One of the great things about Walt Disney World is that it’s accessible to travelers with just about any vacation budget. However, we've recently noticed that the resort is pulling out all the stops with its newly launched, pricey add-ons that aim to enhance your visit. From additional-fee transportation options to cabanas at the Magic Kingdom, here are some new ways Disney World is trying to make more money off its guests.
A convenience of staying at this flagship resort is the ability to take a free ferry or monorail to the Magic Kingdom. For hotel guests eager to explore other stops within the Magic Kingdom resorts area -- including the Contemporary Resort and the Wilderness Lodge -- there is now a private water taxi service that costs $20 each way for up to 10 passengers. The service runs between 8 a.m. and 6 p.m.
Have an extra $649 lying around? That's how much it'll cost you to rent a cabana at the world's most popular theme park. Located in Tomorrowland, these private tents offer space for eight and include cold drinks, snacks, couches, storage space, personalized Mickey ears, sunscreen, and charging stations. Those booking the cabanas even have access to reserved seating for parades and fireworks displays. There's also a menu off of which you can order food (for an extra fee, of course).
In addition to on-site ferry and monorail service that link certain areas of the resort, Disney World provides free bus transportation to get to the hotels, parks, Disney Springs, and other destinations on property. We've taken the buses for years and have had mostly great experiences, but admit that at times it's definitely faster to use your own vehicle. However, there's an even quicker way to get between the parks using Disney buses. It just debuted an unlimited-use Express Transportation option that runs between 10 a.m. and park closing (depending on the day and park), picking up and dropping off guests every 30 minutes at areas inside the parks -- meaning there's no need to go through the security checkpoint a second time. The cost is $15 per person for single-day use or $24 per person for multi-day tickets (for up to seven consecutive days).
Want to dine at the Polynesian Village, Grand Floridian, and Contemporary resorts without the hassle of making multiple reservations? Check out the Highway in the Sky Dine Around package. For $150 per person, this progressive five-course dinner takes you to those three resorts on the monorail line. It starts off with drinks at The Wave...of American Flavors at the Contemporary, followed by a ride on the monorail to the Polynesian Village for more cocktails and appetizers. After that, you'll get back on the monorail for a trip to the Grand Floridian, where dinner at Citricos awaits; the fourth course takes place in the lobby with wine and cheese. The evening wraps up at the Contemporary to watch the Magic Kingdom fireworks from a private patio with dessert, cordials, and coffee.
At Walt Disney World, dessert is not hard to come by, but for those who like their sweet treats with a show -- at a premium -- take a look at the resort's handful of dessert parties. Ranging in price from $49-$79 per adult, the parties are held at night in special areas of the Magic Kingdom, Epcot, and Disney's Hollywood Studios in coincidence with their nighttime shows. Expect cupcakes, chocolate-covered strawberries, cider, hot chocolate, coffee, tea, lemonade, fruit, and ice cream. The event at Epcot has a huge array of bites from around the world -- including cannoli, baklava, fondue, Asian crisped rice puffs, and warm chocolate pudding.
A West Coast Bonus: At $10 per day, the Disney MaxPass -- rolling out later this year -- will be an optional digital service that allows you to book and redeem FastPass return times via the Disneyland smartphone app. You can also use MaxPass to get unlimited downloads of any photos taken by park photographers