About WDW Parks Express Transportation

A couple of weeks ago, Walt Disney World announced a new option for park-hopping transportation.  Pass-holders and guests with Park-Hopper tickets can now pay an upcharge ($15 single day or $24 per 7-day stay) to travel from park to park on special, behind-the-scenes bus transportation.  Beginning at 10:00 am daily (through park closing), visitors who’ve added this Express Transportation Option can exit one park through a “back door” and enter the next park the same way.  As with everything Disney adds or changes, this has generated quite a bit of chatter on social media, much of it negative.

About WDW Parks Express Transportation

This new option sounds great to me!  If I don’t want to pay extra or do not plan to park-hop, I can still rely completely on Disney’s well-organized transportation that is included in the price of my stay.  If I want to park-hop (I DO!) and am visiting during a super-crowded time of the year (I AM!), I can pay the $24 and potentially save a bunch of time and extra walking.

We like to park-hop between Magic Kingdom, Epcot, and Disney’s Hollywood Studios.  Typically, we spend an entire day (or two) at Animal Kingdom with no hopping.  For five days during our upcoming Christmas vacation, we’ve either planned to switch parks or have left the option open to do so in our touring plans.  Based on our last visit in October, I can expect the bag-check lines to be longer and slower than ever before (due to increased security).  I’m pleased that Disney is taking security more seriously and, by the number of people they’ve caught attempting to enter a park with a weapon, they need to.  The metal detectors are also a way of life now and again, based on our last experience, I can expect to be chosen for extra screening every time I reach a park entrance.

Park-hopping has become much more time consuming!  Leave one park, walk to bus, boat, or monorail (depending on personal choice & which park is next), wait for transportation, travel to next park, walk to park entrance, wait in bag-check line, wait in security line (likely), wait in line to scan Magic Band/ticket, finally enter park.

The Express Transportation Option sounds like a way to avoid much of the walking, checking, screening, etc.  I expect to have my Magic Band scanned (maybe by a Cast Member with an iPad?) as I get on the bus to the next park.  No need for long walks, waits in line, bag checks, or metal detection!  Just exit the bus right into the next park!  (All the details about where to board and exit busses can be found here.) Entrance to DHS

Will it be worth $24?  I’ll have to wait and see if the process is as good as it sounds, but I’m certainly going to give it a try.  Do I believe this will negatively impact those who do not choose to pay the upcharge?  I do not.  Disney transportation has been, in our opinion, getting better over the past couple of years.  If enough guests choose the park-to-park Express, it could reduce wait-times at bag and security checks for other visitors.  I don’t believe busses will be taken away from non-Express users to offer this new service.  Like the in-park cabanas being tested in Magic Kingdom, guests can choose NOT to pay extra without being negatively impacted by visitors who choose to take advantage of these new options.

In my Disney fan bubble, I like to believe the Disney Parks folks are hard at work to find revenue-generating offerings so they don’t have to raise ticket and food prices as often.  Stop laughing!  It’s a nice thought.  I’ll let you know how the bus thing works out when I get back.

Would you pay an upcharge for park-hopping faster?

 

 

Disney World Christmas Crowd Busting Plans

I suppose we’re gluttons for punishment.  Raymond and I had such a great time at Wald Disney World last year during the much-maligned Christmas week, we’re going back for more!  And this time, we’re taking Joseph with us.

A few years ago, we took a Disney Cruise in Alaska (see post here) with both Megan and Joseph.  Joseph was young enough for the teen club and activities and once he checked in, we barely saw him again.  This meant that we had a ton of mom-dad-daughter time with Megan and those memories are among my most treasured!  It was so wonderful, in fact, that now we’re spending a mom-dad-son vacation with Joseph.  Megan, in her typically sweet way, has offered her (and Grant’s) services for house and dog-sitting.  Excursion on Disney Cruise Line in Alaska

Disney World Christmas Crowd Busting Plans

Arriving Christmas Eve, we’ll have seven days at Disney World during the busiest time of the year.  I’ve planned, schemed, booked, and rebooked what I hope will be a fabulous vacation to remember with our youngest offspring.  I’m using some tried and true strategies along with a couple of new plans for what I hope will be a great holiday experience.  The number one item on our packing list?  Patience!  We know the crowds will be insane, but thanks to last year, we know how to have fun around them.Christmastime at Walt Disney World

Christmas Eve – Our midday arrival means that while we have afternoon FastPasses in Magic Kingdom, we may not get to use them due to the crowds.  We’re okay with this!  Plan B is to drop our things at Bay Lake Tower and, starting at the Contemporary, do the monorail pub crawl while checking out the decorations at all the resorts along the way.  Our dinner is at Kona Café that night, so we can stick to the resort loop, enjoy dinner, and end the evening at the Top of the World Lounge.  If we DO use our FastPasses, they’re for Jingle Cruise, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, and Seven Dwarfs Mine Train.Jingle Cruise Sign

Christmas Day – We’ll need to rise and shine to make our early breakfast at Be Our Guest.  Before the crowds become totally insane, we’ll use FastPasses at Haunted Mansion, Space Mountain, and Splash Mountain.  We’ll be finished by lunchtime and plan to grab something very light at a quick-service place in or near Magic Kingdom before heading back to our room to relax.  Early dinner will be at California Grill.tusker-house-goofy

December 26th – I’ve planned an early start to the day again, but this time at Animal Kingdom for breakfast at Tusker House (because we loved it so much in October).  We’ll be able to relax and do what we want all morning since our FastPasses are all for the afternoon (Expedition Everest, Primeval Whirl, and Festival of the Lion King…don’t judge!).  Dinner’s at Tiffins, again because we had such a wonderful experience in October.tiffins-wall-detail

December 27th – We’re rope-dropping Disney’s Hollywood Studios with a plan to get in and out by 11:00 am at the latest.  We’ve got just two FastPasses booked for Tower of Terror and Toy Story Midway Mania.  Raymond and I did this last year and were able to ride Rock’n’ Roller Coaster and Star Tours with little to no wait.  Then we plan to hop to Epcot and slowly make our way around World Showcase, grabbing lunch while we go.  Dinner will be at Citricos in the Grand Floridian.  This day is designed to be relaxing with a huge play-it-by-ear factor since the next day will be the exact opposite.

December 28th – I’ll confess to over-planning, but I have faith in our abilities to see this day through!  At least we get to sleep in a little later before we head to the Boardwalk for breakfast at Trattoria al Forno.  The reason we’re going?  I needed a Candlelight Processional dining package and the Trattoria was included in eligible restaurants.  I LOVE that our meal gets to be breakfast!  When we finish eating, we’re heading to Disney Springs where we plan to stroll and shop until it’s time for our lunch ADR at Morimoto Asia.  Morimoto-Asia-Disney-SpringsAfter lunch it’s back to Epcot for a couple of FastPasses:  Frozen Ever After and The Seas with Nemo & Friends.  We’ll see the 6:45 Candlelight Processional (Cal Ripkin, Jr. is our narrator) and then we, full of Christmas joy, will walk back to the Boardwalk for a late dinner at Flying Fish.  I have no idea what I was thinking when I booked all this, but we’re not a family that shies away from a challenge!

December 29th – I regained my sanity when booking this day’s activities.  We don’t have to be anywhere until lunchtime for an ADR in the Studios at The Hollywood Brown Derby.  RM-Brown-Derby-StoryAfter lunch, we head to Epcot where we have FastPasses for Soarin’ and Spaceship Earth.  Dinner’s at Shula’s Steak House.

December 30th – This day’s plan was originally based solely on the fact that we wanted to squeeze in a Dinner at Jiko in the Animal Kingdom Lodge on this trip.  Then I heard about the Jingle Bell Jingle BAM! Dessert Party at the Studios.  Then I heard that Star Wars: A Galactic Spectacular was coming back beginning on December 16th.  Now the day looks like this – Hit Animal Kingdom at a leisurely pace until mid-afternoon.  Lobby at Animal Kingdom LodgeThen we’ll head to Animal Kingdom Lodge and enjoy the lobby atmosphere, the Savannah Overlook, and perhaps a cocktail at the Victoria Falls Lounge before our dinner at Jiko.  I was luckily able to re-book dinner for an earlier time when I decided we needed the Dessert Party and possible double fireworks shows at the Studios.  As of now, I can’t tell when and if the Star Wars show will happen that night.  We know there are nighttime Extra Magic Hours and we’ll already be there…keeping our fingers crossed!

Home for New Year’s Eve!  Raymond and I have a long-standing New Year’s Eve tradition of a lobster dinner at home and we know we’ll enjoy that more than staying for the craziness of ringing in a new year at Walt Disney World.  Plus, we’ll be tired!  If everything goes as planned, we’ll have had a great time enjoying some special, new experiences while revisiting our usual favorites and, in spite of the crowds, will have some wonderful new vacation memories to cherish.

Have you been to Disney World for Christmas?  What did you love most about it?  Do you have any crowd-busting tips to share?

 

Disney World October 2016 To-Do’s

Our next Walt Disney World vacation is nearly upon us!  Looking forward to some of our favorite rides, attractions, and restaurants isn’t the only thing we’re excited about.  This may be our third trip to Walt Disney World in 12 months, but there are still plenty of new things to try!  Some is the new stuff I mentioned here, but some things have been around for a while and we’ve never made time to check them out.  For sure, one of the new things I failed to mention in my previous posts is all the new dining offerings at Disney Springs.  So, I’m going for broke here.  I’m over-planning, I know, but I’m determined to do my best and if we don’t get to everything this trip, we’ll have another shot at it in December.  (I’m not mentioning the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival in this post, but it IS the primary reason we’re going to Disney World this time.)Waiting in Line for Soarin'

Disney World October 2016 To-Do’s

Some people may be complaining about the number of closed attractions and underutilized space in Epcot, but I’m not one of them.  We still love Epcot and the first two things on our to-do list are there – Frozen ever After and the new Soarin’. FastPasses are officially booked for these and I will, of course, weigh in afterwards.The Boardwalk at Walt Disney World

If there’s a new lounge to try at Disney World, it’s going to make our to-do list.  We were very pleased with our visits to Jock Lindsey’s Hangar Bar in Disney Springs and Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto at the Polynesian when we tried those for the first time last December (2015).  This time another new lounge is on our radar…

AbracadaBar on the Boardwalk – For years we ignored Disney’s Boardwalk due to sheer ignorance of what can be found there.  Now that we’ve discovered the cool shops, restaurants, and entertainment to be had just a short walk from Epcot, we’re hooked.  Now that yet another new highly-themed spot has opened for the enjoyment of a vacation libation, count us in!RM-Magic-Kingdom-Autumn2

We’ll have a great mix of personalities and interests in our travel party of seven, so I think this may be the perfect time to try the Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom.  We’ll been in Magic Kingdom for at least two days, so I’m hoping we can add this activity to our plans and see what it’s all about!

Let’s talk about food!  I hope we never run out of new places to try.RM-Megan-and-Grant-Sci-Fi

Sci-Fi Dine-in Theater – I have no idea what’s taken us so long to get to this funky little restaurant in Disney’s Hollywood Studios, but we have, since the restaurant opened in 1991, always passed it by.  Until this trip.  My only excuse is (not kidding) that I was traumatized by The Blob when I saw it on TV for the first time as a kid.  I’m not against all Sci-Fi movies, just the ones that remind me of The Blob.  Do you think a lot of the ones featured in Sci-Fi Dine-in Theater will bring back bad Blob memories?  On a bright note, I hear the shakes are great there!

Disney Springs New Counter Service Offerings – This one’s stressing me out a little.  We’re only planning on one afternoon/evening at Disney Springs.  Dinner has been booked at Raglan Road because we can’t NOT visit it on every trip.  This means I’ll have only one lunch from which to sample the new counter service restaurants.  With 7 people in our party, I’m hoping someone (or ones) will be willing to share some selections with me to maximize taste sampling!  Topping my to-try list here are:  B.B. Wolf’s Sausage Company, Blaze Fast-Fire’d Pizza, The Daily Poutine, D-Luxe Burger, Morimoto Asia Street Food, and the YeSake snack kiosk  (if only for a sake-based slush).  I may not get to them all on this trip, but I aim to give it my best try!

One last thing!

Finally, call me crazy. I realize our schedule is packed, but I would absolutely love to find an evening to finally make our way to Port Orleans’ River Roost to see YeHaa Bob for the first time ever.  Bob Jackson’s been around for quite a while and he’s a beloved performer who, according to the majority of folks who see him, puts on quite a show.  I actually follow Yehaa Bob on Facebook, but have sadly, never seen him in person.  Yet.

Are my plans too aggressive? What would YOUR first priorities be at Walt Disney World in October?