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Bits & Pieces: IllumiNations live stream & Marriott/SPG merger

  • !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  Disney Parks Blog is having another live stream event TODAY!  IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth, the evening finale at Epcot, will be watchable on the Blog starting at 8:50p EST, or 2:50p HST.  As I have stated repeatedly, this is my favorite fireworks show at Disney World, so I will definitely be tuning in.
  • In travel-related news: Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG) and Marriott were all set to merge later this year, merrily making plans for Marriott to take over the program, while SPG cardholders like me had started to worry that our points might be devalued sometime next year.  Last weekend, a Chinese hotel company upset the apple cart and came in with a higher buyout bid, which SPG had to consider.  They had only a certain amount of time to accept the higher bid.  Then Marriott came back this past weekend with a hugely improved offer.  Now SPG must reconsider both, and the Chinese company can even counter again if it chooses.  A bit of drama going on here.  For more business-sy details, see this article on Forbes.com.
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Disney World October 2015 Trip Report Part 9: AK and MK

Last full day at Disney.  Boo!  I was determined to “squeeze the juice” out of the day, to use a Latin expression (‘sacar el jugo’).  Let us commence to squeezing!

We started out by sleeping in just a bit.  Had I known the transportation rigamarole we were about go through, I might have gotten up earlier.  But I didn’t, so I blissfully slept like a corpse in that dead-comfy bed (see what I did there?) at the Animal Kingdom Lodge.  When I woke up, I headed straight to the balcony to check out our Savanna View in the daylight.  Oooooooh, looky here!

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Disney World October 2015 Trip Report Part 3: Magic Kingdom/Epcot

Note: Terrorists are cowards, and I hope they are brought to justice in every way possible.  I feel for all victims and their families, and have renewed my determination to take my children all around the world to learn and grow.  I will not be made afraid to travel, and I hope none of you will be, either.

Trip report, continued…

I woke up on Monday, October 5th with a pit in my stomach.  All the time spent daydreaming, planning, and anticipating my little boy’s first visit to a Disney Park was about to happen, and here I was, a bundle of nerves.  I was apprehensive.  Not that he wouldn’t like WDW, but that he wouldn’t LOVE it.  What if he didn’t find it fun, or cried and asked to go home, or screamed when we tried to take him on rides?  I could kiss my whole rosy picture of future planned family vacations goodbye.  DD and I would have to leave the boys at home, or be forced spend half our Orlando time at Camp Jurassic and Seussland on every trip.  Now, we HAD had fun at Universal, but remember when I said that just 1 full day was enough for several years?  I was serious.

On the other hand, I was happy to the point of bursting.  I was about to walk down Main Street, USA, toward Cinderella Castle and all kinds of Disney fun.  There is nothing like the atmosphere of a Disney Park, especially in the morning.  The sidewalks are freshly washed, the Cast Members (CMs) are smiling, and something wonderful is in the air.  I put aside my worries about the little guy, strong in my belief of Disney Magic, and we all got ready for the day. Read the rest of this entry »

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Dealing with Disney withdrawal…

So, we’re back.  It was a magical, wonderful time.  But the post-Disney depression is just beginning.  Today, I woke up, and had no FastPass+ for any beautifully-themed rides, fantastically-produced shows, or amazing fireworks displays.  No reservations for unique restaurants.  And no MagicBand on my wrist.  So sad.

disney cry

I’ll just have to relive the experience with a Trip Report.  I didn’t take any notes while we did our Park touring, but I have the written itinerary that we followed pretty closely, and my pictures are in order, so it should be too hard to piece everything together.  Some general impressions:

  • FastPass+ worked perfectly for us.
  • I implemented a “walk in the morning, stroller in the evening” strategy for our 5-year-old, and that was a stroke of brilliance with our touring plan.
  • I’m glad to have stayed at Art of Animation, but the walk from our room in the Little Mermaid section in the WAY BACK of the Resort was pretty far (a 10-15 minute walk from the bus stop) and I wouldn’t stay in that section again.
  • The My Disney Experience App was very useful.
  • Memory Maker continues to be worth it.
  • Nothing will ever top IllumiNations for me, but the Hallo-Wishes fireworks, Hocus Pocus Villains Spelltacular, and Boo to You parade during the Not-So-Scary Halloween Party were really impressive.  The Festival of Fantasy parade was visually stunning, too.
  • I wanna go back….now!

Stay tuned for the full Trip Report, including pictures!

 

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Disney Pre-trip Report: let’s go to WDW! Yes, again.

There are countless resources out there to help you plan a Disney trip- guides help you decide what time of year to go, provide in-depth reviews of all the parks/rides/hotels/restaurants, and help you save as much money as possible before and during your trip.  I could do that too, but I won’t.  Why reinvent the wheel?  I’ll provide a list of my favorite planning websites at the end of this post, so you can check them out at your leisure.  I completely understand if you skip ahead to that list, abandon this post, and get sucked into a Disney-planning-whirlwind.  Just come back eventually!

planning ecard

Welcome back!

My posts about Disney will amount to a Pre-Trip Report.  Some of you who hang out on message boards may be familiar with Trip Reports.  They chronicle a trip from beginning to end: where they went, what they did, what they ate, etc.  This trend has a life all its own, with some reports being focused just on rides, and some just on food- Dining Reports!

A Pre-Trip Report then, details all the planning that goes into the Trip itself.  Since planning is half the fun, I figured I’d do “live” Pre-Trip Report as I plan, and then an actual Trip Report after we get back.  Here we go!


people trap

Walt Disney World 2015: Pre-Trip Report

Cast of Characters:

Me: Disneyholic and planner extraordinaire, 6 trips to the World, 2 Disney Cruises, 1 trip to Disneyland, 1 stay at Aulani

DD: tween daughter, Disneyholic planner-in-training, 4 trips to the World (1 in utero!), 2 Disney Cruises, 1 trip to Disneyland, 1 stay at Aulani

DH: husband, happy to leave the vacation planning to me, 1 trip to the World, 1 stay at Aulani, 1 Disney Cruise

DS: toddler son, loves the characters, 1 stay at Aulani, 1 Disney Cruise


My Disney history begins at age 2, with a visit to the World.  There is photographic evidence of my terrified crying when confronted with a 7 foot tall Pig from The Three Little Pigs.  Little?! I think not.  I’m pretty sure it was the Fiddler Pig, but I’m not certain as I’ve blocked the memory due to trauma. We went to the World again when I was 9, and I really got into this Disney Thing. I especially loved the World Showcase at Epcot (my favorite Park), and vowed to one day take my family there.  Other trips followed: I visited WDW twice more, and went on a Disney cruise, too.

Back in 2008, I took my family (just me, DD, and DH at the time) to WDW.  We stayed for 2 weeks.  It was my husband’s first time, and I wanted him to get the full experience: he explored all the Parks, played golf, had a revelatory meal at Le Cellier, and gradually became Disney-fied.  It was SO fun.  Of course, as soon as we came back I wanted to plan another trip!  But I wanted other Disney experiences as well.  Since that family trip in 2008, I took my DD to Disneyland in 2009, we had a stay at Aulani in 2012 for my birthday, and did a Disney Cruise to Alaska in 2013.

So, why go again?  Especially, why would we travel all the way to Florida from Hawaii to Disney World (there are NO direct flights to Orlando [MCO] from HNL, by the way) when we could fly nonstop to LAX in 5 hours and see Disneyland?  Well, Disneyland doesn’t have Epcot, which is my favorite park.  Nor does it have Animal Kingdom Lodge, the most amazing hotel ever.  And because the Resort is so huge (50 square miles!), once you are in the Disney Bubble, you are super immersed in the magic.  There’s nothing else like passing beneath the Walt Disney World: Where Dreams Come True sign and knowing you are in for a ton of fun!

wdw sign

I really enjoyed Disneyland and plan to go back, especially to see Cars Land, but my son’s first Disney Parks experience has to be at Disney World, period.  And it has to be next year!

There are a few reasons that 2015 is the right year for our next Disney trip:

  • DS will be 4 years old, and I firmly believe that my children should get to go to Disney World before they are 5 years old (DD was 3 on her first trip).
  • I really want to see Barack Obama be the “star” of the Hall of Presidents, and that will only be true until 2016.
  • DD will be graduating from middle school, and we won’t be able to have her miss a few days of school here and there as easily when she is in high school.
  • We have to move out of our current apartment in the summer of 2015. I know we will need a break from all the moving preparations/life changes.
  • It’s been 7 years since I’ve seen IllumiNations.
  • New Fantasyland, including the Beast’s Castle and Be Our Guest restaurant- Beauty & the Beast is my favorite Disney movie.
  • I’m interested in seeing how the MagicBands and FP+ affect my planning.
  • First non-Disney reason: I STILL haven’t gotten to see The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Islands of Adventure.
  • Second non-Disney reason: Jurassic Park is my favorite movie in the world, and I love the ride at Islands of Adventure, too.

So, we’ve established that we’re going in 2015….but when in 2015?  Well…I still don’t know!  Right now there are several factors “on the table” and they won’t be resolved for a few months.  I do know that it’ll be late July-early August or during the school Fall Break in October.  The trip will be a minimum of 9 days, not including travel.

Pros and Cons for late July-early August:

Pros Cons
fewer months to wait HOT
fewer attractions down for refurbishment crowded
no missed school days more expensive
celebrate DD’s middle school graduation
celebrate wedding anniversary

 Pros and Cons for October:

Pros Cons
better weather more months to wait
lower crowds more stuff down for refurbishment
lower prices 1-2 missed school days
Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party nothing to personally celebrate

I know that with my itinerary planning, the HOT and crowded stuff can be mitigated. It’s all about well-timed breaks. Though it kills me, I really can’t do much more than hope I can start planning in earnest by February. I do already have a hotel reservation for late July, though 🙂 Some of those rooms in high season go fast!  Gotta plan ahead.

The view from our Savanna View room at Animal Kingdom Lodge

The view from our Savanna View room at Animal Kingdom Lodge

List of oft-visited planning sites:

See ya real soon!

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