Katsura Grill Review

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Katsura Grill is a counter service restaurant in the Japan Pavilion of Epcot’s World Showcase at Walt Disney World. The menu here is quite expansive, and consists of teriyaki, udon, sushi, curry, and various combos. For an ostensibly Japanese restaurant, many of these options are fairly approachable and will appeal to a broad selection of guests. In other words, it’s fairly Americanized. You aren’t going to find poisonous fugu fish that will leave you with 22 hours to live if you eat it.

While Katsura Grill made our list as the #3 counter service restaurant in Epcot, it’s worth noting that it’s not in the same league as Tangierine Cafe or Sunshine Seasons. In terms of basic info, Katsura Grill participates in the Disney Dining Plan, but does not accept the Tables in Wonderland card for a 20% discount. It can be a reasonably priced or expensive meal depending upon what you order–it’s a solid use of a Disney Dining Plan counter service credit if you order one of the combos and are trying to maximize your counter service credit value on the Disney Dining Plan.

We tend to eat at Katsura Grill a lot. Here’s why… (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…)

Disney’s Hollywood Studios Counter Service Restaurants Rankings

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This post ranks the best quick service restaurants in Disney’s Hollywood Studios at Walt Disney World, a park with notoriously bad counter service options. In fact, “best” here might be a bit of a misnomer, as it could be more of a question of which restaurants are the “least worst.” Rankings are based upon a restaurant’s overall appeal, with factors such as cuisine quality, theme, uniqueness, and menu variety taken into account.

While I think Disney’s Hollywood Studios is actually underrated when it comes to table service dining, the same cannot be said for its counter service options. It doesn’t have a single restaurant on our Top 10 Counter Service Walt Disney World Dining list, and accordingly is the only Walt Disney World theme park not represented. Now, the counter service options at Disney’s Hollywood Studios aren’t awful, there’s just no real draw or anything that leaves a lasting impression. If your budget allows, I highly recommend doing table service meals here; you’ll certainly have time given the lack of attractions currently operating in the Studios.

Note that these rankings focus only on the major counter service spots at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, so not every outdoor vending cart and little location makes the list. We’ve dined at all of these spots, but have yet to review most of them…largely because there’s little to say. Our meals at most of these spots have been out of necessity when we couldn’t get into 50’s Prime Time Cafe or Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater, and we simply had to eat somewhere.

Let’s get started with the Disney’s Hollywood Studios counter service rankings… (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…)