Trip Planning

Awaken Your Disney World Strategy with “Touring Blocks”

by on July 1, 2016

Toy Story Building at Disney's All-Star Movies Resort

Break your days at Disney World into Touring Blocks

When planning Disney World trips, I have always found it useful to divide the days into morning, afternoon, and evening plans. In multiple plans for trips spanning anywhere from 2 to 8 days, the foundation for each plan has been that basic division, a concept that I have often thought of as “Touring Blocks.”

Planning a full day at Disney World can be stressful and confusing, but breaking it down into Touring Blocks can help take the pressure off. To quote Henry Ford, “Nothing is particularly hard if you divide it into small jobs.” Lately, this strategy has come to be more valuable than ever—Disney is stepping up its game with new attractions, shows, restaurants & lounges, and technology for its guests, with more to come. In turn, we can step up our game with Touring Block strategies.

Using Touring Blocks to Enhance Your Planning

Days at Disney World can be thought of as involving three fluid blocks of time, or “Touring Blocks,” with overlap between the times for these blocks based on the plan for each day. My morning block generally spans from park opening (“rope drop”) up to 2 PM, the afternoon block from 12 PM to 5 PM, and the evening block from 3 PM to park close. Meals can fit within or around these blocks. Again, as you can see here, Touring Block times can overlap, and the timing for each day will depend on specific plans.

Touring Blocks

Typically, a good first step in planning a Disney World vacation is to decide which days you will visit Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Disney’s Hollywood Studios, and Disney’s Animal Kingdom over the course of your vacation (you may wish to visit all or just some of these depending on your length of stay or other considerations, discussed later). Using the TouringPlans.com crowd calendar is an excellent way to establish a day-by-day plan.

Once you have a “big picture” plan with at least one park or other main activity each day, you can start breaking your days into blocks, adding in blocks for other fun such as visiting one of Disney World’s water parks or Disney Springs.

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Walt Disney World July 2016 Preview

by on June 29, 2016

Welcome to TouringPlans’ preview for Walt Disney World for July 2016 – everything you need to know if you’re traveling to the Happiest Place on Earth next month. Who’s ready for July?

Orlando Average Weather for July

 

Hi 98.1, Low 75.5, 76.3% Humidity, 17 days with rain

July Weather for Orlando

 

 

 

 

 

July in Orlando is HOT, but at least it’s a wet heat. Pack your light colored clothing, swimsuits, and lots of sunscreen. Plan to visit the parks early in the morning or late in the day to avoid the heat as much as you can and spend your afternoons napping or at the pool. Summer’s extended hours mean there is plenty park time available after dark, so take advantage of it, especially if you’re eligible for Extra Magic Hours.

Upcoming Live Chats for July

Want to chat live about your trip? Join us on Facebook throughout the month as our experts take your questions in a fun and lively discussion.

July 1 — Overnight at the Air and Space Museum. Brian will be spending the night in Washington, D.C.’s Air and Space museum (not sleeping…hopefully) as part of the building’s 40th birthday. They will likely be short notice depending on timing and crowds, but there will be at least one live tour of some of the museum’s exhibits.

Times for all live chats are posted in advance on our Facebook page and on Twitter.

Walt Disney World Park Crowds for July

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Taking Your Parents to Walt Disney World: The Interview

by on June 29, 2016

Copyright Claire Nat 2016After a whole year of planning and preparation, my parents and I took our week-long trip to Orlando at the beginning of June! It was hot, it was muggy, and we endured a heavy dose of Tropical Storm Colin, but we had a great time!

But don’t take my word for it; I’ll let my parents speak for themselves!

Read Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3 before you read on! A big thanks to Jan from MEI and MouseFan Travel for setting up our resort and dining reservations and tickets!

 

Overall, how did this trip to Orlando go compared to previous trips you took in 1988, 1995, and 2000?
Dad: We certainly did more and had a better idea about what we were doing in advance, which made the whole trip successful.
Mom: I think I enjoyed this trip a bit more than all the others because it was based solely on what we wanted to do and we didn’t have to accommodate any small children. I always loved seeing the attractions through the eyes of my children, but this time I got to be the kid!

Copyright Claire Nat 2016What was your favorite part of the whole week?
Dad: I enjoyed the unexpected diamonds in the rough – Captain Jack’s Pirate Tutorial, The Frozen Sing-Along Celebration, the Dapper Dans – things I wasn’t expecting to enjoy so much.
Mom: This was tough! My sentimental favorite attraction is it’s a small world because I was at the 1964 World’s Fair when the ride debuted.

What was your least favorite part of the whole week? 
Dad: Waiting so long for Fantasmic, only to have it canceled 30 minutes before showtime. (That was the night that Tropical Storm Colin came through.)
Mom: My exhaustion in the heat. I wish I could someday visit Florida in any other season than summer. I also thought Stitch’s Great Escape was a waste of time. (Author’s note: I did warn them!)

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Magic Kingdom Parades At Walt Disney World + Video

by on June 28, 2016

Magic Kingdom is full of wonder, it's no mystery why preschoolers love it so much.

Welcome back to TouringPlansTV!

Today, I’m talking all about Magic Kingdom Parades at Walt Disney World.

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TouringPlansTV: Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort + Video

by on June 7, 2016

Photo - TouringPlans.comHowdy TouringPlans friends!

Welcome to another episode of TouringPlansTV. Today, I’m delving into Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort; a moderate resort in Walt Disney World. 

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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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TouringPlansTV: Quick Date Ideas at Walt Disney World + Video

by on May 31, 2016

photo - touringplans.comWelcome back to TouringPlansTV!

Walt Disney World is a wonderful vacation destination for people of all ages. There are endless possibilities when it comes to enjoying time with your family.

Now every once in a while, you and your partner may find yourselves alone for a few “kid-free” hours.

What to do with all this extra free time?

Have no fear! With the help of family and friends, I’ve provided a list of quick date ideas to help you and your significant other make the most out of your time together.

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Surviving summer at Walt Disney World

by on May 30, 2016

I’ve literally sweated to get this blog post to you.

As the husband of a teacher, my family’s Disney vacations typically come during the summer months. The heat and crowds of June, July and August keep some away, but we’ve learned to love our summer trips.

While the summer crowds were once substantially heavier than other times of the year, Disney has managed, through events and promotions, to even those crowds out. So long wait times shouldn’t necessarily deter you from a summer trip. Wise use of FastPass+, crowd calendars and a good touring plan can greatly reduce the time you spend in lines. We find that by getting to the parks early, we can knock out a lot of attractions before the sun is straight overhead.

We’ve learned that summer has its advantages, too, such as longer park hours and fewer attractions down for refurbishment. Along the way, we’ve figured out a few tips and tricks that should help you if you’re currently preparing for your summer trek to Walt Disney World.

Midday getaway

The pool at Port Orleans French Quarter.

The pool at Port Orleans French Quarter.

If you think you’re going to be able to do the parks from rope drop to closing, think again. A key part of enduring a summer trip is planning for daily rest and relaxation at your resort when the parks are at their most crowded and hottest. If you’re trying to decide whether you’re going to stay on or off property, you’ll want to factor in the travel time of returning to your resort midday. Thanks to summer park hours being the longest of the year, you’ll still be able to accomplish plenty, even with spending a few hours at your resort.

Ideally, you’ll be able to hit a park at rope drop, head back to your resort after lunch, grab a quick nap or perhaps go for a swim. Then head back to a park refreshed and ready to enjoy more attractions and evening entertainment. This kind of touring is ideal for park hopping, where you can hit one park in the morning and another in the evening. You might even consider saving your FastPass+ reservations for your evening park on select days. The new Frozen attractions in Epcot’s Norway and the evening Kilimanjaro Safaris will be tough to get FastPasses for if you’re trying to add them the same day after you’ve used your three initial FastPasses. If you’ve never done Seven Dwarfs Mine Train during dusk or evening, it’s the best way to experience that final scene.

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Dining Review: More Disney Springs Quick Bites

by on May 27, 2016

Last week, we took a glance at a few of the newest dining additions to Disney Springs, and this week I visit two more new locations offering up quick service meals in the Landing and Marketplace sections. My first stop of the day was at B.B. Wolf’s Sausage Co. (cute name, right?) for a quick bite for lunch. The stand, located at the beginning of the new bridge just near T-Rex Café and the LEGO Store, opens at 11:00 AM (though on this day, they were a bit slow to open – it was nearly 11:15 AM by the time the windows opened for ordering). I was greeted by a friendly Cast Member who took my order for a Three Little Pigs (serious credit to the person in charge of all these puns – a cute themed nod without being ridiculously over the top). Just like at Daily Poutine, I was told to stand off to the side whilst waiting for my food, and that I’d be called as soon as it was ready.

After about ten minutes baking in the infernally hot summer sun (just like Daily Poutine – no shade around here), I received the most adorable cardboard tray of food ever. It was, admittedly, a little slow in service, but everything looked and smelled fantastic, so I wasn’t really upset by the wait. I opted to pass by the standing tables (like you see at Food & Wine) set up just across from B.B. Wolf’s and made a bee-line for the nearby shaded planters for some seating and a makeshift table; I later discovered this was a smoking area – it didn’t bother me, but something to keep in mind.

Unlike my cup of poutine, this wasn’t really eat-while-you-walk cuisine – the flimsy cardboard trays/plates make it difficult to transport this stuff very far, but after a few bites, I didn’t care about the transportability of my meal. The Three Little Pigs ($10.39) is a kind of sampler platter, with three smaller pork sausages wrapped in cut-down hot dog buns, each topped with a different set of accompaniments (though I found out from a Cast Member later in the day that you are welcome to request all three to be the same “flavor”, if you so choose). All three variations start with the same base sausage and bun, then differ only in the toppings. The sausage itself was mild in flavor, pork-based, not too fatty, and had a snappy casing – a perfect vehicle for nearly any savory accompaniment you could think of. The bun had been grilled to slightly crisp, and was decadently buttery and fluffy – definitely better than any standard Disney hot dog bun I’ve encountered.

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TouringPlansTV – Disney’s Grand Californian Resort and Spa + VIDEO

by on May 24, 2016

 

Grand Californian HotelWelcome to TouringPlans TV!

You may have noticed the name change. The way we see it, why limit ourselves to just one day a week when we can talk about Disney EVERY. SINGLE. DAY!

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