There is a lot of report in the world of Disney this week. New changes to DCL and WDW. If you know of something else that needs to be listed here, feel free to comment and let me know!

Disney Cruise News
  • Disney Cruise Line has a brand new, enhanced online check-in process. Cruisers will be able to input more information at home before cruise time. This will allow a smoother check-in at the port. If you have an upcoming cruise be sure you check it out - https://disneycruise.disney.go.com/planning-center/my-online-check-in/
  • In addition to the new online process, Disney Cruise Line has started assigning port arrival times. This is a big change from what Disney  has done in the past. Each cruisers will be assigned a time to arrive during the online check-in process. You will have a choice of available times. This new feature does not apply to concierge or Platinum guests.
  • As a reminder, Guests are given access to “My Online Check-in” as follows:
  1. Concierge and Platinum Castaway Club: 120 days in advance
  2. Gold Castaway Club: 105 days in advance
  3. Silver Castaway Club: 90 days in advance
  4. First Time Cruiser: 75 days in advance


Disney World news
  • Tomorrow, February 4, 2011, marks the last day for the Velcro show at Innoventions West in Epcot. "What's Your Problem?" will be replaced but at this time nothing has been reported for its replacement. If you are like me, you have fond memories of this show - even as hokey as it was! :o)  During our August 2010 trip, my older boys were chosen to be in the show. I laughed and laughed at them as they tried to build a block tower with Velcro blocks.
  • "The Magic, the Memories and You", the new projection show at Disney World and Disneyland, has begun. This high-tech show begins about 15 minutes before Wishes and displays up to 500 guest pictures onto Cinderella's Castle (Disney World). While this new show has met a lot of criticism, I think it's probably a "have to see in person to appreciate" situation. Let the Memories Begin!
  • The Flower Power Concert Series (part of the 2011 Epcot Flower & Garden Festival) begins March 2 and runs through May 15, 2011. Here's the tentative line-up.
March 4-6 - Jose Feliciano
March 11-13 - The Guess Who
March 18-20 - Chubby Checker & The Wildcats
March 25-27 - Melissa Manchester
April 1-3 - Starship Starring Mickey Thomas
April 8-10 - Marilyn McCoo & Billy Davis Jr.
April 15-17 - Juice Newton
April 22-24 - The Nelsons
April 29-May 1 - Paul Revere and the Raiders
May 6-8 - Davy Jones
May 13-15 - Herman's Hermits Starring Peter Noone


Disney's Aulani Resort
  • Many people are still unaware of Disney's new Hawaiian resort. Due to open in August 2011, this resort will bring the magic of Disney to Hawaii. And Disney has created it with as much class and uniqueness as possible.
  • "When Guests visit Aulani they may notice playful figures, known as Menehune, hiding around the resort. According to Hawaiian legend, the little Menehune (men-neh-HOO-nay) are shy folk who come out mostly at night. They are said to be gifted, possibly magical, craftspeople."
Need information on Disney Cruise Line, Disney World, Disneyland or Aulani? Let me help - contact me today.

 
When visiting Disney World which park do you go to first? I ask because most families have a game plan, especially if you've been before.

I've come to the realization that visiting the Magic Kingdom before any of the other parks is the way to go. At least for me. The sight of Cinderella's Castle makes the whole trip seem more real. And even though I'm "old" by some standards, the Magic Kingdom is one of my favorite parks.

A few years ago we took our two oldest boys to the World for a few nights. The first park we went to upon our arrival was Animal Kingdom. Now I really enjoy Animal Kingdom and it's uniqueness, but there was something missing being there first. Maybe because it's the newest park at Disney World it doesn't offer too many childhood memories - well, zero actually - whereas the other parks I can relate to because I remember being there as a kid.

For our trip in December 2009 I made sure we visited the Magic Kingdom first thing. It was dark and the castle was glowing beautifully with it's icicle lights - quite a sight! And one unlike I'd seen before as this was my first trip during the holiday season. Walking down the bustling Main Street felt great and it was as if I was home again.

With everything else in my life I have traditions and specific ways of doing things. Disney is no different. I really must see the castle before my vacation begins!
 
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When my husband and I decided to give cruising a try I was a bit skeptical. The whole idea of a big ship with lots of people and no where to escape made me a little nervous. We booked a 3 night cruise on the Disney Wonder and I jumped into the planning stages to see what it was all about. I was excited and apprehensive at the same time.

After months of finding out all there was to know, we stepped onto the ship and all of my worries washed away. As soon as the cast member announced "Welcome aboard the Sykora family!" I was a mushy puddle. What was it about those five words that made me feel so warm and fuzzy inside? Walking into the atrium on the Wonder was simply awe inspiring. And at that moment I knew Disney Cruise Line would be an important part of my life from then on.

Since that first trip in March 2007 my family has cruised two more times on DCL. Our trip in February 2009 on the Disney Magic was my favorite. It was a 7 night Western and we couldn't have asked for better weather, better service or better company. The only thing I would change was how fast it flew by!

My kids (I have 3 boys) still talk about our trip that was almost a full year ago. We still refer to our wonderful servers - Vlado and Gerry. We remember the shows, the islands, the fireworks, and of course, the food. Escargot. Shrimp. Pastries. Pizzas. Mickey Ice Cream bars. Steak. Lobster. Plate after plate of delicious delicacies that my family indulged in hour after hour. Amazingly enough, we didn't pack on the pounds because we stayed so busy the entire week!

I think it's a natural instinct to keep coming back to something that you love. Since we've had such great experiences on our Disney cruises we will continue to cruise with Disney. There's nothing wrong with other cruise lines, but if someone asks why we choose Disney the answer is simple. We love it.

If you're teetering on the edge of making the decision to cruise, just do it. Whether it's Disney Cruise Line or Carnival or Royal Caribbean, give it a try. You may find that it's the best vacation you've ever had!

 
When my husband and I first started thinking about taking our first child to Disney World we always said "We'll wait until he's old enough to remember." This seems to be what a lot of parents say when asked if they'll visit Disney World with their infant, toddler or preschooler.

We sorta stood by our original plans. We took our son about a week before his 3rd birthday. It turned out to be perfect timing in many ways. And it opened up my eyes to why it's a good idea to take kids prior to the magical age of "when they'll remember". Plain and simple - we, as parents, deserve to have memories too.

Looking back on that very brief trip we took with an almost 3 year old, I have fond memories that I otherwise would not have if we'd waited until the perfect age. I remember him sitting in Chef Mickey's with his special birthday place mat, smiling from ear to ear as Mickey and Minnie came by to hug and kiss him. I remember him riding the Tower of Terror, holding on to me for dear life. I remember him swimming in the pool at the All-Star Music Resort on the morning we had to head home because we had promised him the entire trip that he could swim and this was the only slow moment we'd had. All of these memories hold a special place in my heart.

If you ask him what he remembers about our short stint at Disney that week, you'll quickly see that he does not have many memories of the trip. But what little he does remember is enough to make me smile. His memories are similar to mine. Eating macaroni and cheese at Chef Mickey's and screaming his head off on the Tower of Terror. Great minds think alike?

It does not bother me that his memory is limited to such a small portion of our trip. Because my husband and I remember. And we have stories to share with him for the rest of our lives. That makes it all worth it.