walt disney world

Avatar Rumours, Tech & Construction

Avatar Land

First we had the flying dragon tests….now we have interactive plants.

The new Avatar themed land at Walt Disney World’s Animal Kingdom Park looks to have some amazing technology in the works to help create the most realistic experience ever. An article was posted on Engadget last week and points to some interesting technology from DIsney Research that allows human touch to interact with plants.

Will this tech be used as part of the Avatar hyper-themed land? We’re not sure. Either way, count on more interesting news to surface as this project begins its first bit of preparation and construction according to Screamscape. An internal memo sent from Joe Rohde mentioned August 3, 2012 as the first day of on-site construction work for “Pandora – The World of Avatar”. People have also been seeing height balloons over Animal Kingdom. Let the Pandoramonium begin!
 

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

Tom Sawyer Island Adventures

Well, here’s a first……..I went to Tom Sawyer Island for the very first time!! Yup, you heard me. Now, I pride myself on being a Disney expert of sorts but when you’re admitting you haven’t DONE something in the Park I feel as though I must explain myself. Continue reading

New Fantasyland Opening Dates announced!

Under the Sea ~ Journey of The Little Mermaid

We’re so excited to hear today that the completed Dueling Dumbo’s and interactive queue line along with Casey Jr. Splash ‘N’ Soak Station will open in July, followed by everything else in the New Fantasyland opening by Holiday 2012. The exception being the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train which is still the wild card. Read all the details below:

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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

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!”
 
 

Big Red in Florida- Storybook Circus

Our resident Disney expert Tracey hopped on a jet plane down to Orlando. We’re not sure when she’s coming back, which can only mean one thing: Lot’s of updates on all that is the Disney theme parks, direct from the source! Check out the video below, where she gives us a quick look at the Storybook Circus area of the Magic Kingdom.

Working in a Theme Park series: Walt Disney World

The famous lumberjack costume

As I’ve mentioned before, I have worked in a few theme parks over the years. I’ve decided to showcase each of these experiences in a new series called Working In A Theme Park. I’m starting with this article on Walt Disney World, with Cedar Point and Canada’s Wonderland coming soon. Let me know what you think 🙂

This is going to be a long one… Grab yourself that XL Double-Double and bowl of Cheerios, it’s time to take a trip with me as I detail my journey to working for the Mouse. As anyone who knows me can tell you, I am the ultimate Disney fan. Ever since I was a kid, Mickey Mouse and Walt Disney were idols of mine. I decided at a young age that I wanted to work at Walt Disney World, and I made it happen. Here is my story: Continue reading