Friday Five: Disneyland’s Newest Announcement for 2017

 

2017 is expected to be an incredible year for Disney World and Disney Land.  Today, I thought I would touch on a few of the great new offerings coming from California!  As you might know, the Rivers of America and the Disneyland Railroad are temporarily closed at present as plans for the all-new Star Wars-themed land is underway. However, these two areas will reopen this coming summer ,2017, at Disneyland:

  1. “Fantasmic!” will be back – oh, how my boss will be excited! 🙂
  2. Mark Twain Riverboat and the Sailing Ship Columbia-I learn so much on these voyages!
  3. Pirate’s Lair on Tom Sawyer Island – we LOVE this area for exploring.  It is so fun to see the kid’s (and adult’s) imagination come to life!
  4. Davy Crockett Explorer Canoes – who doesn’t love canoes!
  5. The north bank of the Rivers of America: you will find next year that there will be a beautiful new waterfront with a new bridge for the Disneyland Railroad.

Lastly, but not least by all means….Sleeping Beauty’s castle will be restored to the way before the 60th anniversary celebration.  However, the special festivities are still now through September 5th, 2016, if you want a glimpse of history while you can-just let me know!

Your favorite nighttime spectaculars will also return on September 6th, 2016: the original version of “World of Color” in California Adventures and “Fantasy in the Sky” fireworks will sparkle over Sleeping Beauty’s Castle in the Disneyland Park.

So, let’s get to planning your 2017 Disneyland vacation!!  The benefits to using an authorized Disney vacation planner include saving time before and during your vacation with itinerary planning which can help save you hours of standing in line each day. Plus you won’t have to watch for available discounts, research resorts, or wake up early for dining reservations.  The best part about using a travel planner instead of planning yourself? It’s totally FREE! Plus I’ll take away some of the stress and confusion of planning a Disney vacation (especially if it’s your first one!) If you already have your vacation planned and are interested in transferring your vacation, please ask me how.

What’s New Wednesday: December 2nd edition

Happy December Disney fans! It’s the most wonderful time of the year so the song goes! There is a LOT of wonderful new things around Disney parks, so let’s get right to it…

Walt Disney World

  • Star Wars Launch Bay is up and running. This provides Disney and Star Wars fans with all sorts of new and fun experiences. You can follow the Path of the Jedi to give even the seasoned Star Wars fan walk down Luke Skywalker’s journey to becoming a Jedi.
    • There is a line to get into Launch Bay (there is a posted time above the entrance – typically about 15-20 minutes). It doesn’t seem like guests are getting “kicked out” after a certain period of time, so times may vary.
    • Launch Bay also offers 2 unique character meet and greets – The Dark Side: Darth Vader and The Light Side: Chewbacca. Both are reported to be a great experience and worth the wait (lines have ranged in the 40-70+ minutes in the first 2 days).
    • For Disney Visa Card holders, you have a special meet and greet available to you beginning at 11 am. You must show your Disney card and up to 6 guests may enter under that single card. (if you have a party larger than 6, you must be able to show a 2nd card)
  • Yacht & Beach Club is hosting a New Year’s Eve spectacular. This is available for Walt Disney World resort guests ONLY for an exclusive countdown to midnight. There are 3 different experiences and all-you-care-to-eat menu and beverage “reception” to enjoy and booking is available now. Like any “limited time” experience, expect it to go quickly!
  • The World of Disney Store in Disney Springs went through an expansion (so the largest store on Disney property just on bigger) adding an additional 6,000 square feet of space! If you can’t find what you need here, you probably won’t find it anywhere!!

Disneyland

  • The new Paint the Night Parade will offer dining package beginning January 11. You can book a reservation at Blue Bayou or Aladdin’s Oasis. At Blue Bayou, you will have a 3 course meal and seating area will  be on Main Street! At Aladdin’s Oasis, you have a choice of 3 entrees and have the option to take your meal to go or enjoy it in the restaurant’s seating area. The viewing for this location is near It’s a Small World which is where the parade starts. Reservations are not yet open, but should be available soon!

And that’s what’s new around Disney Destinations this week! Stay tuned for the most up to date information!!

Small Business Saturday – Why to choose an Authorized Disney Vacation Planner

small business saturday

Happy Small Business Saturday! I first want to say thank you to every single one of my guests who has supported me whether it’s allowing me to help plan your Disney World, Disneyland, or Disney Cruise adventure or referred a friend or family member to me. It has truly been a blessing to work with each of every one of my hundreds of guests whether you found me through a blog or friend, truly, THANK YOU! You have allowed me the opportunity to make magic, enjoy what I do for my job, and allow me to stay home with my amazing and beautiful daughter as well as let me “work” in Disneyland for 8 beautiful nights last week!

I’d also like to make a quick thank you to all of you small business owners. I know very well how difficult things can be and why shopping local is so important! I try to do so whenever possible to pay it forward! Keep on keeping on! If it’s a rough time or a slow time during the holidays, it will bounce back. Keep the faith and stay positive! (this is typically my slowest time of year, so I get it).

Now the big question…why choose an authorized Disney vacation planner to help with your Disney World vacation? There are SO many reasons. I’ve touched on many of them before, but after returning from my planner conference last week, I have a few more additions that make Dawn and me (since we are a part of Magical Vacations LLC) unique and a cut above the rest.

Magical Vacations Logo - Landscape

  1. It’s FREE! Yes. F-R-E-E, no strings attached FREE! The price you can find on Disney’s web site is the same that I can pull up for you through Disney’s Travel Agent portal. All travel agents have the exact same cost available to them – we are not allowed to discount or offer “signing” bonuses to you, so it’s all about what your agent can do for you! Yes, we still get paid but it’s after you return home from your trip, so it’s in my best interest as a small business owner to work my butt off to make sure I exceed your expectations in hopes that you’ll recommend me to family and friends.
  2. It’s a time saver. Do you want to wake up at 6 am eastern time to make dining reservations (or even search through the 80+ menus of the table service restaurants available to you?)? Do you want to research FastPass strategy and get an idea of all of the available attractions to make the best choice and then think about how to organize them in a way to go around the parks and then stay up until midnight to book them all? AND Do you want to constantly monitor Disney’s web site for promotional offers, AK_EVRST3_7261858207changes in park hours, or attraction refurbishments leading up to your trip? I’d make a wild guess that most of you will say no to all of these things. THIS is where Magical Vacations makes such a big difference. We are a full service DISNEY ONLY* agency which means we know our stuff and know how to make our guests stays a better overall experience. Did you know that many agencies don’t require their agents to book FastPasses for their guests? At my conference, our group was the only one I found that truly booked everything. Yes, it’s a heck of a lot more time consuming, but it’s a heck of a lot more successful as well! It gives you as the guest an opportunity to follow our daily itineraries to help save you time inside the parks!
  3. It’s less stressful. Going back to all of the points in #2, you have someone here to take away the stress and anxiety of planning a Disney trip. Most guests spend several thousand dollars on your trip. Unless you have someone “in the business”, you wouldn’t spend several thousand dollars on your house to make renovations without talking to someone, would you? So allow me the opportunity to help answer your questions, calm your fears, and allow the true magic of Disney come out!
  4. Knowledge. I consider myself a Disney expert, especially Disney World! I’m rarely stumped by a question related to Disney World and if I am (kudos) and I’ll find you the answer! Did you know that you need to get your flight info to Magical Express before your departure? Did you know that getting a FastPass for Anna & Elsa is usually only available at the 60 day mark prior to your arrival (sometimes gone within a few minutes of that important midnight time frame?) Do you know of special events going on during your stay? I’m here to help with all of this knowledge and imparting it in a way that is not overwhelming in little bits and bites culminating in a gift for your family shortly before your departure.
  5. The Minnie Box. This is our unique gift to you and is unique to our agency! It was created and trademarked by our Magical Vacations owner and gives you the excitement of opening your big yellow bow like a present right before you arrive for your vacation! As Disney went “paperless” with the introduction of MyMagic+, there’s nothing much you receive directly from Disney to get you excited. While every Disney vacation is exciting, the Minnie Box just adds a little something extra!!
  6. Being in the middle of the magic! Will you remember the work that Ellie minniewent into planning your vacation and things that went wrong if you spend hours upon hours pouring over blogs, online information, and doing independent research? Probably! What Disney is truly about is the MAGIC! Remembering your child’s first meeting with a character – beeping Minnie Mouse’s nose, giving a big hug to goofy! Having the best meal of your life in one of Disney’s signature dining locations, or seeing the tears in your mother’s eyes as she watches Wishes fireworks with you. It’s those magical moments that I do what I do and not for the money! I’ve gotten asked to return to my office job more than once and I won’t do it because I love the magic making!

*Little asterisk to Disney only – We are also authorized to book Universal Orlando as it is becoming a big player in the area market so we also have training and authorization to help with a little bit beyond Disney!

A free gift for your Disney vacation! The amazing and exciting Minnie Box! (subject to minimum vacation package)

A free gift for your Disney vacation! The amazing and exciting Minnie Box! (subject to minimum vacation package)

Interested in experiencing a Disney World (Disneyland or Disney Cruise) vacation in 2016?  Please contact me at any time for a free quote. The benefits to using an authorized Disney vacation planner include saving time before and during your vacation with itinerary planning which can help save you hours of standing in line each day. Plus you won’t have to watch for available discounts, research resorts, wake up early for dining reservations, or stay up late for FastPasses. The best part about using a travel planner instead of planning yourself? It’s totally FREE! Plus I’ll take away some of the stress and confusion of planning a Disney vacation (especially if it’s your first one!)It’s also a worry free vacation opportunity. I’ll walk through through all of the steps to the process with a few little insider tips along the way! If you already have your vacation planned and are interested in transferring your vacation, ask me how! Thank you so much for supporting my small business!!

What’s new Wednesday: November 25th Edition

Happy Thanksgiving to one and all! I hope everyone is either heading to see family or getting ready for family to arrive. I wish I could get creative with today’s post and theme it around giving things or the holiday itself, but I’m not that good, but we can be thankful for all of these new or upcoming things (or updates from previous info).

Walt Disney World:

  • New information is available for Rivers of Light – the evening experience at Animal Kingdom which incorporates light, water, and a spectacular show. The expected opening date is sometime in spring of 2016. This definitely makes me excited about spending a full day in Animal Kingdom (it’s not a park we often spend a full day in)
  • Update to FastPass tiers – Flights of Wonder added to FastPass availability option in Animal Kingdom; Mission Space added to the tier 1 attraction list during the closure of Soarin’ beginning in January
  • Epcot’s Flower & Garden Festival is extended to 90 days in 2016. Official dates: March 2 – May 30, 2016. It’s one of my favorite experiences in Epcot – with the outdoor kitchens expanding every year, it’s a must do attraction!
  • Two of Disney’s Child Activity Centers have some upgrades making them similar to Disney Cruise Line’s experience with more immersive kids activities and CHARACTERS! These two locations are the Sandcastle Club in Beach Club and Lilo’s Playhouse at Polynesian Village. With this update, there is a change in cost. It is now a flat fee of $55 per child instead of the previous hourly charge but it does allow adults to have a full “date night”.
  • Innoventions in Epcot finally reopened to the public with Colortopia – a unique interactive area for kids. It’s not a “must do”, but it’s a great kids diversion or a place to get out of the heat or the rain!
  • Epcot’s Captain EO will be closing in early December and being replaced with Pixar Shorts (no word if it a FastPass will be available or necessary)
  • Star Wars experiences including new character meet and greets and updated Jedi Training will open on December 1st!

Disneyland:

  • Seasons of the Force is in full swing as of November 16th and let me tell you IT IS AWESOME! It will be well worth the wait at Walt Disney World.
  • Hyperspace Mountain (the Star Wars overlay of Space Mountain) is absolutely fantastic. Worth a 60 minute wait time (try to grab a FastPass if you can).
  • Special Character Meet and Greets – Dark Side, Light Side with Darth Vader & Chewbacca
  • Star Wars: Path of the Jedi captures your favorite Star Wars moments (if you’ve seen photos of some of the Star Wars memorabilia, this is likely where it is!)
  • If you’re considering a trip to Disneyland, add an extra 1/2 day (at least) for just the Star Wars experiences. You can spend a LONG time looking at all of the fantastic details!

That’s it for this week. Hope the turkeys and the wine are at the ready!

 

Today has been my favorite Disney day (quick Disneyland day 1 recap)

In my life, I’ve had MANY Disney days. Let’s not try and count them, but today I got to to do THREE new things I’ve ever done (and may never get to do again). The first was to see the premiere of one of the parades. Ok, well we didn’t have the best seats in the house since we were running from a meal, but it was great to see the first Disneyland Christmas parade. Something unique to Disneyland is the holiday parade runs throughout all of the holiday season during the day. At Disney World, you only see the holiday parade during Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas party and during the weeks of Christmas and New Years. It’s a very cute parade and all of the well known characters are represented.

The second thing I’ve never done before is been on a ride that broke down while I was on it and cast members had to walk us off the ride. Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters broke down right in the middle and it wasn’t a quick fix. Cast members had to manually open are omnimover car and we walked out of the ride with all of the lights on. Truly a unique experience and something that was incredibly cool for me. For our “trouble” (seriously? trouble? best day ever!!) we received an FastPass to return to the attraction when it reopened.

The third is the most unique of the bunch. I got to be a part of the soft opening of Hyperspace Mountain – the Seasons of the Force update to Space Mountain. It was just for a few hours and thankfully we received a useful tip to get us in the door. It was truly an amazing experience and the ride itself was awesome. Great update. It’s going to be incredibly popular. Every car that was coming back in was clapping (including the 3 of us that rode together).

More tomorrow (with photo updates)!!

What’s New Wednesday: November 11, 2015 edition

First, a big thank you to all of those who served our country to veteran’s day! This edition of What’s new Wednesday around Disney destinations. Some of these are updates on experiences that are now open or have more info based on previous announcements!

Walt Disney World

  • A Star Wars presence will increase in Hollywood Studios as of December 1st! For full details, check a full post from earlier this week: HERE
  • Star Wars weekends were officially cancelled for the immediate future. The marketing gurus of WDW came up with “you can have Star Wars every day with the upcoming expansions”
  • Two new dining experiences opened up this week – the expansion of Garden Grill for breakfast and lunch and Minnie’s Holiday Dine at Hollywood & Vine. Both are getting rave guest reviews. At Minnie’s Holiday Dine, guests are greeted by Santa Goofy (a line that is ALWAYS long for meet and greet). A few posed photos will be available to you (if you have Memory Maker, the photos will be part of your download package). At Garden Grill, the breakfast menu looks fantastic. Food is as always fresh tasting and you have your favorite Disney characters – Chip, Dale, and Farmer Mickey!

Disneyland

  • Seasons of the Force officially opens on Monday, November 16th! Expect larger than average crowds during this time. I’ll be there LIVE to show some of the new experiences available. When I return home, I’ll be able to give you a big update on the details, but for up to the minute updates follow me on twitter: alittlewdwmagic.
  • The holidays are in full swing around Disneyland – Jingle Cruise, Haunted Mansion Holiday, and its a small world holiday are all available. Holiday decor is up as well! The first Christmas parade is on Friday! Dawn and I will both be available over the weekend to provide live updates of the experience! Look for a video blog sometime this weekend (or at least a feeble attempt at one!) Again, follow me on twitter for up to the second updates of changes around Disneyland Park and California Adventure: alittlewdwmagic.

Disney Cruise Line

  • With the dry dock complete on the Disney Dream, several new experiences are available to you! Vanellope’s Sweet Shop with absolutely adorable themed sweets from my favorite friend from Wreck It Ralph, Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique (reservations required), and new interactive areas for kids including Disney Infinity experiences! Of course, you’ll also have the addition of Star Wars experiences in the kids club areas. There is also an additional experience for adults with some renovations on the “adults only” areas! Surprises around every corner. You know when Disney takes 3 months away from a normal cruise itinerary, they are going to throw as much at a renovation as possible!

And that’s what’s new this Wednesday!!

BIG things coming to Disney World starting this winter!

It has been a really big day for Disney! With the D23 Expo going on in Anaheim this weekend, all sorts of buzz is around my favorite places. Disney World has several new and exciting things coming around. A lot of these have been rumors for a long time. As usual, rumors are typically true in Disney World!

First, coming later in 2015 a Jungle Cruise themed restaurant: Skipper’s Cantina will be coming to Adventureland. This a long awaited announcement as the current refurbishment of Liberty Tree Tavern was to expand the kitchen for this restaurant. The skippers of the Jungle Cruise will be manning this restaurant so I expect the same corny jokes and humor. While the full details are not completely revealed, many (including myself) believe that the restaurant will work in similar fashion to Be Our Guest with lunch as a quick service stop and dinner as table service. It will also rival the popularity and difficulty to grab the reservation as Be Our Guest. I’m excited to see when opening day will be and get some reviews!

Next, Star Wars Land coming to Hollywood Studios and a second in Disneyland This will a new 14 acre land that will transport you to Star Wars. This will be a very time consuming process. I’m guessing they have been doing a lot groundwork already, but I’m sure we’ll soon see a lot of new things popping up and walls going up around the construction zones. The land sounds nothing short of amazing. Guests can ride the Millennium Falcon and also check out the famed cantina (while my family isn’t die hard into Star Wars, you bet I will be trying out both)!

While all of the Star Wars fans so patiently wait for the new area to open (no whispers of dates yet), Disney did reveal some exciting things to tie you over:

  • An update to Jedi Training Academy
  • Star Tours 3.0 (a refresh to the existing ride – don’t expect to see a refurbishment since it’s a simulator style ride)
  • Star Wars: Season of the force coming in 2016 which will be a lead into the Star Wars weekends with fireworks returning to Hollywood Studios (a great way to add evening traffic to that park!)

Staying in Hollywood Studios, Toy Story Land is also coming! I am really excited about this one. It adds a kid and family friendly area in a park that was lacking a good kid presence outside of Disney Jr. themed attractions. This 11 acre area will be anchored by a new family coaster created by Andy where guests get to ride on the back of Slinky Dog. Another new attraction will be the Alien Green Saucers which sound a lot like the Mad Tea Party in Magic Kingdom. Guests will also be able to meet their favorite Toy Story friends. Additionally (and already announced), the 2nd Toy Story Mania track is in place to help alleviate the current (and future) traffic coming to that area. No details on an opening date for any of the new attractions.

Moving over to Epcot, the update to Maelstrom to a Frozen attraction is still in progress. Newer information about the transformation of the entire Norway pavilion has been revealed as well. The Royal Sommerhus (which has started to peek over the the top of the construction walls earlier this week) will give guests an new location to meet Anna & Elsa and the area is very authentic Norwegian. Sven will also be making his appearance here. Still no Olaf (sorry friends!) Scheduled to open in mid-2016.

Epcot’s headlining attraction Soarin’ will also be getting an update: Soarin’ Around the World will make its debut in 2016. This new experience will keep you in your hang glider as you fly high above some amazing attractions. No longer will it be California centric. Disney is currently in process of adding a third theater in Epcot to meet capacity demands.

The last park to get an update: Animal Kingdom. For anyone that has been there recently, you’ve seen the construction walls. None of these projects are newly announced, but it was nice to hear updates to them.

Sunset Kilimanjaro Safaris. A family favorite attraction will now be extended for a nighttime adventure with speciality lights added with some additional animals getting adding to the safari. Expect to see this as hours get extended while Animal Kingdom joins the other 3 parks with true evening hours (can I get a FINALLY?!)

Rivers of Light. Walls have been up for what seems like forever on this project! Scheduled to open in spring of 2016, this experience will combine live music, lanterns, water, and animal imagery. Don’t expect any fireworks, but it sounds like a very unique experience and capacity will be high to see this around the water.

Update on AVATAR. The official title will be Pandora – the World of AVATAR. The main attraction in this land will be “Flight of Passage” which brings gets into scenes from the movie as they soar on a Banshee. This will be another amazing immersive experience. It is scheduled to open in 2017. Stay patient friends!

I, for one, am absolutely excited about all of these new updates! We are frequent Disney goers, and while there’s always something new, I haven’t seen announcements this big since new Fantasyland was announced and with so many announcements and enhancements, it’s an amazing time to get excited about Disney travel.

A free gift for your Disney vacation! The amazing and exciting Minnie Box! (subject to minimum vacation package)

A free gift for your Disney vacation! The amazing and exciting Minnie Box! (subject to minimum vacation package)

Ready to get started planning your 2015 or 2016 holiday Disney World vacation? Please contact me at any time for a free quote. The benefits to using an authorized Disney vacation planner include saving time before and during your vacation with itinerary planning which can help save you hours of standing in line each day. Plus you won’t have to watch for available discounts, research resorts, wake up early for dining reservations, or stay up late for FastPasses. The best part about using a travel planner instead of planning yourself? It’s totally FREE! Plus I’ll take away some of the stress and confusion of planning a Disney vacation (especially if it’s your first one!)It’s also a worry free vacation opportunity. I’ll walk through through all of the steps to the process with a few little insider tips along the way! If you already have your vacation planned and are interested in transferring your vacation, ask me how!