Archive for March, 2016

Fulton’s Crab House to Close for Refurbishment in April

by on March 31, 2016

©Rikki Niblett

©Rikki Niblett

For those who have been paying attention, a lot of new great restaurants have recently been announced for Disney Springs. In addition, some of the restaurants that have been staples of the shopping and dining district have been upgrading their menus, as well as their aesthetics.

Well, another long-standing Disney Springs restaurant will be going down for a lengthy refurbishment soon; Fulton’s Crab House will close on April 4 for a reimagining. When the riverboat-designed restaurant reopens, it will feature a new interior that includes a modern yachting theme, as well as a rooftop lounge that will overlook Disney Springs. There will also be an outdoor waterfront bar featuring a “build your own” fish boil and private dining areas.

The menu will also see a small change, however, the table service location will still feature fresh seafood and steaks. Specialties will include oyster shucking bar, Florida stone crab and Alaskan king crab, steaks and chops, as well as classic and curated cocktails.

There is no official reopening date, however the restaurant is expected to open in the fall.

New Details About Tiffins Restaurant at Disney’s Animal Kingdom

by on March 31, 2016

Can I just tell you how excited I am about the upcoming restaurant, Tiffins, that is slated to open at Disney’s Animal Kingdom in the Discovery Island section of the park? (For those who are unaware, the restaurant is named after a lunch tin used by travelers.) The signature restaurant will feature dishes inspired by African, Asian, European, and American cuisines.

The newest Walt Disney World table-service restaurant is part of the biggest expansion in the history of Disney’s Animal Kingdom and will offer dishes inspired by the world travels of the park’s creators.

Tiffins 1

©Disney

 

Tiffins specializes in the theme of travel which can be seen and felt everywhere you look. When you enter the rustic front doors, you’ll come upon an enormous map of the globe.  There restaurant will seat 252 people and will be separated into three different sections – The Trek Gallery will focus on Asia, the Safari Gallery will focus on Africa, and the Grand Gallery will focus on the animals that Disney protects through the Disney Conservation Fund.

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The Magic, The Memories, and Merch! March 2016 Photo Report of the Disney Outlet Store

by on March 31, 2016

MMM positiveWelcome to the latest edition of The Magic, The Memories, and Merch! the longest running monthly look at the Disney Outlet Stores in Orlando. March came in like a lion, and stayed that way. Tickets for the grand opening of Shanghai Disneyland went on sale (and immediately sold out). Meanwhile, the delays and cost overruns in Shanghai Disneyland could be having profound effects on the parks we go to over here. The strangest rumor in the history of theme parks surfaced with a possible Guardians of the Galaxy overlay to the Tower of Terror. Walt Disney World started charging for preferred parking, SeaWorld said this generation of killer whales would be its last, and Universal announced it will be bringing in a new restaurant into CityWalk that will debut with the first ever E-Ticket milkshakes. We’re still reeling from all the news, and that’s not even covering the announcements of a whole bunch of new up-charge events that basically had theme park social media ready to grab pitchforks and join Gaston to kill the Beast. But the best thing that happened in the entire month was this unbelievably self-entitled article written by a college freshman that suggests kids and old people shouldn’t go to theme parks

Now while all of you were out riding Rock n Roller Coaster with Steven Tyler, Outlet Intern Julia Mascardo and I were hard at work to bring you the quality Outlet coverage you expect deserve!

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).

Our first item this week is our first ever Made With Magic piece of merchandise to hit the Outlets. These were the Mickey Ears that lit up with different colors to Glow With the Show during some of the nighttime spectaculars at the parks. I have no actual financial numbers to support my theory, but having been the parks many, many times and only seeing a handful of guests wearing these, I’m going to assume Disney took a complete bath on this idea. It’s an item that cost over $25, is heavier than a normal pair of Mickey Ears, and the person wearing it can’t even see it glow. The sign on the bin said these were originally $23.17, but I haven’t seen them for that price in the parks. They were reduced to $9.99.

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Glowing…glowing…gone!

Next up was a whole slew of Disneyland 60th Anniversary items. There were so many that I have to wonder if alleged Disneyland fans like Guy Selga, Tom Bricker, and Seth Kubersky have ever bought a single piece of merchandise in the parks. Here’s a Disneyland 60th Barbie. Originally $24.95, now $14.99.

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Where’s DCA Ken?!

This next one is straight up bananas. We’ve covered unusable giant erasers at the Outlets in the past, but this one takes the cake. A giant diamond ring eraser. This is proof that there was not a single idea was discarded as being “too crazy” for Disneyland 60th merchandise. Originally $12.95, now $7.99.

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This diamond ring did bring back fond memories of a classic piece of Burgan Fine Art entitled “He Said Yes!

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Dani’s Best Week Ever March 31, 2016: Universal Orlando CityWalk

by on March 31, 2016

Spring has sprung! Orlando has welcomed Spring Breakers and Easter holidayers with open arms. Word on the street is that this past Saturday marked the most amount of passengers through Orlando International Airport in a single day! After a quick, less-than-24 hour trip to visit my parents in North Florida, I headed to Universal Orlando for an extensive stroll around CityWalk and a movie. It was evident that the Spring Break / Easter crowd had descended upon Universal Orlando, but I easily had an enjoyable time. I noticed a few details I hadn’t before and although I had the ability to go into the parks, the desire to do so gave way to enjoying CityWalk instead.

I journeyed to Universal property via exit 75A (West bound just after Kirkman), this ramp provides a great vantage point of Volcano Bay water park and Sapphire Falls resort construction. This side of Universal property has been under construction for a few years now with the building of Cabana Bay and now its expansion and the addition of Sapphire Falls and Volcano Bay.

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I arrived around 2:00 PM and of course there was a large amount of cars waiting at the parking plaza, and not all lanes were open; thankfully things moved relatively quickly. One tip I can offer for parking is to make sure you have your form of payment ready to go and know ahead of time whether or not you want to shell out the extra money for preferred parking. If, like me, you’re an annual passholder then have your pass and photo ID in hand ready to go.

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Disney World Crowd Calendar Report – March 13 to 19, 2016

by on March 30, 2016

How Crowded Was Walt Disney World Last Week?

How Crowded Was Walt Disney World Last Week?

Crowds at Walt Disney World held steady last week with the resort wide crowd coming in at, or slightly above predicted levels. Last week’s crowd levels represent the first sign of Spring Break crowd levels for 2016. If not for some days with crowd level ‘8’ or lower at Epcot we could have seen a full week of resort-wide crowd level ’10’s. Magic Kingdom was a solid crowd level ’10’ each weekday last week and Animal Kingdom was almost as busy.

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 – March 13 to 19, 2016

by on March 30, 2016

How Crowded Was Disneyland Resort Last Week?

How Crowded Was Disneyland Resort Last Week?

Last week, wait times at Disneyland closely followed what the Disneyland Crowd Calendar predicted. We saw crowd levels hit the highest points on our scale, consistent with the Spring Break-level crowds we see in late March and early April each year. As crowded as it was we only saw a park hit the top level on our scale once – a ’10’ for Disneyland Park on Saturday.

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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Universal Crowd Calendar Report – March 13 to 19, 2016

by on March 30, 2016

How Crowded Was Universal Orlando Last Week?

How Crowded Was Universal Orlando Last Week?

Last week, Universal Orlando parks were much more crowded than we have seen during the same period in years past. Strangely, crowds during the week were busier than what we saw on Sunday and Saturday, almost a mirror image of what the Universal Crowd Calendar predicted. Twister, Disaster! and The Incredible Hulk were all down this year which may help explain some of the increased wait times.

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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Ticket Primer for Shanghai Disney Resort

by on March 30, 2016

2016-03-13 12.14.38With the Shanghai Disney Resort’s opening day set for June 16, 2016, and beautiful photos slowly being leaked on social media, the excitement is building. On Monday, March 28, 2016, at 12:01 AM (Shanghai local time), tickets went on sale for Shanghai Disney Resort. For visitors to Walt Disney World or Disneyland, some of the ways Shanghai Disney Resort handles admission are going to seem very strange. In fact, without some advance planning, you may not be able to get in. Here’s a quick primer about Shanghai Disney Resort tickets.

  1. Only two options are available for tickets: One Day or Two Day. No annual passes, seasonal passes, or other multi-day tickets are sold. Buying a two-day ticket offers a 5% discount.
  2. Ticket prices are based on several factors, including age and height. Infants of 1.0 meter (39.4 inches) and below are free. A child is defined as 1.0-1.4 meters (55.1 inches, inclusive). An adult is anyone above 1.4 meters and below age 65. A senior is age 65 and above. In addition, there is a special price for the disabled, however certificate/proof of disability is required.
  3. Like airline tickets, Shanghai Disney Resort tickets are sold for select days in advance. Currently, tickets are available for days through September 13, 2016. Well, most days…opening day sold out in mere hours.
  4. Tickets get you admission to Shanghai Disney Resort, but a separate ticket is required for The Lion King production in Disneytown. There is no admission fee for Disneytown itself or Wishing Star Park.
  5. Tickets are likely to sell out for certain days. Although Disney has not officially released numbers about how many tickets are available per day, annual attendance estimates are for Shanghai Disney Resort to break 17 million. That works out to just shy of 50,000 per day. The city of Shanghai has a population of 24 million, and many of those people are going to want to be some of the first to see this new park. When the Shanghai Disney Store opened last year, people waited in line for three hours in the hopes to get in. After the first hour of opening, the store posted that it was “closed for the day” to prevent more people from joining the line. Yes, Disney is that popular.

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The Least Crowded Halloween Party of 2016

by on March 30, 2016

TP_Halloween_Wallpaper_iPadWelcome back to what has become a yearly tradition: predicting the least crowded Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween party. We’ll look back at last year’s recommendations in a bit and give you the full 2016 list, but first make sure you check out our dedicated page for a complete list of dates as well as a thorough description of what the Halloween party is.

In short, if you’re looking for the best 2016 Halloween Party to attend, we recommend Tuesday, September 13, 2016. Each of the past three years we recommended the equivalent party, September 17, 2013, September 16, 2014, and September 15, 2015. In 2013 it turned out to be the party with the lowest wait times by our calculation, while last year’s came in fourth. Last year’s didn’t do so great (as you can see in the chart below). The reason we still recommend that day is because the calendar of parties this year is much more like the ones in previous years. 2015 saw fewer parties and they began on September 15–later than in any other year that we’ve tracked. More on this below.

The entire list of parties and how we rank them can be found below, but here are some general rules:

  • September is less busy than October. There are exceptions, of course, but you are more likely to see crowds at the October parties.
  • Tuesdays are generally less busy than other days. Sundays and Fridays are busier than other days.

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Keeping Kids Busy at Flower and Garden

by on March 29, 2016

Some kids may enjoy everything that Epcot’s International Flower and Garden festival has to offer. For others, it may be as exciting as, well, watching grass grow. There are some activities that are generally enjoyed by kids of all ages, whether they are fans of plants or not. Here are some of the best.

musicplaygroundMusic Garden Melodies Playground

Kids (and the makers of migraine medicine) will love this playground located around the corner from the Imagination pavilion. Topiaries of Mickey and friends welcome you to this delightful play area. The playground is divided into two sections: a rope web climbing structure for ages 5-12 and a more traditional playground set for 5 and under. Both are under shade, and there are chairs and little “cabanas” for adults to relax under. Around the center between the two play areas are large musical interactive features for kids to bang on and make “beautiful music”.  Around the outside are several small gardens with plants themed to different types of musical instruments, providing adults something to do while the kids play.

cactusalleyCars Cactus Road Rally Playground

Another playground returning for this year is the Cars Cactus Road Rally Playground, located between Mouse Gear and Test Track. In addition to the cacti growing all along the paths in the area, there are informative signs to learn how cacti adapt to their environment. But the big draw for the kids is the playground area. The area is also shaded and there is some seating, but it is a much smaller area than the other playground. A typical playground climbing structure is there, but kids also will enjoy bouncing on the circle of tires located near the back of the play area. Make sure to take a look at the Lightning McQueen and Mater topiaries near by as well.

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