To the World in 80 Days: A DeVine Day at DAK

FINALLY! My conference was over, so we all made it to rope drop at Disney’s Animal Kingdom together. Last year when we were at DAK, Jonathan was totally absorbed by the scenery and atmosphere of the park, but he refused to ride any rides. This time, he was game for anything! If you’re wondering what the weather was like, just look again at that photo from the welcome show. It was hot and muggy – so much so that it took a good half-hour for the fog to clear out of my camera.

We started with the dash to Expedition Everest (though the crowd level was so low, the dash probably wasn’t necessary). I grabbed FastPasses and then Mikaela, Jon and I rode Everest together (Miriam’s back was bothering her, so she took a pass). Mikaela loved it as much as she did last year. After the ride, Jon said he didn’t like it so much and didn’t want to do it again, so it was just Mikaela and I using FastPasses to re-ride. He and I talked about it again later, and I realize now that if I could have gotten him to ride it a second time, he would likely have enjoyed it. He definitely liked Big Thunder Mountain better the second time he rode it, explaining to me that he liked it better when he knew what to expect.

After Everest, we headed to Africa for Killimanjaro Safari. We got some really nice views of both the black and white rhinos, giraffes, and wildebeests especially. And Jonathan was intrigued by the Thompson’s gazelles, the ones with the “racing stripe.” Then, on the way from the Safari back toward Kali River Rapids, we stumbled across DeVine. Both kids thought she was really cool. Her costume is amazing, but it’s the CM who really makes DeVine special. It’s not just the ability to walk around with stilts on her hands and feet. But rather, her very movement is vine-like. When she dips her head to hide her face, she is indistinguishable from an actual vine, except that she moves faster than a vine would grow.
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Dis Dads Logo Contest Finalists – Please Vote!

The three finalists under consideration for the new Disdads.com logo are posted below. As noted in the post announcing this contest, the decision of which will become our new logo will be based on three things:
1. My opinion, as owner of the site;
2. Mark Pratt’s opinion, as sponsor of the TouringPlans.com subscription giveaway; and
3. The vote of the site’s users

Our candidates are:

Logo1
Logo 1

Logo2
Logo 2
Logo3
Logo 3

Which Dis Dads logo do you prefer?

  • Logo 1 (43%, 32 Votes)
  • Logo 2 (41%, 30 Votes)
  • Logo 3 (16%, 12 Votes)

Total Voters: 74

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Friday Five: Random References & Reflections

1. A new ADR policy went into effect this week at Walt Disney World. Credit card guarantees are now required for ADRs at Signature Dining restaurants and character meals. If you fail to show up the ADR, or do not cancel at least one day in advance, the credit card will be charged $10 per person on the ADR. It will be interesting to see the impact of this change.

ADR no-shows have been a growing problem, with tables at sit-down restaurants being held open for ADRs that never show, while walk-up diners are turned away. The problem is exacerbated by 180-day ADRs and Free Dining offers (which encourage guests to plan far in advance for table service meals they would not otherwise consider). WDW first played a cat-and-mouse game with guests, requiring Email addresses with ADRs, and pushing guests making two ADRs for the same time slot to choose one or the other. Guests responded by using multiple Email addresses, varying the spelling of their own names, etc. In addition to preventing walk-ups, the “ADR Hoarders” prevented other guests from making ADRs, leaving WDW Guest Relations to deal with frustrated guests, who booked reservations with Free Dining 90-days out only to discover slim pickings when they went to make ADRs to use those “free” table service meals. From that perspective, the new cancelation policy is a good thing.

On the other hand, there are legitimate reasons why ADRs get canceled at the last minute. People do get sick. And many last-minute cancelations are caused by issues unique to being in a theme park environment – getting stuck on a ride for 30 minutes or a sidetracked monorail; overtired, melting-down children; and problems navigating resort transportation (particularly between resorts). I have some sympathy for the extended-family of eight that is trying to get from Pop Century to the Polynesian for breakfast, and faces an $80 cancelation or no-show fee. But lets be honest. The vast majority of the no-shows WDW has been dealing with are people who, exactly 180+10 days before the beginning of their vacation, booked 4 or more ADRs for the same meal for each day of their vacation. Not sure six months prior to their vacation where they will be each day, they hold places for themselves at multiple theme park restaurants and/or resort restaurants.

And so, like all Disney policy decisions, we will have to wait and see how the policy is implemented. If I had to guess, they will be fairly generous with the late cancelations for cause, and probably even with single no-shows. Much more important (to Disney) than the $10/head fee is that the policy should help to discourage the ADR hoarders.

2. The Disdads.com logo contest is FINALLY drawing to a close. We have identified three finalist designs (the entrants are being notified today). Tomorrow afternoon, I’ll post the finalist designs, along with a poll. The poll will remain open 11:00 p.m. Central Time a week from today. At that point, the poll will be closed and the poll responses will be combined with my vote and contest sponsor Mark Pratt’s vote to determine a winner. The site may be down for a while next Sunday, but when it comes back up, we’ll be featuring a new theme and our new logo (and hopefully even reopening the Schwag Shop).

3. Thanks to this week’s participating Dis Dads: Mark Pratt (prattpak); David Nicely (theduck619); Ryan Treichler (IAmTrike); Philip Cole (DisDr.). And because I don’t thank him often enough, thanks again to our Podcast Producer/Engineer Joshua Haas, who makes us all sound like we know what we’re talking about.

4. If you missed this week’s premiere of the new ABC television show Once Upon a Time, the pilot episode is being re-run on Sunday, October 30 at 7 p.m. Eastern / 6 p.m. Central. I thought the pilot was a little slow, but a high-concept show like this often takes a few episodes to get established. The cast is solid and the premise is intriguing, especially for Disney fans.

5. I promised earlier this week that I’d go into a bit more detail about my guess as to what will happen with the rumored Polynesian Resort renovation. Of course that makes this speculation on top of speculation, but hey, it’s all in fun anyway. So here’s my guess. I think Disney will take the opportunity to achieve multiple ends with the Poly renovation – revamp the Great Ceremonial Hall, preserve the existing look and feel of the longhouses, bring DVC to the Poly, and build a connection between WDW and the new Aulani Resort in Hawaii.

How do they do it? Completely demolish the existing GCH. Rather than rebuild as it was, the new “GCH” gets built modeled after the design of Aulani. The first two floors could continue to house check-in, concierge services, stores, and restaurants just like they do now. But starting with the third floor, and going as high as they decide to build, the main building could house DVC rooms – at least half of which would have beautiful views of the Seven Seas Lagoon and the Magic Kingdom. If they wanted to, they could even move the Concierge Lounge rooms into the main building, instead of the Hawaii longhouse (giving the lounge access to the larger, brand-new kitchens being used by the other restaurants), perhaps with a Concierge Lounge adjacent to a DVC-exclusive Lounge – both with stunning views of Wishes and the Electric Water Pageant at night. That would allow the Hawaii and Tonga longhouses to be renovated into standard Polynesian rooms, increasing its capacity as a Deluxe Resort.

An Aulani-type high-rise is much more in keeping with what a “Polynesian hotel” really looks like, while the longhouses would continue to evoke the feel of the more remote islands. At this point, it is all speculation on top of rumor, and the expected October 24 announcement from WDW never came. But I’m still excited to see what, if anything, comes of it.

WDW Tours: Podcast Episode 17

Host: Aaron Rittmaster (AJRitz)
Panel: CJ Fragola (cj9200) and Chris Carroll (DisDadDoc)

in Episode 17, we discuss the various guided tour opportunities available at Walt Disney World. The panelists offer detailed descriptions of their tour experiences (especially the Epcot dive tours and Wild Africa Trek at Disney’s Animal Kingdom). Along the way, CJ Fragola took the hotseat to answer the Dis Dads 10 Questions.

For pricing and reservations for guided tours see the Walt Disney World Resort website.

Note: The DiveQuest and Aqua Tour experiences in the Living Seas at Epcot are currently on hiatus, while issues affecting the health of the tank are being addressed.

To The World in 80 Days: Low Crowds = Worn Out Kids

Thursday, September 22 was an Epcot Day. Once again, Miriam and the Kids headed to the park for park opening while I headed to a day of meetings. I had prepared a touring plan for them, but the crowd level at Epcot on that day (according to TouringPlans.com) was a 1.1. That means that attraction wait times were in the lowest 11% of Epcot wait times for the year, and Miriam says that she could tell. The park almost felt empty. They cruised from attraction to attraction with almost no wait. I’ll edit later and add PhotoPass pictures to this post, but they were moving from one attraction to the next so quickly, that Miriam didn’t stop to take pictures. The plan was to attack the West side of the park, but with no lines, there wasn’t much attention paid to the plan. Mikaela LOVES Mission:Space, and Jonathan was excited that he was tall enough to ride this time. Mikaela managed to talk Miriam into going with them on Mission: Space Orange – Miriam immediately texted me that she was never riding that one again!! But Mikaela and Jonathan loved it.
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