Hogsmeade in Island’s of Adventure
Is it a good idea to visit Universal Studios Orlando on a Disney World Vacation?
Maybe it seems a little decadent, sneaking over to Universal Orlando on your next trip, still wearing your MagicBand, the faint smell of Mickey waffles on your lips. Is it worth it? Probably. But it’s expensive. Universal Orlando, with the acquisition of the Harry Potter franchise, is a first-class theme park. Add to that more “thrill” rides than you’ll find over at Disney World and first class hotels, and USO is fast becoming a draw for guests who might otherwise spend all their time on Disney property. If you’ve got older kids, you may have considered it, but didn’t take the plunge? Here’s why it may–or my not–be worth it. Continue reading
Now that Disney has raised their ticket prices, you may be wondering how those of you already holding tickets, whether separately or as part of a package, are affected. Here’s everything you need to know:
- Tickets attached to a package CURRENTLY booked will not change EXCEPT if you add a discount later. This means that if you’re booked now and you get free dining in the fall, you will pay the new ticket prices. Most people don’t even notice because they get such a great discount, but price increases can be as high as $25 per ticket. That’s an extra $100 for the average family.
- Tickets purchased prior to the increase are equal to the new ticket price. In other words, if you bought a ticket for $320 one day and the next day the ticket price goes up to $350, your ticket is worth $350, the value of the day you use it. This is true even if you use it ten years from now.
- Annual passes purchased prior to the increase and kept as vouchers will be assessed at the value when you activate the pass, not the lower rate.
Even after ticket prices go up, some wholesale sites (there are only a few that are authorized by Disney to sell tickets, so be careful) will continue to honor the old prices for a few days.
I get so many questions from clients about this, I decided to write a quick post to give you all the details. Its easy to save an extra 5% on your next Disney vacation, whether it’s Disney World, Disneyland, or Disney Cruise Lines. Here’s what you do:
Sign up for a Target Red Card. This is basically a debit card that’s attached to your financial institution and if you shop at Target already (and honestly, do you know someone in North America who doesn’t?), you should have one. Why? Because you’ll save 5% on just about everything you buy in the store. And that includes Disney gift cards. I tell my clients to buy one every time they go to Target and just stash them away and make payments when they’re ready. Five percent off of a $3500 trip is a nice big of cash back to you.
Gay Days at Disney World is the subject of some debate, so much so that I’ve written and re-written this post several times over the years and never published it. In my job, it can be difficult to broach the subject. Do you tell a client that there will be same sex couples and run the risk that they’ll freak out and not go? Do you bring up the subject and chance that they’ll think you’re a bigot because you even bothered to talk about it at all? What if you avoid it altogether and a client comes back and trashes you all over the internet because you failed to “warn” them about something they felt strongly against? It’s a fine line, one that my co-workers and I often lament not really knowing how to straddle.
Do you even want to? Christmas week is the busiest week of the year, with parks often closing to capacity several times between Christmas Eve and New Year’s Day. Added to that, prices are at their highest and the weather is often chilly, so you can’t even take a pool day. Having just spent Christmas week in Disney, I can personally attest to the extraordinary lines and the abundance of flaring tempers, from the mom yelling at her kids in line for the bus, to the man standing in the middle of Main Street screaming obscenities into his phone. The reason is simple: people spend a great deal of money to visit and they have images in their heads that don’t necessarily line up with reality. When that happens, it’s not pretty. So why do people do it?
Call it a post-Christmas surprise: Disney just announced two great offers for late winter through springtime travel. Here are the details:
Save up to 30%* on rooms at select Walt Disney World® Resort hotels when they book between Dec. 29, 2014 and Feb. 16, 2015 for stays most nights March 2-June 15, 2015.
Or, they can save up to 25%* on rooms at select Walt Disney World Resort hotels when they book between Feb. 17-March 28, 2015 for stays most nights March 2-June 15, 2015.
Great rates are also available for stays most nights Feb. 22-March 1, 2015.
Receive 1 more ticket day FREE when they upgrade to a room and ticket package with a minimum 4-dayMagic Your Way Ticket.
Dec. 29, 2014 – Feb. 16, 2015
Feb. 17-March 28, 2015
Feb. 22-June 15, 2015
Thinking about a trip? You’ll pay a refundable $200 deposit with the rest due 45-days prior to travel. As a special bonus, all packages* booked under this offer with me will receive a $50 gift card. Referrals from you that book and travel will receive a $25 gift card. Email me at ChrisW@PixieVacations.com or call me at 919-889-5281 for more help in planning your next Disney vacation.
*For the purposes of this gift card offer, a package is defined as having a 3-day or more park ticket.
It’s notoriously difficult to get a discounted cabin on Disney Cruise Line (DCL). In fact, unless you’re active or retired military or you get one of those rare “kids free” discounts, you’re probably stuck paying full price for your cruise. Fortunately, it’s worth it. There’s a reason why DCL wins just about every travel industry award out there: The best food, kids’ activities, and amazing ships. They’ve even got their own private island with immaculate beaches. But do you have to pay full price?
Disney parks are gorgeous during the holidays, but don’t forget the resorts: They’re filled with holiday magic, each decorated with its own theme. Do you have a personal favorite? I love the kitschy tree at Art of Animation.
Here’s a closeup of the fun details.
Disney knows that fans love the Haunted Mansion; it’s one of the most beloved attractions in all the parks. They also love Haunted Mansion merchandise. In fact, it’s often impossible to find it, it’s so popular. Well, now you can shop to your heart’s content at Momento Mori, located in the old Yankee Trader location right next to the Haunted Mansion. It’s full of great finds you didn’t know you needed.
Got a hankering for a tombstone themed Rice Krispy Treat? It’s here.
And while you’re at it, why not serve it on this cute little dessert plate? It’s not dishwasher safe, so you’ll have to be really committed to using it. But you’re committed, right? Right? I thought so. Everyone loves the Haunted Mansion.
Since you’re spending the night in, just you and your toothsome tombstone treat, why not get comfy? There are all sorts of t-shirts available as well.
You can also just gaze lovingly at your fabulous Haunted Mansion art.
But don’t spend the night all alone. Call a friend. Oh, what’s that? It’s just your new Haunted Mansion iPhone case.
Yeah, I bought one of those.
This new shop is full of tons of merchandise, everything from mugs to magnets to expensive Haunted Mansion prints. You can also take a super scary picture of yourself that morphs into a ghost. For under $40, the effects are impressive–although a little too scary for my tastes.
Next time you’re in the Magic Kingdom, stop by. It’s already a huge hit–in fact, you have to wait in line to get in and you won’t even find Anna and Elsa once you’re in there! I promise it’s worth the wait though.
You’ve probably heard about Elvis Presley’s love of junk food, but did you know about his favorite sandwich? It was called “Fools Gold” and it contained extra crispy bacon, peanut butter, and bananas, all piled high on white bread and grilled in copious amounts of delicious butter. Well, someone at Disney’s Pop Century Resort decided to pay homage to The King by putting those ingredients together in cupcake form. Did they succeed? Well, sort of.
First, let’s talk about the base, which is a chocolate cupcake. Pretty typical taste-wise. It’s very moist, which is an added bonus. A lot of commercially made cupcakes aren’t. Next, you’ll find a banana mousse filling, the highlight of this dessert. And then there’s the topping, a bland tasting peanut putter frosting topped with candied bacon
Oh, bacon you say? Yes, bacon. Sadly, the bacon doesn’t really make up for the bland peanut butter frosting, although it did add a nice salty crunch. Overall, what I liked most about this cupcake was the banana filling, but there wasn’t nearly enough of it.
I think food is an important part of your visit. I love how Disney servers are some of the best I’ve encountered and I love that Disney has really tried to make their food stand out over the past decade. At this point, Disney isn’t serving good “theme park food.” They’re serving food that’s good anywhere. And for some of my clients, using their dollar (or dining credit) wisely is an important part of their trip budget, so if I can’t wholeheartedly recommend it, I don’t. This cupcake sort of falls into that gray category: Interesting to try, kind of kitschy fun, but not really worth the money. Unless you’re blowing dessert credits as part of a quick-service meal, I’d probably skip it. There are too many places to spend your hard-earned money on better food.
Final thoughts? I’d give it a solid 5 out of 10. Not great, not awful. Just sort of in the middle.