Walt Disney World

New Stroller Policy for Walt Disney World

minnie-mouse-stroller-disney

Beginning May 1, Disney is adjusting its guidelines on stroller sizes, which will require them to be no larger than 31" (79cm) wide and 52" (132cm) long or smaller. many of the strollers on the market, including many double jogging strollers, fit within these size guidelines.

Also, just a reminder that wagons are not permitted in our parks. Beginning May 1, stroller wagons will also no longer be permitted.

These updates are designed to help guest flow and ease congestion, making the parks more enjoyable for everyone.

TIP: The smaller your stroller, the easier it is to navigate and maneuver the parks. Jogging strollers are sometimes too big for some areas and for Disney transportation. Go small if possible!

Check my partner, Buena Vista Rentals for Stroller rental discounts

By Darren Wittko

Disney Increases Price for Travel Protection

Starting Aug. 29, 2018, Walt Disney Travel Company will be charging for every traveler, regardless of age, who would like to purchase the Travel Protection Plan.  Plan costs are as follows: 

Walt Disney Travel Company Logo
  • $5.50 per child (17 and under)
  • $5.00 per child (17 and under)
  • $6.00 per child (17 and under)
  • $77.50 per adult
  • $70.50 per adult
  • $88.50 per adult

Pricing above will be assessed for new and existing reservations that add travel protection on the basis of person’s age at check-in. Existing reservations that have travel protection can be modified with no impact to the travel protection pricing unless a child is added to the existing reservation as of Aug. 29, 2018.

Darren specializes in Walt Disney World travel

Get Started on 2019 Walt Disney World Reservations Now

cinderella_castle

Earlier I shared with you that 2019 Walt Disney Travel Company Packages for Walt Disney World Resort will become available on June 19, 2018. I anticipate this to be a very busy day here. If you'd like to begin the process early, you can send me your information in advance by using my Online Quote Request Form. This will allow me to prepare a quote for you faster on June 19. 

Also, special offers may be available for select dates in January and February 2019. Be sure to check the Offers Page for updates. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me. 

 

Walt Disney Travel Co. Packages Available June 19, 2018

walt_disney_travel_company_logo

Today the Walt Disney Travel Co. announced that 2019 pricing will be available for packages and room-only reservations for the Walt Disney World Resort in Florida on June 19, 2018. Magical Vacations Travel customers can expect that Agency-Exclusive offers should be available by fall 2018.

You can view all current offers on the Resort Offers Page

Darren W. specializes in Disney Destinations

New Disney World App Coming This Summer

All-New Play Disney Parks App Coming to Disneyland Resort and Walt Disney World Resort This Summer

All-New Play Disney Parks App Coming to Disneyland Resort and Walt Disney World Resort This Summer

This summer you can soon explore Walt Disney World Resort in a whole new way using the all-new Play Disney Parks app! This soon-to-launch mobile app to access exclusive experiences at Walt Disney World through activities that interact with the surrounding environment. The app will be free to download.

Darren W. Specializes in Walt Disney World Resort

Disney World Imposes Nightly Parking Fee at Resorts

Disney World guests will now pay for overnight parking at Disney-owned hotels. 

Disney World guests will now pay for overnight parking at Disney-owned hotels. 

UPDATE: Parking Rates Can be found here

Guests staying at Walt Disney World Resort hotels will now have to pay a nightly parking fee. Effective for reservations made March 21, 2018, and thereafter, standard overnight self-parking will no longer be free. The parking fee will be applied to the guest's hotel folio upon check-out. 

Disney has not yet released the nightly parking rates. Stay tuned for more information. 

Darren specializes in Disney Destinations. 

Beware of Gift Card Scams

Image courtesy: milestomemories.boardingarea.com

Image courtesy: milestomemories.boardingarea.com

By Darren Wittko

Last summer I planned a Disney Cruise for my family. I purchased several gift cards at BJ’s Wholesale Club and saved about 5% on $3,000 worth of gift cards - close to $150. Not a big savings all things considered but still it seemed worth it at the time. A few days later I went to apply payment to our reservation and discovered that six of the gift cards, each with $100 on them, had a zero balance. I immediately went back to BJ’s figuring they hadn’t been activated properly. After a lot of arguing with the store manager, and later Disney, it was determined my cards had already been redeemed - I was scammed! So how did this happen? 

There have been numerous scams reported with gift cards, not just with Disney, and according to the FBI, scams are on the rise and getting more sophisticated.

As a Disney travel planner, I've had 2 clients who were scammed as well. It’s a nightmare to solve the problem and there’s no guarantee you’ll get your funds back. In my case, it took multiple phone calls, visits to the store, making photocopies and writing letters and eventually I was able to get some of the funds back through an insurance claim.  But it took several weeks for this to happen. 

 

The More Simple Scam

Sammers can replace the security code with products easily found online. 

Sammers can replace the security code with products easily found online. 

There are numerous scams the fraudsters use to gain gift card numbers, many are pretty high tech. But the most simplest method is just taking the cards off the rack in the store. These are the cards that are accessible to everyone. The scammer writes down the gift card numbers, and scratches off the security strip on the back of the cards to get the security codes. 

He then puts replacement strips over the security codes and then sneaks them back into the store. Replacement strips are available online from sites like Ebay.

Later, after you buy one of those cards and load money onto it, the hacker gets an instant alert that tells him that the funds have been loaded onto the card. According to the FBI, the scammer knows as soon as someone activates the card, because they use automated software that periodically checks the card balance via the internet, this is called pinging. Or if he’s a low tech thief, he just checks the gift card website everyday until he sees funds have been added.

What does the scammer do with the gift card numbers? He can sell the cards to companies who purchase gift cards for a reduced rate, such as cardpool.com and raise.com. For example, one company might offer $75 on a $100 gift card. But to the scammer, that's an easy profit of $75. Or the scammer may launder the money through online classified sites like Craigslist for legitimate products they purchased from the Disney Store

 

How to Protect Yourself

  • Buy gift cards online directly from the retailer. Criminals don't have easy access to those cards. Buy online especially if you're purchasing a high-value gift card.

 

  • Don't buy in-store racked cards with easily accessible numbers and PINs. If you buy in a retail store, look for gift cards kept behind the counter or in well-sealed packaging.

 

  • If possible, change the security code as soon as you buy the card. Register the card when you get home, change the PIN, and educate the recipient about what you did and why he or she should not delay in using the card.

 

  • If you are purchasing numerous gift cards, consolidate them down to one card as soon as possible. With Disney Gift Cards, you can transfer as much as $1,000 onto one card. And be sure to redeem that card as soon as possible!

Darren Wittko specializes in Disney Destinations

Details Emerge on Skyliner Stations and Gondolas

Earlier this year, I shared the news the Disney Skyliner transportation system will give resort Guests an unforgettable journey and a picturesque view of Walt Disney World Resort as they take to the sky to travel from select Disney resorts to Epcot and Disney’s Hollywood Studios

Proposed Disney Skyliner coming to Walt Disney World Resort

Proposed Disney Skyliner coming to Walt Disney World Resort

Select Disney Skyliner cabins will have iconic Disney characters incorporated into their exterior design to give the appearance that a Disney character is riding along with guests, such as characters from the ‘Fab Five,’ figures from Disney attractions, fan favorites from movies, and more.

The design of the Disney Skyliner station at International Gateway at Epcot will be inspired by the park’s nearby European Pavilions, and will be covered with metal and glass canopies, hand-painted murals and ornamental steel structures that harken back to the early 18th century Art Nouveau style. Guests traveling to Epcot via the Disney Skyliner will be welcomed to the park with a rare birds-eye view of World Showcase.

The Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort station will be the hub of activity for Disney Skyliner. This station is inspired by the open air village marketplaces of the Caribbean and will showcase the nearby resort’s architectural detailing and color schemes. At this station, passengers will be able to transfer gondola routes to reach their destination, or are invited to sit and admire the waterfront resort setting.

The design style of the station at Disney’s Hollywood Studios will fit with that of the park’s main entrance and bus stations. Passengers traveling here from the Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort station can expect a new aerial perspective of the park’s iconic attractions, like The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror.

Disney’s Pop Century Resort and Disney’s Art of Animation Resort will share a Disney Skyliner station that feels whimsical and contextual with both resorts. Upon departing the gondola station, Skyliner passengers will ascend over Hourglass Lake and enjoy a panoramic view of these two colorful resorts. 

Finally, cabins will slow down at the Disney Skyliner turn-station along Buena Vista Drive, where guests can see the mechanical and aerial components that make up the Disney Skyliner.

Darren Wittko Specializes in Disney Destinations

Now available – Minnie Van service at Walt Disney World Resort

Walt Disney World Minnie Van Service Begins

Walt Disney World Resort just launched a new transportation pilot called Minnie Van service. Announced earlier this month at D23 Expo 2017, this new transportation service is now available for guests staying at Disney’s BoardWalk Resort and Disney’s Yacht & Beach Club Resorts.

Through a collaboration with Lyft, guests at these resorts can arrange their own private Disney vehicle right from the Lyft app on their smartphone. With Minnie Van service, Disney cast members will then whisk you away to wherever you want to be at Walt Disney World Resort. This service accommodates up to six guests and provides two versatile car seats so even the tiniest of passengers can travel in style!

Minnie Van service will be available between 6:30 a.m. and 12:30 a.m. (subject to change). Guests staying at Disney’s BoardWalk Resort and Disney’s Yacht & Beach Club Resorts can learn more by visiting their Bell Services desk.

By Darren Wittko, Specializing in Disney Destinations

Annual Passholder Offer for Express Transportation

Express Transportation | Walt Disney World 

Express Transportation | Walt Disney World 

Now you can breeze between all 4 theme parks with fast, nonstop service that drops you inside the main gates—and closer to the magic—so you can start playing right away.

If you have tickets with the Park Hopper Option (or a Walt Disney World annual pass), adding Express Transportation is a great way to pack even more fun into your day. We’ll take you directly to the drop-off location inside the theme park you want to visit next—with no waiting to reenter at the gate.

No matter which theme park you’re in, when you’re ready to enjoy any of the others, just make your way to our Express Transportation check-in location, where a Cast Member will escort you to your vehicle.

Express Transportation service:

departs approximately every 30 minutes.
is available each day from 10:00 AM until park closing.*
travels directly between each of the theme parks—with no other stops along the way.
lets you off inside the main gate, so you’re in the middle of fun from the moment you arrive!
gives you unlimited transfers between all 4 theme parks—for as long as your Express Transportation ticket is valid.

 

By Darren Wittko, Disney Destinations Specialist

2018 Walt Disney World Packages

Today I'm pleased to share with you that the Walt Disney World Resort has announced a release date for 2018 rates and packages: June 20, 2017.

2018 Rates

Walt Disney World

Rates Available on June 20, 2017

2018 Walt Disney Travel Company packages can be booked for arrivals January 1, 2018 through December 31, 2018. 

Historically speaking, the Magical Vacations Travel Exclusive Offers typically become available in the fall so we will not have information on "magical deals" at this time.

>> View a special 2018 Magic Your Way Package Offer from Darren - Magical Vacations Travel

 

By Darren Wittko, Voted a Best of the Best Disney Travel Agent Since 2015. 

 

Walt Disney World Reservation System Outage - Will Be Longer Than Expected

The Walt Disney World Resort announced on Wednesday, June 7, 2017 that bookings would not be possible beginning on Friday, June 9 at 2 a.m. and lasting through the most of the day. This outage prevented potential guests from making a new resort reservation online or by calling Central Reservations and Group Reservations. 


The Walt Disney World booking system and consumer website have been offline for over 24 hrs. 

The Walt Disney World booking system and consumer website have been offline for over 24 hrs. 


It is now expected that this outage will last into Saturday as well. The website, disneyworld.com has a banner message notifying guests of the outage and that they are working quickly to resolve the problem. 

Some rumors have begun to circulate that Disney is uploading the 2018 packages and pricing to this system as this is typically when rates are made public for the upcoming year. 

Stay tuned to Save At Walt Disney World and our social media pages for updates on the outage and 2018 Walt Disney World Packages. 

 

Orlando Sentinel's Article on WDW Cable-Cars is Misleading.

In an article on April 18, 2017, the Orlando Sentinel confirmed a rumor that a new transportation system is coming to Walt Disney World. According to the article, the Orlando Sentinel obtained permits filed with Reedy Creek Improvement district that showing that Disney's Hollywood Studios, Epcot, Pop Century Resort, Art of Animation Resort, and Caribbean Beach Resort will be linked by a gondola/cable-car. Disney has not released a statement confirming the project. 

The problem, however, is that the Orlando Sentinel's article is misleading. It suggests that it will be a gondola type system, with pods suspended from a cable but the article uses the terms, "gondola," "cable-car," and "tramway" interchangeably. These are all very different.

In short, a gondola is an enclosed cabin suspended by a wire - similar to a ski lift. A cable car is a car on tracks (similar to a train) and is propelled by grabbing hold of a moving wire. It has no motor of its own. Cable-cars are capable of climbing steeper grades than trains and monorails - like the San Francisco cable cars.

Finally, a "tramway" just refers to the tracks, or line, that cable car rides on.

We can assume that Disney is working on some kind of mass transportation system but without having full details, the Orlando Sentinel should not assume that this will be a gondola suspended from high above.  

By Darren Wittko, Specializing in Disney Destinations

Express Bus Service Change - Walt Disney World

Express Transport Change

Express Transportation service will have a change in operating hours on Sunday, April 23, 2017, with service beginning at 1:00 PM and concluding at park closing. Normal operating hours will resume Monday, April 24, 2017. We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause.

If you have tickets with the Park Hopper Option (or a Walt Disney World annual pass), adding Express Transportation is a great way to park hop without having to pass through security each time. Disney will take you directly to the drop-off location inside the theme park you want to visit next—with no waiting to reenter at the gate. This is a great option, especially with the new airport-style security system in place at each Theme Park. 

Related

How Express Transportation Works at Walt Disney World

By Darren Wittko, Specializing in Disney Destinations

Is This New Disney Dining Plan Worth the Cost?

Today Disney announced a new 1-Day Magic Kingdom quick service Dining Plan, known officially as Dine-On-The-Go. Starting Jan. 12 through Feb. 22, 2017, guests can purchase a Disney Dine-on-the-Go one-day, quick-service offering that includes:

  • 1 lunch quick-service entrée and one non-alcoholic beverage that’s good until 4 p.m.
  • 1 dinner quick-service entrée and one non-alcoholic beverage that’s good after 4 p.m. (Dessert is not included).

Participating Restaurants

Casey’s Corner

Columbia Harbour House

Cosmic Ray’s Starlight Café

Pecos Bill Tall Tale Inn and Cafe

Pinocchio Village Haus

The price is $29 for adults and $12 for ages 3-9Disney Dine-on-the-Go is available only at Magic Kingdom Park Vacation Planning booths

Is Dine-On-The-Go Worth the Cost?

In my article on Quick Service Dining, I share a few restaurants where you can maximize your Quick Service meal entitlements so that you either break even or come out ahead. The same logic applies to Dine-On-The-Go. Here's one way to look at this: At $29 per adult, you'd have to spend about $14.50 at lunch and another $14.50 at dinner on a Quick Service Meal to break even on the $29 cost. But are there Quick Service meals that cost $15 at Magic Kingdom? You bet! Be Our Guest Restaurant in particular but it's excluded from the Plan. Columbia Harbour House and Pecos Bill all have meals on or close to $15 on the menu. Still, at $15 you're only breaking even. Meals include an entree and a non-alcoholic beverage and Dine-On-The-Go omits dessert, as do the other dining plans. 

Bottom Line

At best you'll probably break even with Dine-On-The-Go except you'll have to wait in line to purchase it and have restricted as to when you can use it: Lunch before 4 p.m. and dinner after 4 p.m. Suppose the menu item you want is $10, now you've lost money. If Be Our Guest Restaurant breakfast and lunch were included with Dine-On-The-Go, then it would be an obvious choice. 

Related:

Is the Disney Quick Service Dining Plan Worth the Cost?

Is the Disney Dining Plan Worth the Cost

Is the Disney Deluxe Dining Plan Worth the Cost?

Darren Wittko - Specializes in Disney Destinations with Magical Vacations Travel. He is rated a "Best of the Best" Disney Travel Agent by readers of the Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World

Disney Vacation Experiences Wins Reader's Choice Award

Disney Travel Wins Reader's Choice Award

Travel Weekly recently unveiled its winners for the trade publication’s latest Readers Choice Awards and we’re honored to have made the list – not once, not twice, but three times!

Readers named Adventures by Disney as the best tour operator in the “adventure” category, Disney Cruise Line as the best “family experience” cruise line and Walt Disney World Resort as the best “theme park.”

The winners, ranging from hotels to tour operators and airlines to cruise lines in a total of 78 categories, represent the finest in travel and we couldn’t be more honored to be among them.

Darren Wittko - Specializes in Disney Destinations with Magical Vacations Travel. He is rated a "Best of the Best" Disney Travel Agent by readers of the Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World

Enjoy These New Epcot Experiences - Festival of the Arts

Over the six weekends of the festival, beginning Jan. 13, 2017 at Walt Disney World Resort, you can sign up for interactive workshops like the Gesture Drawing Class, led by former Disney animator Todd Bright. Gesture drawing of people is foundational practice for animators, storyboard artists, and directors. A single drawing tells a story. Todd’s Story Telling Drawings class will teach you the art of quick sketching from life. 

Other select workshops include watercolor painting, mixed media art, calligraphy and floral arrangements. The Interactive Workshops are $39+tax each Friday-Monday of the Festival.

Also available are meal and performance combos: a breakfast, lunch or dinner, followed by a Disney on Broadway inspired concert – nightly during the Festival from Jan. 13 – Feb. 20, 2017. 

The concert series will pair Broadway talent with favorite songs from award-winning Disney shows such as “The Lion King,” “Newsies” and “Aladdin”. The Dining package includes a three-course meal or full buffet and priority seating at the 8:00 p.m. concert at participating Epcot restaurants. Prices range from $39-$69+ tax for adults, $23-$41+tax for children.

The festival runs Fridays through Mondays starting Jan. 13–Feb. 20, 2017.

Book one of these select experiences by calling 407-WDW-PLAY

 

Darren Wittko - Specializes in Disney Destinations with Magical Vacations Travel. He is rated a "Best of the Best" Disney Travel Agent by readers of the Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World