Archive for December, 2009

Get Your 10 Day Crowd Forecast On Lines

by on December 7, 2009

You can now get a 10 Day Forecast on Lines — which includes Crowd Calendar estimates, park hours, Extra Magic Hour schedules, and Hard Ticket event listings. In addition to crowd estimates, we list our “best parks” for the day (indicated by green dots on the iPhone version), as well as our “parks to avoid” (red dots). This feature should make planning easier while you’re actually in Walt Disney World. I know I’m going to be using it this week.

To view the crowd forecasts and park hours, just click on “10 Day Forecast” on the main page of Lines on your iPhone, Android, Palm Pre, or BlackBerry.

I’ve also added a “hidden feature” that should make refreshing pages easier. If you’re on the iPhone, Android, or Palm Pre, clicking on the header text (“Park” if you’re viewing the Magic Kingdom) will refresh the page content (we also have a refresh link at the bottom of the park pages as well).

Happy Touring! Be sure to check out Lines at http://m.touringplans.com

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WDW Today Episode 653 – Evening Extra Magic Hour

by on December 7, 2009

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Episode 653 of WDW Today is now available for download here.

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TouringPlans Team At The WDW Today Reunion 2009

by on December 7, 2009

It’s (Un)official: the TouringPlans.com team will be in WDW for the WDW Today Reunion! Join Len, Fred, myself, as well as bloggers Kristen and Caroline next week as we studiously follow the Reunion Schedule and furiously update our travels on Twitter.

Here’s the current plan:

  • Thursday, December 10th: Fred & Henry in the Animal Kingdom (the reunion is in Magic Kingdom for MVMCP).
  • Friday, December 11th: Epcot! Len joins us all the way from the tenth most populated state, North Carolina.
  • Saturday, December 12th: Hollywood Studios! Hochberg!
  • Sunday, December 13th: Len’s in MK for morning, then joining Fred&Henry in Epcot for the rest of the day.
  • Monday, December 14th: Len heads home, but Fred & Henry are in MK, possibly making the epic blunder of attempting the Ultimate Magic Kingdom Touring Plan.

We’d love to meet as many you as possible! The best way to reach us is through our Twitter account, @TouringPlans, or via email: len@touringplans.com or henry@touringplans.com.

Another fun thing we’re doing is organizing a special list of attendees on Twitter to follow the chatter from the parks: http://twitter.com/touringplans/reunion (if you’re a twitter user and down for the event, please let us know!). If this works out, this should be a great “backchannel” for all the festivities. Also, be sure to follow the official Reunion twitter account: @09reunion. Both will be excellent ways to join in the fun from the parks or from home (side note: isn’t technology amazing??).

We’re also excited to announce that Lines, our mobile wait times website, will remain free during the WDW Today Reunion! We haven’t set an exact date for when the free “Preview” period will end (we want to do more testing while we’re down there), but if you want to check it out for free, be sure to go give it a whirl soon: http://m.touringplans.com. Hope to see people using it in the parks this week! And if you’re a fan of Lines, we’d love to get as much data as possible from event attendees–so submit those times!

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Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party Wait Times Now Available

by on December 6, 2009

Lines now knows about hard ticket events–just in time for tonight’s Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party! This means that MVMCP will be added to the parks status page (see image), and that we’ll keep the park “open” during the parties to provide wait time estimates! And don’t worry, Lines knows which attractions are open. For you planners, we also recently updated our Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party Touring Plans.

So if you’re planning on heading to one of Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Parties this season (perhaps with the WDW Today reunion?), bring Lines along with you! We’d especially love to get some posted wait times submitted from the parks during the party.

Lines now supports iPhone, Android and Palm, and most recently, BlackBerry! All your Disney World wait time needs, from the comfort of your smartphone! Check it out at http://m.touringplans.com.

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Seniors At Disney World – Follow The Plan

by on December 6, 2009

This is a follow up to my “Taking Seniors To Disney World” post. I appreciated all of your advice and comments on the subject.

The trip was short — over a weekend. We stayed in 2 rooms at Pop Century. Had this trip not been such a whim, I would have preferred to stay in a Deluxe resort. Pop was fine. We had one day to tour the park. I chose Epcot. It’s my favorite and I thought it would be theirs too. Because they are not pass holders, they got one day tickets. No Hopping!! $50 plus to Hop — are you kidding me? (I have a AP and it felt very restricting not being able to HOP. ;) I survived.)

I printed the “Touring Plan for Active Seniors” and kept it in my backpack. Great plan. However, I noticed Test Track was missing, which I found puzzling. Now I know why. My mom liked it, but thought it was very fast. My Dad liked it better. I did get my mom to go twice. Other than our Test Track detour, we followed the plan. My father retired from GM. I was so excited to take him to the Test Track VIP room for GM employees. To our disappoinment, we learned that when the goverment takes over a company, they close the VIP room at Disney World.

My parents LOVED Soarin’ — and who wouldn’t. I think that was the highlight of the day. They not only loved the actual attraction, but the pre show as well. For any fan of “Seinfeld”, seeing “Putty” as a flight attendant brings a smile to their face.

My mom and I were at Epcot for rope drop. My father met us just before lunch. We took the monorail to the TTC and walked to the Poly. My parents thoroughly enjoyed the monorail ride. They enjoyed seeing the sights from that perspective as well as the monorail resorts. We had lunch at the Kona Cafe.

We spent the remainder of the day completing the touring plan. We would often stop and admire the beautiful landscaping — amazing! It was great to get to be with my parents at Disney World. We could not have asked for a more beautiful day. Seeing Disney through their eyes allowed me a fresh perspective.

We had breakfast, Sunday, at the Kona Cafe (yes, the same restuaruant less than 24 hours apart.) Well, my parents loved the breakfast even more than lunch. My mom is still talking about the Tonga toast. She’s trying to devise her own recipe.

Please take the seniors in your life to Disney World. Keep their activity level in mind, follow the touring plan, take breaks, admire the beauty around you and know you’ll create memories of a life time.
Have a magical trip.

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Disney World Mobile Wait Times Come To The BlackBerry

by on December 4, 2009


We’re excited to announce BlackBerry support today for Lines, our new mobile website that estimates current and future wait times for Walt Disney World attractions. Two weeks ago we launched Lines for the iPhone (a few days later, support for Android and Palm Pre) and we’ve seen amazing usage so far in the parks. BlackBerry seemed like the next logic platform to focus on (and by far the most requested), so we’re eager to get it into your hands.

As for the details, we’ve tested it on various versions of the BlackBerry Curve, Bold, Storm and Tour. It requires at least OS version 4.5+, and we’ve made it javascript-free for the time being. There are a ton of BlackBerry phones and OS versions out there, so please let us know if anything looks or behaves wonky. Also, we’d love to get any feedback on how to improve the BB user experience.

Over the past couple of weeks we’ve been furiously updating the models to improve our wait time estimates. We want to say thank you to everyone for trying out Lines during this beta period–we’ve gotten a lot of great feedback, a flood of data from the parks, and some great coverage. And if you’re a fan, we’d love if you could help spread the word!

Lines is currently in beta and is free for a limited time–so sign up for an account and visit http://m.touringplans.com to give it a whirl!

UPDATE:: Lines has graduated Beta and is now a fully featured member of the TouringPlans.com product suite! Read more here.

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WDW Today Episode 652 – Worth It Or Not (Continued)

by on December 4, 2009

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Episode 652 of WDW Today is now available for download here.

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Holiday Happenings Around the Parks

by on December 3, 2009

It’s the most wonderful time of year, especially at Walt Disney World!  Disney is famous for pulling out to all the stops in December and I’m going to experience it all on my upcoming trip!  Today I want to focus on the special events in each of the four major parks.  Each of the parks has its own set of celebratory events for the holiday season.

Let’s start with my favorite park: Epcot. This park has several festive offerings.  Holidays Around the World provides guests with a glimpse into the holiday traditions of the countries represented in World Showcase.  The highlight of this production is the storytellers (appearing in most pavilions).  At designated times these performers will emerge to present the Christmas customs of their home country.  For example, Pere Noel (the French version of Santa Claus) comes out to discuss French traditions.  I’ve only seen a few of these shows, but I’m going to try to see as many as I can on this trip.  Also as part Holidays Around the World, guests can meet Santa Claus and learn about Kwanzaa and Hanukkah at the American Adventure pavilion.

Epcot is also home to one of my favorite holiday events in all of Walt Disney World: the Candlelight Processional.  The show is presented three times nightly from November 27- December 30 and should not be missed.  A cast member choir is joined by a community choir, a full orchestra and a celebrity narrator to tell the story of Christmas through beautiful music in the American Gardens Theater.  Not only does the show get me in the holiday spirit, but it is moving.  Another can’t miss at Epcot is the holiday tag to Illuminations: Reflections of Earth.  Illuminations is always my favorite night time show at WDW, but with the Christmas addition it is jaw dropping.  When the regular show is complete, “Peace on Earth” is played with a special pyrotechnic display.  I’ll try to catch this as many nights as I can on my upcoming trip.

I have to take a moment to discuss something that will be missing from the Epcot holiday landscape this year.  I’m disappointed and saddened the Lights of Winter will not be appearing this year.  For those folks who have not been fortunate enough to visit during the holiday season before, this display was lit along the walkway between Future World and World Showcase and consisted of lighted archways whose lights were choreographed to music.  This has been a tradition at WDW for the last several years, but the plug was pulled this year.  There was something beautiful about the simplicity of it.  Since Epcot is my favorite park, I hate to see such a big part of its Christmas magic disappear.

Moving on, at Disney’s Hollywood Studios the main festive attraction is the Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights.  Millions of lights have been rigged up along the Streets of America creating a display.  And to top it off Disney has found a way to make it snow in Florida!   Hours could be spent wandering up and down the street taking in all of the different elements of the attraction.  I wouldn’t recommend to rush through the area, but instead slow down and take it all in.  Be aware that this area can be very crowded!  The lights will be lit nightly from November 10-January 4 from dusk until park closing.

Over at the Animal Kingdom the daily parade transforms into Mickey’s Jammin’ Jingle Parade.  The revamped version of the parade will run daily from November 27-January 3.  The decorations at this park are also a lot of fun!  Head to Camp Minnie-Mickey to see several Christmas trees all themed to different Disney characters.  Try to see if you can identify which belong to different characters!  If you have a trouble, cast members can usually help you out.

Magic Kingdom has several holiday treats. Main Street, USA is all decked out and the holiday cheer is overflowing.  On select nights in November and December Magic Kingdom hosts Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party.  This hard ticket event charges an extra fee for guests to enjoy Christmas shows, parade, and Holiday Wishes fireworks.  Most of the attractions are also open during the party to ride with fewer crowds.   I’ve attended the party a few times and I have to say my favorite segment is the parade.  If you are attending this year my best advice is to skip the first run of the parade and go to the less crowded second one.  The parades and Holiday Wishes will run daily from December 19th-31st without having to attend the party.  And don’t forget Cinderella’s Castle has been draped in sparkling lights through the holiday season.  I was skeptical when I first heard about this addition, but I have to say I really love it.

So now that I’ve discussed all of the holiday options around Disney World, let’s discuss some of the things I won’t be doing on this trip.   This year we decided to cut out a few of the more pricey events.  We are not going to Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party because we’ve gone the last two years and can’t justify the cost.  However, this doesn’t mean we’ll be missing any holiday cheer at the Magic Kingdom.  We’re planning to spend the 19th at this park since that is the first day Holiday Wishes and the Christmas Parade run for the general public.  Also we decided against the Candlelight Processional dinner package this time around.  Disney jacked up the price this year to what we felt was a ridiculous amount (the cheapest dinner is $45 and they do not accept the Tables in Wonderland discount card!).  We decided to try our luck at waiting in the general line.  If we don’t get a seat we won’t be that upset since we’ve seen the show the last few years.  Just as long as I can hear the music in the general area of the American Gardens theater I’ll be happy.

Despite cutting a few things out of our usual Christmas activities, I’m really excited for our trip!  I’ve already discussed some of the details and you can find that entry here.  I hope anyone who gets to make the trip to WDW during the holidays has a great time!  Happy Holidays everybody!

Next week I’ll talk about preparing from my upcoming trip…

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WDW Today Episode 651 – Listener Questions

by on December 2, 2009

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Episode 651 of WDW Today is now available for download here.

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