Foto Friday

Disney's Animal Kingdom
Disney’s Animal Kingdom – Africa

 

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Disney Resort News

The iconic Walt Disney World Resort hotels, Disney’s Polynesian Resort, is undergoing a complete re-imagining! The  renovation includes a new food & beverage experience, Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto. Plus, the hotel is returning to its original 1971 name, Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort.

Disney's Polynesian ResortThe biggest construction impact will affect the beloved pool. The Nanea Volcano Pool and Slide will close for “enhancements” beginning July 26 through early 2015.

Guests staying at the resort while the main pool is closed will receive one (1) complimentary ticket for each member of their party to visit Disney’s Blizzard Beach Water Park during their stay. Transportation will be provided and guests will enter through a dedicated check-in point where they will receive their complimentary tickets and towels.

In the Great Ceremonial House, several areas will be revamped including the lobby.

 

 

MyMagic+ and FastPass+

If you haven’t been to Walt Disney World in the last year, things…they are a changing! A new system has finally been completely rolled out although it’s still being tweaked and kinks are still being worked out.

MyMagic+ is a complete system of keeping all data together and simplifying the experience for guests. The My Disney Experience tool, MagicBands, FastPass+, all work together.

What is FastPass+

One of the big changes is to Disney’s FastPass system. The old familiar FastPass Ticket system is gone. All the ticket machines have been removed. FastPass+ is in full effect. Guests can book their Fastpass+ selections 60 days in advance for Resort guests and 30 days for non-resort guests. This gives an advantage to buying your tickets in advance and not waiting to get them at the park.

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Guests can choose 3 FastPass+ selections limited to one park. Then, once they have used up those 3 experiences, they can book additional Fastpass+ attractions, one at a time at kiosks  in the parks. They are not limited to one park for the additional ones. So a guest could schedule their 3 for a morning in one park, then hop to another park and book at the kiosks there based on what is available.

Booking FastPass+

So how do you book these FassPass+ attractions? Using the My Disney Experience website or app on a smartphone or tablet. You sign up for an account and set everything up linking your reservation and ticket numbers. Have the lead person set it up, add your family and friends and then you can book the FastPass+ for everyone in your traveling party. You can use the app in the parks to check wait times and maps, and of course change your FastPass+ selections on the fly if you need/want to.

How does it work:

The system works by using an RFID (radio frequency identification) chip embedded on the tickets or in the Magic Band. Ticket media are now like credit cards with the chip embedded with your My Disney Experience profile and information. Magic Bands are a band/bracelet you wear embedded with the chip. Non resort guests can buy Magic Bands if they wish.

Magic Bands

Magic Bands are free to resort guests and can be customized by choosing colors and names printed on the inside of the band.  They ship out before your trip (or can be picked up at your resort at check in) and can be used right from your arrival at Orlando Airport for Disney’s Magical Express if you are using that option. You Magic Band is your Key to the World card. It will open your hotel room door, it is your park ticket and FastPass+ ticket, and it can be used with a pin number to make purchases and charge to your room. Your ADR’s (Advanced Dining Reservations) can also be stored booked through your My Disney Experience account and they will be listed there for you. The bands are comfortable to wear and waterproof.

MagicBands

If it all seems complicated and overwhelming, no worries. It’s not too bad once you get the hang of it and experience it and of course, a good Disney Travel Planner, like myself,  will do a lot of the set up and booking for you or with you, free of charge!

 

Contemporary Resort

100_0223Disney’s Contemporary Resort is the “face” of Disney Resorts. The first resort to open and the sight of it is what most people associate with Disney resorts.

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Disney’s Contemporary Resort offers some unique features that make it an excellent choice for families. While lacking in an over-the-top theme that many of the other resorts have, the resort is modern, fresh and fun!

Rooms

The Contemporary offers 655 rooms between the main Tower with either Theme Park or Bay Lake views and the Garden Wing. Rooms are exactly the same in either building but note that in the Garden Wing, 1st-floor rooms have a patio, but second-floor rooms do not have a balcony. Garden Wing rooms are often a better bargain and a much quieter location just a short few minutes walk to the Tower. Club Level is offered via their Atrium Club or Tower Club. Club level offers concierge service, lounge with continental breakfast, midday snacks and evening wine, hor ‘d oeuvres, cordials, and desserts.

Recreation

Two heated pools with a slide, whirlpools, water feature, poolside cabanas available for rental overlook Bay Lake. A beach for sunbathing and viewing the evening Water Parade, tennis, health club, arcade, and a marina with watercraft rentals. Activities at the resort include movies under the stars and poolside fun in the afternoon led by Cast Members.

Dining

Disney’s Contemporary Resort offers one of the best signature dining establishments on site. The California Grill is located high atop the hotel with its own private terrace for viewing the nightly fireworks show, Wishes at Magic Kingdom.

Downstairs, the Wave serves breakfast, lunch and dinner while on the 4th floor concourse Chef Mickey’s offers your favorite characters for a buffet breakfast, lunch or dinner. Also on the 4th floor concourse, the Contempo Cafe is a quick-service with plenty of seating, dine while watching the monorail come and go. A poolside bar and grill serves up snacks and meals and beverages.

Transportation/Location

LOCATION LOCATION LOCATION!

That’s right, the location of this resort is a major benefit of staying here. It’s walking distance to the Magic Kingdom park. A short 7-10 minute stroll along a pathway brings you to the front gates of the Magic Kingdom. Nothing beats walking home after the fireworks while everyone else is scrambling for the buses and boats.

Another super benefit…the Monorail goes right through the hotel’s main concourse. It’s a sight to see and entertainment in itself. Hop on the Monorail (resort line) to get to the Ticket & Transportation Center where you can switch to the Epcot Express. Or stay on and visit the other Deluxe resorts on the Resort Line. Stops at the Polynesian Resort, the Grand Floridian Resort and then the Magic Kingdom Park before arriving back at the Contemporary. Buses will take you to Hollywood Studios and Animal Kingdom as well as Downtown Disney. The Contemporary boat launch offers service to the Wilderness Lodge and Fort Wilderness as well.

The location and convenience of the Contemporary is perfect for families, especially those traveling with young children and using strollers. The walkway and the monorail eliminate the need to wake a sleeping child, and we all know kids need all the sleep they can get after a day in the parks. When we stayed here, the walkway was our favorite feature, because it was so easy and convenient we stayed for fireworks and spent more evenings at Magic Kingdom than we would have otherwise.

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Have you stayed at the Contemporary? What did you prefer, the walkway to Magic Kingdom or the Monorail being right there?

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Disney World FREE Dining Promo

It’s the most wonderful time of the year ~ Disney World’s free dining promotion for fall 2014 has arrived!

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When you buy a non-discounted room and ticket package at select Walt Disney World Resort hotels (at least 3 nights with a 2-day ticket), you’ll get a dining plan for free! Quick-service dining is included at value resorts, and regular dining is included at moderate, deluxe, and deluxe villa resorts.

This special offer is for arrivals most nights: 8/31-10/3/2014, 10/26-11/1/2014, 11/9-11/20/2014 and 12/12-12/23/2014.

The number of rooms allocated for this offer is limited, so please contact me if you’re interested in taking advantage of this wonderful deal. Promotion begins today, May 7, 2014.

Magical Moment

There is something about Disney World. It’s hard to explain or put into words what it is. More than one person has told me about “that feeling when you walk down Main Street and see the castle” , that feeling when you are there, the entire world goes away. I know it well, I feel it too and it’s why I love the place so much.

As much as I already loved it, there was a specific event that amplified the love of Disney for me. It was a chain of events that led to a very short 2 second moment. But that 2 second moment was so exciting and special, I knew I was hooked for life.

It started on our family trip in August of 2010. I took a video, a short little 6 second video with my Flip Camera. I took lots of videos. But this one was really cute.

This was the year Disney was prepping for their Share the Memories theme for the following year. In September they started a website where people could share their memories, pictures and videos of their magical moments. I shared this video and another cute one from our trip. And life went on.

In December I was contacted by Disney marketing. They wanted me to sign release forms because they may want to use my video for something or other. I did. They sent me some lovely character lithograph prints as a thank you and told me if it was used in a commercial they would sent me a copy on DVD. Commercials started popping up on tv where Disney used people’s actual home videos, some shared from that site to promote their Share the Memories theme. These were mainly people surprising their kids with trips, they all made me cry. In January, on my internet travels one day I saw that this new show would be debuting soon. The Magic, the Memories and You. A 10 minute lights and special effects show projected onto the castle each night before Wishes.

A few days later, was the debut for the media. One of the big blogs posted the video online the next day. I sat and watched it, teary eyed the whole time. Then it happened, almost at the end, the last possible moment, the last little face on the screen before it goes dark and Walt says, “to all who come to this Happy place…” there he was. My little guy’s face up on the castle at Magic Kingdom. I jumped, I screamed. I called my husband right away and  told him that we are going to Disney again this summer. We HAVE GOT to see this in person! That little moment from riding Dumbo made it into the show.

We did go that August. We sat right in front of the castle and got to see it in person. It was an incredibly magical moment. Fan for life now. And so is my little guy. He is my Disney nut.

We’ve had other pixie dust moments on trips, but that moment was the BIG one. The one that sealed the deal for me and my love of Disney.

I’d love to hear from you, what are some of your magical moments from your trips?

Benefits of Using a Disney Travel Planner

A trip to Walt Disney World can be an overwhelming vacation to plan for. This is especially true for first-time visitors. There is so much to see and do and of course, everyone wants to “see it all!”

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First things first…you can’t and won’t see it all, no matter how many days your trip is. You can, however, maximize your vacation time with less stress by getting professional FREE planning help.

That’s right, the #1 thing many people don’t know is that using the services of a Disney Travel Planner is FREE.

Disney, like most other suppliers in the Travel Industry, pays agencies a commission. The Guest pays the same whether they do all the work themselves or have an expert do it for them.

When planning my first trip with my family I spent months…it was basically a full-time job for me, researching and planning our trip for several hours a day. I wanted it to be perfect and made it my mission to study everything I could find. Had I not been lucky enough to be a stay a home mom at the time, I would not have been able to devote that time to our vacation planning. Luckily I also had a professional background in the travel industry and had been to Disney World a few times prior.

 

A Disney Travel Planner will get you the best deal. They are current on all the best offers and can determine which one is best suited to your family and situation. Even if you are already booked, your agent will keep up to date and switch your booking over to a new special offer when it becomes available if possible. Your agent worries about getting you the best price, not you. Your agent will spend the time on the phone lines getting you the best option so you don’t have to.

A Disney Travel Planner will suggest and even book all your dining for you. Disney restaurant and special character meals can sell out fast, 6 months before your travel date! It can be daunting to even think about where you are going to eat 6 months in advance and then wrestle with the online booking system or spend hours on the phone with Disney Dining. But if you little ones have their hearts set on dinner with a certain character you’ll be out of luck if you don’t plan for it well in advance. Your Disney Planner can and will do this for you.

A Disney Travel Planner will give you as much itinerary planning help as needed. Whether it be just some simple tips if you have your own plan down to planning out a detailed itinerary if you want step by step guidance.

A Disney Travel Planner will recommend the best hotel option for your family. There are so many options at Disney World and a wide price range. A Disney Planner can narrow down the best options to suit you and your theme park touring style.

By getting help with the planning from a travel agent that works with an Authorized Disney Vacation Planner, like me :), you’ll be sure to make the best of the time you have and come home with the most MAGICAL of memories!

Stay up to date with me on Facebook or Twitter, follow this blog and be sure to contact me ( barbara@atimetotreasuretravel.com )when you are ready to head back to the House of Mouse!

Deals and Steals

WOW, lots happening today!

FREE DINING

The BIG news of the day is Disney has FREE dining back for the Fall. Most dates between August 31 and December 23 fall into the FREE dining promotion. Booking is open for Disney Visa Card holders and opens to the general public next week.

A non-discounted 6-Night/7-Day Magic Your Way® room and ticket package includes the Disney Quick-Service Dining Plan at select Disney Value Resort hotels and the Disney Dining Plan at select Disney Moderate, Disney Deluxe or Disney Deluxe Villa Resort hotels.

This special offer is for arrivals most nights Aug.31-Oct. 3, Oct.26-Nov. 1, Nov.9-20, Dec. 12-23, 2014. Book by Aug. 8, 2014.

ROOM Discounts

Disney Visa Card members are also eligible for up to 30% saving on room only bookings at select Walt Disney World Resort hotels for stays most nights Aug. 16-Oct 3, 2014 when they book by Aug. 8, 2014. Percentage based on resort category.

SPLASH into SUMMER

The summer promo is still going on as well.

Save on rooms at select Walt Disney World® Resort hotels for stays most nights June 15 – Aug. 28, 2014.

Save up to 30% when you stay up to 5 nights*
Save up to 35% when you stay 6 nights or longer*
Save even more when you stay 6 nights or longer and add minimum 6-day Magic Your Way® Tickets to your room!**

Booking Window:
Book March 17 – June 6, 2014

CRUISE DEAL

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And let’s not leaving cruising behind. Royal Caribbean has a WOW offer for the month of May as well.

Royal Caribbean is offering a BOGO Sale – Buy one get one 50% off for 2015/2016 sailing. Book from May 1-31.

Contact me for more details or to get a no obligation quote on any of these fabulous deals!

 

 

 

Treasure Hunting

Sunken Treasure

The ultimate summer poolside beverage! This is a secret drink only available at the poolside bar at the hotel pool featured in the picture. Can you guess where? It’s not on the menu, only those in the know, know to order it and only certain bartenders can make it. Happy Hunting!

What’s your favorite “poolside at Disney” beverage?