Daisy Lauren’s Best Week Ever: December 11, 2014

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Hi, Everyone! Welcome to the Best Week Ever here at Walt Disney World! This week we’re visiting the Disney’s Art of Animation Resort and even checking into a Little Mermaid room. Then we’re stopping by Downtown Disney, Disney’s Hollywood StudiosDisney’s Fort Wilderness Campground, and finishing off at the Magic Kingdom. There is oh so much fun this week – so let’s get going! 🙂

The decorations at Art of Animation might surprise you! I know I wasn’t expecting a white Christmas tree with every color of the rainbow wrapped around it! But the design couldn’t be more fitting for this bright and happy hotel. Want to see more decorations and a Little Mermaid room? Be sure to click to read more below.

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If you looked a little closer at that tree above, you’d notice lovely sketches all over of your favorite Disney animated characters. I actually had to excuse myself because other families were trying to take photos in front of the tree but I was entranced, staring through my camera lens taking shots like the one below left. (oops!). On the below right is a look behind the check in desk at the big wreaths that line the wall.

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So am I the only one that grew up with The Little Mermaid? I was psyched to see this room and hop inside one of my favorite movies. Now, before we even get that far I should admit that getting inside this room took two trips to guest services and nearly 45 minutes. I’d promised to update on how Magic Bands are functioning and my answer is a solid… meh. They are great when they work, but on our first day we wasted nearly two hours working on errors with our bands. I wonder if they will ever really get these working? What have your experiences been? Please let me know in the comments below.

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Once we finally made it inside, the room looked just like one at Pop Century just with a cuter decor. There were all kinds of little details in the room to make it feel like a Little Mermaid suite. Even the inside of the shower looked like Ariel’s cave where she kept her treasures. Overall, if you have a little one that loves this movie you couldn’t pick a better place to stay.

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If you’d like a full walking tour of the room you can check it out here.

Over at Downtown Disney, here is a daytime look of the old Adventurers Club. I’d posted a night time view last week but thought this showed more detail. Of everything going on at the new Disney Springs I’m most excited to see how this will shape up. I hope they put something amazing here that makes it worth closing the club so many years ago.

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Also at Downtown Disney, 2015 merchandise has officially hit everywhere. (And 2014 merchandise has officially hit the outlets!) I’m not sure I really love the new design. We’ll have to see if they come out with some better stuff!

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Ghirardelli has also gotten into the holiday spirit with peppermint bark lining the walls of their tiny store location. They’ve also been using it as the free chocolate they hand out, so be sure to stop by if you’re visiting! Another piece of advice, Ghirardelli is for chocolate and not for coffee! The lines were super long at Starbucks this weekend so we decided to try a mocha at Ghirardelli, which was an awful mistake! The iced coffee pictured below right might as well have been a milkshake! It was so heavy and sweet. Delicious if that’s what you’re looking for, but shocking if you were hoping for coffee. 😉

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Below is another view that is finally back to normal. There has been construction in the background for months so I was happy to see it put back together. Hopefully the walkway they’ve been building over the lake will be open soon!

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Hopping over the Disney’s Hollywood Studios you’ll see the location of more FastPass+ woes. We had a terrible time with our passes matching up to bands and ended up in Guest Services so long that we missed some of the FastPass+ reservations we’d made. Are we the only ones that consistently have an issue with the bands not matching up to the correct ticket? To make up for it we were given Fastpass+ for  Toy Story Midway Mania. We asked to confirm they added me in addition to my family since I’m not on the room reservation and they assured us they did. However, when I scanned my band there was nothing for me. 🙁 The nice cast member let me ride after explaining the situation but it really is frustrating. It seems like Disney is purposely making it difficult for onsite guests to travel with their offsite friends and family. Are we the only ones?

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Next we stopped into ABC Commissary, which I only mention it because their ever changing menu is really good at the moment! Below is a photo of the salmon and quinoa salad that was a healthy option and completely delicious! At just shy of $12 I thought it was a great value and something I would stop by for again. It can be really tough to find good food options in the parks so here’s a winner for you. 

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Of course, any calories saved I immediately blew on an Anna cupcake over at the Wandering Oaken’s Trading Post and Frozen Snowground. The Anna cupcake is chocolate with buttercream frosting and the Elsa is vanilla with the same frosting. This was the best cupcake I’ve had at Disney in a while and it’s going to be tough to walk by them in the future! I also found the new Frozen makeup in the trading post (below left). It’s so overpriced, but still tempting!

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I also noticed a couple large figurines of Christmas Minnie and Mickey this week. Seems like they would make such pretty decorations. I’m always careful about calling something new unless I’m sure, but these didn’t look familiar to me.

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Next I stopped over at the Fort Wilderness Campground, which is one of my favorite hidden gems on Disney property. I’m hoping to get over there for a holiday wagon ride before the season ends. The campers really do an amazing job with their decorations so it would be fun to ride through. But this particular day I was there for lunch at Trail’s End Restaurant. What is Trail’s End you ask? Well read on… 🙂

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For breakfast and dinner Trail’s End is an equally amazing buffet, but for lunch they have a fabulous menu and a relaxed atmosphere. This is not a detour for someone that only gets to go to Disney once in a while. But if you’re a Disney veteran and haven’t tried it I highly recommend stopping by, especially on a crowded day. Below left if the BLT Flatbread for $13.99 and below right is Chicken and Waffles at $15.49, and yes everything was as good as it looks!

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The best part about the Campground is that it’s an easy boat ride away from the Magic Kingdom. With the park open until midnight on December 8th I had braced myself for crowds. However, when we showed up it was noticeably slow and easy to walk down Main Street. With temperatures in the 50’s and a misty rain falling I think the weather was the reason we had an oddly slow night at the park.

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One strange thing I noticed was that my favorite clock on Main Street was covered by a wreath on both sides. I was guessing reasons why and we all decided it must have been because of the parade filming. They wouldn’t want a clock to give away that the parade wasn’t happening in real time!

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We likely would have been scared off by the strange weather too, but we had FastPass+ for Seven Dwarfs Mine Train. Or rather, they had Fastpass+, when I scanned my Magic Band I was told mine was for Splash Mountain even though we were all grouped together in the app. For anyone planning to travel with someone not in their Disney hotel room – be prepared for challenges with FastPass+! Of course, that was worked out quickly and I was able to ride but it’s so grating to be constantly singled out from my visiting family. That aside, I filmed the bast part for you guys:

I’d report more on the FastPass+ saga from the rest of the night but we didn’t really need them. Even though Under the Sea ~ Journey of the Little Mermaid posted a 10 minute wait we were able to just walk on which was the story for most of the night. That’s very uncommon for this time of year and further proves my point that rainy days are the best days to visit.

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We did secure a FastPass+ for The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh just to see if it would work and oddly, it was the one time mine didn’t give me trouble. It seems like it’s only the “hard to get” attractions that I get blocked from even when it shows I’m booked in the app. Is anyone else having similar trouble? I wonder if this is the start to onsite perks?

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I could include so many photos from around the Magic Kingdom on Monday night. We were able to walk onto most rides but my camera a hidden mostly in my bag because of the steady rain. The line was so short for Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin that we almost rode it twice! As a side note, we decided to wait in the standby queue for Peter Pan’s Flight because we all wanted to see the new enhanced queue. But after a 20min wait we realized the new queue is closed! I wonder if they are adding interactive elements?

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Lastly, as you exit the Frozen meet and greet at Magic Kingdom you’re now greeted by Frozen Minnie. She’s very pretty but I can’t be the only one getting tired of seeing the movie absolutely everywhere. I actually really liked the film, but I need a break. What do you think about Frozen fever taking over all things Disney?

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That’s everything for this week. Now let’s see what you can expect if you’re visiting next week.

Crowd Calendar: Crowds are looking good this week, just be sure to plan to allow extra time for seasonal events.

Weather: Highs are in the 60s to 70s but lows are dipping down into the 30s! I think this might be winter, ya’ll!

Remember: Rainy days can be great park days! Don’t be scared to get out there and take advantage. Just be sure you bring the right rain gear.

Here’s my top tip for this week: Give Fort Wilderness a chance! If you haven’t stopped by then you might be surprised. You can find more information here.

Do you have any news I missed or any requests for coverage next week? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below, and thanks so much for reading! I’m wishing all of you the Best Week Ever, until next time!

Daisy Lauren

I'm just about the biggest Touring Plans fan ever and still pinching myself that they let me be part of the team! I love sharing all things Disney with you and always appreciate your ideas and feedback at: daisylauren@touringplans.com or @dizdaisylauren on twitter Above everything else THANK YOU for reading and commenting!

20 thoughts on “Daisy Lauren’s Best Week Ever: December 11, 2014

  • December 11, 2014 at 6:31 am
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    I have been on 6 trips with magic bands. A variety of different people. Once during the testing.

    Not a single problem. Rooms, fast passes, linking tickets. Everything good.

    I have lost one. Got it deactivated and got a new gray one in a matter of moments.

    Everything worked fine. There are lots of people complaining, but I think the people it works for are silent. As a result, people think they do not work.

    • December 12, 2014 at 6:57 pm
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      Hi Julia – your response give me hope! We used magic bands when they first rolled out. At that time it wasn’t designed to allow on property guests to travel with off property guests. So when my parents accepted my friend request – it decided I was my Mom and deleted everything about her! We’ve struggled ever since but I really think we got it worked out this week. Fingers crossed and thanks for sharing! 🙂

  • December 11, 2014 at 6:37 am
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    We had a party of 9 and had NO problems with our bands or fast passes when we visited in April. I was able to link all our reservations and fast passes together easily. We had fast passes for a ride in the afternoon that we were able to walk right up to in the morning and a cast member was able to get all of us overlapping times for the princess meet and greet. It was done in less time than the bathroom break everyone took while I worked with the cast member. Great experience.

    • December 12, 2014 at 6:59 pm
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      Hi Shawn- that is so great! I so hope I can say the same thing the next time my family visits. We’re averaging over an hour a day in guest services and at front desks. It was so bad they even gave us free tickets to MVMCP. Thanks so much for sharing! Hopefully I’ll be saying the same things soon!

  • December 11, 2014 at 6:55 am
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    We went to Disney in June for a week. Stayed at Coronado Springs and had no issues at all with our bands. As a matter of fact, we loved the convenience of them. Maybe they’re still working out issues with the off-park guests, but for us they were great.

    • December 12, 2014 at 7:00 pm
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      Hi Lois – I love this! Thanks for sharing. All these good reviews gives me hope that we’re just a fluke. Thanks for sharing!

  • December 11, 2014 at 7:10 am
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    I completely understand your frustration. I make every effort to get to the Parks to be first in line. One time our tickets were not linked to their system and we lost several precious minutes at opening. I had made sure I linked everything online prior to our trip. I don’t stay onsite so I haven’t used the Magic band yet. Unversal’s technology is not better. We have annual passes and there is always one person in our party who has its access denied at a port of entry or Hogwarts Express. Very frustrating. One time, we waited an hour at the Island of Adventure turnstiles because the finger print system did not work properly for one of the teenager in our party. She was interrogated by 3 people and all of us got upset. I love spending maximum time in the parks. On a day with ticket or pass issues, I don’t.

    • December 12, 2014 at 7:02 pm
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      Hi Robert- Well, I’m sorry that you’re experiencing the same troubles I am. The one thing I will say is that Disney made it right. We wasted a lot of time back but they gave it back to us in Fastpasses and more. Hopefully you and I will have better experiences next time around. Fingers crossed for us both! 🙂

  • December 11, 2014 at 10:28 am
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    Oh, how I LOVE the Art of Animation! One of my absolutely favorites. I really, really hope I can go back real soon! Thanks for the wonderful blog again! 🙂

    • December 12, 2014 at 7:03 pm
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      Aw, thanks for reading Vanessa!! 🙂 And I’ll be showing off the Cars section next week so be sure to check back!

  • December 11, 2014 at 8:00 pm
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    Loved your post, Daisy. Pictures from AoA were great to see since I hope to stay there next time. I have never had a problem with magic bands FP+,or linking members of a group, whether on or off property. Sorry you’ve had so much trouble.

    • December 12, 2014 at 7:05 pm
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      Hi Leigh – I really love AoA, I hope you get to stay there! It’s a fun resort and I love their food court. I’m so glad you’re not having the trouble with FP+ that I am. I think it all stems from us using it before it was designed to use with off property guests – but I think we got it fixed this last week. Thanks for sharing your experience. I really appreciate it! 🙂

  • December 11, 2014 at 8:12 pm
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    We stayed on-site in October and loved the magic bands. We had absolutely no issues with them and they made our vacation very hassle-free.

    • December 12, 2014 at 7:06 pm
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      Hi Steve – I’m loving all the Fastpass+ love! 🙂 It really gives me hope that it’s going to get fixed and we’re going to love it. Thanks for sharing your experience!

  • December 12, 2014 at 4:39 pm
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    We used FastPass during the trial phase and then again after its official roll out, for a group traveling together, but in two different rooms. No problems in either case. I wouldn’t say that the app is easy to use, but no problems, and once in the park, we were thrilled to have it.

    • December 12, 2014 at 7:09 pm
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      Hi Douglas – thanks for sharing! I’m glad that others aren’t going through all the trouble that we are. During the length of stay we had three different hotel rooms and the magic bands worked to open the door on the first try ONCE. The other times we had to head back to the front desk. It was a mess – but surely a first world problem. We were lucky to be at Disney! And I will say despite it all Disney made it right and we had a nice trip. Hopefully it’s all worked out now. Thanks so much for your comment – it gives me hope that our next trip will be better! 🙂

  • December 13, 2014 at 5:17 am
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    ” It seems like Disney is purposely making it difficult for onsite guests to travel with their offsite friends and family.”
    Yes, I’m certain that’s it. (rolls eyes)

  • December 13, 2014 at 12:04 pm
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    We used them on 3 different trips last year. We are AP holders so yet every trip we got a new set of bands so we had lots of colors to choose from each day lol We had little to no problems EXCEPT randomly my band didn’t work for entry to Epcot. Worked fine at every other park, every FP+ stop, and every hotel door. But not Epcot. And it wasn’t just that blue band. I used every other band from previous trips that were tied to my AP, still didn’t work. Weirdly enough, my RFID AP card DID work.

  • December 13, 2014 at 1:20 pm
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    I have only had issues with the Magicband the first time I used one, during some of the earliest testing. I was glad to have a KTTW because the band wouldn’t let me in my room, and I had to have my AP replaced twice because the system voided it when I tried to use the band for admission. Since then, I’ve been on a half dozen trips, some with other AP holders not staying on site, and we haven’t had any FP+ issues (or any other issues with the bands). One question, were all your FP+ booked at the same time, or were the on site FP+ copied over onto the off site guests later? We have always made ours together at one time but I have wondered if the copy and paste method causes any problems.

  • December 15, 2014 at 10:52 am
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    We stayed onsite in October with no magic band problems. I even set up my seven year old with a $25 Visa gift card assigned to his band and had his limit set to $25 so that he could have a little spending money of his own. We had no problem using any of our three bands for either room access or dining plan purchases.

    While we didn’t have any problems with the FastPass+, I think it needs some more adjustments. We were able to get additional ones after our three were used, but it would be nice to be able to do that from the app instead of having to find a kiosk and wait in line – sometimes just to find out that there aren’t any more available for what you were trying to get. Also the tiered system is awful. It also seems that the standby lines are much longer as they appear to be loading all of the FP+ line before any stand-by, or at least that was our experience at both Soarin’ and Toy Story Mania.

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