Archive for March, 2013

5 Ways to Start Your Day in Disney California Adventure

by on March 18, 2013

All photos by Seth Kubersky

Recently, I wrote about five of my favorite ways to begin my day at Disneyland Park. Until this past summer, Disneyland’s original park was most visitors’ first destination, with its little brother Disney California Adventure an afterthought on many itineraries.

Now, how the tables have turned: since last June’s grand re-opening of DCA, headlined by Cars Land and the Radiator Springs Racers E-Ticket, the former also-ran is often drawing as many (or even more) “first click” entries as its older sibling. That means more and more visitors are starting their Disney day on Buena Vista Street instead of Main Street, U.S.A.

As a result, we advise you arrive at DCA’s front gate at least 45 minutes before the official opening time; guests are typically allowed into the entry plaza at least 30 minutes early, and Disneyland’s current ID-checking procedures can make for slow lines at the turnstiles. Most importantly, don’t visit DCA on an Extra Magic Hour morning (currently Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Sunday) unless you are staying in a Disney resort hotel and can take advantage of the early entry.

Once you are inside the park and awaiting rope drop, what to do? Here are my top five tips for making mornings at DCA more memorable:

Read the rest of this entry »

Pixar Pals Countdown to Fun and Disney Channel Rocks Set to End

by on March 16, 2013

According to reports, Disney’s Hollywood Studios’ afternoon parade, Pixar Pals Countdown to Fun!, as well as the street show, Disney Channel Rocks!, are both set to end their runs on April 6, 2013.  Although no public announcement has been made, according to my sources the Entertainment Department is aware of the development.

As of right now, there is no word on the reasons behind these closures, and there is no replacement for either.

10 Reasons to Stay Onsite at Disneyland

by on March 15, 2013

I’ve always said offsite is okay at Disneyland. I’ve listed 10 reasons to stay offsite before! I’m not an offsite fan at Walt Disney World. At all. Disneyland, on the other hand, has a lot of good options right offsite, and a lot of good reasons to stay offsite. But there are also reasons people often pay more to stay onsite at Disneyland. And here are 10 of them!

1. Magic Factor – The Magic Factor is one of those terms that’s tossed around and not easily defined, but many people will agree that it’s real. When guests go to Disney, they want to be enveloped in the atmosphere, lost in their surroundings, and transported to another place. Disneyland starts at a disadvantage when compared to Disney World. When you enter the Disney World property, you can’t see anything but Disney World from most locations. It’s easy to forget the real world is out there for a few days. Disneyland, however, is surrounded by the real world. There’s an IHOP within walking distance of just about every location on property. For me, staying onsite helps. When I’m walking towards the Disneyland resorts, I’m walking away from the realities on Harbor Boulevard and walking towards more magic. No matter how lightly themed even the least-themed hotel (Paradise Pier Hotel) may seem, there are still hidden Mickeys to be found in the carpet and bedding, Mickey lamps, Mickey faucets, even Mickey himself is in the house at breakfast. If my room has a theme park view, I can turn on my television and have the music to the fireworks or World of Color piped in. The cast members aren’t always perfect, but Disney has high standards for hiring and it shows. The Magic Factor is a real thing, my friends. It’s real.

2. Special Entrance – There’s a special entrance into Disney California Adventure in the Grand Californian that’s just for resort guests during busy times! It’s most valuable in the mornings when the lines at the front gates are huge. The line at the special entrance can get long, but from my experience, they’re prepared, it moves fast, and they do check room keys. You come out right at Grizzly River Run, so it’s easy to snag some World of Color FASTPASSes before you join everyone and his dog over in Cars Land. If you are on your way back towards California Screamin’ and The Little Mermaid, you’ll pretty much have that area to yourself!

Read the rest of this entry »

Limited Time Magic for Walt Disney World and Disneyland Resort – Disney Character Easter “Egg” Hunt

by on March 15, 2013

This week’s Limited Time Magic, which will run from March 18 – March 24, will allow guests to take part in an Easter egg hunt through either Epcot at Walt Disney World or Disney California Adventure in Disneyland Resort.

Guests will have the opportunity to search for hidden “eggs” themed to Disney characters. Then they will be able to mark them with stickers on a special eggs-perience park map that will be available for purchase.

In Epcot, these will be available at Point of Entry, Pin Central, Heritage Manor at the American Adventure Pavilion, or the International Gateway. At Disney California Adventure, you can find them at Elias & Co, Oswald’s, Tower House Gifts, Radiator Springs Curios, and Treasures in Paradise. The maps will cost $4.95 each.

Once all eggs have been found, guests will be able to return the map to Port of Entry or Elias & Co for a special prize!

Disney Dining Plan Calculator Spreadsheet

by on March 15, 2013

This post was written by Joe Bouchard, a long time Disney fan who has visited Walt Disney World over 30 times. He and his wife (also a Disney lover) do a weekly YouTube show called See Ya Reel Soon.

One of the largest expenses when it comes to planning our Walt Disney World vacations has always been food. The cost for a family to eat at The World for a week can easily reach into the thousands of dollars. The sticker shock at each meal can even be an unpleasant experience to many guests. Balancing the cost with the enjoyment that dining out while on vacation can bring is often a challenge.

In 2005 Walt Disney World introduced its Dining Plan, an option that allowed guests to prepay a set amount in exchange for “credits” to be used at dining establishments throughout Walt Disney World property. The Disney Dining Plans have undergone many changes throughout the years and as the costs continue to rise many people, myself included, have started to question if it is the best option for them.

Read the rest of this entry »

Disney Unveils Disney Springs

by on March 14, 2013

It has been a part of the rumor mill for a while, but today Disney officially announced that Downtown Disney is going to be remodeled into Disney Springs.

This new area will include open air promenades and meandering springs, as well as a waterfront section. The design draws inspiration from small Florida towns, as well as Florida’s natural beauty.

“Disney Springs will be a timeless, vibrant place where Walt Disney World guests and local residents can relax, shop, dine and be entertained in an imaginative setting where they’ll instantly feel at home,” said Tom Staggs, chairman of Walt Disney Parks and Resorts. “Featuring distinctive brands, world-class restaurants and unforgettable entertainment, Disney Springs will be brought to life with the same focus on storytelling and attention to detail that goes into our theme parks, resorts and cruise ships, resulting in a welcoming space that only Disney could create.”

Read the rest of this entry »

5 Ways to Start Your Day In Disneyland Park

by on March 14, 2013

Moments before rope drop at Disneyland Park (all photos by Seth Kubersky)

If you’ve been following us at Touring Plans for a while, you already know the first and most important step on any Disneyland itinerary: arrive at the front gate early (at least 40 minutes before opening during busy seasons) with your tickets in hand.

But what do you do first once you’re through the turnstiles? People have their own traditions for where to head first at the Happiest Place on Earth. Here are five of my favorite ways to kick off my day at Disneyland Park.

Read the rest of this entry »

Walt Disney World Annual Passholders Getting RFID Passes

by on March 13, 2013

Beginning on Wednesday March 20, 2013, Walt Disney World guests who purchase or renew their Annual Passes will be issued an RFID pass as opposed to the old type. These passes can be used to enter the parks through the Next-Gen Touch Point entrances or through the regular turnstiles.

Existing passholders who would like to convert their passes to the new RFID style may do so between March 20, 2013, and May 19, 2013, at The Odyssey Center in Epcot during regular park hours. Passholders will need to show their pass and a valid photo ID to convert their pass.

The new passes will have a green background and will include a colored stripe to indicate whether or not the pass has parking privileges. Passholders who get free parking will have an orange stripe, and passes that do not include parking will have a black stripe.

What do you think of these changes? Are you excited for the new RFID technology?

A Walt Disney World Transportation Primer: Monorails, Buses, and Boats, Oh My

by on March 13, 2013

In addition to the dozens of fun and fabulous attraction ride vehicles you’ll encounter during a Walt Disney World vacation (Hunny Pots! Doom Buggies!), you’re also likely to go on some plain and practical rides during your visit. These are the many types of transportation vehicles that do yeoman’s work getting you from point A to point B on the 40 square miles of Disney property. Here’s a primer on the types of transport you’ll find on your trip.

You may use many forms of internal transportation during your visit to Walt Disney World.

Disney’s Magical Express bus service has its own rules, but all of the other forms of transportation listed below can be used by anyone, any time, for free.

Again, except for Magical Express, transportation use has no requirement that you be staying on property or at a particular resort. You don’t have to have any sort of ticket to use these transportation vehicles. The drivers don’t have any mechanism to take payments or tickets or anything like that. Really, it’s free. You may very rarely see some fine print that some transportation is only for resort guests. In 15 years of frequent WDW visits, taking thousands of trips on Disney internal transportation, I have never been asked where I’m staying as a condition of boarding a vehicle. On the three to five most crowded days of the year, you might be asked to show resort ID to get on the monorail to the Magic Kingdom, at some times of the day. This is simply for crowd control purposes at the park and has nothing to do with limiting your access to the transportation itself.

You can get anywhere on Walt Disney World property using only this free Disney-provided transportation, but bear in mind that many types of trips will require a mid-route transfer. For example, to get from the Magic Kingdom to Epcot, you’ll need to change monorail lines at the Transportation and Ticket Center, or to get from the Animal Kingdom Lodge to the Beach Club, you’ll need to change buses at the Animal Kingdom park or switch from a bus to a boat at Disney’s Hollywood Studios.

Read the rest of this entry »

Cheering for a Run Disney Race

by on March 13, 2013

Last weekend I had the pleasure of cheering for some of my friends as they ran in the Royal Family 5k and the Princess Half Marathon. The mornings were early, but watching them achieve their running goals was totally worth it. I have cheered for other races at Disney World as well so I thought I’d take this week’s post to help out some of our readers who might be wondering how it all works.

You need to wake up really, really early. I got up at about 5:30 for the 5k race and 3:30 a.m. for the half marathon. Yup, that’s dedication and love. The races start early so they are over or mostly over before the parks open in the morning. If the runners are up and ready to go that early, the spectators must be too. I find the best way to make my way to the race site is to take the Disney provided bus from my resort. There are always “sponsored” resorts during Run Disney weekends and those provide buses to bring runners and spectators to the race site. I usually head out with my friends who are also running since the buses stop running shortly before the race begins. You can usually drive your own car and park, but you must do so early before they close the roads for the race. It is a good idea to check on the parking procedure for each race since you were not able to self park on site for the Expedition Everest Challenge last year.

Read the rest of this entry »