Greetings! You may already know me as Derek’s Unpaid Outlet Intern or as one of the voices from the TouringPlans Twitter account, but now the powers that be have given me the privilege of stepping into the lofty role of co-blogger for the Best Week Ever series, joining the ranks of the illustrious Seth and Daisy. Somehow I think an e-mail got misdirected into my inbox with the offer, but if you’re reading this, it looks like my blog slipped into publication somehow. (I won’t tell if you won’t!)
A bit of background about me: I grew up in Florida and have spent most of my adult life finding ways to leave for a little while and come back to settle down. I live with my husband, daughter, and two cats (Pixie Dust and Figment) in the backyard for the Magic Kingdom.
But enough about me — time for the best week ever.
I’m about to let you in on my latest and most favorite Disney secret? Are you ready? Okay, it’s the Shop Disney Parks App, which allows iPhone, iPad, and Android users to search and browse pretty much everything available at the Walt Disney World Resort and to purchase such items through the app in the parks and at home. Yes, you can now buy items from Walt Disney World at home! Seriously, this is revolutionary fellow Disney shopaholics and it has completely changed my Disney shopping experience. I’ve used the app myself multiple times in recent months and I’m here to give you my review of the Shop Disney Parks App.
Now with Disney Store locations and the DisneyStore.com, you may be asking why is the Shop Disney Parks App even necessary? Well, the Disney Store locations and the website only carry certain merchandise and in actuality barely scratch the surface of all that’s available at the parks and resorts. But the Shop Disney Parks App allows users to purchase products from the different Disney World Resorts, Epcot’s World Showcase pavilions, and even select Disneyland 60th Anniversary items. The only catch is that some products, particularly food items and those that are exclusive to special events or labeled as limited editions, can only be purchased in-store.
Where a selected souvenir can be found at the Magic Kingdom
The app is the perfect shopping tool for when shopping are at the Walt Disney World Parks and Resorts. Users who have found an item they like on the app can simply select the Find on Map icon to see where at Walt Disney World the item is being sold. The app also shows the stock levels of the stores in which it is available too. This is a huge help for those of us who have spent valuable vacation time in the past hopping from store to store to find that one souvenir they just can’t leave without. The app also features a scanner so that when users find an item they like in a store, they can simply scan the item’s barcode to know where else it can be found on Disney World Property. Lastly, for further convenience, app users can send their purchases to their Disney World Resort or to the front of the park to skip the lines at the registers and having to lug shopping bags around for the rest of the day. They can also directly send their purchases to their home address, perfect for users who may not have enough space in their luggage for the flight home.
Now let’s move on to my personal experience with the Shop Disney Parks app…
I first downloaded the Shop Disney Parks app on my iPhone last November for the sake of Christmas shopping, as most of the members of my family love Disney World and park merch just like I do. I ordered through the app several times during the holiday season, and have even made a purchase or two since then. Here’s what I liked, and also what I didn’t…
Wait times at Disneyland last week followed the pattern predicted by the Disneyland Crowd Calendar. The resort wide crowd level was off by more than one index level twice, on Monday and Wednesday. January is off-season for Disneyland Resort and that means a big dip in attendance during the week and busy parks on the weekends.
Let’s look at how the crowd levels stacked up each day last week on the TouringPlans.com Disneyland Resort Crowd Report:
On January 8, 2016, the band formerly known as Mulch, Sweat, n’ Shears will begin their post-Disney life under their new name, American Martian. They also begin their post-Disney life…at Disney, since their first show will be at the Orlando House of Blues at Disney Springs. The concert will be starting at 7pm and there is no cover charge! If you were a fan of Mulch or are simply a fan of top-quality rock and roll, do yourself a favor and get out to the House of Blues in Orlando.
American Martian (formerly Mulch, Sweat, n’ Shears)
Are you a Disney Park critic? I know, it’s hard to be critical of anything Disney (at least I think so), but even I have to admit that I’ve experienced a few things that some parks don’t do as well as others. Of course, there’s also a number of things that each park does very well! Today, I’m breaking down Disney Park Strengths and Weaknesses beginning with a park that has expansions in the works: Hollywood Studios.
Disney’s Hollywood Studios first opened in 1989 and is all about the magic of the movies. If you’re up to date on your Disney news, you know that Hollywood Studios has had quite a year! Several attractions have closed for good while several new other offerings have made their debut. I’m talking about Star Wars Launch Bay, Path of the Jedi, and Club Disney here. The biggest Hollywood Studios news of the year, however, is that the park is gaining a much anticipated Star Wars Land and a Toy Story Land!
Now lets get to the Hollywood Studios strengths and weaknesses, shall we?
Flip flops on the left, athletic shoes on the right. (We never took a foot shot.)
Once upon a time, I went to Walt Disney World with one of my best friends. I read all about how I should increase my walks the closer I get to my trip, and how I should wear good socks and good shoes. And if I happen to get a blister (or feel one coming), I should use moleskin to keep the area from getting worse. I was pretty obsessed with preventing sore feet and blisters.
My friend wore flip flops the entire trip.
Do you know what happened? Neither of us had foot problems. Neither of us got blisters. Neither of us had sore feet from being on them all day. I wore socks and athletic shoes. She wore flip flops. And nothing happened.
The moral of this story? You might have feet like my friend: no matter what shoes you wear, nothing bad will happen to your feet. On the other hand, you might be like me, and your feet requires the utmost care.
It’s the most wonderful time of the year and holiday parties are always in vogue. Recently, Hollywood and Vine in Disney’s Hollywood Studios has begun to offer dining with Minnie and friends for the holidays, and it has been announced that this dining offering will continue after the tinsel is off the tree. Previously, I have had a fantastic meal at the now-retired Jedi Mickey meal during the also-retired Star Wars Weekends. How would this meal stack up?
The Character Touch
Your host is Minnie Mouse, but when you arrive, you are greeted by Santa Goofy for a photo opportunity. The characters will not sign autographs during the meal, and so you are given a souvenir autograph card with everyone’s signatures. Once seated, we were each given a small sample of Minnie’s hot cocoa. It was extremely rich and thick (more like a drinkable mousse than cocoa), but the chocolate taste was not overpowering.
A small cup of Minnie’s hot cocoa arrives at the beginning of your meal. (Photo by Julia Mascardo)
During our meal, we were visited twice at our table by each character: Minnie, Mickey, Donald, and Daisy, all wearing their holiday finest. Compared with the character interaction we saw during the Jedi Mickey meal, the characters seemed a bit more rushed at this meal, and the spacing was not the best. Within the first five minutes of our meal, we had seen all four characters at our table, and then we didn’t see them again until we were paying the bill. In some ways this was nice, as we could make trips to the buffet without fear of missing anyone, but it did feel a bit chaotic while trying to get settled at the table. (As a side note, Minnie was a gracious hostess, moving a chair out of the way to help me get a better picture of her beautiful dress.)
Allow me to get one thing out there at the outset: I love my family, and traveling with them is one of my favorite things in the world to do. With that said, however — and I say this lovingly — my daughter is not the bravest kid around, and my wife likes to stick to rides that are tame enough that you could step off of them without harm if need be. I, on the other hand, love thrill rides — the taller, the faster, the better. Much though I love spending time with my crew in the parks, I’d be lying if I said there weren’t times when I sadly shuffled towards the queue to see Voyage of the Little Mermaid whilst Twilight Zone Tower of Terror beckoned and mocked me in the distance…
Sooooooo, you want to spend time with your family, but there are thrill rides waiting to thrill you. Whatever shall you do? This article will hopefully offer some ideas for getting your thrill-fill without stranding your family to sit on a bench while you ride. Tips after the jump!