Walt Disney World (FL)

Alice Through The Looking Glass Sneak Preview to Occur at Disney Parks

by on April 19, 2016

©Disney

©Disney

You won’t want to be late! There’s a great new sequel to Alice in Wonderland called Alice Through the Looking Glass coming to theaters soon. To get you ready for the upcoming film, you’ll soon be able to catch a sneak preview of the movie at both Disney California Adventure and Disney’s Hollywood Studios.

Beginning May 6, for a limited time, you’ll be able to catch a preview of the upcoming film at the theater at the end of One Man’s Dream at Disney’s Hollywood Studios and for those Guests who will be visiting the west coast, they will be able to catch the 3D preview at Disney California Adventure in the Sunset Showcase Theater (formerly Crown Jewel Theater) with special in-theater effects. This sneak preview of Alice Through the Looking Glass will last for 10 minutes from May 6 through June 12.

The film, Alice Through the Looking Glass, returns Alice to the whimsical world of Underland where she travels back in time to save the Mad Hatter.

Time is of the essence! You won’t want to miss this preview before the clock runs out!

Are you anxious to catch Alice Through the Looking Glass which debuts in theaters on May 27?

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Trivia Tuesday: Walt Disney World Moderate Resorts + Video

by on April 19, 2016

Pool (5)Welcome back to Trivia Tuesday!

Now that I’m back from maternity leave, I’m geared up with all new videos for you.

Starting things off, I’m spilling the beans on the Moderate Resorts at Walt Disney World.

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Six Things To Expect on Your First One-Day Trip to Walt Disney World

by on April 19, 2016

If you’ve been to Walt Disney World one time or fifty times, chances are your trips have logistically all taken on a similar form. A flight or long car ride into the Orlando area, maybe a taxi, shuttle, or Magical Express ride to Walt Disney World property if you flew, and then getting around property using Disney’s occasionally efficient system of buses, ferry boats, and monorails. Sure there might have been some experiments with a rental car thrown in to facilitate a visit to Harry Potter and his friends at Universal, the beach, or to watch cars drive in circles for hours at Daytona…but odds are that most of your travel to and around Walt Disney World has been contained to the modes mentioned.

Should the day come when you find yourself in the state of Florida for some other reason, be it work or play, and Mickey’s gravitational pull proves too much to bear, you may find yourself deciding to drive over to a Walt Disney World theme park for the day, like it were Six Flags or something. There are facets of this experience that will be quite different and maybe even a little jarring to a Walt Disney World vacation vet.

(Let’s stop for a minute to mention people who live in Central Florida and visit Walt Disney World exclusively as a local day guest: 1. We are all a little jealous of you, and 2. You probably can expand on every single point I make in this article, so please join us in the comments. Oh yeah, and 3. We’re really really jealous, like for real.)

So here are six things that you can expect as a Walt Disney World vet if you are taking a one-day trip for the first time:

Interstate 4 Overhead Signs

Like seeing these mundane road signs…

Disney Traffic Sign

…and these slightly more whimsical ones!

1.DRIVING AROUND WALT DISNEY WORLD IS DIFFERENT THAN RIDING IN A BUS

You know how you ride around Walt Disney World property and see the purple and red road signs? You think to yourself that they are a cool feature of property and give you that “I’m somewhere different from the real world” feeling. Those are an absolutely necessary Godsend if you are actually driving a vehicle throughout property…and on first inspection they might make no sense. You may have the layout of property etched on your brain, so it makes no sense to you when you see that Epcot, Animal Kingdom, and Wide World of Sports are in one direction while Disney’s Hollywood Studios and the Epcot Resorts are in the opposite direction.

But you need to remember that these are road signs, they are helping you take roads in the right direction. They are not pointing to spots on property. It may sound crazy but on my first time driving around property, I found myself second guessing the road signs as if I somehow knew more about where things were at Disney World than the urban planners did. Speaking of things you’ll learn while behind the wheel…

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Why Make A Disney World Hotel Room Request?

by on April 18, 2016

For about a year now, Touring Plans has offered an nifty feature – automatic room requests. Just tell us what type of room you want, and we’ll contact your Disney World hotel for you to make the request. While request fulfillment is not guaranteed, we’ve had an amazing success rate at getting users the room location they want at WDW hotels.

So, since it’s easy and it works, everyone should make a room request, right? Well, as with most things Disney, the answer is, “It depends.”

A view like this might be great. Or it might not, if noisy kids are playing on the field.

A view like this might be great. Or it might not, if noisy kids are playing on the field.

Personally, I rarely make a room request. As a researcher of all things Disney, I like the experience of being placed in unfamiliar resort locations. I like seeing what the “bad” rooms are really like. To me, as a frequent short stay solo visitor, I have rarely encountered a room that made a significant negative impact on me. But if you’re an infrequent Disney visitor on site for an extended stay, your room location might have an outsized influence on your vacation enjoyment.

Here are some things to think about as you decide whether to submit a room request for your Disney World hotel stay.

How large is my hotel?

There is a wide variation in the physical footprint of the Disney World hotels. If you’re staying at the Contemporary, the very farthest Garden Wing room is just .16 miles from food at the main building, as the crow flies. If you’re bunking at the Caribbean Beach resort, the distance from the farthest room to food at the main building is about .47 miles as the crow flies, and unless you’re sporting a jetpack, your actual walking distance will be longer still.

A resort hike of any distance can seem too long if you’ve been on your feet in the parks for the past 10 hours. Compound that with 90+ degree temperatures when you’re carrying a 30 pound preschooler and you’ll understand that a third of a mile can be a substantial undertaking.

The larger the hotel, the more likely it is that you’ll want to make a room request.

No amount of room requesting will make the Princess Rooms at Port Orleans closer to the main entrance.

No amount of room requesting will make the Princess Rooms at Port Orleans closer to the main building.

What have I paid for?

Disney likes to find ways to charge a bit extra for little perks like a better view or shorter walk. For example at Disney’s Pop Century resort, a hotel with a relatively uncomplicated price structure, you can reserve a “standard” room, a “standard pool view” room, a “preferred” room, or a “preferred pool view” room, all offered at different price points. (You can see which rooms are which using our Room Finder Tool.)

Understand that making a request for a room type you haven’t paid for is likely to result in frustration. However, even within a particular category, there may be better or worse locations.

Also note that there may be few options with some categories of specialty rooms. For example, the Pirate themed rooms at Caribbean Beach are only located in the cluster of buildings most distant from the food court. No amount of requesting a Pirate room near the main reception center will make that happen.

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SATURDAY SIX Looks at STAR WARS in Walt Disney World

by on April 16, 2016

This week’s SATURDAY SIX looks at STAR WARS in Walt Disney World. While those of us in Florida may be mourning the loss of the annual Star Wars Weekends event at DHS, fans of Star Wars have a lot to be thankful for at Walt Disney World. Not only do we have Star Wars Land coming, but while we’re waiting for that to open a whole bunch of great attractions, events, and stores have opened to help satisfy our craving for anything and everything Star Wars. It’s a good thing too, because The Force Awakens has washed away the bad taste of the prequels and has the entire world back in the grip of Star Wars mania. Today we’re going to set our sights on our favorite Star Wars offerings in Orlando just like Luke used to bullseye womp rats back on Tatooine. So sit back, never tell us the odds, and let’s begin our countdown starting with…

# 6 – runDisney: The Dark Side

The folks at runDisney have done the impossible, they have made exercise fun. The popularity of the events continue to grow and lately Disney has started to outdo themselves with great concepts and spectacular looking medals for the runners (we’re looking in your direction Princess Half Marathon). Last year they introduced Star Wars events out in Disneyland with The Light Side series of races. This year the fun continues at Walt Disney World with The Dark Side.

The Dark Side fun started off at the Health & Fitness Expo held at ESPN Wide World of Sports, where runners got an opportunity to take pictures with Star Wars characters including Jabba the Hutt and BB-8. There was also a side array of unique merchandise available including t-shirts, hats, magnets, and even Dooney & Bourke handbags. However what makes runDisney events truly special is being able to run through the actual theme parks, along with meeting characters along the way. As a theme park fan, it is hard to beat running through EPCOT and seeing stormtroopers along with being able to take a picture with Captain Phasma after completing the run. The Dark Side may just be runDisney’s best even ever, and has us looking forward to more Star Wars races in the future!

darkside1

runDisney Star Wars: The Dark Side. (photo by Brandon Glover)

darkside2

Star Wars Half Marathon shirt. (photo by Brandon Glover)

darkside6

Jabba the Hutt and Salacious B. Crumb meet their type of scum, the fearless and inventive runDisney fanatic @baztastic.

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Amorette’s Patisserie to Open at Disney Springs on May 15

by on April 15, 2016

Amorette's Patisserie

©Disney

If you’re looking for a dessert that is almost too pretty to eat (I said ALMOST), then beginning May 15, you will want to stop at the Town Center in Disney Springs to try Amorette’s Patisserie. The new pastry shop will feature delectable goodies from classic and contemporary cakes and pastries, to macaroons, to blondies, to eclairs, and more. There will be multiple delicious items on hand to tantalize your sweet tooth.

Menu items will include macarons;  pavlova; chocolate-chocolate chunk cookie; eclairs; New York-style cheesecake; opera cake; sacher torte; peanut blondie with bacon, banana and chocolate; strawberry mousse with basil sugar and lemon curd; and Amorette’s Signature Cake featuring 10 layers of delectable flavors and textures.

Guests will be able to enjoy many different beverage options as well, including Champagne; sparkling wine; Amorette’s Hot Chocolate Ganache, a cupful of sippable chocolate with Chantilly and shaved dark chocolate on top; milk, coffee or tea.  

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Tickets Now on Sale for Night of Joy

by on April 15, 2016

Night of JoyFor those of you who were looking to attend this year’s Night of Joy event at Walt Disney World, I have good news! Tickets are now on sale!

This year’s Night of Joy will be different than previous years events. You see this year, the Christian concerts will take place on Friday, September 9 and Saturday September 10 at the ESPN Wide World of Sports for the first time ever. During the event this year, Guests having 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.

Performers for each night include:

Friday, September 9

  • MercyMe
  • Casting Crowns
  • Chris Tomlin
  • Francesca Battistelli
  • Crowder
  • Matthew West
  • Stars Go Dim
  • Zealand Worship

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Celebrate Earth Day at Disney’s Animal Kingdom with Party for the Planet

by on April 15, 2016

©Rikki Niblett

©Rikki Niblett

While Rivers of Light may not be debuting now on Earth Day (April 22) there is still going to be a party for Guests to experience at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. The Party for the Planet, which is presented this year by Disneynature, will celebrate and encourage Guests to connect with nature by participating in exciting and engaging activities.

Guests will be able to learn about the world around them, enjoy special food offerings (I smell cupcakes), purchase unique merchandise, and even meet a rare character. Each land in the park will feature a unique activity to help celebrate.

In the Oasis, Guests can uncover little known facts about animals featured in the live action version of “The Jungle Book.” Also, in celebration of the film’s release, Guests can take photos of “The Jungle Book” sand sculpture through April 24.

Over in Discovery Island, Guests are invited to discover the size of their environmental footprint and learn some new ways you can make it smaller to protect our planet. Guests will also be able to meet Imagineer Joe Rohde. Joe will be at Discovery Trading Company from 1:00 p.m – 2:00 p.m. signing original art and the new Disney Conservation Fund book. A wristband is required to meet Joe Rohde.  A limited number of wristbands will be distributed at the time of art or book purchase at Discovery Trading Company on April 22. Wristbands are available while supplies last. In addition, Boiled Books will be selling stationery items stained with real plants and flowers (from April 20-24) and the Fairy House Ladies will sell fairy houses made from material found in nature (from April 21-24).

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Dining Review: Il Mulino New York Trattoria

by on April 15, 2016

If you’ve ever had a craving for Italian food at Walt Disney World, you know there certainly isn’t a lack of choices, particularly in the Crescent Lake Resorts/Epcot corner of the World. Recently, I took a trip to the Swan resort’s Il Mulino signature Italian eatery to see what it had to offer and how it compares to its neighbors.

I’d never been to Il Mulino before (but had always heard rave reviews), so I brought along a friend who had – as it turns out, this was an excellent decision, otherwise I never would’ve found the restaurant! The Swan hotel has two “lobbies” of sorts, so you have to walk through the main hotel lobby to the other central lobby to get to the restaurant. Once you’ve found it, you have to walk through the bar to get to the hostess stand (though I have occasionally seen a hostess outside the restaurant helping direct guests inside). After a few minutes of confusion about where to seat us in the bustling restaurant, we headed to a table in the main dining room. My first impression was that of an upscale modern eatery in a big city – a loud dining room with bare bones décor, filled to the brim with large parties of conventioneers and only a smattering of families. Our server was very quick to greet us (and introduce his serving partner), but then took a bit of time to come back to take our order. We were pretty overwhelmed by all the options on the menu; it’s probably twice as large as most signature dining options, with appetizers, salads, soups, pizzas, pastas, seafood, and meat entrees along with the family style dining section (available for parties with four or more people). Our server didn’t offer up any recommendations at first, but I had no idea what to order – so many options, many of which sounded fantastic. After a little prodding, he recommended a few of the pasta dishes and the steak entrees. We went against the grain and ordered a few items from several sections to try to get a representative sampling of the large menu.

Our drinks arrived in due time – I tried the “Piano Piano” ($13), basically an aviation cocktail you’d find at many other restaurants. After sampling this lightly-poured drink, I’d hazard a guess that most of the cocktails here follow suit – meant for conventioneers and tourists who rarely drink, so think light on the liquor, heavy on the sweet fillers. Sangria was recommended by one of our servers, as was the extensive wine list, but at convention prices (think: slightly higher than most Disney signature restaurant wine list), I was reluctant to order selections I’ve seen all around property for a few dollars cheaper per glass. I eventually caved and tried the red sangria, but it was, rather predictably, cloyingly sweet and lacking in any nuance. Along with our drinks, we received the restaurant’s bread service – several slices of crusty Italian bread, a few pieces of tomato herb focaccia, and a plate on the side with a few slices of salami and a healthy portion of eggplant caponata (a pretty standard mix of eggplant, garlic, tomatoes, with a few olive slices here and there). The salami was odd – very little flavor, no spice, no savory twang; but the caponata was excellent – not overly salty, and it brought out the sweetness of the tomato flavor in the focaccia.

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Disney World Crowd Calendar Report – April 3 to 9, 2016

by on April 12, 2016

How Crowded Was Walt DIsney World Resort Last Week?

How Crowded Was Walt DIsney World Resort Last Week?

In a year of unprecedented crowd levels at Walt Disney World Resort, last week may have been the most overcrowded week of them all. We are now two weeks removed from Easter and our School Calendar statistics show that 96% of the 50 largest U.S. school districts were in session last week. If we look at the equivalent post-Easter week from 2015 we see that crowds were signifcantly lower. Furthermore, Disney’s new tiered pricing for single day tickets labels last week as “Regular Season”.

Last week’s crowds were extreme not just for post-Easter but for any time of the year. In fact, the Magic Kingdom was a ’10’ every day last week, a feat not matched by Easter week itself. There is no post-Easter week that compares to these crowd levels any year in our database going back to 2006.

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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