Theme Park Insider

There's a Mouse in My Other Pocket, Too! How Character Dining, Dinner Shows, and Magic Bands Make Disney Even More Expensive

October 6, 2015, 5:17 PM · In part one of this two-part series, I examined the pricing structure of special seasonal events and other hard-ticket experiences and parties — the add-on dessert parties popping up everywhere (like daisies!) and other assorted upsells at the Walt Disney World Resort.

Here in part two, I will follow-up with a personal story about the rising cost of character dining, varying-price dinner shows, and the magnitudinous (yes it's a real word, look it up and use it — you'll always sound precocious) economic effect of the Magic Bands on the most important financial institution in America — your wallet... or purse. ("Uh, no, that's not a man-purse, it's a satchel. Indiana Jones has one.")

Why in the World (see what I did there?) is Disney upcharging the daylights out of everything? It's a fairly complicated answer that I will attempt to explain utilizing simple yet dynamic economic terminology, despite not having an MBA in business.... It's because, and try to follow me here, they want more money.

And probably more money than I or you personally might have, which is why they are repositioning themselves in their marketing strategy as a vacation destination for the rich.

Now I assume most of you are like me and not super-rich like the Thurston Howell the Third from Gilligan's Island (he was the millionaire) or you would be spending your time reading Money magazine, watching your stocks split, or picking out a new yacht, instead of say reading a Theme Park Insider article authored by its version of Gilligan. [Editor's note: But if you do read Money magazine, look whom they quote. Ha!]

Minnie, Mickey and Goofy

IT'S JUST GOOFY HOW MUCH PEOPLE WILL PAY FOR THIS!

Remember when there were, like, two character meals in all of Disney? Yeah, me neither. It seems like there are now more character dining opportunities than actual Disney characters. Which is probably why the last character meal I attended featured the two crocodiles from The Rescuers (Bonus points if you remember who they are — Brutus and Nero) and the villain from Mulan whose name no one can quite recall.

Actually, I take that back. The last character meal I attended was the Star Wars Jedi Mickey Character Dining Meal in Disney's Hollywood Studios. This is because now I am so broke that this particular Jedi will not be able to attend another character dining experience until I am roughly the same age as Ben Kenobi when he was hiding out on Tatooine in Episode IV.

Now, don't get me wrong. You can call me a lot of things, but cheap isn't one of them. My family of four has attended more than its share of character meals, so I'm used to dropping some cash at these things. One of our favorites is the Garden Grill at The Land in EPCOT and even with the Tables in Wonderland Discount (20%), we spend around $130.

Okay, fine... So I sign us up for this Jedi Mickey Dinner at Hollywood and Vine and yes, my bad, I did not look into the pricing beforehand, figuring it would be about the same. I mean, we're getting pretty much the same thing, right? Characters and dinner.

To quote everyone's favorite Star Wars character, Jar Jar Binks: "Yousa in for a surprise, okeeday!"


Here's my mini-review. Our party gets called into Hollywood and Vine and we snap a quick photo with Jedi Mickey, which is not included in the price (seriously?) We are taken to our table, which of course shares an exit aisle with the table next to us, which of course features three annoying kids who don't feel the need to sit down or otherwise behave and two parents who couldn't care less about their behavior since they are engrossed in their own separate smartphones, which I suppose is kind of the Circle of Life of crappy parents and misbehaving kids.

But I digress.... We soon received visits from Goofy Darth Vader, Donald Stormtrooper, Chip and Dale Ewoks, and Minnie Leia. Awesome. But then again, not the best interactions we've ever experienced.

Then there was the food. May I remind you, this is a typical Disney buffet, with a food renamed with Star Wars puns, plus some specialized (wait for it) Star Wars Desserts. At Hollywood and Vine. Meatballs and roast beef stations and salad and pasta and kid choices. It wasn't like Don Shula was there, hand-carving steaks for us.

The only other thing included besides the food and the character interaction (such as it was) was a paper “lightsaber” you could roll up and fasten with provided rubber bands.

Then the bill arrives. My wife reaches for it to take a peek. You know that scene in Raiders of the Lost Ark, when they finally find the Well of Souls and Sallah drops the torch in amidst the roiling, coiling mass of snakes and looks at Indy? “Asps. Very dangerous. You go first.” Yeah, that was the same look I got. Call me Dr. Jones, doll.

So I open the bill and it's just south (literally by a couple dollars) of $200 dollars. Yes. Two hundred dollars. American. I figure this must be a simple mix-up and the waiter accidentally gave us the bill for his eight-top table.

Nope.

$57.99 per adult, and $34.99 per child. $198 with tax. Not including tip.

For meatballs and roast beef stations and salad and pasta and kid choices.

At Hollywood and Vine.

My daughter is literally the same width as a yardstick and could not consume $34.99 at a buffet unless she spent the better part of two weeks there, eating three meals a day. If your child can consume $34.99 worth of food, then congratulations on having a future NFL offensive lineman who can financially support you for the rest of your life with his pro salary, which will be a necessity since your 401k may not recover from the hit it took at Jedi Mickey's Dinner.

May the Force be with your wallet.

HOOP-DEE-DOO, WE SURE RIPPED OFF YOU!

Walt Disney World currently hosts two major dinner show experiences: the Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue at Fort Wilderness Resort and the Spirit of Aloha Dinner Show at the Polynesian Village Resort.

Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue

I'm sure it will come as a surprise to no one that both of these are pretty expensive. In years past, however, there was only one price for the experience. But in the brave new world of Disney upcharging for considerations like what day you go or where you want to sit, both of these experiences now feature three-tier pricing categories, based on your chosen seating location.

The closer you choose to sit to the stage the more you pay, however you still get the exact same meal. At the Hoop Dee Doo, the three categories are priced as follows (tax and gratuity included):

Category 1
Adult (10 and older) $67.99
Child (3-9) $39.99

Category 2
Adult (10 and older) $67.99
Child (3-9) $38.99

Category 3
Adult (10 and older) $61.99
Child (3-9) $36.99

If you can figure out any rhyme or reason to this pricing structure, you are better than me. As you can see, the difference in price from Category 1 to 2 amounts to a whole dollar and that's just off the children's price. And oddly enough, Category 3 sees the adult price plunge $6, yet the children's price only drops another $2 from Category 2, and $3 from Category 1.

Using Category 2 as a median example, a family of four will pay $213.95 to hoop, dee, and doo (not necessarily in that order.)

And what are you getting to eat for this outlay of cash? All-you-care-to-enjoy (I love this phrase, the Disney-fied version of all-you-can-eat) fried chicken, BBQ ribs, salad, baked beans, cornbread, and strawberry shortcake. Plus unlimited soft drinks, draft beer, wine, and sangria. That's an expensive picnic.

Disney's Spirit of Aloha Dinner Show

Moving on to the Spirit of Aloha show, again your pricing will be dependent on the proximity to the stage. The three categories are priced as follows (tax and gratuity included):

Category 1
Adult (10 and older) $72.99
Child (3-9) $39.99

Category 2
Adult (10 and older) $67.99
Child (3-9) $36.99

Category 3
Adult (10 and older) $60.99
Child (3-9) $33.99

More Disney Algebra: The only pattern I can detect is that the kid price drops a consistent $3 per category, yet the adult price drops $5, and then $7, respectively. I'm not sure who Disney has put in charge of all these pricing structures, but they could be easily fired and replaced by Chip and Dale, who at least know how to properly count their nuts.

Now if your family of four elects to attend this show in Category 1 Seating, you will say Aloha to $225.96 of your money.

And for that price, you get to dine on pulled pork, BBQ ribs, roasted chicken, salad, slaw, pineapple-coconut bread, and pineapple bread pudding. Again, soft drinks, beer, and wine are included.

Now it doesn't exactly take the Great Mouse Detective to notice that the pricing structure of these two dinner shows are very similar to that of all those upsell dessert parties I covered on Part I. In my opinion though, if you're going to go ahead and splurge a little at Disney, then your money is better spent at the Hoop-Dee-Doo or the Spirit of Aloha, because at least you're getting a full meal (and dessert) plus a show instead of just a dessert party and "reserved seating."

As a parent, the main thing that irritates me about all these dining experiences is the pricing for children. I touched on this a bit in the character meal section, but when you fully break it down, it's ridiculous.

For starters, Disney considers kids to be 9 or under, anything 10 or above is an adult. Really? I could understand ages 13 or 14 years old, as teens (especially boys) start eating you out of house and home, but 10? A typical 10-year-old is not going to consume an equal amount of food as a grown adult, and should not be charged the same $60-70 rate.

Kids' meals typically cost $7-10 at most restaurants (including many Disney ones.) Which is why even the $30-40 they're actually charging for the under-10 set seems excessive. And kids tend to eat even less than they normally do while on vacation, particularly with all the excitement and snacking and different foods than they are used to... all the hallmarks of a theme park trip.

MANDATORY JEWELRY

Ding-dong! A box arrives at my house from UPS.

My 7 year old son: What is that? Is that for me?

Me: No it's the box with our new Magic Bands. (Opening box) See?

Son (dubious): What's a Magic Band? It looks like a bracelet. I'm not wearing that.

Me: It's not a bracelet. It's a band. Here. Yours is blue.

Son: I don't want to wear that bracelet.

Me: Band.

Son: Bracelet.

Me: Whatever. You have to wear it.

Son: Why?

Me: Because Disney said so.

Son (considers that): Let's go to Universal.

Welcome to the new Disney Experience! Mandatory jewelry. Where else in life does that happen where you have to wear bracelets when you don't necessarily want to?

Oh yes, getting arrested. Disney Jail, the happiest prison on Earth.

I'll even start off by defending these bands a bit. What are the positives? Well, Magic Bands are easier to carry around than hotel room keys and park tickets; they are waterproof so you can wear it down to the pool without having to leave a room key on a pool chair, and they act as a payment system so you don't have to leave money or a credit card on that same chair if you want to get some ice cream after your swim.

And they act as your personal FastPass+ ticket too.

How about the negatives? Can you say Big Brother? Some consider Magic Bands to be a bit of an invasion of privacy, as they can track your every move and purchase as you travel throughout the parks, your on-site Disney hotel, and Disney Springs.

And if these things are so advanced then how come if you're a passholder you still need to lug around at least one old-style hard ticket pass to show cast members in order to get your discount at restaurants and shops? Funny how convenient these Bands are in facilitating you in spending your money, yet when it comes time to save a few bucks, they aren't capable of helping you out? Let me get this straight. This little technological marvel has the power to literally open doors, buy anything in Walt Disney World, defy water and liquid, get me onto a ride with little or no wait, but it can't save me 10% of my money?

That stuff is bad, but what's the worst thing about them?

Allow me to give you an analogy…

You know when you go on a cruise ship and you get your cruise card or pass or whatever they want to call it? Regardless of the name, what it amounts to is a "cashless" system, meaning your pass or card is used as a charge card instead of using cash or your own credit cards. It's used to make all onboard purchases, and it's connected to one of your own personal credit cards that you provided when you signed up.

Then a running tab of your purchases is kept under a folio, and the night before you disembark the ship, you get an itemized statement left in your stateroom. If there are no discrepancies, your credit card on file is charged the total amount to fund all your onboard purchases.

What is the beauty of that little idea for the customer? Well, it alleviates any stress you have on board the ship, so you can gamble, drink alcohol, buy souvenirs, and pay for your photos with a simple swipe of your card.

Sound familiar?

Yes, Disney has copied this idea wholesale with its Magic Band program. And everything else the band does, from opening hotel doors to storing Fastpass+ info, is purely and simply fluff. The meat of the magic, as it were, is it functions as a "cashless" system, operating just the same on dry land as it does upon the seven seas.

Now most businesses do not become financially successful enterprises based on selflessly and unilaterally taking care of the customer, so you better believe there's a benefit to the company.

What is the benefit? Well, you know when you're about to buy something, you take a moment to think, "Can I afford this?" And that second pause when you pull out your wallet or purse or money clip to decide how best to pay, whether using cash or which of your credit cards works best? Those two pauses give you a moment to change your mind before you buy.

A "cashless" system is built for one purpose and one purpose only, to remove those stumbling blocks that keep you the consumer from spending your money at the business, whether it's a cruise ship or a theme park empire.

Nothing to think about, just touch your Magic Band to the Mickey-head logo. It turns a lovely glowing green color (and we all know green always means good, right?) and that's it. You just keep touching that Band and after awhile it doesn't seem like you're spending real money.

And you know what else is no different in a theme park than in the cruising model? That moment of sticker shock when you get that staggering final bill and think, "Wow, I really drank that much?" or "Hey, did I break some furniture or something?"

That's what happens when you're no longer handing over your hard-earned cash and getting change back that dwindles in your wallet with each purchase. It removes that moment when you tally up what's left and think, "Okay we're going to need to eat counter service tonight."

You're no longer managing your money, your Band is. And whose side do you think it's on? Hint: It's got a Mickey head on it; not your face.

In Mickey we trust... But I'd rather pay cash.

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Replies (20)

October 6, 2015 at 8:39 PM · Speaking as a person who actually earned an MBA, this "case study" lacks a conclusion. I'll provide one for you. Disney's profitability is 20% in its theme parks division. This means that despite Disney's ability to milk its profits, the business has a lot of costs and expenses. This is a labor intensive industry with high material and infrastructure costs. Disney is famous for knowing exactly how to massage public demand. Despite this, technology companies like Apple and Google are even more profitable. That's why Disney is trying MagicBands to increase revenue streams. Special events are additional sources of revenue. With more revenue, the marginal increase in revenue improves upon the 20% in profits. That captive audience is in want of entertainment. The crying about sticker shock is contrary to the concept of providing a product when there is a clear demand. Let's be clear, Disney is bursting at the seams. Sadly, Disney will have to spend more money to make more money.
October 6, 2015 at 11:44 PM · The MagicBand as a ticket, room key and charge to your room system isn't new. Key to the World cards did this on my first trip 14 years ago. In fact the only think
G a MagicBand can do that a KTTW card couldn't do is photopass photos (including automagically adding on ride photos to your account. There is absolutely nothing new about a hotel allowing you to charge to your room account.
October 7, 2015 at 1:02 AM · Three years ago, I took my family to Disneyland. While in the park, I reached into my pocket and pulled out: 5 park tickets (for the family), a room key card, a photopass card, 5 fastpasses, a voucher for a freebie, a wad of Disney dollars, additional cash, a credit card and a photo ID.

Last year, I took my family to Disney World. I carried nothing. I just wore my Magic Band.

Magic Bands are a brilliant concept.

October 7, 2015 at 1:47 AM · Thanks for a great article and a fun read.
You list several of the reasons this family of five former every year Annual Pass holders haven't been to WDW in 5 years.
It's just so much more relaxing, fun, and a better deal for us to go to Universal and IOA.
We can stay in a deluxe room for the price of a WDW moderate, ride a boat to the front of the parks instead of standing on a bus, skip 95% of all the lines, and experience new attractions, of which many are E Tickets, each year.
We can get an upgrade to a 900 sq ft suite with two full bathrooms at Universals 4 Star Portofino Bay for the same price as a single, very average room at the WDW moderate Coronado Springs.
October 7, 2015 at 4:08 AM · Excellent article. I too am appalled at the rampant price increases at Disney. For me it is all about the worth of the product and Disney is charging more for less now. I get a much better bang for my buck at Universal at this point and simply do not feel ripped off when I go into their properties. Sure it is expensive but I do not get nickle and dimed as much and at this point their immersive environments beat out Disney. Until Star Wars land opens up, the Mouse is on probation
October 7, 2015 at 5:20 AM · Well, I will chime in to say I really loved the write-up. I think you have a great sense of humor and wonderful writing style, but also point out a lot of things that get the ol' noggin workin. Not everyone will agree with you, but we all have an opinion and our own personal experiences. You shared yours, and I think it was great.

Hey, companies are in business to make money. It's not Disney Charity World, right? I expect them to upcharge, host special events all throughout the year, and do everything they can to make a buck. As consumers (or Guests, as it were), we can choose to vote with our wallets, and Disney will respond based on what the public is telling them.

Disney was the biggest source of my entertainment, and where most of my disposable income went. I couldn't have been happier.

I love giving my money to Disney - when I have it to give. But I try really hard to go in with my eyes open, and I don't use the Magic Band for purchases.

Great article though. I always look for your stuff because your writing style is so entertaining. Keep it up!

October 7, 2015 at 5:58 AM · Matt,

I agree that the extras offered with a Universal/Loews hotel pacakge give more bang for your buck. But for a standard theme park ticket there isn't as much in it.
For approx $100 for one day you get all the rides and shows at each park, plus fireworks or a night-time show. But at Universal you pay extra if you want to skip the line. If you want reserved seating (and dessert) for the evening fireworks or show you pay a premium at Disney or Universal. Yes, Disney has slightly more upcharge events but both parks offer them.

October 7, 2015 at 8:54 AM · Fun article. Lots of facts with entertaining flair. Keep these articles coming Paul!

My personal take away was the realization a dining experience is going to end up around $250. The buyer's remorse I'd feel when I look back on an experience could only be countered if my kids loved it. I couldn't imagine their response if I asked them what else they would choose if they could spend that money. interesting....

October 7, 2015 at 10:26 AM · I certainly agree with the sentiment of the article, but we're pretty much powerless to stop it. As long as people keep ponying up money for these absurdly priced character meals and add-ons, Disney will keep offering them until a critical mass is reached. I would say that the cruise analogy is pretty accurate, but let's not forget that Disney operates a cruise line now (where some of these ideas are coming from), and appears to be striving towards a total "resort" atmosphere at their parks.

I think from a practical perspective, people need to stay within their means and understand and resist the lure that many of these add-ons represent.

My biggest gripe with some of these special events, character meals, and add ons, is that some are so new that you're essentially going in blind. There are plenty of reviews and trip reports out there about Hoop-Dee-Doo, Spirit of Aloha, and other mainstays, but hardly anything about a new dessert party or a special dinner or tasting event at the EPCOT Food and Wine Festival. Many people are willing to pay a little extra for something billed as an "exclusive" or "limited time" event, but it's impossible to tell sometimes whether the per person charge is worth it for what's advertised in a 2-sentence description.

October 7, 2015 at 10:50 AM · I could care less how much they charge for any of this. My family goes for the rides. We do not care for character breakfasts, firework shows, dessert cruises, or any of it. The more they have, the fewer people are in line for the attractions we like, and the lines are what are keeping us away, not the cost. We do, however, pay for the private events like the Christmas Party or Halloween, where they kick everybody out and you have the run of the place. I have commented many times on this, Disney will continue to raise prices as long as the parks are crowded. Unfortunately, that is the way of things. Meanwhile, as long as the lines are the way they are, we will be at Universal using the express pass.
October 7, 2015 at 11:37 AM · As someone who worked in a character dining location I can tell you that while Disney likes the extra money for the meal, the servers hate character dining. Sure they get their 18% of more money, but the families with kids will stay at the table for an hour waiting on the characters to come back around for the second or third time. By the way, I'm now just an annual passholder and while they sent me a magic band I can't find any way that it is helpful to me. I still have to pull out my pass at the parking entrance and even have to show it inside the park in some instances where limited events don't have a scanner. I just leave it at home....
October 7, 2015 at 1:51 PM · I agree with most of the article. I reserved Hoop Dee Doo for our visit in November. The way I looked at it was a dinner and show which is comparable to other dinner and shows I would pay for in my area.
October 7, 2015 at 2:21 PM · Too funny !! Love your writing style and use of humor. Especially the line from Raiders of the Lost Ark. I'm old enough to remember the reaction in the theater to that one.

Like others may have said, I am "over" the Disney magic. Took my 5 year old grandson to WDW last Summer when we were fortunate enough to get a significant military discount on 4-day tickets. Was a good overall experience, but I would only do it again with young children. Did Universal Orlando more recently with my adult children and other family members. Found it to be much less stressful and more bang for the buck.

October 7, 2015 at 8:17 PM · I gotta ask...
If you think it's too expensive, if you think the price exceeds the experience, if you think the Disney folks are just money-grubbing blah blah blah...
They why go? Why continue to write about it? And why does attendance keep going up across the board at all Disney Parks?
Our family's been a few times over the past 2 decades. Expensive? Yes. So we save up and plan ahead. We have yet to find a place to vacation that lowers its rates.
It's getting old, this whining. With each price increase here they come: people who choose to visit a theme park blog just to whine about how much theme parks cost. Who whine about how they'll never visit again. And attendance increases.
Go figure.
October 8, 2015 at 7:38 AM · I think Roy A has it right, you have to consider that part of the cost is for the show itself or having the characters come to your table. You are not just paying for food. If it is too expensive, just go to all the other things you can do with the price of admission and go wait in line to go see the characters. Disney is a business and as long as people keep paying for the extra events they will keep offering them.
October 8, 2015 at 9:22 AM · "If it is too expensive, just go to all the other things you can do with the price of admission and go wait in line to go see the characters."

But that's the thing...It's hard to tell sometimes if it is "too expensive". $70 for a true all you can eat meal with quality food and a show is a decent value, but if the food isn't really "all you can eat" or the food selection/quality is subpar, the value decreases. For long standing events, there's plenty of recon and reports out there to figure out if events are a good value. But all of the new dessert parties and special event character meals have limited reviews, so a guest cannot tell whether the juice is worth the squeeze. Many Disney loyalists will blindly book this stuff anyway, so even if you want to wait to see what reviews are like for a new event, you can't because they sell out so quickly. Some of these events can be a really good value, while others can make you feel like you just flushed your money down the toilet like a fool (the dessert parties are the most likely culprits here).

What the problem is that people are trying desperately to customize their WDW vacations to make it special for their family because a trip to WDW is so expensive, and might only happen once or twice while the kids are still kids. So guests search for these add-ons that they think will add that extra touch of magic to their trip or for those that can go more often, give their family that special event to distinguish this trip from previous or later trip. Disney is trying to meet demand for these add-ons that personalize trips, but so many are missing the mark in terms of value and others are just downright pricey.

October 8, 2015 at 10:23 AM · Another point is that you are getting a dinner and a show. I live in Orlando and most dinner shows are a tad cheaper, but it isn't crazy. A broadway show (here in Orlando or Tampa) equally cost me 60-120 for the seats I normally get.
October 8, 2015 at 10:47 AM · Thanks Russell, good point, I can't argue with you there, some of them are rip offs and you do have to do your research. I was just trying to say you have to figure everything into the cost, including the entertainment that is provided not just the food. So if you are going to see "Hoop-Dee-Doo" he asks "And what are you getting to eat for this outlay of cash?" Well, you are also getting the show for the out lay of cash. Now is them meal and the show worth it? Maybe, Maybe not. Now the the dessert parties, no way.
October 9, 2015 at 6:41 AM · Totally understand Jason, and I think most people do consider the value of the show when determining overall value, which is why Disney can charge higher prices for seats closer to the stage (the show to many is more than just background action during the meal). The interaction during character meals is pretty standard, so that's another value that's pretty easy to determine, meaning that the most difficult part is to figure out how good the meal is, which can be hard sometimes especially just looking at reviews (also some places just aren't good at certain times of the day or certain times of the year). When looking at a character buffet, I think some people are generally satisfied with a Golden Coral-style buffet with food that doesn't sit more than 30 minutes under the lamps and enough variety to prevent you from getting the same plate for your typical 2 trips through the line. However, others hold these buffets to a much higher standard and feel that at $60+ that it should be that much better than a Golden Coral, Ryan's, or Sizzler, and think these meals should be akin to a Vegas-style buffet, which they are not. Thus guests are confronted with what can be pretty highly variable reviews where it's difficult for someone who's visiting for their first time to get a read on what they're getting for what seems like a pretty expensive meal.

In general, I've been pretty satisfied with the character buffets I've done in the past (granted always on the Disney Dining Plan that came with my room reservation and not paying out of pocket prices), but I wasn't terribly impressed with 1900 Park Fair, and am pretty lukewarm to Crystal Palace (helped by it's location more than anything else).

The tricky ones to figure out are the special events, and while I've never been "I want my money back!" angry at what I've received, I have left some feeling "$50 for that???" The point being, it's getting harder and harder to tell if you're going to get value out of certain events, and I'm starting to feel that in general you can't expect to receive commensurate value for most of the special event meals and parties. Can you get $200 worth of value out of the Party of the Senses?? Sure, and I think I have generally gotten decent value out of that event in the past, but many others probably don't, either because they cannot eat/drink enough or simply don't appreciate the variety, rarity, and volume of food and drink offered at that event.

The way I look at it is they can't all be winners and some of the fun of being on vacation is trying something you wouldn't normally do, regardless of cost. You have to approach some of these events and meals with a "what the heck" attitude and throw your financial analysis out the door, and I think Disney is betting on and expecting most guests to do that. However, here at Theme Park Insider, I think those of us that have the chance to do these events/meals and can offer sound advice and suggestions can help guide future guests (and perhaps those from the parks that actually read some of this stuff). Disney (and Universal to a lesser degree) should understand that we're all not just sheep kowtowing to everything with a Mickey head attached to it.

October 9, 2015 at 5:48 PM · Your style is talking to friends after a couple of beers at a bar! I'm definitely ok with Disney charging whatever the market will bear. I have always chosen carefully to keep within our budget which has generally meant one or two character dining event per trip. Some have been great (Yachtsman) and some not so great (Chef Mickey). We've been going to WDW for almost 30 years so we've been to many places. Every place has a "best ever" review and a "not wortih it" review by some people. At a bar I would commiserate with you on your Jedi dining experience but I'm sober, so it sounds like you made a mistake and have hopefully learned a lesson about checking prices.

We've also done many extra cost events. We loved the Epcot Segway tour (but alas it's gone), and Living Seas water things (eg snorkeling), but the dessert events always seemed like a let down - too high of price for what we got - but again, many may feel differently.

For me, the magicband is great!! I like carrying very little - shorts, tshirt, flip flops, hat, iPhone with no case, watch, and magicband are all I need, which is great! I'm looking forward to having the magicband functionality on my watch so I can jettison one more thing.

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