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Need advice: Orlando late december / early january


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Hi all,

 

I'm from Norway and I've been reading the board for some time, but this is my first post

 

My wife and I, along with two friends, are staying at Hard Rock Hotel in Orlando from the 28th of December untill 2nd of January. We need some advice on what to do, at what times. My main worry is that this is a pretty high-season period, and that the parks are really crowded at all times.

 

It would be fun to be in the Epcot park at new years eve, but I'm afraid that the park is completely packed. Am I right? How are the Universal parks on new years eve? Fun and "not so packed as the Disney-parks"?

 

We're offcourse planning to do the "drinks around the world" in Epcot

 

So - how should our "park itinerary" be for the trip? And have we chosen a good hotel? Keep in mind that we're arriving late on the 28th and leaving early on the 2nd, so we only have 4 full park-days.

 

 

Edit: Oh, and please excuse me if I'm posting in a wrong section or something. I'm at the correct place, right?

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I can't speak for Universal, but I can for Disney. You've chosen to visit the parks during THE absolute busiest week during any calendar year. If it's your first time going, it will be a mad house. But, Disney does a great job controlling the crowds. Just don't let the over crowding be your only impression of the parks. You can still have a great time as this is when my family and I usually go. (I happen to go all the time since I live pretty close!)

 

Epcot is usually your best bet for NYE because of the park's shear size. The walkways are wide, and the park can just eat people. So, if you want to be in a park on NYE, Epcot would probably be your best bet. We did the Magic Kingdom for NYE this past year and while it was fun, I probably won't do it again. From 10:00pm until 1:00am or so, the park is like a sardine can. You literally can barely move around the park at all. I've read numerous reports from Epcot that says it's busy, but not a sardine can. Plus, Epcot has some amazing fireworks at midnight.

 

Do lots of planning, make ALL of your dining reservations as soon as possible, and just expect mobs of people. If you're not freaked out by crowds or lines, you'll be fine. The atmosphere is very electric and festive, so you should have a great time!

 

EDIT: Oh yeah. I forgot to mention this and it's important. Since you are staying off property and not at a Disney resort, you can be denied access to any of the Disney parks if they reach capacity. So, the single best piece of advice I can give you is to pick a park for NYE, go there first thing in the morning and don't leave (or park hop). Disney resort guests and passholders get priority for admission when the park closes for capacity reasons. So, if the park is full and you try to enter the park (or park hop to another one), you will be turned away in favor of a Disney resort guest of passholder. So, in order to prevent this, get to your park of choice early in the day and just stay there until after midnight. This only happens if the park reaches capacity. Obviously Magic Kingdom reaches capacity far sooner than monster parks like Epcot. Just something to keep in mind.

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Since you are staying on-site at Universal at one of their hotels, you won't have to worry about lines because you automatically get front of the line access at both parks with your room key, so lines for you at Universal won't be a problem. Disney, now that is another story. I've never been down to Disney at Christmas but alot of families go there on winter break with their kids so it might be crazy, but if you just take your time and don't overwhelm yourself, I'm sure you will have a good time. Just don't let the crowds get to you that's all. i hope this helps you and enjoy your trip.

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Well, If you're staying on property at Universal, you may want to make Universal your New Years station. I hear it gets packed though. I've never personally been, but from what I hear it's a lot of fun. I guess City Walk is the busiest one to be at, and IOA gets crowded too.

 

Just like halltd said, be sure you have your dining reservations ASAP. They may already be book at most places, so keep chugging until you find one. Remember the hotel restaurants too.

 

Have fun!!

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If you get to the parks early and use fastpass it isn't horrible but can get crazy

 

In 2006, I went to the Magic Kingdom the 26th and 28th, both days the park was filled to capacity. On the 28th, MGM and Animal Kingdom also filled to capacity.

 

On the 27th I went to Epcot, Test Track standby was 180 minutes, Soarin was over 200 minutes. I thankfully rode both on the 23rd with 20 and 40 minute waits.

 

On the 29th I went to Animal Kingdom, Everest was 85 minutes about an hour after opening, by mid day it was up to 2 hours (I rode it on the 24th with a 20 minute wait standby), the standby line for the safari had a completely full queue and the line was out into the midway, the sign said 150 minutes.

 

It's crazy how the crowds can change that much in a few days, the 23rd - 25th were low to moderate crowds. On the 25th, I had a walk on for Tower of Terror in the middle of the day!

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Thanks a lot to those who have answered!

 

Am I right if I conclude that the Universal-parks would be the best parks to stay in at NYE? How are the Universal fireworks compared to the firework at Universal?

 

It might be a lot more convenient for us to be in the Universal parks for NYE, since we're living at Hard Rock Hotel - it would make the practical arrangements a lot easier.

 

If I've understood correctly, Epcot runs firework-shows every night, so we might be able to catch that on one of the earlier days of our trip.

 

So how about this:

29th December - Epcot (w/Drinks Around the World)

30th December - MGM Studios (is this park worth a visit?)

31st December - Universal parks

1st January - Universal parks

 

Some of you mention restaurant bookings. Is it really THAT crowded? Where do we book restaurants for the Universal area on the 31st December?

 

Once again: Thanks! You people rock!

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Am I right if I conclude that the Universal-parks would be the best parks to stay in at NYE? How are the Universal fireworks compared to the firework at Universal?

 

Some of you mention restaurant bookings. Is it really THAT crowded? Where do we book restaurants for the Universal area on the 31st December?

 

Once again: Thanks! You people rock!

 

Disney fireworks are better hands down. But Universal is a much more Adult Friendly place to be for NYE.

 

Yeah, I'd go ahead and try and schedule the days before too. If you can. Some places may not take reservations, and some places may already be booked. Book in the City Walk area for NYE, there are a lot of restaurant options, and there will be a lot of activity going on there too! Maybe consider a party pass.

 

IMO Hollywood Studios and Epcot are the more adult friendly parks. I would say if you change anything, it would be to switch Magic Kingdom with Hollywood Studios. Magic Kingdom will no doubt be verrrrry crowded, and near impossible to finish, but has more of your staple Disney rides. Hollywood Studios is a smaller park but still very enjoyable. Either way you'll be just fine.

 

I actually just posted a Disney PTR It's Disney in a day! I'm just doing a little shameless self promotion

 

Anyway, Good luck!

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Disney will definitely have the best fireworks, but it will be a nightmare in the Magic Kingdom. Knowing that, you will definitely make sure you have a game plan for that day that includes spending most of the day there. I would even try to book the cheapest room you can for either New Years day or the day before, just so you have a resort key that should work most of the day. Also, you could go ahead and make reservations at restaurants or shows during that time. Since I believe the euro is still kicking the dollar's butt, you probably could get a room for 89-100 USD at a value resort and still get all the benefits.

 

As far as Universal is concerned, if you are staying at Hard Rock you pretty much have it made. You can knock out each park in less than a half day and still relax and eat somewhere. Universal is definitely more adult friendly so if you wanna drink for new years, Universal is your place. I believe the only two places to drink at Disney is Epcot and Disney studios. You'll be hard pressed for a beer any place else.

 

You'll probably spend most of your time navigating through Disney and each of their parks. Animal Kingdom gets the least crowds so you could always end your days there. Magic Kingdom... you'd better get there early and learn how to master using those fast passes! You could always try to get there early and gather as many fast passes as possible, then use those for later. So when you're killing time waiting for the fireworks, you have some fast passes to spread out.

 

My goal, however, is to head to L.A. for New Years. There's a good party going on that isn't over until 6am, then another starts until 12pm.. I'll see if I can continue the tradition (which I broke last year staying in Miami at a boring party, but finding... err... other things to do. But it did lead me to having a place to stay for a party in Madrid!) where I drag my butt into the hotel at 12pm the next day! Walk of Shame! Walk of Shame! Then I'll try to hit a few parks, sight see and shop while I'm there!

 

Terry "Gotta eat at Roscoe's Chicken and Waffles too!" Weaver

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