Posts Tagged ‘reservations’

The Basics: A Timeline for Your Disney World Trip

by on March 7, 2016

Castle (6)This is a continuation of our Back to Basics Series. Scroll to the bottom to see our other Basics posts.

My previous article in the TouringPlans blog Back to Basics series focused on using the TouringPlans Crowd Calendar to decide when to go to Disney World. Once you’ve made that all-important decision, it’s time to start planning the details of your trip. Using a timeline is an excellent way to keep your trip planning on track. It’s also a fun way to ratchet up the excitement as you count down the days to your vacation.

This article starts with a chart showing essential milestones in a Disney World planning timeline, followed by an example of a timeline used by a family preparing for their trip. Plus, learn how subscribers can receive personalized alerts and use their own Dashboard on to ensure they don’t miss the crucial dates in their timeline.

© Sarah Graffam

Use a Disney World Trip Planning Timeline to Keep You on Track for Making FastPass+ Reservations and More

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Be Our Guest Lunch Preorder and MDE: A First-Hand Report

by on March 19, 2015

Be our guest lunch preorder

Enjoy enchanted eats with less anxiety using Be Our Guest lunch preordering though My Disney Experience (photos by Seth Kubersky)

Believe it or not, it’s now been over two years since we first began reporting on FastPass+ lunch reservations at the Magic Kingdom’s Be Our Guest restaurant. In that time, we’ve covered the seemingly never ending saga of Disney’s experiments with managing demand for the popular venue, and now they finally seem to have settled on a (hopefully?) long-term solution. On March 12, the My Disney Experience (MDE) app for iOS devices was updated to accommodate Be Our Guest lunch preordering for guests making dining reservations, and I was among the first wave of guests to take advantage of this newly streamlined process.

To begin, make sure that the MDE app on your mobile device is updated to the latest version.

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Disney World Planning Challenges: Tough-to-Get Reservations—From FastPass+ to Dining

by on September 17, 2014

Seven Dwarfs Mine Train Sign. Photo by Katie McNair

Photo by Katie McNair

Even with lots of research, some aspects of a Walt Disney World vacation are—let’s just say—resistant to planning. In fact, they can seem like downright mysteries to first-time vacationers and expert Disney World planners alike. A major challenge when planning a Disney World vacation is successfully reserving tough-to-get experiences that become available for booking at unpredictable times initially, book up extremely quickly, or both. Although there is no surefire way to snag these reservations, there are some ways to improve your chances.

First, though, it can be helpful for you to have a bit of background on the experiences that have given or are currently giving planners the most difficulty.

Hard-to-Get Reservations

Photo by Sarah Graffam

Photo by Sarah Graffam

Currently topping the list of difficult-to-get reservations are FastPass+ reservations for Meet Anna and Elsa at Princess Fairytale Hall and Seven Dwarfs Mine Train at Magic Kingdom. In addition, obtaining reservations at Magic Kingdom’s Be Our Guest Restaurant can be a real challenge.

Experiences that have proven difficult for guests to book in the past and that can still present a challenge in some cases include FastPass+ for popular rides like Epcot’s Soarin’ and Test Track as well as Toy Story Mania at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, FastPass+ for parades and nighttime shows, FastPass+ for shows at special events such as Star Wars Weekends, reservations for the Frozen Summer Fun Premium Package, reservations at Magic Kingdom’s Tomorrowland Terrace Fireworks Dessert Party, and, the original most-difficult-to-get reservation, dining at Cinderella’s Royal Table restaurant.

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Be Our Guest Lunch Standby and Same-Day Reservation Policy Updates: September 1, 2014

by on September 1, 2014

Trying to get a lunch table at Be Our Guest can be downright Beastly...unless you know the restaurant's latest policies. (photos by Seth Kubersky)

Trying to get a lunch table at Be Our Guest can be downright Beastly…unless you know the restaurant’s latest policies. (photos by Seth Kubersky)

Last week’s blog post about my unsuccessful attempt to eat lunch at Be Our Guest provoked a number of comments and questions, so I spent a humid Labor Day morning trying to make sense of the latest policies and procedures at the Magic Kingdom’s newest premiere restaurant. Be warned that everything in the below Be Our Guest lunch update should be taken with a shaker of salt, since operations are being adjusted on a daily basis — much to the chagrin of front line cast members, who often don’t know exactly how things will operate on any given day until they attend their morning meeting. With that said, here is my latest first-hand experience with Be Our Guest lunch standby and return time tickets, as well as same-day dinner reservations.

Be Our Guest Lunch Standby and Return Time Tickets

One of my first stops after rope drop was Be Our Guest restaurant, where much to my amazement I found a couple of people already in the standby queue for lunch. When I initially inquired about standby and return time tickets, I was told there was no guarantee yet whether they would be used that day, and was invited to wait in line or return closer to the 10:30 a.m. opening time.

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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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Bad Disney Advice

by on February 14, 2014

It happened again this weekend. I was on the monorail heading to the Magic Kingdom when I overheard a family talking about where they wanted to go for dinner. They all agreed that the Beast’s Castle looked like the most fun so they’d go there. Then they struck up a conversation with another family and found out there was a restaurant IN Cinderella’s Castle! They decided that’s where they would show up for dinner later that night. Yep- one of the hottest tickets in all of Walt Disney World and they were planning to stroll up like a dinner at Denny’s. I couldn’t help mentioning to these folks that they might want to check at Guest Services if there were reservations available but they dismissed my suggestion. The other family agreed they should be fine to get in by just approaching the podium whenever the felt like it.

Have you been in this situation before? Holding your tongue because you know that people are giving bad advice… and there is nothing that you can do about it. I find myself in this position really often. I’m surprised how often I hear advice that is bad or just plain wrong! So today I’m going to cover some of the absolute worst advice I’ve heard. I’d love to hear from you in the comments if you’ve heard something worse or if you’ve unfortunately fallen for one of these before. Thanks in advance for sharing!


There’s a great view of the fireworks from the Yacht Club… or not.

Don’t waste your time doing anything besides Disney when you’re in Orlando. Wow, I love Disney! I live for Disney! If you cut me I bleed pixie dust, but even I don’t agree with this statement. There is so much to do and see when you’re here. Why not visit one of the other parks? Or spend a day at the beach or Kennedy Space Center? Or have I mentioned the awesomeness that is Gatorland? If you’re on a budget it’s totally understandable to limit your trip but if not at least see what else is available. Orlando might just surprise you!

Get there in the afternoon to avoid the heat. This is one I hear all the time and it’s honestly terrible advice. Of course, I don’t practice what I preach. I get to the parks in the afternoon all the time but I also don’t do very much when I get there as the lines are all very long at that point. Not to mention, during the hotter months it’s still incredibly hot in the afternoon. If you’re going in the summer it’s a better idea to go first thing in the morning and head out BEFORE noon. That way you get the coolest temperatures of the day and the shortest lines.

You can get tickets cheaper at… I always shy away from shady sounding ticket offers. Sure there are reputable travel agencies that offer slight discounts but if anything sounds too good to be true it probably is. Disney isn’t cheap and I understand the temptation when you can’t drive 2 miles in Kissimmee without seeing neon signs advertising discounted tickets. Just keep in mind you might have to sacrifice an entire day of your vacation on a timeshare sales pitch to get that price on your tickets.

You should go all day every day. I think it’s important to accept you’ll never do everything at Walt Disney World during your trip. I feel sorry for people that try to go all day, every day during their vacation. It’s a frantic pace, I don’t know how people do it! More often I think people try and fail at this strategy. A better idea is to go in the morning, take a nap, and then head back in the evening. When you’re walking back in refreshed be sure to look at the haggard people heading for the exit.

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Disneyland Resort Begins Accepting Online Dining Reservations Starting October 3

by on September 25, 2013

Walt Disney World visitors have grown accustomed to booking their dining reservations online using an automated system, but Disneyland diners have been stuck using old-fashioned phone or email options. Yesterday it was announced that, as of October 3, 2013, all Disneyland Resort dining arrangements can be made through this new website.

This upgrade means that the email reservation system will be discontinued, though phone bookings will still be accepted via 714-781-DINE. In addition, Disneyland will now begin requiring a credit card at the time of reservation; a $10 per person penalty will be charged if you miss your reservation without canceling or rescheduling (which can also be done online) a day in advance. This policy applies to all table service restaurants on property, both Disney-operated and franchises.


Disney Cruise Line: Castaway Club Impact on Excursion/Activity Reservations

by on September 10, 2013

Disney Cruise Line has a membership rewards program called the Castaway Club which, depending on your needs, may have an impact on your cruise experience.

Sailings on any of the Disney cruise ships count toward your Castaway Club status.

Sailings on any of the Disney cruise ships count toward your Castaway Club status.

What exactly is the Castaway Club?

This is a method Disney uses to reward repeat cruisers. It works somewhat along the lines of a frequent flyer program in that the more you use the service (Disney cruising), the better your “status” and the more perks you get.

What are the status levels?

  • If you’ve never taken a Disney cruise before, you are a First Time Guest.
  • Guests who have completed 1 to 4 Disney cruises have Silver Castaway Club status.
  • Guests who have completed 5 to 9 Disney cruises have Gold Castaway Club status.
  • Guests who have completed 10 or more Disney cruises have Platinum Castaway Club status.

There may be some rare occasions, such as a Disney cast member cruising on business (tough life, eh?), where a voyage might not count toward your Castaway Club status, but the vast majority guests will be able to count all their Disney cruising toward their status level.

So what does having status mean?

There are a number of benefits available to all Castaway Club members, including “Welcome Back” stateroom gifts, and priority check-in at the port terminal. As your Castaway Club membership level increases, the benefits increase. For many guests, one of the chief benefits of Castaway Club membership is that the higher your status level, the earlier access you have to reservations for many aspects of your cruise including port excursions, on-board dining at the adults-only Palo and Remy, spa experiences, and some childcare situations.

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