By the co-author of The easy Guide to Your Walt Disney World Visit 2019, the best-reviewed Disney World guidebook series ever.

Available on Amazon here.





Category — p. News and Changes

Free Dining for 2019 is Out!

Two new Disney World deals came out this morning.

One is a room-only discount and the other is Free Dining—the best-loved Disney world deal, out months before it usually is, and covering a longer period in the summer, but no dates—as of today—after September.

FREE DINING DEAL

Book through February 10, 2019

Valid for arrivals most nights July 5 through September 30, 2019

Package Includes

  • Room and Theme park ticket(s) with a Park Hopper Option or Park Hopper Plus Option, for which you will pay full price
  • Dining Plan (Disney Quick-Service Dining Plan with Value and Moderate Resort hotel packages; Disney Dining Plan with Deluxe and Deluxe Villa Resort hotel packages), which you will then get for free.

Among the hotels/rooms excluded from the free dining deal are Little Mermaid rooms at Art of Animation, All-Star Movies, Coronado Springs, Port Orleans French Quarter, and DVC rooms at Bay Lake Tower and the Villas at the Grand Floridian.

More on this deal is here.

ROOM ONLY DISCOUNT

Booking dates and valid travel dates:

  • Valid for stays most nights April 28 through September 30, 2019
  • Save 10-25% for travel April 28 to May 27, 2019 when you book through May 27, 2019
  • Save up to 10-30% for travel May 28 to September 30, 2019 when you book through March 24, 2019

In general, savings rates are higher at more expensive and less popular hotels, and less at less expensive and more popular hotels. Not all hotels or room types are included

More on this deal is here.

Many families do great with the free dining deal, but smaller families in more expensive hotels should compare the room-only deal, as it may be the better choice. See this for more–it’s out of date, but still explains most of the key concepts and savings.

The long standing travel agent partner of the site, Kelly, can book your vacation, and figure out the best deal for you! Contact her using the form below.

KEY PAGES FOR WHERE TO STAY AT DISNEY WORLD

 

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January 2, 2019   4 Comments

The Latest Update to the 2019 Edition of The Best-Reviewed Disney World Guide Book Is Out!

Josh (of easyWDW.com)  and I have just released (on Amazon, through Theme Park Press) the latest update to the 2019 edition of the best reviewed Walt Disney World guide book, ever, The easy Guide to Your Walt Disney World Visit 2019.

We did more than 30 pages of changes for this update—but probably the most important change is that our material and advice now fully incorporates Disney World’s new date-based ticket pricing approach. Other changes worth noting: all the recently-opened stuff at Caribbean Beach is covered, and there is a minor change to Day Two of the Character-Centric Two Day Touring Plan for Magic Kingdom.

If your Disney World guidebook does not know about lunch at Centertown or about the exact new model for ticket pricing and what it means for you, then cast that weak stuff aside and get our book!

Chock full of great advice for both returning and first-time visitors, the 2019 edition continues our tradition of offering the best, clearest, shortest, and wisest advice for your Disney World trip, ever.

It also continues our model of offering a free Kindle version to those who buy the paperback edition, and of free updates* (as PDFs) over the course of 2018 and 2019 (until we publish our 2020 edition), because Disney World changes faster than any guidebook on solely an annual publishing calendar can respond to.

I’ve already emailed those who have already signed up for getting the updated version of the book (unless I messed up).  For those who bought the 2019 edition but have not yet signed up for their updates, see the instructions you’ll find on page XII.

Our Disney World guide book series began in 2014, and since then has received hundreds of reviews on Amazon, 90%+ of them five stars. Some of our recent reviews:

More comments from my recent email traffic:

  • Michelle: “I’ve bought every one since the beginning of time 🙂 I appreciate all the hard work that goes into it!”
  • Jason: “Great book. My favorite Disney book. I’m one of the crazies that buy it every year!”
  • Fred: “A very interesting and helpful book!”
  • Andra: “Thank you for a great book!”
  • Cheryl: “Thanks for a fantastic guide that is both extremely helpful AND fun to read!”

No other guide book can claim to be the best-reviewed, ever, because no other guide book is as good as The easy Guide to Your Walt Disney World Visit 2019! Click the link to get yours today!

 

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December 4, 2018   2 Comments

The Holiday Season at Disney’s Hollywood Studios

For 2018, most of last year’s holiday additions to Disney’s Hollywood Studios are back, the holiday projections at Tower of Terror have been tightened and plussed, and the new-in-June-2018 Toy Story Land makes a strong Christmas statement (although the minor additions to it for the holidays do not).

So what we now have in this park is

  • General holiday decorations
  • Holiday projections on the Hollywood Tower Hotel (site of the Tower of Terror)
  • A Christmas Tree and substantial decorations in the Echo Lake area.
  • Toy Story Land, augmented by some minor plussing
  • The Jingle Bell, Jingle BAM! show

The total effect is to make Disney’s Hollywood Studios the most “Christmassy” of the parks other than Magic Kingdom, and if you subtract the extra charge items of Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party at Magic Kingdom, the Studios is actually the most rewarding park to fans of Christmas.

GENERAL HOLIDAY DECORATIONS IN THE PARK

You’ll find holiday decorations throughout Disney’s Hollywood Studios, including just outside the park, where bows decorate the Fantasia brooms…

…and along Hollywood Boulevard

HOLIDAY PROJECTIONS ON THE HOLLYWOOD TOWER HOTEL

The Hollywood Tower Hotel, best known until most of the year for screaming elevator riders, last year had four sets of holiday projections added to its facade.

This year the projections return, add lasers, and see the interval between projections shortened. The tightened pacing makes the sequence of four now work better as a show, rather than as background entertainment. And the lasers add visual appeal, kinetics, and panache.

While there is not much to the projections, when combined with other holiday decorations on Sunset Boulevard, they really amp up the holiday feel of this section of the park.

The entire effort is called Sunset Seasons Greetings, and highlights…

…Frozen…

…Mickey’s Christmas Carol…

…the Muppets…

…and Toy Story.

There’s not much to these–nothing like the action and subtlety of Tree of Life Awakenings at the Animal Kingdom, for example–but together with the other holiday decorations on Sunset Boulevard (and snow!), the overall impact is to turn this into a much more festive area of the park.

My co-author Josh has even more–and much better!–images on his site easyWDW.com here.

THE CHRISTMAS TREE AND DECORATIONS IN THE ECHO LAKE AREA

Hollywood Boulevard has always been delightfully decorated, but now so is the Echo Lake area.

The most notable addition is the Christmas Tree, which used to be outside the park…

…but Gertie now has a bit of holiday decor as well–snow and a Santa hat.

A closer view of the tree…

…and the tree after dark.

Echo Lake after dark.

On the Gertie side of Echo Lake you’ll find these decorations…

…and further counter-clockwise around Echo Lake, near Hollywood and Vine, these.

The same later in the evening.

Until now, Echo Lake has been a bit of a pass-through-without noticing area for me, kinda like (but not so dull as) Commissary Lane.  Gertie has historical importance, and the lake itself is cute and some find it to part of an enormous hidden Mickey.  But really, yawn.

The holiday decorations add a focal point and a coherent atmosphere that’s been missing here until now. You will still largely pass by the lake on your way to something else, but now it’s a delightful walk.

TOY STORY LAND AND ITS HOLIDAY ADDITIONS

The new this summer Toy Story Land (details here) has had a few minor Christmas additions.  While there’s not too much to the new stuff, the key point about Toy Story Land is that it is always entirely Christmas themed–and especially after dark.

After all, the main lighting concept of Toy Story Land is Christmas tree lights, and the land itself is filled with toys. What more could you do to suffuse the area with Christmas?

The answer is not much, which is exactly what Disney did.

You’ll find Woody with a holiday scarf…

…Buzz Lightyear with a Santa hat…

…antlers on Rex above Slinky Dog Dash

…some Christmas ornaments near Alien Swirling Saucers

…and a Christmas cookie outside the Andy’s Lunch Box.

There’s a few more items but in general as noted it’s not much. That said, Toy Story Land with its Christmas lights and toys is already very Christmassy, especially at night.

JINGLE BELL, JINGLE BAM!

Jingle Bell, Jingle BAM debuted at the Studios in 2016. Largely a projection show on the Grauman’s Chinese Theater facade, it’s not a tour de force, but is fun and clever.  It’s framed around the crew from Prep & Landing, but adds a million Disney animations and require no real knowledge of the framing show.

I cover Jingle Bell, Jingle BAM! in detail here, and my co-author Josh covers the somewhat disappointing dessert party associated with it on easyWDW.com here.

The Echo Lake and Sunset Boulevard decorations profoundly strengthen how well Disney’s Hollywood Studios celebrate the holidays, and Toy Story Land is always fun–especially after dark.  Don’t miss them!

 

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November 18, 2018   2 Comments

Disney World Tickets and Prices

On October 16, 2018, Disney World moved to a new date-based ticket pricing approach. (The former “Magic Your Way” tickets purchased before then are still usable based on the terms with which they were sold.)

New Disney World theme park ticket prices vary based on how many park days they are purchased for, as they always have; prices now also vary depending on the first day of use they are eligible for. Moreover, both prices and eligible use dates can vary depending on which ticket type you buy, and even how you buy them.

So you now have to make four decisions before buying your tickets:

  1. Buying as part of a package or separately, and if separately, on-line or at the gate
  2. Whether to go with a base ticket, a Park Hopper ticket, or a Park Hopper Plus ticket
  3. The number of ticket days you want
  4. Your targeted first day of eligible use of these tickets, and the first day they will actually be used to visit a park—which are not always the same dates

There are two bits of good news here. First, you can always add features to a not-yet-expired version of one of these tickets, so if you start with a six day base theme park ticket, and then decide halfway through your vacation that you really needed an eight day Park Hopper ticket, Disney World will allow you to pay the price difference to upgrade your base theme park ticket. So the risk of buying too little ticket is low. Second, you have me to guide you through the process!

To actually purchase a ticket, you have to know answers to all four of the questions above. But, because almost everything can be seen as a variant of the base “1 Park Per Day” theme park tickets, I’ll start with that, and then build on it.

WHAT IS A “1 Park Per Day” DISNEY WORLD THEME PARK TICKET?

What Disney calls “1 Park Per Day” tickets—which to save a tree I will call “base tickets”—are tickets good for one park per day for between one and ten ticket days.

On any base ticket day, you gain unlimited entrances and exits to one single theme park during its regular operating hours. So on one day you can go to Magic Kingdom, leave and return, and on a different day you can go to Epcot, leave, and return again. Despite some early rumors to the contrary, you do not have to specify in advance which exact days you plan to use which tickets in which park—you can go to any one park on any eligible day.

What you can’t do with base tickets is go to two different parks in the same day—for that you need the Park Hopper add-on, discussed below. For any given ticket length and eligibility period, base tickets are the least expensive tickets available to the general public.

WHAT OTHER DISNEY WORLD TICKET TYPES ARE AVAILABLE?

In addition to base tickets, you can also buy two types of add-ons to base tickets, and a third modifier to base tickets that takes out some of their restrictions. Beyond these base ticket add-on and variants, there are also some additional ticketing options.

The “Park Hopper” add-on gives you the ability to visit more than one park in a day. Returning visitors commonly enjoy the extra flexibility that Hoppers give them, but I counsel first-timers to only add them after they are sure they need them. Each Disney park takes more than a day to see, and travel between parks can take longer than first-timers might imagine.

Adding a Park Hopper costs an additional flat fee for the entire length of the ticket. For a one day ticket, it costs (including tax—all of our numbers include tax) $59. Adding a Hopper to a two or three day ticket costs a flat fee of $69.23, and adding it to a three to ten day ticket costs a flat fee of $79.88.

The “Park Hopper Plus” option is an add-on to a Hopper ticket—you cannot add it to a base ticket. It allows, in addition to the number of theme park days you’ve selected, and hopping among them, a specific number of visits to Disney World’s “minor” venues, such as its water parks, mini-golf offerings, and nine-hole golf at Oak Trails.

This add-on costs a flat fee of $26.63 per ticket, and allows you a number of visits to the minor venues equal to the number of days in your base ticket, except for one day tickets, where you get two. Returning visitors planning multiple visits to the minor venues—especially the water parks—can gain real value out of this add on, especially if they had already planned to buy a hopper. First timers generally will gain more value by focusing any extra time they have either on rest or on the theme parks, rather than on the minor parks.

The “Flexible Date” ticket is a variant of all the options above. Selecting it frees you from the narrow usage windows and expiration dates that the other options have—which we will discuss more below. These tickets expire December 31 of the calendar year after they are purchased, and can have their first use for any date in that window.

Because they can have their first use during any date in that window, including the highest-priced dates, they are priced a little higher than what would otherwise be the highest not-flexible price of the year.

The main other option available to everyone is Annual Passes, of which there are various types, which provide unlimited entry to the parks over most or all of 12 months. Narrower populations—most significantly Florida residents, visitors from the UK, and members of the US Armed Forces—can often find different or special offers. Check the Disney World website for eligibility, prices and terms of these.

HOW SHOULD THESE DISNEY WORLD TICKETS BE BOUGHT?

Base tickets and their add-ons can be purchased separately, or as part of a Disney World package that also includes a Disney World hotel room.

If purchased separately, they can be purchased on-line or at the gate. Tickets of three days or longer purchased separately will be $21.30 more expensive if purchased at the gate rather than online. Base, Hopper, and Hopper Plus tickets purchased as part of a package will be the same price as tickets purchased separately online, but have either the same or a better usage window than tickets purchased separately.

So if you are also planning to book a Disney-owned hotel room, in many cases it will be best to purchase your tickets as part of a package; if you are purchasing three day or longer tickets separately, buy them online.

WHAT ARE THE ELIGIBLE USE PERIODS OF THESE DISNEY WORLD TICKETS?

Base, Hopper, and Hopper Plus tickets must have their first day of eligible use identified before you can purchase them. Except for one day tickets, which must be used that exact day, these tickets come with varying usage windows—that is, for example, you don’t have to use a four day ticket on four precisely consecutive days. This lets you fit in days off, visits to other Orlando attractions, water park visits, etc., and lets you roll a bit with family or weather issues.

Base and Hopper tickets not purchased as part of a package have the following usage allotments: two and three day tickets get two extra days for use; four through seven day tickets get three extra days; eight through ten day tickets get four extra days. So if you buy a three day ticket whose first day of eligible use is May 3, 2019, you can use this ticket any four days of the seven day period that begins May 3 and ends May 7.

Park Hopper Plus tickets get one additional day of use—making it easier to fit the water parks or mini golf into your visit. So the three day ticket in the above example would be usable through May 8.

Base, Hopper, and Hopper Plus tickets purchased as part of a package get a usage period of whatever is longer—the usage periods noted above, or the length of the hotel reservation they are booked with, figured as the number of booked nights plus one. So if you bought the same three day May 3 ticket noted above as part of a seven night Disney hotel package, your usage period would be eight days (seven nights plus one), extending through May 10.

Flexible Date tickets have a usage period of 14 days—so you can begin the use of this ticket anytime during its eligible period (for tickets bought in 2019, that means through December 31, 2020) and use whatever additional days you bought anytime the thirteen days after. SO if you buy one of these, and first use it May 3, you must complete your park visits by May 16.

WHAT ARE THE PRICES OF THESE DISNEY WORLD TICKETS AND HOW DO THEY VARY?

If you buy Base, Hopper, and Hopper Plus tickets, the price of the tickets will vary based on the length of the ticket, whether it is for someone ten or older or three to ten years old at the time of their visit (kids younger than three are free), and, new as of October 2018, when the first day of eligible use is.

Prices per day always go down with longer tickets compared to shorter tickets with the same first eligible day. While the new date-based pricing means how much they go down will vary over the year, typically the least expensive days to add are days six through ten, each of which costs on average over 2019 just $11-13 per day to add. The first ticket day, and days two through four, cost an arm and a leg. Day five costs a hand.

Tickets for kids three to nine cost ~$5 to ~$20 less per ticket than tickets for those ten and older, with the larger saving applying to longer tickets.

More profoundly, the ticket price also varies depending on the first start date. In the longer ticket lengths—five days and longer—in 2019 prices for tickets of the same length vary over the course of the year on average about $75—that’s a $300 difference for a family of four. See the table for the price range by length for base tickets.

Basically, tickets are more expensive during the times when it is most convenient for families with school-age kids to go, so they will be typically higher during holiday periods, common vacation periods, and over weekends.

The most expensive tickets with price released at press time for 2019 are during the popular spring break week before Easter. For longer tickets, the least expensive tickets are during the common semester-beginning periods of much of January, some of February, and later August through most of September; there’s also a period in the first half of May that sees lower prices.

This chart shows in the yellow bands the range of 2019 base prices by ticket length. The red bar is approximately the price of a ticket of this length before the new scheme went into play. Note that the range of prices means that some times of the year four day tickets are more expensive than nine tickets are during other times of the year.

Shorter visits have a slightly less predictable set of higher and lower prices. Shorter visits whose eligible usage period includes weekends will see higher prices most times of the year than visits near the same time that include only weekday dates.

To see exact prices for your potential dates go to Disney’s website here (or navigate their from your My Disney Experience account—at the upper left, click “Parks & Tickets,” and from the drop-down menu, go down to “Admissions” and under it select “Theme Park Tickets”), and select your ticket type.

From there a monthly calendar will open. After you first select the number of ticket days desired, the calendar will show you the average daily ticket prices by first day of eligible use for every day for which ticket prices have been released. These prices are rounded, and pre-tax, but will illuminate for you the various prices for various possible start dates.

If you have many potential dates you could visit, then the chart below might be helpful for honing in on the lowest ticket prices during the periods available to you. It shows the rounded average price per day for every day of 2019 through December 16th of four different ticket lengths—four (blue), six (red), eight (gold), and ten days (black). (I selected this subset because if I included all ten possible ticket lengths, it would be a mess, and I do care about you).

I’ve also posted on an analytic calendar for base ticket prices.

In it, rounded prices that are

  • The lowest of the year for that ticket type have green fill and bolded black text
  • Ticket prices one standard deviation below the average prices of the year for that ticket type have green fill and black text
  • The very next higher price level has white fill and green text
  • Prices that are one (rounded) dollar below the higher prices of the year have white fill and red text
  • Prices one standard deviation above the average prices of the year for that ticket type have red fill and black text
  • The highest price of the year for that ticket type has red fill and bold black text
  • Every other price in between has black text and white fill.

The full analytic calendar is here.

WHAT FIRST ELIGIBLE DAY SHOULD BE TARGETED FOR THESE DISNEY WORLD TICKETS?

Because usage periods for all ticket lengths greater than one day are longer than the number of ticket days, and because average daily prices can be different from day to day, some may find ticket savings by picking as their first eligible day a date somewhat earlier than the first day they plan to be in a theme park.

For example, if you are buying a seven day ticket for a visit when you plan to be in the parks February 9th through the 15th, 2019, you could set your first eligible day as February 9th, pay $62/day, and be done with it. But you can visit the parks February 9th through the 15th with a seven day ticket that has its first eligible day as February 6th, and pay just $59 a day—not a huge difference, but if your group is larger, this can add up. An eight person family would save around $150 from this choice (and the parents should get a different hobby…)

Note that this won’t work if you are buying a package—if you have a package, your first day of eligible use will be set as the day you check in to your hotel.

WHAT’S THE PRICE TO ADD A DAY TO DISNEY WORLD TICKETS?

Back in the olden days—that is, before October 16, 2018—it was pretty straightforward to figure out the extra cost of a ticket a day longer. Adding a sixth through a tenth day cost a flat $10.65 per ticket per day.

Now that prices vary so much over the course of the year, you can only know for sure the costs of adding days by comparing tickets of varying lengths with the same start days. On average, the cost to add days six through ten is around $11 to $13, but for any specific date, it can vary from just a few bucks (e.g. going from a seven to an eight day ticket whose first eligible use day is April 26 costs $3.60 per ticket) to more than $20 per ticket—which is what adding an eighth day to a seven day ticket will cost for a first eligible use day of February 6.

WHAT’S NEXT WITH DISNEY WORLD TICKET PRICING?

When Disney World first announced that it would be moving to date-based pricing, there was some concern that, since resort hotel prices change over 2019 as much as 65%, that ticket prices might see a very large increase in effective prices for the most popular dates of 2019.

That did not happen—at least not so far. No date at any ticket length in 2019 is more than 20% higher than the lowest cost version of that length during the year, and 75% of the date/ticket length combos r for 2019 are less than 10% higher than the lowest prices of the year.

Moreover, these prices aren’t “dynamic.” That is, Disney World won’t be increasing say the June 11, 2019 prices just because Josh and I might be doing a book signing that day, bringing millions of people into the parks Disney had not planned for when it set its prices for that day. Current prices won’t vary with changes in demand—rather, they will only change with Disney World’s next price increase.

I would not be surprised to see a general ticket price increase sometime in 2019—perhaps just before the opening date for Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge is announced, or simply when Disney World has one of its moods. Moreover, I would also not be surprised to see much larger differences between the lowest and the highest priced times of the year for periods after Galaxy’s Edge is open—especially in 2020.

 

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October 21, 2018   5 Comments

Implications of Disney World’s New Date-Based Ticket Pricing

Disney World’s date-based ticketing system for theme park tickets came out yesterday, for all new tickets purchased from Disney, and for all tickets once authorized resellers like The Official Ticket Center run out of inventory of the old Magic Your Way tickets.

The new pricing approach is explained here. Basically, you pick a ticket type (for example, hopper or not) and a ticket length (e.g. six days). You can then see on a calendar the average price per ticket day for every day between now and December 16, 2019.

Here’s an example of the calendar for a seven day adult non-hopper ticket in February. What Disney shows is the rounded, pre-tax price for beginning the ability to use a seven day ticket on every day of the month, and every month through half of December 2019.

If you click a day (on Disney’s website, not here, you goober), you’ll see the un-rounded pre-tax price—for example, the period from February 8th through February 13th all shows a rounded number of $62, but if you click each day, you’ll actually find that the six “$62” days actually have four different prices. And don’t forget the 6.5% tax!

The effective price rises were not as devastating as some had feared, and for select dates and ticket lengths in January and February, prices actually went down a little bit. (Note that annual pass and parking prices went up as well). But my main point of curiosity was to understand how ticket prices varied over the course of the year, and how this might, or might not, change behavior—that is, when people go to Disney World.

To figure this out I used the rounded, pre-tax figures that Disney posted for 2019 for those ten and older, not using a park hopper—which gave me 3,500 data points. Lucky me, I then entered them all into a spreadsheet.

So take for example this screenshot of one day tickets for February. It’s interesting because it shows all four one day price levels (so far) for 2019—pre-tax they are $109, $114, $122, and $129.

Pay no attention to anyone who classes ticket prices into “value, regular, and peak”—they are missing a number, and moreover, I expect Disney to add a fifth one day price of over $130 as a “holiday” price for later December 2019. (The prices that came out today only went through December 16th—and no, that has nothing to do with the opening date of Galaxy’s Edge. Disney learned with Epcot not to set an opening date 15 months in advance…The famous line from Tishman about the too-early announced October 1, 1982 opening date of Epcot  was “It’s not the October 1 I have a problem with. It’s the 1982.”)

The average daily prices of longer tickets are related to the average pricing of the one day tickets available for the eligible periods the longer tickets encompass. It’s a little complicated, as while a one day ticket must be used exactly on the day selected, two and three day tickets have two additional days they can be used; tickets with four through seven days of park admission have three extra days, and tickets with eight to ten days have four extra days.

So for example a ten day ticket must be used by fourteen days after the start date you pick.

(Note that if you book your tickets as Park Hopper and More tickets, you get one more day, and if you book them as part of a Disney World package, your tickets will be valid for whichever is longer–these defaults, or the length of your hotel booking.)

Here’s a chart that graphs the average daily rounded price of a ten day ticket on the vertical axis compared to the average price of one day tickets over the fourteen days starting with the first day of the ten day ticket, on the horizontal axis.

As you can see, in general there are some pretty tight correlations between them, except for some tickets at the $49 level that overlap with $48 tickets—this comes from the anomalous pricing of June 30 one day tickets, which I can’t (yet) explain.

So anyhow I loaded all this stuff into a spreadsheet, and did some analysis of ticket prices by date.

  • The first takeaway is that there’s not a wild difference between the lowest and highest price over the course of 2019, for any ticket type. No ticket length’s highest rounded price is more than 9.5% higher than its average price; no ticket length’s lowest price is less than 7.8% of its average price. Differences in hotel seasonal pricing levels dwarf these date-based ticket pricing effects.
  • The second takeaway is how consistent these lower and upper percentages are across all ticket day lengths—I won’t publish these numbers as the errors created from my using rounded daily prices will dwarf their specifics, but the maximums and minimums as a percentage of average was very close across all ticket lengths.
  • The third takeaway is how well the ticket “price seasons” track to what you’d expect—at least when you get into the longer-length tickets. This can only be illustrated graphically.

This chart (which is not helpful, but which I include for completeness–the charts get better soon) shows the price of tickets as a percentage increase over the lowest price of that ticket type in 2019 for every ticket length and every start day.

Each colored line represents a different ticket length—so in this one, for example, the blue line that flies all over the damn place because of in particular weekend upcharges is the one day ticket price by date, and the well-behaved dark gold line is the more sedate 10 day ticket price by date. The ten day line is more sedate because, as discussed above, since it is affected by the one day prices of the 14 days beginning its first day of possible use, it averages out all “normal” weekend effects (as does any ticket whose use period is a multiple of seven days—we’ll come back to that).

More helpful is this chart, which tosses out one, two and three day tickets, and thus sees much less bouncing around.

But my favorite analytic tool is this chart, which shows four day, six day, eight day, and ten day tickets. I like this especially because it has two well-behaved lines—the 10 day line, as noted above, and the four day line (four day tickets get three extra days to use them, so the four day ticket with its seven day use period line also averages out normal weekend effects). The six and eight day lines add some gritty reality, and make the chart more broadly usable to my readers. This is the chart I expect travel agents to blow up and tape on their walls.

You can see pretty clearly in this chart the seasonal pricing over the course of the year, and it all makes immediate intuitive sense except July and perhaps late October-early November.

In January you see prices collapse from the 2018/2019 holiday season peaks (the holiday season in early 2019 extends to January 6th). Prices then ramp up for the period around President’s Day—long weekends begin on the Thursday before President’s Day, and many northeast school districts have the whole week of President Day off, and come to Disney World then—then slip back down until we see the first spring break peaks in later March.

Prices then go down again, and then, because of the late Easter in 2019, see a second spring break peak in later April. They roll back down in early May, but then build over the course of the month as they include Memorial Day weekend and summer rates.

The new Disney World tickets prices bump around more in the summer than I would have guessed. June 30, as I noted above, is an anomaly that affects the prices of tickets whose eligible dates include it. Perhaps Magic Kingdom is closing at 4p on June 30 for a blogger-only party that date? One day prices go up for the 4th of July, then down again on July 7, then up again on July 15—perhaps tying to South American winter breaks. Note that the effect on longer-length tickets of these changes begins before the actual date of the price increase, as its effects are averaged into the longer ticket.

Prices then go down over the course of August until they hit their second-lowest levels of the year late in the month, a pricing level that continues into late September. Prices then stairstep their way up into higher levels by the Columbus Day weekend, and stay largely at that level until we start seeing the effects of the Thanksgiving upcharges, which dominate later November, and, if you are pursuing a long ticket, start kicking in as soon November 12.

I would have expected to have seen more of a drop in late October and early November. If you look closely you can see such a drop in the shorter tickets, but it gets averaged away in the longer ones.

As you would expect, prices then drop in the lower-demand days just after Thanksgiving and in early December. Prices stop after December 16, but I would expect daily prices for later December 2019 to be on the order of $135—that is, about 5% more than December 2018.

The fact that your ticket price for longer tickets in particular will be influenced by an extra three or four days of eligibility for use will create some interesting questions for those booking their visit to end just before a price increase.

So for example, if you are buying a seven day ticket for a pre-President’s Day visit February 9th through the 15th, you could set your first eligible day as February 9th, pay $62/day, and be done with it. But you can visit the parks February 9th through the 15th with a ticket that has its first eligible day as February 6th, and pay just $59 a day—not a huge difference, but worth noting.

Another observation before I get to my big one is that “cost to add a day” has become complicated. Until now, the cost to add a day was straightforward—it cost for example $10 (pre tax, for consistency) to add an eighth day to a seven day ticket any time of the year.

Now, the cost of the eighth day is affected by the variable one day price not just of that eighth day but also of one more day, as seven to eight days is the break point for between three and four extra days to use your tickets. Depending on when in the year you add it, adding an eighth day will cost anywhere from next to nothing to $27.

On average over the year, adding a second day to a one day ticket costs about $100, adding a third day to a two day ticket $96, a fourth day $84, a fifth day $17, and a sixth through tenth days $10-$12 each. This average roughly follows the patterns of prior years. But date-based effects mean that your actual mileage to add a day will vary, A LOT.

Back to the beginning—my main curiosity on the new Disney World date based pricing was whether the differences between lower cost and higher cost vacations would be enough to drive people in big numbers out of lower-crowd days and into higher-crowd days.

But with variations of just +/- ~10% around average prices in 2019, and, as you can see on the charts, most dates seeing ticket prices between in the narrow range of 3% to 11% higher than the lowest of the year (for example, ~76% of the released prices for five day tickets in 2019 are between 3 and 11% higher than the lowest of the year, with about 12% of dates either above or below those levels), I just don’t see enough energy in these prices to have much effect on park date choices.

Yes, I do think more people will choose less expensive dates, and avoid more expensive ones, than when ticket prices did not vary by date, but not enough to profoundly shift the crowd patterning that we’ve seen over the past few years.

At least for 2019, and at least as long as the current set of prices remains in place, I see them as having more the effect of increasing Disney’s monetization of highly-demanded periods than materially shifting crowds away from them.

That said, Disney can change prices and offer 3,500 more data points for me to play with at any time, and likely will once it has better visibility into the opening date of Galaxy’s Edge, or simply has one of its moods.

With all the focus on the late 2019 open of Galaxy’s Edge, we sometimes forget that 2020 will be the year of Star Wars. I see 2019 date based pricing as a way to test the effect of +/- 10% price changes on crowds, and for Disney to use its learning from that to figure out how to use 2020 prices to really push people into lower crowd times, so that Star Wars waits don’t exceed 24 hours… Expect to see much sharper price differences in 2020.

All the data is in a spreadsheet that you can download by clicking the link. And the long-time travel agent partner of this site, Kelly, can help you book–or avoid–any date! Contact her using the form below!


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October 17, 2018   9 Comments

The Re-Imagined Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort

Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort emerged (mostly) last week from an almost 18 month long construction project, and is now once more a great choice among Disney’s moderate resorts.

Highlights of the re-imagined Caribbean Beach include

  • The shift of the main entrance from Buena Vista Drive to Victory Way, near Jamaica
  • The abandonment of the Custom House (and its bus stop), with all check-in and concierge service moved to the much more central and convenient Old Port Royal area
  • The loss of nine accommodations buildings, a bus stop—and 576 rooms—in the old Barbados section and the more distant part of Martinique, reducing the resorts’ capacity by more than 25%–meaning popular amenities, like the wonderful Fuentes del Morrow pool, have fewer guests competing for them.
  • The renaming of the old, confusingly named (especially for the dyslexic, like me) Trinidad South and Trinidad North, to Barbados and plain old Trinidad.
  • A complete redo of the bar, dining options, and gift shop. The needs for each of these has been served by so-so temporary replacement over the last 18 months, but that’s now over, and Caribbean Beach is back to being a full-service resort. The early reviews of the brand-new waterside table service venue, Sebastian’s Bistro, have been astonishing.
  • In addition, the opening of an all-new counter service venue in Trinidad, deeply changing the attractiveness of this more isolated village.

Still to come at Caribbean Beach is the Disney Skyliner, a gondola that will connect the resort with Epcot and Disney’s Hollywood Studios later this year. The station will be just south of Jamaica, and across from Trinidad, making these villages more attractive places to stay (Jamaica is already a great choice) after it opens.

I’ll have more to say and show about Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort after my next stay here—my tenth—over the Veterans Day weekend.

But in the meantime, I’ve fully updated my review of Caribbean Beach, which begins here and include all the following pages:

The long-time travel agent partner of this site, Kelly, can book you into Caribbean Beach–or any other Disney World hotel.  Contact her using the form below:

 

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October 14, 2018   1 Comment