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Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Our Picks For the Best Disney World Dining Plan Restaurants in 2018


by: guide4wdw - Collin

Our Picks For the Best Disney World Dining Plan Restaurants in 2018

Today, we're taking a closer look at the Dining Plan at Walt Disney World and what we see as some of the best value for your dining credit offerings in the realm of Walt Disney World dining opportunities. As with anything Disney, every individual guest is going to have their own particular preferences and that's one of the main reasons I recommend trying any restaurant on property and attempting to do so with an open mind at least once before passing judgement on the particular location. 

Honestly, we're typically those Disney guests that tend to repeat our favorite dining locations time and time again, but at the same time we strive to try at least one entirely new dining offering each and every time we visit Walt Disney World. With that being said, we are inevitably bias towards a few of our favorites and truth be told we enjoy Disney buffets more than the average guest, but it tends to be what works for us. Of course, we do try various table service offerings in a more classic since and a few even made our list today, but don't be surprised if you see a buffet or family style offering pop up along the way. Truth be told, that's really the only foreword we should really add to this post before we dive right in. 

Is The Disney Dining Plan Even Your Best Dining Option

It is worth mentioning that over the years we have largely avoided the dining plan. If you really think about it, most guests are buying the dining plan for one of two reasons (of course there are a few exceptions): 1. convenience or 2. perceived savings. 

The first option is perhaps the most beneficial facet the Disney dining plan expertly brings to the table and quite possibly should be the selling point for of the plan altogether. I will say, more than anything else, the Disney Dining plan is outstandingly convenient. You don't have to worry about hidden meal costs, or setting aside a budget for that part of your vacation once you arrive at the parks, or even be too concerned about knowing what your dining will cost. Disney sets up the payment for you and essentially you have a set number of what your vacation is going to cost before you ever leave home. It's incredibly convenient, but also features on major caveat in my opinion. 

Unless you plan on a focus of your vacation being dining, a vast majority of guests will not and likely can not physically eat and enjoy all that is provided on the regular dining plan. It's a ton of food, and if you know that and want that going in, by all means enjoy the dining plan. We've done it before ourselves and sometimes that turns out to be a perfect trip, but don't fall into the perceived savings mindset that we mentioned as our second reason. 

A shocking amount of guests have told me over the years that they thought the dining plan was going to save them money. Honestly, for a vast majority of guests that isn't going to be the case and that is likely one of the biggest reasons Disney does not market it in that way. If you really break it down and order all high priced menu items, use every single snack credit you are provided, and really go all out on the dining plan, the numbers typically come out to within a few pennies of what you would have spent out of pocket if bought the exact same thing. That's the kicker to the whole thing. Most guests are not going to buy as many meals and snacks when they're paying for it directly out of pocket compared to the meal plan. 

Personally, I don't want to tell anyone what's "best" regarding the Disney dining plan or avoiding the Disney dining plan, largely because that is a question that I can't answer. We've had excellent trips doing things both ways. Chances are you'll save money by avoiding the plan, but at the same time it's quite difficult to put a price on the convenience factor. Overall, I'd say do your research and figure out what is going to be the better option for your situation. Every single guest is going to travel just a little bit differently and it's something I'd recommend considering for sure, but also recognize that it's not a make or break decision in the overall Disney World vacation experience.    

With all the little details out of the way, here's a few of the locations that we see as top Disney World Dining Plan Restaurants for your dining plan credits! 

Table Service Disney Dining Plan Offerings

Table service is typically the place where you can really make the most of your dining plan offerings. Table service is typically a high priced meal on property and most of the time you can order anything on the menu when you're utilizing the Disney dining plan credits. For many, this is where the plan shines. Many guests, including myself, will either order something they never would have paid for directly out of pocket if they visited the restaurant previously or they will choose to try something entirely new just because it's already paid for.  Of course, you are paying for it in a round about way, but it's not quite the same shock when you receive the bill for the meal. 

If you notice below, there's on main caveat to our list and that is that you will not find any 2 credit signature restaurants on our list. While those are outstanding meals, the fact that the offerings essentially replace another table service meal has and always will be hard for me to rationalize. In my mind, if I'm going to potentially give up an additional table service meal for a two credit signature offering, that one meal is going to have to be near equivalent in price to make it worth it. For me it's hard to give up two $40 meals and accompanying meal experiences for a single offering elsewhere. For some guests, that may work out great for you, but it's not something I would personally recommend. 

The Crystal Palace

Crystal Palace is and likely always will be a top pick for my family. For us, it is the perfect array of options. There's something on the buffet that all of us like and just about every guest will find something they really enjoy from the lineup of options on the buffet. If you don't like what you pick, go grab something else and keep repeating the process as you go until you find something you really enjoy. 

For me, the ideal meal at Disney's Crystal Palace is breakfast. If you schedule it late enough in the day, you might catch a few bites of the lunch buffet offerings, and if you schedule it at just the right time you can accomplish a ton of attractions from the time Magic Kingdom opens to the time you arrive at your meal just as the crowds start to build. (As we shared in our How to Ride 6 or More Attractions in 90 Minutes or Less: With Only 1 Fastpass+!

If you wait just a touch later in the day, Crystal Palace offers a great buffet lunch that is great for families with kids. It's not the most luxurious of offerings and isn't entirely designed to be, but the array of food from salmon to chicken offer each and every guest something to enjoy. Just be aware, if you are paying out of pocket, dinner here is far more expensive than lunch and is a very comparable menu.    

The Garden Grill Breakfast 

With this one I'm even surprising myself. For years I did not like Garden Grill. The menu didn't appeal to me and to be quite honest it wasn't something I would ever look forward to on a vacation when we did decide to book it on rare occasions.

A few short years ago that completely changed. I'm still not a huge proponent of their other meal offerings, but I can honestly say Garden Grill is the best Epcot area breakfast I've personally experienced. To me, it's the ideal offering and the ideal location to eat for an Epcot morning. You can schedule a mid-morning breakfast, tour the main attractions near the front of the park early on in the day before your meal, and prepare for the world showcase after your breakfast. As the afternoon turns into night you can set up a table service dinner or enjoy the various festival kitchens and limited time offerings of the showcase depending on when you travel the rest of the day.

Setting that thought aside, the food at Garden Grill is quite simple and while I wont go into it in too great of detail, you can read our full review over on our The Garden Grill - One of the Best Breakfasts on Disney Property post. I know that title alone sounds like an over exaggeration but we really enjoyed this offering and it truly is an outstanding way to jump start your day with a nice breakfast and quality cast members. 

Teppan Edo

As touched on above, Teppan Edo is the perfect late lunch or dinner offering at Epcot (or to accompany a table service breakfast earlier in the day if you're hungry enough to do a table service dinner too!). The offering is fairly pricey out of pocket but on the dining plan you walk in and order whatever you want and it all (in theory) costs the same amount. Teppan Edo is great because it's not only a great meal and a filling meal but it's sort of a dinner and a show. Many guests are hesitant to take kids here but they are fairly accommodating to children and most young guests really enjoy the hibachi style experience even if they don't necessarily love their meal.

A few words of warning on this one. If you are your kids do not like to be around strangers, this may not be your best option. Every once in a while groups will get paired with other families to fill the spots surrounding the hibachi grill. It's not just a Disney thing but a commonly accepted practice for this type of a meal. Disney seems a touch more hesitant to group parties but it's something to be aware of. Additionally, if your kids are sacred of fire or do not like loud-ish noises, I cannot recommend this meal. Other than those two things, I highly recommend this offering. The food is excellent the display is entertaining and the cast is top notch as well. 

Tusker House  

Tusker House makes my list for two main reasons. One, it is likely the ideal and perhaps only true family centered Disney branded offering in Animal Kingdom for table service. There are other meals in the park, but none that really offer the ideal situation for families that this restaurant provides. The character interaction is great, the food is a good variation of creative African inspired offerings and slightly more typical and recognizable buffet items than other options in the park.

If you're traveling with a picky eater, this is a must do table service meal for you on the dining plan if you plan on spending a full day in Animal Kingdom. If they're really picky, try and grab a breakfast reservation and you'll be pleasantly surprised by the experience. Breakfast is the most popular dining offering here and it is quite difficult to secure a reservation as a result, but if you book it early in your reservation scheduling window, you shouldn't have too hard of a time nailing down a time.   

Quick Service Disney Dining Plan Offerings

To the surprise of many first time guests, Disney quick service (counter service) is really starting to change and has been for the last 5 years or so. When New Fantasyland opened, and quite possibly even before that, a shocking move towards more unique quick service offerings started to arrive in the parks and over at the resorts. A movement started to take place where meals started to move away from burgers and fries and towards more filling and creative offerings. Perhaps the best example of this is Magic Kingdom. Currently at Magic Kingdom I can only think of one restaurant off hand that offers a burger as it's main offering and that is over at Starlight Cafe (which is facing a variation of changes right now). If you posed that same circumstance 5 or even 10 years ago you'd likely face a much different realization. Personally, I love it and it has worked out excellently for Disney in the realm of social media. 

Today, it seems like every time you turn around a new fad or trending Disney meal item is sweeping the internet. It's a great time to be a quick service fan and while there's a ton of great offerings across property here are a few of our top picks.  

Sassagoula Floatworks and Food Factory

Floatworks is without a doubt my favorite quick service location on all of Disney property. Sure, unless you're staying at Port Orleans, you'll have to go out of your way to go visit it, but it is absolutely worth it. If you're on the dining plan you can pick almost anything on the menu as your meal credit. The menu is vast and features a New Orleans inspired flair that is distinct but not necessarily off putting to those of us who have not been raised in New Orleans. 

If you're going to go try it, stay for dessert and try the beignets. It's the highlight of any trip to Port Orleans and perhaps the greatest "not-so-hidden" hidden gem of Disney dining.   

The Artist's Palette

As another somewhat out of the ordinary offering to make our list, I highly recommend the Artist's Palette at the Saratoga Springs Resort. Again, this will involve venturing out to a resort location you may or may not be staying at but it's something I highly recommend trying.

I always recommend heading to the resorts to new and returning guests. It's a great way to explore something entirely free of cost (minus the food costs), it expands your knowledge of where you may want to stay on a future trip, and opens up an entirely new world of hidden Disney elements to uncover and learn about along the way. It sounds so incredibly strange in writing but head to a resort and spend a few hours exploring the grounds and you may be shocked at how much you enjoy just being there. It's tough to pull the time out a vacation to do just that, but I will guarantee you wont regret it. 

Exploring resorts is one of the most relaxing elements of any Disney trip for me, and has a way of opening up your mind and allowing you to let the worries of the world fade away as your kids play on a playground, play ping pong by the pool, or even ride a boat over to a neighboring resort. It's beauty is in the simplicity and frees the mind in a way that is quite difficult to explain. When you feel it, you just know that you're experiencing something special and everything else fades away. 

The Artist's Palette itself is not too dissimilar to a typical deluxe resort dining location but it's lack of crowds and slightly more interesting menu sets it apart in my book. With the soft music playing in the background, the pool within sight and a buffalo chicken panini headlining the menu (ok, maybe not headlining the menu for everyone but it's headlining the menu in my book lol) there's very little not to like about this offering and it's a great value for your dining credit.          

La Cantina de San Angel

If I'm on the dining plan and not eating at one or both of the aforementioned dining locations above at Epcot, I'll likely be stopping for a quick lunch here. With a waterfront location, a casual elegance when the interior seating is open to guests (just around the corner from the main outdoor dining area), this is simple quick service option at it's finest. The meal offerings are nachos, tacos, empanadas and other typical Mexican food, but everything is largely sharable and a great way to get a taste of the Mexico pavilion before continuing on your way around the showcase. In the past, we've found that this location is a great way to start an afternoon of eating "around the world." Share a nacho here with a friend or two and continue on your way around the showcase trying a a few bites of something in each country.
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! 

Ready to Plan?

Need help planning your vacation? Let our friends over at Destinations to Travel (FREE - no obligation quote request form below) help you out at no additional cost to you! Their services are free and a great way for you to help out the site at no extra 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, April 11, 2018

Rumored Disney World Free Dining Dates for 2018! - These Could Be The Dates


by: guide4wdw - Collin

Rumored Disney World Free Dining Dates for 2018! - These Could Be The Dates

Before we get started with today's post, I will say that at this point this should be considered solely as rumor. However, as many of you may know I am very careful about sharing strictly rumored information, but this is one of those releases that I know tends to be quite important to guests so I will make an exception and share whatever has been shared with me. With that being said, these dates could be perfect and they could be completely wrong so don't bank on this offer in the off chance that it does not pan out. Also worth considering is that these very well could be the international dates rather than strictly the US offer dates. The origination of this information is from a group of South American travel groups. With that also being said, this may not be identical to the US market but should give us a pretty solid idea of what to expect with a subtle variation in dates and potential resort offerings for the particular booking incentive. In the past, this has been one of the more reliable predictors in the realm of free dining.    

No matter what, there's a very high chance that the free dining structure will continue to be deluxe resorts receiving the regular dining plan while both moderate and value resorts would receive the quick service dining plan. If historical trends remain true, any guests booking the moderate or value resorts under this offer would be able to upgrade to a higher tier dining plan (Also true for regular dining upgraded to deluxe dining.)

As mentioned above, these dates have not been officially released by Disney but here's a good idea of what you can expect:

Booking Dates (when you can book your stay and receive the offer): 
4/27/18 to 7/7/18 

For stays: 
8/2/18 through 9/29/18 
11/24/18 through 11/27/18 
12/7/18 through 12/23/18   

In this case, the following resorts would be eligible for quick Service Dining Plans:

Disney's All Star Resorts
Disney's Pop Century Resort 

Disney's Caribbean Beach Resort  
Disney's Coronado Springs Resort
The Cabins at Fort Wilderness Resort 

In regards to those that would receive Regular Dining Plans:

Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge
Disney's Yacht and Beach Club Resort and Villas 
Disney's Boardwalk Inn and Villas  
Disney's Grand Floridian Resort and Spa
Disney's Animal Kingdom Villas Jambo House and Kidani Village
Disney's Old Key West Resort 
Disney's Polynesian Villas and Bungalows (Studios) - Possible 
Disney's Saratoga Springs 

When purchasing the package I would expect that the park hopper or park hopper plus option must be included in the package offer. 

A Few Notes About the Free Dining Offer:

First and foremost, these dates could change, but based on the previous years and information that is starting to circulate I would put this in the plausible rumor category. It is not confirmed in any way, but does truly fit the trend of previous years timeframes. Also, I would expect to see an earlier start for free dining this year. The proposed 8/2 start date could be a bit early but I would not be surprised if the start date is moved forward in order to fill early August reservations as students return to school and the summer rush starts to wrap up for the parks and resorts. 

Also worth noting, if you are looking to book a stay during this offer, try and book your entire stay within the stay window. If your check in date is before the offer dates begin, you will not receive the dining plan offer. Everything is based off of your arrival dates (or it has been in the past) so you could check in on the last day of the offer and still receive free dining for dates after the offer window ends as long as you check in before the stay window ends. It's a bit strange but could prove beneficial to you to know that information in the long run. 

Last but certainly not least, these are probably very comparable dates to what may be rolled out in the coming weeks but official confirmation should be arriving in the next 3 weeks (probably on a Monday morning or late Sunday Night if I had to guess). When these rates roll out, book the offer quickly because it notoriously sells out rapidly and there are only a set number of rooms available for the offer. As always, if you want to book this offer or work with someone who will be able to book it for you when and if the offer is officially unveiled we recommend Destinations to Travel (quote request form below) not only because they support the site but because they are who we use!

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Disney World Tickets 2018


by: guide4wdw - Collin

Disney World Tickets 2018

Updated: April 10th, 2018

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.    

Discount Disney Tickets

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.
Disney Park Tickets Money Saving Tips

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 (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.

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. If you buy from an authorized seller or Disney themselves, your discounted or non discounted tickets must be used by December 31st of 2019. Also, after the tickets first use, it must be utilized fully (meaning all ticketed days must be used or lost) within 14 days from the first day of use.   

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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Monday, April 9, 2018

A Few Thoughts: Disney Debuts Woody's Lunch Box Offerings


by: guide4wdw - Collin

A Few Thoughts: Disney Debuts Woody's Lunch Box Offerings

As many of you may know, Disney is unveiling an entirely new land this summer at their  Hollywood Studios theme park location. For quite some time Disney has held off on sharing the specific menu details of the upcoming counter service location, Woody's Lunch Box, but today we've got a few things to share with you right from Disney's Official news site along with the Disney Parks Blog. However, I want to take things just a step farther and share a few thoughts about the location and a bit of guest/media perception of this summer's big Toy Story Land debut on June 30th. 

At this point, I'm not entirely sure if we'll be invited to or be able to preview the new land, but I will say that this is a new debut that many guests and media tend be overlooking in the scale of what it "could be." In my opinion, this will be the "sleeper" crowd pleasing expansion that very few expect. Of course, it may not draw as large of crowds as the future Star Wars expansion, but it could very well be a highly anticipated debut for a vast variety of guests. 

Personally, I'm of that generation of Disney fans that grew up with and love the entire series of Toy Story films. For an entire generation of young adults, they don't know a world without the series of films. It's strange to think about, but that's the kind of fan base this expansion will vastly appeal to. As a result, I see this expansion as being the unanticipated big ticket debut for Disney. Sure, it may not be the massive revenue generator that Pandora or Star Wars turned out to and will be, but it checks a lot of boxes. It's family friendly, young adult friendly, and incredibly kid friendly. What's not to like? 

I firmly believe this is going to be just like the debut of Pandora. There will be a ton of skeptics going into it but as the land builds to a finish and on opening day the marvels of Imagineering unveil themselves, opinions will be turned around. Very few people were excited about Pandora originally (including myself) and look how incredible it turned out. Imagineering will not let us down and today's release is one of the first steps in changing many media and guest opinions of the expansion and building grand anticipation. I'll reserve final judgement until I get to finally see it in person (hopefully sooner rather than later), but I honestly believe this place is going to exceed expectations. At that point I'll be sure to share an unbiased review of the expansion once we see it in person and get to explore the little details that make all the difference and truly set Disney part. Obviously, I love the Disney parks and resorts so my opinion may be a touch positively bias, but many of you will view things from a similar perspective.  

Today's release adds to my excitement in a very unique way. Of course, it's easy to get me excited about the food, but nonetheless these options look outstanding! Here's a closer look at a few items coming to the Toy Story Land Expansion (as described by Disney) once it debuts and the dining location opens to guests on June 30th.

  • "S’more French Toast breakfast sandwich.  Oozy goodness in a chocolate ganache- and marshmallow-stuffed French toast topped with graham cracker crumbles. Inspired by the classic American campfire treat.
  • Grilled three-cheese sandwich. To ensure a soft gooey middle, Disney chefs created a sharp cheddar cream cheese spread, layered in provolone and cheddar and wrapped the sandwich in garlic butter-grilled French bread.
  • BBQ brisket melt. With a nod to cowboy Woody, this Texas-style smoked brisket features cheddar, Monterey Jack, pickles, BBQ sauce and garlic butter-grilled sourdough.
  • Totchos. Bite-sized potato barrels, corn chips, chili and queso. ‘Nuf said.
  • Lunch box tarts. A modern interpretation of a breakfast toaster pastry as a hand-held dessert, these feature a uniquely delicate crust. Layer in high-quality ingredients for fillings, add a decorative garnish, and these tasty tarts beat anything mom packed. Choice of Raspberry Lunch Box Tart garnished with Icing and Dried Fruit and Chocolate-Hazelnut Lunch Box Tart garnished with Icing and Caramelized Bacon
  • Monte Cristo. Also on the menu for lunch is a Monte Cristo. Woody’s version of this classic sandwich has layers of ham, turkey, Swiss cheese, and raspberry jam…and is grilled to a golden brown.
If you're looking to dine a bit more health conscious:  
  • Smoked turkey, tomato, and lettuce on multigrain bread. The quintessential lunch box sandwich. To give it a kick of flavor, Disney chefs add a creamy Dijonnaise.
  • Banana Split Yogurt Parfait. Layers of banana-vanilla Greek yogurt (with a hint of honey), fresh bananas, strawberries, and pineapple topped with granola and chocolate chips. A delicious way to start the day!
  • Other healthy options available at Disney’s Hollywood Studios include fresh fruits and vegetables, salads, and grilled meats and fish."

Also on the menu will be specialty floats and punch offerings for guests to enjoy. Some elect offerings will contain alcohol. As previously shared, many of the dining offerings are brought to guests through an affiliation with the Mini Babybell product. These offerings aren't quite all that has been released so be sure to check out the Disney Parks Blog's official post for more details.  

Online Guest Concerns

Every new release has it's typical critiques and questions but a few select concerns are popping up regarding the menu that could and likely will be addressed before the location officially debuts to guests. Many guests are questioning the number of vegetarian and vegan friendly offerings. At this point, it appears that those offerings will be minimal, if not non-existent accord got heir comments. Personally, I am not an expert in that realm of dietary concerns, because I am neither of the aforementioned individuals, but I could see a concern for some guests in regard to gluten friendly offerings in addition to those concerns. As usual, I have full confidence that Disney will make any and all necessary adjustments for those guests in one way or another. We've traveled with guests with very difficult allergies to accommodate and Disney is more than willing to help or exceed expectations in meeting those needs 99% of the time! 

So, there you have it. What are your thoughts on the new offering? Or even, perhaps more importantly, the new expansion as a whole? We hope to see it for the first time sometime soon or even possibly at a preview event, but we'll see if that becomes a reality in the not so distant future. If not, you know we'll be back to the parks sometime soon and will gladly share our thoughts and opinions of the 11 acre expansion! If have any questions or wish to contact us in any way, be sure to send me an email at guide4wdw@gmail.com and an answer will come your way directly from me in the coming days. I do answer all my own emails, so you can rest assured that your comments or questions will reach me directly at that email address.     

Source and Media Photos: Disney and the Disney Parks Blog 

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! 

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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.

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