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Walt Disney World Overview

May 6-13, 2009

This trip we were on Disney's Platinum Package. Our last visit on a Disney package was in 2000 and our last Grand/Admiral level package was back in 1994 so this was a special treat for us. This package includes just about everything/anything you can image. We received 3 meals a day and 2 snacks. Plus unlimited recreation and tours. As well as VIP viewing of Wishes, Illuminations, a fireworks cruise, La Nouba, and more... We had about 30 reservations made for meals, recreation, and tours.


Thoughts & Observations:

  • Hard to believe but this marked my 21st visit to the Walt Disney World Resort (with the first one being in 1981). I have a listing on the site info page if you are curious as to the resorts and years...

  • We decided to play along with the Disney Celebrate Today theme and explained that the reason for this trip was my parents 35th anniversary and my brother and I were taking them on the trip. We were quite surprised that there was no real mention of this celebration at the resort or any of the dining locations. On a previous trip, I believe it was for their 30th anniversary we were greeted in the room with flowers, cookies, and a card. Then at several of the dinners (Yachtsman, etc..) we received desserts with happy anniversary on them or something. Overall a nice touch. We were expecting something similar this trip but instead were met with some free buttons that the CM at the front desk went and got after they asked us what we were celebrating. This was a little disappointing and surprising since the celebration theme is stressed (I think a little too much) everywhere and drilled into you.

  • We did receive an upgrade in our room to the main Tower and a Magic Kingdom view. We requested/paid for a garden view. I am guessing this was due to the Platinum plan. I did enjoy being able to see the Seven Seas Lagoon from bed or the Magic Kingdom at all hours of the day. Was it worth the extra $100 or so a night, probably not in my mind due to the fact that we did not spend a lot of time in the room... but it was great.

  • Surprised to learn the computers have been removed from the rooms. We thought this was a nice touch and worked well with the Contemporary theme... the CM at the concierge desk said it was a limited time test and at this time there were no plans to bring them back.

  • We went to the max with planning this trip in order to maximize the plan. We had the following reservations set up: 13 dining , 3 golfing, 4 fishing, 1 parasailing, 5 tours, 1 fireworks cruise, 1 carriage ride, 1 circ show, and 1 spa treatment spread out over the 8 days. So in short we were fairly well scheduled and had some blocks of time devoted to the parks,but not much. Our main objective with the parks was to see what was new, what changed, and then some of our favorites. We described this plan to many people as a cruise without the ship... and some theme parks to visit instead of ports.

  • We really enjoyed the Platinum plan but I would be hard pressed to recommend it to anyone but a "frequent" or "repeat" WDW guest. In order to truly get your "moneys worth" you need to participate in the recreation and tours and allocate time for the meals. If you are trying to maximize your time in the parks these will really conflict. In the end we ended up "spending" quite a bit more than what the plan actually costs (it also helped substantially that we booked when they had a 25% off promotion running). If anyone is interested in a deeper financial analysis just let me know...

  • I was a little surprised by a couple things that were dropped from the "top plan". We went on the Grand Plan/Admiral Plan in the past and had some expectations of things and they were not done any more:
    • Turndown service... it was not so much the turn down service we missed but instead the great mints/chocolate that was left in the room each night
    • Small gifts/extras... we received a gift and small tokens most days of the trip. For example we received sipper bottles one day, a Yacht and Beach club umbrella another, a small game, etc.. they were not big items, maybe worth $20 or so at Disney's inflated prices.. but they were nice
    • Before we arrived a plan coordinator did work with us to make all the necessary reservations (and they did get us some great seats for La Nouba and the Spirit of Aloha show plus dining reservations at our choice locations at the times we wanted) but we did not receive the itinerary on check in. Luckily I printed a copy of the email so I had it.. but last time it was in a nice envelop and there in our welcome packet.
    • Speaking of welcome packet the front desk really did not know how to check in the plan. They checked us in and I had to ask where our vouchers, etc.. were... they ended up having to go to the safe to get them. Not sure why it was not clear in the notes and if I had not asked they probably would not have figured it out for a while if at all.
    • It is slightly annoying and led to more time at each meal the way tips are handled now. Tips are no longer included on the Disney dining plans, except at the dinner shows and room service. So the server would bring the bill and ask us to fill in the tip. They would then take the card and bill and ring up the plan, and then charge the tip to the room for us.
    • Another minor annoyance for people like me (who track everything) is the receipts you received at the end were zero 'd out. In other words the plan takes over and you get a receipt with all zeros as the costs then your remaining meals at the bottom. We ended up having to handwrite the totals from the original/tip receipt. Or at the counter service/snack places we had to watch the register and remember/write it down. A small annoyance but an annoyance.

  • Also included on this package was a PhotoPass CD. Unfortunately due to our limited time in the park we did not take that many pictures. There was also a voucher for a free 5x7. The Photopass CD contains the original higher resolution versions of the pictures. The pricing for this CD is $129.95 + $7 shipping. I have never been that impressed with the quality of the Photopass pictures you see on the preview website nor the photographers... but they do seem to be getting better with time. Anyways the quality on the CD is much better than the website but still not sure its worth all that. You can customize/crop/etc.. the photos and get higher resolution versions of those too. We ran into problems with the CD.. first the code we were given expired back in December (and we went in May). A quick call to the Photopass people after an email to the platinum plan folks at the Contemporary and this was resolved. We entered the code and order our CD. It arrived rather quickly, I want to say less than a week. Unfortunately the CD itself was damaged.. there was some sort of glue or residue on the bottom. I was able to recover/copy 51 of the 54 pictures on the disk. I contacted the photopass people asking for the other three and they said I could mail back the disk to them (at my expense) and they would send a replacement. Since I did not care about the photos and did not want to spend any money on them I kept the bad disk but if I had paid the $137 for the disk I would have been really disappointed. As a "free" add on it was ok. It probably would have been worth more to us if we had spent more time in the parks and had more Photopass pictures.