Archive for June, 2014

Disney World Crowd Report – June 22 to 28, 2014

by on June 30, 2014

Most school districts have completed the 2013-2014 school year now although crowds are still trending slightly lower than history would suggest. We saw few instances with wait times higher than predicted. Star Tours and other Studios attractions continue to operate with lower demand than usual.

Let’s look at the Disney World Crowd Report to see how the crowd levels stacked up each day last week:

Walt Disney World Resort Crowd Levels – Daily Breakdown

Sunday, June 22, 2014

  WHAT WE
THOUGHT
WHAT WE
SAW
ANALYSIS
Magic Kingdom
7
6

The lucky number on Sunday was ‘6’, with all parks hitting a level ‘6’ except for The Studios. Star Tours was the big surprise on Sunday with an average wait time of 16 minutes (predicted 26). A 16 minute average posted time at Star Tours represents a ‘1’ on our scale. Star Tours continues to operate at a capacity higher than its demand.

Epcot
5
6
Hollywood Studios
6
4
Animal Kingdom
7
6

Monday, June 23, 2014

  WHAT WE
THOUGHT
WHAT WE
SAW
ANALYSIS
Magic Kingdom
7
7

Monday’s crowds were lower than expected except for Magic Kingdom. Our estimates at Magic Kingdom continue to perform very well with no predictions missing by more than two index levels (only Big Thunder Mountain Railroad and Peter Pan’s Flight missed by two). Although Animal Kingdom was not as bad as predicted it was still the busiest park.

Epcot
6
5
Hollywood Studios
7
5
Animal Kingdom
9
7

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

  WHAT WE
THOUGHT
WHAT WE
SAW
ANALYSIS
Magic Kingdom
8
7

Crowds went up a notch as predicted on Tuesday. Epcot was the most crowded with Test Track reaching an average posted time of 103 minutes. Perhaps even more telling is Spaceship Earth’s average posted time of 31 minutes, a definite ’10’ out of ’10’ for that attraction.

Epcot
9
9
Hollywood Studios
8
5
Animal Kingdom
9
8

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

  WHAT WE
THOUGHT
WHAT WE
SAW
ANALYSIS
Magic Kingdom
7
7

We correctly predicted another crowd level ‘9’ on Wednesday, this time at Animal Kingdom. Kali River Rapids had an average posted time of 65 minutes, a ’10’ on its scale while Expedition Everest stayed about average at 33 minutes. Dinosaur was very busy at a 41-minute average posted time. Star Tours continues to underwhelm with an average wait of 20 minutes, the lowest of the headliners by 40 minutes.

Epcot
6
7
Hollywood Studios
8
6
Animal Kingdom
9
9

Thursday, June 26, 2014

  WHAT WE
THOUGHT
WHAT WE
SAW
ANALYSIS
Magic Kingdom
7
7

Slightly smaller crowds on Thursday although no park dipped below the average, ’5’. Pirates of the Caribbean reached an average posted wait of 34 minutes which is as crowded as it gets for that attraction while most other Magic Kingdom attractions stayed closer to the park wide level, ‘6’.

Epcot
7
5
Hollywood Studios
7
6
Animal Kingdom
8
7

Friday, June 27, 2014

  WHAT WE
THOUGHT
WHAT WE
SAW
ANALYSIS
Magic Kingdom
7
6

Toy Story Mania (81 minutes, predicted 106) and Tower of Terror (50 minutes, predicted 79) put The Studios crowd level two lower than expected although our estimates for Great Movie Ride and Star Tours were within one minute of their predicted average. Animal Kingdom wasn’t so bad either where the highest average wait was 54 minutes at Kali River Rapids.

Epcot
7
7
Hollywood Studios
7
5
Animal Kingdom
8
6

Saturday, June 28, 2014

  WHAT WE
THOUGHT
WHAT WE
SAW
ANALYSIS
Magic Kingdom
5
6

Lower crowds than expected at every park except Magic Kingdom. The first time of the week we missed a crowd level by 3 index points (Studios and Animal Kingdom). Epcot’s numbers were only slightly lower than predicted with only Soarin’ and Test Track missing by more than 20 minutes.

Epcot
5
4
Hollywood Studios
7
4
Animal Kingdom
8
5
What to Expect This Week
June 29 to July 5, 2014
Disney World Crowd Calendar

Disney World Crowd Calendar

School is out and summer crowds begin! July 4th is one of the busiest days at Walt Disney World, chances are good that Magic Kingdom will reach capacity at some part of the day. Although still very crowded, The Studios is a great choice for July 4th festivities if you are looking to minimize crowds.

To see Walt Disney World Crowd predictions for the days of your vacation, check the Crowd Calendar.

To get details about our predictions of future crowds or details about crowds in the past check out the Crowd Calendar and select “Jump to Date” on the left margin.

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Wizarding World of Harry Potter Diagon Alley REVIEW and Touring Tips

by on June 30, 2014

Diagon Alley lies waiting just behind this London facade. Are you prepared to face it? (Photos by Seth Kubersky)

Diagon Alley lies waiting just behind this London facade. Are you prepared to face it? (Photos by Seth Kubersky)

As PotterWatch wraps up with the approach of Diagon Alley’s July 8 official opening date, I’m proud to present Touring Plans’ first in-depth reviews of the new Wizarding World of Harry Potter attractions. During the recent VIP preview week, I spent nearly 12 hours exploring the expansion at Universal Studios Florida and was the only member of the media to successfully ride the Gringotts attraction three times. I’ve distilled that first-hand experience into the following Diagon Alley review and touring strategy, which will appear in edited form in the 2015 edition of The Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World, as well as other affiliated titles.

Bear in mind, the following opinions and information are based on a preview of the attraction and are subject to change once the area is open to the public. BEWARE: Minor spoilers ahead.

 

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter — Diagon Alley Review

Guests approach the Wizarding World’s London Waterfront from either the San Francisco or World Expo areas of Universal Studios, at the opposite end of the park from the front entrance. Wrought iron fencing surround the park-like promenade (complete with snack and souvenir stands, and a towering statue-topped fountain) with a shoreline sidewalk along the embankment bypassing the area. Guests access London through the gateway closest to the Fear Factor Live stadium, and exit towards Disaster!

Having arrived at the London area, take a moment to spot Kreacher (the house elf regularly peers from a second-story window above 12 Grimmauld Place), and chat with the Knight Bus conductor and his Caribbean-accented shrunken head. Then enter Diagon Alley next to the Leicester Square marquee in the approximate center of the building facades. As in the books and films, the unmarked portal is concealed within a magical brick wall (which unfortunately does not actually move, due to safety concerns) that is ordinarily reserved for wizards and the like. However, the endless queue of Muggles (plain old humans) in shorts and flip- flops will leave little doubt where that entryway is.

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Pro Tips: Low and No Cost Ways to Improve Your Disney Vacation

by on June 30, 2014

t_logoLast time, I brought you quick tips. This time, we’re talking pro tips. Maybe you’ve been to Walt Disney World a few times now and are ready to plus your experience. Presumably, you’re already subscribed to TouringPlans.com and are saving time and money by using tools like our mobile app, Crowd Calendar, and customizable touring plans. If not, why not? Anyway, read on for some ideas to start with for enhance other areas of your vacation. Here are some of our Walt Disney World tips:

Note: Any product we recommend is one we have used and purchased with our own money. We haven’t received compensation of any kind (no money, no freebies) for mentions in this article. 

Pro Tip 1 – Enhance Your Accommodations

This doesn’t mean bring your scented candle and special blanky with you. One, candles in a hotel room are a fire hazard. And two, bag fees are high enough without bringing extra stuff with you. No, what I mean is get the same or better accommodations for less. You could sleep four to a room at Pop Century. Or you could get more space by either renting a house off site from a company like All Star Vacation Homes or renting onsite from a Disney Vacation Club broker such as David’s Vacation Club rentals. If you really want to go pro, consider an Owner’s Locker (though you probably won’t keep a laser printer in yours like we do for our TouringPlans mobile office).

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

by on June 29, 2014

MMM positiveWelcome to the one year anniversary of The Magic, The Memories, and Merch! When I pitched the idea of a monthly photo report of the Disney Outlet Store to the Powers That Be, I was told it couldn’t be done. That it wouldn’t be done. And now after reading a year’s worth of articles from your humble author, most agree that it shouldn’t have been done. But without it, how would you – Dear Reader – be able to experience the wonder of Mickey’s Personal Disney Assistant, A print of Daisy Duck in the style of Johannes Vermeer’s Girl with a Pearl Earring painting, or a shirt with Darth Maul getting a rainbow painted on his face? It’s schadenfreude writ large, and I want to thank each and every one of you for being along the journey with me. Now let’s hit the outlet!

Walt Disney famously said “I only hope that we don’t lose sight of one thing – that it was all started by a mouse-stache.” Or something like that. I’m not good with quotes. Originally $3.95, these are now $1.99.

IMG_6313

I’m sure you’re all shocked, SHOCKED to see these make their way to the outlet.

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SATURDAY SIX: Top Six Photo Ops at Universal

by on June 28, 2014

This week’s SATURDAY SIX covers the Top Six Photo Ops at Universal. Previously we have covered our favorite Photo Connect experiences at Universal Studios Florida and Islands of Adventure, but this week we are going to look at the six must-get photos when we walk around the parks. For first time visitors, these are the locations that are going to make you stop in your tracks and get out the camera. Some are iconic, others are breathtaking, but all are memorable and should be considered for your vacation scrapbook. Let’s start off by heading into the Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Hogsmeade Village….

# 6 – Hogwarts Express and Conductor (Islands of Adventure)

Muggles stepping foot into Hogsmeade Village for the first time are going to love the great photo op with the Hogwarts Express and interacting with the train’s conductor. Holding his enchanted pocket watch, the conductor is the go-to person with any question on Hogsmeade as he is always well versed on Potter-lore and everything within this magical land.

PHOTOOP_HogwartsExpress

Hogwarts Express (photo by Brandon Glover)

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In Case You Missed It: Disney News and Rumors – Week of June 27, 2014

by on June 27, 2014

In Case You Missed It!

In Case You Missed It!

Do you have World Cup fever? While you were busy cheering on your favorite teams, I found some fun stuff for you to catch up on!

Let me know your favorite in the comments!

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

 

Are you a fan of Fantasy Football? If so, consider attending the inaugural ESPN Fantasy Football Convention, where guests will have unprecedented access to ESPN Fantasy Experts, experience an exclusive Tailgate Party, sit in on a live broadcast of Fantasy Football Now on ESPN2, and more! While it’s a lot costly ($641.00 per person-based on double occupancy), it does sound like a once in a lifetime experience.

I came across this intriguing article about the history for building AudioAnamatronics. I always find it so fascinating to learn this kind of stuff.

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More Potty Talk: Best Disneyland Restrooms

by on June 27, 2014

Disneyland-Leap-Day-212

Going to Disneyland, you expect to wait in lines for everything (hopefully not long if you are using our touring plans!), but there is one place you should not have to wait in line: the restroom. Disneyland restroom lines can be just can hectic as waiting in a line at an attraction. Today, I am here to show you the best Disneyland restrooms, where you can actually take a break from the craziness that can be Disneyland. 

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Frozen Summer Fun-Live Coming to Disney’s Hollywood Studios

by on June 26, 2014

A "Frozen" Summer at Disney's Hollywood Studios

©Disney

If you are a fan of Frozen, have I got a great new experience for you! Disney’s Hollywood Studios will be presenting a brand new summer-long special event called Frozen Summer Fun – Live. This fun-filled event is scheduled to last from July 5 through September 1 and is slated to feature:

  • Olaf on Summer Vacation: Olaf will chime in throughout the day to keep everyone updated on all his adventures. In addition, you can snag your very own Take-Along Olaf (which will be available in locations around the park) so he can join you on your summer vacation. Be sure to tag and share Olaf via social media sites with the hashtag #OlafSummerVacation because they may potentially be selected to appear as part of the fireworks spectacular.
  • Anna and Elsa’s Royal Welcome: Each day, at 11:00 a.m. a Frozen mini-parade will take place. Anna and Elsa will make their way down Hollywood Boulevard in a horse-drawn sleigh. Kristoff will be there, too, joined by a flurry of skaters, skiers, ice cutters and more! The procession will end in a special moment at the Sorcerer’s Hat Stage to officially welcome the visiting royalty.

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Walt Disney World Changes Park Hours and Extra Magic Hours For Several Dates Through 2014

by on June 26, 2014

2014-02-15 22.33.39Changes are a taking place! If you have a trip to Walt Disney World scheduled from starting anywhere from July 13 through the remainder of the year, you may want to double check park hours and Extra Magic Hour offerings, as both of these will be changing at most the the theme parks. Here’s what you need to know:

Magic Kingdom: On many days, the park’s operating hours have been extended. In addition, Evening Extra Magic Hours have been moved to different days. (Most of the time, the change is that Evening Extra Magic Hours have been added on Saturday evenings; they will no longer take place on Sunday or Monday evenings.) Also, additional Main Street Electrical Parade performances have been added.

Disney’s Hollywood Studios: On many days, the park’s operating hours have been extended. There are also changes to Extra Magic Hour days. Plus, additional Fantasmic! shows have been added.

Disney’s Animal Kingdom: On many days, the park’s operating hours have been extended. In addition, Morning Extra Magic Hours have changed; they will now take place for the most part on Sundays, with a few exceptions.

Epcot: Has seen no changes. Its park hours will remain consistent with before.

If you are planning a trip to Walt Disney World in the next six months, be sure to check out the Crowd Calendar for the latest updates.

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Review of Disneyland Single Rider Lines

by on June 26, 2014

Matterhorn Bobsleds Single Rider Pass

Matterhorn Bobsleds Single Rider Pass

Single rider lines at Disneyland Park and Disney California Adventure park can be a very effective way to save time in your touring day at Disneyland Resort. Additionally, they offer another perspective of your favorite attractions through their designated queues. Being a single rider usually means you are placed with another group of guests, which can also lead to fun conversations and even potential new friends with a shared interest in Disney parks. Single rider lines are currently available at the following Disneyland Resort attractions:

  • California Screamin’
  • Goofy’s Sky School
  • Grizzly River Run
  • Indiana Jones Adventure
  • Radiator Springs Racers
  • Soarin’ Over California
  • Splash Mountain

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