Archive for August, 2016

10 Frequently Asked Questions About Travel Insurance for Your Disney Cruise

by on August 26, 2016

If only I had a dollar for every question I get about travel insurance!  Well I might just be able to pay for another cruise.  A short 3-night cruise in the off season in an inside cabin, but still.  Insurance is a mysterious creature.  Coverage is hardly ever cut and dry, and there are reasons for that.  And it’s not cheap!  Trust me, I understand it’s painful to pay for something you may or may not ever use.  In fact, you are paying for something we hope you never have to use!  I can’t tell you what to do, but maybe I can help you approach the insurance choice for your Disney cruise from a more informed place.  Here are 10 frequently asked questions!

1C4A28351. Should I Get It? – My answer here is an unequivocal yes. Yes yes yes. I’ll be honest, the odds are overwhelming that you aren’t going to need it. But, oh if you do. I’ll spare you the full retelling of the story of my healthy mother coming down with pneumonia on a Greek Isles cruise a few years ago. But, needless to say, her insurance bills were over $5,000, and they almost made her stay in a hospital in Athens which could have multiplied that bill by 10. If not more. here are so many other stories of a child’s appendix unexpectedly rupturing in Mexico (and really does it ever expectedly rupture?), a teenager breaking an arm in port, stories of people missing the ship because their flight was delayed, etc. etc. etc..

I even used my trip insurance one time to get reimbursed for having to spend the night in Seattle when weather prevented us from getting to Vancouver from Colorado for an Alaskan cruise. That was in May. No snow, no storms, just a windy day! Just remember, a cruise isn’t like a normal vacation where you can just go a day late should travel delays or weather occur. If you miss the ship, you miss your vacation! Insurance is important for so many reasons on a cruise.

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New Bus Service Available From Theme Parks to Disney Springs

by on August 25, 2016

©Rikki Niblett

©Rikki Niblett

Can I say thank goodness?!

Beginning on August 28, Guests will be able to take a bus from any of the four Walt Disney World theme parks directly to Disney Springs. Bus service will be available to the shopping and dining complex from 4:00 p.m. until 11:00 p.m. (or two hours after park close, whichever comes first.)

Keep in mind that this is a one-way only service that goes from the theme parks to Disney Springs; you cannot take a bus directly to one of the four parks. For those needing to go to one of the parks from Disney Springs, the current process will continue where Guests will need to take a bus to a Walt Disney World Resort Hotel first.

This is a huge change that will make it much easier for you to get to Disney Springs and enjoy the new great offerings, as well as some of your favorites from the past.

 

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Daisy’s Best Week Ever August 25, 2016: Magic Kingdom, and Epcot, and DISNEYLAND. Oh my!

by on August 25, 2016

Hello, my lovebugs! I’m so excited to be able to share this week with you. Hopefully I’ll be getting back into rotation with the team moving forward, so we’ll be seeing a lot more of each other! This week I visited the Magic Kingdom, Epcot, and had a surprise two night adventure at Disneyland. (I know, right??) So let’s get started with one of my favorite views in the Magic Kingdom.

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I know, it’s a bathroom, but doesn’t it look majestic? Of course, I was excited to see anything after 67 days away from the parks. We decided to downgrade to silver passes this year and while I had a couple of tough days missing my “home” over the summer, it was overall a positive experience. I think we’ll continue with passes at this level in future years. What would you do? Do you think we’re crazy skipping the summer and peak holidays? Let me know in the comments.

There’s so much more to see – click to read more. 🙂

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World of Color Dessert Party Review

by on August 24, 2016

WoC_Dessert_Party (8)On a recent visit to Disneyland my wife and I decided to splurge a little and try out the World of Color Dessert Party at Disney’s California Adventure. Much like the Wishes Dessert Party at the Magic Kingdom, it is an opportunity for reserved seating and snacks to a popular nighttime spectacular. Of course, this all comes at a price–and what a price–so let’s start there.

Cost and Reservations

I’m not going to dance around this: it costs $79 per person. That includes tax and gratuity, but $79 is the price for both adults and children. That means my family of 4 had to pay $316 for this opportunity. Later I’ll discuss whether I think it even remotely approaches a good value and after I finish writing this I’ll research tax exclusions and the warning signs of financial stress-related heart problems.

When you book the dessert party, full prepayment is required. It can still be cancelled without penalty up to 24 hours before the reservation, but it must be paid in full upon making the reservation. If there are two World of Color showings in one evening, the dessert party is only offered for the first one.

WoC_Dessert_Party (5)Location, Seating, and Arrival

Now that we’ve gotten through the worst of it (the cost), let’s discuss the best of it. The site for the dessert party is on the second tier, right in the center of the viewing area. It actually is behind the best, front-and-center viewing spot reserved for those with the dining package, but that’s not the whole of it.

If you get dining package reservations, you are in the best section, but it is a deep area and all standing room only. Therefore, if you’re not waiting to enter at least 60 minutes before the show you will be packed in behind many other people. The dessert party is raised slightly above the dining package area so the effects are fairly easily seen above their heads.

I’m slow-rolling the best part here, though: everyone at the dessert party is seated. Yes, you can sit at your table in relative comfort looking above the heads of other guests. It does inflate the ego a bit. Specifically, the party area is a long section with two rows of tables–some high tops and some low. Where you sit is based somewhat on when you arrive.

WoC_Dessert_Party (6)For instance, we arrived at the check-in area around 8pm–one hour before the World of Color scheduled show time. The reservation when we booked was for 8:15pm, but it also tells you to arrive an hour before the show, so we’re starting off a little confused. When we got there at 8, we were behind a handful of groups already waiting.

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Adding Extra Disney Magic: Tinker Bell Gifts

by on August 24, 2016

Tinker Bell Gifts

Tinker Bell Gifts

Imagine with me, if you will, a parent’s paradise in Walt Disney World. No, not that one where you ditch the kids and head over to the Adventurers Club at Pleasure Island (RIP). The other one. The one where the kids wake up bright and early, brimming with excitement to start their day. No whining about getting up early for rope drop, no nagging for that $16 autograph pen from the gift shop, and absolutely no fighting between siblings. Sound too good to be true? Maybe. But it certainly doesn’t hurt to aim high! So let’s talk about how Tinker Bell gifts can not only encourage good behavior but also add an extra touch of Disney magic while simultaneously helping you save money on souvenirs.

Note from Tinker Bell

Note from Tinker Bell

What are they?

For those who haven’t heard of them, Tinker Bell gifts are small presents you leave in the room for the kids in your group. They can be left overnight for discovery in the morning (like a Disney version of Santa), or if you can find a way to sneak back into the room without the kids noticing, you can leave them as a surprise for when they return from the parks. Typically, the gifts are accompanied by a note explaining the gift and who gave it.

Though they are called Tinker Bell gifts by most people, if you think the child(ren) in your party would be more excited about a letter from Rey (Star Wars) thanking them for their help with the Resistance than a note from Tinker Bell, then this is the time to get creative. Personally, I like to leave a note that includes four things: a quick mention of the fun from the prior day, an itinerary for the current day, an explanation of the gift, and a reminder to be well behaved. On a recent trip with younger relatives of mine, each note was written by a different character and tied into whatever the kids would be doing at the parks that day.

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Change in Wheelchair Rentals Now Offered at Disney’s Water Parks

by on August 23, 2016

Water Parks - Typhoon Lagoon

©Disney

It appears that Disney is making a change to their wheelchair rentals that are available at their water parks. These rentals, which are available at Singapore Sal’s at Typhoon Lagoon and at the Beach Haus at Blizzard Beach, will now cost $12 a day. It is also required that Guests leave a $100 refundable deposit which will be returned upon the return of the rental. This wheelchair rental is able to be transferable across the parks, with a receipt, as long as they are available.

This change is being done in an effort to align with the options available at Guest Services found at Disney’s theme parks, at Disney Springs, and at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex.

In addition to wheelchairs, a limited number of ECV rentals will continue to be available for $50 with a $100 refundable deposit.

Make sure to keep this change in mind should you need to rent a wheelchair at one of Disney’s water parks going forward.

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TouringPlansTV: Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort

by on August 23, 2016

photo - Touringplans.comWelcome back to TouringPlansTV!

If you’re a fan of both Disney and the outdoors, I have just the place for you…

Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort!

Located at Walt Disney World, you’ll find both cabins and campsites to best fit your needs.

Enjoy!

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Disney Hacks #5: In-Park Personal Tech

by on August 23, 2016

disney-hacksConfession: I am a bit of a gear head. I love gadgetry and I’m always eager to try out the next tech marvel at the earliest possible opportunity. Indeed, Arthur C. Clarke once said that “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic,” and one of the reasons I enjoy Disney and Universal theme parks so much is the open display of bleeding edge technology to create things that seem legitimately magical.  

At Disney parks, however, technology is leaping from the attractions into the palm of your hand. Read on to find out more about how to best use your personal tech to make the most out of your Disney trip with the latest installment of Disney Hacks!

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Disneyland vs. Disney World: The Magic Kingdom and Disneyland Park Part II

by on August 22, 2016

castlesAs I’ve said before in this Disneyland vs. Disney World series, Disney never does the same thing twice! It’s a common misconception that Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom and the Disneyland Park are basically the same experience but on different coasts. That is absolutely not true! Even though Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom was inspired after the original Disneyland Park, it was never intended to be a carbon copy. Both parks offer their own exclusive attractions, restaurants, character interactions, style, and overall experience. Of course, that gives rise to the question of which park is truly the best? That’s the question I intend to answer in perhaps the most ambitious installment of Disneyland vs. Disney World: The Magic Kingdom and Disneyland Park Part II.

Due to the scope of this topic, this article has been split into two parts. Disneyland vs. Disney World: The Magic Kingdom and Disneyland Park Part I compared the two parks on categories such as characters, attractions, and dining. This second installment will compare the different themed lands represented at both parks and determine which one is best!

disneylandfiredept

Walt’s Lantern Above the Disneyland Fire Department

Main Street, U.S.A. :

Everyone loves their Main Street, U.S.A. I know it’s the land I miss most when I’m not at the parks. The problem with comparing the two is that they are each unique and my favorite tends to depend on my mood. Seriously, my pick could be different by tomorrow! Anyway, let’s begin with the first thing guests seen when approaching either park, the train stations.

Mayor Weaver of Main Street, U.S.A.

Mayor Weaver of Main Street, U.S.A. will be happy to give you a handshake and a business card

The Magic Kingdom’s Train Station is two stories high, spacious, and also symmetrical in comparison to Disneyland’s. It hosts the morning Welcome Show and offers fantastic seating for the parades and fireworks. Disneyland’s Train Station is more quaint and resembles a station that would have existed for an actual small town. It also serves as a stage for entertainment too.

Once guests enter the park, they find themselves at Town Square. Disneyland’s doesn’t seem as big as the Magic Kingdom’s, but it offers a park-like atmosphere with more trees and benches and its Main Street Vehicles operate into the afternoon while the Magic Kingdom’s only run a few hours in the morning. Disneyland’s Town Square is also rich with history due to The Disneyland Story presenting Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln at the Opera House and the lamp burning in the window of Walt’s private apartment at the fire house. But I can’t fail to mention that Magic Kingdom’s Harmony Barber Shop, where guests can actually get haircuts with a touch of pixie dust!

USA_MainStreetUsa_Sperduto

Magic Kingdom’s Main Street, U.S.A.

Now the Magic Kingdom offers the best view down Main Street, U.S.A. due to the size of Cinderella Castle, and the whole street has a slightly grander and more ornate look than Disneyland’s. Although, I think Disneyland’s storefronts boast a bit more personality, inside and out, and I appreciate their few unique, specialized shops. I also believe that Disneyland’s Main Street dining options are a little better too. I love the Market House Starbucks, the menu at Carnation Café, and everything at the Jolly Holiday Bakery Café. But I do prefer the setting and character experience at the Magic Kingdom’s Crystal Palace, as well as Casey’s Corner menu and theme, compared to Disneyland’s The Plaza Inn and Refreshment Corner respectively. Lastly, I think the Magic Kingdom’s Main Street, U.S.A. does just a little better when it comes to entertainment due to the charming Main Street Trolley Show and Main Street, U.S.A. Actors.

Overall, I’m giving this category to Disneyland, but just barely! Disneyland’s dining, Town Square, and history just put it over the top, even though it’s difficult to beat that postcard view down the Magic Kingdom’s Main Street, U.S.A.

Winner: Disneyland Park

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Disney World Crowd Calendar Report – July 31 to Aug 6, 2016

by on August 22, 2016

Walt Disney World Crowd Calendar Report

How Crowded Was Disney World Last Week?

This year, crowds at Walt Disney World for the first week of August lagged behind historical averages mostly due to inclement weather. Sunday through Tuesday saw crowds a couple points lower than expected while Wednesday through Sunday saw some of the shortest lines we have seen in 2016. Crowds last year varied between a level ‘7’ and ‘9’ and the Disney World Crowd Calendar predicted slightly higher crowd levels this year.

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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