Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Whats New at Disney?

So, I'm going to start to post some information that I get through the official channels about what is new and what's happening at Disney for those who are interested.  All of the info will be public, but if you would like more information, message me and I'll see what I can find out.

New Restaurants at Disney Springs
In the one of the first of many new re-design elements for the former Downtown Disney are at Walt Disney World, Disney has announced new restaurants going in that will add to the new allure of the reimagined area.  Masaharu Morimoto, otherwise known as Iron Chef Morimoto from Iron Chef America, is opening a restaurant called Morimoto Asia, featuring cuisine from across the continent.  Also opening will be a seafood restaurant featuring an extensive raw bar, to be called The BOATHOUSE.  Both restaurants will be opening in 2015

Sorcerer Hat to be removed from Hollywood Studios
In a stunning least for this Disney Super Freak...Disney will be removing the iconic Mickey Sorcerer Hat from the middle of the plaza in Hollywood Studios.  There is no word yet as to what will take it's place.  I've even seen a mock up with Olaf from Frozen front and center.  I'll keep you posted on that one.

I'm sad to see it go.  I remember when Hollywood Studios first was called MGM Studios.  I even have a pin from back then!  The Sorcerer hat was the icon that everyone looked to.  I know, I know...growth is good...and with Disney's desire to continually reimagine everything to better the guest, I'm in no doubt that this move will prove to be great too...but I, for one, will shed a tear.

That's all for now...check back and I'll be sure to keep you updated!

Monday, April 28, 2014

Disney Parks and the SmartPhone....a Match Made in Heaven!

So, very few of us, especially those who travel, do so without some form of SmartPhone or tablet in tow.  From iPhones to iPads, Google Tablets to Galaxys, the smart technology available to help our daily lives is prolific in almost every facet of our existence.  Is that such a good thing?  That remains to be seen...but as a practical matter, the smart technology can help you in so pretty spectacular ways.

Today, I'm going to talk briefly....VERY briefly....on the smart technology available to you for your next Disney vacation, whether that is to one of the parks, a cruise, or Aulani Resort.

First off, let's talk a bit about the actual technology.  I am certainly no techno-wizard (my friend Matt is who I use for all my tech questions....and he's a fellow Disney Super Freak too!!), but you can't help but become familiar with certain technologies that are available through your every day life.  I will not touch much on any one piece of technology, as there are too many to go into.  I'll just refer to them by their generic names of SmartPhone, Tablet, Laptop, etc.

For any of these technologies to perform, there must be a certain amount of familiarity with the functionality of each one...but I'm no expert, so I won't be touching much on that.  I'll ask you to refer to your specific item's manual for that. BUT...and this is a big but....the basic building block for all of the smart technologies is the application.  There are many available, but how do you know which ones are good, and which ones are best...and which ones you don't want to bother with.

The short answer don't!  It's a basic trial-and-error situation, and, like most things in life, I find that this is one of the better ways to navigate.  To accomplish this, it basically boils down to what you are willing to do to try something.  Many of the apps are free, but some are paid.  Are the paid ones worth the cost?  Maybe...maybe not.  Others who have purchased can give you some insight through reviews and the like, but, unfortunately, there is no substitute for just getting in there and figuring things out on your own.

At this point, I feel it's necessary to state that I am in no way affiliated with any of the apps I'm going to share, nor do I get any benefit from recommending them.  I am just going to list the ones I've used (through that handy dandy trial and error again) and whether or not I think they will help you in your Disney travels.

  My favorite app, hands down, is the Undercover Tourist App, available on both iOS and Android platforms.  This app features both a free and paid version of the app, and is available for not only Disney, but other attractions as well.  The features I find most helpful with this app are the crowd calendar, reservation organizer, wait times, and, most importantly, the friend finder.  Their website ( has a plethora of fantastic information, a great blog, and links to helpful tools as well as the apps available.  My recommendation is to purchase the paid app...the functionality is much more abundant on the paid version, and, in my opinion, very worth the cost.

As far as free apps go, there are many available.  WDW Wait Times, Tink's Favorites, WDW Ride Tracker, and many others can provide you with information that will help you with your trip, as well as to help organize your visit once in the parks.  A simple search on any device will show you the apps available.

For Disney World, the most important application to get currently is the My Disney Experience app.  With the inclusion of RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) tags in tickets as well as the MyMagic wristbands, this app is a true MUST HAVE for anyone going to Disney.  You can track all aspects of your trip with this app, from FastPass selections to dining reservation, from ride times, to maps, from menus to transportation schedules.  You can even use this app to make changes and manage your entire vacation from one place.  It's available for the iOS devices as well as Android and available from the app stores.

Recently, Disney Cruise Lines began to offer their own app to use onboard their vessels.  This app, much like the My Disney Experience app, allows the user to manage most aspects of their cruise vacation directly from their smart device, and includes such things as daily schedules, menus, excursions, ship information, and communications.  It's free and available, again, for iOS as well as Android through the app stores.

I know I've only touched on a few basic ones.  There are many more out there.  Please feel free to comment and let me know which ones you like best.  I'd love to get them and review them on future blog posts. 

For now, have a magical week! 


Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Kingdom Keepers - Free E-Book Download

For those unfamiliar with this series of books, this is one of the most entertaining series I've read since The Hunger Games!  The concept (without giving too much away) is that Disney has invented these DHI, Disney Host Interactives (or Disney Holographic Images) that are meant to help guests navigate Disney World and ultimately all the parks.  These DHI's are teenagers that will be able to answer the questions guests will have and take them where they need to go.  The real models for the DHI's end up going on some amazing adventures because it just so happens that when the real people go to sleep, they wake up in their holographic state inside the parks!  Their job is to help the Imagineers to fight a long going battle with the evil characters from Disney (Maleficent, Scar, Jafar, The Pirates, etc.) and keep them from taking over the parks. 

Anyway, I could blog much more on it, but I don't want to give too much away.

My main purpose with this very short blog post today is to let everyone know that the first of the 6 books of The Kingdom Keepers is available for free download from Amazon on your Kindle or compatible device (currently....3/26/14).  It's well worth the read, but be careful!'ll be hooked and need to read the other 5 books!

Have a Magical Day!!

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Don't Be Afraid to Cruise!!

I know that there has been a plethora of bad press involving cruising, cruise ships, and the cruise industry of late, involving everything from ships running aground to illnesses onboard the vessels.  I wanted to address a few of the concerns that I've had some of my clients express to me.

Aside from being a travel professional working in the industry, I've had extensive experience traveling all over the world.  because of the work my father did with Texas A&M University, I've had the amazing opportunity to travel to such places as Singapore, Japan, China, Venezuela, Russia, Australia, England, Africa, and Malaysia, as well as extensive travel all over the United States.  Additionally, I've traveled with family to the Caribbean, Mexico, The Netherlands, France, and more trips for meetings with my dad to Hawaii than I can count.  It's safe to say I've experienced almost every travel scenario you can think of, from an emergency landing flying out of Miami, to getting delayed in customs in Japan because of an oversight by one of my father's agents in Tokyo.

One of the thing's I've come to realize is that there is no perfect trip.  No matter what planning you do ahead of time, there are bound to be issues ranging from being a target of crime (my dad was pick-pocketed in Brazil), to the annoyance of lost luggage.

Of course, certain situations provide a certain amount of assumed risk, such as cruising.  The dangers are obvious that most don't even think of them.  The reason that those risks aren't thought of is that all of the cruise lines that are operating have taken steps to eliminate that risk as much as possible.  The news of late involve the risks that none of us (either the passengers or the cruise line itself) could predict.  Mechanical failure, illness, weather, and many other factors will all combine (in some cases) to provide a hardship on a cruise vacation.  It sounds so simple, but sometimes you just have to trust that things will go right. That is certainly the case with cruising.

Really, it all boils down to numbers.  The news of ships being stranded, illnesses happening to cancel a cruise, hurricanes bearing down and cutting a cruise short, or, Heaven forbid, a ship running aground and sinking, are all sensational stories.  Just like plane crashes, or amusement park accidents, these situations make news because they just don't happen very often.  As far as cruising goes, millions....yes MILLIONS of people cruise every year, either on large ocean-going vessels, or smaller inland ships (river cruises).  Some have even decided to spend their lives on the water and live on a cruise ship (Check out the Residensea at ).  The number of incidents to the number of people who have fantastic voyages certainly prove that cruising is a safe, affordable, and, well, magical way to spend your hard earned vacation dollars and time. 

In short, don't let the bad press deter you from looking to cruise for your next vacation.  Of course, I'm partial to Disney Cruises, but any of the companies will provide you with a fantastic vacation, one that will give you and your family years of memories.

Until next time,


Wednesday, January 15, 2014

I'm Back!

After a short hiatus, I'm back at my desk and will begin weekly blog entries shortly.  I apologize to those following, or those who were looking for more info.  I promise that I'll get things going ASAP!!  I hope everyone had a Magical holiday season, and that everyone is looking forward to a wonderful Disney Year!!

See you at WDW!!