Frommer's Walt Disney World and Orlando

Frommer's Walt Disney World and Orlando

by Jim Tunstall, Cynthia Tunstall
You'll never fall into the tourist traps when you travel with Frommer's. It's like having a friend show you around, taking you to the places locals like best. Our expert authors have already gone everywhere you might go -- they've done the legwork for you, and they're not afraid to tell it like it is, saving you time and money. No other series offers candid reviews of


You'll never fall into the tourist traps when you travel with Frommer's. It's like having a friend show you around, taking you to the places locals like best. Our expert authors have already gone everywhere you might go -- they've done the legwork for you, and they're not afraid to tell it like it is, saving you time and money. No other series offers candid reviews of so many hotels and restaurants in all price ranges. Every Frommer's Travel Guide is up-to-date, with exact prices for everything, dozens of color maps, and exciting coverage of sports, shopping, and nightlife. You'd be lost without us!

Completely updated every year, Frommer's Walt Disney World & Orlando is on top of all the latest developments, including all the new shows and rides. You'll get full details on Universal Orlando, SeaWorld, and Discovery Cove in addition to our comprehensive coverage of all the Disney attractions.

This easy-to-use guide includes ratings, candid opinions, and suggested age groups for all the rides, up-to-date maps, and insider tips on how to plan your itinerary and minimize your time spent standing in line, so you'll be able to enjoy every minute of the magic. You'll even get a color fold-out map!

Product Details

Publication date:
Frommer's Complete Series, #835
Edition description:
Product dimensions:
5.16(w) x 8.44(h) x 0.97(d)

Read an Excerpt

Frommer's Walt Disney World & Orlando 2004

By Jim Tunstall Cynthia Tunstall

John Wiley & Sons

Copyright © 2003

Jim Tunstall, Cynthia Tunstall
All right reserved.

ISBN: 0-7645-3723-7

Chapter One

The Best of
Walt Disney World & Orlando

In 1971, when our daughter Chris was barely 1 and we were, well, a lot
younger, we joined the crazed herd that stampeded to Orlando for the Magic
Kingdom's grand opening. Six years earlier, no Floridian could have imagined
such a place. But Walter Elias Disney did. Where others saw little but cow patties
and orange groves, where the day's tourism maestros couldn't conceive
beyond water-skiing shows and alligator wrestling, Uncle Walt dreamed of
"Disneyland East."

In a covert operation that would have made the CIA proud, Disney started
buying central Florida real estate under names that gave no clue that Mickey was
his backer. By the time the Orlando Sentinel, the local newspaper, caught wind
of it, the Wizard of Diz had options on a parcel twice the size of Manhattan.

Sadly, though, Walt Disney never saw his dream come true. He died of lung
cancer in 1966, and when he died, so did his vision. Had he lived, Disney probably
wouldn't have allowed his World to become what it has: a mega-commercial
vacation version of New Year's Eve inTimes Square. To the newer
generations, including our grandsons, Jake and Andy, that means utopia, and
we'd be lying if we didn't admit it touches us when we see the magic in their eyes.
We also look at it as an enigma: Someday, it will run out of gas. (Won't it?)

Maybe not entirely, but it sure hit a speed bump in 2001 and 2002. (We'll tell
you how much of one later, in "By the Numbers.") Even so, to the millions who
made the pilgrimage last year, it remains, as one British journalist called it, a
national shrine. It is that-and a very crowded one most of the time.

Speed bumps aside, Disney's Florida legacy is still growing. As the new millennium
takes root, it includes four theme parks, a dozen smaller attractions,
two nightclub districts, tens of thousands of hotel rooms, timeshare holdings,
scores of eateries, and two cruise ships. Universal Orlando and SeaWorld add
four theme parks, and, with the help of smaller fry, the rest of Orlando antes up
80 lesser attractions, an avalanche of restaurants, and enough hotel rooms to
boost central Florida's total to more than 110,000.

When does Orlando cry "uncle?"

Well, Disney and Universal may not, but others do. Peripheral motels, restaurants,
dinner shows, and attractions are here one week and gone the next. The big
blow in 2001 was the closing of Church Street Station, a dining-and-club district
that was the prototype for Downtown Disney, Pleasure Island, and Universal's
CityWalk (see chapter 10, "Walt Disney World & Orlando After Dark"). Even in
good times, the theme-park players see attendance rise and fall. And those revenue
lapses often cause a negative side effect-price hikes-for those of us spending
our hard-earned dollars in the parks, which are very expensive. All seven
major parks charge about $52 per adult and $42 to $43 per child ages 3 to 9-per
day! And that's only the tip of things. Amusement Business, an industry trade
journal, says a typical family of four spends about $250 a day for admission, parking,
a fast-food lunch, and two T-shirts. That's without a room and other meals.
Still, cost and speed bumps aside, the numbers grow in a stable economy. The
reason is simple: This is fantasyland, and there's so much to do in only one location-enough
that a 2-week stay and deep pockets won't allow you the time to
hit all of the parks and attractions.

That's why we're here. Over the years, the two of us have explored the parks,
dined at Orlando's restaurants, and snooped in area hotels and motels so that we
can give you an inside track on America's No. 1 young and young-at-heart landing
zone. With this book, you'll have the necessary tools to plan ahead. There's
more than enough information to make you a savvy shopper. Our job: to make
your vacation easy to arrange and as enjoyable as possible so you'll be able to
relax while you're here. At the same time, we're going to give you options to
make your vacation affordable. We've noted some of the best deals in this corner
of the planet and ways to keep expenses to a minimum while having maximum
fun. And Orlando tourism gurus will make sure you have a steady stream
of new things to see. If you don't believe that, check out the "What's New in
Walt Disney World & Orlando" section for a look at what has opened in the
past year or so.

Last year's economic downturn generally means more savings on rooms,
meals, and fun things to see and do. And, if you have some energy left after touring
the usual daytime venues, there's still a lot of Orlando that most tourists
never see-one far from fairy-tale castles and whale shows-places where singles
and seniors find plenty of R- and PG-rated as well as laid-back entertainment.
(We'll tell you more about it in chapter 10, "Walt Disney World & Orlando
After Dark.")

Despite the growth in after-hours venues, however, Orlando remains a place
primarily for kids. Many hotels, some with whimsical themes, have video
arcades and other kid-pleasing features, and just about every restaurant in town
has a children's menu.

But no matter what their age, in this city, visitors are the real VIPs. The major
players are vying for your business, as they engage in an ongoing high-stakes
game of do-unto-others. The innovative Disney-MGM Studios theme park,
with its movie-magic motif, was countered a year after it opened by Universal
Studios Florida, which brought in Steven Spielberg as a creative consultant. The
late, great Church Street Station, a single-admission entertainment complex,
was followed closely by Disney's Pleasure Island, Downtown Disney, and City-Walk
at Universal. What's Wet 'n Wild in town? In addition to that same-name
Universal water park, Disney has two splash zones of its own and provides free
transportation to them for its vast numbers of hotel guests. Busch Gardens in
nearby Tampa has an animal park. So, voila! Disney came back with an entire
Animal Kingdom.

Make no mistake: In this war, you are the prize, and the stakes, like roller
coasters, will continue to rise.

1 The Best Orlando Experiences

From Cinderella Castle to Space
Mountain, everybody loves the Magic
Kingdom, but here are some other
great things to try at Disney and Universal,
and in the greater Orlando area:

Spend a day at Epcot. You can
travel around the world in an
afternoon at the World Showcase
pavilions, get your thrills riding
Body Wars and Test Track in
Future World, then have a different
look into the future at
Innoventions, where space-age
products and interactive games
await you. And, what better way
to cap your day than watching the
gala IllumiNations fireworks, laser
lights, and fountain show!

Visit Disney-MGM Studios.
More grown-up than the Magic
Kingdom, it still has lots of great
activities for kids and movie buffs.
Don't miss Tower of Terror, Rock
'n Roller Coaster, and Fantas-mic!-the
innovative, after-dark
mix of live action, waterworks,
fireworks, and laser lights that
rivals IllumiNations.

Check Out Gatorland. Located
between Orlando and Kissimmee,
this throwback park is a great way
to spend a half day at less than half
the price of the theme parks. In
addition to passive exhibits, make
sure to see the Gator Jumparoo,
which has been the signature show
since the park opened in 1949.
And, if you have deep pockets,
consider becoming a Trainer for
a Day.

Experience Universal Orlando.
Universal Studios Florida and its
sister, Islands of Adventure, combine
cutting-edge, high-tech special
effects with great creativity. Not-to-be-missed
attractions include Back
to the Future, Terminator 2: 3-D
Battle Across Time, Men in Black
Alien Attack, Jimmy Neutron's
Nicktoon Blast, Dueling Dragons,
the Incredible Hulk Coaster, The
Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man,
and Dudley Do-Right's
Ripsaw Falls.

Pamper Yourself at a Spa.
Orlando's business and upscale
travelers have spawned a small but
growing stable of places to don a
robe and get rejuvenated. Our
favorites are Disney's Grand
Floridian Resort & Spa
or 407/824-3000),
The Spa at the Wyndham Palace
(800/996-3426 or
407/827-2727), the Greenhouse
Spa at Universal's Portofino Bay
(888/322-55541 or
407/503-1000), and Canyon
Ranch Spa Club at the Gaylord
(877/677-9352 or 407/
586-0000). See chapter 5,
"Accommodations," to learn more
about these spas and the resorts
that host them.

Explore Eco-Entertainment at
SeaWorld and Discovery Cove.

With the opening of Journey to
Atlantis and Kraken, SeaWorld
added a little zip to its park, but it's
still better to come here looking
for what this place best offers-hands-on
encounters with critters
and up-close views of animals
ranging from polar bears to killer
whales. Its newer sister, Discovery
Cove, gives you a chance to swim
with dolphins (alas, it will cost you
$229) as part of its package.

2 The Best Hotel Bets

Get all of the information you'll need
about these and other central Florida
hotels and motels in chapter 5,
"Where to Stay." But here are the high

Best for Families: All Disney
properties cater to families, with
special menus for kids, video-game
arcades, free transportation to the
parks, many recreational facilities,
and, in some cases, character
meals. Camping at woodsy Fort
(407/934-7639 or
407/824-2900) makes for a special
family experience. If bunk beds
and a geyser going off in the lobby
sound good, check into the
Wilderness Lodge (407/934-7639
or 407/938-4300). On the
No-Mickey Front, Holiday Inn
Family Suites
or 407/387-5437), Holiday Inn
Nikki Bird Resort
or 407/396-7300), and
Holiday Inn Sunspree Resort
Lake Buena Vista ( &800/
366-6299 or 407/239-4500)
offer Kid Suites, kids' clubs, and

Best Moderately Priced Hotels:
Disney's Port Orleans Resort
(407/934-7639 or 407/934-5000)
has dual Southern charm in
its French Quarter and Riverside
areas, and the pool has a water
slide that curves out of a faux
dragon's mouth. In the free world,
Hawthorn Suites Lake Buena
(800/936-9417 or 407/
581-5457) combines a location
near to but sheltered from Disney
with trimmings such as large
rooms, free American breakfasts,
and weekday social hours.

Best Inexpensive Hotels: That's
easy: Disney's All-Star Movies
(407/934-7639 or
407/939-7000), All-Star Music
(407/934-7639 or
407/939-6000), and All-Star
Sports Resort (&407/934-7639

or 407/939-5000). If you're going
to stay on WDW property, you
can't beat 'em under any circumstances,
although they would be
significantly overpriced outside of
the realm. The Hampton Inn
Maingate West
or 407/396-5457) is one of the
nicest, most modern of the inexpensive
properties in the Kissimmee
area, and it's only 1 1/2 miles
west of Disney. On the north end,
Winter Park's Best Western Mount
Vernon Inn
delivers hospitality
Southern-style without airs and
with a low price (800/992-3379
or 407/647-1166), but it's 25 to 30
miles from the theme parks.

Best Budget Motel: The Ramada
Disney Eastgate
or 407/396-1111) has clean
rooms, is located close to Disney,
and there's a restaurant right next
door. All these things make it a
good budget choice. But if price is
your lone consideration, it's hard
to beat the nearby Econo Lodge
Maingate Resort
407/390-9063, or 407/
396-2000), where rates are as low
as $39 double.

Best for Business Travelers: The
Renaissance Orlando Resort at
(800/327-6677 or
407/351-5555), Gaylord Palms
(877/677-9352 or 407/586-0000),
Marriott's Orlando
World Center
or 407/239-4200), and the
Peabody Orlando (800/732-2639
or 407/352-4000) offer full
concierge service, 24-hour room
service, fine restaurants, spacious
lounges, and an extensive array of
business services.

Best for a Romantic Getaway:
The 1,500-acre grounds of the
Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress
(800/233-1234 or
407/239-1234) are a veritable
botanical garden surrounding a
swan-inhabited lake. Couples
enjoy stunning accommodations,
great service, and first-rate restaurants.
You should also consider the
luxurious condos and backyard
waterways (with wildlife ranging
from mallards to soft-shelled
turtles) at the adjoining Villas of
Grand Cypress
or 407/239-4700). Another
option: the Grand Floridian,
listed next.

Best Location: Disney's Grand
Floridian Resort & Spa
or 407/824-3000),
Polynesian Resort (407/934-7639
or 407/824-2000), and Con-temporary
Resort ( &407/934-7639
or 407/824-1000) are on
Seven Seas Lagoon or Bay Lake.
They're also on the WDW mono-rail
route, providing quick and
easy access to the parks. The
Portofino Bay Hotel (888/
or 407/503-1000) and
the Hard Rock Hotel (888/
or 407/363-8000) are
within walking distance of Universal
Studios Florida, Islands of
Adventure, and CityWalk, and
there's also boat service to the
dock at CityWalk.

Best Service: The elegant
Peabody Orlando (800/732-2639
or 407/352-4000) offers
attentive pampering from one of
the most delightful staffs we've
found in O-Town. The folks at
the Gaylord Palms (877/677-9352
or 407/586-0000) also
make it their business to treat you
as if you were best friends.

Best Pools: All of the Walt Disney
World resorts have terrific swimming
pools, usually Olympic-size
and based on themes. But arguably
the best is shared by Disney's
Beach Club Resort
or 407/934-8000) and
Disney's Yacht Club Resort
(407/934-7639 or 407/934-7000).


Excerpted from Frommer's Walt Disney World & Orlando 2004
by Jim Tunstall Cynthia Tunstall
Copyright © 2003 by Jim Tunstall, Cynthia Tunstall.
Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Meet the Author

Jim and Cynthia Tunstall have racked up plenty of time waiting in Walt Disney World lines. They were there when the Magic Kingdom opened in 1971, and in the more than 3 decades since that watershed moment they’ve sampled virtually everything that’s part of an Orlando vacation. Their many insider experiences allow them to separate the good from the bad and the ugly, and they give you the best ways to cut through the lines, the crowds, and the theme park PR in order to find the things that are right for you.
Based 90 minutes from WDW, they’ve written five other Orlando and Florida books, including Walt Disney World & Orlando For Dummies and Florida For Dummies. They also are contributors to Frommer’s Florida and Frommer’s Florida from $70 a Day.

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