I changed my mind so many times while trying to write this post. It started as a ‘saving time versus saving money’, but it never came across how I wanted it too. So I changed it to Disney upgrades, are they worth it?
When visiting Disney, I do believe that time is money and if I can pay to do something quicker or to save time I will. That being said, you might not feel the same so here are a list of things that I have done on my trips to Disney with and extremely honest opinion as to whether I think that upgrade is worth the price or not.
Personally, I do not believe paying for deluxe hotels or concierge/ club level rooms to be worth the price. Unless however they are free. I have stayed at value and moderate resorts and prices range from $100-$250 a night, deluxe rooms start from $450 and then add on $200 a night for concierge or club level. For the amount of time you spend in a hotel room or resort the price for me never makes it worth it for me. We are frequent visitors who just use the resort room to sleep and get ready, I can rely on the internal bus system and don’t need to stay on the boat or monorail loop to get value for money.
There might be a few exceptions to the needing or wanting to upgrade the hotel rooms such as a celebration, a wedding or anniversary, where you want to relax and take it easy if or you are frequent visitors so you have time to take in all the resort offerings. However, to most Disney has a ‘get up and go’ culture that we certainly fall in to, we are rarely in our resorts or rooms so get no value for money choosing the most expensive resort or room.
One thing we do like to do is hotel hop. Normally on a Saturday or Sunday within our trip we will visit as many hotel resorts as we can, just to look at them and see what they offer, look at they restaurant or pool and escape a busy day at the parks. This to me is one of my favourite ‘non-park day things’ to do. My favourite to visit are the three on the monorail loop. Hotel hopping is completely free so recommend it to everyone. Especially during seasonal events such as Christmas or Halloween, each hotel will be spectacularly decorated and worth being seen at least once.
I do believe that upgrading regular tickets to park hoppers is worth it. Even first timers. It gives you freedom and choice, under the new ticketing system adding a park hopper can cost around $20 extra per day per ticket. There has been many Disney days where we have had set plans but changed our minds last minute and wanted to ‘pop’ to another park. On MNSSHP/ MVMCP days, I would suggest doing MK in the morning and visiting another park in the evening as many day guests won’t have the hopper option and won’t want to waste a park day in MK if the park shuts at 6pm. As a UK guest the park hopper is included in the 7/14/21 day ticket.
Annual pass upgrades are a trickier subject. Under the new pricing structure a regular annual pass costs $952. With that you get memory maker, 20% off merchandise, certain dining and snack locations, park hopper, regular parking and no block out dates. In order for this to be beneficial to any guests you would need to visit over 11 days within a year. Only one person in the party would need an annual pass for everyone in the family to enjoy memory maker option or discounts.
Disney Dining Plan
Unless it is free, it is not worth it. Currently starting at $52 per day for the quick service plan and up to $116 per day for the deluxe dining plan. It is not worth it, the amount of food that is needed to recoup the costs would mean that you would need to eat all day everyday and experience nothing else. Your choices of meals on the menu are limited, we would rather pay out of pocket an each as much or little as we like.
Totally worth it, as I said in my Rivers of Light dessert party post. You pay for the premium viewing, no queues and that alone is worth the cost, the desserts and drinks are an added bonus.
Fantasmic dessert and VIP viewing is $39, this is low compared to the other parties, as it is one box of little treat and you sit straight down in the theatre, it is not an all you can eat party. Frozen Ever After dessert party and Rivers of Light dessert party both cost $79. Happily Ever After dessert party costs $59/$79 depending on location. The cheaper option of the two, garden view is actually the best view. If you want value for money, go for the Frozen Ever After dessert party as that offers the Frozen ride mixed in after the fireworks show.
Early Morning Magic/ Disney After Hours
These are hard ticket events, so the price is not included in your regular park ticket. Early morning magic is currently offered in Magic Kingdom’s Fantasyland and Hollywood Studio’s Toy Story Land. Both sell a limited amount of tickets (around 15/20) at $79 for 1.5 hours early access, the price also include breakfast and unlimited access to certain rides. Fantasyland’s early morning magic from December will include 6 attractions and a princess meet and greet, the current event offers three rides and no princess meet and greet, it is not worth it, but the new one from December definitely is. The Toy Story Land early morning magic I would consider it worth as a time saving technique, as a new land that is extremely crowded in the day, to have the access to the new land and the two new rides that are on the same tier, so you would never get fast passes for both on the same day (unless you were staying club level in deluxe resorts).
Attending Disney After Hours was one of my favourite Disney experiences. There is a separate review for this however, to have the park pretty much to ourselves will be something I will never forget, every ride and meet and greet was a walk on, so few people around. It really felt like the park was ours. Our tickets cost us $119 plus tax, however the price has just increased to $125, that to me is still worth it.
(Updated February 2019) Disney After Hours has now been introduced to Hollywood Studios and Animal Kingdom.
Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party/ Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party
Again, both hard ticket events, so you will need a separate ticket on top of your regular park ticket if you wanted to attend. Both events tickets range in price, the further out from Halloween or Christmas it is, the cheaper the price. The closer to the event the more you pay. Both tickets ranger from $69-$109. I have attended four Halloween parties and one Christmas party.
I love the Halloween party, it is the only time of the year adults can dress up as their favourite characters, special characters come out for meet and greets, there are speciality treats to buy, trick or treating round the park and special shows. Hallowishes is one of my favourite shows across all the Disney parks. The last MNSSHP we attended was just after Irma had hit, it was extremely crowded and it had put is off visiting this time.
MVMCP is extremely magical and if I am honest I think I would attend this event over MNNSHP. The Christmas parade is amazing, princesses is horse drawn carriages, characters dresses up in festive clothing and snow falling on Main Street. Elsa’s Frozen Holiday Wish was a highlight for me, I cried, seriously. Characters from Frozen are on the castle stage and Elsa uses all her magic to light over 300,000 lights on Cindy’s castle. Magical. There is an unlimited supply of ‘holiday’ flavoured cookies, egg nog, cocoa and warm apple cider. Again rare characters come out for a meet and greets. The parade and firework show during MVMCP finish on the 22nd December and become part of the day in MK so if you can’t afford the price of the event ticket, just visit Magic Kingdom on the day of the 23rd, 24th and 25th December to see them.
If I had to choose just one event, I would pick the Christmas party.
I have already written a review on Minnie Vans, but for those who haven’t read it, here is a quick summary. We used a Minnie Van for an early morning breakfast reservation and it cost around $25 plus tip, in comparison in a regular Lyft for another early morning breakfast reservation cost us $7. The Vans are extremely cute but the uplift in price is without a question not worth it.
What are your thoughts on some of the upgrades Walt Disney World offer? Would you pay for them? Do you visit any special events? What are you thoughts on paid for upgrades? Let me know in the comments