Sheila Gallant-Halloran

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

How to Avoid the Disney Meltdown

The Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida is called the “happiest place on earth.”  And, it usually is.  But what happens when you combine overheated, overtired, and overstimulated children with parents in the same boat? Things can turn sour … and quickly.

At the end of June, my family of  four made our way to Orlando for our 19th visit. I wasn’t surprised to see many misbehaving children at the parks. I was pleasantly surprised that my own kids kept on a pretty even keel. But, after 19 trips, we’ve kinda figured out some tricks.

One thing for parents to think about is that months of anticipation and build up about going to see Mickey will suddenly give way to visual and auditory overload.  Think of it as arriving at the North Pole, and being given the keys to Santa’s workshop. There’s so much to see and do, and so much to experience – you’re not sure where to start. If your children are also in unaccustomed heat, they may be perspiring excessively, and can quickly get dehyrdrated. Throw in some long waits in lines, more crowds than they may be used to, and perhaps one too many Mickey Mouse ice-cream bars, and suddenly, you might start witnessing behaviour that is more akin to the Exorcist than your little angel. 

So – what to do?  Every parent who has planned an outing to an unfamiliar environment with a child knows it’s always best to set some ground rules before you go. Here are some suggestions that have worked for us at Disney:

1. No doubt, you have guidelines for behaviour at home.  Being on vacation doesn’t mean that guidelines go out the window. Make sure everyone knows what is going to be acceptable before you’re waiting in line to see Peter Pan. If you’re going to loosen rules, be clear what the baselines are, and just what will fly and what won’t.  

2. If you can, stay at a monorail hotel. Being close to the parks will optimize your time. You won’t waste precious vacation hours travelling.

3. Don’t try to do everything in one day. Have a plan for what you want to accomplish on a certain day, but leave time for flexibility.  Try to schedule some down time at the pool each day.

4. Wear hats, and appropriate clothing for the weather. (Animal Kingdom, in particular, is notorious for its lack of shade. A hat will give you a break in scorching heat. And if it’s 100 degrees out, don’t wear black shirts and shorts.)

5. Wear comfy sneakers. Don’t wear sandals that won’t support you, or crocs that may gall. (Remember, you can walk 8-10 miles a day at the parks – I often do, and have measured with a pedometer.  Wear shoes that will not make you suffer.) 

6. Drink lots of water. Make sure each child drinks lots of water. (Dehydration really bites. Besides getting very cranky, you get nauseous and can develop a terrible headache. It can really put a crimp in a day at the park.)

7. If you have more than one child, have a plan for how you can keep each of them happy – at least in turns. You might alternate days where one chooses rides, or schedule some alone time with one parent for each. Siblings will bug each other on vacation as much as they might at home. Prepare for it, and have some outlets built in. 

8. If possible, have each child wear a fanny pack. That way, they each can carry their own water bottle, and carry their own autograph book and pen, along with a snack.

9. Have a plan for purchasing souvenirs and treats.  Make sure each child knows what that is. When possible, give them guidelines, and let them choose.

So – those are my suggestions.

Tell me – what works for your family?  I’d love to hear!

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October 1, 2011 Posted by | Lush Life Disney | Leave a comment

Four Seasons Resort Orlando at Walt Disney World Resort Set to Open in 2014

 Terrific  news for those of us who love Mickey Mouse – especially those of us whom are Four Seasons Preferred Partners (ahem, like me!)  Book your Four Seasons hotel stays with me, and I can negotiate some terrific Four Seasons Preferred Partner amenities on your behalf!

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Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts finalizes USD 360 million development deal in Orlando, Florida with Silverstein Properties and Dune Real Estate Partners.

Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts has entered into a joint venture with Silverstein Properties and Dune Real Estate Partners to develop a 444-room luxury resort at the Walt Disney World Resort. Construction is set to begin on what will be the largestFour Seasons resort in the world this December, with a target opening date in 2014.

In addition to 444 rooms, the development will also include up to 40 Four SeasonsResidence Club units and up to 90 Four Seasons Private Residences. Within the Resort will be several dining venues including a rooftop restaurant with views of the nightly fireworks from the Magic Kingdom; a 14,000 square-foot spa with 18 treatment rooms; a fitness centre; three pools and a “lazy river”; sports facilities including tennis courts, basketball court and climbing wall; two recreational centres for children, teens and families; and approximately 37,750 square-feet of meeting and event space plus a business centre.

The development will encompass the existing Tom Fazio-designed Osprey Ridge 18-hole championship golf course, which will be renovated and subsequently managed by Four Seasons. Four SeasonsResort Orlando at Walt Disney World Resort is an enclave located within the Golden Oak residential community, created and master-planned by Disney.

Click here to read the entire Press Release.

September 20, 2011 Posted by | Lush Life Disney, Lush Life Hotels | Leave a comment

Mickey’s Still Buying – Fee Dining Plan Extended at WDW

Mickey’s extended the free dining promotion at Walt Disney World. There’s never been a better time to go visit the head Mouse in Orlando – and have him buy you the food for your stay!

Now through December 17, 2011, if you buy a non-discounted Magic Your Way package for 4 nights and 5 days (or more) at select Disney Value Resorts, you’ll get a FREE quick-service dining plan (which you can keep as is, or upgrade to another plan).  Or, you can buy a non-discountinged Magic Your Way package for 4 nights and 5 days at select Disney Moderate, Deluxe, or Deluxe Villa Resorts and get a FREE Disney Dining Plus plan.

Booking Window:

Aug.3-Dec.17, 2011

 

Travel Window:

Oct 2-8, 2011,

Oct23-Nov.5, 2011,

Nov.13-19, 2011,

Nov.27-Dec.3, 2011,

Dec.11-17,2011,

Jan.8-14, 2012,

Jan.22-Feb.4, 2012,

Feb.12-18, 2012,

March 4-10, 2012,

March 25-31, 2012,

Aug.19-Sept.29, 2012

 

The regular plus dining is a savings of ~$47 USD/ night for anyone over 10 years of age (or ~$12 USD/ night for anyone aged 3-9 years).  On a family of 4, this is a savings of ~$1000 on a one week’s stay.

Give me a call to get your vacation sorted. Sheila 613-837-0699

August 14, 2011 Posted by | Lush Life Disney | Leave a comment

Walt Disney World’s Monorail System – Zippadeedoodah to the Parks & Back

When you’re riding the Walt Disney World Monorail, it’s easy to have a spring in your step. You can sing “Zippadeedoodah” as you zip over to the Magic Kingdom from your monorail hotel, or zip back and forth to Magic Kingdom. It’s terrific.

The Walt Disney World Monorail puts a spring in the step of ~150,000 people each day – that’s more than 50 million Disney guests each year!  That’s a lot of zippadeedoodahing!

The monorail is a public transportation system that’s been in continuous operation at WDW since 1971 (obviously revamped over time – in the 1990s, the current model was put in place with improved air conditioning, door systems, and safety). There are two lines that encompass Magic Kingdom and Epcot, with three distinct “beams” that travel services on the monorail system.

 

 

 

 

 

The monorail runs a span of about 15 miles. At first it circled the Seven Seas Lagoon in front of the Magic Kingdom, connecting the Contemporary and Polynesian with Magic Kingdom and the Transportation and Ticket Center (TTC). Later, the Grand Floridian was added.  And in 1982, Epcot was brought “into the loop” with a four mile extension from Magic Kingdom.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The 3 Monorail Routes are:
1. Epcot Monorail  – which runs between the TTC to Epcot and back (Service on this route is a single beam running clockwise on the loop.)

2. Express Monorail – which runs between the TTC and the Magic Kingdom and back (There is a dual-beam Magic Kingdom route. The express service runs on the outer loop of this route and travels counter-clockwise.)

3. Resort Monorail – which runs from the Magic Kingdom to  Contemporary to TTC to the Polynesian to the Grand Floridian (The resort monorail service offers round-trip local service on the inner loop, running clockwise.) 

I’m saddened to read online that the monorail system may be changing its running hours. Rumours suggest the monorail may be shutting down 1 hour after regular park hours starting this month. The monorail always used to run for 1 hour after extra magic hours… which meant that if Magic Kingdom was open until midnight for regular guests, and 3 am for onsite guests (which is what would happen if MK had extra magic evening hours), the monorail would run until after 3am. It was a tremendous perk. Hopefully this is a temporary change. My own family rode the monorail during the extra magic hours in the late evening in June, and loved it. 

But the monorail always puts a spring in our step when we visit the World. We love to Zippadeedoodah to the parks and back!

August 10, 2011 Posted by | Lush Life Disney | Leave a comment

“!Por favor manténgase alejado de las puertas” – Disney’s Monorail

Any fan of Walt Disney World has riden the monorail, and knows the Spanish phrase “¡Por favor manténgase alejado de las puertas!”.

The words (which mean “Please stand clear of the doors!”) are heard at every monorail stop/start.  And since my family loves staying at the monorail hotels of Grand Floridian, Polynesian, and Contemporary; we have heard that phrase a lot – on all of our 19 trips to Disney.

The words have become a “catch phrase” in our house. Any time we’re not at the World, and someone’s missing the Mouse, it gets yelled out:  “¡Por favor manténgase alejado de las puertas!”.   Usually, there are fits of giggles that follow.

One of my husband’s prized souvenirs of Disney is a t-shirt he bought at a kiosk just inside Epcot’s gates. (Although you can likely buy the shirt at any of the monorail hotels, just inside Epcot is the one spot we have seen the shirt on every visit).

It’s a pretty basic t-shirt. The words are only in Spanish. It shows the monorail going around the castle (which it technically does not), and the shirt also seems to portray the wrong castle (it looks more like Sleeping Beauty’s castle in Disneyland, California to me, rather than Cinderella’s castle in WDW, Orlando – and since the words are only spoken on WDW monorail, that seems like a big “oops”)… but it is the best monorail t-shirt we’ve seen in our travels. And real Disneyphiles I’ve encountered online and elsewhere seem to love the shirt even more because of it.

Works for us! Especially when we’re on the monorail!

August 6, 2011 Posted by | Lush Life Disney | Leave a comment

The Balancing Act – Picking a Disney Hotel

I always recommend staying onsite at a Disney hotel. There are so many terrific perks you get staying at an official Disney onsite hotel:

a. you get a free shuttle to and from the airport to your hotel (and have your bags delivered)

b. you’re surrounded by Disney magic 24 hrs

c. you can use Disney transportation around resorts, parks

d. you can make purchases throughout the “world”, charge to your room key, and have delivered back to your hotel

e. you can add the Disney dining plan, and

f. the primo benefit – you get access to the EXTRA MAGIC HOURS – which means you can get into a park an hour early, and stay at another up to 3 hours longer than non-onsite guests

Choosing a hotel requires you to consult with your travel advisor.  Price is a factor, but it is not the only factor.  You have to consider what kind of vacation your family wants to have, the style of hotel you normally like to vacation at, and how much time you want to spend commuting each day.  In my conversations with new clients, we focus on 8 factors/ parameters in choosing between the 22 onsite hotels:

1. the level of service you like from your hotel (are you a Best Western or a Four Seasons kinda gal?)

2. the price point you’d prefer (cheap as long as clean, vs. willing to pay for luxury?)

3. the room size you’d like (and bedding size – more budget-oriented hotels are smaller w double beds)

4. the amenities you’d like at your hotel (e.g., do you want a waterslide, kids’ club, etc.)

5. the dining options you’d like at your hotel (e.g. do you want just takeaway kiosk or character meals or fine dining choices)

6. the location you prefer (e.g. do you want the closest to the parks and higher price, or happy with lower price but also accepting they are the furthest away and have longer commute times), and

7. the convenience you prefer (e.g. what ease and speed of access to the parks do you want, and how about ease of getting to your hotel room once you get back to your resort – e.g., a standard room at a value resort could have a 15 minute walk back to your hotel room vs. a preferred room being 5 minutes walk)

8. the recreational activities you prefer at your resort (e.g., do you want the ability to rent water craft, do you want access to pool activities, etc.)

If you’re thinking about a trip to Disney, give me a call and let’s chat about what’s most important to your family.  Balancing all the factors/ parameters is all about matching your family to the perfect resort for you!

Sheila 613-837-0699

July 27, 2011 Posted by | Lush Life Disney, Lush Life Hotels, Lush LIfe Top Posts, Lush Life Travel TIps & Advice | 2 Comments

Guest Blogger, Bill Halloran, writes about Disney’s “Carousel of Progress”

Today, my guest blogger is my hubby, Bill Halloran.  He’s blogging at www.billhalloran.wordpress.com Check out his post about Disney’s “Carousel of Progress.” It’s a spot my family always heads to at Magic Kingdom when we need a break from the sun, and a rest. Terrific attraction.

Thanks, Bill!

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My first visit to Walt Disney World (WDW) in Orlando Florida was soon after I graduated from University.  With electronics as my background and being mechanically inclined, WDW was a young engineer’s dream come true, it was fun and it served up a veritable smorgasbord of synaptic stimulation.  I was hooked and dreamed of being a Disney Imagineer.

I have returned to WDW on several occasions since then, and it never disappoints.

As someone who has always been interested in the latest technology trends and gadgets, there is one attraction I never seem to tire of, Walt Disney’s Carousel of Progress in the Magic Kingdom’s Tomorrowland.

In true Disney form, even the circular theater building which houses Walt Disney’s Carousel of Progress is a ride of sorts.  The show is divided into six scenes with the audience seating located in a ring which mechanically revolves within the outer part of the building while each scene is staged in a stationary wedge-shaped space at the core of the building. 

Consider the engineering behind this, there are 240 seats that span the width of the stage in several rows.  When all those seats are filled, the control required to smoothly accelerate and decelerate all the weight of the audience so that they line up precisely with each wedge-shaped space is impressive.

Originally introduced at the New York City World’s Fair in 1964, the Carousel of Progress was Walt Disney’s idea.  He thought it would be fun to watch the American family go through the 20th Century experiencing all the wonders as they came along.

For Scenes 1 and 6 the audience is seated in front of a drawn stage curtain which has a large crest that looks like a mechanical gear and contains the words “Walt Disney’s Carousel of Progress”.  Scene 1 is a recorded narration welcoming the audience to Walt Disney’s Carousel of Progress and provides the background behind the Carousel of Progress show.  Scene 6 is another recorded narration thanking the audience for sharing in the experience.

Scenes 2 through 5 are set during a different season of the year, on the day of a holiday that typifies each season.  Each scene depicts an Audio-Animatronic family interacting with the latest household gadgets for that era as well as the latest technological advances.

Scene 2 takes place during Valentine’s Day around the beginning of the 20th century where we learn that the latest technological advances for that era include:

  • buildings as high as 20 stories;
  • moving pictures projected on a screen;
  • almost 8000 automobiles in the country;
  • train travel from New York to California in less than 7 days; and
  • two brothers in North Carolina are working on some kind of flying contraption.

 and the family’s latest household gadgets include:

  • gas lamps;
  • a telephone;
  • the latest design in cast iron stoves;
  • a new icebox that holds 50 lbs of ice;
  • a gramophone;
  • an indoor water pump in the kitchen; and
  • a hand-cranked washing machine.

Scene 3 takes place on July 4th in the 1920s where we learn that the latest technological advances for that era include:

  • Charles Lindburg preparing to fly across the Atlantic;
  • Sports stadiums springing up all over;
  • Jazz music;
  • Al Jolsen staring in a movie in which he talks and sings; and
  • train travel from New York to Los Angeles in only 3 days.

 and the family’s latest household gadgets include:

  • a radio;
  • a sewing machine;
  • a homemade cooling device;  and
  • indoor plumbing.

The family feels that considering all the conveniences they now have, they are really on easy street and feel things just can’t get any better.

Scene 4 takes place on Halloween in the 1940s where the family feels that everything is better than ever now and the latest household gadgets include:

  • a larger refrigerator;
  • an automatic dishwasher;
  • a CRT television; and
  • a homemade paint mixing system.

Scene 5 takes place at Christmas time during the first decade of the 21st century where the family’s latest household gadgets include:

  • virtual reality video games;
  • voice activated appliances;
  • laser discs; and
  • a high-definition flat panel television.

Watching Disney’s Carousel of Progress is a very pleasant way for the entire family to pass 20+ minutes in a comfortable air-conditioned theater away from the crowds.   It’s entertaining and educational providing an interesting look back at the evolution of technology and the household gadgets we’ve come to depend on.

In my opinion, the Audio-Animatronics is done so well that you forget that you are watching an animated performance.  Whether it be ribbing between brother and sister or husband and wife, the conversation and interaction between all the family members is believable and entertaining.

And following the show, don’t be surprised if you find yourself singing that catchy theme song played between each scene as you venture back outside to use your Fast Pass:

“There’s a great big beautiful tomorrow, Shining at the end of every day.  There’s a great big beautiful tomorrow, And tomorrow is just a dream away.”

To get a sense of what the show is like, check out this YouTube video I found: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KKz6qdexetY

See what I mean about the theme song?

July 25, 2011 Posted by | Lush Life Disney, Lush Life Guest Bloggers | Leave a comment

Cruise Group Promo Space onboard “Disney Magic” – March Break 2012

Thinking about March break in 2012?  How about a Disney cruise?

I’m holding group promo space on the 7 night Eastern Caribbean cruise onboard the Disney Magic that sails on March 10, 2012.

I have a few inside and ocean view for double and triple occupancy, some quad balconies, and a quint balcony.  I only have the space until August 11, 2012.

If you know Disney Cruises, you know that the ships generally sell out – especially in high traffic time, like March break. And as the ship fills/ supply goes down, but the demand continues to increase as more people want to sail, the price of the cabins that remain goes up.  Supply and demand.  So, you’ll not get a Disney cruise for March break next year cheaper than you will right now.

If you’re interested in getting a detailed quote for your family, give me a call. You need only put $250 deposit/person to secure the space, with a final payment of Dec.26.11.  But, with the Canadian dollar doing so strongly right now, you might just want to pay it all off now! See

http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2011/07/21/canadian-dollar-high_n_906281.html

The Disney Magic sails out of Port Canaveral, and after a couple of sea days, you’ll sail to St Maarten, St. Thomas, and Disney’s own island at Castaway Cay in the Bahamas.  It’s a terrific itinerary.

Give me a call for more details! Sheila 613-837-0699 or email sheila.gh@vision2000.ca

July 22, 2011 Posted by | Lush Life Cruising, Lush Life Disney | Leave a comment

Guest Blogger, Janet Kocur: Disney bound? Try Owner’s Locker-It’s a good thing!

It’s guest blog Monday, again. Fellow Disney-phile, Janet Kocur has graciously agreed to share her experiences about using the Owner’s Locker at Walt Disney World in Orlando. Janet loves the Mouse! She is a DVC member, and a regular user of Owner’s Locker – which is getting lots of referrals from Canadians who visit Mickey often, but don’t want to lug a lot of the same stuff to Orlando and home each time.

Have a read, and see what you think!  Thanks, Janet!

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 When I first started going to WDW, it always entailed bringing items that “might be needed” but never a guarantee that it would be used. Then came the restrictions as to what was allowed in your carryon! No longer was it feasible to just get away for a quick trip to the “Happiest Place on Earth” without having to check in a bag. This was Ok, until the airlines started to charge for this privilege. This then no longer became cost effective. Of course, there were the items that were bought whilst there that you forgot to pack but would need again but too heavy or cumbersome to pack. Mousekeeping got to keep a lot of these items but how much laundry detergent could they use. Then there were the items that were opened but still would be useable but not allowed on a carry on and I know myself wouldn’t use if someone gave to me. Toothpaste comes to mind, as well as shampoo and conditioner and that needed Sun Screen. And if you have teens, you know that they only like certain name brand items. As we all know, coffee isn’t the best in the Happiest Place and then there’s the other beverages us Canadians pay thru the nose for but get for dirt cheap in FLA but have restrictions on how much we are allowed to bring home with us! That’s where the Owner’s Locker comes to the rescue! It’s a great idea that came to fruition for those of us that like to just travel on a whim! No longer do I have to worry about packing band aids, shampoo, conditioner, manicure set, coffee, laundry detergent, softener, toothpaste, toothbrush, sunscreen and the other unmentionables that may or may not be needed! You know what I’m talking about ladies! I also have that special bag that I use at the World only. And a comfy housecoat for those glorious mornings on the balcony of my unit to enjoy a nice big cup of joe, yes in the big mug that I have packed inside my owner’s locker! And for nighttime, that libation that is now chilling in the fridge waiting for my return from a magical day in the parks to help me unwind before my head hits the pillow! Did I mention that extra pair of sandals or a pair of slippers, so all I have to worry about is wearing my running shoes as we travel to get there and back! Oh, and that Sweatshirt that takes up so much room in your suitcase but fits comfortably in that 13” x 22” x 20” purple “home away from home” storage bin. Each Locker comes with dividers to help you organize the contents of your Locker. They’re great for keeping tall items like bottles from falling over. They can be easily reconfigured and customized for how you use your Locker. For example, you can create a special compartment for an item like a water filter. Or they can be removed altogether Here’s where you keep the little items such as a sewing kit, Q-Tips, batteries, tweezers, hair ties and medications. All of the things that might fall to the bottom and get lost! Some Members have managed to build up a small pharmacy in their trays. They have 10 compartments and a lid that clicks shut. When you first get your Locker, you’ll see that we have created a special place for it by using the dividers. Like the dividers, however, you don’t have to keep the organizer tray in your Locker. I’ve heard more than one story about how they make great jewelry boxes or tackle boxes back home! There is a onetime Membership Fee to join Owner’s Locker of $75.00 (which includes your Locker and your initial delivery/pickup which we call a Visit) and a yearly storage/delivery plan which you choose. The Standard Annual Plan costs $99.00 per year and includes storage in our climate controlled warehouse and one free Visit per year. Additional Visits are $25.00 each. The Premium Annual Plan costs $179.00 per year and includes storage in our climate controlled warehouse and unlimited visits per year. And you can switch back and forth as needed. This year we won’t be going to visit Uncle Mickey, so I’ve switch from the Premium to the Standard Plan. John D Van Meter is one of the founders of this wonderful service and you can meet him Tuesday nights at Epcot by France where he’ll gladly buy you a drink and answer any questions you may have! Check them out at http://www.ownerslocker.com and tell them Janet sent you! You won’t regret it!

July 18, 2011 Posted by | Lush Life Disney, Lush Life Guest Bloggers | Leave a comment

Concierge at Disney’s Grand Floridian – Pampering to Die For!

I often will recommend to my clients that they stay at a Disney monorail hotel.  The benefits of the location, and the convenience of access to Magic Kingdom,  just can’t be beat. Last month, we visited WDW for the 19th time, and we again stayed at a WDW monorail hotel. We stayed at the Grand Floridian, Disney’s flagship hotel. And we splurged, and upgraded to the concierge category. Was the pampering good?  To die for!

First of all, continental breakfast each morning makes it easy to get up, grab some food, and hit the park.  Anyone who’s travelled to Disney with kids knows that something fast to satiate the morning appetite works well – kids don’t want to waste a lot of time eating before they hit the rides. So, having a continental breakfast just outside your room door works great!

Second of all, besides staying at a 5* hotel, with the attendant wonderful service, terrific amenities, fine dining and character options, recreational options, as well as great rooms; you get pampered by staff.  There’s a concierge staff (who are set up right across from the food and drink) to help with your dining, other reservations, and/or other needs. So – you can grab a soft drink or snack while they assist you. The snacks are there throughout the day, for rest time – when you come back from a swim and need to get refreshed.

Third of all, there are hot h’or d’oeuvres from 5-7 that will give you a little boost after a long day park hopping… (all with your choice of alcoholic or other beverage).

And then there is the dessert buffet from 8:30 to 10:00 pm, so you can grab a chocolatey snack, with a Grand Marnier, and then head out to see the fireworks.

Is the pampering good at the Grand Floridian?  To die for!

July 17, 2011 Posted by | Lush Life Destinations, Lush Life Disney, Lush Life Hotels, Lush LIfe Top Posts, Lush Life Travel TIps & Advice | Leave a comment