Travel

Disney’s Splash Mountain to get a Princess Makeover

Photo courtesy of Disney Parks Blog

Today, Disney unveiled new concept art for a reimagining of one of the park’s most popular rides, Splash Mountain! The ride, located at both Disneyland and in the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World, will be updated with an exciting adventure featuring characters from The Princess and the Frog. Guests will join Princess Tiana and Louis on a musical adventure as they get ready for their first Mardi Gras performance.

The backdrop of Tiana’s story takes place in New Orleans and the Louisiana bayou so it will fit perfectly into the theming of New Orleans Square in Disneyland. New Orleans Square was the first new”land” that Walt Disney himself opened, so it almost makes it even more magical. At the Magic Kingdom, Splash Mountain is located in Frontier Land so it will be interesting to see how Disney’s Imagineers tie the rethemed ride into its surroundings.

The Princess and the Frog is one of my all time favorite Disney movies and I am super excited to see how the Imagineers bring it to life. I can’t wait to enjoy the music and go on this adventure with Tiana and Louis. Stay tuned for more details!

Travel

Revised Disneyland Reopening Update

It was announced yesterday morning that Disneyland submitted a proposal to reopen and by yesterday evening plans have already changed. It now appears that the State of California will not be issuing theme park opening guidelines until after July 4th. Due to the work involved with bringing back thousands of cast members and getting their business up and running, Disney feels the most responsible choice at this time is to delay the reopening of the Disneyland theme parks. Once the State of California gives a better indication of when they will release the guidelines Disney can then communicate a reopening date.

The Downtown Disney area will still open as planned on July 9th. Downtown Disney’s reopening falls under the guidelines of restaurant and retail reopenings in California. Guests will still see the planned heath and safety protocols in place at opening.

While the added delay may not be what guests and cast members wanted to hear, Disney is working hard to ensure the safety of their guests and cast members upon reopening. Be sure to follow my blog for up to date changes and reopening information on Disney Parks and more.

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Disneyland working on Phased Reopening Plan

Disney has announced a planned phased reopening of Disneyland starting with the reopening of the Downtown Disney District on July 9th. Just like it’s Orlando counterpart Disney Springs, Downtown Disney located in California’s Disneyland property, will reopen in phases. On July 9, 2020 guests visiting Downtown Disney should expect limited capacity, parking and operating hours. Guests will be directed to self-park in the Simba lot, with operating hours from 10am to 8pm.

Pending state and local government approval, Disneyland and Disney’s California Adventure Park will reopen on July 17, 2020. Again, this is still pending approval so the date is not yet fully confirmed. In addition, Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa and Disney’s Paradise Pier Hotel are planned to begin reopening on July 23, 2020.

It feels like forever since we have been able to enjoy some Disney magic but we are getting close to returning to the magic! What’s the first thing you plan to do when Disneyland reopens?

Travel

Walt Disney World Resort, Disneyland and Disney Cruise Line update.

Today the Walt Disney World Resort and Disneyland began contacting guests scheduled to arrive between June 7th through June 13th to notify them that their planned vacations have been impacted by the resort and park closures. This comes just days after the Disney Cruise Line cancelled cruises through July 28th. Here is what we know on each of these based on information released from Disney.

Walt Disney World Resort guests have been impacted through June 13th at this point. Disney has been assessing the situation weekly and, for the foreseeable future, we expect this to continue as a weekly update. Walt Disney World resort guests that were booked for arrivals during this time have the option to either receive a full refund for their resort and park tickets or they can rebook their vacation for later this year with no penalties. Currently Disney is offering for these guests to rebook for July 1st and later.

Disneyland has also begun to notify guests booked through June 13th that they are eligible to either receive a refund or rebook for a later date. Eligible guests of the Disneyland Resort Hotels may receive a $50 per night resort credit (for future stays between July 1, 2020 and December 31,2020). In addition, guests who had booked a stay at a Disneyland Resort Hotel during the period of March 16, 2020 through June 30, 2020 may be eligible to take advantage of a special Disneyland resort offer to save up to 35% (for stays most nights July 1, 2020 through October 3, 2020). This is not valid for room reservations cancelled prior to March 1, 2020 or for multiple rebookings of the same reservation.

Disney Cruise Line, earlier this week, announced that they were cancelling all sailings on the Dream, Fantasy, Magic and Wonder through July 28, 2020. Guests that have been impacted are eligible for a refund or have the option to rebook. Guests that choose to rebook for a future cruising date may be eligible for a 25% credit of their original cruise fare if rebooked to sail within fifteen months of their original departure date. Please check out the official Disney Cruise Line website for more details.

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Travel

Shanghai Disney Reopening Today!

Shanghai Disney reopens today, May 11th, with additional procedures in place to help keep guests and cast members safe. During this initial opening phase, Shanghai Disney is limiting attendance with requiring advanced ticket and reservations, allowing for social distancing in queues and increasing the frequency of sanitization with additional disinfection practices.

As the park opens today, guests will see that while the majority of attractions and rides, along with some shows, shopping and dining are open with limited attendance, that other areas will remain closed. Many of the interactive areas such as play areas and theater shows will remain closed at this time. Disney characters will appear throughout the park, making appearances in the various lands however close interaction and close-up photos with the characters will not be taking place at this time. Parades and nighttime spectaculars will not be returning initially also. Guests will be able to see a special character procession, Mickey and Friends Express, several times during the day. In addition to that, the Enchanted Storybook Castle will come to life with a light and music show at dusk in Evening Magical Moments.  

Here are the guidelines from the Shanghai Disney press release outlining what Shanghai Disney guests should expect during this opening phase:

  1. All tickets must be purchased in advance. There will not be any on-site ticket sales. Annual Pass holders will need to make a reservation for their visit prior also.
  2. Guests will be expected to provide basic information including name, phone number, ID type and ID number via Shanghai Disney Resort’s official online channels after purchasing a ticket and prior to arriving at the resort.
  3. Guests will register for a Health QR Code prior to their arrival, which will be required to be presented upon entering any location at Shanghai Disney Resort. Only guests with a green Health QR Code will be allowed to enter the resort.
  4. Guests should be prepared to present a China government ID card, or valid travel document, for each guest at the park turnstiles (photos or printed copies will not be accepted).
  5. Guests will undergo temperature screening procedures upon arrival.
  6. Guests will be required to wear an approved mask during the entire visit to the resort except when dining.

While we are anxiously waiting for a reopening date for the Disney parks here in the US, what do you think of the guidelines for the opening? Are these something that you would be comfortable following if Disney utilizes this at the Walt Disney World Resort in Florida or Disneyland in California? Let me know your thoughts.

Even with the parks being closed here in the US, we are still booking for Fall & Winter 2020 and now is the perfect time to lock in your vacation dates for 2021. There are so many cool things happening at Walt Disney World in 2021 that you will not want to miss it. Contact me today for a free, no obligation quote for a Walt Disney World or Disneyland vacation! Don’t forget to follow me on Facebook and Instagram to stay up to date on the latest news for Disney, Universal Orlando and more!

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Travel

What does a travel planner do when no one can travel?

As we all know, the world is in the middle of a pandemic which is shutting down schools, businesses, travel and in some instances cities. The travel industry has been largely impacted and we have seen unprecedented closures like Disney Parks and Universal Parks, cruise lines docked and resorts closing their doors. All of these closures are not just a disappointment for families counting down to their vacations but also are costing families additional time to rebook or cancel and extra money in some cases as well as putting a lot of stress and pressure on customer service reps for the businesses trying to help accommodate guests as best as possible while still worrying and caring for their own families. So how can booking through a travel planner help in times like this? Let me share with you what I, as well as other travel planners, have been doing since rumors of closures and quarantines started (before actual closures began).

Since talk of the coronavirus began, I started watching the official announcements from all of the vendors where I book clients vacations. It’s been important to watch for official updates and not stress about the rumors, my social media feeds are still full of them and they drive me crazy because they unnecessarily cause more stress and frustration to the public. I receive official updates from Disney Travel, Universal and SeaWorld which are where all of my currently booked guests are headed. I also receive updates from my affiliated agency, Academy Travel, who has direct points of contact at each of these places and can get updates directly from them as well.

Disney Parks rarely, if ever, close for an extended period of time so news of Disneyland and then Disney World closing for several weeks was major news! Unfortunately I do have guests that were only a few days from traveling and then received the news that their vacation needed to be rebooked, I have many guests anxiously waiting to hear if they will need to rebook their upcoming vacations. The first few days after the announcement, the wait time to reach a Disney agent to rebook or cancel was over 3.5 hours and that was IF you could even get through or if the call didn’t drop after waiting an hour or so. Since my guests booked with me, they didn’t have to wait on hold for over 3 hours or keep trying to get through. All they had to do was let me know what they wanted to do and I did the rest. Please know, that once I was able to get through to Guest Relations and Customer Service cast members, they were still very helpful and I appreciate all of their hard work during this time also!

Since many people are not planning their next vacation with everything going on right now, I’m taking advantage of this time to do additional training, become certified for other cruise lines and resorts and working on additional items that will be helpful to my travel clients. I’m taking virtual tours of places I haven’t traveled to yet and finding new places to recommend to my clients. I’m also staying up to date on new announcements with the companies I work with currently on changes or offers for future travel.

I am thankful to get to do what I love as a way to not only help support my family, but to help others plan a vacation that will be meaningful to them. Even though these are difficult times, this will pass and we will be back to traveling (hopefully soon). If you haven’t booked with a travel planner in the past I encourage you to look into it, we are here to help take the work off of our guests so they can relax and enjoy! Please check out my FaceBook and Instagram pages for more information about my travel services, and please know that there are no hidden or extra fees for my services. Stay safe everyone!

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Travel

Tinker Bell “Glow” Wings!

Are you looking to “glow” your way through the Disney theme parks this summer? Now available at select locations, both at Disneyland and Disney World, are glow wings inspired by Tinker Bell. Wear them during the day to show your fairy side or light them up at night and glow through the parks. Picture how sweet would your little Tinker Bell look wearing them when she meets Tinker Bell at Pixie Hollow in Disneyland or at Town Square Theater in Magic Kingdom, Disney World. The Glow Wings are available in Disneyland at Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique, Elias & Co and World of Disney. Find them in Walt Disney World at Emporium Complex, Mouse Gear, Discovery Trading Company and the Fantasmic Cart.

(Picture from Disney Blogs)
Travel

When is the best age to start taking your kids to Disney (or other theme parks)?

This is a question that as an Authorized Disney Vacation Planner I seem to get a lot. Often as I’m speaking to potential clients they will say “I would love to go but we are going to wait until my youngest can appreciate or enjoy it.” I get it, Disney and other theme parks are not cheap so of course you want to make sure that each family member enjoys themselves and lots of fun memories are made. What I like to encourage people is to keep in mind that often the parents or other adult relatives on the trip are the ones who will have the memories of their kids first time seeing the castle, or that first ride on Dumbo; those are the memories that last a lifetime. An added bonus of traveling with an infant is that at Disney Parks kids under the age of 3 are FREE!

What has helped to shape my opinion on this topic is that our daughters first trip to Walt Disney World was when she was three years old and to be honest, seven years later she still remembers some things about the trip but she LOVES seeing pictures of her first trip and us telling her the stories. Yes, there are challenges in taking younger kids; they get overwhelmed and over stimulated more easily, they tire out faster, they often haven’t learned impulse control so when they want to eat, rest, see something or do something they don’t understand that you may have to wait. The first trip with our daughter wasn’t all sunshine and roses trust me, she has always seemed to know exactly what she wants and is willing to do or not do, would get over stimulated easily with all the lights, people and sounds, needs downtime to chill out plus she is pretty stubborn so when she says she won’t take a picture in front of the castle she is not kidding, she seriously means it (and still does today lol).

The biggest advice I give people who are considering taking young kids to Disney (or other theme parks) is that you know your child better than anyone. What works for one family may or may not work for your family and that is okay. I knew that as long as I gave my daughter time to swim, run, explore at her own pace and rest when she was tired that we would have a great time. Did that mean that I did not get to ride Haunted Mansion because she was too nervous (and they didn’t have the rider switch option yet) sure, but I had a better time making memories of her and I riding Dumbo and her cracking up at me because I was nervous and she wasn’t (I’m terrified of heights, she is not). It was more about the memories of the first time her and my husband had a sword fight in the shop outside of Pirates of the Caribbean, still a tradition today with them. The memory of seeing her face light up when she walked onto Main Street the first time and saw the castle lit up for Christmas or how she laughed when we rode Kilimanjaro Safari at Animal Kingdom because it seemed like a giraffe was going to try to get into the car with us. I never got a picture of her looking at the camera in front of the castle, but I do have a few pictures of my husband and I looking at the camera and our daughter with her hands in front of her face because she did not want to take the picture….it’s still one of my favorite pictures of my family because it’s an honest picture of our first Disney adventure as a family.

So, if you think you may be up to traveling to Disney with a young child, toddler or infant, here are my top five pieces of advice.

  1. Plan, Plan, Plan….but don’t be afraid to change your plans based on what your kid(s) really need. I am a planner, it gives me less stress and anxiety to have a plan and an idea at least of what we will be doing each day before we leave (also makes packing easier). With that being said, even as my daughter gets older, we still have days where one of us may be tired or just in the mood to do something different so we change up our plans as we go. It’s okay to have some flexibility.
  2. Use the Rider Swap option for the rides that your little ones cannot or will not ride. This way the adults can still enjoy the ride with older kids or other family members.
  3. Utilize the Baby Care centers at each of the Disney parks. These are especially nice for nursing mothers on those hot summer days as well as gives you a little more privacy to change or feed a baby in a more relaxing environment.
  4. Take Breaks. Plan some down time at the resorts and enjoy the pool or hop on the monorail or a boat from a park to a resort for a nice relaxing ride. Get a Mickey pretzel, Mickey ice cream or some popcorn and sit down to relax for a while. In Magic Kingdom, the Main Street Plaza Garden is a nice grassy, fenced in area where you can spread out to relax and little ones can stretch their legs and move around.
  5. Bring Snacks. Did you know that you can bring your own snacks into Disney Parks? Bring some fruit snacks or goldfish crackers and a few bottles of water so when you are waiting in line your little ones can have a snack.

Most of all, plan your vacation in a way that YOUR family will get the most enjoyment. Spend some quality time together and enjoy seeing the Magic that a Disney Parks vacation has to offer!

If you would like help in planning an upcoming vacation to Disney Parks (Disney World or Disneyland) please contact me for a free, no obligation quote. My services are free to my clients and I would love to help you plan. Follow me on Facebook at www.facebook.com/KristieRyan.Travel or Instagram at www.Instagram.com/KristieRyan.Travel.  

Travel

Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge is opening ahead of schedule on May 31 at Disneyland® Resort in Southern California and August 29 at Disney’s Hollywood Studios® in Florida.

Concept Art for Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge

This is incredible news as the projected opening date for Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge was not expected to be until late Fall however it was just announced to be debuting early because of high guest interest in experiencing this new, immersive land.  It is expected to open in phases so on opening day for phase one, guests will be able to live their own Star Wars story and take the controls of the most famous ship in the galaxy aboard Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run. Guests will also be able to sample galactic food and beverages as well as explore merchant shops and more.

Phase two will open later this year, with Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance which is expected to the one of the most immersive and advanced attractions ever imagined and will put guests in the middle of a climactic battle between the First Order and the Resistance as well as blur the lines between fantasy and reality. 

A reservation will not be offered or required to experience Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge at the Walt Disney World® Resort in Florida. A valid theme park admission to Disney’s Hollywood Studios is required to visit Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge after its opening on August 29, 2019. Capacity will be limited and Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge will be open during Extra Magic Hours. During Extra Magic Hours Guests staying at select Walt Disney World Resort hotels can spend extra time at Disney’s Hollywood Studios enjoying select attractions.

Guests planning to visit Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge at Disneyland Park between May 31 and June 23, 2019 will need valid theme park admission and will be required to make a no-cost reservation, subject to availability, to access the land. Information on how to make a reservation will be released soon. Guests staying at one of the three DisneylandResort hotels during these dates will receive a designated reservation to access Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge during their stay (one reservation per registered guest); valid theme park admission is required.

More details are expected to be released soon so please be sure to follow my blog so you are notified of the latest news and updates!

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