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Last minute (Month) Disney?

Last minute (Month) Disney?

Old Oct 26, 15, 6:26 am
  #1  
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Last minute (Month) Disney?

Hello~
I have been tossing around the thought of Disney, for an early December 2015 trip for my wife and 2 little ladies (3&4). The girls have have never been, and are Princess Crazed! Before I put much more thought into it, I was hoping to get some Expert opinions...

I've heard that it is Best to book a year in advance. That said, will we be able to enjoy the princess experiences (meet and greets / meals, etc) last minute like this? Anything we'd miss? This will be a determining factor for the whole trip, and if Not - will probably push Disney to next year, and just look for a new destination.

Not to get too far ahead of myself, but when we do go (this year or next) any thoughts on accommodations? Initial thought was Swan or Hyatt Cyprus, as We certainly try to stay where we have status, and / or pay little to nothing. Other options would almost all of the major chains:

Hyatt
SPG
IHG
Hilton
Marriott
Wyndham
Best Western



Thanks for the wisdom!
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Old Oct 26, 15, 8:14 am
  #2  
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For a last minute trip, you'd better book now AND have tickets in your possession if you want to do meet & greet with Princesses. They are the first to book up, and those staying on property can get a fastpass 60 days in advance. You can wait in line, but depending upon the day you go, the wait for the popular princesses could be very long.

Booking a year in advance isn't necessary. I normally do it a few months in advance. You need a year in advance if you want a prime on-site hotel for Christmas week though.

If the meet & greets are that important, as are meals with the princesses, I would stay onsite so you can get access to the time slots 60 days in advance. As well, you could book your meals with the princesses up to 180 days in advance.

I realize you're trying to do this with as little $$$ as possible, but you will gain a big advantage by staying on-site.

If your trip is early Dec AND midweek, you might be able to get what you want, but there is no guarantee, particularly for the popular princesses and the princess meals.
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Old Oct 26, 15, 8:24 am
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Do the Swan and Dolphin hotels get the 60 days advance reservations? If so, they have a great location and as an SPG Plat you could use points and get some nice treatment (for early December you might even get a multi-room suite upgrade or at least an upgrade to a corner suite and you'd get free breakfast.)

Given early December is one of the least crowded times to go, there is a good chance you can get what you want. But as Mary2e alludes, Disney traffic has gown such that even those less crowded days it can still be hard to get some of the most sought after restaurants and ride, but not impossible.
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Old Oct 26, 15, 8:28 am
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I don't beleive the Swaphin gets the 60 days, but will have to check.

I agree that if they do, it would be win-win, but still iffy for the Princesses.

ETA: I looked, and apparently this is a new benefit for the Swalphin. Therefore, yes, what the OP wants to do is easier, but those princesses are still going to be tough to get, but far easier if tickets are in hand AND the OP checks very regularly for open slots.
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Old Oct 26, 15, 10:01 am
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Originally Posted by Mary2e View Post
I don't beleive the Swaphin gets the 60 days, but will have to check.

I agree that if they do, it would be win-win, but still iffy for the Princesses.

ETA: I looked, and apparently this is a new benefit for the Swalphin. Therefore, yes, what the OP wants to do is easier, but those princesses are still going to be tough to get, but far easier if tickets are in hand AND the OP checks very regularly for open slots.

Thanks Mary & Hhoope! Some great info. Have either of you stayed at dolphin or swan? Is one better then the next?
Right now we're pretty flexible so hoping things work out.
Where does one go to look for princess and experiences?
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Old Oct 26, 15, 10:44 am
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I've stayed at both and for the most part they are fairly similar though one only has 2-doubles and the other has 2-queens in their 2 bed rooms. If you are traveling with the family that could make things a little better.

I'd suggest perusing the following threads:

http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/starw...er-thread.html
http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/starw...er-thread.html
http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/starw...er-thread.html
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Old Oct 26, 15, 10:46 am
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I've stayed at the Dolphin a few times for a convention. It is very large and caters to, well, conventions. However, vacationers do stay there as well. Both are near the rear entrance to Epcot Center. You will have to either drive or take a bus to the Magic Kingdom.

You can look on www.disneyworld.com under dining for character meals and make reservations now. Be prepared to be disappointed. If you're not, I'll be surprised. You'll have to check regularly for cancellations. There is a Princess meal at the Norway Pavilion that seems to be available more frequently than the others, so you might want to try that one first.

For character meet & greets you'll need to have tickets in order to access My Disney Experience and the fast pass system. You will also need to have the reservation made, as only onsite guests get 60 in advance access. If you can't get them you'll have to wait in the standby line.
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Old Oct 26, 15, 10:14 pm
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Originally Posted by Mary2e View Post
You can look on www.disneyworld.com under dining for character meals and make reservations now.
This is great advice and will probably help you make the decision for December. Dining is found under the "Things to Do" tab. Select "Make Reservations". Then, select "Character Dining" under the "Filter By" option. You can also choose breakfast, lunch, or dinner in the time drop-down, although that will include things like dinner at 9:30pm. That might not work for you.

A quick search for a party of 4 in early December shows limited options. Mostly Akershus (Epcot), Garden Grill (Epcot), Tusker House (Animal Kingdom), and Garden Grove (Swan). Note: Those are meals with characters, not just princesses. I believe that Akershus is the only "princess" meal in that list.

Originally Posted by d20513 View Post
Not to get too far ahead of myself, but when we do go (this year or next) any thoughts on accommodations? Initial thought was Swan or Hyatt Cyprus, as We certainly try to stay where we have status, and / or pay little to nothing.
Be sure to factor in transportation when choosing a hotel. That is, unless you plan on driving to/from the theme parks each day. That gets expensive quickly, as you end up paying for parking at both the hotel and the theme parks. For example: It's $17/day to park at the Hyatt plus the $20/day at the Disney parks.

Of the options listed, the Swan and Dolphin have the best transportation. You can walk into Epcot and take a boat to Disney's Hollywood Studios. Buses that run about every 20 minutes take you to the Magic Kingdom, Disney's Animal Kingdom, and Disney Springs (formerly Downtown Disney).

There are 7 non-Disney hotels next to Disney Springs. Of those 7, one is a Holiday Inn, one is a Wyndham, one is a Best Western, and three are Hilton brands (Hilton, DoubleTree Suites, Buena Vista Palace). Transportation to the theme parks is every 30 minutes. Disney Springs is walkable or via shuttle bus after 6pm.

The Disney Spring hotels have their own website. Check it for discounted rates: http://disneyspringshotels.com/

The Hyatt Grand Cypress is close but not on Disney property. According to their website, they do offer complimentary shuttles to theme parks. Unfortunately, they don't list times. "We provide complimentary transportation to and from Walt Disney World®, Universal Orlando® and Sea World. Please contact the Concierge directly for scheduled times."
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Old Oct 27, 15, 6:33 am
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More great detail, thanks all!

Availability at Swan and Dolphin was minimal. BUT, I found it at swan for 11/14 - 11/19, on points (fifth night free too!). I figured I'd reserve while continuing to search for the princess experiences. So far, Nada! I have until 11/9 to cancel, so will continue to check for Cinderella and Ariel / little mermaid until then, knowing full well that it probably will Not become available. Worst case, we'll find another Warm destination for November / December and scrap Disney this year, and do it in Advance for 2016!
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