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MousePlanet Mailbag for March 31, 2005

We receive considerable feedback regarding our site. Although we cannot publish them all, the following may be of interest to our readers.

Today's Mailbag is full of comments and insights for Mike Scopa.

Nicole Fountain Long writes:

Dear Mike,

My husband and I are planning a trip to Disneyland for May 11th through the 15th. I noticed that this is one week after the 50th Anniversary celebration begins. While I know the peak season doesn't usually begin until June/July, I was wondering if you have any guesses about how the celebration will affect attendance in May. Do you think attendance will be up dramatically that early into the celebration?

Hi Nicole – I think that the novelty of Disneyland's 50th will impact the attendance at not just DL but also Walt Disney World as well.

My guess is that crowds may tend to be a bit higher from May through September but this spike in crowd level may be because of the locals being curious about all the festivities and not necessarily because of out of town vacationers.

If I were you I wouldn't worry too much. If you were going a month or two later (June or July) you would possibly see a higher crowd level than May.

I would expect that you may see high crowd levels on the weekends in May but not that much during the week.

I hope for your sake I'm correct in my assumptions. Please let me know how things work out for you.


Jennifer writes:

Hi, I just saw Wishes at Walt Disney World a week ago. It was the 2nd time in a year. Please don't laugh at this question, but I can't find any information regarding it.

Do you know if Tinker Bell (when she glides across the wire from the castle), is this a real person, or a dummy? We were right off to the side of the wire down in the upper rose garden. A great show to see as adults (made me feel like a kid again), I'd see it again and again). Thanks so much for any info.

Hi Jennifer – I believe that is a real person "flying" from the castle.

Last August while at Walt Disney World I saw Wishes about six times but saw Tink only twice.

I was told that Tink does not fly on nights where there are lightning cells in the area.

Here's another bit of information. If you noticed, guests do not see Tinker Bell until she's about 10 feet from the castle. There's a reason for that.

Disney theme parks use forced perspective. Any structure two stories or higher is built with smaller than normal windows on the upper levels to give "forced perspective" of the building being higher than it actually is.

When Tinker Bell is perched high up on the castle there is no spotlight on her. If we could see her perched next to a window we would notice how she would dwarf the window… sort of ruins the illusion of a pixie next to a huge castle.

Therefore we will never see Tink when she is on the castle… only after she is about 10 feet or so away from the structure.


On Mike's January 5 article, "Old Enough for Mickey?" about taking young children to Walt Disney World (link), Dan Weckerly writes:

Interesting article, as always, Mike on your thoughts on young uns in Walt Disney World It is a tough decision—especially when its your youngest and the older sibs are in that perfect Disney age.

We took our family in May 2003. Our eldest was 9; the middle-button was 6; but our youngest, Kristin, was only 2.5. Surely we couldn't leave her home, yet we knew she'd cause us to adjust accordingly.

Things turned out very well, though. Yes, there were some logistics issues with carting around that ratzen-fratzen car seat. And by the week's end, I was ready to pitch our brought-from-home stroller into Bay Lake. And yes, Kristin hated Illuminations, which we—okay, give us the Rotten Parents of the Decade Award—actually made her stand through not once, but twice!

But all that aside, I am very glad we brought our tyke.

I have a photo of her taken during Cinderella's Royal Table breakfast. Her 'hero' is, was, and always shall be Cinderella. And while we were eating, next to the staircase that brings characters into the dining room itself, Kristin squirmed out of her seat and sat quietly, by herself, on a step. Beings that she was right next to our table, we allowed it.

She never saw the rustling blue cloud of tulle assembling behind her. But she must've heard it, because, eventually, she looked up… There was her Dream—the wish her heart makes—standing right over her.

Cindy stepped down and sat on the step opposite our daughter. She then demurely patted the space next to her, and Kristin scooted to her right. I got my camera out of its case just as Cindy lifted Kristin onto her lap and they chatted.

Those pics? Wouldn't trade 'em for a million dollars.

Is Walt Disney World different with preschoolers? You bet! Extra baggage. Extra naps. Menus that aren't always to her liking. Carrying. Jockeying. Things that she wants to do that her older sisters do not ("it's a small world" 1,549 times, anyone?). Heat. Lines. Crowds.

Is the effort worth it? We thought so…

Hi Dan – You make some very good points and I think many people would echo your thoughts.

If you plan your trip with the approach that, as you say, there will be some logistical problems, then at least you are more than ready to face them.

Preparation helps towards enjoying the trip.

My concern are for those who do not do the research and fully understand what they need to prepare for when visiting Walt Disney World

And your last point about your pictures… could make for a television commercial:

  • Airfare for a family of four to Orlando $1000 dollars.
  • Admission for a family of four to Walt Disney World theme parks $1200.
  • Pictures of the kids hugging Mickey… priceless.

Thanks for the note.


Julie Edman writes:

Dear Mike,

I am sure you are going to get many irate e-mail on this subject—I'll try not to be one of them.

I read your article with interest, as I have a child who is almost 2. We took a family vacation to Orlando in September. It was not the thrill ride-seeking, Pleasure Island-going trip I have done in the past. This time it was, "Where is Mickey? Which restaurant serves the best macaroni and cheese? Oh, what kind of animal is that?" etc. That said, I would not trade the experience for anything. Seeing the sheer joy on my son's face the first time he saw a costumed character, and hearing him shout "Mickey Mickey Mickey!" as he went running was indescribably wonderful.

That is why I find your suggestion that I "… recognize when [my] child is old enough to really appreciate a trip to Walt Disney World and… Remember the magic… " not a valid one. My son might not remember the trip, but he sure enjoyed himself in the moment. I wish I could approach daily life with the zest and joie de vivre that he showed every day we were there. And appreciate it? At his age, maybe not, but I know that I sure did.

Hi Julie – If your e–mail was an irate e–mail then I welcome more like that. Your points are well made and I fully understand where you are coming from.

In reading your letter I could see the value you saw out of going to Walt Disney World with your son, and beyond that, the appreciation you have for every day that you get to enjoy with him.

There's a lot to be said for that.

I think when anyone like myself puts him or herself "out there" with an opinion on something it's with the notion that there are always going to be some disagreement. It would be foolish for me to expect everyone to agree with my opinion.

Heck, my wife hates Dole Whip and I know of people who have visited Walt Disney World just once and despised it.

I think your kids are pretty lucky to have a mom that approaches each day looking forward to seeing her children grow up, ask questions, and share their life adventure.

I think you represent that portion of Walt Disney World guests who know how to approach a trip with young children and thus I can see how you would disagree with my piece because frankly… that piece would not apply to you.


Shan Baker writes:

Hi Mike,

Thanks for your article "Old enough for Mickey?" You do raise some valid issues that all parents should consider before taking a young child to Disney World. In your "Food for thought" section you suggest that parents may want to wait until the child is old enough to "appreciate a trip to Walt Disney World". I agree with this statement if the trip will be a "once in a lifetime" trip, however, if you will be likely to make future trips when the child is old enough to remember Walt Disney World then I say go for it when they are little! My daughter is almost 3 years old and has been to Walt Disney World 5 times. The first trip was at age 11 months. Of course she will never have a memory of this trip but don't discount the special memories that we as parents will cherish! We enjoy looking at our photo albums with our daughter and talking about the magical moments we encountered on each trip! With a little advanced planning tailored to the personality of your child, touring Walt Disney World with very young children can be a wonderful family enriching experience!

Hi Shan – I realize that there are young families out there who WILL enjoy a trip to Orlando.

A lot has to do with the approach of the parents towards the vacation and the children themselves. No two families are alike and let's face it, some kids travel better than others.

You hit the nail on the head regarding the need to do advanced planning. If parents do their homework and really prepare for the trip then there is a very good chance that it will be a great trip.

From your letter I'm happy to see that you've already figured that out.


Dawn Osif writes:

Mike,

I have three boys 14, 12 and 8. We started taking our 14 year old to Disneyland when he was 6 months old. We get to Walt Disney World about every other year and it is a different experience each time. When they are young, you spend a lot of time in fantasy land and watch a lot of parades. As they get older, you can enjoy the thrill rides and staying out late. On our 6/04 trip, we went to an e ride night for the first time. Let's face it, it's a blast no matter what age your kids are. We cherish every trip no matter how different it was from the last. I'm looking forward to having grand children and starting all over.

Hi Dawn – As the children grow so do their interests.

The transition sure does go from Fantasyland to thrill rides to just about anything. I can remember my children becoming more interested in Epcot as they got older.

It sounds like you've had plenty of practice for when the grandchildren arrive.


Nancy D. writes:

I read your article about young children at Walt Disney World, and was disappointed at the negative slant. I've been twice when my son was under 3, and am going back soon with a 2 and 5 year old. Parents of young children want to travel, and I find Disney convenient. I like having ramps, clean bathrooms with changing tables, and children's meals everywhere. A neighbor visited Paris with her toddler, and found stairs everywhere and battles with unfamiliar food; not a relaxing time. Disney restaurants include distractions to keep kids from squirming, buffets allow a toddler to eat according to the day's whim, and no one minds if you eat while swaying with a baby! While preschoolers can't appreciate all the rides or remember the experience for very long, some of my happiest memories involve just sitting on a bench with my son while waiting for his dad to exit a ride. We would listen to bands, admire the gardens, notice characters, and take fun pictures.

I wonder if you were focusing on the cost for a young family. Many parents with young kids are in their 30s and more able to handle the expense. Kids under 3 are fed for free in restaurants and don't need park passes. Young kids don't need fancy hotels, but it can be convenient to be in a Monorail hotel, to wheel the stroller on with a sleeping child, rather than folding it up for a bus. Being on-site helps when parents split up at nap time; one of us would explore the parks while the other headed for the hotel.

Walt Disney World can be a tiring, hot, expensive, confusing place. Families need to pace themselves and plan as much as possible. Families with preschoolers have one major advantage: we can travel while school is in session, which are the cheapest, coolest, and most line-free seasons.

Hi Nancy – Thanks for pointing out the conveniences that Disney provides for young families. In reading your note I could appreciate how strongly you felt about bringing young children to a Disney theme park. I think you have a wonderful approach to the Disney experience and that approach certainly would be part of the formula for a great family vacation.

I will be the first to admit that parents with your experience and approach would be fine with young children at Disneyland or Walt Disney World

Your point about how Walt Disney World can be tiring, costly, and confusing is so important to point out to those who have never been.

I think there is a percentage of parents out there like yourself who know how to plan for a Walt Disney World vacation with small children, who do the important preparation needed, and who approach the vacation in a manner that will result in a great vacation.

Not everyone will.

I've talked with families who have had a wonderful time and also families who have not and the latter seems to all have the same thing in common… lack of preparation and along with that a somewhat unhealthy approach to what they can and what they cannot do with young children in Orlando.

Thanks for the great e-mail. You made some great points.


Craig Mauermann writes:

Mike, Great article for the parent thinking about when to take the kids. Personally, we have taken our two kids four times in three years. On the first trip, the kids were 3 and 8 months. Most recently, they were 5 and 3. Every trip has been excellent due to some simple planning ahead. My comment is this… I believe the attitude of the parents is almost solely responsible for the trip experience. We have always told our kids they would love all the rides and that Disney would never have a ride that isn't fun. Presto! Our kids will do every ride they are tall enough for including TOT and Test Track. If a parent gets all whiny and asks his/her kids if they want to go on something and says it might be scary, the kid is going to be afraid. Also, while the occasional meltdown is inevitable, if you just pace yourselves, the kids can handle day after day in the parks, no problem. Just my thoughts. Thanks! Craig

Craig – You have hit the nail on the head. It's all about the parents and the planning and preparation. No doubt you did your homework, did plenty of thinking, and prepared yourselves for whatever situation would arise.

Result: A great family vacation.

Your point about pacing is extremely important. The last thing a young family should do is to try and do park touring commando style.

Methinks your children are pretty lucky to have some pretty sharp parents… not just for Walt Disney World trips… but for life.


C. A. M. writes:

Mike,

You are so right about kids at Walt Disney World What those parents of the three year old and seven month old should is take their kids to a county or state fair, or a nearby Six Flags park. Spend the day, eat the food from the counter service, go on the rides, see some shows and stay until at least early evening. I'll bet when they leave, they won't be out of the parking lot before the kids are asleep in the back seat. Then they should observe them the next day: they'll probably sleep late, be tired, and maybe even cranky. Now the parents should imagine how they would be if they went back to the fair / park again that day. And again the following day. Even with midday breaks and some late mornings and early evenings, the kids would be in sensory overload and incredibly fatigued in no time. Further, since it's the parents that want to go, they're probably looking forward to going on the adult rides such as Tower of Terror and Mission: Space. That means using the baby swap. Under that scenario, the family stands in line for a long time and then Dad rides while Mom waits and then Mom rides while Dad waits. Then they leave. Just how much of that does anyone think that a three year old is going to tolerate? The experience could sour everyone on Walt Disney World for a long time to come. If the parents really want to go, they need to hire a sitter, leave the kids at home and go by themselves.

Hi C.A.M. – I can remember a trip to Walt Disney World well before my children were born. I remember entering Magic kingdom and going upstairs in the train station to take a photograph of Main Street, U.S.A. with the castle in the background.

I could not help but notice several young families walking out of the park who were no doubt, in the park all day. They all had the same look to them… their children were either sleeping or crying. Sure they had a full day but would the day have been better with a decent midday break or rest period?

Your point about the fatigue being cumulative is well taken. What does one day's fatigue mean for the next day? Bob Sehlinger often mentions that most people hit "the wall" somewhere around the 72-hour mark of a Walt Disney World vacation.

The key is to pace yourself and your family so that the precious time that you have in Walt Disney World is well spent.

I also want to comment on your point about what the parents want out of a trip to Walt Disney World Although the baby swap method allows parents to do attractions like Tower of Terror and Mission: Space, patience on the part of the parents and the child are sometimes really tested.

I think that is why some people will put off those adult rides and really concentrate on those attractions which their young children can enjoy.

Finally you mention how a poor experience can "sour" a person's attitude for a long time. This is true… especially if the first trip ever to Walt Disney World is with young children and the whole family is unprepared.

My hat is off to those who have a handle on how to vacation with young children at Walt Disney World Unfortunately, not everyone plans accordingly.


Tim Wolfers writes:

Good report on bringing small kids to Walt Disney World. Having taken a boy there at different ages, I can relate to the ups and downs of a Walt Disney World visit with a young one.

We went at age 3,4,6, and 7. From our experience, the age 4 trip was fantastic. He was able to stay up longer, (slept a lot at age 3) and was still young enough to not know the characters were "people in costumes."

By age 6 he was able to enjoy all the fear rides, without hesitation. Each kid is different, but I think the key is stamina; and being out of diapers, is also a big plus.

We have no plans to visit any time soon, so we are glad we made 4 trips when he was young.

Keep up the great work!

Hi Tim – No two children are alike and no doubt there will be some who may be able to handle the sensory overload that comes with the initial visit to Walt Disney World

I agree about the post diaper years. That is a big hurdle, one less thing to worry about.

The stamina factor is also something to consider. Sometimes as adults we have a hard time remembering that young children have small legs and may get tired faster that we think.


DUSTY CHEATHAM writes:

Mike: It was a very sensible article, however, most parents could not care less. They are the ones that get on the bus back to the resort at 10:30 at night with three kids ages 5, 3, and 6 months pushing a stroller as big as a Volkswagen, they then wonder why no one will give their seat up. Oh! And did I mention that the kids are screaming at the top of their lungs, it is 40 degrees and windy? As a passholder for more than 10 years, I realize people can get tunnel vision when it comes to their vacation. People should use common sense. Thanks for letting me vent.

Hi Dusty – It really does come down to common sense. I think that common sense is best realized through research and planning.

The best research is done by talking with people who have been to Orlando with young children and finding out how to best prepare for the trip.

I also think taking the opportunity to read some trip reports could also help in providing some hints as to what to expect when bringing a young child or infant to Walt Disney World

I have seen something similar to what you described while waiting to board a parking lot tram and found myself feeling sorry for the children… because it's really not their fault.


Heather writes:

Hi Mike.

Your article on Walt Disney World with young uns couldn't have been more appropriately timed. We are taking our 14 month old son, Joshua, to Disneyland in two weeks for his first visit. I was wondering if you had any special tips for Disneyland that I should consider? We know the trip will be very different from our pre-child days—and, the fact that I am pregnant, Joshua and I will not be going on too many rides together.

On the scary ride factor—are there ways to tell how our son will react to dark rides? He is pretty much a little dare devil and hardly gets scared, but he's never experienced something quite like the Haunted Mansion or pirates. I think he'll be fine with Mommy, Daddy and Grandma right there, but, again, not sure until we try. I don't really want to ruin others experiences by having a screaming child at the end of the ride—but he also might love it. Is there a "warm-up" ride you suggest to see how he will do?

We will be going to Walt Disney World in 2006 with our son (who will be 3) and second child (who will be 1 1/2), so I will cut out your article and keep it!

On the flight thing—good advice to feed your child. We found that if you have a bottle ready for takeoff and landing, that usually alleviates the pressure. Also, I remember from being younger, that our parents would give us bubble gum to chew during take off and landing. That really worked.

Parents should also be prepared to bring a birth certificate if they are flying with a children who is close to the age the flight requires payment (most flights are free until age 2), because they will not just assume your child is under 2—they will make you pay if its questionable and you can't prove the age. Also, if you need medical care in another state, sometimes they require proof of parentage before they can allow you to make medical decisions.

Anyway, thanks for the good article!

Hi Heather – Dark rides and young children are always a tough one to decipher. Remember that a dark ride adds to the illusion that is trying to be achieved by the Imagineers. For that reason alone my suggestion would be to air on the side of caution.

Try to enjoy as many outdoor activities with Joshua as possible and of course there's noting like "It's a Small World" to introduce children to a semi-dark ride experience.

Also, one other suggestion. Let Joshua decide how close he may want to get to Mickey, Minnie, and other characters. Sometimes the child needs that empowerment to work with the courage building that is required in that initial meeting with the characters.

Great idea about the birth certificate. Wish I had thought about that one while writing the article.


Duane writes:

Mike,

My first visit with Disney took place in 1968. I was 5 years old at the time my family took a flight across the United States to visit the small town of Anaheim. We stayed directly across the street at the Saga Inn hotel, which is currently owned by the Ramada company. For me, 5 years old was the perfect age to first encounter the magic of Disneyland. The experience was so powerful, I am now 40 years old and visit the Disney parks in Anaheim and Orlando 4 or 5 times a year. To make a long story short, I believed everything was real in Disneyland. I thought we were in another world where characters lived from the movies, a place where you really could take a trip to the moon, travel through inner space, ride on flying elephants, or take a boat ride through the Caribbean.

My favorite land in the park was Frontierland. During the late 1960s, Cowboy films and Westerns were very popular. Frontierland gave me a way to visit the Wild West without the fear of being shot or attacked by Indians. Everyone was so friendly! Amazingly so, the only thing which scared me were the characters. They were like huge animals wandering around the park that didn't live in cages. They also would come up and put their arms around you. This was very frightening to me because I was in fear of being bitten.

To wrap things up, my first experience at 5 years old couldn't have been any better. Disneyland was a place where magic took place and all the people were friendly and happy. The funny thing about it is, I still believe that today!

Hi Duane – Your message brings up an important point. Young children are so impressionable and so trusting that a trip to a Disney theme park may give them unbelievable realistic impressions of everything they see and hear.

Because of this issue parents should do their best to prepare their children for what they are about to see.

Your point about the characters is also well taken. Chip and Dale aren't as big as soda cans but way bigger… something a lot of little ones aren't ready for.

It is really impossible to say this age or that age is the perfect age… for you it was age 5… for others it may be age 7.

Sometimes the parents have to make a very educated guess.


Jeremy Muse writes:

Hey Mike,

Awesome and interesting article. Wife and I are going on a softball tournament trip in April and our now 7 month, then 10 month old, will be joining us. We are Disneyland aficionados and have been there since he was 5 months old. We have learned that Pirates and Haunted Mansion are more his speed, while the Fantasyland rides are too fast. Weird yes, and surprising. He also loves a good spin on Small World. The slower the ride, the more he can look around.

We have also brought our umbrella stroller with us. When we were younger, we hated seeing all these people bring these huge strollers with them, and then they would run into people. With a smaller stroller, we are more able to move around people, except for those that run into it and blame us for not watching where they may go.

When he naps, we find that this is the best time to go looking through the stores. The stroller is nonstop moving, and he can rest.

Next time, which is Friday, we are going to try the Snugli, which is a backpack and he can look around more easily. Plus, the baby has to be looking outward on your lap, and the Snugli positions him perfectly so we don't have to reposition him, especially when he's asleep.

Questions:

Found out from Continental that the baby has to stay on your lap. Or, you can buy a seat for him and put a baby seat in. The lady in charge of the trip doesn't want to pay for the extra seat, so he's going to sit on our lap. For the transport from the airport to Disney World, is it okay for the baby to be on our laps?

In 2006, we will be celebrating our five year anniversary and plan to go back to Walt Disney World and do the food and recreation package. Conner will be 2 years old at that time, which means he's free on that package. If he's eating real food, does that mean we have to pay out of pocket for him, or will he be included in the food package? His name is on the package, but he's under 2.

Personal Question:

Hate to do this, but I figured what the hay. My wife and I will be moving to Florida in late July. She is a teacher and has a sure job thanks to the need of teachers. I, on the other hand, am a state employee with the state of California, I'm an Adm. support guy. Do you have any ideas of where I should go to obtain a job? Any business I should apply for? Thanks for any help.

Hi Jeremy – Thanks for making some points that may help others plan their trips.

It's probably easier for a five-month-old to handle Haunted Mansion and Pirates of the Caribbean than it is for a five year old who may have a fear of pirates and ghosts and may feel what he is seeing is real.

The smaller stroller is probably more comfy than the larger ones, plus they are easier to deal with when it comes to crowded spots.

Good idea about shopping during naps.

I never heard of a Snugli… will have to look that one up.

Your mention of Continental's policy regarding children and seats is important because it reminds all of us to check with the airlines regarding seating policies for young children.

I'm pretty sure that Florida state law requires children to be in some sort of a car seat… maybe a combo car seat/stroller is in Conner's future?

I believe as long as Conner is under 2 you should be fine… if he were three then I'm pretty sure you would have to order from the children's menu.

Regarding job opportunities in Florida, my guess is that state continues to grow and with that so do job opportunities. If I were you the first place I would contact would be the Florida Department of Employment Security.

[Editor's note: MousePlanet editor Lani Teshima has written an article specifically about flying with a baby, in which she addresses the issue of lap babies on airplanes (link).]


PJ's Mom writes:

Mike, Can you please clarify something for me? We're going to Walt Disney World in June andhave purchased our Magic Your Way tickets with the plus pack option. If I understand it correctly we can go to one park per day with an additional"plus" visit to either Disney Quest, a water park,etc. (5 day pass,3 "plus" visits). Now if we go to MK in the morning,then return to our hotel (on-site) for the afternoon, can we then return to MK in the evening since we are only going to ONE major park per day? We were there 2 years ago & just used the Unlimited Park Hopper tickets& it seemed less confusing. Maybe we should just upgrade to the park hopper option. We were just trying to save a little $. Thank you in advance for any help you can offer.

Hi PJ's Mom – Yes. The Base Ticket provides "… admission to any one of the four Walt Disney World Theme Parks for each day of the ticket." The definition of a day in Walt Disney World is the time when the turnstiles open until the time the park closes. The restriction for a Magic Your Way ticket w/o the Park Hopper Option is that you are limited to the same park for that day.

If you think about it, why would they not want you back in the park? You can't spend money in the park if you aren't there.


One Mike's February 4 article, "Magic Your Way 101," about Walt Disney World's new ticketing system (link), Sean Wildman writes:

Mike: Thanks for your article regarding the Magic Your Way tickets. I am looking at these tickets from a little different angle. I am a DVC member and know that I will be at Walt Disney World many, many times.

In July, my daughter is performing on a cruise ship that is leaving out of Miami so my family's next comments are that since we have to fly to Florida (from California) anyway, we might as well visit Walt Disney World So we have already made our reservations, but we aren't sure how many days we will go to the parks (either 3 or 4).

When I first heard about the new ticket program, I wasn't sure what to do. The more I think about it, doesn't it make the most sense to buy the maximum number of days and add the no expiration feature? I say this because I will not lose the tickets, I know we will be back, the cost per day (as you pointed) out goes down and you know Disney will only increase their prices. So in my case, I buy a 10 day ticket now, use 4 days in July and when I come back say in 2006 for 6 days, my ticket prices are at the 2005 level. Doesn't this make the most sense in my case and for other families that know they will come back? My next question is shorter. If I buy the 10 day pass, with no expiration, park hopper and Magic Plus and then go to Walt Disney World parks for 10 days without using any of the Plus visits, can I save my ticket for my next trip to use at the Plus locations?

Thanks again for not only this article, but all the great articles you and everyone else at MousePlanet has contributed.

Hi Sean – I agree with your assessment. Anyone who knows they will be returning to Walt Disney World should probably get a 7 or 10-day ticket with a No Expiration option. Even if you don't return for a year you freeze the price.

Regarding your Plus Pack question here is the official word from Disney: "If a guest elects to add the 'No-Expiration' option to a Magic Your Way ticket with the Magic Plus Pack option, the visits to other gated attractions, such as water parks, will not expire. However, for those who do not purchase the no-expiration option, all park admissions and visits, including water parks, will expire 14 days from first use."

Sounds like you're fine.


Roberta Pratt writes:

Thanks for the help perhaps after reading that again and again I will get the new way into my head. I plan to have my husband also read all of that. Your work is appreciated. Glad to know about it before I get there. I think I'm confused and just want to buy an AP and go back two or three times a year. Since we live in New Hampshire it's not an option.

Do you buy tickets only on site or can you buy them at the Disney Store. Which is cheaper or is there any difference? It use to be the rate was better at the store. Perhaps I'm confused with being a Disney Club member.

Hi Roberta,

I'm with you. Of course not everyone can visit Walt Disney World several times a year and thus justify purchasing an AP.

Your point is definitely worth considering by everyone. Is an AP a better deal than the Magic Your Way ticket? A lot has to be considered because annual passes do come with perks and some of those perks are discounts which help defray the cost of the AP. Also, the last time I checked I do recall that purchasing tickets before you go, perhaps at the Disney Store, will save you some money.

Also, a New Hampshire AAA travel agent told me that New Hampshire AAA members can purchase tickets at their local AAA travel office and not have to pay Florida tax.


Ralph writes:

Mike: To begin with I have been to Disney World at least twenty-five (25) times in the past twelve (12) years having visited in every season so I think I have a good point of reference when I say that Disney has become nothing more than a machine to make money.

If you have noticed the quality product they are so proud to speak about has become nothing more than smoke and mirrors. It is extremely disappointing to see how the parks and service has deteriorated over the past decade and they keep fooling the public into think that it makes sense to spent large amount's of money just because they are Disney.

I find it somewhat distasteful that a corporation such as Disney would brag about having to only spend $1,500.00 dollars for a family of four (4). Let us not forget this is for one (1) of the value resorts and tickets, never taking into account people will need additional funds to eat and buy some sort of souvenir, and you know as well as I do nothing at Disney World is moderately priced. Just so that you don't get the wrong impression my family and I have been fortunate to have the means to spend more than that on our trips, but to most people myself included to say that $1,500 for a Disney vacation is a barging is just ridicules.

While I feel that all corporation have the right to make money Disney has the ability to actual make people think they are doing you a favor. I have been reading MousePlanet for the past couple of years and in most cases you don't offend me very often; however I have to disagree with what seems to be your point that Disney is being a good corporate citizen by having lower prices associated with the length of a guest stay. If that is not what you mean I apologies for my confusion. In theory that is all well and good but I would think that the majority of guest visiting Disney World actually stay any where from four (4) to seven days (7). If this is actually correct, then the actual cost per day for the majority of visitors actually increases, and for those that do stay longer the reduction in the price of a ticket is more than offset by the additional income Disney receives resulting from additional, hotel stays, meals and any other activity the guest participate in. It is getting very hard to read what you put out because instead of being an objective reporter you seem to have become a proponent of all that Disney does.

I sometimes think you folks actually work for Disney even though you clearly state you have no affiliation. Thanks for reading. Ralph

Hi Ralph – Nope, I wasn't implying that Disney is being a good corporate citizen. My point was that this new ticket program is structured to appeal to guests to stay longer as the cost per day per ticket is like a sliding discount.

I also pointed out that guests do not look at a Walt Disney World vacation that way but instead look at the overall cost… obviously the longer you stay the more you will spend… that's Disney's objective.

And just to set the record straight, I'm not here to try and offend anyone but to bring information, entertainment, and whenever possible, clarity to my readership.

Your comment about MousePlanet working for Disney is interesting. I've received many letters to the contrary, including mail from cast members who have commented on me being a bit harsh at times… and one e-mail message about a month back laced with some very colorful words that proclaimed I hated Disney. Go figure.

I'm almost on your side regarding how there has been a drop-off in service. I see that more as growing pains.

I miss the two Spectromagic parades per night in the summer. I also miss Sorcery in the Sky every night at MGM Studios… and 18 instead of 10 Voices of Liberty at the American Adventure… among others.

Of course this is not to say that Disney isn't cutting corners… and it's backfiring on them… they tried to do a quick and cheap turnaround from Alien Encounter to Stitch Escapes… well the rewrite is costing them millions. They opted to go for an economical (read inexpensive) drainage system at Disney's Animal Kingdom… oops it's collapsing… so now money that would probably be spent on attraction expansion will now be used to refurbish the drainage system.

I never said Disney was perfect… but they do try to construct programs and services that turn out to be a win-win situation for both them and their guests.

Everyone who is planning a family trip to Walt Disney World is faced with tough decisions and I'm here to help them make the right decision for them. The assumption is that before they read MousePlanet in search of help… well, they've decided that they want to go… they just need help in trying to figure out how to do it.


Melissa writes:

Hi Mike, We are planning a vacation to Walt Disney World in January of 2006 I have done a lot of research so far plan on doing more.. What I would like to see if you could answer for me is I have read on many sites that January is a slow time for Disney I also realize the parks close earlier but what I would like to know is how many of the attraction will actually be closed at this time is it an excessive amount where it wouldn't be worth going I just want to make this trip the best I can for my children thanks so much.. Any help you can offer will be great.

Hi Melissa – This would be a tough call to make because every January is different. Attractions that might have been closed for refurbishment in January 2005 may be open in January 2006. Also, those opened in January 2005 may not be in operation next January.

My guess is that some refurbishment would most likely occur between the second week of January to the third week of February. Historically those weeks are relatively quiet and an ideal time to splash on a fresh coat of paint, change some lights, or do some other type of maintenance.

Of course the question is not just how many attractions would be down but which ones would be down.

In most all cases this information may not be available until October or November as schedules tend to be placed in jello until about the 90 day mark. Another thing to keep in mind that some attractions may operate on reduced hours. This has been seen in recent years with the Carrousel of Progress. Also, January weather is tough to predict so water park availability may not be as high as it would be for Spring through Fall.

There are certain months during the year, like January, February, March, September, and probably November, when although the crowds may be relatively lower than other times during the year, that also means that attraction availability may also be low.

This is one of those times when a crystal ball would be helpful.


Brian Martin writes:

Mike: Great article, actually made the whole ticket area clearer for me. One question though: The old Park Hopper Plus tickets had the options to go to the water parks, etc.; any unused Plus options did not expire. Is this true for the Magic Plus Pack option if you purchase the no expiration option. I know this is probably an easy one, but for some reason it doesn't seem clear to me. Thanks for the info and I look forward to the next installment.

Hi Brian – This question comes up quite a bit and I think Disney falls short on explaining this to guests. This is their statement on the Plus Pack question:

"If a guest elects to add the 'No-Expiration' option to a Magic Your Way ticket with the Magic Plus Pack option, the visits to other gated attractions, such as water parks, will not expire. However, for those who do not purchase the no-expiration option, all park admissions and visits, including water parks, will expire 14 days from first use."

I hope that helps.


Nicholas Steinhoff writes:

Mike, thanks for today's column. There's an interesting question about the new tickets that I've not seen definitively answered anywhere. (Just lots of speculation)

Suppose I purchase a Magic Your Way pass and use it on March 1. Will its last day of validity be March 14, or March 15? It's not 100% clear how Disney is defining the word "after".

Take the case of the 10 day pass with plus options. You have a total of 15 days worth of admissions, but do you only get 14 days in which to use them? This would be a helpful question to get the answer to. I've seen it asked in several different forums. Thanks as always.

Hi Nicholas – We are told that the Magic Your Way Base Ticket expires 14 days from first use. I read that to mean that you have a 2 week period to use the ticket. If you start on March 1st then my guess is that starts the fourteen day clock. March 14th is day fourteen.

Also keep in mind that 15 admissions in 10 days includes things like water parks… you can do a water park in the morning and a theme park at night… two admissions in one day.


Michelle Culver writes:

Good Morning Mr. Scopa!

Your articles on Walt Disney's new vacation set up couldn't have come at a better time as we are planning a trip for our 2nd visit to Walt Disney World in the first week of December 05. So you can see how intrigued I am to read your take and break down for the Walt Disney World newbies if you will. My question, and please forgive me for being naïve, is: we are planning to get the 7 day with park hopper option and magic plus pack. Our trip is 9 days. Even though our admission for the parks would have been used up after 7 days, are we still able to use our allotted "plus visits"?

Meaning, we were looking at going to Magic Kingdom and then Epcot the first couple of days, then take a break and hit Disney Quest and Pleasure Island the 3rd day. Then hit the parks again for the next few days and then do the water parks. Is the feasible? Should I be looking at this differently? I appreciate your input as your opinion is valued! Thank you so much and have a wonderful weekend! Best Wishes, Michelle Culver

Hi Michelle – As I understand it the Magic Plus Pack, like the base ticket, requires that you make use of your plus visits within 14 days of the first use of your ticket. Disney says that if you elect to add the 'No-Expiration' option to a Magic Your Way ticket with the Magic Plus Pack option, your visits to other gated attractions, such as water parks, will not expire. However, if you do not purchase the no-expiration option, all park admissions and visits, including water parks, will expire 14 days from first use.

To me that sound like your touring plan would work.

However Michelle, there is no guarantee that the December weather in Orlando will be warm enough so that you'd want to use the water parks.

It would still be worthwhile to get the Magic Plus Pack for PI and DQ.


Dennis Driggers writes:

Here's an option for use of the new "Magic Your Way" tickets that I've never seen explored. When my wife and I visited Walt Disney World a couple of years ago we paid approximately $219 each for a 4 day park hopper ticket. We used the park hopper option twice during our stay.

Under the new ticketing scheme, a 7 day base ticket costs about the same as the old 4 day park hopper, and it costs less than the 4 day ticket with the park hopper option.

So, for a 4 day trip one could purchase the 7 day ticket and use the additional 3 admissions to park hop 3 times (for example, in the morning visit the MK, using up one day's admission; then go to Epcot in the afternoon using a second day's admission). You get to keep (limited) park hopping, and it doesn't cost any more than the old park hopper ticket!

Hi Dennis – I'm glad you brought this idea up because you may not be the only one who has thought of it.

Unfortunately with the Base Ticket only one theme park admission may be used per day.

Obviously the folks who came up with this ticket program wanted to make sure thinking guests like you would not be able to take advantage of any loophole… so they closed it.


John Hamilton writes:

Just read your article "Magic Your Way 101", and I have a question—what combination of options is equivalent to an old five day park hopper plus ticket? I've been using a Disney Visa to earn Disney Dollars to purchase park tickets for a future trip with my two boys. A few months ago I cashed in some Disney Dollars to purchase the first of four tickets—an adult five day park hopper plus. Now that Disney has introduced the Magic Your Way plan, I'm trying to figure out which options to use. I'm thinking a five day Base Ticket with Park-Hopper, Magic Plus Pack, and No-Expiration Options—does that sound about right? If so—boy, what a price jump! The ticket I bought last year was $280, under the new plan it would be $328— that's a 17% increase! Please tell me I'm reading this wrong!

John – You're right… but there's a way around this.

First, the Magic Plus Pack option gets you 3 Plus visits for a 5-day ticket. Those three visits tack on $48/ticket. Depending upon where you go that $48 is a bargain ($16 per visit).

What isn't a bargain is the No Expiration option. If you plan accordingly you wouldn't need it so why spend the money?

A 5-day base ticket with the Park Hopper and Magic Plus Pack options will cost about $266 plus tax. For children under 10 that comes to $229 before taxes. The wise vacation planner will figure out a way to avoid using that No Expiration option.

My plan "B" would be to purchase the 10-day ticket with everything and use 5 days this trip and 5 days your next trip. The cost per ticket is $413. But look at it like two 5-day tickets at $206.50 apiece… compared with $328 per ticket for this year's 5-day trip.

However, keep in mind the 10-day gives you only 5 visits.

I think the architect of this little ticket program figured that the old program gave away that no-expiration option for free. Not this time.


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