Monday, March 31, 2014

Kingdom Keepers #7 Release and Signing #kk7tour


This week, a new book will be out that many Disney fans have been awaiting!  The 7th and final book of the Kingdom Keepers series:  The Insider will release on April 1st.  The author, Ridley Pearson came out to Walt Disney World and Disneyland for Pre-Release sales and Book Signings.  On the East Coast, Ridley was at the Art of Disney in Downtown Disney Wednesday and at the Writer's Stop in Hollywood Studios on Thursday.  Just so you know how Book Signings go at Walt Disney World:  You must purchase your book on site to get it signed.  You also need to be at the signing location at opening to get a wristband.  This wristband will allow you a spot in line later in the day.  For example, the book signing at Downtown Disney was to happen from 4-6pm but the line for


wristbands started at 7:15am.  After you have a wristband, you will come back later in the day to get your spot in line for the signing.  I went to the book signing in Hollywood Studios and was at the park entrance at 7:15am with a

few friends...and we were not the first ones there for the signing even though the park did not even open until 9am.  Ridley Pearson is a very popular author and the Kingdom Keeper series has been a a best selling series from kids to adult!  I was honored to meet Ridley Pearson on the WDW Radio Cruise on the Disney Fantasy last November.  He is not only a fantastic author but a wonderful person to speak with as well!  He was actually writing THIS BOOK while on our cruise and we would see him with his laptop working away while we all played.  If you are a Disney fan, no matter what your age is and haven't read any of these books, I would highly recommend you start with the first book to get to know the characters.  

You will love the excitement of the adventures that these characters go through after the parks close when the bad characters try to take control of this magical place!  The series takes our characters through the parks at Walt Disney World (even into a Water Park), Disney Cruises and the newest and last book of the series takes us to Disneyland...where the Disney Park story began.  This best-selling series truly has some intense moments and keeps you hanging onto every word at times.  Plus, after you begin reading the series, you may even be looking for "Overtakers" and watching the animatronic characters on rides just a little closer when you are in the Disney Parks, just in case you need to help Finn and the others keep the GOOD characters in control.  Thankfully on this quest, I was happy to bump into the amazing mind that created it all...again.  I was so thankful to have purchased my book the week before it came out and even more honored to have Ridley sign it.  Here's hoping that you enjoy it too!  I'm a Keeper!









Tuesday, March 25, 2014

AMC Downtown Disney 24 - rainy day ideas at Walt Disney World


Add caption
I truly appreciate living MY dream, which means that even the smaller moments in life, like going to a movie can include that special Disney magic!  This still makes me skip and sing a happy song at the thought.  I've seen a few movies at the AMC Downtown Disney 24.  It's more than just a movie theater.  This 24-Theatre Complex has the movie schedule online where you could purchase through Fandango.  Also, check for discounts like Annual Passholder, Cast Member, DVC or Disney Visa cardholder discounts which are always subject to change.  I know that for the matinee that I went to recently was $11 online through Fandango with no special discounts - so the prices are comparable to other theaters.  But evening prices are higher.  This place has "ETX" which is an enhanced theatre experience with larger screens, higher quality HD audio and really large comfy rocker-style stadium seats.  In the "Fork & Screen Dine-In Theatre" - servers bring food and drink to your seat.  If you would like, you can even get alcoholic drinks during your movie from MacGruffins Bar & Lounge.  There are also theatres that do not include the Fork & Screen feature.  From my personal experience, I would not go to this particular theatre "for the food" - but it is a nice bonus to have your dinner & a movie together.  This would truly be a GREAT "saving a rainy day" plan on your Disney ticket if you want to do a movie, bowling at Splitsville and having a great time at Downtown 


Disney.  If you happen to come with your family, it's a great place to rest inside the air-conditioned, dry spot for adults to have some dark, restful time when everyone can enjoy a good show with higher quality sound and larger screens than you may normally see at home.  So, in case you thought there wasn't enough to do when visiting Walt Disney World, add another item to your list.  Even if it's on the rainy day backup list, keep in mind the AMC Downtown Disney 24.  It could save your day and add a little piece of magic to your trip.      

Sunday, March 16, 2014

102 Ways to Save Money For and At Walt Disney World - by Lou Mongello

I enjoy passing along fun experiences to help you feel a little closer to the magic of Disney, no matter where you may be.  I recently read a book about ways to save money at Walt Disney World, which means that YOU could have more Disney fun on your next trip!
"102 Ways To Save Money For and At Walt Disney World" by Lou Mongello shares current tips that he has learned throughout his years of visiting and compiling Disney information since 1971.  Lou has written 2 Walt Disney World Trivia Books, Audio Guides, and is the Host of the WDW Radio Podcast which has been voted the current Best Travel Podcast (and has held that role from 2006-2013).  He's a great source of Disney knowledge and he shares his tips with you in his latest book.
Why 102 ways to save money instead of the "normal" 101?  Well, in Disney terminology, Cast Members (Disney employees) have codes and the "normal" 101 ways to do anything just would not work for serious Disney enthusiasts.  You see, when an attraction is "101," it means the attraction is closed and/or not properly functioning.  When the attraction is "102" that means it's back up and running...just as Lou hopes your vacation planning should be after you read this book.  
In this book, you'll learn the basics of what to know before you go:
What to pack, best time of year for you to visit, tickets, resorts, dining, shopping and so much more.  This book is most helpful to show people ways to go to Walt Disney World and get the most value out of your vacation budget.  Even I learned some tips that will save money after my 14 years and countless visits to my favorite place!  Many new Disney vacationers don't realize the size and magnitude of this magical place.  The book is filled with great website links that will also help in your prep.  I have personaally enjoyed the in-depth statistics about the Disney Resorts as well as listing websites to go for Disney Discount Codes and the amount of percent you can save by following his tips.  Web links are so helpful, as they are always updated with the most current information and Lou does a live show every Wednesday night on the Internet where you are welcome to watch the latest news & information...and you can even ask him questions personally by creating a FREE User Name & Password through UStream.  

It can be a little overwhelming once you get here and may not have realized there are 4 theme parks, 2 water parks, 23 resort hotels, 4 18-hole golf courses, 2 miniature golf courses, marinas and sports activities to be enjoyed throughout the property, dining/dinner show options, shopping, entertainment, DisneyQuest (a 5-floor Gaming paradise).

I know from personal experience that my first trip to Walt Disney World could have been so much better if I knew the tips of time and money-savers that I know today.  Let this book help you to make the most out of your vacation dollars and your trip to Walt Disney World, whether you're there for a day or a week.  Another great feature is that you can purchase this as an E-Book to take it with you anywhere while you are preparing for your trip.  The book is available online by following this link: www.Disney102.com as well as on Amazon & Kindle.  

Monday, March 10, 2014

Festival of Fantasy: New Parade in the Magic Kingdom





There's a new parade in town and it's absolutely breathtaking!  Sunday, March 9, 2014, felt like a magical day from the moment I got to Walt Disney World!  From the Cast Members waving at our Monorail as we passed through the Contemporary Resort to the "Sanitation Artist" adding some fun, familiar faces to the street with water as we entered the Magic Kingdom.  Plus, I truly had to smile at seeing all the "Dapper" costumes as guests were celebrating "Dapper Day" - the one day a year in the Magic Kingdom when many guests pull out their most "dapper" vintage clothing.  The special day is celebrated in other Disney locations on other days as well & you can find out more by going to www.DapperDay.com
But the BIG MOMENT for me was that I was able to see the first showing of the Festival of Fantasy Parade in the Magic Kingdom.  Some people started lining up at park opening for prime spots.  Before 11:20am, the Heroes Parking Lot was Closed, due to capacity.  So, around 11:30am I got in my spot and am thankful that I did because the area already starting to get prime locations filled.  The Festival of Fantasy Parade does allow Fastpasses - which allows you to stand in a certain roped off area and since only a certain number of people are allowed to get Fastpasses for your area, you actually don't have to line up so early for a good spot.


 I actually had a Fastpass for the parade, but I was a bit confused about the direction, as it had the parade time at 3pm, but when I clicked in for a Fastpass it showed that my Fastpass time was at 4pm at the Plaza Garden.  I felt like I had a better spot, so I didn't even try it.  I heard a few people say they made a Fastpass for the parade right away when they released the opening day, but their plan disappeared.  Fastpass + is still in it's testing phase and is a very technologically advanced feature.  I believe this is why they are still slow at releasing to all Passholders and Cast Members - because those are the people who will use it the most and they still have a few quirks to work
through...but I was thrilled with my spot for the parade by arriving early.  This parade is the most amazing parade I have ever seen in my life!  I still can't get over the amazing costume designs, choreography and Fire-Breathing Dragon!  Wow!  You'll see Princesses through the years from the first:  Snow White through the latest:  Anna & Elsa from Frozen.   I look forward to seeing this parade many more times and I am sure that I will be thrilled and excited for the enchantment that this parade adds to the Magic Kingdom!  I hope you will enjoy it as well!










Friday, March 7, 2014

Fastpass + Dining Experience testing at Be Our Guest Restaurant in Walt Disney World


 I recently received an invitation to test Fastpass + for dining at Be Our Guest Restaurant in the Magic Kingdom.  I was allowed to book lunch through a link in an Email that I received from Walt Disney World.  I was thrilled to participate in this test.  They gave me a 30 minute window of showing up and I could pre-order meals for my party.
I had some last minute changes and tried to make them online, but couldn't figure out how, so I tried calling the Disney Dining phone number.  For the lunch testing, Disney Dining was unable to help with my changes. so they gave me the direct phone number to the restaurant.  I called the restaurant several times, but was unable to get a person to answer.  There was an automatic pickup & hold, but after the wait, it eventually bumped me out to Disney Dining each time.  I was already aware that they could not help in my situation, since they directed me to the restaurant in the first place, so I thought I could make the changes in person by coming early to my reservation.

I went to the check-in area a couple of hours early to ask them about changing my reservation.  I could change food choices but not the number of people in my party, as I had some friends with me and wanted to include them in my lunch table.  Oddly, they did not have any record of the food I selected for anyone on my reservation.  But since I had trouble trying to change my reservation online the day before, I could have done something incorrectly and lost the submitted meals.  
We came back at the appropriate time and were able to walk right up to check-in, avoiding the long standby line for lunch in Be Our Guest.  That was wonderful!  We scanned my Magic Band and went inside.  They did seem to have a nice system for his process.   
We were directed toward stations where there were two sides and a Cast Member in the middle to help both sides.  You could look at menus, put in your order and pay right there.  They link your order to your Rose (pager) and direct you to find a table anywhere in their restaurant.    It all worked well to change the food orders, and they even allowed us to split tabs within my reservation.  The cashier gave us another rose for my friends' order and said she had a flower garden under her station for situations just like this (meaning our duplicate tabs per table.)  With our meals on separate tabs, we were still welcome to sit together, anywhere in the restaurant.  We took our roses and chose a room.
I do think that this system would be a wonderful enhancement to a planner like me who enjoys looking at menus before I go somewhere and pick what I think I would enjoy most.  As I went around to take a few photos, my meal came before I got back to the table.  I would suggest you walk around in every room.  Each has it's own theme and amazing details.  I even enjoyed the theme in the soda dispensers at Be Our Guest - and as I took a picture, another guest told me that she just took the same photo.  There were such nice Disney touches throughout the restaurant.
For my lunch choice, I had the Vegetable Quiche and it was wonderful!
I brought home some dessert.  I had the Master's Cupcake which is chocolate sponge cake topped with Lumiere's special grey stuff..."it's delicious!  Don't believe me?  Ask the dishes!" I also got a Lemon Meringue Cupcake which is Vanilla sponge cake, lemon custard filling, flamed meringue icing and crunch - If you're a fan of Lemon Meringue Pie, you'll love this cupcake!  I brought it home for my hubby since he had to work and missed our yummy lunch.

I enjoyed a wonderful time with friends and we all came away with happy bellies and a wonderful time together.  I learned that I need to get used to the Fastpass + System for reservations like this online.  I do believe that it will be a wonderful system for planners like me.  I would truly enjoy being on vacation and speeding up the ordering process to get back out and enjoy more magical moments in my Disney vacation!   I also think it will be a great system for Disney to get more families in and out quicker to allow more guests.  If you take out the time to look at the menu and order, those extra minutes for each family will allow a lot more guests to come through.
  I was thankful to be a part of this test and look forward to using it more in the future.  Also, as we left, I noticed a wonderful new view of the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, which will be opening soon.  New Fantasyland has some of the most amazing views and it just keeps getting more amazing with every dream!

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

My Experience Volunteering for Princess Half Marathon Weekend at Walt Disney World



This year, my Princess experience was a bit different for me.  I've run in several Run Disney events, including the Inaugural Dopey Challenge (48.6 miles) last month.  But this time, I was a volunteer during the Enchanted 10K and Princess Half Marathon.  
People may call me crazy for that 2am wake-up call and I didn't even get a

medal, but what I got was truly magical.  Feeling the excitement as I drove  up to EPCOT at 2:45am Saturday morning, I saw all the buses lined up to head out and start picking up runners.  As I watched the buses head out, I felt the pre-race jitters.  Plus, I got to hear the microphone  checks from that famed overpass near EPCOT and the DJ's warming up near the start.  I began by helping the "Banana Group" set up for at the Finish area.  My bananas were all lined up facing the same direction and stacked nicely.  On Saturday, we were 100 Volunteers shy of what they wanted even though they accepted extra people knowing there will always be some no-shows.  We all worked extra-hard to make sure that everything was taken care of to the best of our ability.
After setting up bananas, my true task for the day was to put wristbands on the Glass Slipper Challenge participants.  They would need to wear these wristbands through the next day in order to show that they completed the 10K and get the extra medal after completing Sunday's race.  I met so many wonderful volunteers and new friends.  I truly want to volunteer more often when I am not running.  As Disney fans, we make the most magical experience out of what we have, so I was excited to see the fireworks start for every corral and celebrate every victory when runners finish.  I got to see the race winners, wheelchair athletes...and was so thrilled to have been a part of this.  Sunday, we were to park at Blizzard Beach to
check in and take a bus to EPCOT.  Depending on what your job is and where you are stationed, you took the bus numbers in your credentials and the instructions.  I was to take any bus # 1-9 and meet under the "Simba Sign."  We also had to "check out" and take the Volunteer Bus back to Blizzard Beach when our job was complete.  FYI:  You do need your own transportation to be a Volunteer, as
buses do not start as early as our Check-In times.  I also did not request late check-out, so I packed up my car at 2:45am to head out when my shift was complete.  
 By being a volunteer during the Princess Half Marathon, I had the best Team Lead ever in Kem Sprawls!  From now on, I will look at race finishes in a different light.  I have never noticed straight rows & labels facing out...this is truly "The Disney Way" of perfection.   
Kem had wonderful specific plans, got us all together to discuss each step and we had a great group even during the "fire-drill" fast paced parts of our jobs.  My task on Sunday was to pass out Princess Mesh Bags to the Finishers.  Volunteer opportunities don't "seem like" hard work...but you do  have to get up early and do a job.  In return, you get magical moments, inspiration, water, snacks, coffee (Sunday only) & I got a race box both Saturday and Sunday.  I grabbed a banana and some water on Sunday when I needed it and Run Disney does take good care of everyone.  I also got a really nice light jacket with the race logo on it.  I got to keep both jackets (one from Saturday and one from Sunday with each race's logo on it.)  I even earned a 1 Day Park Ticket for my weekend of service.



By Volunteering and asking for the fun facts, I learned:  
-  There were 3,000 Total Volunteers for the entire 4-day event
-  8,800 people ran the 5K 
-  10,000 ran the 10K, 
-  25,000 registered for the Princess Half Marathon
-  6,000 people registered for the Glass Slipper Challenge 
-  6,000 registered for the Coast to Coast medal in this race weekend.  
-  90% of the packets were picked up
-  21,000 people started the Princess Half Marathon
-  4 people were swept at mile one


When you volunteer for Run Disney events, you are a part of something magical.  I was so thankful to have the opportunity to congratulate so many people that I know after they had just completed the race and being just a small part of this wonderful event.