Before I visited this site (and even for a long while after) I had always booked my holiday as a package. This year, with the credit crunch looming, I decided to go out on a limb, and follow the advice I had read over the past several years.
This (change) is always a scary thing to contemplate. We have always had a good time but always wondered if we were missing out.
Of course, I won't know for sure until our holiday has been completed, but here are my thoughts for now:
Have booked flights direct with Virgin Atlantic, and managed to negotiate a pretty good deal with a hire car through them as well. TIP - I recommend calling as you can make a comparison. If you have already researched the prices, you have a very strong position to negotiate.
The upshot is that we have a decent car, with platinum cover etc, plus a Premium Economy return seat (economy outbound) for about £700 each. This also includes an internal flight from Aberdeen to Manchester and return, including full baggage allowance (2 times 32 kg per person because of the PE return ticket) TIP - the major carriers have a sale in January but I found that many tickets sold quickly, so don't hang around. TIP - we would not have got the additional baggage allowance if we had not called in person.
We have stayed at DTD (Hotel Plaza Blvd) 3 times, and twice at Disney POR, and once (originally) even on I Drive. All have been hotels and each time we moved up a tier (I Drive > LBV > On Site) the experience improved.
However, we are now what I would call 'experienced' in the ways of Disney, Orlando, and even the wider Florida. So we don't necessarily need to stay on site, or spend a great proportion of our time in the parks.
So we have booked a Villa, with pool and spa, direct from an owner. £900 for 2 weeks. This is great for relaxation, a quiet location but within easy reach of the attractions and Interstate and airport.
I did price up what we would have paid if we'd stuck to our previous experiences and gone through a package. It would have been around £1500 more in total for a September stay (yes, it is off-season then but the same principle applies year round).
So, in summary, I guess my point is this:
Read the advice and experiences on this forum. Do the research. Spend a bit of time browsing. Shop at the right time of the year. Don't be afraid.
If it is your first visit, a package can be right for you. But it can also be enjoyable doing this groundwork. More experienced visitors should really try this 'book direct' system because you already know what to expect.
So, thank you to all the contributors, over the years, who have made this possible. You know who you are!