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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Authorized Disney Vacation Planner, do I need one?

I was on a Disney Fan Facebook page recently and saw a debate about using a Disney Vacation Planner when planning your upcoming Disney vacation or if it’s better to just do it yourself. The comments ranged from “it’s great to have someone else do all the work” to “I don’t want to lose control of my trip” and even “I’m not going to pay someone else to book my vacation when I can do the same thing online myself”. This isn’t the first time I have seen or heard these comments so I wanted to share a little about how an authorized Disney Vacation Planner can help, even if you are a seasoned visitor to a Disney property. Here are the top 4 things that I typically talk to potential guests about using my services.

Training: To become an authorized Disney Vacation Planner, you are required to go through Disney’s training course and pass all of their testing and criteria. You are also required to stay current on any updated training that is provided. Many of the agencies also have requirements regarding training and even traveling to the various Disney properties so that you can provide firsthand knowledge and experiences to your guests. There are many training tools and information sharing that we have access to so even if I personally haven’t run into a particular situation, I can pretty quickly find someone to help me to get my guest an answer.

 Customized Experience: An authorized Disney Vacation Planner can be as involved or as “hands off” as the guest prefers. For example, a first-time visitor to the Walt Disney World Resort in Florida can easily get overwhelmed with the planning. There are multiple parks, resorts to choose from, tickets, dining, FastPasses, special events, waterparks and it’s all spread out over miles of property. This can be very overwhelming for a guest who may not know where to begin. As an authorized Disney Vacation Planner, I can help narrow down all of these items until we create a vacation that is perfect for your family. After booking the package, I am available to my guests anytime a question arises. I send reminders to be sure they are aware when important dates such as dining opens or FastPasses can be scheduled. I can help with the booking of dining and FastPasses also.  For a more seasoned guest, I may only be booking their vacation package and they may choose to book their own dining and FastPasses or may just ask me for recommendations. At the end of the day, this trip is about finding what is the best fit for your family based on budget and availability and tailoring how involved I am to what the guest is comfortable with.

Advocate for the Guest: Once a guest has booked their vacation, my job doesn’t stop there. In fact, my job isn’t complete until after the guests have returned from their Disney vacation. On a regular basis I am watching for discounts that may be able to be applied to any of my guests’ packages, I will spend hours on the phone getting these discounts applied (if applicable) so that the guest does not have to make the call into Disney Travel themselves. If problems arise, I do my best to resolve the pieces in my control. For example, if a flight is cancelled due to weather I can’t change the flight but I will call into Disney and see if we can cancel that dining reservation you are now going to miss and see if we can reschedule it or what options we may have to make situation a little better.

We LOVE Disney: Disney Vacation Planners are often some of the most passionate people about Disney and Disney Vacations! This is a labor of love for many of us, we get paid from Disney via our agencies and never directly from a guest. We do not, and are not allowed, to charge guests for our services. Disney Vacation Planners are typically frequent Disney travelers themselves and stay up to date on parks, rides, attractions, entertainment and resorts so they can help you create the trip that best suites your family.We do this because we are usually the ones at the parks before rope drop, checking wait times and FastPasses on the My Disney Experience app, are always looking for the next time we can plan our own Disney vacation. I enjoyed helping family and friends make plans for their Disney vacations and I was always on the various Disney sites to find out about the latest news and offers so this is my dream job. My family has traveled to the Walt Disney World Resort over 10 times in the last seven years because we love it so much, so often that my pre-teen can navigate through the theme parks like a pro and is now starting to help me make our family plans.

For me, the decision to become an authorized Disney Vacation Planner was a dream come true and I am grateful every day that I am affiliated with Academy Travel, an EarMarked Diamond Travel Company, which is the highest honor Disney Travel gives to an agency. I am proud to be an authorized Disney Vacation Planner and helping others plan their dream vacations and make memories. Disney has so much to offer with theme parks, cruises, adventure travel options and much more so if you haven’t been on a Disney vacation before or if it’s been a while, I would love to help you plan a trip of your dreams. Contact me for a Free, No Obligation quote and let’s start creating your magical adventure together!

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Top 10 Places or Ways to relax or wind down at Walt Disney World.

Vacation should be all about relaxing and enjoying time with people you care about. A Disney vacation may not always seem relaxing because there is just so much to see and do but there are ways to sneak in little breaks and some relaxing. Here are my top 10 places or ways to relax at Walt Disney World.

  1. Ride a slow or quieter ride. Riding the Tomorrowland Transit Authority (People Mover) at Magic Kingdom is a great way to sit and enjoy the views and relax for a little bit. One of my favorite attractions for relaxing is the classic Carousel of Progress at Magic Kingdom where we learn that there is a “Great big beautiful tomorrow, shining at the end of every day..” If you are at Epcot, I recommend riding Spaceship Earth and enjoying this slower moving ride that takes you throughout history or Living with the Land located by Soarin’.
  • Take in a show. There are so many shows at each of the Disney World parks that you have lots to choose from. This can be a great way to get inside out of the Florida heat and relax while watching Broadway level shows.
  • Find an out of the way place to sit and relax. When you are at Animal Kingdom, there are so many little paths back by Asia where you can get out of the crowds and relax a little. At Epcot, when you travel through the countries be sure to explore them. Many of them such as England, Japan and Morocco have little walkways or alleyways that are not as hectic and allows you to relax while enjoying beautiful gardens or buildings. Hollywood studios seems to be a little more tricky right now because there is so much construction but head over towards Echo Lake and there is often some quieter spaces to enjoy. At Magic Kingdom be sure to enjoy the Main Street Plaza Garden where there are greenspaces fenced in on both sides of Main Street with views of the castle. This is one of the best places to let little ones stretch their legs and for families to relax.
  • Ride the Monorail. Hop on the monorail and enjoy riding the loop OR jump off at each of the three resorts and explore! The theming at Disney World Resorts are amazing and you will not be disappointed in checking out the Grand Floridian, Polynesian or the Contemporary. If you catch the monorail at Epcot you will have to switch monorails at the Ticket and Transportation Center to get to these resorts. Added bonus, the beach at the Polynesian is a great place to watch the fireworks from Magic Kingdom or the water parade at night. The Contemporary has a viewing deck that has an incredible view of the Magic Kingdom fireworks also.
  • Take a boat ride. You can take a boat ride from Magic Kingdom to the Grand Floridian,  Polynesian or Wilderness Lodge. You can also enjoy a nice relaxing boat ride from Wilderness Lodge over to the Contemporary. When staying at Port Orleans French Quarter, Port Orleans Riverside, Old Key West or Saratoga Springs resorts you can travel by boat to Disney Springs. The resorts of Boardwalk, Beach Club, Yacht Club, and the Swan and Dolphin Hotels have boats traveling to Epcot and Hollywood Studios.
  • Utilize the Baby Care Centers. When traveling with a little one, be sure to utilize the Baby Care Centers located in each of the Disney Theme Parks. These centers give you a little more privacy and comfort during those hot or busy park days to feed or change little ones.
  • Swim and play at your resort. Don’t forget to take a day or at least a few hours to enjoy the pools and activities at your Walt Disney World Resort. All of the resorts have multiple pools, each with different theming to match their resort and are staffed with lifeguards. An added bonus is that there are typically activities that go on near the pool for kids of all ages lead by Cast Members. At night, most of the main resort pools will have poolside movies which is the perfect way for families to relax and unwind after a day in the parks.
  • Resort Hop. Have a few hours of down time? Book a dining reservation at another of the Disney resorts so you can check them out OR just head over to the other resorts to take a walk around. This is how my family usually gets an idea of the next resort everyone wants to stay at. We take a few hours one day and pick a couple resorts to check out. That helps us see what each has to offer in person.
  •  Head to a Water Park. Disney World has two water parks both themed very differently but equally fun, Typhoon Lagoon and Blizzard Beach. Enjoy the wave pools and find a beach chair to soak up the sun and relax. There are plenty of attractions for all members of the family, from the lazy rivers to big water slides. It’s the best of both worlds because you can enjoy various attractions with your family and then chill out and relax in your beach chair by the water.
  1. Plan a “down” day. If you have time in your trip, have one day where you don’t have anything planned. If you have a park ticket for that day, you can wake up that morning and decide where to head and not worry about fast passes. I know, the horror – how could she say that lol, but there is something to be said for taking a spontaneous day once in a while. My family usually takes one day of our trip and doesn’t get a park ticket for that day. We can decide to swim, explore, head to Disney Springs or do all three. The beauty is that it helps to recharge our batteries because we are typically a rope drop to park close kind of a family.

However you decide to plan your vacation, remember to be in the moment and enjoy making memories with the people you love.

Please contact me if you would like a FREE, NO Obligation quote on a Walt Disney World Resort Vacation. My services are free for my clients. To stay up to date on Disney Park news and offers, please follow me on Facebook and Instagram at www.facebook.com/KristieRyan.travel or www.Instagram.com/KristieRyan.travel.

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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.