Trip Coach: September 20, 2005
"Disney Dweebs" David Koening and Jim Hill answer your Disney questions
David Koening: Most, but not all, of the really close hotels offer free shuttle service. Make sure you confirm this, however, when you make reservations with an individual hotel.
East Harwich, MA: We're planning to take the grandkids (ages 2-7) to Disney World over Thanksgiving 2006. I know Disney goes into their Christmas theme that weekend, but I've heard there is a special Invitation Only kind of event in the evening. How do we get tickets?
Jim Hill:: There's actually a couple of these. The candlelight procession (which is held over at Epcot) as well as Mickey's Very Merry Christmas party. Of these two, Mickey's is the more exclusive event. Which (if you really want to attend) is why I suggest that you contact WDW guest relations ASAP and inquire about tickets.
severna park, md: It appears that to stay at a disney property, there is not a discount available, the way there is with off site lodgings. Can you offer any suggestions about how to get a "deal" on site?
David Koening: Disney doesn't like to offer discounts--or at least loudly advertise the fact. You can get a good price by buying a package deal through AAA, or percentage off rooms if you buy an annual pass (but annual passes are only a good deal if you plan on visiting the parks more than 10 times over a 12-month period).
Better discounts can be had at the on-site hotels owned and operated by other companies--the Swan, Dolphin and Hotel Plaza hotels (Courtyard, Grosvenor, Best Western, Doubletree, Royal Plaza, Buena Vista Palace). Several of these also participate in Priceline.com.
But my best tip of all: Rent "points" to stay at one of the incredible Disney Vacation Club resorts (Beach Club, Boardwalk, Wilderness Lodge, Saratoga Springs, or Old Key West). They're larger than standard hotel rooms, some have separate kitchens, dining rooms, living rooms, and even laundry rooms. In addition to selling use in them as part of the DVC point-based timeshare, Disney also rents the rooms out--but at outrageous prices ($700 or so a night for a 1-bedroom, depending on the season). But Disney also allows individual members to rent their points out and book rooms for others, so--depending on time of year and day of week--you can get rooms for under $100 a night. There are a few "DVC point rental" boards out there, such as on www.disboards.com to find someone who wants to rent their points (average price is $10 per point). It takes time, patience and trust, but you'll stay at huge, incredible accommodations, in the heart of the World, for a sharply discounted price.
Sheldon, Iowa: Disney Dweebs,
We are considering a trip to Disney World the first part (5th-10th) of August 2006. We would like to fly and stay on Disney campus. Can you tell us the secret to taking a family of 6 (kids ages, 16, 13, 11 and 7) and staying on property without spending hundreds of dollars per night? I'm told to expect to pay over $600 per night (that was the cheapest) if we are all together. Another option is to get two rooms and divide. What would be the cheapest option and where? Surely there are many families like mine that are faced with this obsticle.
Any insight would be appreciated!
Jim Hill: With a group your size, I might suggest renting one of the cabins over at Fort Wilderness. Admittedly, this resort is kind of remote and transportation can also be a hassle. But -- on the other hand -- you'll be able to fit the whole family into one unit. More to the point, there are lots of kid-friendly activities to be found at Fort Wilderness. So why not give that WDW resort some thought?
Millbrae, CA: We are having a family reunion at Disneyland this October. We will have five kids between the ages of 9 months and 7 years old. Are Fast Passes still available? What about "Stroller" passes for parents who need to take turns watching children? What is the best way to take advantage of the full benefits of these services?
What is the best pricing combo for multiple day passes up to 3 or 4 days? We will staying in a local home.
Jim Hill: Yes, FastPasses are still available. Though the Walt Disney Company seems to have lost a lot of its initial enthusiasm for this virtual queuing system. As for "Stroller" passes ... I think what you're referring to is the Child Swap. Which allows parents dealing with small kids a way to more efficiently move through the lines, deal with waiting, etc. Check with DL Guest Relations for the exact procedure, okay?