It’s that time of year again! My Best Week Ever sisters and I are kicking off a hopeful new year by making promises for what we’re going to do with it. Of course, since you’ve come here for some Orlando based fun we’re going to be covering our New Year’s Theme Park Resolutions. Even better, you’ll be able to follow along with Best Week Ever during 2017 and see if we keep our resolutions this year. Keep us honest, folks! 😀 But don’t let the fun end with us. Let us know what your New Year’s Resolutions are in the comments below.
Dani’s Plan for 2017
2017: Less solo time in the parks, more togetherness
Many people know that 2016 marked a year of dipping my toe in the treacherous waters of thrill rides. Well, what I define to be thrill rides are probably considered mild by most. Universal Orlando has been the site of most of my thrill seeking, but this year it’s Disney’s turn. I will conquer Magic Kingdom’s mountain range, though with one modification. There is absolutely no way I am going on Space Mountain (do not try to convince). I will replace Space Mountain with Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, which I’ve never been on. And I haven’t ridden Splash Mountain and Big Thunder Mountain since my long ago preteen years.
Being a Florida Native, I love the water, be it a pool, the ocean, refreshing spring water, or a water ride. I want to spend more time flipping my fins, after all it’s better down where it’s wetter. I resolve to spend more time in all kinds of water including going to the beach more, going to Florida state parks and springs more, but also in the world of theme parks I will go on more water rides and will plan one or two weekend getaways at area hotels which will include some pool time of course. Oh! And I want to rent a pontoon boat on Bay Lake and maybe a Sea Racer too!
Finally, I want to be more social. Because my time in the theme parks often involves researching a specific topic and sharing my adventures in the parks live on social media channels I often visit the parks solo. I do value my alone time, but I want more time in the parks with family and friends. Visiting the theme parks solo is fun and it does gives me a different perspective, but so does spending time with friends, family, and making new friends.
Hollywood & Vine at Disney’s Hollywood Studios is offering Guests the opportunity to enjoy special themed dinners with Minnie’s Seasonal Dine. For awards season, we’ll have Minnie’s Silver Screen Dine which will begin on January 7 and will last until March 19.
Minnie serves as the host for this event and she is inviting all of her friends to join her as she hosts a fabulous dinner party celebrating the glamour of Hollywood! Characters will be dressed to the nines in their glitziest costumes, plus there will be unique music, décor and menu items.
The cost for Minnie’s Silver Screen Dine is $50.00 for adults ages 10 and up and $30.00 for children ages 3 to 9 (plus tax and gratuity).
Guests may also choose to add the Fantasmic Dining Package to this meal. The cost will be $57.00 per adult and $35 per child, plus tax and gratuity. In addition, some dining plans accepted.
Breakfast and lunch remains as the Disney Junior Play ‘n Dine and will still feature Doc McStuffins, Sofia the First, Jake from Jake and the Neverland Pirates, and Handy Manny.
For more information and to make reservations for Minnie’s Silver Screen Dine, you can call (407) WDW-DINE.
We all know how popular La Cava del Tequila is at Epcot and now it looks like you’re going to have a new place to get your favorite beverage in the Mexico Pavilion. A new outdoor tequila restaurant, Choza Tequila will open outside of the pavilion and will serve up margaritas, as well as Mexican cuisine like tacos, empanadas, chips and fresh guacamole.
This appears to be a replacement for the recently closed margarita stand, but with the addition of an expanded menu, it will be even more delicious.
Looks like 2017 is looking a little better!
Stay tuned for more info about Choza Tequila on the blog!
This past weekend, I was visiting the Walt Disney World Resort for the holidays and one of the spots I’ve been heavily frequenting is Disney Springs. While exploring, I quickly noticed that the Characters in Flight balloon was looking exceptionally faded and thought that it would need to be refurbished again soon.
Looks like I wasn’t the only one who thought so. Characters in Flight, which is operated by Aerophile will be closed for refurbishment from January 9-13. When the Disney Springs West Side attraction reopens, it will feature an all new look.
Characters in Flight allows Guests to ascend 400 feet in the air over Disney Springs in a tethered helium balloon. Guests are able to get a 360-degree view of the Walt Disney World Resort.
The last time the balloon was updated with a new look was back in 2012.
Soooo, the new year is upon us, with the new year comes New Year’s resolutions, and one of the most common resolutions is to lose weight or eat healthier. The problem, however, is that you have a trip planned to food-and-beverage-Mecca Walt Disney World, where around every corner you’ll be tempted with decadent treats.
How do you enjoy your trip without completely derailing your weight loss efforts? I’m happy to report that I’ve managed to drop a significant amount of weight over the last several months, and I’ve done it while continuing to visit both Walt Disney World and Disneyland on the regular. Read on to find out how you can have a great time, eat well, and still lose weight (or at least minimize the damage) on your trip!
Another New Year is arriving and while the champagne is chilling let’s take our annual look at the crowds in 2016 and what to expect in 2017. Here is last year’s post. 2016 was a year with highly variable crowds at Animal Kingdom and Hollywood Studios while Magic Kingdom and Epcot remained predictable. Hollywood Studios and Animal Kingdom saw the most significant changes take place in 2016. The Studios saw many of its attractions affected by the construction of Star Wars Land and Toy Story Land while its most popular attraction, Toy Story Midway Mania increased its capacity per hour by 50%. Animal Kingdom saw major construction as well for Pandora and the park saw closing hours after sunset for the first time in the parks history.
Walt Disney World Crowds Since 2011
In 2016, for only the second time since 2005, Christmas fell on a Sunday. This led us to suggest that Christmas crowds in 2016 might be the lowest in recent memory since school boards spread their scheduled holidays over more weeks than usual. That seems to be coming true as we have yet to see any park reach capacity during this year’s holiday rush. It is very likely that Magic Kingdom will end that streak on New Year’s Eve but in most years we see many park closings due to capacity before December 31st.
Thanksgiving crowds in 2016 were similar to what we see most years and the rest of the fall continued the pattern of larger crowds than what we have seen before 2015. Summer was busy but had pockets of lower than usual crowds. May ended up being a good time to visit, partially due to the lack of Star Wars Weekends at Disney Hollywood Studios. The period between mid-March and Easter week saw some of the largest crowds we have ever seen during that period. Presidents Week was busy as usual and January was similar to what we saw in 2015.
This week’s SATURDAY SIX takes a look at Six Things We Can’t Wait To See In 2017! 2016 was another unbelievable year in the theme park world, containing a wide mix of The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly. 2017 is already shaping up to be even more amazing. We have a new immersive land that promises to eclipse what Disneyland has done with Cars Land and Universal with Diagon Alley, a new President being added to the Hall of Presidents, and the first of its kind “water theme park.” If that doesn’t get your blood pumping about the next 12 months you may actually be a Host from Westworld, but for the rest of you, here’s some of the things we can’t wait to see, starting with…
# 6 – Pandora: The World of Avatar (Animal Kingdom)
Our long national nightmare is almost over. First announced on September 20, 2011, Pandora: The World of Avatar is nearing completion. Disney is saying “Summer 2017” for this new land, and is going on record saying it is the most immersive area in any theme park. Just from what we can see from what rises over the construction walls and the Blogger-In-The-Sky helicopter camera shots, the land does look STUNNING. The info we’ve been given on the bioluminescent plants in the area along with the experience in the Na’vi River Journey make both seem like “wow” moments. Last year, this fine blog did question what Pandora will be doing in the areas of food and merchandise, two extremely important factors a theme park land needs to deliver on to satisfy its Return On Investment (ROI). These are also two areas that Disney has not released much info on for Pandora. We all know that Avatar the movie – by far and away the most financially successful film in the history of cinema – never really figured out a way to get its fans to buy merchandise the way that Star Wars, Marvel, Harry Potter, and even Star Trek have.
Na’vi River Journey. (photo courtesy of Disney Parks and Resorts)
One of the most exciting things about Pandora is that it appears the land will be using projection mapping on its incredible rock work. This is something that has never been mentioned by Disney over the course of the Pandora project, but Johnny-on-the-spot bloggers have seen this technology being tested. Your Humble Author thinks projection mapping is one of the areas that Disney is heads and tails above anyone else in the industry right now. Whether on the castle in the Magic Kingdom, the Great Movie Ride facade in DHS, or the jaw dropping Tree of Life Awakens shows at Animal Kingdom, Disney’s use of projection mapping in the parks is amazing.
What looks to be testing for projecting mapping on the rock work in Pandora. (photo by @Blog_Mickey)
# 5 – Race Through New York Starring Jimmy Fallon (Universal Studios Florida)
Last year Universal fans lost Twister…Ride It Out! along with its Bill Paxton performance that was so mailed in he should have put a stamp on it. In Twister’s place will be the upcoming Race Through New York Starring Jimmy Fallon. One of the most underrated aspects of this change, is that the attraction takes place in the New York area of Universal Studios Florida, so it is a perfect fit. There are many who do not like Fallon’s broad sense of humor, but his Late Night TV dominance shows there is most likely a much larger group of people who love what he brings to the table (Your Humble Author included). While there have been some debates on how the “flying theater” ride mechanics will actually work, one thing we do know is that Universal is trying something truly different with how people experience the attraction’s queue.
Much like how Dumbo at the Magic Kingdom allows kids to play in a themed area until it is time to ride, Race Through New York looks to have things for adults to do while waiting. There will be a woman’s quartet singing songs, a chance to check out classic bits from from Fallon’s Tonight Show run (including Lip Sync Battle), write your own “Thank You Notes” at an interactive desk, and even get a meet and greet with the Tonight Show’s mascot, Hashtag the Panda.
Race Through New York Starring Jimmy Fallon is designed to get guests to laugh, and comedy is one thing Universal is very good at delivering on. From the criminally underrated Horror Make-Up Show to the non-stop gags in Springfield USA, be prepared to bring your smile when stepping into Universal Studios Florida.
Race Through New York starring Jimmy Fallon concept art.
Race Through New York Starring Jimmy Fallon in Universal Studios Florida. (photo by @bioreconstruct).
If you are a fan of the Magic Kingdom Welcome Show, 2017 will bring some new changes. Beginning January 9, Guests will be able to experience a new way to start their day.
Previously Guests would wait in front of the Main Street Train Station to catch the show. This would often cause backups though, especially on busier days.
To help alleviate some of the congestion, Guests will be allowed to enter Main Street, U.S.A. ahead of the park’s scheduled opening time. Guests will have the opportunity to savor the atmosphere, take photos, or grab a quick breakfast. Then at park opening, Guests will be able to experience a brand new Welcome Show that will officially open the park for the day on the Castle Forecourt Stage. During the new Welcome Show, a Royal Herald will appear to deliver a proclamation and welcome a few of your favorite Disney characters to the stage and officially opening the park for the day.
The final performance of the current Magic Kingdom Welcome Show will take place on January 8.
Are you as excited about the upcoming Epcot Festival of the Arts as I am? This brand new experience will take place for six weekends (Fridays through Mondays) from January 13 through February 20. The festival’s main goal is to combine visual, culinary and performing arts from around the world. This will be done with seminars, food booths, and Broadway-inspired performances.
First at the Epcot Festival of the Arts, Guests will be able to participate in unique workshops that allow your creative juices to flow. The Interactive Workshops are $39+tax each. The full list of classes include:
Weekend 1 – January 13 – 16
Friday, January 13 – 11:00 a.m. “Magical” Mixed Media Art, Rachelle Eason, BoiLedBooks
Create a magnificent mixed media piece using BoiLeD BooK paper and paint. We’ll finish it off with a mat and some sparkle for a magical masterpiece to display!