What's not worth the money at WDW?

I actually agree with OP’s list, but careful ordering can make all the difference when dining. We only get water (unless ordering a kid’s meal and it is included) at meals and frequently share meals. Lately we just order appetizers instead of meals which has been more interesting and keeps us on our somewhat restrictive diet.

We have stayed on and off site, and prefer the room we get offsite. If I am traveling without DH (the “chauffer”) or for a short trip I like on-site.

But we certainly have our share of “not worth the money” things we still buy at WDW.

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I get your point, but for people who haven’t been to WDW before, or that have only gone once, it’s interesting to hear what is and what isn’t worth buying. For example, I heard the tip about not upgrading to park hopper passes on this site, and I appreciated saving the money.

My trip to WDW cost over $7,000 CDN last year (11 days total for a family of 4 people. This was for flights, hotel, WDW passes for 6 days, food and other excursions etc). When I am spending so much on a vacation, I appreciate getting tips on what might not be worth the cost! I could have easily spent double the cost if I decided to get park hopper passes, stay on-site at WDW and only eat at WDW restaurants. I like to splurge on things I enjoy, but I also like to save where I can on things that aren’t worth the cost. So I like to hear other people’s opinions, do my own research and then make my own decision.

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I pretty much agree with you on all counts.
UK tickets include hopping as standard and we have done it in the past after our afternoon break.

This year’s trip to Orlando is 23 days, with two teenagers there is no way whatsoever we can stay in a standard hotel room, let alone one that’s no better than a glorified motel room (budget and moderate, sorry Disney). I need two bathrooms and laundry facilities. I’ve stayed dvc in a beautiful two bed two bath at wilderness lodge with a friend but there’s no way I could afford that.

Counter service - we’ll be having lunch at CS on park days, I’m hoping to pick the best ones of the bunch.

Table service - agreed. Won’t be doing it this time, the prices have increased crazily since our last visit. Dinners will be off-site. I live in London, I’m used to high restaurant prices, but wow 40usd pp per TS meal isn’t sustainable for a long trip.

Preferred parking - never.

When friends who have never been to WDW ask me, I always tell them that if they can afford to stay on-site, I highly recommend it. To me, the “bubble” is a huge benefit. I would much rather do a shorter visit on-site (our WDW visits are usually 4-5 nights), then a longer visit off-site.

I also always buy hoppers and eat dinners at TS restaurants on-site (though usually at the resorts where the food quality is much better than the parks).

And at the end of the day, my 4-5 nights on-site with hoppers and on-site TS dinners probably costs about the same or less than someone who stays 11 days off-site with no hoppers and TS off-site.

Objectively, neither way is better than the other. It is highly dependent on subjective valuations.

I’m not criticizing your opinion … just presenting the other view for others who may be reading the thread.

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You should check out the 2 bedroom villas at the Sheraton Vistana Resort Villas (at 8800 Vistana Centre Drive in Lake Buena Vista). We stayed there last year and loved it. I just rebooked for a trip in the summer. It sounds like it has the features you are looking for.

It sounds like a good option if you want to be in the Disney bubble the entire time. For my husband and I, it’s Disney overload by the end of the day, so we need some downtime away from WDW, so a nice resort and day at the beach is our preferred option. I agree it’s highly subjective. I guess it comes down to whether you want your entire trip to be about WDW, or if it’s just a portion of it. For me it’s the later.

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This is us. Because we’re coming from overseas we stay a long time. It’s about Disney, a lot. It’s also about beaches, other attractions, swimming, seeing a movie, experiencing local areas and restaurants etc.

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I agree and disagree. I’ve never stayed onsite due to cost and I can get a 2 bedroom timeshare gifted to our family of 4 so lodging is free. You are so right that it’s so nice to have multiple bathrooms, and a full kitchen. We’ve also never eaten at a TS restaurant at Disney. Only lunches at Quick Service and most of us only drink free water. :slight_smile: We have always had a car so always drove to parks and paid for regular parking. We’ve never had park hoppers due to cost. We’ve generally always stayed for 7 nights and had rest days and or other days to other theme parks.
This Sept I am taking my DD and we are staying onsite with an MVT agency exclusive and PH (purchased through MVT) and we may try a TS or two that are within reason (she doesn’t eat much and is very picky). We will be flying since it’s a quick trip. Also the reason we are getting PH. I am looking forward to every minute of it. For one I don’t have to drive myself or DD anywhere! I will be relinquishing control but I think it will be good for me to slow down a bit. I am hoping the TS ressies will also help.
To each their own on this topic, everyone has their own opinion of what they value and will pay for. Now will I be able to do this type of trip for my family of 4? Probably not for a while if ever, but if I like my girls only trip enough I may just well consider it and save my money.

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maybe you could change the title of the post to: “What’s not worth the money at WDW for people who have traveled a lot in Europe and North America and have eaten in a lot of good restaurants” :laughing:

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I prefer park hopping, especially with little kids. Especially when staying at an Epcot area resort.
Am EMH
Pool.
Hop to Epcot or DHS.
Bonus if doing am EMH or Rope Dropping EP or DHS.
Travel time is about 15 minutes to and from your room.
Most ppl can’t get to their car or bus stop in 15 minutes.

Costco pkg price makes Swan / Dolphin + Hoppers a no brainer for us.

Not sure I’d stay onsite or hop otherwise, but a great deal on an Ep area resort, is a no brainer, imo. Walking to 2 parks is a pretty great time saver. Time is at a premium on a WDW vacation. Nothing quite like leaving your room at 7:45am, and being through the IG tapstyles at 7:55am for AM emh. Or being IN YOUR ROOM with a scoop from Ample Hills 15 minutes after Illuminations.
Or, being in the pool 20 minutes after Fantasmic.

Also, one full day at a park? I’d rather do 1.5 days to see everything. Maybe 2.5. Doesn’t have to be all in one day, same day. And if a park gets crazy crowded for some reason, and you see that wait times at a different park are pretty low…might be worth it to have that liberty. I’ve never hopped for that reason, but I do plan my hopping. Usually an am emh followed by a chill afternoon at a different park to do easy attractions and working the fastpass system.

I don’t think “skipping park hopping” makes sense for everyone. I actually think it makes things MUCH easier if you plan it out right, and stay at a place where travel time is very low. Plus, I tend to like to go to parks more than one day, and fit in attractions like a jigsaw puzzle. We don’t like to wait in lines, this helps our cause. Headliners early during EMH, and chill and work the fastpass system later - usually at a different park.

The food, however, nail on the head. You really have to research to find a place that has decent enough quality to pay the premium (imo, Flame Tree’s Rib Platter is a very decent meal for the price, so that’s always a “go” for us.) Again, we’re usually at Swan / Dolphin where the restaurants have a pretty good rep for not being Disney priced, and surpassing Disney quality.

Walt knows what he’s doing with all of these prices. It’s gonna be expensive no matter what. Convenience comes into play a lot.

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I do the same staying at Swan/Dolphin but stay on points rather than Costco deal. With little kids in strollers, it is really nice to be able to go to/from 2 parks without ever having to fold the stroller! And getting back for a mid-day nap is so easy.

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totally agree. I understand folks not wanting to pay extra…but if I’m going to wdw, I’m there for full experience and there are ways to cut costs and still stay onsite

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yup

It is always interesting to see what works best for different people. Because my trips are in short duration, I would have a hard time envisioning not saying on resort or not park hopping. In my opinion the food is nothing special, but it is there and we are hungry. Best wishes on your next trip.

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Curious what QS locations you ate at. There are certainly ones that fit the bill, but (avid traveler and foodie myself) there are also ones where I’ve had really quite yummy food - comparing apples to apples (ex QS restaurant to a cafe or takeout joint elsewhere, not QS restaurant compared to a sit down restaurant).

My DH and I typically book TS, and often signature at that, but I’m really looking forward to seeking out and eating at some of the QS spots I’ve overlooked in the past.

I think I would agree with most of these statements if you were paying full price and not taking advantage of all the hacks out there (see Backside of Magic).

There are just too many advantages to staying on site if your plan is to immerse yourself in Disney. A moderate can easily be in that $200 price range booking thru MVT or Pixie Dust and Pirate Hooks. Plus, staying on site can save you the cost of a rental car, gas, parking, and ubering.

The food is wildly over priced. But there are definitely ways to squeeze lots of value out of a dining plan, some Kosher and some not so Kosher. Either way, dining in the World can be half the fun if you choose the right restaurants.

For me it’s always going to be worth it to stay in the bubble. It just feels different to me. When I stayed offsite I felt like a visitor. This had nothing to do with how I was treated, I just felt like a day guest (which I was!). When I’m onsite I wake up and I’m already there. It’s one continuous experience not interrupted by excursions into the real world.

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Personally, when I spend thousands of dollars on my once a year vacation, I do what I want to make me and my family comfortable. It’s all worth the cost to us. I absolutely love staying on Disney property, nothing like it. Park hopping is a must as we stay within walking distance of the MK, so no matter what park we do during the day, we always go to MK at night. As others have said, everyone will have their own take on the OP’s opinions.

Our experiences at full service and quick service restaurants have been fine, the only one I would agree on is #5.
Not worth it unless you really need an accommodation.

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So much depends on budget, season of life, goals for the trip. In our current season, park hoppers have never made sense. Staying on-site is so worth it to us for similar reasons others have said. We feel like we are on vacation the entire time we are there and really that for the full length of our trip we are at Disney. I love that we park our car when we arrive and don’t get back in it again until our vacation is over. Disney transportation has been easy and part of the fun (monorail and boats in particular) for us. We have never waited more than a few minutes for a bus and take other options whenever we can. I love being in the bubble! We stay at some of the nicer resorts because we don’t do parks every day and a big part of our vacation is enjoying the resort while still being at Disney. We do the DDP. My DH wants for that one week every few years he wants all of us to not have to think “what do I want?” vs. “what should I get?” vs. “what would be a budget friendly choice?” and instead just feel free to order whatever we want. We have several QS and TS restaurants that we have loved and others we have not. That works because we go back to the ones we love and try new ones in place of the others next time. We have never parked at a park but I can’t imagine paying to park closer makes sense.
Having said that, we have friends who love their Disney trips and do the complete opposite of us and have a blast. Also, we make other money saving choices that enable us to do Disney this way and those might not be worth it to another family. I do think it is helpful to share what you didn’t find worth it and why for those planning. As I plan I really appreciate those conversations.
There are a few things that seem really popular with a lot of people that I just can’t see being worth the money to us. The dessert parties and the 2 credit TS meals come to mind. We have never had a problem getting decent views of the fireworks without waiting very long. We don’t mind the crowd and we are so full from being on the DDP that I can’t imagine wanting more food especially desserts. Though the 2 credit meals sound good, there are so many 1 credit meals to try that it has never felt worth it to us to use up the credits that could have gotten us two meals on one. Also, the holiday parties and events where you pay for extra hours in the park have never appealed to me in our current season. Our kids wake up super early anyway so RD is no trouble and by the time the fireworks are over our kids are spent. Using strategies I learned on this forum, the benefits of staying on-site, and a good TP, we have never had trouble fitting our must do attractions/shows and more into park hours even with mid-day breaks.

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Thanks everyone for your feedback. I think we might try staying on-site for part of a future vacation, to experience “the bubble” for a few days and get those 60 day fast passes!

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