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In Case You Missed It: Disney News and Rumors – Week of February 12, 2016

by on February 12, 2016

ICYMI

How are you handling this winter? Are you enjoying being bundled up or can you not wait until you see the sun peeking out of the clouds again?

Also, do you have Valentine’s Day plans? If you were going to be lucky enough to be in Walt Disney World, Disneyland, Universal, or Disney Cruise Line this weekend, how would you celebrate?

This week, we had quite a few important pieces of news to pass your way. Disney’s quarterly earnings were released, some great trailers were released, and more.

In Case You Missed It – Disney and Universal Orlando News and Rumors

 

Disney reported their quarterly earnings this week and they jumped 32%, in large part thanks to a little film called Star Wars. However, Disney has one little issue that’s plaguing the company and that is ESPN.

Also announced during the earnings call was when Frozen will officially debut on Broadway. Will you see the musical or are you officially Frozened out? (Oh also, there will be a Frozen TV holiday special.)

Do we have a glimpse of the upcoming Na’vi River Journey’s layout? Read the rest of this entry »

Washington DC – How it is NOT Like Disney World

by on February 12, 2016 4 Comments

Henry, the (stuffed) elephant in the Museum of Natural History

Henry, the (stuffed) elephant in the Museum of Natural History

If you missed the first installment, How Washington D.C. is Like Disney World, you may want to check that one out first…or not, whatever. Either way, this is a continuation of the start of our look at Washington in conjunction with the release of the Unofficial Guide to Washington, D.C.

This post will contrast visiting America’s Capital with a place readers of this blog presumably know: Walt Disney World. There will be plenty more D.C. coverage coming in the next few months, so please let me know below what you would like to read about. Here we go, how is Disney World different from Washington?

Traffic

Yes, Disney World gets many more visitors than Washington, D.C., but it was also designed specifically to handle such crowds. Washington, while boasting a remarkable design, was not. The circles, squares, and diagonal roads give D.C. a unique layout, but also make it difficult to navigate.

On top of that, a very large number of people (almost 1/2 million according to the 2010 census) commute into the city from their homes outside of it. That means that rush hours clog roads and public transportation as much as almost anywhere.

Buses in Traffic

Speaking of traffic, the good public transportation system mentioned in my previous post loses a little bit of that goodness when traffic gets thick (When the tough get going, the going gets tough, eh?). While the subway system gets crowded, the buses get stuck. There are some roadways with bus lanes, but too few, so a short trip on a bus may not save you any time over walking. While buses in Disney World can get backed up, it’s got nothing on the problems in D.C.

The National Museum of the American Indian.

The National Museum of the American Indian.

Fewer Theme Parks

Yes, there are amusement parks that are sort of near Washington: Six Flags America is about an hour east and both King’s Dominion and Busch Gardens are a few hours south in Virginia. If rides are what you want, however, you’re never going to do better in D.C. than in Disney World.

…But More Museums

Where Washington hits back at Disney, though, is in it’s cultural offerings. Want real dinosaur bones? Priceless works of art? Towering monuments? Fonzie’s jacket? You can see it all in one of the many, many museums. In addition, there are numerous theaters showing plays, concerts, comedy acts, and lots more.

Free or Cheap Attractions

The hands-down best thing about D.C.’s attractions is that so many of them are either free or very low cost. All Smithsonian museums (and the Zoo) are free, and there are 14 of those plus a new African American History and Culture museum opening in September. There are several other museums that are also free as well as the dozens of monuments and memorials that charge no admission.

While the attractions are certainly more of an educational nature, you would be hard-pressed to spend the equivalent of one Disney admission ticket in Washington.

Washington_Monument (3)Actual, For Real History

Yes, the development and expansion of Disney Parks is part of American history, but it’s still got nothing on D.C. The city that was inhabited by America’s greatest leaders still has their footprints all over it.

Less Scheduling

Whether you like it or not a Disney vacation requires some pre-planning. While it is technically possible to make last-minute hotel reservations, utilize walk-up dining reservations, and wait in standby lines rather than use FastPass+, it is inadvisable. On the other hand, it would have to be inordinately busy to not find a hotel or restaurant with availability in D.C. at almost any time. For those who take many Disney vacations, it can feel oddly liberating to be (somewhat) spontaneous.

Even the sites require a minimum of pre-planning. It is helpful to decide in advance what you want to see, but choosing exactly when to go and how long to spend in a particular place is not necessary. Of course, I still plan out as much of the trip as I can, but I am a crazy person (which is why I work here).

More Varied (and Cheaper) Food

There is no shortage of restaurants in either Washington or Disney World. The vast majority of the dining in Disney World, however, is operated by Disney itself. That means more standardization among restaurants (although it does seem to be getting better). D.C. has no such standardization and therefore offers more creativity in their restaurants, although some minimal research is helpful.

As a major tourist destination, there is no shortage of low-quality, high-cost places designed to separate unwitting travelers from their money in return for mediocre food. Luckily we live in an age of technology and a simple app like Yelp (or a wonderful book like the Unofficial Guide to Washington D.C.) can be of great assistance.

Ice Skating in a Sculpture Garden with a building that houses the Declaration of Independence (Archives) in the background. No biggie.

Ice Skating in a Sculpture Garden with a building that houses the Declaration of Independence (Archives) in the background. No biggie.

It Snows, and Sometimes IT SNOWS

One of the ways that Disney World and Washington are alike is their summer heat and humidity, but they certainly do not share winter weather. Washington, D.C.’s geographic location can mean for a wide range of winter possibilities from relatively mild (40s and 50s Fahrenheit) to big snow (such as their 2 feet a few weeks ago). My least favorite cold weather possibility (even more than snow) is the winters when the temperature hovers in the 30s bringing wave after wave of sleet, ice, and cold rain, although nothing lasts forever, even cold November rain (sorry).

The indoor museums and (mostly) underground Metro help greatly, but you cannot avoid being out in the weather. If you want a silver lining, you can often find very good hotel deals in the winter.

You’ll Be Mixing With Locals

I’ll leave it to you to determine whether this is a pro or con, but you can’t help but interact with the people that live and work in D.C. on a visit there. While that happens sometimes at Disney World, the Cast Members you meet are often from elsewhere and aren’t always able to share local knowledge. Now whether you want the particular knowledge they’re sharing is another matter.

Allows for more adventure

I know, adventure is not something that everyone looks for in a vacation. If you want to stay in a hotel near the mall and only explore the major sites on the mall that is perfectly enjoyable (and I have done it more than once). If, however, you like to leave the masses behind and go find the culture and enjoyment usually reserved for locals, D.C. is perfect for that. Many wonderful, lively, historic neighborhoods are an easy Metro ride away and you know what, there are some great walk-throughs of those neighborhoods in a book I know of (C’mon, I get one more plug, I wrote those parts!)

So I Have to Go to Washington, D.C.?

Yes, probably. If you enjoy history and/or museums than I would say definitely. If you are generally bored by museums, the sheer variance of them and lack of (most) admission fees still make D.C. a fun time. And it really is hard to convey the surreal nature of walking the mall and seeing the massive monuments. So yes, go.

Washington DC – How it is Like Disney World

by on February 12, 2016 11 Comments

MallI know, I know, you read that headline and thought “is this guy insane?” The answer is yes, but that doesn’t mean I can’t make a good point or two. Since we are just getting our Washington, D.C. coverage off the ground — along with a brand-new Unofficial Guide to Washington, D.C. — I figured I’d help you understand why it’s an interesting vacation destination. Since most readers of this blog are familiar with Walt Disney World, let’s see a quick overview of how visiting America’s Capital compares to the massive Orlando theme park complex. You may find that D.C. is a pretty darn good alternative.

This is part 1 of a two-part intro to D.C. — the other part, coming later today, will focus on how Washington is unlike Walt Disney World. Don’t worry, there will be much more Washington, D.C. coverage over the ensuing months, so please forgive me for merely scratching the surface in this post. All of the details will be coming, whether you want them to or not. Without further ado…How Washington, D.C. is Like Walt Disney World:

They Are Both Easy to Get to

Actually, Washington is probably even easier to get to, but it depends a lot on where you live so I’ll call it a draw. If you live anywhere from Boston to Cincinnati to Charleston, S.C., you are within an 8 hour drive of America’s Capital. You have to be in Florida, Georgia, Alabama, or a Carolina to say the same about Disney World. Read the rest of this entry »

Disney World Crowd Calendar Report – January 31 to February 6, 2016

by on February 12, 2016 1 Comment

How Crowded Was Disney World Last Week?

How Crowded Was Disney World Last Week?

Crowds at Walt Disney World held steady last week closely following the pattern predicted by the Disney World Crowd Calendar. Only Sunday’s resort-wide crowd level missed by more than one index level on our scale. Wait times were notably lower during the week then peaked on Saturday. Animal Kingdom’s headliner attractions saw wild swings in average wait times hitting crowd levels between ‘1’ and ‘9’ on consecutive days.

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

Read the rest of this entry »

Universal Crowd Calendar Report – January 31 to February 6, 2016

by on February 12, 2016

How Crowded Was Universal Orlando Last Week?

How Crowded Was Universal Orlando Last Week?

Last week wait times were so close to what the Universal Crowd Calendar predicted it is hard to discern the two lines on our graph. Only Sunday and Tuesday had resort-wide crowd levels that differed from what we predicted and they only missed the mark by one level.

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

Read the rest of this entry »

Disneyland Crowd Calendar Report – January 31 to February 6, 2016

by on February 12, 2016

How Crowded Was Disneyland Last Week?

How Crowded Was Disneyland Last Week?

Last week, the crowds we observed at Disneyland Resort closely followed what was predicted by the Disneyland Crowd Calendar with the exception of a cool, rainy Sunday. Disneyland crowds came in a point or two higher than Disney California Adventure most days meaning that the flagship park was more crowded relative to what we see historically than the newer park.

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

Read the rest of this entry »

Valentine’s Day Disney Gift Ideas

by on February 11, 2016 2 Comments

For some people, dinner, candy, flowers, or jewelry may be the go-to gifts for Valentine’s Day, but if your significant other is a Disney fan (and a trip to the world isn’t in the cards for this year), there are many other options for gift ideas available in parks or through the Shop DisneyParks app. Here are just a few favorites.

 

Mickey and Minnie Antenna Topper

2016-02-08 10.28.56

Is there a cuter couple in the world than Mickey and Minnie? This Valentine’s Day topper is $5.95 and can be found in stores and on the app.

 

 

 

Duffy and ShellieMay Valentine’s Day Bears

2016-02-08 10.27.48

If you are a Duffy fan, you’ll find these “beary” cute. These 9″ plush bears are sold as a set for $35 and are available in stores and on the app.

 

 

 

 

Couples Mugs Read the rest of this entry »

Julia Mascardo’s Best Week Ever, February 11, 2016: Happy Lunar New Year!

by on February 11, 2016 8 Comments

Happy Lunar New Year! We celebrated Disney-style with red envelopes filled with Disney dollars.

Happy Lunar New Year! We celebrated Disney-style with red envelopes filled with Disney dollars.

Ed – Those of you who read Seth’s final Best Week Ever already know, but we have some new Best Week Ever Authors. Welcome Julia!

Greetings! You may already know me as Derek’s Unpaid Outlet Intern or as one of the voices from the TouringPlans Twitter account, but now the powers that be have given me the privilege of stepping into the lofty role of co-blogger for the Best Week Ever series, joining the ranks of the illustrious Seth and Daisy. Somehow I think an e-mail got misdirected into my inbox with the offer, but if you’re reading this, it looks like my blog slipped into publication somehow. (I won’t tell if you won’t!)

A bit of background about me: I grew up in Florida and have spent most of my adult life finding ways to leave for a little while and come back to settle down. I live with my husband, daughter, and two cats (Pixie Dust and Figment) in the backyard for the Magic Kingdom.

But enough about me — time for the best week ever.

Read the rest of this entry »

Seth Kubersky’s Best Week Ever February 11, 2016: Kylo Ren & Construction Walls at Disney’s Hollywood Studios

by on February 11, 2016 9 Comments

Kylo Ren Disney's Hollywood Studios

Visit Kylo Ren and check out DHS construction with Best Week Ever! (Photos/video by Seth Kubersky)

Ed – Sorry to break in right at the start, but I would like to announce that this will be Seth’s last Best Week Ever for the time being. While Seth is focusing his considerable talent on other things, we will have some new Best Week Ever authors. Look for the first new Best Week Ever later today…that’s right, double Best Week Ever week! Now, on to Seth’s wonderful week.

It’s been a little while since Best Week Ever took a look at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, so I stopped by the park several times in recent days for an update on this in-transition attraction. Construction walls may be rising on a daily basis, but that doesn’t seem to be stopping the crowds from coming! We’ll look at some of the changes around DHS, culminating in an encounter with the newest patricidal Star Wars star, Kylo Ren.

 

First, let’s take a look around Disney’s Hollywood Studios during the first week of February. This is a typically moderate time of year according to our Crowd Calendar, but I encountered some long lines around DHS, especially on February 8th:

 

Read the rest of this entry »

The Basics: Using the Crowd Calendar to Decide When to Visit Disney World

by on February 10, 2016 15 Comments

This is a continuation of our Back to Basics Series. Scroll to the bottom to see our other Basics posts.

Are you planning a vacation to Disney World? Wouldn’t it be cool to just pick up and go right now? In my mind, I’m there already with nothing to do to but have fun. Unfortunately, a reality check reminds me that we all have jobs, many need to consider school schedules, and finances and budgets need to be in order. Given all of these considerations, how can you possibly make an informed decision about the best time for your Disney World trip?

Well, today is your lucky day because this article focuses on TouringPlans.com’s Disney World Crowd Calendar, a powerful tool designed to help you make a decision about when to go so that you spend the least amount of time in line. Plus, see a handy summary of how specific holidays and Disney World special events affect how much time you’ll be in line.

[Even more luck! If you are planning a trip to Disneyland or Universal Orlando—TouringPlans provides Crowd Calendars for these destinations too.]

© Sarah Graffam

© Sarah Graffam

How will the crowds be during your Disney World visit? Use TouringPlans.com’s Crowd Calendar to pick the best week for your vacation.

Deciding When to Go: First Considerations

First and foremost, as with any trip, there are two basic factors that are crucial to deciding when to go to Disney World and that provide the context for using the TouringPlans Crowd Calendar. These are: (1) when you can afford to go and (2) when your schedule allows you to go.

In terms of when you can afford to go, maybe your goal is to save up first, or you are expecting a work bonus to put toward vacation, or your budget will be a bit more flexible once that car loan is paid off. As for schedule, you likely need to work around school vacations, a project at work, or family obligations.

Another potential factor is Disney World’s schedule. Is there a special event or time of year you would like to visit? Is it a must-do or just a bonus if it lines up with your other best times for vacation? Also keep in mind that peak crowds bring peak prices at Disney World resorts.

Considering these factors is bound to narrow down the time when you will take your vacation, and this is when TouringPlans’ Crowd Calendar can become an integral part of deciding when to go. Matching up all of these factors—budget, schedule, and what you’d like to experience at Disney World—with the Crowd Calendar is an excellent way to pick the best week for your vacation. Read the rest of this entry »