Successfully Off Site: Outnumbered Parents at WDW

kmc8826

Well-known member
We are home and I am so grateful that I found this site and forums! It was my seventh trip and my fourth trip with kids, and the planning went so well I finally feel like I have it down and a way of doing it in the future. (Because yes, I am already scheming of when I can get my sweet husband to go again). Every trip you learn something, and I definitely did learn some stuff this time.

Our cast was myself obsessive Disney planner. Growing up in the West I went to Disneyland quite a bit, but my first trip to WDW was in 2000. After we were first married, I dragged my husband there the first time in 2005. He likes it okay, but basically tolerates my obsession because he knows how happy it makes me and now the girls. We have three girls who are all two years apart. Ellie just turned 8 in August, Delaney turned 6, and Lilah is 3 and will be 4 in November. Not that they remember the trips, but this was Ellie's 5th trip, Delaney's 3rd, and Lilah's 2nd.

This trip was our second time staying off site. When we went in 2005 through 2011 we stayed at the Values and Moderates usually with free dining. When we went last time, October 2013, the reality of the five of us squeezing into what we could afford meant I tried off site. We were at the Embassy Suites outside of Downtown Disney. Which was basically a nightmare. So, at any rate, this trip I was really hesitant to try off site but still facing the realities of our budget and having 3 kids.

Recommendations on the forums led me to staying at Windsor Hills. We loved staying there! Originally we considered doing a town home, but ended up renting an entire home. It was a 4 bedroom 4 bath with a private pool. The girls kept asking if it was a mansion. (It was about like our house at home but the novelty for little girls of having their own bedroom/bathroom was apparently their dream). The area of WH was so nice. It was the exact opposite of what we saw of Orlando when staying outside Downtown Disney. The surrounding area of WH was so quiet. And the best news was how close it was. I had read that it was close, but the reality of how easy it was and close to in and out of the parks actually shocked me every day! From time in car in driveway to parked at MK the longest commute was 11 minutes. And so nice to not waiting for a bus, have the bus ride, and then drag the kids and stroller up to a room. We just would pull up and go inside. It made afternoon swim breaks entirely easy and completely doable. Oh and from the backyard you could see and hear the MK fireworks.


Our first day, Friday, September 12, we got in and went to Super Target, had dinner at our home and then prepared to hit Epcot in the morning for our first rope drop.

Coming up Epcot...

Will the pink cowboy boots be necessary for Lilah to make 40 inches?
The underwheliming (and expensive) breakfast at Askerhus.
And the long last anti-climactic meeting of Anna and Elsa in our Saturday night at MK.
 
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Laurensara

New member
Kim -- I'm so happy you are posting this. My family (me, DH, and 2 girls who will be almost 4 and almost 2) have a Windsor Hills condo booked for a January trip. We have never stayed off-site, and I'm so worried about it. Do you drive to Orlando or fly and rent a car? Did you see the condo area in WH? Did it look nice? I can't wait to read all about your trip!
 

mlwilk

New member
I am following along. I usually dont post much but my dream is to go more frequently and I think we can do that by staying off site. I am trying to talk DH into considering it!! I know we would love the extra room and private pool. He does not want worry about driving while on vacation! I can't wait to read your Trip Report.
 

kmc8826

Well-known member
Kim -- I'm so happy you are posting this. My family (me, DH, and 2 girls who will be almost 4 and almost 2) have a Windsor Hills condo booked for a January trip. We have never stayed off-site, and I'm so worried about it. Do you drive to Orlando or fly and rent a car? Did you see the condo area in WH? Did it look nice? I can't wait to read all about your trip!
We flew into MCO. I checked the car rates obsessively. We left on a Friday and when I checked Tuesday before we left, the rate (through the Costco web site) was $211 for a Toyota Sienna for 8 nights through Alamo. It was awesome to get it that cheap, but maybe kind of bad since it set the standard for future trips! We brought the carseats/booster seats. With the airlines you can check them and it doesn't count as luggage. A pain to haul but much cheaper than renting from the car rental agency. I joined the Alamo Insiders which basically just meant you entered DL information and credit card into the system before you left. The practical effect was that we got our luggage and then walked right out to the parking garage without having to go to the counter. In our October trip I didn't do that and ended up waiting forever in line, and then finding out days later that someone at Budget must have stolen our credit card information. But that is another story...

I went running one morning when we had a later start and went all around the WH complex. The condos are on the one side when you go in and the townhomes are on the other. The homes are in the back. We went passed the condos every day going to our house (it was on Comrow Street which is where the condos are located). It all did look nice. As I said above it is all extremely quiet. When I was out running about 8 am the only traffic I saw was the home maintenance/cleaning companies and trucks for stuff like pool up keep or carpet cleaning. The part I didn't understand before seeing it is that you turn off of I-4 (which has all the stores and restaurants) to get to WH but the entire area sounding the housing development is pretty much either housing developments or empty fields.

You will have a wonderful time! I really do think that with little kids it is just so much easier to not be dealing with staying in the resort. It is much less drama.
 

kmc8826

Well-known member
Thanks everyone for following along. I will try to figure out tonight how to upload some pictures. It might be beyond my ability but I will try!

I am following along. I usually dont post much but my dream is to go more frequently and I think we can do that by staying off site. I am trying to talk DH into considering it!! I know we would love the extra room and private pool. He does not want worry about driving while on vacation! I can't wait to read your Trip Report.
You do have to drive, but once you figure out the route it was so easy. Basically the turn out of the complex and a right hand turn at the light, exit off I-4 and then you were going through the WDW gates. I remember staying at Pop Century and it taking forever on the bus to get to MK. I was literally amazed how easy it was (and MK is the hardest park to drive too since you have to deal with the TTC). The money you can save does mean you can go more, which is always my goal!
 

R&RMom

Member
I'm so excited to read your TR. You're making me want to seriously consider WH for future trips. We have done a Value with Free Dining, and are doing a Moderate with Free Dining in November. However, it would be so nice as our family grows to have the additional space rather than a hotel room. And those buses were my biggest complaint last time. Can't wait to hear how your 3 little princesses enjoyed their stay:)
 

BostonGirl

New member
Happy you had a good trip and also following along.....

We are staying in a house in Windsor Palms in February, and the kids are 3 and 5. Except they are boys so we don't have pink cowboy boots. :RpS_laugh:
 
D

Deleted member 519

Guest
Kim, I'm glad your offsite stay was a success! We love our vacations at Windsor Hills! Can't wait to hear about the rest.
 

cynthiap

New member
I'm following along. Excited to hear about your 3 girls experiences as me and my 3 girls (7, 4, 20 months) are heading there in 47 days!
 

MMDisney

New member
Your trip sounds great. Would love to see some picture of your house. I can't imagine spending more than a night in small hotel room with 2 tween boys so it will be offsite for us from here on out. We are staying at WBC at the end of October. The whole house to ourselves sounds great and good be a good way to intice my husband for a future trip.
 

kmc8826

Well-known member
Your trip sounds great. Would love to see some picture of your house. I can't imagine spending more than a night in small hotel room with 2 tween boys so it will be offsite for us from here on out. We are staying at WBC at the end of October. The whole house to ourselves sounds great and good be a good way to intice my husband for a future trip.
I seriously thought about WBC but ended up doing the WH route because the idea of just parking in the driveway and going into the house was too appealing! The resort atmosphere wasn't as important as having our own pool. All the houses in WH looked pretty much the same on the outside. My husband was a little skeptical when we looked at them on the internet before the trip, but once we got there he made the remark that for once something was as advertised. When we got there the master bedroom even had the swans on the bed as in the pictures! When we went in September the house was only about $300 more than what a townhome rental would be.
We didn't take many pictures of the house itself; my husband said it was actually one of his regrets of the trip he didn't have out the camcorder when we first went inside. The girls were so excited they were almost frantic.
 
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kmc8826

Well-known member
Saturday, September 13

Our original plan (pre 60 days out) was to go to Epcot at RD, do a late breakfast at Askerhus, take an afternoon break and then do AK. The AK part changed thanks to Frozen. Because that is how it goes sometimes, I ended up finally getting the elusive FP+ for A/E on Saturday night. Of course the worst night to go to MK, but we ended up making it work.

We got to Epcot plenty early. As I said above, it was crazy close to WH. Left a little after 8 and parked our car (just on the other side of the bus stops) by 8:15. It worked out because it gave me plenty of time to visit Guest Services outside of Epcot while DH and the girls waited. In our trip last October I had upgraded my ticket to an AP. Despite the fact I live over 4 hours away by plane, I decided to get the AP because 1) we were staying off site for the first time and paying for parking drove me nuts, 2) I wanted to come back again within a year and getting the pass meant we would make it happen, and 3) it was super cool for me and gave me that happy feeling to just know I had it! At any rate, I visited Guest Services to get a TiW card and add a day to the tickets. I messed up last time and did not get the TiW card but this time had researched it to death and knew what I wanted. The main selling point for me was the free valet parking. (Anything to make travelling with kids and a stroller easier!) I endured the super peppy CM who wanted to tell me all about the card and got back with my family.



DD3 was measuring just under 40 inches at home. Because I was worried the sneakers would not be enough I ended up ordering last minute some pink cowboy boots from Target. Well, first ride she was measured she had the boots on and made the cut! She was so excited. On later days we did not change shoes and measured her in whatever she was wearing and she didn't make the cut. She was little enough I didn't try to get her on TT or T of T, but for some of the non roller coaster type rides the boots were perfect!

We did Soarin, Living with the Land, and the Imagination Pavilion before heading to Norway.



We got to Norway at 10:20 for a 10:30 ADR to find no hostess in sight to check people in and a growing, chaotic crowd. It was rather bizarre and rather un-Disney like. I guess she had left and said she would be back when the next set of ADR's opened up. The breakfast itself was okay; just loud and chaotic. We have never ate at CRT, but this was my third time with Askerhus and I think I am done with it. I didn't think the character interaction was especially spectacular and the food was not great. Especially when you are paying for three kids to have a piece of bacon and some fruit between them; it makes it harder to enjoy.



After breakfast, we stopped and saw Duffy. The girls didn't even know who he was and bought into all the ridiculousness. Then we went to Innoventions and did a highlight of last year "The Great Piggy Bank Adventure." I don't know why, but for some reason it was a priority for them to do it. It has some weird secret appeal because that night when I tucked DD3 into bed I asked her what her favorite part of the day was and she said it was the "Piggy Bank Adventure." This after dining with princesses and meeting the famous Anna and Elsa! Go figure.

We went back to our home about 12:30 and went swimming. I didn't even try to get them to nap; just a rest out of the heat was what they really needed. We swam and then left for MK and our 5:00 ADR at the Wave. I booked the Wave for two reasons. 1) I wanted to try it and 2) wanted to valet park at the Contemporary and then walk over to MK. Dinner was a success on both counts. We got to MK a little after 6 for our 3 FP+, Peter Pan, Splash Mountain, and Anna and Elsa. Thanks to the boots DD3 got her first ever ride (one of many as it is our family favorite). When it was time for A/E we got there right at 8:20 just in time to wait. Even with the FP+ it took forever! We didn't get out until just before 9; which ended up being an issue since we were then were faced with the crazy prospect of getting out just as Wishes was going to start. We messed up that night and didn't take behind Main Street route by Tomorrowland Terrace (we did that another late night). With the hub construction wading through a mass of people with a stroller is so not fun. We wanted to get out and get the kids in bed because the next day was our big MK day!





Anna was way cute with the girls, she pointed out that Olaf would like their outfits because they were like summer. Elsa was okay. This is totally rude, but maybe she was put off because I was kind of staring at her. I seriously thought she looked a little like a transvestite! I guess meeting them was so much work that it ended up not living up to the anticipation.

Next up:

Early morning ADR at Crystal Palace. (Yes, a closed park is still not that empty).

Failure with riding the Tea Cups with Alice but success with Jasmine and Aladdin and the Flying Carpets!

The BBB gives DD3 Anna hair (which I found slightly disturbing but made her quite happy).
 
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MMDisney

New member
I love the pink cowboy boots, your girls are adorable. My boys would go crazy over the game room in the house they might not want to leave.
 

kmc8826

Well-known member
Thanks everyone for reading along! I appreciate it. Traveling with little kids does have its own set of challenges sometimes.
 
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