TouringPlansTV: Disney’s Wilderness Lodge Resort Part 2 + Video

by on October 11, 2016

Photo - TouringPlans.comWelcome back to TouringPlansTV!

Today is Part 2 of Disney’s Wilderness Lodge Resort. I’ll be discussing Dining, Transportation and Amenities.

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Booking and Flying Southwest Airlines

by on September 20, 2016

Anytime I discuss travel that involves flying, I love to mention Southwest Airlines as an option. They’re sometimes easy to forget since their prices typically don’t appear on search engines like Kayak or Google Flights (both are great tools for comparing flight prices by the way!). But as one of the largest airlines flying in and out of Orlando International Airport, Southwest Airlines is an excellent option when planning a Walt Disney World vacation. Because their offering is so different from many of the other major airlines (low fares, no bag fees, and no assigned seats), I thought we’d take some time to talk about what it’s like to book and fly Southwest Airlines. If you’re lucky, I may even add some tips and tricks I’ve learned along the way, so let’s get started!

This chart from explains the differences between fares

This chart from explains the differences between fares

Booking: Online booking is incredibly easy. You plug in your starting airport, your destination, date or dates (depending on whether you’re purchasing one-way or round trip), and the number of people. On the next screen, you’ll see three different prices for all the flights available for those dates: Business Select, Anytime, and Wanna Get Away.

From this page, you can also click on other dates near the dates you originally selected to check their prices as well, or you can access the Low Fare Calendar.

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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.



TSA Pre✓® – The FastPass+ for Airport Security

by on August 15, 2016


(Image copyright Transportation Security Administration)

You are all excited about your trip to a Disney Resort, but you have one last hurdle in your way – getting there. For many of us this means flying, and the only thing worse than being crammed into a plane filled with overexcited, hyperactive children and stressed-out parents is standing in a seemingly endless airport security line with those same people. However, there is a way to avoid these lines – TSA Pre✓®.

OK, so what is TSA Pre®?

This is a program set up by the Transportation Security Administration to do advance background checks on passengers to make the security checks go faster. Once you have your TSA Pre✓® approval, you get to go through a faster security line (in June 2016, 95% of members waited 5 minutes or less), and you don’t have to remove your shoes, laptops, 3-1-1 liquids, belts and light jackets. TSA Pre✓® is available at over 180 airports for passengers of 16 airlines, so you can use it pretty much anywhere you are flying. 

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Disney’s Magical Express FAQ

by on April 26, 2016

Disney’s Magical Express is a service that provides free bus transportation to and from Orlando International Airport and Disney’s resort hotels, for guests staying at those hotels. While the word “FREE” always sounds good, there may be some situations where using Magical Express does not make sense. There are also some tips and tricks that can make your Magical Express experience better if you do choose to use it. Here’s what you need to know.

Sign up for Magical Express when you make your room reservation.

Sign up for Magical Express when you make your room reservation.

Who can use Disney’s Magical Express?

Registered guests of Disney-owned hotels are eligible for Magical Express Service. These hotels are:

  • Art of Animation
  • All-Star Movies, Music, & Sports
  • Animal Kingdom Lodge & Villas, Jambo & Kidani
  • Beach Club & Villas
  • BoardWalk & Villas
  • Fort Wilderness Cabins & Campgrounds
  • Caribbean Beach
  • Contemporary & Bay Lake Tower Villas
  • Coronado Springs
  • Grand Floridian
  • Old Key West
  • Polynesian Village
  • Pop Century
  • Port Orleans French Quarter & Riverside
  • Saratoga Springs
  • Wilderness Lodge & Villas
  • Yacht Club

But I’m staying at the Swan! Isn’t that on Disney property? Don’t I qualify for Magical Express?

Sorry, no. While the Swan, Dolphin, Shades of Green, and a few Disney Springs area hotels are quite close to the action, only guests staying at the hotels actually owned by Disney qualify for free Magical Express transportation.

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The SATURDAY SIX News Desk: A Look at Recent Stories From Disney, Universal, and SeaWorld

by on March 19, 2016

This week’s SATURDAY SIX is undoubtedly a special one as we once again dust off the blue blazer and step behind the SATURDAY SIX News Desk. It has been a whirlwind of theme park related news lately. Our long national nightmare is over as purple MagicBands are available for your WDW resort stay, Disney started a new subscription service themed to the Haunted Mansion for the low low price of just $200 (oh, and it has already sold out), the Orlando Eye did its first baby reveal, and a worker at Art of Animation was caught on video using a dirty mop to clean a table. That was just the tip of the iceberg.

So – as usual – we took a page out of our old college playbook, chugged down a case of 5 Hour Energy, and pulled an all-nighter, cramming as much information as we could into our tiny brains so that we could report back to you, Dear Reader, with all the relevant facts (and before we forget it all tomorrow). So sit back, know that you are getting all the news that’s fit to print (and plenty more that’s not), and let’s begin our countdown starting with…

# 6 – That sound you hear? KONG IS COMING.

As Donald Trump would say, it was a yuge week of King Kong news over at the Universal Orlando Resort. As theme park merchandise fanatics, we loved that a whole bunch of new merch arrived for the upcoming Skull Island: Reign of Kong attraction. Then, Universal dropped a bombshell with their reveal of the incredible ride vehicles along with a couple other tasty tidbits: This would be Universal’s first trackless ride system, and the vehicles would be “driven” by one of five characters. While Universal hasn’t released an official opening of the attraction yet, we have a sneaking suspicion we may hear something around the time the Syfy show Face Off features an entire episode (the season finale no less) dedicated to creating characters for the attraction. Stay tuned Wednesday, March 30th at 9PM EST on Syfy.


Universal’s Kong is almost here, but Disney has Avatar and Star Wars in the near future…. (photo by Matt Cleary)

# 5 – SeaWorld Admits to Ordering Employees to Spy on Animal Rights Groups

Readers of the SATURDAY SIX may remember one of  last year’s annual Turkeys of the Year awards went to a SeaWorld employee who was caught spying on the animal rights group PeTA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals). At the time, SeaWorld management was shocked, SHOCKED at this behavior and put out the story that the employee had gone rogue. Fast forward to this month and during another disastrous investor’s conference, SeaWorld CEO Joel Manby admitted that employees did go undercover in animal rights groups and, more importantly, did so per order of the company.

Believe it or not this was the most “wow” SeaWorld story of the week until the atomic bomb the company dropped Thursday morning announcing they were ending the breeding of Killer Whales and will also be ending all the theatrical shows featuring orcas (to be replaced by exhibits).


Disguised as famous YouTube personality Tim Tracker, Shamu himself was able to go completely unnoticed within the PeTA ranks. (photo by Michael Sheehy)

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Washington, D.C. – How to Use the Metro (Subway)

by on March 10, 2016

2016-02-13 at 08-36-27As a major U.S. city, Washington can be a little overwhelming to new visitors. One of the ways to make it more manageable, though, is by utilizing the D.C. subway system–called the Metro. Using the Metro, however, can itself be intimidating, especially to visitors who do not have a mass public transportation option in their hometown. Fear not intrepid readers, the Metro is fairly easy to understand and, after reading this guide, you will surely be riding like a local.

What Is the Metro

Okay, technically the Metro system is all bus and rail under the authority of WMATA (Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority), but whenever someone says “the Metro,” they mean the subway. Of course, the Metro isn’t always underground either. Once it gets out of the urban areas, it often pops its head out and begins to scamper above ground.

Metro gets a lot of grief from locals, and as a former local I certainly shared in that grief quite often. The system has frequent delays, occasional mechanical issues, and seemingly constant escalator and elevator outages. On top of that, the weekend track work and station entrance closures can make a well-designed plan meaningless. Even with all that, now that I am no longer a Metro-commuting local I can step back and compare it with other cities subway systems more easily.

The result: It’s not bad. In fact, it’s pretty darn good. Yes, all of the problems listed in the above paragraph are real, forever annoying, and–if you have to ride it every day–maddening. Luckily, as tourists to Washington, we do not have to deal with the Metro’s flaws every day so can take it for what it is, a very efficient way to move about a very congested city. I’m not alone in this either, Smart Asset recently did a statistical analysis of major U.S. cities’ public transportation and concluded that D.C.’s was the best. (Much to the derision of locals, by the way.)

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Tips on Tipping at Walt Disney World: Transportation, Restaurants, Hotels, and More

by on March 4, 2016

IMG_9618-1-300x200-300x200A frequent area of confusion for Disney guests is the topic of tipping. International guests may be unfamiliar with American tipping in general. There are some Disney travel situations where guests tip differently than at other travel destinations. And some folks are just plain miffed that they have to tip at all. Nonetheless, gratuities are a part of life when you travel in the United States.

To answer all your Disney World tipping questions in one place, here’s an overview of all the situations where you have to tip, and where you don’t have to tip, on your Disney vacation.



Disney table service restaurants provide information about tipping.

Disney table service restaurants provide information about tipping.


    • Luggage Handling: At the airport, at your hotel, and throughout your trip, you should tip anyone who handles your luggage for you in your presence. The rule of thumb is that you tip about a dollar per bag, or two dollars if the bag is extra heavy. Round up, and don’t ask the porter or valet for change. If you’re claiming your bags yourself at the airport carousel and taking them to a cab, rental car agency, limo service, or Magical Express bus on you own, then you won’t need to tip anyone while you’re in the airport. If you use a porter to assist you with moving your bags from the luggage carousel to ground transportation, then you tip the porter. If you’re at a Disney hotel and using their Resort Airline Check-In service, tip the luggage handler their just as you would a porter at the airport. If hotel bellman assists with bringing your bags to/from your room, tip a dollar or two per bag. If a hotel bellman also provides you with a resort tour or other help, tip a bit extra. If you’re looking to economize, you can avoid a lot of tipping if you transport your bags yourself. This may not be feasible for guests with medical challenges, copious amounts of luggage, more small children than adults, or owners of non-wheeled luggage. However, if you’re able-bodied and each member of your party can handle their own rolling bag, then by all means deal with your own luggage and circumvent the tip stream. This is an easy way to save cash.
    • Transportation, Magical Express Drivers: You’ll see a sign at the front of the bus telling you that driver will accept tips. If you’re just hopping off and on the bus, you shouldn’t feel obligated. However, if the driver is helping your store luggage under the bus, go by the dollar per bag rule. If you’ve used the yellow Magical Express luggage tags and had Disney take your bags directly to the hotel for you, then you won’t see the person who’s doing your luggage transport. In this situation, you’re off the hook for tipping.
    • Transportation, Limo or Town Car Drivers: Depending on the agency you’re using, the tip may be included in the price. Be sure to ask this when you set up your booking. In general, plan to tip about 15% of the fare. If the driver has done something extraordinary for you, such as making an extra stop or assisting with car seats or colossal amounts of luggage, tip more.

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    Trivia Tuesday: Why Stay at a Walt Disney World Resort Hotel? + Video

    by on January 5, 2016

    Copyright 2010 Claire NatI can’t wait to delve in to this week’s Trivia Tuesday topic!

    Why should you stay at a Walt Disney World Resort hotel?

    Have any ideas for future Trivia Tuesday’s? Write ’em down in the comments!

    A look into the future: Walt Disney World 2025 – part 2

    by on December 13, 2015

    A lot can change in 10 years. In part one of our peer into the future of the Walt Disney World resort, we looked at changes in the theme parks and ticketing (hint: ticket prices will rise). In part two, we look at the resort hotels, Disney Springs, and Disney transportation, which has a more exciting future than you might imagine. We know that the Disney company is planning to develop more land on property, due to this report on a request to increase the amount of land it will restore on its preserve to offset wetlands development. Ultimately, any additions will be focused on accommodating ever-increasing crowds and growing revenue.

    Photo Courtesy Brian McNichols

    Expect more well-themed value and moderate resorts in the image of Art of Animation. (Photo Courtesy Brian McNichols)

    New resort hotels: Rising attendance and demand will continue to drive the development of new resort hotels in Disney’s never-ending quest to keep as many travelers in the Disney bubble as possible. Recently, high-end additions such as the Polynesian bungalows have stirred talk that Disney is catering to the “1 percent,” and neglecting middle-class travelers. To counter that notion, future development will include well-themed value or moderate resorts along the lines of Disney’s Art of Animation. The new resorts will offer more variety in room sizes, responding to a demand for larger family suites. As more “Star Wars” sequels are released, a Star Wars-themed resort will  capitalize on the success of Star Wars Land and become an attraction that draws visitors beyond the parks. The success of Pandora-The World of Avatar expands attendance at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, creating demand for additional rooms near that park. Perhaps an Asian theme would complement the African-themed Animal Kingdom Lodge, though likely without the live animals of that resort. Alternately, if next year’s animated feature “Zootopia” is a big hit, Disney may opt for a more cartoony version of an animal-themed resort.

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