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Disneyland Railroad Lilly Belle Rumors

by on July 13, 2014 7 Comments

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Disneyland Railroad Lilly Belle Ticket

Image source: Anna Fox

The rumor mill is swirling that Disneyland Railroad’s famed coach, the Lilly Belle, will no longer be available to the general public. I did some research about the historic passenger car dedicated to Walt Disney’s wife Lillian, and after reading some conflicting reports and a half-hour call to the Disney help line, I’ve learned the following:

  • The Lilly Belle has been under refurbishment since March.
  • The train car is not available to any park guests.
  • Disneyland has not announced when the train car will be available in the future.

Read the rest of this entry »

Favorite Park Series: Disney’s Hollywood Studios

by on July 13, 2014 10 Comments

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Everyone has a favorite Disney park; the one you HAVE to visit every time you attend Walt Disney World. My goal in this series is to give you a glimpse into the thrills and MAGIC* each park holds.

Now, let’s make our way on over to Disney’s Hollywood Studios!

My personal favorite!

My personal favorite!

Memorable Moments

The attractions at Disney’s Hollywood Studios appeal to people from all walks of life. Children can venture to Pixar Place to make small talk with Mr. Potato Head before hopping on Toy Story Midway Mania. Both teens and adults can enjoy the stomach-dropping thrill rides of Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster and the Tower of Terror. Looking to get your educational fix? Try the Art of Disney Animation and Walt Disney: One Man’s Dream. If you desire attractions fit for the whole family or if you need to get out of the heat, the Great Movie Ride and Muppet*Vision 3D are perfect crowd pleasers. Read the rest of this entry »

The Magic Next Door: Universal Orlando Resort

by on July 12, 2014 6 Comments

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Universal Orlando Resort: A Basic Primer for Walt Disney World Vacation Veterans

Friends, vacationers, locals… lend me your comically over-sized souvenir mouse ears! Most of you like the Walt Disney World Resort, and for good reason. But, dear reader, let me tell you about another place. A wonderful place. A place where you can squeal and fawn over little jellybean men in overalls and not feel weird because everyone else is doing the same thing. That place… is the Universal Orlando Resort.

 

Universal Orlando Resort

Copyright – Universal

There are some people out there who might tell you that there are Disney Folk and Universal Folk, and that never the two shall meet. But, dear reader… that just ain’t so. It doesn’t matter what your family is composed of or how much coffee you drink out of your oversized novelty Donald Duck Mug. If you like roller coasters, Universal Orlando Resort has something for you. If you like great food, the resort has something for you. If you like dinosaurs and wizards, swashbuckling and dancing, beach chairs and tornadoes… it has something for you. Below you’ll find a brief summary of the Universal experience, from the events it hosts to some very important ways it differs from the House of Mouse.
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SATURDAY SIX: Six Surprises of Universal’s Hogwarts Express

by on July 12, 2014 5 Comments

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This week’s SATURDAY SIX takes a look at Six Surprises of Universal’s Hogwarts Express. With the opening of Diagon Alley this week, most of the headlines have been focused on Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts. Whether it’s the incredible animatronics inside the queue, the amazing ride itself, the seemingly never-ending outdoor portion of the extended queue, or the oft-reported downtime, much of the week’s conversation has been spent on the newest E-Ticket attraction at Universal Studios Florida. However, right next door to Diagon Alley another ride opened on the same day with almost no issues, but has received much less fanfare. Maybe it’s a case of the squeaky wheel gets the oil, but for our money the Hogwarts Express was one of the most wonderful additions to the Wizarding World expansion.

The Hogwarts Express is the first attraction in theme park history to go from one park to another. With all the details in the King’s Cross and Hogsmeade stations along with the ride itself, this edition of the SATURDAY SIX is going to look at six of our favorite surprises of this newest attraction, starting with…

# 6 – Live Musicians in King’s Cross Station

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A saxophone player that would make Bleeding Gums Murphy and Lisa Simpson proud (photo by Brandon Glover)

The word you are going to see in pretty much every review of anything related to the Wizarding World at Universal is authenticity, and one small touch that adds so much depth to the experience of King’s Cross is the live musicians that play as you walk into the queue. You can hear men and women playing violins, guitars, and saxophones as you enter the cavernous building. All that’s missing is a hat to leave tips in.

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In Case You Missed It: Disney News and Rumors – Week of July 11, 2014

by on July 11, 2014 3 Comments

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In Case You Missed It!

This week, I absolutely have Potter fever! All I can think about are galleons, Platform 9 and 3/4, and butterbeer! Who else has the fever with me?

If you’ve been busy dreaming about Diagon Alley, then you may have missed some fun news and rumors. Let me know your favorite in the comments!

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

 

With Universal Orlando and Walt Disney World both competing this summer, who will win? The Motley Fool takes a look at this question, and I think the answer may surprise you.

For you Harry Potter fanatics who missed it, J.K. Rowling released a brand new story featuring an update on our favorite trio – Ron, Hermione, and Harry – via the website Pottermore. However, if you haven’t signed up for that, you can read the excerpt on The Today Show website. While devouring this new piece, I had a smile on my face the whole time. It’s so great to hear more about Potter and company, especially this week. Read the rest of this entry »

Should You Visit Disneyland?

by on July 11, 2014 52 Comments

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The great debate of Disney World vs. Disneyland rages on across the Internet every day. While I could never pick a favorite, some reader comments last week gave me the idea to share my opinions on what makes the two coasts so different. With that in mind, here are the top ten differences between Disney World and Disneyland to help you decide if you should visit Disneyland.

Size: Starting with the itty bitty castle, some could view Disneyland as a scaled down version of Walt Disney World. However, I look at it like the greatest hits! In a smaller space they manage to pack in all the best attractions. Sure, it takes a little while to get used to seeing Star Tours across the street from Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin, but you can ride them both without setting foot on a bus! Even better you can hop between the two California parks with just a quick walk. It’s enough to spoil a Disney World fan rotten!

IMG_1118People: Imagine a summer in the parks without tour groups everywhere. That actually happens at Disneyland! Not only that, but the main customer base consists of Annual Passholders. This means that the lines generally don’t get as crazy as at Walt Disney World. In general, the guests are more laid back as their trips are not “once in a lifetime” experiences. The locals also mean that rides can be taken down to offer seasonal events like Haunted Mansion Holiday.

Seasonality: The downside of the smaller tourist draw is seasonality in entertainment. During slower months there may only be fireworks or Fantasmic on the weekends. Other offerings are also adjusted based on occupancy. Tools like Touring Plans become very important, as Disneyland only posts its park hours and schedules 45 days in advance. Historical trends are what you have to depend on when picking dates if you aren’t booking a last minute trip.

Planning: The upside of this “last minute” attitude at Disneyland is that you can relax when planning. Putting together a Walt Disney World vacation can feel like wedding planning! There are so many little details, and if you don’t call exactly 180 days in advance you may not get to try a restaurant you’d dreamed about. At Disneyland you can normally call just a day or two before or even (gasp!) just walk up to the podium for a table. We love the relaxed attitude at Disneyland and not having to plan months in advance. Read the rest of this entry »

TouringPlans #Everywhere: What I Expect From Disneyland

by on July 10, 2014 35 Comments

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All photos courtesy of Guy Selga, Jr

All photos courtesy of Guy Selga, Jr

In my past few posts about the fabulous TouringPlans #Everywhere adventure, I discussed my excitement about going to Disneyland and how I went about budgeting for my trip. This article is going to be very different because I’m going to get into my expectations, hopes, and fears about Walt’s first park.

Even though the October trip will be my first to Disneyland, no Disney parks fan can be completely ignorant of what goes on out west. Over the years I have built up quite a mental database of things that I think I think about the Disneyland Resort, in the process pushing old stuff out of my brain such as the state capital of Minnesota. Some of the things below I know for sure and some are speculation, but all are rhetorical. That’s right–I’m not looking for any confirmation or contradiction whatsoever to the ideas below. I will find out in a few short months and follow up with my findings then, please allow me to continue my limited ignorance (about Disneyland. My general ignorance is boundless).
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Daisy Lauren’s Best Week Ever: July 10, 2014

by on July 10, 2014 22 Comments

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Hi Everyone! Welcome to the Best Week Ever, and for me it really was amazing! I went to Disneyland!! If you can believe it, we only planned this trip a few days in advance! I did pop over to take a look at the Frozen Summer Fun – Live now that I’m home, but I’ll need a full day in the Disney’s Hollywood Studios to really do it justice. With that in mind, I’m excited to share my trip with you. We’ll be back to regularly scheduled Walt Disney World coverage next week. Let’s start somewhere delicious. This special cupcake was available for the 4th of July. The cake was apple flavored, and it tasted even better than it looks! 

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I wanted the first picture to look generic for the holiday, but now I have to show off Sleeping Beauty’s quaint castle. I love the lush trees all around. I remember when the Magic Kingdom had more trees, before hurricanes came through and took care of them. Did you know you there is a walking tour inside the castle? There are display windows that tell the story of Sleeping Beauty. I took too many photos to share them all. (It’s tough to whittle 1,000 photos down to about 30!) But you should look it up for your next trip. Read the rest of this entry »

Walt Disney World Newsworthy Notes – 7/9/14

by on July 9, 2014 12 Comments

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Hello all! Today, I bring just a few smaller things you may need to know that are currently taking place at Walt Disney World. In addition, I’ve got some details that you may need to know if you have a trip scheduled for later this fall. These are just a few minor notes that could be beneficial for you to know as you progress with your planning process. So, here we go:

  • First, we have a couple of refurbishments I wanted to note. Currently, It’s Tough To Be a Bug at Disney’s Animal Kingdom is closed until August 10, reopening on August 11. Moving over to the Magic Kingdom, the Walt Disney World Railroad will see maintenance work from September 28 through November 8, reopening on November 9. Finally, Disney’s Blizzard Beach water park will see its annual refurbishment from January 4 through March 14, reopening on March 15.
  • We all know that Kouzzina will be closing at Disney’s BoardWalk Inn on September 30. The location will be re-open later this year as an all new restaurant. In the interim, Flying Fish Cafe will be offering breakfast beginning on October 1 and lasting until December 7. Breakfast will be served from 7:30 a.m. until 11:00 a.m. and will include dishes like a waffle with tiramisu mascarpone, frittata with roasted red pepper and prosciutto, and soft polenta with fennel sausage.
  • Guests who are still cheering on their favorite World Cup teams will now have two more locations to watch the final games from. At Epcot, guests can choose to watch from the Festival Center (the former Wonders of Life Pavilion, which is located between Mission: SPACE and Ellen’s Energy Adventure). The Festival Center will open one hour before game timem and food and beverages will be sold at this location. Guests at Disney’s Animal Kingdom can visit Restaurantosaurus to view the remaining games. There are three games remaining, with the World Cup Final taking place at 3:00 p.m. EDT on Saturday, July 13.
  • The minimum age to travel alone on Disney’s Magical Express has been lowered. The age for unaccompanied minors is now 12. It had previously been 16.
  • Beginning on July 27, PhotoPass print packages will no longer be offered for sale table-side at select restaurants, including ‘Ohana, 1900 Park Fare, Chef Mickey’s, Disney’s Spirit of Aloha Dinner Show, Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue and Tusker House Restaurant. At Cindrella’s Royal Table and Akershus, PhotoPass print packages will be available until January 4, 2015. Beginning January 5, the inclusive photo package option will be discontinued. Once the PhotoPass print packages are discontinued, guests will need to view and purchase photos via the My Disney Experience app and website.

That’s it for this edition of Newsworthy Notes…what are your thoughts?

History of the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival

by on July 9, 2014

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Epcot Food & Wine

This year the Epcot Food & Wine Festival will run from September 19 to November 10.

When asked what their favorite thing about travel is, people often respond with a single word answer – food. One way Disney has answered this question is with the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival. The Food & Wine Festival is an annual event that has been taking place each fall since 1996. Disney showcases food and drinks at International Marketplaces, which represent the regular Epcot pavilion countries, additional countries, and specialty food and beverage categories, such as dessert, vegan, cheese, and beer. The Marketplaces serve snack sized plates and various (alcoholic and non-alcoholic) beverages. An Epcot admission give you access to the food and drinks, as well as the Eat to the Beat Concerts. You must pay for the food and beverages, however, some items qualify as snacks on the Disney Dining Plan. Due to increased popularity, advanced reservations and additional fees are required for special events, culinary demonstrations, and wine seminars. As a result of the fees, these events are not as crowded as they have been in the past.

In the fall, Disney World crowds lessen a bit after school starts through Thanksgiving. As a way to attract more visitors to Disney World during this time, Disney introduced the Food & Wine Festival. This year, the festival runs from September 19 to November 10, 2014. I would like to tempt your palate and look back at some of the highlights that have joined the festival over the years. Read the rest of this entry »