Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Current Disney World Discounts and Free Gift Card Offers.

UPDATE: This is an older article. Please see our current gift card offer here.

For Jersey Week Discounts, please read here

For onboard credits on all cruise ships, please read here.

Memories Package plus Free Dining.

This package gives you free dining with the purchase of a Disney Photo Pass Photo Book. I’m starting to see much less availability with this promotion, so if possible, book as soon as you know your travel dates.

Here are the details.

• Book now through August 27, 2011.

• Travel from August 28 – September 24.

• Value resorts will receive the free quick service dining plan.

• Moderate and deluxe resorts will receive the basic dining plan.

• You can upgrade any of these dining plans for an additional cost. Annual passholders will need to add a two-day ticket for any guest receiving free dining.

Room Discount.

There’s is a very limited room discount out right now. It’s not quite as good as the first promotions covering this time period and many resorts are exluded, so be careful if you try to change to this promotion from a previous discount. Make sure you get both prices, the one you’re currently booked under and the new price.  You can include tickets and dining with a room-only discount. 

Offer details:

Book now through August 13, 2011.

Valid for stays starting August 14 – October 2011.

Covers weekday rates only, starting at:

• $69 for Disney Value Resorts.

• $129 For Disney Moderate Resorts.

• $189 for Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge and Disney’s Wilderness Lodge.

• $209 for Disney’s Saratoga Springs and Disney’s Old Key West Resort.

Annual Pass Discounts:

Annual passholders may qualify for an annual pass discount on rooms through mid-August.

Exclusive Offers from Pixie Vacations.

Pixie Vacations is running two exclusive offers right now: One for Star Wars Weekends, and one for the Food and Wine Festival. Deluxe rooms up to 50% plus 10% off tickets and a free waterpark ticket. Contact me at ChrisW@PixieVacatins.com or Pixie Vacations for more information.

Gift card offers for readers of this website.

Book a new vacation with me and receive a free Disney gift card when you travel. Here are the details:

Book between now and August 27, 2011.

Gift card amounts are as follows:

• $25 for vacations worth $1800 - $2399;

• $50 for vacations worth $2400 - $8999.

• $75 for vacations worth $9000 - $15,000.

• $100 for vacations worth more than $15,000.

• Ask about special per-room offers for Grand Gatherings.

• $25 gift card for referrals over $1800 when the client travels.

• Exclusive offers from Pixie Vacations (such as the Food and Wine offer above) are excluded from this promotion.

This gift card is in addition to any promotion available by Disney. Just say you saw this offer here and you’ll do at least $25 better than any offer Disney can make you.  Gift card offers are based on your final package amount, after discounts.

Contact me at ChrisW@PixieVacations.com or call 919-889-5281. Thanks!

Monday, May 30, 2011

Monday Morning Distraction.

Here's a few things that are happening around the Disney blogosphere this morning.

I loved seeing this blogger's wedding pictures on Facebook and her wedding video is just beautiful:  The colors, the setting and the happy couple. Oh, and the cake.  In fact, there are two cakes.

If loving fried corn on the cob is wrong, I don't want to be right, people. 

The Disney Fantasy, the new Disney Cruise Line ship that will be launched next spring, has announced that "Disney’s Aladdin – A Musical Spectacular” will run on board.

Disney Babies Blog with the great debate.  Disneyland vs. Walt Disney World.

I hate to contemplate this since my eight-year old son is my favorite person in the world to go visit Disney World with, but it happens:  Jennifer on When the Kids Grow Up:  The Joys of Solo Travel.

George from Imaginerding has an informative review of the D23 Destination D conference that took place earlier this month in Disney World.

Waiting in line can be hard for little kids.  Jennifer from Chip and Co talks about the playground at Hollywood Studios, a great place for kids to run around and stretch their legs.

Disney on Wheels is a blog with a different perspective--I highly recommend it. Here, the author shares some highlights from Star Wars Weekend

A little admin news:  I started a Facebook page for the blog. You can view it here if you please.  Also, if you're linking to me and I have failed to link to you, please let me know so we can exchange links if you have a Disney blog.

Enjoy your holiday.  Special thoughts go out to all the service men and women and their families who sacrifice so much.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Which Disney Dining Plan is Best for You?

Citricos at the Grand Floridian,
one of Disney's signature restaurants.

There are three main dining plans at Disney World: Quick-service, counter-service, and the deluxe plan. All of them can save you money, but in order to do so, you have to determine which plan is right for you and how you travel.

Basic rules on the plan:

1. Kids are required to eat off the kids’ menu at table service restaurants. At some counter service locations, children are allowed to order from the adult menu. This is an area of some confusion, so make sure you ask first before you order and don’t be surprised if they require your child to order from the children’s menu. This is the rule as stated by Disney.

2. Refillable mugs are good at your resort only, not in the parks or other resorts.

3. Meals include the following:

Quick service: One drink, entrée, and dessert.

Table service: One drink, entrée and dessert. On the deluxe plan, you’ll also receive an appetizer.

Snack: Usually drinks, bakery items, popcorn, ice cream and the like.

4. You do NOT need to use a certain number of credits per day. Use all your snacks in one day or spread them out. Same with your meal credits. Disney allows a lot of flexibility on the plan.

5. Credits expire at midnight on the day of checkout.

The Quick Service Plan: The quick service plan gives you two snacks and two counter-service credits per night of your stay, plus a refillable mug.

1. Who does it work for? People who don’t want to make dinner reservations or be held to a dining schedule, families with very young children who feel their kids aren’t yet ready for a sit-down restaurant, and individuals who will only eat one or two table service meals per trip.

2. Pros: Economical and flexible.

3. Cons: In a word, variety.  A lot of Disney World’s counter service fare is pretty standard across the resort: Burgers, fries, nuggets, and usually a salad and a vegetarian item, make up most menus at counter service locations. If you aren’t careful, that can get old fast.

For more variety, try the ethnic counter service locations in Epcot. Many of the counter service locations at the resorts offer more variety; for example Mara in Animal Kingdom Lodge has great sandwiches and flatbreads. You can’t beat Wolfgang Puck Express in Downtown Disney; it’s a counter service location that feels much more upscale, in part due to the presence of real flatware, dishes, and the varied, healthy menu.

The Basic Dining Plan: Sometimes called the regular or plus dining plan, this plan offers you one counter-service, one table service, and one snack per night of your stay.

1. Who does it work for? Guests who want a more leisurely meal and the variety of a table-service location.

2. Pros: Allows you to experience a wide variety of food and different types of restaurants.

3. Cons: Requires you to be somewhat more prepared. You’ll need to make most (ideally) of your dining reservations when they open up at 180-days out. You’ll have to stick to a schedule; if you miss your reservation, you run the risk of not being able to replace it easily, as table-service locations fill up quickly.

A lot of people I talk to love this plan, which I feel gives you the best of both worlds for only slightly more money than the quick-service plan. The amount of scheduling you’ll have to do is pretty minimal and you’ll still get the flexibility of the counter service options. To me, if you look at the menus and do the math, this plan is the best use of your money for most people.

The Deluxe Dining Plan: This plan gives you three table-service credits per day plus two snacks and a refillable mug. Unlike on the basic dining plan, your meals will come with an appetizer in addition to the drink, entrée, and dessert. You can exchange any of your table-service credits for a counter-service meal.

1. Who does it work for? Foodies who want to experience the wide variety of food the resort has to offer. People who want to try several of Disney’s signature restaurants or certain dinner shows, both of which require two table-service credits. Groups or families that want to ensure they’ll sit down for at least one or two meals per day as a means of connecting and sharing their experiences. Those who want a more relaxing vacation.

2. Cons: For some, the cost. The basic dining plan costs about $47.99 per day; the deluxe runs $78.99. For those who intend to eat mainly at table-service locations, it’s a pretty good deal, but you need to be the type of person who actually travels that way. Before your purchase this plan, ask yourself how you feel about sticking to a schedule that includes one or two sit-down meals per day. For some people, it’s difficult to break away from the parks to eat.

One caveat: I don’t usually recommend this for families with children under the age of five unless those children are used to eating out frequently. Young children or children who don’t transition well may object strongly to being told they have to leave Dumbo (again!) in order to make a reservation.

3. Pros: For me, this plan is a dream plan because I love to eat! I also like the idea of the appetizer being included, since I’m more likely to order an appetizer rather than dessert (although since its included, I’m ordering that too!). For those who want to try a wide variety of foods and experience Disney’s top restaurants without having to go without table-service meals on other days because they’ve already used their credits, it’s ideal.

I find that if you use at least two table-service credits per day, you’ll break even cost-wise. In other words, you don’t have to feel guilty about using that third credit at a quick service location if you need the flexibility. Because of this, this plan can be economical, but only if you're to be the type of person who eats this way while on vacation.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Hello, Cupcake.

Who would leave a cupcake all alone like that?

I'm very picky about desserts. I figure that if I'm going in ingest several hundred empty calories (which, believe me, I have no qualms about doing), it should be worth it.  I've been particularly critical of the cupcakes they serve at Starring Rolls in Hollywood Studios. Sure, they look great,, but all too often, they're overly sweet and lack any depth of flavor. Well, I'm happy to say, I finally found a cupcake worthy of actually eating instead of just looking at:  The red velvet cheesecake cupcake.

Note the super-healthy fountain drink in the background.

Starring Rolls is one of the best places to get a quick snack in Hollywood  Studios. It's on your right as you walk down Hollywood Boulevard, just past Sunset. It's impossible to miss.  You'll find a good selection of pastries, drinks, and sandwiches, as well as a tempting display case of cupcakes, puddings, and other desserts. It's a small shop that can get a little crowded, but the lines move pretty fast.  You'll find condiments and seating outside. It's well worth the stop.

This cupcake is big enough for two, so don't hesitate to buy only one and share it.

Gimme that cupcake, Mom!

Priced at under $4 or one snack credit on the dining plan, it's definitely a bargain.  The red velvet cake isn't too dense as a lot of commercial cupcakes can be. It's moist and provides a nice, not too sweet, foil for the rich, creamy frosting.  Sometimes it's hard to get cream cheese frosting just right--it's frequently not tangy enough. I have a standard for cream cheese frosting by which I judge all others and this one easily passes the test. I dare say, Old Ina herself would approve.

Being Disney, they don't stop with cream cheese frosting. Gilding the proverbial rose, they add a dollop of cheese cake right in the middle. You can see it in the picture above; it's the yellow-ish glob in the center.  Then they drizzle a little chocolate on top and add some little candy-like pieces. It's just so good.  On second thought, maybe you won't want to share it.

I can't wait to try this again on my next trip!

Friday, May 27, 2011

Using a Guest Assistance Card

Re-imagined last year, guests with GACs use
the ramp on the right to access It's a Small World.

On my trip last weekend, I met up with a friend who uses a Guest Assistance Card, or GAC, in the parks.  A GAC is a pass that allows visitors to bypass longer lines for some rides due to a disability. It's not a "front of the line" pass, but it does allow you to enter most fastpass lines if that attraction has one and provides alternative entrances for those that do not.  Any number of disabilities qualify for a GAC.  For example, parents often get them for children on the autism spectrum as long lines can be overwhelming.  Individuals with crowd phobias or anxiety may also benefit.  People with physical disabilities that keep them from standing for long periods of time use them as well.  If you or someone in your party has a disability, simply go to Guest Relations as you enter the park and request one. 

To get a GAC, you'll need to briefly explain why you need one. If you're getting one for a child, that child will need to be present.  Disney is not obtrusive and will not pry; they make getting the pass as easy and painless as possible, however, due to the potential for abuse, you'll be asked a few questions about your needs.   You don't need a doctor's note to get a GAC, but it can make getting one easier, particularly if you have a hidden disability.  Your note does not have to specify what your disability is.   It can simply explain your limitations and why you need the CAC.

Most people get GACs for the duration of their trip.  My friend is an annual passholder and a local, so she gets her pass for three months at a time.  In her case, it covers up to four people in her party (the number of people in her family), but in general a GAC is good for the holder and up to five additional people.  This allows groups to enjoy the attractions together.

We used my friend's GAC twice, once to enter Toy Story Midway Mania in Hollywood Studios and once for Peter Pan in the Magic Kingdom.   Both times, we entered the fastpass line and waited around ten minutes.  The cast members treated the GAC like a fastpass, taking about the same amount of time to read it as they do a fastpass.  I know that some guests feel uncomfortable about using a GAC or worry that those in the standy line will resent them for "bypassing" longer lines; don't think this way.  I didn't feel uncomfortable or like we stood out in the least.  And if someone is petty enough to begrudge an individual with a disability a shorter line, well, I would suggest that that type of person isn't worth worrying about in the first place.

I'm glad I had an opportunity to try this out with a friend because I find it helps to experience things before I write about it or explain how it works. I often have clients ask about getting a GAC or worse, those who don't know they can get one at all.  If you need help, please don't hesitate to get a GAC. Disney employees are very sensitive to guest needs and this is one area where they really shine.  You deserve to have the same access as everyone else.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Predicting the Future of Disney Discounts.

Well, first of all, the truth is that none of us can really do this, right? I mean, as we wait for fall discounts to be released by Disney, only a small number of people who work for The Mouse really know what to expect. But what we can do is take what we know about past discounts and combine that with what we're seeing today to get an idea of what to expect in the future. 

Last year, Disney CEO Bob Iger announced that Disney would be scaling back on discounts now that the economy has begun to improve.  Almost concurrently, a new round of discounts came out, including free dining and a kids free promotion that covered most of 2011.  Most of us assumed that Iger's comments were nothing more than bravado designed to appease shareholders, but it looks like Disney means it this time--at least to an extent. While the first round of discounts to come out for 2011 were excellent, what we're seeing is that subsequent offers for the same time period are not as good. 

For example, free dining was offered in August 2010 for most dates through September 2011 (there were the usual holiday blackouts, of course).  The only catch was that you had to book by December 20, 2010.  That was the last offer for free dining until it was offered again in May for the month of September 2011, but there was a catch:  The offer now required you to purchase a photobook for an additional $90.  So this new offer costs you an additional $90 more than it would have if you'd booked it back in December.  It's still a deal, of course, just less than what was offered before.

This is exactly what we, as travel agents, are hearing from Disney. It's true that most of the rank and file cast members we talk to when we book vacations probably aren't all that informed on what discounts will come out in the future, we occasionally encounter some real gems.  A couple of weeks before the latest free dining offer was announced, I was talking to a cast member while making a reservation. It turned out she was a supervisor and a passionate Disney fan who had read an article I'd written for another website I write for, Chip and Co.  We got kind of chummy and I felt comfortable enough to pry a bit about upcomgin discounts. What she said is exactly what we're seeing now:  That anything discount that comes out after an initial offer will be very limited in both the time and availabilty.  Sure enough, there was another summer discount, but it was for deluxe resorts and villas only. And when free dining came out, it bypassed summer and went straight to fall. 

What does this mean for the rest of the year?  I would put money on Disney releasing free dining and room discounts for the rest of the year. Remember, October through December were not covered in the initial discount offer for 2011; it ended in September 2012. The only discounts we've seen for this time period have been pin codes.  If they follow the same pattern they did last year, they'll release the offers in mid-August for the rest of 2011 and much of 2012.  And, these will be the best offers for that time-period.

What you can do:

1.  Register at http://www.disney.com/ for a pin code, which are discount codes personal to you.  These are often better than discounts offered to the general public. Be advised that some people report never gettting a code whereas others get one every month.

2.  Always book the first discount that comes out. I know that plans change and that booking nearly a year in advance can be a scary proposition, but the first discount released for a time period will likely be the best that Disney offers.  If you need to cancel your plans, Disney offers a full refund on packages 45-days prior to travel, no questions asked.  If a better discount comes out, it can usually be applied to your travel package without penalty.

3.  Be an informed consumer.  I don't personally wait for Disney to tell me when discounts are coming out because I want to be ready when a discount is announced. It's especially important with limited offers to get your travel dates covered the first day the discount is released.  Yes, this sometimes means false starts because the rumor mill is always churning, but it also means that I'm not caught of guard.  If you're booking on your own, you should be ready as well.  If you're booking with a travel agent, make sure you have the kind of agent who stays up on discounts.

I keep up with a couple of sources religiously:  The resort discount board at Disboards and the Touring Plans Twitter feed.  Disboards posters are always on top of discounts; it's sometimes uncanny. You'll often hear of them days before they're released by Disney.  As for Touring Plans, they've been right about every discount that has come out for the last year; usually they'll announce it several days ahead of time. 

I don't see Disney eliminating discounts completely in the near future. The public has grown too used to them. And while some sources have theorized that Disney is willing to take a major hit regarding attendance to wean the public off completely, I'm not seeing that. But I do think there's a great deal of truth in the idea that the best discounts will be the first ones to come out.

Get a free Disney gift card worth up to $100 when you book a new vacation.  Email me at ChrisW@PixieVacations.com for details.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Pictures from a Weekend at Disney World.

I went down to Disney World for a 4-day weekend and I just wanted to share some photos I took. It was very hot, but taking a break at the resort in the middle of the day and going to the parks late at night helped.  Those of you heading down this summer, don't forget your hats and sunscreen!

We Stayed at Animal Kingdom Lodge. I love to stay here and I think it's the most beautifully themed resort on property. Having said that, I don't love the buses.

Cinderella Castle at night. My eight-year old took this. Not bad for an iPhone, really.

The Main Street Electrical parade replaced Spectromagic (temporarily, at least). The music isn't as good as  Spectro, but the floats are definitely better.
Yes, I'm a Galactic Hero on Buzz Lightyear Space Ranger Spin. Feel free to be in awe.

The crowds weren't bad.  I would say that the only park that was hectic was Hollywood Studios due to Star Wars weekend, but even that was manageable. Standby waits for the newly re-opened Star Tours were around 70 minutes or less.

I love this resort. View of the Grand Floridian taken from the monorail on the way to the Magic Kingdom.

More in a bit. I want to talk about Star Wars Weekends and what can go wrong on the dining plan when you don't plan as well as you thought!

Friday, May 13, 2011

Discount Offer Now Available for Disney's Food and Wine Festival.

I normally try not to do two travel agent posts in a row, but Pixie Vacations just got an exclusive offer from Disney for Food and Wine and I wanted to put it out right away. Here are all the details:

The offer applies to the following standard rooms only: 

All Star Music: Save 35% off your room.

Disney’s Port Orleans Riverside: Save 32% off your resort room.

The Contemporary Resort: Save 50% off your garden wing room.

Disney’s Boardwalk Inn: Save 45% off your room.

Book by:

September 1, 2011.

Travel dates:

October 5-10 (dates may be extended several days on either side of the reservation provided there is availabilty).

These resort discounts are better than any published rates you’ll see this year at Disney World. Example: Book a standard room  (South Garden Wing) at the Contemporary Resort and save $209 a night over the non-discounted rate.  A family of five could stay at the Contemporary 4 nights and pay only $949.50 for their resort stay.

Theme park tickets are discounted 10 percent under this offer.

In addition, if you purchase a two-day theme park ticket, you’ll receive for a FREE water park admission. The dining plan can be added to this offer.

To qualify for this offer, you must book by September 1, 2011 and stay at least two nights between October 5 and October 10. Days may be added to the beginning and end of your vacation.

Rooms under this offer are booked as a block similar to conventions; they are very limited.

Remember, book in May and June and you're automatically qualified for Pixie Vacation's $250 gift card drawing.  Email me at  ChrisW@PixieVacations.com for more information on how you can get a free $25, $50, or $100 gift card when you book a new vacation in addition to current discounts.

Please join the conversation on Everything Walt Disney World's new facebook page here!  Thanks.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Win a $250 Gift Card From Pixie Vacations!

Book a vacation through Pixie Vacations and you can win a $250 Disney gift card. Here’s what you’ll have to do:

  • Book a new vacation in May or June.
  • Vacation value must be $2000 or more.

That’s it! You’ll be automatically entered to win. We’ll randomly draw a name on July 1st and you’ll get your gift card when you travel. It’s that simple.

Keep in mind that if we book your vacation now and there aren't any discounts out that work for you, we can always apply discounts later, usually without any penality from  Disney. As always, Pixie travel agents don't charge for their services and we don't charge cancellation fees either.

Want more?  Email me at ChrisW@PixieVacations.com to find out how you can automatically get a $25, $50, or $100 Disney gift card just by booking a new vacation.

Bay Lake Tower: Disney's Most Wanted Resort.

View of Bay Lake Tower from the top of the Contemporary Resort.
Photo copyright Disney.

There's something about Bay Lake Tower, the Disney Vacation Club property attached to the Contemporary Resort, that makes me swoon just a little bit.  I know I'm not the only one, as it just happens to fill up faster than any other resort on property. 

Warning:  It's possible this lake view may
make it difficult to get out of bed in the morning.

It could be that it's incredibly convenient:  The Contemporary and Bay Lake Tower are only resorts where you can walk to the Magic Kingdom.  You also have monorail access just by crossing an elevated walkway and going into the main resort:

Retro Disney from DisLeeLandia.

The rooms have clean lines and modern fabrics.

Three bedroom villa.
Photo Copyright Disney.

And big comfy beds that just happen to have a view of Seven Seas Lagoon or the Magic Kingdom.

One bedroom villa.
Photo copyright Disney.

And you certainly can't object to having access to a fully-equipped kitchen.

Three bedroom Villa kitchen and dining.
Photo copyright Disney.

One and two-bedroom villas are well-designed and sleep five to eight comfortably.

Photo coypright Disney.

All have modern, pretty bathrooms.

On a practical note, you'll be happy to know that one, two and three-bedroom units also have washers and dryers.

If you want to stay at  Bay Lake Tower, here are a couple of suggestions.

You can rent Disney Vacation Club (DVC) points from an owner and usually save money, but you'll need to do this from someone who owns BLT as their home resort.  Using an owner who calls BLT his home resort is best because it allows him to book at the 11-month mark, thereby ensuring the most availability.  I like to rent from Mouseowners, a website for DVC owners. You can also go through a DVC points broker but you will pay considerably more to rent points.  For more information on renting DVC points, please see this article.

If you go directly through Disney, book as early as possible. This is a very popular resort for DVC owners so only a small portion of these rooms are held back for "cash" sales, that is, to non-DVC owners.  Book at the 12-month mark if possible and then if discounts come out for your travel time, have them applied immediately.  If you can't plan that far in advance, start checking back at about 3 to 4 months before travel. Often, some of these units will open up, although not all at once, so you'll need to keep looking as more units are released.  Since there's no guarantee they will, make sure you have a back-up plan.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Three Rules for Working with a Travel Agent.

Working with an travel agency can make your trip planning easier, but it's hard to know what to expect if you've never used one before. Here are three tips that can help:

1. Never apologize for asking a question. Your agent's job is to make your trip easier, whether it's making your dining reservations or telling you how to get from the Poly to the Beach Club.  That's what they get paid for.  If your travel agent doesn't answer your questions in a timely--and friendly--manner, it's time to find a new agent. There are literally hundreds of them out there who will be happy to work with you.

2.  If you're working with a travel agent and you decide not to book or if you have to cancel your vacation, tell the agent as soon as possible.  You'll make her paperwork a lot easier.  We all know that plans change; we've had to cancel vacations too.  As part of our job, we take the risk that a client will cancel or not book at all.  There's no need to apologize or feel bad about it; a thank you will more than suffice and is much appreciated.

3. Your Disney travel agent should not be charging your for her services.  Bottom line:  We get paid through Disney. There are agencies out there that charge extra fees to book rooms or even to cancel a vacation. Ask about their policies ahead of time and if it's unacceptable to you, find another agency.

Friday, May 6, 2011

What Disney Does Right.

I sometimes find myself trying to get a handle on what Disney “means.” For some people, Disney World is little more than a manufactured playground headed by a monolithic company. They never take the time to look deeper than the attractions and they spend too much of their trip focusing on all the faults: The heat, the crowds, the cost. But if you really think about it, what Disney ultimately is, whether you travel as a family with young kids or as a couple or in a group of friends, is more than just a theme park where you go to be entertained. It’s about making memories with people you care about and there’s something about Disney World that makes it easy. That’s the connection that keeps fans coming back.

Maybe it’s because you shut out the rest of the world while you’re there and spend time in what many call “the Disney bubble.” It’s telling that despite all the entertaining distractions going on around you, there’s still something about the parks that makes us slow down. I once saw a hipster mommy-type watching Beauty and the Beast Live On Stage go from being jaded and uninterested to sitting on the edge of her seat like a little girl during the performance. And there’s something gratifying about seeing a teenager give his mom a hug, not worried what anyone around him thinks. It’s those sort of moments that you see happen, or maybe they happen to you, that make Disney special.

So maybe it is “the bubble.” Or maybe it’s that happy exhaustion that we all feel while we’re there, staying up too late and playing all day, that Disney facilitates so well. My friend Franklyn, a frequent guest, wrote this on Facebook the other day, and I think it sums up what I’ve been trying to say:

I swear my favorite time is running around the parks like a crazy kid then sitting down and watching Main Street Electrical Parade (prefer Spectro) then Wishes. Between the parade and Wishes, there's like this calm and contentedness when everybody is gathered around Cinderella castle waiting for their bedtime story. It’s probably the best thing I love about the MK.
I’ve been lucky enough to travel all over the world but yet there’s something uniquely different about Disney World that, for a lot of us, makes for a special connection. It’s hard to put in words. For those who don’t get it, I understand. But for those who do, save me a spot on Main Street during Wishes, okay?

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Reader Email: Parkhopping by Adding More Days to Your Ticket.

New Epcot Turnstiles. Copyright Disney.

This question comes from Lyn, who asks:

I've heard you can add more days to your park ticket and essentially, park hop without adding the parkhopper option. Is this true?


Thanks for your question. Sorry, but the answer is no.  While technically it would be cheaper to add days to your ticket rather than the parkhopper option, Disney's computer system will only allow one park admission per day per ticket unless you have the parkhopper added.

I've heard rumors that people have done this too, but those stories appear to be unfounded.  This is one of those hard and fast rules that Disney does not let slide.

Thanks for your question and I hope this helps.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Reader Email: Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party.

This email comes courtesy of Rich, who asks:

We're going to Disney World the first week in December but we're unsure of whether or not we're going to buy tickets to Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party.  Is there anyway we can still see the parade and the castle being lit up?

Rich:  Thanks for your question and for reading the blog. You won't be able to see the parade until after the party ends, which is on December 18th this year. After the 18th, it will replace the 3:00 o'clock parade every afternoon for the rest of the holiday season.  Fortunately, you can still see the castle lights being lit every night right before the Magic Kingdom closes. This is open to everyone and is a good way to end the night.  Considering seeing this on a non-party night so you won't feel rushed to get out of the park when the party starts at 7:00.

Chances are good that there will be tickets available to MVMCP at least one of the night's you're visiting, so if you get the urge, you can buy a ticket that day. It's a really wonderful experience.

Have a great trip.