Archive for October, 2012

Disney Reopens Passholder Previews for New Fantasyland

by on October 26, 2012

With the debacle that happened over the last week with Annual Passholders not being able to obtain spots for the AP Preview of the New Fantasyland, Disney has announced a new way for AP Holders to be able to preview the area.

The Magic Kingdom will now have 11 days of previews for Passholders to take advantage of. However, the change is that AP Holders will be able to attend via a sweepstakes to ensure that those who have not registered yet will have a chance to attend as well.

According to Disney, you will have multiple days to be able to submit your entry (but entries must be received by October 31 at 2:59 am EST) and guests will all have an equal opportunity to attend the preview. Guests will be chosen randomly and will receive an email with your date sometime around November 2. You will only have an opportunity to enter the sweepstakes once, but you will be able to choose more than one time period, increasing your chances at being chosen.

The same rules that were mentioned before on the AP previews apply to this one. Passholders are able to register up to eight guests total, but every member of the party must be a valid Annual Passholder at the time of registration and event. Valid Magic Kingdom admission is required for all guests. Guests must be 18 or older to sign up for the sweepstakes, however, guests of all ages may attend.

Keep in mind, if you already have registered and have your date to visit, you do not need to re-register.

To enter, click here. You will then be able to choose the dates and times you would be able to potentially participate in the preview. Dates are November 6, 7, 8, 9, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, and 18. You will then need to select the number of Passholders attending and then hit enter to submit you entry.

Hopefully, this new way of signing up for the AP Previews of New Fantasyland will go much more smooth than the previous way.

10 Best Places to Meet Characters at Disneyland

by on October 26, 2012

Who doesn’t love to meet characters at Disneyland?  Well, besides small children who are absolutely terrified of humongous Goofys and the like, of course.  And maybe teenagers aren’t all that excited by the giant Buzz Lightyear they used to love, as moms of teenage boys will sadly recognize.  But, a large portion of the Disney visitor population is out to see as many characters as possible with, hopefully, as little waiting as possible.

Don’t worry, Disney doesn’t leave you on your own to find characters.  The Disney Mobile Magic App has a character locater built in to it!  There are also character meet and greets listed on the Times Guide that you can grab as you enter each park.  On the maps for each park there are Mickey Gloves denoting character locations.  There are many ways to find them.

Let me share some good places I’ve found to meet up with your favorites.

1. Character Meals – The easiest, though certainly not the cheapest, way to guarantee you’ll get some one-on-one character time is by booking a character meal.  Breakfast in the Park with Minnie and Friends at the Plaza Inn is chock full of them.  We saw 11 characters in one meal.  Goofy’s Kitchen also has a dizzying array of characters.  Did you ever think you’d see Aladdin and Mulan in the same place?  Well you can at Goofy’s!  There’s a smattering of Princesses at Goofy’s, but the real Princess concentration is at Ariel’s Grotto in Paradise PierSurf’s Up!  Breakfast with Mickey and Friends in Paradise Pier Hotel is actually the only place you can eat breakfast with Mickey.  If you’d like to eat with some woodland friends, then you’ll want to eat at Storytellers Café in the Grand Californian.  There are a whole lot of options for character meals at Disneyland and a whole lot of characters there to reward your efforts.

2. Native Areas – If you’re looking for a specific character, you need to look in their native Disneyland home.  Buzz Lightyear, for instance, likes to hang out where all good space rangers would hang out – in Tomorrowland.  His good pal Woody, on the other hand, can be found over in Frontierland.  You’ll also likely find Pocohantas and Jessie in Frontierland.  And who would you expect to find in a bug’s land?  Flik of course!  I’m sure no one needs to tell you that there are some very cool Cars that roam the streets of, and park in, Cars Land.  You get the picture?

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Weekly Disneyland Photo Update For October 26, 2012

by on October 26, 2012

The first sign of Christmas has appeared in Disneyland. The snow has now been added to the castle.

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Magic Kingdom Operating Hours Extended for Select Days in November

by on October 25, 2012

The operating hours for November were updated last week for Walt Disney World. Today, a few more changes were made to the schedule, and these changes will definitely have an effect on the Crowd Calendar. The adjusted days are:

These changes are significant because it is very rare for an off-season, non-holiday, mid-week day to have such long operating hours. Each of these days is an Annual Passholder preview day for New Fantasyland, which I am sure is not a coincedence. In addition, they encompass parts of the Veteran’s Day holiday and “Jersey Week,” when many New Jersey schools are off.

As you may guess, these days are expected to have higher crowds than normal mid-week, mid-November days. Within the next day or two, you will see increases in the Crowd Calendar for most, if not all, of these days. The good news is that the early hours (8am until 10 or 11am) and the late hours (after 10pm) will be good touring times. As always, starting at park opening and operating with a Touring Plan will offset any increased crowd activity.

New Unofficial Guide Disney Dish Podcast – Disney’s Wilderness Lodge

by on October 25, 2012

Episode 20 of the Unofficial Guide’s Disney Dish podcast with Jim Hill is available via iTunes and direct MP3 download!

Join Jim and me as we walk into and around Disney’s Wilderness Lodge, discussing the Lodge’s inspiration, the process of building it, and how it all turned out. We also stop by the Wilderness Lodge Villas, where Jim explains that DVC resort’s backstory as housing for the workers who were constructing the Wilderness Lodge. This episode was recorded on location earlier this month at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge.

Update: Here’s the RSS feed for anyone who’d like to follow upcoming episodes.

A Tribute To Trolls

by on October 25, 2012

The original title of this post was to be “A Salute To All Things Norway, But Mostly Trolls, Anorexic Polar Bears, Oil Rigs, and Children of the Corn” but that was deemed a tad too wordy by the editors. Title notwithstanding, I’m excited to take you on an exciting 24,248 word adventure/dissertation on the cultural significance, anthropological underpinnings, and guest psychology surrounding the Maelstrom boat ride in Epcot. Hope you’re ready for some fun!!!

As my posts over the years have suggested, I’m a big fan of some of Walt Disney World’s less popular attractions and I honestly believe many of these attractions are superior to popular attractions in their respective parks. I’ve ardently supported Country Bear Jamboree. I’ve pontificated on the merits of Carousel of Progress. I’ve even presented my case for believing Impressions de France is superior to Soarin’. I’ve even wrote a treatise complaining about that big hat so many people seem to love. So does it really come as any surprise that I’m a fan of Maelstrom?

The difference in the case of Maelstrom is that I realize Maelstrom is flat out bad. Laugh out loud bad. So bad that it’s good. I enjoy a lot of media like this, most of which I’d describe as campy, kitschy, or self-aware and self-deprecating. I enjoy movies like the Leprechaun series that don’t purport to have any artistic merit and are acutely aware that their whole premise is a big joke.

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Big Change Coming For Wheelchair Rental Companies at Disney

by on October 24, 2012

Starting November 1, Disney will only allow approved companies to drop off or pick up scooters at the Bell Stand or Front Desk. (Meaning, the scooter is waiting for guests when they arrive, and guests can drop it off there when they check out at the end of their stay.)

The list of scooter rental places approved has not been announced; however, it does appear that Buena Vista Scooters is an approved company.

One company that does not appear to be approved but is prevalent in the Orlando area is Walker Mobility Scooter Rentals. Walker will still be able to provide scooters by doing a meet-and-greet style pick up and drop off. Walker will require a guest’s flight information, as well as cell phone number. At their resorts guests must meet a Walker representative to take receipt of the scooter and to return it prior to their departure. To be clear, Disney cast members will not assist with the rental process by temporarily storing scooters from Walker Mobility or other “unapproved” vendors.

We’ll keep you posted as more news comes out.

The Weather at Walt Disney World

by on October 24, 2012

You’ve spent countless hours planning, making reservations, and studying touring plans to construct the best possible Disney vacation for your family. Yay! But even the most carefully constructed Disney World battle plan can go quickly awry when unexpected weather conditions butt into your plans. Here are some things to consider about how the weather might impact your trip.

Average Walt Disney World temperatures. Chart from Click to enlarge.

Long-term Information is Power

One of the most frequently asked questions I’ve seen when working on the Walt Disney World Moms Panel is, “What will the weather be like during the time of my visit?” The guest then typically lists a date months in advance. Lacking Madame Leota’s crystal ball, the source I use to answer these types of questions is The Weather Channel chart of month averages for Walt Disney World. See the photos at the right for screen shots of the average WDW temperature and rainfall each month.

The main thing to note about these charts is that the temperatures and rainfall listed are AVERAGES. This means that what will happen during any given year might vary widely from those numbers.

I have visited Walt Disney World during the first week of December during four different years. If you look at the Weather Channel chart, you’ll see that the average daytime high for that week is in the mid-70s and the average nighttime low is in the mid-50s. Two of the four years I visited at that time, that’s exactly what I experienced, temperate climes perfect for touring. My other two early December visits had significant deviation from the curve. One year I was sweating through my tee shirts, with temperatures in the upper 80s. A different year, I ended up purchasing two heavy sweatshirts and pair of gloves because early morning temperatures were in the low 40s. Same week, vastly different experiences.

So, while you can use weather averages for general planning purposes, deciding when to visit for example, you’ll definitely need to do some fine tuning on your packing and daily planning as you get closer to your trip.

And in the trivia department … The highest recorded temperature at Walt Disney World was 102 degree F. The lowest was 17 degrees F. No shorts on that vacation!

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Photo Trip Report: Mickey’s Halloween Party at Disneyland

by on October 23, 2012

Last week I attended Mickey’s Halloween Party at Disneyland for the first time. Just to give you a little bit of history on this event, it originally started in 1995 as a family-friendly response to the extremely popular Halloween Haunt at Knott’s Berry Farm and Halloween Horror Nights at Universal Studios. It ran for only 2 years until it was revived in 2005. From 2005 to 2009 the party was held in Disney’s California Adventure. In 2010 the event was moved back to Disneyland, and its current seasonal fireworks and parade were added. Please see our previous blog post for more information on Mickey’s Halloween Party at Disneyland.





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Resort Information: Yacht and Beach Club – Pool Information

by on October 23, 2012

This is a continuation of a new series taking a comprehensive look at all of the Walt Disney World Resort hotels. There will be several posts on each resort looking at pools, dining, shopping, and other amenities.

General Information

Every Walt Disney World resort has at least one pool and all are very nice. It is likely that none can match the main pool at the Yacht and Beach Club Resorts in size, scope, and design. Named Stormalong Bay, the massive, free-form, sand-bottomed pool is something special.

While the theme of the pool is simply “beachy,” the execution is quite complex. There are two centerpieces that are helpful in orienting oneself; a decorative, yet moving, windmill and the gigantic shipwreck that serves as the start of the pool’s water slide. The shipwreck itself is actually on the beach side of the promenade, while the rest of the pool meanders and flows around the windmill and various walkways and footbridges.

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