The Return Of…at WDW

It began with the Meet and Greet of Anna and Elsa! It found it’s way to Soarin’ at EPCOT! Now, it has made it’s debut at Be Our Guest! What is it, you ask? It may bring about memories of an era gone by! What am I talking about? Read on…

Be-Our-Guest-Bridge-Entrance

A few weeks ago, Walt Disney World decided to limit the stand-by line at Anna and Elsa by giving guests a piece of paper with a return window time printed on it. You are given something that resembles the classic Fastpass that has a 30 minute window to return to the stand-by entrance and meet the Frozen royalty!

A week or so later, the same type of system was introduced for stand-by guests at Soarin’. It, too, has a 30 minute window for re-entry to the stand-by queue in time to get your flight!

This week, WDW has introduced this line reducing strategy at the Be Our Guest restaurant for lunch! You report to the entrance of the Stand-by queue, a Cast Member gives you ticket timed for a specific return. Once all of these Fastpass type tickets have been distributed, a sign stating that there is no more stand-by seating for the day will be put in place! So, there are now two primary ways to eat at Be Our Guest for lunch!! Either, you are one of the blessed on-site guests who get the email invitation for Fastpassing Be Our Guest, or you head Stand-by line and hope to get a lucky ticket!

In my mind there is an advantage to these attractions being managed in this manner. Instead of standing in a queue for as much as three hours, you can use that time to see some other attractions and shows! It may require moving a few things around, but if these are things on your Must-Do lists, it may be worth the adjustments!

Enjoy your weekends!! And, have a Blessed and Magical Day, my friends!

MyMagic+ Update!

MyMagic+

There are some updates involving Magicbands, Fastpass Plus, and other enhancements that I wanted to take a look at today. I’ll also try to give a few strategies with these changes. Some that you may have heard elsewhere, and some that may be new thinking.

First, you may have heard about the new Check-In Bypass being tested at some of the resorts. This test, and probable add-o to the Magicband, will allow you to make use of the Online Check-In system and when you arrive at your resort, you will be texted or emailed a room number. You can then proceed to your room, scan your Magicband, and enter your room without visiting the Check-In desk at your resort. I am curious to hear input from those who have done this to see what THAT experience was like, and how they made the transition! I am also curious to know how you know where to go to find your room, especially at the larger resorts like Port Orleans – Riverside! If you have taken part in this test and would be willing to share input, please email me at threestrandswdw@outlook.com! I’ll pass the information along!

There has been a change in the tiered rides at EPCOT and Disney’s Hollywood Studios! At EPCOT, in addition to Test Track, Soarin’, Maelstrom, and Illuminations! Reflections of Earth, you can now choose Living With The Land in Tier One! At DHS, We add The Great Movie Ride to the Tier One list along with Toy Story Mania, Rock ‘n’ Rollercoaster, Beauty And The Beast, and Fantasmic! However, another recent change allows you to select additional Fastpass Plus reservations once you have used your initial three selections! This will let you choose any Tier One ride for a first, or even second, ride! This is a significant move toward feeling like the ‘Classic’ Fastpasses.

Finally, it is rumored that you can now order specially designed Magicbands for your WDW vacation. A few of the designs I have seen are Star Wars and Frozen. I suspect this is just a first look idea, and there will be many more variations becoming available as the use of Magicbands becomes more the norm! Not sure what type of design I would want to wear..hmmm!

One side note from MyMagic+, Disney has recently announced that the Wilderness Lodge, Silver Creek Springs Pool, will be closed for a lengthy refurbishment from Sep 3 – November 27, 2014. Alternatives offered at this time are: the leisure pool at The Villas At Wilderness Lodge, the Meadow Swimming Pool at Ft. Wilderness, or the Main Pool at the Contemporary Resort. Complimentary transportation is scheduled to be available for you during that time. I’ll add this to the Refurb Page of this blog!

As always, thanks for reading! May you have a very Blessed and Magical weekend, my friends!! Keep dreaming!

EPCOT after dark

Walt Disney World has announced the EPCOT After Hours Wind Down for visitors around the World Showcase after Illuminations! on Thursday through Sunday. There are four World Showcase Restaurants participating in this experience. They are: Rose and Crown Pub, Tutto Gusto Wine Cellar, Spice Road Table near Morocco, and La Cave del Tequila. The cost is $35 per person and includes one drink and a selection of light snacks. Remember, tax and gratuity are extra!

Though I have not had this experience myself, I am going to give you my take on it anyway. I am part of a family that does not drink alcohol. Personally, I don’t like what it does to me, and I choose NOT to drink it! Now, I understand that this is being marketed mostly toward adults, and I appreciate that very much! I would love to have some time to enjoy an nearly empty park with my wife! However, I wonder if Disney would consider offering a similar package with non-alcoholic drinks to consume?

As for the cost, I feel it’s a bit steep for what you get in return. I would possibly be willing to pay $20 – $25 per person for this, but $70 for two is just a little too much! And, it would be even more worthwhile if you were at least allowed to stroll the promenade after your experience at your restaurant of choice.

One more thing! As far as I can tell, there is no provision for Disney Dining Plan or Tables in Wonderland holders. It appears that this is strictly a special event ticket experience!

Let me know if you partake of the EPCOT After Hours Wind Down, I’d love to hear about your adventure!

Have a Blessed and Magical day, friends!!

2014 Vacation Video

I have gotten the Vacation Planning Video every year for several years, and when I ordered this year’s version, I wasn’t expecting much. Was I every surprised!

2014 Disney Vacation Planner Video
2014 Disney Vacation Planner Video

The 2014 Vacation Planning Video has been completely reimagined, to use Disney terminology. A lot of good visuals showcasing everything from Theme Park overviews to more specific looks at rides, dining options, and entertainment all around the resort.

This video is an excellent tool to use, in conjunction with your Authorized Disney Travel Planner, to help put together the most magical experience you could ever design, and even introduce you to some different ideas to make that possible. And, it even gives you a very brief look at each resort available on the WDW property. I only wish there had been a bit more said about each resort to give us a better idea of what they have to offer.

You can view both Walt Disney World in Florida AND Disneyland in California on this presentation. So, you can plan your vacation to either destination, or get a quick Disney fix if you are something of a Disney Parks Addict, like me!

So, order your copy today by going to https://www.disneyvacations.com/dv/en_US/VacationPlanningDVD/index to request your copy! Then, contact your favorite Authorized Disney Vacation Planner to begin dreaming! If you don’t know anyone, message me at threestrandswdw@outlook.com, and I’ll be happy to connect you with one of my friends!!

I hope this puts a little touch of magic into your lives! Blessings…Mr ThreestrandsWDW

Updated Prices, Refurbs, etc. for WDW

Walt Disney World has been quietly slipping the cost of things up a bit, with no fanfare of any kind! Most notably is the price of a One-Day, Single Park Ticket. The price slid up $5. Magic Kingdom is not $99 for one day. EPCOT, Disney’s Hollywood Studios, and Disney’s Animal Kingdom are $94 for a single day’s visit. It is believed this is a strategy to trim the one day visitors in favor of multiple day guests. The cost for parking at a Disney Park has also made a quiet move up the ladder going from $15 to $17 per day.

Here is the list of current Refurbishments at Walt Disney World:

Magic Kingdom
Big Thunder Mountain April 7-9, 2014
Pirates of the Caribbean April 28 – May 1, 2014
Tomorrowland Transit Authority – Peoplemover – May 3 – Jun 30, 2014
Astro Orbiter May 3 – August 20, 2014

Disney’s Animal Kingdom

Festival of the Lion King is still under refurbishment with no official date announced for re-opening in a new theater in the Harambe area of the park. Expect sometime late May or June!

Of course, there is major construction around the Polynesian Resort in preparation of adding Disney Vacation Club. There are changes taking place to the Great Ceremonial House, as well! Keep this in mind when planning your vacation!

Thanks for reading, and please feel free to share if you find the information helpful! Have a Blessed and Magical Day, my friends!!

Trip Report Tuesday, Rope Drop Magic Kingdom!

It’s been a crazy week, so far! As a result, We are a day late getting the next installment of our guest trip report from my friend, Diane Trowbridge out. Well, here is is!! Enjoy!!

Inside Be Our Guest
Inside
Be Our Guest

Day 3: Rope Drop at Magic Kingdom (MK) with a FPP for Enchanted Tales with Belle. Even though we were traveling childless, we enjoyed the interaction of Belle with the children and their parents. It’s a great show, which was even better with no wait, thanks to our FPP. Enjoyed our FPP on Space Mountain, and minimal waits for Small World, Mickey’s Philharmagic, Monsters Inc., Buzz Lightyear, Carousel of Progress, with a longer wait for Under the Sea with the Little Mermaid.

We had FPP for Be Our Guest lunch, having ordered our lunches 2 weeks before. It was wonderful to walk past that long line, confirm our lunch selections and find a table. In no time our lunch appeared (how do they do that?) and was delicious (grilled ham & cheese sandwich aka “croquet monsieur” with fries and Braised pork, with the “grey stuff” cupcake and lemon cupcake). It counts as a Quick service meal on the Dining Plan, but feels like a Table service to our bellies! Neither of us could finish our meals.

After lunch we hopped on the Train at Fantasyland station and rode to Frontierland for our FPP on the Big Thunder Mountain Railroad. Surprised by the long queue at Pirates of the Caribbean, about 45 minutes, and a full house at Enchanted Tiki Room. A Cast Member (CM) informed us it was the first sunny day after 3 rainy ones, and hence the heavier-than-expected crowds by afternoon.

Since it was a Sunday, we were able to ride the Monorail to our dinner reservation at Grand Floridean Café. (The resort monorail service is suspended weekdays at midday for maintenance work at this time.) Since we were early, we strolled around the grounds and throughout the lobby at this spectacular Deluxe resort. Had an incredible meal at the Café (salmon, steak, with the dessert sampler, all on the dining plan). These meals have been spectacular! Rode the monorail back to MK and caught the POFQ bus after a full day!

Progress City and WDW

The Man who Started it ALL!
The Man who Started it ALL!

When Walt Disney first began developing the plans for The Florida Project, his idea was the center of activity would be EPCOT, the Experimental Prototype Community Of Tomorrow. EPCOT was to be a living, breathing community that would be a model of technology and forward thinking progress.

While EPCOT may not have turned out the way that Walt had envisioned, I think it’s safe to say that the dream of Progress City is still alive and well, and it’s current title is: The Walt Disney World Resort!

You read that right! I think that the entire resort is a larger representation of what Walt desired for the Florida property. It is, indeed, a Living and Breathing community. Instead of those working at the complex also living at the complex, much of the rest of the plan of Progress City can be found on the property. With the addition of the resort properties, those of us who visit ARE the cast members making use of the various modes of transportation. WE are the ones making use of the different technologies. And, WE are the ones giving Walt Disney World LIFE!

If you think about how the property is managed, WDW is it’s own community. It has a governing body, Reedy Creek Improvement District, a five member Board of Supervisors, that determines how things are organized, built, and operated. There is a fire department, power plant, wastewater facility, and more. And, while there is a Safety and Security team, the main policing of the area is maintained by Florida Highway Patrol, and the Sheriff Departments of Orange and Osceola Counties.

There are a few small communities within the Disney property lines, that are owned by Disney employees, not The Walt Disney Company. So, in a sense, there are workers living within the community where they work. Just as Walt wanted it to be? Maybe!

So, to sum up my thoughts, I believe that the entire Walt Disney World Resort IS, in fact, Walt’s Progress City!

Have a Blessed and Magical Sunday, my friends!!

Planning for Special Events at WDW

Disney fans all over the world have special times of the year they like to visit Walt Disney World. One of the questions I often see asked is, When do I plan to go to…? Today, we will try to give you answers for that question.

Walt Disney World has it’s annual celebrations all year long. And, planning for those times can be a bit confusing. Two of the events have pretty much the same time frame each year. In the Spring, around the beginning of March and going until about the middle of May is the EPCOT Flower and Garden Festival. This is a time when the grounds around EPCOT are at their most beautiful as the Disney plant growers and topiary designers get to show off the skills that have been a part of the ‘landscape’ since the opening of Walt Disney World in 1971. Planning for this event can pretty much be done anytime. Especially if you aim for the middle of the event.

The Fall equivalent, on a much grander scale, is the EPCOT Food and Wine Festival. This event, again, is usually about the same time each year. And, if you make plans for the middle of the range, you should be just fine in getting the accommodations you desire for attending this time of year! Food and Wine does seem to attract larger crowds, and a lot of the locals visit, also. You may want to plan you F&W visits for midweek.

Other Annual Events of Interest:

Star Wars Weekends at Disney’s Hollywood Studios
Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party at The Magic Kingdom
The Candlelight Processional at the America Gardens Theater in EPCOT
Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party

One other note to add: If you are planning to attend one of these events, go ahead and make your plans! Don’t wait until the last moment! If a special offer comes along, you can always make a change to your package without losing what you have booked. Better yet, use one of the MANY Disney Authorized Travel Planners to keep watch over your vacation and they will do the work for you! That usually means saving you money!

That’s it for now, my friends! May you have a Blessed and Magical weekend!

threestrandswdw.com

Mobility and Babies at WDW

I see a lot of questions online about using mobility devices and strollers at Walt Disney World. Here, we will attempt to answer a few of the most common questions! The first thing to be aware of is, YES, you can rent from WDW in each of the parks, but generally those are just for the day, in the park you are attending, and quite expensive. If you are in a pinch, of course, make use of this service!

If, however, you are trying to plan ahead, like many of us, you might want to consider an off-site supplier. But, remember that the off-site contractor must be a Disney Approved supplier. Most will bring what you need to your resort the day you are due to arrive, and pick up the day you depart. And, there are usually different styles and types available based on your particular needs at that time.

One of the most popular wheelchair and scooter rental companies is Walker Mobility. Walker can actually supply chairs, scooters, AND strollers. You can check out their offerings at http://www.walkermobility.com for all the options that are available.

You can also check out Buena Vista Scooter Rentals! They also provide scooter and stroller rentals. They are a Disney Featured ECV Provider and they even rent bicycles! Be sure to check them out a https://www.buenavistascooters.com/ for more details.

One final thought, if I may? Using scooters on Disney Transport buses to and from the parks is really quite well done! Scooters are loaded FIRST, to allow for ease of boarding and to make sure that you are properly situated before the rest of the passengers are boarded. This is not a preferred service, it just makes sense! Also, if you ARE using strollers for your kids, please fold them up before boarding, and if able before the bus actually arrives. This will assist in getting everyone on board, and on the way to your park or resort quicker. Also, it is a federal guideline that nothing block the aisle of a passenger bus in case of emergency.

I hope this is helpful, and if you have any other tips, please feel free to leave a comment at the bottom to help others seeking assistance!

Have a Blessed and Magical Sunday, my friends!!

Taking a Break at WDW!

For many visitors to the Walt Disney World Resort, it is important to get in as much as possible during their stay. But, there are also many who like to take a bit of a break in the middle of the day, and many of the planning websites recommend this strategy. Today, let’s look at some ways to accomplish this, without missing too much park time.

Taking a break can be done in a couple of different ways. The first, is to head to your desired park of the day for Rope Drop (RD) to hit some popular attractions before the rest of the world wakes up and joins you. After you have spent two to four hours in the park, you can head back to your resort for a little pool time and/or nap. This is actually highly recommended if you have small children who may be in the routine of resting or napping in the afternoon. You can then head back to a park, depending on what type of park ticket you may have, and continue your journey. This strategy is also suggested for our older folks and during the extreme warm and humid days that are prevalent in the mid summertime.

Another idea, is to take a nice lunch break at a sit-down restaurant. Many of the meals will take 1 1/2 to 2 hours to complete and can provide just enough refreshing to continue on in your endeavor to get more park time in during the day. For example, if you are at The Magic Kingdom, you could plan a sit-down at Liberty Town Tavern. The decor is very relaxing and the meal is a buffet/family style service. You can easily take a much needed time-out here without leaving the park!

One last idea, for now, is to take an entire day as a break in the middle of your stay. If you are doing a 6 – 10 day visit to WDW, you can plan to use a day right in the middle to just relax! You can enjoy your resort, after-all it wasn’t cheap! And, you might as well take time to look around. Make use of your resort facilities: pool, arcade, food court, etc. Visit Downtown Disney (DTD)! I would recommend doing this morning to early afternoon so that the crowd levels are more manageable. Or, take on one of the other activities I shared about in my previous blog, http://wp.me/p23hiG-eL, Non-Park Adventures at WDW.

If you really feel you need to plan a break, or two, then by all means take a break! It is YOUR vacation, and you need to enjoy it as you see fit.

What are some of you ideas for taking a break? Leave a comment below and share with us all, so we can try some of these ideas on our next Walt Disney World Adventure!

Until next time, have a Blessed and Magical Day, my friends!