Disneyland (CA)

Disney is Celebrating Disney PhotoPass Day on August 19

by on August 17, 2016

©Disney

©Disney

If you’ll be in Walt Disney World this Friday, August 19, you’ll be able to take part in an event promoting Disney PhotoPass. Disney PhotoPass Day will promote making memories. (Making memories. Taking pictures is making memories.)

Both Walt Disney World and Disneyland will be taking part in this event which will feature exciting offerings and experiences for Guests to enjoy.

At both the Magic Kingdom and Epcot, you’ll be able to take part in special character meet and greet experiences. Meet Pinocchio, Gideon, and Foulfellow in Storybook Circus in New Fantasyland at the Magic Kingdom from 9:00 a.m. until 4:00 p.m. At Epcot, you’ll find the Queen of Hearts who will join Alice in the United Kingdom Pavilion, Dopey will join Snow White in the Germany Pavilion, and Mushu will meet with Mulan at the China Pavilion.

In addition, at one select location throughout each of the four theme parks and at Disney Springs at Walt Disney World and at both Disneyland and Disney California Adventure at Disneyland Resort, Guests will be able to receive a complimentary photo that will be available to download at no charge as part of the #DisneyPhotoPassDay celebration. Guests will find these photos in their My Disney Experience app at the Walt Disney World Resort and Disneyland app at the Disneyland Resort. Participating locations include:

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Main Street Electrical Parade to End Its Run at Walt Disney World

by on August 11, 2016

©Rikki Niblett

©Rikki Niblett

Walt Disney World will officially say goodbye to the long-standing nighttime parade, the Main Street Electrical Parade. It will end its historic run at the Magic Kingdom on October 9 and then will make its way over to Disneyland Resort for a limited time encore run.

This is the quintessential Disney nighttime parade with a storied past. It began at Disneyland park in 1972 and has been going back and forth between different Disney Parks throughout the years. In 2010, the parade begin its most recent run at the Magic Kingdom.

So, Disneyland fans, what will this mean for Paint the Night? Well, it had already been announced that Paint the Night would be ending its run soon.  The parade will continue nightly performances, just prior to the Disneyland Forever fireworks, through September 5 as part of the Disneyland Resort Diamond Celebration. However, it isn’t going away completely at that point. The parade will be returning on select nights during the holiday season this year. There is currently no word yet on what exact dates Guests can expect to see Paint the Night throughout the rest of the year at Disneyland.

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Disneyland Crowd Calendar Report – July 24 to 30, 2016

by on August 8, 2016

Disneyland Crowd Calendar Report

How Crowded Was Disneyland Resort Last Week?

Other than slightly lower crowds than expected at Disney California Adventure on Sunday and Monday, crowds at Disneyland Resort were within one index level of what the Disneyland Crowd Calendar predicted each day last week. Monday and Tuesday were the busiest days of the week with crowds slightly lower as the week went on.

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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A Primer on Visiting Disneyland Solo

by on August 3, 2016

Sleeping Beauty Castle at NightFirst and foremost, I feel compelled to point out that my favorite way to visit Disneyland is with my family and friends. All else being equal, a visit to any Disney park feels most “right” to me when I’m with my people.  

With that said, my job takes me to Los Angeles pretty regularly lately, and one way to pass your downtime when you’re half way across the country by yourself is to visit The Mouse. While it is by no means my ideal way to visit Disneyland, visiting Disneyland solo is better than not visiting Disneyland at all, and there are actually some perks to traveling alone that you don’t see even when you have just one more person. Read on to learn more!

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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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