Posts Tagged ‘prices’

Quick-Service Universal Dining Plan Price Increase

by on December 26, 2013

Universal Dining Plan price increase

New Universal Dining Plan Quick Service pricing as of yesterday (photos by Seth Kubersky)

Universal Orlando quietly delivered a lump of coal to guests this holiday week with a stealthy Universal Dining Plan price increase affecting their new Quick Service prepaid food program. The Universal Dining Plan — Quick Service program, which replaced the former all-you-can-eat Meal Deal earlier this year, formerly provided adults with one quick-service entree, two beverages, and two snacks for $18.99.

Yesterday, I noticed that all of the parks’ signage advertising the Universal Dining Plan — Quick Service, the price has increased by $1 to $19.99, and the snack allotment has been reduced from two to one. The children’s plan for those age 3-9 is unchanged.

Universal’s web site about the dining plan was temporarily disabled yesterday, but now it is back online with a new PDF detailing the table service version of the plan; we’ll keep an eye out for updated fine-print on the quick service plan, and share it with you when available.

Universal Dining Plan handbill from early December with old pricing.

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Sneak Peek: The View at Every Disney World Hotel Room

by on October 3, 2013

Resort View – Main Page

One of the first decisions you’ll have when booking a Disney World hotel room is which view to select. If you’re staying at the Yacht Club, for example, do any Garden View rooms have a view of the Stormalong Bay lazy river? If you’re on the monorail loop, does a Magic Kingdom View really improve your chances of seeing the Wishes fireworks? Is Savannah View at the Animal Kingdom Lodge worth the money?

To help you decide, we’ve spent the past year taking pictures of what you’ll see from the window of every Disney World hotel room – more than 30,000 individual photos. Today we’re giving you a preview of the first resort: Disney’s All-Star Sports Resort.

The first page shows you a map of the entire resort. On the left side is a set of filter options you can use to find exactly the room you want:

  • Room Type Includes Disney’s description of the view, and the bed type in the room (if we know it). All-Star Sports has Standard and Preferred views, most with double beds. Moderates will show queen beds, and so on.
  • Walking Distance to Lobby Useful for cutting down on walking time
  • Walking Distance to Transportation Allows you to find rooms near bus stops, monorails and boats
  • Floors If you prefer ground or upper-floor rooms, you can specify that here
  • Sound Level Helps find the quiet rooms at the resort
  • Accessibility Identifies ADA-accessible rooms by feature, including roll-in showers and more
  • Our Picks Shows only the rooms which the Unofficial Guide has determined to be the best at the resort.
  • Prices You can also filter by price by entering the date you’re checking in.

Set any of these options and click “Show Matching Rooms.” The map will highlight in red all of the buildings which have rooms matching your options.

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Deciding Where To Stay At Walt Disney World, Number Crunching Part 1: Getting the Most Sleep Surfaces Per Dollar

by on February 8, 2012

Choosing a Walt Disney World hotel is clearly a hot topic, often surrounded by lots of discussion and anxiety. Even in my own family, my husband and I have spent countless hours talking in circles about the relative merits of the Beach Club over the Grand Floridian (monorail/walk, Magic Kingdom/Epcot, parks/restaurants). Arrrrrgh!

In an effort to take some of the stress out of the decision making process, I’m going to devote a few posts to some serious number crunching and resort ranking on a variety of factors. My goal is to end up with some solid data to back up the opinion that resort X is better/worse than resort Y, for YOU based on what YOU value.

A view is nice, but not a consideration if your family's #1 value is minimizing price.

DECIDING HOW TO DECIDE

First a bit of background – my 15-year-old daughter Charlie has become competitive in the world of high school debate. Most of the time when she’s in debate mode I have absolutely no idea what she’s talking about, but the one debate concept that I have learned from her is that in any argument you need to have a “value criterion.” The value criterion is a statement about what you value. That value informs how you decide how you’re going to decide.

In terms of Disney resort choice, some possible value criteria might be:

  • Spending as little money as possible.
  • Having access to the greatest number of dining options.
  • Spending the least amount of time traveling from the resort to the parks.
  • Having the greatest number of square feet per person.
  • Having to fold my stroller as little as possible.
  • Having the lowest person to bathroom ratio.
  • Maximizing the number of individual sleep surfaces.
  • Maximizing luxury.
  • Minimizing noise.
  • Maximizing recreational opportunities.
  • Maximizing ease of conducting business.
  • … as well as many other possibilities.

To make your resort decision, start by ranking your values. In other words, choose how you’re going to decide. There is no right or wrong answer, but you must choose which criteria are most important to you, otherwise you have no basis for your decision. For example, your first priority might be minimizing transportation time to the parks, and your second priority might be minimizing cost. A family with those value criteria will stay at an entirely different resort than a family whose values are maximizing restaurant access and minimizing noise. Also bear in mind that, over time, your value criterion ranking will likely change. When my daughters were small, minimizing stroller folding was one of my highest values. Now that they’re teens, that does not play a factor for us. The “best” resort is a moving target based on your value criteria.

The Pop is not an option if your #1 value criterion is having at least three sleep surfaces.

DEFINING TERMS

A quick definition of terms: In my data analysis below, I’ve defined sleep surface as any bed, daybed, or pull-out couch. Most sleep surfaces will accommodate two people (for example, a queen-size bed sleeps two), but I am only counting each sleep surface once. There are some suites with couches that do not pull out to form a bed. I did not include these in my count.

I’ve defined maximum occupancy as Disney’s published maximum number of guests over the age of three allowed to be booked in to the room. I’m not counting infants/cribs. In any instance where I mention price, this is the 2012 weekday value rate published on disneyworld.com. Yes, other times of the year are more expensive. Yes, you can often find discounts that will reduce costs. But I needed to compare apples to apples, and at any given time period the relative resort ranking should stay the same.

VALUE #1: MAXIMIZING THE NUMBER OF SLEEP SURFACES IN THE ROOM

Given the parameters mentioned above, I made the mother of all Disney World resort spreadsheets, inputting every published room configuration at Walt Disney World along with price and number of sleep surfaces.

Spreadsheet Listing Number of Sleep Surfaces at Each Type of Room at Each Resort

Let’s take the hypothetical Smith party. This is a blended family with Mom, Dad, 10-year sister, and 13-year step brother. While technically they could stay in any room with an occupancy of four, this really won’t work for them because sis and step-bro aren’t sharing a bed. They need a room with at least three separate sleep surfaces. Guests may be concerned about the number of sleep surfaces in the room in any situation where non-spousal party members are traveling together.

Using the spreadsheet, I’ll sort by the number of sleep surfaces available.

Spreadsheet Sorted by Number of Sleep Surfaces

A quick glance shows that the minimum number of sleep surfaces varies from a low of one (any room with just one king-sized bed) to a high of seven (in some Disney Vacation Club 3-bedroom grand villas). The Smith family needs a room with at least three sleep surfaces, so we’ll focus on that area of the spreadsheet.

Walt Disney World Hotel Rooms with Three or More Sleep Surfaces

Now the Smiths can see what all their choices are. The options are still overwhelming, so they need to narrow things down.

VALUE #2: MINIMIZING PRICE

The Smiths’ second hypothetical value criteria is minimizing price. They don’t want to spend more than $300 per night. So let’s sort their options with this in mind.

Walt Disney World Hotel Rooms with Three or More Sleep Surfaces, Sorted by Price

A quick glance shows that the Smiths have 5 options under $300 dollars per night: Port Orleans Riverside (with two price points based on view), All Star Music Family Suites, Art of Animation Family Suite, and Fort Wilderness Cabins.

NARROWING FURTHER

Now, instead of a panic-inducing list of hundreds of choices, the Smiths only have five choices – a reasonable number of options to consider in a family discussion. Here are some of the pros and cons they might consider when thinking about each of the five options.

  • A water view at Port Orleans might be nice.
  • A stay at either Family Suite location means two bathrooms.
  • The Art of Animation resort is new.
  • The trundle bed at Port Orleans is small.
  • The Fort Wilderness Cabins have a kitchen and outdoor space.
  • Port Orleans has more dining options within walking distance.

The All Star Music Resort Family Suites have the lowest cost per sleep surface in rooms with more than two sleep surfaces.

VALUE #3: NUMBER OF BATHROOMS

During their imaginary family chat, the Smiths realized that having two bathrooms could really make things easier in the morning. They were willing to sacrifice view, the kitchen, and expanded dining options in favor of an extra bathroom.

That leaves two choices, the All Star Family Suites and the Art of Animation Family Suites. Going back to their second most important value criterion, price, the Smiths decide to stay at the All Star Music Resort Family Suites.

BIGGEST SLEEP SURFACE BANG FOR YOUR BUCK

Since you are not the hypothetical Smith family, I’m including here a sort of the spreadsheet ranked by lowest price per sleep surface.

Walt Disney World Room Price Per Sleep Surface

This sort shows some things that are not so surprising: the standard All Stars rooms have the lowest per sleep surface cost. And some more surprising things: While the Art of Animation resort is less expensive than the Fort Wilderness cabins, the cabins have an additional sleep surface and a lower cost per sleep surface.

There will be more number crunching in upcoming posts. Is there something specific you’d like to see analyzed? Let us know in the comments below.

UPDATE Feb 14, 2012: Based on user comments, we’re providing a link (below) to the XLS spreadsheet so that you can crunch your own numbers. Please link to and/or credit touringplans.com if publish your own sorts. And let us know if make any killer findings. We’d love to know!

TouringPlans WDW Sleep Surface Spreadsheet

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