Tips for Making Be Our Guest Restaurant Reservations

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With Advance Dining Reservations now available for breakfast, lunch, and dinner at Be Our Guest Restaurant in the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World, you might find yourself wanting to have a meal…or 3…there. After being shut out of getting ADRs there more times than I care to admit, I think I have some helpful tips to offer to ensure that you’re able to score those elusive reservations.

At first, I thought it was simply a matter of waiting for the initial hype of the restaurant to die down, as we were unable to get ADRs during our first couple of trips shortly after it opened. Fast forward almost 3 years later, and I still haven’t eaten dinner there. Some of this is because I simply don’t plan 180 days in advance anymore, which is when the window for booking ADRs opens for the restaurant. It’s a rarity for me to start planning 3 months in advance, and by that time, ADRs are long gone.

In fact, they’re often long gone by the 180 day mark. That may not make sense, but the first tip isn’t really a tip so much as it is a simple fact of life: if you’re staying on-site at a Walt Disney World hotel, there’s a good chance you’ll be shut out for dinner even at the 180 day mark. This is because on-site guests can start making ADRs 180 days before the start of their trip, not the day before they want to dine. In other words, if you’re staying on-site and have a 7-day vacation starting on September 26 (180 days from today), you could make ADRs starting today not just for September 26, but for the duration of your trip, whereas off-site guests could only make ADRs for September 26 or sooner.

Given that there are around 80,000+ guests staying on-site in Walt Disney World on any night, this is a lot of people who potentially can book reservations for Be Our Guest Restaurant before the window for off-site guests even opens. Granted, the vast majority of guests know nothing about ADRs and won’t try book reservations at the 180 window, but around 1% of those guests could book dinner and the restaurant would fill up.

If you’re staying on-site, it’s good practice to try booking Be Our Guest Restaurant as soon as your window opens, and for as far into your vacation as you can. Plan your park days around that. You might even make a couple of ADRs so that you can cancel one after park hours are released. If you’re not staying on-site, well, good luck. Try right when your 180 day window opens, and repeat as necessary for subsequent days of your trip.

Let’s just assume for a second that you’re unable to score one of those coveted ADRs far in advance of your trip. Fortunately, there are other options… (more…)

Tips for Buying Discount Disney World Tickets

Money-saving Tips for Buying Discount Walt Disney World Tickets (from authorized sellers!)

Walt Disney World offers lots of ticket options. Park tickets are expensive, but if you follow our tips & tricks, you can find good discounts on Disney tickets to save money. Tickets are likely going to be your second-most expensive expenditure of your Walt Disney World vacation after your hotel room (and perhaps airfare). Since Disney raises its ticket prices about once or twice per year, so it’s best to buy your tickets before your trip, as early as possible. This guide will help you with which tickets to buy, and where to buy them.

If all you want to know is where to safely buy cheap, legitimate Walt Disney World tickets from an authorized reseller and don’t want to read this entire article covering the best tickets to purchase and other tips, click here.

Walt Disney World ticket prices last increased in price on February 22, 2015. It was about a 5% price increase per, with one day tickets for the Magic Kingdom raising to $105 and other parks going to $97, plus increases for all multi-day tickets. There are rumors that prices may increase again Memorial Day weekend, or possibly in July, but this is just rumor. You can buy tickets now for vacations you’re taking anytime in the future, so buying before prices increase again is a good way to lock in current prices.

With this information about the latest Walt Disney World ticket price increase in mind, you might be wondering which type of Walt Disney World tickets you should purchase? We present all of the options here along with their pros and cons, so you can make an informed decision. Given their cost, and the different ticket options, it’s important to know as much as you can before you buy so you don’t waste money. Purchasing Walt Disney World tickets can be overwhelming, as there are many different choices and add-ons, but we will help you with that.

In this article we sort through the different options and give you recommendations on what types of tickets are best for you, plus where you can save money on Walt Disney World tickets. (If you’ve come looking for info on discount Disneyland tickets, you’ve come to the wrong place–but we do have an article with Tips for Saving Money on Disneyland Tickets, too.)

Ready to get started? Here are our tips and tricks for saving money on 2015 Walt Disney World tickets! (more…)

Disneyland Good Neighbor Hotel Review: Hyatt Regency Orange County

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Hyatt Regency Orange County is a hotel near Disneyland and the Anaheim Convention Center, and is arguably the nicest Disneyland Good Neighbor hotel in the area. This review features photos of the hotel, plus thoughts about our experience of staying here. Up front, I want to point out that there is one big downside of the hotel, and that’s the location. It’s about a mile away from Disneyland’s Esplanade, and out of walking distance for most people. However, because of its overall quality and being a Hyatt (meaning many guests might be able to use free nights here), we feel it’s worth covering in the context of Disneyland.

Let’s first discuss it from the perspective of its proximity to Disneyland, Disney California Adventure, and the Anaheim Convention Center. As mentioned above, it’s about a mile away from the parks, and although it’s often utilized by conventioneers (last time I went to the hotel, there were about a thousand teenage cheerleaders…yikes), it’s a bit of a hike from the Anaheim Convention Center, too. It’s a fairly easy walk if you are so inclined–it’s on the same side of the same road as Disneyland–but it’s a long walk.

Since the Hyatt Regency Orange County wants to tout itself as a Disneyland hotel, it does offer a shuttle to the parks. This shuttle is nice and efficient, but it charges $5 per adult per day, which is sort of irritating. Since Southern California has nice weather and we don’t mind walking, we only utilized this shuttle once and walked the rest of the time during our stay. I timed it as being a 30 minute walk from the front door to bag check at Disneyland, but we walk at a fairly brisk pace, so your mileage may vary.

That distance is the biggest downside to the Hyatt Regency Orange County. The upside is that this is a really nice hotel. Of the 39 Disneyland Good Neighbor Hotels, there are only 7 in the highest “Superior” tier, and this is one of them. All of the walking distance hotels right near the parks are varying degrees of okay, as what you’re paying for is the location, not room quality. By contrast, Hyatt Regency Orange County is legitimately a nice real world hotel. You can get an idea of how it stacks up to the competition, plus our overall comparison of the benefits of staying off-site versus on-site in our Where to Stay at Disneyland post.

What’s so nice about the Hyatt Regency Orange County? Let’s take a look… (more…)

Easter at Disneyland Info & Tips

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Considering a visit to Disneyland for Easter? This post will provide info and tips for Easter (and spring) in the parks concerning special entertainment, crowds, and more. It goes with out saying that you can have a good time any day of the year at Disneyland and Disney California, but during the Easter season, you’re guaranteed an egg-stra good time! That’s a bit of an eggs-ageration, but I couldn’t pass up the eggs-travagant pun there. Okay, sorry, I’ll stop.

Actually, unlike some other major holidays, Easter is sort of a blip on the radar at Disneyland and Disney California Adventure. In fact, aside from minor entertainment that’s offered in the spring, you are probably better off avoiding the Easter season, as it’s also the Spring Break season, which means the parks are busier than normal. For 2015, it’s also “Refurbishment Season” at Disneyland, with the park getting ready for its 60th Anniversary kicking off in May. This means there are walls all over the place, and many popular attractions are not operating.

If you’re a local, already booked a trip, enjoy crowded times of year, or otherwise are super into Easter or meeting rabbit characters (Disney has a surprising number of them), here is what you’ll need to know about an Easter visit to Disneyland Resort… (more…)

101 Great Disneyland Tips

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Disneyland and Disney California Adventure are generally considered “locals parks,” and there are a lot of things they do that you, too, can do to save time and money, or just improve the quality of your vacation. Here are 101 random tips based upon our visits to Disneyland as Annual Passholders, and based upon lessons we’ve learned while in the parks from locals we hang out with who have been visiting for years.

Our 101 Great Walt Disney World Tips list was so popular that we’ve decided to do this one for Disneyland! Not all of these tips will be applicable to everyone (not everyone is going to need to know about a Baby Care Center…even if the adults in your party can sometimes be big babies), but there should be something for everyone here. Whether you’re a first time planner or a weathered veteran who still has nightmare-flashbacks to Light Magic, there are tips for you here!

We have a lot of tips to cover (101, to be exact) that will help you experience Disneyland and Disney California Adventure like a “pro.” Some are simple hacks to save money, some will help you save time, and others are just random oddities that will enhance the experience. Make sure to read the comments at the end where some readers have shared additional tips.

Note that this post has been updated for 2015 with some new tips, plus some old tips that are no longer relevant removed. Let’s get started with our 101 favorite Disneyland tips! (more…)

Disney Vacation Club Buying Guide

If you travel to Walt Disney World or Disneyland and are able to see or hear, you probably are familiar with Disney’s “Best” Kept Secret: Disney Vacation Club (or “DVC” as the cool kids call it). Disney Vacation Club prices are higher than ever in 2015, with the new Polynesian Bungalows being particular expensive both in terms of dollars and points, making many wonder whether buying into Disney Vacation Club is actually a good idea for their families. Maybe you’ve recently taken a Disney Vacation Club tour or heard a sales pitch and are now wondering if it’s actually as good as that emotional pitch made it sound.

If you’ve considered purchasing Disney Vacation Club, one of the biggest considerations, no doubt, is whether it makes good economic sense. Unfortunately, as with almost everything in life there is no definitive answer to this question that fits everyone. From a purely economic perspective, Disney Vacation Club will not make sense for a lot of people. However, it’s worth reading on to see if it makes financial sense for you, or if there are other compelling reasons for you to make the purchase.

As mentioned above, if your main reason for purchasing an interest in Disney Vacation Club is to save money, whether it’s a good deal for you depends of your party size and resort tier preference. Contrary to Disney’s claim that Disney Vacation Club will save you “70% off” of future resort stays, this is not actually the case. If this were true, do you really think Disney would actually be offering the program–and that it would be wildly profitable for the company? Sure, Disney might take a bit of a hit to guarantee that you will be a loyal customer for years to come, but 70% off?! As we all learned in grade school, if something sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Disney’s 70% savings number assumes things that aren’t realistic to reality, such as paying rack rate in the most expensive Disney hotels and no return on investment for the (unfinanced) money invested in Disney Vacation Club. Even assuming these things, I’m still not quite sure how Disney arrives at its 70% off number, especially in 2015 when DVC direct prices are substantially more than they were just a few years ago. I think it might be equal parts magic and advertising puffery, but I’m not entirely sure.

It’s also worth noting that Disney Vacation Club is a pre-paid vacation plan, which differs slightly from the traditional definition of a timeshare. In the strictest sense, Disney Vacation Club can be viewed as an asset, but not a tangible one. This is an important distinction to some people, but it doesn’t matter to a lot of people.

With that said, let’s take a look at the pros and cons of buying into Disney Vacation Club, and what you should think about before you decide whether to pull the trigger… (more…)