Archive for July, 2012

Weekly Disneyland Photo Update for July 27, 2012

by on July 27, 2012

This week we take a look at continuing construction around the Disneyland Resort, and the sudden refurbishment of the Jungle Cruise.

The Jungle Cruise closed suddenly on Thursday for a short refurbishment. Bumpers will be added to the dock to shorten the gap between the dock and boats.

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Your Opinion Wanted – Crowd Calendar

by on July 26, 2012

We’re hard at work on the next version of the Disney World Crowd Calendar, which should be out later this summer. As part of that, we’d like to know how you feel about the way the calendar names “best” and “worst” parks each day.

Please take 1 minute to complete this survey. Your feedback will be used in the upcoming calendar.  Thanks very much!

Cars Land Food: The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly (Part 2)

by on July 26, 2012

As we’ve said in the past, the new food offerings at Disney California Adventure have been almost as essential to that park’s popular relaunch as the rides. Nowhere is that more evident than inside Cars Land, the signature centerpiece of DCA’s expansion.

To start this series, I shared some thoughts on my favorite edible attraction in Cars Land, the citrus turkey salad prepared by Flo’s V8 Cafe. That appealing plate took first position in this taste trilogy. Sadly, my second contender isn’t nearly as savory. Grab your antacids and greet the Lee Van Cleef to the salad’s Clint Eastwood.

…The Bad…

On weekdays, I rarely ingest more than a cup of coffee before noon. But on weekends, I’m a strong advocate for a scrambled eggs with cheese and salsa for brunch. So on my first morning inside Cars Land, I was almost as excited to visit the Cozy Cone Motel as I was to ride Radiator Springs Racers. As one of the first customers of the day, I stepped up to cone #3 order a Verde Scramble Cone, billed as “Scrambled Eggs, Salsa Verde and Queso Fresco served in a Bread Cone.”

And then my pain began.

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The Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights Dates Announced

by on July 25, 2012

One of the perennial favorite events for the Holiday season each year is the Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights. This fabulous display of color stretches across the Streets of America at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, and it simply floors people each time they see it. It is an astonishing display of holiday decorating at its finest. (Trust me, Clark Griswold would be jealous!)

With the Holiday Season rapidly approaching (um…how did it get to be the end of July already again?), Disney is releasing information about the great events it holds each year for the season. The dates for Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party at Magic Kingdom have already been announced. In case you missed them, they are:

  • November: 9, 12, 15, 16, 25, 27, and 29
  • December: 2, 4, 6, 7, 9, 11, 13, 14, 16, 18, 20, and 21

In addition, some of the narrators for Epcot’s Candlelight Processional have also been announced.

Now, Disney has let the public know that the Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights will be lit from November 9, 2012, through January 4, 2013.

For those who are unaware, the Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights came about when an Arkansas businessman named Jennings Osborne started the display at his home. Each year, the display grew exponentially, so much so that people in the neighborhood complained about the festivities. In 1995, the display became a permanent fixture at Walt Disney World.

The event is included in the price of your admission to Disney’s Hollywood Studios.

Expect to see additional news coming out soon related to the rest of Holiday Season in the near future.


Frequently Asked Questions About Disney’s Magical Express

by on July 25, 2012

Disney’s Magical Express is a service that provides free bus transportation to and from Orlando International Airport and Disney’s resort hotels, for guests staying at those hotels. While the word “FREE” always sounds good, there may be some situations where using Magical Express does not make sense. There are also some tips and tricks that can make your Magical Express experience better if you do choose to use it. Here’s what you need to know.

Who can use Disney’s Magical Express?

The Magical Express check-in desk at MCO

Registered guests of Disney-owned hotels are eligible for Magical Express Service. These hotels are:

  • Art of Animation
  • All-Star Movies, Music, & Sports
  • Animal Kingdom Lodge & Villas, Jambo & Kidani
  • Beach Club & Villas
  • BoardWalk & Villas
  • Fort Wilderness Cabins & Campgrounds
  • Caribbean Beach
  • Contemporary & Bay Lake Tower Villas
  • Coronado Springs
  • Grand Floridian
  • Old Key West
  • Polynesian
  • Pop Century
  • Port Orleans French Quarter & Riverside
  • Saratoga Springs
  • Wilderness Lodge & Villas
  • Yacht Club

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A Question For Disneyland Locals

by on July 25, 2012

Disneyland locals, I have a simple question for you. What two things do you look for when you you are planning a trip to Disneyland or Disney California Adventure? Is it crowd levels? Wait times? The weather? Traffic?

Personally, I look to see if the date I want to go is un-blocked for the Southern California Annual Passes (these Annual Passes are low in price and have most of the year blocked out. The days when the passes are un-blocked can get extremely busy). I also check traffic before I leave because my 20 mile drive to DLR in LA/OC traffic can become quite an ordeal.  Whatever your reasons may be, we’d like to hear them in the comments section.

A Disney World Veteran Goes to Disneyland: Dining

by on July 25, 2012

As a Disney World regular, I’m really excited to be planning my very first Disneyland trip! I’ve already written about the initial stages of preparing for my journey west, but today I wanted to get into some of the details of the trip. After doing a bit of research, talking to friends, and checking out the menus on, I couldn’t be more excited for the food portion of our vacation! Every time I talk to friends who have already been to Disneyland the conversation turns to food very quickly. It seems to be that dining is a completely different animal between Disney World and Disneyland so I’m trying to wrap my head around that in the weeks before I shove off. 

One of the huge differences between dining at Disneyland vs. Disney World is the Advanced Dining Reservation (ADR) System. Those of us who frequent Disney World know ADR system can be kind of a pain with having to make reservations months in advance for many of the most popular restaurants. We are used to marking 180 days out on our calendars so we are sure to call or go online to make our meal arrangements and hope we get all of the meals we want for our family and friends. At Disneyland the reservation window is only 60 days. What? How can this be? And to make my head spin even more many of my friends who have been to Disneyland say we probably don’t even need ADRs; it is much easier to get a walk up meal there. Well this Disney World veteran isn’t going to chance it with big August crowds and made ADRs for each day of her trip.

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A Disney World Bucket List

by on July 24, 2012

Non-Disney loving people that I know are always asking me the same tired question… “You’re going to Disney World… again?” Yeah, I am. I always am and I always will be going again. The follow-up questions seem to be pretty consistant too. “Don’t you ever get sick of it? Haven’t you done everything there is to do?

Obviously, those of us that know the parks well are aware that it’s virtually impossible to do every single thing at Disney World. The resort is always changing and evolving. New things are getting added all the time. Traveling with new people and at different times of the year makes each and every trip to Disney World unique and interesting. A while ago, I decided that I needed a way to ensure that I was experiencing something new every trip. That’s when I started my bucket list.

In case you don’t know, a bucket list is a list of things you want to do before you “kick the bucket.” Throughout the past couple of years I’ve actually gotten to cross off many things from my list. I finally rode the teacups (which I survived) and eventually I sat through Country Bear Jamboree. Staying at the Polynesian Resort was always a dream of mine since childhood and back in 2010 I crossed that off of my list.

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WDW Park Hours: What to Expect in September

by on July 24, 2012

Here at we spend a lot of time honing our predictions to make our Crowd Calendar the most accurate available. One of the many methods we employ is projecting park hours for all of Disney’s Florida theme parks. You may be wondering why we bother since Disney World publishes its park hours for all to see. Well, Disney does not always make things easy (as outlined here).

The published hours are available for the next six months (currently through January), but they are simply preliminary hours. Disney doesn’t create an operational schedule for its employees that far in advance. Using things like hotel occupancy rates and dining reservations, Disney reviews all hours for a given month approximately two weeks prior to the start of that month (for instance, September’s adjusted hours should be released on or around August 20) and makes changes to its park hours.

How often are park hours changed two weeks before the start of a month? This post will give you idea of what to expect when September hours are adjusted. And the chart below shows what the final park hours were for Walt Disney World in September 2011.

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The 10 Year Old Adult at Walt Disney World

by on July 23, 2012

Ice cream at the Plaza fits this growing boy's appetite

Before I even start typing this post, I bet there are many of you out there who know exactly what I’m talking about. My son just turned 10 years old this past December, and all of a sudden, Disney considers him an adult. It poses a lot of difficulties for us, considering that he still behaves like at 10 year old. I’d love it if he could go out and find work to help pay for these new found adult bills; but sadly, that’s frowned upon. So, what are these challenges and how do we deal with them?

Dining – This is where it hits us the worst. Under the 3-9 year old plan, my son could join us for meals at Crystal Palace or ‘Ohana for a child’s price, between $13.99-$17.99 depending on the meal or time of year. Sure, that’s unreasonable by normal standards, but for a fine buffet meal at Walt Disney World, it’s not terrible. As I’ve written before, when you’re on the Disney Dining Plan and only paying that amount for the Table Service meal and getting a “free” Counter Service meal, it’s a great bargain.

Now, however, taking my son to buffets is expensive, and it’s hard for him to get enough to eat off the kids’ menus at other Table Service restaurants. That takes our dining costs up significantly, if you figure in one Table Service and two Counter Service meals per day. It comes out to an average increase in price of $30 per day. That adds up over the course of a vacation.

The way we’ve so far managed to get around it is twofold: finding less expensive restaurants and sharing portions. Places like Trail’s End charge lower prices than other buffets but still allow the growing boy to eat whatever he’d like. Our favorite new Table Service meal is the Plaza Restaurant on Main Street in the Magic Kingdom, where we can get him a sandwich, drink, and side item for under $15. Also, with three of us now eating off the adult menu, the portions are usually large enough where my wife and I can order full size meals, then share with him. If we order a lesser priced appetizer to share, there’s more than enough food to go around.

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