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A Best Friends Pet Care Resort Primer

by on July 25, 2014 4 Comments

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Best Friends Pet Resort Exterior

The exterior of Best Friends Pet Resort has its own visual whimsy.

When my family vacations at Walt Disney World, we enjoy staying on property in quality accommodations. So when it came time to find a place for our cat to stay while we went on vacation, we decided to try Best Friends Pet Care at Walt Disney World.

Located across the street from Port Orleans Riverside, Best Friends is more than just a typical kennel. Even driving by the outside, its Lady and the Tramp-themed decorations let you know that this is something special for your furry (or not so furry) friends.

The majority of animals staying at Best Friends are dogs, but cats, birds, and even “pocket pets” (such as lizards, guinea pigs, chinchillas, and more) are welcome. Different animals are kept in different locations to minimize stress.

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TouringPlans Everywhere – I’m Going to Tokyo Disneyland!

by on July 24, 2014 22 Comments

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Photo courtesy of Tom Bricker

Photo courtesy of Tom Bricker.

Back in April we announced that TouringPlans will be spending a weekend in every Disney-operated destination on the planet. The powers that be (Ed. – your naiveté is adorable, please let Len keep thinking he’s in charge around here) have assigned me to a destination I have always dreamed about visiting. I can finally say “I’m going to Tokyo Disneyland!”

Tokyo Disneyland has always been a bit of a mythological and mysterious place to me. In the late 80s and early 90s (before I had the internet in my home) I would always see glimpses of it in the old Disney News Magazines. The pictures I saw of the park made it look similar, but different enough that it always held my curiosity. Tokyo Disneyland continued to stay on my mind in 2001 when Tokyo Disney Resort’s second gate opened, DisneySea. Every picture I’ve seen of DisneySea make the park look absolutely spectacular. Anyway, back to the Tokyo resort being mysterious to me. I think one of the most daunting tasks most people have when they think about visiting Tokyo Disneyland is that they don’t even know where to start with their planning. I know I was the same way. Hopefully this and future blog posts I write on this subject will help you plan a trip to Japan. That’s my goal.

I’m a native to Los Angeles, California, and have been visiting the original Disneyland since 1986. This will not only be my first time visiting Tokyo Disneyland, but also my first time traveling out of the country. My wife will be making the trip with me, and because it also her first time in Japan, we will take advantage of doing some non-Disney sightseeing in Tokyo and Osaka. Read the rest of this entry »

Tips for the Solo Traveler in Disneyland

by on July 24, 2014 4 Comments

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Red Car Trolley Newsboys

Stop and enjoy the show!

Ever find yourself wanting to visit Disneyland but have nobody to go with? It’s nothing to be afraid of! Some of the best trips I’ve ever had visiting Disney Parks have been by myself. I used to be an Annual Passholder for Disneyland Resort Paris and would make a stop in the parks whenever I was travelling from anywhere in mainland Europe back to London, where I was living at the time. (I had to pass through Paris by train anyway, so I figured, why not tack on a half day in the parks?) I also visit Walt Disney World solo on occasion to participate in Run Disney events. (If you’re thinking of visiting WDW alone, check out these great tips from fellow blogger Claire.)

Now that I am a Southern California resident, I frequently visit the Disneyland Resort, but because I’m new to the area and don’t know too many people, I don’t always have someone to go with. (Especially since I’m sure that I’m interested in going much more frequently than any of the new friends I am making, if they even have an Annual Pass. I’m not a “few times a year” guest, to say the least.)

Touring the parks solo offers many advantages: You can can go at your own pace; you aren’t forced to doing anything you dislike; you can make new friends, etc. If you decide to visit the Disneyland Resort by yourself, here are a few helpful tips. Read the rest of this entry »

Top Ten Places to Find Coffee at Walt Disney World

by on July 24, 2014 5 Comments

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The Walt Disney World Resort is 47 square miles, which is about the same size of San Francisco. A resort this size is pretty certain to have whatever you might be looking for. For those as addicted to caffeine as I am, my first question in the morning is, “Where’s the coffee?” With this mind, here is my quick and dirty “top ten” guide on where to find coffee at Disney World. Now, this list isn’t all-inclusive, and it isn’t even ranked (who can really say one Starbucks is better than another), but I will give you a list of ten options for you to keep in mind when you’re on your “Where’s Waldo?” search for a tasty cup of Joe.

Starbucks at the West Side of Downtown Disney is easy to spot, next to the Characters in Flight attraction

Starbucks at the West Side of Downtown Disney is easy to spot, next to the Characters in Flight attraction

Starbucks – West Side Downtown Disney: Nestled next to the Characters in Flight balloon launch in Downtown Disney’s West Side, this coffee mecca is pretty easy to find. And the curse/blessing of any chain restaurant is that you know exactly what you’re getting when you order your favorite beverage here. Starbucks regulars can even use their Starbucks gift cards here. What makes this location unique from any other location is the impeccable coffee theming. True to Disney form, you are immersed in coffee culture, so take some time to peruse the walls and learn a bit about this addictive little bean we all love so much. Once you’ve grabbed your beverage, snag a window seat to watch shoppers stroll along or the Characters in Flight balloon lift-off. Or sip while you doodle on the interactive screen. Read the rest of this entry »

Daisy Lauren’s Best Week Ever: July 24, 2014

by on July 24, 2014 12 Comments

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Hi, Everyone! Welcome to the Best Week Ever here at Walt Disney World! This week we’ll be visiting the Magic Kingdom to check out progress on all the renovations there then heading over to Downtown Disney to see what’s new. We’ve got a lot to cover so let’s get started with a sunny Saturday morning at Cinderella’s Castle. It looks like it isn’t that crowded from the photo but when I arrived at the gates at 8:45am they’d already started letting people in the park. I knew there was no way I’d get to Seven Dwarfs Mine Train without a long wait so I took my time wandering into the park. 

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It’s been a while since we’ve been shopping so I stopped into the Emporium. This early in the morning you can see how empty it is in there. You can also hear a bird that flew into the shop and was hanging out!

I also encountered a few of my favorite things on Main Street….

CLICK TO READ MORE

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#TBT: Club 33 Before the Renovation

by on July 24, 2014 2 Comments

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Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, at least I hope Kylene Hamulak thinks so! I loved her throw back Thursday article so much I decided to share one of my own. This time visiting Disneyland’s Club 33 before the much debated renovation. I thought now was a great time to preserve the information in case the club emerges nothing like it was in the past. Now, I must apologize for the photo quality. Back in 2011 I hadn’t picked up photography as a hobby just yet. That plus my hands trembling with excitement led to some pretty sad results!  If you want to see (always) amazing photos, check out this old post by THE Tom Bricker.

I’ll never forget how nervous I was that day! I couldn’t think about anything else and I made my hubby push the button to check us in. When they first opened the door and we stepped inside, I immediately snapped a photo of the inside of that door! I’d been waiting so long to see it! It was surprisingly… red. Actually the entire entry was a bright red color with a lovely staircase directly in front of us and the French lift on the right. Maybe I remember that color so well because all my photos are just a smeared mess of that red! ;) We asked to take the French Lift up to our table and it’s really as tiny as people say.

Below is my first photo of the day that turned out. Once we sat down I took a deep breath and photographed everything on the table. Our server tried to unfold my napkin to place it on my lap and was a little confused when I stopped her. I was worried she’d think we were “that” kind of table but it ended up that she was really lovely and appreciated how much we treasured being there.

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After taking a few minutes to appreciate the dining room we thought we should grab something to eat. When we were at Club 33 you not only got to order from a gourmet menu, there was also a buffet to start your meal. The options were immense with cheeses, seafood, meats, salad, fruit, soups, and more. I wonder if this tradition will continue with the new club? It was an amazing way to start off your meal! Read the rest of this entry »

New Universal Orlando Wizarding World Two-Park Touring Plans

by on July 23, 2014 6 Comments

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Gringotts Queue

Learn everything you’ve always wanted to know (but were afraid to ask) about visiting both Gringotts and Hogwarts with our new Wizarding World two-park touring plans! (photos by Seth Kubersky)

A few days ago, we published our newly updated Universal Studios Florida touring plans, which provide step-by-step instructions for tackling Diagon Alley and the crowds at the Gringotts bank ride with maximum efficiency. Those guides are now available as premium touring plans that can be copied and edited in Lines, with versions for Early Entry guests and for those staying off-site.

Today, we’re following up with the first installment of our most frequently requested touring plan: one-day/two-park plans covering both sides of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. These new plans cover both Universal Studios Florida and Islands of Adventure. They feature all Harry Potter attractions (including rides on the Hogwarts Express in both directions) in a single day, and assume you have a Park-To-Park (Universal lingo for “parkhopper”) ticket.

[Note: If you caught the early edition of this post, you may notice that the touring plans have changed slightly. Using the latest data crunched overnight, we've tweaked the morning attraction order to squeeze in one extra attraction! Similar upgrades have already been made to the premium one day USF/Diagon Alley plans we've previously published. You're welcome!]
. Read the rest of this entry »

Disney Cruise Line Alaska Quick Tips

by on July 23, 2014 2 Comments

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Ahoy mateys! I’m back from my first trip to Alaska via Disney Cruise Line. In upcoming posts, new Touring Plans blogger Kristi Fredericks and I will be back with tips on activities, excursions, and pre/post cruise hotel options. But in the meantime, I thought I’d share a few quick tips to whet your whistle, pique your interest, and otherwise get you ready for the frozen fun ahead.

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Vancouver

  • The Disney Wonder port terminal is directly adjacent to Canada Place, a large convention center. Several of the Canada Place coffee shops and snack bars offer free WiFi to their customers. If you’re in need of a last minute Internet fix, grab a cup of coffee with a view of the ship before heading into the terminal where online access can be spotty.
  • A primary attraction at Canada Place is “FlyOver Canada.” This is Soarin’, but with footage of Canadian points of interest rather than shots of California. It ain’t cheap (adults are $19.95, students over age 18 are $17.95, and kids are $14.95, plus tax) for a 10-ish minute ride, but the Disney geek in me felt compelled to compare/contrast the experience to that at Epcot and Disney’s California Adventure. The similarity to Soarin’ was almost shocking; the seating is the same, the lift is the same, even the pre-show safety video is similar. My husband and daughter ended up preferring Soarin’ because the music is better and they like the Smell-O-Vision orange groves in the California version, but I (please don’t take away my WDW annual pass when I say this) think I prefer the Canadian experience. The wind simulation is used to better effect in Canada, the screen is wider/taller in Canada, and most importantly, the film print is totally clean in Canada, so your immersion in the experience is not diluted by specks of dust flying over the countryside.
  • The Granville Island market is a must-do for any Vancouver visitor, but Disney geeks will find special pleasure in knowing that among the displays of fresh salmon, spiced nuts, and exotic fruits, you can find a vendor selling actual real live Dole Whip. Look for a vendor called The Milkman. Enjoy!
Dole Whip in Vancouver

Dole Whip in Vancouver

  • Unlike the somewhat confusing and inefficient town to airport public transportation options in my home town of New York, the Vancouver public subway/rail system is easy to understand, clean, and efficient. If you’re not burdened by copious amounts of luggage, the easiest/fastest/cheapest way to get from the airport to the port is likely public transit. Direct point to point takes about 25 minutes and costs about $7.00, depending on the day of the week.
  • At the Vancouver airport, the international departures area near gates numbered in the 70s and 80s currently features several large display cases with vintage Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, and Pluto toys dating from the 1930s to present day – think variations on Pez and Happy Meal offerings, but hundreds of them.
  • The Starbucks in the Vancouver airport (and presumably elsewhere in the region) serves an uber-Canadian treat, the Maple Macchiato. It’s like a vanilla macchiato, but with an ample drizzle of maple topping made with “real Canadian Maple Syrup found from the Beauce-Appalanche region of Quebec.” Presumably this is no great shakes for you native Canadians out there, but honestly, this small detail was the thing that made this American most feel like Canada was actually another country.
  • The Vancouver airport will not allow you to check in on site prior to three hours before your trip. Nor, for international flights, will they allow you check in when there are fewer than 60 minutes before your flight. Timing is critical here.

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Enhancing Fireworks Displays at Disney Parks

by on July 23, 2014 6 Comments

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FireworksSummer is here, and by now hopefully everyone has had a chance to enjoy a fireworks display. I got a chance to enjoy the fireworks in a small Colorado town on the 4th of July. My friends’ house had a great view of the town’s fireworks display from their back deck, so all we had to do was sit down and enjoy!

I did notice that something was missing. While the display was an impressive sight and had a variety of fireworks, there wasn’t really any plan to the show. One shot went up. BOOM! Another shot went up. BOOM! Oh – here’s a change of pace - two going off at the same time! BOOM BOOM! The only time the show really ratcheted it up was at the end, when the sky was smothered with all of the fireworks they had left.

Was your viewing of fireworks the same as mine? Did you feel like it was missing…well…a little Disney magic? Read the rest of this entry »

Disney World Summer Tips: Keeping Cool in the Kingdom

by on July 23, 2014 10 Comments

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BoardWalk sunrise Disney World

As the sun rises over Walt Disney World, prepare yourself to beat the heat

Though it’s no secret that Florida summers can be hotter than the surface of the sun, it’s also one of Walt Disney World’s busiest seasons. There’s no way to avoid the high temperatures, but there are some things you can do to plan for hot fun in the summertime. As a follow up to TouringPlan’s previous Disney World summer tips, here are some additional ideas to keep you cool in the kingdom!

 

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