Planning a Disney vacation can be an exciting experience! Pick your dates, your hotel, your traveling companions, your FastPasses, and so much more. Disney seems like a magical place before you even get there!
This is how planning a vacation should be. But it isn’t always.
Some people are scammed by criminals claiming to be associated with or offering deals from Disney World. That is definitely not magical.
Being cognizant of these issues can ensure that your Disney vacation is indeed as magical as possible. See some tips below to avoid two of the most popular scams associated with a Disney vacation.
Vacation Contest Scam
There are many fake social media pages claiming to be associated with Disney World or one of the conglomerates. These pages or accounts attempt to trick people into liking and promoting their page via likes, comments, and shares. Pages with many “likes” or followers can even sell on the Black Market for big bucks! They then transfer to other criminals who can use the pages for their own purposes.
These pages will often advertise free vacation packages, free tickets, or free magical experiences. As a rule of thumb, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
So how can well-meaning Disney fans stay safe?
1. Only “like” or follow official pages.
Official pages have a blue checkmark, indicating that the page has been verified by Facebook, just after the name of the page.
If you come across a page that is fake, do not engage the page by liking, commenting, or sharing. Report the page by clicking on the three dots to the right of the page and clicking “Report Page.”
2. Be aware of strange punctuation.
If a page’s name has strange spelling or punctuation, it’s probably fake. There is only one Walt Disney World Facebook page, but there is also a page called “Walt Disney World.”, which adds a period at the end of the name. Since Facebook does not allow duplicate pages, criminals get around this rule by adding a period, a spelling variation, or some other small difference that many people won’t recognize.
3. Check out the page’s categorization.
The categorization of a page is located under the name. Disney Parks are categorized as “theme park,” and Disney Cruise Line is categorized as “travel & leisure.” Since “travel & leisure” is an easy category to fit into, most of the fake pages are listed in this category. Pages that are categorized as “transport & freight” are most likely fake as well.
4. Check out the number of likes.
Official pages of the Walt Disney Company will have likes in the millions. Because fake pages are shut down so often, they never have time to make it to the millions and hang steadily with just a few thousand.
5. Make sure that you can post directly to the page.
Walt Disney World allows visitors to post directly to their Facebook page. Fake pages do not allow visitors to post directly to the wall and only allow you to comment presumably because people would (disobeying rule number 1) post “scam” over and over warning other visitors.
Scams don’t only happen online. When you arrive on property, you hope that everything is already planned and will go smoothly, but what if your tickets are not valid? Here are some things to be aware of when purchasing tickets.
Sometimes Disney vacationers will purchase more day passes than they actually use. They will then use their enterprising prowess to sell their remaining days. Disney strictly forbids this, though, and you will end up disappointed if you try to purchase used tickets.
The only way to know if there are days left on a ticket is to check with Disney directly. Unfortunately, this means that you might get all the way to the gate before you find out that your “after-market” tickets are invalid.
Also, tickets are only valid for 14 days from the date of first use unless they were purchased with the no-longer-available no-expiration option; there is no way to know if the stranger purchased the no expiration option for their tickets
Finally, if those facts aren’t deterrent enough, Disney uses biometric scanning. This is a fancy way to say that your fingerprint is associated with your park ticket. Unless your used ticket comes with the finger of the original user, don’t attempt to use the ticket!
Military members, spouses, and veterans with valid (not expired) military IDs can purchase up to six tickets at a reduced rate. Children, veterans without an ID, and civilian contracts cannot purchase tickets at the reduced rate.
If you are not eligible for the discount, don’t even try; the Guest Relations people will not let you purchase at the discounted rate.
Cast Member Complementary Tickets
Many Cast Members are given a certain number of complimentary tickets for friends and family. These tickets can be printed only once and are valid for a one day park hopper pass. If a Cast Member sells these tickets, they will be at least reprimanded and probably fired.
The danger with attempting to use one of these tickets arises especially when you don’t know the Cast Member. Some have tried this freebie and have found that their ticket was a photocopy of a valid ticket that had been used, so they were forced to purchase all new tickets.
Florida Resident Tickets
Like Military Members, Florida Residents also get a pretty magical discount on Disney World tickets. In order to get this discount though, you must show a Florida identification, military identification based on Florida, a mortgage statement, a utility bill, homeowners or vehicle insurance statement, or a piece of mail from a government or financial institution. Any non-photo identification requires a matching photo ID, but that ID does not have to be a Florida ID. This is helpful if you have recently moved or are in the area temporarily.
Do not try to show your library card, your student ID, your country club card, or anything other than what the Guest Relations Representative asks for.
Bonus: Pizza Delivery
What could be better than pizza delivery and a Disney movie? Nothing.
Just be careful where you get your pizza. If you’ve ever stayed at a Disney World Resort hotel, you’ve probably returned to your room to find pizza delivery fliers pushed under your door. Many of these are scams in which criminals get your credit card number and never deliver that pizza. Disney even supported a law banning this type of activity on their property, but the fliers continue still.
Be aware of contests and ticketing scams when planning your Disney vacation, and report any suspicious behavior. Following the rules will make things easier for everyone involved. The best way to stay protected is to book with trusted travel agents, and make purchases directly from the Disney website or a Disney representative on property.
Are you concerned about Disney vacation scams?
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