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Opening Magic Kingdom

Opening Magic Kingdom

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Walt Disney World in the Summer? Prepare for Tour Groups

If you are planning to head to the most magical place on earth during the summer, you are most likely prepared for the heat, the rain, the longer park hours, and the crowds.  But are you prepared for the tour groups?

The first time we went in July was 2011.  We were prepared for everything BUT the tour groups.  We had heard about them via on-line forums and word of mouth, but that does not prepare you for their presence or how to “combat” them for lack of a better word.

In July of 2013, we studied the tour groups, especially the husband.  A few times, I went head to head with various tour group members who were creating havoc, line jumping, etc.  Click here to read more about howthe tour groups made our magical vacation even more memorable.

It want to be clear.  I am glad the tour groups are there.  It boosts our economy.  They are spending money in our country.  What I want and need them to do is adhere to rules like not budging in line or commandeering character meet and greets or washing their hair in bathroom sinks.  And, the question I still don’t have answered is how do they wear the same shirt every day?  Doesn’t it get dirty?  Are they doing laundry?

Anyway, I digress.  What the husband discovered during his observation period is that the line jumping, cutting, or budging begins with a single member of the tour group.  This is what I am asking all of you to be on the look-out for.  A single member, typically a young female—think teenager here—will venture into the queue with a “I am looking for my friends” statement and forlorn look.  They will walk on pass you in the queue, and unwittingly, you let them by.  Mistake!  There is NO friend in the line.  They are going to park themselves next to a distracted family and then call or text the rest of their tour group to join THEM in line.  And the cutting of 20-40 people begins with 4-5 of them at a time coming through the line with an adult with each of the groups, so as to make it look more legit.  And, at this point it is legit. . . as their friend or brother or sister is now in line.

So, want to know what to do?  Don’t let that one single female, or possibly a pair of single females, get past you in line.  No matter the language barrier, everyone understands “no.”

This is what I did while waiting in line to see Ariel.  I would not let “her” get past me.  I told her “no” and that her friend was not in front of us.  I had been in line long enough to know that there was no friend in the same matching tour group shirt in line in front of us.  And, I had been in the parks enough days to recognize the shirt she was wearing as one from a tour group.  Once she left, something surprising happened.  The people behind us in line cheered, laughed, and congratulated me. 

Other than standing firm and saying “no” there are other ways we found to minimize going head to head with the tour groups:
  •      Get your magic fix at a different time of year, other than summer.
  • ·       Go where the tour groups are not.  We did not see them in the Hall of Presidents or Spirit of America show in EPCOT.  Actually, EPCOT was void of the groups except for Illuminations but the groups were handled by Cast Members in a specific area.
  • ·         Try to warn Cast Members ahead of time.  Like we did at Ohana’s when we arrived for breakfast, since we had seen a tour group take over the characters at Crystal Palace.  The forewarned Cast Members assured us all would be well, and it was!
  • ·         If not ahead of time, let Cast Members know when rules are being broken.  A Cast Member intervened when the line budging became prominent at Blizzard Beach.  While they weren’t in matching shirts, their behavior gave them away as a tour group.  And, we still ended up with our place towards the end of the line after the line cutting, but the group had been warned.
  • ·         Observe and realize that not all of the tour groups behave the same.  Many of them do follow the park rules. 

Obviously we weren’t affected so much that we wouldn’t want to return, but I know some would be travelers are turned off to traveling during the summer for a variety of reasons, including the tour groups.  Not us.  I still need to get the question answered about the wearing of the same shirt every day.  I will keep you posted. . .

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

I Love Talking To Our Travel Agent!

I love it when my travel agent calls!  She phoned last night and left a message, so I returned her call today.  Every time we talk, it means excitement and adventure are just around the corner.

Seems my name came up when she was having lunch with a friend, who asked HER why we still use a travel agent.  Something about having done “this” enough times that surely I would know how to do it on my own.  Our travel agent had a quick and spot on reply, “She likes the service and the discounts.”  Exactly!  I did find it ironic that the travel agent was being asked the question and not the customer, but the universe is like that sometimes.

I told her that I get asked that question regularly and that I actually wrote about it our blog—click here to read why we use a travel agent.  The husband said he even gets asked that question at his work.  I didn’t know that until today when I was sharing about my phone call.

I also appreciate that our travel agent appreciates us, as clients.
So, we made a date to visit again in January, when we will book the Walt Disney World portion of our summer trip, as January is AAA’s Disney month!  Our 16 day adventure already includes a 7 night sailing on the Disney Fantasy. I also reminded her that Disney typically releases its summer discounts in April, so we would most likely revisit our reservation at that point.  There might even be other incentives!

I wished her happy holidays and hung up the phone.  Now, to wait until January!

Monday, December 2, 2013

Magic Kingdom's New Bus Loop To Offer Park To Park Transportation

I was reading Chris Barry’s top 5 staunch opinions about Walt Disney World on Mouseplanet.com—click here to read the article.  And, while I agreed with some, his definitive yes to Park Hoppers added to Magic Your Way park tickets or already included in Annual Passes to Walt Disney World had me a bit skeptical.

Our mileage with Park Hopper, which allows guests to visit more than one theme park on any given day, has varied.  Usually due to our inability to take mid-day breaks and that we typically organize our dining reservations to avoid any need for Park Hopper. 

Another factor was the time involved from going from one park to another using Disney’s Transportation System—a fleet of buses, boats, monorails, and trains.  To go from Animal Kingdom, say, to Hollywood Studios, a guest could either ride the bus back to their resort and hop on a bus to Studios, or take a marked bus to the Ticket and Transportation Center, located in the parking lot of Magic Kingdom, and then transfer to a bus headed to Studios.  See. . . lots of travel time.  Using the monorail between EPCOT and Magic Kingdom is usually very efficient, with only the need to transfer monorails at the Ticket and Transportation Center.  Traveling by boat between Hollywood Studios and EPCOT’s International Gateway can also be efficient.  Any other park to park moves required some doing.

But, a new bus loop is ready to open at Magic Kingdom, possibly taking away much of the park to park travel pain.  The new bus loop, or third bus loop, will allow for Disney buses to offer park to park transportation right there, near the entrance to Magic Kingdom.  No more traveling to the Ticket and Transportation Center to switch buses—which if you were already at the Magic Kingdom required a monorail or ferry ride, just to get the Ticket and Transportation Center.

We have experience using the Magic Kingdom bus loops for resort to resort transportation like the time we had dinner at Cape May Café at the Beach Club and were headed back to our resort.  We just caught the Magic Kingdom bus outside of the Beach Club, rode to Magic Kingdom, and then found the bus stop for our resort.

So, will the new bus loop and added efficiency of moving from park to park,  cause us to add Park Hopper to our tickets, which is an additional expense?  Maybe.  I know we will add Water Parks and More Fun to our tickets already and Disney has done some great pricing strategies making it more economical to add both Water Parks and More and Park Hopper to the Magic Your Way Base tickets.  It also depends on our touring strategy.  If we spend the morning and early afternoon at a water park but then head to EPCOT for dinner, there is no need for Park Hopper. 

The good news is that Disney has responded to guests about how inefficient it can be to travel from park to park, especially when paying for Park Hopping privileges.  Looking forward to seeing the third, and new bus loop at Magic Kingdom in action.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Disney Dreamin' and Designing--For Future Trip

 I will confess. . . I have been dreaming of our next Disney trip.  While it is still over seven months away, it is hard not to dream a little.  Last year at this time, the bags were nearly packed as we headed off for a holiday cruise and quick visit to Walt Disney World.  As a part of my dreaming, I played around on Zazzle.com a bit and designed a possible new shirt for our trip.

 Alas, not quite ready to buy yet. . . waiting for a great discount code.  Yet, one of the many things I appreciate about Zazzle is that you can make your designs whenever you want—when you have time or are feeling creative.  You can either save them in your “In Progress Designs” or do what I do and go ahead and add them to my cart.  That way, when a great discount code is released all I have to do is apply and pay!

Our "Tour Schedule" on the back