Money Matters

Disney World Ticket Scams

by on August 26, 2014

Disclaimer: While I am a Cast Member, I do not speak for the Walt Disney Company. The following information is based on my own experience and does not necessarily reflect the Walt Disney Company’s policies. Please see the Walt Disney World website for official rules and regulations regarding ticket use.

I’m always on the hunt for a bargain, and I’m willing to take some risks to get one–my recent purchase of clearance yogurt comes to mind. However, Walt Disney World tickets are not the purchase to mess with. I work as a vacation planner (read: ticket seller) at the Transportation and Ticket Center, and I’ve witnessed the many ways guests have tried to game the system to avoid paying full price for tickets. Here’s a quick list of the most frequent Disney World ticket scams and why you should avoid them:

Disney World ticket scams

Beware “Cheap Tickets.” They’re especially scary at night. Photo by Maddi Higgins

Used Tickets

Somebody bought a 7-day ticket, only used 5 of the days. Why not hand those two days off to somebody else and get a little extra cash? Then you can pick up those extra days at Cheep Ticketz on 192 for a major discount.

Why you shouldn’t try it:

The only way to know if a ticket has any entitlements left is through Disney. So when you stop at Tickets ‘R Us on 192, you’ll have to take their word that there are any days left on the ticket. You also have no idea if the person who originally purchased the ticket also got the No Expiration option; if not, the days on the ticket expired 14 days after first use. The biometric scanning information is connected to the ticket, so if you have a different finger than the original user, you will not get through the touch point. So unless your used ticket comes with the chopped-off index finger of the original owner, you won’t have much luck getting into the parks.

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Five Simple Ways to Save over $500 on Your Next Disney World Vacation

by on August 21, 2014

Save Money On A Disney World Vacation

Follow these simple tips to save some of these!

There are several ways to save money on a Disney World vacation. The most obvious are getting a great deal on your airfare, traveling during the off season, choosing to stay at a less expensive hotel, using the Disney Ticket Calculator to purchase your admissions and eating at economical restaurants. But what do you do if you’ve done all of this and you still need to cut your budget? Well, I’ve got you covered, my friends! Here are five simple and painless ways to save over $500 on your next Disney World vacation.

Before We Begin

For each of these five tips, let’s assume we are a family of four traveling to Disney World for a one week (seven night, six day) vacation. Our sample family includes Mr. Smith, Mrs. Smith, little Susie (age 6) and little Tommy (age 3). We’ll first do the math for full price at Disney World and then compare it to the math with our tip in place. Prepare to be amazed!

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10 Things to Consider When Booking Excursions Through Disney Cruise Line

by on August 20, 2014

So you’re going on a Disney Cruise! That’s awesome. As I’ve referenced before, most things on a Disney Cruise are included. Most. One biggie not included is port excursions, however. And let’s be honest, port excursions can play a pretty big role in your cruise. Excursions are a terrific way to see the exciting ports you are visiting, and planning them is not something that should be taken lightly. There are a lot of factors to consider! And here are 10 of them.

1. Do You Need to Book Anything? – Maybe! But maybe not! Excursions shouldn’t make or break your ability to cruise. My family has done cruises where we didn’t book a single excursion, and we’ve done cruises where we’ve spent a small fortune on excursions. Think about your vacation. Is your goal to relax and not be tied to a schedule? Does the idea of a quiet ship with empty pools while others are rushing around in ports sound like heaven to you? Maybe passing on excursions this time is for you. Or, is the ship primarily floating transportation taking you to new countries and experiences? In that case you’ll want to either plan some excursions on your own if you’re comfortable, or book excursions through Disney.

2. Cost – For most of us, when considering whether we want to book an excursion, the first thing we ask is, “How much?” And then, even if the price doesn’t scare us too much, we remember the question we should have asked, “How much times four?” (or however many members are in your cruising party). When you’re budgeting for your cruise, the cost of excursions has to be factored in. Excursions can range from $12 for the Butterfly Garden in St. Thomas to $649 for a 4 hour Alaska Hummer Excursion and everything in between. Some of them are worth every single penny. Some of them are not.

3. Booking On Your Own – You can almost always save money by booking port adventures on your own as opposed to booking through Disney. Sometimes a lot of money! Does that mean you always should? Definitely not. While money is a big factor, consider other things as well. Are you comfortable traveling in a foreign country on your own? We’ve toured Rome on our own twice now, and we’ve become comfortable using public transportation and dealing with the language barriers there. If the thought of walking through Rome with a street and bus map doesn’t appeal to you, however, booking through Disney may be worth the cost. Are you going to be so worried about missing the ship that you won’t be able to relax? That’s a valid concern and it won’t happen on a Disney excursion because the ship will wait for you (it won’t wait for you if you are touring on your own and are running late). It’s also possible you just don’t want to deal with the stress involved in planning and researching port adventures you book on your own (you are going on vacation after all!). If this describes you (and I have dear family members who care very much about these real concerns), then booking your port excursions through Disney is for you. So, get off your wallet and book through Disney.

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Kids’ International Gateway: Saving Money

by on July 30, 2014

Hi! My name is Alex, and I am 12 years young.

Me and Mickey

I was less than a year old so I do not remember this at all.

Since the age of zero I have been travelling to Orlando and its surrounding areas like Clermont and Kissimmee from 4,377 miles away in Kent in the United Kingdom, which is about 20 miles south east of London. This summer will be my 38th trip, so obviously I have developed a keen interest in Disney, Universal, and all of Florida. As most 12-year-old girls do, I definitely enjoy shopping, so I’ve conveniently put together a series of tips for young shoppers on how to control how much you are spending and how to avoid being in debt with your parents whilst Disney tries to milk every last penny, cent or Euro you have earned, begged, borrowed or stolen for your trip.

I have personally experienced the hunger resulting from not knowing this first tip.

The price you see is not the price you pay.

 There was a hot dog stand in the petrol station (gas station) outside Publix, an American supermarket like Waitrose in England (and by supermarket I mean grocery store; yes, I’m bilingual!).

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Disney Discounts with Bounce Back Offers

by on July 22, 2014

t_logo_fbWhat is a Bounce Back Offer?

Are you looking to save money on your trip to Walt Disney World? Of course you are. You already know about the time and money you can save by using this very site, but with the rising cost of a Disney vacation, finding discounts wherever you can is more important than ever.

To keep guests returning for more and more visits, Disney frequently offers incentives that are referred to as Bounce Back specials. These are discounts offered to people while they are still on, and hopefully enjoying, their vacation. The intent of the discount is to entice guests to come back between specific dates and stay on property, not to mention locking people into another Disney vacation.

For quite a while Bounce Back Offers have been a good deal for anyone looking to come back within a year for another Walt Disney World resort stay. The offer flyer (and it’s only found on flyers, not as emails, ads, or smoke signals) can be found in your hotel room, usually placed on the table with other bits of resort-related ephemera.

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Seven Disney Souvenir Buying Mistakes

by on July 8, 2014

The 1,200 Vinylmation figurines staring at me from the shelves of my home office right now will tell you that I am a veteran Disney parks shopper. I truly understand the desire to troll the theme park shops for the perfect souvenir. But as satisfying as it can be to come home with just the right thing, there are plenty of pitfalls to Disney parks shopping. Here are seven potential Disney souvenir shopping mistakes and how you can avoid them.

Some Disney take-home items can be had for free.

Some Disney take-home items can be had for free.

1. Thinking that you have to pay for souvenirs.

Believe it or not, you can score many items for free at Walt Disney World. They practically throw Mickey stickers at kids during resort check in and there’s always a reason to grab a free celebration button. You can also get free bookmarks by participating in the Enchanted Tales with Belle attraction at the Magic Kingdom, free stick puppets at the Epcot Kidcot Fun Stops, or a lei at the Polynesian resort. These free items can go a long way toward scratching that “but I MUST bring something home” itch, with no additional outlay of cash.

And don’t forget that the best Disney souvenir is usually a memory. “Remember when Cousin Billy spilled his milk on Goofy’s shoe at Chef Mickeys?” “Remember when Baby Sally hugged Cinderella for the first time?” “Remember when we finally got Grandma to go on the Teacups and she actually had a blast?” Assuming that you’ve got a digital camera or a camera-equipped phone, these memories can all be captured gratis. Disney PhotoPass photographers will even take group shots using your camera, at no charge. Isn’t a photo of Mom wearing Mickey ears a better souvenir than a snow globe?

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Stretch Your Dining Budget by Sharing Counter Service Meals

by on July 4, 2014

t_logo_fbSplitting counter service meals is an easy way to stretch your vacation dining budget. Whether you are on the Disney Dining Plan or have decided to pick your spots out of pocket, finding counter service meals large enough to share is a bonus. If you are on the Disney Dining Plan, you can save credits for a resort breakfast before you leave for home. If you are paying out of pocket, you can save $10-15 every time you split a meal. That’s more money for Dole Whips and souvenirs! Appetites can be unpredictable, and I certainly wouldn’t plan on sharing every counter service meal, but knowing that you do have that option gives you some added flexibility when laying out your dining strategy. (If you’re on the Disney Dining Plan and have young ones, don’t forget that kids can order from the adult menu for no extra charge.)

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Pro Tips: Low and No Cost Ways to Improve Your Disney Vacation

by on June 30, 2014

t_logoLast time, I brought you quick tips. This time, we’re talking pro tips. Maybe you’ve been to Walt Disney World a few times now and are ready to plus your experience. Presumably, you’re already subscribed to TouringPlans.com and are saving time and money by using tools like our mobile app, Crowd Calendar, and customizable touring plans. If not, why not? Anyway, read on for some ideas to start with for enhance other areas of your vacation. Here are some of our Walt Disney World tips:

Note: Any product we recommend is one we have used and purchased with our own money. We haven’t received compensation of any kind (no money, no freebies) for mentions in this article. 

Pro Tip 1 – Enhance Your Accommodations

This doesn’t mean bring your scented candle and special blanky with you. One, candles in a hotel room are a fire hazard. And two, bag fees are high enough without bringing extra stuff with you. No, what I mean is get the same or better accommodations for less. You could sleep four to a room at Pop Century. Or you could get more space by either renting a house off site from a company like All Star Vacation Homes or renting onsite from a Disney Vacation Club broker such as David’s Vacation Club rentals. If you really want to go pro, consider an Owner’s Locker (though you probably won’t keep a laser printer in yours like we do for our TouringPlans mobile office).

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52 Disney World Souvenirs Under $5

by on June 5, 2014

Sometimes you’re at Disney World and you treat yourself to that awesome Dooney & Bourke bag, diamond Mickey pendant, or custom Disney artwork. Huzzah and glad tidings to your good fortune!

But there will also be times when those big budget items are just not in the cards. There may be many situations where you need to buy something at Disney World, but don’t want to break the bank. A few of these reasons might include:

  • You need to placate a child. Don’t judge, we’ve all resorted to the occasional bribe.
  • You need to bring a token gift to someone at home. For example, the neighbor kid who watered your plants merits just a little something.
  • You’ve have to bring a bunch of small somethings to a group. For example, everyone in your child’s preschool class gets a small gift. Or you’re getting favors for a party.
  • You’re on an extremely strict budget, but you want just a little something to commenorate your trip.
  • You’re participating in a Secret Santa or similar gift exchange or game with a small expenditure limit.

It’s all too easy to find expensive Disney souvenirs at the parks, but finding little trinkets can often be a challenge. Here’s a photo tour of some ideas for small purchases in the Disney parks. Each of the 52 items pictured below has been available for less than $5.00 during the past six months.

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TouringPlans #Everywhere: Budgeting for A Disneyland Trip

by on June 4, 2014

Photo courtesy Guy Selga, Jr

Hello! You may remember from my last post about traveling to Disneyland for TouringPlans #Everywhere that I am totally “California Dreamin” (on such a…uh, spring’s day?). Well, now I am back to give you a little more insight into everyone’s favorite subject: budgeting!

What?! You don’t love to budget? I guess that’s probably normal, which explains why I do enjoy it (e.g. I’m not normal). The sad fact for those of you who do not like to discuss vacation budgeting is that it is an essential part of the trip. My plan here today is to go through my experience budgeting for a Disneyland trip, tell you my thought process, and give you some tips.

Basic Info

As you may recall (but probably don’t), I will be travelling with my wife and two children, ages 5 and 3 at the time of the trip. We live in beautiful, scenic Pennsylvania, which, if you have a knack for geography, you will notice is quite far from California. And yes, my wife has to go although “if I didn’t tell her I could leave today.” We will be traveling in early October, specifically, around the weekend of October 11-13.

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