Trip Planning

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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Planning for Disney World – without fail

by on August 22, 2014

I may have a problem.

On our first trip as a family to Disney World in 2009, I bought a stack of books. I won’t even mention the amount I spent, but it was exorbitant. And crazy. And when I flipped through all of them, I just hungered for more information. So I flipped through websites, joined Disney posting boards, and generally dug through nearly every possible nugget I could find. I joined the touringplans.com site, and planned multitudes of options based on our plan. I may have also planned a back-up plan. Or five. And still, I felt ill-prepared.

A small assortment from my Disney World library

A small assortment from my Disney World library. Don’t worry. I have the 2013 version as an e-book.

I probably have a problem.

When I got to the end of it, I realized a few things. Frankly, planning can’t plan for every single unforeseen circumstance. But it did really help to negotiate my trip, and get real information from every place I could. Planning for Disney World can be overwhelming, but calming down, and making quick choices can make for a better vacation for everyone. While sorting through all of it caused me headaches – certainly you can learn from my advice.

First – visit the library. Yes, the library. It’s free! Grab as many of the outdated books you can, and flip through them. Certainly don’t dig through all of them with any vigor – but at least to get an idea of the parks, and a generalized set of information. Background helps.

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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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Disney World: Getting the Most of Cast Members

by on August 17, 2014

What do the following three questions have in common?

Tinkerbell in a thoughtful moment. Photo by Thomas Cook

Tinkerbell in a thoughtful moment. Photo by Thomas Cook

  • Is the rain real?
  • Is Mickey Mouse a cat or a dog?
  • What time is the Three O’clock Parade?

Answer: They are all questions I was asked as a Walt Disney World cast member.

I hope it’s clear that these questions are not exactly the best questions to ask a cast member. I don’t mean to imply anything about the guests who asked these questions, especially since the parade question is one I got asked once a week or so over a number of years.

This article is not about questionable questions. It’s about how you should ask cast members about park information. It seems like a simple issue, but any longtime cast member will tell you their many stories of frustrating guests and their questions.

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Favorite Park Series: Disney’s Magic Kingdom

by on August 17, 2014

Magic Kingdom

We made it!

We did it. We made it to the end of my Favorite Park Series. To read my highlights on Epcot, Animal Kingdom and Hollywood Studios, here ya go!

Now, let’s see what puts the ‘Magic’ in Magic Kingdom.

Memorable Moments 

“Here you leave today and enter the world of yesterday, tomorrow and fantasy” – Walt Disney.

Indeed, these memorable words are embodied in the ambiance and attractions of Magic Kingdom. Main Street, U.S.A., is reminiscent of small town America, with Ma and Pa general stores full of delicious goodies and fun souvenirs. Adventureland creates exotic experiences such as boarding the Jungle Cruise and joining the crew on the fan favorite, Pirates of the Caribbean. Make your way over to Frontierland and enter the Wild West. Hold on to your cowboy hats

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Avoiding Phobias in Disney World

by on August 14, 2014

Walt Disney World may be the most magical place on earth, but for those of us with intense phobias, a magical day can quickly turn terrifying when confronted with your greatest fear. With this in mind, I’ve selected some of the most commons fears and where guests may encounter them at Walt Disney World, starting with one close to my heart:

Spiders

Spiders are something I am very passionate about avoiding, so I am happy to provide you an in-depth analysis of where to steer clear.

avoiding phobias in Disney World

“Look, Timmy, it’s your worst nightmare!”
Photo copyright Disney

Magic Kingdom

An animatronic tarantula is housed in a cage in the queue for Jungle Cruise in Magic Kingdom. The cage containing the animatronic occasionally lurches forward. The cage is pretty clearly labeled “tarantula”, so it’s easy to avoid; just don’t stand next to it while in line. There is also a red giant spider on the Jungle Cruise in the cave area. However, it’s so unrealistic-looking that even I’m not disturbed by it.

Disney’s Animal Kingdom

If you want to avoid spiders on your trip, Animal Kingdom is where you’ll need to stay alert, starting at the entrance. Past the entrance touch points, you may spot a cast member holding an aquarium container surrounded. Do not approach, or do so with extreme caution. The container will likely be holding a huntsman spider or tarantula. Spiders feature heavily in It’s Tough to Be a Bug!, the most terrifying attraction in all of Walt Disney World and possibly the universe. A “friendly” tarantula in on screen for several minutes and black widows drop and dangle overhead. This attraction has been known to upset people of all ages with a fear of bugs. You may be better off skipping the show if you know you have issues with insects.

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Walt Disney World Tips for Big Groups: Stay Sane, Stay Happy

by on August 13, 2014

You love your friends and family. I know it. You know it. But when you’re on vacation and suddenly everyone has different ideas of what they want to go and where to eat and when they need bathroom breaks don’t you… sort of… want to push them in the lake? Just a little? Whether this is a once-in-a-lifetime trip or a yearly affair, vacationing with a big group of people can get stressful in a hurry. Here are a few Disney World tips to save your sanity and keep things running as smoothly as possible.

As told entirely by screenshots of The Emperor’s New Groove.

Copyright - Disney

Copyright – Disney

Because nobody knows how to party like Kronk and Yzma, that’s why.

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TouringPlans Everywhere: Budgeting for A Tokyo Disneyland Trip

by on August 12, 2014

cinderella-castle-rear-tokyo-disneyland-guests-posing-640x514A couple of weeks ago I posted an introduction to my upcoming trip to Tokyo Disneyland as part of TouringPlans Everywhere. In this post I will talk about how much each component of the trip costs and share a time line of my different planning stages.

The earliest stage of planning for my trip to Tokyo began back January of this year. The idea of every TouringPlans employee taking a trip to a different Disney destination was thrown around, and we were asked to get a rough estimate on how much a trip would cost. When I was assigned Tokyo, I knew I would want to stay beyond the 4 days the company was paying for. My wife and I discussed how many days we could actually afford to go, and we ended up settling on 8 nights. Anyway, like I said , my first step was to get an estimate, so I started searching for hotel rooms and airfare to get a basic idea. After quickly going through a few travel websites (I was just getting an estimate so I didn’t shop around too much), I figured the total cost would be around $5825. Breaking it down, my estimates were $2500 for airfare, $2000 for hotel rooms, $1000 for food, $325 for park tickets, and $600 for transportation in Japan. That total price is too high for my wife and I to afford, so I knew we would have to adjust the plans or get lucky and find some deals to save us some cash.

Time line

1/14/14 – Very early on in my trip planning I was shopping around for hotels in the Tokyo Disney Resort area. Like any major city or theme park, Tokyo Disney Resort has many hotels with a wide variety of price ranges to choose from. I started to see some good deals for just a little over $100 a night. This would save us some money, but if we stayed at them we would have to take some form of transportation in to the resort. As I mentioned in my last post, there are several hotels on Tokyo Disney Resort property that are also located near a Disney monorail station. After comparing prices at the six non-Disney-branded hotels, the lowest price ended up being the Hilton Tokyo Bay. Hilton.com listed rooms at $171 a night, so we whipped out the credit card and locked in our dates. However, we knew we wanted to splurge a bit and stay in a Disney-branded hotel for at least one night, so we only booked three nights at the Hilton.

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Say Y.E.S. to Disney

by on August 7, 2014

t_logoMy kids are always trying to convince me of the educational merits of activities they enjoy, like video games. At some point, I know they will try to convince me that visiting Walt Disney World is an educational experience. They will actually be right. The Disney Y.E.S. program, which stands for the Disney Youth Education Series, offers accredited educational opportunities. These programs run at both Walt Disney World and Disneyland for students ages 5 through 18. Topics range from arts and humanities, leadership and career development to natural and physical sciences. The Disney Y.E.S. program also offers discounted Disney tickets to its attendees. 

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Visiting Disney with an Infant

by on August 7, 2014

Princess Aurora and her Twin

Princess Aurora and her Twin

After getting pregnant, I’ll admit I was worried that visiting Disney World with a baby would prove too difficult. However, after bringing my daughter Annie at 11 weeks old, I realized that with a little more planning, we could still have an amazing time. With that said, allow me to share my tips and tricks for bringing an infant to Disney.

Top Tips for Visiting Disney with an Infant

- You can check your car seat and stroller for free with most airlines. It’s your choice if you want to check them at the desk or the gate. The employees don’t usually mind either way. It’s a good idea to put a name tag on your stroller (unless someone has a better stroller than you…then you might want to “accidentally” walk off with theirs – I did say I would give you tips and tricks, didn’t I?).

- Most airlines will let people with children board first, giving you extra time to get situated without the crowd. Take note that the airlines will not let you sit in an exit row if traveling with an infant, so keep that in mind when booking your seat.

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