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

by on January 1, 2018
Filed under: Resorts, Saturday Six, Walt Disney World (FL) 37 Comments

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
Filed under: Disney Springs, Hollywood Studios, Resorts, Saving Money, Trip Planning, Walt Disney World (FL) 6 Comments

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). Read the rest of this entry »

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

by on December 31, 2017
Filed under: Magic, Memories, and Merch 15 Comments

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 (who recently started a monthly series on NEW Disney merchandise at the parks and resorts) secret shopper Daisy Lauren (when she’s not making a whirlwind trip to Disneyland) and I found a whole bunch of neat items this month including a Mickey Mouse’s birthday hat, more Figment magnets from the Festival of the Arts, and more discounted items from Pandora: The World of Avatar.

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

December often brings some really great deals to the Disney Outlet Stores in Orlando, and it also brings out the eBay pirates like hyenas to a fresh kill. The stores open earlier in the morning and close later in the evening, and generally can be packed. With the eBay pirates buying hundreds of items, the already incredibly slow check out process at the registers can seem like time is standing still.

Here’s an example of a normal Outlet item that gets slashed during the Holiday season, as this giant Olaf Vinylmation was reduced all the way down to $1.99. This is a dollar cheaper than the 3″ Vinylmations are marked down to.

Mister Police.
You could have saved her.
I gave you all the clues.
– Olaf

These plastic plates (with cup holder) are sold at Food and Wine for $6.99. They were marked all the way down to 49 cents, which is pretty much the lowest price you’ll ever see anything priced at. I picked up four of these for trips to places like the beach.

Food and Wine plates.

One thing that the pirates were buying in cases (I kid you not, cases) were these Locally Grown Minnie and Mickey mugs. They certainly are cute and you can’t beat that $1.99. price point.

Locally grown mug.

This was a surprise. Not only was an official Tervis Tumbler product marked down to just $2.99, but it was the 2018 Hocus Pocus Villain Spectacular edition. Still passed.

Fun Fact: I’ve gone another year without seeing the movie Hocus Pocus.

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

by on December 30, 2017
Filed under: Saturday Six, Universal Orlando Resort, Volcano Bay, Walt Disney World (FL) 9 Comments

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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Disney Cruise Line Preview — Week of December 30

by on December 29, 2017
Filed under: Disney Cruise Line, Weekly Preview

The Disney Cruise Line Preview is brought to you by Storybook Destinations. Storybook Destinations specializes in Disney 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.

Ahoy, mateys! I’m Heather, and I’ll be bringing you the up and coming on all things Disney Cruise Line. Welcome back again this week. Let’s see what’s new in the DCL world.

Ports of Call

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Disneyland Preview — Week of December 30

by on December 29, 2017
Filed under: Disney California Adventure, Disneyland (CA), Disneyland Park, Trip Planning, Weather, Weekly Preview

Another super busy week at Disneyland Resort as we transition to 2018, though it becomes slightly more manageable as the week progresses. Read on to find out more in this week’s Disneyland preview!

Special Events and Notes

We get to usher in 2018 this week, and that means we get to experience the special New Years offerings at Disneyland! The New-Year’s-only (generally) Fantasy in the Sky  fireworks will run twice on New Years Eve, at 9 pm and again at 11:55 to welcome the New Year. If seeing the fireworks from Main Street U.S.A. is important to you, you’ll want to make sure you stake out a spot even earlier than usual. California Adventure will also ring in the New Year at Paradise Pier with its Fountains and Fireworks countdown. Special dining events are available at Napa Rose and PCH Grill; advance reservations are strongly recommended for these experiences.  Read the rest of this entry »

In Case You Missed It: Disney News and Rumors – Week of December 29, 2017

by on December 29, 2017
Filed under: In Case You Missed It 1 Comment

In Case You Missed ItOk…I know I’m a few days early but *meep*! (That’s me blowing a horn, by the way.) Happy New Year! Welcome 2018! Do you have big plans? I’ll be celebrating with the Epcot crew! So you know things are gonna be crazy!

This week, we’ve got some very interesting stories. First, we must say goodbye to a Disney fan favorite who passed away, see just how good Disney did at the box office in 2017, and more.

In Case You Missed It – Disney and Universal Orlando News and Rumors


Whoops! During one of the busiest days of the year, Disneyland temporarily lost power in a couple of lands. Were you there? What was your experience?

Ok…this was cool. See SpaceX from Disney California Adventure. (Or a UFO….I’m gonna go with SpaceX….)  Read the rest of this entry »

New Year’s Eve Events at Walt Disney World

by on December 28, 2017
Filed under: Recent News, Walt Disney World (FL) 3 Comments

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 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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Walt Disney World Annual Passholder Discounts Available for 2018

by on December 28, 2017
Filed under: Recent News, Walt Disney World (FL) 4 Comments

Annual Passholder

©Rikki Niblett

It was good while it lasted. For a little over a year, thanks to the celebration of the 45th anniversary of the Walt Disney World Resort, Annual Passholders were receiving a 20% discount at many Walt Disney World restaurants. I regret to inform everyone that the discount has gone back down to 10% once again. (Which is what the discount was prior to the anniversary.)

For 2018, Walt Disney World Annual Passholders will receive a 10 percent discount on food and non-alcoholic beverages at all Walt Disney World Resort owned and operated table-service restaurants, with the exception of Victoria & Albert’s at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort, through December 31, 2018. One nice part about this discount is that there are no blockout dates, so that means if you’re eating at one of the participating resorts here on New Year’s Day or maybe on Easter, you’ll still be able to receive your discount. The discount is only valid for the Passholder and up to three additional Guests.

As a reminder, Guests should ask if an Annual Pass discount is available at restaurants when dining, as some locations which are managed by operating participants may not offer this discount for Passholders.

So, if you are an Annual Passholder, make sure you take advantage of this offer. While it isn’t as good as last year’s offer, a discount is a discount.

Select Walt Disney World Resort Restaurants Available on OpenTable

by on December 28, 2017
Filed under: Recent News, Walt Disney World (FL)

One of the news pieces that popped up all over Twitter over the holiday weekend was that select Walt Disney World Resort Restaurants are now going to be available for Guests to book via the popular reservation site, OpenTable. It seems that several Disney Springs and Walt Disney Swan & Dolphin dining establishments had been on the site for a while, but actual Walt Disney World owned and operated restaurants are now popping up for Guests to be able to make reservations.




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