Showing posts with label transportation. Show all posts
Showing posts with label transportation. Show all posts

Monday, July 1, 2013

First-Timer Tips: Disney's Magical Express

Complimentary airport to WDW transportation and luggage service for Walt Disney World Resort Hotel Guests

Disney's Magical Express: Complimentary airport to WDW transportation and luggage service for Walt Disney World Resort Hotel Guests

I love Disney's Magical Express.  Once you've booked your flight into Orlando International (MCO), call Disney or your travel agent with your travel dates and flight numbers.  A few weeks prior to your vacation, you will receive a booklet and some luggage tags in the mail.  Attach the tags to the handles of your suitcases and pack the booklet in your carry-on bag.  Check your luggage at your home airport and you won't see it again until it appears in your room a few hours after your arrival in Orlando.  How cool is that?!?  The Disney team collects all of the tagged luggage and delivers it directly to your room. You don't need to be there to receive it so you can start having fun right away.


Back to the booklet in your carry-on, that is your ticket to get on the bus to Walt Disney World.  After you arrive at MCO, follow the signs to Terminal B, Level 1 and go all the way to the end of the hall.  Check in there with the Magical Express Cast Members and they will direct you to the proper waiting area for your resort.


You'll wait a few minutes here.  I've never waited very long but I suppose it could be up to 20 minutes or so.  From here you board a motorcoach (think comfy seats) and head to Walt Disney World.  The overhead screens will show a Walt Disney World informational movie.  Ok, let's be honest, it's a commercial but I still always enjoy it. The bus will stop at several resorts but they are located near each other and people will only be exiting the bus so the stops are reasonably quick.  


Be sure to pack anything you'll need for the first few hours in your carry-on since you won't see your luggage for a while.  The Disney information says 3 hours but I'd be prepared for longer than that, just in case.

On the day before your departure, you'll find envelopes hanging on your door handle.  Read the enclosed letters carefully and make sure to note the time to catch the bus back to the airport.  They are typically pretty punctual and won't wait for you for long.  Pack this letter and your Magical Express booklet in your carry-on again, as you'll need one of them to board the bus.  


For domestic flights with most airlines, you can check your luggage at your resort.  Simply take your bags to the airline check-in desk, usually located near the front desk/entrance of the resort.  You'll need the same information as if you were checking bags at the airport.  The only difference is you'll be more likely to be greeted with a smile here.  They can accept bags up to three hours before your flight, after that, you'll need to take them with you to the airport.


If you have a little time to kill on departure day and need to keep the kids occupied, check out the coloring and/or TV areas available at your resort.  Old Key West has a nice room called Community Hall with arts & crafts, games, and movies playing, as well as cartoons on a continuous loop near the check-in desk.  

At your designated time, board the bus to Orlando International Airport and head home.  There is another movie as you leave to help pass the time.  I've seen the security line wait as long as 30 minutes at MCO, but Magical Express gets you to the airport about two hours before your flight so no worries.

  
I hope this information helps as you plan your Walt Disney World vacation.

Disney pros, do you like Magical Express or do you prefer to rent a car? Please leave a comment below.  I prefer Disney transportation and letting someone else do the driving.

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Friday, August 10, 2012

A Walk Around the World With Ridge -- On or Off Property



I'm sure that I have in some way covered this topic several times in the past but it was asked of me today at work. I'm the "Disney Guy" as I'm sure many of you have the moniker in your own circles. So the question asked of me is can they save money by staying off property?  It is a couple with a 4 year old son and they'd like to visit at Thanksgiving. The crux of the whole thing is money. We all want to save a dollar when we travel, and especially with gas prices so high it becomes a real issue. Anywho I quickly rattled off the two things I myself do when looking to book on cash.


·         Check the internet for prices (Priceline, Hotels.com, Kayak, Orbitz, etc.)

·         Call an Authorized Disney Travel Agent

Starting with Priceline and other web services:  I've used Priceline pretty often and can usually get what I would feel like is a good deal.  However something to remember with online shopping, no matter which service you use, are the hotel fees that are not included in the price of the room. You'll be paying those when you get there. Some hotels have parking fees and room amenity fees; it can be a mess but not too bad a hassle. There are several little tips for using services like Priceline that can help you work around some of the features that limit how many times you can bid in a day. Just by changing a couple of your criteria you can keep trying for rooms. I think that WDW Today has done a great job of talking about booking and I suggest giving them a listen. Try Episode 1066 - Priceline. Another thing to remember about staying off property is parking ON property. Some of the hotels off property will run a shuttle over to the Ticket and Transportation Center (TTC) but if you drive yourself it is 14 dollars a day.

Personally having stayed both on and off property, I very much prefer on, but I have an Annual Pass that gives me free parking and room discounts. The Value Resorts for Disney tend to be only slightly higher than those outside property but if there is a deal or a special running you can get a package that will bring everything back inline price wise. This is where an Authorized Disney Vacation Planner comes in. I wish I had the time to become one myself.  You discuss your plans, goals, dreams or what have you and they do all the leg work to accomplish it for you for the best price they can. Also it costs you nothing to use their services. I personally have used friends of the site Travel With the Magic when I have booked stays on cash rather than with DVC points.  I can go on about my day and someone else gets to run around and book stays, ADRs and any other services that are available.

Having a little one changes up the situation just a little. I myself not having anything but my Boston Terrier, Lily, know next to nothing about travel with children. From being around my sister with two little ones and having already made several goes at it at Disney with them. I can say that research is going to be key. Use the internet and telephone and call up some of the hotels that you might find on some of the barging hunting sites. Find out what is standard and what comes at a price. I feel like as far as some of the accommodations and kid friendliness, Disney is going to win that hands down. When in the parks stick to a schedule as much as possible for eating and napping. It's going to be hard because everyone is out of their usual comfort zone and excited to be at Disney. However try as you might you can't do it all everyday or else someone is going to be very cranky. As I people watch I see it most often being the adults that lose their cool first.

So the moral of the story is research. To learn about Disney there are lots of informational sites and as I have said many times before my favorite general information site is Allears.net. Hotels, restaurants, services, you name it something probably exists about it on that site. For park planning I prefer Touringplans.com and the Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World. There is so much information available that it is silly not to know what you are getting into before you go. Everyone will have good and bad trips and almost everyone knows someone that has been. Reach out to those friends as well, listen to the good and the bad, read up on it and make the best decisions you can.


For more, please visit Around the World with Ridge
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Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Photo Flashback! Monorail Reflections

 
The water at Epcot provides some fabulous opportunities for photos with reflections.  I took this one near The Land pavilion in May 2012.

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Tuesday, June 1, 2010

TNT (Tips N’ Tricks)—The Great Escape

OK, so here is a simultaneous tip and story about what could have been quite possibly the best 12 dollars I have ever spent at Walt Disney World. As everyone knows or will find out, leaving EPCOT after Illuminations can be an adventure. Depending on your time of year, the bus stops can become purgatory, endlessly waiting on Charon to ferry you across the river Styx back to your hotel only to awaken the next day to do it again (think Prometheus but without the chained to a rock eating your liver thing). So one night after park closing on one of the many mini trips my sister and I used to take before she got married and I got a real job (I think I was still in college at the time,) we came out of EPCOT after a hot and particularly exhausting day only to see the bus stop looking like a cow pen, lots of mooing but nobody leaving. Then I spotted our means of escape, the taxi… The taxis at EPCOT are found in the center parking areas at the bus stops, just FYI. So we made a break for it, hopping into the back seat and laughing as we were delirious from a lack of sleep. I am pretty sure I had only had 4 hours because my plane was delayed the night before and I didn’t get in until 3am. The ride from EPCOT took only about 15 minutes and we were staying at Port Orleans Riverside. The fare was only about 10 bucks and I tipped a couple and we were home at last. Laughing all the while, knowing if we hadn’t used such a wonderful adventure in transportation that we would have still been standing at the bus stop and then packed in like sardines to get back, neither one sounding like a great idea to us. So I highly recommend at the end of a long day, when the busses are packed to capacity and your patience has worn thin…take a taxi, it is worth it.
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