Walt Disney World (FL)

Best Places to Find Pins at Disney World

by on September 21, 2014

Disney Pin Trading has become somewhat of a Disney vacation pastime and is one of my personal favorite things to do when I visit Disney World. What is Disney Pin Trading? Well, all throughout Disney World you will find metal pins for sale representing everything from characters to resorts to attractions to special events. The more pins you purchase, the greater your collection, plus you have great mementos to remember your vacation by; but this souvenir experience is also interactive in that you can trade with Cast Members, or with other guests, if they so choose. It’s a fun activity that everyone can enjoy while exploring the parks and resorts!

Disney Pin Trading - A Glass Slipper Vacation

Disney Pin Trading

Now you will find Disney Pins for sale almost everywhere throughout the parks and resorts, but there are some corners of Disney World where you may find a better selection of pins or those rare, special edition pins or just maybe that one you’ve been hunting for the whole trip. So read on to check out my best places to find pins at Disney World!

Epcot’s Morocco Pavilion – This particular Epcot pavilion is one of my favorites because there’s a lot more to see than just the fountain and restaurants found at the front. The Morocco Pavilion actually extends back farther than what you may realize in a network of exotic, winding streets which contain lots of things to see and a few shops. It’s impressive and trust me, you will have a hard time reminding yourself that you’re actually in Central Florida and not Morocco! Anyway, back to Disney Pins. So because most guests don’t realize that the Morocco pavilion offers more than just what’s at the front door, the Cast Members who work at the rear of the pavilion, and their lanyards, aren’t visited by guests nearly as much as at others. While nothing is guaranteed, Morocco, in my opinion, is a good bet for those rare Cast Member pins!

Stores & Service Locations – Most shops and stores at the parks have their own individual pin boards from which you can trade from. Some stores have their own “themed” boards that match the theme of the land or attraction they belong to, which only makes trading even more fun! Some of the pin boards at the Disney World Resorts are only brought out at certain times and may have a trading limit. If you’re not sure, feel free to ask! In addition, many service locations at Disney World, such as stroller rentals, also have their own pin boards. I’ve even heard of a pin covered stroller with a stuffed Mickey Mouse in the seat from which you can trade at the Magic Kingdom! Pin boards are where I go to in order to trade because you never know what you might find, and very few guests realize that service locations have their own pin boards.

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DisneyQuest: Five Floors Of Fun!

by on September 20, 2014

IMG_3420Recently, I was asked to upgrade my Disney pass to help out with some extra stuff here at Touring Plans. I hadn’t bothered with a premium annual in years since it just meant access to DisneyQuest and the water parks. I’d remembered DisneyQuest as a let down with lots of broken machines and outdated technology. It was a couple months after upgrading that I decided to finally stop in and see if anything had changed. I don’t know if it was just because of the time that had passed or due to recent changes, but I had a great time and wondered why I’d written the place off so many years ago. So with a fresh perspective I thought I’d share what you can expect from the five floors of fun at DisneyQuest!

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Studio Backlot Tour To Close at Disney’s Hollywood Studios

by on September 20, 2014

Studios Backlot Tour

Yesterday was my last time riding the Backlot Tour

Well, another Walt Disney World attraction will be officially closing at the end of this month. The Studio Backlot Tour will see its last day of operation on Saturday, September 27, marking the end of an era at Disney’s Hollywood Studios.

This closure is happening to make way for new experiences; a portion will be used to house the Wandering Oaken Trading Post on the Streets of America, moving the shop and play area closer to the “For the First Time in Forever: A Frozen Sing-Along Celebration.”

Also, it appears that other developments are being considered for the area, which will be announced at a later date. Lots of rumors are currently swirling about what Disney could be considering.

The Studio Backlot Tour has been around since opening day of Disney’s Hollywood Studios, and while it’s been cut down quite a lot over the years and is really a shell of its former self, it is still a little sad to see the tour close. Matter of fact, I actually rode it yesterday…little did I know that this news was brewing and that it would be my last time on it.

This is yet another attraction closure in a line of closures at Walt Disney World that will all be taking place at the end of this month.  Other attractions and shows ending include Mo’Rockin, The Spirit of America Fife and Drum Corps, Off Kilter, The World Showcase Players, and Maelstrom. In addition, The American Idol Experience closed at the end of August.

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2014 Epcot Food & Wine Festival Menus Added to TouringPlans.com

by on September 19, 2014

FoodandWinelogosmallYesterday was the soft open of the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival, which officially began today. Because of the invaluable help of Chat moderator, Susan Weaver; friend of the site, Heather Pero; and blogger, Maddi Higgins, we’re able to bring you this year’s Food & Wine menus and pricing in plenty of time to start planning your assault on the booths.

The biggest change this year is the elimination of all larger sized beer offerings. Whereas in previous years beers were sold in 6-, 12-, and 22-oz. sizes, for 2014 you’ll only find 6-oz. pours and flights of 4 beers at 4 oz. each. Those are priced $3.50 and $9.25, respectively.

It will come as no surprise that prices have generally gone up from last year. Most of the returning items are 25-50¢ higher this year. The majority of food items are in the $3.75 to $5.75 range. Desserts are usually around $3.

Nearly every booth at least one vegetarian choice, though many times that choice is dessert only. Vegan choices are only found at Terra, which returns this year.

The Food & Wine Festival runs now through November 10. TouringPlans recommends visiting on weekdays to avoid what can be very long lines at the food kiosks.

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Daisy Lauren’s Best Week Ever: September 18, 2014

by on September 18, 2014

1Hi, Everyone! Welcome to the Best Week Ever here at Walt Disney World! I have so much to share with you this week. We’re stopping by Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Downtown Disney, and Disney’s Hollywood Studios for some epic catch up after my trip to Tokyo Disney Resort. (If you missed that, you can find it here.) So without any further delay, let’s jump right in!

Our good friend, the crane over Cinderella’s Castle, is back to install the Castle Dream Lights. I don’t think anyone can deny how beautiful these lights are once they’re installed, but the crane is such an eyesore! It seems like it’s there a third of the year anymore between installing the lights and removing them after the holidays. If they can ruin thousands of once in a lifetime photos in front of the castle I think they can close the Haunted Mansion a few weeks out of the year to install Haunted Mansion Holiday. Okay, I know I’m the only one that thinks that way, and we’re never getting the overlay, but you’d think they could not have the crane up for so long every year. But I’m getting ahead of myself, my day didn’t start in the Magic Kingdom. I started with one of the epic breakfasts of Disney World! But you’ll have to click below to find out more! :)

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Disney World Crowd Report – September 7 to 13, 2014

by on September 17, 2014

We saw record lows across the four parks last week with level ’1′s most days. Super headliner attractions which measure average waits in the range of 90 to 120 minutes during the rest of year saw averages of 30 minutes or less. Magic Kingdom in particular was virtually empty – or at least as empty as it ever gets.

Let’s look at how the crowd levels stacked up each day last week on the Touringplans.com Disney World Crowd Report:

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Disney World Planning Challenges: Tough-to-Get Reservations—From FastPass+ to Dining

by on September 17, 2014

Seven Dwarfs Mine Train Sign. Photo by Katie McNair

Photo by Katie McNair

Even with lots of research, some aspects of a Walt Disney World vacation are—let’s just say—resistant to planning. In fact, they can seem like downright mysteries to first-time vacationers and expert Disney World planners alike. A major challenge when planning a Disney World vacation is successfully reserving tough-to-get experiences that become available for booking at unpredictable times initially, book up extremely quickly, or both. Although there is no surefire way to snag these reservations, there are some ways to improve your chances.

First, though, it can be helpful for you to have a bit of background on the experiences that have given or are currently giving planners the most difficulty.

Hard-to-Get Reservations

Photo by Sarah Graffam

Photo by Sarah Graffam

Currently topping the list of difficult-to-get reservations are FastPass+ reservations for Meet Anna and Elsa at Princess Fairytale Hall and Seven Dwarfs Mine Train at Magic Kingdom. In addition, obtaining reservations at Magic Kingdom’s Be Our Guest Restaurant can be a real challenge.

Experiences that have proven difficult for guests to book in the past and that can still present a challenge in some cases include FastPass+ for popular rides like Epcot’s Soarin’ and Test Track as well as Toy Story Mania at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, FastPass+ for parades and nighttime shows, FastPass+ for shows at special events such as Star Wars Weekends, reservations for the Frozen Summer Fun Premium Package, reservations at Magic Kingdom’s Tomorrowland Terrace Fireworks Dessert Party, and, the original most-difficult-to-get reservation, dining at Cinderella’s Royal Table restaurant.

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Disney Princess Dress (and other Costume) FAQ

by on September 17, 2014

t_logo_fbWith Halloween just around the corner, it’s time to take another look at the Disney Princess Dress situation. This is an update of my 2012 article on the state of the princess dress, with new photos, pricing, resources, and details on the all important FROZEN dress situation. So put on your tiara and polish your crystal plastic shoes, ’cause here we gooooo.

Do most girls wear princess dresses at Walt Disney World?

When you’re just walking around the park, you’ll see just a small percentage of girls ages about 3 to 8 wearing princess costumes, maybe 5%. However, there are some places at the parks where the percentage of girls in princess attire will be much higher. My non-scientific, personal observation is that something along the lines of 50-60% of the preschool and elementary age girls at the princess-themed character meals will be wearing princess dresses. Note that this also means that 40-50% of the girls there will NOT be wearing gowns. Very few girls older than age 8 or 9 will be wearing princess dresses at meals, or anywhere else.

Something on the order of 80% of the girls getting makeovers at the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique (BBB) will be sporting some form of princess attire. Similarly, something on the order of 80-90% of the children attending Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party will be wearing costumes. These might be princess gowns, but could just as easily be something else entirely.

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Offsite Options: Rope Drop Rules

by on September 16, 2014

As avid Disney fans know, the Unofficial Guide recommends arriving at the gate of Walt Disney World’s theme parks 30–40 minutes before park opening during mid-summer months, and 45–60 minutes before park opening during the holiday season. The introduction of FastPass+ into touring strategies, however, may lead some to question whether arriving this early, i.e., for rope drop, is as important as it used to be. After all, if you can make your attraction selections in advance, why go through the “hassle” of arriving at the crack of dawn?

Though I would argue getting to the parks early is important for all guests, this article will examine why it is especially important for offsite guests. I’ll identify some of the benefits to “rope-dropping” as an offsite guest, and encourage you to at least give rope drop a try during your next Walt Disney World experience.

First!

First! – © John Kivus, 2013

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Day-Of FastPass+ Availability at Walt Disney World

by on September 16, 2014

Getting a “Fourth” FastPass+ (and Beyond)

One of the first changes to the FastPass+ program was the ability to make more  FastPass+ selections after using your first set of advance reservations. Besides being able to get more FastPasses, this lets you get FastPass+ options that may not have been available to you previously. (For example, the advance FastPass “tiering” rules at Epcot and the Studios aren’t in effect for your 4th FastPass+ selection and beyond, nor is the once-per-attraction restriction.)

This means you have to choose a strategy. The two most common options are:

  1. Book your advance FastPass+ reservations early in the day and have more time for “extra” FastPass+ selections,
  2. Schedule your advance FastPass+ reservations during the busiest time of the day and use the standby lines early in the day, when the wait times are lower

To make this choice, it helps to know each attraction’s day-of FastPass+ availability.

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