Andrew and Disney’s MagicBands

Andrew would never tolerate wearing anything on his wrist in the early days, so when the whole Disney MagicBand system came about I knew I had to do something and not resort to relying on my Theme Park Admission Cards for fear of losing them. Not only that, taking them out of my wallet every time was something I really didn’t need to do. I also didn’t want to exclude him from wearing a MagicBand by carrying his. Andrew needed to learn, so I began with ‘first and then’ using the attraction visuals I could pull up with My Disney Experience mobile app. I would show Andrew the attraction photo paired with the actual MagicBand, because I knew he loved the attraction – thereby he would associate the MagicBand with ‘good things’. From there, I phased in ‘first MagicBand, then attraction’ with an immediate, tangible reinforcer – his ‘in a million pieces Oreo cookie’ from which I would give him a snippet so he wouldn’t be emptying an entire bag of Oreo’s – see where I’m going? Repeated trials? Many. Was it worth it? Yes. He eventually tolerated and wore the MagicBand. Today, he wears two MagicBands, one on each wrist – that’s how much he loves them!

Customizing the MagicBand with his favourite colour certainly helped a great deal, too. Once your Walt Disney World Resort vacation is booked and you’ve linked your Disney Resort hotel reservation to your Disney account, you can begin personalizing your complimentary MagicBand – one of many select Disney Resort hotel Guest benefits.

MagicBands

Photo Credit: The Walt Disney Company – Disney Parks Blog

Disney Parks has also helped us out a great deal with their FastPass+ Service at Walt Disney World Resort because we can book 3 select attractions for each Theme Park, each day, 30-days before our scheduled visit, or, 60-days before our select Disney Resort hotel reservation check-in date. All this is linked to our MagicBands (after we associate our Disney Resort hotel reservation to our Disney account) and managed with My Disney Experience online and through the My Disney Experience mobile app. So now, Andrew can see what his day will look like by viewing our FastPass+ selections, dining reservations, shows and much more, for each day of our visit, which resembles his daily schedule board at home. It’s a perfect ‘first & then’ scenario and Disney got it just right! There are a lot of dedicated folks behind the scenes, doing a lot of research and working really hard.

Then, to make things even better for Andrew – Disney Parks offers Services for Guests with Cognitive Disabilities in efforts to afford all Guests an inclusive and enjoyable experience. A plethora of services are offered with special needs Guests in mind, and if you need any help you can stop by Guest Relations inside any of the four Theme Parks and speak with a Cast Member, who will help you select the service that’s best for you or your family member. This is one of the many reasons we keep coming back – all of these services have assisted and fostered Andrew’s developmental growth over the course of our vacations, bringing him even closer to us and affording him the chance to experience true, sincere happiness.

Andrew is now able to look at all of our FastPass+ selections and direct us to the respective attraction. He is able to approach the FastPass+ queue, wait his turn and tap his MagicBand to the Mickey Touch-Point. He loves it when the light spins green (that’s a totally sensory-driven thing) which gets him all excited and thus reinforcing in itself!

That is HUGE for our family!

For Disney Vacation planning assistance please stop by the Disney Parks Moms Panel where you can ask my fellow dedicated panelists specific questions, or check out some of my answers on the site.

Thank you for visiting  my Blog and remember, “Life IS a Bowl of Cherries”.

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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!

 

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!

 

Basking in the Quieter Areas of the Walt Disney World Resort- Special Needs or Anyone

The excitement and thrills are everywhere at Walt Disney World Resort and sometimes, especially with a special needs family member it’s just nice to sit back and relax at the ‘Most Magical Place on Earth’.

With a comforting snack in tow of course, here are some of my favourite spots to just bask in. You never know who you’ll meet and have a chat with, some of my good friends now are folks who I met just relaxing at these very spots.

The best way to discuss this would be by resorts and theme parks and I will focus on quieter, non-stimulatory areas and attractions. Ones that are calm.

Walt Disney World Resort Hotel Quiet Spots

With twenty-six Disney owned and nine privately owned hotels there are a multitude of spots which are off the beaten path and quiet. Of importance is staying relatively close to the theme park you visit the most, making travel time as short as possible, allowing you to head back to your room and relax if that is all you wish to do. While I can’t go into great detail on every Walt Disney World Resort hotel, I can personally attest to the one’s we’ve indulged in.

Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort and Spa is a beautifully themed resort on the Monorail line within easy reach to Magic Kingdom Park. The vast lobby is relaxing with calming selections from the Grand Floridian Society Orchestra. As well, near the marina you can find a nice spot to sit and watch the Electrical Water Pageant and the Fireworks from Cinderella Castle while enjoying a nice treat from Gasparilla Grill and Games nearby. You can also enjoy the pageant and fireworks from the beach nearby.

Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort is also a Monorail resort and offers beautiful grounds for strolling and relaxing in the shade or at night through the torch lit pathways. The beautiful beach has clear views of Magic Kingdom Park and quite often guests can be found enjoying the Fireworks from Cinderella Castle and the Electrical Water Pageant right on the beach. The lobby here is comfortable, offering many seats and charging stations at almost every side table that has a lamp. Just outside the Polynesian’s Great Ceremonial House is a new amazing snack spot with delicious pineapple dole whips called the Pineapple Lanai with ample seating in a cool, comfortable spot.

Disney’s Wilderness Lodge is a relaxing water taxi ride away from Magic Kingdom Park through Seven Seas Lagoon and Bay Lake where you’ll be transported right into a re-creation of America’s Great Northwest! The nature trails take you through mature pine forests and guest areas that are quiet and relaxing. The grand lobby of Disney’s Wilderness Lodge will captivate you with its massive themed Totem Poles and interesting fireplace, definitely a great place to relax and unwind.

Disney’s BoardWalk Inn is a resort you could easily spend an entire vacation at. This waterfront hotel places you right in the middle of Atlantic City at the turn of the century. It’s connected to Disney’s BoardWalk Villas and across the way on Crescent Lake sits Disney’s Beach Club and Disney’s Yacht Club Resorts. The BoardWalk Inn and Villas are flanked by two theme parks, Epcot and Disney’s Hollywood Studios, easily reached on foot or by Friendship Boat.

Stroll on the massive Coney Island themed promenade, enjoy the dining and carnival games and entertainment or just sit back on one of the benches and watch IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth fireworks celebrating the spirit of humanity from Epcot nearby.

Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge, close to Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park will stun you with its’ authentic representation of the African kraal, the true ‘village’ enclosure in a horseshoe curved layout. This allows the most spectacular views of the real savannas on the property boasting over 200 animals. The lobby alone has real African artwork, the largest collection outside Africa, and ample seating in a most relaxing environment.

Walt Disney World Resort Theme Parks

Magic Kingdom Park boasts six differently themed lands, each with little pockets of quietude.

At the Walt Disney World Railroad, at the top level platform, near the train entrance, is a covered viewing area with seating. It’s quiet, yet provides spectacular views of Main Street U.S.A. and Cinderella Castle.

East Center Street, just off Main Street U.S.A. is a small, quaint street tucked away with some seating and faint sounds of music and dance lessons from above.

The covered pathway dotted with benches and a water fountain leading to the Baby Care Centre and First Aid Station is a nice quiet little spot to have a quiet moment in the shade.

The Tomorrowland Terrace Restaurant, opens on a seasonal basis yet has a breezy, covered seating area with clear views of Cinderella Castle. It is also beside the restrooms and a water fountain.

Catch a ride over to Tom Sawyer Island and enjoy some shady peace while rocking your cares away.

Directly behind Memento Mori is a shady spot with seating, near the restrooms, offering a quieter spot to relax and people watch.

Calming and relaxing attractions at Magic Kingdom are: Walt Disney’s Enchanted Tiki Room, Jungle Cruise,  The Hall of Presidents,it’s a small world, Tomorrowland Transit Authority PeopleMover and Walt Disney’s Carousel of Progress

Disney’s Hollywood Studios buzzes with the excitement and glamour of Hollywood’s Golden Age and Star Wars thrills and chills, yet offers many pockets of quietude and comfort.

Right in front of The Hollywood Brown Derby there is ample shade and bench seating.

The Studio Catering Company is a quick service eatery with ample covered areas with seats and overhead fans.

The Backlot Express is a breezy, shaded seating area at the threshold of the parades, yet it’s mostly quiet before and after the parades. Enjoying an ice-cream here is refreshing.

We get the best slushies and head over to the serene Echo Lake, an expansive, bi-level, paved area with shade and benches. It’s quiet yet not away from favourite attractions or dining spots.

Calmer attractions at Disney’s Hollywood Studios are: Beauty and Beast-Live on Stage, The Magic of Disney Animation, Voyage of The Little Mermaid and Walt Disney One Man’s Dream.

Epcot is massive, two incredible sections called Future World and World Showcase. Future World features innovations and thrilling attractions whereas the World Showcase houses eleven authentically famous country pavilions.

Great rest spots in Future World are at Electric Umbrella which is a quick service eatery but has ample indoor and covered outdoor seating, neat restrooms. It’s a comfortable spot but can get busy, also a great place to work on boarding and getting off escalators and where my son mastered this behaviour appropriately.

Not far from the Electric Umbrella, is FountainView where you can grab a ice cold drink from Starbucks or Club Cool and then sit out by the wall ledge, which is sheltered and relax while watching the dancing fountain show, every fifteen minutes, at the Fountain of Nations.

We like to hang out near Showcase Plaza quite often while enjoying a coffee and at night if you time it right about a half hour before IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth you can have a perfect view while sitting down.

Head over to Canada Pavilion and enjoy and rest at the recreation of Vancouver’s Butchart Gardens, shady comfortable areas provide a welcome reprieve.

My favourite spot, the United Kingdom Pavilion has in my opinion many quiet, shady and quaint areas before or after any concerts, especially at the back near the performance gazebo where the British Revolution performs. As well, you can stroll through the shady, quiet footpaths nearby.

Over at the The American Adventure Pavilion behind Fife and Drum and Liberty Inn there is shaded outdoor seating which is quiet and relaxing. The funnel cakes here are delicious.

Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park  is the largest theme park at Walt Disney World Resort and one of the largest animal theme parks in the world. Carrying forth Walt Disney’s commitment and love for animals, their research and care, guests have the opportunity to explore 6 lands holding more than 1,700 animals.

Over in Dinoland you can find many footpaths lined with benches in shady areas to sit and relax and especially in front of the Dinosaur attraction there are little spots with seats affording folks a chance to relax.

 

The Wildlife Express Train is an opportunity to view some animals and enjoy the breezes on the open air train.

The Pangani Forest Exploration Trail is a relaxing, yet interesting and informative foot path with many animal encounters along the way.

Kilimanjaro Safaris is a way to relax on an open air vehicle, a bit jerky at times, but a great way to see the larger animals in their habitats, try the soothing Nocturnal Adventure for a completely different experience.

Flights of Wonder is a great short show displaying exotic birds in an educational way and is in a relaxing environment.