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Monday, October 15, 2018

8 Underrated Disney Dining Locations You Should Try!

Guide4WDW.com

by: guide4wdw - Collin Kendall


8 Underrated Disney Dining Locations You Should Try! 

With the Disney parks continuously changing and growing year after year, it's almost inevitable that a few dining locations throughout the parks and resorts will "fly under the radar" of most guests. Those little known or often overlooked dining locations tend to be some of the very best food offerings in all of Walt Disney World. 

In my opinion, dining is a huge part of any Disney vacation. It's time to recharge after hours in the parks, a time to gather around the table with family or friends, and a time to create memories that you never quite expect. 

Disney dining, in many ways, has a unique way of bringing families together in ways in which we don't always take the time to do when we're at home and dealing with busy lives and different schedules that make it almost impossible to gather around the table as a family. To me, no matter how simple or how luxurious a meal is, a meal at Disney is a time to set the worries of life aside and is an opportunity to reconnect with those we care the most about. Often times it's not about the meal itself, or the theming, or even the food (as much as I love the food!), but rather just being there in the moment.

Today's list hinges on that thought process but we'll also be looking at some of the lesser known or largely overlooked dining locations and meals you should consider during your next Disney vacation. Our "underrated selections" aren't necessarily the least popular meals or even the tucked away gems of the parks, but rather the dining locations that many first time and even some returning guests walk right past or never even stop to consider before attempting to book the most popular table service locations or heading straight to the iconic counter service locations. We all have our favorites but you never know when something new may exceed your expectations and become a new favorite you return to year after year.  One of our goals when we travel is to try one new dining location each and every trip, and inevitably those new offerings become staple elements of future Disney trips.      
     
(Katsura Grill Gardens - #8)

1. Geyser Point 

Geyser Point is one of the few restaurants at Walt Disney World that I can say I've eaten at since it's very first days open to the public. We loved it from day one! The location is spectacular, the views are second to none, and their cheeseburger paired with waffle fries is one of the best burgers on property. The outdoor area, which is full of fans and moving air, is perfect for a sunset meal overlooking the water and is the ideal hangout spot for warm summer nights or those perfect Florida spring temperatures. 

The location itself is a unique set up. There is a bar present, but there's also designated seating for a table service-esque style meal. In addition to that there's a walk up counter service area which is great for a quick meal. The food is great no matter how you order or what you order. I have yet to try anything I didn't like. I you're staying at the resort, consider heading to the Boulder Ridge pool where a cast member will bring your order out to you poolside! For a full look at the menu check this out.    

(Geyser Point Late Night Views)

2. Garden Grill 

Garden Grill is one of those restaurants that has undergone change after change over the years. Some changes were good, others were awful, but now the breakfast is one of the very best family style breakfasts on property. 

A few years back, we gave Garden Grill a second chance when their breakfast meal time offering debuted, and despite previous bad experiences, it exceeded our expectations. In previous years we had been really disappointed in the dinner menu, but we had always loved the unique scenery of the restaurant and the subtle rotation of the dining area so that guests could peer down on Living with the Land below. It's an incredibly unique dining experience, but one that you hear very few things about in the online Disney community. If you've not tried it, be sure to add it to the list for your next Disney Vacation. The breakfast sticky bun is worth a visit all on it's own! Here's a closer look at the menu.     

In my opinion, this is the best table service breakfast in Epcot and while the price is fairly high, you do get the added bonus of it being a character meal for the kids in your group or those of us that are kids at heart. 



3. Pecos Bill Tall Tale Inn 

Moving over to a different realm of dining, Pecos Bill Tall Tale Inn is one of the best quick service restaurants in Magic Kingdom. The menu is relatively unique and features tacos, taco bowls, fajitas, and even nachos! The best part about all of this is that once you pick up your food there's a large topping bar to add as little or as much as you'd like to your meal. There's a variety of salsas, cheeses, and typical Mexican fare toppings and it is all kept incredibly neat and clean despite the massive crowds that can fill this restaurant during peak attendance days in the parks.

You may be asking why this is on our list if it's crowded on most peak attendance days, but the answer is relatively simple. So many guests wrote off this dining location when the menu changed from burgers and fries to tacos and Mexican food. I've always been a huge proponent of a broader variety of food in the parks. This location is an ideal example of that! As a result, if you're in the parks and want something other than burgers and fries, you not only have 1 alternative here but also Columbia Harbour House a short walk away with equally unique food that tastes great. Last but certainly not least, there's no denying that Disney food is expensive, but if you're getting food that tastes higher quality and is different than what you can find at other vacation destinations, it tends to make the cost more "worth it" in the end result. For a look at the whole menu check this out.       


4. Kona Cafe 

Kona Cafe over at the Polynesian has notoriously been a dining location that you can typically walk up and get a reservation for. There are some exceptions to that on peak travel times, but for the most part it's an overlooked hidden gem of a table service location. Kona often gets overshadowed by Ohana, but the food at Kona is much better than it gets credit for. The menu is unique and features a polynesian flair with the addition of pineapple and other citrus flavors into the food. It's a pleasant change of pace when compare to some dining locations on property. 

Personally, I love Kona. Part of that is due to the atmosphere as you sit on the second floor off the lobby in the Polynesian, you can see the monorail pass outside, and you can smell the classic scent of the Polynesian resort all around you. It's a great place to sit down and enjoy a relatively quiet meal before catching a monorail and making a quick trip over to the Magic Kingdom. 

One word of caution is that the menu here isn't quite as kid friendly for the less adventurous eaters out there. They do have kids offerings, but it's not going to be quite the same experience for kids as it is adults. If you're on the dining plan with kids, skip Kona and use your table service credit for a meal at Ohana instead. If you're traveling with adults and want to try something unique, Kona will not disappoint!       


5. Cape May Cafe

Cape May Cafe is honestly one of my absolute favorite buffets on Disney property. It is the pinnacle of great buffets and one of the cleanest buffets I've ever been to. There is literally a chef at all times wiping off the bar if a piece of pasta falls out of a bowl or a shrimp tumbles off of the pile. It's an unbelievable level of attention to detail. 

If you like seafood, and in particular crab legs, Cape May is a tucked away hidden gem dining location at Disney's Beach Club Resort just steps away from Epcot's rear international gateway entrance/exit. It's a fairly expensive meal, but one that will exceed your expectations. Reservations are typically plentiful and oftentimes even "day-of" reservations are available if you're flexible about what time you want to dine. 

We covered the entire experience in Our New Favorite Disney Dinner Buffet - Cape May Cafe article. 



6. Yak and Yeti  

Yak and Yeti is another dining review we recently put together in our article Yak and Yeti Restaurant Review - The Overlooked Gem of Animal Kingdom?. The food exceeds expectations and is a location that many guests completely overlook. The indoor table service dining is excellent and offers a great variety of asian cuisine while being a near perfect escape from the brutal heat of Animal Kingdom in the summer. Paired with the table service dining and offering some carry-over dishes, the adjacent counter service Yak and Yeti Local Food Cafes is a great option for those on a tighter budget or looking for a quicker meal that is almost as unique. The outdoor seating of the counter service location isn't ideal for the hot summer months, but if the weather is good it's a uniquely themed area that fits quite well with the overall experience of Animal Kingdom.  



7. Roaring Fork 

Roaring Fork over at Wilderness Lodge underwent a refurbishment rather recently and I have to say the resulting experience is a hidden gem dining location. With both typical resort dining quick service fair mixed with more unique options like chicken and waffles or a pulled pork sandwich the menu is quite varied but fits so many different tastes. As an added bonus, there is both indoor and outdoor seating. The outdoor seating is quite nice and underneath of a covered overhang that sits right next to the flowing waterfalls of the resort. 

Roaring Fork isn't quite as good as Geyser Point, a few steps down the path, it does offer a greater variety of food and is a touch more kid friendly. It is one of the more impressive resort quick service locations and one that I highly recommend visiting if you're staying at the resort or are at Magic Kingdom and want to escape the crowds for a few minutes. Not only is the food great but if you've not visited Wilderness Lodge before, it is well worth making the short (free) boat ride from Magic Kingdom over to grab a meal and explore the vastly intricate theming of Wilderness Lodge.      


8. Katsura Grill 

Katsura Grill is perhaps one of the very best tucked away gems of Epcot. As a little "hut" in the gardens of the Japan pavilion, Katsura Grill welcomes guests into a relaxing environment complete with sushi that sushi fans deem incredible. Personally I'm not a huge sushi fan, but it doesn't stop me from exploring this area. It sounds a little strange, but if you take the time to walk up the hill and to wander the gardens surrounding the restaurant, it's surprising how authentic the whole experience feels. At times, you don't even feel like you're in Epcot. It's incredibly difficult to describe in words, but the restaurant and surrounding seating area makes you feel like you're miles from the hustle and bustle of the city. It doesn't  make sense but it's well worth a visit!   


Your Thoughts

As always, if you have thoughts, concerns, questions, or even some tips of your own to share, don't hesitate to reach out to us on Facebook or your favorite social media platform. Give us a follow while you're there, and we'll keep the conversation going in the future. We're not the largest Disney community, but we're one that's there and one that listens. Thanks for reading and have a wonderful day wherever you are!

Need My Help?

Feel free to contact me with questions, comments, or free-lance work at Guide4WDW@gmail.com. If you need a landscape or theme park photographer, feel free contact me with photo requests or contracts. All theme park writing and photos will be assessed on a case by case basis. 

For anyone else looking to give me a shout or to have their questions answered by me, feel free to contact me anytime via that same email address! I never charge anyone to answer a question and I do answer all of my emails personally.    



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If you want or simply need a little bit of planning help to make your Disney vacation dream a reality, check out the quote request form below this article for our friends over at Destinations to Travel. They'll let you do as much or as little of the planning as you'd like and may even save you some money along the way! As always, thanks for supporting those who support us.

Ready to Plan?

Last but certainly not least, if you're starting the planning process, a great place to start are with some of our top planning articles! Looking for dining? Check out Disney World Dining Tips For 2018. Want to start with some more tips? 44 Excellent Disney World Tips for 2018 or Disney World Planning Guide and Tips For 2018 are a great place to begin! Looking to save money on tickets? Check out our friends over at The Official Ticket Center for great deals that even made it into our 2018 Discount Disney World Ticket selections and another great way to help us create more content through your contributions at no additional cost to you! You'll probably even save money along the way.    




Thursday, October 11, 2018

Disney World Budget Tips - How to Plan a Budget Friendly Disney Vacation

Guide4WDW.com

by: guide4wdw - Collin

Disney World Budget Tips - How to Plan a Budget Friendly Disney Vacation 


To be completely honest, before we really get into anything I plan on sharing today, it's incredibly tough to plan a truly "budget friendly" vacation to Walt Disney World. Budget travel and Walt Disney World don't entirely go together anymore and there's a few different reasons for that on Disney's end of the business. However, as many of you who have read these posts over the last few years may know, I don't like to be negative when it comes to Walt Disney World. I like to be completely open and honest, but at the same time being negative and discouraging towards a company we all know and appreciate in some way or another isn't going to get anyone anywhere and it isn't going change anything. 

Unfortunately, the days of $100 resort rooms at the moderates have faded away and have been gone for quite some time and off-peak seasons have become so unpredictable that trying to plan around the crowds is essentially a lost cause. In essence, I don't say that to discourage anyone from booking, but rather to share a true reality of Disney's situation. A lot of times their pricing strategies come off as aggressive but at the same time they're making great strides along the way that we may or may not see in the vacation experience at this time. Obviously this is just one opinion of many, but I don't see why you can't book a budget friendly Disney vacation still today if you go into it with some expectations.

If you're looking for our top itineraries, be sure to check out these posts as well for that information: 




Budget friendly is relatively. For years, a budget friendly trip to Disney meant a park hopper, a moderate or value tier resort, and driving to the parks from our home in Kentucky. Today, our strategy has changed just a bit and we tend to find more creative ways to embark into the deluxe tier of resorts by creatively booking larger villas with a greater number of guests in our party. It's not a solution for everyone, but it can occasionally minimize some costs for larger groups by spreading out the costs among guests. Honestly, our definition of a Budget Friendly Disney trip is a bit skewed in the grand scheme of things. We like to eat table service meals, and utilize the park hopper option, but while stating all of that, we haven't always had those opportunities. We rarely make truly budget friendly Disney trips anymore and that's largely because we've been spoiled by the Disney experience and will tend to save and pay more for certain add ons to our vacation. The kicker to all of this is that you don't have to do anything and everything that many returning guests will tell you are "must-dos."

Truth be told, a vast majority of guests will be more than happy with a value tier resort, single day tickets, and driving to Walt Disney World from their homes in order to save money. That's the kind of guest we're trying share some tips with today. For many of us who travel the "expensive" way, this type of write up tends to be an eye opener for a few ways that we can cut corners and potentially save a few dollars during our trips. So, without further rambling, we'll get right into it!                           

Pick Your Resort Carefully 


As touched on briefly above, your resort hotel accommodations are going to be one of the most costly aspects of your Disney vacation. Typically, I'd recommend saving about half your budget for lodging. It can be done for less and likely can be done for more but for a budget friendly trip try to keep it at or near half your overall budget (whatever that may be). To make that a reality, consider staying at a value tier resort. 

Value tier resorts are poorly named or perhaps expertly named if you really think about it. In one way, value sounds "cheap," but there's nothing cheap about these resorts. In my opinion, these resort rooms will hold their own when compared to just about any Hilton Garden, Hyatt, or Hampton style property anywhere in the nation. As with anything, there will be a few exceptions, but these resorts are really quite nice considering the price tag associated with them. So, in essence these really are value resorts when considering you get a great value for the price paid for the accommodations received, but they tend to get a bad reputation in the Disney community that they do not necessarily deserve.

If I had to pick a value resort my top choice would be Art of Animation followed closely by Pop Century. The reasoning is fairly simple. The bus situation is better than other value resorts, you avoid the sports teams that are ever-present at the all-stars, and both feature more appealing theming from my point of view.     

Avoiding Off-Property Resorts


If you know me, you know this is kind of a soapbox topic for me for a few reasons. I'm a firm believer in the "Disney bubble" and how it can heavily influence the joy of a Disney vacation for many guests. Being on property and fully immersed in the Disney Magic is something that has a transformative nature to it. It makes you feel like you've left the worries of the world behind and for a brief second were somewhere else without a care in the world. Second, I've tried it myself a few times and staying off property is rarely cheaper than staying on property if you plan on staying at an equivalent property. You CAN save a few dollars if you're very careful about where you stay, but from my experience staying a few different places, it is rarely worth the tradeoffs. When you stay off property you tend to face the following issues:

  • Resort Fees - Typically on top of parking fees
  • Transportation Costs - Uber, Rental Car, Poor Off-site bus services (sometimes free to guests)
  • No extra magic hours accept at a select few properties
  • Parking costs at the parks (unless you're an annual passholder) 
  • Airport transportation costs
Honestly, there are many others but the biggest issue for me is the time lost during your vacation and the convenience factor that is lost. Very little beats the casual nature of Disney busses. Sure, they screw up a route from time to time, but for the vast majority of the time, you walk to a bus stop, jump on the bus, and within 15 minutes you're back at your resort or your desired location without raising a finger. You don't have to have a car, and you don't have to fight the crowds of the parking lots unless you want to and it just makes life simpler and often times more cost effective in the end result. 

For another topic regarding this recommendation, be sure to check out: 


Talk to Someone Who Has Been to Disney World 


This one can be a double edged sword. It can be incredible to talk to someone who has been there before and can walk you through ways they have saved money in the past. The free water example below is one of the better tips I've ever received from a past guest, but other little hidden gems like that can make a huge difference in the end result. If all else fails, ignore their suggestions and you haven't lost anything but a few minutes of your time! 

On the flip side, be careful when you talk to repeat park guests (including me). Over the years we've been spoiled by "unnecessary" experiences that have inevitably become must-do experiences for us that we find ways to do time and time again. Perhaps the best example of this is resort transportation. Before I stayed at the Contemporary resort, I always loved the bus transportation. As a kid, I thought it was the coolest thing ever and enjoyed every minute of it. Today, after falling into the monorail and boat transportation trap, resorts offering such a thing are typically the ones I tend to book. Part of that is my personal motion-sickness issues presenting themselves over time, but at the same time it wont make or break your Disney experience. It's a "nice to have" not necessarily a "need to have" for most guests. If you've not experienced it before, you wont even know what you're missing so don't worry about making it a huge priority.       


Do Some Reading 


When it comes to Disney travel, there's always something to learn. I'd be lying to you if I tried to claim that I knew all that there was to know about Disney planning, and I've been touring the Disney parks my entire life. Guests share new things with me literally daily and I wouldn't have it any other way. Head to social media, or to your favorite yearly guidebook publication, and you may be surprised at what you may uncover. It's no exaggeration when people say that Walt Disney World changes every day. Truth be told, it likely changes faster than that, and even being immersed in the industry daily, so many things slip past me from time to time. 

In a similar way, you may uncover something you'll want to try out along the way that you otherwise never would have known about. 

Consider Driving (If It's Your Cheapest Option)


Unfortunately, this isn't an option for everyone but if you live within a 15 hour drive from Walt Disney World, you may want to consider attempting to drive to the parks. Depending on when you travel and who you travel with, a good old fashioned road trip may be a great option for your situation and could save you money along the way. Personally, I always recommend looking into the budget airlines just to see what may end up being cheaper in the long run than driving. There's a few different things to consider when attempting this. First and perhaps most importantly is if you will need to stop for an overnight stay during your drive. Also worth noting is that you should check all bag fees and airline fees before taking advantage of what may seem like a bargain ticket for air travel. From my experience, very few current rates beat Southwest airlines for honest rates and on time service if they fly in your area.     



Avoid Table Service Meals or Be Very Selective 


This point is incredibly difficult for me to make because I genuinely love eating at Disney World Table service locations. It tends to be a highlight of my trips time and time again, but if I really wanted to save money, I'd avoid this completely. Personally, that is incredibly difficult for me to do in practice, but it could save you some money. If you choose to go the strictly quick service route, you'll be happy with your decision because there really are some excellent quick service options that go well beyond cheeseburgers and chicken tenders you'd typically find at other theme parks. The food is great across the board a vast majority of the time, but if you're looking to get in a table service meal at a more budget friendly price I highly recommend looking into the following lists: 



Drink Lots of Water 




If you're thinking, "it's Florida, I know that!" that's not entirely the extent of my point on this one. At Disney it is vastly important to drink a lot of water. I can't tell you how many times I've been in the parks and seen the medical staff responding to a guest that has suffered a heat related dehydration issue of some sort. It's not something you want to happen to you and it's something that Disney does an excellent job preparing for and dealing with. But... nobody wants to face that concern during their vacation.

However, the budget friendly part of this is that water is free anywhere on Disney property that has a fountain machine for beverages. You walk up to the counter, ask for a cup of ice water and the cast member will hand one to you (no purchase necessary) with no questions asked. I've never really heard the reasoning behind this but from a guest perspective I can only assume it is an effort to keep guests from getting dehydrated or an effort by Disney to really cater to their guests in a fairly meaningful way. 

At quick service locations, this can save you around $3 per guest at times and if you're traveling with a larger family, it can add up quickly. Even with a four guest family, you're looking at saving $10 per meal. $10 per meal for a week long vacation is a pretty significant 
savings!
          


Shorten Your Number of Park Days


By mentioning this last I am saving the very best savings tip for last. It's hard to do, but if you can shorten your park days you can save a shocking amount of money. Skipping park days doesn't necessarily mean you have to avoid Disney. Enjoy your resort free of any additional charges, head to Disney Springs and enjoy a meal or some shopping, or go explore the Boardwalk over near Epcot and you may be surprised at how relaxing yet enjoyable your day can turn out to be without ever stepping into the parks. One of the most memorable trips I've ever taken to Disney was a trip that only involved 2 park days. It seems crazy and looking back on it now, I can honestly say it was likely one of my top 4 trips ever taken to Walt Disney World and it's among some tough competition. The "competition" even includes a club level stay, our first contemporary resort stay, and even our most recent 2 bedroom villa experience at the Boardwalk and it cost less than half as much overall.

This list isn't an all inclusive foray of options by any stretch of the imagination, but it is a great place to start! 


Your Thoughts


As always, if you have thoughts, concerns, questions, or even some tips of your own to share, don't hesitate to reach out to us on Facebook or your favorite social media platform. Give us a follow while you're there, and we'll keep the conversation going in the future. We're not the largest Disney community, but we're one that's there and one that listens. Thanks for reading and have a wonderful day wherever you are!

How Do I Create These Posts? 


Every once in a while I get questions about my gear. This is what I use and highly recommend at the moment in the realm of content creation. This list is varied and tends to change from time to time, but this is my current set up of gear used to create these posts. If you have any questions or need some tips in the site building process, feel free to message me on Facebook!

ComputerMacbook Pro  
If you get one of these you'll inevitably need dongles (The USB-C Struggle): 
Main DSLR CameraNikon D3400 (kit lens currently)
Tripod for Night PhotographyPrimaPhoto Traveler 
Photo Editing SoftwareLightroom 6 Stand Alone Version (Not Creative Cloud) 
Secondary Camera: iPhone 7 (Older Photos on the Site) 


Ready to Plan?


Let our friends over at Destinations to Travel (FREE - no obligation quote request form below) help you out at no additional cost to you! Here's a closer look at why I recommend an Authorized Disney Travel Planner!

Last but certainly not least, if you're starting the planning process, a great place to start are with some of our top planning articles! Looking for dining? Check out Disney World Dining Tips For 2018. Want to start with some more tips? 44 Excellent Disney World Tips for 2018 or Disney World Planning Guide and Tips For 2018 are a great place to begin! Looking to save money on tickets? Check out our friends over at The Official Ticket Center for great deals that even made it into our 2018 Discount Disney World Ticket selections and another great way to help us create more content through your contributions at no additional cost to you! You'll probably even save money along the way.

    




Wednesday, October 10, 2018

How to Ride 6 or More Attractions in 90 Minutes or Less: With Only 1 Fastpass+!

Guide4WDW.com

by: guide4wdw - Collin


How to Ride 6 or More Attractions in 90 Minutes or Less: With Only 1 Fastpass+! 

For many Disney resort guests, making the most of every minute they have in the parks is of utmost priority. So, on one particular trip to the parks we set out on a mission (as we usually do) to ride as many attractions as we could at the Magic Kingdom. Of course this strategy isn't for everyone, but if you want to ride as many attractions as possible during your vacation, this is certainly one tried and true method of doing so. 

In our particular scenario, we had roughly 90 minutes to work with. The park opened it's gates at 9:00am and we had a dining reservation at the Crystal Palace at 10:35am. We didn't really have a lot of time to work with so our first goal was to get there when the park opened. Of course, that detail of this report may be a little obvious to seasoned Disney guests who also use this or similar methods, but it truly does make all the difference. 



At nearly any Disney Park, the first 2 hours of the day are your best opportunity to really flow through attraction queues and ride many attractions without long waits. As always, there are a few exceptions to this rule, but generally this holds true. 

Considering the park we were working with, we planned our day based on a simple examination of typical crowd levels. For the Magic Kingdom in particular, the park is typically quite busy on Mondays and Fridays as a result of guests beginning their stay at that park or ending their time at Walt Disney World. As a result, your best bet for touring Magic Kingdom is to arrive at the park on Wednesday or Thursday. It won't make a drastic difference, but it will likely be a noticeable difference in wait times and the crowd building timeframes. 


In our situation, we chose July 6th as our park day as a result of avoiding the park due to insane crowds on the Fourth of July and it was Caitlin's birthday (our other occasional writer) on the 6th. All in all, the day worked out great, but here's what we did to achieve 6 attractions in 90 minutes beyond simply picking the park day.



First and foremost, as a result of the new opening procedure, which allows guests entry into the Main Street area before the official opening of the lands, we headed all the way up to the castle then claimed a spot near the rope blocking off Liberty Square. Many of you may be wondering why Liberty Square? Well, the general consensus is that most guests head to one of three areas when the park officially opens: Tomorrowland for Space Mountain, Frontierland for the Mountains (Splash and Thunder), or straight back to Fantasyland for Seven Dwarfs Mine Train. Our thought process was essentially to avoid the big mobs of people and it worked out flawlessly. 

When the ropes fell, we were standing in a group of roughly 15 people. We made our way through Liberty Square and around to Peter Pan's Flight before a vast portion of the crowd had waited for the walkway through the castle to reopen after the welcome show. As a result, we walked right on the attraction with no wait (marked 5 minutes). After that, we headed over to The Many Adventurer's of Winnie the Pooh and it was also a walk on, followed by a short journey over to the Barnstormer for another walk on (they were even letting some guests stay on the attraction and ride again - a practice which is becoming more and more rare). After that experience, we headed straight over to New Fantasyland, a few steps away, and rode Under The Sea - Journey of The Little Mermaid. It was also a walk on. 



At this point, these four attractions each had a virtually non-exist wait time on one of the busiest weeks of the year. Personally, I see the key to the success of riding multiple attractions quickly is to avoid the more popular attractions with slow queue lines. A great plan is to pick one "big ticket" attraction to do first thing and then move on to attractions that are less popular and have fast moving queue lines. Save your 3 fastpass+ selections for the more popular attractions (in parks that are not tiered in fastpass+ sections). Avoid crowd hotspots in quick succession, like Space Mountain or Mine Train, and just pick one favorite attractions and then bounce through many less popular attractions quickly. As many of you may know from experience these "less popular" attractions can also reach peak wait times of well over an hour at certain points throughout the day.  

At this portion of our plan, we had previously scheduled a Seven Dwarfs Mine Train fastpass for 9:35 to 10:35 and decided to go ahead and use it early on in our fastpass+ window. At this point, it was only around 9:55 and we had completed 4 attractions and were in line for the 5th. After the attraction ended, (believe it or not our fastpass+ was our longest wait time of the morning) we had a few minutes to walk down the hill to the Haunted Mansion for a quick ride through before breakfast. As we left that final attraction we got the chance to see The Muppets Present... Great Moments in American History show before making our way to breakfast. 




Honestly, if we passed on the show, we probably still could have rode it's a small world (believe it or not the attraction title is not capitalized) and easily made it to our reservation with the suggested few minutes early arrival. 

As you can see, you can follow as many crowd charts and special plans for touring the park all you want, but nothing really beats setting a plan of your own and doing a little bit of research before your day in the parks. Get there early, jump from ride to ride, and avoid any long queue that may have already built up a wait time. Keep moving for the first 2 hours the park is open, and you'll be amazed at what you can accomplish! 


As always, this is simply what has worked for us, and there are many "guides" across the internet that can help you create a plan for your day in the parks. Some guests may just want to go with the flow and relax through their park day and that's completely okay! This is simply a plan we've used many times and we thought we'd share it here with you! 


Your Thoughts


As always, if you have thoughts, concerns, questions, or even some tips of your own to share, don't hesitate to reach out to us on Facebook or your favorite social media platform. Give us a follow while you're there, and we'll keep the conversation going in the future. We're not the largest Disney community, but we're one that's there and one that listens. Thanks for reading and have a wonderful day wherever you are!

Need My Help?


Feel free to contact me with questions, comments, or free-lance work at Guide4WDW@gmail.com. If you need a landscape or theme park photographer, feel free contact me with photo requests or contracts. All theme park writing and photos will be assessed on a case by case basis. 

For anyone else looking to give me a shout or to have their questions answered by me, feel free to contact me anytime via that same email address! I never charge anyone to answer a question and I do answer all of my emails personally.      

Need a Travel Planner?


If you want or simply need a little bit of planning help to make your Disney vacation dream a reality, check out the quote request form below this article for our friends over at Destinations to Travel. They'll let you do as much or as little of the planning as you'd like and may even save you some money along the way! As always, thanks for supporting those who support us.

Ready to Plan?


Last but certainly not least, if you're starting the planning process, a great place to start are with some of our top planning articles! Looking for dining? Check out Disney World Dining Tips For 2018. Want to start with some more tips? 44 Excellent Disney World Tips for 2018 or Disney World Planning Guide and Tips For 2018 are a great place to begin! Looking to save money on tickets? Check out our friends over at The Official Ticket Center for great deals that even made it into our 2018 Discount Disney World Ticket selections and another great way to help us create more content through your contributions at no additional cost to you! You'll probably even save money along the   



Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Disney World Ticket Buying Tips for 2018 and 2019

Guide4WDW.com

by: guide4wdw - Collin

Disney World Ticket Buying Tips for 2018 and 2019 


Everyone visiting Walt Disney World will at some point typically need a ticket in order to enter the parks. Of course, there are many guests that simply enjoy the resorts and never set foot in the parks, but that's a scenario and story (which I've experienced first hand at Disney's Port Orleans French Quarter resort.) for another day. Disney World park tickets are not cheap by any stretch of the imagination, but we've thankfully found a few workarounds and best case scenarios that will minimize ticket costs and create a more budget friendly Disney ticket buying situation. As always, your mileage may vary utilizing these recommendations, but you can save money on Walt Disney World tickets in 2018 utilizing these helpful hints and special offers.    


Is a "Magic Your Way" Vacation Package Your Best Option?


The answer to this question regarding Disney World tickets is going to vary vastly from case to case. Sometimes Disney themselves will offer unique theme park ticket and resort accommodation combination offers that are worth their weight in gold. However, when they do create these specific combination deals, you almost always have to book your vacation as a package. By doing so, Disney largely guarantees that you will purchase everything from them and eliminate the "middle man." However, something you may want to consider is that these deals can sometimes be beneficial monetarily, but other times may end up costing you more money than alternative options. 

The first thing I recommend every individual looking to book a WDW vacation ask themselves is, "Can I get this cheaper elsewhere?" While these combination offers are great in a majority of circumstances, take a few minutes to look at other options before jumping on Disney's package offer. Head over to Disney's site and see what the best combination price you can find may be, no matter if it is discounted or not, and then head to a third party site like the Official Ticket Center, or even consult a travel agency, and compare your overall costs of each portion of the vacation expenses. Look into stand alone tickets, look at dining plan vs no dining plan, and compare each portion of the costs individually to develop the most cost effective vacation experience you can piece together. 

Disney's vacation packages are definitely an easy and convenient avenue, but in some instances it may not be the most cost effective option. Reach out to those in the industry with experience (Travel Agencies, Bloggers, Me, Friends, and Family) and see what saved them money. You may be surprised with some of the answers they come up with.   

  

What About A Disney World Annual Pass?


Annual passes are really an animal all of their own. For most guests they're a bit overkill when booking a family vacation, if I'm being completely straight forward with you. At one point I was a Walt Disney World Annual Passholder, and likely will be again in the near future, but we live in Kentucky. We do have the opportunity to travel to the parks quite frequently, which is wonderful, but certain years make the annual pass a better opportunity for us than other years. For example, last year we went to Walt Disney World in December and then returned for the Fourth of July. Unfortunately, we had not planned our July trip until after we had returned from our December trip. As a result, we did not buy annual passes. However, in hind site we certainly should have bought AP's because we gave away some money in not doing so.

As a rule of thumb, an annual pass will save you money if you intend to spend at least 4 days in the parks within one calendar year on two separate occasions. A 4 day park hopper ticket will typically cost you around $455 before the October 16th pricing changes (typically a little cheaper from non-Disney buying avenues) and a platinum annual pass will cost you $849. If you do the math, you'll realize you could potentially save a lot of money just by going ahead and buying the full annual pass. 

Of course, there is one main caveat to that great plan (isn't there always a catch?) and that is the initial cost of the annual passes. They are not cheap in any way shape or form and most guests will not have the means necessary to buy 4 or more annual passes for a typical family on top of the costs associated with the resort accommodations. However, there is one solution to the issue this presents. If you plan far enough in advance and book a vacation package through Disney, you have the option to upgrade your packaged tickets to an annual pass before you leave your resort and all it costs you is the difference in price. By doing this, you not only save yourself the financial burden of throwing a large sum on a credit card or other payment form all at once, but also allow yourself to take advantage of the package cancellation policy (explained below) that does not apply to stand alone tickets. There's also a discount on Disney annual pass renewals when yours inevitably expires the following year.    

Money Saving Disney Tips


Is it Cheaper to Buy From Official Disney Resellers?

Personally, I've heard this question time after time. To be quite honest with you, when you compare across the board one day tickets, the benefits of booking from a reseller aren't that pronounced. The benefits really reveal themselves when you either book multi-day tickets or if you are buying tickets for larger groups and the small savings really starts to build exponentially due to the number of guests. You receive the same discount, but a $2 saving for four guests amounts to $8 total, where as a $2 savings for 50 people accounts for $100 saved. 

If you're booking a longer stay, you'll want to consider Disney authorized ticket sellers. For example, occasionally The Official Ticket Center offers a 5th day free when purchasing a 4 day park hopper or base ticket. Disney rarely makes that same offer on their own, but it will save you money if it works for your vacation strategy and length of stay. 

As always, there are many other authorized ticket resellers (Undercover Tourist, etc.) and many will push out comparable offers to help create sales. You will be purchasing the same ticket you would have bought from Disney, but simply at a discounted price. 


Which WDW Tickets to Buy?

The reality of the entire ticket buying situation is that your needs may or may not align with certain offers and ticket buying scenarios. Personally that is why I recommend a good travel agency. Notice how I said a "good" travel agency. No travel agent should ever ask you to pay them for their services in my opinion. A vast majority of the time, agents work with Disney and other organizations to drive revenue through commissions. If an agent asks for money up front, you should take your business elsewhere or really consider doing so unless you have a special reaction to that individual. I mean no disrespect to anyone who offers such a paid service, but it's not in the guests best interest to book with a paid for travel agency booking when they could go elsewhere for no additional cost at all. A quote request form for my personally recommended agency is below this article, but I would feel comfortable booking with any authorized Disney vacation planner. They go through this ticket buying process daily and know the ins and outs of the best situation available for your vacation timeframe and can typically figure out exactly what works best for you.

In regards to length of stay and ticket length, I recommend first time and returning resort guests purchase a Disney 5 day park hopper ticket at a minimum. The Walt Disney World Theme Parks are vast and to be quite honest, there is no way to see and do it all. I haven't seen it all and I've been touring the parks for 19+ years. A five day ticket gives you the opportunity to see each park for at least one full day, plus it gives you the opportunity to return to any park on your last day to revisit favorite attractions or dining locations. Some of our top plans for touring the parks can be found here on the site and may be able to help you out (Each of these touch on different resort lengths of stay and even a few ways to save money along the way.)  



Additionally, a park hopper is a must-do add-on in my humble opinion. With the park hopper option, you can start your day at Animal Kingdom for Pandora, then when you wrap that up, you can head over to Magic Kingdom to view Happily Ever After that night. It truly frees up a world of opportunities during your vacation and creates an unrestricted park touring experience. Personally, this plays into our dining process more than anything. We love eating at Epcot and Magic Kingdom (especially during Flower and Garden Festival) so we start our day early at one park then head to a second park for a meal or a few attractions. The combinations are endless. If you're new to Walt Disney World, trust me on this one, it's worth the extra money, especially during longer stays for a majority of guests.        
      

Beware of Fraudulent Disney World Ticket Scams!

This is a key point when buying anything regarding Walt Disney World tickets. Disney parks ticket scams are everywhere! Everyone is trying to make a buck off of the internet now a days and theme park guests are taking a hit from it in a big way. Every year, some type of big scam gets shut down for selling fake Disney tickets to unknowing guests. My greatest recommendations out of this entire article are to never buy a ticket from anyone that does not proudly place the Authorized Disney Ticket Seller Badge on their site or within their retail location, never buy a Disney ticket off of eBay or Craig's list, and avoid any deal that seems too good to be true (because it is). If you arrive at the gates of the park and your ticket does not work and Disney finds out that it is a fake, they honestly will not care if you knowingly bought a fake ticket or not.         


Stay Longer to Decrease Daily Disney Ticket Costs

Disney created a plan years ago that rewarded guests who stayed longer with variably decreasing daily ticket costs for longer stay lengths. Many believe it was a ploy to keep guests from venturing beyond the "Disney bubble" to other parks in the area, and honestly it has truly worked in their favor.

A one day ticket to Walt Disney World seems increasingly expensive at first glance. However, after you reach a 3+ day ticket, the daily costs start to decline as a result of a longer stay. As a result, the cost of an extra day moving from a 9 day ticket to a 10 day ticket is a tiny (in the grand scheme of things) $10. Of course, while you are talking $435 vs. $445 at that point, which is a large sum of money overall, I'd gladly pay $10 for even a few extra hours in a park. The additional day costs aren't always that cheap but it is always the case for a 7+ plus day park ticket. Again, we don't quite know how that may change after October 16th with the new pricing structure

Long story short, if you want to plan a vacation, consider what it will cost you by comparison to head to Universal or Seaworld (or even Discovery Cove - As much as we loved that experience!) before you miss out on an additional day at Walt Disney World for much less money spent.        



Consider the Cancellation Policy When Buying WDW Tickets

As mentioned above, this is the one key factor to consider when buying any tickets. Tickets bought in a package, booked through Disney or an authorized travel agency, are granted the same cancellation policy as the package itself. By contrast, and likely the most influential point in this article, tickets purchased as stand alone tickets cannot be refunded. Even if you purchase those tickets through Disney, they will not be refunded.   

Final Thoughts on Disney Theme Park Tickets 

Hopefully this comparison of a vast variety of options and the realities of buying tickets at a discounted price has given you a better understanding of what all is available. One big factor to consider here in our parting thoughts for the day, is to buy your tickets as soon as you possibly can (with the exception of an Annual Pass. Wait and upgrade a ticket to one of those to avoid wasting days of the pass.). It doesn't matter if you buy the tickets in a package or as a stand alone buying option from any source, buy early in order to lock in your best and most budget friendly price. Disney has been known to increase ticket prices once a year, and if you wait too late you will have to pay the extra costs. Some years it changes very little, but it has increased every year for as long as I can remember. The key to buying early is that if you already have your tickets bought, you will be grandfathered into the new rate structure without having to pay any more, no matter when your vacation falls in the calendar year. 

If you're considering a water park day, be sure to look into the price of a stand alone water park day ticket price in addition to the Park Hopper Plus option. Depending on your length of stay, purchasing a water park ticket separately, if you know you will spend the entire day at the water park (which you likely will, they're amazing), can be the cheaper option. Water park tickets cost less than park tickets, so avoid paying for the park portion of the ticket if it is going to cost you more. If you're staying 5+ days, as we recommend above, it likely will not save you any money. If that's the case, simply purchase the add on option and use the extra time in the parks to head to another park after the water park closes to view a nighttime spectacular or catch a few extra attractions before the day comes to a close. 


There are a ton of variables in the ticket buying process, but choosing the correct options can vastly change the overall costs of your vacation. It may not be the most convenient option (unless booking through a Travel Agent which can compare them for you) but it is usually most cost effective to weigh the multitude of ticket buying scenarios. Every guest is different and expects a unique experience all of their own when touring Walt Disney World. I can't tell you what's best for your family, but hopefully this gets you in the right direction or gives you something to consider before your next trip! Thanks for reading, and have a great rest of the day! Enjoy this article? Be sure to join the Guide4WDW community

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