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, World Traveled Family and

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.


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.


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.


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”.


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.


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!




Disney’s Animal Kingdom Villas – Kidani Village, Walt Disney World Resort

No vacation to Walt Disney World Resort is long enough, be it 5-days or 5-weeks, in my opinion, so when we decided to return for our adventures with close family, we booked Disney’s Animal Kingdom Villas – Kidani Village for 2-weeks. The plan was to alternate Theme Park with Resort hotel days – the best of both worlds, and it worked like a charm. The benefits of staying on property are plenty, with the biggest convenience of being able to head back to your Resort hotel to relax and enjoy the unique theming, which for us was to watch an active savanna from our authentically themed main lobby or Guest Room balcony.  We truly were just as excited about hanging around Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge and Kidani Village, as we were to tour the Theme Parks and Disney Springs. The view of the savanna from our balcony was incredible. Disney Resort hotels can easily be vacation destinations all on their own.

Kidani Balcony

The best part? Andrew and his look of realization seeing the animals in their natural habitat right from our accommodations. Now that was something to see and hear about, with bursts of verbal animal identification that we didn’t know he knew.

Andrew Kidani

And, this look of wonderment at The Most Magical Place on Earth, where many think it’s all about amusement parks. Well, that may be, but Walt Disney World Resort Theme Parks are on another level – a level of uniqueness and immersion that magically transports you to a place where all your troubles are left behind – thanks to the creativity of talented, enthusiastic and dedicated Disney Imagineers.

For us? It’s about the entire vacation experience and all the surprises we see from Andrew. It’s about the bursts of language, the connections he makes to his beloved Disney animated movies when the Disney Characters come alive, or, when he walks into a storybook setting that he becomes a part of. This makes leaving our Disney vacation extremely difficult for fear of what we will miss upon our return home.

Andrew and Buzz

Such as this photo above with his buddy Buzz Lightyear, during our visit to Disney California Adventure Park, Disneyland Resort. The direct eye contact took mere seconds and Buzz had Andrew’s attention for a solid 20-minutes of fun and frolic. We can’t wait to take him to experience Radiator Springs Racers back at Disney California Adventure Park this summer, which I’m certain he’ll make the connection to his beloved Test Track attraction!

That’s the magic of Disney.

Tips For Planning a Walt Disney World Resort Vacation with an Autistic Child

Upon hearing the diagnosis of autism for our son, we thought that our visits to the Disney Parks in California and Florida would have to stop. We thought dealing with tantrums and meltdowns would be best handled at home rather than in public. That’s partially right, but what we didn’t realize at the time was just how much easier it would be dealing with the tantrum if a huge motivating distractor came into play.

That huge motivating distractor was Mickey Mouse.

That’s because during the throws of a transitional issue leading to a meltdown, a Disney character was always around the corner. In the majority of cases, it was Mickey Mouse appearing almost out of nowhere, waving or walking down a path. This would divert my son more often than not and make our day so much easier. While on vacation, we picked our battles and planned carefully.

In fact, when dealing with tantrums from my son alone at home, I often felt more isolated and deserted. I, when the meltdown was over, wasn’t distracted by fun stimuli to take my mind off the stress that the melt down caused. This would leave me in a state of defeat and sadness where I kept going over and over in my mind what I could have done better to prevent or reduce the severity of the meltdown. At home I felt trapped with the reel of the day playing over and over again in my mind, constantly re-evaluating myself and my actions. Most of the time, I became trapped in the aloneness and isolation. Not the case at the Disney Parks, I too, became distracted and focussed on what mattered. Best of all, there were people everywhere and always a Cast Member at hand anticipating my needs. Always.

Here’s the other thing to consider. While vacationing at the Disney Parks, I was organized and ready to handle my son’s situations, but I wasn’t stressed out in doing so because I was prepared and if a tantrum did happen, I didn’t fixate on re-evaluating myself, I picked my battles and moved on. I didn’t stay in that bubble of isolation and aloneness, instead, those huge motivating distractors helped me  move forward to the more positive aspects of the day.  I had, after all,  all my pegs lined up for our visit, which made each and every visit unique, fun and memorable in positive ways. Best of all my son emerged with huge developmental and social gains while at the Disney Parks….these spontaneous bursts of him coming into our world made leaving extremely difficult for fear of what we would miss out on next.

Here are my tips on planning a vacation at the Disney Parks with an autistic child, based on my personal experiences with my son.


I can’t stress this enough. Planning ahead involves simply registering on any Disney Parks websites. For example by going over to  Walt Disney World Resort you can plan and control every aspect of your vacation. It’s super easy and a lot of fun!

From there, you can easily book your own package with theme park tickets, dining, and accommodations (I recommend that because it ends up being more economical and convenient). You’ll be prompted to manage your entire vacation, controlling all aspects such as  FastPass+ selection times, your dining reservations and entertainment times easily through My Disney Experience and MyMagic+ right there on the website.

In fact, you can get into My Disney Experience right after you’re done with booking your resort package and they’ll automatically link everything up for you. You can even share your plans with family and friends who are travelling with you. You’ll have everything you need all in one place and it’s all available on a mobile app which allows you to make amendments, track attraction wait times and even locate characters. The personalization of your profile is available too, affording you your very own page. Isn’t that great!? It’s super easy with many user friendly prompts along the way.

Staying on property has many conveniences and benefits. The minute you hook into MyMagic+ the conveniences begin. You’ll be able to book your Disney Dining reservations, your FastPass+ experiences where you can reserve your favourite attractions ahead of time, you’ll be able to personalize your innovative Disney MagicBands which unlock your Disney resort room, hold your theme park tickets, store all your Disney Dining and FastPass+ information, allow you charging privileges and free you from carrying around important identification and money. Wait, there’s more….you can store all your Disney PhotoPass photos and videos on your account, so there’s no need to drag around cameras or video cameras, just go out there and have fun. All your personalized plans and conveniences are around your wrist and if your child doesn’t want to wear his/her MagicBand, no problem, Disney has attachable MagicBand Keepers which allow you to clip the MagicBand onto yourself or your child. Whatever is best for you.

The Disney Parks have fun all year long and we find visiting during the ‘less crowded’ times also helps with our navigating the parks, as well as buying separate hard tickets into special theme park events, such as during the Christmas season for “Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party” and during Halloween season for “Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party” because the crowd is limited. I have discovered that the months of September, October, first two weeks of December, January and February have more manageable crowd levels.

That’s not all!

Even before you leave home the Disney’s Magical Express luggage tags arrive for you to place on your suitcases. Upon arrival at Orlando International Airport, no need to visit baggage claim, instead, head over to Disney’s Magical Express Check-In area and board your complimentary motor coach shuttle to your Disney resort. It’s that easy! Your luggage will follow and be placed right in your room a few hours later, ( I always pack a day bag with first afternoon essentials, such as medications, bathing suits, sunscreen, Mickey Mouse Ears etc.).

Once at your Disney resort be prepared to receive complimentary transport to and from your Disney resort and the four theme parks, two water parks and Downtown Disney. How much more convenient can that be!

One thing I try to do is stay at a Disney resort nearest the theme park we like to visit the most. It really cuts back on travel time and gives you the opportunity to whisk your child back for a quick nap or some down time. Plus, if you have your own car, Disney resort guests benefit from free parking anywhere on property.

Disney strives to provide an inclusive experience for all, regardless of ability. They have a system in place called the Disney Parks Disability Access System Service Card which provides accommodations for guests who are unable to wait in the conventional queue at a Disney attraction as a result of a disability, including a non-visible disability. We use this for our son only when necessary, as we are attempting to teach him proper conduct for waiting in lines. This card in conjunction with booking your FastPass+  attraction experiences in advance makes visiting Walt Disney World easier for you and and your child.

But here’s the best part with staying on Disney property. You’ll have Disney magic twenty-four hours a day, you’ll get to visit the parks earlier and/or later than non-Disney resort guests with Disney’s Extra Magic Hours. How great is that!

My favourite perk? Shopping and having the luxury of sending all my packages back to my Disney resort-no lugging parcels around. I just love that!

Did I mention that all Disney resorts have different budget points and all have amazing, detailed themes? The authentically replicated themes will leave you awestruck. Where do I begin?

If you need help with planning, you can even chat with someone on the Walt Disney World resort website if you like or click on the helpful link called the Disney Parks Moms Panel a comprehensive, informative planning site dealing with every aspect of travel to Walt Disney World Resort, Disneyland Resort, Disney Cruise Line, Disney Vacation Club, ESPN Wide World of Sports and runDisney. These panelists are Disney enthusiasts with first hand experience and get this, they even have panelists who have experience with special needs family members. How great is that!

Stay tuned for tips for staying at Walt Disney World resort with an Autistic child….

Oh, and here’s Andrew on a character greet with Buzz Lightyear at Disney California Adventure Park. Just look at the joint attention there. It only took Buzz a mere two seconds to get that reaction from Andrew.

Priceless, unique experiences each and every time!

It’s what keeps us coming back.

Buzz and Andrew DCA

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!

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… 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

24-Hour Coast to Coast Disney Events this Spring

The Disney Parks coast to coast will be celebrating this spring!

Over at Disneyland Resort in California they’re hosting a 24-hour event launching the Disneyland Resort Diamond Celebration May 22-23. The event begins 6 a.m. Friday, May 22 and will run continuously through Saturday, May 23 until 6 a.m.

The 24-hour event will include character greets and dancing in designated locations at Disneyland Park and Disney California Adventure Park. More festivities await with shows and the thrilling attractions at both theme parks. The event will mark the beginning of exciting new entertainment when the Disneyland Resort Diamond Celebration begins on May 22, such as:

  • “Disneyland Forever” Fireworks
  • “World of Color-Celebrate! The Wonderful World of Walt Disney”
  • “Paint the Night” Parade

Credit and Photo: Disney Parks Blog

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Over on the East Coast at Florida’s Walt Disney World Resort the fun continues with Giant Sand Castle in the Snow Announces 24-Hour Party, ‘Coolest Summer Ever’!

Inspired by Olaf’s “In Summer” dream, the event was announced just this morning on ABC-TV’s “Good Morning America”. Our friend Olaf will also be the official host of the “Coolest Summer Ever”.

The “Coolest Summer Ever” will be a grand 24-hour event at Magic Kingdom Park during Memorial Day weekend, to kick off the summer.

The fun will run for twenty-four hours beginning 6 a.m. and guests will be encouraged to show their DisneySide while enjoying the fun festivities, special decorations, entertainment, food and merchandise. It will also mark the beginning of the coolest summer at Walt Disney World Resort.

“Coolest Summer Ever” experiences will include:

  • Epcot Entertainment
  • New Restaurants and Shopping
  • A Splash at Water Parks
  • Star Wars Weekends
  • Frozen Fun
  • Cool Thrill Rides

Credit and photo: Disney Parks Blog

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