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Disney is Looking For a Million Dollar Arm

by on April 16, 2014

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©Disney

©Disney

Do you have a Million Dollar Arm? That’s what Disney is looking for in this new contest. If you can throw a 100-mph fastball, you could potentially win $1 million.

How? Well, to promote Disney’s upcoming movie, Million Dollar Arm, on April 25-26 Walt Disney Studios is holding a competition where contestants will have three chances to throw the fastest strike they can.

Participants can attempt the feat at one of three locations. Guests can test their arms at Downtown Disney at Disneyland (California) and at ESPN Wide World of Sports at Walt Disney World (Florida) from 7:00 a.m-6:00 p.m. local time. In New York, the competition will take place at the Tribeca Family Festival on April 26, from 10:00 a.m.-6:00 p.m. All who participate in the contest get complimentary tickets for themselves and a guest to attend an advance screening of Million Dollar Arm at a nearby AMC Theatre.

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Universal’s Cabana Bay Transportation Guide

by on April 16, 2014 3 Comments

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Cabana Bay transportation guide

When you get tired of relaxing by Cabana Bay’s pool, use this transportation guide to get to Universal’s theme parks (photos by Seth Kubersky).

Cabana Bay Beach Resort, the newest Loews-operated on-site hotel at Universal Orlando, only opened at the end of March, but if you’ve been following our coverage – from my mega-sized photo gallery from opening day to Derek Burgan’s Saturday Six devoted to the property – you may feel like you’ve already stayed there. One aspect of Universal’s first moderately priced hotel that many readers have asked for more information about is the transportation options available to guests of Cabana Bay. As you may have heard, Cabana Bay does NOT offer water taxi service like Universal’s original 3 luxury properties. So I spent a recent sunny afternoon testing various methods of getting from the hotel to the parks (and vice versa), in order to bring you this comprehensive Cabana Bay transportation guide.

Parking at Cabana Bay

Cabana Bay doesn’t offer valet parking, but that deficit is offset by a $10 daily self-parking rate for hotel guests, which is significantly cheaper than parking at the other Universal hotels. Parking lots ring the hotel, so you can park right alongside your room. Unfortunately, high parking rates for non-guests ($8 for 5 to 30 minutes, $20 for 30 minutes to 24 hours) make it expensive for locals to drop in and knock down some pins at the Galaxy bowling alley. Read the rest of this entry »

Walt Disney World Crowd Report – April 6 to 12, 2014

by on April 14, 2014 10 Comments

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Anytime statisticians see a spike like the one we see on this week’s crowd report, they first break out in hives, then catch their breaths and look for an explanation of the outlier. The number one most common reason that our predictions miss the mark is weather. Unexpected good weather and bad weather can affect what we see in the parks, and we think that is what happened last week. On Tuesday, Central Florida experienced a severe weather warning from around noon until early evening. Then on Wednesday resort guests, off-site guests, and locals who were well-rested from missing most of Tuesday’s touring time flocked to the parks.

We feel this is a solid theory since wait times returned to expected levels on Friday and Saturday. If Tuesday’s spike was the result of an underestimate on our part, then one would expect the rest of the week to be very crowded, as well. This wasn’t the case. Also, during the day on Wednesday, Disney extended park hours to accommodate the unexpectedly large crowds.

Let’s look at how the crowd levels stacked up on other days last week.

The Crowd Report

The Crowd Report, April 6-12, 2014

 

The Walt Disney World Crowd Report
April 6 to April 12, 2014

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Park-level crowds ranged between a ’3′ at The Studios and ’6′s at the Kingdoms on Sunday. Both Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom were one level higher than the ’5′ we predicted which pushed the resort-wide level to a level ’5′, one higher than expected. Epcot’s crowd level ’5′ was also one level higher than predicted while The Studios’ crowd level ’3′ matched our prediction. Read the rest of this entry »

Observations from Downtown Disney for April 10, 2014 (Construction Walls, T-Rex, Food Trucks, New Merchandise)

by on April 14, 2014 11 Comments

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It has been several months since I have been to Downtown Disney, so it’s time to check in to see what is going on lately. After several trips in which I had to scream “Serenity Now!” while trying to find a parking spot, I realized what I needed to do in order to fix that problem: I rope-dropped Downtown Disney.

The only two places to park in front of Downtown Disney itself and these are the lot by the Marketplace and way down the other end by Cirque du Soleil. Even at 10 AM, the sign leading to the Marketplace lot said it was “full,” so we parked down by Cirque du Soleil. This lack of parking is caused by the two parking garages Downtown Disney is in the process of building. Many people are hoping for these to be done by the holiday season of this year, but guest services said it wouldn’t be until early 2015.  There is also parking across the street in which you can take a Disney shuttle to Downtown Disney.

DowntownDisney_ParkingGarage

Status of the parking garage closest to Cirque du Soleil

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PotterWatch: Diagon Alley Construction Photos and Early April Rumors

by on April 13, 2014 2 Comments

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It’s been a couple weeks since our last PotterWatch look at Wizarding World of Harry Potter progress around Universal Orlando. While visible exterior changes are not as dramatic as as they were in earlier months, we can definitely see that the project is gaining new details as the expansion’s summer opening approaches. Enjoy these Hogsmeade Station and Diagon Alley construction photos from a few days ago, followed by a survey of the latest Potter rumors circulating on the net.

 

Diagon Alley Construction Photos

This is Universal Studios Florida‘s London Waterfront facade, behind which hides Diagon Alley, as it looked on April 7, 2014.

Diagon Alley construction photos

Note the trees that have been added to the area in front of the facade. Read the rest of this entry »

Easter Activities at Walt Disney World Resort

by on April 12, 2014 2 Comments

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©Disney

©Disney

Easter is just a week away (April 20) and Walt Disney World is gearing up for the holiday with some great events the whole family can enjoy. Many different facets across the resort are getting in on the fun.

In The Theme Parks

Magic Kingdom

  • From April 13-20, guests will be able to meet Mr. and Mrs. Easter Bunny on Main Street, U.S.A., in Town Square, between City Hall and the Chamber of Commerce.
  • A special pre-parade will take place on April 19 and 20, featuring Mr. Easter Bunny, springtime characters, dancers, and the Azalea Trail Maids.
  • Speaking of parades, the Disney Festival of Fantasy Parade will be shown twice from April 13-20. Showtimes are at 12:00 p.m. and 3:00 p.m.

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SATURDAY SIX: Six “Secrets” of Universal’s Port of Entry

by on April 12, 2014 4 Comments

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IOA_lighthouse

The Pharos Lighthouse

This week’s SATURDAY SIX covers Six “Secrets” of Islands of Adventure’s Port of Entry. One of my favorite places at either of Universal’s two theme parks doesn’t have a single attraction or show. Port of Entry is the first official “island” you experience when walking into Islands of Adventure and I consider it the best “Main Street” of any theme park in North America. The level of detail throughout transports guests into a world that never existed, yet somehow feels completely real.

The journey through this exotic land starts before you even hit the park, as the impressive Pharos Lighthouse stands tall outside the gates and the fantastic Call to Adventure theme plays in the background. As far as park icons go, the Lighthouse is right up there with Spaceship Earth and Cinderella Castle in my list of personal favorites and the background music never ceases to thrill me. Once through the turnstiles, guests pass by the archway which promises “The Adventure Begins” and they generally make a beeline to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter or over to the Hulk Coaster and Spider-Man at Marvel Superhero Island. With this edition of the Saturday Six we are going to make a plea to you, Dear Reader, to slow down on your race to the rest of the park and take a moment to take in the immersive land Universal Creative has delivered with Port of Entry.

IOA_AdventureBegins

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Epcot To Introduce After Hours Wind Down Experience

by on April 11, 2014 6 Comments

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Have you ever walked around Epcot’s World Showcase after IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth has ended and thought, “I wish one of these restaurants were open so I could grab a drink and a light snack.” Well, now that option is a possibility!

Disney is introducing the new After Hours Wind Down. During this special experience, guests will be able to sit down in an intimate setting and sample appetizers and beverages from one of four different lounges found in World Showcase. The lounges guests can choose from include: La Cava del Tequila (Mexico), Spice Road Table (Morocco), Tutto Gusto Wine Cellar (Italy), and Rose & Crown Pub (United Kingdom). You may only choose one dining location per night.

Menu offerings include a selection of small bites, paired with one beverage flight. Additional beverages can be purchased, if guests choose.

The event is for adults, 21 and up, and takes place Thursdays-Sundays, from 9:20 p.m. – 11:00 p.m. It is scheduled to run from April 17 – September 15.

The cost is $35 per person, plus tax and gratuity. A special ticket is needed to take part in this experience, and admission to Epcot is required but not included in the price. Read the rest of this entry »

In Case You Missed It: Disney News and Rumors – Week of April 11, 2014

by on April 11, 2014 7 Comments

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In Case You Missed It!

In Case You Missed It!

Still have “it’s a small world” stuck in your head from all the 50th anniversary celebrations? Me too.

On Thursday, Good Morning America helped to celebrate the 50th anniversary of “it’s a small world” with a global sing-along. I may be a softy, but I totally teared up during the performance. To me, it is proof that Walt’s dream is alive and well. (Also, a happy 50th anniversary should also be shared with Carousel of Progress, Great Moments With Mr. Lincoln, and Ford’s Magic Skyway.  All of these attractions premiered at the 1964 New York World’s Fair.)  Share with me in the comments your favorite of these World’s Fair attractions!

It’s a world of laughter, a world of tears

It’s a world of hope and a world of fears…

Darn it…there I go again! Here’s more that you potentially missed this week!

In Case You Missed It – Disney News and Rumors

In more celebration of “it’s a small world” here are some by the numbers facts that you may not have known. (The boats only hold 16 people? I could have sworn I’ve been crammed into a boat with way more people than that before! Guess it only just feels that way.) Read the rest of this entry »

A Look at the Seven Dwarfs Characters in Seven Dwarfs Mine Train

by on April 11, 2014

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©Disney

©Disney

So, I don’t usually post all the updates that Disney shares about the new Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, but this video was too good to pass up.

The short clip takes a look at the upcoming New Fantasyland attraction at the Magic Kingdom and shares how the Seven Dwarfs will appear in the mining portion of the ride. The Audio-Amatronics used for this new attraction are some of the most advanced I’ve ever seen. They move in ways that are incredible, and their faces are super-realistic. (Created in a similar fashion that the Cars characters appear at Radiator Springs Racers in Disney California Adventure.) This is our first glimpse into how these characters will look in the new ride, and it’s a huge step up from how they appeared in the former Snow White’s Scary Adventure attraction.

If you don’t want to see spoilers about the attraction, I highly suggest that you not view the video.

In addition, if you want more information, I recently posted a ride description sharing what to expect with the attraction.

As a reminder, Seven Dwarfs Mine Train will have a height requirement of 38 inches, and FastPass+ will be available.

I am in awe of how good this portion of the attraction looks and cannot wait to ride it when it officially opens. As if I wasn’t already excited enough!