Posts Tagged ‘holiday’

Seth Kubersky’s Best Week Ever January 21, 2016: Magic Kingdom Martin Luther King Weekend Crowd Observations

by on January 21, 2016

Here at Walt Disney World, it sometimes seems like we just barely survive one holiday peak season before another wave of tourists arrive. After the overwhelming crowds of Christmas and New Year, Orlando’s parks saw a brief respite before Martin Luther King weekend came around and packed the parks again. For this edition of Best Week Ever, we’re going to brave the happy hordes and enjoy a Magic Kingdom Martin Luther King weekend visit.

The Sunday before Martin Luther King Day dawned overcast and blustery in the low 50s (what we locals call “Florida Cold”). But by the time I arrived at the Magic Kingdom’s parking lot, the weather was beginning to clear up into a gorgeous day.

 

Magic Kingdom Martin Luther King weekend

Grey skies, sweatshirts, and shorts: yup, it’s winter in Orlando!

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Seth Kubersky’s Best Week Ever January 7, 2016: Epcot Holiday Hangover

by on January 7, 2016

Welcome to the first Best Week Ever of 2016! I hope that you all had a wonderful New Year’s Eve celebration, and didn’t suffer too badly for it the next day. As it turns out, Walt Disney World itself requires a little “hair of the dog” to recover from the previous week’s capacity crowds. Peak season may have passed, but the Epcot holiday hangover lingers on…

My first Epcot visit of 2016 occurred 4 days into the new year, but the aftermath of holiday crowds — and the flood of cars that had to be parked on every available surface, including the lawn — was still in evidence as I approached the park.

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Seth Kubersky’s Best Week Ever December 31, 2015: Surviving Magic Kingdom Holiday Week Crowds

by on December 31, 2015

Do you love ginormous crowds of people, endless seas of strollers, and triple-digit wait times? If so, you’ve picked the Best Week Ever to visit Walt Disney World. But even if you are allergic to all of the above, it is actually possible survive the madness of Magic Kingdom holiday week crowds, and even enjoy a visit to America’s most popular theme park during the busiest week of the year, with the proper preparation.

In contrast to my relatively calm Christmas Day at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, my December 29 visit to the Magic Kingdom came smack in the center of 2015’s winter peak season psychosis. I braved the Magic Kingdom holiday week crowds in order to share with you a first-person perspective on navigating Disney when attendance is at its most extreme.

Without that professional motivation, I’d normally avoid Walt Disney World on days when our Crowd Calendar hits 10 out of 10, but many visitors don’t have another option due to work and school schedules. If the busy holiday week is the only time your family can visit WDW, I hope my experiences will help educate you about the perks and pitfalls of a peak season vacation.

 

Magic Kingdom Holiday Week Parking

As any Magic Kingdom veteran knows, simply arriving at the park is an adventure in itself; that’s doubly true during peak holiday weeks. My day of queuing began around 9 a.m., many yards before the Magic Kingdom parking toll booths.

Magic kingdom holiday week crowds parking

 

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Christmas Day at Animal Kingdom

by on December 30, 2015

Christmas Day at Animal Kingdom

Enjoy Christmas Day at Animal Kingdom without getting out of your pink bunny pajamas. (Photos by Seth Kubersky)

No matter which park you pick, the Christmas holiday is one of the busiest times to visit Orlando. But if you must attend a Walt Disney World theme park during the peak travel system, I discovered that you could do worse than spending Christmas Day at Animal Kingdom.

Animal Kingdom may seem like a strange Christmas Day selection, since the park is positively Scrooge-like in the seasonal cheer department when compared to the other WDW parks. There’s nothing at Animal Kingdom on the scale of Magic Kingdom’s Holiday Wishes, DHS’s Osborne Family Spectacle, or Epcot’s Holidays Around the World; there isn’t even an Animal Kingdom Christmas parade anymore.

But that lack of seasonal draws made Christmas Day at Animal Kingdom a great idea, if your plans included enjoying attractions without asphyxiating in capacity crowds. This may change after Avatar arrives, but as the least-attended Walt Disney World park Animal Kingdom was a relative oasis for those seeking a smidgen of elbow room.

On my way into Walt Disney World property on Christmas morning, road signs advised that the Magic Kingdom was closed. Over at Animal Kingdom, however, there were acres of empty parking spot. Since this lot is the easiest of the four parks to get in and out of, consider using it when heading to one of the other parks on peak days.

 

For Christmas 2015, the entrance to Animal Kingdom was decked out with the usual giant tree, and new security scanning stations. Unless you are one of the few folks randomly selected for scanning, the new procedures appear have little to no effect on your entry speed.

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2015 Comedy Warehouse Holiday Special Now Playing at Disney’s Hollywood Studios

by on December 23, 2015

2015 Comedy Warehouse Holiday Special

Enjoy the 2015 Comedy Warehouse Holiday Special from the comfort of your couch (photos & video by Seth Kubersky)

The Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights may get all the publicity, but one of my favorite parts of the holidays at Disney’s Hollywood Studios is the chance to reunite with performers from the former Pleasure Island. The 2015 Comedy Warehouse Holiday Special is now playing for a limited run in DHS’s Premier Theater, once again rekindling the Yule Log of improv comedy at Walt Disney World.

 

A tribute to the popular comedy club that once anchored Downtown Disney’s Pleasure Island in the days before Disney Springs, the 2015 Comedy Warehouse Holiday Special brings a half dozen of the beloved venue’s veterans together for half-hour shows of skillfully improvised skits and seasonal songs.

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Seth Kubersky’s Best Week Ever December 17, 2015: A Times Square Disney Christmas

by on December 17, 2015

Explore the Times Square Disney Store and more at Best Week Ever travels from MCO to NYC! (Photos/Video by Seth Kubersky)

Times Square disney

‘Tis the season for snowmen, sledding, and snuggling up by a fireplace…unless you live in Orlando, where temperatures are currently in the 80s. So for that real holiday feeling, I flew up north to visit family…and found New York City unseasonably spring-like with near-record highs in the mid-60s. Despite the wacky weather, I was able to able to soak up some of that world-famous Manhattan holiday spirit during a Best Week Ever visit to the heart of Broadway, where some familiar Floridian faces can also be found — along with some frightening ones. Join me now for A Times Square Disney Christmas, with special guest stars Charlie Brown, Geoffrey the Giraffe, and an all-star cast straight from the Island of Misfit toys.

I was one of approximately 1,000,000 people in line for the Hamilton ticket lottery. No, I did not win. I blame Aaron Burr…

 

Times Square Disney Store

From The Lion King to Aladdin, Disney is all over Times Square, but the Mouse’s flagship store is ground zero for fans of Mickey’s film franchises. Though there is precious little in the Times Square Disney Store that directly relates to the Orlando theme parks, you will find a wide range of almost every other brand of Mouse merchandise, along with a few surprising bargains.

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“No Planning” Holiday Dining at Disney World

by on December 6, 2015

Believe it or not...sometimes not every table is filled months in advance!

Believe it or not…sometimes not every table is filled months in advance!

It is no secret that making dining plans for an entire Walt Disney World vacation can be a difficult and time consuming task. This task becomes even harder during the busy holiday seasons when Advance Dining Reservations can completely fill up months ahead of time. While we can not stress enough how important the planning process is for dining, touring, etc. (otherwise what would we be doing running a website like this?) we also must admit that there are times when it is enjoyable, and even a relief, to visit Walt Disney World with no plans and to simply “play it by ear.” So even though we can’t really recommend visiting Walt Disney World at the holidays with no planning, we can tell you that if you decide to go this route, you will not be completely out of luck  for eating a quality holiday meal. Here are three suggestions for how you might approach the situation (yes, this is a planning guide for a trip with no planning…sometimes we can’t help ourselves.)

 

Fife & Drum SignBook A Last Minute ADR

As of the morning before Thanksgiving 2015, a quick MyDisneyExperience search of all restaurants at Walt Disney World for an afternoon reservation on Thanksgiving for a family of four yielded plenty of results including restaurants in all four theme parks, Disney Springs and plenty of resorts throughout property, many of which offer special holiday menus. So even with only one day of planning, it is possible to get an ADR for a holiday meal. It should also be noted that Disney is well aware that the vast majority of its guests on Thanksgiving day will be looking for a meal that at least in some way contains turkey, dressing, etc. and some restaurants that normally wouldn’t serve this kind of cuisine add it to the menu for the holiday including Magic Kingdom’s Tony’s Town Square Restaurant and Animal Kingdom Lodge’s Sanaa. Similarly, ham is among the most common standard menu items on buffets and can easily be found on menus throughout property for Christmas and Easter meals. The point being that you may not even need to sacrifice your traditional holiday menu items by booking a last minute ADR at wherever is available.

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Seth Kubersky’s Best Week Ever December 3, 2015: Black Friday at Universal Orlando

by on December 3, 2015

black friday universal orlando best week ever

The day after Thanksgiving has become one of America’s most important secular holidays, as young and old celebrate capitalism by camping out for dirt-cheap televisions. I was also out there shopping on the big day, but in true Best Week Ever fashion I spent my Black Friday at Universal Orlando among the vacationing throngs.

I started my Black Friday shopping with a major purchase by renewing my Universal Orlando annual pass. After disconts, my Premier pass costs just under $1 per day. That’s a lot more than it was when I first became a passholder 15 years ago, but still a great value considering how quickly the parks has been adding new attractions.

 

Once inside Islands of Adventure, I was greeted by the still-jarring sight of the Incredible Hulk Coaster…or rather the lack thereof.

 

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7 Must-Do Holiday Activities to Do at The Disneyland Resort

by on December 2, 2015

It's a Small World Holiday

Even though It’s a Small World is not on my list, it is a stunning attraction to see during the holidays.

At the Disneyland Resort, the holiday season (which started November 13th, 2015 and ends January 6th, 2016) is the best time to visit the park. Even though this time of the year is the busiest, it is still totally worth it. During the holiday season The Disneyland Resort feels like totally different theme park. Disney spares no expense when it comes to the holiday season and there are special activities taking place throughout The Resort. But that leaves an important question: which ones should you experience? Well, I am here to help.

If you are planning on staying at The Resort for more than one day, I suggest trying to partake in all the special holiday celebrations. These shows and events only take place during the holiday season so take advantage of them while you can. However, for those of you that are not staying multiple days, like myself when I visit in December, I have come up with seven holiday activities and events that you need to experience. These events are not in any particular order but they all should to be in your Touring Plan.

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Universal Orlando Garage Sale Ends Saturday

by on November 20, 2015

universal orlando garage sale

It’s a bargain hunter’s parade through Saturday at the Universal Orlando Garage Sale. (Photos by Seth Kubersky)

If you are in Orlando and have a theme park fan on your holiday shopping list, you’ll want to swing by the Universal Orlando garage sale before it ends on Saturday, and stock up on dirt-cheap stocking stuffers. Once every year or so, Universal unloads unsold merchandise to its employees, annual passholders, and the generous public at a ginormous discount, and 2015’s garage sale has arrived just in time for some pre-Thanksgiving bargain hunting.

 

The Universal Orlando Garage Sale takes place daily through Saturday, November 21, from 1 p.m. to 7 p.m. daily. The event is literally a garage sale, taking place inside the first floor of the employee parking garage at the corner Turkey Lake Road and Vineland Road. The first hours of the sale on Tuesday were reserved for Annual Passholders, but now the event is open to all; I was not asked to show ID to either enter the garage or make purchases. Enter the employee parking garage from Vineland Road via Production Plaza (just past The Bell at Universal Apartments) and park on the surface lot outside the garage, then follow the signs inside.

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