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The Magic, The Memories, and Merch! November 2014 Photo Report of the Disney Outlet Store

by on November 28, 2014

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MMM positiveBlack Friday. One of the biggest shopping days in the ‘Murica calendar. There couldn’t be a a more appropriate day of the year for a photo report of the Disney Outlet Stores (other than April Fool’s Day of course.) I will be said to see November go though, because as a theme park fan this was a HUGE month. We said hello to the much needed parking garage at Downtown Disney, and goodbye to my beloved NASCAR Sports Grille at Universal CityWalk. Both Universal and Disney opened new eateries: the unbelievably great Cowfish at CityWalk, and the just plain unbelievable (as in not believable) food truck park at Downtown Disney. The Magic Kingdom unveiled the awesome new queue for Peter Pan’s Flight, and the entire WDW resort area is starting to look like Christmas with the Wilderness Lodge getting its King Kong-sized tree and the Grand Floridian & Contemporary resorts putting up their must-see gingerbread houses. This may go down in the history books as the greatest month of all time, at least until next month.

Enough jibber jabber! Who is ready to hit the Outlets? Remember that clicking on any picture will open a full size version of it (don’t say we didn’t warn you).

We’re going to start off with my of my all-time favorite items I have ever seen at the Outlets: a Luigi’s Flying Tires toy! The huge rumor over in California is that the Luigi’s Flying Tires attraction is going down in January for “refurbishment”… and not coming back. Even mainstream film and pop culture sites have picked up on the story. Seeing this toy at the Outlets would be like stumbling upon a Habit Heroes comic book, or a pin for Stitch’s Supersonic Celebration. Originally $9.95, this bad boy is now just $4.95, but its value to me is priceless.

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Staying true to the ride itself, this toy also doesn’t work.

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SATURDAY SIX THANKSGIVING SPECIAL: Six Reasons for Theme Park Fans to Give Thanks in 2014

by on November 27, 2014

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This week’s SATURDAY SIX takes a look at Six Reasons for Theme Park Fans to Give Thanks. 2014 was a great year to be a theme park fan, and for this Thanksgiving we are going to take a quick break from all the turkey, football games, and Black Friday planning, to count our blessings and thank the parks and resorts we love so much. So, for one day only, I ask that Disney and Universal fans put aside their differences and spend a moment appreciating all the wonderful things that we can share together, starting with….

# 6 – Disney and Universal Merchandise is Better than Ever

It wasn’t long ago, that the only merchandise people were buying at Universal were Thing 1 and Thing 2 shirts. Over at Disney, almost every single store, whether in the parks, hotels, or Downtown Disney, was selling the same generic”Disney Parks”stuff. A seismic shift started to occur in 2010, when the Wizarding World of Harry Potter opened, and blew the doors off everyone’s projections in the area of merchandise and Butterbeer. Guests were now walking out of Universal with house robes, wands and chocolate frogs in hand. This success was then repeated throughout both of their theme parks, with unique and exclusive items found everywhere you looked, from the EVAC action figure at Transformers gift shop, to the faux girl scout cookies in Despicable Me’s Super Silly Store, to my personal favorite – The Film Vault –  a whole new store focusing on retro merchandise.

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Jungle Cruise merchandise found at the Marketplace Co-op in Downtown Disney. (photo by Brandon Glover)

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Daisy Lauren’s Best Week Ever: November 27, 2014

by on November 27, 2014 2 Comments

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Hi, Everyone! Welcome to the Best Week Ever here at Walt Disney World! This week we’re taking a look at resort decorations at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge and Disney’s Wilderness Lodge, stopping by the Magic Kingdom to check out the new Peter Pan’s Flight queue, and wrapping up with a visit to Downtown Disney and Animal Kingdom. I have so much to share, so let’s get started! :)

And what better way to start than with the stunning lobby of the Animal Kingdom Lodge? After all these years I’m still amazed walking in here. I think it might be my favorite hotel (and not just because Jiko is hiding inside). The tree towering inside looks perfect and coordinates with all the garland strung around the lobby. While there isn’t much else at the resort in the way of Christmas decorations, what more could you ask for? Be sure to click below to see what else is new this week.

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Choosing the Right WDW Discount

by on November 26, 2014 20 Comments

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As a frequent Walt Disney World traveler, and also not a Florida resident, I’m sufficiently addicted to Disney vacation planning books, podcasts, blogs, discussion groups, and other research areas that can help me sustain my pixie dust addiction without breaking the bank or going in debt. During my years of research, I’ve heard lots of claims of which Disney discount is “best”, and while I trust many of the sources I frequently research, I’ve learned that not all discounts pack the same punch. Depending on your party size, your frequency of visiting the parks, and your touring style, some discounts are better than others. In this article, I’ll review the most common (and often reoccurring) discounts available and analyze how those discounts can apply differently to different Disney vacationers.goofy discount

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Disney and Turner Classic Movies to Pair Up

by on November 26, 2014 3 Comments

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Adco-superJumboWe all know that there are major changes on the horizon for Disney’s Hollywood Studios and now another interesting development has come to light – cable channel, Turner Classic Movies (TCM) will be the official sponsor for The Great Movie Ride.

This paring will marry the two in perfect harmony, with TCM receiving credit as the sponsor on all signage and marketing for the attraction. In the queue, guests will enjoy new digital movie posters and will be able to view a new pre-ride video featuring Robert Osborne, the host of many Turner Classic Movies programs, who will provide insights from movies guests will experience in the attraction. In addition, an updated finale will feature a new movie montage of classic movie moments. Finally, when guests exit the attraction, they’ll have the opportunity to take photos with a classic movie theme.

In addition, as part of this deal, Disney will allow TCM to play classic movies and TV programs in special reoccurring programming blocks that will happen approximately four to five times a year. These blocks will be called “Treasures from the Disney Vault.” (And I need to make sure that I have TCM on my satellite now…)  This programming will begin at 8:00 p.m. EST December 21 through 5:15 a.m. EST on December 22.

According to the initial report which was released late last night, TCM executives say the agreement began with an administrative assistant, Amanda Tymeson, who returned from a visit to Disney World and suggested “that TCM and Disney would be great partners” in revamping the Great Movie Ride.

These changes for The Great Movie Ride will take place in Spring 2015. The Great Movie Ride was an initial 1989 opening day attraction for Disney’s Hollywood Studios.

Review of a Saratoga Springs Two Bedroom DVC Villa

by on November 26, 2014 8 Comments

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While Disney World offers a vast variety of different resorts to choose from for guests staying on property, the Disney Vacation Club (DVC) Villas offer even more options and experiences, particularly when it comes to room sizes! During my last few trips to Disney World, I had the opportunity to enjoy stays at several different DVC Villas; but today, I’m zeroing in on Disney’s Saratoga Springs Resort and Spa in this review of a Saratoga Springs Two Bedroom DVC Villa.

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Saratoga Springs Congress Park

First of all, the Disney Vacation Club is Disney’s own timeshare program where members purchase and use points for their vacation experiences. It can be difficult to understand, but Disney Vacation Club (DVC) 101: What is DVC? can help fill in the gaps. If you are not a Disney Vacation Club Member, the good news is that you can still stay at a DVC Resort! You can do so by booking through Disney, just as you would any other resort; however, other guests like to rent points or even buy points from other members, but you definitely want to make sure that the seller is legitimate and reliable.

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Disneyland Resort Crowd Report – November 16 to 22, 2014

by on November 25, 2014

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Disneyland crowd levels were up last week but not significantly so, except for Saturday. We tended to miss low with our predictions all week but we still managed to get within one index level of what we observed most days.

Let’s look at how the crowd levels stacked up each day last week on the TouringPlans.com Disneyland Resort Crowd Report:

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Disney World Crowd Report – November 16 to 22, 2014

by on November 25, 2014 2 Comments

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After a surprise crowd level at Magic Kingdom on Saturday, November 15, we were very curious to see how crowds would pan out last week. Our predictions did well all week until, for the second week in a row, a surprisingly large crowd level ’7′ at Magic Kingdom on Saturday. Disney Hollywood Studios showed some higher than normal crowd levels as well but in general, the crowd levels have been within normal limits of what we’ve seen in past years, with the exception of Saturdays at Magic Kingdom. In fact, Epcot’s crowd levels have been near replicas of previous years as the success of last week’s predictions show. This indicates we are seeing a change in crowd pattern rather than a change in overall crowd level (although there is some evidence that crowd levels are up as well). Regardless, in the coming days you may see some crowd levels change in December, especially on Saturdays at Magic Kingdom.

Let’s look at how the crowd levels stacked up each day last week on the Disney World Crowd Report:

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Universal Orlando Resort Crowd Report – November 16 to 22, 2014

by on November 25, 2014 1 Comment

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To say last week was a slow one at Universal Orlando Resort is an understatement. Wait times at both parks stayed in the lowest levels of the year all week, exactly as we predicted. Even the weekend crowds could not muster a crowd level above ’2′ on our scale.

Let’s look at how the crowd levels stacked up each day last week on the TouringPlans.com Universal Orlando Resort Crowd Report:

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Embracing the Crowds as a Solo Traveler

by on November 25, 2014 11 Comments

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A pretty normal crowd to open the Magic Kingdom

Many times the purpose of a solo trip is to “get away” from things. Get away from work. Get away from family or friends. Get away from crowds. Get away from stress. Get away from reality.

Walt Disney World provides a great release for solo travelers, which can qualify for all of those “get away” moments…except the crowds. It has come to my realization that there are fewer and fewer “low crowd” times at Walt Disney World these days. I was there on a solo trip in mid-October, and it still felt like there were tons of people in the park. Even if attractions promoted 20 minute wait times, there were still people in the attraction, and I still had to wait in a crowd.

So how do solo travelers enjoy the crowds, no matter what the time of year? Well, maybe not enjoy, but tolerate or embrace the crowds? Here are some tips.

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