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Disney Park Strengths and Weaknesses: Hollywood Studios

by on December 21, 2015

GreatMovieRide_Bricker

Photo courtesy DisneyTouristBlog.com

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?

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Be Good To Your Feet at Disney Parks

by on December 11, 2015

Copyright 2010 Claire Nat

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.

If you are like me, this article is for you.

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Minnie’s Holiday Dine at Hollywood & Vine

by on December 9, 2015

DSC03197It’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)

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.)

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A Thrill Junkie’s Guide to Traveling With Wimps

by on December 9, 2015

COASTERS_Everest2Allow 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!

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Sharks Underwater Grill versus Coral Reef

by on December 4, 2015

As prices increase at Walt Disney World, many people have expressed a desire to spread out beyond Disney and explore other theme parks in the area. Although each theme park has its own unique activities that make a one-on-one comparison difficult, there are some places where a direct comparison can be useful. At both SeaWorld Orlando and Epcot, there are restaurants where you are able to dine with an underwater aquarium view of sea life: Sharks Underwater Grill at SeaWorld and Coral Reef Restaurant at The Seas with Nemo & Friends Pavilion in Epcot. Here’s how they stack up with each other after a lunch visit to each.

Availability

Like many Disney restaurants, it is highly advisable to have a dining reservation for Coral Reef. Although there may be some availability for walk-up dining, it is a very risky proposition. When we arrived at Sharks and asked if they had any availability for a walk-up on a Saturday afternoon, the hostess looked at us like we were crazy. They had plenty of availability, and reservations are only absolutely required during peak attendance times.

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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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