Ultimate Guide to Walt Disney World Vacation Questions
When first-time visitors research a Walt Disney World trip, they have plenty of questions. I previously answered the basic ones about the Orlando campus. Now, I want to go into greater detail about the inner workings of Walt Disney World visits. Here are answers to frequently asked Walt Disney World vacation questions.
What Are Magic Bands?
A few years ago, The Walt Disney Company introduced Magic Bands, the culmination of years of work. Disney hired a technology company to create an interactive wearable. Executives wanted to reduce the amount of items guests would need for a park visit.
The Magic Band proves that Disney achieved that goal. With this wearable bracelet, you can enter the parks, pay for food and merchandise, and enter your hotel room. It’s an impressive device that feels light as a feather but relieves you of a lot of stress.
You don’t need to search your purse/wallet for credit cards and admission tickets. Instead, you tap your Magic Band at kiosks and touchpads. The technology does all the work. It’ll decide whether you want to pay for something, unlock a door, or show your park admission. Disney has named Magic Bands accurately.
What Is Park Hopper?
Walt Disney World consists of four different theme parks. Some guests want to visit multiple parks on the same day. A standard Disney admission ticket only applies to a single park. So, you can visit one park in one day.
Park Hopper expands your options. When you add this feature to your admission ticket, you gain the ability to switch parks. You can start the day at Magic Kingdom but then head over to Epcot’s World Showcase for lunch. Then, you can spend the afternoon at Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge and wind down at Disney’s Animal Kingdom after dark, a breathtaking finish to a park day.
Now, I’m not saying that you should plan such an ambitious itinerary. However, Park Hopper does entitle you to visit as many parks as you want during a given day. You can leave any of them and come back as many times as you wish. So, I strongly recommend Park Hopper to anyone who wants to maximize a Walt Disney World vacation.
What Are FastPasses?
Many years ago, park planners recognized that lines represented the greatest threat to the Happiest Place on Earth. Disneyland introduced the FastPass system as a clever way to curtail the problem.
A FastPass is kind of like having an imaginary runner in backyard baseball. For those of you unfamiliar with the concept, it’s when you don’t have enough players for someone to stand on one of the bases. The imaginary runner represents the baserunner.
With FastPass, you have an imaginary runner who stands in line for you. While you’re somewhere else, your FastPass waits for you. Once it’s your turn, you walk over to the FastPass line, which is much shorter than the standard one. So, you save plenty of time by not waiting in line excessively.
The FastPass system effectively enables you to stand in two places at once: the place where you actually are and the ride that you intend to visit. Walt Disney World employs the FastPass+ system, which gives you up to three digital FastPasses registered to your Magic Band.
You have a one-hour window to ride the attraction for which you have a FastPass. Thanks to the system, you’ll have plenty of time to experience your favorite attractions at your own pace. FastPasses are absolutely amazing, and you should use them as often as you can.
What Is the Walt Disney World Dining Plan?
Do you know how your mall’s food court features several restaurants? Well, you could combine all of the mall food courts within four hours of you, yet you still wouldn’t have as many meal choices as you’ll discover at Walt Disney World.
The Orlando campus hosts more than 200 restaurants. How many is that? Well, you could spend two full months at Walt Disney World, eating three meals a day there. You still would never have to eat at the same place twice.
With so many dining options, Disney wants to relieve guests of any potential budget stress. The Disney Dining Plan provides you with up to three daily food entitlements. You simply exchange an entitlement for a meal. Yes, it’s that easy.
Your meal will include an entrée, a beverage, and a dessert. In other words, it’s a complete dining experience that will sate your hunger. Some dining plans are better than others and may even include an appetizer.
All other things being equal, you should get the Disney Dining Plan. It reduces the stress of your vacation. You won’t pay for meals as you go along. Instead, you exchange entitlements for meals, a much more efficient system. It’s almost like the olden days of bartering.
How Much Is the Disney Dining Plan and Do I Need It?
Here’s the more complicated discussion. The Disney Dining Plan (DDP) comes in three forms. The Quick Service Disney Dining Plan costs the least. It provides the guest with two meals per day at Disney’s Quick Service restaurants, counter service places with grab-and-go offerings. For 2019, this plan costs adults $52.50 plus tax per day, while children ages 3-9 pay $23.78. Well, their parents pay, but you get the point.
The standard DDP provides one Quick Service and one Table Service meal per day. Table Service restaurants are the fancier sit-down dining experiences that cost quite a bit more. Sometimes, they’re more than $50 per person. The charge for the plan is $75.49 plus tax per day for adults and $27.98 for children ages 3-9.
The best version of the DDP is the Deluxe Disney Dining Plan. It includes a whopping three Table Service meals daily. However, I should clarify that you can eat Quick Service meals with your entitlements instead. You always have that option with your Table Service credits.
When using the Deluxe plan, you get the best of Disney. You can dine at multiple Signature Dining experiences, which cost two Table Service entitlements per meal. This strategy isn’t viable with a standard DDP. And you can pick a few character breakfasts, too. The extra daily entitlement per party member expands your options mightily.
The catch with the Deluxe plan is its price. Adults pay $116.25 plus tax per day, while the cost for children is $43.49. Each version of the DDP also includes two daily snacks and a refillable drink mug. These inclusions add to the value of the dining plan.
Purchasing the Disney Dining Plan has become a divisive topic. Some folks hate it while others like me don’t like to visit Walt Disney World without it. Everyone agrees on one part, though. Disney guests desire any package that includes the Disney Dining Plan for free. These deals are generally the most popular sellers out of all potential Disney vacation packages.
What Is Memory Maker?
This one’s easy! When you visit Walt Disney World, you’ll see lots of photographers wandering the grounds. Some will stand next to Disney characters, while others are at scenic spots where the backdrop will perfect your vacation photos. A few Disney character greeting attractions also feature photographers and automated image-capture systems.
When Disney takes your picture, the images get uploaded to a server. Don’t worry about the technobabble. Just understand that your unforgettable images get stored online in the cloud. You can access them, which is to say download and print them thanks to Memory Maker.
For $199, this service allows you to view and download these images as often as you’d like during your visit. Once you return home, you’ll have ample time to look at them and decide which ones are keepers. As an FYI, Disney sometimes offers a $30 discount when you purchase Memory Maker well ahead of your trip. The lower cost may price you into a Memory Maker purchase.
The other thing to know about Memory Maker involves annual passes. Some of these passes include the service free of charge. Such passes also include discounts on merchandise and meals. You may find that your best value is to buy an annual pass rather than purchasing the various services piecemeal.
I’d suggest that you speak with a certified Disney travel agent. These experts can provide welcome advice on the best ways to maximize your Walt Disney World vacation budget. Best of all, their services are entirely free to you! There’s no good reason why you wouldn’t use a Disney travel agent!