Star Wars the Weekend 2013

Once a year the galaxy far, far away comes to Walt Disney World’s Hollywood Studios! It’s the place where The Clone Wars and A New Hope unite generations over a beloved saga in the magic of Star Wars the Weekend (SWW)!

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In order for you and your family to get the most out of SWW you need to plan!

Hollywood Studios usually opens at 8am. The park traditionally opens at least 30 minutes early to accommodate the large crowds. This year my family got there by 7 and the park opened at 7:28. The Stormtroopers will be guarding Hollywood Boulevard. Stop, take pictures and interact with them. They are a lot of fun.

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Now once inside the park, what do you do first?

You split up. If you have children ages 4 to 11, you will want to head over to the Epic Stunt Theater to sign up for Jedi Training. Space is limited and your child MUST be with you. Next, head over to ABC Sound Studio to sign up for the Padawan Mind Challenge.

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While you are signing up for these 2 events, give a family member your Keys to the World (room key or park ticket) and send them to get fast passes for Toy Story Mania. Toy Story Mania fills up FAST and if you don’t have fast passes, you can be waiting 2 or more hours.

There will be plenty of opportunities to take pictures with SWW characters. You will find the good guys around the Star Tours and Premiere Theater area and the “bad” guys will be hanging around the Back Lot area. Have fun and interact. Ask Queen Amidala questions about the Senate or the weather on Naboo. And be sure to bring something to trade with the Jawas. Any little trinket or small toy from the dollar store is perfect!

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And don’t miss the Legends of the Force Motorcade. The parade includes all your favorite Star Wars characters, the Celebrities and the Florida 501st Legion.

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As with any Disney parade, you need to get your spot early. The parade travels down Hollywood Boulevard at 11 am. We like to line up around 9 – 9:30 to get a spot in the shade and to get a street view for the kids. Everyone will be crowding in. Take turns saving your spot with other family members.

Your next stop is Darth’s Mall.  A MUST DO for SWW.  Great merchandise that can only be bought during SWW will be here, as well as pictures with C3P0 and R2D2.

Ashely Eckstein, the voice of Ahsoka Tano in the Clone Wars, will be at the Mall promoting her line of Star Wars clothing, Her Universe. Ashley is an awesome person to follow and meet. Be sure to purchase your Her Universe merchandise before getting in line for an autograph. She will only be there an hour each day so check the event times and be there early!

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There’s plenty more to see at Darth’s Mall, so plan a couple of hours here.

If you need to get out of the heat, consider taking in one of the Celebrity Appearances. These events take place in the Premiere Theater, and you line up across the street in an alley (shaded). You probably don’t need to be there too early, an hour will get you in. This year I saw “An Ewok’s Take” by Warwick Davis, a very funny and entertaining actor. I thoroughly enjoyed it!

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A day at SWW is not over till you see the Hyperspace Hoopla! The Hyperspace Hoopla, located on the stage at “the hat”, is a dance-off between The Rebel Alliance and The Empire. A lot of fun! This is a big attraction and the crowd will reach from the hat all the way to the entrance of the park. So get there early!

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Make your dinner reservations for around 9. The Hoopla is only 30 minutes, and you will need to re-fuel from a busy day. We love the Sci Fi Theater and a cold milkshake for then end of our day! How about you?

Planning is the key to a great SWW, and I have many more tips to make it smooth and enjoyable! You will not only want to catch your favorite Star Wars characters but also want to include all the fun at the other parks. It’s easy to get it all in if you know what to do – and it’s time to plan your 2014 SWW Adventure! I’m here to help!

Sylvia@travelwiththemagic.com

Epcot’s Food and Wine Festival

I have to start off by saying this is one of my favorite times to go to Disney. As my children were young, we never did the Food and Wine Festival so it was time to go on a mom and dad trip only.

As my husband is a foodie, he was really looking forward to this event. An event that you can actually visit approximately 30 countries (no jet lag a plus) and have a taste of their authentic foods and wine.

You start off by getting your passport and a map, and off you go. As you go to each country they stamp your passport. This is a great reminder and keepsake as to which countries you visited. We had to visit a few countries more than once! We loved their food and would not have been able to try it otherwise.

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Only Disney can actually make you feel like you are visiting each country feel real. The market place booths for every individual country is made to look like a landmark of that country. The cast members are mostly from the country they are representing…which again, puts you in the mode of being there. The food offerings are more of a tapas (small) serving, as they offer 2-3 different types of food, and of course the wine pairing to compliment each. Some countries specialize in beer and this is a must try! (my husband’s favorite)

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There is even wonderful entertainment to see which is called “Eat to the Beat” a concert series of popular bands. We saw the Hanson Brothers a few years ago and they were amazing and still going strong! It was nice to see these brothers still making music together.

The dates this year are September 27- November 11. If you are planning to visit Epcot’s Food and Wine Festival, I would be happy to help plan your trip and give you some wonderful suggestions!

Georgia Sioutis

Georgia@travelwiththemagic.com

1-800-670-4312 ext. 130

Discover the Magic of Disney World’s Electrical Water Pageant

 My family was so excited a few years ago when we first stumbled upon the electrical water pageant.  The pageant is a spectacular light display on barges that takes place in the Seven Seas Lagoon and Bay Lake.   You will see lit up screen images of King Triton, a turtle, a dinosaur, a whale, seahorses, an octopus, dolphins, a sea monster, and more.  Disney adds that extra bit of magic by playing an exciting assortment of music along with the parade.  The pageant ends with a salute to America to patriotic music.

 

You can view this parade from the Contemporary, Grand Floridian, Polynesian, Fort Wilderness or try to watch near the resort boat docks outside Magic Kingdom.

 

Below is the typical schedule.  Check with Guest to verify pageant times during your stay.

Polynesian — 9:00 p.m.

Grand Floridian — 9:15 p.m.

Wilderness Lodge — 9:35 p.m.

Ft. Wilderness — 9:45 p.m.

Contemporary — 10:05 p.m.

I would love to help you plan your next magical vacation to Disney World.  Contact me today for a no obligation quote.

Michelle Terry

MichelleT@travelwiththemagic.com

1-866-Hi-Miki-2

The Match Family

What in the world am I speaking of. You know, the families you see walking around in Disney World all dressed alike. I am one of those families. When we first took our kids to Disney World back in 2007 I had done little in the research department and was virtually clueless of how to make the most of my Disney vacation. After that first trip I became an avid reader of all things Disney and one thing I learned is that lots of families wear the same color shirts or even the exact shirt to the parks each day. At first I thought it was kind of dumb, but then I started to see how cool the pictures looked and decided for my next trip we were going to have matching shirts for at least one day. The other bonus to wearing the same color or shirt is that your family is always easy to find if you get separated.


I found a design online and added our names and date of the trip to it. Then I printed the design out on iron- on transfer paper and voila matching shirts. It took me a little while to learn that the iron on transfer paper for dark colors works best and was the easiest to work with. If you are not crafty or don’t have time you can go online to different websites and create a custom shirt just for your family.  For that trip we only had the one matching shirt but I really loved the pictures we took in them and we also got tons of comments from Cast members about our shirts. As most of you know if you look like a cool Disney family you may be the recipient of some extra “pixie dust”.
For our next trip I wanted to have matching shirts for each day so we pulled out our t-shirts that we purchased during some of our other trips. We always buy a new set when we go that all match or match as closely as possible. That trip I think we matched for four of the days so my pictures on those days were great. I can’t wait till our next trip in Feb 2013 to sport some new shirts and get more great pics.


For more information on anything Disney travel related contact me Laure Simms at laure@travelwiththemagic.com or call toll free 1-888-214-6954. I would love to help you plan your next Disney vacation.

My First Christmas at Disney

I know Christmas isn’t officially here until the 25th of December, but at Disney, it arrives pretty much as soon as they can put the Halloween decorations away.  And for me, that’s just fine.  I recently made a visit to Walt Disney World the beginning of November.  It was so exciting to see many of the holiday decorations already up in place.  On my short visit there, I was going to get a chance to attend Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party and watch the famous Osborn Light Spectacle at Hollywood Studio’s.

 

To attend Mickey’s Christmas Party, we had to have special wristbands to attend the festivities that night.  It was pretty exciting to know we were going to experience all the holiday celebration with a lot less crowd that night.  Many of the rides were open late for those that wanted to enjoy them as well.

One of the first things we witnessed was the Fairy Godmother lighting up the castle for the holidays, which was an amazing color show in itself.  Then, we watched one of the most gorgeous parades I have yet to see at Magic Kingdom.  The holiday parade was amazing.  I think every Disney character was  decked out in their holiday best to join in and welcome all the guests that night.

 

After the parade, there was a short break, which gave us plenty of time to sneak in some free cookies and hot chocolate before the next surprise.  Hot chocolate in Orlando?  Well, it was a little cool that night, but with hot chocolate that tasted that good, I think I might even drink it during the day.  And fresh, warm, homemade cookies.  Definitely a special addition to the night’s affair.

Everyone was gathering down Main Street to get ready for the fireworks display, while snow fell upon them from the roof tops.  This was quite the site to see as well.

Fireworks – WOW!, and then some.  Seriously, if you think you’ve seen the best that Disney has to offer, you’ve not seen anything like this.  The colors absolutely lit up the sky while choreographed to beautiful music for almost 20-25 minutes straight.  The castle would change colors, the sky was a glow.  It was simply amazing.

So, now I can say I have had the great pleasure of enjoying Christmas at Disney, though it was a little early.  I’d definitely do it again without hesitation.  If you would like to as well, be sure to get your tickets for Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party as soon as they go on sale, as this event does sell out quickly.  And dress in your favorite Christmas shirt or sweater and join in with everyone else in all the holiday fun.  You are guaranteed to have memories of this for a very long time.

Contact me for a free quote and help with all your ticket, show and dining reservations as well.  Happy Holidays everyone.   Cindy@travelwiththemagic.com

A Little bit of Disney Magic Created with Water!

       Some of the things I love most about Disney World and what I feel makes it special is its uniqueness, attention to detail and element of surprise.  It’s all about the little things.  The unexpected. For example, on a recent trip, we happened to stumble upon not one, but three of these pieces of water art!

     The first time I was able to witness these artists in action we saw a gentleman dressed as a custodian carrying a broom and bucket, dressed in janitor attire.  I immediately knew what he was about to do because I had read about it being the Disney nerd I am.  I stopped to watch as most guests kept walking by not paying any attention, which is easy to do when you are in a theme park.  At first, it looks like he’s cleaning but then you start to notice he’s actually drawing, only you can’t tell what it is at first.

     That’s where the fun begins.  We enjoyed watching and taking turns guessing which character it was going to be.  I will admit to being wrong with each guess.  As he continued to draw, more guests began to take notice and pretty soon he had a little crowd anxiously awaiting to see the finished product.

 

     It added a little bit of spontaneity and surprise when we weren’t expecting it.  It provided some entertainment and awe in something as simple as a bucket of water.  Something only Disney could do at it’s best.

 

     The next time you are visiting Disney World, I encourage you to slow down and take time to witness the “smaller” things.  You never know what you might discover!

     Are you interested in traveling to Disney World?  I’d love to help!  Feel free to email me at corby@travelwiththemagic.com or call me at (800) 670-4312 x128.

My First Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party

 

This year I was lucky enough to cross off one more item on my Disney bucket list – I went to Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party.  I love Christmas time and of course, I love Disney, so combining them was something I have long dreamt about.

Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party is a separate hard ticketed event meaning that even though it takes place at the Magic Kingdom, your Magic Kingdom admission alone does not gain you entrance into the party.  The party lasts from 7pm to midnight and admission tickets can be purchased for about $54-$68 depending on dates attended and the age of the guests.   Check out http://www.travelwiththemagic.com/2012-mickeys-very-merry-christmas-party.html for more party information.

During the party you will experience many exclusive experiences including Character greetings not available during normal park hours, Mickey’s Once Upon A Christmastime Parade, complementary  hot cocoa and cookies, Cinderella’s castle like you’ve never seen it before and a fireworks show that will stay with you long into the new year.

The party is scheduled to begin at 7 pm when the Magic Kingdom closes to non-ticket holding guests, but on most nights guests with party tickets can start entering the Magic Kingdom at 4 pm.  If you were at another park that day, or not visiting a park at all, you simply present your Christmas Party ticket to enter the park.  Once inside the turnstiles, Cast Members will present you with a special wristband to confirm that you have used your Christmas Party ticket for admission to be in the park past closing.

If you have been in the Magic Kingdom that day, you will need to proceed to one of the wristband stations (one at the main entrance or one in Adventureland) around 4 pm or so to receive your wristband.  Early in the evening we were stopped multiple times by Cast Members asking to see our Christmas Party wristband to verify our admission.

Some of the Christmas Party events actually start before 7 pm (probably to entice those who haven’t purchased the party tickets to think about purchasing them next time!) including Cinderella arriving on the castle stage with her Fairy Godmother to “wish” her castle transformed and then right before your eyes, the castle is covered in icicles.

The holiday themed light show on the Castle is amazing.  Make sure you get a spot near the castle so you can see all the amazing details in the show that happens on the castle.

And what would a party at the Magic Kingdom be without fireworks?  The “Holiday Wishes: Celebrate the Spirit of the Season” fireworks are everything you expect from Disney and more!  Seeing them over Cinderella’s dream light covered castle brought tears to my eyes.  Holiday Wishes is a fantastic fireworks show.

The Once Upon a Christmastime parade is not to be missed!   But don’t worry, it runs twice during your party.  Prepare for Disney to exhilarate all of your senses – especially sight, hearing and SMELL.  I won’t say more because I don’t want to ruin the surprise, but keep your nose open!  We met characters and rode attractions during the first parade hoping that the crowd would thin out for the second parade, which it did somewhat, but was more crowded than I expected.  I would definitely recommend getting to your viewing area ahead of time if you want a good seat with a good view!

During the Christmas party, all park aspects reflect a special Christmas cheer.  There are character greetings that can only be seen during special events including Cinderella, Prince Charming, her Stepmother and Stepsisters all greeting guests as a group.  The Princesses, in special holiday attire, are never far from their Princes and you can even find characters like Uncle Scrooge during the party.

The shops will be open during the party and some of the stores carry special Christmas Party merchandise that is ONLY available during parties, so if you see something you like, make sure you buy it.

There are even character dance parties!  Club Tinsel (inside Cosmic Ray’s) is one of the spots where you can find some of your favorite Disney characters cutting a rug!  We danced with festively dressed Chip and Dale and Goofy dressed in his finest Santa suit.

A lot of guests use the parties as a way to ride their favorite attractions with VERY minimal wait times.  Even on a sold out night we were able to walk on to Pirates of the Caribbean, the Haunted Mansion and Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin.  Not all attractions operate during the party, but we had a blast riding the ones that were open!

Don’t forget to eat!  Even though the park is open until midnight, some of the dining locations close earlier).  I would recommend eating at a quick service location to maximize your time in the park during this event.  We ate at Pinnochio’s Village Haus and I was pleasantly surprised by their new menu items.  I had a caprese flatbread pizza and tomato basil soup.  The quality was definitely similar to a sit down restaurant back home (rather than a fast food type meal).   Complementary hot cocoa and cookie stations are set up throughout the park and are identified on the map and on an inflatable signpost outside of the location.  Unless you’re exceptionally cold or hungry, don’t rush to get in line for these free goodies – they will be there all night!

One of my favorite memories of the night was walking down Main Street with SNOW falling!  It was such an amazing night and an experience I cannot wait to share with my family.  The Magic Kingdom during this time of year is beautiful (day or night)!

If you would like to attend Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party (or want more information about any of the other special events that happen throughout the year at Disney World), contact me today!  I cannot wait to help you plan your MAGICAL vacation!  Contact me at amy@travelwiththemagic.com, 1-800-670-4312, x129 or on facebook (www.facebook.com/TravelwiththeMagicAmy).

Finding Pixie Dust

At Disney World when magical things happen, it’s common to bring them up with the words “pixie dust”.  On our last trip, we were lucky enough to be sprinkled with Pixie Dust quite a few times!  Here are some of my favorite moments that we were lucky enough to capture with our PhotoPass photos.

On our very first morning in the parks, we headed straight for Fantasyland.  My oldest wanted nothing more than to ride Dumbo.  Unfortunately, it was raining and Dumbo was closed.  Carrousel, it’s a small world, Peter Pan’s Flight?  No.  So she and my husband went into a shop to kill time while my youngest rode the Carrousel with Grandma.  I snapped some pictures of the younger one riding and having fun and wandered into the shop.  I saw my husband and my daughter staring at Sleeping Beauty’s dress which was changing colors.  She was MESMERIZED.  Then I heard a camera click.  I turned around and there was a Disney PhotoPass photographer taking their picture.  He put his finger to his lips, asking me to be quiet.  When he was done, I handed him my PhotoPass card (while sobbing).  I couldn’t wait to see the pictures!

I was also surprised at how much time the characters took with our kids.  The first interaction I loved was my girls meeting Mike and Sulley (from “Monsters, inc”).  There was NO line and we walked right up.  Our youngest was a little afraid of Sulley but went straight to Mike – where he proceeded to try to get her to dance.  She was so confused!  But he just kept tapping his toes!

Woody and Buzz played tic-tac-toe in our autograph book and took my daughter’s monkey and played catch with him, even though there was a VERY long line.  They treated us like we were the only ones there.

Fawn (the fairy) had my daughters “fly” around the room.  And then, when she saw the Rosetta doll my oldest had and saw how DEVASTATED she was that Rosetta wasn’t there, she made sure she told her that she would talk to Rosetta and tell her she had stopped by.  She also made sure that the Rosetta doll was in the picture.

We also got to witness a Pixie Dust moment for another family.  While in line for Lotso, just as we had gotten to the front and were waiting for him to come back, we were approached by a Cast Member.  The Cast Member asked us if we minded if a Wish Child went ahead of us (a child who was there with Make-A-Wish).  He was scared to death of Lotso, but waved to him.  His family then stuck around for him to see our kids visit with Lotso.  After seeing my girls run to him and hug him, he got a second chance and seeing him hug Lotso is a memory I’ll have forever.

We had prepurchased the PhotoPass CD, so we stopped at every PhotoPass opportunity we had.  And there were a lot of character greetings where a photographer was present.  I’m so glad we did this, as we were able to get a LOT of pictures that I might have missed the “moment” if I had been the one taking the pictures.  By prepurchasing the CD, we saved a little bit of money and were then able to use them to make a photobook for each of the girls and a calendar.  They LOVE looking through the books of their old trips!

Do you want to find Pixie Dust?!   Contact me today!  I’d love to plan your family’s MAGICAL vacation!!  Amy@travelwiththemagic.com, http://www.facebook.com/TravelWithTheMagicAmy, or 1-800-670-4312, x129.

 

The Story of Christmas

There is no place more magical during the holiday season than Walt Disney World.  From the Osborne Lights at Hollywood Studios to Cinderella’s Castle dripping with lights in theMagicKingdom, the halls are all decked across the entire resort, and it is a beautiful sight to see.

Of all the festive things going on during the Christmas season, my favorite has to be the Candlelight Processional.  The Candlelight Processional is a special holiday event that is held nightly starting in late November and running through the end of December.  It retells the story of Christmas with a celebrity narrator who is accompanied by an orchestra and an amazing choir.

There are three shows times each night, 5:00 pm, 6:45 pm and 8:15pm, held in the America Gardens Theater in the World Showcase inside the Epcot theme park.  As you can imagine this is a very popular show and seats fill up quickly.  You can arrive early and wait in the standby line for a seat or you can purchase a Candlelight Dining Package that includes lunch or dinner, a guaranteed seat for the show and a special spot to view Illuminations.

Lunch packages range from $32.99–$55.99 for adults, and $12.50–$17.99 for children ages 3–9

Participating lunch restaurants include: Biergarten, Coral Reef, Le Cellier Steakhouse, Les Chefs de France, Nine Dragons, Restaurant Marrakesh, Rose & Crown,SanAngelInn, Teppan Edo, Tokyo Dining, Tutto Italia and Via Napoli.

Dinner packages range from $49.99–$66.99 for adults, and $14.50–$26.99 for children ages 3–9

Participating dinner restaurants include: Biergarten, Coral Reef, The Garden Grill, La Hacienda de San Angel, Les Chefs de France, Nine Dragons, Restaurant Marrakesh, Rose & Crown,SanAngelInn, Teppan Edo, Tokyo Dining, Tutto Italia and Via Napoli.

Current celebrity narrators for this year are:

November 23 to November 25, 2012 — Geena Davis
November 26 to November 29, 2012 — Neil Patrick Harris
November 30 to December 1, 2012 — Whoopi Goldberg
December 2 to December 4, 2012 — Andy Garcia
December 5 to December 7, 2012 — Blair Underwood
December 8 to December 9, 2012 — James Denton
December 10 to December 13, 2012 — Jodi Benson
December 14 to December 16, 2012 — Lea Salonga
December 17 to December 19, 2012 — Alfre Woodard
December 20 to December 22, 2012 — Trace Adkins
December 23 to December 25, 2012 — Gary Sinise
December 26 to December 28, 2012 — Amy Grant
December 29 to December 30, 2012 — Marlee Matlin / Jack Jason

If you would like my help in planning your very own magical Christmas at Walt Disney World just contact me at michelle@travelwiththemagic.com.  It doesn’t cost you any extra to book your vacation through me and then all of my planning services are completely free!

Christmas Spirit at Fort Wilderness

 

I love to visit Disney World during the Christmas season.  All of the parks fill you with Christmas cheer as they are decked out for the holidays.  The Christmas spirit does not stop there.  My family enjoys going over to Fort Wilderness and taking a stroll through the campgrounds to see the wonderful display of Christmas decorations there.  What makes this so awesome is that the decorations are set up by RV guests who also want to be a part of the magic.  Many of these guests come to Fort Wilderness every year to make their display more extravagant than the year before.  You will find an impressive variety of high quality displays.  We have seen a miniature model of Cinderella’s castle with twinkling lights synchronized to music, beautiful displays of the Disney parks, inflatable characters, lights galore, and much more.

If you have the opportunity to check this out, it is a lot of fun.  You can visit Fort Wilderness by bus or take the boat from Magic Kingdom.  Better yet, you could stay at the campground.  They have many campsites and cabins to choose from.  They also offer a holiday horse drawn “sleigh” ride that can take you on a tour of the Christmas displays at an additional cost.

 

I would love to help you plan your next magical vacation to Disney World.  Contact me today for a no obligation quote.

 

Michelle Terry

MichelleT@travelwiththemagic.com

1-866-Hi-Miki-2