Disney’s Hollywood Studios Gets Into the Holiday Spirit

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The PhotoPass location for the 2011 light display.

The PhotoPass location for the 2011 light display.

The Osborne family of Arkansas decorated their home every year and each season the display continued to grow. The family decided that the lights should be shared with the world and partnered with Disney to bring the magic to Hollywood Studios. The display was donated to the park in 1995 and has been a holiday favorite of Walt Disney World Resort guests.

This evening, Disney’s Hollywood Studios will get a little brighter with the 2013 premiere of The Osborne Family Spectacle of Lights. Guests of the park will become immersed in twinkling lights that dance to the music of the season while strolling the Streets of America. Features of this holiday display include; a spinning globe, Santa and his sleigh and a carousel made entirely of lights that sits atop one of the buildings.

What to Know About the Lights:

The lights are turned on every evening around 6PM and are accessible until closing. Each night a ceremony occurs in which the “family of the day” is joined by Goofy to flip on the switch and light the Streets of America. This is generally a very crowded event so it is recommended that you get to the area 30 minutes prior in order to get a decent view.

If you prefer to stroll the display with more minimal crowds, wait at least an hour after the lighting ceremony. When the park has late evening Extra Magic Hours, take advantage of the time and view the lights with smaller crowds. You can find the Extra Magic Hours for the park through Disney’s calendar tool located here.

Holiday beverages including hot chocolate and cider can be found at vendors around the display…some holiday themed alcoholic options are also available throughout the season!

Looking for the perfect spot for a holiday photo of the family? The middle of the display offers a PhotoPass location with a backdrop of towering lit trees and toy soldiers. These photos make great holiday cards or can be framed as gifts for loved ones.

The newly introduced “Glow With the Show” ears are synced with the lights and can be purchased for $25 in the park. The ears are interactive with several shows including; “Fantasmic” at Hollywood Studios and both “Wishes” and “Celebrate the Magic” at the Magic Kingdom.

If you have never seen the Osborne Lights in person, I highly recommend the experience. It is a magical way to get into the holiday spirit…and Disney surely knows how to do the holidays!

Have you seen The Osborne Family Spectacle of Lights?

Disney Firsts

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Do you remember the first time you saw the castle? Photo Credit: Julie K.

Do you remember the first time you saw the castle?
Photo Credit: Julie K.


We can all probably think back and remember the feeling of our first Disney vacation. The moment we entered the gates, stepped on to Main Street, U.S.A. and caught a glimpse of Cinderella’s Castle in person. That iconic scene that we viewed countless times on television was right there before us!

Disney Firsts are moments that we can remember for a lifetime and make great photo opportunities.

My suggestion to Disney travelers is to space out your Disney Firsts. Don’t try to do them in one vacation, but plan your firsts over several trips to get the most out of the wow factor. Too many “wows” in one trip can be magic overload; so plan accordingly.

Here are my suggestions for some Magic Kingdom Disney Firsts for your next trip:

1. First Ear Hat– This is a milestone for any fan of Disney. Getting your first ear hat is equal to officially joining the club. There are several locations to purchase personalized Mickey ears in the parks. My personal favorite is Sir Mickey’s in Fantasyland; however, I am only partial to this location because the store can be found in the shadow of Cinderella’s castle.

2. First Haircut– If you have a little one who is due for their first haircut, consider making an appointment at the Harmony Barber Shop on Main Street, U.S.A. Cast members make this experience incredibly memorable by presenting your little one with a certificate and ear hat to mark the occasion! The first haircut package is currently $18. Call 407-WDW-DINE to make your appointment.

3. First Character Experience– Does your first time WDW traveler have a Disney favorite? Character meet and greets can be found in all the parks and photographers are on hand to catch those special moments. Plan accordingly because the wait times for the popular characters can be long during peak park days.

4. First Mickey’s Premium Bar– This Mickey Mouse shaped ice cream is one of the most sought-after food items in the parks. Purchase one and get that camera ready (and some wet naps) because this magical moment can get messy.

5. First Rides On Dumbo and Prince Charming’s Regal Carousel (formerly Cinderella’s Golden Carousel) – These rides appear on many Disney ads because they are some of the most family-friendly experiences in the parks. One member of your party can be appointed the official photographer to capture the smiles and giggles of the first timer!

Are there any other Magic Kingdom Firsts that you recommend?

The Jungle Cruise Gets Into The Holiday Spirit

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Backside Ornament1

The Disney Parks Blog announced yesterday that the Jungle Cruise will get a makeover for the holiday season. The beloved Adventureland classic will have a new storyline featuring Skippers who are missing being home for the holidays. In an effort to cure those home-sick feelings, the Skippers will decorate the boathouse, rename their cruise vessels and bring some holiday cheer in the form of jokes…..oh, those infamous Jungle Cruise jokes!

This new holiday-themed cruise sets sail at both Walt Disney World and Disneyland in early November and is sure to become an instant classic.

Will you be going “cruising” for the holidays?

Holiday Shopping at Walt Disney World

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Mickey Mouse figure purchased by my parents on their honeymoon. He is still greatly cherished after all these years.

Mickey Mouse figure purchased by my parents on their honeymoon. He is still greatly cherished after all these years.

There is nothing like spending the holiday season at the Disney Parks. The decorations, the music and the SHOPPING! Speaking of shopping…if you are traveling to the Walt Disney World resort prior the holidays, it’s the perfect opportunity to get all of your shopping done for everyone on your list.

Create a Shopping Plan

Just like Santa, you will want to make a list of all the people who you are shopping for and come up with a plan. Make sure to decide in advance a general idea of what you are purchasing, so you are not spending your entire vacation in the retail stores. Also keep in mind that if you are flying, you will want to purchase items that pack and travel well without taking up a lot of space in your bags.

Disney’s website has a search tool for finding the stores that sell the items on your list. Simply type in the item that you are looking for and all of the stores that carry the item will be listed.

Here are some ideas of simple and easy gifts for everyone on your list:

Ornaments

Every one could use one more ornament on the tree, right? This is an item that receivers can use year after year. They are both inexpensive and travel very well, so they are the perfect gift for anyone on your list!

Disney has entire walls dedicated to Christmas decorations in several stores as well as specialty Christmas shops in two locations; Disney’s Days of Christmas in Downtown Disney and Ye Olde Christmas Shoppe in Liberty Square at the Magic Kingdom.

T-Shirts

T-shirts can be found in many stores in the parks. When deciding to buy shirts or any type of clothing, be sure to check on sizes and ask recipients about their favorite Disney characters before your trip. This will simplify your shopping and cut down on those calls back home.

Jewelry

Disney trading pins make excellent gifts for the collectors in your life, and they are really portable. Retail locations throughout the resort also offer necklaces, rings and bracelets adorned with your Disney favorites. Add a little Disney “bling” to someone’s life!

Toys

There are thousands of toy options to choose from at Disney; from light up swords to Legos, you are sure to find the perfect gift. Stuffed animals are wonderful presents and knowing that they came from the resort, makes them even more special.

Mugs

One of the easiest and most cost-effective gifts is a Disney-themed coffee mug. They come in all shapes and sizes and are adorned with almost every Disney character. They are portable and make the packing process a breeze.

Global Treasures

For the world-traveler in your life; think about visiting the shops within the World Showcase at Epcot. Items from each highlighted country can be found in their resident shops. You will find jewelry, art, housewares and even apparel items that are specific to each country. Plan on at least an afternoon exploring each country and their corresponding retail shops.

What About All Those Bags?

While staying on the Disney property, there is an option to have your purchases sent back to your hotel room, so you aren’t walking around the parks lugging bags. If you are staying at an off-site resort, purchases can be sent to a location at the front entrance of the park. You can pick up your merchandise when you leave at the end of the day.

“The Deals”

If you want to go offsite during your stay, the local Orlando outlets can be a nice place to visit for some deals. The Character Warehouse is Disney’s outlet shop and offers some discounts on clothing, accessories and toys. The stores can be found in one of two Orlando Premium Outlets; International Drive near Universal Studios and Downtown Disney. Something to consider: If you have a car, this may be a way to save some money on merchandise, but when taking a taxi or paying for a shuttle, the cost of the trip may outweigh your savings.

The Disney Store

Souvenir shopping can be effortless if you wish to purchase items before you leave for your Disney vacation. Select Disney Parks Products can be found on the Disney Store.com website. Sales on the site occur often and free shipping options are available for purchases of $75 or more. Have the items shipped to your home and save them for your return. This could save a lot of time in searching for those perfect gifts in the parks.

To “Wrap” This Up

Planning ahead for your Disney souvenir shopping could potentially save a lot of time and money…and allow more time for magical memories.

Do you plan to do your holiday shopping at Disney? Have any tips or tricks?

The Magic Kingdom Rope Drop

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Good morning, good morning, to you!

Good morning, good morning, to you!

Every morning prior to opening the Magic Kingdom, a rope drop ceremony occurs to welcome guests.  Ten to fifteen minutes before the scheduled park opening, the Magic Kingdom presents a fun music-filled celebration.  The “Good Morning” song made famous by the film, “Singing in the Rain,” is played as cast members acknowledge your arrival at the park.

The star of the show is the Magic Kingdom steam-train that pulls into the Main Street U.S.A. station with some of your favorite Disney characters. Guests are asked to count down from 10 to open the park. This is truly a must-see experience for any family and allows you to get into the park right at opening. It is a great opportunity to run to your favorite ride or grab some FastPasses!

Tip:

Make sure to get to the park entrance at least 30 minutes in advance. Plan your timing according to which method of transportation you use; both boats and monorails are available from the Ticket and Transportation Center. If you are staying onsite, you will want to leave at least an hour ahead of your expected arrival since the rope drop is a popular show.

For a glimpse of what to expect click on this link to go to a Youtube clip submitted by DVCRental.

Will you plan to attend the rope drop the next time you go to Walt Disney World?

Glow With The Show Premieres At Magic Kingdom

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Glow with the Show Source: Disney Parks Blog

Glow with the Show
Source: Disney Parks Blog

Tonight is the night!

“Glow with the Show” will be making its premier at the Magic Kingdom during the “Celebrate the Magic” and “Wishes” shows this evening. A sea of thousands of glowing Mickey Ears will light up in unison to compliment the music and sights of each show.  Earlier this week, “Glow with the Show” was introduced to the “Fantasmic” spectacular at Disney’s Hollywood Studios and received “glowing” reviews from guests.

What a treat the Magic Kingdom guests have waiting for them this evening.

Renting Disney Vacation Club Points

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Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge Photo Credit: Julie K.

Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge
Photo Credit: Julie K.

The Disney Vacation Club is a timeshare that allows owners to stay in Deluxe category accommodations at Disney resorts.  Owners purchase points to vacation in various sized suites within Vacation Club resort locations. Sometimes Vacation Club owners do not use their allotted yearly points and rent them out to other guests. Renting Disney Vacation Club points from an owner can save you a significant amount of money on your Walt Disney World vacation depending on the time of year and the type of room that you select for your trip. You have a greater chance of renting the villa of your choice, the sooner you book your stay.

We decided to rent points for our upcoming trip, so I wanted to share some tips and information with you about the process.

(Please note: This  is simply a review for informational purposes.  I am in no way affiliated with or compensated by the organization mentioned in this review.)

Where to go to rent points:

The safest and most convenient way to purchase points is through a broker that specifically handles these types of transactions. They have knowledge of the process and most communicate through email so your transaction is documented. There are several organizations that broker Disney Vacation Club points and act as a mediator between owners and renters.  For our transaction we used David’s Vacation Club Rentals. Other Better Business Bureau accredited rental organizations also offer point purchases and can be located with a Google search for a comparison.

My advice would be to stay away from Craigslist. There are horror stories of guests booking with someone they thought was a Disney Vacation Club owner, only to be scammed out of their vacation budget. Stick with legitimate businesses that have excellent online reviews, rather than attempting a risky transaction with someone you don’t know.

How the process works with David’s Vacation Club Rentals:

You rent points on a scale depending on the length of stay, villa size, resort requested and date. Traveling on holidays and during peak periods means a higher point purchase.

The villas available through the Disney Vacation Club consist of studios, 1 and 2 bedroom suites, Grand Villas and the TreeHouse Villas at Disney’s Saratoga Springs. Some resorts also have preferred rooms at a higher cost offering scenic views of the water, Magic Kingdom or even the savannah at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge.

Using a point calculator on a broker’s website is the best way to determine how many points you will need for your stay. David’s Vacation Club Rentals’ calculator can be found here and allows you to put in your requested dates and compare points needed per resort and villa size.

For an example, if you want to stay at the Animal Kingdom Lodge from March 10th- March 15th. Select your dates and then decide if you wish to stay in a studio, 1 bedroom or 2 bedroom suite. Then determine if you want a value room (no view), standard view, savannah view, or club level (concierge floor).   Get the points required and multiply them by $14 for the total cost of your trip.

Next steps:

Once you have your quote and the amount of points needed for your stay, complete the reservation form with the dates and your preferred Disney Vacation Club resort. The form lets you  choose up to 4 resorts in case your preferred resort is unavailable. Once your form is complete, a partial payment of $98 is required to secure your reservation.

If David’s Vacation Club Rentals is unable to secure your requested rental, the $98 is returned to you; however if a rental is found, the deposit is applied to your rental total and the balance in full is due immediately.

Important: David’s Vacation Club Rentals is based out of Canada. Check with your credit card company to determine if they charge a fee for transactions that occur outside of the US prior to entering your deposit. If there is a fee, you will want to add this figure into your vacation budget.

Rental agreement:

You will receive a standard rental agreement contract that specifies your dates, guest information, the resort details and your confirmation number. This number will allow you to log in to Disney’s online check-in system to view the details of your trip. 60 days prior to your vacation, you can pre-check in, add any special requests (like hypoallergenic pillows) and disclose if you are celebrating a special event during your stay.

Disney Dining Plan and tickets:

Your Disney Dining Plan and park tickets can also be purchased through David’s Vacation Club Rentals..

Benefits of renting:

We saved a significant amount of money on our upcoming vacation by renting points. If we had booked the trip through Disney, we would have paid over $1,000 more for the same studio villa.  Renting a villa also allows guests to use Disney Transportation (including the Magical Express shuttle to and from Orlando International Airport) and renters enjoy the same amenities that all Disney resort guests enjoy; with the exception of daily housekeeping.

Possible downsides:

When renting you must book in advance and plan ahead. It is recommended for example, that you rent the Animal Kingdom Lodge 11 months prior to your trip in order to ensure enough time to secure points. The recommended rental timeframes from David’s Vacation Club Rentals can be found here. Renting in advance means that you also pay for your trip long before your vacation begins.

Disney Vacation Club does not offer daily housekeeping. If you are staying longer than 4 days, a towel/trash service occurs on the 4th day. For stays of 8 days or more, a full cleaning happens on the 4th day and a towel/trash service is offered on day 8. You can request daily or additional housekeeping services for a fee.

To sum this up:

Renting Disney Vacation Club points is a great alternative to staying in a standard hotel room. Our experience thus far has been a very pleasant and easy one…I will be sure to update you with a review of Disney’s Animal Kingdom Villas once we stay there in the Spring.

If you have any questions for me, please ask them in the comments. I would be happy to help!

Glow With The Show Premieres At Fantasmic

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Glow with the show

Glowing at Fantasmic

Source: Disney Parks Blog (Gene Duncan, Photographer)

There are many wonderful announcements coming from the Walt Disney Company this week. The newest addition to the Disney parks is the “Glow With the Show” Mickey ears that were introduced at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. The ears interact with the Fantasmic show, change colors throughout and are in sync with the songs and fireworks. If guests opt to purchase these very special ears, they are in for a real treat as they become part of the show!  The ears will be available for purchase throughout the park.

The ears will make their debut at the Magic Kingdom this Saturday, October 19th during the “Celebrate the Magic” show and the “Wishes” fireworks.

What do you think of the ears? Fun addition?