Posts Tagged ‘trip planning’

Trip Planning 101 (3.0): Deciding When to Visit Walt Disney World

by on January 8, 2018

Welcome to our periodic refresh of the TouringPlans Trip Planning 101 series, where we walk new WDW trip planners through some of the basic components of getting ready for a trip to Walt Disney World. Here we’re looking at factors to consider as you decide when to make your Disney visit.

The first step in planning a visit to Walt Disney World is deciding when to take your trip. This basic decision can have a big influence on the pace, mood, and cost of your vacation. Here’s a guide on how to choose the best timetable for your Walt Disney World experience. We’ll do this from two perspectives: a family with kids in school and adults not traveling with children.

Gather Your Tools

Before you sit down to plan, you’ll need to gather the following items:

  • A blank calendar. I like having one where I can see whole year in front of me, such as the 2018 calendar above.
  • Your school district calendar (if applicable).
  • Work schedules.
  • Calendars for your family’s activities: sports, church groups, dance recitals, etc.
  • Your personal appointment calendar.
  • The TouringPlans.com Crowd Calendar.
  • The Walt Disney World attraction closures schedule.
  • Access to information about Disney’s special events each month. There’s a great section about this in the Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World.
  • Access to your favorite weather website, such as weather.com.
  • Access to your favorite airline website, travel aggregator website (Expedia, Travelocity, etc.), or travel agregator app (Kayak, etc.).
  • Access to your favorite Disney discounts website, like MouseSavers.com.
  • Several colored pencils, highlighters, or markers.

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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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Ask It: Your 2018 Plans

by on December 20, 2017

Can you believe it is almost time to get used to crossing out 2017 on checks because you can’t remember that it’s now 2018? (Or is that just me? Does anyone else actually use checks anymore? I digress….)

Unless you’re packing up to head on your way to a Disney vacation right now, odds are good that you don’t have a trip planned for 2017. But do you have one planned for 2018? This week, we’re asking you:

Are you taking a Disney vacation in 2018?

 

  • Yes, already booked (61%, 387 Votes)
  • Maybe, still planning (22%, 137 Votes)
  • No, not in 2018 (17%, 110 Votes)

Total Voters: 634

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The poll is live here and on Twitter. We’ll have your results next week!

Disneyland Planning for Walt Disney World Veterans – Part 2

by on December 11, 2017

Hopefully you’ve had a chance to read the first part of this article, covering some of the nuts-and-bolts aspects of Disneyland planning. If not, go back and do it now.  I’ll wait.

Done?  OK, great. Now that you’ve got all of that fresh in your mind, let’s talk a little bit about what the Disneyland experience is like. It’s obviously similar in a lot of respects to Walt Disney World, but there are enough differences that knowing where you should direct your focus will really enhance your trip. So, without further ado, let’s get to it!

When to Go

Broadly speaking, Disneyland experiences the same sort of seasonal ebbs and flows that you’re used to at Walt Disney World. Spring Break, Summer, and Winter Break tend to be pretty busy, and you can expect lighter crowds when kids are in school. There are some quirky variations attributable to local events, so certainly make sure you check the Disneyland Crowd Calendar, but if you’re familiar with Walt Disney World crowds, the times to target are going to be what you’d expect.

With that said, if I were advising a Walt Disney World veteran as to the best time to visit Disneyland, I’d definitely suggest the latter part of the year if possible. Disneyland has more local visitors that it needs to entice to visit the parks, and is accordingly a lot more cavalier about making seasonal changes to the attractions. For example, Haunted Mansion gets a Nightmare Before Christmas overlay from mid-September to the end of the Christmas season that really transforms the attraction — it’s still vaguely recognizable as Haunted Mansion, but a radically different version. I recall the first time I experienced it, I was expecting a light skinning, where maybe Jack Skellington shows up in a few scenes, but it’s a complete overhaul and is absolutely fantastic.

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Disneyland Planning for Walt Disney World Veterans – Part 1

by on December 4, 2017

For veterans of Walt Disney World, Disneyland planning can be a bit of a challenge in that there are several unknowns. Yes, Disneyland and Walt Disney World are similar in a lot of respects, but there are enough differences that your familiarity with the east coast parks will only get you so far. The good news, however, is that Disneyland planning is actually far easier than planning an Orlando trip — the park is set up to be equally accessible to day guests and locals as people who’ve planned for months — so with just a little bit of planning, you’ll quickly find the same comfort level out west in no time. Read on for all the info you need to take your Disneyland planning from newbie to expert!

The Basics

First and foremost, some basic info to help you get oriented: there are two theme parks at Disneyland Resort, three Disney hotels (for now) and the Downtown Disney area. The theme parks are Disneyland Park, which is similar in layout and content to Magic Kingdom, and Disney’s California Adventure, which I think of as sort of a smorgasbord of attractions you’ll find spread across Disney World’s parks (like Soarin’, Toy Story Midway Mania, and Turtle Talk with Crush), plus several original attractions that only exist there. Unlike Disney World’s parks, these two parks are very close to each other, and park-hopping takes about 90 seconds, exclusive of lines at the turnstiles. Yes, really!

The three Disney hotels are:

  • Grand Californian: the nicest, closest, and most expensive Disneyland Resort. It is attached to Disney’s California Adventure and has its own dedicated entrance to the park.
  • Disneyland Hotel: the original, throwback Disneyland lodging experience, and home to Disneyland icons like Trader Sam’s. It is typically the middle tier from a pricing standpoint.
  • Paradise Pier: the most spartan, and least expensive Disney hotel at Disneyland. Least expensive does not mean inexpensive, however, as will be discussed in more detail below.

Guests of Disney hotels can enter one park an hour early each day, sort of like Extra Magic Hours at Disney World. Disneyland does not do extra hours in the evening at all. In addition to the Disney hotels, there are several non-Disney “good neighbor” hotels that are within walking distance of the parks. While these guests do not get early entry every day, they can purchase multiday tickets that allow them to enter only Disneyland Park one hour early on certain days once over the course of their trip (called “Magic Mornings,” more on that below).

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The Best of Walt Disney World for Families

by on October 25, 2017

The Best of Walt Disney World for Families

Welcome back to the final installment Part 7 of my blog series – The Best of Walt Disney World! I hope you’ve enjoyed the last several weeks as I’ve shared with you the top picks in attractions for various groups of travelers visiting the Walt Disney World theme parks. We’ve discussed favorites for babiespreschoolersgrade school kids, teens, adults and seniors. Today we’re going to wrap things up with families. When checking out the list, keep in mind each attraction that made the cut scored a minimum of four stars by at least half of the age groups surveyed and has no height restrictions so that everyone from baby to great grandparents can enjoy it together as a family. Come on, everybody, here we go!

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The Best of Walt Disney World for Seniors

by on October 4, 2017

The Best of Walt Disney World for Seniors

Welcome back to Part 6 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 babiespreschoolersgrade school kids, teens and adults. Next up are the still-going-strong seniors. When checking out the list, keep in mind each attraction that made the cut scored at least four stars by the seniors surveyed. Come on, everybody, here we go!

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The Best of Walt Disney World for Adults

by on September 27, 2017

The Best of Walt Disney for Adults

Welcome back to Part 5 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 babiespreschoolersgrade school kids, and teens. Next up are the young-at-heart adults. When checking out the list, keep in mind each attraction that made the cut scored at least four stars by the adults surveyed. Come on, everybody, here we go!

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Five Things I Wish I Knew Before Checking into Disney’s All-Star Sports Resort

by on September 25, 2017

Ahh…Disney’s All-Star Resorts. With their bright bold colors, over-sized pop culture icons, and low price tag, these Disney Value resorts are a popular option for families, young adults, and large groups. If you have only stayed at a Moderate or Deluxe resort, you might wonder: How is a Disney All-Star Resort different?

The lower room rates should be a clear sign that you will be offered fewer amenities than the pricier resort categories. For instance All-Star Resorts have smaller rooms, no full-service restaurants on site, only offer bus transportation (instead of boat or monorail options), and have no water features that accommodate boating, fishing, and so on. The All-Star Resorts do offer a feature pool with lifeguards, daily activities, and a nearby pool bar plus additional quiet pools on opposite ends of the resort, a food court, a gift shop, and in-room pizza delivery. Simply put, Value resorts like Disney’s All-Star Sports Resort offer a “more fun less frills” atmosphere. Aside from these basic differences, there are a few other things that you might wish to know before checking in to Disney’s All-Star Sports Resort that aren’t quite as obvious by looking at a list of amenities.

At least one of the amenities is a bar. Honestly, what else do you really need?

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The Best of Walt Disney World for Teens

by on September 18, 2017

The Best of WDW for Teens

Welcome back to Part 4 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, preschoolers, and grade school kids. Next up are those thrill-seeking teens. When checking out the list, keep in mind each attraction that made the cut scored at least four stars by the teens surveyed. Come on, everybody, here we go!

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