Bring the Grandparents and Save Money

My family and I are planning a Magical Gathering for this September.  We booked our rooms a year before our vacation to take advantage of the Free Dining Special that was being offered at that time.  Because my sister has four children, and we were looking for the least expensive resort accommodations, we booked our rooms at the All-Star Music Resort so that she could take advantage of their family suites.

We had considered having two of my sister’s children room with their grandparents in order to save some money.  This is a great option for families who will be at the resort the same amount of time.  However, my parents are staying for 9 nights, while my sister’s family will be staying for only 5 nights.  We were told that the guests sharing a room, potentially my parents and nieces, would have to have the same number of park-day tickets, so this cost-saving option was out for us.  Or was it?

I recently (48 days from our vacation) found out about a little-known “work around” for just this sort of situation.  My neighbor is going to Disney World, and her two youngest children will be rooming with their grandparents.  The grandparents are not going to the park everyday.  Instead they are tending to the youngest two children, who are not quite ready for 4 full days in the parks.  My neighbor wanted to be able to take her toddler into the park one extra day and leave the baby with the grandparents.  She called Disney and asked if all of the occupants of her parents’ room had to upgrade to another day of tickets or if there was a less expensive way.  The Cast Member (CM) told her that once the guests arrive at the resort anyone can upgrade to an extra day of tickets, but it is not the case that everyone must.

I had never heard of this before, so I called Walt Disney’s vacation reservation number.  I asked the CM about this possibility, and he told me that you must book the least common number of tickets as part of the vacation package, but then any individual could upgrade their number of park-ticket days upon arrival.

As a result of this information, I called our wonderful travel agent and asked her if she would make this change for us.  She changed my sister’s room to a standard room and moved her two youngest children into my parents’ room.  Because the children are young (3 and 5), their presence did not affect the room rate for my parents for their 9-night reservation.  Maureen also changed my parents’ package to 4 days in the parks (but they will upgrade to 4 more days upon arrival).

This may seem like a lot of changing and tweaking, and many people may wonder if it would be worth it.  I know my sister would say that it is definitely worth it because this change saved her $1000!  The cost of my parents’ room, because of the addition of the two children’s 4 days of tickets, went up by about $400, which means that my sister’s net savings was around $600.  The only downside is that by switching to a standard room, she lost the extra bath that is in the family suites.  A second bathroom at a cost of $125 per day was not worth it to her.

You can be the judge of whether or not it is worth it to you.  Either way, this little “work around” is a handy piece of knowledge for families who need more than one standard room and who have members who want a varied number of park days.

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