Archive for September, 2011

Festival of the Lion King to Offer FASTPASS for Shows October 2-15

by on September 30, 2011

The Festival of the Lion King show at Disney’s Animal Kingdom will be offering FASTPASS for shows October 2 -15, 2011. The FASTPASS distribution will be from the machines located near the It’s Tough to Be a Bug! attraction.

Why First Timers Should Trust Disney Veterans

by on September 29, 2011

I need some R and R.  Badly.  Work is stressful.  Home life is stressful.  Being a parent (of two animals) is stressful.  Luckily for me I am headed to Walt Disney World in a week with my husband and two of our friends.  There is no stress when you’re in a Disney park.  I feel so completely carefree and in my bliss on vacation.  I’m insanely excited to be taking Barbara, my friend that hasn’t been to Disney World since she was 10 and Ben, her boyfriend who has never set foot in a Disney park.  Lately I’ve been thinking about how many other repeat guests take newbies and the concerns that they may face.  Sure, us “Disney Experts” worry about if our friends and family are going to like the attractions, the food, the shows, the accomodations, etc.  The thing that is currently on my mind, though, is the practice of touring plans and how it’s going to work out with two people that not only are virtual Disney newbies but also are not used to using touring plans.

We’ve decided to make this a trip in which we do not park hop in order to save time and money.  This is my first time not park hopping so coming up with our infamous day plan was a little trickier than usual.  When I plan my days out I only note where we are going to start our day.  I determine that by taking a look at the crowd calendar.  I trust the crowd calendar 100%.  Either I pick the best park or a neutral park.  I make my advance dining reservations from there and make adjustments to my day plans if need be.  I don’t freak out if I have to make a park day change because I remember that the use of a touring plan is five times more important than choosing the right park on the right day.  It starts to feel like a science to me.  I have a process of how I choose park days.  This is what our plan of attack looks like.

Thursday – Arrival Day – Epcot is the best park due to the 7 Day Rule.

FridayDisney’s Hollywood Studios – Neutral Park

SaturdayAnimal Kingdom – Best Park – While this is a crowd level 9 day overall we’re only spending time in the park until about 2:00 p.m.  After that we are spending time celebrating Barbara’s birthday with lunch at Sanaa and enjoying Downtown Disney in the evening.  Not being the parks much on this crazy day will be wonderful in avoiding the crowds.

SundayMagic Kingdom – Neutral Park – While it’s going to be a busy day, the Magic Kingdom is open until 2:00 a.m.  To break up the day we’re having dinner at 1900 Park Fare at the Grand Floridian Resort & Spa.

Monday – Epcot – Neutral Park  – Finishing up what we didn’t do on Thursday.

Tuesday – Departure Day – We have no definite plans but we’ll probably hit whatever park we feel like for a few hours and then fly out in the afternoon.

See? I don’t stress about having the perfect park picked out.  I try and find a balance between what I want to do on a specific day and what statistics say I should do.  I have my key points all taken care of.  I’m avoiding Epcot on weekends due to the Food and Wine Festival.  I’m hitting up all four parks and giving time to Downtown Disney.  I’m even going to enjoy some bonus time at the Magic Kingdom by utilizing Extra Magic Hours.

To a newbie this all has to sound totally ridiculous.  It probably sounds insanely thought out and over planned.  When you add in the idea of touring plans this whole trip intimidates a Disney newbie.  As I understand it, a first timer wants to be spontaneous in the parks.  There’s this dream of seeing an attraction, pointing in excitement, and running at full force into the queue line.  I can understand wanting this very exhilarating idea.  You know why?  Because I dream of it too.  In fact, I don’t just dream of it… I get it.

The great thing about touring plans is that they’re flexible.  I stick to the general touring plans guideline which is to use a touring plan continuously, by the book, up until noon.  I, of course, substitute attractions and still find time to stop and smell the roses.  Though, once the afternoon rolls around I’m much more relaxed and I pretty much do things as I please while using the Lines app for my phone.  I do, however, advise that no one check the app while standing in the middle of a walkway.  I check it while I’m line for another attraction.  I like to make sure an attraction is still open or that the next show time is coming up soon so I won’t have to wait forever.  These are the amazing benefits of Lines.

Okay, I’m starting to sound like an infomercial.  You all must be thinking that I’m getting paid in dole whips to promote, Lines, and the Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World.  I’m not.  I just really feel passionately about the research team and all of their hard work.  I don’t just write about touring plans… I use them.  Why anyone would doubt ten years of research is beyond me.  With mentions in the New York Times and USA Today, it’s not hard to see that using a touring plan or consulting the crowd calendar pays off.  If the use of the crowd calendar and a touring plan can save you up to four hours a day waiting in line… why would you not do it?  I know when I’m at Walt Disney World I want to see and do as much as I possibly can.  If I get the key attractions out of the way that means I have more down time to sit on a park bench and people watch with my dole whip in hand (note my obsession).  Everyone loves that, right?

In the end, I think that the newbies coming along with my husband and I will trust my decisions.  I think that they’ll have trust in me that I will get them on Splash Mountain… just after we hit up Peter Pan’s Flight.  If you’re a Disney vet going with some first timers, try and put yourself in their shoes.  Sure, you’ve ridden The Great Movie Ride a hundred times and might be sick of it but they haven’t.  Let them take the reigns at some point and decide where you’re going to visit.  Enjoy touring the parks through a first timers eyes.  Make the adventure your own.

Does anyone out there have any experiences with using the crowd calendar and touring plans with Disney newbies?  Any tips for myself and others in the same position?

Disney’s Animal Kingdom Park Hour Updates

by on September 28, 2011

Disney has updated its park hours yet again.  This time all of the changes were made to Disney’s Animal Kingdom, which is unusual as far as park hour updates go.  All changes were made to the closing times, and the new times are spread from the end of October through March of 2012.  Disney’s Animal Kingdom will now close no earlier than 6pm on most days over the next 6 months.

The park hours on will be updated very soon.  Please keep checking Touring Plans for all upcoming changes to Walt Disney World’s park hours.


WDW Celebrates 40 Years!

by on September 28, 2011

This Saturday, October 1, marks the 40th anniversary of Walt Disney World’s opening.  I know several of our readers will be heading to their favorite place to celebrate, so I thought I’d take this week’s post to highlight some of what Disney has planned for this special day.  Since the Magic Kingdom was the only park in 1971, the festivities will all take place there.  Expecting high crowds, the park hours were recently extended until midnight.  Here at we have taken this into account and listed Magic Kingdom as the park to avoid on our crowd calendar for that day for folks who do not wish to participate in the hoopla.

If you would like to take part in the celebration, I suggest arriving at the main gate early.  My friends and I will be there around 8am so we don’t miss a moment of all the morning fun.  I’m sure we will head straight for the Castle in hopes of getting a decent spot for the presentation to be made at 10am. The characters will start things off with a cavalcade running from the Main Street Train Station to Cinderella’s Castle at about 9:45am.  A sing-a-long has also been announced for this presentation, but who knows what that really means?  Perhaps several hundred Disney geeks singing “Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow” all together?  One can only hope!

Additionally, there will be several artists’ signings throughout the day.  Costa Alzvezos and Brent Reese will be on hand to sign their 40th anniversary “kooky pens” from 9-11am at the Diamond Horseshoe.  Later that day at the same venue, Greg McCullough and Noah will sign their art from 11:30am-1:30pm, as well as 4-5pm.   From 1-3pm. and 4-5pm Dave Avanzino, Jody Daily, and Kevin Kidney will greet guests at the Diamond Horseshoe.  Other signings will take place at Uptown Jewelers, including Jim Shore from 11am- 2pm.  From 12- 2pm and 4-5pm Robert Olszewski will sign his minitures at Uptown Jewelers.  And last, but not least, the watch designer Gene Gonda will be at Uptown Jewelers from 1-3pm.

Lines for merchandise are sure to be long, so you may want to take care of any shopping early.  Disney has been offering several items to celebrate the 40th anniversary for the last several months, but there will be some items available only available that day.  Listed venues for limited edition merchandise include: Mickey’s Gift Station, Island Supply, the Newsstand, Sir Mickey’s Uptown Jewelers, and the Diamond Horseshoe.  Likewise, there will be a special cupcake to enjoy at the Main Street Bakery for the day.

There may be other “surprises” throughout the day, but Disney has kept mum about them.  Fans may want to pay attention to Twitter to keep up with updates throughout the anniversary.  I intend to have some fun during the unscheduled day!  I’m sure we’ll hit some of the classic attractions like the Carousel of Progress, the Jungle Cruise, and the latest version of the Enchanted Tiki Room to pay homage to our favorite place.  We may also take a break so that we’ll still be going strong in the evening.  We won’t want to miss conclusion of the celebration with a special presentation of Wishes!  at 9pm.  There don’t seem to be many details on this show yet, but I’m sure it will be a lot of fun.  I’ll just be happy to see Walt projected on the castle during Magic, Memories, and You that night.

If all that wasn’t enough excitement for you, be sure to stop by the Food and Wine Meet the following day!  We’ll be gathering in Mexico to meet with readers and have a great time!  Please take a moment to log onto Plancast to RSVP for the event.  We’ll see you there!

Food and Wine (Not Whine!): Taking Kids to the Food & Wine Festival

by on September 27, 2011

Enjoy foods from around the world!

No doubt your five-year-old can whip up a passable French onion soup and your teenager is an old hand at emulsifying sauces. Kids today are often quite savvy, food-wise, and count “Iron Chef” and “Chopped” among their must-see TV.

But though you are quite fond of them, does that mean that you want your children to accompany you to the Food & Wine Festival? Well, yes and no, and here’s how to make it work. You have heard us say this before, and you will hear us say it again: Plan ahead. (The 2011 Festival runs from September 30 to November 13 and takes place in Epcot.) In fact, if you do not automatically think “Disney World” and the phrase “plan ahead” in the same thought, then we’re not doing our job properly. So below, here are some tips so you can gaze upon your choucroute garnie—and, happily, eat it too.

  • Without or without kids, the Festival will take some research. Events abound, from culinary demonstrations to mixology seminars; book signings to musical performances. Many require reservations; some carry additional fees. If you haven’t done so already, figure out which ones are must-attends, and sign up for the ones that allow advance reservations. Start scheduling the others into your overall trip.
  • Figure out which ones your kids can attend. Remember, grownups are occasionally allowed to have fun all by themselves–even those with kids. Do not feel guilty. Everyone will be happier if kids don’t go to events where they don’t want to be and that are not really appropriate for them.
  • Make arrangements ahead of time–have another adult agree to hang out with kids during the time you’re watching a demonstration, or arrange for a babysitter.
  • When you get to Epcot, go to the Welcome Center and pick up your Marketplace Discovery Passport.
  • Many kids love sampling new foods; others never look at anything outside a chicken finger. Before you leave for Disney World, try serving some new foods and get them used to the idea of more exotic tastes.
  • At the Festival, select some options in which they can participate. A cheese tasting might not be a priority, but they might enjoy checking out the Cranberry Bog display in front of the World Showcase, for example, or you might let them sample tapas or other specialty foods at one of the kiosks that are set up. (You’ll have to pay for the privilege, so just make sure they’ve eaten a meal first!)
  • Let kids have their own food experiences. Have them choose new restaurants or foods to try; have them be a “food critic.” Give kids small notebooks so they can jot down their impressions of foods they eat; or select recipes they want to try. See if you can find cookbooks or other souvenirs so you can recreate your favorites, or plan on looking for a recipe later. (Jot down descriptions of foods you enjoyed so you remember. Or have kids be the official jotters.) Give them instant or digital cameras to use so they can take pictures to accompany their writing. When they get home, have them make an official Disney kids’ cookbook.
  • Ask kids to write a food blog or dairy that you can send to family back home.
  • Give kids “tickets” that they can redeem for food items. If you’re on the dining plan, save some snack credits!
  • If you’re at an event and you’re happily engaged and kids aren’t, don’t despair. You are, happily, in Disney World, not at a graduate lecture seminar at MIT. (However, it will feel like one if you don’t give kids things to keep them busy.) Always keep a stash of small goodies handy. A mix of stuff from home and new Disney stuff works well. Try to keep the food theme going with a kids’ cookbook or food stickers. Or have kids make a food-themed collage with menus and souvenir items. (Tip: in your “kid craft kit,” always carry a glue stick, small colored pencils, and stickers!)
  • Have kids choose foods for favorite stuffed animals or dolls and make a mini cookbook.
  • Take your child’s personality into account. Some kids will love attending a culinary demonstration; others would rather be taking a math test. If it’s worth the fee, consider letting an older child have a really special experiences. (Call ahead and ask if it’s appropriate, however.)

The secret is to make sure that everyone gets to do something they really want to, and that kids are engaged even if they’re not enthralled. Remember: it tastes better if a five-year-old is not pulling on your leg, asking in a loud voice when this will be over.

Everything tastes better at Epcot!

Do you have any tips on how to have kids enjoy the Food & Wine Festival? Let us know!

Disney Dining Plan: A Doubter’s Experience

by on September 27, 2011

The Disney Dining Plan (DDP) is immensely popular.  Free stuff is also quite popular.  Put those together, and it’s the equivalent of getting your chocolate in my peanut butter (um…it’s good).  I have never been the biggest proponent of the dining plan, but on my recent trip to Walt Disney World I took the plunge (and the free dining promotion).

This chef needs a hairnet

Let me start with my preconceived notions about the DDP.  I’m always leery about package-style deals because, in most cases, I can find a better deal by breaking the package into pieces.  My spidey sense started tingling as soon as I began hearing about all the money that could be saved with the DDP.  However, since I became a travel agent I have realized just how popular this promotion is, especially when it is offered for free.  To better inform my clients (as well as stuff my face every day) I decided to just say yes to Disney’s Dining Plan.

(For purposes of information, I was on the “standard” Disney Dining Plan, which allowed me 1 Table Service, 1 Quick-Service, and 1 Snack per person per hotel night.)

I’m starting with the bad stuff so that I can end with rainbows and unicorns (not literal…or is it…teaser!).  My biggest problem with the DDP is that I felt like it really negatively impacted my park touring.  I’m not a drill sergeant when it comes to getting through the parks (well, I try), but I do like to get certain attractions done early because I don’t like waiting in line.  Since we had at least one Advance Dining Reservation (ADR) every day, I felt like everything was based around that. For instance, one day we had an ADR at The Crystal Palace for breakfast (but after park opening).  What we did was arrive at the Magic Kingdom at opening, ride Dumbo, grab FASTPASS tickets for Peter Pan, and go to breakfast.  It worked fine all things considered, but that monrning (and the entire week) I felt like I was always looking at my watch so we wouldn’t be late for an ADR.

Dreary day at the Crystal Palace

The other negative for me was the amount of food, which is an oddly common complaint.  It felt like work to get rid of all those snack credits by the end of the week (which is sad, because some of the snacks are awesome).  Nothing makes a person more conflicted than staring at a sweet cream cheese pretzel, knowing you can get it, and not being the least bit hungry because you ate at a breakfast buffet 5 hours ago.


Now the rainbows and unicorns (gotcha, it was metaphorical).  The biggest plus for me with the DDP is the freedom to try all sorts of new restaurants without feeling like you are risking your own money (you are of course, but it doesn’t feel like that).  On this trip I ate at several restaurants for the first time such as: Akershus Royal Banquet Hall, Tusker House, Kona Cafe, and Les Chefs de France (which I found to be very good, good, excellent, and “really, this is supposed to represent French cuisine?” respectively).

The other positive is that I now believe that you can save money on the dining plan (and it takes a lot for me to admit that).  The caveat is that you have to be very careful because it’s very easy to lose track of, and therefore waste, credits.  One mistake that is often made when determining how much money is saved is looking at the receipt and assuming that the dollar figure on there is the savings.  You have to be careful with that because if you wouldn’t normally order dessert at a quick service, you shouldn’t count that as savings.  The only real way to determine your savings is to look at what you would order at a specific restaurant and compare only those items (which requires yet more planning, but we love planning, don’t we?).


Overall Impression

My overall impression is mixed (helpful, I know).  I really like to eat, and I like trying new places, but the time and the excessive scheduling necessary just didn’t make me happy.

From a fiscal point of view, I determined that I personally would have saved about $20 with the dining plan (if I had paid full price) versus what I would have spent out of pocket.  Of course, if I was not on the DDP, I would not have eaten at so many table service restaurants either.

Overall I can feel comfortable in recommending the Disney Dining Plan to others, especially if they love to eat out, but I don’t think I’ll be doing it again.  My best advice to those who want to do it is to plan.  Plan your ADRs carefully, plan when to use which credits, and plan on which exercise program to start when you get back.

Len Testa Featured on Fox 8 Greensboro!

by on September 27, 2011

Early this morning Len showed up at the studios of Fox 8 in Greensboro to talk a little bit about Avatar, the 40th anniversary at Disney World, and crowds! Check out the video here!

Epcot One Day Touring Plan with Small Children

by on September 26, 2011

Once more, I have made the sacrifice for you, dear reader, of traveling to Walt Disney World to test out the One Day Touring Plans with Small Children.  This time, it was Epcot on the list.  And let’s be honest, it’s not really a sacrifice.  It’s a great time, and this one especially I particularly enjoyed.

As usual, the plan calls for arrival 30 minutes prior to park opening, so I loaded up my 9-year-old son and my 5-year-old daughter to join the fun, and we made it the park 25 minutes prior to the official opening.  That’s the best we had done on any of these plans so far, which made me pretty excited to get a head start on the day.  Our first stop? Soarin’.

If you’ve never tried to get to Soarin’ in the morning after Epcot opens, then you have avoided one of the most daunting experiences I have ever had.  I was holding hands with the kids, so imagine a sea of humanity being led from Innoventions to the Land, around the top floor of the pavilion, down the stairs, and into the queue area.  It was very crowded, and I was very scared about holding on to the kids.  It’s definitely not an experience for the timid.

However, we managed to make it, got on Soarin’, and enjoyed ourselves immensely.  This is my favorite ride at Walt Disney World because it’s so immersive and relaxing.  We got through the line, rode, and disembarked by 9:20, which was really good.  The next step on the plan is Living with the Land, which both my kids enjoy, so we hopped right over with no wait and rode that ride.  Again, it’s relaxing and enjoyable, so we left the Land pavilion feeling great at 9:45.

Next up on the plan was the Seas With Nemo and Friends.  The one hitch that my kids threw into the mix is that both of them wanted to ride Test Track, but it’s not on the plan.  Here’s where I made a fatal mistake.  I decided to sprint over to Test Track to see if we could get in line.  One problem…there was a mechanical issue.  We got FASTPASS tickets for later in the day, but that too would turn out to be a problem.  More on that later.

We went back over to The Seas and managed to get in with a minimal 10 minute wait.  After our ride, we had to go and play around a bit on Bruce the Shark, which made the compulsive touring plan person inside me die a little.  However, as a father, it did my heart good to watch the kids enjoying themselves and learning a bit about the ocean.  Isn’t that what Epcot is all about?  We skipped Turtle Talk with Crush and headed out of The Seas at 10:25.

Next on the plan was a trip to see Journey Into Imagination with Figment, which we did with joy.  I know it’s not the same as the original incarnation, but it does my heart good to see Figment.  My kids love him, too, so we rode the ride and looked around the gift shop for souvenirs, ended up grabbing some, and left the pavilion at 10:45.  The plan wanted us to see Captain EO next, but despite my pleading, the kids were not interested at all.

Next up on the list was lunch at Sunshine Seasons, but since it was so early, we grabbed a pretzel and some waters and headed over to the first post-lunch step – Ellen’s Energy Adventure.  For whatever reason, my kids love this ride, so we got over there, enjoyed our snack in line, then saw the entire pre-show and ride.  This one takes a while, folks.  So it was 12:05 by the time we got out of the attraction.  Now it was definitely time for lunch, and we hiked over to Sunshine Seasons.

After enjoying some sandwiches, dessert, and more water (it was hot that day), we looked at the plan to see where we needed to head next.  The first step was the Gran Fiesta Tour in the Mexico pavilion.  Again, this is a favorite of my kids, so we headed that way.    Anyone ever measure how far it is from the Land to Mexico?  It’s far.  We made it, rode the “Donald Fiesta Boat” as my daughter calls it, and exited the pavilion at 1:30.

Now we had a decision to make…our FASTPASS windows for Test Track had started, so we could head back there, or continue the plan, going around World Showcase and skipping out on Test Track.  Despite my pleading, the kids wanted to go back and check on Test Track.  But when we returned, we found out that an error had made the FASTPASS 45 minutes long!  Needless to say, we skipped it and headed back to World Showcase, but the round trip cost us valuable time.

We arrived at the Maelstrom at 2:05.  The plan had us leaving the park after this, but I knew we likely would not come back later that night.  So, we got FASTPASS tickets for the Maelstrom (the wait exceeded 30 minutes) and planned our next steps.  The plan called for leaving, then coming back in to ride Spaceship Earth and the American Adventure, as well as seeing the Canada film.  Knowing there was no way we’d make it all the way to Canada, we instead grabbed some school bread from the Norway pavilion and waited for our FASTPASS return time.

Finally getting on the Maelstrom at 2:45, we were all about done.  We had one more ride in us, and we elected to make that Spaceship Earth on the way out.  After making the long walk from Norway to the front of the park, riding the ride, and exiting, we finally got out of Spaceship Earth at 3:45.  We were out of the park and back at the hotel by 4:30.

So how did the plan work?  If not for my mistake of trying to squeeze in Test Track, it would have been perfect.  The kids love all the attractions here, and we hit everything we wanted to try except the Canada film.  This one and Animal Kingdom’s are my favorites of the Small Children Touring Plans because they require a lot of walking. The kids get tired but get to enjoy all the attractions.  It makes for a peaceful night, that’s for sure.

What about you?  Have you tried dragging kids around Epcot?  How did it go?

Planning For Disneyland Walt Disney World Style

by on September 26, 2011

Sleeping Beauty Castle

Well hello there! I rarely get to chat with you all (I’m more of a behind the scenes kind of gal) so it is so nice to get out and interact with my favorite readers in the Disney blogosphere.

As graduate school comes to a close and causes a hair-falling-out type stress in my life I decided I needed a little bit of my favorite place in the world. Yes, and although I’m a WDW vet, that place is Disneyland. The trip is coming up in less than two weeks so I thought I would do a little planning blog on how this incredibly anal Walt Disney World vacation planner plans for Disneyland. I hope it gives you some tips!

Where to stay? This was easy. I’m a DVC member. So one day over a cup of coffee I rang member services and secured Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel for six days. Let’s not start a debate on Disney’s Vacation Club’s value here, but search the rack rate of that hotel for five nights in October and you’ll see how glad I am points were an option. For amazing tips on hotel savings at the Disneyland Resort, check out this amazing blog post by Tammy who explains that there really is no need to stay at the Grand Californian if it is out of your budget.

Mickey's Fun Wheel!

Planes, trains and automobiles. Clearly, planes. If you readers frequent WDW more than DLR, I’m assuming that maybe this is because it is easier to get to. I’m offering my advice now to get a credit card with points for airlines or hotels or, like mine, both. These things have a stigma of not really being worth it, but often I am able to travel only because I have so many credit card points. I use and promote and gush about the SPG AMEX card. The SPG Flights are flawless and the Swan and Dolphin in Disney World are Starwood hotels so I can often stay there on points free. This trip, I secured excellent flights under the program with a short lay over into SNA airport totally on points. This is the airport I’ve flown into before and its quiet atmosphere and proximity to Disneyland make it so much easier to fly into. I fear LAX. From here, there are shuttles available for dirt cheap to get you into Disneyland or you can rent a car. These shuttles are literally around $10 a person. Check out for more information on this. Hope that helps your travels!

Tickets. This one is tough! Want to do some math? I paid $403 for the Disney World Annual Pass just a bit ago. Now it is time to decide whether to upgrade to the magical gold card or just buy some park hoppers for our Disneyland trip off of a discount affiliate. The cost of the premier pass is $798 with tax so I’ll need to come up with $395 if I want to upgrade. If I do however, that is good for a year and I get that even more magical 20% discount in many places. However, times as a grad student are tough, who knows when I’ll get to Disneyland next, and my favorite affiliate is offering 4 day Disneyland park hoppers for $229. I’d save $166 doing this. I think this will be a last minute, tough decision.

The reason I breathe-World of Color!

Touring. Even though I work for this can be daunting. I know the parks at the Walt Disney World Resort like the back of my hand (okay, there’s a little mole right there..) and, having only been to Disneyland once, it still makes me nervous I won’t see it all. So enter my touring strategy: Lines. As it is just adults on the trip and we’re staying a relatively long time for a Disneyland stay, I’ll be mixing the one day touring plan for adults and the two day plan for the whole family so I can make sure to see all of Disneyland. We’ll be spending just one day at Disney California Adventure and luckily there is a touring plan for it. If you haven’t seen, you can now check off what you’ve done on the plans. Seriously, how helpful is this? In the meantime, I’ve also been hanging out in the Disneyland Lines chat to talk with other fans and see if there is anything going on in the parks from the locals perspective and monitoring the crowd levels for our dates on the crowd calendar.

The oh-so-famous Blue Bayou.

Halloween fun. If there is anything in the world I’m excited for it is that I’m going to get to see Ghost Galaxy, The Haunted Mansion overlay and Mickey’s Halloween Party at Disneyland. Those things right there should prove to you just how special Disneyland is in theming and magic. If you’d like, when I return, I’ll do a whole post on the wonder of it. Fitting these into a touring plan can be a little difficult because, if you’re like me, you know you want to ride Ghost Galaxy around 462 times. Remember, offers customizable touring plans that you can create to your needs and will also be available in your Lines app. Please check out this amazing feature.

Dining. It still weirds me out a bit that ADRs just aren’t that pressing at the Disneyland Resort. I just called and secured a couple reservations for Blue Bayou lunch, a World of Color dinner package and Napa Rose. It is less than two weeks out and I was fine in getting them. I’m now working on making a couple customized touring plans including our dining.

So I know where I’m staying, how I’m getting there, how I’m getting in and how I’ll see it all. Disneyland Resort, planning and visiting, is just way more stress free. It truly is a vacation if you can’t tell. If you have a little spark now that a Disneyland trip may be feasible for you, please check out all of the information linked here as I think it may be easier to get to Walt’s park than you think! I’ll be back with more information from my travels and some fun stories from the original. In the meantime, you guys let know here in the comments of any tips and tricks you have, ok? Friend Feed – September 26, 2011

by on September 26, 2011

So…did anything happen in the world of Disney Parks this week?  In case you didn’t hear about Disney’s new relationship with James Cameron and Avatar, the podcasts, websites and more that we sponsor have you covered.  Check out all the debate and details about Avatar as well as all the other things going on in the Disney community in this week’s FriendFeed.

For the straight news aspect of the announcement, look no further than the Mouseplanet Walt Disney World Update.  Mark Goldhaber has you covered with the facts of what’s going on with Disney and Avatar.

The WDW Today boys gathered on Friday’s show to give their unique take on the Avatar news.  Matt, Mike, Mike and Len discussed what we know so far and what effect this new land will have on Animal Kingdom.  Listen to the show for a unique perspective on what’s coming.

If you need still more Avatar coverage, you can head over to AllEars.Net for a full report.  But that’s the tip of the iceberg.  You need to subscribe to the All Ears Newsletter, because Disney historian Jim Korkis has been cranking out Disney history articles exclusively for subscribers, and these are must reads for those of you who love things Disney used to have.

It’s still good to be Lou Mongello, as he returned from Disney’s Aulani Resort in time to catch the news about Avatar and discuss it on this week’s WDW Newscast.  While you’re over at Lou’s web site, check out his videos from Aulani as well, including the great recap of the Menehune Adventure Trail Scavenger Hunt.

There’s more Avatar and Aulani over at Dateline Disneyland.  This week the report from Micechat gives us some great pictures from the opening of Disney’s Aulani Resort, and pictures inside the rooms!  Then, get still more info on Avatar.

If the Avatar news has you so excited you’re thinking of purchasing an Annual Pass to visit Walt Disney World more often, then the Be Our Guest Podcast has you covered.  On one of their shows this week, the gang discussed the ins and outs of Annual Passes, giving a great overview of what you need to know.

The addition of Avatar to Animal Kingdom is still several years away, but a big change is coming to Disney California Adventure right now.  The revamped Buena Vista Street will open next year, and Disneyland Live has a sneak peek of what Disney’s Imagineers are up to right now.  The Blue Sky Cellar walkthrough of Buena Vista Street is definitely worth checking out.

Ever have an experience with a Disney attraction or product that just changes the way you think about things?  For me, that was Virtual Magic Kingdom, the now defunct online world where your character got to experience the Magic Kingdom in a brand new way.  On this week’s Betamouse, Virtual Magic Kingdom was the topic.  I recommend you all listen and realize what an awesome thing Disney had once upon a time.

Speaking of once upon a time, on this week’s Disney Film Project Podcast, the team covers the 1992 cult classic Newsies, with special guest star Henry Work, lead developer for  Join me, fellow blogger Todd Perlmutter, Briana Alessio, and Todd’s wife Cheryl for a fun discussion of this Kenny Ortega-directed Disney musical.

Let’s not forget, by the way, that this weekend is Walt Disney World’s 40th Anniversary.  The WEDway Radio guys have you covered, as they finish their series on the decades of WDW with a look at the 2000’s.

Can you imagine what it would have been like to have Walt Disney as a grandfather?  Five of Walt’s grandchildren gathered at the Walt Disney Family Museum to discuss that very topic, and Mousetalgia was there to provide a full report.

That’s what we’ve been looking at from our sponsored podcasts and websites this week. Go check ’em out!