Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Disney's Hollywood Studios - Full Day or Half Day Park Revisited



Over 6 years ago, I wrote a blog post about whether or not Disney's Hollywood Studios was a half or a full day park.  At that time of that post, I honestly thought you could really do the park in a full day, if you wanted to do everything the park had to offer. 

However, things have been changing over the last two months or so. First, the Sorcerer's Hat is being removed from the main plaza area in early 2015.  In addition, four attractions have closed or will be closing:  The AFI Showcase, The American Idol Experience, The Backlot Tour, and The Legend of Captain Jack Sparrow.  Actually looking at the Walt Disney World website, they have a total of approximately 15 attractions that I would consider as legit attractions.  (They have a couple of additional things listed that while nice, I certainly am not planning a trip around them, like the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences Hall of Fame...which is just busts of famous people....that doesn't count as an attraction, I'm sorry.)

We've added one attraction recently with the "For the First Time in Forever - A Frozen Sing-Along Celebration" but still, the net number of attractions in this park have clearly decreased over the past few months. And if you don't like thrill attractions, the number of attractions available to you is even less.

While it's clear that the park is in a transition, I don't think any of us can doubt that, what's unknown is what that transition will include.  Sure, we have a good idea, if the rumors are to be believed.  We know that some sort of Star Wars extended presence is a lock, but there's also the rumored Toy Story Playland and mini-Carsland that could be on tap.  Of course, there's always the chance that there's a complete surprise from left field, however, that's typically not the case.  (Though the last surprise was a doozie...Avatarland.)

But, let's face it...even if Disney were to announce tomorrow what is being built for Disney's Hollywood Studios (Or will it be the rumored, Disney's Hollywood Adventure?) the next few years in the park will be transition years.  It's going to take time for whatever is announced to materialize.

So, what does that mean for guests who are wanting to visit this park within the next few years?  What should you consider to do with your Disney's Hollywood Studios day?

Should you spend a full day or a half day at Disney's Hollywood Studios?

Honestly, at this point in the game, I don't think Disney's Hollywood Studios is a full day park.  Too many things have been shuttered at this point. (And who knows what else will get announced for removal over the next few months.  I mean, let's be honest.  If you were to tell me three months ago that things like The Studio Backlot Tour would be closed and The Sorcerer's Hat would be on the chopping block, I wouldn't have believed you.)  It's just hard to justify spending a whole day here.  This is especially true with FastPass+ now in play.  If you can pre-schedule your FastPass+ reservations for say, Toy Story Mania, Tower of Terror, and Star Tours, you've got it made.  The day will be relatively easy as pie. Having FastPass+ reservations makes it even more evident that Disney's Hollywood Studios isn't a full day park.  

To me, the only way you can spend a full day here now is if you absolutely want to do everything offered period.  If you want to do everything (or just about) a full day is perfect.  But if you aren't big on shows or thrills, then a full day is not for you.  Do a half day and park hop to another park.

To that end, if you want to accomplish the park and feel as though you've seen the majority of the offerings, I don't think a half day is necessarily enough though.  I think that there is enough to do that a half day just won't cut it.  This is especially true if you want to see Fantasmic!

Really, I think that the optimal length of time to visit Disney's Hollywood Studios is anywhere between 2/3 - 3/4 of a day.  If you get to the park early, you can get most things done, with a little time to head over to another park for the evening activities.  Or, my tip is to sleep in a little bit or enjoy some time at your hotel.  Then, make your FastPass+ reservations for Toy Story Mania, Tower of Terror, and Star Tors in the afternoon, take in some of the other major attractions and minor offerings, enjoy a solid dinner, and go see Fantasmic!  (Of course, this method only works if the park is open until about 8 or 9.  If the park closes at 7, then you should absolutely get to the park early!)

It will be interesting to see what happens within this park within the next five years or so.  Once these changes take place, hopefully Disney's Hollywood Studios will return back to being a full day park, once again.   However, for now, this is my best suggestion of how to enjoy the park the best.

Of course, this is just my suggestion, but now I want to know what you think.  Do you think, with these changes taking place at Disney's Hollywood Studios that the park is still a full day park?  Let me know your thoughts in the comments or on the Facebook page. 

If you like this article, I shamelessly ask that you spread the word about A Disney World After All!  Share it on Twitter or Facebook...pin the photos on Pinterest, hit up the Google + emblem...just let others know about us here!  Also, make sure to LIKE our Facebook page and find me on Twitter, I'm @RikkiNibs!      

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Walt Disney World News and Rumors 10/20/14 - 10/26/14






News and Rumors are gathered from various different sources. All rumors are rumors and are to be taken as such.   

 
News

Magic Kingdom
  • "The Move It, Shake It, Dance and Play It" Street Party has debuted replacing the "Move It, Shake It, Dance and Play It" Street Party. 
  • The Liberty Square Riverboat will be closed for a refurbishment January 23 through 27.
  • Under the Sea - Journey of the Little Mermaid will be closing from February 2 through March 6. Rumors say that lighting upgrades will take place during the refurb.


Disney's Hollywood Studios 
  • The Sorcerer's Hat will be removed likely in early 2015.
  • The Legend of Captain Jack Sparrow will be closing on November 6.


Disney Resorts

  • Disney's Beach Club will undergo a 20 month refurb beginning this winter.

Downtown Disney

  • Two new small shops/kiosks have opened at the Marketplace in front of Fulton's Crab House; Set the Bar and Sublime Gifts and Finds. 

General Walt Disney World News
  • Disney has expanded the "Glow with the Show" ears.  The new program will be called "Made with Magic" and will now offer a Sorcerer Mickey Wand, a Minnie Mouse headband, and a Mickey Mouse hand, which will be sold with the ears.

Rumors
  • Shark Reef could be going away at Typhoon Lagoon in the upcoming refurbishment.
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Sunday, October 19, 2014

Walt Disney World News and Rumors 10/13/14 - 10/19/14






 

News and Rumors are gathered from various different sources. All rumors are rumors and are to be taken as such. 

News


Magic Kingdom

  • The Island Supply shop in Adventureland will be closing October 22 to make way for a new store.


Epcot

  • Two new additions will take part in the Candlelight Processional. LeVar Burton will be there December 7-8 and Edward James Olmos will be there from December 9-11.
  • The new flag-throwing entertainment act has debuted at the Italy Pavilion called Sbandieratori Di Sansepolcro.


Disney's Hollywood Studios

  • Guests will be able to meet Hiro Hamada and Baymax from Big Hero 6 beginning mid-November in the Magic of Disney Animation. They will find the two in Hiro's garage workshop.



Disney Resorts

  • Trattoria al Forno at Disney's BoardWalk Inn will officially open December 18. You can make reservations beginning on October 21.  Both breakfast and dinner will be offered. 


General Walt Disney World News

  • New specialty MagicBands will be released for the Holiday season.

Rumors

  • Some new interactive merchandise should be coming soon to Disney's Hollywood Studios and the Magic Kingdom.


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Wednesday, October 15, 2014

What Happens When An Attraction Goes Down and You Have a FastPass



You've planned your Walt Disney World vacation for months; you've picked which park you want to go to each day, you've made your dining reservations, and you've decided which FastPass+ reservations you wanted. Everything is perfect.

But what happens when the unexpected happens?  What happens when an attraction that you have a FastPass+ reservation for goes down for an issue at the exact time your FastPass is up and ready to be utilized?

Well, the past couple of trips, I was able to experience exactly what happens.

On the first trip, I had a FastPass that I made for Maelstrom.  It went down right before I could make it over. 


The second time was a few weeks later for Pirates of the Caribbean.


As you can see, there are some similarities between the two.  Both say that I can visit the attraction again as soon as it comes back on-line.  In addition, I don't have to do anything to ride; all I need to do is simply visit the attraction, utilize my MagicBand or admission ticket, and I'll be admitted in, no matter the time.

However, if I don't want to (or if the attraction doesn't come back during the day) I have other options that I can choose from.  The options that you can choose from vary, depending on different things.  First, at Epcot, the attraction you can choose from as a secondary choice will depend on the Tier that your first attraction choice was.  For example, Maelsrom was a Tier 2 attraction, so I had the option to choose from any other Tier 2 attraction that Disney has.  (The same would work at Disney's Hollywood Studios, I would suspect...if I had a Tier 1 attraction that went down for issues, I would get to choose from another Tier 1 attraction.  At Disney's Animal Kingdom, I would suspect that all attractions would be available given that they offer no Tiering.)

The interesting part comes when you get to the Magic Kingdom.  You see, because the Magic Kingdom has so many attraction, the park is divided up into different categories.  So, for example, when Pirates went down, we weren't allowed to choose just any attraction.  We could only visit attractions that were somewhat similar. Pirates isn't a thrill ride, so the thrills weren't an option.  However, when we went to Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger Spin and got evacuated off of it, we received paper FastPasses that were only applicable for the thrill rides.  (Yep...Buzz Lightyear is considered a thrill...ok...unfortunately, Seven Dwarfs Mine Train wasn't an option, so we rode Space Mountain.)

As you can see, Disney takes care of guests who may be inconvenienced by an attraction unexpectedly going down when you have a FastPass+ reservation. Have you experienced an attraction going off-line when you had a FastPass+ reservation? Let me know your experience in the comments or on Facebook!

If you like this article, I shamelessly ask that you spread the word about A Disney World After All!  Share it on Twitter or Facebook...pin the photos on Pinterest, hit up the Google + emblem...just let others know about us here!  Also, make sure to LIKE our Facebook page and find me on Twitter, I'm @RikkiNibs!      

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Walt Disney World News and Rumors 10/6/14 - 10/12/14





News and Rumors are gathered from various different sources. All rumors are rumors and are to be taken as such. 

 
News

Magic Kingdom
  • Be Our Guest Restaurant seems to only currently be accepting guests for lunch who have FastPass+ reservations to dine at the restaurant.  The standby line is not currently available.

General Walt Disney World News
  • The Hess Gas Station across from Disney's BoardWalk Inn will be closed for few weeks beginning October 13.

Rumors 

  • RunDisney's race docket doesn't include the Tower of Terror 10 Miler in 2015. Rumors are indicating this could be because of construction that is expected to be taking place in Disney's Hollywood Studios.
  • Disney seemingly confirmed that a third track is likely coming for Toy Story Mania.  This track will likely be solely for FastPass+ reservations.

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Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Traveling to Walt Disney World with a Senior Citizen



Whew...it's been a whirlwind last few weeks....for those who don't know...I took a trip to Disney World with my family, including my 94 year old grandma; found out that that same grandma had a stroke and was not doing well (though she is doing better, she's still not great, but I'm so appreciative of all of your prayers and good thoughts); oh and then I headed back to Disney World for Epic October to see my Be Our Guest Podcast family.  So...needless to say....my life has been a LOT crazy!

But, now I'm back and you are stuck with me because I don't have a trip planned for a while (though, that could change at the drop of a hat...) so today, I thought I'd take some of the things I learned when I was down there with grandma, so you could learn some great tips to consider when taking a senior citizen to Walt Disney World! 

Now, for those of you who don't follow along, my brother recently moved to Orlando and so my family wanted to go down to see him.  This trip included me, my brother, my mom, and my 94 year old grandma who was taking her first ever trip to The World. (That's right, 94 and never been).  We had a few days to see it all and we managed to squeeze in quite a bit.  It was a fantastic trip filled with a lot of great memories (which helped to keep me sane when I found out grandma had the stroke.)  But with this trip, I learned a lot about touring the parks with someone who is elderly. Today, I thought I'd share my Top 5 tips with you.

  •  Keep mindful of their pace:  This I believe was the hardest for my family to comprehend.  You see, we still see grandma as someone who can do most things.  She is more than capable to us.  What we didn't realize is how tiring even sitting in a chair is.  So, while we certainly tried to keep things on an easy pace, it likely wasn't on the pace that grandma needed.  Try to take breaks in the afternoon and let your senior citizen relax a bit.  Even if they don't want to nap.  They have the same sort of stamina as toddlers in a way; know that going in and you'll be fine.

  • Wheelchairs are your friends (except when they aren't):  There is absolutely no way we could have done Disney without putting grandma in a wheelchair.  She hates wheelchairs, but for all the walking that you do, the wheelchair was a necessity.  I will say, that Disney does an excellent job in accommodating guests in wheelchairs. (And for those who believe that wheelchair guests get right on attractions most of the time, you would be dead wrong...for most rides, we waited in the same line as everyone else does and on quite a few attractions when it was time to ride, we actually had to wait longer for the handicapped accessible vehicle to arrive. It was actually interesting to see what the handicapped accessible vehicles looked like and how they allowed for guests with disabilities to easily ride on attractions.)  The only bad part about the wheelchair was pushing it. You don't realize how hilly some parts of The World are (I'm looking at you hill leading up to The Land...I despise that hill now.)  Also, while the different and unique pavements are gorgeous to look at...they certainly rattle the chair...I could feel it as I was pushing her...makes me wonder how her booty felt!
  • Kids meals are perfect for them:  So....Disney meals are very, very large!  My grandma doesn't eat a lot, but the kids meals were just the right size for her.  The only problem is, there just aren't a ton of choices. (And grandma is EXTREMELY PICKY!)  I've said it before and I'll say it again, I wish Disney would create kids meals that were smaller versions of adult meals at more restaurants.  They did this at Be Our Guest and it worked out swimmingly.  It isn't always kids eating the kids meals Disney...not everyone can and wants to eat a ridiculously large portion...it would be nice to have a bit more variety in kids meal offerings so that those of use who don't eat a lot still get to eat something good.  They've done decent, but things could still be a lot better for kids meal offerings.

  • They will enjoy the darndest things:  My grandma absolutely loved things that I never thought she would.  Some of her favorites were Jungle Cruise, Carousel of Progress (her mom actually had some of the things from the first scene in her kitchen), Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger Spin, it's a small world, and Ellen's Energy Adventure (even though she doesn't like Ellen...those were her words describing her liking the attraction...haha!) She also had a great time at Yeehaa Bob's, who is found at Port Orleans Riverside in the River Roost Lounge. (Though she didn't want to meet Bob, despite me trying to get her to.)  Did I ever think in a million years that my grandma would enjoy Buzz Lightyear?  Nope...but it was a clear winner.  Make sure to ask them what they enjoyed and take them on attractions that are similar! 

  • Remember the time together:  I knew this was a special trip, so the memories that I have are priceless, but I made absolutely sure that one thing I did was to take pictures of my grandma.  I took tons of her enjoying things.  It was so great to see her so happy.  (And with the stroke, those photos of her being happy are a source of happiness for me.)  Not only did I take photos of her, but I took photos with her.  You all may know I'm a fan of the selfie....so selfies with grandma were something I made sure to do.  Those are some of my favorite photos I have of the entire trip.  Because it shows off the fun that grandma and I were having together.  So make sure you capture and remember the memories.  They will be so important going forward. 
One last tip:  I know this makes it more than five...but meh...make sure to keep your senior citizen hydrated.  My grandma hates water and doesn't really drink much during the day, so it was hard to convince her that Florida sun would take a lot out of her and that she would need to keep water in her system.  Of course, while we were there, we only had one super hot day...so my advice to her fell on deaf ears...but really....if you take a senior citizen...make sure they drink liquids.  I don't want to see something bad happen cause they didn't. 


For those who say I can't take the senior citizen in my family to Walt Disney World, they wouldn't enjoy it, I am here to tell you, you are dead wrong. My grandma had a fantastic trip with all of us and we with her.  Will the pace be slower, yes; will they get to do everything, no; but no matter what, it will be worth it.  Knowing that we all had good quality family time together is all that matters.  Because let's face it, this...this trip right here....that's what going to Disney is all about; creating the memories that you will cherish forever. I would do it all over again in a heartbeat, if we could.  Unfortunately, that will likely never be the case. 

So, my best piece of advice about traveling with senior citizens is don't put it off any longer.  Plan that trip with your extended family today.  You never know what tomorrow will bring; my family is proof of that.

Have you ever traveled with Senior Citizens?  What are your best tips? Let me know in the comments section or on the Facebook page. 

If you like this article, I shamelessly ask that you spread the word about A Disney World After All!  Share it on Twitter or Facebook...pin the photos on Pinterest, hit up the Google + emblem...just let others know about us here!  Also, make sure to LIKE our Facebook page and find me on Twitter, I'm @RikkiNibs!     

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Walt Disney World News and Rumors 9/29/14 - 10/5/14



News

Magic Kingdom

  • The Haunted Mansion gift shop, Memento Mori is in soft openings.
Epcot
  • The new lumberjack show called The Canadian Lumberjack Show, has debuted at the Canada Pavilion.
  • Maelstrom has closed officially to make way for a Frozen attraction.
  • Jonathan Groff will be a narrator for Candlelight Processional December 3-4 and Joe Morton will be narrating from December 12-14.

Disney's Hollywood Studios
  • Disney has introduced a new Frozen Holiday Premium Package from November 7 through January 4 (with the exception of November 20 and December 10.) Cost is $89 per adult, and $59 for ages 3-9, plus tax. Theme park admission is required and not included. Guests will be able to take advantage of:
    • Reserved seating for For the First Time in Forever: A Frozen Sing-Along Celebration
    • A Frozen themed dessert party
    • Reserved viewing spot at the Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights
    • A special holiday lithograph
    • A Frozen themed pin.

Disney's Animal Kingdom
  • The Affection Section will be closed for a refurbishment from October 7 - November 11.

General Walt Disney World News
  • Kouzzina has closed at Disney's BoardWalk Inn.

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Sunday, September 28, 2014

Walt Disney World News and Rumors 9/22/14 - 9/28/14




News and Rumors are gathered from various different sources. All rumors are rumors and are to be taken as such. 


News

Magic Kingdom
  • The Seven Dwarfs Mine Train has the option to add an on-ride video to Memory Maker.

Downtown Disney
  •  LaNouba is offering a dinner package this fall. The package is offering 1 ticket to a 6:00 p.m. performance, Tuesday through Saturday on the following nights: September 30 through November 1 or November 6 through November 22.  Guests can choose to eat dinner at Wolfgang Puck Grand Cafe, Planet Hollywood or Splitsville Luxury Lanes either before or after the show. The offer includes one entrĂ©e, dessert and a non-alcoholic beverage.  Cost is: 
    • 99 plus tax for a Category 2 ticket ($89 plus tax for children ages 3 to 9)
    • $119 plus tax for a Category 1 ticket ($109 plus tax for children ages 3 to 9


General Walt Disney World News
  •  Disney has updated the park rules. The biggest change relates to the smoking of e-cigarettes. For the full details of all the changes, check out the updated info.
  • Disney has updated the monorail schedule again.  This schedule is in effect until further notice. The updated schedule is: 
    • Magic Kingdom Resort Beam - 7am to 1 hour after park close
    • Magic Kingdom Express Beam - 8:30am to 1 hour following park close
    • Epcot Beam - 8am to 11pm or 1 hour after Magic Kingdom closes (whichever is earliest)

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Sunday, September 21, 2014

Walt Disney World News and Rumors 9/15/14 - 9/21/14





News and Rumors are gathered from various different sources. All rumors are rumors and are to be taken as such.  


Walt Disney World News


Magic Kingdom
  • The Seven Dwarfs Mine Train now has the ability to add video to your Memory Maker profile.
  • Splash Mountain will see its annual refurbishment from January 4 - 30. 


Disney's Hollywood Studios
  • Studio Backlot Tour will close on September 27 for new enhancements. Part of the Streets of America portion of the attraction will be used for the new version of the Wandering Oaken Trading Post.

Disney's Animal Kingdom
  • Kali River Rapids will have a refurbishment from January 20 through February 4.


Rumors
  • Could there be a Frozen Premium Package for Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party?  It would be similar to the Villains Soiree, with premium viewing for the parade and fireworks and special dessert party at Cinderella's Royal Table with a potential meet opportunity with Olaf.

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Sunday, September 14, 2014

Walt Disney World News and Rumors 9/8/14 - 9/14/14



News and Rumors are gathered from various different sources. All rumors are rumors and are to be taken as such.  


News


Magic Kingdom
  • Elsa will be taking over the Holiday Castle Lighting Ceremony this year.  In addition, Anna, Elsa, Kristoff, and Olaf will debut in the "Mickey's Once Upon a Christmastime Parade" this year.
  • The phone charging stations found at Cosmic Rays and at the Tomorrowland Arcade have been removed.  The charging stations were there as a part of a test.

Epcot
  • Maelstrom will be closing on October 5.  In it's place will be a brand new Frozen attraction will be built. Also, a new meet and greet featuring Anna and Elsa will be constructed.  The new attraction is expected to be complete by early 2016.  For my thoughts, read my latest blog post.

Disney's Hollywood Studios
  •  The "For the First Time In Forever - A Frozen Sing-Along Celebration" will be continuing past September 28.  In addition, the Wandering Oaken's Trading Post will be moving closer to the sing-along, and will feature a larger play area.


General Walt Disney World News
  •  By this December, Apple Pay will be able to be utilized at the Walt Disney World Resort. 
  • The amount to activate a Disney gift card has changed; the rate now starts at $15.

Rumors

  • Toy Story Mania will see an expansion, making the attraction larger with what one can assume would be at least one more track.
  • Disney Princess MagicBands seem to be on their way.
  • Minnie could be moving from her meet and greet location at the Art of Disney Animation Building and could be moving back to Hollywood Blvd.

Download the brand NEW Disney Food Blog Guide to the 2014 Epcot International Food and Wine Festival.  The fun starts this week! Find out about this year's festivities.