Your subscriptions support new blog articles and research. Please consider

subscribing.

today.


In Case You Missed It: Disney News and Rumors – Week of April 25, 2014

by on April 24, 2014

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Google Plus
  • Pinterest
In Case You Missed It!

In Case You Missed It!

Who’s been busy celebrating? The anniversary of the 1964 World’s Fair AND Disney’s Animal Kingdom were this week. Did anybody get any cake? I seemed to have missed out.

Anywho…here’s all the fun spectacular stuff you may have missed out on seeing this week!

In Case You Missed It – Disney News and Rumors

Are you a fan of Raglan Road at Downtown Disney? It was named The Best Restaurant by Orlando Magazine. A big congrats to them! To see the other Walt Disney World restaurants that took home awards, make sure to check out this article.

James Cameron had a Reddit AMA (Ask Me Anything) last week and in it, he briefly discussed Avatarland. Here’s his quote about the land of Pandora, currently being built at Disney’s Animal Kingdom: Read the rest of this entry »

Disney’s Hollywood Studios To Celebrate 25th Anniversary on May 1

by on April 24, 2014 1 Comment

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Google Plus
  • Pinterest
©Disney

©Disney

Did you know that on May 1, Disney’s Hollywood Studios will celebrate its 25th anniversary? (Of course, back when the park opened in 1989, it was known as Disney-MGM Studios.) To celebrate this monumental achievement, the park will be hosting a party. The day’s events will include fun and excitement for all ages!

According to the Disney Parks Blog, here’s what you can expect to see, for those of you lucky enough to be in the park on this joyful occasion:

  • At 10:00 a.m.: guests will be invited to join Disney’s Hollywood Studios Vice President, Dan Cockerell, for a short re-dedication ceremony.
  • At 7:00 p.m.: the park will hold the “Stars of the Studios” motorcade down Hollywood Boulevard, featuring many favorite animated Disney stars.
  • Following the parade, The Sorcerer’s Hat Stage will feature a dance party, where guests are invited to party the night away.
  • At 9:30 p.m.: the skies will light up in front of the Sorcerer’s Hat with a spectacular fireworks extravaganza. The show will pay tribute to 25 years of show business stories, that have been told throughout the park.
  • Commemorative merchandise will be for sale, featuring the 25th anniversary logo. Merchandise will include shirts, pins, key chains, bags, and more.
  • A 25th anniversary cupcake will be for sale, a chocolate Nutella cupcake, which can be found at many counter service dining establishments.

I’ll make sure to update this post with any additional information that gets released about this memorable celebration.

Happy early anniversary Disney’s Hollywood Studios!

Disney Cruise Line Itinerary Change

by on April 24, 2014

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Google Plus
  • Pinterest

A few weeks ago, Disney Cruise Line announced its itinerary offerings for most of 2015 and they’ve already started to tinker with their schedule.

166

Thanks to heads up from Scott Sanders of the Disney Cruise Line Blog and a note from a travel agent friend, we’re confirming that the 11-night Norway/Iceland Magic sailing departing from Copenhagen will now include a day-10 stop at Kirkwall, Scotland rather than at the previously announced Torshavn, Faroe Islands. The exact language provided to travel agents states:

In order to provide [your clients] with a premier family experience, we have modified our 11-night Copenhagen to England repositioning cruise to include a call on Kirkwall, Scotland, instead of the call on Torshavn, Faroe Islands. We’re excited to provide our Guests with this revised sailing itinerary that offers the opportunity to visit both of the countries that inspired the recent blockbuster hit, Frozen from Disney Animation Studios and Brave from Pixar Animation Studios. Your assistance in passing this information along to your client is appreciated. Kirkwall, located off the Northern coast of Scotland in the Orkney Islands, offers many fascinating historic attractions, adventure tours, and bountiful wildlife.

As a guest who is booked on this voyage, I have to say that I’m happy about the change. I don’t have anything particularly negative to say about the Faroe Islands, but in doing some preliminary research it did seem to have quite a bit of activity/atmosphere redundancy with many of the other ports on this trip. Scotland should provide more variety and, as the note mentioned, it has the added cachet for kids of being the site of another recent Disney film. (I mean, I seriously LOVE Frozen, but at this point haggis would be a welcome palate cleanser for all that icy reindeer.) Read the rest of this entry »

Planning for My First Disney Cruise

by on April 24, 2014 12 Comments

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Google Plus
  • Pinterest
Disney Dream Lobby

Disney Dream Lobby
Photo courtesy of Scott Sanders

I have never been on a cruise. I’m not into casinos, bingo, cheesy musicals, hypnotists, art auctions, or shopping in third-world tourist traps. Thus most cruise ships and itineraries don’t catch my fancy. Disney Cruise Line seemed different, and doing the programming to enliven our Disney Cruise Line product heightened my interest in sailing with Mickey.

My wife and I discussed taking a DCL cruise once our child was old enough to enjoy the kids’ activities, and that time has come. Conveniently enough, we’ll be sailing for TouringPlans.com on a 4-Night Bahamanian Cruise on the Disney Dream in October 2014, when my son will be about 3½ years old. Our family of three will fit fine in the smallest on-board room (Category 11C, baby!), and I’m confident we’ll find plenty to do to fill four days.

My main challenge – and most of what I’ll blog about – is getting to and from Port Canaveral in a way that works well with our schedules while minimizing costs and hassles. One recurring wrinkle in my planning is that I need to have my son in a car seat in any non-bus vehicle in which he might ride; that makes renting a car, hiring a town car, riding in a cab, etc. more burdensome. Ironically, so far I’ve found the logistics of our family trip to Tokyo in 2012 to be simpler than those for this DCL trip!

I hope you’ll join with me as I analyze my transportation options and make rational decisions based on my group’s preferences and the cost impacts of our decisions. I start with a brief overview of some travel decisions I need to make. In subsequent blog posts I’ll look at TouringPlans.com tools and consult you, Dear Readers, for assistance. Read the rest of this entry »

Disney Cruise Line Tips from our Research

by on April 24, 2014 14 Comments

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Google Plus
  • Pinterest
DCL pool deck photo

Hit the pools when people are ashore to avoid crowds

This month Len Testa and I are heading on our next cruises, back to back 3 and 4-night Bahamas itineraries on the Dream. Two years ago after the Fantasy debuted, we began to toss around the idea of expanding our DCL coverage, and the result has been our DCL subscription on TouringPlans, which we brought online last fall, and the Unofficial Guide to the Disney Cruise Line, which we co-wrote with Erin Foster.

Between our theme park research, not living in Florida, the cost of fares, and needing to work around school schedules, we’re not able to cruise as much as we’d like (unlike the lady in front of us on the last cruise who checked into her 70th cruise), so each time is still special. (I can’t say that about every trip to Walt Disney World anymore.) However, even though I haven’t cruised 70 times, I feel like I’m really getting the hang of cruising Disney. Here are some things I’ve learned along the way.
Read the rest of this entry »

2014 Star Wars Weekends Celebrity Lineup Announced and More

by on April 23, 2014 1 Comment

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Google Plus
  • Pinterest

Star Wars Weekends 2012One of the highlights of Star Wars Weekends is the ability to meet the Star Wars stars of the screen and TV. It is always a hodgepodge of celebrities that make an appearance at this popular event, ranging from stars of the original saga, all the way to the celebrities who lend their talents to the more recent offerings.

This year brings a wide range of celebs to the five Star Wars Weekends, which are scheduled to take place Fridays through Sundays, May 16 to June 15. Many favorites are returning (like Peter Mayhew, Warwick Davis, Ray Park, and Billy Dee Williams), and a few new additions have been added to the schedule (such as John Ratzenberger, Mark Hamill, and some voice actors from the upcoming Star Wars Rebels series). Here is a full list of who you can expect to see and when: Read the rest of this entry »

PotterWatch: Knight Bus, Madam Puddifoot, and Interactive Wand Rumors

by on April 23, 2014 1 Comment

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Google Plus
  • Pinterest
Universal Potter Knight Bus Interactive wand

Harry Potter’s Knight Bus has arrived at Diagon Alley, along with tales of a new interactive wand experience in the Wizarding World.

What a difference a week makes in the Wizarding World! When last we PotterWatched, visible exterior progress on Universal Orlando‘s Harry Potter expansions seemed to have slowed. But Easter is all about rebirth, and in recent days several important new elements of Diagon Alley and Hogsmeade have sprung to life. Plus, we have some tantalizing new information on the interactive wand experience that has internet rumor mills buzzing.

 

Knight Bus

The big news was the arrival of the iconic Knight Bus in front of Diagon Alley’s London Waterfront on April 11. Read the rest of this entry »

Epcot After Hours Wind Down – Tutto Gusto Wine Cellar Review

by on April 23, 2014 21 Comments

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Google Plus
  • Pinterest

On just the third night of the new Epcot After Hours Wind Down event I was lucky enough to grab a table at Tutto Gusto. Since this event is so new and I wasn’t able to find any information before we arrived for our reservation, I’m excited to share our experience with you! If you haven’t heard about it yet, the Epcot After Hours Wind Down is a new experience where guests are invited to stay in the Epcot two hours after closing to enjoy a snack and drink at one of four restaurants. The cost is $35 per person, and while advance reservations are highly recommended, the crowds were minimal the night we went. I’d heard rumors about rides staying open late, but this turned out to be 100% false. For the premium price you get to see a completely empty Epcot and enjoy a quiet walk out of the park.

Of course, before I whisk you away to Tutto Gusto, I should give you a quick look at IllumiNations! One of the main benefits of this after hours party is that you don’t have to worry about positioning yourself to get out of the park post-fireworks. We settled into a spot in Germany that we likely wouldn’t have chosen if we knew we’d be fighting the crowds on our way out to the parking lot.

IMG_2106

Immediately following the fireworks we headed for Tutto Gusto and were greeted at the podium. When we checked in we were given wristbands and immediately shown to our table. We only counted ten other patrons in the restaurant besides our party! In talking to other guests in the park during the day, it seemed like nobody had heard about it yet. Spoiler alert: get your reservations now! This event is fabulous, and I can see the day coming where it sells out nightly. Read the rest of this entry »

Disney Tourist Manners, How Bad Is It? Part 2

by on April 22, 2014 79 Comments

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Google Plus
  • Pinterest

A while back, I wrote a post about the relative offense of various theme park etiquette infractions. How bad is it to stop in a walkway, skip the tip, or decorate your door? Since that post, I’ve been back to Walt Disney World a few times and have noticed more things that might, or might not be breaches of civilized behavior.

The wildlife in the parks are living things, not themed attractions. Let them be.

The wildlife in the parks are living things, not themed attractions. Let them be.

As before, my caveats apply: With any opinion-based topic, there is bound to be a substantial gray area. What slightly miffs one person might absolutely horrify another. In the interest of promoting discussion, here are some possible theme park infractions and my personal assessment of their level of severity.

I’m going to rank items on a scale of 1-5.

1 = Perfectly fine. No bother at all.
2 = Mildly annoying.
3 = Pretty yucky.
4 = Bad. This is really no way to behave.
5 = Really super bad. Just stop now, you’re embarrassing yourself and those around you.

Wearing Pajamas to the food court

What’s the issue?: You just woke up and need your coffee. I roll out of bed at home to get my brew, why not do it on vacation?

My rating?: 1 if you’re under the age of 8. 3 if you’re under the age of 18. 4-5 if you’re an adult.

My rationale?: I’ve got no problem with little kids in their PJs in the food court for an evening snack. I’m somewhat less tolerant of the packs of teenage girls that head to breakfast wearing PJ bottoms and a tank top during cheerleading competition season. While Disney may feel like home, it is not actually your house. It takes about a second to throw on some jeans, but I give teens a moderate pass because they’re still learning the ropes. However, on several occasions, I’ve encountered adult men in their 40s, 50s, and 60s in the resort food courts wearing pajamas. Be a grown-up and put on some actual clothes.

Saving seats at the pool

What’s the issue?: You’re going to want a prime pool-side chaise later. Better mark our territory by leaving some towels and personal items on the chairs we want.

My rating?: 2-4 depending on the time of year and the duration of the hold.

My rationale?: It’s not really a big deal if one member of your party heads down to stake out a spot and the others follow down within half an hour or so, particularly if it’s not during peak swim season. However, leaving personal items on chairs and then heading out to the parks for several hours is just plain rude. Read the rest of this entry »

History of the Walt Disney World Marathon

by on April 22, 2014 6 Comments

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Google Plus
  • Pinterest
WDWM_medals.jpg

The medals have changed…a bit (1994 vs. 2013) Image credit: Disney Parks Blog.

January 2015 will mark the 22nd running of the Walt Disney World Marathon, the flagship event of the runDisney endurance event series, which includes eight race weekends spread across both Disneyland and Walt Disney World. Since its inception in 1994, the race has grown tremendously, both in participants (from 5,588 to a total of 24,000*) and duration, with 5K, 10K, half marathon, and marathon distance races offered on consecutive days – along with a variety of additional endurance challenges.

Although next year’s event is sure to sell out quickly (regular registration opens today, April 22, at noon Eastern, visit this page to sign up), you may be surprised to hear that these events were not always as popular as they are today. In fact, in 2011, registrations were at such a low number (under 50 percent by the summer of 2010) that Disney announced a special “Marathon Monday” incentive, which would give all 26.2 finishers free admission to the Disney parks – a perk that has not resurfaced since, much to the chagrin of many runDisney participants!
Read the rest of this entry »