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Universal Orlando Resort Preview — Week of August 5

by on August 3, 2017
Filed under: Trip Planning, Universal Orlando Resort, Volcano Bay, Weather 4 Comments

The Universal Orlando Preview is brought to you by Storybook DestinationsStorybook Destinations specializes in Disney and Universal travel, is consistently highly rated by our readers, and is owned by our own blogger extraordinaire, Tammy Whiting. Storybook also offers free subscriptions to TouringPlans to clients with qualified bookings.

Hello again! Time to check out what you need to know if you are visiting Universal Orlando Resort this week!

Weekly Crowd Level

Crowds are not dropping just yet…but Sunday sure does look like the best day to visit this week! If a crowd level of 9 intimidates you, create a customized Touring Plan for a stress-free day!

Weekly Weather Report

Weather in Central Florida in the summer changes rapidly – don’t forget to check out the latest forecast before you head out!

Read the rest of this entry »

Brand New Immersive Star Wars Experience Coming to Disney Springs and Downtown Disney

by on August 3, 2017
Filed under: Disney Springs, Downtown Disney, Recent News 6 Comments

Today, it was announced that a brand new collaboration between Lucasfilm, ILMxLAB, and THE VOID will take Guests literally into the Star Wars world via a hyper-reality experience. Called Star Wars: Secrets of the Empire, Guests will be able to be thrust into the Star Wars universe at two new new VOID Experience Centers. These centers will be found at unannounced locations at both Downtown Disney at the Disneyland Resort and at Disney Springs at the Walt Disney World Resort.

Star Wars: Secrets of the Empire will allow fans to move freely in an untethered, social, and multi-sensory experience. Guests will be able to interact with friends, fans, and even some characters.

Star Wars

©Star Wars

“At THE VOID, we combine the magic of illusions, advanced technology and virtual reality to create fully immersive social experiences that take guests to new worlds,” said Curtis Hickman, co-founder and chief creative officer at THE VOID. “A truly transformative experience is so much more than what you see with your eyes; it’s what you hear, feel, touch, and even smell. Through the power of THE VOID, guests who step into Star Wars: Secrets of the Empire won’t just see this world, they’ll know that they are part of this amazing story.”

The fun begins sometime during this holiday season. Stay tuned to the blog as I find out more information about this ground-breaking experience.

American Idol Auditions to Begin at Disney Springs

by on August 3, 2017
Filed under: Disney Springs, Recent News

©Rikki Niblett

Have you always wanted to hear the words “This is American Idol” in person? Well, you may very well be in luck.

For those who don’t know, ABC is bringing back the singing competition and auditions for this new season are kicking off at Disney Springs on August 17. So, if you think you can be the next “American Idol“, you’ll want to audition in front of of the American Idol producers as they cruise into town with their bus tour. (Sorry, Katy Perry – one of the new celebrity judges – won’t be there.)

Guests are encouraged to arrive early, as parking will be available beginning at 4:00 a.m.  There will be no overnight camping, so don’t arrive before 4:00 a.m.! Parking will be available at the surface parking lot on the West Side of Disney Springs, near House of Blues and Cirque du Soleil.

Registration will begin at 6:00 a.m. and auditions will start at 8:00 a.m. Do keep in mind that registration will close at 12:00 p.m or sooner, depending on capacity. Do keep in mind that auditions will take place outdoors.  Read the rest of this entry »

Walt Disney World Preview – Week of August 5

by on August 3, 2017
Filed under: Trip Planning, Walt Disney World (FL) 4 Comments

What’s going on this week at Walt Disney World? Keep reading to find out!

Special Events

  • La Nouba by Cirque du Soleil is offering discounted tickets for performances Tuesday through Saturday nights. Book now through December 16, 2017 to save!
  • Are you a Tables in Wonderland member? Now through September 30th, you can receive a 30% discount at the following restaurants:
  • Note: Discount is only available before 6:30pm or after 8:30pm.

For other Walt Disney World Newsworthy notes, check out Rikki’s article here.

Read the rest of this entry »

8 Things We Love About Disneyland’s New Rivers of America and Frontierland Expansion

by on August 3, 2017
Filed under: Disneyland (CA) 1 Comment

In January 2016, Disneyland’s Rivers of America, train, and chunks of Frontierland closed to be chopped and/or reconfigured to make room for a huge Star Wars expansion. It was a long year and a half without all these wonderful and classic attractions, but we all managed to survive. Last week, all the attractions that closed last year have now reopened. While you can make an argument that the old/longer Rivers of America was better, or that you miss Big Thunder Ranch Barbecue, and so on, there’s no denying that there’s a lot of great parts with the new additions. Here’s 8 things we love about Disneyland’s new Rivers of America and Frontierland expansion.

#8: No Duck Poop On Anything

Hey, I get it. Animals poop. But over the years the ducks covered the Rivers of America’s props and things with so much poop that some of them were turning white. For example, look at this Native America boy and his dog on a log–they’re so clean now! Along the river you’ll also see moose, deer, birds, and other animals and scenery. All of them are sparkling and look fantastic.

#7: Disneyland Railroad’s New Left Turn

Disney hyped up the fact that the Disneyland Railroad, for the first time ever, makes a LEFT turn while circling around Disneyland. It’s as impressive as you would imagine. If you can’t wait to experience it yourself, skip to the 1:28 mark in the video embedded above. Read the rest of this entry »

Ask It: Have You Ever Done a runDisney Race?

by on August 2, 2017
Filed under: Just For Fun, RunDisney 16 Comments

A new Wednesday means a new Ask It question. This week, we’re dusting off our running shoes to run this question by you all:


Have you ever done a runDisney race?

  • No, never gonna happen (35%, 207 Votes)
  • Yes (34%, 201 Votes)
  • No, but maybe someday (31%, 184 Votes)

Total Voters: 592

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Voting is open here and on Twitter, and we’ll have your results next week. In the meantime, feel free to comment–if you have done a runDisney event, are you a runner or just love the Disney kind of event? Had a favorite runDisney event? What is the longest distance you’ve ever done? What’s the best course you’ve experienced?

And if you haven’t, what’s your primary reason for not doing runDisney? Cost? Not a fan of running? Something else? We’ll have your results here next week!

Ask It Results: Ever Received an Elusive PIN Code?

by on August 2, 2017
Filed under: Just For Fun 2 Comments

Having run the Ask It polls for a while now, whenever I ask a question, I’m usually pretty sure what the answer will be. There are times when my personal bias blocks my prognostication, however. This week, the results were much closer than I had predicted to the question:

Have you ever received a PIN code for a discount/special offer on a Disney vacation?

Even more interesting than how the voting went were readers sharing some of the deals they’ve been offered. Feel free to take me with you at any time!!

Here’s your results for this week’s Ask It.

Read the rest of this entry »

Walt Disney World Newsworthy Notes – 8/1/17

by on August 1, 2017
Filed under: Recent News, Walt Disney World (FL) 5 Comments

Walt Disney World

©Rikki Niblett

Wow! It’s been a while since I’ve done the Walt Disney World Newsworthy Notes, but this week, as always when you get a Newsworthy Notes update, I have a few things that have landed on my desk that are important to know, but they are pretty small things. They may impact your vacations though, which is why I want to make sure to share them with you! So, here we go:

  • The quick service location found at Yak & Yeti Restaurant at Disney’s Animal Kingdom known as Local Foods Café is now offering breakfast in addition to lunch and dinner. The new menu items include a variety of meat and egg sandwiches, a breakfast burrito, and breakfast tacos. Breakfast will be served daily from 9:00 a.m. – 10:30 a.m.
  • The fun interactive game, A Pirate’s Adventure ~ Treasures of the Seven Seas  found in Adventureland at the Magic Kingdom has had a time change. It will now be available for Guests to enjoy from 12:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m. daily.
  • This one makes me excited. The extremely popular store, The Dress Shop is back at Cherry Tree Lane in the Marketplace Co-Op at Disney Springs. For those who don’t know, The Dress Shop draws inspiration from classic Disney characters and theme park attractions in their clothing designs, including Walt Disney’s Enchanted Tiki Room, “it’s a small world,” Minnie Mouse, Snow White, and the Orange Bird.
  • United World Soccer found in the West Side of Disney Springs has been rebranded as Pelé Soccer. This soccer retail location offers jerseys from clubs and countries around the world, footwear, and accessories.

That’s it for this edition of Walt Disney World Newsworthy Notes! Any thoughts?

Minnie Van Ridesharing Service Now Available at Walt Disney World

by on August 1, 2017
Filed under: Recent News, Walt Disney World (FL) 17 Comments

Minnie Van


One of the things that was announced at the D23 Expo is already in use at Walt Disney World! The Minnie Van ridesharing service has officially rolled out!

Wait…what is the Minnie Van Service anyway?  It is a brand new transportation option that will provide Guests with transportation throughout the Walt Disney World Resort, giving them a seamless way to get from point to point. The idea behind it is similar to common ridesharing apps, Uber and Lyft. Speaking of Lyft, it appears as though Disney has officially partnered with the company. Guests will be able to arrange their own private Disney vehicle right from the Lyft app on their smartphone.

The name, Minnie Van Service, comes from the theme of the vehicles (otherwise known as Chevy Traverses), that are patterned after the one-and-only Minnie Mouse. Read the rest of this entry »

The Best Staterooms in Each of the 10 Categories on a Disney Cruise

by on August 1, 2017
Filed under: Basics, Disney Cruise Line 16 Comments

Are you overwhelmed by the number of stateroom choices on a Disney Cruise?  Well, I don’t blame you.  You may think there should be three simple choices:  inside, oceanview, or verandah – but it’s nowhere near that cut and dry.  Each of those three stateroom types has several different classifications of staterooms!  Disney has thirty-one various categories of staterooms.  Thirty-one!  How will you ever decide?

Well, that’s what I’m here for!  I’ve actually sailed in over half of those categories, and been inside every other one.  I’m going to break them down for you, and help you pick the best stateroom for you and your family.

Concierge 1 Bedroom Suite with Verandah – Category T -Disney Dream

A few ground rules and guidelines first:

– I’m not going to recommend accessible staterooms.  If you need an accessible stateroom, there are options in almost every category.  If you don’t need one, pick something else.

– If you don’t need a connecting stateroom, try to avoid them.  Lately, I have stayed in two different staterooms with a connecting door and we could hear the guests on the other side almost as if they were in our stateroom.

– While I will give some specific stateroom numbers in some cases, in other cases I’ll just give general guidance.  It’s always good planning work to check a review of the particular stateroom you have in mind.  There are some staterooms out there that have noise or vibration issues.  There are also some right above the theaters or the nightclubs.  You probably want to avoid those.

– To find stateroom reviews, use Google or check a site like Disney Cruise Line Blog.  Scott has a good list of reviews going over there.  A quick search may save you some headaches on board!

– Finally, the staterooms on the Dream and Fantasy will be the same, so I will address those staterooms as the Dream Class.  Similarly, the Magic and Wonder have the same type of staterooms, so I will address them as the Magic Class. Read the rest of this entry »