Mystery Science Theater 3000 Lives Again – The New York MST3K Screening & Afterparty

We have movie sign!!!!!!!

That’s right! There’s a new episode of MST3K for the first time since August 1999! Thanks to the largest campaign to fund a media project on Kickstarter, Mystery Science Theater is coming back to television on Netflix for 14 new episodes.

When I saw the Kickstarter campaign in late 2015, I knew I had to give something to bring this show back. When looking through the incentives, I saw one I really wanted:

EXPERIMENT 752: JUST LIKE IN NEW YORK!

Tired of watching *us* sit in a theater watching movies while *you* sit at home? We can fix that. Grab a guest, put on your tuxedo jumper and join us at the theatre with TWO TICKETS to MST3K’s NYC PREMIERE EVENT*. Watch the pilot of the new season with the cast and creative team. Throw us your toughest curveballs during the Q&A. We’ll even cover your overpriced popcorn and soda.

*Travel/accommodations not included. See FAQ for more details.

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Poster for the first MST3k episode since 1999

I know this is a miles, points and travel blog, so stay with me here. Sharon and I have been living with the motto, “Experiences, not things” for a while now. If there’s something we want to do, we’ll try to make that happen however we can. For me, collecting miles and points allowed me to not worry about how I was going to get to New York or pay for my hotel. I knew that would take care of itself. I just had to swallow the price of the admission. With permission from Sharon (yes, it cost that much that I needed to make sure she was OK with me spending that amount), I went ahead and made my pledge.

That was back in December 2015. Since then the whole MST3K team has done a wonderful job of sending out info to the backers to let us know how the project was going. Finally after what seemed like an eternity, I got the email on Dec 29th, 2016:

You and a guest
are formally invited
to join
Joel Hodgson
& Special Guests
for
THE
#BRINGBACKMST3K
“WE’VE GOT MOVIE SIGN”
SCREENING EVENT
when:
TUESDAY,
FEBRUARY 14, 2017
early evening.
where:
NEW YORK CITY
(near Lincoln Square)

Next to actually getting a letter telling me they accidentally forgot to give me my letter to attend Hogwarts but could I still attend, this was most excited I could ever be over an email. I had a date to see the new episode. Since Sharon doesn’t really care for Mystery Science Theater, I asked my father to join me on the trip to New York. We were both fans of the original series on TV and I wanted to share this trip with him.

Shortly after that, I received another email to print my tickets to the event with an offer to upgrade to the VIP package including tickets to the afterparty. I wasn’t sure I wanted to pay more to go to the afterparty. I mean, I’m generally an introvert. I don’t like large crowds of people I don’t know. However, I read one line and I was sold.

Get your photo taken with Joel, the cast and the bots, get a reserved VIP seat for the screening, and enjoy free food, beer and wine while getting to know your new cast.

I’ve never been one to fawn over celebrities. They’re just people, just like me, who happen to do something which I find really cool. However, this one was somehow different. I really wanted to meet Joel. Tell him how much MST3K meant to me. How it helped form my sense of humor for the rest of my life. How I still have a stack of videotapes in the closet even though I still have the DVD’s. Just a second would be worth the money, and a picture would be nice, too.

My dad and I headed to New York and prepared for the event. Not knowing what to wear to a fancy event, I packed 3 versions of my outfit. I tried all of them on and decided to go with the most dressed up variant I brought with me.

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My first ever mirror selfie. The Chuck Taylor All-Stars were the one thing I wore to show I wasn’t taking the evening all too seriously.

 

EPISODE 1101

That’s all you’ll get from me about what was in the new episode. That’s because they asked us to keep it secret, as well as because I had to sign a confidentiality agreement before they would even let me into the movie theater. I can tell you it was a wonderful evening with plenty of laughter. (Note: This post was written in January 2017 – I hope you’ve seen the new episodes by now)

We arrived around 5:30 P.M., as was suggested in the email I received that morning. There was already a line forming but it wasn’t too long yet. We were only about 20-25 people from the front.photo-feb-14-5-53-04-pm

A little past the scheduled time, we were able to hand in our forms and hit the red carpet.

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From there we went into the theater, where we were able to grab some pretty awesome seats. Before we knew it, the show was starting and Joel was introducing the new residents of the Satellite of Love,  Jonah Ray (Jonah Heston), Baron Vaughn (Tom Servo) and Hampton Yount (Crow T. Robot).

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They worked the crowd for a bit but insisted on answering only “non-important” questions until later because they did not want to upset anyone who arrived later. So we found out what they had for lunch, how they liked New York and things of that sort. It did show that the new cast had learned how to bounce off one another, as the banter was very funny even though they were essentially talking about nothing.

Eventually it came down to the time where Joel was ready to introduce the new movie. After telling us a little about the episode, he wanted to make sure the booth was ready because this was “a big deal” and if the movie didn’t start, it would look really stupid. Of course, there was a uncomfortable pause between the introduction and when it actually started to which Joel threw in the line, “They told me it was ready, oh here it is.”

I can’t say anything about the movie but if you are reading this so far, I’m sure you are going to watch it when it premieres on Netflix. It’s worth it. A really solid first episode (Note: remember, this post was originally written in January, 2017).

After it was finished, the cast returned for a Q&A session which ended with Crow T. Robot and Tom Servo showing up to field some questions (and Tom even did some singing).

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Crow T. Robot, Jonah, Joel and Tom Servo take questions

From there, we left and headed to the afterparty, which was held about 10 minutes away at a club that was way fancier than I would ever go to. Flashing our special wristbands, we were granted admittance. While headed to the coat check, I passed Joel taking to several people. Wait…..what…..um….is that real? Looking around, the entire new cast was mulling around the club, talking to the guests. After taking a few deep breaths and checking my jacket, I found a corner of a table to calm myself. Remember, I don’t do well with crowds or social situations.

Right around this time I lost my dad, who went in search of selfies. So I started to talk with the people around my table. Several of them were fans and one person with a lanyard indicating he worked with the show. We talked and I found out he was involved with new opening sequence, which was very cool. Turns our that the MST3K people went out and hired the company that does Robot Chicken to film the opening, which was who this guy worked for. So I was taking to someone involved with Robot Chicken at a MST3K party. I asked him if they could have possibly hired any more people from things I liked involved with this series. He laughed.

Dad returned with his selfies with Joel and Hampton and pushed me to go get some pictures. Some things never change; for my whole life he’s always been pushing me to be more social, against my better judgement. Sometimes it pays off, like on this night.

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Me and Jonah Ray (after I totally embarrassed myself by thanking him for liking my picture on Instagram)
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Dad and me with Baron Vaughn

It was around then I decided the one thing I really wanted was a picture with Joel. Just a second to tell him how much the series was a part of my life. Unfortunately he was nowhere to be found. Dad and I took few more pictures (he was jealous because I got one with Jonah and he didn’t) and settled in to the party. At this time they announced that Jonah and the bots were now in the photo booth (a green screen made to look like the set) and taking pictures. The line was halfway around the room but what the heck, so we got in line.

Then I saw that Joel had reappeared in the crowd. I told Dad to stay in line and I was going on my quest. I followed the first group he was with until it disbanded and he headed to a different area. This was a much smaller group and Joel introduced one of the other people he was talking with. It was Paul (of Paul and Storm fame) who worked with Joel and others in writing some songs for the new series.

Wait.

It just came over me. I told Paul that I saw him when he and Storm played in Orlando several years ago. He said, “No one was at that show.” I replied, ” Well, I was,” to which he gave a wry smile.

As I was talking to Paul, the people talking with Joel left. It was my time; I knew it.

I stepped in and introduced myself. I knew I had a bunch to say. But he’s been hearing stories from fans all night.

“I just wanted to tell you thanks. For everything.”

He was polite and thanked me for supporting the project.

Then I asked for my picture with him. He graciously agreed.

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JH and JH (no really, his handwritten initials look JUST like mine. For reals!)

I had done it. I felt my Experience Points going up after completing my quest.

But wait, there was the bonus quest. I turned back to Paul and said “You know there will be some of my friends who will be totally freaked out I met you. Can I get a picture?”

“Well, lets freak them out!”

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Me with Paul (of Paul and Storm).

Bonus quest completed.

Wait, I remembered my dad was still in line for a picture with the bots and Jonah. As I got back to him and he was three people from the front, I then decide to ask what seemed to be an insignificant question. “Dad, which robot do you want to stand behind?” He didn’t care, but I did; I just didn’t know it until the choice was necessary to make. Almost instantly I said, “Crow. I want to be by Crow.” As it happened, when we got to the front of the line, the techs said it would be a few minutes because they needed to change memory in the camera. So we ended up talking to the puppeteer for Crow. We had a really interesting conversation about how many mutual acquaintances we had (with me living in Orlando and knowing people who do puppetry, who would have thunk). It was finally time for our picture and I don’t think I could have stopped smiling even if I wanted to.

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Crow T. Robot, me, Dad, Jonah and Tom Servo.

The party was wrapping up and we stayed around for a little while longer before heading back to our hotel trying to get over everything that had happened during the evening.

We went back in our hotel room, totally exhausted.  We had to get up the next morning and fly back home. It was one of the most amazing days I’ve ever had.

MST3K#2So yeah – “experience, not things.” It works for Sharon and me. And this was definitely an experience! We’re supposed to get a souvenir of the event in the mail one of these days, which will be a nice memento. And each of us afterparty attendees did get one really cool thing while we were there – an event poster signed by Joel Hodgson, Jonah Ray, Hampton Yount, Baron Vaughn, Grant Baciocco and Russ Walko (the latter two are the puppeteers for Crow T. Robot and Tom Servo).

What an awesome night!

Like this post? Please share it! We have plenty more just like it and would love if you decided to hang around and clicked the button on the top (if you’re on your computer) or the bottom (if you’re on your phone/tablet) of this page to follow our blog and get emailed notifications of when we post (it’s usually just two or three times a day). Or maybe you’d like to join our Facebook group, where we talk and ask questions about travel (including Disney parks), creative ways to earn frequent flyer miles and hotel points, how to save money on or for your trips, get access to travel  articles you may not see otherwise, etc. Whether you’ve read our posts before or this is the first time you’re stopping by, we’re really glad you’re here and hope you come back to visit again!

 

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#TBT: Alaska ’09 Trip Report: Part 2 of 9

Part 2 of 9: On board the ship & getting my bearings.

In August of 2009, I (Sharon) deserted my husband Joe and our puppy Dobby (at the time we had had her for about a month and a half) to go on a cruise to Alaska with the choir of which I was a member at the time (we were booked to sing on the ship). Some of my writing style has changed since 2009, some of my snark is exactly the same and heaven knows that cameras and photos have improved in the past 8 years, but here is the trip report I wrote about those adventures…the good, the bad and the ugly! To get up-to-date on the trip, click here for Part 1.

Saturday, August 15, 2009 (Going On Board)

I  woke up at 8am and went to the Starbucks in the hotel (did you hear that? A Starbucks IN THE HOTEL! Joy of joys! [Modern day note: friendly reminder that in 2009, there were not NEARLY as many Starbucks around as there are nowadays]) and got coffee. I finally got the rest of my stuff packed up, put my cruise information on my suitcases and went downstairs to meet everyone.

This was my first trip with this choir and the first time I was meeting the vast majority of the 50-something people with whom I was traveling. We were told to wear specifically-designed shirts for identification though, so it was easy to pick other choir members in a crowd – all of whom were British, save for 3 of us from Orlando and 2 from Tampa. So every time I bumped into one and said hi, I was greeted with, “Oh, you’re one of the alaskabusAmericans!” It was kinda fun (grin). There was one woman who said it before I even said anything – I was like, “Does it show?” But it was only because she knew everyone else on the trip and I was “new”.

So we all loaded onto the bus and away we went. It was a quick trip (15 minutes, tops) and when we arrived we had to wait on line for Immigration since we would be traveling from Canada to the US. The wait for that was pretty long – lots of people going on cruises! But eventually we got through and were allowed to board the ship.

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The Lido Buffet

We were told that our cabins were not quite ready so we were invited to have lunch at the Lido Restaurant. It was a buffet, with salads, sandwiches, roast beef and rotisserie chicken. I got a salad and some chicken, along with an herbal green tea that was much better than I anticipated. I ate with a handful of British choir people – as always, I’m horrible with names but they were all very nice.

Once they announced that our cabins were ready, I found mine (6027) and since my luggage wasn’t delivered yet, I started wandering the ship to sign up for stuff and get a general lay of the land. I signed up for a few Spa treatments, checked out some of the bars, etc.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOur emergency drill was scheduled for 4:15pm. After I put on my lovely orange flotation device (it was stored on the top shelf of my closet…what a trip it was to try to reach…how I wished I had a roomie who could have gotten it for me! I miss you, Joe! LOL!), the alarms went off and I went to Deck 3, as instructed.

Once we were done with the emergency drill, I went back to my cabin, to see that my luggage had been delivered so I spent some time unpacking, organizing, etc. I had no idea I had brought SIX pairs of shoes (not including slippers or the shoes I was wearing. Just call me Imelda Marcos, I guess!).

We left port not long after that, so I went up to Deck 9 to hang out with everyone while we began our trip in earnest. I bumped into Caroline and Sue again (we’ve bumped into each other no less than 5 times so far – I’m not sure who is stalking who, LOL!), plus several other Sing Live Brits (Colin, Ian, Ann, Jean, Pauline, Sue, Jane, etc.) and Celeste and Esther from Tampa (BTW, we discovered that us 5 Americans have our own table…we figure it’s so we can understand each other, what with the language barrier and all, LOL!).

We were scheduled to queue up for dinner at 7:45pm so I left around 7ish to (A) find the Internet Cafe for further reference (they had a special where you got an extra 20 minutes if you signed up before 10pm) and (B) change my clothes and get ready for dinner.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERADinner was on the 3rd floor, in the Vista Dining Room and, as I said, us 5 Americans had our own table (#63). There were several choices of salads, soups, appetizers and main courses, with wine by the bottle or the glass. The food was really, really good. I got the mussels in a wine sauce for an appetizer, almond encrusted salmon (with shaved zucchini and mashed potatoes) and coffee and a baked Alaska for dessert (covered in raspberry sauce. I never saw a baked Alaska that wasn’t flambe, but this one wasn’t. A “ship thing,” I’m sure. It was still good, though).

After dinner was done I went up to the Internet Cafe to sign up for my plan and get some blogging done so I could go to bed. And so it is.

The Problem With Hotel Thermostats (And What To Do About Them)

I know I’m not the only one to ask if it feels warm in a hotel room after checking in.

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Here is a picture of me thinking I could change the temperature in the room.

You arrive after a day of traveling and get to your room. After you put your bags down, you notice there’s a lack of air circulating in the room. First thought, find the thermostat. Turns out that pressing that temperature down arrow might not help your situation any.  Hotels are coming up with smarter and smarter ways to save on energy bills by putting you in less, or sometimes without any, control of the temperature of your room.

I remember our first encounter with an energy efficient room was on a trip to London. There was a slot near the door into which you had to insert your room key card so that the lights, television and air conditioner would turn on. This was fine if you were staying in the room but as soon as you left, everything went off. Our first solution, since we were a couple and had 2 room keys, was to leave one of our keys in the slot. Not the best solution but at least our room was cool when we returned. Then we sought other solutions. Were there other cards in our wallet that would work? Credit Card?  Those worked but we were not leaving one of those  in there while not in the room. An AAA card worked but we might need that for the places that gave discounts. How about our library card? Bingo!  It worked to keep on the lights and we didn’t need it during the day.We left a nice tip each day, kindly asking housekeeping not to remove the key from the slot after cleaning the room. Eventually we just kept a random hotel card key in our wallet at all times for rooms with such a system.

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Insert room key in order to get electricity and A/C

This experience was almost a decade ago and technology has improved a great deal since then. Hotels are now using motion detectors, infrared sensors, sound detectors and door monitors to tell if you are in the room and then change the temperature settings accordingly. The issues with the lack of control given to guests because of the new “smart” room technology seem to be increasing because I’ve read 4 articles on the subject recently.

I first remember reading an article on the subject back in 2010 showing you  how to “hack” your thermostat. I tried using tips from this post but was never in a room with the same type of thermostat.  More recently I’ve seen that mainstream publications like The Wall Street Journal  and the Los Angeles Times have written articles on the subject. The latter even gave some ways to trick the most complicated of sensor arrays.

Alas, those systems that rely only on motion sensors are not always guest-friendly. Unless they’re sleepwalking, guests who are abed aren’t moving in a way that a motion sensor can detect.

The solution for immediate relief is to buy a Mylar balloon (sturdier than a regular balloon) that trails strings or ribbons and let it move around your room, triggering the motion sensor.

Now I do admit, the idea of walking into every stay at a hotel carrying a Mylar balloon and then having it fly around my room all night are two of the most absurd images I can think of.  However, I do know one or two friends (and they know who they are) who, I have no doubt, might try this idea after reading this post.

The final thought on this issue is if hotels think we don’t care that the temperature in the room is out of our control, they will keep setting it to whatever they want. The solution is to complain to the hotel. Do so while you are there and the hotel may adjust the room temperature, thereby making  your stay more comfortable. If no relief is given, then a mention of this fact in an online review or survey will show them this is an issue that guests care about and can no longer be ignored.

Like this post? Please share it! We have plenty more just like it and would love if you decided to hang around and clicked the button on the top (if you’re on your computer) or the bottom (if you’re on your phone/tablet) of this page to follow our blog and get emailed notifications of when we post (it’s usually just once or twice a day). Or maybe you’d like to join our Facebook group, where we talk and ask questions about travel (including Disney parks), creative ways to earn frequent flyer miles and hotel points, how to save money on or for your trips, get access to travel  articles you may not see otherwise, etc. Whether you’ve read our posts before or this is the first time you’re stopping by, we’re really glad you’re here and hope you come back to visit again!

 

My Rookie Mistake: The Tale of Two Hotel Stays in Fort Lauderdale

I made one of the most rookie mistakes on a recent hotel stay and I ended up paying for it, with cash. We needed a one night stay in Fort Lauderdale for when we were going to see a production of The Hunchback of Notre Dame by the Slow Burn Theater Co.  I wasn’t familiar with the area so I looked at Hotel Hustle to see if any good values were available to book a room with my hotel points. As it turned out, one of the best values for hotel point redemptions listed was at the Hilton Fort Lauderdale Beach Resort. This hotel is a category 8 resort (on a scale of 1-10) and rooms go for between 40,000 and 70,000 points a night. The day we wanted to stay, the rooms were listing for 50,000 points a night. That seemed steep but you also have to consider that a paid stay at this hotel was going for over $400 on that Friday night. Since most of the websites peg Hilton points to be worth 0.4 to 0.6 cents, getting 0.8 cents a point appeared to be a great deal.

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Photo from the Hilton Fort Lauderdale Beach Resort website

I do admit the location looked wonderful. It was right on the beach and wasn’t too far from where we needed to be. I had some Hilton points on Sharon’s account from a previous stay so I went and booked the room.

I started to have some concerns when I looked a bit further at the reservation details. We would be driving there for the night and the only parking available is by valet and would cost $39. So my free room would now be $39 + 50,000 points. Still not bad. This “resort” also adds a fee of $25 to the room for each night of your stay. For this fee you received:

  • WiFi access *unlimited devices
  • 2 welcome drinks
  • 2 Venti Starbucks Coffee daily
  • 2 daily Zephyrhills 16.9oz water
  • 2 beach chairs daily
  • kids activities
  • 20% spa discount
  • 10% gift shop discount
  • local and toll-free calls

I wrote to the hotel asking them to allow us to use my Hilton Diamond status for the reservation. I hoped they might waive the resort fee or at least this would have earned us more points back on the costs we were incurring and possibly a better room. We originally had to book it under Sharon’s account because she was the one with the points (and Hilton does not allow family pooling like SPG does). This was the response I got from the hotel:

Unfortunately we are not able to switch the status on a points reservation. The system does not allow us to do so as the reservation with points is the only one attachable. I apologize but on the hotel’s end it just not possible.

We look forward to your stay,

Now my “free” room ended up costing me $64.80 (don’t forget tax) plus 50,000 points. Most of the benefits of the resort fee were of no use since we were only staying overnight and were leaving early the next morning. We did stop at the hotel bar for our 2 welcome drinks, which were mediocre at best. The Starbucks coffee was from the coffee bar in the gift shop which “proudly” served Starbucks. That’s not a Venti Starbucks in my book so we stopped at a real Starbucks for our lattes. We also don’t drink Zephyrhills water because we think it tastes nasty. Finally, why the value of free local and toll-free calls is considered a perk anymore is beyond me. Like who does not have a cell phone?

We thoroughly enjoyed the show that night and saw that the company was going to be doing a production of another of our favorite shows, Titanic: The Musical. When we got home we immediately purchased tickets and started planning our next weekend trip.

So what did I learn from our first stay and what did I change the next time?  While the booking with Hilton points seemed to be a great value, I never would have paid $400 to stay at that hotel. Using that price was inflating the value I was getting for those points. I also did not take into consideration the additional fees associated at staying at this hotel. During our stay we did learn the locations of the places we needed to go in Ft. Lauderdale. This made it much easier to research hotels for our next trip.

I used my go-to hotel site, Tripadvisor, to look for hotels in the area. There was a good rate at the Sheraton Suites Cypress Creek of $158 after tax. That was much more in line with what we’d be willing to pay for this type of trip.

The hotel appeared to be an 1980’s era Embassy Suites that was rebranded to a Sheraton. The decor was a bit dated but still fitting in the Floridian style. The location, while being convenient to Interstate 95, was in the middle of a business park and next to the Tri-Rail railroad track. Not nearly as nice as the beachfront we were staying the last time, but fine for our needs.

We were still about the same distance away from the theater, the reason we went to Fort Lauderdale. We had a 2-room suite with a full living room and bedroom which was quiet and comfortable. A perfectly acceptable stay for us. Did I mention they also left a free bottle of Dasani water in the room for us without charging a resort fee, and parking was free?

For the miles and points geek, here’s where it gets interesting. Here’s a list of the Starpoints I earned for the stay:

  • 286 Base points (2 points per dollar)
  • 143 points (50% Gold SPG bonus)
  • 250 points (Gold SPG amenity welcome gift)
  • 286 points (Current SPG promotion)
  • 286 points (by using SPG Amex to pay for stay)
  • 3000 points (Suite promotion)

I love that last one. Starwood was offering 3000 bonus points for booking a suite. Since all rooms at this hotel are suites, all of the rooms were all eligible for the promotion. In all I earned 4251 Starpoints for my stay. Since Starpoints are regularly valued at 2.2 cents a piece, I received almost $93 worth of points back on my $158 bill (which could bring my cost down to $65 if you take those things into account)

So we have 2 hotel stays. One where I had to pay $65 in fees plus 50,000 Hilton points and another where I paid $158 but got back 4,251 Starpoints. For what we were going to Fort Lauderdale for, I’d much rather spend money and get back points than spend points and still have to spend money.

Like this post? Please share it! We have plenty more just like it and would love if you decided to hang around and clicked the button on the top (if you’re on your computer) or the bottom (if you’re on your phone/tablet) of this page to follow our blog and get emailed notifications of when we post (it’s usually just two or three times a day). Or maybe you’d like to join our Facebook group, where we talk and ask questions about travel (including Disney parks), creative ways to earn frequent flyer miles and hotel points, how to save money on or for your trips, get access to travel  articles you may not see otherwise, etc. Whether you’ve read our posts before or this is the first time you’re stopping by, we’re really glad you’re here and hope you come back to visit again!

This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary

 

Why I have a Disney Rewards Visa Card But Hardly Ever Use It

Sharon and I have been Disney fans for most of our lives. That being said, it should be no surprise that we each have the Disney Rewards Visa credit card offered by Chase.

Back when it was introduced, you can bet I had my application in even before the card was released. In fact, my card still says Cardmember since DAY 1.  It’s not the first Disney card that I’ve had in my life. As you see, I’ve had several.

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I’m quite proud of my Disney Credit Card selection – even the first one that was only good to use at The Disney Store.

I still have my account open and use it sporadically, just to make sure that Chase doesn’t close my account for inactivity. Why keep a card that you don’t use? There are several reasons:

  1. The card has valuable benefits for someone who visits Disney Theme Parks
  2. The card has no annual fee
  3. I’ve had the card for a long time so it helps my credit score
  4. I still like having a Disney card

Chase lists these benefits on their website:

  • $50 Disney Gift Card after first purchase if you have not received the bonus in the last 24 months
  • 1% in reward dollars on everyday purchases
  • 10% savings on shopping of purchases of $50 or more at Disney Store or DisneyStore.com
  • 10% off select merchandise purchases of $50 or more at select locations at Walt Disney World and Disneyland
  • Disney Character Experiences and Star Wars Character Experiences at our private Cardmember locations at the Disneyland and Walt Disney World Resorts. You’ll receive downloads of your photos to mark your visit
  • 10% off select dining locations most days at Disneyland and Walt Disney World
  • 15% off the non-discounted price of select guided tours at Disneyland and Walt Disney World Resorts
  • 0% interest for the first 6 months following the purchase of select Disney vacation packages or Disney Vacation Club real estate interest

Let’s look at these benefits, one by one, to figure out if they’re good or not.

The $50 gift card for a no annual fee card with no spending requirement isn’t bad.

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Image from Doctor of Credit

Signing up for a card for $50 is better than some offers I’ve seen like this one for a 2 liter soda for applying for a Walmart card (Sharon saw this picture and said she got a 2 liter bottle of Coke for filling out an application for a Discover card in the mid-1980s).  Chase does offer me a chance to refer my friends for this card since I have it myself. You can apply by clicking this link. The referral offer is slightly different and better in my opinion, if you can make the spending requirement. You will get a $200 statement credit when you spend $500 on the card within 3 months of opening the account. This is the same sign up bonus that Chase offers for the Disney Premier Credit Card but that card has a $49 a year fee. (Full Disclosure – if you use my referral and are approved, I do get a $100 credit.)

The 1% in reward dollars on purchases is really poor. If you had a different card from Chase, like the Chase Freedom Unlimited card, you would earn 1.5% cash back on all purchases, so earning only 1% back is disappointing in comparison. I look back at the time when I used a $200 credit I earned by using this card for a Disney Cruise. That means I put $20,000 of charges on this card over the period of several years. That spending could have been placed on a card which would have earned me so much more if I knew better back then. Don’t make the same mistake I did.

10% savings on Disney purchases might be of a great value to you but we don’t buy many things at Disney anymore. If we do, it’s rarely over $50. YMMV.

Disney and Star Wars Character Experiences. This is a perk that can save you a  bunch of time. When we went, the line for the Star Wars Experience was around 45 minutes. By showing my Disney Visa, we were escorted to a special line and waited 5 minutes before our audience with Darth Vader. I’m keeping the card for this benefit alone.

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Darth Vader was not happy with Sharon’s photobomb

The 10% off dining overlaps with a discount that I get from my Disney Vacation Club membership and from being an Annual Passholder so I don’t get any additional value from it.

We’ve done all the Disney tours we’ve wanted to see so the 15% off the non-discounted price of tours isn’t helpful to us.

I have used the 0% interest when paying for a cruise one time since I’ve had the card.

I do value some of the perks the card offers and I end up keeping it because it has no annual fee. You see, keeping cards that cost you nothing can be a good thing. This is because one of the things that goes into determining your credit score is your average account age. Holding a card for a long time increases the average age of your accounts (and when getting started in this hobby, you can open several cards quickly. If you have a thin credit history, that average account age can drop fast). I’ve had this card since 2003 and have no intention of getting rid of it.

Finally, I really do like having a Disney Credit Card. It’s something I think I’ve had as long as I’ve had credit. Now, I’m not totally thrilled of the card design I currently have (Sharon and I both have cards on the account and I picked the design with her in mind – she was a huge Tinker Bell fan at the time). I don’t use it much so it’s fine. I have a Tinker Bell card. I’m totally OK with that.

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When you open a bar tab with a Tinker Bell card, they tend to remember you.

I mentioned the Disney Premier Card earlier and the $200 bonus offered for signing up. It’s worth mentioning since they also keep pushing for me to upgrade. It has the same benefits as the regular card but it also carries a $49 a year fee. The main advantage they tout for it is you can earn 2% back on purchases at gas stations, grocery stores, restaurants and most Disney locations. You still earn 1% back at all other locations. Sounds appealing right? Well, it’s not really all that great when you think about it. I get 3x points for all our dining purchases with our Chase Sapphire Reserve card, including those at Disney locations (like the 195 points we got for our Nautilus drink and snacks at Trader Sam’s at the Polynesian Resort).

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I place a higher value on Chase Ultimate Rewards points than I do for Disney Rewards because I can change Ultimate Rewards points into hotel points or airline miles. With Disney Rewards I am only able to use them to get a Disney gift card. For our grocery store purchases we earn 4.5x back and for gas stations I get 3x from American Express. As far as getting discounts at Disney locations, I have most of that spending covered, too. I just got back 2x Citi Thank You points for the purchase of our annual passes. For us, nothing about the Disney Premier card beats other cards we already have. Even if you didn’t have a card which is better for everything, you could still get a Citi Double Cash card with no annual fee and earn 2% cash back on every purchase and use that money to pay for your Disney vacation. Now I’m not recommending you go out and sign up for a bunch of cards right away. Remember, you need to have goals and signing up for the right cards is part of that strategy.

So for me, I’m going to keep my no annual fee Disney card with Tinker Bell on it. If you’re a big Disney fan, it’s a worthwhile thing to think about…it’s just not a great card to put your spending on. I’ve introduced you to some of them in this article and we’ll get more into that in a future post.

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