What’s New Wednesday: November 4th Edition

 

FullSizeRenderHappy Wednesday! It’s halfway through another week! It’s time to talk about what’s new around Disney Destinations!

Walt Disney World:

  • Osborne Festival of Dancing Lights in Hollywood Studios are doing “previews” each night. Official opening date is scheduled for the 6th of November, but they are ON. If you’re in Disney now, enjoy them while you can!
  • Club Villain is available at Hollywood Studios on select evenings in 2016. Details from Disney…The mysterious Dr. Facilier welcomes Guests into Club Villain, his parlor of mystical mishaps, for a spellbinding evening. This special-ticket event, offered only on select evenings, will feature musical numbers with the help of a DJ, as well as appearances by the divas of evil – Maleficent, Queen of Hearts, Cruella De Vil, and the Evil Queen. Throughout the evening, you can enjoy fiendish concoctions from the Potions Bar and savor culinary delights from New Orleans while they mingle with the villains and dance the night away! Cost is $99 per guestFullSizeRender 3
  • Disney introduced new refillable mugs around Walt Disney World resorts. I LOVE them! They are starting to pop up around locations as the old ones are selling out.
  • It’s a small world meets Frozen again this year at Contemporary Resort’s holiday display. Holiday decor should be going up in the first 2 weeks of November!
  • Frozen Holiday Wish will return this year in Magic Kingdom as Elsa lights Cinderella’s Castle in a beautiful display. While I’m over Frozen Mania, it’s a gorgeous site!
  • Ft. Wilderness Cabins have been undergoing a renovation (a little secret renovation since there’s little guest interruption since each cabin is an individual entity)
  • Santa Goofy is available for meet and greet through the holiday season in Hollywood Studios!

Disneyland:

  • Disneyland Holiday experiences begin November 13th! We will be there LIVE to bring you the updates available to guests with valid park admission. This includes Haunted Mansion Holiday (which runs from Halloween through the Christmas season), its’ a small world holiday overlay and a Christmas parade among other special events! Check back with us over the next 2 weeks for the fun and exciting updates!

That’s it for this week. We’ll continue to bring you updates as they happen!!

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What’s New Wednesday: October 21 edition

Happy Back to the Future Day! October 21, 2015. This has NOTHING to do with Disney, but a fun fact nonetheless! Thankfully we’re not going back in time but looking forward to what’s new around Disney destinations!

Walt Disney World:

  • Officially Jedi Training Academy will be closed through November 30th, reopening with a new theme on December 1st. Sorry November travelers! 😦
  • Soarin’ will undergo a long refurbishment beginning January 4. The end date is listed as summer 2016. No official word if this is to add the new theme (Soarin’ around the world) or to add int the additional track they announced last year. It could be both!
  • Many Walt Disney World resort pools are undergoing 2-3 day quick refurbishments. Thankfully all Walt Disney World resorts have more than one pool available, so if the pool closest to you is not available, a little hop skip and a jump away, you’ll have an additional option!
  • A somewhat major pool renovation – Ol’ Man Isle pool at Port Orleans Riverside will be down for refurbishment for about 2 months in January through February.
  • Disney announced the dates for the taping of the Christmas day parade – no it’s not done on Christmas day! November 10-13. If you are traveling during that time, you will notice a very busy Main Street USA as well as the castle stage in front of the park. The rest of the park will be unaffected, so if your plans are in Magic Kingdom, you’ll be fine! (At this point it’s too close to make good changes to dining and FastPass!)
  • Tortuga Tavern is offering a new BBQ menu. This location is still a seasonal quick service dining option in Magic Kingdom so be prepared to see it closed!
  • Club Disney is coming to Hollywood Studios. This is the Sunset Showcase – an experience for kids and characters with a DJ Club Host with Disney Top 50 hits. A great little “nightlife” area for the kids. Opening day is December 5.

Disneyland

  • Spiderman is coming to Disneyland in Super Hero HQ opening November 16. With that change, Captain America is going away the week before (while they make changes to the meet and greet area.

And that’s What’s New this week!

Monday’s Magical Tips: Disney World with Picky Eaters

Picky eaters can drive a mom (or dad) crazy!!  Trust me, I know with 2 of my own.  However, you are in Disney World and they will try their best to make everyone happy,  🙂

I thought that I would name a few of my picky eaters favorites to help you on your next trip:

Magic Kingdom:Tonys-Town-Square-Restaurant-in-the-Magic-Kingdom-in-Walt-Disney-World

  • Tony’s Town Square (Italian – spaghetti or just butter noodles if wanted)
  • Casey’s Corner (hotdogs, etc)
  • Crystal Palace (character buffet)
  • Golden Oak Outpost (chicken nuggets, waffle fries, etc..)
  • Liberty Tree Tavern (American, burgers, etc…)
  • Be Our Guest (my son says they have the BEST mac-n-cheese EVER!)
  • Pinocchio Village Haus (one of our favorites!)
  • Gaston’s (HUGE cinnamon rolls-not a meal but really good)
  • Cosmic Ray’s (a little bit of everything)

Hollywood Studios:

  • ABC Commissary (cheeseburgers, salads, nuggets, etc…)
  • Sci-Fi Drive In (kids favorite with American usuals)
  • Hollywood Brown Derby (hubby’s favorite but kids love Filet Minion too!)
  • Backlot Express (a lot of everything)
  • Mama Melrose (Italian – huge portions to share)
  • Pizza Planet (you can’t go wrong with a cheese pizza!)

Epcot:

  • Electric Umbrella (burgers, salads, nuggets,…)
  • Garden Grill (inside The Land where Soarin is)
  • Sunshine Seasons (food court style)
  • Coral Reef (popcorn shrimp are always a kid’s favorite)
  • Each of the countries have something that a child could find to eat I think…

Animal Kingdom:

  • Rainforest Cafe (right outside of the park on the left)
  • Tusker House (character buffet)
  • Restaurantosaurus (burgers, salads, nuggets…)
  • Pizzafari (again it’s pizza!)

I hope this helps some who have a hard time with the wee little ones.  Also, note that every restaurant (counter or table service) have vegetarian and gluten free options now available.  What is your favorite “picky eater” eatery??  Let us know!

And if you are ready to get started planning your Disney World vacation? Please contact me at any time for a free quote or use the form below. The benefits to using an authorized Disney vacation planner include saving time before and during your vacation with itinerary planning which can help save you hours of standing in line each day. Plus you won’t have to watch for available discounts, research resorts, wake up early for dining reservations, or stay up late for FastPasses. The best part about using a travel planner instead of planning yourself? It’s totally FREE! Plus I’ll take away some of the stress and confusion of planning a Disney vacation (especially if it’s your first one!) If you already have your vacation planned and are interested in transferring your vacation, ask me how!

Pros and Cons of every Disney World resort – Choosing your perfect location!

 

With close to 30 resorts to choose from, making the decision can not only be confusing, but difficult. This handy guide is meant to help give you an overview of each resort, what the resort classes mean and how to choose the best resort for your family.

Resort Classes

Disney breaks down their resorts in to 4 different categories:

Deluxe Villas are the Disney Vacation Club Properties. When rooms are available after Vacation Club members make their selections, they are released to the general public. You will likely not see a room available until about 10 months before your travel dates. Sometimes you’ll see availability a bit closer to arrival date but 10 months seems like the first time you’ll see any openings! Disney Deluxe Villas offer suites, most with full kitchens. One of the many benefits of the deluxe villas is the ability to have 1, 2, or even 3 bedrooms and is perfect for large parties or families with small children that go to bed early (but adults still want to stay up). Deluxe Villas also do not charge extra for additional adult guests beyond the first 2 (as all other resort classes do).

Deluxe Resorts are the top of the line hotels in Disney World. They offer the best amenities, best pools, and best location within Walt Disney World. They are also typically the most expensive resorts. These resorts also offer club level concierge service which gives guests many additional benefits on top of the great deluxe accommodations. Most deluxe resorts also offer more than one mode of transportation to get to and from each Disney theme park. They are also near at least one major theme park which gives you the ultimate in convenience to get around. You’ll have more square footage in these resorts over the value and moderate resorts. Some resorts have 1 and 2 bedroom suite style rooms (different than the deluxe villas). These resorts smaller than the moderate and value resorts (so not as many rooms to choose from). You’ll have an elaborate pool experience and many with an equally elaborate kids splash area!

Moderate Resorts are a step down from the deluxe resorts in amenities and cost. These resorts still have excellent pools with water slides and sometimes have a less desirable location. Most moderate resorts are the largest among all the Disney World resort hotels. Additionally, most moderate resorts only offer bus transportation to and from all Disney theme parks and Downtown Disney, although their bus stops are covered from the elements. Most moderate resorts offer both quick service and table service dining options. Like deluxe resorts, the feature (or main) pool has a water slide and often a kids splash area.

Value Resorts as you can tell by their name, are the least expensive of all Disney resorts. These resorts have both smaller beds (double vs. queen in all other resort classes), no water slides at pools, and uncovered bus stops. These resorts are moderate in size, but rooms farther away from the main building are a bit of a hike. This is a great place to lay your head at night if you’ll be out and about at all of the parks or a great way to do Disney World on a budget while still having the benefits of staying on site.

All Disney resorts offer exclusive benefits unavailable non-resort guests.

Disney World Resorts

For more specific information on each resort, click their name/link for an overview of the resort including specifics on rooms, location, transportation options, dining options, and relative cost. Resorts are listed in alphabetical order by class for an easy find!

Deluxe Villas

Deluxe Resorts

Moderate Resorts

Value Resorts

A free gift for your Disney vacation! The amazing and exciting Minnie Box! (subject to minimum vacation package)

A free gift for your Disney vacation! The amazing and exciting Minnie Box! (subject to minimum vacation package)

Ready to get started planning your 2016 Disney World vacation? Please contact me at any time for a free quote. The benefits to using an authorized Disney vacation planner include saving time before and during your vacation with itinerary planning which can help save you hours of standing in line each day. Plus you won’t have to watch for available discounts, research resorts, wake up early for dining reservations, or stay up late for FastPasses. The best part about using a travel planner instead of planning yourself? It’s totally FREE! Plus I’ll take away some of the stress and confusion of planning a Disney vacation (especially if it’s your first one!) I’ll walk through through all of the steps to the process with a few little insider tips along the way! If you already have your vacation planned and are interested in transferring your vacation, ask me how!

Tips & Tricks for Planning your FIRST Disney World vacation

 

The first Disney trip is a big deal. Whether it’s the first time going as an adult and planning yourself or the first time for your kids, each experience is different and deserves specialized care! While many of my general tips apply to all Disney guests, here are some that are especially for those first time travelers!

  • Travel off peak when possible. While there’s not much left for “slow” times and empty parks, staying away from holidays, Spring Breaks, and summer (essentially when kids are out of school) will make you feel more successful in the parks with less overall crowds.
  • If summer or spring break is your only option, don’t sweat it. You can still enjoy Disney while when crowds levels are higher. You can enjoy FastPass+ to the fullest by staying on Disney property which will allow you to skip the line for even more of your soon to be favorite attractions!
  • Plan ahead. Once you have your dates, get them secured. Discounts can ALWAYS be applied at the time a new promotion is released. It’s just a phone call or online request away. Packages require a $200 deposit to book and is 100% refundable 30+ days in advance, so if things change, no problem. When planning ahead, you get bonuses – 180 days in advance you can book all of your dining and 60 days ahead you can select all of your FastPasses!
  • Work with someone that knows Disney. You will save time, money, frustration, and stress by working with a travel agent. I’m always here to help if you have general questions or are looking to get your Magical experience started! I’ve found that once a person starts with a good travel agent, they continue to use him/her for future trips or refer friends. That’s a really good marker of a great person! You should not be another page in their book! I work mostly with first timers or repeat guests who are referrals to me, but don’t take my word for it – check out some of our amazing Guestimonials!
  • Try at least one sit down restaurant. Your feet will thank you and it’s fun to get a different experience and a break from the go, go, go atmosphere of Disney. Whether you want to use a dining plan or not, just try something. I even like trying something in a resort instead of a theme park. It gives you an opportunity to explore a resort for a future stay without feeling out of place (I didn’t know you could tour other resorts on my first trip!)
  • Use FastPass+ to your advantage. Whether you have base tickets or park hoppers, make sure take advantage to all the free things Disney offers as part of their package. Each ticketed guest will receive 3 FastPasses each day. Disney resort guests have the opportunity to earn more once inside the park. Check out the complete details of FastPass+ and learn strategy.
  • Customize those MagicBands. I always feel bad when I see a family with all gray bands walking around the parks or playing in the pool. Learn how to get to your customization page and get creative! Remember, these are FREE by staying at a Walt Disney World resort!
  • Children under 3 are free! If are thinking about Disney travel in the near future and your son or daughter is under 3, think about travel sooner rather than later. Children under 3 years of age are free. Free park tickets, free dining at buffets, and are able to eat off your plate at other restaurants. They also don’t count toward the total guests in your room . For a family of 5, this is huge. Once you hit 5+ in a room, you lose many hotel options. If you would have asked me 3 years ago if I’d take my under 3 year old to Disney, I would have told you no way, but having done it TWICE in under 2 years, I’d absolutely recommend it. Life is easier in diapers than it is with a recent potty trained kiddo and I really like having a mid-day break and kids force your hand! It makes the days less strenuous. If you want to do some big kid activities, learn more about Rider Switch or just bring along grandma or grandpa!
  • Children under 10 cost less! Once again, if you are going to travel in the near future, 9 years old and 10 years old make a huge difference. At 10, kids are considered Disney “adults” and pay adult prices for food and park tickets. You will save quite a bit of money by traveling before (or near) the age your child turns 10.
  • Tell Disney (or your travel agent) about any celebrations. This includes everything from first visit to birthday, graduation, anniversary, etc. Anything you can think of.  Even if travel doesn’t fall specific on a birthday or anniversary, you can still celebrate at Disney! You’ll get a little something extra. While it’s typically just a button, you never know what kind of fuss Disney will make over your special celebration.
  • Do your research! Know what resorts have to offer and know where each one is. Typically there’s a reason that one hotel is cheaper than another in each resort category. Make sure you know the details before you make your final decision!
A free gift for Disney vacation! The amazing and exciting Minnie Box! (subject to minimum vacation package)

A free gift for Disney vacation! The amazing and exciting Minnie Box! (subject to minimum vacation package)

Ready to get started planning your FIRST Disney World vacation? Please contact me at any time for a free quote. The benefits to using an authorized Disney vacation planner include saving time before and during your vacation with itinerary planning which can help save you hours of standing in line each day. Plus you won’t have to watch for available discounts, research resorts, wake up early for dining reservations, or stay up late for FastPasses. The best part about using a travel planner instead of planning yourself? It’s totally FREE! Plus I’ll take away some of the stress and confusion of planning a Disney vacation (especially if it’s your first one!)It’s also a worry free vacation opportunity. I’ll walk through through all of the steps to the process with a few little insider tips along the way! If you already have your vacation planned and are interested in transferring your vacation, ask me how!

What’s New Wednesday – October 7th edition!

Hi Disney fans! It’s time to talk about what’s new around Disney destinations! Some of it was big news and reported as it happens.

Walt Disney World

  • Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique added a Frozen themed package to have Frozen fun all year long. This is a carry over to from the Frozen Summer Fun package available at Hollywood Studios.
  • New southwest style menu debuted at Pecos Bill’s Tall Tale Inn. This looks like a monster upgrade to me from the standard burgers and food available around the entire park. From early reviews, it’s got a Chipotle type feel to it with the fresh southwest/Mexican flair and the updated toppings bar. I can’t wait to go back and try it!
  • Morimoto Asia is officially open in Disney Springs and Chef Morimoto has been around since its official opening day. I’m not sure how long he’ll be around, but if you’re in the area, it’s worth trying to find a table!
  • The Ganachery (a high end chocolate chop) will be coming to Disney Springs! This location will be focusing on the creative and unique chocolates. If you’re looking for a large volume of chocolate, Ghiaradelli is still the place to go.
  • Minnie Mouse will find a new home in Hollywood Studios outside Disney Jr. Live on Stage – it will be a unique experience to meet Mickey in her clubhouse attire (PINK instead of her normal red dress)
  • Pirates of the Caribbean re-opened with a few upgrades to the animatronics (making them more smooth and many characters getting a wardrobe upgrade. It looks like there is some better lighting inside some of the scenes that seemed a bit dark.

Disney Cruise Line

  • Disney unveils early 2017 ports and cruise itineraries. For more details, check out yesterday’s post! Remember, the best time to book your favorite cruise date is as soon as rates become available as that’s when the most staterooms are available to choose from in each booking category.

And that’s what’s new around Disney Destinations over the last week! We’ll continue to bring you important news!

A review of the “Keys to the Kingdom” tour in Magic Kingdom

My husband and I were lucky enough to enjoy the Keys to the Kingdom tour in Magic Kingdom earlier this year. This is one of many special tours Disney World offers throughout the year. Like all Disney tours, they are available at an additional cost and must be scheduled in advance. This tour in particular is only available for guests age 16 and up. Guests should be in good health as the tour is quite a bit of walking over a 5 hour period.

Tours are offered 3 times daily with start times at 8:30, 9:00, and 9:30 am and are approximately 5 hours in length. Cost is $79 per adult. There are discounts for Disney Visa Card holders, DVC members, and Annual Passholders. If you qualify for one of these discounts, you must mention it at time of booking. Payment is due at the time of booking as well and is refundable if cancelled more than 24 hours in advance from the date of your experience.

We chose the 9:30 am tour as it was the day after our late evening arrival and wanted enough time to sleep in. We checked in at Guest Services in the Town Square at Magic Kingdom and were given a name tag, earpiece, bottle of water, and asked to choose an item off the lunch menu. Lunch was scheduled for us at Columbia Harbour House (more on this later – it was the first time we had eaten here!)

Right around 9:30, we were greeted by our Guest Services tour guide who was chipper and knowledgable. We were told about the 4 keys to Walt Disney World – its foundation: Safety, Courtesy, Show, and Efficiency. We started our tour down Main Street USA looking at some of the various small details and learning how the layout and buildings play tricks on your eyes to make it feel like a magical experience as you see the castle for the very first time. Many of the larger details pointed out to us were things that I have learned over the years from reading about Disney or from seeking out special tips and hints but I did learn a few new things about the names on the windows along Main Street USA. I also learned some additional history of the creation of Walt Disney World. I’ll leave as much of this under wraps for those that want to keep the magic or to savor the experience for themselves. I’d guess we spent the first 45 minutes of the tour along Main Street getting history and details of the creation of Walt Disney World and Magic Kingdom.

Once we exited Main Street, we walked toward Adventureland and shown the attention to how all of the plants and trees start to change. Our next stop was to take a backstage look at the Jungle Cruise. Instead of the skippers corny jokes, we are given the history of the attraction and some more of the hidden treasures. It was a great look at how the ride was created, Walt’s original plan for the attraction, and what it has become today.

After exiting the attraction, we took a seat at the ever open at Tortuga Tavern in the shade which was a nice break on a hot day and got more history of Walt’s life and how both Disneyland and Walt Disney World came out of his brilliant mind. Interesting backstory, but a lot more detail than I think the tour needed.  (I’ve read that sometimes the tour also gets to Experience Pirates of the Caribbean but it was closed for refurbishment at the time we on our tour).

We got to experience our first time backstage here (we were given a quick bathroom break – there are many along this tour which is nice for someone like me that drinks a lot of water around the theme parks!) We walked to the left of Splash Mountain over the train tracks and got to see many of the parade floats. This might have been my favorite part of the tour – I LOVE Magic Kingdom parades. The location they house all of the floats is massive! I wouldn’t have guessed there were so many – but they keep the ones for Christmas and Halloween as well as the 2 daily parades AND the Move It, Shake It Street Party all on one location. We got some fun information from a cast member that works with the floats and drives them about how truly difficult that job is and what safety precautions they go through on a regular basis. It takes quite a bit to work your way up to drive some of those huge floats. Did you know that some of them don’t even have sight lines and rely solely on cameras? CRAZY!

After we returned on stage, we walked from Frontierland to Liberty Square and some additional unique details of the time periods were pointed out to us (like Main Street, I learned some new and unique things). Then, it was time for LUNCH which worked out perfectly, because I was starving!

We were seated in a little private area upstairs at Columbia Harbour House. Our meals were set by a place card for us and under the place card was our very own “Key” to the Kingdom pin! Lunch was tasty and fresh. Each person at our table had something different and enjoyed it. I’d go back there for for a quick service meal in the future!

After lunch, we were off to our second attraction of the day – Haunted Mansion. Our guide gave us some information about the Mansion’s exterior and it’s playful nature (some new things I didn’t know about one of my favorite WDW attractions!) We were given instructions of a few things to look for during our experience – did you know that the gravedigger in Haunted Mansion and the man scurrying up the pole in Jungle Cruise have the same “face”? It’s true! Next time you visit, do both of those attractions in the same day and compare! That’s a little teaser – I don’t want to give away all of the secrets of the tour.

The tour stops in Liberty Square and we head back toward Main Street USA with a few comments about the castle – no Fantasyland or Tomorrowland on this tour. THIS was the moment I had been waiting for – going down into the Utilidors – the underground tunnels of Magic Kingdom. I can say, like most, I was very underwhelmed! I was hoping to see characters getting prepped or Mickey without his head on, but nothing! It was just many cast members scurrying around us, prep areas, and a few walls with photos and some unique plaques which look like they got added specifically for this tour. The most interesting thing for me was the cast member pin trade station. It’s a little both that cast members who participate in pin trading, can swap out the pins that guests don’t want for more desirable ones. If I were a betting woman, the ones in good condition get recycled into the “mystery pins” bag. VERY SMART Disney – you win again!!

After we came back on stage, we concluded our tour. Was it interesting? Yes! Did I feel like it ruined any of the Magic of Magic Kingdom? Not at all! It was a lot more history and factual based that I expected it to be. Some of the knowledge was repeat info I had learned over my  years of research and traveling. This tour is NOT for a first timer in Disney World. It’s best suited for seasoned veterans who are looking for a unique look at the Magic Kingdom. I don’t think I would do the same tour again, but it was interesting enough to make me want more for a future tour! Next time, hopefully in cooler weather! Would I recommend this tour to a friend or family member? YES! As I mentioned, it’s best suited for someone who already knows Magic Kingdom well (you don’t want your first ride on The Jungle Cruise to ruin all of the magic!!)

Have you taken Keys to the Kingdom tour? What are your thoughts? What is your favorite Disney tour? I’d love hear from you!!