Disney Blog

Best and Worst Disney World Value Resorts

“How do I save money on my vacation?” is unsurprisingly one of the most frequently asked questions when planning a Disney trip. Park tickets expensive, quick service meals cost too…

“How do I save money on my vacation?” is unsurprisingly one of the most frequently asked questions when planning a Disney trip. Park tickets expensive, quick service meals cost too much, and you’re probably gonna want a pair of Mickey Ears to feel like you’re doing it right. One small way to save money is to eat outside of the parks and pack your lunches. But honestly, due to lines, parades, and FastPass reservations, you usually don’t have enough time to pop in and out for a cheap meal.

So, if you’re budget-minded, what’s the easiest way to spend less money? Choose a value level resort. Choosing a resort in this category (the lowest price with fewer amenities) can decrease the cost immensely and take a little stress off the idea of going on vacation. There have been plenty of blogs that outline money saving tips and tricks. This is one of the easiest ways to do so. Which brings me to another frequently asked question: “Where should I stay?” Here’s a ranking of all the Disney World Value Resorts to help you decide.

Something To Remember: Value resorts are more often booked by large families with kids in an effort to save money and for a kid-friendly atmosphere. Just making this clear so you don’t expect a tranquil getaway. It is, after all, a Disney vacation.

But first, if you’re not sure what I mean when I say “on and off property…”

On Property vs. Off Property: Each on property resort (owned by Disney) features multiple pools, shuttles to the parks, free transportation to/from the airport, 1 quick service restaurant, use of the Magic Band system and the Disney touch. The off property resorts (not officially owned by Disney) are a little cheaper, have a few more food options, free shuttles to the parks, and offer a break from the magic if you’d rather not fully immerse yourself in the Disney experience.

 

World Showcase in Epcot at Sunset

World Showcase at Sunset

Ranked Value Resorts

Best Western Lake Buena Vista (Off Property “Good Neighbor” Hotel): Most of us have an idea of what a Best Western is like. You can trust that this hotel will be clean and have decent service. The rooms and overall “décor” of the hotel are outdated and remind of the 90’s and not in a nostalgic way. But, it’s still a decent place to stay because it’s a step above some other Best Western’s. This one has an onsite restaurant and lounge along with a quick service pot and a Pizza Hut Express. The pool is decent and provides free shuttles to the parks. I don’t think it’s a bad choice, just not the greatest.

Wyndham Garden Lake (Off Property “Good Neighbor” Hotel): The only reason I’m putting this one after the All-Stars is purely nostalgic reasons. I love staying on property because it reminds me of my childhood family trips. But, I’ve sent quite a few of my clients to this hotel because I think it’s quite nice for the cost and people love it. The official Disney Value Resorts don’t have a poolside bar and grill, but this one sure does! The rooms seem to be updated recently, they have a 24-hour café, and a Lakeview Restaurant that features character dining on Tuesday, Thursdays, and Saturdays. What more could you possibly want?

Disney's All Star Music Resort

Good news! They are renovating the All-Star Resort rooms as well! The insides are looking much better than what they used to be and the design is very similar to Pop Century’s upgrade. Note: The All-Star Resorts sometimes share buses during the day, but have their own bus in the morning and evening.

All-Star Sports (On Property): I rank this one last out of the All-Stars because it’s the least “Disney” of all the Disney Resorts. There are a few character statues throughout, but it doesn’t quite capture the magic. But, I do know plenty of people who like the sports atmosphere and stay here every visit. They have a large open “football field” to play on and I’m a big fan of the Mighty Ducks pool. Other than that, staying at Sports really isn’t my cup of Gatorade, so I’m putting it last. The biggest perk to this resort is that it’s the first stop on the bus line during the day.

All-Star Music (On Property): This resort is rumored to be slightly quieter than the other two, but I honestly can’t tell the difference. I prefer rooms in the Calypso building because you’re near my favorite pool featuring The Three Caballeros fountain. The Calypso rooms do cost a bit more because they’re also near the food court and bus stop, FYI.

All Star Movies (On Property): Movies is my go-to cheap Disney stay. I love the larger than life Toy Story statues and I always stay in the Herbie the Love Bug building. Mostly because it’s towards the back of the property and a little calmer, but also because Herbie himself sits back there.  P.S. If you haven’t heard, you can ask for the “secret menu” at their quick service spot. The Cast Member will pull out a briefcase equipped with a couple of old View-Masters inside. The pictures you’ll see inside the View-Master are of the secret menu items available. A fun thing to do with kids!

Pop Century (On Property): What’s the best inexpensive Disney Value Resort? 9 times out of 10 a Disney veteran will answer with “Pop Century.” It’s a newer value resort and most of the rooms have been recently renovated. You also have the added plus of having your own bus line rather than sharing a line at the All-Star Resorts. My favorite feature is that the “Generation Gap Bridge,” which had the original intent of connecting the current themed buildings (decades ranging from the 50’s to the 90’s), to future generation buildings (2000’s and beyond) on the other side. Instead, they decided to build Art of Animation in that place and kept the bridge up. Meaning, you can pop over to Art of Animation if you’re staying at Pop Century any time you want.

You’re Probably Wondering Why I Didn’t Mention Art of Animation

Although Art of Animation is considered a value resort the prices do not reflect the same idea. The Little Mermaid Room, which is a standard non-suite, usually starts at about 150/night. Compare this to an All-Star that can sometimes go down to about $80/night. The family suite can be worth it if you have a larger family though. The suites accommodate 6 people so that means you won’t have to purchase two rooms. If you love the atmosphere of this resort, but can’t afford a room, then stop by for a visit!

Epcot at Disney World

Just because they’re easier on your wallet, doesn’t mean value resorts aren’t enjoyable places to stay. The amenities are generally good, onsite restaurants available, pools are nice, and the service is great. Besides, you’ll most likely be spending most of your vacation in the parks and only use your hotel to collapse after a long day.

If you’re looking for more ways to save money on vacation, feel free to contact me. As a Disney Travel Planner, I can help navigate current Disney World discounts and promos throughout the season.

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Embassy Suites Anaheim South Review: A Cute Little Hotel with Good Amenities

This week I had the great fun of writing a guest post for Practically Perfect Meg regarding my stay at The Embassy Suites Anaheim South. Megan and I share a…

This week I had the great fun of writing a guest post for Practically Perfect Meg regarding my stay at The Embassy Suites Anaheim South. Megan and I share a love for Disney and if you’re planning a trip to Disney, her expertise is something to look into. She writes great tips and reviews regarding the parks and has a lot of insider info. To get the whole picture, read my highlights below and visit Megan for the whole post here: Embassy Suites Anaheim South

Full Disclosure: This an unsponsored post. Meaning, Embassy Suites didn’t pay to me write this review nor did they comp my stay. My opinions are my own.

Review: Embassy Suites Anaheim South near Disneyland! #vacation #disneyland

Here’s a little teaser of the full post:

If you can’t afford to stay in a hotel built by Disney, I suggest staying in a Disney “Good Neighbor Hotel.” These are hotels that have been given the stamp of approval by Disney, making them reliable and good places to stay, but not quite as spendy. Good Neighbor Hotels also allow you to book your stay directly through Disney if you purchase tickets as well. When searching for one of these go to disneyland.com > Places to Stay > Good Neighbor Hotels. This will give you a full list of resorts knighted by Disney. You don’t have to book through Disney’s website to stay at these resorts, but you may receive a package discount if you do. I was able to get a 4th night free when booking through Disney’s website.

Hotel Review: Reasons to choose Embassy Suites Anaheim South is a great choice for your next Disneyland vacation. #vacation #hotels #disneyland

The Embassy Suites Anaheim South is a good neighbor hotel, owned by Hilton, so you can have the confidence that this place has decent service and decent amenities. My favorite part is that the Embassy provides 1 free meal for their hot breakfast buffet and a complimentary happy hour with snacks and a free drink every night. This moderately priced hotel gave me a lot of reasons to come back. 

Highlights from the Full Post:

  • Transportation Tips: To/From the Parks
  • Room Types and Room Views
  • Onsite Restaurants and the Complimentary Meals Provided
  • Nearby Establishments (Restaurants, Grocery Stores, Convenience Stores)
  • Overall Experience of Staying at This Hotel

I also provided some pro tips to make sure your stay goes smoothly. If you’re looking for a good place to rest your feet after a long day in the parks check out my full review. If you’ve already stayed at this particular Embassy Suites, comment below and tell me what you’re experience was! I’m curious to know if yours was similar to mine! 

In case you missed the link: Full Review of the Embassy Suites Anaheim South

Hotel Review: Reasons to choose Embassy Suites Anaheim South is a great choice for your next Disneyland vacation. #vacation #hotels #disneyland

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Adorable New Clothing Line at Target is Perfect for a Disney Vacay

Despite being reported on various fashion blogs, I didn’t find out about Junk Food’s new Disney line at Target until I wandered into one this afternoon. The clothes are way too…

Despite being reported on various fashion blogs, I didn’t find out about Junk Food’s new Disney line at Target until I wandered into one this afternoon. The clothes are way too adorable and perfect purchases to gear up for a summer vacation! Comfy vintage-inspired Disney wear is perfect for my age group. A generation infatuated by the nostalgic early years (even if we weren’t born yet) mashed up with our childhood memories of snuggling up with a Disney VHS. This particular line is perfect for a Disney vacation. Obviously due to it’s theming, but also because the clothes are lightweight and comfortable. Two extremely important factors when dressing for a day in the parks. I wanted to go all out and get the Mickey shoes, but I held myself back and budgeted for a couple new shirts and the absolutely precious Mickey capris. The best thing about these new products is that everything is fairly cheap and good quality, typical for Target items. If you love this stuff as much as I do, I’ve placed links to the products throughout the post!

The first outfit features the Mickey Mouse blush shirt. You can’t see it here, but it has a retro-esque rainbow on the back. It reminds me of the 80’s rainbow outfits Mickey and Minnie used to wear at Epcot. The sunglasses, sun hat, and sandals are all from Target too. Can you tell where all my money goes? Target has a wide variety of the rose gold glasses, complementary to the infamous rose gold Minnie ears as well!

Summer Vacay! Adorable outfits from Target for your next Disney trip! #disney #summer #vacation

Shop This Look

Mickey Mouse Chambray Tie-Front Pants

Mickey Mouse Rainbow Blush Shirt

Rose Gold Cateye Sunglasses

Lavinia Toe Wrap Sandals 

Mickey Mouse Embroidered Straw Hat (Not pictured, but adorable)

The next purchase I made was the understated “Follow the Sun” tank that ties in the front and the Mickey bobby pins that you can just barely see in the photo. Both purchases are great for the “everyday outfit” when you don’t want to shout from the rooftops that you are a Disney fanatic.

Summer Vacay! Adorable outfits from Target for your next Disney trip! #disney #summer #vacation

Shop This Look

Follow the Sun Tie-Front Tank

Mickey Mouse Bobby Pins: Available in store, not on Target.com

Silver Minnie Mouse Ears: Shop Disney

Ukele Not Included 😉

The “Love Mickey” line also features dishware, camping gear, pet gear, and bathroom products. There were even some cosmetics branded with the Disney name, although, those were less impressive. Most of this stuff costs as low as $5 and it’s way too cute! My favorite is the Steamboat Willie inner tube. Although, judging from the dimensions, it looks kinda small.

Maybe it’s because I started binging Mad Men on Netflix this week, but I’ve become obsessed with the dapper aesthetic. The high-rise canvas capris with the waist tie belt are lightweight, perfect for the beginning of summer. Also, I’m not a natural in front of the camera, but it made me so happy to put on my Mickey pants and sit in the sun today, I had to take a pic. Being in the Pacific Northwest, it’s no surprise that when the sun decides to show itself, I get a little excited. Let me know in the comments if you pick up any of these cute finds!

Summer Vacay! Adorable outfits from Target for your next Disney trip! #disney #summer #vacation

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Disneyland’s Pixar Fest is the Nostalgia Generation’s Dream Come True

I’m not a big fan of overlays or the over-saturation of seasonal festivals. I give exception to the holiday overlays like it’s a small world and Haunted Mansion, or Epcot’s…

Pixar Fest is a blast this year! A food and entertainment guide to this awesome new festival at Disneyland and California Adventure. #foodie

I’m not a big fan of overlays or the over-saturation of seasonal festivals. I give exception to the holiday overlays like it’s a small world and Haunted Mansion, or Epcot’s Food & Wine Festival,  but other than that I think they’re kinda cheap and lazy. I probably wouldn’t feel this strongly if Disney didn’t raise the ticket prices every year and CEO Bob Iger didn’t have the potential to earn 423 million dollars in bonuses while his employees go hungry. End rant.

But I digress, because here’s the thing, despite all the politics that Disney has been haphazardly battling, I absolutely fell in love with Pixar Fest last week. How do you keep pulling us in, Disney? How do you continually win us over with your spirit and tenderness and make us spend thousands on park tickets and food? Obviously, I was skeptical going in because I expected it to be a couple of banners and regurgitated old parades. And yes, it was basically that as far as the atmospheric elements. But, I think it’s a good time merely for the fact that the festival is Pixar themed. The movies and the music from those movies captured our hearts, so naturally, if we see a Bing Bong themed parade float or hear a Dapper Dan rendition of You’ve Got a Friend in Me, you’ve won us over. Due to this alone, the festival had just the right amount of heart, charm, fun, and nostalgia. Watching the crowd light up when Owl City’s When Can I See You Again began as Tinker Bell lead Paint the Night preview was incredible. I’ve never seen so many Disney fanatics lose their mind over a parade. It was magical and we were all crying over our churros.

And the food. Dear lawd, the food was good. Disney, in general, has really stepped up their game on the food quality and it seems like every month they’re coming up with new creations. To get the most out of Pixar Fest, head to the Paradise Garden Grill, which is to the right of the Goofy’s Sky School in California Adventure. This is where they feature a lot of the unique food, a special character spot, and a Pixar themed band. The only disappointing factor was the highly anticipated Pizza Planet overlay that really fell flat. More on that below. The festival runs now through September 3rd, 2018, so take a look below at our guide to get yourself better prepared!

Pixar Fest Sign California Adventure

Atmosphere

There are some hidden touches here and there adding to the Festival, but not enough that will hinder your experience if it’s your first time. I know people who have only ever ridden the Haunted Mansion with the Nightmare Before Christmas overlay because it’s the only time they’ve ever visited. There are some decorations and of course, the giant Pixar Fest sign hanging above the entrances. My favorite touch is that the Esplanade (the large walking area connecting the two park entrances), which plays a fresh new background soundtrack featuring Pixar soundtracks as opposed to their normal backtracking. It’s a subtle and super sweet detail. And of course, there are the Pixar monorail makeovers. Other than that, there are themed banners hanging about and the new Pixar Pier sign has been branded on the future Incredicoaster.

Pixar Fest Incredibles Monorail Disneyland

Food

Some of the festival dishes I highly recommend due to their deliciousness. Other items just come with some extra toppings that are yummy, but not quite as unique. As always, don’t get discouraged if you can’t hit every single thing they have to offer! There will always be new Disney food trends, whether it’s the dole whip donut, millennial pink champagne, or the rainbow-unicorn churro. That last one doesn’t exist, but I wish. As mentioned before, the main hub for Pixar Fest celebrations and festival food is at the Paradise Garden Grill. They had a lot to offer back there!

Here are a few that I tried last weekend:

Lots-O-Straw-Bear-Y Funnel Cake (Hungry Bear Restaurant-Disneyland): Layers of strawberries, blueberries, strawberry butter and pink sugary crumbles. This was really good, but honestly, the best part was the fried dough (duh!). I could only get through half of it, so try to share! They have another version called Jessie’s Berry Jubilee Funnel Cake served at the Stagedoor Cafe next to Hoop-de-Doo review. That one has oreo crumbles and creme anglaise, dusted with gold sugars.

Hungry Bear Funnel Cake at Disneyland for Pixar Fest

Tres Leches Parfait (Paradise Garden Grill-California Adventure): If you’re one for rich desserts, this is the one to try! I had already eaten breakfast, so I didn’t think I’d get through all of it, but oh man, this is an amazing treat. It’s vanilla cake layered with a caramel cream and dark rum. Basically a caramel tiramisu. I will never stop dreaming about this treat.

Pixar Fest Tres Leches Dessert Disneyland Green Monorail Destinations

Spicy Corn Dog (Corn Dog Castle-California Adventure): Let me try to paint a picture for you: This was a spicy hot link sausage, a layer of pepper jack cheese, and then a cajun chicken sausage, dipped in their housemade batter and fried to perfection. You start off eating a corndog, eat a fried cheese stick, then another corndog. It comes with a blackberry-serrano chile dipping sauce that is the right amount of spice and sweet. It’s a euphoric experience.

Spicy Corn Dog at Pixar Fest in California Adventure

Agua de Jamaica (Paradise Garden Grill-California Adventure): It was too hot for the Mexican hot cocoa, so I went with the hibiscus tea slush. In essence, it was a fruit slushy. This was nice and refreshing in the hot Cali sun, but doesn’t compare to the other treats I indulged in.

Agua de Jamaica Pixar Fest at California Adventure

Pizza Planet (Overlay at Redd Rockett’s Pizza Port in Disneyland): I had such high hopes for this one. We all thought we were getting the Pizza Planet we deserve, but sadly got a sign and some decals on the walls. There’s a cheeseburger pizza that’s supposedly ok, but the line was too long to attempt it. This is one of those moments where Disney builds a lot of hype, makes you feel like you absolutely must see this brand new attraction (spend more money) and they give you low effort with low-quality results. Yikes. Maybe someday, Pizza Planet!

Pizza Planet at Disneyland for Pixar Fest

For a full list of the Pixar Fest foods, Disney Food Blog is always on top of things with their guides and reviews of Disney food. You’ll even see a picture of my funnel cake on there! 🙂

Entertainment

Initially, I thought bringing back two former parades is a bit of a cop out, but they did add a couple of new floats and characters that are quite adorable.

Luxo Lamp Pixar Fest Disneyland

Luxo Lamp Float on Preview and Media Day

Pixar Pals Character Spot (Paradise Garden Grill at California Adventure): Throughout the day, this new spot features characters like Woody, Mike & Sulley, and Russel from Up. It’s a good chance to meet some friends that are more difficult to find.

PhotoPass Spot (Cars Land): The cars parked at PhotoPass spot at the “Welcome to Cars Land” entrance are dressed up and looking adorable!

Cars Land PhotoPass Entrance Dressed Up for Pixar Fest

Dapper Dans and Disneyland Band: The regular Disney musicians will perform some Pixar soundtracks and songs in their daily performances. A very cute touch.

Pixarmonic Orchestra (Paradise Garden Bandstand at California Adventure): This was the best discovery for me. The most adorable ragtime band that plays their renditions of Pixar songs and jokes in short, 30-minute sets. They were hilarious, ridiculous, and super talented artists. Here’s a short video I got of their performance last week.

Pixar Play Parade (Disneyland Day Parade): This is another old parade that they spruced up a bit. It was cute and all, but it was no Paint the Night, of course. They added a couple new floats and characters including Inside Out and Up. And also, you guys, the moment I saw Russell riding Kevin, I flipped the heck out. It’s so cute.

Joy and Sadness Inside Out Float at Pixar Fest Disneyland

Paint the Night Parade: If anything, I think the whole festival is worth it if you can catch this parade. Fans were furious when they prematurely removed this gorgeous and technologically advanced parade a few years ago. But now it’s back! Imagine grabbing a cup of Mexican Hot Chocolate in your Coco souvenir mug and settling up for that 10:30 showing on a warm summer night. *sigh* Pure Disney comforts.

Mike Wazowski Paint the Night Parade for Pixar Fest in California Adventure

Together Forever – A Pixar Nighttime Spectacular: The special fireworks that feature all the beloved Pixar movies is full of heart. So much heart that the person standing next to me was sobbing through the entire show. I definitely teared up a bit myself, don’t get me wrong. It has that extra special Disney touch where they combined touching images, well-timed fireworks, and just the right amount of sweeping orchestrations to pull at your heartstrings and say  “Ok Disney, take all my money, you’re worth it.” The best part is that the same projections that are displayed on Main Street and the castle are also projected on the front of it’s a small world, the water features used in Fantasmic on the Rivers of America and The Matterhorn. So it’s easier to get a nice view of the show.

Reason being, Disneyland’s castle is much smaller than Disney World’s so the projecting mapping technology doesn’t work quite as well for big crowds. Disney had to figure out how to bring the same experiences of Disney World’s firework displays to Disneyland. Their solution is brilliant, which is to apply the projections to other areas of the park, not just the castle. If you want the castle experience, I had a great time watching from the middle of Main Street. I could see all the projections, have a bit of the castle experience, and didn’t have to wait 3 hours to see it. Also, there’s an awesome surprise during the Coco segment on Main  Street!

Green Alien Together Forever Fireworks for Pixar Fest in Disneyland

Pixar Shorts (Sunset Showcase Theatre – previously Muppet Theatre- at California Adventure): I never quite got over the fact that they turned the Muppet Vision 3D Theatre into a regular movie theatre to show previews (i.e. advertisements) for upcoming Disney movies. It seemed so unnecessary to me. I did really enjoy watching the Pixar Shorts in this venue, however. Throughout this summer, they are having a special showing of 3 Pixar shorts which are For the Birds, Lava, and Piper. This is actually quite cute because they made the show 3D and use other special effects like wind and wall televisions to add to the presentation. Best way to experience this? Grab an iced coffee from Schmoozie’s and settle in for an air-conditioned 20-minute break.

Pixar Shorts Disney Pixar Disneyland Green Monorail Destinations

Imagineering Blue Sky Cellar: This little cozy cove tucked away next to the Wine Country Trattoria is only open when the parks are previewing new attractions. The last time it was open was in 2013 they were displaying the new Starbucks that were moving into the parks. They’ve reopened the walk-through attraction to preview all the concept art and concept models for Pixar Pier and also play a short movie depicting the Imagineering process. It’s a cute display and also offers some escape from the heat for a short bit.

Pixar Pier Concept Model for Pixar Fest California Adventure

Souvenirs

In honor of Pixar Fest, California Adventure has opened their new souvenir shop, Knick Knacks, located on Pixar Pier (formerly known as Paradise Pier). They added some new merch to the shop and a kiosk where you can print some Pixar art and take it home with you. Throughout the parks, they are also selling things like a Mike Wazowski Souvenir Sipper, the connecting Sulley Popcorn Bucket, and the Pixar Luxo Lamp Straw that people are going crazy over. You can find these at places like Schmoozie’s, popcorn carts, and the Disneyland (left of the castle) or California Adventure (in front of Pixar Pier) cappuccino carts. The cutest Pixar Fest souvenir is the Coco jarrita ceramic mug sold at Paradise Garden Grill. For more details on the special merchandise, you can visit Disneyland News.

Pixar Fest Merchandise California Adventure in Disneyland

Pixar Fest Merchandise California Adventure in Disneyland

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pro Tips for Getting the Most Out of Your Experience

  • No need to stand in line! If there’s a line for that Sulley Popcorn Bucket or the Paradise Garden Grill, come back later. Throughout the day, the line will come and go. Especially if it’s a bit later in the summer.
  • When To Go: Pixar Pier in California Adventure along with the renovated Incredicoaster and Lamplight Lounge (formerly Cove Bar/Ariel’s Grotto) will open on June 23rd. The parks are likely to be a madhouse the first week of opening so if you do visit during that time, I highly advise purchasing the MaxPass to help with the lines. If you have the chance, go later in the summer. Pixar Fest lasts until September 3rd and the crowds will go down closer to fall. And it will be slightly (slightly!) cooler.
  • Check out disneyland.com for parade and show times throughout the summer and don’t forget to subscribe to my newsletter for future updates! (See how I snuck that in there?)

This festival won my heart and I have a feeling it will for you too! Hopefully, they can pull some more events like this in the future and it will only get better once Pixar Pier is open!

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Even More Updates for Disney Parks in 2018 (and Beyond!)

Disney has been churning out more exciting news for the park lately! Some are brand new announcements made at the D23 Expo in Japan and some are updates to the…

More Updates Coming to Disney Parks in 2018 and Beyond! Disneyland, Disney World, Hong Kong Disneyland, Disneyland Paris

Disney has been churning out more exciting news for the park lately! Some are brand new announcements made at the D23 Expo in Japan and some are updates to the previous announcements. I’ve compiled some highlights for the last two weeks here! Also, take a look at my overview of everything new coming to Disneyland in 2018 for a refresher of everything planned and newly opened for that particular park.

Ticket Price Increases: By far the most controversial topic of the week. Disney has once again, increased prices of their tickets. Some passes increased by $2 while others increased by $5 and so on. The prices increased on February 11 and you can read a full break down of current ticket prices at Touring Plans.

Disney World

Hollywood Studios

Just confirmed! Toy Story Land will open on June 30th, 2018! Disney Parks Blog just dropped a video of the Slinky Dog in action. Check it out here.

Star Wars Resort Hotel Updates: The new Star Wars Hotel (opening in the next few years) is turning out to be a giant LARP experience for Star Wars fanatics. No complaints here! The updates announced recently have confirmed that the fully immersive resort will feature windows that display atmospheric space and Star Wars elements. When you check into your hotel, your travel group will begin a journey together, meeting characters and unfolding Star Wars plotlines during your stay.The storyline will be connected to the concepts in Galaxy’s Edge in Hollywood Studios as well. Guests will be allowed/encouraged to wear Star Wars inspired clothing to fully engage with the experience. Take a look at the short animated video released by Disney.

New Look at Alien Swirling Saucers: Hollywood Studios continues to be under heavy construction as they prepare for Galaxy’s Edge (Star Wars Land) and Toy Story Land. Toy Story Land is making progress as The Slinky Dog coaster seems to be almost complete and is set to open this summer. This week, Disney released some new concept art for the Swirling Saucers ride that will also be in Toy Story Land. This ride is speculated to be similar to Tow Mater’s Junkyard Jamboree, where your car is being towed by another and you’re gently whipped back and forth in a figure eight. This will most likely be a very toddler/child-friendly ride. OooOOOoooh.

Alien Swirling Saucers Toy Story Land Disney World

Name Change: Despite the vast rumors, Disney made the announcement that they will not be changing Hollywood Studio’s name after all. I have a sneaky feeling it’s because of the public’s reaction to the names that were rumored to replace the current name like “Cinemagine” or “Disney XL Parks”…yikes. They dodged a bullet with that one.

Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway Opening Date: The attraction replacing The Great Move Ride (R.I.P.) now has an official opening year: 2019. If you haven’t heard the details regarding this new ride, the railway will feature Mickey, Minnie, and Goofy. The ride will allow you “step into the adventure” with their new 2 1/2 D (as opposed to 3D) technology. Although we’re sad to see the Movie Ride go, I know Disney is capable is capable of some really advanced technology and can’t wait to see this thing in action.

Disney Park Updates

Runaway Railway Concept Art | Walt Disney Studios

Epcot

Guardians of the Galaxy Roller Coaster: The Guardians of the Galaxy attraction replacing Ellen’s Energy Adventure (R.I.P.) in Epcot has been confirmed to be a roller coaster. It was also announced that it will be one of the longest enclosed roller coaster! The ride will feature a unique storyline to the Guardian’s of the Galaxy saga and also use newly innovative ride technology. Guardians of the Galaxy Epcot Ellens Energy Adventure Disney World

Mobile Ordering Available for Dining Credits at Disney World: Why wait in another line at Disney World? If you use the mobile ordering feature on the My Disney Experience app, you can pre-order your food and walk over to the quick service spot to pick it up! Now, you can use your quick service and snack credits to pay via the mobile app. We can all appreciate the fact that Disney is at least attempting to cut down on waiting time in the parks. Take a look at all the restaurants allowing mobile ordering on Touring Plans here.

Disneyland

Pixar Pier Official Opening Date: We’ve been getting a lot of questions regarding the new Pixar Pier overlay in California Adventure. Bob Chapek announced that Pixar Pier will be open on June 23rd, 2018, just in time for summer vacation! This means the Incredicoaster, updates to the pier, and Paint the Night featuring a new Incredible float will be running at that time. You can see all the updates coming to California Adventure in my previous post here.Pixar Pier California Adventure Disneyland Paradise Pier

Rey Meet n’ Greet: Ask and you shall receive! Rey will be making regular meet n’ greet appearances at Disneyland. Many were begging for it and since she was making appearances in the Jedi Training Academy in Disney World, it was only natural she would soon get her own experience. I can’t wait to get a picture with her!

New Disneyland Hotel Update: Taking over much of Downtown Disney, the new ridiculously enormous Disneyland resort hotel is set to open sometime in 2021. This week, a new piece of concept art was released depicting a monorail station at the front entrance of this future 4 diamond luxury resort. Guests of the resort will have their own monorail station that will whisk them away to inside the park. I’m mostly excited that there will be a new garden walkway, connecting the other three resorts and creating a new park entrance. They have notified neighboring tenants that construction will begin soon for the hotel and parking lot.

New Flagship Disneyland Hotel Concept Art

New Resort Concept Art

ew Flagship Disneyland Hotel Concept Art

Disney Home Now Open!: The new home goods store in Downtown Disney has officially opened. This store features all your Disney-at-home needs like mugs, teacups, and placemats. The store will also have seasonal items to spruce up your abode.

Ant-Man in Hong Kong Disneyland: A new Ant-Man ride will be replacing Buzz Lightyear’s Astro Blasters in Hong Kong Disneyland. No surprise here as the current Iron Man Experience in Hong Kong is wildly popular. Much like the Astro Blasters, this ride will also be an interactive shooting game where you’ll fight along with Ant-Mand the Wasp. It will be exciting to learn whether we will get similar attractions in the states.

Ant Man Overlay Hong Kong Disneyland Concept Art

Iron Man Overlay Replacing Rock n’ Roller Coaster in Disneyland Paris: When Disney does updates like these, you can kinda tell they’re testing the waters for bringing the updates overseas to the American parks. Of course, that’s all speculation. There was a lot of uproar over the Guardians of the Galaxy overlay on the Tower of Terror in Disneyland, so I’d be surprised if they did the same to the coaster in Hollywood Studios.

Iron Man Rock n' Roller Coaster Disneyland Paris

Do these updates get you pumped for a Disney vacation? Be sure to order your free planning DVD from Disney by clicking here. Or, shoot me a message here and I can help plan your vacation, free of charge. Have a magical day, friends!

P.S. Did you see the new Incredibles II movie trailer previewed during the Olympics? Exciting stuff!

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Disney Gift Guide: 15 Affordable Disney Finds to Make Your Day a Little More Magical

Sometimes all it takes is a touch of Disney magic to disrupt our mundane life routines. I like to sprinkle a little pixie dust around my home, car, or accessories,…

15 Affordable Disney Finds to Make Your Day a Little More Magical!

Sometimes all it takes is a touch of Disney magic to disrupt our mundane life routines. I like to sprinkle a little pixie dust around my home, car, or accessories, just for a bit of a pick-me-up. Of course, when your love is this deep for Disney, it can get expensive. So, I put together an affordable Disney product guide for all Disney lovers! All of these are available on Amazon and I plan on doing a review on Disney products for Box Lunch and Hot Topic in the future too! I did a lot of digging and found the most magical products that are both enchantingly Disney and won’t make you feel guilty for investing in them.

Mini Mickey Waffle Maker: This is my favorite Disney product available on Amazon. I used this waffle maker to create my Copycat Pumpkin Spice Mickey Waffles last Christmas and it’s been holding up really well. And the size of the waffle that it produces is quite perfect!15 Affordable Disney Find to Add Some Magic to Your Day

Disney Parks Presents: it’s a small world: The beautiful illustrations featured in this children’s book are inspired by Mary Blair’s style of animation and includes a singalong version of it’s a small world on a C.D. (What’s a C.D.??) This would be cute as a gift for a little one, or for a nursery…or for your own bookshelf. There are few other “Disney Park Presents” song and picture books available like Pirates of the Caribbean and The Haunted Mansion as well.15 Affordable Disney Finds to Make Your Day a Little More Magical!

Adult Coloring Books: I’m pretty partial to Disney Coloring Books for Adults. They’re a therapeutic way to pass the time, but also very fun and whimsical! Also, this isn’t Disney, but in the spirit of 90’s nostalgia, there’s a Splat-Nickelodeon color book that looks awesome as well. 15 Affordable Disney Finds to Make Your Day a Little More Magical!

Disney Cookbook: If you’re going to buy a Disney cookbook then I highly recommend Eat Like WaltDisney wanted his food to reflect the feeling of fun and family which inspired the making of Disneyland. This cookbook doesn’t just list copycat recipes but also explores the history of Disney Park food with pictures and stories of Walt’s era. One of the best gifts you could give to a Disney foodie!15 Affordable Disney Finds to Make Your Day a Little More Magical!

Historical Disney Books: If you’re a huge Disnerd I suggest The Disneyland Story which tells the story of Disneyland from conception to what is today. And, if you’re willing to invest in a little Disney history, I also advise looking into Ink & Paint: The Women of Walt Disney’s Animationwhich showcases how female Animators blazed trails in the entertainment industry15 Affordable Disney Finds to Make Your Day a Little More Magical!

Disney Pixar Oval Slow Cooker: I’m kinda pushing it as far pricing, but $35 ain’t bad for a good kitchen appliance. And, if you’re gonna have a crockpot, you should definitely have a Disney/Pixar crockpot! These are a fairly new product to Amazon and already very popular among Disney enthusiasts.15 Affordable Disney Finds to Make Your Day a Little More Magical!

Mickey Glove Kitchen Accessories: If you don’t want to go all out and buy a Disney slow cooker, there are plenty of other subtle kitchen accessories to brighten up the room. I really like the Mickey glove accessories like the measuring spoons, the chip clips and spoon rest
15 Affordable Disney Finds to Make Your Day a Little More Magical!

Disney Park Guide Books: Guidebooks are fun to read whether you’re planning a vacation or not. They’re full of tips, tricks, pictures, hotel and dining reviews, so they’re perfect to conjure up a Disney daydream. There are so many park guidebooks I wrote a whole review about them last month here. The most thorough and reliable book is the Unofficial Guide, brought to you by the reputable touringplans.com15 Affordable Disney Find to Add Some Magic to Your Day

Light Saber Chop Sticks: Whether you love the new Star Wars movies, or you think that Disney only bought Lucas Films to make a ton of money (probably the latter), some pretty cool merchandise has been made as a result. The chopsticks are my favorite Star Wars find on Amazon. Definitely silly, but at least they’re useful!15 Affordable Disney Finds to Make Your Day a Little More Magical!

Disney iPhone Power Adapter Decals: Cutest little things since the tsum tsum (almost). These are simple and super cheap charger stickers that come in a variety of characters and colors. (USB charger not included!) 15 Affordable Disney Finds to Make Your Day a Little More Magical!

Mickey Air Freshener:  I’m bringing up the air freshener because you can drop your own aromatherapy oil into the filter, which allows for a true Disney experience. If you don’t already know, the scent they pipe into the Grand Floridian and other resorts is called Green Clover and Aloe. I’ve seen Bath & Body Works sell this scent in the past and they do have a couple versions of this scent as an essential oil on Amazon. I like to put a few drops into my humidifier at home and daydream that I’m on vacation. :p I imagine this would also be pleasant in the car! Just do a very small amount because the scent can be strong.15 Affordable Disney Finds to Make Your Day a Little More Magical!

Postcards: There’s something so personable about getting a piece of mail sent to you from a friend or a loved one. I send the Art of Disney/Pixar postcards to my clients to wish them well on their vacations because they’re so darn cute. Postcards also make great collectibles and artwork for around the house!15 Affordable Disney Finds to Make Your Day a Little More Magical!

Danielle Nicole Bags: Anything by Danielle Nicole is friggin’ adorable and most of the products sold in the parks are available on Amazon as well. But, not everything is what most of us would call “affordable.” She does have some small cosmetic bags for about $18.00, featuring the dwarfs. Should you invest in something more spendy, the Gus-Gus and Suzy bag is perfection. 15 Affordable Disney Finds to Make Your Day a Little More Magical!

Mickey Tea Strainer: Are you ready for the cutest”Hidden Mickey” tea strainer ever? This is a Disney Parks official item, no longer available on disneyshop.com and only sold by third-party sellers on Amazon. I can’t guarantee this item will always be available, but for the time being it’s there!
15 Affordable Disney Finds to Make Your Day a Little More Magical!

Mickey Mug: There are plenty of Disney mugs to be found on Amazon, Target, Walmart, etc. So many that it’s hard for me to recommend just one. However, if I were to choose one on Amazon mug, it would have to be the “Who says we have to grow up?” Mickey mug because I think all Disney lovers can relate to this one on deep, spiritual level.

15 Affordable Disney Finds to Make Your Day a Little More Magical!

Some of these items are handy if you’re planning a Disney vacation, while others are just fun to have. Treat yourself or treat a friend! We all need a little Disney in our day! Comment with your favorite affordable Disney find!

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A Complete Guide to Disney Guidebooks (And Other Useful Planning Resources!)

If you ask a question like, “what’s the best hotel on Disney property?”, you’ll most likely get about 15 answers.  There are so many conflicting opinions on dining, hotels, and…

A guide to Disney World and Disneyland guides (And other useful planning resources!)

If you ask a question like, “what’s the best hotel on Disney property?”, you’ll most likely get about 15 answers.  There are so many conflicting opinions on dining, hotels, and attractions that it can become overwhelming. In the event that you feel so overwhelmed by booking a Disney vacation, I advise using a Travel Agent (like me) to help you customize your plans.

Now, in the second event that you’re in need of advice, but are more of a vacation DIYer, you’ll look to guides for help. Whether they are physical guidebooks, blogs, or websites, you’ll need to do some research before your vacation! So, here’s a list of awesome Disney park resources that helped me plan in the past and will hopefully help you too! You can click on my links below to find the books on Amazon.

P.S. I’ve only listed links for Disney World books, but most of these publishers write books for Disneyland and Disney Cruise Line as well. Kindle versions are also available for most.

The Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World

This guidebook is referred to as the “Disney Bible” and is written by the same people who own and operate the reputable touringplans.com. Every year they come out with an updated version of their unofficial guides and every year they get better and more detailed. I started buying these books in 2012 and have purchased it every new version since. The size of the book can be intimidating, but I treat it as an encyclopedia rather than something I need to study cover-to-cover. The book covers far too much for me to explain, so I’ll give you the highlights:

  • 5-Star Ratings: Every attraction, show, restaurant, and resort is graded by their 5-star system, and I agree with their ratings most often. Restaurants are divided by Quick-Service and Table Service, then described in detail ranked by quality. Resorts, both on and off property are treated the same and contact information is provided for all of them.
  • Packing tips and “bare necessities” are described in full detail. From credit cards to souvenir shopping, to finding gas stations, it’s all there.
  • Advice for a spectrum of travel groups like Disney for seniors, Disney for toddlers, and how to entertain your teenager.


Bonus: If you’re a true Disnerd, also read Unofficial Guide’s: The Disneyland Story. The story of Walt’s first conception of the park and how it evolved to the current form. I prefer listening to it on audible, but I also have the physical book for novelty reasons. 

The Easy Guide to Your Walt Disney World Visit in 2018

In second place is The Easy Guide to WDW. This is another comprehensive guide that is useful for first-timers and veterans alike. Dave and Josh have experienced Disney inside and out, so they have the ability to provide honest opinions about resorts, dining, and everything else. The coolest thing about this book is that if you buy the 2018 edition they will provide an updated copy once their 2019 edition is released in summer. All you have to do is shoot them an email to the address printed on the inside cover. Cool stuff!

Birnbaum’s 2018 Walt Disney World: The Official Guide

This is the only guidebook with Disney’s official stamp of approval. It’s also the most compact guide of the three I’ve mentioned.  This may sound juvenile, but I love it because of the high-quality, colored pictures. It’s a fun guide to look through if you have kids, or if you’re a kid at heart. And a great book to get you excited about your vacation! They also have a Birnbaum’s 2018 Walt Disney World For Kids if you’re looking for trip tips geared towards families.

Frommer’s EasyGuide to Disney World 

Frommer’s is a trusted destination publisher that covers more than just Disney books. Their overviews are not quite as detailed as the Unofficial Guide and not quite as colorful as Birnbaum’s, but still very as useful. At this point, I would say buy it if you are partial to the Frommer’s brand.

102 Ways to Save Money For and At Walt Disney World

Lou Mongello is among the elite Disney experts out there. He offers Disney guidebooks, podcasts, and videos dealing with tips and history to enhance your vacation. Always well-researched and entertaining, his tips for budgeting for your vacation will help you immensely. It’s mostly targeted at first-time visitors, but I found a few tips to be helpful as well. The Walt Disney World Trivia Book and 102 Things To Do at Walt Disney World At Least Once are also a joy to read.

Walt Disney World Dining Guide 2018

Making a dining reservation at Disney World has become one of the most difficult things to do when planning your vacation. Offsite guests are allowed to make a reservation 180 days before your vacation and onsite guests are allowed to make them 190 days beforehand. This has made booking reservations at popular restaurants an absolute monstrous task. Also, the restaurants on property are constantly being updated, replaced, or closed down completely. This can be both exciting and aggravating. The Dining Guide can be a really helpful resource when deciding where you’d like to eat and how to get those reservations. It’s also updated every year to keep with Disney’s ever-changing atmosphere.

Disney Food Blog Guides (eBook)

Are you a Disney foodie? Pretty much any restaurant and food item on property is reviewed on Disney Food Blog. The eBook is beautifully done with photographs, four planning worksheets, updates on closures and refurbs and fun tips like the “trendiest bar” or “best hot dogs.” The other advantage of an eBook is that they have the ability to embed hyperlinks into the text. Not sure what a Mickey’s Premium Bar is? Click on the links inside the ebook and it will send open to a description. Pretty nifty. And if you’re already an expert, it’s fun to peruse for the sake of Disney daydreaming. Disney Food Blog | Guide to Disney Guides | Green Monorail

Disney Dining Plan 2018: Tips & Tricks for Making the Most of the Dining Plans at Walt Disney World
If you just want an overview of the nefarious Dining Plan, Leah Crocker Althiser’s book covers the plans concisely and is free on Kindle Unlimited. There are a lot of blogs written about this subject, but I’ve found Althiser’s eBook to be well-organized. She clearly lays out the basics the Disney Dining Plan to help you determine the pros and cons of the dining plan.

 

Passporter’s Guide Walt Disney World 

Maybe the Unofficial Guide is a bit overwhelming in size for you. Passporter’s has more general tips and guidance for the planning process, so if you’re looking for a categorical overview, it would be a good choice. Also, the structure of their planning binder actually makes planning fun. With pockets placed inside, you can keep all of your printables and resources in one place. It also has pages dedicated to a Trip Diary. Make it a goal to complete a diary entry every day so you can remember the good times…and the things to avoid on your next trip.

DisneyWorld.com

I know this feels like a no-brainer, but the official website is indispensable. Especially when you’re trying to budget your vacation or find official Disney answers. Besides the My Disney Experience feature, here are my favorite tools from the official website:

      • Printable Guide Maps: You don’t have to be at the resort to get a handy park map. I find these helpful when making itineraries for myself. Marking and highlighting your favorite Disney attractions is almost meditative. You can find the PDFs by clicking on Parks & Tickets>Magic Kingdom (or any park)>Magic Kingdom Guide Map. Here’s a Magic Kingdom map link.
      • Free Disney Planning DVD: The planning movies are detailed overviews of the parks and resorts. They’re also fairly well-produced and the perfect little Disney-pick-me-up when you’re missing the parks. I download a new one every year! Here’s my link to the guide below. You can have a hard copy sent to your home or a downloadable version sent straight to your email. Here’s my link to the free planning video. 
      • Compare Package Prices: Did you know that you can do a side-by-side comparison of packages? Just choose a resort and ticket option then press “continue.” At the bottom of the page, you’ll see an option to “Compare Vacation Offers.” This allows you to price out your vacation and save your offers for later. You can see my example below.

Compare Vacations | Green Monorail Destinations

Disney Tourist Blog (Website and eBooks):  Money Saving Tips for Walt Disney World and Disney Tourist Blog Christmas 

So, the number one rule among bloggers is to try not to drive traffic to other people’s blogs. For me, however, if there is a blog that offers something I cannot, like Disney Tourist Blog’s beautiful photography and eBooks, then I’ll happily send my readers to them. Disney Tourist Blog is the first the Disney blog that I followed and they are constantly inspiring me to create a more beneficial blog for my readers. If you can’t find everything you’re looking for in a guidebook and prefer to book your own vacations (rather than through a Disney Travel Agent like me), then you’ll find this website very helpful.

Dis Boards

Another useful website are The Dis Boards. Think of this as a giant chat forum for you and the thousands of other Disney fans in the world. You can post questions and get honest feedback from fellow Disney vacationers. Since every user is anonymous, you can feel more comfortable about their honesty. And no question is too big or small! Want to know where you can get your karaoke fix on Disney property? Ask away! (It’s Kimonos at the Swan Resort, by the way)

Now that you’ve researched your resort, made your dining reservations, and learned how to budget, it’s time for the fun stuff. Here are some books that keep you will keep you entertained during the more grueling parts of your vacation. Mainly, waiting in line.

The Hidden Mickey’s of Walt Disney World

Hidden Mickey’s is the ultimate guide to…you guessed it…Hidden Mickey’s. If you’re not familiar with a Hidden Mickey, it’s the image of Mickey’s head hidden subtly by Imagineers around Disney property (and movies).  A sort of inside joke from Imagineers throughout the years. The book makes a game out of seeking out the Mickey’s hidden around the parks. There is also an app version available.

Lots To Do in Line

Like a Disney scavenger hunt, this activity book gives hints regarding subtle details and trivia hidden throughout the parks and line cues. With limited cell phone reception in some cues, it can create some momentary distractions and beat some boredom while you wait. Some find this book very entertaining, others say they can pass on it. If your family enjoys trivia, then I would suggest it. 

Secret Stories of Walt Disney World and Hidden Magic of Disney World

These two are the most popular “hidden secret” books, so I had to throw give them a mention. Sometimes, it’s fun to add a little insider magic while you wander the parks. However, Hidden Magic is outdated in some parts and holds most of the commonly known trivia. If you’re a first-timer, it’s a fun read, but some attractions have been removed since it’s publishing in 2009 (RIP Great Movie Ride). It’s also free on Kindle Unlimited as well. 

These are the books and resources that shaped me into the Disney expert I am today. Since I’ve discovered them, I can plan a mean Disney itinerary like nobody’s business. And of course, as I’ve mentioned before, if all this information is completely overwhelming to you, never fear. I can help! Feel free to reach out to me here. You can also sign up to receive your free planning itinerary at the bottom of the page.

In the meantime, I’ll digress from guidebooks for a bit and say that if you’re a true Disney buff, I suggest looking into these historic texts as well. Happy planning, everyone!

Walt Disney: The Triumph of the American Imagination

Ink & Paint: The Women of Walt Disney’s Animation

Walt Disney Imagineering: A Behind the Dreams Look at Making More Magic Real,

The Disneyland Story: The Unofficial Guide to the Evolution of Walt Disney’s Dream

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What’s Coming to Disneyland in 2018

There’s a lot of exciting things happening in both California Adventure and Disneyland Park in 2018. Most renovations are happening in California Adventure as they slowly transform the park from…

Everything New Coming to Disneyland and California Adventure in 2018 | Green Monorail Destinations

There’s a lot of exciting things happening in both California Adventure and Disneyland Park in 2018. Most renovations are happening in California Adventure as they slowly transform the park from an ode to California to basically a hard copy of Hollywood Studios. Due to low attendance when it first opened, this park has undergone so many transformations that it hardly resembles the park they originally intended. That being said, I was skeptical when I heard they were transforming Tower of Terror to fit their new Guardians of the Galaxy franchise, but, after experiencing the new technology and updated drops, I’m quite fond of it. I still think it’s Tower of Terror with a paint job, but it’s a pretty cool paint job! I’m personally excited for what the new 2018 adaptations will bring.

Guardians of the Galaxy | Green Monorail Destinations

Guardians of the Galaxy | Green Monorail Destinations

California Adventure

Pixar Pier Makeover: To generate some interest throughout the sometimes desolate Paradise Pier, this area will be transformed into Pixar Pier. The area will now feature four different neighborhoods including The Incredibles, Toy Story, Inside Out, and the rest of the Pixar family-which will be represented on Mickey’s Fun Wheel. Where the Maliboomer once was, there will be a new Inside Out spinner attraction. You can see the rendering in the concept art below. The transformation will be complete and open on June 23rd, 2018.

Pixar Pier Concept Art | Disney•Pixar/Disneyland Resort

Pixar Pier Concept Art | Disney•Pixar/Disneyland Resort

Pixar Pier Concept Art | Disney•Pixar/Disneyland Resort

Pixar Pier Concept Art | Disney•Pixar/Disneyland Resort

Incredicoaster: Anticipating Incredibles 2, California Screamin’ will get a facelift. The coaster will have a new Incredibles theme, characters, special effects, and mid-century modern queue. It will also feature an actual storyline as well. Guests will zoom alongside this incredible family to help catch the ever-adventurous Jack-Jack. The coaster will also be open on June 23rd, 2018.

Incredicoaster | Disney•Pixar

Incredicoaster | Disney•Pixar

 

Paint the Night Parade: This one I’m most excited about! Disney’s coolest nighttime parade is returning to the parks on April 13th! This time, more appropriately, in California Adventure. If you’re not familiar, this parade features mostly Pixar characters and has some of the most advanced floats and costumes featured in a parade. This is a highly anticipated comeback that we hope will stick around.

Paint the Night Parade | Paul Hiffmeyer

Paint the Night Parade | Paul Hiffmeyer

Lunar New Year: A brand new event celebrating the Lunar New Year. Celebrating the Year of the Dog, the park will provide culturally inspired shows, music, decorations, and yes, lots of food! (I’m loving Disney’s obsession with food festivals these days.) The World of Color water and light technology will also be showing a new installment called “Journey of Little Lantern.” This will follow Little Lantern’s journey to reunite with their family, set to the score created for the opening ceremony of Shanghai Disney Resort. This is running January 18th-February 18th. With this and the beginning of the new Festival of Holidays, I really appreciate California Adventure’s inclusive atmosphere lately.

Mulan's Lunar New Year Procession | Paul Hiffmeyer/Disneyland

Mulan’s Lunar New Year Procession | Paul Hiffmeyer/Disneyland

Disneyland

To celebrate the pier’s transformation both parks will be celebrating with Pixar Fest. Starting April 13 and continuing through summer, guests will experience new experiences and shows in honor of the Pixar movies.

Pixar Play Parade: Bringing back the Pixar themed day parade, but this time in Disneyland Park. In addition to the original floats, new characters and floats will join the parade. Dug, Carl, and Russell will travel along with their floating balloon house. Joy, Sadness, and Bing Bong will also join, placed on a float made of memory orbs, which I’m sure will be very dazzling!

Pixar Play Parade Float Concept | Disney•Pixar/Disneyland Resort

Pixar Play Parade Float Concept | Disney•Pixar/Disneyland Resort

Pixar Play Parade Float Concept Art | Disney•Pixar/Disneyland Resort

Pixar Play Parade Float Concept Art | Disney•Pixar/Disneyland Resort

Together Forever-A Pixar Nighttime Spectacular: This new firework show will tell a story of unlikely Pixar friendships using projections, pyrotechnics, and music. Even Tinker Bell will hand over the reigns to Buzz Lightyear, where he will do a special flyover to Sleep Beauty’s Castle. The show isn’t just exclusive to the castle either. Projections will be featured on other attractions like It’s a Small World, Main Street, and the water screens of Rivers of America. That will make the show much more immersive for guests as the excitement will happen all around them!

Together Forever Fireworks

Together Forever Fireworks Concept Art | Disney•Pixar

Disneyland After Dark: This is a new, special-ticketed event series that I’m truly excited about. The first event, “Throwback Nite,” is inspired by the 50’s and 60’s retro era. I’m assuming this is also inspired by everyone’s obsession with Dapper Day. First off, there will be a special viewing of the Fantasy in the Sky fireworks which was first displayed in 1958. For music and dancing, tribute bands will play hits from the 60’s on the Disneyland Railroad platform, swing bands will perform in front of It’s a Small World, and a radio DJ will take song requests at Sleeping Beauty Castle. Retro-themed attire is encouraged and there will be oversized retro attraction posters for adorable photo opportunities! Throwback Nite happened for one night only from 8:00PM-1:ooAM on January 18th. But, there will be more events in this new series throughout the year.

Disneyland After Dark | Disney Parks Blog

Disneyland After Dark | Disney Parks Blog

Downtown Disney

Downtown Disney will also get a nice update in the upcoming years, including a brand new hotel in 2021. Making way for the hotel, Rainforest Cafe, ESPN Zone, the movie theatre, and Earl of Sandwich will all be removed.  Although I really appreciate another onsite hotel, why must you take Earl of Sandwich away from us, Disney? Why?? As for this year, Downtown Disney is getting quite a few updates as well.

Star Wars Hyper-Reality Experience: Produced by The VOID, this “hyper-reality” experience allows guests to journey through a choice of 4 themed lands. Here, your team will be sent undercover to achieve a mission for the rebellion where you’ll interact with sets and experience sensory and immersive technology. This opened on January 5th. Watch The VOID’s video below and you can find tickets for the experience here.

Disney Home (Now Open!): D-Street, the place for all your Marvel and Star Wars merchandise has been replaced by a Disney homegood store. But never fear action hero fans, you will find plenty of D-Street products throughout the parks. Especially once the Star Wars land, Galaxy’s Edgeopens in 2019.

Black Tap Craft Burgers & Beer: Downtown Disney is in desperate need of a new casual dining experience and I’m glad to see that they’re adding this franchise to the mix. This classic diner-esque burger joint will serve a large assortment of burgers like the All-American classic and even a Vegan burger! Their signature “CrazyShakes” look like they will be the worth the visit too. Move over, Earl of Sandwich! (Not really. I’ll always love you, Earl of Sandwich) Construction is already happening and will hopefully be up and running soon!

 

CrazyShakes at Black Tap Craft Burgers & Beer | Disney Parks Blog

CrazyShakes at Black Tap Craft Burgers & Beer | Disney Parks Blog

Splitsville Luxury Lanes: House of Blues has moved out of Downtown Disney and down the street. This space will now be occupied by the bowling alley, Splitsville, this year. This bowling alley chain currently resides in Disney Springs in Florida and offers a full bar, music, and late-night eats until 12:30 every night. And the retro concept art looks fantastic! I imagine this will be the new happening spot for a night out.

 

Splitsville Luxury Lanes | Copyright The Walt Disney Company

Splitsville Luxury Lanes | Copyright The Walt Disney Company

 

Crowd-Favorites Returning this Year

Of course, some of our favorites are returning this year as well. Here are a few popular events that will return to 2018!

Food & Wine Festival: More food festivals! More, I say! Back by popular demand, the festival featuring “California inspired” food and drink will return March 2-April 12. And of course, that means more entertainment, music, and even appearances from celebrity chefs like Robert Irvine.

Festival of Holidays: To make up for Disneyland’s Christmas festivities, California Adventure will once again uphold the holiday standards with it’s Festival of Holidays. With food and music celebrating holidays from all over the world, this year’s festival was widely popular. Take a look at some of the food and that’s still being served at the holiday kiosks until January 7th. My favorite was the warm bourbon cider with bourbon infused marshmallow. So good!

Warm Bourbon Cider with Bourbon Infused Marshmallow | Green Monorail Destinations

Hot Fried Turkey with White Bread | Festival of Holidays | Green Monorail Destinations

Hot Fried Turkey with White Bread | Green Monorail Destinations

Beef Corn Tamale | Green Monorail Destinations

Beef Corn Tamale | Green Monorail Destinations

Mickey’s Halloween Party: This special-ticket event is a little less epic than the Halloween Party in Disney World but definitely less crowded! Check out the Halloween parade, go trick-or-treating, and dress up as your favorite characters! And don’t forget to stop by California Adventure to see Cars Land dressed up for Halloween too.

Christmas at Disneyland: A Christmas Fantasy Parade, It’s a Small World Holiday, and the Haunted Mansion with the Nightmare Before Christmas makeover. What more you could want? Disneyland is extra special during the holidays. If you want to enjoy the special fireworks and experience the Christmas magic, I advise visiting either the first or second week of December. The closer you get to Christmas the crazier crowds get!

Saying Goodbye…

With that being said, we’ll be saying goodbye to some of our favorites too. Cove Bar and Ariel’s Grotto is already closed for renovations this year and we’re sad to see our favorite view of the Fun Wheel go. Rumour is, they will reopen briefly in April only to close again to be remodeled for Pixar Pier. So grab another drink and give a toast to whatever 2018 may bring!

Cove Bar | Green Monorail Destinations

Cove Bar | Green Monorail Destinations

Want to be involved in all the fun, but don’t know where to start? Request a Disney vacation quote from me here. All my booking and planning services are absolutely free! Want to learn more about booking with an Agent? Read more about it here.

14 Comments on What’s Coming to Disneyland in 2018

New York’s Sak’s 5th Snow White Window Displays!

New York City is particularly magical during the holidays. There’s the Rockette’s, Tiffany’s, The Plaza, Dyker Heights, Central Park, and the list goes on. If you’re lucky enough to be…

The highlight of a holiday trip to the big apple! New Snow WhiteSak's Fifth Avenue Window Displays in New York City!

New York City is particularly magical during the holidays. There’s the Rockette’s, Tiffany’s, The Plaza, Dyker Heights, Central Park, and the list goes on. If you’re lucky enough to be there when it snows (very rare) it’s like you’ve stepped into your very own Hallmark movie. Every year Sak’s Fifth Avenue decorates their window displays with holiday themes. This year, in honor of Snow White’s 80th birthday the displays are based on her story. The animatronics have the extra Disney touch and the holiday remixed versions of the soundtrack make you feel like you’re at Disneyland. Unfortunately, the crowds were like Disney World on New Years Eve, but if you happen to be visiting this holiday season, I highly recommend stopping by Sak’s. Across the street is the famous Rockefeller Christmas tree and ice skating rink. We watched 2 couples get engaged in front of the tree when we passed through. It was pure magic. I was able to get some pretty good shots of the window displays for all you to enjoy!

Sak’s is also offering a special holiday breakfast inside the flagship store in New York. Much like the character breakfasts in the park, you can dine with Snow White, the Prince, and Dopey. The breakfast is available until December 31st and you can make reservations here. Depending on your party size, tickets range from $100-$800. If you can’t make it to New York, they’re offering special clothing and accessories inspired by Snow Withe at every Sak’s store.

In true Disney fashion, the window displays were treated as a storyboard, much like the dark rides in the Disney parks. Each display featured a highlight of the Snow White story and used movement, lighting, and music to enhance the displays.

 

Snow White Window Display Saks Fifth Avenue

With a smile and a song!

 

Snow White Window Display Saks Fifth Avenue Disney Christmas

Snow White: I said, how do you do? Grumpy: How do ya do, what? Snow White: Oh, you can talk. I’m so glad.

 

Snow White Window Display Saks Fifth Avenue Disney

Snow White: I’m awfully sorry. I didn’t mean to frighten you. But you don’t know what I’ve been through. And all because I was afraid. I’m so ashamed of the fuss I made.

 

Snow White Window Display Saks Fifth Avenue Disney Christmas

Mirror, Mirror

 

Snow White Window Display Saks Fifth Avenue Disney Christmas

Now, a formula to transform my beauty into ugliness.

 

Snow White Window Display Saks Fifth Avenue Disney Christmas

Whistle While You Work!

 

Snow White Window Display Saks Fifth Avenue Disney

I’d like to dance and tap my feet, but they won’t keep in rhythm. You see, I washed ’em both today. And I can’t do nothin’ with ’em.

 

Snow White Window Display Saks Fifth Avenue Disney

Heigh-Ho, Heigh Ho!

 

Snow White Window Display Saks Fifth Avenue Disney

Apple, dearie?

 

Snow White Window Display Saks Fifth Avenue Disney

Maybe the old Queen’s got Snow White!

 

Snow White Window Display Saks Fifth Avenue Disney

 

Snow White Window Display Saks Fifth Avenue Disney

The victim of the Sleeping Death can be revived only by love’s first kiss.

 

Snow White Window Display Saks Fifth Avenue Disney

And wedding bells will ring some day when my dreams come true.

 

Snow White Window Display Saks Fifth Avenue Disney

 

Wrapping around the building, you’ll also find dresses inspired by Snow with a modern touch. Designers include Alberta Ferretti, Naeem Khan, Monique Lhuillier and Marchesa. The crowds were too intense for us to get more shots of these dresses, but they are still worth perusing if you have the time.

Snow White Window Display Saks Fifth Avenue Disney Snow White Window Display Saks Fifth Avenue Disney

Bonus Happy Accident Shot: My camera decided to focus on the reflection of the Rockefeller Christmas Tree behind me, rather than the window display. Pretty cool effect for a super amateur photographer like myself.

Snow White Window Display Saks Fifth Avenue Disney

The unveiling of the window displays happened over Thanksgiving weekend and was also completely magical. Complete with dancers, a performance by Sofia Caron, a jig by the Seven Dwarves, and a dedication by the Prince and Snow White herself. You can watch a snippet of the show filmed by Inside the Magic below.

While these displays are beautiful, there are plenty of other Disney themed attractions to visit in New York as well! Here are a few highlights from me. Happy Holidays, everyone!

  • Aladdin (Broadway)
  • The Lion King (Broadway)
  • Anastasia (Broadway) The show isn’t technically Disney, but the movie used some of Disney’s animators, so it’s close enough!
  • The enormous multi-floor Disney Store in Times Square
  • Alice in Wonderland Statue in Central Park
  • Adventures by Disney tour of New York

Interested in booking a trip to the big apple and don’t know where to start? I lived there for a bit and visit often, so I can help you with all the ins and outs! Contact me here for questions and a free vacation quote.

 

 

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11 Ways to Spend Less Time Waiting and More Time Having Fun!

About ten years ago, simply visiting the parks during non-peak season (September through the first two weeks of December) would be enough to avoid crowds and long lines. Every year…

About ten years ago, simply visiting the parks during non-peak season (September through the first two weeks of December) would be enough to avoid crowds and long lines. Every year Disney adds another festival at Epcot or another room promotion during the off-season to keep rooms full and the money flowing in. And every year the ticketed events like the Christmas and Halloween parties get more popular. On top of all that, in the next two years, both Disneyland and Disney World will open Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, which will pull in a whole different crowd of park guests. I’m not trying to scare you! The parks are still very accessible during certain times of the year, and there are a few tips I can give to make the most out of your Disney experience.

The big tip here is to try and plan ahead of time. This will help you feel organized. On the other hand, don’t get stressed if everything doesn’t go precisely to plan. Take the day as it comes. There might be a time when you can’t make it to your next FastPass due to Disney transportation or ride breakdowns, but don’t stress about it. Remember to breathe through these mishaps and remind yourself that you’re on an awesome Disney vacation with your loved ones.

 

 

  1. FastPass+ (Disney World): If you’re staying onsite at one of the Disney hotels, you can schedule your FastPasses 60 days in advance. If you’re staying offsite, you can book 30 days in advance. I highly recommend using this to your advantage. Especially if you want to try the new Pandora rides at Animal Kingdom. Plan which rides you’d like to schedule for each of your days and get up early on your 60-day mark. If you’re out of luck, and the reservations are all snatched up, try again later. A lot of people luck out the week before their vacations due to people changing their reservations.
  2. MaxPass (Disneyland): Park goers are annoyed that you have to pay $10 per person per day for a pre-reserved FastPass at Disneyland when it’s a free service at Disney World. Paper FastPasses are still available at the kiosks if you don’t want to pay for this feature. I will say that at Disneyland, you probably only need to use a MaxPass for a day or two. At Disneyland, it’s a little easier to get to all of your desired attractions. I did find the MaxPass very useful, so if you have the budget, I’d say go for it. Instead of running around from ride to ride getting return passes, you can book your attractions from your phone, much like Disney World. It also allows for unlimited Photopass photos, which is a huge bonus. The website will try to make you buy the pass for all of your days. You have the option to add it one day at a time once you enter the parks.
  3. Extra Magic Hours and Rope Drops: Another perk of staying onsite is the fact that you have access to the Extra Magic Hours or Magic Mornings. This is when you can enter a park one hour or early or stay an hour late. If the park is not offering an early morning, getting there right when the park opens also helps. Bolt for the rides that usually have the longest lines like Flight of Passage at Animal Kingdom and Seven Dwarfs Mine at Magic Kingdom.
  4. Dining Reservations: Try your best to make reservations for table service restaurants at Disney World. It can be challenging making same-day reservations at popular restaurants. For onsite guests, reservations become available 190 days before your first vacation day. For offsite, 180 days in advance. If you can’t get your desired restaurants at the 180-day mark when reservations are open, try at 60 days when people start to schedule their FastPasses. As always, check 1-2 weeks before your vacation begins. Since there is a cancellation fee of $10 per person, guests have more of an incentive to remove their dining reservations if they don’t plan on attending. It’s a much different scene at Disneyland, I was able to make a same-day reservation at Napa Rose, the nicest restaurant the park has to offer. That said, I still suggest making an Advance Dining Reservation if there is a restaurant you don’t want to miss. ADR’s are available 60 days in advance for onsite guests only.
  5.  Mobile Meal Orders (Disney World): The My Disney Experience app contains all of your dining, FastPass, and resort reservations, and now allows you to pre-order from many locations around Disney World. Pre-ordering your meal will lessen your wait time considerably. Order during the lunch rush and grab a table. Right now, this feature is not available at Disneyland, but like most things, it may make its way over to the west coast soon. See all of the restaurants offering mobile ordering here.
  6. Character Breakfasts: Meet n’ Greet lines for characters can be up to an hour long, especially in Disney World. If you’re interested in meeting some characters, booking a character dining experience is the best way to go. For some restaurants, it can also create a more intimate experience. As a former friend of some of the characters, I’ve experienced some extremely slow mornings at Hollywood & Vine at Hollywood Studios where the characters spent a lot of time with each family. Crystal Palace, however, is fast-paced and you’ll likely only a get quick shot and autograph. The characters only have about an hour to see each table, so please be patient with them. They’re doing their best!
  7. Rides After the Last Firework Show: Once the first shows are over, a good chunk of the crowd will leave the parks. Families tend to rush out of the park after the last firework show, creating massive lines at the bus stations and trams. If you’re a night owl, plan on getting their late in the day so you have the energy to stay late, ride more rides, and have an easier time getting home.
  8. Rides Right at Close: If you’re in line before the park closes, they will not kick you out of line. Meaning, if a ride like Seven Dwarfs Mine Train has a 20-minute wait and the park closes at midnight, you can get in the queue at that time and stay in line past close.
  9. Avoid the Summer: During the summer, the lines are much longer and the heat is oppressive. My favorite time to go is September through the beginning of October and the first two weeks of November. Most kids are in school and the weather is still nice.
  10. Use a Minnie Van or Ride Share (Disney World): The new Minnie Van taxi service powered by Lyft picks you up at your resort and takes you anywhere on property for $20. Seeing as parking costs $20, I’d say this is an ok deal. It drops you off at the front of the Magic Kingdom, so you don’t have to wait for the monorail or ferry. It also provides two car seats for families. If you’re not staying on property, you can order a regular Lyft. Here’s a link to the app if you don’t have already it.
  11. MaxPass Bus System (Disney World): The Disney bus systems have been a regular complaint at Disney World. Th busses tend to be unreliable and crowded. The new MaxPass offer is like a FastPass, but for the bus! It costs an extra $30 per week, but many have said it is well worth the money as it allows you to spend more time in the parks and less time waiting for the bus. It also takes you through the back roads of Magic Kingdom, so you’re going through security quicker and avoiding main entrance traffic.

 

Using some of these tips will help greatly in reducing stress and waiting. And of course, if planning ahead isn’t your thing, please feel free to contact me. I can help book dining and attractions reservations, which will help you get to the places that you want to see the most.

 

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