Podcast Episode 221: Splurges Under $100

Splurging at Disney is one of the most fun things you can do but it can be expensive.  We’ve given you some good ideas of little extra things you can buy or do that cost less than $100 per person!

Happy listening!

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Is It Worth it?

As a travel agent I get this question pretty frequently, and you may be surprised on what topics this question is asked.   These are my opinions on whether something is worth doing at Walt Disney World.  These are going to be my opinion but my opinion is also based on personal experience as well as data gathered from former clients.

 

Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique: At least once, especially if you have a kid who is crazy about princesses.  I would highly recommend if you are going to drop the cash you will want a reservation at Cinderella Castle in the Magic Kingdom.  The packages can be pretty pricey so to save, bring your own costume and accessories instead of purchasing the full package.

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Pirates League: This is very much worth it!  It is a great value and a fun experience for boys and girls.  In fact unlike Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique, adults can also get a makeover here too!  They have pirate and mermaid choices and it is a really good value in comparison.

 

Getting Up Early: YES!  I cannot say yes enough.  The parks are least busy when they first open.  You also get to see some neat stuff like the Welcome Show at the Magic Kingdom.  How can you possibly be the family of the day if you are sleeping all morning?  Some restaurants even offer early breakfast reservations inside the parks which means you have beat the crowds inside the parks.  Go ahead and take that afternoon nap now, you deserve it.

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To Try ______ Attraction: Well this is a no-brainer, yes!  You should absolutely try any attraction, ride or show at least once unless you have a medical condition in which it is advised against.  You may never know when you find your new favorite!

 

Park Hopper Tickets:  In most cases, yes.  This ticket makes your vacation so flexible.  It can be a little work bouncing from park to park but if you are like a lot of people and find Hollywood Studios and Animal Kingdom to be half day parks this ticket option gives you the chance to save the rest of your day by hopping over to another park.  If you are traveling with really young children it might not be worth the hassle.  But if you are traveling with teens or adults only it is so worth the splurge.  I have travelled with and without the Park Hopper and I will absolutely give up a character meal before I give up with Park Hopper!

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Party Tickets: Yes, especially if you do not have park tickets for that day.  You can enter the Magic Kingdom at 4pm on the party days even when the party doesn’t start until 7pm.  You get special parades and firework shows, extra treats and character meet and greets.  The parks are less crowded as well so you can get on your favorites rides with a minimal wait time!

Refillable Mugs: Yes, but you have to do the math!  So as of 2016 the mugs are $17.  Say you are staying 5 days it would be $3.40 per day, plus you keep the mug.  For me this is very much worth it.  I drink coffee or iced tea in the morning so I would fill up each morning before going to the parks.  Then on an afternoon break I will fill up with Powerade, lemonade or more iced tea.  Then in the evening before bed I’m loading up on more water or Powerade.  Some quick math tells me that I am coming out ahead plus I have a cute souvenir cup to take home!

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Cinderella’s Royal Table:  Not really a good value.  This restaurant located inside Cinderella Castle is a character meal that will run you about $60 a person or 2 Table Service credits.  While you cannot beat the location or atmosphere there are other really great choices for princess character dining (Akershus, 1900 Park Fare) that won’t cost as much and the food is really good.  If you were planning to do this as a special treat or celebration then it may be worth it to do once.

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The Dining Plan: Yes, if used correctly!  The dining plan can absolutely save you money if you plan your meals correctly to get the best value.  If you split meals a lot or routinely order something that isn’t an entrée they no, it may not be worth it.  If you like to go on vacation knowing it is all paid for then this is very helpful, no Disney food sticker shock either.  So how do you figure out if it is worth getting?  You will have to do a bit of work checking menu prices and then figuring out if what you would order for each meal plus 2 snacks and if you would use the refillable mug (drinks start at about $3) and then look at the cost per day of the dining plan.

 

Preferred Rooms: Yes, a thousand times yes! Want to save yourself some walking at the beginning and end of the day?  How about saving yourself a long trip to the pool or food court?  Taking kids to Walt Disney World?  Then get a preferred room, it is worth the price difference from a standard, especially at the Value resorts.

 

Club Level: This is a it depends.  If you are already on the dining plan it may not be worth it, but if you are looking for a way to plus up a vacation with a great room that has snacks provided a couple times a day plus free drinks?  Then yeah you will want to look at it.  The big seller is that it includes some beers and wine as well as bottled water.  You could make breakfast out of the offerings.  There are also midday snacks offered and hot appetizers in the evenings and desserts in the late evenings!  This can be a fantastic value!  Check out Tara’s Club Level series here for specific resort information.

 

T-Shirts, Misting Fans, Glowing Trinkets: Nope, save yourself a lot of big bucks and pick up these things prior to going on vacation.  You can find misting fans and the cheap glowing, spinning toys at pretty much any dollar store, Walgreens, Walmart stores for about ¼ of the price.  The same could be said for the shirts you can purchase at Walt Disney World.  Your basic Tshirt will set you back about $25.  Go ahead and check out with Disney Store online, Target, Walmart, Forever 21, Torrid, Hot Topic, H & M, and Etsy just to name a few.

 

How to Allocate Park Days at Walt Disney World

Planning a vacation to Walt Disney World is very subjective because each family will have their favorites.  Family dynamics and ages are going to vary.  As travel planners we all get asked by our clients, how to allocate the number of park days over your vacation.  Granted having a Park Hopper ticket option will help you get to all the parks, but you have to factor in travel time from park to park and see if it is worth it to park hop.  A Park Hopper ticket option allows you to visit more than one park a day.  If you are short on time this might be a good options.  It is also a great option for couples and solo travelers.

Here is a breakdown of how I would use my days at Walt Disney World.

1 day ticket: (I know the horror!) but you will have to choose ahead of time if it will be at Magic Kingdom or Epcot, Hollywood Studios, or Animal Kingdom because the pricing is slightly different.  But this is a no-brainer for me: Magic Kingdom

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2 day ticket:  Magic Kingdom & Epcot.  Unless you have a person who is into Star Wars than I would suggest Hollywood Studios.  But with Magic Kingdom and Epcot having the most attractions these will give you the most bang for your buck.

3 day ticket: Magic Kingdom, Epcot and Hollywood Studios.  Sure you may prefer to hit up Animal Kingdom but I feel that Hollywood Studios still has more to experience on a short trip.

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4 day ticket:  Visit each park one time for first time visitors.  If you have been before or aren’t interested in Hollywood Studios or Animal Kingdom I would suggest 2 days at Magic Kingdom, 1 at Epcot and then 1 and either Hollywood Studios or Animal Kingdom.

5 day tickets: With 5 days I would check out Magic Kingdom twice and all of the other parks once.  I believe this a fairly common arrangement for many people taking a 5 day vacation and it gives you plenty of time in Magic Kingdom plus a visit to each other park.

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6 day tickets: Magic Kingdom and Epcot twice with a single day spent at both Animal Kingdom and Hollywood Studios.

7 day tickets: Here is where it gets tricky.  I would go with 3 days at Magic Kingdom (taking it easy), 2 at Epcot and again 1 at both Hollywood Studios and Animal Kingdom

8 day tickets: You could visit each park twice, or go to Magic Kingdom 3 times, Hollywood Studios and Epcot twice and Animal Kingdom once.

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9 day tickets: Magic Kingdom and Epcot 3 times each, Hollywood Studios and Animal Kingdom get the rest so I would probably go with 2 Hollywood Studios days and 1 Animal Kingdom day.

10 day tickets: So many days to use up here!  Magic Kingdom, and Epcot 3 times each, then Hollywood Studios and Animal Kingdom twice.  What a fun vacation that would be!

You may find having the Park Hopper is also a great advantage especially with longer trips.  You may want to pop over to Animal Kingdom in the morning and then finish the evening with fireworks at Magic Kingdom.  And of course if the weather isn’t cooperating a Park Hopper is really handy.

Do take into consideration when planning your park days special events like hard ticket parties, events like a runDisney race.  Or if it is near a holiday or school break the parks can get very crowded so it is important to look ahead for what is going on at Walt Disney World before planning your park days.  And of course a great travel agent can help you with this!

Do you have a favorite combination of parks to visit on a vacation?  We would love to hear it!

Walt Disney World Park Tickets

There are a few choices you can make when purchasing tickets for your next Disney vacation if you are not doing a package. All tickets can be bought from a single day up to 10 days in a single ticket. All tickets must be used within 14 days of first use.

The first is the Base Ticket. This is a ticket that allows you to get into a single park per day. If you are doing a one day base ticket and wish to get to Magic Kingdom this park is slightly more expensive than Animal Kingdom, Epcot or Hollywood Studios.

A step up from the Base Ticket is the Park Hopper. The Park Hopper allows you to visit more than one park in a day. You can use it to visit all four in a single day or to just visit one. This ticket affords a lot of flexibility in your vacation. You can plan to visit one park in the morning and then go to another in the evening for dinner. Or if you aren’t sure which park your children or you will enjoy most this ticket is very helpful. If you keep finding yourself wanting to go to Magic Kingdom for a dole whip and a spin on the Haunted Mansion this ticket can make that happen.

Another option is the Water Parks Fun and More. This ticket option allows you access to Disney’s Blizzard Beach and Typhoon Lagoon Water Parks, Disney Quest, Winter Summerland and Fantasia Gardens Miniature Golf Course, Disney’s Oak Trail Golf Course, and ESPN Sports Complex in addition to your theme park visits. If you purchase a 5 day Park Ticket with Water Parks Fun and More option you can have up to 10 days of fun. Or if you want to visit Blizzard Beach and Disney Quest in the same day this will use 2 allotments of the 5. For a little bit more of a fee you can combine the Park Hopper with the Water Parks Fun and More for a fun-filled visit.

Disney will run specials on Military Salute Tickets. Generally these are a 4 day Park Hopper ticket discounted and have to be purchased on base or at Shades of Green. These do have an expiration date as well.

Another way to get discounted tickets is by being a Florida Resident. Details can be found by signing into your Disney account for more information.

And lastly if you are planning a vacation that is over 10 day or more than one vacation within a year of each other an Annual Pass might be the correct ticket for you. With Annual Passes there may be black out dates and exclusions so it is always best to check your options before making this purchase.

Lastly if you feel you didn’t purchase the correct ticket for you there is always the option of upgrading your ticket at Guest Services in the a parks. You will pay the difference if you choose to add days or the Park Hopper option or even if you are going to upgrade all the way to an Annual Pass it is all possible so you don’t feel stuck with what you have.

FastPass+ Changes and Information

FastPass+ has recently changed and the changes are going to change how we get on attractions at Walt Disney World. If you are new to FastPass+ it is a feature of MyMagic+ where you can make 3 reservations to get in a quicker line for certain attractions.

Currently Walt Disney World Resort guests can make these reservations 60 days prior to arrival. If you are staying off property you can make these reservations 30 days prior to arrival. To make these you must have a valid ticket attached to your My Disney Experience account. If you have booked a package with tickets it will automatically be linked, if not then you will have to manually input your ticket numbers.

The new changes mean that once you use your 3 choices you can then go to one of the FastPass+ kiosks and make a new reservation. Once you have used that one you can go again and make another. This is a huge improvement to the 3 and done system.

Also Disney is currently working to get changes made so that people with the Park Hopper Ticket option will be able to make FastPass+ reservations in more than one park.

With FastPass+ you can split up your party. If you all want to do the same attractions that makes it simple to do. If you want to split up your party it takes a bit more work but it is still fairly easy. If you all want to do something different that is also an option too! This is particularly helpful if you are traveling with a large group.

Disney is still testing the MyMagic+ system so they are going to keep making changes. In addition they are always listening to guest feedback so there are undoubtedly going to be to changes made in the future.

Also I recently completely a mini-series on the best use for your FastPass+ reservations and you can find them all here on the blog.

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