Friday, October 28, 2022

Happy One Year Anniversary To Us!



Time flies!  I began this blog a year ago today, mostly as a whim and because I wanted to write again, especially about one of my favorite subjects.  I know there are a million Disney blogs out there, but I felt like I had something to say and so I said it.  I've tried to keep it updated as regularly as time allows.  I don't get to visit nearly as often as I want to, so it's hard to stay current in a "boots on the ground" kind of way but I try my best.


I think I've become a better writer over this past year, which was part of the goal in starting this up.  In some ways, I've written more than I thought I ever could about Disney, and in some ways, it feels like I didn't say enough.  If you've read one, some or all of these posts, thank you!  I hope that I have been able to give you some fun and interesting information about the Most Magical Place on Earth. I will continue to write as long as I have things to say.  Feel free to drop me a line anytime.

Thursday, October 27, 2022

What Park Should You Hop To?

 


One of the most popular ticket add-ons for Disney is Park Hopper ticket, which gives guests the ability to visit more than one park per day (for a charge, of course).  Every since the reopening after the pandemic, park hopping has been limited to 2:00 p.m. and later.  There are rumors that this might change, but for now, that is the world in which we live.


This isn't a post to bash Disney about park hopping rules - I'm just pointing out the circumstances.  People used to use park hopping differently in the past, when they could come and go at their leisure. But these new rules, combined with the park reservation system, makes hopping a more inconvenient process than it had previously been.  

Is Pent Up Demand Running Out At Disney World?

 


 In recent days, Disney has released a bunch of discounts for resort stays through spring 2023.  These include Disney+ subscribers, Annual Passholders and most recently, Disney Visa Cardholders (this one doesn't appear on the official WDW page for some reason, but it is being reported everywhere so I assume they're just slow in updating).   


I bring this up here not to highlight anything in particular for these specific discounts but rather to put in context what it might mean for the future of discounts going forward.  And to look into the future, we have to first talk about the past, as is often the case here.


Wednesday, October 26, 2022

Disney's Animal Kingdom - Park Strategy

 


 

 

We’re going to be looking at park strategies for all four of the parks at Walt Disney World.  These strategies will assume two things – one, that you’re not staying on property, and therefore can’t take advantage of early theme park entry.  And two, that you will NOT be purchasing Genie+ or Individual Lightning Lanes (ILL) for anything during your day.  These assumptions might not be true – in fact, I gather that at least one, if not both, will be false for the average person reading this. However, I wanted to write this from the perspective of a regular guest showing up and trying to accomplish what they want without any particular advantages.  If you are participating in either of the above, the strategy becomes a lot easier.  This should cover the basics either way.  Today we’ll be discussing Disney’s Animal Kingdom (DAK). (Updated October 26, 2022)

 

Animal Kingdom attractions:

Highest wait times – Avatar Flight of Passage, Na’vi River Journey

Moderate wait times – Kilimanjaro Safaris, Expedition Everest, DINOSAUR, Kali River Rapids

Lowest wait times – TriceraTop Spin, It’s Tough To Be A Bug

 

I’m leaving out any of the animal trails around the park, which are self guided walks around certain areas.  Similarly, I’m also leaving out Rafiki’s Planet Watch, which is an “edutainment” section devoted to animal care and conservation.  Finally, I’m ignoring the shows that have performances at set times (Festival Of The Lion King, Feathered Friends In Flight and soon the returning Finding Nemo: The Big Blue and Beyond).  If you arrive a little before show time, you should have no issues getting in to see a particular performance.  It’s Tough To Be A Bug, while a show, is listed on the official and unofficial wait time apps and the performances run one after the other; that line can back up on busy days but is usually one of the lowest at the park. That will be included here.

 

Disney's Hollywood Studios - Park Strategy

 

 


 

We’re going to be looking at park strategies for all four of the parks at Walt Disney World.  These strategies will assume two things – one, that you’re not staying on property, and therefore can’t take advantage of early theme park entry.  And two, that you will NOT be purchasing Genie+ or Individual Lightning Lanes (ILL) for anything during your day.  These assumptions might not be true – in fact, I gather that at least one, if not both, will be false for the average person reading this. However, I wanted to write this from the perspective of a regular guest showing up and trying to accomplish what they want without any particular advantages.  If you are participating in either of the above, the strategy becomes a lot easier.  This should cover the basics either way.  Today we’ll be discussing Disney’s Hollywood Studios (DHS). (Updated October 26, 2022)

 

Hollywood Studios attractions:

Highest wait times - Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance, Slinky Dog Dash, Twilight Zone Tower of Terror,  Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run

Moderate wait times – Mickey & Minnie's Runaway Railway, Rock N Roller Coaster Starring Aerosmith, Toy Story Mania

Lowest wait times – Star Tours – The Adventures Continue, Alien Swirling Saucers, Muppet*Vision 3D, Lightning McQueen’s Racing Academy


A quick note on the above - even moderate wait times at this park can be a burden.  For October 2022, the top SEVEN rides here all averaged over an hour during the day.  That's a lot to work around.  Tower of Terror recently underwent a refurbishment that closed one side of the ride, effectively doubling the wait time.  I'm not sure if they're now working on the other side, because it is still one of the highest waits in the park (eclipsing even Slinky Dog Dash on average).  On the other hand, Runaway Railway seems to have settled into a nice groove now that it's not as new.  But as I said, don't expect it to be short in comparison with other parks.


Hollywood Studios is one of the hardest parks to strategize for.  In large part, this is due to the attraction lineup being very top heavy.  There are a lot of newer and very in demand attractions at this park, and currently not a lot of crowd eater type shows and attractions to disperse everyone.  Thankfully, character meet and greets are back, as well as Beauty & The Best: Live On Stage, the Indiana Jones Stunt Spectacular and For The First Time In Forever: A Frozen Sing-a-long. These things should at least help spread the crowds out so that they’re not waiting for one of the five or six big attractions at the park.

 

Epcot - Park Strategy

 


 

 

We’re going to be looking at park strategies for all four of the parks at Walt Disney World.  These strategies will assume two things – one, that you’re not staying on property, and therefore can’t take advantage of early theme park entry.  And two, that you will NOT be purchasing Genie+ or Individual Lightning Lanes (ILL) for anything during your day.  These assumptions might not be true – in fact, I gather that at least one, if not both, will be false for the average person reading this. However, I wanted to write this from the perspective of a regular guest showing up and trying to accomplish what they want without any particular advantages.  If you are participating in either of the above, the strategy becomes a lot easier.  This should cover the basics either way.  Today we’ll be discussing Epcot. (Updated October 26, 2022)

 

Epcot attractions:

Highest wait times – Remy's Ratatouille Adventure, Frozen Ever After, Test Track

Moderate wait times – Soarin' Around The World, Spaceship Earth, Mission: Space

Lowest wait times – Journey Into Imagination With Figment, Living With The Land, The Seas With Nemo and Friends, Turtle Talk With Crush, Gran Fiesta Tour Starring The Three Caballeros

N/A - Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind (see below for more on this one specifically)

 

A couple of notes on the above – first, I’m not including any of the shows (The American Adventure, Awesome Planet, etc) as those generally have set schedules (which you can find at the park or on Disney’s official website) and mostly have little to no wait (essentially the amount of time that the show takes is how long you’ll wait if you just missed it).  Second, wait times are relative, not absolute. This means that the lowest wait times at the busiest time of year will probably still feel quite busy, while the highest wait times on the slowest day of the year won’t seem so bad. Context matters.  

 

Magic Kingdom - Park Strategy


 

 

We’re going to be looking at park strategies for all four of the parks at Walt Disney World.  These strategies will assume two things – one, that you’re not staying on property, and therefore can’t take advantage of early theme park entry.  And two, that you will NOT be purchasing Genie+ or Individual Lightning Lanes (ILL) for anything during your day.  These assumptions might not be true – in fact, I gather that at least one, if not both, will be false for the average person reading this. However, I wanted to write this from the perspective of a regular guest showing up and trying to accomplish what they want without any particular advantages.  If you are participating in either of the above, the strategy becomes a lot easier.  This should cover the basics either way.  Today we’ll be discussing the one and only Magic Kingdom. (Updated October 26, 2022)

 

Magic Kingdom attractions:

Highest wait times – Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, Peter Pan’s Flight, Jungle Cruise, Space Mountain, Splash Mountain

Moderate wait times – Pirates Of The Caribbean, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, Haunted Mansion, it’s a small world, Astro Orbiter, Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin, The Many Adventures Of Winnie The Pooh, Tomorrowland Speedway, Mickey's Philharmagic,  Under The Sea: Journey Of The Little Mermaid

Lowest wait times – Dumbo The Flying Elephant, Prince Charming Regal Carrousel, Swiss Family Treehouse, The Magic Carpets Of Aladdin, Tom Sawyer Island, Liberty Square Riverboat, Country Bear Jamboree, The Hall Of Presidents, Walt Disney’s Enchanted Tiki Room, Walt Disney’s Carousel Of Progress, Monsters Inc. Laugh Floor, Tomorrowland Transit Authority PeopleMover

 

In some ways, Magic Kingdom is the easiest park to strategize around and in some ways it’s the hardest.  There are easily more attractions at this park then at any of the others, probably combined.  That leads to a more spread out crowd throughout the day, with more moderate wait times as opposed to some really busy attractions and some empty ones.  Our recommendation is to spend two days in Magic Kingdom.  If you choose not to (or are unable to do so for any reason), our STRONG recommendation is to purchase Genie+.  I am not a shill for Disney and I’m not trying to get you to part with your money, but if you only have one day, it is very difficult to make your way through most of these attractions, especially if you have little kids. 

 

Tuesday, October 18, 2022

Akershus Reopening Date and More Restaurant News


 

As announced by Disney today, we finally have a reopening date for one of the most popular restaurants on property - Akershus Royal Banquet Hall in the Norway Pavilion at Epcot.  This headlines some other restaurant news, which we'll also talk about below. But Akershus is the big one here.  To understand why this is a big deal, as well as why this is one of the last major restaurants to reopen, we have to talk about what Akershus is.


Akershus is modeled after a real castle (named Akershus) in Norway.  It originally opened with the pavilion in 1988 but wasn't a character dining location at the beginning.  That changed, as more intellectual property was brought into World Showcase and Storybook Dining with the Disney princesses was born.


Wednesday, October 12, 2022

Fantasmic! Returns to Hollywood Studios in November!

 


After what seems like forever, Fantasmic! (exclamation point included in the name of the show, though I'll refrain from using it going forward in this post, despite my excitement) FINALLY gets an officially announced return to Walt Disney World's Hollywood Studios - November 2022.  That's right, there's still no actual start date, but if it's being announced now, they must finally be confident in that time frame. [October 19 edit - official start date is November 3!  See below for more]


There isn't much more to this announcement but given my love of this show, I'm going to post about what Fantasmic is, the changes being made to it, what it means for the crowds at Hollywood Studios and some final lamentation about what possibly took so long.  Join me on this quest, if you will.


Tuesday, October 11, 2022

Genie+ Moving to Date Based Pricing


 

Disney announced today that their Genie+ service will now be subject to date based pricing as opposed to a flat rate year round.  This post will discuss the specifics and talk about why this is happening and what it means for the guest experience.


To review, when Genie+ was introduced at Walt Disney World, the price was $15 per person per day (plus tax).  This was true on any day you visited.  Since Genie+ is still a relatively new service, Disney continues to tweak certain aspects of the system.  Some are good - moving rides from Individual Lightning Lanes (ILL) to Genie+ added capacity and (at least theoretically) created more inventory from which guests could choose their attractions.  Some of the changes have been neutral or negative (not allowing you to see ride availability on the first screen, not allowing pre-trip purchases of Genie+ as an add-on, etc).  This change appears to fail into the latter category.