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In Case You Missed It: Disney News and Rumors – Week of April 18, 2014

by on April 18, 2014 1 Comment

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In Case You Missed It!

Have you been busy dying eggs and eating the ears off chocolate bunnies? Here’s what you missed this week!

In Case You Missed It – Disney News and Rumors

Easter is this weekend and one of my favorite things that Walt Disney World used to do was televise their Easter Day Parade? There was nothing like waking up with Joan London and Alan Thicke as they shared commentary about all the Easter happenings. Today, I have for you the 1990 parade. Unfortunately there are a few pieces missing, but it’s still fun to watch! (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5 Part 6, Part 7, Part 8) It’s also a nice reminder of when these parades weren’t super over produced and we actually got to watch the parade! If anyone else has any of these old parades, you should totally post them on YouTube. I’m always looking for these videos around Easter. I miss this parade so much!

Parents Magazine had a great article about the “Top 5 Things To Do With Preschoolers at Walt Disney World.” There were some great suggestions for parents to consider.

Have you ever noticed that a lot of things related to Disney revolve around birds? There are birds everywhere in many of Disney’s films and in the theme parks. Find out more. (My favorite birds…the seagulls from Finding Nemo. Mine!) Read the rest of this entry »

2014 Grand Floridian Easter Eggs

by on April 18, 2014 6 Comments

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One of the things I love most about writing for Touring Plans is that it encourages me to go out and see things I would have skipped in the past. If you can believe it this is the third annual Easter Egg display at the Grand Floridian, but the first year I’ve stopped by for a visit. I have each and every one of you to thank, because the display is incredible! I couldn’t think of a better way to wish everyone a happy Easter and to share some photos! First the lovely Briar Rose:

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And on the reverse side of the princess is her Prince Phillip. Can you believe each of these eggs is between 16 – 20 inches tall and weighs over 9 pounds even though they are hollow? Also, in frame you can see a non-Disney themed egg. There are eighteen eggs on display this year so I couldn’t feature all of them. Though I focused on the Disney eggs there are others that are more traditional or themed after famous works of art. They are all exquisite! Read the rest of this entry »

Even More TouringPlans Content in 2014

by on April 18, 2014 19 Comments

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Original Flavor Unofficial Guide

Original Flavor Unofficial Guide

It started with a book. The Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World. Then TouringPlans.com came online in 2001 covering Walt Disney World and, later, Disneyland. Last year, TouringPlans launched Universal Orlando and Disney Cruise Line.

This year, we want to bring even more trip planning content to you. We are sending researchers out to Disney destinations over the globe, and we’ll need your help deciding the best content to cover. Over the next few months, we’ll be introducing our team, some of whom you already know from the blog, some who prefer to spend time behind the scenes. They will tell you about where we’re sending them, a little bit about their travel parties, and ask what you want to know about planning your own trips there. Nearly everyone (sorry, Morgan!) is going somewhere he or she has never been before. We’ve got whole families, couples, and friends traveling together.

You can even share the experience with us. Read the rest of this entry »

Magic Kingdom FastPass+ Parade and Fireworks Viewing Tips and Observations

by on April 17, 2014 28 Comments

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FastPass+ parade and fireworks viewing tips

Get a VIP view with FastPass+ parade and fireworks viewing areas at the Magic Kingdom (photos by Seth Kubersky)

Welcome to the future of fireworks and parades at Walt Disney World! In recent weeks, as the final rollout of FastPass+ has concluded in the Disney World parks, I’ve been sharing my experiences using the system as an Annual Passholder at Epcot, as well as at Disney’s Hollywood Studios and Disney’s Animal Kingdom. Since my last post, FastPass+ has been fully implemented for all Disney World guests, including day-guests not staying on Disney property, and I’ve finally had the opportunity to experience one of the most controversial aspects of the new system. Without further ado, here are my FastPass+ parade and fireworks viewing tips, based on my personal observations at the Magic Kingdom.

 

Festival of Fantasy FastPass+ Parade Viewing

When the features of FastPass+ were first announced, the private reserved viewing areas for parades and other spectaculars were the aspect I was most skeptical (even cynical) about. Personally, such performances are usually very low on my priority list during a park visit for several reasons. Most of the parades had grown quite stale to me from years of over-exposure, I have an aversion to spending valuable touring time staking out a spot of asphalt just to get a good view, and I can’t abide being crammed like sardines in the crowd that accompanies the procession. So I would normally use that time to take advantage of marginally shorter queues at my favorite attractions. If I did want to see a parade, I’d typically walk up a minute or so before it started, and make do with a partial view blocked by the sea of shoulder-sitting small-fries in front of me. With a limit (soon to be lifted) of only 3 FastPass+ reservations per day, I couldn’t see myself “wasting” one on something like a parade when Space and Splash are beckoning.

This is currently the closest you can get to Anna and Elsa from Frozen without a mult-hour wait for their meet & greet.

 

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Obervations: Epcot April 10, 2014

by on April 17, 2014 6 Comments

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Date: April 10, 2014
Crowd Level: 3
Weather: 77°F at 5 p.m. with no rain

It’s time for a walk around Epcot during the middle of what is Spring Break season down here. I actually started out in Future World this time around, which is kind of rare for me as I like to come in the back gate at the International Gateway. I took some shots of the entrance topiary, but instead of focusing on the characters I wanted to catch the riot of wildflowers around them. To my surprise, there are glass flowers intermingled with real flowers, and they’re fantastic! Here are a few shots.

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Tours of Epcot: Behind The Seeds

by on April 16, 2014 26 Comments

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Do you love Living With The Land at Epcot? I don’t know what it is about this quiet, little boat ride that holds my attention. Maybe it’s the fact that it’s one of the few attractions that still feels like the Epcot from my childhood. The Behind The Seeds Tour at Epcot offers guests the chance to walk through the greenhouses seen on the boat ride and take a closer look. While just taking a stroll through this location is worth the price of admission, the tour offers some great “edutainment” about the future of gardening. 

To sign up you simply need to purchase tickets at the desk in the Soarin’ boarding area. We’ve done the first tour of the day in the past for fear they would sell out. However, this time we showed up just 30 minutes before the last tour of the day and were able to join with no issue. Then we just had to meet back by the desk five minutes before our tour time. The below information contains lots of spoilers about the tour. If you’d like to be surprised, you might want to scroll down to the bottom past the numbered sections.

The tour begins when your guide whisks you to a backstage location to explain the tour rules. First, guests are encouraged to ask as many questions as they can. Your tour guide is normally an intern here on the college program with a shocking amount of botany knowledge. I was very impressed with our guide and the frequent questions she was able to answer! Rule number two is that photography is not only allowed, it’s encouraged! I was excited about that one because I often get lectures on tours because they see my big camera coming. It was nice to be welcomed despite the fact that we were in backstage areas. The final rule is the most important: do not touch any plants. This one seemed obvious to me, but what I hadn’t thought of the reason they make this request. In the greenhouse they have exotic plants from all over the world that many people have never been exposed to, and likely will never be exposed to again. The Behind The Seeds Tour at Epcot is not a great time to find out you’re wildly allergic to some rare plant! So that no touching request is just as much to protect you as it is the plants.

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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 11 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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