Recent News

Disney Offers U.S. Military Special Tickets and Resort Rates

by on July 22, 2014

©Disney

©Disney

In honor of our troops, both the Walt Disney World Resort and Disneyland Resort will not only be offering U.S. Military special discounted room reservation rates, but they are also offering them promotional military ticket options.

The brave men and women who serve our country can purchase specially priced tickets from August 25, 2014, through September 30, 2015 for both Walt Disney World and Disneyland Resort. (Disneyland tickets can actually be purchased through October 1, 2015.) These special tickets may be purchased by active and retired U.S. military personnel (which includes active and retired members of the U.S. Coast Guard, National Guard and Reservists). Active and retired U.S. military personnel can purchase the Disney Military Promotional Tickets for not only themselves, but also up to five additional family members or friends. Keep in mind that there is an expiration date for these tickets; they must be used by October 3, 2015, and they are non-transferable. Valid military identification will be required for purchase and use.

At Walt Disney World, there are three different Military Promotional Ticket options, which include:

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Walt Disney World To Hold ESPN Fantasy Football Convention

by on July 15, 2014

©Disney

©Disney

Are you ready for some football? It seems so weird to ask in JULY, but football season is just around the corner, and this year Walt Disney World is getting in on the fantasy football fun.

Over at ESPN Wide World of Sports, from August 22-23, Disney will be holding the inaugural ESPN Fantasy Football Convention. (For those who follow along with my In Case You Missed It posts, you may have seen me mention the event was taking place about a month ago.)

The convention sounds like a dream for those who love their fantasy football. The festivities will include events such as the exclusive ESPN Tailgate Party, where guests can mix and mingle with ESPN talent, like Matthew Berry, Adam Schefter, Chris Mortensen, Tim Hasselbeck, Stephania Bell, Trey Wingo, Robert Flores and Sara Walsh. The Tailgate Party will also feature the first ever ESPN Chili Bowl. (Yum!) Here chili will be prepared by world class chefs from around the world, and guests can judge which is the best of the best. (I’m ready to vote now…my spoon is currently in hand.)

The next morning, things will kick off with a breakfast that features characters dressed ready to catch the pigskin. Guests can also witness a live broadcast of Fantasy Football Now, which will be aired on ESPN2, plus they can take part in a post-broadcast Q&A session. The evening will end with an opportunity to participate in a live fantasy football draft, where this season’s winner will receive a customized trophy!

The event costs $349.00 per person to participate, and registration is now open at the ESPN Wide World of Sports page.

Who do you want on your fantasy team?

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Trattoria al Forno Restaurant To Open at Disney’s BoardWalk

by on July 15, 2014

©Disney

©Disney

While it’s well known that Kouzzina by Cat Cora is slated to close this fall (its last day of operation is September 30), what we didn’t know and have all been waiting to hear is what new restaurant was going to take its place.

Well, wait no more! Disney has officially announced that a brand new Italian restaurant, called Trattoria al Forno will be opening sometime this December at Disney’s BoardWalk Inn.

This brand new restaurant will serve up delectable, Old World-inspired dishes, showcasing dishes from the different regions of the country. Menu items will include Neopolitan-style pizzas, Bolognese with house-made cavatelli;  whole roasted fish with roasted vegetables; semolina tagliatelli carbonara; grilled steak; a seasonal risotto; pork chop alla Milanese; chicken breast alla Parmagiana with tagliatelle pasta; shrimp with garlic, capers and anchovy butter with polenta;  baked lasagna; slow-cooked lamb shank with polenta; ruffled campanelle pasta with green beans, roasted potatoes and Genovese pesto; and eggplant rollatini.  

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New Behind the Scenes Tour of Cirque du Soleil’s “La Nouba”

by on July 15, 2014

Cirque du Soleil La Nouba at Downtown DisneyIf you are a huge fan of the Cirque du Soleil show, “La Nouba”, then you will enjoy Disney’s latest backstage tour! Called L’Experience, guests who book this tour will not only receive a ticket for the show, but they will also get an unprecedented, unique look at some of the backstage happenings of the popular, long-running show.

This brand new tour experience gives fans of the show the opportunity to take an inside peek at the whimsical costuming, to get a unique look at the backstage area, and to meet a performer from the show. Tour participants also receive popcorn and soft drinks and a gift bag filled with Cirque du Soleil merchandise, plus, they get a 10% discount coupon for The Cirque Boutique shop. Finally, Front and Center category tickets for the 6:00 p.m. show are included.

This package is available for performances on Fridays and Saturdays and costs $250 (plus tax) for adults (ages 10+) and $215 (plus tax) for children (ages 9 and under).

For more information or to purchase tickets, call (407) W-DISNEY or the Cirque du Soleil box office at (407) 939-7600.

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Walt Disney World Newsworthy Notes – 7/9/14

by on July 9, 2014

Hello all! Today, I bring just a few smaller things you may need to know that are currently taking place at Walt Disney World. In addition, I’ve got some details that you may need to know if you have a trip scheduled for later this fall. These are just a few minor notes that could be beneficial for you to know as you progress with your planning process. So, here we go:

  • First, we have a couple of refurbishments I wanted to note. Currently, It’s Tough To Be a Bug at Disney’s Animal Kingdom is closed until August 10, reopening on August 11. Moving over to the Magic Kingdom, the Walt Disney World Railroad will see maintenance work from September 28 through November 8, reopening on November 9. Finally, Disney’s Blizzard Beach water park will see its annual refurbishment from January 4 through March 14, reopening on March 15.
  • We all know that Kouzzina will be closing at Disney’s BoardWalk Inn on September 30. The location will be re-open later this year as an all new restaurant. In the interim, Flying Fish Cafe will be offering breakfast beginning on October 1 and lasting until December 7. Breakfast will be served from 7:30 a.m. until 11:00 a.m. and will include dishes like a waffle with tiramisu mascarpone, frittata with roasted red pepper and prosciutto, and soft polenta with fennel sausage.
  • Guests who are still cheering on their favorite World Cup teams will now have two more locations to watch the final games from. At Epcot, guests can choose to watch from the Festival Center (the former Wonders of Life Pavilion, which is located between Mission: SPACE and Ellen’s Energy Adventure). The Festival Center will open one hour before game timem and food and beverages will be sold at this location. Guests at Disney’s Animal Kingdom can visit Restaurantosaurus to view the remaining games. There are three games remaining, with the World Cup Final taking place at 3:00 p.m. EDT on Saturday, July 13.
  • The minimum age to travel alone on Disney’s Magical Express has been lowered. The age for unaccompanied minors is now 12. It had previously been 16.
  • Beginning on July 27, PhotoPass print packages will no longer be offered for sale table-side at select restaurants, including ‘Ohana, 1900 Park Fare, Chef Mickey’s, Disney’s Spirit of Aloha Dinner Show, Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue and Tusker House Restaurant. At Cindrella’s Royal Table and Akershus, PhotoPass print packages will be available until January 4, 2015. Beginning January 5, the inclusive photo package option will be discontinued. Once the PhotoPass print packages are discontinued, guests will need to view and purchase photos via the My Disney Experience app and website.

That’s it for this edition of Newsworthy Notes…what are your thoughts?

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Candlelight Processional Dining Packages Now On Sale

by on July 8, 2014

Candlelight Processional

©Disney

The Candlelight Processional, which takes place at Epcot’s America Gardens Theatre, is honestly one of the best parts of the holiday season. What is better than a celebrity narrator, a mass choir, and an orchestra performing a re-telling of the Christmas Story? To ensure that you get to see this fantastic show, which is extremely popular, Disney offers the Candlelight Processional Dining Package, and I bring good news! The package is now on sale!

This year’s Candlelight Processional takes place from November 28 through December 30. Showtimes are at 5:00 p.m., 6:45 p.m., and 8:15 p.m. nightly. (With the exception of December 7, which will only have showtimes at 6:45 p.m. and 8:15 p.m.) While most of the celebrity narrators haven’t yet been announced, we do know a few of them. The list currently includes:

  • November 28-29: Jodi Benson
  • November 30-December 2: TBD
  • December 3-4: TBD
  • December 5-6: Whoopi Goldberg
  • December 7-8: TBD
  • December 9-11: TBD
  • December 12-14: TBD
  • December 15-17: Sharon Stone (New)
  • December 18-20: Ana Gasteyer (New)
  • December 21-23: Marlee Matlin
  • December 24-25: TBD
  • December 26-27: TBD
  • December 28 – 30: Steven Curtis Chapman

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Walt Disney World Extended Monorail Operating Hours for July 4 Holiday

by on July 2, 2014

Late last month, I reported that Walt Disney World was adjusting monorail schedules in order to perform work to update the systems. However, during the busy Independence Day weekend, Disney has adjusted the monorail operating schedule to accommodate the large influx of crowds.

Here’s how the monorail schedule will look over the next three days:

July 3 & 4

  • Magic Kingdom Resort Beam: 7:00 a.m. – 3:00 a.m.
  • Magic Kingdom Express Beam: 7:30 a.m. – 2:00 a.m.
  • Epcot Beam: 8:00 a.m. – 2:30 a.m.

July 5

  • Magic Kingdom Resort Beam: 7:00 a.m. – 12:00 midnight
  • Magic Kingdom Express Beam: 8:30 a.m. – 11:30 p.m.
  • Epcot Beam: 8:00 a.m. – 11:00 p.m.

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Disney to Offer Frozen Summer Fun Premium Package During the Frozen Summer Fun Live Event

by on July 2, 2014

A "Frozen" Summer at Disney's Hollywood Studios

©Disney

Who else is excited about the all new Frozen event, called Frozen Summer Fun Live? The fun takes place at Disney’s Hollywood Studios from July 5 through September 1 and guests can choose to experience the excitement by purchasing a special, exclusive package. The Frozen Summer Fun Premium Package will offer guests reserved viewing areas for three different events that will take place during the day’s festivities.

To start off the royal-filled day, guests will meet at Min and Bill’s Dockside Diner at 10:30 a.m. to check in and enjoy some refreshments. Guests will also have a reserved viewing area for Anna and Elsa’s Royal Welcome, which starts at 11:00 a.m.  The Royal Welcome is essentially a mini-parade featuring Anna, Elsa, Kristoff, skaters, ice cutters, and skiers. Following the procession will be a short ceremony at the Sorcerer’s Hat Stage to officially welcome the visiting royalty.

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Hogwarts Express REVIEW [Minor Spoilers]

by on July 2, 2014

Hogwarts Express review

All aboard the Hogwarts Express at Universal’s Wizarding World of Harry Potter. (photos by Seth Kubersky)

As PotterWatch wraps up with the approach of Diagon Alley’s July 8 official opening date, I’m proud to present Touring Plans’ first in-depth review of the new Wizarding World of Harry Potter attractions. During the recent VIP preview week, I spent nearly 12 hours exploring the expansion at Universal Studios Florida, and was the only member of the media to successfully ride the Gringotts attraction three times. I’ve distilled that first-hand experience into the following Hogwarts Express review, which will appear in edited form in the 2015 edition of The Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World, as well as other affiliated titles.

Bear in mind, the following opinions and information are based on a preview of the attraction, and is subject to change once the area is open to the public. BEWARE: Minor spoilers ahead.

Hogwarts Express

4 1/2 STARS

 

APPEAL BY AGE

  • PRESCHOOL 4 stars
  • GRADE SCHOOL 5 stars
  • TEENS 4 stars
  • YOUNG ADULTS 4 1/2 stars
  • OVER 30 4 1/2 stars
  • SENIORS 4 stars

 

What it is Transportation attraction with special effects.
Scope and scale Super-headliner.
When to go Immediately after park opening.
Special comments Expect lengthy waits in line. A park-to-park pass is required to ride.
Authors’ rating A moving experience; Not to be missed; 4 1/2 stars
Duration of ride 4 minutes.
Probable wait­ing time per 100 people ahead of you 7 minutes.
Loading speed Moderate.

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Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts REVIEW [Minor Spoilers]

by on July 1, 2014

 

gringotts review

A panoramic view of the majestic Gringotts bank lobby. (photos by Seth Kubersky)

As PotterWatch wraps up with the approach of Diagon Alley’s July 8 official opening date, I’m proud to present Touring Plans’ first in-depth review of the new Wizarding World of Harry Potter attractions. During the recent VIP preview week, I spent nearly 12 hours exploring the expansion at Universal Studios Florida, and was the only member of the media to successfully ride the Gringotts attraction three times. I’ve distilled that first-hand experience into the following Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts review, which will appear in edited form in the 2015 edition of The Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World, as well as other affiliated titles.

Bear in mind, the following opinions and information are based on a preview of the attraction, and is subject to change once the area is open to the public. BEWARE: Minor spoilers ahead.

 

Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts

5 STARS

APPEAL BY AGE

  • PRESCHOOL 2 stars
  • GRADE SCHOOL 4 stars
  • TEENS 5 stars
  • YOUNG ADULTS 5 stars
  • OVER 30 5 stars
  • SENIORS 4 stars

What it is Super-high-tech 3-D dark ride with roller coaster elements.
Scope and scale Super-headliner.
When to go Immediately after park opening or just before closing.
Special comments Expect loooong waits in line; 42″ minimum height requirement.
Authors’ rating The ultimate realization of “Ride The Movies!”; Not to be missed; 5 stars
Duration of ride 4 1⁄2 minutes.
Probable waiting time per 100 people ahead of you 4 minutes.
Loading speed Moderate-Fast.

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