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By the co-author of The easy Guide to Your Walt Disney World Visit 2018, the best-reviewed Disney World guidebook series ever.

Available on Amazon here.





Category — p. News and Changes

Photo Tour of a Refurbed Room at Disney’s Port Orleans French Quarter Resort

(For the first page of this review of Disney’s Port Orleans French Quarter Resort, see this.)

PHOTO TOUR OF A REFURBED ROOM AT DISNEY’S PORT ORLEANS FRENCH QUARTER

Disney’s Port Orleans French Quarter saw a room refurb project in the first half of 2018 that should be complete by mid-July.

I had the chance to stay in one of these refurbed rooms in early July. Compared with other recent Disney room refurbs, changes are pretty slight. Common to other recent Disney World room refurb projects, you’ll find

  • No more carpets (a lovely parquet floor replaces them)
  • A much larger (54-inch) wall mounted TV
  • Many, many more power points, and
  • High platform beds 30 inches off the ground that allow about 14.5 inches of clearance underneath for luggage or other items you might want to stow

There are some other minor changes, largely to the effect of simplifying the room, which I’ll comment on as we go through the photo tour. But the furniture is either the same or identical, except for new colors on the chair seats and power points set into in the dresser and bedside table.

But you don’t see the more structured closet, the solid sliding wood door separating the bath area from the living area, or the pocket door replacing the swinging door between the sink area and the tub area that one might have expected to find based on other recent refurbs like those at Pop Century and Coronado Springs.

The result is a bit of a mixed bag. The larger TV and extra power points are welcome—but so would be a more structured closet and a more sound-and light-deadening door between the bath area and living area.

The wooden floors and higher beds also seen in other recent refurbs are controversial, with the floor feeling “dirty” to some (I’ve not had that issue) and the high beds awkward for shorter people and also for some who don’t think they need accessible rooms but still have trouble landing in such high beds.

As you enter, you’ll find two queens on one side. The blank area to the left of the first bed is where a connecting door would be, if present. Note the new parquet floor. The old purple and gold theme is gone, as are the wallpaper borders above…

…but the detailed headboards remain.

Note also the graceful new light fixtures over the beds.

Here’s a shot of these beds from the bath side of the room.

A closer view of one of the beds.

Between the beds is a small bedside table, with a storage cubby below…

…and a drawer just big enough for your important books.

Note the four power points in the top of the bedside table.

As noted, the beds are now single-mattress platform beds, and there’s about 14.5 inches of clearance between the floor and the platform framing, enough for most luggage. My book is nine inches tall.


The other side of the room has a table and two chairs, dresser/mini-fridge with a TV above, and a small ottoman.

This side from the back.

A closer view of the table and chairs.


The dresser remains particularly nice, especially with the inlaid wood treatment.


The three drawers are typical of the moderates, and a little scant for most families–though there’s a large hanging area with a shelf above in the bath. Note the four power points above on the left–there’s a similar set on the right of the dresser.

A closer view of the added power points.

You’ll find the mini-fridge in the dresser, too…

…and the coffee service on top of it.

Last on this side you’ll find a small bench with a coat rack above.

The bath and closet area is separated from the rest of the room by this fabric curtain, not the sliding solid door we’ve found in recent refurbs of rooms with similar bath layouts.  The solid door provides much better light control, and somewhat better noise control. Note the decorative angles at the top of the entry way.

A closer, somewhat arty view of one of these, which were present in the old room, but white so subtler in their decorative effect.

In the bath area you’ll first find two sinks. The small round mirror on the left wall is new in this refurb.

Under the sinks you’ll find a shelf you can use for storage–and the hair dryer. Note, while we are, here the nice details on the face of the sink.

Next to the sink is the hanging area, along with an iron, ironing board…

…and safe. I forgot to measure the safe, but my book is six inches wide by nine inches tall, so you can tell the safe is large.


The rest of the bath, with the tub and toilet, is separated by a wall and door.

As is becoming common, small bottles of shampoo, conditioner, and bodywash have been replaced with these large wall mounted bottles of the same–I saw the same wall items in my 2017 stays at Port Orleans Riverside and Pop Century.

That means you’ll find only these lonely items on the sink counter–lotion and soap.

These refurbed rooms are a mix of improvements, misses and missed opportunities—although different people will differ on which are which.

AMENITIES AT PORT ORLEANS FRENCH QUARTER RESORT

This review continues here.

 

Kelly B Can Help You Book Your Trip

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July 14, 2018   2 Comments

Updated 2019 Disney World Planning Tools

I’ve finally posted my updated planning material for 2019, based on Disney’s actual prices and my re-forecast of crowds.

I’ll explain more later on how all this works (the day job is just killing me right now), but the short version is that I am no longer seeing the weeks beginning 3/2/19 and 12/14/19 to be as good as I thought they would be, so there are now just 11 recommended weeks–down from 13 in my drafts.

The full set of material is at the links:

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July 11, 2018   1 Comment

New Disney World Deal; Free Dining Extended

While I was caught up in my day job—I just started up with a new strategy and management client, and it’s a lot of work to get it off the ground—a new Disney World deal came out, and another had its “book-by” date extended.

 

First, before getting into the details of the new deal—the “book-by” date for Disney’s popular Free Dining promotion has been extended to August 1, from its former July 7.

The new deal is a room-only discount that comes in two parts.

  • For stays booked by October 7 that include stay dates October 8 through November 8, the discount applies to “most” Sunday through Thursday nights—that is, Fridays and Saturdays are not discounted.
  • For stays booked by December 24 that include stay dates November 11 through December 24, the discount applies “most” nights—that is, Fridays and Saturdays are not explicitly excluded.

As always, there’s a limited inventory of rooms available, and not all resorts or room types are included.

VALUE RESORTS DEAL

No resort is totally excluded, but at Art of Animation, as usual only Family Suites are included.

MODERATE RESORTS DEAL

No moderates are excluded, but the deal is less valuable at Port Orleans Riverside and Port Orleans French Quarter.

DELUXE RESORTS DEAL

No deluxe is excluded, but you will find not as good a discount at the Polynesian Village, Contemporary Resort, and Wilderness Lodge.

DISNEY VACATION CLUB RESORTS DEAL

At the DVC resorts, the Villas at the Grand Floridian and Bay Lake Tower are excluded, and at the Polynesian Village only the Studios are in the deal.

Moreover, among those in the deal, the Polynesian studios and Boulder Ridge at the Wilderness Lodge (but not Copper Creek there) are at a lower discount.

HOW TO BOOK THERE DISNEY WORLD DEALS

Full reviews of each of the resort options begin here.

Go to Disney World’s pages on these deals– here for the room rate deal, or here for Free Dining.

Or the long-standing travel agent partner of this site, Kelly, can book it for you—and she will also check to see if this is the best deal for you among your options. Contact her by using the form below:

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June 29, 2018   4 Comments

Disney World Crowds: Christmas 2018 and New Year’s 2018/2019

DISNEY WORLD CROWDS FROM LATER DECEMBER 2018 TO EARLY JANUARY 2019

Disney World sees its highest crowds and prices of the year in the later third of December and the beginning of January, in the weeks around Christmas and New Year’s Eve.

This is for a pretty basic reason: kids are out of school then.

However, not every school district has the same break schedule.

In 2018, as always, there’s more kids out the week between Christmas and New Year’s than before or after.

Because of the Tuesday Christmas, there’s not a lot of kids out the week before Christmas. However, waits will build that week even so compared to earlier in December, as folks not worried about school breaks come then to try to beat the crowds later in the month.

Crowds will be massive by December 22, 2018, and will be at their worst between 12/23/2018 and 1/1/2019.

As in 2018, the week after New Years in 2019 has many kids on break, so I expect Disney World to be heavily crowded through January 6, 2019.

SCHOOL BREAKS AND DISNEY WORLD CROWDS

Most years, there two typical sorts of breaks:

  • Long breakers–districts that take at least 2 full weeks (and three weekends) off
  • Short breakers–districts that take off as close to only December 25 to January 1 as they can

As a result, the period Christmas-New Years is always mobbed at Disney World, as everyone is out of school then, but the periods before and after vary from year to year depending on what day of the week Christmas falls.

In 2018, the Tuesday Christmas put long-break districts in the position having to pick when to schedule their second week–before Christmas weekend, or after New Years. Enough put it after New Year’s that I expect to see heavy crowds that week.

My review of school breaks (explained more here), along with co-author Josh’s work on easyWDW.com. on waits, has not led to any material changes in my December 2018 or early January 2019 crowd forecasts. However in a minor change, I’d now expect the week beginning 12/1 to be a 3, not a 4, and the week beginning 12/8 to be a 4, and not a 3.

As always this time of year, it is critical through December 21 to visit the right park on the right day, and this will be especially true the week beginning 12/15. Pick the right days to be in each park, and you will see moderate-minus crowds; pick the wrong days, and you will see high crowds.

ACTUAL 2018-2019 CHRISTMAS SEASON SCHOOL BREAKS

The chart above illuminates how 2018/2o19 holiday breaks work.

It’s based on data from a weighted sample including more than 270 of the largest relevant US public school districts with almost a third–more than 15 million–of total US school kids included.

The holidays are red, the weekends black, and weekdays blue.

You can see that breaks begin Friday the 14th. More kids go on break beginning the 19th, and by the 22nd everyone is on break.

Pretty much everybody stays out of school through January 1, 2019, and while many go back to school January 2 or 3rd, more than 50% of US schoolkids remain on break through January 6, 2019.

Over the period, I have crowds the weeks beginning 11/24, 12/1, and 12/8 in the low range. Crowds the week beginning 12/15 I have as moderate–if you are careful picking your days (or use my itinerary) you will see moderate-minus crowds, and if you pick bad days, you’ll see high crowds.

Disney World crowds will peak between Christmas and New Years. I have the week beginning 12/22 as having the highest crowds of the year, and the week beginning 12/29 as having high crowds–worse earlier in the week, a little better later in the week.

 

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June 19, 2018   No Comments

“Fall Breaks” and Autumn 2018 Crowds at Walt Disney World

FALL BREAK CROWDS IN 2018 AT WALT DISNEY WORLD

One of the things you’ll see now and then on the web is the claim that “fall breaks from school create big crowds at Walt Disney World.”

“Fall breaks” are multi-day school holidays before Thanksgiving, and, if material, would have an effect on Disney World—because Disney World is most crowded when it’s easy for kids to go.

If you check the facts, though, you’ll find that fall breaks are both uncommon and scattered across October and early November—they don’t much matter other than Jersey Week and two October weeks, the one includes  Columbus Day and the one the week after.

You are much more likely to run into trouble in the fall by choosing to go to a park on a bad day—

The effect of picking bad park days can be quite profound, and is why you’ll see some people report that “October is the new July,” while other people have easy and delightful visits in October.

But all that being said, there are in fact better and worse weeks in the fall.

See the chart, which shows the weighted percent of US school kids in my database with a three-day weekend or longer break in 2018 in later September, in October and in November before Thanksgiving week. (For how it’s built out of ~276 school districts and 15.3 million kids, see this.)

In it, weekends are in black, and Columbus Day and the day Veteran’s Day is celebrated are in red. Everything else is blue.

The first conclusion you can draw is that the only time when a lot of kids have full-week fall breaks is the week that includes Columbus Day–the week beginning 10/6 in 2018. The much-lower midweek bars (especially on Wednesdays) the other weeks indicate how few kids have full week breaks in other weeks.

The second conclusion is that many kids have long three, four and even five day weekends pretty much every weekend from just before Columbus Day to just after Veterans Day. These long weekends do provide more convenient opportunities for families to go to Disney World, and do contribute to extra crowding, particularly to the week beginning 10/13 and the week beginning 11/3.

On the other hand, the week beginning 9/29 in is showing many fewer kids on long weekends than I had thought. I have it marked as 5/moderate-minus crowds, but in retrospect it looks more like a low crowd week, especially before its ending weekend.

I am comfortable with my other crowd forecasts for this period–although those who follow one of my itineraries will see much better crowds, and those making particularly bad park day choices will see worse ones.

Note: none of this is about Thanksgiving week, which is quite crowded and a lousy time to go!

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June 18, 2018   2 Comments

End of Summer 2018 Crowds at Walt Disney World

This site’s Disney World crowd calendars always show crowds dropping off in later August.

For example, in 2018, crowd rankings go from 8/high-minus at the end of July/beginning of August down to 2/lower in early September.

This page both explain how that comes about and also reviews how the site’s crowd calendars are built.

END OF SUMMER 2018 CROWDS AT WALT DISNEY WORLD

The highest-crowd periods at Walt Disney World all have one thing in common: they are convenient times for parents to take their kids to Orlando. That is, they are times that kids are out of school and that parents traditionally can take off of work.

What’s not so clear until you do the numbers is that actual school vacation dates are much more varied than you’d think.  And there’s no good source you can go to that explains what all these varied dates are.

So usually every year about this time one of my nieces goes to hundreds of school district websites and captures all the key vacation dates for the upcoming academic year.

(This time of year because you’d be surprised many districts don’t put their calendars up for the upcoming year until June, even late June–looking at you, New Jersey…)

This year we collected data on 274 school districts with 15.33 million kids–about a third of the US school-age population. These include the 100 largest school districts in the U.S., plus 170+ more of the next largest school districts mostly in the more highly-populated states east of the Mississippi–that is, the states from which in particular Walt Disney World draws its visitors.

I then create a database that shows based on district enrollment every kid who is off on every date, and weight each district based on that district’s state’s proportion of total US visits to this website (because Disney won’t tell me actual visitation by state!). See the image above for a screenshot example.

Finally, I calculate percentage of total weighted kids on break by date and use that to inform the crowd calendars.

Above are the results of this for when kids go back to school in 2018.

So you can see that

  • Kids don’t start going back to school in real numbers until Wednesday 8/8
  • More than a third are back in school by 8/15
  • About half  are back in school by Thursday 8/23 and
  • More than 70% are back in school before Labor Day (noted in red)

In 2018, pretty much all kids are back in school by the Thursday after Labor Day.

Moreover, vacation patterns typically don’t have people returning from their vacation the night before school begins, so the effect of these back-to-school dates is offset into earlier August by around a week.

Thus, in the 2018 crowd calendar, the week of 7/28 and 8/4 are rated 8/high-minus crowds, the week of 8/11 7/moderate+ crowds, the week of 8/18 6/moderate crowds, and the week of 8/25 3/low crowds.

As I turn to revising my draft 2019 crowd calendar, I’m also adjusting for some small shifts based on co-author Josh’s work on easyWDW.com. In retrospect, in the summer of 2018, the week beginning  8/11 should be an 8/ high-minus, 8/18 should be a 5 moderate-minus, and 8/25 a 2/lower.

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June 16, 2018   11 Comments