November 18, 2015

Choosing the Right Park Pass

There are a lot of decisions that go into booking a Walt Disney World Vacation. You have to think about what is going to be the best suit for you and those you are travelling with. From dining plans to hotels to park passes, it adds up. Well, that’s where I step in! I’m going to break down the different park passes to help you figure out what suits your needs best, and hopefully save you some money in the process! But first, you may want to check out some of my previous posts:

All about the Disney Dining Plans

The Disney Waterparks

10 Tips for Walt Disney World

My Strategy In the Parks

All About the Disney Resorts

Now that you have read up on those, let’s get into the different park passes. There are four levels of park passes offered by Walt Disney World: Magic Your Way, Magic Your Way plus Park Hopper, Magic Your Way plus Water Parks & More, and Magic Your Way Plus Park Hopper and Water Park & More.

Our Beautiful Spaceship Earth

Magic Your Way

This is your base ticket. It allows you to enter one of the four theme parks (Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Hollywood Studios or Animal Kingdom) for each day of your stay. The more days you add, the cheaper the price per day tickets are. You can leave and re-enter the same park in a day, which is a great benefit. You can leave the park for your hotel for a little while, and head back to the park in time for fireworks. Trust me when I say that one park is enough in a day!

Magic Your Way Plus Park Hopper

Park Hopper allows you to do exactly that, hop between parks. This can be nice for longer vacations, or if you would like to break up time at the different parks on your trip. Or, you could take the ultimate challenge: 4 parks in 1 day. I have yet to tackle that one, but hope to someday :). Park Hopper is a great add-on to your ticket, but only if you use it. On my trip in 2013 Ethan and I purchased tickets with Park Hopper and didn’t “hop” at all during our trip. Because of that we did not buy Park Hopper tickets in February. To be completely honest, it did not make that much of a difference, and we certainly didn’t feel inconvenienced because we could only visit one park per day. Again, one park per day is plenty!

With the current state of Disney’s Hollywood Studios (lots of construction and ride/attraction closures), I would definitely say this park is a half-day park. This would be a great park to hop to or hop from, so it might be something for you to consider. You could also use this day to head back to the hotel early, or visit Disney Springs.

Welcome to Animal Kingdom

Magic Your Way Plus Water Parks & More

This ticket package I would recommend for parties visiting Walt Disney World in the dead of summer, or those visiting for a longer period of time (6 or more days). The water parks are great, as you can read in my post all about them, but they are not something you NEED to see. If you are staying for a long time, you may want to spend a day at a water park instead of the theme parks. The “More” refers to the ESPN Wide World of Sports, the golf courses, and the miniature golf courses.

Magic Your Way Plus Park Hopper and Water Parks & More

This ticket package combines all of the above. I would only suggest purchasing these tickets if you feel you would park hop and visit the water parks. I have only purchased this ticket package once, and was in Walt Disney World for 10 days. It’s definitely not a must, and you should see yourself or your party taking advantage of both extra aspects before purchasing this ticket package.

Finding Nemo the Musical

Special Ticketed Events

Walt Disney World has certain events throughout the year that require a separate ticket. Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party and Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party are some examples. Only guests with these tickets can visit Magic Kingdom during party hours. These events have special parades, stage shows and character meet and greets. If you have enough park tickets (enough days) you can visit the park in the morning and stay for the whole day (the parties usually start at 4pm). Or, if you want to save some money you can not buy a park ticket for that day and either spend the morning at your hotel, do some shopping, or visit some of the Disney resorts. In November and December the resorts will be decorated for the holidays, and it can be great to see! The Grand Floridian even has life-size gingerbread houses!

One more note about park passes! Magic Kingdom ticket prices are the most expensive, and a one day pass is the most expensive. Even authorized ticket sellers (other than WDW) cannot beat Disney’s price of a one day ticket. It’s impossible to fit everything in during a week long vacation, never mind in one day! I would strongly suggest visiting Walt Disney World for more than one day, but sometimes that just isn’t possible. Keep an eye out for a one day plan soon ;)!

Wishes!

It can be hard to know what your family is going to want to do before you head to Walt Disney World, and you will definitely learn from experience. I have learned a lot from my previous trips, and know that while I don’t need the Park Hopper option, I do like having the option and am willing to pay a little more to get it. I hope this post can help you find the right ticket package for your family, and sheds some light on the differences between packages.

What ticket package do your typically purchase when you visit Walt Disney World? Have you learned from experience? Let me know in the comments!

Thanks for reading!

Kelsey
November 11, 2015

Restaurant Review: Raglan Road

During my trip in February, my boyfriend Ethan and I went to dinner at Raglan Road. Raglan Road is located at Disney Springs (formerly known at Downtown Disney), and it accepts the Disney Dining Plan for 1 credit. Looking for information about the dining plan? Check out this post. Having eaten here, it is definitely my “go-to” restaurant at Disney Springs now, and I can’t wait to go back.

(from Walt Disney World Website)

(from Walt Disney World Website)

Ethan and I had dinner here after spending the morning and early afternoon at Animal Kingdom, relaxing for a bit at our hotel (Caribbean Beach) and then spending the evening at Disney Springs. You can read what I love about Downtown Disney here. I was very happy we made a reservation, because it was busy. We gave our name and waited a little before we were seated. We were seated closer to the bar than the main stage, so we couldn’t really see the dancing going on, which was about the only negative. You can request a closer view but it cannot be guaranteed. After a couple of days in the parks it was nice to relax at a restaurant outside the parks, which allowed us to eat a little slower. We both had a drink, Ethan had a Harp and I had the Blueberry Mint Lemonade. Our server was great! He kept checking on us making us feel like we were his only table, and actually conversed with us. Definitely one of the better waiters we’ve had at Walt Disney World.

After enjoying our drinks for a while it was time to eat. I ordered the Citrus Salmon Salad, which was really good. It was nice to have something a little lighter after eating theme park food for a few days. Even though it was back in February when we dined, I remember eating it all (which is unusual for me). Ethan had the Fish & Chips, and he really enjoyed them. If there is Fish & Chips on a menu, I can almost guarantee that’s what he’s getting ;). The food was really good, but the atmosphere it what sets this restaurant apart. I have an Irish background, and I remember the whole time I was sitting there I couldn’t help but think of how much my family would enjoy it! I think we will be heading back there on our next trip. The music is fun and energetic, and although I couldn’t see the dancers on the stage, I saw them outside and they are very talented! I did catch a glimpse of some guests up on the stage with the dancers, so I guess you never know if you will end up on stage!

This is the inside of Raglan Road... seriously eat here! (picture from WDW website)

(picture from WDW website)

Even though I had eaten every last bite of my meal, I couldn’t turn down dessert. Ethan and I split the Strawberry and Apple Crumble. We finished every bite of that too! After sitting for a little longer we headed out, and walked around Disney Springs for a while.

If you are on the Disney Dining Plan I think this restaurant it a great use of a dining credit. If you aren’t on the dining plan, I think the prices are worth the quality of food, the service, and the entertainment. With the expansion of Disney Springs there are lots of new dining choices to choose from, but I think Raglan Road will stay at the top of the list for me. If you are looking for a fun night out at a pub, this is the place for you. If you are looking for an intimate place to dine, you might want to choose a different restaurant.

It’s hard to explain just how great the atmosphere is at Raglan Road, so you will just have to go for yourself and find out! It is a chain restaurant (I didn’t know that at the time) so if you have one close to you, what are you waiting for?

Feedback is always great, so let me know if you like these restaurant reviews! I will make sure to take better pictures on my next trip! I’m always open to hear what kind of posts you would like to see next! Have you ever dined at Raglan Road? What did you think? Do you have a restaurant at Disney Springs that is your “go-to”? Let me know in the comments!

Thank you so much for reading!

Kelsey
November 4, 2015

FastPass+: Everything You Need to Know

Have you been to Walt Disney World in the last few years? Chances are if you have, you have noticed their Fastpass system. You visit a ride, put your park pass into a machine and get a slip telling you a time to come back, where you will enter a line with minimal wait time, for free. It is a nice addition, with no additional cost. While the process has changed in the last few years, it is still definitely something to take advantage of. So how does it work? I will spell it all out for you.

Seven Dwarf Mine Train

What is Fastpass+?

Unlike Fastpass (the old system) where you or someone in your party had to be in the park and able to go to an attraction to get a physical pass with a time to come back. Now, it’s all virtual and can be done up to 60 days in advance. There are kiosks in all of the parks, and Fastpass+ is integrated with My Disney Expreience the app, and the website. You can read all about My Disney Experience in this post. A Fastpass+ is a time to ride with minimal wait. You enter a separate line of a queue, and experience the attraction with less of a wait. For shows, you get prime seating and reserved spaces.

How do you get a Fastpass?

You can select a Fastpass up to 60 days in advance when you book a Disney Resort Package (you can read about staying on site here) and up to 30 days in advance with the purchase of a park ticket. You can use My Disney Experience to book Fastpass+ in advance, or at the kiosks in the park. If you want to book a Fastpass or change your selection you can visit the kiosk (you can find the locations on park maps). Cast Members are on hand with the kiosks to help you make your selections. Availability for each attraction is limited, so there is a definite advantage to book in advance! I usually know which park I will be at on which day according to park hours and dining reservations, so it makes it easier to book in advance. If you don’t want to plan your rides out that far in advance, you can use the kiosks the day of, just be aware that not everything may still be available. When using the kiosks to change a selection or make a new one, you can only make selections for the theme park you are in. This is important if you are Park Hopping, and want to change your selections for the secon (or third, or fourth!) park of the day.

It is important to note that Disney has made a smart decision, and “tiered” the attractions at some parks. At Epcot, you can pick 1 from a tier with Test Track and Soarin’, and 2 from the next tier. The same goes at Hollywood Studios, choosing between Rock n’ Rollercoaster and Tower of Terror. It helps to visit the park at opening, and experience the attraction you do not have a Fastpass+ for, with minimal lines!

How many do you get per day?

You are allocated 3 Fastpass+ per day.

Expedition Everest Looms

Can I change my mind?

Absolutely! It helps to download the My Disney Experience App because you can make changes from your phone. The app is laid out and guides you through the process, so it is really easy to use! You can also visit a Fastpass+ kiosk in the park to make changes to your Fastpass+ selections.

Can you get more than 3?

You can get more than three per day, but only once you have used up your original three selections. At this time, you must visit a kiosk to select additional Fastpass+, but hopefully it will be available on the app soon! Once you have used all three of your Fastpass+ *, you can select one additional Fastpass+ using the in park kiosk. When you use that one up, you can get one additional Fatpass+ and so on.

*You must use the Fastpass+, or let it time out. One my trip in February Ethan didn’t want to ride Tower of Terror, and rather than waiting for it to time out before grabbing our Fantasmic! Fastpass+, he had to go through the Fastpass+ line at Tower of Terror, and “use” his Fastpass+ without going on the ride., before selecting his next one.

MISTER SMEE!

MISTER SMEE!

Is it worth it?

Absolutely! It seems crazy to “book” when you ride an attraction 60 days in advance, but with some of the lines during busier times of the year this is a must! On my trip in February the crowds weren’t huge, but I got to experience Seven Dwarf Mine Train with less than a 10 minute wait, rather than a 90+ minute wait. That in itself made such a difference during our trip that I would recommend Fastpass+ to anyone! If you want to take a more laid back approach, you can select your Fastpass+ the day of your visit, just be aware that all attractions may not be available for selection.

Bonus tips!

The park are busiest in the middle of the day, meaning lines are going to be longest during this time. Want to experience more attractions? Book your Fastpass+ during this time!

Want to see a night show? Wishes and Illuminations can be seen from a variety of spots, so a Fastpass+ isn’t a necessity. For Fantasmic!, I would strongly suggest Fastpass+. But here’s a trick: Select three Fastpass+ none of which are Fantasmic, and as soon as they have been used, head to the kiosks by Tower of Terror. Select Fantasmic! as your next Fastpass+, and you are guaranteed a pretty good view. The amphitheatre fills up quickly so I would still suggest arriving 60-90 minutes before showtime to be able to select a great seat!

To follow up with the point above, do not select a Fastpass+ for a fireworks show or parade unless you really want to see the show from the specified location. Using a Fastpass+ for a night show will not allow you to use up all 3 Fastpasses before you can get another. You will have to get your 4th Fastpass+ after the night show, but the parks generally close after the fireworks. To get the most out of a free service, I would suggest avoiding firework Fastpasses.

Distant Tower of Terror

Have you used Fastpass+ before? What are your thoughts on the new system? Let me know in the comments!

As always, thanks for reading!

Kelsey