Archive for September, 2015

How We Evaluate Our Crowd Calendar

by on September 28, 2015

Over the past six years, we have collected over 7 million wait times. Thank you to all the Lines users that have contributed to that monumental statistic.

Besides using a day’s wait time data to predict future wait times and crowd levels, we also use a day’s data to validate our predictions for that day. And we’re the only crowd calendar to show you how our predictions worked for each day. In this blog post, I will explain how we calculate the “predicted” and “observed” wait times and crowd levels for our calendar.

First, let’s cover the methodology we use to convert wait times to crowd levels. Our crowd levels are based on Disney’s posted wait times at specific attractions, between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. Crowds at Disney parks are usually largest between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m., so that’s the best time to get a consistent view of their size. Also, every park is open between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. every day of the year, so it’s a consistent measure.

The attractions we choose are among the parks’ most popular, and most are able to handle large crowds. Because they’re popular, it’s a good bet that high wait times mean high crowds, and low wait times mean low crowds. For example, if we see a 15-minute wait at Space Mountain at noon, it probably means that crowds are low, not that Space Mountain suddenly became less popular.

Just like the crowd calendar’s 1-to-10 scale, we score each attraction’s daily crowds on a scale of 1 to 10. After the attractions are scored, those values are combined to make the park and resort crowd levels.

Now let’s look at an example:

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Vegan? At Narcoossee’s?

by on September 28, 2015

Narcoossees (5)Eating vegan and vegetarian at Walt Disney World has certainly gotten easier over the last ten years. For goodness sake, you can get Gardein mock chicken at Coral Reef, and Tofutti ice cream is available pretty much everywhere for dessert lately.

Back in my day, we were lucky to be served pasta with a tomato sauce that wasn’t a meat sauce, or grilled vegetables that hadn’t been sautéed in butter. That’s what they call progress, dears. I used to pack a small suitcase full of snacks so I wouldn’t want to gnaw my arm off during a five night trip, and now vegans actually have choices, and they’re usually really good!

I find, though, despite more and more vegan offerings popping up throughout property, many of us still stick to the same restaurants. I don’t know about the rest of you, but I have this weird fear of missing an opportunity for good food. Sometimes I almost prefer not having more than one option on the menu because having an actual choice will result in a 15 minute long internal debate about which item I should choose. It often sounds a little like this: “…but this one has mushrooms, I love mushrooms” “yeah, but this one is cooked in a fancy-sounding sauce” “but mushrooms!” “but fancy sauce!” …and it just doesn’t stop. So, when I find something good, I often stick with it.

As many Disney-visiting vegans will tell you, sticking with it means visiting the same mainstays on each trip, most often, Sanaa, Jiko, Boma, Kona Cafe, and the aforementioned Coral Reef. When I have the occasion to visit a restaurant at Walt Disney World, it’s usually one of those. Usually, until this past weekend when I found myself with a reservation at Narcoosse’s for the first time ever.

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A Look at the Epcot Food and Wine Festival Merchandise

by on September 27, 2015

After braving the outlets, I found myself once again shopping this week–but this time looking at what is offered at the 2015 Epcot International Food and Wine Festival. With this being the 20th anniversary of Food and Wine, I had some high hopes that the merchandise would be worth purchasing.

First things first, while the Festival Center is the place that has the most merchandise available, it is not the only location to purchase festival goods. In the area between Future World and World Showcase, every store sells some Food and Wine merchandise. Even items like the Dooney and Bourke bags are available for sale in Mouse Gear. So if you find that the Festival Center lines are long, you have many other options.

Glassware and Plates

It is no surprise that Food and Wine has a lot of items for the kitchen. Among the most popular are the Tervis cup that looks like it has a wineglass inside, the trash can-design salt and pepper shakers, and official wine glasses and plates.

 

fw_magnets fw_plasticplates fw_glassware

 

 

 

 

 

 

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A Review of the New Foods at Epcot’s Food and Wine Festival

by on September 26, 2015

The poached salmon is both tasty and beautiful. (Photo by Julia Mascardo)

Poached Salmon. (Photo by Julia Mascardo)

Now celebrating its 20th year, Epcot’s International Food & Wine Festival has many long-time fan favorite foods, but also prides itself on bringing new taste experiences each fall. Sometimes this is done with the creation of new booths and other times it is a matter of replacing items at booths from year to year. This year, there are multiple new booths and more than a dozen new items at booths brought back from previous years. Here are some of the new items and one of the new booths that you can find this year.

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SATURDAY SIX: Six GREAT Easter Eggs in Disney Animated Movies

by on September 26, 2015

This week’s SATURDAY SIX takes a look at the Six GREAT Easter Eggs in Disney Animated Movies. We here at the SATURDAY SIX offices listen to a lot of theme park podcasts, but one that caught our ears recently was Episode 87 of The Unofficial Guide’s Disney Dish with Jim Hill. The show is focused on Disney villains, and over the course of the discussion Jim Hill and host Len Testa cover a variety of topics including the disastrous Villains Unleashed hard ticket party at DHS last year. Always filled with interesting tidbits, one thing that was new to us was the reveal that the character Ratigan in the Great Mouse Detective was based off the former Disney President and CEO Ron W. Miller. Most of you reading this are probably like us and LOVE watching Disney animated films, and it’s always fun to find out new information or see an Easter Egg hidden in the movie that you never caught before, even after watching films 20 times. Today we are going to look at six of our favorites that we noticed over the years. So sit back, be sure to have a quick finger on that DVD pause button, and let’s begin our countdown starting with…

# 6 –  Goofy, Donald Duck, and Mickey Mouse in Little Mermaid

We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again, kids today have it too good. The overall quality of animated films today is higher that it has ever been, many of which (Up, Toy Story 3, How to Train Your Dragon) are as good as any live action film. But believe it or not there was a time when animated films weren’t doing all that well at the box office, including the ones made by Disney. In the mid ’80s we were at the nadir of the animated film industry, but that all changed in 1989 with the debut of The Little Mermaid. A smash success with a crowd pleasing soundtrack, Mermaid was so popular that fans wanted an attraction based on the ride 20 years after the movie came out. No offense to Big Hero 6 or Wreck It Ralph – both of which were awesome movies – but do you really see fans in a fever pitch to get attractions based on them 20 years from now?

After watching Mermaid approximately 1,000,000 times on VHS (and DVD, and blu ray, and now digitally on our iPhone) you start to catch every little detail in the film, such as the Big Three of Goofy, Mickey Mouse, and Donald Duck among the crowd that King Triton glides by near the beginning of the film. There also looks to be a mermaid wearing a pair of Mickey Ears in the bottom right of the screen.

EASTEREGGS_mermaid

King Triton glides by the Big Three.

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Epcot Food and Wine Festival Updates

by on September 25, 2015

©Disney

©Disney

Today is the first day of the Epcot Food and Wine Festival! It’s the most wonderful time of the year! With that being said, there are a few things that I wanted to update you on, if you are going to the Festival this year.

The first update is about the Chase Lounge. Once again, the Chase Lounge is back in the same location as it previously was; on the third floor of the American Adventure Pavilion. Guests can go to the Lounge to cool off, grab a beverage, re-charge your batteries (phone or personal), and simply relax. However, there are a few new things that have been added to the lounge’s amenities. Enhancements for this year include a dedicated Festival Information desk, a social media photo booth, and a station where guests can email recipes from the festival. (Yum!) In addition, periodically throughout the festival, the lounge will host animation sketch classes and will feature caricature artists for guest enjoyment. Guests will also be able to pick up wristbands for special seating for the Eat to the Beat Concert Series.

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Minnie Mouse Meet and Greet Will Move to Animation Courtyard at Disney’s Hollywood Studios

by on September 25, 2015

Minnie meeting in her former location at The Magic of Disney Animation

Minnie meeting in her former location at The Magic of Disney Animation

With the closure of The Magic of Disney Animation earlier this year, Minnie Mouse became homeless. Beginning on October 8, she will be homeless no more.

Minnie will soon be meeting her adoring fans in an all-new character greeting location in the Animation Courtyard at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, just outside of Disney Junior – Live on Stage! The new meet and greet space’s look will be inspired by the popular Disney Junior series, “Mickey Mouse Clubhouse”

Minnie will join other Disney Junior favorites, including Doc McStuffins, Sofia the First, and Jake from “Jake and the Neverland Pirates.”

For guests who are looking for Sorcerer Mickey Mouse, who was also displaced by the closure of The Magic of Disney Animation, he can be found in part of the former queue of the Studio Backlot Tour.

Unfortunately, two popular meet and greet characters that were in The Magic of Disney Animation building are no longer meeting guests in the park. They are Mr. Incredible and Frozone from The Incredibles, as well as Hiro and Baymax from Big Hero 6.

 

Pecos Bill Tall Tale Inn and Cafe To See Menu Change

by on September 25, 2015

©Rikki Niblett

©Rikki Niblett

If you are a fan of Pecos Bill’s you will notice a change on your next visit. Beginning September 28 and lasting through September 30, Pecos Bill’s Tall Tale Inn and Cafe will be closed for refurbishment, however, the refurbishment work isn’t going to be changing the restaurant’s decor. Instead, when the Frontierland quick service restaurant reopens on October 1, it will feature a brand new menu; no more burgers!

The new menu that will soon be featured at the popular dining establishment will include delicious dishes like fajitas, burritos, and rice bowls. (Hmmmm….sound like the Magic Kingdom’s version of Chipotle? Also, could they maybe bring back the taco salad? That would be my wish anyway.)

No word on what will happen with the toppings bar with the refurb, though with the ingredients available currently, one would suspect that the toppings bar will remain with delicious offerings to use on your burrito or fajita.

Tortuga Tavern, which can be found next door, used to offer similar Mexican-inspired dishes, however, the restaurant is listed as seasonal, and is infrequently open.

Pecos Bill’s new menu sounds like a nice new addition to the Magic Kingdom’s quick service dining offerings.

 

Disney Military Salute Extended Through 2016

by on September 25, 2015

Military discountBig thanks for Tammy Whiting of Storybook Destinations for the following news about Disney’s U.S. military discounts for 2016.

Today Disney announced an extension of the very popular Disney Military Salute through all of 2016!

The Disney Military Salute includes steeply discounted tickets, as well as generous room discounts.

Each qualifying member may purchase one ticket for themselves and up to 5 additional tickets to be used by friends and family between January 3rd and December 19th, 2016. The tickets may not be used March 20, 2016- April 1, 2016.

At Walt Disney World, four day tickets with the Park Hopper OR Water Parks Fun and More option are $196 plus tax. Four day tickets with the Park Hopper and Water Parks Fun and More option are $230 plus tax.

At Disneyland, three day Park Hopper tickets are $143.

Room discounts will run from January 3rd to December 19th, 2016.

Blackout dates include March 20th-April 1st for room discounts as well.

Any active duty or retired Service member, National Guardsman, Reservist, or Coast Guard is eligible. If the eligible member is not present, their spouse is eligible. Tickets are purchased at participating U.S. military sales outlets and must be activated with ID at theme park windows. More details are on Disney’s web site.

In Case You Missed It: Disney News and Rumors – Week of September 25, 2015

by on September 25, 2015

ICYMIFall is officially here. So now I feel comfortable enjoying pumpkin-flavored everything. (I’m a traditionalist! I also really love summer and don’t like to see it disappear, so I want to hold onto it as long as possible.)

This week, we dive into Muppet fun, a favorite Walt Disney World restaurant was named as one of the best of the best, and more!

In Case You Missed It – Disney and Universal Orlando News and Rumors

 

Boma at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge was named as one of the best buffets in all of the country. That’s right…the country! Do you enjoy Boma?

Last week, we discussed the sites that help secure Advanced Dining Reservations. Well this week, it appears that Disney is shutting at least one of them down.

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