We don’t know what Walt would have thought of Disney’s newly introduced and controversial “value” pricing. But a couple or other well-known figures had some thoughts on it.
Well, one of them was not so well known…unless you are a fan of baseball, which not so long ago started another new season.
He was baseball’s Hall of Famer “Wee Willie Keeler.”
His career batting average of almost .400 was one of the most amazing in history (yes, if you’re not a baseball follower, that means he was successful at hitting less than four times out of ten, which is a number astonishing only in that sport).
The secret of his success:
“Hit ‘em where they ain’t,” Wee Willie (so named because he was barely taller than five feet) told reporters.
The other historical American figure was known by all of us: the founding father and beloved Ben Franklin.
The American patriot-inventor and provider of practical good-living advice is credited with the phrase:
“Time is money.”
These two pieces of everyday advice are relevant these days.
Wee Willie was born in the 1870s and died in 1923.
At that time, Walt Disney was only 22 years old (he died in 1965).
While Walt was not known to be a huge baseball fan, he was a student of history. And not only knew of Franklin, but followed some of his practical advice in many ways during his lifetime.
Sorry to make you wait so long…but this has a point for you.
As you should have guessed by now, this all has to do with Disney… where a new pricing practice introduced this week aroused some shrieks of protest.
Four ball, indeed.
New tiered pricing raises howls of protest
The reason: higher prices.
And some more pricing complications.
It’s known as “tiered” or “peak” pricing or “value pricing.” Applicable during busier times.
It means single-day Disney tickets for the Magic Kingdom shot up to $124 from $105 on the park's busiest days.
That generally means Spring Break and the weeks closest to Christmas….but other times as well.
And Disney raised the prices of its multi-day tickets by up to 10 percent.
Universal, which already raised prices this year, is sure to follow eventually.
“It always does,” commented an Orlando Sentinel newspaper columnist.
It’s not a simple price structure like it is to pay $19.95 plus tax for that coffee maker at Sears or a mall store.
You have to figure out Disney ticket prices.
When to go when you get the cheapest cost for your own particular group. Requires some thinking.
But at its most basic… the pricing structure is this:
You will pay the lower park price during slow times, and vice versa: higher when everyone else wants to go there.
Airlines and others moving towards this type of pricing
It’s similar to the airlines and other industries these days.
Where if you travel when others are not, you get a concrete dollar reward:
“Hit it where they ain’t,” in other words.
So to meet the complaints and confusion, many sites are now scrambling to come up with new ways of saving money when you buy Disney World tickets.
But buying your Disney tickets is only part of the overall price, of course.
There are also hotels or other lodging, usually the second most expensive part of a trip here. And meals (seldom or should we be really honest, never cheap).
And there are the expenses of actually getting here, as well as transportation costs while here (rental cars, etc.).
So Disney Orlando tickets are just one part of your cost.
And it gets harder and harder to save money on Universal Studios tickets, LEGOLAND tickets, Busch Gardens Tampa tickets, etc.
As a matter of fact, other theme parks are expected to follow Disney’s ticket lead, as reported in the local newspaper.
So now expect to get a lot of new and (hopefully more timely) advice on how to save money on Disney tickets and other expenses, etc.
But not here.
What we are going to tell you today are not money saving suggestions. But instead, time savers (remember Ben and “time is money?”).
And while these suggestions are for saving time, most will also save you money.
And many also apply not only to Disney but also to Universal Studios (discount) tickets as well.
For purposes of this article, we’re going to skip FastPasses.
There are almost as complicated as the new value pricing structure. And there are many variables.
These all depend on individual situations.
So we’re going to leave them out here, but instead focus on some main areas of time-saving such as proper pre-park preparations, transportation, and other areas.
How to choose when to visit
When choosing your visit times, choose wisely.
Yes, it requires some more effort. Much more than it used to.
But it all pays off if you actually study it.
If lower Disney ticket or admission prices are your main concern, then consult the Disney cost structure and the calendar. Choose those dates that work best for you.
But the very first thing you should do when deciding to visit, whether this is your first time or your 40th, is do a very different study:
What to do well before you get here.
Please, we urge everyone to forget this “go with the flow” philosophy that says you’ll decide what to do when you get here.
This is obvious but sometimes forgotten.
Remember you are spending time just as you spend money in Orlando. The two go together.
So get your group together to decide on what are your own individual priorities among the many places to go.
This means not just buying Disney or Universal tickets, but also looking at other options of what to do when you’re here.
No one…and we repeat….no one…can spend all their time at Disney…
Or at least the vast majority of us, anyway.
You will have to make these choices anyway because…
…Even if you had weeks and months instead of just days to visit, you could not ride or see everything.
Do your online research.
And that’s why we say decide with your group what do to before arrival.
Communicate with them beforehand.
Actually, this is a very pleasant job when you think about it.
You can have a lot of fun anticipating what you will do…before you even get here...
What to do when you arrive here
Snap a picture of your parked cars. Does this sound simple?
Of course, because it is.
But lots of people can’t remember where they parked.
Don’t be one of them.
It’s frustrating and maddening to ask others for help in finding your car. And it’s a waste of your time.
Valuable time, too.
What to do about long lines
They are there, of course.
They’ll be there whenever you come.
But you don’t want them.
Sorry, no choice.
But you do have the chance to cut back on waiting time.
Most advice here:
Run, don’t walk to get your FastPasses. They help.
Whether it’s worth it to you?
Your choice. You’re on your own here.
We’ll assume you know how to use them to get the maximum benefit.
So that will help you in your time management (though it admittedly will cost more).
The real key is to avoid long lines and not waste your time: Come here when the kids are not visiting. The times when they are in school.
Think major holidays and peak summer seasons. Avoid them.
Try going the week before major holidays, especially the week before Thanksgiving or before major holidays.
One of your best bets is weekdays in early June, when there are plenty of college students already at work, but K-12 schools are still in session. (An added bonus: your price is less thanks to the new ticket structure).
Another hack for skipping long lines
Get in the single rider line, if you can.
Many rides have one (not always well marked, so you’ll have to hunt at times for them).
Estimates are you can save up to one third of your waiting time at these lines.
Next: after congratulating yourself on this successful early morning mission, have a strategy of going to the most popular rides first.
A simple philosophy (and far easier than figuring out the right day for the least expensive price).
No rain delays here
Also, when you wake up in the morning and it’s raining, go to Disney or a theme park, anyway.
It only takes a few showers (which there are a lot of short ones around here) for lot of would-be visitors to stay home or visit the local Altamonte Springs Mall or seek out indoor exhibits at the Orlando Science Center.
We mentioned plan ahead, didn’t we?
Be prepared in other ways.
You avoid the crowds of people waiting in line to buy something quick or waiting for their reservation to be called at busy sit-down restaurants. Eating leisurely is fine but hardly the main reason to be here.
Be prepared in other ways
So buy an umbrella and rain gear like cheap ponchos (this is not baseball where there are rain delays. Only violent or really threatening weather leads to park closings).
Pack your snacks, rain or possible chilly weather coats, water bottles, and perhaps Aspirin and vitamins and even bandages for blisters, and just about anything else you might need during the day.
Bring a hat. Even if you don’t normally wear one.
You might want it here because…it’s often hot.
And it’s hotter when you’re standing in line under the blistering summer skies of Central Florida.
And oh yes, sunscreen is as critical as your Disney ticket.
Put all this in a backpack or purse or whatever you use to carry it.
Believe us when we say there will come a time when you are grateful that you have brought along that Alka-Setzler and Aspirin tablet or two.
And for God’s sakes, wear comfortable shoes.
And clothing as well.
This is not a fashion show. And few people will even notice how you dressed for your days at Disney.
Getting around Disney…faster
First-time visitors to Walt Disney World are sometimes surprised: getting around parks, hotels, etc., is not like a walk around Orlando’s famous Eola Park (less than one mile in distance).
So you can use your own free transportation: walk.
Or use Disney’s system. Free.
Or use your rented or your own car (say you are a local).
At times, walking is best.
For example, if you’re at the Boardwalk and going to Disney’s Hollywood Studios, you can walk. It’s generally faster than the boats.
Some buses are also somewhat less crowded than others. And at times, you are really better off with not one bus, but two of them.
One good example is the Swan/Dolphin bus (which is often far less crowded with bus riders…apparently because fewer guests can afford the higher luxury end places to stay or most choose to use their cars? Who knows?)
So some buses are better than others.
Sometimes, if you rely on buses, you have to make changes. Say when going from one hotel to another or one land to another one.
Also: face it, the buses often make stops other than the ones you want. Most serve several hotels, for example.
No matter how you look at it, you might waste easily up to 30 minutes each time you take a Disney bus.
So in the end, and this may cost you more…
Driving your own car or a rental car is a faster and more flexible option.
If you are really worried about cost, think of other ways to offset them by spending less on meals or other choices. Maybe you can use that vehicle to find a cheaper meal outside of the park, as another option.
But most visitors will agree that at times, a higher cost is worth the convenience.
And this is probably one of them.
A few more quick hacks
---This is also something to do before you get here: Get maps. Don’t expect to memorize them. Print them.
Give a copy to everyone in your party.
---Think tech. Planning a strategy for attractions is becoming easier with all of the newest technology that is available for theme parks, and other tourist attractions. Use those apps, etc., to improve your experience and maximize your time here.
---At the same time, schedule some breaks. Hey: they cost you little or no money. And they also increase your enjoyment of the experience.
So what you need to know these days is how to understand the new pricing schedule, and what it means for your own visit.
As for where Ben Franklin and Wee Willie can fit into this frame, their advice offers general guidelines as part of the bigger picture…even if you are not a baseball fan.###