Archive for December, 2012

New Characters Added to Disney Junior – Live on Stage

by on December 19, 2012

A few days ago, we let you know that Disney Junior – Live on Stage would be seeing a month long refurb. Now we know why.

Newer characters, Doc McStuffins and Sophia the First are going to be added to the show that is found at Disney’s Hollywood Studios in the Animation Courtyard. These characters will join Mickey Mouse Clubhouse and Jake and the Neverland Pirates as part of the live show. (Being removed from the show are the Little Einsteins and Handy Manny.)

The new version is scheduled to debut on February 15.

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Coping with Holiday Crowds at Disney World

by on December 19, 2012

It’s that time of year again. While many of us are running around trying to buy last minute gifts and planning our Christmas dinners, thousands of people are completing the last minute details before they make their way to Disney World to celebrate this festive time of year and perhaps ring in the New Year. The biggest crowds of the year can be found during the weeks around Christmas and New Years when the Magic Kingdom often experiences phased closures and it can be difficult to make your way around the parks. Fear not! I am here this week to offer some great advce on how to cope with this chaotic time of year. To make your holiday vacation enjoyable you must be proactive. Here are some ideas to get your prepared:

Photo by Heather Winfield

Get there early: If you plan to tour a Disney park during this time of year it is very important to arrive at the gate well before the scheduled opening time. We preach about rope drop all of the time here at TouringPlans.com, but it is especially good advice during the holiday rush. We recommend arriving at the parks at least an hour before the scheduled opening. Being among the first guests into the park will allow you to get several attractions done before queues stretch out for hours. Heading straight to headliner attractions like Space Mountain or Soarin’ first thing in the morning may be your only shot at getting a FASTPASS or riding without a huge line. When I visited Disney World during President’s Day last year (the second busiest time in the parks) my family was completely overwhelmed by the crowds when we strolled into the Magic Kingdom at around 2 p.m. It was our arrival day so it couldn’t be helped, but it set them into a panic. They were very pleasantly surprised when we got to the parks early on the remaining days and found everything to be much more manageable.

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My Experience as a FastPass+ Tester

by on December 19, 2012

I made an all too brief visit to Walt Disney World this past weekend with my husband. About two weeks prior to our departure for this trip, I received a surprise FastPass+ tester invitation in the mail. The “welcome” letter included two standard plastic cards which were imprinted with our names and a square QR code box. We were directed to a website where we could use our resort reservation number to sign up for FastPass+ use.

The test took place at the Magic Kingdom and Disney’s Hollywood Studios. We were directed to choose one of these parks on each of the two nights of our stay. I chose our arrival day Friday December 14 for DHS and Saturday 15 for the Magic Kingdom. We were offered a list of several attractions and allowed to choose a limited number to reserve with the FastPass+. We were presented with four sample time configurations, but had the ability to go in later and tinker with the timing. In practice, this felt very much like making a meal reservation.

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WDW Park Hours Updated for January

by on December 18, 2012

The Disney World park hours were recently updated for the month of January 2013, with operating hours extended for the Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Disney’s Hollywood Studios, and Disney’s Animal Kingdom. There are now a handful of days where the Magic Kingdom is open later with a second Main Street Electrical Parade added.

Hollywood Studios also had quite a few days changed, and will now stay open until 9 or 10pm occasionally. Those days will also see an additional showing of Fantasmic!. Animal Kingdom had many closing times adjusted as well.

The chart below shows all current park hours with changes in red.

You may notice changes to our Crowd Calendar involving some of the changed dates. We recently began using our own internal projected park hours to give you the most accurate crowd ratings available. Using these projected hours has made our long-term crowd ratings more stable, but we are not perfect (well, some of us). Should any major changes occur to our Crowd Calendar, I will update this post with explanations. If you have questions, please feel free to post them in the comments below.

One period that may change is the first few days of the new year. While we expected larger crowds still hanging around from the holidays, the very late hours for the Magic Kingdom and the 3 Fantasmic shows on the 1st and 2nd indicate even higher crowds are expected. If you are going to be there during that time, make sure you get to the park before it opens and use a Touring Plan.

One last important point regarding evening Extra Magic Hours (EMH): Starting on January 4, with an Epcot EMH, Extra Magic Hours will only last for 2 hours in the evening rather than the previous 3. That means that Epcot will remain open to Disney resort guests from 9pm until 11pm on that particular evening.

If you are curious about how Disney updates their park hours, check out this blog post. Thanks for using Touring Plans!

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Royal Guest Rooms at Port Orleans Riverside: A Review

by on December 18, 2012

In April of 2011, Disney announced Royal Guest Rooms at Port Orleans Riverside Resort. The initial announcement stated that:

“The story behind these lush rooms is that Princess Tiana (“The Princess and the Frog”) invited some of her royal pals…for a vacation getaway. Princes and princesses of all ages can enjoy their luxurious lodging quarters…”

As expected, many reading the above description anticipated a girly princess explosion. I was personally unsure as to what these Royal Rooms would be like but, as a grown man, I was not as excited about a princess themed room as some others. One “other” that was profoundly more interested in such a theme was my four year old daughter. Therefore I bit the (perceived) sparkly bullet and booked a few nights in a Port Orleans Riverside Royal Guest Room.

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Couple of Refurbishments at Disney’s Hollywood Studios

by on December 17, 2012

Over at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, a few attractions will be seeing some refreshing.

First, Beauty and the Beast – Live on Stage will have a very quick refurbishment from January 7 – January 11.

Another attraction that will be seeing a refurb is Disney Junior – Live on Stage.  The show will be down for a month, starting January 14 and ending February 14.

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Last Week at Disneyland Resort (12/9/2012 – 12/15/2012)

by on December 17, 2012

All photos copyright Disney

Looking to take a quiet stroll around the Disneyland Resort to check out the Christmas decor? Better get there quickly, because the busiest season the Anaheim resort has seen in years is rapidly approaching with the winter solstice! And while you're add it, be sure to take a spin on the “wildest ride in the wilderness” while you still can…

Crowd Calendar

Quietest Day: Tuesday 12/11 was a 3 out of 10 at the resort, with 2.6 at Disneyland, and 2.0 at DCA.

Busiest Day: Saturday 12/15 was an 8 out of 10 at the resort, with a 8.1 at Disneyland, and 5.0 at DCA.

Subscribe to the Touring Plans Disneyland Crowd Calendar for full details on predicted attendance for the next 30 days.

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TouringPlans.com Looking For New Disney World Bloggers

by on December 17, 2012

TouringPlans.com is looking for some new people to write about Walt Disney World in 2013.

We are looking for locals who visit often and have their own way to get into the parks. Pay is $10-$25 per post depending on the content and how much research is involved.

If you are interested please send a writing sample and a brief introduction to scarlett@touringplans.com.

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10 Ways Dining at Disneyland is Different than Dining at Walt Disney World

by on December 14, 2012

As I’ve discussed before, a vacation at Disneyland is different than a vacation at Walt Disney World.  I love both, and will continue to do both, but they are different.  One major thing that’s different at Disneyland is dining.  While there’s delicious food and restaurants on both coasts, there are some differences in the way you should approach dining at Disneyland.  I’ve talked before about some of the big differences.  Differences like:  advance dining reservations are no problem at Disneyland and don’t have to be planned months in advance; there’s no real dining plan at Disneyland; when you do make dining reservations at Disneyland, you only make them 60 days before your trip; you can email your dining requests; and there’s no booking advantage for onsite guests.  That alone is a pretty big list!  But here are a few more differences that you may want to consider when you’re planning.

1. No Confirmation Numbers – Disneyland doesn’t generally give you confirmation numbers.  At Disney World, those confirmation numbers are essential if you ever have a reservation go missing.  I always recommend people bring their confirmation numbers with them when in Florida.  At Disneyland, your confirmation number is your last name.  Recently, there was one interesting change to this.  If you make a dining reservation by email, Disney will send you a confirmation number.  I was so surprised the first time I got one!  It’s a short combination of numbers and letters unlike the 12 digit numbers you get at Disney World, but a confirmation number nonetheless.  Still, don’t expect a confirmation number when you call for dining reservations at Disneyland!

2. No Credit Card Guarantees – Nowadays at Disney World, several restaurants require a credit card number to hold a dining reservation.  And, if you don’t cancel outside of a certain time period, you will pay a penalty.  That’s not necessarily a bad thing.  In fact, it’s helped make it easier to get into some very popular restaurants because guests either aren’t making multiple reservations when they’re not sure where they want to eat, or they’re actually cancelling reservations they know they won’t use.  The downside is that’s a pretty hard and fast rule, and Disney doesn’t tend to make exceptions for late cancellations, even for perfectly valid reasons like illness.  True to form, Disneyland takes a much more relaxed approach, even at its more popular restaurants.  No credit card guarantees or cancellation fees.

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101 Ways to Propose at Walt Disney World

by on December 12, 2012

You’re in love! You want it to last forever and ever! You’re going to propose! You want to make it special! What to do? Propose at Walt Disney World!

While there are no real statistics about how many people get engaged at Disney World each year, my personal guesstimate is “lots and lots.” (Hey, I said there were no firm statistics.) I’ve personally seen five WDW proposals (all as a bystander) and we’ve answered hundreds of “How do I propose at Disney World?” questions on the Walt Disney World Moms Panel. In conversations with cast at the Grand Floridian’s posh Victoria & Albert’s restaurant, I’ve learned that they typically host several proposals each week, at that location alone.

Obviously many people have found great joy through their Disney betrothments, but before you start hatching your plan there are few things you may want to consider:

  • Does your intended truly love Disney (as much as she loves you)? You don’t want to inadvertently link your eternal happiness to something she finds unpleasant, or even just meh.
  • Will you or your intended mind having an audience for your proposal? Walt Disney World is a busy place, even relatively secluded spots may have other people nearby.
  • Are there costs involved with a Disney proposal that you would not encounter if you had proposed elsewhere? Would you be better off saving those pennies for the wedding, honeymoon, or other more practical purpose.

Assuming you’ve thought it through and decided that a Disney proposal is the perfect way to start your happily ever after, here are 101 ideas to help you brainstorm the perfect proposition. When deciding which route to take, be sure to take your beloved’s personality and interests into consideration. Some of these suggestions are sweet, some are silly, some are splashy (figuratively and literally), some are inexpensive, some are pricey, but any of them will be perfect if she answers, “YES!”

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