SATURDAY SIX: Six Surprises of Universal’s Hogwarts Express

by on July 12, 2014

This week’s SATURDAY SIX takes a look at Six Surprises of Universal’s Hogwarts Express. With the opening of Diagon Alley this week, most of the headlines have been focused on Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts. Whether it’s the incredible animatronics inside the queue, the amazing ride itself, the seemingly never-ending outdoor portion of the extended queue, or the oft-reported downtime, much of the week’s conversation has been spent on the newest E-Ticket attraction at Universal Studios Florida. However, right next door to Diagon Alley another ride opened on the same day with almost no issues, but has received much less fanfare. Maybe it’s a case of the squeaky wheel gets the oil, but for our money the Hogwarts Express was one of the most wonderful additions to the Wizarding World expansion.

The Hogwarts Express is the first attraction in theme park history to go from one park to another. With all the details in the King’s Cross and Hogsmeade stations along with the ride itself, this edition of the SATURDAY SIX is going to look at six of our favorite surprises of this newest attraction, starting with…

# 6 – Live Musicians in King’s Cross Station


A saxophone player that would make Bleeding Gums Murphy and Lisa Simpson proud (photo by Brandon Glover)

The word you are going to see in pretty much every review of anything related to the Wizarding World at Universal is authenticity, and one small touch that adds so much depth to the experience of King’s Cross is the live musicians that play as you walk into the queue. You can hear men and women playing violins, guitars, and saxophones as you enter the cavernous building. All that’s missing is a hat to leave tips in.

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Disneyland and Walt Disney World Offering Braille Menus for Guests

by on March 2, 2014

A quick note about something I wanted you all to be aware of: guests who have visual disabilities can now request Braille menus at select food and beverage locations at both Walt Disney World and Disneyland Resort.

This is offered in conjunction with being able to request menu reading assistance from a Cast Member, a service available to guests at any dining establishment.

If guests need any additional assistance, they may also choose to visit Guest Relations in any park to learn more about other services that are offered to help them on their visit to the Resort.

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Update: The View From Every Disney World Resort Room – Riverside, French Quarter, and Pop Century

by on October 22, 2013

At the beginning of October we launched Hotel Room Views, showing the view you’ll get at every Disney World hotel room. (Read the original blog post here.)

Over the past 24 hours we’ve added photos from every room at Port Orleans Riverside, Port Orleans French Quarter, and Pop Century Resort. These join the All-Star Sports, Saratoga Springs, Polynesian, Wilderness Lodge, and All-Star Movies resorts already done. We should have Caribbean Beach, Coronado Springs and Animal Kingdom Lodge – Jambo House done this week too.

This is a huge project. Besides taking more than 30,000 photos, you can search for rooms by the room’s cost on any date through 2014, the type of beds in the room, handicap accessibility information, how noisy it is, walking distance to the lobby, food and bus, and more. There are probably some typos in the data – I know of some Alligator Bayou rooms in Riverside that need adjusting, for example. Drop us a line if you see anything odd.

Here’s the roll-out schedule for the remaining resorts:

Week Ending Resort
October 4 All-Star Sports Done!
October 11 Polynesian Done!
Saratoga Springs Done!
Wilderness Lodge Done!
October 18 Port Orleans French Quarter Done!
Port Orleans Riverside Done!
Caribbean Beach
All-Star Movies Done!
Pop Century Done!
October 25 Coronado Springs
Animal Kingdom Lodge – Jambo House
November 1 All-Star Music
Art of Animation
November 8 Fort Wilderness (campsites and cabins)
Beach Club
Yacht Club
November 15 Contemporary Resort
BoardWalk Inn
Grand Floridian
November 22 Bay Lake Tower
Animal Kingdom Lodge – Kidani Village
December 6 Wilderness Lodge Villas
Old Key West
Saratoga Springs Treehouses
December 13 Grand Floridian Villas
Beach Club Villas




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Disney’s Disability Access Service – A Definitive Guide

by on October 15, 2013

In mid-September, in response to reports from the national media that its Guest Assistance Cards were being rampantly abused, The Walt Disney Company announced that it would be revising its guest assistance policies in order to curb fraudulent use of the assistance system at both of its American parks. The Company slated an October 9, 2013, launch date for its new assistance system and was mostly close-mouthed about the differences between new and old policies, despite insistence from the blogging and travel agent community that official word had been released about how the new procedures would function.

Last week in both Disneyland and Disney World, the new protocol, now called Disability Access Service (DAS), rolled out. Because we know you have so many questions about DAS, following is a two-part overview. First, I’ll look at how a DAS card is obtained if you have previously used GAC or are new to the assistance system. Once the process has been described, I’ll answer some FAQs that I’ve collected over the past couple of weeks and revised as information has been revealed over the past few days.

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Hotel Room Views at Disney’s Polynesian Resort

by on October 8, 2013

Last week we launched our Hotel Room View project with a look at Disney’s All-Star Sports Resort. Today we’re launching Disney’s Polynesian Resort.

You can see pictures of the room views at Disney’s Polynesian Resort here:

Just like last week, you’re able to search by room view (Garden, Lagoon, Magic Kingdom), beds (e.g., 1 king or 2 queens), and ADA accessibility, plus walking distance to the lobby and transportation, and more. You can also do side-by-side comparisons of two rooms when you mark them as “favorites.”

The Poly is a gorgeous resort, no doubt. Still, some room views are better than others. For example, rack rate starts at $422 for a Garden View room with 2 queen beds. If you leave it up to Disney, you could get room 1418 at Tuvalu, with a nice view of … a wall. And trees:


Or you could request 2922 at Tokelau, same price:

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Walt Disney World Guide for Guests with Cognitive Disabilities

by on October 5, 2013

Cover of the New Guide

Cover of Disney’s Guide
Copyright Disney

Following Disney’s recent announcement of the Disney Accessibility System/Disability Access Service (DAS) program, the company recently released the guide Planning a Trip to the Walt Disney World® Resort – A Resource for Guests with Cognitive Disabilities including Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). The 40-page guide is a comprehensive look at theme park attractions, transportation, and other areas of concern for guests with cognitive or sensory disabilities. Particularly helpful is the list of potential concerns for attractions including noise, wetness, scariness, and elements of surprise, among several others. The guide is on the Disney company web site at

Additionally, Disney has released a brief guide to the DAS program, which can be found here.

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