Archive for January, 2014

Walt Disney World Crowd Report – January 19 to January 25, 2014

by on January 27, 2014

Our expectation that Martin Luther King Jr. holiday crowds would flatten out by Wednesday turned out to be correct last week. The parks stayed at or below average most of the week after the holiday with only a few exceptions. Predictions were accurate within our expectations although Tower of Terror at The Studios showed possible signs of operational issues. We have seen that during periods of low attendance Tower of Terror might shut down one elevator shaft thereby inflating the posted wait times.

Let’s look at how the crowd levels stacked up day-to-day.

Crowd Levels: January 19-25, 2014

The Walt Disney World Crowd Report
January 19, 2014 to January 25, 2014

Sunday, January 19, 2014

As predicted, crowds on Sunday represented the peak of the Holiday weekend with a resort-wide level ’8′ on our scale. Magic Kingdom was the only park that didn’t reach a level ’8′ even though it hosted Extra Magic Hour Evening. It was a ’7′ thanks to slightly lower than expected waits at most attractions. Even The Studios hit a level ’8′ despite our prediction of ’5′ although Star Tours and Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster both had wait times higher than expected.

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FastPass+ Testing To Begin For Annual Passholders

by on January 27, 2014

©Disney

©Disney

Annual Passholders have been waiting (some patiently, most impatiently) for the day when FastPass+ testing for them would begin. It appears that AP holders will now have this opportunity, beginning in the next few weeks. This test is very limited, and Passholders will be selected at random to participate.

The test will allow Annual Passholders to test MyMagic+ by making advance FastPass+ reservations, using My Disney Experience, and customizing MagicBands.

Like other tests, the Passholders who are selected for the trial will be able to make 3 FastPass+ reservations at a single park per day. Those testing the system will be able to make FastPass+ selections by using either the My Disney Experience app or by stopping at a FastPass+ kiosk. Passholders will be able to make up to seven days of FastPass+ selections over a continuous 60 day time period.

In addition, participating Passholders will receive a discount card. This card must be used (along with a photo ID) to receive a Passholder discounts. Cards will either be black or gold. The gold card indicates complimentary parking is included. The black card indicates that the guest has no complimentary parking.

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Where To Find The Cheapest Disney World Tickets

by on January 27, 2014

Every night we check the price of Disney World tickets sold by Disney and the most popular discount Disney ticket wholesalers: Undercover Tourist, The Official Ticket Center, Kissimmee Guest Services, Maple Leaf Tickets, and Orlando Fun Tickets.

We use these prices in our Least Expensive Ticket Calculator, a search engine for Disney World tickets, that we’ve programmed to find you the cheapest Disney admission for whatever you want to do. For example, the Calculator knows that if you only want to visit a Disney water park once, a 1-day admission to the water park is usually cheaper than the Water Park Fun and More add-on.

The Ticket Calculator’s job is to hide the complexity of reading hundreds of vendor prices and admission options. The Ticket Calculator also takes into account sales tax and shipping, which some vendors don’t show until the last step in the checkout process, so it’s a true apples-to-apples comparison between all the vendors.

Sometimes it’s useful to see in one chart which vendors are selling the cheapest Disney World tickets. The images below show who’s got the cheapest Disney World tickets for adults and children ages 3-9, for 1 to 10 days of admission, including all combinations of Disney’s Park Hopper, Water Park Fun and More, and No Expiration options. (Sorry about the table formatting – did the best I could.)

Cheapest Disney World Tickets for Adults (ages 10+)
Theme Park
Entry
Days
Base Ticket Park Hop
Only
Water Park
Fun and
More Only
Park Hop+
Water Park
Fun
No
Expiration
Only
Park Hop+
No Expire
Water Park+
No Expire
Park Hop+
Water Park+
No Expire
1 $95.85
DisneyWorld
$137.39
DisneyWorld
$158.69
DisneyWorld
$185.31
DisneyWorld
N/A N/A N/A N/A
2 $195.96
DisneyWorld
$258.79
DisneyWorld
$258.79
DisneyWorld
$285.42
DisneyWorld
$230.96
DisneyWorld
$293.79
DisneyWorld
$293.79
DisneyWorld
$320.42
DisneyWorld
3 $276.00
OfficialTicketCenter
$332.00
OfficialTicketCenter
$333.00
OfficialTicketCenter
$348.00
OfficialTicketCenter
$323.00
OfficialTicketCenter
$366.00
OfficialTicketCenter
$366.00
OfficialTicketCenter
$387.00
OfficialTicketCenter
4 $289.95
OfficialTicketCenter
$342.00
OfficialTicketCenter
$340.95
UndercoverTourist
$351.00
UndercoverTourist
$389.00
OfficialTicketCenter
$426.00
OfficialTicketCenter
$426.00
OfficialTicketCenter
$447.00
OfficialTicketCenter
5 $289.95
OfficialTicketCenter
$347.95
OfficialTicketCenter
$347.00
OfficialTicketCenter
$365.00
OfficialTicketCenter
$436.00
OfficialTicketCenter
$486.00
OfficialTicketCenter
$487.00
OfficialTicketCenter
$506.00
OfficialTicketCenter
6 $303.00
OfficialTicketCenter
$356.00
OfficialTicketCenter
$357.00
OfficialTicketCenter
$375.00
OfficialTicketCenter
$494.00
OfficialTicketCenter
$543.00
OfficialTicketCenter
$542.00
OfficialTicketCenter
$545.25
UndercoverTourist
7 $313.00
OfficialTicketCenter
$366.00
OfficialTicketCenter
$368.00
OfficialTicketCenter
$384.00
OfficialTicketCenter
$535.00
OfficialTicketCenter
$583.00
OfficialTicketCenter
$583.00
OfficialTicketCenter
$600.00
OfficialTicketCenter
8 $324.00
OfficialTicketCenter
$376.00
OfficialTicketCenter
$379.00
OfficialTicketCenter
$393.00
OfficialTicketCenter
$571.00
OfficialTicketCenter
$619.00
OfficialTicketCenter
$622.00
OfficialTicketCenter
$631.00
OfficialTicketCenter
9 $334.00
OfficialTicketCenter
$386.00
OfficialTicketCenter
$387.00
OfficialTicketCenter
$405.00
OfficialTicketCenter
$617.00
OfficialTicketCenter
$660.00
OfficialTicketCenter
$663.00
OfficialTicketCenter
$660.00
OfficialTicketCenter
10 $344.00
OfficialTicketCenter
$395.00
OfficialTicketCenter
$396.00
OfficialTicketCenter
$413.00
OfficialTicketCenter
$667.27
OrlandoFunTickets
$712.59
OrlandoFunTickets
$712.46
OrlandoFunTickets
$723.00
OfficialTicketCenter

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Trip Planning 101: Celebrating at Disney World

by on January 27, 2014

Your birthday! Your anniversary! Your graduation! Your retirement! Your recovery! Your promotion! Your reunion! Your return from service! Your new baby! Your college acceptance! Your big win! Your engagement! Your honeymoon! Your new job!

Those are just a few of the reasons people celebrate. And they’re also some of the reasons people celebrate at Walt Disney World.

IMG_3897

When I answer questions for the Disney Park Moms Panel, one of the most frequently asked types of questions is, “I’m celebrating X event at Walt Disney World. What can I do to make it special?” Indeed, celebrating is so much a part of the Disney zeitgeist, that they even made “What Will You Celebrate?” the focus of Walt Disney World’s primary marketing theme in 2009 and 2010.

So what’s the answer? How can you make a celebration special at Walt Disney World?

MAYBE THE TRIP IS THE CELEBRATION

Please consider that you need not jump through any magical hoops to make a Disney celebration special. A trip to Walt Disney World is special all by itself. Space Mountain and a hug from Mickey! Seriously, life really can’t get much better than that. If you’re celebrating something for a child or a first-time guest, just walking through the front gates of the Magic Kingdom will make them feel on top of the world. Indeed, for a sensitive or easily overwhelmed youngster, a fancy to-do may be counterproductive, resulting in tears all around.

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In the Parks with Morgan: The Fireworks Trifecta

by on January 26, 2014

IMG_2335Hey, everyone! Welcome to the newly renamed series with me, Morgan. While I’ll still be doing regular Observations posts, my post about winter costumes got great feedback from you, and I thought it might be fun to do a series of posts about the fun and sometimes off-the-wall things I find out about or in the parks. I’m calling this series “In the Parks with Morgan,” and I hope you enjoy it.

Last week the stars – or the entertainment schedules, whichever – aligned, making the perfect night to try to see all three Walt Disney World fireworks shows in their entirety in one night. There are lots of avid Disney fans out there who create challenges like this for themselves, and I thought it would be fun to start with a fairly easy one to see if it was doable. I love fireworks, so with a 7:00 p.m. Fantasmic!, a 9:00 p.m. IllumiNations, and a 10:00 p.m. Wishes on the books, I bundled up my kid and joined a friend to tackle what I like to call the “Fireworks Trifecta” or the “Triple-Banger.”

Triple Banger

 

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SATURDAY SIX: Six Things We’re Excited About in Universal’s Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Diagon Alley

by on January 25, 2014

This week’s SATURDAY SIX looks at Six Things We’re Excited About in Universal’s Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Diagon Alley. This week was a big week for Harry Potter fans as Universal had its long awaited webcast featuring details of the upcoming Diagon Alley expansion in Universal Studios Florida, and the resort is having a weekend long Celebration of Harry Potter. We’ve been following Seth Kubersky’s PotterWatch series of articles for a while now, and we’re about to explode with excitement. So today we’re counting down six things that just can’t get here fast enough….

# 6 – Knockturn Alley 

It’s very rare to have sections of theme parks dedicated to “the bad guys,” but we at the Saturday Six can’t get enough of them. We love meeting Gaston and enjoying a LeFou’s Brew in New Fantasyland, while over at Universal’s Islands of Adventure we like walking through Villain’s Alley at Marvel Superhero Island to see all the little details (and to ride Dr. Doom’s Fearfall). While very few details have been given out about Knockturn Alley (which we saw in the films Chamber of Secrets and Half Blood Prince), we’re looking forward to an experience at Borgin and Burkes, a store specializing in items related to the Dark Arts. We’re also hoping that various items related to Dark Magic will be for sale, including Death Eater masks, cursed necklaces, horcruxes, and skulls of creatures from the Potter universe. This is Universal Creative’s chance to take creepiness to an “11,” and we hope they go all the way with it.

SS_BorginandBurkes

Borgin and Burkes store of Dark Magic, as envisioned by J.K. Rowling’s Pottermoret

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In Case You Missed It: Disney News and Rumors – Week of January 24, 2014

by on January 24, 2014

In Case You Missed It!

Tired of all the snow? Well, I can’t change the weather…but I can share the Disney News and Rumors and other general fun you missed for the week. (And wow…was there a lot!)

 

In Case You Missed It – Disney News and Rumors

Wilderness Lodge has always been one of my favorite Disney resorts. I love the feel of the lodge, the restaurants (they have Magic Cookie Bars…hello…), the geyser, the Villa area, just everything screams enchanting. So, I am pleased to hear that the Wilderness Lodge has rejoined the list of AAA four-diamond hotels.

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Flower Power Concert Performers Announced For Epcot Flower & Garden Festival

by on January 24, 2014

Flower Power Concert Series at Epcot Flower and Garden Festival

©Disney

Who doesn’t enjoy taking in performances of artists from the 60s and 70s (who, let’s face it, at this point are in their 60s and 70s)? Well, during the Epcot Flower & Garden Festival, you’ll be able to enjoy some of the great bands of yesteryear during the Flower Power Concert Series that takes place at the America Gardens Theatre. (Last year, I was able to enjoy a bit of Peter Noone’s performance…who I’m not gonna lie…was actually kind of rockin’ it on stage. I could tell that he was having a blast!)

There are a couple of new acts for the festival this year, including Gary Lewis and The Playboys and the Alan Parsons Live Project.

The artists for this year include:

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A Trip Around The World: Japan

by on January 24, 2014

It’s hard to believe we’ve already passed the halfway mark on our world tour! For those keeping track at home, we’ve visited: Mexico, Norway, China, Germany, Italy, and America. Next up is the beautiful land of Japan. I always like to begin with a striking image, so I’ll start with the large Torii Gate that marks the pavilion on the World Showcase Lagoon. This bright red arch is visible from all around the lagoon, and it’s the prettiest thing on the water (especially at sunset).

2

But really when you walk into Japan from America, the first thing you’ll see is the tiny Kabuki Cafe. It’s the little building on the left in the photo below. Don’t be fooled by the size – there is a whole lot of awesome in this little package. Not only are there sushi, ice cream, and beer (which are all excellent separately, but we don’t recommend them together) – there is also kakigori!! “What is kakigori?” you ask? It’s shaved ice with with sweet, fruity flavoring added. This is one of my favorite treats on a hot summer night, and at only $3.75 it won’t break the bank.

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PotterWatch: Universal’s Diagon Alley Webcast Reveals New Harry Potter Details

by on January 23, 2014

New concept art of Universal's Wizarding World of Harry Potter expansion from today's Diagon Alley webcast

New concept art of Universal’s Wizarding World of Harry Potter expansion from today’s Diagon Alley webcast.

If you’ve been following our PotterWatch series so far, you probably already watched this morning’s Diagon Alley webcast, in which Universal Orlando revealed new details about The Wizarding World of Harry Potter expansion opening this June at Universal Studios Florida. The 30 minute presentation, broadcast from inside a “Gringotts vault,” was hosted by Universal Creative’s Mark Woodbury, and featured appearances from Potter film actors Mathew Lewis, James Phelps, and Evanna Lynch. But just in case you were unable to sign up for a link to the live video, or were stuck at work while it was playing, here’s a quick recap of what was revealed and confirmed about The Wizarding World of Harry Potter — Diagon Alley (as the new area is known):

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