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When Disney World’s Internet isn’t Magical, What’s a Digital Nomad to Do?

I’ll preface this with the disclaimer that I’m not your “normal” traveler. But that said, more and more people are becoming like me. If I’m not on site for a client, I can work wherever my laptop is and my iPhone gets reception. This has allowed me to travel places I’d never have seen otherwise thanks to cheap award redemptions by traveling non-peak times.

When You Can Work Anywhere, Why Not The Happiest Place on Earth?

A benefit of working remotely and traveling on points and miles is that if I want to go to the same place a few times a year, I can, guilt free. I don’t have to rationalize over spending cash to go to a certain destination, time and again. One of those places for me is Orlando, FL.

Yes, I’m one of THOSE “childless millennials” that are RUINING Disney World. I don’t gamble, play video games, collect comic books or have hobbies that cost a lot of money. Gone are the days of my youth when I’d eat out every lunch and run up $100 bar tabs over a weekend’s time. I use my fun money on Disney. I’ve even gone to participate in fundraisers like the Parkeology Challenge!

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not claiming this is all free. However, I’m able to clash the cost of cash out of pocket by 60-70% just by maximizing how I’m earning and redeeming points and miles and using the flexibility of a remote work schedule to my advantage. How? Well, everyone’s travel is different, but one easy way is by investing in your money smartly. The first? Becoming an Annual Passholder.

Walt Disney World Annual Pass

Up until the recent increase in annual fee (from $994 to $1,219), as long as I stepped foot 9 days a year in a WDW park (Magic Kingdom, Hollywood Studios, Epcot or Animal Kingdom) I’d come out ahead. Now it’s 10 days year, post increase (renewals were offered a discount of 10%).

How? Why? Take into consideration this: Free parking at the parks (value of $25/day PER park), a discount (10%) on almost all retail and food (there are exceptions), exclusive events, expedited entrance lanes…and more.

There’s also no pressure to get to every park, each day of my visit at rope drop. There have been days that I haven’t gone to a park until 7pm.

If I need to get work done in the middle of the day, I do and I no longer stress out, worrying that I’m not getting all the value from my expense like I used to when I’d only buy tickets when I knew I was going for sure.

Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge

So why wouldn’t I hop on a last minute award booking to participate in one of those exclusive events? Like the sneak peek of the new Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge at Disney’s Hollywood Studios.

By booking separate tickets on different carriers and flying on a F-M, rather than F-Su or Sa-M I was able to make this trip happen for 8,000 AAdvantage miles (upgraded to First Class thanks to my Executive Platinum status) + $135 for a one way ticket on United (earning those PQDs I’m trying to catch up on and also upgraded to First Class outside traditional windows – even as only Premier Gold!).

Ok, so hotel award redemptions were steep, considering it is still peak season (which I normally avoid) and it was last minute. But at $103/night at All Stars Movies, a WDW Value Resort, by taking advantage of all Disney ground transportation I was coming in at just under $500 (after taxes/fees). And, that’s only because the cash ticket on United was a better use of cash than miles.

In order to make this trip work within the budget I set for myself, staying on property was a must. Since I didn’t want to use points to stay off site and incur the cost of ride share or a rental car. The plan was perfect! Until it wasn’t…

When the Fairytale Ended and the Nightmare Began

I do enjoy staying at a WDW resort property, but after this last experience realize it’s not something I can do if I need to actually get work done. Why? It’s because of the internet – plain and simple. And, I get it. Like I said, I’m not a “normal” traveler. People don’t go to Disney World with the intention of doing work. But, in an always on world, more and more might have to.

On my last day of this trip I needed to get a ton of work done before I flew out the next morning. I’d had my fun – did all the things I wanted to do and spent all the money I cared to spend. The only problem? WiFi with speeds of less than 1 mb/s in my room and constant network connectivity issues. Relying on my phone as a backup hotspot was spotty at best due to poor signal too (and the number of devices on the limited network).

Unfortunately it was a Sunday, because if it had been a weekday, I wouldn’t have thought twice about heading on over to ScribbleSpace, the closest coworking space to Disney World!

Coworking to the Rescue

I first visited ScribbleSpace four years ago before there was such a coworking boom in Orlando. While ScribbleSpace is still the closest to Disney, a few other spaces have opened by both local operators, national brands like Novel Coworking, VentureX and even Office Depot’s new Workonomy!

In fact, most of my trips usually include a day or two at ScribbleSpace. Just in this specific case, extenuating circumstances, meant I didn’t have a chance to work around my own schedule, but more so what was available.

What I love about ScribbleSpace, besides being so close, is the creative energy of the workspace and the community. Members are friendly, the amenities are well maintained and the decor has some subtle Disney inspiration.

In fact, their owner shared with me that recently they had a member who joined while he and his family RV’d through the country. On this leg, they were staying at Disney’s Fort Wilderness for around a month. Sure, even Amazon delivers to Disney World, so living in an RV, or maybe a tiny house at Disney (what, a boy can dream,  can’t he?) seemed easy, except for when he needed to get work done and some fast WiFi. That’s what lead him to coworking and ScribbleSpace!

Is Having Functional Internet Speed a Digital Nomad or Childless Millennial First World Problem?

It’s not Disney’s responsibility to offer BLAZING face WiFi, since people are mostly coming here for vacation. But, even attempting to make a dining reservation on their own site via my laptop browser took what felt like a lifetime. It was so slow that even the credit card processing function timed out and I had to get a double charge reversed.

Sure I’d love to have better internet to get my work done, but at the very least, perhaps their WiFi needs some extra magic as they make apps and mobile phones more and more of a requirement for visiting? Or what about all those families sure to be streaming Disney+ on their tablets? And that’s an argument any Disney loving parent, digital nomad or childless millennial can agree on.

The post When Disney World’s Internet isn’t Magical, What’s a Digital Nomad to Do? was first published on Coworkaholic.

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