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 — w. Most Recent Stuff

November 2018 at Walt Disney World

WHAT IS NOVEMBER LIKE AT DISNEY WORLD?

Mid and late November are some of the best times of the year to visit Disney World, with cooler weather, low crowds, low prices, and fun special events.

Other parts of the month are not so good. Jersey Week, beginning 11/3 in 2018, sees moderate crowds and higher prices at the deluxes. Thanksgiving week, beginning 11/17 in 2018, with high crowds and higher prices than the rest of the month, should be avoided.

Note also that picking the right park to visit each day is critical at this time of the year. See this, and use the comment form below to ask me about your specific dates!
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May 24, 2018   1 Comment

Next Week (May 26 through June 3, 2018) at Walt Disney World

DISNEY WORLD NEXT WEEK: MAY 26 TO JUNE 3, 2018

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

For more on May 2018 at Disney World, see this, and for more on June, see this.

OPERATING HOURS AT WALT DISNEY WORLD 5/26-6/3/18

The Magic Kingdom will be open from 8a-12MN 5/26 and 5/27, 9a-11p 5/28, 8a-11p 5/29 and 5/30, 9a-11p 5/31, 8a-11p 6/1, 8a-12MN 6/2, and 8a-11p 6/3

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

Disney’s Hollywood Studios will be open 9a-9.30p  5/26, 9a-6p 5/27, and 9a-9.30p 5/28 through 6/3

Disney’s Animal Kingdom will be open 8a-11p 5/26 and 5/27, 8a-10p 5/28 and 5/29, 9a-10p 5/30 through 6/2, and 9a-10.30p 6/3

EXTRA MAGIC HOURS AT WALT DISNEY WORLD 5/26-6/3/18

Saturday 5/26 Morning: Animal Kingdom Evening: none

Sunday 5/27  Morning: Hollywood Studios Evening: none

Monday 5/28  Morning: Animal Kingdom Evening: none

Tuesday 5/29 Morning: none Evening:  Epcot

Wednesday 5/30 Morning:  Animal Kingdom  Evening: Magic Kingdom

Thursday 5/31 Morning: Epcot, Animal Kingdom Evening: none

Friday 6/1 Morning:  Magic Kingdom, Animal Kingdom Evening: none

Saturday 6/2 Morning: Animal Kingdom Evening: none

Sunday 6/3  Morning: Hollywood Studios, Animal Kingdom Evening: none

PARADES AT WALT DISNEY WORLD 5/26-6/3/18

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

FIREWORKS AND EVENING SHOWS AT WALT DISNEY WORLD 5/26-6/3/18

Happily Every After at Magic Kingdom: 9.15p every night

IllumiNations at Epcot:  9p every night

Fantasmic at Disney’s Hollywood Studios:  9p 5/26 and 5/28 through 6/3

Star Wars Show and Fireworks at Disney’s Hollywood Studios: 9.30p 5/26 and 5/28 through 6/3

Rivers of Light at Disney’s Animal Kingdom: 9.15 and 10.30p 5/26 through 6/2; 9.15 and 10.15p 6/3

SHOW SCHEDULES FOR WALT DISNEY WORLD 5/26-6/3/18

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

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May 24, 2018   1 Comment

A Friday Visit with Jim Korkis: Toy Story Land

Welcome back to Fridays with Jim Korkis! Jim, the dean of Disney historians, writes about Walt Disney World history every Friday on yourfirstvisit.net.

TOY STORY LAND IN DISNEY’S HOLLYWOOD STUDIOS

By Jim Korkis

Variations of Toy Story Land that were inspired by the popular Pixar movie franchise exist at Walt Disney Studios Park in Paris, Hong Kong Disneyland and at Shanghai Disneyland.

In 2015, it was announced that a Toy Story Land would be built on eleven acres at Disney’s Hollywood Studios near the area already designated as Pixar Place, and would open summer of 2018. (It will open June 30–Dave.)

(c) Disney

According to Disney publicity, in addition to Toy Story Midway Mania! that already opened in 2008 and expanded to include a third track in 2016 (and supposedly is under Andy’s bed), the land would feature the following:

“Toy Story Land. In Andy’s backyard, guests are shrunk to the size of their favorite toys and invited to join Woody, Buzz Lightyear, Jessie and the rest of the Toy Story gang for a larger than life adventure among giant building blocks and game board pieces. It’s the perfect setting for toys of all kinds to gather together for an experience that’s more fun than a Barrel of Monkeys.

“Alien Swirling Saucers. Andy has collected enough game tickets at Pizza Planet to get the Alien Swirling Saucers (Home Edition), which has now landed (pun intended) in his backyard. The game features Alien-driven flying saucers whipping rockets around four turntables while “The Claw” looms ominously overhead, seemingly ready to nab those who are ‘chosen’.

“Slinky Dog Dash. Andy built Slinky Dog Dash with his Dodge & Dash Mega Coaster Kit. Instead of using the coaster that came in the box, he decided to put his Slinky toy on the tracks. The result is a family-friendly thrill adventure that whooshes around curves, up hills and down drops as it winds around the backyard.”

According to Imagineer Kathy Mangum, Toy Story Land was inspired by the overwhelming guest response to Cars Land at Disney California Adventure.

“As all of you know, here in Anaheim, we’ve been quite successful with taking immersive experiences to a whole new level as we did with Cars Land. In fact, one of our favorite stories from opening day is that we overheard a little boy asking his mom, ‘Is this where they filmed the Cars movie?’” Magnum said.

“That’s exactly how we want people to feel – like they’ve stepped onto the set of their favorite film … like the quaint town of Radiator Springs or, in the case of ‘Toy Story,’ the wild and adventurous outdoors of Andy’s backyard.”

The idea behind the Slinky Dog Dash was to have a family friendly coaster but also to take advantage of the fact that Andy has a big imagination, so would have incorporated some of his other toys into the standard design, and made the coils stretch to their limits.

For Alien Swirling Saucers, “As you rotate around the toy planets and satellites as part of the game, you’ll swirl to the beat of fun ‘Space Jazz’ music developed just for this experience,” Mangum said. “The music, the lighting, and the sound effects will add to the flurry of your adventure while ‘The Claw’ looms ominously over you.”

The entrance to the new land will be through the area that originally held Soundstage 4, where walk-through experiences like The Making of the Haunted Mansion Movie, a set from the live action version of 101 Dalmatians, two different versions of the Journey into Narnia, and the Legend of Captain Jack Sparrow were presented.

Woody’s Lunch Box is the quick service food and beverage location. Andy has taken a vintage Woody themed lunch box and propped it open with a thermos. Scattered about the area are toys, items from the lunch box, and a book. A green army man keeps a lookout for Andy’s return to grab a snack.

*  *  *  *  *

Thanks, Jim! For more on touring Disney’s Hollywood Studios after Toy Story Land opens, see this.

Lovely wife Amy Girl and I will be seeing Toy Story Land by using the Club Level  extra FastPass+ deal:

And come back next Friday for more from Jim Korkis!

In the meantime, check out his books, including his latest, Call Me Walt, and his Secret Stories of Walt Disney World: Things You Never You Never Knew, which reprints much material first written for this site, all published by Theme Park Press.

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May 18, 2018   No Comments

Next Week (May 19 through May 27, 2018) at Walt Disney World

DISNEY WORLD NEXT WEEK: MAY 19 TO MAY 27, 2018

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

For more on May 2018 at Disney World, see this.

OPERATING HOURS AT WALT DISNEY WORLD 5/19-5/27/18

The Magic Kingdom will be open from 8a-12MN 5/19, 9a-10p 5/20 through 5/23, 9a-11p 5/24 and 5/25, and 8a-12MN 5/26 and 5/27

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

Disney’s Hollywood Studios will be open 9a-9.30p 5/19 through 5/26, and 9a-6p 5/27

Disney’s Animal Kingdom will be open 9a-10.30p 5/19, 9a-10p 5/20 through 5/25, and 8a-11p 5/26 and 5/27

EXTRA MAGIC HOURS AT WALT DISNEY WORLD 5/19-5/27/18

Saturday 5/19 Morning: Animal Kingdom Evening: none

Sunday 5/20  Morning: Hollywood Studios, Animal Kingdom Evening: none

Monday 5/21  Morning: Animal Kingdom Evening: none

Tuesday 5/22 Morning: Animal Kingdom Evening:  Epcot

Wednesday 5/23 Morning:  Animal Kingdom  Evening: Magic Kingdom

Thursday 5/24 Morning: Epcot, Animal Kingdom Evening: none

Friday 5/25 Morning:  Magic Kingdom, Animal Kingdom Evening: none

Saturday 5/26 Morning: Animal Kingdom Evening: none

Sunday 5/27  Morning: Hollywood Studios Evening: none

PARADES AT WALT DISNEY WORLD 5/19-5/27/18

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

FIREWORKS AND EVENING SHOWS AT WALT DISNEY WORLD 5/19-5/27/18

Happily Every After at Magic Kingdom: 9p 5/20; 9.15p 5/21 through 5/27

IllumiNations at Epcot:  9p every night

Fantasmic at Disney’s Hollywood Studios:  9p 5/20 through 5/26

Star Wars Show and Fireworks at Disney’s Hollywood Studios: 9.30p 5/20 through 5/26

Rivers of Light at Disney’s Animal Kingdom: 9.15 and 10.30p every night

SHOW SCHEDULES FOR WALT DISNEY WORLD 5/19-5/27/18

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

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May 17, 2018   No Comments

Transportation and the Disney Springs Resort Area Hotels

The Disney Springs Resort Area includes seven independently owned and managed hotels on Disney World property, at the far eastern edge of Disney World. These hotels are

  • B Resort & Spa
  • Best Western Lake Buena Vista
  • DoubleTree Suites by Hilton Orlando
  • Hilton Orlando Buena Vista Palace
  • Hilton Orlando Lake Buena Vista
  • Holiday Inn Orlando
  • Wyndham Garden Lake Buena Vista

For 2018, in what may be a temporary move for just this year, all seven gained access to the two most important Disney World perks—FastPass+ bookings at 60 days, and Extra Magic Hours.

Because of their new* access those perks, I’m instituting coverage of these hotels (there’s already a bit out there, but much is comped** and frankly a bit Pollyannish), starting with an overview of their bus service to the parks and other transportation-related items. For my coverage of other Disney World hotel options, see this.

DISNEY SPRINGS RESORT AREA HOTELS BUS TRANSPORTATION TO THE PARKS

There are two different bus routes at the Disney Springs hotels, each of which during my visits in late April and early May 2018 had two theme park routes most of the day and a third route, to Disney Springs, that began at 6p.

One, Route A, serves the four hotels on the southern side of Hotel Plaza Boulevard—the Hilton Orlando Lake Buena Vista (there are three Hiltons of different flavors among the seven hotels here, so take some care in noting which you are actually staying in), the Holiday Inn, the B Resort, and the DoubleTree Suites by Hilton.

The second, Route B, serves the other two hotels on Hotel Plaza Boulevard, the Best Western Lake Buena Vista and the Wyndham, and the one hotel on East Buena Vista Drive, the Hilton Orlando Buena Vista Palace.

Each route runs buses that serve as many as two parks. On my visit most of the day I saw buses that served Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom, Magic Kingdom and Hollywood Studios, and Hollywood Studios and Epcot. It may be that during times when these hotels are more heavily booked that routes are not so shared—I’ll be back in the Disney Springs Resort Area hotels in July, so will check that then.

The basic operating principle is that shared buses to all four parks will depart every 30 minutes, which is better than what you will see at most hotels not owned by Disney, but not as good as what the Disney-owned resorts (and Swan and Dolphin) provide.

Nominally, they are expected at a specific time at each hotel, e.g. “5 minutes after the hour and half-hour,” but schedule uncertainties caused by traffic lights, wheelchair lifts and such will make this a bit variable. My timing (yes, I spent hours at the Disney Springs Resort Area hotel bus stops timing the buses, because that’s what I do…) showed an average time between departures to the same park of 32 minutes, with a range of 23 to 48 minutes.

Buses start an hour before parks open, and run to 90 minutes after parks close. This includes Extra Magic Hours—buses begin an hour before Extra Magic Hours begins–and, in a nice touch, buses to hot parks may start even earlier. For example, on Sunday April 29, Disney’s Hollywood Studios had Extra Magic Hours beginning at 8a, and Animal Kingdom had a normal opening of 9a. However, not only did I see a Hollywood Studios bus at the Buena Vista Palace at 7.11a, but also there was an Animal Kingdom bus there at 7.08a, giving those looking to line up for Flight of Passage a nice early start at that park.

So the departure frequency is not quite as good as the every 20 minutes that you can expect at the Disney-owned resorts, and the number of stops among the various hotels served on the two services is also a drag compared to Disney-owned resorts, with only the moderates, Old Key West, and Saratoga Springs having a comparable number of non-park stops.

The two parks per bus also slows things down, as does the drop-off point for Magic Kingdom. If you are going to Hollywood Studios or Animal Kingdom, you’ll typically go to another park first; if you are returning from Magic Kingdom or Epcot, you’ll typically go to another park first.

And unlike the buses at the Disney-owned resorts and Swan and Dolphin, which drop you off right outside the Magic Kingdom, the Disney Springs Resort Area Magic Kingdom bus drops you off at the Transportation and Ticket Center (in the area marked in red above), meaning you have another transportation act—ferry or monorail—to actually get to that park. (Shades of Green, Four Seasons, and off-property buses have the same issue.)

Returning from Magic Kingdom to the Disney Springs Resort Area hotels is particularly painful, as you first take the ferry or monorail back to TTC, then wait for the bus, take it to the Animal Kingdom, then come back from the Animal Kingdom to the various stops at the Disney Springs Resort Area hotels. For example, it took me almost 90 minutes to get from Adventureland back to the B Resort:

  • Adventureland to ferry to TTC bus stop: 27 minutes
  • Wait for bus: 16 minutes
  • Bus to Animal Kingdom, then Hilton and Holiday Inn and finally B Resort: 45 minutes

As noted, Magic Kingdom buses are at the TTC, in an unshaded area.

Epcot Bus Stop

Epcot and Hollywood Studios buses are more convenient, just a bit beyond the Disney buses, though also unshaded (the Hollywood Studios bus stop is being redone, so this may change)

Animal Kingdom Shared Bus Shelter

Animal Kingdom buses share a pretty convenient shaded waiting area, but this also means you have to keep your eye out for your bus to arrive, as it may be masked by other buses.

Note that if your knowledge of which hotel is where, the weather and the amount of walking suits, you can take from the parks either Route A or Route B, whichever arrives first, and then walk over to your actual hotel if you are on the “wrong” route. For example, it’s around 700 feet from either the B Resort or the DoubleTree Suites bus stop to the bus stop at the Best Western.

This works least well at the Hilton Orlando Buena Vista Palace, whose bus stop is ~2,000 feet from the nearest bus stop on the other route, at the Hilton Orlando Lake Buena Vista (I warned you all these Hiltons could get confusing). To put this in context for experienced Walt Disney World visitors, that’s a couple hundred feet further than the farthest bus stop to room walk at Disney’s Art of Animation Resort.

I probably should also note that the Disney Springs Resort Area hotels are among the most remote on property, with only the Animal Kingdom Lodge more distant among the Disney-owned resorts. This matters a bit less than you might think for getting to Epcot and Magic Kingdom, as there are good alternate routes from this part of Disney World that use Disney Vacation Club Way to avoid all the red lights you’ll find on Buena Vista Drive. But it certainly isn’t a positive…unless of course you are headed to Disney Springs itself, which is very close.

Overall, I’d class this bus service as worse than the worst of the service at the Disney-owned resorts, but better than that at many other non-Disney-owned alternatives.

GETTING TO DISNEY SPRINGS FROM THE DISNEY SPRINGS RESORT AREA

Disney Springs is accessible from these resorts by driving your car, in the evenings by taking a bus, or by walking. The most distant hotel (the DoubleTree) is about 3,000 feet from the nearest edge of Disney Springs; the B Resort and Best Western about 2,200 feet; the Holiday Inn and Hilton Palace about 1,500 feet, and the Wyndham and Hilton about 750 feet. And note that this just gets you into Disney Springs—the far end of Disney Springs is more than 3,000 more feet away. As a point of  context, the walk from the Epcot World Showcase entrance to the American Adventure is about 4,200 feet.

These walks are along lovely tree-shaded sidewalks for the most part, and bring you to pedestrian bridges to take you up and over the traffic at the corner of Buena Vista, East Buena Vista, and Hotel Plaza Boulevard. But weather may make it unpleasant, and there’s not an insufficiency of walking at Disney World already in hand.

In the image above, I’ve drawn a red circle centered on the middle of Disney Springs, with its outer edge touching the most distant rooms of the most distant of the Disney Springs Resort Area hotels—the Doubletree. You’ll note that this circle takes in a lot of terrain—the walk to the center of Disney Springs is about as far as walking to this spot from the farthest of the Treehouses at Saratoga Springs…

DRIVING TO THE PARKS FROM THE DISNEY SPRINGS RESORT AREA

Having a car frees you from the Disney Springs Resort Area bus schedule, but brings some other issues. Parking is free at Disney Springs, but costs (today; check back tomorrow) $22 a day at the theme parks. You will also pay parking fees at all of the Disney Springs Resort Area hotels (although that’s commonplace these days ) ranging from $8 per night to $22 per night.

Cars work well at Hollywood Studios, Disney’s Animal Kingdom, and Epcot. At Magic Kingdom, driving puts you in the same TTC parking area that the Disney Springs Resort Area bus system uses, so you’ll still have to use the monorail or ferry to get to the park itself.

Note that Kelly, my travel agent partner, can book you into–or help you avoid–one of these Disney Springs Resort Area. Use the form below to get in touch with her:

 

*The Hilton Orlando Lake Buena Vista was the only one of these that used to have EMH access, but that ended—temporarily, as it turned out–in January 2016

**The way this site works is you patronize the various sponsors—the advertisements, my travel agent partner, etc., and/or you buy my book —and I spend the money you create by doing that in going to Disney World and then reporting to you on what I find. Nothing on this site is comped—I pay for it all at rates that anyone can get.

 

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May 14, 2018   2 Comments

Happy Mother’s Day!

That’s my mom in the group at the right, between me and my silly sister, in Disneyland’s Rivers of America.

The parks are a special place for building family memories.  Thanks, mom, and Happy Mother’s Day to all the other moms out there!

 

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May 13, 2018   No Comments