Archive for March, 2014

Off-site Guests Will Have Access to FastPass+ Starting March 31

by on March 28, 2014

©Disney

©Disney

Beginning March 31, guests who are not staying at a Walt Disney World Resort will be able to make FastPass+ reservations up to 30 days in advance. Day guests will be able to accomplish this by logging in to their My Disney Experience account via the app or via the website.

In order to have the ability to schedule advance FastPass+ reservations, off-site guests must first link their single or multi-day tickets into their My Disney Experience account.  Off-site guests will no longer be forced to make reservations on the day of their visit via the in-park kiosks.

If off-site guests would like, they will eventually be able to purchase MagicBands. The cost is said to be $12.95, plus tax, per band. Keep in mind that MagicBands are not required; day guests will still have the ability to use their RFID-enabled ticket media, if they prefer.

Those guests staying at a Walt Disney World Resort hotel will still be able to make FastPass+ reservations up to 60 days out. This means that guests staying on-site will still have a bit of an advantage. Annual Passholders will also be able to make FastPass+ reservations up to 30 days in advance.

FastPass+ kiosks will still be available in the parks for guests who wish to use them.

10 Reasons Every Disney Fan Should Try a Disney Cruise

by on March 28, 2014

A couple of years ago, I wrote a blog post on why every Walt Disney World fan should visit Disneyland. Well, now it’s time for Disney fans to expand your vacation options again! If you haven’t yet, it’s a great time to try Disney Cruise Line.  The 2015 itineraries were just released, and there are some great options out there. The prices are high, but you may still want to consider it. Especially if you are a Disney fan! And here are 10 reasons why…

1. Disney Difference – Disney has always been known for their service. Their goal isn’t just to meet your expectations, it’s to exceed them. If you’re a Disney fan, you have probably been impressed by their customer service at some point during one of your park visits. Well, if you haven’t been on a Disney cruise, you ain’t seen nothing yet. I kid you not, the service will blow you away. You aren’t just ushered onboard the ship, you’re announced to an atrium full of guests and a cheering group of ship’s officers. And that’s just the beginning. When you walk down the halls, stateroom hosts who are not cleaning your room and will never see a gratuity from you, will greet you warmly and ask how you are. Maintenance men will stop working on their project to smile and say, “Hi,” when you pass. You’ll probably fall in love with your servers in the dining room and beg for them to come home with you after you disembark. Service on a Disney cruise is top notch. Truly.

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Walt Disney World Resorts Newsworthy Notes – 3/27/14

by on March 27, 2014

There are a few small newsworthy items occurring at the Walt Disney World Resort hotels that I thought you should know:

  • A brand new experience will be testing at the Atlantic Dance Hall found on the boardwalk area at Disney’s BoardWalk Inn. Guests are invited to rock out at the “Tom Casey’s Let’s Get Rockin'” interactive band experience. The party gets started every Thursday night, starting at 9:00 p.m. Here, guests will have the opportunity to get up on stage and sing karaoke style or play an instrument, both with a live band. It’s like The American Idol Experience on steroids! Guests can choose from over 400 songs to play or sing, from all genres. There is a $5 cover charge per person. For more information, visit their website.
  • Over at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort, guests are invited to enjoy the 3rd annual Easter egg display in the lobby of the hotel. These eggs are gorgeous works of art. Best of all, they are all edible. These enormous eggs are all created with modeling chocolate, fondant, sculpted sugar and royal icing. Each egg will depict a different Disney story, like Tangled or The Little Mermaid. Guests will be able to view all 18 eggs from April 4-22.

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An Hour-by-Hour Look at Disney Park Crowd Levels

by on March 27, 2014

When touring a Disney theme park, two good ideas are to arrive early and take a mid-day break outside of the theme parks. Even on crowded days, arriving early means that you’ll have relatively low waits for a couple of hours, because most people sleep in on vacation. And a mid-day break means you’ll miss the hottest, most crowded part of the day.

To make this point visually, we’ve created a set of sample charts showing how the crowds build during the day, for sample days at Animal Kingdom, Hollywood Studios, and Magic Kingdom.

If you move your mouse over each box, you will see the hourly crowd value. For reference, the daily park crowd level is listed on the right of the charts.

The April chart for Animal Kingdom show the expected crowd for Easter week:

Animal Kingdom April 2014

AK 4-2014

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New York Disney Walk-and-Talk Events with Jim Hill Announced

by on March 27, 2014

You live somewhere up north. You listen to our Unofficial Guide Disney Dish podcast with Jim Hill during your daily commute. And sometimes while you’re listening, on the subway, the bus, or all alone in your car, you find yourself talking back to Jim, as if he were there, while everyone around slowly inches away from you. Who hasn’t done that?

Now’s your chance to talk back in person, because our friend Jim Hill is doing two small-group, walk-and-talk events in and around New York City starting next month.

On Saturday, April 26, Jim will be talking about Disney at the 1964 World’s Fair. You’ll head out to Flushing Meadows the site of the fair, and hear Jim recount how Disney conceived, built, and delivered 4 attractions to the fair, including prototypes of “it’s a small world,” Hall of Presidents, Carousel of Progress, and the PeopleMover, among other topics. Start time is 11:30 AM, and the rain date is Sunday, April 27.

On Saturday, May 17, Jim takes to Manhattan to recount the history of Disney on Broadway and Disney in Times Square. The event starts in Times Square and ends at the Disney Store for some shopping, where Jim will also be talking about the store’s creation and design. Start time is still TBD, but will most likely be around 11:30 AM. Rain date is May 18.

The folks at ETC Custom Events are running these programs. Cost is around $50 per person for one, $95 for both. That covers subway transportation, specially-designed snacks, a small souvenir, and all-out access to Jim. So everyone has enough time to talk to Jim, tour space is extremely limited. Email ETC Custom Events for more information.

 

Disney World Ticket Type Primer

by on March 27, 2014

First time visitors to Walt Disney World are often overwhelmed by the number and variety of ticket options. Here’s a run-down of what’s available so that you can make the best choice for your family’s needs.

One Day Admission: Magic Kingdom Park

What is this?: A one-day pass into the Magic Kingdom park. You can enter and leave the MK as often as you like during that day.

Why would I need this?: You want to visit just the Magic Kingdom and you’re only in the area for one day.

One Day Admission: Epcot, Animal Kingdom or Disney’s Hollywood Studios

What is this?: A one-day pass into either Epcot, Disney’s Animal Kingdom, or Disney’s Hollywood Studios. You can enter and leave your one chosen park as often as you like during that day. This ticket is priced slightly lower than the Magic Kingdom one day admission.

Why would I need this?: You want to visit just one of Epcot, Animal Kingdom or Disney’s Hollywood Studios and you’re only in the area for one day.

Things to know: The pricing for a one day Epcot, Animal Kingdom, or DHS ticket is slightly lower than the pricing for a one day MK ticket.

Multi-Day “Magic Your Way” Base Ticket

What is this?: Multi-day admission to any of Disney’s four theme parks (Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Animal Kingdom, Disney’s Hollywood Studios). You can visit only one of these four parks each day, but can enter and leave that park as often as you like.

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Star Wars Character Meals to Take Place at Disney’s Hollywood Studios During Star Wars Weekends

by on March 26, 2014

©Disney

©Disney

Are you a fan of Star Wars and character meals? Well, if you are, for the first time ever, select Star Wars characters will take part in not one, but two, different character meal opportunities at Disney’s Hollywood Studios from May 4 to June 15.

Guests will be able to partake in either a breakfast option that will be available at Sci-Fi Dine In Theater or a dinner option that will be available at Hollywood & Vine.

The best news is that these character meals won’t just take place during Star Wars Weekends. Instead, they are scheduled to occur throughout the whole week!

Here’s a look at your options:

The Jedi Mickey’s Star Wars Dine

Takes place at Hollywood and Vine for dinner. This meal will have guests meeting Disney characters dressed as their favorite Star Wars character. Guests will get to meet Jedi Mickey, Princess Leia Minnie, Darth Goofy, Stormtrooper Donald, and Ewoks Chip & Dale. Dinner starts at 4:15pm and lasts until park close. The prices are $55.99 for adults ages 10 and up (or $59.99 with Fantasmic! Dinner Package), and $33.99 for children ages 3-9 (or $36.99 with Fantasmic! Dinner Package). Guests will receive a digital download copy of their photograph with Chip and Dale.

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Epcot Observations: March 23, 2014

by on March 26, 2014

Despite the overcast skies, Sunday, March 23, was a beautiful day to visit Epcot. But it wasn’t the first park I tried that day. At 8:30am I was rolling up to the parking plaza for Magic Kingdom, but it looked more like a parking lot. The crowds were unreal, with bumper to bumper traffic several lanes deep. I chose to stay in the left lane and head straight for the exit with my fingers crossed crowds would be more manageable at Epcot. Luckily, they were, and I have lots of fun to share! For starters, check out these flower beds!

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But, I’m getting ahead of myself! I took several photos of the deep lines at bag check and entrance gates. I’m guessing those aren’t as fun to look at as the topiaries at the park entrance. Sorry for the odd angle, but this was just mobbed with folks taking photos! (Don’t worry – there are lots more coming!)

2

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Disney Cruise Line Releases Summer 2015 Itineraries

by on March 25, 2014

Sound the horns! Disney Cruise Line has released itinerary information through August 2015. There are some exciting additions to the usual repertoire of DCL sailings – here’s what you need to know.

Disney Magic

Every part of Disney is Frozen.

Every part of Disney is Frozen.

The Frozen juggernaut has now made its way into Disney Cruise Line. For the first time in forever, Disney Cruise will be visiting the fjord region of Norway, with additional stops in Iceland and the Faroe Islands. These stops are part of 7, 9, and 11 night sailings departing from Copenhagen, Denmark.

Additional Northern European ports including Tallinn, Estonia; St. Petersburg, Russia; Helsinki, Finland; and Stockholm, Sweden are part of a 7-night sailing from Copenhagen. A 12-night sailing from Dover, England adds Warnemunde (Berlin), Germany to the port itinerary.

At the beginning of the summer, the Magic will make a long 15-night Eastbound Transatlantic (EBTA) journey from Port Canaveral to Copenhagen, with stops in New York City, St. John’s Newfoundland, and Reykjavik, Iceland along the way. Personally, I had been hoping for a New York/Canada loop as had happened in 2013, but this is only part of the EBTA.

Toward the middle of the summer, the Magic changes course for usual Southern European home. This starts with a 7-night repositioning sailing leaving from Dover and stopping in Gibraltar, Lisbon, and Vigo, Spain on the way to her traditional summer home in Barcelona.

August will see the Magic sailing familiar routes from Barcelona, with a 5 night voyage stopping in Villefranche, France; La Spezia (Florence) and Civitavecchia (Rome), Italy; and three 7-night voyages which add a stop in Naples, Italy.

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FastPass+ Tips for Annual Pass Vouchers and Frozen Meet and Greet

by on March 25, 2014

As I’ve detailed in my recent blog posts, navigating Walt Disney World now that FastPass+ has fully rolled out for Annual Passholders is a whole new adventure that seems to evolve on a daily basis. Here are some updated FastPass+ tips on two of the hottest topics among users of My Disney Experience and the associated MyMagic+ programs: Annual Pass vouchers and the new Frozen meet and greet.

FastPass+ Tips for Annual Pass Vouchers

New FastPass+ tips for Annual Pass vouchers and Frozen meet and greet (photos by Seth Kubersky)

New FastPass+ tips for Annual Pass vouchers and Frozen meet and greet (photos by Seth Kubersky)

One of the most frequently asked questions in the comments to my recent blog posts has been if Annual Pass vouchers that have not yet been activated can be tied to a My Disney Experience account for FastPass+ access. This is important to guests who wish to purchase an annual pass in advance of their visit to make FastPass+ reservations without having the 365-day timer on their ticket start ticking until their arrival. Multiple readers have reported inputing their voucher number as a linked admission pass in My Disney Experience, and being unsuccessful in attempts to then make FastPass+ reservations.

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