Trip Planning

The Least Crowded Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party of 2015

by on April 6, 2015

Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween PartyWelcome back to what has become a yearly tradition: predicting the least crowded Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween party. We have done the same for each of the past two years, and we’ve been pretty successful if we do say so ourselves. We’ll look back at last year’s recommendations in a bit and give you the full 2015 list, but first make sure you check out our dedicated page for a complete list of dates as well as a thorough description of what the Halloween party is.

In short, if you’re looking for the best 2015 Halloween Party to attend, we recommend Tuesday, September 15, 2015. Each of the past two years we recommended the equivalent party, Tuesday, September 17, 2013 and Tuesday, September 16, 2014. In 2013 it turned out to be the party with the lowest wait times by our calculation, while last year’s came in fourth. The reason we still recommend that date despite it’s lack of a top finish last year is simple: 4 of the top 5 from 2014 were all parties earlier in September…parties which are not offered this year.

In 2014, the first Halloween party was on Labor Day, which was September 1. Previously, Disney had scheduled the first party for the Tuesday following Labor Day, and they’ve reverted to that schedule for this year. The reason the first Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party is not until September 15 is because Labor Day is not until September 7th. To make up for only two weeks of September parties, Disney has decided to load October up, with 18 parties in 31 days.

If you’re not going to be around for the first party of the year, Tuesday, September 15, go as early as you can. Over the past few years we’ve noticed an increasing trend where the parties get busier the closer the calender ticks towards Halloween. That sounds logical, but it hasn’t always been the case. A trend that has remained in tact is the difference in day of the week, with Tuesday evening parties being the least busy. So go early in September and/or go on a Tuesday.

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Camping 101: A Fort Wilderness camper’s gotta eat!

by on April 5, 2015

Part Two of a series. Be sure to catch Part One, RV rentals, in order to get the skinny on renting an RV for your stay at Fort Wilderness, and the soon to post Part Three which focuses on transportation methods within the campgrounds.

So, you’ve chosen an RV rental company, made all your arrangements and are just counting down the days. Anything else you need to keep in mind? Food of course. If you plan on utilizing the full potential of the RV and cooking meals or just having beverages in the fridge, you will need groceries.

©istockphoto.com

©istockphoto.com

While Moore’s will stock the camper with groceries based on your grocery list for a small fee, you will need to find some way of getting your supplies to your camper if not booking through them.

  1. Carry on / checked luggage

If you like to be in control and possession of your groceries at all times, this may be an option for you. Depending on the length of your stay and the amount of cooking you intend on doing at the RV, you may be able to pack a few essentials in a carry on and call it a day. However, if you are thinking of a more authentic camping experience, you may consider an extra checked suitcase. Of course, this will only work for non-perishables such as boxed and canned goods, such as a bag of marshmallows, boxes of cereal, or small cans of coffee. Gallons of milk, packages of hot dogs, and other items that need to be kept cold will be better purchased once in Orlando. And, airline luggage fees would need to be considered. As an example, if you fly Southwest you are charged nothing for up to two carry ons and two checked bags. The third checked bag, however, will cost $75. The benefit, however, is there is a pretty good chance your groceries will arrive with the rest of your luggage.

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Star Wars Weekends 2015 Touring Plan Updates

by on April 2, 2015

Star Wars Weekends 2015 Touring PlansThere have been quite a few changes over the past few years to Star Wars Weekends, and we’ve gone through both of our related Touring Plans to make sure they work best for you. Both of our specialized Star Wars Weekend Touring Plans now end with the Symphony in the Stars fireworks spectacular, which is the best way to end your day in a galaxy far, far away.

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Camping 101: Fort Wilderness RV rentals

by on March 29, 2015

Author’s note:  This is Part One of a Series on the ins and outs Disney’s Fort Wilderness.  Part One focuses on Fort Wilderness RV rentals.  Part Two will focus on how to get groceries and supplies to the RV when you will be flying into Orlando, and Part Three will explain transportation within the vast campgrounds.

Some of the best vacation memories I have from my childhood involve some element of nature and camping. Whether it was a weekend at a family member’s cabin in the woods or staying with my grandparents in an RV at the lake, I cherish each memory. Into adulthood I have wanted to experience the closeness of nature again. I’ve fantasized about cashing it all in, buying an RV, and traveling the country, working odd jobs (or blogging more steadily) as I go. Nothing but me, my husband, the fur kids, and nature in my day. Sounds peaceful, but delusional, I know.

Instead of camping, most of my adult vacations have been spent in Disney World. These vacation memories are just as cherished as those nature themed ones of my youth. I have often thought that combining the two would make for one amazing trip, but quickly dismissed the thought because we do live out of state and don’t own that coveted RV yet.

Courtesy John Scanlan

Courtesy John Scanlan

Yes, we could stay at one of the Cabins at Fort Wilderness, but the thought of shlepping all the camping essentials in my luggage, just doesn’t appeal to me. I would rather just show up, clothes and toiletries in tow, and plop myself into the experience.

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Packing Tips for a Day at Walt Disney World + Video

by on March 26, 2015

Photo - Angela DahlgrenAfter a long day of travel to Walt Disney World, you check into your hotel completely exhausted. All you want to do is plop down on the bed and catch some zzzz’s.

Just as you’re about to close your eyes, you remember – You haven’t packed your backpack for the parks tomorrow!

Not to worry! I’ve provided a list of park essentials to make packing efficient and easy.

Not in a reading mood? Check out my video at the bottom of this post!

The Bare Necessities

Photo - Angela Dahlgren

Top 3: Wallet, Ticket, Phone

  • Park Ticket: Don’t forget that golden ticket at the hotel! Yes, you can use your MagicBand to get into the parks, but it’s nice to have a hard copy if you run into issues at the turnstile.
  • Wallet: License, cash, cards, insurance info, etc.
  • MagicBand: Linking your My Disney Experience account to your MagicBand will give you quick access to your park ticket, room key, FastPass+ and dining reservations as its conveniently located around your wrist. You can even pay with your MagicBand! Since your MB is your room key, there is no back-up key (unless you ask for one at check-in), so make sure it’s with you before you leave!
  • Phone: If you have a smart phone, there are two apps I recommend checking out. The TouringPlans Disney World Lines App helps you plan out your day at the parks with crowd calendars, wait times and customized Touring Plans. The second app is My Disney Experience which, if you have an account, holds all of your reservations, tickets and itineraries.
  • Camera: Disney World is full of endless photo opportunities. Don’t be without a camera!

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Disney World Planning Challenges: Managing Your Disney Evening

by on March 24, 2015

So you’ve had a great day at Disney World! What should you do next? Follow up that great day with a fantastic evening, of course.TouringPlans logo

Whether you have a full-fledged touring plan in mind or decide to focus on more subdued activities during your evening, Disney World offers plenty of choices. This article highlights specific tips and looks at TouringPlans.com tools and information that can help make your evening a success.

An Evening in the Parks

Making a smooth transition from a day to an evening in Disney World will keep your vacation fun on track. Maybe you are just starting your vacation and planning some park time on the night of your arrival day. Or you have taken a resort break and plan to return to the parks later. Maybe you have taken the day off from the theme parks with plans to go into a park at night. Or you are extending a day already in the parks into the evening.

Great Movie Ride night by Sarah Graffam

The Great Movie Ride glows at night

In all of these cases, when planning for some park time at night, it’s important to consider factors such as what time to depart for the parks, how to get to there, whether to plan activities in advance, and—finally—when you may want to plan on heading back to your hotel. A bit of strategic planning can help you get to the fun as soon as possible.

Getting Off to a Good Start. One of the best ways to avoid feeling rushed when starting off your evening is to avoid the temptation to plan for only the most optimistic conditions in terms of timing. Instead, if it’s your arrival day, be sure to build in some extra time for getting to the World from the airport and checking into your hotel. My family generally expects to get from the airport to a park in 2.5 to 3 hours when stopping at our resort first.

If you have already started your vacation, be sure to leave time for the kids to have a last minute snack or take a final dip in the pool during an afternoon break.

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How Many Times Do You Have to Visit Disney?

by on March 22, 2015

A Disney fan may ask, “How many times do I get to go to Walt Disney World?” For a Disney aficionado, the theme parks are a treat to be indulged in as often as possible. But for Disney-neutral or, gasp, Disney-averse folks, the question they might more reasonably pose is, “How many times do I have to go to Walt Disney World?”

I’ll get the ball rolling by saying, yes, barring major financial constraint, you do have to visit Disney World or Disneyland at least once. Why? Because experiencing a Disney theme park is the American cultural imperative akin to no other.

The Disney Parks are a must-do. But how many times must you do them?

The Disney Parks are a must-do. But how many times must you do them?

In a time when common cultural experience has eroded to the point of oblivion, a Disney parks visit is of the few remaining touchstone experiences; it’s a true American rite of passage (possibly also for other nationalities, but I’m speaking to the US for this one). A trip to a Disney theme park will put you on the fast track to pop cultural literacy, elucidating references in sources ranging from Mad Men to Modern Family.

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The 10 Best Disney Cruise Line Tips

by on March 18, 2015

I am often asked for tips or helpful hints for an upcoming cruise on Disney Cruise Line, and there’s no short answer to that! I’ve learned a lot of helpful things over the years both from obsessive reading about Disney cruises and experiencing Disney cruises (the latter being the most fun of course). I thought I’d share my 10 favorite tips. Share yours in the comments!

1. Rebook Onboard It may sound a little funny spending time on your current vacation planning the next one, but do it. If you think you will ever cruise again on Disney, stop by the booking desk and book another one. Even if you have no idea when or where you want to cruise again, book something. Currently you will save 10% on the published fare (a few blacked out dates notwithstanding), you will get 50% off your deposit on cruises of 7-nights or longer, and you will get a nice onboard credit for your new booking. If you book something and change the dates, those benefits will move to the next date as long as that date is within 24 months of booking. You can move the dates as many times as you need to in those 24 months! So rebook onboard! It’s worth a few minutes of your time. (But, don’t wait until the last night of the cruise to rebook. The desk will be VERY busy at that time!)

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Photos from Inside a Polynesian Bungalow

by on March 17, 2015

These images happened to fall off a truck while I was walking around Disney World last week. They definitely are not the result of renting a pontoon boat, docking next to a bungalow, and hopping over a fence. Because that would be wrong.

Here’s the living room. I like the furniture choices – lots of natural woods and textured surfaces. Also notice how the couch faces the lagoon view, not the television.

PolyBungalow-LivingRoom1

 

Here’s the kitchen. Small, but functional enough to cook a light dinner if you wanted. I would have opted for a larger window over the sink instead of that decorative cupboard.

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Disney Savvy Tips for Typhoon Lagoon

by on March 17, 2015

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Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon

 

In addition to four theme parks, the Walt Disney World Resort also offers two water parks: Typhoon Lagoon and Blizzard Beach. Both of these water parks boast unique themes and, in true Disney fashion, a great story! Typhoon Lagoon, the older of the two parks, is meant to be a little tropical resort that was drenched and tossed by a typhoon which created pools, tossed items onto rooftops and into trees, and left the Miss Tilly boat perched atop Mount Mayday! This park is a windblown paradise with little gags wherever you turn; and it’s also home to some popular ways to get wet, such as the thrilling Humunga Kowabunga slides, the relaxing Castaway Creek, the iconic Surf Pool, and the Crush n’ Gusher water coaster. If you’re considering a visit to this popular water park, check out these Disney Savvy Tips for Typhoon Lagoon to make your day as magical as possible.

But wait! There are a few things you should know first before planning a trip to Typhoon Lagoon. First of all, Disney is now offering a 1-Day Water Park Pass which provides one-day admission to either Typhoon Lagoon or Blizzard Beach for $61.77 with tax for ages 10 and up or $53.25 for ages 3-9 with tax. This now means you can water park hop for a day! You can also purchase a Water Parks Annual Pass with unlimited admission to both water parks for $117.15 with tax for adults, or $105.44 with tax for kids ages 3-9. But if you have a Premium Annual Passport, you already have the privilege of unlimited admission to both parks.

So are you ready for some Disney Savvy tips?

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