Disneyland (CA)

Disneyland Crowd Calendar Report – July 17 to 23, 2016

by on July 25, 2016

Disneyland Crowd Calendar Report

How Crowded Was Disneyland Last Week?

Crowds at Disneyland last week closely followed what the Disneyland Crowd Calendar predicted. Crowds on the weekend were less busy that what we saw during the week, as predicted. Only one prediction during the week missed by more than one index level.

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

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Disneyland vs. Disney World: The Magic Kingdom and Disneyland Park Part I

by on July 18, 2016

castles

As I’ve said before in this Disneyland vs. Disney World series, Disney never does the same thing twice! It’s a common misconception that Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom and the Disneyland Park are basically the same experience but on different coasts. That is absolutely not true! Even though Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom was inspired after the original Disneyland Park, it was never intended to be a carbon copy. Both parks offer their own exclusive attractions, restaurants, character interactions, style, and overall experience. Of course, that gives rise to the question of which park is truly the best? That’s the question I intend to answer in perhaps the most ambitious installment of Disneyland vs. Disney World: The Magic Kingdom and Disneyland Park Part I.

Due to the scope of this topic, the first part of this article will compare the two parks on categories such as characters, attractions, and dining. The second installment will compare the different themed lands represented at both parks and determine which one is the best!

castle

Sleeping Beauty Castle

Castles:

So you know I have to talk about the castles. As we all have our loyalties, comparing the two is always controversial. Still, the castles are not just the parks’ icons, but also their centerpieces, and each offers something unique to park guests. Disneyland’s Sleeping Beauty Castle has the distinction of being Disney’s original castle standing at 77 feet tall. It features the charming Sleeping Beauty Castle Walkthrough, a personal favorite of mine, with scenes and effects that tell the Sleeping Beauty story.

castle

Cinderella Castle

The design of the Magic Kingdom’s Cinderella Castle is very different than Disneyland’s and is a whopping 189 feet tall! While it doesn’t offer an attraction, Cinderella Castle does house Cinderella’s Royal Table and the exclusive Cinderella Castle Suite. Now I love Sleeping Beauty Castle for its history, its intimacy, and sense of accessibility. However, the grandeur of Cinderella Castle, the ability to dine with princesses inside its halls overlooking Fantasyland, and that view down Main Street, U.S.A. makes it the winner of this category.

Winner: Magic Kingdom

Amenities:

Let’s start with WiFi, shall we? The Magic Kingdom offers free WiFi. In fact, there’s free WiFi throughout most of the Walt Disney World Parks. But at Disneyland… Yeah. No such luck. Walt Disney World also offers MagicBands. It’s a soft plastic band that contains a guest’s ticket, credit card, dining reservations, PhotoPass info, and their FastPass+ reservations which can be made in advance online or on the MyDisneyExperience App. This new amenity was met with criticism at the start, but I love the luxury of having all I need on my wrist and getting into the park is so much faster!

magic.bands

MagicBands

The Magic Kingdom offers three free modes of transportation in the form of bus, monorail, and boat. But then again, this is necessary as the park sits on the Seven Seas Lagoon and can’t be reached by personal car. Now the Disneyland Park does not sit on the shore of a lake but across a spacious esplanade from Disney California Adventure, which is so convenient for Annual Passholders and those with Park Hoppers. Still, Disneyland guests have to park at a parking garage and either walk or take a tram to reach the esplanade.

Finally, both parks offer early entry into the parks. Disneyland offers Magic Mornings on select days for Disneyland Resort Guests with a valid 3+ day ticket while Walt Disney World offers Extra Magic Hours on certain days which could be early entry or extended nighttime park hours. Another difference is Extra Magic Hours are only for guests staying at Disney World Resorts. Tip: Magic Kingdom usually offers Extra Magic Hours Wednesdays and Fridays.

Winner: Magic Kingdom

FestivalofFantasy2_glover

Festival of Fantasy Parade

Parades:

Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom offers two main parades each day. The three o’clock afternoon parade, Festival of Fantasy, debuted in 2014 with fantastically detailed floats celebrating characters represented in Fantasyland. The star of the parade is a steampunk Maleficent dragon that actually breathes fire!

The Main Street Electrical Parade is the Magic Kingdom’s nighttime parade and is a classic in that it originally debuted at Disneyland in 1972! The Magic Kingdom obtained its own version in 1977, which ran off and on in the park through the years. But in 2010, it was reintroduced again and has been offered ever since. Disneyland’s current nighttime parade, Paint the Night, debuted only last year for Disneyland’s 60th Anniversary to rave reviews and offers incredible new lighting effects! It also pays tribute to the Main Street Electrical Parade through its soundtrack, which includes the classic parade’s famous theme song, “Baroque Hoedown.”

PaintTheNight_glover

Paint the Night Parade

The Disneyland Park also offers Mickey’s Soundsational Parade in the afternoon. Each float is themed after a particular musical instrument or style with the lead float featuring Mickey Mouse playing the drums. I mean, he really plays the drums. It’s fantastic! Like Festival of Fantasy, this parade also showcases some amazingly themed floats so detailed and imaginative that one viewing is never enough.

So this category was a difficult one for me. I LOVE Festival of Fantasy at the Magic Kingdom, but Mickey’s Soundsational Parade coupled with Paint the Night gives Disneyland the edge in this comparison.

Winner: Disneyland Park

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Disneyland Crowd Calendar Report – June 12 to 18, 2016

by on July 4, 2016

June 12 to 18, 2016

Disneyland Crowd Calendar Report

Between June 12 and June 18 Disneyland crowds continued to be slightly larger than we have seen in years past although the Disneyland Crowd Calendar resort wide crowds were within one index point of what we observed five out of the seven days. As crowded as Disneyland was, we only saw a crowd level ’10’ once, on Tuesday at Disneyland Park.

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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Pete’s Dragon Sneak Peek to Occur at Disney Parks

by on June 24, 2016

©Disney

©Disney

Are you excited about the upcoming re-imagined version of Pete’s Dragon? Well, beginning on July 1, Guests at both Disney California Adventure and Disney’s Hollywood Studios will get the opportunity to catch a sneak peek of this film.

At Disney’s Hollywood Studios, Guests can make a stop at One Man’s Dream’s theater while while Guests at Disney California Adventure will get to see this advance look in 3D with in-theater effects at the Sunset Showcase Theater (formerly Crown Jewel Theater) in Hollywood Land. The sneak peek will last about 10 minutes.

Pete’s Dragon is the tale of an orphaned boy, named Pete and his best friend Elliot. Oh and did I mention that Elliot happens to be a dragon?

Pete’s Dragon opens in theaters on August 12.

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Disneyland Crowd Calendar Report – May 15 to 21, 2016

by on June 7, 2016

Disneyland Crowd Calendar Report

How Crowded Was Disneyland Resort Last Week?

Disney’s latest quarterly report revealed an increase in attendance at Disneyland Resort which seems to be reflected in the wait times we saw last week. It may be that the popularity of Value Season pricing and short staffing is also causing some longer wait times since the relative increase in wait times is larger than the increase in attendance. Crowds dipped during the weekdays however which is a nice change to what we have seen in the weeks past. Guests using an optimal touring plan on a weekday likely didn’t notice the spike in wait times last week.

Note that the equivalent week last year preceded Memorial Day weekend which drives larger crowds while this year Memorial Day occurred a week later on May 30, 2016.

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

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Unofficial Guide Reader’s Survey – Best Travel Agents 2016

by on June 1, 2016

TouringPlans logoThe results are in, and we want to thank you, readers, for helping us and your fellow Disney and Universal fans plan great vacations. We are so happy to bring you our Best Travel Agent recommendations for 2016.

The Methodology for Finding the Best Travel Agents

First of all, it’s important to know how we got this list. These recommendations come from you, not us. TouringPlans and the Unofficial Guide survey readers about their vacations and one (of the VERY MANY – really, thank you to everyone who takes the time to do this) sections of the survey concerns how the trip was booked. We ask if you’d consider the agent “an expert” on the destination you booked and if you’d recommend him or her to a friend. To make our list the agent has to have a statistically significant number of responses and 100% positive answers on one question and more than 90% on the other. That’s all there is to it. We don’t swing the votes. And this isn’t a “Top 15” list. If 50 agents had qualified, 50 would be listed. That only 16 out of 1900 agents listed in the surveys received qualified tells you a lot about the quality of work these people do.

We’ve published this list in the Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World for years, but wanted to add it to our web site this year. Some of these agents we know, several we have personally worked with, and some are brand new to us. We hope this helps you find a travel agent if you’re looking for one. (You’ll notice that some agents and agencies have a relationship with TouringPlans in the form of complimentary subscriptions for qualifying travel packages. This has no bearing on the survey results.)

Finally, without further ado, we give you the Best Travel Agents for 2016, listed alphabetically by first name.

 

Best Travel Agents 2016

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Video: Full Performance of the New Frozen Musical at Disney California Adventure

by on May 27, 2016

We uploaded video of a full performance of the new “Frozen – Live at the Hyperion” musical at Disney California Adventure. The video was recorded from the mezzanine level of the theater so you get the best view of the show’s impressive video projection effects. Be sure to subscribe to our YouTube page for more videos from Disneyland, Walt Disney World, and much much more.

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Review of the New Frozen Musical at Disney California Adventure

by on May 27, 2016

Untitled

Image © Disney

This is a review of the new Frozen Musical at Disney California Adventure, which I think is officially called “Frozen – Live at the Hyperion,” but I’ve also seen it referred to as “Frozen Live” in other news stories and on signs/billboards. The show replaces the Aladdin musical which ran in the same theater for a whopping 13 years, as well as spawned a Disney cruise ship show and Broadway production. Aladdin was a fan favorite and huge crowd pleaser, so many were curious to see the Frozen show would be a worthy replacement. The new show is directed by Liesl Tommy, whose previous production on Broadway was “Eclipsed.” I’m a dumb and uncultured Disney blogger, so I have no idea what that show is, but a Google search tells me it’s very popular with critics and audiences.

A huge change from Aladdin is Frozen’s use of projection effects, there’s a ton of them. There are projections everywhere, including on the walls of the stage, the curtains that surround half the theater, the floor, and even sometimes the actors themselves. Thankfully the use of all that technology never gets in the way, it complements the story. Some of the show’s most impressive moments are when projections show movement from one area to another. There’s one instance which starts off near the castle in Arendelle, but then flies up to a snow-covered mountain. I got a similar sensation as when riding Soarin’ Over California; it looks that good. The downside to the use of all the projections is the lack of physical props and sets. With the exception of Elsa’s ice stairs, a few doors, and some other smaller objects, almost everything else projected on to screens or shown on a huge LCD screen that is used as the backdrop of the stage.

Image © Disney

All those earworm songs you know and love from the multi-platinum movie soundtrack are in the new Frozen musical. Of course all of the songs sound great thanks to the incredibly talented cast. Even if you’ve sick to death of “Let it Go,” you’ll appreciate the show-stopping way it’s presented in the show. A huge frosty staircase appears from the back of the stage and then rotates and swings over the audience as Elsa is climbing up it and singing. While that is happening, swirling snow and wind effects fill the entire theater. It’s all very impressive.

Frozen – Live at the Hyperion clocks in at just over 55 minutes, which means you need to be ready to dedicate a good chunk of your day to see it. Currently there are only three showings per a day. FASTPASS tickets are distributed first come, first served, and we expect them to sell out quickly every morning for at least the rest of the year (they lasted about 1 hour today).  There is a stand-by line available, but you are not guaranteed entry if you wait in this line. I heard that only 3000 people daily (all day, not each show) will be admitted from it. FastPass ticket holders are allowed to line up 1 hour before the show they obtained a ticket for.

Overall Frozen is a very enjoyable show that looks great visually and is a worthy successor to the previous Aladdin show. Even if you’ve watched the movie DVD 1000 times, I consider the musical a must-see thanks to its dazzling effects and wonderful cast. Have you seen Frozen – Live at the Hyperion? What did you think of the show? Do you recommend it to other people? Let me know in the comments below.

DSC00024 - Copy

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Disneyland Crowd Calendar Report – May 8 to 14, 2016

by on May 26, 2016

How Crowded Was Disneyland Resort Last Week?

How Crowded Was Disneyland Resort Last Week?

Midweek crowdedness is the new norm for Disneyland Resort. For three of the last four weeks we have seen midweek crowds as busy as weekends which is something that has not happened in years past. Value pricing for single day tickets during the week as well as the lack of annual passholder blockouts may be combining to bring an abnormal number of guests to the park during the week. It will be interesting to see if this trend continues through the summer months.

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

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Guests Can Participate in “Speak Like a Whale Day” at Disney Parks This June

by on May 25, 2016

 

©Disney

©Disney

I am not ashamed to admit it. I am really looking forward to Finding Dory. Finding Nemo was always a favorite of mine, so I’m excited to head back into the Big Blue World with Dory, Marlin, Nemo, Crush, Squirt, alongside brand new characters.

To celebrate the upcoming film, Guests will be able to participate in “Speak Like a Whale Day” on June 11 at both Walt Disney World and the Disneyland Resorts. Here’s how:

    • Guests at Disneyland Resort and the Walt Disney World Resort will receive a complimentary button to celebrate the day.
    • At the Downtown Disney District at Disneyland Resort and Disney Springs at Walt Disney World, families can take part in unique themed activities, jam out to a live DJ, and participate in games and giveaways. Young guests can also attend “Whale Speak University” and give speaking the language that Dory seemed to master a try.
    • At The Seas with Nemo & Friends in Epcot, guests can learn about the real-life versions of the characters from the film and see them in their aquarium home. In addition, experts from Disney’s Animals, Science and Environment Team will be on hand throughout the day to help guests find Dory and her friends, as well as give them a closer look at their world.

In addition, for those who didn’t know, you can now find Dory and some of her new friends from the upcoming film at the Turtle Talk with Crush attraction in Epcot’s The Seas with Nemo & Friends Pavilion and at Disney California Adventure park.

Finding Dory swims into theaters on June 17, 2016.

 

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