Universal Follow Up With Even Bigger price Increases!

Well, what a shocker!
Just days after Disney lifted their prices, here comes Universal doing the same, if not more to lighten your wallet next vacation!

A $4 increase on adult and kid day passes takes you up to $96 and $90 respectively.

But the two day park to park passes seem to have rocketed out of this Universe (ha!!)
Now this most popular pass, will set you back a small fortune!
From $146.99 to $175.99 for adults!

While I am in no doubt that it is going to be worth it in a few months time, I honestly think that the gold inside the Gringotts Bank has gone to the head of their Parks CEO Thomas Williams!

At peak times of the year, the parks are already rammed full of guests that have little option to ‘head to a quieter park’.  Unlike WDW, Islands of Adventure and Universal Studios can peak out very quickly, leaving 60 minute + line waits for almost all of the popular attractions.
At the height of the season, without the added benefit of the seasonally priced  Express Plus system, you could easily hand over your $96 for a regular day pass and gain the pleasure of 2 attractions in the morning, a lengthy wait for lunch and a couple of attractions in the afternoon.  At $25 a ride, no, I don’t think that is value for money!

Sorry Disney ‘erm, I mean Universal!

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Disney are Stealing the Magic!

More often than not, when such a huge organisation as Disney is involved, opinions matter very little.  Facts and data are what drives decisions.
When the latest price increases were being considered, Disney would have most certainly expected a backlash, but calculated that it was indeed worth taking the risk.
The slight U-turn on Tuesday, offering a free extra day, hasn’t just been dreamed up as a panic reaction.  That scenario will already have been planned in the event that we all got a little restless in cyberland.
In a way, it kind of shows that Disney can do pretty much whatever they want with pricing, yet ‘appear’ to be considerate to popular opinion by offering an olive branch.
In reality, the percentage of 6 person groups that can benefit from this latest ‘giveaway’ is minimal and the average park guests will have to take it on the chin, dig deeper into their wallets and decide what to cut back on to make up the $72 difference that it now costs a family of 5 to enter WDW for 6 days.
If $72 doesn’t sound too bad, then always bear in mind, that every family has finite resources, that Disney appear to be desperate to get their hands on, whatever it takes!

As I checked out one of my favorite forums last night (wdwmagic), some rather smart forum members quite rightly pointed out that Disney appear to be resting on their ‘magic laurels’ a little too heavily.  Sure, they can think they are making tons of money now, but what happens in 10 years time, when the existing army of Disney fans, steadily gets replaced by the younger ‘Universal’ fans that were brought up on ‘Wizardry, rather than Pixie Dust’?

Personally, I can’t see that day coming for me, but my own kids, most definitely, and it already beginning to happen as they evolve from a lifetime of the Simpsons, Despicable Me, and of course Harry Potter himself.

Don’t be too sure that the Disney Magic will last forever for everyone!

Disney Ticket Prices – To Infinity and Beyond!

Well where did that latest Disney ticket increase come from?
Out of the blue, with no warning whatsoever, Disney rudely slapped another $4 onto the entrance fee for a single park ticket.
Sure, i agree it is still worth it, and don’t Disney know that.  Trouble is, there are many that don’t think it is worth it, as ‘The Most Magical Place on Earth’ steadily evolves into ‘The Most Privileged Place on Earth’.

A hundred bucks to enter?

Some observers are anticipating more, and one unofficial Orlando Guide Blog makes a sensible argument for $150+ by 2025!
Personally, I think they are way off the mark.  My aim is nearer $200!  Seriously!

Sure I will be at the Magic Kingdom in 2025, but will I be able to afford a Mickey Premium?
By then the current price of $3.75 will have risen to around $5.75 and heaven knows how much they will be charging to take a ‘pee’!

By then, expect all water fountains, toilet paper dispensers and first aid room doors to be magicband operated, with deductions from your credit or debit card made the moment you flush, slurp our stumble!

Ok, so will it really be that bad?
No, but my cynical attitude does bear some reality; if Disney can charge more for anything, and get away with it, they certainly will.
We aren’t being conned here by this huge corporate giant, we are the ones that are letting ourselves be dazzled.  Disney aren’t in the business of making happiness any more, that concept died long ago.  Instead, they are whole heartedly focussed on making money and we should never ever forget that as our favorite characters, magical music and wonderful parades fill our hearts with fantasy on our next visit!

Apologies to any Disney fans reading this, I woke up this morning and the world seems very different!

Disney Quest Review Hints at a Problem in DTD

Looking skyward at the futuristic structure of the Disney Quest building

Disney Quest takes a big hit this week as the Orlando Sentinel’s Arts Writer makes a visit to Downtown Disney’s big interactive family entertainment and play centre in the heart of the district’s West Side.

With many fabulous digital games to play, Disney Quest is famed for acting as a fun filled haven for rainy days in Orlando, but Matthew Palm didn’t feel that things were going too well for the indoor attraction when he visited recently with friends.

His article suggests that a number of the activities were defective or just plain tired, including game such as the ‘not so 3-D’ Pirates of the Caribbean game, that left everyone with double vision.  Other games such as PACMAN had broken joysticks, adding to the sense that Disney Quest was definitely showing its age since its debut in 1998.

I mirror the feelings of Matthew’s party of fun seekers; Why?

Take a trip to the Magic Kingdom and litter can barely flutter to the floor before being grabbed and pinched by those ever present aluminum ‘nippers’.  Ever seen a partly broken attraction in WDW?  No, neither have we.  They either get shut down, or rectified overnight.  Why on earth would a premium attraction costing adults $45 and kids $39 be in a state of disrepair?

Could it be, that Disney budgets are well and truly broken right now?
Disney are making record profits of late, so they are hardly stuck for cash, but that is entirely different to ‘having enough budget for repairs and replacement’.
Once a department has spent its limit, though luck, there’s no more left.  Perhaps the manager in charge of Disney Quest is confusing financial responsibility with guest satisfaction.  Whatever the cause of the tight fisted stance at Disney Quest, it is most un-Disney like!

Some alternative possible explanations, although far from an acceptable excuse, is that the attraction isn’t destined to stick around for long.  Maybe a better alternative is being planned as part of the Disney Springs project and maybe Disney Quest is doomed in its current form.  Regardless of all this, Disney should make the efforts to offer a quality experience for all of its guests in every tiny corner of its vast empire.
After all, it really isn’t short of cash!

PUSH Update – No More Talk From the Trash Can at Disney

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One thing that I have learned over the years as a Disney travel writer is that Disney fans and change go together like Minnie Mouse and Spiderman.
I can understand many reasons for this, especially when change comes in the form of REMOVAL.  If something is ADDED, then the problem seems a little less emotional, but when something is sent into the archives forever, so too must our treasured moments from our childhood.  Those special features of the parks are painful to lose when we return with our own kids, excited to see what we ourselves loved so much.

This last few weeks has seen a little excitement as one of Disney World’s favorite little characters appeared to be headed the garbage dump after doing his bit for almost 20 years to keep the park clean, and guests laughing.

‘PUSH the talking trash can’ had a special Facebook Page to try and save him from the scrap heap, and at points even the Orlando Sentinel joined in to support the beleif that Disney and PUSH would stay a team.

Over Sunday February 9th, a few fan sites appeared to dig up some dirt on what had possibly caused the confusion over PUSH.  One of my favorite sites for news ‘Walt Disney World News Today‘ revealed a little insight that PUSH wasn’t actually a piece of Disney property, but an external performer that had been contacted into the parks.

With ‘almost 20 years of service’ as a big clue, it would be reasonable to expect that Disney’s contract with PUSH’s owner/creator/operator was about to come to an end.
Although speculation right now, one possible cause of concern for Disney has been hinted by WDWNT.com.
If Disney felt that the online campaign to ‘save PUSH’ had been created deliberately as a negotiation method, I can understand them feeling that this wasn’t going to work out for the good.

Right now, reliable sources such as WDWNT and TouringPlans are marking the demise of the cute little bin as ‘a done deal’.

USA is the Last in the World to Ditch Swipe & Sign Payments

Credit Card swipe

Despite rocketing credit and debit card fraud in the USA, the land of opportunity for thieves is the only developed nation that clutches on to the easily corruptible ‘Swipe & Sign’ payment system.

Soon, the days of handing your card to a waitress to disappear out back will be over and I for one simply don’t think it is soon enough.

Towards the beginning of 2015, card purchases will require the purchaser to enter their PIN code to complete a transaction.  The step is expected to greatly reduce fraudulent transactions that at times appear to run wildly out of control in many areas.

In the meantime, watch your bank statements carefully, just in case a 5 star hotel in Las Vegas appears from nowhere!  That is exactly what happened to us a few years ago.
The most likely cause?  A duplicate card swipe and a forged signature taken while my wife’s card was out of view.

Although the bank responded swiftly thanks to the overwhelming proof that we were in Orlando rather than Vegas, it would have been real easy to overlook a few hundred dollars mixed in with all of the other usual vacation expenses.
That of course is what the fraudsters are hoping for.  Your card goes out back, they take what they need and off you go into the Florida sunshine!

Thankfully, the new PIN system offers more protection and cards will no longer disappear out back for 10 or 15 minutes!

One question:  Why has it taken America so long to catch up?