Disney’s Animal Kingdom trip report – April 2014 (FastPass+ progress, World of Avatar construction & best tips for touring)

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For this month's Walt Disney World trip report, I spent a “wild” day at Animal Kingdom this past weekend. The weather was beautiful, with temperatures in the low 80s, a calming breeze, and plenty of sunshine. Upon entering the park this visit, I noticed the FastPass+ kiosk lines were dramatically shorter than my visit in January. This is most likely because Annual Passholders and guests not staying at a Disney resort can now make FastPass+ reservations up to 30 days in advance. Also, … [Read more...]

Rumor SPOTLIGHT for April 5, 2014: Unlimited FastPass+ versus Potter’s third phase – the battle for the future is heating up

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In case there was any doubt that 2014 will be the most important year yet for the theme park industry (here in Central Florida, at least), news keeps trickling in from both official and unofficial sources that only serves to bludgeon us over the head with the irrefutable fact. It’s simultaneously thrilling and painful. What is transpiring is nothing short of an ever-broadening war between Disney and Universal, with maneuvers, counter-moves, and the deploying of nuclear submarines rapidly … [Read more...]

Updated guide to FastPass+ at Walt Disney World: Advance ride reservations now open to off-site guests

FastPass+ at Walt Disney World.

Disney’s MyMagic+ has been going through lots of phases and changes, the biggest of which starts Monday, March 31: any guest of Walt Disney World Resort can now begin to pre-plan their FastPass+ reservations using the My Disney Experience website or app before they actually arrive for their visit. Here’s what you need to know: Guests of select Walt Disney World hotels get a 60-day booking window. All other guests get a 30-day booking window. You must create an account at … [Read more...]

An Orlando vacation to remember forever: Seven perfect places to pop the big question

The Harbor Piazza at Loew's Portofino Bay Hotel.

Besides being the start of a lifelong commitment, popping the big question is a big deal. Let’s face it; she’s going to be telling the story of how you got engaged for the rest of your lives together. No pressure, right? Lucky for you, Orlando has a bevy of romantic locales ideal for taking your sweetie by surprise and giving her the fairy tale engagement every princess secretly yearns for. With a little creativity and planning, you’ll have this moment nailed.   Fireworks … [Read more...]

Reader poll: FastPass+ versus Express Pass

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We talked about FastPass+ last week, running the gamut of guest feedback from the good to the bad to plain old meh. Now it's time to make it official and put it to a vote!   FastPass+ is Disney's free ride reservation system. A guest and her party can select which attractions – rides, character meet-n-greets, parades – they would like to see and then choose from a list of return times, minimizing the amount of time spent in line. When fully implemented, these reservations can be … [Read more...]

Rumor round-up for March 22, 2014: Disney’s FastPass+ controversy – the good, the bad & the indifferent

Extended FastPass+ queue for Little Mermaid.

Rumor FastPass+ round-up All four of Walt Disney World’s theme parks have been switched over to the new FastPass+ ride reservation system for the past two months, while all Annual Passholders’ MagicBands (the all-in-one bracelets that allow one to make her FastPass+ reservations in advance) will ship out next week. Now that we’ve fully entered the NextGen future that Disney has spent so much time (and money – $1 billion’s worth!) talking about, it seems only appropriate to pause, … [Read more...]

Outdoor kitchens at the 2014 Epcot Flower & Garden Festival: Try the returning dishes and all the new flavors

Epcot's outdoor kitchens – March 2014.

The big news for this year’s Flower & Garden Festival at Epcot is the return of the delightful food and beverage booths, which are now called "outdoor kitchens." Get ready to welcome spring with a beautiful floral feast for the eyes and a flavorful feast for your taste buds! I headed out to the opening weekend of the festival to taste some of the returning food offerings from last year and to sample some of the new foods that have gotten everyone’s curiosity in … [Read more...]

Epcot trip report – March 2014 (more FastPass+ benefits & problems, Flower & Garden Festival in full bloom)

Epcot trip report – March 2014.

Have you ever partaken in the beauty of Epcot’s International Flower and Garden Festival? Have you navigated the new, although very limiting, tiered FastPass+ system at Epcot and used its reservation system from the convenience of your own home? I experienced all of these elements and more this past weekend as I toured Epcot for our March trip report. Because we stayed at a Disney resort a couple of weeks ago, my family and I now have MagicBands connected to our Walt Disney World … [Read more...]

Disney’s all-new Festival of Fantasy parade pours on the whimsy at Magic Kingdom

Disney Festival of Fantasy parade.

A fire-breathing dragon… a pirate ship with smoking cannon… a music box that’s a seashell… sassy Bubble Girls with cotton-candy hair… a mega-sized bagpipe. Classic Disney fantasies soar to new heights with the all-new Disney Festival of Fantasy parade, which hit the streets of Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World on Sunday, March 9. The tribute to Fantasyland highlights several new classic Disney and Pixar stories on a grand scale with nearly 100 performers and larger-than-life … [Read more...]

Our top tips for combining a cruise with your Orlando trip for the best vacation possible

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An Orlando vacation is pretty incredible in itself, but there’s a way to take it to uncharted territory. With Orlando’s ideal location in the middle of Florida (we don’t call it Central Florida for nothing!), it is easy to get to one of the nearby cruise ports and head out to the high seas for adventure. I have been on more cruises than I can count, and I am here to share my favorite tips for adding a cruise to your Orlando vacation. I have only ever cruised out of Port Canaveral, so … [Read more...]

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