Disney's New Restaurant Policy Is Hard to Stomach

By Brad Tuttle
October 3, 2012

Walt Disney World guests will have to pay a fee if they make restaurant reservations and fail to show up.

As of October 26, the reservation policies at many of Walt Disney World's best restaurants are changing. A credit card number will be required for a reservation to be accepted, and if guests want to cancel the reservation, they must do so 24 hours in advance. If a party is a "no-show," or if the guest doesn't cancel in time, the card will be charged $10—per person. Yes, instead of a flat $10 per "no-show," Disney will charge $10 for each person in the party.

Reservation for six? You'll be charged $60 for failing to show up or cancel on time. This may well mean guests could wind up hungry and angry.

The Disney insider site WDWMagic reports that the policy will be in place at 19 Disney restaurants. Generally speaking, the restaurants with the new policy are the nicer, fine-dining type establishments. One example is the Contemporary Resort restaurant Chef Mickey's, which offers this head's up:

Cancellation Policy Updates, Begin October 26, 2011

To ensure consistent Guest service, a one-day cancellation policy will apply to new reservations at this dining venue beginning October 26, 2011. If a Guest cancels within one day of the reservation or if the dining party is a "no show" for the meal, a cancellation fee of $10 per person will be charged to the credit card used at the time of booking.

It goes without saying: If you make a dinner reservation at Disney, it's best to actually use it.


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Are You Going To Or Avoiding London 2012?

Whether you want to attend the London 2012 Olympic Games or not, Britain wants you to know there are plenty of reasons for everyone to hop the pond next year. The U.K. is starting to ramp up its promotional efforts in the lead-up to an action-packed lineup of events next year that will put London center stage on the world map, including the Queen's Diamond Jubilee (June 2-5), the London 2012 Olympics (July 17-Aug 12) and the Paralympics (Aug 29-Sept 9). Despite the buzz the Olympics generates, they often tend to deter regular leisure and business travelers, turned off by the hubbub and ballyhoo surrounding the event. But, "Britain is open 365 days a year and the Olympics is only 40 days and it’s only in London,” said Christopher Rodrigues, chairman of VisitBritain, the country's tourism marketing organization. In line with that message, a new marketing campaign called 'Great' was unveiled by Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron last week in New York intended to showcase the many different aspects of the country's allure, including such highlights as shopping, music, heritage, sports, the countryside, business and creativity. "The noise about Britain as a destination is going to be greater than you have seen for many, many years," said Rodrigues. While Britain is “not offering $449, three nights in Cancun,” noted Rodrigues, there will be affordable travel options to and through the country next year despite the perception that the U.K. is expensive. For instance, he said that there has been a growth in the number of quality three-star properties around the country. And for those who want to get in on the Olympics fervor, "I believe there will be rooms available," advised Rodrigues. And, "there are still packages available including the tickets." He also noted that people who want to go to the Olympics and are having trouble finding accommodation should look into areas from which it is relatively easy to commute into London, such as Oxford. And if Olympics fans can't get tickets to any of the events, he recommended opting for an event that is open to the public, such as the marathon race, or heading to other parts of the country where the games will be aired on big screens. Far Hills, N.J.-based CoSport is the official reseller of Olympic and Paralympic tickets for the U.S. market. What about you BT readers? Are you hoping to head to the Games, or are you avoiding Britain next year at all costs? Let us know by commenting below. More from Budget Travel: How to Score Tickets to the 2012 Summer Olympics And the winner of the 2018 Winter Olympics is... South Korea London still welcoming tourists amid riots


Last-minute Labor Day deals

With airfare and hotel costs skyrocketing, the already-daunting summer travel season probably seemed even more out of reach this year. According to Bing.com, the average price of domestic air tickets has jumped about 16% in the last year (from $485 to $561), and hotel rates have gone up about seven percent (from $227 to $242). But there's good news: Great deals still exist, even if it takes a little more dedication to track them down. If sticker shock has kept you homebound this summer, we'll help you plan a budget-friendly getaway before the season's end. SEE MORE REAL DEALS FUN IN THE ORLANDO SUN FOR THE KIDS Orlando, From $99/Night The Deal Omni Orlando Resort at ChampionsGate is celebrating the dog days of summer with rates of $99 a night—reflecting a discount of up to 38% off normal prices—and the last days of its Weekend Splash Parties, featuring poolside tunes and movie screenings, scavenger hunts, and sidewalk chalk. The 15-acre resort is both kid- and grown-up-friendly, with two championship golf courses, a European spa, and an 850-foot lazy river. Plus, you can snag complimentary shuttle service to all Disney World parks. Price is per room. Gateways A recent search on Kayak.com showed great flight deals to Orlando: $177 from Philadelphia on Delta, $211 from Detroit on Spirit, $222 from Phoenix on Delta, $241 from Chicago on US Airways, and $335 from Denver on AirTran. When Through Sept. 5 Contact Omni Hotels, 407/390-6664, omnihotels.com OUTDOORSY IDAHO FOR DAD Idaho, 3 Nights, $385 The Deal Spend the weekend right on the river that boasts the best steelhead fishing in the West—early September marks the beginning of peak steelhead harvest season. You'll get three nights in a river view room with two queen beds at the Best Western Plus Lodge at River's Edge on the Clearwater River in Orofino, Idaho; a $75 gift card for dinner at Dining on the Edge, a restaurant featuring fresh local fare; a guided fishing trip for one adult and one child; daily breakfast; parking; and taxes. The price is per room, and accommodates a family of four. The AAA Three-Diamond hotel is located on the Lewis & Clark Trail—rooms feature decks that allow you to take in the expansive views, and there's an indoor pool as well as a hot tub. Gateways A recent search on Kayak.com showed great flight deals to Lewiston, Idaho: $198 from Seattle on Alaska Airlines, and on Delta, $288 from Los Angeles, $325 from Houston, $335 from New Orleans, and $451 from Boston. Lewiston Nez-Perce, the nearest airport, is about an hour's drive away from the hotel (virtually a straight shot on Interstate 12), and you can rent a car for the weekend for as low as $24 per day, including taxes. When Through Sept. 5 Contact Best Western, 208/476-9999 NORTHERN CALIFORNIA WINE ESCAPE FOR MOM Northern California, Air/Car/2 Nights, From $599 The Deal Santa Rosa's Flamingo Conference Center and Spa—a AAA Three-Diamond resort complete with 20,000-square-foot health club and spa and two Olympic-size pools—is your home base for a weekend trip that includes a car rental, so you can explore the towns of California wine country, including Sonoma, Napa, Calistoga, and Healdsburg. The price covers airfare from Chicago, two nights' accommodations, and a three-day car rental with unlimited miles, plus daily breakfast and parking. Price is per person. Gateway Chicago When Depart Sept. 2 Contact Gate 1, 800/682-3333, gate1travel.com BERMUDA ADVENTURE FOR THE WHOLE FAMILY Bermuda Cruise, 5 Nights, $699 The Deal A five-night cruise to Bermuda's King's Wharf on Royal Caribbean's 989-foot Enchantment of the Seas, sailing round-trip from Baltimore. The ship has something for everyone: for the kids, an interactive fountain made for splashing; for teens, a rock wall, bungee trampolines, and a lounge with games, TVs, and dancing; for the adults, an open-air shopping arcade, putting greens, and a champagne bar; and for everyone, the solarium, with a retractable roof over one of three pools onboard. You'll dock for two nights in King's Wharf, Aruba—from there, explore the island's pink sand beaches, boutiques, and markets, or take advantage of a shore excursion offered through the cruise line, like a glass-bottom boat tour (from $49). Price is per person. Gateway Baltimore When Departs Sept. 3 Contact Royal Caribbean, 866/562-7625, royalcaribbean.com LONDON CITY BREAK FOR A LITTLE ROMANCE London, Air/6 Nights From $1,089 The Deal Jet across the Atlantic for an escape to central London—where events such as The Thames Festival, celebrating the city's arts community, and the 2011 season of the Open Air Theatre in Regent's Park are in full swing. Roundtrip airfare from New York and six nights at London's Central Park Hotel, just across the street from Hyde Park. Price is per person, and does not include approximately $206 in airport taxes. When Departs Labor Day (Sept. 5) Gateway New York Contact Virgin Vacations, 888/937-8474, virgin-vacations.com CARIBBEAN BEACH FOR A MULTIGENERATIONAL GETAWAY Aruba, Air/7 Nights, From $829 The Deal Why not spend the last days of summer lounging on a white-sand beach? This package includes air from Baltimore and seven nights at the Tropicana Aruba Resort & Casino, on Eagle Beach in the town of Noord. The beachfront hotel features a swim-up bar and a 150-foot waterslide. Aruba is one of the ABC islands (along with Bonaire and Curaçao), which don't face significant hurricane threats, so it's a good Caribbean vacation spot in the off-season. Price is per person. Gateway Baltimore When Depart Sept. 2 Contact Apple Vacations, 800/517-2000, applevacations.com SEE MORE FROM BUDGET TRAVEL: The End of Summer is Nigh, But Isn't Fall Travel Better Anyway? One-Tank Escapes for Seven Cities Poll: Are quick trips abroad worth the travel time?


Electric bike rentals smooth out sightseeing

When it comes to sightseeing, it's hard to beat riding from place to place by bicycle. Add a quiet, battery-powered motor to a bicycle, however, and you can make the experience that much better. Who doesn't want to pedal without breaking a sweat while on vacation? Riding a so-called "e-bike" feels like having a fairy godmother give you a little push from behind. The extra boost helps you cope with traffic and overtake hills with ease. Unlike a scooter, an e-bike has no noisy motor or smelly exhaust fumes. Few Americans have ridden the battery-assisted bikes in the U.S., where they average about $1,500. Yet Americans traveling abroad are increasingly test-riding the two-wheelers, as some rental companies make them available by the day at popular destinations. Last month in London, Hertz began renting electric bikes for £19 ($30.50) a day from its Marble Arch location. You rent the e-bike as if it were a vehicle, booking it through the Hertz website and standing in the same line as other customers. You pick up a bike, helmet, lock, and city map. Hertz sells two types of bikes: One type still expects you to pedal, matching your effort with a boost from its motor. The other type of bike doesn't require you to pedal, allowing you to use a throttle to power the two-wheeler instead. Both types of bicycle are powered by lithium-ion batteries (similar to the ones used in many laptops). Company employees charge the batteries at night, plugging them into standard electric sockets. In this way, the batteries still slurp up juice from the grid, so they're not quite as environmentally friendly as one might first think. Earlier this week in England's Lake District National Park, about 50 electric bikes were made available for nine special trails. Provider Electric Bicycle Network knows that their "e-bikes" remove much of the hardship of going uphill, making it pleasant for non-athletic travelers to appreciate the scenery without having to pedal heavily. The organization provides two-wheelers to local businesses, such as hotels and B&Bs;, which rent them out for about £25 a day. Last month, the company began the service in England's Peak District, near Manchester. Next month, it is rolling out the battery-powered bicycles in Devon in the country's scenic southwest. In Switzerland, travel agency Swiss Trails teamed up with the government and the Rent a Bike company to provide bike rentals along nine scenic trails, including three models of electric bike. You no longer have to be a fit cyclist to be able to tackle mountain passes and view lakes and alpine panoramas. You don't need a rental car to reach the trails, either. The e-bikes are for rent at 20 SBB train stations, which are easily reachable from the country's major cities. Sadly, the rental cost is high: 98 Swiss francs a day or about $119, though tax, helmet, and other items are covered. In Beijing, guided e-bike tours allow you to explore the city in small groups, allowing you to cover more territory than a walking tour can alone without getting exhausted. Half-day tours from 300 CNY or about $48. Details at bjebiketours.com. On Japan's Awajishima Island, near Osaka, more than 30 electric bicycles are available for rent as an alternative method of transport for the estimated 12 million sightseers who visit each year to see the stunning scenery. Prices start at 500 yen (about $6) for two hours. Details available at tourist offices on the island. MORE FROM BUDGET TRAVEL Theory confirmed! Credit cards have better exchange rates than banks Figure out which hotel you'll get on Hotwire How to travel like a lady


Ask Trip Coach: Camping

You can't get much closer to nature than when you're sleeping out under the stars. But make the wrong move at the campground and your crew will be seriously un-happy campers. In an upcoming Trip Coach column, we're taking a peaceful respite at the campground. Please send us all of your camping-related questions, and we'll answer as many as we can in the story. You might be wondering: What kinds of travelers should and shouldn't go camping? What are the best resources for locating and evaluating campgrounds? What kind of prices do campgrounds charge nowadays, and what do you get for the money? What camping gear is essential, and which products are gimmicks a camper can go without? What common mistakes do newbies make that drive seasoned campers nuts? For those just not into sleeping on the ground, what are some campground options beyond the classic tent site? Under what circumstances is it just a bad idea to go camping? Now it's your turn. Please send us your camping questions, so that we can focus on the most pressing issues in an upcoming issue of Budget Travel. MORE FROM BUDGET TRAVEL: Trip Coach: National Parks Trip Coach: Traveling with Pets Road Trip: National Parks (Minus the Crowds)