Earlier this summer, the Walt Disney World Resort changed the monorail operating hours. Well, with Labor Day Weekend upon us and summer quickly fading away into fall at WDW, it appears that the monorail will be running different hours again. Beginning on September 1 and lasting (right now) until September 26, the Walt Disney World Resort monorail service will be seeing another set of updated hours, which are:
Magic Kingdom Resort Beam: 8:30 a.m. – 11:00 p.m. (12:00 midnight on hard ticket event evenings)
Magic Kingdom Express Beam: 9:30 a.m. through 1 hour after the Magic Kingdom fireworks
Epcot Beam: 9:00 a.m. – 11:00 p.m.
During times when the monorail will not be running, additional watercraft and buses will be available to transport guests.
There is no word yet regarding whether after September 26 monorail hours will still be reduced or if they will return to their standard schedule. As a reminder, the Walt Disney World Resort monorails are currently undergoing an update where they are adding an automated operating system.
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:
Beware “Cheap Tickets.” They’re especially scary at night. Photo by Maddi Higgins
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.
In Florida, summer seems to last until October. Unless you have a personal flurry, like Olaf, you will quickly find yourself looking for ways to stay cool. In addition to ducking into some of the air conditioned attractions around Walt Disney World, a sure-fire way to cool off and satisfy your snack cravings is to enjoy a cool, refreshing treat. Let’s explore some of the top ten places to find ice cream in Walt Disney World. (Prices listed are current as of post date.)
Ice Cream Cookie Sandwich at Sleepy Hollow.
Sleepy Hollow (Magic Kingdom): Sleepy Hollow Refreshments is a quaint window at the entrance to Liberty Square, just off the hub. You’ll know it from the aroma of funnel cake wafting through the air, beckoning you to come closer. But don’t be seduced by the funnel cake, there are giant ice cream sandwiches to be had here! The ice cream cookie sandwich is probably one of best bargains if you’re using a Disney Dining Plan Snack Credit. And at $4.19, I’d argue it’s a bargain paying out of pocket, as well. You get two full-sized, giant, homemade chocolate chip cookies (often still warm from the oven), and squished between them is a generous scoop of vanilla ice cream. It’s large enough to share, but why would want to?! It’s that darned yummy!
My very favorite thing about visiting Disney World is the memories you take home with you. Amongst the celebrations and excitement at the parks, something even more amazing can happen. A magical moment occurs that makes the whole trip so much more meaningful – a personal story you will never forget. I call this the ‘Disney Dazzle.’
My husband and I make trips to Orlando 2-3 times a year as my husband’s aunt and uncle live there. Rewind back to February 2014, and we were on our very first trip with our newborn, Annie. Whenever we visit Disney World, my husband’s uncle, Keith, always has a surprise in store for us. This trip was no exception. Earlier in the day, Uncle Keith had mysteriously left our group for several minutes. He returned, said nothing about his disappearance and we continued about our day. That night, he told us he had a surprise but that we would have to wait a little longer. I walked up and down Main Street, U.S.A. with ants in my pants wondering what his secret could be. After what seemed like FOREVER (although in reality, it was no more than 20 minutes), he led us into the Town Square Theater. I really had NO idea what we were doing there, only remembering the little television playing cartoons and the Camera Center full of camera supplies and pins. While looking around, I saw the sign ‘Meet Mickey Mouse at Town Square Theater’ and it hit me. Uncle Keith had gotten us a FastPass+ reservation to meet Mickey Mouse! Now, guests have had the opportunity to meet Mickey in the Town Square Theater since 2011, but it wasn’t until October of 2013 that a special magician Mickey would grace us with his presence. (I won’t give away all the surprises because every encounter with ‘the boss’ is unique!) As a Disney buff, I’m embarrassed to admit that I had no idea one could meet Mickey in such an exciting and intimate setting. I was in for a real treat!
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!
Hi, Everyone! Welcome to the Best Week Ever here at Walt Disney World! This week we’re stopping by Disney’s Hollywood Studios to say goodbye to The American Idol Experience and The American Film Institute Showcase. Next, we’ll stop in to see how things are going with the Polynesian Resort refurbishment, and then we’ll wrap up this week at the Magic Kingdom. Let’s get started by taking a look at American Idol. While I’m not surprised that this show is going the way of the dodo, I’m sad to see people lose their jobs. Hopefully there are better plans to utilize this space for all the talented actors who worked here. In the short term it seems pretty obvious that with the Frozen Sing-A-Long suddenly offering FastPass+ on September 2 that the show will be moving into this space. Does anyone want to see video of American Idol before it closes on August 30? Let me know in the comments, and I’ll be sure to include it next week.
Already closed as of August 17 is The American Film Institute Showcase. I stopped in this weekend to get a final look and video walk-through for you, but first, the gift shop:
Click to read more and more see video of the Showcase.
I’ve got some interesting news notes for today, including new animals at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, MagicBand info, and Downtown Disney news. Let’s dive right in to the fun.
For those who will be attending the Frozen Summer Fun Live event at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, beginning September 2 guests have the option to choose the “For The First Time In Forever: A Frozen Sing-Along Celebration” as a tier 2 FastPass+ option. I have no clue if this means that the paper tickets that were being handed out will still be issued; however, I would guess not with the addition of guests being able to make FastPass+ reservations ahead of time.
One of the things I’ve heard people mention is how they would like to buy additional MagicBands, especially as gifts for family and friends, but were unable to. Well, that has now changed; MagicBands can now be purchased without being linked with tickets at the time of the sale. Guests can purchase the solid color MagicBands at the four theme parks, Downtown Disney, Disney’s Contemporary Resort, Disney’s Pop Century Resort, Disney’s Art of Animation Resort, and Port Orleans Resorts without linking tickets to the bands. Guests will be limited to only purchasing 5 MagicBands at a time. More purchase locations may potentially be added in the future. The only caveat is that guests cannot purchase the specialty bands; those must still be linked with tickets at the time of purchase. (For example, guests must link the special Frozen MagicBands with park tickets at time of purchase.)
As many TouringPlans.com subscribers do, we buy the most recent Unofficial Guide, download the Lines app, read the blog posts, plan our days in Walt Disney World, and have our trip in order well before we depart our homes. This advanced planning helps us make the most out of our vacations in the Happiest Place on Earth.
However, there are times on our trip where our advanced planning works too well. For example: you have decided to spend the morning in Magic Kingdom park, utilizing the morning Extra Magic Hours that are in place. When you show up, you are some of the first people at the tunnel, and you go on to conquer your entire morning Touring Plan…in two hours.
I’m being a bit unrealistic in my example, but there can be points in your trip where things work out so well that you are blessed with that glorious object we Disney fans all crave: extra time.
So what is there to do if this happens? Plenty, my friend. Plenty.
The plan is designed to start at 11:00 AM but we were through the turnstiles and had the plan pulled up on the phone by 10:00 AM. The extra hour probably helped in the long run since the new Frozen Summer Fun – Live bumped up the crowd level to a solid 9. It looked like it was already a 7 when we arrived.
Looking at the list, I forgot to send it though the optimizer, but the first step was to ride Toy Story Midway Mania!, which would probably have been the suggestion anyway. We headed straight to Pixar Place and into the standby queue. The posted wait time was 75 minutes, but we made it through in 45. When the line splits before the stairs at the end of the main queue room, the Cast Member directed us through the FastPass+ lane, likely accounting for the saved 10-15 minutes.*
Take a day — or at least 2/3s of one — to walk around Animal Kingdom with Touring Plans (photos by Seth Kubersky).
This week it was time for me to make some observations from Disney’s Animal Kingdom, and is there any place in Walt Disney World more welcoming on a muggy, humid day? Wait, don’t answer that… As an infrequent visitor to Animal Kingdom, it was my objective to visit as many of park’s major and mid-tier attractions as possible, in order to test Derek Burgan’s controversial theory that DAK is indeed more than a “half-day park.”
While the typical Touring Plans approach is to arrive before rope drop, I decided to give Animal Kingdom a fighting chance by pulling onto Disney property a half hour after the park’s 9 a.m. opening time. The first sight that greeted me past the toll booths was a large section of the overflow parking lot where grass was being replaced with asphalt.