Archive for July, 2013

THE SATURDAY SIX: Top Six Signature Drinks at Universal Orlando Resort

by on July 27, 2013

Moe's DrinksThe Saturday Six is a weekly look at the most interesting, most fun, and sometimes even the most outrageous things within the theme park world that we all love so much. Whether it’s the top six attraction queues, the top six food options at Fast Food Blvd, or even the top six thrill rides at Universal, the Saturday Six will be your personal guide to experiencing the very best Orlando has to offer.

This week’s Saturday Six looks at the Top Six Signature Drinks at Universal. It’s hard to believe now, but signature drinks weren’t a big part of the theme park world until Universal unveiled its game changer, Butterbeer, in 2010. Sure, there have always been specialty drinks, but now a signature drink is almost expected for any new area or big E-Ticket attraction.

#6 – Flaming Moe at Moe’s Tavern

The expansion of Springfield USA in Universal Studios Florida brought with it a whole array of signature drinks, but the only one that can be considered an “experience” is the Flaming Moe. Using a custom made cup, a Flaming Moe is made with a combination of dry ice and orange soda. When served, the drink appears to be boiling hot, bubbling up like a witch’s cauldron and smoke coming off the top. It’s pretty impressive to watch:

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How to Relax at Disney World

by on July 26, 2013

On several occasions I’ve come home from a trip to Walt Disney World, looked at my husband and proclaimed, “I need a vacation!”

While I’m always happy to have a Disney visit, with all the walking in the heat, staying up late for Extra Magic Hours, and frantically trying to experience every attraction in the parks, I’m often more tired after my trip than before I started. It’s a great time, but it’s not really a true vacation.

Believe it or not, there is another way to do Disney. Let’s call it the Relaxing Way. With a Relaxing Way Disney trip, you come home rested and refreshed, ready to conquer the real world with renewed energy. Here are some tips to make the Relaxing Way a reality:

Fort Wilderness is the epicenter of Disney chill.

Fort Wilderness is the epicenter of Disney chill.

1. Choose Your Resort Wisely. While I have been to every Disney resort hotel many times, earlier this year I was on a research mission and visited ALL WDW hotels for several hours each during the course of one six-day period. This concentrated visit highlighted some of the resort intangibles in a way I hadn’t previously noticed. A few of the resorts just feel lazier (and I mean that in the best possible sense) than the others. My family usually stays at the Beach Club or Bay Lake Tower for quick park access. That’s great if you’re spending lots of time in the parks, but having that quick park access also makes me feel guilty if I don’t take advantage of it. (Epcot is RIGHT THERE, Goooo!) The deluxe resorts are lovely, but the tenants there are decidedly type-A. However, I felt absolutely no sense of urgency or stress among the guests at Old Key West and Fort Wilderness. Folks there were puttering around, riding bikes, fishing, playing catch, having a beer at the poolside bar, and just generally chilling like regular human beings on vacation. For a relaxing trip, it can help to surround yourself with people providing a good example of relaxation.

2. Choose the right time of year to visit. Sometimes schedules don’t allow the luxury of an off season Disney visit, but if you can possibly make it work, try planning your Disney trip for times like November before Thanksgiving or January after the marathon. The weather will be cooler, the crowds will be thinner, and the prices will be lower. Any one of those things can reduce your stress level, the trifecta is positively blissful.

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Limited Time Magic for Disneyland – The Monstrous Eye Scream Sundae Returns

by on July 26, 2013

mic118764SMALLMonstrous Summer is alive and well at Disneyland Resort in California, and back for another go around is the Monstrous Eye Scream Sundae. With two scoops of mint chocolate chip ice cream, hot fudge, whipped cream, cookie horns, a chocolate eye, and sprinkles, served in a waffle cone this is one treat you don’t want to miss out on!

Guests can pick up this delight at the Gibson Girl Ice Cream Parlor on Main Street of Disneyland or at Clarabelle’s Hand-Scooped Ice Cream Parlor on Buena Vista Street in Disney California Adventure.

Limited Time Magic for Walt Disney World – Return of the Monstrous Eye Scream Sundae and American Idol Live Celebrity Motorcade

by on July 26, 2013

It’s back!

Monstrous Summer is in full swing, so Walt Disney World is bringing back one of its popular treats from earlier in the year.

Head over to the Plaza Restaurant at the Magic Kingdom for a monstrous treat!  From July 29 – August 4, guests will be able to purchase a special eye scream delight.  Options include a parfait glass with either mint chocolate chip or vanilla-strawberry.  Or, for those would prefer to dine at the Plaza Ice Cream Parlor, try the version with two scoops of ice cream, drizzled with hot fudge, whipped cream, chocolate cookie horns, and a white chocolate lollipop.

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New Holiday Version of World of Color Announced for DCA

by on July 26, 2013

In keeping with Disney’s current “Christmas in July” Limited Time Magic promotion, Disneyland Resort made a surprise announcement today and revealed an all-new “Winter Dreams” version of the uber-popular World of Color nighttime show, coming exclusively to Disney California Adventure this holiday season.

The revamped show will debut on November 15, 2013, and is expected to run nightly through New Year’s 2014. The new show will be hosted by Olaf, a snowman character from the upcoming CGI animated film Frozen, and also feature winter-inspired elements from classic films like Bambi and Toy Story.

Check out the following video from Disney Imagineer Steve Davison for more details and concept art of the revamped show.

Walt Disney World Announces U.S. Military Discounts

by on July 25, 2013

To honor those who serve our country so bravely, Disney is offering special pricing for theme park tickets, as well as accommodations. This offer is good for active and retired U.S. military personnel (including active and retired members of the United States Coast Guard, National Guard and Reservists) or their spouses.

From August 12 – September 24, 2014, military personnel can purchase:

  • Disney 4-Day Military Promotional Tickets with Park Hopper Option for $169 each, plus tax
  • Disney 4-Day Military Promotional Tickets with Water Park Fun and More Option for $169 each, plus tax
  • Disney 4-Day Military Promotional Tickets with Park Hopper and Water Park Fun and More Options for $198 each, plus tax

Walt Disney World tickets can be used any time between September 29 – September 27, 2014. There are a few exceptions that include December 20 – 31, 2013; April 13 – 20, 2014, at all theme parks, as well as all water park locations; and July 4, 2014, at Magic Kingdom only.

In addition, there are special room discounts available for most nights from September 29 – September 27, 2014. Exceptions include except for November 28 – November 30, December 23-31, and April 14 – April 19, 2014.

Proper military ID is required. For more information click here.

Attending the D23 Expo 2013? Join us for a meet!

by on July 25, 2013

D23expologoD23 Expo is just a couple of weeks away! If you’re one of the thousands of Disney fans that will be at the Disneyland Resort during this amazing weekend, please join us for a meet at Flo’s V8 Cafe.

The meet will take place on Saturday, August 10, at 8:45 PM. Len Testa and Jim Hill will be on hand to meet and greet. Everyone in attendance will receive samples of food from Flo’s V8 Cafe! Also, we will be giving out free limited edition TouringPlans magnets! The meet will take place in the Flo’s V8 Cafe seating area facing Radiator Springs Racers. Look for Len and Guy in their cranberry-colored TouringPlans shirts.

If you plan on attending please RSVP on PlanCast.

See you there!


Disneyland Announces U.S. Military Discounts Through September 2014

by on July 25, 2013

Image copyright Disney

As a way of thanking the service members who defend the United States, Disneyland Resort has announced special military park ticket and hotel room pricing valid through September 27, 2014.

Disneyland’s military promotional 3-Day park hopper tickets are valid for 3 days of admission to both Anaheim parks, and are not valid during Christmas week, Easter week, or on the Fourth of July. Tickets purchased at authorized military sales outlets now through September 26, 2013, cost $125, and must be used by 9/28/2013; passes purchased 9/29/2013 through 9/25/2014 cost $129, and must be used by 9/27/2014.

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We’re Hiring Orlando-Area Writers!

by on July 24, 2013

This is your chance to get paid for visiting Disney World and writing about it.  We’re looking for people to blog about Disney World’s theme parks, restaurants, resorts and activities, in a concise, fact-based, way.  (A bit of wit would be great; we’ll accept wry insouciance too.)

Here’s what we’re after:

  • Three blog posts per week.  Any day of the week is fine.  Topics will be fact-based and should relate to Disney trip planning, including areas such as crowds, touring strategy, restaurant reviews, hotel reviews, and highlighting activities such as shopping, miniature golf and spas. The Disney Cruise Line is fair game, too – anything discussed in any of the Unofficial Guides is probably acceptable.  You’ll be responsible for developing blog ideas.  We’re not looking to publish personal stories.

Preference will be given to those with writing experience.  You should be at least 18, have valid Disney World theme park admission to start, as well as reliable transportation, a cell phone, a relatively recent camera (a cellphone camera may be fine), and enough time to do the writing.  Familiarity with a blogging platform such as WordPress is helpful but not necessary if you’re willing to learn quickly.  You should be able to work independently with minimal supervision.

Most blog posts pay between $10 and $25 each, depending on difficulty and length, plus expenses.  So if we ask you to review a restaurant or spa, we’ll pay for that, and then pay you for what you write.  Longer blog posts pay substantially more, including hourly compensation for research time.

Want to apply?  Send us an email with the items listed below, following the instructions to the letter.  Have questions? Send those to the same email address.


  • If you have previous writing experience, attach examples to your email as a separate attachment.  If it’s not obvious where or when the example was published, provide that information.
  • Send in two sample blog posts written in the Unofficial Guide style.  These sample posts can be about any topic you choose, but they should seem like they could run on  Don’t make up facts or figures – if you need data, get data.  In the immortal words of Waka Flocka Flame: keep it real.  (We won’t use these articles on the site, we just want to see how you write.)
  • A list of your 3 favorite attractions and 3 restaurants in Walt Disney World, and why.
  • A list of 3 Orlando-area restaurants – not in a theme park – that everyone should visit, and why.

About You

  • A few words about yourself.
  • The city you live in, and your contact information.
  • The amount of time you have available for blogging.  Be realistic.
  • Any other experience you have which may be relevant.
  • Any questions you have for us.

And Then

  • Send all of this in one email (with attachments) to jobsATtouringplansDOTcom.  Use the subject line “Orlando-Area Writer”.

We may not be able to respond personally to every email.


Submit Your Questions For Our New YouTube Series “Ask Jim Hill”

by on July 24, 2013


We are producing a new video series starring the one and only Jim Hill from and the Unofficial Guide Disney Dish Podcast! By now you should be familiar with our TouringPlans YouTube channel (if you’re not familiar, head over and subscribe to see new Disneyland and Walt Disney World videos posted several times a week!).

You can ask any questions about the Disney company, Disney theme parks, or Universal past, present, or future. Submit your questions now, and Jim may answer them on a future episode!

Email: or click this link to submit your questions!