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7 Must-Do Holiday Activities to Do at The Disneyland Resort

by on December 2, 2015

It's a Small World Holiday

Even though It’s a Small World is not on my list, it is a stunning attraction to see during the holidays.

At the Disneyland Resort, the holiday season (which started November 13th, 2015 and ends January 6th, 2016) is the best time to visit the park. Even though this time of the year is the busiest, it is still totally worth it. During the holiday season The Disneyland Resort feels like totally different theme park. Disney spares no expense when it comes to the holiday season and there are special activities taking place throughout The Resort. But that leaves an important question: which ones should you experience? Well, I am here to help.

If you are planning on staying at The Resort for more than one day, I suggest trying to partake in all the special holiday celebrations. These shows and events only take place during the holiday season so take advantage of them while you can. However, for those of you that are not staying multiple days, like myself when I visit in December, I have come up with seven holiday activities and events that you need to experience. These events are not in any particular order but they all should to be in your Touring Plan.

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Disney Park Strengths and Weaknesses: Animal Kingdom

by on November 30, 2015

©Disney

©Disney

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’s somewhat in transition right now: Animal Kingdom.

Disney’s Animal Kingdom Park is still a new park when compared with the other Disney World Parks and perhaps the most difficult to explain. What you should know right off is that Disney did not intend for this park to be a zoo, but rather a new type of theme park where the entertainment and is living and breathing. Animal Kingdom opened for guests appropriately on Earth Day in 1998 and is currently home to more than 2,000 animals and currently in a transition as construction continues for new nighttime entertainment and the addition of Pandora – The World of AVATAR.

So let’s start with Animal Kingdom’s strengths, shall we…

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2016 Epcot Flower and Garden Festival Details Announced

by on November 19, 2015

©Rikki Niblett

©Rikki Niblett

As per usual, when one Epcot festival ends, details on the next festival get released, which means that we now have the first details about the 2016 Epcot Flower and Garden Festival. This will be the 23rd year for the event which will take place for an unprecedented 90 days, from March 2 through May 30.

Each year, new and returning favorites help to make up this unique event. As far as what’s new for 2016, we’ll see a brand new front entrance topiary display featuring Donald Duck’s nephews, Huey, Dewey, and Louie, alongside their Uncle Donald and Daisy in a display inspired by the 1943 comic book, “The Victory Garden.”

Also on display for the first time ever will be the Ranger Mickey topiary which will celebrate the 100th anniversary of the National Parks Service.

Located behind Spaceship Earth will be a new Floral Sun Garden which will feature golden colors and yellow “sunbursts.” At night, twinkling lights will shine.

For the little ones, there will be an innovative new play garden featuring the Fab 5, Mickey, Minnie, Goofy, Pluto, and Donald, in topiary form with musical instruments built into the outdoor climbing system.

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My Disney World Christmas Wish List

by on November 19, 2015

©Rikki Niblett

©Rikki Niblett

Walt Disney World and the Christmas Season. It just doesn’t get any more magical than that. I absolutely love this time of year as the Disney World Parks and Resorts begin to deck their halls and debut their annual holiday events and roll out new festive merchandise, it sort of helps me to kick off my own holiday preparations. One way to prep for the upcoming holiday is to take a few moments to drop by the Magic Kingdom or the Santa Chalet at Disney Springs to let the kids, and yourself, tell Santa what’s on your wish list. This tradition got me thinking…  If I could, what would I ask Walt Disney World to get me for Christmas? If you will, indulge with me in a little bit of Christmas fantasy as I fill out My Disney World Christmas Wish List!

Bring Back the Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights – Of all the holiday entertainment at Walt Disney World, the Osborne Spectacle of Dancing Lights is my personal favorite. I love the fake snow, the music and carols, the looks on everyone’s faces as they take in the lights, and the fact that it’s free with park admission! So as you can imagine, I was pretty much crushed when I heard that this is the last year for the Osborne Lights, yet I’m just as thrilled about the new developments coming to Hollywood Studios such as Star Wars Land and Toy Story Land. At this point, I’m holding onto a hope that Disney may move the Osborne Lights to another location at Walt Disney World. An announcement confirming my hopes is most definitely on my Christmas Wish List this year.

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Disney Park Attendance Up 15% for the Quarter

by on November 6, 2015

Something interesting from Disney’s earnings call yesterday:

At Parks and Resorts the investments we’ve made in our domestic Parks continue to drive higher guest visitation. Attendance at our domestic Parks was up 15% in the quarter and up 7% excluding the benefit of the fifty-third week. Disneyland in particular saw very strong attendance growth due to tremendous excitement for the 60th anniversary celebration. Per-capita spending was up 1% on higher admissions, merchandise and food and beverage spending. Per-room spending at our domestic hotels was up 7% and occupancy was up one percentage point to 84%.

Our Magic Kingdom analysis earlier this week showed 11.5% more people in line in September and October alone.

Disney’s didn’t break down attendance increases at the individual parks. Because it’s the most popular park by far, I suspect the Magic Kingdom got the largest bump. We’ll go back and check our models for the other parks, just to be sure.

Congrats to Disney – this is an historic level of growth.

Crowd calendar updates coming within days – Fred and Steve are working on them.

 

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Magic Kingdom Intermezzo

by on November 3, 2015

We’re still working on analyzing wait times at the Magic Kingdom, to finish the What’s Up with Wait Times series we started last week. We’re waiting to hear back from a few folks on a couple of questions related to those. We’re also waiting to hear if Disney says anything on their earnings call on Thursday. Once all that’s done, we should have the post up – probably Friday.

In the meantime, here are a couple of interesting charts. The first one is wait times and people in line at the Magic Kingdom from January through August, 2015:

MK-JanToAug2015

Orange lines are for attractions that either opened or had major refurbishments in 2014 or 2015.

Green boxes indicate attractions that became less popular in 2015. Excluding Pirates (which was refurb’d), what do those attractions have in common?

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What’s Up with Wait Times at Disney’s Hollywood Studios?

by on October 29, 2015

Wait times at Walt Disney World have been significantly higher than we expected over the last few months — 20% higher, year over year, in 2015. Since our crowd calendar is based on wait times, we needed to determine the causes. And we will have updated crowd calendars within a few days.

Today we’ll look at why we think wait times are higher at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. I’ll cover each WDW park in a separate blog post starting tomorrow.

We think higher wait times at Disney’s Hollywood Studios are almost entirely due to these 3 things:

  • Closed attractions
  • Mechanical problems at Tower of Terror
  • Better handling of FastPass+ return lines in the park

We explain each of these in detail below. We also looked at whether Disney has changed the number of FastPasses available, ride capacity, the ratio of FastPass guests to standby guests, or whether guests are using FastPass+ significantly more now. We don’t see any clear evidence of those happening; that’s also explained below. (There’s also increased attendance at the other parks, which we’ll talk about when we cover them.)

Background

Our analysis needs a little bit of math, but it’s all pretty simple.

Take a ride like the Tomorrowland Transit Authority. Its track holds 32 ride vehicles. Each vehicle holds 10 people. One complete trip around the track takes about 10 minutes, so each ride vehicle goes around the track 6 times per hour.

The number of people that the TTA can serve in an hour is 1,920:

32 ride vehicles x 10 people per vehicle x 6 times per hour = 1,920

If the wait at the TTA is 10 minutes, that means there are 320 people ahead of you in line [1]:

10 minutes of wait / 60 minutes in an hour * 1,920 people per hour = 320 people

You can use the same calculation at rides with FastPass+, like Toy Story Midway Mania. TSMM has an hourly capacity of around 900 people. If the posted wait is 50 minutes, the number of people who get to ride before you is:

50 minutes of wait / 60 minutes in an hour * 900 people per hour = 750 people

Most of those 750 people will come from the FastPass+ line – in fact, around 80% of the people who ride before you will come from the FastPass+ line. We’ll use that information a bit later. For now, the thing to know is how to figure out the number of people ahead of you, using the standby wait and the hourly capacity at each ride.

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A Look at Remy’s Hide and Squeak Scavenger Hunt

by on October 28, 2015

Hidden around Epcot’s World Showcase during the International Food and Wine Festival, you’ll find more than just booths with food and drink—you’ll find rats. But don’t worry, these aren’t your ordinary rats. It’s Remy, from the Disney movie Ratatouille. He’s decided to make his signature dish and is scouring ingredients from around World Showcase. Even better, he needs your help for a game of “Hide and Squeak”. DSC02918

Available at select gift shops in Epcot (such as Pin Central and the Port of Entry), you can purchase a map with stickers for $7.95, similar to the kind available during the Epcot Easter Egg hunt in the spring. As you travel around World Showcase, look for Remy hiding somewhere in each location noted on the map. (For a hint, because he’s searching for food, you’ll usually find him somewhere near a food booth.) As you find him, see what ingredient he’s obtaining at each location and use the corresponding sticker on your map. When you are finished with your grand tour, take the completed map back to the Port of Entry and receive one of six commemorative pins featuring Remy and one of the ingredients.

As we were playing this game, we did find that some of the hidden Remy locations were more tricky than others, and so it may be challenging for a young child to do completely alone—but it is a great game for families or even for adults. To add another layer to the game, most of the ingredients are aligned in some way with the country in which you find them or the food being served at the booth. We had the most fun trying to predict what ingredients we would be looking for in each country. (Proud to say, I got more right than my husband!)

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Food and Wine Festival Freebies

by on October 16, 2015

As the old saying goes, there’s no such thing as a free lunch. That’s certainly true during Epcot’s International Food and Wine Festival–lunch (and dinner) is something you will have to spend money on to eat to your heart’s content. But there are a few freebies available for the asking, if you know where to look (and in some cases, are carrying the right card). Here’s some favorites.

Free CraisinsDSC02919

The Bog is Back! After a brief hiatus, Ocean Spray has brought back they eye-catching cranberry bog located between Future World and World Showcase. To the left side of the bog as you are facing World Showcase, there is a small kiosk where they give away free single serving bags of Craisins dried cranberries. It is a great mid-morning snack while you are waiting for the festival booths to open.

 

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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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