Archive for June, 2012

Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Towels at Walt Disney World

by on June 20, 2012

When you’re in a hotel room, you want to have all the comforts of home, only better. One of those home comforts is the towels in your room. Are they better or worse than the ones you’re used to? Are there enough of them? For those burning questions and more, here’s everything you ever wanted to know about towels at Walt Disney World.

In-room towels at the Pop Century

What kind of towels can I expect to find in my WDW hotel room?

At check in, every Walt Disney World resort hotel room is stocked with a bath towel, a hand towel, and a wash cloth for the maximum number of guests allowed to stay in that room. For example, a standard guest room at the Beach Club can sleep up to five guests, so the room will be stocked with five towels, five hand towels, and five wash cloths. This is true even if only one or two people are checking into room that could theoretically sleep five.

What is the quality of the towels like?

In my opinion, they’re fine, but not fabulous. If you’re used to 6-foot-long, uber-plush bath sheets, you may be disappointed, but most folks will find the towels to be perfect serviceable.

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Jiko -The Cooking Place

by on June 20, 2012

About once a year (okay, sometimes more often) my friends and I treat ourselves to dinner at one of Disney’s Signature Restaurants. This year we picked Jiko – The Cooking Place (menu) for our big splurge. We partly selected this eatery because it has been wonderful in prior visits and partly because it was conveniently located in the resort where we were staying. The Animal Kingdom Lodge offers a ton of great perks for its guests as well as visitors, and Jiko just happens to be one of my favorites.

The decor of the restaurant fits its Animal Kingdom Lodge location perfectly with rich woods and two wood burning ovens, reminding guests of something that might be used in Africa to prepare a meal. The design of the space is modern and refined yet cozy and inviting. I think my favorite feature of Jiko’s interior is the back wall which is lit according to the time of day to mimic the sunset. We were seated along this wall so we were easily able to enjoy this effect.

There is a vast seating area with both regular tables and booths scattered throughout the space. Guests may also opt to sit at the bar where they can watch chefs prepare their meals in the open kitchen. Sitting at the bar is a great way to get into Jiko without having made reservations. If you would just like to stop in for a glass of wine, that is also possible in the lounge. The wine selection here is amazing, so if you can’t have dinner here, relaxing with a glass or bottle would be a wonderful alternative.

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Disney Gallery Farewell: All Aboard… A Grand Circle Tour of the Trains of Disney

by on June 19, 2012

In a recent blog post, I related my reverence for the Disney Gallery on Main Street U.S.A. as a respite from the rush of the Disneyland Resort, and shared some snapshots from the gallery’s 2011 Art of Mary Blair exhibit.

Today, I want to share a final farewell to the gallery’s current inhabitant, which is about to depart the station. On June 30, a new collection called Crowning Achievements – Creating Castles for Magical Kingdoms will debut, displacing the existing exhibition entitled All Aboard… A Grand Circle Tour of the Trains of Disney.

If you are in Anaheim between now and June 27, when the railroading exhibit ends its run, I highly recommend you set aside half an hour to examine it. Walt was famously fond of trains, having worked as vendor on one as a boy, and even built a scale train layout (known as the Carolwood Pacific Railroad) in his backyard. The final remaining intact fragment from that track is one of the treasures of this collections, appropriately displayed in the former bank vault.

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Fourth Of July At Walt Disney World

by on June 19, 2012


Walt Disney World is an amazing time every day of the year, but for the Fourth of July, they really pull out all the stops! Celebrating America’s birthday is an amazing patriotic event, and Disney knows how to do it with style!

At the Magic Kingdom, Disney will be presenting the show, Disney’s Celebrate America! A Fourth of July Concert In The Sky. This fireworks show pays homage to the dreams of America’s forefathers. The show will take place on July 4 at 9:00 pm. If you would like to catch a sneak peak of it though, visit the park on July 3, as the show will be shown then as well, at 9:00 pm.

Over at Epcot, IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth will be shown with a special Fourth of July tag called The Heartbeat of Freedom. This tag takes place right after the regular IllumiNations show at 10:00 pm and is an overture of traditional American themes. Since the tag’s fireworks are launched from behind the American Adventure Pavilion, your view will be obstructed if you watch from the south side (Germany, Italy, USA, Japan) of World Showcase Lagoon.

Finally, at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, the park will present the Rockin’ Fourth of July Celebration starring Mulch, Sweat, and Shears.  The band will take guests on a rock n’ roll road trip across America, all set to fantastic fireworks.  Showtime is at 9:45 pm in front of the Sorcerer’s Hat with Fantasmic! showing prior at 9:00 pm.

If you are looking for the best park to visit for the Fourth of July festivities, the recommendation is for Disney’s Hollywood Studios.

Park Hours for July 4, 2012, are:

  • Magic Kingdom: 9:00 am – 11:00 pm
  • Epcot: 9:00 am – 10:00 pm
  • Disney’s Hollywood Studios: 9:00 am – 10:00 pm
  • Disney’s Animal Kingdom: 9:00 am – 7:00 pm


President Obama to Visit Walt Disney World This Week For Conference

by on June 19, 2012

President Obama is scheduled to give a speech on Friday, June 22, 2012, at the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEO) conference. This conference is being held at Disney’s Contemporary Resort from June 20-23.

In addition to President Obama’s appearance, Presidential hopeful Mitt Romney will speak at the convention on Thursday, June 21. The public is not permitted to view these speeches.

Please be advised that extra time may need to be allotted to get around to the Magic Kingdom as well as the Magic Kingdom Resorts. In addition, parking at the Contemporary will be extremely tight throughout the conference. According to the NALEO website, road closures leading to the Contemporary will begin June 21.

Make sure to pack your patience if visiting the resort this weekend.

WDW News Bites

by on June 18, 2012

A lot of little pieces of news have come out over the past week or so. They haven’t warranted a full post, but I still felt that they were things that you, the amazing reader, needed to know.

First off, in the Storybook Circus area of the New Fantasyland at Magic Kingdom, the new Casey Jr. Splash N’ Soak Station appears to have opened. The new area features elephants, giraffes, and camels all squirting water all over the area, along with Casey Jr., himself. Tip for parents: be prepared to get wet! This area is certainly designed to drench all, so make sure to pack proper supplies to be able to enjoy this area. If by chance you’ve forgotten things like towels, sunscreen, or water shoes, they are all available for sale at a kiosk in the area. The whole Storybook Circus area is expected to fully open sometime in July.

Also at that Magic Kingdom, a new Winnie the Pooh meet and greet area has opened up right outside the ride. This meet and greet is found in the former Tigger’s Bounce area of the interactive queue that was closed almost as soon as the queue opened. Guests will be able to meet the characters from The Hundred Acre Woods daily.

In Epcot news, Phineas and Ferb: Agent P’s World Showcase Adventure has begun play testing this weekend. It is expected to open up soon. (Very strong rumors are indicating by the end of this week, but that could always change.)

Finally, while Disney California Adventure has Cars Land, Walt Disney World has its own, albeit tiny, version of Cars Land. The Cars section of Disney’s Art of Animation Resort opened up today. It looks absolutely fabulous for sure! The next section of the resort to open is The Lion King wing, which is scheduled to open August 18, 2012.

So as you can see, there’s been a lot of little things that have been happening in the World.

The New Walt Disney World Ticket Prices – What Works Best?

by on June 18, 2012

Friends, Romans, and Walt Disney World veterans…lend me your ears. The time has come to make some momentous decisions regarding tickets and Walt Disney World. These are decisions that could change the course of your entire lives!

Okay, now that I have your attention, it’s time to talk about the recent increase in Walt Disney World ticket prices. Based on this price increase, my family and I are reevaluating how we visit our favorite place. What is it really worth to us? Our next trip is planned for January 1-5, so our question is: what is the best option for our family during that trip?

We have Premier Passports now, because of our summer trip to Disneyland. But that may change...

With the Disney Parks Blog announcing the price increase on June 3, I’m faced with the decision of what to do on whether to renew my Annual Pass or not. Sure, Disney increases prices every year, but what I have noticed is that they are slowly but surely decreasing the ease of making multiple visits.

The first step was making No Expiration an option when Magic Your Way came into existence in 2005 (prior to that, all standard tickets never expired!). That was a “hidden” price increase that discouraged people from using tickets over a long period of time. Now, as the price of 1-day or 2-day tickets keeps going up, the price of longer visits goes up at a much slower rate. For someone like me who would prefer to take trips of 2-3 days, it becomes prohibitively expensive. For two trips of 3 days each, I’d pay $484 just for two 3-day Magic Your Way tickets for myself. That’s nearly $2,000 for my entire family for our average trip of 3 days two times a year.

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First Review: Instant Concert! …Just Add Water

by on June 18, 2012

Maestro Goofy conducts!

Instant Concert! …Just Add Water

Guy Selga says:

I liked it. It takes almost no effort to see; we walked up two minutes before show time and stood right in front of Goofy. Nice little show–it reminds me of the old Goofy instructional cartoons!

Our Rating: 3.5 stars

  • What it is: Musical fountain show
  • Scope and scale: Diversion
  • When to go: See Times Guide or Lines mobile app for schedule
  • Duration: About 5 minutes
Description And Comments

With background narration that hearkens back to cartoon shorts of the past, Maestro Goofy attempts to direct a short concert in Paradise Park. Of course, the orchestra is invisible, but the Paradise Bay fountains used in World of Color respond to the music in a spectacular way. The result is a short bit of comedic entertainment.

Touring Tips

There concerts are short, and the viewing area is ample, so there is currently no need to show up early.

Special Comments

There is no seating, so be prepared to stand. Instant Concert! …Just Add Water takes place several times a day on Paradise Bay. There are currently three different pieces of music; one is performed at each show, so if you enjoy it, return later to see one of the other performances!

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Dealing With Traffic Jams In Cars Land

by on June 15, 2012

Predicting wait times at theme parks is s delicate science but we can get good results by applying the basic principle of statistical forecasting which is: if you collect enough good information about what happened you may be able to predict what will happen. When it comes to brand new attractions like those at the new Cars Land in Disney California Adventure, however, it becomes less about the science and more about experience. Cars Land has no history, no pre-existing wait time information to collect. So, we use our own experience and the experience of others to brainstorm ideas about what we think will happen.

Don’t get me wrong, this is not the first time we have had to deal with new attractions coming online. We have seen attractions like Expedition Everest, Mission: SPACE, Toy Story Mania, Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage and Star Tours 2: The Adventure Continues open their gates for the first time and greatly affect the touring conditions in their respective parks. Typically, we have seen that within 6 to 12 months a new super headliner will settle into its inherent level of popularity. Perhaps the only exception may be Star Tours 2, particularly in Disneyland where we still see wait times that are significantly higher than its predecessor.

Early reports of the new attractions in Cars Land are positive. It seems that these attractions are fresh, exciting and appeal to a wide range of guests. We are expecting that for the first 6 months of operation guests will flock to DCA in order to experience these new attractions for the first time. Some even think that their initial rush of popularity may even extend past the next 12 months. Will these attractions have significant appeal to lure guests to line up for a second and third ride? That is the ultimate question.

Our question for you is:

What do YOU think?

First Review: Buena Vista Street Restaurants

by on June 15, 2012

Fiddler, Fifer & Practical Café (menu)

Tom Bricker says:

“The menu seems very similar to Jolly Holiday in Disneyland Park, with the addition of Starbucks. The breakfast was better here than at the Cozy Cone Motel in Cars Land.”

  • Quality: Good-Excellent
  • Value: B
  • Portion: Medium

Starbucks coffee, cinnamon rolls with cream cheese icing, hot breakfast sandwiches, sandwiches (including roast beef and Cheddar, turkey reuben, and paneer and roasted vegetable), and soups (such as cream spinach, chicken tortilla, or meat stew)


This new quick-service eatery — named after both the Three Little Pigs and an imaginary songstress trio whose manufactured mementos hang inside — boasts a large open dining area in the Arts & Crafts style. You can get your morning jolt of Starbucks-brand joe (or a venti half-caff soy latte, if you prefer) and grab-and-go breakfast pastries here. Lunch and dinner selections spotlight soups and sandwiches.

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