Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Disney in Your Every Day Life

To the left is a photo of some of the things I use to keep Disney in my every day life.  On my last trip in August, I became the proud owner of the adorable watch and ring in that picture.  And the watch came in the super cute Mickey box, too!  I wear the ring every day, and although the watch is somewhat water damaged (which I am so upset that I did), I wear it sometimes anyway.

There are plenty of ways to have Disney in your life!  See disneyinmylife.com if you don't believe me!  But while Disney In My Life showcases how Disney can randomly appear, there are also ways to purposefully place Disney in your life.  For starters, you can wear Disney.  Like I showed with the ring and the watch, I wear Disney every day.  There are also Disney t-shirts, jackets, Crocs... if you can wear it, Disney has manufactured it. 

In addition, you can decorate with Disney.  Disney has lines of cooking supplies, bathroom accessories, bedding, etc.  Again, if you can decorate with it, Disney has manufactured it.  Or at least has put a big Mickey head on it!  Personally, I have my Minnie Mouse ears on my windowsill.  It's how I remind myself of Disney every day.  For the more intense (and, you know, those with your own houses), you can also display pin collections, Vinylmation, and framed pictures.  And for the less dramatic, there are plenty of items with more subtle hints of Disney.

Next, you can listen to Disney.  To listen, my method of choice is podcasts.  There are tons of Disney podcasts out there (WDW Today, Be Our Guest Podcast, and Betamouse are a few that I've reviewed on this blog), and once you find a few you like, it is very easy to become a loyal follower.  You can also listen to Disney related music on various online radio stations (Mouse World Radio and Magical Mouse Radio come to mind) or on your own iTunes if you own any Disney music.  And you can listen to Disney on basically any device, so Disney can go anywhere!

Finally, you can talk Disney.  Start a blog or comment on one.  Join Twitter and talk to the amazing community of Disney people.  Talk on forums, or talk on Facebook.  The social networks are endless, and the people are amazing.  You develop friendships, and you can take Disney to the next level.  Also, talk to your friends and family about Disney.  You might be surprised that they enjoy talking about it as well.

How do you keep Disney in your every day life?  Do you do any or all of the above?  Do you have any other ways?  Let me know in a comment, a tweet (@discollegeblog), or on Facebook!

Monday, June 28, 2010

The Downside to Flying

I am not a big fan of flying.  I wouldn't say humans were meant to be airborne for any longer than three to four seconds at a time.  That said, I do fly in planes because I like to go places.  Somewhere in between a fear of flying and a desire to travel lies an anxiety filled few hours followed by general happiness.  Unfortunately, flying isn't always the most efficient way to travel.

For starters, it can get expensive.  Although there are deals out there, the larger your party is, the less likely flying to your destination is worth it.  For one person, the price of the flight might equal the price of gas and (possibly) a night in a hotel.  For two people it might be worth it, even.  But a family of four or five will use money most effectively driving to your Disney destination.

And then there are delays.  Yesterday it took me roughly four hours on a plane to make a 50 minute flight.  We boarded at around 3:30, but we didn't have enough fuel to remain in the holding patterns to get into Kennedy airport.  So we had to land at a semi-nearby airport, refuel, and get back in line to land.  Overall, it took much longer than necessary.  Luckily, Kennedy was our end destination, but the people who had transfers had more ordeals in their futures.  Connecting flights, especially currently, can get very tight with all the delays out there.  I never remember transfers being so iffy in the past, but now it's often a gamble.  But a nonstop flight costs more than a connection.  Add that to already expensive airfare, and the plane's not looking so cost effective anymore.

Overall, like with anything, you have to weigh the pros and cons to each side.  If you fly, your travel time is shorter, but it will usually cost more.  Also, you won't have your own car.  If you drive, it may be cheaper, but it will take much longer.  You will have your car with you, but you also have to physically drive to your destination.  No sitting pretty with a little bag of peanuts for you.  Personally, I would rather fly, but everyone has their own preferences.

How do you get to your Disney destinations?  Drive?  Fly?  Train?  Horseback?  All of the above?  Let me know in a comment, a tweet (@discollegeblog), or on Facebook!

Friday, June 25, 2010

Where to Dine: So Many Choices!

There are a huge number of restaurants on Disney property, and I have only eaten at a small number of them.  With the 180-day window quickly approaching on the January trip that we're not even sure will happen, I'm going to have to make some dining decisions very soon.  Especially if I want hard-to-get reservations.  I have thus far concretely decided that we will try California Grill (hopefully on my birthday, hopefully during Wishes!), Crystal Palace breakfast, Yachtsman Steakhouse, and Bistro de Paris (hopefully on my boyfriend's birthday!).  Yeah, it looks like we might be going all out for food on this trip.  That said, we have two or three (not sure yet) days to fill up with meals, and we have eight restaurants to choose from.  And that's where you come in, faithful readers!  I'm going to list the eight restaurants I'm deciding between, and I'd like you to tell me which ones you like and don't like!  I need your input to make a decision!  So here goes nothing, in no particular order...

1. Teppan Edo.  We're considering Teppan Edo because we both love Japanese food, and I think hibachi is awesome.  Also, we've already been to Tokyo Dining, and we'll be going to Tokyo Dining again in August.  We could use a Japanese food change.  Then again, I could just go to the local Benihana any time.  Is Teppan Edo particularly unique?


2. The Wave.  I've heard a lot of good things about the Wave, so it made my list of possibilities for January.  That being said, it's one of the restaurants on my list that I'm least excited about because it doesn't seem to have anything that reeeeally draws me in like some of the other restaurants.  It sort of seems like it's just there for Contemporary guests, and that it might not really be worth it amongst my other choices.  Or maybe I'm just selling the Wave short.

3. Kona Cafe.  If I say I've heard a lot of good things about the Wave, then there are no words to describe the number of good things I've heard about Kona.  I don't hear anything but good things about it, and it's even pretty reasonably priced!  This is one of the restaurants that I'm leaning towards a lot, especially because the price means I might be able to sneak in another table service in addition to this one if we eat here for lunch.  Also, the Poly is totally awesome, and being there is fantastic.

4. Trail's End.  I've heard good things about Trail's End (are you seeing a pattern here?) which is why I've put it on my list.  That said, I'm not sure what makes it different from any other buffet, and I'm not sure why exactly I should choose it.  The price is fairly reasonable, but I feel like I don't know enough about the restaurant to make an informed decision about it.  Is it a must try or just a nice place to go when you don't have an ADR anywhere else?

5. Restaurant Marrakesh.  I find the idea of a Moroccan restaurant intriguing, but it also makes me nervous.  I've heard that the atmosphere and entertainment is fantastic, but I'm not sure how I'll feel about the food.  The bottom line is, I've heard that Marrakesh is generally liked, but I'm not sure I want to pay if I don't know if I'll like the food.  Those of you who have been to Marrakesh, do you know if having a meal at the Tangierine Cafe will be a good guide for whether or not I'll like Marrakesh?  I'm planning on trying out Tangierine on my August trip.

6. Biergarten.  I feel roughly the same about Biergarten as I do about Restaurant Marrakesh except I've heard many more good things about Biergarten.  I believe we'd greatly enjoy the entertainment and atmosphere, but I'm nervous about the food.  I don't know anything about German food, and I'm not sure I'll like it.  Those of you who are picky eaters, have you tried Biergarten?  Is there something for everything, or should I try to stay away?

7. Raglan Road.  I think Raglan Road could really be a blast.  It sounds like a lot of fun.  Plus, since we will be at Walt Disney World during my boyfriend's 21st birthday, we could eat here the next day, and he could enjoy all the beer and such.  And as for little old me, I'm sure I'd have just as much (well not as much, but close!) fun drinking Coke.  The place sounds great, but overall, I haven't heard too much about it, which is one of the reasons why I'm not sure about it.  Have any of you been there?

8. Whispering Canyon Cafe.  Last but not least on my list of possibilities is Whispering Canyon Cafe.  This is another place that sounds like a blast, and if we go, I will be sure to ask for ketchup!  That said, is the food really good as well?  Is it somewhere you just go for the fun of it?  And does it win out over my other choices?




Now I need your help!  If you could choose three of these restaurants, which would you choose?  Are there any of these eight that you really don't like?  Are there any other restaurants that you absolutely love that you think should be on this list?  We've already been to/will be going to Wolfgang Puck Cafe, San Angel Inn, Tokyo Dining, Sci-Fi Dine In, Ohana, Yak and Yeti, Akershus, Le Cellier, Boma, Jiko, and Coral Reef, so try not to suggest those if you can.  Unless you think that one is good enough to repeat.  Let me know you opinions in a comment, a tweet (@discollegeblog), or on Facebook!  Thanks in advance!

All photos are from allears.net, my absolute favorite resource for things like these.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Review: Toy Story 3

Talk about a movie that's topical for college students.  I saw Toy Story 3 on Monday, and my mind is still reeling from it.  I felt so many emotions, and it was awesome to see a movie series come full circle in such a timely way for a college student.

Like many of you fellow college students, I was just a little kid when the first Toy Story came out, and I thought it was awesome.  Then Toy Story 2 came out and was also amazing.  After that, it seemed like Pixar started focusing all their energy, especially from a marketing standpoint, on Cars.  I have been known to say that Cars is the Toy Story of the next generation.  I would bet you'd be hard-pressed to find a boy between ages three and seven who doesn't own any Cars item.  Toy Story has made an amazing comeback with this movie, however, and I hope I start seeing boys wearing Toy Story merchandise again.

Now for the movie review, STOP HERE IF YOU DON'T WANT SPOILERS.

The movie was simply amazing, heartwarming and incredibly sad at the same time.  I mean, once they were headed toward the furnace, I started crying, and I don't think I stopped until the credits started rolling.  The movie had the perfect mix of fun, funny, and sad, so I didn't feel bad after it ended.  I only felt fulfilled.

From a college student's perspective, I must say that it dealt with themes that we all face.  Fear of abandonment.  Moving on.  Growing up.  We all go through it, and the movie was as much for college students and adults as it was for children.  It was truly a movie for everyone to enjoy.

I could not believe the ending, and I'm still not sure how I feel about it.  For one thing, I'm sure they left it open for a fourth movie, but I hope that they leave the trilogy as is.  This third movie really came to a great conclusion, and I don't think it needs to be opened up again.  Pixar can now focus its efforts on Monsters Inc 2.  I'm excited for that one. 

Finally, I want to talk a little about Lotso.  Lotso was possibly the most sinister character I've ever seen in a Pixar movie.  I found him much scarier than Sid (who, by the way, made hilarious appearances in TS3), and I was very surprised when he didn't come around at the end.  I'm also a little concerned for the poor children who met him in Disney's Hollywood Studios before the movie came out, thinking he was a good character.  They must be traumatized from that.  Then again, I suppose that's exactly what happened with Woody and Buzz and the rest of the toys.  Tricked by the fuzzy pink bear.

Overall, I think the movie was amazing, and I plan on seeing it at least once more in theaters.  It was worth the ridiculously priced movie ticket and movie food, and having seen it in 2D, I can't say that I feel like I missed anything.  I prefer 2D, in fact, because I feel I can focus on the movie more.

So what do you think?  Love Toy Story 3?  Did you cry as well?  Haven't seen it yet?  Preferred it in 3D?  Let me know in a comment, a tweet (@discollegeblog), or on Facebook!

Monday, June 21, 2010

How to Spend a Day Outside the Parks

Sometimes your budget just doesn't allow for you to go to the parks every day on a trip to Walt Disney World.  When this happens, you need to find some alternatives, and Disney has a lot of them.  Disney makes it easy to spend a whole day or more without ever stepping foot through a turnstile.  Here are just a few suggestions for non-park days.


1. Mini-golf.  Everyone loves mini-golf, and Walt Disney World has two mini-golf courses on property: Fantasia Gardens and Winter Summerland.  Fantasia Gardens is themed around the Disney movie Fantasia, while Winter Summerland is themed around Santa's off-season getaway.  Both are relatively inexpensive at a little over $12 for one round.  Also, you can get 50% off your second same-day round if you keep your receipt.  Relatively inexpensive fun with the Disney flair that everyone loves!


2. Hang out by the pool.  There's nothing like getting some relaxation on a vacation, and there's no better way to do that than by spending a day at the pool.  A pool day at the beginning of your vacation revs you up for the fun to come, while one in the middle gives you a nice break to recharge for the last half of your trip.  A pool day at the end will be a nice rest from all the running around you did, so you really can't go wrong with one at any point in your trip.  Plus, if you're paying for the resort, the pool day is free!


3. Explore the resorts.  Walt Disney World has a ton of resorts, and you can definitely spend the better part of a day just exploring them all.  From the monorail resorts to the Epcot resorts to the Animal Kingdom and Wilderness Lodges, pretty much all of the deluxe resorts are worth a look.  Plus, as long as you don't buy anything at the multitude of gift shops you may encounter, checking out the different resorts is virtually free.


4. Visit Downtown Disney.  Downtown Disney is, again, virtually free to visit as long as you avoid buying anything.  Then again, buying things is half the fun, and if you're a shopper, this is the place for you to be.  There are tons of stores here, including the massive World of Disney.  Also, there are plenty of great places to eat as well as Disney Quest, an indoor "theme park."  Disney Quest can be cool, and a ticket is less expensive than a park ticket, but keep in mind that the large majority of attractions and games are outdated.


5. Visit a water park.  A ticket to a water park is less expensive than a ticket to one of the main four theme parks, and it is a lot of fun.  There are two water parks to choose from: Blizzard Beach and Typhoon Lagoon.  Both promise an awesome time for the whole family, and especially for college students.  If you enjoy the water, a water park day could be a great consideration for a day out of the theme parks.


6. Visit a theme park.  Confused that I'm suggesting visiting a theme park on a non-park day?  It's because if you are buying park tickets, it is often less expensive to add another day to your tickets than to do something else entirely.  For example, once you get past three days, it costs less than ten dollars to add another day to your tickets.  And once you get past four days, it's only three dollars extra for each additional day!  As Disney says, the more you play, the less you pay per day.  So when you can visit the Magic Kingdom for less than the price of a round of mini-golf, it should definitely be a consideration.

Now what do you think?  What are your favorite ways to spend days outside of the theme parks?  Do you spend days outside of the parks at all?  What do you think of my suggestions?  Let me know in a comment, a tweet (@discollegeblog), or on Facebook!

All images are from allears.net, an amazing resource for anything that has to do with Disney.

Friday, June 18, 2010

The Great Movie Debate

Image from DisneyWorld.com

So this week is "International Hollywood Studios Awareness Week," and accordingly, I have decided to write an article about a great debate that goes on in the Disney community:  should the Great Movie Ride be updated?

The Great Movie Ride opened in 1989, and has stayed pretty much the same since then.  Since the ride's over 20 years old, some people believe that it should be updated.  They think that they should add some new movies to the scenes and perhaps take out some old ones.  On this debate, I must say I disagree.  Personally, I think the Great Movie Ride should stay roughly the same as it is now.  The large majority of the films you ride through are classics, and if you update now, you'll always have to be updating to keep the films current.  Even though I don't agree with some of the film choices, I think they should leave them as is.  At the very most, update the film montage in the ride every now and then (which I believe they do).

I do, however, think a different kind of update could be nice: an audio animatronic update.  I wouldn't say that Disney should drop everything to do this, but it would be a nice addition to the ride.  Some of the audio animatronics are kinda lacking (I mean it was built in the 80s), and it would be amazing to see new ones go in there.  That said, I love the Great Movie Ride anyway, and if I had to choose between keeping the old animatronics and a complete update to the movies in the ride, I'd stick with the old ones.

The Great Movie Ride is a classic attraction, and it's an must-do for me every time I go to the Studios.  And now you are aware for International Hollywood Studios Awareness Week!  If you want more information on the Great Movie Ride or the Studios in general, check out Studios Central!

So that's my two cents.  I know everyone has a different opinion on this, so I'd love to hear your argument.  Let me know what you think about the Great Movie Debate in a comment, a tweet (@discollegeblog), or on Facebook!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Birthdays at the World: Where to Eat?

To the left is a picture of James and I on my last birthday.  We went to Ruby Tuesday's for dinner with some friends, but for my next birthday I hope to be somewhere a bit more exciting: Walt Disney World.  It is possible that James and I will take another trip to WDW in January, and it will hopefully fall over both of our birthdays.  Which leads me to the question of today's blog post...

Where should I have dinner (or breakfast or lunch if that's what you think would be best) on my birthday?  I really have no idea where to begin with this quest for the best birthday restaurant.  So I need your opinions, readers.  This is a short blog post because it is essentially a cry for help (if I were Katie, I'd use the hashtag #helpme).

Where do you think is a good place for a birthday dinner?  Where have you eaten for your birthday celebrations at Walt Disney World?  Let me know in a comment, a tweet (@discollegeblog), or on Facebook.  My birthday dinner is in your hands.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Readers Weigh In: How to Save Money at Disney

Last Wednesday, I wrote an article about ways to find money to go to Disney.  Then on Friday, I wrote about ways to save money while at Disney.  So many of you had great suggestions about saving money that I thought I'd make a post compiling all your great advice.  So thanks to everyone who sent me money saving tips!  Here is what some of you said...

Eating Breakfast in Your Room...
"oatmeal packets for breakfast, pb&j's for lunch, and trail mix for snacks - saves TONS of $$$ (more for #wdw merchandise!)" - pixienancy on Twitter

"Eat breakfast in the room! Pop Tarts & Rice Krispie Treats work great! :)" - BeOurGuestMike on Twitter

"As do Little Debbie donuts :)" - bill_in_ma on Twitter

"We usually bring cereal & pop tarts & eat breakfast in our room each day (except last day then character bfst)" - mccato on Twitter

Bringing Your Own...
"bring your own water bottle! saves SO much money! the taste of the tap water has definitely improved :)" - pixienancy on Twitter

"Bringing drinks&snacks with you,HUGE savings.Also,purchasing a resort cup for free refills a must." - Purplexo67 on Twitter

"A great tip that a lot of people dont know about, is that disney lets you take food into the parks.
What I did on my recent trip was bring a plastic water bottle and a bunch of those little powdered drink packets. I never bought a drink or went thirsty. [...] Stopping at a grocery store and picking up snacks ahead of time and making sandwiches for lunch can really help you save cash." - Kim M in a comment

"If you might have poncho weather, go ahead and buy a cheaper one before you get there!" - revelinanna on Twitter

Number Crunching...
"I have saved money by signing up for the newsletters that Disney sends out with special offers (or just checking the site now and then when planning) as my dates got closer. Some people seem to find it annoying to be checking for discounts often instead of just booking and sticking to that, but I can't imagine why. Saving money is saving money!" -  Anna in a comment

"I also encourage people to do some number crunching when it comes to flying versus driving... I'm always surprised how much CHEAPER it is to drive" - Angela S in a comment

And More...
"Another tip I have is if you are staying on property, don't charge stuff to the room. Its easy to get carried away and not know how much you spend until you see that bill at the end of the trip. Ive always used my debit card so I can see each of my purchases on my phone every day and if I spend too much one day, I know to cut back the next." - Kim M in a comment

"If you are a lighter eater like me, don't hesitate to order off the kids' menu at counter service places. I've never been stopped and asked, "Is this actually for a child?"" -  Anna in a comment



And there you go!  Twelve tips from my lovely readers!  I tried to link back to their websites or Twitter accounts where possible.  Thanks so much, guys!  So what do you think of their tips?  Do you have any more?  Let me know in a comment, a tweet (@discollegeblog), or on Facebook!

Friday, June 11, 2010

Poor College Student Part 2: How to Save Money at Disney

On Wednesday, I wrote about different ways to make or save money at Disney Parks.  For college students, however, this is only half the battle.  Going to Disney can be extremely expensive if you don't know what you're doing, so I'd like to give a few suggestions on how to have a great trip and not break the bank.

1. Stay at a value resort or off property.  Where you'll be staying can be easily half your budget, so definitely do your research on which resort will be the cheapest.  On Walt Disney World property, these are the value resorts, and you can often find great deals in the surrounding area as well.  Keep in mind, however, that if you choose to stay off property, you will usually have to provide your own transportation.  This can be pricey and difficult if you're too young to rent a car.  Which brings me to point number two...

2. Use provided transportation if possible.  If you're staying on Disney property, use Disney's Magical Express as well as the other provided Disney transportation (for the values, you'll be using the bus system).  Yes, driving is usually faster, but Disney transportation is always free-er.  Some off property hotels may have complimentary transportation as well, but if they don't, weigh the price difference between staying on property and using Disney transportation and staying off property and renting a car (if you can).

3. Share meals.  Meal sizes at Disney are huge, and if you can agree with someone else in your party on what to eat, you should definitely consider sharing an entree or an entree with an appetizer/extra side.  Also consider having just an appetizer as a meal.  Budget conscious guests should avoid Signature Dining experiences, and if you're very budget conscious, you might want to avoid table service restaurants in general.  If you really want table service, though, consider going during lunch time.  Entrees are usually similar if not the same as dinner time, and the prices are lower!

4. Buy pins, Vinylmation, and other collectibles on eBay.  If you're a collector, it can get pricey.  One way to save on your collectibles is to buy them on eBay and then trade the ones you bought for the ones you want.  This can really save you a lot of money, but beware of fake merchandise.  Like I said in my previous post about pin trading, make sure you trust the seller.  Scouting with the Mouse recommends always checking the seller's reputation, and if you plan on buying a large number of pins from one seller, buy a small amount first to make sure that they're legitimate.

5. Crunch the numbers.  This is probably the most important piece of advice I can give you for saving money at Disney.  The minutes that it will take you to calculate the prices of different hotels on and off property, different deals, etc could save you hundreds of dollars.  If you're not great with numbers, get a travel agent to do the work for you.  That's what they're there for.  The worst possible thing you could do is book your trip with an offer that seems good and leave it.  There are multiple offers out at every given time, and you don't want to miss one.

And those are my five ways to save money at Disney.  What do you think of them?  What are your ways to save money?  Let me know in a comment, a tweet (@discollegeblog), or on Facebook!

This post is part of the sixth DisMarks.com Disney Blog Carnival. Click the link to see more great Disney articles!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Poor College Student: Ways to Find Money to Go to Disney

If you're in college like me, you've likely found that money seems to leave you much faster than it comes.  There are so many things to buy and so many things to do that cost money, but you may not be replenishing that money as quickly as you wish.  That's why I've come up with a few ways that college students (or anyone, I suppose) can make some extra Disney money, short of finding a yearlong job.

1. Get a summer job.  This might seem obvious, but it's one of the best ways to make extra money without making a long term commitment.  The job market is really tough right now, especially for people looking for part time, summer work, so I highly suggest looking for a job that is hiring specifically seasonal employees.  I know it's tempting to just not tell potential employers that you're leaving after the summer, but that's not exactly how you get yourself a good reputation.  Some summer jobs that I've had in the past include a small local amusement park, a summer camp, and an ice cream shop (where I'm currently working).  It's best to look for jobs like this because they can often offer you a lot of hours (and what else are you doing?), and they're hiring a lot of people at once, all for the summer.  Also, start looking as soon as possible for a summer job.  It can take a while for employers to get through all their applications, and they might have already filled their positions by the time they get to yours.

2. Cash in those coins.  This is one of my favorite ways to "make" extra money.  I have a bunch of coins lying around, and I go cash them in for "actual" money.  Or better, I put them in the bank, so they can gain interest.  You may be surprised how quickly a bunch of coins can add up.  I had a small box of coins that recently cashed in to almost $40.  Throw all your leftover change in a jar, and cash it in when it fills up.

3. Eat at home.  This one's a little painful for me because I love eating, well, not at home. But it's a great way to save money.  Make your own coffee before hitting up Starbucks or make a burger on your grill instead of going to McDonald's.  Of course everyone likes eating out once in a while, but you can also save money at a restaurant if you choose water instead of soda and don't have appetizers or dessert.  Now that I think of it, this one can also be better for your health...

And there you go.  Three possibly obvious but useful ways to get or save money as a college student.  Just don't go and blow all that money at the mall.  I find it helps to think about how every dollar I don't spend at the mall can be spent at Walt Disney World.  Maybe it wouldn't be a terrible idea to upgrade to a moderate...

How do you make or save up money for Disney?  I want to hear your suggestions!  (A college student could always use some more money!)  Let me know in a comment, a tweet (@discollegeblog), or on Facebook!

Monday, June 7, 2010

Late August: Is It Worth the Heat?

I went to Walt Disney World last August, and every day I looked like I do in this picture.  Yes, I did wear the ears every day, but that's not the point.  The point is, I wore a tank top.  Every single day.  Because it was way too hot to even consider a t-shirt.

I'm going back this August, so obviously I liked that time of year enough.  And I do love late August.  If you can get past the unbelievable heat and humidity, it's a great time to go for a multitude of reasons.  To me, it's definitely worth it.

First and foremost, it's value season.  There is a huge difference in price from August 15th to August 16th, so if you can move your dates around a little to fit it in value season, I would highly suggest it.  This is super important for us college students who are pretty much always running low on cash.

Second, there are tons of discounts offered at this time.  There is traditionally free dining, which I love, but I know that this offer's not for everyone.  The great thing is that it doesn't have to be.  Disney generally offers other amazing offers during this time of year because it's a hard time to get people in the parks.  Which brings me to point number three...

There aren't a ton of people.  Lots of schools go back during the middle of August, but if your school doesn't, it's a great time to go.  Crowds are generally low which can make an unbearable heat a little more bearable.  It also means less wait time and more ride time.

Since the heat is a lot to handle, I have a few suggestions for making the best of it.  First of all, get to the park at rope drop.  I can't stress this enough.  It stinks to wake up early, but it's worth it for what you get to do.  You can ride tons of rides in the morning, before it gets super hot.  Then you can leave the park during the hottest part of the day to take a refreshing swim or nap.  Then return in the evening, when it starts to cool down.  You avoid the times of the highest heat AND the highest crowds.  What's better than that?  Just be warned that especially during the summer, there tend to be quick but inconvenient downpours in the afternoon.  You may want a poncho.

What do you think about visiting Walt Disney World in late August?  What's your favorite time to visit?  Let me know in a comment, a tweet (@discollegeblog), or on Facebook!

Friday, June 4, 2010

#confessfriday: I Think 180 Days is Way Too Many

Last August, my family and I went to Walt Disney World and were told about a really great bounceback offer for January.  Stupidly, we turned it down.  This August, I'll be down at the World again with my boyfriend, and I am fully prepared to take a bounceback offer if it's available.  Only there's one problem: advanced dining reservations (ADRs).

You know when the 180 day window for dates in January starts?  July.  You know when rates for vacation packages in Walt Disney World traditionally come out?  August.  So Disney, you're telling me that you want me to book reservations for something as specific as restaurants when I can't even book my resort for another month?  Nice planning on that one.

It gets even more complicated with the whole bounceback thing.  Since I can't book the bounceback until I am actually on Walt Disney World property, I won't know if there are blackout dates for the offer.  So I won't know my exact travel dates.  Yet I am supposed to make dining reservations regardless.  Now I realize that for a trip January, you don't need to book most ADRs so far out, but if I wanted something like Cinderella's Royal Table, it may be booked by the time I get to August.  Plus, how am I supposed to know in July where I want to eat in January if I haven't even gotten to the World to try all the new restaurants that I have booked for August?

I really think Disney needs to rethink this 180 day thing (again).  When it was 90 days, I thought it was so much more reasonable.  I mean park hours aren't even available 180 days out!  If I want to eat dinner at the California Grill while watching Wishes, I won't know what time to book.  If I want to have dinner in Hollywood Studios when Fantasmic's showing, I won't even know which day to choose.  I can use historical information, but it might not be correct.  I mean, lots of people don't have trips, let alone meals planned at 180 days.  But I guess I'll be blindly booking some restaurants, just in case.

I hate to be so negative, but this is a real inconvenience to me.  It bothers me that I may lose out on a dining opportunity because the reservation window is so long.  Plus the whole thing just seems ridiculous.  Oh well, I guess whatever happens will happen.

What do you think about the 180 day ADR window?  Love it?  Hate it?  Indifferent?  Let me know in a comment, a tweet (@discollegeblog), or on Facebook!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Disney Transportation: Who Needs a Rental Car?

Image from hubsterdisney

A few weeks ago, I wrote a post about Disney's Magical Express and how it's an awesome way to get from Orlando International Airport to Walt Disney World if you're not old enough to (or for any other reason can't or don't want to) rent a car.  The next step if you don't have a rental car is getting around Walt Disney World.  That's where Disney Transportation comes in.  The main three types of complimentary Disney transportation are monorail, boat, and bus. 

The monorail is a basically a cool looking train that rides on one rail.  In Walt Disney World, the monorail runs to and from the Grand Floridian Resort, the Polynesian Resort, the Contemporary Resort, the Magic Kingdom, the Transportation and Ticket Center (TTC), and Epcot.  It is most commonly used as a way for people to get from the parking lot of the Magic Kingdom to the actual park, but since we don't have a car in this scenario, we'll ignore that use.  If you don't have a car, the monorail is best used as a quick way to hop back and forth from Magic Kingdom to Epcot, as well as an easy way to get to the three resorts mentioned above.  Even if you're not staying at one of these resorts, you can always stop buy for a nice dinner or a quick lunch to get away from the Magic Kingdom crowds.  The monorail is one of the easiest and quickest forms of Disney transportation.

Next is the boats.  Boats connect the Magic Kingdom to the Grand Floridian, the Polynesian, the Contemporary, the Wilderness Lodge, and Fort Wilderness; Epcot to the Beach and Yacht Clubs, the Boardwalk Inn, the Swan, and the Dolphin; and Downtown Disney to Port Orleans Riverside and French Quarter, Saratoga Springs, and Old Key West.  Additionally, you can choose to take a ferry from the TTC to the Magic Kingdom instead of the monorail, but we don't have a car, remember?  Boats aren't usually the fastest ways to get anywhere, but they do have the best atmosphere, in my opinion.

Finally, there are the buses, and if you're a college student staying in a value resort like I am, this is likely going to be your main form of Disney transportation.  The good thing about the Disney bus system is that you can get to almost anywhere via bus.  The bad thing is that you might have to be a little creative, and you better have lots of time to spare.  To get from one resort to another is going to require transfers, and that could take a lot of time.  In my experience, the bus system has been very good for the most part.  At All Star Music, I rarely had to wait more than ten minutes for a bus either way, and what they say about the All Stars sharing buses is very rarely true.  We almost always had our own buses.

The complimentary transportation makes Walt Disney World a great destination for people who don't want to or can't rent a car.  Plus, although they're not usually as fast as a car, all of the forms of transportation have a certain Disney atmosphere that a car doesn't have.  It's like you're fully immersed in the Disney experience, and it's pretty fun too!

What do you think about Disney transportation?  Do you like to use it, or do you tend to rent a car?  What's your favorite form of transportation, and what's your experience with the system been like?  Let me know in a comment, a tweet (@discollegeblog), or a Facebook comment!

This post is part of the fifth DisMarks.com Disney Blog Carnival. Click the link to see more great Disney articles!