Q & A with an avid Disney fan

My cousin visited Walt Disney World last month with her husband and four children. She has visited the World many times over the years and with each visit she rekindles the same magic she experienced as a child. I asked her a few questions about how she experiences Disney, which park she finds to be adult-friendly, etc. Her answers really did not surprise me at all. Disney is truly a magical place for kids of all ages whether you’re 3 or 103 there is something for everyone.

Q: On your last visit to “the World” did you notice adults or children enjoying themselves more?

The last time I was there I saw children enjoying themselves more. However, there was one night that stuck with me. We were waiting to watch “Wishes” and a man standing behind me said, “I have waited for this for so long. I have chills!! I feel like a kid!!”

Q: Which of the four theme parks do you find to be the most adult friendly?

EPCOT

Q: What is your favorite experience Disney offers for adults only?

A relaxing trip to the Spa!

Q: Thinking back to all your visits, do you enjoy Disney more now as an adult or did you prefer your visits during your youth?

I enjoy the visits more as an adult. I appreciate the hotel, the food, the atmosphere so much more.

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Vera Bradley and Disney collaboration

vera bradley disneyDisney Parks merchandising  recently unveiled some of the products being released for the upcoming Fall collection. Among these items are the newest addition to Disney’s designer handbag collection. Vera Bradley has partnered with Disney, incorporating everyone’s favorite Mickey and Minnie Mouse into their famous floral fabric prints. In the past years we have seen collaborations with Dooney & Bourke, Lesportsac, and Harvey’s. The bags will be released this fall. I expect these bags to fly off the selves, just as their other handbag collaborations have.

4 must-see’s at Disney World

1. Wishes nighttime spectacular: watch Tinker Bell soar high above the Magic Kingdom in the nightly fireworks spectacular featuring Cinderella Castle as the main character.

2. The Magic of Disney Animation: 30 minute drawing class with a Disney animator: located at Disney’s Hollywood Studios inside the Magic of Disney Animation building is a small drawing studio that welcomes park guests to join a Disney animator in drawing one of the classic storybook characters. This event is free with theme park admission.

3. Drink around the world: For park guests 21 and over: Beginning at the Mexico Pavilion located in the World Showcase at EPCOT and finishing at the Canada Pavilion. Get a taste of some of the worlds finest imported alcohol from each country represented in the World Showcase. Guests are responsible for fitting the bill as it is not included in the theme park admission price.

4. Maharajah Jungle Trek: Located in Disney’s Animal Kingdom, this is a self-guided tour leading you into a Southeast Asian jungle. Along the way you will encounter tigers, bats, and Kimono dragons.

The Disney Store for adults

Unfortunately my travels this spring break did not take me to sunny Florida and Walt Disney World but I just could not stay away from the magic so I paid a visit to one of The Disney Store locations in New England at the Pheasant Lane Mall in Nashua, NH.

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I remember The Disney Store at my local mall as a child but it had been awhile since I had stepped foot into one. It was a totally different experience looking around the store as an adult. Everything still looked the same except for one thing: about 90% of the store is just for children.

There are very few adult offerings. I did find some adult tees for men and women with various Disney characters and sayings on them. disney store 2 disney store 3

One of the specials that was going on at the time of my visit was on adult drinkware: $9 each when you buy 2 or more. disney store 5 disney store 6disney store 4

There were also women’s pajamas on the SALE wall marked down from Valentine’s Day.

For the tech savvy adults, Disney has a line of Snow White themed iPad and iPhone cases that were just recently released. disney store 7

Stress-free day at Magic Kingdom

magic kingdomOn any given day the Magic Kingdom park tends to be the busiest of the four theme parks in Walt Disney World. As it is my favorite park, I find myself spending most of my vacation time there. Since it is the busiest, I have learned several methods over the years on how-to create a less-stressful visit to the Magic Kingdom. It is not easy battling all of the strollers while you are “walking right down the middle of Main Street USA” but I’m hoping these tips will help make that experience more magical for you.

Tip 1. If the park is scheduled for a 9 a.m. rope drop (a rope does not actually drop, its just what us Disney enthusiasts like to call park opening) then arrive at least 30 minutes prior. Sometimes I find myself arriving even an hour early because I enjoy the Good Morning show performed every morning. It is a singing a dancing spectacular featuring the Mayor of Main Street and the Main Street dancers along with Mickey and friends who select a “family of the day” to help them open the park. By arriving early you could have that chance to open the park with Mickey. *Bonus tip: If you are staying at any of the Disney- owned and operated resorts on-property, you should definitely take advantage of Extra Magic Hours. Times and parks vary, but check the guide maps given to you upon check in and you can gain access to the park offering EMH that day (either 1 hour before general opening or three hours after general closing).

Tip 2. Start at the back of the park. Most guests head straight through Cinderella Castle and into Fantasyland or to their right into Tomorrowland the second the park opens. Instead of following the crowd, bear left into Adventureland and work backwards. Adventureland is home to Pirates of the Carribean and The Jungle Cruise, some of Walt Disney’s most famous attractions. Once you have finished in Adventureland, move on to Frontierland to ride Splash Mountain and Big Thunder Mountain. These are two of Disney’s most famous attractions and if you visit them first they should have little to no wait time. *Bonus tip: Take advantage of Disney’s FastPass service, which is free with your theme park admission. At many of Disney’s most popular rides and attractions you will find FastPass kiosks. Simply insert your park ticket and you will receive a FastPass with a one hour time window to return to ride with little to no wait. During that wait period, be prepared to visit another attraction or grab a bite to eat.

Tip 3. Eat lunch or dinner earlier than you normally would. Restaurants typically begin serving lunch around 11 a.m. To avoid crowded eating areas and lines, I recommend arriving when the restaurant opens. If you prefer a quiet dinne,r then be prepared to eat around 4:30 or even 9pm right before the restaurant closes. *Bonus tip: If you plan on dining at one of Disney’s table service signature restaurants, such as California Grill atop Disney’s Contemporary Resort, do not forget to book an Advanced Dining Reservation at least 180 days in advance.

Tip 4. If you plan on viewing the 3 p.m. parade and would like a good viewing spot arrive anywhere along the parade route at least 45 minutes before the start of the parade. I also recommend viewing the parade towards the end of the route as most guests tend to gather towards the beginning of the parade route. *Bonus tip: If you don’t plan on watching the parade, it is a great time to ride attractions in Fantasyland.

Your day at the Magic Kingdom should be nothing but one of the happiest experiences of your life. I hope these tips can help ease any anxiety you may have and let you be a kid again.

Dole Whip with rum… what?

dolewhipfloatcrOn Wednesday March 6, the Epcot International Flower and Garden show will begin. It is the 20th season Epcot has hosted the festival. This year the festival will also include an array of  cocktails and hors d’oeurves.  One of the most famous edible treats that Disney enthusiasts look forward to during their visits to the World is the Dole Whip. It is vanilla or pineapple soft serve infused with the delectable flavor of Dole pineapple. This treat can be found exclusively at Aloha Isle located in the Adventureland section of the Magic Kingdom. For a limited time during the Flower and Garden Festival, the Dole Whip is making its way over to Epcot with a new twist…spiced rum.  The special treat will only be available until May 19, 2013 although Disney is known for extending their magic for a little bit longer. If this new twist on a Disney Parks classic is popular I would not be surprised if it remains a staple of the Epcot theme park. I don’t see this treat making its way into the Magic Kingdom as there is a strict limit on alcoholic beverages specifically in the Magic Kingdom. Currently the only place alcohol can be purchased is at Be Our Guest restaurant.  Of course this treat will only be available for those 21 and older and with proper identification.

Safer alternative to a spring break get-a-way

According to a list from U.S. News Travel on Yahoo, the top 10 destinations for spring break get-a-ways were:

1. Miami, Fla.
2. South Padre Island, Texas
3. Cancun, Mexico
4. Puerto Vallarta, Mexico
5. Bahamas
6. Puerto Rico
7. Jamaica
8. Cabo San Lucas, Mexico
9. Playa del Carmen, Mexico
10. Sanibel Island, Fla.
   I was surprised to find that Walt Disney World was not on this list. Although Disney is not the first destination that pops into the mind of a college student due to the stigma that it is only for those traveling with children, Walt Disney World could provide the college student on a budget with a safer and more enjoyable spring break than if they were to take part in the stereotypical MTV Spring Break somewhere on a beach in Mexico.
   Many of the top 10 spring break destinations also made USA Today‘s list of most dangerous spring break destinations based on the cities violent crime, murder, and car crash rates. As a vacationer on the Disney property, staying safe is not something you need to worry about. Although the cities outside of the resort are not the safest, Disney goes above and beyond with its efforts to ensure its guest that their safety will not be compromised.
   Some may have the idea that a WDW vacation may not fit into their budget but Disney actually can be affordable if you know where to look. If you stay at a Disney owned and operated resort (rooms starting at $85 per night) you have access to all amenities provided to its guests such as free transportation to and from the airport and around the resort. As a guest of any of the Disney owned and operated resorts, you can gain access to additional park hours only available to those with a valid “Key to the World”.
So for example if you were to travel to WDW with four friends from school here is what you could expect to pay:
  1 week: 6 nights/7 days
  1 standard room at a Disney Value Resort
  Quick Service Dining Plan
  7 day Park Hopper ticket (admission to all 4 parks each day)
   and flight options
        grand total: about $4,500 and split four ways $1,125
If you were to go to say Cancun, Mexico with four friends here is what you could expect to pay: (does not include food and other expenses)
  1 week: 6 nights/7 days
  1 standard room: The Westin Resort and Spa
  rental car
  and flight options
          grand total: about $5,100 and split four ways $1,284
On average a meal costs $20 and you will be eating about 2 a day ($20 x 2 x 7 = $280) and about $200 for alcoholic beverages for a grand total of                                                                            $1, 764
So go ahead… and experience the “most magical spring break” you’ll ever have by visiting the Walt Disney World Resort in Lake Buena Vista, FL.