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I got an email last week from someone asking why I never comment on anything negative about Disney. Frankly, I thought it was pretty obvious why both in that I am clearly a fan and in the fact that it’s my job to talk about all of the fantastic things! That said, in the interest of being fair I figured I would jot down a list of the top 5 things I hate about Disney.
1) Total Immersion – From the time my family and I check in to our Disney resort until we are far enough down the road that we no longer see the purple road signs indicating we are on Disney property it’s like the rest of the world ceases to exist. There are no newspapers at our door, no CNN playing while we wait for a table, no sitting around watching the evening news. We go for an entire week without hearing about the economy or any other “uplifting news.” While we are occupying Main Street, we won’t hear anything about occupying Wall Street. Go a week without the news telling us how bad everything is and spend that week having fun and you just might start to feel happy and hopeful…and we all know how dangerous that can be! I hate Disney provides an idyllic environment for us during our stay; an environment where nothing matters except spending time having fun with our family.
2) Unnaturally clean – Have you ever noticed a startling lack of napkins, food wrappers, drink lids, receipts and other such items on the ground in the theme parks? Everywhere else that people gather in such large numbers you’ll find assorted debris on the ground leaving evidence of their activities. Not at Disney parks. Thanks to an abundance of trash cans strategically placed not more than 27 steps apart thanks to Walt Disney’s own meticulous research and cast members carrying “trash grabbers” to snatch up anything that finds its way to the ground between trash cans, the walkways at Disney theme parks are remarkably trash-free. It’s freaky! This sets an unfair standards for other theme parks. When we go to a local amusement park even my 9-year-old son, whose room bears a shocking resemblance to the aftermath of a category 4 tornado say “this just isn’t Disney.” Haven’t they heard that it’s not fair to these other parks? I hate that in their attention to detail, even 40 years after the park opened Disney maintains the standard of a clean, happy environment for families that Walt Disney envisioned.
3) Customer service - Speaking of unfair to other amusement parks, can we talk about customer service for a minute? We live in a world where I scan my own groceries at the self-check-out. Where when I visit our local amusement park a “friendly” 16-year-old has to finish texting her BFF before she can ring up our lunch order. By contrast, at Disney World cast members are instructed not to point with one finger when asked where the closest bathroom is. They use two fingers because pointing can be seen as rude. They go out of their way to make sure that my family has a great experience every day of our vacation. A girl can get used to that, and I hate that it means that I may just forget to say “you’re welcome” to self check out machine at Kroger when it thanks me for being a loyal customer!
While hurricane Irene decided not to pay a visit to Orlando this week, we are now entering hurricane season for Central Florida. If you are traveling during hurricane season, it is a good idea to make sure you are familiar with the current hurricane policy for Walt Disney World vacation packages booked through the Walt Disney Travel Company. Note that this policy applies for packages booked by individuals or by travel agents on your behalf . It only applies to Magic Your Way Packages booked via the Walt Disney Travel Company. Room only reservations, group, sports or convention reservations do not apply.
The official 2011 hurricane policy states that:
“If a hurricane warning is issued by the National Weather Service for the Orlando area or your place of residence no more than 7 days before your arrival at Walt Disney World, you may change or cancel your reservation without any of the normal change or cancellation fees imposed by Disney. If you choose to reschedule, all amounts paid toward the original vacation package will be applied to the new package dates. However, any discounts or promotions may be lost if they are not applicable or available on your new travel date.”
This policy only covers the Walt Disney World portion of your vacation. Airlines and any other “add ons” to your package will have their own separate policy.
It is also important to note that this policy applies only to vacation packages and not to special events or dining experiences. In other words, if you have HoopDeeDoo Review or Cinderella’s Royal Table reservations, cancelling or changing your vacation package does not cancel these reservations as well. You’ll need to cancel those individually or be subject to their cancellation penalties. If you must cancel or change your vacation due to a named storm after your cancellation window has passed, asked to speak to a guest services representative and explain the situation.
Contact your travel agent with any questions regarding this or any Magic Your Way package policy.
“To all who come to this happy place: Welcome. Disneyland is your land. Here age relives fond memories of the past…and here youth may savor the challenge and promise of the future. Disneyland is dedicated to the ideals, the dreams, and the hard facts that have created America…with the hope that it will be a source of joy and inspiration to all the world.”
- Walt Disney
Dedication of Disneyland, July 17, 1955
56 years ago today, July 18, 1955, in what was at the time the “small town” of Anaheim, CA the general public was welcomed in to a Disney park for the very first time. The park was officially opened and dedicated on July 17th.
Walt Disney created his original theme park to be a place parents and children could enjoy quality family time and have fun together. Today, millions of families have cherished memories of their visits not only to the original Disneyland park, but to Disney parks and resorts around the world.
Original plans called for Disneyland to be a park for employees of Disney’s studios, a 45 acre park with a budget of approximately $9 million but Walt’s vision was never small! As Disneyland moved from an abstract concept into its opening day reality, it became a 160 acre park costing around $17 million that was to be open to the public.
There were many detractors who told Walt there was no place for such a park; it was a bad business decision. It was referred to as “Walt’s Folly.” Many told him people wouldn’t come, but come they did! Even an opening day plagued with problems that led to harshly critical reviews by reporters invited to attend didn’t deter Walt! Only seven weeks after opening day, the 1,000,000th guest passed through the gates of Disneyland. By only it’s second year Disneyland was turning a profit.
You can view the entire Disneyland dedication ceremony in the video below.
We are all thankful that Walt didn’t listen to those detractors; that his vision carried him forward. That vision and leap of faith opened the door for what is now a huge “empire” providing family fun and magic not just in Anaheim, CA but at Walt Disney World in Orlando, FL (which celebrates its 40th anniversary on October 1, 2011), at Disneyland parks in Paris, Tokyo, Hong Kong and soon to be Shanghai, onboard 3 (soon to be 4!) cruise ships, on Adventures by Disney vacations at some of the world’s most exciting locations, and resorts in Vero Beach, FL, Hilton Head, SC and Ko Olina, Hawaii.
Yes, it may have all started with a mouse, but many thanks go to the man behind the mouse who had the foresight to stick to his dreams and see them through. He embodied the lesson taught to generations of children by Jiminy Cricket:
When you wish upon a star
Makes no difference who you are
Anything your heart desires
Will come to you
If your heart is in your dream
No request is too extreme
When you wish upon a star
As dreamers do
Fate is kind
She brings to those who love
The sweet fulfillment of
Their secret longing
Like a bolt out of the blue
Fate steps in and sees you through
When you wish upon a star
Your dreams come true.
Thanks for the memories, Walt!
You’ve saved and planned and looked forward to your Walt Disney World vacation for some time now. All of your mental images for the trip have blue skies and puffy white clouds. So what do you do when the reality is grey skies, black clouds and rain? Your best bet is to grab a poncho and keep on going! We’ve put together some of our Top Tips for Rainy Day Fun at Walt Disney World!
My oldest son, Brandon, and I just returned for a quick trip to Orlando where we took some time to check out what’s new at Walt Disney World and to experience the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios. As with all of our trips, I kept an eye on the forecast for Orlando for 10 days or so before our departure. Typical of summer in Orlando, every day had the little thunderstorm icon with a note that said “chance of afternoon or evening thunderstorms.” It’s par for the course for summer months in Central Florida! Most days we had lots of clouds and occasional sprinkles but on our last day we were treated to an all out storm!
If you find one (or more) of your vacation days will be a bit soggy, take heart; Disney can still be fun even in the rain! Keep in mind that Central Florida has always had a good amount of rain and the good folks at Disney Imagineering knew this when they designed the parks. Ever wonder why the majority of Disney’s rides and attractions are inside? You’ll be happy they made that decision when you can keep right on going with your theme park fun in the rain.
Here are our Top Tips for Rainy Day Fun at Walt Disney World: Continue reading
The hot Florida sun – it’s as synonymous with a Disney vacation as Mickey Mouse. With an average temperatures in the mid-90s (and highs that go even higher!), summer in Orlando can be brutal on vacationers.
From finding air-conditioned shows or attractions that cool you down (some without water!) to what you should bring with you and even the one piece of advice everyone else gives that you should DEFINITELY ignore (trust me, you’ll thank me later!) here are my “top tips” for beating the heat on your Walt Disney World vacation…
Can you keep a secret? or two?
I’ve been invited to learn more about some of the youth education options at Walt Disney World. Not being the type to turn down the opportunity to visit Mickey, the vacation planning wheels started turning. End result: I’ll be taking my oldest son on a short and sweet trip, just the two of us, in a couple of weeks. That’s secret number one…he has no idea! He won’t find out until we are already at the airport. I love surprises! My middle son will be at Webelos Encampment with his cub scout den that week so it worked out perfectly (don’t worry…he’ll get his weekend of fun while my oldest is at boy scout camp too!).
Secret number two…you can’t tell Mickey but we’re going to be splitting our time and visiting Harry Potter while we are there too!
I have to admit, this Harry Potter side trip is as much for me as it is for my son. We are both fans of the books and movies but I think I am the bigger Potter nerd of the two of us. I can’t wait to check out everything that the Wizarding World of Harry Potter has to offer.
There will be a lot of first for us on this trip. I’ve started my laundry list of things we need to check out, photograph, document and just test out in general. We’ll make a game of it and consider it a scavenger hunt of sorts!
This will be a working vacation for both of us. My son will be serving as a junior reporter, a role he requested recently and will share his insight on both Universal Studios and Walt Disney World.
In his first job as a junior reporter, I asked Brandon to share some of his Disney favorites and advice with me (pardon the background noise – he requested we do this interview at a local park). Take a second and check it out…
Are you a Hogwarts alum? Perhaps a prefect even? If so, I’d love to hear from you!
See ‘ya real soon!
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Happy Mother’s Day to all the Moms, Moms-to-be, Godmothers (fairy and otherwise!), Mother figures, Fathers who serve a dual role as Mother, and Moms with “fur babies.” I hope you all have a Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious Day!
I’ve been thinking back on some of my favorite memories with my kids and a lot of them are vacation memories. Life is always quite. hectic at home with work and volunteer projects for my husband and I, school, scouts and other activities for each of my 3 sons. We don’t always get to have a lot of time to devote to just “hanging out” and having fun with our kids. Laughing and just enjoying giving them our undivided attention is a luxury we don’t have every day, yet it is so important.
When I ask my boys about their favorite family memories, a lot of them are vacation memories as well. Be it the scout family camping trips, trips to the beach or Disney vacations, those are the memories I will leave with them when I am no longer here to make new ones. It is treasure memories, not treasured possessions that are most important. I’m incredibly thankful for being able to spend that time together to focus on fun with our kids, leaving the rest of our distractions at home.
I hope that you have the chance to build those treasured memories with your family this year.
I spent last weekend working the Magical Memories Travel booth at the Kennesaw Big Shanty Festival. I had a great time and met lots of really nice Disney fans. Who knew there were so many Disney fanatics in Kennesaw! I loved having people see our signs and walk up saying “if it has to do with ‘the Mouse,’ I’m all over it!”
Every year when I do this, it seems like the same questions come up quite often. I thought maybe it was time to put them in writing! I’m always happy to talk Disney and answer questions like this so why not blog it too.
#5: Is the dining plan really worth it?
My answer for this one isn’t entirely cut and dry. If it fits the way your family eats then yes, it is almost always going to save you money on your dining. If you have to force it to fit, then it may not be the best idea for you. I would say that 95 of guests that we send to Disney take advantage of the dining plan and I have only had one family tell me that they disliked the plan and two families say they weren’t sure if they would do it again. The vast majority of guests come home saying it was fantastic for them and they were really glad they opted to add it to their package.
#4 – Is it better to stay onsite or off site?
It’s a matter of personal preference but I will tell you that my personal preference is absolutely, positively, unequivocably, ONSITE. I love the convenience of staying onsite. I love that I can have packages sent back to the resort if I find something I must have at the theme parks (with 3 kids I have enough stuff to cart around with us, I don’t need the shopping bags too, thankyouverymuch!). I love that it is super easy to get back to the hotel for a break when we need it. I love that once we arrive on site, there is no driving. We park and let Disney take care of the rest! I love that we have the option to add the dining plan! I love knowing that the resort will be clean, well maintained, feel safe and have better than average customer service.
I always remind guests looking at off site options that Disney World is 47 square miles of property. When your hotel says they are 5 miles from Disney property, they mean from the gate, not from the parks! Don’t be surprised for it to take you more than half an hour to drive from your hotel to the parks and then add in time to get parked, hop a tram and get to the park gates. That is not a big deal for some people, but it’s a deal breaker for others!
#3 – What is your favorite resort?
I’d have to say that my absolute favorite resort the Grand Floridian is my favorite followed very, VERY closely by the Boardwalk Inn. My favorite moderate resort is a tie between Coronado Springs Resort and Port Orleans French Quarter – I like them for different reasons so top billing flip flops back and forth! I don’t have a really strong opinion on a favorite value resort. There are things I like about all of them.
#2 – When is the best time to visit?
That depends, define what criteria determines best for you? If it is the lowest possible crowds, the answer is January and early February (avoiding President’s Day week) or September. If the answer is a great balance between beautiful weather and moderate crowds, then I recommend May (the earlier the better!), October and from after Thanksgiving to just before Christmas.
#1 – What is the best age to bring your kids to Disney?
There is really something for every age group from 1 to 100 so there is no wrong time to bring them. I personally absolutely love the age range from about 3-5. They are old enough to enjoy the parks and the rides but young enough that the magic is truly real to them. That’s the “really real” Cinderella, Mickey, Buzz Lightyear, Peter Pan or whoever their favorite characters are. There is absolutely nothing like getting to see Disney World through the eyes of young child. It’s pure magic, plain and simple!
If you were out at the Big Shanty Festival this weekend and stopped by, thank you! It was a pleasure meeting you! For all of you Disney fans out there, I’d love to hear your thoughts on any of these questions!
See you real soon!
Imagine a stress free vacation with activities for everyone, where the adults have as much fun as the kids. A vacation customized to your family’s likes, dislikes, wants and needs. Your family is one of kind, shouldn’t your vacation plans be as individual as you are? Register now for the virtual Disney night to learn more about planning an amazing Disney vacation.
We know you are investing a lot in your vacation and you want to spend your time having fun and creating those “magical memories” your family will cherish forever. You don’t want to spend your theme park vacation waiting in long lines. You don’t want to worry about if the stateroom you selected for your cruise is right under the morning aerobics class or if you have the right documentation for citizenship requirements. If you are planning the once in a lifetime escorted tour of Italy you have dreamed of your whole life, you don’t want to have to deal with crowds, language barriers or even something as mundane as luggage transfers.
Come join us for a Disney vacation planning web cast where you can hear about all of the new and exciting options at all of the Disney Destinations. Learn how stress free your vacation can be when you are taken care of every step of the way. You’ll hear vacation planning tips from our team of Disney vacation experts.
Of course like any good Disney night, there will be door prizes! Register now to enter in the drawing. If you’ve been dreaming of a trip to Disney, you won’t want to miss our grand prize drawing!
Can’t make it on the 26th? Hakuna Matata! No worries, a recording will be available for 7 days after the event but you must register in advance to get the link to the recording and to register for the Disney giveaways!
Thanks for registering and please don’t hesitate to contact me with any questions.
Complete the form below and log in details for the webcast will be emailed to you.
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I’m looking forward to “seeing” you on the 26th!