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    Default Disney World and Universal Studios

    Making the treck down to Orlando in a couple of weeks. Haven't been to Disney in 25 years, and have never been to Universal Studios. Looked around on the web and to be quite honest, I'm overwhelmed with how this area has grown. Looking for any good tips, suggestions, etc on what to avoid, what to do, etc. Staying at the Hard Rock Hotel the first Four nights, and Poynesian Village the last Three. Any info would be appreciated.

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    Have a plan. Every vacationer is different, but if your goal is to see as much as you can, a plan is key. You didn't mention how many or how old are going so this is generic...

    Unless they've restructured their admission since I was there, Universal is divided into 2 parks with separate admissions. Be sure that you ask about what attractions are in each park if you only plan to visit just one side or the other. (One has most of the "adventure" rides while the other has most of the "studio" sets and "live action" attractions.)

    You could spend a whole week at Disney and never go to the same place twice. Depending on what you want to do, I'd typically advise budgetting 1 day for the Magic Kingdom and 2 for Epcot. (You can always travel from one park to the other by monorail et al half way through a day if you wish.) In both cases, get there early in the morning and head for the rides/attractions towards the back of the park first catching the ones closer to the gate later in the day when the rush has subsided. If a particular attraction has an immense line, go somewhere else and try again later. Crowds ebb and flow and the ride that had a 3 hour line midmorning is likely to be all but empty later in the day.

    Also for your consideration:

    Seaworld is quite close to Universal if you're into that kind of thing. You could spend a day there but probably not the whole day unless you make a point of watching every single animal and waterskiing act.

    Visit a gator farm of some kind or another. There are a variety of them along the strip in Kissimmee. (I particularly like the one with the 60' concrete gator in the parking lot.) It's a southern tacky tourism imperative.

    The NASA space center is only about an hour's drive east. A must see for any young rocket scientist in the family.

    Medieval Times is a great tacky place to have a simple dinner and watch a decent show featuring jousting and some very good riders.

    If you're a roller coaster fan and will be renting a car, I highly recommend Busch Gardens, "The dark Continent", in nearby Tampa (about an hour's drive). It's great park with an African Safari theme, world class wild animals, and some superb coasters. And free beer samples.

    Have fun!
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    Thanks Deputy. It's just me and the wife, meeting my Brother and his kids, but luckilly not tied to them, so we can do our own thing. Great idea about starting at the back of the park early, Magic Kingdom has a day that they open an hour early and stay open three hours late for guests of their hotels, so that will work out well.
    Tentatively planning on Sea World, a day per Universal Park, a day for Discovery Cove, A day for Magic Kingdom, and a couple free days.
    How is the Dowtown Disney, and City walk?

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    Quote Originally Posted by callaway75 View Post
    How is the Dowtown Disney, and City walk?
    My wife and I did one of them one evening but I don't recall which one it was... Whichever one it was it was mostly just more shopping in a sort of open air Disney-fied shopping mall. It did have a Rainforest Cafe for novelty value but, being from CT you can visit an RC any time at West Farms...

    On a side note, we didn't visit Disney's safari park -- I forget what they call it -- but every recommendation I heard about it was to get there as early in the morning as possible if you do go.
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    Search on amazon .com for a book entitled "The Unofficial guide to Walt Disney World and Universal Studios". I can't remember who wrote it.

    We used the 1994 edition 13 years ago when we down to the Orlando area over Christmas vacation... even though both places were mobbed, using the guide, we had relatively few problems with waiting in line for rides, restaurants, etc.
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    I did Citywalk (I think, thats the one in Universal, right) last summer. Went to Jimmy Buffetts Margaritaville, and had a great time. There are some pretty good restaurants and bars, and you can get mixed drinks on the sidewalks once you are inside.
    Proud East Coast Traditionalist.

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    I don't know if Universal still does it, but when my family went there a couple of years ago if you stayed at one of their hotels(such as the Hard Rock which we stayed at too, it's a very nice Hotel and we had no complaints) if you show your room key at the lines to the rides at the theme parks it can be used as a Fast Pass. It helped A LOT at getting on more rides and easily gave us another 3-4 hours saved from standing in line if not more especially at the Islands of Adventure whose big rides seemed to always have hour+ waits.

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    Quote Originally Posted by brk2733 View Post
    I don't know if Universal still does it, but when my family went there a couple of years ago if you stayed at one of their hotels(such as the Hard Rock which we stayed at too, it's a very nice Hotel and we had no complaints) if you show your room key at the lines to the rides at the theme parks it can be used as a Fast Pass. It helped A LOT at getting on more rides and easily gave us another 3-4 hours saved from standing in line if not more especially at the Islands of Adventure whose big rides seemed to always have hour+ waits.
    Yeah, I just checked on that, and they still do it. That's pretty awesome, I had never heard of that. Disney also does it, but only for a couple of rides, but I'll take what I can get.

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    Quote Originally Posted by DeputyMarshal View Post
    My wife and I did one of them one evening but I don't recall which one it was... Whichever one it was it was mostly just more shopping in a sort of open air Disney-fied shopping mall. It did have a Rainforest Cafe for novelty value but, being from CT you can visit an RC any time at West Farms...

    On a side note, we didn't visit Disney's safari park -- I forget what they call it -- but every recommendation I heard about it was to get there as early in the morning as possible if you do go.
    I was looking online, and it looks as though Downtown Disney is the shopping place. I have been told by others also that the safari park at Disney is pretty good, I do plan on going early if anything, just to try and avoid the super hot part of the day.

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    Quote Originally Posted by emily742 View Post
    I forgot about the fast past. Normally we'd grab one, stand in line. Ride the ride and of course we'd want to ride it again. By the time we got through the line it was time for our fast past so we'd go to the front of the line and ride it a second time without a wait.
    Is that at Magic Kingdom? I heard it was sort of like making an appointment, or reservation. And, only on certain rides?

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    Quote Originally Posted by nyckftbl View Post
    I did Citywalk (I think, thats the one in Universal, right) last summer. Went to Jimmy Buffetts Margaritaville, and had a great time. There are some pretty good restaurants and bars, and you can get mixed drinks on the sidewalks once you are inside.
    Yeah, that's the one, I was just looking at it. That place looks pretty cool. I went to Maragaritaville down in Key West and it was great. It says online you can get Hurricanes, haven't had one of those since New Orleans, can't wait!!


    Gonz, forget the book, isn't that what the Brothers are for? Only kidding, the wife picked one up the other day, although I've yet to see it...

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    Quote Originally Posted by emily742 View Post
    When I went you would go to the fast pass box at the ride, scan your ticket and they'd assign you a window of time to come back, I think a little slip of paper would print out with the time and you'd give it to the ride attendant.

    So we'd scan our ticket, then we'd stand in line and once the ride was over it was usually time for the fast pass to be redeemed.
    Are those only available to people staying at one of Disneys resorts?

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    Sounds good emily, thanks for the info.

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    My family are Disney fan(atics)!

    If you haven't already purchased your park passes yet, get the Park-Hopper option. It allows unlimited travel each day from park to park. If you already have your passes, the option can still be added.

    Fast passes are available for most of the larger/most popular rides. Keep in mind that only one fast pass per park ticket can be issued at one time. You can't run through the park and get all of the rides fast passes at once.

    If you want the ultimate in fast passes, there is a little trick you may want to check out. The Disney Vacation Club is excellent! We have been members for nearly 2 years.
    Whether you and your wife are interested in buying into it or not, if you spend 2-3 hours taking the DVC tour and talk with a representative, you will receive VIP Fast-Passes for your entire party. With these, there is absolutely NO wait time for any ride in any Disney park!!!!! Simply insert the VIP Pass into the kiosk and get on the ride.
    The time spent listening to the sales rep is well worth the time saved later in the parks.

    Whenever you stay at any Disney property, all you will ever need to carry with you to the parks is your room key-card and your park pass. The room card is also your charge card and it is accepted everywhere inside the parks(except for street vendors selling balloons and such). Also, when staying on-property, any items you purchase can be sent to your hotel room, free of charge. No need to carry them around with you all day long.

    Disney prides itself on customer service. If there is anything you want or need, let someone know. They will bend over backward to accommodate you.

    There are a million things to see and do in the parks. We go for several days about 3-4 times every year. We still have not seen/done it all. You shouldn't expect to be able to see it all in a week.

    For some great dining in the parks, I recommend the Coral Reef restaurant in EPCOT and the Sci-Fi Dine-in Theater at MGM Studios Call the reservations # now for dining reservations! They fill up fast, and walk-ups are sometimes turned away if they are already booked.

    Mousesavers.com is also a great place to get some tips and insights on Disney.

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    Posted by Kevin, aka fireman4949
    For some great dining in the parks, I recommend the Coral Reef restaurant in EPCOT and the Sci-Fi Dine-in Theater at MGM Studios Call the reservations # now for dining reservations! They fill up fast, and walk-ups are sometimes turned away if they are already booked.
    Eating seafood at the Coral Reef while watching the fish swim by makes you wonder... if the waiter tells you the seafood really fresh, is it really, really fresh?
    ‎"The education of a firefighter and the continued education of a firefighter is what makes "real" firefighters. Continuous skill development is the core of progressive firefighting. We learn by doing and doing it again and again, both on the training ground and the fireground."
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    Quote Originally Posted by CaptainGonzo View Post
    Posted by Kevin, aka fireman4949


    Eating seafood at the Coral Reef while watching the fish swim by makes you wonder... if the waiter tells you the seafood really fresh, is it really, really fresh?

    Theirs is!

    Last July, I took part in Dive Quest, where certified scuba divers can dive "The Living Seas". It was an absolute blast!
    One part of the dive I really enjoyed was messing with the Coral Reef patrons from the "fish's side of the glass" as they ate their dinner.
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    Something I highly reccomend-

    Anyone who is a member of Triple A, and you plan your trip through them, get the meal plan!!!!
    "Loyalty Above all Else. Except Honor."

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    Quote Originally Posted by fireman4949 View Post
    Theirs is!

    Last July, I took part in Dive Quest, where certified scuba divers can dive "The Living Seas". It was an absolute blast!
    One part of the dive I really enjoyed was messing with the Coral Reef patrons from the "fish's side of the glass" as they ate their dinner.
    The restaurant's motto could be....

    "Our seafood is fresh
    you can take that to the bank
    10 minutes ago
    it was swimming in our tank"!
    ‎"The education of a firefighter and the continued education of a firefighter is what makes "real" firefighters. Continuous skill development is the core of progressive firefighting. We learn by doing and doing it again and again, both on the training ground and the fireground."
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    Quote Originally Posted by CaptainGonzo View Post
    The restaurant's motto could be....

    "Our seafood is fresh
    you can take that to the bank
    10 minutes ago
    it was swimming in our tank"!
    Shark, Grouper, Snapper and Snook.

    Just through the glass there you see, take a look.

    Thousands of fish swimming by is your view.

    If they look kinda worried, it's 'cause they're on the menu.
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    For more information than you could possibly ever wish to know about planning your Disney vacation, check out this site...


    http://www.allearsnet.com/

    It's an "unofficial" third-party site so they shoot pretty straight...what to see if you only have limited time, how to make the most of your park time, how to use the Fast Pass system, where to eat, etc. Very informative and very detailed, and the site is written and maintained by some folks who spend a LOT of time at Disney World. I think there's also a link on the site with some info and tips for Universal Studios as well. Enjoy your trip!

    Definitely don't go in there without some kind of game plan (especially this time of year, when the crowds will be big). The place is HUGE and can be kind of overwhelming if you just go in planning to wing it. Do a little reading on the AllEarsNet website and you'll make the most of the limited time you will have (3 days will not nearly cover all of Walt Disney World...) DEFINITELY learn how the Fast Pass system works and USE IT! It's free to all guests and it will save you hours of standing in line.
    Last edited by dmleblanc; 06-14-2007 at 10:39 PM.
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    Thanks alot guys. While I've been working insane amounts of OT to pay for this, the boss(wife), has been checking out the info from all of you and planning accordingly. The tips are much appreciated!!

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    Ill second the Busch Gardens suggestion. Now that my kids are older (16&17) we actually like Busch Gardens better then the Orlando parks. If you do have the time, I highly recommend it. Its only about 45 minutes from Disney, depending on traffic.

    While your at the Poynesian, make sure you watch the fireworks from the beach at the hotel. Used to be a great view from there.
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    Talking disney,,

    is a good place to go on vacation... never been to universal i don't believe.

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    Quote Originally Posted by callaway75 View Post
    Thanks alot guys. While I've been working insane amounts of OT to pay for this, the boss(wife), has been checking out the info from all of you and planning accordingly. The tips are much appreciated!!
    callaway, you can now stay in the castle in Magic Kingdom. If you've got the money. They've added a suite upstairs. I was there 2 years ago but it wasn't done yet. Not that I could have afforded it!

    This might sound kind of corny but if you've never seen a "real" 3-D movie then you might want to catch Mickey's PhilharMagic in Magic Kingdom. I've never seen 3-D like that before. I think I enjoyed it more than my kids did.
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    Take the time to visit your brothers...and sisters, the firefighters who provide fire and EMS services to Walt Disney World. They are proud to serve the Magic Kingdom, EPCOT, Animal Kindom, Disney MGM and all the WDW properties. They LOVE visitors! Give them a call. If anyone can give you some good tips....I'm sure they could.

    Reedy Creek Emergency Services
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