Posted in Uncategorized

Massive Enhancements are on the Horizon at the Disney Parks

The annual excitement of the D23 EXPO 2015 D23 last weekend had epic announcements regarding enhancements to some Disney theme parks and two new themed lands at Disneyland Resort in California and Walt Disney World Resort in Florida. A trip to these impressive resorts is sure to be on the bucket list for many travellers in the near future.

Now here’s what is to come from the exciting announcements from D23 EXPO 2015:

Toy Story Land at Disney’s Hollywood Studios

Disney is heading ‘to infinity and beyond’ with the announcement of Toy Story Land scheduled to be constructed on approximately eleven acres of the park, emanating from the already popular Toy Story Mania! (also to be expanded). Two new attractions will be added, one being a spinning type flying saucer affording Guests the experience of riding in the green alien ‘claw’ and the second attraction will be a family-friendly coaster simulating a ride on Slinky Dog. Unconfirmed reports speculate an opening by either 2017 or 2018.

Jungle Navigation Co., Ltd. Skipper Canteen at Magic Kingdom Park

Magic Kingdom Park, Walt Disney World Resort recently underwent a massive expansion with a new land called, New Fantasyland, which has proven to be a huge hit with Guests. Later this year a new restaurant near the entrance to Adventureland called, Jungle Navigation Co., Ltd. Skipper Canteen will open where Jungle Cruise skippers as servers will take care of Guests in jungle themed rooms.

Soarin’ Around the World 

The ever popular flight simulator, Soarin’ at Epcot’s Future World, Walt Disney World Resort and Soarin’ Over California at Disney California Adventure Park, Disneyland Resort will be revised to include vistas from key points around the World. Expansion will also include yet another theatre to facilitate with crowd flow, reducing wait times for Guests. The enhancement of this attraction will take place at the present location in Future World, Epcot at Walt Disney World Resort in Florida and at Disney California Adventure Park at Disneyland Resort in California.

Frozen Ever After at the Norway Pavilion, World Showcase, Epcot

Guests were disappointed with the closing of Maelstrom at Epcot’s Norway Pavilion last year, but Disney never disappoints. Disney’s passion to constantly evolve coupled with the imagination of Disney Imagineers will bring about a new attraction themed after the hit Disney animated movie “Frozen” called Frozen Ever After. As well, a neighbouring Royal Summerhus area will be constructed.

Iron Man at Hong Kong Disneyland

Guests visiting Hong Kong Disneyland will have the opportunity to meet and greet Iron Man and even pose for photos with the Super Hero during the Iron Man Experience set to open in 2016.

Sunset Kilimanjaro Safaris

The popular Kilimanjaro Safari at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Park will be extended for a new nighttime adventure, the Sunset Kilimanjaro Safari taking Guests through the beautiful sunsets of an African savannah discovering two added species, the African wild dog and hyena.

Pandora-The World of Avatar at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Park

Set to open in 2017, Pandora-The World of Avatar will be a richly themed area bringing the key elements of the hit Disney movie “Avatar” to life. Two major rides offering thrills on banshees and tamer leisurely canoe rides bring Pandora’s planet of bioluminescence to reality for Guests.

Star Wars Land 

The announcement of Star Wars Land was the most anticipated and biggest announcement at D23 EXPO 2015. A fourteen acre attraction at both Disneyland Park, Disneyland Resort in California and Disney’s Hollywood Studios, Walt Disney World Resort in Florida, will take Guests well into the depths of the lore of the Star Wars universe, where they’ll be able to pilot the Millennium Falcon. Furthermore, the already existing Star Tours flight simulator will be enhanced to include new ride footage from the upcoming movie. Unconfirmed reports of completion have included such dates well into 2018 or 2019.

Many may contemplate the high, single day ticket prices, but there is great value, logistical wisdom and convenience in booking a Disney Parks package including theme park tickets, resort hotel and dining. Simply put, the Disney Parks offer: resort hotels which fit every taste (boasting incredible themes), packages that suit every budget, Disney offers dining plans (the ease to dine almost anywhere on Walt Disney World Resort property), complimentary airport transportation (Walt Disney World Resort), complimentary resort to theme park transportation, resort hotels offer Disney themes, and resort hotels offer accommodation for special needs Guests and families of five or more.

Book online easily at Walt Disney World Resort and Disneyland Resort (which is celebrating their Diamond Celebration this year, celebrating 60 years of Disney Magic) and get ready for the best online booking experience ever! You will be prompted every step of the way.

If you have in depth trip planning questions be sure to head over to the Disney Parks Moms Panel where people with first-hand experience are waiting to answer any of your questions about your Disney vacation. Furthermore, peruse past Guest questions as a handy resource for your trip planning.

The best part? Every Disney Parks vacation offers unique experiences each and every time. I can personally vouch for that having completed more than twenty-seven combined vacations to Walt Disney World Resort and Disneyland Resort, ten cruises with Disney Cruise Line and an unbelievable visit to Aulani, A Disney Resort and Spa in Hawai’i!

Posted in MagicBand Keepers, MagicBands, SpecialNeeds, Walt Disney World Resort

MagicBand Keepers Are Available at Walt Disney World Resort

I love using the MagicBand system https://disneyworld.disney.go.com/plan/my-disney-experience/bands-cards/at Walt Disney World Resort! The system is convenient for Disney resort Guests once Disney resort hotel, theme park tickets, dining reservations, special theme park experiences and FastPass+ reservations are linked up. I know the list sounds long, but once linked through ‘My Disney Experience’ online, and it’s super easy to do, you’ll be all set.

MagicBands are soft, plastic wristbands that can be customized, and come in an array of colours and themes. They store all of your plans as I mentioned above, and even if you’re not a Disney resort hotel Guest and just visiting for a few days while staying off Disney property, you too, can have the convenience of using the MagicBands after you’ve purchased your Walt Disney World theme park tickets. Once you receive your admission card, you can easily transfer all theme park ticket and dining information onto a MagicBand (done online or by the help of Cast Members at specially marked kiosks at the theme parks) which can by bought anywhere on Walt Disney World Resort property.

Here is what my Disney MagicBand looks like.

MagicBand Jackie

I just love it! My son, who has autism, loves his too, but at times would ask to take it off because he experiences some sensory issues, especially when it’s hot outside. I would remove his MagicBand and would store it away, but I always checked to see its whereabouts and it was always on my mind.

As of a few days ago, the people at The Walt Disney Company solved this problem for folks who don’t feel like wearing their MagicBands, or for those people who for one reason or another cannot wear theirs. Disney created what is known as the MagicBand Keeper, a portable, stuffed, soft Mickey Mouse hand and Minnie Mouse bow where Guests can secure their MagicBand and then attach by clipping onto oneself.

This new system also benefits anyone who needs to keep track of MagicBands for loved ones and is so convenient! They are sold a most gift shops at Walt Disney World Resort and cost $14.95

Here is what MagicBand Keepers look like.

MagicBand Keepers

Posted in Uncategorized

Disney Parks Moms Panel and The Year I Made Round Three

Years ago, before Facebook, there were chat groups on Yahoo that I followed. One in particular held my interest because it was about a topic that I love. A topic that got me excited and a topic that occupied my mind many times throughout the day. There, I met friends who shared the same interest and passion for anything related to Disney. They understood.

It was in the fall of 2008, however, that a new spark was ignited. One of my friends in the chat group announced that she made it on the Walt Disney World Moms Panel, now known as the Disney Parks Moms Panel. So I went to the website to check things out and couldn’t believe my eyes. This was an online group of seasoned Disney enthusiasts with first-hand knowledge of travel to Walt Disney World Resort, Disneyland Resort, Adventures by Disney, Disney Cruise Line and Disney Vacation Club. You could ask any question you wanted about your upcoming vacation, buying a Disney timeshare, or sail on their ships. I was riveted. Here was a place dedicated to helping others plan their vacations. I had to get involved, especially with my need to break all barriers of travel to the Disney Parks and Disney Cruise Line with special needs children.

So began the journey of applying to the panel year after year from 2009 onwards. Every Fall, the applications would open up, historically there were three rounds, of which the third involved a telephone interview.

Then I discovered Facebook and Twitter, and all of a sudden I was connecting and meeting passionate people with the same dream as mine. I’ve forged such unimaginable friendships and bonds with these people who I proudly call my friends, many of whom are panelists.

I’ll never forget the spring of 2012, when I was invited to be a guest at the Walt Disney World Moms Panel reunion. I literally jumped around the house from joy and excitement. Now, I would get to meet the panelists and many of my friends who were also invited.

There’s more. Later that summer, Laura Spencer, one of the leaders of the panel, posted an invitation through the Disney Parks Blog Posts to attend the Walt Disney World Moms Panel FAN Luncheon. Sign up was limited, so you had to act quickly, which I did, and you should have seen my reaction upon receiving a confirmation to that event. Now, not only was I attending that special, coveted event, but I had the excitement of planning a visit to Walt Disney World. I cannot tell you how excited I was.

The thrill, the anticipation, the buzz on Facebook. It was epic.

But there’s more.

The fan luncheon took place in between rounds one and two of the application process. So now, not only were we all excited about that, but we had the reunion trip and fan luncheon to look forward to. None of my annual fall chores were completed that year, none. I had more important things on my mind.

The Walt Disney World Moms Panel reunion took place at Downtown Disney’s Portobello Restaurant the day before the FAN luncheon and was such a wonderful experience. Meeting everyone was a thrill and finally connecting face to face with all these online friends was an experience like no other.

Following that, the very next day, the fan luncheon was at the California Grill and it was beyond anything I’d ever experienced! The excitement could lift a rocket ship to space, that’s how much energy was in the room that day. I got to meet all of the panelists who came by to each of us for a greet and a photo. I think there were 200 people as guests that day. Here is my write up about that magical event, which I’ll never ever forget for the rest of my life. Stuff like that never happens to me.

Here is my write up, go ahead, have a look! Disney Parks Moms Panel FAN Luncheon 2012

Now here’s the thing, back then it was called the Walt Disney World Moms Panel, but at the fan luncheon we were given purple T-shirts that read Disney Parks Moms Panel. The banners read like that too. Not many people noticed, but a few of us did. Well, soon after, there was indeed a name change to Disney Parks Moms Panel.

After the luncheon, I had to meet my husband at Magic Kingdom Park to relieve him of my son and we decided, right at that moment, right on Main Street U.S.A. while I wore my purple Disney Parks Moms Panel T-shirt, to shoot my video for my ‘potential’ round two video. I didn’t have a clue if I would even make it to round two, but something was driving me to film it there. My instinct was speaking to me. So I did it. I filmed my video right there and then. I didn’t have a script or anything. While filming you could even hear a child in the background screaming to go potty. We didn’t even edit that out, because that’s reality and I didn’t want to look phoney.

Round two notifications historically would come out on our Canadian Thanksgiving weekend and things were no different that year. Facebook was a flurry of excitement and pixie dust was flying around Twitter with Laura’s Tweets announcing that magical, Pixie Dusted news was about to come.

My magical news did indeed come and I was invited to round two. Essays about Disney Cruise Line (the specialty I applied to) and the video. I was ready.

Then the watching and the waiting began. All my notifications were on. I was dinged here and dinged there. I would stop everywhere to check my email. I watched Facebook and Twitter like a hawk. I had no interest in anything other than following conversations on Facebook in my various groups. Watching for the flutter of sudden, massive notifications and activity  awaiting  round three notifications.

I’ll never forget this, but the saying, “A watched pot never boils” is true. I was alone with my son one evening when I had to pick up my car from a maintenance check. It was after dinner, it was raining, but I was very busy making sure Andrew had his meal on the go. I completely forgot about the panel and Facebook and Twitter because I was involved in hearing about my vehicle and what had been done to it.

Then I got home. Facebook notifications were a blaze. There were oodles and oodles of red private inbox messages and regular notifications in my feed. People were asking me if I made it to round three.

With my heart pounding, I went over to my email and opened up my inbox and there it was. I knew it was good news from the subject  line. I was trembling so hard I couldn’t click the mouse. Somehow I did, my heart pounding out of my chest while doing so.

I clicked.

I was invited to round three. I went through the roof with joy. I was running around the house whooping (is that even a word?) all over the place. I made it to round three. I couldn’t believe my eyes. I had to read and read the email over and over again in disbelief. I even printed it out for verification, in the event the invitation to round three was retracted or not real. Stuff like this never happens to me. It just couldn’t be real, but it was!

But,… as high as I was flying as a kite, it didn’t last very long, because I had to tell my friends, because we were all in this together. I knew that many wouldn’t be sharing this glee. That sunk me and anchored me right down. This was going to be a problem. It had to be handled carefully because people’s feelings would be hurt. I had been there and I knew how it felt. I felt for my friends, so I had to find a way to tell them that was considerate. I did, and was so well received with good wishes it broke my heart to see such kindness from so many people who were heartbroken. But that’s the kind of community this is. These fellow applicants are genuinely kind people and I know it’s because we all share the same love for Disney.

Round three involved an interview. I had to send in all my information to Jennifer, who was so gracious about it all and helped me with this and with that. I just had to make sure all my contact information was submitted properly. She was SO patient with and kind to me.

I was told I would receive a phone call setting up a time and day for my telephone interview. I’ll never, ever forget where I was…. I was driving on the freeway home from having lunch with Kirsten E. (a Canadian Disney Parks Moms Panelist) who was all excited for my making it to round three. She was so intent on finding me a cupcake that afternoon to commemorate my achievement, it was so sweet.

Anyway, there I was driving on the freeway home when the call came. It was a very friendly, helpful man who cheerfully set up my telephone interview for the following Monday morning at 8:45 a.m. I had to wait three whole days. I was in agony. I was pouring over all my Disney Cruise Line fact sheets, going over everything in my mind just in case they wanted trivia knowledge. I was so excited.

Monday morning finally came and there I was pacing in the kitchen waiting for that long distance ring.

8:45 a.m. and the phone rang. It was the interview team. I remember this so well. I couldn’t sit down, I was too excited.

I was greeted by Laura Spencer, who was so friendly and accommodating. She asked me a couple of questions and I was introduced to the other interviewers who were all so gracious. I was asked questions about various topics about travel with the cruise line which I answered to the best of my knowledge and remember having fun while doing so. I honestly don’t think I took a breath through the entire interview which lasted exactly fifteen minutes, which for me, flew by in a matter of seconds. It was all over so fast. That was it…..now the wait. I was told that I would be receiving a phone call near weeks end.

The phone rang on Thursday afternoon, three days later. My heart was pounding and I could barely breathe. It was Laura Spencer, who greeted me and told me what a great job I did on the interview and how my passion was so obvious, but unfortunately, a spot for me was not available for the 2013 panel.

I was crestfallen. The sting was so sharp and I remember the look on my husbands face as I was hearing my rejection over the telephone.

I went upstairs and had my pity party privately, thanked God for the opportunity and vowed that I would keep trying.

Three years later and I’m getting ready to apply once again this Fall. The specialty? Well, I have ten cruises with Disney on all four ships, over twenty-seven trips to Walt Disney World Resort and Disneyland Resort combined, a trip to Aulani, A Disney Resort and Spa and Disneyland Paris in September….so which specialty?

I’ll decide that when the time comes and listen to my instinct, because it’s always right.

Here’s the link to the Disney Parks Moms Panel, you should check this out!

Disney Parks Moms Panel

Posted in Disney Parks, Disney Social Media, Disney Social Media Celebration, Disney Social Media Celebration On The Road, New Amsterdam Theatre, New York City

Disney Social Media Moms Celebration “On-The-Road” in New York City 2015

I had the honour and privilege of being invited to the Disney Social Media Moms Celebration “On-The-Road” in New York City on June 15, 2015. I was thrilled beyond my wildest dreams for the invite and was super excited!

The event this year had a different venue. It was the Disney owned New Amsterdam Theatre where the hit musical Disney’s Aladdin is currently playing. What an incredible venue!

OTR 1

Bright and early on Monday, June 15, I hopped in a cab and arrived nice and early to check in. I received a warm welcome by Maria Bailey, CEO at BSM Media, followed by a bountiful, hot breakfast. It was there that I had the opportunity to meet fellow social media influencers/bloggers as well as many of my Disney loving friends from years past. As well, I had the opportunity to meet  people who I respect and follow in social media named, Leanne Jakubowski-O’Reagan, Jamie Neilsen-Langdon and Danielle Bellini (Madden NFL Sideline Reporter & Emmy Award-Winning Host-Electronic Arts, The CBS Dream Team, The Walt Disney Company). Meeting these inspirational women was such a thrill for me as a Disney Parks Moms Panelist hopeful for 2016.

After breakfast, we were led to our seating area directly on the stage facing the audience seats. I can’t tell you what a stunning view that was of the magnificent New Amsterdam Theatre with all of its Art Nouveau splendour. The stage area had a podium and the presenters used the power point presentation style. I will outline the presenters in the order they appeared and briefly discuss their topics.

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Leanne Jakubowski-O’Reagan

Leanne Jakubowski-O’Reagan, Director, Social Media; Walt Disney World Resort, led the dynamic and exciting event for the entire morning, keeping the pace fun and filled with *Pixie Dusted* surprises at every turn. Available for questions, information, greets and photo opportunities was a highlight for all attendees, including myself.

Jamie Nielsen-Langdon

Jamie Nielsen-Langdon, Managing Editor, Walt Disney World, talked about the DisneySide campaign, Disneyland Resort’s Diamond Celebration and the new entertainment awaiting Guests. Great information was shared about Disney Cruise Line’s news such as new sailings to Northern Europe, sailings from New York City into the Canadian Maritimes, vacation pairings between Adventures By Disney and Disney Cruise Line and new shows aboard the ships, such as Tangled: The Musical, which will debut on the Disney Magic this November, 2015. Finally, Jamie discussed how much fun it is to bring children to the Disney Parks at any age, through the initiative that ‘pre-schoolers love Disney’.

Jennifer Fickley-Baker

Jennifer Fickley-Baker, Social Media Manager, Disney Parks Blog, shared many insightful and informative tips on writing to capture an audience. Jennifer expressed how ‘finding the story in every situation’ is important towards inspiration in writing. How to tell stories using creativity and brainstorming techniques using ‘listing’ strategies and expanding real stories to capture creativity. Jennifer stressed, “pushing past logic, is where creativity begins”. A wonderful #GrandDisney video of grandparents taking their grandchildren to the Disney Parks was a useful tool to augment this type of creative story-telling.

Victoria Lim

Victoria Lim, Managing Editor, Walt Disney World Public Relations, expanded on the usefulness of incorporating videos in a blog which supports visual story-telling. Great tips and advice was shared on capturing the best images and filming. Useful information was shared on popular equipment editing apps used to aid in photo taking and the filming of videos.

Greg Josken

Greg Josken, Digital Marketing Manager at Disney Theatrical Group, discussed creating digital content in promoting live theatre by building strategies, content creation and trend watching. It’s important to mix old with new, create new stories in the same story and how engaging an audience is vital. Tactics discussed included how to increase social mentions with a positive sentiment, how to strengthen brand affinity and how to increase engagement across all platforms.

Babble

Representatives from Babble, an online magazine geared to urban parents which was acquired by Disney Interactive Media Group in 2011, discussed strategies on projecting oneself in social media in an effective and dynamic manner. All social media platforms were dealt with and the tools and techniques in reaching a greater audience shared.

Barby K. Siegel

Barby K. Siegel, the CEO of Zeno Group, presented an energetic account of her persistence and “fearless” approach to life. Her inspirational message and attitude instilled motivation and a great desire to keep trying. “The glue that holds us and allows us to go big. The fearless pursuit of the unexpected.” Truly, an inspirational person!

Marissa Kraxberger

Marissa Kraxberger,‎ Creative Director at Ivanka Trump, presented many useful, effective ideas and tools on how to transform a brand through social media and elevate that brand to a broader spectrum of people. Tips were shared on how to attract and connect across all platforms and how to maintain interest.

Beyond the Conference

When the conference was completed, the fun and surprises continued with a personal meet and greet with Mickey Mouse and a personal tour of the theatrical prop archive room at the New Amsterdam Theatre. There we saw past set designs and primary costumes for hit theatrical Disney productions and had the opportunity to try outfits on and handle some of the props.

Below, Leanne Jakubowski-O’Reagan and Mickey Mouse.

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Here I am meeting Leanne Jakubowski-O’Reagan (left photo) and Jamie Nielsen-Langdon (right photo).

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The set designs and props in Disney’s Theatrical Group Prop Storage, from Disney’s The Lion King, Disney’s Mary Poppins and Disney’s Tarzan.

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Here I am trying on one of my favourite character outfits from Disney’s Mary Poppins, and posing for a photo with Mickey Mouse.

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The description of the history and restoration of the New Amsterdam Theatre was so informative and interesting. Here are photos of the stage and balcony seating depicting the accuracy of the Art Nouveau genre.

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Making a wish,……a big, big wish for one of my biggest dreams to come true.

OTR 31I wish to extend my sincerest gratitude and appreciation for having had the opportunity to be a part of such an informative, inspirational and exciting event.

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

Andrew Shows His DisneySide

The mere mention of the word Disney sends my son Andrew into orbit. A fleeting commercial catches his attention instantly and begins the repetition of “go to Disney”. Seeing me on Facebook posting Disney photos to my various groups attracts his attention immediately and I catch him glancing at my photos periodically. Nothing to do with Disney escapes him, nothing.

On each and every trip we’ve seen drastic developmental improvements, increased social interaction and an appropriateness in behaviour that gives us great hope. Something happens to him when there. Don’t think I’m silly or childish when I say it’s magic, but it is. In fact, Disney taps into every Guests inner child and brings it out, so maybe what I wrote sounds childish but that’s alright! Life is too short to be serious all of the time, so why not don those Mickey Mouse Ears and smile?

Cast Members enhance our personal experiences too. On every trip a Cast Member has made our visit that much better with their friendly and helpful advice, tips and the odd perk. A special button, Mickey balloon, treat or FastPass has gone a long way with our family and those moments made us feel valued and important. Those moments made us feel as if we were honoured and a part of a great big, happy family.

That meant and means the world to us.

Andrew navigates the parks well, in fact, we follow his lead listening to his requests of where to go next and when to snack and where. The Disney Parks are his home away from home.

So it’s no surprise that Disney memorabilia fills our home serving as reminders of great memories and experiences. Daily little happy reminders during times of stress and complications that give us great hope.

His bedroom has all of his favourite Disney stuffed friends and he checks them regularly.

Until today.

Today he came down and wanted to goof around and this is what he did. Andrew wore what he could and wanted to play. He misses Walt Disney World. He misses sailing with Disney Cruise Line. If I could, I would live in Celebration and visit Walt Disney World as much as possible. If I could, I would sail with Disney as much as possible. I honestly feel he can be completely cured if I could spend everyday there.

This is why it’s so difficult leaving, we never know what spontaneous, positive behaviour we’ll experience next.

I cannot wait until we sail on my favourite ship, the Disney Fantasy, for the Star Wars Day at Sea next January. We are visiting Walt Disney World before the cruise and we’ll give Andrew the time of his life.

I also cannot wait to see what he will do next while there.

Andrew DisneySide Goofy Theme

Posted in Autism, Disney Parks, Special Needs

“Mummy, Give Me a Kiss”

 

My son is primarily non-verbal. It is difficult engaging him in any conversation. He does not like to be touched or hugged.

Andrew is fifteen with a developmental age of three. He loves the movie Toy Story and the Disney characters Buzz Lightyear and Woody. It is for that reason we love Disney’s Hollywood Studios’  attraction ‘Toy Story Midway Mania!’.

Every time we vacation at any of the Disney Parks we see great social and developmental improvements. Andrew comes into his own and into our world many times during those vacations. That is what keeps us coming back time and time again, coupled with Cast Members anticipating our needs, makes for a positive and memorable experience.

One visit to Toy Story Mania stands out in my mind, Andrew was thirteen at the time and up until then I had never heard any terms of endearment or had any hugs from him.

While in the attraction vehicle, Andrew’s aim at the targets was incredible, he was pointing and shooting at all the targets on the screens, breaking them one after the other and becoming increasingly engaged by the minute.

Andrew that day scored 89,000 points, a personal best!

What a huge stride Andrew took that day, it was massive and I was so excited.

Upon exiting the attraction, Andrew turned to me and said, “Mummy, I love you, give me a kiss!”

I was floored! Not only did I give him a kiss, but I got a great big hug out of him for the first time in his thirteen years. For the very first time!

Imagine my delight. It’s a moment I will never ever forget and will hold close to my heart always.

Andrew came back to us if even for a few minutes. I have not heard those words from Andrew since, nor can I predict what he will say or do in the future. I am going to hold on to that special moment for the rest of my life and it’s all because of incredible, unforgettable moments while vacationing at Walt Disney World Resort!

I am so grateful for that special, special moment.

Andrew Toy Story Mania