Your subscriptions support new blog articles and research. Please consider

subscribing.

today.


Top Ten Places to Find Coffee at Walt Disney World

by on July 24, 2014 5 Comments

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Google Plus
  • Pinterest

The Walt Disney World Resort is 47 square miles, which is about the same size of San Francisco. A resort this size is pretty certain to have whatever you might be looking for. For those as addicted to caffeine as I am, my first question in the morning is, “Where’s the coffee?” With this mind, here is my quick and dirty “top ten” guide on where to find coffee at Disney World. Now, this list isn’t all-inclusive, and it isn’t even ranked (who can really say one Starbucks is better than another), but I will give you a list of ten options for you to keep in mind when you’re on your “Where’s Waldo?” search for a tasty cup of Joe.

Starbucks at the West Side of Downtown Disney is easy to spot, next to the Characters in Flight attraction

Starbucks at the West Side of Downtown Disney is easy to spot, next to the Characters in Flight attraction

Starbucks – West Side Downtown Disney: Nestled next to the Characters in Flight balloon launch in Downtown Disney’s West Side, this coffee mecca is pretty easy to find. And the curse/blessing of any chain restaurant is that you know exactly what you’re getting when you order your favorite beverage here. Starbucks regulars can even use their Starbucks gift cards here. What makes this location unique from any other location is the impeccable coffee theming. True to Disney form, you are immersed in coffee culture, so take some time to peruse the walls and learn a bit about this addictive little bean we all love so much. Once you’ve grabbed your beverage, snag a window seat to watch shoppers stroll along or the Characters in Flight balloon lift-off. Or sip while you doodle on the interactive screen. Read the rest of this entry »

Daisy Lauren’s Best Week Ever: July 24, 2014

by on July 24, 2014 12 Comments

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Google Plus
  • Pinterest

Hi, Everyone! Welcome to the Best Week Ever here at Walt Disney World! This week we’ll be visiting the Magic Kingdom to check out progress on all the renovations there then heading over to Downtown Disney to see what’s new. We’ve got a lot to cover so let’s get started with a sunny Saturday morning at Cinderella’s Castle. It looks like it isn’t that crowded from the photo but when I arrived at the gates at 8:45am they’d already started letting people in the park. I knew there was no way I’d get to Seven Dwarfs Mine Train without a long wait so I took my time wandering into the park. 

1

It’s been a while since we’ve been shopping so I stopped into the Emporium. This early in the morning you can see how empty it is in there. You can also hear a bird that flew into the shop and was hanging out!

I also encountered a few of my favorite things on Main Street….

CLICK TO READ MORE

Read the rest of this entry »

#TBT: Club 33 Before the Renovation

by on July 24, 2014 2 Comments

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Google Plus
  • Pinterest

Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, at least I hope Kylene Hamulak thinks so! I loved her throw back Thursday article so much I decided to share one of my own. This time visiting Disneyland’s Club 33 before the much debated renovation. I thought now was a great time to preserve the information in case the club emerges nothing like it was in the past. Now, I must apologize for the photo quality. Back in 2011 I hadn’t picked up photography as a hobby just yet. That plus my hands trembling with excitement led to some pretty sad results!  If you want to see (always) amazing photos, check out this old post by THE Tom Bricker.

I’ll never forget how nervous I was that day! I couldn’t think about anything else and I made my hubby push the button to check us in. When they first opened the door and we stepped inside, I immediately snapped a photo of the inside of that door! I’d been waiting so long to see it! It was surprisingly… red. Actually the entire entry was a bright red color with a lovely staircase directly in front of us and the French lift on the right. Maybe I remember that color so well because all my photos are just a smeared mess of that red! ;) We asked to take the French Lift up to our table and it’s really as tiny as people say.

Below is my first photo of the day that turned out. Once we sat down I took a deep breath and photographed everything on the table. Our server tried to unfold my napkin to place it on my lap and was a little confused when I stopped her. I was worried she’d think we were “that” kind of table but it ended up that she was really lovely and appreciated how much we treasured being there.

1 1a

After taking a few minutes to appreciate the dining room we thought we should grab something to eat. When we were at Club 33 you not only got to order from a gourmet menu, there was also a buffet to start your meal. The options were immense with cheeses, seafood, meats, salad, fruit, soups, and more. I wonder if this tradition will continue with the new club? It was an amazing way to start off your meal! Read the rest of this entry »

New Universal Orlando Wizarding World Two-Park Touring Plans

by on July 23, 2014 8 Comments

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Google Plus
  • Pinterest
Gringotts Queue

Learn everything you’ve always wanted to know (but were afraid to ask) about visiting both Gringotts and Hogwarts with our new Wizarding World two-park touring plans! (photos by Seth Kubersky)

A few days ago, we published our newly updated Universal Studios Florida touring plans, which provide step-by-step instructions for tackling Diagon Alley and the crowds at the Gringotts bank ride with maximum efficiency. Those guides are now available as premium touring plans that can be copied and edited in Lines, with versions for Early Entry guests and for those staying off-site.

Today, we’re following up with the first installment of our most frequently requested touring plan: one-day/two-park plans covering both sides of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. These new plans cover both Universal Studios Florida and Islands of Adventure. They feature all Harry Potter attractions (including rides on the Hogwarts Express in both directions) in a single day, and assume you have a Park-To-Park (Universal lingo for “parkhopper”) ticket.

[Note: If you caught the early edition of this post, you may notice that the touring plans have changed slightly. Using the latest data crunched overnight, we've tweaked the morning attraction order to squeeze in one extra attraction! Similar upgrades have already been made to the premium one day USF/Diagon Alley plans we've previously published. You're welcome!]
. Read the rest of this entry »

Disney Cruise Line Alaska Quick Tips

by on July 23, 2014 2 Comments

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Google Plus
  • Pinterest

Ahoy mateys! I’m back from my first trip to Alaska via Disney Cruise Line. In upcoming posts, new Touring Plans blogger Kristi Fredericks and I will be back with tips on activities, excursions, and pre/post cruise hotel options. But in the meantime, I thought I’d share a few quick tips to whet your whistle, pique your interest, and otherwise get you ready for the frozen fun ahead.

IMG_1580

Vancouver

  • The Disney Wonder port terminal is directly adjacent to Canada Place, a large convention center. Several of the Canada Place coffee shops and snack bars offer free WiFi to their customers. If you’re in need of a last minute Internet fix, grab a cup of coffee with a view of the ship before heading into the terminal where online access can be spotty.
  • A primary attraction at Canada Place is “FlyOver Canada.” This is Soarin’, but with footage of Canadian points of interest rather than shots of California. It ain’t cheap (adults are $19.95, students over age 18 are $17.95, and kids are $14.95, plus tax) for a 10-ish minute ride, but the Disney geek in me felt compelled to compare/contrast the experience to that at Epcot and Disney’s California Adventure. The similarity to Soarin’ was almost shocking; the seating is the same, the lift is the same, even the pre-show safety video is similar. My husband and daughter ended up preferring Soarin’ because the music is better and they like the Smell-O-Vision orange groves in the California version, but I (please don’t take away my WDW annual pass when I say this) think I prefer the Canadian experience. The wind simulation is used to better effect in Canada, the screen is wider/taller in Canada, and most importantly, the film print is totally clean in Canada, so your immersion in the experience is not diluted by specks of dust flying over the countryside.
  • The Granville Island market is a must-do for any Vancouver visitor, but Disney geeks will find special pleasure in knowing that among the displays of fresh salmon, spiced nuts, and exotic fruits, you can find a vendor selling actual real live Dole Whip. Look for a vendor called The Milkman. Enjoy!
Dole Whip in Vancouver

Dole Whip in Vancouver

  • Unlike the somewhat confusing and inefficient town to airport public transportation options in my home town of New York, the Vancouver public subway/rail system is easy to understand, clean, and efficient. If you’re not burdened by copious amounts of luggage, the easiest/fastest/cheapest way to get from the airport to the port is likely public transit. Direct point to point takes about 25 minutes and costs about $7.00, depending on the day of the week.
  • At the Vancouver airport, the international departures area near gates numbered in the 70s and 80s currently features several large display cases with vintage Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, and Pluto toys dating from the 1930s to present day – think variations on Pez and Happy Meal offerings, but hundreds of them.
  • The Starbucks in the Vancouver airport (and presumably elsewhere in the region) serves an uber-Canadian treat, the Maple Macchiato. It’s like a vanilla macchiato, but with an ample drizzle of maple topping made with “real Canadian Maple Syrup found from the Beauce-Appalanche region of Quebec.” Presumably this is no great shakes for you native Canadians out there, but honestly, this small detail was the thing that made this American most feel like Canada was actually another country.
  • The Vancouver airport will not allow you to check in on site prior to three hours before your trip. Nor, for international flights, will they allow you check in when there are fewer than 60 minutes before your flight. Timing is critical here.

Read the rest of this entry »

Enhancing Fireworks Displays at Disney Parks

by on July 23, 2014 8 Comments

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Google Plus
  • Pinterest

FireworksSummer is here, and by now hopefully everyone has had a chance to enjoy a fireworks display. I got a chance to enjoy the fireworks in a small Colorado town on the 4th of July. My friends’ house had a great view of the town’s fireworks display from their back deck, so all we had to do was sit down and enjoy!

I did notice that something was missing. While the display was an impressive sight and had a variety of fireworks, there wasn’t really any plan to the show. One shot went up. BOOM! Another shot went up. BOOM! Oh – here’s a change of pace - two going off at the same time! BOOM BOOM! The only time the show really ratcheted it up was at the end, when the sky was smothered with all of the fireworks they had left.

Was your viewing of fireworks the same as mine? Did you feel like it was missing…well…a little Disney magic? Read the rest of this entry »

Disney World Summer Tips: Keeping Cool in the Kingdom

by on July 23, 2014 10 Comments

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Google Plus
  • Pinterest
BoardWalk sunrise Disney World

As the sun rises over Walt Disney World, prepare yourself to beat the heat

Though it’s no secret that Florida summers can be hotter than the surface of the sun, it’s also one of Walt Disney World’s busiest seasons. There’s no way to avoid the high temperatures, but there are some things you can do to plan for hot fun in the summertime. As a follow up to TouringPlan’s previous Disney World summer tips, here are some additional ideas to keep you cool in the kingdom!

 

Read the rest of this entry »

Shocking Savings of a Universal Orlando Annual Pass

by on July 23, 2014 8 Comments

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Google Plus
  • Pinterest
Universal AP

Universal Annual Passes are a great way for even infrequent guests to save money.

We have been vacationing to Florida for the past seventeen years; visiting Universal Orlando Resort on each trip. During this time, it had never occurred to me to purchase an annual pass. After all, annual passes are more for those people who live close and can visit many times in the same year, right? I couldn’t have been more wrong.

It wasn’t until recently that I discovered the potential savings of purchasing an annual pass for Universal. The annual passes can be a money saving option for people visiting as few as two days. Not only do you get unlimited day passes to the parks, but you also get free parking, discounts on food, merchandise, admission and special event tickets, and onsite hotel discounts.

Read the rest of this entry »

Disney World Crowd Report – July 13 to 19, 2014

by on July 22, 2014

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Google Plus
  • Pinterest

Summer-like crowds have arrived. We saw above average crowds most of last week including some higher wait times at The Studios than we have seen at that park in a while. Elsewhere, our predictions did very well, missing only once or twice.

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

Walt Disney World Resort Crowd Levels – Daily Breakdown

Sunday, July 13, 2014

  WHAT WE
THOUGHT
WHAT WE
SAW
ANALYSIS
Magic Kingdom
5
5

Sunday’s crowds were surprisingly low at The Studios but as expected at the other three parks. Toy Story Mania’s averaged stayed below 70 minutes while Tower of Terror was only a 34 minute average posted wait. Guests at Star Tours experienced even lower waits, an average of 14 minutes.

Epcot
4
3
Hollywood Studios
6
3
Animal Kingdom
5
5

Monday, July 14, 2014

  WHAT WE
THOUGHT
WHAT WE
SAW
ANALYSIS
Magic Kingdom
8
7

Conversely, Monday’s crowd at the Studios was higher than expected, the first time we have observed that since the spring. Toy Story Mania average posted time reached 83 minutes and Tower of Terror reached 59 minutes. Elsewhere, our predictions all did well with perhaps the exception of Space Mountain where the average posted time was 67 minutes (predicted 58).

Epcot
6
6
Hollywood Studios
5
8
Animal Kingdom
7
7

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

  WHAT WE
THOUGHT
WHAT WE
SAW
ANALYSIS
Magic Kingdom
8
8

No problems with any predictions on Tuesday, we swept the board with only a slight miss at Animal Kingdom. Crowds grew significantly between Sunday and Tuesday.

Epcot
8
8
Hollywood Studios
7
7
Animal Kingdom
8
9

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

  WHAT WE
THOUGHT
WHAT WE
SAW
ANALYSIS
Magic Kingdom
8
6

Predictions did well again on Wednesday although Magic Kingdom wasn’t quite as crowded as expected thanks to lower than expected averages at Big Thunder Mountain Railroad (39 minutes, predicted 67), Jungle Cruise (25 minutes, predicted 40) and Splash Mountain (48 minutes, predicted 62).

Epcot
7
7
Hollywood Studios
8
7
Animal Kingdom
8
8

Thursday, July 17, 2014

  WHAT WE
THOUGHT
WHAT WE
SAW
ANALYSIS
Magic Kingdom
9
8

The Studios stood out again on Thursday with that park’s highest wait times since Easter. Toy Story Mania hit 82 minutes (predicted 62) and Great Movie Ride reached 24 minutes (predicted 19).

Epcot
6
6
Hollywood Studios
6
9
Animal Kingdom
8
7

Friday, July 18, 2014

  WHAT WE
THOUGHT
WHAT WE
SAW
ANALYSIS
Magic Kingdom
7
6

Crowds settled on Friday with no park hitting a level higher than ‘6’ on our scale. Predictions did well across all four parks.

Epcot
6
6
Hollywood Studios
6
6
Animal Kingdom
5
5

Saturday, July 19, 2014

  WHAT WE
THOUGHT
WHAT WE
SAW
ANALYSIS
Magic Kingdom
6
5

Only Animal Kingdom missed by more than one index level on Saturday. There we saw average posted times of 27 minutes for Expedition Everest (predicted 37) and 38 minutes for Kali River rapids (predicted 63).

Epcot
4
4
Hollywood Studios
6
6
Animal Kingdom
6
3
What to Expect This Week
July 20 to 26, 2014
How Crowded is Disney World

How Crowded is Disney World?

Now that crowds have reached typical summer levels we expect to see crowds above average until mid-August.

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.

Disney Discounts with Bounce Back Offers

by on July 22, 2014 2 Comments

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Google Plus
  • Pinterest

t_logo_fbWhat is a Bounce Back Offer?

Are you looking to save money on your trip to Walt Disney World? Of course you are. You already know about the time and money you can save by using this very site, but with the rising cost of a Disney vacation, finding discounts wherever you can is more important than ever.

To keep guests returning for more and more visits, Disney frequently offers incentives that are referred to as Bounce Back specials. These are discounts offered to people while they are still on, and hopefully enjoying, their vacation. The intent of the discount is to entice guests to come back between specific dates and stay on property, not to mention locking people into another Disney vacation.

For quite a while Bounce Back Offers have been a good deal for anyone looking to come back within a year for another Walt Disney World resort stay. The offer flyer (and it’s only found on flyers, not as emails, ads, or smoke signals) can be found in your hotel room, usually placed on the table with other bits of resort-related ephemera.

Read the rest of this entry »