Ski Season is Here!

Enjoy it in a Ski Condo….

Now is a great time to book a ski vacation! The resorts are opening and there is lots of snow in the forecast for this winter. A variety of rental accommodations are available for you to enjoy after a day of skiing, tubing, skating or tobogganing. Take your family or friends, and enjoy relaxing in front of a cozy fire or soaking your muscles in a hot tub. Owner Direct can help you find the right cabin or condo for your needs. Here are some tips for some of our favourite resorts.

Big White Resort

Big White, famous for its ‘snow ghosts‘ and light fluffy powder, offers plenty of lodging options on the mountain but you can also choose to stay in Kelowna to enjoy the city amenities.  To get the most value out of your ski holiday at Big White:

  • Purchase multi-day tickets and save $10/day. Prices also include night skiing.
  • Redeem your Air Miles for a lift ticket (with no blackout dates) 525 air miles get you one full day lift ticket. Pretty sweet deal!

The Okanagan is famous for its delicious wines so why not plan your ski holiday around one of two wine tastings events at Big White: Big Reds takes place December 7th and 8th, while Big Whites takes place March 23rd. Both events offer a selection of locally inspired appetizers.

Whistler-Blackcomb Ski Resort

Rated one of the top ski resorts in North America, Whistler-Blackcomb should be on every skier’s list to experience at least once. Vacations can be expensive and we all like a deal so here are few tips on how to save:

  • Purchase an Edge Card (available only to Canadians and residents of Washington State). These are preloaded passes available for 1, 3, 5 or 10 days of skiing during the 2012-13 season (with no blackout periods) at discounted prices.
  • Alternatively pre-purchase your ski passes and save. Savings depend on the length of the ski pass and when you are skiing. For instance, purchase an 8 day ski pass good until December 14th and you would save 27% off the regular price.
  • Kids under 6 ski free!

Park City

Park City, Utah is famous for its epic snow and first class service. When planning your Park City ski holiday, there is a variety of rental lodging mountainside as well as in nearby Salt Lake City. Park City Mountain offers a variety of ways to save. One of the most original allows you to convert your boarding pass into a same-day lift ticket. This applies to Park City Mountain as well as Deer Valley Resort and the Canyons Resort.

There are a number of prestigious events held throughout the season, which you may want to consider when planning your trip:

  • SkiFest, where you can enjoy skiing with Olympians, TV & film stars,  takes place Dec 8-9th.
  • For more celebrity spotting visit during the Sundance Film Festival, January 17th – 27th.
  • Freestyle World Cup, a premier ski event including aerial and mogul competitions, will be held January 30 to February 2, 2013.

Mont Tremblant

Enjoy some of the best skiing east of the Rockies at Mont Tremblant, about  90 minutes from Montreal, Quebec. There are a variety of ways to save. If you won’t be a frequent visitor to the mountain consider the following offers:

  • The Latitude Card requires you to purchase your tickets at least 48 hours in advance but you can save up to 34%.
  • School break offer where kids (6 to 17 yrs) ski for 5 days for $99.

Sun Valley

Sun Valley offers some stunning and challenging terrain and is known for its perfect pitch mountain slope. Ticket prices are based on the time of year with peak periods being the most expensive. Ticket prices can be cheaper when purchasing multi-day passes, and there are also discounts for military and local residents.

Sun Valley features a variety of events held throughout the year. Consider planning your ski holiday to enjoy one of these:

  • USSA Freestyle Spectacular featuring a mogul competition on Bald Mountain, and slope style and half-pipe on Dollar Mountain on January 10th to 13th, 2013.
  • Transworld Snow Conference, March 11th to 15th, 2013.
  • Rev Tour (March 17th to 22nd) which attracts international competitors for skier-x, half-pipe and slope style events.

Panorama

Panorama Mountain is featuring one of the best deals this season, the “Snowcard”, open to all skiers and boarders. The Snowcard is good for 4 days of skiing or riding (although there are some blackout periods). An adult card is $149, which works out to $37.25 for a full day of fun! What a deal!

There are also several family events held at Panorama that you may want to consider when planning:

  • Snowflake Festival, January 19-20th, with fun activities for the entire family including a torchlight parade.
  • Mardi Gras, February 8-9th, with some fabulous food and activities for kids including mask making.
  • Stampede, March 9-10th, complete with cowboy cookouts and rodeo events for the whole family.

Where is your favourite mountain to ski or board? Do you have any deals to share with other readers?

How to get the best deal on Disney World tickets

A trip to Disney World is every child’s dream but for the parents it can be an expensive proposition. We have done some research and if you are not purchasing a Disney package that includes your admission, there are some alternative options that can save you money on Disney World tickets.

While it is cheaper to buy your tickets on-line vs. at the gate, you should be aware of a couple of things beforehand.

  •  Never buy partially used passes. Since June 2005, Disney has been using a fingerprint scan system to ensure that only person uses each ticket.
  •  Be wary of websites, eBay or Craigslist ads that offer super low Disney tickets. Too good to be true? It probably is. Either they are trying to rip you off and obtain your credit card information or get you to sit through a grueling hard sell time share or “resort preview” presentation.

Disney website. Buy direct from the source. Disney allows you to pre-purchase your tickets on-line so you maximize your time at the park. As a general rule Disney tickets get cheaper on a per day basis the longer you plan to spend at the park.

Rates range form $91 for a 1 day ticket to $31/day for a 10 day ticket. Planning on spending 5 days at Disney? It will cost you $267 or approximately $53/day. A five day pass allows you to visit each park once (Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Hollywood Studios and Animal Kingdom) and spend your 5th day revisiting your favourite park.

AAA and CAA Discounts are available at select locations for 3 to 7 day tickets.  Be aware that Western Canada and many states in Western United States do not sell Walt Disney World tickets only tickets to Disneyland in California.

Not a AAA or CAA member? Consider the following authorized Disney dealers to purchase your tickets on-line…

Undercover Tourist offers a 5 day pass for $253, a savings of $14 per person (compared to buying on-line from Disney).

Orlando Fun Tickets offers the same 5 day pass for $246, a savings of $21 per person.

DWTickets.com offers a 4 day park hopper pass with a free upgrade to a 5 day ticket for $239, a savings of $28 per person from the Disney price.

What has been your experience? Have you found a cheaper alternative to purchase your Disney tickets?

For more information check out our Disney World Travel Guide to assist you when planning your Disney adventure.

 

40 Years of Disney World Ticket Prices – A Cost Comparison

Children dream of experiencing the magic of Disney. A visit to Disney will ensure smiles all round, enjoying interactions with live Disney characters, thrilling rides, live entertainment, fireworks and so much more. The amount of fun is endless, as this is the place is where dreams come true. But as adults we all know taking a family to Disney is an expensive proposition. Has that always been the case? Over the past 40 years the price of everything has increased but are things really more expensive? We thought it would be an interesting exercise to review how the cost of prices for Disney tickets has changed over the years compared with the price of gas. As well, we will also take into account inflation so we can accurately compare year over year to see if things really are more expensive now than 40 years ago.

Comparison of Disney World Ticket Prices and Gas Prices
Adjusted for Inflation

The magic all started in 1971 with the opening of one theme park, Magic Kingdom. Disney  quickly became a worldwide sensation drawing visitors from around the world. These were the days of books of tickets, day passes had not yet been introduced. The cost of a 7 ride book was $4.75 and an 8 ride book was $5.40 or $.68 a ride. The average price of gas was $.36 a gallon. Those were the good old days. What a deal! Or was it? Taking into account inflation, current day prices for the same 7 ride book would be $28.20, an 8 ride book would be $32.06 and gas $2.13/gallon. Considering a 2012 one day pass is $85 and gas is $3.63 a gallon, yes it seems those were the good old days. Things really did cost less!

The 80′s were about growth and investment in the Park. The additions included the opening of Epcot, Walt Disney World Village, MGM Studios (presently known as Hollywood Studios), Pleasure Island and Typhoon Lagoon Water Park. Over 100 million visitors passed through the gates of Walt Disney World. In 1981 a one day pass was introduced for $13.25 and increased in priced over the decade to a high of $29 in 1989. Average gas prices were $1.25 in 1981 and $1.02 in 1989. Remember the recession of the early 80′s that sent gas prices soaring? Adjusted for inflation the current value for a one day pass would be $27.43 (1981 ticket) and $47.90 (1989 ticket). Effectively the price of a one-day ticket almost doubled in less than 10 years. While the price of gas decreased over that time from $3.61 to $1.69 a gallon.

The 90′s was known as theDisney Decade” and by the mid 90s’ over 500 million guests had visited the Park. Disney invested heavily into the development of the Brand with the addition of Animal Kingdom, a variety of new and exciting rides at all of the theme parks, golf courses, the Disney Institute, Disney Cruise Line and Blizzard Beach Water Park. A one day pass to Disney in 1991 was $33 and had increased to $44 by 1999. While the average price of gas stayed pretty consistent at $1.14 in 1991 and $1.16 in 1999. Taking into account inflation, current day prices for  a one-day pass would be $48.80 for a 1991 ticket and $58.20 for a 1999 ticket while gas would cost $1.69 and $1.53.

The new Millennium was celebrated with a year-long Millennium Celebration as well as the addition of several new rides and resorts. 2001 marked the 100th anniversary of Walt Disney’s birth and featured events throughout the Park. In 2001 a one-day pass was $48 and by 2009 the same pass was $79. Average gas prices were $1.43 in 2001 and jumped to $2.48 in 2009. Factoring inflation the current value for the same one-day pass would be $59.98 for a 2001 pass and $84.76 for a 2009 pass and gas would be $1.79 and $2.66 respectively. In less than 10 years Disney’s one-day pass increased almost $25, a 41% increase, while gas increased $.87 a gallon, a 49% increase.

Based on our analysis it does appear that Disney is getting more expensive. Disney prices have increased from $5.40 in 1971 to $79 in 2009. Adjusted for inflation, the current values would be $28.20 for an 8 ride 1971 ticket and $84 for a 2009 day pass. Granted Disney has grown substantially in those years offering much more than just the Magic Kingdom. The good news is that Disney prices have stabilized over the past 3 years as a 2012 one-day pass is $85. But based on historical trends we can expect the cost of Disney to continue to rise and these increases will not always be in line with inflation. Are you considering a family holiday in the next 5 years? You may want to hedge the cost of your holiday and consider purchasing your tickets now, locking into a known price and pay the extra premium for tickets with no expiration.

What is the future of Disney? With such amazing advancements in technology, the future of Disney seems limitless. In fact, Walt Disney is joining forces with James Cameron and Fox Films to bring the magic of Avatar to life at Disney. Walt’s vision of combining the fantastical to real life experiences is only going to get better. Avatar is one example of this. Disney really is the place where dreams come true.

Planning a trip to Disney World? Check out Owner Direct’s Disney World Travel Guide to assist with all things Disney. Consider staying near the park and rent your own condo rental or vacation home. Owner Direct offers a variety of rental accommodations to suit a multitude of budgets and sizes. Check out Owner Direct Vacation Rentals in  Kissimmee, Orlando, Clermont or Davenport. Vacation rentals provide all of the comforts of home and can often be more cost effective than staying in a hotel.

Top 8 Must-Have Travel Apps for Your Phone

Technology has made traveling a much more pleasurable experience eliminating much of the stress of traveling. Don’t speak the local language? Not a problem, there’s an app for that. Actually there are phone apps for almost anything you can imagine that you may need during your holiday. Most are free. Here are some of our favourite travel apps you might want to download for your next vacation.

Pano, an award winning app that allows you to capture stunning panoramic images from your phone. Your photos will be even more memorable capturing the essence of the area. Pano allows you to take up to 16 photos and create a panoramic image. The apps’ algorithms allow seamless blending of images in just seconds! No other software is necessary.

Traveling by air? Flight Aware is a handy app that allows you to track your flight and automatically notifies you of any flight delays, gate changes or cancellations.

Urbanspoon uses your phones’ GPS to pick popular local restaurants in a particular neighborhood. Urbanspoon is available in several countries, including US, Canada, Australia and UK. Simply “shake” your phone and nearby restaurants will slide up and down your screen like a slot machine. A comparable app, Open Table is a completely international restaurant locator with the added ability to make reservations.

Got a led foot? Consider adding Trapster app to your phone. Trapster alerts you to speed traps and other roadway problems. Users can submit tips on speed traps, cameras or other delays and the app notifies other users in the area.

While being out and about it’s always nice to know where there are good, clean restrooms. Even more important in unfamiliar areas. The Sit or Squat app allows you to view, rate and add bathrooms by using your phones’ GPS.

Yelp also uses your phone’s GPS to provide you with a list of local businesses in more than a dozen categories, from movie theaters and restaurants to taxi companies and drug stores. Yelp even allows you to make a reservation with Open Table (reviewed above) without leaving Yelp. Pretty cool.

And for those vacationing in places where you don’t speak the native language, a must-have travel app is Jibbigo. It allows you to speak an English phrase into your phone and Jibbigo will recite the translation into a variety of languages, including Spanish, Japanese, Thai and Chinese. While similar to Google Translate, it doesn’t require a data connection, which can get expensive. The cost of the app will more than pay for itself over the course of your holiday.

What are some of your must-have travel apps? Why did they come in handy during your travels?

Tips to Utah Ski Resorts

Salt Lake City is a unique destination. Where else can you travel in North America and be within a couple of hour’s drive of so many world-class ski resorts? With so many choices how do you decide where to spend your time? No matter your decision, you will be sure to enjoy breathtaking scenery, some of the best snow on earth and plenty of thrills and challenges for all ability levels.

Vacations are expensive, especially if you have a family. We have provided some tips to help you save some money as well as get the most out of your Utah ski and boarding holiday.

  1. Discounted tickets … Everyone likes a discount but you cannot buy discounted lift tickets at the mountain. Only 2 ski shops (AJ Motion Sports and Canyon Sports) in Salt Lake City have an agreement with Utah’s Ski Resorts and offer a range of tickets at discounted prices.  With discounted tickets you can ski for as little as $47 (an adult all day pass at Sundance) and $56 (an adult all day pass at Brighton).
  2. Alta offers $10 tickets after 3pm which is perfect for beginners or those who just want to do a couple of runs.
  3. Kids ski free… Families will be interested to know that kids under 7 ski for free at Park City and Brighton.
  4. “Quick Start Program”…Ski your first day free in Salt Lake City…3 resorts (Park City, The Canyons and Deer Valley) offer the “free day of flight skiing”, after arriving in the morning, ski for free in the afternoon. Just present your same-day boarding pass and convert it into a same-day lift ticket. The Quick Start Program does have some rules and regulations and requires you to register online but what better way to start your ski and boarding holiday?
  5. Spend more time on the mountain less time on the lift…at Brighton where 100% of its terrain is accessed by high speed quads.
  6. Are you looking for more than thrills? Consider Sundance , an award winning resort offering a multitude of specialized services and a resort that is actively dedicated to the preservation and appreciation of nature.
  7. Night time fun?Wolf Mountain  has been voted the best resort for night skiing in the Valley.
  8. Skiing in April?Snowbird might be a good choice offering the longest ski season in Utah ending sometime in May depending on conditions.
  9. Uncrowded atmosphere and great terrain? … Check out Eagle Point , Utah’s newest ski resort and is a great option for those looking for some serious adventure offering some of the best backcountry skiing in southern Utah.
  10. Highest base elevation and more…Brian Head boasts Utah’s highest base elevation with really affordable lift tickets. An adult all-day lift pass is $49. Children under 5 ski free. Brian Head is also the only resort to offer 6 lanes of tubing serviced by a lift. Now that is some serious fun!

For a more comprehensive comparison of Utah’s ski resorts check out our ski guides including comparative ski statistics for  Salt Lake City and Utah.

Care to share your experiences skiing and boarding in Utah? What’s your favorite mountain? Any tips for people planning their next ski vacation?