Star Wars Launch Bay Opens at Hollywood Studios

Since Star Wars weekends has been sadly eliminated from Hollywood Studios, and the new Star Wars land is still probably three years out, Walt Disney World decided to hold us over with the Star Wars Launch Bay. The new experience features Chewbacca and Darth Vader Meet N Greets, as well as costumes and other items from the Star Wars franchise.

Check out this full video overview from Inside the Magic.

Ask r/WaltDisneyWorld: Where do you find respite in the parks?

I’m a member of Reddit (aka the front page of the internet) which allows people to share information and converse around common interests. A great Reddit group is the topic r/WaltDisneyWorld. Whenever I can’t find an answer to a specific question I ask them and they give me their honest answers.

So today’s question is: Where in the parks do you find respite?

With their ever growing popularity, the parks can get super crowded, even during slower shoulder seasons, and sometimes we just need a break. Whether you have a small napping child, want to relax yourself, or literally recharge (your phone that is) here are a few good places. Continue reading

Touring Plan: What to Eat at the EPCOT Flower & Garden Festival

So the EPCOT Food and Wine Festival has turned into quite the crowd pleaser, but fewer know that the EPCOT International Flower and Garden Festival not only has beautiful garden displays, but also has turned into a food event in its own right. Unlike other Disney special events, both of these festivals take place over several weeks, which means less concentrated crowds. Best of all, there is no additional admission. A win-win for everyone.

This year the Flower and Garden festival has been extended an unprecedented 90 days from March 2 to May 30, 2016. Limited viewing topiaries, food and even an interactive children’s garden are all part of the festival this year.

This is one of the reasons why I chose to go during April with my family in 2016. I can’t wait to snack on all the new pop up stands available during the Flower and Garden Festival. Check out the video below on some of the tasty foods offered in 2015.

How to get to Disney: To Fly or Drive?

The age old question – flying versus driving. If you live on the East coast this is always the great debate. I’ve done both.

Driving, even with gas money and an overnight stay, is often cheaper than flying, but if you live in the Northeast you are losing a day, possibly two days, to travel on each end of your trip. That was one very long car ride with my sister in the back seat, and exhausted parents upon arrival.

I’ve also flown. In fact, my first time on a plane when I was four years old was to go to Disney World and I can still remember the seeing clouds and wonderment I felt being in that plane for the first time.

What is best for you and your family, only you can tell but I will offer up this. Flights can be earned with airline miles bringing costs down. 

In addition, many discount airlines offer direct flights to Orlando. These include Spirit Airlines, Frontier Airlines, Allegiant Airlines and Southwest Airlines. These low cost airlines will tack on fees for just about anything from carry on baggage to water, so know before you purchase, but a lot of money can be saved using these carriers. I personally just had a great experience on Frontier Airlines and I would use them again.

Please note these flights may not show up in a large flight search on Kayak, Momondo or the like. Dig around.

Please note: Frontier Airlines can be purchased on Orbitz. Significant savings can be had when booking flight, car rental and hotel or a combination of two of these things together. Be sure to sign up for their rewards program to earn money back to put towards your next trip.

Where to Purchase Tickets

Note that children under three are FREE.

Option 1: Directly through Disney.

If you booked a package deal to take advantage of the free dining plan for example, then you will need to purchase you tickets through Disney directly.

Disney also offers excellent Florida Resident and Military discounts, so it’s advantageous to purchase through Disney if you fall into these categories.

You can use Disney gift cards to purchase tickets from Disney.

Option 2: Purchase through a third party.

The easiest place to get them is Undercover Tourist. I’ve done it before, and there isn’t much savings, but it’s something. 

To get tickets from Undercover Tourist for free follow this travel hacking program explained by Brad’s Deals.

There are several reputable places to purchase tickets from, and where you go really depends on how long you’re going and what options you want. WDW Prep School breaks it down into an awesome, easy to read excel document.

Sometimes if purchasing your hotel on a third party site a good deal will pop up on tickets with purchase. Weigh your options.

To park hopper or not to park hopper?

Tickets come in one to several day increments, getting cheaper per day the more days you add. The great debate usually kicks in with the park hopper option. This option allows you to go to more than one park in one day.

This isn’t a cheap option, and is really personal preference. The last time we went we did the park hopper, and I was happy we did. It allowed us to visit three parks in one day, which was easy to do with virtually no crowds. It also let us easily change gears when we found a park was getting crowded to go to another park. We were two adults though, so if moving around to different parks sounds like a nightmare with kids, a regular ticket may be for you.

Disney Hack: Best Place to See Fireworks Outside the Parks

Did you know you can see the various Disney end of day fireworks displays without paying park admission? It’s true!

There are many places to view Wishes, the fireworks display at Magic Kingdom outside the parks, but the best in my humble opinion is at the newly refurbished Polynesian Resort. There are a few restaurants there and a beach, where they even pipe in the music from the Magic Kingdom. This is on my list to do this trip. We plan on grabbing a bite to eat at Captain Cook’s quick service restaurant, and then the famous Dole Whip from Pineapple Lanai (that’s all they sell there). A bonus of this is that you can view the free boat light show which laps around the lake. Continue reading

Strategy for Savings: Riding the Disney Discount Wave

Many when planning a Walt Disney World vacation only decide to book a few months in advance. This is a flawed strategy for a few reasons.

First, did you know you can book a complete Disney vacation package including hotel, tickets, and dining with only a $200 deposit? Your entire package payment is not actually due until 30 days before your departure. In addition, that deposit, and any other payment you make is fully refundable up until that time.

You can also make any changes up until that time on your Disney vacation package. What this means is you can book early and get the room you want, and continually adjust to take advantage of any promotions that arise. Continue reading