Walt Disney World (FL)

Seth Kubersky’s Best Week Ever February 11, 2016: Kylo Ren & Construction Walls at Disney’s Hollywood Studios

by on February 11, 2016

Kylo Ren Disney's Hollywood Studios

Visit Kylo Ren and check out DHS construction with Best Week Ever! (Photos/video by Seth Kubersky)

Ed – Sorry to break in right at the start, but I would like to announce that this will be Seth’s last Best Week Ever for the time being. While Seth is focusing his considerable talent on other things, we will have some new Best Week Ever authors. Look for the first new Best Week Ever later today…that’s right, double Best Week Ever week! Now, on to Seth’s wonderful week.

It’s been a little while since Best Week Ever took a look at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, so I stopped by the park several times in recent days for an update on this in-transition attraction. Construction walls may be rising on a daily basis, but that doesn’t seem to be stopping the crowds from coming! We’ll look at some of the changes around DHS, culminating in an encounter with the newest patricidal Star Wars star, Kylo Ren.

 

First, let’s take a look around Disney’s Hollywood Studios during the first week of February. This is a typically moderate time of year according to our Crowd Calendar, but I encountered some long lines around DHS, especially on February 8th:

 

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The Basics: Using the Crowd Calendar to Decide When to Visit Disney World

by on February 10, 2016

This is a continuation of our Back to Basics Series. Scroll to the bottom to see our other Basics posts.

Are you planning a vacation to Disney World? Wouldn’t it be cool to just pick up and go right now? In my mind, I’m there already with nothing to do to but have fun. Unfortunately, a reality check reminds me that we all have jobs, many need to consider school schedules, and finances and budgets need to be in order. Given all of these considerations, how can you possibly make an informed decision about the best time for your Disney World trip?

Well, today is your lucky day because this article focuses on TouringPlans.com’s Disney World Crowd Calendar, a powerful tool designed to help you make a decision about when to go so that you spend the least amount of time in line. Plus, see a handy summary of how specific holidays and Disney World special events affect how much time you’ll be in line.

[Even more luck! If you are planning a trip to Disneyland or Universal Orlando—TouringPlans provides Crowd Calendars for these destinations too.]

© Sarah Graffam

© Sarah Graffam

How will the crowds be during your Disney World visit? Use TouringPlans.com’s Crowd Calendar to pick the best week for your vacation.

Deciding When to Go: First Considerations

First and foremost, as with any trip, there are two basic factors that are crucial to deciding when to go to Disney World and that provide the context for using the TouringPlans Crowd Calendar. These are: (1) when you can afford to go and (2) when your schedule allows you to go.

In terms of when you can afford to go, maybe your goal is to save up first, or you are expecting a work bonus to put toward vacation, or your budget will be a bit more flexible once that car loan is paid off. As for schedule, you likely need to work around school vacations, a project at work, or family obligations.

Another potential factor is Disney World’s schedule. Is there a special event or time of year you would like to visit? Is it a must-do or just a bonus if it lines up with your other best times for vacation? Also keep in mind that peak crowds bring peak prices at Disney World resorts.

Considering these factors is bound to narrow down the time when you will take your vacation, and this is when TouringPlans’ Crowd Calendar can become an integral part of deciding when to go. Matching up all of these factors—budget, schedule, and what you’d like to experience at Disney World—with the Crowd Calendar is an excellent way to pick the best week for your vacation.

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The Circle of Life: An Environmental Fable at Epcot Closed for Enhancements

by on February 9, 2016

©Disney

©Disney

First Soarin went down for refurbishment and now it appears that another attraction in The Land Pavilion at Epcot has closed for work. The Circle of Life: An Environmental Fable has closed for a lengthy time period while enhancements occur. The attraction, shown via a 70 mm film, showcases characters from The Lion King shares the story of Simba teaching Timon and Pumbaa the importance that the environment plays. The goal is to teach all about how necessary it is to be eco-friendly.

There is no word on what type of work is being done to the attraction at this time, however it is currently slated to return showtimes starting on April 3.

Currently, Guests looking to enjoy The Land Pavilion in Future World may still experience Living with The Land boat ride and eat at the counter service location, Sunshine Seasons.

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Disney World’s Hardest Dining Reservations to Get and Often-Available Alternatives

by on February 9, 2016

Rose and Crown (5)It’s barely 2016 and we are already busy working on the 2017 Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World. While the book itself won’t be available until August, we can give you a preview of some of the research we have been doing. One thing that we’ve been looking into quite a bit lately is the availability of Disney Dining Reservations at Walt Disney World. While some of the hard-to-get reservations will not surprise you (hello Cinderella’s Royal Table, my old friend) some might.

What follows contains excerpts from the 2017 Unofficial Guide:

The Reality of Getting Last-Minute Dining Reservations

If your trip is more than 180 days in advance and you want to dine at a popular venue such as Be Our Guest or Cinderella’s Royal Table, getting up early and getting onto Disney’s reservation website at 6am Eastern time will get you the table you want more than 80% of the time.

The longer you wait, the more effort you’ll have to put in to find a reservation. For example, if you’re trying for breakfast at Cinderella’s Royal Table within the next 7 days, your chance of finding any table the first time you check is less than 3%, based on our tests. But if you’ve got the time and patience to visit Disney’s website around 30 times over the next week (that’s not a typo), you’ve got a 50/50 shot at finding a last-minute cancellation.

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Guests May Make Same-Day Reservations at Jungle Skipper Canteen

by on February 8, 2016

Skipper Canteen

©Rikki NIblett

The Magic Kingdom’s most recent restaurant, Jungle Skipper Canteen has, in the past, not allowed for advance reservations. Instead, Guests were able to walk up to the restaurant, put down their name, and they would be notified that their table was ready via text.

Well, as part of a test, from February 12-27, Guests will have the opportunity to make same-day reservations for either lunch or dinner at the Adventureland table service location. To do so, Guests can visit jungleskippercanteen.com or call 407-939-1933 on the day of their visit. A credit card will be required at the time of the reservation and the standard cancellation policies still apply.

Guests who do not wish to made advance reservations will still have the opportunity to inquire about the restaurant availability at the restaurant’s podium.

 

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The Basics: Walt Disney World First Timer’s Guide — The Minimum You Need to Know

by on February 8, 2016

TouringPlans logo

Over the coming weeks we at the TouringPlans Blog will be going Back to Basics. We often write our posts from the perspective of people who have visited theme parks many, many times and we sometimes forget that there are those who need more basic advice. This entry is our first “Basics” post with several more to follow on topics such as characters, FastPass+, dining, hotels, and how to use our Touring Plans and Crowd Calendar. If there’s anything specific you would like us to cover let us know in the comments. Enjoy!

 

 

Sooooo, you’re planning your first trip to Walt Disney World, and you go onto the internet and ask the masses for advice.  I see exchanges like this all the time:

You: Hi everyone!  I’m planning my first ever trip to Walt Disney World, and I’m not really sure where to begin.  What do I need to know?

Within seconds, responses start to pour in:

Helpful person number 1: Doug is the best Jungle Cruise skipper!  He’s worth waiting for, so try to get on his boat!

Helpful person number 2: If you go to the phone booth in Tomorrowland and pick up the phone, you’ll hear some funny chatter!  It’s a MUST do!

Helpful person number 3:  I’ve never done it myself, but I heard from a bus driver that there’s a secret passageway on the pathway between Space Mountain and Storybook Circus that you can use to get to Animal Kingdom!  Just whisper “Marcelline” into the third shrub on the east side of the path, and a Cast Member will appear and escort you to a high-speed underground rail that connects directly with Expedition Everest!  It will save you so much time AND you get to ride Everest without a wait!

…and so on and so forth — good info to have, and well-intentioned, but not really critical from a planning standpoint for someone that has never even set foot on Disney property.  Before you know it, the signal to noise ratio is unbearable, and you’re getting bombarded with so many niche tips and tricks that the information that is legitimately important for a first timer to have gets lost in the shuffle.     

The biggest problem a first-timer encounters is that they don’t know what they don’t know, and knowing where to direct your focus is half the battle.  With that in mind, I’ve tried to put together my “most important concepts” for a first time visitor that provides the bare minimum amount of information you need to successfully plan a trip, and then you can add on to that as you like.  There is probably nowhere on planet earth that rewards a little advance planning like Walt Disney World, so I’d encourage anyone reading this to move beyond this guide, but this will at least provide the concepts that you need to be aware of to plan your first trip that you can use as touchstones if you start to feel a bit lost.  Here goes with the most important things for a first time visitor to know:

  • While you Don’t have to plan every moment, certain planning is wise
  • Understand what FastPass+ is and use it liberally
  • Walt Disney World is probably larger than you think
  • Relax

There you have it, have fun on your trip!

Looking at what I’ve written with the benefit of a few seconds hindsight, it occurs to me that there might be a need for a little more detail.  I promise I’ll keep it light, though, and will limit it to stuff that will really move the needle for you.  Sooooo, without further ado, let’s jump in!

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Guests Can Now Meet Kylo Ren at Disney’s Hollywood Studios

by on February 7, 2016

©Rikki Niblett

©Rikki Niblett

Are you anxious to meet the newest villain in the Star Wars universe? Well, now you can at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Kylo Ren, from Star Wars: The Force Awakens is now appearing and greeting Guests at the Star Wars Launch Bay.

Guests will be able to meet Kylo Ren on the bridge of his First Order Star Destroyer in the Dark Side section of the Launch Bay. This means that Darth Vader will no longer be meeting Guests here, but he can still be seen in Jedi Training:

In the Launch Bay area, Guests will also be able to meet Chewbacca, come across Stormtroopers or even Jawas. Guests visiting this area can also experience a film showcasing some of the people behind the film, see concept art, tour galleries of memorabilia, see Star Wars artifacts, play video games and more.

The Star Wars Launch Bay is likely going to be a fluid experience going forward, with new artifacts, art work and more debuting as the upcoming Star Wars movies get ready to be released. Stay tuned for more information about this great area where you are able to get in touch with The Force. (Or the Dark Side…)

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Club Disney at Disney’s Hollywood Studios Now Seasonal

by on February 7, 2016

©Rikki Niblett

©Rikki Niblett

The brand new flex space called Sunset Showcase over near Rock n’ Roller Coaster Starring Aerosmith recently debuted Club Disney back in early December. Club Disney was essentially a dance party space where Guests could interact and boogie down with their favorite Disney characters throughout the day. Guests were also able to digitally “color” giant screens that resembled coloring book pages, grab a snack, or just relax.

Well, now it appears that Club Disney at Disney’s Hollywood Studios has turned into just another seasonal offering for the park. There is no word on when the dance party offering will be available for Guests to visit going forward.

The Sunset Showcase is also currently holding a special event called Club Villain, where guests can enjoy a dinner party and mix and mingle with their favorite bad guys. Club Villain is going to continue in this space on select dates until March.

It is unclear what the Sunset Showcase space will be used for going forward after Club Villain has finished, but I’m sure we’ll be hearing more information soon.

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Celebrate Black History Month at Epcot

by on February 5, 2016

The Kinsey Collection

©Disney

Guests at Walt Disney World will be able to celebrate Black History Month at the America Adventure Pavilion in Epcot throughout the month of February. Guests will find new historical artifacts, learn history about the influence of African-American culture, and take part in book signings.

First, Guests will have the opportunity to meet three acclaimed African-American authors on select Saturdays. Book signings will be open to all guests. Authors include:

Terry McMillan, author of “Who Asked You?” 
Saturday, February 6 – 1-2 p.m. and 3-4 p.m.

Critically acclaimed New York Times bestselling author Terry McMillan is known for her powerful novels and short stories about African American women. Many will remember her novel, “Waiting to Exhale,” which was adapted into a film starring Whitney Houston and Angela Bassett back in 1995. Other novels by McMillan include “How Stella Got Her Groove Back,” “Disappearing Acts,” and “A Day Late and a Dollar Short.” McMillan recently published her eighth novel, “Who Asked You?,” a story about the challenges and strength of a family.

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Take Part in The Lion Guard Adventure at Disney’s Animal Kingdom

by on February 5, 2016

©Disney

©Disney

Have you heard of the Disney Junior show, The Lion Guard? Well beginning this Sunday, February 7, Guests who visit Disney’s Animal Kingdom will be able to become an honorary member of the Lion Guard with The Lion Guard Adventure.

The Lion Guard Adventure is a self-guided experience that encourages Guests to protect the environment and care for animals. Guests can do this by finding small statues of some of the characters from the TV show.

To take part in the fun, Guests may pick up a Lion Guard Adventure map at one of the following locations:

  • Oasis: The Outpost
  • Discovery Island: Island Mercantile
  • Africa: Zuri’s Sweets Shop, Mombasa Marketplace, and the Festival of the Lion King merchandise cart
  • Asia: Maharajah merchandise cart
  • Rafiki’s Planet Watch

Guests will be able to find the following statues throughout the park: Kion (lion), Fuli (cheetah), Beshte (hippo), Ono (egret), Bunga (honey badger). Once you have found all the statues, you will need to return your map to Rafiki’s Planet Watch where you will take a special pledge to become an honorary member of The Lion Guard and receive a special button.

This opportunity will take place through early April.

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