Archive for January, 2016

Disney World Crowd Calendar Report – January 17 to 23, 2016

by on January 26, 2016

How Crowded Was Disney World Last Week?

How Crowded Was Disney World Last Week?

Cold weather has kept the Disney World theme parks less crowded than usual on several days this January. Last week we saw crowd levels one to two points lower than the Disney World Crowd Calendar predicted every day except for Saturday. This is good news for guests on vacation since the cool weather tends to keep local guests from visiting the parks and makes for lighter crowds overall.

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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Disneyland Crowd Calendar Report – January 17 to 23, 2016

by on January 25, 2016

How Crowded Was Disneyland Last Week?

How Crowded Was Disneyland Last Week?

Wait times at Disneyland last week followed the pattern predicted by the Disneyland Crowd Calendar. The resort wide crowd level was off by more than one index level twice, on Monday and Wednesday. January is off-season for Disneyland Resort and that means a big dip in attendance during the week and busy parks on the weekends.

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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New 4K Ride Through POV Videos on TouringPlans YouTube Channel

by on January 25, 2016

4K ride through POV videos Disney

Experience favorite Disney attractions in UltraHD with our new 4K ride through POV videos!

If you are a fan of the theme park news and reviews we share here on the TouringPlans.com blog, I hope you also frequent our TouringPlans YouTube channel, where we post a steady stream of clips from the Disney and Universal resorts. In case you weren’t familiar with our YouTube channel, now is a perfect time to check it out, because we’ve recently begun uploading new 4K ride through POV videos from Disneyland and Walt Disney World.

These new attraction videos have been recorded on iPhone 6S and 6S+ devices at 3840x2160p 30fps, and uploaded to YouTube at full resolution. If you have a 4K (or UltraHD) television with the proper streaming app or device, or a sufficiently powerful computer with a 4K monitor, you can appreciate the extreme detail of the clips’ native resolution.

Even if you don’t have a 4K device, these new clips should look better than ever however you watch them. On Retina iPad and MacBook displays, the 1440p resolution option looks noticeable better than standard HD, and even the 1080p version should look super-sharp thanks to intelligent down-sampling.

Here’s some of the 4K ride through POV videos we’ve posted so far, starting with a few of our favorite Disneyland dark rides:

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Disneyland Star Wars Half Marathon Recap

by on January 25, 2016

medalsA few months ago I got the hair-brained idea that I should participate in the Star Wars Half Marathon Weekend at Disneyland Resort. Last weekend, I followed through on that crazy scheme and came away with three medals and a new appreciation for Disney athletes!

The weekend started for me on Thursday evening, after I flew in and made it to my hotel on Harbor Boulevard. I was able to walk right across the street to the bus terminal and esplanade of Disneyland without any issues, and then mosey through Downtown Disney as I went to pick up my race bib and register.

rugI have heard many reports of long lines and insane crowds during bib pickup, and that was why I wanted to get that done during the last hour of opening on Thursday. My planning was rewarded with no line at all to pick up my race bib, and no queue when I wanted to look at the official Disney merchandise for the event. (These lines were much longer the next day, when I stopped in for one of the presentations.)

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The race bib pick-up and Rebel Challenge photo spot.

Because I was participating in the Rebel Challenge, I also had to get my picture taken so that it could be verified later that I had indeed participated in both races and finished. (This process went very smoothly on Sunday after the half marathon, I must say!) Then I headed upstairs and grabbed my shirts – one shirt for the 10K, one shirt for the Half Marathon, and one shirt for the Rebel Challenge. I decided to switch the size after I got a good look at them, and there was a special area for that and it took no time at all.

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Why Wilderness Lodge is the Only Deluxe Resort For Me

by on January 25, 2016

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Behold the glory that is Disney’s Wilderness Lodge Resort!

When planning a Disney World Vacation there are a number of decisions to make ranging from which FastPass+ reservations to book, what ticket option is best for you and your group, and even how to get there. But one of the most important, if you’re staying on property, is which Walt Disney World Resort to choose as your home away from home during your stay!

Now as you may have guessed, the size of your budget will help with the decision-making process. This is why Disney has conveniently grouped the Disney Resorts into three different categories based on price with Deluxe Resorts being the most expensive, Value Resorts being the least, and Moderate Resorts falling somewhere in the middle. I’ve covered my Why Port Orleans Riverside is the Only Moderate Resort for Me in the past for when I have to keep to a budget; but for today’s post, I’m totally tossing the budget out the window and splurging with Why Wilderness Lodge is the Only Deluxe Resort for Me!

But first, a little more info about the Disney World Deluxes!

The Disney World Deluxe Resorts offer the most benefits and the best theming and consist of Animal Kingdom Lodge, the Yacht and Beach Club, the Boardwalk Inn, the Contemporary Resort, the Grand Floridian Resort and Spa, the Polynesian Village, and Wilderness Lodge. All of the Deluxe Resorts now offer Disney Vacation Club Villas, where non-Disney Vacation Club guests can also stay if there’s availability. Disney’s Saratoga Springs Resort and Spa and Disney’s Old Key West Resort are Deluxe Villa Resorts only; but again, non-members can book stays here too.

So with all of these resort options, how could I possibly choose? Believe me, it was difficult and my choice can vary depending on when and why I’m visiting; but if I had to just one Deluxe Resort, it would have to be Disney’s Wilderness Lodge Resort!

Here’s why…

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Universal Orlando Releases 2016 Celebration of Harry Potter Schedule

by on January 24, 2016

2016 Celebration of Harry Potter schedule

Plan you Wizarding weekend with the 2016 Celebration of Harry Potter schedule

If you’ve been anxiously awaiting an official 2016 Celebration of Harry Potter schedule of events from Universal Orlando, you can relax because your owl has arrived! Universal has just announced the full rundown of public happenings during their annual Wizarding World weekend, which runs January 29-31, 2016.

Activities over the three day Celebration of Harry Potter include Q&A sessions with cast members from the hit movies, panels with artists who worked on the films and parks, and special demonstrations and exhibits relating to Potter lore. In 2016, the Music Plaza stage in Universal Studios Florida will be dedicated during the day to kids activities, in addition to hosting the headliner events in the evenings, while Toon Lagoon amphitheater in Islands of Adventure will reopen during the daytime for sessions aimed at adult fans.

All of the below listed activities are open to all park goers, including annual passholder, without needing an extra ticket. One thing you won’t see on the list is autograph sessions with the film stars. After the intense demand for limited autograph tickets last year, Universal has restricted the signings solely to those who purchased special hotel packages (which sold out long ago).

Here is the full schedule of 2016 Celebration of Harry Potter activities:

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SATURDAY SIX: The Six Best Pressed Pennies at the Universal Orlando Resort

by on January 23, 2016

This week’s  SATURDAY SIX takes a look at Six Best Pressed Pennies at the Universal Orlando Resort. Regular readers of this fine blog know that we have extolled the virtue of pressed pennies in our article on The Best Souvenirs at Walt Disney World and anyone who follows Your Humble Author on social media knows I am pretty much obsessed with them. Today we are going to head over to the Universal Orlando Resort and check out the best pressed coin designs they have to offer. So sit back, drive yourself crazy looking through all your change to find two quarters and a penny, and let’s start off with…

# 6 – Jurassic Park

The Jurassic Park logo is just as awesome today as it was when it made its debut over twenty years ago, and in the gift shop of the Jurassic Park River Adventure (way in the back) you can find a pressed penny design with this very image.

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Iconic Jurassic Park logo.

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# 5 – The Simpsons

There are a good amount of Simpsons pressed penny designs found throughout the entire Universal resort (not just in Springfield USA), and in fact our favorite design is located over at Islands of Adventure in front of the Islands Trading Post. One of the biggest strength of the Simpsons TV show is its huge cast of characters, however almost all of the pressed penny designs at Universal feature the actual Simpson family of Homer, Marge, Bart, Lisa, and Maggie. One design features Homer, Moe, and Barney Gumble at Moe’s Tavern. Until we can get a pressed penny featuring Comic Book Guy (Worst. Penny. Ever.), Cletus the slack jawed yokel, Duffman, or even Poochie, the Moe’s Tavern penny is going to be  #1 in our book.

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Moe’s Tavern.

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In Case You Missed It: Disney News and Rumors – Week of January 22, 2016

by on January 22, 2016

ICYMII’m cold. I’m sure you are too. So, snuggle up with a blanket and a hot beverage and enjoy this week’s edition of In Case You Missed It.

This week, you may have missed a great SNL skit, a Marvel special on ABC, and much more. Are you ready? Cause I am!

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

 

Walt Disney Imagineering has named a new president in Bob Weiss. Weiss has recently been overseeing Shanghai Disneyland. Thoughts on this move?

Is the World of Coca-Cola experience coming to Disney Springs? It would certainly appear so, especially if you look at the sign on the building. Would this be something you would want to do on your vacation to Walt Disney World?

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The most relaxing place inside Walt Disney World

by on January 21, 2016

In 1971, the dawn of the Vacation Kingdom, Walt Disney World came to be. In the beginning Walt Disney World wasn’t about theme parks, it was a sprawling vacation getaway with multiple ways to relax and reconnect. Now that Walt Disney World has grown to encompass four distinct theme parks, two water parks, mini golf, PGA golf courses, and over 20 resort hotels, it can sometimes feel like the is no room for relaxation. But, if you look for it, you can still find the Vacation Kingdom’s message of leisure, and one of the best places to find it is the Bay Lake area.

Lagoon View (3)

(Photo by Brian McNichols)

A brief history of Bay Lake

The strategic development of what was once marsh land to create Walt Disney World is pretty fascinating. It is a smart business move that sometimes happens today: company names created to purchase the land without the attractive, financial appeal of the Disney Corporation, and thus a price increase. Then there’s the creation of a self-governing city: Bay Lake. Many steps were taken to make Walt Disney World incredibly unique and free from much of the normal regulation other enterprises have to face.

Lay of the lake

The main destinations within the Bay Lake Area are some of Disney’s most iconic resorts. Disney’s Contemporary, Polynesian Village, Grand Floridian, and Wilderness Lodge resorts each have their own distinct character and appeal. Visiting these resorts is enough to make for a nice afternoon, but the activities that can be enjoyed throughout this resort area can make for a full day of recreation.

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Seth Kubersky’s Best Week Ever January 21, 2016: Magic Kingdom Martin Luther King Weekend Crowd Observations

by on January 21, 2016

Here at Walt Disney World, it sometimes seems like we just barely survive one holiday peak season before another wave of tourists arrive. After the overwhelming crowds of Christmas and New Year, Orlando’s parks saw a brief respite before Martin Luther King weekend came around and packed the parks again. For this edition of Best Week Ever, we’re going to brave the happy hordes and enjoy a Magic Kingdom Martin Luther King weekend visit.

The Sunday before Martin Luther King Day dawned overcast and blustery in the low 50s (what we locals call “Florida Cold”). But by the time I arrived at the Magic Kingdom’s parking lot, the weather was beginning to clear up into a gorgeous day.

 

Magic Kingdom Martin Luther King weekend

Grey skies, sweatshirts, and shorts: yup, it’s winter in Orlando!

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