By the co-author of The easy Guide to Your Walt Disney World Visit 2017, from the best-reviewed Disney World guidebook series ever. Paperback available on Amazon here. Kindle version available on Amazon here. PDF version available on Gumroad here.



yourfirstvisit.net—Disney World Instructions for the First-Time Visitor







Category — w. Most Recent Stuff

Next Week (March 18 through March 26, 2017) at Walt Disney World

DISNEY WORLD NEXT WEEK: MARCH 18 TO MARCH 26, 2017

The material below details next week’s Disney World operating hours, Extra Magic Hours, parades, and fireworks.

For more on March 2017 at Disney World, see this.

OPERATING HOURS AT WALT DISNEY WORLD 3/18/-3/26/17

The Magic Kingdom will be open from 9a-11p 3/18, 9a-10p 3/19, 9a-11p 3/20 through 3/25, and 9a-10p 3/26

Epcot will be open from 9a-9p every day

Disney’s Hollywood Studios will be open 9a-9p every day

Disney’s Animal Kingdom will be open 9a-9.30p 3/18 and 3/19, 9a-9p 3/20, 9a-9.30p 3/21, 9a-9p 3/22, 9a-9.30p 3/23, 9a-9p 3/24, and 9a-9.30p 3/25 and 3/26

EXTRA MAGIC HOURS AT WALT DISNEY WORLD 3/18-3/26/17

Saturday 3/18 Morning:  Animal Kingdom Evening: none

Sunday 3/19  Morning:  Hollywood Studios Evening: none

Monday 3/20 Morning: Animal Kingdom  Evening: none

Tuesday 3/21 Morning: none Evening:  Epcot

Wednesday 3/22 Morning: none  Evening:  Magic Kingdom

Thursday 3/23 Morning: Epcot Evening: none

Friday 3/24 Morning:  Magic Kingdom Evening: none

Saturday 3/25 Morning: Animal Kingdom Evening: none

Sunday 3/26  Morning: Hollywood Studios Evening: none

Mickey and Minnie Festival of Fantasy Afternoon Parade from yourfirstvisit.netPARADES AT WALT DISNEY WORLD 3/18-3/26/17

The Magic Kingdom: Afternoon Festival of Fantasy Parade: 3p every day

FIREWORKS AND EVENING SHOWS AT WALT DISNEY WORLD 3/18-3/26/17

Wishes at the Magic Kingdom: 9p every night

IllumiNations at Epcot: 9p every night

Fantasmic at Disney’s Hollywood Studios: 8.30p every night

Star Wars Show and Fireworks at Disney’s Hollywood Studios: 9p every night

Rivers of Light at Disney’s Animal Kingdom: 8.45p and 10p 3/18, 3/19, 3/21, 3/23, 3/25 and 3/26

SHOW SCHEDULES FOR WALT DISNEY WORLD 3/18-3/26/17

See Steve Soares’ site here. Click the park names at its top for show schedules.

The 2017 easy Guide

Kelly B Can Help You Book Your Trip

Follow yourfirstvisit.net on Facebook or Google+ or Twitter or Pinterest!!

March 16, 2017   No Comments

A Friday Visit with Jim Korkis: The BoardWalk’s AbracadaBar

Welcome back to Fridays with Jim Korkis! Jim, the dean of Disney historians and author of Jim’s Gems in The easy Guide, writes about Walt Disney World history every Friday on yourfirstvisit.net.

THE STORY OF ABRACADABAR

By Jim Korkis

The AbracadaBar at the BoardWalk opened in July 2016, serving enchanting elixirs and curious concoctions in the location previously occupied by SeaShore Sweets.

According to Disney publicity, “This little lounge was a former stomping ground for the famous magicians, boardwalk illusionists, and lovely magician’s assistants of the Golden Age. After a show, prestidigitators would gather to ‘conjure’ up new cocktails, swap magic tips and tricks, and stay up all night attempting to ‘out-charm’ each other with their extraordinary illusions.

“According to BoardWalk lore, it was on just such an evening that every single magician in the lounge vanished into thin air, and was never seen again …”

Now, after sitting vacant for nearly seventy-six years, it is back in operation to the general public.

It was on a Friday the 13th in September 1940 that the mysterious disappearance took place but since this private sophisticated social club was left exactly as it was decades ago the magic still remains strongly intact, and can be seen, heard, and savored in the bar’s signature cocktails including Elixir 13, a mixture of Lucid Absinthe and water that may have helped cause the magicians’ disappearance.

The rich and ornate area is decorated with enchanted ever-changing magic show posters, mystifying mirrors, and vintage props and tricks left behind decades ago including displays of locks and keys, cards, linking rings and magic wands.

Even the wall paper has hidden images of interlocking rings, doves, rabbits, card suits, handcuffs and other magical artifacts.

On one wall is a framed copy of The Boardwalk Bugle newspaper from Wednesday November 13, 1940 telling the official back story:

“The shocking revelations of a secret magicians’ lounge could point to new clues concerning the group of beloved illusionists who mysteriously vanished from our boardwalk weeks ago. Though, truth be told, we may be more perplexed than before.

“A custodian working at BoardWalk’s magic club made the surprising discovery late yesterday evening when he rested his mop against a false door leading into the secret room. By the look of the room’s peculiar décor – including magical accoutrements and shelves lined with curious elixirs – this is no doubt the clandestine hideout of our missing master magicians.

“But there’s just one dilemma…there are still no magicians in sight!

“After investigating the magicians’ hideout this morning, The Boardwalk Bugle noticed something extra out of the ordinary about this already peculiar lounge. Glasses filled with odd elixirs still sat on the countertops.

“Magic props and playing cards were scattered all about. And, stranger yet, all of the clocks in the room were set to thirteen past the hour – almost as if time froze and every magician disappeared on the spot.

“When we questioned the club owner about her knowledge of the hidden room and the possible whereabouts of the missing magicians, she repeated the same unhelpful news we’ve been reporting for weeks now: “A good magician never reveals her secrets!”

“According to multiple witnesses, the missing conjurers in question were last seen entering the loading area behind BoardWalk’s magic club on September 13th. All wore ostentatious costumes, and were accompanied by assistants, stagehands and crates filled with small animals – including doves, rabbits and the like.

“Suspicions only arose when the touring magician Laslow the Lucky failed to appear for his much anticipated matinee performance the following day. In addition to M. Laslow, it would appear that his assistant, multiplying rabbits and every illusionist on the boardwalk vanished along with him.

“Whether a good illusion or a simple misunderstanding, The Boardwalk Bugle will be certain to keep our dear readers informed about the whereabouts of our beloved magicians.”

*  *  *  *  *

Thanks, Jim! And come back next Friday for more from Jim Korkis!

In the meantime, check out his books, including Secret Stories of Walt Disney World: Things You Never You Never Knew, which reprints much material first written for this site, and The Vault of Walt: Volume 4, and his contributions to The easy Guide to Your Walt Disney World Visit, all published by Theme Park Press.
The 2017 easy Guide

Kelly B Can Help You Book Your Trip

Follow yourfirstvisit.net on Facebook or Google+ or Twitter or Pinterest!!

March 10, 2017   No Comments

Next Week (March 11 Through March 19, 2017) at Walt Disney World

DISNEY WORLD NEXT WEEK: MARCH 11 TO MARCH 19, 2017

The material below details next week’s Disney World operating hours, Extra Magic Hours, parades, and fireworks.

For more on March 2017 at Disney World, see this.

OPERATING HOURS AT WALT DISNEY WORLD 3/11/-3/19/17

The Magic Kingdom will be open from 8a-12MN 3/11, 9a-11p 3/12, 8a-11p 3/13 through 3/17, 9a-11p 3/18, and 9a-10p 3/19

Epcot will be open from 9a-9p every day

Disney’s Hollywood Studios will be open 9a-8p 3/11, and 9a-9p 3/12 through 3/19

Disney’s Animal Kingdom will be open 9a-8p 3/11, and 9a-9p 3/12 through 3/19.

EXTRA MAGIC HOURS AT WALT DISNEY WORLD 3/11-3/19/17

Saturday 3/11 Morning:  Animal Kingdom Evening: none

Sunday 3/12  Morning:  Hollywood Studios Evening: none

Monday 3/13 Morning: Animal Kingdom  Evening: none

Tuesday 3/14 Morning: none Evening:  Epcot

Wednesday 3/15 Morning: none  Evening:  Magic Kingdom

Thursday 3/16 Morning: Epcot Evening: none

Friday 3/17 Morning:  Magic Kingdom Evening: none

Saturday 3/18 Morning: Animal Kingdom Evening: none

Sunday 3/19  Morning: Hollywood Studios Evening: none

Mickey and Minnie Festival of Fantasy Afternoon Parade from yourfirstvisit.netPARADES AT WALT DISNEY WORLD 3/11-3/19/17

The Magic Kingdom: Afternoon Festival of Fantasy Parade: 3p every day

FIREWORKS AND EVENING SHOWS AT WALT DISNEY WORLD 3/11-3/19/17

Wishes at the Magic Kingdom: 9p every night

IllumiNations at Epcot: 9p every night

Fantasmic at Disney’s Hollywood Studios: 7.30p 3/11; 8.30p 3/12 through 3/19

Star Wars Show and Fireworks at Disney’s Hollywood Studios: 8p 3/11; 9p 3/12 through 3/19

Rivers of Light at Disney’s Animal Kingdom: 7.15p 3/11; 8.45p 3/12, 3/14, 3/16, 3/18 and 3/19

SHOW SCHEDULES FOR WALT DISNEY WORLD 3/11-3/19/17

See Steve Soares’ site here. Click the park names at its top for show schedules.

The 2017 easy Guide

Kelly B Can Help You Book Your Trip

Follow yourfirstvisit.net on Facebook or Google+ or Twitter or Pinterest!!

March 9, 2017   No Comments

Review: Rivers of Light at Disney’s Animal Kingdom

RIVERS OF LIGHT AT DISNEY’S ANIMAL KINGDOM

Rivers of Light is the new, much anticipated evening show at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. It opened in mid-February 2017, and I had the chance to see it in early March.

Combining floats, boats, colors, water, lasers, fire, music and song, Rivers of Light is not as dramatic as the evening shows at the other three parks, but much lovelier, and I consider it a must see.

It is currently showing four times a week—Saturdays, Sundays, Tuesdays and Thursdays. On April 8, it shifts to being on every night–at least through the summer–and some evenings will have multiple shows.

Start times vary depending on the time of sunset. Over the next few months and the summer they range from 7.15 to 9.15p. The second show, when available, begins 75 minutes later. A delightful pre-show begins 15 minutes before show start.

It occurs in a lagoon between Expedition Everest and Dinoland.

While there are a few small areas from which you can get off-center views elsewhere in the lagoon, the best views and all seats are in a dedicated amphitheater that Disney has built along the shore here.

The amphitheater seats about 5,000 of the 30,000 people in Animal Kingdom on an average day—a number that will likely go up quite a bit this summer after Pandora: World of Avatar opens.

Half of the amphitheater (on the Expedition Everest side) is dedicated to FastPass+…

And a fair proportion of what’s left goes to those who have booked special Rivers of Light dining packages at Tusker House or Tiffins.

As a result, even on nights with two shows, fewer than 5,000 people will be able to see Rivers of Light via the stand-by line. So FastPass+ or the special Rivers of Light dining package (which guarantees you nice seats on the Dinoland side) will be by far the best choice for most.

Those on a one-day visit to Animal Kingdom—especially after Pandora opens in late May 2017—will be best served by buying the dining package.

This is because you can’t add FastPass+ until after you used all the ones you pre-booked, and you will use your FastPass+ for Rivers of Light so late that little or nothing will be available after it ends.

Those with two days in Animal Kingdom should get a FastPass+ for Rivers of Light.

My co-author Josh has more info on the dining packages for Rivers of Light—plus much better pictures of the show—on his site easyWDW.com here.

The 2017 easy Guide

Kelly B Can Help You Book Your Trip

Follow yourfirstvisit.net on Facebook or Google+ or Twitter or Pinterest!!

March 9, 2017   No Comments

Copper Creek Villas at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge

Last week Disney World announced that the new Disney Vacation Club spaces at the Wilderness Lodge would open for booking in later March for visits beginning in mid-July.

Floor plans are available in places like this.

The already existing DVC villas here have been renamed as “Boulder Ridge,” and the new villas are called “Copper Creek.”  The new name

  • Enables different DVC contracts (regular, non-DVC folk can stay here by renting points, or cash like any other room)
  • Signals differences between the new Copper Creek floor plans and the old Boulder Ridge ones, and
  • Will require me to spend hours cleaning up the proper nomenclature on this site (and in our book)

Rather than do all that work now, I thought I’d comment instead on the apparent differences in floor plans for comparable spaces at Boulder Ridge and Copper Creek, and also compare Copper Creek’s Grand Villas and Cascade Cabins to alternatives.

Obviously I haven’t stayed in Copper Creek yet–no one has.  So the following observations come from floor plans.

  • The nice-looking, smaller floor plans are from me and of the older rooms in Boulder Ridge
  • The larger, cartoony ones are from Disney and are of the new rooms in Copper Creek.

Copper Creek is largely a redo of old southeast wing Wilderness Lodge standard rooms, but there is also a new stretch of lakeside cabins along Bay Lake.

STUDIOS, ONE AND TWO BEDROOM VILLAS IN COPPER CREEK

In general,

  • Balconies are better in Copper Creek–larger, and present in every bay.
  • Decorating and art look much better in Boulder Ridge (although I’ll reserve judgment a bit on that until I stay in these rooms in person).

Which Studio you prefer is a function of whether you view the fold-down third bed/fifth sleeping spot in Boulder Ridge that disappears the dining table more as a feature or a bug. For most, if you don’t need the extra sleeping spot or capacity, Copper Creek will be the better choice.

The biggest difference to the One and Two Bedroom Villas is that Copper Creek can seat many more at the dining table, making it a better choice.

Complicating all this for Studios, One and Two Bedroom Villas is the theming differences between the old Boulder Ridge building and the refurbed Wilderness Lodge wing that holds these spaces for Copper Creek.

The glory of the Wilderness Lodge is its lobby; those staying in Copper Creek will see more of its lobby; QED.

However, Boulder Ridge has a real charm of its own, has better decor and colors, is closer to the bus stop (but farther from the Magic Kingdom boat), and will likely be more tranquil than Copper Creek.

GRAND VILLAS AND CASCADE CABINS AT COPPER CREEK

There’s no Grand Villas in Boulder Ridge to compare the Copper Creek Grand Villas to, but compared to other DVC grand Villas those in Copper Creek are astonishing.

The Cascade Cabins also have nothing comparable at Boulder Ridge, but are similar to the Bungalows at the Polynesian, without the theme park view. I am a tad troubled by the potential for people to confuse these with the Cabins at Fort Wilderness (more people than you’d guess mix up the two resorts, or think they are the same thing).

STUDIOS AT COPPER CREEK

Copper Creek Studios have a larger balcony and a smaller closet than those in Boulder Ridge.

They also do not include the fold-down bed that makes the table go away when it is used.

This apparently means that these rooms will sleep 4 on two spots, rather than 5 on three spots…but the strange dashing on the coffee table in front of the sofa makes me wonder if this is an ottoman bed a la All-Star Music Family Suites.

Reactions to the fold down bed in Boulder Ridge have been mixed, with some loving the extra sleeping spot and added capacity, and others resenting that, when used, it takes the table away.

ONE BEDROOM VILLAS AT COPPER CREEK

You’ll see varying figures for the size of One Bedroom Villas at Copper Creek.  Since they are built on the bays of two old standard rooms, this is pretty straightforward–they are 680 to 690 square feet, depending on your source for Wilderness Lodge room sizes.

One Bedroom Villas at Copper Creek also have the larger balconies and smaller closets of the Copper Creek Studios.

The king bedroom side and bath have similar amenities and layouts to Boulder Ridge, but with more right angles.

The floor plan of the living/dining/kitchen side–and the only good artist’s rendering that I’ve found of Copper Creek spaces–shows some distinctive changes.

Note that the dining table seats six, a big increase compared to Boulder Ridge, although those chairs look awfully cramped–and also note the unusual “across the hall” positioning of the refrigerator. However, the breakfast bar is gone.

Finally, I am not at all keen on what the rendering shows as the color scheme or the art, but willing to reserve judgment until I see these spaces in person. Other Disney renderings of the Copper Creek spaces I have seen–too small to post here–show equally uninteresting color and art choices.

The living room seats four, the same as Boulder Ridge.

TWO BEDROOM VILLAS AT COPPER CREEK

There’s two types of Two Bedroom Villas at Copper Creek.

The “lock-off” (shown) combines a Studio and One Bedroom, and shares the merits of the spaces that make it up.

The dedicated Two Bedroom Villa (not shown) was designed from the start as a Two Bedroom Villa, and has differences in the second bedroom–two queens instead of the queen and sofa bed of a Studio; no microwave or mini-fridge; two bath sinks; no separate entry to the hall; and a shower instead of a tub.

ALTERNATE STUDIOS AND VILLAS

The corners of the wing of the Wilderness Lodge that Copper Creek was built into used to have deluxe rooms with an odd floor plan that included two spaces.

While most of these have been turned over into Grand Villas, a half-dozen or so have been built as “Alternate Studios” with more space and a separate living room.

These can be combined with a fairly standard One Bedroom Villa (the connecting door looks to be in a different spot) into an “Alternate Two Bedroom.”

GRAND VILLAS AT COPPER CREEK

There somewhere between 4 and 6 Grand Villas at Copper Creek (I think there’s 4) that combine two old deluxe rooms, three old standard rooms, an alcove, and–I think–some hall space.

Some have reported these to be more than 3,200 square feet, but the two deluxe rooms and three standard rooms sum to just a little over 2,000 square feet, requiring more than a thousand square feet of hall and alcove space, which I don’t believe for a minute.  So I am estimating them as ~2,500 square feet.

Whatever the size, these are glorious spaces, with what looks like the best living rooms, dining rooms, master baths, and suite of balconies among the DVC Grand Villas.

There is some awkwardness among the two two-queen bedrooms, with the more distant one (lower left) having  a private bath and balcony, and the one closer to the Master Bedroom sharing a hall bath and sharing a balcony with the master.

This can lead to much bickering…

The latest Grand Villas to open before these, at the Grand Floridian, have the merit of what is in effect a fourth bedroom, in the media room. But most other DVC Grand Villas have the three bedrooms that you’ll find at Copper Creek Grand Villas, and nothing as nice as its living and dining rooms.

CASCADE CABINS AT COPPER CREEK

The only part of Copper Creek to not be built in the Wilderness Lodge is the lakeside Cascade Cabins.

These cabins are pretty similar to the Bungalows at the Polynesian, with a different kitchen wall and what appears to be a (more comfortable) fold-out chair rather than a fold-down bed in the living room.

Prices for these are not out, so far as I know, but likely will be comparable to that of Copper Creek Grand Villas.

Bungalow-Floor-Plan-Disneys-Polynesian-Villas-and-Bungalows-from-yourfirstvisit.net_

If the prices for these cabins come out to be as high as I think they will be, I don’t know why anyone would stay in one of these…

OK, that’s it for now.  I’ll do a full review after my stay at Copper Creek this summer!
The 2017 easy Guide

Kelly B Can Help You Book Your Trip

Follow yourfirstvisit.net on Facebook or Google+ or Twitter or Pinterest!!

March 8, 2017   4 Comments

Pop Century Refurb Begins

This morning before I drove to the airport I checked on Pop Century, and discovered its refurb has begun.

Carpets and furniture were being pulled out of the first floor east wing of Building 8, the 90s building.

Somewhat surprisingly, people were staying in rooms just ten yards away, around the corner on the south first floor wing.

I did go by before check out time, so maybe they will be out today. The alternative—that rooms will be pounded on in the same building that people are staying in—would be annoying.

Multiple leaked photos of test rooms have suggested that the refurbed rooms will include a queen bed, a fold-down full bed, and (in a first for standard rooms in the value resorts) a coffee maker.

The refurb schedule includes 20 work days (per room).

Day 16 (click to enlarge, but it’s still not that good a photo) includes “Install…Beverage Center” and Day 17 (and 18) includes “Install Inova Bed.”  So the fold-down bed is real, and the coffee maker may be the “Beverage Center.”

Staging of furnishings, etc., is over in the lot between Building 7 and Cars at Art of Animation, so likely the sequence of refurb will go roughly south to north, or 80s/90s to 50s.

I’ll let you know more once some of these refurbed rooms re-open!

The 2017 easy Guide

Kelly B Can Help You Book Your Trip

Follow yourfirstvisit.net on Facebook or Google+ or Twitter or Pinterest!!

March 6, 2017   3 Comments