Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Why Disney?

I often get asked, ‘Why Disney?  Why do you enjoy going back time and time again?  Wouldn’t you like to try someplace new?’
There are so many answers to this and it’s hard to capture even some of them but I’ll try.  The one answer I can say with confidence is, ‘We really enjoy going back over and over and no, we’re not looking into other vacation destinations at this time.’  Hmmm….unless you were to mention Disneyland and/or a Disney Cruise.  I’m hoping to take Hannah on our first cruise in 2014!
Some of the many reasons we love Disney…..
It’s great that our luggage is cared for from the moment we check into our departing airport until it’s in our room.  It’s just nice not to have to think about it. 
When we arrive in Orlando we walk to Disney’s Magical Express welcome kiosk, let them scan our tickets and board our bus right away.  There are 2 special moments for me on the Magical Express.  The first one is as we pull away from the Orlando airport and their Welcome video begins to play and the second is when we’re drive under the ‘Walt Disney World’ sign.  Wheee…we’re here!!!Walt Disney World sign
Disney does a great job at entertaining kiddos.  (No surprise there.)  This year there was a cast member outside the resort with a bubble gun, hula hoops and sidewalk chalk when our Magical Express bus pulled up.  IMG_7045
Before I began the check-in process Hannah was given a colouring book and crayons.  Helpful when she’s super excited to be at Disney and Mommy needs a few minutes to get things organized.IMG_7049
I appreciate that there is no need for me to rent a car.  Nice!  Magical Express picks us up at the airport and takes us back there and while we’re at Disney we can use a variety of their transportation systems:  buses, boats, monorails and more.Disney Bus
Heh….this could be a long post if I keep going like this since so far we aren’t even in our room so I’ll skip to some of the other reasons I love Disney.
Disney is consciously making waiting in lines easier and easier.  The Dumbo ride was recently refurbished.  Not only did they add a second ride thus doubling the seating capacity of this fun ride, they also added a great, indoor interactive play area!IMG_7061
The best way to explain it is you enter the waiting area and are soon given one of those light-up, buzzy things like they use in restaurants.  At that point there is an indoor, air conditioned play area for the kids and seating for the parents.  Ah!  When it’s your turn to ride Dumbo your thingy lights up and buzzes, you gather your kiddos and get in line for the next ride.  That works!
Winnie-the-Pooh recently refurbished their ride too and it now has a whole area of fun activities for the kids to play with during the wait.

Even waiting to meet characters is more fun.  While waiting to meet Merida there was a colouring station and also a cast member helping the kids try out their archery skills!  All these things and more make line time much more fun.IMG_7139
Disney also has many rides and shows that feature a pre-show as preparation.  Not only does it help you prepare for what’s coming in a fun way but it’s entertaining too.  You can also see from the pic above that lines and queues are not just cement slabs with chains.  They’re full of things to look at, appreciate and explore.
Another fun thing to do during the wait is to look for ‘Hidden Mickey’s’.  That little mouse is everywhere and you can just look around and try to find him (such as in this fence below) or, by using the official ‘Hidden Mickeys’ book.hidden-mickey-s-everywhere
This visit we also found some new character spots for autographs.  At Disney’s Hollywood Studios while waiting to meet Buzz and Woody there were lots of great little places to take pictures.  This time Hannah and I both took pics of one another and she did a great job!IMG_7529
Even waiting for the evening parade was made more fun when cast members came out and created a hop scotch board on the ground using masking tape and the the kids had fun playing on it without even realizing we were passing the time.IMG_7379
Since our major trip each year takes place in August it’s hot, hot, hot at Disney!  I’m thankful for the splash pads that are in many of the parks and also for the complimentary glasses of ice water that are available at every counter restaurant and location that serves fountain pop.  IMG_7177
As the Mom of a 3yo this next ‘little’ thing is a wonderful help!  The majority of restrooms at Disney have a ‘teeny tiny sink’ for kids.  SO much easier then trying to lift them up to wash their hands each time they use the restroom.IMG_7321
This next ‘I love Disney because….’ moment was new to me this visit and I was so enthralled by these 2 great people that I barely watched the first 10 minutes of the musical as I just watched them.  I love that Disney does their best to include everyone!

This is just one of the ways that Disney strives to include all people.  There are many forms of assistance available which warms my heart.  There are interpretive headphones that are available free of charge that will translate many of the rides and shows into French, German and Spanish.
Another thing Disney is known for is their ability to assist people who live with food allergies.  On our recent trip we spent time with kiddos who have a nut allergy.  Every food cart and restaurant has a binder which lists every food they offer and all the ingredients in each item.  When we’d go someplace new to eat the binder was readily accessible and often it was the manager who came to the window and spoke with the parents.  When we went for dinner one of the chefs came right to our table, talked about every food on the buffet (and offered to walk us through the buffet area and let them know what foods may contain nuts or may have come in contact with nuts) and also offered to make all 3 of the kiddos a special dessert even though Hannah was fully able to eat from the buffet.  IMG_7667I know it was a big relief for my friends to travel without as many food concerns as they normally faced.
One more thing Hannah and I both enjoyed was going back to our room each night to see what Mousekeeping had done with her stuffed animals.  How much fun are these little displays!IMG_7551
IMG_7213  IMG_7393
There is SO MUCH that I love about Disney but this post has been about the more unusual things that we don’t always think about.
I love that every single cast member treats people like they matter and with great respect.    The motto at Disney is ‘Have a Magical Day’ and that’s exactly what each day at Disney is!
I’m guessing as soon as I hit ‘publish’ I’m going to remember some other reasons I love Disney.  What are some of your favourite unusual reasons?


  1. AND on top of all of that...It really is a great value for what you get!!!

    Make sur e you contact me when youa re ready to book your cruise. Cruises are my vary favorite and I give extra Onboard credits. :)

    I really think you and Hanna will adore a cruise!

    1. Thanks Lisa! I sent you a quick email to begin inquiring about pricing for a cruise in 2014.

  2. I also LOVE Disney for all the reasons you mentioned (my daughter has multiple anaphylactic food allergies and Disney is indeed the best for eating out).

    I have a few things I'll add as my favourites...first the shows are amazing, Beauty and the Beast at HS is one of my favourites but they are all beautifully done (on the ship this is true as well).

    Second, I love that being at Disney brings out the kid in all of us. My son is 11 and my daughters are 7 & 4. My 11 yo still enjoys Disney as much as the 4 year old and I love seeing that young-childlike smile on their faces!

    Third, I love dressing my girls for a Disney vacation...I usually pick up lots of fun Disney stuff and this time I made a few shirts/dresses for them with cute mickey heads.

    You and Hannah should absolutely try a Disney cruise. We went on our first one this past summer and it truly was our best family vacation ever (if you want to read about the Disney ships I have lots of info and pictures here: http://bye-bye-babyhood.blogspot.ca/2012/07/bestvacationever.html)

    1. I would LOVE to go on a Disney cruise but the finances just don't allow for it right now. (Well....as long as we continue to want to go to the parks at least twice a year.) I've been saving for our first cruise for almost 7 years now and am getting there. My goal is for us to go sometime in 2014 when Hannah is 5. I think that will be a great age for her since it's not something we'll be able to do often.

      Off to check out your blog posts!

  3. I can totally relate to your post! We just spent 3 days at Disneyland and they truly make a family vacation effortless. We are not big Disney people, but I appreciated every detail, effort, smile and gesture from the castmembers and completely understand why so many families buy into the Vacation Club and/or take annual vacations there. Our kids (7 and 3) loved, loved, loved the experience and we are looking forward to our upcoming November trip to WDW and a Disney Cruise (I know, for non-Disney folks this is an overload :)). Thanks for sharing your trip with us, I enjoyed every little adventure!

  4. I can't take the lines for the rides anymore, but the phrase that always comes to mind whenever I think about Disney is "Attention to detail".

    A co-worker recently took the family to the Disneyworld. He was griping about the prices before they left. But he was blown away by the visit. He kept saying, "You can eat off the ground, it's so clean!"

    Disney cruises for us, now mostly.

  5. We go to Disney every year as well, sometimes twice a year. We live a lot closer though (Louisiana) so alot of the time we drive. We even went to Disney on our Honeymoon, a few months after we brought our daughter home from China, and when my husband returned from Iraq (both times). When we think of family fun and togetherness, Disney is the place that always comes to mind. Even though I broke my leg on our last trip (going down the steps in the restaurant in Mexico) in May, I still can't wait to go back! I haven't had the courage to go on a Disney Cruise yet. I am terrified of being on a boat in the middle of the sea, and the Concordia disaster did nothing to ease my fears. Silly I know, but I am working on it. If I ever get the courage to go on a cruise, it will be a Disney Cruise.

    Courtney B.

  6. Oh it all looks fabulous, and I'd love to go on a Disney Cruise, too...I know E (and her Mommy!)would LOVE it. :)

  7. I'm planning on take Meigan to Disney next Feb for the first time. Your post has got me really excited Catherine!

    BTW..I love your funny face pics. Meigan has really gotten into that lately and makes me do them too. :)


    1. That's awesome Becky! You and Meigan will have such a great time together! 4 is a perfect age for Disney!!

  8. I have followed your journey since before you went to China! I've never commented, but I just had to this time. As a native Floridian you amaze me. I have learned so much about planning a Disney trip from you, lol. As a single mommy to be, I dream of the day I can take my prince or princess on their first Disney vacation.

    There is just so much to love about Disney, and every time I go I experience something new. I will say I'm impressed you can brave the Florida summer...it can be brutal at times. Then again its hard not to have a wonderful time at Disney...no matter the weather.

    Thank you for sharing your journey with us.


    1. Oh Kris, you're so right! FL summers are intense! If someone tells me they can't handle the heat then I tell them do not go to Disney in the summer! I remember standing still a few times waiting for something and rivers of water ran down my back.

      When we take advantage of the free glasses of ice water Disney offers Hannah drinks some and then we pour some over her head! Even with that she's dry within a short period of time. We just don't do it before going to an indoor show, store or attraction as something else Disney does really, really well is air condition their buildings!

  9. We love Disney too. We live in the UK, so it's a big trip for us to make, but we are still drawn back year after year. it's just such an easy vacation, there's no risk, I know we will all enjoy ourselves and that everyone of any age will be happy and entertained.
    We tried a beach holiday one year instead, and we struggled to keep everyone entertained. We had afternoons when we didn't know what to do with ourselves. That's never happened at Disney.

    We've tried a short cruise twice. They are easy to combine with a Disney vacation and not as expensive as a full week. I really enjoyed them both. I'd love to do a week's Med cruise next summer, but the prices are just too high :(

    1. When we go on our cruise I've decided we'll do a 'cruise only' vacation for 7 days and not the parks that time. I know Hannah and I and we'll want to explore and enjoy as much of the ship as is humanly possible so a longer cruise should be good for that. Also, since the new ship has 'live' portholes in the indoor cabins (ie. Displays real time images of what the real port holes are seeing) we'll get a lesser priced cabin. I'm not sure we'll even get off the ship at all the ports. We'll see. That will be a whole new adventure to learn about, plan for and share here. My only fear (and I'm pretty sure it's an accurate one) is that I'll fall in love with Disney Cruising and want to go back more often than the wallet allows. *sigh!*

    2. Hi Catherine, we did our first Disney cruise this summer!! Brilliance had a ball but she said she enjoyed the Parks more "because there was more to do". She's 6. However, when we got off, she said, "4 days is too short. We need to go 8 days next time!" I totally agreed with her!!

      We originally booked a level 10 cabin for the inside porthole but I later decided that I wanted one of those giant 6 foot portholes. That was an 8c cabin. It was only a couple of hundred more. :). It was a cabin that "could" fit 5 but we were a group of 3. Two weeks before we sailed, we got a great free upgrade to a 5c cabin with a veranda!!! Did I mention it was free???? Wow!!!! I would totally book that cabin-type again!

      They haven't released the 2014 cruise dates yet. Soon!

  10. You have to go on the disney cruise! BEST EVER!

  11. I'd like to try Disney World someday. We've been to Disney Land twice and I'm done. As in I don't think I can get anymore out of it and I believe it is too expensive to be a regular destination.

  12. Have you ever considered another type of vacation? Perhaps a cabin in the woods, horseback trailriding, swimming, boating, hiking and such stuff? It is definitely a quieter type of vacation, but one that small children enjoy as well.

    1. If you follow our blog you'll know that we also spend time at cottages with family and friends but Disney is our #1 choice for a vacation destination further away from home. No apologies here for sticking with something we love.

  13. Have you ever considered joining the Disney Vacation Club? I have thought about that often when I read about your love of Disney vacations. We bought 200 DVC points 2 years ago, and an additional 100 points last year. We travel as a family of 6 (myself and my husband, our 2 kids, and my parents), so we need the extra points. For just 2 of you, something as low as 100-150 points may be enough -- and sometimes they offer promos like "buy now, and get double the points in your first year" (which can then be rolled over). We used our points last year for an 8-day vacation at Bay Lake Towers (next to the Contemporary), and we are heading to the Disney Aulani in Hawaii next month for a full week. We are thinking perhaps of London next year with the points through the RCI exchange system. The nice thing about the DVC rooms, too, is that they always have a small kitchen, and the one-bedroom ones and up have full washers and dryers, so we can save $$ by cooking too. We also get park discounts as DVC members. You can also use your points for the non-DVC hotels/ resorts.. for example, at WDW, I think there are 3-4 DVC resorts, but you can also use points towards other Disney resorts. You can also use them for cruises, but honestly, I think they "overcharge" for points on Disney cruises.. we could pay cash for a percentage of that.

    RE the cruises, keep an eye on Vacations to Go (www dot vacations to go dot com). Their cruises are usually 40-50% off, and we have done some fabulous cruises that way.



  14. TEM, Thanks so much for you input. This is something I've wondered about but have never looked into. When I'm at Disney I'm too worried about being 'caught up in the moment' and buying on a whim. I'm going to look into the further but am almost positive that I cannot afford a DVC membership. We tend to travel during the Free Dining promotions so all food is paid for so there is no cost to us. I do not believe this offer is available to DVC members. Please correct me if I'm wrong.

    Our trips are very economical as we go during FD and stay at Value Resorts. I have never stayed at anything higher than a value resort purely because my choice would be to go more often than it would be to upgrade to a Moderate or Deluxe resort. They're beautiful but you can tell from our posts that we're only in the room to sleep and that's about it. We love ALL that Disney offers and don't tend to spend much time at our resort.

    I also enjoy the break vacation offers from cooking meals and doing laundry. We may do 1 or 2 loads during a trip but that only happened 1 time and this time I packed more carefully and we didn't need to do any laundry.

    This year's trip for the 2 of us for 9 nights at Pop Century, all meals, 8 day park tickets and all transportation was under $1800. (For those curious the $1800 was for the two of us not each! Yes - DISNEY IS AFFORDABLE!) I'd be shocked if a DVC membership could touch that price but I'll look into it.

    May I ask how much each point costs? Just curious.

    I love the variety of destinations that a DVC membership offers but again it may come down to dollars and cents and I'm guessing those dollars and cents will be out of budget right now.

  15. The cost per point depends on your home resort. Our home resort is the Bay Lake Towers. I have no idea what we paid per point, but maybe about $140 plus/ minus. DVC offers all sorts of promos, like lower $ per point, or maybe additional points for free... they are always running something. When we bought ours, the promo was that they doubled our initial's year's points. So we bought 200, and got 400 allocated the first year (after that, it is 200/ year). We will be using a good portion of our points for the Aulani trip for a 2-bedroom ocean-view suite, but will still have enough from the initial bonus to plan a nice trip next year as well. As an FYI, we financed ours out over 10 years, and pay per month on all 300 (we plan to accelerate that payment soon). Disney offers good financing options.

    RE food, they do not offer free food/ meal plan options, to the best of my knowledge. We used the Disney Meal plan last year, and paid cash.

    But as an example, our trip to the Aulani is nearly 100% covered: room is covered with DVC points, and airfare and car with American Express points. So we only need to pay for food, tourism, etc. Basically, we see DVC as financing our vacations out for a few years, until the points are paid for, then we'll be able to travel each year, for all 6 of us, on just the maintenance payments (about $400/ year currently). We liked that option a lot.

    You mention using the hotel only for sleeping, and I thought I'd throw this in. DVC members at DVC resorts (like the Bay Lake) can use special features at the resort, not available to any one else. For example, each DVC resort has a kid's clubhouse, with games, movies, activities, and some even have babysitting for an evening out. The Bay Lake, for example, also has a rooftop lounge where DVC members staying at Bay Lake can go at 9:00 for the Magic Castle fireworks, and they pipe in the music. Each resort also has movies on the lawn each night, etc. So it's a nice way to get away from the parks a little, and still allow our kids to experience Disney. We rented movies from the club house last year, and ours kids spent some time there playing games, doing crafts, etc.


    1. Thanks for your help! DVC is a great option for some but not even close to being in the budget for us at this time.

      Thanks for all the info you provided!

  16. Gotta love a place that loves you back!

  17. When you are looking into a cruise, look at the ship more so than the length of the cruise as the older ships are good but the newer ships (Dream and Fantasy) have just that much more on them (however you have to deal with a lot more people) We have done a 3 day(Magic)with 4 day park and 4 day(Dream)with 3 day park and it was just enough ship and park highlights... also if you want a combo, do cruise first then park or you are sitting at the airport at 0800 waiting for your flight as you have to be off the ship bright and early for them to ready it for the crowd coming on in the afternoon

  18. Thanks for your tips. Because we go to the parks often I really want to take a longer cruise and enjoy the ship to it's fullest. There are so many shows, pools, activities, etc on the ships (especially the newer ones you mentioned) I'm fully prepared to wait until there is a 7 day cruise on a ship that I want to go on. On our WDW trip in August we spent 3 1/2 days in Magic Kingdom alone and still did not do everything we wanted to. I can't imagine with our touring style and 3 or 4 days on a ship would be nearly enough. I'd much rather leave the ship feeling like we had too much time on it rather than not enough as cruises for us will sadly be few and far between. (Hehe...says she before she's gone on even one cruise! I have a feeling we're going to be hooked!!)

  19. So many good tips of things that I wasn't even aware of.

    Good things to keep in mind for sure. Love the picture of the toys in the window!


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