Getting To Florida Cruise Ports

Florida Cruises – Getting There…

Florida has become one of the largest destinations in the U.S. for people taking cruises. While passengers come from all over the U.S. and even the world a large number come from the Southeast and especially Florida. The close proximity to the Florida ports offers a number of advantages to cruisers from the region but it also presents some interesting challenges. The following is as complete a rundown on how to get to your cruise ship regardless if you come by planes, trains or automobiles. Okay, maybe not trains.

Miami from the Port

Florida has four major cruise ports; The Port of Miami, Port Everglades in Ft. Lauderdale, Port Canaveral at Merritt Island (sometimes called the Orlando port) and Tampa. Each one has its own environment that makes getting to your cruise ship different for each port.

 

Flying In

Tampa

The port is some distance from the airport but there is generally a fixed taxi fare for the trip of about $25 (plus luggage fees and tip). There are also a number of shuttles as well but expect to pay between $15 and $20 per person for these. A cruise ship transfer at last check was over $15 per person.

Disney Cruise Shuttle

Orlando

The nearest major airport to Port Canaveral. Expect to pay over $100 for a taxi to the port which is a 47 mile trip. There are a number of shuttles that charge as little as $15 per person. Booking a transfer thru your cruise line can cost above $35 per person. At last check Disney offers a bus service from Orlando airport and hotels at Disney World to their cruises at $35 per guest.

Ft. Lauderdale

Port Everglades is only about 2 miles from the airport and while the airport taxi stand will usually quote a flat fare of $20 to the cruise ship if you go with the meter on, it should cost less and if you are going from the ship to the airport it should cost about $15 with tip (no delay exiting the port because of security). The cruise ships also offer transfers but they average $16 per person, which for two people makes a taxi the better choice.

Miami

If you are going from the Miami airport to the cruise terminal, current taxi charges are a $27 flat-rate fee. That’s not per person. So if you are traveling with a family of four, that’s just $7 per person (or $14 round-trip) — not a bad deal. Buying a transfer from your cruise line will cast around $17 per person though or $68 for four.

Rental Cars (In City)

Often people will fly into the port city a day or two early and if that is the case it is a good idea to rent a car. Depending on the city rentals can be very inexpensive and give more flexibility on how you get around. Be sure you check with the agency and make sure you can drop the car off near the port.

Miami

It is common in Miami for rental car agencies to allow a rental to be picked up at the airport and dropped off somewhere else in Miami. At between $25 and $40 a day this is a very economical way to get to the cruise port with the advantage of seeing some of Miami in the process. In the case of Avis and Budget*1 they both have drop-offs near the port with free shuttle service to your ship, which saves the cost of a short taxi ride.

Tampa

While it is possible to also pick up a rental car at the airport in Tampa and drop it in the city, there are no drop offs really near the port. When we come in to Tampa on a cruise it usually costs between $10 and $20 to get a taxi to the nearest rental car location.

Port Everglades

Ft. Lauderdale

Because the port and airport are so near each other, unless you plan on spending some time in the area before your cruise, there is little reason to rent a car. It is also worth noting that Avis and Alamo have free shuttles from their airport locations to Port Everglades and back (you must have a copy of the rental car reservation to board the shuttle though).

Orlando

It has become popular to rent a car for the one-way trips between Orlando or airport and Port Canaveral and the rental agencies have been very accommodating in recent years. A recent check showed three agencies (Avis, Budget and Alamo) offering cars between $50 and $75 per day for the one-way trip including free shuttles to the ships in Port Canaveral.

One Way Car Rentals

Even if you live within convenient driving distance to a port, sometimes port parking can become an expensive proposition. This is especially true if the cruise is longer than seven days. Except for the Orlando – Port Canaveral connection, one-way drop-off fees can make renting a car very expensive. The one notable exception to that is if you live near Orlando. Because Orlando is the number one destination in Florida the rental car companies are always trying to balance their inventories and are usually not charging drop-off fees between Orlando and major Florida cities. Renting a one-way car is our normal method of getting to and from Miami, Ft. Lauderdale, Tampa and Orlando. We have rented cars for as little as $29 from Orlando to Ft. Lauderdale. One trick is to make reservations way in advance and check the rate a few more times before the cruise.

Port Canaveral

Buses Etcetera

Back in the day buses were good, inexpensive transportation between cities and there still is a number of options for economical fares. MegaBus offers a one-way ticket from Orlando to Ft. Lauderdale for $26. The problem with them as with most bus service is that you have to get to their terminal and to your destination at the other end. This can be a major additional expense impacting the economy of bus transportation. We should also note that some people live in communities with active travel groups that normally arrange charter buses as part of a cruise package

Parking Near the Ports

Most parking structures inside the various ports are owned and operated by the ports and, on average, are fifty percent higher than private services near the port. Over the years there have been some interesting fights between these venues. Mostly it has been the ports trying to make it difficult for the private lots to compete and survive. Generally private enterprise finds a way.

Port Canaveral

Parking at the port garage inside the port is currently $17 per day and they charge for each portion of a day (that means full fare for the day you arrive and the day you leave). There are at least four dedicated private lots with shuttles near the port that average under $10 a day based on 24 hour days. There are also companies that contract with some local hotels for parking spaces and provide van service to and from the port.

Miami

Parking at the Port of Miami currently is $20 per 24 hour day with a daytime rate of $7. Because the port is located right in the heart of downtown Miami it is difficult to find reasonable rates nearby. There are a number of companies offering reduced rates but it would be recommended that you investigate where these lots are and how much security they provide.

Ft. Lauderdale

Parking inside Port Everglades currently is $15 per day but offers a location right next to the ships. Because the port is located near the airport there is a great deal of parking available in the area. There are official remote lots associated with the airport with shuttle service to the terminals as well as more than a few private lots not far away. Again it would be recommended that you investigate where these lots are and how much security they provide before reserving.

Notes & Links:

*1 Avis at Port of Miami with Shuttle to Cruise Ships. Address: 99 Southeast 2nd Street, (Cruise Ship Passengers Only), Miami, FL,33131. Phone: (1) 305-379-1317. Hours of Operation: Sun 8:00 AM – 2:00 PM; Mon – Fri 8:00 AM – 6:00 PM; Sat 8:00 AM – 4:00 PM

Miami Budget location with a free shuttle to the port. 89 SE 2nd St, Miami, Florida.

A Parking option at Port Canaveral

Shuttle from MCO to Canaveral 

Alamo Port Canaveral 

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Getting Away for Christmas

Lobby in Grand Floridian WDW

Christmas 2017 at Epcot, WDW

There have been a number of times in our life where going back home for the holidays was not in the cards. Sometimes it was because other family members couldn’t fit the gathering into their time schedule or maybe because money was tight. There were other times where we didn’t have enough time off from work. There was a stretch of Thanksgivings where we, as a family, were just too far away. For almost six or seven years in a row we turned Thanksgiving into a special trip for us and our children. That was twenty plus years ago and for three years in a row we had Thanksgiving dinner in a park at Walt Disney World. In those days we had the parks virtually to ourselves. Unfortunately those days are long past. Thanksgiving day and Christmas in a Disney park are now high attendance events.

Gingerbread Village on Celebrity Silhouette

When we were first married we had friends that would always go to The Homestead in Virginia for Christmas and rave about the experience. One year we spent Thanksgiving there. The hotel was beautifully decorated for Christmas, they would feature special dishes like wild boar or pheasant at dinner, offer tea in the afternoon and hot coco in front of the lobby fireplace in the evening.

 

 

Regardless of the reason, if you and your immediate family discover that you’re on your own for Thanksgiving or Christmas consider making it a really special holiday. As mentioned we have spent a number of Christmases at Walt Disney World but have also tried cruising during the holidays.

Lobby, Animal Kingdom Lodge WDW
Christmas at sea

Even though Disney World has become a difficult reservation for Christmas it is still a very special time at “The World”. You would be surprised at the number of families that decorate Christmas trees in their rooms and string lights around the windows. You will also find that cruises for Christmas week are a premium fare but in most cases worth the expense. It is really amazing to go to your cabin at night and wake up to discover that the entire ship has been transformed into a Christmas wonderland. On a recent cruise the central lobby had been decorated by the chefs with an entire village of gingerbread houses.

Christmas parade Magic Kingdom, WDW

 

To paraphrase a CSN&Y song – If you can’t be with all the ones you love, love the ones you’re with.

 

 

 

 

Christmas on Celebrity Silhouette

                    Have a Very Merry Christmas and                                       

                          an Adventurous New Year

 

HELP! Microsoft Ate My Laptop!

I’m looking for advice? Several months ago I wrote that I had bought a 2in1 laptop primarily for travel and how well it was working. My main laptop is a MacBook Pro 13” and it is just too big and heavy to lug around on long trips. What I bought was an HP 2in1 running Windows 10. It was small (10” and ½” thick) and light weight. The keyboard detached to turn it into a pad and I really liked it. The problem was that it only had 32 MB of storage but also indicated that it only had 29.2 GB (where did the 2.8 GB go?). I added a 64 GB SD card to allow for storage of pictures, music and documents, which I intended to just leave in all the time.

Last week I was getting ready for a trip so I got out this laptop to transfer photos and files and that is when everything went south. As soon as I turned it on and connected to WiFi Microsoft took over. It was a full thirty minutes before Microsoft finished and allowed me use of the laptop. Virtually nothing worked. I kept getting warnings that I needed to free up space in storage as it was full.

I went to Settings; Storage and it showed that 27.1 of 29.1 GB was currently used. I Started going thru and deleting Apps that I had loaded (unfortunately most required that they be loaded into the PC’s drive so I couldn’t move them to the SD card) and there were a few big ones (Chrome and Google Drive used almost a GB). After I had finished I restarted and checked Storage again. It now showed that 28.2 of 29.1 GB were used and the System & Reserved storage had actually grown by 2 GB. Apps were using 2.76 MB and they were all Microsoft apps that could not be deleted. There was also something called Temporary Files that as fast as I could delete, filled up again (I think it is being used by updates).

It seems that as I deleted apps to free up space Microsoft took the space to install system updates. As of now there are 11 newly installed and 2.4 GB left to install. Right now they can’t install because there isn’t enough room. One option that was available was to “uninstall updates” but every attempt by me has failed (not enough storage for this operation).

I have a neighbor that is a security systems programmer and when I asked her about this the only comment I got was “Yeah, System 10 sucks.” The laptop only cost me $180 and I will find a replacement (I’m going back to Apple and buying a Mac Air), but who sells a device where the operating system doesn’t leave enough room for operational needs? Maybe HP didn’t understand what Microsoft was going to do with updates or maybe Microsoft didn’t understand that there was hardware being sold that didn’t meet their future system needs but???

Right now I believe that the situation is hopeless but if anyone has a suggestion – I would love to hear it.

 

 

Airline Baggage Policies

If you are flying internationally you will probably get one bag checked for free regardless of what airline you are using (there are a few exceptions). Some allow a second free bag but most will charge for additional bags. If you are flying domestically you will probably have to pay, but how much depends on the airline. The major U.S. carriers include Hawaiian Airlines, Frontier Airlines, Alaska Airlines, American Airlines, Delta Airlines, United Airlines, JetBlue Airlines, Southwest Airlines, US Airways and Spirit Airlines. Only JetBlue and Southwest normally allow a free checked bag. Also Spirit Airlines, Frontier Airlines and Allegiant Air, offer no-frills fares where carry-on bags will also cost you extra.

Recently two major domestic air carriers (American and United) have added a new class of service designated “basic” or “economy basic” which is an attempt to compete with discount/no-frills airlines.. This service no longer allows you to bring carry-on bags on board and also puts you at the end of the boarding process. In addition they are charging the “economy basic” passengers for showing up at the gate with carry-on bags (right now the “fine” is $25 plus the checked bag fee). If you are traveling on Basic Economy, your personal item (must fit under seat) will be the only item you can bring on board.

Like most of us, airfare is a major part of our travel expense and we are always looking for opportunities to save money. Domestic travel for us is a minor event and we will put up with a few hours of inconvenience to save a few dollars. Twelve and seventeen hour flights are be a different story. Unfortunately calculating comparison airfare costs has become a bit more complicated with the ever increasing costs for checking bags.

More and more people are trying to carry as much on board as possible to avoid bag fees and that makes getting your carry-on into a bin a more difficult problem. I’m surprised that there aren’t more arguments than there are and trying to get near the front of the boarding line has also become a serious priority. I find myself paying for checked bags more and more often just to avoid this crush.

When shopping for the best airfare it is increasingly important to know the airlines baggage policy. Most domestic airlines allow you to bring on one personal item such as a purse or briefcase, as well as one larger item such as a carry-on suitcase or backpack. On average the maximum size of a carry-on item is 22 by 14 by 9 inches including handles and wheels. Additionally there is also a rule for personal items. The maximum dimensions for your personal item that fits under the seat in front of you, such as a shoulder bag, purse, laptop bag or other small item, are 9 inches x 10 inches x 17 inches.

Most of the major airline carriers, other than JetBlue and Southwest, charge a fee for checked baggage on domestic flights while some are now charging for carry-on bags. However, on most international flights, only Alaska Airlines, Sun Country Airlines and for some destinations, American Airlines, charge a fee for the first checked bag (American treats many Caribbean destinations, Mexico and Canada by domestic rules).

One option to avoid bag charges is to get a credit card affiliated with an airline. For example using an Amex Delta card will get you free checked bags on Delta flights. The following is a list of cards that offer free bag check with some airlines:

  • United MileagePlus Credit Card.
  • Delta SkyMiles Credit Cards.
  • American Airlines.
  • JetBlue Plus.
  • Platinum Card from American Express.
  • Premier Rewards Gold from American Express.
  • Citi Prestige.
  • Chase Sapphire Reserve.
United Airlines Fees:

Checked Bags

1 – $25 to $30, 2 – $35, 3+ – $150

Overweight Bags 1 – $100 to $200

Oversized Bags 1 – $200

Carry On 1 allowed – Free

United Basic Economy Service- Full-sized carry-on bags are not permitted – You’re not allowed a full-sized carry-on bag unless you’re a MileagePlus Premier member or companion traveling on the same reservation, the primary cardmember of a qualifying MileagePlus credit card or a Star Alliance™ Gold member. Everyone else who brings a full-sized carry-on bag to the gate will be required to check their bag and pay the applicable checked bag fee plus a $25 gate handling charge.

American Airlines Fees

Domestic Bag 1 $25, Bag 2 $35, Bag 3 $150, Bag 4+ $200

Mexico Bag 1 $25, Bag 2 $40, Bag 3 $150, Bag 4+ $200

Caribbean Bag 1 $25, Bag 2 $40 to $55, Bag 3 $150, Bag 4+ $200

Central America Bag 1 $0, Bag 2 $35, Bag 3 $150, Bag 4+ $200

Brazil            Bag 1 $0, Bag 2 $0, Bag 3 $150, Bag 4+ $200

South America Bag 1 $0, Bag 2 $0, Bag 3 $150, Bag 4+ $200

Transatlantic            Bag 1 $0, Bag 2 $100, Bag 3+ $200

Transpacific            Bag 1 $0, Bag 2 $0, Bag 3+ $200

US Airways Fees

(US) allows 1 carry-on bag and 1 personal item (purse, briefcase, laptop bag) per passenger fee free. Carry-on should not exceed the following size and weight restrictions: 45 linear inches (22 x 14 x 9 in) or 115 centimeters (56 x 36 x 23 cm) including handles and wheels.

US domestic (including Canada, Hawaii, Puerto Rico, and U S Virgin Islands):

  • First bag: $25.00 USD
  • Second bag: $35.00 USD
  • U S domestic (including Canada, Hawaii, Puerto Rico, and U S Virgin Islands):
  • Third bag: $150.00 USD
  • Fourth bag +: $200.00 USD per bag

Caribbean, Central America, and Mexico:

  • First bag: $25.00 USD
  • Second bag: $40.00 USD
  • Brazil:
  • First bag: Free
  • Second bag: Free
  • South America:
  • First bag: Free
  • Second bag: Free
  • Transatlantic:
  • First bag: Free
  • Second bag: $100.00 USD
  • Transpacific:
  • First bag: Free
  • Second bag: Free

 

JetBlue Fees

Checked baggage

We offer fare options that include different numbers of checked bags. Should your plans change after booking a particular fare, bags may be checked online or at the airport for additional fees. Checked bags that exceed 62″ (157.48 cm) in overall dimensions (length + width + height) or exceed 50 pounds (22.68 kg) will also incur a fee.

Baggage fees for bags under 50 pounds

Fare option

Blue                         1st bag $25, 2nd bag $35, 3rd bag + $100 each

Blue Plus            1st bag Included, 2nd bag $35, 3rd bag $100 each

Blue Flex            1st bag Included, 2nd bag Included, 3rd bag+ $100 each fees

Size requirements: Bags that do not meet the dimensions and/or weight restrictions are considered oversized and/or overweight and will be charged as follows:

51 lbs (23.13 kg) – 99 lbs (44.91 kg) – $100 per bag.

63″ in (160 cm) – 80 in (203.3 cm)(including wheels and handles)– $100 per bag.

Delta Air Lines Fees

In economy, within Canada and the US, 1st bag $25, 2nd bag $35. To other destinations, prices vary by itinerary.

One of the best charts we’ve found that lists most airlines and their fees for checked baggage is HERE.

There is also a company, Lugless that is offering an option for you to ship your bags ahead and save money. While I have doubts I would love to hear from someone that has used this service?

Also see “Earning Frequent Flyer Miles

 

 

Our Travel Books

Want to keep those travel photos where they will be safe and easy to access years from now? Have concerns about recollecting details of that great vacation? Want to remember names and addresses of favorite restaurants that you can recommend? We have an answer that fits our concerns perfectly.

After each trip we take time to compose a book about the trip. We’ve discovered these are good alternatives to boring our friends and relatives with a slide show. If guests seem interested, it is easy to pass around our trip books. We also look forward to sharing them with our grandchildren and refreshing our memories as time goes by.

There are a number of services that allow you to create a custom designed book from your own photographs and have it professionally printed and mailed back to you. People use these services to create wedding albums, family photo albums, special occasion records and unique gift items. While we have created books for a number of reasons, our favorite is to keep a record of our travels.

The process is simple and easy. You create an online account, upload photographs to the online project site and use the website to pick your format, design each page and add copy. These services also offer numerous styles to pick from and decorative accents you can add to the pages. When you finish, simply order, pay and expect a finished book to come in the mail in a few days.

Probably the largest of these services is Shutterfly but you should also look into Blurb and Snapfish along with services within popular photo software like Apple’s Photo.

 

 

 

Frequent Flyer Programs

It’s been forty years since I earned my first airline “mile”. These industry programs became almost universal over a few years and were pretty simple to understand. Fly a mile and earn a mile and after accumulating a specific number of miles get a free ticket. There were a number of subtle variations like if you didn’t earn any miles over two years your mileage would be forfeit. Some allowed you to use small amounts to upgrade to first class on a paid ticket and many started programs with affiliated airlines.

Some added shopping and restaurant programs to encourage you to accumulate more miles and most started awarding bonus miles for getting and using their branded credit cards. Years ago business travelers like me benefitted the most because we were logging constant miles and while our employers paid for the tickets we got to use the free ticket awards.

Well things always change. Our first realization came about five years ago when a roundtrip flight to Australia only earned 5,000 miles instead of the 20,000 that we flew. It seemed we had bought a discount ticket and the seat code had a Z in it (American Airlines).

Isn’t it surprising how one company makes a change and all the rest follow. Between one and two years ago miles stopped being miles traveled but became a calculation based on the price of the ticket (that partial award based on the seat code also can still apply, please refer to the fine print).

Because most of these frequent flyer programs have evolved into complex constructs bringing together a number of businesses, with lawyers involved, the airlines have to be very specific regarding the rules of their award programs. Now the fine print covering the earning of miles looks more like an insurance policy than a marketing promotion.

To provide information on some of these programs the following descriptions have been copied from the program web sites of each airline:

Delta

For Delta-marketed (flight numbers that include the “DL” airline code) or Delta-ticketed (featuring a ticket number beginning with “006”) flights, SkyMiles Members will earn miles based on ticket price, at the rate of 5 miles per U.S. Dollar (USD) spent, including base fare and carrier-imposed surcharges, but excluding government-imposed taxes and fees.

United

United MileagePlus members will earn MileagePlus award miles based on the fare at 5 miles per dollar value and MileagePlus status for the following flights, with some exclusions as listed at the bottom of this page.

Flights operated by United and United Express, and

Flights operated by a Star AllianceTM or MileagePlus partner airline for tickets issued by United (ticket number starting with “016”)

Tickets containing Basic Economy (N) fares are eligible to receive award miles based on fare at 5 miles per fare dollar and MileagePlus status, but will not receive any Premier qualifying credit.

American

American Award miles are awarded based on ticket price (includes base fare plus carrier-imposed fees, but excludes government-imposed taxes and fees). The more you spend, and the higher your elite status level, the more you earn.

(Includes US Airways flights)

AAdvantage® member – 5 miles/U.S. dollar

Gold member – 7 miles/U.S. dollar (40% bonus)

Platinum member – 8 miles/U.S. dollar (60% bonus)

Platinum Pro member – 9 miles/U.S. dollar (80% bonus)

Executive Platinum member – 11 miles/U.S. dollar (120% bonus)

Southwest

Southwest Earn When You Fly

The amount and type of fare you choose determines how many points you earn. Now you have another reason to go for that Business Select® Fare.

Business Select® Points Earned per dollar            12

Anytime 10 Pts Per Dollar

Wanna Get Away® 6 Pts Per Dollar

JetBlue

JetBlue True Blue Program. No blackout dates on JetBlue operated flights. Use points for any seat, any time1See Terms and Conditions seating footnote. Earn at least 6 points per eligible dollar when you book on jetblue.com2See Terms and Conditions earning footnote. Points don’t expire. Earn and share points together with Family Pooling

 

 

Walt Disney World – MagicBands…

Using FastPass and MagicBands

Make FastPass+ Reservations

Years ago one of the sure things to expect when the family visited Walt Disney World was spending a lot of time waiting in line. Probably the biggest limiting factor in the number of rides you could take in was the length of the wait lines. Disney was one of the first innovators in reducing this time. Initially the FastPass system used your admission ticket once you were in a park to allow you to schedule a ride or two. Even this system greatly increased the number of rides you could fit in but there have been a number of upgrades since.

While the newest FastPass is again an incremental improvement it is becoming really important that anyone planning a vacation or just a visit to Disney World understand how the system works. If you don’t take the time before your trip you could end up riding a lot less rides. Because FastPass allows people to schedule rides weeks in advance it also makes getting onto a ride the day of a visit a bigger challenge

How To Use FastPass+

There are different ways to make Fastpass+ reservations that depend on where you are staying and what type of ticket you have. In order to make FastPass+ reservations you must have park tickets or a purchase confirmation number. Before you begin you need to decide in advance as to what parks you will visit and on what dates. You will also need names and ticket numbers for everyone traveling with you.

If you are staying at a Disney resort: You can make your first FastPass+ ride reservations 60 days in advance of the hotel reservation date. Once you have made your first reservation you can add ten days to the sixty to make FastPass+ selections in other parks. Also before you start making FastPass+ reservations you should investigate Extra Magic Hours for parks during your stay. That information will help you plan which parks to visit on what dates.

Pirates of the Caribbean

Staying at a non-Disney resort you will be able to make your FastPass+ reservations 30 days in advance.

Before you begin you should have an internet connectable device and we would recommend that you use a smart phone for easy use inside the parks. Download the Disney World App. Next set-up a My Disney Experience  account so you can make and record FastPass+ reservations. The only way to make Fastpass+ reservations before your trip is to use your account at the My Disney Experience website. You will also need to provide an email address and be sure to use one that you can access on thru you Disney World App thru your portable device.

Disney MagicBands

 If you are staying at a Disney Resort at Walt Disney World you will be issued a MagicBand for each guest in your party. The band looks like a bracelet or watch and uses a battery to communicated with a number of devices around “the World”. Before you arrive you will probably be asked for your choice in color but without making a choice it will be gray. The bands have your name printed inside and not to miss an opportunity Disney stores and gift shops also sell decorations that can be added to personalize the MagicBands. With a MagicBand you can link it to My Disney Experience and add reservations (both current and future) along with park tickets and FastPass+ reservations. Wearing the MagicBand you can open your room door, charge meals at Disney restaurants and food concessions and go shopping at Disney stores that are charged back to your hotel account. You can use them to enter the parks (provided you have synced tickets to your account), identify your account to Disney photographers, and use FastPass+. You can manage your MagicBands on you’re my Disney Experience on line both now and for the future. The MagicBand is set-up where you provide a pin number for all money transactions and just like a card based passkey you can restrict charging privileges to certain members of your group.

It’s A Small World

Because all purchase transactions on a MagicBand require a pin the process is pretty secure. Even if you lose a band someone would still need you pin to use it for shopping or meals. There is however a possible concern around this remarkable system. Disney has capitalized on a phenomenon that the credit card industry has understood forever. People generally spend more money when using a credit card rather than spending cash. The MagicBand takes advantage of this characteristic in a big way and other than knowing that there has been a spending cap agreed to on your hotel account, it is very difficult to confirm the charged balance on your account. The only way we are aware of is to check at the hotel Concierge desk.

Walt Disney has also made a big promotion for meal plans associated with your room reservation. There are a number of different levels, naturally at different prices. These meals are also recorded on you account and accessed again using your MagicBand.

Epcot

When you eat at a full service restaurant you will get a receipt that shows how much service was used and how much remains. Unfortunately for a full accounting you will again need to check at the hotel Concierge desk.

Our primary criticism with this completely integrated system that includes The WDW App, the My Disney Experience website, MagicBands, park tickets and FastPass is the inability to check the money and meal plan balances. It would seem a reasonable approach to give you access thru the WDW App?

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