Posted in Disney, Disney Cruise Line, Disney Parks, Disney Social Media, Disney Social Media Moms Celebration, Disney Vacation Club, Uncategorized, Walt Disney World

The Presentations at the 2018 Disney Social Media Moms Celebration.

The 2018 Disney Social Media Moms Celebration at Walt Disney World Resort staying at the popular conference Resort hotel, Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort and with Disney Cruise Line, sailing the third ship in the fleet, the Disney Dream, was a huge success. This conference provided a massive learning, collaborative and networking opportunity for all attendees, empowering them with the motivation and tools needed to create meaningful content to grow their following.

At Walt Disney World Resort, while staying at Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort, presentations in the spectacular Conference Halls were presented, after a warm welcome by George Kalogridis- Walt Disney World Resort President;  Leanne Jakubowski O’Regan- Director, Communications and Public Relations, Walt Disney World Resort and Mark Daniel – Social Media Host, Disney Parks & Resorts.

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Bob Chapek, Chairman, Walt Disney Parks & Resorts, oversees The Walt Disney Company’s travel and leisure businesses including Disney Cruise Line, Disney Vacation Club, six resort destinations in the United States, Asia and Europe. Mr. Chapek provides successful leadership over 145,000 Cast Members, Crew Members and Imagineers who help to create magical Disney Destinations vacations for millions of Guests every year.

Photo below courtesy of Lisa Arneill, founder of GrowingYourBaby.com, World Traveled Family and TheWorldWeShare.com.

Bob Chapek Lisa Arneill

 

Mr. Chapek emphasizes that each Disney vacation affords Guests unique and immersive experiences, bringing families together to enjoy fun for all creating the feeling that sets Disney vacations apart from anything else. The magical memories created on each Disney Vacation affords Guests a true Disney experience.

 

Minnie Vans

Walt Disney World Resort recently introduced another new mode of stylish, private transportation Resort-wide and it was so popular that Disney decided to double the fleet number of the Minnie Van service.

The Minnie Vans are driven by Cast Members and can be ordered using a mobile device, currently with the Lyft app from many Disney Resort hotels, all four Walt Disney World Resort Theme and Water Parks and from Disney Springs and the service transports Guests throughout Walt Disney World Resort for a fee. The majority of the vans can accommodate 6 Guests and standard vans offer up to two car seats with front and rear facing capabilities. The service offers accessible vans which can accommodate up to 4 Guests. For more information, please contact the Minnie Van Service at (407) 828-3500.

“Since we’re all about exceeding guest expectations and making every aspect of your vacation uniquely Disney, we’re creating a new point-to-point transportation service in a way that only Disney can do.” –Bob Iger

Photo below of the Minnie Van vehicles is courtesy of the Disney Parks Blog.

MinnieVans

Disney Skyliner

Yet another unique mode of transportation featuring Disney Characters in true gondola style is coming to Walt Disney World Resort – the Disney Skyliner which will add more magic and convenience to a Guest’s vacation by affording them a birds-eye view of the pixie-dusted land connecting Disney’s Art of Animation, Disney’s Caribbean Beach, Disney’s Pop Century Resorts and some other Resort locations with Disney’s Hollywood Studios and Epcot’s International Gateway.

Photo below courtesy of Disney Parks Blog.

RH5_4678

Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway

“It was all started by a mouse.” Walt Disney

Mickey Mouse’s big-screen debut in “Steamboat Willie” took place on November 18, 1928. At the D23 Expo Japan, and during the Disney Social Media Moms Celebration, Bob Chapek, Chairman of Walt Disney Parks & Resorts, announced that in honour of Mickey Mouse’s 90th year, there will be worldwide celebrations. Mickey’s first attraction, Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway will be at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, Walt Disney World Resort!

On this new attraction, Guests will enjoy a catchy theme song along with a new “2 1/2-D” experience requiring no glasses as they head out initially driving alongside a train conducted by engineer Goofy and in a magical moment Guests are immersed into the movie, riding in Goofy’s train for a wild and wacky experience as stars in the unpredictable world of a Mickey Mouse Cartoon Short.

Photo below courtesy of Disney Parks Blog.

Runaway Railway WDW

Hong Kong Disneyland

There is great excitement in the air for the  expansion at Hong Kong Disneyland through 2023! Get ready for themed attractions bringing Disney Characters and stories to life, entertainment and attractions that will immerse Guests in Disney experiences like no other. Guests will be transported to the kingdom of Arendelle, with a new, “Frozen”-themed area bringing Characters to life, ample opportunities for shopping and dining.

Moana fans will revel in a new entertainment area, an “Adventureland Show Place,” inviting Guests to “Moana’s Village Festival” featuring a lively stage show and interactive entertainment environment.

Photo below courtesy of The Walt Disney Company.

Hong-Kong-Disneyland-Moana

Marvel-themed areas will captivate Guests with thrilling attractions and entertainment and will continue to grow as Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters will be reimagined into a new experience allowing Guests to fight alongside the icons of the Marvel Universe. As well, a captivating and thrilling attraction themed after one of Marvel’s most popular franchises will be added to expand the epicentre of Marvel Super Heroes.

Photo below courtesy of The Walt Disney Company.

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Sleeping Beauty Castle will be transformed to showcase the new daytime and nighttime spectacular entertainment that will highlight every princess and prince who dared to follow a dream and wish upon a star.

Photo below courtesy of The Walt Disney Company.

Hong Kong Disneyland

 

Star Wars News

A new Star Wars-themed hotel is coming to Walt Disney World Resort and it will be seamlessly connected to Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge – the upcoming Star Wars-themed land at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. This uniquely themed Resort hotel will immerse Guests in the Star Wars experience as they board a starship for their galactic adventure while they enjoy outer space views from their Resort hotel Guest Room – stay tuned for an opening date by the Disney Parks Blog.

 

Star Wars Hotel

The outstanding Star Wars-themed land, Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge will blast into both Disneyland Park and as an extension to Star Tours at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, Walt Disney World Resort. This new land will offer Guests opportunities to fly the Millennium Falcon, they’ll find themselves inside a Star Destroyer for the battle between the Resistance and the First Order and many other epic galactic experiences. This amazing land is set to open in 2019.

Disneyland Paris

There will be a multi-year expansion for Disneyland Paris which will include a transformation of Walt Disney Studios Park with three new areas building on Marvel, Frozen and Star Wars live entertainment and attractions. This will prove to be one of the most ambitious projects since the Theme Park opened in 1992.

Disneyland Paris is re-imagining one of their Resort hotels into Disney’s Hotel New York – The Art of Marvel, set to open within 2020, which will be designed to reflect the world of Super Heroes such as The Avengers, Spider Man and Iron Man in the style of a contemporary art gallery. Only Disney Imagineers will be successful in affording Guests an immersed experience in the Marvel universe.

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Disneyland Resort in California

Pixar Fest” begins on April 13, 2018 at both Disneyland Park and Disney California Adventure Park  with a first-ever celebration of friendship and beyond which will feature an all-new fireworks spectacular and the return of the beloved “Paint the Night” parade and Pixar Play Parade.

Photo below courtesy of The Walt Disney Company.

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California Adventure Park’s Paradise Pier will become “Pixar Pier”, which will feature the highly anticipated, Incredicoaster, themed after “The Incredibles”.

The-Incredicoaster-2

Disney California Adventure Park will expand the Food & Wine Festival to a glorious six weeks this year and will feature more activities and experiences for Guests to enjoy the delights of the Golden State with more than a dozen Festival Marketplaces offering demonstrations, presentations and the opportunity to enjoy California-inspired sips and samples, entertainment and live music.

Photo below courtesy of The Walt Disney Company.

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David Roark – Manager at Creative Photography

David Roark offered many creative tips and useful advice for creating images that are effective in carrying out a message. Capturing the perfect setting and ensuring background sound levels are optimal which will foster success with both video and photography. The perfect location and time of day is critical for photography at any Disney Destination. Disney photographers utilize many composites and photoshop techniques to optimize their photo messages. Capturing a more spontaneous moment that evokes a feeling is effective and powerful, rather than a stiff, posed, manipulated image, because people will readily identify with the feeling evoked. The mid- 80’s saw the emergence of World-wide Disney visuals which became more prominent.

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Terry Cox, Manager, Search Engine Marketing

Terry Cox “joined Disney 13 years ago as the first Cast Member dedicated to paid search advertising and search engine optimization at The Walt Disney Company” and is currently the head of search marketing for Disney Destinations. Terry and his team strive to maximize Disney’s presence in online search results and stressed the validity of adding proper links where necessary to facilitate this goal and discussed strategies to incorporate in a Blog post, such as:

  • Classify -for the phrases consumers are looking for (keywords). Write an individual post for each announcement (classify).
  • Weight -add links pointed to that piece of content (votes of confidence) to build a website…and quality.
  • Utility –Google determines results how fast your pages load …create security with “https”. Use the “H1” tag which is critical informing Google that title has emphasis.
  • Image -optimization is key – make sure the image is a good size and is named.

Terry Cox shared a powerful and timeless quote: “You don’t build the social media content for yourself. You know what the people want and you build it for them.” Walt Disney

Amy Stanford, Sr. Editor, Babble

Real parents can share real moments that help you think, help you learn, and help you laugh. Babble is geared to Millennial parents.

Taking content to next level to build growth by:

  • Selecting four core words such as: be real, be authentic, be inclusive, be stimulating to form a connection.
  • Create a mood board of images that visually represent your brand.
  • Which platforms are you willing to invest in?
  • Incorporate Podcasts which are popular.
  • Pick a social media platform and do it well.
  • Find out where your audience is most engaged (which social media platform).
  • Think beyond the blog post.
  • Remember that the content must be social first and be mobile friendly.
  • Built for the feed and be engaging.
  • Create microcontent > shareables, GIFs, Memevids, Infographics, Pinnable Images.
  • Stay informed and be up to date.
  • Be flexible because this keeps you constant.
  • Develop partnerships to create new content and grow readership like Babble, consider partnering with Babble.
  • Take a look at the content from @aspiringkennedy on Instagram, which is good example.

How to Pitch?

  • Write a concise, stream-lined concept.
  • Proofread.
  • Learn from feedback as it has a strong message.

 

Vera Sweeney:  Lady and the Blog (Alamo) The Importance of Family Travel

Vera Sweeney grew up with the love of travel, adventure and exploration, who founded, “Lady and the Blog.” She is constantly on the search for new content, upcoming trends and her Blog covers a wide range of topics such as beauty, fashion, recipes, travel tips and personal notes. Her Blog, “Lady and the Blog” has been featured on Oprah’s O Magazine, The Today Show and Rachael Ray Magazine. She stresses that travel with children is a must and to simply adjust, fine-tune and lower expectations during travel. Focus on the more spontaneous, simple moments in your photography and don’t stage, focus on engagement.

 

Kristin Burr, Producer “Christopher Robin”

What an extreme pleasure it was to see and hear from Kristin Burr, a producer with Burr! Productions, a film production company based at Walt Disney Studios in Burbank. Her current project includes the live-action adventure “Christopher Robin”. We had the pleasure of hearing about the production, captivating characters and set design for this adorable, soon-to-be-loved film.

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Sharon Siskie – Senior Vice President of Commercial Stategy

Sharon Siskie leads marketing and sales for high-growth businesses with Disney Parks & Resorts and supports Disney Vacation Club, Adventures by Disney, Aulani, A Disney Resort & Spa and Disney Cruise Line.

Disney Vacation Club just opened the newest magical Resort at Copper Creek Villas & Cabins at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge, and is looking forward to the upcoming, Disney’s Riviera Resort which will be adjacent to Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort, will offer its own dining –including a rooftop restaurant offering spectacular views of the nighttime shows at Disney’s Hollywood Studios and Epcot, and recreation experiences. The new Disney Skyliner transportation service will have a stop at Disney’s Riviera Resort which will transport Guests faster access to Disney’s Hollywood Studios and Epcot.

Photos below of Disney’s Copper Creek Villas & Cabins and artistic rendering of Disney’s Riviera Resort respectively, courtesy of The Walt Disney Company.

Adventures by Disney

Adventures by Disney has had great success with the variety of destinations and will be adding new adventures, such as Berlin to the German itinerary. They’ll be adding “Short Escapes” to both Spain and Denmark, Costa Rica, Iceland and River Cruise experiences in partnership with AMA Waterways, along the Rhine River.

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Aulani, A Disney Resort & Spa – a most family-friendly resort, continues to immerse Guests in the Hawaiian culture where they can begin their legend as they relax and enjoy their adventures on Ko Olina Beach.

Photo below courtesy of The Walt Disney Company.

Aulani

Disney Cruise Line will continue with more enchantment at sea with three new ships on the horizon, seeing the fleet nearly double by 2023, taking Guests to incredible destinations around the World. All three new ships will be constructed at Meyer Werft shipyard in Germany with scheduled completion in 2021, 2022 and 2023. The three ships will offer their own unique experiences, they will be powered by clean-burning liquefied natural gas and they will all be the same size, 135,000 gross tons and offer 1,250 staterooms. As well, itineraries for the summer of 2019 will be released in early March 2018.

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Tom Warburton- Producer, “Muppet Babies”

Best known for “Codename: Kids Next Door”, “Doug,” “Schoolhouse Rock!,” Disney’s “Pepper Ann,” ”Fish Hooks” and “The 7D,” Tom Warburton was excited about discussing the reimagined animated series, “Muppet Babies” geared for an audience aged 4 to 7, that will air on Disney Junior in March 2018.

The show will follow the hilarious playroom antics and will retain younger incarnations of our beloved, classic Muppet friends – Baby Kermit, Baby Fozzie Bear, Baby Piggy, Baby Gonzo and Baby Animal and will see the return of “Miss Nanny”. A new, adorable character will come forth, by the name of Summer Penguin.

Photo courtesy of The Walt Disney Company.

Muppet Babies

 

John Breckow- Director of Corporate Citizenship for Walt Disney Parks & Resorts.

A most poignant and heartfelt session was presented by John Breckow, who oversees the philanthropic efforts throughout the Disney Parks worldwide. A touching wishes story about a special man named Richie was shared leaving no dry eye in the conference hall. The Walt Disney Company has a huge heart and was there to help with disaster relief by bring aid and hope to the people affected by this devastation. The Walt Disney Company has granted over 120,000 wishes to children and families.

Photo below of Richie and John Breckow, courtesy of The Walt Disney Company.

Richie Story Disney

 

Ashley Eckstein, Founder of Her Universe

A dynamic and inspirational session was presented by Ashley Eckstein known to Star Wars fans as the voice of Ahsoka Tano on “Star Wars: The Clone Wars and Star Wars Rebels. Ashley highlighted her life’s milestones with overcoming hardship, pursuing and achieving her dreams with her evolutionary Fangirl fashion. Her Universe is a licensee for Disney/Star Wars and Marvel, BBC/Doctor Who, CBS/Star Trek, Studio Ghibli and many other properties.

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Bob Hitchcock, Editorial Content Director.

Bob Hitchcock offered sage advice for projecting effective content with:

  • Try to make a connection by featuring emotional content to create a bond, such as touching people’s hearts, making them laugh and motivating them.
  • Video is popular – statistics demonstrate that there are more than five million viewers per day and more than 60-70% of the video content is viewed on a mobile device.
  • Try to engage your audience with emotionally based stories.
  • Find your act and build it. Determine what emotion you wish to evoke and determine what message you wish to send out there.
  • Incorporate a character to be a part of your message and find a location to create authenticity.
  • Create fun, bite-sized content.

I am truly grateful for the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to attend the 2018 Disney Social Media Moms Celebration because I came away equipped with tools, techniques, many new passionate friends and a renewed sense of hope to help grow my social media platforms.

Thank you!

 

 

Posted in Autism, Disney, Disney Cruise Line, Disney Social Media, Disney Social Media Moms Celebration, Europe, Special Needs, Uncategorized, Walt Disney World

2018 Disney Social Media Moms Celebration

Have you ever heard of the Disney Parks Blog? Did you know that you can follow any official (and I take ‘official’ seriously because there’s merit to that word) Disney news and information by connecting with Disney Parks on Social Media? These social media outlets are where you will read about factual information so you can form your own opinion based on your personal needs and likes. Many enthusiastic contributors through many hours of dedication, create entertaining and pleasingly informative posts filled with news and photos that bring ‘happy’ news straight to you.

Through these social media platforms be prepared to connect and hear all about what’s new, what’s re-imagined and what’s on the horizon from the colourful palette steered by The Walt Disney Company at the 2018 Disney Social Media Moms Celebration – from what I feel is the ‘most Magical & Happiest’ conference this year! This conference will take place at Walt Disney World Resort placing paying attendees at Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort – (which itself is undergoing a massive re-imagination, so stay tuned), followed by a sailing on the third ship in the Disney Cruise Line fleet, the Disney Dream.

For all official announcements during this conference, please follow the handle @DisneyMoms with Hashtag #DisneySMMC on Twitter; the official Disney Parks Blog website; their Facebook Page – Disney Parks Blog; their Instagram page – @DisneyParksBlog; the Disney Parks and Resorts page using their Twitter handle- @DisneyParks.

I will be sharing official news during my attendance, as well as posting, at times, my personal experience (not opinions) as a parent travelling with a special needs teenage son, mostly in part to help other people in my similar situation understand the value and benefits of vacationing at the Disney Parks, Resorts and Destinations, so that, hopefully, one day soon, they too, may experience life-changing moments at “The Most Magical Place on Earth” at Walt Disney World Resort, “The Happiest Place on Earth” at Disneyland Resort, or where, “There’s Something for Everyone” sailing with Disney Cruise Line.

Those that have followed me on social media, know that for years, I have been diligently and consistently sharing the Disney brand throughout all my social media outlets, multiple times daily (not only when I believe it will benefit me) but because I have a passion for this brand and all that it has done to positively impact my family, especially my son. Testament to this, is that we’ve visited both Disneyland Resort and Walt Disney World Resort a combined 45 times, sailed with Disney Cruise Line 12 times on all four ships in the fleet, including a Mediterranean sailing, toured The Walt Disney Studios in Burbank California and have visited Aulani, A Disney Resort & Spa in Ko Olina, Hawai’i all since 1998. We definitely love experiencing “The Disney Difference”!

Thank you and get ready for the “Most Magical & Happiest News on Earth” with the 2018 Disney Social Media Moms Celebration!

 

 

Posted in Disney Cruise Line

Disney Cruise Line’s Disney Dream Will Enhance Guest Experiences

Disney Cruise Line announced very exciting news today about the third ship in the fleet, the Disney Dream! When the ship goes into dry dock this October, many new appointments will be added.

Youth Clubs- Disney’s Oceaneer Club

(Star Wars: Millenium Falcon)

A newly themed area will appear in Disney’s Oceaneer Club with a Star Wars theme. The area will be called, Star Wars: Millennium Falcon which draws inspiration from the popular spacecraft from the legendary Star Wars saga. The spaceship will offer areas where children can partake in galactic activities, including crafts and games. Children will have the opportunity to watch “Star Wars Rebels”, the new Disney  animated series. The Jedi Training Academy will also be offered onboard for young Jedi hopefuls called Padawans. They’ll learn lightsaber moves with missions to face off with Darth Vader.

Photo Credit: Disney Cruise Line/ Disney Parks Blog

Star Wars Disney Dream

(Disney Infinity Toy Box)

Disney’s Oceaneer Lab will also offer Disney Infinity Toy Box, an interactive space where children can experience virtual games which are customized. Characters from Disney stories will spring to life. Children that sail on the Disney Dream will be able to continue to play their exclusive Disney Cruise Line content once backat home.

Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique

The huge popularity of this boutique at Walt Disney World Resort and on the Disney Fantasy is making its way to the Disney Dream. It will be located on Deck 5, midship and will offer pixie-dusted makeovers by Fairy Godmother’s in training. On the special Pirate Party Night days, the boutique will transform into The Pirates League transforming little guests into pirates.

Photo Credit: Disney Cruise Line/ Disney Parks Blog

Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique

Vanellope’s Sweets & Treats

Get ready to enjoy tons of ice-cream and gelato, candy and goodies at Vanellope’s Sweets & Treats. The area takes theming from the popular game Sugar Rush in “Wreck-It Ralph”. The store will have two entrances through Cabanas and the pool deck.

Photo Credit: Disney Cruise Line/ Disney Parks Blog

Vanellope's Treats

Satellite Falls

The adult exclusive Satellite Falls on Deck 13, Forward will feature the ever popular water features found on the Disney Fantasy Satellite Falls, such as a splash pool, a falling rain curtain, loungers and shady areas.

I love back to back cruises and love the newer ships, Disney Dream and Disney Fantasy, so for us, I see a couple of back to back cruises on the Disney Dream. Booked far enough in advance, I’ll be able to secure the same stateroom making life convenient in between sailings. Staying in the same stateroom will save me from packing in between cruises.

Photo Credit: WDWLuxuryGuide

Satellite Falls

Best of all, I can book three cruises, one right after the other and really extend my sailing making for many blissful days at sea.

Can you guess where I’ll head before and after my cruises?

Thank you.

Posted in Uncategorized

Saving Money Sailing Disney Cruise Line

We’ve been visitors to the Disney Parks since 1998 and will never stop going. Raising an autistic teen who loves Disney is a powerful force in our lives that gets us to the Disney Parks without question. Our very first cruise with Disney was back in August of 2005, a land and sea which we figured was a smart way to visit Walt Disney World and sail on the Disney Wonder. We were right! I of course tacked on more land days at our Disney resort before and after the cruise making it a nice land/sea/land….it was fabulous. Since then, we’ve completed ten cruises and are proud Platinum Castaway Club members with the eleventh cruise sailing Star Wars Day at Sea in the near future. The highlight of our Disney Cruises was our recent Mediterranean voyage. Most importantly, we’ve sailed all four ships in the fleet and love every one of them.

I would like to share my tips for saving some money, because the cruises, believe it or not cost as much as a typical Disney Parks vacation and in some cases much less.

Book Early

Booking as far out as possible, will give you lower rates, a much better choice of dates and itineraries and a greater chance at scoring the stateroom you like. Disney Cruise Line offers rates as far out as a year and a half out, posted on their user friendly and incredibly fun website. There are many different categories of staterooms all offering Disney’s superior service and all at different price points.

Book Late

Typically seventy-five days before sailing, and sometimes as late as twenty-one days before sailing, Disney will post ‘Restricted Guarantee Rates’, which are very similar to the earliest booking rates. What happens with these rates is this:
-you select the category, not the location
-IGT are the inside staterooms
-OGT are the oceanview staterooms
-VGT are the verandah staterooms
-full cost of cruise must be paid upon booking
-all people in the party must be booked at the same time, with no changes

Roughly thirty days before sailing and even up to two weeks before, Disney will assign you your stateroom.

Rebooking While Sailing

Another way to save is rebooking while sailing on your current cruise. You can do this at the Future Cruise Bookings Desk, mid-ship, deck four near the Vista Café, Excursions Desk and the Disney Vacation Club Kiosk. The benefits of doing this is that you receive a 10% discount for up to two sailings, a shipboard credit ($100 for cruises 3-6 days in length and $200 for cruises 7 days or longer). You also have the luxury of booking a ‘dummy’ cruise to which you can figure out the exact dates once at home and then book it by calling Disney Cruise Line.

Re-shop While Onboard

If you have previously booked a cruise with Disney, you can re-shop this cruise when sailing again. Visit the Future Cruise Bookings Desk and speak to the Cast Member who will rebook that cruise for a better rate. This is not guaranteed, but very well worth looking into.

Special Offers on the Disney Cruise Line Website

Disney Cruise Line offers many special offers throughout the year. The many special offers that I have seen are when children sail for free, discounted percentage offers, special offers for select ports. Disney also offers Special Military Rates and Florida Resident rates. Those are always very favorable and worth looking into.

Book a Back to Back Cruise

Some of the ships offer shorter cruises at great rates. What I’ve done in the past is put two cruises, on the same ship, back to back. I’ve booked a three night cruise followed by a four night cruise giving me a longer sailing at a very good price. If you book far enough ahead, you’ll even be able to book the same stateroom and when one cruise is finished you won’t have to pack. At the end of the first cruise, simply disembark (be sure to bring your travel documents and identification) and the Cast Members will direct you accordingly. What often happens is that you pass through U.S. Customs and then are directed back into the cruise terminal. There you’ll wait for a bit and then you’ll be allowed to re-board. Sometimes your stateroom host will let you back into your stateroom to rest and I usually take this time to do laundry, when there are virtually no passengers onboard. I also take this time to take photographs and it really feels as if the ship is all yours. It’s neat.

Discussion Board and Podcast Cruises

Many social media discussion boards and podcasts will host special cruises, where they have blocked out a certain number of rooms at a discounted offer. Not only will you get to meet your friends but you’ll sail at a great rate!

Expedia and Travelocity

Sometimes, at about six months before sailing I have seen discounted rates through these sites. Very well looking into.

Costco Travel

Check with Costco Travel which could save you money and earn dollars towards Costco purchases or membership.

Disney Visa

Banking your Disney Visa points can go towards future cruises. Disney Visa will also offer a $50 onboard booking credit as well as some special offers.

Lower Category Staterooms

All staterooms with Disney Cruise Line are luxurious and all have the same stellar service. They do come in various categories such as inside staterooms, ocean view staterooms, verandah staterooms and concierge level staterooms and are priced accordingly. The lower category staterooms are the inside and ocean view. Many inside stateroom aboard the Disney Dream and Disney Fantasy offer the ‘Magical Porthole’ windows, offering real time feed from the exterior of the ship, making you feel as if you’re in an ocean view stateroom.

Lower Rate Times of the Year

Cruise prices are historically lower during:
-last week of August into September
-October
-first half of December
-January
-April

Do not be intimidated by booking on your own through the Disney Cruise Line website. It’s very easy to navigate and a lot of fun. Through the Planning Center you are prompted to book excursions, special dining, spa treatments and the like. You’ll get notification when to do what. You can even pay down your cruise a little at a time. They guide you through the process step by step and it’s very easy.

Posted in Disney Cruise Line, Europe, Special Needs

Sailing the Mediterranean with Disney Cruise Line

For years and years I dreamed about exploring the historic sites of Europe. As an art history minor in university, I had written countless essays on architectural and artistic genres, I had identified slide upon slide of famous sculptures and paintings, and I knew I could navigate my way through these incredible places from all the readings I had done.

Europe had to wait, however, our son was unable to make the lengthy overseas trip, let alone be expected to stand around the countless museums and fully appreciate what he was looking at. What he could do, to his immense pleasure, was to visit Walt Disney World Resort, Disneyland Resort and sail with Disney Cruise Line.

We’ve sailed ten cruises on all four ships in the fleet, with the great majority of those sailings including itineraries of seven days or longer. These cruises laid the groundwork for my son and helped him acclimate to vacationing because there were many rewards all around him. It was on these cruises that we saw huge developmental improvements, there was motivation everywhere. I could use my ‘first and then’ routine and get him to do just about anything. After all, who wouldn’t want to finish their dinner to go and greet Mickey Mouse, or play in the full scale version of Andy’s Room from the hit movie ‘Toy Story’, after many attempts at minor social behaviour training sessions while sailing. Reinforcement was instant and anything we attempted to teach our son was a hit.

Without fully realizing it, vacationing with Disney Cruise Line and the Disney Parks had laid the foundations for expanding our horizons beyond and had prepared us to embark on new adventures.

We decided to sail with Disney, on our first ever, family trip to the Mediterranean, with stops at our ancestral homeland of Greece. We were beyond excited! We selected the nine day Disney Cruise Line itinerary aboard the re-imagined Disney Magic, in our regular mid-ship verandah stateroom. Sailing the Mediterranean with Disney Cruise Line meant peace of mind and stellar standards. We would know exactly what to expect each and every day. We would be sleeping in the same bed every night which would afford my son consistency and no transitioning issues, which can make or break a vacation. So, I began to plan the port adventures in the Mediterranean with ease right through Disney Cruise Line’s online Planning Center. I selected a port adventure at every single port and all were almost day long excursions with outstanding and well planned itineraries.

Our adventure began in Venice, Italy where we decided to spend a few days before the cruise in order to visit various historical places. I booked a private tour company for these days and although the tours were extensive and detailed, they were exhausting, demanding and proper breaks were not included, you kept going all day long. I tried my best to keep up with the groups all the while attempting to keep my son comfortable, well-behaved and happy. That was difficult for me.

Andrew Venice

I secretly couldn’t wait to board the Disney Magic and was excited when our Saturday came along and we boarded our motor coach for the ride to the port. The port, owned of course by the port of Venice didn’t look anything like the one in Port Canaveral, but Disney Cruise Line made many successful attempts to make it look and feel like the one in Port Canaveral, with colourful Captain Mickey banners, booths and cast members wearing the familiar outfits and big, white Mickey Mouse hands waving away. Boarding process and screening was similar, but we had to walk outside, alongside the ship towards a make-shift building with huge elevators and a stairwell in order to reach deck three and board the ship.

DCL Venice Port    DCL Venice Gangway

Once inside, it was as if a huge burden was lifted off my shoulders because we were home and all would be well. My son even lead the way to our stateroom and helped me decorate our stateroom door. Things were back to normal now, we were on the Disney Magic.

Jackie Selfie with Helmsman Mickey      DCL Venice Stateroom Door

Right away normalcy dominated because we knew the ship well, and knew what to expect at every turn. It truly was just like being at home, with a whole lot of fun everywhere you looked.

The first port of Katakolon, Greece, took us to ancient Olympia and here, my son had the unique opportunity to stand on the actual marble starting point in preparation for his sprint through the length of the stadium. In Pireus, we were taken to the Panathenaic Stadium, Athens Acropolis, Plaka and the Athens Museum. We visited Kusadasi, Turkey and went through an extensive tour of the last known House of the Virgin Mary, saw the magnificent ruins of Ephesus, followed by an outstanding lunch at a replicated version of ancient Ephesus. The Lindos Acropolis fascinated my son and we tried to get him on a donkey but he felt too shy. Old Town Rhodes was breathtaking and we always caught a brief glance of the beautiful Disney Magic, which dominated the sea and land. The windmills in Mykonos captivated my son because they were enormous and he’d never seen anything like that before. Upon our return for two glorious days in Venice, in the luxury of the Disney Magic, there was nothing better than looking out of your verandah and seeing St. Mark’s Square a stone’s throw away. Andrew at that point said, “Epcot.” Imagine that! He made the connection and I was so grateful.

Photos below at Olympia’s Stadium marble starting line and the Disney Magic docked at Katakolon, the port nearest Olympia.

My children enjoying the views atop the Athens Acropolis.

Pete Andrew Olympia starting point   Disney Magic Katakolon

Pamela Andrew Parthenon

Below, a most captivating day at Ephesus.

Psarianos Ephesus

Siblings getting along in Rhodes.

Pamela Kissing Andrew

Approaching the fortress of Old Town Rhodes.

Andrew going in Fortress Rhodes

Strolling through Old Town Rhodes.

Andrew Pamela Rhodes Old Town

Andrew winding his way through Mykonos.

Andrew Mykonos

Andrew and my mom.

Andrew and Grandma Mykonos

Andrew made many connections to the Italy Pavilion at Epcot’s World Showcase at St. Mark’s Square in Venice.

Psarianos St marks

Here is what I was most grateful for. On every port adventure, every guide made Andrew feel valued and important because he was given the opportunity to have a purpose. Andrew was presented with the task of leading each of our tour groups and I cannot express how that made him or us feel. What I do know is that I saw his confidence soar, right before my very eyes. I saw a joy in my son’s eyes and a happiness I had never seen before, all because the tour guides afforded him a completely inclusive experience. All this because of Disney Cruise Line port adventures.

Andrew Holding DCL Sign   Andrew DCL Sign Acropolis

Watching my son leading the tour group by holding the Mickey Mouse tour group sign was one of the most gratifying moments of my life. Andrew has come such a long way and the majority of his developmental improvements have happened during our Disney parks vacations and sailing with Disney Cruise Line.

Psarianos DCL Europe Dining Room

Posted in Uncategorized

Disney Cruise Line Navigator App’s Newest Feature, the Onboard Chat.

Guests sailing with Disney Cruise Line benefit from the hard copy ‘Personal Navigator’ which is full of daily news, events and activities, delivered nightly to each stateroom. Taking a highlighter to many desired activities will guarantee guests don’t miss out. Now, Disney Cruise Line has added an extra convenience by not only offering the Disney Cruise Line Navigator App for mobile devices, delivering the same convenience but with an added benefit called the ‘Onboard Chat‘. Currently, the Onboard Chat is only available on the Disney Dream and Disney Fantasy and soon to come on the Disney Magic and Disney Wonder. The app is offered, however, on all four ships.

The Onboard Chat allows guests to communicate with other members of their travel party and new friends who are on the same sailing by using a convenient ‘Chat Number‘. The Chat Number adds protection and privacy allowing guests the feeling of safety and security. Through this feature guests share a unique identification, not stateroom number as is the situation with the Wave Phones.

Disney Cruise Line Navigator App Features:

  • view onboard activities
  • find Disney character locations and times
  • plan entire day
  • save favourite activities in a list
  • review ports of call; review sea days
  • check all menus
  • receive daily spa and shopping offers and specials
  • navigate the ship deck by deck
  • stay in touch with Onboard Chat
  • receive vibrating message alerts
  • control access by children using the permissions feature

Disney Cruise Line has taken extra measures to protect adults and children by using the privacy feature, as well, the primary guest on the reservation has full authority over children aged 13 years and older by activating a PIN. The PIN can be cancelled at any time by the primary guest/parent. Children are protected because the App does not disclose stateroom numbers or personal information. It is the primary guest, however, who must exercise diligence in monitoring texts to ensure personal information and stateroom numbers are not disclosed in the texts between children and their contacts.

Controlling the App for children is easily accessed by tapping on the child’s profile icon.

Guests can take further comfort in knowing that contacts and chat history are not saved when the sailing is finished.

To use the Disney Cruise Line Navigator App guests will need and iOS or Android device and link to downloading the application may be found here:

https://itunes.apple.com/ca/app/disney-cruise-line-navigator/id671153791?mt=8

Photo Credit: Disney Cruise Line and Apple Online Store – iTunes

DCL Navigator App1     DCL Navigator App

Posted in Disney Cruise Line, Uncategorized

Disney Characters Sail with Disney Cruise Line

You won’t miss greeting Disney characters sailing with Disney Cruise Line. The excitement and magic extends from the Disney Parks right on to all four ships in the fleet. All types of entertainment involving characters takes place. Characters entertain guests of all ages in the Youth Clubs during special activities, they dazzle audiences during Broadway-style Disney theatrical musicals in the Walt Disney Theatre, meet and greet guests daily during designated times and places and even interact with guests on Disney’s Castaway Cay, a private island reserved just for them.

Disney Cruise Line’s Personal Navigator, a daily paper schedule delivered to every stateroom is filled with activities, their times and locations. As well, guests can also download for free, the Disney Cruise Line Personal Navigator App for their mobile devices, which is just like the paper Personal Navigator on the go.

Disney Princess Characters

The most beloved princesses, Cinderella, Snow White, Belle, Tiana, Ariel and Aurora typically meet guests in the Atrium Lobby for unique meet and greets where professional photography can be captured. As well, the Disney princesses also partake in the Broadway-style stage shows at the Walt Disney Theatre aboard every ship.

On the Disney Fantasy, the fourth and newest ship in the fleet, little princesses can have magical transformations by fairy godmothers in training over at the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique, a recreation of the ever popular ones at Walt Disney World Resort. Furthermore, also on the Disney Fantasy’s Royal Court restaurant, the Royal Court Royal Tea is an exclusive event with unique character interaction while enjoying a high tea in the middle of the dining room.

Characters from Frozen

On all the ships in the Disney Cruise Line fleet guests will enjoy Anna and Elsa and their friend Olaf. The Disney Magic and Disney Wonder will also feature a special deck celebration which is inspired by the Disney movie Frozen.

Pixar Pals Sail Too

For Alaskan sailings aboard the Disney Wonder, guests will delight in meeting and greeting all the favourite Pixar characters and celebrating with parties and dancing. As well, Crush will entertain guests dining at Animator’s Palate.

Star Wars Characters

Early in 2016, aboard the fourth ship, Disney Fantasy, on select sailings, Star Wars characters will sail to greet guests and a day-long celebration will take place called, “Star Wars Day at Sea”.

Pirates Are Onboard

Captain Jack Sparrow sails the seas and hangs out over at Castaway Air Bar on Serenity Bay, but also makes his way throughout the private island for Disney Cruise Line guests.

Disney Junior Characters

Jake and Sofia from Disney Junior are onboard the ships and highlight a popular family party called the “Disney Junior Pirate & Princess Dance Party”.