Archive for July, 2012

August WDW Park Hours

by on July 22, 2012

The Disney World park hours were recently updated for August (well, most of August), with operating hours extended for the Magic Kingdom, Disney’s Hollywood Studios, and Disney’s Animal Kingdom. Now, on several days, the Magic Kingdom is open until 11pm with a second Main Street Electrical Parade added.

Hollywood Studios also had every day changed, and will now stay open until 10pm for the entire month. All days will also see an additional showing of Fantasmic!. Animal Kingdom had a few closing times adjusted as well, those until 8pm.

The chart below shows all current park hours with changes in red. Please note that the hours were only updated through Saturday, August 25. August 26 through 31 will be updated with the September hours update coming in a few weeks.

You will also notice minor changes to our Crowd Calendar involving some of the changed dates. We recently began using our own internal projected park hours to give you the most accurate crowd ratings available. Using these projected hours has made our long-term crowd ratings more stable, but we are not perfect (well, some of us).

We apologize for the changes, although one thing you should be aware of is that Disney sometimes announces extended operating hours on the actual day of operation. Saturdays in particular tend to be prime candidate for last minute extensions. These extensions are not necessarily something that can be planned around, but you should be aware that they are possible. We will make sure to keep you updated on all changes.


Last Week at Disneyland Resort (7/15/2012 – 7/21/2012)

by on July 22, 2012

All photos copyright Disney

The Disneyland Resort celebrated a special date last week. Did you bake a cake?

Crowd Calendar

Quietest Day: Friday 7/20 was a 9 out of 10 at the resort, with DCA crowds at only 6.3.

Busiest Day: Tuesday 7/17 was a 10 out of 10 at the resort, with DCA crowds at 9.7.

Subscribe to the Disneyland Crowd Calendar for details on predicted crowds for the next 30 days.

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WDW News Bites 7/21/12

by on July 21, 2012

A couple of smaller newsworthy bits have come out over the past couple days that I wanted to share with you all.

First, for those who are unaware, Le Cellier Steakhouse at the Canada Pavilion at Epcot will cost 2 Table-Service dining credits on the Disney Dining Plan for both lunch and dinner in 2013. Last year, dinner changed over to a Signature Dining experience, and for 2013 lunch will also be considered a Signature Dining experience.

In refurbishment news, at Epcot the Art of Disney store will be closed from July 23-30, 2012.

Also getting a quick refurbishment, the Honey I Shrunk the Kids Movie Set Adventure at Disney’s Hollywood Studios will be closed from September 10-14, 2012.


Evening Extra Magic Hours Reduced in 2013

by on July 21, 2012

The Evening Extra Magic Hours benefit for guests staying in Walt Disney World Resort hotels will be reduced from 3 hours at night to 2 hours at night beginning in January 2013. Confirmation comes from Walt Disney World’s website, which was updated to state the following about Extra Magic Hours: “Each day, one of the 4 Walt Disney World theme parks opens one hour early or remains open up to 2 hours after regular closing time. Additionally, Disney Water Parks offer Extra Magic Hours during select times of year.”

This follows the removal of evening Extra Magic Hours at Disney’s Animal Kingdom in February 2011, in favor of added morning Extra Magic Hours. No word yet on what, if anything, will be added to the guest experience in place of the cut Extra Magic Hours. Whether normal operating hours are extended to offset the decrease in Extra Magic Hours remains to be seen (and given the fluid nature of park hours it likely won’t be a question we can answer for months), but it appears likely at least for the Magic Kingdom. If this offset occurs it will benefit non-Disney hotel guests most.

This cut in benefits to on-site resort guests follows recent increases in Disney Dining Plan prices for 2013 and Walt Disney World Resort hotel price increases for 2013.

The 10 Best Disney Resorts at Disneyland or Disney World

by on July 20, 2012

Having spent more time in Disney parks and more time staying in Disney hotels then any non-Disney employed person really has the right to, I thought I’d list my favorite Disney theme park resorts in order. The Unofficial Guide does a wonderful job of comparing hotels by value, room size, and many other considerations. My list doesn’t take value or any scientific factors into account at all! This is simply the list of the 10 hotels that I most enjoy staying in when visiting a Disney park.

In some cases, only certain room types or views merit making the list. Paradise Pier, for example, made the list, but only a theme park view room. I wouldn’t put the standard rooms in my top 10 at all. Some other hotels didn’t make the list that I’m sure some of you will find questionable. I can hear it now, “What! The Grand Floridian Resort is Disney’s flagship resort on the East Coast!! How can it not be in the top 10?” The Grand Floridian, while beautiful and in a great location, is just too stuffy for me! I feel underdressed in shorts! Even in my own room!

So here it is. The 10 hotels that made MY list of best Disney park hotels.

1. Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel and Spa – I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. The Grand Californian at Disneyland Resort is my favorite resort on either coast. I’ve stayed in both the villas and the hotel section and fell in love with both. It’s an absolutely stunning hotel. The lobby takes your breath away and the rooms don’t disappoint. The proximity to the parks and Downtown Disney District is unsurpassed by any Disney hotel on either coast. I have stayed in rooms with views of all types and wouldn’t turn my nose up at any of them. One of my favorite views actually isn’t even the theme park view which costs the most. For me it’s the Downtown Disney view. I absolutely love standing on my balcony and watching the people go by underneath. You can see the fireworks from several of those rooms and hear the live music below. I love it! I’m staying at the Grand Californian again in about 4 weeks, and I am counting the minutes!! Tip: Take time to go to an animation class in Hearthstone Lounge—it’s free and just a short walk from the parks.

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Weekly Disneyland Photo Update for July 20, 2012

by on July 20, 2012

As you can see, we’ve moved the Weekly Disneyland Photo Update from Monday to Fridays. This week we take a look at construction and maintenance going on around the resort.

On Tuesday Disneyland celebrated its 57th birthday with a small celebration in Town Square. The event was similar to the low key birthdays in the past few years where they bring out a boat load of characters to sing happy birthday. They also re-play Walt Disney’s opening day speech over the loud speakers. Please forgive the poor pictures, I underestimated the popularity of this event and showed up late. Town Square was gridlocked and the only spot available was way off to the side.

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Itzazu: Disney’s Animal Kingdom Examined

by on July 20, 2012

Itzazu. Itz-a-zu. Get it? It’s my “clever” marketing campaign to convince people that Disney’s Animal Kingdom is a glorified zoo in an attempt to persuade the powers that be make Disney’s Animal Kingdom live up to its potential. I won’t be utilizing this campaign because I believe that the substance of the park speaks for itself (and because I blew my marketing budget for the year earlier this week trying to convince Pixar to add a Manatee character to Finding Nemo 2). As evidenced by Disney’s “Nahtazu” campaign, and its attempt to convince a reluctant public that the park was “not a zoo,” Disney doesn’t believe that the substance of the park speaks for itself.

Disney’s Animal Kingdom is an incredibly divisive park. Based upon my opening paragraph, it might seem clear where I stand in the great debate. Although Animal Kingdom is not my favorite park, despite my comments above, I believe that Disney’s Animal Kingdom has the potential to be the best theme park at Walt Disney World. The groundwork has been laid, it’s just a matter of fleshing it out into a complete theme park concept. Despite its issues, it has an incredible number of strengths.

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The Current State Of Disneyland’s Innoventions

by on July 19, 2012

Disneyland’s Innoventions isn’t exactly a must see attraction. The building takes up a massive amount of space in Tomorrowland and sees very small crowds on even the busiest days of the year. I recently noticed Disney made some operational changes to the way the attraction loads. Admittedly, I have not been inside in over a year, so I decided to go in and take a closer look at the current state of Innoventions.

 The original entrance to Innoventions, used from its opening in 1998 up until early 2012. Notice a temporary sign redirects people to the right.

Originally after going through the entrance, Cast Members would gather guests in groups of about 20 people. They would then play a video introduction hosted by a robot named Tom Morrow (voiced by Nathan Lane). After the video pre-show, guests would enter the building and either view a demonstration by a cast member or be greeted by an impressive Tom Morrow animatronic.

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Cars Land Food: The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly (Part 1)

by on July 19, 2012

The neon-soaked source of my favorite Cars Land food. (All photos by Seth Kubersky)

Ever since Disney California Adventure relaunched last month, the park’s new food offerings have been earning almost as much attention as the attractions. Tom Bricker recently reviewed the park’s signature restaurant at Carthay Circle, but there’s also some intriguing automotive-inspired food to be found in Cars Land.

In a sense, Disney has attempted to ape Universal’s overwhelming critical and commercial success in concocting Harry Potter-themed comestibles. Sales of Butterbeer and Cauldron Cakes have help propel profits at Orlando’s Wizarding World to new heights, and I imagine Disney’s chefs hope their dishes will do the same.

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Adventures by Disney, Basic Questions Answered

by on July 18, 2012

As much as I absolutely ADORE the Disney theme parks and the Disney Cruise Line, if I were forced to swear upon a cup of Dole Whip, I might have to confess that my favorite part of the Disney Destinations family is now Adventures by Disney. In 2009, I went to Costa Rica with AbD. In 2010, I sent my parents and oldest daughter to Ireland with AbD. In 2011, I saw several European countries with the combined Barcelona Escape and Mediterranean Magic AbD trips. As you’re reading this, I’m off on the AbD Quest for the West to Yellowstone and environs. Next month, I’ll be on an AbD Germany excursion. And in 2013, I’ll being seeing China and Hong Kong with Adventures by Disney.

Um, can you tell I’m hooked?

The view from my hotel bed in Costa Rica.

To date, Touring Plans has not had much coverage of the Adventures by Disney part of Disney travel. And frankly, we’re not sure if Touring Plans readers are interested, so this is little test post. I’m here to answer some of the basic questions about AbD. If you want more, let us know. Or if this seems too far afield from your regularly scheduled Disney parks planning, let us know that too.

And now, on with the show …

What exactly is Adventures by Disney?

AbD is luxury group touring to destinations around the world, with Disney-trained guides. The key words in that sentence are “luxury,” “group,” and “Disney-trained.” Currently there are trips to destinations North, Central, and South America; Asia; Africa; Australia; and Europe.

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