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Disney World Crowd Report – August 17 to 23, 2014

by on August 25, 2014 2 Comments

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Our prediction that summer crowds would dwindle starting last week seems to be well timed. We saw some low crowd levels at Animal Kingdom and Magic Kingdom last week that we haven’t seen since May. Lots of ‘4’s, ‘5’s and ‘6’s elsewhere with only a few minor surprises. Guests using our crowd calendar to plan late August trips will be very happy with the moderate crowds we observed.

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

 

Walt Disney World Resort Crowd Levels – Daily Breakdown

Sunday, August 17, 2014

WHAT WE
THOUGHT
WHAT WE
SAW
ANALYSIS
Magic Kingdom
6
5

We considered Sunday to be the de facto end of the summer break for Disney World guests and the moderate crowds seem to agree. Only Animal Kingdom, which hosted Extra Magic Hour morning hit a level ‘6’ but the average posted time at Expedition Everest was only 25 minutes.

Epcot
4
5
Hollywood Studios
6
5
Animal Kingdom
6
6

Monday, August 18, 2014

WHAT WE
THOUGHT
WHAT WE
SAW
ANALYSIS
Magic Kingdom
6
7

Magic Kingdom and Disney Hollywood Studios edged a little higher on Monday but crowds were mysterious at the Studios. We saw Toy Story Mania hit an average of 91 minutes (a ’10’ on our scale) while Tower of Terror only averaged 41 minutes ( a ‘1’ on our scale). Animal Kingdom was a stark contrast with the lowest crowd level by far, as predicted.

Epcot
4
5
Hollywood Studios
5
8
Animal Kingdom
3
3

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

WHAT WE
THOUGHT
WHAT WE
SAW
ANALYSIS
Magic Kingdom
4
7

On Tuesday, it was Magic Kingdom that stood out with most attractions showing average wait times higher than expected. Splash Mountain averaged 49 minutes (predicted 34), Jungle Cruise 36 (predicted 23) while Big Thunder Mountain Railroad averaged 33 minutes, only one minute lower than the 34 minutes we predicted.

Epcot
7
6
Hollywood Studios
5
5
Animal Kingdom
3
4

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

WHAT WE
THOUGHT
WHAT WE
SAW
ANALYSIS
Magic Kingdom
4
5

Crowds at Magic Kingdom and The Studios settled nicely on Wednesday while Epcot’s wait times went up. Again, average waits at Spaceship Earth are up significantly with an average posted wait of 24 minutes, a ’10’ on our scale while Test Track was way down, averaging a mere 54 minutes, a ‘1’ for that attraction.

Epcot
3
6
Hollywood Studios
5
5
Animal Kingdom
6
8

Thursday, August 21, 2014

WHAT WE
THOUGHT
WHAT WE
SAW
ANALYSIS
Magic Kingdom
6
5

No park hit a level above ‘5’ on Thursday, a sure sign that summer crowds are dwindling. Magic Kingdom hosted Extra Magic Hour morning but only Splash Mountain averaged a posted time above 50 minutes. Our predictions for Buzz Lightyear, Peter Pan, Space Mountain and the Haunted Mansion were all within a couple minutes of what we observed.

Epcot
4
5
Hollywood Studios
4
5
Animal Kingdom
3
4

Friday, August 22, 2014

WHAT WE
THOUGHT
WHAT WE
SAW
ANALYSIS
Magic Kingdom
4
4

Animal Kingdom’s level ‘2’ on Friday was the lowest level we’ve seen at any park all summer. We almost didn’t believe our prediction of a level ‘2’ but the predictions were right, including a 19 minute average at Expedition Everest and a 16 minute average at Kilimanjaro Safaris. Crowds seemed mostly focussed at Epcot and The Studios where we saw ‘6’s, both two levels higher than expected.

Epcot
4
6
Hollywood Studios
4
6
Animal Kingdom
2
2

Saturday, August 23, 2014

WHAT WE
THOUGHT
WHAT WE
SAW
ANALYSIS
Magic Kingdom
4
3

Saturday’s ‘3’ at Magic Kingdom was the lowest we’ve seen at that park all summer as well. Only Peter Pan’s Flight (40 minutes) and Space Mountain (43 minutes) reached average posted times in the 40s while most other attractions averaged posted waits in the 20s.

Epcot
4
6
Hollywood Studios
5
3
Animal Kingdom
4
4
What to Expect This Week
Aug 24 to 30, 2014
How Crowded is Disney World

How Crowded is Disney World?

Now that summer crowds have left, fall crowds have begun and we enter the single best time of the year to avoid crowds at Disney World. The heat will remain but we’ll see average wait times at some attractions reach their lowest point of the past 365 days. Labor Day weekend will bring a small bump in attendance but not enough to push crowds above average for the year.

To see Walt Disney World Crowd predictions for the days of your vacation, check the Crowd Calendar.

To get details about our predictions of future crowds or details about crowds in the past check out the Crowd Calendar and select “Jump to Date” on the left margin.

New Villains’ Sinister Soiree Added to Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party

by on August 25, 2014 22 Comments

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Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party

©Disney

Guests who are looking to add more treats to their Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party experience can participate in the “Villains’ Sinister Soiree: A Wicked Takeover of Cinderella Castle” Dessert Party. The event will include many perks, including a preferred viewing area for the 8:15 p.m. “Mickey’s Boo-To-You Parade,” a preferred viewing spot for “Happy HalloWishes” fireworks extravaganza, as well as a special dessert party at Cinderella’s Royal Table, hosted by Lady Tremaine. The restaurant will be transformed into a villainous atmosphere, with a piano player and haunting solos from Cinderella’s evil step-mother. The dessert party will include over-the-top desserts and non-alcoholic beverages, plus an autograph card and a souvenir Maleficent Dragon cup.

To check in for the event, guests must visit the Will Call booth outside the main entrance of the Magic Kingdom between 4:00 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. Guests may begin checking in at the parade and fireworks viewing area, located in the central plaza by the Castle Forecourt Stage starting at 7:30 p.m. where they’ll receive wristband identification, which must be presented to enter the preferred viewing areas and Cinderella’s Royal Table. The dessert soiree will take place at either 10:15 p.m. or 11:45 p.m., depending on the day. It will take place at both 10:15 p.m. and 11:45 p.m. on September 1, 9 and 12 and at 10:15 p.m. only on September 14, 16, 19, 21, 23, 26, 28 and October 2, 3, 5, 9, 10, 13, 16, 17, 19, 21, 23, 24, 26, 28, 30 and 31.

The cost is $99 per person (ages 3 and up), plus tax (gratuity is included). Admission to Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party is required and not included in the price of the event. Reservations can be made by calling (407) 939-5262.

Menu Monday: Snacks Around the World Showcase – France

by on August 25, 2014

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It’s time to continue to make our way around the World Showcase, sampling packaged snacks that we generally wouldn’t try in our daily lives. If you have been following along, we have already hit JapanCanada, and United Kingdom, trying snacks from a lollipop to chips. There’s more to discover, so let’s head to France to find a French snack to sample!

the iconic spaceship earth from Epcot.

It’s a great day to look for snacks!

Before we go, since we’re on a snacking challenge, let’s make sure we remember the rules:

Snack Rules

  • No snacks over $10; preferably less than $5
  • As unusual as possible
  • Something I personally would eat

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Potty Mouth: Best Restrooms in Disney California Adventure

by on August 24, 2014

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Disney California Adventure

Photo- Ray Castillo Jr.

Now that we, here at TouringPlans, have already highlighted the best restrooms throughout Walt Disney World and Disneyland, it is now time to show some love to Disney California Adventure. While I was visiting my family and friends in Southern California this summer, I had the opportunity to go to the Disneyland Resort to have some fun and do a bit of “research” to find out which Disney California Adventure restrooms are the best. To make my list, I looked for two things: cleanliness of that particular restroom and how much traffic it gets. The cleaner and less crowded, the better. Now, without further ado, I present to you the best restrooms in Disney California Adventure.

Buena Vista Street

  • There is a set of restrooms that you can use right before entering Disney California Adventure. They are located close to the bus stop drop off/pick-up area in the front of the Disneyland Resort. These are great to use before going into any of the parks or leaving for the day to head back to your hotel.
  • There is also a restroom that is hidden right when you enter Disney California Adventure. Head to the left, next to the guest relations area. That is where you will this quiet set of restrooms.

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Magic Kingdom AtMousePhere: The Music of Adventureland

by on August 24, 2014 8 Comments

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Do you hear the sound of drums?

Do you hear the sound of drums?

When people say that they are going on an adventure and want you to help them put a playlist together, what songs would you add? Would it be full of somber, slow, quiet, soothing music? Some smooth jazz, perhaps? Absolutely not! The soundtrack would be full of high-energy, quick-paced, fun music.

That fun music can take a variety of forms. Maybe your adventure soundtrack would be upbeat piano music. Maybe it would be full of international flair. Or maybe it would just be full of drums and other percussion.

Adventureland in Magic Kingdom Park has a lot of different styles in its boundaries – from jungles to desert to the Caribbean coast. But any way you slice it, Adventureland means fun. And fun is what you hear in the background music surrounding the area. Let’s go break down the fun together!

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Crowd Calendar 4 Launched for Universal Orlando and Disneyland Resort

by on August 23, 2014 1 Comment

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New Crowd Calendar methodology arrives at Universal Orlando Resort

New Crowd Calendar methodology arrives at Universal Orlando Resort

 

The methodology used for the TouringPlans.com Walt Disney World Crowd Calendar since November 2013 takes over the Universal Orlando and Disneyland Resort crowd calendars starting today. Crowd Calendar 4 has worked well for Disney World so we are confident it will perform equally well for Universal and Disneyland. See below for a synopsis of how the calendar has performed since November 2013. When we predict the crowd level (between ’1′ and ’10′) we see that about 95% of the time the actual crowd will be within two index points, and about three-quarters (3/4) of the time within one.

 

Disney World Crowd Calendar Error Results since November 2013

Disney World Crowd Calendar Error Results since November 2013

 

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Fear and Trembling: A Chicken’s Review of Big Thunder Mountain

by on August 23, 2014 10 Comments

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“Sometimes there’s a man… I won’t say a hero, ’cause, what’s a hero? But sometimes, there’s a man . . . .. Sometimes, there’s a man, well, he’s the man for his time and place.”

I am not that man.

big.thunder.4

Big Thunder, Big

As I moved resignedly toward the tumblin’ town of Tumbleweed, that sad fact was once again made painfully apparent. My time and place does not involve thrills. Although I’ve never been especially frightened by regular thunder, I have more than my fair share of reservations regarding Big Thunder, and not just of the FastPass+ persuasion. Coffee and creamed-colored crags cast troubled shadows at my feet as we inched closer; it was very clear to me I was in the wrong place. My wife, unfortunately, was not persuaded.

I’ve heard the claim before. Upon our return from a quick Christmastime visit to the Magic Kingdom with my immediate family, my wife and my brother both suggested that Big Thunder Mountain Railroad might actually be an attraction I would enjoy, as it lacked the typical large drops that so twist my stomach in knots—as well as not’s, as in “I’m not going on another of these rides, I’m not going to eat again, I’m not feeling especially manly . . .”, and so on. At this point, my faith in other people’s assessment of whether  or not I will enjoy/survive unscathed any thrill ride has been shaken, not to mention roughed-up and made queasy and more than a little cranky. Read the rest of this entry »

Hidden Details of Animal Kingdom

by on August 23, 2014 2 Comments

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There are many reasons why the Disney Parks stand apart from other theme parks around the world, but one of the biggest has to be Disney’s incredible attention to detail. You can see the extra mile in the form of details just about everywhere on Disney property, from attractions to parade costumes to resorts to transportation to even the bathrooms! Personally, I love the details. They are not only appealing to the eye and fun to find, but almost always meaningful to the history of an attraction or to the story the Imagineers are trying to tell. For today’s post, let’s take a look at the hidden details of Animal Kingdom!

Expedition Everest Height Measurement

Expedition Everest Height Measurement

Over at Asia’s Expedition Everest, be sure to notice the special height measurement for young riders. Only at Disney would the measurement be a giant, wooden Yeti foot! I’ve always thought that Expedition Everest has one of the most clever, detailed themed queues, and this fun detail just proves it!

Inside of the Dinosaur attraction, look up to see red, white, and yellow pipes running through the queue. Chemical combinations are printed on those pipes, which isn’t anything special, unless you realize the combinations are actually the chemical names for ketchup, mayonnaise, and mustard! Weird, right?

Animal Kingdom Harambe Sign - A Glass Slipper Vacation

Animal Kingdom’s Harambe Village

Animal Kingdom’s Africa is meant to look and feel as if you have just walked into a real African village called Harambe. Disney Imagineers really went to new heights with the details here, as Harambe appears lived-in and authentic with thatched roofs, posters for the village’s Harambe Wildlife Preserve, handpainted signs on the sides of local businesses, and so much more. This particular sign welcoming you into Harambe features ads of the village’s establishments, and the lights above it are even rusted to show age. Read the rest of this entry »

Kongstruction: Skull Island Announced, Jurassic Park Arch Removed

by on August 23, 2014 1 Comment

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Kongstruction project 340 Jurassic Park arch

Kongstruction has consumed an iconic Jurassic Park arch at Islands of Adventure (photos by Seth Kubersky)

Well, it looks like the monkey is out of the bag. For months, we’ve been mentioning the movement on Project 340, or as we like to call it, Kongstruction. Universal’s officially unannounced construction in the expansion pad behind Jurassic Park‘s Thunder Falls Terrace at Islands of Adventure recently required the removal of an iconic Jurassic Park archway.

 

The rumors we’ve reported regarding King Kong returning to Universal Orlando in a new attraction located in that plot have prompted some readers to question why the resort would revive a character with no major pop culture presence since Peter Jackson’s 2005 film. As if in response, Legendary Pictures announced at Comic-Con that Skull Island, an original prequel to the Kong mythos, would be released by Universal Pictures on November 4, 2016.
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SATURDAY SIX: Top Six Counter Service Restaurants at the Universal Orlando Resort

by on August 23, 2014 2 Comments

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This week’s SATURDAY SIX takes a look at the Top Six Counter Service Restaurants at the Universal Orlando Resort. Last year we looked at the overall top six restaurants on property, and because both the Three Broomsticks and Fast Food Boulevard made that list, they were ineligible for this one. Speaking of which, later this year when The Cowfish opens in CityWalk we may have to revisit our original list because there have been some pretty impressive venues (including Antojitos and Vivo) who have made quite an impression since their debut. However, today we are looking resort wide for the counter service restaurants that we love the most, starting with….

# 6 – Thunder Falls Terrace (Islands of Adventure)

Thunder1

Thunder Falls Terrace

 

Located in Jurassic Park, Thunder Falls Terrace has several things going for it. The first is its menu. Unlike your typical theme park counter service, this location eschews traditional fare like hot dogs and chicken fingers and instead has items such as charbroiled ribs and rotisserie chicken. It is also one of the only counter service locations where you can get a mixed green salad made in front of your eyes.  There are several large seating areas inside (along with  tables outside as well) with one area has a fantastic view of where the Jurassic Park River Adventure boats splash down. This is even more fun to watch when guests walk by this area not realizing they are about to be in the Splash Zone and get soaked.

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