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  1. #1

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    Red Face First timers seeking tips

    My husband and I are going to Disney World together for the first time in November 2013 for our 5th anniversary. (its really in December but we thought that'd be a terrible time to go). We are extremely frugal and home bodies so this is a huge deal for us. We want to make sure we don't make any stupid decisions and get the best value. I'd appreciate advice.

    We are planning to go November 10-17. Arriving evening of the 10th, leaving 17th morning. We are staying at a value resort and getting 5 tickets. One day will be spent at downtown Disney. We have done tons of research on the dining plans and have decided in order to avoid the stress of food costs, we are going with the dining plan that includes 1 sit-down, 1 cs and 1 snack. (we would constantly be worrying about not spending too much, not because we can't afford it but because we can't relax with money.. This way we can just relax and get whatever we want, even if it's an expensive item). With flights our package is about 2600-something.


    Do you think our package seems fair? Our plane tickets makeup $520 of that. Any advice?


    Also, I am wondering why there seems to be 2 different ways to book a package vacation on disneys website. I think I read that they are transitioning to a new booking method and so perhaps they aren't done yet and I saw the old and new version. Also, what is "magic your way"? Is that somehow different than another Disney package or is that what they are all called?


    Thank you!

  2. #2

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    Re: First timers seeking tips

    I did my first trip last year with my girlfriend and mom for a total of 10 days. It was quite the adventure. Be prepared for all the nice crammed bus rides. Let me try and help you as best I can.

    Your first mistake was BOOKING THROUGH DISNEY! By booking everything though sites like priceline and such I saved myself around $500-$600 Disney likes to charge a rack rate for their "Packages." Also The whole dinning plan is trouble from many of my friends and family that had visited before me. You pay up front and end up on a mission on trying to use all the points that come with the plan. So I opted out when we went and averaged around $80-90 for a nice sit down meal once a day and quick service for the rest. so around $120 per day. Again this was for three adults.

    From me just looking up on priceline and booking your hotel and tickets through travelocity including you price you gave for the flight I come up with a figure of $1985. Again this does not include that dinning plan you paid for. Its around a $600 cut in price.

    When we stayed we chose the pop century. One reason and this is a HUGE reason. They have their own bus and does not share like the all stars. If you stay at the all stars good luck. I spoke with a few people who were waiting for their bus and they had been waiting for almost a hour for a darn bus.

    Also try look in to Tour guide mikes site because this was the best $20 I spent out of my budget. He helps with guiding you as to what park to visit and when. We didn't wait in lines thank to this guide.

    Another tip. Make two accounts on disney for their dinning reservation. Here's why. As soon as your 180 in advance window opens MAKE SURE TO MAKE YOUR RESERVATIONS! This is the worst part I found of the trip. Now these two accounts come in handy by being able to make two reservations for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. It gives you somewhat of a choice.

    Now I hope this info does help because the first visit is SO OVERWHELMING!!!! Just go and have some fun, Take your time don't rush because you will not even scratch the surface of the resort. This place is MASSIVE!

    Some other tips and advice.

    Go on a nice evening horse and carriage ride over at port Orleans riverside. You can make reservations from your room phone. You'll love it and it's really romantic.

    Take a ride in the balloon in DTD

    And if you can swing it on your last night of the trip take a private boat ride to watch the firework from the lake in front of magic kingdom. It's around $320 but well worth it to close out your trip.

  3. #3

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    Re: First timers seeking tips

    Hi Cautioners,

    Happy early anniversary You picked a great time of year to go to the parks -- cooler weather and very low crowds! That pricing sounds like what I would expect to pay for your trip. "Magic Your Way" is just what Disney calls any package on their site - there is no difference between that or any other package. I think they recently redesigned their website, and they are probably getting ready to transition over to a new system associated with Fastpass+, so maybe that is why you saw two different methods?

    I have always booked my hotel and park tickets through Disney, and then booked flights separately. Sometimes you can find a better deal on other travel sites, but not always, and I like the peace of mind of dealing directly with Disney and knowing that their customer service will take care of me if I have any problems with my reservation. (BTW, I have never actually had any problems, haha).

    I would check back with the Disney site every couple weeks to see if any new special offers come up for the dates of your trip. They have various promotions throughout the year (discounted rooms, free dining plan, etc.), often in the fall off-season, and if you've booked through Disney, they will let you change your reservation if you see a better offer far enough in advance. There is a special section on their website for promotions, or it doesn't hurt to call the reservation line periodically and just ask if they have any new discounts.

    I have only used the dining plan once during a promotion when it was free, so that probably made me see it with rose-colored glasses, but I thought it was great and easy to follow. Just make sure you have all your table service reservations booked well in advance, and be well-informed about how your credits work. (For example, some of the fancier restaurants will use up 2 of your table service credits). The credits don't exactly cover all the food you would eat in one day, so be prepared to still need a bit of a food budget to cover extra snacks, alcohol, and restaurants at Downtown Disney, which (as far as I know) don't accept the Dining Plan. My strategy for making the credits stretch is to use the table service option at lunchtime. Technically, that isn't the best use of money since dinners are more expensive than lunches, but if you eat a big table service lunch around 2pm, then you really won't need to eat anything other than a snack or two for the rest of the day

    I'm sure you already know all this since you've done your research, but those are some of the details that I'm not sure all books would cover.

    Also, you do hear some horror stories on this board about bus service, especially from the Value resorts, but I personally haven't experienced it, even while staying at the All-Star resorts. Yes, you do have to wait for the bus, but only once or twice have I had a wait more than 15-20 minutes. At the time of year you are going, I would only expect the bus to be super crowded at the end of the night right after fireworks or right at closing time. So, you might have to stand like a packed sardine for a 15-minute bus ride -- not a big deal. But if you want to avoid the crush, the smart thing to do at the end of the night is just kick back on a bench in the park at closing time and enjoy the atmosphere until the cast members have to shoo you out. By then, the bus lines will have gone down considerably! Your other option to avoid a super crowded bus is to leave the park a bit before fireworks/Illuminations/Fantasmic ends.

    Plan a lot, but go with the flow if any small speed bumps crop up. Make a budget, but pad it a little to leave room for fun, unanticipated expenses (like a cute, overpriced hoodie that you just HAVE to have). Disney World has a reputation for being expensive, but really, the prices for food and clothes are on par with what you would spend in any big city. A full day park ticket costs about what you would pay for an afternoon at an NFL game or an evening at an arena concert, and instead you get a FULL DAY of the happiest place on earth! So even for a fellow frugal homebody like myself, it is always money well spent.

    Geez, I wrote way too much. Got a bit carried away there!

  4. #4

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    Re: First timers seeking tips

    I've been to WDW about a dozen times, and about half of those I have setup through Disney. The advantage is that if there are changes/ new deals and such it is very easy to switch over. I haven't found that I pay more doing it that way due to the fact thet we plan around those deals and so end up saving money.

    The Dining plan is a good/bad thing for me. On one hand it takes away all that worry about budgeting and watching your money because it's all payed for up front. On the other hand getting to the "reservations" you make is a bit stressful. Instead of a leisure walk in the parks the tension builds as you get closer to the reservation time. I'm one of those "what ever" type of guys on vacation and like to take what ever opportunities pop up. Worrying about having to be someplace at a certain time just gets to me.

    The Dining plan you said you have is the one we usually get. Cost wise it is a good one as well as having enough food. Once you see the prices at some of the sit downs you will feel much better about it. It is very easy to get "your monies worth", so don't worry on that account.

    The buses are a necessary evil. We avoid the value resorts paying a bit more for the "less populated" resorts. I have never had an issue with having to wait more then 15 minutes for one, but again, don't plan on jumping on a bus right after the fireworks show. Take one more walk around a section of the park and let the crowds thin out. Instead of wasting time standing in line waiting for a bus, use that time to enjoy another aspect of the parks.

    Don't get too tied to a "schedule". You ARE going to miss stuff. As stated above, these places are huge. If there are "must dos" on your list get them out of the way early, and then you can relax and enjoy the rest of the day. Remember, your on vacation! have fun!

  5. #5

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    Thumbs up Re: First timers seeking tips

    I think they recently redesigned their website, and they are probably getting ready to transition over to a new system associated with Fastpass+, so maybe that is why you saw two different methods?
    Thanks for your reply! What is fastpass+?

    We checked Expedia/Orbitz etc and then gave us the exact same price for plane travel so we just went with Disney to group it all together.
    Last edited by Cautionersx; 02-01-2013 at 07:58 AM.

  6. #6

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    Re: First timers seeking tips

    I've been to WDW about a dozen times, and about half of those I have setup through Disney. The advantage is that if there are changes/ new deals and such it is very easy to switch over. I haven't found that I pay more doing it that way due to the fact thet we plan around those deals and so end up saving money.
    Thank you about that first tip. That's really good to know. I will call throughout the year to see if there are any deals we can take advantage of.


    Also, the reason we got 5 tickets was so that we could go back to a park because no doubt there will be at least once that we say "I wish we could have spent more time in ____". I have a feeling it will be magic Kingdom...

  7. #7

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    Re: First timers seeking tips

    Go on a nice evening horse and carriage ride over at port Orleans riverside. You can make reservations from your room phone. You'll love it and it's really romantic.

    Take a ride in the balloon in DTD

    And if you can swing it on your last night of the trip take a private boat ride to watch the firework from the lake in front of magic kingdom. It's around $320 but well worth it to close
    that all sounds amazing! Thank you!

  8. #8

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    Re: First timers seeking tips

    Fastpass+ is a new system that will be offered in the future. I'm not sure when it will start. It will be a way to reserve a set number of Fastpasses for rides before you even get to WDW, instead of having to go get Fastpasses when you get to the park and roll the dice with what return time you will get. This, along with new Disney apps, is part of a revamp of the whole system, so that might be why their website seemed to have different reservation methods popping up. I have no idea whether any of those new systems will be operating for your trip, though.

    Getting 5 day tickets was a great idea -- I'm sure there will be things you'll want to revisit! Did you get Park Hoppers? Some people swear by them, but I personally find it exhausting to navigate more than one park in a day, so I like to save a bit of $ and just stick to one park per day. I think that is an especially good plan for first-time visitors like you, since there probably won't be much that you'll want to skip over at any of the parks.

  9. #9

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    Re: First timers seeking tips

    There is nothing wrong with Booking Through Disney. In A LOT of ways it is A LOT better than going through discount clearing houses.

    My Mom works at DRC (Disney Reservation Center) so I am admittedly bias, but DRC agents are so great at helping newbies and veterans find and plan amazing vacations!

    So DO NOT feel bad or wrong about booking through DRC. You get a lot more support and help with DRC than you would with a simple website.
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    Re: First timers seeking tips

    Pricing is relative. $2600 is okay based on what you might expect from a vacation. I can say it is reasonable without doing a breakdown.

    Okay, here is a possible breakdown.

    Airfare: $550
    Tickets: $570
    Food: $600
    Hotel: $880

    You can nickle and dime, and I do think you can reduce the upfront costs, and be more frugal on the back end. You still might end up spending the same amount.

    My feeling is you can stretch out the costs to 7 days and spend the same amount. Adding addtional days isn't that much more.

  11. #11

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    Re: First timers seeking tips

    Quote Originally Posted by PBandJ View Post
    Fastpass+ is a new system that will be offered in the future. I'm not sure when it will start. It will be a way to reserve a set number of Fastpasses for rides before you even get to WDW, instead of having to go get Fastpasses when you get to the park and roll the dice with what return time you will get. This, along with new Disney apps, is part of a revamp of the whole system, so that might be why their website seemed to have different reservation methods popping up. I have no idea whether any of those new systems will be operating for your trip, though.

    Getting 5 day tickets was a great idea -- I'm sure there will be things you'll want to revisit! Did you get Park Hoppers? Some people swear by them, but I personally find it exhausting to navigate more than one park in a day, so I like to save a bit of $ and just stick to one park per day. I think that is an especially good plan for first-time visitors like you, since there probably won't be much that you'll want to skip over at any of the parks.
    I did not get park hopper. It sounded stressful to me. Perhaps good if you have only a couple days but since we are getting 5 tickets I didn't think it was necessary at all.

  12. #12

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    Re: First timers seeking tips

    So then all transportation between the Disney parks, hotels, and downtown Disney is free via the buses, yes? And what do you recommend for bringing a bag, like a backpack? Where do you leave your bag when you go on a ride? (obviously someone who has no theme park experience here). I was hoping thee were some good Disney World navigation map apps for my nexus 7 tablet but it seems there are none.

  13. #13

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    Re: First timers seeking tips

    Quote Originally Posted by Cautionersx View Post
    So then all transportation between the Disney parks, hotels, and downtown Disney is free via the buses, yes? And what do you recommend for bringing a bag, like a backpack? Where do you leave your bag when you go on a ride? (obviously someone who has no theme park experience here). I was hoping thee were some good Disney World navigation map apps for my nexus 7 tablet but it seems there are none.
    The bus system is free throughout the resort. (Have fun with it I just it was crazy but still found a love hate relationship with them. I even had to take a picture in front of one before we left to come home.)

    I took a small backpack and you'll have to carry it everywhere you go. You take it with you while you ride attractions.

    As for navigation I was lost most of the time and loved it due to all there is to see and do.

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    Re: First timers seeking tips

    Quote Originally Posted by Cautionersx View Post
    I did not get park hopper. It sounded stressful to me. Perhaps good if you have only a couple days but since we are getting 5 tickets I didn't think it was necessary at all.
    Park hopping is fun especially if your younger. This last trip in Nov. I had both my sons with me, the youngest (24) brought his girl friend. And they would hit 3 parks a day, sometimes they would add just one more trip over to Magic Kingdom to ride "Pirates" one more time before going to bed

    My wife and I took used it with the dining plan. If we felt like going to MK and supper was at EPCOT that night it was no big deal. I enjoyed the extra freedom a park-hopper gives me.

    As for maps, google earth works well.

  15. #15

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    Re: First timers seeking tips

    I did the number crunches when i went and to me the Dining plan constricted me too much and didn't seem like I was going to save any money with it. I could see this helping out if you have kids but for just two people eating I didn't see a money savings in it at all. My main issue with it is there isn't a lot of flexibility in where and what you can eat so if you wanted to get something not part of the plan you would end up spending money on food anyways. I would look at Tom Brickers site though for lots of helpful hints in regards to the dining plan. I posted it below.

    Disney World Dining Plan 2012 Costs & Reviews - DisTouristBlog

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