Archive for August, 2013

Night of Joy Returns To The Magic Kingdom This September

by on August 28, 2013

©Disney

©Disney

Christian Music artists will join together once again for the 31st annual Night of Joy. This hard ticketed event will take place at Magic Kingdom for two nights, Friday, September 6 and Saturday, September 7 from 7:30 p.m. – 1 a.m., nightly.

Eighteen superstars of both Christian Rock, as well as Gospel music, are scheduled to grace three different stages, ready to crank out their fantastic hits. Guests will be able to catch the musicians at the Cinderella Castle Forecourt Stage, the Galaxy Stage, and the Rockettower Plaza Stage, with multiple acts performing on them throughout the night.

Making Night of Joy history will be the joint performance of two legends, Steven Curtis Chapman and Michael W. Smith. The two will perform solo and then share the spotlight together for the first time in the event’s existence.

The schedule of events for the evening will be as follows:

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My Top 7 Personal Must-Do’s at Walt Disney World

by on August 28, 2013

Visiting the Walt Disney World Resort is always something special – whether you’re a local that can visit more than once a week, or a vacationer on the trip of a lifetime, there is always something new and exciting to see and do when you’re in the place where dreams come true!

Although many guests have their own bucket list of attractions to experience, meals to enjoy or shows to see, my personal must-do’s rotate more around the everyday experiences that make each trip special. Sure, I love screaming at the top of my lungs on Space Mountain just as much as choosing a special treat at the Confectionary, but if I had to narrow down what really defines a trip to Walt Disney World, it would be best described by this list:

#7: Conquer The Mountain Range

mountains

Big Thunder. Splash. Space. Expedition Everest. Each of these unique thrill rides is captivating and exciting in its own way, and no trip is complete without stepping up to the challenge of at least one of these majestic mountains. The best part about scaling these beauties is that you don’t need hiking boots or gear – just a healthy dose of adventure!

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Observations From The Universal Orlando Resort: August 27, 2013

by on August 28, 2013

Loews Royal Pacific Resort

Had a big weekend at the Universal Orlando Resort this past week and found out a couple interesting items along the way. To start off, I checked into the Loews Royal Pacific Resort on Friday and now I am completely convinced that it is pound for pound the best hotel at either Universal or Disney. This decision was made after a lot of consideration. I was really surprised at how much I enjoyed the Portofino Bay Hotel on Universal property, and I have several favorites over on the Disney side of the fence including Art of Animation, the Beach Club, and the Polynesian. What takes the Royal Pacific to the head of the class is the combination of its Disney Deluxe level of theming and feeling of relaxation, combined with the lower price point of a Disney Moderate and the near priceless amenities of having Universal Express Unlimited and being within walking distance to both Universal theme parks and CityWalk. It probably helps that Loews actually runs the hotel, as well, as its Star Service is among the best customer service I’ve seen at any hotel chain across the country.

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Disney Cruise Line: Get to Know the Planning Center

by on August 28, 2013

A key part of your Disney Cruise Line booking is the cruise Planning Center on the DCL website found at disneycruiseline.com/plan. You can only access the Planning Center with a reservation number – available after you’ve paid your deposit and gotten your confirmation email. In addition to the reservation number, you’ll also need to have access to the birth date of at least one member of your party.

The Planning Center Includes:
Screen Shot 2013-05-15 at 12.52.56 PM

  • The Reservation Summary Basic factual information such as your stateroom number; dining time assignment; names of the guests in your party; air transportation, ground transportation, and WDW hotel information, if you have booked any of these through Disney; trip itinerary, including ashore and on board times for port days. Remember that if your party has booked multiple staterooms, you will have multiple reservation numbers. In order reserve excursions or on board activities, you will need the correct reservation number for each member of your party and to be in the Planning Center for the correct stateroom.
  • My Cruise Activities. Descriptions of the port adventures and on board activities available during your sailing, including excursions, spa treatments, adult dining, child care, and more. After you’ve paid your cruise fee in full and as your travel date nears, this becomes the booking center for these items.

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El Rio del Tortilla Chips

by on August 27, 2013

Vegetarian Menu

Vegetarian Menu

By default, Mexican food is typically vegan friendly, and the menus in most Mexican restaurants are relatively simple to navigate. You can usually count on beans (but you’ll need to ask if they have been cooked with meat stock or seasonings), rice (you’ll have to ask if it’s cooked in chicken stock), guacamole (surprisingly, sometimes made with sour cream), and grilled vegetables (check to see if these guys were cooked in butter). So maybe Mexican food is not simple to navigate after all. Luckily, for those of you dining at San Angel Inn located in Epcot’s Mexico pavilion, I have some tips to offer!

Tortilla Chips!

Tortilla Chips!

First, get the tortilla chips with two types of salsa. Sometimes, tortilla chips make life worth living. I often like to request an order of guacamole, as an appetizer for chip dipping (it’s a chip ‘n’ dip…anyone?…anyone?). The guacamole comes with crunchy chips for dipping, and although I’m told they’re vegan, I’ve never been interested in them. I stick with the chips instead.

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Ask Jim Hill Episode 3: The Future of Disney’s Standalone Resorts

by on August 27, 2013

On this week’s episode of Ask Jim Hill, Len and Jim answer a viewer question about the future of Disney’s standalone resorts like Aulani and Hilton Head. Are they successful? Are there any plans for expansion?

New episodes will be posted every Tuesday, so be sure to subscribe on YouTube!

If you have a question about Disney or Universal history, you can submit it to AskJimHill@TouringPlans.com, and he may answer it on the air!

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The Magic, The Memories, and Merch! August 2013 Photo Report of the Disney Outlet Store

by on August 27, 2013

MMM_LogoWe all have our favorite stores in the Walt Disney World parks and resorts to get our fill of merchandise. Whether it’s Once Upon a Toy in Downtown Disney, Mouse Gear in Epcot, or the Ink & Paint Shop at the Art of Animation Resort, it’s not that hard finding a gift shop filled to the brim with the latest Disney vinylmation, t-shirts, and plushes. But did you know that there is a place where all the merchandise Disney has a hard time selling ends up? A magical store filled with discount prices and Disney-related items that even Guy Selga wouldn’t touch with a ten foot pole? Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you Orlando’s Disney Outlet Stores: Disney’s Character Warehouse.

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Disney’s PhotoPass Plus: What You Need To Know – Disneyland Edition

by on August 27, 2013

A few days ago, TouringPlans blog contributor (and my good friend) Krissy posted a fantastic article breaking down the information, costs and benefits of using PhotoPass+ during a trip to Walt Disney World. Inspired by her post, and my own trip to Disneyland last week, here is a look at some of the similarities and differences between the PhotoPass+ service at the Disneyland Resort.

As with PhotoPass+ at Walt Disney World, this service in Disneyland provides you with the pictures taken from PhotoPass photographers dispersed throughout Disneyland and Disney California Adventure, along with pictures from certain attractions, dining experiences and special events. You PhotoPass+ card can be purchased on site from one of the Photo Centers within the parks for $99.95, or can be pre-ordered 14-days in advance from the Disney PhotoPass website for $69.95. The pre-order package from Disneyland provides you with the following:

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Get Ready For The Villainy Fun For Friday The Thirteenth

by on August 26, 2013

©Disney

©Disney

Are you a fan of the Disney Villains? Then you want to make sure that you are at Disneyland or Disney’s Hollywood Studios on Friday, September 13, for the spooktacular, one night only event, where Disney will “Unleash the Villains.”

This Limited Time Magic event (scheduled since Limited Time Magic was first announced) will see the two parks staying open until the 13th hour (otherwise known as 1 a.m.), giving guests the chance to celebrate this spine-chilling affair.

All your favorites bad guys and gals should be present, including Maleficent, Captain Hook, Hades, The Queen of Hearts, Lady Tremaine, The Evil Queen, and more. Of course, the cast of characters may vary by coast, but each coast should see 13 of Disney’s most underhanded evildoers come out for the fun, meeting guests along the way.

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Healthy Eating on a Budget at the Most Magical Place on Earth

by on August 26, 2013

Let’s be honest, most people on vacation aren’t counting calories. But for frequent visitors or those with extreme willpower, healthier options can be tough to find in counter service dining locations. At the request of our readers I thought it was time to shine some light on the less sinful options available in the parks.

Fruit Markets

IMG_2873Fresh and affordable produce is located in each park if you know where to look. Fruit makes a great snack, especially on a hot day. Liberty Square Market at Magic Kingdom, Anaheim Produce at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, and the Harambe Fruit Market at Animal Kingdom are your best bets for finding fruits and limited veggies while in the parks. Epcot is the only park where I have yet to find a free-standing fruit cart, but everything is available at Sunshine Seasons. (Epcot does, however, have a free-standing Margarita stand so I will forgive Disney on this one.)

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