Archive for December, 2012

Last Week at Disneyland Resort (12/23/2012 – 12/29/2012)

by on December 31, 2012

Did you get all the gifts you asked Santa for last week? The Disneyland Resort found exactly what it wanted under the tree this holiday season: record-setting crowds overrunning both its parks. Heavy attendance will hang around for the first couple weeks of the new year, when the resort returns to its pre-holiday look as the Cristmas decor comes down.

Crowd Calendar

Quietest Day: Monday 12/24 was an 8 out of 10 at the resort, with 7.6 at Disneyland, and 7.9 at DCA.

Busiest Day: Thursday 12/27 was an 10 out of 10 at the resort, with a 10 at Disneyland, and 10 at DCA.

Subscribe to the Touring Plans Disneyland Crowd Calendar for full details on predicted attendance for the next 30 days.

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Additional Parking Restrictions at Walt Disney World for Holiday Season

by on December 28, 2012

Earlier this week, we let you know about some of the parking restrictions that were taking place over the extremely busy Holiday Season. It now seems that a few more resorts are under parking restrictions.

  • Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort and Campground will be restricted until January 1
  • Disney’s Polynesian Resort will be restricted from December 30-31
  • Disney’s Yacht and Beach Club Resorts will be restricted on December 31
  • Disney’s BoardWalk Resort will be restricted on December 31

Again, these parking lots will only allow guests who are staying at the resort, those who have dining or recreation reservations, and those attending a conference.

Top 10 Announcements I’d like to Hear from Disney in 2013

by on December 28, 2012

As the New Year is upon us, many of us have been making lists of things we want to get accomplished in 2013.  Why don’t we come up with a list, however, of things we’d like to see Disney do in 2013 on our behalf?  Yes, the heirs of Walt have to worry about a lot of things (costs, the economy, construction permits, etc.) when planning new awesome enhancements to their product line, but we don’t!  Sure we could worry about those things as well if we wanted to, but this is a “Blue Sky” brainstorming session unconstrained by such particulars!

So there are probably a lot of things Disney could announce this year that would make me happy, but I’m going to try to narrow this down to 10.  In case you haven’t read any of my previous blog posts, this post is coming from someone who loves Disneyland, Disney World, and the Disney Cruise Line, and regularly visits all three.  Disneyland, however, holds a special place in my heart, and therefore it will get the majority of my attention in this list.

1. Star Wars Something – The night it was announced that Disney had purchased Lucasfilm, everyone in my household was grinning from ear to ear all night long.  Oh, the possibilities for Disney!  Can you imagine a Star Wars-themed Land at Disney Hollywood Studios?  Disneyland doesn’t have as much room, of course, but surely they could take advantage of this too.  As a minimum, how about just some Star Wars Weekends for the West Coast or Star Wars themed rooms in the Disney hotels?

2 The Dragon is Staying in the U.S.A. – Yes, that Dragon.  Have you seen the video?  He’s amazing.  The rumors are strong that he’s headed overseas, and while I don’t begrudge any Disney park getting something awesome, man I’d like to see that dragon stay here so I could see him.  I was at Disney World the night he flew, but not in the Magic Kingdom unfortunately.  I would have loved to see him.  C’mon, Disney!  Keep him here and let him make some appearances on both coasts!

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First Limited Time Magic Event Announced

by on December 28, 2012

Earlier this year, Disney announced its Limited Time Magic celebration for 2013. The theme focuses on little unexpected experiences that will appear for a limited window and then disappear when the next experience debuts. Each experience is slated to be unique, magical, and memory-filled – and each for a limited time only.

The first Limited Time Magic event at Walt Disney World will celebrate the new year! Guests may “Bling in the New Year” at a dance party that will take place in Tomorrowland at the Magic Kingdom from December 30 – January 5. Everyone will get to enjoy live entertainment and dance the night away, plus interact with Disney characters at the Rockettower Plaza Stage. As a bonus, guests can count down to the New Year every hour!

In addition, 2013 has been dubbed the Year of the Ear. Each month, new ear hats will be released to collect.


Weekly Disneyland Photo Update For December 28, 2012

by on December 28, 2012

The structures housing the screens for the New Years Eve countdown clocks have appeared in front of Sleeping Beauty Castle.

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New Unofficial Guide Podcast Episode: Disneyland’s Toontown, With Jim Hill

by on December 28, 2012

Episode 32 in the Unofficial Guide Disney Dish series is available. iTunes link / Direct MP3

In this show, Jim and I walk through Disneyland’s Toontown and discuss how it came to be built.  As soon as the early 1960’s, Disney realized that guests wanted to interact more with their favorite characters.  Things really took off in the early 1980’s, though, when inexpensive videotape recorders began to replace 8 mm film recorders for home movies, and families no longer had to worry about the cost of filming longer and longer interactions with the characters.

Toontown is also one of the rare Disney theme park features that moved west from Disney World, instead of the other way around.  Jim talks about how Mickey’s 60th birthday party finally kickstarted the development of Toontown, and how the success of Who Framed Roger Rabbit gave Disneyland it’s own version of the land.

Please rate the podcast on iTunes and leave feedback on what episodes you’d like to see next!  Here’s a link to the RSS feed to subscribe.

Links to Recent Episodes

Disneyland’s Toontown, with Jim Hill (Episode 32) — iTunes / Direct MP3

A History of Walt Disney World’s Osborne Family Spectacle of Lights (Bonus Episode) — iTunes / Direct MP3

Disneyland’s Fantasyland, with Jim Hill (Episode 31) — iTunes / Direct MP3

Disneyland’s Critter Country, with Jim Hill (Episode 30) — iTunes / Direct MP3

Disneyland’s Frontierland, with Jim Hill (Episode 29) — iTunes / Direct MP3

Disneyland’s New Orleans Square, with Jim Hill (Episode 28) — iTunes / Direct MP3

Disneyland’s Adventureland, with Jim Hill (Episode 27) — iTunes / Direct MP3

Disneyland’s Main Street, with Jim Hill (Episode 26) — iTunes / Direct MP3

How Disneyland Really Got Built, with Jim Hill (Episode 25) — iTunes / Direct MP3

Star Wars Weekends Dates Announced

by on December 27, 2012


It’s the time of year that Star Wars fans look forward to! Star Wars Weekends dates have officially been announced.

In 2013 this special event takes place on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays from May 17 through June 9 at Disney’s Hollywood Studios.

The event features special meet-and-greet opportunities with Star Wars celebrities, meets with characters from the film (Hello Darth Vader!), one of a kind merchandise, plus special shows and presentations. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg!

This year’s celebrity hosts have been announced, and returning yet again are James Arnold Taylor and Ashley Eckstein, both voice actors for the hit Star Wars: The Clone Wars TV show.

No word yet on the celebrity line up yet for this year’s Star Wars Weekends, but we’ll keep you posted.

It will be interesting to see what happens with the event this year, given that this is the first year that Disney actually owns the Star Wars universe.

For guests who would like to have the force be with them, the event is included in your theme park admission.

Same Ride, Different Parks: The Little Mermaid

by on December 27, 2012

The Little Mermaid dark ride is now officially open in the Magic Kingdom. Today I will be taking a look at the differences between this version and the one that opened a year and a half earlier in Disney California Adventure. Both attractions are mostly the same, but they each have minor differences that make each one unique.

The name:

DCA: The Little Mermaid: Ariel’s Undersea Adventure – Magic Kingdom: Under the Sea: Journey of the Little Mermaid

For some reason, the name for the attraction was changed for East coast version. Personally I think both names are a bit long. But each convey the same idea: You’re joining Ariel and going under the sea.

The exterior:


Magic Kingdom

The DCA exterior features 20th-century architecture to match the area of the park the attraction is located in, Paradise Pier. The building has many beautiful details such as mermaids sculpted in to the walls and a brass King Triton on the highest point of the building. The Magic Kingdom exterior is made up of a recreation of Prince Eric’s castle surrounded by rocks, flowing water and a ship wreck. The Magic Kingdom’s exterior is much better looking than the one found in DCA but luckily both match their surroundings perfectly.

The queue:


The DCA attraction features a short,  no frills queue that takes place mostly indoors. It also has a covered overflow queue outside that is rarely used. The Magic Kingdom version resembles a cave and features beautiful rock work to match the exterior of the attraction. It’s a good thing the Magic Kingdom has such a nice queue because you will be spending a lot of time in it. Due to MK’s higher attendance and the use of Fastpass we’ve seen waits of over 90 minutes on busy days. Compare this to the attraction in Disney California Adventure where you’ll probably wait less than 10 minutes on most days.

The ride:

There are only minor differences between the actual ride portions of the attraction. Both use the same omnimover ride vehicles (shaped like clams), both have a duration of a little over 6 minutes, and both feature the same animatronics and scenes in the same locations.

The minor differences:


Magic Kingdom (Photo by Cory Disbrow from Disney Photography Blog)

In Disney California Adventure there is a hidden character in the Under the Sea scene not found in the Magic Kingdom version. Just after you see Ariel in this portion of the ride you will see a single fish with glasses hidden behind some seaweed. This fish is Mr. Limpet, from the 1964 film “The Incredible Mr. Limpet.” The Magic Kingdom version of the ride features a slightly different Ursula death scene. Physically the two Ursulas appear the same (where Ursula has her hands clutched and is screaming). The Ursula that appears in MK has a new lighting effect that adds extra emphasis to the fact that she has been defeated.

Final thoughts:

Overall you can’t go wrong with the Little Mermaid attraction in either park. As I said before, both match their surroundings, whether it be the 20th-century boardwalk in DCA, or the storybook village in Magic Kingdom. While it may not be the biggest or most impressive ride in Disney’s line up, it is another quality dark ride with appeal to most ages and a huge hourly capacity.

10 Tips For Planning Your 2013 Walt Disney World Visit

by on December 26, 2012

Many families use this week to begin planning their 2013 Walt Disney World vacations.   We’ve assembled some of our own Erin Foster’s most popular blog posts into a step by step list to get started.

1 – Trip Planning 101: Deciding When to Visit Walt Disney World
The first choice most families have to make is “When?”  Erin has a simple system for narrowing down your options.  It also works great for scheduling any kind of vacation!

2 – Trip Planning 101: How Long Should We Stay at Walt Disney World?
Explains how much time to budget, considering everything from budget and vacation time available, to stamina and non-park activities.

3 – Trip Planning 101: Budgeting for Your Trip to Walt Disney World
Includes a handy set of worksheets to use when trying to figure out how much your trip will cost.

4 – Value, Moderate, Deluxe, Villa: What’s the Difference Between Disney World Resort Categories?
A handy primer on the different kinds of lodging at Walt Disney World

5 – Deciding Where To Stay At Walt Disney World, Number Crunching Part 1: Getting the Most Sleep Surfaces Per Dollar
If you’ve got a large family, getting the most beds at the cheapest price can be important.  Erin’s got some tips on how to maximize your lodging dollar.

6 – Deciding Where To Stay At Walt Disney World, Number Crunching Part 2: Spending The Least Amount of Time In Transit

7 – Deciding Where To Stay At Walt Disney World: It’s All About the Bathroom
For some people, bathrooms are the most important part of the hotel room.  Learn the ins and outs of WDW bathrooms.

8 – The Art of the Disney World Room Request
Once you’ve settled on a resort, learn the tricks the pros use to get the perfect room.

9 – Trip Planning 101: Packing for Your Walt Disney World Vacation

10 – Frequently Asked Questions About Disney’s Magical Express

And a bonus:

11 – Trip Planning 101: Disney Dining
A reference on the restaurants and dining options available on your trip.

Let us know if there’s anything else you’d like to see.  Happy planning!

My First New Year’s Eve In Disney World

by on December 26, 2012

Dance party in Epcot, photo by Doug Uhlig

This year I’ll be spending New Year’s Eve in Disney World for the first time, and I couldn’t be more excited! I’ve always wanted to experience this holiday in Disney World, and this year is my big chance. I’ve heard all sorts of things about this occasion in the parks from crazy crowds to awesome fireworks, and I’m pumped to experience it for myself. Being the Touring Planner I am I’ve done a bit of research into my options for the day and night, and I encourage you to do the same if you intend to spend the end of 2012 at Disney World.

As we’ve previously posted on this blog, each park seems to have its own special offerings for the holiday. To briefly recap: the Magic Kingdom will have both Wishes! and Fantasy in the Sky fireworks to enjoy. Epcot will offer dance parties in various countries throughout World Showcase and a special version of IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth at 7:00 and 11:42. This is also one of the few times throughout the year guests can enjoy a fireworks display at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, with Mulch, Sweat, and Shears providing the live soundtrack. If you’d rather avoid crowded park, there are several other options around Disney World property, as well. Check out the link above for more details.

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