Archive for May, 2014

What To Do When You Forget Your Memory Card At Disneyland

by on May 31, 2014

IMG_8802Last Tuesday I arrived at Disneyland’s Mickey & Friends Parking Structure with my camera at my side. My main goal that day was to take pictures and talk about my time in the park for our Observations series of posts. As I walked from my car to the tram loading area I started my ritual of going through my last minute mental checklist to make sure I have everything I’d need for my day in the parks. Cell phone? Check. Keys, wallet, annual pass? Got all those. After I went through my list I look down at my camera and I got the feeling that something wasn’t right. I stop in my tracks and reluctantly held my camera in my hand as the feeling of dread starts to take over, almost like when you pour yourself a bowl of cereal in the morning and then realize the milk in the fridge has gone sour. I flipped open the memory card slot on the side of my camera and realized that I forgot to take my memory card to Disneyland. I instantly remembered that I left it in my computer at home after I cleared it off for the day. Obviously this isn’t a huge problem for me because I only live 20 minutes away. But what if I was on vacation and a plane ride separated me from my house? I decided to take advantage of my forgetfulness and use this experience as blog post fodder.

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SATURDAY SIX: Six Reasons Animal Kingdom is NOT a Half Day Park

by on May 31, 2014

Earlier this year at the SATURDAY SIX we did an article looking at six things we wish theme park fans would stop complaining about. One of those complaints was that Animal Kingdom is a half day park. We gave our reasoning for why this isn’t true, but we wanted to get an expert opinion on this controversial subject. We reached out to Michael McBride of JamboEveryone.com and the Radio Harambe podcast, two of the best resources on the Animal Kingdom park. So today we are proud to present Six Reasons Animal Kingdom is NOT a Half Day Park. Take it away Mike…

It drives me crazy when people call Animal Kingdom a half day park. Yeah, I know, it’s a common observation, but still I know those people are missing out on a lot that the park has to offer. Yes, Animal Kingdom has fewer “rides” than the other parks. But there is so much more to a park then plopping down in an omnimover or coaster. The meaning of the word attraction is a lot broader than that. So when people say that Animal Kingdom is a half day park, they are not enjoying the shows, the trails, or the entertainment offerings that this place does so well. Those people skip Flights of Wonder, don’t bother with Rafiki’s Planet Watch, and have no idea what a Burudika is.

To be fair, Animal Kingdom is a different kind of park. It’s not really conducive to hustling from one attraction to the next as fast as your feet can take you. It’s a park that needs to be lingered over and meandered through. Rivers of Light will surely be a game changer, much like World of Color was at Disney California Adventure at Disneyland Resort. When that comes, guests will stick around to see the nighttime closing event, but that does not mean Animal Kingdom is a half day park now. It’s not. And here are 6 reasons why.

6 – Wilderness Explorers

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Channel your inner Russell and try Wilderness Explorers (photo by Brandon Glover)

Wilderness Explorers is so stinkin’ great! Imagine that you are Russell from Up (I often do, but that’s a separate issue) and you need to earn badges. Now imagine, just for a moment, that you need to earn over 30 badges. Yes, 30! That’s this game. I have spent a lot of time discussing the little things that set this park apart from the rest. What do you do when some of your party are Disney touring commandos? Play this game. It has you delve into the little places of the park. For example, it is the best way to discovery Rafiki’s Planet Watch, which is often skipped. I think Planet Watch, alone, is a strong reason that Animal Kingdom is not a half day park. Alas, this is a list of six, so I am jamming that into this entry. This is true throughout the park. One badge takes you into a little side path along the Discovery River, and another takes you to little traveled section of DinoLand U.S.A. And the Explorers game is also a fun way to work your way through the town of Harambe in Africa and Maharajah Jungle Trek

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In Case You Missed It: Disney News and Rumors – Week of May 30, 2014

by on May 30, 2014

In Case You Missed It!

Are you ready to let “the Course Be With You?” If you missed out on all the excitement this week, Disney announced a brand new half marathon themed around Star Wars! This awesome new race will take place at Disneyland, from January 15 – 18, 2015. Now the question remains…who shall you dress as? There are so many delightful choices.

If you missed any other fun news goodies, guess what? I’ve got them for you all right here!

In Case You Missed It – Disney and Universal Orlando News and Rumors

Monday was, of course, Memorial Day, and Jim Hill had a fantastic article all about how President Reagan had a unique second inauguration at Epcot back on Memorial Day 1985.

I love Disney history, and Jack Spence from AllEars is starting a really great series all about Tomorrowland. Here’s the first installment. (We have seven more to go, and I can’t wait to read each one.)

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Walt Disney World Newsworthy Notes – 5/30/14

by on May 30, 2014

It’s the time again! A few newsworthy pieces have come across my desk from all around The World that I thought you all should know. Here are the fun details:

  • Downtown Disney is continuing down the path of refreshing the stores that are available for guests. Today, the second Starbucks location, which is located on the West Side, has officially opened. It is a full service location with indoor seating, unlike the other new Marketplace Starbucks kiosk that also recently opened. The new store features a covered patio overlooking the waterfront, a cozy fireplace, plus a Human Connection Wall, which is a large touch-screen monitor that allows guests to use their fingers to draw images. The location also features the new Clover Bar, which serves special reserve coffees that are brewed to order. This new full-scale Starbucks store is located next door to Bongos Cuban Cafe.
  • Speaking of Downtown Disney, I mentioned previously that a World Cup soccer store was opening soon on the West Side. I can report that it is now officially open. The pop-up shop, located where BLINK by Wet Seal previously sat, is officially called United World Soccer and will sell gear, accessories, and more.
  • At the Magic Kingdom, Mickey’s PhilharMagic in Fantasyland will have a brief refurbishment, taking place September 8 – 19, reopening on September 20.
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Star Wars Weekends: A Special Edition Observations Post

by on May 30, 2014

DSC_0018Walt Disney World has really ramped up the offerings at Star Wars Weekends this year with new experiences, characters, and celebrity shows. If you’ve never been to Star Wars Weekends, there’s a lot you don’t want to miss and a lot to know before you come. But what’s a day on the ground look like? We went to Disney’s Hollywood Studios on Sunday, May 25 to show you.

First, a little background. Star Wars Weekends are celebrated on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays through June 15 at Hollywood Studios. The festivities include a Star Wars themed parade and fireworks show, special character appearances by stars from the movies and television shows, and even special dining. The park fills quickly on these days, and it’s often really hot. If you’re looking to meet lots of characters and get a bunch of photos, get there early. Our trip started around 10:30 a.m. at the gates. The lines weren’t terrible, but that’s likely because most people were already in and seated to wait for the “Legends of the Force” Motorcade and Celebrity Welcome.

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Personalized Souvenirs of Walt Disney World

by on May 30, 2014

As a child with a strange name I longed to find personalized key chains and pencils when souvenir hunting. Even though it was never there, I always hunted through the racks hoping against hope that one day my name would magically appear. Maybe that’s why I’ve scoured Walt Disney World to find the best personalized souvenirs to remember your trip! If you, too, have a weird name, then have no fear, we’ve got you covered.

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Mickey Ears to fit every style!

Mickey Ears: This is an easy one, but anyone can get their his or her name embroidered on a pair of Mickey Ears. Disney has also lightened up on the policies about what can be put on ears these days. I’ll never forget a few years ago when a cast member actually said she had to see my drivers license to put my name on my hat! Locations are available to personalize hats in all four parks and Downtown Disney. Remember, now that fancier fonts available, you normally have to come back later in the day to pick up your personalized hat.

Parasols: While this option can get pricey fast, what little girl doesn’t want one of these? Not only can they be personalized with names, but I’ve even seen art work from Frozen starting to appear on these cute, little umbrellas. Several colors are available. Be sure to stop by early in the day to allow time for the paint to dry on your unique and personalized work of art. You can find these for sale in Liberty Square at the Magic Kingdom and France in Epcot.

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Festival of the Lion King Returns June 1 to Disney’s Animal Kingdom

by on May 29, 2014

Festival of the Lion King - Harambe Theater

©Disney

Who else is excited about this news?

Festival of the Lion King will officially debut at the brand new Harambe Theater on this Sunday, June 1!

The show has moved to the Africa section of Disney’s Animal Kingdom from its previous location in Camp Minnie-Mickey. (Camp Minnie-Mickey is currently the construction site of the upcoming Avatarland, slated to open in 2017.) The theater can be found just over the bridge to Africa, right behind the Dawa Bar and Tusker House.

In addition to this new theater, rumors indicate that Disney has built a brand new gift shop in the area, which should be called Mariya’s Souvenirs.

The show, Festival of the Lion King, tells the tale of the movie, The Lion King, utilizing song, dance, acrobats, puppetry, and more. Festival of the Lion King will be performed daily, and FastPass+ reservations will be available.

The new Harambe Theater will also be utilized for the upcoming Harambe Nights hard-ticket event, which will feature an all new, 55-minute show, “The Lion King: Concert in the Wild.”  The show will be a never-before-seen take on the The Lion King, with a celebrity narrator, choir, orchestra, and dancers.  Harambe Nights begins on June 7 and takes place every Saturday evening through August 9.

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Observations from the Universal Orlando Resort – May 26, 2014 (Margaritaville, Red Oven, Cabana Bay, and more)

by on May 29, 2014

Seth Kubersky recently published the latest addition to PotterWatch, and it takes a look at the newly installed dragon on top of Gringotts Bank, new benches and massive lion heads in front of the London Waterfront, the growing of the Hogsmeade forest, and updates on the latest information concerning the possible opening of Diagon Alley. For this trip to the Universal Orlando Resort, Brandon Glover and I took a look at other new things that have popped up at the parks, CityWalk, and hotel area.

Our first stop was lunch at Jimmy Buffet’s Margaritaville. We had tried some of their new items on our last trip to UOR (including the Volcano Burger and insanely large Volcano Nachos) but saw others on the menu that we had to go back for, including this Margarita Flight.

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Margarita Flight (includes Who’s to Blame, BlueBerry Pomegranate, Fins to the Left, and Last Mango in Paris) $16.95

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Updated 5/29/14 – Job Opening: TouringPlans.com Is Looking for a Few Good Bloggers

by on May 29, 2014

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Update: we’ve received so many applications that we’re going to set a deadline of midnight Friday, May 30, for submission. I apologize to anyone who can’t make this, but I need to have time to give each one the consideration it deserves. Thanks for your understanding.

 

Do you love Walt Disney World, Disneyland, Universal Orlando, or Disney Cruise Line? Want to write about it? Want to get PAID to write about it? We’d like to hear from you.

In addition to having a passion for the destinations we cover, we’re looking for folks who:

  • Can write clearly within the style of our blog with few to no grammatical or spelling mistakes.
  • Are able to commit to at least one 500-1000 word article per week for the next 6 months.
  • Have a love for fact-based articles about theme parks.
  • Are able to write candidly and objectively about Disney or Universal without veering off into hyperbole.
  • Are willing to not just write, but answer questions from readers in the comments section of an article after it’s published.
  • Are interested in or have experience with Google Analytics – we measure the viewer metrics for all our authors and encourage authors to focus on articles that appeal to our readers.
  • Maintain a professional, friendly presence on social media (both your own and for TouringPlans).
  • Understand SEO and know why it’s important.
  • Know how to produce articles in WordPress or are willing to learn.
  • Are comfortable with photography. You don’t need to have a huge camera, but you should be able to compose and edit a photo that doesn’t look amateurish. Camera phones are fine.
  • The ability to produce short videos is a plus.

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PotterWatch: Gringotts Dragon Arrives and Opening Date Rumors

by on May 29, 2014

It has been an exciting week in PotterWatch, as the iconic “weenie” of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter — Diagon Alley arrived at Universal Studios Florida. Let’s take a look at the massive Gringotts Dragon, and talk about new opening date rumors.

 

Gringotts Dragon Arrives

On May 24, the ginormous fire-breathing “Ukranian Ironbelly” dragon that perches atop Gringotts Bank was lowered into place inside Diagon Alley. Our friend Hate To Fly was on hand to capture its arrival:

Gringotts dragon

Photo via @HateToFly

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