Archives for April 2014

Christmas Time at Walt Disney World

Castle

We are continuing our holiday series with a look at Christmastime at Walt Disney World! Have you ever considered spending the holidays at one of the happiest place on earth? We caught up with the busy O family after their trip to Disney World this last December, and talked with them about the highlights of a holiday trip. They also have some great tips for any family thinking about planning a trip.

Epcot

PS Ears: When did you visit Disney World?

December 13-20 2013

PS Ears: What ages were your kids when you took your vacation?

13, 11, 8, 5

PS Ears: How many days were you at the parks? Was it enough time for you or not?

We had a 5-day park pass. Yes, we had plenty of time.

PS Ears: Where did you stay? Would you stay there again?

We stayed off property at Orange Lake Resort. Yes, we would stay there again.

PS Ears: Were there any challenges or advantages to staying off property from Disney World?

The biggest challenge for us staying on Disney Property was the size of our family. The cost was too much because we would need a larger room or 2 rooms. It would have been wonderful and more convenient but our place was VERY close to Disney Property. We were able to get to the resort and park and get into the park very quickly. Not a problem at all.

Castle2

PS Ears: Would you visit Disney World at Christmas time again?

Yes, we would visit again before Christmas but not in between Christmas or New Years.

PS Ears: How long did it take you to plan and book your trip?

13 years – just kidding!  Over a year only because we were deciding on the time to go and where to stay and if we should do Disneyland or DisneyWorld

PS Ears: What were some special experiences from your trip that you loved?

We loved every park and had a magical time at each one. I think it is because everything was new and a fun adventure.

OsbourneLights

PS Ears: What were some special Christmas experiences/attractions/events that you would say visitors should definitely see?

We loved the Christmas parades and just the feeling there around Christmas. Magic Kingdom did something that my kiddos liked –the princesses all handed out Christmas cards when you met them and they were already signed!

MainStreetParada

PS Ears: What were your children’s favorite things – by age?

Our daughter, age 13-Animation Academy, Rockin Roller Coaster, Big Thunder, Toy Story Mania
Our daughter, age 11- Expedition Everest, Rockin Roller Coaster, Toy Story Mania
Our son, age 8- Animation Academy, Rockin Roller Coaster, Toy Story Mania
Our daughter, age 5- Meeting the princesses, Splash Mountain, Toy Story Mania

PS Ears: What things would you do different next time?

It would be really nice to stay on Disney Property and see what that includes. The Magic Bands would have been cool, not too have been so rushed.

parade

PS Ears: What challenges did you experience? What could make those better next time?

The dining at the parks was tricky because you couldn’t do last minute. You had to make a reservation 24 hours in advance. So if you didn’t know where to eat and you were only at that park for one day you were in trouble getting in to eat ANYWHERE. Also, we had our picture taken everywhere by the PhotoPass people but we never were able to see them. I had trouble retrieving them from the cards and the website and customer service didn’t help. I wonder if I would have paid for this service it would have been better.

PS Ears: What tips/advice would you give families planning a trip to Disney World during Christmas time?

Go before Christmas, get the Disney World apps for your phone. It helped a lot with wait times. Talk to someone who has been there before and can help you navigate the whole Fast Pass thing.

RockinRoller

If you are interested in planning a Disney World vacation for this December, now is a great time to start planning and booking! Our pals at Destinations in Florida can help you plan and book your Christmas trip! Disney World is very magical for the holidays and it books up quickly!

If you are interested in Disneyland during Christmas time, check out our post all about Disneyland during the holidays.

*Some photos provided by Disney World News

MyMagic+ Updates and Other Disney News

MagicBandScanner

MyMagic+ and FastPass+ Update

MyMagic+ had some recent updates for guests, including some much needed improvements to their FastPass+ system. Some of the updates to MyMagic+ and Magic Bands include offering bands to one-day guests as well as guests staying off property. Magic Bands are also now available in all different colors, designs and character themes. The one aspect of MyMagic+ that has had a lot of controversy and complaints, is the FastPass+. Each guest was only allowed to schedule 3 FastPass+ at one park each day. Disney has eliminated all paper Fast Passes in the Disney World parks, and guests with Magic Bands were not allowed to add any additional FastPasses to their bands.

Disney recently announced they will allow guests with FastPass+ to add additional FastPasses at the parks with their Magic Bands using one of the park kiosks. A fourth Fast Pass can be added once the three scheduled Fast Passes have been used, and a fifth after the fourth has been used. This will also be valid if you park hop to another Disney park. Guest will be able to add additional Fast Passes at the second park.

While these changes are a great step toward improvement, we are hoping more changes will be happening to the Fast Pass system to make this an even better addition to a Disney vacation. We will keep you updated as things continue to change!

Walt Disney World Updates

SevenDwarf

The new Seven Dwarfs Mine Train ride will be officially dedicated on May 2nd and begin opening to guests soon after! This is the newest ride to be added to the resort as well as the New Fantasyland area of Magic Kingdom. Disney has released several sneak peek videos for guests to enjoy watching before the actually ride is open. Here is one of them:

Disney World Celebrates Earth Day! Animal Kingdom will have special merchandise throughout the month of April to celebrate Earth Day on April 22. They also had a special party for Earth day at Rafiki’s Planet Watch with interactive games and special activities. Through April 26th, there will be face painters and caricature artists. Green merchandise was featured for the opening of Disneynature’s “Bears”. One dollar from the sale of a safari-costumed Duffy and Amber from “Bears” will be donated to the National Park Foundation.

Special Muppet Mission in Epcot World Showcase: Take part in a Muppet scavenger hunt to celebrate the new film. “Muppets Most Wanted”, in theaters now. In the Great Constantine Caper, your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to travel World Showcase in search of Muppets ­related items to track down and capture the evil villain from the film, Constantine. The journey starts at Showcase Plaza, where you can pick­up a clue packet (great, free souvenir!) and begin your trip through two separate missions: one through German and Italy, concluding in the America Adventure pavilion, or the other through the United Kingdom, France, and concluding in the American Adventure pavilion. Find fun gags typical of the Muppets and capture Constantine before being inducted as an official agent of the Muppet Bureau of Investigation (MBI).

MuppetAdventure

Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival Continues! This popular festival will continue until May 18th with special presentations taking place daily. April included performances from The Grass Roots as well as HGTV Designers at the Designer’s Stage – April had a visit from John Gidding from the show “Curb Appeal”.

Polynesian Resort still undergoing construction and refurbishment: The current areas under refurbishment include the parking lot, the Great Ceremonial Hall, Sunset Pointe, The Never Land Club, portions of the beach and Capt. Cook’s. Moana Mickey’s Arcade is permanently closed. Capt. Cook’s temporary location is near the stairwell below ‘Ohana and they are serving a modified menu (see photos). There are no Dole Whip soft-serve machines at this location. Their new location will reopen this summer. From the beach, you can see the new DVC over-water bungalows being constructed.

PolyDVC

CaptCookMenu1 CaptCookMenu2

Cinderella’s Castle “Facelift” Complete: The cranes have been removed and the repainting of Cinderella’s castle is complete. The turrets have a new blue shine to them and the castle looks fresh and new!

CastleUpdate

Changes in Progress at Magic Kingdom “Hub”: According to the Disney Parks Blog, “We’re adding several new elements to the area, including sculpted gardens, additional pathways, expanded restaurant seating and even a special viewing area for fireworks and other performances.” Other enhancements will include new trees and more landscaping in the Central Plaza area. To make it easier to move around, two additional pathways will be built around the plaza. Also, seating outside of Casey’s Corner and The Plaza restaurant will nearly double in size. This multi­phase enhancement project has already begun and it’ll be completed in 2015. Casey’s Corner seating has already been increased. The castle moats were drained in preparation for construction but they have been refilled with dyed blue­green waters. Cosmic Ray’s Starlight Cafe’s formerly outdoor seating is now enclosed and Swan Boat Landing has been removed. Also, The Hub popcorn cart has been relocated near the entrance of Adventureland while work takes place.

StarWarsWeekend

Star Wars Weekend Dining Experiences: There are now THREE special dining experiences during the popular Star Wars Weekends at Hollywood Studios (starting in May). The first is the “Star Wars Dine-In Galactic Breakfast” at the Sci-Fi Dine-in Theater. The movie screen will include movie moments from Star Ways as well as Star Wars characters like Darth Vader visiting guests. The second is a dinner at Hollywood & Vine called “Jedi Mickey’s Star Wars Dine”. It will include Mickey and friends dressed in their Star Wars costumes along with interactive moments, Star Wars music and a delicious dinner buffet. The third, and newest addition, is the “Feel the Force Dining Event” which gives guest VIP viewing of the Star Wars “Legends of the Force” motorcade plus a nightly dessert party that includes the popular Darth Vader cupcakes. This event also includes up-close viewing of “Symphony in the Stars” fireworks. Capacity is very limited and spaces are filling up very fast!

StarWarsCharacters

Disney Movies

Disneynature “Bears” opened in theaters April 18th. The film follows the journey of a mother brown bear and her cubs throughout one year of their life in the Alaskan wilderness. Filming took place in Alaska’s Katmai National Park. From the Disney Post, “Watching the film opening week isn’t just an educational and entertaining experience, it’s a chance to help change the world, because Disneynature films are paired with complimentary conservation efforts. Previous campaigns have helped plant three million trees in Brazil’s Atlantic Forest, establish 40,000 acres of marine protected area in The Bahamas, and protect 60,000 acres of Kenyan savanna and 130,000 acres of wild chimpanzee habitat in the Congo. For Bears, Disneynature will donate a portion of opening-week ticket sales (April 18–24) to the National Park Foundation through the Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund. The contribution will benefit initiatives in America’s national parks, including wildlife protection, habitat restoration and conservation research and education. In addition to opening-week ticket sales, a portion of proceeds from downloads of the Bears anthem “Carry On”—performed by Disney Channel star Olivia Holt—also benefit the National Park Foundation.“

An extended preview of Disney’s Maleficent was debuted in Disney parks on April 18th, at Hollywood Studios and California Adventure. It includes some interviews with cast and producers about the making and developing of the film. Maleficent will be in theaters on May 30th. Here is the preview:

Keep following Preschoolears.com for more updates!

Select photos provided by Disney Parks Blog and Jennifer Greene at Destinations in Florida.

Christmas Time at Disneyland

BuenaVistaSign

How can we be thinking about Christmas already? It’s only April! Well, some families are thinking of planning a holiday trip to the Disney parks, so we took the opportunity to interview one of our Parent Panel members about their last Disneyland trip during Christmas time so we could share it with our readers. If you are thinking about taking a trip to Disneyland this December, you will enjoy our interview with the K family and their tips and reviews!

SmallWorld

PS Ears: What dates did your family visit Disneyland?

We arrived at night on Dec. 13 and left the afternoon of the 16th.

PS Ears: What age is your child?

Our daughter is nine.

PS Ears: Where did your family stay? How many days did you visit the parks? Would you stay there again and did you feel you had enough time at the parks?

We stayed at the Disneyland Hotel in a standard, parking lot view room in the Frontier tower. For the same price and similar walking distance, I recommend an upper level/theme park view at Paradise Pier, especially during the Christmas season. We love seeing World of Color from the view of those rooms on nights we don’t stay out late. It would be a big treat to watch the Winter Dreams version of World of Color because of the extra Christmas lighting and all the big bubble snowflakes that float over California Adventure during the show. Plus, since Olaf from “Frozen” is the host, kids would have fun hearing his jokes & the soundtrack from the t.v. in the room.

The long weekend worked great. Adding tours and using the extra park hours for hotel guests helped make the most of our time.

GrandCATree

PS Ears: How was the hotel’s Christmas decorations and special offerings?

Everything was very pretty–the cutest decoration at the hotel was a big plastic gingerbread house in the lobby. There are many holiday activities for hotel guests. They had Santa visits, holiday movies shown outside, carolers, a holiday-themed scavenger hunt & trivia game, and Christmas crafts. The best crafts for kids are Washcloth Creations and Snowglobe Ornaments. It’s free to learn how to fold washcloths into favorite Disney characters & decorate them with stickers/ribbons which kids can keep. The snowglobes were $20 or $25 each and fun for kids to assemble.

Snoglobes

Towels

PS Ears: Would you visit Disneyland at Christmas time again?

Yes!  We all had so much fun!

CarsLand

PS Ears: What would you do different?

We watched the fireworks behind the castle instead of on Main Street. This has been a great spot other times of the year but this time, they didn’t play the music back there. It was still fun to see!

Castle

PS Ears: What age of children do you think would best enjoy Disneyland at Christmas time?

Any age is perfect! The only thing I’d caution is this time of year is usually crowded so it can be draining for kids (and adults) navigating around and waiting longer times for rides.

PS Ears: What were some of the best highlights at the parks for the holidays?

The holiday tour is expensive (I paid $60 each) but well-worth it on crowded days. It lasts about 2 ½ hours which includes the time watching the parade. The tour guide takes you on Haunted Mansion Holiday, the Jingle Cruise, and It’s a Small World Holiday. Each of these rides had a 60-90 minute wait that day. Being able to just walk on these popular rides was a big time saver for our short trip. You also get to sit in front-row seats by the beginning of the parade. So, instead of spending time staking out a good view, you arrive about 15 minutes before it starts. Being in the front row is definitely great for kids since characters will walk up & interact with them.

Parade

TourCertificate

The tour includes Mickey gingerbread cookies and hot chocolate in Christmas mugs to have during the parade.  You also get a special limited-edition pin, another pin and a piece of Christmas candy while walking through CA. The tour guide tells funny stories about holiday things that happened at Disneyland and California Adventure as you walk around. There were young kids on the tour & they seemed to like it.

The Jingle Jangle Jamboree at Disneyland has all sorts of games, crafts, shows & snacks. There’s a short line to visit Santa. Mrs. Clause is there along with at least eight other characters. So, you can get a bunch of photos/autographs quickly.

Elf

We loved the short Christmas show projected on It’s a Small World. Our favorite show was definitely World of Color Winter Dreams. Keeping our short trip in mind, we got a World of Color lunch package. This included passes in the best section. We were able to arrive 20 minutes before the show and stand close to the front.  This saved time. Otherwise, you have to wait in the Fast Pass ticket line in the morning, then line up before the show starts to enter your assigned section and then wait for the show to start. That can be tiring for kids since they already had a long day.

The best meal was at Big Thunder Ranch BBQ which was decorated for Christmas and had a show of two singers who walked around the tables singing holiday songs. I’m still thinking about the delicious brownie with peppermint ice cream that we all shared! They had two other seasonal dessert choices which sounded great.

Also, there’s a Disney tradition of getting their rare candy canes that are handmade in front of you on certain days. We bought two. My husband loved the fresh sourdough bread in the shape of a Christmas tree that we got at CA. My daughter’s favorite treats were the Mickey-shaped gingerbread beignets at DL.

CandyCaneCandyCane2

PS Ears: Would you recommend Disneyland at Christmas time for a first-time visit? Why or why not?

I think going off-season is the better time to go. But, a first-time Christmas trip could be wonderful. I’d say splurge if you can and stay at one of the Disney hotels to get the extra hours in the parks. Also, take the Welcome to Disneyland Tour (I paid $20 ea.) In two hours, our guide walked us on the train, Haunted Mansion Holiday and It’s a Bug’s Life. She gave us Fast Passes to use anytime that day for Star Tours, Pirates of the Caribbean and Soarin’. She also gave passes for priority seating at the show of our choice (we did Mickey & the Magical Map).  She made dining reservations for us. She also had World of Color Fast Passes for shows that had already sold out to the public. Along the way, you’re walked through both parks and hear all sorts of fun & interesting stories. This is definitely a big time-saver. Also, there’s the Christmas tour I recommended. If you go with tours, you really get to do so much regardless of the crowds. They also help first-time visitors learn about the parks.

PS Ears: What advice would you give other families planning a Christmas time trip to Disneyland?

Going to Disneyland at Christmas is expensive but you can save a bunch with a Disney Visa for discounts on park purchases & tours. The main way we’ve saved money is with our Costco membership. Their Disneyland packages include free character meals, a $25 gift card and other perks. They have the best prices every time compared to Disney Travel and AAA. I don’t work for any of these companies, I’m just happy to have found these savings for our favorite vacation place!

CastleAdd

Disney Prize Pack & Disney Gift Card Giveaway

disneygiftcard

Who wouldn’t love some free Disney goodies AND a free Disney Gift Card? Today is the start of a big Disney Prize Pack Giveaway that includes some fabulous goodies from Disney World and Disney, as well as an $80 Disney Gift Card. This would be great for any family heading to the Disney parks this year or next! There is no purchase necessary to enter, and it is sponsored by our good friend, Jennifer Greene at Destinations in Florida, as well as some other wonderful Disney blogs that we work with throughout the year. Check out their pages – they are lots of fun!

Here are all the goodies included in the prize pack:

  • $80 Disney Gift Card
  • Disney Parks Tote Bag
  • Disney Parks Mickey Ears
  • Mickey Floppy Hat
  • H2O Products
  • Disney Parks Growth Chart
  • Disneyland Coloring Book
  • New Fantasyland Lithograph
  • Park Maps
  • Disney Buttons, Lanyards and more!!

This entire prize will go to one lucky Disney fan! Contest ends April 13, 2014. Follow the rafflecopter entry below to enter the giveaway. Enter today and good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Blogs Participating in Giveaway:

Run.Walk.FASTPASS.Repeat
runwalkrepeat.blogspot.com

The Adult Side of Disney
Mom’s Magical Miles
Pixie Dust Daily
Disney By The Numbers

Get Away Today for Disneyland Destinations

If you are thinking of planning a Disneyland vacation soon for your family, a wonderful place to start is Get Away Today. They are experts on Disneyland AND they offer fabulous deals – who doesn’t want to save time and money when planning their vacation? Get Away Today is one of the leaders in Disneyland vacations and they offer the best deals on hotels including free night specials and exclusive offers through them including perks like free breakfast, free parking and even waived resort fees at select hotels. They can also get discounts on Disneyland tickets and they provide their wonderful clients with free gifts when they  purchase a package through them! Don’t they sound amazing? One of the things we LOVE at Preschoolears is helping families plan their Disney vacation, and making it easy! So we are excited to share this company with you and their deals for Disneyland vacations.

300x250-Ad-Layaway

Get Away Today has a unique Layaway Lock-in Plan to help you get your Disneyland vacation planning started. This program allows you to hold your Southern California vacation for as low as $125 down. Here are the details:

  1. $125 fee includes non-refundable $50 Layaway Plan fee.
  2. $125 down payment for each room if multiple rooms are purchased. $50 fee only applies if rooms are booked together.
  3. Make as many payments as you would like prior to travel.
  4. Vacation must be paid off two weeks prior to travel.
  5. Layaway Lock-in plans may be set up online at getawaytoday.com

Now is a great time to start planning your next trip to Disneyland, whether for summertime or the coming fall. This is a great travel company that will find the deals for you and help you plan your entire trip! We love finding deals and we always will pass them along to you!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...