The following is the first installment in the “Our Travels” portion of our blog. We travel quite a bit & want to share with you our experiences about specific places in addition to general travel advice. Enjoy!
We finally made it back to the most magical place on earth – Walt Disney World! Normally we make at least three or four trips to both Walt Disney World & Disneyland each year, but with the current circumstances being what they are, we have not been back to Disney World since January. We know there are a lot of questions about safety & what it is really like in the parks right now, so here we are! To talk about just that.
First, let me say that we had a great time. This was probably the most enjoyable trip to Walt Disney World I’ve had in years. It’s not that I love wearing a mask all day, or that I could do without FastPasses forever, but rather, it’s the fact that I did have such a good time in spite of those additional changes. There is always good if you look for it & our experience, in my opinion, speaks highly to the fact that there is still magic there & you can still have a great time if you choose to.
That being said, there are a number of additional safety procedures in place at Walt Disney World to make sure the spread of COVID-19 is limited. I appreciated the efforts of the company & I believe it is because of these efforts that we were able to have such a good time & relax in spite of everything. Take a look at what our experience was with those procedures below.
Our experience with the new health & safety mandates started long before we traveled to Florida. This is because to enter a park at this point, you must have a park reservation in addition to your purchased park ticket. These reservations can be made through your My Disney Experience account. Our experience with this process was overall, very positive. The online reservation system is fairly straight forward and easy to use. Simply link your tickets & pick your park for the date you want. We do, however, recommend making park reservations immediately after purchasing your tickets as the capacity of the parks is currently limited. The current trend with these reservations is that, for Hollywood Studios especially, reservations can fill up quickly and fairly far in advance. You can always make changes to your plans if there is availability, but it is best to make those reservations ASAP so you don’t miss out on a park you want to go to. Some may feel this extra step is just one more thing to deal with, and although that’s true, I have to say, we enjoyed knowing that the capacity of the parks was limited & controlled.
As has become common practice nearly everywhere these days, Disney World does require that all patrons & cast members wear appropriate face coverings at all times unless you are eating or drinking while stationary. For us, we anticipated this requirement was going to be the hardest part of the trip. We were mostly concerned about the Florida heat, but we came prepared with multiple masks for each person each day so we could change our mask throughout the day for any reason (i.e. sweat soaks through, you drop it on the floor, etc.). Although we were initially worried about this, we didn’t have much trouble at all with our masks. You get used to it pretty fast & knowing that everyone else is in the same boat somehow makes it not that big of a deal. In fact, face coverings are becoming fashion accessories at Disney with a lot of cute options, so it can even be a bit fun as you personalize them for yourself. If you do end up needing a break, there are what they call “Relaxation Stations” throughout the park & they are meant to be a place where you can take off your mask for a bit of a break. You need to stay in the designated area, but you’re welcome to take a break as needed. I will say, if you are going to purchase masks for the occasion, make sure you wear it a few times before coming to the parks. Reason being, not all masks fit the same & you may think it’s cute, but it hurts your ears, or it rubs your face in an odd place, etc. Know what you’re getting yourself into before committing to wearing a mask all day that doesn’t feel good. Once you’ve found what works for you, make sure wash them before your trip so you can start out with a clean mask every day. You may not think you can wear a mask all day at the parks, but barring medical issues that prevent you from wearing one, I promise you really can do it with a bit of planning & preparation.
Prior to entering any of the parks or Disney Springs, guests are required to have their temperature taken via a touchless thermometer administered by AdventHealth employees. You must have a temperature of 100.4 degrees or less to enter. While this process may seem intimidating, it was honestly no big deal. Everyone we interacted with during this process was quick & professional. I personally didn’t witness anyone getting pulled aside because their temperature was too high. I’m sure it happens, but we didn’t witness it. For me, it was one more level of protection. We knew that everyone in those parks was not currently showing a temperature. While that’s not a guarantee they aren’t sick, it’s a good indicator & it was comforting to know that piece was in place. It took literally seconds to do & then we moved on with our day as normal.
Disney’s social distancing protocol is probably my favorite part of their safety procedures. I’m the type who likes my personal space bubble, so I enjoyed staying away from other people. They work really hard to keep parties at least 6 feet away from each other in all queues and public spaces using markers on the ground along with empty seats on buses & attractions. They also have plexiglass & various barriers put in place when social distancing is not possible. Honestly, it’s awesome. If you’re like me & don’t want others in your personal space bubble even when there isn’t a pandemic, it’s the best thing Disney has ever done. I will say, due to the distancing, sometimes it looks like the lines are ridiculously long because not everyone can fit in the traditional queue when you have to keep that much space between groups, but the lines all moved pretty quickly & we never waited more than an hour in line for anything. Most of what we rode didn’t have lines more than 30 minutes long. And bonus! You don’t end up brushing up against sweaty strangers. Oh, and not getting COVID. That’s good too.
Sanitizer & Washing stations
At the entrance & exit of all rides, stores, restaurants, etc. you will find automatic hand sanitizer dispensers. They are literally everywhere & from what I observed, most people were using them as they went past. Knowing that I could sanitize going in & out of places, especially after rides where you know someone else has touched the same seat belt, etc., was really reassuring & we took full advantage. Additionally, there were also a number of temporary hand washing stations throughout the park & announcements were made regularly that included a reminder to wash your hands. In the bathrooms, there were signs reminding people to wash for 20 seconds. It has definitely become a priority for the company & we appreciated it because although we can’t make other people use them, we knew we could use them & protect ourselves. Just one more thing that doesn’t take any extra time or effort on our part, but gave us some peace of mind.
Enhanced cleaning procedures
Occasionally, we would notice the queue of a ride stop for a few minutes. We learned that it was during these times that the ride operators were cleaning the ride vehicles. They were quick & efficient & it never slowed us down much. In fact, it was just one more thing that made our experience more comfortable. We also witnessed cast members disinfecting tables & chairs between uses, railings being sanitized, garbage cans tied open & many other procedures that made it obvious they were trying their best to keep everything as clean as possible.
Food & Beverage
Eating is one of our favorite parts of vacation & with the International Food & Wine Festival currently happening at Epcot, we definitely ate a lot. For sit-down restaurants, they are requiring you wear your mask if you’re not sitting at your table. All servers had masks & face shields & would “refill” your drink by bringing you a new glass. They also provided the check in a paper sleeve that could be recycled after use. Overall, we were very impressed with how they managed sit-down dining. Quick Service dining was done almost exclusively through the My Disney Experience app. You would order through the app, they give you a return time, you let them know when you’re there, and they prepare your meal for pick-up. This really reduced contact with cast members & other guests in line & it was easy to use. The only food providers not using online ordering were the small food stalls & carts. For those, they encouraged contactless payment & all cast members were wearing masks & face shields along with being behind plexiglass. Overall, I felt confident in how they were handling our food & at no point did I find myself worrying about it.
Shopping & Pin Trading
Some of the best-loved past times at Disney are of course, shopping & pin trading. There are gift shops at the exit of every ride & pretty much everywhere in between. In the stores, social distancing is encouraged & the queue lines & cashiers follow the same guidelines as they do everywhere else. Additionally, they have signs posted throughout the store asking people to limit their handling of product for the safety of everyone. Pin trading has evolved a bit more during these times. Now instead of cast members wearing lanyards, you’ll find them in specific areas with cork boards filled with pins. They have a box you can put the pin you’re trading in & then you tell the cast member which pin on the board you want & they will give it to you. It’s a bit different than before, but the point is, you can still do it & it is significantly safer for everyone.
Overall, we were impressed & pleased with the efforts Disney is taking to keep their guests & patrons safe. Is it foolproof? No, nothing is. But we feel they are doing things to the best of their ability. Ultimately, all travelers, no matter where you go, need to remember that you are responsible for your own safety. The company can do everything that’s listed above, but you’re responsible for your own actions. Choose to follow their guidelines, be courteous of others, wear your mask, wash your hands & recognize your safety is ultimately on you. Use the tools provided & keep yourself safe. If you’re wanting to visit & you feel comfortable doing so, then we believe you’ll find it to still be a wonderful and magical place. To request a quote for your next Walt Disney World vacation, visit our website: http://woodbreyfamilytravel.com/getaquote.php
There is something thrilling about dropping everything for a few days and escaping. Sometimes spontaneous trips are the best trips. As with everything though, these last-minute adventures typically come at a cost. Now I know what some of you are thinking. “But sometimes you can get great last-minute deals!” That’s true & last-minute deals can be fantastic, but more often than not, there will be some aspect of your trip that will be more expensive because you waited until the last minute. For example, maybe you got a super cheap cruise last minute, but then your airfare was super expensive. Or maybe you got a great deal on airfare, but hotels are limited due to the short notice, so their prices are higher. Plus, everything has to be paid for upfront. When you wait to book last minute, you have to be prepared to pay for everything at once. Most people’s budgets need a bit more advance notice to be able to accommodate a trip. Fortunately, quite a few aspects of the travel industry allow for payment to be made over time.
As outlined in our blog post, “Help Us, Help You,” the first thing anyone should do before making travel plans is to decide on a budget. I feel this is true for any kind of trip, whether it be spontaneous or planned well in advance. The world is amazing, but you’ll enjoy it more if you don’t have a mountain of debt to come home to. Budgeting & planning in advance can give you the flexibility to save up & pay for your trip over time so you don’t accrue unnecessary debt due to your travels.
Once you have determined your budget, I recommend working with a Travel Agent to help plan your trip. This is for a few reasons (see our blog post “Why Use a Travel Agent”), but a few of the most notable reasons is their ability to help you stay within your budget & to bundle the various pieces to your travel together into a package. Though not the only way to pay for a trip over time, having your travel agent put together a package for you will often give you more flexibility in terms of when you can pay.
For example, let’s say you’re traveling to the Disneyland or Walt Disney World Resort. If you were to buy a hotel or condo off Disney property & bought your theme park tickets separately, you would have to pay outright for those theme park tickets and maybe your lodgings too. If you haven’t been to a Disney park recently, tickets are a large bulk of the cost for that type of vacation and if you buy them separately, they have to be paid in full up-front & they are non-refundable. However, if you plan in advance & bundle your package to include both hotel & tickets on property or at a Good Neighbor hotel, then you could simply pay $200 down when you book & then the rest isn’t due until 30 days before you travel. Up until that 30-days before, you can change or cancel your reservation at no cost to you. This allows you much more freedom than if you purchased them separately. Additionally, as a package you are more than welcome to make partial payments over time, or if you’d rather keep your money accruing in the bank, you can wait until that due date 30 days before to make your final payment. This allows you significantly more time to save your money & spread out the cost of your vacation over several months.
Much like stand-alone tickets, airfare is also notorious for having to be paid for up-front & it is most often non-refundable. If you plan your trip in advance, it allows for large required purchases like airfare to not be such a burden. Maybe you’ve booked your hotel/tickets a year in advance, and have been saving up or making payments over time, but you wait to purchase airfare until three or four months in advance of your trip. Being able to spread out the payments for the other aspects of your package allow you to be able to pay for that airfare when it comes up without any budgetary constraints.
What you may not realize is that occasionally, your travel agent can package your airfare in with other aspects of your trip. This means that your airfare would follow the same rules as your package does. For example, if you were to book a Disney Cruise, you would be required to put 20% down up front & final payment is due 90-120 days before you travel. If you chose to book airfare as a package with your cruise & you select a flexible fare, that airfare gets bundled into your cruise package price as a whole. You would simply pay the 20% of the package price & then pay the remainder when final payment is due or in partial payments over time. Again, allowing for better budgeting in advance.
Besides being able to spread out paying for your trip, booking in advance will most often get you the best deal. There are last-minute deals that are worthwhile, but as previously mentioned, you’ll typically get hit with a larger than average bill in some other aspect of your trip. In general, the longer you wait to book, the more you will pay. For example, Disney is notorious for increasing their ticket prices in either late January or early February every year, but sometimes they do it multiple times per year. If you plan in advance, your ticket prices, or cruise fare, or nightly hotel price, gets locked in, ultimately saving you money than if you waited to book your trip last minute. Plus! If you use a travel agent & a deal does come up, they can often get it applied to your existing reservation. Just one more reason to use them!
Overall, making a budget, planning in advance, & taking advantage of what a travel agent can offer can really help you to spread the cost of you trip out over time. This can make a big difference to your everyday finances so that your trip really is a vacation & not a means to more debt. If you’re feeling unsure, ask your travel agent for help! They want to make sure you stay within your budget & have the best time possible. Paying over time can alleviate a lot of stress on you & your budget, so recognize it is an option. Plan in advance & take advantage!
We would be happy to help you along your way. Please visit our website to request a quote: http://woodbreyfamilytravel.com/getaquote.php
Travel agents are pretty fantastic people (if I do say so myself). If you need a refresher on why, check out our blog about “Why Use a Travel Agent.” That being said, there is one thing we can’t do: read minds. I ordered that crystal ball, but it must have gotten lost in the mail. Consequently, in order to help you plan your dream vacation, we need a little bit of help from you first.
Let me illustrate what I mean. It is not uncommon for us to receive emails like this, “Hey! Me and my family want to take a cruise in October. What can you do for us?” That’s it. That’s all the information we are given, and although we appreciate that you are thinking of using us, it creates a bit of a problem. Namely, we don’t know your budget, details of your family or expectations. For this specific example, there are literally hundreds of cruise options each month that will completely change depending on your personal circumstances. Consequently, we felt it would be useful to our guests to learn more about what they need to think about in advance of reaching out to your travel agent. Trust me. It will save both you & us a lot of time.
CREATE A BUDGET
The absolute most important thing you can do as you start thinking about a vacation is to establish a budget. I remember as a kid, my parents worked really hard, but we didn’t always have a lot of excess money for trips. So, they would look at their budget and say, “Okay, how far can we get with how much money we have?” Some of our best trips were the simplest, and our family never went into debt for vacation. You may have a different philosophy as you plan your budgets, but regardless, it is VERY important that you establish what you are willing & able to spend upfront.
As a travel agent, this helps us because we will only present you with options that fit within your budget. There are fantastic places to stay and things to do at EVERY price point. Our job is to find what works for you & your family & we are happy to do that.
As you create your budget, we recommend considering at least these five basic categories:
- Lodging (Telling us what you’re willing to pay nightly helps a lot!)
- Attraction Tickets
- Transportation (Airfare, Rental Car, Trains, Taxis/Rideshares, etc.)
- Incidentals/Spending Money
Keep in mind, you don’t necessarily have to have all the money in the bank when you book your trip. Depending on how far out you are planning, you may have the option to put a deposit down when you book your trip & then the remainder is due a few weeks before you travel. A lot of families use this option to pay incrementally and/or save up for that final payment while still booking in advance & getting what they want. This may help you spread the financial burden of your trip out over several months, or even a year or more. Regardless, you still need to budget in advance and be prepared for what you can legitimately come up with in the timeframe you have & then share that with your travel agent.
WHEN ARE YOU GOING & WHO IS GOING WITH YOU?
This seems like such a simple thing – but we all know it’s not. Work schedules, health issues, personal budgets, etc. can really make a difference on when you go on vacation & with whom. However, it is in your best interest to try & nail this down as best you can before you request a quote.
As a travel agent, we want to give you accurate information, but prices vary widely depending on when you go & who you go with. For example, ticket prices change based on if someone is a child or an adult. Additionally, a lot of hotels charge extra if there is a third or fourth adult in the room. Plus, hotels & attraction ticket prices can vary day by day, so even shifting a trip by just a few days can make a difference in the price you pay. Now to be fair, you may have some flexibility in the dates you’re looking at, and you just want to go when it’s the least expensive. That’s totally fine! However, if you can narrow it down to a specific few weeks prior to requesting a quote, that would go a long way in helping us get you accurate information.
IDENTIFY YOUR NEEDS & WANTS
We’ve all been there. It’s the age-old question: “Do I need this or do I just want this?” As with most things in life, it is good to identify your needs & wants when you travel & to communicate those to your agent. For example, perhaps someone in your party uses a wheelchair & NEEDS an accessible hotel room – tell us up front so we can make sure that happens & we are only quoting you rooms that meet your needs. Or perhaps one of your friends NEEDS to have their own bed, so even though there are only four of you, you need three beds – tell us so we can quote you only for the rooms that meet your needs. Other needs/wants that you may want to consider may include things like: hotel type, breakfast availability, free parking, distance to attractions, pools, types of views, etc. Please tell us your expectations up front so we have the chance to meet them.
That being said, we are all familiar with the phrase “Managing expectations.” That is our job too. As previously mentioned, our mind-reading abilities haven’t come in yet, so if something is important to you, tell us! We will do our best to find what meets your requirements while still fitting within your budget. But notice that I previously mentioned that there is a difference between needs & wants. Please keep in mind that depending on your budget, you may have to determine what is a need verses a want & then be a little flexible in that regard. For example, an accessible room may be an absolute need, but the only place that has an accessible room doesn’t have the free parking you wanted. What are you willing to compromise on? Do you have any flexibility in your budget to get what you want? These are the types of questions you need to ask yourself in advance & then tell your travel agent up front. We will do our best to give you everything you need & want, but we also respect your budget enough to recognize sometimes compromises need to be made. If they are articulated in advance, it makes the process easier for everyone.
USE THE GET A QUOTE FORM
At Woodbrey Family Travel, we have built a “Get a Quote” form that you can access on our website. We highly recommend using this form when making requests. We have designed it so that it asks a lot of the questions we need answered prior to getting you an accurate quote. Additionally, we’ve left space for you to leave comments & tell us anything extra we need to know, like budgetary constraints or your needs & wants. We hope you can recognize how thinking about these things in advance & communicating them to your travel agent up front will help everyone involved. We look forward to working with you & appreciate that you would consider how you can help us, help you!
Have you ever wanted to meet BB-8 the droid from Star Wars: Force Awakens? Well starting this spring at Disney’s Hollywood Studios at the Walt Disney World Resort guests will have the opportunity to meet the famous droid. He will be meeting guests in the parks Star Wars Launch Bay.
BB-8 will appear in addition to Kylo Ren (or Darth Vader) and Chewbacca, the characters from the Star Wars galaxy who guests can regularly encounter at Star Wars Launch Bay.
Woodbrey Family Travel
For more than a year, Disney’s Animal Kingdom® Theme Park at Walt Disney World® Resort has continued its evolution to a day-to-night park by introducing a rich variety of new nighttime experiences – from Kilimanjaro Safaris after sunset and fine dining at Tiffins, to the vibrant entertainment at the Harambe Wildlife Parti and Discovery Island Carnivale. And when the Tree of Life awakens after dark, it is truly a sight to behold!
Today, Disney’s happy to announce one of the park’s newest nighttime experiences, “Rivers of Light,” will make its official debut on Feb 17, 2017.
Continuing the grand Disney tradition of innovative, after-dark entertainment, “Rivers of Light” combines live performance, floating set pieces, a soaring musical score, fountains and more in a celebration of animals and nature. The story magically unfolds on the broad natural stage of the Discovery River, conveying the uplifting spirit of an ancient and timeless lantern ceremony and filled with symbolism, storytelling and plenty of heart.
This new show will also be part of the Disney Dining and FastPass+ reservations. The park’s culinary team has been working hard to create special dining packages at both Tiffins and Tusker House Restaurant to add to the special evening.
Similar to the popular “Fantasmic!” Dining Packages at Disney’s Hollywood Studios®, the “Rivers of Light” Dining Package includes reserved seating at the new show. At all-you-care-to-eat Tusker House, guests can choose the breakfast, lunch or dinner buffet on the day of the show (but they will have to dine at least 2 ½ hours before the show). Breakfast is $37, $23 ages 3 to 9, plus tax and gratuity; lunch and dinner, $49, $30 ages 3 to 9, plus tax and gratuity. Tusker House Restaurant is on the Disney Dining Plan and counts as one table-service meal.
At Tiffins, “Rivers of Light” Dining Packages are available at both lunch and dinner. Guests can choose their favorite appetizer, entrée, dessert plus a non-alcoholic beverage. Dining must take place at least two and a half hours prior to showtime. Cost is $67, $32 ages 3 to 9 plus tax and gratuity. Tiffins accepts the Disney Dining Plan, and counts as two table-service meal entitlements.
Woodbrey Family Travel
An all-new character dining experience will debut this spring at Disney’s BoardWalk, with appearances by adventurous royal couples from beloved Disney films! A delicious breakfast awaits you at Trattoria al Forno, as you get ready to set out for a day of endless magic at Walt Disney World® Resort. It’s a hearty “bon voyage” celebration, featuring popular characters from favorite Disney stories like “Tangled” or “The Little Mermaid.”
This unique, new character breakfast is slated to begin in late spring.
Woodbrey Family Travel
In 2018, the epic day at sea returns to Disney Cruise Line with 15 special Disney Fantasy sailings to the Caribbean from January through April. Star Wars Day at Sea transports guests to a galaxy far, far away to celebrate the legendary adventures and iconic characters from the Star Wars saga with Jedi, Wookiees, droids, Stormtroopers and others during the special day-long celebration.
Throughout the day, guest can enjoy immersive entertainment and activities that are all a part of the galactic adventure – including interactions with Star Wars Characters, Star Wars-themed family and youth activities, at-sea screenings of Star Wars films, unique food and beverage offerings, special merchandise and the “Summon the Force” deck party with a stunning fireworks finale.
Star Wars Day at Sea will be on 15 Disney Fantasy seven-night Caribbean cruises sailing from Port Canaveral, Florida.
Departing Jan. 6, 20; Feb. 3, 17; March 3, 17, 31; April 14, 2018, the Western Caribbean itinerary includes Cozumel, Mexico; Falmouth, Jamaica; Grand Cayman and Disney’s private island in the Bahamas, Castaway Cay. Departing Jan. 13, 27; Feb. 10, 24; March 10, 24; and April 7, 2018, the Eastern Caribbean itinerary includes Tortola, St. Thomas and Disney Castaway Cay.
Please contact us for more information or to book one of these out of the world Disney Cruises.
Woodbrey Family Travel
Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party is one of my favorite events to attend. This event is filled with all kinds of spooktacular entertainment and is one of the most anticipated special events of the year. Your family, like mine, will love the special Villainous Fireworks show, “Happy HalloWishes”, Unlimited Trick or Treating, Mickey’s Boo-To-You Halloween Parade, Hocus Pocus Villain Spelitacular and of course all the different character meet and greets. Here you will find some of your favorite Disney Villains, along with Mickey Mouse and his friends, all dressed in their Halloween costumes! Costumes are not required for this event but definitely encouraged. Dressing up for this event for our family really has added to the magic and excitement of the event.
Mickey’s Trick-or-Treat Trails – Treats include apple slices, carrots, raisins, dried fruit, and of course, a variety of chocolates and other candies. Trust me when I say you will leave the party with several pounds of candy. The Trick-or-Treat trails are all over the park, and cast members hand out handfuls of treats. You can go back to the same locations for treats all you want.
Hocus Pocus Villain Spelitacular – In “Hocus Pocus Villain Spelltacular,” the mischievous Sanderson Sisters from Disney’s “Hocus Pocus” return to the mortal world for one night during the Halloween season. With only a few hours to run amuck, the three sisters decide to use their magic to throw the best, evil Halloween party this side of the graveyard!
With the help of the Disney villains, Winifred, Mary and Sarah gather together sinister shadows, nefarious nightmares and the power of their frightful friends to conjure the ultimate Hocus Pocus Party Potion and cast a spell on everyone in the Magic Kingdom Park. “Hocus Pocus Villain Spelltacular” features appearances by Dr. Facilier, Oogie Boogie, Maleficent and other great Disney villains, along with dancers, projections and special effects that combine to make this new show a not-to-be-missed Halloween treat. This show runs 4 nights during the party with the first one starting at 8:35 p.m., 9:20 p.m., 10:40 p.m. and 12:00 pm.
Mickey’s Boo-To-You Halloween Parade – Each Halloween party has two parades, the first one starting at 8:35 p.m. and the second one starting at 11:15 p.m. I highly recommend going to the second parade because more guests watch the first parade, making it a lot more crowded. Ralph and Venelope from Wreck-it Ralph start the parade off with a pre parade to get things exciting and fun. Soon after the pre parade the Headless Horseman takes off through the streets to get the parade started, which is awesome to see! Shortly afterwards you will see amazing floats decorated in all things Halloween, such as Characters dressed in costumes, grave diggers dragging their shovels, villains being bad, pirates playing with their loot, and many more fun and exciting things.
Celebrate The Magic – Each night Cinderella’s Royal Castle comes to life as Disney Imagineers create a new way of storytelling. They use Cinderella’s beautiful castle as the canvas of telling the stories of some of your favorite Disney movies. Celebrate the Magic is a great preshow to the fireworks. It’s an exciting show the whole family will enjoy and I highly recommend watching it. The show plays nightly right before and after the fireworks spectacular at 9:45 p.m.
Happy HalloWishes – These fireworks start at 10:00 p.m. in front of Cinderella’s castle. None other than your ghost host from the Haunted Mansion hosts this “Happy HalloWishes” Fireworks Spooktacular show. Flames, fireworks and a remix of your favorite Disney villain’s theme music all come together to make this a don’t-miss firework show. These fireworks, which are different than the regular fireworks done during the week, are absolutely amazing and are my favorite to watch!
“Celebrate The Magic” & “Happy HalloWishes” Fireworks Tips – For the best view of Celebrate The Magic, stand between the Refreshment Corner on Main Street and the main hub in front of the castle (the circular area where Walt Disney’s statue is). I would not stand between the hub and the castle because the castle will partially block your view of the fireworks. The closer you get to Casey’s Corner, the better your view will be. Main Street U.S.A. is also a good spot to view the shows.
Face Painting – Disney provides free face painting during the parties. The lines to get your face painted can get long really quick. The face painting is done between Space Mountain and the Dance stage in Tomorrowland.
The Cadaver Dans – Head over to Frontierland and listen to a deadly group of cowboys singing songs in the style of the Dapper Dans.
Specialty Food – Halloween party exclusive treats are sold throughout the park. Goodies available include spiced Pumpkin Waffle Sundae at Sleepy Hallow, Specialty Cupcakes and cookies at the Main Street Bakery, Ghost Cupcakes at Gaston’s Tavern, Candy Corn Soft-serve ice Cream at Storybook Treats, and Candy Corn Cotton Candy at several of the outdoor carts. These treats really are pretty good. You have to try at least one of them if not several of them.
Exclusive Merchandise – Disney sells exclusive merchandise during the parties such as t-shirts, Disney trading pins, new Magic bands and more. The Emporium and Mickey’s Star Traders are the only two places that sell the exclusive merchandise. You can buy other Disney Halloween-themed merchandise during the day as well.
The Monstrous Scream-O-Ween Ball Dance Party – This dance party is a great way to take a load off and dance the night away with some of your favorite Monstrous characters. Select Disney Characters come out and dance with everyone; however, they usually don’t stop and take pictures and don’t sign autographs at the dance parties.
Character Meet and Greets
There are 45 possible characters that do meet and greets, and there are 4 characters at the Dance parties, which totals 49 characters that you will be able to visit in some way. Below is a list of the meet and greet characters for the party.
Costumed Characters – Keep your eyes open, because you never know whom you’ll see–but will you recognize them? Your beloved Disney Characters will be dressed up in their best costumes, and Disney Villains will be out in full force. It was fun to see them all in their different costumes. Just make sure you don’t forget your camera!
Extremely Popular Characters
Jack Skellington & Sally – Located together in Liberty Square behind the Christmas Shop. These two start meeting party guests at 5:00 pm. If you wait until the party starts you could spend up to 2 ½ hours waiting to see them, which will take up half of the party.
Seven Dwarfs – Located in Fantasyland next to Pete’s Silly Sideshow big top tents. The Seven Dwarf’s start meeting guests at 6:15 pm. The line can extend up to 2 hours so be sure to get into line before the party starts. If you want to see both Jack & Sally and the Seven Dwarfs get in line to see Jack & Sally at 4:00 pm right after you get your wrist band for the party. As soon as you finish seeing Jack and Sally get in line to see the Seven Dwarfs. Doing this will assure you to see them all before the party even starts.
Captain Jack Sparrow – Located in Adventureland across the pathway from Pirates of Caribbean attraction. The line to meet Jack starts about 6:15 p.m. The line will extend up to about 2 hours. Great time to meet Jack is during the parade. I would skip the first parade and meet Jack and go to the second parade, which usually has the smaller crowds.
Moderately Popular Characters
Aladdin, Jasmine, Abu & the Genie – Located in Adventureland across the pathway from the Flying carpets right next to the building. They do not all meet together at the same time but rather meet in twos. Aladdin & Abu meet together and Jasmine & the Genie meet together. They will switch with each throughout the party.
Tarzan, Jane & Terk – Located in Adventureland just past the bridge on the right side on the Verandah. Tarzan & Jane are not always out at the same time. For every hour there is about 15 minutes they are not together. Terk should be out for the entire time.
Winnie the Pooh, Tigger, Piglet & Eeyore – Located next to the Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh attraction. These characters are dressed up in their Halloween costumes. Only Winnie the Pooh and Tigger meet and greets during the day and they are not dressed up at that time.
Mad Hatter, Alice, Tweetles and the Queen of Hearts – Located in Fantasyland near the planters right behind the Tea cups. Alice & Mad Hatter meet together and the Queen of Hearts and the Tweetles meet together. They will have separate lines from each other.
Jafar – Located in Adventureland across from the Flying Carpets.
Cruella De Vil – Located in Fantasyland just North of the Train Station.
Lotso-Huggin Bear & Buzzlight Year – Located in Tomorrowland between the Carousel of Progress and Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin; Buzz meets during the day, but Lotso only comes out for the party. They do not meet together and have separate lines.
Easier To Meet Characters
Mickey Mouse – Located in Main Street, U.S.A in the Town Square Theatre. Mickey meets here regularly but during the Halloween Party he dresses in his Halloween costume
Minnie Mouse, Donald & Daisy Duck – Located in Fantasyland at the splash zone near the train station. Minnie Mouse meets guests herself, where as Donald and Daisy Duck meet together but they all meet in the same line. The three of them are dressed in their Halloween costume for the party.
Goofy – Located in Fantasyland near Goofy’s Barnstormer. Goofy is dressed in his pilots outfit that he wears during the day.
Gaston & Belle – Located in Fantasyland near Gaston’s Tavern. These two meet guests together during the party. You can also meet them during the day but not together.
Cinderella & Rapunzel – Located in Fantasyland at Princess Fairytale Hall. They meet guests during the regular day here.
Princess Tiana & Aurora – Located in Fantasyland at Princess Fairytale Hall. They meet guests during the regular day here.
Snow White– Located in Main Street, U.S.A. next to City Hall. She meets guests here during the regular day.
Tinker Bell – Located in Main Street, U.S.A in the Town Square Theatre. She meets guests here during the regular day.
Ariel – Located in Fantasyland next to Ariel’s Grotto. She meets guests here during the regular day.
Merida – Located in Fantasyland at the Fairytale Garden. She meets guests here during the regular day.
Additional Meet and Greet Tips – I would meet the characters that are out during the day before the party starts and get the rare characters during the party. There really isn’t enough time during the party to see all the characters. Your tickets get you into the park starting at 4:00 p.m., which gives you an extra 3 hours in the parks. Remember to get into line early for those really popular characters so you don’t waste your whole party waiting for only a couple of characters.
There you have it one of the best events Walt Disney World puts on each year. This event is worth the extra cost and I highly recommend going. If you want more information on the event or want to plan a trip to Walt Disney World, please contact me.
In the fall of 2017, Disney Cruise Line will return to New York with sailings to the Bahamas and the Canadian coast – including a seven-night Canada cruise. San Diego will serve as a homeport with a variety of cruises to Baja and the Mexican Riviera, and Galveston will again be a homeport with sailings to the Caribbean and Bahamas.
New Canada coast itinerary and new ports from New York
Disney Cruise Line returns to New York City in the fall of 2017, for a mix of voyages that include Canada coast and Bahamas itineraries.
On Oct. 21, the Disney Magic will sail from New York on a seven-night Canada sailing – the line’s longest-ever voyage to the Atlantic Canada coast. This sailing includes a new port of call for Disney Cruise Line – Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island.
Bar Harbor, Maine, is another new port of call for Disney Cruise Line and part of a five-night sailing that departs New York on Sept. 27. This cruise also will stop at Saint John, New Brunswick, Canada.
A total of six seven- and eight-night sailings to the Bahamas, all including a visit to Disney’s private island, Castaway Cay, will be a part of the 2017 New York season.
Adding to the magic on each of the Bahamian cruises will be the opportunity to visit Walt Disney World Resort when the ship stops at Port Canaveral, Fla. Each guest on these sailings will receive a one-day Walt Disney World Park Hopper ticket and round-trip transportation for the short drive between the ship and the resort.
Return to San Diego, California
In September and October of 2017, Disney Cruise Line will return to San Diego with a variety of Disney Wonder cruises to Baja and the Mexican Riviera.
On most Baja sailings, guests can visit Cabo San Lucas and Ensenada, Mexico, to enjoy world-famous beaches and snorkeling. Two-night cruises depart San Diego on Sept. 15, Sept. 22 and Oct. 13, and a three-night cruise departs Oct. 5 and includes a day at sea.
Mexican Riviera itineraries feature snorkeling and scuba diving hot spots, while Puerto Vallerta and Mazatlan are where cliff divers, culture and ziplining through the jungle canopy take center stage. Seven-night itineraries departing on Sept. 24 and Oct. 15, call on Puerto Vallerta, Mazatlan and Cabo San Lucas. Four additional four- and five-night Mexican Riviera cruises set sail during the season in San Diego.
Return to Galveston, Texas
Disney Cruise Line returns to Galveston in 2017, with a line up of eight seven-night cruises to the Caribbean and the Bahamas. All Bahamian itineraries include a stop at Castaway Cay, Disney’s private island in the Bahamas.
On Nov. 10 and Dec. 1, the Disney Wonder will sail a western Caribbean itinerary from Galveston to Cozumel, Grand Cayman and Falmouth, Jamaica.
On Nov. 17, Nov. 24, Dec, 8, Dec. 15, Dec. 22 and Dec. 29, the Disney Wonder will sail from Galveston to Key West, Nassau and Castaway Cay.
Surround yourself with crystal blue waters, powder-soft beaches and nonstop family fun on a 7-night cruise to treasured islands like Tortola, St. John and Disney’s private island, Castaway Cay.
Soak up the natural beauty and vibrant cultures of 3 tropical ports of call—Cozumel, Grand Cayman and Falmouth, Jamaica—during a 7-night roundtrip cruise from Port Canaveral that includes a fun stop at Disney’s private island, Castaway Cay.
Disney Cruise Line sails to the Bahamas on a variety of sun-soaked itineraries. All cruises include a stop at Disney’s private island paradise, Castaway Cay. And now, on special sailings from New York, Guests can take advantage of a convenient stop in Florida to visit Walt Disney World
Delve into the rich history of several port cities—including Cadiz, Spain and Ponta Delgada (Azores), Portugal. There’s a bounty of sights for you to discover over the course of your 11-night sailing.
Savor top-notch amenities aboard a 14-night coast-to-coast cruise that takes you through the world-famous Panama Canal. Call upon blissful port cities in Mexico, Columbia and the Caribbean before arriving in Galveston, Texas.
Bookings open for Platinum and Gold Castaway Club members on Wednesday, May 25, 2016 and to all other Guests on Thursday, May 26, 2016.
For more information on Disney cruises or to book one of these cruises, please contact us at 435-757-0838 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
New Happenings at Walt Disney World This Summer
This summer is going to be filled with all new attractions and entertainment at Walt Disney World Resort. Each park will have something new to offer to their guests. The excitement doesn’t stop there but continues at Disney Springs and Disney’s Blizzard Beach Water Park. Several new shops, restaurants and entertainment will be opening throughout the summer at Disney’s Springs. Lastly, Disney’s Blizzard Beach Water Park will have guest participating in all new Frozen Games with some of the characters from Frozen.
Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park
- The Jungle Book: Alive with Magic Show – For the summer, Discovery River becomes the stage for music and pageantry in a limited-engagement show inspired by Disney’s hit live-action film The Jungle Book. The Jungle Book: Alive with Magic is a live show filled with music and special effects that celebrates the new film and the classic songs, now infused with an Indian influence.
- Tree of Life Awakenings – The Tree of Life swirls with dramatic color throughout the evening as artistic projections tell stories of love, adventure, humor and culture.
- Discovery Island Carnivale – When this nighttime dance party hits the streets, you’ll get to revel in the splendor of all living things alongside stilt walkers, musicians and more.
- Harambe Wildlife Parti – You’ll be able to join singers, dancers, acrobats and musicians for a wild and wonderful street festival that kicks off when the sun sets.
Disney’s Hollywood Studios
- Star Wars Launch Bay – It’s the place to go for popular character encounters and more. The Launch Bay currently has guests meeting Chewbacca and Kylo Ren but soon Boba Fett too will be joining them.
- Star Tours– The Adventures Continue – On this thrilling attraction, you’ll travel to Jakku, an all-new destination from Star Wars: The Force Awakens.
- Jedi Training: Trials of the Temple – Bring your Younglings to hone their Lightsaber skills in preparation to face the dark side.
- Star Wars: A Galactic Spectacular – Look to the skies for this nightly fireworks finale bursting with Star War music and magic. Disney’s Hollywood Studios is taking this firework show to the next level starting in June.
- Frozen Ever After – This boating adventure through Arendelle features favorite Frozen characters, songs and a visit to Elsa’s Ice Palace in the cool blue world of the North Mountain.
- Royal Sommerhus – You’ll have a royally good time as you meet Anna and Elsa in a charming Norwegian culture.
Magic Kingdom Park
- Mickey’s Royal Friendship Faire – Music and magic arrive at the castle stage for a new show featuring Mickey Mouse and pals, along with characters from The Princess and the Frog, Tangled, and Frozen.
- Town Center – This new Disney Springs neighborhood will feature unique flagship stores, incredible boutiques, restaurants and much more.
Walt Disney World has just released the dates for Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party for the 2016 season. This is truly the happiest party on the planet. The event is filled with all kinds of fun holiday entertainment and is highly anticipated each year. Your family, like mine, will love the special Christmas Fireworks show, “Holiday Wishes – Celebrate The Spirit of The Season”, the complimentary cookies and hot cocoa, Mickey’s Once Upon a Christmastime Parade, the Celebrate the Season Castle Show and of course all the unique and fun character meet and greets. For full details of the event click on the following link – Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party – Full Event Details
Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party Dates for 2016
- November 7, 8, 10, 12, 13, 15, 18, 27 and 29
- December 1, 2, 4, 6, 8, 11, 13, 15, 16, 18 and 22
If you’re planning a trip to Walt Disney World this holiday season be sure to contact me for more information and details.
– Cody Woodbrey