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…)

Beating the Summer Heat & Humidity at Disney

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I don’t think anyone is going to extol the summer humidity of Walt Disney World or the dry, high heat of Disneyland. Dealing with the summer weather in the Disney Parks can make you long for a lovely getaway to the Yukon. On my past summer vacations, I’ve jumped from air-conditioned environment to air-conditioned environment, avoiding sunlight as if it’s food and I’m a Gremlin after midnight. The times when I would stand in an outdoor line, my shirt soaked through with sweat at lightning speed. This is no way to experience the parks, and I thought there had to be another way!

Last week as I watched Mickey Mouse unrepentantly douse guests with a firehose, it came to me: instead of trying to beat the summer heat by avoiding it, why not embrace it? This epiphany came by way of other guests, most of whom were dressed for the occasion in light, quick-dry summer-wear, while I was tightly bundled in my sweatbox of a full body rain-suit.

Perhaps this is not such a brilliant epiphany. Summer wait times spike for attractions like Splash Mountain, and any of the raft rides have exponentially longer waits in the summer months than any other time of year. The idea of this post does seem self-evident and like pointing out the obvious, but it didn’t click for me until I saw those guests of all ages unabashedly letting themselves get soaked…and loving it. It wasn’t just getting soaked by deranged, hose-wielding Mickey, either. Guests of all ages ran through soak pads, went on spray attractions, and just generally were dressed for getting really, really wet.

So, what can we Walt Disney World and Disneyland fans learn about how to embracing the heat while in the parks instead of fighting it by retreating to air-conditioning? Let’s take a look… (more…)

Disney World 2015 Trip Planning Guide

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Planning your 2015 Walt Disney World trip can be intimidating for first-time visitors. This guide provides free tips & tricks to save money and time, avoid crowds, choose where to eat, which rides to do, and fully plan your Disney itinerary. If you’re being sucked into the rabbit hole of vacation planning, our 2015 Walt Disney World Trip Planning Guide is here to help…or perhaps drag you deeper into the rabbit hole. Think of it as Disney 101, with all of the basics organized into the 10 most important aspects of Walt Disney World vacation planning. The information here is updated regularly (last update: July 2015), so you can be sure that none of the information here is stale.

As complicated as planning might seem right now, the ultimate payoff is worth it. Many first-time visitors don’t realize Walt Disney World is such a complicated place until they arrive, and they are then overwhelmed. The commercials make it look like a carefree world where everyone skips around carefree, holding hands with Mickey Mouse, doing all of the best rides without any problems…but that’s definitely not the reality. You need to plan.

Even after dozens of trips to Walt Disney World, we still don’t know everything there is to know, but this post contains what we do know (most stuff…not the ultra-nerdy details like which drinking fountains are coldest). While we are fans, we don’t see the world through rose colored glasses, and we try to stay as objective as possible here, sharing the good and the bad of Walt Disney World, and all of the pros and cons. If that’s not for you, there are plenty of other planning sites that offer only positive or only negative spins on Disney.

This vacation planning guide applies to the Walt Disney World Resort in Florida. That might seem silly to point out if you’re a seasoned Disney fan, but a lot of people don’t know. World=Florida, land=California. If you are visiting California, please consult our Disneyland Resort Trip Planning Guide. If you’re trying to determine which coast is right for you, read our Walt Disney World v. Disneyland post.

This page is a jumping off point to give you some background information on each aspect of your trip, with links to other blog posts that offer much more detailed information. Each post opens in a new tab, so click away as you read and prepare to waste some time reading all this. 😉

We promise that the payoff will be worth it, so let’s get started… (more…)

Top 10 Disney World First-Timer Mistakes

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We’ve all been there: that first trip to Walt Disney World and the inevitable “learning experience” that comes with discovering we’ve made a mistake. If you haven’t been there, it’s not because you’re perfect…it’s that you have been there and you just don’t recognize it.

That, or because you literally haven’t been there, with there being Walt Disney World, and are planning your first visit. If that’s the case, take some solace in the fact that everyone makes some mistake their first trip. No amount of planning can prevent the inevitable error. On second thought, maybe that’s more disconcerting than it is reassuring. I guess just know that you’re in good company.

This post takes a look at what we feel are the “top” (and by top we don’t necessarily mean “best”…more like most common) mistakes first-timers to Walt Disney World make based on various blog post comments, social media feedback, and more. It’s hardly a scientific top 10 list (as much as I’d like to think the most people lamented missing the attraction listed at #1 here, that isn’t the case), but hopefully it provides some good food for thought, nonetheless.

So what are the biggest mistakes first time Walt Disney World visitors make? The answers may SHOCK AND ASTOUND YOU. Well, probably not, but we have to trick you into reading this somehow… 😉 (more…)

Guide to Halloween Time at Disneyland

This post features tips and info for Halloween Time at Disneyland, occurring September 11 to November 1, 2015. The hard ticket Mickey’s Halloween Party will be held during this time, with tickets costing $63 to $84, depending upon the night and whether you qualify for an Annual Passholder discount. Besides this party, entertainment during the Halloween Time at Disneyland season is included in the cost of regular theme park admission.

For those considering visiting during Halloween Time at Disneyland, there’s good news and bad news. The good news is that the standard offerings during the Halloween season in Disneyland are superior to those in Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom. The decorations are better, the entertainment is superior, the seasonal snacks are more plentiful (and most are absolutely delicious), and there are two attractions at Disneyland that receive Halloween overlays (plus extra entertainment in Big Thunder Ranch), versus zero at Walt Disney World.

The bad news is that hard ticket Disneyland’s Mickey’s Halloween Party is inferior to Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party, crowds are not light (still better than summer) during Halloween Time at Disneyland like they are in the fall at Walt Disney World, and there are no other fall offerings justifying a visit to Disneyland Resort specifically during the Halloween season, versus Epcot’s International Food & Wine Festival, which is also a big draw during the fall at Walt Disney World.

With all of that said, we think Halloween Time at Disneyland is an incredible time to visit Disneyland. In fact, after Christmas at Disneyland, Halloween Time at Disneyland is our absolute favorite time of the year to visit. The only reason Christmas gets the edge is because all of its entertainment is included with the normal cost of admission, and Disney California Adventure gets into the fun during the Christmas season, too.

Note that for 2015, expect Halloween Time at Disneyland to be impacted by the Disneyland 60th Anniversary Diamond Celebration. While we still expect all seasonal attraction overlays to happen, and Mickey’s Halloween Party 2015 dates have already been announced, it is likely that the park will have fewer decorations (with the 60th Anniversary decorations largely staying up) than normal as the Diamond Celebration will still be in full swing. Please keep in mind that this is speculation at this point. For more information and planning tips about the 60th, read our Ultimate Guide to the Disneyland Diamond Celebration.

We attended the first weekend of Halloween Time at Disneyland (September 12-15) last year, and had an awesome time. We’ve updated this post with some new photos and thoughts from this year’s festivities, so let’s take a look at Halloween Time at Disneyland, sharing some of our tips and reviews for the various offerings… (more…)

Disney World Hotel Reviews

Thinking about staying at a Walt Disney World resort hotel, but not sure which is right for you? In our Disney hotel reviews, we share the strengths and weaknesses of each hotel, give our opinion as to whether they are worth the money, and offer an idea of what type of guests (families, honeymooners, commando tourists, etc.) will like or dislike each hotel. Note that these are reviews of Walt Disney World-area hotels in Florida. For Anaheim accommodations, read our Disneyland Area Hotel Reviews & Rankings post. 

Each full Walt Disney World hotel review contains photos from the hotels, including room photos and photos of main areas of the hotel, to give you an idea of whether the decor of the rooms and the theme of the hotel will appeal to you. In addition to this, the reviews offer Walt Disney World resort hotel tips, information about amenities, and dining recommendations at the hotels.

We have stayed at every on-site hotel at Walt Disney World, so unlike many hotel review sites that crowd-source or aggregate information from other sources leading to inconsistent ratings or uninformed “opinions”, our reviews are all first-hand accounts of our personal stays at each of the hotels at Walt Disney World. You may totally disagree with our opinions, but at least you’re getting the actual opinions of the same two people who have stayed at each of the hotels.

We are missing full reviews for a couple of Walt Disney World hotels because we either forgot to take room photos of the hotel or last stayed at the hotel before we started taking room photos (hey, how many of you take hotel room photos?!). Additionally, Disney has been aggressively refreshing its hotel rooms in the last year or so, and we haven’t yet had a chance to stay in every new room and update the photos. Our goal is to have this completed by early 2015.

Off-site and third party hotels at Walt Disney World like the Swan & Dolphin, Waldorf Astoria Orlando, Four Seasons Resort Orlando, Downtown Disney Resort Area Hotels, and other similar hotels are next on our list of places to start staying at and reviewing, so check back regularly and stay tuned for those reviews.

Below we have blurbs with quick-hit pros and cons of each Walt Disney World hotel if you just want basic information. If you want to know more about each hotel and see Walt Disney World hotel photos, click the name of the hotel to go to its full review! (more…)