Your subscriptions support new blog articles and research. Please consider

subscribing.

today.


The SATURDAY SIX Looks at the (possible) future of Walt Disney World and Universal

by on June 24, 2017
Filed under: Ask Jim Hill, Saturday Six, Star Wars

This week’s SATURDAY SIX takes a look at the (possible) future of Walt Disney World and Univeral!  As they do several times each month, TouringPlans’ own Len Testa teamed up with industry icon Jim Hill to record an episode of the Disney Dish podcast. This particular episode was going to be answering a listener question of character meet-and-greets in the park, but before they got to that question the two men discussed several major stories affecting both Walt Disney World and the Universal Orlando Resort. The two theme park titans discussed many rumored additions and changes to the two resorts, as well as giving reasons why they may – and may not – actually come to fruition. Today we’re going to take a look at some of the more important items, and let’s kickoff the countdown with…

# 6 – It’s GAME ON for Universal’s Super Nintendo World vs. Disney’s Star Wars Land

Universal vs. Disney. (art by Joel Carroll)

Many of us saw the recent groundbreaking of Super Nintendo World in Japan, and a lot of us have been waiting (not so) patiently for some news on what Universal and Nintendo have cooked up for Orlando. Universal waiting on announcing new projects is nothing new, in fact many insiders say the company got “burned” when announcing the original Wizarding World early, causing many guests to delay their Universal vacations until it was opened. Whatever the case, news on Nintendo attractions in America has been between slim and none until recently.

All of a sudden, the flood gates opened. Thanks to Twitter user Gary Snyder we got a look at the original pitch for a Nintendoland in Universal Studios Florida along with some pieces of concept art. In a word, these pictures were mind-blowing. Located in the area of USF that currently houses Woody Woodpecker’s KidZone, the new Nintendo area would replace everything except the E.T. Adventure (the only opening day ride still in the park) and the ultra-themed gift store,Spongebob Storepants.

Early draft of what could possibly be coming to Universal Studios Florida and how it would fit into the park. (photo via Gary Snyder)

Read the rest of this entry »

In Case You Missed It: Disney News and Rumors – Week of June 23, 2017

by on June 23, 2017
Filed under: In Case You Missed It 4 Comments

It’s official! This week, you can book your 2018 Walt Disney World vacation! Did you book yours? When are you heading to the Orlando area?

This week, see how they made the cars in Cars 3 look that much more realistic, find out what new treats you must try on your next WDW vacation, and more!

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

 

The Hollywood Reporter just released their Top 100 Most Powerful People in Entertainment and for the second year in a row Bob Iger topped the list.

Did you miss the big hubbub when a piece of the monorail fell off? Read the rest of this entry »

Review of Breakfast at Goofy’s Kitchen in Disneyland Hotel

by on June 22, 2017
Filed under: Dining, Disneyland (CA) 2 Comments

It’s the morning on your last day of your trip to Disneyland Resort. You still have several characters you need to meet so you can complete you Disney character checklist. The problem is you also need a place to stuff your face with ungodly amounts of unlimited food before you return to your soul crushing job the next day. This restaurant may be for you. Here’s my review of breakfast at Goofy’s Kitchen in Disneyland Hotel.

When you check in you will be required to pay upfront. Before the shock of $36 per adult and $21 per child can hit you, a cast member will inform you it is time to meet Goofy. He’s decked out in appropriate attire, as are the rest of the characters you will meet later (Minnie Mouse is the dessert chef, Chip & Dale are dressed as waiters, etc). Goofy thankfully doesn’t show any signs of stress and pressure of owning a busy and successful restaurant. He is as fun and playful as he would be if you met him in the parks. At some point in your meal you will be given the option of buying expensive picture packages of your meet and greet with Goofy. I noticed most people politely decline this offer, as did my group due to the $20+ charge. Read the rest of this entry »

Eat to the Beat Concert Series Artists for 2017

by on June 22, 2017
Filed under: Epcot, Recent News 7 Comments

©Rikki Niblett

With this year’s Epcot Food and Wine Festival taking place even earlier than ever before (the event kicks off August 31 and lasts through November 13), we are that much closer to the event. I mean it’s literally happening in almost two months time, so it will be here before we know it!

Today, we have the information for who will be performing at this year’s Eat to the Beat Concert Series. During this concert series, bands and solo artists perform some of their most popular songs nightly. Oh and since there’s more days of the festival than ever before, that means there are more new performers too! This year, there will be 11 new performers to the Eat to the Beat series  including Jazz Legend Kenny G, and pop superstars like 10,000 Maniacs and Squeeze.

Of course, there will be some familiar faces at this year’s festival too. Artists like Taylor Dane, Tiffany, STARSHIP, Sugar Ray, Boyz II Men, and my personal favorite, Hanson will all return. (I’m going to miss Hanson AGAIN!!! ARGH!)

This year’s schedule is as follows: Read the rest of this entry »

Walt Disney World Fourth of July Celebrations

by on June 21, 2017
Filed under: Recent News, Walt Disney World (FL) 2 Comments

Fourth of July Celebrations at Walt Disney World

©Rikki Niblett

Fourth of July and fireworks. They go together like peanut butter and jelly, right? Walt Disney World is ready to celebrate the good old red, white, and blue in fantastic fashion. So, if you are wanting to salute all nations, but mostly America, they have some great ways to do it!

Magic Kingdom

Celebrate with Disney’s Celebrate America! A Fourth of July Concert in the Sky which commemorates the Fourth with brilliant fireworks that are all choreographed to patriotic music. The best part about this fireworks spectacular is that they are shown on two nights – July 3 and July 4 at 9:00 p.m. So you have two chances to catch this unique and special show.

You also don’t want to miss The Muppets Present…Great Moments in History. During the show, Miss Piggy, Kermit, Fozzie Bear and friends reenact famous moments in American history all in a fun manner. This is a live show that is performed daily in Liberty Square.

Another must see during the holiday is the Flag Retreat which takes place at 5:00 p.m. each day in Town Square on Main Street U.S.A.

The Disney Festival of Fantasy Parade will be shown twice on both July 3 and 4 – once at 12:00 p.m. and once at 3:30 p.m. Read the rest of this entry »

#AskIt – Best Disney World Water Park

by on June 21, 2017
Filed under: Just For Fun, Walt Disney World (FL) 8 Comments

Maybe it’s because the summer heat is upon us. Maybe it’s because Volcano Bay may not be quite ready for primetime. But I’ve got water parks on the mind today. Disney has two highly themed ones for you to choose from, and they both have their advantages. So which do you prefer?

View Results

Loading ... Loading ...

Please let us know your thoughts by voting and in the comments. Feel free to use the comments to wax poetic about River Country too!

Ask It Results: Which Walt Disney World Mountain Provides the Best Experience?

by on June 21, 2017
Filed under: Just For Fun, Walt Disney World (FL) 3 Comments

Exciting! Thrilling! Rides I have never been on because I’m a thrill ride chicken! It’s time for the results of Ask It!

Last week, we asked you:

Which Walt Disney World mountain provides the best experience?

Yes, the question was left vague on what “experience” meant to each person. For some, it was an overall impression–from the queue to the ride itself and everything in between. For others, it was all about the ride and how thrilling that ride can be. It was close the end, two rides were neck and neck but one finally got moving along to the win of our not-so-scientific poll. Here’s the results.

Read the rest of this entry »

Finding the Least Crowded Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party in 2017

by on June 21, 2017
Filed under: Christmas, Crowd Blog, Special events, Walt Disney World (FL) 12 Comments

Here I am once again to review the information from last year and give you an even better projection for the least crowded Micky’s Very Merry Christmas Party 2017. Make sure you check out our dedicated page for a complete list of dates as well as a thorough description of what the Christmas party is.

In short, if you’re looking for the best Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party 2017, we recommend Tuesday, December 5, 2017. The equivalent date was the party last year with the lowest wait times and has been very low in the past. It’s a Tuesday, early in December, far enough away from the first party for the initial rush to subside and far enough from Christmas to avoid that rush as well.

As I’ll explain below, we’ve made some adjustments to how we calculate the best party to attend, although since I’m sure you’re wondering how we did with our recommendations last year, the answer is…not too bad. Here are the top 5 from last year’s recommendations:

Read the rest of this entry »

Megaphone To Host Album Release Party at House of Blues at Disney Springs

by on June 20, 2017
Filed under: Recent News

Megaphone

©Megaphone

I know a lot of you are reading the title of this blog post and going, ok….what’s the connection between this Orlando band, Megaphone, and Disney. You know, minus the fact that they are holding their release party at House of Blues at Disney Springs. Well, for those who don’t know, Megaphone includes musicians from the fan favorite band, Mulch Sweat n’ Shears (who used to play at Disney’s Hollywood Studios), as well as current musicians from Blue Man Group at the Universal Orlando Resort.

Megaphone band members include Matt Bloodwell who is the lead singer and rhythm guitarist, Paul Smith who is on lead guitar, Scott Smith who is on drums, and Dave Traver who is on bass. Matt, Paul and Scott were all part of Mulch Sweat n’ Shears and currently Matt, Paul and Dave are musicians at Universal’s Blue Man Group show.

To celebrate the release of Megaphone’s new album called “Sending Out a Signal,” the band will be performing at House of Blues in Disney Springs on June 24. Doors open at 7:30 p.m. and the concert begins at 8:00 p.m. Megaphone’s new album will be available for the first time at this event! Tickets are available for FREE at megaphonemusic.com. On the night of the concert, tickets will be $5.00 at the door.

Also performing that evening will be Copper Bones, Kinky Rhino and Kasson.

For those who love great music, this will be a rockin’ evening that you won’t want to miss!

Disney Dining Plan Updated – Now With Alcohol

by on June 20, 2017
Filed under: Dining, Drinking, Walt Disney World (FL) 25 Comments

There are big changes coming to the Disney Dining Plan in 2018. Beginning in January, the Dining Plan will include entitlements for specialty drinks and … drum roll please … alcoholic beverages.

Will you now get a mimosa with your character breakfast?

As in previous years, there will be three versions of the Dining Plan: Quick Service Plan (QS), Standard Disney Dining Plan (DDP), Deluxe Disney Dining Plan (Deluxe DDP). With all versions of the plan, guests under age 21 may choose one non-alcoholic beverage (including specialty beverages where offered). Guests over 21 may choose either one single serving non-alcoholic beverage (including specialty beverages where offered) or one single serving beer, wine, or cocktail (where offered) within their meal entitlement.

Examples of single serving non-alcoholic beverages include artisanal milkshakes, fresh smoothies, premium hot chocolates, and the standard soda, coffee, or tea.

Examples of single serving alcoholic beverages include beer, hard cider, wine, sangria, mixed drinks, and specialty cocktails. Disney notes that most beer, wine and mixed drink beverages are included, but some exceptions apply. Not surprisingly, guests must be age 21 and over and present valid ID to be served alcohol.

Alcoholic beverages may only be redeemed with quick-service or table-service meal entitlements. This means that you won’t be able to make a margarita your snack; you have to get it with a meal.

So the big question is … What’s this going to cost? Well, you guessed it, prices are going up. For adults:

  • The Quick Service Plan will be $52.49, up from $48.19 in 2017
  • The Standard Disney Dining Plan will be $75.59, up from $69.35 in 2017
  • The Deluxe Disney Dining Plan will be $116.24, up from $106.68 in 2017

As before, those prices are per person, per night of your stay at a Walt Disney World owned resort hotel. As a reminder, in addition to these new specialty and alcoholic beverage entitlements, the dining plans include:

Quick Service

  • 2 Quick-Service Meal Credits (Entree and non-alcoholic beverage; or combo meal)
  • 2 Snack Credits
  • 1 Resort Refillable Drink Mug

Disney Dining Plan

  • 1 Table-Service Meal Credit (Entree, Dessert, and Non-Alcoholic Beverage; or full buffet)
  • 1 Quick-Service Meal Credit
  • 2 Snack Credits
  • 1 Resort Refillable Drink Mug

Deluxe Dining Plan

  • 3 Meal Credits of your choice (can be used as either Quick-Service or Table-Service)
  • 2 Snack Credits
  • 1 Resort Refillable Drink Mug

The addition of alcohol is most cost effective for guests using the Quick Service plan. With only a $4.30 price increase, this means that if you typically buy one alcoholic beverage with your QS Plan, then you’re saving money over the typical cost of $6-8 for beer or wine, or more for mixed or specialty alcoholic drinks. Deluxe Plan purchasers will effectively be paying $9.56 for the same drink, much closer to, and possibly over the list price of the beverage.

[EDIT: I initially wrote this with the assumption that there would be one alcohol credit per day. Readers have pointed out that the plan likely includes one alcohol credit per meal. This would mean guests on the QS and standard plans could have two drinks per day, and guests on the deluxe plan could have three drinks per day, all at the cost of about $2.00 per drink. That’s a lot of cheap booze, and perhaps a dangerous amount of free booze for some people.]

We’re anxious to see details of how the plan will be implemented, and we’re sure there will be some hiccups in the initial weeks of service as food service cast members and guests both become acclimated to the rules (and the exceptions to the rules) of this new Dining Plan configuration.

In the meantime, we have questions:

  • Will teetotalers now be less inclined to purchase the plan?
  • Will calorie conscious guests now be less inclined to purchase the plan?
  • Will service times slow down as more guests need bar items?
  • Will the quick service venues in the Magic Kingdom begin to serve alcohol?
  • How much will Disney try to upsell second alcoholic drinks?
  • Does Disney think that if guests consume more alcohol, they’ll loosen their purse strings and spend more on souvenirs or other items?
  • Will international guests purchasing the plan understand that they’re increasing their cost for gratuities?
  • Will more guests want breakfast cocktails?
  • Will more guests be consuming more alcohol overall, changing the general mood in the parks?

We won’t know the answers to many of these questions until next year, but we’re sure there will be much speculation in the meantime.

What issues does this new Dining Plan configuration raise for you? Let us know in the comments below.