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Joshua's Orlando Trip Report: Pre-Planning and Suggestions

My Orlando summer vacation is a mere two weeks away. See what I've got planned, offer suggestions, and drool in envy.

From Joshua Counsil
Posted August 12, 2009 at 7:58 PM
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Tickets

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Knowing that the Disney prices would increase in August, our group of nine bought 8 Day Park Hopper Tickets with Water Park Fun & More from Undercover Tourist in advance. Free shipping is included and we saved time and money by purchasing in advance.

We purchased Universal`s 2 Park Unlimited Admission tickets from their website, saving time and a substantial amount of money. We took advantage of Universal's $150 coupon book deal, which should save us money on food and drinks.

We will also be purchasing SeaWorld`s 1 Day Adult for the Price of Child tickets from their website.

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Travel

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We are bringing two cars and will drive from Ottawa, Ontario, on August 25, saving a significant amount of money by splitting gas. One of our friends will be flying in since she cannot join us for the entire trip.

By staying in Disney, we will take advantage of their free parking and free transportation.

Other non-Disney venues will be reached via our vehicles and parking costs will be split evenly.

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Accommodations

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There were many excellent hotel and resort deals available, particularly from MouseSavers, but we received an offer we couldn't refuse on the DIS Discussion Boards. By posting a request for a Disney Vacation Club rental with flexible vacation times in late August, we were offered a 2-bedroom suite at Disney's Old Key West Resort for $8.50 CAD / point and with weekend rates charged as weekday rates (the weekend rates are more than twice as expensive as the weekday rates). This deal saved us about $1000 off the rack rate for an 11 night stay and will allow us to prepare our own meals, use free transportation, and take advantage of Extra Magic Hours.

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Dining

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We used Disney's new online dining reservation system to get advance reservations for Spirit of Aloha, California Grill, Teppan Edo, Biergarten, and 50's Prime Time Cafe. We will eat breakfast in the room and pack most of our lunches.

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Itinerary

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The following is a tentative, flexible (with the exception of travel) schedule:

August 25: Depart Ottawa, Ontario
August 26: Arrive and check-in.
August 27: SeaWorld Orlando
August 28: Epcot
August 29: Animal Kingdom, Extra Magic Hours, Spirit of Aloha
August 30: Disney's Hollywood Studios, Extra Magic Hours at Magic Kingdom
August 31: Islands of Adventure
September 1: Magic Kingdom
September 2: Cocoa Beach, maybe Kennedy Space Center
September 3: Universal Studios Orlando
September 4: Epcot (drinkin' around the world), Extra Magic Hours
September 5: whatever, followed by Spectromagic parade, California Grill for fireworks.
September 6: Depart

Inter-spliced with these days will be water parks, CityWalk, Downtown Disney, Disney's Boardwalk, and downtown Orlando.

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Suggestions? Comments?

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Your call is very important to us. Please offer any suggestions and/or comments you may have for this trip. Feel free to ask me to report on anything of interest while I'm there. Some things to take into consideration:

In our group, there are nine people: five guys, five gals, ages 21 - 22.
We are mostly college students and we love to party.
We are likely going to avoid Busch Gardens Tampa due to its distance from our resort.
This will be my seventh visit to Orlando. Three others have visited Orlando, but have only seen Universal Studios Florida and Cocoa Beach. The other five have never been to a true theme park.
We will be driving without any overnight hotel, campground, or other rest stops.
We are adventurous.
Please note that anybody who asks about the status of Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit while I'm in Orlando will be virtually punched through their monitor.

I look forward to this trip and the opportunity to write about it.


Comments in chronological order. Most recent at the bottom. Scroll down to respond.

From James Rao
Posted August 12, 2009 at 8:44 PM
Josh, looks like a great plan. Thorough and fun. You have reduced an Orlando vacation down to what it should be: an exact science.

Would love to get a report on how the Space Mountain refurb is progressing (if you can see anything from the outside of the attraction), as well as a scoop on the new Harry Potter construction.

Additionally, please keep us posted on the status of Universal's new coaster, Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit, while you are in the vicinity.

:p

From robert miller
Posted August 12, 2009 at 8:42 PM
You may want to use your extra magic hours at one park, but then go to another park the same day (if you have park hopper) to avoid the extra crowds that the magic hours bring in.

From James Rao
Posted August 13, 2009 at 3:02 AM
Oh yeah, don't forget to bust a move with the Dance Club Yeti when you ride Expedition Everest!

From James Koehl
Posted August 13, 2009 at 2:59 AM
Wow! Someone has done their homework! Now the trick is to see if all of your group will stick to it. It does look great.
We ate at California Grill, and were able to get a table by the window, with the idea of watching the fireworks from our table. It didn't work. The restaurant was so noisy that we couldn't hear the music, and they didn't dim the lights so we couldn't see the fireworks due to the glare on the windows. We decided to go to the outdoor viewing area off of the restaurant to watch and hear, but it was so jammed that we couldn't see from their either. I hope you have better luck.

From Anthony Murphy
Posted August 13, 2009 at 6:54 AM
If the OKW thing is on the up and up, then welcome to my "home" in WDW!

The rooms are pretty big so you should have no problem making breakfast!


Olivia's at OKW is better for lunch. Some stuff there can be hit or miss, but usually its really good lunch stuff.

Consider using your car at OKW. Its usually faster just to use the car to get to EPCOT, DHS, and Downtown Disney. You can also get to the boardwalk (mentioned below)


Other than that, you are a pretty big TPI expert on the site so you know your stuff! Good luck driving all that way down!

You should try the Canada resturant for laughs to see what you think of your countrymen!

Oh yes, for the people our age:

Check out Raligan Road and most of Downtown Disney at least once. There are some good stuff at House of Blues, Bongos, and Raligan Road once again. Also, you can go to the "EPCOT Resorts" which are the Boardwalk Inn and The Beach/Yachtt Club. The Boardwalk has a Microbrewery, Dance Hall, Sports Bar, and Piano Bar. Beach Club you can walk around the nice pool, play games, and Beaches and Cream Ice Cream Shop staring the infamous Kitchen Sink (google it! You have ten hungry 20 somethings that can scarf that thing down!). OKW also has shuffle boards, bonefires, volleyball, swimming, and biking.

From Joshua Counsil
Posted August 13, 2009 at 11:58 AM
@ Robert -

We are not going to be doing any Extra Magic Hour mornings. We're college kids - we're gonna have a hard enough time being at the gates for 9. In my experience, the evening EMH's do not affect attendance drastically (until, of course, the evening).

@ James Koehl -

I ate at the California Grill once and had a great meal, excellent service, and a beautiful outdoor view of the fireworks. It was not overcrowded on the terrace - it was January and was too "cold" for the patrons, so we were alone. I guess that will be different in August.

@ Anthony -

The reason we'll be using Disney's transportation so fervently is that the owners of the cars do not want to drive while on vacation. They don't mind the extra time. I've been to Raglan Road before and am considering a return trip. And that "kitchen sink" sounds excellent.

@ James -

May you suffer the eternal waiting time for the Pteranodon Flyers while the infernal music of It's a Small World torments you for inquiring about HRRR.

From James Rao
Posted August 13, 2009 at 12:56 PM
I second Anthony's suggestion for Raglan Road. Great food, great environment, great place. Even though you have already visited that establishment you owe it to yourself to go again (and again).

As for my torment, how do you know I am not already experiencing that kind of pain living 1500 miles away from my favorite place on Earth?

Now, where's that RRR update, BEEEE-OTCH??!!!

Seriously, have a fun and relatively safe trip. And avoid the Awful...errr...Waffle House at all costs.

From Anthony Murphy
Posted August 13, 2009 at 1:31 PM
EMH at night seem to work the best at EPCOT and MK, especially MK. Never had an issue with those two parks during EMH though I spent most of the evening EMH in World Showcase.

Due to the sheer rides of MK, EMH work there the best!

I understand you don't want to use the cars, but be warned: OKW's busses appear to be a bit rarer and slower than some of the other resorts. I just mention DHS, Downtown Disney, and EPCOT because its so close. However, don't drink and drive. I don't know whats legal in Canada, but down here its not suggested ;) So do whatever you want, but I warned you about OKW busses!

Do you know where you are staying in OKW?

The closer to the Hospitality House, the better. Try to stay on Penisular or Miller's Road

From robert miller
Posted August 13, 2009 at 8:29 PM
You should consider going to discovery cove. You could probably upgrade you seaworld ticket. If you go to discovery cove, you get a week long pass to either sea world or busch gardens. I loved it when I went years ago. If I were going again I would skip the dolphin swim(save 100 dollars). It is a nice park even without the dolphin swim. When I went you got a free meal(very good). More recently when my friend went he said it was unlimited free beer and food. (snacks as well)

From Joshua Counsil
Posted August 14, 2009 at 9:19 AM
Here's your RRR update, James [PUNCH]

As for Discovery Cove, I think our schedule might be a bit jammed for another park. Someday.

And I have no idea where we're staying in OKW.

From Anthony Murphy
Posted August 14, 2009 at 9:22 AM
Well every area has its pros or cons. You will likely be near the action of the front area with Olivia's, Gurgling Suitcases (great bar), Commnutity Hall, and the main pool.

Last time we stayed there, we stayed close to the back, but pretty much had our own private pool in Turtle Crawl.

From James Rao
Posted August 14, 2009 at 10:59 AM
[DODGE] I didn't catch that update, Josh. Did you say RRR is up and running at last?

From Mark Walker
Posted August 14, 2009 at 11:09 AM
1). If your doing parks only once, it's probably for the best is you do everything as a single rider, that way you'll get on more rides than if you travel in a group. Best ditch your mates (they'll understand!).


2). If you plan to do as much as possible, I would advise against clubbing/partying/raving/getting arrested. If you plan to get up early next morning, best avoid the alcohol.


3). If you're doing a lot of theme parking on your trip, best listen to the 'theme park expert' of the group because he/she knows best. Oh wait, that should be you!


Enjoy your trip, and be sure to update us on the HRRR situation! (Don't hit me please!)

From Anthony Murphy
Posted August 15, 2009 at 1:40 PM
Good news, RRR is now open!

From Kelly Smith
Posted August 16, 2009 at 11:22 PM
1) Don't forget to get a Grey Goose lemonade slush in Epcot's France.
2) You're going down during free dining -- it's doubtful you'll be able to walk up to any of the popular TS restaurants.
3) Cat Cora's new restaurant Kouzzina just had its soft opening... if you like Greek food and/or Iron Chef, you may want to try it.
4) Have fun! I'll be there in September for F&W and I can't frigging wait.

From Joshua Counsil
Posted August 17, 2009 at 10:16 AM
Dining reservations were extremely hard to get. That promo must be working.

I may pass on HRRR if the waits are unbearable. In my eye, no ride is worth waiting more than 90 minutes for. I'd rather see everything else with shorter waits.

As for boozin', remember that we're college students/recent grads. Drinking and getting up early is our forte!

I'm comin' in from the left, James! [PUNCH]

From Anthony Murphy
Posted August 17, 2009 at 10:43 AM
Keep trying for reservations, especially online. Check when you go to OKW or at the front of the park.

From James Rao
Posted August 17, 2009 at 11:45 AM
OWWWWW! That one connected, but since you hit like a girl I will be okay. Besides, I've got my fill of RRR updates since the soft opening. Now I am just back to being jealous cause you are going to WDW and I am not. Knowing that hurts a lot more than your feeble jabs. ;p

From Joshua Counsil
Posted August 17, 2009 at 12:32 PM
Maybe my feeble kicks will settle your hash!

I'm just gonna walk towards you kicking air, like this. And if you get hit, it's your own fault.

From James Rao
Posted August 17, 2009 at 12:58 PM
That's it, I am using The Crane Technique.

If do right, no can defense. Banzai!!!

From hannah caller
Posted August 17, 2009 at 3:34 PM
Joshua i agree with you on the wait time for Rip,Ride,Rocket, is it really worth a long wait?!

What do ya look like? il look out for you (lol) im going in 10 days got a nice 9hr 40 min flight from the UK to look forward to!!

From Joshua Counsil
Posted August 18, 2009 at 9:10 AM
Hannah -

That would be hilarious if you saw me. I've always thought about running into a fellow Insider.

I'm 5'11", stocky, heavy-built, and 21-years-old. Just finished college. I dress somewhat like a preppy/urban frat boy. I usually have a big, stupid grin on my face.

I'll be traveling with a group of nine people (including me), all the same age. 5 guys, 4 girls. We should be following that itinerary somewhat closely.

Here are some pictures of me, my brother, and my parents from our Vegas trip in January:

http://picasaweb.google.com/counse/LasVegas2009?authkey=Gv1sRgCL3ysMC6xeXflgE#

From Joshua Counsil
Posted August 24, 2009 at 10:19 AM
I leave from Kingston, Ontario, tomorrow at 4:30. A trip report will follow in 2 weeks or so.

From James Rao
Posted August 24, 2009 at 10:37 AM
Good luck, Josh. Be safe.

From Joshua Counsil
Posted August 24, 2009 at 3:54 PM
Thanks, James. We'll be fine. We may be party-crazy college kids, but we're usually in control.

Usually ...

I know Robert, among others, hates caps-riddled comments, but I can't help it ...

IN LESS THAN 24 HOURS I'LL BE LEAVING FOR ORLANDO!!!!!

From sarah g
Posted August 24, 2009 at 5:48 PM
Will you be updating from a pda? I would love to meet up with your posse for a drink!!!

From Joshua Counsil
Posted August 25, 2009 at 7:34 AM
Sarah -

As much as I'd love to do daily reports, I know I won't have the effort. I will take jot notes, but no updates will be provided until I'm back in Kingston.

Just check out those pictures I posted and my itinerary - maybe we'll run into one another.

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