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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Posted in Disney Parks, Walt Disney World

Why Stay at Walt Disney World Resort!

Orlando is home to more than 140,000 hotel rooms of varying themes and budgets including over twenty Disney owned and operated resorts on Walt Disney World Resort, in the Lake Buena Vista area. Having stayed both on and off Walt Disney World Resort I can personally attest to experiences comparing both. There is no doubt that the majority of hotels in the Orlando area may have lower nightly rates and also offer  amenities (free breakfasts for example), but where you might think you’re saving money, you’re actually not, when you factor in the conveniences and amenities offered to guests staying at Walt Disney World Resort.

I’m going to discuss why, but let me back up and explain our situation. We own a Hilton timeshare, with our home resort in Orlando, yet we still opt to book Walt Disney World Resort packages. And if I can’t get in on a Magic Your Way Vacation Package then I book a Disney Vacation villa through my timeshares RCI Exchange resort program. The reason? Magic Your Way Vacation Packages save us a lot of money and secondly, the amenities and conveniences are unparalleled. Our family also includes a special needs teenaged son afflicted with Autism, so we also consider his needs for opting to stay on Disney property as well. We are going become Disney Vacation Club members in the near future, which will make our future vacations with Disney or anywhere around the World for that matter much easier. Here’s more on that: Disney Vacation Club

Where you think you might be saving by staying off property, you’ll be paying for the extras such as car rentals, daily theme park parking fees and your dining. We’ve stayed off Disney property on a few occasions, just a mere minutes away from the ‘main Disney gates’, yet our vacation ended up costing us significantly more money and we were exhausted at the end of the day. When you stay at a hotel off property, you’re more inclined to try to pull those ten plus hour days at the Disney theme parks and it can be exhausting. If staying at a Disney resort hotel, you can easily head back to your resort mid-day to rest, swim or just hang out. Then, in the evening, you can return to the theme parks for more fun all rested and ready to go. Besides, there are too many logistics to consider and plan for when staying off Disney property, we prefer to let Disney take care of us.

Here’s the Disney difference.

Firstly, from the moment your luggage tags arrive at home, two-three weeks before your departure, you don’t have to worry about baggage claim at Orlando International Airport, because Disney’s Magical Express is a complimentary motor coach shuttle service to and from the airport and Walt Disney World Resort. Simply get off your plane and head straight to the Disney Magical Express Check In area and you’ll be whisked off to your Disney resort, where your luggage will appear in your room a few hours later. A car rental is not needed now, unless you opt for one. Even if you bring a car to Walt Disney World property and you’re a Disney resort guest, your parking is complimentary at all four theme parks. How great is that!

Speaking of being a Disney resort guest, transportation to all four theme parks, two water parks and Disney Springs (formerly Downtown Disney) is complimentary. You don’t have to worry about getting around when staying on Disney property or paying for parking and that’s a big money saver right there.

Booking a Walt Disney World Resort package, called the ‘Magic Your Way Package’ is the best way to stretch and optimize your dollar. The packages include your Disney resort hotel, Disney Dining and theme park tickets. Best of all, historically, there have been and currently are offers for discounted Disney resort hotel rooms, free Disney Dining Plans through the Magic Your Way Vacation Packages affording you the option of eating at Walt Disney World Resort’s spectacular dining establishments, which total over 150! What’s more, is that these package vacations always have Walt Disney World Resort Vacation Package Special Offers with seasonal discounts, discounts for Disney theme park ticket Passholders, discounts for members of the U.S. Military and discounts for Disney Visa cardholders. So as you can see, there are savings to be absorbed.

Furthermore, Walt Disney World Resort hotels fit every taste and budget, from the lower priced ‘value resorts’ to the ultra posh ‘deluxe resorts’, click here for more info: Walt Disney World Resort Hotels They even have accommodations for larger families with suite-like rooms, villa style rooms and cabins. Why, you can even camp at Walt Disney World! There is something for everyone, not to mention the incredible theming…unbelievable! Staying at a Disney resort hotel is like a vacation itself!

Once you book, you’ll be guided to link all your vacation details through My Disney Experience which is an amazing planning site allowing you to customize your vacation through  My Magic+ and have full control over every aspect of your vacation. Here, you’ll be able to reserve those favourite, sought after attractions, book your Disney Dining reservations, view reservations, customize your day to day plans, create a family and friends list, and the list goes on and on.

But here’s the biggest convenience. You’re staying and visiting theme parks within the same parameters, so, if you’re tired mid-day, for example, or simply want to head back and swim, you can easily do that and then return in the evening for more fun. I reiterate this amenity because it’s a biggie and I am willing to bet that any dedicated Disney Parks fan will gladly attest to this as well. Also, as a Walt Disney World Resort guest you can have all your purchases sent back to your Disney resort, no lugging stuff around. People who stay off property are pretty tuckered out after a long, break-less day at the parks, because the inclination is to stay at the park all day instead of driving back and forth to their off property resort. Plus, you’re surrounded by Disney magic, twenty-four hours a day and that’s a lot of fun, believe me!

Best of all, because you’re a Disney resort guest, and have booked a Walt Disney World Resort vacation package, you’ll be able to book your FastPass+ sixty days in advance, which is thirty days in advance of those not staying on property. This amenity is complimentary with a Walt Disney World Resort vacation package. Wait, there’s more, as a Disney resort guest you’ll have extended hours at all four theme parks, called Extra Magic Hours allowing you even more fun at the theme parks over those not staying at a Disney resort hotel.

Disney resort guests also receive complimentary MagicBands which are secure, devices that store all your Disney resort hotel information, your Disney Dining Plan, Disney theme park tickets, FastPass+ information and check in at attractions, it connects to Disney’s PhotoPass Service and you can charge food and souvenir charges to your account. All through this little wristband which you can customize and have a lot of fun wearing. Finally, Disney offers resort hotel guests complimentary Wi-Fi access at their hotels and anywhere on Disney property.

How great is that!

So what are you waiting for, click here Walt Disney World Resort Vacation Packages to get started!