Walt Disney World (FL)

Celebrate New Year’s Eve at the Walt Disney World Resort

by on December 29, 2016

©Disney

It’s the most hectic time of the year! Walt Disney World is getting ready to celebrate saying goodbye to 2016 and hello to 2017 in a way only the resort knows how to…with an explosion of fireworks!

At Epcot, Guests will be able to enjoy two different showings of Illuminations: Reflections of Earth. At 6:00 p.m., you’ll be able to catch the show with the beautiful and touching holiday tag. Then, beginning at 11:40 p.m., get ready to usher in 2017 with a show that’s unlike any other.

In addition, Epcot will feature DJs in both Future World and World Showcase. They will be found from 7:00 p.m. until 1:00 a.m. at the following locations:

  • the Future World Fountain Stage
  • China – flame effects and smoke-billowing dragon
  • United Kingdom – British Invasion
  • Italy – Euro-pop and lasers
  • Japan – “Silent Groove” party
  • America Adventure – America Gardens Theatre Stage, joined by a Latin band

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How To Survive New Year’s Eve at Epcot (and Magic Kingdom)

by on December 27, 2016

Epcot’s New Year’s Eve fireworks are unlike any other show at Walt Disney World.

So you’re thinking about doing New Year’s Eve at Disney? Most people would think that’s ridiculous given the massive crowds, but after a few years of experience under my belt doing this very thing, I’m here to tell you, it can be a really fun day in Walt Disney World. Below, I’ll outline a few of my hard-learned secrets to a successful Epcot New Year’s Eve along with a few crowd-sourced tips from my colleagues here at TouringPlans for handling Magic Kingdom, as well.

Julia and Dani have already given some great tips on staying sane during phase closures and planning for crowds at Universal, and many of these rules also apply here, too. Though Epcot does not normally phase-close on New Year’s Eve, the same tips work for surviving the busiest days in any theme park. Dani’s tips about setting up Touring Plans ahead of time are also super helpful for making the most of your theme park visits during the last few weeks of the year.

Why Not Magic Kingdom on New Year’s Eve?

Despite the crowds, New Year’s Eve is a fun day, unlike any other you’ve spent in a park. One of the toughest parts of the day, though, can be actually getting in to a park. As Julia explained, phased closures are very common for this time of year, particularly at Magic Kingdom. This means that, depending on your ticket type and whether you have an existing dining reservation, you may not be able to enter or even hop on transportation to your chosen park.

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Boxing Day Special – Everything Free at Disney World

by on December 26, 2016

Here’s some holiday leftovers for you today – a favorite topic from earlier this year, Free Disney stuff you can get during your vacation. 

Free and Disney are not words that you typically think of as belonging in the same sentence, but there are indeed a number of items and experiences, both large and small, that can be had for free during your Disney World vacation. Here’s a comprehensive list of everything we could find that you can get free at Walt Disney World (although park admission is required for some). Happy savings!

FOOD and DRINK

  • Baked goods or candy samples. The Main Street Confectionery often has cast member walking around with a tray full of samples for guest to try. I’ve tasted Krispie treats, cookies, bits of cake, and even cotton candy. Plus, there is almost always a tray of fudge samples sitting on top of the main display case. You won’t be able to fill up here like you might at your local Costco, but if you’re looking for just a bit of sweet to satisfy your palate after your meal, the Confectionery is the place for you.
Sample treats at the Magic Kingdom Confectionary

Sample treats at the Magic Kingdom Confectionary

  • Soda. Stop by Club Cool at Epcot and drink your fill of eight flavors of Coke products from around the world. These range from the bubblegum sweet Peruvian Inca Kola to the, in my opinion, totally yummy, Beverly from Italy. The Club Cool drink stations are supplied with tasting-size cups, but you’re welcome to stay and taste as much as you want for as long as you want.
  • Water. The water bottles sold throughout the parks cost $2.50 (or more) each. If you want to hydrate for free, simply walk up to any counter service restaurant and ask for a cup of ice water. They’ll hand it over at no charge. Add a lid and a straw to your cup, and you’ve got almost the same level of portability as a bottle.
  • Ice. When answering questions for the Walt Disney World Moms Panel, I have often seen questions from international guests asking if ice is available at the Disney hotels and how much it costs. They can rest assured that there are free ice machines at all the Walt Disney World resorts.
  • Meals for infants and toddlers. Children under the age of three will not be charged for food at Disney’s buffet and family-style table service restaurants when dining with their families.
  • Dining. Disney often uses free dining plan offers as lure to entice guests to visit during historically low-crowd times. If this year follows the typical pattern, it will be fairly easy to travel to Walt Disney World and receive free dining from mid-August through early October. However, there is a definite caveat emptor with this. Depending on your eating habits and where you stay, free dining might end up costing you. Tom Bricker’s wrote an excellent analysis of whether free dining really makes sense. The numbers are a bit dated now, but the principal still applies.

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Walt Disney World Holiday News and Updates

by on December 22, 2016

Walt Disney World Christmas

©Rikki Niblett

The busy holiday season is coming up this weekend at Walt Disney World and because of that, here are a few things you should keep in mind if you are planning on visiting the theme parks to celebrate.

First, at the Magic Kingdom, Guests will be able to experience many of the events that typically occur during Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party. Here is the schedule of events:

December 23-28

  • Voiceplay (musical group) – 3:10 p.m., 4:10 p.m., 5:15 p.m. and 6:00 p.m.

December 23-29

  • Holiday Wishes – 9:00 p.m.
  • Mickey’s Most Merriest Celebration (Cinderella Castle Forecourt Stage) – 7:15 p.m., 8:15 p.m., 10:15 p.m. and 11:15 p.m.
  • Move It! Shake It! Dance & Play It! Street Party – 1:45 p.m. and 5:15 p.m.

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The Best of the Best Week Ever 2016

by on December 22, 2016

It seems 2016 is an unforgettable year. Events and memories that happened this year are unlike previous years. Yet each week, we the Best Week Ever team found ways to make the most of it. Each week we aim to share with you the moments that make being in the theme parks so enjoyable and wonderful. Perhaps this year, more than ever, it became increasingly important to make our visits the best week ever. We are grateful for the time we spent in the parks this year and we want to share with you our favorite moments of Best Week Ever 2016. You’ll hear from all three of us as we each select three of our favorite Best Week Ever posts from this year.

Dani’s favorite Best Week Ever posts

This year I focused on growth and dealing with fear. Theme parks offer us entertainment and escapism, but they can also offer teaching moments. My desire to deal with and overcome fear started as a spark at the end of 2015, but grew into a warm, bright flame in 2016. By pushing myself to go on rides and try experiences I’d otherwise avoid, I’ve learned that fear never actually goes away. Instead we can accept it, acknowledge it, and ultimately realize most things are never as bad as we imagine them to be. And by opening myself up to new experiences I gained a new level of appreciation for my hometown, Orlando, and all that the theme parks offer.

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Walt Disney World Annual Passholders Get Special Entrances This Holiday Season

by on December 20, 2016

©Rikki Niblett

To celebrate their Annual Passholders this holiday season, Walt Disney World Annual Passholders will be able to enjoy easy access to the parks with special Passholder lines found at the main entrance of all four Walt Disney World theme parks –  Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Disney’s Animal Kingdom and Disney’s Hollywood Studios.

This entrance will be found at the main entrance of each of the four theme parks, just after the security stations. Guests looking to utilize this perk will see signs up that will indicate which lanes should be used by Passholders. This should hopefully allow for an expedited experience at the tap-styles and entering the park.

According to WESH, this perk will begin on December 21 and will currently last through the month of January.

 

 

 

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TouringPlansTV – Part 2 Review: Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Hotels + Video

by on December 20, 2016

Time for my Part 2 Review!

To check out the dining options, recreation and amenities at the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin hotels, click below.

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Star Wars Guided Tours Now Available to Book

by on December 20, 2016

Star Wars Guided Tours Available

©Disney

A few weeks ago, during the special Rogue One event at Epcot where Disney lit up Spaceship Earth like the Death Star, it was announced that a few new Star Wars-related activities would be introduced for the Walt Disney World Resort. One of those events was the all new Star Wars Guided Tour. For those who were looking to book this seven hour, all-access tour that allows you to be able to enjoy the full Force of Star Wars at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, you can now do so!

During the tour, Guests will be able to have VIP access to all things Star Wars at the theme park, courtesy of a Star Wars knowledgeable tour guide. Experiences will include:

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January in Walt Disney World: A Primer

by on December 20, 2016

TouringPlans logoAre you planning or considering a trip to Walt Disney World in January?  It’s not on a lot of traveler’s radar because people are often wrapping up other holiday vacations and kids are just getting back to school.  If you can swing it, however, the reality is that January can be one of the best times to visit Walt Disney World! Gone is the oppressive heat of the summer, depending upon when you go, you can encounter some of the lightest crowds of the year, and the experience delivers the magic you can expect any other time of the year.  So, should you go?  Read on to find out about the pros and cons of a January trip! 

Mild (if unpredictable) Weather

 

One of the most frequent questions I get about January travel to Walt Disney World is about the weather — what to expect, what to pack, etc. The good news is that the weather tends to be pretty mild this time of year, and it’s honestly one of the best reasons to plan a trip in January. Historically, the average highs during this time of year are around 70° F, with lows around 50° F. Also of note: the 3 o’clock rain showers that are common during the summer months are not really part of the January experience — it can rain, but January is one of the drier months, and it’s not like you expect it to rain, like you do during other times of the year. 

 

Accuweather's January Forecast 2017

Accuweather’s current guesses for part of January 2017 in Orlando

 

The bad news, however, is that there can be wild variation in the weather during the month of January.  You might experience weather that is uncomfortably hot, or uncomfortably cold, and you might even experience both on back to back days.  I can remember on one of my first January trips heading to what was then Downtown Disney wearing shorts, but by midday, it was cold enough that people were running around in hats and gloves.  Part of that, of course, is the comically panicked reaction that Floridians have to temperatures that start with a “5,” but it was still a significant temperature swing in just a couple of hours, and it left me pretty uncomfortable. Lesson learned.   

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Gifts for a Theme Park Vacationer

by on December 19, 2016

Christmas Minnie Ears

If you’re searching for a last-minute holiday gift or a little something special to add to your own holiday wish list, TouringPlans is here to help! I compiled a list of what I think are some of the best gifts for those planning to visit the parks soon. And while holidays present the perfect gifting opportunity, most of these will work year-round for other celebrations like birthdays or anniversaries too.

Accessories for a Minion fan

Wearable Gifts – For a truly impressive gift, put your knowledge of their favorite character, attraction, or movie to good use. From custom t-shirts and mouse ears to lanyards and pins, there is an endless supply of fun things they can wear to the parks. Even better, there is an endless supply of online or local stores that sell these too, so finding something perfect while staying on budget shouldn’t be too hard.

Disney themed day-bags

Gear – There are certain items that almost every theme park vacationer likes to pack: poncho, day bag for the park, refillable water bottle, portable phone charger, hand sanitizer, and so on. Other items, like a toiletries bag, suitcase, or travel friendly snacks, are great ideas for travelers in general. Depending on the budget, you could pick just one item or put them together into a gift basket that will please any theme park vacationer.

Photo Package – Both Disney and Universal offer photo packages to capture those special vacation memories. Plenty of vacationers on tight budgets question whether the package is worth it, but receiving it as a gift can alleviate those worries. The price is discounted when purchased in advance, and they receive photo memories to cherish for years to come. It’s a definite win-win.

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