One Week Until D23 Expo!

Mickey D23 Expo

We’re down to one week until the D23 Expo starts, and we couldn’t be more excited! We’ll have a couple of days to play in the parks before the event starts, but we’re so close that we are just finalizing our game-plan for the event. As always, we’ve made a list of must have essentials for any Disney trip, with special considerations for an event of this scale. Being first time attendees, we want to be prepared for anything!

Here’s what we’ll be taking with us in addition to the usual essentials:
iPad Air 2: We plan on waiting in a lot of lines, so having a device loaded with things to read, watch and play is essential.
GoPro Hero 3: How else will we capture all the magic?
Extra Batteries: The GoPro is notorious for terrible battery life, so extra batteries will keep us going all day
Mobile Phone: Staying connected is a must, especially so we can follow along and see what’s happening onsite at the event.
External Battery Pack: Always a must when you’re taking photos, videos and posting on social media. This will help us avoid having to waste time sitting along the wall charging our devices.
D23 Mobile App: So much is going on at this event, we’ll have our schedule set up beforehand but can also get push notifications & stay connected to find out what else is going on.
Disneyland Mobile App: To see up to the minute wait times and optimize our visits to the park.
Roam Mobility USA SIM Card: An essential for us Canadians visiting the Unite States and not wanting to pay astronomical mobile roaming rates. Unfortunately as of this writing the Anaheim Convention Center and Disneyland Resort do not have WiFi (with the exception of the hotels).  The mobile app has some cool features we want to use, but having a data connection is a must. We’ve never used this service before, so look for a review once we’re back.
Small Backpack: To carry everything in and make our lives much easier!
That’s the list so far, did we miss anything? Let us know in the comments!

Cell Phone Service While Travelling

iPhone SIM Card

Some people travel to disconnect from the world and leave their phone at home, I’m the complete opposite of this. I still want to be able to check my email, make calls if necessary, and of course stay involved in all my social media efforts. However, I don’t want a $1500 cell phone bill when I return.

Roaming abroad using your Canadian SIM card is crazy expensive and don’t even get me started on using data! Looking into alternative options for using your phone is a must if you need to stay connected. Of course you can use WiFi for most things, but if you want to be completely connected without having to search out a Starbucks, McDonald’s or whatever local establishment has free wireless, getting a different SIM is ideal.

Here are a couple of options for staying connected abroad. (Your phone needs to be unlocked, so if it’s not, check with your carrier about getting this done.)

If you are travelling to the United States, I had great luck with Ready SIM and would totally recommend it. I purchased the card online, received it a few days later and upon arrival installed it into my phone. A few updates to my phone settings and I had 1 gig of data to use for 14 days. Simple, easy and affordable. I didn’t opt into voice service for this trip, but that’s an option also.

Ready SIM

After doing a lot of research on affordable options for roaming overseas, the best service I found is called KnowRoaming. Like Ready SIM, you purchase it online and the shipping is pretty quick. Check them out here.

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It’s essentially a small SIM sticker you put on top of your existing SIM. You download their app, set up your plan and it’s smart enough to know when to switch to the correct settings when you are outside of your home country. It was a bit of a pain to get installed correctly, because you have to line it up perfectly on your SIM. My first attempt was a failure and I ended up taking the sticker off before calling support. DON’T DO THAT! Their support is excellent and they sent me a new one via FedEx right away. The second attempt worked out better, but still required adjusting the sticker a bit with my thumbs.

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The app was a bit wonky to get set up, but everything is set to go now. I haven’t used the service yet, but I leave next week for my trip so will update this post once I use the service.

What are your suggestions for staying connected abroad without breaking the bank? Leave me a comment below and let me know!



Hong Kong Disneyland "Paint The Night"


No words can describe how amazing this new parade, Paint The Night, coming to Hong Kong Disneyland looks. Incredible to say the least! All I have to say is why can’t we get this in North America? It’s like they pumped Spectromagic up on steroids and brought it into the 21st century.

From October to December, guests visiting Hong Kong Disneyland at nighttime will see the Park in a whole new light. The brand new “Disney Paint the Night” parade starting from October 1, together with “Disney Haunted Halloween” and “Disney Sparkling Christmas”, will amaze and mesmerize our guests as light creates vibrancy, mystery and romance at the Park.

“Disney Paint the Night”, a first ever fully LED parade created by Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, is a state-of-the-art, vibrant wonder that immerses many of our classic Disney and Pixar stories in magical, luminescent worlds. Disney Paint the Night features seven original floats containing over 740,000 individual lights. This fantastical parade will bring to life guests’ favorite Disney and Disney?Pixar stories in unexpected and thrilling ways, illuminating the whole parade route every night.
New technology with imagination unleashed to wow the guests
“Disney Paint the Night” is composed of seven units of creative floats including Tinker Bell Opening Unit, Monsters Inc. Unit, Cars Unit, The Little Mermaid Unit, Belle Candlelight Unit, Toy Story Unit, Mickey & Friends Finale Unit. In this all new technologically advanced parade, Mickey is going to “paint the night” in dazzling Disney dreams of light, and with the scintillating powers of Tinker Bell’s pixie dust, Mickey and his friends create fantastic visions, which come to “light” the streets of Hong Kong Disneyland. The parade features many beloved Disney and Disney·Pixar characters, and for the first time, we have invited Lightning McQueen, Sulley and Mike to join the parade at Hong Kong Disneyland.

“The creative team spent over 2 years and developed over 1,000 scenic and lighting designs to ensure ‘Disney Paint the Night’ will ‘wow’ our guests in a totally new and innovative way. New technology coupled with unleashed imagination takes this parade to a whole new level and Hong Kong Disneyland guests will enjoy a colorful feast for their eyes.” said David Lightbody, Director of Entertainment and Costuming, Hong Kong Disneyland Resort.
From the design of the floats, props, costumes and cosmetology, to the lighting, music and choreography, innovation and strong story telling have driven the creation of “Disney Paint the Night”.
The vibrant lights feature not only on the floats, but also on Disney characters, dancers and props. More than 80 Cast Members per night are involved in presenting this never-seen-before nighttime parade.
Over 25 different styles have been applied in the design and construction of the costumes and many of them have been developed specially for this parade. Each costume has its own very sophisticated system of lighting controls. The team used new technologies in ways that have never been used on costuming before to bring a new perspective to our guests.
The talented Cosmetology team (hair, wigs and make up) at Hong Kong Disneyland has developed a new technique to create fiber optic wigs that can be styled to create a beautiful glowing effect. They also developed exquisite fiber optic eyelashes that can change color which significantly enriches the whole parade performance.
Interactivity allows Guests to immerse themselves in the experience of “Disney Paint the Night”
Interactivity is always a key to enhancing guests’ immersive experiences. There are special magic enabled merchandise items developed for the parade. The Park especially designed the all-new interactive merchandise – “Mickey Magic Paint Brush” which allows guests to interact with performers.
Paint The Night Interactive Brush
During two show stop moments of “Disney Paint the Night”, guests will be able to “paint the night” with the Paint Brush. It can literally change the colors of the performers’ costumes at the touch of a button. The floats can also ‘talk’ to all other magic-enabled merchandise items, including “Mickey Glow Mitt” and “Minnie Glow Bow” and change the colors of the items to give guests a chance to really become a part of the parade.
The Park has also prepared a series of specialty food and beverage options with a glowing and glittering theme to further complement this latest nighttime experience.
To further celebrate the vibrant spirit of “Disney Paint the Night”, guests can pay a visit to the Tomorrowland Bootique and to be “painted” in luminous make up by our professionals and join the dance party with DJs and an all new illuminated stage performances in the Tomorrowland Party Zone.


California Adventure reopening coverage: The best of the best

Disney California Adventure has it’s grand reopening yesterday, and there is a ton of press coverage all over the web. We thought it would be great to curate some coverage in one place to give you a detailed overview of everything that is new and amazing at the park. A lot has happened in the past week, and we want to make sure our readers don’t miss a thing! Continue reading

DCA Glow with the Show ears are amazing!

Today in awesome & amazing, Disney California Adventure has introduced the latest in their theme park technological upgrades with the new “Glow with the Show” Mickey Mouse ears. Essentially these light up ears use technology that allows them to sync with World of Color and The Mad ‘T’ Party. The LED’s in the ears blink and pulse to make you a part of the show. How awesome is that! They remind us of the old “Magical Moments Pins” from Walt Disney World that would interact with rides and shows, except these are much more impressive. They cost $25 and look to be something that locals will get more out of than tourists. Nonetheless they are amazing. Check out this video of them in action: Continue reading

Harry Potter & The Forbidden Journey Overview

Brad, Nick and Kirby give you some of their thoughts of the most amazing ride ever created: Harry Potter & The Forbidden Journey at The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. At the moment, this is the only version of the ride. Universal Studios Hollywood announced they will be building a version, and most recently Universal Studios Japan announced one as well. It will be interesting to see the similarities and differences between all 3.

TIP: Get to the park early in the day for the shortest lines and head straight for Ollivander’s Wand Shop. The line can be over 2 hours for this awesome experience. Harry Potter & The Forbidden Journey loads quickly and the line is half the attraction.

Wizarding World #3 to Open in Japan!

Today in news we heard about, but forgot to post: Harry Potter is headed to Japan (as announced on May 9.) That means the world will be home to 3 versions of the ride: Orlando, Hollywood and Osaka. We can’t wait for the arguments about which is better begin! Read below for all the magical details:

Universal Studios Japan, in partnership with Warner Bros. and Universal Parks & Resorts, announced today that they will be bringing The Wizarding World of Harry Potter to Japan, marking the global expansion of this wildly popular themed entertainment experience that started at Universal Orlando Resort nearly two years ago.
The announcement was made by Glenn Gumpel, President and CEO, Universal Studios Japan; Brad Globe, President, Warner Bros. Consumer Products; and Michael Silver, President, Global Business Development, Universal Parks & Resorts; as well as James and Oliver Phelps, who played the roles of Fred and George Weasley in the Harry Potter film series. Governor of Osaka Ichiro Matsui was the guest of honor at the announcement, which also hosted more than a hundred excited fans dressed in Harry Potter attire who screamed with delight when the announcement was made.
The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios Japan is the result of the creative teamwork and efforts by Universal Studios Japan in conjunction with Warner Bros., which produced and distributed the Harry Potter films, and Universal Parks & Resorts, which oversees Universal Studios theme parks, hotels and resorts throughout the world. It will be as magnificent and as impressive as The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Orlando Resort. Just as in Orlando, The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios Japan will faithfully and authentically bring to life the stories created by J.K. Rowling in her books and captured on screen in Warner Bros.’ films.
The Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Orlando brought significant increases in tourism, jobs and economic benefit to the entire central Florida economy. The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios Japan is also expected to make a significant impact on tourism in both the Osaka/Kansai region and the entire country, creating thousands of new jobs and bringing economic benefits throughout Japan for decades to come.
“I was delighted to experience and enjoy the attention to detail, creativity and superb craft that went into the first Wizarding World in Orlando. I am equally delighted that the same level of expertise and enjoyment will translate to the new park in Japan,” said J.K. Rowling.
“Harry Potter, the most wonderful and amazing story of our time, is coming to Universal Studios Japan. USJ is thrilled to be chosen to make the Harry Potter experience come alive for the people of Japan. USJ is committed to being the world’s best Theme Park and by bringing this brilliant story to Japan and creating a fantastic experience is yet another validation of that commitment,” said Glenn Gumpel, President and CEO of USJ Co., Ltd. “USJ will recreate to the highest level of authenticity, The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, created by Universal Studios in Orlando, which has been enjoyed and cherished by millions and millions of Universal Orlando’s guests. The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – USJ’s commitment to bring the world’s best to life.”
The themed area itself will be a fully immersive environment for the entire family that brings the stories of Harry Potter to life and is faithful to the visual landscape of the films, including a majestic Hogwarts castle which will serve as the centerpiece of the land.
“Harry Potter continues to captivate generations of fans around the world and we are delighted to announce this partnership with Universal Studios Japan that will allow us to bring the magic of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter to Asia,” said Brad Globe, President, Warner Bros. Consumer Products. “The Wizarding World of Harry Potter allows fans to step into the magical world created in the books and witnessed in the films. We think this is the perfectly timed next step in bringing the magical world of Harry Potter to life for even more fans.”
The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios Japan will be similar to the spectacularly themed land at Universal Orlando Resort and will include Hogwarts castle, Hogsmeade and multiple themed attractions. The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios Japan will be created with the same commitment to authenticity and the same high level of talent and resources, including the creative leadership of Stuart Craig, Production Designer for the entire Harry Potter film series.
“The Wizarding World of Harry Potter is an entirely new level of themed entertainment that brings the stories of Harry Potter to life in incredible ways. It will forever change tourism, not only in Kansai but throughout Japan. We are thrilled to be bringing one of the most powerful themed entertainment experiences of our time to Universal Studios Japan, marking the global expansion of this incredible phenomenon, and we are confident that guests will want to return again and again to fully experience all that this fantastic environment will have to offer,” said Michael Silver, President, Global Business Development, Universal Parks & Resorts.
In June 2010, The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Orlando Resort opened and became an instant, unprecedented hit. Since then, Warner Bros. and Universal Parks & Resorts announced that the themed area would be coming to Universal Studios Hollywood, and also that the Orlando location would be significantly expanded. No specific details on either of these plans have yet been announced.

Rise of the Hyper-Themed Land

Competition is fierce in the theme park industry, with the major parks spending hundreds of millions of dollars on new attractions in order to stay ahead. The hottest new trend we’re seeing in the themed attraction industry is the construction of hyper-themed lands at parks. Themed beyond imagination and costing more than ever. Let us explain…. Continue reading