Posts Tagged ‘walt disney world’

Case Study: FastPass+ Impact On Epcot Touring Plans

by on February 18, 2014

FastPass+ Kiosk LogoMany people are understandably concerned about how Disney’s new FastPass+ system is going to affect their Disney vacation. Some of the worries most frequently mentioned with the new system are:

  • Limit of three FastPass+ reservations per day
  • Not able to get multiple FastPass+ reservations for the same attraction
  • No ability to get FastPass+ reservations for all headliner attractions
  • Only getting FastPass+ reservations for one park per day.

Some of the benefits of the new system, such as the ability to select the time of the FastPass+ reservations – may not be as obvious. And not having to run around the park to get paper FASTPASS tickets will definitely save people time.

In many cases, however, using an optimized touring plan with FastPass+ will result in a touring plan that’s just as fast as one with the same attractions and legacy FASTPASS.

Given the way my family tours the parks, I assumed that Epcot would be the most negatively impacted by the new system. With Legacy FASTPASS we would acquire multiple FASTPASSes for Soarin’ and Test Track. Now we can only get one FastPass+ for Soarin’ or for Test Track, but not both.

To evaluate the impact of FastPass+, I’m going to compare touring plans for Epcot on the second Monday of June in 2013 and 2014. Both touring plans include the same attractions and optimize the use of the available FASTPASS/FastPass+ system. Since we would never use FASTPASS/FastPass+ in World Showcase, and since we take a casual touring approach in World Showcase, I’m going to allot a chunk of time for World Showcase. I’m also allotting 100 minutes for eating. For our family, FastPass+ will not affect our dining or touring World Showcase.

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Disney’s Polynesian Resort Scheduled Refurbishments

by on February 11, 2014

©Disney

©Disney

It was announced last September that Disney Vacation Club would be heading to Disney’s Polynesian Resort. Because of this addition, the hotel is refurbishing some areas for future enjoyment. There are a couple of new items that have been added to the list, in addition to a few that are currently ongoing. So you can be prepared if you are planning on staying at the Polynesian during your vacation this year, here are the rehabs are taking place .

  • The eastern portion of the Polynesian Beach and Sunset Point have been closed since September 9, 2013, and will be unavailable for the foreseeable future.
  • The Never Land Club (Children’s Activity Center) has been closed since January 28 and will remain closed until April 27.
  • The lobby of the Great Ceremonial House will see refurbishment work from March 1 until sometime in December 2014.
  • Captain Cook’s (Quick Service dining location) will close sometime in March and will reopen sometime in June. A replacement dining option will be available.

I’ll be sure to keep you posted on additional refurbishment details!

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A Trip Around The World: Morocco

by on February 7, 2014

Welcome to our grand tour of Morocco in Epcot’s World Showcase! I can’t believe we’ve already visited Mexico, Norway, ChinaGermany, Italy, America, and Japan! I will start off by saying Morocco was the most fun to research. It isn’t a land I really spend a lot of time in, and I loved stopping to really take a look around. I can’t wait to show you what I discovered! Let’s start with a nice scenic shot from the World Showcase Lagoon. The white building on the water is the new Spice Road Table restaurant!

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When you first enter Morocco from Japan, you’ll see this beautiful sign. I can’t think of another land that has something so beautiful with the name of their country (or kingdom)! Maybe that’s because King Hassan II was actually involved with the creation of the pavilion. The government also sponsors the land rather than allowing corporate sponsors.

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Next is the small stage where you can catch Mo’Rockin. This is a fun group that plays rock and roll music with an Arabian beat. Plus there’s a belly dancer! Sorry guys – I was there too early in the day to get those photos for you! ;)

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SATURDAY SIX: Six Things We Wish Theme Park Fans Would Stop Complaining About

by on February 1, 2014

This week’s SATURDAY SIX looks at Six Things We Wish Theme Park Fans Would Stop Complaining About. It’s hard to believe that in a land full of fantastical theme parks, luxurious hotels, and wonderful memories filled with pixie dust that people could have anything to complain about. But they do. In fact, after a thorough investigation the Saturday Six staff has compiled a list of 548,321 complaints, and that’s just in the Florida parks. Today we’re going to look at the six of most prevalent complaints and say “STAHP!”

StarbucksMickey

If you thought Talking Mickey was a hit, wait till Barista Mickey makes his debut….

# 6 – “They are building too many Starbucks”

Out of nowhere, Starbucks has seemed to have taken over the theme park world in Florida. The first step in theme park world domination for the coffee brand? The beloved Main Street Bakery at the Magic Kingdom. Starbucks then moved over to Epcot and replaced the Fountain View Cafe, complete with a hidden Communicore logo to appease the hardcore fans. Two more Starbucks are coming to Downtown Disney, and it is rumored that locations will be opening up at Disney’s Hollywood Studios and Animal Kingdom, as well. Not to be outdone, the Starbucks location over at Universal’s CityWalk is moving from its second floor No-Man’s-Land location down onto the ground level, and Island of Adventure’s Arctic Express has been converted into a Starbucks, as well.

What’s going here? The answer is simple. People love Starbucks. Period. The Starbucks brand is strong enough that it can charge a premium price for a drink you can get almost anywhere else cheaper, and have people lining up for it. While the Main Street Bakery certainly wasn’t hurting for business before, it’s easy to see how successful the ones at Downtown Disney and Universal will be compared to what they are replacing. The new Starbucks locations are in prime real estate and will be all but printing money.

If these Starbucks locations were McDonald’s, you could make a case that there are better restaurants all over either property. If the locations were Dunkin’ Donuts you could make a case that there are better bakeries around. But no one at Disney or Universal is doing a better job than Starbucks at making good coffee and, as far as we know, the world didn’t end when the first Grande Latte went out.

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International Guests May Now Utilize Resort Airline Check In

by on January 30, 2014

Walt Disney World attracts a ton of international travelers each and every day. Previously, those staying at the resort hotels were unable to participate in the popular Resort Airline Check-In process. However, that appears to be changing, as now international guests will be able to participate in this program. The roll out started earlier this week.

For those who are unaware, the Resort Airline Check In Service is a complimentary service that allows Disney Resort Hotel guests utilizing Orlando International Airport (MCO) to check in for their flights, collect their boarding passes, and even check their bags at the hotel’s Airline Check-In desk. Then, once you arrive at the airport, you can bypass the airport check-in desk and head straight to the security lines.

The resorts will be rolling out this process for international travelers in stages, which are scheduled from now until the middle of March. The dates for the roll out at Walt Disney World hotels are:

  • Disney’s Art of Animation Resort – currently offering
  • Disney’s Contemporary Resort – currently offering
  • Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground – currently offering
  • Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa – currently offering
  • Disney’s Polynesian Resort -currently offering
  • Disney’s Wilderness Lodge – currently offering

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FastPass+ Testing To Begin For Annual Passholders

by on January 27, 2014

©Disney

©Disney

Annual Passholders have been waiting (some patiently, most impatiently) for the day when FastPass+ testing for them would begin. It appears that AP holders will now have this opportunity, beginning in the next few weeks. This test is very limited, and Passholders will be selected at random to participate.

The test will allow Annual Passholders to test MyMagic+ by making advance FastPass+ reservations, using My Disney Experience, and customizing MagicBands.

Like other tests, the Passholders who are selected for the trial will be able to make 3 FastPass+ reservations at a single park per day. Those testing the system will be able to make FastPass+ selections by using either the My Disney Experience app or by stopping at a FastPass+ kiosk. Passholders will be able to make up to seven days of FastPass+ selections over a continuous 60 day time period.

In addition, participating Passholders will receive a discount card. This card must be used (along with a photo ID) to receive a Passholder discounts. Cards will either be black or gold. The gold card indicates complimentary parking is included. The black card indicates that the guest has no complimentary parking.

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A Trip Around The World: Japan

by on January 24, 2014

It’s hard to believe we’ve already passed the halfway mark on our world tour! For those keeping track at home, we’ve visited: Mexico, Norway, China, Germany, Italy, and America. Next up is the beautiful land of Japan. I always like to begin with a striking image, so I’ll start with the large Torii Gate that marks the pavilion on the World Showcase Lagoon. This bright red arch is visible from all around the lagoon, and it’s the prettiest thing on the water (especially at sunset).

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But really when you walk into Japan from America, the first thing you’ll see is the tiny Kabuki Cafe. It’s the little building on the left in the photo below. Don’t be fooled by the size – there is a whole lot of awesome in this little package. Not only are there sushi, ice cream, and beer (which are all excellent separately, but we don’t recommend them together) – there is also kakigori!! “What is kakigori?” you ask? It’s shaved ice with with sweet, fruity flavoring added. This is one of my favorite treats on a hot summer night, and at only $3.75 it won’t break the bank.

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My First Walt Disney World Annual Passholder FastPass+ Experience

by on January 20, 2014

Based on how much this blog has covered the ongoing FastPass+ rollout at Walt Disney World over the past year or two, you might assume every member of the Touring Plans team already has enough MagicBands to decorate their Christmas tree (I’m looking at you, Morgan Crutchfield). But since I haven’t stayed in a Walt Disney World on-site hotel since before the MyMagic+ program began, I’ve been excluded…until now. As we reported, Animal Kingdom went FastPass+-only late last year, followed by the Magic Kingdom on Tuesday, January 14, and the rest of the parks will remove their paper legacy FASTPASS machines shortly. Now that the FastPass+ service has been opened to all guests, this acknowledged sceptic took the plunge with my first Annual Passholder FastPass+ experience.

Animal Kingdom

To be precise, my first FastPass+ adventure was an incomplete attempt that was unfair to judge the service by. Earlier in January, I tried using the service on one of the first days it was offered to off-site guests by visiting the kiosks outside Disney Outfitters on Discovery Island.

There was no wait, and a friendly cast member assisted me in using the touchscreen computer to enter my information and select three attractions.

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FastPass+ Coming For All Guests at Disney’s Hollywood Studios and Epcot

by on January 17, 2014

fastpass-kiosk

Bye Bye FASTPASS Machines

As MyMagic+ continues to move forward, according to reliable sources both inside and outside Disney, FastPass+ will be rolled out for both on-site and off-site guests at both Disney’s Hollywood Studios and Epcot within the next week. Disney’s Hollywood Studios is expected to make the change over on January 21, and Epcot is expected to become all FastPass+ starting on January 23. This means that Legacy FASTPASS machines that distribute paper FASTPASS tickets will be turned off, and guests will only be able to make FastPass+ reservations.

If off-site guests would like to make a FastPass+ reservation, they will need to visit one of the FastPass+ kiosks found within the park to reserve their ride times on the day they visit the park. Much like the previous roll outs, non-Disney resort guests will currently not be able to use the My Disney Experience app or website to make FastPass+ reservations. To make a FastPass+ reservation, off-property guests will need to use their RFID-enabled ticket to access the FastPass+ kiosks, as they do not currently have access to MagicBands.

Guests who are staying at a Disney resort will have the ability to make FastPass+ reservations up to 60 days in advance via the My Disney Experience app or website. If they have not made them ahead of time, they can also do so in the parks at the FastPass+ kiosks.

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Two Short Magic Kingdom Refurbishments This April

by on January 8, 2014

We want to share with you two very short Magic Kingdom attraction refurbishments that are scheduled to take place this April. They are:

For a full list of attraction, as well as other refurbishments and closures at the Walt Disney World Resort, please visit our Refurbishment Schedule page.

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