Special Event Tickets: Buy your tickets for your desired event on the desired night as soon as Disney allows you to purchase the tickets. I would love to go to Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party on Halloween night, but tickets for Halloween night sold out within hours of being released. The tickets are posted for sale around 4 months before the event starts. Historically speaking, tickets for both events are released on or around June 1st.
Seven Dwarfs Mine Train: While the ride is fun, the cars were not constructed very well for leg comfort. If you have knee issues, have had knee surgery and/or don't bend them well, you may want to reconsider going on the ride. It's not just the cars themselves, either. They're snug, but the tightness occurs when you pull the safety bar towards you. Both legs are squished in between the two bars. Men (including young men in their late teens) are complaining about their favorite parts being squished when the bar is put into place and many people of all different sizes including small teenagers find it to be a little too snug. Perfect description: An adult trying to get into a child's ride.
Airport Arrival Tip: Regardless of what airline you fly on into Orlando, head towards baggage claim and go to TERMINAL B. Go down to the first floor and find cast members at the end of the terminal (rental car counters would be on your right as you walk to the end of the terminal). Have your MagicBands ready! They will be scanned twice, told which line to wait in and then scanned, again, before you board Disney's Magical Express.
Forget a medication: If you forget to bring a medication, have no fear, call your doctor for an emergency prescription to be called into Turner Pharmacy or WalGreens. Technically, the resort sent me to Turner Pharmacy, who delivers the prescription directly to the resort. When I called them to give them insurance and resort info, I was told they do not accept insurance and it's up to me to get reimbursed from the insurance company when I got home. I didn't care, because in this situation, getting the prescription is more important than anything else. Our doctor called in a prescription, but Turner did not carry this particular prescription so our doctor chose a WalGreens in the vicinity. When I called that particular WalGreens after the doctor called with that information, thankfully, we found out they have a company that delivers to the resort. There is a charge, but, once again, I didn't care. We just needed the medication. Warning: Because we were not due to obtain a refill, we paid out of pocket for the few pills to get us through until we got home.
Great Ride for the Blind: I learned that blind guests love to go on the Tomorrowland Speedway, because it's the only place in the world they're able to drive independently.
Be Our Guest Restaurant: Many restaurants and activities are now starting to recommend advance reservations or require reservations. If you've tried to get reservations to Be Our Guest, you know how impossible it is. We managed to score reservations at 8:40pm just a couple days before our check-in date. We were waiting for the crowds to swarm in once we arrived at the restaurant, but nothing. No one waiting and many, many tables open. This is because they keep some tables open for people to walk up and get a table. Not all tables are for reservations. So, just because you didn't manage to score a reservation time, doesn't mean you can't get a table. You're just more apt to get in without any problems if you go later than the normal eating times. Use my scheduled time of reservation as a reference as to when the best time to walk-up would be, because this restaurant was practically empty according to Disney standards.
Gum: Yes, Walt Disney World is filled with candy, desserts, sugar, sugar, SUGAR, but you cannot purchase gum anywhere in Walt Disney World. You know how we all love the cleanliness of WDW. Avoiding one of the worst offenders this world has with poorly disposed trash is the best way to help control something that is not so easy to clean up. If you decide to bring your own gum to the parks, please be sure everyone in your vacation party makes the responsible decision to throw it away in a trash can. I know I don't like to step in it.
Annual Passes: I purchased annual passes for my son and his girlfriend recently. Normally, it appears that the person who buys the tickets must be present when the tickets are first used. Well, that's not going to happen. I'm in Maine! Even though one pass was an annual renewal, Disney also would not allow them to use my credit card. I had to call Disney directly. We were told that if I buy the tickets over the phone, the tickets get mailed to me and then I mail the tickets to the recipients. Upon first use, the recipients state the tickets were gifts. Simple, right? Guess what? Within 48 hours, that plan changed. I didn't receive the tickets in the mail, yet, and the recipients wanted to go to the parks over the holiday weekend. Time to make more phone calls! Disney said they are able to get my permission to add one of the ticket holders' name as the person to pick up the tickets at the theme parks in person. The one "approved" person and the recipients merely need their valid ID's to pick up the tickets. My question was, "can't you just add everything to their MagicBands?" Yes, they can, but you still need to go to customer service. Even though the tickets have already been linked to your My Disney Experience account, it doesn't mean it's on your MagicBand. My son has a MagicBand, but he didn't have an MDE account, yet. Now he has a MDE account. How do we get the MB hooked up to the MDE account?! In any case, the best process is for each person to have their own MDE account and bring your MB to customer service when you pick up your tickets. If the recipient does not have a MB, yet, it will be issued at that time. The ultimate, best process is to have all of it done days or weeks before you first need the tickets, but when you need the tickets for a last minute trip to the "Happiest Place on Earth", just remember that there is a way. Don't give up or think there's no way, because there is a way.
Memory Maker versus PhotoPass: Some annual passes include photopass now. Photopass is good for the year of the annual pass. Memory Maker is good for the 45 days after the trip. But, with just photopass, if the annual passholder is not with someone for a picture, (on a ride, with photographer, etc.) their picture will not be loaded to the photopass. You simply touch your MagicBand to the picture at the end of the ride in order to load it to the Passholder's Photopass account as long as you are on their reservation. Memory Maker works the same way now. The Annual Passholder with Photopass does not have to scan their MagicBand after every ride. As a cast member said "The picture will automatically upload" and she was right. I tested it with one of my pictures and it was there. Photopass used to be different, but with the new annual passes including Photopass, Disney changed Photopass to be just like Memory Maker except Photopass pictures are downloadable longer.
Festival of The Lion King: Be sure your entire party is with you when you go to stand in line for this show. People are not allowed to join you in line after you have been standing in line, anymore. The entire group must be together at all times. If part of your group walks up without you, they have to stay at the end of the line. It doesn't matter if you're in the regular line, FastPass line or wheelchair line. No one is allowed to join other people already in line so plan accordingly.
Park Hours: Just because you checked the park hours when they were first released, does not mean they are the same by the time you get there. For the first time I have ever seen, the times changed adding hours to open earlier and stay open later in order to alleviate Disney's expectation for a busy week. In fact, they opened Epcot earlier without posting it! We arrived at 8:45am to wait for the 9am opening at Epcot and it was already open. It had been for quite a while. Instead of the usual "Extra Magic Hours" of 8am opening time at Magic Kingdom, it was changed to 7am. This messed up my plan of walking on Main Street, U.S.A. with no crowds on our way to breakfast before the park opens to the public, but we were able to get on more rides with minimal wait time than anticipated. All of the parks had earlier opening and later closing times than they originally posted. It was awesome!
FastPasses/Standby Times: Be sure to look at the Standby wait time before you enter the FastPass line. Here's why: We had Pirates of the Caribbean FastPasses and were about to enter when we saw the Standby line was only 5 minutes. We opted to go in the Standby line (no scanning of MagicBands) and change our FastPass selection to a different ride with a longer wait time on the My Disney Experience app on our smartphones. Score!!
Ride Shutdown/Fastpasses: When a ride shuts down unexpectedly the day you are at the park that you have fastpasses for, Disney sends you an email advising you of the ride being temporarily unavailable and provides 2 options. 1. If the ride becomes available later, you have up until the park closes to use your fastpasses. Or, 2. they give you a selection of other rides to choose from beginning at your scheduled fastpass time and can use until the park closes. TIP: This happened to me twice recently. I chose option 1. I kept my fastpasses hoping Test Track would reopen some time during that day. As you all know, there are tiers at Epcot and Hollywood Studios. We can't book or schedule fastpasses for Test Track, Soarin' or Frozen Ever After, because they're all in Tier 1. BUT, I picked up on a pattern. When Test Track closed, Disney removed the fastpass from My Disney Experience, which allowed me to book Soarin' for the next available time even though I still had an "open fastpass" for Test Track. (Frozen had nothing available.) Keep that in mind next time you have a fastpass while at a park and the ride shuts down.
Food and Wine Festival: When a storm is in the area, it is raining and/or within minutes after a storm, F&W vendors are not allowed to use credit card machines or MagicBands for purchases due to safety reasons. Only cash is accepted. This lasted for over 2 hours when we were there September, 2016.
Disney Vacation Club Member Tip: Points can shift to more popular days from one year to the next. You looked at this year's points book and just when you thought you had plenty of points for your next year's trip on a particular week, you see the new book and points shifted. You discover you're short 3 points. What? Don't fear! Call DVC to discuss buying some points as a "one-time use per year". You can buy up to 24 points one time per year.
Shipping to Resort: If shipping items (UPS and FedEx) to your resort to be there upon your arrival, keep in mind they do NOT deliver on the weekends. Even if the arrival says Friday, be careful and consider package arrival a day or two earlier. People have shipped with an expected arrival of Friday, but the shipping company had a delay and it didn't arrive until Monday. Remember that Disney now charges $5/package that is mailed to the resort. (Not including groceries delivered by a grocery company. Only items shipped/mailed.)
For the ostomates who will be riding Pandora's Flight Of Passage, it has been brought to my attention that there could be issues. The ride itself squeezes your tummy and legs. Nothing really tight but in a rubbing type of fashion. I thought you'd want to be aware of this and make sure your appliance is prepared for this situation. If you have any other questions, please go to All Access Disney Group by clicking here and ask Carlena F. Or, ask Admin to put you in touch with her. Thank you, Carlena, for the information.
Spending Limit: Each resort has a limit on spending that can be billed to your room. The limit depends on the resort. Sometimes, there are mishaps, because, as we all know, Disney is not perfect. I tried to buy something for $10.05 and was told I was over my spending limit. This was my first purchase at this resort so I knew something was wrong. Thankfully, we still carry our credit card with us. We have to carry our Annual Passholder cards, Disney Vacation Club Membership cards and ID's to prove those cards belong to us for discounts so why not carry the credit card?! (Especially, if it gives us a discount, because it's a Disney Chase card.) Upon inquiring about the spending limit at the resort, there was a snafu where someone inputted a $2.00 limit instead of $2,000 limit. So, be sure to ask your resort what the limit is or simply carry the credit card with you that the resort would be charging, anyway. It's better to be safe than sorry.
Resort parking: Some resorts have valet attendants. Some resort parking is quite a distance away from the lobby. For the resorts where you must walk through the lobby to get to your room, the walk can be quite daunting with a lot of luggage, bags, etc., but especially for those with handicaps. At this time, valets charge $25/day (plus tip), but for people who have a handicap placard, valet is complimentary (not the tip). Be sure to bring tip money. Upon arrival, it was so convenient to hand out $5's and $10's to Bell Services to take the luggage and/or groceries and to the Valet attendants.
Bugs/leg rash: For those of you wondering what the rash is above your sock line on your legs that progressively gets worse the longer you are in Disney, it's a skin reaction to the "no-see-um" bug bites. Some people don't have any reaction at all, but everyone gets bitten by these bugs. Through the process of elimination, I found that if you don't put lotion on your legs, the rash is not as prominent. In the summer, it's brutal. The fall? A little less, but I've had them bite through my pants assuming because they are thin, because they can't bite through the socks. In January, they were non existent. Obviously, weather plays into the factor on how bad they are present/biting and how bad your rash will be. Keep in mind that when I was just there in January, it was a very cold week. So, the bugs could be somewhat active if the weather is warmer in January. The rash does go away within 2 weeks after you return home. It's not itchy, but it's, certainly, not pretty. I will now be bringing a bug spray specifically to stop the bites. I'll let you know how the bug spray works after my next trip to Walt Disney World.