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Universal Orlando Resort Crowd Report – November 9 to 15, 2014

by on November 19, 2014 2 Comments

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Our predictions last week told us that Universal crowds would be about average the first half of the week then very low for the second half. We were half right. Crowds were low all week. In fact, last week constitutes some of the lowest crowds we’ve seen over a seven day period at Universal Orlando Resort.

Let’s look at how the crowd levels stacked up each day last week on the TouringPlans.com Universal Orlando Resort Crowd Report:

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Disney World Crowd Report – November 9 to 15, 2014

by on November 19, 2014 7 Comments

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Our resort level predictions for the days around Veterans Day hit the mark but last week was marred by the largest surprise crowd at Magic Kingdom that we have ever seen. About 4% of the time we expect our crowd calendar park level predictions to miss by more than two index levels, about 1% miss by three or more. Never has our Magic Kingdom prediction missed by five levels as it did on Saturday. Last year’s crowd on the same day was a level ’3′ at the Magic Kingdom. We are still not entirely sure what caused the influx of guests to Magic Kingdom on Saturday but judging by the crowd levels since then, it appears to be an isolated occurrence.

Let’s look at how the crowd levels stacked up each day last week on the Touringplans Disney World Crowd Report:

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5 Essential Tips for Dealing with the Rain at Disneyland

by on November 19, 2014 2 Comments

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Rainy  Disneyland 1

Rainfall at Disneyland. Copyright- Disney

 

Southern California is a vacation paradise. Your average temperature–year round– is mid to high 70s and clear skies. It is the perfect location for a Disneyland Resort vacation. Unfortunately the only real obstacle you cannot prepare for–when you go on vacation–is the weather. You can gauge what the weather will be like in any particular month but you will not truly know until the week before we leave for your vacation.

Even though it hardly rains in Southern California there are still rainy seasons. The rainy season starts in October and ends in April. But I know most of you are not going to completely avoid those rainy season months just because of some rain. So, what is your plan of attack when you are on your vacation and it is raining at the Disneyland Resort? Below I have put together 5 essential tips for dealing with the rain when you are at the Disneyland Resort.If you are interested in tips on how to deal with the rain at Disney World, our other writer Daisy has an excellent article on that particular topic. Read the rest of this entry »

Using an iPhone 6 Plus at Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom

by on November 18, 2014 10 Comments

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iPhone 6 plus Magic Kingdom

Find out how the iPhone 6 Plus holds up at WDW’s Magic Kingdom (images by Seth Kubersky)

It took nearly two months of waiting, but my precious pre-ordered iPhone 6 Plus finally arrived last week. And where was one of the first places I took it? Why, Walt Disney World, of course! When Apple’s supersized smartphone debuted back in September, this Techcrunch article on using the new “phablet” inside Disneyland caught my eye. Since theme park reporting is one of the primary reasons I upgraded my iDevice, I wanted to write this companion piece sharing my initial experiences using the iPhone 6 Plus at WDW’s Magic Kingdom.

Size

Yes, the iPhone 6 Plus is freaking ginormous, especially for the first few hours you hold it. Then it starts to seem normal, and your old phone begins to look puny in comparison. While riding attractions, the phone fit fine in the front pocket of my not-so-skinny jeans, and emerged again afterwards with nary a bend in sight.
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#Everywhere – A Review of the Anaheim Camelot Inn & Suites

by on November 18, 2014 4 Comments

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Exterior (6)On my recent trip to Disneyland we stayed at the Anaheim Camelot Inn & Suites, which is outside the resort area, but by only a little bit. We chose this particular hotel because we were told it was clean and that it was definitely close to the parks. We found both of those things to be true and were, for the most part, impressed with the property. Of course, there is a little more to it than that, which is good because this would be a very short post otherwise.

The Price

For many travelers, the cost of the hotel is the largest single expense. The Camelot cost us an average of $150.93 per night, which meant our 6 night stay cost $905.58 (including tax). Here is how that number compares to some of the Disney hotels in both California and Florida for the same dates (Prices found on MouseSavers.com):

  • Camelot Inn – $151 per night
  • Disneyland Hotel – $455 per night
  • Paradise Pier Hotel (Disneyland) - $342 per night
  • Grand Californian Hotel (Disneyland) - $526 per night
  • All-Star Sports (Walt Disney World Value Resort) - $124 per night
  • Caribbean Beach (Walt Disney World Moderate Resort) - $217 per night
  • Beach Club (Walt Disney World Deluxe Resort) – $494 per night

Now all of those are the full price rate, most of which can be discounted with various promotions, but it is still illuminating. The cost for the Camelot was less than half the price of the closest Disneyland on-property hotel (Paradise Pier) and right in between the cost for a Walt Disney World Value and Moderate. Read the rest of this entry »

#Everywhere – 3 Reasons To Give Hong Kong Disneyland A Chance

by on November 18, 2014 4 Comments

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I love Disney. (Big surprise there.) I love Disney parks. But like I suspect many Disney fans, Hong Kong Disneyland has never really been on my radar. I live in Tokyo, so I visit Tokyo Disneyland/DisneySea every chance I get, and I grew up with the parks in the US, but when I was first told that I was heading to Hong Kong for my TouringPlans Everywhere trip, my first response was:  “Oh that’s right, they have a Disney too.” I didn’t know much about it, so I did what I always do when confronted with the unexpected – lots of internet research!

Before long I felt I knew what to expect from my Hong Kong Disneyland trip…and what I expected was to be kinda bored. I had discovered the following:

  • Hong Kong Disneyland Resort is one park. One castle park. There are so few rides that the map lists a garden area with benches and a few classic optical illusions as a major attraction for one area.
  • Classic attractions such as Pirates and the Haunted Mansion are missing, to the point that Fantasyland has only one dark ride. Yeah, that’s right.
  • There are only two – count ‘em – TWO rides in the whole park that even offer FastPass. (Space Mountain and Winnie the Pooh, in case you were wondering) Which you can only get one of at a time.

Sure, Mystic Manor looked great, and Toy Story Land was interesting though I didn’t plan on riding any of the surely nausea-inducing rides. But after I’d looked around, I wasn’t sure what else I’d end up doing. Maybe hanging out at the hotel pool? (And isn’t the Hong Kong Disneyland Hotel just a copy of the Grand Floridian anyway?)

But it turns out that while all of the above facts are true, they don’t really sum up the resort, which was a lovely, thoroughly entertaining surprise. I don’t have room to do everything justice, but here are the three main reasons why Hong Kong Disneyland Resort ended up being a great vacation getaway for our family:

It’s beautiful. We were there during the protests and so didn’t venture off property too much, and I have to say the part of the city where the airport is isn’t the most impressive sight. However, the landscape of the island…well, here’s the “bad, cheap view” from my hotel room:

Not a parking lot.

Not a parking lot.

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Video: 2014 Jingle Cruise at Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom

by on November 18, 2014 6 Comments

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2014 Jingle Cruise

All aboard the 2014 Jingle Cruise at WDW’s Magic Kingdom with two complete POV videos (images by Seth Kubersky)

‘Tis the season to deck the jungle with holly — and hammy jokes — as the 2014 Jingle Cruise is now underway at Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom. Last week, the seasonal overlay to the Jungle Cruise returned for a second annual run, this time with some notable upgrades.

Last year’s inaugural Jingle Cruise was criticized for confining the custom scenery largely to the Jungle Cruise’s boathouse queue, and for some jokes that were staler than fruitcake. As you can see in the following Jingle Cruise POV videos, more holiday decor has been installed along the riverbanks, and the spiel has been adjusted appropriately to reflect the additions.

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Surprises #Everywhere On The Disney Dream

by on November 18, 2014 30 Comments

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I had never boarded a cruise ship prior to the TouringPlans #Everywhere event in October, which tasked my family with sailing on the Disney Dream. I had knowledge of Disney Cruise Line from colleagues, relatives, podcasts, and random people in theme parks. Plus, I did the technical work for the Disney Cruise Line portion of the TouringPlans.com website, so I’ve been exposed to plenty of facts about sailing with Disney. Still, Disney Cruise Line (and cruising, in general) was full of surprises for me, some good and some bad. I share some observations as a cruise novice below, well aware of the fact that what suprised me would not have shocked someone more familar with cruises.

Pools are boring.

There’s a pool in the shape of Mickey’s head! Doesn’t swimming in his ear sound great? Well, the pools are tiny and crowded, so you won’t do more than sit or stand. It’s neat that you can watch a movie on the giant Funnel Vision screen while wading, and my kid enjoyed splashing around in the Mickey Pool, but the pools are not at all like the pools at Disney Resort Hotels. That said, the slides are fun, and there are plenty of great swimming opportunities on Castaway Cay and on many shore excursions.

Disney Dream Deck 11

Doesn’t this look fabulous? Looks can be deceiving.

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Disney Cruise Line Testing Palo/Remy Brunch on Nassau Port Days

by on November 17, 2014 6 Comments

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Guests sailing on recent 3-day Disney Cruise Line voyages on the Dream have reported that DCL is now testing brunch service at both Remy and Palo during port days at Nassau, Bahamas. Previously, brunch at these locations had only been offered on days at sea.

Typical Palo brunch offerings.

Typical Palo brunch offerings.

Remy and Palo are the Dream’s premier restaurants, offering enhanced food, beverages, and service for an upcharge over the ship’s other dining venues. Brunch during sea days has typically been popular, often with higher demand than availability.

A few guests have reported seeing booking for this available via their DCL Planning Center online, but this is inconsistent. Others have been told about the expanded dining options while speaking with cast members on board the ship. If dining at Remy or Palo during a port day is something you’re interested in, check your Planning Center frequently and/or stop by Guest Services on your embarkation day to ask about availability.

I’m happy to see Disney attempting to provide more dining choices for guests opting to stay on board during the Nassau port call.

Please let us know if you’re offered Palo or Remy brunch during your Nassau stop on the Dream, or on any of the Disney ships. We’re eager to learn more about this new offering.

Menu Monday: Late Arrival Day Food Choices at Disney World

by on November 17, 2014 10 Comments

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Late Night Castle, perfect sight for late night dining at disney world

Even if you arrive to see this gorgeous sight, it still isn’t too late for you to find a good meal.

The Walt Disney World Resort area has tons of options for dining, from quick service restaurants, places to get snacks, or regular table service restaurants, to fancy, signature dining experiences. However, sometimes there seems to be no options other than the $2 vending machine crackers at your resort, once you’re on the property, especially if you don’t have a vehicle and are relying on Disney transportation. To avoid the stress of trying to track down dining options for your late arrival, I have gathered a listing for restaurants that stay open late, so you can avoid wandering around hungry. In addition, I listed the items available on the menu, written in plain language for easy understanding (i.e., it might be Oak-Grilled Salmon with a Selection of Winter Greens, but I’ll simplify it down to Grilled Salmon). Obviously, both hours and menus are subject to change, but you can check with Cast Members at the park or at your resort upon check in to ensure that these options are still available and open late. Here goes!

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