Trip Planning

Things to Do Near Port Canaveral before Your Disney Cruise

by on July 7, 2014

Cruising, especially Disney cruising, can be a vacation in itself, but what if you find yourself in the area a day or two before your cruise? Port Canaveral, the home for Disney’s remarkable ships: Dream, Fantasy and Magic is nearly an hour drive from Orlando International Airport so unless you live nearby, it’s a good idea to stay the night before your cruise somewhere between Orlando and Canaveral. Obviously, spending the extra day at Walt Disney World is a great option, but there are interesting diversions much closer to the port that can be relaxing or exciting as well as educational and surprising.

Disney's Cruise Ship Fantasy passes by the fishing pier at Jetty Park.

Disney’s Cruise Ship Fantasy passes by the fishing pier at Jetty Park.

In particular, there are 4 sites that are wonderful to visit, whether you have the whole family with you or if you’re kid-free. All have been popular attractions for many years and all will give you experiences that are quite different from the cruise you’ll be taking.

Considering that the four provide significantly different experiences, I have decided to list them based on distance from the Disney Cruise Line Terminal, rather than ranking them. The furthest is only a 30 minute drive, while the closest is literally right around the corner from the terminal.

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Disney World’s Electrical Water Pageant: The Original Light Show

by on July 6, 2014

When Disney Imagineer Bob Jani looked out over Seven Seas Lagoon at night he saw a black gulf, void of interest. It was late 1971 and Magic Kingdom, Polynesian Resort, and Contemporary Resort opened soon. The lifeless lagoon, formed from draining the swamp that dominated the land Magic Kingdom occupies, would presently be filled by ferries and water attractions, including a water ski show. But something was missing. His mind turned to his hometown of Los Angeles, where any body of water reflected myriad lights every night. Somewhere this need to fill the dark with twinkling lights sparked the idea of the Electrical Water Pageant: a train of barges sporting colorful animated lights.

The final float in the aquatic scene.

The final float in the aquatic scene.

A brochure given to guests in the Summer of 1972 entices the guest to “watch porpoises leap . . . seals play . . . even a sea monster breathe fire!” Guests were directed to see the Pageant nightly 9:00 PM through 10:00 PM along Bay Lake and the Seven Seas Lagoon, advice that is still good today. The whimsical attraction’s appeal eventually inspired the Main Street Electrical Parade even copping the song “Baroque Hoedown” as its theme.

Today the Pageant is one thousand feet long and features 25-foot tall screens on fourteen barges. The show is split into two parts: an aquatic theme featuring King Triton and various sea creatures followed by a patriotic salute. Total time, nose to tail, is about ten minutes.

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The Happiest Place on Earth: Disney World Tips to Avoid a Meltdown

by on July 2, 2014

Disney World Tips to Avoid a Meltdown TouringPlans Blog

Avoid becoming Grumpy by following these simple tips!

It has happened to all of us. You’re in the grocery store, and you hear a child having a tantrum. Perhaps it’s your kid on the floor screaming; because you didn’t agree to buy the Lego set that is so conveniently located right in the check-out line. Now you’re heading to Disney World, and you’ve heard it’s the “happiest place on earth.” Is it possible that this Disney magic you’ve heard so much about is going to prevent this from happening on vacation? What about yourself? Are you going to be able to handle the crowds and the chaos without losing your cool? Let’s hope all goes smoothly, but just in case, here are some tried-and-true Walt Disney World tips for avoiding meltdowns by the young and old alike.

  • Manage Expectations - We’ve all seen National Lampoon’s Vacation, right? Nothing will kill a vacation quicker than unrealistic expectations. Walt Disney World is enormous; about the same size as San Francisco. You wouldn’t expect to see everything a large city has to offer in a day or a week, so give yourself a break. Create a reasonable touring plan to follow, and then try to relax and enjoy each moment. When looking back on your vacation, it won’t be about how many attractions you experienced, but rather about the special memories that you made.

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Pro Tips: Low and No Cost Ways to Improve Your Disney Vacation

by on June 30, 2014

t_logoLast time, I brought you quick tips. This time, we’re talking pro tips. Maybe you’ve been to Walt Disney World a few times now and are ready to plus your experience. Presumably, you’re already subscribed to TouringPlans.com and are saving time and money by using tools like our mobile app, Crowd Calendar, and customizable touring plans. If not, why not? Anyway, read on for some ideas to start with for enhance other areas of your vacation. Here are some of our Walt Disney World tips:

Note: Any product we recommend is one we have used and purchased with our own money. We haven’t received compensation of any kind (no money, no freebies) for mentions in this article. 

Pro Tip 1 – Enhance Your Accommodations

This doesn’t mean bring your scented candle and special blanky with you. One, candles in a hotel room are a fire hazard. And two, bag fees are high enough without bringing extra stuff with you. No, what I mean is get the same or better accommodations for less. You could sleep four to a room at Pop Century. Or you could get more space by either renting a house off site from a company like All Star Vacation Homes or renting onsite from a Disney Vacation Club broker such as David’s Vacation Club rentals. If you really want to go pro, consider an Owner’s Locker (though you probably won’t keep a laser printer in yours like we do for our TouringPlans mobile office).

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Walt Disney World Changes Park Hours and Extra Magic Hours For Several Dates Through 2014

by on June 26, 2014

2014-02-15 22.33.39Changes are a taking place! If you have a trip to Walt Disney World scheduled from starting anywhere from July 13 through the remainder of the year, you may want to double check park hours and Extra Magic Hour offerings, as both of these will be changing at most the the theme parks. Here’s what you need to know:

Magic Kingdom: On many days, the park’s operating hours have been extended. In addition, Evening Extra Magic Hours have been moved to different days. (Most of the time, the change is that Evening Extra Magic Hours have been added on Saturday evenings; they will no longer take place on Sunday or Monday evenings.) Also, additional Main Street Electrical Parade performances have been added.

Disney’s Hollywood Studios: On many days, the park’s operating hours have been extended. There are also changes to Extra Magic Hour days. Plus, additional Fantasmic! shows have been added.

Disney’s Animal Kingdom: On many days, the park’s operating hours have been extended. In addition, Morning Extra Magic Hours have changed; they will now take place for the most part on Sundays, with a few exceptions.

Epcot: Has seen no changes. Its park hours will remain consistent with before.

If you are planning a trip to Walt Disney World in the next six months, be sure to check out the Crowd Calendar for the latest updates.

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Daisy Lauren’s Best Week Ever: June 26, 2014

by on June 26, 2014

Hi everyone! Welcome to the Best Week Ever here at Walt Disney World! This week we’re starting somewhere a little unconventional, an overpass leaving Disney property! This sunset was too amazing not to share, and this is truly how it looked. I just snapped the photo out my car window with a typical point and shoot camera. No editing wizardry here! Any week that starts like this has to be a good one, right?

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Next, let’s head to Animal Kingdom for the bulk of our updates this week. First up is the new Macaw Fly Over. I didn’t go into this expecting a lot, but we totally loved the show. I’d go out of my way to see it. While it’s over quickly, it’s amazing to see all of those lovely birds flying together. I know my video can’t do it justice, but if you’ve never clicked on one of my videos this is the one to start with! Make sure you check this out on your next visit.

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Potty Talk: Hidden Restrooms of Disney World

by on June 24, 2014

Toilettes Sign in New Fantasyland (Not Hidden!)Avoiding long lines at Walt Disney World attractions is without question one of the best ways to ensure a successful vacation. So consider another way you can cut your time in line—knowing about the World’s hidden restrooms. Restrooms are seldom top of mind when planning a trip to Walt Disney World, but some knowledge about “where to go when you gotta go” can save valuable time and just might make that bathroom break more of an actual break than just another wait in line.

A word about the criteria for “hidden”: some of the highlighted restrooms are indeed hard to spot, but others are more “hidden in plain sight.” Once you “see” them, you’ll be forever thankful as you duck in while the crowds hurry by.

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Beating the Post Disney Blues

by on June 18, 2014

Normally here on Touring Plans we focus on helping you plan your next big vacation, but today I want to take a moment to talk about what happens once we get home. That’s right, I’m talking about Post Disney Blues (PDB). Most people think that because I live in Central Florida that I’m immune to PDB. However, the more you visit, the more you miss it! So today I’m reviewing my top 10 tips to beat the Disney Blues.

IMG_24521) Stow Some Tasty Treats: Many of the snacks sold in the parks are pre-packaged and will keep for a while. Nothing perks up a sad day like some Sour Mickey Gummies or a bag of Chip & Dale Pretzels. Did you know that pre-packaged food items can even be ordered from Disney Merchandising? Just call 877-560-6477 if you need your fix before your next trip!

2) Visit Virtually: YouTube is an amazing thing! Before I ever visited Disneyland or Disneyland Paris I’d toured both parks through videos shared by others. Of course, you can always count on the TouringPlans YouTube channel for all the latest. I can also take requests! Let me know if there is anything you’d like to see in the comments below.

3) Curl up with a classic: Disney films are how many of us fell in love with the parks in the first place. When I’m really missing Disneyland, dusting off a classic Disney film always hits the spot!

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How to Pick the Right Disney World Character Meal

by on June 15, 2014

Disney World character meal

Meeting Aurora at Cinderella’s Royal Table

There are 11 places at Walt Disney World that host ever-popular character dining. While the total value of eating with characters can be debated, the thrill of shoveling sausages into your gullet while Mickey Mouse hovers over you can only be experienced by experiencing a Disney World Character Meal.

I am, of course, being flippant, as I am a huge fan of character dining. Along with my family I have eaten at least once at each of the character dining spots (reviews are linked at the bottom). Okay, truthfully I have never eaten at the Garden Grove character meal at The Swan Resort, but it’s never particularly appealed to us. Someday I will eat there just to be a completist, but for now it will not be further discussed.

So, anyway, I’m here to help you pick the perfect character meal (or meals) to visit while you’re on vacation. Let’s start with a few caveats, the most important one of which is that characters rule. What I mean by that is this: if there is a particular character that you or your child wants to visit more than anything, go to that meal. Even if the food is terrible and the atmosphere is worse than a dentist’s office, pick the one with the characters you want to see. Trust me when I say that a small portion of your meal price is going to food and atmosphere. You are paying for characters, so look there first.

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How Changes to Epcot’s FastPass+ Tiers Affect You

by on June 13, 2014

t_logo_fbOn June 16, Epcot’s Living with the Land will join Soarin’, Test Track, and IllumiNations as Tier 1 FastPass+ attractions. (Living with the Land was previously a Tier 2 attraction). Guests making advance FastPass+ reservations will be able to choose one of these attractions before arriving at the park. (You’ll be able to get more FastPass+ reservations from any tier once you’re in the park and have used your set of advance Fastpass+ reservations.)

Also, the Epcot Character Spot and Maelstrom will move from Tier 1 to Tier 2.

Here’s the complete lineup of Epcot FastPass+ Tiers:

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