Author Archives: Tracey

Mickey's Halloween Party: Who said Disney was suppose to be just for kids?

Big Red's Disney Bootcamp

” Walt Disney would take his two young daughters, Diane and Sharon, to play at the carousel at Griffith Park in Los Angeles every Sunday. While his daughters enjoyed their repeated rides, Disney sat on park benches with the other parents who had nothing to do but watch. It was on these Sunday excursions that Walt Disney began to dream of an activity park that had things for both children and parents to do.”

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A place where both children and parents can enjoy themselves. Disney has certainly created so many wonderful things to see & do and the addition of themed parties is no exception. With this in mind, we move back into our present reality and the Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Parties, exactly the balance that Walt was trying to create.

MNSSHP 2013 - Tigger

A separate Park ticketed event, the MNSSHP as it’s better known offers every sized ghost, ghoul and goblin a chance to enjoy a softer version of a Halloween Party. With specialty fireworks, parade and candy trails, Disney has presented a fantastic event that has certainly become a yearly favourite for many. Our traveling group returns for this yearly event with anticipation of bigger and better each time.

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Halloween costumes in tow, we travel to Magic Kingdom each year to enjoy alittle night music and fun. Specially outfitted characters are waiting to greet each and every one. Magic Kingdom is transformed into a festive spot. Decorations are truly awesome with speciality pumpkins and lighting and everything that makes this the most wonderful time of the year for many.

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Mickey & Minnie are always around to welcome visitors to the Park and bring many of their closest friends along for the party. Your little ones will certainly enjoy dressing up in their costumes and locating their favourite character and they may even get a photo with them showing off their own costumes. It’s a really fun time for everyone. Candy trails are scattered throughout the Park so that some trick or treating can even be enjoyed. Healthy snack options have started to become popular as well although I must admit freely, there was only 1 station set up with Ocean Spray Craisins which is a far cry from the printed information from Disney stating that there are options available. I do hope that in the very near future with all the healthier options being requested that there is a switch to more availability.

MNSSHP 2013 - Jack & sally

The two newest characters to join the Halloween Party this year are Jack Skellington and Sally from Disney’s Nightmare Before Christmas. Along side of Town Hall, Jack & Sally have a very nicely themed area for photo opportunities and I can say from the two hour plus lines that we experienced the first night of our 2 night party schedule, folks are pretty excited to visit with them. On our second night however, we did get through a fairly quick lineup and had a spectacular time with them. Jack was extremely charming and interactive and amused my former Disney Manager with whom she was dying to see. Dressed as Cinderella, she was squealing in the lineup prior to our turn and jumped for joy when we were finally called up. It spooked Sally somewhat as she was unsure of why this princess was so delighted to meet Jack. Needless to say however, Jack certainly enjoyed the attention very much.

MNSSHP 2013 - Boo to you

I myself wait for 2 things during the MNSSHP, The Boo To You Parade which is a specially designed parade just for these Parties and also HalloWishes, the special Halloween edition of Wishes featuring many of Disney’s Villain’s who come to play. One very special guest welcomes all who attend the parades and I anticipate his visit each and every year eagerly. The Headless Horseman, from Disney’s The Legend Of Sleepy Hallow is incredible. With a lit pumpkin in hand, he gingerly rides through the Park to start the parade. He is truly one character you do NOT want to come face to face with but I enjoy seeing him trot through the Park each and every year. SPOOKY INDEED.

MNSSHP 2013 - Headless Horseman

From the dead waltzing Haunted Mansion dancers to the Haunted Mansion Grave Diggers, the Boo To You Parade certainly offers something for everyone. Even a chance to pick up some treats along the route.
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During this wondrous night of ghosts and Ghouls, there is even a special edition of the fireworks called HalloWishes. The Disney Villains all seemed to come forward and request their own special spooky offering and they certainly never disappoint. The fireworks are incredibly special. From the regal Evil Queen herself to Oogie Boogie from The Nightmare Before Christmas, each character brings a little scare into the night skies. Vivid colours and really fun music you can “scream along too” this display is certainly a must not see.
All of the usual rides are open for the evening and most nights during Halloween party seem to be not so busy and normally line ups are on the shorter side although I have been known to wait for a while to visit Space Mountain but it’s totally worth it.
MNSSHP 2013 - Tarzan
This year Disney also brings Monsters Inc into the party with a character dance party. Getting down with Mike and Sully is totally possible along with a wee dash of Boo thrown into the mix. It is pretty awesome to see all the children get down with their bad selves along with a furry character or two. You can find them by following the music in Tomorrowland over by Carrousel of Progress.
Want some quality time with the Villains, well you can certainly head over to the castle show that is offered multiple times throughout the party. There you can find the Queen of Hearts getting her groove on with Jafar, Evil Queen and and few of their friends. After the pulsating show, a meet and greet is offered in front  of the castle where you can get a snapshot of you and your fav but beware……….they certainly are called Villains for a reason and are quite mischievous.

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Look, these parties certainly are an expense, an extra ticketed event which runs from 7pm until midnight. A cost you’re looking to shell out of $60+ per person, however, if it’s something you think you want to do, please do it. I really recommend it highly. Dress up and go rock your socks off. It’s a great time, fun and for a moment to tow, you won’t believe that it’s run by scary villains.
Now, if you will excuse me, I have a trick or treat trail I need to hit because I only have a few days until Halloween and the Evil Queen doesn’t wait for just anyone you know.

Run Disney Tower of Terror 10 Miler Report

TOT Logo

Have you ever got the urge to try something completely out of your comfort zone? You want to combine your love for all that is Disney and get your fitness on?

I highly recommend looking into the RUN DISNEY events that have recently become a phenomenon throughout the lands.

I recently had the unique perspective of assisting in the preparation of a Disney Marathon with my step brother Shane. Not a seasoned runner by any means but has over the last year participated in several different Disney Marathon offerings, I thought during my recent trip to explore the running world with him and all that Disney has offered for these events.
The Twilight Zone Tower Of Terror 10- Miler Weekend provided all the chills and thrills that an October run should offer, including plenty of villains thrown throughout the course to make it scary but so much fun!!
Now, I do NOT recommend using this race as your very first Disney Marathon unless you are a seasoned person because it does offer a challenge course wise, length wise and you certainly have to keep a steady pace or Disney officials will sadly disqualify you. HOWEVER, it is a nice challenge for someone who has trained for these type of races.
Set late at night, throughout the streets of Hollywood Studios, The ESPN Wide World of Sports Fields and then back through the Studios, Disney certainly pulls out all the stops for their events. With many character stops to special surprises, you have the opportunity to combine your love for athletics and getting your fitness on to seeing special not so often seen characters throughout the course.
Waiting for the race to start, I noticed that the runners are corralled into groups. Inside your corral, you are with runners of similar pace, therefore you’re not with a seasoned pro runner if your just starting with your very first race and then the seasoned pros are not with the newbies and so on.
Thousands of athletes are moving like cattle through gates to commence the race. This was a fantastic opportunity to us the spectators to scope out the athletes. So many different costumes and characters here. We saw the sublime runner with merely a set of earjacks for some night music to elaborate Tu-Tu’s created especially for races to Villain’s of every shape and size. Men in Tiara’s to Twilight Tower Of Terror costume replicas complete with bell boy hat to complete the outfit. I suspected with the extremely high humidity that some of those racers would be rethinking their attire once the race commenced.
It was the energy and emotion that I saw not only on the face of the racers but the spectators as well. it was truly an experience, and one I was very grateful to be a small part of.
Once you sign up for a Disney Marathon, you arrive a few days before and are invited to the ESPN Wide World Of Sports Complex to pick up your packet and register. Thousands of runners, family & friends gather in this tight-knit community to share stories, war wounds and  to merely participate in the fun. There is also a fantastic opportunity to purchase any and all types of gear from many participating sponsors. From running shirts, socks, compression gear to assist with the pain caused from the sport to New Balance special RUN DISNEY RUNNING SHOES especially created exclusively for Run Disney events, there was literally something for everyone. Was looking like BLACK FRIDAY inside the retail coral and I attempted to get involved by taking a stroll through. Anything you could have thought of was there and so much more. Plaques for your medal, special tracking devices and there was so much my head was spinning. The energy from the participants was really charging and I wasn’t even running. The Expo is INTENSE SO BE PREPARED!!

The event is extremely well-organized and since Disney has been doing them for a few years now, they have become more seasoned and have been given much feedback and the likes and dislikes and have included something for everyone. HOWEVER, do remember that this IS a Disney event, there are going to be characters and situations happening throughout your event, photo ops which I highly recommend taking full advantage of unless you plan on returning for many more.
Speaking of characters, from the Old Hag from Snow White, which I can throw in here since I am a pretty versed expert in Snow White character sightings, she is NEVER, EVER OUT so I would take COMPLETE advantage of this one which I am kicking myself I am NOT in any shape to run but certainly HAS pushed me into wanting to start training so perhaps I might FINALLY be able to see the Hag.
But I digress, I am here to discuss the Mile Markers and characters. Shane would start sending photos of the mile markers which are electronic tote boards with the time clock timer so paces can be set by the runners, but there was sprinklings of themes throughout. Shane agreed that if Disney truly wanted to do something scary, they could. There was sightings of Scar and the hyenas from The Lion King and Pride Rock.  A haunted woods set up through the dark which took a few runners off guard as they came rounding the trail. Cruella De Vil was spotted although with Malificent and so many more along with a really awesome surprise for the avid Disney fan, one of the beloved submarines from 20,000 leagues under the sea was spotted on top a flat-bed truck which you could have your photo taken alongside.
Also a special note here, Run Disney also provides some of the very best medical in the racing community and they truly do look out for their athletes. With spots to stop throughout to get things from Vaseline to gel to assist your muscles to medic tents for more serious injuries, Disney has you covered. Multiple athletes were in serious need post race, wheelchairs from racers passing out from heat exhaustion to leg cramps and even a few protein spills……..Disney has got you covered in case your race didn’t go totally as planned.
As you came along close to the finish line, you could hear the commentators and the crowds started to get closer and the mere thought of the finish line was certainly  enough to provide some drive to get moving and finish. Flames shooting out of the finish line area was an awesome touch as you passed and the bleachers set up filled with literally hundreds of family, friends and spectators made it truly a memorable experience.
Afterwards, racers and special ticket holders were treated to a Villains Party until 4am. There was food and drink stations set up everywhere throughout the Park. It was interesting to walk through Hollywood Studios at 2am and be able to get a glass of wine or spirits or even a hearty beer and walk to an attraction. This is truly magical for some because Disney is obviously dry and not providing alcohol is pretty standard so this was a surprise.
Villains, Villains and more Villains was the theme. It seemed that since the race was over, EVERYONE was in the celebration mode. Photo spots are set up strategically throughout and if you wanted to snap a photo with the Evil Step Sisters well this was certainly the time.
PLEASE NOTE- this event was NOT free. It was a separate purchase ticket needed. $70+ taxes race day and for 6 hours, and not everything in the Park opened, it is certainly something to consider prior to going if you are a family member. It IS however included in the race fee so if you’re participating, HAVE FUN!!
All in all, from an outsider looking into her first Run Disney event, it was very well-organized, smooth transition and well executed.
The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror 10- Miler was certainly filled with chills and thrills and an event that I would highly recommend if you’re a Disney fan and someone who enjoys the sport of Marathons. I would also recommend going to RUNDISNEY.COM for more details on the plethora of offerings for up coming Marathons and the different types available

HP Wand prototypes, Art of Animation details & more!

Howdy Howdy Howdy- The other night I had the most INCREDIBLE experience I have had since arriving. I made the realization that our next door neighbour here in Davenport is an INCREDIBLE artisan to say the very least. Now I knew Brian was creating some pretty impressive stuff currently for the Art of Animation Resort at Walt Disney World but as I found out during a cocktail party, he is involved with SO MUCH MORE! Continue reading

Allergies……can we even THINK about traveling to Disney with them?

ABSOLUTELY!! I know that in today’s society, it seems as though Allergies are truly not the uncommon but the norm. That’s right, the norm. It is incredible to see the amount of studies conducted lately showing some pretty serious numbers. From the famous nut allergy in children to the substantial growth of the gluten allergy, everyone has to make revisions when it comes to menu’s. Walt Disney World is certainly no exception. They ARE actually THE exception to the rule, they treat allergies with the highest regard. But don’t take MY word for it. Go and see for yourself.

Now, since you have been reading my contributions week after week, I know that you have already sat down at that computer and did some pretty intense investigation. GOOD FOR YOU!! I am happy that I was the one that inspired such a task. You have looked up which Resort you wanted to stay at, you know all the things to pack, you even are thinking of jumping aboard the new Disney Cruise Lines’ ships and ready to hit the open seas. But alas, you have an allergy. Here’s a list of helpful advice for you:

  1. When booking your reservations for dining at 407-W-DINE after looking through the plethora of absolutely tasty locations, tell the reservations assistant that you HAVE AN ALLERGY!! This is important to start the ball rolling. Let them know, they have been trained for this type of situation, trust me. They are more than delighted to help you.
  2. When arriving at your restaurant of choice, check in and once sat, PLEASE TELL YOUR SERVER!!  There is nothing more frustrating for a server to have your guests FORGET TO MENTION YOU HAVE A SHELLFISH ALLERGY and you wonder up to the buffet in Boma and sit down to a scrumptious plate of food and wonder why your tongue is starting to swell. Listen, Walt Disney takes allergies SO seriously that a server can be REPRIMANDED for NOT including the allergy when inputting your orders. Trust me, I should know, I was also written up for it. 😉 I underline the word ALMOST too! Tell them, it is only going to help YOU in the end and we want you to have the best, safest and well…..most MAGICAL vacation ever.
  3. Once you have told your server, the chef is actually going to come out and speak to you. ( I told you they were serious didn’t I). Once the chef comes to the table, they will introduce themselves and go over the menu with you to explain options you may have and I can certainly tell you from my own personal experiences, they will even go so far as to CREATE your very own dish sometimes to help with your allergy. It is NEVER a BURDEN so please never think of it that way. You may have to wait a little longer for your food to be prepared, but that is just Disney ensuring all the precautions are being made to prepare and serve it in a healthy environment.
  4. When at a quick service location, you know the ones at the Park’s that are not a sit down experience, they will also have options, JUST ASK!! Prime example- my brothers and I all have Gluten allergies- I mean it DOES run in families right? 😉 Anyways, we were at Magic Kingdom last week and we were starving. It was well after 1:30 and we needed something to get us through till dinner and quickly because hey, there was a 3pm parade I HAD to attend. Anyways, we stopped at Cosmic Ray’s. This is a quick service location and we knew all we had to do was ask and someone would speak to us. As I mentioned above, the chef will come out, now normally when your making burgers, there really isn’t a need for a chef so you will normally have a Manager or Leader of some sort visit you. Extremely helpful and in a flash, we ordered grilled chicken sandwich’s on GF buns, they will even do french fries specifically for GF people so not to worry folks.
  5. Children have special needs and Disney is the first to ALWAYS PUT YOU FIRST!! I know there are always opportunities for bumps along the way but they are committed to making your experiences a magical one. The little ones have options as well. The chefs are actually very excited to come and talk to the little ones. They know that they are intimidating, heck when I first met our chef’s whilst working at Le Cellier in the Canadian Pavilion, I was TERRIFIED of them. They have all become quite close friends actually. They will get down on the kids level, chat with them, ask their names and what exactly they like to eat. Forget the broccoli and turnips, they can create MAGIC.

I hope that you also realize that Disney Cruise Lines has also been included into this mix. For example, my brothers are actually on the Inaugural Disney Fantasy cruise and with their Gluten allergy they are WELL taken care of. I have heard many times of them boarding and finding extra treats extended to them because they couldn’t eat things like chocolate chip cookies or breads. They have had plates of GF brownies stuck inside their cabin as they were out enjoying themselves and have returned to find their little treats. It makes a HUGE impact and I can tell you that I for one have been a several cruises and the servers and cast members have taken special care of me.
Here is a quick story, my brother’s were celebrating with a family that were entirely GF and there was a wedding anniversary during the cruise. It happened to fall on the day at Castaway Cay. What do you do? Stay on the ship because you can’t enjoy BBQ with everyone else? NO WAY!! The cast and chef’s had created a private and very special celebration for everyone. They specifically made everything GF for the entire bunch. Hamburgers and grilled chicken and brownies and everything you could think of for an afternoon BBQ feast.
Worrying about allergies should be the absolute last thing on your mind when you travel. As you have seen, Disney has taken ever avail accommodation to ensure your trip starts and finishes HEALTHY and HAPPY!! So, get going, Go have fun. EAT.
Now, please excuse me again, I have a wee reservation at California Grill with my friend chef Brian as seen above and I think he is going to create something fabulous for us for dinner and I think that we will go outside on the terrace to watch Wishes so I had better get going.

Until next time everybody…….TTFN

Off to a Disney Cruise? Wanna know a secret….

OK, you have probably already been informed that Disney has in fact released ANOTHER new ship. This past weekend on March 31st, will hold a special date in the hearts of many who have been waiting for her release. Disney Cruise Lines set sail on the Inaugural cruise for The Disney Fantasy. Now, much like my previous post about Disney Cruise Lines and their fleet……The Fantasy holds some pretty special magic of her own. Continue reading

Big Red's Disney Bootcamp: The Myth and Truth's of Hidden Mickey's

I am sure that you have heard about the mysterious Hidden Mickey’s. I also bet you have probably wondered what they actually are. There has even been, in recent years, an almost cult like following to find new ones throughout Disney Parks.

I can even admit that I even given into the obsession to find them. I have even purchased a copy of the very popular book by Mr. Steven Barrett to familiarize myself with the crazy sweeping the population. Wikipedia has even dedicated a page to the entire subject. There’s even an app for that!
Hidden Mickey Book Now, I cannot find dates when they started to create them, but what I can say is there are Hidden Mickey’s in the Snow White Movie so they have been around since 1937 when the movie was released. This is big business and is pretty fun trying to locate them. Look on rocks, bridles for the horses on Main Street USA in the Magic Kingdom, EPCOT, every Resort, motion pictures, TV series, cruise lines. You name it, there most likely will be a Hidden Mickey somewhere.

Now, cheating as I have in the past, the book is very helpful for the beginner to get you familiar with them but once you have located a few yourself, it is so much fun running around trying to find others not listed in the books. However, I can with all certainty tell you that this has been going on for a very long time and everyone knows all about them. If you’re lucky, you can even ask a Cast Member wherever you may be and see if they know of any in that particular location. At our Canadian Pavilion, we can even tell you that if you look up, WAAAAAAAY UP on one of our totem poles, you will even see a Hidden Mickey if you look closely. It was even a special task for us in Le Cellier, the amazing Canadian steakhouse to create Hidden Mickey’s for our guests.

There are deliberate ones, like I just mentioned, but thousands of ones that have been secretly placed in some pretty incredible places. Snow White movie…….you see it? Ummmmm can you imagine a GIANT one in Hollywood Studio’s that can only be seen from the skies? (Note, this was before the giant Sorcerer Hat was added.)

How about in WISHES the nighttime spectacular fireworks high above?

Animal Kingdom Lodge towering over you whilst you check-in?
Maelstrom, Norway’s boat ride in EPCOT, while you wait in line?

Hollywood Studio’s………from the manhole covers on the ground to the front of most of the cars in the afternoon parades to the outside the buildings down Hollywood Boulevard, they are everywhere.

Even the Water Parks are getting into the act with splash pools and if you look at the lifeguard stands, you might find one in the least expected places and those, those are the most coveted ones. No matter where you go, what you’re watching, be on the look out for these hidden gems. It is a fun little game you can join in, it’s a FREEBIE and gives you something extra to do whilst waiting in a queue line somewhere. Don’t be surprised i[warning][/warning]f you find others walking around the Parks with a little book to assist them in hunting down the elusive Hidden Mickey.  Good luck locating your own.

Now, I have to go, I have an exciting day at Blizzard Beach Water Park ahead of me and I hear that there is a Hidden Mickey at Mt.Gushmore I need to find.
Until next time:


Big Red's Disney Bootcamp: DCL: More than a children's playground at sea

So, you have explored Walt Disney World, you may have even ventured over to the West Coast to where the dreams all began in Disneyland I bet you’re wondering what else you could do that’s Disney but different? Why not try what everyone has been talking about lately, Disney Cruise Line.

Cruising became popular in the 1980’s when air travel became boring and crossing the seas in a luxurious ship become all the rage. What was once though of as a “rich folk only” mode of transportation, cruising has become second nature for many families. So popular in fact that is has grown to a $29.4 billion dollar business. In 1995, Disney created Disney Cruise Lines, commissioning two ships to be created in the same Disney fashion as the theme parks we know and love. The Disney Magic set say July 30th, 1998 and from there, has grown to 4 ships as of March 2012 when the Disney Fantasy will set sail for the adventure seekers. From 2400 passengers to the current 4,000 on the Disney Dream, Disney has truly created a magical experience for their guests. Many different ports of call to choose from, again, it merely requires some investigation and imagination and Disney will certainly take care of the rest.
Of course, choosing your room type and your ports of call is literally the only thing you will need to decide, along with transportation to and from the location if you so chose to travel to someone other than the Port Canaveral region for travel to and from the Florida base which the Disney Dream and the Disney Fantasy shall remain. As for the Magic and the Wonder, they will be setting sail to both the East & West Coasts respectively.
I highly recommend a 3 day cruise if you are a first timer. This is a lovely way to “get your sea legs’ as one might say and discover if cruising is something you enjoy. With the size of ships coming a very long way, one would be safe to say being sick wouldn’t be so difficult back in the day but it would hard with the stabilizers and the like of today’s modern ships.However, 3 days is a delightful way to get accustom to the surroundings and enjoy a little quiet time. If traveling to say the Bahama’s from Port Canaveral on the Disney Dream, after arriving at MCO (Orlando International Airport) you can certainly enjoy the Disney Cruise’s Lines Express shuttle from the airport to the ship. You will be whisked away, luggage and all and meeting you in your stateroom magically from the airport.

Once checked in by Disney Cast Crew Members, (please bear in mind a passport is required to travel Internationally) you will be given your key packages and your off to explore your new home for 3 glorious and enchanting nights.
Disney has, as they have always become accustom to, creating a wondrous retreat. As an adult with no kids, I was weary as to travel aboard without children as most would assume Disney Cruise Lines is children only. So not the case to my amazing surprise. Many options to choose from including a Concierge Level if this is more to your liking. Coming as a Concierge I was delighted to hear that. Offering staterooms with veranda and even a jetted tub, they have certainly thought of everything. As your friends have once informed you of their cruise to Caribbean many, MANY years ago, the food on cruise ships is beyond your imagination. This is true for Disney Cruise Lines as well.
Disney has created an amazing opportunity to try many different options on your journey and offer a rotation so to offer choices for the guests. With such restaurants as “Animator’s Palate” “Parrot Cay” “Triton’s” and many more, Disney has offered many amazing and truly unique dining possibilities. My favorites of course, may not be yours but I know you will find your own. If room service is something more to your liking, this option is available as well. These dining options are all included in your cost of course, however, alcoholic beverages are of course, an extra fee.
Speaking of, but a wonderful one I highly, HIGHLY recommend is dining at “Palo”. Palo is a finer dining experience but one you will certainly thank me for suggesting. It is an extra cost, but if you can consider $20 per person an exaggerated fee, than by all means stick with your rotation and ignore this next bit of information. Palo can be used as a switch out selection for one of your rotations and most people try for this. It is something you must request and despite perhaps being declined the opportunity due to over booking, please do not fret, you will have another opportunity the day you arrive on-board when you check in and you can ask a cast member for assistance for creating the reservations. Please also be advised that Palo requires a dress code, simply meaning absolutely no jeans. Khaki’s and button down shirts for the men and dress pants and sleeved shirts for the ladies No need for the ball gowns, but one night of dressing up is always a treat. The food in incredible and that is merely all I will give away about that so you can create your own memories but I will merely leave you with this tip: order the CHOCOLATE SOUFFLE when you check in. You will totally thank me later 😉

There is so much more than I could ever write in a note about Disney Cruise Lines but a few tips and pointers and you will find yourself on your way to magnificent journey’s on the seas. You will spend one day at sea traveling, during this time, trust me, Disney has provided more than enough options to keep yourself occupied. Don’t ever think you’re going to be sitting in your room bored and counting down the minutes until it’s all over, on the contrary, you will be finished before you even blink your eyes and wonder where to time got to.
There are first run movies to watch (meaning if Disney-Pixar’s Brave is out in theatres during your cruise, it’ll be showing at the cruise ships movie theatre- even in 3D if applicable!) clubs to dance the night away to, games, art galleries to view, pools to swim in of course, basketball courts to sweep across, gyms to get your sweat on in, Spa’s to relax in (more later of course ) and theatre’s to watch award-winning Disney productions in. That isn’t even mentioning what there is in-store for the children in your life. Disney has provided this magical thing that you can drop your kids off at a club to be entertained whilst you are given a pager in case your kids want to contact YOU, not the other way around. This way, you can get away to the Spa to get that massage you were dreaming of.
The children’s programs are, of course as you would expect, totally Disney tested and approved by millions of parents around the world. They offer from babies to teens and everyone in between. You can explore, take a cooking class, fight with Pirates and that’s only the toddlers. Ask your reservations agent for my information on the programs available on what ship or you can, as always, go to the amazing Disney website for more details and information.
Now, you have exhausted yourself and your settled in for a restful sleep in your cabin and you’re wondering what’s tomorrow going to bring? CASTAWAY CAY!!
 This well-known Island, or for those of you living under a rock for the last few years with all that has been said about it, Castaway Cay is Disney’s private Island. Yes, you read that right, PRIVATE ISLAND. Registered to Disney Cruise Lines, this Island offers everyone, and I do mean EVERYONE the opportunity to do whatever their heart desires. Parasailing? You fancy that? DCL has you covered, watercraft more your speed, sure they can accommodate that too. Now, you have dreamed of feeding a stingray, well, I can tell you from experience, it is something they can do as well. You see, as the stories go, Wishes do come true. We haven’t even started with the activities on the Island. There is something for families, private Cabana’s if you want to lie in a hammock and have fruity drinks all afternoon in the sunshine.
You want to do some snorkeling and search out a hidden Mickey with the local fish? I have photos I am not going to share because I don’t want to give the location away, but I can tell you that Castaway Cay is truly incredible. Relaxing and fun. Grab a bike and take a wee spin around and explore. Oh, you say you say the Flying Dutchman from the Pirates of The Caribbean movie series, yup….you sure did. It’s parked at the Island and you can certainly take some incredible photos and bring the movies right into your reality. Of course, there are alway many awesome opportunities to spend some quality time with some pretty charming characters during your stop as well. It seems as though Stitch, Captain Hook and even Mickey & Minnie love to getaway as well and get some sun and surf time in as well.
Whew………….like I said, there is way more to do during a Disney Cruise than you may have first anticipated. Excited yet? Well, not to worry, your off again and about to visit the Bahama’s. Nassau Bahama’s is a charming Port offering many things to keep you occupied whilst the ship docks for the day. Atlantis Resort is probably one of the most popular, exploring a Casino, an incredible aquarium and Hotel, Nassau offers so much more than meets the eye. The straw market is certainly a must see. Rows and rows of stalls with merchants offering many different displays of handcrafted products, there are historic harbor tours available, even visiting the Blue Lagoon Beach. Ask your Disney Cast Crew Member for details and options. Enjoy your day in the tropical Island.
Senses Spa is located on the Disney Dream, or Vista Spa offered on the Disney Magic & Wonder and I can certainly say from vast experience, this is a MUST DO when you’re cruising aboard Disney Cruise Lines. Now, of course, with the newer ships comes more space and more amenities, the Disney Dream’s Senses Spa has created an enchanting and relaxing oasis waiting for your arrival.
 Sure, they both offer the usual Spa menu, Mani’s, Pedi’s and massage that will send you into a euphoria, the Senses Spa’s have begun offering some fantasy items. What do you think of when I say a RAIN FOREST ROOM? That’s right, Disney Cruise Lines has created a wet and dry Shangri-La. Looking to chill out for an afternoon whilst your hubby goes to the gym to work off that souffle? Well, might I recommend a trip into the Hamam (Steam Bath) and then a massage out in the private Villa?? Sssshhhhhh, he doesn’t have to know, it will be our little relaxing secret.
As I have confirmed, cruises in the 21st century has become something of a Resort on the open seas. A place where you can do nothing and everything. The possibilities are endless and are only as open as your imagination allows.
The Disney Cruise Line website is where all the information is for these unbelievable offerings, check it out and find something that tickles your fancy and I assure you, your going to want a lot more than a mere 3 days.

Now, if you will excuse me, the Pirates IN the Caribbean Party is about to begin and I have to get my Pirates Costume on and get out to the deck because I want a fantastic spot for the FIREWORKS. See ya on the open seas…….



Big Red's Disney Bootcamp: 2011 Review and what's new for 2012

‘Tis the season to review what the last 12 months has offered and Theme Park Canuck is certainly not going to be left behind so I am going to take the opportunity to review what amazing and well……magical things Disney has certainly accomplished in 2011 and what exciting things are in store for us in 2012. In no particular order:

1. Star Tours Refurbishment

Star Tours 2.0

Both Disneyland and Walt Disney World provided their guests a long awaited referb and update.  Bringing all the magic and thrills of Star Wars back to the forefront. More than 50 stories themes are being offered in 3D.  New characters and worlds will offer the chance to fight alongside of some of our beloved characters.  I actually enjoyed my time in October with Darth Vader who joined me on my quest.
2. Aulani
Nestled on the Island of Oahu, the brand new shiny Vacation Club Resort is a masterpiece of all that is Disney. 360 Hotel rooms & 481 Vacation Club suites collaborating the customs and cultures of the Island and the magic of Disney. Aulani is the newest destination offering incredible views, experiencing and a chance to explore the lands.   21 enchanting acres in fact,  filled with snorkeling lagoons, grand villas and an abundance of Pixie Dust.   You may even find Mickey & Minnie in grass skirts somewhere out on a beach as the sun sets if you really look closely.
3. Avatarland
Avatar Land
 James Cameron’s movie about a fantasy world will be joining the Disney family in 2013 but was announced earlier this year causing some major excitement.  Several acres of land  in Disney’s Animal Kingdom Park will offer attractions, entertainment, the amazing animatronics Disney has been accustom to delighting us with.   With a reported $500 Million dollar budget, Pandora is going to give guests an incredible look inside this fantasyland.
4. The Disney Dream- Disney Cruise Line’s Newest addition
Aqua Duck on Disney Fantasy & Dream
Jan 26,2011 was the maiden voyage for this youngster in the Disney Cruise Lines fleet.  The Dream offers 4000 passengers the opportunity to sail on the state of the art masterpiece. and is, just some trivia for you, is the 10th largest ship in the world currently.  11 night clubs and lounge, kids and teens areas and the most impressive dining in the fleet thus far.  A plethora of sporting options, a basketball court, a mini-golf course and the glowing piece DE la resistance, the Aqua Duck. The 765 foot long water coaster is exhilarating to say the least and everyone will have to take a whirl.
6. Carsland
Cars Land
This brand new, super detailed land is scheduled to debut at Disney California Adventure this coming summer. Look for brand new attractions and ways to interact with the characters from Cars like never before. This is the biggest expansion in DCA’s history, all part of the 1 billion they are spending to fix the former retail & dining oriented park and turn it into a full day park worthy of the Disney name.
5. New Fantasyland
New Fantasyland
In a two stage process, Walt Disney World will offer some fantastic new attractions and restaurants that haven’t been seen in some time. Two new rides, Under the Sea- Journey of the Little Mermaid and The Seven Dwarfs Mine Train coaster.  A new castle which the Beast will inhabit and the second castle for the Park. The 550 seat “Be our Guest” sit down restaurant will also be a welcomed addition. Dumbo will just be moved slightly double in capacity, unofficially dubbed “Dueling Dumbos.”  The expansion has disturbed Fantastyland for much of the year but will be well worth the wait.
All in all, Disney Parks offered more than I could possibly include in this blog but that means that you have more exciting things to see and do at Disney Parks.  As a New Year is about to commence, I wish for prosperity and joy and a lifetime of happiness to all that read this blog.  2012 is proving to be an incredible year with so many things to explore at the Parks so get out there and find your own magic.

Now, if you will excuse me, I have a date with the Fairy Godmother and I don’t want to keep her waiting because my slippers are only good for……well, you know the story I’m sure. 😉

Happy New Year’s!!

So until next time, TTFN!!


Big Red's Disney Bootcamp: The Magic of Disney Transportation

Your sitting there, overwhelmed still and wondering, can I make this happen?  Can I really get to Disney without a car and most importantly, how do I get around once I’m there? Well, if your reading this, you have started your process and are fully on your way to a fantastic vacation.

Flying to Orlando

Come fly with me
First things first, your dreaded flight to Orlando.  Use to be that Delta Airlines was your official transportation for Walt Disney World, but now, you have more options to choose from so look around. Don’t worry about using a travel agent, I have every confidence that you will find something not only affordable but fun. I just have to stress once again, know when your going to go.  Obviously, if your dream is to celebrate a national holiday at Disney, remember that your going to have hundreds of thousands of others who have decided the same. Don’t let me scare you off of a holiday either, in fact, if your willing, try it once. Nobody does a holiday like Disney does a holiday. To say that they go all out, is a far understatement. Imagine ginormous gingerbread houses inside of the Grand Floridian Resort, yeah, they do that. But if crowds aren’t your thing, be sure to do a little surfing on the net to see when busier seasons are down there.
With flights, sometimes a connecting flight is less expensive than a direct flight. Now I realize you’re seriously excited to get going, but patience will certainly pay off. Tuesday and Wednesday’s are also prima days when airlines enjoy discounting airline tickets so keep your eyes peeled. Once you arrive in Orlando, with your pre-booked accommodations on property at Disney (we’ve discussed reasons you should stay on property), you have the option of using the Magical Express option with your room. I definitely recommend taking Disney up on this free feature. Yes, I did just say FREE and DISNEY. It does happen folks so know when to take full advantage.

Magical Express

Buses can be fun too!
Magical Express is free transportation in a really comfy coach bus that will whisk you from Orlando (MCO) airport, which is approximately 20 minutes away from Walt Disney World. You will literally go down to the baggage carousel and then down to the bus areas and you climb aboard your bus for your Resort and off you go.  Easy right? It’s suppose to be. When Disney decided on this concept, they tried it out free for the first trial and was seriously thinking of adding a charge. However, after the overwhelming popularity of this service, Disney decided to keep things as is. Sometimes, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Once onboard, there are fantastic drivers that will pop in a movie that totally takes your mind off of the stress of air travel and wondering where to go and what exit to take and finding your rental cars.  Once you have arrived at your particular Resort, your luggage will actually be dropped off in your room, no need to lug in into the lobby, check -in and drag it over to the room.  TA DA…..Disney took care of that.  Your Welcome.

Boats, buses, bikes, monorails, OH MY!

Let me explain a few modes of transportation for you to enjoy throughout your vacation, because there are many and you will learn tricks as you become familiar with the place.
Sea Raycers
Seven Seas Lagoon, located closest to the Magic Kingdom and surrounds the several of the major Deluxe Resorts, you see that beautiful open water and think, wow, I would really love to get out on that myself. You can do that. Head over to the Polynesian Resort and you can rent Sea Raycers which you can race around until you just can’t race no more.
Riding a bike along the Sassagoula River sound after a huge dinner at The Turf Club, head over to either Riverside Resort or the French Quarter and your rental awaits you.
Of course, there are extra fees included for these options but remember, ask you Disney shall deliver.
A bicycle built for two....or four 🙂
Getting to the Magic Kingdom for your very first day, but how to get there.  Taking into consideration what Resort you will be staying at, (any Moderate or Value Resort will include a bus ride from your Resort to the Ticket & Transportation Centre which is the last spot you can get dropped off if you would like to enjoy a ride on the famous Monorail). If your staying at a Deluxe Resort, the majority are located closer to the Magic Kingdom and you will be whisked away to the magic happy place via the Monorail anyways. Now, to me, nothing says a visit to Disney than riding that Monorail.  Actually, a fun fact for you, the day I arrived to work at Walt Disney World, we never had our Main Gate Passes to provide free access to the Parks yet but we arrived in Orlando and went to the TTA and rode around on the Monorails for a while that very first night. I will never ever forget that.
I'm on a boat!
Now my step brother despises that Monorail, perhaps it’s the smell, (trust me, you will remember that smell) or it could be the fact that you are high above the street below riding smoothly on this futuristic train, but he refuses to ride it.  So, I have to make a pact every visit, I ride the Ferry Boat across one time and he will force himself on the Monorail.  Why not try both options?  For first time visitors, the Monorail offers you the authentic Disney mode of transportation that you will always remember but the Ferry Boats are also a relaxing and fun way to get to where you really want to be as well.  The Ferry Boat is the very best option at night. *TIP* Disney also has this fun thing called the Electric Water Pageant.  They consist of barges that carry 25 foot tall screens of light. It is certainly something to see at the end of your busy day and all the parades have been watched, all the turkey legs have been consumed and WISHES is done for another day.
Monorail.....meaning 1 rail. FYI!
So, your stuck at Hollywood Studios and you have reservations in EPCOT for lunch in Morocco and you don’t really know how to get over there?  Have no fear, you have a few quick options.  The buses will take forever to board and then travel around the busy streets so why not hope aboard the ferry boats that board just out front of the main entrance gates and settle in for a delightful and relaxing ride.  We warned, it does take over 30 minutes since it has to go through several Resorts before arriving in Epcot so you may want to remember that prior to boarding.  If your stuck, always remember that there are beautiful walkways that will bring you from the Studios and over to EPCOT.
Here is my next trick, if your really wanting to get to the Magic Kingdom for the 3 o’clock parade and you’re still in Epcot and you don’t think you will make your parade?  Don’t worry.  There is a Monorail line that runs from the TTA to Epcot which is the quickest way in my opinion to get there from EPCOT. Whatever way you decide to get yourself around, Walt Disney World has certainly taken great care to ensure that you get from one location to the next. With a little information, you can certainly get yourself anywhere you need to be.

Speaking of, I have a Segway Tour that I need to take in EPCOT and I don’t want to be late so I am off to the Monorail station so I can get over to EPCOT.

Until next time,