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New My Disney Experience App Hints at FastPass+ Changes

by on April 1, 2014 62 Comments

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Disney released My Disney Experience version 2.1, its mobile application for iPhone, on Sunday. Disney says the new app has 2 features: easier linking of park admission and the ability to manage FastPass+ selection for your friends.

Coincidentally, a copy of the app’s source code fell off a truck in Queens last month, just as I was walking by. It was my lucky day. Turns out there’s some hidden functionality in this version of MDE, which Disney can switch on and off remotely, to change how FastPass+ will function later this year.

Before I go over those changes, here’s a disclaimer: Absolutely no one from Disney’s Decision Science group has ever, in the history of ever, met me at a bar in Winter Park a couple weeks ago with a USB drive full of emails and Powerpoint documents to confirm these changes. I’ve never even been to the Ravenous Pig. You’re watching too much Homeland, okay? Lay off the Showtime.

Now that we’re straight, on with the show.

FastPass+ for Disney Transportation

The new version of MDE lets guests make bus reservations for transportation to and from the theme parks each day. As proof that programmers have humor, it’s called Bus+ in the code. Read the rest of this entry »

Sounds Like Summer Concert Series Returns to Epcot

by on March 31, 2014 3 Comments

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Sounds Like Summer Concert SeriesThe Sounds Like Summer concert series is returning, yet again, starting this June. These fun concerts take place at Epcot’s America Gardens Theatre, which is found at the American Adventure Pavilion. These concerts feature tribute band performers that are extremely talented, singing classic songs you know and love.

Seven acts will light up the stage this year. Each band will perform for a week at a time. This year’s concert line up includes:

  • June 8-14: Hotel California – A Salute to the Eagles
  • June 15-21: Don’t Stop Believin’ – Journey Tribute Band
  • June 22-28: Good Vibrations – A Tribute to The Beach Boys
  • June 29-July 5: Don’t Look Back – Boston Tribute Band
  • July 6-12: Stayin’ Alive – A Tribute to the Bee Gees
  • July 13-19: Slippery When Wet – The Ultimate Bon Jovi Tribute
  • July 20-26: 2U – A Tribute to U2

Show times are at 5:30 p.m., 6:45 p.m., and 8:00 p.m., with the exception of July 4, when show times are at 5:15 p.m., 6:30 p.m., 7:45 p.m., and 9 p.m. Do keep in mind that shows are subject to change.

Best of all, the Sounds Like Summer concerts are included with Epcot admission.

Where’s The Casino On My Caribbean Disney Cruise?

by on March 31, 2014 12 Comments

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Where’s the Casino on my Disney Cruise?

There are some activities many adults consider integral to the cruising experience – hitting up a buffet multiple times a day, shopping for tax free goods in port…and gambling. Those folks will find themselves asking “where’s the casino?” Here is the lowdown on what to expect when you cruise the Disney Magic, Wonder, Dream, or Fantasy on an Eastern, Western, or Bahamas cruise.

Bingo at D Lounge

Bingo at D Lounge

 

You’ve Got To Know When To Hold ‘Em

Welcome to Disney Cruise Line. If you’re booking your first cruise with DCL, you may be surprised to find out there is no casino onboard. What there is is bingo. Don’t scoff. Bingo is seriously fun and you may win some money back onto your onboard account. Bingo is played on both sea days and port days (check your Navigator for times and locations), and both kids and adults can participate. Most people opt for the electronic cards (just sit back and watch them mark themselves off) though purists may choose manual cards with ink stamps. Game play goes quickly though, so we don’t think anyone but a seasoned pro would be able to keep up with more than 1 or 2 manual cards. Each cruise will have a big final big day with a potential (though not guaranteed) $5000 or even $10,000 jackpot.

You’ve Got To Know When To Fold ‘Em

Even if you don’t win cash as bingo, you may win other small prizes like tote bags. Jackpots and crowds get larger as the cruise goes on, so your chances of winning something are better earlier in your itinerary. Other opportunities to win random things onboard include raffles for treatments or cash at the spas on embarkation day. You do have to be present to win. These are usually around 3pm (before the lifeboat drill). If you need baseball caps, bags, or want to participate in another raffle for cash, stop by any Disney Vacation Club presentation – there will be plenty during your cruise. Read the rest of this entry »

Disney World Pick-A Pearl FAQ

by on March 31, 2014 14 Comments

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Have you ever wondered about the big pools of water on the counter in the middle of the Japan Pavilion at Epcot? That’s one of the Pick-A-Pearl stations at Walt Disney World. Here’s what you need to know.

Pick-A-Pearl station at the Japan Pavilion at Epcot.

Pick-A-Pearl station at the Japan Pavilion at Epcot.

What’s a Pick-A-Pearl?

The name is pretty self explanatory. At a Pick-A-Pearl station, you’ll find a large, shallow tank of water with several oysters placed on the bottom. At the station, you choose (“pick”) an oyster to buy. The cast member at the station opens the oyster in front of you, the pearl inside is yours to keep.

Is the Japan Pavilion the only place to do this at Walt Disney World?

There are actually four places to Pick-A-Pearl at Walt Disney World: inside the large Mitsukoshi store at the Japan Pavilion at Epcot, at a kiosk at Downtown Disney near the Pin Traders outpost, at a kiosk at Typhoon Lagoon, and at a kiosk on the pathway just outside the Stormalong Bay pool area at the Yacht & Beach Club resorts. While the general Pick-A-Pearl concept is the same at all the locations, they are operated by different entities, so some details may vary. Read the rest of this entry »

2014 Night of Joy Tickets to go on Sale Soon

by on March 30, 2014 2 Comments

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20140330-152536.jpg

©Disney

Tickets for this year’s Night of Joy event will go on sale tomorrow (March 31).

Single day tickets will cost $59, plus tax, if purchased ahead of time. They will be $69, plus tax, at the door. There will also be a two night ticket option available that will cost $108 for both nights, plus tax, and it will include one day admission to Blizzard BeachTyphoon Lagoon, or DisneyQuest. The two day ticket must be purchased by August 5.

The artists for the event include:

Read the rest of this entry »

Parking Fees Increase at Walt Disney World

by on March 30, 2014 6 Comments

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2014-02-18 09.11Parking fees at the four Walt Disney World theme parks have increased across the board. In addition, valet fees at the Walt Disney World Resort Hotels have also seen a price increase.

At the theme parks, parking has increased by $2. Here is the new breakdown:

  • Automobile, taxi, limo, or motorcycle: $17 (up from $15)
  • Camper, trailer or RV: $18 (up from $16)
  • Bus or tractor trailer: $21 (up from $19)

Do keep in mind that once you pay that rate for the day, you may utilize any of parking lots at any of the four theme parks (just show your receipt). Also, keep in mind that if you are staying at a Walt Disney World Resort Hotel, your parking is complimentary for the length of your stay and valid resort identification is required for the privilege. Annual Passholders also have complimentary parking. Read the rest of this entry »

Innoventions Uncovered

by on March 30, 2014 27 Comments

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In the comments of a recent post, one of our awesome readers asked for an article about Innoventions. This spot is nice for hiding from nasty weather, and most of the exhibits are pretty interesting. Not to mention it doesn’t draw big crowds, making it a perfect spot for the heat of the day. So what’s worth seeing, and what gets a skip? Check out below for my opinions. Let me know what you think in the comments below.

Innoventions West

IMG_1294The Great Piggy Bank Adventure: This one is a must see for me. We even stop by and play pretty often. At the start of this game you are assigned an actual piggy bank that you carry with you through your journey. He is the cutest, fattest little pig! I wish they were for sale! Once you have your piggy bank, you take him through a series of virtual games in your quest to become a financial smarty pants.  If you’d like a sneak peek of The Great Piggy Bank Adventure you can visit online. Game Rating: 9 out of 10.

 

IMG_1292THINK: I’ve been through this exhibit several times, but I still just don’t… get it. There’s a large video wall, a movie that plays on a loop, and touch columns that walk you through an interactive tour. The focus of the exhibit is efficiency and sustainability through technology. Unfortunately, I find this one to be pretty boring and highly skippable. Game Rating: 3 out of 10.  Read the rest of this entry »

The Magic, The Memories, and Merch! March 2014 Photo Report of the Disney Outlet Store

by on March 29, 2014 20 Comments

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MMM positiveWe’ve made it to March, home of Mardi Gras and St. Patrick’s Day, two of the biggest holidays of the year that involve adult beverages. Is it any surprise that with all that alcohol flowing that March is also home to If Pets Had Thumbs Day? While you ponder that existential question, we’re gearing up for our monthly trip to the Disney Outlet Store! This week we’ll be wearing our I Love the Lone Ranger t-shirt, applying our Stitch-in-a-bikini hat pin, and slipping our Mickey Waffle Air Freshener onto the view mirror. Now that we are geared up, it’s time to hit the outlets!

While the month of February had Valentine’s Day, there were almost no items related to the romantic holiday except this Be My Valentine Duffy Bear.

IMG_3231

If Strawberry Shortcake and the bear from the movie Ted had a baby, it would probably look like this.

Read the rest of this entry »

SATURDAY SIX: Six Reasons We Love Epcot’s 2014 Flower & Garden Festival

by on March 29, 2014 3 Comments

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FlowerAndGarden_PanHook

Peter Pan and Hook topiaries at Flower & Garden
(photo by Brandon Glover)

This week’s SATURDAY SIX covers Six Reasons We Love Epcot’s 2014 Flower and Garden Festival. While there are a lot of annual events in Orlando that are near and dear to us for varying reasons (the wild party atmosphere of Mardi Gras, the scares of Halloween Horror Nights, the incredible parade and fireworks of Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party, the food and, uh, wine of Epcot’s Food & Wine Festival), one event stands out from all the rest because it stresses the fact that we should - literally - stop and smell the roses.

That’s right, Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival is back, and this year just may be the best yet. What really makes Flower & Garden special is how amazing it is just to walk around Epcot and take it all in. Most events in theme parks are limited in the size and scope of their overall effect on the individual park, but you can see the beauty and tranquility of Flower & Garden everywhere you go.

This week’s Saturday Six is going to look at six of our favorite parts of this year’s festival, and we’re going to start with one of our favorite subjects: food.

 

# 6 – The Outdoor Kitchens

FlowerAndGarden_Strawberries

Beijing-Style Candied Strawberries, Lotus House ($4.25)

Read the rest of this entry »

Photos: Disneyland’s Springtime Roundup Brings Easter Bunny and More to Big Thunder Ranch

by on March 28, 2014

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DSC01999Bunnies have invaded Disneyland’s Big Thunder Ranch Jamboree. Now through April 20 guests can experience the Springtime Roundup by meeting several Disney bunnies and taking part in some arts and crafts. The characters currently meeting are Mickey & Minnie (in spring outfits), Pluto in bunny ears, Thumper, White Rabbit, Brer Rabbit, and the Easter Bunny. Springtime Roundup is open 10:30 AM to 5:30 PM Sunday through Friday, and 10:30 AM to 5:00 PM  on Saturdays.

 

 

DSC02012Mickey and Minnie in their Springtime outfits.

More pictures after the jump:

Read the rest of this entry »