Trip Planning

Disney Money Saving Tips from Liners

by on April 19, 2014

TouringPlans logoAs we write our updates for the 2015 Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World, I find myself reaching out to Liners for their best quotes and tips.  First, you many ask yourself, “what’s a Liner?” Well, you know Lines? The highest rated Disney free or paid app on iTunes or Google Play? The one that comes with your TouringPlans subscription? In it is a feature called Chat. Subscribers can even access it on their desktop computers by going to http://m.touringplans.com and logging in. It’s a lively unstructured discussion of all things Disney, and there are some pretty knowledgeable users online who can answer all kinds of questions in 255 characters or less. This week I asked, “What are your Disney money saving tips?

 

Chat

A preview of the conversations you’re missing

 

Disney Money Saving Tips from Liners

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Tours of Epcot: Behind The Seeds

by on April 16, 2014

Do you love Living With The Land at Epcot? I don’t know what it is about this quiet, little boat ride that holds my attention. Maybe it’s the fact that it’s one of the few attractions that still feels like the Epcot from my childhood. The Behind The Seeds Tour at Epcot offers guests the chance to walk through the greenhouses seen on the boat ride and take a closer look. While just taking a stroll through this location is worth the price of admission, the tour offers some great “edutainment” about the future of gardening. 

To sign up you simply need to purchase tickets at the desk in the Soarin’ boarding area. We’ve done the first tour of the day in the past for fear they would sell out. However, this time we showed up just 30 minutes before the last tour of the day and were able to join with no issue. Then we just had to meet back by the desk five minutes before our tour time. The below information contains lots of spoilers about the tour. If you’d like to be surprised, you might want to scroll down to the bottom past the numbered sections.

The tour begins when your guide whisks you to a backstage location to explain the tour rules. First, guests are encouraged to ask as many questions as they can. Your tour guide is normally an intern here on the college program with a shocking amount of botany knowledge. I was very impressed with our guide and the frequent questions she was able to answer! Rule number two is that photography is not only allowed, it’s encouraged! I was excited about that one because I often get lectures on tours because they see my big camera coming. It was nice to be welcomed despite the fact that we were in backstage areas. The final rule is the most important: do not touch any plants. This one seemed obvious to me, but what I hadn’t thought of the reason they make this request. In the greenhouse they have exotic plants from all over the world that many people have never been exposed to, and likely will never be exposed to again. The Behind The Seeds Tour at Epcot is not a great time to find out you’re wildly allergic to some rare plant! So that no touching request is just as much to protect you as it is the plants.

IMG_1904

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Easter Activities at Walt Disney World Resort

by on April 12, 2014

©Disney

©Disney

Easter is just a week away (April 20) and Walt Disney World is gearing up for the holiday with some great events the whole family can enjoy. Many different facets across the resort are getting in on the fun.

In The Theme Parks

Magic Kingdom

  • From April 13-20, guests will be able to meet Mr. and Mrs. Easter Bunny on Main Street, U.S.A., in Town Square, between City Hall and the Chamber of Commerce.
  • A special pre-parade will take place on April 19 and 20, featuring Mr. Easter Bunny, springtime characters, dancers, and the Azalea Trail Maids.
  • Speaking of parades, the Disney Festival of Fantasy Parade will be shown twice from April 13-20. Showtimes are at 12:00 p.m. and 3:00 p.m.

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Fireworks & Fun at Fort Wilderness Campground

by on April 11, 2014

IMG_1752I recently got an SOS call from a friend visiting Walt Disney World from out of state. He’d had it with the crazy spring break crowds but he’d promised his kids a fun night and a view of the fireworks. Without hesitation I knew it was time to let him in on one of the best kept secrets on all of Disney property. I told him to walk out of the Magic Kingdom and hop the boat to Fort Wilderness Campground. No, I wasn’t suggesting that he go camping! But I did think his kids would enjoy all the fun (and affordable) recreation options. Not to mention the empty front row viewing for the fireworks! So now I’ll let you in on the same tips I gave him just in case you find yourself in a pinch.

The most important topic to cover at the Campground is transportation. It can be a little daunting at first glance, but it’s actually really simple! The campground has its own internal bus system to take you to various sites. So if you bus in from anywhere on property you’ll end up at their internal bus stop and have to catch another bus to get to the activities. At this bus stop there’s a map with color coded routes. I’ve included the color information below, but it’s always good to double check it as things change. If you take a boat from the Magic Kingdom, it will drop you off at The Settlement, which happens to be where you can find most of the fun.

The Settlement (Route Yellow and Purple at the time of writing) will likely be your main destination when visiting the campgrounds. You can find all the activities listed below there and even more listed here. It’s important to bring cash or your Disney World Resort room key for charging as credit and debit cards are widely not accepted here. Also, more than any other place at Disney schedules seem to change at the Wilderness Campground frequently. If there is any experience you have your heart set on, it’s best to call in advance to verify times and availability. That’s enough business – let’s get to the fun!

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New My Disney Experience App Hints at FastPass+ Changes

by on April 1, 2014

Disney released My Disney Experience version 2.1, its mobile application for iPhone, on Sunday. Disney says the new app has 2 features: easier linking of park admission and the ability to manage FastPass+ selection for your friends.

Coincidentally, a copy of the app’s source code fell off a truck in Queens last month, just as I was walking by. It was my lucky day. Turns out there’s some hidden functionality in this version of MDE, which Disney can switch on and off remotely, to change how FastPass+ will function later this year.

Before I go over those changes, here’s a disclaimer: Absolutely no one from Disney’s Decision Science group has ever, in the history of ever, met me at a bar in Winter Park a couple weeks ago with a USB drive full of emails and Powerpoint documents to confirm these changes. I’ve never even been to the Ravenous Pig. You’re watching too much Homeland, okay? Lay off the Showtime.

Now that we’re straight, on with the show.

FastPass+ for Disney Transportation

The new version of MDE lets guests make bus reservations for transportation to and from the theme parks each day. As proof that programmers have humor, it’s called Bus+ in the code.

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Disney World Ticket Type Primer

by on March 27, 2014

First time visitors to Walt Disney World are often overwhelmed by the number and variety of ticket options. Here’s a run-down of what’s available so that you can make the best choice for your family’s needs.

One Day Admission: Magic Kingdom Park

What is this?: A one-day pass into the Magic Kingdom park. You can enter and leave the MK as often as you like during that day.

Why would I need this?: You want to visit just the Magic Kingdom and you’re only in the area for one day.

One Day Admission: Epcot, Animal Kingdom or Disney’s Hollywood Studios

What is this?: A one-day pass into either Epcot, Disney’s Animal Kingdom, or Disney’s Hollywood Studios. You can enter and leave your one chosen park as often as you like during that day. This ticket is priced slightly lower than the Magic Kingdom one day admission.

Why would I need this?: You want to visit just one of Epcot, Animal Kingdom or Disney’s Hollywood Studios and you’re only in the area for one day.

Things to know: The pricing for a one day Epcot, Animal Kingdom, or DHS ticket is slightly lower than the pricing for a one day MK ticket.

Multi-Day “Magic Your Way” Base Ticket

What is this?: Multi-day admission to any of Disney’s four theme parks (Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Animal Kingdom, Disney’s Hollywood Studios). You can visit only one of these four parks each day, but can enter and leave that park as often as you like.

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Disney Cruise Line Releases Summer 2015 Itineraries

by on March 25, 2014

Sound the horns! Disney Cruise Line has released itinerary information through August 2015. There are some exciting additions to the usual repertoire of DCL sailings – here’s what you need to know.

Disney Magic

Every part of Disney is Frozen.

Every part of Disney is Frozen.

The Frozen juggernaut has now made its way into Disney Cruise Line. For the first time in forever, Disney Cruise will be visiting the fjord region of Norway, with additional stops in Iceland and the Faroe Islands. These stops are part of 7, 9, and 11 night sailings departing from Copenhagen, Denmark.

Additional Northern European ports including Tallinn, Estonia; St. Petersburg, Russia; Helsinki, Finland; and Stockholm, Sweden are part of a 7-night sailing from Copenhagen. A 12-night sailing from Dover, England adds Warnemunde (Berlin), Germany to the port itinerary.

At the beginning of the summer, the Magic will make a long 15-night Eastbound Transatlantic (EBTA) journey from Port Canaveral to Copenhagen, with stops in New York City, St. John’s Newfoundland, and Reykjavik, Iceland along the way. Personally, I had been hoping for a New York/Canada loop as had happened in 2013, but this is only part of the EBTA.

Toward the middle of the summer, the Magic changes course for usual Southern European home. This starts with a 7-night repositioning sailing leaving from Dover and stopping in Gibraltar, Lisbon, and Vigo, Spain on the way to her traditional summer home in Barcelona.

August will see the Magic sailing familiar routes from Barcelona, with a 5 night voyage stopping in Villefranche, France; La Spezia (Florence) and Civitavecchia (Rome), Italy; and three 7-night voyages which add a stop in Naples, Italy.

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FastPass+ Tips for Annual Pass Vouchers and Frozen Meet and Greet

by on March 25, 2014

As I’ve detailed in my recent blog posts, navigating Walt Disney World now that FastPass+ has fully rolled out for Annual Passholders is a whole new adventure that seems to evolve on a daily basis. Here are some updated FastPass+ tips on two of the hottest topics among users of My Disney Experience and the associated MyMagic+ programs: Annual Pass vouchers and the new Frozen meet and greet.

FastPass+ Tips for Annual Pass Vouchers

New FastPass+ tips for Annual Pass vouchers and Frozen meet and greet (photos by Seth Kubersky)

New FastPass+ tips for Annual Pass vouchers and Frozen meet and greet (photos by Seth Kubersky)

One of the most frequently asked questions in the comments to my recent blog posts has been if Annual Pass vouchers that have not yet been activated can be tied to a My Disney Experience account for FastPass+ access. This is important to guests who wish to purchase an annual pass in advance of their visit to make FastPass+ reservations without having the 365-day timer on their ticket start ticking until their arrival. Multiple readers have reported inputing their voucher number as a linked admission pass in My Disney Experience, and being unsuccessful in attempts to then make FastPass+ reservations.

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Disney Cruise Line Pirate Night FAQ

by on March 24, 2014

Ahoy mateys! If you’re going a Disney Cruise, then you’re almost certainly going to encounter a “Pirate Night” during your voyage. Here’s what you need to know to keep the scurvy at bay.

There will be a Pirate Night on most Disney Cruise Line sailings.

There will be a Pirate Night on most Disney Cruise Line sailings.

Is there a pirate night on every Disney Cruise?

Not all, but most of them. There are pirate nights on nearly all Caribbean and Mediterranean voyages. In 2013, the Alaskan cruises replaced Pirate Night with a Pixar Night, but they have had Pirate evenings in the past.

What happens during Pirate Night?

There are three main elements to Pirate Night: a themed party, themed food, and costumes.

Party? Did someone say party?

The party is really more of a performance, with a bit of “clap along with me” interactivity to keep you involved. This will happen by the main pool area. Expect to see the Disney pirate version of go-go dancers strategically stationed at points around the deck. I think of them as the saucy wench equivalent of bar mitzvah dance facilitators. Up on stage, you’ll get a show with characters (Mickey, Goofy, and the other usual suspects) trying to thwart Captain Hook’s diabolical plot to take over the ship. And there’s music – loud, loud music.

Typical Pirate Night Menu.

Typical Pirate Night Menu. Click to enlarge.

The highlight of the event is a brief fireworks show off the side of the ship (weather permitting). Disney is the only cruise line allowed to do this, and it really is cool to see fireworks set off in the middle of the ocean.

It’s good silly fun, but if you’re an adult with a character aversion or a child with sensory processing issues, you might want to skip the party.

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More Adventures with Disney World Annual Passholder Advance FastPass+: DHS & DAK Edition

by on March 22, 2014

Welcome back to the continuing saga of Walt Disney World’s recent roll-out of Annual Passholder Advance FastPass+ privileges to the general public. As explained in our last episode, all WDW annual passholders should now be able to make up to 7 days of FastPass+ reservations within the next 30 days through the My Disney Experience website and apps. Last time, we looked at how I set up my first week of FastPass+ selections, and saw how my first intinerary turned out at Epcot (TLDR: not perfect, but pretty good).

For this followup, follow me to Walt Disney World two least-popular parks for examples of how advance FastPass+ may (or may not) work to your advantage at Disney’s Hollywood Studios and Disney’s Animal Kingdom.

Disney’s Hollywood Studios FastPass+

Much like my day at Epcot, I arrived at the Disney’s Hollywood Studios parking lot a little after 1:00 p.m.

Advance FastPass+

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