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Breaking News

The Wizarding World Of Harry Potter

The official announcement on the opening of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter has been released. The Grand Opening date is set for June 18th, 2010.  Details can be found on our blog at http://www.disunplugged.com

While the grand opening isn't until June 18th, we expect that there will be a soft opening much earlier. Exactly when, we're not sure - but don't be surprised if you're in Orlando in early May and able to experience this new land for yourself.

 

Special packages for the Wizarding World of Harry Potter are available for arrivals starting on May 28th, 2010.  Prices start at $285 per adult (off site) and $645 per adult for on-site accommodations.  Packages include resort accommodations, a three day base ticket (one park per day), breakfast at the Three Broomsticks Restaurant, early admission to Islands of Adventure and a commemorative ticket (not good for admission).  You can get more information on these packages by clicking here.

Newsletter Contest!

Disney Premier Passport Give Away

Here's your chance to win Disney's NEW Premier Passport courtesy of Dreams Unlimited Travel - the official Travel Agency of the DIS.

The new passport gives you access to both Walt Disney World AND Disneyland theme parks.  It also includes all the perks of a Premium annual pass at each destination.

We're going to award one lucky DIS newsletter subscriber their very own Premier Passport in our July 2010 newsletter!! The winner will be picked at random from all current subscribers.  You must be 18 years of age to be eligible, and a legal resident of the United States.

To find out more about the new Premier Passport - click here!

From the Founders Desk

Where’s the magic?
By Pete Werner
DIS Founder

Recently, we started doing a new podcast as part of our DIS Unplugged show focused on our discussion boards, DISBoards.com.   The format of the show is simple – we find threads on the boards that we think are interesting or pertinent to trip planning and our group discusses them.   I’ll grant you that it’s not the most original concept for a podcast ever invented, but people really seemed to enjoy it, and ultimately, that’s the goal.

We released the first episode of the new show two weeks ago and the first thread we discussed was one that really stuck out to me – What are you passionate about?  What is it about Disney that really fires your passion?   What is it that excites you the most?

This struck me for several reasons. First and foremost, I will admit that there are times when my passion for Disney has waned.   After all, this site is how I’ve made my living for years, and doing something for work has a way of beating the pixie dust out of you sometimes.   But then there’s complacency. I’ve lived in Orlando for 11 years, Disney is about a 20 minute drive from my house (30 with traffic) and I’ve done the parks…A LOT.   After a while, the excitement of crossing through the gates can diminish when it becomes a weekly event as opposed to a yearly vacation.

But I couldn't get this thread out of my head – I had trouble answering the question – what is it about Disney that I’m passionate about?   Then I spent the day with my mother in Epcot, and I got my answer.

To be sure, I’ve spent the day with my Mom at a Disney park more than once.   She lives right down the street, and we go to the parks together every so often – but usually we have others with us – it’s rare that it’s just her and I.   I wanted to make sure she got to see the Flower and Garden festival, one of her favorites – and my schedule these days is increasingly unmanageable – so as soon as I had a free day, it was just Mom and I off to Epcot.

We got there late in the morning, worked our way through the exhibits in Future World, secured a fast pass for Soarin’ later in the day (both of us have an ungodly fear of heights, but we love this attraction – go figure), and had 1:30 pm reservations for lunch at Chefs de France.   Our server was a young girl named Cecile who had just started at the restaurant two days before and was full of excitement about getting to see ‘the real America’, as she put it.   She was sweet, charming, and one amazing server.   Lunch was both leisurely and delicious (as it always is at Chefs de France) and afterwards we strolled around World Showcase, looking at the topiaries, and stopping to shop along the way.

I bought some of my favorite cologne in Italy (Blu Mediterraneo), got some expensive hand cream for Mom while we were there, purchased some tea at Twinings in the U.K. (Mom’s FAVORITE place in Epcot), and picked up some Flower and Garden merchandise at one of the kiosks before heading to MouseGears so Mom could pick up a few outfits for her great-grandchildren (another favorite for her).   We finished off the day with a ride on Soarin’.   We spent 7 hours taking our time going around Epcot – enjoying each other's company in a way that wasn’t always possible through the years.

Where Disney is concerned, the word “Magic” gets used a lot – especially in marketing.   It’s used to a point where its painfully easy to suck your teeth, roll your eyes and throw up a little in your mouth.   Then you have a day like that – a day where you get to experience something you could not experience anywhere else in the world and to experience it with someone you care about.

The DIS has been a trip planning resource for nearly 13 years now.   We spend a lot of time telling you where you should go, what you should avoid, and a host of other things that will help you plan the ‘perfect Disney vacation’.   But there are things more important than getting that ‘must have’ ADR or making sure you formulate the ultimate commando style touring plan six months before getting on a plane.   There’s the part where you’re supposed to enjoy yourself – and enjoy being with people you love in a place unlike any other place on earth.

That’s when I realized what it was that drew me to Disney all those years ago, what inspired me to start this site, and what continues to inspire me even as I write this.   I love sharing the experience.   For all its faults – and there are many, for all its insipid marketing, infuriating policies, ever-increasing prices and crappy pizza – there simply is no place on earth like Disney.   It inspires passion in millions of people – not necessarily because of rides or exhibits or shows or fireworks – but because we have experiences there that we share with others that we’ll remember for the rest of our lives.

So, as you feverishly plan your next vacation – as you toil endlessly over the minutia of ADR’s, fast passes, room locations and pin codes, remember – ENJOY YOURSELF and enjoy the time you spend with the people you’re sharing it with.   THAT’S where the MAGIC is.

From The Editor's Desk

No Mercy

Leah Zanolla

DIS Senior Editor

On a recent trip, we were fortunate enough to be able to bring our four-year-old son with us on short notice.  Since our trip had to that point been planned for just us adults, we had to make some changes. My husband and I wanted to go to dinner by ourselves, so we hoped to find a spot at one of the on-property kids' clubs for our son.  However, we had no luck; everything was full. While that was by no means a disaster, we then attempted to make some advance dining reservations at "kid friendly" locations.  Again, we were met with a similar statement nearly every time: "I'm sorry, there is no availability at that restaurant." In a moment of frustration, I blurted out, "There's just no mercy for people who decide to come down at the last minute, is there?"  The cast member on the other end of the line was very understanding and responded, "It doesn't seem like it."  Here we were, willing to spend more money to bring our son down and it seemed like every restaurant we tried was full.  Unless we wanted to eat dinner with a four-year-old at 9:00 p.m. at Sci Fi Dine-In Theater (no thanks - bad time, bad food) we were out of luck.  I realized then that the deck is stacked against late trip planners. 

We ended up visiting many table service restaurants to see if they accepted "walk-up" reservations, but rarely had any luck.  While we wouldn't have minded dining at Nine Dragons, since they don't serve corndogs and yogurt, our son vetoed the idea.  Eventually, we did manage to get tables at some of the less popular locations, but we were turned away more than we were seated.  In walking from restaurant to restaurant checking on availability, we wasted time that could have been spent riding attractions, shopping, or perhaps most valuable on vacation, napping.  Needless to say, I learned my lesson: no matter how far out you make the decision to visit a Disney park...planning is crucial.

DIScounts & Specials

WALT DISNEY WORLD

Free gift card with a Disney World package booking!

February - August 2010 - Free Gift Card Offer!!

Blackout dates have been removed!!  Offer good over Easter holiday!!

Book a 6-day, 5-night non-discounted room and ticket package at select Walt Disney World Resort hotels and get a free Disney Gift Card for stays most nights 2/15 — 8/14.

  • Value resorts: $300 Disney Gift Card
  • Moderate resort: $500 Disney Gift Card
  • Disney Deluxe or Deluxe Villa resort: $750 Disney Gift Card

This discount must be booked by 3/27/10. For details on this offer, click here.

 

SAVE 45% ON A ROOM ONLY RESERVATION

Save up to 45% when staying for 5 or more consecutive nights at select Walt Disney World Resorts.

Valid for stays most nights 1/ 18 – 2/ 9, 2/ 15 – 3/ 27 and 4/11 – 8/14.

This discount must be booked by 3/27/10.  For details on this offer, including sample pricing, click here.


DIS EXCLUSIVE!!

Buena Vista Suites

Stay a minimum of 4 nights and receive a $25.00 Disney Gift Card!

Includes FREE buffet breakfast for every member of your party each day of your stay!

Travel must be booked by April 7th 2010 for travel between May 1st and Sept 30, 2010

Offer good for new reservations only. To check rates and availability, click here

Don't forget - Dreams Unlimited Travel will also make your Disney dining reservations for you as part of our standard service!


DISNEYLAND

5 Night Disneyland Package for the Price of 3 Nights

Book a 5 night stay at a Disneyland Resort Hotel or a Participating Good Neighbor Hotel and only pay for 3 nights!

Package includes a 5-day Park Hopper for the price of a 3-day. 

Valid for arrivals from 5/1/10 - 9/26/10.  Travel must be completed by 5/4/10.

Deal must be booked by 9/1/10.

For more details, click here.


ORLANDO HOTELS

Sheraton Vistana Villages - International Drive
3-Night Package with No Housekeeping!

Fully furnished villas equipped with separate living room, dining and bedroom areas, a fully equipped kitchen or kitchenette, and a washer and dryer. A home away from home experience. The 2 Bedroom Villa sleeps up to 8 guests!


Complimentary High Speed Internet Access in all villas!

  • Book by 3/31/10
  • Travel 4/11-6/10/10
  • $199 for a 3-night package in a 1 bedroom villa ($66.33 per night)
  • $259 for a 3-night package in a 2 bedroom villa ($86.33 per night)

Call 1-888-208-0004 and mention Rate Code "DUPKG".

DIS Video

DIS Newsletter EXCLUSIVE

Manta Coaster at Sea World Orlando - POV Video
(click the image to view the video)

Manta Coaster at Sea World Orlando.


Each month we'll preview a new DIS video, exclusive to DIS Newsletter subscribers.

NEWSLETTER SPONSOR

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Your Favorite Disney Stories Online!

Disney Digital Books is the first-ever comprehensive library of Disney children's books online. Disney Digital Books.com encourages children to develop a love of reading by offering books for every level, from nonreaders to children ready for chapter books; an age-appropriate dictionary to help readers define words they don't know; and a story-builder feature that allows children to create their own memorable stories by selecting words, Disney characters and props, and printing them to share or read again later. Click Here to try it free!
Disney Digital Books
 

DIS "Tip Board"

Learning from Other's Mistakes (Visit thread that inspired these tips)

1)  From jngwright:  "Make sure your kids can identify cast members, so they know who to go to for help, should the need arise."

With so many guests wandering around the theme parks, it is very easy for a small child to become disoriented.  In order to be proactive, it is good advice to emphasize to your child(ren) what cast members look like in case of an emergency.

2)  From ilandrazdsw:  "If I only knew to schedule some down time, I would have avoided a headache."

When the parks get busy, the urge to do/ride/see as much as possible takes over.  As a result, many of us get worn down before the second full day of our vacation has begun.  If there's one thing DISers know, it's that naptime isn't just for kids when you're visiting a Disney theme park!

3) From Eeyore's Buddy:  "NEVER wear shoes that haven't been broken in while at WDW."

This is one piece of advice that can result in a painful mistake if not followed.  It is common practice to purchase new shoes in advance of a trip, but it is just as important to wear them around the house in order to (1) make sure they fit properly without causing pain and (2) stretch them out to prepare for the seven to ten miles a day a typical guest walks at the theme parks.

 

Animal Kingdom Tips, Tricks, and Must-do's (Visit thread that inspired these tips)

1) From mousescrapper:  "Don't visit Camp Mickey and Minnie [at Animal Kingdom] at times when Festival of the Lion King is ending."

Sometimes the key to successfully touring a park is no different than success in real estate: location, location, location.  Festival of the Lion King is a very popular show with children, and they'll all be heading your way at show's end. Therefore, if you want to avoid long lines to meet and greet your favorite characters...plan accordingly.

2)  From IMwink:  "It seems that later in the day the [Kilimanjaro Safari] drivers have more freedom to go slower."

Common advice is to ride the safari early in the day, when animal activity is thought to be at its highest.  However, IMwink's advice seems logical, especially from a picture-taking point of view. 

3)  From wahoostampingirl:  "At Finding Nemo The Musical, choose seats directly behind the control booth."

During this popular musical, a lot happens on stage, above the stage, and even in the audience.  Sitting behind the control booth will provide an unobstructed view for everyone in your party, especially little ones. 

 

Favorite menu item only YOU seem to know about? (Visit thread that inspired these responses)

1)  From CuteAndFluffy:  "The fresh pineapple spears at Aloha Isle."

The Pineapple Dole Whips found at Aloha Isle and Captain Cook's [in the Polynesian] rank among the most popular desserts in all of Walt Disney World.  They are so popular that many guests overlook the pineapple spears as an alternative to yet another ice cream treat for sale at the parks.

2) From Nadjalu: "The chocolate covered marshmallows at Goofy's [Candy Company]."

In addition to this customizable dessert available at the Downtown Disney location, guests can also create their own rice krispie treats, apples, pretzels, and gingerbread cookies. You can choose from 15 toppings and different "drizzle" options as you create your own masterpiece while you wait.

3) From Pig_Pen:  "The sugar roasted pecans from the snack carts."

Different types of cinnamon-sugar roasted nuts offer a nice break from the typical popcorn and ice cream fare available at every corner in the "world."  The Magic Kingdom normally has two locations where these snacks are sold: (1) across from The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh and (2) across from The Magic Carpets of Aladdin.

WDW Resort Round-Up

Caribbean Beach Resort

The largest resort on Walt Disney World property is the Caribbean Beach Resort with 2112 rooms. Brightly colored 2 story buildings are clustered into 5 villages named for Caribbean islands: Barbados, Jamaica, Martinique, Aruba, and Trinidad (separated into North and South). The villages surround a 45 acre lake. In the midst of the lake, you'll find Caribbean Cay Island. It is a great place to relax with the hammocks and secluded benches.

Here's a "Round-Up" of information on this resort....

Restaurant Review

Epcot’s Rose and Crown Pub & Dining Room Review

Review by Kevin Klose

We recently visited the Rose and Crown Pub, located in the United Kingdom area of Epcot’s World Showcase. As it was not a busy time at Disney, we were able to secure a same day advanced dining reservation for 3 pm. As we hit very little traffic, we made great time and actually arrived at the restaurant just a bit before 2 pm. Read on to find out about our experience.

We approached the podium and explained our situation….we had a 3 pm ADR and arrived an hour early. We asked if it was possible to be seated at that time or if we need to wait the additional hour for our allotted time frame. The Hostess suggested that it would depend on how busy the dining room was at the time.

I took this to mean that she was going to check to see if the dining room was busy and she didn’t. She just stood there looking at me. I asked if she could check and see if we could be seated. Her response was “Oh, you mean now?” She checked and decided that we could be seated immediately.

We were shown to our table in a near empty restaurant.

Our server approached our table and asked if we had any questions. When we said we didn’t, she asked if she could make suggestions. We agreed and she proceeded to read the menu to us. Verbatim. I explained that we could read the menu and she left.

We decided to start with a bowl of the Potato Leek soup (5.49), the Butter Poached Shrimp over risotto ($9.99), the Rose and Crown Meat and Cheese selection for two ($12.99) and the Scotch Egg ($8.99).

Keep Reading......

Restaurant Spotlight

(Photo by ehaimann236)


'Ohana at Disney's Polynesian Resort

'Ohana is the wildly popular restaurant on the second floor of Disney's Polynesian Resort. The large room overlooks the Seven Seas Lagoon, Disney's Grand Floridian Resort and the large volcano in the hotel pool.   If you're there at the right time, you may be able to watch the Magic Kingdom fireworks from your table.  Appetizers are served family style and entrees are served from large skewers. There is entertainment that includes singing, ukulele playing, limbo contests and races where children push coconuts around the restaurant. The restaurant is a bit chaotic, but families love it.

Shine the "spotlight" on different views of this restaurant:

Below are some pictures to whet your appetite.....

Mixed Greens with Honey-Lime dressing (Photo by disneyfav4ever)

Corriander chicken wings (Photo by dizneeat)

Pork fried dumplings (Photo by disneyfav4ever)

Sirloin steak, Asian BBQ pork loin, mesquite grilled turkey, and shrimp. (Photo by disneyfav4ever)

A personalized vegetarian entree. (Photo by ehaimann236)

Bread pudding a la mode with Banana Foster sauce (Photo by dizneeat)

Top News Stories

Here are some popular news stories from this past month:

  • Main Street Electrical Parade returns to Disney's Magic Kingdom.  To read more, click here.

  • Disneyland and Walt Disney World offer "Premier Passport."  To read more, click here.

  • Give a Day, Get a Disney Day volunteer promotion comes to an end.  To read more, click here.

  • Universal's Wizarding World of Harry Potter will be open no later than May 28th.  To read more, click here.
DIS Updates
Meet The Mods

disney planningIn this section, we will spotlight one of the moderators from the DIS discussion boards to find out a little more about these volunteers who give so much of their time to help things flow smoothly.

What is your username?
lovetoscrap (often shortened to LTS)

What is your real first name?
Laura

What forum do you moderate?
Welcome Board

Why do you moderate that specific forum?
I love to help out the new people to the forum and help them get started using the DIS. It reminds me everyday how I felt when I first signed up and why I love it here.

Do you frequent any other disboards forums?
Mostly I go to the Community Board, and sometimes the disABILITIES board, Budget Board and the Creative Community/Scrapbook boards. Of course when I am planning a trip I am on the trip planning boards quite a bit.

Are you active on any non-Disney boards outside of the DIS?
Not really anymore. Sometimes I am on Cruise Critic.

Where are you from?
I grew up in Central Illinois. I live in Virginia now and hope to never leave!

How long have you served as a moderator?
Since January 2008

How did you get started moderating?
That is a LONG story! But the short version is that I got caught up in this game called WPASADI here on the DIS and one thing led to another.

What is your favorite:
- park?
I am not good at picking favorites. At this time I would have to say Disney's Hollywood Studios. I love the Streetmosphere Performers and Fantasmic! is absolutely my favorite!

- resort (on or off-site)?
I have only stayed at 3 so I don't have much to compare, we love the theming at All Star Movies, but I also love the peaceful, relaxed luxury of the Swan and Dolphin.

- attraction?
Splash Mountain used to be my favorite but I can't ride it anymore. I think I would say Kali River Rapids because our family just laughs and laughs and laughs when we are on it!

- restaurant?
I have eaten at quite a lot of the restaurants and so this is going to come as a shock. I love the All Star Movies Food Court! Really! It has a wonderful selection for the entire family, every meal we have ever had has been great, and I love the carved meat dinners they serve and DH has to have their Cheesesteak every time we go to Disney. My girls love their nachos/taco salad and the pasta options. We are probably the only fans of a value resort Food Court!

My other favorite would have to be dinner at 'OHana.


What is your favorite memory of something that happened in your forum?

Not so much a favorite memory, but I love to see the Veteran posters that make it a point to welcome all of the newcomers. So many move on to the other boards, it is great to have a dedicated crew that want to make sure everyone gets a friendly welcome and their questions answered.


How much time a week do you spend in your moderating duties?

I am on the DIS a lot! I am not sure how much it adds up to, but if I am home I check in qute frequently. I would say probably 30-40 hours a week.

Do you have any tips/words of wisdom for people posting on the boards? In your specific forum?
Read the FAQ's at the top of the Welcome Board. Most everything you need to get you started is in there. Look around the forums for a bit before you post questions and make sure you ask your questions in the best place. Often we get someone that will ask a whole list of things in one post, ranging from topics on resorts, dining, rides, budget and other planning issues. Because it is the Welcome Board we don't have the diversity of experienced posters to really answer each thing so they don't always get expert answers.

And for everyone--Never ever, ever give out personal information on the internet! But do be willing to get to know other posters--you never know who you may end up meeting. Several of my current best friends I met on the DIS.

Recent Blogs

2010 Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival debuts

Today was the opening of the Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival at Walt Disney World. To me this signals Spring in Orlando.  This is without a doubt my favorite event at Epcot.  I look forward to seeing the flowers and displays every year.  I can remember living up North and scheduling my vacation to view the festival.

To read more, click here.

 

Constructing the World of Color at California Adventure

The hot talk of the year is definitely the opening of World of Color at Disney’s California Adventure Park this April.  With all of the excitement about this new water and light spectacular, I thought it would be fun to go backwards in time and share with you the progress of its construction from Blue Sky concept and model to what is happening today in the park.

To read more, click here.

 

The Sherman Brothers: Giants Behind the Music of Disney

For many of us, sounds, particularly music, make up a large part of our theme park experience and memories.  Recently, I had the pleasure to speak with Disney Legend Richard M. Sherman, one half of the prolific, sibling songwriting team who created much of the music we associate with our Disney Park memories: “it’s a small world (after all)”, “There’s a Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow”, “The Tiki, Tiki, Tiki Room”, “One Little Spark”, and “Winnie the Pooh” to name a few. 

To read more, click here.

 

D23 First Anniversary Party

Recently I attended the D23 First Anniversary Party held at Disneyland along with a small group of DIS friends.  An after-hours party at Disneyland…fancy desserts…all the rides in Fantasyland…obscure characters…VIPs…what more could you want?? 

To read more, click here.

 

For more blogs, check out www.disunplugged.com.

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