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Wednesday, January 19, 2011

New Fantasyland to open Fall 2012

Today Disney released some additional details about the ongoing construction for the new Fantasyland. The biggest relevation was a new indoor roller coaster based on the Seven Dwarfs Mine from Snow White.

The largest expansion in Magic Kingdom history will nearly double the size of Fantasyland and deliver a new home for Ariel, new ways to interact with favorite Disney princesses, an exciting new family coaster, a double dose of Dumbo and more.

Disney says the new area is scheduled to open in phases beginning in late 2012.

Among the highlights planned:
Under the Sea ~ Journey of the Little Mermaid, a major, all-new attraction during which guests will travel with Ariel and her friends through their exciting adventures above and below the waves – all against a musical backdrop of songs from the classic film.

The castle of the Beast, standing majestically upon a hill just across an old stone bridge from Ariel’s new home. The Be Our Guest Restaurant will feature a lavish dining experience in the elegant ballroom, gallery, and mysterious “West Wing” of the castle. With seating for 550, this magnificent facility will offer “great food fast” service by day and full table service dining in the evening. Nearby in Belle's Village, guests will find the rousing Gaston’s Tavern and Bonjour! Village Gifts.

Just outside the village is Belle’s cottage and Enchanted Tales with Belle. The adventure begins in Maurice’s workshop, where a magical mirror is the doorway to a captivating new kind of storytelling experience: Guests are transported to the Beast’s library to meet Belle and Lumiere, and share in a lively, interactive, re-telling of the “tale as old as time.”

Disney then said that in the second phase some new attractions will open including The Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, which will take guests on a rollicking, musical ride into the mine “where a million diamonds shine.” The coaster will feature a first-of-its kind ride system with a train of ride vehicles that swing back and forth, responding to every twist and turn of the track. The journey will be accompanied by music from the classic Disney film and animated figures of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.

In Princess Fairytale Hall, Aurora, Cinderella and other Disney princesses, such as Tiana and Rapunzel, will greet guests in their new home, an elegant royal court on the site where Snow White’s Scary Adventures stands today.

The sound of the calliope will lead guests to the brand new Storybook Circus and not one but two circling carousels of airborne pachyderms on Dumbo the Flying Elephant. Before taking to the skies on this Fantasyland favorite, guests can experience an array of fun-filled family games and interactive wonders for kids of all ages inside the Big Top.

Disney announced the Barnstormer will get a bright new look as well, featuring Goofy as "The Great Goofini." It’s a twisting, turning roller coaster “flight” high above the circus fun.

The construction is quite visable from current areas of Fantasyland. I'm sure we will be hearing more about these new attractions in the months to come. Personally, I can't wait for 2012!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Tip Tuesday: Saying thanks

Welcome to another Tip Tuesday!

How often do you think about telling someone they did a good job? How often do you think about sending a complaint when you receive poor service? If you're like most people, you're more likely to think about contacting a company to complain about poor service as opposed to contacting a company to share a moment of outstanding service.

I've been sharing my thoughts about Walt Disney World on this blog for more than three years now, and in countless posts, I keep talking about the fantastic work of the cast members at Disney. These are the people who truly make the magic happen each and every day from custodial and maintenance workers to Mousekeeping staff to food service crews to Imagineers to Guest Services. These people deserve, no, have earned a pat on the back from time to time.

Who can give them that bit of thanks? We do.

There are two ways to recognize a cast member for outstanding service. The first way is to stop at guest services (in a park) or the concierge (at a resort) and ask for a Great Guest Fanatic Card. These are cards that guests can fill out and give to Guest Services/Concierge to let Disney know that a cast member is doing a really great job. It doesn't take but a minute or two to let a cast member (and their manager) know that their hard work was appreciated.

The second way to recognize a cast member for outstanding service is to send an email or letter to Guest Relations. Email can be sent to wdw.guest.communications@disneyworld.com. Letters can be mailed to:


Walt Disney World Guest Communications
P.O. Box 10040
Lake Buena Vista, FL 32830-0040

In either case, be sure to include as much information as you can, including the cast members name (if you have it). In the case of a "friend of a character", include the character's name, date, time and location. It's a good idea to make a note of good service when it happens. Jot some basic information down before you forget it. Most of us have cell phones with some sort of note-taking feature.

Disney really does take the time to read every comment, good or bad. I've sent several emails to Disney giving praise for various cast members who truly were outstanding. In every instance, I received a thank you email from a Disney representative.

Take a moment to say thanks to a Cast Member for giving outstanding service. It's another way you can help make some magic for someone who is working hard to make magic for you.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Tip Tuesday: Boardwalk at night

Welcome to another Tip Tuesday!

Recently, I've been talking about all the fantastic things to do at the different Disney parks at night. However, there's also lots happening at Walt Disney World outside the parks as well. Best of all, some of it is free!

Along the boardwalk outside the Boardwalk Resort at night, street performers come out several times during the evening to give impromptu performances. While we were at the Boardwalk in December 2010, one cast member was performing several magic tricks, working with cards or doing memory tricks. Another was doing some small acrobatic acts. Of course each performer will pull various audience members to help with the magic acts or acrobatic stunts.

There doesn't appear to be any set time for when performances take place. Cast members just show up, set up shop and start interacting with guests as the pass by. Within a few minutes a small crowd gathers and soon gets much larger. Most of the time, they set up on the boardwalk near the entrance to the Boardwalk resort itself. I happened to catch both performers a few times. They will do their show, which is around 15 minutes, and then pack up. About 15-30 minutes later, they set up again in a new location along the boardwalk. This happens during the evening hours between sunset and the start of Illuminations.

Watch for yourself on Blip.tv. (I tried to embed the video, but it keeps coming as an "unplayable" error. Very odd.)

I happened to meet the magician as he was setting up and we had a few moments to talk about the mechanics of some simple hand magic. The cast member was very helpful and as other people started to watch, he moved right into his performance.

Beyond the boardwalk performers, the Boardwalk offers a great deal of nightlife options including Jellyrolls, which is a dueling piano bar (there usually is a cover charge and this is a 21 and older only bar) and the Atlantic Dance Hall, where you can dance the night away.

Then there's the ESPN Club, where you can sit back and watch a game (or two, or three) on multiple big screen TV's. The ESPN Club doesn't take reservations, so if you want to dine there, be ready to stand in line for a while.

The boardwalk also has a game center where you can try your hand a some traditional boardwalk games of chance to possibly win prizes. These are your typical midway games including basketball shooting, softball toss, water gun horse races and more. The games can get expensive (at least $5 to play), but it's a fun way to experience the boardwalk atmosphere.

Of course the boardwalk is lit up in lights all year round and is beautiful to see and walk around. It's a beautiful sight from the Yacht and Beach Club across Crescent Lake and makes a pretty evening picture.

Make time to visit the boardwalk during your next trip to Walt Disney World, it's a great way to get away from the parks for a bit and enjoy some different parks of Disney!

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Tip Tuesday: More tips on tipping

Welcome to another Tip Tuesday!

There are so many things to prepare in advance when planning a trip to Walt Disney World. From tickets, to accommodations to dining, there is a great deal of planning involved. Over the past two and a half years, I've talked at length about how planning in advance can make a WDW trip so much more enjoyable.

This week, I want to share some more tips about, well, tipping.

Now in a previous post, I talked about how much to tip for the various services at Walt Disney World, from Mousekeeping to restaurant servers to valet parking attendants. But how do you tip? What's the easiest way to take care of tips?

Let's take a look at some of the best ways you can take the stress out of tipping.

First, let's talk about Mousekeeping.

In my opinion, Mousekeeping is the unsung hero of many Walt Disney World resorts. These people make sure your room is clean and neat, and you rarely ever see them in action. The service they provide usually is top-notch and just great. So I feel it's very appropriate to express some gratitude to the Mousekeeping attendants.

I've found the best way to take care of Mousekeeping tips is to prepare them in advance. I've done this two ways and both work pretty well. First off, you will always be dealing with cash, so you need to have cash on hand. This may sound like a no-brainer, but in this put-it-on-the-plastic society, sometimes you can forget that you need some good old-fashioned money sometimes.

The best way to prepare Mousekeeping tips in advance is to think about how many nights you will be staying in your resort. If, for instance, you are staying five nights, then you need five tips. I pre-print an envelope dated for the morning AFTER that night (remember, you're leaving the tip the following morning). So if I was staying January 24-29, I would have five envelopes labeled January 25, 26, 27, 28, 29 and 30 with a big "Thank You!!" on the front of each. In each envelope, I place the cash tip for that day. As we leave the room each morning, I simply set out the envelope for that morning.

The other method is very similar, I used pre-printed index cards instead of envelopes. Either way, the point is to have those tips pre-prepared so you don't have to worry about how much to leave and if you have enough cash on hand.

Either way, try to have some fun in how you leave the tip, especially if you have kids with stuffed friends in the room. We've had Mickey and Minnie holding the tip envelope before or Pluto carrying it in his mouth like a newspaper. It's these little details that help make Mousekeeping's day a little more magical.

Next, let's head to the restaurant!

Again, I've used two methods for preparing tips at table-service restaurants. If you're planning to pay cash, you may want to check the menu for your particular restaurant in advance and get a general idea how much you're going to spend and can prepare an appropriate tip ahead of time. You can find menus and prices at allears.net and wdwinfo.com. There are some iPhone apps related to Disney Dining as well which can be helpful.

If you're paying with plastic (as most people do), then the tip is no sweat. Disney includes suggested tipping amounts (18 and 20-percent) with your check. Just add the tip to the amount you want to put on the card and you're done. It's just that easy.

Now for the valet parking attendants. Here, you just need to have some cash in hand. Like the restaurants, you should have a good idea in advance how many times you will be using valet parking and can get those tips ready ahead of time.

So there you go... some additional tips on tipping. I hope your 2011 has started off with success and are ready for a great year!!