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Taking Your Parents to Walt Disney World: The Wrap-Up

by on October 26, 2016

parents Copyright 2016 Claire NatBack in June, I got to execute my long-awaited trip to Orlando – including Walt Disney World and Universal Orlando – with my parents. It had its highs and lows, but in the long run I was very pleased with how everything went. You read my parents’ side of the story; now you can read mine!

(If you’d like to hear about our trip in more detail, you can view my day-by-day accounts here!)

The Highs

  • There were some points of the trip where I fully expected my parents to have a good time, and the experience delivered to the fullest. Our Be Our Guest dinner was one of those times. We were seated in the ballroom, and my mother mentioned that she definitely preferred that over the other two options. Our food was delicious, we saw the Beast enter the ballroom twice with that wonderful movie score in the background, and the waitress saw to it that our desserts were free because we were celebrating my parents’ anniversary!
  • parents Copyright 2016 Claire NatI knew my parents would enjoy the Celebrate the Magic castle projection show, so I maneuvered us into just the right location – on the end of Main Street U.S.A. near Casey’s Corner. We had a nicely unobstructed view, and my parents were very impressed by the new technology being shown off.
  • However, by the end of that day, I knew they weren’t about to handle a bunch of post-fireworks traffic and lines, so we actually left the park and watched Wishes from the security checkpoint. We still heard the music and saw about 95% of the fireworks, but then immediately got out of there and were the on the first bus back to Art of Animation!

Read the rest of this entry »

Festive Events Occurring at Disney Springs This Holiday Season

by on October 25, 2016

Are you ready to celebrate the holiday season at Disney Springs? The shopping and dining district will delight Guests with a festive atmosphere and family fun. Guests will be able to experience a multitude of special offerings from November 14 through January 8.

This year, Guests will be able to take part in a nightly tree lighting ceremony in front of the Once Upon a Toy fountain play area, as well as enjoy a holiday-themed DJ dance party, games and activities.


Holiday Events at Disney Springs

©Rikki Niblett

For those looking to meet Santa Claus, they may do so at Santa’s Chalet. This charming cottage can be found across from Ghiradelli. Here Guests will be able to meet Santa Claus from November 14 through December 24. Then, because Santa has to fly back to the North Pole, Santa Goofy will be around to meet Guests from December 25 until December 30.  Read the rest of this entry »

Candlelight Processional Narrators Announced for 2016

by on October 25, 2016 1 Comment

Candlelight Processional


Is the Candlelight Processional one of your favorite things that takes place at Walt Disney World around the holidays? I know it is one of mine. There’s something so incredible about experiencing a mass choir, an orchestra, and a celebrity narrator performing a re-telling of the Christmas Story. This year, the Candlelight Processional will take place from November 25 through December 30 at the America Gardens Theatre found World Showcase at the American Adventure Pavilion in Epcot.

But who will the celebrity narrators be for this year’s event? I have your answer, as almost the full list of narrators has been officially announced.

This year’s narrators include: Read the rest of this entry »

TouringPlansTV: Part 2 – Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge + Video

by on October 25, 2016

Boma Restaurant at Animal Kingdom Lodge

Boma Restaurant at Animal Kingdom Lodge

Ready for Part 2 of Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge?

Me too!

In this video, I’ll be discussing the pools, restaurants and amenities.

Enjoy! Read the rest of this entry »

“Frameable” Disney: Photography Tips for Your Next Disney Vacation

by on October 25, 2016 18 Comments

Let’s be honest: how many of us have come home from Walt Disney World and realized that you experienced 85% of your vacation through a camera lens? (You can’t see me, but I’m definitely raising my hand.) I usually get so caught up in capturing every detail while I’m on a Disney vacation that I don’t think much about exactly why I’m taking pictures in the first place.

As great as it is to look back on photos from every parade, show and character meet and greet, I’m willing to bet that you don’t want to print out a 12”x16” of Pluto prancing down Main Street, U.S.A. and frame it above your mantle (or maybe you do, and in that case carry on). But instead of going shutter happy during Wishes on your next Disney vacation, focus on snapping a few well-thought out photos that you would consider “frameable”. This can help you feel less stressed about capturing every moment and give you a few great souvenirs that cost much less than that Disney home decor you’ve been eyeing.

Lost as to where to begin in your hunt for “frameables”? Here are a few ideas to get you going!

Doors of Disney | Great for: framed posters, canvas collages

The idea that started it all! I spent an entire Disney vacation taking a picture of every door I could find and the collage turned out to be such a great momento of our vacation. If you print this one out as a collage and hang it in your house, it’s a great conversation starter and a way to subtly display a little Disney.
Photography Tip: When taking door photos, center the doors in every photograph and make sure they don’t fill the whole frame. Leave yourself some room to crop so your doors don’t turn out different sizes when collaging. Read the rest of this entry »

Disneyland Crowd Calendar Update

by on October 25, 2016 2 Comments

The new crowd calendar distribution shifts days towards the middle of our scale

The new crowd calendar distribution shifts days towards the middle of our scale

Wait times are up at Disneyland Resort in California, and it is time to calibrate and update the Disneyland Crowd Calendar. Over the past twelve months the average crowd level at Disneyland was between 6.5 and 7.5 on our scale. We would like that average to be between ‘5’ and ‘6’. In addition, the crowd calendar needs to periodically adjust to the changing forecasts for wait times at the attractions. The forecasts use hundreds of factors to determine what the wait time is likely to be at any given date and time and since many of those factors change periodically, so must the Crowd Calendar. School calendars, events, park hours, annual passholder blockouts, single-day ticket prices, holiday schedules and attraction refurbishments are some of the many factors that influence wait times.

Today the latest Disneyland Crowd Calendar numbers appear on the Crowd Calendar page. The new figures represent a three month long examination of what affects wait times at each of Disneyland Resort’s attractions. The result will be a shift in the overall distribution of crowd levels on our scale. This means that a change in crowd level for a particular day doesn’t necessarily mean that the day will have different wait times that what we predicted before, although it can mean that too. Think of it like fixing a dollar amount based on the value of a dollar in a given year. You may have read articles that use “based on 2012 dollars”, to compare prices over time, for example. Well, the Disneyland Crowd Calendar is now using 2016 wait times as a fixed reference point. Read the rest of this entry »

New Epcot Touring Plans for 2016 and 2017

by on October 24, 2016 6 Comments

Spaceship Earth in EpcotNow that we have a month of wait times after Sum of All Thrills closed in Innoventions East, we’ve got enough information to update our Epcot touring plans for the rest of 2016 and into 2017. In this blog post I’ll explain which Epcot touring plan strategies work best with Epcot’s current attraction lineup, and the trade-offs in those strategies. I’ll also explain which strategies don’t seem to work at all.

One quick note: I’m focusing on comprehensive Epcot touring plans for this blog post, including Test Track. Our Epcot touring plans for parents with small children use a different touring and FastPass+ strategy.

Epcot Touring Plan with Sum of All Thrills

For comparison with the new plans, here’s the initial part of our last Epcot touring plan to feature Sum of All Thrills. The predicted wait times shown are for November 26, 2016 – the day after Thanksgiving. We’re predicting a crowd level of 9 (out of 10) on our Disney World Crowd Calendar:

Attraction Arrival Wait Duration Free Time Walk Time
 Soarin’ 9:12 am 29 6 0 12
Test Track 9:59 am 19 4 0 6
Sum of All Thrills  10:28 am 37 15 0 6
Mission:Space Orange
Use FP+ for 10:15 am
11:26 am  5 15 0 12
Living with the Land 11:58 am 15 14 0 1
Eat lunch 12:28 pm 0 30 0 1
The Seas w/Nemo 12:59 pm 20 4 0 8
Spaceship Earth
Use FP+ for 12:45 pm
1:31 pm 2 16 0 8
: (steps not shown)
Frozen Ever After
Use FP+ for 7:30 pm
7:50 pm 10 5 0 3

Read the rest of this entry »

How to Make a Disney World Vacation Affordable

by on October 24, 2016 18 Comments

It’s true that a Walt Disney World Vacation isn’t cheap. It’s one of the complaints you hear the most and is a big hurdle for families and individuals eager to experience the magic but must keep to a budget. But a Disney World Vacation may not be as out of reach as some might think! The price tag attached to the ultimate vacation destination can be significantly less if you know a few tips and tricks and money-saving strategies. So read on to learn how to make a Disney World Vacation affordable for you and your family.

Photo - Disney

Make Your Disney Visa Work For You

I applied for a Disney Rewards Visa Card from Chase several years ago, and I love it! It was free to apply, there’s no annual fee, and if you accept another cardholder’s recommendation, they get a Disney gift card and so do you. Cardholders also earn 1% in reward dollars and enjoy discounts and perks at a Disney Store,, and at the Disney Parks.

A Disney Rewards Visa Card can help you pay for your vacation if you can make the card work for you. For instance, I use my card to pay for the majority of my daily purchases, but immediately pay off what I charge to avoid accumulating debt or interest. Then, throughout the year, I allow my reward dollars to accumulate to apply towards the cost of my resort, tickets, or Annual Pass. It’s great knowing that each tank of gas or bag of groceries is helping to trim down my vacation costs; and of course, the card’s discounts help with those costs too.

Visit During the Off-Season

One of the best ways to save on a Disney World Vacation is to visit during the off-season. When the crowd levels drop, so do the rates for airfare, the resorts, and even park tickets due to Disney World’s new tiered ticket system. Seriously, a Disney World Vacation in the off-season may be half the price of the same vacation in July. But how do you know just when the off-season is? A good rule is to avoid the summer months and holidays; but for the rest of the time, the best source is the TouringPlans Crowd Calendar.

Read the rest of this entry »

SATURDAY SIX Looks At Six MORE Theme Park Related Comic Books

by on October 22, 2016

This week’s SATURDAY SIX takes a look at Six MORE Theme Park Related Comic Books. Last year the SATURDAY SIX had an in-depth investigative report on the Six BEST Theme Park Related Comic Books. This is an issue – pardon the pun – that is near and dear to our hearts as it combines two of our favorite hobbies: theme parks and comic books. The Walt Disney characters we know and love have been in comic books going back all the way to 1940, and currently there are three different publishers putting out Disney comic books. The first is Disney itself, through the the Marvel Comics brand. With the Disney Kingdoms imprint, Marvel is releasing stories inspired by Disney Parks and Resorts characters and attractions such as Figment and Seekers of the Weird. The second is Joe Books, who have the license for movie adaptations such as Zootopia, along with new books featuring the characters of Frozen, Finding Dory, and Pirates of the Caribbean. The third is IDW Publishing, who have the license for the Disney comic book titles – like Uncle Scrooge and Walt Disney’s Comics – that have gone back for decades.


Grizzly River Run themed covers.

In the past year IDW has released variant covers that have put a spotlight on several of our favorite theme park attractions such as The Haunted Mansion, Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride, and Dumbo. These covers are absolutely amazing and done by artists such as Andrea FrecceroDerek Charm, John Loter, and James Silvani. We are going to spotlight these variant covers throughout the article because we love them so much, but the SATURDAY SIX itself is going to look at comic books – some over twenty years old, some not even twenty days old – whose stories have dealt with theme parks directly. So sit back, relax, and let’s begin our countdown starting with…

 # 6 – The Enchanted Tiki Room

tikiroomcomicDisney announced the Enchanted Tiki Room comic book earlier this summer during the San Diego Comic Con. This came as a shocker to me personally, but I couldn’t have been happier hearing the news. A comic book based on one of my favorite attractions at the Magic Kingdom, and I only could have been more surprised if it was a series about the Peoplemover.

The first issue just hit the stands in early October, and it shows that the world famous macaws and other birds that make up the Enchanted Tiki Room are just one part of a large story. Set on a mysterious island in the Pacific, we are told that each week a group of humans are flown to the island and end up having their lives changed forever by what they experience. If that sounds like the plot to a certain ’80s TV show, you’re not wrong (the issue even has a reference to it.)

For theme park fans, the star of the show is of course the Enchanted Tiki Room itself along with the talkative macaws José, Fritz, Pierre, and Michael. We do get to see the Tiki Room in all its glory, and some fun interactions with the birds, but for the most part the issue is centered around the characters visiting the island (including a mysterious one at the very end.) There are several “Easter Eggs” throughout the issue for Tiki Room fanatics like myself, and even an appearance by a certain Little Orange Bird from the nearby Sunshine Tree Terrace in Adventureland.


Our favorite macaws backstage. Note the reference to Fantasy Island.


A brief glimpse of what it is like for Your Humble Author when he makes his monthly trips to the Disney Outlet Store and must do battle with the eBay pirates and scalpers.



# 5 – Captain EO


Next we are going to step into the Way Back machine and head on over to 1987, when the comic book adaptation of Captain EO was released. Readers of this fine blog know that Captain EO is another one of all our time favorite attractions, however despite the STUNNING art by Tom Yeates, this is not one of our favorite theme park related comic books? Why, because – like the attraction itself – it’s in 3-D. The comic book industry has been trying to do 3-D comic books for who knows how long and, with rare exceptions, it just doesn’t work. Or maybe a better description is that it just doesn’t work as well as you’d want it to. You have to read the comics with those goofy cardboard glasses with each eye looking at a slightly different picture through either the red or blue lens. Because of the constraints the artists have to work in, you’re generally not getting a true comic book experience with detailed backgrounds, etc.

Outside of the 3-D, the Captain EO comic book is great. A lot of the times comic book adaptations of live action films can fall flat because the artist can’t nail down the likenesses of the actors or actresses, but Yeates kills it here. His Michael Jackson is perfect and is just as good with every other character. It is a straight up adaptation of the film, but of course you are missing one of the actual biggest strengths of the movie, the songs. Turns out there’s a big difference between hearing the king of pop Michael Jackson singing We Are Here To Save The World or It’s Just Another Part of Me and just seeing the words printed on a page. Who knew?


If you thought 3-D in movies was insufferable, it ain’t got nothing on the comics version.

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Club Villain Has Been Extended at Disney’s Hollywood Studios

by on October 21, 2016 2 Comments



Club Villain has been extended! The dining event that celebrates your favorite Disney villains is now slated to take place on Fridays and Saturdays Disney’s Hollywood Studios at throughout November and December, as well as on Friday evenings in January. There are two times that Guests can choose from, either 5:15 p.m. and 8:30 p.m.

Club Villain, which takes place in the Sunset Showcase (located near Rock n’ Roller Coaster), is hosted by Dr. Facilier from The Princess and the Frog. During the event, Guests will be able to mix and mingle with Maleficent, Queen of Hearts, the Evil Queen and Cruella De Vil. Guests can also dance the night away courtesy of the tunes from a wicked good DJ!

The event will feature a delightful menu inspired after The Princess and The Frog‘s New Orleans location. Dishes will include beef striploin rubbed with herbes de Provence, Voodoo sticky “pig wings” with citrus gremolata and spicy shrimp sautéed with Andouille sausage, tomato, okra and onions over creamy polenta. There will also be great chilling cocktail concoctions, plus beer and wine at the Potions Bar. Keep in mind that seating for this event will be banquet style, so you may be seated with other guests, depending on your party’s size.

Tickets to Club Villain can be purchased for $129 per person, tax and gratuity included. Do keep in mind that separate admission to Disney’s Hollywood Studios is required, and is not included in the price of this package. Guests can make reservations by calling 407-WDW-DINE.