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Periscope in the Parks: A Beginner’s Guide

by on July 21, 2015 9 Comments

As one of the lucky people who gets to share real-time experiences at Walt Disney World through the TouringPlans Twitter account, I love the ability to share random thoughts and pictures with people from around the world. During Star Wars Weekends, while I was finishing up my day, someone asked through Twitter if I was going to use Periscope app to broadcast the Symphony in the Stars fireworks. Although I had never used Periscope before, and didn’t even have it installed, I agreed — just to see if I could make it happen. Well, less than an hour later, I was sharing some of the best fireworks that the Studios has to offer with dozens of online viewers. Since that time, I have shared live attraction videos, parades, shows, and other events with hundreds of viewers at a time. I’ve also watched the number of people using Periscope to broadcast grow substantially, both in the parks and around the world.

A screen shot from a Periscope broadcast of Illuminations shows some of the limitations of the app: lower-resolution video and portrait format instead of landscape. (Photo by Julia Mascardo)

A screen shot from a Periscope broadcast of Illuminations shows some of the limitations of the app: lower-resolution video and portrait format instead of landscape.  (Photo by Julia Mascardo)

Although streaming live video is not a new creation, Periscope’s ease of use for both broadcasters and viewers, combined with being a free service that does not flood the feed with advertising has made it instantly popular. At any given time, people from around the world are sharing what is going on in their lives, whether interesting or incredibly mundane. For example, as I’m typing this early one morning, someone is broadcasting a yoga class. Another person will write your name in Arabic as you watch. Morning network TV shows are broadcasting behind-the-scenes videos from the station. And then you’ve got someone broadcasting making morning coffee, someone opening a package they’ve received in the prior day’s mail, a person walking their dog, and even someone doing confessions about their previous night’s exploits.

From Disney itself, I’ve been able to see every parade, fireworks show, some attractions, and even just people walking around or eating a meal, all in real-time. Like any new technology, there’s still a bit of a learning curve, and some of my broadcasts have been more to test the limits of this system. Here’s some of the pros and cons I’ve found using Periscope.

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Disney World Crowd Calendar Report – July 12 to 18, 2015

by on July 21, 2015 1 Comment

The Disney World Crowd Calendar did a great job last week. Among the 28 predictions for seven days worth of crowd levels at four parks, only four predictions missed by more than one index level. For each miss, crowds were lower than expected, a good sign for guests to Disney World this July.

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

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Disneyland Crowd Calendar Report – July 12 to 18, 2015

by on July 21, 2015

Crowds were up at Disneyland Resort last week as the resort celebrated its 60th anniversary. However, on the day of the anniversary itself the park wide crowd level was a ‘7’ as predicted by the Disneyland Crowd Calendar. Wednesday and Thursday saw the peak waits of the week at both parks.

Let’s look at how the crowd levels stacked up each day last week on the Disneyland Resort Crowd Report:

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Universal Crowd Calendar Report – July 12 to 18, 2015

by on July 21, 2015

Last week Universal Orlando parks saw crowds that matched typical summer levels. The Universal Crowd Calendar predicted crowd levels in the range of ‘6’ through ‘9’ which ended up being accurate except for Sunday when Islands of Adventure dipped to a level ‘5’.

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

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Fall Room-Only Disney Discounts Released Today

by on July 20, 2015 2 Comments

New Disney Dollars Series

Save some of these this fall with new discounts. ©Disney

Thanks for Sue Pisaturo at Small World Vacations for the heads up on new Disney discounts.

This offer is called “Fall Room Savings” on the Disney web site.

Booking window – July 20 to September 18, 2015.

For travel – October 4 – November 24, and November 28 to December.

Discount depends on travel dates:

For Oct. 4-10, Oct. 16-17, Oct. 23-31 and Nov. 8-21, 2015:

  • Save up to 10% at Select Value Resorts
  • Save up to 15% at Select Moderate Resorts
  • Save up to 20% at Select Deluxe and Deluxe Villa Resorts

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Menu Monday: Whispering Canyon Café Breakfast Review

by on July 20, 2015 4 Comments

Today we are visiting one of my favorite on property breakfast experiences:  Whispering Canyon Café.  I say experience because it is so much more than just a place to eat.  Whispering Canyon is a place to laugh and have a good time.  It is a character breakfast of sorts, but not with your traditional Disney characters and at no additional cost; No Princesses, Mickey, or other Fab Five member here.  The characters I am referring to are the wonderful Cast Member waiters and waitresses.  They bring the restaurant alive, and keep our family coming back for more.

What:  Whispering Canyon Café
Where:  located directly off the lobby of the Wilderness Lodge
When:  Breakfast is served every day 7:30-11:30am
“The goings-on can get a little loud, and that’s just the way we like it.”

To play or not to play.

To play or not to play.

Our last waitress, M.T., was a real hoot.  We had a blast with her sarcastic humor.  She knew how to work her “audiences” as well.  She could read the patrons at her table perfectly and acted accordingly.  The table to our left was a family with 3 children.  She joked with the children and even put one of them “in jail”.  The large table to our right was not in the mood for fun.  They had clearly just come to eat breakfast and not partake in any of the shenanigans.  M.T. reacted accordingly and they got your normal no-fun-all-business waitress.  They were perfectly content.  We have a darker sense of humor and she seemed to tune right in to it.  We were in stiches before our order was even taken.

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Menu Monday: Boma Breakfast Review

by on July 20, 2015 4 Comments

Boma SignLooking for the best breakfast spot in all of Disney World? Look no further than the Boma breakfast buffet at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge. Nestled in a quiet spot on the first floor of Animal Kingdom Lodge’s Jambo House, you will find this hidden gem. Known for its delicious as well as adventurous dinner buffet complete with the famous Zebra Domes, many guests are unaware that a spectacular breakfast is also served here. The Boma breakfast buffet offers an amazing variety of tasty foods so even the most picky of eaters, like myself, can find plenty of things to try. Boma is my family’s favorite breakfast place in Disney World and when we visited again last month, it did not disappoint!

Thinking of checking it out for yourself on your next Disney World vacation? Read on for everything you need to know about the Boma breakfast buffet.

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SATURDAY SIX SHARK SPECIAL: Six Reasons Universal Fans Are Gonna Love Sharknado 3

by on July 18, 2015 2 Comments

This week’s SATURDAY SIX takes a look at Six Reasons Universal Fans Are Gonna LOVE Sharknado 3. Unlike some other “Studios” in Orlando (wink wink), Universal Studios Florida continues to be a working production studio for film and television. What do The Godfather, Jaws, and E.T. have in common? None of them were filmed at USF, but you know what was? Bring It On: In It To Win It, Psycho IV: The Beginning, and Ace Ventura Jr: Pet Detective. That legacy of fine filmmaking continues this very week as on Wednesday, July 22nd at 9/8c the Syfy network will air Sharknado 3: Oh Hell No! which had several scenes shot at the Universal Orlando Resort!

For this special edition of the SATURDAY SIX we had to look beyond our usual gang of theme park titans and instead pluck an expert who can not only cut his chops at Universal and Disney, but also wines and dines with the Hollywood Elite. Allow us to introduce BANKS LEE. You probably know Banks from his various duties including host of Attractions Magazine: The Show, treasured podcast guest, videographer, editor, and actor. That’s right, actor. And one of the things Banks used his thespian skills in was a little movie named Sharknado 3.


Strap yourselves in folks, as we are handing the SATURDAY SIX reigns over to Banks as he tells us exactly why Universal fans are going to LOVE Sharknado 3, starting with…

# 6 – Bruce the Shark gets a cameo

Honestly, how could you have a Sharknado film take place at Universal without having the symbol of the iconic Jaws ride and beloved Amity area make a cameo? Though there was a chance of it not happening. According to the director Anthony Ferrante, in order to film a scene at the Bruce photo-op, they had to get permission from Steven Spielberg’s Amblin Entertainment. Thankfully Amblin gave the production crew clearance to film the world’s most famous shark, and the scene will also feature another cameo in the form of Jerry Springer playing a manic tourist.

SHARKNADO 3: OH HELL NO! -- Pictured: Jerry Springer as Manic Tourist -- (Photo by: Raymond Liu/Syfy)

SHARKNADO 3: OH HELL NO! — Pictured: Jerry Springer as Manic Tourist and Bruce the shark as “Bruce the shark.” — (Photo by: Raymond Liu/Syfy)

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SATURDAY SIX: Six Reasons We Love Disney’s OLD KEY WEST Resort

by on July 18, 2015 8 Comments

This week’s SATURDAY SIX takes a look at Six Reasons We Love Disney’s Old Key West Resort. One of Walt Disney World’s biggest strengths against all of its competitors is the wide variety of unique resorts it has on property to offer guests. We’ve covered several here on the SATURDAY SIX including Value Resorts such as Art of Animation and Pop Century, Moderate Resorts with Port Orleans French Quarter and Riverside, and Deluxe Resorts including the Contemporary. While our reviews on both Animal Kingdom Lodge and BoardWalk Inn & Villas included a Disney Vacation Club component, today we are going to take a look at our first DVC exclusive resort with Old Key West.



In fact, Old Key West was the very first Disney Vacation Club resort built at WDW. Originally named Disney’s Vacation Club Resort in 1991, it wasn’t until 1996 when the name was changed to Old Key West. With its pastel colored buildings and lush vegetation throughout, the resort definitely stands out from the other hotels on property. When Walt Disney said “Here in Florida, we have something special we never enjoyed at Disneyland…the blessing of size” he may have been foreshadowing Old Key West, as the resort itself is massive.


Welcome to Conch Flats, the mythical town of Disney’s Old Key West Resort.


With the sprawling size comes some downsides, including many rooms being quite far away from the check-in area and several of the resort’s amenities. There is an internal bus system, and the grounds are gorgeous to walk across, but it may be a shock to guests who have not stayed at such a large resort. Thankfully the TouringPlans Hotel Room Request will help make getting a room closer to front easier, but it is still something to consider. That said, the size of Old Key West is also a positive, as it is one of the best places at WDW to spend time at outside of the parks because there is so much to do. So sit back, grab a plate of conch fritters and an ice cold margarita and let’s begin counting down our top six reasons we love OKW starting with…

# 6 – The Sandcastle Pool Area

Anyone who travels with their family on vacation knows how important pools are when it comes to selecting a resort. For our family, pools with slides now rank above any E-Ticket attraction or dining experience at WDW. Old Key West has a total of 4 pools spread out across property, but the Sandcastle Pool located by the front of the resort is where you want to be. In this area you’ll find the main pool along with its incredible 125 foot waterslide and a plethora of  nearby activities. There are several play areas for the younger set, a whirlpool spa, a sandy beach, and even a themed sauna!


The Sandcastle Pool at Disney’s Old Key West Resort.


Theming around the Sandcastle Pool.

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In Case You Missed It: Disney News and Rumors – Week of July 17, 2015

by on July 17, 2015 5 Comments

ICYMIHappy Birthday Disneyland!  It’s a glorious day! What is your favorite memory from visiting Disneyland? I personally have quite a few, but I think my favorite is when I finally got on my first Disneyland attraction, Peter Pan’s Flight! I was so excited to finally be there.

This week, we have a non-spoiler review of Ant-Man, looks at Shanghai Disneyland and a celebration of the park that started it all.

In Case You Missed It – Disney and Universal Orlando News and Rumors


Speaking of Disneyland’s 60th, The Wall Street Journal takes a fond look back at the park we all know and love that started it all.

Also, here are 60 things you may not know about Disneyland. Read the rest of this entry »