Archive for August, 2012

Exploring Disney’s Paradise Pier Hotel

by on August 31, 2012

When I think of Disney-owned hotels at Disneyland, the two that come to mind are the Disneyland Hotel and the flagship Grand Californian. But Disney does own a third hotel that is not as glamorous. I’ve never stayed in the Paradise Pier Hotel, so recently I decided to take a look around the hotel and familiarize myself with what it has to offer. And by “I decided” I actually mean “Len told me to.”

History

The hotel opened in 1984 on the lot located south of the Disneyland Hotel and west of the original Disneyland parking lot. Rooms facing the west were originally treated to a view of the 100 acre parking lot. Disney didn’t always own and operate this hotel. The Tokyu Group were the original owners and it was known as Emerald of Anaheim. The hotel was renamed again in 1989 to Pan Pacific hotel. Disney finally purchased the hotel and all the surrounding land in 1995 and renamed it Disneyland Pacific Hotel. In 2000 Disney renamed it to its current name, Disney’s Paradise Pier Hotel, in preparation for the opening of the new theme park known as Disney’s California Adventure. It also received new themeing to match the land in DCA which it overlooked. Even though the hotel opened before DCA had its grand opening, several pieces of concept art from the new park could be seen throughout the hotel (most of these have since been removed or replaced by concept art showing the updated elements of Disney California Adventure).

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The Pitfalls Of New “Immersion”

by on August 31, 2012

Earlier this week I was listening to Lou Mongello’s excellent interview with Tony Baxter. This interview was fairly refreshing; I’ve met Mr. Baxter before, and even with creepy, random fans like me he’s a relatively no-nonsense guy who doesn’t speak with PR-driven restraint. (I’m looking at you, Test Track chat!) At one point in the interview, Mr. Baxter made the comment that he disliked the new digitally-driven changes to queues and attractions being referred to as more immersive and interactive (I’m paraphrasing based upon memory–listen to the interview yourself for the precise quote) than past experiences. To him, the most interactive experience in the parks is the Jungle Cruise. This is something with which I whole-heartedly agree, and not just about the Jungle Cruise. A great number of Disney attractions are interactive, as any attraction that places the guest in the midst of the experience is an interactive attraction. These fully encapsulating interactive attractions of the past like Jungle Cruise, Horizons, or even Tower of Terror actually execute on the premise of interactive entertainment better than the “touch random screens and press buttons” style of new interactive. At least in my opinion.

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Disneyland Top 5: Locations for Toddlers to Run Wild!

by on August 30, 2012

Ever the cognizant mother, I don’t want to spoil the magic for anyone by having a shrieking toddler in a line or a ride or a restaurant. So I’ve come up with a list of the top 5 places I take my son to burn off all that extra energy at Disneyland and Disney California Adventure.

5. Mickey’s House – Mickey’s Toontown in Disneyland

There is air conditioning and giant furniture for kids to play on! It’s a whimsical house for toddler to play in, while heading towards meeting the Big Cheese. You can play on Mickey’s piano, help Mickey wash his laundry and answer Mickey’s phone! What more could a kid ask for? Did I mention the air conditioning?? You can let your kids run through the house for a break from the heat in the summer and at the end of the house wait in line to meet Mickey! It’s a great place for kids to explore.

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Adding Under the Sea – Voyage of the Little Mermaid to a Tweens Magic Kingdom Touring Plan

by on August 30, 2012

Note: If you’re interested in adapting this touring plan for your family’s visit, you can use our free Disney World touring plan software to create your own version.  No subscription or download is required.  Your plan can include different attractions, character greetings, an afternoon break, sit-down meals and more.

We’ve updated our Magic Kingdom touring plans for the November 19, 2012, opening of Under the Sea – Voyage of the Little Mermaid.  Today’s blog post describes how we’ve incorporated Under the Sea into our one-day Magic Kingdom Tweens touring plan.

We expect Under the Sea to be extremely popular from opening day through the end of the year, with peak waits of perhaps 90 to 150 minutes during its first month of operation.  Under the Sea should settle down to peak waits of 30 to 60 minutes in 2013.  That would follow the pattern set by DCA’s Little Mermaid, which had a month of 75- to 90-minute waits when it opened in June 2011, before settling down to peak waits of 15 to 30 minutes in July.  It’s true that the Magic Kingdom gets somewhere between 2.5 and 3 times as many guests as DCA, but I don’t think Under the Sea’s waits will be 2.5 to 3 times as long.  Other than opening weekend (maybe), I don’t expect many families to stand in line for 3 or 4 hours just to experience this one attraction; there’s a point at which parents or kids will balk at those waits, especially with so many other great rides in the Magic Kingdom.

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A Disney World Parade Primer

by on August 29, 2012

Disney trips planners often go to great lengths to arrange their days to include a parade viewing: scoping out a spot, camping out on the curb, and repeatedly asking cast members the well worn question, “What time is the 3 o’clock parade?”

Mickey and Minnie always celebrate in the parades.

While there may be good reason for some guests to plan their time around some parades, other guests might have a happier vacation if they work in a few more rides, or a nice long nap, during the parading part of the day. To help make your decision process as smoodge easier, here’s a handy dandy run down on the Walt Disney World parade situation.

How many different parades are there at Walt Disney World?

Well, it depends on what exactly you count as a parade, but currently there are four regular parades, plus the special parades at Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party and Very Merry Christmas Party. I’m leaving the Magic Kingdom’s Move It, Shake It, Celebrate It! Street Party off the list because, while it is paradesque, it mostly ends up being stationary.

Can you describe what each parade is like?

I’ll do my best…

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A Disney Vet’s First Trip to Disneyland

by on August 29, 2012

If you’ve been reading the TouringPlans.com Blog over the last few months you may have noticed I was planning my very first trip to Disneyland. This week I’m here to report my trip to have been a great success! All of that planning paid off and I had a wonderful time in California. There is so much to say about my first trip west, but I’ll try to keep it within reason. So without further ado here is an overview of my trip:

First thing was first and I had to purchase my park ticket. I opted to buy the Premier Pass since I will make good use of it on both coasts. A great perk of being an annual passholder at the Disneyland Resort is discounts on nearly everything! I was able to get a percentage off on food as well as merchandise in almost every location throughout the resort. This was one of the difference between Disneyland and Disney World I really enjoyed, as you might imagine. I also really appreciated cast members asking if I had an annual pass every time I paid for something whereas I always have to ask for my discount in applicable locations in Florida.

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Looking Over the WDW September 2012 Crowd Calendar

by on August 28, 2012

September should be one of 2012′s least busy months at Walt Disney World.  Here’s a quick view of Walt Disney World’s September 2012 Crowd Calendar.

And here are a few specific days that I would like to bring to your attention:

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Why I Love Disney’s Thrill Rides

by on August 28, 2012

One thing you should know about me, probably one of the most important things, is that I have a serious obsession with adrenaline rushes. You can’t put me on a roller coaster that’s too high or too fast. The sky is truly the limit for me. Heck, I’ve even experienced North America’s tallest, fastest, and longest zip line which was 600 feet high in the mountains! Yeah! Talk about intensity! On top of that, I grew up near a very famous “roller coast” amusement park that’s known for always upping the bar in extreme thrills.

Given my fascination with any ride that is insanely exhilarating, you’d probably think that I’d find the thrill rides at Disney World a little dull. You couldn’t be more wrong. In fact, Disney World houses some of my absolute favorite thrills in the country. Let’s take a look at Disney World’s most fantastic thrill rides and what you can expect should you brave any of them.

First of all, what sets Disney apart from virtually every other theme/amusement park with thrill rides is that Disney actually creates a story and a theme for each attraction. Starting in the queue, Disney’s goal is to transform you to another place and perhaps another time to better immerse you in the story of the attraction. Using things like unique cast member costumes, music, lighting effects, props, and often a pre-show, Disney helps sets the mood for your adventure. Not many other theme parks can say that go that far simply because most of the time, their goal is to push the limits of engineering and they often ignore pushing the limits of the human mind and senses. Each Disney thrill ride is not suitable for each and every guest that walks in the gate. What one person might enjoy, another person could be absolutely miserable experiencing.

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WDW Park Hours: What to Expect in December

by on August 28, 2012

Here at TouringPlans.com we spend a lot of time honing our predictions to make our Crowd Calendar the most accurate available. One of the many methods we employ is projecting park hours for all of Disney’s Florida theme parks. You may be wondering why we bother since Disney World publishes its park hours for all to see. Well, Disney does not always make things easy (as outlined here).

The published hours are available for the next six months (currently through March), but they are simply preliminary hours. Disney doesn’t create an operational schedule for its employees that far in advance. Using things like hotel occupancy rates and dining reservations, Disney reviews all hours for a given month approximately two weeks prior to the start of that month (for instance, October’s adjusted hours should be released on or around September 17) and makes changes to its park hours.

How often are park hours changed two weeks before the start of a month? This post will give you idea of what to expect when December hours are adjusted. And the chart below shows what the final park hours were for Walt Disney World in December 2011.

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Disney’s PhotoPass Plus Review

by on August 27, 2012

I mentioned in a previous post that our recent trip to Disneyland was our first occasion to try out the new PhotoPass Plus service that Disney has begun offering. I can say without hesitation that if you are headed to Disneyland for longer than 3 days, this is absolutely worth your money. If you prepay, it’s only $69.99 plus taxes and shipping, and you get an amazing amount of benefits. At Walt Disney World, it’s a little more complex, but I’ll explain.

Pictures like this were a common occurrence because of PhotoPass Plus

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