Unpopular Opinions: Monsters University

Rule of Hollywood: Buddy Movies Are Funny.

Rule of Hollywood: Buddy Movies Are Funny.

So I’m going to admit to something right now, and everyone in the world is going to disagree with me.  And you know what?  That’s COMPLETELY OKAY.  But still, I’m working up to it; in part because it’s going to sound a lot more “definite” than it really is.  Well… I guess I’ll just spit it out there and be blunt, and then hedge my way defensively through the rest of my post.
So here it is.  Ahem.  Um…

I have misgivings about “Monsters University”.

Okay, so I said it. Now before you kill me, or think “OMG Rebecca hates a movie that hasn’t even come out yet!!” or even just, more rationally, think “Yeah, you know, I’m not worried… I think it’ll be good, because Pixar is usually good anyway”, let me say one really important thing: I think that too. I’m not worried that it won’t be good. I’m sure it’s going to be funny, emotionally resonant, and very, very, very entertaining. Oh, and awesome to look at. *G*

I’m not worried about MU, I have misgivings about it.

So. I’ll explain what I’m talking about, though it probably won’t come across all that well… See, I just… well. I read the general synopsis of the plot and while I knew it was a “prologue” taking place before Monsters, Inc, I didn’t have a lot of details. What was a disappointment to me was to find that it’s a kind of a standard story – Jocks vs. the Nerds and they discover that they get along and become best friends. Well, I guess that SPECIFIC story hasn’t been done, but let me put it another way: a college story about jocks vs. nerds teaming up; also a story about two guys who don’t like each other much at first, working together and becoming the best of friends. That second one, see, that was called “Toy Story”.

Before you say it, I know. I know already. I know that I’m reacting to a theme of what will be a quite different movie. I know that there are only so many ideas and themes out there, and if we never reused any we’d never have anything new, b/c there just aren’t many original ideas left. I know that they can take a theme or idea and reshape it. It’s more sort of the fact that Pixar has done this idea/theme before. More than once actually, but it’s most closely related to Toy Story; and one of the things that appealed to me about Monsters, Inc was that we came into it with this buddy story between Mike and Sulley, who despite their differences are a great team and close friends. I guess the only way to show the beginning of that friendship and make it interesting is by having them NOT get along at first, otherwise it’s just “two guys who meet in school and hang out and like each other” which isn’t a whole lot of movie.

But still I can’t get past this. All Pixar movies have a theme to them beneath the plot, and this theme is such an echo of their first theme. Protagonist who tries hard and knows his stuff gets upstaged by cool popular guy and hijinks ensue until they are forced to work together and come to understand how alike they are. …Wheee. That’s different from the mismatched comedy duo of Dory and Marlin, or … uh… any of the others…? 😉

But in spite of that misgiving feeling nagging at the back of my skull, I still know that the writing will be great, the direction will be excellent, and a lot of people will be very, very happy with this movie. Probably including me. I’m not COMPLAINING, I’m just… vocalizing. 🙂

I will admit that this image cracks me up.

I will admit that this image cracks me up.

OH! Okay, one thing I am complaining about. You know how in the first movie their names are all just Regular Ol’ Joe names? Bill, Celia, Randall, Mr. Waternuss, James P. Sullivan and Michael Wazowski? I’m probably jumping the gun but the name “Dean Hardscrabble” gets under my skin for exactly this reason. The fact that they didn’t get “cute” and give everyone in MI a “Monster-Pun” name is one of the things I really LIKE about it. Lots of visual gags but normal, every-joe names. Even Waternuss is fancy but not “cute”; it shows that he’s an upperclass guy, white collar instead of blue collar. It contrasts against Sullivan and Wazowski, but it’s not actually a pun. Now, Dean Hardscrabble… that’s not really a Monstery pun but it is still “cute”. I think it’s a reference to college farce movies, rather than an effort to be monstery, but it still kind of pokes under my skin and wiggles around there uncomfortably. So I guess that’s a complaint, but I will happily admit that – hey! – I haven’t seen the movie and this assumption of mine might be REALLY, REALLY WRONG! I’ll take that name stuff back happily if that’s the case, and there’s a good chance it is. 🙂

As for the “frenemies” aspect, well… I doubt I’m wrong on that. I also doubt anyone, including me, is going to mind because I don’t think it means they can’t do a good movie. It’ll probably be a somewhat fresh take. But it remains to be seen how closely it will remind me of Woody and Buzz… Here’s hoping not at all once I’m immersed in the film’s reality. 🙂 Here’s to Pixar! I haven’t loved every one of your movies but many of the ones I have SEEN have been among my faves. 😀

To appease you, here are the trailers for the movie that have been released so far!  Enjoy! 😀

***All of the above is my opinion only, and is not meant to represent anyone else’s views, nor is it meant to try to invalidate anyone else’s opinion. Thanks!

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Disney on the cheap, part 2: The Bare Necessities, AKA, what to eat

This is the sequel to this post here where I looked at a multitude of overwhelming options for where to stay when you go to WDW, on the pretense of saving you money. 😉 No, actually, it’s TOTALLY about saving money, it’s just a lengthy discussy post. *G* And guess what? So’s the sequel! Read on…

Now I know in my last post I said we’d be looking at tickets next, but I decided to save that one for a later post, because it’s probably the one expense at WDW you can’t really massage away with a little know-how. So instead I’m going to look at some of the things you really NEED, and how those can take up a bit less of your budget.

Because we can’t all look under the rocks and plants and take a glance at the fancy ants. Hakuna Matata maybe, but I am afraid I have never been able to subsist on bugs while at WDW. 😉

I picked this picture partly b/c you can see all the food we got at the Garden Grill, and partly because Chip seems to like my son so much in it.

I picked this picture partly b/c you can see all the food we got at the Garden Grill, and partly because Chip seems to like my son so much in it.

 

Instead, here’s a good look at food options and ways to slim that cost down.

Part I: The Longest Part Is the Dining Plan Part

LOGO, PEOPLE. (c) the Walt Disney Company.

LOGO, PEOPLE. (c) the Walt Disney Company.

Now, first of all, you’re probably aware that Walt Disney World offers a dining plan. It has several iterations and I’m not going to go over them all and how they work or what’s included – that’s the subject of a different post. But I will talk a little about the Basic Dining Plan, which they promote as their best deal, and the cheapest DDP, the Quick Service plan. With these plans, Disney tells you, you can save a good deal of money.

And this is true. You’re going to eat, no matter what, and there’s a very good chance that as long as you’re at Disney you’re going to want to eat in the themed restaurants available. And personally, I LOVE Disney restaurants. It’s very hard to go to WDW and *not* at least look longingly at the dining options, even if you’re not particularly intersted in Cinderella’s Royal Table.

So, the Quick Service plan entitles everyone to two counter service meals and one snack for each night that you are staying at a Disney resort. It is an add-on option to the Magic Your Way package, meaning you can’t get it if you book a room-only offer and don’t add tickets (same goes for all levels of the DDP). The Basic Dining Plan, moderately but not hugely more expensive, gets you one table service, one counter service, and one snack per night of your stay. According to Disney, the basic plan can save you up to 40% off of food.

The big question is, are these plans worth it?

I’ve considered it long and hard and my opinion is – it totally varies. Sometimes OMG YES. Sometimes they’re AMAZING. But “sometimes” is not “always” because everyone has a different set of needs for their vacation, as I’m pretty sure I said in my previous “on the cheap” post; so you’ve got to weigh the pros and cons, and the particulars, of each plan. Which I will do in a different post at a later date; but for right now, I’ll be very general.

The Basic Dining Plan is great if you want to eat at a lot of character meals or buffets and you have the time to spend to do that. You can save a huge amount on this option – the cost per adult is about $56 more per night, and per child it’s $18. Kids do have to order off the child’s

You actually can get that much food on this plan if you know what you're doing.

You actually can get that much food on this plan if you know what you’re doing.

menu, so look at the prices of the restaurants you most want to eat at, because this can be tricky. For instance: $18 per night per child seems like a very small amount, but if you look at the price of an easy sample day of dining at Hollywood Studios: lunch at Backlot Express, dinner at 50s Prime Time Cafe, and a Mickey Bar snack add up to $18.33 before tax. On the other hand, if you go with *dinner* at Backlot, the Mickey Bar, and a character lunch buffet at Hollywood & Vine, well, the cost of the lunch buffet for a child is $17. So you’re pretty much paying only for lunch that day and dinner is free. 🙂

For adults – same thing, except since you’re not limited to the kids’ menu and their prices, you have a few more options to make sure you get your money’s worth. But you have to remember, most counter service lunches are only going to run you about $10 pre-tax; on the dining plan you get your drink and a dessert free, so that’ll take you up to perhaps $16 or so on average. Then say you get a $4 snack so you’re at $20; you want to be sure that, for dinner, you’re going to get a $35 meal (entree, drink, and dessert) to be sure you get what you’ve prepaid for. That Hollywood and Vine character buffet is about $30 for an adult and that leaves you overspending for the day by about $5. On the other hand, if you go to Epcot’s Akershus Storybook Princess Dinner, the adult price on that is $47 and it includes a photo! So obviously – depending on your tastes, your time, and your decisions, this plan can be a great money-saver or just a convenience of you not having to worry about paying for your meals when you eat.

The other problem with the DDP is not about money, but about time: you have to be sure you’ve got the time, more or less every day, for a sit-down meal. Is this time you’d rather be spending in the parks? At the pool? Taking a nap? Or is this really what you’re looking forward to most? If “yes” to that last one, go for it.

The Quick Service plan? Well, again – tricky. For adults this is significantly cheaper per night than the basic: about $38 each. For kids though, it’s only about $3 cheaper. So here’s the very tricky part for children: “snacks” count up to about $4, tops. Nearly all kids menu counter service options are $5.99 before tax. So you’re basically paying $14.50 per night to get, tops, $16 worth of food and that’s assuming that your child wants a $4 snack and not a $2 snack (or they want a snack at all). Plus some of the kids’ menu options are $5.49. If your kids prefer those options, and a $2.50 snack, you’ll pay $14.50 per night for $13.50 worth of food… I know I’m picking at nits but you know, that’s the topic of this blog today. Saving money. 🙂 Those dollars CAN add up.

I also did not actually mention that you get these refillable mugs good for your entire stay. One per person on the plan. It's like a $15 value for the mug alone plus all the beverages you want to put in it. So there's that. Photo (c) the Disney Food Blog.

I also did not actually mention that you get these refillable mugs good for your entire stay. One per person on the plan. It’s like a $15 value for the mug alone plus all the beverages you want to put in it. So there’s that. Photo (c) the Disney Food Blog.

For adults it’s about the same; depending on what you get with your counter service credits, you might break even, you might save a tiny bit of money, but you also have the chance of losing a little bit of money.

If this blog was about convenience today, I’d say who cares? I’m nickel-and-diming this to death. But since it’s about saving money, I just want to point out that it takes some careful planning to be sure that you’re saving money with the basic DDP, and that your chances of actually *saving* with the QS DDP are pretty slim.

Do note, however; when the dining plans are free, this advice up here? All those lengthy paragraphs? THROW THEM OUT THE WINDOW. You’re not going to get a better deal! Doesn’t matter if it’s free Quick service at a value resort, or free basic at the others, or what. If it’s free, you are saving HUNDREDS of dollars, and it is worth it. Keep in mind you can’t combine offers, but you’re probably getting the better deal with the free dining plan.

Also, I can totally book you on this deal for serious, give me a call. ;)

Also, I can totally book you on this deal for serious, give me a call. 😉

Part II: So let’s assume you’re not getting the Dining Plan.

Putting all that above information aside; what other options do you have? No, they never have sales on Disney dining. 🙂 (In fact, at certian times of the year – usually holidays – prices at restaurants go up.) You *can* get a membership with Tables In Wonderland, which gives you a percentage discount at participating restaurants. Assuming you are not doing that, your best bet is:

BRING YOUR OWN FOOD! *lalalaaaa!*

Daddy's Hot Rod loved his raisins back then.

Dad’s Hot Rod loved his raisins back then.

I don’t mean you shouldn’t eat ANYTHING at the parks. Because that’s like blasphemy. But try to anticipate eating at least one meal with food you brought yourself. Nearly all the resorts now have a mini fridge in the rooms, so if you bring your own perishable foods you can keep them cool; bring breakfast supplies. Bring snacks. Disney never enforces a “no outside food” rule, perhaps because they know there would be mass revolts if they did. Bring whatever you need to make it through most of the day and make use of informational sites that post menus (*cough*) to figure out where you’d like to eat and what the costs are so you can anticipate what you’re likely to be spending.

You are also not a complete captive; if you run out of supplies and you can get offsite transportation, there are grocery stores nearby, like a local Publix that has, you know, normal prices. 😉 Depending on where you stay there are also options like lounges with free snacks, low-priced parties where you can pick up enough finger food to make a meal, or if you want to do just one buffet you can make that your only “bought” meal of the day – fill up while there and subsist off of snacks the rest of the day.

You can also split offerings at Counter Service restaurants. Some are better than others for this, but Flame Tree Barbeque has this great chicken and it’s HUGE, I mean it’s like an entire quarter chicken, for about $10 and it comes with slaw and beans. GUYS! 😀

The other option? Do a buffet… at BREAKFAST. 😀 They are always the least expensive buffet times, you get nice and full to start your day and can usually just skip lunch, and you still get the character interactions. Er, assuming it’s a character breakfast (unlike, say, Trail’s End – which by the way is good food and quite reasonably priced!).

Part III: I Open the Floor To You, The Reader, for Suggestions

I got these from Estelle, from This Happy Place Blog, and they apply mainly to money saving on food:

I know you aren’t this far yet but one suggestion as far as food is… eat in a lot of lounges. You can still get the Disney quality but not have the price of a full on restaurant experience. Not park hopping is another. And just cutting it close on other things in the parks: snacks, souvenirs and things. When does the Food and Wine start? That’s a great way to get an eclectic dinner on a budget too.

Food & Wine, it was just announced, will be held at Epcot from September 27 to November 11. If you’re unfamiliar, this is an international festival highlighting, uh… food and wine 🙂 My husband and I did this back in 2005 and it’s *terrific*. If you’re on the Dining Plan, most of the food offerings at each section in the World Showcase can be purchased with a snack credit! We had not used our snack credits for a full week and so on our last day we went around sampling a huge variety of food and well, we ended up very full! So I fully agree with this advice! My advice has to do with staying very basic to cut down on food costs, but Estelle’s great advice applies to trips where you are willing/able to pay for a little bit more, but you want to know how to get the most that you can. You don’t have to go sit down at all the restaurants in Epcot to get a taste of their amazing cuisine!

Part IV: My Choice, drumroll please…

Okay, so my trip in the fall, which I am still planning for. Since I’m trying to do this as cheaply as possible, I’m not really splurging on any extras, except the day we do the Magic Kingdom, where we will PROBABLY be doing Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party. Hence the splurging. 🙂

My splurges/ice cream will no doubt include Dole Whips, because I've been told that I am insane for not loving them yet.

My splurges/ice cream will no doubt include Dole Whips, because I’ve been told that I am insane for not loving them yet.

This means I’m going to be bringing breakfast – non-perishable, because we’re camping and won’t have those mini-fridges – for most days, with the option of picking up something extra to share from Trail’s End To Go if we feel really peckish; we won’t be eating at any sit-down restaurants UNLESS I really feel like splurging and doing a Crystal Palace breakfast buffet. Which I am considering.

Instead my plan is to have breakfast covered, each get a snack every day (probably will usually be ice cream, haha, but we’ll see), and for remaining meals split one counter service on one, then each get a full counter service on the other. I camped before with this plan and it worked out fine, but that was just me, so it may not go perfectly with a 7-year-old child… but on the plus side, with the option to buy more if she’s starving, no harm done. I’ll still be trying to do it as cheaply as I can and I’ll let y’all know how well it works!

Have any other tips? Please leave a comment! ❤

Wordless Wednesday: Celebrating My Country

Streets of America, Hollywood Studios circa 2008

Streets of America, Hollywood Studios circa 2008

…I’m cheating a little.  The theme is celebrating my country at Disney, but I don’t have anything USA themed. OR Canadian. (I’m not Canadian but my husband is and I went to school there so I could bend the rules a little.)  But here at least is a representation of a portion of the USA!  It’s not a celebration but it is really cool!

Focused on the Magic

Thanks to Deb at FocusedOnTheMagic.Com for hosting the Wordless Wednesday Blog Hop!

May 27th is my birthday, and I’m going to Disney: Vlog #1

Yes, that’s me. That gorgeous creature up there in a bright yellow “Team Zissou” t-shirt, that’s me. (I’ll take bets on how old I am today. I know you’re like “a mother of two?! But aren’t you in high school??” And thank you, I never get tired of hearing that, but… no.;)*

Anyway, if you can’t load the video, or if you don’t feel like it, or if you want to look at how cute I am without the audio on, the gist of it is this: my husband has this money left over from a fund I started for his birthday last year, which he hasn’t used yet, and he wants me to take my mother-daughter trip in Fall, so he’s pushing me to borrow out of that fund and pay it back when I can. I’m surprisingly resistant to this idea, but he is just as surprisingly insistent, so the odds are pretty good that I will be doing this camping trip. 🙂 Not 100% perfect, but there you go. So the above is both my announcing that I’m going, and also – well, I realized that I’ll be leaving on this trip on a Monday so I counted up the weeks and I thought it would be fun to do a planning vlog to keep myself entertained. It won’t be high detail (I’ll save that for a more appropriate forum), but just updates on what I’ve gotten done each week.

Which may really be NOTHIIIIING woohoo! But it’s not like I’m forcing anyone to watch, so there you go. 😉

So for the record… I don’t know how to do anything fancy on videos. The only equipment I have is my digital camera, and I have no editing software or anything. I’ve never had a YouTube channel before, and it looks as if I can add audio, but I’m not about to do that on a talkypost. So don’t expect anything fancy any time soon – as in, ever. 🙂 No George Lucas-style scene wipes or anything (darn it). No scene cuts, special effects, or even close-up stills of info I’m talking about. Heck, I dont’ even know how to put text into these things. It’s OLD SCHOOL, people. 🙂

If you’d like me to talk about anything in particular, as long as it’s something I can say with a bunch of first graders in the room, let me know what it would be and I might address it! Not that I expect anything to come up, but just, if it does I’m open to it. 🙂 Now back to trying to write real CONTENT for this blog…

But guys, I am hopefully going to live up to my blog name now. Come Disney with me; we’ll have fun. 🙂

*For the record, I’m well aware that I don’t actually look like I’m in high school; that’s the joke. 😉

Saturday Blog Showcase: Jambo Everyone/Bwana Blog

Like animals?  Like Disney?  Like Disney’s Animal Kingdom?  Then you’ve probably already heard of Jambo Everyone and Safari Mike’s Bwana Blog, and don’t need me to introduce you to it. But just in case not, or if you just want to hear someone saying some nice stuff about the site, read on!

So Jambo Everyone, in general, is a site dedicated to information and news and such about DAK, run with enthusiasm and expertise by Dave McBride. Not technically a blog I suppose, since it’s an informational website, but its content is largely the same kind of thing you’d find on a blog anyway – photos, dining reviews and information, and so on and so on. They also have a strong theme of animal conservation (much like DAK), with information on endangered animals and ways to contribute to funds to help them!

Safari Mike’s Bwana Blog, the official blog of Jambo Everyone, is run by Mike McBride, a pretty well-known name in Disney Animal Kingdom circles (heard quite a lot last month at Animal Kingdom’s birthday celebration, on podcasts everywhere!), and the blog is continually updated with information, rumours, speculation, and general thoughts on DAK. It’s excellent. It’s not limited to just news, but the speculative posts are always grounded in information and intimate knowledge of the park. Another great thing is the detailed look at small portions of DAK, like posters or other theming.

I really can’t recommend one without the other, so visit both and explore and catch up on anything you might have missed!  The series about turning Animal Kingdom into a night destination (since it normally closes quite early and is considered by many to be a “half-day park”) is particularly good.

Disney Cover CD Review: Kenny Ball

Trumpeter, vocalist and front man, Kenny Ball. Image (c) Solihull Arts Complex, solihullartscomplex.co.uk

Trumpeter, vocalist and front man, Kenny Ball. Image (c) Solihull Arts Complex, solihullartscomplex.co.uk

I’m often on the lookout for different Disney music, especially cover albums. I love covers of pre-existing songs – there’s something really neat about hearing an old favourite being remade in a new way. And with Disney music there are so many old favourites and so many great new spins on them!

Not to say I automatically love anything; I tend not to like anything autotuned, for example. It’s glaring even when it’s kind of subtle, and it’s an instant turnoff for me, so a lot of the pop covers are out. (There are a few times when I can put up with it if I like the song enough.)

Also, not a major fan of Marilyn Manson’s cover of “This Is Halloween”. Just sayin’. (Although this one year on Halloween a radio station played it and I did kind of have to listen and sing along a little bit b/c it was on Halloween and I was desperate for ANYthing on the radio; but I was relieved when it was followed by Rob Zombie’s “Dragula”, a much more worthy song, IMO. BUT I DIGRESS.)

Well, while listening one day to some streaming Disney station or other (I listen to so many that I can’t be sure which one it was – this was 2 years ago), a really neat, slightly Dixieland style cover of “Under The Sea” came on. It was like a neat mix of the music from my two favourite Disney movies, “The Little Mermaid” and “Princess and the Frog”, so I looked up info.

Turns out it was a cover by Kenny Ball and His Jazzmen, from an album called – wait for it – Kenny Ball and His Jazzmen In Disneyland. This was just before my birthday so I immediately emailed my husband and said “Buy me this!”

And he did. 🙂

I am reasonably sure that is not actually Disneyland behind him. Image (C) Kenny Ball and his Jazzmen/? Can't find info as to the recording house.

I am reasonably sure that is not actually Disneyland behind him. Image (C) Kenny Ball and his Jazzmen/? Can’t find info as to the recording house.

You can get it various places – it’s an import, and somewhat hard to find off the internet, but it is available on Amazon. (Hey. If you shop at Amazon, go to MickeyMutineers.com and click their Amazon banner to do your shopping. Just saying.) It came out in 1999 or so and thus it doesn’t have most of the recent movies, but the Little Mermaid and Aladdin tracks are just as great as their version of songs from The Jungle Book and Snow White!

Not every single track on it is perfect – I can skip “Everybody Wants to Be A Cat” and “My Romance”, and I actually don’t care for “Circle of Life” due to the buzziness of the trumpet. But most of the songs are better and a few are worth the entire album on their own. This is great for when I’ve listened to every Disney song in its original form five or six times over and need something a little different. Look up Kenny Ball and His Jazzmen where you can, and let me know if you enjoy as much as I do!

If you have a favourite Disney cover album, leave a comment and let me know!

Wordless Wednesday: Captain Jack Sparrow (ooh la la!)

Because aawwww, yeaaaah.

Because aawwww, yeaaaah.

This week’s Wordless Wednesday theme is Character Movie Stars. I decided to interpret this as “live action movies” and here we have my fave entry! Not necessarily my fave character of all time, but in terms of live action pirates… well… you can’t find Barbossa at the parks so… *G*

In other news I have figured out for the very first time in 5 months of blogging how to resize photos. *takes a bow*

 

Focused on the Magic
Thanks to Deb at Focused On the Magic.com for hosting the Wordless Wednesday blog hop! I love this week’s theme!

A Disney Dream: Because Really-Not-Particularly-Scary-At-All is just too long…

As of May 1, tickets are on sale for Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party in September and October. If you’ve heard of this but aren’t actually clear on what it is, let me give you a rundown in brief!

This? Is my new favourite photo. <3  (c) The Walt Disney Co.

This? Is my new favourite photo.

In simplest terms, this is Walt Disney World’s Halloween party. It takes place at the Magic Kingdom on select evenings in September and October. It is NOT included with general park admission; it’s a hard-ticket event, which means you have to pay extra to get in, even if you’ve already spent the day in the Magic Kingdom.

Is it worth the extra money? Well, I’ve never done it. But YES! 😀

Actually, it’s up to you to decide. It would be worth it to me, because I love Halloween and I love the Magic Kingdom, and this opportunity is one I’ve wanted to try for years now. But there are factors to take into account: it’s a very popular event so it can be crowded; lines for certain things may be longer than you’d like; and it is late, so you have to remember that if you’ve got kids, you’re paying more than $50 for each of them to possibly stay up later than they really can manage.

Before you make up your mind after I list all the down-sides to you, let me just talk about what the party involves, and why it’s a Disney Dream of mine lo these many years!

Around 6pm or so, on the nights when they’re running the parties, they start closing down the Magic Kingdom and guests are escorted out. There are already pumpkins and other light Halloween/October decorations out lining the park, and at this point, once closed, the park reopens with a total Halloween theme. Characters are available for meet and greets in their Halloween costumes; guests are encouraged to wear costumes – and this is the only time of the year when this is allowed, even among adults!

I have no idea who these are. Some witch and some scarecrow. Photo (c) The Walt Disney Co.

I have no idea who these are. Some witch and some scarecrow. Photo (c) The Walt Disney Co.

Along with the costumed characters, there are a bunch of other party-only activities and fun things: Trick-or-treating (apparently you can’t walk down the street without falling into candy), dance parties including a Villains Mixer, HalloWishes – the Halloween-themed firework show – and the Boo To You Parade. This parade is led by the Headless Horseman and features floats for villains, for the Haunted Mansion, and more.

I have to say I am less interested in the candy, and more interested in the character meets; less interested in the dance parties and more into the parade. I want to see that Headless Horseman, guys! This is possibly my biggest goal in life. 🙂


The above video is NOT by me, it’s by AllEarsNet, consistently one of the best Disney resources on the web.

So my daughter goes to sleep around 8pm every night. Staying up for this will be hard for her, and even though the party goes from 7pm to 12am, if we go I figure we won’t stay past 10pm. (And she’ll still be dead on her feet by then.) But; it’s such a great experience, I can’t wait to take her. I know she’ll have fun. 😀

This ain't your mother's Cinderella's Castle. Unless you're my daughter in which case, forget what I just said.  Photo (c) The Walt Disney Co.

This ain’t your mother’s Cinderella’s Castle. Unless you’re my daughter in which case, forget what I just said. Photo (c) The Walt Disney Co.

 

Dates for Mickey’s Not-So-Scary were announced at the start of May. You can save money by buying in advance; the ones closest to Halloween will be most expensive and will also sell out most quickly.

September 10, 13, 17, 20, 24, and 27, the advance purchase price is $59 for adults and $54 for kids (ages 3-9); at the door price is $65 for adults and $60 for kids.

September 29 and October 3, 4, 6, 10, 14, 17, 20, 22, 24, 27, and 29, and November 1, the advance price is $62 for adults and $57 for kids; the door price is $67 for adults and $62 for kids.

October 11, 18, and 25, the advance price is the same as the door price, $67 for adults and $62 for kids.

October 31, there is no discount for buying in advance, but do it anyway. It WILL sell out early. The price, if you are intent on going on Halloween, is $73 for adults and $68 for kids.

Have a blast! Send me your photos! 😀

I'm sure this is totally what it's like, and all. Nearly empty park, characters all waiting to play with me.  Photo (c) The Walt Disney Co.

I’m sure this is totally what it’s like, and all. Nearly empty park, characters all waiting to play with me. Photo (c) The Walt Disney Co.

Speculation on Free Disney Dining

I had a search hit on this blog with the phrase “Do you think Disney will extend free dining through October?” and that’s a really good question, and so I’m going to make a quick post about it.

 

First of all: THIS IS ALL SPECULATION. NONE of this is official and it’s not even Official Rumour.  It’s me looking at facts, thinking about a few things I’ve heard, and pondering a bit.  This is all MY idea and not something I heard through the grapevine, I have NO sources, none of that.  So don’t take this anything but a bit of thinking on my part, okay?

I'm gonna let Mickey explain this one to you, guys.

I’m gonna let Mickey explain this one to you, guys.  Disclaimer: Mickey Mouse was not involved in the writing of this blog post.

 

With that out of the way, here is what I’ve heard.

 

The biggest thing I’ve heard lately is that Disney Parks’s revenue is up 73% for the last quarter.  That’s pretty huge.  With all the new attractions at both Disneyland and WDW, plus the two new cruise ships, they’re obviously making really good money.

 

Now, in terms of discounts: in the past Disney has used free dining to drive attendance throughout the year.  In fact most of my recent big trips had free dining, and they were in October (several years ago) and February (2011).  I can’t remember the last time there has been a mid-to-late Fall period without free dining.  But this year, nothing in the winter; it’s announced (a bit late) for one month only, in September, with no indication as to whether it will be extended… what’s up?

That thinky-hard face I know we all wear sometimes.

That thinky-hard face I know we all wear sometimes.

 

So putting these things together, here’s my thinking.  Disney is doing EXTREMELY well right now.  Stocks are up, attendance is up, all the money they’ve poured into Cars Land and New Fantasyland is paying off and they’re huge.  But the Free Dining Plan is the single most popular promo that they run.  There are people who quite literally count on that package and wait for it each year – rely on it for their vacations.  How much money do you think Disney actually makes off of it? (This is entirely me speculating, and I don’t know the answer.)  They usually run it during their off-seasons to drive attendance when they might otherwise be much slower than usual, which is why it traditionally isn’t offered in the summer, or spring break, or etc.  Now looking at this past winter, when they didn’t have a free dining plan, the question is: WAS there an off-season?  Price-wise yes, but attendance-wise?

 

My thinking is that September-only free DDP is a test, to see just how much more attendance jumps from this promo in September compared to a rough comparison to Jan/Feb or so without the DDP.  If they see a significant bump from it, I’m betting it will be extended later in the fall.  If they don’t – if the numbers stay about even – who knows?  Would they get rid of the free dining plan entirely when it’s as popular as it is?  Disney actually does play close to the chest when it comes to their discounts – they don’t announce early so people look for hints wherever they can.  The answer is I have NO idea.

So what I'm saying is, I have no idea. Thanks, Pierre Trudeau.

So what I’m saying is, I have no idea. Thanks, Pierre Trudeau.

 

If the plan will be extended, we’ll probably hear around June or so, which is about when the discounts for October are usually announced anyway.  So let’s keep our fingers crossed!  And meanwhile, remember that you can book a trip and cancel for a full refund any time up to 45 days before your arrival date, so there’s no harm in getting a reservation in early just in case!

Free Disney Dining Plan, September Only!

The big news right now is that Disney Visa cardholders can book a Magic Your Way package for September and get the Dining plan for free. This is of course not a new promo, but it is the most popular one that Walt Disney World offers, and with good reason: it’s awesome.

I mean, the one thing that is a given at Disney is that you’re going to have to eat. And, yes, you COULD bring your own food but there’s a pretty good chance that you’re going to want to at least try one or two of their restaurants, and if you don’t, you’re going to sit there and wish you were. And that food you’re bringing yourself, it’s not free either.

So the Free Dining offer is a great way to pare down your budget and sample some of the best dining at Disney. Honestly, I do feel like there are times when the Dining Plan is not the most financially sound choice to save you money (and I’m going to write a post about that), but when it’s free, it’s THE BOMB. You have nothing to lose!

Anyway, this offer in September is the first time the free dining plan has been offered for 2013, and thus far it’s only for vacations which are starting between September 2 and September 25. Will it be extended? I don’t know. No word on that, literally none, so far. I think they’re looking to see just how much it boosts attendance this year. Traditionally it’s offered through the Fall, so if it has a major impact I’m crossing my fingers that we’ll see it offered at least through October as well!

Because if not this is totally me. Image (c) VisualPhotos.com

Because if not this is totally me. Image (c) VisualPhotos.com

But yes… as you’ve probably noticed, this offer is currently for Disney Visa cardholders only. If you don’t have a Disney Visa, you have two options: A) wait for it to open to the general public (which it will), or B) get a Disney Visa. Let’s talk about Option B for a second.

I have this card design. Plus a couple others.

I have this card design. Plus a couple others.

I love my Disney Visa card. I use it all the time. Yes, I am a Disney fanatic, but honestly it’s a great card. 🙂 It’s a Chase card, and they’re well-run. The Disney benefits are terrific. It’s easy to manage and there is no annual fee. You get $1 in Disney Rewards for every $100 you put on the card. If you use it for groceries etc and pay it off right away there’s no interest accumulation. And the Disney Rewards can be redeemed on pretty much ANY kind of Disney purchase, from a movie, a CD, a Disney store purchase, or park reservations or purchases. You can get a Disney Visa Card at this link. Thank me later. (No, full disclosure, I do not get ANY kickback at all if you get one or not. It’s just a benefit, I love mine, and I recommend it!)

Now there is fine print, stuff you need to know before booking this offer.

1) It’s only valid on non-discounted reservations. So if you’re using a AAA discount, or a Florida Resident package, or the like, you can’t get free dining without switching your deal; there’s no discount stacking. That’s OK. Trust me. Under most circumstances, Free Dining wins, unless you really only plan on eating only one meal in the parks each day and bringing all your own snacks and other food.

2) Moderate, Deluxe, and most Deluxe Villas are eligible for the Basic Dining plan (ie, one Table Service meal, one Counter Service meal, and one Snack per night of your stay); most Value resorts are up for the Quick Service dining (2 Counter Service meals, one Snack).

3) Campsites at Fort Wilderness, 3-bedroom Deluxe Villas, and Art of Animation rooms do not participate in this offer. Why? I don’t know for sure but my guess is because the first is already exceedingly inexpensive and they stand to lose money with this offer, and the second and third are getting the bulk of the business of those particular resort types this year, so they’re looking to spread the clientele a bit farther.

4) The fine print on the offer:

Advance reservations required. With the Disney Dining Plan, children ages 3-9 must choose from children’s menu if available. Excludes gratuities and alcoholic beverages. Some table service restaurants may have limited or no availability at time of package purchase. Deposit must be made at the time of booking with your Disney’s Visa Card or Disney Rewards Redemption Card. Subject to availability.

This means: You pay tips; you pay for alcohol; you have to prove that you have an active Disney Visa so you may have to make a $200 deposit when you book this deal, even if it’s on an existing reservation you’ve already made a deposit on. I’m not sure of that last one, but I’ve heard it. I do know that the vacation has to be booked on the Disney Visa card, though, so if you’re making a new reservation, you’ve got to use that. Alternatively you can use a Disney Rewards card with the Rewards Dollars you’ve saved up by USING your Disney Visa Card! 😀

5) I love my Disney Visa card. I so, so do.

6) Although I can’t find any details on dates that aren’t available for this offer, I did notice that the offer says “This special offer is valid for arrivals most nights between September 2 and September 25”. This means two things: first, there might be blackout dates. Second, note that it says arrivals, so that means that as long as you start your trip by September 25, you can keep the Dining Plan going for up to two weeks (14 days is the limit)!

Do as the picture says. Image (c) TouringPlans.com.

Do as the picture says. Image (c) TouringPlans.com.

7) If you are at a Value and want a Basic DP, instead of the Quick Service, you can upgrade by paying the difference between the two plans for each night. That comes out to about $18 per adult, per night. You can upgrade from any plan to a higher one by paying the difference!

8) And finally, the DDP is good for everyone ages 3 and up, so what about kids under 3? Well, it’s kind of like they don’t exist, basically. *G* They aren’t charged for park entry, and they aren’t charged on the DDP. BUT that doesn’t mean they eat free, it only means they don’t charge you on the DDP. If you go to a buffet and pick up a plate for your baby, have at it, go to town! However if you go someplace ala carte, you have two options: share your meal with your youngster, or pay for something extra for them. Same goes for counter service restaurants. It’s really not hard to keep your little ones fed, but it’s important to know going in how that’s going to work.

Okay, some sample pricing just to give you an idea. Disney gives sample pricing for mid-September on, with the note “lower prices may be available” for the first half of the month. Let’s look and see:

From Monday September 2 until Monday September 9, for two adults, one 10-year-old, and one under-10, we have:

Pop Century: $2288.65 – $81 a day, per person. This includes the Quick Service dining.

Caribbean Beach: $2839.87 – $101 a day, per person.

Animal Kingdom Lodge, standard room: $3698.31 – $132.08 a day, per person.

Contemporary, Atrium Club level: $6300.35 – $225 a day, per person.

Boardwalk Villas, 1-bedroom villa: $5543.31 – $198 a day, per person.

These prices all include 7-day park hopper passes, and of course FOOD. 🙂

As I said, the offer should be opening to the general public in a few days so non-cardholders can get in on it too… however the offer is going to fill up fast, especially because it’s only for a month! But here is a plus of using a travel agent, okay? Okay hear me out. Okay:

If you book NOW, and make a deposit NOW, then in a few days when the offer opens to the public I can call and add the DDP for you, for free. I’ll take care of it and you don’t have to do a THING, and you’ve got your dates all lined up in advance. It’s what I’m here for! It’s what I like to do! Let’s go for it! 😀

Any other questions? Leave a comment and I’ll answer! Want a quote for different days, different resort, or different set of party members? Email me at rebeccak@fairytalejourneys.com!