearly-First-Time Visitors to Walt Disney World

    Thank you all. Here is a summary of what you have been telling me.

    It appears that the majority of people responding favor lodging on the WDW property and feel that September is a good month to visit WDW. No responses expressed significant concern about the "terms" presented on arrival. One response (from yoyoflamingo on June 03, 2011) summarized a portion of them from memory. In another response (Queen Of Hearts on June 05, 2011), contact information was given so I could get a Disney staff member to talk with me about my concerns.

    The probability of attractions being open in September, rather than closed for maintenance or upgrade, seems to be substantially in my favor.

    There were no negative comments about upgrading our annual passes to Premier level, and one response (Queen Of Hearts on June 05, 2011) recommended upgrading at Disneyland in California rather than waiting till we arrive at WDW.

    I believe that no standard strategy works for all families visiting WDW. I didn't expect for people to tell me the only way to go, but the answers received gave me confirmations of information I had and introduction to details I didn't have.

    I hope more first-time or nearly-first-time visitors to WDW will post questions and be helped by the postings in this thread.

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