Walt Disney World (FL)

SATURDAY SIX: How To Survive Disney’s STAR WARS WEEKENDS In Six Easy Steps

by on May 30, 2015

This week’s SATURDAY SIX is a special one for you, Dear Reader, as it is an invaluable guide that will show you How to Survive Star Wars Weekends in Six Easy Steps. Now of course we are huge fans of the various events at Walt Disney World including Flower & Garden and Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party, but Star Wars Weekends is close to our heart because of how much we love those films. In fact, the greatest Christmas gift Your Humble Author ever received was Han Solo’s blaster. However, this annual event at Disney’s Hollywood Studios can be challenging if you don’t know what you are getting into ahead of time. So today we are going to give you the road map to success in navigating Star Wars Weekends in six easy steps, starting with…

# 6 – Watch the original Star Wars films before Disney adds even more stuff to them

Not surprisingly, Star Wars Weekends is filled with references from the original Star Wars trilogy, the three prequels, and even the Clone Wars cartoons (which has actually had six seasons of episodes despite the fact we don’t know anyone who has watched it.) You’ll want to watch the movies so you are familiar with the main characters, but also get a chance to see the films before Disney makes even more changes to them.

STARWARSWEEKENDS_JackSparrow

Jack Sparrow added into Return of the Jedi. (photo by Matt Cleary)

You see, Star Wars fans have had to watch their beloved films be tinkered with for years, and almost always in a frustrating way (Greedo shoots first in A New Hope, young Annakin added to end of Jedi.) However Disney fans have had to sit by as their company became the worldwide leader in unwatchable sequels (we’re still waiting to see if anyone can explain the plot to Pirates of the Caribbean At World’s End or tell us why Little Mermaid 3 and Brother Bear 2 exist.) Now that Disney has bought Star Wars we may see the darkest of all timelines come true, Disney changing the original films.

STARWARSWEEKENDS_JabbaHan

Disney plans on being as subtle as possible with it’s changes, including the Olaf MagicBand worn by Han Solo. (photo by Matt Cleary)

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Changes Coming to the Disney Dining Plan Beginning May 31

by on May 29, 2015

Disney Dining PlanLove it or hate it, the Disney Dining Plan is a very popular part of many people’s Walt Disney World vacation. Many like the fact that everything is pre-paid, as well as the ease of using the system.

With that being said, Disney will be making a few minor changes, based off of guest feedback, to the program. These changes will allow guests more flexibility and choice in using entitlements,  including substitutions, who can use meal entitlements, and expanded snack offerings.

Let’s take a look at this piece by piece, starting with the changes to the table service entitlements.

  • Guests who do not want a dessert will now have the ability to substitute that dessert choice for either a side salad, a cup of soup, or a fruit plate. Do keep in mind that this is only available upon request and substitutions may be limited. Guests will not be able to select an appetizer option instead.
  • Guests will not be restricted on the number of meal entitlements that may be used in one dining experience. For example, if you had are a family of four and you have the dining plan, but you meet your parents at dinner and they do not have the dining plan, but you would like to use your extra credits to buy their meal, you now have the ability to do so.
  • Those guests on either the Deluxe, the Premium, of the Platinum Dining Plans will now be able to mix their adult and child credits. This means that if a guest on the dining plan has two adults and two child meal entitlements, they may choose to select four adult entree options, if they would like. Those on the regular Disney Dining Plan will not have this option and a child entitlement must still be used for a child meal.

Let’s take a look at the changes being made at the the Quick Service location changes.

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2015 Eat to the Beat Concert Series Artists Announced

by on May 29, 2015

©Disney

©Disney

Earlier this week, I gave you some preliminary details about the 2015 Epcot Food and Wine Festival, including information about five new artists that would be joining this year’s Eat to the Beat Concert Series festivities.  During this concert series, bands and solo artists perform some of their most popular songs nightly.

Well today, Disney released the full concert series schedule. In addition to the new artists (which include Tiffany, Chaka Kahn, the S.O.S. Band, Everclear and Maxi Priest), many favorites will be returning, including Air Supply, Boyz II Men, Hanson, and Dennis DeYoung.

This year’s schedule is as follows:

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Walt Disney World Newsworthy Notes – 5/29/15

by on May 29, 2015

Wow! It’s been a long time since I brought you the latest Newsworthy Notes for Walt Disney World. But that all changes today! I am back with those little nuggets that can help you navigate your next Disney vacation a little bit better. There’s quite a few great nuggets again, so let’s get to them!

  • The big news is that a new grab and go food and beverage location is being constructed in the Asia section of Disney’s Animal Kingdom.  It will be located where guests could previously get their FastPass tickets for Expedition Everest. No details are known about the location other than the fact that it will open in the fall.

Hoypoloi

  • At Downtown Disney, Hoypoloi has officially closed. The shop has made way for the United World Soccer store to return. (Wait…wasn’t that supposed to be temporary?) For guests looking for Hoypoloi merchandise, you’ll be able to find it at their sister store, Pop Gallery, which is located on the West Side. The United World Soccer store will transition from its current kiosk location found on the West Side into its new store in July.

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A First Look at the 2015 Epcot Food and Wine Festival

by on May 28, 2015

©Disney

©Disney

Is fall your favorite time to visit Walt Disney World? It is mine! Part of the reason is the Halloween festivities, but the other part is the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival, and this year is slated to be bigger than ever because it’s the 20th anniversary! The festival, which is famous for offering delicious small bites, tantalizing beverages, educational seminars, a concert series, signature dinners, tasting events, and celebrity chefs, will take place this year from September 25 through November 16 and will once again be sponsored by Chase.

To help celebrate the 20th year of the extremely popular event, there will be new wine tastings, rockin’ parties, and culinary experiences built around the 20-year milestone. Oh, and this year, Chef Remy from Ratatouille will invite guests to join a culinary scavenger hunt. How fun!

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Seth Kubersky’s Best Week Ever: 24-Hour Day at Magic Kingdom

by on May 28, 2015

Seth Kubersky's Best Week Ever Magic Kingdom 24 Hour Day

For his first Best Week Ever, Seth explores 24 Hour Day at WDW’s Magic Kingdom (photos by Seth Kubersky)

Welcome to the inaugural edition of Seth Kubersky’s Best Week Ever! Last week, we bid a fond farewell to Daisy Lauren, who filed her final Best Week Ever column before leaving the series in my semi-capable hands. Daisy leaves some pretty big shoes to fill, but I’ll do my best to continue in her style of upbeat observations from around Walt Disney World, Universal Orlando, and other area attractions.

What better way to kick off my first Best Week Ever than with Walt Disney World’s biggest event of year? Of course, I’m talking about the 24 Hour Day party at the Magic Kingdom, which served as the kickoff for Disney’s “Coolest Summer Ever” campaign. I’ve been attending WDW’s 24-hour parties ever since the very first one on Leap Day 2012, and they are always an amazing (if exhausting) experience.

This year, I was tied up for most of May with the Orlando International Fringe Theatre Festival (a must-see extravaganza for anyone interested in the arts), so 24-Hour Day marked my first opportunity to visit the Magic Kingdom in many weeks. After several years’ experience, I’ve learned that the most interesting part of the all-nighter is after midnight, which is precisely when I pulled into the TTC parking lot.

Luckily, a powerful rainstorm had pushed through the resort less than an hour before my arrival, resulting in an exodus of soggy guests. That allowed me to snag a parking spot practically underneath the monorail track, within an easy walk of the monorail station.

As I approached the TTC, I noticed a substantial queue of people waiting to purchase tickets. Pro tip: you always want to buy your park admission before arriving, especially during a special event when every minute counts!

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The Epcot That Never Was

by on May 28, 2015

(c) Walt Disney Company

Model of EPCOT, (c) Walt Disney Company

Epcot is one of my favorite parks at Walt Disney World. I never get tired of seeing Spaceship Earth, or watching the dancing Fountain of Nations in Future World, or doing a little shopping in World Showcase; but what I’ve recently discovered is that the Epcot that I know isn’t exactly what Walt Disney had in mind when planning Disney World. You see, back in the 1960s when Disney World was being planned, the Magic Kingdom wasn’t what Walt was most excited about. In fact, when Walt introduced television viewers to his plans for Florida, he said that EPCOT would be the “heart of everything we will be doing at Disney World.” Walt also said that it wouldn’t be a park at all, but rather a community of the future where you could live! So what was the Epcot supposed to be like? What happened along the way? Well, keep reading because for today, I’m here to tell you all about The Epcot That Never Was.

Walt’s Original Vision for EPCOT

One of Walt’s many interests was city planning and finding solutions to the everyday problems of the cities of the day, such as traffic, slums, pollution, and crowded conditions. He had learned a lot about planning, building, and construction when creating Disneyland, and he now felt that he could provide some solutions to the problems he saw in the real world in the form of a working community called EPCOT.

EPCOT stood for Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow, and it would be an example to the country and the world for how to build and run better cities. It would also serve as a sort of testing ground for new technology, products, materials, and ideas from America’s industries and corporations that would serve to improve our lives.

EPCOT wasn’t just some idea or possible plan for the distant future of Disney World. Walt fully intended to build it, had many plans and diagrams, and intended it to be the focus of his Disney World on the East Coast where 20,000 residents would live and work. Pretty cool, huh?

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New Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party Show to Debut this Year

by on May 27, 2015

©Disney

©Disney

If you love Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party, you’ll have one new thing to experience at this year’s event and I have to tell you, I’m super excited for this one.

The Hocus Pocus Villain Spelltacular will bring the fantastically evil Sanderson Sisters (from that favorite cult Halloween favorite, Hocus Pocus) to the Castle stage where they will run amuck (amuck, amuck) at this fun party.

With the help of the Disney villains, the three sisters, Winifred, Mary, and Sarah will conjure the ultimate Hocus Pocus Party Potion and “cast a spell on you.” The show will also feature appearances by Dr. Facilier, Oogie Boogie, Maleficent, as well as other favorite baddies. To round things out there will be dancers, projections, and special effects. The show will be replacing the Villains Mix and Mingle.

The whole stage show sounds like a blast. I’ve got my vintage Madonna costume ready because I’m ready for this sisters to perform their magic on me.

Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party takes place on select nights at the Magic Kingdom, September 15 through November 1.

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Disney World Crowd Calendar Report – May 17 to 23, 2015

by on May 27, 2015

Last Saturday (the Saturday before Memorial Day) was much busier than usual but crowd levels between Sunday and Friday were very close to what was predicted by the Disney World Crowd Calendar. Resort-wide crowd levels stayed at a ‘5’ or lower for four out of the seven days last week with wait times rising drastically heading into the weekend. Friday’s 24-Hour Event at Magic Kingdom was very busy and although crowds were extreme at some points during the event the park hit a level ‘8’ on our scale (which is based on average wait times at core attractions between 10am and 5pm).

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

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The Amazing Race Around Disney World

by on May 26, 2015

Amazing Race

Three things that my family loves are Disney World, reality TV, and competition. So once a year during our summer Disney World vacation, we combine all of these together into what we affectionately call “The Amazing Race Around Disney World”. In case you aren’t familiar with the popular reality TV series “The Amazing Race“, the basic premise is that teams of two compete in challenges while racing around the world for a million dollars. We follow this same format (minus the million) and create new challenges each year.

Please read on for a complete copy of one of our races and to learn more about how to create your very own “Amazing Race Around Disney World” for your next vacation!

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