Disney Cruise Line’s “Star Wars Day at Sea”.

Jackie WL Star W

Disney Cruise Line motor coach transport is super convenient from your Walt Disney World Resort hotel, which in my case was Disney’s Wilderness Lodge Resort, to Port Canaveral. Doing a land stay before a Disney cruise is the ultimate vacation, combining the best of both worlds!

In this case we were on our way to our “Star Wars Day at Sea” aboard the fourth and newest ship, the Disney Fantasy.

Star W Port C

You’re made to feel super welcome by Minnie Mouse all decked out in her sailing attire just before you board the ship. Disney Cruise Line contracted photographers on hand for those professional photos, for which the collection can be purchased onboard at “Shutters Photography”, either in individual photos, or in packages. You can even customize your cell phone case.

Jackie Star W Gate

The best gate to a gangway at sea, Terminal 8-Disney Cruise Line at Port Canaveral. Loving those Disney Imagineering details!

Atrium Lobby StarW

Magical Guest introductions making Guests feel like royalty into the “Star Wars Day at Sea” adorned Atrium Lobby aboard the Disney Fantasy.

Stateroom 5022

We have always booked verandah staterooms, but on this sailing which I booked just short of a year out, I reserved a category 8A oceanview stateroom, #5022. The best selections of staterooms are at your feet, the earlier you book. This stateroom accommodates 3 people, offers a queen bed and a single convertible sofa bed. The restroom is not the traditional “split-bath” configuration, which is an industry first for Disney Cruise Line.

Star W Teacup Table

Booking far out enough (usually a year) in advance, affords you the opportunity to score these coveted dining tables, called, “Teacup Tables” in Enchanted Garden, one of the three dining rooms on Disney Cruise Line’s industry first, “Rotational Dining”. The unique convenience about this dining system is that your serving team follows you on your rotation through a total of three restaurants, Enchanted Garden, Royal Court and Animator’s Palate. We, on this cruise were greatly surprised, and I’ll tell you why.

I requested a “Teacup Table”, because we greatly enjoyed ours on our previous Disney Fantasy sailing. To our great surprise, we were seated at the very same table on this sailing, and I mean the exact table number, #59. The second biggest surprise, was the photobomber …our server from our Mediterranean cruise back in July 2014 aboard the Disney Magic, Eder G. Now what are the odds of that happening! It’s Disney *pixie-dust* at work, that’s what!

Eder and Jackie

Here’s what I love about dining rotation. State your needs to your serving team once and you’re taken care of for the rest of the cruise. I was on a special diet, not allowing any carbohydrates or sweets, and Eder worked with me to make my dining healthful, yet highly palatable. I didn’t feel like I missed out on anything.

Andrew Mini Golf

Here’s what keeps us coming back…the social interactions, and spontaneous developmental bursts from my son, who has Autism. You’d never know it looking at him here playing mini golf on “Goofy’s Sports Deck”. Andrew can take you throughout the entire ship, just tell him where you want to go and follow his lead. It’s incredible!

Captain Hook Goofy Sports Deck

Just when you’re involved with playing ping-pong and mini golf, a visitor strolls through for some greets!AquaDuck DF

The “AquaDuck” another Disney Cruise Line industry first. 763 feof water coastering, with a 20 foot extension over the side of the ship. This feature is found on both the Disney Dream and Disney Fantasy. Accessible only by stairs, right into and out of the funnel, in a tandem raft.

AquaDuck lazy river

Guests finish off in a mini lazy river allowing ample time to exit, although some, like my son like to splash about.

Set sail on your Star Wars Day at Sea and plan your voyage to a galaxy far, far away!

 

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Planning on Visiting Walt Disney World Resort?

Are you planning a vacation to Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando? Get ready for the most unique and unforgettable experience ever. For many visitors, these vacations become an annual tradition because they quickly realize they cannot see and do everything in one visit. People discover that each Disney vacation becomes a unique vacation because of the constantly evolving experiences, annual Special Events drawing in returning Guests, offering a stay at differently themed and priced Disney Resort hotels, which by the way, can be a vacation destination all on their own without even setting foot in a Walt Disney World Resort Theme Park. Factor in Disney Resort hotel Guest amenities and people are hooked for life, many of which have become Disney Vacation Club owners.

That’s not all. The Disney Vacation Planning tools far exceed anything that’s out there compared to other travel destinations. The level of control through Walt Disney World Resort’s¬†website and My Disney Experience mobile application affords complete customization and control down to the last minute, including during one’s vacation through complimentary Resort-wide WiFi access for all Guests. If online planning is not desirable, official Disney Vacation Planners are available to help Guests plan over the telephone by calling (407) 939-5277.

Begin by visiting Disney Parks Vacation Planning Videos to watch free videos, helping you decide where to stay and how to tour. You have full control over every aspect of your vacation. If you have any questions, please head over to the official Disney Parks Moms Panel for free planning tips and advice from Disney experts who are frequent visitors and dedicated enthusiasts.

The conveniences and benefits of staying at a Walt Disney World Resort hotel begin the moment you book, with easy to use, step by step online prompts and fun email reminders along the way making sure you optimize all there is to benefit from, before, during and even after your vacation.

May I offer my suggestions in planning your Walt Disney World Resort vacation.

  1. Check for Special Offers and consider booking a Magic Your Way Vacation Package which will include important details such as your Disney Resort hotel, Disney Theme Park Tickets and if you wish, the added option of purchasing an incredible Disney Dining Plan package. Disney Resort hotel Guests have the added amenity of being able to book select attractions and experiences in advance, 60-days before check-in through Disney’s FastPass+ Service, over those visiting Guests who are not staying at a Disney Resort hotel, which is 30 days before their scheduled visit.
  2. Once booked, raise the level of your control of planning through MyMagic+ which will include guidance for Advanced Dining Reservations, securing FastPass+ experiences, and complete customization through My Disney Experience online and My Disney Experience mobile app. Customization and planning is fun, through the easy, step by step process, in the comfort of your own home, taking care of such details as your travel style, your budgetary considerations, and preferences.
  3. Make Advanced Dining Reservations up to 180 days before your arrival at popular Disney Character Restaurants, Table-Service Restaurtants, Signature Dining Restaurants and Special Event Dining Restaurants.
  4. Personalize your complimentary MagicBand through My Disney Experience which will store your Disney Resort hotel room entry, Disney Theme Park Ticket information, Disney Dining Reservations, Disney Dining Plan Meal and Snack Entitlements if purchased, FastPass+ selections, Disney PhotoPass Service information including Memory Maker if purchased, and your Walt Disney World Resort charging priviledges during your reservation package stay. All in one little RFID wristband so you can be free to enjoy your day without carrying a single item. Not only that, your MagicBand unlocks little surprises and personalized experiences!
  5. If staying at a Disney Resort hotel and flying into Orlando International Airport, consider reserving Disney’s Magical Express complimentary transportation to your Disney Resort hotel and back at the end of your vacation. A few weeks before your arrival, you’ll receive labelled luggage tags with your resort information. Tag your bags before you leave home and you’ll find your luggage in your Disney Resort hotel room a few hours after you check-in. All you have to do upon landing at Orlando International is head over to the Disney Magical Express Welcome Center, walk up to the Cast Member manned kiosk, place your MagicBand against the Mickey Touch Point for entry into the proper Disney Resort hotel motor coach queue. If you’re an International traveller, you’ll need to have your Disney’s Magical Express Transportation Voucher with the Bar-Code Scan containing your transportation information.
  6. Complete your Resort Online Check-In to make sure your room requests and credit card on file is accurate and complete, enabling you a speedier check-in at your Disney Resort hotel on arrival day where you’ll receive your Welcome Package.
  7. Upon your arrival, Cast Members are available at the entrance to assist with Check-In, as well, in the lobby of your Disney Resort hotel there’s a special “Online Check-In Counter” for those Guests who took care of their Resort Online Check-In before they left home. International Guests will receive their new, complimentary MagicBands during check-in at the Front Desk.
  8. Now it’s time to make Unforgettable Happens Here memories at the place where Magic Is Endless!

 

Your Friends on Social Media Platforms

They clicked ‘like’ on my status, fabulous! And, the brain thought process begins branching out like river tributaries. They love me! I’m getting noticed! That means I’m in! This is my time! I’m accepted!

Are you?

The same applies if they scrolled past your post. The brain thought process begins branching out and spiralling here and there. Oh my gosh, I didn’t get a ‘like’, what does that mean? Oh, gosh, they don’t like me anymore, they’re not following me, I’m doomed! Why did ‘X’ get so many likes? No one cares!

Not really.

It’s about someone scrolling through their newsfeed and simply not bothering because they’re scrolling. They’re not interested in ‘liking’ or ‘commenting’ right at that point, because they’re just scanning, much like reading the front page of a newspaper and then saving what you want to delve into for another time. Or, more likely, it’s because of the time of day you put up your post as traffic is higher during specific times of the day. Research that, you’ll find interesting statistics on social media ‘on-screen’ traffic patterns.

In my opinion, ‘likes’ and ‘comments’ are a form of acknowledgement with your post and the empassioned people will give you the ‘wow’ or a ‘heart’ or a ‘mad’ while for others, not so much. And, that’s okay sometimes, but not all of the time, which leads me to the part about a two-way street, being friends and reaching out once in a while, with a click of something in reaction when you want to, but are too lazy to move the mouse over and click. What is so difficult about a simple click-response to a post if you have an inclination?

And, then of course, the reason of why we have to be friends with friends of friends? What purpose does that serve other than a little social pyramid? Who does this benefit? If your intent is to be a social media friend, then it wouldn’t hurt once in a while to drag that cursor over if you have even the smallest inclination and click for the sake of reciprocity and displaying gracious behavior.

Otherwise, why are you friends? To troll? To ‘restrict’? To ‘add to another list’? Why be friends then? Because, after a while, that’s when you see those posts pop up stating ‘if you read this post please share, it means you’re paying attention’ and people stating they’re ‘cleaning house’. They’re feeling dejected because they’re taking the time to put up a status the way we all do, and want some validation in form of a click.

Admit it, you’ve felt that way at one point or another. It’s a normal reaction.

Everyone wants some form of reciprocity and validation and I believe that’s why social media is so popular. So if you become friends and then ‘unfollow’ someone, then why are you friends in the first place? This is supposed to be social, right? Exclusionary behaviour is anti-social. Think of how in real-life you move on from people that just don’t stir your pot and gravitate to those that make your day. Same idea applies to your cyber-buddies. You put yourself out there afterall, what is your reason? To be noticed, to push your brand, to be friends? All of the above?

Unless, you’re trolling which is your curiosity coming forth, or you’re simply shy.

And about those folks who are posting fabulous vacation photos, newly aquired things photos, cozy family gathered around the Christmas table photos… yes, that’s just it, those are moments of pride, jubilation and accomplishment. Even the people who post photos of their pedi’s and their lunch…they’re proud and want to share.

Some think those are people who boast, and that might be the case, but I think they boast because for them at this point in time, life is going well and they want to celebrate that. A new house, lots of travel, weight loss, a new baby, a promotion, a celebration, and the list goes on and on. Instead of us feeling like they’re bragging, or lying, what’s wrong with lifting them in celebration and being happy for them? Heck, when it’s your time to celebrate on social media, you’ll want your friends to be happy for you, right?

Right!

Furthermore, happy posts, uplifting posts happen, for the most part, because people may be trying a more positive approach to rise above daily real-life challenges and not air dirty laundry. I believe they are attempting to redirect their feelings and attitude towards a more positive direction. That would be me. People who post that they’re looking forward to something in the near future are being hopeful. They’re happy. So they’re not bragging, they’re excited and we should all be happy for them, because one day that status will be us and we’ll want the same courtesy. Why is it automatically phoney if someone posts they’re going away on vacation, or have acquired something new, or posing with family in a holiday photo? Why is that any different that those folks who write about their past year highlights in those holiday letters attached to a photo? People just want a bit of validation. That’s all.

The same applies, however, to those folks who are venting, or expressing their sadness, because in their world at this point in time they are in pain and experiencing some form of suffering. They need our support, and encouragement more than ever…and one click, could mean the world of difference to them, that took a mere second out of your scroll.

So the next time you scroll past a status and you instinctively want to click, but can’t be bothered, just do it, click and be a good social media friend.

Remember how we all we were taught to play in Kindergarten?

It’s Easier to Smile

Smile.

Go ahead and smile. I know it’s forced and a conscious action right now, and may seem fake, but smile.
Keep smiling, you can do it. Smile.
There you go.

Still can’t smile? Think of something that you like, a food, an item, a place, anything. No judgements here, these are your personal thoughts. Now smile.

Even the conscious act of smiling, albeit appearing fake, has benefits for your well-being. The action evokes neurotransmitters-serotonin and dopamine to start their magic naturally without the use of anti-depressants.

Now here’s the thing, the more you consciously smile, the easier it will become and before you know it, smiling will become natural for you. Best of all, you’ll be smiling practically the whole day through. Just imagine.

Did you know that smiling helps build your immunity? Did you know that smiling evokes positive feelings leading towards a more positive outlook towards life in general? Smiling does that and we all have the capability to smile. We were designed that way.

So smile, go ahead. There you go.
Great smile by the way, you should do that more often!

Smiling will attract positive things and positive people to you. It’s a natural magnet because it breaks barriers and is a universal language. A simple smile is all it takes.

All it takes is a simple, conscious smile to help brighten your day.
That’s a good thing.

Smile ūüôā

Image courtesy of FanPop.com

My BIGGEST Personal Dream Came True

Disney MP 2016

The Disney Parks Moms Panel is an official Disney online forum where Disney travel enthusiasts with first-hand knowledge answer returning and potential Guests questions regarding Disney Parks planning. The advice and tips presented to Guests is unparalleled with the abundant depth of knowledge from first-hand experience. Panelists represent various Disney Parks destination specialties around the globe, such as Disneyland Resort in California, Walt Disney World Resort in Florida, Disney Cruise Line, Disney Vacation Club, runDisney and ESPN Wide World of Sports. As well, panelists are well versed with Aulani, A Disney Resort and Spa and Adventures by Disney. Best of all, most panelists have a rich tapestry of combined destination experiences, as well as knowledge of travel with special needs family members, and multiple languages such as Spanish, Portuguese and French.

After eight years of applications, (which typically begin in September), progressing through three rounds, and a telephone interview, I was invited for a coveted spot representing the Walt Disney World Resort Specialty! I couldn’t be more grateful and pleased for this important opportunity in assisting returning and potential Disney Parks Guests with their vacation planning. This year for me will be one that I cherish every single moment of answering questions and helping people create life-long, unforgettable memories with their visits to the Walt Disney World Resort. If you’re interested in applying, check the Disney Parks Blog for official application announcements late August or early September.

My Disney Parks experience begins with over 30 visits as a Walt Disney World Resort hotel Guest at over 12 of their resort hotels and Disney Vacation Club Villas. I have celebrated each of my children’s birthdays, except 5 at Walt Disney World Resort and with Disney Cruise Line. I have stayed and played at Disneyland Resort in California and at Aulani, A Disney Resort and Spa in Hawai’i. As well, I have sailed with Disney Cruise Line fleet wide on the Caribbean, and Mediterranean itineraries as a Platinum Castaway Club member with over 11 sailings.

That’s how much I love anything related to Disney! I would be honoured to assist you with your upcoming or potential Disney Parks vacation, just look for Jacqueline P. from Ontario over at the Disney Parks Moms Panel¬†representing Walt Disney World Resort.

Jackie Acropolis

My Special Personal Mission

Jackie Louvre Museum Paris

I am officially in my “Golden Years” but in my heart I feel like a kid! In fact, my mom still tells me that I haven’t grown up yet. In the past, that used to irritate me, but now, it doesn’t phase me…because I’m happy! In my opinion, there’s always more room for joy and self-improvement and I happen to be doing just that, improving my health through the guidance and assistance of Dr. Joey Shulman¬†from the Shulman Weightloss Center as a winner of the Cityline Weightloss Challenge of Toronto’s popular morning show Cityline.

It’s a meal plan that teaches me permanent life-style eating strategies, not quick, drastic starvation techniques, but with real food, no medications, no injections, no artificial foods…just real food. I’m learning to make wise choices for what to eat and more importantly when to eat. Being in full menopause puts me in a different metabolic situation and Dr. Joey Shulman has incorporated a plan that will help me…and it works.

The food plan and mindful eating technique I follow¬†is quite simple with all the fresh food I already have at home. Unlimited vegetables, lean protein 3x a day, 2 servings of fruit a day, 1 complex carbohydrate, 4 servings of good fats, 1 dairy, and 2 litres of water a day. I have been following that plan practically all my life, but I had mixed in some other detrimental food and eating time choices that contributed to my weight gain. Dr. Joey taught me to skim back on the excess and re-train my body. It’s working. I’m not starving. I don’t have headaches and my cravings are under full control. I am sleeping better, exercising more and I feel great! I even lost 2lbs. right after a Disney Fantasy, Star Wars Day at Sea cruise, imagine that…losing weight on a cruise!

If you want to take a closer look at the Shulman Weightloss Plan and follow it on Cityline Weightloss Challenge Facebook Group, you’ll find an abundance of support, as there are over 1,000 members on the challenge.

Thank you and all the best to you!

Stunning Mosaic Mural Panels in Cinderella Castle

Upon completion in July 1971, Cinderella Castle, stands 189 feet tall at Magic Kingdom Park, Walt Disney World Resort. A textbook example of forced perspective, (an optical trick giving the illusion of the castle being larger than it really is), Cinderella Castle goes further, with the impression of being constructed from marble. In fact, Cinderella Castle’s inner structure is constructed of six hundred tons of steel-braced frame construction, and a 10-inch-thick (250 mm) reinforced concrete wall and most of the exterior is a thick, very hard fiber-reinforced gypsum plaster that is supported by light-gauge metal studs. The fiberglass work is seen along the exterior walls and upper towers.

Along the interior archway, a series of five mosaic murals tell the story of Cinderella. The mural panels measure 15′ x 10′ and are shaped like Gothic arches. The mural panels contain over 300,000 pieces of Italian glass in 500 colors, rough smalti (mosaic Italian glass) and fused with sterling silver and 14-Karat gold.

The mural panels were designed by Disney Imagineer Dorothea Redmond and the actual placement and crafting was done by six mosaic artists led by mosaicist, Hanns-Joachim Scharff and took twenty-two months to complete.

The results are captivating with minute detailing throughout.

Cinderella Castle Mosaic Wall