Join us for our annual group trip to Disney World this October! We’ll enjoy all four theme parks, behind-the-scenes educational tours and workshops, special group meals and events, water parks, miniature golf courses, and more!
When: October 1-8, 2016
Registration Deadline: Registration is closed.
*The FastPass Registration Deadline is for families who want to reserve their FastPass times 60 days in advance of our arrival date (for those staying at a Disney resort) and 30 days in advance of our arrival date (for those staying off Disney property).
**The Last Chance Registration Deadline is for families who didn’t register in time for our FastPass deadline and just want to go to Disney! You’ll get your tickets by mid-September. (You can still register for FastPasses when you get your tickets – I’m just not guaranteeing you’ll get them 60 days or 30 days in advance.)
Disney World Tickets
Due to the price increase this year, everyone will have a choice of tickets:
4-day park tickets for $298 per person (ages 3 and up), or
5-day park tickets for $355 per person (ages 3 and up)
Please discuss it, think it through, sleep on it, and be sure of your choice before you register. Once you register, that’s it – no changes. (A few people making changes isn’t a big deal – nearly 2,000 making changes is overwhelming.)
Ticket prices include your registration fee, tax, and the following features:
- 4 or 5 days (depending on your choice above) in all four Disney parks (Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Hollywood Studios, and Animal Kingdom).
- Park Hopper – you can hop between all four parks each day.
- 4 or 5 fun passes (depending on which ticket you buy) – you’ll have 4 or 5 passes per ticket to these Disney extras (your choice): Blizzard Beach Water Park, Typhoon Lagoon Water Park, Disney’s Fantasia Gardens Miniature Golf, Disney’s Winter Summerland Miniature Golf (must visit golf courses before 4:00 pm), the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex, and maybe DisneyQuest Indoor Interactive Park (if it’s still there when we go).
- An educational tour or workshop – your choice of the Behind the Seeds tour or the Expedition D82 workshop. (Your attendance at Behind the Seeds or Expedition D82 is a requirement for these tickets.)
- More information about our tickets is available on our Disney World FAQs page.
Educational Tours and Workshops
Attending either Behind the Seeds or Expedition D82 is required to qualify for our discounted educational tickets. If you want to do both, there will be an additional $16 fee per student.
Since these events are located in the Disney parks, you must use a park day on your tickets to attend the tour or workshop. If you don’t attend, you may be charged the difference between regular gate prices and our discounted tickets.
Behind the Seeds
Like the Living with the Land attraction at Epcot? Then you’ll love Behind the Seeds! You’ll interact with amazing plants, insects, and fish—and even see alligators—on this fun, educational tour. You’ll visit the fish farm and see American alligators, see gigantic fruits, vegetables, and unusual crops from around the world, discover the latest plant-growing techniques, including hydroponics, and get a handout with some great ideas for your own garden.
This tour is included in your ticket (unless you’d rather do the Expedition D82 workshop). Choose which tour time is most convenient for you:
Sunday, October 2 – 10:00 am or 11:30 am
*Tuesday, October 4 at 10:00 am and 11:30 am
Wednesday, October 5 – 10:00 am or 11:30 am
*Families who will be attending our “Living with the Land” lunch on Tuesday will have priority for Tuesday tour times.
Note: Adults and children ages 5 and older can attend this program. If you have children under 5, please arrange for another adult to stay with them while you do the tour with your older children. Or you can register for Expedition D82 instead – everyone can attend that together, regardless of age. No strollers are allowed during the Behind the Seeds tour due to the limited space inside the greenhouses.
We did this last year and it was a hit with everyone – children and adults. The tour was interesting and educational, the tour guides were excellent, and they seemed to enjoy our group as much as we enjoyed them.
This workshop is scheduled Monday, October 3 (probably from 10:00 am to noon – I’ll update this if it changes). It’s included in your ticket unless you chose to do the Behind the Seeds tour instead. If you want to do both, this one is an extra $16 per student.
It’s new, so I don’t have personal experience, but it sounds great! It combines hands-on learning with a self-guided exploration of the people, places, and cultures that make up the 11 nations of the World Showcase at Epcot. Students will receive a workbook with things to do and discover. The story of each showcase will come to life as they examine the attention to detail, cultural elements, and hidden treasures that evoke the heritage and traditions of each country. Students will gather in Epcot on Monday morning to complete hands-on projects at several learning stations. Afterwards they’ll be able do the rest of the expedition in the World Showcase at their own pace.
More Educational Workshops
The Behind the Seeds tour or Expedition D82 workshop is included in the cost of your ticket, but Disney has many other popular offerings for students in grades K-12. (Most of these are located in the parks, so make sure you plan your park days accordingly so you won’t run out of days on your ticket.)
I’ve scheduled these optional workshops on Sunday, October 2 (and one on Thursday, October 6). Workshops cover a variety of topics: physics, chemistry, technology, history, photography, marine science careers, engineering, theater and performing arts, and more.
Each workshop costs $30 per person (including parents). More information and descriptions are available on my Disney World FAQs page.
Special Group Meals
Hoop-Dee-Doo Dinner Show
Sunday, October 2 – 6:15 pm
Get ready to clap your hands, stomp your feet, sing along and have a good ol’ time on at rustic Pioneer Hall in Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground. We’ll enjoy two hours of rousing Wild West dancing, singing, and zany vaudeville comedy. In between skits and songs, we’ll chow down on buckets of all-you-care-to-enjoy fried chicken and smoked BBQ pork ribs, a tossed green salad, baked beans, fresh-baked cornbread, and strawberry shortcake. Unlimited draft beer, wine and sangria are included for Guests 21 years of age and up (proper ID required). Soft drinks are also included. The price is $72 for ages 10 and up, and $43 for ages 3-9. (You won’t use a park day for this event.)
Living Seas & Soarin’ Breakfast
Monday, October 3 – breakfast planned for 8:00 am to 9:00 am, with ride to follow (time could change)
Dine with sharks, and dolphins, and stingrays! Our breakfast area at Epcot features large panoramic windows where can watch more than 6,000 sea creatures swim by as we eat. Afterwards, we’ll be among the first to ride my favorite attraction, Soarin’. The cost is $36 per person, ages 3 and up. Space is limited, park tickets are required.
Here’s the menu:
Chocolate Chip Muffins
Fresh Fruit Salad
Orange Juice, Chocolate Milk, Coffee, Tea, Water
World Showcase Dinner
Monday, October 3 – planned for 6:45 pm to 8:15 pm (time could change)
Enhance your Expedition D82 experience with a meal that features food from different countries in Epcot’s World Showcase. Our dinner will be scheduled after the Expedition D82 workshop on Monday and a cultural representative from Disney will join us. The cost is $70 per person, ages 10 and up; $35 per person, ages 3-9. Space is limited, park tickets are required.
Here’s the menu:
United States – California Field Greens with Lite Herb Vinaigrette and Avocado Ranch Dressing
Mexico – Baby Green Beans with Chili Butter, Tomato and Cilantro
Norway – Roasted Potatoes with Fresh Dill
Italy – Stuffed Pasta Shells with Marinara Sauce
Japan -Teriyaki Chicken Thighs
France – Tender Braised Beef with Pear Onions
Morocco – Flatbread with Hummus
United Kingdom – Strawberry Trifle
Canada – Chocolate Maple Mousse Tart
IllumiNations Dessert Party
Monday, October 3 – 8:30 pm to 9:30 pm
Join us for a private dessert party alongside the World Showcase Lagoon in Epcot! Our group will have our own reserved patio to watch the nighttime spectacular IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth, a mesmerizing display of fireworks, lasers and dancing water effects. $29 per person (ages 3 and up), includes a variety of desserts, fresh fruit salad, water, and soft drinks. Space is limited, park tickets are required.
Sci-Fi Dine-In* & Toy Story Mania Breakfast
Tuesday, October 4 – breakfast planned for 8:00 am to 9:00 am, with ride to follow (time could change)
Watch campy sci-fi clips as we breakfast under the stars at the Sci-Fi Dine-In* in Disney’s Hollywood Studios. We’ll see attacking aliens, marauding mummies, rampaging robots and more! Afterwards, we’ll be among the first to experience my second favorite attraction, Toy Story Mania. The cost is $36 per person, ages 3 and up. Space is limited, park tickets are required.
*Sci-Fi Dine-In Restaurant recently tested a breakfast menu, which would have impacted our ability to use it for this event. (If they offer breakfast to the public, we can’t use it for our group.) As of right now (June 2016), it doesn’t look like they’re continuing their public breakfast menu, so there’s a good chance we’ll be able to eat there. If they start offering breakfast to the public again, though, they’ll move us to another (hopefully equally awesome) restaurant. We won’t be able to get refunds if they move us, so please keep that in mind if you register for this event.
Here’s the menu:
Chocolate Chip Muffins
Fresh Fruit Salad
Orange Juice, Chocolate Milk, Coffee, Tea, Water
Behind the Seeds Lunch
Tuesday, October 4; 1:00 pm
Enhance your Behind the Seeds tour by eating food that was grown in, or inspired by, the greenhouses you’ll see during the tour. As an extra bonus, our lunch area has large panoramic windows where we’ll be able to watch more than 6,000 sea creatures swim by while we eat!
This will be scheduled after the Behind the Seeds tours on Tuesday. You don’t have to take the tour to participate in the lunch, but it’s highly recommended. The cost is $63 per person, ages 10 and up; $32 per person, ages 3-9. Space is limited, park tickets are required.
Here’s the menu:
Greens with Herb Vinaigrette and Buttermilk Ranch Dressing
Quick Pickled Vegetable Salad
Heirloom Tomato and Cucumber Salad
Hot Grilled Vegetables
Smashed Potatoes infused with Sour Cream and Green Onions
Grilled Yardbird with Roasted Sweet Corn Sauce
Land Harvested Fresh Catch with Mango Chutney
House Made Oat Bread with Cultured Butter
Fresh Berries with Whipped Cream
Chocolate Almond Cookies
Cirque du Soleil – La Nouba
I have reserved seats for our group at the 6:00 pm Cirque du Soleil – La Nouba performance on Wednesday, October 5. (Students who register for Disney’s Backstage at La Nouba workshop must attend this performance.)
This is a wonderfully entertaining show and well worth the price of admission. Families who’ve been to Cirque du Soleil performances in other areas (Las Vegas, etc.) have told me that Disney’s show (La Nouba) is the best they’ve seen, and many have told me it was one of the highlights of their trip. Tickets prices are estimated to be $32 per person (ages 3 and up). Since this is at Disney Springs (formerly Downtown Disney), a park ticket is not required for this event.
(Disney recently lowered the price for youth groups – it’s usually $59. If you’ve wanted to see this show, take advantage of this lower price. It may increase again after this year.)
Universal 2-day park-to-park tickets are $127 per person (ages 3 and up). This covers both parks (Islands of Adventure and Universal Studios) on both days, so you’ll be able to ride the Hogwarts Express from one park to the other.
The tickets will be valid for the same timeframe as our Disney tickets, and you can choose the days you want to visit during that time. However, you must use both days within 7 days of first use. The clock starts ticking the first time you use the ticket. More information about Universal is available on my Disney World FAQs page.
In my opinion, Universal has done an amazing job with both Harry Potter worlds. If you’re a fan, being able to experience these worlds is well worth the price of admission. Just watch out for these guys!
We’ve blocked rooms for our group at three Disney resorts (value, moderate, deluxe) this year to meet a wider variety of budgets:
Pop Century – $124.88*/night
Port Orleans French Quarter – $209.25/night
Port Orleans Riverside (for families of 5**, reserve early!) – $209.25/night
Wilderness Lodge – $342.00/night
These rooms allow up to four guests in two queen beds at Port Orleans French Quarter and Wilderness Lodge, and two double beds at Pop Century.
*There was a mistake in the price on our initial contract for Pop Century – this is the correct price per night, including tax.
**Port Orleans Riverside has rooms with two queens and a small murphy bed (5 feet x 3 feet) that can accommodate 5 (with the 5th person under the age of 9).
Rates include all taxes and fees, and don’t increase on the weekends like non-group rooms do.
If Disney offers discounts during our travel dates, we’ll be able to get the discounted rates as long as they still have rooms available at that rate. (I’ll keep an eye on discounts.) If you want to stay longer than our group dates of October 1-8, just tell them when you call and they may be able to add to our dates at the group rate.
If you want to stay at one of our group resorts, please note it on your registration form and I’ll email reservation information. (You’re not required to stay at a Disney resort to join our group.)
For more information about resorts, pros and cons of staying on or off property, and more, see our Disney World FAQs page.
October is hurricane season in Florida. Disney will work with us on a case-by-case basis in the event of a direct hit (or anticipated direct hit) from a hurricane right before our arrival or during our stay. There are no guarantees, but they’ll almost definitely refund unused tickets. If the tickets are partially used they’ll work with us to finish the use of the tickets. If there’s just heavy rain from a hurricane, they won’t refund our tickets – we’ll just have to deal with the rain. I’ll do my best on your behalf if there’s an event that impacts our stay, but there are no guarantees. Please register with this in mind.
Payment & Refund Policy
- Full payment will be due in my mailbox within 7 days of the date I send your confirmation email. Please don’t register until you’re able to pay in full. (If you stay at a group resort, you’ll pay Disney for that separately, and you can make payments.)
- I accept checks, cashier’s checks, and money orders.
- I can’t accept PayPal, Disney gift cards, or credit cards
- Families from Canada (and other countries) are encouraged to register well before the deadline to allow enough time for checks to clear and avoid a delay in mailing tickets. An additional fee of $40 will be added to cover international shipping and bank fees.
- If you need to cancel after paying for your tickets, you will be charged a $25 per person cancellation fee. Cirque du Soleil tickets are not refundable for any reason.
Before You Register
- Each family must register separately (grandparents are considered part of the same family unit). If you have extended family who want to attend (your sister and her family, for example), please ask them to register and pay separately.
- You can choose your own arrival date, but you must plan your stay so your family can attend a Behind the Seeds tour or the Expedition D82 workshop.
- Other than attendance at one of the required events, you don’t have to stay with the group. You’re free to wander at will.
- If you stay at a Disney resort, you’ll be able to add our educational group ticket to the new MyMagic+ wristband they’ll send you. However, please take your tickets with you everywhere in case something glitches. If your wristband doesn’t work, your ticket will.
- If you’d like help planning your trip, consider joining my (affectionately titled) Disney Stalkers forum, where other Disney families gather to help each other.
Registration is closed. I’ll announce dates for our 2017 trip soon!