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Walt Disney World Preview — Week of January 20, 2018

by on January 18, 2018
Filed under: Walt Disney World (FL), Weekly Preview

We’ve got Broadway Performers, a new bar, and some beautiful weather. Keep reading for your Walt Disney World weekly preview!

Special Events

  • Enzo’s Hideaway is now open at Disney Springs. You’ll find this new bar underneath Maria & Enzo’s Risorante.
  • See Broadway Performers Kevin Massey and Kara Lindsay at Epcot’s America Gardens Theatre from January 19 – 22.
  • Circle of Life: An Environmental Fable will be closing February 3. Check out this Epcot attraction before it’s gone forever!
  • Florida Residents: Discover Disney tickets are available for you to purchase now through June 20. This option allows you to enjoy 3 days at a Walt Disney World theme park for $159 + tax. Note: Tickets can only be used through June 24, 2018.

Read the rest of this entry »

Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge Testing Cash-Free Payment Options

by on January 17, 2018
Filed under: Recent News, Walt Disney World (FL) 15 Comments

cash-free payment at Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge

©Disney

Well this one is certainly interesting. Beginning Monday, February 12, on the the Walt Disney World Resort Hotels, Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge – Jambo House will participate in a test where all monetary transactions will be handled with cash-free payment options. What does this mean? Well, all purchases and services made at the resort will only be able to do so through payments via MagicBands, credit cards, debit cards, Disney Gift Cards, Disney Rewards Redemption Cards and contactless payments such as Apple Pay, Samsung Pay or Google Pay. Cash will not be able to be used.

For those who don’t have access to or prefer not to use credit cards, Cast Members at the front desk will be able to help Guests with their hotel charging privileges and a cash deposit can be made at check-in to activate room charging privileges.

What about gratuities that may need to be paid? They can still be paid in cash.

It will be interesting to see how this cash-free payment test goes and if it will get rolled out at other resorts. I’ll make sure to keep you updated.

Aloha, Aulani: A Resort Primer

by on January 17, 2018
Filed under: Aulani, Trip Planning 6 Comments

TouringPlans welcomes guest author May Flaum.

When I plan a vacation to Walt Disney World my desk is like a war room complete with plans of attack, alternate arrangements, current restaurant menus, and more. I build and optimize touring plans, I read blogs daily, and I love every planning minute of it. That said, sometimes it is wonderful to plan a trip quickly, easily, and without multiple notebooks and Excel spreadsheets.

If my budget isn’t tight and I get to pick said vacation? My pick is Disney’s Aulani on the island of Oahu. It really is an ideal vacation place for so many people of all ages – and perfect if you want a Disney fix but travel with someone who doesn’t love the parks. As someone who has been fortunate enough to visit the resort a few times, I’d like to share with you my strategies for planning a trip to Aulani.

Budget

Let’s address the elephant in the room: budget. There are a lot of ways you can flex the cost of an Aulani trip. But the bottom line is this: Hawaii is an expensive and popular high-demand destination. Take a look at airline routes, costs, and Aulani (and other hotel) rates to begin your planning process.

If you’re able to swing a trip to Oahu but not stay at Aulani, you still might want to visit for a half day. You can book the character breakfast, shop the gift shops, and walk through the resort, out to the lagoon, and around the Ko’olina resort area. Note that character meets other than at breakfast, as well as all amenities, pools, and slides are for the exclusive use of registered resort guests.

If only a short stay is possible, or if you want to explore more of Hawaii, then save Aulani for last. Visit other areas of Oahu or even other islands first while staying at a less expensive hotel, apartment rental, or time share. Then head up to Aulani first thing in the morning and check in. Your room likely won’t be ready, but bell services will store your bags, there is a lounge with shower you can access until your room is ready, and you’re able to use all amenities including pools and slides. You are able to utilize all resort amenities all day on both check in and check out day – use that to your advantage.

If the budget allows of course, my ultimate recommendation is to stay at Aulani for as long as you possibly can and simply enjoy all that this marvelous resort has to offer.

What to book in advance?

Read the rest of this entry »

Ask It: Do You Order New MagicBands for Each Trip?

by on January 17, 2018
Filed under: Just For Fun 12 Comments

When my husband went to Shanghai for a month before the park opening, our daughter and I strung a chain of MagicBands across the baker’s rack in our kitchen to use as a countdown calendar. Each day, we’d remove one MagicBand until it was time for my husband to come home. Almost every one of those MagicBands were used once and only once. At one time, it was a challenge to get Disney not to send MagicBands for an upcoming vacation, and so people often ended up with huge collections of bands in every color offered. Now with “designer” MagicBands sporting characters, attraction art, and more, and the option not to have MagicBands sent to you, it is easier to reuse old MagicBands from trip to trip. Yet, there is still a thrill of getting a new box of MagicBands in the mail that builds trip anticipation.

This week, we’re asking you

Do you order new MagicBands for each trip?

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The poll is live here and on Twitter. We’ll have your results next week. In the meantime, let us know in the comments what you do with your collection of MagicBands.

Ask It Results: Best Non-WDW Disney Vacation Club Resort

by on January 17, 2018
Filed under: DVC, Just For Fun 1 Comment

It’s Wednesday again, and time for another round of Ask It results. Although it is fairly laughable at this point to say that Disney Vacation Club is Disney’s Best Kept Secret, the non-Walt Disney World DVC resorts may be somewhat of a mystery for even seasoned DVC owners. With only one of the non-WDW DVC resorts being in easy access to a Disney theme park, these resorts tend not to get a lot of attention. They certainly provide a different kind of vacation from a Walt Disney World trip, and for many people, that’s part of their charm. Last week, we asked you:

Which non-Walt Disney World Disney Vacation Club resort is the best?

Here’s your results.

Vero Beach (31 votes, 5%)

©Disney

Located a couple hours away from Walt Disney World on Florida’s Atlantic coast, Vero Beach provides a wonderful beach retreat with lots of natural splendor. From nesting loggerhead sea turtles to a variety of birds to manatees and a wide variety of plant life, there’s plenty for a nature enthusiast to love about this setting. You can enjoy lounging on the beach, taking a dip in the pool, going for a spa treatment, or participating in resort activities at the Community Hall. It’s a much more relaxed pace than a Walt Disney World vacation, which may be why some people do land and land split stays between Walt Disney World and Vero Beach.

Hilton Head (63 votes, 11%)

The pool at Hilton Head Resort

Disney’s Hilton Head Resort has a pool for those who prefer their water chlorinated. Photo ©Disney

Disney’s Hilton Head resort is located, not surprisingly, in Hilton Head, South Carolina. Although it is not located at the beach itself, shuttle service is provided. There’s also easy access to swimming, golf, tennis, and more recreational activities. Different activities, events, and meals, including a low country boil (a seafood-lovers dream) or some good ol’ South Carolina BBQ, are available depending on season. Hilton Head provides a touch of Disney along with South Carolina charm.

Read the rest of this entry »

This Month in Disney Parks History: January

by on January 16, 2018
Filed under: Just For Fun

Can you believe we’re only two weeks in to 2018? I don’t know about you, but I feel like the holidays were ages ago already. I guess that’s what happens when you go back to a regular work or school schedule after enjoying some time off. The good news is, here at TouringPlans, we know the cure for those post-holiday blues. Disney, Disney, Disney! So we’re back with another edition of Disney Parks History. Let’s take a look at all the January happenings over the years.

1959: The Dapper Dans, a barbershop quartet act, premiered at Disneyland almost six decades ago.  They can still be found entertaining guests with their humor and harmonization along Main Street U.S.A. in both Disneyland and Magic Kingdom. Read the rest of this entry »

Back to the Basics: Rider Switch (Swap) at Walt Disney World + Video

by on January 16, 2018
Filed under: Video, Walt Disney World (FL) 2 Comments

Say you’re at Walt Disney World with your kids and significant other. There’s an attraction both adults REALLY want to experience, but the kids are either too young or don’t meet the height requirement.

What do you do?

Use Rider Switch of course!

Watch the video below to see exactly how to use this feature.

Enjoy!

How have used rider switch? How did it work? Let me know in the comments!

ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex Debuts New Arena

by on January 15, 2018
Filed under: Recent News, Walt Disney World (FL)

ESPN Wide World of Sports

©Rikki Niblett

To help celebrate the 20th anniversary of the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex, a brand new area is now open for those who may be heading to a sporting event being held at Walt Disney World. This new area is known as The Arena at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex and it is going to be a versatile space will be able to easily host both large and small events.  The new arena is the third indoor competition venue at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex and is one of the largest in the country designed specifically with cheer and dance events in mind.

One of the unique features of The Arena is its flexibility. This space can be converted to host more than six regulation-sized basketball and volleyball courts and can be further expanded to host open-floor exhibitions and other major events. There will be 8,000 seats and a separate box office.  Read the rest of this entry »

Walt Disney World Children’s Activity Centers to Close

by on January 15, 2018
Filed under: Recent News, Resorts, Walt Disney World (FL) 10 Comments

Children's Activity Centers

©Disney

The three remaining Walt Disney World Children’s Activity Centers are slated to close. The last day of operation will be July 31, 2018. This move is apparently being done because fewer Guests are using these services than in the past.

The three Disney-run Children’s Activity Centers are Simba’s Cubhouse at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge, Club Lilo at Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort, and the Sandcastle Club at Disney’s Beach Club Resort.

Children ages 3 to 12 who visit these activity centers are able to explore imaginative worlds with activities that educate, entertain and enchant, as well as meet some of their favorite Disney friends. Parents are then able to head out for some fun of their own, knowing their kids were having a great evening, too.

As an alternative, Disney recommends in-room babysitting services from a company called Kid’s Nite Out. It also appears that Camp Dolphin at the Walt Disney World Dolphin Hotel (which is on Disney property but not operated by Disney) will continue to be available for Guests to utilize.

10 Disney Cruise Line Secrets

by on January 15, 2018
Filed under: Disney Cruise Line 14 Comments

I’ve talked Disney cruise tips, Disney cruise myths, questions, etc. etc.  I even wrote about some Disney cruise secrets way back in 2013!  But this time, friends, we are delving deeper.  I have real secrets here!  Well okay, secrets is a strong word.  But “10 Not Well-Known Things About Disney Cruises” is kind of long.  I think I’ve got at least one thing here that will surprise even the most experienced of Disney cruisers.  I’m going to try at least!  Let’s see if you knew all of these.

1. Disney will Transfer Just Luggage from Disney Resorts – I have good news if you are trying to get from Walt Disney World to the port in a vehicle that won’t quite fit all of your luggage. Disney will transfer it for you! That’s right, you do not need to be on Disney transfers to take advantage of the luggage transfers.  For a cost of $25 for up to 6 bags, and $3 a bag after that, Disney will pick up your luggage in your WDW resort room on the morning of your cruise.  You won’t see it again until it appears in your stateroom later that day.  Call (or have your travel agent call) the cruise line directly the day before you sail to set it up.  It will be charged to your onboard account.  I sail with a large group of ladies every September and we love to take a huge limo to the port, but there is no limo that exists that will hold 24 ladies plus their luggage.  So we send 18 or so of our bags on the transfers while we travel in style.  Worth it. Read the rest of this entry »