2013 Trip Report: Day 3, part 2: Off to Epcot!

I love how she looks like she's about to fall backwards into the fountain

I love how she looks like she’s about to fall backwards into the fountain

All right!  So Epcot! I’d wanted to get there before the park opened, but the tent slowed us down some, and so did my reminding myself not to rush D. Nobody has fun if we’re nailed to a schedule.  Meanwhile, I was pretty excited for the Food & Wine Festival, but I knew not to assume D would want to eat much from it.

D and the Food & Wine signage

D and the Food & Wine signage

I OWN THIS PLACE! (I can dream.)

I OWN THIS PLACE! (I can dream.)

D’s favourite ride from before was Test Track; I had FastPass+ selections for Test Track, Soarin’, and the Maelstrom for the evening, so we decided to do whatever we could in the morning and just have fun. 🙂  I also had a (somewhat rough) itinerary in hand, with our FP+ times on them as well as a schedule for the earlier part of the day.  I’ll be honest: most of the times on the schedule did get shuffled around. And I honestly think that’s how it should be. 🙂  FLEXIBILITY!

But our first priority for the first ride of the day was still: New Test Track!

A quick side note to mention that one of my favourite things about this trip was running, hand in hand, with D to get to our destination.  Except for the times we skipped. That was awesome too. 😀

Test Track’s new ride is very, very streamlined.  It was weird to be in there and try to remember what the queue used to look like!  It’s a completely different experience now.  The interactivity is neat: getting to design your own car is a fun way to pass the time while you’re waiting to board.  Low light levels made it very hard to get a good set of pics on this ride’s queue, but just remember, I was trying FOR YOU. 😛

Uggggh, I really can't believe I'm letting you guys see this awful pic.

Uggggh, I really can’t believe I’m letting you guys see this awful pic.

It's the lighting making the pics look like this. REALLY.

It’s the lighting making the pics look like this. REALLY.

TOUCHSCREEN TECHNOLOGY!  Is there a child alive who doesn't love this?

TOUCHSCREEN TECHNOLOGY! Is there a child alive who doesn’t love this?

Here is the car that we designed. (Mostly D but I love touchscreen technology too.)

Here is the car that we designed. (Mostly D but I love touchscreen technology too.)

Once we’d designed our cars and we were allowed into the next queue area, it wasn’t a long wait to board our ride simulator whatsit, whatever they called it.  Simulator was in there somewhere (unless it wasn’t).  There was a little boy who was very, VERY sad that the car he designed was not the car he got to ride in.  He was crying and we heard him shout “I HATE this ride!” as that family departed… poor baby!  I wonder how much disappointment that ride can create. XD

The ride was certainly fun, and D *loved* it, so I was glad I already had FastPasses to ride it again in the evening; however, speaking for myself, I have to be honest that I preferred the old version.  As clunky and unattractive as it was in parts, you knew what was going on in each test.  I found this version hard to follow, especially because we didn’t properly load our car’s data on the first time we went through, so it took me a while to figure out that they were ranking the specs of the cars.

Tell me this is not one ugly car. And I will call you a liar. :)

Tell me this is not one ugly car. And I will call you a liar. 🙂

What they do is, as you design your car the computers rate that design on certain areas of performance.  Then when you go through the ride, as you’re having fun being bumped around on the track, they run your car’s data with the cars from the other riders, and rank them in each area.  Then at the end they rank each car overall.

Personally, I miss the heat, cold, and corrosive acid rooms.  But, that’s me. 🙂  I mean hey! Tron is fun too. ;P  No, but seriously, it’s still a fun ride and other than missing what’s not there anymore, I don’t think there’s much to complain about.  Plus that fast loop at the end is still there. XD

The cheap way of getting your ride photo!

The cheap way of getting your ride photo!

Having finished the necessary step 1 for the day, we moved onto my second one on the itinerary: Ellen’s Energy Adventure. I was a little bit on the fence about it, since it’s VERY long, but I had a couple of reasons for choosing it: one, I was honestly trying to do the science-type stuff while we were there so that D would pick up some information.  (In fact, I made her write a tiny little report about this ride later.) Two, D loves dinosaurs but I knew “Dinosaur” would be beyond her – too much scary things jumping out at you in that ride.  And three, I hadn’t done it since 2005 and it really does deserve SOME attention.

It's a pavilion of ENERGY!

It’s a pavilion of ENERGY!

On the walk, I explained to D that the lady starring in it was the voice of Dory in Finding Nemo (D: “Oh. Wow.”), and also that the animatronic dinosaurs were only in one part and that they kind of snort at you but not much else.  We got to the theatre just about five minutes before the next pre-show started, and we’d just gone inside when D asked more about the dinosaurs.  Somehow she got it into her head that it was a movie only, and that the animatronics would come *into* the room and like, sit near her and mess with her or something. I’m not clear on this. 😀

She nearly kiboshed the whole thing and in fact got herself into a slight panic so we had to leave the building, but outside I explained to her that it’s not scary, it’s no worse than the Great Movie Ride, and I’d be there with her the whole time.  She finally relented and we’re both glad she did!  The movie is fun, it honestly is – though largely because Ellen DeGeneres is such a delight. 🙂  And Bill Nye the Science Guy was just cute in the 90s. 😉 She did indeed write the report on the attraction.  I’ll look for it later and see if I can put up a picture.

For what it’s worth, as a frequent Disney-goer, I don’t recommend going on Energy Adventure every trip.  If you’ve never done it, DO IT.  If you have, but you’re on a long trip and will be spending at least 2-3 days at Epcot, do it.  If you’ve done it and you’re only going to be at Epcot for one day, skip it.  It doesn’t change.  It may or may not be there next time you come, but at least you’ve done it in the past.  I say this with love, but it’s just so LONG, and there are other things at Epcot to discover if you’re limited on time.  But DO make an effort to see it if you haven’t before; D and I sacrificed nearly an hour of our single Epcot day for it and neither of us regret it. 🙂

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Travel Tip Tuesday: What is a VGT Room Rate?

This is the first in what might be a sort-of series, which I call “Know before you go”!  It might be a series and it might just be this one post, we never know with me and that’s the fun. 😉  Anyway, here I aim to give some extra details on things that might be unclear when you travel or are planning a trip.

For this post, I’m going to start out with a particular kind of cruise rate on the Disney Cruise Line called a “GTY” or “*GT”.  This can be in the form of IGT, OGT or VGT and they all mean the same thing: GuaranTeed stateroom. IGT is for Inside Staterooms, OGT is for Oceanview Staterooms, and VGT is for Verandah Staterooms.

I am onboard with this offer. (Get it? Onboard? GET IT?)

I am onboard with this offer. (Get it? Onboard? GET IT?)

Now that it’s explained what it stands for, what does it mean?  Why would you need to know this?

In answer to the first question, these acronyms are used for room rates that are a significant discount off of the full rate for those stateroom types.  They are usually released just a short while before the cruise sets sail, in order to sell off rooms. (It is TOTALLY legit; this is not a “stay away from this offer it’s a scam” or anything. It’s a great deal so long as it fits your requirements!)  To answer the second question: you need to know this because sometimes you will run into this amazing great deal and you’ll see “OGT” or whatever, and you won’t know what it means, and you won’t bother to find out, and you’ll just book the amazing rate.  And the reason it’s important to know this is because the GT rates come with restrictions.

There are numerous ones, but the most important ones to know in advance are this:

– They must be paid in full at the time of booking
– The booking must be completely new
– The rates are non-refundable
– The rates are non-transferable
– You do not get to pick your stateroom or even where on the ship it is
– Your stateroom is assigned to you when you check in so no info is available in advance except that it’s guaranteed and it will be an Inside, Oceanview, or Verandah (depending on what GT you booked)

It’s kind of like Priceline, you have to be in a state where you can say “Okay, I am DEFINITELY ABSOLUTELY taking this trip and I don’t really care what I get as long as it’s on the boat”, and then you get what you get.  Having said that I haven’t seen many people say “I got a VGT stateroom and it was awful!” – it’s been the reverse, in fact – so, although it’s a gamble, it appears to be one worth taking.  But you do need to know what you are getting beforehand.  Hence the purpose of this blog post. 🙂

Last thing to note: there are not always GT rates available on a particular cruise, so it’s not a great idea to bank on them opening up if you have already picked out the cruise dates you want and don’t have any flexibility.

Dancing on the beach is optional with this rate.

Dancing on the beach is optional with this rate.

Contact Fairytale Journeys by Rebecca Kelly for free travel advice, booking assistance, research and more!  I can help you find the best rate, find out things to do, and be sure to explain any restrictions up front.  No cost to you!  Follow on Facebook or Twitter, or email me!

eBay and Disney World Tickets

Is this a really great deal or are you being suckered by friendly faces?

Is this a really great deal or are you being suckered by friendly faces?

One thing I’ve found when planning Disney World trips is that, out of all the things you can cut corners on, the tickets are the sticking point.  They are going to cost you.  That’s not to say there aren’t a few options to get a slightly lower price – sometimes Disney offers a tiny discount with their room promos, such as this past spring when you’d get an extra 5% off tickets if you booked a room at their resorts that was on a promo.  But to be honest, that’s rare.  There are other options, naturally, and some are legit but some aren’t… but what it comes down to is that you’re not going to get a legimate discounted deal on 1- or 2-day Disney World tickets, period.  Disney won’t discount them, authorized discount ticket sellers don’t discount them – you have to do a minimum of 4 days, usually, for savings to kick in…

So in a pinch, you might think, “What about eBay?” And at first this might seem like a truly perfect answer, because if you search eBay you will find offers for some really cheap Disney World tickets.

I’m going to give spoilers now for the rest of my post, okay? Do not buy ridiculously discounted tickets on eBay.  Period.  No matter what the seller might say, there is simply no legal way that you can get a 1-day Disney ticket for $30 (or $40 or even $50).  The closest I found to a “legit” offer was one where you sit through a timeshare presentation and get the tickets afterwards for the discount price. Having done this in the past, well, it’s up to you if you want to do it.  Frankly I would not order it on eBay, regardless.

The other thing that makes these look legit is that you’ll still see people selling their “old” tickets with “unused days” left on them.  Maybe they purchased a 5-day pass and only used 3-days and so they’re selling the pass for 2/5 of what they paid for it.  Guess what?  You can’t use it.  Doesn’t matter if the days weren’t used.  Doesn’t matter if it’s a no-expiration ticket. Disney has cracked down on making sure that the same person uses a ticket from day one until day whatever.  (And if it’s not a no-expiration ticket, then it’s only good for 14 days after the first use.)  So there really might be 2 days left on that ticket, and the seller might legitimately have been allowed to go back into the park for another two days, but you won’t.

What about the ones that are brand new, priced at just a slight discount – maybe 5% – off of the Disney World full price?  Wouldn’t these be legit if they have never been used?  That’s a valid question.  And you know what, maybe they are valid. But the problem with eBay is you pays your money and you takes your chances, and frankly, I wouldn’t do it.  If you really want to get a reliable discount on theme park tickets, I would go through someone who is an authorized reseller and NOT go through eBay.

And now the exception to ALL of the above!  If you’re looking for collectible, old souvenir tickets, GO eBAY!  EBAY IS IT! 😀  Just don’t go looking for something you can use to get a great deal.  The same goes for Craigslist.  The internet is full of people who want to take your money and give you nothing in return, so please, use the common sense rule: if it seems like too good a deal to be true, if it leaves you thinking “Wow, why isn’t EVERYONE doing this?” it’s probably because it IS too good to be true.

I think about 90% of my readers know all this stuff, but if I can get one person who is Googling “discount Disney tickets on eBay” to stop and rethink what they’re about to do, then my work here is done. 🙂