Category Archives: Disney Deals and Discounts
Choosing where you will be staying on your vacation to Walt Disney World can be challenging: there are so many great choices! And if you are trying to keep to a budget then choosing can be even more difficult as you weigh the pros and cons of each resort. So what if, after all that, you actually end up choosing TWO hotels to stay in while at Disney World?
I know, you’re thinking “Why would anyone do that? Sounds like a lot of trouble on a vacation!”
Well the thing is, many people DO choose to stay at more than one resort on their Disney vacation, and there are a number of reasons why this might occur. To start, I know that many folks do “split stays” at Disney, especially when visiting during busier times of the year. And some people end up staying at more then one hotel if they decide to add on days to the beginning or end of their trip later in the planning process. Then there are the people that, while they may be staying at a moderate or deluxe hotel for the majority of their stay, will have a late arrival at Walt Disney World, and just want a place to sleep for that first night at a minimal cost. Others take this a step further and stay at a Value Resort for part of their stay and then “upgrade” themselves to a Deluxe Resort for the second part of the stay. And lastly, some vacationers just love so many of the resorts that they can’t narrow it down to one!
Whatever the reason, split-stays are more common than you might think. As a matter of fact, on our last Disney trip, we had a split stay in two different Disney properties. As this was our 3rd trip during the uber-busy week between Christmas and New Years, this wasn’t the first time that we ended up switching resorts, so we kind of expected that to be the outcome.
And honestly, it has never been a problem because Disney just makes the process so darned easy. “How easy?” you may ask? Let me share just how easy….
What is already a pretty painless process can be even easier if you take advantage of the chance to check-in online before you arrive. Doing this will make the check-in process literally take a few minutes. The thing is, remember to do it for both resorts in advance.
On the day of your “switch”, have your bags packed and ready to go before you leave for the parks. You can either bring them down to bell services yourselves, or request that they pick up your bags in your room (if you do this, someone needs to wait there for them). Either way, inform bell services where your bags should be sent and then you’re off to the parks. (Don’t forget to tip them for their help!)
Later that day, when you are ready for a break in the afternoon, or at the end of the day, go to your new resort, quickly check-in, and stop by bell services at your new resort to either retrieve your bags or have them brought to the room (please again, remember to tip for the assistance!).
All that’s left is to enjoy your second resort.
Now there are a few things that you should be aware of:
First, this clearly applies only to Disney resort-to-resort changes: obviously you would have to do all the “changing” yourself if you are going from non-Disney to Disney.
Second, keep in mind that this is technically TWO reservations. So if you have the Dining Plan added, your credits from resort #1 would expire at midnight of the day you check out of resort #1….not at midnight of your last day of vacation. The credits don’t get “added together”, they are 2 completely separate Dining Plans. So watch those snack credits carefully, to make sure you don’t lose them!
And I would say that this process will be easiest if you don’t “spread out” too much when you unpack. For some, that is a problem, but for my family of 3 adults (and especially with a short trip), it’s really no biggie: we can be packed up within minutes, making this a pretty stress-less process.
Disney really makes the process of moving from one resort to another so easy, it really gives you a great solution to the problem of deciding between two resorts: choose BOTH! And then relax, knowing that Disney will take care of the rest!
Planning your trip to Walt Disney World with preschoolers has never been easier.
Beyond the Attractions: A Guide to Walt Disney World with Preschoolers has all the information parents need to plan an unforgettable Walt Disney World vacation with kids, ages 2-5. Written by a mom and Disney veteran who regularly visits Walt Disney World with her young family, this Walt Disney World travel guide is packed with child-focused information, tips, and insights from a parent’s perspective. Its focus on the unique needs of preschoolers and their parents sets Beyond the Attractions apart from other guides.
Author Lisa M. Battista includes all the up-to-date details on toddler- and preschooler-friendly attractions, recreation, lodging, and dining in Beyond the Attractions, but goes well beyond the shows, rides, resorts, and food to consider the logistical challenges that are part of traveling with small kids. Learn about family-friendly services at Walt Disney World such as stroller rentals, Baby Care Centers, and child-care options that will enhance your visit and the memories of your Walt Disney World vacation.
Find more preschooler-focused information in this guidebook including must-do attractions for toddlers and preschoolers; attraction elements that may scare small kids; best attractions for the little daredevils in your family; attractions the whole family can enjoy together; hidden activities when your kids need a break; ideas to keep the kids entertained while waiting in line; descriptions of each Walt Disney World resort; safety tips for your vacation; preschooler packing list and vacation planning timeline; maps showing the locations of preschooler-friendly attractions in Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Disney’s Hollywood Studios, and Disney’s Animal Kingdom.
Save hours of research planning a Walt Disney World vacation that is perfect for your family with this easy-to-read, concise, yet complete Disney World travel guide.
Beyond the Attractions is now available for the Barnes and Noble Nook & on Paperback on Amazon.com
- Magical Meals: A Guide to Affordable Dining at Walt Disney World (chipandco.com)
- Disney Magical Memories Sweepstakes – Win a trip to Walt Disney World (chipandco.com)
O.K. I admit it, I’m turning into my Father!! As you get older there is a good chance that you may become a bit more frugal. I used to get aggravated with my dad because he was always looking for a bargain but now I do the same thing, especially with our visits to Walt Disney World. Let’s face it Walt Disney World vacations are expensive!! There are lots of ways to save on your visits but rather than covering how to finance your trips, let’s focus on how to get the best price for you not based on actual dollars but on how your choices work for you.
- Travel Agents Are A Great Resource – A good Disney Specialist knows all of the ins and outs of getting the best price for your needs, not just the cheapest price!! Unless you are an experienced Walt Disney World traveler, do yourself a favor and find a Disney Specialist Travel Agent. They will not only help you find the best prices but they will help you find the things (Resort, dining options, admission media etc.) that will work best for you. I still use a Travel Agent for most visits especially if I am currently occupied with other life things.
- Don’t Always Go For The Obvious – Things like “Free Dining” are wonderful but if it doesn’t fit your dining patterns (yes, we all have them) then it may not be for you. Purchasing an Annual Pass(AP) for the “usual” room only discount and then purchasing a Tables In Wonderland(TIW) membership ($75) for a 20% discount on Table Service dining may be a better option. This can be a real money saver if you enjoy a cocktail and/or wine with dinner since the 20% discount also applies to alcohol. One precaution – significant AP “room only” discounts normally happen but there is no guarantee that they will be available when you travel and remember, when they are available the number of rooms is somewhat limited. Make sure you budget for a no discount vacation so sticker shock doesn’t ruin it for you.
- Explore Other Options – There are other options you may want to consider when deciding which resort to choose and get the best price. Renting Disney Vacation Club(DVC) points from an owner may be a very viable choice for you. Two cautions here, use a reliable and experienced DVC rental agency as an intermediary and make sure you understand the differences between renting a room at a resort and a DVC villa. There are differences, most noticeably in the housekeeping area, it doesn’t happen every day in a DVC villa. Make sure you understand the terms of the rental agency you use because things vary between them. We are going the AP and TIW for our October visit but will be trying the DVC route for our March 2013 visit. We will be using a company called DVC Rental (this is their site) based on my research and word of mouth.
When you get to be our age my Oldie friends, depriving yourself to save a buck is not the best way to go. You have worked hard your whole life so make your Walt Disney World choices based not just on getting the “cheapest” price but getting the best price that suits your own needs and wishes. As always, enjoy your visit to Walt Disney World!!
- Oldies But Goodies – What Should We Expect From A Walt Disney World Vacation? (chipandco.com)
- Oldies But Goodies – Keeping The Vacation Affordable (chipandco.com)
Always on the look-out for free fun at Walt Disney World, we discovered something very cool at Epcot’s World Showcase, on our recent trip: the Kim Possible Adventure. Did you know that by reading and following directions, looking for….and finding….clues, you can “save the world”? No? Well don’t feel bad, neither did we until we stumbled upon this fun, interactive activity. Don’t tell your kids, but it’s educational too…but they don’t need to know that part. What you do want to tell them…and all the grown-ups in your group too….is that this is a GREAT way to spend some time in World Showcase, and that they WILL have a blast!
So if saving the world (or at least a small part of it) sounds like something you want to put on your “must-do” list for your next Disney vacation, here is what you need to know.
Start off by registering with a Kim Possible agent at one of the designated locations in World Showcase. There, they will scan your park ticket and give you a special Fast Pass to report to a specific location at a specific time. When you are there, you will receive your mission….and your “Kimmunicator” which is a GPS cell phone you use to receive your instructions throughout the mission.
The area we had to report to was Germany, so we followed the instructions given on the Kimmunicator to start at a certain spot and listen for what to do next. Throughout the mission then, we were given more clues and instructions, about looking for different objects, going to specific locations, and figuring out information that was needed to move forward to the next stop…and ultimately to thwart those nasty evil-doers from achieving their dastardly plans.
And this is, in my opinion, the true beauty of this experience. You are LEARNING things as you go along! You have to actually read some of the signs, and look for the details that are all over World Showcase that nobody ever stops to see because everyone is so busy trying to get on Soarin’. Here we stopped, we read, we did what Kim Possible told us to do, and we were rewarded with some cool special effects (not giving them away though, you’ll have to find out yourself!), and a lot of fun. And yup, we learned a few things along the way.
Oh, and did I mention that it’s FREE??
Now the thing is, many probably think this is an activity for little kids, but honestly, we were 3 adults and we had a blast. In fact, it is probably most suited to older kids who have the patience to go through all the clues and get to the end. And it would be fun for groups or individuals to do.
Once you finish (it takes about 30-40 minutes), if you liked saving the world once, you can do it again….in fact, 7 different countries in World Showcase offer this activity, and each one is different. How did we do? Well on the day that we tried it, we actually saved the world 4 times!
There should be some kid of award for that, don’t you think?
Want more information? Check out the Kim Possible Adventure page on Disneyworld.com.
Nancy, her husband and college-age daughter live in the Baltimore MD area, but consider Walt Disney World their second “home”. She started her site The Affordable Mouse, as a way to share ideas about how to plan affordable Disney vacations. Her favorite things at Disney World (in no particular order) are Soarin’, most of the food in World Showcase, Illuminations…and that special brand of Disney magic that you can’t find anywhere else.
In my last article, I discussed using Disney’s Magical Express service to get you…and your luggage….from Orlando International airport to your Disney World resort hotel. This free transportation service is, in my opinion, one of the best perks of staying at on Disney property if you are flying. Convenient, hassle-free, and did I mention that it’s FREE? For anyone trying to plan an affordable Disney vacation, free is a great thing. (Actually, free is probably a good thing for anyone really…… )
So how does the service work in the opposite direction? What happens when you are leaving to go home from Disney World? How do you ….and your luggage….get back to the airport?
Basically, your return trip home starts at the same time that you made your Magical Express reservations. When you give them your flight information TO Orlando, you will also give them your flight information home FROM Orlando. And when your yellow DME luggage tags and voucher booklet arrive in the mail, there will be a page that lists your flight information for your return trip.
One thing that will be noted in the booklet, is that you will receive your instructions for the bus and for your luggage about 24 hours before your checkout. You will get an envelope slipped under your door at that time with everything you need to know to get you…and your bags….to MCO in plenty of time for your flight. Basically, how this will work will depend on what airline you are flying home on.
If you are flying with one of the airlines that participate in the Resort Airline Check-In, you will have the chance to check your bags in (and receive your boarding pass) at your resort hotel. Airlines that currently participate are:
- Alaska Airlines
- American Airlines
- Continental Airlines
- Delta Air Lines
- JetBlue Airways
- Southwest Airlines
- United Airlines
- US Airways
This is such a nice convenience: you check in at the desk, and give them your luggage, just as you would at bag-check in the airport. They take care of the rest.
Now there are a few other things to know about Resort Airline Check-In: You will be responsible for paying for any baggage fees in advance. There will be instructions in the above mentioned envelope about where/how to call and pay the fees, so if you are flying with one of those airlines that charges for checked bags, be sure to take care of this before you bring everything to the bag check station. In addition, your luggage must be less than 50 pounds: if it is over, you cannot use this service, and will need to check in at the airport. Lastly, this service is only available on domestic flights.
If your airline does NOT participate in the Resort Airline Check-In program, then you are responsible for bringing your bags with you, on the DME bus, and you will check them at the airport as usual.
Either way, you will be told what time to be at the DME bus station at your resort, to board the bus back to MCO. Be aware that Disney will allow LOTS of time to get you there: they don’t want to be responsible for anyone missing their flight home! So for domestic flights, expect to be picked up at the hotel about 3 hours before your flight (your instructions will tell you exactly when) and for international flights, I believe it is closer to 4 hours before.
Even so, depending on the time of your flight, you may be able to still get in a half-day at the parks or more, if you can get your bags checked in early enough. The Resort Airline Check-In hours of operation are 5 a.m. to 1 p.m., so go early and they go play until your DME bus leaves! If you have carry-on items, you can leave them with bell services, and then retrieve them when you return to board the bus. (Note that you can check in no more than 12 hours and no less than 3 hours prior to your scheduled flight departure time. In addition, be sure to allow enough time, as during peak times there may be a line at the desk…)
We generally fly Southwest Airlines, and they just started participating in the Resort Airlines check-in service, so we were able to use that part of the service on our recent trip and I have to say that it was so nice to check our bags and then literally not worry about them until we landed at our home airport. I will say that, I did kind of hold my breath until our luggage appeared at baggage claim back home….but sure enough, they all arrived just at they were supposed to, as if by “magic”.
Note: If you have never used Disney’s Magical Express before, be sure to read theto help in your planning.
Nancy, her husband and college-age daughter live in the Baltimore MD area, but consider Walt Disney World their second “home”. She started her site , as a way to share ideas about how to plan affordable Disney vacations. Her favorite things at Disney World (in no particular order) are Soarin’, most of the food in World Showcase, Illuminations…and that special brand of Disney magic that you can’t find anywhere else.
- Affordable Disney Vacations: Saving Time AND Money with Disney’s Magical Express (chipandco.com)
- Best Things I Love About Disney – Disney’s Magical Express (chipandco.com)