by Recent News
on June 22, 2010
Episode 734 of WDW Today is now available for download here. Join TouringPlans.com owner Len Testa as co-host for a podcast that features many Walt Disney World travel planning tips!
One-click subscriptions to WDW Today:
by Katie Siloac
on June 22, 2010
Reader, you may be familiar with our blog, or you may be just stopping by. But either way, here at TouringPlans, we wanted to tell you that we are incredibly excited to do a re-launch of our blog itself!
We’re going to be giving you new features including: guest blog posts, photo features and site features as well! We’re also going to be featuring regular weekly postings from our amazing bloggers.
You may be familiar with the TouringPlans team but did you know we have wonderful weekly columnists here at the TouringPlans blog? We thought that this would be a perfect time to introduce you to our wonderful TouringPlans blogging team!
Caroline Baggerly: Tuesday Columnist, Euphoric Blogger
Favorite Disney World Rides: Soarin’ & Splash Mountain
Favorite World Showcase Countries: Canada and France
Caroline is a Disney research hound. She uses any excuse to go to Disney World. She Travels to Disney almost monthly with her sons, husband or solo. She even ran the Princess Half Marathon as an excuse for a trip. She’s now a runner thanks solely to Disney. Her favorite actives at Disney World include: absorbing the atmosphere, staying club level, eating delicious food & watching the shows. When she drives onto Disney property she still claps her hands and sings “Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah”. The thrill she gets from “just being there” is worth the price of admission. If forced to chose, Epcot is her favorite park. Caroline’s mantra: “Disney is in the details.” Caroline is a big kid.
Kristen Helmstetter: Wednesday Columnist and Unofficial Guide Researcher
Favorite Attractions: Splash Mountain and American Adventure
Favorite Resort (so far): Boardwalk
Kristen Helmstetter is one of the bloggers for touringplans.com as well as a researcher for the Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World. Kristen is living the young, single life so she has been making several trips a year to WDW with her friends. She is out to prove that Disney World isn’t just for kids and families! She likes to write about Disney’s offerings which might appeal to people her age, but thinks most of her advice can really apply to just about anyone. Her favorite things to do around Disney World include sampling drinks around World Showcase, laughing until it hurts with her crew of Disney friends, and trying something new on every trip. You can follow her Disney (and everyday life) adventures on Twitter.
Todd Perlmutter, Thursday Columnist, Friendly Neighborhood Geek
Favorite Ride That Needs A Better Queue: Astro Orbiter
Favorite Fountain: Fountain of Nations
Todd is a Central Florida local who just so happens to be a mega geeky Disney, tech, and gaming nerd. He lives or dies by his iPhone – it spending a significant amount of time in his hand while he’s at Walt Disney World which he’s been to so many times that he’s basically stopped counting. The Disney Force is strong in Todd’s family and has been passed on throughout the generations. He shares a birthday with Tigger and The Sum Of All Thrills. Loves his wife, pup, and cat. In his spare time Todd has undertaken several programming projects for TouringPlans.com.
We’re extremely excited about the future of the TouringPlans blog, so stay tuned!
by Caroline Baggerly
on June 22, 2010
One of my favorite activities at Walt Disney World is discovering delicious treats. I love food. Disney does take their food very seriously. So if you are under the impression that Disney is just hot dogs, hamburgers and cotton candy, you will be pleasantly surprised at the delicious food offerings available. Below is a list of my top 5 favorite treats at Walt Disney World:
5. Carmel Corn at Sleepy Hollow: Not so long ago, there was a big copper bowl where they made this delicious confection right in front of you. It was warm and luscious. The wafting smell of caramelized sugar was all the invitation I needed to partake in this delectable treat. However, Disney thought it would be a good idea to remove the copper pot from Sleepy Hollow and take it to the Main Street Confectionery. Since the move, I have yet to get warm carmel corn, but I do love their recipe and it still rates among my favorite treats at the Magic Kingdom warm or not. (Disney, if you are reading this, please serve it freshly made again.)
4. Margarita: In Epcot there is the most wonderful margarita stand that offers a variety of options. On my last trip I was able to sample several offerings: Midnight Blue “Patron” Margarita – Premium “Patron Silver” tequila, Blue Curacao, and lime mix rimmed with cactus/lemon grass salt $12.50. Delicious! Since I was in the vacation frame of mind, I was willing to pay $12.50. I have to say that I loved the Lime Margarita $8.99 just as much. I wouldn’t want you to think I am a lush. I partook in one margarita per night so that I could evaluate each concoction fairly. Bottom Line – Lime is my favorite. They are all worth a try. These flavors are also available for $8.99: Strawberry, Mango, & Fiesta Margarita – combination of lime, strawberry, mango & kiwi.
3. Yogurt Parfait at the Beach Club Marketplace: Have I lost credibility with you? Let me tell you what I love about this. First, it’s made to order. You can get any combination of fresh berries that suits your fancy and as much of their delicious yogurt that you like. The real reason that I love this so much is the granola. It is, hands down, the best granola that I have ever had in my life. The combination of nuts, oats, seeds, and sugar is mouth watering. I promise you this is not a health food. It may be masquerading as one, but it is dessert in a cup available from 7 a.m. – 11a.m. Try, try, try it – you’ll be hooked too.
2. No Way Jose at Beaches & Cream – A Peanut Butter and Hot Fudge Delight with Chocolate and Vanilla Ice Cream, Peanut Butter and Chocolate Morsels, Whipped Cream and a Cherry $7.99. Need I say more? This is large enough for 2-4 people to share. “No Way Jose” represents everything that is wonderful about a Reese’s Peanut Butter cup and takes it to a new level.
1. Pineapple Dole Whip & Dole Whip Float at Aloha Isle: If you are new to Disney World, this is a must try snack. This smooth and creamy frozen treat is like none other. The combination of sweet and slightly tart along with the coolness makes Dole Whip a refreshing treat. Because I love pineapple juice, the float is my favorite. Either way you can’t go wrong. Dole Whip is also available at Capt. Cook’s at the Polynesian at a self serve machine.
I would love to hear about your favorite treats at Walt Disney World.
You can follow me on Twitter @Caroline251
by Guest Author
on June 21, 2010
Guest Blogger Ryan Kilpatrick started his life long love of Disney when he visited Walt Disney World with his grandparents in 1982, just a week after Epcot opened, and got his picture in Communicore printed in Southern Living magazine. Since then, he’s drafted his wife and kids into the mix! Between Disney trips he started his blog, The Disney Film Project, where he is starting the adventure of watching all the Disney shorts and features in chronological order. You can find him on his blog or on Twitter.
Let me take you back to 2001 – I was a poor guy, just moved to Atlanta, working a dead end job that took a lot of my time and paid very little money. I just bought a house, had a new son, and was trying to make ends meet. But the whole time, I kept my Disney obsession healthy by listening to Mouse World Radio or reading Disney sites. But I just couldn’t find the time to take a full vacation down to the World.
I’m sure many of you know what I’m talking about. You read the Unofficial Guide or you listen to podcasts, and you think to yourself, “Gosh, I’d love to go to Disney World, but I don’t have the time or money to stay for 4 days or more.” My solution was simple – make it a practice to just go down for the weekend, experience what I could, and be sure to come back. In other words, to have a Disney Weekend.
It started in Thanksgiving of 2001 with my wife and 11 month old son, and continues to this day, with my daughter joining the fun. In fact, my son and I just did a Disney Weekend the first weekend in June.
We focus so often in the Disney community on all the different things to do at the parks and resorts, that it’s easy to get overwhelmed. Having a weekend only trip is an automatic fix for that. Since you know you only have the one weekend, you focus on the things you really want to do.
There are lots of advantages to the Disney Weekend. My favorite is that you can go more often. Taking 1 or 2 days off a year to take 3 or 4 Disney trips is a lot easier than taking off five or more days for a longer trip. Also, you can talk some reticent Disney travelers into going with you. If there’s someone you want to go with you to the World, but you can’t convince them, it’s not that hard to have them give you a weekend to try it out. We did that with my parents and in-laws, and now they join us regularly.
Since we go fairly often, we’ve taken to giving our weekends a theme. For example, the last one the whole family went on was Halloween themed. We went down for Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party one night, then spent the next day doing all the “scary” attractions like Haunted Mansion and Tower of Terror.
But we’ve done a whole bunch more. For many years, we always did the Christmas trip, where we did Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party on a Friday night, then spent the next day doing the Epcot Holidays Around the World, seeing the decorations at the resorts, and finishing the day at the Osborne Family Spectacle of Lights.
One spring, we decided that we would go down and do a Western themed weekend. We stayed at Fort Wilderness, hit Hoop Dee Doo on Friday night, then spent the next day doing all the Frontierland attractions, rode the Great Movie Ride and got hijacked by the bank robber (after a couple tries) before finishing up the day with dinner at Whispering Canyon followed by smores and a movie at Fort Wilderness.
Our most recent attempt, by my son and I, was the infamous four parks in one day challenge. He had gone to spend the week in Jacksonville with friends of ours, and I had to stay back in Atlanta to work. But, since he had one of the Give A Day, Get A Day tickets, and I had my Annual Pass, I decided to surprise him with a day at the World.
I drove down Friday night after work, and spent the night with our friends. I woke him up at 6 a.m. on Saturday and told him the news, and away we went. When I asked him what attractions he wanted to see, he said, “Tower of Terror, Expedition Everest, Splash Mountain, Big Thunder Mountain and Spaceship Earth.”
I took a deep breath. “You realize that means all four parks in one day?”
He smiled. “Why not?”
Why not? indeed! We made our plans, and following the rules of 3 attractions in each park (as set out by the WDW Today crew), we added the rule of having a snack or meal in each park as well. Here’s what we did:
Studios – Star Tours, Great Movie Ride, Tower of Terror – Éclair for a snack
AK – Everest FP, Safaris, lunch at Tusker House, Primeval Whirl, Triceratop Spin, the Boneyard
Epcot – Spaceship Earth, Mission Space, Ellen’s Energy Adventure (nap!), Journey Into Imagination, ice cream from Fountainview, and Test Track (single rider)
Magic Kingdom – Jungle Cruise, Pirates, Big Thunder, Splash, burger from Cosmic Ray’s, Buzz, TTA and the Mad Tea Party, before settling in for the fireworks.
Whew! It was a long day, but an extremely fun one. Not all the weekends we’ve done were that busy, but you can see it was a great way to spend a weekend. What are your ideas for great Disney Weekends in or out of the parks? What themed weekend would you want to try?
by Recent News
on June 20, 2010
Episode 736 of WDW Today is now available for download here. Join TouringPlans.com owner Len Testa as co-host for a podcast that features many Walt Disney World travel planning tips!
One-click subscriptions to WDW Today:
by Katie Siloac
on June 18, 2010
Not only is Disney the perfect place to enjoy a dole whip or Mickey bar before 10:oo AM, it is also a photographer’s dream. We recently started the TouringPlans Flickr pool and we can’t believe all of the amazing photos we’ve received there! Truly outstanding!
We thought it might be fun to feature some themed photos here on the blog for many Disney fans to see! Perhaps it will encourage you to pick up the lens and capture those special moments! This week we are featuring some fantastically unique shots of Cinderella Castle. The artists (and yes we definitely mean artists) are all featured on the site and have submitted many other gems as well so check out their individual Flickr profiles!
Photo by scottoliver on Flickr
Photo by shoppnmom on Flickr
Photo by grmgrnngghst on Flickr
Photo by Don Sullivan on Flickr
Photo by Lorem_Ipsum on Flickr
Beautiful, aren’t they? Where is your favorite spot to grab the perfect shot of the castle? Check out our discussion on the Flickr site and please let us know!
Next week we’ll be featuring shots of the Fountain of Nations in Epcot! Do you have the perfect one? Join our Flickr site to submit photos and perhaps you’ll be featured! You can also leave some comments here of your photography secrets at Disney. Hope you’ll join in the fun!
by Recent News
on June 17, 2010
Episode 735 of WDW Today is now available for download here. Join TouringPlans.com owner Len Testa as co-host for a podcast that features many Walt Disney World travel planning tips!
One-click subscriptions to WDW Today:
by Todd Perlmutter
on June 17, 2010
Each day that we visit the parks is a day full of decisions: what park we’re going to, what clothes to wear, where to eat, etc. And one of the biggest decisions you’ll make each visit is what you’ll be carrying with you into the park that day and how you’ll be carrying it. This might seem like small potatoes in the grand scheme of things, but it can really change your day. For example, your child got a cut, do you have an adhesive bandage? Or maybe it starts raining, did you bring a poncho? Or you’re doing an Ultimate Touring Plan, did you remember some protein bars so you don’t have to stop to eat? A charger or extra batteries for your cell phone. Do you have enough room for everything?
Mmmm... Carrot Cake Cookie
The items we need in the parks are as diverse as we are, and so are the bags we carry them in. With the help of this past Sunday’s TouringPlans meet attendees, I wanted to touch on the variety of the bags that we take with us into the parks. Thanks to everyone at the meet who was willing to pose for me and show of their park bags, or lack thereof. You all earned your treats! Now lets take a look at their bags.
There are a number of reasons why a person might consider not bringing a bag into the parks. For some it starts right at the front gate with the security bag check points. If having a bag means going through security and having their stuff touched by strangers, then some people would rather go bagless. Others just don’t want to waste those precious moments at security when they could be halfway to their favorite attraction. But security isn’t the only reason for this, some people just don’t like the feel of the strap of a bag on their shoulder weighing them down. Or they associate the carrying of a bag with work or school and they don’t want to be reminded of either while on vacation. A little freedom from burden while traipsing through the parks can go a long way toward rest and relaxation.
Small & Simple
Maybe there’s just a few simple “must haves” while you’re in the park. These things may be too big and bulky for pockets, but would leave a larger pack mostly empty. Perhaps you don’t like carrying things in your pockets or you have no pockets at all. This can range from a small woman’s purse, to a small shoulder bag, to the infamous “fanny” pack. Or maybe just a camera in a simple camera case. The point is that there are things you need to have with you, but there’s not a lot of those things so you need something small and compact to carry them in. And because it doesn’t hold a lot, it also doesn’t weigh a lot. It’s almost the same as going bagless, but with the stop at security. Otherwise, these bags won’t slow you down.
Single shoulder courier bags (a.k.a., mailbags or satchels) are common in the parks and they come in varying shapes and sizes all their own. These generally have a sporty flip open front that has a securing mechanism of some sort for keeping the bag from opening at the wrong time. Underneath you’ll find anywhere from 1 to 3 slotted compartments that are great for carrying things like a notebook, netbook, or iPad. It’s the perfect bag for storing your Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World as the pockets will help keep it nice, flat, and protected. It’s also one of the easiest bags to work with while walking as you can just swing it around to your front to fiddle with the contents. These bags often have water bottle pouches on either end. If you love organization and convenience of use, this bag is for you.
In the days of the wild west, saddlebags were the preferred method of carrying items for those who rode horseback. Originally consisting of two bags connected together by a length of material (leather, wool, etc.) they would be slung over a horses back. More recently these bags have made a resurgence, but in a slightly modified form. Instead of having two bags, they now have one, and the length of material has been replaced with a shoulder strap. While the mode of carrying is very similar to the Courier, the storage structure is very different. Generally this consists of 1 or 2 very large and very deep, almost cavernous, pockets where you can just toss in your stuff quickly and move on out to whatever lies ahead on your journey. There may also be a smaller zipper pouch for a wallet or keys, and maybe even a pouch for a water bottle. When you’re on the move this bag moves with you.
This is your standard issue backpack, the kind you’ve seen a thousand times before. These come in all shapes and sizes but the thing that sets them apart is the straps, two – this allows for flexibility. You can use one strap if you need the quick grab and go feel of a Courier or a Saddlebag, or if you want to distribute the weight of a heavier load use both straps – one on each shoulder. These bags usually have 2 or more large pouches, 1 or more small pouches, and slots for 1 or more water bottles. You’ve got plenty of space for stuff, and plenty of places to organize that stuff into. The only downside is more space generally means you’ll carry and buy more stuff, and, if you do, you’ll be glad to have those two straps.
You have great pride in your pictures and love to take them – your camera is always at your side. With that camera can come a lot of gear: lenses, tripods, batteries, memory cards, etc. And you’ll need a place to store it all. These bags exist in all shapes and sizes, but often come with highly structured organizational compartments capable of storing a camera and all it’s accouterments. These bags aren’t just about storage, they also offer protection for the items stored inside as the compartments are often cushioned or foam lined. With one of these on your shoulder your camera will be well taken care of.
Proud Parent Packin’
You’re a parent, you’ve got your kid(s) with you, and in addition to your stuff, you need their stuff as well (diapers, bottles, food, snacks, etc.). And most importantly, you need a place to put all of it and them. For you, a stroller is the only way to travel. And I’m not talking about the ones you rent from the parks, oh no. I’m talking about the ones that are a veritable bonanza of storage space. They’ve got pockets on the top, baskets on the bottom. Cup holders for the “driver”, and ones down below for the kids. Any bags you’ve got can get stored underneath, hooked on the push bar, etc. It’s amazing just how much a stroller can store. I don’t have kids, but when I see strollers I get jealous of the respite they bring from slinging around a backpack.
So as you can see, the bags we carry into the parks come in many different shapes and sizes according to our needs. What about you? What are your needs? What are those essential items you must have with you? What sort of bag do you carry into the parks? Are you looking for a new bag? Thanks for reading!
The post is part of the Sixth DisMarks.com Disney Blog Carnival; click on the link for more great Disney articles.
by Recent News
on June 16, 2010
by Kristen Helmstetter
on June 16, 2010
With the first official day of summer just around the corner I thought I’d take the opportunity to share some hot weather packing and touring ideas. If there’s one thing to know about Walt Disney World during the summer months it’s that its HOT! Being prepared for for the dog days of summer can make all the difference between enjoying your vacation and being miserable. First, let’s take a look at some things to bring with you on your trip to make your trip more pleasant.
First and foremost, do not leave home without sunscreen. As far as concerned there is no debate on this issue. Everyone has their own preferences for in terms of SPF, but having protection is essential. I generally will pack a larger bottle in my checked bag and then have a small travel sized one to carry around in the parks to reapply. Reapplying the lotion is also key to preventing sunburn and discomfort. Every few hours dab a little more onto your face and other exposed areas. Nothing is worse than a really bad sunburn on vacation! If you have forgotten your sunblock it can be found in the gift shops in Disney resorts as well as retail areas in the parks. However, the price they charge is ridiculous and the selection will be limited so try to bring your own.
Be sure to wear light colored clothes. Dark colors absorb the sun’s heat and will only make you more uncomfortable. However, I’d stay away from white (especially for the girls out there) because there is a good chance you will get wet during your day in the parks. Just think of how embarrassing and uncomfortable to unload from Splash Mountain and realize your shirt is now totally transparent? I also recommend lighter weight clothes for your summer time vacation; think khaki over denim.
Also, when considering what to pack don’t forget a hat. You would not believe what a difference covering your head makes. Don’t worry, you don’t have to wear one all day and get hat hair! If you keep one in your bag you can pop it on when you start afternoon heat. Simply putting on a hat can shade your face and scalp from sunburn and provide a bit of relief from the rising temperatures.
Another must have for every member of your party is a poncho. Summer thunderstorms are almost guaranteed daily in the Orlando area. It’s best to be prepared for these short downpours by tucking a poncho into your bag in the parks. Disney sells them all over property, but those folks looking to pinch pennies can find them elsewhere for much less money. It’s worth noting Disney Parks ponchos are usually only displayed when it looks like a storm is coming or it’s actually raining. Don’t be afraid to ask the cast members behind cash registers to sell you a poncho; they’ll be happy to oblige!
Here’s a few tips for the ladies heading to Disney World. For starters go easy on the make up. With lathering on sunscreen and sweating like crazy all day its just going to get gross. I really love using Burt’s Bees colored chap stick in the parks. They are small tubes that will easily fit in a pocket, have SPF protection, and just provide a little color for your pout. It’s a great no fuss way to not feel totally unmade up. I’m also a fan of using waterproof mascara. You never know when you are going to wet between rides like Kali River Rapids and a sudden summer downpour, and who wants a photo in front of Cinderella Castle with eye makeup streaming down your face? Also, make sure to be well supplied in hair elastics or whatever your method might be to put your hair up.
And now let’s take a look at some touring strategies to make your trip fun despite the heat. The best thing you can do is get yourself out of bed and get to the parks before opening. Be on hand when the cast members start allowing guests through the turn styles. First of all it is cooler early in the morning so you will be more comfortable hoofing it around a park. Secondly, most people do not opt to get out of bed early in the morning so the parks are much less crowded. Try to see some of the most popular rides before the crowds swell and then high tail it out of the park in the early afternoon. Head back to your resort for a nice break including maybe a nap or dip in the pool. This way you will miss the heaviest crowds and the highest heat levels in the mid and late afternoon. Head back to the park later to hit some of the attractions you skipped in the morning, have a nice dinner (preferably in air conditioning), and take in the evening entertainment. If your group is staying on Disney property take advantage of the evening extra magic hours to beat the heat too.
My other early morning suggestion is to take as many of your group pictures as possible in the morning before the heat and the inevitable afternoon storm hits. This way you and your family can look comfortable and not sweat stained in front of the castle in your scrapbook. As an added bonus, you’ll have fewer folks milling around in the background since the parks are less crowded at that hour.
I can’t emphasize the importance of staying hydrated while touring! Make sure you drink plenty of water and snack from time to time. Bottles of water are available throughout Disney property. However, if your group gets a rental car I suggest stopping at a grocery store to grab a case of water. This is a much more economical way to stave off heat exhaustion and you can pick up some snacks, forgotten toiletries, or whatever else suits your fancy. I’m always sure to drink a ton of water at WDW because I know how my body reacts to heat. On a September trip one year I thought I had been drinking enough, but I did not eat enough. I thought I was going to pass out in Mitsukoshi Department Store in the Japan Pavilion. Lesson learned! After having a little nibble and some advil I was back in action.
If you do find yourself feeling a bit under the weather due to the oppressive heat, do not hesitate to pay a visit to the first aid stations. All of the parks have these facilities and can be found on your park map. The few times I have had to use them for minor injuries (they treat a lot of blisters) the cast members could not have been nicer and more helpful. They are there to help guests with all sorts of ailments. They see dehydration all of the time and will know exactly what to do to help you feel better or determine if your case is too severe for them to handle and will arrange transportation to the hospital. Please do not ignore your symptoms if you are feeling dehydrated!
Another thing to do is to seek air conditioning. Having a long table service lunch, for example, will allow you to cool off while being waited on during the hot afternoon hours. Many attractions offer a respite from the heat as well. Take in one of the films in World Showcase, feel patriotic at the Hall of Presidents in the Magic Kingdom, or just keep swimming at Finding Nemo: the Musical at the Animal Kingdom. The time off your feet and out of the sun will do you wonders. Shows and longer attractions are also great to hit during that mid afternoon thunderstorm. By the time the attraction is over you might have just missed the summer shower.
Also, why not take a day to explore one of the Disney World water parks? Typhoon Lagoon and Blizzard Beach are great places to spend a hot summer day. The same early rising rule applies with the water parks. The lines for various slides will be much shorter early in the morning. So get there early, get your locker, and get sliding! Later in the afternoon you can rest in the lazy river or float in the wave pool when the crowds start to increase. Or if you are on a tighter budget, take one day to relax around your resort’s pool. Many of the Disney resorts have well themed pools complete with slides.
Now that I’ve shared my ideas for surviving the Florida heat, what are some of your ways to stay cool? Please share them so others can benefit if they are heading to WDW this summer!
For more tips and tricks for touring in the heat check out this episode of WDWtoday!
Next week I’ll take a look at a fan favorite restaurant at Disney’s Hollywood Studios…