Coolest Summer Ever 24-Hour Party Planning Tips

Dreamy Sunrise Over Cinderella CastleBefore we traveled to Walt Disney World the week between Christmas and New Year's, which is notoriously the busiest week of the year, a lot of people asked us whether we were crazy. Yes, of course we are, but that had nothing to do with our decision to visit during that week. The decision to bear those brutal crowds was made easy for us thanks to the extended operating hours and impressive New Year's Eve fireworks shows. And although we're not fans of large crowds (I'm betting not many of you have


During the Coolest Summer Ever 24-Hour Party, Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom, Disneyland & Disney California Adventure will be open for 24 consecutive hours beginning on May 22, 2015 at 6 am until 6 am on May 23, 2015. Despite being a holiday weekend, Memorial Day is not too busy. This 24-Hour Party falls on the Friday before Memorial Day weekend, making it the perfect time to take a long weekend trip to Walt Disney World or Disneyland.

We are biased. I’ve made trips to Disneyland and Walt Disney World for every one of these parties. I love them. Not everyone does. Several readers have written to us sharing their negative experiences, so your mileage may vary. This is not a hard ticket event, so a normal, single day ticket will entitle you to visit the parks for the full 24-hour party!

Based upon our experiences at the parties, here are some tips for enjoying these special events if you’re going to be Walt Disney World or Disneyland, and also some tips for those of you watching the fun from home! While this planning guide is a great primer, if you want a better idea of what to expect during the 24 hour event, I strongly encourage you to read our trip report from the “One More Disney Day” 24 hour event or last year’s Memorial Day Walt Disney World Trip Report. Even if you’re not going, there are some pretty photos from the events! This post was originally written for the first party, and it has been updated for each of the parties since.

Also, check out our general Disneyland Trip Planning Guide and Walt Disney World Trip Planning Guide if you’re not a “regular” at either park for more general planning tips. With that said, here are our Coolest Summer Ever 24-Hour Party tips! (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 a wide array of tickets. These tickets are expensive, but luckily, if you shop right, you can find good discounts on Disney tickets to save money. When it comes to a Disney vacation, the tickets are likely going to be your second-most expensive expenditure after your hotel room and perhaps airfare. For some people, they might actually be the most costly portion of the trip! Disney raises its ticket prices about once or twice per year, so it’s best to buy your tickets as early as possible, before your trip.

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 across the board increases for all multi-day tickets. We have heard rumors that prices on some tickets may increase again around Memorial Day weekend, or possibly in July, but this is just unverified rumor at this point. Keep in mind that 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 myriad of different ticket options, it’s important to know as much as you can about the different types of tickets, and what your family will probably need. Purchasing Walt Disney World tickets can be overwhelming, as there are many different choices and add-ons. It’s intimidating at first, but all of the options are a good thing, as you can buy exactly what you need and not waste money on unnecessary extras.

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…)

Lunar New Year at Disney California Adventure Tips

dancers-lunar-new-year-disney

Happy Lunar New Year is a celebration of Chinese, Korean and Vietnamese cultural traditions in Disneyland Resort’s Disney California Adventure from February 19–22. This post offers some photos from the annual event, plus tips for visiting if you’re heading to the event this year or in the future. This year, the celebration revolves around the “Year of the Sheep” with a Mulan processional, live music, dancing, red and gold decor, hanging lanterns, special Disney character meet & greets, menu items, and more.

Culturally, Lunar New Year is a multi-day annual tradition that is the customary time to reflect on the past and step into a new life of hope, prosperity, and happiness. Much like ¡Viva Navidad!, which felt like an event straight out of circa-1982 EPCOT Center, Happy Lunar New Year also combines authentic culture with Disney fun.

It’s not simply characters from Mulan and Mickey Mouse in traditional Lunar New Year garb and Disney saying because ??? that somehow equals a reflection of hope and prosperity. Rather, there is actual entertainment and and educational component that feels inspired by actual Lunar New Year celebrations, that give guests an authentic slice of culture alongside the fun of the Mulan processional and special character meet and greets. It doesn’t feel like it’s simply a ruse to sell some expensive event merchandise and overpriced menu items to locals (although that’s part of the equation). There’s a genuine effort to make this an enriching and entertaining experience for guests, and this is exactly the kind of thing that belongs in EPCOT.

What’s so special about the Happy Lunar New Year Celebration at Disney California Adventure? Let’s take a look! (more…)

1-Day Tokyo Disneyland “Daily Trip Blueprint”

If we were going to spend a “perfect” day in Tokyo Disneyland, these are the attractions we would do, the restaurants at which we’d dine, the shows we’d see, and the details we’d try to enjoy. This post continues our series of 1-day park itineraries designed to answer the frequently asked question, “what would you do if you only had one day in ____ Disney park?” We call this series our “Daily Trip Blueprints,” or DTBs for short. Note that in our Tokyo Disney Resort Trip Planning Guide we recommend 2 days at Tokyo Disneyland if you have the time, and the park has a really impressive attraction slate (and often, long lines), so you necessarily will have to skip some things if you only have one day. If you’re visiting Tokyo DisneySea, check out our 1-Day Tokyo DisneySea itinerary.

These Daily Trip Blueprints aren’t touring plans or strategy guides for doing as much in a single day at Tokyo Disneyland as possible. If you follow this guide, you won’t do every single attraction in the park. While this guide is more focused on efficiency than many of our others (you’ll go crazy waiting in lines if you’re not at least somewhat efficient), it still allows time to slow down and experience the little details that set Tokyo Disneyland apart from the other Disneyland style parks found throughout the world. Even though it’s a “greatest hits” park to a degree, it’s really so much more than that.

I have described Tokyo Disneyland as a “Bizarro Magic Kingdom” and this applies to attractions, too. While Tokyo Disneyland generally has the best version of most attractions (or at least the best maintained), if you only have 1 day, the fact is that day is probably best spent doing original attractions that are unique to Tokyo Disneyland, or at least substantially different. For that reason, I recommend view the following as skippable if you are crunched for time: Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, Haunted Mansion, Star Tours, Buzz Lightyear’s Astro Blasters, Dumbo, Alice’s Tea Party, Pinocchio’s Daring Journey, Snow White’s Adventures, plus Pirates of the Caribbean and Roger Rabbit’s Car Toon Spin (if you’ve been to Disneyland). Do as many of these as you can, but they should be the first thing to go if you’re in a time crunch. You can see the full attraction lineup in our Tokyo Disneyland Attraction Guide post.

This Tokyo Disneyland 1-Day Guide assumes a few things, both of which should be strongly noted: first, that you’re visiting during a weekday at a moderately-crowded time of year, and second, that no seasonal events are occurring during your visit. Unless you’ve been to Walt Disney World or Disneyland on New Year’s Eve or some other major holiday, you probably have never seen the kind of crowds the Tokyo parks get on weekends or during busy season. If you visit when it’s busier, you will wait in long lines for everything, including to get into the park.

The second assumption is that there is no seasonal entertainment during your visit (which is a poor assumption since most of the time there is seasonal entertainment, but it’s an assumption I’m making for the sake of making this easier to write). All of the seasonal entertainment we have seen at Tokyo Disneyland is well done, so plan to pencil this into your schedule as time permits if it’s going on while you visit.

Finally, we’re going to assume intelligent and efficient use of the FastPass system. This means getting a FastPass as soon as you’re eligible, and using them accordingly. Since windows for FastPasses will vary, most of the time we gloss over FastPass utilization, with a few exceptions.

If budget is no issue, you’re going to want to stay at Tokyo Disneyland Hotel for your 1-day in Tokyo Disneyland. It is located a short walk from Tokyo Disneyland, and some rooms have views into the park. Just as importantly, staying here (or any of the three Disney hotels) gives you the “Happy 15″ perk, which is 15 minutes of early entry into the park. You might scoff at only 15 minutes of early entry, but don’t underestimate its importance. If the Disney hotels don’t fit within your budget, we recommend the Hilton Tokyo Bay (read our hotel review), which is an official partner hotel, and located on the monorail loop. Make sure to book it early or check rates regularly, as prices fluctuate.

Once you wake up from wherever it is that you are sleeping, eat breakfast, and then get started on your day… (more…)

Tips for Buying Discount Disneyland Tickets

Tips for Saving Money on Disneyland Tickets by Buying from Authorized Third Parties (AAA, Costco, etc.)

Looking to save money on your trip to Disneyland? Given the ticket prices following the most recent Disneyland ticket price increase in February 2015, this is a rhetorical question–we doubt anyone wants to spend more money than necessary. Lucky for you, discount Disneyland tickets can be found through a variety of vendors, including online, at Disneyland Good Neighbor Hotels in Anaheim, AAA, Safeway, Costco, online, and authorized websites. If you live in SoCal (and proof of residence), special offers are sometimes made available to SoCal residents during times when attendance is predicted to be light. So if you’re a local, you might be in luck.

AAA, Safeway, and Costco have small standard discounts of a couple dollars per ticket. From time to time, Costco stores on the West Coast will offer a gift card with purchase (this is never offered online and was last offered in-stores in March 2013). If you live on the West Coast and this is available when you’re planning to purchase tickets, it’s by far the best deal. Note that AAA and Disney ended their partnership in January 2015, so the savings there are no longer as good, and they no longer offer free parking. Currently, for the best deals we recommend buying safely and securely from Park Savers, an authorized seller of Disneyland tickets with the best prices that we’ve found (for an authorized seller).

As mentioned above, Disneyland ticket prices increased on February 22, 2015. There are rumors that Disney will again increase prices right as its 60th Anniversary celebration kicks off around Memorial Day weekend, but at this point those rumors are unverified. If you’re going to Disneyland sometime before the end of 2015, it might be wise to purchase tickets now to lock-in the current prices.

Where you shouldn’t buy tickets is as important as where you should buy them. Disneyland authorizes some third parties to sell its tickets at slight discounts, and there is a huge black market for bootleg and partially-used “rental” tickets. You might be familiar with this because Disneyland’s crackdown on these tickets has garnered national media attention. Whatever you do, do not buy Disneyland tickets on eBay, Craigslist, or on the side of the road near Disneyland Resort. Ticket “rental” is a scam, and you will be throwing your money away. Disney Cast Members will not have any sympathy if you’re caught with “rental” tickets; you will have to purchase new tickets at the gate, at full price. Not a fun way to start a vacation.

Much like Walt Disney World, Disneyland offers tickets with a “hopper” option (the ability to visit both parks in the same day) and one-day, one-park tickets that don’t allow hopping. Unsurprisingly, non-hopper tickets are cheaper. As of the February 2015 increases, 1-day non-hopper tickets are around $99, whereas hopper tickets were over $150, before tax.

Remember, this guide is for Disneyland Resort, encompassing Disneyland (park) and Disney California Adventure. If you’re visiting Walt Disney World in Florida, check out our Tips for Saving Money on Walt Disney World Tickets post. With that said, here are my thoughts on which Disneyland tickets you should purchase… (more…)

Best 2015 Walt Disney World Discounts

Disney World has announced discount vacation packages and other room only, military, and free dining discounts for 2015, with more to come for dates later in the year (for those specifically concerned about the Free Disney Dining Plan, it’s typically announced in late April or early May; you can find more details about Free Dining dates in this post). Some of these Disney World discounts are better than others and discounts are quite predictable as they typically repeat, so to get an idea of how the various discounts stack up, we’ve put together this article rating Disney’s discounts. To see which discounts are best for particular “types” of guest read our summary and review of all Walt Disney World discounts below.

Rather than this being a generic post providing specific details (like dates) of the various discounts at Walt Disney World, this post will instead editorialize. You can find the information concerning applicable dates and the like on DisneyWorld.com or on a myriad of other fan sites that simply copy and paste the information from DisneyWorld.com. This post is meant to help those of you who are unfamiliar with Walt Disney World discounts get an idea of how good the discount you’re considering really is (despite Disney’s best marketing efforts, some discounts are better than others).

I’ve planned every Walt Disney World trip we’ve taken over the course of the years, and I’ve learned a lot about traveling frugally to Walt Disney World in the process. Hopefully this provides a primer for those who don’t visit as often, but are looking to save the most money possible when planning their Walt Disney World trip! (more…)