Disney Vacation Club's latest resort, Aulani, is opening to guests today. Unlike other DVC resorts not located near a theme park, Aulani will feature Disney Fairy Tale Weddings. This has to be the ultimate beach wedding combining an amazing Hawaiian location with the expertise of the Disney wedding team. Judging from the video above from DFTW, they have some incredible outdoor locations for the ceremony. I look forward to seeing photos and stories from real weddings at the resort.
Our wedding at Disney's Wedding Pavilion was truly magical. Wouldn't Aulani make a perfect location for a vow renewal?!? Ah, a girl can dream.
When I am telling people the joys of taking a trip to Disney, tickets are always a huge topic because as we all know they aren’t cheap and they have lots of options to choose from and in that add to the expense. There comes a breakeven point where it becomes just as cost effective to purchase an annual pass but that depends greatly on the amount of time you’re going to spend in and around the parks throughout the year. Also there are passholder perks available like dining and merchandise discounts, special events, and Tables in Wonderland.
There are a couple of different types of annual passes, Florida resident, everyone else, and then you can make them premium passes for a little extra money. If you live in Florida and you’re reading this, there is a great chance you either already know about or have a Florida AP so I am going to cover the “everyone else." It should also be noted that if you are a DVC member there is a discount available for the purchase of your AP. It’s almost 100 dollars off so it’s worth having an AP for the additional 10% discount on things that the DVC member discount doesn’t cover or a 20% discount for the premium AP.
OK so you just made your decision to go ahead and purchase your AP, you’ve decided that this year will be the year of multiple trips and it will just make sense to do it. Do you get just the regular pass or the premium pass? There is about 100 dollars difference in the cost from regular to premium but the step up in perks in very nice IF you will take advantage of them. Both passes entitle you to unlimited admission into the theme parks, free parking and a subscription to the Mickey Monitor, a quarterly publication with news and highlights from the parks. If you take the premium pass, you also get unlimited admission to the water parks Typhoon Lagoon and Blizzard Beach, Disney Quest at Downtown Disney and ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex. Also there is a passholder discount at 10% for regular and 20% for premium APs at some dining and merchandise locations. Not to forget that there are special AP holder only events that you can participate in. I got to ride Mission Space on AP weekend when it first opened. That was a blast. I think I rode it 20 times before even I felt like it was time to do something else.
Now if you do like I did and upgrade your pass after you already purchased you regular AP, be warned that it will still cost you the same price if you upgrade 1 day after or 6 months after you buy your initial pass. As far as I know there isn’t a prorated fee. Lucky for me I upgraded on my second trip of the year only 2 months after my first trip so I didn’t feel like I was getting a raw deal and I had it for the second part of my Star Wars Weekends trip. Hello 20% discount. It really came in handy for the last day of my trip when I picked up a Dooney & Bourke bag for my sister. That one purchase saved me half the cost of the upgrade in the AP. So over all I got my money’s worth out of the additional discount it provided and discounts are available almost everywhere. Never and I mean never be afraid to ask. When I hit a register I always ask “any AP, DVC or Tables in Wonderland discount available?” Never miss an opportunity to save a little money.
Growing Up Disney is participating in the 40 Days to 40 Years series hosted by DISTherapy and Pursuing the Magic. Today, DisneyDad shares his trip to Walt Disney World in 1973 as a newlywed. Click here to read his story.
We like to highlight the small details around Walt Disney World. Here's another one. Just another way Disney tries to "plus" your experience. I took this shot one morning before getting on the ferry to Magic Kingdom. The earlier crowds had been treated to some playtime with sidewalk chalk while they waited. And you can see it wasn't just the little kiddos taking advantage of this art project. The bubbles were courtesy of a bubble machine running near the turnstiles.
Weather can be unpredictable in Florida. One thing is for certain, it will be hot and humid in Florida during the summer months. My #1 tip is to go to Disney World anytime other than holidays, spring break and summer. Having recently taken a family vacation in June, (clearly I didn’t follow my own #1 rule), here are some tips I’d like to pass on to you that hopefully will make the Florida heat a little more bearable.
~Wear cool clothing (shorts, tanks, dresses, skirts, comfortable open shoes). Sounds obvious, right? I was shocked at some of the attire people wore. Pants? Heels? I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt, perhaps it was a surprise trip!
~You may want to bring a change of clothes or even a bathing suit for younger children if there is a spray area they enjoy cooling off in. I know I used to have to drag my son sopping wet out of these areas. I finally learned my lesson to be prepared. Most parks feature some sort of cooling mist area, water ride, or spray ground. Magic Kingdom will be getting a new spray ground when the new Fantasyland expansion opens but the two they had (Ariel’s Grotto and Donald Duck’s Boat) are no longer. There are the tikis that spit water in Adventureland, the Coca Cola’s Cool Scanner in Tomorrowland and of course there is Splash Mountain Falls. At Epcot, there is a small spray ground in between Future World and World Showcase and a cooling station “car wash” near Test Track. There is also the “jumping” water feature near Journey Into Your Imagination. At Hollywood Studios there is a large Coca Cola bottle that sprays water near Studio Backlot Tour as well as a water feature in Honey I Shrunk the Kids. Animal Kingdom has Kali River Rapids. There may be more but these are the ones that come to mind.
~When the heat gets to be too much, enjoy an indoor ride, show, or movie where it’s air conditioned. My favorite rides to chill out and cool off are It’s a Small World, Philharmagic, Pirate’s of the Caribbean, and the People Mover at Magic Kingdom. They are a little longer in duration and typically have lower wait times in comparison to other attractions. They provide air conditioning/nice outdoor breeze, allowing for a nice break. Living on the Land is also great at Epcot! My family has been known to ride it repeatedly to cool off and get a nice “breather” since there usually isn’t a long line.
~Take a train ride at Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom. There is also the river boat at Magic Kingdom. You can also take a boat ride at Epcot or even hop on a round trip on the monorail.
~Enjoy a nice frozen treat. Yummy raspberry lemonade slushes can be found throughout the parks (there are other flavors as well). There is the infamous Mickey ice cream bar (although grab napkins because they are messy), popsicles, ice cream sandwiches, dole whip (at Magic Kingdom Aloha Isle) and more!
~Stay hydrated! Another important tip: save money and bring bottled water with you!
~Get to the parks as soon as they open, leave for a break in the afternoon and then return for dinner. This will help with crowds and heat.
~Allow time in the day to play at your resort pool!
~I consider the squirt fan a necessity. It will instantly provide relief when you are hot, especially if you are able to get your hands on some ice to put inside the bottle with the water. We’ve always been able to find ours at Walmart near the garden section. We’ve also figured out that most associates have no clue what you’re talking about if you ask where they are so you may have to hunt for them.
~Find a shaded area and sit back for a bit if you need a bit of a break.
~You may want to add water park fun and more option. It is $55 per person but you can visit both water parks (as well as Disney Quest and more). You have the option to make a day out of the water parks or you can go to one and then visit a theme park or vice versa.
~Take it easy and go at your own pace. We quickly realized in mid 90 degree weather, we couldn’t go as we normally do in the fall/winter from morning till fireworks. You may need to take a couple of steps back and adjust your plan once there. If you get to the parks early, it’s amazing how you can knock out quite a bit. We quickly watched some rides go from 10 minutes in the morning to over an hour by noon. Weather and crowds are huge variables that can be difficult to predict. Try to remember you’re on vacation and you’re at Disney. There are endless things you can do. You more than likely won’t be able to do them all so don‘t get frustrated! If you find you can’t see everything on your list, you just may have to plan another trip to hit the things you‘re not able to see this go round!
Contributed by Corby C. of Atlanta, Georgia. She is a proud wife and mom to Banks and Henley, a Disney Destination Planner with Travel with the Magic and one of our Minnie Moms.
This week Growing Up Disney is represented by DisneyDad discussing “Ways we prepare for a trip to Disney.”
As the “old man” of Growing Up Disney, I’ve been to Walt Disney World way more than any of our main contributors. My first trip was to the Preview Center before WDW opened in 1971. So with this many trips “under my belt” I, along with Mom, have had lots of practice preparing for our “next” trip. We don’t have any small children to worry about getting ready or packing all the things needed for a child on a trip. Just two old “pros” going to WDW.
Planning for the next trip usually starts about the last day of our current trip with the question: “When would you like to come back?” The actual plan begins with picking a date and making Disney Vacation Club reservations which is done by calling the DVC reservation number and talking to one of the cast members who work exclusively with DVC reservations. With DVC we can begin making reservations 11 months from our arrival date, but usually for us it is much shorter time frame. Making our reservations has always been my job until recently. Once Amy and Ridge were added to our DVC deeds, Amy usually makes our group reservations. (She has to plan for taking all the “stuff” that is involved with taking young children on a trip.)
Once reservations are made, the next step is planning where to eat!!! Some trips it is all counter service and just taking our chances on a table service restaurant. Other trips we decide what restaurants we want to eat and plan our trip accordingly. If you are on the Disney Dining Plan, this step is an absolute must. It is “SOP” (Standard Operating Procedure) for us to plan what parks we are going to visit based on where we want to eat. Once we decide where to eat (usually lunch) we make reservations at first opportunity but always remain flexible as some restaurants fill up quickly. One restaurant we always include is Olivia’s at Disney’s Old Key West Resort. OKW is our DVC Home Resort and eating at Olivia’s is just part of “being at home”.
Travel is usually not an issue as we normally drive to WDW. No worry about flight schedules, catching DME, or renting a car. We have flown but keep coming back to driving. On one trip when we flew, airport delays made the trip longer than if we had driven. If left to its own devices, my car can find its way to WDW almost on its own. I set the GPS just so it keeps me from missing a turn and I don’t have to concentrate on directions. Just keep an eye on traffic and enjoy the trip.
Packing for the trip is a non-issue too. Mom and I have been so many times that packing consists of checking the weather at WDW for several days leading up to our travel day. Once we are aware of the weather, packing usually takes us about 15 minutes each and is completed the evening before we begin our trip. Load the car and we are ready to roll. Staying in a DVC resort means we have a full-sized washer & dryer in our room, so we don’t have to over pack. Clothes are easily washed and normally when we come home our clothes are clean when we pack up.
So how do we “prepare” for at trip to WDW? We don’t prepare. We are always ready for our next trip. The totality of our preparation before a trip is making DVC and any dining reservations. Beyond that, we take each day as it comes to make the most of our visit “home”.
All this changes with taking a group and my preparation is usually limited to helping choose a date and suggest places to eat. With Amy and Ridge, we have built in trip planners. The two of them put together all the plans the trip for us so once again all Mom and I need to do is pack.
Thank you for joining me today. Your next stop on the Magical Blogorail Loop is WDW Backstage.
Here is the map of our Magical Blogorail should you happen to have to make a stop along the way and want to reboard:
Today only, stock up on the cutest bodysuits from Disney at 50% off. These adorable baby get-ups feature the most popular Disney characters from beloved classics like Winnie the Pooh to Monsters, Inc. Colorful solids are available, too, and all have adjustable snaps and tagless necks for ultimate comfort. Discount offer applies only to items shipped from and sold by Amazon.
Thanks to my husband for finding and sharing this tip!
Well hello there, it has been a long break in between these two parts of my telling of my May trip to Disney but the Editor thought it a nice idea if we all took a little break to recharge our batteries, usher new additions of the family into the world and enjoy a little break in general.
When last I left off I was going to talk about Star Tours and how fantastic it was. See here for an article I wrote for the Magical Blogorail on this topic. It was fantastic and I can’t wait till my October trip to ride it again. So much so that on several occasions I have thought about just getting in the car and making a mad dash for the weekend and seeing some of my wonderful Disney friends. If there is a couch to sleep on I’ll be on my way right now! If not I’ll be waiting a little while longer.
To the rest of my trip: Return of the Merchandise Tent, Jabba’s Hut. A day or two after the main ceremonies to get everything kicked off I found myself once again in the tent and waiting in line to help a friend pick up a DVC limited edition pin. While there I lost my mind for a second and bought myself a writing pen, limited edition to 1000 and didn’t question the price till I was at the register and it was 50 bucks… I wish I had upgraded my annual pass to premium before that day. But I bought it anyway and we moved on. I moved back and forth between groups of Disney friends. At this point I do have to say that I am far enough removed from the trip that some of it has run together. Good thing I have pictures. Check out my flicker account for all of the pictures from my trips!
In the couple days that followed I was on the go like nobody’s business, I spent time in all of the parks with tons of people but the main group for the bulk of my trip was Christa, Ashley and Jeb. Jeb is a Disney newbie so there was lots of explaining from us nerds about everything. I am pretty sure a good time was had by all. We all seem to be pretty alike so it was easy to hang out. However, Jeb and the Country Bears… priceless moments in time. I did break away for a few minutes at Magic Kingdom so not to completely bore my friends and took pictures with my 35mm film camera. Photography has become quite the hobby of mine and I never want to call myself a photographer; I just want to be an avid hobbyist. The Hall of Presidents is perhaps my favorite area to shoot because I love the architecture and have already posted about it before so I won’t go into that here.
I drove everywhere on my last trip and stayed off property again on the second half of my adventure to save a little money. Now I have brought up the fact many a time that I use an iPhone and one of the best things I do with it is drop a pin on my map when I get out of my car in the lot and I will be taken right back to it at the end of the day. I tell this little factoid, I forgot to do this at the Studios, being so excited to get inside and see my friends. So at the end of the day when I was ready to leave I walked all the way to the back of the parking lot, forgetting that I was there at rope drop and had parked one row over from cast member parking. Good job me.
Things that were highlights: Having a churro and sitting in a rocking chair watching the crowd walk by in Frontierland. I’ll never forget standing in line for 30 minutes for Pirates, wow lots of laughing. Giving a guided tour of Liberty Square, look for the musket in the window next time and the symbol of a tax payer over a back gate. Seeing the new queue at Haunted Mansion, it really is very nice and I am so glad the old turnstile is gone. Having a Dole Whip…. Just hanging out with great people at a fantastic place.
I’ll be returning to WDW soon for the 40th anniversary on 10/01/2011. It should be a blast getting to see old friends again and maybe one day I can become one of the faithful and get moved down there.
"The Epcot International Food and Wine Festival will present "a passport to a world of flavors" Sept. 30-Nov. 13, and Members who act fast may purchase discounted tickets to select wine seminars, culinary demonstrations and mixology experiences taking place Mondays through Thursdays throughout the festival. Member Services will begin booking the discounted experiences tomorrow, August 12, 2011, four days before these offerings become available to the general public.
A link within the detailed story on your Member website will lead you to more information about the festival so you'll be suitably prepared (and hungry!) by the time you call Member Services."
Disney Vacation Club sent out this message today. If you're a DVC member visiting the World this fall, be sure to check the member site soon for full details and take advantage of early registration.
So, as some of you may have gathered by now, my family and I holiday in France each year. We are lucky enough to own an old farmhouse in a quaint little hamlet called Doussac, right in the middle of the rural countryside. We love this family time and you can read more about my previous experiences of French travel with a baby/toddler here...
But next year we are going to add some something extra to our time in the farmhouse. Back in 2007 we went to Paris and although I enjoyed seeing the Eiffel Tower and The Louvre, like any Disney nut, I wanted to go to Disneyland, Paris (DLP). As we were only in France for a few days we just did not have time, so I consoled myself with a visit to The Disney Store.
However, my in-laws have suggested that in 2012, we have a dry run for our WDW trip in 2014, the first with Tink who will be 2.5 years when we go to DLP and just over 4 when we go to WDW. So, we'll be spending some time at DLP during our annual trip across The Channel.
Although the planning will not be quite as intrinsic as a Trans-Atlantic jaunt, there are still many things to look into and decisions to be made, as although Euro Disney, now known as DLP has been around for over 15 years, I have yet to visit. As you may have realised from former posts, I don't just love Disney, I ADORE the USA. Therefore I'd much rather get my Mickey fix by travelling to Florida. However, finances again have reared their ugly head, meaning that belts must be tightened and the almost yearly trip across the pond will be on a hiatus until 2014.
Anyway, back to DLP. When should we go? We usually take our family holiday the 2nd week of July to coincide with Bastille Day on July 14th, known as Fete National in France. But when should we fit our "vacation within a vacation" in? Because it takes over 4 hours to travel to Paris from the farmhouse in Doussac, it would need to be at either the beginning or end of the trip.
How long do we stay? It's too far to do as just a day trip, but would two days and one night be enough with travelling too?
Where should we stay? I'd love to stay on-site, but the hotels are quite expensive and the rest of the family won't be too bothered by the theming. I'm hoping to persuade them about the location, and therefore show time saving and less walking/driving to and from.
Where will we eat? The French don't have a lot of choice for a veggie usually.
Is it worth doing both Parks with a toddler? DLP has Disneyland Park which is similar to the Magic Kingdom and Walt Disney Studios, like Hollywood Studios.
Be sure to check in as I work through these choices and progress with my planning in greater detail. I will be sharing my thoughts and taking you through my decision making process. I hope that you'll enjoy learning about DLP as much as I will, and please feel free to leave any comments or advice on the blog.
See ya real soon!!!
Contributed by Janine P. of Swindon, England. She is a proud wife, mommy to Felicity and one of our Minnie Moms.
Most often associated with the Studios, Streetmosphere characters have been part of Walt Disney World since the very beginning.
Stroll down Main Street and you find the Mayor of Main Street, the Fire Chief and a group of Suffragettes. At EPCOT you find the JAMMitors and the World Showcase Players. Stroll down Hollywood Boulevard at the Studios and you find Hollywood Stars and Directors of days gone by along with all sorts of other characters.
Too many people just stop for a moment as if they are distracted from getting to the next attraction without enjoying the Streetmosphere characters. They are a joy to watch, but let some of your "inner child" out to play along and the characters become an interactive show that you are suddenly part of. Next time, don't just watch, have some fun and become part of the show.
This picture is from May 2006 where Mom has become part of the interactive show.
This year saw our second trip to stay with my husband's aunt in an old farmhouse in the middle of rural France with Tink in tow. She is now 18 months and loves being outdoors. She can be something of a handful. It was a completely different type of holiday from last year. Then she was only 6 months old, still nursing full time and sleeping every couple of hours. So everything we did revolved around nap times and feed times and because of her age everyone was extremely accommodating.
This year she is a toddler. She still nurses and she still doesn't sleep too well. But at 18 months, I found this was not tolerated quite as well and we were expected to fit in more around everyone else's schedule. I found this quite difficult. At home I pander to her every need. Maybe I shouldn't, but I do. Especially during the week when daddy is at work, our schedule is based on what Tink wants. If I'm meant to be meeting a friend for coffee, and she hasn't had her nap and is playing up i.e. won't sit in her buggy or high chair, then I cancel. For the sake of her happiness for such a short time of her life, I'm ok with this.
But spending a lot of money on a holiday with grandparents and a great-aunt meant it was much harder for me to say, "No thanks, we'll just stay in today, you guys go without us."
I can't be the only person who has been through this.
Lots of families holiday together.
And if you've spent a fortune on it, e.g. a trip to somewhere like WDW, especially if you've been treated to it by a family member, it can make for difficult decisions.
Do you risk angering your relatives and missing out on things, so that your toddler sticks to their routine? Or do you keep the peace and go out for longer, miss nap times, usual meal times etc. at the expense of a unhappy child?
What is the right thing to do?
I ended up doing a mixture of both.
Tink had been quite unwell just a couple of days before we went away, so for the first few days I insisted she stuck to her usual nap times and routine as much as possible, to suit her. We did take her out one afternoon after her nap on the first day, which was incredibly hot and humid, in the 30's so hot enough to rival WDW, and it was a nightmare. We went to my favourite town (Mont Morillon) and to my favourite tea room. But it did not go well. She screamed in the car, she cried in her pushchair (so much so that a couple of people left the tea room), she wailed all the way home. She wanted mummy and mummy only. She wanted to be held and to nurse and nothing else.
So we stayed in the house and its huge gardens for the next few days.
But by the following weekend, the rest of the family were getting restless and wanted to venture out, and for it to be family day trips.
Tink did really well on these outings. She loved going to the traditional markets and smiling/waving at everyone. She does not often sleep well in the car in the UK but on these long days she did us proud by having a peaceful nap in her carseat. She also walked about on her reins or sat in her pushchair when she was tired enough quite happily. Was I pleased with this though? Did I relax and enjoy myself? Of course not. Every time she missed her usual nap time, meal time I fretted and worried that she would have an episode. I got so upset one day that I burst into tears in the middle of lunch.
Luckily this passed and by almost the end of the stay I was able to do something that I hadn't done in the entire 18 months since we had Tink. I let the grandparents take her out for a couple of hours. To put this into context, I have left her before, for a few hours here and there, either with daddy one of our parents, but it's always been at home. They've never 'gone off' with her before. Did she enjoy it? She loved it and was good as gold for them, even making a little friend in the coffee shop they visited. Did I enjoy it? I think I cried for about half an hour, and then I did some washing up. And some laundry. DH kept telling me to sit down and read but I just couldn't sit still!!! I guess when you're used to being on the go all the time with a toddler, resting doesn't come easily.
I do wonder what other people do. Do you fit your child around your holiday or your holiday around your child?
Are there ways around it with a toddler? I did consider a sling and wearing Tink like a baby but she is a bit too heavy now and not used to it. It also would have been very hot and sticky.
I'm hoping next year will be different. I'll have stopped nursing, she may have stopped napping. At 2 and a half she should be more settled and a tweak to her routine will not be as disruptive.
Besides, next year, it'll be me that will be over excited, not being able to sleep or sit still because ....
We're going to Disneyland Paris!!!
Check back for my monthly series as I discover more about DLP and start to plan for Tink’s first trip to meet The Mouse!
Contributed by Janine P. of Swindon, England. She is a proud wife, mommy to Felicity and one of our Minnie Moms.
It's been a trying afternoon in my house. Since a glass of wine isn't a good idea when home alone with two small kids, I remembered the brownie mix and the jar of Nutella in the pantry. I tweeted about making Nutella brownies and got several responses. I decided a quick blog post was the fastest way to share the instructions. There's not really a recipe to it.
Simply prepare your favorite brownie mix according to package directions. Spray a mini muffin pan (or 4) with baking spray. Place a heaping spoonful of brownie batter in the bottom of each well. Place about a teaspoon of Nutella on top and cover with another spoonful of brownie batter. Bake according to your mix's directions. I think baking cups might be helpful but I didn't have them handy. I only have one mini muffin pan so I poured the rest of my batter into a small baking dish to make regular brownies.
I wish I made this up but a friend shared this on Facebook recently. I don't think it was her idea either but I'm glad she passed it along.
Sorry, but I dug in before taking the shot. Once you try them, you won't blame me.
Update: definitely use muffin cup liners. However if they break, the brownies make an excellent ice cream topping, or so my husband says.
Yes, the stick people family stickers are a bit cheesy but they are incredibly popular in our new town. I wanted to join in the local trend and show off some Disney flair. Ridge also found me a sticker to represent our dog on his last trip at World of Disney.
In the real world, it burns me when a restaurant, especially a newly remodeled fast food chain, doesn't have changing tables in the restrooms. In my opinion, if you offer high chairs, you need a changing table. Hey restauranteurs of the world, if Mama ain't happy, ain't nobody happy.
I wrote the minor rant above one day in the parking lot of a certain behemoth chain who had a beautiful new store with nowhere to change my child. This particular company is known for marketing to children yet it's not all that unusual for them not to cater to the needs of the families they lure under their arches. This brings me to yet another reason Walt Disney World is fantastic for those traveling with small children--changing tables. In each restroom, regardless of gender, there are changing stations. Some of them are better than others and some locations could honestly use two tables, but at least they are always there.