Hello and thank you for visiting OrlandoTastic! What started out as a top Disney World blog, OrlandoTastic is now a wonderful source of information for couples, groups and families planning an upcoming Orlando vacation. Through a vast network of theme park and attraction contacts, we’re able to bring our visitors the latest news, rumors, and stories covering just about everything in Orlando. Whether it’s a new ride at Walt Disney World, a new attraction at Universal Studios, a new restaurant opening downtown or a music festival planning a weekend concert, OrlandoTastic is happy to get the word out. And, of course, we’re always trying to partner with companies able to offer discount tickets to all the excitement. We hope you all enjoy our Disney blog, and if you have any questions, please contact us. Happy vacationing!

Friday, November 06, 2015

Disney World's Star Wars Premiere Party Sells Out Fast

Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Disney's Hollywood Studios put together a very cool "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" premiere event on December 17th.  Tickets for the event were put on sale between $94.99 and $99.99, and they sold out quick.  Lucky ticket holders will watch the movie at the AMC Disney Springs 24 theater, and then attend an after party at the Star Wars Launch Bay exhibit.  Although it's a pricey event, it's going to be a pretty cool night for Star Wars fans.  We would expect to see a lot of movie goers in full costume.  For the rest of us, we'll have to wait a few more days for the official release, on December 18th, 2015.

For fans excited to see and be a part of the new 14-acre Stars Wars Land that is coming to Disney's Hollywood Studios, there's no need to worry.  As it was first reported here, it isn't slated to open until next year.

May the force be with you...

Friday, October 23, 2015

MagicBand on Demand: Customize and Personalize Your MagicBands

Personalized MagicBands

For the last couple of years Disney World fans have been asking the same question: when will the purple MagicBand be available?  The MagicBand has been one of the biggest hits of Disney's new MyMagic+ program (details on MyMagic+ here).  With the MagicBand, guests are able to perform a bunch of cool actions, including opening their hotel room doors, making purchases through their Disney account, and accessing their FastPass+ reservations for park rides and attractions.  The one thing that has been missing though is the ability to customize and personalize the nifty bracelets that are strapped to guests' wrists throughout their vacations.

Well, not anymore...

Purple MagicBand

Inside the Magic Kingdom, head over to the Tomorrowland Power and Light Co., found right near the Space Mountain exit.  Walk up to the MagicBand on Demand station, and choose among the above 8 super cool colors, including purple!  After that, you'll have over 40 cool designs to add to your MagicBand, including Disney characters and park attractions.  Lastly, for an additional charge, you can personalize your bracelet by having your name printed on it.  Just a bit of caution here though, since sometimes the printing is done over the bracelet holes.  Pricing for a custom MagicBand is $21.95, and a personalized MagicBand is $29.95.

We're sure that a lot more customization is coming to the MyMagic+ program, and this is a great start!

Friday, October 16, 2015

Epcot's Candlelight Processional Announces This Year's Narrators

Candlelight Processional at Epcot

The Candlelight Processional is one of the most popular events at Epcot's Holidays Around the World Celebration.  What exactly is it?  Well, a host of celebrities help to retell the Christmas story, and are assisted by quite an ensemble.  If you're planning to visit the Walt Disney World Resort between November 27th, 2015 and December 30th, 2015, then you're in luck.  The event takes place every night at Epcot's America Gardens Theatre.  Each night, the show will kick off at 3 separate times; 5PM, 6:45PM, and 8:15PM.

New celebrity guests this year include Meredith Vieira, America Ferrera, Daniel Dae Kim, and Chandra Wilson.  Celebrities that are returning this year include Neil Patrick Harris, Whoopi Goldberg, Blair Underwood, Gary Sinise, Joe Morton, Ana Gasteyer, Amy Grant, and Edward Jones Olmos.

To join the Holidays Around the World Celebration at Epcot, all you'll need is a regular Disney World park admission (Epcot ticket options).  To check out when your favorite celebrity will be performing, check out the schedule below:

11/27 – 11/29 — Gary Sinise
11/30 – 12/3 — Neil Patrick Harris
12/4 – 12/5 — Whoopi Goldberg
12/6 – 12/8 — Joe Morton
12/9 – 12/11 — Ana Gasteyer
12/12 – 12/14 — Meredith Vieira – NEW
12/15 – 12/17— America Ferrera – NEW
12/18 – 12/20 — Chandra Wilson – NEW
12/21 – 12/23 — Daniel Dae Kim – NEW
12/24 – 12/26 — Edward James Olmos
12/27 – 12/28 – Blair Underwood
12/29 – 12/30 — Amy Grant

Monday, October 05, 2015

Buying Disney World Dining Reservations - Don't Do It

Disney World Dining

There's 351 restaurants found throughout the Walt Disney World Resort, and, of them, 115 accept reservations.  It seems like finding a nice spot for a fun dining experience at the end of a day shouldn't be too hard, right?  Well, as anyone who has tried in the past couple of years, it's getting quite a bit harder.  Securing a reservation at Disney World's most sought after restaurants is nothing new.  Although a bit frustrating, it wasn't much of a surprise if a last minute reservation wasn't available at Victoria and Albert's, 1900 Park Fare, or Cinderella's Royal Table.  But, with the introduction of MyMacic+, which includes online MDE (My Disney Experience) accounts, getting reservations has become a whole new ball game.  The issue is that non-Disney affiliated companies aren't playing by the rules.  They are securing dining reservations, and then turning around and selling them to vacationers that weren't able to get one on their own.  The good news?  Disney is starting to crack down on them.

MyMagic+ was recently introduced by Disney, offering a suite of technologies and services that are meant to improve and enhance a Disney vacation (click here for more info on MyMagic+).  One of those technologies is My Disney Experience, which, among other things, enables vacationers to make their dining reservations beforehand.  How far in advance?  Up to 30 days in advance, or, if you're going to be staying at a Disney property, up to 60 days in advance.  It sounds like a wonderful feature, and it can be.  But, there's always going to be people who take advantage of a good thing.

So, how are they doing this?  DiS Dining Agent was a site that was creating fake My Disney Experience accounts, booking reservations, and then selling those accounts for a price.  Or, they would create a reservation, and then give a customer the exact time when they will cancel that reservation, allowing the customer to quickly pick it up.  Fortunately, Disney has already started cracking down on these practices.  When we last checked, the website was telling its customers that they were in the process of changing their model, and that "all current customers will be receiving an email".

There are still other companies who provide services that may still fall in a gray area, but not so deep.  Disney Dining Scout and Disney Dining Buddy provide services where they won't make reservations for you, and don't have reservations to offer you, but they will monitor a restaurant where you want to dine, and notify you as soon as a reservation becomes available.

So, what do we think of all this, and what do we suggest?  Our best advice would be to plan ahead as much as you possibly can.  If you're able to start making your dining reservations 30 days out, then make sure to open your account a few days before that.  Planning your Disney World vacation, including which days you want to go to which parks, which shows you need to see, which characters you want to run into, etc., is almost just as fun an experience as the vacation itself.  And, all of this is made easier and more exciting with My Disney Experience. 

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Star Wars and Toy Story Lands Coming To Disney World

Star Wars Land Hollywood Studios

D23 is the official fan club for the Walt Disney World Company.  Every other year they have a huge event called the D23 Expo, and often it entails the announcement of new lands, attractions, and rides soon to be hitting Disney parks.  The D23 Expo 2015 event was held just a few weeks ago, and it looks like Orlando's Disney World came away the winner. 

The largest single themed land expansion in Disney history was announced, and Star Wars fans couldn't be more excited.  Star Wars Land will encompass 14 acres at Disney's Hollywood Studios, and include such attractions as putting guests in the captain's chair of the Millennium Falcon.  Perhaps best of all, Star Wars Launch Bay will open by the end of this year.

Toy Story Land will also be coming to Disney's Hollywood Studios, turning 11 acres into, what else, but Andy's backyard.  Guests will be shrunk down to the size of a toy to help explore this new world, take part in games and adventures, and even ride the family-friendly Slinky Dog roller coaster.

Below is a video of the D23 announcement.

Tuesday, September 01, 2015

Incredible Photo of Disney Castle: Can You Guess Which Park?

Disney Fireworks
Above is a spectacular photo that was submitted last night to Reddit Pics (Credit Reddit user Nvr2Much for the great photo).  Disney parks are known for a lot of things, and one of them being having some of the most extravagant and incredible fireworks shows in the World.  This picture exemplifies that statement.

The question is though, which Disney Park was this photo taken in.  Do you think you recognize that castle?  (higher res photo) If so, submit your guess:

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Busted: Disney World Tickets Fraud Ring

Disney World Tickets Fraud Alert
The Secret Service has busted a fraud ring involving Disney World tickets. Allegedly, the perpetrators were using stolen credit card information to purchase large orders of Disney tickets. How big were the orders? There was over $360,000 in fraudulent charges. What good are that many tickets to just a few people you might ask. Well, there is a re-sale industry for attraction tickets, especially Disney World theme park tickets, which are on the more expensive end of the market. So, not only were people being ripped off on the front end of this scam with their credit cards, other people were then being ripped off on the back end. Once the tickets are linked to the fraudulent charges, those tickets will be immediately voided out. (Story at Orlando's WESH.com)

This story is just another example of why you should never purchase your Disney World tickets from a private person. If the tickets were purchased legitimately, and have never been used, then that's the only scenario where you would be safe. But, is it ever worth the risk? We don't think it is. Purchase your tickets directly from the theme park, or from a 3rd party company that is established in the Orlando area, has a brick and mortar location, and has a positive and long-standing reputation with the Better Business Bureau.

A popular question we often get is why can't used tickets be bought at a discount. At first glance, it seems like a good idea. For example, say someone bought a 7 Day Park Hopper ticket, and only used 3 days. They are willing to sell you the ticket for less than half the original price. The problem is that Disney does not allow tickets to be transferred from one individual to another. To ensure people aren't doing this, they have a finger print scanning system. The first time a ticket is used the system will record the fingerprint of the individual using it. After that, only that individual will be able to use that ticket for admission.

If you're planning a Disney World vacation, then we hope we've given you some good advice. If you have any questions, please let us know!

Thursday, August 13, 2015

The Top 100 Disney World Vacation Tips.. with your help!

Top 100 Tips for a Disney World Vacation
Every site and blog has their own list of Disney World tips, tricks, and secrets to help enhance your vacation.  In fact, we've even published our own lists in the past.  And, yet, it is still one of the most popular questions we get from our visitors; "what are the top tips you can give me for our vacation?".

So, we decided to start building a definitive list, with the top 100 tips for vacationers to make the most out of their trip to Disney World's parks.  The only difference is that we're going to be building it with the help of you, our subscribers and visitors.  This list is going to be driven by vacationers, fans, and enthusiasts, from their own experiences, and then voted on.  Here are the parameters:
  • Tips can be about anything to do with a Disney World vacation, such as buying travel or admission tickets, traveling to Orlando, traveling within Orlando, dining, hotels, inside the parks, etc.
  • For the theme parks, we are limiting tips to the main 4; Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Animal Kingdom, and Hollywood Studios.
Here are a couple of tips to get us started:

  • FastPass+ - Most people don't know this, but after purchasing an admission ticket for the parks, you can start making selections (basically making time reservations for rides and attractions) as early as 30 days before you arrive. And the best part? There is no extra charge for this complimentary benefit.
  • Disney World Restaurants - If you plan on dining at WDW's amazing restaurants, and they do have some of the best restaurants in the Country, then plan on making reservations as soon as possible.  All the restaurants begin taking reservations 180 days out, BUT.. they begin taking reservations online 1 hour earlier than the phone lines open.  Have your DisneyWorld.com account set up beforehand, and ensure that you'll secure reservations at your top restaurant choices.

Below are a few of our top responses so far...
  • Do not purchase meal plans. You will find you are eating more & when you don't want to. Save your money. Keep your dining options open.
  • If you are staying on the Disney Resort, once booked, start making reservations at hard to get in restaurants right away. Theses book up fast. Even if the days are more than 6 months out you can still make reservations by having your confirmation number.
  • One of the best times for Northerners to visit Orlando is the end of August. The schools in the South are back in session and the crowds are manageable. Hotel prices can be considerably lower both on and off property.
  • For our last couple of visits, we've taken our own meals, prepared ahead of time, and cook them in a crock pot. This has saved us lots of money at the parks, and we have a nice meal waiting on us when we need a break
  • make sure your smartphone is fully charged as it is a key tool for the new Fast Pass process
  • If someone needs an electric scooter, arrange for one to be waiting for you when you arrive at your hotel. That way the person needing the scooter can enter the park on it rather than having to figure out how to get to the park to rent one on site. The hotels are very accommodating. When your vacation is over, you just leave it in the hotel lobby. Fantastic service!
  • We've rented a vacation club timeshare for about the last four years, from a third party site and the rooms cost us about half of what it would to book the same through Disney
  • Purchase a disney gift card prior to entering parks as u only need to swipe card when purchasing snacks and beverages. Keep ur wallet at home.
  • My family loves Walt Disney World Orlando. The best way to stretch your Disney dining budget is to eat breakfast or lunch at the theme parks. You can usually have a great character dining experience and pay less for breakfast or lunch than the cost of a dinner. I don't know about your family, but mine will get up early and want to start the day at Disney early. This makes a character breakfast a no brainer.
  • If you have only been to Disney World, and many times, Go To Disney Land!! Trust me on this!!
  • Rent a car so you can decide on when you arrive or depart a park. It's better than waiting for a shuttle especially at the end of the day when everyone tends to be very exhausted. You want to get to your bed as quickly as you can & on your terms.
  • Make sure if your staying at a Disney Property to ask what park opens early and stays open late just for guests staying at a Walt Disney Property.... You can get your favorite ride with little to no waiting ��
  • If you love riding the most popular rides in fantasy land, make sure you get to the park before it opens and as soon as the gates open head there. Your wait time will be minimal. We have been doing this for years.
  • If your able to, get the park hopper option. That way you can pace your theme park visits, especially if you have small children

Disney World vs. Disneyland: which is the more affordable vacation?

Disneyland in Anaheim, California was Disney's first theme park creation, but Disney World in Orlando, Florida soon followed.  The two parks sit on opposite sides of the country, and, according to Google maps, the 2,499 miles between them can be driven in 34 hours.  But, for the average family of 4 that doesn't live close to either park, which one offers the more affordable vacation?

Hipmunk, a trip and travel planning website, took on this question and delivered some interesting results.  The graphic below illustrates most of their findings.  For a larger version, please click here.

Is Disney World or Disneyland more affordable

After looking over this graphic, we offer 3 main takeaways:
  • Flights into Los Angeles are generally 1/3 more expensive than flights into Orlando
  • Tickets (admission) to Disney World are roughly 10% more expensive than tickets to Disneyland
  • The biggest price discrepancies lie in whether a family decides to stay at a Disney property, or at a non-Disney hotel.  For a family looking to save money, this is, by far, the area where the most savings can be realized.  At Disney World, vacationers can save an average of 60% by staying at a non-Disney property.  And, at Disneyland, the savings are almost 70%.
*Staying at a Disneyland property is more expensive than a Disney World property, but that's only because Disneyland offers a small handful of options, and Disney World offers 31 total properties to stay at.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Tips For An Affordable Disney World Vacation: Can It Be Done?

Cheap Disney World Vacation

Disney World might be one of the happiest and most magical places on Earth, but it’s also one of the most expensive.  From transportation to hotels and lodging, from restaurants to admission tickets, it truly can break the bank.  Each and every year, even during the recession of just a few years ago, ticket prices have gone up.  And, not just at the Walt Disney World Resort, but at most of the central Florida theme parks.  For the average family of four, a trip down to Orlando to see Mickey might not be in the cards any longer.  And that’s an absolute shame. 

Each year, however, Disney World ranks at the top of the list as the most popular theme park destination in the World.  For everyone that read this OrlandoTastic post, last year Disney World's theme parks all ranked in the top 8 on the list of the 25 most visited theme parks in the world; (1st) Magic Kingdom, (6th) Epcot, (7th) Disney's Animal Kingdom, (8th) Disney's Hollywood Studios.

So, that leaves us with one question; How do you plan a CHEAP Disney World vacation?  It’s not an easy answer, and “cheap” might not even be attainable.  However, there are definitely some strategies that can be used to make it as affordable as possible.  I’m not talking about super secret tips or anything, but just practices and advice that a seasoned veteran Disney World vacationer might offer you.  If you’re planning an upcoming trip to Disney World, here are some tips that might help you save a few dollars:

Getting to Orlando

Getting to Orlando

If you’re going to be flying to Orlando, I would suggest using an aggregate site like Kayak.  They provide pricing for a lot of the airlines, and have a predictability feature that offers advice on whether it’s a good time to buy your tickets now before prices are likely to go up, or to wait a bit for the prices to come down.  If your local airport is a hub for a particular airline not featured on Kayak, then you should also search for flights directly on that airline's web site. 

A lot of the time, it makes sense to drive your own car to Orlando, rather than fly.  If you’re traveling with more than 2 people, then it almost always makes sense to drive.  Even though gas is expensive, there are all sorts of costs involved with flying, such as transportation to and from each airport, long-term parking at your origin, paying for food while traveling, and, perhaps, renting a car once you get to Orlando.  Orlando isn’t a walking city by any means, and there is not a city transit system to take advantage of.  Unless you’re staying at a Disney property, then you’re going to have to ensure your place of lodging provides transportation to the different parks (with a decent schedule).  If you take your own car, you avoid these costs, you can pack up your car with everything you’re going to need on your vacation, including all sorts of snacks for the trip that wouldn’t make it past airport security.  And, with meals, you don't have to be limited on where you eat.  Orlando has a TON of restaurants, as you'll see below. 

Where to Stay

Orlando Vacation Rentals

When it comes to lodging, this is where Orlando offers the most options and flexibility.  Orlando is the 2nd most popular travel destination in the World (only behind Mecca).  People travel to the city for the theme parks, for the restaurants, for the sunshine, for the shopping, and for business.  The city has some of the biggest and most popular convention centers in the World.  So, where does everyone stay, and where do they go?  Using TripAdvisor.com, let’s take a quick look at Orlando by the numbers.

329 - # of Hotels
11,006 - # of Vacation Rentals
3,064 - # of Restaurants
317 - # of Things To Do

When deciding where you want to stay, the first question to ask yourself is whether or not you want to stay on the Disney World property.  There are 31 resorts at Disney World, and they offer experiences for whatever type of group you might be vacationing with.  You could get a villa at Fort Wilderness with the kids, and have a giraffe in your backyard, or be pampered with your significant other at the Grand Floridian Resort and Spa (full list of Disney World resorts here).   Some of the perks of staying on a Disney property are that they offer free pickup from the airport, free transportation to and from all the Disney parks, and sometimes early admission into the parks (before the general public).  The problem is, these resorts are often on the pricier side.

Staying in Orlando off-site of a Disney property is what most people choose to do.  Vacationers have the option of staying at a hotel (you can find both kid friendly or adult properties), at one of the incredible supply of vacation rentals (everything from 1 bedroom condos to 6 bedroom houses with a pool), or there are even campgrounds.  For many people, vacation rentals are the way to go.  After a long day in the park, it’s often nice to be able to retreat back to a place that you’re able to make home for a few days. 

  • Orlando Hotels – The best sites to check out hotels, compare hotels, and view pricing are Hotels.com and TripAdvisor.com.  When it comes time to try and negotiate a better price, I have 2 options for you.  First, it always makes sense to call the property and ask them if they have any specials or promotions going on.  Be frank with them on the phone, and tell them you are looking for a deal.  If they aren’t able to offer you anything, ask them if they can give you advice and point you in the right direction.  Second, Priceline.com is a great tool for locking in a bargain price.  Figure out where you want to make an offer, and LOW BALL them.  Even if they don’t accept your offer, they will usually respond with a competitive rate.  I suggest making offers for 1/3 of what you might see online.  Remember, there are 329 hotels in this City.  Unless you’re traveling during Christmas or school vacation week, these properties have a lot of competition.  Take advantage of that!
  • Orlando Vacation Rentals – Vacation rentals are another great lodging option, especially for families.  They generally offer more space, but provide that nice sense of “home”.  It’s likely that your days are going to be filled with theme parks, theme parks, and more theme parks, so it’s nice to have something "homey" to come back to in the evenings.  I again suggest using TripAdvisor.com to explore the many options.  But, I also suggest the site VRBO, which stands for Vacation Rentals By Owner.  The owners of these condos and houses have paid money to be featured on this site, and, again, they are competing with everyone else.  Users can contact the owners directly to ask questions about the properties, and, most importantly, negotiate a better price.  One of the great features on the site are the reviews.  If you find a place where vacationers are saying that they come back year after year, then you can be assured it’s something special. 
Where to Buy Cheap Disney World Tickets

Disney World Tickets

When it comes to buying Disney World tickets, there are a lot of dos and don’ts.  First, the don’ts:
  • Don’t EVER buy used tickets.  Disney World does not allow people to use days on a ticket, and then sell it to someone else.  How do they prevent it?  They actually use a finger print scanning system, where they’ll electronically record your fingerprint when a ticket is first used, and then look to match it each subsequent visit.
  • Don’t buy your tickets on eBay, Craigslist, or any other consumer driven website.  Although there is the possibility of receiving legitimate tickets, the risk is too great.
  • Don’t buy a ticket that offers more than you’re going to use.  For example, if you’re going to be spending 4 days at Disney World, and plan on going to each park for 1 full day, which is ideal, then do not waste your money by adding the Park Hopper option.
  • Don’t purchase tickets if they have any association with a time-share opportunity (unless you’re looking to purchase a time-share).  Although you might find a good discount, these often entail sitting in on a 3-hour or more presentation.  Talk about a vacation killer! 
Many visitors purchase their tickets directly from Disney.  Although it’s easy and convenient, there are also easy and convenient options that are less expensive.  Buying from a ticket reseller, or broker, offers additional savings below anything you would get from Disney World.  These ticket agencies buy in bulk from Disney, and in doing so receive them at a discount.  They are then able to pass along some of the savings to their customers.  And, now the Do’s:

  • Do buy tickets either directly from Disney, or from an authorized and reputable ticket broker.  Do your due diligence and make sure the company is part of Orlando’s Better Business Bureau.  If a company or website is a part of the BBB, then they’ll usually take credit for it and tell you right on their site, as well as link to their profile.  OrlandoTastic partners with and recommends DW Tickets (DWTickets) .  They have been around for over 10 years, they offer some of the better discounts online, they have a great reputation in the Orlando area, and they have an A rating with the Better Business Bureau.
  • Do some planning, and purchase the right ticket for your vacation.  Options that can be purchased with a ticket include Park Hopping (the ability to move from park to park within the same day), Water Park Fun & More (includes admissions to additional Disney parks, such as Typhoon Lagoon and DisneyQuest), or the simple base ticket (admission to 1 park per day, choosing amongst the main 4; Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Animal Kingdom, and Hollywood Studios).
  • Do make sure you’re actually receiving a discount on your ticket package.  Check out the pricing on the website you’re thinking of buying from, and then check Disney’s site (found here) to compare pricing. 
  • Do check for specials and promotions on Disney World tickets.  DW Tickets generally offers free upgrades and such, and have a promotions page here.

With the right planning, it’s possible to make a Disney World vacation more affordable.  Following this advice will not only save some money, but will also help you put together a fun and exciting trip.  Good luck!
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