Saturday, April 19, 2014

Tour Guide Mike review

Posted by Jim on Sep 3, 2005 0

A bigger waste of $21.95 you will be hard pressed to locate. A harsh statement for a service that is high in price and low in value and quality.

http://www.tourguidemike.com/ - let us review what they claim to do first. For your payment, this website offers -

It IS possible to NOT wait in long lines! Purchase my TourGuideMiKE Automated Vacation Plannerâ„¢ today and discover ‘how’ to experience ‘my’ Walt Disney World without the infamous lines & crowds! Enjoy a stress-free vacation like my personal VIPs!

In reality, the only portion of his “service” regarding lines is to tell you about a little known secret of Walt Disney World – FastPass, except there are no secret to FastPass. In fact, see the FastPass 101 information here
stress-free vacation – The Automated Vacation Planner you get from this “service” is access to a private forum, access to a library of articles and sample schedules. How does Tour Guide Mike decide which park is best to go today? Why they uses a system of Red Light – Yellow Light – Green Light

How does a park get a green light? - If the Magic Kingdom® Park had extra magic hours on Saturday July 10 and was open till 11PM, it would get a red or yellow light on the 10th, and a green light on the 11th. Now is it better to go to the Magic Kingdom® Park on the 10th or the 11th? This is where you get bad advice from Tour Guide Mike – there is no right answer. If you are only going to get one chance to go to the Magic Kingdom® Park on your vacation,

  • Go on the 10th with the extra magic hours
    • You get more hours in the park for your ticket price, which is the same $ amount
    • Others will think its more crowded and stay away
    • Lots of people leave for dinner
    • Lots of people leave to go to the other parks for those night time shows
    • Kids get cranky
    • Adults get tired
  • Go on the 11th without the extra magic hours
    • Its a regular day, so you get the regular hours you had expected anyway
    • The die hard people were hear yesterday, so it ‘might’ or ‘should’ be less crowded

The Red/Yellow/Green system over looks this debate, and attempts to give you the results of Tour Guide Mike’s coin flip of a coin decision as experienced gospel fact when it is more opinion and fiction.

Well he must know what he is talking about; after all, he lists a long career as a cast member. Um, 5 years as a cast member is not that long. 10+ years is a long time as a Walt Disney cast member. Just ask anyone who works there – part timers, seasonal, and those who think it will be magical rather then a job all make it a few weeks up to a year. From a year to 5 you run into those who want change, more money, lots of reason. 10 years – now you are talking seasoned employees, old school, lots of knowledge and experience in the parks. 5 years as a cast member, hell most Disneyana die hard fans have more hours in the parks with their 25 years of annual passes then 5 years of full time employment in hours.

BTW – that’s with vacation time, 9,600 hours in the parks working. If you went every weekend for 25 years for 1 day, you would have spent 10,400 hours in the park. Math is such a fun thing :)

My thousands of guests report they never wait longer than 10 to 15 minutes for their rides & attractions, no matter the travel season. (And it’s often less than that!) Use my years of experience as a private VIP Tour Guide to the rich & famous, my step-by-step itinerary planning advice, and my detailed Sample Park Tours that come with your planner, and neither will you!

This is a marketing claim without merit. Lines are what they are. If you go in off season, or off days, and ride the Hall of Presidents while waiting for your FastPass at The Haunted Mansion, then yes you do not have long waits. But this is common knowledge, found on the Internet, from your hotel guest services, the bus driver on the way to the parks, and at the parks themselves.

Well Jim, you”re a die-hard. What you have to say is not a fair perspective for the first time or been once 10 years ago on a high school senior trip vacation planner

You might be right. So I took the Tour Guide Mike information to the Guest Services booths at Magic Kingdom® Park, Disney-MGM Studios, and Epcot® and at Disney’s Animal Kingdom® Theme Park counter. At the first three areas, which you cannot miss – they are shortly after you enter the park, and have all the major attractions, their wait times and current status. I asked a total of 9 cast members what they thought of the little vacation planner. Everyone gave it thumbs down, with remarks including

  • cute but not worth paying for
  • its what I give people for free all day long
  • all this information is on the Disney web site
  • I have heard of this, but no one I know thinks it’s worth anything
  • there are a few people who try and sell this stuff to tourists
  • Um, you paid for this? Look behind me – its on the board for free and more up to date

So is the services offered a deal for you? If you have no time till your vacation or lots, spending a ton of cash or going as frugal as possible – in every case the answer is no. Save the $20 and avoid Tour Guide Mike AVP service.

  • Short on time, spending lots of money at Walt Disney World - get this from your hotel concierge or guest services, and tip them the $20
  • Short on time, spending little – save the $20 for a nice lunch or extra drink or appetizer at dinner, use the FREE maps at the park, and the schedule boards
  • Have lots of time, spending lots of money – Search the web, watch the free Walt Disney World vacation planner DVD, and then get this from your hotel concierge or guest services, and tip them the $20. Go with a tour guide.
  • Have lots of time, spending little – go to the numerous forums on the Internet for savings on Walt Disney World vacations and Orlando attractions (take them with a grain of salt), watch the free video or DVD, plan out your vacation, and watch your costs

So how is the actual tool for the Automated Vacation Planner? After being asked a ton of questions including ages of all party members, you are given a form letter answer that is not customized around you vacation in any way, except your arrival and departure dates. With so much information being asked, you would think you got stuck with the census long form. But even the simple things, like a vacation with a single mom and 3 kids ages 5 and under, you are sent to get FastPass vouchers for Splash Mountain. And to add insult to injury, you are told to pick on of your party and send them as a volunteer to run ahead of you and get the FastPass vouchers. Um, should we send the 5 year old through the park alone or just leave the 3 kids at the castle while the single mom goes?

What you can print out is sample itineries. There is no customized or personalized vacation trip. You put in some info which is used to determine when to lock you out of the system, and access to a library of articles. You have to extract all the information yourself. There is no Automated in this Automated Vacation Planner, and the Planner is a form schedule for the first or second half of the month. If your vacation spans into the next month, as ours did, it’s difficult to find the following month’s first half. And you would need to join 2 boards, wait for approval, and watch for those articles to appear. If this is all sounding like work, you are right. In the end this turns out to be a lot of manual work by you to build your own Vacation Planner.

Form letter answers does not fit – what you get is access to articles. Going with kids? Then you should read the articles on traveling with kids. Is this customized to your vacation? No, you get access to the entire list of articles, whether they fit your trip or not.

You can also sign up for a message board for the month you are traveling. But you need permission from the moderator of THAT month to access that board. Purchase this service early, get longer access. Purchase at the last minute, you might not even get approved for access before your trip. Just another example of the long questions not doing anything but making you thinks you are getting a customized Vacation Plan. The access for 30 or 60 days after your trip does you no good, but helps Tour Guide Mike fill his articles library with your input.

This example just highlights the cookie cutter flaw in the system – family of 5, party of 2 – results are all the same. Clunky interface, tons of questions, none of which alter the schedule except for arrival and departure dates.

So I asked around on a few boards to see who used this service what they said. Even those who raved about it complained about the web site being confusing. Seems all the hypes makes you think your getting a Tour Guide, but the truth is you just get a basic database spitting out reports mostly containing boilerplate and the stuff that is available for free all over the web and from Disney itself.

One last word on any Walt Disney World vacation – it is a vacation. Plan it out and have fun. Don’t plan out and take the fun out of your vacation by trying to stick to a schedule. Your kids will get sick, the heat will get to you, it will rain, and a ride will be broken. Go with an idea and have fun. Going with a plan to the minute will only get you frustrated. And really, the magic in going to Walt Disney World is already in you and your family. It comes out in those smiling faces when you get a picture with Dad in a big goofy hat, mom with Minnie ears on, and the kids being hugged by a character. You will not get even close to that sort of magi using this service.

In summary, Tour Guide Mike, and the Automated Vacation Planner at http://www.tourguidemike.com is a bad value for any vacation traveler to the Walt Disney World theme parks. Save your money, put it to better use. Vacations to Disney can be expensive, very expensive. Spend a few minutes and do the research. http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&q=disney+vacation+boards Will get you a lot of friendly people to share information. You do get a discount on future trips, but this service is of no value the first time, who would want to use it twice? The Automated is the credit card charge going through from there it is all your reading, searching and putting together the Vacation Planner.

And for those of your Internet savvy, this is a rather interesting list of keywords Tour Guide Mike uses. disny? What exactly is disny? Where are there coupons on the pay $22 Automated Vacation Planner program?

Automated Vacation Planner – Guide to Walt Disney World TourGuideMiKE
Save money, plan your Disney vacation with our automated Disney World vacation planner. Avoid lines, save on Disney hotels and attraction tickets.
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