Walt Disney World (FL)

Current Walt Disney World Disney Discounts

by on June 22, 2015

TouringPlans logoHere are your current discounts as of June 22. There have been no Walt Disney World discounts added since May (fine print follows).

Florida Resident – now through July 2 and July 6 to August 13. Selected resorts only.

Annual Passholder – now through August 10. Selected resorts only.

Free Dining – for arrivals August 28 to October 2, October 25 to 31, November 8 to 19, December 15 to 21 – minimum 3 night stay required for this package. Selected resorts only.

Room Only Discounts – now through October 3. Selected resorts only.

Magic Together/Magic for the Whole Family/Summer and Late Summer Preschool – packages based on families of 3 or 4 staying at All Star Resorts. Ask your travel agent for details. Now to September 10.

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2016 Disney Dining Plan Prices

by on June 22, 2015

Disney Dining PlanFirst, Rikki let us know the changes coming to the very popular Disney Dining Plans for 2016. Now that 2016 package terms have been released, it looks like we have prices too. There are small increases coming in pricing for guests in 2016.

Note: Disney doesn’t actually announce pricing. This was figured using a January 1, 2016, booking at Pop Century and a calculator.

2016 Disney Dining Plan Pricing

  • Quick Service $42.77/night, child 3-9 $17.54 – was $41.99 and $16.03
  • Regular plan $61.82,  child $20.98 – was $60.64 and $19.23
  • Deluxe Plan $111.73, child $32.56 – was $109.53 and $29.86

All prices include tax.

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Changes to 2016 Walt Disney World Magic Your Way Packages

by on June 22, 2015

magicyourwayDisney has shared details with travel agents for 2016 Magic Your Way packages. Magic Your Way is any package that includes a room at a Disney-owned and operated resort, the Swan or Dolphin, a Good Neighbor hotel, or a Disney Springs area hotel; and park admission. Packages can be booked through your travel agent or the Walt Disney Travel Company. This also includes all dining plans, which have their own extras. Thank you to Sue Pisaturo at Small World Vacations for the heads up.

Let’s start with the good news: The vouchers for mini-golf have been increased from 2 per room to 4 per room, and are good for play before 4PM at Fantasia Gardens and Winter-Summerland. If you’re an Annual Passholder, remember you get a discount on admission already and it’s good all day and night. Also, under the category of things that make you scratch your head, MYW packages now include 4 vouchers for one day admission at ESPN Wide World of Sports. There’s really not much to do there if you’re not participating in a sporting event. If you have made the trip out, let me know in the comments. Every time I go out there to see what’s up, there’s nothing going on. If your tickets include the Water Park Fun and More option, you already have the option for ESPN WWoS admission, so there’s no real benefit for you unless you’re using all your entitlements for water parks, Oak Trail golf, or DisneyQuest (while it lasts, see below) already and somehow still have time to visit Wide World of Sports too.

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Conquering the Magic Kingdom Mountains in an Hour

by on June 22, 2015

Photo courtesy of WDWnews.com

Photo courtesy of WDWnews.com

While it’s true that the Magic Kingdom is home to a number of classic family attractions, such as “it’s a small world” and the Jungle Cruise, the park is also home to a number of thrill rides promising speed, drops, and screams!

It seems, however, that at the Magic Kingdom there is a rule that the park’s thrill rides must be delivered in the form of mountains. Attractions such as Splash Mountain and Space Mountain are some of the park’s most popular and both are known to flood their queues with guests and evaporate those FastPass+ reservations. This causes guests like myself to plan and strategize on how to get that adrenaline fix without wasting valuable park time in line.

Usually I trust FastPass+ or a Magic Kingdom Touring Plan to get me on these mountain-shaped attractions without suffering long waits, but during my last trip I had a crazy thought — Can you conquer the Magic Kingdom Mountains in an hour? Feeling confident, as well as caffeinated, I decided to find out.

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2015 Frozen Summer Fun Starts at Disney’s Hollywood Studios

by on June 19, 2015

2015 Frozen Summer Fun

Chill out with Olaf and friends during the 2015 Frozen Summer Fun at Disney’s Hollywood Studios (photos and video by Seth Kubersky)

Frozen first hit movie theaters in the fall of 2013, but legions of fans (and Disney’s entertainment department) don’t seem ready to “Let It Go” anytime soon, as we enter a second annual season of Frozen Summer Fun at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. We were on hand for the the first day of festivities, which will celebrate the CGI snow princess and pals every day through September 7.

Frozen Royal Welcome Parade

The first Frozen Summer Fun attraction I attended was the new Frozen Royal Welcome, which runs twice a day (currently 10:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m.). It isn’t quite a full fledged parade on the scale of Paint the Night, but boasts far better production values than the typical Hollywood Studios motorcade we’re used to seeing at special events.

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Seth Kubersky’s Best Week Ever June 18, 2015: A Tale of Two Studios

by on June 18, 2015

Universal Studios Florida

Take a Best Week Ever tour of Orlando’s two Studios theme parks. (Photos by Seth Kubersky)

Back to life, back to humidity…

Barely a week ago I was basking in the temperate glow of the Happiest Place on Earth, and now I’m once again enveloped in Orlando’s hot, moist embrace. What better way to celebrate my homecoming than with a visit to two of Orlando’s favorite theme parks with “Studios” in the name? (Okay, they’re also the only two.)

We’ll start with some random observations from around Universal Studios Florida, and then take a ride down I-4 to Disney’s Hollywood Studios on the first day of Frozen Summer Fun.

Universal Studios Florida

The day I picked to visit Universal Studios Florida was predicted to be a 7 on our crowd calendar, but actually came in at only a 4 (part of a trend of lower actuals at Universal Orlando last week). Even so, there was a healthy flow of visitors entering the resort as I arrived in late morning.

I missed Universal Studios Florida’s actual 25th anniversary on June 7th because I was busy visiting Universal Studios Hollywood, but I still picked up a couple of these commemorative 2-Park Guide Maps for my collection. You can snag one for yourself at either Universal Orlando park through June 20th.

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Disney World Crowd Calendar Report – June 7 to 13, 2015

by on June 17, 2015

Wait times at Walt Disney World last week stayed very close to the levels predicted by the Disney World Crowd Calendar, especially at Magic Kingdom. Last week was the first week in a while where all seven days saw crowd levels in the upper section of our scale, a sign that summer crowds are beginning. Disney Hollywood Studios continues to stand out as a park going through some crowd flow changes. Wait times there are spiking higher than history would suggest for this time of year which is likely due to the elimination of some high capacity attractions like American Idol Experience and Backlot Tour. With so few headliner attractions remaining, wait times are going up – especially when one of them breaks down as if often the case with Tower of Terror and Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster.

Let’s look at how the crowd levels stacked up each day last week on the Disney World Crowd Calendar Report:

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Walt Disney World Newsworthy Notes – 6/17/15

by on June 17, 2015

Welcome back to another edition of Walt Disney World Newsworthy Notes! The place for all your small, yet important Disney news! It has been a while again since I’ve had news like this to report, but the desk is full of small pieces of paper again, so I figured it was about time to clean off the desk and get the news to you! So, let’s get right to the good stuff!

  • Attention those planning 2016 Walt Disney World vacations! 2016 WDW vacation packages will be released on June 22.
  • Splash Mountain at the Magic Kingdom is now open during evening Extra Magic Hours.
  • Beginning on July 3, Tony’s Town Square Restaurant will serve guests continuously from 11:00 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. as opposed to offering separate lunch and dinner meal periods. The menu will continue to feature Italian specialties including pizza, pasta, and salad.
  • Beginning this week, the bats on Maharajah Jungle Trek at Disney’s Animal Kingdom will be offstage for anywhere from 4-6 weeks while the exhibit is refurbished. During the refurbishment, the area will be inaccessible to guests. The Wilderness Explorers bat badge will continue to be distributed in the breezeway outside the exhibit.
  • The Wave…of American Flavors at Disney’s Contemporary Resort has new breakfast and lunch hours. The breakfast buffet and a la carte will run from 7:30 a.m. until 11:00 a.m.  The breakfast buffet only will be available from 11:00 a.m. until 11:45 a.m. Finally, lunch begins at 12:00 p.m.
  • At Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort, beginning on July 5, the fitness center, salon and Casitas leisure pool will be closed for maintenance.  During this time, guests can visit the feature pool and the other two leisure pools at the resort. Additionally while the work is being completed, a temporary fitness center will be set up in the Casitas area. This refurbishment work is expected to last until October 12.
  • Guests staying at Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort will be able to experience poolside service from 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. daily at the Lava Pool Deck and beach.  Guests can choose to enjoy cocktails, flatbreads, sandwiches, kid’s meals, desserts and more delivered right to their spot in the sand.

That’s it for this edition…thoughts?

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Walt Disney World Speedway Closing for Parking Lot Expansion

by on June 16, 2015

On the race track at the Richard Petty Driving Experience ©Rikki Niblett

On the race track at the Richard Petty Driving Experience ©Rikki Niblett

Back in February, we told you about the fact that the Richard Petty Driving Experience would be closing this summer. Well, according to the Orlando Sentinel, now we officially know why! The Walt Disney World Speedway will be closing for…more Magic Kingdom parking.

Disney has filed plans with Reedy Creek about demolishing the Speedway to make room for this expansion of the most popular theme park’s parking lot. At the time of the announced closure of Richard Petty’s Driving Experience, Disney claimed that they would be closing the area due to transportation improvements, so the news that the area will turned into more parking spaces for guests doesn’t come as much of a surprise.

The Richard Petty Driving Experience has been a unique activity for many to participate in. For those who are huge NASCAR fanatics, those who liked fast and exotic cars, and those junior riders who felt the need for speed, this was a great way to get a feel of being out on a true course.

After a deadly accident that occurred a few months ago, the Exotic Car Experience has been tabled, however, the regular Richard Petty Driving Experience and the Piston Cup Junior Ride Along program have continued. The last day for guests to participate in either of those two activities is August 9.

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SATURDAY SIX: The Six Most Interesting, Most Unusual, and Strangest Souvenirs in EPCOT’s World Showcase

by on June 13, 2015

This week’s SATURDAY SIX takes a look at the Six Most Interesting, Most Unusual, and Strangest Souvenirs in Epcot’s World Showcase. After last week’s article on the Six Best Snacks in World Showcase, we’re going stay in the same area and look at another underrated part of Epcot; all the unique gift shops. This is the one theme park in Orlando, if not the world, where you will not find the same old stuff. Outside of the Norway Pavilion, it’s pretty much impossible to find any Frozen merchandise and you will have to go to Future World if you want the Disney Parks merchandise you will usually see at the other parks, Disney resorts, or Disney Springs. It’s a breath of fresh air and there are so many incredible items throughout World Showcase. However today we are not going to look at those. Instead we are going to look in the nooks and crannies and find the six most interesting, unusual, and strangest items starting with….

# 6 – Panda Sitting On a Toilet (China Pavilion)

While World Showcase is filled my with great shopping experiences, by far and away my favorite area to browse is at the Yong Feng Shangdian Department Store in the China Pavilion. It is a gigantic store packed with some of the coolest and most unusual in all of WDW. Wall of actual swords? CHECK. Intricately designed wooden ships? CHECK. Jade sculptures? Gorgeous Chinese dresses? Paper fans and chop sticks? All here. This is a store you could spend the better part of an hour just walking through and checking everything out. It also may contain the most amount of panda related items in Florida. Panda stuffed animals, keychains, coffee mugs, earmuffs… you name it, this store has it. The greatest of all panda items is this Panda Siting on a Toilet toy. Who knows why it could possibly exist, but aren’t you glad it does?

EPCOTSTRANGE_PandaToilet

Panda has to be reading a collection of the SATURDAY SIX, right? Only thing that makes sense.

EPCOTSTRANGE_pandatoilet2

Wait a second. SOLAR POWERED?! Now I’m going to have to buy this to see exactly what it does. Will report back Dear Readers.

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