Did you start your Christmas shopping yet? Here’s the weekly Disney news and rumors wrap up of what you may have missed while you were browsing Amazon trying to figure out what to buy Aunt Susie. You know she’s just going to get you an ugly sweater…again.
In Case You Missed It – Disney News and Rumors
Looking for a fun new distraction for this Friday? I found the Merrier Card Maker which allows you (along with help from some Disney friends) to make a custom card to send to family and friends via social media outlets. With six easy steps, you too can create this fun little e-card and spread the Holiday cheer! (ChEAR?)
Yesterday, I told you about a brand new photo package that will be available at Walt Disney World called Memory Maker. With it, guests will be able to enjoy unlimited downloads of digital photos that were taken during their stay at the Walt Disney World Resort.
We now have a few more details that we wanted to pass along to you.
First, if you decide to pre-purchase the Memory Maker, it will cost you $149.00, which is a savings of $50. (If you purchase the new service at select merchandise locations at Walt Disney World, it will cost $199.00) Once you purchase Memory Maker, you will be able to obtain any photos taken by PhotoPass photographers. Also included will be some candid shots, dining location photos, and attraction photos.
Here is a look at the video that explains in detail what Memory Maker offers.
The process of how it will work seems to be quite easy:
For this week’s Limited Time Magic event at Walt Disney World, Disney is once again offering special tours. During this tour, called A Walk in the Park, guests will be able to partake in a walk through the Magic Kingdom with none other than the Vice President of the Magic Kingdom himself, Phil Holmes.
This unique tour is scheduled for:
Monday, December 9
Tuesday, December 10
Wednesday, December 11
Wednesday, December 18
Friday, December 20
Check in will begin at 7 a.m. and the tour will begin at 7:45 a.m. The tour is scheduled to last one hour and will have attendees learning about how the park still gains it’s inspiration from Walt Disney. There will be 25 guests selected each day.
Weather: High 73, low 61. 64 degrees at around 7 p.m.
Crowd Level: 3
Epcot’s holiday season is fully geared up this week and I decided to take a few hours last night to check out the park’s evening offerings at Holidays Around the World in World Showcase.
Though World Showcase has a whole lot of holiday, Future World is right in the mix with Fab 5 and Bambi-themed Christmas topiaries at the entrance and in the central walkway, a holiday soundtrack for the Fountain of Nations, and a gingerbread village at the Land Pavilion. Because I arrived in the early evening and wanted to get to the Candlelight Processional quickly, I bypassed the Land Pavilion. But I’ll be back. I did take a few minutes to snap some topiary pictures.
While I arrived at the park at about 4:30, a little hiccup with my Annual Pass put me through the gates at about 5:15. Candlelight Processional Shows are nightly at 5, 6:45, and 8:15 p.m., so I knew I’d missed the first one. I did a little shop wandering and finally saw the gift cards with special edition pins that the Parks Blog has been promoting for weeks but that have actually just been put out. The cards are $75 each and there are four pins to “collect”. Here are the Minnie and Mickey. These were available at the Pin Spot just in front of the Fountain of Nations.
Just inside World Showcase, I picked up my Holiday Passport. There may come a day when I don’t get a thrill out of picking these up and getting them stamped, but today is not that day. I only got one stamp this time around, but it’s pretty cute.
The passport has all kinds of great information including showtimes, merchandise offerings and locations, and food and beverage selections for each country. You can also find a shorter offerings summary in the guide brochure available all around the park and here.
I was working my way around the Showcase toward the America Pavilion because I figured I had time to kill. I went left when I reached entrance to World Showcase and walked past Mexico, the Outpost, and Norway. As I neared Germany, I noticed a line. A really, really long line. The end of the line was somewhere mid-Italy while as far as I could tell, the beginning was at the America Gardens Theatre. A kind guest near the end of the line confirmed it was the standby line for the 6:45 p.m. showing of Candlelight Processional.
Candlelight Processional has three showtimes each night at 5 p.m., 6:45 p.m., and 8:15 p.m. I knew that if the standby line was so massive at 5:40 p.m. when the first show hadn’t even ended, it was unlikely that I’d be getting a seat in second show, and possibly in the third. I found out that the likelihood of my seeing the show from the benches was even less when I walked to the America Pavilion and found that guests who had guaranteed seats because they’d purchased a dining package were lined up on the other side of the pavilion in an equally lengthy queue. While those purchasing dining packages do have the right to seats before those in standby, they must line up and wait as well. This differs from shows like Fantasmic where dining packages score you seats at specific shows in specific areas.
Because the narrator was Neil Patrick Harris (likely the reason for the massive crowds for the show – some narrators are much more popular than others), I really wanted to catch at least part of the show. I worked through my problem by going to the Christmas marketplace in the America Pavilion and obtaining a Cocoa Candy Cane (hot chocolate with Peppermint Schnapps) and a gingerbread man.
Here comes a treat tangent. This is the best hot chocolate I’ve ever had. It’s rich, it’s creamy, it’s pepperminty, and it packs a little extra warmth on the tail end that makes everyone’s holiday merrier and brighter. This is, hands down, the best $6.50 (or in my case $13.00) you’ll spend in the parks this season. It’s that good. Mr. Gingerbread was nothing to scoff at either with his surprisingly soft ginger goodness, though I did find myself wondering how many Cocoa Candy Canes his decorator had before picking up the icing bag.
Back to the problem at hand. On the suggestion of a good friend, we huddled into the space behind the theatre ropes at about 6 p.m. to watch the show from there. No, we wouldn’t be sitting down, but according to Twitter the standby line had taken over Norway at that point, so we weren’t going to be sitting anyway. I was a little miffed at first because the view wasn’t so great, but as the show progressed, I thought it was actually a really neat place to watch from because the choir filed in all around us, making for a pretty awesome experience. I took lots of pictures but the show’s lighting and my lack of a bigger lens means they didn’t turn out so hot.
Our view with my friend the inconveniently-placed tree.
The show was wonderful and I would recommend either getting to the venue very early for the first show or getting a dining package around 3 p.m. and lining up around 4 p.m. if the narrator you want to see is wildly popular (Whoopi Goldberg, Trace Adkins, etc.). In any event, maybe swing by the lineup areas just to check before having dinner or getting a Cocoa Candy Cane.
After the show, I moseyed around to the France Pavilion to try the Chocolate Yule Log from the bakery. France has added some festive peppermint and snowflake decorations this year that are kitschy but nonetheless fun.
The Chocolate Christmas Log is offered in France’s bakery, Les Halles Boulangerie & Patisserie (pictured above). Because yule logs are pretty standard (cake plus some kind of cream rolled up and thusly named “log”) I was expecting a pretty tasty snack break in France. I was sadly disappointed when I was handed a box with what I like to term the “Christmas Brick”.
I’m not really a foodie given my mostly pedestrian palate, but I know this: yule logs should have neither mirengue poofy things, nor chocolate fins. They should be moist and sweet and, in this log’s case, chocolatey. The Yule Brick was none of these things. Pretty? Yes. Tasty? No. My friend ate one fork full, tossed the fork and declared, “I’m out.” I suggest skipping the Chocolate Christmas Log in France and subbing in another tasty treat.
Fear not – the night did not end on such a sad note. My Chocolate Christmas Log disappointment was lifted as I walked back to Future World via the main pathway and its fun snowflake topiaries. Nothing can be bad when twinkle lights abound.
I will be back soon to try the other treats and get a glimpse of the Future World gingerbread village. Until then, keep it magical.
Making memories. Making memories. Taking pictures is making memories.
I love that song, and it’s fitting for today because Walt Disney World is rolling out a brand new way of making memories with its Memory Maker package. Part of the MyMagic+ system, this new offering will allow guests to collect, view, download, and share all of their Walt Disney World vacation photos that are linked to My Disney Experience. This system will contain the exact same access to photographs that was once available with Disney’s PhotoPass+, with the main difference being that this system is all digital.
Memory Maker will allow for unlimited downloading of photographs from the My Disney Experience portal. Guests can do this starting from the date the photos were taken until their expiration, which will be 45 days later. Disney’s PhotoPass+ will no longer be sold now that this new evolutionary version is available.
The rate at which an attraction distributes FASTPASSes is a big deal to guests of Disney theme parks. It is also a big deal to the Stats Team here at TouringPlans.com. Not just because we use it ourselves all the time but because it can be a great indicator of crowds at the parks. Fall 2013 has seen systematic changes to some of the FASTPASS Distribution rates. In some cases, drastic changes. With the launch of FastPass+ it was not clear how the distribution of Legacy FASTPASS (the old way) would be affected. Let’s take a look.
Slow-speed Hogwarts Express testing has begun at Universal Orlando’s Wizarding World of Harry Potter (photo by Seth Kubersky)
Exciting news, Harry Potter fans: Hogwarts Express testing has commenced at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Universal Orlando Resort! The iconic Hogwarts Express trains, which were lifted onto their elevated rails in late October, began slow-speed movement tests over the weekend.
It will still be many months before guests get to ride the Hogwarts Express attraction, which is expected to officially debut in June 2014. When complete, the Hogwarts Express will provide transportation between the new Wizarding World of Harry Potter: Diagon Alley expansion in Universal Studios Florida, and the original Wizarding World of Harry Potter: Hogsmeade in Islands of Adventure.
Ordinarily, the Touring Plans team would be the first to bring you footage of the Hogwarts Express testing, but this time our friends at Orlando Attractions Magazine have beat us to the punch (blame our post-Thanksgivukha turkey & latke hangovers). Check out their video below, which also includes some shots of the London Waterfront construction, and check back here often for further PotterWatch progress updates on Universal Orlando’s Wizarding World of Harry Potter.
We all have opinions about proper theme park etiquette.
THIS is the way you should behave in public. THAT behavior is inappropriate. Can you believe he did THAT?
But while some tourist infractions are universally reviled, other perceived transgressions may simply be stylistic matters or mutable cultural differences. And as with any opinion-based topic, there’s bound to be a substantial gray area. What slightly miffs one person might absolutely horrify another. In the interest of promoting discussion, here are some commonly mentioned theme park infractions and my personal assessment of their level of severity.
I’m going to rank items on a scale of 1-5.
1 = Perfectly fine. No bother at all.
2 = Mildly annoying.
3 = Pretty yucky.
4 = Bad. This is really no way to behave.
5 = Really super bad. Just stop now, you’re embarrassing yourself and those around you.
Stopping in the middle of a walkway.
What’s the issue?: You’re lost and need to consult your park map. Instead of pulling over to the side, you stop in the middle of a walkway to get your bearings.
My rating: 2 to 3, depending on the crowd level.
My rationale: When you stop with no warning in the middle of a walkway, the folks behind you have to stop short or possibly run into you, or possible have others run into them. If the park crowds are low, it’s relatively easy for the folks behind you to course correct. If park crowds are high, someone’s going to get hurt. Read the rest of this entry »
The first test recently rolled out at Disney’s Pop Century Resort, but now Disney is ready to start a new version of this testing at all three of Disney’s All-Star Resorts. As part of the MyMagic+ assessment, upon check in at one of these three resorts, guests will be issued only a MagicBand for use throughout their stay at the Walt Disney World Resort.
Join Len Testa and Jim Hill as they discus various pieces of Disney theme park memorabilia. It’s part 1 of a 3-part special edition of Ask Jim Hill! In this episode the guys discuss memorabilia related to the infamous Walt Disney World birthday cake castle, early artwork and plans for Disney California Adventure, and more!