Archive for August, 2009

Website Now Supports The 2010 Edition

by on August 31, 2009

We’ve rolled out our changes to the subscription process for the 2010 edition of the book. These changes include moving the book verification process from the crowd calendar to the subscription page, and a new (hopefully easier) book verification method. As with any new code, something could go wrong. Send email to and we’ll fix it as soon as possible. Thanks for your patience with this!

Update: I accept responsibility for not publishing in advance the change to our website access policy for book owners. If you’ve already bought the book expecting free access, have already signed up for the website (either paid or free access) and feel strongly about my mistake, drop me a line by September 10:

We also have an error in the book’s crowd calendar section that contradicts the new discounted subscription policy described (correctly) earlier in the book. I’ll get a correction to that posted on the site as soon as possible. However, the new subscription policy will remain in effect, and crowd calendar access beyond 30 days will still require a subscription.

WDW Today Episode 611 – Listener opinions

by on August 31, 2009

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Episode 611 of WDW Today is now available for download here.

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WDW Today Episode 610 – Toy Story Midway Mania Secrets

by on August 28, 2009

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Episode 610 of WDW Today is now available for download here.

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Website Support for the 2010 Unofficial Guide Coming Within The Week

by on August 27, 2009

Sorry for the delay. We just got our copies of the 2010 edition of the Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World, and we’re updating the website to support access for book owners. That should be done this weekend sometime this week. The new subscription process looks to be much simpler than the old way of validating books, entering codes, etc. It’s just taking a bit longer to test than we thought. Sorry for the delay. If you’re a 2010 book owner and desperately need access to the crowd calendar within the next 72 hours, drop us a line at and we’ll provide a few days of access.

Owners of the 2010 edition get a 50% discount on website subscriptions, around $4.50 for a year of access. Why not free website access, as we did in 2009? It was really popular (so thanks very much for buying the books!), but the support costs are prohibitive. The new offer works out to less than $0.40 per month, or less than two cents per day.

Thanks again for you support!

WDW Today Episode 609 – Listener Questions

by on August 26, 2009

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Episode 609 of WDW Today is now available for download here.

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Mini Trip Report: Rope Drop At The Animal Kingdom

by on August 25, 2009

I’m in WDW this week, and today we made it out to Animal Kingdom for “rope drop,” or when the park opens up. We drove, and thankfully the parking lot was open by the time we got there around 8:15am (according to Len and others, it sometimes only opens 20 minutes before park opening). There were fewer than 50 cars on the lot when we arrived, but it swelled by opening. We lined up at the gate at 8:35am, and were given complimentary fastpasses to Festival of the Lion King (more on that in a sec). At 8:40 am we got let into the oasis and across the bridge to the “ropes” in front of the Tree of Life on Discovery Island. After a cute little park opening show with some characters, they let us go and the crowds immediately split up into two groups: one towards Safari, and the other towards Everest.

So today we (it’s just my dad and me on this trip) were checking out what the FASTPASS times were like for all the FP attractions within the first few minutes of opening (sent via orders from Fred). We split up to cover more ground, me heading towards Dinoland then around to Everest and Kali River Rapids while he hit Safari.

One thing that we noticed was some serious posted wait time inflation right after opening. While being led behind a moving rope all the way through Harambe, my Dad saw a 20 minute wait on Safaris before anyone had gotten on the ride. Less than a minute and maybe 100 people later, it had jumped to 40 minutes. Clearly, this is intended to not overwhelm the most popular attractions during early morning swells. Heading back towards Discovery Island, my dad a noticed a bunch of people balk at the long wait.

Another thing we noticed were numerous FASTPASS ticket handouts by cast members / managers. Two were for the first shows of the day (typically the least popular) of Festival of the Lion King and Finding Nemo: The Musical. Another was for Kali River Rapids as we stepped off Everest–which the stern warning that we must redeem before 10am. These handouts seem to be a pretty set policy now, not unlike Year of a Million Dreams “Dream FASTPASS” handouts of years past (maybe happening for even longer and I didn’t get the memo). Like the posted time inflation, my guess is that this spreads guests out by nudging them towards less crowded venues & attractions, and the recipients (us included) sure seemed pleased.

Lastly, we wanted to check out the new “central” FASTPASS distribution depot/hut/place in front of the park. Today, there were four sets of two booths distributing FPs for Dinosaur, Everest, Safari, and Kali (with Everest and Safari having the longest queues). Because the distribution times for these FASTPASSes are not posted, I asked a Cast Member what they were, who asked a family that had just gotten them distributed. Hoping they get a return times board up, and eager to see how this experiment continues.

By the way, are you following us on Twitter? Because you totally should. I’ve been furiously updating from the parks (and will for the rest of the week). This morning I live-streamed the first Festival of the Lion King show of the day from my phone. Didn’t turn out terribly (see the video here), so I’ll try to do again over the next few days. Stay tuned!

One Day, Two Water Parks

by on August 24, 2009

On my last trip my friends and I hit up both of Disney’s water park offerings, Typhoon Lagoon and Blizzard Beach, in one day. I had never been to the water parks before because I never wanted to give up time in the one of the four main theme parks. I thought doing both in one would be no problem, because I always thought of them as more of a half day experience. However, I found that I didn’t have time to experience all of the attractions. Maybe we weren’t the most efficient, but it is a vacation after all. In this entry I’ll detail our adventures at Walt Disney World’s water parks and provide some advice to those wishing to try it themselves.

First things first, if you are going to attempt this feat it’s best to have your own car. Waiting for a bus and having to transfer will take up way too much time. Also be sure to check the park hours so you can plan ahead. Unfortunately, on the day we did this there were no extra magic hours at the water parks. Perhaps if we had more time we would have been able to experience more of the attractions. We also go started a little later than we should have, but that was out of our hands. I also think it would have been easier if I had ever been to the water parks before. Since I had not experienced the water parks I spent a fair amount of time trying to get my bearings.

We headed to Typhoon Lagoon first. After figuring out the locker and towel situation we headed straight for Crush ‘n’ Gusher. It was a lot of fun! My words of advice for Crush ’n’ Gusher: tush up! It doesn’t feel so good when your butt hits the surface of the water coaster. Next, we headed off to knock some of the other slides off the list. Most of the slides are toward the rear of the park so it’s a pretty good hike to get to them. They were fun, but I have to say a lot of them are short! A spin around the lazy river was next on the agenda. We hopped out to hop into the wave pool. I have to say the wave pool was my favorite part of the park. Since I’m a Jersey Shore girl, I normally can’t swim with waves (without freezing half to death) until late July. It was a nice treat to bob in the breakers in May. Remember a horn blasts before each of the six foot swell to give swimmers fair warning. After a few more slides, we had lunch at Typhoon Lagoon (which was among the worst counter service I’ve had at WDW) before going from the storm ravaged tropical paradise to melting snow.

We retrieved our belongings from our locker, returned our towels, and headed to our next wet destination: Blizzard Beach. A great tip is to keep your receipt from locker rental. If you provide a same day receipt you don’t have to pay again! After getting settled with our new locker and reapplying sun block, it was time to see what this park had to offer. We checked out the map and decided to head for Teamboat Springs so we could all ride together. This family raft ride was a great time and I think it was my favorite slide all day! To get to the top of “ski slope” try riding the chair lift instead of schlepping up all of those stairs. I must admit I was a little nervous about it at first (I don’t like cable cars, chair lifts, and the like) but it was a pretty pleasant trip. We used the lazy river as transportation to the next few slides. The tube slides and the mat slides are both a lot of fun! After a few more slides and a little more floating along in the lazy river, it was time for the park to close.

I wouldn’t recommend trying to do both of these parks in one day if you are a first time WDW water park visitor. Not knowing the lay of the land was certainly detrimental to our success. Also, be aware that all those stairs in the Florida sun really take it out of you. We were pooped by the end of the day! I’m really looking forward to hitting up the water parks again. Next time I hit up a water park I’ll take more time to relax and really soak in the atmosphere, to hit all of the attractions, and take a few more much needed laps around the lazy river. Overall, we had a great time even without slipping down all the slides. Although, we didn’t spend as much time there, I think I liked Blizzard Beach better.

I will have to write another blog entry with more detail on the water parks at some point. Until then, please refer to the Unofficial Guide for information and tips to make the best out of your wet adventures.

Next time, in honor of the end of the summer, I’ll discuss tropical drinks at the Polynesian Resort’s bars….

WDW Today Episode 608 – The year in review….so far

by on August 24, 2009

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Episode 608 of WDW Today is now available for download here.

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Heading to WDW; Studios Meetup Reminder

by on August 23, 2009

Hey folks! Just wanted to let people know that there will be representation in Walt Disney World this week. I–the website developer around here–will be hitting the parks August 24th-29th, focusing on how Extra Magic Hours affects wait times, compiling more data on non-headliner attractions in all the parks, and in general getting to the parks at rope drop every morning to pound the pavement. I’m also going to be attempting the infamous Ultimate Magic Kingdom Touring Plan on Thursday, when MK has Morning EMH and is open for a solid 14 hours of park operation.

I’ll be detailing my entire trip, including what is bound to be a pathetic attempt at Ultimate MK record, on the TouringPlans Twitter account. Be sure to ping me on twitter if you’re in the parks!

We’re also going to have an in-park meetup on Wednesday, August 26th, 5pm-6pm at the Backlot Express Restaurant at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. See the Facebook event page for more details. And just a reminder, super Unofficial Guide statistician Fred Hazelton will be in WDW the week of September 7th and is hosting a meetup of his own on the 9th.

See you in the parks!

WDW Today Episode 607 – Len’s European Vacation

by on August 21, 2009

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Episode 604 of WDW Today is now available for download here.

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