Archive for June, 2012

Dumbo FASTPASS Available In Optimized Touring Plans

by on June 30, 2012

As we previously reported, FASTPASS tickets for Magic Kingdom’s enhanced Dumbo the Flying Elephant attraction have been available from machines near Mickey’s PhilharMagic since June 22, 2012.

As of today, the “optimize” and “evaluate” features for our Personalized Touring Plans support this new FASTPASS opportunity.

Instructions for using Optimized Touring Plans may be found on the TouringPlans YouTube Channel.


Be Our Guest Restaurant Menu Released

by on June 29, 2012

Who’s excited about the Be Our Guest Restaurant? I know I’ve been super stoked since Disney first announced it!

This week, Disney released some more information about what we all have to look forward to once this restaurant themed around the movie Beauty and the Beast officially opens in the New Fantasyland by the Holidays 2012.

Menu items for both lunch and dinner will have a sort of French flair to them.

First off, for lunch the restaurant will serve quick service meals; however, it will be with a twist. Guests will order their food at a terminal, then take a seat in the gorgeous restaurant’s dining area. Lunch will then be delivered to you and – much like the new Landscape of Flavors at Disney’s Art of Animation Resort – will be served using real silverware and china. No paper and plastic here!

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10 Ways the TouringPlans Blog Can Help You Plan Your Disneyland Vacation

by on June 29, 2012

If you are reading this post, odds are good that you know what a valuable tool The Unofficial Guides are when planning a Disney vacation. If you’re even thinking about visiting Disney, then go to the store (or click on the link). Now. Get one. The Unofficial Guide to Disneyland will provide you with tons of invaluable planning information for your Disneyland trip. Have you ever considered, however, how and the TouringPlans Blog round out the great info from The Unofficial Guides with the latest up-to-date news straight from Disneyland?

Of course, there have been a lot of Disneyland blog posts over the last year. While we still haven’t covered everything, and there will be many more blog posts to come, this collection of posts is already a tremendous planning resource. So, let’s organize all these blog posts and see how they can help you plan and enjoy the best Disneyland vacation possible! Oh, and as a tip, don’t forget to read the comments on the posts, because our readers have terrific insights too!

1. Should you go to Disneyland Resort? – If you’ve never been, the first question you probably have is – should I go to Disneyland? If you’ve been to Disneyland, you know the answer to that question is an unqualified “Abso-freaking-lutely!” But if you’re unfamiliar with the joy that Disneyland can bring, you may need a little more convincing. My first blog post for TouringPlans was an appeal to even the staunchest of Disney World aficionados to try Disneyland. Several other TouringPlans bloggers have either visited Disneyland this year (some for the first time!) or are about to, and they have shared some superb insights. Ryan Kilpatrick has been researching his trip and listed things he has learned in the process. Katie came from behind the scenes to share her planning. Suzannah shared her tips, and Henry let us in on his planning. Tom Bricker is trying to convince everyone who will listen that they need to visit Disneyland in 2012. In addition, if you are ever in doubt of the beauty you will see at Disneyland, you’ll want to get a copy of Tom’s book – Disneyland: Sunrise to Sunrise. The pictures will blow you away.

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Inside Disneyland’s Exclusive Club 33

by on June 29, 2012

For many Disney fans, Disneyland’s Club 33 is the holy grail. Thanks to its history and lore that has developed (some true, some false), there’s a certain mystique to the legendary Disneyland restaurant, and it’s a pretty common destination on Disney “bucket lists.” (What, you don’t have a Disney Bucket List?! Better get to writing!)

Stories of a 10-year plus waiting list for memberships, coupled with a multiple thousand dollar initial investment (a minimum $35,000 first year cost for new members as of 2012!) have added fuel to the fire, making a meal at Club 33 even more highly desired by Disney fans.

On a recent trip to Disneyland, we decided to visit Club 33 to give you a glimpse inside the restaurant. To get inside that door at 33 Royal Street, I told the hostess that I was Neil Patrick Harris. She took one look at me, rolled her eyes, and slammed the door. Then, we tried climbing the wrought-iron lattice in New Orleans Square to sneak onto the balcony. A security guard’s teeth ripped into my rear end after I was only 3 feet off the ground (note: the security guard was a German Shepherd…not a human). Finally, we were able to get in by donning monocles, fake handlebar mustaches, large top hats, penguin-tail tuxedos, and telling the hostess we were oil tycoons from 1901. In reality, Club 33 is only available to members and their invited guests. Since most people will never be able to visit the historical Disneyland restaurant, we want to give you a tour of what’s behind that plain door with the “33” next to it.

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Cars Land With A Toddler: Part 1

by on June 28, 2012

My husband and I have watched Cars almost every day for the last three months. No, we don’t have OCD, we have a toddler. Last Christmas, my sister gave my son, Nathan, a toy car play set, and a new obsession was born. One night, a few months later, Nathan sat down in front of the TV and watched 20 minutes of a NASCAR race without moving a muscle. For a toddler this is an eternity to not move. We knew what we had to do next: introduce him to the movie Cars. The next thing we knew, we were watching Cars every day. On the weekends he would yell “CAHS! CAHS!” and excitedly point to the DVD. And then he started learning names: QUEE and May (Lightning McQueen and Tow Mater). So we bought him every McQueen and Mater car. Slowly, our home started to fill up with all things Cars.

One day, it dawned on us that Cars Land was opening at Disney California Adventure, and suddenly we couldn’t imagine anything more exciting than seeing our son’s face for the first time when he walked into Radiator Springs! We weren’t going to go opening weekend because we thought it would to be too crowded, but – at the last minute – we decided we couldn’t resist! After all, it’s for the kid, right? Right? So off we went to Radiator Springs….

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Disney World Attractions with Unusual Hours

by on June 27, 2012

Disney posts daily hours for each of the theme parks, but that doesn’t mean that every single attraction in the parks follow those same hours. Some attractions typically open an hour or more after the rest of the park, while others may close well ahead of other attractions.

Look for a section of the Times Guide called 'Special Hours' for last minute adjustments.

Odd hours are usually instituted for practical reasons. For example, it doesn’t make much sense to run the Animal Kingdom’s Kilimanjaro Safari after dark because you wouldn’t be able to see the animals. Similarly, the Kali River Rapids ride will soak guests to the bone. The ride often won’t run in the early morning during the winter so that guests don’t experience hypothermia. In other cases, some attractions have shorter hours because of perceived guest interest. An example of this is the Magic Kingdom’s Country Bear Jamboree which does not usually open until 10:00 a.m., even when the rest of the park opens at 9:00, because few guests make this attraction a first-thing-in-the-morning priority.

Of course, special hours are noted on the Lines app and taken into consideration when constructing Touring Plans, but sometimes it’s nice to have a cheat sheet of all the wonky attractions in one place.

I’ve taken a look at a sampling of Walt Disney World Times Guides from the past two years and complied a list of attractions that typically have operating hours that are different than the rest of the park.

Bear in mind that schedules regularly change and that hours may vary due to crowd levels, weather, and other circumstances. In all cases, check Lines and the current Times Guide for the most up to date information. Also be aware that not all attractions are open during Extra Magic Hours. Additionally, restaurants, retail venues, character greetings and show-type attractions have their own fluctuating hours.

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Water Park Cabanas: Are They Worth It?

by on June 27, 2012

Last summer I did a weekend almost entirely devoted to Disney’s water parks, which caused me to fall in love with Typhoon Lagoon and Blizzard Beach. If you haven’t had the chance to visit these water playgrounds before, I highly recommend it, especially with the unbearably hot Florida summer being in full force in the coming months. There are a lot of things I truly enjoy at both of these parks simply by showing up, throwing my stuff in a locker, and hitting the slides. But some guests may be looking for a bit more service and a peaceful place to relax during their day at the water park. Disney has answered the call by offering cabanas at both parks.

While I don’t want to bother with (or pay for) a cabana on every visit to Typhoon Lagoon or Blizzard Beach, I have found them to be a fun way to enhance my experience when I’m willing to treat myself to a little luxury during my vacation. I have tried different variations at both parks and usually have had a great time and good service. So what are the different cabana options at the water parks?

A Beachcomber Shack at Typhoon Lagoon

At Typhoon Lagoon you may rent either a Beachcomber Shack or an umbrella with chaise lounges. The Beachcomber Shack is the larger option and includes towels, a cooler stocked with ice and bottled water, your own locker, refillable mugs, and an attendant who will bring you food, more towels, or anything else you may need. These shacks house up to six people and cost $319.50. They are true cabanas with an actual roof and seating for everyone in your party. The umbrellas with lounge chairs are in the same area as the Shacks, so you still get privacy, but towels are the only things provided to guests using these chairs. They are priced at a much more reasonable $53 for a day’s use.

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Pixar Play Parade returns to Disney California Adventure

by on June 26, 2012

After being on hiatus due to construction for over 17 months, the Pixar Play Parade has made its return to the new and improved Disney California Adventure.

The parade features six floats and dozens of Pixar characters, along with high-energy music and dancing. The parade starts off with the stars of Monsters, Inc., including Roz, who leads the parade by twirling her baton. Sully can be seen riding in front of a giant stylized drum that has been decorated with the Play Parade logo. An impressive animatronic version of Mike is located on the back of the float. The parade continues, with floats dedicated to The Incredibles, Finding Nemo, A Bug’s Life, Toy Story, and Cars.

The first thing you’ll notice about the floats in the Play Parade is their size. For example, The Incredibles float contains a gigantic Omnidroid robot that towers over the audience. The Finding Nemo parade unit has a large Crush figure that is fully animated. This float also has several performers using the exact same articulated Dory and Marlin puppets used in Finding Nemo – The Musical at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. It’s worth mentioning that the Toy Story unit has acrobats who actually swing and flip upside down on the parade float. This is very impressive looking, especially considering the units are moving continually down the parade route.

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The Good and the Bad: Disney’s All-Star Sports Resort

by on June 26, 2012

After a recent stay at Disney’s All-Star Sports Resort, I figured I’d fill you all in on how my stay was. If you’re not aware, All-Star Sports is a value resort and is a part of a larger “chain” of value resorts. The others being All-Star Movies and All-Star Music Resorts. Prices are generally the lowest for these resorts, and many discounts often apply the most to All-Star Sports since it doesn’t usually fill up as quickly as the other value hotels on property.

With such a strong “masculine” theme to the resort, many families don’t find the theming suitable for their entire group. As you might guess, each section of the resort is broken down into a specific sport such as football, baseball, basketball, tennis, and surfing. The “Surf’s Up” section is preferred and will cost you a bit more because of the close proximity to the main pool and Stadium Hall, the main building with the check-in/concierge desk, food court, and gift shop.

Having stayed at All-Star Sports previously, I knew to request a building that would suit my needs since the layout is very large and very confusing. Honestly, I’ve gotten confused walking around there before but never had a problem at Pop Century for some reason. I put in my request for the Touchdown! section so I’d be close to the busses and lobby. While I thought the proximity was nice, there were other issues with that section that I’ll touch on later.

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Last Week at Disneyland Resort (6/17/2012 – 6/23/2012)

by on June 25, 2012

Welcome once again to our mostly-weekly wrap-up of what’s been happening at Disney’s Anaheim resort. Deepest apologies to anyone left bereft by the absence of this column, but the Touring Plans team was obviously occupied by a teensy-tiny little Grand Reopening that you may have heard about. Fret not: we’re back to bring you the news of everything that’s happened in the week since Cars Land and Buena Vista Street were unveiled to public.

Crowd Calendar

The new attractions at Disney California Adventure have rewritten attendance rules at the resort, and redefined what “busy” means.

Quietest Day: Thanks to Annual Pass blackouts, Saturday 6/23 was only a 3.8 at Disneyland and 5.4 at Disney California Adventure.

Busiest Day: Tuesday 6/19 was unofficially reported by Al Lutz as the highest-attended day in the history of Disneyland Resort, until the record was broken again on Wednesday with a 4.4 in Disneyland and 9.9 at DCA.

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