Posts Tagged ‘disney world’

Disney’s Hollywood Studios: Is It Still Worth Your Time?

by on July 27, 2015

Hat demolition

The Sorcerer’s Hat is one of many recent departures from Disney’s Hollywood Studios

Another day, another closure. The Magic of Disney Animation has seen its last pen stroke, adding it to the ever-lengthening list of attractions at Disney’s Hollywood Studios that have been shuttered without any replacements announced. Indeed, in the time it’s taken you to read this opening paragraph, Disney has probably closed 3 more attractions. With this being the state of affairs, you may be thinking that there’s no good reason to bother with Hollywood Studios in its current form and that you should cross it off your list until some time in the 2020’s — and that seems to be a popular refrain within the Disney fan community.

This perception notwithstanding, however, the reality is that most of the closures were of attractions that were already waning in popularity, while the things that have served as the backbone of the park over recent years are still alive and well. While it would be tough to argue that Hollywood Studios is a “must-do” or that you should build a vacation around it at this point in its life cycle, there remain plenty of good reasons to pay it a visit:

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MyMagic+ and Last-Minute Trips: Planned Spontaneity Advanced Course

by on July 24, 2015

Spaceship Earth MyMagic+

Sometimes you just need a last-minute trip to Disney World.

If you caught my previous article on planned spontaneity and MyMagic+, there is one flaw you might have noticed – it requires that you know far in advance that you are taking a trip to Walt Disney World. So the question is, “How do you plan for spontaneity when you decide to take a trip in the next 30 days?”

Before I launch into my method for planned spontaneity for last-minute trips, I first want to make one tiny thing clear: you don’t have to plan for spontaneity to be spontaneous on a trip to Disney World. (Don’t be alarmed, you read that right.) If you want to go sans FastPass+ and wing it with restaurants, you will still be able to have an awesome time. I prefer to use MyMagic+ to its fullest, and for me that means planning in such a way that I can go off-book about 50% of the time and have a plan the other 50%.  If you’re a planner like I am, then this should be right up your alley.

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Menu Monday: Boma Breakfast Review

by on July 20, 2015

Boma SignLooking for the best breakfast spot in all of Disney World? Look no further than the Boma breakfast buffet at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge. Nestled in a quiet spot on the first floor of Animal Kingdom Lodge’s Jambo House, you will find this hidden gem. Known for its delicious as well as adventurous dinner buffet complete with the famous Zebra Domes, many guests are unaware that a spectacular breakfast is also served here. The Boma breakfast buffet offers an amazing variety of tasty foods so even the most picky of eaters, like myself, can find plenty of things to try. Boma is my family’s favorite breakfast place in Disney World and when we visited again last month, it did not disappoint!

Thinking of checking it out for yourself on your next Disney World vacation? Read on for everything you need to know about the Boma breakfast buffet.

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Planned Spontaneity: MyMagic+ for the Spur-of-the-Moment Vacationer

by on July 17, 2015

Fastpasses

Ahhh, the good old days!

MyMagic+. Love it or hate it, it’s the reality of Walt Disney World vacations. Whether you are making dining reservations at 180 days or FastPass+ selections at 60 days, MyMagic+ is enough to make your average spontaneous vacation-goer break out in hives. Like me, I’m sure you’ve heard — an possibly participate it — talk of the good old days, where paper FASTPASSES were king and you could always find a walk-up reservation. Alas, we live in the now, and right now planning ahead is the name of the game. So, what is an impulsive tourist to do?

I’m going to preface my answer by first calling myself out as the type-A, uber planner that I am. I’m absolutely thrilled to have joined the Touring Plans team, in part because Touring Plans has fed my Walt Disney World planning obsession for years. It’s true, I think MyMagic+ is about as awesome as your average Disney cupcake, but I understand that I might be the minority on this one. (Don’t judge me!) But just because I am a planner, that doesn’t mean my traveling party is, so I’ve managed to develop a formula for leveraging MyMagic+ to its fullest advantage while leaving in room for those fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants types.

Festival of Fantasy Circus Swing

Looking to fly by the seat of your pants?

At this point I’m sure you’re asking, “What is this magical Disney secret?! Open those gates so I may unlock your secrets and exploit your riches!” (Humor me, people.) Are you ready for the big reveal? My huge secret to Disney happiness? This is it: I PLAN FOR SPONTANEITY. Before you start calling me crazy, follow my train of thought on this one. I know that if I want to eat at the restaurants I want, I have to make the reservations far in advance. I know that if I want to ride the rides I want, I have to book my FastPass+ selections as soon as the window opens. No matter what, these two things hold true. So if I want to have an unscheduled block of time to do whatever I decide in the moment, I have to plan for it.

Easier said than done, right? Not necessarily. I’ve spent the last couple of years improving my approach, and while it may not be perfect, it is pretty serviceable, if I do say so myself. I’ll walk you through my method step-by-step, and perhaps you’ll find some aspects that will work for your traveling party!

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Disney World Tips for Making Rope Drop with Young Kids

by on July 10, 2015

Magic Kingdom Welcome Show

©Disney

Rope Drop: A term referring to the time at which a Disney theme park opens.

Making It To Rope Drop With Young Kids: The seemingly unreachable goal attempted by many enthusiastic parents visiting Disney World.

See also: crying children, stressed-out parents, the impossible dream

If you are planning a Disney World vacation you’ve probably already heard the all important tip…”If you do nothing else, you must make it to Rope Drop!” Frequent visitors to Disney World will tell you that those first two hours of the day in the parks are absolutely critical to maximizing your vacation fun. If you are anything like most of us parents after you heard this, you thought to yourself…”How the heck am I supposed to get my entire family up, ready, fed, out the door, and to the park so early in the morning? This is never going to happen!” Well, stress not, fellow parent! Follow these simple tips for an easier morning and an awesome viewing spot up front at the Magic Kingdom Welcome Show.

Now, I’m going to assume since you are a reader of TouringPlans that you are not opposed to planning. I sure hope so, because making rope drop with young kiddos in tow takes a fair amount of effort in advance. But believe me, when you walk right on Peter Pan with no wait, you’ll be so glad you did the work!

Preparing For Rope Drop Before You Leave Home

Believe it or not, making rope drop starts before you even leave home. Some good advanced prep work and packing is the key first step. Now grab yourself some Ziploc bags and let’s get busy!

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Lessons Learned from the Disney World Lost and Found

by on July 7, 2015

It’s hard to truly grasp the scope of the lost and found operation at Walt Disney World resort. Tens of thousands of guests lose thousands of items every day. Working at Magic Kingdom Guest Relations, I became part of the system that tries to reunite guests with their lost items. Seeing the items guests lose every day, I saw some patterns I hope will help you keep all of your belongings.

Disney World Theme Park Lost and Found

The Theme Park Lost and Found contains thousands of hats, sunglasses, and MagicBands. Photo by Maddi Higgins.

Sunglasses and hats are easy to lose.

Sunglasses and hats are far and beyond the most often lost items in the park. The lost and found has more Ray Bans than a Sunglasses Hut. While I’m sure your Gucci shades look really cute, you will be very disappointed when you inevitably leave them in the pouch of Space Mountain. And those warnings to stow your hats and sunglasses on the wildest ride in the wilderness are no joke: huge bags filled with hats and sunglasses are lugged every night by Cast Members from the roller coasters who spent the evening clearing the track of lost items. It’s often difficult to reunite guests with their lost sunglasses or hats just because of the sheer volume that must be sorted through to find the right ones, especially at the end of the night.

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Menu Monday: Recreating Disney Dishes + Video

by on July 6, 2015

Photo - Angela Dahlgren

Gratin de Macaroni

Do you ever just sit and daydream about your favorite meals?

…Oh, that’s just me? Well, anyways…

One of my favorite parts of visiting Walt Disney World is trying out the different cuisines and restaurants on property. As I live in the Midwest, I’m limited in the number of times a year I can travel and satiate my palate.

So in an effort to get my Disney food fix, I’ve researched the internet and found recipes for two Disney dishes that I will be recreating for you today!

 

First up, Gratin de Macaroni which can be found at the France Pavilion in the World Showcase at Epcot.

I was inspired by two recipes from Allears.net and Disneyfoodblog.com, so here is the resulting recipe.

Ingredients – Gratin de Macaroni

  • 1 Box of macaroni
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Nutmeg
  • Gruyère cheese (I used the entire block)
  • Shredded parmesan cheese (to top the dish)
  • 4 tablespoons Unsalted butter
  • 1/3 Cup Flour
  • 3 cups Milk (I used whole milk)

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The Land Pavilion Triple Play: Ride, Tour, Eat at Epcot

by on June 30, 2015

© Sarah Graffam

Epcot’s Behind the Seeds tour (photos by Sarah Graffam)

The Land Pavilion in Epcot’s Future World offers Disney World guests a cornucopia of experiences with its multiple attractions, a fantastic food court, a table service restaurant (that rotates!), and a behind-the-scenes tour. Even better is that many of these experiences are an excellent way to appreciate the original goal of Epcot—for guests to have fun while they learn. For these reasons, my family recently decided to complete a Land Pavilion Triple Play. Come along as we ride, eat, and tour at the Land Pavilion!

Creating a Touring Plan for a Triple Play

TouringPlans logoI decided that creating a personalized Touring Plan would be an excellent way to test the timing of spending an afternoon in Epcot experiencing the Land Pavilion’s attractions, taking its Behind the Seeds tour, and eating dinner at the Garden Grill Restaurant.

This plan would include a FastPass+ reservation at the Land’s Soarin’. To round out our allotment of three FastPass+ reservations per day, we would start our plan with just enough time to use FastPass+ at Spaceship Earth and the Seas with Nemo & Friends before heading to the Land Pavilion.

My first step was to book the Behind the Seeds tour. Booking the last tour of the day—at 4:30 PM—seemed like the best way to maintain a relaxed pace throughout the rest of our day. At the very latest, we would arrive at the Land Pavilion with enough time to experience the Living with the Land attraction before the tour. Living with the Land is a boat cruise through the same greenhouses where the in-depth Behind the Seeds walking tour takes place. This makes it a perfect way to get excited for the tour.

© Sarah Graffam

Guests enjoying Living with the Land boat attraction

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Update: 10 Things to Know About Disney’s Armed Forces Salute

by on June 29, 2015

If you didn’t hear the good news, Disney has extended the Armed Forces Salute to cover the rest of 2015! Yay, Disney! Again! I have covered the Armed Forces Salute in a previous blog post, and this is an update of that post with the latest changes. Let me once again begin this blog post with a heartfelt thank you from me to Disney on behalf of our military personnel and their families. I’ve been a military spouse for 26 years now (and a military brat before that), and I understand the personal sacrifices that are made each and every day by Service members and their families. It’s awesome that Disney recognizes it in some way as well.

Disney has sold slightly discounted (in the neighborhood of 5% off) tickets for the Armed Forces at military bases for many years. The last several years there has been a substantial additional discount on certain tickets for military, but with more restrictions (and much bigger savings). Once called the Armed Forces Salute, the last couple of years Disney hasn’t really made a point of calling it anything other than a military discount. To distinguish between the ever present slightly discounted tickets and the steeply discounted tickets I’ll refer to it as the Armed Forces Salute.

The Armed Forces Salute can be a bit confusing. To be fair, the military has lots of categories of military personnel (active duty, Reserve, National Guard, retired, separated, Allied military assigned to the US, etc…), so it’s no surprise there are lots of nuances to Disney’s Armed Forces Salute.

Fantasyland Wide 2 009 1. Eligibility – Eligibility has changed over the years and actually seems clearer now.  Any active duty or retired Service member, National Guardsman, Reservist, or Coast Guard is eligible. Foreign military assigned to US military bases (with a US ID card) in the United States are eligible, as are 100% disabled veterans with an ID card that says “DAV/PRIM” and Medal of Honor recipients. If the eligible member is not present, their spouse is eligible. That’s it, though. No matter how deserving some other groups are (and there are many deserving groups), Disney did not choose to include those groups within this specific promotion. But, even within these rules there are complicated situations, so call Disney (or ask in the comments section below) if you still have questions.

2. Promotion Dates – The current Armed Forces Salute was scheduled to end on October 3, 2015 but Disney has now extended this promotion to end in December of 2015. The room discount will end December 23, 2015 and the tickets must be used by December 20, 2015. The Disney World tickets must be purchased by December 17, 2015 and Disneyland tickets by December 18, 2015.

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The Amazing Race Around World Showcase

by on June 29, 2015

Amazing Race Around World ShowcaseA few weeks ago I shared one my family’s favorite Walt Disney World vacation traditions — “The Amazing Race Around Disney World”. If you happened to miss the other article, I’ll catch you up. My family loves competition, Disney World, and reality TV; specifically the popular series “The Amazing Race“.

Each year during our summer Disney World vacation, we create our own version of the “Amazing Race” where we compete in challenges while racing around Walt Disney World. In the last article, I included a complete version of a race that my family had used in the past and mentioned that I was working on another one. We received an overwhelming response to the post and many requests that I share my newest race. So for all of you fellow Disney World and “Amazing Race” fans, please read on for my latest and greatest “Amazing Race Around World Showcase”!

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