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 — Uncategorized

Date-Based Ticket Pricing Soon to Launch at Disney World

As has been expected for some time, Disney World yesterday announced that theme park tickets purchased October 16 or after will have varying prices based on the start date of the ticket.

The prices themselves were not announced—that’s expected on the 16th itself, although rumors, some accurate, will come out before then. Many were confused by apparent prices being used in an explanatory video—even though every image in that video had material like the following:

The way it will work is that ticket purchasers first select a ticket form or type.*

You choose from among the current ticket types:  “regular” one park per day tickets, “hopper” tickets that allow visiting different parks in the same day (multiple visits in a day to one park are covered by “regular” tickets), or “hopper plus” tickets that also include pre-paid admission to the minor parks (waterparks, mini-golf, etc.).

The next choice you make is how many park days.

With these two choices in hand, you then pick your first possible day of use from a calendar that shows average daily prices by start day for a ticket of the already-selected form and number of days.

With a date clicked, the cost per day is highlighted…

…and the system will then show the total cost of the tickets…

…and also the days the tickets are eligible to be used.

Except for one day tickets, these tickets have eligibility ranges greater than the actual number of park days that can be used. Two and three day tickets have two extra calendar days they might 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.

This allows guests some flexibility for off days, visits to other Orlando attractions, or for working around family, illness, or weather issues. It also allows, I would guess, for a bit of start-day arbitrage for guests who are willing to give up some flexibility.**

For guests with calendar flexibility, the system will also let you seek low cost days…

…and for those who want to lock into a set of tickets and not worry yet about start dates, an option to pay more for flexible dates will also be available. This option also provides the longest date range of eligible use—fourteen days—regardless of the actual number of days in the ticket.

Disney has two intentions behind this change.

  • One is to shift guests from higher-wait periods to lower wait ones, thereby increasing the satisfaction of the shifted guests (though not that of those who had already planned to go those dates because they held the promise of be see lower crowds)
  • The second is to extract more value from those who, regardless of pricing, choose the more popular dates

Both these have already been in place at Disney World in some fashion for years. Resort prices have worked this way from time out of memory. And over the last three years, Disney World has restructured the prices of its various types of annual passes to shift many people into lower-cost pass options that block out many of the most popular dates—resulting, for example, in starkly lower summer waits the past three summers.

The new approach to date-based pricing is much less complicated than many had feared it would be. Yes, you need to pick a date or pay a premium for flexible dates—but you always have had to pick a date; this new approach will simply incent that choice to even earlier. And yes, you will pay higher prices for some dates than others, even if you have no real choice in your dates—but this has also always been true for hotel prices.

The impact on park waits is still to be seen, and will be partly shaped by the actual price differences among dates. Higher price differences will level out crowds across the year to some as-yet unquantifiable extent, making formerly bad dates better and formerly good dates worse, although the impact is yet to be seen and good daily planning will still pay off quite a bit. Lower price differences will have less impact on the flow of crowds across the year.

 

*All screenshots are from Disney’s video here.

**For example, say you plan to be in the parks for three days, on exact dates—e.g. February 3 through February 5. The two extra calendar days your ticket can be used on a three day ticket means your start dates could be February 1, February 2, or February 3. If you are willing to give up the option to use your tickets on February 6 or February 7, then picking February 1 or 2 as your start day, rather than February 3, in some scenarios might save you some money.

 

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September 25, 2018   13 Comments

Hollywood Studios Day 1 Disney World 2018 FastPass+ Basic December Itinerary

(Note: this is from the 2018 Basic December Itinerary. The itinerary works only for the four weeks beginning the Saturday after Thanksgiving 2018.)

HOLLYWOOD STUDIOS DAY 1: MONDAY AGENDA

You will begin your visit to Disney’s Hollywood Studios today, completing it Wednesday. Two days is  more than enough time, so, thanks to FastPass+, you get to take the later afternoon off each day.

You should have FastPass+ for Toy Story Midway Mania, Star Tours, and the Frozen Sing-Along.

FIRST THINGS

  • Arrive at Hollywood Studios by 45 minutes before open

AT THE PARK

  • At arrival, pick up a guide map and “Times Guide” and head to straight to Toy Story Land. See Alien Swirling Saucers.
  • See Toy Story Midway Mania (FP+)
  • See Muppet Vision 3D
  • See the Frozen Sing-Along  (FP+)
  • See  Star Tours  (FP+)
  • Look for additional FastPass+ to use either before you return to your hotel (Indiana Jones and Beauty and the Beast are good choices) or when you come back in the evening for the Jingle Bell, Jingle BAM or Star Wars show (check the Times Guide to confirm which is showing and when)
  • See the noon Indiana Jones stunt show
  • See the 1p Beauty and the Beast show
  • Head back to your hotel
  • Return to the park, arriving no later than 45 minutes before your evening show (or earlier if you got another FastPass+ for this evening)
  • See the evening show

PREVIEW OF TOMORROW

Tomorrow you have the morning off, then will continue your visit to Epcot, and then shift to the Magic Kingdom.

MATERIAL IN THIS DISNEY WORLD ITINERARY

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May 23, 2018   No Comments

More Disney After Hours in Later 2018

Disney After Hours is an extra-cost opportunity to be in the Magic Kingdom with very few other people, and for three hours to ride the best rides (not all are open, but most are) with in most cases next to no waits–but expect minor waits at Peter Pan and Seven Dwarfs Mine Train.

Debuting in 2016, Disney After Hours also was scheduled in 2017 and for earlier in 2018–click the links for my reviews of each.

Last week, Disney World announced more Disney After Hours for 2018, with the following dates and times:

  • Thursday, June 28, from 10p- 1a
  • Saturday, June 30, from 10p- 1a
  • Saturday, July 7, from 10p- 1a
  • Monday, July 9, from 10p- 1a
  • Saturday, July 14, from 10p- 1a
  • Saturday, July 21, from 10p- 1a
  • Saturday, July 28, from 10p- 1a
  • Saturday, August 4, from 10p- 1a
  • Saturday, August 11, from 10p- 1a
  • Thursday, August 30, from 9p – 12MN
  • Thursday, September 20, from 9p – 12MN.

I’ve been a fan of DIsney After Hours for returning visitors who can afford it, as it provides the opportunity to see beloved rides with (mostly) very short waits.

However, the summer 2018 Disney After Hours schedule has a couple of issues.

First is the 1op to 1a time frame.  To get full value out of the event and see the lowest waits, especially in Fantasyland, it’s best to stay through the end, but that may be hard for those with younger folks, and will certainly make an early start the next day a rough go.

Second, for the first time they are scheduled on Saturday nights.  The Saturday night events may be more likely to sell out than the Thursday and Friday nights that have been part of the offer in the past.

So at least for the Saturday night offerings, I’d qualify my recommendations for these a bit.  If you can stay all the way through, don’t need an early start to the next day, and are willing to put Fantasyland off until the last hour, they likely will be terrific.  But if you can’t commit to this approach, I think I’d wait to book a Saturday night until some reviews of the waits come out.

Disney’s page on Disney After Hours is here.

Kelly B Can Help You Book Your Trip

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May 9, 2018   2 Comments

easy Guide March Update

UPDATED EDITION OF THE EASY GUIDE

Amazon has released the updated version of my and Josh’s The easy Guide to Your Walt Disney World Visit 2018, the latest edition of the best-reviewed Disney World guidebook in history.

We first published the 2018 edition in late August 2017, updated it in November, and updated it again with almost 50 pages of changes in early March 2018.

If you bought the 2018 edition you get this update (as a PDF) for free! If you’ve already sent in your email, we’ll start sending instructions on how to get the updated PDF this week.

If you bought the 2018 edition but have not yet forwarded your Amazon confirmation, then quit fooling around and get it to us! Here’s the instructions:

And if you haven’t bought it yet, what are you waiting for?

We’ve had almost 300 reviews of this Disney World guidebook series on Amazon, and more than 90% are five stars. You won’t find more informed, more thoughtful, more experienced, more judicious or more silly companions to the Disney World parks, resorts, or dining venues than me and co-author Josh. Ours is the most accurate and most up-to-date Disney World guidebook you can find.

“Even though I live in Florida and used to work in Guest Services at Disney, I truly enjoyed the read! As a Disney Cast Member, I would follow their blogs, and the very thorough overviews and photos that they provide of events, resort properties, new dining, etc., were hugely helpful to me in my role interacting with Guests and answering their questions. Dave and Josh are pros at finding ways to maximize the efficiency (and therefore the fun and stress-free enjoyment) of a Disney vacation. The book is serves as a great resource for anyone who will be visiting the parks and resorts. They provide fantastic overviews of all the resorts and restaurants, and their suggestions about when to visit and what to do are spot-on.” –Jean

Here’s the key changes in the March update:

Chapter 1: How to Use This Book

Chapter 1 has three purposes: introduce the rest of the book, summarize our recommendations for first-timers, and indicate what’s new for returning visitors.

Pursuing the third purpose, the big news of the rest of the update to the book is also noted here:

  • The opening date of June 30 for Toy Story Land
  • Seasonal pricing for multi-day tickets to come “later in 2018,” and
  • The addition of FastPass+ at 60 days for Shades of Green, Extra Magic Hours for the Four Seasons, and both for the Disney Springs Resort Area hotels

Chapter 2: Why Age and Height Matter

The only material change here was the upcoming closure of the Children’s Activity Centers. We went to press before the Pixar thingy at the Contemporary was announced.

Chapter 3: How Long to Stay

The prices in this chapter are updated to reflect the ticket prices that came out in February. In some cases, the cost of adding a day actually went down.

Chapter 4: When to Go

Little changed in this chapter—we went to press after the start date for the Epcot International Food and Wine Festival (August 30) was announced.

Chapter 5: Where to Stay

  • We updated the hotel advice and reviews of this chapter based on the additions of FastPass+ at 60 days and Extra Magic Hours to the various hotels noted above
  • We also updated the refurb status of various hotels–e.g. the Dolphin, Pop Century, Caribbean Beach, Coronado Springs, Port Orleans French Quarter
  • The announcement that the Disney resorts would charge for overnight parking for trips booked March 21 or later came out after we went to press

Chapter 6: How to Spend Your Time

We made dozens of changes to this chapter, our most important. Most were minor—but not all. A few worth noting

  • A new entry on UP! A Great Bird Adventure, to debut at Disney’s Animal Kingdom on April 22
  • Multiple revisions to the Hollywood Studios material related to challenges you’ll find seeing Toy Story Mania between now and when Toy Story Land opens on June 30, including a recommended touring plan for dates when FastPass+ for it can’t be booked
  • Changes to FastPass+ priority at Magic Kingdom

Chapter 7: Where to Eat

“Where to Eat” always sees a ton of changes when we update because of Disney World’s constant pricing and menu changes. In addition

  • We note that Dining Plan users can now use the plan to pay for Mobile Orders
  • We introduce the dining options to come in Toy Story Land
  • We note the coming two-credit prix fixe dinner menu coming July 27 to Be Our Guest
  • We revise the entry on The Edison, and add new entries for Ale & Compass, Enzo’s Hideaway and Maria & Enzo’s Ristorante

Chapter 8: Which Tickets to Buy and What to Budget

We’ve revised all the material in this chapter to reflect

  • The new ticket prices announced in February
  • The move of Disney later this year to seasonal pricing for multi-day tickets

Chapter 9: How to Set Everything Up and Get Everything Done

We revised the To-Do lists in this chapter to reflect the addition of more hotels to 60 day FastPass+ eligibility.

Chapter 10: Where to Go Next

We made no significant changes to this chapter, as the places to go next remain easyWDW.com and yourfirstvisit.net!

We pride ourselves on having the most accurate and up-to-date guidebook available, and updates like this are what make that come to life! Already have yours?  Then write us a five star review on Amazon!

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March 14, 2018   No Comments

Buy Your DIsney World Tickets Now?

Tom Corless at WDW News Today is forecasting that Disney World ticket prices will go up on Sunday February 11.

He’s also published his expected new prices, which for his examples represent increases of 5-15%.

If you buy your 2018 tickets now, you will avoid these increases unless you later add something to them (e.g. a day or a hopper) or combine them into a newly-purchased package.

For a family of four buying  longer tickets savings could exceed $200, if the higher increases remain at these forecast levels.

If prices do not go up Sunday, they likely will go up later this month. So it can’t hurt to buy them now.

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February 9, 2018   No Comments

The Pools at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa

For the first page of this review of Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa, click here.

THE POOLS AT DISNEY’S GRAND FLORIDIAN RESORT

Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort has two pools and a kids splash area.

The principal pool at the Grand Floridian, the Courtyard Pool, is among the accomodations buildings.

It’s the only principal pool at Disney World not aimed at kids, and is marketed by Disney as “tranquil.”

The Courtyard Pool at night.

There’s also a hot tub here…

…and a pool bar…

Pool Bar Menu Disney's Grand Floridian Resort from yourfirstvisit.net

…with an extensive menu. See the current menu here.

On the far east side of the resort is a more kid-friendly pool/water play area. There’s an Alice in Wonderland-themed water play area here.

The play area at night…

…and also a second pool, the more kid-friendly the Beach Pool…

…with a slide…

…and another bar. The menu for the Beach Pool bar is here. I particularly recommend the Crab Cake Sandwich.

The Beach Pool in the evening.

The actual beach here.

A fire pit in the beach area is used for making S’mores in the evening.

Movies on the Beach at Disney's Grand Floridian Resort from yourfirstvisit.net

Movies are shown on the nearby beach most evenings.

Most of the deluxe resorts have a better suite of pools than these, but they function perfectly adequately for a visit.

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January 22, 2018   No Comments