More Disney World Tips & Tricks: Answers to frequently asked questions

Continuing the 2014 Tips & Tricks, today we’re going to talk about some more frequently asked questions from potential Disney guests. Disney World can be a confusing place. Talking to my husband who has been to Disney with me about dining reservations was enough to make his head spin.

About a week ago, I started some frequently asked questions with the basics:

  • When should I go to Disney?
  • Where should I stay?
  • Where can I meet characters?
  • And general questions regarding the Disney Dining Plan.

Well since that time, I’ve received more questions, so here are some great answers for you!

I’m flying down and am taking Disney’s Magical Express. Do I need to book service ahead of time?

Yes. While this service is free, each member of your party has to be registered to ride the Magical Express. Your MagicBands will have the confirmation attached to them, so put them in your carry-on luggage and it will be the first of many waves of your wrist during your vacation!

Is there a Magical Express bus for each Disney resort?

No. The Orlando airport is about 30 minutes away from Disney World property, so buses fill up as much as possible based on scheduled arrival times. There are several bus lines that service the various areas of Disney World: “Epcot area”, “Magic Kingdom Area” “Wide World of Sports Area” and “Animal Kingdom area”. It wouldn’t be surprising if you are staying at Animal Kingdom Lodge and make a few stops at Coronado Springs and the All Star resorts before your final destination. Same goes for your return to the airport (which is why your departure time is at least 3 hours before your outbound flight).

I’m arriving late at night, how early can I check into my resort?

The reservations roll over at 6 am every morning. If you arrive earlier than that, you will either have to pay for an additional night, or wait it out. If you plan on checking in early, I highly recommend completing online check-in as Disney will make every attempt to have a room ready for your arrival. If not, you can always check your luggage, go exploring, or hop and early bus to one of the parks.

Once I’m at Disney, are there scheduled bus times to the parks?

Nope. Buses run continuously, usually every 15-30 minutes depending on the time of day. At peak times: an hour before park opening through ~11 am they run more frequently as well as closer to park close and after evening shows. During the middle of the day, they will likely run a little less frequently. If you just miss a bus or it fills up, there’s usually one quickly behind it. Disney also has the ability to launch more buses if a driver relays long lines.

When will there be a discount for my travel dates?

Disney typically releases discounts 2-3 months before travel dates (sometimes 4 months if you’re lucky). Historically discounts have gone like this:

January – February: some sort of dining and/or ticket discount or room discount

March – early June: room discount (2014 offered a ticket discount as well) – this typically excludes the weekend of Easter

Mid June – August: room discount

September (after Labor Day) – early December: FREE DINING! (this excludes the week of Thanksgiving and typically the few days following).

No discounts have been given around Christmas and New Years as they are typically highest travel times. Remember, there is no guarantee that Disney will follow their previous pattern. You are always able to book your package and when the discount becomes available apply it. When changing a package, you will be required to pay another deposit. But don’t worry, you don’t lose your initial deposit. Everything gets applied toward your grand total.

I’m ready to book my package, now what?

It depends on what you want. If you are doing a room only reservation (no park tickets), you are required to pay one night’s room charge plus tax. The remaining balance is due upon arrival.

If you are booking a package (including park tickets and any extras including the Dining Plan), you are required to pay $200 at time of booking. The remaining balance is due 45 days prior to arrival. You are welcome to pay more than that $200 as well. Between the time you book and your final payment date, you are able to pay as much or as little as you want (a really nice way to budget for your vacation). Minimum payment through Disney’s system is $20.

If you have any other questions, please feel free to ask or search around my blog. There’s a wealth of information available!

You have a question that I didn’t cover here? Feel free to contact me any time!

Ready to get started planning your 2015 Disney World vacation? Please contact me at any time for a free quote. The benefits to using an authorized Disney vacation planner include saving time before and during your vacation with itinerary planning which can help save you hours of standing in line each day. Plus you won’t have to watch for available discounts, research resorts, wake up early for dining reservations, or stay up late for FastPasses. The best part about using a travel planner instead of planning yourself? It’s totally FREE! Plus I’ll take away some of the stress and confusion of planning a Disney vacation (especially if it’s your first one!)It’s also a worry free cruise opportunity. I’ll walk through through all of the steps to the process with a few little insider tips along the way! If you already have your vacation planned and are interested in transferring your vacation, ask me how!

Disney World Frequently Asked Questions

 

With all the changes in Disney World over the last several years, even adults that went as children or teens have questions. This handy dandy guide is meant to help answer some of your basic questions about Disney World and get you familiar with all the things Disney has to offer, including FastPass+ and MyMagic+

When should I go to Disney World?

Check out the Disney Crowd Calendar to see when crowds are lowest. Prices are typically lowest in January and February and again in September – the second week of December (excluding the week of Thanksgiving and the weekend following). Ticket prices do not change throughout the year, so the difference is crowds and resort room costs.

Where should I stay?

This is up to you! Disney has some many resort hotel options. I know I’m a bit biased but I definitely suggest staying on site vs. off site. The benefits outweigh the small difference in cost.  Disney breaks their resort hotel rooms into 4 categories: value, moderate, deluxe, and deluxe villa. For more information on all Disney hotels as well as the pros and cons, see Disney Resort Hotels 101. If you are looking for a suggestion on where to stay based on your budget and your family, please let me know! This is one of my favorite parts of helping plan Disney vacations and with knowledge of all Disney resort hotels, I’m happy to help assist you without you crunching numbers over and over!

How many parks are in Disney World?

Disney has 4 theme parks: Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Hollywood Studios, and Animal Kingdom

Which park has the most rides?

Magic Kingdom. This is also the best park for families with younger children as there are many character meet and greet options as well as great small ride options.

Where can see meet Disney characters?

Disney characters are in all four theme parks. If you are looking for princesses, check out Magic Kingdom’s Princess Fairy Tale Hall or World Showcase in Epcot. If you want Mickey and the gang, they are just about everywhere. In Town Hall in Magic Kingdom, he even TALKS! Check the daily schedule when you go into your park of choice to find your specific Disney character. You can also check out the My Disney Experience App for more information.

What are the differences in the park tickets?

Disney has 3 park ticket options:

  • Base tickets – One park per day. You may re-enter the same park as many times as you like throughout the day
  • Park hopper tickets – This add on options will allow you to visit any and all Disney theme parks in the same day
  • Water Park Fun & More tickets – This add on option provides you the same number of Fun credits as park tickets. This will allow you to visit either of Disney’s Water Parks, DisneyQuest, Disney’s Wide World of Sports, or Oak Trail golf-course (9 holes) You can use more than one Fun credit in a day. If you plan on doing one day of water parks, this is not a great option for you!

What is Memory Maker?

Memory Maker is Disney’s new photography package. For those that remember PhotoPass or PhotoPass+, this system is similar, except the photo is all digital! For a flat fee of $149 ($199 if you purchase on site), you receive an unlimited amount of photos during your Disney trip. You will then be able to share and download them for up to 45 days after your trip. Unlike the previous system, you do not receive a disc. With a wave of your MagicBand, you can link photos to your account, including photos from popular attractions. In addition, some dining experiences are also included.

What is the FastPass+ system?

This is a change from the previous legacy/paper FastPass system. It allows you book your FastPasses online prior to your arrival, saving you time in the park. You are allowed up to 3 per person per day. These must be used in the same park each day. It’s best to schedule them later in the day. These can be changed as many times as you’d like up until the moment your FastPass is scheduled. In the parks, this can be done at on of the kiosks or on the My Disney Experience app on your smart phone. For more detailed information and FastPass+ strategy and what attractions are included, visit FastPass+ 101.

Do I get the same benefits if I stay at Swan or Dolphin?

Yes and no. Many of the benefits of staying at Disney World hotel are the same with a few small differences. 1. You don’t receive Magic Express service to and from the airport 2. You do not have access to Disney’s Dining Plan 3. Parking at these specific resorts are not free.

Do I get MagicBands if I stay off site?

No. MagicBands are for Disney Resort guests only. You don’t need to have park tickets to receive a MagicBand either. When you purchase park tickets, you receive access to FastPass+! Disney is working on a trial to allow off-site guest who have already purchased tickets to schedule FastPass+ 14 days prior to arrival.

Do I have to choose which park I want to visit before I arrive?

You definitely do not. With FastPass+ or any in park dining reservations, you are in a way choosing your park for the day, but those things can be changed. You are not required to declare a park before your arrival. Remember, check Extra Magic Hours and the best park by day of the week during your planning process. Too much work? Work with a Disney travel planner like Magical Vacations. We do all the hard work for you and provide a specialized, personalized itinerary to maximize your time in the parks. All of this is free to you!

Do I need the Disney Dining Plans?

Need? No. Is it useful? Most of the time. It really depends on how your family likes to eat. If you enjoy sitting down at restaurants every day or want to dine with Disney characters, the Dining Plan is a great option for you. Most Disney restaurants are included in the dining plan. For more information on getting the most out of the dining plan, see a previous post: Flavorful Friday. Remember, if you add the Disney Dining Plan, everyone in your room must be a part of it.

What is included on the Disney Dining Plan?

Disney has several different dining plan options. The three most popular are Quick Service, Dining Plan, and Deluxe Dining Plan. The differences are the amount of credits you receive. All plans receive a refillable mug per person to be used at any Disney resort (not in the parks). Each of the credits are per person.

Quick Service – This plan provides you with 2 quick service credits and one snack credit per night stayed.

Disney Dining Plan – This plan provides you with 1 table service credit, 1 quick service credit, and one snack credit per night stayed.

For both table service and quick service meals, you receive an entree, dessert, and non-alcoholic beverage. If choosing to use your credits at breakfast, a dessert is not included. You can also use a table service credit for a buffet.

Deluxe Dining Plan – This plan provides you with 3 table service (or quick service credits) and 2 snack credits per night stayed.

For table service meals, you receive an appetizer, entree, dessert, and non-alcoholic beverage per credit. For quick service credits, you receive the same entitlements as the plans above. You do not receive an appetizer or dessert for breakfast. You can also use a credit for a buffet.

Do I need dining reservations if I’m not on the dining plan?

YES! If you are planning a sit down meal, you absolutely need a reservation! There are a select few that you can get a same day reservation or walk up and wait, they are highly, highly recommended.

You have a question that I didn’t cover here? COMMENT! I’ll answer 🙂

Ready to get started planning your 2015 Disney World vacation? Please contact me at any time for a free quote. The benefits to using an authorized Disney vacation planner include saving time before and during your vacation with itinerary planning which can help save you hours of standing in line each day. Plus you won’t have to watch for available discounts, research resorts, wake up early for dining reservations, or stay up late for FastPasses. The best part about using a travel planner instead of planning yourself? It’s totally FREE! Plus I’ll take away some of the stress and confusion of planning a Disney vacation (especially if it’s your first one!)It’s also a worry free cruise opportunity. I’ll walk through through all of the steps to the process with a few little insider tips along the way! If you already have your vacation planned and are interested in transferring your vacation, ask me how!