Archive for June, 2015

DisneyQuest Will Close at Downtown Disney

by on June 30, 2015

©Disney

©Disney

Bye bye Cyber Space Mountain. See you later Buzz Lightyear’s AstroBlasters. Sayonara Virtual Jungle Cruise. DisneyQuest Indoor Interactive Theme Park will be officially closing its doors sometime in 2016. The extremely dated video and virtual game center which featured 5 floors of virtual worlds, 3D encounters, and classic video games will be making way for the recently announced NBA Experience.

NBA Experience will feature hands-on activities that put guests right in the middle of the NBA action, creating an immersive experience of both the game and its players. Guests will enjoy unique NBA video productions, a restaurant, and a store.

DisneyQuest opened in 1998 in Downtown Disney’s West Side and was originally supposed to become a chain, however, the idea didn’t take off like Disney had hoped.

There has been no official closing date announced, so I’ll make sure to keep you posted in the future.

Disney Visa Discounts at Polynesian Villas Studios

by on June 30, 2015

This happy family can you you at 35% off. Photo ©Disney

This happy family can be you at 35% off. Photo ©Disney

Big mahalo to Stephanie Hudson with Mouse Fan Travel for the heads up on this newly released offer!

Are you looking for a close walk back to your room after a couple of rounds at Trader Sam’s? Do you hold a Disney Visa from Chase? Are you traveling July 5 to October 3?

If you said yes to all these, Disney is offering a 35% discount on standard view studios at Disney’s Polynesian Village Villas & Bungalows when you book through your travel agent or with Disney over the phone and use your Disney Visa. Rack rates for these rooms range from $439 to $490/night during these dates so this offer can save you up to $170 a night, which is a lot of drinks at Sam’s – even if you spring for the souvenir tiki mug.

The Land Pavilion Triple Play: Ride, Tour, Eat at Epcot

by on June 30, 2015

© Sarah Graffam

Epcot’s Behind the Seeds tour (photos by Sarah Graffam)

The Land Pavilion in Epcot’s Future World offers Disney World guests a cornucopia of experiences with its multiple attractions, a fantastic food court, a table service restaurant (that rotates!), and a behind-the-scenes tour. Even better is that many of these experiences are an excellent way to appreciate the original goal of Epcot—for guests to have fun while they learn. For these reasons, my family recently decided to complete a Land Pavilion Triple Play. Come along as we ride, eat, and tour at the Land Pavilion!

Creating a Touring Plan for a Triple Play

TouringPlans logoI decided that creating a personalized Touring Plan would be an excellent way to test the timing of spending an afternoon in Epcot experiencing the Land Pavilion’s attractions, taking its Behind the Seeds tour, and eating dinner at the Garden Grill Restaurant.

This plan would include a FastPass+ reservation at the Land’s Soarin’. To round out our allotment of three FastPass+ reservations per day, we would start our plan with just enough time to use FastPass+ at Spaceship Earth and the Seas with Nemo & Friends before heading to the Land Pavilion.

My first step was to book the Behind the Seeds tour. Booking the last tour of the day—at 4:30 PM—seemed like the best way to maintain a relaxed pace throughout the rest of our day. At the very latest, we would arrive at the Land Pavilion with enough time to experience the Living with the Land attraction before the tour. Living with the Land is a boat cruise through the same greenhouses where the in-depth Behind the Seeds walking tour takes place. This makes it a perfect way to get excited for the tour.

© Sarah Graffam

Guests enjoying Living with the Land boat attraction

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The Magic, The Memories, and Merch! June 2015 Photo Report of the Disney Outlet Store

by on June 30, 2015

MMM positiveWe have reached the end of June and the non-stop amount of theme park new continues. Most importantly, our prayers were answered and Disney World banned the use of selfie sticks at any of its four theme parks, two water parks, and DisneyQuest. Over at Animal Kingdom, snacks shaped in the form of animal poop became an instant success last week, generating more viral attention for Disney than I have seen in years, yet they have already been taken off the market. Meanwhile at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, Frozen Summer Fun began its summer run, but with the good comes the bad, as it was also announced that The Magic of Disney Animation would be joining the Studio Backlot Tour, the Legend of Capt Jack Sparrow, Sounds Dangerous, American Idol Experience, and the Sorcerer’s Hat in the great big theme park in the sky. Universal, already in the middle of building an E-Ticket attraction (Skull Island: The Reign of Kong), a new hotel (Sapphire Falls) and a water park (Volcano Bay) also just committed to what looks like a MAJOR renovation of the Incredible Hulk Coaster and the removal of what is expected to be Twister: Ride It Out for a rumored attraction based on the Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon. Don’t the theme parks know it’s summer and they are supposed to be resting on their laurels while the theme parks are packed?!

Enough jibber jabber! Who is ready to hit the Outlets? Remember that clicking on any picture will open a full size version of it (don’t say we didn’t warn you).

This trip started off with a surreal experience at the Disney Character Warehouse on I-Drive (close to Universal) because everything in the store was 50% off the already discounted prices. A lot of stuff that was normally in the store was gone though, such as Tsum Tsums, most of the pins, all the plush, etc. Later in our journey I’ll explain why this once-in-a-lifetime sale was happening. However, to show the type of deal that this was, that next level bananas Mama Melrose sign had been brought down to “just” $30 after all the discounts were applied. I was tempted to buy it, if only as a gag gift for Len Testa, but somehow held back.

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I promised to all that I will personally buy the BoardWalk Pizza Window sign if it is ever for sale. Because that will mean the place has finally been closed and I’ll be in euphoria.

It’s long been known that WDW Today’s own Matt Hochberg is terrified of the Dinosaur attraction at DHS, and you can imagine why if his parents ever got him this photo frame as a kid. I actually wish Universal’s Halloween Horror Nights merch was this scary. Originally $14.95, this was marked down to $7.99 (and keep in mind that would be $4 after the final discount.)

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Mesmerizing.

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Universal Crowd Calendar Report – June 21 to 27, 2015

by on June 30, 2015

The end of June is historically a busy time at Universal Orlando with the end of school bringing an influx of teens and ‘tweens to experience Universals thrills but this year’s crowds fell well short of what have seen in year’s past. The Universal Crowd Calendar predictions for the second half of the week were close to what we observed but not so much on Monday through Wednesday.

Let’s look at how the crowd levels stacked up each day last week on the TouringPlans.com Universal Orlando Resort Crowd Report:

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Disney World Crowd Calendar Report – June 21 to 27, 2015

by on June 30, 2015

Last week crowds at Disney World dipped a little lower than expected on Monday and Tuesday thanks to lower waits at Epcot and Animal Kingdom but otherwise followed the curve predicted by the Disney World Crowd Calendar. That curve itself is interesting because it shows that weekends tend to be less busy than weekdays which is not usually the case other times of the year. It is summer now and that means family vacations are not determined by school schedules since most schools are not in session. Travellers tend to use Saturday and Sunday as travel days which means the parks are busier during the week.

Let’s look at how the crowd levels stacked up each day last week on the Touringplans.com Disney World Crowd Calendar Report:

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Disneyland Crowd Calendar Report – June 21 to 27, 2015

by on June 30, 2015

Last week, the Disneyland Crowd Calendar predicted larger crowds early then lower crowds by the weekend but in fact we saw flat crowd levels most of the week. Crowds were slightly above the yearly average although we did see one level ‘4’ and one level ‘9’. Otherwise, crowds stayed in the ‘6’ to ‘8’ range, typical for this time of year. Disneyland crowds were fairly stable day-to-day (except for Saturday) while Disney California Adventure fluctuated quite a bit.

Let’s look at how the crowd levels stacked up each day last week on the TouringPlans.com Disneyland Resort Crowd Report:

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The Magic of Disney Animation to Close at Disney’s Hollywood Studios

by on June 29, 2015

Copyright Disney

Copyright Disney

One more attraction will close its doors at Disney’s Hollywood Studios later this July. The Magic of Disney Animation will be closing on July 12. This impacts not only the meet and greet opportunities with Mickey, Minnie, Baymax and Hiro, but also means that guests may no longer view the video featuring Mushu from Mulan teaching guests about the animation process or access the Animation Academy.

Guests will still have the opportunity to meet Mickey and Minnie at the park in yet-to-be-disclosed locations; however, Hiro and Baymax are unlikely to make the move to another location. (The Incredibles meet and greet quietly left the area earlier this month.)

The Animation Gallery will remain open until late August.

This is just another closure in a long line at this park lately, starting with The American Idol Experience, the Studio Backlot Tour, The Legend of Captain Jack Sparrow, and more. Of course all of this appears to be ahead of the impending Star Wars announcement (and one would assume additional changes); however, I think many are getting exceptionally frustrated (I can’t be the only one) with the number closed attractions combined with no knowledge of what is actually coming to this theme park.

I am anxiously waiting for an announcement of whatever is in store for Disney’s Hollywood Studios.

Thinking of a Disney Wedding?

by on June 29, 2015

rainbow cake

All couples are welcome to celebrate at Walt Disney World. (Photo – Disney, illustration – Laurel Stewart)

Weddings are on a lot of folks’ minds these days as a result of last week’s historic Supreme Court decision on same-sex marriage. So now that everyone is able to legally wed his or her prince or princess, why not think about tying the knot in the most Magical Place on Earth?

Same-sex marriage was already legally recognized in Florida since the beginning of 2015, and Disney has allowed any couple to have a commitment ceremony, wedding, or vow renewal for several years. They are pros at making sure all couples can have the ceremony of their dreams.

So where to start? Well first you need a date. And, as we are smack in the middle of wedding season right now, if you don’t want to wait to marry any longer, Walt Disney World may not be able to accommodate you. How far ahead you can book depends on the wedding package you choose. And the wedding package is mostly dictated by the number of guests attending your wedding. These numbers are for Disney Fairytale Weddings in Florida – Cruise Line, Disneyland, Aulani, and Swan & Dolphin weddings have different criteria.
This is by no means a comprehensive guide, but a start to help you see if a Disney wedding might be something in your future.

Disney Wedding Pricing and Policies
Package Guests Base Cost Booking Window Minimum Stay Deposit
Memories Max. 4 $2500 6 Months 2 Nights $500
Escape Max. 18 $5500 8 Months 4 Nights $1000
Wishes Min. 18 $12000 12 Months n/a $4000

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Universal Dining: Emeril’s New Cocktail Menu

by on June 29, 2015

A longtime favorite of TouringPlans readers, Emeril’s Orlando is the Florida outpost of Emeril Lagasse’s New Orleans restaurant and has probably the best food and wine list within all of CityWalk, and considering the new competition including Vivo Italian Kitchen, Antojitos Authentic Mexican and The Cowfish, that is quite the accomplishment. The restaurant itself sits in prime real estate at Universal, overlooking the park’s lagoon as you make your way to Islands of Adventure. The food is Louisiana-style with Lagasse’s signature creative flair, with a menu that is routinely being updated with new dishes.

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Emeril’s in Universal CityWalk. (photo by Brandon Glover)

We were recently asked to try out Emeril’s new cocktail menu, and we felt we needed to bring along an expert in the field of theme park drinking to fully gauge the quality of this menu. A call was placed to the agents of Drunk@Disney, and after tough negotiations he agreed to join crack photographer Brandon Glover on this journey. The theme of the new menu  is simple: Classic New Orleans both pre-prohibition and modern. Emeril’s wanted to focus on providing an authentic new Orleans experience. Did they pull it off? Let’s check it out…

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Monk’s Revolt, The New G&T, Smoking Gun, and Passion Fruit Hurricane

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