Disney Diary: The Reservation

I am heading back to Disney August 20-25, 2022. These are my notes on the process and experience.

In just a few weeks I will back at Walt Disney World! The plan was first put together in October 2021 but the world being how it is, I’ve been afraid to talk about it or even get excited. But now that it’s around the corner I want to start recording my journey and my thoughts. 

My Trip

Boarding the Galactic Starcruiser

That’s right, I am staying at the Star Wars resort! Now, I don’t think it’s news that this hotel ‘experience’ is extraordinarily expensive. I am only getting to go because I’m a plus-one and even without the base costs linked in that article it requires a lot of savings on my part. Travel costs are up just like everything else. I know how very lucky I am to be doing this and I plan to make the absolute most of it.

SO! I am traveling in a group of eight, seven adults and one child. We are staying in a “Grand Captain’s Suite”, which sounds very fancy though it’s really just the biggest option, for families or groups. Still, it’s the grandest! And I’m quite excited to see it (and compare it to the family suite at Art of Animation, which I absolutely loved).

Because I’m an add-on I had nothing to do with setting up the reservation, but from what I discern online that process hasn’t changed too much since I last used it in 2018. Resort and vacation reservation is all available online.

The Starcruiser reservation includes two nights at the hotel, meals at the hotel and one quick-service meal in the park, and a full slate of activities and interactions in the hotel. The schedule is accessed through your “datapad”, a part of the “Disney Play” app which is different from the “My Disney Experience” app. I’ve got it downloaded onto my phone and both the schedule and the interface are very involved and were quite intimidating the first time I logged on! But that does sell the idea that this is an experience not just a special hotel.

There are also add on activities for an extra price, such as building a lightsaber or droid, meeting with smugglers, or alien face-painting. These require a phone call to arrange. The captain of our trip set up most of those plans, too, but I did call in to arrange a photoshoot (more on Starcruiser fashion in an upcoming diary). I needed to know his contact information (at least two of phone, email, address) to access the reservation. I called twice and spoke with the same cast member both times. I got the impression this is still a very new part of the Disney machine— she told me to download the app mentioned above at least four times and encouraged me to be not just on time but early in a way that suggested there have been “no one told me xyz” type complaints about both these topics. But she was as helpful and friendly as they always are.

The Magic Kingdom and EPCOT

As part of the Galactic Starcruiser two-night event, we get passes to Hollywood Studios on the middle (full) day. My friends and I decided to add on trips to two other parks on either side of the Starcuiser voyage. We’re going to the Magic Kingdom the day before and to EPCOT after checkout on day 3.

In the new and (not so) improved system, we are required to reserve space at the park. I’m not at all opposed to guidelines for health, safety, and crowd control but it’s a new extra step so it’s important to be aware of. I purchased a 2-day park pass that spans the four day period that includes our plans; my friends who are staying longer got a few different 1- and 2-day passes to hit all the days. I preferred when passes lasted for a week or two (flight issues scare me!), but it is what it is. We’ll have magic bands for the Starcruiser but not the other days/parks, which is also imperfect but what can ya do.

We opted not to get Genie or Lightning Lane passes because we are already spending $$$ just to get in the park. This could be a terrible decision but I’ve been in Disney lines and Disney crowds many times before — you could only have 3 Fast Passes at one time even in the good old days — so I’m just calling it part of the experience.

I did put myself in charge of arranging dining for the non-Star Wars evenings. Disney planning is fun for me! Yes, even when it involves getting up before 6am so I definitely get a table at Be Our Guest. I’ll be talking about dining in a later Diary post. The Food and Wine Festival will be going on at EPCOT, and I won’t have any kids with me, so that’s exciting.

COVID Complicates Everything

A COVID-19 banner greets me every time I log into my Disney account, with links to the current information about park guidelines.

We opted to get travel insurance, which covers cancellation due to Covid. I’m arriving a day before our Magic Kingdom plan, two days before the Starcruiser, because flight delays are at an all time high. Florida being Florida, there are no requirements or restrictions at all, but we’re taking our own precautions as a group. I’m testing weekly leading up to the trip and bringing tests to the hotel. I’ll have hand sanitizer with me at all times (tbh, this is something I did pre-pandemic. The world is dirty and full of germs!). And I purchased masks to match all my outfits, plus surgical ones to go under them. Be safe everyone!

In the next few weeks I will be discussing my plans for dining, packing, Disneybound, and the Star Wars story I came up with for my part of the experience.

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