Disney Trip Planning: 180 Days Out (Well, more like 177)

Howdy friends and neighbours!  It’s been a long time – I keep meaning to come back and get into the blog habit again, but things keep getting in the way. 😛 So here I go to try again!

That's the spirit, Ralph!

That’s the spirit, Ralph!

I figure maybe I can make weekly updates on my planning for my family’s upcoming Disney World trip.  This is our first trip as a full family since 2011; my daughter was just about to turn 5, and now she’s 9. (If you’ve followed at home long enough you know that my daughter and I took a trip together in 2013, which was awesome! but now it’s time for my son and husband to get to come too ^_^)

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Speculation on Free Disney Dining

I had a search hit on this blog with the phrase “Do you think Disney will extend free dining through October?” and that’s a really good question, and so I’m going to make a quick post about it.

 

First of all: THIS IS ALL SPECULATION. NONE of this is official and it’s not even Official Rumour.  It’s me looking at facts, thinking about a few things I’ve heard, and pondering a bit.  This is all MY idea and not something I heard through the grapevine, I have NO sources, none of that.  So don’t take this anything but a bit of thinking on my part, okay?

I'm gonna let Mickey explain this one to you, guys.

I’m gonna let Mickey explain this one to you, guys.  Disclaimer: Mickey Mouse was not involved in the writing of this blog post.

 

With that out of the way, here is what I’ve heard.

 

The biggest thing I’ve heard lately is that Disney Parks’s revenue is up 73% for the last quarter.  That’s pretty huge.  With all the new attractions at both Disneyland and WDW, plus the two new cruise ships, they’re obviously making really good money.

 

Now, in terms of discounts: in the past Disney has used free dining to drive attendance throughout the year.  In fact most of my recent big trips had free dining, and they were in October (several years ago) and February (2011).  I can’t remember the last time there has been a mid-to-late Fall period without free dining.  But this year, nothing in the winter; it’s announced (a bit late) for one month only, in September, with no indication as to whether it will be extended… what’s up?

That thinky-hard face I know we all wear sometimes.

That thinky-hard face I know we all wear sometimes.

 

So putting these things together, here’s my thinking.  Disney is doing EXTREMELY well right now.  Stocks are up, attendance is up, all the money they’ve poured into Cars Land and New Fantasyland is paying off and they’re huge.  But the Free Dining Plan is the single most popular promo that they run.  There are people who quite literally count on that package and wait for it each year – rely on it for their vacations.  How much money do you think Disney actually makes off of it? (This is entirely me speculating, and I don’t know the answer.)  They usually run it during their off-seasons to drive attendance when they might otherwise be much slower than usual, which is why it traditionally isn’t offered in the summer, or spring break, or etc.  Now looking at this past winter, when they didn’t have a free dining plan, the question is: WAS there an off-season?  Price-wise yes, but attendance-wise?

 

My thinking is that September-only free DDP is a test, to see just how much more attendance jumps from this promo in September compared to a rough comparison to Jan/Feb or so without the DDP.  If they see a significant bump from it, I’m betting it will be extended later in the fall.  If they don’t – if the numbers stay about even – who knows?  Would they get rid of the free dining plan entirely when it’s as popular as it is?  Disney actually does play close to the chest when it comes to their discounts – they don’t announce early so people look for hints wherever they can.  The answer is I have NO idea.

So what I'm saying is, I have no idea. Thanks, Pierre Trudeau.

So what I’m saying is, I have no idea. Thanks, Pierre Trudeau.

 

If the plan will be extended, we’ll probably hear around June or so, which is about when the discounts for October are usually announced anyway.  So let’s keep our fingers crossed!  And meanwhile, remember that you can book a trip and cancel for a full refund any time up to 45 days before your arrival date, so there’s no harm in getting a reservation in early just in case!

Free Disney Dining Plan, September Only!

The big news right now is that Disney Visa cardholders can book a Magic Your Way package for September and get the Dining plan for free. This is of course not a new promo, but it is the most popular one that Walt Disney World offers, and with good reason: it’s awesome.

I mean, the one thing that is a given at Disney is that you’re going to have to eat. And, yes, you COULD bring your own food but there’s a pretty good chance that you’re going to want to at least try one or two of their restaurants, and if you don’t, you’re going to sit there and wish you were. And that food you’re bringing yourself, it’s not free either.

So the Free Dining offer is a great way to pare down your budget and sample some of the best dining at Disney. Honestly, I do feel like there are times when the Dining Plan is not the most financially sound choice to save you money (and I’m going to write a post about that), but when it’s free, it’s THE BOMB. You have nothing to lose!

Anyway, this offer in September is the first time the free dining plan has been offered for 2013, and thus far it’s only for vacations which are starting between September 2 and September 25. Will it be extended? I don’t know. No word on that, literally none, so far. I think they’re looking to see just how much it boosts attendance this year. Traditionally it’s offered through the Fall, so if it has a major impact I’m crossing my fingers that we’ll see it offered at least through October as well!

Because if not this is totally me. Image (c) VisualPhotos.com

Because if not this is totally me. Image (c) VisualPhotos.com

But yes… as you’ve probably noticed, this offer is currently for Disney Visa cardholders only. If you don’t have a Disney Visa, you have two options: A) wait for it to open to the general public (which it will), or B) get a Disney Visa. Let’s talk about Option B for a second.

I have this card design. Plus a couple others.

I have this card design. Plus a couple others.

I love my Disney Visa card. I use it all the time. Yes, I am a Disney fanatic, but honestly it’s a great card. 🙂 It’s a Chase card, and they’re well-run. The Disney benefits are terrific. It’s easy to manage and there is no annual fee. You get $1 in Disney Rewards for every $100 you put on the card. If you use it for groceries etc and pay it off right away there’s no interest accumulation. And the Disney Rewards can be redeemed on pretty much ANY kind of Disney purchase, from a movie, a CD, a Disney store purchase, or park reservations or purchases. You can get a Disney Visa Card at this link. Thank me later. (No, full disclosure, I do not get ANY kickback at all if you get one or not. It’s just a benefit, I love mine, and I recommend it!)

Now there is fine print, stuff you need to know before booking this offer.

1) It’s only valid on non-discounted reservations. So if you’re using a AAA discount, or a Florida Resident package, or the like, you can’t get free dining without switching your deal; there’s no discount stacking. That’s OK. Trust me. Under most circumstances, Free Dining wins, unless you really only plan on eating only one meal in the parks each day and bringing all your own snacks and other food.

2) Moderate, Deluxe, and most Deluxe Villas are eligible for the Basic Dining plan (ie, one Table Service meal, one Counter Service meal, and one Snack per night of your stay); most Value resorts are up for the Quick Service dining (2 Counter Service meals, one Snack).

3) Campsites at Fort Wilderness, 3-bedroom Deluxe Villas, and Art of Animation rooms do not participate in this offer. Why? I don’t know for sure but my guess is because the first is already exceedingly inexpensive and they stand to lose money with this offer, and the second and third are getting the bulk of the business of those particular resort types this year, so they’re looking to spread the clientele a bit farther.

4) The fine print on the offer:

Advance reservations required. With the Disney Dining Plan, children ages 3-9 must choose from children’s menu if available. Excludes gratuities and alcoholic beverages. Some table service restaurants may have limited or no availability at time of package purchase. Deposit must be made at the time of booking with your Disney’s Visa Card or Disney Rewards Redemption Card. Subject to availability.

This means: You pay tips; you pay for alcohol; you have to prove that you have an active Disney Visa so you may have to make a $200 deposit when you book this deal, even if it’s on an existing reservation you’ve already made a deposit on. I’m not sure of that last one, but I’ve heard it. I do know that the vacation has to be booked on the Disney Visa card, though, so if you’re making a new reservation, you’ve got to use that. Alternatively you can use a Disney Rewards card with the Rewards Dollars you’ve saved up by USING your Disney Visa Card! 😀

5) I love my Disney Visa card. I so, so do.

6) Although I can’t find any details on dates that aren’t available for this offer, I did notice that the offer says “This special offer is valid for arrivals most nights between September 2 and September 25”. This means two things: first, there might be blackout dates. Second, note that it says arrivals, so that means that as long as you start your trip by September 25, you can keep the Dining Plan going for up to two weeks (14 days is the limit)!

Do as the picture says. Image (c) TouringPlans.com.

Do as the picture says. Image (c) TouringPlans.com.

7) If you are at a Value and want a Basic DP, instead of the Quick Service, you can upgrade by paying the difference between the two plans for each night. That comes out to about $18 per adult, per night. You can upgrade from any plan to a higher one by paying the difference!

8) And finally, the DDP is good for everyone ages 3 and up, so what about kids under 3? Well, it’s kind of like they don’t exist, basically. *G* They aren’t charged for park entry, and they aren’t charged on the DDP. BUT that doesn’t mean they eat free, it only means they don’t charge you on the DDP. If you go to a buffet and pick up a plate for your baby, have at it, go to town! However if you go someplace ala carte, you have two options: share your meal with your youngster, or pay for something extra for them. Same goes for counter service restaurants. It’s really not hard to keep your little ones fed, but it’s important to know going in how that’s going to work.

Okay, some sample pricing just to give you an idea. Disney gives sample pricing for mid-September on, with the note “lower prices may be available” for the first half of the month. Let’s look and see:

From Monday September 2 until Monday September 9, for two adults, one 10-year-old, and one under-10, we have:

Pop Century: $2288.65 – $81 a day, per person. This includes the Quick Service dining.

Caribbean Beach: $2839.87 – $101 a day, per person.

Animal Kingdom Lodge, standard room: $3698.31 – $132.08 a day, per person.

Contemporary, Atrium Club level: $6300.35 – $225 a day, per person.

Boardwalk Villas, 1-bedroom villa: $5543.31 – $198 a day, per person.

These prices all include 7-day park hopper passes, and of course FOOD. 🙂

As I said, the offer should be opening to the general public in a few days so non-cardholders can get in on it too… however the offer is going to fill up fast, especially because it’s only for a month! But here is a plus of using a travel agent, okay? Okay hear me out. Okay:

If you book NOW, and make a deposit NOW, then in a few days when the offer opens to the public I can call and add the DDP for you, for free. I’ll take care of it and you don’t have to do a THING, and you’ve got your dates all lined up in advance. It’s what I’m here for! It’s what I like to do! Let’s go for it! 😀

Any other questions? Leave a comment and I’ll answer! Want a quote for different days, different resort, or different set of party members? Email me at rebeccak@fairytalejourneys.com!

Limited Time Magic: April Fools?

Well hi folks. 🙂 I missed last week’s update on new Limited Time Magic – last week was just rough for my schedule! – and I’m a tiny bit late with today’s, but I don’t think anyone minds, because I’m reasonably sure no one reads the LTM posts I put up. But I do! (Wait, I read my own posts? Eh, sure why not.)

To catch up, there are several new things to cover both at Disneyland and Disney World, some for the month of April and some more limited than 30 days.

I’ll start with the hats.

The hats kind of make me wonder, Is this an April Fools joke or something? DL and WDW each have their own unique hat for the month of April. What

Now I'm hungry. (Image (c) The Walt Disney Co.)

Now I’m hungry. (Image (c) The Walt Disney Co.)

follows now is purely MY opinion and yours might vary, but here we go. This is NOT just because I’m biased in favour of WDW, honest!

I think WDW’s strawberry ear hats are adorable. I don’t normally buy ear hats but I’m really tempted to try and grab a pair of these somehow. Except you can ONLY buy them at Epcot and I don’t think I can drive that far in an evening to pick up a pair. *G*

Good lord. What. (Image (c) The Walt Disney Co.)

Good lord. What. (Image (c) The Walt Disney Co.)

DL’s Cozy Cone hats on the other hand… Okay. Well. Look, I know when we were kids (including 30-year-and-older kids) we always wanted to pick up traffic cones and put them on our heads. (I’m almost sure that wasn’t just me. Help me out here.) But… would I actually BUY a hat for this purpose? On the other hand, would my children want to? Probably. So I guess I’ve answered my own misgivings. I still think they’re – to put it politely – ugly and clunky as heck. Okay, I’ll admit it, that wasn’t politely. 🙂 These are found only at Sarge’s Surplus Hut in Disney’s California Adventure.

Second – the more limited-time events! Firstly I notice that they’re advertising the WDW summer room discounts as Limited Time Magic. I think that’s a bit of a stretch, to be honest, but I guess you could technically apply the term; the discounts are available for a limited time, and a trip to WDW is magical, so it all works! (Hey – psst – did you know that a travel agent can work these room discounts to your best advantage? Do you know anyone who is a travel agent? YES YOU DO! It’s me! I’ve saved more than one client money they didn’t know they could save with this room discount, and my magic is not limited time only! …Aaaaand, done.)

The REAL Limited Time Magic, for the week of April 8-14:

– At WDW, you can “Go Vintage at the Disney Truck Shop”. I don’t know what this means either, so here is the description on the site:

For one week only, the Disney Truck Shop will be parked along the Downtown Disney Westside route at Walt Disney World Resort, offering you the chance to pick up a limited release vintage-style tee. Available while supplies last, the tee has been inspired by the design and logo of the Disney Parks newest shop on wheels. So cruise over for this Limited Time Magic offer, and pick up some of your favorite souvenirs too—this is one ride you can’t afford to miss!

My take: cheat. You have a week to buy a vintage tee-shirt? That’s it? CHEAT. No wonder they put up the Summer room discounts as LTM too, to try to cover for that lame LTM. There were no ideas this week apparently.

– It’s especially lame when you find out that Disneyland is doing its version of WDW’s more-popular-than-expected Long-Lost Friends Week from 4/8-4/14. They’re keeping the exact possibilities on the down-low, but hopefully the voting from a couple of weeks ago will prove fruitful; here is the write-up:

Some rarely seen Characters are stepping back into the spotlight, but only for a limited time! During Long Lost Friends week, Characters you picked in an online poll will make appearances at Big Thunder Ranch Jamboree in Frontierland, where you’ll have the chance to get up-close and enjoy photo opportunities. You could meet Robin Hood, Ludwig Von Drake… even the Three Little Pigs! Visit Disneyland Park to find out, and be sure to sample some long-lost favorite foods too, including Monte Cristo Strips and Zany Cotton Candy!

WHAT are Monte Cristo Strips? Someone mail me some!

So obviously I saved the best for last. If you are going to a Disney Park this week, apparently you win on events if you go to Disneyland, but you lose on hats. (From my perspective anyway.) I’d still pick the long-lost friends over the strawberry ear hat and the “Truck Shop” tee, though.

Join us next week for another installment of “Limited Time Magic: Will It Be Good This Time?”

Limited Time Magic: Spring Fling!

Spring Fling with the Bunnies, Easter and Mrs. Easter! Image (c) The Walt Disney Co.

Spring Fling with the Bunnies, Easter and Mrs. Easter! Image (c) The Walt Disney Co.

Next week’s Limited Time Magic is still looking ahead to Easter and the start of Spring, with a week’s worth of Spring Fling activities!

This spring, things get hoppin’ at Walt Disney World Resort when Mr. and Mrs. Easter Bunny come to visit. Delight in an array of family-friendly festivities, from egg hunts to season-themed processions to greetings with the floppy-eared couple—and more! Valid theme park admission is required.

Running from Monday, March 25 until Sunday, March 31, both WDW and DL are offering a variety of Spring activities at the Magic Kingdom and Epcot to add some fling to your spring. (see what I did there?)  At WDW, you can meet the Easter Bunny and his wife at the Magic Kingdom, or see them in a springtime procession before the Celebrate a Dream Come True parade each day; at Epcot you can see Mr. and Mrs. Easter Bunny at the UK pavilion (because… they’re English!? uh, okay), hunt for easter eggs and run relay races; and they’ve got special rabbit-themed accessories including Oswald ear hats.

I’m just going to repeat that, okay? OSWALD. The LUCKY RABBIT. EAR HATS.  You can find them at MouseGear in Epcot, while supplies last.

EAR. HAT.  Image (c) the Walt Disney Co.

EAR. HAT. Image (c) the Walt Disney Co.

At Disneyland, Mr. and Mrs. Bunny will be appearing on Main Street as well as in a Bunny Hop dance with Mickey, Minnie, and the Dapper Dans; the Easter Egg Hunt will take place at Disney California Adventure, with the Wilderness Explorer Egg Hunt in Redwood Creek Challenge Trail.  If you find the eggs you win a badge!

The Oswald Ear Hats are available at Oswald’s Service Station in DCA.

So.  Reaction paragraph time!  I like the sound of this and I’d have a good time doing this with my kids.  I wish they’d have more events like this each week instead of waiting for, you know, “occasions” to pull these things out for.  As far as I’m concerned this is the kind of thing that LTM is about, getting to have an experience that you can’t plan too far ahead for, but that is a little extra added fun.

I find it interesting that from the descriptions, Disneyland has a slightly better experience offered.  Getting a badge for the egg hunt? Pretty cool!

Top 5: Attractions for Young Children at Epcot

No point in not continuing this as a series, I suppose, right?  As in my last Top 5 post, about Hollywood Studios, I’m thinking of family-friendly attractions that appeal to kids right around five and under.  Family-friendly meaning, it’s not going to be something that only the kids can do by themselves, such as a play area or the like.  I know my children would adore the Oz play garden at Epcot right now, but I can’t do it with them, so I’m leaving it off this list.  For the record, my daughter loves Test Track passionately and always has, but there is a height requirement so my son couldn’t do it, so things like that are off the list too.

Getting right into it:

We have a big love for the Three Caballeros in my house. Image (c) Disney Co.

We have a big love for the Three Caballeros in my house. Image (c) Disney Co.

#5:  Gran Fiesta Tour with the Three Caballeros.  Although I think the movies in the World Showcase are terrific, and you should definitely explore each pavilion with your kids, the films themselves aren’t really suited for younger children in general. Now – odds are at least someone can say that their kids LOVE them, and I’m sure that’s true!  But I think on average, the movies are less likely to hold the attention of younger kids and are better for, say, 7 and up.  I’m not here to debate that though!  Instead I’ll put my money on the Gran Fiesta Tour for a good young-kids ride.  After the boats in ‘small world’ and Pirates, who wouldn’t love a good boat ride?  And this one is, I think, more kid-friendly than Maelstrom which gets a bit intense.  Though my youngest liked it, my daughter at age 5 did not.  The only down side of Gran Fiesta Tour is that, going into the temple at the start, it does look as if it might be a bit spooky.  Get through that though and it’s downright jolly!

This is not my daughter, but she wishes it was. Image (c) Disney Co.

This is not my daughter, but she wishes it was. Image (c) Disney Co.

#4: The Seas Pavilion, including both Nemo & Friends, and Turtle Talk with Crush.  You may be asking why this isn’t closer to number 1 since it seems quite obvious and is actually targeted directly at kids.  Well, here’s why.  First of all, Nemo & Friends… well, I find it a disappointment.  You sort of can’t go on it if you DON’T have kids – not unless you really, really love Nemo.  It doesn’t transcend its theming, not even at the very end with the aquarium.  It’s neat technology, but I had thought that the idea would be to have the Nemo fish teaching you about sea life, instead of just riding through and sort of recapping the movie.  Meh.  Crush, on the other hand, is BRILLIANT.  I loved sitting through that with and without kids.  But *with* kids, you have to prepare your little ones in advance for the fact that Crush might not talk to them and they shouldn’t take it personally.  And depending on personality, even if you do prepare them, they might still be disappointed.  My daughter cried pretty hard for a while afterwards when it ended without Crush answering her question.

Eggplant tree!  Because... EGGPLANT TREE. (This one's mine too.)

Eggplant tree! Because… EGGPLANT TREE. (This one’s mine.)

#3: Living With the Land: I was a bit skeptical as to whether this would definitely appeal to the kids, to be honest. I love this ride and make a point to go on it every time (yep, another great boat ride!), but I wondered if my children would be interested.  But my son liked the whole thing – I think he liked anything that wasn’t really loud, though he did cry at the end of Peter Pan’s Flight – and my daughter loved it.  She talked about it for quite a while after.  My favourite part is really the part in the greenhouse, but what stuck with her was the part where you go through the different ecosystems.  The fact that this part of the ride is overlooked by the Garden Grill, where we’d eaten dinner a few nights earlier, really appealed to her. If you do this ride I’d suggest eating at the GG first, so that you can point it out while you’re there.  It’s an added dimension of neat for the kids later!

I never get tired of taking the same picture over and over again. (This one is mine.)

I never get tired of taking the same picture over and over again. (This one is mine too.)

#2: Spaceship Earth.  Everyone ever must go on this ride.  I don’t know any age group that wouldn’t enjoy it, except perhaps a very jaded teen or pre-teen who was hoping for something faster that went in upside-down loops. 😉 Both my children loved it, and my daughter still remembers it well as an attraction that taught her and also “seemed like it was going back in time”.  I’ll admit I like the prior version with Jeremy Irons a bit more than this version, but kids aren’t going to miss anything.  I just like Jeremy Irons’s voice. 😉

This is the World of a Thousand Figments, I think. Image (c) Disney Co.

This is the World of a Thousand Figments, I think. Image (c) Disney Co.

#1: Journey Into Imagination with Figment!  Now, I am aware that this attraction is a letdown compared to the original, and it would not top my list of recommendations for adults.  But younger kids love Figment and they don’t know how cool it used to be. 😉  My daughter talked about Figment for weeks afterward.  Much as I might cringe at the part with the skunk, it stayed with both kids. 😉  My son was a bit alarmed at the train part, because he’s not a fan of loud noises, but over all there is so much whimsy in the look and feel of the ride that it’s easily overlooked.  Plus they had a terrific time afterwards playing all the games; I have a wonderful video of my son jumping around onto all the musical instruments and making music.  Speaking for myself, I love Eric Idle and love that they extended his role past the “Honey I Shrunk the Audience” movie into this ride.  And I loved the “Imagination” song before I even knew it was a Sherman Brothers tune!

So there you have my picks… as always, if you agree or disagree I welcome comments and input!  All kids are different and I bet some will hate everything I put on here and prefer all the Circle-Vision movies. ;D

Disney Social Media: News Updates

Good morning! Here’s a weekly round-up of mostly-official, some-rumoured Disney News! I’m not affiliated with any of these blogs or companies, I’m just trying to provide a resource for all the news coming out each week. 😀

Disney World:

  • So last week, during True Love Week, WDW hosted a number of couples for
    A Celebration of Love; here are some photos from that event, which looks to have been utterly sweet.

  • The latest version of the Disney Junior Live On Stage show has opened as of 2/15 at Hollywood Studios. This version includes characters from Doc McStuffins and Sofia the First, to accompany good old Mickey Mouse Clubhouse and returning champ Jake and the Neverland Pirates. Check out official pictures here!
  • In my Limited Time Magic blog post yesterday I mentioned the Land of Oz play area in Epcot. Here’s more information and a movie. I think if my kids see this we won’t be able to avoid going to Disney.
  • Updates at the Magic Kingdom Park have inspired some great new merchandise you can purchase at the parks. I want that PUSH phone cover, and I don’t even have a smartphone. The Belle and Beast music box is lovely too – coming this summer so MAYBE I won’t miss it!
  • Epcot’s Flower and Garden Festival is part of Disney’s new Magic of Healthy Living initiative, and they are bringing out a campaign called TRYit, encouraging kids to eat diverse and healthy dishes. More information on the Disney Parks blog. I’m not sure how much luck they’ll have with the beet lollipop.

WDW News from non-Disney Sources:

Disneyland:

  • Also as I mentioned yesterday, from now until March 31 you can sneak preview “Oz the Great and Powerful” at Disneyland Park. In 4D. You know you want to.
  • And to help you get over to Disneyland to do that sneak preview, for a limited time you can get a 3-day park-hopper to both Disneyland parks for just $220. That’s a savings of $30 or so. This offer is only good until 2/27 (ie one week), and has to be used for a visit before March 12. (Self-promotion: If you need any help getting a very quick booking in, I actually have experience with that and can have everything done for you within a week!)
  • Back to Disney news… Here’s a list of March merchandise events at Disneyland. Some of those paintings are lovely; the Maleficent one is giving me fits. I can do without those Precious Moments dolls though. If I had one I’d be afraid I’d wake up in the middle of the night and find it staring at me from the foot of the bed. Yeesh.
  • The only reason I don’t trade Disney pins is because I’m a completist, and if I started, I’d be unable to stop. It’s a horrible sickness. Do have a look at the 2013 pins coming out though.

Food News:

  • I should probably count this as a blog update, but it’s so hard to keep from linkblogging everything that the Disney Food Blog posts that I’m going to split this up. News in the Disney Food World, so like, new menus at park restaurants, food reviews, new items, pictures, things like that. I can look at this stuff all DAY and I swear I’m putting on weight just from the pictures.
  • For those of you who follow Disney cupcakes (this is a hobby, you know), there are two new flavours reported by the Disney Food Blog. Birthday cake and pineapple rum cream cheese.

Travel Offers:

  • Via D23, there is an awesome offer for Adventures by Disney’s Backstage Magic Experience. This is a full-on tour of Hollywood and related areas in Southern California, with experiences at the Walt Disney Studios and the Jim Henson Company. Right now D23 members can get $300 off this tour if they book before March 30, for travel between now and October 18.

Limited Time Magic, February 18-24, 2013

Limited Time Magic Logo is (c) Disney Co. not by me.

Limited Time Magic Logo is (c) Disney Co. not by me.

Hello from the Internet!  Remember when people used to say things like “surfing the Web” or “cyberspace”?  Nobody calls the internet “the World Wide Web” anymore.  I for one am glad.

I digress!  Today marks the start of the next Limited Time Magic offerings at Walt Disney World Resort, and I am happy to report them for you here!  With a lot of emphasis on True Love Week, I have not seen as many announcements as its rather lowkey followup, which is an extended Presidents’ Day celebration.  From today, February 18, until Sunday the 24th, Voices of Liberty in Epcot will be performing a special Presidential show.  Per the LTM website:

Voices of Liberty, the a cappella group, is honoring Presidents Day for a limited time with musical performances at the America Gardens Theatre at Epcot. In this special presidential show—a Limited Time Magic experience—the Voices of Liberty will bring to life some inspirational moments from our nation’s history with impeccable 8-part harmonies accompanied by memorable quotes from American Presidents like Theodore Roosevelt, Dwight D. Eisenhower, Ronald Reagan and Barack Obama. It’s an a cappella hail to the chiefs of our country!

As a side note, I’m glad Voices of Liberty are a permanent fixture at Epcot (and Disneyland as well); I was a big fan of Five For a Dollar, the a cappella group who used to perform the preshow at the “Beauty and the Beast Live On Stage” show at Hollywood Studios, and I’m sad they’re gone.  Anyhow!  If you’ve got a WDW trip coming up or just happen to live in the area, check out VoL’s tribute to American Presidents!  Then trek over to the Magic Kingdom and enjoy a showing of the Hall of Presidents, not because of any special events but just because.  It’s Presidents’ Day, y’all!

Over at Disneyland, because I do love Disneyland too even if I don’t show it as much, you get not just one but two LTM events to enjoy right now.  First, the Presidents’ Day celebration is shared on the other coast: the West Coast edition of Voices of Liberty will be giving special performances in the Main Street Opera House (did you know there was one? because I didn’t; shame on me) in Disneyland Park.  Unlike the WDW version, these performances will be on February 18 and 19th, then from the 22nd to the 24th.

To sweeten the pot over at Disneyland, you get an amazing opportunity to preview “Oz, the Great and Powerful” in 4D!  From now until March 31, the MuppetVision 3D theatre is being used to show an 8-minute preview of “Oz”, with special 4D effects built into the theatre.  (Just a note: that page I linked to says it is an Annual Passholder LTM, but that was only for 2/15.  On 2/16 the preview opened to the general public.)

Oz the Great and Powerful, do not confuse it with "Return To Oz"

Oz the Great and Powerful, do not confuse it with “Return To Oz”

Lucky Californians! I have to say, most Disney live action movies are… ahem *tactful, tactful* not my style, but most Sam Raimi movies usually are my style.  Plus I know for a fact this one has Ted Raimi in it, and I’m a Ted-spotter, so obviously I’ll have to see this. 😉  No, but in all seriousness, this does look gorgeous… and I have to say, the ad campaign has been really creative and ingenious.  Which Disney’s ad campaigns often are, must confess.  But this “preview it in the park” idea is probably the best one.

(Or maybe the Epcot Land of Oz-themed play area in their Flower & Garden Festival is the best one.  I’m genuinely torn.)

Review: Guide to the Magic For Kids

So before I start, I want to make it clear that I chose to write this review, I have no affiliations at all with Tim Foster and I didn’t get any review copies or anything.

However, I am *willing* to do Disney-related product reviews if approached, you know, just saying. 😉

So! There’s a pretty decent chance you’ve heard of Tim Foster’s Guide to the Magic website and books. If you haven’t, they are travel guides to WDW that are largely photo-based and very nicely graphically designed. I’ve only seen the “Guide to the Magic For Kids”, which I ordered two years ago as a Christmas present for my daughter just before we went on our first trip together. I got the previous revision – it’s been recently update with information on New Fantasyland and the new Test Track, and I can’t speak to the quality of that information. Given what I know about Tim Foster from his appearances on WDW Radio, I’d have to assume it’s very well-researched.

In any case, I ordered the book a short while before the latest release was ready, so I had to wait a while to get it. Not a problem because it was shipping just in time for Christmas. The only downside? We moved while I was waiting, and I nearly forgot to email Tim with my updated address! I got him JUST before the book shipped so all was well.

Guide to the Magic for Kids cover (c) by Tim Foster, not by me

Guide to the Magic for Kids cover (c) by Tim Foster, not by me

The book, when it arrived, was so attractive and appealing that I wanted to read it all by myself. I should give a disclaimer that I am consistently fascinated by Disney guidebooks and I am prone to taking them out from the library and reading them like novels. You know, as you do. Anyway, the photos… oh, the photos. They’re great.

GttMfK is also interactive, which I love. It includes not just photos, descriptions and trivia of each attraction, but also stickers for each attraction to put on the corresponding pages; activities like checking off which monorails you’ve ridden on or which characters you’ve seen; a journal to list what you did each day, where you ate, what the weather was like, what park you visted; and there are scavenger hunts and hidden Mickey information, too.

Well obviously I was delighted with it, but what did my daughter think? Nearly five at the time, she loved it. She was just learning to read and this was a little over her head by herself, but there are so many photos that she didn’t need to read. We went through it to drive up our excitement pre-trip, brought it on the trip, went through it at night to recap our days and plan our next day, passed time with it on the monorails, and once we got home we finished filling it in, ranking favourite rides, and then got to use it to relive the memories and look up the things we hadn’t had a chance to do but would try for next time.

In short, I really recommend this book for kids, I’d say probably up to age 10 for certain; since my daughter is currently about to be 7 and is the eldest in the family, I don’t know how much past 10 it would go up to, but hey, I’m in my mid-30s and I love it. So there ya go.

The latest edition of GttMfK is currently on sale from the full price of $29.95 and is marked down by 33%, to $19.95 plus shipping and handling. You can also get an Autograph and Sticker Book, which I haven’t tried and can’t review, for $11.95 plus s&h. I give this book two thumbs up and really recommend it, especially as a pre-travel gift for a child who has never been to WDW!

Terror-ific! Registration for the Tower of Terror 10-miler opens TODAY!

I know, I know – I should be kicked for that pun. 😀  But I’m just so EXCITED!

 

This is not my picture; it is property of the Walt Disney Co.

This is not my picture; it is property of the Walt Disney Co.

Registration for the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror 10-Mile race at Disney World this October opens today!  It being a runDisney event there is more to do than just the Big race; there is a 5K, as well as kids races including – how cute is this – a Diaper Dash for crawling children 12 months and under.  My heart swells. 😀  (I am quite sure this Diaper Dash does not take place after dark the way the 10-mile race does.)