Archive for August, 2017

Halloween Time Expands to Cars Land and Buena Vista Street in Fun Ways

by on August 31, 2017

Disney California Adventure is absolutely getting in on the Halloween fun this year. With the brand new mission on Guardians of the Galaxy: Mission BREAKOUT! called Guardians of the Galaxy – Monsters After Dark, as well as fun new decor for both Cars Land and Buena Vista Street, it’s sure to be a spooktacular time! With Halloween Time rapidly approaching (it starts on September 15), we have a brief glimpse at what Guests will be able to expect this year.

First, the main entryway for Disney California Adventure will be seeing some already announced Nightmare Before Christmas themed decor, but that’s not all. There will also be a new 10-foot-tall statue of the Headless Horseman of Sleepy Hollow! He will be holding his jack-o’-lantern head and will haunt Carthay Circle. If you’re a character fan, you’ll want to catch Mickey Mouse dressed as a bat, Goofy as a ghost, and Daisy Duck dressed as a witch. There will also be new, themed background music that further creates the appropriately eerie, but still fun, mood.


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Universal Orlando Resort Preview — Week of September 2

by on August 31, 2017

The Universal Orlando Preview is brought to you by Storybook DestinationsStorybook Destinations specializes in Disney and Universal travel, is consistently highly rated by our readers, and is owned by our own blogger extraordinaire, Tammy Whiting. Storybook also offers free subscriptions to TouringPlans to clients with qualified bookings.

Labor Day weekend….the unofficial end of summer is upon us! Let’s make the most of the time we have left and get out and have some fun!

Weekly Crowd Level

Look at these beautiful crowd levels! Hello, back to school! Detailed crowd level information can be found here.

Weekly Weather Report

Check out the latest weather forecast here.

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Julia’s Best Week Ever, August 31, 2017: It’s Halloween Everybody?

by on August 31, 2017

Unless one very lucky reader out there is the one that won PowerBall last week, most of us probably are looking at our tickets and thinking “That’s okay, I usually don’t win anything anyhow.” Last week, I saw a Disney Parks Blog contest for tickets to the first Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party of the year, and so I entered expecting my chances to be about equal to that of PowerBall. Well, luck was with me for that! I won tickets for two….for my family of three. (Awkward.) A few credit card charges later, I had tickets for the third in my party, and our “free” Halloween Party and dessert party was set (for a cost of $150). We had gone last year just to the party and had a blast, but were planning to skip this year. I really can’t turn down a chance to go to this party, though. Feel free to tag along… if we can have Christmas in July, why not Halloween in August, right?

This was the scene when we arrived. An unnamed tropical system (not related to the devastating effects of Harvey) had been sitting over Florida for several days, and so storm clouds were solidly predicted for this night as well. Still, we decided to press on, as it had been rainy when we went last year and miraculously cleared right at the start of the party. Besides, how can you not be excited seeing those giant inflatable pumpkins on the autoplaza?

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Walt Disney World Preview — Week of September 2

by on August 31, 2017

If you’ve never visited Walt Disney World when the crowds are at a 1 (yes, I said a one), now’s the time to do it. Read on for news, park hours, and more!

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The Magic, The Memories, and Merch! AUGUST 2017 Photo Report of the Disney Outlet Store

by on August 31, 2017

Welcome to the latest edition of The Magic, The Memories, and Merch! the longest running monthly look at the Disney Outlet Stores in Orlando. Outlet Intern Julia Mascardo, secret shopper Daisy Lauren and I found a whole bunch of neat items this month including Adventureland Tsum Tsums, next level bonkers coffee cups based on Fantasy Football, and a Dapper Dan nutcracker (like we could make that up.)

Ready to see what we else we found? Alright, let’s go!

Disney spent a long time on the creation of the Rivers of Light show at Animal Kingdom, and while the show itself isn’t drawing the rave reviews The Mouse was looking for, it did bring with it a whole bunch of great merchandise. Between the food & drink components, the awesome Rivers of Light soundtrack, and the other items at the gift shops, no other show at WDW comes close to touching the merch quality of Rivers of Light. Some of those items – all of which actually debuted well before Rivers of Light because the show got delayed so long – made their way to the Outlets this month.

First up is the E-Ticket Lotus popcorn bucket. This is hands-down the best popcorn bucket the American parks have ever made. It looks incredible, holds a giant amount of popcorn (have you seen the 10 kernels of popcorn that the Star Wars Tie-Fighter popcorn bucket holds?), and actually has an led lighting feature. The other two items also light up and they were both souvenir cups. The “adult” one resemble a stein, while the “kid” version was like a lantern which you could actually collapse.  I bought all three of these when they came out at the parks, so of course it drove me insane to see them at the Outlets, but good for all of you (he begrudgingly wrote).

(photo by Captain Cruiseline himself, @TheDCLBlog)

I really liked these Mad Tea Party coffee cups. May actually make my top six all time Disney coffee cups. Originally $19.99, now $5.99.

Mad Tea Party cups. (photo by Daisy Lauren)

Also a big fan of these Mickey and Minnie cups that came out during the Flower and Garden Festival. I believed they arrived late though because these probably would have flew off the shelves if they were offered throughout the Festival. Originally $14.95, now $5.99.

Mickey and Minnie (photo by Julia Mascardo)

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Quick Tips and Picks for the 2017 Epcot Food and Wine Festival

by on August 30, 2017


The 2017 Epcot International Food and Wine Festival is finally here! Are you excited? Overwhelmed by all the options? I’m right there with you, but as Touring Plans’ resident food reviewer, I’m here to help you navigate all the menus and the festival itself over the next 75(!) days. We’ve already sent many of you down the planning rabbit hole a few weeks ago, when all the festival menus were released.

Today, I’m offering up a few tips I’ve acquired over years of festival snacking. Then, I’ll help point you towards a few highlights at the festival by grouping over 50 dishes by the most popular themes you, our readers, ask about every year! Check out each category listed below, with quick links to that section of the article. To whet your appetite, I’ve included photos of some dishes from previous years’ festivals (of course, they may look slightly different in 2017… we’ll see soon!).

The Tips
The Food
Classics For Food & Wine Festival First-Timers
Family-Friendly Bites Perfect for Picky Eaters
Must-Do Desserts
New Items That Sound Like Winners
Dishes Aimed Towards Adventurous Eaters
Vegetarian Dishes Perfect for All Palates
Gluten-Friendly Treats
Can’t-Miss Specialty Drinks


The Tips


Even for well-seasoned festival-goers, the ever-growing Food & Wine Festival can be a bear to conquer. With so many options, so little time (and money!), and heat and humidity coming into play, there are a few tried and true strategies to guarantee success without going broke or missing out on your favorites:

  • Do: Set a budget. It’s ridiculously easy to sink $100 into Food & Wine dishes in less than a few hours, if you’re not careful. Set a realistic limit for what you want to spend and stick to it. To help, each menu featured here at Touring Plans includes the prices for items after they are revealed on festival day one.
  • Do: Make a plan for all your must-do dishes, so you don’t run out of stomach space or money before you hit the back of World Showcase. Speaking of planning…
  • Don’t: Start your snacking at the front of World Showcase. Just like with touring a park, you’ll want to avoid the first booths you see in order to optimize your waits in line. I won’t tell you to go all the way to the back of World Showcase and work your way forward, either – this is a very common strategy nowadays. Your best bet, in my estimation, is to start with a popular booth on either side of World Showcase – France, China, Canada, Belgium, and Germany are always solid bets for long lines that will only grow longer as the day progresses.
  • Do: Pace yourself. Even if you only have one day to snack around the festival, it’s definitely best to take it slow, especially in the early, hottest days of the festival. Speaking of heat…
  • Don’t: Forget to hydrate! Even if you aren’t partaking in any alcohol, Epcot in August and September heat is brutally hot midday. Take advantage of the bottled water sold at booths, or better yet, grab a free cup of ice water from quick service locations in Mexico, Japan, Norway, China, and the American Adventure.

Finally, probably my most controversial tip, but after a few years of experience with marathon Food and Wine days, is definitely the key to success:

  • Do: Eat breakfast. I know, I know, this sounds ridiculous. Why eat breakfast before going to Epcot to snack all day? Why? It’s simple – you need to fuel your long day of walking around in the heat somehow, and if you plan to drink any alcohol, this will ensure you are starting your day off on the right foot. I’m not suggesting a character breakfast buffet, to be sure – just make sure you grab something before heading out to the park for the day.

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Ask It: How Many People Really Fit in a Value Room?

by on August 30, 2017

Last week, we showed you what the newly refurbished rooms look like at Pop Century. With their small room size and either double beds, or the Murphy bed/table combination in rooms with queen-size beds, any way you slice it, you have to be pretty good friends or family that likes each other to put the maximum number of people in a room at a value hotel. Are the occupancy limits for a Value room accurate to how many people will fit in there comfortably, or is it like serving sizes on a bag of chips, where the numbers don’t work for most people’s reality. So this week we’re asking you:

Value resorts theoretically sleep 4 (+1 infant in a pack ‘n’ play), but how many people do you comfortably sleep in a Value room?

  • 4 (40%, 181 Votes)
  • 2 (34%, 155 Votes)
  • 3 (24%, 111 Votes)
  • 1 (2%, 7 Votes)

Total Voters: 454

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Voting is open here and on Twitter.

Do you have any tips to maximize the comfort for everyone staying in a room or the use of the limited space? Got any horror stories or success stories about your Value resort stays? Let us know in the comments. We’ll have your results next week!


Ask It Results: Can You Take the Heat?

by on August 30, 2017

Summer in Florida is hot. Summer in Florida is HOT. Summer In Florida Is Hot. Any way you write it, you can’t deny its truth. For Floridians, we tend to stay inside between the hours of 10 AM and 4 PM through the summer months, but when you’re on a vacation at Walt Disney World, there’s a perception that you’re losing valuable vacation time by hanging out inside some sort of air conditioned location for the bulk of the day. Because of this, a simple solution would be to avoid taking trips in the summer. Yet, with school schedules, vacationing at times other than summer can be tricky. It’s a balancing act. So last week, we asked you:

Have your experiences with (or fear of) Florida summer temperatures caused you to avoid summer trips to Walt Disney World?

Here’s your results.

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Disney Testing Pre-Order Service at All Star Music

by on August 30, 2017

Disney is testing a new pre-order service at Intermission Food Court, the quick service location at All Star Music. This service is currently offered for breakfast, lunch, and dinner at All Star Music only. The other All Star resorts (Sports and Movies) are not testing pre-orders, nor are the other value resorts, Pop Century and Art of Animation. This service is different from mobile ordering through MyDisneyExperience.

To use the service, pick up any grab and go items you want, place your order with the cashier, pay, and take a pager. You can then grab a table, cutlery, napkins, and any fountain beverages you ordered. When your food is ready, the pager goes off and you collect your order at the pizza pickup window.

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The Best of Walt Disney World for Grade School Kids

by on August 29, 2017

Welcome back to Part 3 of my blog series – The Best of Walt Disney World! In case you missed it, over the next several weeks, I’ll be sharing with you the top picks in attractions for various groups of travelers visiting the Walt Disney World theme parks. So far we’ve discussed favorites for babies and preschoolers. Next up are those fun-loving pirates and princesses, grade school kids (ages 6-12). When checking out the list, keep in mind each attraction that made the cut scored at least four stars by the grade school kids surveyed. Come on, everybody, here we go!

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