I’m not going to sugar coat it, much like Disney would. Here’s your bullet to your brain, Bambi’s Mom: Disney World is very expensive. To put it into perspective: a week at one of DW’s value resorts (basic but fun landscaping, basic room, basic pool, cafeteria type restaurant) equals one month of some poor soul’s HIV medication. Yeah. That much.
When I first realized that Disney wasn’t for the unwashed was when SharkBoy handed me a pamphlet of the various types of park entrance tickets, even before we talked about flights or hotels. I remember it well because after seeing the prices I wanted to run screaming into the mall (ProTip: there are usually park info kiosks in every Disney store). I don’t know what I was expecting, maybe something around $100 per person for the week because it was Disney and Disney = nice! Not expensive or seemingly greedy. Oh how Disney naive I was. I couldn’t believe the prices for just going into a bloody amusement park.
Of course, it’s more than just an amusement park. If you want that, go get overcharged at Universal (bazinga!). At the time I didn’t know how much more the parks actually were than just rides and carnival. I can say that the entrance fees are steep, but worth it. And with careful planning and knowing what you’re going to do while there and how you’re going to get around you can save yourself some dollars.
Here’s another reality you may have to take a .22 to the brain for: Splurge on the park tickets.
When I opened the pamphlet my eyes immediately saw prices starting in the hundreds. Next to the prices that went up in $50/$100 increments for add-ons and extra days. I went apeshit in my head. Take a look at this US$ screen shot from Disney’s own site:
SharkBoy pulled me off the ceiling and explained that like all good sliding marketing variables, the price of a daily ticket goes down the more days/options you buy.
In my little screen grab you’ll see that I’ve chosen a Seven Day, Park Hopper with Water Park option ticket, for the grand total of $380US. We always choose the Park Hopper with Water Parks for a couple reasons: As we get old, we like to cut the day in bits: morning at one park, back to the hotel for shower (it is hot muggy Florida, you know) or disco nap or both, dinner at Epcot or Hollywood Studios and off to where the best fireworks are that night. You could say we’re A.D.D. old farts.
I can’t imagine not getting the Hopper option. I would expect if you did then you’re the kind of person who knows EXACTLY how you’re going to spend EACH DAY in EACH PARK without any kind of deviation to your plans. That’s fucking hard core, man. And strangely anal.
Don’t get me wrong, we’re freakishly organized ahead of time. There is an EXCEL spread sheet on SharkBoy’s hard drive that has our days at the parks planned out, but when we get there, we have the option of lighting that list on fire and dancing around it like Lost Boys. We like he liberty that the Hopper option affords. We choose it mostly for another factor, dining, which I’ll get to in another post…
The water parks are something I’d be kind of upset if we didn’t go to because Disney’s Blizzard Beach and Typhoon Lagoon are the two best themed, most beautiful landscaped parks I’ve ever been in. I don’t think I would go if I was going less than three days though, because that would cut into park time big time. But they are beautiful, a lot of fun and welcome on a hot Florida day.
I digress. These are the options we’ve always chosen and they’ve always been good for us. You can say we like the structure but yet love the option of veering off the plan to something unexpected. I know I would be seriously disappointed if I discovered after entering a park on a non-Hopper ticket that the fireworks for the night were at another park.
Take into consideration that you’ll probably not use a day in the park on the day you’re leaving Orlando so you can drop a day if need be, but the savings isn’t that much if you’ve been there over 5 days (ooo you got yourself the price of a extra fancy Starbucks coffee!). If you’re around for a half day, that’s a good time to visit Downtown Disney and shop for crap. This isn’t much of a tip, so much to make the pricing scheme less daunting.
Next up, I’ll talk a bit about hotels! See you real soon!
In less than 80 days, SharkBoy and I will be going on a dream vacation.
Okay not a DREAM vacation, like seeing the Khmer Rouge Killing Fields or viewing a radioactive hole in the ground at Chernobyl, no. We’re going back to the World. That is, Disney World. The added plus for this vacation, the added spin, is that we’re spending 4 days on Disney’s newest ship, The Dream (see what I did there?). Go look at the video if only to see the freaking waterslide that hangs over the side of the ship! (singsong)Awwwesome!(/singsong)
The ship will be literally one month old when we board. The carpet will be fresh. The staff will be sparkling. The linen will be bed bug free (I hope). By the time we get on board, Sharkboy estimates that no less than 8 families/couples will have used our room. I have a good feeling that we’ll be the first queer couple to be in that particular cabin. I’ve been fantasizing that we’ll be the first gay couple to travel on the Dream, too.
Which brings me to my first moment of pre-vacation dread. The Disney cruises are super-“family” orientated. When you arrive at the port, you are called onto the gangplank thusly: a cluster of crew gather at the entrance, shipside, and with microphone in hand, announce your arrival on the ship. Thankfully there’s no real big audience other than staff, since everyone is eager to explore and get to their rooms.
If you’re thinking ahead, you’ve seen my dread. Two 45-something bald guys coming on board together, no kids, get microphoned across the ship’s atrium. While I’m dying to know how we’ll be announced (“Announcing Mr and Mr Paquette-Healey!!”), I don’t do well with everyone looking at my big gay entrance. Well we’ve always said we should live a little more “out and proud”. Not that I’m saying gay people should be seen, not heard. Fuck that. If you can’t handle my “family” then fuck off. No, I’m worried that there is a stigma of pedophilia that surrounds the notion of two middle aged men on a ship where at least half the populace are children. I’ve seen the concern in parents’ eyes before when SharkBoy and I travel to Disney: moms culling their children closer when we join a touring group, or ride, or bus. SharkBoy generally diffuses these situations with a kind word or a joke and we all relax – something he does quite well on DisneyWorld busses for some reason. Which will be a future post.
Despite being reassured from every person who’s been onboard and by Disney’s own marketing materials, the ship isn’t just for kids. There are designated areas for adults only and such. But I know that we’re going to get the questioning looks. Thankfully our last cruise (the one where I was surprised that when you sail out of New Jersey you have to suffer with spending two weeks with people from New Jersey) has taught me not to give one flying fuck what other people think of you and you should be having your own fun on vacation.
Actually I’m not that chuffed. From what I’ve read on various cruise web forums, the Disney ships might be devoid of gay passengers, but the gay crew will latch onto you like cultural leeches. Extra desserts for me!
Curiously inversely, our last cruise was our longest at 12 days, while this one will be the shortest at 4 days, at literally the same price. We board on Sunday, Monday is Nassau, then over to their private island, Castaway Cay, then home. I figure that’s the best amount of time for being on a self contained floating city where 2/3rd of the populace adores Dora the Explorer.
In the next couple days I’ll be writing about tips and tricks for visiting the World. I hope you come back soon and check them out!
Have a magical day!
Update: Thanks to W in the comments, this thread over on DIS makes the p-vacation dread disappear