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

Showing posts with label Walt Disney World. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Walt Disney World. Show all posts

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Quality Resort Time and Family Fun

Coloring, scrapbooking, reading, and baking cookies. What a fun, relaxing kind of evening in the room, after a fun-filled day at the water park. As much as I love the theme parks, these trips where we don't go to them are so nice. Hanging out at the resort, lots of swimming, and enjoying some of the other wonders of Walt Disney World.

#makingmemories #familyvacations #itsthetimetogetherthatcounts

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Ice's What's for Lunch!

When on vacation, it's what's for lunch. The Earthquake...Not for the faint of heart, it just a couple people. Serves up to 8. Your choice of 8 flavors and 8 toppings. (Not as sickening as the Kitchen Sink at Beaches & Cream, either.)

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Chicago Travel Show Has Been So Busy!!

Time for another great day at the Chicago Travel & Adventure Show! Cuba, Europe, Cruises, Walt Disney World, and Hawaii, plus a Destination Wedding were all the hot topics yesterday...excited to learn where else I can send today's guests. If you're local, come see us! Next weekend is New York City. It's (always) the vacation booking season!

Monday, January 16, 2017

Who Is Ready to Plan Their Adventures for 2017?

Scotland, Walt Disney World, Aruba, a wedding cruise, Hawaii, Playa del Carmen, New Zealand, Panama Canal cruise, the Grand Canyon, Las Vegas, and a domestic girlfriend's getaway... these are all vacations I'm currently working on booking for some awesome clients. Where can I help you plan an amazing adventure?

#itsvacationtime #wanttogetaway #cruiseplanners #morethanjustcruises

Friday, December 9, 2016

Here We Grow Again

Sometimes I share what I'm doing and most times I don't. Today I'm enjoying lunch with my friend, David Nicely, who I'm thrilled to announce will be joining my team and the journey that I've been on for more than five years now. David has a great love for adventure, and Disney, as I do. He and his family love Walt Disney World, and he's had great fun helping people plan amazing trips to the "Vacation Kingdom" many times. He brings a wealth of sales experience from his primary career and looks forward to jumping in and helping people create memories to last a lifetime. David becomes my third Associate, and I look forward to an exciting year ahead as he completes his CP training and he can get down to the business of making magic for families. It's so fun to look back over the past five+ years and see how far I've come with this travel adventure, and thank God for His continued blessings. David, Liz, and Rachel comprise a great team that I am blessed to lead.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Flashback Friday - Walt Disney World 1992


Time to go back in time thanks to fun old family photos of days gone by.  Growing up in Southern California, I didn't get to go to Walt Disney World as a youth. My playground was Walt's original Magic Kingdom - Disneyland.  But when I turned 21 I did get to visit Walt Disney World, and have been back many times since then.  
Here's a look at the entrance to Space Mountain and the Tomorrowland Station of the Skyway in Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom from October 1992.  Sadly the Skyway closed in 1999, but Space Mountain lives on!   Check out the part of the sign with the rocket ship flying downward.  

Friday, June 28, 2013

Flashback Friday - Disneyland 1978


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 Tomorrowland from April 1978.  The shot itself is a bit blurry, but it's of Sam the Eagle, host of America Sings, an all-audio animatronics show celebrating America's music, which originally opened in 1974 in honor of America's upcoming Bicentennial in 1976.  The show occupied the space originally designed and built for the Carousel of Progress which opened at Disneyland in 1967, and closed in 1973 to be shipped east to Walt Disney World.  Just as COP did, the audience revolved around a series of stages, with each section celebrating a different era in American music, with the eagle and owl seen here popping up in each sequence to tell the story of the various musical styles.  Never meant to be a long-term attraction, since the Bicentennial celebration was only meant to last from 1975 - 1977, the show closed permanently in 1988.  (I was in the last performance as the carousel spun around for it's final performance).  Prior to the closing in 1988, a few geese were stripped of their skin and found a new home in the all-new Disneyland classic Star Tours, when it opened in early 1987.  When the show was dismantled, many of the audio animatronics found new life in the Disneyland classic, Splash Mountain over in the all-new Critter Country (replacing Bear Country) in 1988 as a cost-savings measure.  Thanks the smashing success of both Star Tours and Splash Mountain at Disneyland, a whole slew of new animatronics in the same style had to be created when both Star Tours opened at Walt Disney World's Disney-MGM Studios in 1989 and Splash Mountain was added to Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom and Tokyo Disneyland in 1992.  

Friday, May 24, 2013

Flashback Friday - Walt Disney World 1992


Time to go back in time thanks to fun old family photos of days gone by.  Growing up in Southern California, I didn't get to go to Walt Disney World as a youth. My playground was Walt's original Magic Kingdom - Disneyland.  But when I turned 21 I did get to visit Walt Disney World, and have been back many times since then.  
Here's a look at Main Street U.S.A. in Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom from my visit to Florida in October 1992.  Here we see the original Center Street section on the west side of Main Street.  This section was once a vibrant little part of the park, with the Harmony Barbershop located at the back of this little side street.  Today it's all just part of the Emporium, as this street section was closed in as part of the Emporium back in the late '90's to increase the retail space available. Today the barbershop is located in Town Square instead, near the Fire Station

Friday, May 3, 2013

Featured Foto Friday - New Castles in the Magic Kingdom

The Beast's castle, high atop the new Be Our Guest Restaurant, in Fantasyland at the Magic Kingdom, as seen from the queue to Maurice's Cottage and the new Enchanted Tales with Belle experience.

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Tuesday Trivia - Adventureland Fun

The crocodiles that guests encounter on the Jungle Cruise in Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom are named Ol' Smiley and Ginger. Whatever you do, don't forget that "Ginger Snaps."

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Tuesday Trivia - Epcot Construction

During the park construction of Epcot at Walt Disney World, more than 54 million tons of earth were moved.  It took more than 3 months to pump in all the sand required to fully cover the bed of the World Showcase Lagoon.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Tuesday Trivia - Big Thunder Mountain Railroad

After nearly 10 years of planning, and 18 months of construction, the Magic Kingdom's version of the Frontierland classic Big Thunder Mountain Railroad opened in 1980.  Designed to resemble the look of Utah's Monument Valley, more than 650 tons of steel, 4.675 tons of specially formulated "mud", and more than 9,000 gallons of paint brought "the wildest ride in the wilderness" to life in Central Florida. Construction costs for the attraction came in at about $17 million, the cost to build Disneyland back in 1955. To lend an air of authenticity in set designs, the Imagineers spent more than $300,000 alone on decor items such as the ore-hauling wagon, double-stamp ore crusher, old mill ball and wooden mining flume. 

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Tuesday Trivia - Prince Charming Regal Carrousel

Prince Charming Regal Carrousel (formerly known as Cinderella's Golden Carousel), was an opening day attraction at Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom, but it was certainly not a new carousel.  The 90-horse masterpiece was found and purchased by Disney Imagineers in Maplewood, New Jersey in 1967.  It had been spinning in Olympic Park for more than 39 years, but was originally built and placed into use in Detroit, Michigan in 1917.  The original "Liberty" carousel was in a good state of disrepair and required restoration and preservation.  The band organ that adds classic Disney sounds to the attraction is the original instrument.  The horses, made of hard maple, are also original, having been stripped down, restored and repainted, and they come in five different sizes, with the largest on the outer rows. 

Monday, March 18, 2013

stopher's stuff - Spring Means Busy

When I was young, I loved the advent of spring, simply because it meant that school would be getting out for the summer in just a couple of more months.  In those couple of months we’d also have what was then known as Easter Vacation (since it always came the week leading up to or the week directly following Easter Sunday), and voila, the time would start to fly by.  Factor in a few end of year events, academic testing and some special reward trips for a good results during the school year, and wow, summer was pretty much on the horizon with lazy days ahead.  Fast forward a few decades, and the spring for me as an adult does not have a similar meaning at all.  Sure there will be a few lazy days mixed in during the summer… but honestly I have more lazy, relaxing days in the winter than I do in the summer these past few years.
Spring is starting to arrive in noticeable measure around my town.  Flowers are beginning to show up here and there, and trees are getting ready to burst forth their flowers and leaves.  Birds are chirping everywhere, as nests are starting to be built.  It is a nice time of year.

Spring is also a time that many families turn their thoughts towards planning a vacation – though typically not for the current year.  Many are already planning for the following year, as the first few months of the year typically produce the best bargains for cruise lines and many land destinations.  By booking in advance, families are able to lock in great rates, and then pay the cost over time as their family budget allows, which certainly beats plopping down a large sum all at once.  Although, every so often, there will be that family who either doesn’t want to plan that far in advance, can’t plan that far in advance, or simply doesn’t realize the value or benefit of advance planning. 
In my business I certainly encounter both – those planning for the vacations in 2015 already, and those who want to take the kids and grandkids to Walt Disney World with almost no advance notice.  In fact, I’ve even had a client call me up about two weeks prior to departure to make their WDW reservation, and not even book it until just 72 hours prior to check-in, taking time to debate and decide what they really wanted in regards to accommodations, theme park entries and dining plan options.  Granted as many WDW veterans know, that extreme laissez-faire mentality of waiting until the very last moment and essentially just showing up, letting the theme park experience play itself out as the days go by doesn’t truly jibe in the 21st century as it did throughout the last half of the 20th century.  As much as I love spontaneity in my Disney theme park days, a vacation to Walt Disney World truly does take a bit more advanced planning than 2 weeks prior.  But, when duty calls, as a travel professional, I do what it takes to make my clients happy.  So while that spontaneous client got to enjoy the beginning of spring at one of my favorite places, I’m busy helping many others put their vacation plans into place for not just spring, but summer, fall & winter in the current year, as well as the next two coming years. 

For me, spring will be full of trade & vendor events, family activities, business trips and the continued planning and preparation for my annual trek into the woods with about a hundred Scouts and Adults leaders for Summer Camp.  I’m not complaining about busy.  I’m thankful to have many wonderful things to do and to occupy my time, but those lazy, relaxing days of summer that are so enjoyed by children… sigh… I won’t get those lazy, relaxing days for another 3 seasons yet.  
Wishing you a wonderful spring!

Friday, March 15, 2013

Featured Foto Friday - Splitsville - New Fun at Downtown Disney

Splitsville is the exciting new activity at Walt Disney World. Located in the Downtown Disney West Side, just steps away from DisneyQuest and Cirque du Soleil's La Nouba, it's a modern twist on an American classic - the bowling alley.  It features 50,000 square feet of retro-decor, covering 2 levels, and includes 30 lanes, food (including 2 different sushi bars), live music, billiards, dancing and outdoor patio dining.  Splitsville certainly is NOT your father's bowling alley!  

Monday, March 11, 2013

stopher's stuff - The Years Have Just Flown By

Today I not only say that another week has flown by, but I’ll say that another YEAR has flown by as well.  But not only that, this week marks the beginning of the end of a another DECADE as well.  What’s that all mean you say?  Well, tomorrow I get to mark a very special day with the one person in this life whom I love the most, and have spent the most intimate and quality time – my lovely bride. Tomorrow is our 19th wedding anniversary, and as such, we are closing out another great year together, but also embarking into the final year of our second decade together as a married couple. 
To my lovely bride...

It hardly seems possible though that it has already been 19 years since we made our vows, and then later enjoyed a cool party with many family and friends, before embarking out on our own to enjoy that all-important honeymoon period prior to officially “starting life”.  For many that honeymoon might be spent on a tropical island, or enjoying the art & culture of the “old world” in Europe.  For us, it was in a tropical location, and we did enjoy some “old world” charm, granted re-created charm, but charm none-the-less.   We honeymooned at Walt Disney World, and had a wonderful time.  It was my third visit to the Central Florida resort, and my lovely bride’s first.  And in those 19 years, a LOT has changed at my favorite Central Florida destination.  The resort of choice … The Grand Floridian Beach Resort as it was known back then (today it’s Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa). 
We married in March, because my lovely bride wanted a winterish wedding, without being in the actual midst of winter.  Had we known then that if we’d just waited about 2 more months we could have stayed at then brand-new Wilderness Lodge (known now as Disney’s Wilderness Lodge), we probably would have delayed it just a bit.  The Lodge is just about our favorite resort at all of Walt Disney World (Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge is a close second).  That woodsy, Pacific Northwest feel is right up our alley thematically, and honestly, you just can’t beat the quiet, quaint ambiance that just exudes throughout the Lodge.  But we didn’t know back then that a) it was under construction, or b) that it was schedule for a grand opening in early May.  Back then the internet was still a relatively new phenomenon that hadn’t reached the masses yet.  Many of the very popular Disney fan sites weren’t even a glimmer in anyone’s eye yet, beside that - we didn’t even own our own computer yet! 

Since then the resort has added about 8 new resorts, added a water park, added the "West Side" to the Downtown Disney Area (then known as the Lake Buena Vista Shopping Village), and added a theme park - plus a wide array of rides, attractions, shows, shopping & dining experiences, ticketing options, and so much more.  A LOT has changed. 

So yeah, a lot has changed in those 19 years, and not just at Walt Disney World.  Here are just a few fun facts from our life since we married 19 years ago:
  • we’ve lived in 3 states – California, Michigan and Indiana
  • we’ve belonged to 2 churches – North Orange Christian Church and White River Christian Church
  • we’ve grown our family by 3, having 2 sons and 1 daughter
  • we’ve watched all 3 grow too quickly… the eldest will be graduating high school about 2 ½ months after our 20th anniversary
  • we’ve owned 4 computers (the first was purchased a full year after we married), plus went through 4 different work-provided computers
  • we’ve each replaced a vehicle twice
  • we’ve each changed jobs twice
  • we've started 2 of our own businesses
  • we’ve lived in 4 different domiciles – 1 townhouse, 2 duplexes, and 1 house
  • we've added to our portfolio an investment home plus several vacation home options thanks to the Disney Vacation Club
  • we’ve had 3 different pets – 1 box turtle and 2 different cats (NOT my choice at all…I am allergic to and hate cats, but I love my wife and thus tolerate having a cat in the house for my wife’s sake)
  • we’ve used 8 different cell phones (only in the last 11 years though as we never had one prior to coming to Indiana) – 5 for me, and 3 for her
  • we’ve visited 24 states together (I’ve been to a lot more, but here I’m just referring to the two of us together)
  • we’ve enjoyed 6,935 days as a married couple or nearly 166,440 hours as a married couple or nearly 9,986,400 minutes as a married couple (though the hours and minutes are approximations based on total days)
  • we’ve had our ups and downs – but LOVE has been at the heart of our relationship in each of those years.
Until next time – make it a great week.  Do something positive for someone else.  Tell those special people in YOUR life how much they mean to you.   Celebrate the big and the little things.  I know I will.   

Friday, March 1, 2013

Featured Foto Friday - A Glimpse of What's to Come

A glimpse of what's coming in New Fantasyland at the Magic Kingdom, peeking through the fence, in officially sanctioned view holes. Progress continues on the all-new Seven Dwarfs Mine Ride and a good pace, though the new ride won't open until spring 2014. The fence is decorated with concept artwork (right) and fun images connecting surrounding attractions (left), as the new attraction will be centrally located between the new Beauty & the Beast themed attraction, restaurants & shop, and the Little Mermaid attraction, as well as existing attractions of Winnie the Pooh and the Mad Tea Party.  

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Tips on Thursday - RFID A Game Changer for Disney

It has been hailed as a game-changing technology for the theme park industry.  It has been reviled and feared by many who don’t want changes to “their” theme park experience.  It is something that I have been slow to speak on, as I don’t know that I fully appreciate it for what it can and will do yet or not. At the very least I’m being cautious before making any public judgments on the system, waiting to reserve personal judgment on it.  But no matter, my thoughts or feelings Walt Disney World fully announced last month that their new MagicBand bracelet is here, and will enable guests at Walt Disney World to enter the parks, purchase food and merchandise, unlock their hotel rooms and access certain rides with a wave of their wrists. A similar system is supposed to be unveiled at Disneyland next year.  

But the new MagicBand bracelet is not a singular introduction,rather it is merely part of a larger, technological initiative known as MyMagic+, which Walt Disney Parks and Resorts has been, and will be, rolling out throughout the Walt Disney World resort complex over the next several months in an attempt to improve the overall guest experience. 

Dennis Speigel, president of International Theme Park Services, a Cincinnati-based theme park consulting company, stated, “It’s going to reshape how the customer interfaces with the park.  Disney always sets the bar for our industry. … This is the future.”

Within the official announcement, made by Tom Staggs, Chairman of Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, was this statement by Staggs,  “Imagine booking guaranteed ride times for your favorite shows and attractions, even before setting foot in the park, with MyMagic+, guests will be able to do that and more, enabling them to spend more time together and creating an experience that’s better for everyone.”

So what exactly IS MyMagic+?

MyMagic+ is certainly more than just the new wristbands.  The system itself includes a new website and a mobile app called My Disney Experience, but the real key to MyMagic+, both literally and figuratively, is an RFID (radio-frequency identification) technology embedded in each MagicBand bracelet. The technology, known as FastPass+, is an enhanced version of the 14 year old FastPass system, whereby guests are able to secure a “reservation time window” for the top attractions, moving on to enjoy other areas of the park then returning within the “reservation window” to essentially skip a large portion of the attraction line.  The existing system certainly has many ardent fans and detractors.  So time will tell if the new FastPass+ is truly an enhancement to the overall guest experience or more of a hindrance.

As presented by Staggs, FastPass+ is purported to enable guests to book not only their dining reservations in advance of their vacation, but also other experiences, including reserving times for certain attractions and shows well in advance of their actual park visit. Additionally, guests  are supposed to be able to reserve viewing areas for fireworks and parades, as well as schedule meetings with Disney characters long before they ever set foot inside the theme parks.  And the MagicBand bracelets provide access to all the FastPass+ experiences selected and will serve as a connection to Disney’s PhotoPass program, which enables guests to take, store and share their photos from the theme parks. In order to allow flexibility, the new system is supposed to also give guests with smartphones the ability to change their pre-made plans while they are actually inside the parks. 

Resort room locks have been changed, now using the RFID
technology. Guests simply hold their Key to the World card close
 to the Mickey head, instead of pushing it into a slot, as formerly done.
When the Mickey head lights up turning green, the lock is opened
and the guest may enter the room.
The system certainly sounds impressive, but at the same time it does give a very real feeling that the theme park experience will no longer be a spontaneous one.  When FastPass was first introduced in 1999, and with the advent of pre-planning meals up to 180 days in advance the spontaneity factor was certainly diminished.  This only augments it even further.  I know from personal experience I have a hard time figuring out where I want to eat six months in advance of a trip – and now I’ll need to make sure to figure out which characters I want to see, as well as which attractions I want to ride so far in advance!!  Sounds crazy to me, but Disney certainly has the research behind their programming to indicate that many guests LOVE this type of experience… planned down to the last moment.  Thank goodness for the in-park flexibility of being able to make changes.  Hopefully this new system will actually allow for enough vacancies at attractions and restaurants in order to actually mean changes can be made easily!  Again, only time will tell.  

PIN-setting device now found at resort Front Desks around Walt
Disney World property, where guests select their personal pin
when adding their credit card to their Key to the World card,
and eventually their new MagicBand.
Initially the new MagicBand will be made available to select Walt Disney World Resort hotel guests, as the same technology is being used within the resorts themselves.  All room entry locks are in the process of being converted to the new locks as shown above. Guests simply pass their Key to the World card - or the new MagicBands - near the Mickey shape, and when it lights up green, they are able to enter their room.. Other guests will be able to use their standard ticket to access the benefits of MyMagic+, such as making FastPass+ selections on the My Disney Experience website. MagicBand bracelets will be distributed in lieu of the paper tickets currently used. The bracelets will also serve as an optional payment technology when linked to credit card information, if guests choose to use it.  Eventually all paper tickets will be completely phased out as this new technology completely replaces it in all of the theme parks within the Disney universe. 

MyMagic+… the future is now, and coming true within the Disney theme parks in 2013 and beyond!  

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Today in Disney Parks and Resorts History - Illuminations Debuts

January 30, 1988 – Walt Disney World – Lake Buena Vista, FL

Walt Disney World debuts the all-new IllumiNations, a nightly show at EPCOT Center, which includes 13 special-effects projectors, theme music, 12 wire/mesh grids, 180 nozzles which create the fountains and 783 fireworks pieces.