Posted in Atttitude, Autism, Disney, Disney Parks, Special Needs, Thoughts, Uncategorized, Walt Disney World Resort

“Leave Me Alone!”

If I may preface this Post with a brief word about judgement.

Judgement is a natural instinct, I don’t care who you are, we’re all guilty of it, and we’ve all passed some during the course of our lives. The challenge here is to try to stop yourself before you act, and do any more potential harm. You can’t get your words back. You can never repair the damage, because at the end of the day it’s about how you made that person feel.

Recently I took my son on vacation to Walt Disney World Resort, his favourite place on Earth, and ours too, because that is the place where we have seen the greatest developmental gains, both spontaneous, and gradual. We’ve seen his independence thrive, his sensory limitations expanded, his adaptive skills increased, and everything in between, so yes, we try our best to get him there as often as possible because the joy that radiates from him when there, is magnanimous. Just take a closer look at the photo of him on his way to Walt Disney World Resort.

It was there that he learned proper dining etiquette, and how to wait in lines (we’re up to 30 minutes now), and it was there that we are always made to feel at home by the caring, helpful Cast Members (that’s what Disney employees are called). But, it wasn’t always so easy, or straightforward.

I clearly remember the days when we had a card for a special accommodation to attractions, and we were judged by others in line because my son’s disability is not clearly visible until you begin to really observe him. I was the mom who had little cards printed up explaining his disability because I was truly interested in educating others, and this helped me save my voice from repetition, but most importantly, it saved my son’s dignity. He may not be verbal, but his comprehension is close to his age level.

So, yes, I was and still am his greatest advocate, and my antennae are on high alert for any unfair stares, and/or comments, but I always try to handle uninformed people with care, because it’s not their fault that they do not know about autism. So I can’t judge them, and I won’t. Life is not always about us after all, and not everyone is affected by disabilities.

But, last week, I learned something new about my son. He does have a voice other than through his art, and his music.

He spoke up.

We were lined up at a kiosk at Epcot to pay for something, and while he stays close to me, while I am paying, he tends to swagger from leg to leg, and do odd things with his hands, and he may babble a few words.

Until I heard a voice behind me from a woman who quite harshly asked him, “what are you doing?”

His response, “leave me alone!”

So, while this may not have been the best response to the woman, it gave me great hope, because he actually advocated for himself.

At that point, I turned, smiled, and briefly explained about my son, to which her reply was mockery through sneers at us.

We just walked away.

It was the best thing to do.

My job now? I have to teach my son the proper language in dealing with comments that ruffle him, because “leave me alone” is harsh, and inappropriate.

So please, while it’s easy to judge, try to derail from it, by thinking that we all have feelings, and that we may all do things differently from each other.

If you can’t say something nicedon’t say nothing at all.” – Thumper

Posted in Disney, Disney Parks, Disney Parks Moms Panel, MagicBands, Walt Disney World, Walt Disney World Resort

There’s Something Unique About the Disney Parks & Resorts & Destinations

I remember our very first visit to Walt Disney World Resort back in 1998, with my then, four-year-old daughter. It was supposed to be a once-in-a-lifetime, bucket-list vacation where we would make and capture our special memories as the fairytales and Disney characters came alive. Little did we know, that these types of vacations would quickly embed themselves into our life.

What kept us coming back?

The unique and ever-evolving events, experiences, and attractions. The multitude of Disney Resort Hotels that offered unique theming at every price-point. The personalized experiences, and treatment. The inclusion, especially with our special needs son — no person is left behind from enjoying themselves fully.

In theme parks that could accommodate over 50,000 people on a given day, we were made to feel as if the theme park belonged to us, as if we were the only guests visiting that day.

Disney employees, lovingly referred to as Cast Members, are everywhere, you can easily spot them, and they’re always approachable, helpful, very friendly, and accommodating. It matters not what your needs are, they are always there to help, in a sincere manner. The services provided by the Walt Disney World Resort Guest Experience Team is like no other. They’ll assist with anything from personalizing a complimentary special occasion button, all the way to helping with a lost item. And believe me, when I say that they try, they do. My cousin accidentally left her sunglasses on an attraction, and before she knew it, the sunglasses were found amidst a sea of sunglasses, and magically shipped home.

Disney Cast Members strive to afford all guests an exceptional experience, which stems from Disney’s “Four Keys” – in priority being; Safety, Courtesy, Show, and Efficiency. Each ‘Key’ is important and plays a part with the rest to ensure incredible guest experiences.

The conveniences are like no other. Where else can you vacation and be fully entertained? Who else will provide complimentary return shuttle service from Orlando International Airport? Or, complimentary MagicBands, an all in one device that contains theme park ticket admission, attraction, and dining reservations, unlocks your Disney Resort Hotel Guest Room door, and even enables charges to your Disney Resort Hotel Guest Room account. Where else do you not see your luggage until your arrival in your Guest Room? Where else can you be transported around 47 square miles of theme and water parks, and shopping via bus, ferryboat, Monorail, and gondola? Where else can you push a button and magical fireworks will twinkle on your headboard anytime you wish?

There’s something about all of this. A pull, like no place else. It’s the way we are treated. It’s about how we forget about all our troubles and enter a world where it’s all about fun stuff, and yummy stuff, and stories coming alive, and making new friends, and seeing old ones — especially the many Cast Members, who are like family now.

It’s because Disney cares.

It’s about exceptional customer service.

That’s why.

Posted in Autism, Disney, Disney Cruise Line, Disney Parks, Uncategorized

Disney Cast Members

Recently, a poignant story came out about an autistic boy’s positive experience with a Disney Character at Walt Disney World Resort. I must admit, this is not a unique experience amongst guests with special needs at “The Place Where Dreams Come True”. It’s commonplace, as Disney continually strives to afford all guests as enjoyable, enriching, and as inclusive a vacation experience as possible — and to this very day, I can honestly say that every single Disney vacation holds a unique and special moment, and compassionate accommodations for our son that ensured he had a magical visit.

So, this is why…

  • to Winnie-the-Pooh who was easy-going about Andrew nuzzling against his snout…
  • to Buzz Lightyear who captured and maintained Andrew’s attention in mere seconds…
  • to Simo, our delightful server at ‘Ohana who knows exactly what to bring Andrew and when…
  • to Eeyore who lets Andrew pull off his tail and thanks him for noticing…
  • to the Guest Relations Cast Member who nods with understanding with no further explanation…
  • to Donald Duck for not losing his feathers when Andrew stepped on his big, yellow webbed feet…
  • to Cinderella for her feather-light embrace and the first girl that Andrew smiled at…
  • to Mickey Mouse for noticing Andrew’s shyness and for stepping out of the tent to tickle Andrew’s feet and make him giggle…
  • to the countless Cast Members for making us feel like a ‘normal’ family…
  • to the Cast Member who spotted us on the Monorail platform and who came over with Mickey Mouse stickers and a set of FastPasses…
  • to the place where Andrew told me he loved me and gave me a peck on the cheek for the first and only time in 2012…

Great customer service with The Walt Disney Company stems from their  “Four Keys”, which guarantee exceptional Guest experience – Safety, Courtesy, Show and Experience!

They’ve unlocked the magic when it comes to customer service.

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Posted in Attitude, Autism, Decluttering, Disney, Jackie's Adventures, Life

FREE At Last!

The biggest mistake I ever made was the ‘art of collecting’ and storing things in boxes when I first got married. I actually thought I was demonstrating organization. Everything was important, everything mattered and everything was tied to a special memory – even the tiniest piece of paper filled with doodles opened a flood of memories while learning about Louis Leakey in university.

I was the person, who as a kid, felt sorry for any kind of candy wrapper, or scrap of paper and who would stuff the wrapper in a box, between pages in a book, or a coat pocket. I felt sorry for a piece of paper and what would become of it, so imagine my anxiety when recycling programs came about and the great relief of the emergence of fancy storage boxes.

I saved everything. Even receipts from our meals at Disney. I’m not kidding. It was, after all, a great example of explaining how to keep track of Disney Dining Plan Meal Credits, which, at the time was really important.

But, at some point, after the move to our second home, after our kids began to get older, there was a shift, and all those boxes of ‘things’ began to cause me great grief. I would think of the closets, and the piles of books and papers and bags of memorabilia which I just HAD TO HAVE at the time, but would now send me into a panic. My closets were filled, organized, but filled and sadly, excessive.

But, there was a problem, I was physically exhausted from being up most of the night with my son and his nighttime behaviours for fifteen years. Fifteen years of walking around like a zombie during the day, trying to catch a wink here and there, fifteen years of struggling with my weight and mobility and yo yo diets which left me anemic and unhealthy. The struggle was real and the motivation at an all time low. I just had no energy, so all I did, was to focus on what I loved to do, something that fed my soul and boosted my moral. For me, that was anything related to Disney. And then came the internet and chat rooms and social media and cyber-friends and the distraction was massive and it took me away from my task at hand and made and continues to make me very happy.

Over the next few years, we would attempt to clear ‘the piles’, but stuff still had a way of creeping into the house- well I was the one who brought it all in, I’ll take the onus.

I would bag stuff, I would donate it, I would run things over to schools and shelters, but that wasn’t enough and those donations did not even make a dent in the clutter that lurked around my home and that kept coming in. This was all I began to talk about with family and friends, even more so than my chatter about Disney and this is when I knew this was a huge problem that had to be dealt with.

Something else had to happen. I wasn’t getting very far stuffing bag upon bag for donation. My biggest problem, was that there were items that couldn’t be stuffed into a bag, such as thick binders and books and papers and frames and you name it. So, I decided to rent a residential bin and to set a time limit. This, for me, was the only way to get anything done because I paid for the bin and didn’t want to send it back empty.

So there it sat for ten days and with each purge, I felt a release. With each toss, I felt a sense of freedom and more importantly control. As the house began to open up, I felt a growing momentum to let go of all those things which were burdens and as I did, I felt more free and strong. When they came to pick up the bin, I actually felt a pang of panic because of not having the luxury of being able to toss something out so easily.

This had a huge impact on me and I vow, that, because of the immeasurable anxiety the clutter and junk had on me, I vow, to never bring in another item on a whim. I vow to let go of something when I do bring in another item, no matter what. Otherwise, I’ll be in this same position before I know it, and I cannot and will not live like that!

I don’t need knick knacks, I don’t need new pots, or pans, or coffee makers, or irons, or things to stuff in bowls, or containers filled with sand or shells, or even testimonial mugs – I have many, many mugs. Years ago, I paid good money for a few cooking pots and small appliances and they’ll do their magic until their end. I won’t visit those home stores which will tempt me to buy this or that, I don’t need anything. What I have serves its purpose and I’ll never be able to make my house look like the pages of a magazine, or what have you. I’d rather save my money for what truly makes me happy, and that’s travel, experiences and making memories.

Now, I love my empty corners, tabletops and shelves because they give me a sense of peace and make me feel in control. Best of all, dusting is a breeze.

That’s what works for me.

The 20 yard residential bin rental was from “Bin There Dump That” which I thought was at a very reasonable cost, and I highly recommend this company. For me there was no other way.

I hope you remove the clutter from your life, because it’s very liberating and empowering.  And now, I can proudly state that my household ‘To Do List’ for 2018 is finished. For the FIRST time in forever, I don’t have that nagging feeling that I have to do this or that, and I can now focus on my daily and weekly tasks at hand.

I can’t express how great that feels.

Posted in Disney, Disney Parks, Disney Parks Moms Panel, Jackie's Adventures, Vacation Planning, Walt Disney World, Walt Disney World Resort

Walt Disney World Resort’s Lost and Found

Years ago, I was having fun at an all girl’s weekend at Walt Disney World Resort and brought along my favourite Nick & Nora pyjamas, you know, the one’s that have these huge, bright red cherries all over them? They’re still my favourite pj’s because the cotton is light and smooth, perfect for getting me through those hot flashes and I just love the whimsical cherries and little frilly things. Perfect for me!

Well, sadly, I forgot them back at the Disney Resort hotel, but to my great surprise, after a quick, friendly and very helpful telephone call, the Cast Member found them herself, sitting atop the change area shelf and she called me back with the great news! Why, before I knew it, my cherry pj’s were back home within a few days, along with the cutest little Gus & Jaq figurines sitting in the pocket of the pj’s.

Recently, my cousin was visiting Walt Disney World Resort and lost her sunglasses. To her great surprise and immense satisfaction, Guest Relations was able to locate and return them – she was astounded with the expeditious and courteous manner in which the entire matter was dealt with and resolved, all for a pair of sunglasses. Now, I’m not promising or guaranteeing that everything lost is found, some items of course, just like to stick around for all the Disney fun, but my experience has been that Cast Members do try their very best.

And now, the official Disney Parks Blog announced an even greater and more convenient service. If a Guest happens to lose an item on Walt Disney World Resort property and even while travelling on the convenient Walt Disney World Resort Transportation, they can use their mobile device, head over to DisneyWorld.com/lostandfound, and with a few quick taps, Guests can report their lost item. Best of all, the Lost and Found magic makers will keep Guests updated regarding their lost item. How great is that!

Read all about the Walt Disney World Resort Lost & Found via the Disney Parks Blog and, if you have any questions about your next Disney Resorts, Parks & Destinations vacation, be sure to stop by the Disney Parks Moms Panel for great tips & advice from folks like myself, with first-hand Disney vacation experience.

Thanks for stopping by!

Posted in Disney, Disney Parks, Disney Parks Moms Panel, Disney Social Media Celebration On The Road, Disney Social Media Moms Celebration, MagicBands, My Disney Experience, Travel, Vacation Planning, Walt Disney World Resort

Why Stay at a Walt Disney World Resort Hotel? Grab a pen and some paper!

At Walt Disney World Resort it’s all magical, every single experience you’ll have is magical. From the people that work there, called, Cast Members, right down to the Guest Room you’ll sleep in, the magic is all around and begins the moment you book your Magic Your Way Vacation Package online, seamlessly!

The minute you’ve booked online, you’ll receive email prompts for next steps to make sure you optimize every aspect of your vacation. Best of all, you will have complete control over every detail of your vacation to make decisions based on the needs of your family. If you need help, head over to the Disney Parks Moms Panel to ask questions from everyday people who have first-hand Disney Destinations vacation experience. You can read answers to many questions, look through the popular Moms Views, watch the fun and informative videos and much more! As well, you can Watch Free Disney Vacation Planning Videos which are perfect for your planning.

Staying at a Walt Disney World Resort hotel will present you with unique benefits and many conveniences to help you maximize your vacation experiences and to help you create a magical, enjoyable stay.

Now, let’s talk about the benefits:

  • you’ll enjoy spectacular, unique and authentic theming at your Disney Resort hotel where you can seriously enjoy a complete vacation there alone, these hotels are unbelievable and true-to-theme!
  • you’ll have the advantage of Disney’s Extra Magic Hours to enjoy extended morning and/or evenings at select Theme Parks to enjoy select attractions (valid Theme Park admission is required)
  • if you are flying into Orlando International Airport and you select Disney’s Magical Express during your booking – then you’ll receive luggage tags well in advance of your departure from home to affix on your luggage so that when you arrive at the airport you can bypass Baggage Claim and head straight to your complimentary motorcoach transportation for a magical ride to your Disney Resort hotel. Oh, and at the end of your vacation, Disney’s Magical Express will take you back to the airport!
  • you’ll enjoy complimentary Walt Disney World Resort transportation Resort-wide
  • you’ll receive complimentary MagicBands which add even more convenience to your stay by connecting you to all your Walt Disney World Resort vacation choices made with My Disney Experience – you’ll travel lighter because you can use your linked MagicBand to enter the Theme Parks, it’ll unlock your Disney Resort hotel Guest Room, you can charge food and souvenirs to your Disney Resort hotel Guest Room account, so no need to carry your wallet, how great is that! And, you’ll enjoy little magical surprises during your touring!
  • if you’re a shopper, then don’t worry about lugging your parcels around, you’ll be able to have the souvenirs sent directly to your Disney Resort hotel
  • now here’s where it gets even better – staying at a Disney Resort hotel enables you to book your FastPass+ experiences 60 days before your arrival check-in date, where Guests staying off Walt Disney World Resort property can only book their FastPass+ experiences 30 days before their scheduled Theme Park arrival (valid Theme Park admission must be linked to your Disney account)

This is why when we vacation at Walt Disney World Resort we book a Disney Resort hotel – so why not get started and book your vacation at the Place Where Dreams Come True at the most Magical Place on Earth!

Partners Statue Gold

Posted in Autism, Disney, Disney Cruise Line, Disney Parks, Disney Social Media Celebration On The Road, Disney Social Media Moms Celebration, Special Needs, Travel, Vacation Planning

Private Cabanas at Disney’s Paradise in the Bahamas

Did you know that when you sail with Disney Cruise Line, most itineraries make one or even two stops at Disney Castaway Cay? This Disney island is located in the Bahamas and offers many excursions (Port Adventures) for Guests of all ages. You’ll find a Family Beach, Adult-Only Beach called, Serenity Bay and a Teen Beach, where you’ll enjoy complimentary beach loungers, chairs and large umbrella. As if that’s not enough, you’ll be treated to a delicious and bountiful beach barbecue!

We love renting a private Cabana for our day at Disney Castaway Cay because it offers peace, shelter and a lot of privacy which is perfect for keeping our son comfortable, enabling him to enjoy a full day on the island. The private Cabana offers, a roomy interior with sofa, chairs, a stocked mini-fridge, face towels, magazines, sunscreens and lotions, a corner change area with curtain, an outer covered verandah with large, cushioned loungers, a hammock, outdoor shower – great for rinsing off the sand, beach loungers, chairs and umbrella, the use of beach floatations, snorkel equipment, bikes, beach toys and a buzzer near the entrance, which will beckon a Cast Member who can restock your mini-fridge with water bottles, juices, fruit and snacks…and yes, they’ll bring you a Konk Kooler, or libation for a cost.

My experience with booking private Cabanas is that you have to book within your booking window for Port Adventures and do so as soon as possible, because they’re popular. I have a few tips (not guaranteed but worth a try) if you can’t book one online. Keep checking back online because someone may cancel. As well, when you board the ship on the first day, check again and every day of your sailing with the Port Adventures Desk. The day you dock at Disney Castaway Cay, catch the Tram to Pelican Point and go to the Cabanas Check-In Booth and inquire again – this is how we scored our very first Cabana the year they became available. Now, as Platinum Castaway Cay Club members, we have an earlier booking window. As well, if you are sailing in Concierge Level, you too, will have an earlier booking window.

As a mom of an autistic teenage boy, I cannot say enough how helpful it is utilizing a private Cabana. My son, enjoys the beach, but will tire easily, so he has the option of resting on the covered verandah on a cushy lounger watching his favourite Disney movies, or swinging to his hearts content on a hammock all to himself and for my motion seeker, that’s the perfect solution!

Disney Cruise Line, where “There’s Something for Everyone.”

Cabana Sign Psarianos

Posted in Autism, Disney, Disney Cruise Line, Disney Parks Moms Panel, Disney Social Media Moms Celebration, Europe, Jackie's Adventures, Special Needs, Travel, Uncategorized

Andrew Soared Sailing with Disney Cruise Line

Who would have thought that we could take our son to Europe? We never, ever thought this would be possible, ever, and we consider ourselves hopeless optimists which has kept us going year after year after year through these chapters called, autism.

We were blown away during our recent sailing on the Disney Magic throughout the Mediterranean seeing our son acclimate so well and I’ll say this – it’s because of our past sailings with Disney Cruise Line. It’s because of the familiarity having sailed all four ships in the fleet (with more to come in the near future). You see, while each ship has its own distinctive features, there are many similarities with the others that create consistency and through that, foster an environment of security. Here’s how they do it:

  • the staterooms all have similar layouts, furniture design and fabrics
  • the basic colours both inside and out are similar
  • the basic layouts of the ships are basically similar
  • the rotational dining system in the three main dining rooms carries throughout the fleet
  • the youth clubs, while slightly varied, do evoke a sense of familiarity offering a welcoming and friendly vibe in all

Andrew can take you almost anywhere onboard. In fact, he quite often leads the way, usually ten paces ahead of us. Yes, it’s become that easy for us. He knows the routine well now. When we open our stateroom door, he knows exactly what to expect and where he will sleep and proceeds to ‘organize his space’ if I may, where he lays out all his comforts from home – his iPad, his tactile, sensory toys to name a few things. It’s all become systematic and seamless. You can see him doing this in the photo below – he’s organizing, as he calls it.

Then, let’s talk about the Port Adventures. We did all of them in Europe because of all the logistical planning and mostly the peace of mind. With Disney Cruise Line you get all of that and much more. On each and every Port Adventure, the guides did all they possibly could to ensure Andrew was comfortable, safe and happy, but most of all, they valued him for who he was and made him feel included. One example, is how Andrew was asked to lead the Port Adventures group straight to the Acropolis of Athens by carrying the group sign. I cannot tell you how his confidence soared right before our very eyes and what great hope that gave us, seeing him so proud and happy. He was all smiles for the entire cruise.

This is what keeps us coming back for more with the cruise line where “there’s something for everyone.”

 

Posted in Disney, Disney Cruise Line, Disney Parks Moms Panel, Disney Social Media Moms Celebration, Uncategorized

Thalassotherapy on a Disney Cruise?

Thalassa means the sea and coupled with therapy, well, that’s thalassotherapy and yes, you’ll find this therapy sailing with Disney Cruise Line in one of many adult-exclusive areas, namely the Rainforest Room within Senses Salon & Spa.

As you step beyond the welcome area, the feeling of relaxation steadily sets in as you prepare in the luxurious changing rooms. Entering the Rainforest Room itself takes to an environment of one where you de-escalate, as you progress through the three different saunas and rain shower experiences that lead to a room with heated loungers that overlook the sea – the Thalassotherapy Room – Thalassa (sea). You can go in with books with the intention to read, but I guarantee that you’ll be falling asleep over the warm comfort of the heated lounger.

You can purchase your pass into the Rainforest Room by the day, but spots quickly fill up, so I highly recommend that you purchase a length-of-cruise pass on embarkation day from Senses Salon & Spa straight-away to avoid disappointment. While you’re up there, ask for more information on the various spa treatments that will help rejuvenate you.

Thalassotherapy Room 1

Stay tuned for my experience at the adult-exclusive Satellite Falls on the upper deck of the Disney Dream and Disney Fantasy – a most tranquil, wading pool experience.

 

Posted in Disney, Disney Cruise Line, Disney Parks Moms Panel, Disney Social Media Moms Celebration, Jackie's Adventures, Travel, Uncategorized

Adults Love Wading Pools Too!

Doing nothing on a Disney Cruise is the best thing around, it’s your vacation after all. If you’re adventurous, many onboard experiences and shore-side Port Adventures await your exploration, but if you’re a lounger, like me, then you’re seeking peace and solitude, away from the many challenging demands of adulting.

One such place onboard the third and fourth ships in the fleet, the Disney Dream and Disney Fantasy is Satellite Falls. Disney describes this as a “tranquil orbit,” so grab a spot, sink in and bask and just be. This adult-exclusive wading pool is the perfect place to unwind under a gentle rain-curtain if you’re directly beneath the giant sphere, or you can sit near the perimeter and just breathe.

Step out to nap on the cushioned lounge chairs under the shade to enjoy the vistas from the top deck. This is steps away from the adults-only Quiet Cove Pool, Quiet Cove Bar and Cove Cafe – true escapes from whatever you wish – and that’s only the beginning of your adult-only adventures with Disney Cruise Line.

Posted in Disney, Disney Cruise Line, Disney Parks Moms Panel, Disney Social Media Moms Celebration, Europe, Travel, Uncategorized

Let’s Talk About the Staterooms on a Disney Cruise!

Sailing with Disney Cruise Line magically reconnects families, offers adults a chance to relax, unwind and it offers stimulating areas and Youth Clubs where children can explore, discover and learn while having a whole lot of fun watching their beloved Disney Characters and stories come to life.

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Choose itineraries in the Mediterranean, Northern Europe, Bahamas, Alaska, the Caribbean, through the Panama Canal and the horizon looks so exciting with three new ships that will be added to the current fleet of four!

The Disney personalized service, outshines any other vessel I have sailed on. From the moment you step onboard, you are treated royally with the announcement of your name as you are applauded into the stunning Atrium Lobby to begin your ‘Magical’ adventures filled with ‘Wonder’ to see your ‘Dream’ come alive as your ‘Fantasy’ fairytale world opens right before your very eyes.

Read along as I describe the “Disney Difference” regarding staterooms.

The Disney Dream and Disney Fantasy, the third and fourth ships in the fleet, respectively, offer 1,250 staterooms, where 80% are outside rooms, and of those, 90% offer private verandahs. For larger families and groups sailing together, 500 staterooms have connecting doors adjoining the staterooms.  On the Disney Magic and Disney Wonder, the first and second ships in the fleet, 70% are outside staterooms.

On the Disney Dream and Disney Fantasy, you can select a Standard or Deluxe Inside Stateroom which offers the delightful “Magical Porthole” window which displays real-time feed from the ship’s exterior and a few little surprises along the way – Magical Porthole windows are not available on the Disney Magic or Disney Wonder. You can select various levels of Deluxe Oceanview and Deluxe Family Oceanview Staterooms with or without a Verandah. If you wish, you can opt for Concierge Level Staterooms and Suites – all offering Verandahs. Whatever you decide, you’ll sleep on made-for-Disney-themed Frette bedding, bask in luxurious H20+ toiletries and twice-daily stateroom service. Guests in Concierge Level staterooms enjoy Concierge Service.

Magical Porthole
The Magical Porthole window on the Disney Dream and Disney Fantasy. Photo: Disney Parks Blog

DCL Stateroom 3

Staterooms are 25% larger than the industry standard and offer the industry-first “Split Bath and a Half” configuration adding even more convenience for Guests. The “Split Bath and a Half” offers a room containing a private sink and toilet followed by a second room containing a full tub/shower and sink, filled with plush Frette towels and toiletries from the H20+ line of products.

 

DCL Stateroom

Staterooms were designed keeping families in mind offering a queen-size bed, privacy curtain, a convertible single sofa bed and pull-down bunk. Many staterooms, to accommodate 5 Guests also offer a pull-down wall bed which rests on the floor. The main bed is raised to offer out-of-the-way luggage storage beneath and I love that the mattress is not rounded at the foot end, as is the case with many other cruise lines. The stateroom offers many drawers, a trunk with lid for extra storage, a mini- fridge and ample closet space that includes a safe for valuables. The top bunk ceiling even casts a dreamy, starry night.

DCL Staterooms 2

DCL Stateroom 4

Staterooms are equipped with the Wave Phones which enable communication with fellow travellers, or Guests may opt to communicate privately using the ‘Onboard Chat’ feature via the Disney Cruise Line Navigator App which also offers daily schedules, shipboard information and much more!

Wave Phones

Staterooms for Guests requiring accessibility are on almost every deck (pending availability) and offer larger doorways, emergency call buttons, grab bars throughout the bathroom, fold-down shower seats, adjustable-height shower heads, ramped bathroom thresholds, and fold-down shower seats. Special Equipment is available in the form of stateroom communication kits containing a door knock, phone alerts, bed shaker notification and a strobe light smoke detector. A stateroom Text Typewriter (TTY) is available upon request from Guest Services. Sharps containers are offered in all staterooms for the disposal of syringes, lancets and needles. As well, Sharps containers are conveniently located in all public restrooms.

I always look forward to a sound and fitful nights sleep onboard and I rest so well, no afternoon nap is necessary during my sailing – unless of course your find me snoozing on those heated loungers in the Thalassotherapy Room in the Rainforest Room at Senses Spa & Salon, or on a cushy deck chair soaking in the ocean vistas and balmy breezes up at Satellite Falls

Posted in Disney, Disney Cruise Line, Disney Parks, Disney Social Media, Disney Social Media Moms Celebration, Disney Vacation Club, MagicBands, My Disney Experience, Travel, Vacation Planning, Walt Disney World Resort

The 2018 Disney Social Media Moms Celebration – What An Amazing Experience!

Wow! Just WOW!

I just returned from the 2018 Disney Social Media Moms Celebration that took place at Walt Disney World Resort, staying at the beautiful Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort, followed by a sailing on the third ship in the Disney Cruise Line fleet, the Disney Dream – sister ship to the newest ship, the Disney Fantasy! This, was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that I was grateful for, and will treasure for the rest of my life, because this conference for me, was a unique experience with the thrust of positivity, hard work, learning, collaboration, networking and empowerment. This conference fostered an environment of hope through perseverance and hard work – I have never before been to such a conference, at The Place Where Dreams Come True, and sailing with the cruise line where There’s Something for Everyone so I was completely awestruck!

Check out the fabulous and informative presentations both at Walt Disney World Resort and sailing the beautiful Disney Dream!

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The Disney Social Media Moms Celebration Team and Walt Disney World Special Events, in collaboration with American Tourister proudly befitted all attendees with a beautiful spinner carry-on suitcase and backpack which helped me organize all my essentials. I was an invited participant for which I paid a fee to attend which covered my stay, most meals and Theme Park Tickets at Walt Disney World Resort and on the Disney Dream with Disney Cruise Line. I also received promotional items from sponsors.

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Complimentary motor coach travel from Orlando International Airport was also arranged through Disney’s Magical Express because we were Guests at a select Disney Resort hotel – Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort. This service presents Guests with luggage tags weeks before departure from home, which, when properly affixed on suitcases, luggage will travel directly from the aircraft to the specific Disney Resort hotel (restrictions apply) a few hours after Check-In. This and many more unique and convenient benefits when staying at a select Disney Resort hotel.

Our stay and visit at Walt Disney World Resort was linked to the seamless planning with My Disney Experience online which was beneficial for FastPass+ selections, checking Theme Park Hours, finding Disney Characters, checking for fireworks shows, and much, much more. We were all presented with the convenience of complimentary MagicBands which were also linked to our My Disney Experience accounts, which then unlocked our Disney Resort hotel Guest Room door, contained our Theme Park Ticket information, enabled charging privileges to our Disney Resort hotel Guest Room and surprised many of us with special, magical touches during our visit – this and many more conveniences and benefits to be enjoyed by Guests staying at select Disney Resort hotels!

Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort – themed in Spanish Colonial Mexican, was the perfect venue for a conference of this magnitude, being a conference Resort hotel. It also features a Quick-Service “Pepper Market” on-the-go, dining; Table-Service dining at the popular Nuevo Latino-themed restaurant called, “Maya Grill” and offers 24-hour fitness facilities, as well as a range of spa and beauty services. This Disney Resort hotel is undergoing a massive re-imagination and adding a multi-level accommodation building for Guests to enjoy in the near future.

The 2018 Disney Social Media Welcome Reception for attendees and families was a huge success, in true Disney-fashion, filled with interactive Disney Characters and delicious food. There were many well-organized photo opportunities for Guests of all ages and we even had the Slinky Dog train car on display from the upcoming attraction, Slinky Dog Dash at the upcoming new land – Toy Story Land at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. What great fun that was and a most delightful and welcoming way to kick off the conference! You could feel the energy in the room from over 150 Bloggers and Influencers ready to absorb all they could from The Walt Disney Company representatives and ever so hopeful to build relationships with brands such as GoGo squeeZ, Babybel, Alamo and many more!

Slinky Dog

Day Two saw us all entering the “Valley of Mo’ara”, in the new land, Pandora – The World of Avatar at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park, to enjoy, a bountiful RDA mess hall-style experience breakfast at Satu’li Canteen followed by the freedom to enjoy Avatar Flight of Passage on the back of a mountain banshee and then explore a bioluminescent rainforest in a comfortable reed boat on the Na’vi River Journey – not to mention the free discovery of the vibrant flora and fauna throughout the land.

Definitely visit Pandora -The World of Avatar both during the day and at night, as the experience is completely different each time – a definite must-do, and don’t forget to make your FastPass+ selections, 30 days before your scheduled visit, or 60 days before your Disney Resort hotel check-in date – just remember that you need valid Walt Disney World Resort Theme Park Admission!

In the afternoon, we walked down star-studded streets at Disney’s Hollywood Studios to learn about and see dioramas for Toy Story Land and Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge in the walk-through attraction, Walt Disney Presents, followed by an outstanding gourmet, buffet dinner at PizzeRizzo, sponsored by GoGo squeeZ!

Day Three left us spellbound with an enriching conference presented by many outstanding and dedicated Disney representatives. The session was filled with sage advice for building our social media outlets and how to achieve our dreams. I couldn’t post fast enough. Late afternoon presented us with the opportunity to visit Epcot and Magic Kingdom Park – which we opted to do using the new Minnie Van Service and the complimentary Disney Transportation throughout Walt Disney World Resort.

MinnieVansThe Minnie Van Service photo is courtesy of the Disney Parks Blog.

Day Four was the day we boarded Disney Cruise Line motor coach transportation for our approximate one hour journey to Port Canaveral, to the Disney Cruise Line Terminal to board the third ship in the fleet, the Disney Dream. After fun photo moments with Captain Mickey and receiving our boarding number, we anxiously awaited our call time to board the magnificent ship. After a feast-filled, buffet lunch at “Cabanas”, on the pool deck, attendees were invited to a cruise Welcome Reception – an energy-filled, bubbly event that saw the dance floor a-buzz! After the mandatory Muster Drill, my husband and I took turns for a relaxing full-body massage (we saved money doing this on embarkation day) at Senses Salon & Spa to prepare for the evening ahead. Dinner was at “Enchanted Garden” preceded by The Golden Mickey’s – Broadway-calibre show at the Walt Disney Theatre! This was an outstanding way to end the day for most, but we headed up to deck four to luxuriate and bask in the balmy sea breezes on the comfortable padded deck chairs!

Our Disney Cruise Line, Disney Dream stateroom, was 25% larger than most cruise lines, and afforded us with the convenience of a raised queen-size bed, under which we could store our luggage, freeing up the stateroom from clutter. We enjoyed our industry-first, split bathroom configuration because two people could get ready at the same time. The first bathroom contained a full sink and toilet, and second bathroom contained a full tub/shower and sink – how great is that! We enjoyed a balcony stateroom, but many Guests who opted for an inside stateroom enjoyed a unique feature called, the Magical Porthole, which offers real-time views of the outside and which has many Disney Character surprise moments. All staterooms are fitted with the exclusive, made for Disney Cruise Line bedding by the Frette line of linens and I cannot say enough, how luxurious you feel enveloped in those smooth sheets and plush towels! Toiletries were offered by the high-end H20+ brand including shampoo, conditioner, body lotion, body wash and solar gel, in generous sized bottles. Staterooms are serviced twice-daily and all offer 24 hour Room Service – how’s that for service!

Day Five saw us docked in the port of Bahamas and attendees attended a full morning/early afternoon session with more poignant “Make-A-Wish” never before shared stories by the compassionate, highly emotional presentation by John Breckow recounting Richie’s Story – not a dry eye was to be found in the entire Buena Vista Theatre. This photo is courtesy of The Walt Disney Company and pictured below is Richie and John Breckow.

Richie Story DisneyLater on, the influential and dynamic Ashley Eckstein shared her stories of pursuing her dreams and working hard to attain her goals. This was another part of the conference where people empowered people, fostering positive thoughts to chase your dream, work super hard and never give up!

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The afternoon was filled with family-friendly, informative Junkets and we chose to see the magnificent backdrops, unique cyclorama projection for set changes and costuming for Beauty and the Beast! The afternoon continued with great fun for my son, who enjoyed the “AquaDuck” – the first-ever, water-coaster at sea in tow with his dad, over and over again. You can find an identical AquaDuck experience on the Disney Fantasy for longer, seven day sailings. I snuck off to indulge in a delicious gelato from “Vanellopes Sweets & Treats” and filled my bag with delectable macarons too, which I forgot in my stateroom fridge on the last day!

The Broadway-calibre show of the night was the epic, much talked about “Beauty and the Beast”. We enjoyed our view from the centre seats closes to the sound board (a tip from the sound man during our tour earlier in the day). I cannot say enough how outstanding this show was, with beautiful music, costuming, set changes done ever so effortlessly – truly a marvel at sea. Our second-seating dinner saw us at the lavish “Royal Palace”, filled with touches of regality from all our beloved fairytale, princess Disney stories.

Royal Palace

Day Six brought the sunshine into our stateroom from beautiful Disney Castaway Cay, Disney Cruise Line’s private island in the Bahamas, exclusively for Guests sailing with Disney Cruise Line, on many itineraries. The island offers a Family Beach, Teen Beach and Adult Exclusive Beach called, “Serenity Bay”. All Guests are invited to enjoy a fun, beach barbecue and later relax on complimentary loungers under shady umbrellas, to enjoy views and refreshing swims at the pristine beach. For the adventurous at heart, many Port Adventures are offered which will leave those Guests with many memories for years to come and even keep most coming back. I boarded the ship a bit early to see if I can book what is called a Placeholder towards a future sailing which saves me a lot of money in the long-run, especially for those new Summer 2019 itineraries coming out this week. I’m itching for a another European sailing!

Dinner that last night was greatly enjoyed at the epic Animator’s Palate – featured on all four ships in the fleet. We enjoyed an interactive experience “Undersea Magic” with Crush on the screens surrounding the restaurant, which was decorated in the true style of an animation studio. This is my favourite restaurant, which on the Disney Magic, Disney Wonder and Disney Fantasy Guests can also enjoy the dynamic, “Animation Magic” show, as they become animators themselves and have their sketches come to life on the interactive screens surrounding the restaurant, and “Drawn to Magic” where the evolution of animation unfolds in an entertaining journey right before Guests eyes.

I love my dining experiences sailing with Disney Cruise Line because of the revolutionary, “Rotational Dining” where each night, my personal wait staff rotated with me to one of 3 themed restaurants – what a convenience this was enabling me to share my dietary concerns/preferences only once and all was taken care of for the rest of my sailing. The Sailaway Celebration and Pirates IN the Caribbean Deck Party with the revolutionary, Buccaneer Blast fireworks at sea are just some of the unique activities that keep us coming back, time and time again.

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May I share a secret with you? If you have a sweet tooth and especially love ice-cream, you can order the Mickey Mouse Premium Ice-Cream Bars for dessert in all the dining rooms and through Room Service (subject to change).

The morning brought forth many hugs and poignant farewells from old friends and new ones, as we all branched out to our final destinations with the help of Disney Cruise Line motor coach transportation, some home and some back to Walt Disney World Resort to enjoy more magical moments.

I wish to thank the entire Disney Social Media Moms Celebration Team and Walt Disney World Special Events Team for their tireless efforts, stellar communication and organizational skills in presenting “The Most Magical and Happiest Conference” in 2018 – I was humbled and most grateful for the opportunity to be a part of such a conference and will treasure my experience always and forever!

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