It's a Great Big Beautiful World! Let's Discover it Together

Showing posts with label Character Interactions. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Character Interactions. Show all posts

Friday, February 15, 2013

Featured Foto Friday - Even Princesses Love to Sail

Character interactions and meet & greets are not only popular in the Disney theme parks, but at sea too!  Here Princess Tiana, Aurora, Cinderella and Belle love greeting their fans inside the central Atrium onboard the Disney Magic.  Viewed from above you cannot see the massive lines of children and parents just waiting their turn for an autograph, picture and hugs from some of their favorite princesses, who apparently love going to sea too!  

Friday, January 11, 2013

Today in Disney Parks and Resorts History - Disneyland's 35th Celebration

January 11, 1990 – Disneyland – Anaheim, CA

Disneyland kicks off its 35th anniversary celebration.  Reuniting in front of the Main Street Train Station for the first time since the 1955 Grand Opening live broadcast on ABC TV are all three of the original broadcast hosts:  Art Linkletter, Bob Cummings, and Ronald Reagan to kick off the anniversary celebration featuring the all-new Party Gras Parade, with New Orleans-style floats and 40-foot-tall balloons of famed Disney characters in their best party styles: Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Goofy and Roger Rabbit.  

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Tuesday Trivia - Chef Mickey's

4,000 eggs.  1,700 Mickey Mouse waffles & 1,500 pancakes.  That's the quantity served daily at Chef Mickey's at Disney's Contemporary Resort.  Wow! 

Friday, August 10, 2012

Flashback Friday - Disneyland 1976


Time to go back in time thanks to fun old family photos of days gone by.  Growing up in Southern California, Disneyland was a popular destination for our family.  Sometimes we were there just the four of us, other times with extended family members.  Oftentimes my brother and I would get to go for school or church incentives, or as awards for a successful sports season with the teams we played on.  Trips with friends, or friends families were often the case as well, and as we became teenagers, the park was a popular destination to hang out.  

Here's a look at July 1976 of my brother and I with Gideon, from Pinocchio.  Back in the day when there were more characters to be seen than the Princesses, the Fab Five, Pooh & Friends and a handful of Pixar favorites.  I miss those days because there were a lot more characters in the parks, and you were able to capture moments like this, with them just out and about working their way through the parks, instead of in a structured setting where you have to wait in a line for who knows who long just to have a moment with the character and get his/her autograph.  I realize the way that they do it now is designed to be "fairer" and give people a chance to see them, but gone are the impromptu moments like this where mom and dad tell their kids to run over and say hi to so and so and then snap a picture. 

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Sunday Spotlight - Disney's Vero Beach Resort

Disney's Vero Beach® Resort first opened October 1, 1995.  It is a Disney Vacation Club® (DVC) timeshare property, and was the first DVC resort to be opened outside of the Walt Disney World® Resort.
Disney’s Vero Beach® Resort is a blended resort featuring both traditional guest rooms and Disney Deluxe villas.  It is comprised of 115 guest rooms and 95 villas comprised of Deluxe Studios, 1-Bedroom, 2-Bedroom and 3-Bedroom Beach Cottages. 

  • Deluxe Studios are 375 square feet and can accommodate up to 4 guests, plus 1 child under age 3 in a crib.  They include a kitchenette, 2 queen-size beds and a private porch or balcony.
  • 1-Bedrooms are 880 square feet, and can accommodate up to 5 guests, plus 1 child under age 3 in a crib. They include a fully equipped kitchen, washer & dryer, king-size bed in the master bedroom, a queen-size sleeper sofa plus a sleeper chair in the living room, whirlpool tub in the master bathroom, and a private porch or balcony. 
  • 2-Bedrooms are 1,255 square feet, and can accommodate up to 9 guests, plus 1 child under 3 in a crib. They offer all that a 1-Bedroom has plus a 2nd bedroom with 2 queen-size.
  • 3-Bedroom Beach Cottages are 2,175 square feet, and can accommodate up to 12 guests, plus 1 child under 3 in a crib. They offer all of the amenities of the 2-Bedroom, plus they include a 3rd  bedroom with 2 queen-size beds, a full dining room, additional private balcony and are 2-story rooms.

 The resort includes 1 feature pool with waterslide, and  a water play area;  The Spa at Disney’s Vero Beach Resort; fitness center;  miniature golf; bicycle rentals;  tennis;  shuffleboard;  fishing & surfing lessons;  private access to the beach/seashore;  an arcade and other assorted recreational activities including Disney movies after dark.

The resort features 2 table service restaurants:  Shutters and Sonya’s.  It also features lounge/bar locations: The Green Cabin Room and Bleachers.  A Character breakfast is offered on weekends as well.

Disney’s Vero Beach® Resort is a deluxe villas level resort located on the eastern coast of Florida, along the Atlantic Ocean, about 2 hours away from Walt Disney World® Resort. 

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Character Interactions at Aulani

Character interactions are as much a part of the "Disney Experience" as rides and attractions at the various theme parks around the globe.  Here at Aulani, the total number of interactions is lower than at Disneyland or Walt Disney World, and the character selection is certainly smaller - but those characters who are here on vacation at Aulani - are such a huge part of what makes Aulani a Disney resort.  While I've been at Aulani I have personally interacted with several characters as seen here:

My brother, who lives in Honolulu, came over to Aulani for a visit and tour yesterday.  It was cool to hang with him, and show him around the resort.  He came over and saw some of the construction progress for me, but hasn't been over here since it opened.  We enjoyed lunch together at 'Ama 'Ama, and then, even though he was embarrassed, I made sure we got our picture with the Goof!  He said repeatedly he was "too old for that kind of thing", but I didn't care, because I'm NOT too old, and neither is he. (We haven't had a picture taken together with a character since we were around 9 & 12 respectively!  Being the "pesky younger brother", it was cool to embarrass him once again like I did many years ago!)

Other characters are here, but I didn't get the opportunity to interact with them.  Mainly Chip & Dale, Donald Duck (I did see him, just from a distance), and I'm told Lilo makes appearances as well.  No princesses or other characters - but that's okay, since they wouldn't really fit in within the environment of Aulani anyway.  

Friday, January 27, 2012

Aulani – How “Disney” Is It?

Much has been said and written online over the years about Disney’s “off-site” resorts in Vero Beach and Hilton Head Island, and how they aren’t “Disney enough”; especially considering the fact that neither are close to any Disney theme park – at least not close when you compare them to the resorts at Walt Disney World or DisneylandDisney’s Vero Beach Resort is two hours +/- from Walt Disney World, and of course Disney’s Hilton Head Island Resort is two states away from Walt Disney World.  Though both resorts do have rooms for rent to anyone who’d like to pay to stay, both were built as Disney Vacation Club (DVC) properties, with the majority of the resorts held for use by DVC members. Given the length of time they took to “sell out” to DVC members, many in the online Disney community (especially on a certain DVC related board that I read and frequent often), consider both Vero Beach and Hilton Head to be virtual failures.  It’s no wonder it took Disney nearly 12 years to first announce another off-site resort.

When Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa was first announced, the blogosphere began lighting up with questions about the viability of such a resort – especially being in Hawaii, a mere ocean away from any Disney theme park.  Would the fact that it would be a combined traditional hotel / DVC resort give it better chances than the original two off-site resorts? What kinds of things would need to be done in order to provide guests with an authentic “Disney” experience, given the nearest Disney theme park is roughly 4,000 miles away – across an ocean, not just mere states this time. 

Among the many questions that I would often read online – questions such as:

  • “Oahu is not our favorite island in Hawaii… is there enough to do to support a week’s stay at Aulani?”
  • “How can Disney NOT repeat past mistakes made at Vero Beach & Hilton Head?”
  • “How ‘Disney’ will it really be?”
  • “Ko Olina is so far from Waikiki – will people really want to stay so far away?”

As the grand opening got closer last summer, the PR machine of Disney got into overdrive in order to make sure people would be aware of answers to each of these questions, or at least give enough of a teaser-type response that would encourage further research for the potential guest to figure it out for themselves, ensuring that they would indeed want to make a trek to the leeward side of the island of Oahu – and stay for a while.

In preparation for my own stay at Aulani this week, I reviewed a lot of information both online, and in the various travel resources that are available to me directly from Disney.  I was both excited and curious to see the “Disney touches” for myself.   And after having been here for a couple of days already, I will happily report that the resort is “Disney” enough.  It is not overbearing to the point of basically hitting you over the head with its’ “Disney-ness”, but it is filled with charming details like you will find at any other Disney resort at both Walt Disney World and Disneyland.  Over the next few days / week, I plan to take each of the questions listed above and provide some straight forward, honest replies.  I will of course sprinkle opinions in here as well, but hopefully the information given will provide you the reader, the opportunity to make a better informed decision as to not IF you would like to visit Aulani – but WHEN. 

Just what kind of details, you ask, I’m sure… well, here are but a few that I both a) had previous knowledge to, and b) discovered for myself as a guest. These are in no particular order, and are both a and b responses intermingled together:

  • Character Dining – yes, there is a character Breakfast at Makahiki on the first floor of the resort.  It is currently offered Wednesday, Saturday & Sunday mornings.  Whether or not it is expanded to additional mornings remains to be seen, but so far, this has been a popular offering at Aulani.
  • Character Meet & Greets – they are available here.  I’ve personally seen Mickey, Minnie, & Goofy, and have been told that Chip & Dale, and even Lilo & Stitch are here.  Others may make appearances from time to time as well, according to various Cast Members with whom I spoke during my stay.
  • Disney’s PhotoPass – yep, it’s available here for those guests wishing to capture their favorite memories, and of course they are at the ready during those character interactions.
  • Hidden Mickeys – like any other resort, these abound throughout Aulani, though many of them have a bit of a stylized, Hawaiian flare to them.  There are many of the traditional 3 circle heads to be found, but many others as well that say Mickey in a more subdued manner.
  • Mickey Premium Bars – yep, you can get your Premium Bar fix while here.  These delicious treats are available at Kalepa’s Store on the third floor (Lobby level). My personal favorite - Itzakadoozie - is available at Aulani too!  Yummy! 
  • Refillable Resort Mugs – yep, they have those here as well, with three different refill stations.
  • Pool-side fun – for those of you who love to spend time at the pools at Walt Disney World, and are very accustomed to the games, dance contests and the like that the lifeguards put on – those are here too!
  • Music – like so many Disney attractions, movies, theme parks and yes, resorts – Aulani is filled with distinctive music to help set the tone for the entire experience.  In the lobby, hallways, restaurants, and even outside in the Waikolohe Valley water play complex – music plays an integral part of the story unfolding before the guest throughout the resort.  Whether it is simply background enhancements, or live performances on various stages throughout the resort, music comes alive throughout the day and night at Aulani, helping to fully immerse the guests into the environment of the resort.
  • Night-time Movies – these aren’t shown poolside here at Aulani – but they do have them, at least 3 times per week.
  • Night-time Storytelling & Campfires – just like you might find at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge, Disney's Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground and other resorts – they have those here as well.
  • Theming – Disney is very well known for its immersive environments and thematic elements in both theme parks and resorts.  Each successive resort designed and built in the past couple of decades have really underscored this reality, as the imagineers continue to surround guests with a near total immersive quality.  Personally I believe that Disney’s Wilderness Lodge and Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge at Walt Disney World, and Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel at Disneyland accomplish this feat in remarkable ways.  Aulani takes the lessons learned from those resorts and goes even further.  The imagineers delivered a resort hotel that is rich in thematic elements that not only play tribute to the Hawaiian culture, but rather completely embrace it.  Aulani is not just another sterile, white, box-like hotel lining the beaches of Waikiki – but rather plays tribute to so many aspects of native Hawaiian culture. 
  • Hidden Details – one of the really fun details that I discovered while here, are some of the many hidden details.  I’d heard a lot about all of the hidden Menehune scattered around the resort, which play to the Hawaiian folklore, but I didn’t know that just as there are carved animals all over the “Tree of Life” at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park – there are hidden carved animals all throughout the Waikolohe Stream (the lazy river).   Creatures great and small common to the Hawaiian Islands and Pacific Ocean can be found in the rockwork all around the stream.  You’ll definitely want to search them out while enjoying the quiet, relaxing, fun of this lazy river, which in my mind, is nearly as fun and enjoyable as the lazy rivers at both Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon and Disney’s Blizzard Beach water parks.
  • Excellent Children’s Programming – available through Aunty’s Beach House, there is just a plethora of activities for the little ones to the bigger ones, and not just via the paid childcare program either.  From scavenger hunts, to animal husbandry activities to parties with Chip & Dale – Disney has once again placed great emphasis on making sure the younger set has exciting, fun-filled things to do while mom & dad enjoy some couple time – or things to do with mom & dad as a family. 
  • Activities for Tweens & Teens – Disney also provides an abundance of activities, events, and fun for the older kids as well. 
  • Excurisions – since there are no theme parks to hop on a bus and visit – Disney has teamed up with Adventures by Disney to create some very enjoyable, unique and fun-filled day excursions (just as if you were on a cruise vacation stopping in port for the day) to other parts of Oahu, or even to other islands within Hawaii.  Each week there are day-specific excursions, such as horseback riding at Kualoa Ranch, or the Manoa Valley Rainforest Hike, or the Honolulu Academy of Arts/Bishop Museum experience.  These are but a few of the numerous offerings available.   Or you could simply create your own excursions – to places like Diamond Head, or the Dole Plantation (and get a Dole Whip!), the North Shore, Pearl Harbor, Waikiki, and so many more – the opportunities abound.

So, in a nutshell, is Aulani “Disney” enough?  My response to that question is a resounding YES.  There are plenty of Disney touches throughout the resort, giving each guest that Disney “fix”.  For a beach vacation that gives guests both the opportunity to simply relax and enjoy the beach – while still providing ample opportunities to get out, explore and play - I would recommend Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa in a heartbeat.  It's Disney "enough" for me!

Monday, November 7, 2011

Magical Mondays - Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom - 2012... You Just Interested Me

So I was just reading through the Disney Parks Blog for interesting things to post on my Facebook page, and saw that Yzma & Kronk will be included in the list of n'er-do-wells that will populate this new interactive game throughout Magic Kingdom Park next year.  That is so cool. I've never gotten into Kim Possible, nor have my kids, but this one seems like one that we might try - if only because of Yzma & Kronk!  We absolutely LOVE "The Emperor's New Groove" - and have often discussed what kind of cool attractions could be added to the parks based on those amazingly fun characters. Just think of it - an "Yzma's Secret Lab" coaster?!?  I would LOVE that, provided of course they don't slap tacky, over-sized earrings on each guest as they go careening downhill!  That film just cracks me up time and time again. I have driven cast members nuts before searching for Yzma pins to collect. There aren't many.  A few. But not many.  I'm glad to see that they will be used in the park, even if only for a virtual, interactive game.