Looking for something?

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Tiered Pricing May Be Coming to Disney Multi-Day Tickets - A Few Thoughts

Guide4WDW.com

by: guide4wdw - Collin

Arriving just after the announced pricing structure increases for Walt Disney World tickets, the Orlando Sentinel is reporting that Bob Iger shared a statement at the Morgan Stanley Technology Conference stating that multi-day park tickets will be moving to a peak pricing structure near the end of 2018. Essentially this could mean that multi-day tickets would begin to fall under a similar structure to that which is already in place for single day tickets. In practice, this would allow Disney to scale ticket prices based on demand for certain days and in concept certain weeks of the calendar year with higher guest attendance.

The comment made by Iger was followed with a remark about how it should improve the guest experience. Personally, it's hard to see this as anything but a good reason to increase ticket prices before the Star Wars - Galaxies Edge Opening on both coasts. A similar comment was also made in relation to the opening of Star Wars Land which was described as a big experience. 




Should You Be Concerned?
Honestly, at this point I'm not concerned in the slightest. While this is a reputable source of information and did come from the CEO himself, this was simply a comment made in a question and answer session. It's not written in stone and it's almost a year away from potentially being put into practice. Additionally, this is the same CEO who let it slip that Hollywood Studios may be getting a name change in the future in another question and answer session which has yet to happen in reality and speculation has it that the name change has been dropped altogether. 

Perhaps more importantly, you have to consider how much is yet to debut this year and the effect the performance of this year could have on that pricing decision for the future. With Toy Story debuting this summer, and other big debuts happening over at Disney Springs, there's no telling what could be coming in regards to finances and the Disney Parks throughout the year. At this point, I would treat this as no more than speculation or a comment to appease the business world rather than a guarantee that peak pricing on multi-day tickets will occur. 

Lastly, this change, if it actually comes true, will likely only effect shorter stays in a large way in the beginning. If the trend of previous increases remains consistent, Disney will do anything they can to keep guests in the parks and resorts for longer stays. Today, that concept is true more than ever before with the competition growing over at Universal and other Orlando theme parks. For reference, just look at the new pricing increase. A 5-day ticket jumped $25 overall. When you break it down on a day by day basis, that's only $79 per day in the park for a $395 5-day ticket. Compare that to the price of a single-day ticket at $119 a day and you quickly realize that a multi-day ticket would still be a pretty good deal at tiered pricing. Also, at current tiered prices for single day tickets, the increase from regular to peak season is only about a 7% change. For even a five day ticket, thats an overall difference of $25 (sound familiar?). For most guests, $25 a person isn't going to make or break a Disney vacation. Of course these numbers are theoretical based on the current structure, but it should give us an idea of what to expect. 

If you're concerned about the increase, use one of our 10 Easy Ways To Save Money At Disney World in 2018 and you'll likely save enough to offset the additional costs (we hope). Disney can only go so high in their pricing analysis. Chances are they know and have calculated their price ceiling and while they may be getting close to it, the parks continue to welcome record numbers of guests and remain crowded 90+% of the year. 



If you want to overcome the potential change, there's a few things you can do. First, if you're looking to book a vacation for next year or late this year, book it early. If tradition holds true, if there is a change in the pricing structure, previously booked vacations will remain on the previous price structure. Additionally look to third party ticket sellers right before the increases are about to occur. Chance are the increase will get leaked or a rumor will surface right before a ticket price change occurs. We always recommend The Official Ticket Center for any ticket related purchases but be careful to check your dates and make sure their tickets do not expire (per Disney's requirement) before your travel dates. Typically the end date on tickets is the end of the calendar year.  

Don't Panic
At this point, don't worry about the potential pricing structure change. There are way to many variables to the situation that not even the CEO can know at this point and chances are even if it is planned to occur at this point in time, organizational changes could occur that would put the pricing change "on the back burner" in a metaphorical sense. 

Every time there is a ticket increase scare, guests automatically jump to the worst case scenario. Take things one day at a time and look forward to many of the new expansions coming in the not so distant future. Toy Story Land could be the hidden gem opening of the year, Disney Springs continues to grow, and there's no telling what Imagineering has in store that we have no idea about at this point. 


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.



Monday, February 26, 2018

Disney Packing List - What I Take to Disney World

Guide4WDW.com

by: guide4wdw - Collin

Packing for a Disney vacation isn't always the easiest process, but it can be a bit easier if you know what to expect and what you may need during your time in the parks. Of course, there's going to be a lot of variation on what is needed for your situation, but there's certainly a few staples that everyone should consider for their Disney World packing list.

Honestly, I've been tossing around the idea for this post for a few days wondering if it was something anyone would even be interested in, but I've decided to go ahead and share what I take to the parks. As our spring vacation approaches, this is what I'll be carrying with me most of the time into the parks. There will be a few exceptions and chances are many of you will not have a desire to take some of the things I plan on carrying with me with you because they simply will not apply. Also, much of this will cover what I carry on an airplane with me as we make the journey down because it's what I see as potentially needed for my trip and quite possibly yours as well. 


Truthfully, the backpack scenario is the largest part of the packing battle. Figuring out what you'll need and when you'll need it and finding a way to get it in your bag is incredibly tough. All things considered, my packing tends to be a last minute game of Tetris and it's one that is incredibly technology driven for a variety of reasons both obvious and not so obvious. As touched on above, most guests will only need about half of what I take with me on a given trip, especially when heading into the parks, but hopefully my list and travel style may give you an idea of what to consider tossing in your own bag. Last but certainly not least, this post may give you a look "behind the scenes" at what I use to create these articles as well in a round about way, 

The Backpack Itself
This trip I'll be carrying a Lowepro Photo Hatchback and honestly it's overkill for most guests. Personally, I chose this backpack because it serves two functions. First, It's a camera bag that allows me to carry on my DSLR and my MacBook (with a little bit of space saving manipulation) as a personal item on most airlines. Additionally, it has a nice compartment for extra batteries, snacks, or anything else I may need throughout the day (which you'll find listed below in detail) or during my flight to Orlando. The bag itself is particularly nice for Disney because it is reasonably waterproof on it's own but also offers an integrated water cover in the case of a sudden downpour, which isn't entirely uncommon in Florida. 

Truthfully, this will be unnecessary unless you're a big "techy" or if you're going to be carrying a DSLR camera into the parks for family pictures. For me, it's ideal and allows me to carry all of my gear on a plane while allowing me to remove a few things (like the MacBook) for park days as well. You can even entirely remove the camera compartment and turn it into a regular, high quality backpack which is another bonus in my book. However, if you're a typical park guest, I highly recommend a draw string Under Armour bag or full size backpack depending on your needs. I've had excellent luck with their bags and they hold up quite well even in the most difficult conditions. Unfortunately, I've learned that lesson the hard way quite a few times walking across a college campus in pouring rain... it happens (lol). 

Snacks
Snacks are a big part of what is in our park bag and one of the more necessary items. When we're not on the dining plan, and even occasionally when we are, we take small snacks with us into the park. Typically, these can range from snack crackers to granola bars, but whatever you can find and enjoy eating that isn't effected by heat is a great option. Snacks are even better when they are resealable, and/or single serving items. If you are on the dining plan, contrary to what I shared in our 5 Disney Dining Plan Mistakes You Want To Avoid And Why in a rare exception, I recommend picking up one Chip and Dale Snack Company bag of "mountain mix" before you head to the parks for the week. The snack item is resealable, fairly well suited for the hot climate, and quite tasty. It's a great item to have while you're waiting in a queue line or waiting for the start of a parade or show. Truth be told, it doesn't have to be the Chip and Dale kind of trail mix, but if you're on the dining plan it's a pretty decent use of one snack credit and one less thing to carry from home. 



Wet Wipes
As another rather strange item on my list, especially considering I travel 99% of the time with adults 21 or older, wet wipes tend to be one of the necessities of our park bag. I'm a bit partial to the "Wet Ones" brand of wipes simply because they're good at taking out stains, they're typically packaged in the slim cushion packs, and you wont smell like a 3 year old after using them. You never know when you'll spill something on you at a meal, step in something sticky, or even have something spilled on you during a day in the parks. Wet wipes can be a metaphorical life saver in a variety of unexpected situations and have easily earned a place in at least one of the bags of our group as we head to the parks.  

A Good Pair of Sunglasses
Sunglasses are essential for Florida travel as a whole and I'm incredibly sensitive to bright light and have been since I was a young child so I'm openly bias towards nice sunglasses. Additionally, I say a "good" pair of sunglasses for a few reasons. Cheap sunglasses break, are easily scratched, and have a variety of other downfalls, but perhaps most importantly, your vision is one of the most significant things you can protect. Aggressive Florida sunlight can take a toll on your eyes and slowly but surely create headaches or unpleasant days in the parks. As a result, I'm incredibly partial to Oakley sunglasses (which I won't link up because I don't want this to look like a money grab post). They're incredibly durable, provide plenty of protection from direct sunlight, and are comfortable for all day use at Walt Disney World. Another top pick is the Maui Jim line up because they simply offer a very high quality lens, but they do lack a certain level of durability you'll need as you take them off and put them back on as you enter and exit certain attractions.

Sunglasses are easy to accidentally forget, but completely necessary in my opinion, and could save you a mid afternoon headache in the long run.
     

My MacBook Pro (not necessary for all)
I'm a hard core Apple user and not at all ashamed to admit it. I take my MacBook Pro almost everywhere I go on a daily basis. It's how I post these articles, it's the main way I get to interact with many of you, and it allows me to edit photos and develop projects on the go. Obviously, I will rarely carry a MacBook through the parks, because it's just not necessary. In the parks I use my iPhone 7 for communication and social media interaction with readers, using the parks app, and other small scale tasks. It's not ideal but it certainly works just fine. When I get back to the room I'll do my upload for the day or share some photos from my camera after they're edited, but inevitably the MacBook will be accompanying me on the plane as I travel south. It's a great way to pass some time, but also a good way to avoid it getting broken or crushed in check baggage.

I'm partial to MacBooks for a few reasons. First, I had a MacBook Pro from the Mid 2012 Model year up until about two weeks ago when I upgraded to a Late 2017 MacBook Pro to save some weight and increase processing capabilities. It was a rock solid device with a proven track record. Second, I find them more travel friendly, but that's simply my opinion.   



DSLR Camera (not necessary for most)
A Nikon DSLR will be a new addition to my park bag this year, and resulted in the purchase of the new Lowepro backpack mentioned above. Truthfully, with the level of quality images you can get out of a smart phone these days, chances are you wont need a DSLR for excellent quality images during your trip. However, for me, as a minor player in the realm of content creation, I try to create the best images I possibly can and this should be a step in the right direction to improve the quality of our images here on the site. With that being said, all the images you've seen on the site to date that were taken by me have come from an iPhone 7 so far (As of late February 2018). Hopefully, that goes to show that your phone is more than capable to take excellent images, but a DSLR could be a fun option for you if you're a "techy" person or looking to learn a new hobby. My camera of choice right now is a Nikon D3400. You can pick them up for a fairly reasonable price and it is my top pick for a well rounded budget friendly DSLR option. It's what I use and will be using for the foreseeable future.

In addition to the camera itself, I'll likely be carrying a fairly tall tripod for fireworks photos, a shutter release, extra batteries, and a few extra memory cards. I'm no where near a photography expert, but we'll see how well I can apply some techniques in the theme parks on our upcoming trip.              

Leave the Frozen Waters! 
This isn't particularly a tip of something to take with you but rather something to leave behind when you're headed to the parks. I know it's something many guests do and they all have their reasons, but for me it's just not necessary to trek around with frozen water bottles in your backpack. If you really want to carry a water bottle, throw a couple in the side pockets of your bag, but for me it's much easier to stop and pick up a cup of ice water at a counter service location free of charge and toss a packet of lemonade flavoring in it to cover the Florida water taste. Your back will thank you at the end of the day, and it's one less thing to keep up with getting on and off of attractions. 

Chargers For Everything
In the technology driven world we live in today, it's near impossible to make it through a day in the parks without a mobile device of some type. It's doable if you absolutely have to, but certainly not ideal. Unfortunately, poor cellular and wifi connections in the theme parks can lead to batteries draining incredibly quickly on various devices. A good way to combat this is to invest in a budget friendly power bank for your devices. The Mophie branded chargers have never let me down. They have integrated power cases available for select phone models, but also offer power stations that only require a usb charging cable to charge or recharge your device quickly and away from a "wall-style" plug. This is the exact Mophie charger my sister (who runs our Instagram page) just ordered for our trip: Mophie Powerstation.

Another "hidden gem" in the realm of on-the-go chargers for some guests is the FuelRod offering at the Disney parks. It's a unique service that allows you to pick up and drop off mobile phone charging blocks at certain locations across property in each of the parks. I find them overpriced at $30 but if you really need something it's a good last minute option but still costs about what it would cost to buy the Mophie above which has about 6 times the charging power for $6 less!    



Cheap Rain Gear
Cheap and disposable rain gear is a must for any Disney trip but especially summer trips where it's bound to rain at some point during the day. If you know the rain is coming, pull your nice jacket out of your luggage and wear it to the parks, but nothing beats a cheap poncho for the sudden unexpected burst of rain or as a way to stay relatively dry on water-based attractions. Most budget friendly ponchos are in little individual packages and take up very little room in your park bag, and can be bought cheap at your local dollar store or on Amazon in bulk packs. I know these seem a bit ridiculous and you may look a bit ridiculous wearing them, but it's an outstanding compromise instead of buying the outrageously expensive Disney ponchos sold in the parks. 

With that being said, some guests collect theme park ponchos, and that's completely okay, but I'm certainly not one of those people. I still don't entirely understand that collection (lol), but to each their own.     

Wrapping Up
As you may have noticed, I avoided all references to clothing in this post and for one specific reason. Your travel dates and personal preferences should dictate what you wear to the parks and why. Also, this is far from a comprehensive list. Our park and travel bag changes from time to time and these are really just what almost always travels with at least one member of our vacation party throughout the trip. Also, this isn't a list of stuff that should be in your luggage but rather a backpack or something of the sort. If you're looking into things to put in your luggage, my top pick for that would be an extra pair of shoes (is I had to pick jus tone thing). You never know when it will rain in Florida and nobody likes soggy shoes. I've been in that situation far too many times and it's easily avoidable with an extra pair of shoes tucked away in your luggage at your resort.  

There were also a lot of honorable mentions on our list as well which I'll run through here briefly: 
  • Sunscreen (which I should wear but rarely do)
  • Comfortable Shoes
  • Advil (for those late week aches and pains) 
  • Light Up Toys (if you have kids or if you're a kid at heart) 
  • Extra cash (in case cards get lost or stolen) 
Truth be told, I over-pack my park backpack, but I'm also the first person to give up entirely on the backpack idea altogether and head to an afternoon in the parks with nothing but an iPhone, a wallet, and a magic band. It all depends on the situation and that's the biggest takeaway I hope I share with you in this article. Use your situation to decide what you pack. I'm not a typical Disney guest, but hopefully these ideas may have sparked an idea of your own.     


What Do You Take?
So, you've seen our list, so what are we missing? You may have that perfect item that we've been missing for years that many guests would appreciate and learn from so be sure to reach out to us and share your tips with us as well and this Guide4WDW Community! Thanks for reading, and have a great rest of the day! Happy planning! 


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!



Friday, February 23, 2018

Saratoga Springs at Disney: An Underrated Disney World Resort

Guide4WDW.com

by: guide4wdw - Collin

The Saratoga Springs Resort at Walt Disney World is one of the best resorts on Disney property for the money. It features a great location, fairly effective transportation, and retains the perks of being a Deluxe tier resort while avoiding some of the costs of other deluxe tier offerings. In short, I put Saratoga Springs at Disney right next to Old Key West in regards to the best overall value for your money on property, especially when booking with larger groups (we'll get to more on that later).

While it may not be the ultimate "sought after" destination featured in the Disney TV ads or even the resort your friends and family tell you you have to at least go and visit, but it's debatably a hidden gem of a well planned Disney vacation. As one of the largest Deluxe resorts geographically, Saratoga Springs offers legitimately a room type for any type of group or party size. On top of that, it features multiple pools, and activities for guests of all ages. Without spoiling all the details in the introduction, we'll jump right into it and share a bit more below on why this has been a top pick for our vacations.

As always our preferences and yours may differ. We tend to travel in somewhat larger groups, and typically stay in villa style resort rooms or deluxe resorts, but that's just what works for us. If you fall into that same vacation style category, or even if you may not, I'd give this place a second look before booking anything else.   

(Photo: Jason Pratt - Flickr

Resort Accommodations
The Saratoga Springs resort offers a diverse lineup of lodging accommodations. From the typical and rather spacious deluxe studio rooms featuring 1 queen bed and one double size sleeper sofa to massive Treehouse Villa accommodations that can comfortably accommodate 9 guests, there's a little something for everyone. It's not the perfect resort, but one where no matter what your party size is, you can almost always find something that suits your needs. 


Personally, I recommend a preferred two bedroom villa here for a few select reasons. First, when you purchase a preferred room you are essentially guaranteed one of the better building locations on the property. What that means is that not only will you walk shorter distances to the main area, dining, and pools, but also remain close to transportation via bus or boat (boat to Disney Springs). Second, two bedroom villas are ideal if you can find another family or group of friends to travel with you and split up the costs. If you can work it out, typically you can put 7 guests into that particular villa comfortably (8 by capacity standards), and if you can split the costs you can occasionally catch a room at this particular resort for relatively close to moderate tier resort prices where you would have to book two or more rooms for larger parties. It sounds crazy, but I've done it on multiple occasions and it works out great if you can find the accommodations you're looking for available for your given dates. Villas tend to go quickly, so be sure to book early or book with our preferred travel agent or another group that can continually check for resort room openings for you. Here's why I recommend an Authorized Disney Travel Planner!

If you can find the accommodations you need, this can be a pretty significantly overlooked offering for those of us who are not DVC members, despite it technically being a DVC resort. DVC members tend to love the place and I can't say that I blame them, but many first time and retiring guests completely overlook this potentially perfect offering. Of course, as with any resort, it has its flaws and if you want to hear our largest concerns jump down to transportation.         

(Pictured: Treehouse Villas - Photo: Disney)

Resort Activities
At the resort, you do have a few huge bonuses. First, you have two pools which are both excellent "resort style" themed pools in addition to smaller pools throughout the property. The two main pools are excellent and with one of them only steps form the main quick service location, it's easy to take your refillable mug inside for a refill without having to pack up all your stuff and make the hike across property as you do at some select resorts. 

Additionally, scattered around the pool deck you'll find ping pong and other games to enjoy. Of course, they're not quite as enjoyable in the heat of the day as a dip in the pool, but nonetheless an excellent offering and a perk for those spring trips or a night off from the parks to relax and enjoy the resort. 

Last but certainly not least, the resort is home to Disney's Lake Buena Vista golf course. Personally, I see this as the better of Disney's golf facilities. The driving range is iconic and features a unique water element utilizing aqua balls that float in the case of an errant shot. Plus, opposed to hitting off of more typical mats, players utilize real turf on the range and are even provided a golf cart just to drive out to the range with your clubs even if you don't plan on playing the course. As an added bonus, as you hit golf balls, you can peer through the trees over at Disney Springs from a rather unique angle that many guests will completely overlook. It's a great facility and a great way to convince a non-Disney fan to join you on a Disney vacation in order to play an excellent golf course. The golf offering even made our 4 Unconventional Ways to Enjoy Disney That You May Have Never Considered list. 

Excellent Quick Service Offerings
As mentioned, just steps away from the main pool and check-in area you'll find The Artist's Palette. As one of my favorite quick service offerings at any resort location, The Artist's Palette is one of the best locations for variety you'll find at a resort hotel quick service location. Everything is made to order and hot and ready at basically any time of day. The location even stays open until late at night for those guests returning from the parks. It's a great first meal or last meal at Walt Disney World and a great place to grab a quick bite to eat before heading to the parks. 

If you're looking for something a little more upscale, take a few steps down the hall to The Turf Club for a Table service meal with a classic view of the on-property Lake Buena Vista Golf Course (which starts at the clubhouse downstairs) in addition to the boat launch over to Disney Springs.     

Proximity to Disney Springs
The proximity to Disney Springs is something that I see as increasingly valuable as time goes on and the transformation of Disney Springs continues to develop and change in the coming months and years. The offerings at the Springs are vast and the dining opportunities are some of the best you'll find. It's a largely varied shopping and dining experience with a little bit for everyone to enjoy with dining and shopping options for all price points. 

The quick boat ride over only takes around 10 minutes and is incredibly picturesque as the sun starts to fade over the horizon and the colors of those classic Florida sunsets reflect off the water. It's a view of the Springs that gets vastly overlooked but one of the most iconic views you'll ever experience from the little pontoon-esque boats that ferry gets back and forth from this resort, Old Key West, and Port Orleans. As the shortest of the three boat rides, it's truly hard to beat the convenience and the multitude of entertainment options just a few short minutes from your resort.        


(Pictured: Homecomin' Kitchen at Disney Springs: AKA - Our New "Must-Do" Disney Dining Location!)

Transportation... The Good and the Bad
The entire Saratoga Springs Resorts utilizes Disney's bus theme park transportation. They don't have any monorail, or boats to the parks, but for many the cost savings more than makes up for the transportation limitations. Of course, as mentioned, you do still retain the boat transportation to Disney Springs, but the transportation to any other park requires the use of multiple bus stops within the resort (similar to Caribbean Beach or other more spread out resorts) and the ride through the property can be fairly time consuming. It's certainly not the ideal situation for someone who gets carsick (like me) easily with the multiple stop and go segments, but you can always hop in your car and drive to the parks as an alternative. Also, the parking is typically only a few steps from your resort room, so it's easy to access a vehicle or rental car if you have one for your vacation.         

Wrapping Up
With all of this being shared, it's easy to see how the resort can be viewed as a "diamond in the rough" by our standards. It's not the perfect resort but one with some of the most varied options on all of property accompanying a price tag that isn't all that unreasonable. The amenities are excellent, the rooms are incredibly classy and nicely laid out, and the staff (as with any Disney resort) is truly excellent. If you're like many guests and have overlooked this property, I certainly recommend you bring it into consideration in a future vacation planning process. It even made our Three Vastly Underrated Walt Disney World Resorts You May Want to Consider for Your Next Vacation - A Few Thoughts post. 

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!




Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Seven Dwarfs Mine Train - A Few Thoughts and Predictions For the Future

Guide4WDW.com

by: guide4wdw - Collin

In 2014, Disney unveiled the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train. At that point, the ride system was one of the most creative in the industry and and even to this day, it remains an incredibly forward thinking ride vehicle that truly immerses guests in a theming element that many of us have desired to experience for many years, a true swinging mine car experience. While the project took many years to fully develop into what it is today, the current attraction shuttles guests through a roller coaster style platform at a brisk 30+ mph while retaining a height requirement that can accompany guests of nearly all ages at just 38 inches.

Believe it or not, up until that debut, Fantasyland never truly had a height requirement for any attractions. It was a piece of Magic Kingdom designed to be the pinnacle of places where kids and adults could have fun together. There was nothing to worry about and truly no disappointment on the faces of young guests who couldn't "measure up." Of course, that practice had to come to an end due to obvious safety reasons, but nonetheless the attraction requirement remains rather short at just over 3 foot.

In the realm of theming there's nothing that truly compares to the mine train experience. The level of detail in the rock work, greenery, and even down to the wood grain is near perfect and sets the stage for a picture perfect icon of New Fantasyland. With all of that being said, the attraction set a precedent in many other ways and aspects as well, so we'll dive right into that with today's post!      


New Standard for Attraction Queues
As you arrive at the attraction you'll notice two things that stick out. First, the theming is incredibly diverse, but additionally you'll almost immediately notice the interactive elements of the queue. As you make your way through the line, a touch screen game, hands on water elements, and a sets of projections occupy your time as you slowly make your way to the attraction itself to board your mine train and head off with the Seven Dwarfs on a short but memorable experience.

The steps taken here in the realm of theming have truly set the pace for interactive queues in each and every new attraction coming to the parks. Of course, it wasn't the first interactive queue developed, especially considering it was predated by Soarin's simple original interaction and The Many Adventure's of Winnie the Pooh's queue redesign, but it also led the way for fully integrated lines to create a way for guests to be entertained as they journey through the queue. In doing so, Disney achieves a few things. First and foremost, it's a guest satisfier. It turns a two hour wait into one that seems far less tedious if your mind is occupied and you're entertained along the way. Second, it allows Disney the opportunity to test new ideas in the realm of wait times. In the future, I wouldn't be surprised if we see continued tests to expand the use of technologies similar to what is currently offered at Dumbo the Flying Elephant. It may not be that exact utilization or design concept, but inevitably Disney is going to have to find new ways to manage wait times as crowds continue to build. If you're looking to overcome crowds this spring/summer, check out our How To Beat the Walt Disney World Spring and Summer Crowds in 2018 article. 


Join the Event

A Continuing Piece of History
As many of you may know or may have even witnessed first hand, up until 1994 a portion of the space currently occupied by Seven Dwarfs Mine Train was home to 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. While the original attraction was quite simple, it's most loyal riders have developed a highly attached following that attempts in every way to keep its legacy alive. As a result, Imagineering mad e special effort to "hide in plain site" a small tribute to the departed attraction inside the tree included in the pooh attraction queue. For a few brief years, the tree was a part of an interactive children's play area which set right where Seven Dwarfs Mine Train is today. On the inside of the tree's little walkthrough home reminiscent of the iconic franchise, you'll find a small Nautilus carved into the inside of the door frame along the top of the entrance. It's a subtle nod to the past but a hidden gem of Imagineering you wont want to miss. This fun fact even made it into our Top 5 Things We Enjoy About Fantasyland at Walt Disney World!

An Unexpected Nighttime Opportunity 
In a rather strange way, the surrounding area of the mine train lends itself to being one of the most unique fireworks viewing areas of the Magic Kingdom. As you exit the attraction, head around to the right towards the viewable downhill aspect of the attraction. If you stand on that bridge with the min train behind you, you'll catch a unique glimpse of the fireworks coming from the rear launch site while simultaneously catching the fireworks elements being sent into the air near the castle. It's not the ideal viewing location if you've never seen the Happily Ever After performance from the hub area, but a unique option nonetheless.

In a similar way, if you manage to be on the attraction and time it just right, there's nothing quite like catching a glimpse of the fireworks as your ride vehicle heads down the hill from within the attraction itself. It's a fleeting glance but a memorable moment that rivals one of my very favorite on-ride fireworks views over at Splash Mountain as you slowly traverse the top of the mountain before entering the internal portion.      


From A Motion Sickness Perspective 
If you've read the site for a while you may be aware of another article I shared detailing Flight of Passage From A Motion Sickness Perspective. In that particular post I shared a few thoughts of the experience as someone who gets horribly motion sick. I have to drive most places to avoid carsickness, and avoid most simulator style attractions at all costs. With that being said, I do ride Space Mountain from time to time, enjoy Thunder Mountain, and have ridden Expedition Everest, but draw the line at Rock N Roller Coaster and Mission Space. Without a doubt, basically anyone in good health should be able to enjoy this attraction. It's short and the ride system is incredibly smooth. If you have hesitations, try it once and you'll probably love it!   

How to Avoid the Long Line
Avoiding a long line at the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train is quite difficult. Even today, nearly 4 years after it's original debut, the attraction welcomes lines of guests easily reaching well over 2 hour wait times on a regular basis. Of course, that sounds terrible, and to be quite honest it isn't the best way to spend your time in the parks, but it is an attraction where the posted wait time tends to be a bit over exaggerated. There is a way to avoid the long lines though. The first is the most obvious and that is to book a fastpass+ selection for this experience in order to guarantee yourself a ride without risking the extreme wait times. Additionally, you can avoid the lines by riding the attraction during morning extra magic hours. Head to the mine train as soon as the gates open and you'll get there before the line starts to truly back up for the day. The posted wait time will likely start at near an hour, but rarely actually takes that long early in the morning. Our "go-to" plan for touring Fantasyland quickly and affectively can be found in a portion of our How to Ride 6 or More Attractions in 90 Minutes or Less: With Only 1 Fastpass+! post, but believe it or not, Seven Dwarf Mine Train is part of that plan. 


The Subtle Details
As you leave the attraction experience, be sure to catch a glimpse to your right as you walk out for a little hidden gem that many guests look right past. There's the full front side of the cottage you see on the attraction tucked back in the trees decked out in little details to build authenticity. So many guests are so excited about their journey that they never quite catch the unique photo opportunity.

Additionally, Disney put a certain level of time and effort into making the on-ride experience so incredibly realistic that you'll likely never notice the wood grain on the buildings, the vast shrubbery and foliage throughout the ride, or even the dense man made elevation variations that allow the ride vehicle to whip around objects and in and out of small valley's as you go about you journey into the mine and beyond. It's the little things that often go largely unnoticed but set the tone for the experience and are integrated so incredibly well that it just feels right and truly authentic to the intended representation.  


These little details are what set Disney apart (in my humble opinion) and give a certain level of appreciation and depth to the parks that is beyond what you'd ever expect from a theme park destinations. Disney is set apart in so many ways and the details you can find hidden in plain site are truly hard to put into words at times. Here's a closer look at a few of our favorites that help create that iconic "Disney Magic": 
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!



Saturday, February 17, 2018

How To Beat the Walt Disney World Spring and Summer Crowds in 2018

Guide4WDW.com

by: guide4wdw - Collin


How To Beat the Walt Disney World Spring and Summer Crowds in 2018   


With the opening date of Toy Story Land officially being debuted yesterday for June 30th, we can all but guarantee higher than usual crowd levels this summer. While Toy Story Land isn't necessarily the most anticipated addition to the parks by many (even though I think it should be and shared my feelings on that a short while ago), it will still inevitably draw large crowds looking to catch a first glimpse of the expansion. On top of that big debut, I wouldn't be surprised if we continue to see incredibly long wait times for Flight of Passage on into the summer and the foreseeable future. With the combination of both high volume generating experiences, in addition to the new offerings coming to Disney Springs this year, it will inevitably be another incredibly crowded summer in the parks. 

However, when I say that, I don't want it to be a deterrent for those looking to plan a vacation. The spring and summer are a few of my favorite times to visit the parks. The spring, in particular, is one of the very best times to visit (followed closely by Christmas time in the parks) as a result of one of my favorite events Disney puts on year after year over at Epcot, The Flower and Garden Festival. On top of that, the Florida spring weather typically fluctuates between 60 and 85 degrees, which is ideal, in my opinion. It's warm enough to be enjoyable, yet not too overwhelming hot to make the most of your entire day. Summer, while much warmer at 90+ degrees nearly every day, is still a bearable level of heat if you make the right precautions and learn to take breaks throughout the day. You may have to alter your plans and accept that you might not get quite as much accomplished in the heat of the summer, but its can be a great time to visit nonetheless. Unfortunately, increased crowd levels come with the nice weather and breaks from school for many guests, but you can overcome that barrier in many ways! A select few of you may remember a post we shared a few months ago on a very similar topic (How To Manage The Crowds During Walt Disney World Peak Attendance Dates), but today we're expanding upon what we shared there with a few tips specifically for the upcoming peak seasons.  



Go Early and Stay Late 

Arriving at the parks early on in the day, or even before the gates officially open for the day, can make a huge difference in how much you get accomplished during peak crowd levels. Throughout the first two to three hours of any parks opening, you're likely to achieve more than you will the rest of the day. It's a tried and proven philosophy and a huge part of our How to Ride 6 or More Attractions in 90 Minutes or Less: With Only 1 Fastpass+! Of course, our strategy for touring the parks isn't what works for everyone and may or may not work for your vacation strategy. Your goal may be to take your time and relax your way through the parks, and if that's the case, this may not be the best option for your situation. But, with that being said, I can assure you that it is a great way to avoid the peak crowds of the day. 

If getting up early isn't your style or if you just want to catch up on some extra sleep from staying out the night before, another great option is to stay out late. As the night slowly draws to a close in all four parks, wait times will fall, and some guests will start filtering out of the parks. It's not going to be quite as productive as early mornings, but staying late (especially on extra magic hour nights in the summer) can be a great way to squeeze in a few extra attractions or experiences into your day.    


Head to the Resorts

As many of you know, I love Disney resorts. Not only because of their elaborate theming and ever present story elements, but also because they're largely accessible from any point on property, even you're not staying at that particular resort. Resorts are the ultimate escape from the parks. You get the chance to enjoy a few moments of air conditioning, a relaxing seat in the lobby, or even a quick meal at one of the wonderful quick service or table service dining locations.  

As the afternoon approaches, the crowds at all Disney parks will reach a peak at around 2:00 on an average day. As that time frame rolls around, we like to catch a monorail to a nearby resort or a bus back to our home resort and take a few minutes to recharge. If you leave right after the afternoon parade, you can avoid the heat of the day, the peak crowds, and miss out on very little due to avoiding the longest wait times of the day. After you spend a few hours away, head back to the parks that night recharged and ready to finish the day in a spectacular way! 
      

Explore the Less Popular Attractions

To me, this is one of the many joys of traveling at peak times. Two members of my family are school teachers so, often times, we are forced to travel during peak seasons. But, the results aren't always a bad thing. When you travel to the parks when it's crowded, you tend to find new things to take part in and enjoy what you may otherwise overlook. For example, a short time ago, we went to Epcot on the Fourth of July. The crowds were brutal and just kept growing as the nighttime spectacular drew closer. In all reality, we expected elevated crowds, and it wasn't all that bad in comparison to New Years Eve in Magic Kingdom. Nonetheless, we wanted to take a break from the crowds in the middle of the afternoon, and decided to hop on the Seas with Nemo and friends. It did have a fairly decent wait of 30 minutes, but considering the holiday, it wasn't a bad wait time at all. At the end of the attraction, you exit into Sea Base Alpha. For years, we had casually looked through the area (even dating back to its earlier attraction days as The Living Seas with the Hydrolators), but never really spent the time to dive a little deeper into all that is offered there and to take the time to interact with the incredibly knowledgeable cast members on hand. It was a great experience and just goes to show that even the less popular attractions can be a great part of any day in the parks. Sure, they may not be quite as thrilling as flying on the back of a banshee on Flight of Passage in Pandora, but still make for an outstanding and memorable moment of any vacation.           



Take a Break and Head to the Pool 

Particularly in the summer, taking a short break form the parks for even just a few hours to head back to your resort can make all the different. Rest and recharge poolside, and return later at night as the sun start to dip below the horizon. It's a great break from the heat, can prep you for a night at Disney Springs or back at the parks, and tends to be a highlight of guests that are young and young at heart. It seems so simple, but heading back to the pool and escaping the hoards of crowds shuffling through the parks in the middle of the afternoon in 90+ degree heat is an excellent option. Step away from it all, and enjoy a few minutes of quiet or a quick cool off in the wonderful pools at any number of the resorts. 

Head to the Dolphin for an Ice Cream

This may be the simplest item on our list but, grabbing an ice cream is never more memorable than doing so at Walt Disney World. There's something about that family atmosphere, the joy on the peoples faces around you, and the simple pleasure of the experience that makes all the difference. What may come to mind when you think ice cream at Disney could be a classic ice cream from the Plaza Ice Cream Parlor (try the ice cream cookie sandwich... it's amazing!), but perhaps a more trivial location is at the top of our list. That simple location is the Walt Disney World Dolphin's Fountain Ice Cream walk up window. It's a cheap treat, a short boat ride away from Epcot, and one of the more memorable desserts on property in regards to both atmosphere and taste. After you grab your dessert of choice (they have more than just soft serve, but the soft serve is outstanding), head over to the Boardwalk or Yacht and Beach Club for a little live entertainment or snore around a campfire by the water. Either way, it's a great way to spend the night and escape a vast majority of the crowds of Epcot, which is just a few steps away via the back entrance to the park.          



Book Fastpasses in the Afternoon 

This particular tip may sound a bit contradictory to our "head to the resorts" tip. But, if you're concerned about making the most of a very limited amount of time in each of the parks, your best bet to ride the most attractions possible on peak days is to book your fastpasses in the afternoon. In doing so, you'll guarantee yourself a few attractions with no wait times, and you can really make the most of the high crowd levels of the afternoon without spending an unnecessary amount of time waiting in line. 

A second strategy you may want to attempt, if you're really limited on time, is to book your fastpass+ selections as early in the day as you possibly can. Then, once you've completed those attractions, you get access to your fourth "revolving fastpass" that can be used time and time again for any attractions that have not distributed all of their fastpasses for the day.     

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!




My Link