Archive for February, 2016

In Case You Missed It: Disney News and Rumors – Week of February 26, 2016

by on February 26, 2016

ICYMIDid you catch the Disneyland 60th special for the Wonderful World of Disney this week? What did you think of it? I know that I actually liked it. It was certainly better than the Christmas specials that have aired as of late!

This week, we have articles you may have missed including information about the upcoming Turner Classic Movie night, Zootopia/Frozen Easter eggs, and much more! Let’s leap to it! (Cause it’s Leap Day on Monday….nevermind….)

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

 

Disney COO Tom Staggs recently gave an interview talking about both Shanghai and the future of television. It’s interesting to see what perspectives the (likely) future CEO has.

Disney ranked number 5 on Fortune’s list of “World’s Most Admired Companies” this year. In addition, this week, Disney was named as the World’s Most Powerful Brand.

Could a new ice-cream shop be heading to Disney’s BoardWalk?

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What’s New in Washington DC – The Renwick Gallery

by on February 26, 2016

UG_CoverWelcome to a new series on the TouringPlans.com blog. As we are continuing our research for our upcoming coverage as well as the brand new Unofficial Guide to Washington, D.C., we will be posting about all the new exhibits and events in Washington.

For those reading this who are not familiar with Washington, there are dozens upon dozens of museums in addition to the well known monuments. Well, these museums don’t just stay still, they are constantly rotating exhibits in and out. Some are small, some are huge, but we see them all. Today, we’re going to visit the Renwick Gallery.

WONDER at the Renwick Gallery

The Renwick Gallery, which is a branch of the Smithsonian American Art Museum, had been closed for two years for renovations. It finally reopened in November of 2015, but without its permanent collection. Instead, the entire building is focused on a single exhibit: WONDER.

WONDER is a showcase of nine contemporary artists, each of whom got a full room to work with. They each developed site-specific installations that are ingenious. The Renwick and WONDER was easily one of my favorite things about my last trip to D.C.; I love its playfulness and creativity. It really is…well, wonderful.

2016-02-14 at 10-00-15Another thing it is, is busy. I tried to go at around 4:00pm on a Saturday and was met with a sizable line of people awaiting entry. I arrived the following morning at about 9:50 (10 minutes before opening) and was about 50th in line and that line stretched for quite a while behind me. Luckily the gallery can handle the initial rush, but I would still recommend getting there within the first hour of operation if possible.

One downside I should mention is that WONDER will only be on view for a few more months. The last four that I list below–the installations upstairs–will be closing on May 8, 2016 and the first three close July 10. The other two will be staying and the rest of the collection begins reopening July 1, so that’s something I guess. I’ve marked each header with its closing date; hopefully if you can’t see it my photos do it justice.

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The Basics: A Cost Analysis of the Disney World Dining Plan

by on February 26, 2016

This is a continuation of our Back to Basics Series. Scroll to the bottom to find links to our other Basics posts.

The first thing to understand about the Disney World Dining Plan is the transformation it has undergone since its introduction in 2005. At one time, the promotional material for the dining plan emphasized value, trumpeting savings of up to 40 percent. Today, the emphasis is on convenience. That’s because the potential savings of the Dining Plan is very dependent on how you use it. In fact, it’s fairly easy to lose money on the Dining Plan.

Disney Dining PlanDuring its debut, the Standard Dining Plan cost about $35 per day for adults and $10 for children. For this price, visitors would get the familiar offering of one table-service meal, one counter-service meal and one snack. The big difference from the original offering to today is in the table-service meal, which no longer includes appetizer or gratuity in the cost.

And, of course, that cost has gone up markedly as well. In 2016, the price per day of the Standard Dining Plan is $61.82 per adult and $20.98 per child (tax included). In addition to the table-service meal, counter-service meal and single snack per day, guests using this plan will get a refillable drink mug, valid for the length of stay.

The other dining plan options include the Quick-Service Plan, which includes two counter-service meals and one snack per day, along with the refillable drink mug. Per day, this package will run you $42.84 for adults and $17.47 for children (tax included). Then there’s the Deluxe Dining Plan, which offers a choice of 3 table- or counter-service meals per day at any participating restaurant. In addition to the three meals a day, the plan also includes two snacks per day and a refillable drink mug. Both child and adult credits can be used for adult meals, if desired, on the Deluxe Dining Plan. The cost per day is $111.73 for adults and $32.56 for children (tax included).

Read on to find out where you can find value in the Dining Plan and where you can fall short.

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Preparing for a Disney Ticket Price Increase

by on February 26, 2016

MYW_Ticket_LogoPrice increases are imminent; resistance is futile.

Okay, it’s not quite as bad as all that, but it has been over a year since Disney increased their regular ticket prices. Yes, they increased the cost of their Annual Passes in October, but it was February 22, 2015 the last time the regular tickets went up. History and our intuition indicates that will change any day now. So let’s take a quick look at what that may mean for you.

Tiered Ticket Pricing

In June of last year a Disney survey seemed to hint that they would eventually be implementing a tiered ticket system. This system would mean that guests would pay more–up to $125 for a single-day ticket–during times of peak attendance. There was no real indication when, or if, this system would ever come to be, but we suspect it will eventually be utilized. We have no evidence that this will be what Disney goes to on the next increase, but we wouldn’t be surprised either.

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Disneyland Crowd Calendar Report – February 14 to 20, 2016

by on February 26, 2016

How Crowded Was Disneyland Resort Last Week?

How Crowded Was Disneyland Resort Last Week?

Last week, Disneyland Resort differed from the pattern we normally see in February. Usually we would expect to see a dip in crowds during the week but last week Wednesday was one of the busiest days of the week, even in spite of some rainy weather. Disney California Adventure dipped to a crowd level ‘5’ on Tuesday but otherwise both parks were a level ‘7’ or higher every day.

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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Universal Orlando Crowd Calendar Report – February 14 to 20, 2016

by on February 26, 2016

How Crowded Was Universal Orlando Resort Last Week?

How Crowded Was Universal Orlando Resort Last Week?

Last week, President’s Day crowds at Universal Orlando Resort were larger than we have seen historically. Monday and Tuesday in particular were several points higher than we usually see. As the week progressed we saw wait times in both parks converge with the projections made by the Universal Crowd Calendar.

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 – February 14 to 20, 2016

by on February 26, 2016

How Did The Disney World Crowd Calendar Do Last Week?

How Did The Disney World Crowd Calendar Do Last Week?

President’s Week at Walt Disney World is historically the busiest week between New Year’s Day and Spring Break and that was the case this year as well. Crowds on Sunday and Monday were as hectic as we see all year long with the parks slowly fading during the week. Magic Kingdom never dipped below a crowd level ‘9’ all 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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Disney World Big Kid / Little Kid Attraction Alternatives

by on February 25, 2016

One sometimes overlooked feature of the Disney World FastPass+ system is that members of a party do not all have to make the same FP+ selections. That’s great news for families with children of different ages or different interests.

Consider, for example, a hypothetical family of four with Mom, Dad, 10 year old sister, and four year old brother. Sis is a thrill ride enthusiast. Little bro is a few millimeters too short for some of the big rides. What do they do?

The Carousel is a good alternative for little kids.

The Carousel is a good alternative for little kids.

Your first thought may be “Rider Swap option” which allows families with small children to have each parent ride in relatively quick sequence, while the other hangs back and minds the youngster. The Rider Swap is indeed a terrific choice for families with infants. Real baby babies won’t much care what they’re doing as long as they’re fed, dry, and in the company of a loving caregiver. On the other hand, a sturdy, verbal, walking/running/climbing child, who just happens to be short, is going to want some more oomph in his vacation. He needs something to DO. Waiting around while Mom and Dad go on a visually enticing ride like Big Thunder Mountain with big sister, twice!, is no self-respecting preschooler’s idea of a good time.

An ideal solution would be for the family split up for a few activities, using their time and FastPass+ selections to ensure that each faction has engaging entertainment that doesn’t detract from the family’s experience as a whole. This means that the alternatives should be:

  • Physically Near Each Other, whenever possible. This ensures that the family won’t spend more time walking to attractions than enjoying the attractions themselves.
  • Rank Low on the “Universal Appeal” Factor. Some attractions (Buzz Lightyear Space Ranger Spin or Kilimanjaro Safari, for example) hold near equal appeal for all ages. Try to avoid these as substitutions because these are the attractions the family should enjoy together.
  • Approximate actual fun for the little kid. “Watching parent shop” is not typically fun for a preschooler.

Here are some good big kid / little kid attraction pairings to satisfy both ends of the spectrum.

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Atlanta Braves Spring Training at ESPN Wide World of Sports

by on February 25, 2016

©Disney

©Disney

Spring is here because baseball is back! (That’s how this works, right?) America’s favorite past time is once again on our doorsteps. It’s time to hear the crack of the bat and smell the hot dogs and Cracker Jacks!

The Atlanta Braves will once again be taking the field at Champion Stadium at the ESPN Wide World of Sports. This year, Spring Training will take place select dates from March 1 through April 2. Here is the full list of dates:

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Julia’s Best Week Ever, February 25, 2016: Lion Guard Defend!

by on February 25, 2016

2016-02-21 09.16.59As a parent, every time Disney Junior rolls out a new show, I have a sense of dread. Some end up being wonderful shows (Sofia the First, Doc McStuffins) and some grate on my nerves (Goldie and Bear, Kate and Mim Mim). Then there are some that I think I am more excited about than my daughter. One of the latter is the new show The Lion Guard. For those who aren’t familiar, Kion–who is basically Simba’s son–has been tapped to become leader of a special forces group with four of his friends called The Lion Guard. After watching the show and purchasing the soundtrack for morning drives to school, I was pretty certain this show was going to be a hit. Disney also went with a bit of marketing push, and in addition to merchandise popping up in stores across property, Animal Kingdom also is offering The Lion Guard Adventure. Sounds like a great Saturday outing…

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