Apr 062009
 

When you get in trouble and you don’t know right from wrong
Give a little whistle! Give a little whistle! — Jiminy Cricket

Do you have a Disney dilemma? Are you wondering about a certain attraction? Are you curious about a resort or a cruise? Give us a little whistle and we’ll help you sort out how to handle it. Questions should be sent to whistle@magically-speaking.com

Q. We are visiting Walt Disney World for our twins’ sixth birthday in May. I have the paperwork completed and was told to go to Will Call when we arrive at MK. We have a Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique appointment prior to opening so … my first question is how early does will call open since we have to be at the castle at 8:30 a.m.? Next, I have read on some of the websites that you can either get a gift card for each child or there are FASTPASSes available. Is the FP thing true and is it for a day or the whole family? I can hardly let two six-year-olds ride the rides alone! (Submitted by LFJ)

A. Not to worry, Disney has you covered. First off, there will be a Guest Services window open to help you with your twins’ FASTPASSes or Birthday Fun Card before 8:30 a.m. There are always ticket windows and guest services windows open at least an hour before park opening.

Let’s look at your options. If you already have tickets, the FASTPASS badge or the Birthday Fun gift card are definitely your best bets. And in your situation, with two birthday kids, you probably should go for one of each.

The FASTPASS option is for use on the guest’s birthday at the park where it’s issued (in your case, the Magic Kingdom). This perk is good for the birthday person and up to five members of his or her party (all of whom must be present and have valid tickets). Guests use the cards to get extra-special FPs that are good to use immediately. No waiting necessary. The birthday FPs are only available on select attractions at each park, attractions that are grouped into two categories: Donald rides and Daisy rides. When the program started, guests were allowed to pick two attractions from each category. Recently, it was upped to four attractions — your mileage may vary. Here’s the line-up for each park:

Magic Kingdom

      Donald: Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, Peter Pan’s Flight, Space Mountain, Splash Mountain

 

      Daisy: Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin, Jungle Cruise, Mickey’s PhilharMagic, Stitch’s Great Escape!

Epcot
Donald: Soarin’, Test Track
Daisy: Honey, I Shrunk the Audience, Living with the Land, Maelstrom, Mission: SPACE

Disney’s Hollywood Studios
Donald: Rock N Roller Coaster, Toy Story Midway Mania, Twilight Zone Tower of Terror
Daisy: Lights Motors Action Extreme Stunt Show, Star Tours, Voyage of the Little Mermaid

Animal Kingdom
Donald: Expedition Everest, Kilimanjaro Safaris
Daisy: Dinosaur, It’s Tough to Be a Bug, Kali River Rapids

Disney does note that the number of FASTPASS badges issued is limited, and that they might not be available after 11 a.m. We have yet to read of someone refused this option. And even if the regular FPs for an attraction are gone, you can still get birthday FPs by using the designated FP machine that will remain open for that purpose.

On to the Birthday Fun Card option. This card value will equal the cost of a one-day Magic Your Way base ticket, with adults receiving an amount equal to an adult ticket, and kids under 10 getting the equivalent of a children’s ticket value. These cards can be used to buy merchandise at stores owned by Disney World. This means that they won’t work at contracted locations (think the LEGO store, or Cirque du Soleil). The card also isn’t valid for room charges, or the purchase of any food or beverage.

As with all things Disney, the rules of both of these options are a moving target. Disney has changed their guidelines on where you can use the gift card, and how many FPs you can get with the FP cards.

One final tip for readers: if you’re planning to visit a Disney park to take advantage of this offer, do what LFJ did and register online ahead of time. It will save you time and hassle when you reach the parks. Here’s where: http://disneyparks.disney.go.com/disneyparks/en_US/WhatWillYouCelebrate/index?name=WDWCelebrationsOverviewPage.

Q. We are visiting Walt Disney World this May, arriving May 21 and staying two weeks. I have ADRs at Crystal Palace, the Sci-Fi Dine-In, and California Grill. I heard that Disney actually increases their menu prices for the holiday season. Can you confirm if this is true? When do the increases take place? And are all eateries involved? (Submitted by Olivia from the UK)

A. Olivia, it used to be that Walt Disney World food prices would only increase at Thanksgiving and Christmas, and only at a few restaurants that had enhanced menus. In the last couple years, though, WDW has gotten in the habit of charging extra during all the more crowded dates. From their perspective, it’s similar to charging different resort rates during different seasons. . The thought is, there’s increased guest demand so, what the heck, we’ll charge a bit extra.

For 2009, the dates announced so far for this increased pricing are:

      December 16, 2008 – January 3, 2009

 

      April 5 – April 18, 2009

 

    May 24 – July 11, 2009

This seasonal pricing affects the following restaurants:

      1900 Park Fare

 

      Akershus

 

      Biergarten

 

      Boma

 

      Cape May Cafe

 

      Chef Mickey’s

 

      Cinderella’s Royal Table

 

      Crystal Palace

 

      Garden Grill

 

      Hollywood and Vine

 

      Liberty Tree Tavern (dinner only)

 

      ‘Ohana

 

      Trails End

 

    Tusker House

So, in your case, Olivia, you’ll only get a “hit” for your Crystal Palace meal. Keep in mind that we’re talking about a $2-4 price increase per person. This is certainly annoying, and we know it can affect your budget, especially if you have a large group and/or are dining at a number of these locations. We have, however, seen Disney fans get so bent out of shape by these price increases that it affects their outlook on their vacation. Our advice is to try to avoid dwelling on it. There’s no fighting Disney on this one, and given the overall cost of a Disney vacation, it doesn’t make sense to let a relatively small cost decrease your enjoyment of your trip.

Q. Does anyone have any codes or discounts for Southwest airlines? (Submitted by Jackie H.)

A. Hi Jackie, we’re green with envy here that you live near an airport served by Southwest. Southwest is one great airline, and can offer fabulous deals into MCO. And no, we don’t have a financial relationship with Southwest, but we sure wish we did!

Southwest Airlines used to have discount codes, but they haven’t for a number of years. Now, your best bet for a Southwest discount is to sign up for their DING! program. DING! is an application that you install to your computer. Once it’s on, you’ll get visual and audio verification each time there’s a discount that applies to your preferred travel routes (you can designate up to ten airports). The discounts are time-limited (usually less than a day) and are typically not offered on the website — you need to book them directly through the DING application. Here’s where to sign up:
http://www.southwest.com/ding/what_is_ding.html.

Remember that Southwest will let you rebook a flight if a better deal comes out after your initial ticketing. So once you find the best deal available now, continue to keep an eye on DING! fares. If you find something better, Southwest will credit you the difference for future travel.

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