Your subscriptions support new blog articles and research. Please consider



Disneyland Crowd Calendar Report – September 27 to October 3, 2015

by on October 6, 2015 1 Comment

How Did the Disneyland Crowd Calendar Do Last Week?

How Did the Disneyland Crowd Calendar Do Last Week?

Last week, crowds at both Disneyland parks were within one index point of what the Disneyland Crowd Calendar predicted every day except for Saturday when we saw wait times surge at both parks. Although crowds were up throughout September it appears that October crowds may be more in line with what we have seen historically.

Let’s look at how the crowd levels stacked up each day last week on the Disneyland Resort Crowd Report:

Read the rest of this entry »

The Ganachery Coming to Disney Springs

by on October 6, 2015

Disney Springs

©Rikki Niblett

A brand new chocolate shop will be opening soon in The Landing section at Disney Springs. Called The Ganachery, this Disney owned and operated venue will specialize in custom-blended chocolates and feature flavors from around the world.

The shop will offer handmade ganache, bonbons and other sweet treats developed by Disney Chocolatiers. (Oh I can just imagine the delightful smells coming from here already.) The Ganachery will also give Guests a chance to participate in tastings as well as purchase treats to enjoy immediately or take home to savor.

While no official date has been announced as of yet, The Ganachery is scheduled to open later this year. This is one stop I know I’m gonna be making on my next trip to Disney Springs! I’ll make sure to keep you posted as I learn more!

TouringPlans meet-up Saturday 4 PM at Disney’s Hollywood Studios – with refreshments!

by on October 5, 2015 10 Comments

Mulch Sweat and Shears

Mulch is going the great compost heap in the sky. Image (c) Disney.

Please join us at 4 PM on Saturday, October 10 at the Center Stage at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. We’ll be celebrating the last performance of Mulch, Sweat & Shears – the Studios’ house band for the past 11 years.

We’ll provide refreshments. Center Stage is the stage in front of the Great Movie Ride, in the middle of the park.

If you’re up for it, we ask that you scream as loud as possible for the first 30 seconds of Mulch’s first song. Scream like a UFO just dropped Jimi Hendrix and Elvis together in the middle of the stage, with a note that says “oops!” You’ll know you’ve succeeded when you can’t actually hear the band.

The last show should start at 4:30 PM and finish by 5 PM. We’ll be in the area around the stage, wearing red TouringPlans shirts for easy identification. The offer of refreshments is open to everyone – TouringPlans subscribers and not.

We’ll use @touringplans to announce any last-minute schedule or location changes.



Paying Your Way – Managing Disney Gift Cards

by on October 5, 2015 7 Comments

Food & Wine 2015 Gift Card

Food & Wine 2015 Gift Card – © 2015, Julie Mascardo

With Epcot’s International Food & Wine Festival underway, you are almost guaranteed to see various articles and message board threads suggesting you buy a Disney gift card to purchase your items (Food & Wine even offers special, smaller gift cards that come with an elastic wristlet so the card is always available for easy payment). That makes now the perfect time to discuss how to best manage your Disney gift cards and add a bit of an update to Laurel’s write-up about gift cards from last year.


A Word of Caution: You Can’t Pay Your Rent with a Disney Gift Card

To be clear, this post is not suggesting that you immediately run out to start buying Disney gift cards to fund a future Disney vacation. On the contrary, I am generally cautious about putting money into Disney gift cards because I like more flexibility from my dollar than “I can only use this for Disney-related items.” (It’s the same reason I wouldn’t set up a Disney Vacation Account.) My point is that you should definitely evaluate your situation before putting money into Disney gift cards. They won’t earn you any interest. Read the rest of this entry »

Opening Weekend at Morimoto Asia

by on October 5, 2015 6 Comments

I have been a fan of Chef Masaharu Morimoto ever since I saw him on the original Iron Chef series. The problem with shows like that is that you can see these amazing meals that are made, but you can’t taste them, even if you lick the screen. (Not that I would advise that.)

(Photo by Julia Mascardo)

(Photo by Julia Mascardo)

Almost a decade ago, I made the trip up to Philadelphia and ate at Morimoto’s restaurant there, and had a fantastic meal. Needless to say, when I heard that Morimoto was opening a restaurant at Disney Springs, I was thrilled. As soon as reservations could be made on OpenTable (an insider tip for finding Disney Springs restaurant reservations), I booked the first weekend available.

Morimoto Asia is a restaurant featuring pan-Asian cuisine, located in the old Mannequins Dance Palace in what used to be Pleasure Island. For those who are more recent visitors to the area, it is right across from Raglan Road and around the corner from The Boathouse (making that intersection probably the best dining in all of Central Florida). Upon arrival, we were asked if we had a reservation, and saw a long standby line for people who didn’t have reservations. There were no guarantees about getting in on standby, but they were willing to take phone numbers to send a text if a table is available. According to one of those hostesses, Morimoto Asia was booked solid for the next several days and some weekends, but during the week, there may be some availability.

Read the rest of this entry »

Walt Disney World Newsworthy Notes – 10/4/15

by on October 4, 2015 4 Comments

Hello again! It’s been a while since the last Newsworthy Notes update. It’s that time of year where the new Disney fiscal year begins, so that means that there are a few minor changes that occurred that reflect that, plus, of course, there are a few other additions as well that you may want to experience on your next vacation! So, let’s get to it!

  • It has been announce that Night of Joy will be changing venues for the 2016 event. The Christian music festival will take place next year at ESPN Wide World of Sports. I’ll make sure to keep you posted with more information as I get it.
  • There are a few character changes that recently occurred. Rafiki is now greeting Guests near the Swiss Family Treehouse daily at the Magic Kingdom. In addition, Stitch will no longer be meeting guests in Tomorrowland.  Also, over at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, Guests can meet Flik from A Bug’s Life once again in Discovery Island.
  • Kali River Rapids no longer takes part in Morning Extra Magic Hours.
  • The Fantasia Laundry Room at Disney’s All-Star Movies Resort is now closed. No definite end date is planned, however during this closure, Guests may use the Mighty Ducks Laundry Room at Disney’s All-Star Sports Resort.

Read the rest of this entry »

Disneyland Resort Sees Pricing Increase in Annual Passes

by on October 4, 2015 5 Comments

IMG_3863Disney is on a roll, because not only does Walt Disney World have a new pricing structure for its Annual Passes beginning this morning, but Disneyland Resort does as well.  It appears that there were some major changes that occurred with this restructuring, so because things like this can be confusing, let’s take a closer look.

With this new change, there appear to be three major passes for Disneyland Guests to choose from. These new Annual Passes are the Disney Signature Plus Passport, the Disney Signature Passport, and the Disney Deluxe Passport.

The Disney Signature Plus Passport costs $1,049.00 for ages 3 and up and includes admission to the two theme parks every day of the year, including Park Hopping. Guests will also get theme park parking, the new ability to download Disney PhotoPass photos, special offers for stays at Disney Resort hotels and valuable discounts on dining, merchandise, recreation and tours. Read the rest of this entry »

Walt Disney World Increases Annual Passes, Parking, and More

by on October 4, 2015 45 Comments



This morning, in a surprise twist, Walt Disney World Annual Passes have a new pricing structure. The structure can be confusing, so let’s take a closer look.

For regular Walt Disney World passes, there is now the Deluxe Platinum Pass and the Disney Platinum Pass.

The Deluxe Platinum Pass will cost $829.00 ages 3 and up and gives Guests one year of admission to all four Walt Disney World theme parks and the ability to Park Hop. Plus Guests will get theme park parking and admission to Blizzard Beach and Typhoon Lagoon, ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex, and Disney’s Oak Trail Golf Course, special offers for stays at Disney Resort hotels, and valuable discounts on dining, merchandise, recreation and tours are also included. Of course the biggest change is that now Annual Passes include the ability to download Disney PhotoPass photos and videos as part of their pass. Read the rest of this entry »

Six Experiences We Need at CityWalk, Part I

by on October 4, 2015 1 Comment

CityWalk has seen a major transformation happen at the breakneck speed that only Universal can accomplish. Over the past three years, new entertainment options have been added (Hollywood Drive-In Golf), old venues have been given the sleek and modern touch (Universal Studios Store and Starbucks), and a whole bevy of new restaurants have been unfurled (ranging from The Hot Dog Hall of Fame and Antojitos Authentic Mexican Food to The Cowifsh Sushi Burger Bar and Cold Stone Creamery). And, most impressive yet, there’s still several more dining options on the way, including the almost-open NBC Sports Grill & Brew and a rumored dessert venue.

Universal CityWalk Orlando

Image © Universal

Still, despite this nearly-complete makeover, there’s always room for extra experiences to be snuck in; Universal still has quite a way to go before it is representing most of the important entertainment bases, let alone competing with the diversity of options that Disney is lining up for its imminent Disney Springs.

With this in mind, lets look at some ideas of what Universal should be keeping its eye on for the immediate future. Whether culinary or retail-oriented, there’s one common denominator linking all our suggestions: a special uniqueness which would help differentiate these offerings from everything already in Orlando. The below suggestions would also help draw a distinction between what is largely being called CityWalk 2.0 from Disney Springs.

You should know that the below are a wishlist of things that I think would add to the already great offerings at CityWalk. Similar to the post that Erin Foster wrote about Disney Springs, these are based on my opinion, not rumors.

Read the rest of this entry »

SATURDAY SIX: Six Reasons We Love Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort Cabins

by on October 3, 2015 12 Comments

This week’s SATURDAY SIX takes a look at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Cabins, and today we even have a special guest author in Steve Bloom. Now Steve is a statistician by trade so he brings the one thing we’ve never had in the two years of writing this fine blog, a brain. In fact, because of Steve’s experience in numbers we are going to officially dub this the first ever edition of the STAT SIX. So without further ado, take it away Steve!

Fort Wilderness is the largest resort at Walt Disney World. The rustic themed resort opened with the park itself in 1971 and covers 750-acres. The original Wilderness Homes were added in the ’80s. The current cabins started to replace the Wilderness Homes in the late ’90s. The resort currently has 800 campsites and 409 cabins. Disney classifies the cabins as moderates, but they are really in their own category. 96% of the Unofficial Guide readers would stay at the cabins again, so let’s look at six reasons many of them feel this way, starting with…

Ft Wilderness Sign

# 6 – “There’s so much room for activities!”

Fort Wilderness has more activities than any resort at Walt Disney World. There are two dinner shows: Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue and Mickey’s Backyard BBQ. The Trails End Restaurant is a SATURDAY SIX favorite. In addition to the evening movies, there is the charming Campfire Sing-Along with Chip ‘n’ Dale.

At the bike barn, you can rent canoes, kayaks, bikes, and tennis rackets. At the marina, you can rent water crafts to explore Bay Lake and Seven Seas Lagoon. Tri-Circle-D Ranch offers pony rides, trail rides, and horse-drawn wagon rides. From the beach, you can watch the Magic Kingdom fireworks and the Electrical Water Pageant. There are miles of trails, including a 2.3 mile exercise trail to Wilderness Lodge. There are two pools, a quiet pool, and the larger Meadows Pool with a slide, hot tub, and kid’s splash zone. Scattered across the resort are sand volleyball courts, basketball courts, and playgrounds. There are even Segway tours!

Tri Circle D Ranch

Tri Circle D Ranch.

Read the rest of this entry »