Disney Before Thanksgiving?
September 19, 2011 3:39 PM   Subscribe

Two questions about a potential trip to Disney World: 1) Is it crazy to plan a trip to Disney World for the Saturday-Tuesday BEFORE Thanksgiving? 2) Is it vital to stay at a Disney property? Thanks!
posted by tmharris65 to Travel & Transportation around Anaheim, CA (13 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
It is not necessary to stay in the park but it does make things oh so much easier, especially if children are involved. I have stayed outside the park and inside and much prefer staying inside. One of the perks used to be entering the park 30 minutes or an hour before people from the outside. Hopefully, someone can comment on the scheduling.
posted by KneeDeep at 3:56 PM on September 19, 2011 [2 favorites]

The Wed-Sun overlapping Thanksgiving is their highish season, but before and after are the lower seasons, so it's cheaper and generally less busy.

It's convenient and much nicer to stay at a property -- you get to stay in a park earlier &/or later, they have transportation, they're very helpful -- but not crucial.
posted by jeather at 4:10 PM on September 19, 2011

The people at disboards will answer any questions you might have.
posted by crosten at 4:15 PM on September 19, 2011 [1 favorite]

As someone who visited Disneyland on the day after Tday some years ago, which was at that point the most crowded day ever (78,000, IIRC), I'd say that the weekend before might be one of the better times to go, since a lot of people will be delaying until the next weekend.
posted by rhizome at 4:21 PM on September 19, 2011

I've stayed on and off site, with and without kids. Being off-site is cheaper, but requires more thinking ahead. Depending on where you are, you might be an extra half hour from your room. We've taken advantage of being able to go back to our room mid-day and chill out, take a swim or nap. You also can have your purchases sent back to the hotel when you're onsite. We won't stay offsite anymore - to us, the cost savings isn't worth the time and effort involved.

Also, what KneeDeep said about the extra hours - very nice to have the park virtually to yourself. Not every attraction is open, but the big ones usually are.

We've been to WDW many times - feel free to memail me with more questions if you want.
posted by neilbert at 4:52 PM on September 19, 2011

I've only been to WDW once, and I stayed off site. The accomodations were dirt cheap, but it was greatly offset by the fact that transportation in Orlando is really expensive (roads are twisty and the place is very spread out). Getting to and from the parks in private transport can add up very quickly... and I found the free hotel shuttles weren't very flexible.
posted by Intrepid at 5:25 PM on September 19, 2011

If you have young kids or are visiting with elderly grandparents stay in the park - preferably in a hotel with a monorail stop. It gives you the option of getting back to the hotel for a couple hour rest mid day (either as a group or if someone gets tired) without needing to wait forever for a bus there and back.

We've stayed at the Grand Floridian and being able to hop on a ferry from the magic kingdom when the park closes is great - but of course you will pay for the convenience...
posted by NoDef at 5:26 PM on September 19, 2011

I second everyone saying that staying on site is ONE BILLION TIMES EASIER. DWorld is HUGE, and it's easier to just take busses here and there around the giant park (which is long enough as is within each park at times). Also, the perks.
posted by jenfullmoon at 6:28 PM on September 19, 2011

That sounds like an awesome time to visit. I've probably typed this advice so many times that it sounds like an ad.

1. Check out the not owned by Disney Swan and Dolphin hotels. They are on Disney property (within walking/boat distance of Epcot and Studios) and allow you to use Disney transportation and are great values. The only downside is that their pools don't stay open as late and they don't offer airport shuttles.
2. Try touringplans.com for the best advice on how to tour the parks during busy times. I've been there twice when crowd levels were high and I never waited in line more than 15 minutes when I was following their plans.

Have a great trip!
posted by missmerrymack at 7:00 PM on September 19, 2011 [2 favorites]

Perhaps the most perverse aspect of Disney is that the more you pay for your hotel room, the more people you will have to wait in line with. In other words, if you go on the weekend or at Christmas, you'll pay through the nose and then have the most crowded conditions at the parks.

Based on the price for a hotel during Thanksgiving (which the Mouse considers to be the Saturday before through the Friday after) and this list from a reliable website, the period you're considering is moderate. Which means you'll still be waiting in plenty of long lines, but, all things considered, is pretty good.

As for on-site, that is one of the most divergent opinions you'll find at Walt Disney World. If you really hate to drive and don't mind waiting for the convenience of getting dropped off at the park entrance, the onsite hotels and busses are definitely the way to go. Just be aware that 1) the cheaper resorts tend to be the first picked up and last dropped off, and obviously the monorail resorts are significantly more expensive, 2) The direct bus service is mostly to the parks, so it takes twice as long to get to another resort from your resort. If you've got your heart set on eating at Boma, plan for a forty-five minute trip out to Animal Kingdom Lodge that would take fifteen or twenty with a car, even from off-site.

If you really prefer condo-style lodging and price is at all an issue, off-site is definitely the way to go. Disney's time share "Villa" properties are extortionate unless you go through this Byzantine process of "renting" points from a member, make a non-refundable reservation, etc., etc. Whereas half the state is under foreclosure and the underwater owners will rent you a new, well-appointed condo for a song.
posted by wnissen at 7:27 PM on September 19, 2011

I can't speak on the timing of your visit (though, personally, I would avoid any popular vacation spot like Disney around any holiday).

However, we've been to WDW twice. Both times, we stayed on-site at the Polynesian and would absolutely do it again. It's just easier to enjoy yourself when you don't have to bother with transportation in and out of the property. The Polynesian is on the monorail, so you have quick, easy transportation to both the Magic Kingdom and Epcot. And the park buses run regularly to take you everywhere else.
posted by Thorzdad at 5:11 AM on September 20, 2011

We've stayed onsite once, offsite at a timeshare resort once, and offsite at a cheap hotel once. The cheap hotel was a little far from the park, the resort wasn't. If you're OK with renting a car (and paying for parking), I'd say there can be little difference beyond the slightly expanded park hours. When we stayed onsite, it was at the cheapest class of Disney property. The food at the timeshare was slightly better, and the water fun was definitely better. Having a car meant we weren't waiting for free buses, and that it didn't take us an hour to get there from the airport, when we were the last stop of all the hotels.
posted by troywestfield at 6:28 AM on September 20, 2011

I was there Thanksgiving week last year from Monday - Friday. It was a madhouse. If we didn't have Ultimate Fast Passes from participating in the Give a Day, Get a Day promotion, we would've been standing in lines for most of the trip.

That being said, the holidays are a fantastic time to visit since the parks are amazingly decorated, and if you are ok with getting to the parks early to do the rides you want and spending the rest of the time watching the parades and admiring the decorations, you should be ok.

Other notes:
You must check out the Osborne Family Lights at Hollywood Studios. However, don't stay until the parks close if you're relying on Disney transportation. It took us an hour to even get on a bus back to the Polynesian from Hollywood Studios.

They start taking Dining Reservations 180-days in advance. You should check the restaurant situation before you book your trip to make sure there are food options you are interested in. Either that or you'll be eating at quick-service places the whole time.
posted by FreezBoy at 6:31 AM on September 20, 2011

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