Sunday, June 12, 2011

2012 DDP Changes

As if they had read the last entry, Disney has obliged and added the refillable mug in the standard 2012 Dining Plan.  This is a great addition for people like me who love their refillable mugs and would really be getting them anyway.  The Quick Service Dining plan is changing as well, offering only one snack per day rather than two.

There is no word on the possible price increase yet, but we will keep an eye on it and see if these additions come at a premium or if the DDP can still be a value in some situations.  I use a BIG dining spreadsheet to compute the value when I book my restaurants, as I am a bit of a Disney food nut.  What do you think?  Good changes or bad?

The official PDF dining brochures can be found here: Quick Service Dining and Standard Dining Plan

Friday, June 3, 2011

The Refillable Mug and You

$13.99 plus tax can give you the option to wet your whistle for the entirety of your Disney vacation.  But is it really worth your time and money to purchase one?  In principle, it sounds good, but it may not break down as a value depending on the way you use it.

To start, I am not a believer that they are the ultimate value because you can keep bringing them back and reusing them until your dishwasher makes it look like a blank do-it-yourself design mug.  Regardless, let us make the assumption that you are buying one per trip and throw the philosophical debate aside.
When my family travel to the World, we use our mugs in several ways.  First off, we are coffee addicts.  This means I frequently drink my bad diner coffee completely black and enjoy it that way (if you are unfamiliar with cheap diner coffee, or diners in general, schedule a visit to the northeast!)  That coffee is coming on the bus to park opening, and I might be lost without it.  Would it be cheaper to make coffee in the room every morning?  Possibly, but the convenience factor as you are trying to get your kids out the door counts for something. 

The trick to traveling with refillable mugs is simple.  Most of us tour with a backpack or bag of some sort.  A gallon size ziplock bag and some napkins now become the tools of the trade.  When you finish that beverage, grab stuff a few napkins to the bottom of the cups and seal them in the bag (usually I can get 2 to fit).  Congrats, you now have a leak-proof transport system!

Splitting two mugs between my family of three (soon to be four!) also off-sets the cost.  The variety of beverages at the stations, including the Gold Peak iced tea, regular tea, cocoa, and soft drinks help to have something with the wife and son want more than me trying to stock the hotel room with drinks.  I also almost never get a room with a refrigerator to keep drinks cold on those hot Orlando days.

At the value resorts (especially Pop Century) I often have to walk straight through the food court to get to my morning bus, adding to the convenience factor.  Breakfast is generally an in-room experience, also freeing up quite a bit of daily funds to put toward a few refillable mugs at the beginning of the trip.

The value of the mugs to me has always been in the convenience, variety, and the souvenir!  I use them more than once a week at home, just for some extra-geeky Disney fun!  Any other mug tips or tricks?  Think they are a good value?  Let us know!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Who should foot the bill?

First off, sorry about the time off between posts.  Family things, and stuff....

After reading a recent article on a Disney board, I was thinking about the general operating procedure in Epcot.  Apparently, the Norwegians are a bit miffed that their movie in the World Showcase still shows them working on Commodore 64 computers and stuck in the 80's.  TDO wants the Norwegian government to foot some of the bill, while the Norwegain government really doesn't want to make an investment in the estimated $20 million dollar project.  I do have to give a nod to our friends at the disney blog for bringing the issue up.

Is the time for sponsorship over?

It seems harder and harder to get companies and governments to  contribute to or finance attractions in Epcot, yet Disney chooses to stick to this original model rather than make the investment.
Wonders of Life Pavilion shortly after its final closure

The Wonders of Life pavilion is still closed due to lack of a corporate sponsor that was willing to foot the bill and is now forgotten among the overgrowth by many resort guests.  The movie at Norway is hopelessly outdated.  Spaceship Earth had little or no maintenance until Siemens agreed to step into the project. (Opinions on the result of this not withstanding!)  On the one side, it seems like Disney should have more pride in their offerings and provide periodic updates without having to seek out corporate partners.

The movies in the countries seem to fall into a different category than even the sponsored attractions.  Disney seems to consider them advertisements for travel to their respective countries, and therefore does not want to update them on their own.  Although this is very true, Disney may need to come to the realization that the economy simply prevents this kind of constant investment in a theme park attraction.  Not to mention that flights are so overpriced that even a Norway movie may not be enticing guests to fly across the pond at this point.

Does Disney have a responsibility to keep these attractions current (or even open) as they raise their prices?  Or are they right to continue to seek out sponsors and involve the governments of the pavilions they maintain?  Thoughts?