We spent a considerable amount of time considering morning touring about two weeks ago in this post, in addition to a review of a couple new items at Flame Tree and a second visit to Harambe Market for the Karubi-spiced Ribs, Boerewors Sausage, and Africa Milk Tart, among other things. Today, we’ll return to try a few snacks that had to be skipped last time and look at a few more menus.

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A few changes to the August operating schedule. The full schedule is available here: http://media.disneywebcontent.com/StaticFiles/ParkHours/WDWTravelAgent_august.pdf. Click “refresh” on your browser to load the newest version. The extra hour in the evening at Animal Kingdom on a couple of dates are nice for anyone planning to visit as waits only decrease as it gets later in the day. The 8am openings at Magic Kingdom are outstanding if you can arrive in time to take advantage of them. You basically get an extra hour of low waits in the morning from 8am-9am. It does complicate things for those with 8am dining reservations. My advice is usually to cancel 8am breakfast reservations when the open is moved to 8am. There isn’t much use waking up that early to spend one of the best touring hours of the day eating.

Saturday August 1:

  • Animal Kingdom hours extended to 9am-6pm from 9am-5pm.

Tuesday August 4:

  • Magic Kingdom hours extended to 8am-12am from 9am-12pm.

Wednesday August 5:

  • Magic Kingdom hours extended to 8am-12am from 9am-12pm.

Saturday August 8:

  • Magic Kingdom hours extended to 8am-12am from 9am-12pm.

Monday August 17:

  • Animal Kingdom hours extended to 9am-6pm from 9am-5pm.

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Just a heads up in case you’re planning to visit Magic Kingdom tomorrow, July 11th. The Park will now close at midnight instead of 11pm. As always, waits drop significantly at the end of the day with short waits at most attractions after 10pm. And with the additional hour, you’ll have an opportunity to enjoy an extra hour of even shorter waits.

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Disney released the February 2016 operating schedule today at the usual link: http://media.disneywebcontent.com/StaticFiles/ParkHours/WDWTravelAgent_february.pdf. Click “refresh” on your browser to load the newest version.

The first week in February is an excellent week crowd-wise. Crowds rise to average levels the following week with Mardi Gras falling on Tuesday February 9th this year. Louisiana is one of the biggest feeders to Walt Disney World and while not everyone from the state makes the trek east, a lot do, which bolsters crowds through the 11th. Crowds are well above average from February 12th through February 20th for President’s Day Week with the weekend from February 12th to February 15th busiest. The Princess Half Marathon Weekend from February 18th to 21st contributes also helps contribute to crowds that weekend. Crowd levels return to average to below average levels from February 21st through the end of the month.

In short, if you’re flexible with your dates and would like to visit in February, the first or last weeks are best with February 12th to 15th seeing some of the heaviest crowds of the year.

One thing to note about this year’s initial operating schedule is that it’s incredibly conservative, even for Disney. Check out last year’s operating schedule to get an idea about what the final hours will look like: http://www.easywdw.com/reports13/february2015_final.pdf. Fantasmic is not listed on the operating schedule, but I don’t think we should jump to any conclusions based on that. BUT YOU NEVER KNOW IT COULD BE STAR WARS LAND!

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Disney unveiled two of the turrets that are part of the larger Hub expansion on July 9th. Some new-ish walls are up in front of Cinderella Castle on the right side, in addition to the walls that still surround areas around both sides of the Castle.

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Candlelight Processional Dining Packages are available for booking. Disney has pricing and details on their official page here, in addition to online booking. While the reservation requires the usual credit card guarantee, you don’t have to pay until you arrive. The meal includes an appetizer, entree, and dessert of your choice for the fixed price, in addition to a seat in the reserved section for the show. You can read about my experience at Tutto Italia last year about a third of the way down in this post. This year, I booked Restaurant Marrakesh for dinner. Since it includes the $45 feast, the guaranteed seat can be rationalized as only costing about $5.

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We’ll head out to Fort Wilderness to grab lunch and then dinner and check out a few other things of relative interest. I had asked in the forum about whether people preferred the really long posts that cover a range of topics or if you would prefer shorter, more focused posts on different subjects. It seemed like people were saying that there’s a time and place for everything. Ordinarily I would probably lump this look at Trail’s End before or after a long post on Magic Kingdom, but it probably makes more sense to do this sort of thing separately.

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There is so little going on at Hollywood Studios that it was a struggle to come up with words to use in the title. But here we are anyway.

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As you’ve probably already read on every other Disney blog on the Internet, a Disney-World-wide ban on “selfie sticks” went into effect on June 30th. Guests are greeted with these signs outside bag check. And every driver will be handed this pamphlet at the auto plaza/parking gate. There are some exceptions:

  • Tripods that can be folded and stored in a reasonable size bag are allowed. Large tripods are not.
  • Extendable camera monopods are allowed.
  • GoPro brand name body and head harnesses are allowed.
  • Short, brand name GoPro handles are allowed.
  • Brand name or similar style GRIP & SHOOT handles are also allowed.
  • GoPro 3-way or similar style extending handles are not allowed.
  • Selfie sticks of any kind are not allowed.

There’s no difference in verbiage on the tripod thing, though there probably should be a ban on tripods that extend over a foot in length or something. Your GoPro is probably safe too, though I would remind you that nobody is ever going to watch your footage.

Like you, probably, I walk through the Parks basically wanting to murder everyone I see (“not really”), but selfie sticks have never been a problem for me. I don’t want to be in any pictures, so it’s never occurred to me to bring one, and I’ve never been touched by one or seen someone extend one out on a ride. But the ban is a general safety thing. Rides are designed so that nobody could possibly extend a limb and come into contact with any ride elements, including ceilings and animatronics. And that all goes out the window when someone is extending a rod several feet in length. Selfie sticks also become an issue in crowded areas, particularly during the nighttime spectaculars when it’s dark. They can also be dangerous when extended out during parades and other live shows.

The entire Internet is against these things, which probably has more to do with the “kinds of people” that carry them more than the act itself. And the ban probably has more to do with Disney trying to protect PhotoPass and MemoryMaker revenue than a concern that somebody is going to extend their selfie stick during the drop on Mine Train and it’s going to hit the ceiling, break, and the pieces are going to fall on the person in the row behind. Obviously Disney has done nothing to curtail the prevalent use of iPads and tablets to videotape shows and rides. The person holding up their iPad during one of the drop sequences on Expedition Everest worries me a lot more than someone with a firm grip on a selfie stick that’s being held much closer to the body. But it doesn’t matter what I think and it doesn’t matter what you think. Selfie Sticks are gone and they aren’t coming back.

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After spending a considerable amount of time looking at what’s important (food), we’ll take a look at the pools, kids clubs, and theaters on the Disney Magic, in addition to a few more places of interest. Then maybe a look at the bars and nightlife before moving back over to the Dream. Maybe Castaway Cay.

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