Allen On Travel

A 30 year veteran of world travel (but knows nil about Orlando-area attractions), Will Allen III writes about his weekly odysseys by air on business and how the airlines rob him--and you--of time, the most precious commodity on earth. Time: It's all we have, and the airlines routinely take it from us. This blog challenges the airlines to keep their basic promises.

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Location: Raleigh, North Carolina, United States

Born 1948 in Kinston, NC and raised there in beautiful eastern North Carolina, I now live in Raleigh and commute around the country and the world.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Walt Dismal World
Part 1

Orlando Travel Infrastructure Groans Under The Crush Of Holiday Visitors

Like Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, Disney Vacation Has Its Ups & Downs

Several months ago my wife and I made the fateful decision to treat our two kids, ages 8 and 3, to a Disney World vacation over Christmas break. After doing some research, I found that the Hilton in the Walt Disney World Resort is the only non-Disney property that offers "Extra Magic Hours" to its guests. Translated, this means we could enter the Disney Parks at 7:00 AM most mornings, an hour earlier than the proletariat who are not staying at a Disney "deluxe" resort (read: rip-off, or as no less an authority than Stephen Birnbaum drolly writes in his definitive travel book, WALT DISNEY WORLD, that Disney resorts "do not always rival comparably priced accommodations in the real world").

So I checked with Hilton's Diamond Desk and found rooms available, albeit at 40,000 HHonors points per night. Gulping hard, I booked a six-night stay for an account-depleting 240,000 points.

Next we looked for air transportation--and struck out. Delta and Southwest both offer nonstop Raleigh-Orlando service, but Delta wanted $700 per ticket for the 80-minute nonstop flight (less expensive seats were available for an ATL connection). Southwest was cheaper by far, but still set me back $1200 for four tickets.

Gulping hard again, I ponied up the fare.

Lastly, I checked on Walt Disney World tickets. As every parent on earth but me knows, there are four parks at WDW: Magic Kingdom; Epcot; MGM Studios; and Animal Kingdom. My local AAA agency educated me on the ins and outs of WDW ticket options, and we settled on "Magic Your Way" tickets for two adults and two kids with no "Park Hopper" option (if you don't know, don't ask) for five days.

Total Disney ticket cost: $774. I gulped again and proffered my Amex card to the nice AAA lady.

On Christmas day I was happy to discover that I could print my Southwest boarding passes from home (24 hours before our 4:45 PM departure on the 26th).

Like good seasoned flyers we headed to RDU Airport 2 hours prior to our flight Tuesday afternoon, expecting a holiday crunch. We were not disappointed: the terminal was very crowded. With boarding passes in hand and only carry-on, however, we sailed past the Southwest counter toward the security checkpoint. On a hunch I stopped briefly to look at the departure board. And there saw our flight posted two hours late.

I'll save you the gory details, but we had just spent $40 in cab fare to get to the airport, and going back home to wait the four hours for our late flight was not a viable option. Several discussions ensued with Southwest personnel to see if alternate flights could be arranged (remember, we were on full fare, changeable tickets), but to no avail: all flights full. Our airplane was coming from Philadelphia, and like every plane having to touch base at PHL, it was horribly late.

Sidebar "unofficial" discussions with Southwest staff led to the news that 2-3 hour delays are now common on all flights passing through PHL. Since this has become their everyday norm, they have become insensitive to the interminable delays, and there was no sense of urgency to get all the families with children like us to Orlando.

In fact when I suggested we would go home and return, no matter the taxi expense, Southwest people gave us the threat heard so often but rarely realized: that if we left the boarding area and a substitute aircraft suddenly materialized, Southwest would depart without us.

Lessons learned: (1) Southwest is no better than the Big Six in getting their flights through chronically congested Northeast airports like Philly. (2) Buying full fare tickets doesn't help, either. (3) At least on AA or Delta I would have had a club in which to find solace for my family while waiting the long hours for our delayed flight. (4) Southwest doesn't care any more than any other airline whether they leave you behind if their operations personnel do a sudden switcheroo on aircraft.

In summary, we'd have been better off booking through a connection on a full service carrier than on a low cost carrier like Southwest.

Finally on the much-delayed flight, service was friendly and pleasant, but progress was slow. We arrived very late.

No apologies and no explanations for the delay from Southwest. I was reminded from start to finish in my dismal Southwest experience of my many American and Delta experiences. So why then fly Southwest? Oh yeah, to enjoy their lack of assigned seats and complete absence of special services.

Once on the ground it was well past 9:00 PM in Orlando. Following a $60 cab ride to the Hilton at Disney, the clock was striking 10:00 PM. We left our house in Raleigh at 2:30 PM. After seven and a half hours of wearing waiting and very little actual travel time, finally we were at our destination.

And our room was not ready. Incredibly, for a longtime Diamond HHonors member, our room even at 10PM was not prepared.

And the room was a standard room, not an upgrade. "Sorry, we are sold out," I was told. "Nothing on the Concierge Floor, either." (Diamond members are entitled to Concierge level upgrades.)

After I pitched a tactical nuclear weapon-grade fit, a room was found on the Concierge level after all, and we were given $100 in food credits. We repaired to the restaurant to await our room.

At 10:30 PM we were given keys, and, weary beyond belief, we trudged to our room.

Which was very, very tiny. In fact I thought maybe we had checked into a Marriott in error (Marriott is notoriously stingy in room size). The room was so small that it had two double beds, not the normal two queen beds. When I phoned to see if there had been a mistake, I was told ours was representative of all rooms at this Hilton.

When I used the key to the minibar to extract a free water (and to replace it with a voucher), I discovered the minibar had not been restocked, and in fact a previous guest's water bottle voucher was in the fridge.

Again I phoned, not wanting to be charged for minibar contents we had not consumed, and a rep came up at my request to take inventory as we were trying to get unpacked and ready for bed.

By now it was past 11:00 PM. Before climbing into bed, I closed the curtains on our beautiful view of the incessant highway I-4 traffic streaming by our window and was reminded that central Florida has one of the densest populations in the United States.


Boy, I thought, that 240,000 HHonors points was sure worth it! A tiny room with little double beds after a wait at 10 PM and with a bath sink so cramped they didn't even install a towel rack; a decimated minibar that I would surely have been charged for had I not checked it; and a gorgeous view of Interstate traffic. What more could I want?

In order to take advantage of the afore-mentioned "Extra Magic Hours" at Disney (getting in an hour early at 7:00 AM), one must take a special bus from the Hilton which leaves at 6:00 AM.

Or was it 6:30 AM, or 6:15 AM? The Hilton desk staff could not get their story straight, and two even told us that the extra hours were not available this week at all!

Since no one who worked for the Hilton could tell us definitely what time we had to catch the bus, we set our alarm clocks for 5:00 AM, figuring we'd better be ready for a 6:00 AM departure.

Yet when I awoke, exhausted, at 5:00 the next morning and called downstairs to verify the departure time, I was told the bus would not be going to the Magic Kingdom this morning, only to the Animal Kingdom. It took three more exasperated calls to hotel managers between 5:00 and 5:15 AM to determine that, yes, a bus was going to the Magic Kingdom after all, and it would leave at 6:15 AM. They thought.

You know, all I wanted in spending all this money and points was to provide my family with a magical Disney vacation. So far it was dismal, and becoming more so by the minute. You'd think the staff at a Disney resort Hilton property would know with certainty the answer to the most common question they are asked day after day: details of how to take advantage of their exclusive benefit to get to the damn Disney parks early.


The kids were tired, and so were we, but we waited patiently for the 6:15 bus, which in due time delivered us to the Magic Kingdom. At 7:00 AM we were admitted, and as planned, excitedly rushed to Adventureland to take the Pirates of The Caribbean Cruise (so popular it is not a "FastPass" ride).

And were met by a Disney "Cast Member" who told us the Pirates ride didn't open until 8:00 AM. Which is the time every person on earth can get in. So why did we get there early?

Though many of the attractions were not yet open at 7:00 AM, many more did let us in, and the kids had a great time, and between seven and eight, we did not stand in long lines.

But as the morning wore on, the crowds bore down on Disney. By midday three of the parks were completely full and not accepting more people. Only Epcot was still open.

We can attest to the fullness. By 2:00 PM the streets of the Magic Kingdom were almost at a standstill, so crowded that no one could move. Even the boring "It's A Small World" exhibit was posting a three hour wait time, and "FastPass" rides like "Peter Pan" were asking people to come back after 7:00 PM.

We beat a hasty retreat back to the hotel, thinking to take advantage of the snacks in the Hilton Concierge Lounge and take a nap. But due to a long wait for the bus, it was not so hasty. In fact it took close to an hour.

With my wife trying to nap, I took the kids and moseyed down to the Concierge Lounge for some Sprite and cookies. I was shocked to find the lounge dirty, a complete shambles. Garbage and used plates, cups, and glasses were everywhere.

I asked the twenty-something Concierge lady where I could find lids for the Styrofoam coffee cups to prevent spills by my three year old, and I guess I interrupted her personal cell call. Holding her hand over the mouthpiece, she petulantly informed me that the hotel had run out of lids and did not expect to get any more in. Never ever? I asked. Frowning, she said it wasn't her job to know.

Well, I wondered as I turned away from this unhelpful soul, what on earth IS your job then? Certainly not providing even a smidgen of advice or knowledge about the hotel and the Disney Parks, I guessed.

A later visit to the Lounge proved to be a reprise of the first experience.

So after 24 hours into my first experience getting to, being accommodated in, and living the Disney experience, I am thinking it's more dismal than magical.

And why? Though the Disney World "Cast Members" do a great job of smiling, being chipper and upbeat, and wishing everyone a "magical day," the sheer weight of numbers overwhelms even the great Disney machine. The sold-out stampede of bodies here at the Hilton certainly has shredded their ability to keep up appearances and normal standards.

One long-time Hilton staff member confided to me this evening, when I asked when would be the best time to come to avoid the crowds, that she grew up here and has been to Disney World, many times over the years. And she cannot recall a time when she did not have to wait in long lines everywhere.

This is not my idea of paradise; frankly, it's closer to the opposite end of the spectrum. Though we are committed for these five days, I know already that we will not be back. No more of our dollars will flow here; there is little or no value or enjoyment for the prices paid.

More about the experience in Part 2 next week.

11 Comments:

Blogger Maggie said...

Several months ago my wife and I made the fateful decision to treat our two kids, ages 8 and 3, to a Disney World vacation over Christmas break. After doing some research, I found that the Hilton in the Walt Disney World Resort is the only non-Disney property that offers "Extra Magic Hours" to its guests. Translated, this means we could enter the Disney Parks at 7:00 AM most mornings, an hour earlier than the proletariat who are not staying at a Disney "deluxe" resort (read: rip-off, or as no less an authority than Stephen Birnbaum drolly writes in his definitive travel book, WALT DISNEY WORLD, that Disney resorts "do not always rival comparably priced accommodations in the real world").

Umm.....I have to say that for such a seasoned traveler, you didn't do your homework on this trip very well at all. For FREE, you could have visited a number of reliable unofficial websites regarding travel to WDW to find that your translation is wrong. If you were to have checked out Extra Magic Hours, you would have seen that guests at ANY of the WDW resort hotels, owned by Disney, not just the "Deluxe Resorts",as well as guests of the Fort Wilderness Campgrounds, and the Hilton hotel that is not owned by Disney are all eligible for Extra Magic Hours.
Please feel free to back this up with a quick search on this topic at www.allearsnet.com www.wdwinfo.com www.disboards.com www.magictrips.com and many many more sites that would have also told you that CHRISTMAS IS THE BUSIEST TIME OF YEAR AT WDW. This is why they charge more and call it "Holiday Season" in terms of their rates tier.

12/30/2006 9:18 AM  
Blogger Maggie said...

Lastly, I checked on Walt Disney World tickets. As every parent on earth but me knows, there are four parks at WDW: Magic Kingdom; Epcot; MGM Studios; and Animal Kingdom. My local AAA agency educated me on the ins and outs of WDW ticket options, and we settled on "Magic Your Way" tickets for two adults and two kids with no "Park Hopper" option (if you don't know, don't ask) for five days.

Total Disney ticket cost: $774. I gulped again and proffered my Amex card to the nice AAA lady.


Ok, for future referrence, do not use AAA to plan a WDW vacation! While some of them claim to be Disney specialist and really do know what they are doing, MOST DO NOT!
Park Hopper Passes are a MUST for touring WDW during the time of year that you went. It makes no sense for an onsite guest that plans on using Extra Magic Hours to stay in that park all day and be trapped with the masses. Get in, enjoy EMH and get out! Otherwise, you are wasting your TIME and MONEY!
AAA stinks at Disney travel advice.

12/30/2006 9:23 AM  
Blogger Maggie said...

Once on the ground it was well past 9:00 PM in Orlando. Following a $60 cab ride to the Hilton at Disney, the clock was striking 10:00 PM. We left our house in Raleigh at 2:30 PM. After seven and a half hours of wearing waiting and very little actual travel time, finally we were at our destination.

Here is where I pitch the value of staying onsite. 8-)
Disney's Magical Express is a FREE service for WDW resort hotel guests. They send you luggage tags, you attach the tags, you fly, you board their comfortable bus, you check into the hotel, you get your bags delivered in a matter of a couple of hours. When you leave, provided that you are flying on a contracted airline, like Delta, your bags are not for you to touch again until you reach your home airport. I love this service.

12/30/2006 9:30 AM  
Blogger Maggie said...

And our room was not ready. Incredibly, for a longtime Diamond HHonors member, our room even at 10PM was not prepared.

And the room was a standard room, not an upgrade. "Sorry, we are sold out," I was told. "Nothing on the Concierge Floor, either." (Diamond members are entitled to Concierge level upgrades.)

After I pitched a tactical nuclear weapon-grade fit, a room was found on the Concierge level after all, and we were given $100 in food credits. We repaired to the restaurant to await our room.

At 10:30 PM we were given keys, and, weary beyond belief, we trudged to our room.

Which was very, very tiny. In fact I thought maybe we had checked into a Marriott in error (Marriott is notoriously stingy in room size). The room was so small that it had two double beds, not the normal two queen beds. When I phoned to see if there had been a mistake, I was told ours was representative of all rooms at this Hilton.

When I used the key to the minibar to extract a free water (and to replace it with a voucher), I discovered the minibar had not been restocked, and in fact a previous guest's water bottle voucher was in the fridge.

Again I phoned, not wanting to be charged for minibar contents we had not consumed, and a rep came up at my request to take inventory as we were trying to get unpacked and ready for bed.

By now it was past 11:00 PM. Before climbing into bed, I closed the curtains on our beautiful view of the incessant highway I-4 traffic streaming by our window and was reminded that central Florida has one of the densest populations in the United States.

Boy, I thought, that 240,000 HHonors points was sure worth it! A tiny room with little double beds after a wait at 10 PM and with a bath sink so cramped they didn't even install a towel rack; a decimated minibar that I would surely have been charged for had I not checked it; and a gorgeous view of Interstate traffic. What more could I want?


I bet you would have slept much better at any of Disney's Deluxe resorts. Yes, you would have paid more, but trust me, they know service. Oh, and if you had used Magic Express, your room would have been reserved for you at the time you checked in with them at the airport. And, if you had wanted concierge level, during this busiest time of year at WDW, PAY FOR IT! Don't expect freebies during the busiest travel season of all!

12/30/2006 9:35 AM  
Blogger Maggie said...

Yet when I awoke, exhausted, at 5:00 the next morning and called downstairs to verify the departure time, I was told the bus would not be going to the Magic Kingdom this morning, only to the Animal Kingdom. It took three more exasperated calls to hotel managers between 5:00 and 5:15 AM to determine that, yes, a bus was going to the Magic Kingdom after all, and it would leave at 6:15 AM. They thought.

You know, all I wanted in spending all this money and points was to provide my family with a magical Disney vacation. So far it was dismal, and becoming more so by the minute. You'd think the staff at a Disney resort Hilton property would know with certainty the answer to the most common question they are asked day after day: details of how to take advantage of their exclusive benefit to get to the damn Disney parks early.


Again, if you had stayed onsite, you would have had access to bus service an hour before each park, each water park, and DTD opened. Staying offsite comes with some major drawbacks! Transportation being a big one.
Oh, and why in the world with such a late arrival would you choose to start off your WDW park touring so early? You would have been much better off to have slept in and gone to a great breakfast at Kona Cafe over at the Poly and then hit the parks. My favorite CM/Waitress, Beverly, would have spoiled you rotten and made the day a whole lot brighter.

12/30/2006 9:40 AM  
Blogger Maggie said...

The kids were tired, and so were we, but we waited patiently for the 6:15 bus, which in due time delivered us to the Magic Kingdom. At 7:00 AM we were admitted, and as planned, excitedly rushed to Adventureland to take the Pirates of The Caribbean Cruise (so popular it is not a "FastPass" ride).

And were met by a Disney "Cast Member" who told us the Pirates ride didn't open until 8:00 AM. Which is the time every person on earth can get in. So why did we get there early?


Again, your poor planning did you in. Don't blame others for your lack of attention to detail. Below, you will find information from the www.allearsnet.com website. It's FREE. If you had done just the basics of Disney planning you could have seen that Pirates is not on the morning EMH list. Adventureland opens about an hour after the rest of the park because most people tend to head straight for Fantasyland and Dumbo first thing in the morning and Disney knows that it can save money on staffing in the least populated part of the park at that time.
One more thing, below the EMH attractions guide, you will see a list of all the rides at WDW that offer FastPass. If the ride offers FP, it's usually a high volume ride. Pirates is popular, but not so much that it is worthy of FP.
Attractions open during MORNING Extra Magic Hours
Magic Kingdom:
Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger Spin
Cinderella's Golden Carrousel
Dumbo the Flying Elephant
"it's a small world"
The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh
Mickey's PhilharMagic
Peter Pan's Flight
Space Mountain
Stitch's Great Escape
Tomorrowland Indy Speedway
Epcot:
Living with the Land
Mission: SPACE
Soarin'
Spaceship Earth
Test Track
Disney-MGM Studios:
Muppet*Vision 3-D
Rock 'n' Roller Coaster
Star Tours
The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror
Animal Kingdom:
Dinosaur
Expedition Everest
It's Tough to be a Bug
Kilimanjaro Safaris
Pangani Forest Exploration Trail
Primeval Whirl
TriceraTop Spin
Attractions open during EVENING Extra Magic Hours
Magic Kingdom:
Big Thunder Mountain Railroad
Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger Spin
Cinderella's Golden Carrousel
Dumbo the Flying Elephant
Haunted Mansion
"it's a small world"
Magic Carpets of Aladdin
The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh
Mickey's PhilharMagic
Peter Pan's Flight
Pirates of the Caribbean
Space Mountain
Splash Mountain
Stitch's Great Escape
Tomorrowland Indy Speedway
Dining Locations

· Casey's Corner
· Cosmic Ray's Starlight Cafe
· Pecos Bill Cafe
Epcot:
American Adventure
El Rio del Tiempo
Honey I Shrunk the Audience
Journey into Imagination with Figment
Living with the Land
Maelstrom
Mission: SPACE
The Seas with Nemo & Friends
Soarin'
Spaceship Earth
Test Track
Kidcot Fun Stops until 11 p.m.
Dining Locations
· Bistro de Paris
· Boulangerie Patisserie (France)
· Cantina de San Angel (Mexico)
· Chefs de France (France)
· Electric Umbrella (Future World)
· Harry Ramsden (United Kingdom)
· Kringla Bakeri Og Kafe (Norway)
· L'Originale Alfredo di Roma Ristorante (Italy)
· Lotus Blossom Café (China)
· Mitsukoshi Restaurant Teppanyaki Dining (Japan)
· Outpost
· Refreshment Port
· Rose & Crown Pub & Dining Room
· San Angel Inn (Mexico)
· Sommerfest (Germany)
· Sunshine Seasons (The Land)
· Tangierine Cafe (Morocco)
· Yakitori House
Disney-MGM Studios:
The Great Movie Ride
Muppet*Vision 3D
Rock 'n' Roller Coaster
Star Tours
Tower of Terror
Voyage of the Little Mermaid
Dining Locations
· Catalina Eddie's
· 50's Prime Time Cafe
· Sci-Fi Dine In Theater
· Rosie's All-American Cafe
Animal Kingdom:
Dinosaur
Expedition Everest
Festival of the Lion King
It's Tough to be a Bug
Kali River Rapids (Seasonal)
Kilimanjaro Safaris (closes early)
Primeval Whirl
TriceraTop Spin
Dining Locations
· Flame Tree Barbecue - Closes at 8 p.m.
· Pizzafari - Closes at 8 p.m.
· Rainforest Cafe
· Restaurantosaurus
· Tusker House
Last Updated 12/22/06

What attractions are FASTPASS Attractions?
ANIMAL KINGDOM
Dinosaur - DinoLand USA
Expedition Everest - Asia - FASTPASS HIGHLY RECOMMENDED
Kali River Rapids - Asia
Kilimanjaro Safaris - Africa
It's Tough to Be a Bug - Tree of Life
Primeval Whirl - Chester and Hester's Dino-Rama
MAGIC KINGDOM FASTPASS RECOMMENDED FOR ALL AVAILABLE MAGIC KINGDOM ATTRACTIONS
Big Thunder Mountain Railroad - Frontierland
Buzz Lightyear - Tomorrowland
Jungle Cruise - Adventureland
Mickey's PhilharMagic - Fantasyland
Peter Pan's Magic Flight - Fantasyland
Space Mountain - Tomorrowland
Splash Mountain - Frontierland
Winnie the Pooh - Fantasyland
DISNEY-MGM STUDIOS
Indiana Jones
Rock N Roller Coaster - FASTPASS RECOMMENDED
Star Tours
Tower of Terror - FASTPASS RECOMMENDED
Voyage of The Little Mermaid
EPCOT
Soarin' - FASTPASS HIGHLY RECOMMENDED
Honey, I Shrunk the Audience
Test Track - FASTPASS HIGHLY RECOMMENDED
Living with the Land
The Maelstrom
Mission: SPACE - FASTPASS RECOMMENDED

12/30/2006 9:53 AM  
Blogger Maggie said...

But as the morning wore on, the crowds bore down on Disney. By midday three of the parks were completely full and not accepting more people. Only Epcot was still open.

We can attest to the fullness. By 2:00 PM the streets of the Magic Kingdom were almost at a standstill, so crowded that no one could move. Even the boring "It's A Small World" exhibit was posting a three hour wait time, and "FastPass" rides like "Peter Pan" were asking people to come back after 7:00 PM.


You went at the busiest time of the year! Of course it's going to suck.

12/30/2006 9:56 AM  
Blogger William A. Allen III said...

Maggie, thank you for your many, many great suggestions, all good ones and spot on.

This episode in my life has certainly made me famous--or, rather, infamous. I have had to laugh at myself for the sheer ignorance and unwillingness to properly plan for this vacation as I normally have for much more complicated ones to distant places.

Truth is, I avoided this place my entire life and never wanted to know anything about it.

The good news is that our kids have thoroughly enjoyed it, blissfully ignorant of the travails in the background. And that's all I care about it now.

Thank you again very, very much for your comments.

12/30/2006 4:16 PM  
Blogger ttulea said...

Allen,

I do think that research is key to any trip to a Disney. The Unofficial Guide and the online resources maggie mentioned are very, very helpful.

I think your blog highlights the mistakes many if not most people make when making their first trip to a Disney Resort. Surprising, since you are seasoned travel, but not at all out of the norm. The trip reports on www.disbords.com have many stories similar to yours.

I think most people feel it is just a theme park not another country with a different culture - so how much planning could it really take? Anybody who goes at peak season soon learns how a little planning can go a long way.

12/31/2006 12:39 PM  
Blogger Simon said...

Allen,

I think you need to do some more research before you make a major decision to go to Disney World. Especially during Christmas.

Here are some rules that I always follow:

1.) Stay on-site
2.) Get Park Hopper
3.) Get Fast Passes early in the morning
4.) Always check my flight before I leave home
5.) RESEARCH ONLINE!

-Simon

2/26/2007 10:15 PM  
Anonymous Brad (Chicago, IL) said...

Mr. Allen:

I just found this blog post -- these Disney fans jumped down your throat pretty good, didn't they?!? Hahaha. I'm also a Disney fan, to the extent that I own a time share with them (Disney Vacation Club). I grew up in South Florida and have taken many, many trips. I also am a seasoned business traveler, like you. I want to comment on a couple things. First, if you ever choose to go back again, you may want to check out some of the special deals Disney runs from time to time. If you go in a month like September, crowds are much lighter, which eliminates many of your frustrations -- but more importantly, you can land the nice Disney hotels at a very reasonable rate. Values go as low as $59/night, moderates as low as $99 or $109, and I have even seen deluxe resorts for 40% (or more) off the already low September rates. Even better -- from time to time, you can get a one bedroom deluxe villa for $109/night if you take a tour of the DVC via a referral by a member. No matter what you choose, these crazy fans are right about staying on property. There's definitely some magic to it. But I have also found that if you are only going for park time and not for relaxing resort time, it is often best to get a hotel for cheap on Priceline and rent a car. Everyone says the Magical Express & Disney transportation is best, but it's not the most efficient use of your time. Reserve a car rental early and avoid the long bus waits. You can zip from park to park and park to resort in no time! Just my 2 cents. Hope you get to go back some time & do it right! RENT A CAR. Did I mention that yet?

8/03/2009 2:10 AM  

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