Park Hopper Tickets: Worth it or not?

When we first visited Walt Disney World, we were diehard 1 park per day ticket people. Our kids were 3 and 8 years old our first time and it seemed logical not to push the kids from park to park each day. We did one park, were there at opening, took a break midday for naps and returned to the same park each night for fireworks or whatever. This is how we did it for the next 13 years. Do we need to pay the extra price for park hoppers? “No!” was our answer. We will do one park per day.

Then one day flights to Orlando were SUPER cheap. I mean $70 round trip FOR BOTH OF US. Who can pass that up? Not us. My husband and I decided on a kid free weekend and quickly booked a hotel. We were only going to be in the parks for 2 or 3 days and I found out that the new projection show started At Magic Kingdom while we were there. Here was my problem, I loved the old projection and wanted to see it one last time, but I also wanted to see the new projection show since we would be there. Solution – park hoppers!

We went to all 4 parks in one day. We went to Animal Kingdom just to ride Expedition Everest. I still wasn’t completely convinced and my next trip with my son we went back to our old one park per day tickets. My son didn’t know what he was missing, and it was SUPER hot that February, so we crashed midday and I didn’t miss not park hopping.

Our next two trips we had free dining and park hoppers. Let me tell you, that is the best of both worlds! We could hop from one park to another just to eat and ride a couple rides. It gave us the flexibility we didn’t know we were missing. On our last trip we were finished in Animal Kingdom by 9am thanks to Extra Magic Hours and headed back to the hotel for a quick break before our brunch reservation. Then spent the afternoon and evening at a different park.

We have decided that park hoppers are our go to ticket. Our kids are older and ready to bounce from park to park. Would I do it with smaller kids? I didn’t, but now I’m rethinking that decision. When my kids were tired of one park, we could have headed to another after the midday break.

One quick thing about park hopping to consider, if you are depending on Disney transportation to park hop, you can lose a lot of time waiting on the buses. (That’s true about the bus system even if you are only doing one park per day.) When we rented a car, it was easier and faster. Using the Skyliner from Epcot to Hollywood Studios works great for park hopping.

Next time you are trying to decide what type of ticket you want to buy for your next Disney World vacation consider these questions:

Does your family finish riding all the rides in a park and want to leave the park early and then are bored the rest of the day?

Do you want the flexibility to dine at any park on any day? This is a great alternative during Epcot’s Wine and Dine.

Does your family want to see any of the nighttime shows more than once? (I saw Happily Ever After at Magic Kingdom 3 times in one trip)

During your next trip, try out the park hoppers and see if they work for you and your family.

Quick note – At Disneyland, we ALWAYS get park hoppers. Disneyland and California Adventure are just across the promenade from each other and the fastpass systems are not linked, so we jump back and forth getting fastpasses and riding rides all day long.

 

Ride Opening Weekend Experience

You know when you plan a Disney trip, months in advance and it’s planned for “off season” so you expect low crowds? Ever had that change with one Disney announcement? I did!

My best friend asked me to join her for a trip to Disney World in early December. She had a conference and I would be tagging along just to have fun. She made the conference reservations and I made my flight reservations. Fastpasses were reserved and then BOOM!! Disney announces the opening day of Rise of the Resistance is during our trip.

I knew from my research that opening weekend of a ride can be bonkers and with a Star Wars ride, I expected it to be even worse. Opening day for Rise was the day we arrived in Orlando, so we missed that craziness, but knew the whole weekend would be busier than we originally expected.

If you haven’t read about the issues with Rise of the Resistance opening weekend, let me update you. The ride had problems. It went down A LOT. That’s actually something that is normal for a new ride. It’s not used to the volume of riders and there are going to be kinks in the system. Evidently, not everyone expected that. Disney cast members had people screaming at them because they couldn’t get on the ride. How do I know? I witnessed it. I felt really bad for both the cast members and the guests who had traveled to Disney World just to ride this new ride.

My friend and I got lucky. We had read about the issues and had been doing research on how the boarding groups worked and when they opened. The first couple of weeks, Disney was inconsistent with the opening of the boarding groups and the opening of the park. We decided to head to Hollywood Studios a couple nights before our planned morning in the park to ask questions. We headed straight for Galaxy’s Edge and stopped to talk with 2 cast members about 20 feet from the entrance.

We asked what time we needed to be at Hollywood Studios to get in a boarding group and how the process worked. The cast members told us 4am, YIKES! (That has changed. Disney is not opening boarding groups that early anymore.) We chatted some about the ride and as we stood talking with them a woman walked up to us with 3 tickets in her hand. She said she was leaving the next day and Rise of the Resistance went down while she was on it and wouldn’t be back up for the rest of the night. She then gave us the tickets saying she didn’t want them to go to waste. SCORE!! We thanked her profusely and then went to check how to use the tickets and if we would be able to use them the next day even though they had that day’s date on them. This is when we witnessed the fury of Star Wars fans. They were yelling at cast members in force. We nicely asked our questions and got out of the melee.

We were able to ride Rise of the Resistance the next day due to that woman’s generosity. We passed the 3rd ticket on to a man we saw rise 2visiting Hollywood Studios alone.

Our last day we did use the boarding group process to get on the ride. If you want to ride Rise of the Resistance be inside Hollywood Studios BEFORE official opening. This means leave your hotel AT LEAST an hour before official park opening or Extra Magic Hours. You must have been through the Hollywood Studios gate and your park ticket/magic band scanned to get a boarding group.

Lessons learned from this experience.

  1. Embrace the changes that come during your trip.
  2. DO NOT expect a new ride to work perfectly the first couple of weeks if not longer.
  3. Pass on someone’s generosity if you can.
  4. Also, something I knew, but can’t emphasis enough, do not yell at the cast members. They are doing their job and it’s not their fault the ride went down, or you didn’t get exactly what you wanted.

Don’t be afraid of a ride opening weekend, just be patient, keep a positive attitude and ask lots of questions of how the new ride process is going to work.

Pop Century Refurbished Rooms

Many families consider a particular Disney World Resort their “Home Resort”. My family has stayed in various hotels and we always come back to Pop Century and it has become our “Home”. Why do we choose Pop? First off, it’s the first hotel we stayed in on our first trip so we are a little sentimental. Second, we like the cost of a value hotel.

The biggest draw back at Pop for years had been that the rooms only had double beds. WELL NO MORE!! Pop Century is refurbishing their rooms and the double beds are being replaced by QUEEN BEDS! When you enter a two queen room you will see one queen bed and a table and chairs. This table is actually part of the murphy bed.

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Once you fold down the murphy bed, you have 2 queen beds!

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On each side of the beds are small nightstands with usb and regular outlets. There are also lights above each bed.

I love the flooring change! My mother has always harped on carpet cleanliness in hotels and it rubbed off on me. Now the rooms have a wood-like floor. I love not having to worry about having shoes or socks on when roaming around the room. It quiets that mom voice in my head.

Below the new BIGGER TV is another strip including usb and normal outlets and a dresser. Inside the doors of the dresser is a small safe. I love the number of outlets available. With 4 people trying to charge all their electronics/phones, the more outlets the better. I used to pack a power strip to make sure we had enough outlets. That is no longer needed.

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On the right of the dresser and tv area is a small shelf area with a refrigerator on the bottom. There is also a small coffee maker in the room as well.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2018-02-24 14.16.29One of the biggest improvements in the room is the bathroom. In the past the bathroom was separated from the main area by a curtain. Now, it’s a barn type door that you can slide into place so everyone can have some privacy.  They have also added more shelving to hold your bathroom items.

The bathroom area also includes a small closet and also the ironing board. Inside the brown doors you will find the iron and a blow dryer.

The toilet/shower area is separated from the sink area by another sliding door. The new shower/tub has glass doors which stops those ever present puddles that we had with the shower curtain. One downfall for those of us who loved to bring home the soaps and shampoos at the end of each trip is the new shower gel, shampoo and conditioner dispenser.

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The best part of the new bathroom is the new double shower head! My son wants the same shower head in our home bathroom. You can adjust it to use just one of the heads or both. It felt great after a day walking the parks.

Next time you want to save some money, but still enjoy the perks of staying on Disney World property, check out Pop Century.

Contact your AIOT Adventure Planner to book your next Disney trip!

Fish Extenders – A Disney Cruise Extra

Fish extender smallIf you do any research on a Disney Cruise odds are you will find mention of Fish Extenders or FE’s. What are these mysterious things that people are talking about? Fish extenders are pockets or bags hanging from the fish, seahorse or starfish that is located next to your door.

The Fish Extender gift exchange is all about fun! If you are cruising with kids, they will LOVE it. They will run to the room to see if there is something in the FE. Even adults enjoy it. The adults may not be running to the room, but we are always excited to see what is in our pocket.

Fish extenders take many shapes and forms. A fish extender can be as simple as a bag hanging from the fish. If you would like to order a special personalized one, check into etsy.com or ebay.com.  If you are able to sew you can also make one yourself. Here are a couple patterns that you can use.

http://www.alittleboltoflife.com/2013/01/fish-extender-tutorial.html

http://www.kraftingkreations.com/2012/05/fish-extender-tutorial.html

Now you are probably asking why? Fish extenders are used for fish extender gift exchanges.

In order to sign up for the gift exchange on your cruise you will need to search facebook for the FE exchange group.  You will search using the ship name and the dates of your cruise. You can also check out this website for links to the facebook group for a 2017 cruise: https://sites.google.com/site/fefunforall/home/2017

Once you find and join the FE exchange group for your cruise, you will need to give the coordinator the names of everyone in your party and your room numbers. If you are in more than one room, sign up every room and list the guest in each room so everyone receives their gifts in their respective rooms. There will need to be a fish extender at each room participating in the exchange.

You will need to sign up for the FE exchange in order to receive gifts. There have been instances of cruisers putting up their fish extender and distributing gifts to others. Unfortunately, they did not sign up for an exchange and did not receive any gifts.

Once sign-ups have been ended, the coordinator will give you a list of people and staterooms that are in the Fish Extender exchange. Gifts can be put together for the entire family or for each person individually. It is at your discretion. If you are signing up for the exchange, plan to give out gifts at least once during the cruise. If you cannot give gifts, do not sign up for the exchange.

Gifts can be purchased or made. If you need ideas for Fish Extender gifts, just check out Pintrest or a simple google search will bring up tons of ideas. Some people bring an item from their state or the country they live in. We have received magnets, bookmarks, small photo albums, photo frames, candy, lanyards, sand toys, stickers and other great things. Most people stick to the Disney theme, but it is not required.

You are not required to spend a certain amount or limit the amount that you spend. It is at your own discretion. Remember that whatever gifts you choose to give must be packed in your luggage and brought on the ship. There will be plenty of gifts to take home as well.

One last thing, be sure to zip tie your fish extender to your fish. It doesn’t happen often, but a fish extender does disappear from time to time.

Have fun!