Archive for May, 2016

The Magic, The Memories, and Merch! May 2016 Photo Report of the Disney Outlet Store

by on May 31, 2016

MMM positiveWelcome to the latest edition of The Magic, The Memories, and Merch! the longest running monthly look at the Disney Outlet Stores in Orlando. It was a pretty big month for the theme park world, especially for one of our favorite parks: Animal Kingdom. For AK it was the best of times and the worst of times as the new restaurant Tiffins opened, and has drawn rave reviews across the board. Meanwhile, Jungle Book: Alive with Magic – the quickly produced show which is replacing the delayed Rivers of Light nighttime spectacular – is getting reviews so bad that even the theme park media who won’t say anything negative are having a hard time coming up with qualifiers to avoid saying this show has major issues. Meanwhile over in Disney Springs; the Town Center opened with Sprinkles Bakery and the Disney run D-Luxe Burgers is getting a big thumbs up from us. Also open? The Lime parking garage, making the area –  which was once the absolute worst place on property to park at  – now the best. Let’s not forget the next time you are in the BoardWalk area to check out the incredible new ice cream shop Ample Hills Creamery. Not only is there an ice cream flavor exclusive to WDW with Sally Sells Sea Shells (orange marshmallow ice cream with chocolate sea shells mixed in) , but we can highly recommend the Ooey Gooey Butter Cake and Peppermint Pattie as well. 

Now while all of you were out at Disney World with Chewbacca Mom, Outlet Intern Julia Mascardo and I were hard at work to bring you the quality Outlet coverage you expect deserve!

Enough jibber jabber! Who is ready to hit the Outlets? Remember that clicking on any picture will open a full size version of it (don’t say we didn’t warn you).

I’ve been searching a long time for the very worst example of Disney Vinlmation and this month I think I finally think I found my holy grail with this one featuring Mike Wazowski. Originally $12.95, now $3.99


If he had two eye’s he’d probably poke one out so as not to see this.

Speaking of Vinylmations, here is a a two pack featuring Marvel characters. Each comes with Loki along with another character. There is no one in the theme park community who loves Marvel more than I (I’ve been a comic book collector for much longer than I have been going to theme parks) but because of the standard Mickey Mouse mold these look a little too goofy for me. Originally $24.95 EACH, these were marked down to $6.99. I just realized that if you were going to collect these, the best case scenario is that you’ll end up with 16 Lokis and that’s the one character you can’t trade because everyone else will have him too.



Here are two of the characters from the Attractionistas line, which pretty much crosses Barbie with Monster High dolls. Each of the characters is based around an attraction and these two are for Space Mountain and Jungle Cruise. I think it’s a neat idea. I’d love to see GI Joe style action figures created for attractions. I’d be all over that. Originally $24.95, now $9.99.



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TouringPlansTV: Quick Date Ideas at Walt Disney World + Video

by on May 31, 2016

photo - touringplans.comWelcome back to TouringPlansTV!

Walt Disney World is a wonderful vacation destination for people of all ages. There are endless possibilities when it comes to enjoying time with your family.

Now every once in a while, you and your partner may find yourselves alone for a few “kid-free” hours.

What to do with all this extra free time?

Have no fear! With the help of family and friends, I’ve provided a list of quick date ideas to help you and your significant other make the most out of your time together.

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Surviving summer at Walt Disney World

by on May 30, 2016

I’ve literally sweated to get this blog post to you.

As the husband of a teacher, my family’s Disney vacations typically come during the summer months. The heat and crowds of June, July and August keep some away, but we’ve learned to love our summer trips.

While the summer crowds were once substantially heavier than other times of the year, Disney has managed, through events and promotions, to even those crowds out. So long wait times shouldn’t necessarily deter you from a summer trip. Wise use of FastPass+, crowd calendars and a good touring plan can greatly reduce the time you spend in lines. We find that by getting to the parks early, we can knock out a lot of attractions before the sun is straight overhead.

We’ve learned that summer has its advantages, too, such as longer park hours and fewer attractions down for refurbishment. Along the way, we’ve figured out a few tips and tricks that should help you if you’re currently preparing for your summer trek to Walt Disney World.

Midday getaway

The pool at Port Orleans French Quarter.

The pool at Port Orleans French Quarter.

If you think you’re going to be able to do the parks from rope drop to closing, think again. A key part of enduring a summer trip is planning for daily rest and relaxation at your resort when the parks are at their most crowded and hottest. If you’re trying to decide whether you’re going to stay on or off property, you’ll want to factor in the travel time of returning to your resort midday. Thanks to summer park hours being the longest of the year, you’ll still be able to accomplish plenty, even with spending a few hours at your resort.

Ideally, you’ll be able to hit a park at rope drop, head back to your resort after lunch, grab a quick nap or perhaps go for a swim. Then head back to a park refreshed and ready to enjoy more attractions and evening entertainment. This kind of touring is ideal for park hopping, where you can hit one park in the morning and another in the evening. You might even consider saving your FastPass+ reservations for your evening park on select days. The new Frozen attractions in Epcot’s Norway and the evening Kilimanjaro Safaris will be tough to get FastPasses for if you’re trying to add them the same day after you’ve used your three initial FastPasses. If you’ve never done Seven Dwarfs Mine Train during dusk or evening, it’s the best way to experience that final scene.

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SATURDAY SIX Looks at Our Favorite Shows That Went to Disney World (part 2)

by on May 28, 2016

To read part one of this grand adventure, which included a look a Boy Meets World, Step by Step, and Sabrina: The Teenage Witch, CLICK HERE.

Without further ado…

# 3 – Family Matters “We’re Going to Disney World”

Season 6, episodes 22 and 23

“Carl, I never told you this, but when your father was on his death bed he said to me, ‘I have only one regret. I never got to take little Carl to Disney World.’ Then he died”

“Wait a minute, Carl’s father’s died before that place was ever built.”

“Quiet, you want to go there, don’t you?” – Estelle and Harriet Winslow trying to convince Carl to go to WDW


Family Matters

Now this is one for the books.

By season six of Family Matters the show had completely transformed from a “working man’s version of the Cosby Show” into The Steve Urkel Show, for good or for bad. This episode started off with Steve Urkel coming into the Winslow household proclaiming that he was a finalist for the “national inventor’s contest” sponsored by “Amateur Innovation Weekly.” Watching these older shows make will make you appreciate how much better the reboots like Girls Meets World and Fuller House really are. Anyway, because Urkel was a finalist he was able to take as many people as he wanted with him to Florida. You just got to go with these things.

Our first stop was Disney’s Wilderness Lodge. Again, the resort was never mentioned by name but we did get to see several exterior shots and the gorgeous lobby. Then we were off to Innoventions in EPCOT, where Urkel’s “transformation” machine turned him from geeky Urkel to “cool” Stephan. Urkel’s assistant liked him better as Stephan, so she sabotaged the machine, keeping him stuck as Stephan until a replacement part could be flown in. The judges said they would reconvene in three days to decide a winner to the contest.


Wilderness Lodge!


Wilderness Lodge lobby.



One subplot of the show revolved around Carl Winslow. He had no interest in going to Disney World at first (until the incredible line from his grandmother that is quoted at the top), and even once he arrived still had very little “pixie dust.” However all that changed as soon as he walked through the turnstiles of the Magic Kingdom. Soon Carl was in love with Disney so much that he was ready to quit his job in Chicago and move the entire family to Florida.


Carl meets the characters on Main Street USA.

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SATURDAY SIX Looks at Our Favorite Shows That Went to Disney World

by on May 28, 2016

This week’s SATURDAY SIX looks at Six Of Our Favorite Shows That Went to Disney World. A while back  we took a look at the locations in Walt Disney World used in Thunder in Paradise; a camp classic “action” “adventure” show featuring Hulk Hogan in the mid ’90s. Most people, thankfully, haven’t seen Thunder, however they did catch many of sitcoms of that era who also made their way down to Florida.


Cory and Shawn get directions from Goofy at The American Adventure in EPCOT in Boy Meets World.

Now it should come as no surprise to anyone that all the shows featured aired on ABC, and all but one of them shortly after ABC merged with The Disney Company. This was corporate synergy in action. Many of our favorite shows (most part of the hugely successful T.G.I.F. lineup) went to the vacation kingdom of the world. Despite having all the sophistication of a Beetle Bailey comic strip, many people that are a certain age fondly remember these shows, including Your Humble Author. Today we are going to take a look at all the ABC shows that ventured to the House of Mouse and examine The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly of each. So sit back, try not to have Urkelbot flashbacks, and let’s start our countdown with…

# 6 – Boy Meets World “The Happiest Show on Earth.”

Season 3, episode 21

I don’t know. I mean I made a mistake. I thought we could be friends like you and I are but, you know when I see Topanga I want to hug her, hold her, kiss her. When I see you I have no interest in any of those things.” – Cory


Boy Meets World

Boy Meets World going to WDW is the best of times, and it is the worst of times. The charisma of everyone in the episode is off the charts and you can see why the show is so beloved. However the actual content of the show is little more than a ’90s version of Three’s Company, and by that I mean the entire episode hinges on a non-stop series of coincidences and people seeing things completely out of context. Now sitcoms aren’t generally known for Emmy-award winning writing, especially back then, but the episode could have been just three minutes long if any of the characters just talked to each other instead of letting people think the worst. It’s basically one of the reasons most people had a very negative reaction to the recent Batman v Superman movie.

With that out of the way, this Boy Meets World episode was a fun one. To get the characters down to WDW, schoolmates of Corey (the main character of Boy Meets World) wrote papers for the Environmental Essay Awards. The three winners just so happened to be Topanga (Corey’s ex-girlfriend), Ronnie (the lothario of the school known as “Lips”), and Kristin, a girl Corey had just dated and accidentally called “Topanga” after kissing. Knowing Topanga and Ronnie would be together down in Orlando, Corey’s friend Shawn hatched a scheme to get them down there as well. There was actually a wonderful moment where right before they announced the winners of the contest, Shawn finally turned in his essay. To cover for Corey, his brother Eric created a ridiculous looking dummy and planned a Weekend at Bernie’s situation. It works because it’s so ridiculous. Big thumbs up.


Overhead shot of EPCOT Center as seen in Boy Meets World.


Spaceship Earth.


Topanga and “Lips” ride Dumbo in Corey’s nightmare scenario. It also looks like the Carousel behind them is under refurbishment so interesting choice of shots to use by the producers.

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Video: Full Performance of the New Frozen Musical at Disney California Adventure

by on May 27, 2016

We uploaded video of a full performance of the new “Frozen – Live at the Hyperion” musical at Disney California Adventure. The video was recorded from the mezzanine level of the theater so you get the best view of the show’s impressive video projection effects. Be sure to subscribe to our YouTube page for more videos from Disneyland, Walt Disney World, and much much more.

Review of the New Frozen Musical at Disney California Adventure

by on May 27, 2016


Image © Disney

This is a review of the new Frozen Musical at Disney California Adventure, which I think is officially called “Frozen – Live at the Hyperion,” but I’ve also seen it referred to as “Frozen Live” in other news stories and on signs/billboards. The show replaces the Aladdin musical which ran in the same theater for a whopping 13 years, as well as spawned a Disney cruise ship show and Broadway production. Aladdin was a fan favorite and huge crowd pleaser, so many were curious to see the Frozen show would be a worthy replacement. The new show is directed by Liesl Tommy, whose previous production on Broadway was “Eclipsed.” I’m a dumb and uncultured Disney blogger, so I have no idea what that show is, but a Google search tells me it’s very popular with critics and audiences.

A huge change from Aladdin is Frozen’s use of projection effects, there’s a ton of them. There are projections everywhere, including on the walls of the stage, the curtains that surround half the theater, the floor, and even sometimes the actors themselves. Thankfully the use of all that technology never gets in the way, it complements the story. Some of the show’s most impressive moments are when projections show movement from one area to another. There’s one instance which starts off near the castle in Arendelle, but then flies up to a snow-covered mountain. I got a similar sensation as when riding Soarin’ Over California; it looks that good. The downside to the use of all the projections is the lack of physical props and sets. With the exception of Elsa’s ice stairs, a few doors, and some other smaller objects, almost everything else projected on to screens or shown on a huge LCD screen that is used as the backdrop of the stage.

Image © Disney

All those earworm songs you know and love from the multi-platinum movie soundtrack are in the new Frozen musical. Of course all of the songs sound great thanks to the incredibly talented cast. Even if you’ve sick to death of “Let it Go,” you’ll appreciate the show-stopping way it’s presented in the show. A huge frosty staircase appears from the back of the stage and then rotates and swings over the audience as Elsa is climbing up it and singing. While that is happening, swirling snow and wind effects fill the entire theater. It’s all very impressive.

Frozen – Live at the Hyperion clocks in at just over 55 minutes, which means you need to be ready to dedicate a good chunk of your day to see it. Currently there are only three showings per a day. FASTPASS tickets are distributed first come, first served, and we expect them to sell out quickly every morning for at least the rest of the year (they lasted about 1 hour today).  There is a stand-by line available, but you are not guaranteed entry if you wait in this line. I heard that only 3000 people daily (all day, not each show) will be admitted from it. FastPass ticket holders are allowed to line up 1 hour before the show they obtained a ticket for.

Overall Frozen is a very enjoyable show that looks great visually and is a worthy successor to the previous Aladdin show. Even if you’ve watched the movie DVD 1000 times, I consider the musical a must-see thanks to its dazzling effects and wonderful cast. Have you seen Frozen – Live at the Hyperion? What did you think of the show? Do you recommend it to other people? Let me know in the comments below.

DSC00024 - Copy

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In Case You Missed It: Disney News and Rumors – Week of May 27, 2016

by on May 27, 2016

ICYMIIt’s Memorial Day Weekend! Safe travels to those of you going places this weekend and remember those who proudly served our country this Memorial Day.

Who is seeing Alice Through the Looking Glass this weekend? Is this a film you are excited about?

This week, we have news about the fastest grossing film worldwide (guess which Disney film it is?), Chewbacca mom, and more! Let’s dive into the fun!

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


This year’s TEA report is out and most theme parks saw growth, even in spite of ticket increases.

STK Orlando has now opened at Disney Springs. Are you excited to try this restaurant?

Vacatia, an online time-share marketplace, has gotten been approved by Disney Vacation Club. Find out more.

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Washington, DC: Spend All Night in the Air and Space Museum

by on May 27, 2016

2016-04-02 at 17-16-55The Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum is turning 40 years old on July 1, 2016 and they are celebrating all night long. Beginning at 8pm on July 1, visitors can spend 12 straight hours inside the fascinating museum along with special guests and the unveiling of their new Boeing Milestones of Flight Hall. Here is some of what will be going on:

Launch Crew

This is a separately ticketed event costing $40 that will last from 8-10pm on July 1. Included in that price is a special program in the Moving Beyond Earth gallery, and a demonstration on what was done in the new Milestones of Flight hall. There will also be access to museum staff, special guests, and the all-important samplings of food and beverages. It is a 21-and-over event, so you can guess what some of the beverages will be.

Purchasing Launch Crew tickets also gets you guaranteed seating to the 10pm showing of Destination Moon, with live commentary by museum curators David DeVorkin and Layne Karafantis as well as Kevin Murphy of Mystery Science Theater 3000 fame. Tickets are on sale right now.

Opening Ceremony

For those not attending the Launch Crew party, the official opening will begin at 8:30pm outside on the spot where the building was first opened on July 1, 1976. Directly following the opening ceremony, the museum will be opened to the public: free of charge.

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Dining Review: More Disney Springs Quick Bites

by on May 27, 2016

Last week, we took a glance at a few of the newest dining additions to Disney Springs, and this week I visit two more new locations offering up quick service meals in the Landing and Marketplace sections. My first stop of the day was at B.B. Wolf’s Sausage Co. (cute name, right?) for a quick bite for lunch. The stand, located at the beginning of the new bridge just near T-Rex Café and the LEGO Store, opens at 11:00 AM (though on this day, they were a bit slow to open – it was nearly 11:15 AM by the time the windows opened for ordering). I was greeted by a friendly Cast Member who took my order for a Three Little Pigs (serious credit to the person in charge of all these puns – a cute themed nod without being ridiculously over the top). Just like at Daily Poutine, I was told to stand off to the side whilst waiting for my food, and that I’d be called as soon as it was ready.

After about ten minutes baking in the infernally hot summer sun (just like Daily Poutine – no shade around here), I received the most adorable cardboard tray of food ever. It was, admittedly, a little slow in service, but everything looked and smelled fantastic, so I wasn’t really upset by the wait. I opted to pass by the standing tables (like you see at Food & Wine) set up just across from B.B. Wolf’s and made a bee-line for the nearby shaded planters for some seating and a makeshift table; I later discovered this was a smoking area – it didn’t bother me, but something to keep in mind.

Unlike my cup of poutine, this wasn’t really eat-while-you-walk cuisine – the flimsy cardboard trays/plates make it difficult to transport this stuff very far, but after a few bites, I didn’t care about the transportability of my meal. The Three Little Pigs ($10.39) is a kind of sampler platter, with three smaller pork sausages wrapped in cut-down hot dog buns, each topped with a different set of accompaniments (though I found out from a Cast Member later in the day that you are welcome to request all three to be the same “flavor”, if you so choose). All three variations start with the same base sausage and bun, then differ only in the toppings. The sausage itself was mild in flavor, pork-based, not too fatty, and had a snappy casing – a perfect vehicle for nearly any savory accompaniment you could think of. The bun had been grilled to slightly crisp, and was decadently buttery and fluffy – definitely better than any standard Disney hot dog bun I’ve encountered.

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