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In Case You Missed It: Disney News and Rumors – Week of January 29, 2016

by on January 29, 2016 1 Comment

ICYMIThis week was a week that included a great national holiday — National Chocolate Cake Day! I celebrated with a delightful piece of delicious chocolate goodness. If you didn’t…it’s never too late to celebrate! Enjoy a piece right now.

If you missed the news this week, I have it for you. You can catch up on a great interview with Disney Legend X Atencio, learn about a new shop slated for Disney Springs, and more.

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

 

You may remember the story of Walt Disney Company employees who had to train their replacements from about a year ago. Well, a couple of the former tech workers are filing a lawsuit accusing the company and two outsourcing firms of conspiring to replace workers with less costly foreign ones using H-1B visas.

This is a fantastic interview! D23 recently interviewed Disney Legend X Atencio about his days as a Disney storyteller.

Could a new Hawaiian retailer be coming to Disney Springs? According to the Orlando Business Journal, that would be a yes.

A new venue is on tap to be built for the ESPN Wide World of Sports complex. What would you like to see?

I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again. If you are not reading Floyd Norman’s blog, you need to be! This week he talks about the Walt Disney that he knew.

Star Wars and Marvel…looks like they are continuing forever.

Disney Historian David Gerstein shares his thoughts about the recently rediscovered Oswald Short that will be able to be found as part of an exclusive digital bonus on the Disney Movies Anywhere app.

To make way for the refreshed The Muppets which comes back from its winter hiatus next week, a fun video was released that flashes back, in a good way.

In Case We Missed It

What did we miss? Attach your ideas to an Cupid Mickey and send it to blog@touringplans.com with the words “In Case You Missed It” in the subject line.

The Decision Process: What Type of Disney Cruise Line Stateroom Do I Need?

by on January 29, 2016 8 Comments

There are more than two dozen stateroom classifications on the Disney Cruise Line ships (and a variety of floor plan arrangements within some of those classifications), but overall there are just three main types of rooms on the Disney ships:

  • Inside staterooms: Those with no window to the outside world – though some do have a simulated “virtual porthole”
  • Oceanview staterooms: Those with one or more porthole windows
  • Staterooms with verandahs: Those with a “porch” outside the room.

Ask around and you’ll find that some guests will only travel in a verandah room, avowing that they MUST have an outdoor place of their own, while others prefer an inside room because they enjoy the cocoon-like darkness for sleeping. The truth is that the right stateroom type is the one that meets your individual needs. Here are some things to think about as you make your decision.

The ships have many public places to view the water.

The ships have many public places to view the water.

What is your budget?

Your overall budget will obviously be your guide in all your travel decisions. If the sky’s the limit, then all other things being equal, a verandah room will likely be appealing for most folks, if only to have the extra square footage. However, if you’re watching your pennies, then getting an inside room may be an easy way to economize. You’ll also want to think about how your stateroom selection will impact your ability to enjoy other aspects of the trip. Will you have more funds available for excursions or fine dining if you opt for a different type of stateroom?

What is the price difference between the category types?

On some sailings, the price differential between the basic stateroom classifications can be many, many thousands of dollars, making the decision quite impactful to your trip. However, on other sailings, the cost variance between stateroom types is minimal. For example, on one 3-night May 2016 sailing on the Disney Dream, the least expensive room available is 204 square foot standard inside stateroom. The price for two guests is $1,464. On the same sailing, they could also get a 241 square foot oceanview (porthole) stateroom for $1,506 (a difference of just $42), or a 246 square foot verandah stateroom for $1,584 (a difference of $120 over the inside room, or $78 over the oceanview room). Given the macro cost of a vacation, these modest price differences may be small enough for you to be able enjoy whichever stateroom type suits your fancy. Read the rest of this entry »

Seth Kubersky’s Best Week Ever January 28, 2016: Universal Orlando Early Park Admission Update

by on January 28, 2016 4 Comments

Early park admission universal Orland

Indulge your sweet tooth in this Best Week Ever update of Early Park Admission at Universal Orlando (photos/video by Seth Kubersky)

 

I hope you set your alarm clocks this morning, because this Best Week Ever is up and at ’em before daybreak to enjoy one of my favorite theme park perks. Early entry to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter is usually restricted to Universal Orlando Resort hotel guests, but throughout January annual passholders were allowed to join to early morning crowds on weekdays. At the same time, Universal has made some tweaks to the way this popular option operates, so this past week I awoke ahead of the sun to bring you the Universal Orlando Early Park Admission update.

First, the big news about Universal Orlando Early Park Admission is that it is currently offered at Universal Studios Florida only. For most of 2015, Early Park Admission was offered only at Islands of Adventure during off-peak times, and at both parks during peak holiday periods. Early in 2016, Universal returned off-peak Early Park Admission to Universal Studios Florida only. While communications from Universal have been inconsistent about the future EPA calendar, we currently expect Early Park Admission to remain at Universal Studios Florida only until the Easter/Spring Break peak season.

Here are some other Universal Orlando Early Park Admission updates:

  • When Universal Studios Florida opens for Early Park Admission, only Despicable Me: Minion Mayhem and the attractions inside Diagon Alley (including Escape from Gringotts) are regularly open. Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit and Transformers may also open early if the crowds warrant, but they were not operating early during my recent visit.
  • When Islands of Adventure opens for Early Park Admission, the Hogwarts Express usually begins operating 30 minutes before Universal Studios Florida officially opens. However, when Universal Studios Florida open early, the first Hogwarts Express train depart only a few minutes before IOA’s opening hour.

 

Got all that? Great! Now, let’s take a morning stroll around the parks.
Read the rest of this entry »

Guests Can Modify Disney Dining Reservations Online

by on January 27, 2016 5 Comments

©Rikki Niblett

©Rikki Niblett

Have you ever made an Advance Dining Reservation and then realized that you needed to make an adjustment because you had a conflict that popped up or because the number of Guests you were bringing to the dining experience changed? It’s happened to me multiple times, however, in the past, I was unable to change my reservation, so I had to either cancel the reservation and start over or beg and be at the mercy of the Cast Member upon arrival at the restaurant.

Well no more! Now, Guests are able to easily modify their Advance Dining Reservations online, right from their computer. No more calling reservations to change seating time or number of Guests in the party!

Guests can make these modifications up to 20 minutes prior to their reserved seating time, however, keep in mind that this option is only available to be able to do through the website, not through a smart phone app, such as My Disney Experience or the Disneyland app. Guests looking to modify reservations can do so by visiting http://www.disneyworld.com/dining or www.disneyland.com/dining

Guests will still have the option to call can also call (714) 781-DINE for Disneyland or 407-WDW-DINE for Walt Disney World to speak with a Dining Reservation agent.

The lesser known rides at Universal Orlando

by on January 27, 2016 6 Comments

It’s clear that Universal Orlando has cornered the market on thrilling, exhilarating rides. When you want exciting experiences, Universal Orlando is the clear choice. But there is more to Universal than thrill rides, and we often overlook the smaller, more minor attractions here. Especially with the closure of two of Universal Studio’s minor attractions: Disaster! and Twister Ride It Out! (both names ending in exclamation points I might add), it can be easy to forget the small collection of less thrilling rides.

Kang and Kodo’s Twirl ‘n’ Hurl

It seems that the spinner style ride is a must-have when building a theme park. It all started with the iconic Dumbo the Flying Elephant in Disneyland in 1955. Ever since that time it has become a staple of theme parks to have at least one of this type of ride in its line-up.

At Universal Orlando two spinner rides are offered, both with a little added touch. Twirl and Hurl came onto the scene when the World Expo area received a makeover courtesy of The Simpsons. After The Simpsons Ride took over for Back to the Future, the turf of the Simpsons was expanded to include multiple eateries, midway games, and this spinner ride.

Pay close attention to the signage throughout the ride’s queue and exit, as well as the audio messaging. I love the names of the ride vehicles, each flying saucer has a unique, pun laden name such as Mai Tai Fighter or Ronald Ray-gun. Additionally, the extra touch here are the targets around the circumference of the ride. As you spin through the air aim, your vehicle up or down to line up with the targets of varying heights. If you line it up just right you’ll cause the targets to spin accompanied by silly sound effects.

DSC03692

DSC03687

Read the rest of this entry »

Walt Disney World Newsworthy Notes – 1/26/16

by on January 26, 2016 7 Comments

I’m back again! Looks like we have quite a few small nuggets for you all today that can help you with you next trip. These nuggets range from all four parks, as well as a few of the resorts too.

  • Habit Heroes at Epcot’s Innoventions has officially closed.
  • Big Thunder Mountain Railroad at the Magic Kingdom will be closed for a lengthy refurbishment, from April 4 through sometime in July 2016.
  • The Writer’s Stop is officially on the chopping block for Disney’s Hollywood Studios.
  • Flights of Wonder at Disney’s Animal Kingdom is closed for two months, until March 17. The attraction will be gaining the addition of a permanent roof over the seating area.

Read the rest of this entry »

Universal Crowd Calendar Report – January 17 to 23, 2016

by on January 26, 2016

How Crowded Was Universal Orlando Last Week?

How Crowded Was Universal Orlando Last Week?

Cool weather on Thursday and Friday kept the Universal Orlando parks at near-empty levels. Otherwise, the Universal Crowd Calendar did a great job predicting the flow of crowds last week from day to day. If anything, crowds were slightly higher than expected in the early part of the week and slightly less crowded than normal for the second part. Late January is off-season for Universal Orlando so we can expect crowds to be in the lower half of the crowd scale for most days as we saw last week.

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

Read the rest of this entry »

Rating Disney Vacation Club’s 25th anniversary offers

by on January 26, 2016 6 Comments

As a fairly new owner of Disney Vacation Club, I’ve heard the trope that nothing is promised to owners except access to resort rooms that would otherwise cost far more on a cash basis. At its core, DVC is a timeshare program, though one that has its own cachet and has, so far, retained a good bit of value on the resale market.

DVC members will be able to relax upstairs in Epcot's Imagination Pavilion.

DVC members will be able to relax upstairs in Epcot’s Imagination Pavilion.

But as DVC owners will tell you, it can be much more thanks to the extras that are provided. There are small bonuses, like the Disney Files magazine that comes in the mail every three months or the DVC magnets for the back of your car. Then there are larger bonuses, like the dining and merchandise discounts and special offers on annual passes or park tickets.

With 2016 being the 25th year of DVC’s existence (yes, those original purchasers at Old Key West will be halfway through their contracts at the end of this year), DVC is rolling out a host of special offers to celebrate. We’ll run through and classify the offers.

Yes, that’s what I’m talking about

One of my favorite perks of membership is access to The Top Of The World Lounge at Disney’s Bay Lake Tower. It’s a great place for drinks and snacks, and the exclusive access means you don’t have to fight the crowds for this great viewing spot of the Wishes fireworks show. So I’m really happy that another exclusive member area will be created within a theme park. The upper floor of Epcot’s Imagination Pavilion (the old ImageWorks) is being taken out of mothballs to be transformed into a DVC member lounge with seating, complimentary soft drinks, wi-fi, charging stations, computers with printers and member services advisors. In the heat of the summer, sounds like a great way to get some rest and refreshment before trekking into World Showcase. Plus, it’s something that every DVC member can take advantage of, unlike our next offering.

Amazing if you can make it Read the rest of this entry »

Disney World Crowd Calendar Report – January 17 to 23, 2016

by on January 26, 2016 5 Comments

How Crowded Was Disney World Last Week?

How Crowded Was Disney World Last Week?

Cold weather has kept the Disney World theme parks less crowded than usual on several days this January. Last week we saw crowd levels one to two points lower than the Disney World Crowd Calendar predicted every day except for Saturday. This is good news for guests on vacation since the cool weather tends to keep local guests from visiting the parks and makes for lighter crowds overall.

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

Read the rest of this entry »

Disneyland Crowd Calendar Report – January 17 to 23, 2016

by on January 25, 2016

How Crowded Was Disneyland Last Week?

How Crowded Was Disneyland Last Week?

Wait times at Disneyland last week followed the pattern predicted by the Disneyland Crowd Calendar. The resort wide crowd level was off by more than one index level twice, on Monday and Wednesday. January is off-season for Disneyland Resort and that means a big dip in attendance during the week and busy parks on the weekends.

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

Read the rest of this entry »