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parisandelle May 5th, 2005 07:31 AM

Orlando/Disney in Jan. 2006 - Where to start?
My husband and I are doing the Disney Marathon next January and I am in need of some guidance. My husband has been to WDW (many years ago), but I have never been. We are leaving or 2 year old with his grandparents - so no kids in tow.

Wondering where to start? I tried booking the Ritz Carlton Grande Lakes, but it is apparently full already (can this be?). Am I trying reserve too early? I have read so many mixed reviews on the Grand Floridian so I can't say that we would stay there. I am indifferent if the hotel is in the resort. We just want something nice, with good service. It does not have to be 5 star either.

We already got the flights under control (we live in England - my husband us British). I was think we would stay about 7-10 days.

Also, considering doing the 3 day Disney - so 7 days at WDW and a 3 day cruise.

Any of you out there been in early Jan during the marathon. Taken a Disney cruise? what is your favorite place to stay?

Thank for any help!

stjohnbound May 5th, 2005 07:37 AM

Can I make a suggestion that you save your Disney trip for when your 2 year old is old enough to tag along? There are so many nice places you and your husband could go while you have this time alone. Why go somewhere full of kids? And as far as a Disney cruise, that is something I would never do unless I was doing it for the kids. Just my opinion. Please don't slam me all you Disney fans out there! I think Disney has a forum which I'm sure someone out there can help you with.

radiofanatic May 5th, 2005 07:40 AM

I would use the following websites:

they will provide you with all of the info you need - Have fun!

parisandelle May 5th, 2005 07:42 AM

stjohnbound, thanks for the response. Our primary reason for going is the marathon. My husband is a big kid and since I have never been we just thought we do it all. We get back to the US very often and a 5th birthday trip to WDW for our son is already in the cards.

I have been to the Disney forum and it made my head spin. ;-)

stjohnbound May 5th, 2005 07:49 AM

Sorry, I didn't realize you meant a real Marathon. I always think of Disney as a marathon in itself!

Dreamer2 May 5th, 2005 08:05 AM

HA! Me too!

If you are going w/out kids, I'd definitely stay at the Grand Cypress Hyatt. The Grand Lakes is spectacular, too, and cannot possibly be filled yet. (Also the benefit of a great, but pricey, day spa.) If you used the internet, it probably isn't booking out that far. Try calling or faxing directly. Stay on park grounds (I prefer the GF since it is on the monorail) when you return with your son in a couple years.

Do NOT do the Disney Cruise. You will be miserable. The ocean is rough in January and you will be surrounded by screaming, seasick kids.

There are several great posts here you can Search out for great Orlando dining. I LOVE Hemmingways at Grand Cypress Hyatt, California Grill at the Contemporary Resort, and the Flying Fish on the Boardwalk.

You may want to buy two adult multi-day partk-hopping tickets that do not expire. It's an extra charge, but you'll have them when you return. It's actually cheaper per day when you buy more days, and you'll be able to change parks mid-day, and you'll be protected if prices go up or the exchange rate changes.

You should definitely do Magic Kingdom to learn the lay-out for your return, but you will probably only want to wait in line for the big draws, like Splash Mountain, Space Mountain, Thunder Mt. RR, Haunted Mansion (things your little one will probably be too young for at five). Go early and do these rides first to avoid long waits. Plan on spending most of your time at Epcot. Although I don't care for the restaurants there, it is still a fun place to go at night. Appetizer in one country, dessert at another, choosing between mai tais and margueritas!

Also, I think you'd enjoy the Orlando Premium Outlet Mall. Lots of Europeans there last time I went thoroughly enjoying their exchange rate!!!

January is a good time to go to avoid crowds and long lines, but it will probably be quite cool.

Good luck with your plans! Have a great trip! :)

parisandelle May 5th, 2005 08:18 AM

dreamer2, thanks so much for the great info. I just called the Ritz and they are only taking bookings through January 4th (go figure). I will look at the other hotels you mentioned.

The cruise seems not to be such a good idea. How about 7 days at WDW and 3 around Universal?

GoTravel May 5th, 2005 09:20 AM

One of my best friends just ran the Disney 1/2 Marathon and I'm thinking of running the full marathon with her this year.

There should be a massive room block for the marathon through Disney.

Can you stay onsite? I highly recommend staying onsite the couple days around the marathon and then moving off to the JW Marriott or Ritz Carlton Monday or Tuesday.

Check the site (there will be no discounts) and see what the Grand Floridian, Yacht & Beach Club, Contemporary, and the Polynisian are going for.

While I've not stayed at either, The Wilderness Lodge and the Animal Kingdom Lodge (can't think of the correct name) are also supposed to be excellent.

GoTravel May 5th, 2005 09:22 AM

Meant to add, your hubby I think gets a free day pass to one of the parks included in his entrance fee.

parisandelle May 5th, 2005 11:03 AM

GoTravel, thanks for the tips. I will check to see if we get a free pass with our race entries before buying our passes.

cherie1 May 5th, 2005 11:51 AM

My husband and I went to Disney for two nights in March with no kids. We stayed at the Animal Kingdom Lodge in a Savannah room, and it was great. You can watch giraffes, etc. feed right from your little balcony. We did Epcot 1/2 day (okay) and Animal Kingdom the second day (loved it). We had dinner at Jiko(very good) and California Grille (I highly recommend it). I would not have wanted to stay in Disney for too much longer, but we loved our quick jaunt there.

nytraveler May 5th, 2005 12:09 PM

For Orlando for adults I reco the Hyatt Grand Cyprus - a really beautiful resort with enormous grounds. Centrally located so you can get to anything easily - but not overrun by kids. The pools are beautiful, there are several golf course, nature hikes, bike riding and a lake with several type of boats - including paddle boats.

Hemingway's - a casual place above the pool/cliff complex is great for casuale dining and GOOD food (a real issue in Orlando).

To do for adults - I would reco Epcot, Sea World (do talk to the curators - they know a lot and can be fascianting but most people ignore them) and MGM. Universal is good if you like traditional "rides".

I would not do Magic Kingdom until you bring your child - there is very little there for adults. Have not done Animal Kingdom - so can;t comment.

If you want to do a cruise do not do Disney - this is also really for kids and their parents. I would look for something aimed more at adults. Perhaps down to Miami/South Beach for some clubbing.

Pinson May 5th, 2005 12:42 PM

Try Sheraton Vistana Resort. It is a time-share but rents like a hotel. Extremely nice, 5 minutes to parks, close to grocery stores etc... Has kitchen, w/d, living and dining rooms. Great for a lenghthy stay.

Dreamer2 May 5th, 2005 12:58 PM

Hi again!

If you have 10 days, you may want to split it between Orlando and ??? I'd head south. Marco Island has a fabulous Marriott, and South Beach Miami would be a blast. You don't need to switch hotels to visit both Universal and Disney. And I think you can pretty much do what you want within 2-3 nights/days at Disney, since you are two healthy (and obviously fast moving! ) adults and the lines won't be too bad in January. (It would take twice as long with kids in tow.) Add a shopping day, a spa day, another park day... Then what? Certainly, you can always find more to do in Orlando if you want to, but I think I'd add in a change of pace place.

Oh - I also wanted to mention Pleasure Island. Lots of fun club hopping!

parisandelle May 5th, 2005 01:57 PM

Wow! 10 days is too long? I read somewhere that you should give yourself at least a week (Fodor's write up probably). And the cruise is off the menu now.

stjohnbound May 5th, 2005 02:12 PM

I think the advice you are getting is great, especially about 10 days being WAY too long in Disney. I have been to Disney dozens of times and cannot imagine staying a whole week. You're so close to lots of nice destinations (Sanibel, The Keys, etc) that you may want to consider in addition to your Disney time. But, it's your trip so ultimately you'll have to decide. This is just my opinion from having been there numerous times. I have not been to the Animal Kingdom and that sounds great.

wantsomesun May 5th, 2005 02:17 PM

I should start out with we LOVE DISNEY and have been several times and do not have kids. We love to go and relive kidhood at Disney World.

I would suggest starting out at the official website for Disney and find out what hotels have availability for the dates you are going to be there.

January is a good time of year there, because the kids are in school, so there will be few if any in the parks during the day.

The resorts I would choose would be The Contemporary, or the Grand Floridian, both are very nice with good restaurants onsite. I love the monorail going right THROUGH the Contemporary.

Also you might try for hotels in the area so you get some idea of locations, amenities and distance from Disney.

I would stay on Disney, it's easier to get around that way.

Also there are TONS, and I mean TONS of discount shopping outlets in the Orlando area, and discount shopping coupons for further percentages.

Have a GREAT time and enjoy your trip.

ccrosner May 5th, 2005 02:43 PM

You've gotten great advice and I second the recommendation of the site. I know it will make your head spin but it's full of great ideas.

We've only been to Disney with kids and have stayed at the Contemporary, the Poly, GF and Yacht Club. If I were going just with hubby, I'd stay at the Yacht Club. It's close to the Boardwalk which has good restaurants and nice things to do at night. It's walking distance to Epcot which has fun restaurants and you can catch a boat to MGM. The atmosphere is nice. Others are fine but I would save monorail resorts for the trip with a 5 year old.

Have fun!

lolfn May 5th, 2005 03:16 PM

at least for the days you plan on going to the disney parks, definitely stay at a disney resort. i'd stay at the yacht or beach club. you can walk to epcot and the boardwalk and they have a great sand bottomed pool that you can't use unless you stay there (some resorts allow pool hopping, but not this one).

magic kingdom is my least favorite park. feels too closed and crowded even when it isn't. but you gotta see main street and the castle so maybe hit it for one morning.

epcot is great, especially the world showcase. we did a pub crawl there last year and it was a ton of fun. food is great.

mgm has the best thrill rides--rockin roller coaster and tower of terror. the shows there are fun too.

animal kingdom safari is great. but, while they laid epcot out wonderfully, they really screwed up animal kingdom. it is laid out in a hub and spoke pattern and the pathways are narrow so you always feel crowded and you always have to go back to the tree to get anywhere else. that bums me out.

pleasure island and disney quest are fun. shopping in downtown disney. great restaurants everywhere. but i agree that you'll burned out with 10 days. maybe plan 3-4 days at one of the many florida beaches.

have fun!

Dreamer2 May 5th, 2005 07:49 PM

About the length of time...
Yes, if you are doing all 4 Disney parks, and want to do them thoroughly, plus a water park if it's warm, a Downtown Disney Day, a couple days at SeaWorld or Universal, and maybe have a day to shop or sit by the pool - it could add up to 10 days in Orlando. But I think that's more of a vacation with kids, who have less stamina for each day, and want to do every last blooming show and ride in each park. But do you, as an adult couple, really want to spend 6-7 days at amusement parks? (Really, it's just "rides," although top-of-the-line very creative ones.) I think for most people beyond 25, it would be a bit much! :) Especially people who are having a break from the family scene at home. ;) But that's just my opinion; you may feel differently. And I'm sure we'll hear from others who do as well.

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