Archive for December, 2015

Universal Crowd Calendar Report – December 20 to 26, 2015

by on December 29, 2015

How Crowded Was Universal Orlando Last Week?

How Crowded Was Universal Orlando Last Week?

Universal Orlando was busier before December 23 than after. Saturday was the busiest day last week with Universal Studios hitting the top level on our scale and Islands of Adventure reaching a level ‘9’. Overall, wait times tended to be higher than what we normally see during the same week historically.

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

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Disney World Crowd Calendar Report – December 20 to 26, 2015

by on December 29, 2015

How Crowded Was Disney World Last Week?

How Crowded Was Disney World Last Week?

The peak holiday season has arrived at Disney World. Crowds at all four parks were at the top of our crowd scale almost every day last week. Animal Kingdom was the only park that had some days at a level lower than ‘8’. The Christmas holiday is the single busiest period of the year at Disney World. Wait times hit their highest averages for the year, only to be outdone by next week. Surprisingly, the parks were not as between December 24 and 26 as they were before but that is entirely due to lower wait times at Animal Kingdom. That park is a great choice when the other parks are as packed as we saw last week.

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

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Three Great New Walt Disney World Discounts Released Today

by on December 28, 2015

Save on your next Disney vacation

Save on your next Disney vacation ©Disney

Thanks to Sue Pisaturo at Small World Vacations for the heads up on these new Disney discounts.

Today, Disney announced three new specials that are available for travel to Walt Disney World for those traveling this winter/spring.

The first is the “Family Time Package Offer” where a family of four can enjoy a 5-Day/4-Night Walt Disney World Vacation for as low as $1,714.

This offer is available for stays for stays most Sunday through Thursday nights February 22 through March 3, 2016 and April 3 through May 26, 2016 at Disney’s All-Star Music Resort. Additional great rates are also available for alternate lengths of stay, different resort hotels and party sizes for stays most nights February 22 through June 11, 2016.

Guests can book this offer between December 28 through February 28, 2016.

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A Disney World Historian’s Exploration of Disneyland Park

by on December 28, 2015

The light in Walt's apartment window above the Disneyland Fire Dept.

The light in Walt’s apartment window above the Disneyland Fire Dept.

One of the many things I love and appreciate about the Disney Parks is that, while they are constantly evolving and improving, they stay true to their history and even celebrate it; and when I’m at Walt Disney World, I’m always looking for it. Much to my family’s chagrin, I have this inner need to educate them about the history of each attraction we find ourselves waiting in line for or about the individual windows on Main Street, U.S.A., or about the original name of Cinderella’s Royal Table or…well…you get the idea. As you can imagine, this self-pronounced Disney World Historian was beyond thrilled to experience her first trip to the Disneyland Park to finally walk in Walt’s footsteps, a literal treasure trove of Disney History and the original. So stay tuned for A Disney World Historian’s Guide to the Disneyland Park.

Walt's Bench

Walt’s Bench

Main Street, U.S.A.

There is so much history for the Walt Disney World fan to appreciate on the original Main Street, U.S.A., more than I could ever mention in one article! However, a personal favorite of mine has to be Walt Disney’s Griffith Park Bench found just inside the Opera House. According to Walt, he was sitting on a bench in Griffith Park watching his daughters ride the merry-go-round when he first dreamed up a Disney-themed park where families could have fun together.

The Opera House is also where guests can take in Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln, the predecessor to the Hall of Presidents at the Magic Kingdom in Walt Disney World. Walt originally wanted audio-animatronic American Presidents in a show, but the technology just wasn’t available at the time for such a large-scale show. It was possible, however, when Walt Disney World opened and The Hall of Presidents was somewhat of a fulfillment of Walt’s original vision. Therefore, Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln is something every Disney World Historian should check out and is sure to create an even greater appreciation for The Hall of Presidents.

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Disneyland Crowd Calendar Report – December 20 to 26, 2015

by on December 28, 2015

How Crowded Was Disneyland Last Week?

How Crowded Was Disneyland Last Week?

Last week, Disneyland Resort was slightly less crowded than expected during the week but wait times were still extreme most days. The dips in mid-week crowd levels were caused mostly by lower than expected wait times at Disney California Adventure. The Christmas holiday season is the busiest time of the year at the Disneyland parks and it looks like this year will be no exception.

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

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SATURDAY SIX: Six Disney Gifts Santa Can Bring Back to the North Pole (AKA The Best of the Disney Outlet Stores in 2015)

by on December 26, 2015

This week’s SATURDAY SIX takes a look at Six Disney Gifts Santa Can Bring Back to the North Pole (A/K/A The Best of the Disney Outlet Stores in 2015). Some readers of this weekly column may not know that we also have The Magic, The Memories, and Merch! where every single month for over two years we have braved the insanity of the Orlando Premium Outlet parking lots to cover the two Disney outlet stores (more info on them – including addresses –  are at the end of the article.) While some Christmas dreams do come true, such as Ralphie Parker getting his official Red Ryder BB gun and Your Humble Author getting a Han Solo blaster back in the day, others deserve to go straight to the Island of Misfit Toys. Today we will take a look at some of those very items, starting with…

# 6 – Olaf Rain Gauge

What’s always fascinating when you come across a particularly awful piece of merchandise is taking a minute and realize how many people must have said “yes” for this product to actually exist. To imagine that no one up and down the line from concept, to drawings, to prototypes, to production, to anywhere in-between said “have you lost your minds?!” I for one want to bFe in the meeting where this Olaf Ran Gauge was pitched. Who was the intended audience for it? What planet exists in the multiverse where an adult who cares about a rain gauge would want one Frozen based or a kid who loves Frozen so much needs a rain gauge. This item joins Mickey’s Personal Disney Assistant and goes directly in the Outlet Hall of Fame.

OlafRainGauge_diba

(Photo by Mark Diba.)

Olaf had a heck of a year at the Outlets, including this “media case.” I promise you, Dear Reader, that if I ever decide to leave this mortal coil I will write a note explaining my reasons and leave it tucked away in this case.

OUTLETBAD_Olafmediacase

Olaf media case.

# 5 – Mickey and Minnie “Chestburster” Shirts

Can someone explain to me why anyone would wear this type of shirt? I don’t understand because I love the classic look on the front of the shirts. In fact, back in April I almost bought what I though was a great Chip and Dale shirt, only to discover the next-level bananas backside.I guess we are supposed to believe the characters are gripping your back and sticking their head through your body like a Xenomorph from the Alien movies. That mistake did teach me a valuable lesson: no matter how good the front of a Disney t-shirt looks, always check out the back. Always.

OUTLETBAD_shirt1

This shirts look great, right?

OUTLETBAD_shirt2

Whaaaaaat?!!!!

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SATURDAY SIX SPECIAL EDITION: Six Reasons We LOVE Christmas at the Orlando Theme Parks

by on December 25, 2015

This week’s SATURDAY SIX takes a look at Six Reasons We LOVE Christmas at the Orlando Theme Parks. It’s hard to beat Halloween in Orlando. Universal has its world class Halloween Horror Nights while Disney has their Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party, both of which are among the highlights of the theme park year. It is just an amazing time, but can there actually be a time that’s better? Yes there is, and it’s called Christmas season. Not only are the hotels decorated (in fact a day could be spent resort hopping at WDW just to see the Christmas decorations such as the giant tree at Wilderness Lodge or the huge gingerbread house at the Grand Floridian) but the parks have a whole bunch of new stuff. Plus IT’S CHRISTMAS! To paraphrase Frank Cross in Scroogedit’s the time of the year when we all act a little nicer, we give a little more, and we actually are the people that we always hoped we would be. So today we are going to look at some of our favorite reasons that Christmas in the Orlando Theme Parks is our favorite time of the year….

 

# 6 -Macy’s Holiday Parade

For our family, watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade on TV every year is the official start of the Christmas season. Universal has it’s own version of that parade starting in December with the Macy’s Holiday Parade in Universal Studios Florida. Not only are there the large balloons (several from the actual parade in New York), but guests can sign up to be balloon handlers! There are also many floats and of course your favorite characters.

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Balloons making their way in Macy’s Holiday Parade. (photo by Mike Sperduto)

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Straight from the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York comes the Happy Hippo balloon. (photo by Mike Sperduto)

macys_glover

MINIONS!!!! (photo by Brandon Glover)

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25 Drinks of Christmas – Day Twenty Five: Nautilus at Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto

by on December 25, 2015

We’re back with everyone’s favorite theme park advent calendar: a daily countdown of our favorite drinks at Walt Disney World, Universal Orlando, and SeaWorld building anticipation to the Big Day. 

Criteria: Drinks can be alcoholic or nonalcoholic. Drinks can come from any venue on property. Bonus points awarded for atmosphere where the drink is served. Any drink with glow cubes is immediately disqualified. Ready? Let’s go!

DAY TWENTY FIVE: Nautilus at Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto (Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort)

Dive! Dive! Dive!

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The Nautilus at Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto. (photo by Brandon Glover)

No, you are not suffering from deja vu. Yes, we have made several trips to Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto during our countdown. We started off with a bang when we had a Polynesian Pearl pulled out of the shell. Then we battened down the hatches for a Tropical Dark & Stormy. We couldn’t leave out the HippopotoMai-Tai, could we? We saved the best for last though as the #1 drink on our countdown this year is the legendary NAUTILUS.

Served in an amazing souvenir bowl with the form of the Nautilus from Disney’s 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, this is one drink meant to be shared, as you could possibly be seeing a giant squid in Seven Seas Lagoon if you tried to go it alone. The entire room transforms when a Nautilus is ordered and even the servers get in on the fun. Lighting effects make the room appear as if you are going under water, audio plays orders from the Nautilus captain, and there are several  physical effects happening across the Grotto (keep your head on a swivel).  The Nautilus is an E-Ticket drink in an E-Ticket bar and it is hands-down our favorite drink of Christmas 2015.

Ingredients: Barbancourt Pango Rhum, Appleton Estate Reserve Rum, Combier Creme de Peche de Vigne Liqueur, Tropical Juices, and Falernum. Served in a souvenir Nautilus.

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Everyone’s happy when a Nautilus is on its way! (photo by Brandon Glover)

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The Nautilus souvenir bowl can be used in many ways. (photo by George Booras)

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

by on December 24, 2015

ICYMIMerry Christmas and Happy Holidays! Since tomorrow, most of you will be celebrating with family and friends, I decided to get this week’s In Case You Missed It out a day earlier! I hope you enjoy your holiday.

Universal purchased land, Star Wars broke records, and lots, lots more happened this week! Read on to find out just what you should know.

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

 

USA Today takes us to The Boathouse in this video. Have you tried it yet?

Could a wine bar be headed to Disney Springs? Would this appeal to you?

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25 Drinks of Christmas – Day Twenty Four: Deathly Hallows at Hog’s Head (Islands of Adventure)

by on December 24, 2015

We’re back with everyone’s favorite theme park advent calendar: a daily countdown of our favorite drinks at Walt Disney World, Universal Orlando, and SeaWorld building anticipation to the Big Day. 

Criteria: Drinks can be alcoholic or nonalcoholic. Drinks can come from any venue on property. Bonus points awarded for atmosphere where the drink is served. Any drink with glow cubes is immediately disqualified. Ready? Let’s go!

DAY TWENTY FOUR: Deathly Hallows at Hog’s Head (Islands of Adventure)

Before we start we unfortunately been handed a proclamation by Dolores Umbridge which states:

Theme Park Decree No. 22 All Muggle bloggers are not permitted to use the name Deathly Hallows to describe a particular drink at the Hog’s Head Pub and henceforth it shall only be referred to as The Triple.

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The Deathly Hallows Triple at the Hog’s Head pub. (photo by Brandon Glover)

With that out of the way, The Triple is our favorite of all the incredible specialty drinks you can get at the Hog’s Head Pub. One of the coolest looking beers you are going to find at Universal, the base of The Triple is Strongbow, while the middle is Hog’s Head Brew, and the top is Guinness. A trio of great draughts that make this our go-to drink when entering Hogsmeade Vilage.

Ingredients: Strongbow, Hog’s Head Brew, and Guinness.

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Hog’s Head Pub in Hogsmeade Village. (photo by Mike Sperduto)

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