Off-Site v. On-Site Disney World Hotels

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One of the most difficult decisions when planning for a Walt Disney World vacations can be whether you should stay on-site or off-site. Walt Disney World resort hotels have a lot of great benefits and are a compelling choice for many guests, but the hundreds of local off-site hotels offer many equally compelling reasons as to why guests should stay off-site. If you already know whether you want to stay on-site or off-site, you should skip this article and go directly to our Walt Disney World Hotel Reviews index page to determine which hotel is right for you.

For many people considering where to stay at Walt Disney World, price will be the determining factor, as it can be cheaper to do a Walt Disney World Trip on a Budget while staying off-site. However, this isn’t always the case, and there are other factors to consider before booking. Those with small vacation budgets might be surprised to find that, in some circumstances, it’s better for them to stay on-site, and those with large vacation budgets might be better served by staying off-site.

When this post was originally written, we had never stayed off-site at Walt Disney World, but I aimed at writing an article that objectively looked at all of the pros and cons of both staying off-site and staying on-site. Since then, we’ve stayed off-site on several occasions, so I’ve revised the post a bit (in April 2015) to reflect how those off-site stays have changed my perspective. Surprisingly, my views are pretty much the same, but some of the new insight should help you with your decision to stay off-site or on-site.

Let’s get started with the pros and cons of staying off-site versus on-site at Walt Disney World… (more…)

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…)

10 Ways to Save Money on Your 2015 Disney World Vacation

As the year draws to a close, many of you are probably planning your 2015 Walt Disney World trips. Part of that trip planning likely involves figuring out a way to budget for the trip, and determining what you realistically will spend on the trip. To help you get the most out of your vacation dollars, we’re here with 10 money-saving tips for your next Walt Disney World vacation!

Regardless of your budget, it’s never a bad idea to consider ways to save more money. For some of you, cutting spending may be the only way you can afford a trip to Walt Disney World. For others, saving money might not be strictly necessary, but rather is a way to fund that second (or seventh!) Disney trip of the year. We have been in both positions (I still vividly remember the days or ordering an extra bun so we could “split” a double cheeseburger at Cosmic Ray’s!) and while we are able to splurge more now, we still pay careful attention to our spending and make every effort to get the most bang for our buck. After all, those wasted dollars could be the makings of another trip!

Here are some of our recommendations for saving money on your 2015 (or beyond!) Walt Disney World vacation. Not all of these things will be for everyone. We each value different aspects of our trips differently, and what is unnecessary for some might be make or break for someone else. These are just possible ideas, not across the board recommendations for everyone. Cost-cutting is not a good idea when it’s at the expense of the fundamental experience–if you cut things that are important to you, don’t be surprised if the amount of fun you have is negatively impacted.

With that, let’s dig into the list! (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…)