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Daisy Lauren’s Best Week Ever: August 28, 2014

by on August 28, 2014 5 Comments

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAHi, Everyone! Welcome to the Best Week Ever here at Walt Disney World! This week we’re taking a peek at Villains Unleashed at the Disney’s Hollywood Studios, taking a long overdue trip to Epcot, and ending with a look at the cutest shopping trend to hit Downtown Disney. Now let’s get started with these amazing photos courtesy of my fellow blogger, Scott Wurzel. Why aren’t they my photos you ask? Well, I skipped out on this one. Even up until the day of the event I was still itching to buy a ticket. It just isn’t the kind of thing I miss! But after not even being able to get into the park for the Villains night last year, I had serious doubts if the Studios could handle the event. Reviews have been mixed online, but I’m glad I trusted my gut. I don’t think this would have been much fun with the outrageous lines and short supply of event items. Did anyone head to the park for this event? What did you think?

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Big Changes Coming to Epcot’s World Showcase Performances

by on August 28, 2014 11 Comments

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Bye Bye Spirit of America Fife & Drum Corps. Such a great show!

Bye Bye Spirit of America Fife & Drum Corps. Such a great show!

Here’s how I started my morning…I got a text from a friend telling me that something crazy was happening…a bunch of World Showcase acts were being removed. You know, those fantastic performers that you see around the promenade. I thought…no way. This has to be one of those off-the-wall rumors…it can’t be true. And then I got on Twitter…and I kept seeing the rumors with more fervor. It can’t be…

Well, now, it is official. Four different acts that perform around Epcot’s World Showcase – Off Kilter, MO’ROCKIN, the World Showcase Players, and the Spirit of America Fife & Drums Corps - will give their final performances at the end of September.

The first to leave will be the World Showcase Players. The last performance date for this comedic troupe found in the United Kingdom Pavilion will be on Thursday, September 25. They performed skits, oftentimes enlisting audience members to be a part of the fun. Read the rest of this entry »

Gambling Disney Style – Disney Cruise Line Bingo

by on August 28, 2014

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Disney Cruise Line Bingo 2Who’s ready for some gambling, Disney style? While it’s true that the Disney Cruise Line ships do not have casinos, fear not my fellow gamblers, there is still a way for us to get our fix. Disney Cruise Line bingo is a fun family activity that everyone can enjoy! I must admit, I love gambling. Now I’m not hearing my name being called by an evil slot machine or anything, but I do enjoy everything from craps to keno and bingo is no exception. I am a third generation bingo player; both my grandma and my dad are huge fans. So when I found out that I would be covering Disney Cruise Line bingo, I was beyond excited! I’ve played bingo in several places across the United States so I was very interested to compare Disney Cruise Line bingo aboard the Disney Wonder with my previous experiences. Please join me as I share my Disney Cruise Line bingo adventure with you!

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Disney Cruise Line Skagway, Alaska Train Excursions: Compare/Contrast

by on August 28, 2014 2 Comments

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t_logo_fbTouring Plans blogger Kristi Fredericks recently compared our dog sled excursions on a Disney Cruise Line voyage to Alaska. We’re back with another round of Alaska Port Adventure comparisons, this time we’re looking at two train related excursions in the port of Skagway, Alaska. Kristi took the White Pass Railway and Trail Camp trip, while I took the All Aboard Steam Train tour. Here’s the scoop…

WHITE PASS RAILWAY AND TRAIL CAMP

  • Price: $168 for guests 10 years old and above, $85 for children three to nine years old and free for children two years old and younger.
  • Price add ons: There is an opportunity to purchase souvenirs at the Liarsville Gold Rush Trail Camp.
  • Time requirement: The total excursion time is about 4.5 to 5 hours.
  • Physical issues: This excursion is both wheelchair and stroller accessible. Both must be collapsible. Guests must be able to walk on gravel to transfer to the train and motor coach.
  • Age limits: None.
  • Other important details: Passports are required for all guests, because this Port Adventure crosses into Canada.

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Using Disneyland Touring Plans and the Lines App

by on August 27, 2014 6 Comments

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Radiator Springs Racers entrance -Natalie Reinert

I was determined to avoid lines at Disneyland as much as I do at Walt Disney World. Serious planning was needed.

As a Disney World veteran, there are two things I don’t bother with much anymore: park maps, and extensive planning. I know where everything is, I know when I want to see it, and I know how long I am willing to wait for things (about twenty minutes, generally). I think at this point my feet carry me from place to place without my brain directing them.

But for our first (of many, we hope!) Disneyland Resort trips, I knew that I needed to do some extra planning. Standing around with my face in a park map, trying to figure out where to go next, was simply not an option. I don’t even carry a bag in the park, let alone a map. But I needed a plan to get my family around Disneyland and Disney California Adventure without wandering aimlessly and getting caught in long queues. And, just in case of attraction breakdowns or unexpectedly long wait times, I needed the ability to make an on-the-spot back-up plan. How could I manage that in a park I’d never been before?

Enter personalized plans from TouringPlans.com, and the Lines App.

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Animal Kingdom Touring: How a Touring Plan Can Help

by on August 27, 2014 2 Comments

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I have grown to love all of the parks at Disney World, but the one that took me the longest to befriend was Animal Kingdom. It’s not that I don’t love the theme (what’s not to love about animals?). It’s not that I don’t love the attractions (Kilimanjaro Safaris and Finding Nemo the Musical are two of the best things at any park, in my opinion.) It’s that I’m always feeling the pressure of the time schedule.

Pangani Forest Exploration Trail

I just love the gorillas along the Pangani Forest Exploration Trail, one of my favorite YOPAs.

Animal Kingdom is made up of three types of attractions. The first (and most prevalent) is Your Own Pace Attractions (let’s call these YOPA, just for fun). These are experiences that take varied amounts of time, depending on your pace and interest level. The YOPA list is long:

 

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Trip Planning Dashboard Now Includes Parks You’re Visiting Each Day

by on August 27, 2014 12 Comments

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Those of you who are subscribers know we’ve recently introduced a new trip planning dashboard, and today we’re releasing the next iteration – adding parks to specific days in your trip, and integrating trips with our main crowd calendar. Here’s what the new features look like.

pyrusj_s_Dashboard

Disney_World_Crowds_-_Thursday__September_4__2014_and_Applications

When you login to your dashboard, you’ll see that your trips now have the option to add parks to specific days. You can click on the link for the day you want to choose parks for (highlighted in orange in the picture above) to go to that day’s crowd calendar, including information about park hours and special events. There you can pick one or more parks to visit that day.

Parks you select will show up on your dashboard as you see above with their crowd levels. We’ll try to guess which parks you’ll visit based on the touring plans you already have for that day, or you can just select the ones you’re interested in (especially handy if you’re not using a plan or haven’t quite decided what you’re doing yet).

Disneyland_Crowd_Calendar_2014

Want to take a look at the big picture? Now the main crowd calendar page will highlight your trips and scroll directly to your next trip dates, turning the crowd levels for the parks you plan to visit green to easily scan. It will also display the name (or names if your trip dates overlap) of your trips in the notes for each day.

All these changes work with all three of our trip-enabled properties (WDW, DLR and UOR), and are available now to all subscribers. Let us know what you think so far and stay tuned – more trip planning goodness is, well…planned. ;)

IllumiNations Cruise: A View Worth Every Penny

by on August 26, 2014 5 Comments

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Epcot lights up the sky.  Photo by Disney

Epcot lights up the sky. Photo by Disney

If you are one of the unfortunate ones to never have experienced IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth before, you have really been missing out. IllumiNations is the story of our Earth’s history, its present, and the hope for its future, showcasing people, flora, and fauna. This fireworks, laser, and video show will be the culmination of your extraordinary day at Epcot. After visiting Future World and then stuffing yourself with wonderful delectables throughout the many countries around World Showcase, find a seat or standing area around the Lagoon and be prepared to experience pyrotechnic greatness.

The only downside to IllumiNations is that I sometimes find it a waste of good Disney time to be camping out around the World Showcase hours before the nightly showing to get a prime viewing location. If this has ever crossed your mind or if you are just looking for that over the top experience, perhaps to celebrate a wedding, birthday, or anniversary, then you should try an IllumiNations Cruise.

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Fair Trade and Eco Friendly Souvenirs at Walt Disney World

by on August 26, 2014 7 Comments

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t_logo_fbRecently, a TouringPlans user asked for suggestions about where to find eco friendly or fair trade souvenirs at Walt Disney World. Although Walt Disney World does frequently issue statements about their corporate culture of environmental awareness and ethical trade practices, finding souvenirs that are clearly eco friendly or fair trade does take a bit of looking.

As I shopped, three common themes I found were:

  1. If you are trying to find non-mass produced, fair trade, and/or eco friendly souvenirs, you can almost always skip the larger shopping locations (The Emporium, Mouse Gear, World of Disney).
  2. If you want something that has a Disney character or says Walt Disney World, you will have a lot of challenges finding anything that meets these standards.
  3. When talking with different people about what they consider to be eco friendly or “ethical souvenirs”, there is a lot of variation to what people find acceptable.

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Disney World Ticket Scams

by on August 26, 2014 2 Comments

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Disclaimer: While I am a Cast Member, I do not speak for the Walt Disney Company. The following information is based on my own experience and does not necessarily reflect the Walt Disney Company’s policies. Please see the Walt Disney World website for official rules and regulations regarding ticket use.

I’m always on the hunt for a bargain, and I’m willing to take some risks to get one–my recent purchase of clearance yogurt comes to mind. However, Walt Disney World tickets are not the purchase to mess with. I work as a vacation planner (read: ticket seller) at the Transportation and Ticket Center, and I’ve witnessed the many ways guests have tried to game the system to avoid paying full price for tickets. Here’s a quick list of the most frequent Disney World ticket scams and why you should avoid them:

Disney World ticket scams

Beware “Cheap Tickets.” They’re especially scary at night. Photo by Maddi Higgins

Used Tickets

Somebody bought a 7-day ticket, only used 5 of the days. Why not hand those two days off to somebody else and get a little extra cash? Then you can pick up those extra days at Cheep Ticketz on 192 for a major discount.

Why you shouldn’t try it:

The only way to know if a ticket has any entitlements left is through Disney. So when you stop at Tickets ‘R Us on 192, you’ll have to take their word that there are any days left on the ticket. You also have no idea if the person who originally purchased the ticket also got the No Expiration option; if not, the days on the ticket expired 14 days after first use. The biometric scanning information is connected to the ticket, so if you have a different finger than the original user, you will not get through the touch point. So unless your used ticket comes with the chopped-off index finger of the original owner, you won’t have much luck getting into the parks. Read the rest of this entry »