Archive for October, 2013

DisneyQuest to Hold Halloween Party

by on October 28, 2013

For guests who are not able to get into the already sold out Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party at the Magic Kingdom for Halloween night, I have another option you may want to consider.

At DisneyQuest Indoor Interactive Theme Park, found at Downtown Disney West Side, a ghoulish good time is expected during a special Halloween Party that will take place from 6 p.m. – 11 p.m. on Halloween.

Guests will be able to enjoy the DisneyQuest games and attractions plus food, two DJ dance parties, trick or treating, games, costume contests, Disney character greetings, Halloween photo backdrops, and even more family fun!

The cost for advance tickets is $45 for ages 3 & up in advance or $54 for day-of-event tickets. Tickets can be purchased by calling 407-W-DISNEY or by visiting the DisneyQuest box office.

For more information about the party, click here.

Visiting Walt Disney World During Thanksgiving

by on October 28, 2013

Thanksgiving is fast approaching and those folks visiting Walt Disney World during the holiday will experience some of the highest attended days all year. As a local, I normally steer clear of the parks when they are at their busiest but I’ve certainly had my share of Thanksgiving Dinners in the parks! With that in mind I wanted to share the benefit of my experience with those brave souls that will be heading out to the parks this holiday season.

IMG_3746There will be lines

It’s important to go into the day with the understanding that the crowds will become unavoidable at some point. Though you can avoid most of the pain by following a Touring Plan, there unfortunately isn’t a FASTPASS for the restroom! It may sound unreal, but ladies should plan on up to a 30 minute wait for facilities during the busy afternoon and evening leading up to the fireworks. Another unexpected location for lines can be counter service restaurants. Even during the non-peak times of day, lines can snake outside the building. That might be understandable for a meal, but that is difficult when you might just be looking for a drink for a thirsty child. I recommend on these very crowded days to bring a water bottle and some snacks in a backpack. The last huge holiday we attended in the park was the Fourth of July. We were prepared with everything we needed to stay in the park, so the restroom was the only line we couldn’t avoid. Doing this made our day much more enjoyable!

See backstage!

During the busiest days of the year, most parks will open up backstage areas and cast walkways to help the swelling crowd move throughout the park. While this might not be something the average guest would even notice, it’s pretty exciting for Disney geeks like me! When else can you see behind the scenes at the most magical place on Earth without paying a tour fee?

Don’t settle for a burger

If you will be spending your holiday at Walt Disney World, then why not celebrate with a proper Thanksgiving feast with all the fixins? Several restaurants in the parks and resorts will have special menus for Thanksgiving. For full details you can call 407-WDW-DINE. My most recent Thanksgiving meal was at The Liberty Tree Tavern, and it was excellent! If you are planning to spend a full day in the parks, a sit down lunch can be a great break in the middle of the day, plus you can avoid the lines at counter service locations. Overall, a nice lunch in the middle of the day is certainly something to be thankful for this year!

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Disney Magic First Impressions

by on October 27, 2013

Magic Splash Area On Sunday, October 27, we were lucky enough to set sail on the Disney Magic’s first full-length cruise after a six-week refurbishment in Spain and journey across the Atlantic as the ship headed back to its home port of Miami. The ship’s first post-dry dock voyage was originally scheduled a week prior, but guests were given notice three days before its sailing date that the ship was not going to be ready and that cruise was cancelled. The first official sailing then became a two-night “cruise to nowhere” that left Miami on October 25. Disney Cruise Line was still putting the finishing touches on the ship as it headed out, and maintenance issues – particularly with plumbing – were evident. So far, on this second sailing open to the public, we have not experienced any problems, though the captain did mention in his greeting to guests that parts of the ship are still being finished.

Disney had an ambitious schedule for the time the Magic was offline for improvements. The AquaDunk, a short, steep water slide, was added to the pool deck (the AquaDuck, found on the Dream and Fantasy, could not be added due to the smaller size of the Magic). The AquaLab splash area was also built in by the kids’ pool, though it is not as large or complex as the area of the same name on the larger ships. While we haven’t experienced the AquaDunk yet, our first of impression is that the ride is very brief. Lines did not seem to build up the way they do for the AquaDuck, though tomorrow’s sea day will be the true test of that.

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Classic Disney Souvenir: The Cut Paper Silhouette

by on October 27, 2013

One of favorite Disney souvenirs has absolutely nothing to do with Mickey, Minnie, or any other Disney character. It’s all about my kids and their beautiful faces (just one mom’s opinion :-)) captured in a moment of stillness. Of course I’m talking about the Cut Paper Silhouette. These miniature works of art are created on the spot, right at Walt Disney World. They’re a unique instant heirloom, and as an added bonus they’re sold at a very reasonable price point. Here’s what you need to know:

Having a silhouette portrait cut on Main Street in the Magic Kingdom.

Having a silhouette portrait cut on Main Street in the Magic Kingdom.

What exactly is a Cut Paper Silhouette?

Pretty much what it sounds like. You pose for an artist who cuts a portrait of your profile from plain black paper, resulting in a shadow-like image.

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Increases In Legacy FASTPASS Distribution Rates

by on October 26, 2013

According to reports from our staff in the parks and our collection of return times, Walt Disney World legacy FASTPASS (the paper tickets) distribution rates have drastically increased for some attractions.

Historically, on an average day at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, the rate of FASTPASS distribution will be around 3:1. That is, for every 1 minute of time that passes, the FASTPASS return time will increment by 3 minutes. On a busy day, that ratio will increase to about 6.5:1. Recently, we have seen distribution rates that far exceed those on even the busiest historical days. We are examining the distribution rates and considering alterations to our predictions of FASTPASS return rates in our optimizer. We hope to have some results to report soon.

In the meantime, when you are in the parks, make sure to click “Optimize” on your Touring Plan in the Lines app. During the day, if the rates are higher than predicted, the optimizer will adjust accordingly.

Incidentally, we have seen this before, way back in October 2010. Check out this blog post from the archives. As it was then, this may be a temporary phenomenon.

38th Annual Festival of the Masters To Take Place At Downtown Disney in Walt Disney World

by on October 25, 2013

©Disney

©Disney

The Festival of the Masters, presented by Michaels, is an open-air fine arts festival that takes place throughout Downtown Disney in Florida. This year’s festival, which takes place from November 8-10, marks its 38th year.

This fantastic showcase of more than 300 talented artists will feature many different types of art pieces. These will include paintings, photography, sculpting pieces, chalk art, blown glass, jewelry, and more.

Guests will also want to take in the Disney Artist Village, which will see official Disney art for sale, as well as meet and greet opportunities with more than 25 of these talented visionaries. In addition, performances will take place at the Waterside Stage found on the Marketplace side, where artists will perform live shows, as well as hold interactive chats.

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This Week On TouringPlans YouTube Channel: Everest, Omnibuses, Seafood Crepes, and More!

by on October 25, 2013

Every Friday on the TouringPlans Blog we bring you the week’s newest videos from our YouTube channel. Let’s get started!

Can’t be in Walt Disney World today? Take a ride, via video, on Expedition Everest at Disney’s Animal Kingdom!

On this week’s Ask Jim Hill, Jim Hill and Len Testa discuss the changes to Universal Orlando’s The Amazing Spider-Man attraction. Jim also answers a viewer question about Ryan’s kilt from High School Musical.

More videos after the jump.

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Limited Time Magic For October 28 – November 3

by on October 25, 2013

©Disney

©Disney

With Halloween this week, it’s time to get in the ghostly spirit. This week’s Limited Time Magic does just that.

At Walt Disney World from October 28 – November 1, guests will be able to have an eerie time at The Happy Haunted Horseshoe in Frontierland at the Magic Kingdom. (Otherwise known throughout the rest of the year as The Diamond Horseshoe.) The hall has been redecorated for the holiday in a spooktacular manner.

From 11 am – 3 pm, guests are invited to join hostess Miss Betty Blue, as she presents some hauntingly good entertainment including the barbershop quartet, The Cadaver Dans, the piano playing Dearly Departed Stan, and magician Abner Cadaver. Guests will be able to grab a Halloween inspired treat, including a special cupcake.

Over at Disneyland, The Cadaver Dans will be sharing their terrorific tunes in front of The Haunted Mansion in New Orleans Square. Performances will take place from October 28 – November 3. Check a Times Guide for exact show times.

This will be a frightfully good experience. Just make sure that one of these ghouls doesn’t follow you home.

Morning Menace: Halloween Horror Nights 23 Unmasking the Horror Review (La Llorona, The Walking Dead, and The Cabin in the Woods)

by on October 25, 2013

As a big fan of Universal’s Halloween Horror Nights event, I knew after going in 2012 that I wanted to take a lights on tour of the houses as part of the Unmasking the Horror VIP tours. This year Universal broke up their tours into two sessions. The Morning Menace tour started at 10:30AM while the Afternoon Abominations tour started at 2:00PM. Each tour cost $59.99 per person-per tour, or $99.99 if you did both tours. Myself, Brandon Glover from the Universal NOW! podcast, and friend of the show Zeus Navarro signed up for both sessions.

To start the day we were directed to check in “promptly” at 10:00AM at the VIP check in lobby located next to the guest services windows at the front of Universal Studios Florida (USF). We were checking out the Royal Pacific Resort that morning and ended up running a little late, arriving at about 10:20. There was an interesting directory outside the main door with some great tributes to the history of Universal including Lew Wasserman (who has a statue in the New York section of the park and was a key figure in getting USF built) and “Leonidas Chaney,” who we know better as Lon Chaney and one of the most iconic horror movie actors of all time.

uni1

Sign outside VIP check in at Universal Studios Florida

(Remember you can click on any picture to see the full size version of it.)

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Disney Cruise Line Coverage Now On TouringPlans.com

by on October 25, 2013

Disney Cruise Line's Helmsman Mickey Statue on the Disney MagicToday we’re launching coverage of the Disney Cruise Line!

It’s more than 300 pages and 400 photos – the largest expansion ever to TouringPlans.com. You’ll find detailed reviews of every ship, port, show, restaurant, bar, and activity on-board, plus itinerary, port, and Port Adventure details.

Our Coverage Includes

  • A new Fare Tracker shows you the daily price of every cruise on every ship for every stateroom category. See whether you’ll save money by booking now or waiting, and see how Disney priced the same cruise last year.
  • Complete coverage of Castaway Cay, Disney’s private island, including reviews of every Port Adventure activity, what to pack for your day, food and bar reviews, and more.

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