Saturday Blog Showcase: Kasey Knows Orlando

Returning yet again from a temporary hiatus (I need to recover from my vacation! :P) it’s the always hugely popular Saturday Blog Showcase!  I have a backlog of blogs… that sounds neat!… which I have to cover, but I’m skipping slightly ahead this weekend to showcase a nifty informational blog that just started and needs some attention.

Kasey Knows Orlando is written by a longtime Orlando resident with an interest in helping vacationers get the most out of their Orlando vacations, particularly those at Disney World (and Universal and Sea World fit in there too)!  Kasey is, speaking personally, a very sweet person who loves to help others and spread her enthusiasm for Disney and Orlando in general!  She’s got some great insider tips, suggestions for details you might not think of, and she’s also blogging with Orlando Informer for some added bonuses. 😀

The end result is that there is a variety of information on Kasey Knows Orlando. Only every 3rd or 4th post is Disney, on average; in between are articles on Discovery Cove, Universal’s Wizarding World of Harry Potter, and even additional posts on things like finding Orlando in Las Vegas!  But my favourites are the Disney World posts, and I’ll tell you why: because they pick a few “off the beaten trail” topics and run with them.

A blog, in my opinion, needs to have something to set it apart in order to survive.  If you’re going to be general information, you need to do a GREAT job keeping up with the news and information as it comes out, and present it properly. (We can tell, I fail at that one.)  If you’re going to be opinion-based, you do best to have a solid and engaging writing style to keep people interested in reading your opinions.  And if you’re going to do travel tips, you probably shouldn’t have a blog limited to things like “Did you know you can skip the main lines at a lot of Disney World attractions by using FastPass?” 😉

Instead Kasey focuses on things like “Free Things to do at Disney Deluxe Resorts“, or a “Survival Guide to New Fantasyland“, or my current favourite, “Unique Quick-Service Restaurants at Disney World“.  Why is this last so cool?   Because there are a number of unique counter service restaurants, but it’s also easy to fail to realize they are there if you aren’t planning out your menus in advance.  Out of Kasey’s recommendations, I’ve eaten at Tangeriene Café in Epcot (it’s delish!), Fairfax Fare and Backlot Express at Hollywood Studios, and Flame Tree BBQ in Animal Kingdom.  And they are ALL good 😀

I hope you’ll check out Kasey’s blog and visit regularly for tips and insights you may not see any place else. 🙂  Have fun! (Tell them I sent you! No, you don’t really have to do that, it wouldn’t do anything.  No free pie or anything.)

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. 🙂