trip planning

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!

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.”

MNSSHP 2013 - 4

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.

MNSSHP 2013 - 2

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.

MNSSHP 2013 - 5

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.
MNSSHP 2013 - 1
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.

MNSSHP 2013 - 6

 
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.

Theme Park Pro Secrets: Tips & Tricks to make your visit amazing

Last time you waited in lines that were too long, spent too much money and simply didn’t enjoy yourself. Here at Theme Park Canuck, our goal is to equip you with everything you could possibly need to become theme park fanatics like we are. We’ve decided to reveal some of our closely guarded secrets & strategies so that you can have the time of your life on your next visit. Continue reading

Sick of Mother Nature? Be like everyone else and yell- I"M GOING TO DISNEY WORLD

Big Red's Disney Bootcamp

Ok, I know I know, it’s been a while since I posted last and I am not going to provide a huge list of excuses. LAZY, just plain and simple.

However, after NEMO has almost passed most of us (yes I find the irony of the name if this 2013 blizzard) it’s time to give in and get going. So, look at your boss, friends and family and say the famous sentence that have been used during the Super Bowl for many years: I’M GOING TO DISNEY WORLD

Now, flights and packages and dining plans have all been touched upon and hundreds of thousands of blogs, you read it all. You know what you’re doing. You have researched, your friends have all been a dozen times and your absolutely SICK of hearing about it. Basically your just tired and SICK OF THE SNOW.
So get going. You have tons of tools at your fingertips…………the point here is just DO IT. You have tons to see, lots of new stuff that everybody has talked about to DEATH. Bottom line, SUN and WARMTH. Your done with shoveling snow, dressing up in a snow suit or the thought of snot falling down your face doesn’t really bring a smile to your face any longer. You long for a nice cold beer, sand in your socks and sandals and thousands of foreigners running around you.
bottles-sam-little-happen
Ok I am SURE that this fruity cocktail ain’t exactly what you were looking for right?
Does THIS show you what you’re looking for? There are PLENTY of awesome spots to visit for a libation of four or five and the mere fact that Disney offers FREE TRANSPORTATION……..WINNING!!
Now, a former cast member would certainly NEVER, EVER promote getting intoxicated but I DO however promote traveling to different Resorts and hot spots to try something tasty.
What about something to treat the senses?
Was this something you were hoping to see? Look, yes it’s Disney and there are tons of children around, but there aren’t the ONLY ONES THERE.
There are a few parents and singles alike that are bopping around the Parks.
What I’m trying to say is that it’s just NOT for families and there are TONS of single people there enjoying everything Disney has to offer and the sun and the sand is inviting you……WHAT THE HECK ARE YOU WAITING FOR??
From brand new Spa’s to Richard Petty’s Driving Experience…..there is truly something for EVERYONE.Wanna watch a hockey game…..I mean seriously just because your NOT in Canada doesn’t mean you CANNOT still enjoy our favorite pass time right?
Oh there’s FOOD…..lots o food. GLORIOUS FOOD.
Are you getting what I am saying? Are you ready to go?
WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR??

After all is said and done, it’s a super fun time, you will thank me later. I’ll be here waiting patiently for your thank you notes.
Seriously……..still waiting…………………..HURRY UP…………………I am drooling here looking at that Filet Mignon from Le Cellier with cream cheese mashed potatoes and I might not be here when the letter carrier shows up.

Until next time folks, I’m off to make some cheddar cheese soup. I think I have a recipe card here somewhere…….

Lisa goes to Walt Disney World

Our good friend Lisa Leeman has just returned from a triumphant escape to the happy place, AKA Walt Disney World. She has kindly prepared a trip report for our readers, including New Fantasyland, Test Track 2.0 and The Legend of Jack Sparrow. Sprinkle some pixie dust and let’s head off to Neverland… Continue reading

Universal Orlando Hidden Gems: Three Broomsticks Outdoor Seating

Brad shares a quiet location to take a break and enjoy the beautiful Florida sunshine outside of the craziness that is The Wizarding World of Harry Potter.

TIP: Grab a Butterbeer at the Hogshead Pub inside the building, and head out the back doors to access the outdoor seating area. Another way is to go down the alleyway right beside the bathrooms past the ATM machine.

What to do at WDW when you don't want to go to a Park?

BLASPHEMY!! Yes, I said that terrible line that no one in their right mind would ever shutter and I should be ashamed of myself. OR SHOULD I? When you have been visiting Disney World for as long as I have, PLUS you are spending the day with a cast member, sometimes, you really don’t want to have lineups and crowds and scooters ramming into you.

So, we decided to do a few things we have not done in a very long time, seems to be a theme for this visit I suspect. Nonetheless, a late afternoon of playtime was exactly what was in store. First though, we had to pick up our shirts for Goofy’s Mystery Tour, more on that next week. 😉  We were bound for Downtown Disney and I was starting to get rumblies in my tumblies…….for two people with Gluten Allergies and we were on Disney property, the choices were endless. We had just visited the Boardwalk last week trying Kouzzina’s for the very first time so we jumped at the opportunity to return to the Boardwalk and head just past Kouzzina’s and grab a bite at the ESPN Club.

Chef Michael came out, we chatted briefly about the afternoon possibilities, my brother Bob & I both going for the Philly Cheese steak sandwich. I have never had one, was briefly IN Philadelphia when I was flying here actually but no cheese steak was consumed. Today was the day, AND it was gluten-free so I was delighted. Not to mention, with the plethora of TV’s inside, we were surrounded by options. Being the great Canadian gal that I am, NHL playoff’s were on, Nashville and Phoenix were having an afternoon game, WHICH Nashville lost may I add…..BOOOO!!! Another time though. Bob was getting into a British “football” game, along with half of the restaurant because there was some pretty spirited guests.
But with lunch over and it was pretty late in the afternoon, I made the recommendation to head over to Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge for some critter time. Now, Bob works at Boma, which is conveniently located inside the Lodge, and when your off work, you want to stay as far away as possible, but he agreed that we would be exploring OUTSIDE and not in.
Kidani- the newest section of the Resort, nestled among the extended Savannah that Disney has created for our incredible creatures. I was extremely excited to see what the extension looked like. I had stayed at the Resort years back, had a Savannah view, but I was about to experience something new. We walked from the Jambo House, the main part of the Lodge to see what was happening. Lush greenery and tropical flowers were with us every step of the way. As we arrived, we ran into a very special friend of mine with whom I never expected to see. One of my leaders from my time working at Le Cellier at the Canadian Pavilion was luckily just transferred over to Animal Kingdom Lodge and as we entered Kidani, Carolyn was square in our sites. I briefly had mentioned to Bob we should have called ahead to see if she was here, but he reassured me that it was late and she was probably gone for the day. To my luck though, she was not, actually JUST heading out the door and my Pixie Dust was working because it was meant to be for sure. Carolyn spotted us before I spotted her as my eyes were adjusting from the light coming side the building. Plus, I was taking a look at my surroundings. What an incredible site it was. Another giant space filled with African inspired artifacts, masks, costumes, animals and some friendly faces indeed.

After my lovely visit and plans for another get together, Bob & I ventured outside to the viewing area to take a closer look. With the guidance of one fascinating cast member from South Africa, we were lead on an amazing journey with some pretty cool guests. Giraffes walking the Savannah in search of snacks was the first thing that caught my eye. Our lovely guide explained the finer points of what they eat and growth. These two little guys were fairly new to the reserve and were growing very nicely. Zebra’s were my next spotting. Did you know that in the wild, when they run, they are grouped together and all you see is flashes of white and black, sometimes brown which confuses predators? Some ostrich’s roamed around as well adding to my delight. It was early evening at this point and the heat of the day starting to retreat and provided us the opportunity to have some great viewings. We traveled up into the library of Kidani which also provided a bird eye view of the Resort. With rooms spanning around the Savannah, no wonder Disney guests and Disney’s Vacation Club Members chose this as their favorite. It was certainly an experience I will not soon forget.

Bob decided as we headed off, said our good byes to our South African cast member who provided us a very special look at Kidani and the Savannah, Jumbo House was our next stop. Now, I have been here many, many times and it brings me such joy to enter. A sprawling Lodge with towering beams with light streaming in every nook and cranny, makes for one impressive entrance. There is one thing to say about the folks from South Africa, they are friendly. I mean they are genuine and continuously smiling and extremely helpful. They are one extremely proud bunch. What a fantastic way for Disney to showcase the culture than to bring in men and women? Seaters, Greeters, Escorts, you name it, they are everywhere and always there with a smile and some interesting information for you.
We took sometime to tour around Jumbo House, which if your still wondering what Jumbo means, in Swahili it means literally Hello or Welcome. Jumbo House, or Welcome House is the front lobby area of Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge. The art is overwhelmingly beautiful, masks and costumes everywhere on display, there are wood carvings and tributes everywhere and trust me, if you get the chance to, skip off to the Lodge and take a peak, you won’t regret my advice.
We needed something to quench our thirst after our trip through the Savannah so we headed over to the Victoria Falls Bar. When you have reservations for either Boma or Jiko at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, you will have the opportunity to walk right past the bar. Everything is downstairs but you have a fantastic chance to meander down towards the restaurants. Beautiful surroundings, waterfalls and rock formations and beautiful wood are everywhere. When we got to the bar, I found that one of my favorite bartenders was working and oh what a surprise was for him.
Dustin is a familiar face behind the bar, he has actually been at the Lodge for some time, although he looks like he isn’t even old enough to be out of school yet. Warm smile and a talent for pulling together something fabulous, he made some pretty inspiring recommendations for us. A spotted lemur was recommended as I have a love for sweet beverages, and my brother had a tasty martini. Dustin and I caught up, the bar was slightly starting to fill up so Bob & I happily sat at the bar chatting and watching the people around us. As we did, we saw one of Bob’s leaders coming upstairs with some pretty exciting news for Dustin.
 You see, at Disney, they want to showcase and recognize their talent, each Month, guests and our peers alike have the opportunity to create magic for the cast. By taking a moment to recognize incredible service, a helping hand or a fantastic experience you have had, Disney offers a Guest Fanatic Award, This is for service excellence and anyone can fill one out. When you do, they go directly to that cast members leader and are then documented in our files and then distributed back to the cast member. Imagine how you would feel receiving this whilst at work? Not only do they do that, but they collect them monthly and award someone extra special. Much like an employee of the month, Disney offers extra special perks for being a Guest Fanatic Monthly Award winner. A prime parking spot, $75 Disney Dollar to be spent anywhere on property and a certificate from the President of Disney and your Area Leaders. You are also thrown into the pot for the yearly draw. I can proudly say, that for the Month of July 2007 I was the Epcot Guest Fanatic Award recipient. Dustin certainly deserved this and I was proud to be there when he was presented his award. Way to go Dustin!!
When we finished our delicious beverages, we said our goodbyes and continued downstairs for another extra special surprise. Another one of my former leaders, Vicki Thompson was also lucky enough to be offered a transfer to the Disney Animal Kingdom Lodge but as an Area Leader in Jiko. We decided it had been far to long since I saw Vicki so we inquired with our friend Rumbi, a greeter at Jiko if she was available. I wanted to surprise her of course so Rumbi was a great sport and offered a diversion to get Miss Vicki to the front of the restaurant. What a great surprise it was. Vicki was delighted to see me, we spent some time chatting and catching up and the offer to share another catch up prior to my departure from Florida was made and we were soon our our way again. Vicki had a fantastic outlook, we shared some amazing laughs and a promise I would see her soon.
All in all, my visit to the Animal Kingdom Lodge was a success. Surprise visits from some truly inspiring women, some awesome animals and to witness someone being recognized for his hard work and determination at work…priceless as they say.There is truly a plethora of things to do outside the actual Parks at Walt Disney World so my question is, where are YOU going to explore today? Your only limits are your imagination. There are so many fun and interesting things to do here, go be inspired yourself.

Now, if you will excuse me, I have an African bottle of wine that needs my attention and photos to go through to remind me of the wicked day I just had. So, until next time, TTFN!!

 

Tracey

What Disney Magic is about…

If you’ve ever questioned or wondered why people love Walt Disney World so much, invest 10 minutes to watch this fantastic video. It captures everything that is awesome about being in that magical place. This is the best gift any guest can give to a Castmember, showcasing how much they loved their trip. If you’ve never been, take a trip to Disney. It’s not a cheap vacation, but it’s worth every penny. You’ll see why in this video:


Here are a few comments left about the video:
“Just wanted to say that I loved your video. I work for Disneyland in California and I saw your video in a class that Disney was giving today. Even thou this was shot in Disney World we all try to give the same Disney service. I also want to thank you for sharing your video, and your family inspires me to go out there and continue giving the best Disney service possible. Thank You”
“I am a Disney Cast Member,and can I just speak for us all when I say most of us are in tears watching this video. We spend SO much time and effort making guests happy not because it’s a job,but because95%of Disney Cast Members ACTUALLY care about every single guest that comes through that front gate! Seeing videos like this make us feel like we’ve actually made a difference in someone’s life.The Disney company motto is”Creating Happiness…”and I’d like to thankyou for helping us realize our dream!”
“Our trip last May was expensive at first blush. When we were leaving, I said (and I still say today) that was best $2,000 (up front, not including travel) I’ve ever spent in my life. I’m so glad we did it and we are going back again at the en of this year. Beautiful family you have, congratulations!”
 
 

Must have items for any Disney Trip

MARCH BREAK ALERT- you’ve decided to book your trip, you’ve done your research and you have everything all paid for but now your left with last-minute details which of course includes the possible disastrous task of PACKING!!! Now I realize that this could be a daunting task, and really, do you know WHAT to pack? Please remember that this is NOT the list for folks WITH small children ok, that one will come later.  Here are the top 10 items I recommend bringing for your trip to Disney: Continue reading