Walt Disney World (FL)

Disney World Date Night Ideas

by on June 26, 2017

When most people think of romantic vacation getaways, Walt Disney World probably isn’t very high on the list. But for those who know it well, the family vacation destination has some incredible and unique opportunities for a date night. So, whether you’re visiting Disney World for an adult only trip or ditching the kiddos for some fun on your own for a night, we’ve got some ideas for a date night at Disney World that you won’t soon forget.

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Walt Disney World Fourth of July Celebrations

by on June 21, 2017

Fourth of July Celebrations at Walt Disney World

©Rikki Niblett

Fourth of July and fireworks. They go together like peanut butter and jelly, right? Walt Disney World is ready to celebrate the good old red, white, and blue in fantastic fashion. So, if you are wanting to salute all nations, but mostly America, they have some great ways to do it!

Magic Kingdom

Celebrate with Disney’s Celebrate America! A Fourth of July Concert in the Sky which commemorates the Fourth with brilliant fireworks that are all choreographed to patriotic music. The best part about this fireworks spectacular is that they are shown on two nights – July 3 and July 4 at 9:00 p.m. So you have two chances to catch this unique and special show.

You also don’t want to miss The Muppets Present…Great Moments in History. During the show, Miss Piggy, Kermit, Fozzie Bear and friends reenact famous moments in American history all in a fun manner. This is a live show that is performed daily in Liberty Square.

Another must see during the holiday is the Flag Retreat which takes place at 5:00 p.m. each day in Town Square on Main Street U.S.A.

The Disney Festival of Fantasy Parade will be shown twice on both July 3 and 4 – once at 12:00 p.m. and once at 3:30 p.m.

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#AskIt – Best Disney World Water Park

by on June 21, 2017

Maybe it’s because the summer heat is upon us. Maybe it’s because Volcano Bay may not be quite ready for primetime. But I’ve got water parks on the mind today. Disney has two highly themed ones for you to choose from, and they both have their advantages. So which do you prefer?

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Please let us know your thoughts by voting and in the comments. Feel free to use the comments to wax poetic about River Country too!

Ask It Results: Which Walt Disney World Mountain Provides the Best Experience?

by on June 21, 2017

Exciting! Thrilling! Rides I have never been on because I’m a thrill ride chicken! It’s time for the results of Ask It!

Last week, we asked you:

Which Walt Disney World mountain provides the best experience?

Yes, the question was left vague on what “experience” meant to each person. For some, it was an overall impression–from the queue to the ride itself and everything in between. For others, it was all about the ride and how thrilling that ride can be. It was close the end, two rides were neck and neck but one finally got moving along to the win of our not-so-scientific poll. Here’s the results.

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Finding the Least Crowded Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party in 2017

by on June 21, 2017

Here I am once again to review the information from last year and give you an even better projection for the least crowded Micky’s Very Merry Christmas Party 2017. Make sure you check out our dedicated page for a complete list of dates as well as a thorough description of what the Christmas party is.

In short, if you’re looking for the best Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party 2017, we recommend Tuesday, December 5, 2017. The equivalent date was the party last year with the lowest wait times and has been very low in the past. It’s a Tuesday, early in December, far enough away from the first party for the initial rush to subside and far enough from Christmas to avoid that rush as well.

As I’ll explain below, we’ve made some adjustments to how we calculate the best party to attend, although since I’m sure you’re wondering how we did with our recommendations last year, the answer is…not too bad. Here are the top 5 from last year’s recommendations:

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Disney Dining Plan Updated – Now With Alcohol

by on June 20, 2017

There are big changes coming to the Disney Dining Plan in 2018. Beginning in January, the Dining Plan will include entitlements for specialty drinks and … drum roll please … alcoholic beverages.

Will you now get a mimosa with your character breakfast?

As in previous years, there will be three versions of the Dining Plan: Quick Service Plan (QS), Standard Disney Dining Plan (DDP), Deluxe Disney Dining Plan (Deluxe DDP). With all versions of the plan, guests under age 21 may choose one non-alcoholic beverage (including specialty beverages where offered). Guests over 21 may choose either one single serving non-alcoholic beverage (including specialty beverages where offered) or one single serving beer, wine, or cocktail (where offered) within their meal entitlement.

Examples of single serving non-alcoholic beverages include artisanal milkshakes, fresh smoothies, premium hot chocolates, and the standard soda, coffee, or tea.

Examples of single serving alcoholic beverages include beer, hard cider, wine, sangria, mixed drinks, and specialty cocktails. Disney notes that most beer, wine and mixed drink beverages are included, but some exceptions apply. Not surprisingly, guests must be age 21 and over and present valid ID to be served alcohol.

Alcoholic beverages may only be redeemed with quick-service or table-service meal entitlements. This means that you won’t be able to make a margarita your snack; you have to get it with a meal.

So the big question is … What’s this going to cost? Well, you guessed it, prices are going up. For adults:

  • The Quick Service Plan will be $52.49, up from $48.19 in 2017
  • The Standard Disney Dining Plan will be $75.59, up from $69.35 in 2017
  • The Deluxe Disney Dining Plan will be $116.24, up from $106.68 in 2017

As before, those prices are per person, per night of your stay at a Walt Disney World owned resort hotel. As a reminder, in addition to these new specialty and alcoholic beverage entitlements, the dining plans include:

Quick Service

  • 2 Quick-Service Meal Credits (Entree and non-alcoholic beverage; or combo meal)
  • 2 Snack Credits
  • 1 Resort Refillable Drink Mug

Disney Dining Plan

  • 1 Table-Service Meal Credit (Entree, Dessert, and Non-Alcoholic Beverage; or full buffet)
  • 1 Quick-Service Meal Credit
  • 2 Snack Credits
  • 1 Resort Refillable Drink Mug

Deluxe Dining Plan

  • 3 Meal Credits of your choice (can be used as either Quick-Service or Table-Service)
  • 2 Snack Credits
  • 1 Resort Refillable Drink Mug

The addition of alcohol is most cost effective for guests using the Quick Service plan. With only a $4.30 price increase, this means that if you typically buy one alcoholic beverage with your QS Plan, then you’re saving money over the typical cost of $6-8 for beer or wine, or more for mixed or specialty alcoholic drinks. Deluxe Plan purchasers will effectively be paying $9.56 for the same drink, much closer to, and possibly over the list price of the beverage.

[EDIT: I initially wrote this with the assumption that there would be one alcohol credit per day. Readers have pointed out that the plan likely includes one alcohol credit per meal. This would mean guests on the QS and standard plans could have two drinks per day, and guests on the deluxe plan could have three drinks per day, all at the cost of about $2.00 per drink. That’s a lot of cheap booze, and perhaps a dangerous amount of free booze for some people.]

We’re anxious to see details of how the plan will be implemented, and we’re sure there will be some hiccups in the initial weeks of service as food service cast members and guests both become acclimated to the rules (and the exceptions to the rules) of this new Dining Plan configuration.

In the meantime, we have questions:

  • Will teetotalers now be less inclined to purchase the plan?
  • Will calorie conscious guests now be less inclined to purchase the plan?
  • Will service times slow down as more guests need bar items?
  • Will the quick service venues in the Magic Kingdom begin to serve alcohol?
  • How much will Disney try to upsell second alcoholic drinks?
  • Does Disney think that if guests consume more alcohol, they’ll loosen their purse strings and spend more on souvenirs or other items?
  • Will international guests purchasing the plan understand that they’re increasing their cost for gratuities?
  • Will more guests want breakfast cocktails?
  • Will more guests be consuming more alcohol overall, changing the general mood in the parks?

We won’t know the answers to many of these questions until next year, but we’re sure there will be much speculation in the meantime.

What issues does this new Dining Plan configuration raise for you? Let us know in the comments below.

Attraction Overview: Expedition Everest + Video

by on June 20, 2017

Photo - Angela DahlgrenHave you heard about the mysterious monster rumored to protect the Himalaya Mountains?

Dare to catch a glimpse?

Board an old train and travel to the top of Mount Everest to see if the legend is true!

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Renting a Car for Disney World or Universal Orlando Vacations

by on June 20, 2017

Let’s face it. Planning and budgeting for transportation is one of the least exciting agenda items to check off on your vacation planning to-do list. Compared to the thrill and excitement of securing dining reservations, a resort stay, or park tickets, who really wants to spend their night analyzing rental car options? To make matters worse, booking a rental car can be a colossal pain in the neck. With so many different options, finding the right balance of convenience and savings can be hard. So here are some factors that I tell people to consider when renting a car for their Walt Disney World or Universal Orlando Resort vacation.

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SATURDAY SIX: Six Amazing CARS Details at Disney’s Art of Animation Resort

by on June 17, 2017

This week’s SATURDAY SIX takes a look at 6 Amazing CARS Details at Disney’s Art of Animation Resort!  This weekend the third installment of the Cars franchise hits the theaters and we thought of no better time to head into one of our favorite resorts on property, Disney’s Art of Animation Resort. The original Cars is one of our favorite Pixar films and is right up there with Ratatouille, Up, and The Incredibles. When Disney California Adventure opened up Cars Land, we were more than a bit jealous, but one thing we did get in Florida is the incredible Cars wing at AOA. The rooms, the buildings, and even the hotel’s lobby is filled with great details, many of which might go unnoticed by the average guest. Today we’re going to take a look at some of our favorite details, and let’s kickoff the countdown with…

# 6 – Pixar Autographs on Cars Storyboards in the Chandelier

The lobby of Disney’s Art of Animation Resort is one of the most unique on property, and is a downright must see for animation fans. The highlight of the entire area is the stunning Storyboard Chandelier. The star burst-like chandelier is made up of hand drawn storyboards from the four films that make up the sections of AOA (The Little Mermaid,  The Lion King, Finding Nemo, and Cars.) If you look closely at some of the storyboards, you’ll see that several of them are signed by people involved in the films.  For example, Jodie Benson and Pat Carroll – the voice actresses for Ariel and Ursula in The Little Mermaid – both have autographed storyboards featuring their characters from the film.

For the Cars storyboards, some of the biggest names from Pixar can be found in the Chandelier. There is no name bigger than John Lasseter, the director of Cars and current Principal Creative Advisor for Walt Disney Imagineering. Lasseter has signed a storyboard featuring Lightning McQueen.

John Lasseter. (photo by Daisy Lauren who also helps run the TouringPlans Instagrampage)

Jerome Ranft is a character sculptor for Pixar and brother of the late Joe Ranft (screenwriter with credits that include some of our favorite animated films including Toy Story, Beauty and the Beast, and The Lion King) and Jerome signed a drawing featuring Mater cow tipping. Jerome and Joe also worked on some of the larger than life sculptures we see in the Big Blue Pool area in the Finding Nemo section of AOA.

Jerome Ranft. In a great touch, Jerome’s brother Joe Ranft drew Mater in this storyboard.

Artist Josh Cooley worked on Cars and even hand colored the storyboard that he autographed back when they original had it made for the film. The storyboard features Lightning McQueen chasing down Chick Hicks and The King.

Josh Cooley. Note that in this drawing, which was made early in the development of the film, Lightning McQueen was numbered 57 instead of the number 95 we know him as today (but we’ll get to that later.)

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Ask It: Which Walt Disney World Mountain Provides the Best Experience?

by on June 14, 2017

It’s Wednesday, and time for another Ask It. This week, we’re looking at the highest mountains in all of Florida, and asking you about your favorite. Here’s this week’s question:

Which Walt Disney World mountain provides the best experience?

  • Splash Mountain (39%, 425 Votes)
  • Expedition Everest (37%, 402 Votes)
  • Big Thunder Mountain Railroad (16%, 177 Votes)
  • Space Mountain (9%, 94 Votes)

Total Voters: 1,098

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The poll is open now here and on Twitter. We’ll have your results next week, and feel free to share what “best experience” means to you, and why you chose what you did, in the comments.