Archive for May, 2015

A First Look at the 2015 Epcot Food and Wine Festival

by on May 28, 2015

©Disney

©Disney

Is fall your favorite time to visit Walt Disney World? It is mine! Part of the reason is the Halloween festivities, but the other part is the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival, and this year is slated to be bigger than ever because it’s the 20th anniversary! The festival, which is famous for offering delicious small bites, tantalizing beverages, educational seminars, a concert series, signature dinners, tasting events, and celebrity chefs, will take place this year from September 25 through November 16 and will once again be sponsored by Chase.

To help celebrate the 20th year of the extremely popular event, there will be new wine tastings, rockin’ parties, and culinary experiences built around the 20-year milestone. Oh, and this year, Chef Remy from Ratatouille will invite guests to join a culinary scavenger hunt. How fun!

Read the rest of this entry »

Seth Kubersky’s Best Week Ever: 24-Hour Day at Magic Kingdom

by on May 28, 2015

Seth Kubersky's Best Week Ever Magic Kingdom 24 Hour Day

For his first Best Week Ever, Seth explores 24 Hour Day at WDW’s Magic Kingdom (photos by Seth Kubersky)

Welcome to the inaugural edition of Seth Kubersky’s Best Week Ever! Last week, we bid a fond farewell to Daisy Lauren, who filed her final Best Week Ever column before leaving the series in my semi-capable hands. Daisy leaves some pretty big shoes to fill, but I’ll do my best to continue in her style of upbeat observations from around Walt Disney World, Universal Orlando, and other area attractions.

What better way to kick off my first Best Week Ever than with Walt Disney World’s biggest event of year? Of course, I’m talking about the 24 Hour Day party at the Magic Kingdom, which served as the kickoff for Disney’s “Coolest Summer Ever” campaign. I’ve been attending WDW’s 24-hour parties ever since the very first one on Leap Day 2012, and they are always an amazing (if exhausting) experience.

This year, I was tied up for most of May with the Orlando International Fringe Theatre Festival (a must-see extravaganza for anyone interested in the arts), so 24-Hour Day marked my first opportunity to visit the Magic Kingdom in many weeks. After several years’ experience, I’ve learned that the most interesting part of the all-nighter is after midnight, which is precisely when I pulled into the TTC parking lot.

Luckily, a powerful rainstorm had pushed through the resort less than an hour before my arrival, resulting in an exodus of soggy guests. That allowed me to snag a parking spot practically underneath the monorail track, within an easy walk of the monorail station.

As I approached the TTC, I noticed a substantial queue of people waiting to purchase tickets. Pro tip: you always want to buy your park admission before arriving, especially during a special event when every minute counts!

Read the rest of this entry »

The Epcot That Never Was

by on May 28, 2015

(c) Walt Disney Company

Model of EPCOT, (c) Walt Disney Company

Epcot is one of my favorite parks at Walt Disney World. I never get tired of seeing Spaceship Earth, or watching the dancing Fountain of Nations in Future World, or doing a little shopping in World Showcase; but what I’ve recently discovered is that the Epcot that I know isn’t exactly what Walt Disney had in mind when planning Disney World. You see, back in the 1960s when Disney World was being planned, the Magic Kingdom wasn’t what Walt was most excited about. In fact, when Walt introduced television viewers to his plans for Florida, he said that EPCOT would be the “heart of everything we will be doing at Disney World.” Walt also said that it wouldn’t be a park at all, but rather a community of the future where you could live! So what was the Epcot supposed to be like? What happened along the way? Well, keep reading because for today, I’m here to tell you all about The Epcot That Never Was.

Walt’s Original Vision for EPCOT

One of Walt’s many interests was city planning and finding solutions to the everyday problems of the cities of the day, such as traffic, slums, pollution, and crowded conditions. He had learned a lot about planning, building, and construction when creating Disneyland, and he now felt that he could provide some solutions to the problems he saw in the real world in the form of a working community called EPCOT.

EPCOT stood for Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow, and it would be an example to the country and the world for how to build and run better cities. It would also serve as a sort of testing ground for new technology, products, materials, and ideas from America’s industries and corporations that would serve to improve our lives.

EPCOT wasn’t just some idea or possible plan for the distant future of Disney World. Walt fully intended to build it, had many plans and diagrams, and intended it to be the focus of his Disney World on the East Coast where 20,000 residents would live and work. Pretty cool, huh?

Read the rest of this entry »

New Raptor Encounter Now Open at Islands of Adventure’s Jurassic Park

by on May 27, 2015

New Raptor Encounter Islands of Adventure Jurassic Park

Take a dino selfie at the new Raptor Encounter in Islands of Adventure’s Jurassic Park (photos and video by Seth Kubersky)

While Disney was loudly kicking off their Coolest Summer Ever promotion with bicoastal 24 Hour parties, Universal Orlando quietly opened a new attraction over Memorial Day weekend with little fanfare, as the new Raptor Encounter debuted in the Jurassic Park area of Islands of Adventure. Conventional wisdom says that, while Universal makes excellent thrill rides, Disney dominates the meet and greet experience. But much like the Transformers meet and greet in Universal Studios Florida, this innovative dinosaur photo op flips that expectation upside down.

The new Raptor Encounter is located outside of the Jurassic Park Discovery Center, in an unused area that was formerly the entrance to Triceratops Trail, a long-defunct walkthrough attraction. Guests approach a fenced-in holding pen that has been built to contain a live velociraptor, who has been trained just well enough to pose briefly for photographs between snaps and screeches.

Read the rest of this entry »

New Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party Show to Debut this Year

by on May 27, 2015

©Disney

©Disney

If you love Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party, you’ll have one new thing to experience at this year’s event and I have to tell you, I’m super excited for this one.

The Hocus Pocus Villain Spelltacular will bring the fantastically evil Sanderson Sisters (from that favorite cult Halloween favorite, Hocus Pocus) to the Castle stage where they will run amuck (amuck, amuck) at this fun party.

With the help of the Disney villains, the three sisters, Winifred, Mary, and Sarah will conjure the ultimate Hocus Pocus Party Potion and “cast a spell on you.” The show will also feature appearances by Dr. Facilier, Oogie Boogie, Maleficent, as well as other favorite baddies. To round things out there will be dancers, projections, and special effects. The show will be replacing the Villains Mix and Mingle.

The whole stage show sounds like a blast. I’ve got my vintage Madonna costume ready because I’m ready for this sisters to perform their magic on me.

Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party takes place on select nights at the Magic Kingdom, September 15 through November 1.

Tips For Avoiding Traveler’s Tummy on Your Disney Cruise

by on May 27, 2015

How to Avoid an Upset Stomach on your Next CruiseYou’re on a different schedule, eating richer (and more) food than usual — it’s going to hit you sooner or later. I’ll call it “traveler’s tummy.” It can take the form of bloating, upset stomach, or just feeling queasy. You may not be able to avoid it entirely, but there are definitely some things you can do to head it off. Following these tips can make a big difference in your enjoyment during your Disney cruise.

The first thing to know is that there’s a difference between garden variety upset stomach and genuine gastric distress, which could be a sign of a virus. If your symptoms are severe, do yourself, the crew, and your fellow passengers a solid and check in with the ship’s medical staff. Yes, they take these things very seriously. And, yes, there’s a high likelihood you’ll be quarantined, but that’s for another article.

Read the rest of this entry »

Universal Crowd Calendar Report – May 17 to 23, 2015

by on May 27, 2015

At the beginning and end of last week wait times at Universal Parks were lower than the Universal Crowd Calendar predicted but between Wednesday and Friday the predictions did quite well. We saw crowd levels stay at a level ‘6’ or lower all week.

Let’s look at how the crowd levels stacked up each day last week on the TouringPlans.com Universal Orlando Resort Crowd Report:

Read the rest of this entry »

Disney World Crowd Calendar Report – May 17 to 23, 2015

by on May 27, 2015

Last Saturday (the Saturday before Memorial Day) was much busier than usual but crowd levels between Sunday and Friday were very close to what was predicted by the Disney World Crowd Calendar. Resort-wide crowd levels stayed at a ‘5’ or lower for four out of the seven days last week with wait times rising drastically heading into the weekend. Friday’s 24-Hour Event at Magic Kingdom was very busy and although crowds were extreme at some points during the event the park hit a level ‘8’ on our scale (which is based on average wait times at core attractions between 10am and 5pm).

Let’s look at how the crowd levels stacked up each day last week on the Touringplans.com Disney World Crowd Calendar Report:

Read the rest of this entry »

Disneyland Crowd Calendar Report – May 17 to 23, 2015

by on May 27, 2015

The Disneyland Crowd Calendar predictions did great last week, missing only one day (Tuesday) on the resort-wide index. We saw average wait times in the upper half of our scale all week with no day dipping below a level ‘5’. Crowds on Friday’s 24-Hour Event were extreme but based on the definition of our crowd level index (average wait for core attractions between 10am and 5pm) the park level’s stayed below ’10’. It appears that the blue line indicating what we predicted on our Disneyland Overall Crowd Level Chart is missing the second half of the week. That is because the predictions are hidden behind the red line indicating what we actually observed.

Let’s look at how the crowd levels stacked up each day last week on the TouringPlans.com Disneyland Resort Crowd Report:

Read the rest of this entry »

10 Tips for Disney Cruisers Heading to Europe

by on May 27, 2015

Did you hear Disney Cruise Line is sailing to Europe again this summer and next? Are you one of the lucky cruisers headed there? The Disney Magic has begun its voyage across the pond, so I thought it might be a good time to post some tips specifically for those meeting her there. If you are currently on the Magic, I’m afraid this is too late and I must apologize to you. I’m sure these were the exact 10 tips that would have completed your planning and I have failed you. For everyone else – 10 tips for your trip to Europe for a Disney cruise!

1. Packing Tips – Unless you are flying Southwest or carry certain credit cards, checking bags stateside has become expensive. How many of us try to cram everything we own into a carry on to avoid baggage fees these days? Well good news: when flying internationally almost all airlines will allow you to check one bag…phew! Checking two, however, will be quite expensive, so stick to one! Plan to do laundry onboard and pack as light as you can. While packing, you do need to be aware of dress codes in the places you plan to visit. The Vatican, for example, does not allow visitors to wear shorts or sleeveless shirts, so make sure you have appropriate clothes. You should also be aware that lost luggage is a more common problem when traveling internationally. When you’re packing, spread each family member’s clothing across more than one bag. That way if one of your four suitcases is lost, little Sally still has some clothes in other bags and isn’t stuck with what was in her carry on for the entire cruise. As you can imagine, if your luggage is still in transit when your ship is leaving, it’s going to be pretty hard for it to catch up with you.

2. International Flight Tips – At first thought, spending eight hours on a flight sounds awful. In reality it’s not as bad as you think. On flights of that length there will be complimentary meals served, which is pretty much unheard of on stateside flights these days. I recently sat next to a gentleman from Norway on a 5 ½ hour flight across the US and he was shocked that we needed to pay for something to eat on that long of a flight. On international flights on almost every airline you will be served one, or even two, meals. Many flights will also pass out toothbrushes and toothpaste for you to use at your leisure. I can’t even tell you how wonderful brushing your teeth feels after eating and sleeping and sleeping and eating again. There will also be movies to watch to pass the time, usually with several to choose from. That long of a flight can still be a challenge for little ones, so be prepared with whatever you can to keep the little ones comfortable and entertained.

Read the rest of this entry »