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.

 

Disney Visa Perks

You have maybe heard about the Disney Visa before, particularly when promotions are released.  On occasion Disney Visa cardholder have been granted early access to these discounts for booking a Walt Disney World vacation.

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So what do you get with your Disney Visa?  How much does it cost?

There are two types of Disney Visa cards a free one and the Premier which is an annual fee applied directly to your card of $49.

One of the perks of having either card is the 10% off any purchase of $50 or more at Disney stores and Disneystore.com.  Which as we know doesn’t take long to get past that $50 price tag. 

A 10% discount is also available at dining locations in Walt Disney World and Disneyland Resort.

Points can also be earned on purchases made with the Disney Visa.  These points can then be turned into a Disney Visa Rewards redemption card. You can earn up to 2% in rewards dollars at gas stations, grocery stores, restaurants, and Disney locations.  Also you can earn 1% everywhere else. These points can be used for booking Disney vacations, spending at Disney parks, and Disney stores.  You earn points after you have paid on the card.  The points never expire but your card can be inactive so be sure to check on this before leaving home and making purchases.

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Disney Vacation discounts are also available at times with this card.  It will be similar to the discounts and promotions that Disney offers to the general public such as a room only discounts or dining promotions.  On occasion these promotions are offered prior to general public sales allowing the cardholders a couple of days head start.

Discounts on tours are another great perk.  You can save 15%!  At Disneyland you can try out Welcome to Disneyland, A Walk in Walt’s Disneyland Footsteps, Discover the Magic, Cultivating the Magic and Disney California Story.  At Walt Disney World you can try out: Disney’s Family Magic, Keys the Kingdom, The Magic Behind our Steam Trains, Walt Disney: Marceline to Magic Kingdom, Gardens of the World, Undiscovered Future World, Behind the Seeds, DiveQuest, Seas Aqua Tour, Backstage Tales, Ultimate Day of Thrills VIP, Day for Young Families VIP, Epcot Food and Wine Festival, Backstage Magic, Holiday D-Lights, Yuletide Fantasy, Wilderness Back Trail Adventure.

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In Disneyland and Walt Disney World you can present your card for a private meet and greet with Disney characters.  At Walt Disney World it is located in Epcot, Innoventions West daily from 1-7pm.  You will receive downloads of the pictures onto your MagicBand.  In Disneyland Resort go to Disney’s California Adventure Park next to Monster’s Inc. Mike and Sully to the rescue, daily from 10:30am-1:30pm.  Downloads are also available here.

For Food and Wine at Epcot there is the Chase Visa lounge with free soft drinks, water and a place to have a break and charge your phone.

10% off select recreation experiences at Walt Disney World are available such as carriage rides or horseback trail rides.

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For those that want pampering there is a 15% discount for salon treatments valued at $45 or greater or any 50 minutes or longer spa treatments at Walt Disney World.

For Disney Cruise Line you can get at $50 onboard credit when you pay for your Disney Cruise Line vacation in full with your Disney Visa card.

You can also check out the full printable guide here https://disneydebit.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/4/2014/07/9392_WDW_Debit_ThemeParkPerks_PocketGuide_02.pdf

If you are like me, you probably learned a little bit about a card you already hold!  I didn’t know about many of these discounts, which means my Disney Visa may get a workout next time I am at Disney, for the perks of course!

 

Ye Old Christmas Shoppe

Hidden away in a small corner in Liberty Square is one of my very favorite spots in all of Walt Disney World: The year round Christmas store, Ye Old Christmas Shoppe. I’ve been known to purchase more Disney ornaments than could be put on a single tree, but I just can’t stop! Ornaments also make the perfect souvenir or gift to take home to your friends and family.

At Ye Old Christmas Shoppe there is something for everyone.

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My personal weakness is the ornaments. Most any character you can think of, there is an ornament honoring them at the shop. From the “fab 5” to princesses, and everything in between.

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Out of all the ornaments though, my favorite are the ear hat inspired ornaments. They’re so intricate and detailed and best of all, it’s easy to start a collection!

Ye Old Christmas Shoppe is not just ornaments though, it’s everything Christmas related. Garland, tree skirts, wreathes, gingerbread houses, ornament stands, Santa hats, Christmas music CD’s… you name it, you can find it here. A perfect spot to cool down, shop, and get into the holiday spirit, year round.

Are you happy to have a place to visit at Disney World year round that lets you get your Christmas fix even in the dead of summer? Tell us about it!

Disney Bounding

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Disney Bounding is a great way to add a lot of fun to your Disney vacation without too much work. It involves dressing in regular clothes but with a Disney twist. For example if you wanted to dress similarly to Mr. Smee, you will need some blue shorts, blue and white large striped shirt, a red cap, and brown sandals.

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These outfits can be a simple or elaborate as you would like put together with pieces out of your own closet! Of course if you are like me and want an excuse to go shopping!

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If you are interested in many more ideas you can check out the Disney Bound tumblr. And there is plenty of inspiration to be found on Pinterest as well.

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Have you ever dressed as a Disney character for a regular park day?  If so please share below!

Epcot Park Tips

Here are some of my favorite tips for visiting Epcot at Walt Disney World!  I hope you can find them helpful!

Arrive at least 30 minutes before opening. There is no rope drop but you may get lucky and the park will be open early. On my most recent trip the park opened unofficially at 8:30am. So it never hurts to arrive a bit early.

If you have a FastPass+ for Soarin’ make sure to get in line for Test Track first, or vice versa. These two will have the longest lines of any ride in Epcot this assures that you get to ride both attractions.
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Don’t miss Turtle Talk with Crush if you have children. They will love the interactive show and maybe even get a chance to ask Crush a question.

Check out MouseGears. This is a huge store with tons of merchandise but it always feels a lot less crowded than in the Emporium or World of Disney.

If you are a Disney Visa Cardholder there is a private meet and greet where you get a complementary 8×10 picture. Check the Disney Visa website for more details.

Check out Innoventions! There are plenty of interesting things to do here for kids and adults and you may even learn something too!

When you are ready to check out World Showcase stop by Agent P’s World Showcase Adventure outpost. It will give you plenty of interesting things to do and see while you explore. Plus it will keep kids and parents happy!
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If you are going during Flower and Garden or Food and Wine Festivals do not make dining reservation for Epcot, just snack (and drink) your way around World Showcase and before you know it you will be stuffed!

Ride Spaceship Earth in the evening. It is very tempting to ride it first but the wait times will go down in the evenings. So you can easily make this the last attraction you go on.

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Check out the lighted sidewalks at night. Sure to delight children and adults as you are exiting the park in the evening you can’t miss it.

Do you have a favorite tip for visiting Epcot?  Share it here!

Carsland: Shopping and Dining in Radiator Springs

IMG_7877Once you’ve met all the Car Celebrities, ridden all the rides, had your cone from the Cozy Cone, it’s time to shop! And shop you can! Carsland has plenty of spots to find unique souvenirs.

IMG_8596My favorite store was Radiator Springs Curios which is filled with traditional souvenirs from the town like magnets, keychains and shirts. Additionally you can find your Carsland collectibles like pins and Vinylmations here.

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Across the street from the Cozy Cone Motel is Sarge’s Surplus. If you want to buy a cone or tire-shaped hat: this is your store. There is also a lot of Lightning McQueen and Tow Mater merchandise.

In addition to the Cozy Cone Motel, there are two other dining options in Carsland.
IMG_8600Flo’s V8 Cafe is Radiator Spring’s quick-service location. This is a 50’s style- diner and I was able to grab a quick breakfast here the morning we rode Radiator Springs Racers. The food was basic: eggs, bacon, and potatoes but all were cooked well and had great flavors.
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If you are in need of a quick, healthy snack then Filmore’s Fill-In is the place for you. Fresh fruit, healthy snacks and bottled water, fruit and sodas are available.
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Radiator Springs has rejuvenated California Adventure and is a must-do for any Disney fan, especially if you have a Cars movie lover in your family. This is the last post in my series on Radiator Springs. To read past posts, see the links below.

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