Hey everybody, there’s a new itinerary out for arrivals 8/31 through 10/26/2019. You can find it here.

By the co-author of The easy Guide to Your Walt Disney World Visit 2019, the best-reviewed Disney World guidebook series ever.

Available on Amazon here.





Category — Uncategorized

To-Do List: Disney World Extra Extra Magic Hours Itinerary

This To-Do List is for the Disney World Extra Extra Magic Hours ItineraryFor To-Do-Lists for other itineraries, see this.

(Note that a good travel agent, such as Kelly, the long time travel agent partner of this site, can do almost all of this for you, for free. Use the form at the bottom of the page to contact her.)

A. MORE THAN 180 DAYS BEFORE YOUR PLANNED ARRIVAL DATE

1. Confirm your budget, planned dates, intended hotel, kids’ development and heights, and your transportation choice and its availability for your planned dates.

2. Make your plane reservations, if flying. Make any other needed transportation arrangements.

3. Create your My Disney Experience account here and add your family members to it

4. Set up your hotel and tickets. Call 407-939-7675 (preferred, because this allows you to tell the reservationist which building at your resort you wish to be in), or click here to use Disney’s online system.  (Note: if your dates are later than what the online system permits, see this.)

  • If you are following my itinerary, you want the hotel you’ve picked for 8 nights, nine day no hopper tickets, the Dining Plan, and Disney’s Magical Express if you are flying
  • Itineraries other than mine will have different requirements here

B. 181 DAYS BEFORE YOUR ARRIVAL DATE

San Angel Inn at Epcot from yourfirstvisit.netDecide whether on your first night you’ll be dining at Akershus or the San Angel Inn. Akershus is a princess meal–you’ll have another princess meal at Cinderella’s Royal Table on Thursday.  If you really like princesses, do Akershus; otherwise, San Angel Inn is the better choice.

Login to your MyDisneyExperience.com account, click the “Things to Do” tab at top right, under Dining hit “Make Reservations,” and practice trying to reserve restaurants (hint: use the search box at the upper right).

This may well drive you crazy, but the site works better than it used to…

Collect your restaurant reservations together. You will want to do them online in order of hardest to reserve first. This is how they are listed below.

C. EXACTLY 6am EST, EXACTLY 180 DAYS BEFORE YOUR ARRIVAL DATE

(For an 180 day calendar, see this).

Be on the restaurant website by at least 5:50a EST, and have your Cindy reservation all set up on the page. Keep refreshing, as you will be let in as soon as Disney’s system decides it is 6a.

Make as many of the following as you have patience for (try to get through at least Tusker House), in the exact order listed–but note that sometimes the Rivers of Light Dining Package is not available until 90-120 days before:

  • Cinderella’s Royal Table Lunch (dining plan, two credits): Thursday at 11a or later if you can; earlier than 11 only if your sole option…
  • Hoop-Dee-Doo Revue (dining plan, two credits): Tuesday 6.15p show. The later time will keep you up later than you need to be, and the earlier time will cut into your afternoon–but it is the better choice if the 6.15 show is booked.
  • Chef Mickey’s (dining plan, one credit) Tuesday 11a.  Later is OK, but not a whole lot earlier–no earlier than 10.30a
  • Tusker House as Rivers of Light Dining Package (dining plan, one credit). First Sunday 5.30p or later. You can schedule for as late as Disney will allow you to do so, but not earlier than 5.30p
  • Crystal Palace (dining plan, one credit): Second Saturday 6p if you can; earlier OK, but not later
  • Akershus Banquet or San Angel Inn (dining plan, one credit): First Saturday 6p.  No later than 6.30p, but earlier is OK if your travel plans allow for an earlier arrival at Epcot.

For those you don’t make online, make them by calling call (407) WDW-DINE (939-3463)

D. 60 DAYS BEFORE YOUR ARRIVAL DATE

Liking the Name on This MagicBand

Note that you are booking your FastPass+ in two steps: first you are focusing on nailing the ones that are hardest to get, then second  you are going back to the beginning of your visit and adding the rest. This is because some FastPass+ are hard to get even at 60 days (because people whose 60 days opened a few days ago booked their FastPass+ for all their ticket days after that date, overlapping with your dates.)

1. Go to your MyDisneyExperience account at 7am and set up the following hard-to-get FastPass+, booking them in the order noted

  • Second Sunday at the Animal Kingdom: Avatar: Flight of Passage for 9.30 to 10.30a
  • Wednesday at Hollywood Studios: Slinky Dog Dash for 12-1p if you plan to do Savi’s Workshop, Oga’s Canteen, and/or the Droid factory; 2-3p if not
  • Monday at Hollywood Studios: Tower of Terror 9a-10a
  • First Saturday afternoon and evening at Epcot: Tier One: Frozen Ever After. Set the time for when your travel plans permit you to be in the park.

2. Second, continue with the rest (I’ve kept the ones above in this list so you can see the various times):

  • First Saturday afternoon and evening at Epcot: Tier One: Frozen Ever After. Tier Two: Spaceship Earth. The Tier One FastPass+ is your priority. Set the Tier Two times for when your travel plans permit you to be in the park. If you can book just one because of your travel schedule, choose Frozen Ever After
  • First Sunday at the Animal Kingdom: Na’vi River Journey, Finding Nemo: The Musical, and Kali River Rapids. Set Kali River Rapids for 2-3p, Nemo 3p-3.15p for the 3.30p show, and Na’vi for 4.30-5.30p
  • Monday at Disney’s Hollywood Studios: Tier One: Tower of Terror. Tier Two: Star Tours and Frozen Sing-Along. Set Tower of Terror for 9a-10a, Star Tours for 10a-11a, and the Frozen Sing-Along for the first show available 11a or later, ideally 11-11.15a for the 11.30a show)
  • Tuesday at the Magic Kingdom: Space Mountain, Tomorrowland Speedway, and Jungle Cruise. Set Space Mountain for 8-9a, the Speedway for 9-10a, and Jungle Cruise for 10-11a.
  • Wednesday at Disney’s Hollywood Studios: Tier One: Slinky Dog Dash. Tier Two: Beauty and the Beast and Indiana Jones Stunt Spectacular. Pre-book FastPass+ for Slinky Dog Dash (2-3p if you do not plan to pre-book Savi’s Workshop, Oga’s Cantina, and/or the Droid Factory; 12-1p if you do have plan to see them) and for the shows Beauty and the Beast and Indiana Jones Stunt Spectacular.  Ideally, you will pick both the times and the order of the two shows so that you tap in for the second show as early in the afternoon as possible, so check both shows before booking either.
  • Thursday at the Magic Kingdom:  Peter Pan’s Flight, Enchanted Tales with Belle, and Haunted Mansion. Book Peter Pan before your Cinderella meal, and Enchanted Tales with Belle after–but not between the window of 1.45-2.45p (you will be watching the afternoon parade then).  Book Haunted Mansion for 3.30-4.30p
  • Friday at Epcot: Tier One: Test Track. Tier Two: Mission: SPACE and Turtle Talk with Crush. Set Mission: SPACE for 9a-10a, Test Track for 10a-11a, and Turtle Talk with Crush for 12.30p to 1.30p.
  • Second Saturday at the Magic Kingdom: Pirates of the Caribbean, Big Thunder Mountain, and a third ride. Set Big Thunder for 9-10a, and Pirates for 10-11a
  • Second Sunday at the Animal Kingdom: DINOSAUR, Avatar: Flight of Passage and Festival of the Lion King. Set DINOSAUR for 8a-9a, Flight of Passage for 9.30 to 10.30a, and Festival of the Lion King for 10.30-10.45a for the 11a show.

3. Do online check in, requesting as you do special location points

4. Customize your MagicBands

E. NOTES ON PACKING ETC. BEFORE YOU LEAVE

1. Bring your MagicBands in your carry-ons

2. If you use Disney’s Magical Express, you do not need to collect your bags at the Orlando airport unless you arrive late in the evening/at night or are an international traveler. Disney will get them for you and, eventually, deliver them directly to your room. Your bags may arrive hours after you do; so, depending on the weather forecasts, have a carry-on with an appropriate change of clothes for Orlando weather on Saturday, as you will almost certainly go to Epcot on Saturday before your checked bags arrive.

3. Follow the instructions in the Magical Express packet you will receive in the mail regarding both tagging your bags pre-departure, and where to go at the Orlando airport to find your transport to your resort.

4. Bring a copy of your room reservation, confirmation numbers and any tickets for special events you may have received in the mail.

5. Pack breakfast utensils, as they are not always available in the gift shop: bowls, spoons, napkins

6. When you arrive at the hotel, look for the special “On-line Check-in” line, and get into it.

Kelly, the long-time travel agent partner of this site, can book your Disney World vacation at any Disney World hotel!  Contact her using the form below.

  • Date Format: MM slash DD slash YYYY
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June 24, 2019   No Comments

Next Week (June 8 through June 16, 2019) at Walt Disney World

DISNEY WORLD NEXT WEEK: JUNE 8 TO JUNE 16, 2019

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

For more on June 2019 at Disney World see this.

OPERATING HOURS AT WALT DISNEY WORLD 6/8-6/16/19

The Magic Kingdom will be open from 9a-10p 6/8 and 6/9, 9a-11p 6/10, 9a-10p 6/11, 9a-11p 6/12, and 9a-10p 6/13 through 6/16

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

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

Disney’s Animal Kingdom will be open from 8a-10p 6/8 through 6/10, 8a-9p 6/11, and 9a-10p 6/12 through 6/16

EXTRA MAGIC HOURS AT WALT DISNEY WORLD 6/8-6/16/19

Saturday 6/8 Morning: Animal Kingdom Evening: none

Sunday 6/9  Morning:  Hollywood Studios Evening: none

Monday 6/10 Morning: Animal Kingdom Evening: none

Tuesday 6/11 Morning: none Evening: Epcot

Wednesday 6/12 Morning:  none Evening: Magic Kingdom

Thursday 6/13 Morning: Epcot Evening: none

Friday 6/14 Morning:  Magic Kingdom Evening: none

Saturday 6/15 Morning: Animal Kingdom  Evening: none

Sunday 6/16 Morning:  Hollywood Studios  Evening: none

PARADES AT WALT DISNEY WORLD 6/8-6/16/19

The Magic Kingdom: Afternoon parade: 3p every day

FIREWORKS AND EVENING SHOWS AT WALT DISNEY WORLD 6/8-6/16/19

Happily Ever After at Magic Kingdom 9.15p every night

IllumiNations at Epcot: 9p every night

Fantasmic at Disney’s Hollywood Studios: 9p every night

Star Wars Show and Fireworks at Disney’s Hollywood Studios: 9.30p every night

Rivers of Light at Disney’s Animal Kingdom: 9 and 10p 6/8 through 6/10; 9p 6/11; 9 and 10p 6/12 through 6/16

SHOW SCHEDULES FOR WALT DISNEY WORLD 6/8-6/16/19

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

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June 6, 2019   No Comments

Date-Based Ticket Pricing Soon to Launch at Disney World

As has been expected for some time, Disney World yesterday announced that theme park tickets purchased October 16 or after will have varying prices based on the start date of the ticket.

The prices themselves were not announced—that’s expected on the 16th itself, although rumors, some accurate, will come out before then. Many were confused by apparent prices being used in an explanatory video—even though every image in that video had material like the following:

The way it will work is that ticket purchasers first select a ticket form or type.*

You choose from among the current ticket types:  “regular” one park per day tickets, “hopper” tickets that allow visiting different parks in the same day (multiple visits in a day to one park are covered by “regular” tickets), or “hopper plus” tickets that also include pre-paid admission to the minor parks (waterparks, mini-golf, etc.).

The next choice you make is how many park days.

With these two choices in hand, you then pick your first possible day of use from a calendar that shows average daily prices by start day for a ticket of the already-selected form and number of days.

With a date clicked, the cost per day is highlighted…

…and the system will then show the total cost of the tickets…

…and also the days the tickets are eligible to be used.

Except for one day tickets, these tickets have eligibility ranges greater than the actual number of park days that can be used. Two and three day tickets have two extra calendar days they might be used; tickets with four through seven days of park admission have three extra days, and tickets with eight to ten days have four extra days.

This allows guests some flexibility for off days, visits to other Orlando attractions, or for working around family, illness, or weather issues. It also allows, I would guess, for a bit of start-day arbitrage for guests who are willing to give up some flexibility.**

For guests with calendar flexibility, the system will also let you seek low cost days…

…and for those who want to lock into a set of tickets and not worry yet about start dates, an option to pay more for flexible dates will also be available. This option also provides the longest date range of eligible use—fourteen days—regardless of the actual number of days in the ticket.

Disney has two intentions behind this change.

  • One is to shift guests from higher-wait periods to lower wait ones, thereby increasing the satisfaction of the shifted guests (though not that of those who had already planned to go those dates because they held the promise of be see lower crowds)
  • The second is to extract more value from those who, regardless of pricing, choose the more popular dates

Both these have already been in place at Disney World in some fashion for years. Resort prices have worked this way from time out of memory. And over the last three years, Disney World has restructured the prices of its various types of annual passes to shift many people into lower-cost pass options that block out many of the most popular dates—resulting, for example, in starkly lower summer waits the past three summers.

The new approach to date-based pricing is much less complicated than many had feared it would be. Yes, you need to pick a date or pay a premium for flexible dates—but you always have had to pick a date; this new approach will simply incent that choice to even earlier. And yes, you will pay higher prices for some dates than others, even if you have no real choice in your dates—but this has also always been true for hotel prices.

The impact on park waits is still to be seen, and will be partly shaped by the actual price differences among dates. Higher price differences will level out crowds across the year to some as-yet unquantifiable extent, making formerly bad dates better and formerly good dates worse, although the impact is yet to be seen and good daily planning will still pay off quite a bit. Lower price differences will have less impact on the flow of crowds across the year.

 

*All screenshots are from Disney’s video here.

**For example, say you plan to be in the parks for three days, on exact dates—e.g. February 3 through February 5. The two extra calendar days your ticket can be used on a three day ticket means your start dates could be February 1, February 2, or February 3. If you are willing to give up the option to use your tickets on February 6 or February 7, then picking February 1 or 2 as your start day, rather than February 3, in some scenarios might save you some money.

 

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September 25, 2018   13 Comments

Hollywood Studios Day 1 Disney World 2018 FastPass+ Basic December Itinerary

(Note: this is from the 2018 Basic December Itinerary. The itinerary works only for the four weeks beginning the Saturday after Thanksgiving 2018.)

HOLLYWOOD STUDIOS DAY 1: MONDAY AGENDA

You will begin your visit to Disney’s Hollywood Studios today, completing it Wednesday. Two days is  more than enough time, so, thanks to FastPass+, you get to take the later afternoon off each day.

You should have FastPass+ for Toy Story Midway Mania, Star Tours, and the Frozen Sing-Along.

FIRST THINGS

  • Arrive at Hollywood Studios by 45 minutes before open

AT THE PARK

  • At arrival, pick up a guide map and “Times Guide” and head to straight to Toy Story Land. See Alien Swirling Saucers.
  • See Toy Story Midway Mania (FP+)
  • See Muppet Vision 3D
  • See the Frozen Sing-Along  (FP+)
  • See  Star Tours  (FP+)
  • Look for additional FastPass+ to use either before you return to your hotel (Indiana Jones and Beauty and the Beast are good choices) or when you come back in the evening for the Jingle Bell, Jingle BAM or Star Wars show (check the Times Guide to confirm which is showing and when)
  • See the noon Indiana Jones stunt show
  • See the 1p Beauty and the Beast show
  • Head back to your hotel
  • Return to the park, arriving no later than 45 minutes before your evening show (or earlier if you got another FastPass+ for this evening)
  • See the evening show

PREVIEW OF TOMORROW

Tomorrow you have the morning off, then will continue your visit to Epcot, and then shift to the Magic Kingdom.

MATERIAL IN THIS DISNEY WORLD ITINERARY

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May 23, 2018   No Comments

More Disney After Hours in Later 2018

Disney After Hours is an extra-cost opportunity to be in the Magic Kingdom with very few other people, and for three hours to ride the best rides (not all are open, but most are) with in most cases next to no waits–but expect minor waits at Peter Pan and Seven Dwarfs Mine Train.

Debuting in 2016, Disney After Hours also was scheduled in 2017 and for earlier in 2018–click the links for my reviews of each.

Last week, Disney World announced more Disney After Hours for 2018, with the following dates and times:

  • Thursday, June 28, from 10p- 1a
  • Saturday, June 30, from 10p- 1a
  • Saturday, July 7, from 10p- 1a
  • Monday, July 9, from 10p- 1a
  • Saturday, July 14, from 10p- 1a
  • Saturday, July 21, from 10p- 1a
  • Saturday, July 28, from 10p- 1a
  • Saturday, August 4, from 10p- 1a
  • Saturday, August 11, from 10p- 1a
  • Thursday, August 30, from 9p – 12MN
  • Thursday, September 20, from 9p – 12MN.

I’ve been a fan of DIsney After Hours for returning visitors who can afford it, as it provides the opportunity to see beloved rides with (mostly) very short waits.

However, the summer 2018 Disney After Hours schedule has a couple of issues.

First is the 1op to 1a time frame.  To get full value out of the event and see the lowest waits, especially in Fantasyland, it’s best to stay through the end, but that may be hard for those with younger folks, and will certainly make an early start the next day a rough go.

Second, for the first time they are scheduled on Saturday nights.  The Saturday night events may be more likely to sell out than the Thursday and Friday nights that have been part of the offer in the past.

So at least for the Saturday night offerings, I’d qualify my recommendations for these a bit.  If you can stay all the way through, don’t need an early start to the next day, and are willing to put Fantasyland off until the last hour, they likely will be terrific.  But if you can’t commit to this approach, I think I’d wait to book a Saturday night until some reviews of the waits come out.

Disney’s page on Disney After Hours is here.

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May 9, 2018   2 Comments

easy Guide March Update

UPDATED EDITION OF THE EASY GUIDE

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

We first published the 2018 edition in late August 2017, updated it in November, and updated it again with almost 50 pages of changes in early March 2018.

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 week.

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.

“Even though I live in Florida and used to work in Guest Services at Disney, I truly enjoyed the read! As a Disney Cast Member, I would follow their blogs, and the very thorough overviews and photos that they provide of events, resort properties, new dining, etc., were hugely helpful to me in my role interacting with Guests and answering their questions. Dave and Josh are pros at finding ways to maximize the efficiency (and therefore the fun and stress-free enjoyment) of a Disney vacation. The book is serves as a great resource for anyone who will be visiting the parks and resorts. They provide fantastic overviews of all the resorts and restaurants, and their suggestions about when to visit and what to do are spot-on.” –Jean

Here’s the key changes in the March update:

Chapter 1: How to Use This Book

Chapter 1 has three purposes: introduce the rest of the book, summarize our recommendations for first-timers, and indicate what’s new for returning visitors.

Pursuing the third purpose, the big news of the rest of the update to the book is also noted here:

  • The opening date of June 30 for Toy Story Land
  • Seasonal pricing for multi-day tickets to come “later in 2018,” and
  • The addition of FastPass+ at 60 days for Shades of Green, Extra Magic Hours for the Four Seasons, and both for the Disney Springs Resort Area hotels

Chapter 2: Why Age and Height Matter

The only material change here was the upcoming closure of the Children’s Activity Centers. We went to press before the Pixar thingy at the Contemporary was announced.

Chapter 3: How Long to Stay

The prices in this chapter are updated to reflect the ticket prices that came out in February. In some cases, the cost of adding a day actually went down.

Chapter 4: When to Go

Little changed in this chapter—we went to press after the start date for the Epcot International Food and Wine Festival (August 30) was announced.

Chapter 5: Where to Stay

  • We updated the hotel advice and reviews of this chapter based on the additions of FastPass+ at 60 days and Extra Magic Hours to the various hotels noted above
  • We also updated the refurb status of various hotels–e.g. the Dolphin, Pop Century, Caribbean Beach, Coronado Springs, Port Orleans French Quarter
  • The announcement that the Disney resorts would charge for overnight parking for trips booked March 21 or later came out after we went to press

Chapter 6: How to Spend Your Time

We made dozens of changes to this chapter, our most important. Most were minor—but not all. A few worth noting

  • A new entry on UP! A Great Bird Adventure, to debut at Disney’s Animal Kingdom on April 22
  • Multiple revisions to the Hollywood Studios material related to challenges you’ll find seeing Toy Story Mania between now and when Toy Story Land opens on June 30, including a recommended touring plan for dates when FastPass+ for it can’t be booked
  • Changes to FastPass+ priority at Magic Kingdom

Chapter 7: Where to Eat

“Where to Eat” always sees a ton of changes when we update because of Disney World’s constant pricing and menu changes. In addition

  • We note that Dining Plan users can now use the plan to pay for Mobile Orders
  • We introduce the dining options to come in Toy Story Land
  • We note the coming two-credit prix fixe dinner menu coming July 27 to Be Our Guest
  • We revise the entry on The Edison, and add new entries for Ale & Compass, Enzo’s Hideaway and Maria & Enzo’s Ristorante

Chapter 8: Which Tickets to Buy and What to Budget

We’ve revised all the material in this chapter to reflect

  • The new ticket prices announced in February
  • The move of Disney later this year to seasonal pricing for multi-day tickets

Chapter 9: How to Set Everything Up and Get Everything Done

We revised the To-Do lists in this chapter to reflect the addition of more hotels to 60 day FastPass+ eligibility.

Chapter 10: Where to Go Next

We made no significant changes to this chapter, as the places to go next remain easyWDW.com and yourfirstvisit.net!

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! Already have yours?  Then write us a five star review on Amazon!

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March 14, 2018   1 Comment