Posts Tagged ‘touring plan’

Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party Touring Plan Review

by on August 28, 2017

August 25th was the first Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween party for 2017. I volunteered my wife and myself to test out the premium touring plan, Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party for Parents with Small Children (Focus on Treats). It’s a great touring plan if you’ve already covered most of the Magic Kingdom. The primary focus of the touring plan is on meeting characters, trick-or-treating, and the activities that can only be found during Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party. It also includes tips for finding great viewing spots for the 9:15 pm Mickey’s Boo-To-You Parade and 10:15 pm HalloWishes fireworks show.

The touring plan has been updated after our experience. We found the plan was very ambitious. Most of our touring plans are designed using our software and historical data, however with unique character meet and greets in this event, the wait times can vary dramatically. This plan is more of a strategy to navigate the Halloween party, rather than a precise itinerary.

The plan starts in Adventureland for character meet and greets and trick-or-treating before the 9:15 pm parade. After the parade, we squeezed in a ride on the Haunted Mansion before heading to Main Street to see HalloWishes. Then it is off to Tomorrowland and Fantasyland for more characters and candy.

It has been a few years since I did the Halloween party but very little has changed.  The markers for the trick-or-treat locations have been changed from a Mickey Ghost to a colorful Mars|Wrigley branded marker. Disney has added multiple party-exclusive Magic Shots, Animated Magic Shots, and photo opportunities from the Disney PhotoPass service. The candy path that went from New Fantasyland to Space Mountain is no more. The top-off candy at the exit at the end of the party has also departed. (But have no fear–with trick or treating, you can still get a full bag of candy by the end of the night.)

Copyright Disney

What We Learned

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How to Pick the Best Park for Each Day of Your Walt Disney World Trip

by on August 7, 2017

Families often ask us to help pick the best park to visit for each day of their Walt Disney World vacation. In fact, it’s one of the reasons why we created our Walt Disney World Crowd Calendar.

When we answer those questions, the first thing we try to figure out is what “best” means for this family, on this trip. To do that, we ask questions about when the family is going, how long they’re staying, how many times they want to visit each park, and so on.  Once we know that, we can narrow down the list of choices and start talking about the pros and cons of each possibility.

Below is the process we use to pick the best theme park to visit on any day of a trip to Walt Disney World. It’s easy to extend this process to include days off, visits to water parks, or other theme parks. Let us know in the comments below if your family considers other things when visiting a park, or if you’d like to see another example with water parks and more.

When Are You Going?

The first step is to look at the Crowd Calendar for the entirety of your trip. For an example, let’s assume I have an upcoming trip for October 1-7, 2017.

October 1-7, 2017, Crowd Calendar

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Testing Print vs App Magic Kingdom Touring Plans

by on December 7, 2016

Laurel and I spent this past Saturday in the Magic Kingdom. Our job was to see how much time you can save in line by following a touring plan on our Lines app, as compared to a printed touring plan.

The big advantage to using the app, of course, is that you can update your plan as you move through the park. That’s great if you want to add more attractions, breaks, or Fastpasses. It also means that we can update your plan to take advantage of unexpected short lines, and route you around any trouble spots that pop up. We wanted to see how much time that could save you in line.

Here’s the plan we both started with, taking us through lunch. We used the plans’ slower walking speed to mimic what a family with small children might experience.

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Touring Plans for Early Morning Magic and Custom Ride Durations

by on November 10, 2016

Today we’re releasing two updates to our touring plan software:

Disney’s Early Morning Magic

Disney’s Early Morning Magic is held on selected Sundays and Tuesdays throughout the year. For an additional cost of $69 per adult and $59 per child, you get access to 3 Fantasyland rides (The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, and Peter Pan’s Flight), plus breakfast. The event starts around 7:45 a.m. and runs through 9 a.m., when the park opens to regular guests.

When creating a Magic Kingdom touring plan for a day on which Early Morning Magic is held, you’ll be asked whether you plan to attend the event, along with any other special events taking place in the park on the same day:

extramagicmorningsupport

The touring plan software knows which attractions are open during the event, and will show you the expected wait times for each attraction. (The waits seem to be very low.)

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An Epcot one-day touring plan with Frozen Ever After

by on May 21, 2016

This plan assumes: A willingness to experience all major rides and shows; Soarin’, Test Track, and Frozen Ever After are in the same FastPass+ tier and you can choose only one in advance; Frozen Ever After opens at 11 a.m.

Touring Epcot requires a lot of walking regardless of whether you’re using a plan. This plan uses a small amount of backtracking in order to avoid long waits in line.

The opening of Frozen Ever After complicates touring Epcot for a couple of reasons. Because it’s in the same FastPass+ tier as Soarin’ and Test Track, you can only obtain one in advance. It’s also unlikely to have much day-of FastPass+ availability, because it’s based on a hit film and is one of the few things in Epcot specifically designed for children. And its location in World Showcase makes it impractical as a detour while you’re in Future World.

For those reasons, we think you’ll save more time by choosing Frozen as an advance FastPass reservation than Soarin’ or Test Track. As in years past, we suggest visiting Soarin’ as soon as the park opens, and without FastPass+. Your next visit should be to Test Track, making use of the single-rider line there if possible. Your total wait in line for both attractions should be 40 minutes or fewer. For comparison, we estimate the wait at Frozen to be at least 40 to 60 minutes most of the day. When you factor in the backtracking involved in the alternatives, FastPass+ at Frozen seems to make the most sense.

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Park Touring Plans Now Handle Ride Closures

by on May 2, 2016

Lines Showing Offline EventWe’ve updated our Lines mobile app to route you around unexpected ride breakdowns while you’re in the parks. If your Magic Kingdom touring plan calls for you to ride Space Mountain soon and Lines learns that Space Mountain is temporarily closed, upon optimization Lines will adjust your touring plan by moving Space Mountain to later in the day, after the time when Lines expects it to reopen.

This new feature keeps you one step ahead of the crowds by finding the best attractions to see now, and by knowing the best time to schedule a closed ride later in the day. It might also save you from walking across the park to find a closed ride.

The idea for this feature came from us testing our touring plan software. Three major ride breakdowns happened in the first few hours I was in the park. My work-around was to just skip those steps in the plan, but it would have been great if Lines detected the ride closures and re-did the plan for me automatically. Now Lines does that whenever I optimize my plan.

We’ve also added a new text field to Lines showing our estimate of when the ride might re-open.

Behind the Scenes

Once Lines learns that an attraction has gone offline, it has to estimate how long it’ll be until that ride re-opens. To help with this, we’ve been collecting data on temporary ride closures for the past few years.

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New Disney’s Hollywood Studios Late Arrivals Touring Plan: A Field Test

by on April 28, 2016

Sunset Blvd (1)For decades, a truism of Walt Disney World touring was that you had to arrive before rope drop to efficiently experience everything in the park in one day. But what if a combination of attraction closures and FastPass+ reservations made it possible to sleep in and still experience everything of note at Disney’s Hollywood Studios — including most of the new Star Wars entertainment — before closing time? That was the theory behind Len’s new Disney’s Hollywood Studios One Day Touring Plan for Late Arrivals, and I put it to the test last Friday, April 22, a day that was predicted to be a 7 out of 10 on our Crowd Calendar.

For the TL;DR crowd, I’ll cut to the chase: with our new Late Arrival touring plan, and the proper FastPass+ reservations, it is now possible (even on a busy day) to arrive at Disney’s Hollywood Studios at noon and see every worthwhile attraction before the evening ends. This is great news for families who want to hit the snooze button after a late night in the Magic Kingdom or Animal Kingdom, once nighttime hours there begin.

 

Preparing to use the Disney’s Hollywood Studios Late Arrivals Touring Plan

There is a catch: you’ll need to do some preparation in My Disney Experience ahead of time. The key to this plan is to secure consecutive FastPasses for Toy Story Midway Mania, Star Tours, and Tower of Terror beginning as soon as possible after your noon arrival time. In my case, I booked Toy Story for 12:15 p.m.-1:15 p.m.; Star Tours for 1:15 p.m.-2:15pm; and Tower of Terror for 2:15 p.m.-3:15 p.m.

Late arrivals

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Our Trip Planning Robot Overlords

by on March 21, 2016

Magic-Kingdom-Touring-Planjpg

A Magic Kingdom touring plan,
created by a machine

While I was testing our touring plan software in Walt Disney World last week, a computer named AlphaGo was beating one of the world’s best players of a game called Go. What made it remarkable is that Go is an enormously complicated game – there are something like 10^170 possible moves (that’s a 1 followed by 170 0’s).  And that gave me the idea to express, in terms of games, how complicated it is to create an efficient theme park touring plan, and why we think computers can help.

The chart below shows some common games, an estimate of how many different ways there are to play that game, and what that complexity is similar to in terms of Magic Kingdom rides. For example, there are just under 32,000 ways to play the game tic-tac-toe. That’s in the same ballpark as the 40,320 ways to ride 8 attractions in the Magic Kingdom.

Game Ways to Play Like a Touring Plan with
Tic-Tac-Toe 31,896 8 attractions
Connect 4 4.5 x 10^12 15-16 attractions
Checkers 5 x 10^20 21-22 attractions
Chess 10^40 to 10^50 35-42 attractions
Go 10^170 106 attractions

 

For comparison, our 1-Day Magic Kingdom Touring Plan for Adults has 26 steps, including lunch and dinner. Finding a good touring plan for that is “only” about 370,000 times more complicated than finding a good way to play checkers. I’ve helped write a fair number of books about getting the most out of your day at a theme park. But no book, no matter how good, can give you enough tips, tricks, and rules to sort through that kind of complexity. Put another way: Do I think I could beat a computer at checkers after reading one book on it? No. I might not make some common, rookie mistakes, but I won’t do well.

You’re probably thinking: Sure, there are a bajillion possible combinations of Magic Kingdom rides, but I can eliminate most of them pretty easily – don’t visit Country Bear Jamboree first, for example. But that’s misleading for a few reasons. For one thing, there plenty of scenarios – like touring plans that begin around noon – in which visiting Country Bear Jamboree would probably be a good idea.

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The Magic Kingdom with ride breakdowns and limited FastPass+ options

by on March 18, 2016

MBig Thunder (4)y visit to the Magic Kingdom last Sunday could have been a disaster. I waited too long to make FastPass+ reservations, for one thing. When I did – three days before my trip – none were available for Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, and only late afternoon reservations remained for most Fantasyland attractions. Even worse, there were 3 long ride breakdowns during the day I visited – at Pirates, Big Thunder, and the Peoplemover – that would have been hard to handle without a computer to adjust my plan. But it gave us some great ideas for improving the Optimizer, our touring plan software. Here’s how my day unfolded.

Before I left, I made a copy of our standard Magic Kingdom One-Day Touring Plan for Adults. The Magic Kingdom was open from 9 AM to 10 PM, and we’d predicted a crowd level of 6 on our 1-to-10 crowd calendar. I was able to get these FastPasses:

Space Mountain at 9:15 AM

Big Thunder Mountain at 10:15 AM

Peter Pan’s Flight at 5:05 PM

I also set the touring plan walking speed to its fastest setting, and told it to minimize waiting in line. Here’s the touring plan the Optimizer came up with:

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Touring Epcot Without Fastpass+ or Dining Reservations

by on September 7, 2015

Epcot MapAs a reader of the TouringPlans blog, I’m going to assume that you like to spend some time planning your Walt Disney World vacations. And if you’re anything like me, you might spend a lot of time planning (okay…obsessing) about all of the details that go into a perfect day.

So what is an uber-planner to do when they find themselves in Epcot with no Fastpass+ or dining reservations booked? No need to panic! I’m going to share with you my favorite personalized Epcot touring plan that requires no Fastpass+ or advance dining reservations, but still allows you to experience all that Epcot has to offer.

Please read on to see my touring plan in action!

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