Monday, January 16, 2012

The Bare Necessities: How To Get Groceries To Your Disney Resort

You may not be able to pack fresh fruit in your luggage, but a grocery delivery service can get it for you! 

For many travelers heading to Walt Disney World, part of trip planning involves much more than packing a stylish new bathing suit and a comfortable pair of walking shoes, though both of those should be on the top of your list, too. You may also want a case of bottled water (especially if visiting during the summer months, when being outside in Central Florida is like walking on the surface of the sun), breakfast items so you can start off your day of theme park adventuring with a full stomach, or just some snacks to have when you want to unwind in the room by watching the amazing selection of television channels in your Disney resort hotel. And if you have a younger child, you're probably adding things like diapers, pullups, wipes, formula, and/or baby food to the list.

Of course, getting all of that  from your home to your resort is not without its challenges. If you're driving, or renting a car when you get into Orlando, it's easy -you just stop off at a nearby grocery store and load up with everything that you need. But the majority of visitors fly in, get on Magical Express, and are taken directly to their resort, and I don't think the bus driver is going to be too keen on stopping off at Super Target on his way to the Beach Club so you can pick up a few things. No, not even if you ask them nicely., and you can put away that $10 bill you keep waving in front of their face, too. And have you ever tried to pack stuff like yogurt and fresh fruit into a suitcase? Let's just say airlines aren't kidding when they tell you that your bags may shift during the flight. Plus, with most airlines these days charging $25 or more per suitcase (each way!), you may not want to spend that money loading a bag up with items that are just going to get eaten or otherwise used up. Luckily, you have a number of choices to make getting any of these items, and more, delivered right to your resort.

I've heard that many parents children who are still in diapers will pack an entire suitcase full of nothing but diapers/pullups and wipes, then at the end of the trip, use that now-empty suitcase for bringing home all the souvenirs. Not a bad idea if you're not paying for the bag; if you are though, remember to consider that additional cost in your vacation budget. Depending on how much you buy, you might be able to just fit those items in bags you already have and you can always ship purchases you buy from Disney directly to your house; just ask a cast member for assistance when you check out.

A better option if you just need things like diapers, wipes, and/or bottled water is Amazon (http://www.amazon.com/). You can ship the items directly to your resort in care of your name and (at least if you're staying on Disney property) they will hold it for you when the package arrives. When you check-in, just tell the cast member assisting you that you should have a box in your name waiting for you. Another benefit with Amazon? Besides things like diapers, wipes, formula and baby food, you can also get items like bottled water, and some dry grocery items, like granola bars, pop tarts, and fruit snacks. There's no minimum order requirement and I've always found shipping to be pretty reasonable.

Your other option would be to use one of the two grocery delivery companies that service the Disney/Universal resort area and will do your shopping for you, namely Garden Grocer (http://www.gardengrocer.com/) and WeGo Shop (http://www.wegoshop.com/). This is an especially convenient service for guests who may want more of a selection of items or for vacationers who want to have things like alcohol (which can be limited in selection and very expensive on property) or ice cream. As Garden Grocer and WeGo Shop operate slightly differently and have different pricing structures, it can be a little confusing, so let me shed some light on how each one works. As an aside, I should mention that I have not been compensated by any of these companies and the views and opinions expressed herein are my own.

Both companies, as I mentioned, deliver to the Disney/Universal resort area, and will leave groceries will bell services if you aren't in the room. Both have excellent and easy to use websites that allow a customer to build a personal shopping list. When you pull up the Garden Grocer website, you'll find a list of over 4,800 hundred items from which you can choose in a variety of categories, from baby care to breakfast items to deli to one called “park essentials.” You have to choose from the brands listed in each category (in other words, you can't ask for a specific brand that's not on the list, or ask them to shop at the grocery store/warehouse store of your choice) but with thousands of items, there's a good chance that you'll find the item(s) you need, or one close to the brand you use. You'll also notice that the prices are slightly higher then what you might pay yourself at the grocery store (for example, a 12 pack of Pepsi that I pay $3.99 for was $5.99 on the site), but remember that you're paying for a service, and the luxury of having someone shop for you. Garden Grocer does require a minimum order of $40, and there is a delivery charge to your resort of $12, which is waived for orders of $200 or more. You should also know that until gas prices return to under $3.00 a gallon, they also will charge you a $1.99 surcharge to offset their fuel costs. The latest you may order is 36 hours in advance, and if going during a peak travel time, my suggestion would be to get the order in earlier than later.

Conversely, when you visit the WeGo Shop website, you won't find a list of specific products with pictures from which to choose. Instead, because WeGo shop will do your grocery shopping at the store of your choice, you can enter your exact shopping list. In fact, they tell you to be as specific as possible in your descriptions, including product size and brand, so if you want the store brand versus the national one, or the largest size of something versus the smallest, be sure to tell them that. If you prefer to have it in a shopping list, they have a link on their site to a program that will automatically build your shopping list and then email it to them. Because WeGo Shop is visiting the store(s) of your choice, they do not charge anything additional for groceries -the price they pay for the item is the same one you will pay. They'll also accept coupons you may have, though you only earn 50% credit on them (e.g., if you have a coupon for $1.00, you will save .50 cents, and they get the other .50 cents). There is also no minimum purchase order. However, because like Garden Grocer they are a for profit business, they do charge a service fee, depending on how much you spend. Those fees are:

Grocery total up to $50.00 = $18.00 service fee
Grocery total between $50.00 - $100.00 = $23.00 service fee
Grocery total between $100.00 - $200.00 = $28.00 service fee
Grocery total between $200.00 - $300.00 = $38.00 service fee; and
Grocery total over $300.00 = 13% of grocery total, service fee

Additionally, while they are happy to shop at more than one store for you, they will charge a $5.00 service fee per each store. Should the groceries be left at bell services, a gratuity of 10% of the order will be added to the final bill. You can place an order at WeGo Shop the day before you want delivery, and in some cases, the same day, but like Garden Grocer, deliveries are filled on a first come, first served basis, and peak times like holidays will fill up quickly.

Regardless of how you get your grocery items to your Disney resort, they key is to plan ahead. You definitely don't want to save this to the last minute only to scramble to try and find things to add to your shopping list to meet a minimum purchase order, forget to include something on your list you really need, or find that you waited too long and now your order can be fulfilled. If ordering through a site like Amazon or sending yourself a package to the resort, give yourself enough time for the package to arrive. I've heard too many horror stories of the guests arriving well before the package did, leaving them in a lurch. With a little forethought, the “bare necessities” can all be yours on your trip.

Contact Bob at Bob@PixieVacations.com for a no-obligation quote and free concierge-level help in booking and planning your next vacation.

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