Your subscriptions support new blog articles and research. Please consider

subscribing.

today.


Universal Orlando Resort Crowd Report – August 31 to September 6, 2014

by on September 8, 2014

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Google Plus
  • Pinterest
  • Print

Wait times at Universal Orlando skewed lower than expected last week although not significantly so. We correctly predicted the crowd level within one index level every day with only one exception. The week after Labor Day, like at Disney World, is the single slowest week of the year at Universal Orlando. If you can handle the hot summer temperatures you will experience near empty touring conditions.

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 »

Disney Dining: Bongos Cuban Cafe at Downtown Disney

by on September 8, 2014 5 Comments

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Google Plus
  • Pinterest
  • Print

Recently I was at Downtown Disney and had planned to go to the House of Blues to do a photo report. Unfortunately, when photographer Brandon Glover and I got to the restaurant they told us it would be a ten minute wait. This was in the middle of a weekday and the House of Blues was – at best – 30% full. There were even two parties ahead of us waiting to get a table. Acting on principal alone, the thought of waiting 10 minutes to get a table in an empty restaurant with so many other choices nearby seemed beyond ridiculous, so we left to try another venue. A couple steps down from House of Blues lies Bongos Cuban Cafe, so we decided to check it out since neither one of us had ever tried it before.

 

Bongos_outside

Bongos Cuban Cafe (photo by Brandon Glover)

Read the rest of this entry »

Disney World Crowd Report – August 31 to September 6, 2014

by on September 8, 2014 5 Comments

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Google Plus
  • Pinterest
  • Print

There are two weeks a year where we can be certain about crowds at Disney World. We know December 28 through January 1 will be extremely crowded and we know that the week after Labor Day will be extremely light. Even we were surprised how low the crowds were last week. We expected that Fastpass+ would help moderate wait times across the resort but we still saw some of the lowest average wait times of the year.

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

  Read the rest of this entry »

Disneyland Resort Rolls Out Resort-wide Dining Price Increases

by on September 8, 2014 4 Comments

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Google Plus
  • Pinterest
  • Print

t_logoLast week Disney rolled out dining price increases throughout Disneyland Resort. Most entrees were increased by 50 cents, while some items such as Plaza Inn’s Pot Roast, wen’t up by as much as $1.

Some notable price increases include:

There are dozens of other price increases so I won’t bore you by listing them all here. Our Disneyland dining menu database has been updated so be sure to check it out if you’re curious about a specific menu item going up in price.

Menu Monday: Snacks Around the World Showcase – Germany

by on September 8, 2014 4 Comments

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Google Plus
  • Pinterest
  • Print
Spaceship Earth!

Spaceship Earth! © Disney

Welcome once again to Menu Monday, where we explore what packaged edibles Disney offers. We are traveling around the World Showcase, stopping in at each country to give an interesting and unusual (and hopefully tasty!) snack a try. We have already visited Japan, Canada, United Kingdom, and France. Today we are checking out what snacks are available in Germany. Before we get started heading around the Showcase, let’s remember the rules:

Snack Rules

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

Let’s go find some snacks from Germany!

Read the rest of this entry »

Menu Monday: Downtown Disney Breakfast Options

by on September 8, 2014 2 Comments

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Google Plus
  • Pinterest
  • Print

With all the construction going on for the future of Disney Springs, it is very tempting to stay away. Between limited parking, confusing mazes of walls everywhere, and the challenge of even finding what entrance is open to drive in, the whole experience can be a bit stressful, especially later in the afternoon and evening times. Yet, there is a wonderful reason to find your way in – and at a time when parking is easy to find and crowds are low: Breakfast!

Downtown Disney may not be the first thought for many people when they think breakfast, but there are actually more Downtown Disney breakfast options than there are in some of the theme parks. Here’s a sampling of what you can find.

Read the rest of this entry »

Menu Monday: Trials and Tribulations of an Amateur ‘Disney’ Chef

by on September 8, 2014 6 Comments

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Google Plus
  • Pinterest
  • Print

FoodandWinelogosmallAs some of you know, the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival will be starting September 19 and running through November 10. In honor of this event (and the fact that I will be attending for the first time), I decided to put my culinary skills to the test.

The Challenge: Recreate three popular recipes found at Walt Disney World.

The Line Up:

Read the rest of this entry »

The Disney Dazzle: Cinderella’s Royal Table

by on September 7, 2014 9 Comments

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Google Plus
  • Pinterest
  • Print

We’re back for another Disney Dazzling story! If you want to read about my magical time meeting Mickey Mouse, click here.

I experienced breakfast at Cinderella’s Royal Table* in early 2014. Reservations had been made the previous fall, and the anticipation had been building ever since. Not only would I be visiting Magic Kingdom, but I was going to meet five of my childhood idols. My inner five-year-old was rejoicing at the opportunity!

We walked down Main Street, U.S.A., and the closer we got to the castle, the faster I walked. I’m pretty sure I was sprinting those last few yards, trying to quickly close the distance between the castle and myself.

The entrance to the restaurant is next to Fantasyland. As I walked through the castle tunnel, I noticed five beautiful mosaic murals depicting Cinderella’s fairy tale. Fun Fact: These murals were made with over 300,000 pieces of Italian glass, and some contain sterling silver and even 14-karat gold. They were sure a ‘gem’ to look at! (bu dum, chee!)

Photo - Keith Dahlgren

How majestic!

Upon notifying the hostess of our arrival, we waited outside only a few minutes before being ushered into the castle. We walked through a gothic archway and entered the beautiful entry hall. The medieval-inspired hall had antique-looking tapestries covering the marble walls, while aged light fixtures made the space glow. I saw several coat of arms high above, and wooden benches lined the walls. As I walked further in, I saw none other than Cinderella herself greeting guests. My mind began to wonder as I waited in line: Would I be able to give her a hug? Would she let me live in the castle with her? If she asked, I would surely say, “Yes,” even if it meant having Gus and Jaq as roommates. When it was our turn, she smiled and signed my autograph book while asking us about our morning. She graciously accepted my hug (Hugging a princess, check that off my bucket list!), and a Disney photographer took our picture. There were other photo opportunities following our time with Cinderella. I recall a throne chair, suit of armor, and an old fireplace. We took a picture of our baby daughter in the fireplace (don’t worry, it wasn’t lit), and, luckily, she didn’t get any soot on her dress. Read the rest of this entry »

Electric Vehicle Charging Stations Come to Epcot

by on September 7, 2014 8 Comments

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Google Plus
  • Pinterest
  • Print
EV Signage at Epcot

The location of the EV charging stations is clearly marked with a sign. (Photo by Julia Mascardo)

Since its opening, one focus of Epcot has been to showcase new technologies. Keeping in line with that mission, Epcot has added some technology that may be unfamiliar to many people, but certainly is being touted as technology of the future. But you won’t find this technology inside Epcot – it is located in the parking lot.

Along the first row of the Journey parking lot, Epcot now has two Electric Vehicle charging stations (each with plugs for two vehicles). This service is provided (for a fee) by ChargePoint.

Prior to the opening of this station, options to charge electric cars have been limited at Walt Disney World. According to the PlugShare site, the only other reported options for charging an EV were wall outlets at Fort Wilderness Cabins (likely installed to charge golf carts), a reported wall outlet available at the Contemporary (available only if you ask around, but not marked as such), another wall outlet available from valet at the Dolphin hotel upon request, a dedicated but unmarked charging outlet at the BoardWalk (which means that if someone has already parked in that parking space, you are out of luck), and an unapproved outlet at Caribbean Beach that only is powered at night (and not likely sanctioned by Disney). Many of these workarounds were unreliable and users reported that they often provided an incomplete charge.

Read the rest of this entry »

SATURDAY SIX: Six Reasons to Check Out Disney’s Pop Century Resort

by on September 6, 2014 10 Comments

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Google Plus
  • Pinterest
  • Print

This week’s SATURDAY SIX takes a look at Six Reasons to Check Out Disney’s Pop Century Resort. One of Disney’s Value Resorts, Pop Century has a level of theming that makes it stand out compared to the other lower priced hotel offerings at the All Star resorts as well as dedicated bus transportation to the parks and Downtown Disney. The entire resort is themed around pop culture icons from the latter half of the twentieth century, with the wings of the hotel dedicated to the 1950s, 1960s, 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s. Each wing has elements from their particular decade throughout the area. If it sounds cheesy, that’s because it is cheesy, but it’s a good kind of cheesy way and one that can bring back a lot of memories for every family. At the very least Pop Century is great for an afternoon of “resort hopping” to see some of the things they offer that you can’t find at any other Disney resort, starting with…

 

# 6 – The Lobby is a Wonderful Trip Back Through Time

SS_PopCentury_Lobby2

Disney’s Pop Century Resort

 

While the check-in desks inside Classic Hall are the same that you will see in many theme park hotels, the walls opposite check in are filled with shadow boxes containing items from the 1950s through the 1990s. This is a wall that will have various generations of every family seeing an item and instantly remembering where they were in life when that was popular.  Elvis, the Moon landing, Dobie Gillis (with Maynard G Krebs), the Beach Boys, Star Wars, Mork & Mindy, Jane Fonda’s workout book, Trivial Pursuit, He-Man, Go-Bots, Smurfs, and so much more are in this area.

Read the rest of this entry »