Walt Disney World (FL)

Epcot AtMousePhere: The Music of the Entrance

by on May 25, 2015

epcot3After a brief hiatus, the AtMousePhere series is back and taking a look at Epcot, and specifically Epcot music!

Out of all of the theme parks, fans have especially latched on to the music of Epcot’s entrance. The other three theme parks have music at the entrance that is put together like a patchwork quilt: One piece ends, and the next piece begins. In Epcot, however, the pieces are woven through a main tune that appears in some form between each new piece of music.

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SATURDAY SIX: Top Six Adult Drinks at Walt Disney World

by on May 23, 2015

This week’s SATURDAY SIX takes a look at the Top Six Adult Drinks at Walt Disney World. Who among us doesn’t enjoy an adult libation from time to time, especially on days when Anna & Elsa still have a 40 minute wait at 3 in the morning? While we at the SATURDAY SIX offices respect those who attempt an Ultimate Touring Plan to see every attraction, show, parade and live performance at a Disney Park, you’re more likely to find us attempting to drink around World Showcase or figuring out the best resort to stay at while attempting a WDW bar tour.

We looked at every bar and lounge across WDW property and came up with the list of best adult drinks. The only venue not eligible is the new Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto, because they will be getting an article devoted entirely to them in the near future (we’re still in the honeymoon phase, and the Nautilus, Shrunken Zombie Head, Rum Flight, Tropical Dark & Stormy, Krakatoa Punch and Polynesian Pearl would fill up the list.)  With that out of the way let’s begin the drink countdown, starting with….

# 6 – Grand Marnier Orange Slush (France Pavilion, Epcot)

Our first stop after crossing the International Gateway at Epcot is Les Vins des Chefs de France kiosk for a Grand Marnier Orange Slush. Similar in taste to an orange sorbet with just the right mix of Grand Marnier and Grey Goose vodka, this slush is absolutely delicious and the perfect drink during a hot touring day at Epcot.

25DrinksOfXmas_GranMarinerSlush

Gran Marnier Slush. (photo by Brandon Glover)

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Disneyland or Disney World – What’s the Difference? Part 4

by on May 22, 2015

Disneyland or Disney WorldDisneyland or Disney World? Welcome back to our four part series, where we are debating this very question. In case you missed it, in part one we took a look at some of the key differences between Disneyland and Disney World in the areas of size and scope, atmosphere, and weather. In part two, we examined the topics of crowds, pricing, and hotels. In part three, we compared planning, transportation, and the parks. In our fourth and final part, let’s conclude our side-by-side comparison of Disneyland Resort and Walt Disney World by discussing events, resort extras, and dining.

Events

Disneyland Holiday TimeDisneyland Resort Events

The Disneyland Resort has lots of exciting happenings throughout the year. As well as offering several smaller events, Disneyland Resort is host to:

  • Lunar New Year: This is a fun celebration at California Adventure filled with festive decorations and entertainment.
  • Star Wars Half Marathon Weekend: This is a runDisney race event complete with Star Wars characters and entertainment.
  • New Orleans Square Mardi Gras: This is an exciting happening in the New Orleans Square of Disneyland complete with lively jazz music.
  • Tinker Bell Half Marathon Weekend: This is a themed runDisney race event filled with Never Land characters and entertainment.
  • Independence Day: This celebration has themed merchandise, tasty red-white-and-blue treats plus a dazzling fireworks show.
  • Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend: This is another incredible runDisney race event with courses that pass through both California Adventure and Disneyland.
  • Halloween Time: This event includes Disney villains, Halloween crafts, dance parties, yummy Halloween inspired treats, themed merchandise, and festive fall decorations.
  • Mickey’s Halloween Party: This party is held on select nights in September and October and includes exciting dance parties, trick-or-treat stations, character meet and greats, and dazzling fireworks.
  • Avengers Super Heroes Half Marathon Weekend: This is another runDisney race event this time with a Super Heroes theme.
  • Holidays at the Disneyland Resort: This seasonal offering includes a special version of World of Color, holiday fireworks, a Christmas parade, snow on Main Street, U.S.A., holiday overlays to “it’s a small world” and Haunted Mansion, Sleeping Beauty Castle covered in sparkling icicle lights, themed treats and merchandise, and the entire resort adorned with festive decorations.
  • New Year’s Eve Celebration: This event includes themed merchandise and treats, energetic dance parties, and a spectacular fireworks show.

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A Look Ahead – Analyzing Crowd Predictions For September 2015

by on May 21, 2015

Labor Day always falls on the first Monday of September which this year is Monday, September 7, as late as it can be on the calendar. The Disney World Crowd Calendar predicts the week before Labor Day will have crowds as light as the week after and so we’ve received many requests to take a closer look. The low numbers seem too good to be true.

I think your calendar is using the early Labor Day from last year as a proxy for this year’s predictions. Better check your numbers because Labor Day is September 7 this year.

So…let’s take a look.

How do attraction wait times in early September compare to the rest of the year? [photo courtesy Tom Bricker]

How do attraction wait times in early September compare to the rest of the year? [photo courtesy Tom Bricker]

September is the Least Popular Month for Travel

First of all, let’s acknowledge that we may be splitting hairs here. September is the single best time of year to do Disney World if you want to avoid crowds. Period. If you dislike crowds and are considering a trip with the word ‘September’ in your itinerary, book it!

Are Crowds Different Before and After Labor Day?

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How Do Crowd Levels Relate to Total Wait Times?

by on May 21, 2015

TouringPlans logoSo maybe you noticed that TouringPlans released some Crowd Calendar updates this week. And maybe you have a trip planned and are worried that your dates included some crowd level changes. Wouldn’t you like to know how the crowd levels relate to overall Disney wait times? Of course you would. And we’re here to help.

METHODOLOGY

We took two of our most popular touring plans (the One Day Plan for Adults, and the One Day Plan for Parents with Small Children) at the most popular theme park in the world (Magic Kingdom), and optimized them for days at each crowd level – 1 to 10.

With the exception of the “10” day, the Magic Kingdom opens at 9AM. The 10 day, it opens at 8AM.

We start the plan with arrival at park open.

No days have Extra Magic Hours.

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Harambe Market to Open May 23 at Disney’s Animal Kingdom

by on May 20, 2015

©Disney

©Disney

For those of you traveling down to Walt Disney World this weekend, you may want to make a stop over at Disney’s Animal Kingdom to enjoy the newest dining establishment on property. Harambe Market is slated to open in the Africa section of the park on May 23.

This new quick service/merchandise location will feature four different walk-up windows that will feature a wide variety of street market, African-inspired dishes and beverages for Guests to enjoy. They include:

  • Kitamu Grill: offering skewered chicken and a kabob flatbread sandwich.
  • Famous Sausages: features a corn dog, inspired by a South African sausage called a boerewors, dipped in curry-infused corn batter.
  • Chef Mwanga’s: specializes in a spice-rubbed karubi rib with green papaya-carrot slaw.
  • Wanjohi Refreshments will offer unique African-inspired beverages

The area will provided seating for over 200 under shaded canopies in the open air dining area to relax and eat.

Harambe Market’s backstory is that the area was built around a Colonial-era train depot complete with a 1960s water tower. Guests will be able to see pieces of that story, including the water tower on their visit.

This new addition to the park also includes a new pathway to Asia for Guest convenience from Africa to Bradley Falls and the Asia section of the park.

I am certainly excited to try out these brand new offerings and I think they make a wonderful addition to a fantastic area of the park already.

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Updated Port Orleans Riverside Room View Photos

by on May 20, 2015

Disney landscapers have trimmed back many of the trees in front of the Magnolia Terrace building (#85) at Port Orleans Riverside, allowing for better river views from upper-floor rooms. Our photographers swung by for quick stay last week, and get updated photos for our hotel room view database.

Here’s the view from room 8916 before the trimming:

Room 8916

And here’s the view after:

8916_2

It’s a much better view, and they’ve kept the lovely Magnolia trees around the sides.

The photographers are making their way around Walt Disney World this summer, updating room photos for the Polynesian, BoardWalk Inn Villas, and more.

Thanks to our friend Andre Wiley of PortOrleans.org for the tip about the maintenance!

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Walt Disney World Crowd Level Changes May 2015 to May 2016

by on May 19, 2015

Today the Disney World Crowd Calendar received an update. The last time we updated the Disney World Crowd Calendar was December 2014, and a lot has changed since then.

Park Hours, Park Schedules and the Way They Get Updated

See Brian’s article about how often park hours change. We track park hours obsessively, so it is important to refresh our crowd levels every few months to take advantage of the latest trends.

Confirmed dates for Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party and Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party

Magic Kingdom crowds vary greatly depending on the party schedule. Now that we have confirmed dates for the parties, the crowd levels can be updated to reflect the schedule.

School Schedules for the 2015/2016 School Season

Orlando is the world’s most popular family vacation destination, so it makes sense that the crowds are highly driven by school schedules. Fewer schools in session mean more families on vacation. We publish our Crowd Calendar one year in advance, so there are times of the year when we must project the school schedules into the future before the schedules are officially published. Now that we have confirmed schedules for the 2015/2016 school year, it is time to update the calendar.

Attraction Model Enhancements

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How Often Do Disney World Park Hours Change?

by on May 19, 2015

TouringPlans logoPark hours are one of the many things that factor into our Walt Disney World Crowd Calendar calculations. We have found over the years that park hours are decent indicators of crowd size (although they are far from the only indicators). The reasoning is simple: Disney has longer operating days when they think they’ll be busy and shorter when they don’t.

I have personally been collecting Walt Disney World park hours for 4 years now, since July 1, 2011 and I have compiled some overall statistics that I find interesting, and therefore think you may find interesting as well. Be warned, there are a lot of numbers in this post so geek out everyone!

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Disney World Crowd Calendar Report – May 10 to 16, 2015

by on May 19, 2015

Crowds at Walt Disney World last week were as predicted by the Crowd Calendar except for Tuesday and Wednesday when wait times lagged below expectations. It was a good week for crowds with most days having below average crowd levels. Only Saturday saw a crowd level above the midpoint on our scale.

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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