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Five Things I Learned on my First Disney Cruise Line Concierge Trip

by on September 11, 2017
Filed under: Disney Cruise Line

 

My husband and I just celebrated our tenth anniversary. We wanted to do something special for this milestone, so we booked a concierge room on the Disney Dream for our anniversary weekend. I had actually booked the upgrade as a secret from my husband, so any researching done ahead of time about what to expect was all on me. In short, we had a fantastic time, but there were a few things that I learned on our first time in concierge.

There’s a Lot of Stuff Included

 

Bath robes, slippers, hangers of different sizes. There’s a lot of difference between concierge and non-concierge.

The price difference between the highest-end non-concierge and a concierge room is fairly steep. We booked a category T one-bedroom suite, which we knew would provide us with a lot of space, and we figured there would be some extras. There were quite a few nice touches that don’t often get mentioned, however. In the closet, there were kid-sized hangers and a couple sachets to keep the walk-in closet (yes, you read that right!) from being musty. In addition, there were bathrobes for our use and slippers for us to use and keep. The closet also had a shoe shine tray, in case we had shoes needed to be shined. Because it was our anniversary, we arrived in the room to find a fruit arrangement on our coffee table. There were canned sodas and bottled water already chilling in our fridge. Bagged popcorn for the shows is included. A small internet package (beyond the 50 MB freebie package), included. Sunscreen is available on the sundeck. DVD rentals are included. Beer, wine, some mixed drinks (depending on what the bartender had), better-than-average coffee drinks, snacks (including mini desserts and hors d’oeuvres) throughout the day, unlimited canned soda and bottled water–all included. That doesn’t mention the amazing staff who go well above and beyond.

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Florida Crowd Updates – Coming Soon

by on September 11, 2017
Filed under: Crowd Blog, Universal Orlando Resort, Walt Disney World (FL), Weather

Quick post to let you know we’re currently updating our crowd predictions following Hurricane Irma. We’ll expect some changes as people cancel and reschedule trips.

Please stand by and look for the first updates within 24 hours.

 

 

Face Your Fears at Halloween Horror Nights 2017

by on September 11, 2017
Filed under: Halloween, Universal Orlando Resort

TouringPlans is pleased to welcome back guest author Laurie Breen.

Maybe you’re a fan of classic horror movies like The Shining. Maybe you’ve been riveted by all six seasons of American Horror Story. (Who else is dying for Cult to come out!?) Or maybe, like me, you’ve been to one or two Halloween events and want to find out if you’re brave enough to tackle the biggest frightfest of them all. Well friends, screw your courage to the sticking place and join me on a Halloween Horror Nights adventure.

Where to Start

With 9 haunted houses, a.k.a. “mazes”, and 5 outdoor Scarezones, Halloween Horror Nights is a killer event. First, you’ll want to check out the Halloween Horror Nights (HHN) website. On every page there is a big warning: Halloween Horror Nights is NOT FOR EVERYONE. Universal advises that this “event may be too intense for young children and is not recommended for children under the age of 13.” Not only are there enough ghouls and gore to unsettle the staunchest stomach, there is plenty of revelry among the adult guests. Horror Nights runs on select nights from September 15th through November 4th.

(c) Universal Orlando Resort

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Hurricane Irma – September 11 Update

by on September 11, 2017
Filed under: Universal Orlando Resort, Walt Disney World (FL), Weather 11 Comments

Last update – September 11, 2017, 4:30PM Eastern

News on park hours tomorrow here.

Today is about cleaning up and getting the power back on in Central Florida. We will post as soon as we hear about things reopening.

Hurricane Irma went through Central Florida last night with howling winds, lots of rain, and many people losing power. Irma has been downgraded to the still very dangerous category of tropical storm.

Follow the latest news on Hurricane Irma at the National Hurricane Center.

Florida Airports

Every major airport in Florida is CLOSED until further notice. Orlando, Fort Lauderdale, and Miami are assessing damage.
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Hurricane Irma – September 10 update

by on September 10, 2017
Filed under: Universal Orlando Resort, Walt Disney World (FL), Weather 6 Comments

LATEST HERE

Last update – September 10, 2017, 10:30AM Eastern

For more in depth information on what to expect if you’re in Central Florida during a hurricane, read this article.

Another day, another update. Thanks for sticking with us.

The incredibly slow speed of Hurricane Irma means that the forecast for when it will reach Central Florida keeps getting pushed out. Currently the eye is forecast to reach the Tampa-St. Petersburg area around 2AM Monday. Though it’s counterintuitive that a “slow” storm is worse, it is. You don’t want winds and rain to linger in a area, which is what they’re doing now.

The eye is making landfall in the Florida Keys, but the winds and rain are being felt all the way up the state. Miami is seeing flooding and power outages.

The storm is currently tracking west of the Orlando area. This does not mean there is no danger. The storm could still change directions and the area will still see very high winds and rains.

Follow the latest news on Hurricane Irma at the National Hurricane Center.

Florida Airports

Every major airport in Florida is CLOSED until further notice.

Airports are not set up to take in evacuees in cases of emergency. Read the rest of this entry »

Hurricane Irma – September 9, 2017 Update

by on September 9, 2017
Filed under: Universal Orlando Resort, Walt Disney World (FL), Weather 9 Comments

LATEST HERE

Last update – September 9, 2017, 9:00AM Eastern

For more in depth information on what to expect if you’re in Central Florida during a hurricane, read this article.

Hurricane Irma hit Cuba and the Bahamas overnight. It will hit Miami and South Florida Sunday morning and is forecast to travel up Florida’s west (Gulf) coast.

Follow the latest news on Hurricane Irma at the National Hurricane Center.

Central Florida

Orlando International Airport will close at 5PM on Saturday. The airport is also on Twitter at @MCO. You should contact your airline for information on other cancellations.

Sanford will have its last flight out at 5:15PM and airport operations will cease at 7:30.

Expect much heavier than usual crowds at the airports as people leave Florida.

Parking garages at Orlando, Miami and Fort Lauderdale are at capacity. This is no more onsite parking at these airports.

Tampa will close 8PM Saturday.

Airports are not set up to take in evacuees in cases of emergency. Read the rest of this entry »

The SATURDAY SIX has some Magical Memories after a recent WDW vacation

by on September 9, 2017
Filed under: Resorts, Saturday Six, Walt Disney World (FL) 9 Comments

This week’s SATURDAY SIX takes a look back at its recent WDW vacation! We’re going to take a brief break from our normal routine here on this fine blog series, as we here in Florida are having to deal with Hurricane Irma. In fact, this past Thursday I cut my Walt Disney World stay short in order to drive back down towards the storm and experienced a moment straight out of The Walking Dead. So while we in the Sunshine State are in the process of hunkering down or escaping, we’ll do a quick look back at some things I experienced during my time at The Mouse. This includes my first ever dessert party, my first time riding an attraction that is actually older than me, and a ton of outrageous food. Speaking of which, let’s kickoff the countdown with…

# 6 – The Rio Grande Nacho Challenge at Pecos Bills

For some reason known only to Disney themselves, in the past year or so a whole bunch of “secret” menu items have appeared at the parks and resorts. One of the newer items is the incredible Rio Grande Nacho Challenge at Pecos Bill’s in the Magic Kingdom.

The Rio Grande Nacho Challenge. (photo by Brandon Glover)

Fist let’s get to the particulars. The cost is $85. That may sound crazy, but I believe there is a lot of value here, and will explain along the way. Pecos Bill currently has an AP discount, so after discount and tax the total was $72.42. The Rio Grande is only served between 3-6PM, and Pecos Bills will only serve four groups per hour. So if you are interested in trying this out, be sure to get there as early as you can to check in and reserve a time.

The picture above shows how the Rio Grande is normally served, while the picture below is what you get if you ask for the toppings to be served on the side. There is a whole bunch of meat on these nachos, and everyone absolutely loved the chicken. The beef crumbles and pulled pork weren’t bad at all, but the chicken was really tasty.

The Rio Grande, served with toppings on the side. (photo by Brandon Glover)

Pecos Bills does the Rio Grande right in terms of presentation, as groups are brought back to a reserved section of the restaurant. There are fun, old timey tin plates and cups for everyone in the group. Two pitchers of whatever drinks you prefer are served with the Rio Grande, but you can ask for pitchers of any other type of beverage once those are gone. We originally started with lemonade and iced tea, but eventually also got pitchers of Coke, Diet Coke, and water.

Three new sheriffs have been deputized in Frontierland. (photo by Brandon Glover)

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Hurricane Irma – September 8 Update

by on September 8, 2017
Filed under: Universal Orlando Resort, Walt Disney World (FL), Weather 7 Comments

LATEST HERE

Last update – September 8, 2017, 3:00PM EDT

For more in depth information on what to expect if you’re in Central Florida during a hurricane, read this article.

Florida continues to prepare for Irma to make landfall. Current forecasts say the storm will hit South Florida Saturday with Central Florida seeing the worst of it late Sunday and early Monday morning.

Follow the latest news on Hurricane Irma at the National Hurricane Center.

Central Florida

Orlando International Airport will close at 5PM on Saturday. The airport is also on Twitter at @MCO. You should contact your airline for information on other cancellations. Expect much heavier than usual crowds at the airports as people leave Florida. Miami and Fort Lauderdale airports have also announced closures.

Parking garages at both Orlando and Fort Lauderdale are at capacity. This is no more onsite parking at either airport.

Tampa will close 8PM Saturday.

Airports are not set up to take in evacuees in cases of emergency. Read the rest of this entry »

Disney Cruise Line Weekly Preview — Week of September 9

by on September 8, 2017
Filed under: Disney Cruise Line, Weekly Preview

Welcome aboard for this week’s Disney Cruise Line Preview for the week of September 9th! I’m Brand Glover, and I’ll be giving you everything you need to know before cruising with Disney Cruise Line this week. We have some very important weather related news to share this week, so lets get right to it.

Ports of Call (High/Low Temperature, Chance of Rain)

St. Maarten

Disney Magic

  • 9 September – Barcelona (75/58, 89%)
  • 10 September – Day at Sea
  • 11 September – Naples (73/66, 100%)
  • 12 September – Civitavecchia (76/61, 20%)
  • 13 September – Livorno (77/60, 10%)
  • 14 September – Villefranche (75/61, 0%)
  • 15 September – Day at Sea

Disney Wonder

  • 9 September – Ketchikan (58/51, 90%)
  • 10 September – Day at Sea
  • 11 September – Vancouver (74/57, 10%)
  • 12 September – Victoria (68/56, 20%)
  • 13 September – Day at Sea
  • 14 September – Day at Sea
  • 15 September – San Diego (71/64, 0%)

Disney Dream

  • Due to Hurricane Irma, the scheduled September 8th and September 11th sailings have been CANCELED

Disney Fantasy

  • Due to Hurricane Irma, the scheduled 7-night Eastern Caribbean sailing has been CANCELED

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Disneyland Preview — Week of September 9

by on September 8, 2017
Filed under: Disney California Adventure, Disneyland (CA), Disneyland Park, Trip Planning, Uncategorized, Weather, Weekly Preview 2 Comments

Well, it’s early September, which in Disney parlance means it’s time to get into the Halloween spirit in earnest.  Let’s get to this week’s Disneyland preview!

Special Events and Notes

There’s not too much coming in the early part of the week, but the week ends in grand fashion with the kick-off of the Halloween season at Disneyland.  On September 15, Disneyland Park classic attractions return in holiday form for Haunted Mansion Holiday and Space Mountain: Ghost Galaxy.

That same day, we’ll also get to see the debut of some new Halloween-themed overlays at Disney’s California Adventure.  Cars Land and Buena Vista Street will both be getting brand new holiday decor, and there will be lots of seasonal treats available on a limited-time basis. Check out Rikki’s preview for more information about what to expect.  Note that both parks will close fairly early on Thursday to prepare for the unveiling on Friday.

Also, we’ve been telling you about the Summer of Heroes at Disney’s California Adventure for quite some time now and this event is coming to an end on Sunday, September 10. If you want to experience it, get on over to the parks this weekend. Check out Derek Burgan’s write-up on the event if you’ve not been before to get the most out of it.

Finally, it’s worth noting that this is the last week in a while that there won’t be some sort of holiday party happening a few nights a week.  If you’re the sort of guest that likes to pop in on a whim, definitely time to start paying closer attention to the evening hours, because there will be early closures at Disneyland Park coming soon.

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