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Old 11-04-2012, 09:27 AM   #11
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We stayed at the Dolphin. It is on Disney property, close to Epcot and Disney Studios, and enjoys the extended hours and early entry that other Disney resorts do. It is a very good place to stay, but it is NOT a Disney-owned property and therefore you CANNOT get the meal plan if you are staying at the Swan or Dolphin.

I would agree with other posters here that the meal plan is a very good deal, if you use it correctly. Also, be sure to make reservations for where you want to eat LONG BEFORE you travel down to Florida. Otherwise you will find that they are filled up and you may only get to eat at odd hours, if at all. We intentionally wanted to eat at some higher end restaurants, so we knew we would pay a lot...especially since we were staying at the Dolphin and couldn't get the meal plan package. We enjoyed most of them, but unless you really appreciate French food, I would stay away from the French restaurant at Epcot. We had never eaten French food before so we wanted to try it. We paid well over $200 for 3 people to eat (and I use that term loosely, since none of us finished our meals). I am a person who will generally eat anything, but I just couldn't handle this Frech food. The meals were generally terrible (again, I had no experience with French cooking) and portions were sized for a 3 year old. The dessert was very good however. If you want to try a bit of France, then I suggest just ordering the dessert. Again, this is just me. I learned (after spending well over $200) that none of my family likes French food. We did enjoy all the other countries that we at at. The Norway restaurant was especially excellent for food, and the service was pleasant and prompt.

In a previous trip, we stayed at the Animal Kingdom lodge. This was a higher end resort and therefore pricier, but well worth the money, in my opinion. A great African motif, some African food on the menu, and you can't put a value on waking up, going out on your balcony and seeing giraffes, wildebeest, etc. right outside your hotel room balcony! Our kids loved it!

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Old 11-05-2012, 07:33 PM   #12
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We have stayed a couple of times at Ft. Wilderness and have really enjoyed it. If you stay at an outside CG, you will pay the difference in parking fees and it won't be nearly as convenient.


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Old 11-05-2012, 08:34 PM   #13
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If the question is wheter to stay on property or off then I would say that the CG is probaly going to give you the most bang for your buck on property. The hotel rooms can be tight and you will need to buy all your meals which can add up. If you have not been in a while you are going to burn out at some point due to heat, lines and excitement. If you don't have a room with your own kitchen it's going to mean less options for a down day. If you go up to a larger room with a kitchen then the CG is much cheaper.

Parking is $14.00 a day for drive ins and you do not get magic hours which are a benefit when it's crowded.

Staying on property gives you the magic hours and transportion to all the areas which can be good and bad. Some condos have free transportion to the parks which can be beneficial. Another option is to go onto Redweek.com and see if there is a rental property to be had for the week. You will find several hundred to choose from and it will save you tons. Just do some research on the property before you rent. There are Disney properties within the network that owners rent for the week and you get the same amenities plus a free shuttle from the airport if you fly in.
Depending on what your taste and size is they should range from $400.00 to $3000.00 for a week.

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Old 11-06-2012, 09:23 PM   #14
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We have stayed at Disney World many times. And each time, we go to Fort Wilderness. We rent one of ther Wilderness Homes. Before we check in, we stop at a local grocery store outside the park and buy what we think we will need for breakfast, lunch and snacks. We also will cook a couple of meals for supper. Plus since they have every day maid service, they clean up the mess! This has helped a lot on the food bill!

BTW, One of the best dining experiences we had at Epcot was at the Japanese Pavillion steak house...... Fantastic!

We are making plans to go again in March when the kids are on their spring break.
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Old 11-06-2012, 09:40 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by Quantum View Post
We are going to Art of Animation resort next month (Dec. 1-8). I will report back how that is.
Can't wait to hear about your experience @ Art of Animation!

The meal plan is definitely worth it. We also had our daughter (she was 2 at the time) with us. She was not eligible for the meal plan because she was free but if you use the plan right and get as much as your allowed with it, we had more food than we needed and paid minimal on food for her.


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