Walt Disney World (FL)

Disney Offers Annual Passholders Discounted Park Hopper Tickets

by on August 11, 2016

©Rikki Niblett

©Rikki Niblett

In an unexpected move, Disney is offering Walt Disney World Annual Passholders a fantastic deal on 1-Day Park Hopper Tickets for their friends and family.

Annual Passholders can purchase 1-Day Park Hopper tickets for $79 each for up to 6 Guests. The tickets give guests access to all four Walt Disney World parks, Disney’s Animal Kingdom, Magic Kingdom, Disney’s Hollywood Studios, and Epcot for one day.

Do keep in mind that the Annual Passholder must be present and have a valid pass when purchasing the tickets. These friends and family tickets may only be purchased at Walt Disney World theme park ticket windows, and they must be used on the day of purchase.

These discounted tickets are only available until September 30.

For more information, visit the Walt Disney World Annual Passholder website.

 

 

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Main Street Electrical Parade to End Its Run at Walt Disney World

by on August 11, 2016

©Rikki Niblett

©Rikki Niblett

Walt Disney World will officially say goodbye to the long-standing nighttime parade, the Main Street Electrical Parade. It will end its historic run at the Magic Kingdom on October 9 and then will make its way over to Disneyland Resort for a limited time encore run.

This is the quintessential Disney nighttime parade with a storied past. It began at Disneyland park in 1972 and has been going back and forth between different Disney Parks throughout the years. In 2010, the parade begin its most recent run at the Magic Kingdom.

So, Disneyland fans, what will this mean for Paint the Night? Well, it had already been announced that Paint the Night would be ending its run soon.  The parade will continue nightly performances, just prior to the Disneyland Forever fireworks, through September 5 as part of the Disneyland Resort Diamond Celebration. However, it isn’t going away completely at that point. The parade will be returning on select nights during the holiday season this year. There is currently no word yet on what exact dates Guests can expect to see Paint the Night throughout the rest of the year at Disneyland.

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6 acts to see at the 2016 Eat to the Beat series

by on August 9, 2016

©Rikki Niblett

©Rikki Niblett

One of the great bonuses of visiting Epcot during the International Food & Wine Festival is the opportunity to see live music during the Eat to the Beat series. In the past, the concert series may have been dismissed for its reliance on one-song wonders or nostalgia acts well past their prime. But I think the people who book this festival have stepped up their game, and the 2016 lineup has some pretty amazing musicians, including many playing Epcot for the first time.

Here are my picks for the artists who would be well worth a special trip to see this fall. They’re not necessarily the most popular, but rather the most interesting for music fans.

Los Lobos, Sept. 29-30

Hands down, the finest group that will be playing the festival, and the one that probably best captures the international flavor of World Showcase. It surely will be magical to listen to these consummate musicians playing their mix of rock and blues interpreted through traditional Mexican music, as the pyramid of Epcot’s Mexico pavilion sits in the distance.

The great thing about Los Lobos is that in the four decades they’ve been together, with a lineup that has been mostly unchanged, they’ve become one of the most dynamic and interesting live bands touring today. In 2015, they were nominated for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. If there’s any justice, they won’t have a long wait to be inducted.

After years of honing their craft at weddings and dances around their East Los Angeles home, they broke through with 1984’s “How Will The Wolf Survive?” Never a band to stand still, they followed their biggest hit, the title track to the soundtrack of “La Bamba,” with an album of traditional Mexican folk songs. In 1992, they released their experimental masterpiece, “Kiko.” Their music continues to evolve with their most recent record, “Gates of Gold,” one of my favorites of 2015. If you want a good flavor of what Los Lobos is about, here’s a performance of the “Gates of Gold” track “Poquito para aqui.”

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New Restaurants Added to Tables in Wonderland Program

by on August 8, 2016

©Disney

©Disney

Do you have a Tables in Wonderland card? Then I bring good news! Four new dining establishments have been added to the special dining program. Those restaurants are:

  • Jungle Cruise Skipper Canteen at Magic Kingdom
  • Tiffins and the Nomad Lounge at Disney’s Animal Kingdom
  • Jock Lindsay’s Hangar Bar at Disney Springs

So, what is the Tables in Wonderland program?  It is an exclusive for Disney Vacation Members, Florida Residents and Annual Passholders. Membership in Tables in Wonderland includes a 20 percent discount on all food and beverage at participating Walt Disney World table-service restaurants and lounges. Guests also receive complimentary valet parking for dining purposes.

Tables in Wonderland does come at an extra cost. It costs $175 for Florida Residents and $150 for Walt Disney World Annual Passholders and Disney Vacation Club Members. To purchase a membership, you should visit any Guest Relations kiosk located one of the four Theme Parks or at Disney Springs.

For more information about Tables in Wonderland, make sure to check out their website.

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Better DHS FastPass+ Choice: Toy Story Mania or Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster?

by on August 8, 2016

Toy Story Mania wait times have dropped around 40% since its third ride track opened in late May – from around 83 minutes to around 51 minutes so far this summer. That drop means that Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster has the longest average wait of any ride in the park, at around 68 minutes.

That leads to an interesting question: Is Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster a better Tier 1 FastPass+ choice than Toy Story Mania?

The answer is “probably not.” But the difference  is so small that you’re unlikely to notice the difference. So assuming your family can ride them, either Toy Story or Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster is a good choice for your Tier 1 FastPass+ at Hollywood Studios.

Read on for the details of how we got to this result.

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Selecting an Epcot Resort

by on August 8, 2016

View of the Epcot Resort Area

View of the Epcot Resort Area

With the recent release of the 2016 Epcot Food and Wine Festival menus, I can’t help but think about my upcoming trip. The 60 day FastPass+ window is approaching quickly, and as an avid proponent of planning ahead, I’m ashamed to admit that I still haven’t fully decided on a hotel!

It’s one of the biggest dilemmas I face when planning any trip to Walt Disney World. It’s especially hard for me during the fall when visiting Epcot’s World Showcase is top priority thanks to the mouthwatering samplings at Food and Wine Festival. I’ve narrowed it down to the Epcot resort area to make walking to Epcot a breeze, but that still leaves me with five wonderful choices – Beach Club, Boardwalk Inn, Dolphin, Swan, and Yacht Club.

Not one to take the resort decision lightly, I’ve carefully mapped out a comparison to help me (and hopefully some of you) pick the right Epcot resort for any Walt Disney World vacation.

Theming

All five resorts fall into the deluxe category at Disney, and with that designation comes elaborate theming. However, because Swan and Dolphin are the only two that are not owned by Disney, some may find them to be lacking that special Disney touch.

  • Beach Club – It’s a New England-style resort hotel that is painted blue with white trim and adorned with typical beach décor. Think seashells and sand dollars.
  • Boardwalk Inn – Modeled after a turn-of-the-century Atlantic coast boardwalk, the rooms actually sit behind a façade of neon lighted shops and restaurants along a wooden boardwalk.
  • Dolphin – Words escape me when it comes to the theming of both the Swan and Dolphin, and if you’ve ever seen it for yourself, you can probably understand. Disney describes it as “deluxe accommodations inspired by Florida itself, Walt Disney World Dolphin Hotel juxtaposes modern architectural silhouettes alongside Renaissance flourishes—most notably, the twin stylized dolphin statues gracing its rooftop.” Now, I’m not sure what they think a dolphin is, but based on their designs, I would say that a dolphin is some combination between a goldfish and carp.
  • Swan – Though very similar the Dolphin in theme and design, the Swan is outfitted with two Swans atop the building instead. At least these two actually resemble swans.

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Walt Disney World Crowd Calendar Report – July 24 to 30, 2016

by on August 7, 2016

Disney World Crowd Calendar

How Crowded Was Walt Disney World Last Week?

Sunday through Tuesday last week, crowds we observed were within one index level of what the Walt Disney World Crowd Calendar predicted while later in the week crowds drifted a little further away from what we expected. Crowds were at least a point busier last year during the equivalent week.

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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Night of Joy Schedule of Events for 2016

by on August 5, 2016

©Disney

©Disney

It is almost time for Night of Joy, the Christian music festival that occurs at Walt Disney World each September. This year, the popular event will take place at the ESPN Wide World of Sports complex for the first time ever on Friday, September 9 and Saturday, September 10.

Due to the new location, the event will be expanded for 2016. Guests will have more options than ever with two nights of music, ample seating at indoor and outdoor venues, amazing performances on multiple stages, including Champion Stadium, and opportunities for fellowship and fun.

This year’s Christian artist lineup features 18 great artists. The lineup for each evening is as follows:

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Limited Time Character Experience with Memory Maker

by on August 5, 2016

Belle - Memory Maker

©Disney

If you have Memory Maker for your Walt Disney World vacation this month, you’ll be able to soon take part in a limited time character meet and greet experience test.

From August 7-31, Guests who visit the Magic Kingdom who have purchased Memory Maker, Memory Maker One Day, or have an Annual Pass with complimentary Disney PhotoPass available, will be able to take advantage of a special character experience with Belle in her formal gown. This meet and greet experience will occur at the Heritage House in Liberty Square from 11:00 a.m. until 5:30 p.m.

Only one person in your party needs to have purchased Memory Maker in order for your entire group to take part in this opportunity.

This seems like a great way to meet one of your favorite Disney Princesses with minimal wait!

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Blaze Pizza Opens at Disney Springs

by on August 5, 2016

©Rikki Niblett

©Rikki Niblett

Today, the newest restaurant opens at Disney Springs. Blaze Pizza, the counter service location that serves artisanal pizzas cooked in a blazing hot oven in just 180 seconds, invites Guests to create their own pizzas. The focus at Blaze is all on being an individual.

The Disney Springs location is themed as the town’s local sawmill. You will see touches indicating this throughout the restaurant including a lathe above the menu board and touches of Cypress trees that have been used in decoration of the dining establishment.

At Blaze, you get to build your pizza your way. Here are the toppings you can choose from to make your pie:

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