A Tough Question...and Some Easier Ones | Disney World

  • There are always some big questions you can’t answer. What is the meaning of life may be No. l.

    We have no idea and won’t attempt it.

    But there are a lot of other more down-to-earth questions we can answer. They are simpler.

    For example, we can tell you the best time to visit the Walt Disney World Resort. And should you really try to sneak an extra person or two into your Disney hotel room?

    And we can suggest a lot of other answers to questions you might have.

    Let’s start with the best time to visit. This is a question always near the top of the list for just about everyone.

    You may think you know the answer

    And maybe you think you already know the answer.

    But you could be wrong.

    That when-to-go issue is a good question right now because Christmas is the busiest time of the year just about everywhere -- including theme parks.

    Kids are out of school.

    Parents and those without kids love to travel now.

    We don’t recommend Disney for everyone now, however.

    Not if you really hate crowds, at least.

    Everyone, it seems, wants to be here now.

    But be aware that crowds come year-round.

    So much so that you probably read and are aware that Disney not so long ago raised admission prices.

    Disney will not admit it but there’s no doubt it was intended to actually reduce crowds.

    Disney is no fool when it comes to crowd conditions.

    They went more attendance, of course. But they also know too many people can discourage fellow visitors.

    Don’t like crowds: join the club

    Crushed crowds mean long lines for rides. Long lines to buy a turkey leg. Long waits for the Monorail.

    Perhaps worst of all: Lower levels of personal service and attention.

    Did you know that 62 million people visited Orlando last year?

    Most of them came to Disney.

    One estimate is that 50 million made it there (Disney does not give out attendance figures, so you have to guess).

    When to go?

    Our answer…please, about time.

    It depends (sorry about that)

    So the best time, we say, it depends…on you.

    We say that because crowds are smaller in the very hot (for Central Florida) summers.

    So if you are willing to get your shorts and t-shirt and open-toed scandals for more breathing room, summer is a better time to visit Disney.

    There are charts and facts and figures, and all sorts of answers on the best time to go. To avoid crowds and long waiting lines everywhere, that is.

    But the simplest answer is to go when the schools are in session.

    That does not prevent families with children. But it does discourage them and reduce their numbers.

    You can also go at Christmas, of course. But it will be crowded.

    However, the first couple of weeks in December are also good times. Crowds are thinner and the temperatures in Central Florida are cooler.

    More questions:

    Q: We’re on a budget but would like to stay at an on-site Disney Hotel? We know some Disney hotels cost upwards of $200 a night easily. Are these some economical ones?

    A: Sure. For just about $100 a night, you can book Disney’s Pop Century Resort or The All-Star Movies Resort or the All-Star Music Resort or the All-Star Sports Resort. The Pop Country has a retro feel from the 1960s the 90s. Anyone who likes movies will appreciate the All-Star Movies. It has a lot to like. All 1,920 rooms. Also, a Hockey rink pool. The Music for less than $100 has standard rooms and suites. For sports fans, also a lot to like. Almost 2,000 rooms dedicated to your athletic heroes.

    Friendly hotels…maybe not

    Q: What is a “Good Neighbor” hotel?

    A: If you have not heard of it, it usually has a ticket shop in the lobby. It sells full price tickets. Other than that, it does not mean much for you, the occupant (you can always buy full price tickets anywhere). Some of these are excellent while others are run-down and poorly run. So don’t be overly impressed with the idea of a “friendly neighbor.”

    Q: What else do we need to know about Disney resorts? And can we sneak someone in?

    A: Value resort rooms are normally equipped to sleep only four people. There are a few exceptions such as Caribbean Beach where many rooms offer a pull-out bed. Standard and deluxe rooms sleep more. So how strict is Disney about these rules? Disney enforces them whenever possible. They cite fire department rules that make them safer for you, of course. So sneak if you want but you will probably get caught.

    Q: What’s the difference between the real upscale resorts such as the Dolphin and the more affordable o- site or value hotels?

    A: Discounting themes, each hotel has its own special offerings. These include longer hours, free transportation, the ability to make better and quicker travel arrangements, various discounts and others. There are a lot of tempting perks for staying at a luxury Disney hotel. In fact, there are so many discounted advantages that you might re-consider that initial cost which becomes lower when you add up all the accompanying features.

    Q: We have a family member who has trouble walking? How far will we have to walk? And can you help?

    Walking time

    A: How far you walk varies but it is not unusual to walk anywhere from five to 15 miles, according to most estimates. You can rent an Electric Convenience Vehicle ECU while here. Walks from parking lots generally are very short, either from bus stops or tram or monorail.

    Q: We have a car and want the best place to stay on property to save walking?

    A: Almost certainly the Wilderness Lodge. Rooms, all of them, are in the main building. There is also valet parking.

    Q: We’re not renting a car…where should be stay at Disney?

    A: The most convenient hotels: the Contemporary and the Grand Floridian, both among the most expensive. The resort monorail has direct service to most places, though you have to take a bus to Animal Kingdom.

    Q: While we’re on the subject of overnight stays, what about alternatives such as vacation homes?

    A: Instead of hundreds of hotel choices, there are thousands of individual places offered by chains and individual home owners. There are also couches and other newer rental options. Houses usually offer a lot more room than hotels and help lower costs by giving access to kitchens. Ditto shared homes, though space here is seldom if ever as spacious as you will get renting an entire home. Disadvantages include transportation. They are often not on bus routes. So you will probably need a car. Other options such as sharing smaller homes or apartments with owners/occupants are often huge money savers. Don’t ever count on someone saying they are close to Disney, however. By their definition, that might mean 50 miles away (That is “close” for some). But we urge careful investigation, check references, and carefully evaluate web sites.

    Animals are welcome

    Q: What can I do about my pet Iguana?

    A: Many if not most hotels these days allow dogs and cats, and even some campsites such as Disney’s Ft. Wilderness Campground allows them. No pets can join you in the swimming pool. And you can expect in many cases to pay additional for them. But there are also organized kennels. But you can probably find a temporary home even for your type of pet.

    Q: The tipping issue. Do you tip Disney employees? Does everyone in the world expect a tip?

    A: Not really. Tipping can be very simple if you know and follow the general rules. Of course, you don’t need to tip Disney employees or even the character actors. Hopefully, they are well paid enough to live on what they make. But other rules are fairly simple. At the airport, if you arrive that way, do tip (they do expect it). That goes for anyone who handles your luggage. But otherwise, skip it. Mass transit buses and other over-the-road vehicles to get you to Disney and hotels usually have signs that no tip is necessary. So that’s up to you (if you get superior or special service, for example). A dollar a bag of luggage is standard and very acceptable. If you take a taxi, he or she may expect a tip. But that’s up to you. Tipping is for good service. So whenever you feel that is the case, think about a tip.

    Q: What is Disney’s Fast Pass Service?

    A: Quite simply, it avoids waiting in lines as an alternative to waiting at the most popular attractions. If you choose it, you insert your theme park ticket into the machine. Out comes the notice of when to return. One hour windows are normal. There is little or no wait. What’s to dislike?

    Q: Does Disney ever close…like when there are hurricane warnings or even when it rains?

    When the weather turns nasty

    A: Rain is no problem or Disney would have to close permanently (because it rains often, nearly every day, in the summer). If you hate the rain (and many find it helpful because it cools them off), indoor entertainment choices are common. As for hurricanes, a few times, but not likely.

    Q: When we visit, might some rides and attractions be shut down? And why is that?

    A: Yes, at almost any time. Particularly now that the new Star Wars is under construction. But anytime of the year, rides are shot down for inspections, or maintenance or updating. This often lasts only a few days (not so now with a new land being built). Some rides have to be shot down for weather. To give them credit, Disney usually schedules these shutdowns during slower periods. So this is also a hint for visitors looking to avoid crowds. Right after peak seasons are often a time when many rides renovate. It might well be worth of it for you to visit when some rides are shut down. There are always plenty more, after all.

    Q: We have a friend with a disability. Should we discourage him from going?

    A: No. Not at all. There are all kinds of help around. Check the DIS Board disABILITIES forum, to name just one. There are others as well.

    Q: How about special dietary needs?

    A: The Diz-Abled.com website lists menus from most Disney restaurants and other information.

    When to avoid price hikes

    Q: When does Disney raise prices so we can beat the new price of tickets?

    A: Alas, it’s like the meaning of life. We don’t know. No pattern anymore. Typically, tickets go up in price once a year. It used to be Disney did this during the first week of August. But that changed to February this year and in 2014. So when? You’ll have to guess, as we do. But one thing is sure…they will cost more

    Q: Is there a combo ticket with Universal Studios and Disney? Are they the same park?

    A: Heavens, no. Most people know that. But just to say it again: They are two separate, competing entertainment companies and theme parks. There is no combo ticket that includes both.

    Q: While we’re on the subject, are there discounts for seniors or armed forces people?

    A: Seniors, sorry. No breaks here for old age (even if they asked). As for military people, discounts are available at the Shades of Green Resort near the Magic Kingdom Park (for military personnel only).

    More ticket matters

    Q: What if we bought tickets a year ago and never used them. Still valid?

    A: Yes. Disney honors all unexpired tickets.

    Q: Are theme park tickets transferrable so I can give them to someone else for unused or remaining days?

    A: No. Once the ticket is used, no.

    Q: Do I need a ticket for the events at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex?

    A: Most events do require tickets.

    Q: It surprised me but a Canadian neighbor said she got special discounted tickets? Did she make that up or imagine it?

    A: There have been times when Disney offered various deals to Canadians on packages and even hotel rooms. But these were usually made when Canadian money had favorable exchange rates with US dollars. So don’t count on a discount…even if you are a Canadian. ###