Saturday, April 27, 2013

Roundup of the Latest Walt Disney World News and Announcements

So as you may have seen, the last week or so there’s been lots of news and announcements coming from Disney.  Here’s a roundup of the latest all in one place for you:

-Disney is kicking off summer with their Monstrous 24-Hour “All-Nighter”.  From 6am on Friday, May 24, 2013 thru 6am the next morning, the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World, Disneyland and Disney California Adventure in California will all be open for a full 24-hours.  There will be special entertainment, “monster-themed madness” plus special merchandise, food and “boo-verages”.  Now, this will be Memorial Day weekend so you can expect very heavy the temperatures have already started heating up.  But if you’re up to the challenge, you can enjoy a crazy 24-hour party on either coast!

-Coming next year, Spring 2014, the current Magic Kingdom daytime parade “Celebrate a Dream Come True” will be replaced by the Festival of Fantasy Parade.  The new parade will be highlighting New Fantasyland, specifically Brave, Tangled, Peter Pan, Pinocchio, Dumbo, Sleeping Beauty and The Little Mermaid along with others.  There will be new floats and costumes plus a whole lot more, so if you’re already looking ahead toward a Spring 2014 or later trip, be sure to check it out!
pic by Disney, float concept

pic by Disney

-As if Star Wars Weekends at Disney’s Hollywood Studios didn’t already have plenty of fun, this year on May the 4th (aka “Star Wars Day” to tons of die-hard Star Wars fans, read more about The History of May the 4th at ) Disney is adding some Limited Time Magic!  Special entertainment and shows, characters, a dance party and exclusive merchandise...all topped off with a Star-Wars themed fireworks show!  Parents will also be able to join their kids in special family Jedi Training Academy sessions.  Again, it’s sure to be pretty crowded but looks like May the 4th is going to be an amazing time!

-In some exciting news from runDisney, the Princess Half Marathon Weekend in 2014 will be adding a 10K option on Saturday.  Plus, they’ve added the Glass Slipper Challenge-complete both the 10K on Saturday and the Half Marathon on Sunday and you’ll receive the bonus Glass Slipper Challenge medal.  Sounds like runDisney is capitalizing on the success of the Dumbo Double Dare challenge (Disneyland in September) and the Dopey Challenge (WDW next January) with the addition of this 10K option.  And as if that wasn’t enough good news, if you participate in both the Tinkerbell Half Marathon (January in Disneyland) and the Princess Half Marathon (WDW in February), you’ll get a Special Edition Coast to Coast Challenge Medal.  It’ll look like the regular Coast to Coast medal, but will have pink enameling and a pink lanyard.
Full pic of new C-2-C medal and lanyard, by runDisney

Close-up of new C-2-C medal, by runDisney
-I know Disney Cruise Line is a favorite of many of my readers, so you’ll be thrilled to her that the Disney Magic cruise ship will be undergoing a huge overhaul when it goes into dry dock this fall!  Updates to restaurants, the atrium, kids areas (a new Avengers Academy--yay!) as well as adult areas just to start.  There will also be updates to the water areas including the new AquaDunk slide which will drop you three stories plus take you out twenty feet from the side of the ship.  If you’ve never sailed on the Disney Magic before, you’re definitely going to want to add it to your list now!

-The Boardwalk Bakery at Walt Disney World’s Boardwalk Resort has now reopened after it’s refurbishment, and it’s three times as big as it was before.

-Monorail Teal now has a Monsters University wrap with different monster characters in the windows and banners on the outside.
Front of the "Monsterail", pic by Disney
Full shot of the "Monsterail", pic by Disney

Whew!  Lots of stuff going on, I hope you have a chance to check out at least some of the fun!  And if you need help booking, just let me know-I’d be glad to help :-)

Monday, April 22, 2013

Miscellaneous Walt Disney World Tips & Tricks Part 2-Money-Saving Tips

Continuing on with some more miscellaneous Walt Disney World Tips & Tricks...this time, some money-saving tips:

-Want to save a day on your park tickets?  If you’re going to WDW during the Fall or Holiday seasons, consider attending either Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party or Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party.  Tickets for the parties run between $60-$70 depending on the date of the party and whether you are a Passholder or DVC member.  A single-day ticket for the theme parks runs $89 plus tax.  Save one of the days on your park passes by using one of the parties to visit the Magic Kingdom instead.  Cast members usually start letting party-goers enter the park at 4pm (even though the parties technically don’t begin until 7pm), then the parties last until midnight.  So you have 8 hours of time in the park, plus some fantastic extras...during the Halloween party you get to trick-or-treat throughout the park, during the Christmas party you get free cookies and hot at both parties, you’ll see characters out that are not normally seen in the parks-like all seven dwarfs at once and together!  Both parties have special fireworks shows and parades.  The Boo To You Halloween parade can only be seen at the party and is a real treat!  Check out my post about Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party for more information.

-In Epcot and thirsty?  Want some free soda?  Head over to Club Cool (to the right of the fountain as you head toward World Showcase).  Here you can try Coca-Cola products from different countries around the world-as much as you want and all for free!

-Save money on your counter service meal by ordering the entree without the side.  For example, at Pizza Planet in Disney’s Hollywood Studios, when you order a personal pizza, it comes with a side salad.  You can tell them you don’t want the salad and your meal will be cheaper.  Same thing with bags of chips (and sometimes fries) with many of the sandwiches.

-You can ask for a cup of ice water at any counter service or snack location and they will give it to you for free.  Don’t like the taste of the water?  Bring along a container of Mio water flavoring or individual packets of Crystal Light to add to the water.  Much cheaper than getting a bottle of soda and healthier as well.

-If you are an Annual Passholder, you get many discounts as a perk.  One of the great discounts is 15% off the tours they offer.  A great way to save some $$$ if you were wanting to try out one of those behind-the-scenes tours!

-To help you get the most out of your meals (especially if you are on the Disney Dining Plan), try keeping small breakfast snacks in your hotel room like breakfast bars/granola bars so you can eat something light before starting your day in the park.  You could also use a snack credit for breakfast if you’re on the dining plan by getting something like a cinnamon roll (they’re pretty big!).   Then have a late breakfast/early lunch around 10:30-11:00 to fill yourselves up (a buffet meal works good for this since you can go back for more).  Then have your regular dinner in the evening.  This way, you’re only paying for 2 full meals instead of 3 each day and can still feel full throughout the day.  Don't forget-all WDW resorts now have small refrigerators/beverage coolers in the rooms!

-Whenever possible, travel to WDW in the off-season for lower hotel prices.  Avoid crowded periods such as Summer vacation, Spring Break, holiday weekends and the week between Christmas and New Years.  You can also check out my blog post on The Best Times of the Year for a Walt Disney World Visit.  And while staying off-property will most likely be cheaper, there are many perks when you stay on-property that make it a better deal, such as free parking at the theme parks if you have a car and Disney’s free Magical Express bus service to and from the Orlando airport if you flew in.  For a more in-depth look at the advantages to staying on-property, take a look at my blog post on Staying on Disney property vs staying off property.

-Don’t assume booking a family suite will automatically be cheaper than two individual rooms.  Many times you can get two regular rooms for less than the cost of a family suite.  You can request connecting rooms-whenever possible WDW will try to honor those sure your travel agent logs that request when booking your trip.

I hope some of these tips help you save money on your WDW trip!  Need help planning and booking your next trip?  Give me a shout, I can help you plan and book your Disney vacation for the best price and I'll continually monitor your reservation for any new discounts that come out.  

What tips and tricks do you use to save money on your Walt Disney World vacation?  Have you ever tried any of those listed here?

Monday, April 8, 2013

Current Walt Disney World and Disneyland Specials-Spring/Summer 2013

Save up to 30% at select Walt Disney World® Resort Hotels for stays most nights 6/13/2013 - 8/14/2013.  Upgrade to a package and discover even greater savings when you add minimum 4-day Magic Your Way Tickets to your room!
Book through 6/14/2013 for travel 6/13/2013 - 8/14/2013
Disney Value and Moderate Resorts-For stays most nights June 13-August 14, 2013
  • Save up to 20% at Disney's Coronado Springs Resort, Disney's Caribbean Beach Resort, Disney's Port Orleans Resort – Riverside and Disney's Fort Wilderness Cabins
  • Save up to 15% at Disney's All-Star Sports Resort, Disney's All-Star Music Resort, Disney's Pop Century Resort and Disney's Art of Animation Resort – Family Suites
Disney Deluxe and Deluxe Villa Resorts-For stays most nights June 13-August 14, 2013:
  • Save up to 30% at Disney's Polynesian Resort, Disney's Grand Floridian Resort & Spa, Disney's Contemporary Resort, Disney's Yacht and Beach Club Resorts, Disney's Beach Club Resort Villas, Disney's BoardWalk Inn & Villas, Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge (standard view rooms), Disney's Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa and Disney's Old Key West Resort
  • Save up to 20% at Disney's Wilderness Lodge Resort (including Villas)

Important Details: No group rates or other discounts apply. Additional per-adult charges may apply if more than two adults at Disney Value, Moderate and Deluxe Resorts. Offer excludes campsites, 3-bedroom villas, and is not valid at Disney's Art of Animation Resort—The Little Mermaid Standard Rooms. Advance reservations required. 
Book by June 3, 2013 and Florida Residents can play and stay for as low as $56 per person, per day for a 3-night, 4-day package for stays most nights April 6 – June 3, 2013 (based on a family of 4) at Disney's All-Star Music Resort in a standard room. This package includes a 4-day Discover Disney Ticket, giving you access to all four Theme Parks (one Theme Park per day)!
Price based on 2 adults, 1 junior and 1 child. The number of rooms allocated for this offer is limited. Discover Disney Tickets are valid for one theme park per day and must be used by June 7, 2013. Passes are non-transferable, are only valid during regularly scheduled operating hours and exclude activities/events priced separately. No group rates or other discounts apply. Proof of Florida residency required at check-in. Advance reservations required. Offer excludes campsites and 3-bedroom villas. Offer not valid for Disney's Art of Animation Resort - The Little Mermaid standard rooms. Additional per adult charges may apply if more than 2 adults per room at Disney Value, Moderate and Deluxe Resorts. Length of stay requirements may apply.
Now, you can save up to 20%* on most Sunday-Thursday night stays at one of the Hotels of the Disneyland® Resort, and save up to 15% most Friday and Saturday nights, for arrivals April 7 – May 22, 2013. A two-night minimum stay is required.
Offer Details:
Save 20% off a room-only reservation most Sunday-Thursday nights, or save 15% off a room-only reservation most Friday-Saturday nights with a two-night minimum stay, at the Disneyland Hotel, Disney's Grand Californian Hotel® & Spa or Disney's Paradise Pier® Hotel.
Booking & Travel Windows:
Book this offer March 12 – April 27, 2013 for arrivals April 7 – May 22, 2013. Travel on this offer must be completed by May 24, 2013.
Turn your hotel stay into a vacation by adding Disneyland Resort Theme Park tickets or Disney Character Dining to your reservation, or by upgrading your room-only reservation to a Walt Disney Travel Company package.
*Savings based on the non-discounted price for the same room at the same hotel for a two (2) night stay between April 7, 2013 and May 22, 2013 when booked between March 12, 2013 and April 27, 2013; 20% savings based on most Sunday through Thursday nights and 15% savings based on most Friday and Saturday nights. Travel must be completed by May 24, 2013. Offer is not valid on suites or with previously booked rooms. Excludes applicable taxes and fees. Advance reservations required. Check for offers on different lengths of stay. Subject to availability as the number of rooms allocated for this offer is limited. Limit two (2) rooms per reservation and five (5) people maximum per room. Not valid in combination with any other hotel discounts or offers. Subject to restrictions and change without notice. Separate theme park admission required to enjoy the parks.
To get a quote or book, email me at or fill out the Get A Quote form on my website.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Miscellaneous Walt Disney World Tips & Tricks Part 1-General Tips

This is the first part of a multiple part series of tips and tricks for your Walt Disney World Resort visit.

-All Walt Disney World Resorts now offer free Wi-Fi access and at least a beverage cooler (kind of like a mini-fridge but with no freezer compartment and not quite as cold).

-Want to stay connected but don’t want to lug your laptop on your WDW vacation?  Bring your iPad or other tablet instead.  Since all WDW Resorts now have free Wi-Fi, you can stay connected without all the extra stuff to bring.  Plus, your tablet will fit in the free in-room wall safe with room to spare for other valuables you may have brought.

-Are you flying in to WDW?  Getting from the airport to your WDW Resort and back again is a snap when you use Disney’s Magical Express service.  They’ll even take care of getting your luggage to your room for you (even if your room isn’t ready when you arrive).  The best part?  The service is complimentary so there’s no extra strain on your vacation budget!

-Don’t feel like lugging all those souvenirs you’ve purchased around the parks or while you check out Downtown Disney?  Just have them all sent back to your resort and you can pick them up at your resort’s gift shop or front desk.  Not staying on property?  No problem- park purchases can be sent to a package pickup point at the front of the park, then on your way out for the day you can just pick them up.  The cost for this service?  Nothing-another helpful freebie Disney provides.  Don’t think you’ll have space to take everything on your trip home?  No problem-you can arrange to have your packages shipped home instead, however there will be a fee for the shipping.

-Not interested in parades or fireworks?  Use that time to get in a lot of ride time.  With so many people watching the parades (especially the Main Street Electrical Parade) and fireworks shows, the lines for the rides during those times are much shorter.

-Have you ever parked your car at one of the WDW theme parks, then at the end of the night forgot the lot name and row number?  After you park, take a picture of the lot name/row number with your phone or digital camera (if your camera has a picture viewing screen) and you can just check it at the end of the day.

-WDW Resort Guests have the perk of Extra Magic Hours where they can either get into one of the parks earlier than guests staying off-property or staying at one of the parks later.  Once you find out which parks have those Extra Magic Hours, plan your days around that.  If you stay off-property you’ll want to avoid the Extra Magic Hours park(s) since they are normally the busiest park(s) of the day.  If you are staying on-property, you may want to take advantage of the Extra Magic Hours until an hour or so after the park opens, then hop over to a different park (if your tickets are park hoppers) for the rest of the day.  For evening Extra Magic Hours, take advantage of one of the other parks during the day, then you can hop over to enjoy the extra hours after the off-site guests have left.  I’ve found that taking advantage of the morning Extra Magic Hours is usually more productive than the evening ones.

-Want to relax for more than just one trip around Tomorrowland on the Tomorrowland Transit Authority (the Peoplemover)?  If there is not a huge line of guests waiting to board when you get back to the station, ask the cast member at the exit station if you can remain on... but DO NOT get out of the car until you ask. Once you exit the car, you’ll have to exit the attraction and then go thru the entrance again to get back on.  Usually if it’s not too busy, when you ask they’ll shut the door of your car and you can go back around again.

Stay tuned for the next installment...