Posts Tagged ‘touring plans’

Doomsday Prepping: Preliminary Touring Plan for Universal Orlando’s Halloween Horror Nights XXIII

by on September 17, 2013

In just a few days, on Friday September 20, the 23rd annual edition of Universal Orlando’s Halloween Horror Nights will open its zombie-filled gates to the hordes of gore-hungry fans who have made HHN the nation’s most popular and industry-awarded haunted theme park event.

Originally a locals-friendly filler during a normally slow season, Universal Studios Florida’s Halloween celebration has grown so famous that the 27 event nights between 9/20 and 11/2 will provide a sizable percentage of USF’s annual attendance statistics. Much like visiting any of Orlando’s theme parks during a peak holiday season, an evening at HHN can be tremendous fun if you go in with a solid plan and sane expectations; without those things…well, you might be better off eaten by zombies…

Every year, Universal’s creative designers shake up the event, so it’s impossible to predict exactly how things will play out until opening weekend has passed, and even then operational tweaks will continue to be made throughtout October. However, after years of experience with HHN (I’ve attended every edition since 1996) we can make some educated guesses towards a preliminary touring plan for tackling Universal’s elaborate (and infamously long-queued) haunted mazes.

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5 Ways to Start Your Day in Disney California Adventure

by on March 18, 2013

All photos by Seth Kubersky

Recently, I wrote about five of my favorite ways to begin my day at Disneyland Park. Until this past summer, Disneyland’s original park was most visitors’ first destination, with its little brother Disney California Adventure an afterthought on many itineraries.

Now, how the tables have turned: since last June’s grand re-opening of DCA, headlined by Cars Land and the Radiator Springs Racers E-Ticket, the former also-ran is often drawing as many (or even more) “first click” entries as its older sibling. That means more and more visitors are starting their Disney day on Buena Vista Street instead of Main Street, U.S.A.

As a result, we advise you arrive at DCA’s front gate at least 45 minutes before the official opening time; guests are typically allowed into the entry plaza at least 30 minutes early, and Disneyland’s current ID-checking procedures can make for slow lines at the turnstiles. Most importantly, don’t visit DCA on an Extra Magic Hour┬ámorning (currently Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Sunday) unless you are staying in a Disney resort hotel and can take advantage of the early entry.

Once you are inside the park and awaiting rope drop, what to do? Here are my top five tips for making mornings at DCA more memorable:

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5 Ways to Start Your Day In Disneyland Park

by on March 14, 2013

Moments before rope drop at Disneyland Park (all photos by Seth Kubersky)

If you’ve been following us at Touring Plans for a while, you already know the first and most important step on any Disneyland itinerary: arrive at the front gate early (at least 40 minutes before opening during busy seasons) with your tickets in hand.

But what do you do first once you’re through the turnstiles? People have their own traditions for where to head first at the Happiest Place on Earth. Here are five of my favorite ways to kick off my day at Disneyland Park.

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What’s New In The Unofficial Guide to Disneyland 2013?

by on September 11, 2012

On behalf of my co-authors Bob Sehlinger and Len Testa, I’m proud to announce that The Unofficial Guide to Disneyland 2013 is now available via Amazon and Barnes & Noble, a few days before the book’s 9/19 official release date. It can be pre-ordered from iBooks in advance of its digital release later this month.

This has been a year of remarkable change at the Disneyland Resort, and our latest update to the Unofficial Guide reflects all the radical reimagineering the Anaheim attractions have undergone.

Here’s a rundown on all the fresh material you will find in our 2013 Guide:

Introduction

  • An all-new humorous “The Importance of Being Goofy” essay.
  • Revised overview of the resort, highlighting expansions at Disney California Adventure.
  • Updated comparison chart of Disneyland Attractions vs. their equivalents at Magic Kingdom in Florida.

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Cars Land Survival Guide: General Admission

by on July 18, 2012

Arrive at DCA at least 45 minutes before park opening...

Looking for traffic avoidance advice as you drive down the crowded Route 66? Well, pull up to the pump and fill up on some free touring info, certain to make your first (or next) visit to Cars Land at at Disney California Adventure a little less fraught.

Recently, we related our step-by-step plan for surviving the Early Entry hour at Cars Land. Since the publication of that piece, Disnelyand announced the expansion of Extra Magic Hours for resort hotel guests to 7 days per week at both parks, now through September 13, 2012. Our advice is to take full advantage of the early admission programs if you are eligible for them, but that’s out of reach for the bulk of visitors this summer.

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Cars Land Survival Guide: Early Entry

by on July 11, 2012

7 a.m., seconds before rope from in Cars Land for Early Entry. (All photos by Seth Kubersky)

The new Cars Land attractions are barely three weeks old, but their popularity has already pushed the Disneyland Resort in general, and the Disney California Adventure park in particular, to record levels of attendance. The old conventional wisdom was that the sparsely-attended second gate didn’t require the same assiduous planning as its older sibling to enjoy in a single day. But at least until the Cars Land hoopla dies down — which we don’t expect to happen any time this summer — you’ll need an efficient itinerary to absorb all the relaunched park has to offer.

The 2013 edition of The Unofficial Guide to Disneyland will soon be winging its way to the presses, packed with our brand-new optimized touring plans for tackling Disney California Adventure’s latest additions. Unfortunately, it will arrive on store shelves too late to help those of you planning to visit within the next few months. Therefore, in honor of the recently-passed Independence Day holdiay, we wave the flag of freedom from frustration, and offer you this “survival guide” to liberating yourself from the long lines in Cars Land.

As always, our number one advice is “Arrive early, arrive early, arrive early!” For the foreseeable future, as far as Cars Land is concerned, you’ll want to add at least two more “arrive earlies” to that mantra. Much of your touring strategy depends on whether you are eligible for one of the park’s Early Entry programs.

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The Disneyland No Rides/No Queues/No Stress Anti-Touring Plan (Part 4)

by on May 7, 2012

By now, you’ve hopefully seen Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3 of our new Disneyland touring plan that aims to take the stress of standing in lines or sitting on rides out of the equation. Though it may not be many guests’ idea of a day in a theme park, it’s perfectly possible to enjoy a full day of low-impact fun at Disneyland without experiencing any of the attractions most people associate with a visit.

Here is the final part of the plan. It focuses on the east side of the park. Despite the density of rides between Fantasyland and Tomorrowland, you can still find plenty of queue-free pastimes.

Fantasyland

  • Climb through the Sleeping Beauty Castle walkthrough, or watch the alternative experience video.
  • Toss a wish into Snow White’s well in front of the castle, and gaze at her grotto of handcrafted sculptures.
  • Cruise the Storybook Land canals or it’s a small world if the lines are short.
  • Try on some mouse ears in the Mad Hatter chapeau shop.
  • Take a break with a vendor treat (like an ear of corn) on the benches at the old motor boat dock across from the Matterhorn.
  • Stick your head in the Fantasy Faire if a show is scheduled, but don’t bother with the massive queue to meet a princess.
  • The elevated mall near it’s a small world is a convenient spot to stand for the parade or video projection show.

Mickey’s Toontown

  • Play with the interactive doodads dotted around the building facades.
  • Take a tour of Mickey and Minnie’s homes, but bail on the meet & greet if the line is out the door.
  • Walk though the cleverly decorated children’s playgrounds, being wary of bouncing babes.

Tomorrowland

  • Take the monorail to Downtown Disney for a bite or a drink, then return (remember your park ticket!).
  • Watch young padawans battle Sith Lords on Tomorrowland Terrace in the Jedi Training Academy show. Check the schedule for other entertainment on this stage.
  • Explore both levels of the Innoventions building, leaving time to take in the Asimo robot demonstration upstairs.
  • Experience Captain EO if you can endure the rock-concert volume. Ask for a non-moving seat in the back to avoid bouncing.
  • The line for Buzz Lightyear moves swiftly, and almost everyone of all ages loves it.
  • Browse the unique Star Wars merchandise in Star Traders with a life-sized X-Wing overhead.
  • Search for imaginatively groomed edible plants along the Tomorrowland walkways.

That concludes this Disneyland anti-touring plan. Did you find it helpful? What else do you think should be included? What other parks do you think could sustain a similar plan? Please let us know in the comments!

 

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The Disneyland No Rides/No Queues/No Stress Anti-Touring Plan (Part 3)

by on April 30, 2012

Earlier, I introduced Part 1 and Part 2 of our new Disneyland touring plan that aims to take the stress of standing in lines or sitting on rides out of the equation. Though it may not be many guests’ idea of a day in a theme park, it’s perfectly possible to enjoy a full day of low-impact fun at Disneyland without experiencing any of the attractions most people associate with a visit.

Here is the next part of the plan. It focuses on the west side of the park, which features some of Disneyland’s most inviting corners to hide from the crowds.

 

Adventureland

  • See the Enchanted Tiki Room, arriving in time to buy a Dole Whip and watch the preshow video.
  • Jungle Cruise is gentle fun if the line isn’t long.
  • If stairs aren’t an issue, climb Tarzan’s Treehouse, or at least enter through the exit and watch the kids going wild on the playground.
  • Consider walking through the Indiana Jones queue at least once, even if you aren’t interested in riding; it’s an impressive (if exhausting) example of scenic design. When the wait is posted over 15 minutes, get a Fastpass to skip the boring exterior line. Before you climb the stairs near the loading bay, you can simply tell a cast member that you want to exit. If you are brave but impatient, Indy’s single rider line often has little to no wait.

New Orleans Square

  • Haunted Mansion and Pirates of the Caribbean both move guests through quickly even on busy days, and neither is likely to disturb any but the most delicate constitutions.
  • Seek out the jazz and pirate bands that play in the area.
  • Poke around the lovingly detailed alleyways around the Pirates of the Caribbean exit.
  • Sit outside at Cafe Orleans with a plate of pommes frites and watch the crowds go by.

Critter Country

  • Stand on the bridge near Splash Mountain and watch riders take the plunge. If you dare to get damp, the single rider wait is usually bearable.
  • Feed the ducks from the porch behind the Hungry Bear restaurant.

Frontierland

  • Take a raft to Tom Sawyer Island and explore the fort and caves (watch your head!).
  • Sail on the Sailing Ship Columbia, Mark Twain, or both. You can usually step on board just before departure time without standing in line, or board early for the best seat at the top front.
  • Don’t miss Billy Hill and the Hillbillies at the Golden Horseshoe. Show up early to grab a box seat and some chili. If the Billys have the day off, the Laughing Stock comics are a fun diversion.
  • Get to know the pigmy goats, pardoned turkeys, and other animals at the Big Thunder Ranch petting zoo, and explore the decor inside Miss Chris’s cabin.
  • Look for the petrified tree that was an anniversary gift from Walt to his wife; she donated it to the park. Also try to spot the jumping fish and railroad tunnel remains from Mine Train Through Nature’s Wonderland, across from Big Thunder Mountain.
  • Pump some quarters into the Frontierland shooting gallery.
  • Walk through the Rancho del Zocalo patio, especially when decorated for Dia de Los Muertos.

Check back later for the next final part in this series. And in the meantime, leave your suggestions for what was missing from this list in the comments below.

 

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The Disneyland No Rides/No Queues/No Stress Anti-Touring Plan (Part 2)

by on April 26, 2012

Earlier this week, I introduced Part 1 of our new Disneyland touring plan that aims to take the stress of standing in lines or sitting on rides out of the equation. Though it may not be many guests’ idea of a day in a theme park, it’s perfectly possible to enjoy a full day of low-impact fun at Disneyland without experiencing any of the attractions most people associate with a visit.

Here is the first part of the plan. It focuses on Main Street USA, a land most guests hurry through, but which holds the lion’s share of the park’s stress-free entertainment.

Main Street USA

  • Ride one of the vintage vehicles up Main Street to the hub, then take a different one back.
  • Look at the memorabilia in the Main Street train station, then ride the rails for a round trip or two around the park.
  • Explore the Disney Gallery’s rotating art exhibit inside the old Bank of Main Street.
  • See Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln, arriving early enough to see the Steve Martin pre-show and examine the lobby’s historical Disneyland models.
  • Check out the Emporium’s animated window displays, and the elevated manequine vignettes inside.
  • Watch the classic short films inside the Main Street Cinema.
  • Grab a cup of coffee from the Market House, and save your receipt for free same-day refills. Snoop on the antique party line telephones, then sit outside at a table on Center Street, listening to the amusing sounds emanating from the windows above.
  • Put some spare change in the primitive 3-D movie viewers in the Penny Arcade.
  • Watch the chefs in the candy store whip up a batch of sweets.
  • Catch a performance or three of the Dapper Dans, Main Street Marching band, or Coke Corner ragtime pianist. The daily flag retreat ceremony is not to be missed.
  • Try to identify the names of Disney Legends and Imagineers honored on Main Street’s windows.
  • Stop and watch some artisans work, like the silhouette cutters, glass sculptors, and watch painters.
  • Ask the prestidigitators at the Magic Shop to demonstrate some tricks for you, and stare at the creepy optical illusion in the window.
  • Sit in the chairs on the porch, on the right side of the street next to the silhouette shop.
  • Take a picture with the Partners statue in the central hub, and appreciate the surrounding flora and fauna.

Check back later for the next two parts in this series. And in the meantime, leave your suggestions for what was missing from this list in the comments below.

 

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The Disneyland No Rides/No Queues/No Stress Anti-Touring Plan (Part 1)

by on April 23, 2012

Last week, I posted a comparison of Disneyland’s Storybook Land Canal Boats and Casey Jr. Circus Train, suggesting that most guests will only include one or the other on their touring plan. That elicited feedback from a reader (ok, Tom Bricker) decrying the concept of choosing between two great attractions in the name of “efficiency.”

I happen to agree. I believe that the best judge of how good an experience you had Disneyland can’t be counted in the number of attractions you ride. That’s why I’m adding a new “No Rides/No Queues/No Stress Anti-Touring Plan” to the 2013 edition of the Unofficial Guide to Disneyland.

The following is a sneak peak of my introduction to this new tour, which flies in the face of our famous time-saving plans, but may appeal to other guests of a more laid-back nature:

Most of our readers are interested in touring plans get get them through as many attractions as possible in the most efficient manner. But, like the authors, some you may have siblings, spouses, or other companions who are congenitally opposed to queuing for anything clanking or claustrophobic. What can Disney do to occupy your Aunt Gertie, who is dead-set against standing in a line, or sitting in anything with a lap bar?

At almost any other theme park, you would be out of luck. But Disneyland Park is one of the few places where you can experience a full day of entertainment without getting on a ride faster than the railroad, and without waiting more than fifteen minutes or so, even during the busiest season.

Yes, you can get your money’s worth at Disneyland without sprinting to Space Mountain or spinning in a teacup. You just have to adjust your expectation of what constitutes an attraction. (There are a handful of sedate activities available at Disney California Adventure, like Disney Animation, the winery, and the bakery tour, but not enough to justify a full-price pass.)

Since this “anti-plan” is designed to eliminate stress, there is no strict order to follow the steps in, nor instructions to arrive before rope drop (though it doesn’t hurt). Simply tour the park as your feet take you, skipping any suggested experiences that don’t interest you. If there is more than a 15 to 20 minute wait for anything you want to do, simply move along and check back later. Most importantly, take a break after four or five hours and leave the park for a nap, meal, or swim. The key is to take your time and (literally) stop to smell the roses.

Tell us in the comments below if a plan like this interests you, and what you would include in one. Then check back later in the week for my picks of the best places in Disneyland to de-stress.

 

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