Archive for November, 2009

Walt Disney World in November – Crowd Levels, Special Events, Ride Closures, Attraction Refurbishments, and Promotions

There are some things going on at the  Walt Disney World Resort  in November that you need to know about:                                                                                                           

Crowd Warnings:

  1. Jersey Week – The New Jersey Public schools all have November 5th & 6th off for teacher-in-service days.   This has a huge impact on attendance during the first week of November as thousands of families take the opportunity to take a few extra days and head to Disneyworld.  Expect moderately high crowds for the whole first week of November.
  2. Thanksgiving Week – “Holiday Season” is even more crowded than “Peak Season” so expect very high crowd levels November 21st – 28th.   Heavy crowds can be fun because Disney extends park hours and adds extra show times but you’ll need a good touring plan to help you avoid horrible lines.
  3. Pop Warner National Football, Dance & Cheer Events at Walt Disney World – November 30 – December 12. These events take place at Disney’s Wide World of Sports and the events themselves won’t affect you but you may encounter groups of young athletes (and their families) in your resort and – during their spare time – in the theme parks.
  4. Fantasmic! (Disney’s Hollywood Studios) –This great show is no longer presented every night.  It will be offered November 1, 2, 5, 8, 10, 12, 13, 15, 16, 17, 19, 20, 22, 25, 26, 27, 29, 30 .  This is a very popular show and we highly recommend it – arrive 60-90 minutes early, if you do not have a Fantasmic! Dinner package.  Disney may add a second, later performance on certain evenings during the busiest times – if they do, the later showing of Fantasmic! will always be less crowded than the earlier one   Warning: When there are limited performances, you know Disney’s Hollywood Studios is going to be busier on days featuring a Fantasmic! show.  Afternoons will be especially busy as those with Park Hopper tickets come over to see the show.  A good touring plan will help you manage this.   Warning:  This show  is excellent but it does feature villains for a good 8-10 minutes.  The scene is fairly intense and can be frightening to small children.
  5. SpectroMagic Parade (Magic Kingdom) – This wonderful nighttime parade is not offered every night and the Magic Kingdom will be more crowded on days featuring a SpectroMagic Parade.   The SpectroMagic Parade will be presented on November 2, 5, 7, 8, 11, 14, 16, 18, 21, 22,  23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 3o.    If Disney offers a second evening parade, the later parade will be less crowded than the earlier.
  6. Avoid going to the Magic Kingdom and Epcot on Thanksgiving Day.   There is a good chance that the park could close because of capacity level crowds and the lines will be horrible.  Disney’s Hollywood StudiosDisney’s Animal Kingdom theme parks are much better choices for Thanksgiving Day.
  7. Extra Magic Hours – (Special hours only available to Disney resort hotel guest) We recommend that everyone avoid the Extra Magic Hour park(s) of the day.   Disney has 33,000 hotel rooms and no one goes to Disney alone – that means too many people are pointed in the same direction at the same time. You’ll have a much nicer time by going to a less busy park.  This is doubly important if you are not staying at a Disney resort – you don’t want to get to the theme park and find a bunch of Disney guests in line in front of you. 
  8. A good touring plan will keep you ahead of the crowds and out of the long lines.   We provide three choices for custom touring plans – our Custom Touring Plans, the 2009 Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World (book), or a subscription to Tour Guide Mike (online service) – at  no charge to you when you book your trip through Build A Better Mouse Trip.  For more information, see:

Special Events:

  1. Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party (Disney’s Magic Kingdom)- 7:00PM to Midnight – November 10, 12,  13, 15, 17, 19, 20, 29.  This special event is a lot of fun for families, with rides, a parade, shows, and fun party type events.   These nights require a special event ticket ($49 – $63  per person, depending on age and date) – you cannot enter using your Magic Your Way or Park Hopper tickets.  Ticket prices vary with an advance purchase discount offered on select nights. There are a limited number of tickets sold for each party Warning:  The Magic Kingdom will close to the public at 7:00PM on party nights.  Magic Kingdom resort area restaurants (Chef Mickey’s, 1900 Park Fare, Whispering Canyon, etc.) will fill their reservations early as people look for something nearby to enjoy after the early park closing.  Contact us today to purchase your party tickets. 
  2. Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancng  Lights  (Disney’s Hollywood Studios) – November 10, 2009 – January 4, 2010.  This is an incredible holiday light display beginning around dusk.   Every 15 minutes, the display will glow and dim to correspond with the holiday music.  It is quite a sight!  No extra ticket needed – included with your park admission.
  3. Holidays Around the World. (Epcot) – November 27 – December 30th. The World Showcase pavilions will each feature a special holiday storyteller that tells about Christmas (or other holiday) festivities in that country.  No extra ticket needed – included with your park admission.  Check your Epcot times guide.
  4. Candlelight Processional (Epcot) – November 27 – December 30th.  Nightly:  5:00, 6:45, & 8:00PM.   A large choir, orchestra, and celebrity narrators retell the Christmas Story in the America Gardens Theatre.  This beautiful production is extremely popular and fills to capacity.  People sometimes line up hours early.  TIP: Arrive at least 45 minutes early for the 5:00PM performance for your best chance to get in with a minimum wait.   TIP: Candlelight Processional Lunch/Dinner Packages eliminate long waits.  You have several restaurant choices and you’ll receive a voucher that guarantees seating at the Candlelight Processional.  These packages aren’t cheap but a nice meal and the wonderful Candlelight Processional are certainly a special occasion worth celebrating.  The Candlelight Processional Dinner Packages are included in the Disney Dining Plan but will take two table-service meal credits per person.  Call 407-WDW-DINE to check availability and to make reservations. 

This year’s celebrity narrators:

  • November 27-29 Isabella Rossellini
  • November 30 & December 1-2 John O’Hurley
    December 3-5 Steven Curtis Chapman
    December 6-8 Anika Noni Rose
    December 9-11 Andy Garcia
    December 12-14 Vanessa Williams
    December 15-17 Abigail Breslin
    December 18-20 Whoopi Goldberg
    December 21-23 Brian Dennehy
    December 24-6 Edward James Olmos
    December 27-30 Angela Bassett / Courtney B. Vance
  1. Celebrate Tonight – Downtown Disney’s West End Plaza.  Mini Street Parties featuring a DJ and stilt walkers lead dances, the limbo, party games, and sign-alongs.  They only last about 20 minutes each but are a lot of fun.  Sunday – Thursday:  intermittently 5:00pm– 11:00pm.  Friday – Saturday:  intermittently 6:00pm– Midnight.  Check on the hour and half hour.

Temporary Attraction Closures and refurbishments:

  • Liberty Tree Tavern (Restaurant – Magic Kingdom) the restaurant will be open but – beginning January 5th – Liberty Tree Tavern will no longer offer character dining.
  • Space Mountain has been closed for refurbishment and is scheduled to re-open on November 22nd.
  •  Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon (water park) – will be closed November and December for its annual refurbishment.
  • Liberty Belle Riverboat is closed to guests until January 4th, 2010 due to the Tiana’s Showboat Jubilee.
  • Disney’s Magical Express (Airport Shuttle Service) – New luggage procedure for late night arrivals.  As of March 30th, luggage service will no longer be available for arrivals to Orlando International Airport after 10:00PM.   Collect your luggage at baggage claim and take with you to the Disney’s Magical Express check-in desk. 

Can You Save Money with the “Free Nights” Promotion?

Disney recently released a “free nights” promotion that includes select dates in December.   There is very limited availability for December but the savings can be significant.   Guests staying at a Disney Value resort for 5 nights can receive two additional nights free.   Guests booking a qualifying Magic Your Way package at a Disney moderate or deluxe resort for four nights can receive up to three nights stay.   Your ticket length is also increased but you still have to pay for the dining plan for those nights, if you are using a Disney Dining Plan    Did you book your reservation under the “Free Dining Promotion”?  For value & moderate resort guests, that is usually the better value.  Deluxe resort guests may save more with this promotion.    Use this online form to contact us to book your reservation.

Free Theme Park Touring Plans

If you find this report helpful, please consider using us to book your vacation reservations or for custom theme park touring plans.  We are authorized Walt Disney World Vacation Planners and book directly with Disney so you never pay more than if you booked the reservation yourself.  Then we provide lots of help and advice designed to take the stress out of vacation planning.

  •  Help with building a Best Days Itinerary – a daily schedule that puts you in the best park for each day of your trip
  • Help with dining reservations (subject to availability)
  • Custom touring plans that keep you ahead of the crowds and out of the long lines.  Or, if you prefer to do your own plans, we will provide either a subscription to Tour Guide Mike or the newest edition of The Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World to you instead of our touring plans.  The choice is yours.

At Build A Better Mouse Trip, we are convinced that everyone can benefit with good touring plans.   During busy times, a good plan will absolutely keep you ahead of the crowds and out of the lines – our clients typically wait less than 20 minutes for rides, even thrill rides and headliners.   During less crowded times, a good plan factors in shorter park hours and fewer performance times.    But the most important benefit of a good plan is that everyone gets to ride and see the things that they are looking forward to because everyone’s priorities are included in a plan that tours the parks efficiently and effectively.  For more information see:

You can purchase custom planning services from us but most of our clients get them for free.  We accept Disney and other hotel commissions as payment for our planning services. If you’ve already booked your own reservation, it may be possible to have our name added as the agent of record.  Your rate, confirmation, and benefits all stay exactly the same.  In this situation, Disney just pays us the commission they would’ve kept for themselves.  Then – free to you – we provide you with custom touring plans that let you enjoy more attractions with less lines.

If you have questions or are interested in our services:

                * just call us toll free at 877-815-6515
                * or use the online form 

Thank you,


Build A Better Mouse Trip
Toll Free Phone: 877-815-6515

International callers: 719-495-5698


November 23, 2009 at 5:36 pm Leave a comment

YeHaa Bob Jackson Entertains at Disney’s Port Orleans Riverside Resort

YeeHaw Bob Jackson's Piano Sing-Along at Disney's Port Orleans Riverside ResortAre you ready to try something new on your next trip to Walt Disney World? If you’d like to do something fun without having to purchase a special ticket, check out Bob Jackson – who leads a great boogie-woogie sing-along at the River Roost Lounge in Disney’s Port Orleans Riverside Resort.   This can be a great way to spend an evening if the weather is bad or the theme parks are just too crowded to be fun.   If you do go, please tell Bob that Steve  at Build A Better Mouse Trip told you about the show.   We really like Bob Jackson – Disney hires a lot of really great people but Bob stands out even in that high caliber group.


What to expect from YeeHaw Bob’s Boogie Woogie Sing-Along at the River Roost Lounge

  • Expect a tall man in brightly colored pants playing a ragtime piano and leading songs that everybody knows –  songs like Hey, Jude; Piano Man; I Got You, Babe; Sweet Caroline, and The Addams Family theme song. Bob is an energetic performer with a gift for encouraging audience participation.  
  • The atmosphere is fun and energetic. It might not appeal to the very dignified but is probably perfect for people who enjoy a good time and who don’t take themselves too seriously. You’ll get to beat your chest and yell, “Charge!” at the end of a bugle call, and you might get to do the hand-jive, or swing your arms in your best Elvis style.   Did you ever watch “Cheers” or do you have some kind of vague idea of a friendly Irish pub?   That gives you something of what to expect.
  • Bob signs autographs, poses for photos, and seems genuinely interested in every person who comes up to say hello during the intermissions.  He has quite a knack for remembering names and including people in the fun.   It doesn’t matter where you’re from, everyone in the room will yell “Me Too!”  when you name your hometown.
  • The show is family-friendly. The night I was there, there were several kids present until about the second intermission. The River Roost has a bar but I didn’t observe anyone in an intoxicated state. The wait staff are available for drink orders but there was no pressure. I recently purchased two sodas over the course of the evening and that didn’t seem to be unusual. It is probably a good idea to tip very generously if, like me, you are there for several hours. There is a no smoking policy at the River Roost.
  • Cost: no admission charge, no cover charge.
  • If you want to take the fun home with you, there are five different CD’s available for about $10 each.
  • Schedule: Bob is usually at the River Roost Lounge Tuesday through Saturday nights and plays from 8:30PM – Midnight but the schedule is subject to change. I’ve  included his current schedule at the end of this email.  
  • You do not have to stay at Disney’s Port Orleans Riverside resort to enjoy these activities. If you drive, just tell the gatekeeper that you’re going to be visiting the resort for a few hours and they’ll direct you to the visitors parking area.
  • If you are using Disney transportaton:   You can take a bus from any of the Disney theme parks to Disney’s Port Orleans Riverside resort.   The resort shares a bus with Disney’s Port Orleans – French Quarter resort so don’t get off the bus too early.  If you’re feeling unsure, ask the driver to tell you when you should exit.
  • You can also take a boat from the Downtown Disney Entertainment and Shopping district to Disney’s Port Orleans Riverside resort.

Please contact Build A Better Mouse Trip with all your Walt Disney World Resort vacation planning needs.

Thank you,


Build A Better Mouse Trip
Toll free: 877-815-6515

You can also read this article at

November 18, 2009 at 2:26 am 2 comments

Great Walt Disney World Restaurants for Older Kids, T’ween, and Teens

It is easy to find dining experiences for young children at Walt Disney World.  There is a plethora of character meals and you certainly never have to go far to find a kids meal.  But what about older kids, junior high students, and teens?  Are there any memorable or fun restaurants for them?

We’ve compiled a list of restaurants we consider the best Disneyworld has to offer big kids and teens.  We aren’t including counter-service / fast food type locations in this list – just table service restaurants. 

Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park Restaurants for Teens – see:

Disney’s Hollywood Studios Theme Park Restaurants for Teens – see:

Epcot Theme Park Restaurants for Teens – See:

Magic Kingdom Theme Park Restaurants for Teens – see:

Walt Disney World Resort Hotel Restaurants for Teens – see:

Downtown Disney (Orlando) Restaurants for Teens – see: 

Thank you,


Build A Better Mouse Trip
Toll free: 877-815-6515

November 13, 2009 at 7:13 pm 2 comments

Everything you need to know to meet Tinker Bell at Pixie Hollow in Mickey’s Toontown Fair

Tips to avoid long lines when getting an autograph or your picture taken with Tinkerbell.

Can you meet Tinkerbell in person? Yes – you can meet Tinkerbell and her fairy friend at Pixie Hollow in the Mickey’s Toontown Fair area of Disney’s Magic Kingdom theme park. Here’s what you need to know before you go:

For many, many years Disney said that there would never be a Tinkerbell “Meet & Greet” area for photos and autographs because…well…Tinkerbell is very tiny and people are much larger. This creates some special difficulties that have only been overcome recently. Disney solved the problem by creating a special area where Magic Kingdom theme park guests are shrunk down to fairy size, making it so much easier for fairies and humans to interact. Some say this happens by magic and others attribute it to modern technological advances. On the other hand, some skeptics suggest guests don’t really shrink and that the whole thing is it is a trick of the eye brought about by making everything in the room look bigger. I’m not an expert on shrinking technology or pixies so I’ll limit my comments to an area where I am an expert: experiencing Disney attracations without waiting in long lines!

Long lines are a huge issue at Pixie Hollow because the fairies want to make each person feel special and this takes time. Lines to meet the fairies build quickly but move slowly.

1. If you want to see Tinkerbell, you need to line up at the entrance of the “Mickey’s Toontown Fair” area of the Magic Kingdom before it opens – when the park opens at 9:00AM, “Mickey’s Toontown Fair” typically opens at 9:45 or 10:00AM. This is subject to change so check your theme park times guide as soon as you arrive. Plan to line up at the entrance by 9:35AM, at the latest.

2. You cannot take strollers through the line to see the fairies so park your stroller in the appropriate area near the “Mad Tea Party” ride (Fantasyland area). Parking your stroller before “Mickey’s Toontown Fair” opens will save valuable time when you get to Pixie Hollow.

3. Go to the left side of the crowd gathering at the entrance. You’ll be turning to the left to go into Pixie Hollow at “Mickey’s Toontown Fair” so starting out on this side of the crowd puts you at a slight advantage.

4. When Mickey’s Toontown Fair opens, a cast member (Disney employee) will direct everyone to walk at a reasonable pace (no running allowed) toward the Toontown Hall of Fame. Politely pass slow movers & be careful not to get stuck behind strollers but don’t be aggressive; there no reason to cause an injury.

5. When you arrive at the “Toontown Hall of Fame”, follow signs to Pixie Hollow and line up immediately; you can take photos outside this area when you exit. This area has two entrances – the one on the left is for the Disney Princesses and the one on the right is for the fairies. The two lines are separate so be sure you’re in line for the fairies. You can get in the princess line when you’re done with the fairies; Tinkerbell is the biggest draw right now so you definately want to do this first thing.

6 As you near the front of the line, you’ll be asked for the number of people in your party. You’ll also receive a special “Pixie PhotoPass” wristband – just in case you want to purchase the pictures taken by the Disney photographers. Then you’ll be ushered through some closed doors to the areas where you’ll be “reduced in size” for your meeting with the fairies. This process is completely painless and they promise to return you to your regular size when you leave Pixie Hollow.

7. As a courtesy to those waiting behind you, have your camera and autograph books ready. It is perfecly acceptable to ask the Disney photographer to use your personal camera to take a picture of the family or kids with the Fairies.

8. Tinker Bell is almost always available for photos and autographs and some of Tinker Bell’s fairly friends (like Iridessa and Rosetta) will also be there. On rare occasions, Tinker Bell may not be available – probably because Peter Pan needs her help for a few minutes.

9. After meeting the fairies, you’ll exit Pixie Hollow. If the Disney princesses are a priority, get in line to see them right away. You can also see Mickey Mouse nearby.

10. Lining up at Pixie Hollow as soon as Mickey’s Toontown Fair opens will mean waiting in line for 10 – 20 minutes. Check the “Waiting Time” sign when you leave – it is not uncommon to see 60 – 90 minute wait times within 15 minutes of this attraction opening and waits of up to 3 hours later in the day. Tinker Bell’s popularity also increases the waiting time at the other character Meet & Greet areas in Mickey’s Toontown Fair.

See our expanded article at  for more ways to see Tinkerbell at Walt Disney World Resort and theme parks.  

Contact us today to plan your next Walt Disney World Vacation.  

Thank you!

Build A Better Mouse Trip

Toll free: 877-815-6515

November 6, 2009 at 10:03 am Leave a comment

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