Archive for April, 2014

Disney Releases Spoiler-Filled Video of Seven Dwarfs Mine Train

by on April 30, 2014

©Disney

©Disney

Many of you know that this week, Disney is holding a media event promoting the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train. To gear up the excitement, Disney has released a front seat video on the Disney Parks Blog of the attraction, with spoilers and all!

It looks quite stunning! The Imagineers have done a phenomenal job in creating this attraction. Also, the views are quite amazing. Oh and the AudioAnamatronics look unreal! They absolutely are a sight to see. I know there is a tiny portion of the attraction that we didn’t get to see, which is the cottage which features Snow White. So, there is one final surprise for when guests officially get to ride it. This is going to be one fun coaster when it opens!

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Observations from the Universal Orlando Resort: April 26, 2014 (Margaritaville, New Merchandise, Royal Pacific Resort)

by on April 30, 2014

Last week intrepid Potter reporter Seth Kubersky scoured both Universal Studios Florida and Islands of Adventure for the latest updates to his running series of PotterWatch articles. There were several big changes in the WWOHP world, including the arrival of the Knight Bus and the Wiseacre’s Wizarding Supplies storefront in Hogsmeade Village being converted into Madame Puddifoot’s Tea Shop. Crack photographer Brandon Glover and myself hit the parks later in the week to see what else was going on at Universal. Here’s what we found…

RPR

When your walk to the park looks like this, who wants to take a shuttle or boat?

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Disney Gift Cards 101

by on April 30, 2014

Disney gift card

The classic Disney gift card design

As a frequent traveler to Disney parks and the Disney Cruise Line, I’m a huge fan of Disney gift cards. They reduce my need for cash on hand, allow me to sock away money for trips, and make great gifts for people who will be in the parks. As this type of card becomes more and more ubiquitous, you may think you know all there is to know about Disney gift cards. But maybe not. Read on.

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Magic Kingdom Newsworthy Notes – 4/29/14

by on April 29, 2014

A few minor news pieces have crept across my desk recently that have to do with the Magic Kingdom that are of interest to many. Here’s what you should know:

First, there’s a very large media event taking place this week, which means it is going to impact some areas of the parks. Here’s what will impacted:

  • May 1 - The following locations will close at 5 p.m. to park guests:
    • Gaston’s Tavern
    • Bonjour! Village Gifts
    • Under the Sea ~ Journey of the Little Mermaid
    • Ariel’s Grotto
    • The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh
    • Hundred Acre Goods
    • Storybook Treats
  • May 2 – There will be a delayed opening of Storybook Circus and parts of Tomorrowland:

Opening at 11 a.m.:

  • Dumbo the Flying Elephant
  • The Barnstormer
  • Pete’s Silly Sideshow
  • Big Top Souvenirs
  • Tomorrowland Speedway

Opening at 12:15 p.m.:

  • Monsters, Inc. Laugh Floor

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Epcot Wind Down: Your Questions Answered

by on April 29, 2014

1Last week I reviewed my first experience at the Epcot After Hours Wind Down. (You can find it here.) While I was excited to share the event with you guys, everyone had lots of questions for me that I couldn’t answer at the time. This past weekend I set out to get the scoop. (And some yummy Moroccan food at Spice Road Table!)

Are kids allowed? At this time children are not allowed and the event is only for guests over 21 years of age. I spoke to a couple different cast members and neither had heard anything about a children or family events being added in the future.

Is it busy? This is one answer that changed dramatically week over week. Last weekend I was honestly concerned that this after hours party might get cancelled before the scheduled end date. There were only a few other guests sharing the restaurant with us and that just didn’t seem sustainable. Wow- what a difference a week makes! Spice Road Table was hoppin’ when we were there Saturday. It looked like every seat was taken in the dining room.

Are reservations required? They are not required but they are recommended. Seeing how busy it was this weekend I would be very sure to reserve your table if this experience is important to you.

Which Location? I’ve been to Tutto Gusto and Spice Road Table, and I very much preferred Spice Road Table. I thought the food was much more appropriate at this location and the service was impeccable. If you’d like to see the menu, Seth did a great review of Spice Road Table and La Cava del Tequila you can find here. We at TouringPlans haven’t tried Rose & Crown yet. Personally, I think Spice Road will remain my favorite but everyone will have to look at the reviews and choose their favorite!

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Spring Break at Disney World – Teens’ First No-Parent Trip

by on April 29, 2014

Back in 2001, when my husband and I were deciding whether to buy Disney Vacation Club (DVC) points, one of the possible benefits we discussed was that our daughters would be able to use our DVC membership to have a safe place to go for spring break when they were older. At the time, our daughters were ages one and four, so talking about spring break solo vacations was akin to talking about dairy farming on the moon with George Clooney, the concept was equally as abstract and far fetched.

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Now fast forward to 2014 and that ex-four-year-old, Charlie, is now a high school senior, ready to graduate in just a few weeks. (Someone pass the tissues, please.) As it turned out, our pie-in-the-sky rationalization for the DVC purchase ended up being a wonderful use of our points. Here’s how it all worked out.

Why Disney For A Spring Break Trip?

Every community has a different norm for what is and isn’t acceptable protocol for senior spring break. Some communities treat this no differently than any other school vacation – kids travel with families or stay home to relax or work. Other communities have a tradition where groups of seniors travel to far off destinations (usually where the drinking age is a minimally-enforced 18) with little or no adult supervision. And of course, there are a range options within the continuum.

When polling other parents in my town, I learned that there are typically many groups of high school seniors each year who use spring break as a chance to visit Caribbean islands on their own.

I personally was uncomfortable with that level of unsupervised activity. While I do have great trust in my daughter (I would not have sent her anywhere on her own if I did not), the easy access to alcohol near un-lifeguarded ocean water on an island trip seemed an order of magnitude more risky than I was ready for. And frankly, I think Charlie was fairly intimidated by that scenario as well. She jumped at the chance when I said that we would gift her with DVC points so that she could host a group of friends at Disney World.

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Walt Disney World Crowd Report – April 20 to 26, 2014

by on April 28, 2014

Predictions did very well this week with only one exception. We saw moderate crowds all week including a surprising, but correctly predicted level ’5′ on Easter Sunday. Resort wide, every day was either a ’5′ or ’6′ on our scale.

Let’s look at how the crowd levels stacked up each day last week.

The Crowd Report

The Crowd Report

The Walt Disney World Crowd Report
April 20 to April 26, 2014

Sunday, April 20, 2014 

Sunday’s resort wide crowd was a level ’5′ as predicted, much lower than one might expect for a major holiday. We think our models correctly predicted this crowd because most schools had already finished Spring Break and those that hadn’t were heading home to prepare for the return to school. We also hit the mark at Magic Kingdom with a prediction of ’6′.

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Brightbox Phone Charging Lockers added at Magic Kingdom

by on April 28, 2014

Image 4For those of you with dead device woes, the Magic Kingdom has added mobile device charging lockers to its list of free services. There are 6 lockers located in the Space Mountain gift shop and 12 at Cosmic Ray’s. The stations of lockers by manufacturer Brightbox are free to use, but use a credit card as the “key”.

How do you use them? Each unit is equipped with an easy-to-use guidance screen. Swipe a credit or debit card to open a locker. You won’t be charged a fee for the service, but the system uses your card to identify you and open the locker when you retrieve your device. Blue lockers are open, red lockers have devices charging in them, and green lockers have devices that have been charged and are ready to be retrieved. Plug your device into one of three cords in the locker (provided are Apple lightning cable, Apple 30-pin cable, and a MicroUSB cable). You cannot use your own cord to charge your device.

Close the locker, which should now have a red light, and go on about your Magic Kingdom way. Phones take 35 minutes or more to charge, depending on the phone. Allow for about as much time as you would if you plugged your phone into an outlet at home. When the light is green, swipe your card again, open your locker, and retrieve your phone. The process is simple and again, it’s free, so it should be a great deal more convenient than leaving your phone at Guest Relations or sitting at a wall outlet in the park waiting for your battery to charge.

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April 22, 2014: Magic Kingdom Observations and FastPass+ Fun

by on April 28, 2014

It’s been a while since I’ve taken you guys with me on one of my after work weeknight adventures and I thought we were due for a few magical hours in the Magic Kingdom. Taking a look at the photo below you can tell the crowds certainly haven’t cleared out from Easter yet! I was worried we wouldn’t get the most out of the night because it was so busy. But I managed to snag some great FastPass+ times that I’m excited to tell you about! Unfortunately, if you take a look at the clock in the photo below you’ll see that I was going to be late for my first FastPass+ reservation that expired at 6:45pm. Eek! Let’s hurry!

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Luckily, even though I was a solid 10 minutes late for my appointment with the Haunted Mansion they let us through with no issue. I’ve heard you can be up to 15 minutes late for a FastPass+ and 5 minutes early without getting into trouble. I’m glad they let us in because I was able to get this photo of the grave digger. He’s still a little out of focus but this is the closest I’ve gotten to a decent photo of him. He’s sort of my white whale of photography!! ;)

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The Magic, The Memories, and Merch! April 2014 Photo Report of the Disney Outlet Store

by on April 27, 2014

MMM positiveOk, who is ready for our monthly trip to the Disney Outlet Store?! This week we’ll be going casual by wearing our Marvel Comics lounge pants and Jack Skellington fedora, and for good luck we’re bringing along our Constantine plush (which actually looks more like Kermit-as-Emperor Palpatine). Now that we are geared up, it’s time to hit the outlets! (Please remember to click on any picture to see it in full size.)

I’ve actually been looking forward to this trip for awhile, as we had heard through the grapevine that certain items were heading to the discount racks – items that could be considered the discounted merchandise equivalent of finding an Elsa doll at Sir Mickey’s! Upon walking through the doors, I immediately found the rumors and whispers to be true…

MagicBand shirts have arrived!

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