Walt Disney World (FL)

Epcot International Festival of the Arts Overview + Video

by on January 9, 2018

It’s January, which means the Epcot International Festival of the Arts is just around the corner!

Click the video below to learn all about this aesthetic event.

Is it super obvious that I googled artistic synonyms” to come up with the word, aesthetic? Let me know in the comments…

SATURDAY SIX: Six Things We Can’t Wait To See in 2018

by on January 6, 2018

This week’s SATURDAY SIX takes a look at Six Things We Can’t Wait To See In 2018! 2017 was another unbelievable year in the theme park world (in some ways literally.) Containing a wide mix of The GoodThe Bad, and The Ugly, 2017 delivered in some major ways, including Pandora: The World of Avatar and Volcano Bay. For the most part 2018 looks to be a transition year in Orlando, as Disney prepares for the oncoming Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge and Universal moves chess pieces around for Nintendo, along with a possible third theme park on all the land it bought over the course of the last several years. That’s not to say nothing is coming in the next 12 months. In fact some really cool stuff is coming to our theme park world. Here’s some of the things we can’t wait to see, starting with…

# 6 – The “New” Old Port Royale at Caribbean Beach

Driving through Disney’s Caribbean Beach right now you’d think you had entered a war zone, but it won’t be long before the resort finishes its transformation. In 2019, the resort will offer a huge DVC location along with being the main hub of the Disney Skyliner transportation. This year Caribbean Beach will be bringing back a completely refreshed Old Port Royale. The massive refurbishment completely changes the look and feel of the original area, and will now be where guests check into the resort. Shutters will now offer waterfront dining, and the newly expanded Banana Cabana pool bar is going to be a great place to get a drink while you enjoy the Fuentes del Morro pool (one of the best themed pools at WDW.)

Old Port Royale. (©Disney)

Old Port Royale. (©Disney)

Shutters at Old Port Royale. (©Disney)

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Walt Disney World Preview — Week of January 6, 2018

by on January 5, 2018

I hope you’re all enjoying the start of 2018. If you’re celebrating with a trip to Walt Disney World, here’s what you have to look forward to this week.

Special Events

  • Friendly reminder that Disney Festival of Fantasy, the parade at Magic Kingdom park, is at 3:00pm for the foreseeable future.
  • Beginning January 11, Disney’s Magical Express will pick guests up 3 hours prior to their scheduled domestic flight. International flights will still pick up 4 hours before departure time.
  • Typhoon Lagoon will be closing for refurbishment January 7. Blizzard Beach will be re-opening the same day.

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Magic Kingdom Parade at 3:00 PM in 2018

by on January 2, 2018

Disney Festival of Fantasy Parade at Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom in Florida is currently scheduled for 3:00 PM for all dates in 2018. (As of today, Disney World’s web-based schedule goes through June 30, 2018.)

While it’s true that Disney shifted the start time of this parade to 2:00 PM for the latter half of 2017, its time is 3:00 PM for the foreseeable future. You can see that on Disney World’s website:

Festival of Fantasy at 3:00 PM today, January 2, 2018

 

This is not breaking news; the 3:00 PM parade showtimes in 2018 have been on the schedule for months, but we’ve received enough messages from folks questioning this that we thought it wise to share the information on our blog. We do not know the reason for Disney’s choice of parade times, nor do we know whether the parade will switch back to 2:00 PM in August 2018 like it did in August 2017. Disney may change the schedule of this parade (or anything else) at its whim, so we recommend that you verify your showtimes as close to your touring dates as possible. When Disney makes changes, we generally update our times within a day or two. Same-day showtimes appear in our Lines app. We also display Magic Kingdom showtimes on our website, and showtimes are incorporated into our Personalized Touring Plan software.

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DVC Monthly Preview – January 2018

by on January 2, 2018

 

Happy New Year to fellow Disney Vacation Club owners (and prospective owners). Welcome to the latest installment of our monthly DVC preview. You can view last month’s preview here. The new year has brought a plethora of news, so let’s get to it.

Booking Windows

This month, here are some booking window dates to keep in mind. For your home resort (11-month booking window), in January, you will be able to book for dates in December 2018. Plenty of DVC members plan their trips around the holidays, particularly during the less point-costly first part of the month. If you’re counting on a December trip, best to lock it in early. For all other DVC resorts (7-month booking window), this month you will be able to book for dates in August 2018.

For last-minute trips, the second half of January has select dates available in Walt Disney World at Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa and Old Key West Resort at DVC’s last-minute resort availability page. Aulani and Hilton Head also have limited availability.

Hard to believe, but we’re just a month away from being able to start booking 2019 dates. In preparation, DVC has released its 2019 point charts, accessible here. Some notable changes: Animal Kingdom Villas Jambo House has slightly increased the point cost of club level rooms and decreased the point cost of value rooms. Also, Vero Beach and Aulani resorts have switched the seasons on some of their dates. Be sure to use the correct year’s point chart for planning purposes. In case you were wondering, DVC has a set number of points for each resort, so any increase in point values must be offset by an equal decrease.

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Disney’s Contemporary Resort: Part 2 + Video

by on January 2, 2018

Happy New Year TouringPlans.com Friends!

I hope you had a wonderful holiday season, and I wish you all the best for 2018.

Today’s video is Part 2 of my Disney’s Contemporary Resort overview. I’ll be talkin’ pools, dining, recreation and amenities.

Enjoy!

Oh! and here’s Part 1 if you missed that!

I’m just now realizing that I used the EXACT same picture for both video thumbnails. *face palm*

Did you make any Disney resolutions for 2018? Mine is to take more photos. Leave yours below!

Are Disney’s Hotels Going To The Dogs? A Review.

by on January 1, 2018

In October 2017, Disney announced that for the first time ever, four of its hotels on property would have dog-friendly rooms. As with just about every announcement Disney makes, the reaction online tended to skew towards “the sky is falling” mentality. Despite only separated areas at four resorts (Art of Animation, Port Orleans Riverside, the cabins at Fort Wilderness, and the Yacht Club) would accept dogs, you would have thought by the reaction that every Disney hotel at WDW would be turning into a Petco. Even the SATURDAY SIX had a little fun with some of the over-the-top reactions to the announcement.

Fun aside, as a pet owner myself, one of the reasons my family has preferred staying onsite at Universal versus Disney over the years is because most of Universal’s properties are pet friendly (only Cabana Bay doesn’t allow animals.) Our dog Sebastian is now 17, and we prefer not to board him anywhere. We decided to use the on-site Best Friends Pet Care to board Sebastian during a family trip in September. While we were more than satisfied with the location, amenities, and staff on Best Friends, we still didn’t like being away from our smallest family member for so long.

When Disney made the dog-friendly hotel announcement, we knew it was time to book another trip to The World.

Yacht Club. (photo by Brandon Glover)

Because the dog-friendly policy is so new, I expected there to be a lot of openings at the hotels. In my mind, not many people can adjust their Disney World vacation to include their pet. However, when I went to book the date I wanted, I found out all the dog-friendly rooms were booked. So I tried a different date. Same thing. A third date found the same results. My fourth date option finally had a room available at Disney’s Yacht Club. At Universal, the “pet fee” is $50 a night, but that fee is capped at $150 for length of stay. At Disney, the pet fee for AoA, POR, and the cabins at FW is $50 a night, but at Yacht Club it is $75. I do not believe that the price at Disney is capped at any point.

With the room booked, it was time for a road trip!

Sebastian ready for his first Disney hotel.

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Five Reasons to Visit Walt Disney World in 2018

by on January 1, 2018

As workplace calendars take shape for 2018, attention turns to vacation destinations. For the Walt Disney World addicts among us, it’s not a question of whether we’ll go, but when and for how long. Others may need additional incentives to choose theme parks over the beach or big city.

For those of you with the challenge of convincing your significant other to spend their valuable vacation time armed with MagicBands and Touring Plans, we’ve got you covered. Read on for five reasons you can use to argue that 2018 is the year to visit Disney.

Let’s see Andy’s backyard

New lands don’t come around every year, but for the second straight summer, Walt Disney World will take down the construction walls and invite visitors to a new theme park land.

While not as impressive in scope as Pandora – The World of Avatar at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, the new Toy Story Land will bring kid-friendly attractions to a park that badly needs them, Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Disney announced an opening of summer 2018 for the land. If it follows the same pattern as Pandora, that would mean soft openings in May.

Two new attractions and a quick-service dining location will be added with the opening of Toy Story Land.

The land, which will include the existing Toy Story Midway Mania! attraction, will be modeled to look like Andy’s back yard. Visitors shrink down to toy size in their surroundings. The two new attractions, the Slinky Dog Dash roller coaster and Alien Swirling Saucers, should be kid-friendly, but with enough clever theming to appeal to everyone.

Add a quick-service dining location, Woody’s Lunch Box, and you have enough to bring visitors back to Hollywood Studios, even as a large portion of the park continues to be blocked off by construction walls (more on that later).

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SATURDAY SIX: 6 Reasons We’ll Never Forget 2017 (No Matter How Hard We Try)

by on December 30, 2017

This week’s  SATURDAY SIX takes a look at Six Reasons We’ll Never Forget 2017 (No Matter How Hard We Try). With the new year upon us, it is time for another SATURDAY SIX annual tradition of looking back at some of the most “memorable moments” of the previous year. Now we already covered some of the great things that happened during the past 365 days, and some of the worst as well, so today let’s look at six theme park stories that fall into a different area. Events that are almost hard to believe actually happened, but we promise they did, and we’re here with the proof. So let’s kick it off with…

# 6 – That Time Disney Wanted To Change The Name of DHS

Believe it or not, a lot goes into the actual naming of our beloved theme parks. You may think, “it can’t be that big of a deal,” but in 1999 when Universal opened Islands of Adventure, it rebranded the entire resort as Universal Orlando Escape. Many potential guests were confused by the new name, not realizing Universal had opened a completely new park, and instead thought they had just added some new attractions to Universal Studios Florida. The mistake cost Universal dearly, and weren’t on solid footing again until a decade later with the opening of the original Wizarding World of Harry Potter.

Disney’s Hollywood Studios is currently going through a massive changeover. Originally created in the late ’80s solely to cut the legs out from the coming Universal Studios Florida, the park has completely moved away from its opening day purpose of providing guests a behind-the-scenes look at how movies are made. The “new” DHS will a lot more like most other parks, just a collection of cool rides, all having absolutely nothing relating an overarching theme for the park. So late this summer a survey was conducted to gauge reaction on some possible new names for the park. Names such as Disney Kaleidoscope Park, Disney XL Park, and Disney Storyverse Park were offered as options.  These names may seem odd to you, Dear Reader, but there is an actual industry term for them: next level bananas.

(photo by @MickeyViews)

If this part of the survey doesn’t have you remembering back to the “Itchy & Scratchy focus group“, nothing will. (photo by @MickeyViews)

I could sign off on this one. (photo by Rob Yeo)

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New Year’s Eve Events at Walt Disney World

by on December 28, 2017

New Year's Eve

Celebrating New Year’s Eve at Epcot ©Rikki Niblett

Wow! How did the end of this year get here already?! I know we say that all the time, but I really do feel that this year has just flown right by. It feels like just yesterday, I was bringing in 2017 at Epcot; now, I’ll be back at Epcot to bring in 2018. (With all the other crazies….and those are just my friends! 😉 )

So, what can I and everyone else expect when ringing in 2018 at the Walt Disney World Resort? Here’s this year’s lineup:

 

Magic Kingdom

The Magic Kingdom will be open on December 30 and 31 from 8:00 a.m. until 1:00 a.m. During the evening on both nights, Guests will be able to see the Fantasy in the Sky Fireworks at both 6:30 p.m. and at 11:50 p.m. For those who like dance parties, you’ll want to head to either Frontierland and Tomorrowland for some awesome tunes.

 

Epcot

Epcot is open from 9:00 a.m. until 1:00 a.m. on December 31. There will be a New Year’s Eve Countdown Fireworks spectacular that really is incredible. The show kicks off at 11:40 p.m. There will also be New Year’s Eve dance parties and other entertainment around World Showcase at the America Garden Stage, Future World Fountain Stage and the “Silent Groove” dance party that will take place at Future World Center. (Trust me….you have to see this one! Everyone is dancing to music that they hear, but you don’t.)

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