Sheila Gallant-Halloran

Made-to-measure travel; please, go away! :-)

Have you met “Beverly” – Club Cool, Future World at Epcot, Disney

It’s always fun to introduce something educational on a holiday. During a recent trip to Walt Disney World in Orlando, I took my family to Club Cool at Epcot. 

This isn’t an attraction, in the normal Disney sense of the word, but it is indeed a cool spot to rest, and get out of the heat of Epcot for a few moments to get your group to rest. (Just beyond Innovations West, past the large Epcot fountain.)

The “attraction” is sponsored by Coca-Cola, and there’s indeed a lot of promo stuff about Coke (as well as the chance to buy merchandise).  But trying the free samples of cokes from around the world makes the non-stop commercial a little easier to swallow. There are cokes from Mozambique, Costa Rica, Italy, Germany, Japan, Israel, Mexico and China. 

The soda dispensers look much like any soda fountain – although with streams of kids and adults alike filling their cups, you may have to dispenser hop to try all flavours as Disney staff work to keep the supply up.

Mozambique Krest ginger ale and the Costa Rican Fanta were very popular with my kids. Nothing like getting their fill of a drink that tastes very much like what they are used to.

The Chinese watermelon drink was also suprisingly well liked.

And then there is Beverly.  Being the good mom that I am (ok, with a touch of cruel humour) I had to introduce my family members one at a time… so the second and third people weren’t tipped off.

Beverly is an apertif in Italy. But it’s bitter flavour is such that my kids and husband would drink or eat anything to get the taste of it out of their mouth shortly afterwards. 

Its a “taste test” that you won’t soon forget!

Visit Club Cool, and introduce your friends and family to Beverly.  They’ll be glad you did! 🙂

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August 31, 2010 Posted by | Lush Life Disney | 1 Comment

Summer is nearly over… (a poem)

The sun is shining somewhere in Spain
But all we have here is more pouring rain
Winter will come and bring with it snow
And you’ll start to think of warmer climates to go

So set yourselves up with some warmth and good cheer
Fine sandy beaches, and refreshing cool beer
Take a relaxing trip and forget all your cares
Visit the sights, fiestas and fairs

Prices will drop as the autumn approaches
So think of touring in those luxury coaches
Or head for the Caribbean…I have a hunch
That their local rum will sure pack a punch

Now the summer is nearly over, I fear
So now’s the time to think of next year
You all have my card, my number you know
So let’s sort somewhere out for you to go!

(Thanks for the inspiration, Barbara Charlton.)

August 27, 2010 Posted by | Lush Life Other Items, Lush Life Value - Why Use a Travel Advisor | Leave a comment

An “American Girl” in Boston

We recently visited the “American Girl” store in Boston. My girls had a blast. 

The Natick Collection mall houses the American Girl store. Scads of high-end stores are a shopper’s delight, but none thrilled the hearts and minds of my 4 and 10 year old like the American Girl store.

My girls had saved their Christmas, birthday, and allowance money; and had long ooh’ed and ah’ed  and dog-eared their catalogs in anticipation of this trip. They knew exactly what they wanted. We walked in the store, and other than a momentary intake of breath (“we’re really here”), they both made a beeline for their targeted purchases.

I thought Disney had merchandising down to a science! Disney forces you to walk through a store when you exit attractions, and, most times, your own image is momentarily posted on the wall, begging you to purchase said photo as a souvenir. 

But Disney has nothing on the American Girl merchandising!

Each named doll is enclosed in a glass case, and prepackaged boxes of said doll are organized under the display. 

There are displays for Gwen, Julie, Kit, Ivy, etc. – with accompanying novels giving their backstory, and outlining their adventures.

Outfits, along with accompanying accessories, are also prepackaged and stacked – ready for eager shoppers (along with a selection of other skirts, blouses, dresses, etc.) 

Oh – and you can buy stuffed toys for the dolls, as well as such necessary items as hammocks, tree houses, and camper vans.

It really is quite impressive how clever the marketing is. 

This store is a dream come true for American Girl fans.

I don’t quite get the fascination, but there is no doubt that the dolls are attractive, and their outfits are really pretty.

My girls certainly get their money’s worth out of them too – they play with the dolls endlessly, and fashion all sorts of games and dress up sessions for them. In that sense, it is definitely allowance money well spent!

After a flurry of frenzied shopping (a full five minutes worth, at least), my girls had their purchases in their eager hands.

Hunger set in… fortunately, we had birthday lunch plans made for my 4 year old at the bistro upstairs.  But, of course, we had to walk through a “just like you” section, and a doll hair salon.

We, somehow, made it alive to the bistro for lunch.

My girls got quite the kick out of the doll highchairs. They attach to the bistro tables, so they had lunch with their new friends, Ruthie and Lani.  There were menus and cupcakes for all (including the dolls).

And the birthday girl had a lovely lunch.

All in all, a fun day. 

August 26, 2010 Posted by | Lush Life Destinations, Lush Life Kids | Leave a comment

What is a Disney “Fastpass?”

One of the questions I often get from anxious new Disney clients is “what is a fastpass?”

Fret no more!

The fastpass is just Disney’s way of helping you avoid queuing up for hours at popular rides. It was introduced in 1999, and it is Disney’s version of a ride reservation system. Think of it as a “virtual” queuing system.

The service is available to all Disney guests, at no extra charge. Fastpasses are turned into the attendant cast member at the intended ride’s entry point, so it is used only once.

If you want to ride an attraction that offers a fastpass, odds are you should get one – and get one early. Rides like Soarin’, Space Mountain, and Toy Story Mania often run out of fastpasses early in the day.

When you enter one of Disney’s 4 major theme parks, have a look at your park map to determine which rides are fastpass rides. (I have the recent list repeated below). If you want to ride an attraction that has a fastpass, go there first. You’ll see two clocks at the ride entrance. One clock will list the standby wait time, and the other clock has the current fastpass return time. Judge whether you want to just wait in regular standby, or get a fastpass ticket (or do both, so you have two rides scoped out). Just look for the ATM-like machines in front of the ride for fastpass distribution.

To actually receive a “fastpass,” you have to insert each family member’s park ticket, one at a time, in the fastpass distribution machine. The machine spits back a park ticket, along with one admission “fast pass” ticket.

The fastpass normally gives you a one hour return window for expedited entry into that ride. Return to the fastpass queue (not the standby queue – they’ll be clearly marked), and if you’re holding a valid fastpass, you’ll get priority boarding for the ride. (Don’t show up early – the Disney staff/ cast members watch that pretty closely, so you’ll be instructed to wait at the side until your appointed time. However, the cast members are sometimes a little forgiving if you show up a little late to the time window on the fastpass – you may still be given access.)

You can normally hold only one fastpass ticket at a time. The admission ticket you get for your fastpass has a time that tells you when you can get a second fastpass ticket – which is usually at the start of the current fastpass return, or two hours later (whichever happens first).

So, be strategic about getting your fastpasses – get the most popular ones first, and enjoy your day!

Here are the attractions that currently offer fastpass:

Magic Kingdom:  Space Mtn, Splash Mtn, Big Thunder Mtn, Buzz Lightyear, Jungle Cruise, Winnie the Pooh, Peter Pan

Epcot: Soarin’, Test Track, Mission Space, Captain EO, Maelstrom 

Animal Kingdom: Primerval Whirl, Kilimanjaro Safaris, Dinosaur, Kali River Rapids, Expedition Everest 

Hollywood Studios: Rock ‘n Roller Coaster, Toy Story Mania!, Star Tours, Tower of Terror

August 25, 2010 Posted by | Lush Life Disney, Lush LIfe Top Posts | 3 Comments

How about a little adventure for a thrilling vacay?

What’s your pleasure for your next holiday?

How about a little adventure for a thrilling vacay?

Fly around the world,from the East to the West
As for all the stops to make, I will find what’s best

Go whale watching on a fabulous Alaskan cruise
Trek up mountains in Nepal & take in the views

Seek Gorillas in Uganda, or Iguanas in Galapagos
Time to take a holiday, you need to tell the boss

‘Down under’ climb the harbour bridge in spectacular Sydney
Or go surfing off the beach in the famous Waikiki

Ski the slopes in Val Thorens or the US Beavercreek
Snowboarding or Après Ski whatever you may seek

Drive around New Zealand in a motor home
Take in North or South island, wherever you may roam

Horse riding in Argentina, or drive Route 66
You’ll never cease to be amazed, at just what I can fix

Explore the Amazon, winding through the jungle
Climb Ayers Rock, or find the elusive Bungle Bungle

Fishing or photography, or maybe tasting wine
Painting Tuscan landscapes if the weathers fine

Visit Machu Picchu, ancient site in Peru
All of these things & more I can arrange for you

Your family, friends, & neighbours; of which place do they dream?
Tell them I can book it & make it easier than it may seem.

(Thanks for the inspiration, Sanchia Gallifent.)

August 24, 2010 Posted by | Lush Life Other Items | 1 Comment

11 “Bucket List” Travel Ideas… Get your Imagination Flowing

11 Bucket List travel ideas…………..get your imagination flowing

1. Experience the Sistine Chapel (Rome, Italy) – Art lovers will claim (perhaps rightly so) that you can’t say you’ve truly lived until you’ve gazed upwards to see Michelangelo’s “Creation of Adam” coming to life on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. Pre-book tickets to the Vatican Museum to see this and other masterpieces—and avoid the lines.

2. Tour the Elephanta Caves (Mumbai, India) – Carved out of solid basalt rock, the historic Elephanta Caves are located on a small island off the Arabian Sea, an hour away (via boat or ferry). These caves are a religious relic dating back to the 5th century and are intended to represent the heavenly mountain residence of Lord Shiva.

3. Shower under the Blue Lagoon waterfalls (Reykjavik, Iceland) – Take the “Iceland from Below” tour and conclude this underground adventure of Iceland’s lava tubes by frolicking about in the Blue Lagoon’s milky-blue green water and therapeutic waterfalls.

4. Catch the Cabaret at Moulin Rouge (Paris, France) – The oldest cabaret in Paris, made famous by the paintings of Toulouse Lautrec, will enchant you with can can dancers who show off their “joie de vivre” on a nightly basis. Arrive via private luxury car and enjoy the outstanding Belle Epoque cuisine before the show begins.

5. Hike through Oahu’s Valley of the Rainbows (Honolulu, Hawaii) – Explore lush rainforests deep within the beautiful Valley of the Rainbows on an exclusive, expertly-guided group tour. Nestled below towering trees and surrounded by seven waterfalls, this exotic paradise features the largest collection of palm tree varieties on earth.

6. Get acquainted with ancient history (Athens, Greece) – Take a three day tour of ancient Greece, with stops in Athens, Olympia, Corinth, Delphi and more. If you’re not a history buff, you’ll become one after seeing the site of the first Olympics, archaeological remains in Delphi and ancient Acropolis.

7. Roam the Coorong sand dunes (Adelaide, Australia) – Discover the serenity and beauty of Australia’s famous Coorong wilderness. The sand dunes, wetlands and the mighty Southern Ocean are unforgettable in their natural state, but you’ll also be charmed by the quiet landscape of the small coastal towns you’ll see during a guided eco-cruise.

8. Sip tea & nibble on scones at Grosvenor House (London, England) – Enjoy tea and little cakes in the original home of the Duchess of Bedford, lady-in-waiting to Queen Victoria, who was credited with inventing the very British tradition of “taking tea.”

9. Scuba dive through famous shipwrecks (Aruba, Caribbean) – Dive in and explore Aruba’s many famous shipwrecks, including the Antilla wreck, one of the largest wrecks in the Caribbean. Take note of fascinating coral formations and get up close and personal with stingrays, moray eels, manta rays, barracudas and yellow tail.

10. Glide midair through the Canadian Rockies (Jasper, Alberta) – Hop on the famous Jasper Tramway, the longest and highest guided aerial tramway in Canada, for unprecedented views of six mountain ranges, glacial fed lakes, the Athabasca river and the scenic mountain town of Jasper. The adventure begins at an elevation of 4279 feet and ascends to 7472 feet above sea level.

11. Watch a Lesedi tribal dance (Johannesburg, South Africa) – Enjoy a feast prepared by the natives of Lesedi, a multicultural tribe located an hour’s drive from Johannesburg. See the Zulus with their fighting sticks; the Xhosa with their perfectly-thatched rondawels and distinctive white blankets; the rhythmic drums and whistles of the Pedi tribe; the conical straw hats of the Basotho; and the colorful homes of the Ndebele.

Imagination flowing?

What’s on your “bucket list?”  Let me know! I can help turn those dreams into reality!

(Thanks to my dear friend, Lynda Sinclair, for the inspiration!)

August 23, 2010 Posted by | Lush Life Other Items | 4 Comments

The Viceroy in Anguilla – a regal hotel

In June, I travelled on a fam (a travel agent familiarization trip) to the island of Anguilla, and stayed in the new Viceroy hotel. It was a real treat.

This is the first Caribbean hotel built by the LA-based Viceroy Hotel group, apparently with different styling from their other hotels. (There is definitely not a California-feel here.) As it says on their website: “Situated on 35 lush acres, with more than 3,200 feet of beach frontage along both Barnes and Meads Bays, Viceroy Anguilla evokes a relaxed yet polished Caribbean sensibility. The 166 superbly designed accommodations at the luxury hotel in Anguilla include private oceanfront villas, beachfront suites, and blufftop guestrooms, all with private pools.” See http://www.viceroyhotelsandresorts.com/anguilla/

And the Viceroy Anguilla truly is a luxury five-star hotel. 

Apparently, the hotel opened to mixed reviews in 2009, and management has been working hard to improve service and continue to put the final touches on amenities. There was still some construction underway during our visit, although it was unintrusive. (For example, the spa was temporarily housed in one of their villas as it’s intended location was being completed. )

At check in, we were presented cooling cloths, and a refreshing drink. That attention to detail continued throughout our trip. The reception lobby offered views of the picture-postcard views of immaculate landscaping, sweeping to the ocean.

The sprawling resort does have the look of a bit of a concrete jungle when viewed from another hotel. (One of my colleagues compared it, unflatteringly, to a prison). However, there is definitely no institutational feel on the inside. The hotel and its finishings are spectacular. Walking into the lobby, you feel as though you were plopped into an ultra luxurious Miami or Indonesian resort.

The location is spectacular, and the gorgeous white-sand beach was  surprisingly empty the week we were there.  In between appointments, we relaxed at their barefoot Half Shell beach club (which offers drinks, snacks, and child beach toys too).

 

 

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I stayed in a four-bedroom villa with 3 other travel agents, and was shuttled to and from the main building in a little open-air vehicle. The  accommodations were extremely spacious, luxurious, and invited full-on pampering.  The pictures of our villa’s living room and the dining room are a testament to that.

I was in one of the three master bedrooms in the villa (the other bedroom was a spacious double children’s room), and had an outdoor shower, plus a huge bathroom with all of the amenities.

 

 

We had an infinity pool that I swam in each morning and night, taking in the peace and quiet, and enjoying the glorious view of the ocean. When I returned to my room, I had the same terrific view of the ocean.

After a busy day of touring, at night, we enjoyed rum drinks at the Sunset lounge. It is a wonderful lounge that offers breath-taking views of Meads Bay and Barnes Bay, and is a great location to unwind. The finishings are a little funky in the lounge, as they are througout the resort (driftwood pieces, and beaded African art), and at times there was a feeling of opulence, but everything is interesting, and apparently chosen to be conversation pieces.

The signature restaurant, Coba, offers a smorgasborg buffet for breakfast, and terrific finer dining for dinner – Anguillan seafood, and other traditional fare. 

There are  also several little verandah-type shoots off the main walkway between the lounge and main restaurant, too, and I saw several honeymoon couples enjoy private dining while taking in wonderful vistas.

There is no doubt that if you want five-star pampering, the Viceroy is the spot to be!

August 22, 2010 Posted by | Lush Life Destinations, Lush Life Hotels | Leave a comment

An Intro to the Wonderful World of Disney – what is WDW?

How many of you grew up watching the “Wonderful World of Disney” on TV? I know when I was a kid, watching Tinkerbell fly over the castle, and wave her wand, made me want to be instantly transported from my parents’ living room in Corner Brook, Newfoundland to Orlando. Maybe that’s why my I’m so fanatical about the place now. Disney truly is a place of magic. My own family never tires of it – trip #18 to Orlando is now in the planning.

Most kids and adults alike want to go to Walt Disney World. But when newbies try to dip their toe in the water, it can seem a little like they’re jumping in a strong current meant only for the best swimmers.

No fear. First – make sure you have my number 🙂 – check! Get your life jacket (if you really can’t swim) – check!  Now, jump in!  C’mon. The water’s warm!

Here’s a little intro to just what is the Wonderful World of Disney in Orlando, Florida.

First things first – Walt Disney World is huge.  47 square miles of reclaimed swamp land huge! And any place that huge comes with maps and guides galore, and an alphabet soup of acronyms. Walt Disney World (WDW) in Orlando is much larger than Disneyland (DL) in Anaheim. (In fact, WDW has parking lots bigger than DL.)  While there are similarities (especially in Magic Kingdom), the two Disneys are quite different.

WDW encompasses 4 major theme parks, two water parks, 22 onsite resort hotels that range from value to super deluxe, a sports complex, shopping, over 100 restaurants (many award winning), and a wide assortment of other recreational activities.

There are four major theme parks to WDW. They are Magic Kingdom (MK), the Experimental Prototype Community Of Tomorrow (EPCOT), Hollywood Studios (HS – although formerly known as MGM Studios), and Animal Kingdom (AK).

MK has seven different bits, or “lands” as Disney calls them. Each section has its own flavour and feel; with references to Disney movies usually in abundance.  Each “land” has its own theming, and theme-related “attractions” (which is what Disney calls its rides and roller coasters, shows or movies, adventures, or learning experiences – everything gets lumped under that name) .

First, there is Main Street USA – a nostalgic tribute to days of yore, with streetcars, barbershop quartets, horsedrawn wagons, and a little town with stores, bakeries, ice cream shops, and a city hall. (My favourite part of each trip is  slowly walking down Main Street USA, taking in the sights and smells, and then walking towards Cinderella’s castle).

Then there’s Adventureland with the Magic Carpets of Aladdin, the Jungle Cruise, and the Pirates of the Caribbean. Frontierland has Splash Mountain and Big Thunder Mountain. Liberty Square has the Haunted Mansion and Liberty Belle Riverboat. Fantasyland has Cinderella’s Golden Carrousel (my first ride each trip), It’s a Small World, Peter Pan’s flight, Dumbo, and the Mad Hatter’s Tea Party. Mickey’s Toontown Fair has Goofy’s Barnstormer, and Toontown Hall of Fame. And Tomorrowland has Buzz Lightyear, Space Mountain, and the Carousel of Progress.

MK reigns supreme for kiddies, but there is also a lot for teens and adults to do. It is my family’s favourite park. We always get park hopper passes, because no day at Disney feels complete unless we spend some time at MK – even if it’s to see a parade or watch the fireworks.

Epcot is divided into two main bits or sections: Future World and World Showcase. For the IT geeks and kids that love gadgets, Future World is home – there are many interactive games and displays about science and technology. My kids love the “Image It” /”what if” labs, and the Imagination Pavilion.  And, of course, Soarin’ is one of my family’s all-time favourite rides. Mission Space, Fast Track, and The Seas with Nemo are also well-loved.

World Showcase has pavilions from around the world – you can walk around the lagoon, and visit Mexico, Canada, the UK, China, and Italy (among other countries). Each pavilion in World Showcase has attractions, restaurants, and shops.  You can learn about each country, see an attraction (the rides in Norway and Mexico are great), and eat in spectacular restaurants. (Le Cellier, San Angel Inn, and Coral Reef are particularly good spots.)

HS is the third park, and its theming, not surprisingly, is related to movies.  There is a Playhouse Disney for the little ones. There are also a lot of princess activities with the Voyage of the Little Mermaid show, as well as a large Belle show, with oodles of princess merchandising.  

For the action folks, there’s the Indiana Jones stunt epic, the Lights Motor Action stunt show, the American Idol experience, Star Tours, the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror, the Rock ‘n Roller Coaster, and my family’s new fave ride in HS – Toy Story Mania.  One event that shouldn’t be missed at HS is the Fantasmic! show. It only runs select nights now, but it is quite the show to take in in the amphitheatre – all Disney characters appear at some point, and Sorcerer Mickey battles evil in an awesome show.

AK is the fourth park, and it is themed around animals. There is a lot of attention given to animal conservation and protection too (e.g., no straws or plastic lids on drinks – which can be problematic with wee ones. Bring your sippy cups.)

There is the Kali River Rapids ride that my family loves (you’re going to get wet – either deal with it, or wear a rain poncho), and the Kilimanjaro Safaris. My 10 year old loves Expedition Everest – I’ve ridden it once, and likely won’t again. (It was the scariest ride I’ve ever been on). I’d rather ride Tricera Top Spin with my 4 year old, and learn about  Dinosaurs in the boneyard (or ride the big dinosaur ride). 

One of my family’s favourite activities is to take in the Lion King show at AK. My husband, Bill, has quite a record of being selected to be one of the audience participants they recruit for each show. It’s quite a wonderful show, with huge floats, monkey acrobats, and characters from the movie, and some pretty terrific singing too. Well worth taking in. (Note, though: AK is open, with little shade – so it can get killer hot – wear a good hat, and go early in the day.)

Plan your days around the “extra magic hours” when you’re staying at an onsite hotel. Since you’re working with me, you already know which park is open early, and which is open late. You already have your dining reservations in hand. So you can hop between the four major theme parks each day, depending on hours and extra magic hours, see the parades and fireworks, work around the crowds, and just have an awesome time!

August 21, 2010 Posted by | Lush Life Disney, Lush LIfe Top Posts, Lush Life Travel TIps & Advice | 4 Comments

Disney’s Pop Quiz – the Answers (how’d you do?)

Here are the answers to yesterday’s pop quiz on Disney.  How did you do?

POP QUIZ

1.     Disneyland and Disney World are the same place

  1. FALSE – Disneyland (DL) is in Anaheim, California and Walt Disney World (WDW) is in Orlando, Florida 
  2. Walt Disney ran out of real estate in California – he had bigger dreams than he could build in California, so he started buying up swamp land in central Florida (under different names – so folks wouldn’t know what he was doing). 

2.     Theme parks are all that Disney does

  1. FALSE
  2. Sure there is DL, WDW, Hong Kong Disney, Euro Disney – but
  3. there is also Disney Cruise Line – 2 moderate-deluxe cruise ships very full (Disney Wonder and Disney Magic – more coming with Disney Dream)
  4. don’t forget Disney’s tour company Adventures by Disney – offers the Disney brand for quality, no characters, but family touring trips – trips to London and Paris, tours of Italy, ranching in Arizona
  5. there is also Disney Vero Beach and Disney Hilton Head 

3.     You can see all there is to see at Walt Disney World in Orlando in 4 days

  1. FALSE
  2. WDW encompasses 47 square miles – Walt bought up a lot of Florida swamp land/ real estate
  3. 4 major theme parks, 2 water parks, recreation (including golf, horseback riding, Cirque du Soleil)
  4. In a week, if you go from sun up to well past sun down, you will not see everything – you have to hit the highlights – why not plan, scout out the “must sees”, and plan on coming back?

 4.     If your kids are younger than 10, you’re wasting your time going to Disney because they won’t remember a thing

  1. FALSE
  2. The people who say this still celebrate Christmas and birthdays with one-year-olds
  3. There’s a world to explore with wee ones – Fantasyland in Magic Kingdom is designed for the youngest
  4. I’ve visited WDW while pregnant, with a baby in diapers, and a preschooler – and now going again
  5. Wide eyes of kids when see characters – they’re as real as Santa
  6. when kiddies truly believe in the magic, the memories (and photo ops) for mom and dad are priceless
  7. character meals offer special magical times with wee ones – I help in making dining reservations – have breakfast with Cinderella at the castle, lunch with Winnie-the-Pooh and gang, and supper with Mickey and Minnie at Chef Mickey – there’s also Lilo and Stitch
  8. everyone’s a kid when it comes to character meals – and the biggest kids (aged 90 and up) love character meals as much as wee ones
  9. there are other benefits to going with wee ones: Kids under 2 – don’t pay for air; kids under 3 – don’t pay for theme park tickets or dining; kids 3-9 have reduced rates on dining and tickets (once 10 or older, priced as adult)

 5.     If you’re not a ride person, Disney is not for you

  1. FALSE
  2. the rides are fantastic, don’t get me wrong – from easy going “It’s a Small World” to thrill rides like “Everest”
  3. but there is so much else to do at Disney besides rides
  4. Disney is popular with family reunions – grandma and grandpa go with parents and kiddies – everyone can do their own thing in the day or stay together – meet up for meals
  5. Magic Kingdom is for the kiddies – Epcot is designed more for the adults (Hollywood Studios and Animal Kingdom bring their own pleasures)
  6. Epcot – World Showcase (can wine and dine your way around the world) and future world – top restaurants
  7. Richard Petty driving experience
  8. Cirque du soleil
  9. There are dinner shows (like Hoop Dee Doo, Spirit of Aloha, and Mickey’s backyard BBQ)
  10. there are other Special events : like the Epcot – international food and wine festival September-November, the Epcot – international flower & garden show, the Hollywood Studios – Star Wars Weekends, and the Magic Kingdom – soap stars weekends
  11. Holidays are also done up in fine style with Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party, Mickey’s Pirate and Princess Party in winter, Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party, Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights, Holidays around the World with Epcot – Candlelight Procession – celebrities narrate Christmas story

 6.     The best time to go to the parks is when the kids are out of school

  1. False
  2. it may just be the worse time for crowds and cost
  3. Easter, Christmas, July 4th – avoid if you can – or plan around crowds, make sure you stay at an onsite hotel to take advantage of extra magic hours, and plan your meals! (there’s never Really a bad time to go to Disney)

  7.     You’ll have the best time going to Disney if you go by the seat-of-your-pants with no planning at all

  1. False (well, again, you can never have a bad time at Disney)… but remember
  2. WDW is 47 square miles – you can hit highlights in 4 days, but with no planning, and no advance dining reservations, you may also be buying yourself a big headache with queues at rides, and queues at meals
  3. you can have an absolutely FANTASTIC time if you plan – just a little – make reservations
  4. I do excel spreadsheet for my clients – I give them hours of all the parks, parade times, fireworks, and tell them the “extra magic hours” – I don’t plan vacays down to minute, but I help client’s plan what’s important, make dining reservations for sit-down meals so not 2 or 3 hour queue there – character meals
  5. and, of course, I meet with clients – give them maps for kids, dvd, and answer questions

 8.     Magic Kingdom is the happiest place on earth because alcohol is in abundance

  1. false
  2. it is the happiest place on earth, but not because of alcohol 🙂 – MK is dry. Even Liberty Tree Tavern serves only birch beer

 9.     Staying Off-site is cheaper than staying On-site

  • False
    1. Disney has a range of accommodation options – from value, moderate, deluxe hotels, to deluxe villas – there are 22 onsite hotels
    2. there is something for every budget – amenities change, you have to decide what bells and whistles you want, and how important location is (you pay less if you travel more to get to the parks – the closest hotels, on the monorail, then, tend to be the most expensive!)
    3. you can stay at a value hotel for only $100-150 per night (depending on the season)
    4. If you stay offsite, you have to pay to park each day ($14/day) and you have to rent a car – don’t need to do that if onsite
    5.  So many extras you get staying onsite, you can’t get if you stay offsite – it’s so worth it to stay onsite:
  • you can take advantage of Extra magic hours (enter a park 1 hr early, stay up to 3 hrs later at another)
  • you have free transportation to and from the airport with Disney’s Magical Express
  • you have free transportation in and around parks (bus, monorail, boat)
  • if you rent car, you get free parking at parks and resort
  • you can buy a myriad of Disney dining plans
  • you have maximum flexibility buying tickets (and can upgrade onsite if you want to make changes)
  • you can shop at the parks, charge items to your room, and have them delivered back to your hotel, and
  • you are surrounded by magic 24 hours

 10.    Food is the most expensive part of visiting Disney

  1. FALSE
  2. Regular dining plan if stay onsite – ~$42 USD / night/ adult and $12 USD/ night/ child è 42×7=294 for week for adult and $84 for child (one table service, one counter service, one snack per night – this really is plenty of food, my family buys a dining plan every time we go to Disney, and often have food left over so that we are brown bagging a lunch to have on the way to the airport)
  3. Tickets – a 7 day park hopper pass will cost ~$320.57 USD/ adult, and $296.07 for a child aged 3-9 (children under 3 enter the park for free)
  4. Hotel – depending where you stay – value  (say $120/ night ~$30 pp x7 =$ 210)
  5. Air – generally going to be ~$500 per person, you might spend hours trying to save a couple of dollars, but generally air is going to be the most expensive  part of the trip (from Ottawa, anyway – can be some savings if you fly from Montreal or Toronto – or Syracuse, Plattsburgh, or Buffalo – but then you have to contend with driving time, parking costs, and possibly border crossings for my Canadian friends) – know the air costs are going to be big upfront , own it, and deal with it as best you can!  Unless you have frequent flier miles (and then have usually still pay for taxes), the reality of the situation is that air travel is expensive.

 11.       Buy base tickets to see all you can, park hoppers are a waste of time

  1. FALSE
  2. See more for only $50 pp for your entire stay
  3. buy a park hopper ticket over buying a base ticket – a park hopper ticket lets you come and go to multiple parks each day – that way, you’re free to stay in MK, if you feel so inclined; but you aren’t stuck to do so – if MK is busy, you can hit the highlights and move to Epcot; if it’s killer hot and the lack of shade in AK gets to you, you can go elsewhere
  4. you can also maximize the fun of the Extra magic hours with a park hopper ticket – suppose that Magic Kingdom opens early, & Hollywood Studios open late – if you’re onsite, you get to enter MK at 8am  (other guests not staying onsite can’t enter until 9), and you get to stay at HS until midnight (offsite guests have to leave at 9) – the extra magic hours let you go and come from parks
  5. just remember: you can’t use extra day on base count to enter more one park on the same day (e.g., cannot purchase a 10 base base ticket, and try to use one day count to visit MK and one day count to visit Epcot on the same day – Disney’s systems are wise to that ploy. If you try, you’ll be refused entry, and escorted to the ticket window to upgrade your ticket to a park hopper)

 12.      two 5-day-park hopper tickets cost the same as one 10-day park hopper ticket

  1. false
  2. Disney charges the most for one day tickets, then every day you add, the price per day goes down
  3. A 10-day ticket is the longest day count you can purchase (other than an annual pass), and it gives you the most value
  4. A 5 day park hopper ticket costs ~$1239.68 USD for family of 4(2 adults and 2 children over 10)
  5. A 10 day park hopper ticket costs ~$1346.16 USD for the same family of 4 – that’s incredible!  You get to spend 5 extra days at the park (doubling your time) for $106.48 USD.  That’s ~$25 per person, or less than $5 per day for extra time in the parks. 
  6. A 5-day ph ticket will cost each person $309.92 USD, or ~$62/ day – so the savings at buying the longest possible ticket stay is incredible.
  7. Stretch your vacation time at Disney – you’ll see more, and save more!

 13.       with the tough economic times, Disney is really hurting

  1. FALSE (well… not hurting as badly as others…)
  2. There have been oodles of specials in the past year – free dining has been offered several times (and been extended), and there have been gift card promos, free nights on a package, etc. – more specials than even after 9/11 – Disney definitely wants to keep the parks busy… but…
  3. They are also building 2 new ships – announced new cruises to Alaska
  4. They are sailing to Mediterranean
  5. They’ve announced a major expansion of Magic Kingdom
  6. And they’ve raised park ticket prices for first time in a couple of years
  7. Mickey is still doing quite well!

August 20, 2010 Posted by | Lush Life Disney, Lush Life Kids, Lush Life Other Items, Lush LIfe Top Posts, Lush Life Travel TIps & Advice | 4 Comments

Disney Pop Quiz – Do you know the answers?

POP QUIZ  – See how much you know!

QUESTIONS ABOUT DISNEY – ANSWER: TRUE OR FALSE

 

1. Disneyland and Disney World are the same place

 2. Theme parks are all that Disney does

 3. You can see all there is to see at Walt Disney World in Orlando in 4 days

 4. If your kids are younger than 10, you’re wasting your time going to Disney because they won’t remember a thing

 5. If you’re not a ride person, Disney is not for you

 6. The best time to go to the parks is when the kids are out of school

 7. You’ll have the best time going to Disney if you go by the seat-of-your-pants with absolutely no planning at all

 8. Magic Kingdom is the happiest place on earth, alcohol is in abundance

 9. Staying Off-site is cheaper than staying On-site

 10.  Food is the most expensive part of visiting Disney

 11.  Buy base tickets to see all you can, park hoppers are a waste of time

 12.  two 5-day-park hopper tickets cost the same as one 10-day park hopper ticket

 13.  with the tough economic times, Disney is really hurting

How did you do?  (Answers posted tomorrow.)

August 19, 2010 Posted by | Lush Life Disney | 2 Comments