By the co-author of The easy Guide to Your Walt Disney World Visit 2018, from the best-reviewed Disney World guidebook series ever. Paperback available on Amazon here. Kindle version available on Amazon here.



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



Category — p. News and Changes

Updated Review of Disney’s Pop Century Resort

I just completed and published my updated review of Disney’s Pop Century Resort. The updated Pop Century review begins here, and has six pages in total:

The update includes a bunch of all-new photos from my June 2017 say in a not-yet-refurbed room and my July 2017 stay in a refurbed room–my ninth and tenth stays at Pop Century, respectively.

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December 7, 2017   2 Comments

Great Park Hopper Deal

My friends at the Official Ticket Center are offering a great deal for those on shorter trips.

Through February 4th, if you buy your two or three day tickets through them, you get a park hopper for each ticket for free! That’s a savings of about $65/person, or more than $250 for a family of four!

Park hoppers allow you to visit more than one park in a day. On shorter tickets they can be quite valuable, permitting you, for example, to see the evening shows and/or have dinner at a different park than the one you spent the day at!

Book your tickets here. There’s no special code needed–if you go to its Disney tickets pages, you’ll see that two and three day tickets have the same price with or without hoppers!

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December 3, 2017   5 Comments

Specifics on the November Update of The easy Guide 2018

As noted yesterday, Josh and I just published an update to our The easy Guide to Your Walt Disney World Visit 2018, the best-reviewed Disney World guide book in the known universe.

Those already on our update list will get instructions on how to get their 2018 update shortly. If you purchased the 2018 edition but are not yet on our 2018 update list, here’s how to get on it:

This was, by our standards, a minor update, as not a lot has changed since our August 2017 publication date. Here’s what’s different or updated:

  • We’ve added the new dog-friendly pilot to the four resorts it affects.
  • Although we don’t usually do rumors, the potential impact of the rumored expansion of access to 60 day FastPass+ is so strong that we noted it at several points
  • We’ve added the dates for the Festival of the Arts and the Flower and Garden Festival, and changed the name of the old Holidays Around the World to The Festival of the Holidays
  • We updated the construction and/or refurb status of the moderate resorts and of Pop Century and the Yacht Club, and added the new Yacht Club floor plan.
  • Thanks to reader feedback, we fixed a few errors or omissions that had crept in—the height minimum in Rock ‘n” Roller, a place where we had left out tiering at the Animal Kingdom, and a point about crowd calendars.
  • We made a change in the FastPass+ priority order at Epcot
  • At the Studios, we’ve updated the names of one attraction (Walt Disney Presents) and of one of the lands (Grand Avenue), added BaseLine Tap House, updated the FastPass+ priority order, and added Jingle Bell Jingle BAM!
  • At Magic Kingdom, we revised the time of the Afternoon Parade and update the touring plans to reflect it.

We pride ourselves on having the most accurate and up-to-date guidebook available, and updates like this are what make that come to life!

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November 24, 2017   No Comments

Updated Version of the Best 2018 Disney World Guidebook!

Amazon has released the updated version of my and Josh’s The easy Guide to Your Walt Disney World Visit 2018, the latest edition the best-review Disney World guidebook in history.

We first published this 2018 edition in late August, and our latest update adds things that have changed since then, and corrects a couple of errors that our readers let us know about!

I’ll write more soon about what’s in this update (I’m traveling for Thanksgiving now).

If you bought the 2018 edition you get this update (as a PDF) for free! If you’ve already sent in your email, we’ll start sending instructions on how to get the updated PDF this weekend.

If you bought the 2018 edition but have not yet forwarded your Amazon confirmation, then quit fooling around and get it to us! Here’s the instructions:

And if you haven’t bought it yet, what are you waiting for?

We’ve had almost 300 reviews of this Disney World guidebook series on Amazon, and more than 90% are five stars. You won’t find more informed, more thoughtful, more experienced, more judicious or more silly companions to the Disney World parks, resorts, or dining venues than me and co-author Josh. Ours is the most accurate and most up-to-date Disney World guidebook you can find.

Away from the cranberry sauce and buy it now!

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November 22, 2017   No Comments

Holiday Additions at Disney’s Hollywood Studios

For 2017 Disney World has added to the returning Jingle Bell, Jingle BAM! show three new holiday elements to Disney’s Hollywood Studios:

  • Olaf, new songs from “Olaf’s Frozen Adventure,” and a tree lighting to the end of the Frozen Sing-Along
  • Holiday projections on the Hollywood Tower Hotel (site of the Tower of Terror)
  • A Christmas Tree and substantial decorations in the Echo Lake area.

The net effect–especially of the last two changes–is really a transformed feel to the park, which now feels more Christmassy than any other Disney World park except the Magic Kingdom.  This is a big change, and one to delight in.

OLAF AT THE FROZEN SING-ALONG

The Frozen Sing-Along (officially “For the First Time in Forever: A Frozen Sing-Along Celebration” but no one calls it that except its mom) is a show that is surprisingly good even for those not obsessed with Frozen.

Here’s the review from The easy Guide to Your Walt Disney World Visit 2018–a guidebook so good that you probably want to be sitting down while reading it:

The Olaf additions to this show happen at the end, and your pleasure at them will be in direct proportion to how much of an Olaf fan you are.

Olaf arrives…

…is treated like a visiting rock star…

…new songs from Olaf’s Frozen Adventure are sung…

…and the bit ends with a Christmas tree lighting.

There’s not much to the stage business, not much narrative or sense of ending to the new action, and the new songs are quite weak compared to the high melodic and lyrical standards set by the classic Frozen songs. As a result, Olaf fans will probably love this add, and everybody else will be waiting for the show to return to its original staging.

HOLIDAY PROJECTIONS ON THE HOLLYWOOD TOWER HOTEL

The Hollywood Tower Hotel, best known until now for screaming elevator riders, has had four holiday projections added to its facade.  While there is not much to them, when combined with other holiday decorations on Sunset Boulevard, they really amp up the holiday feel of this section of the park. The entire effort is called Sunset Seasons Greetings.

Framed around Frozen…

…Mickey’s Christmas Carol…

…the Muppets…

…and Toy Story.

There’s not much to these–nothing like the action and subtlety of Tree of Life Awakenings at the Animal Kingdom, for example–but together with the other holiday decorations on Sunset Boulevard (and snow!–see the image at the very top of this page), the overall impact is to turn this into a much more festive area of the park.

THE CHRISTMAS TREE AND DECORATIONS IN THE ECHO LAKE AREA

Hollywood Boulevard has always been delightfully decorated, but now so is the Echo Lake area.

The most notable addition is the Christmas Tree, which used to be outside the park…

…but Gertie now has a bit of holiday decor as well–snow and a Santa hat.

A closer view of the tree…

…and the tree after dark.

Echo Lake after dark. There’s a tree lighting ceremony–at 6p the night I saw it–but it’s not much and definitely not worth scheduling around.

On the Gertie side of Echo Lake you’ll find these decorations…

…and further counter-clockwise around Echo Lake, near Hollywood and Vine, these.

The same later in the evening.

Until now, Echo Lake has been a bit of a pass-through-without noticing area for me, kinda like (but not so extreme as) Commissary Lane.  Gertie has historical importance, and the lake itself is cute and some find it to part of an enormous hidden Mickey.  But really, yawn.

The holiday directions add a focal point and a coherent atmosphere that’s been missing here until now. You will still largely pass by the lake on your way to something else, but now it’s a delightful walk.

The Echo Lake and Sunset Boulevard decorations profoundly strengthen how well Disney’s Hollywood Studios celebrate the holidays.  Don’t miss them!

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November 19, 2017   No Comments

Disney World Refurb Update: Pop Century, Caribbean Beach, Coronado Springs, and the Yacht Club

NOVEMBER 2017 REFURB NEWS

While at Disney World earlier this week, I had the chance to check on the refurb status at Pop Century, Caribbean Beach, and Coronado Springs—and also stayed in a refurbed room at the Yacht Club. Here’s the scoop on each.

THE REFURB AT DISNEY’S POP CENTURY RESORT

Rooms at Pop Century are being transformed, with a queen and a queenly fold-down replacing the old full bed layout. Moreover, these rooms have joined the 1990s in adding coffeemakers! A photo tour of a refurbed room is here.

Of the ten buildings at Pop, four are done and two thirds of a fifth are being worked on. Specifically, Buildings 10, 9, 8, and 7 are done (this is all of the 90s and 80s sections, and half of the 70s section).

Building 6—the other half of the seventies section–was two thirds under refurb at my visit. In Building 6, the stem of the T, and the half of the top of the T closer to the food court is being refurbed…

…and the half of the top of the T closer to the 80s section was still accepting guests into not-yet-refurbed rooms.

I don’t expect another building to be added to the “under-refurb” list before January, as the combination of high demand and high prices in Thanksgiving week and especially later December makes rentable rooms very valuable to Disney World…

Elsewhere at Pop, there’s work being done in and along the side of Hourglass Lake as part of the Pop/Art of Animation stop for Disney’s new gondola system, expected to open in 2019. This matters little other than looking ugly–the walkway between Art of Animation and Pop remains open.

THE REFURB AT DISNEY’S CORONADO SPRINGS RESORT

Coronado Springs now has 12 accommodations buildings, of various sizes.

The former 13th building, Cabanas 9B, was demolished, and is being replaced with a high rise expected to open in 2019.

Fully refurbed so far are Casitas 1, Rancho 7a and Cabana 8a. Half of Casitas 3 is under refurb.

Something I’d not noted in my last visit in late September is that the old walkways between El Centro and the former 9B, and between 9B and the bridge by the dig site pool, are now closed.

A new bridge now goes from just beyond the bike barn to the Dig Site bridge. What this means is that getting from El Centro to 9A in particular, but also 8B, is a longer walk, as these are now at the end of a dead-end trail that goes to almost the Dig Site and then around the small cove.

See the image, where the closed paths are marked with red Xs and the new bridge by a red dashed line.

Curiously, the resort maps displayed here and there around Coronado Springs have not been updated, so perhaps this is a temporary closure while certain construction work related to the new tower is being done.

THE REFURB AT DISNEY’S CARIBBEAN BEACH RESORT

There’s construction at the ends of Caribbean Beach for a gondola stop (south of Jamaica) and a new DVC building north of Martinique and Aruba.

More materially, the old food options, bar, shopping, etc. have been closed and replaced by weak temporary facilities.

One of my commenters  was recently told that “construction would be done by the end of 2017.” Well, the steel framing for at least some of the added dining is still pretty bare, so unless a lot of progress is being made inside the old building (which I can’t see, of course) that seems quite unlikely.

Both Caribbean Beach 2018 pricing and reports on discussion boards about material being provided to UK folk who are booking Caribbean Beach makes August 2018 much more likely.

On a side note, the framing in front of the old building is up, and it sure looks to me like a porte cochere. This is important, as it implies what I’ve hoped for–that the check-in area will be moved here and away from the old Custom House, which will make Caribbean Beach much more workable as a resort.

THE REFURB AT DISNEY’S YACHT CLUB RESORT

Disney’s Yacht Club Resort completed a much-need room refurb a month or so ago, and I had the chance to stay in one of these refurbed rooms on this visit.

I’ll do a complete update of my Yacht Club review in December, but here’s some observations—and some other thoughts about other new stuff, not really refurb-related but worth noting before I get that re-done review out.

So maybe I’m getting too used to the austere and low-themed style of the newly-refurbed Disney World rooms, but I liked the Yacht Club room refurb more than I’d expected to.

It includes most of the features you’ve seen in Disney’s most recent work—a wooden floor, furniture storage under the beds, a barn door closing the sink area, a pocket door separating the sink area from the tub, a nicer and more flexible shower head, more structured storage, a much bigger (54”) TV, and about ten million charging points.

Disney theming is slender—but I’ll say more about that in my updated review, also to come later.

Other points of interest at the Yacht Club—

The updated gift shop, the Market at the Ale and Compass, now has new options for both breakfast and dinner as of about a week ago.

At breakfast, you can now get a made-to-order omelet…

…and at dinner, there’s now a carving station with a couple of sides.

These are both thin offerings, but compared to what was available here before they began being offered, it’s a sound step forward.

I don’t know if these are permanent adds (there was, by the way, an interesting interaction between the breakfast chefs and an electrician about the amperage of the outlet they’d plugged their induction fryers into) or just stop-gaps until the old Captain’s Grille re-opens as The Ale and Compass late this month…but I hope it sticks around.

The Yacht Club was also recently named to a small group of resorts that are now (in a test) dog-friendly. I saw somewhere between two and five dogs (they all looked alike to me, so there may have been duplicates) but heard no barking.

I also saw this unsupervised cat stalking the new dog relief area!

OK that’s it on the refurb news! Put any comments or questions in the comment form below. Moreover, the long-time travel agent partner of this site, Kelly B., can help you book one of these hotels, or avoid them and book you into another! Contact her at KellyB@DestinationsInFlorida.com or 980-429-4499.

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November 17, 2017   11 Comments