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Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Tip Tuesday: Disneyland lodging


Welcome back for another Tip Tuesday!

With a trip to Disneyland the near future, I thought I'd share a tip about lodging when it comes to planning a Disneyland vacation.  One of the first major questions to answer is this:  to stay on property or not.

This is a key decision that must be made because it can impact many aspects of your trip.  Here's something you might not have considered before.

Do the Disney resorts give you closer access to the parks than off-site resorts?  Well the answer is both yes and no.  Certainly the Grand Californian provides the closest access to both parks - it is part of Disney California Adventure and has it's own special entrance to that park, so there's no beating the Grand Californian when it comes to proximity to the parks.

But what about the Disneyland Hotel and the Paradise Pier Hotel?

Click image for a larger view
If you take a look at the map to the right, you'll see the locations for the Disneyland Hotel, Paradise Pier Hotel and the Good Neighbor Resorts on Harbor Boulevard.

Do you see how far away both the Disneyland Hotel and Paradise Pier Hotels are from the main esplanade between Disneyland and California Adventure?  True, there is the monorail station in Downtown Disney that is fairly close to the Disneyland Hotel providing transportation to Tomorrowland in the Magic Kingdom, but overall, it's pretty clear that the Good Neighbor Hotels, especially those right across from the main pedestrian entrance provide closer walking access to the park entrances than do the Disneyland Hotel or Paradise Pier Hotel.

Now, I know location is only one factor to keep in mind.  There's also theming, which you certainly will not get with any of the Good Neighbor Hotels.  I've stayed at these hotels before and will be doing so again soon and I'm not under any illusion that these hotels provide anything more than a clean room with decent amenities.  If you're looking for any sort of theming or experience, you'll find it at a Disney hotel, not at any of the Good Neighbor Hotels.

On the other hand, there's the price to consider and there's simply no way the on-property resorts come anywhere close to the inexpensive rates of the Good Neighbor Hotels.  Some of the rates you can find along Harbor Boulevard will be half (or more) the rate for the on-property hotels.

It's all about determining what your priorities are.  If you are focused mostly on proximity and/or price, then the Good Neighbor Hotels are the way to go.  If, instead, you're focused more on amenities and experience, then you need to seriously consider one of the on-property hotels.

Once you've got an idea of where you want to stay, you'll next need to think about how you're going to get there.  I'll share some thoughts about that in a future post.

What do you think?  Which is the better option?  Staying on-property or off?  Post a comment!

Friday, April 18, 2014

Photo Friday - the most beautiful sight


This week, I asked some of those who liked DisneyDaddy on Facebook (http://facebook.com/disneydaddy) to help me choose which photo to post today.  Mitch Brannen was the first to chime in with 2010 and he wanted an Epcot shot.  It seemed like destiny that Mitch of all people would say that.  Back in 2010 he and I along with another wonderful Disney fan, Lori Burke (many of you know her from the We Wants the Redhead blog) ran the 2010 half marathon together.  It was freezing, it was snowing, and it was one of the most fun Disney events I've ever participated in.

So why did I title this image "the most beautiful sight"?  From about mile 3, I was longing to see Spaceship Earth up close, not because I'm such a fan of this Walt Disney World icon (actually I am - it's my favorite park icon of all), but more because it meant the FINISH LINE was close!!!

So here is a shot I took just after I made the "turn for home" to again pass by Spaceship Earth on the way to the finish less than a mile away (from here, it was probably somewhere around half a mile to go).

It's also fitting that I post this shot today.  The 2010 half marathon was my first ever endurance event.  This coming weekend (April 26th), I'll run/walk in my third Blue Ridge Half Marathon, billed as America's toughest road marathon (and they're not lying - check out the course for the half) and earlier this week, I registered for the 2015 Walt Disney World Dopey Challenge (I must be crazy).

So as you can see, running is on my mind lately, and I appreciate Mitch reminding me of all the fun I can have out on a freezing morning with a few thousand friends.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Photo Friday: Torch lighting at the Polynesian


Welcome to another Photo Friday!

This week, I asked some of my Facebook friends to help me choose a random photo from my Disney archive (thanks John Reilly!)

This shot is from March 2010 and is from the nightly torch lighting ceremony at the Polynesian Resort.  This, like so many other things at the various Disney resorts, is completely free.  Every night around sunset, cast members hold a brief ceremony in which the ceremonial torches are lit for the night. 

As you can see, there's a bit more to this than just popping a few matches... though I'll leave that fire-tasting stuff to the experts.

Enjoy and aloha!

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Introducing Mousekemeets 2014


It's here!  I'm so proud to announce that Mousekemeets 2014 will take place June 12 and 13 in Roanoke, Virginia, and I'm even prouder to announce that Lou Mongello from WDW Radio and Beci Mahnken from Mouse Fan Travel will be the key speakers.

There are a TON of events taking place, so go right over to Mousekemeets.com to read all about the events and to register.

Registration is limited to 150 people, so register today!

Sunday, April 6, 2014

A historical view of MK ticket prices

Click for a larger view

Back in February, Disney announced the next round of price hikes for park tickets.  Today a one-day, one-park (ODOP) ticket for the Magic Kingdom is $99.  Given that this price increase came in February, it's entirely possible (and, sadly, not unprecedented) that another price increase may come later in the year.

Thanks to the folks at AllEars.net, we can take a look back at the Magic Kingdom ticket prices since 1982 (that's when the old ticket books went away completely and regular park admission started).  Looking back at 1982, a Magic Kingdom ODOP ticket was just over $13, a mere fraction of today's price.  If you look at the chart above you'll notice that prices rose fairly steadily until the late 1990s.  When Bob Iger became Disney's CEO in 1999, a Magic Kingdom ODOP was $44 - more than four times what it was seventeen years earlier.  Now, in 2014, that same ODOP ticket is $99, more than double what it was just 15 years ago. 

Now I understand costs do go up each year, but what I'm most concerned about is Disney's pace of increase.  If you look at the trend line (the black line), you'll see that from 1982 to around 1992, the ticket price was just slightly above the trend, but pretty close.  From 1992 until 2002, ticket prices dropped below the trend line.  In 2003, that's when things really started to change.  Notice the general slope of the ticket price line starting in 2003 - it's much steeper than it had ever been.  That meant the price of tickets started increasing at a greater rate than before, and for the most part that new slope hasn't relaxed.

In the small chart above, you can see the percentage change of ticket prices from year to year.  After 1999, the percentage of change has been quite volatile, from no change to as much as 12-percent.  Granted, the economy over the last few years has been anything but stable, so I guess it's not much of a surprise to see volatility in Disney's pricing structure.

So what's the point behind all this?  Using a tool like this, we can attempt to predict what prices will be in the future.  Given this rate of increase at around 6% a year, we can expect a Magic Kingdom ODOP ticket to run around $105 next year (that is if they don't already do another price increase this year), and could be around $140 by 2020.  Stop and think about that -- by the time the Magic Kingdom celebrates it's 50th anniversary in 2021, a one-day one-park ticket will be ten times what it was just after the Magic Kingdom's 10th anniversary.  I can't think of too many things that cost ten times what they did about 40 years ago.  If gas prices followed the same rate of increase then one gallon of gas will cost $13 by 2020. 

Maybe now you'll see what I'm concerned about -- Disney pricing themselves out of business.  There will come a point when the average family will no longer see the overall value of a Disney vacation.  I know some are already wondering if it's really worth it.  Sure, the parks are packed and attendance is still strong right now, but it doesn't take much to change all that.  Would you still drive a car if gas cost $13 a gallon?

I'm not griping about ticket prices.  Yes, they're too high, but that's not my main point.  My concern is the value of a Disney vacation.  I want people to be able to afford a Disney vacation.  I want the average family to be able to enjoy the magic.  I want Walt Disney World and Disneyland to be the premier theme parks in the world and the standard for which all others reach.  The more and more a Disney vacation starts to get our of reach for the average family, the closer Disney becomes to developing a reputation as something for the elite only.  Walt was never an elitist and I think he'd never want his parks to become something only for the elite. 

I understand prices have to increase, i just hope Disney will realize that their prices are going up too fast and will slow down that rate of increase. 

Those little Disney details...


Those who are long-time readers of this blog have heard me make this suggestion many times - stop and take in all those little Disney details.  As if you may need proof, here's just one more example.

Walking across the bridge connecting the UK and France pavilions at Epcot, you will see along the lagoon a small ledge where someone was painting along the shoreline.  Take a closer look at the painting and you'll see that it's not just some random scene, it's actually a painting of the International Gateway.  It's also somewhat of a look back in time.  Back when the International Gateway was first opened, it had burgundy awnings, as is depicted in the painting.  Yet now the gateway's awnings are green.  Also, there are more trees now than there were in Epcot's early days.

Also if you'll look carefully, you'll also see something that you never would have seen anywhere along the Crescent Lake area - a small sailboat. 

It's these little details that make Disney such a rich and immersive experience, if you take the time to take them in.

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