Archive for January, 2013

HGTV Stars Announced For Epcot’s Flower and Garden Festival

by on January 27, 2013

Wow! Hard to believe we are just a little over a month away from the Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival! Lately, Disney has been releasing a TON of information about this year’s event, with some of the new food and beverages options announced earlier this week!

This year’s festival is once again sponsored by HGTV. With that come seminars with opportunities to see your favorite HGTV or DIY Network stars up close and personal. These presentations take place on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays in the Festival Center (former Wonders of Life Pavilion) at noon and 3:00 pm.

The celebrity line up for this year is:

  • March 8-10 – Chris Lambton, Going Yard
  • March 15-17 – Chris Grundy, DIY Network’s Cool Tools
  • March 22-24 – Egypt Sherrod, host of Property Virgins
  • March 29-31 – Brandon Johnson, My Yard Goes Disney
  • April 5-7 – Meg Caswell, Meg’s Great Rooms
  • April 12-14 – Jason Cameron, DIY Network’s Desperate Landscapes and Man Caves
  • April 19-21 – Sara Peterson, Editor-in-Chief, HGTV Magazine
  • April 26-28 – Carter Oosterhouse, Million Dollar Rooms
  • May 3-5 – Casey Noble, Design on a Dime
  • May 10-12 – Dan Faires,, DanMade
  • May 17-19 – David Bromstad, HGTV Design Star, ColorSplash, Design Star All-Stars

These presentations are included in your admission to Epcot during the event, which runs from March 6 – May 19.

Details About New Garden Marketplace Dining For Epcot’s Flower and Garden Festival

by on January 25, 2013


Details have been slowly leaking out about the 2013 Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival, which starts on March 6 and runs through May 19.  In addition to what’s been previously announced, we now have information on the Garden Marketplaces, which will feature food and beverages that are inspired from the spring season.

There will be twelve Marketplaces overall, each offering different delectable choices for visitors to the Festival. Some of them include:

  • Florida Fresh (World Showcase Promenade)
  • Smokehouse Barbecue (American Adventure Pavilion)
  • Primavera Kitchen (Italy Pavilion)
  • Hanami (Japan Pavilion)
  • The Cottage (UK Pavilion)
  • Pineapple Promenade
  • Fruits By The Glass

There a ton of great new food options that will be available at the Marketplaces. Options include:

  • Shrimp and Stone Ground Grits with Andouille Sausage, fresh Zellwood Corn, Tomatoes and Cilantro
  • Sweet fruishi, made with fruit and coconut rice
  • Angel Food Cake with macerated Florida Berries
  • Watermelon Salad with pickled Red Onions, Baby Arugula, Feta Cheese and Balsamic Reduction
  • Heirloom Tomatoes are paired with house-made Mozzarella, Minus 8 Vinegar and fresh Basil
  • Pulled Pig Slider with Cole Slaw
  • Dole Whip with Spiced Rum

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Dumbo And Barnstormer FASTPASS Now Connected

by on January 25, 2013

After getting a tip from a subscriber, we headed out to Magic Kingdom to check whether the Dumbo and Barnstormer FASTPASS machines had been “connected” to the Magic Kingdom’s FASTPASS system. Previously these were not connected, meaning that guests could get a FASTPASS for Dumbo and/or Barnstormer and then immediately get another FASTPASS for a different attraction.

However, these two attractions are now connected and adhere to normal FASTPASS rules, meaning you can only get a new one after your FASTPASS window begins or after 2 hours, whichever comes first. We have updated the Personalized Touring Plans optimization software to reflect this change.

UPDATE: It seems that the machines are once again disconnected and guests can get these FASTPASSes even if they already have others.  We have updated the Touring Plan software to reflect this.

10 Great Things that Happened at Disneyland Last Year

by on January 25, 2013

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you know that Disney California Adventure completed a massive, several year long reconstruction in 2012. The completed project has gotten a lot of attention recently, and deservedly so. It’s awesome.

But don’t fret! Disneyland wasn’t completely left out in the cold. It didn’t get any multi-million dollar upgrades, but it did have some fun additions and happenings. So here’s a review! Some things you may have missed.

1. The Disneyland Hotel was finished – The Disneyland Hotel was pretty much done with its remodel before January, but January 21 marked the official completion. I love the new design. The mahogany headboards with inlaid light-up fireworks are just gorgeous. The rooms used to be fairly devoid of Disney theming, but I think the theming is awesome now. Just the right touches without making it overwhelming or garish. The new displays in the lobbies are wonderful as well. The pool is the piece de resistance for me, however! It’s picturesque, inviting, and fun all at the same time! And, of course, Trader Sam’s and Tangaroa Terrace are welcome additions according to pretty much everyone.

2. Jolly Holiday Bakery – Back in January, the Annual Pass processing center became a restaurant once again! Cheers were heard round the world! Or round Disneyland! Or round the message boards! With Mary Poppins theming, (who doesn’t love penguins?) and yummy food, this bakery has become quite popular! They serve comfort food like grilled cheese sandwiches and soup, lighter fare like salads, and several other sandwiches as well. Of course, it’s not called “Bakery” for nothing. It’s full of bakery fare! Cookies, muffins, croissants, cupcakes and don’t miss the Matterhorn Macaroons!

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Elton John Performs Private Concert Tonight at Disney California Adventure

by on January 25, 2013

Photo courtesy Yamaha

The beautiful Hyperion Theater in Disney California Adventure is normally home to the excellent Aladdin stage show, an enhanced version of which will bow on Broadway next year. But tonight (1/25/2013), for one night only, the theater will be taken over by a musical icon even more mesmerizingly mercurial and outrageously colorful than the Genie.

Elton John, a rock superstar since the 1970s, and the Oscar-winning songwriter behind The Lion King soundtrack, will perform a private concert tonight at the Disneyland Resort in conjunction with the NAMM (National Association of Music Merchants) trade convention currently occurring at the Anaheim convention center across the street. John is schedule play a 5-song set, accompanied by a 70-piece orchestra conducted by James Newton Howard. Other performers appearing include Amy Grant, Chaka Khan, Dave Grusin, Earth, Wind & Fire, David Foster, Dave Koz, LEOGUN, Landon Pigg, Lucy Schwartz, Michael McDonald, Sarah McLachlan, Sinbad and Toto.

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New Interactive Pirate Game To Debut at The Magic Kingdom – A Pirate’s Adventure: Treasures of Seven Seas

by on January 23, 2013


According to the Disney Parks Blog, a brand new interactive experience is set to debut at the Magic Kingdom. A Pirate’s Adventure: Treasures of the Seven Seas will open in Adventureland this spring.

The new game will have guests use a magical talisman, along with a pirate map, to complete five different pirate raids. The goal will be to locate different treasures of the Seven Seas, as well as to fight off enemies. Guests who manage to complete the quest will then be welcomed into Captain Jack Sparrow’s crew.

According to the concept art, the new game appears to feature skulls that will serve to activate the different pirate raids with lots of great interactive touches.

This game is a completely separate game from Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom, and guests will be able to play both when the visit the park. The experience will be included in park admission. No specific opening date has been given, but we’ll be sure to keep you posted!

Escape From Tomorrow: The Disney Parks Film You’ll Never See

by on January 23, 2013

In the annals of Walt Disney’s cinematic legacy, there are a handful of infamous films that have been banished from public sight for various social and legal reasons. Song of the South, which has been unavailable to American audiences for a generation due to perceived racial insensitivity, is perhaps the best known. The Sweatbox, a fascinatingly unflattering warts-and-all documentary about the troubled creation of The Emperor’s New Groove, is a more modern example that Mickey buried out of embarrassment.

To that ignoble club, the latest member you can likely add is Escape From Tomorrow, the darling of this week’s Sundance Film Festival. Writer/director Randy Moore‘s debut independent feature is a David Lynch-inspired black & white surreal horror flick featuring Roy Abramsohn as a father trapped in a nightmarish theme park vacation.

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Experiencing Disney’s Marathon Weekend

by on January 22, 2013

This year, Disney World celebrated the 20th anniversary of the always exciting (and exhausting) Marathon Weekend. Many events were held over the course of four days that drew in people from all over the world. It was a great weekend for the motivated runners and supporters.

Back in August, I made the decision to not only attend Marathon Weekend for the first time, but actually participate in a race. For months, I had been seeing my friends train for and successfully complete races that they never thought that they would be doing. I wanted that accomplishment for myself! My husband, Matt, and I decided to train to run 3.1 miles in the Family Fun Run 5K event. We started the training with an 8 week Couch to 5K program. Never running more than a mile in my life (and never willingly), I was absolutely petrified at what I was going to be doing.

Before I knew it, my husband I arrived in Disney World just days before our big run. We chose to stay at Disney’s All-Star Sports Resort, which was also a big hit with other runners. Immediately, we were surround by “real runners” which only made me feel like more of an amateur. Here I was, nervous to run 3 miles, and others were preparing themselves for a race far more challenging. What was I so afraid of?

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Downtown Disney at a Glance

by on January 21, 2013

Over the past 5 years, Downtown Disney has become a bit of a mixed bag in terms of offerings and guest appreciation. With the closure of the majority of nightlife in Pleasure Island in September 2008, and the announcement-then-hiatus of Hyperion Wharf in 2010-2011, both longtime fans of Walt Disney World and newcomers to the Orlando resort may wonder what the shopping, dining, and nightlife hotspot currently has to offer.

Personally, I love making time during my Walt Disney World vacations to visit Downtown Disney, even if our time on property only spans a weekend. This is article serves as the beginning of a series I will be posting on the TouringPlans blog taking a closer look at everything you can see and do during a visit to Downtown Disney, and why you should make time for it during your next Walt Disney World vacation. In each article, I will provide an overview of the shopping, dining, entertainment, transportation, special events, and additional attractions that can be found at each of the three sections of Downtown Disney: the Marketplace, West Side, and, yes, even Pleasure Island. Before we get started, here’s a brief look at some of my personal favorite spots:

Raglan Road

5 words: Ger’s Bread and Butter Pudding. Oh, alright, I’ll offer a few additional words. Raglan Road is one of the remaining venues on Pleasure Island and has easily become my favorite restaurant on Disney property. The food has never disappointed, the atmosphere is authentic, and the music and Irish dancers provide entertainment throughout your meal. But seriously, even if you forget all of that, just remember to order the bread pudding.



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Last Week at Disneyland Resort (1/13/2013 – 1/19/2013)

by on January 21, 2013

All images copyright Disney

Happy Inauguration Day! As America’s President retakes the oath of office in chilly Washington, the sun is rising over Anaheim on a warm Martin Luther King Day. Unlike some Superbowl stars, Obama probably won’t end his victory celebration by shouting, “I’m going to Disneyland!” But if you are visiting the Happiest Place On Earth this week, why not honor our Republic by spending some great moments with Mr. Lincoln as you enjoy this season’s short lines in Disneyland.

Crowd Calendar

Quietest Day: Wednesday 1/16 was a 2 out of 10 at the resort, with 2.5 at Disneyland, and 1.1 at DCA.

Busiest Day: Saturday 1/19 was an 9 out of 10 at the resort, with a 9.9 at Disneyland, and 7.5 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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