Published: February 3, 2009 at 11:30 AM
Robert - late July/early August is normally a very busy time in Orlando. The benefit is that you will get to catch all the parks' night time extravaganzas (Universal 360 has never been shown during one of my off-season visits), something not available in less busy times. The down-side, of course, is the parks will be swamped and hot.
For your Universal time, you had best stay on property and take advantage of the front of line access granted with your room key. I still think Universal's Stay Four, Play More deal is about as good as it gets. And four days is more than perfect for your USF stay.
As for Disney, stay off property as you suggested, get to the parks early, and have a focused attack (like the four hour tours we have discussed in the past). You already have seven days left on your pass (I think that is what you wrote), so there should be no expenditures here other than food and souvenirs. Reminder - Space Mountain will be in full refurb mode by the time you arrive, so adjust your four hour tour accordingly. Make sure you get to Downtown Disney and do a full review of DisneyQuest, I will need your insight on my next vacation (I finally have two kids tall enough to ride Cyber Space Mountain). Also, if you have not already done so, visit Raglan Road for a great meal. Lastly, the new Kim Possible activity at Epcot is garnering great reviews...if you get a chance, make sure to try it out as well.
Sea World is generally a one day event, so plan on going during your Disney week. It can be difficult to see all the shows in a single day due to the way they are scheduled, however, the main reason you are going is to ride Manta and Kraken (right?), so any shows you catch will be considered a bonus! Just arrive early, head straight to Manta, have fun, and take lots of pictures.
And, try to stay cool in mid-summer.....somehow.
As for the main point of this thread: if you have never stayed at a Deluxe Disney resort, and want to give it a shot, there has never been a better time. Disney's buy four, get three free offer is a great deal for the more expensive hotels. You will save over a grand at a deluxe resort. The only thing better, for my family, is when Disney offers free dining - for a family of five (like mine) free dining is the best benefit (probably a $1200 savings if we eat like pigs!).