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April 5, 2017

Express Transportation at Walt Disney World Theme Parks

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When I first heard about Walt Disney World's new Express Transportation service a few months ago, I was a bit skeptical.

Sure, it sounded good on paper -- travel from theme park to theme park, bypassing main park entrance check-ins and long waits for standard bus transportation, or having to drive and park yourself -- but would people really be willing to PAY for this service?

I finally had the chance to try it out myself and I have to admit I'm a skeptic no more.

When the service was first launched earlier this year, it cost $15 for a single day, or $24 for up to seven consecutive days. One sign that the service has caught on and that people ARE willing to pay? The price has already jumped in just a few short months, to $19/$29 respectively.

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So here's how it works:

You can purchase this service at Guest Relations or at the actual Express Transportation check-in area in each of the parks. To be eligible to purchase, though, you must have a valid WDW ticket that has the Park Hopper option. This includes Annual Passes. Note that there are no discounts for children ages 3-9, but children under 3 are free.

Once you've paid up, the option is added to your My Disney Experience account, so that all cast members need to do is scan your MagicBand or RF card before you board.

You check in for the bus service at one of the four Express Transportation locations. As of this writing they are:

-- In Magic Kingdom: near the exit of Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger Spin in Tomorrowland

-- In Epcot: on the east side of Spaceship Earth (actually on your left as you're coming in from the park's main entrance)

-- In Disney's Hollywood Studios: in what they call "Coaster Courtyard," which is behind the Rock 'n' Roller Coaster, near the Sunset Showcase

-- In Disney's Animal Kingdom: along the side of the Dawa Bar in Africa (the path that leads down to Festival of the Lion King) NOTE: On the flyer, the location is given as in front of Kilimanjaro Safari, but it had moved to the Dawa Bar location as of my visit last week.

When you check in, tell the cast member which park you are hopping to, and they'll let you know when the next departure is. Each park has its own bus, and they run about every 30 minutes.

A few minutes before departure, a cast member will usher you backstage (remember, no photos allowed in backstage areas!) and you will board the WDW bus to your next park. I had thought perhaps it would be a mini-van or smaller shuttle bus, but nope, it's a regular, full-size bus. On one trip, there were only four other passengers besides me; on another there were eight of us in total.

The bus takes you to your destination and you are greeted by another cast member who guides you through the backstage area and out into the park. No waiting for a bus or the tram to the parking lot, or wandering around looking for your car in the simmering Orlando heat. No driving to and from theme parks. And best of all you completely bypass security bag-checks and long lines at the turnstiles.

What a timesaver! Especially during peak seasons, like this past week with its spring break crowds! My trip from the Studios to Epcot took 17 minutes, from the time I boarded until the time I was walking under Spaceship Earth. I was lucky that I didn't have long to wait for a bus, but even the next day when I was traveling from Animal Kingdom, I only had to wait about 10 minutes before the next bus to Epcot. I felt that it saved me a lot of time and trouble -- plus I had a few minutes to snack on a Mickey pretzel while I waited.

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The Express Transportation service starts at 10 a.m. and is supposed to run until the parks close. One of the days I was using it however, I saw this sign, noting that the service ended at 8 p.m. that evening. Be sure to check the closing time if you're planning to use it to shuttle between the parks later at night.

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All things considered, I think Express Transportation is a fabulous idea, and I will definitely use the service again when I'm planning a day of multi-park hopping. I think the price is a little steep for families though, since there are no discounts for children -- $76 for one day for a family of four, or $116 for a week? Ouch. On the other hand, if you have room in your budget, it does save you time and hassle, and with a couple little ones in tow, that might make the difference between a pleasant day and... well, an unpleasant one.

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Have you tried this new service? Do you think it's worth the money? Let us know in the comments below!





April 17, 2017

A Trip to the Lost and Found

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I've been visiting Walt Disney World for the better part of 25 years, and I really thought I had seen it all -- ridden every ride, seen every show, stayed at every resort. But during a recent trip, I discovered an area of the World that I had never been to before. The Lost and Found.

Flash back to a few weeks ago. It was a lovely spring morning in Orlando, and I was so happy to be starting Day 3 of a non-working, get-away weekend at Walt Disney World with my husband.

"Uh oh." I heard him say, as he was looking through his wallet. "I think I lost my credit card."

Ugh. I think we all know that sinking feeling, right? After taking a few minutes to mentally retrace his steps, he determined he must have left it the previous evening at the Hollywood Brown Derby Lounge, where we'd had a drink before going inside the restaurant for dinner.

I looked at the time -- not even 9 a.m. I didn't think anyone would be at the restaurant yet, but thought it might be worth trying to call over there. I knew that lost items would eventually be sent to the central Lost and Found location, but because each of the parks has its own Lost and Found at Guest Relations, I hoped that maybe they still had the card there. There was no answer when we called the restaurant's direct line, so we headed over to Disney's Hollywood Studios.

Once there, we split up -- my husband went to the restaurant while I waited in line at Guest Relations. After a few minutes, he rejoined me, empty-handed. When I got to the front of the line a cast member told me we were too late -- all lost items had already been sent on to Central Lost and Found. In fact, they were probably sent after park closing the night before. She gave me their card and told me to call them some time after 1 p.m.

Which of course we did. At the stroke of 1 o'clock my husband called and gave his info to the cast member. After a few tense moments while the cast member looked around, I saw a smile spread over my husband's face. The wayward card had been found! The cast member told my husband to come over no later than 7 p.m. that night to retrieve the card at the Central Lost and Found location at the Transportation and Ticket Center.

Secure in the knowledge that our credit card was secure, we were able to enjoy the rest of the day, soaking up the sunshine and the glorious Epcot Flower and Garden Festival. By the time 5 o'clock rolled around, my husband was anxious to pick up his card.

"I'll go, you don't have to come," he told me. That's when I realized I had no idea where he was going beyond "over to the TTC." "Are you kidding?" I replied. "In the name of Research, I MUST see the Lost and Found center!"

We took the monorail over to the TTC, but weren't sure exactly where to go from there. If there was a sign, we didn't see it, and the card we had said only "on the east side" of the TTC. Which way was east?

We walked toward the trams to the parking lots and looked right, then left.

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Aha! Over to the left, my husband spied a sign.

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We followed the arrow, and a short distance ahead of us we saw it -- Central Lost and Found.

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It's a quiet location, as you might guess -- not a lot of activity over there, and there also didn't seem to be an overabundance of staff. There was a family ahead of us, hoping against hope to find their teenage son's prescription sunglasses that he'd left... well, somewhere. No luck, but they filled out a form hopefully so that they could be contacted if the glasses turned up.

As they left, my husband told the cast member that he was there to claim his credit card and that he'd been told it was in Vault 24. The cast member disappeared to locate the mysterious "vault," which gave me the chance to look around the room.

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Very utilitarian, but with cute Disney touches and a spacious, if not plush, waiting area.

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Finally, the cast member returned, had my husband show his ID and then sign for the reclaimed article.

So our story had a very happy ending, and I got to explore a previously unknown corner of Walt Disney World, making my knowledge of the Most Magical Place on Earth more nearly complete.

If you discover that you've lost something while vacationing in Walt Disney World, here are a few tips.

-- Try to pinpoint where you lost the item, as best you can. Also try to recall when you last saw the item, or when you think you may have lost it.

-- If you need to file a lost article form, provide as much detail about the item that you can. There are hundreds caps, cameras and pairs of sunglasses lost each week in the World -- the more detail you can provide the better able Lost and Found cast will be able to pair you with your recovered item.

-- Call before you decide to make the trip over to Central Lost and Found, to save yourself a wasted journey. Items lost in the parks the previous day are generally delivered to Lost and Found by 1 p.m.

In general, these are Disney's policies on retaining lost items:

Every Walt Disney World theme park and water park has a lost and found in its Guest Relations office. Most items are kept there for a day.

If you realize later that you've lost something, you'll need to contact Central Lost and Found at 407-824-4245. As I said above, Central Lost and Found is physically located at the Transportation and Ticket Center and is open seven days a week, between 9 a.m. and 7 p.m. They can also be reached by mail if you need to contact them once you get home at PO Box 10000, Lake Buena Vista, FL 32830-1000. Lost and Found keeps valuable items (wallets, purses, credit cards, prescription glasses and cameras) for 90 days. Items of lesser value (sunglasses, hats, toys and clothes) are only held for 30 days.

If you lost an item at a Disney Resort Hotel, it will be turned in to the hotel's Lobby Concierge.

If you've lost something on a Walt Disney World Bus, it will be turned in to the nearest Guest Relations location at a theme park and then delivered to the Lost and Found at the Transportation and Ticket Center within 24 hours.

If you lost something on the Monorails or Magic Kingdom Watercraft, it will be kept on board until the end of the day and then turned in to Lost and Found at the Transportation & Ticket Center.

If you lost something at Disney Springs, it will be turned in to Guest Relations at the Welcome Center in Town Center. After three days, it will be delivered to Lost and Found at the Transportation & Ticket Center.

If you lost something at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex it will be turned in to, and will be kept at, Guest Services there.

And if you lost something on Disney's Magical Express, and it's been lost for less than 30 minutes, contact 866-599-0951. If the item has been lost for more than 30 minutes, you'll have to contact Mears Transportation Group at 407-423-5566.

Let's hope you never have to pay a visit to Central Lost and Found, but, life being what it is, you just may have to some day. No one really WANTS to go there (except someone like me!), but it's nice to know that it IS there if you need it, it's easy to get to, and is very efficiently run.






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About April 2017

This page contains all entries posted to AllEars® Team Blog in April 2017. They are listed from oldest to newest.

December 2016 is the previous archive.

Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.