Trip Planning

Dress for Success: Top 5 Must-Pack December Clothing Items and Special Tips

by on November 16, 2015

dress for success

Disney World has truly spectacular offerings during the holiday season.

It’s no secret that I dress for success when I plan my outfit choices in Walt Disney World – no detail is left out. While this usually refers to some light DisneyBounding, it means something a little different in December, when a cute dress and Mickey ears isn’t enough to get you through the cold evenings in the parks. Thanks to the fantastic holiday offerings, December is one of the most exciting times to visit Disney World. You’ve got Magic Kingdom’s Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party (MVMCP), Epcot’s Candlelight Processional, and Hollywood Studios’ Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights. On top of that, the resorts and parks are decked out in their holiday finest, so even if you don’t want to spring for the extra cost of a party ticket to MVMCP, you can still enjoy the ambiance during the day. Just make sure, as you’re planning for your holiday trip, to give serious consideration to the weather. As unlikely as it sounds, Florida gets COLD at night in December!

I know what you might be thinking, “I’m from [insert cold state here — mine is Michigan]; Florida doesn’t even know what cold is! I walk eight miles uphill both ways through six feet of snow just to get to the Disney Store!” Okay, that might not be exactly what you thought, but it is pretty close to my viewpoint on the subject before my first December trip. Luckily, I followed the advice of others and (even though I scoffed) I packed for the cold weather. And thank goodness I did! Based on that experience, I’m going to give you a breakdown of my 5 must-pack items for cold weather, some tips specific to nighttime holiday entertainment options, and a few final pieces of advice so you can dress for success on your holiday adventures in Disney World!

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Trivia Tuesday: Disney California Adventure + Video

by on November 10, 2015

DCA World of ColorThis week’s Trivia Tuesday is bringing us to the West Coast!

Let’s learn all about Disney California Adventure!

 

Follow us on Youtube and Facebook for more videos and posts.

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Breaking Down Disney World’s Q4 Attendance

by on November 9, 2015

Here I follow up on Disney’s 4th Quarter FY 2015 reporting from last week, which stated domestic theme park attendance (Disney World and Disneyland) for was up 15% year-over-year including the extra week in 2015, 7% without it.

Disney’s fiscal 4th quarter ran from June 28 through October 3, 2015. Here’s a look at the change in number of people in line at Walt Disney World, by park, versus the same dates in 2014, with the same methodology we’ve been using:

Q4YoY-allparks

The biggest gains were at the Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom. My guess is that the Animal Kingdom is getting a lot of traffic from Hollywood Studios. And as The Motley Fool just pointed out, the long-term trends indicate Epcot might be WDW’s least-visited park by 2020 [1].

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What’s Up with Wait Times at Disney’s Animal Kingdom?

by on November 1, 2015

This is the third of four blog posts about wait times at Walt Disney World. A lot of the math and FastPass+ background material is explained in the original Disney’s Hollywood Studios post. We’ve also covered Epcot.

The average wait in line at Disney’s Animal Kingdom in 2015 is up about 1.6 minutes versus a year ago: from 21.9 minutes to 23.5 minutes. The average number of people in line across all of the Animal Kingdom’s major attractions is up by about 260 people, or 6.2%:

AK2015

We think the all of this increase can be attributed to 3 things, each of which we’ve already discussed at other parks:

  1. Growth in attendance
  2. Better handling of FastPass+ return lines in the park
  3. A quirk in the way Disney displays its posted wait times

Attendance

Attendance grew 2% at Animal Kingdom in 2014, without any major new rides or shows. If you said attendance was up 2% in 2015 as well, I would believe that – maybe even another half-percent or so because of a slightly better economy and lower gas prices.

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My Top 10 Disney World Time Savers

by on October 26, 2015

Whenever I’m at Walt Disney World, I’m all about taking advantage of every valuable minute so I can squeeze as much magic and memories as possible. Unfortunately, there are number of factors and obstacles that tend to zap some of my valuable vacation time, ranging from long wait times for my favorite attraction to having to wait for buses. I’ve learned a few tricks over the years for how to better maximize my time in the magic, and today I’m letting you in on a few of the best in My Top 10 Disney World Time Savers.

TyphoonLagoon ClockTower10. Strategize Your FastPass+ Reservations – FastPass+ is all about saving guests time in line, but to truly maximize the service some strategy is necessary. For starters, do NOT book a FastPass+ for a show. Typically — although there are exceptions on especially busy days — FastPass+ does not get you into a show any quicker as you have to wait for the show ahead of you to end. By that time, the standby crowd has already caught up to those who used the service. In addition, the theaters for the shows at the parks are huge and almost everyone can secure themselves a great seat even without a FastPass+. What I’ve learned is to save those FastPass+ reservation slots for attractions. Secondly, don’t book a FastPass+ reservation for a time within the first two hours of park opening. Even on busy days, most attractions are walk-ons within that first hour and lengthy lines don’t really form until about two hours into the day. One of the best time saving strategies of all is to arrive at the park for rope-drop and then ride the most popular attractions first, saving FastPass+ reservation slots for the attractions you want to ride or re-ride in the afternoon or evening or for another park you plan to visit later in the day.

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Adventure is Out There! (But I’d Prefer to Plan for It): Results of a Totally Spontaneous Day

by on October 21, 2015

Adventure is out there

How exactly do you unplan a day?

If you follow my articles, you know that over Labor Day Weekend I partook in a grand experiment in an unplanned day at Walt Disney World. Having now experienced that firsthand (and taking some time to mull it over) I’m ready to report back with this uber-planner’s perspective on completely making things up as I went along. What did I learn? Adventure is out there, but I’d prefer to plan for it.

For a quick review of my experiment, here are the rules that were applied to my unplanned day:

  • Votes were submitted via Twitter, Facebook, and the comments section of my All It Takes is Faith and Trust article regarding which park my husband and I would visit on Saturday, September 5th – we did not tally the votes until we were ready to walk out the door and go to the winning park.
  • We had to make our FastPass+ selections after we arrived at the park using one of the in-park kiosks (this was a rule change based upon a suggestion from a commenter on the original article – I was not allowed to use the MyDisneyExperience app on my phone).
  • We could not make a meal reservation for that day until after we arrived in the designated park, and we had to make that reservation by calling the reservation line (another rule change based on comments).
  • I would provide regular updates on Twitter and solicit feedback from people following along from home – they could make suggestions regarding what we would do once we were in the winning park and I would try to accommodate those requests.
  • I would be allowed to utilize the Touring Plans Lines app throughout the day.

If you aren’t interested in the play-by-play version of the day and you just want to know my reaction to it, scroll on down to the “So, What Do I Really Think?” section and enjoy!

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Morimoto Asia at Disney Springs: The 30-Dish 3-Hour $600 Dinner Review

by on October 19, 2015

Summary If you’re reading this to decide whether to eat at Morimoto, go ahead and make a reservation now. While it’s not Nobu or Morimoto Philadelphia, there’s a lot to like, at moderate prices. Order the Peking duck for the table.

Most people know chef Masaharu Morimoto from his time on the Iron Chef television shows.  Others through his tenure at New York’s Nobu in the late 1990’s, or from his own chain of restaurants since 2001. Those places serve high-end, modern Japanese cuisine, at equally high prices – ordering the full omakase (chef’s choice) dinner can easily set you back $150 per person. We’ve done it several times, and it’s worth every penny.

Those prices wouldn’t fly at Disney Springs, and “modern Japanese” might be too narrow a focus for the Disney World tourist market. That’s why the menu at Morimoto Asia is pan-Asian, with dishes from China, Japan, Vietnam, Korea, Malaysia, and Thailand available, at a median entree price of around $15.

It’s a huge menu, too – more than 30 appetizers and 25 entrees to choose from.  To cover as much of the menu as possible, some friends joined me for a 9 PM dinner reservation last Saturday night: our own Erin, Beci from MEI/Mousefan Travel, the lovely and talented Scarlett, and two of my favorite Disney food reviewers, Kendra and Mark. Kendra and Mark have two of the most descriptive culinary vocabularies I know, and I think you’ll enjoy what they have to say.

A couple of us had already been to Morimoto Asia, and together we brought 6 pages of research to the start of dinner. That research included everything from the typical seasonings in Shrimp Har-Gao (sesame oil, scallions, and soy), to the proper way to prepare L.A. BBQ Kalbi (marinated, thin cuts, across the bone, cooked fast, in 2- to 5-inch segments easily eaten with chopsticks), to the dark magic that makes Peking Duck so delicious (a 72-hour process involving a maltose-and-soy glaze).

One good thing I’ll say right up front: Every single dish we tried – all 30 of them – was prepared correctly, in the right style and at the right temperature. We may have wanted more spice in some things, or slightly different flavors or ingredients, but the kitchen seems to have got things down pat, right from the start.

To make it easy for you to find the best food, I’m going to organize our ratings into 3 categories:

  • Things We Loved
  • Things That Were Okay
  • Things We Wouldn’t Order Again (a very short list)

Each dish has its own set of comments, which I’ll keep anonymous. Also, I apologize for the lack of photos. I was trying to do this without attracting management’s attention – they started following me on Twitter a couple days after I made our reservation – and 6 people taking flash pictures of half the menu would look suspicious.

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Seth Kubersky’s Best Week Ever October 15, 2015: Magic Kingdom Premium VIP Tour

by on October 15, 2015

Premium VIP Tour best week ever

The average Orlando visitor doesn’t have a bottomless budget for their vacation, so we here at Touring Plans are dedicated to helping you squeeze the most out of every buck. But every once in a while, it’s nice to get a taste of how the other 1% lives. Ever fantasized about a trip to Walt Disney World without worrying about dining reservations, FastPass+ bookings, or transportation to and from the parks? Welcome to the wonderful world of WDW Premium VIP tours, where the magic of plaid can make almost any Disney dilemma disappear. Usually, the Touring Plans team gets treated just like any other paying guest when we go to the parks. But for this very special Best Week Ever I was able to experience my first Magic Kingdom VIP tour…and I may never be able to go back to waiting in lines again!

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Disney Hacks #2: Cheap PhotoPass and Packing Tips

by on October 14, 2015

disney hacksOK folks, time for another installment of the little tips and tricks I like to call Disney hacks! In this edition, a trick for current Annual Passholders to save a ton on PhotoPass photos, and a way to streamline your packing. Let’s get to it!

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Creating a Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party Touring Plan: Planning and Party Tips

by on October 14, 2015

TouringPlans logoThis is the first year my family is going to Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party, and once we get to the party, we want to focus on fun rather than figuring out how to navigate the party activities. The party offers a ton of stuff to do, which is a great thing but also means we need a plan to maximize our party time.

Here at TouringPlans.com, we offer three Premium Touring Plans specifically for Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Party. A summary of these plans by TouringPlans’ Brian McNichols plus links to each of them can be found here. Using any of these plans will save you time and allow you to hit the highlights of the party. In addition, all of them are customizable, allowing you to add rides, meals, and other activities to suit your personal priorities. I went a step further and used the Personalized Touring Plan tool, which allowed me to build my family’s own Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Party Touring Plan from scratch.

In the rest of this article, I’ll run through the steps I took to create my family’s Personalized Touring Plan and then show the resulting plan. Also included are tips on specific party activities that helped me create our plan. In the course of planning, I learned several other excellent party tips and strategies that didn’t play so much into my planning. These are listed at the end of the article to help our readers planning for the party.

Step 1

My first step in party planning was to make a list of things to do at the party based on TouringPlans.com’s Premium Touring Plans as well as combing through discussion boards, various other articles and websites, the Disney World website, and of course TouringPlans.com’s excellent information on the party. (Links to specific party activities throughout this article will send you to more details on TouringPlans.com.)

MNSSHP2014_HappyHalloWishes1

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