Trip Coach: November 27, 2007
Mary Waring of mousesavers.com answered your questions on Disney vacations in Orlando and Anaheim.
Mary Waring: Hi! This is Mary Waring of MouseSavers.com, and I'm excited to talk with you today about ways to save money on travel to Disney destinations. So let's get started!
Kingston, ON, Canada: We are a family of 6 (2 adults and 4 children). We are just beginning the planning of a 7-night Disney cruise (land and sea). We have no preference of which one as they all look wonderful and this is our first cruise!
We need flight and cruise. Available to depart from Toronto: departing date anytime from Dec 19 - 22nd and returning after Christmas. We will be traveling with 3 other adult family members (a couple and 1 single).
What is the best (most cost-effective) way to book staterooms? The children will be ages 9, 10, 13 and 14 at the time and would be comfortable being 'bunked' with any of the 5 adults.
We also wish to bring along our then-14-year-old son's service dog on our cruise. Do the Disney Cruise boats accommodate Yellow Lab service dogs? What (if anything) is required at reservation to allow for his attendance?
Thank you for your assistance as this is quite confusing to attempt to figure out...
Mary Waring: So if I understand your question correctly, you actually have a total of 5 adults and 4 children who would like to take a 7-night Disney Land and Sea vacation, which consists of 3 or 4 nights at Walt Disney World followed by a 3- or 4-night Disney cruise.
First, be aware that you are planning your trip during the most popular, and therefore expensive, time of the entire year. I would strongly advise you to leave as early as possible (December 19, or even earlier if you can manage it) because December 25-31 is an absolute zoo at Disney World and you'll never get any kind of discount during that time.
Here's a tip for accommodating your large group. Since you're willing to break up the kids and bunk them with various adults, this gives you some flexibility. Disney only offers super-expensive suites for families of 6 or more who want to share a stateroom, but if you house some of the children with another adult, you can book 3 standard staterooms that sleep 3 or 4 people each, which will be much less expensive.
Also, be sure to get pricing on both the Land and Sea package and on the individual trip components. It is frequently cheaper to book the cruise and the Disney World vacation separately.
Disney does accommodate service dogs on its cruise ships. Some paperwork is required and the dog may not be able to leave the ship at certain ports. You'll need to coordinate this with Disney in advance.
Dallas, Tex.: We planed a trip this mid Jan 2008 for WDW. We are going after the Mickey race and before the MLK Holiday weekend, yet we are told that almost ALL hotels are sold out. Our friends that wanted to go with us can only book a room for only 2 WDW hotels (YC, WLCabins). When I asked why so sold out for Jan. during this time, I was not given a reason for any kind of event either. Does this mean that WDW is going to be really full like summer, Easter or Christmas time? We booked thinking January would be the slowest time of the year.
Mary Waring: January is still an off season time at Disney World, since school is back in session and the holidays are over. It's one of my favorite times to visit. Disney World is popular year-round these days and the parks are really never "dead" anymore, but you can expect pretty light crowds in the parks in January and the first two weeks of February, except during the two events you mentioned (the Disney World marathon weekend on January 10-13 and MLK weekend, January 18-21).
Disney aggressively discounts its hotel rooms at that time of year, which may succeed in filling them on some dates. However, even if all of the Disney hotels are fully booked, the off-site hotels will be well below capacity in January. Also, locals usually don't visit the parks much at that time of year. It will not be anything like summer, Easter or Christmas, believe me!
You might have your friends check for room availability on a day by day basis, since if they ask for a range of dates that includes even one "sold out" date, they'll be told the resorts are unavailable. Maybe it's only one date during their stay that is blocking availability.
Parma, Ohio : Mary, we have booked rooms at the Caribbean Beach Resort at Disney World for 9/18/08 through 9/27/08. We are looking to find discount tickets to Disney World—what should we do? Also is it better for us to cancel our rooms and go with a complete package (room, tickets, dinner)?