Getting Picked for “Harbor Attack” at DHS

During our most recent trip to Disney World, we had the opportunity to take part in “Harbor Attack”, the pre-show for the Backlot Tour at Disney Hollywood Studios. The show gives volunteers the chance to be “in the movies” and take part in a series of special effects that are part of the film “Harbor Attack.”

After tweeting some pictures about the event, I was surprised how many people asked “How’d you get picked for this?” The answer: Just ask.

Brad, Grace and Scott

While waiting in line, I went up to the cast member and asked if we could be the volunteers for the next show. While he already had volunteers for the upcoming show, we were pulled aside and waited until the next available show. So, we basically had to wait an extra 10 minutes in line. Worth it!

The real reason I asked is because my 9-year-old brother loves special effects and movies. I really wanted him to be a part of the show, but unfortunately, you have to be 16-years-old to participate. However, the cast member didn’t tell us this until it was time to give him the names of the volunteers – thus, I wound up being the third volunteer.

The group: myself, my sister and her new husband (just married last week). Once the show prior to ours started, we were taken through a side door to change into our rain gear. You are provided pants, a jacket and boots to wear during the show. The cast members also use this time to choose who will be the engineer, the captain and the deckhand. I was selected for engineer, which I later found out was the “wet job.”

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Lenient Disney Likely with $10 No-show Restaurant Charge

Getting a table at Le Cellier and many other popular Disney restaurants should be much easier thanks to Alexander Hamilton.

Starting today, Disney will charge $10 per person if a reservation at select restaurants goes unused and is not canceled at least 24 hours prior.

The announcement, which is long overdue, will keep people from booking overlapping reservations at Disney restaurants and help cut back on empty tables inside restaurants at Walt Disney World.

Disney addressed the problem earlier this year by making changes to its online system to prevent overlapping reservations. However, with phone and web reservations and other tricks, people quickly learned how to “work the system.”

For example, John Doe books 5 reservations at 5 different restaurants at Epcot for 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday night. While he is enjoying his pizza at Via Napoli, his table at Le Cellier and three other restaurants sit empty while park guests are turned away when they try to get a walk up table. While the table sits empty, John enjoys his bangin’ margherita pizza just a few countries away.

The question many people have asked is: How lenient will Disney be with these $10 fees? Will they have exceptions for sickness, delayed arrivals due to ride-closures or for things that just come up? I firmly believe this new rule is less about Disney making money on the $10 fees and more about Disney addressing the large number of empty tables and revenue lost due to unused reservations. Despite the possibility of collecting cancellation fees, Disney will lose money in the long run by angering customers with the new fee. I see it more of a scare tactic to discourage those who abuse the reservation system.

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Free WiFi at Select Disney Resorts

A hectic weekend caused me to miss some huge news out of Walt Disney World: Free WiFi is now available at select Disney resorts.

WDWMAGIC.com first reported the news on Friday. According to the report, free wireless internet will be available at the following resorts:

Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge
Disney’s Beach Club Resort
Disney’s BoardWalk Resort
Disney’s Contemporary Resort
Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort
Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa
Disney’s Old Key West Resort
Disney’s Polynesian Resort
Disney’s Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa
Disney’s Wilderness Lodge Resort
Disney’s Yacht Club Resort

But why?

I was extremely excited when I read this news on Monday. While I rarely stay at these resorts, I see the move as an obvious attempt to give guests an extra incentive to stay at select resorts. I see the strategy similar to the Southwest Airlines “Bags Fly Free” campaign – you now have to consider the cost of your bags when booking a flight. Similarly, if you plan on purchasing the WiFi upgrade while staying at Port Orleans French Quarter, why would you not choose to stay at the Coronado Springs Resort where wireless internet is free? I believe some guests might also consider booking a Deluxe resort if WiFi is necessary for their trip. People that see WiFi as a priority and book their trip accordingly could help Disney balance occupancy rates at its resorts. With that said, I don’t expect to see Disney expand its “free” WiFi options to other resorts anytime soon. Disney has no reason to offer WiFi at Value resorts and select Moderate resorts because they have no problems with occupancy at these resorts. This strategy is also similar to Disney’s current promotional offers for room-only rates. Disney gives a smaller discount at resorts that have higher occupancy rates.

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‘Splash Mob’ at WDW: Who’s In?

If you haven’t seen the “Splash Mountain Rap”, you need to za-za-za-zip through the rest of this post and watch the video. If you have already witnessed Scott Valentine (Nick from Family Ties) and the Splash Mountain Dancers rock your slouch socks with this epic piece of 80s cheesiness, then I have a challenge for you:

I will be attending Reunion 2011 in December and I see the weekend as the perfect time to recreate this amazing rap/dance cheesefest. And don’t tell me “I can’t sing or dance.” My response: Did you even watch the video? Who was actually “singing” and “dancing?”

So, if you’ll be in Walt Disney World that weekend and you’re interested in having some fun, send me a message on Twitter or e-mail me. And if you know where I can get this awesome Mickey jacket – please let me know. Seriously… I MUST have it.