Archive for September, 2011

Android Lines Update

by on September 19, 2011

On Friday, September 16, 2011, we updated the Android version of Lines in the Android marketplace with a quick tab navigation bar across the bottom. Over the weekend we got messages from users that certain devices were having critical issues with this update. Late yesterday we reverted the published version of our application in the marketplace to the previous working version.

If you downloaded the version with the quick tab navigation, we highly recommend that you delete this app and download the version of the application currently in the marketplace.

We are sorry for this inconvenience and are looking into the issues surrounding the update and the devices on which it was failing.

Die Weihnachts Ecke at Epcot Closed Until Thursday

by on September 19, 2011

The Christmas Shop in the Germany pavilion at Epcot, formally named “Die Weihnachts Ecke,” is closed until Thursday, September 22, 2011, for a renovation. This renovation is an extension of the introduction of the Karamel Kuche in that block of shops at the pavilion. By adding the caramel shop, the candy shop on the other side of the Christmas shop became redundant. The candy shop has now been renovated and re-themed to be the “Stein Haus” selling – you guessed it – beer steins.

Die Weihnachts Ecke is expected to remain a Christmas shop when it reopens.

Update: Epcot Opening Procedure – 8:45am Opening

by on September 19, 2011

As we mentioned in our previous update, Epcot recently changed the way the park opens in the morning. There is no more rope drop at Innoventions plaza at 9am with guests allowed into the park prior. The Test Track car with the family of the day has been discontinued and the characters do not come out to meet the guests from the Character Spot anymore either.

When the change was first made, guests were held at the Epcot Main Entrance and International Gateway until 9am when a spiel played and confetti cannons were shot over the waiting crowds at the front gate. More recently, however, Disney tweaked the process: now guests are admitted into the park at 8:45am on a standard day. At that time, guests may visit any attraction that they choose.

A downside to this new procedure is that there’s no way of knowing whether Soarin’ or Test Track is operational prior to reaching the actual attraction. The data on the three tipboards in Future World show all attractions as “closed” until the formal 9am opening time. However, we did confirm with attractions management that the rides and shows scheduled to open at “9am” will in fact be operating at 8:45am barring any unforeseen circumstances.

This means it’s even more important than ever to arrive early at Epcot – prior to the 8:45am gate opening. Guests arriving from International Gateway have a long walk to the Future World attractions. Being some of the first guests to reach Soarin’ for the morning, we noticed International Gateway guests began trickling into the area well after a sizable crowd had amassed from the Main Entrance.

Insider tip: Remember that shortly before opening the “Princess Breakfast” turnstiles become general access turnstiles and often have shorter lines. You just have to wait off to the side until the switch and then jump in line. Also, with the new opening procedure, Innoventions is open and operational once the gates have been opened – cut through to reach destinations at will.

Park Hour Updates for October 2011 and April 2012

by on September 19, 2011

Walt Disney World has updated its park hours for October 2011 and April 2012.  All changes will be available on the site shortly, but here are the details in case you have a trip planned, are looking to plan, or are just a Disney geek like me (if a date isn’t listed, then it has not changed):

October 2011

Magic Kingdom

Disney’s Hollywood Studios

  • Sunday, October 2 – now closing at 9pm with Fantasmic! at 8pm and 9:30pm
  • Saturday, October 8 – now closing at 9pm with Fantasmic! at 8pm and 9:30pm
  • Sunday, October 9 – now closing at 9pm with Fantasmic! at 8pm and 9:30pm
  • Monday, October 10 – now closing at 9pm with Fantasmic! at 8pm and 9:30pm
  • Saturday, October 15 – now closing at 9pm with Fantasmic! at 7:30pm and 9pm
  • Thursday, October 20 – now closing at 9pm with Fantasmic! at 7:30pm and 9pm
  • Saturday, October 22 – now closing at 9pm with Fantasmic! at 7:30pm and 9pm
  • Sunday, October 23 – now closing at 9pm with Fantasmic! at 7:30pm and 9pm
  • Saturday, October 29 – now closing at 9pm with Fantasmic! at 7:30pm and 9pm

Disney’s Animal Kingdom

  • Now closing at 6pm on the following days: October 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 11, 12, 13, 15, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, and 29
  • Now closing at 7pm on the following days: October 7, 8, 9, 10, 14, 16, and 28

April 2012

(These are not all the changes–just the highlights.  Please keep in mind that these will change as we get closer to April.)

Magic Kingdom – Opens at 8am the first week of April and will have morning Extra Magic Hours every day for the first two weeks.  It is also closing no earlier than 10pm all month, with Main Street Electrical Parade and Wishes every night.

Disney’s Hollywood Studios – Closing no earlier than 10pm with two Fantasmic! shows each night druing the first week of April.

Disney’s Animal Kingdom – Closing no earlier than 8pm during the first week of April.


The Crowd Calendar will soon be updated with new crowd level estimates based on these changes.  Please keep in mind that Disney extends its park hours on days when the resort expects increased crowds, so do not be alarmed if any of our crowd level estimates increase.

Please continue to check for all the latest on Walt Disney World touring.  Thanks!

Animal Kingdom One Day Touring Plan with Small Children

by on September 19, 2011

Since I’ve been getting great feedback from our readers on my posts about the One Day Touring Plans with Small Children, I decided to go ahead and finish the series with the Animal Kingdom and Epcot versions.  First up is Animal Kingdom, a very challenging park with kids.  After all, people refer to it as “Animal Kingdom hot” for a reason.  It’s spread out, very hot and doesn’t feature a ton of attractions.  That makes it less than optimal for touring with children. 

The plan calls for arrival at the park entrance 25 minutes before park opening.  As usual with our crew, we were slow moving, and made it to the park about 10 minutes prior to opening.  We grabbed the entertainment schedule and park map, and promptly ran into the first requested diversion from our plan.

To recap, we have a 9 year old son and a 5 year old daughter.  My wife is a thrill seeker, while I can go either way, and the kids are polar opposites.  The older one loves thrill rides, the younger one is a bit of a scaredy cat.  So, my son requested trying Expedition Everest.  He had been on it during our last trip with my parents, and wanted to give it another shot.

The plan, meanwhile, calls for an immediate sprint to Kilimanjaro Safaris.  I tended to agree with the plan, but didn’t want to deny my son his shot at Everest.  We were still discussing as the park opened, so tabled the issue and headed right back to the Safaris, and were through the line in no time.  The Safaris are long and involved, and just getting there is a hike.  So when I tell you it was 9:35 when we got out, you know that it was rough.

Next on the plan was Kali River Rapids.  My wife and daughter did not want to ride, as they were not interested in getting drenched.  Truth be told I wasn’t either, but my son was interested.  This presented an opportunity.  I offered to substitute Everest for Kali and he accepted.  So we headed over to Everest, did the baby swap with my daughter, and after two rides on Everest, it was 10:05.  Sure, we’d spent the first hour in the park on two attractions, but everyone was happy so far. 

Step 3 on the touring plan was the Maharajah Jungle Trek, with step 4 being the Flights of Wonder show.  This worked out perfectly, because Flights of Wonder was scheduled for 11 a.m.  We took our time walking through the trails of Maharajah, exiting around 10:25.  Stopping for a snack at the Anandapur Tea Company, we enjoyed the sunshine, took pictures of the monkeys on the bridge leading to Everest, and made our way slowly to Flights of Wonder at 10:50.

If you’ve never seen Flights of Wonder, you should.  It’s really fabulous and full of educational information about birds, plus the kids will love it.  The show finished up right at 11:30, so we walked out and headed back over to Discovery Island.  The next step on the plan was It’s Tough To Be A Bug, which none of us really wanted to do.  The next thing on the list was lunch, so we grabbed something early at Pizzafari.

After satiating ourselves with pizza and salad, we headed to the next step, which was the Camp Minnie-Mickey Greeting Trails.  Several of these had a very long wait, but a few of them were short, including Mickey.  Can’t really explain that, but we enjoyed it nonetheless, and kept our eyes on the clock, so we could get in line early for Festival of the Lion King.  The show started at 1:30, so we got out of the last character line and got in line for the Festival at 1:10.  

Festival of the Lion King is one of my favorite shows in all of Walt Disney World, and the kids love to clap along with the different animals.  We finished the show just before 2:00, and moved out to see what was next.  Finding Nemo the Musical was the recommendation, but there was a caveat.  The plan says that if there is no show scheduled in the next 30 minutes, then you should see the Boneyard in Dinoland while you wait.  Nemo was at 3:30, so it was off to the Boneyard.  That was music to my kids’ ears.

For whatever reason, they love the Boneyard.  As a parent, it frightens me, because there is a bridge that leads over the walkway to the other side of Dinoland, as well as lots of cracks and crevices where you can lose sight of them.  We got in the Boneyard at 2:15, and left at 2:40.  It was all I could take.

The plan called for us to go queue up for Nemo, but it also listed Triceratop Spin.  So, while we were in Dinoland, we did that.  There was a minimal wait, so it took us until 3:05 to get done.  That left us right on time for the show.  Animal Kingdom’s shows are not to be missed, as this one is just as good as Festival of the Lion King and Flights of Wonder.

At 4:15, we wandered out of Nemo into the sunlight, and we were exhausted.  We rallied the troops to head back to the resort to rest before dinner.  My son reminded me of the Kali River Rapids, however.  As a dutiful father, I sent the wife and daughter ahead, and we went and waited in the hot, hot sun for the entire 45 minutes for Kali River Rapids.  We left the park, exhausted and wet, at 5:30.

So, how did the plan work?  Excellent.  We were able to do everything and head out by shortly after 4 p.m., if not for my son’s desire to ride Kali River Rapids.  We were able to have plenty of down time, enjoy the scenery, and see all the park had to offer.  It was a great day, although quite hot, but we never felt overly tired, because we had time off.  Of all the plans for small children so far, this one works the best, because of the limited number of attractions at Animal Kingdom.

What have your experiences in Animal Kingdom been like?  Does the heat keep you from enjoying it to its fullest?

Cirque du Soleil’s “La Nouba” Adds Two New Acts

by on September 19, 2011

Cirque du Soleil’s musical and acrobatic spectacle “La Nouba” added two new acts to its popular show at Downtown Disney. The opening act now includes a skipping rope segment where the cast bobs and weaves among the skippers. The chair stacking segment in the middle act has now been replaced by a juggler. Before you shrug at the thought of circus clown with a couple of rubber balls, know that this juggler is considered to be the best in the world. He not only juggles balls, pins and rings in denominations of seven, nine and finally eleven but he does it while bouncing a ball on his head or balancing a pole on his chin. Remarkable.

The new performers blend well into the existing show, and anyone who has already seen it may not even notice the changes. Those who see it for the first time will get an equal a level of entertainment to what was in past shows.

Cirque du Soleil is difficult to describe. Labeling it a circus performance does not do it justice, yet the performers could tumble alongside any circus in the world. It is nothing like a Broadway musical, yet the score is beautiful, haunting and integral to the experience. We could pump several paragraphs full of adjectives and hyperbole to try and describe this show. Bottom line: go see it! It is one of the few experiences in Central Florida for which we rarely receive negative comments. We think that La Nouba offers one the best entertainment values in all of the Walt Disney World Resort, and that says a lot. If you have wanted to see the show but felt the ticket price was too steep, check out this fall’s promotion.

From September 27, 2011, through October 29, 2011, members of Cirque du Soleil’s Cirque Club can purchase discounted category 2 tickets for La Nouba for $50 plus tax. Depending on the seat location and the season, regular adult tickets range in price from $58 to $140. Cirque Club is free to join. A similar offer is available to Florida residents.

We review all of the resident Cirque du Soleil shows as part of our work with the Unofficial Guide to Las Vegas as well as La Nouba at Downtown Disney. If you have seen one of the shows and wonder if the others are worth seeing, we can say this: we enjoy them all. Mystère and La Nouba are comparable yet sufficiently different to justify seeing both. Love and Viva Elvis are more about the music, KÀ is dark with a linear storyline, and O is set in an aquatic theatre. Zummanity is different because of the adult theme. These seven shows are fantastic, and although they are different in some ways, they all present the same awe-inspriring entertainment expected from Cirque productions. Only Criss Angel Believe falls short of the standard set by the other Cirque shows. Here’s how we rank them all.

  1. Mystère (Treasure Island Hotel & Casino, Las Vegas)
  2. La Nouba (Downtown Disney, Walt Disney World Resort)
  3. Love (The Mirage Hotel & Casino, Las Vegas)
  4. (MGM Grand, Las Vegas)
  5. “O” (Bellagio, Las Vegas)
  6. Viva Elvis (Aria Resort & Casino at City Centre, Las Vegas)
  7. Zummanity (New York-New York Hotel & Casino, Las Vegas)
  8. Criss Angel Believe (The Luxor Hotel & Casino, Las Vegas) Friend Feed – September 19, 2011

by on September 19, 2011

Once again it’s time to take a look at the websites, podcasts and people that we here at sponsor, so that we can highlight some of the great work these guys are doing.  We call it our Friend Feed, so here’s some of the great stuff around the Disney community that our friends worked on this week.

First of all, it must be nice to be Lou Mongello.  A few weeks ago he was over at the D23 Expo, and this week, he did the WDW Radio Newscast live from Aulani, Disney’s newest DVC resort…in HAWAII!!!  Go over to Lou’s page to see the entrance of Aulani, and watch his  website for more great coverage of the opening of Aulani.  I’m so jealous.

The Hawaii booth is already out. Photo courtesy of Disney Food Blog.

Speaking of Hawaii, that’s one of the new booths at the Epcot International Food and Wine Festival this year, and on WDW Today this week, Matt and Len were joined by AJ of Disney Food Blog to preview the upcoming event.  The Food and Wine Festival is my favorite event of the year at Disney, and I’ll be going and writing blog posts about some of the great stuff that goes on there.  Check out this episode of WDW Today for all the important details.

Still more Hawaii on the Be Our Guest Podcast this week, as Mike and the gang talked to Alex about his trip to the Polynesian.  This is my favorite resort in all of Disney’s properties, so I listened to this episode with rapt attention.  Plus, Alex talked extensively about some great meals at really good restaurants like Jiko, Ohana and Citricos.  If you’ re craving a trip, this is a great show to listen to each and every week.

Disneyland Live has all the photos from Disneyland's Halloween Time

It’s not the tropics that Disneyland Live was thinking of this week, but Halloween!  Yes, Halloween Time at Disneyland kicked off this past week, and Disneyland Live has the details about upcoming merchandise events and a great update of the photos from around the resort.

There’s plenty more Halloween in the Mouseplanet Disneyland Update, as well as a sneak peek behind the walls of Cars Land, the big new project for Disney California Adventure.  Check it out to get all the details!

Halloween was in full force at Walt Disney World this week as well.  All Ears has the report on the first Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party, which began this past week.  This is a really fun event that you should all check out.  Get the full details at All Ears and sign up for the newsletter to get info like this in your inbox each week!

Check Mouseplanet's WDW Update for Mickey's Not So Scary details

Mouseplanet’s Walt Disney World Update also checked out the festivities at the Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party, as well as bringing news of the new Dumbo and Timothy statues to adorn the Disney Fantasy.

If you’re in the mood for a movie, check out the Disney Film Project Podcast, where this week we discuss the recent Disney Bluray/DVD release The Fox and the Hound.  Take a listen for the details behind this troubled production.

But all of this greatness would not be possible without the genius of Walt Disney.  His early days in Kansas City are not usually discussed as part of the Disney story, but on this week’s Wedway Radio, Matt and Nate look back at this period in Walt’s life.  Jeff Pepper of 2719 Hyperion joined the boys for the show, which I recommend highly.  It’s a very important part of Disney history that often goes without mention.

Downtown Disney Ends Halloween Trick-or-Treating

by on September 18, 2011

The complimentary Halloween trick-or-treating at stores in Walt Disney World’s Downtown Disney district has been eliminated this year. In past years young guests could visit locations set up throughout the shopping district and receive small portions of candy on Halloween. This year Disney recommends visiting the Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party hard ticket event at the Magic Kingdom for trick-or-treating, while Downtown Disney will have enhanced entertainment offerings for the holiday.

RSVP Reminder – Food & Wine Meet October 2

by on September 18, 2011 is having a meet at Mexico’s La Hacienda de San Angel on Sunday, October 2, 2011, at 2:00pm (note the location update and the time change). If you plan to attend and haven’t already, please RSVP at We are giving copies of the DisneyFoodBlog Guide to the Food & Wine Festival to lucky random winners from the RSVP list! Six readers have already won – you may be next!

And if you don’t win before the event, don’t worry – in addition to the food and drink provided at the meet, we are also giving away MORE PRIZES to folks on the RSVP list, including additional eBooks from the DisneyFoodBlog and the eBook Fireworks Photography from Cory Disbrow, Adam Hansen, and our own Tom Bricker.

Magic Kingdom Closing at Midnight October 1

by on September 17, 2011

With the 40th anniversary of the Magic Kingdom falling on Saturday, October 1, 2011, the park hours have been extended.  The Magic Kingdom will now close at midnight with Wishes still scheduled for at 9:00pm.  In addition, another Main Street Electrical Parade has been added, with parades now at both 8:00pm and 10:00pm on October 1.

Make sure you keep checking for all the changes.