$3.5 Billion Walt Disney World Expansion? (Part 2)

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Current rumors state that Disney’s Board of Directors has improved a CapEx infusion to Walt Disney World of between $3 and $4 billion with projects at Magic Kingdom, Epcot, and, of course, Disney’s Hollywood Studios. We covered the substance of these rumors in Part 1 of our $3.5 Billion Walt Disney World Expansion post, and I offered my commentary on the rumors for the Magic Kingdom.

For Part 2, I’ll quickly recap the substance of the rumors, and then turn to what I think of the plans for Epcot and Disney’s Hollywood Studios/Disney Hollywood Adventure. As for the rumors, they are sourced from reliable insiders on WDWMagic, and summarized there in this synopsis thread. The main rumors concern Disney’s Hollywood Studios, and plans for Star Wars Land, Pixar Place expansion (akin to Toy Story Playland, but based on different films), Blue Sky Cellar, and infrastructure.

That’s the bulk of the amount between $3 and $4 billion expected to be spent on improving Walt Disney World, with Epcot and Magic Kingdom each receiving around $300-400 million. The rumor concerning the Magic Kingdom is that its Frontierland will receive a large expansion, which will presumably account for all of those funds. Over at Epcot, a replacement for IllumiNations is rumored, and it hopefully isn’t going to use all of that budget, as Epcot needs a lot more than just an IllumiNations replacement.

Now, here’s my reaction to the rumors concerning Disney’s Hollywood Studios and Epcot… (more…)

Tour of Disney Tourist Blog (+Giveaway)

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Helllllooooo! (Said in belly-button voice) and welcome to DisneyTouristBlog.com.

Welcome might be the wrong word. To your misfortune, many of you reading this have been here before. However, we’ve noticed an influx of new readers recently, so I thought maybe introductions or reintroductions were appropriate. I’m Tom Bricker, the sole writer, photographer, and general mischief maker behind this blog. This blog is based on my first-hand experiences and opinions of things I encounter while my wife and I travel to the various Disney Parks around the world.

It’s hard to believe it, but this blog is over 4 years old. It’s basically a toddler, which is ironic, since it might seem like it’s written by one. It started out as a personal blog where we could organize our trip reports, some of my photography thoughts, and various other op/ed pieces, but has since grown far beyond that. It’s also arguably grown beyond the blog format, which can make it very difficult for new readers to find some of our older articles.

Hence this tour. This is meant to be a quick way for you to find some of our most popular and useful articles, organized by location. Heck, maybe even you regular readers will find something you missed. We’re also doing a giveaway at the end of the post as a way of saying thanks to those of you who have tolerated us! (more…)

$3.5 Billion Walt Disney World Expansion? (Part 1)

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We’ve all heard the timeless fable in which the Loch Ness Monster relentlessly begs the couple for ’bout tree fiddy. As with all good fables, this one can be applied to real life, with the monster in our story here being the behemoth theme park resort known as Walt Disney World, the couple being The Walt Disney Company’s Board of Directors, and the ’bout tree fiddy not being three dollars and fifty cents or even three hundred and fifty million, but about $3.5 billion.

Rumor has it that the Board of Directors has given in to the monster, approving some $3.5 billion for the Walt Disney World, which purportedly will go principally to the park currently known as Disney’s Hollywood Studios, with some funds also going to Magic Kingdom and Epcot, and more going to infrastructure improvements. In this post (Part 1 of 2 posts) we will take a look at the current rumors as to what is coming, and I’ll offer my take on what is rumored to be coming and what should be coming.

I want to make it abundantly clear that what is discussed in this post is purely rumor, and rumor that I have indirectly sourced from typically-reliable insiders. I have absolutely no direct sources on this (or anything), so this is sort of like a nerdy game of telephone. Moreover, as with all rumors, until construction actually starts (and sometimes even after that) this is all subject to change. This is all a roundabout way of saying: take all of this with a grain of salt and don’t get too excited about the substance of anything here.

Enough with the caveats, let’s jump to the meat of the rumors… (more…)

Sunroute Plaza Tokyo Disney Hotel Review

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Sunroute Plaza Tokyo is a hotel located at Tokyo Disney Resort within walking distance of Tokyo Disneyland, and located on the monorail loop. From many of the guest rooms you have a great view of Cinderella Castle and Space Mountain, plus Mount Prometheus and Tower of Terror in Tokyo DisneySea. This review features photos of the rooms and other areas of the hotel, plus my thoughts on my stay here, and to whom I’d recommend the hotel.

Even if you’re already planning a Tokyo Disneyland and DisneySea vacation, there’s a good chance you’ve never heard of Sunroute Plaza Tokyo. Most Westerners who stay on-site at Tokyo Disney Resort stay at the Hilton Tokyo Bay or Sheraton Grande Tokyo Bay, which are the major Western hotel chains on-site. The Sunroute Plaza Tokyo is right next to those two hotels.

The Sunroute Plaza Tokyo is definitely much less popular with Western guests. In fact, I didn’t see any other Westerners there. I can certainly understand the preference for the Sheraton and Hilton–not only are their rooms larger, but they are familiar brands, and the staff of both of those hotels is generally better at assisting English-speaking guests.

However, despite those things, you shouldn’t rule out the Sunroute Plaza Tokyo as a place to stay during your trip to Tokyo Disney Resort. Here’s why… (more…)

Old Port Royale Food Court Review

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Old Port Royale Food Court is the quick service dining at Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort at Walt Disney World. This review features food photos and my thoughts on the menu, among other things. Old Port Royale has multiple ordering “shops”, so its menu has plenty of options. In terms of money-saving info, it participates in the Disney Dining Plan as a 1-credit counter service restaurant, but does not accept the Tables in Wonderland card for a 20% discount.

I want to start this review out with a little “keepin’ it real” for context. No one is booking a Walt Disney World vacation because they are itching to get back to Old Port Royale for another Cuban Burger. This isn’t even the Le Cellier of counter service–it’s not a place people hype up on all corners of the internet. Even Caribbean Beach superfans don’t become giddy thinking about enjoying the pleasant breeze while lounging at the food court.

This review is aimed solely at those who are going to be staying at Caribbean Beach Resort and wondering if they should skip the food court or give it a try. While I think that Old Port Royale Food Court is underrated–even a hidden gem, the fact of the matter is that no one staying elsewhere at Walt Disney World should plan a special trip to Caribbean Beach Resort to try this gem. I don’t want you to read the praise that follows and make the pilgrimage from the Polynesian to Caribbean Beach, and in the process waste so much time that you end up on an episode of “When Keeping It Real Goes Wrong.

So, yeah, this is a food court review only relevant to those staying at this Walt Disney World resort hotel. Exciting stuff. Don’t worry, I’ll try to liven it up with some big budget theatrics and hilarious* comedy jokes… (more…)

Nikon D750 Impressions & Sample Photos

This post features my real-world impression and photos taken with the Nikon D750, my opinion on it as compared to the Nikon D810 (including why I think it’s the better all-around camera), the pros and cons of the D750, and other assorted thoughts about why I think this is the best all-around DSLR for photography at Walt Disney World, Disneyland, or other Disney Parks. To that end, this isn’t a Nikon D750 review, as it’s mostly confined to how I think the camera lends itself to theme park photography.

This post has been a long time coming. I think I promised it back when I first got the camera to supplement (I think I said potentially replace at the time–that has not happened) my Nikon D810, over which I had previously gushed in my review of that camera. I originally planned a Nikon D750 review, but the camera has been out for nearly a year at this point, so that doesn’t seem necessary. There are countless reviews of it out there, many of which are far superior to what I could write.

Rather, I want to cover my impressions of the camera as they pertain to my style of photography, why I would even consider this camera replacing my Nikon D810, and why I think it’s the absolute best camera on the market for Disney photography, regardless of price. As far as the sample photos go, I’ll scatter those throughout the post. Clicking on any of them will take you to the photo’s SmugMug page, where you can see EXIF data and that sort of thing.

I won’t bury the lede. Let’s cut right to the chase with why I think this is the best camera on the market for Disney photography… (more…)

Natsu Matsuri at Tokyo Disneyland

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Natsu Matsuri is Tokyo Disneyland’s take on a traditional Japanese summer festival, and continues the “East Meets West” vibe of Tanabata Days with another celebration combining traditional elements of Japanese culture with Disney. Unlike Tanabata Days, Natsu Matsuri is a far less serious culturally, and is mostly high energy, guest-soaking entertainment. This post features some of my photos and thoughts, along with tips for Natsu Matsuri for those of you visiting Tokyo Disneyland in the summer months.

Running for most of the months of July and August, I would say that Natsu Matsuri is mostly a pretext to soak guests during the incredibly hot and humid summer months to keep them cool. Having Tokyo Disneyland decorated as if for a traditional Japanese-style summer festival, complete with lanterns and other decor, just makes sense…and is awesome.

Calling the event a pretext may sound harsh, but it should hardly be construed as a knock on Natsu Matsuri. It’s an absolute hoot. Natsu Matsuri just doesn’t have the same solemn vibe as Tanabata Days, which added an air of authenticity to Tanabata Days that I really appreciated. Had I not experienced both, I probably would not have thought anything of Natsu Matsuri’s lighthearted, over-the-top charm.

So why is Natsu Matsuri so fun? Let’s take a look… (more…)

Ramada Plaza Anaheim Review

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Ramada Plaza Anaheim is near Disneyland and Disney California Adventure that’s nicer than many budget hotels in Anaheim. This hotel review features room photos, thoughts on amenities, and a look at the pros and cons of staying at Ramada Plaza Anaheim. It also covers how you can score a deal on the hotel and its quality as compared to close competitors in the area that are similarly-situated.

The story here is one of squandered potential. Ramada Plaza Anaheim, overall, is a solid hotel and one I would recommend. The unfortunate thing is that it could be near the top of my rankings, but for some missteps. The sad thing is that it stumbles in what I consider to be basic and unexpected ways, while excelling in areas you might not expect. For Disney fans, I think a good analogy is Epic Mickey. The game has flashes of brilliance, is loaded with detail, and has stunning environments, but the camera and controls absolutely suck. (How do you not get these most basic things right?!)

Ramada Plaza Anaheim is not a Disneyland Good Neighbor Hotel, but that’s a meaningless distinction that (I think) is based on paying for the ‘certification’, anyway. If you want to know how Ramada Plaza Anaheim stacks up to the competition in my opinion (which is based on the perspective of someone who has stayed in 30+ hotels near Disneyland), check out our Disneyland Hotels Reviews & Rankings post. You can also read our overall comparison of the benefits of staying off-site versus on-site in our Where to Stay at Disneyland post.

Want to learn more about Ramada Plaza Anaheim and see some room photos? Let’s take a look… (more…)