Saturday, August 27, 2016

Ears the News: August 27, 2016 Edition

 
Welcome to the latest version of Ears the News

Brought to you by our friends at WDWMagic.com


Disney's latest ride, Frozen Ever After at Epcot's Norway Pavilion, now features an on-ride photo opportunity with PhotoPass.


Photo courtesy of WDWMagic.com
To preview, purchase and download your Frozen Ever After photo, you must be wearing a MagicBand during your ride. Your photo will be automatically associated to your My Disney Experience account, where it can be viewed at MyDisneyPhotoPass.com or in the My Disney Experience mobile app alongside all of your images from Disney PhotoPass Service.
Images can be purchased individually, or can be included as part of the Memory Maker package.

Wheelchairs will no longer be complimentary at Disney's water parks.

Like at its main theme parks, Disney is to begin charging for wheelchair use at its water parks.

Both Typhoon Lagoon and Blizzard Beach now charge $12, with a $100 refundable deposit, which is returned once the rental is completed.

The new policy makes the wheelchair rental process consistent across all of the Walt Disney World Resort properties.

Beginning August 28, 2016, there will be a new direct bus service from all Walt Disney World theme parks to Disney Springs from 4:00 PM to 11:00 PM (or until 2 hours following park close, whichever is earlier) daily.

Photo courtesy of WDWMagic.com
The new service is one-way only, meaning to return to a theme park, guests will need to first go to a Walt Disney World Resort hotel, and then transfer to a park bus from there.

Disney Springs recently opened its new bus terminal, which has much more capacity than the old Downtown Disney stops, and drops guests off right in the center of Disney Springs.


There will be a number of changes to the bus system at Disney's Saratoga Springs Resort beginning on August 29th.

A new internal bus service will begin running on August 29th. This dedicated bus will now run internally, stopping at the seven bus stops approximately every 20 minutes.

A new route will be added that will run directly from the Congress Park stop to the Typhoon Lagoon water park.

Lastly, bus service to Disney Springs is being discontinued. Guests being able to choose to take the Sassagoula River Cruise water taxi from the boat dock, or take the walkway from Congress Park.

Ready to start planning your next trip to Walt Disney World? Contact the team at Kingdom Konsultant Travel today!

Thursday, August 25, 2016

What's So Great About Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party?


                                 
   
Hey-Howdy-Hey, everyone!

     Well, it's that time of year again... the weather is starting to cool, (It went from 98 to 91 in Orlando, but that still counts!), Pumpkin Spice Lattes are due back in stores soon, kids are going back to school, and Disney Parks have already started stocking their shelves with Halloween merchandise. (Really.) I think it's safe to say that Fall is almost upon us.

     Now, if you have ever done any research about a trip to Walt Disney World in the Fall, I am sure that you have heard of a little something called "Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party." What IS MNSSHP, you ask? Well, it is a special, hard ticketed event at the Magic Kingdom, occurring a couple of times per week, on designated dates. This year's dates are: Sept. 2nd, 8th, 11th, 13th, 16th, 18th, 20th, 23rd, 25th, 29th, 30th, Oct. 2nd, 4th, 6th, 7th, 10th, 11th, 13th, 14th, 16th, 18th, 20th, 21st, 23rd, 25th, 27th, 28th, 30th, and 31st. The party admission is NOT included on a regular Magic Kingdom ticket. In fact, if you are visiting the Magic Kingdom on a night that the Halloween Party is scheduled to take place, be prepared that if you do not have tickets to the party, you will be escorted out of the park, promptly at 7pm. Wristbands are given out to clearly identify paying party guests. Party tickets run $72-$105 per adult and $67-$100 per child. (Prices vary a bit depending on whether or not you pre-purchase, and the date you plan on attending. September dates are the least expensive.) The party runs from 7pm-midnight. For official information, click  HERE.

     So, why would you shell out extra money to attend this event, when you already have park tickets? I'll tell you why... (lean in)..... IT'S AWESOME!!!! I've loved every single one I have attended, and I think The Hubs and I went to about 10 of them before we even had kids. We have done three with the kiddos and plan on doing at least one this year.


     So, yes, the rides and attractions are open for you to enjoy, with minimal waits, but let's start off with what's unique about the party and then I will give you a couple of tips to help you plan.


     The Halloween party has ALL sorts of special things happening during it that you will not get to see during regular park hours. The first thing you'll notice is that there's not only cool Halloween decorations all over Main Street, there are special lighting effects, spooky background sounds and music, and more.













     You'll be given a free Halloween goody bag to fill up, as you Trick-or-Treat your way around the park! That's right! Trick-or-Treating IN THE MAGIC KINGDOM!!!! All over the park you will find glowing orange globes, marking the Treat Stations where you can line up and collect your candy. And it's like, awesome candy! No crappy raisins here. Everything from Nerds and Wonka candies, to Snickers, M&M's and more! The Cast Members are generally pretty generous too. You can easily fill up the small treat bag they give you, and then some. In fact, feel free to bring a larger bag with you. That's a must for this family. We trick-or-treat like it's a sport!


     'But wait, Tink', you're saying to yourself. 'If I am going to trick-or-treat, I need a costume!' Well, dear readers, have no fear! You are welcome to get all done up in your Halloween finest, whether you're an adult or child, and whether you want to do it low key, and wear a Halloween t-shirt and Mouse Ears, or you want to do it up and wear an exact replica of Everest around your body and dress as a yeti. You will see anything and everything in the park that night. In fact, my absolute FAVORITE thing to do at Not So Scary is to people watch and check out the costumes other Guests come up with. Nothing like watching a bearded Ariel walking around the park, or seeing beautifully hand-made Wizard of Oz costumes on an entire family. Just remember that the weather may be really hot, or chilly, or rainy. Be prepared for all options. And keep in mind that you may want to board ride vehicles in your costume, so make it something easy to move in and easy to pack in your suitcase. For obvious reasons, costumes should not include weapons, or be offensive. (Keep it "Disney", Kids!) You can check out the costume guidelines, using the "official" Disney link, in the above paragraph.


     Like getting your pic snapped with the characters??? There are tons of characters out during Not So Scary, including some rare ones, like Jack Skellington and Sally. Plus, you'll see Mickey, Minnie and pals in their Halloween costumes! There are some super fun photo opportunities, Magic Shots and meet and greets! Last year you could visit all of these guys:
  • Mickey in his vampire costume
  • Donald in his Jack-o-Lantern costume, and Daisy in her princess costume
  • Minnie in her witch costume
  • Gaston
  • Merida
  • Tiana
  • Ariel
  • Tigger, Pooh, Piglet and Eeyore
  • Alice, Mad Hatter and the White Rabbit
  • Tinker Bell
  • All Seven Dwarfs together
  • Tarzan, Turk and Jane
  • Jack Sparrow
  • Lots-O-Huggin' Bear
  • Jack Skellington and Sally
  • Snow White with The Evil Queen
  • The Old Hag (Witch) from Snow White
  • Lady Tremaine and the Step Sisters (Anastasia and Drizella)
  • Aladdin, Abu, Genie and Jasmine
  • Peter Pan and Wendy
  • Aurora with Maleficent
  • The Queen of Hearts
  • Jafar
  • Mike, Sulley, Boo, Needleman, & George Sanderson from Monsters Inc, @ a Dance Party
     There are also opportunities to have "magic shots" taken by Photo Pass photographers, where magical things are added into your picture. For example, in front of the Haunted Mansion, you can pose for a photo, and ghosts will be magically added to your shot. Last year they also did a magic poison apple shot in front of the Castle. These pictures make super fun souvenirs!

   Oh, and there's Halloween entertainment all over! The Dapper Dans become the Cadaver Dans on Main Street. You can dance alongside your favorite characters at a DJ dance party next to Rockettower Plaza Stage in Tomorrowland. In 2015 it was themed to Monsters Inc. K and D LOVED dancing the Cha-Cha Slide with Boo!

     Last year, there was a brand new offering that completely stole the show! Everyone's favorite witchy sisters, Winnie, Sarah and Mary, The Sanderson Sisters from "Hocus Pocus",  put a spell on Guests with an incredible live stage show in front of the Castle. In "Hocus Pocus Villain Spelltacular", the sisters invite their Disney Villain friends like Oogie Boogie from "Nightmare Before Christmas" and "Dr. Facilier" from "Princess and the Frog", to conjure the spell of all spells, and make Guests dance into the wee hours. I can't even put into words how fantastic the show is. Like, I can't. Even. (Fangirl moment, sorry.) The sisters are all dead ringers for their movie counter-parts and MAN, can they sing! The show is WILDLY popular though, so, fair warning.... you're gonna have to work hard to get a spot to see it. We will get back to that in a bit, though.

The Sanderson Sisters will blow you away!

     Did I mention the food???? Special Halloween themed treats are sold all around the park, like Candy Corn flavored Cotton Candy or Soft Serve Ice Cream, or a Pumpkin Spiced Waffle Sundae. Halloween? More like Yum-O-Ween, am I right?!!?!!!



     Oh, and there's special Halloween merchandise items sold exclusively at the party, like pins, t-shirts, plush and more.


     Not convinced yet? Well I've saved the very best for last! Exclusively at Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party, you will get to enjoy one of the best EVER Disney parades, "Mickey's Boo To You Halloween Parade". The parade runs twice nightly, and starts off with the traditional running of the Headless Horseman on his mighty steed. You'll get to see fantastic floats and unique characters and scenes, like Captain Jack and Barbosa on a pirate ship, the ballroom dancers from The Haunted Mansion, Christopher Robin and his friends in the 100 Acre Wood, and even Wreck-It Ralph and Vanellope. Oh! And Bowler Hat Guy from "Meet the Robinsons" was there last year!!! That's a crazy-rare sighting! (If you have no idea who I am talking about, go Netflix "Meet the Robinsons" right now. In fact, buy it. You'll want a copy. It's awesome.) It's a fantastic parade, and worth the entry ticket in itself. But it gets even better....






     There's also a special Halloween version of the Castle projection show, Celebrate the Magic, and an incredible, you've got to see-it-to-believe-it fireworks show, Hallo-Wishes!



     The party is truly a remarkable and memorable night and totally worth going to, even if you are traveling with all adults!


     Now, let's get into how to make the most out of your not-so-spooky night. I will start with this recommendation: To make it more worth your while, don't buy a park ticket for the day that you'll be attending the party. Use this day as a "chillin' out day". Hang by the pool, do an elaborate breakfast out, walk around Disney Springs, or do something else fun outside of the parks. Make sure your kids, (even older kids), get a good nap in, and then head to The Magic Kingdom early. Your Not So Scary ticket will grant you entrance to the park as of 4pm, even though the Halloween festivities don't begin until 7pm. In the hours before the party starts, get in some rides and attractions. That way you can use more of your party hours to enjoy the actual themed events.

     I recommend knocking out the most popular character meet and greets early on, as lines get HUGE! There was a three hour wait to see Jack and Sally last year. That's a waste of a perfectly good Halloween party. Not that Jack and Sally aren't totally awesome. No offense, guys. It's just that, I didn't pay $70 to meet two characters. The most popular meet and greets tend to be the more unique ones, like the 7 Dwarfs, the old hag, Jack Sparrow and Lotso, so pick your favorite, and head there first. (Note that while the characters aren't out before the 7pm party start time, Guests will queue up well in advance, in order to be among the first in line.)

     Once you've hit up your "must do" character meet and greets, next, head on over to the Castle forecourt stage, and grab a spot for one of the Hocus Pocus shows. You will not be alone. Every show time last year was mobbed, and it was hard to find a spot to stand, but it's TOTALLY worth seeing, even if it's at a bit of a distance. In whatever downtime you have, visit the dance party, grab some cute pics, and try a Halloween snack of two. Do some trick-or-treating as you go, but hold off on the majority of it until the end of the night. I say this partially because you won't have to carry a heavy candy bag around all night this way, and partially because I personally found the Cast Members' candy-giving hands to get heavier as the night wore on, thus filling your bag quicker at the end of the night.

     Use the time during the first parade to hit up the attractions and meet and greets that you haven't gotten to, but are still high on your priority list. You'll find lines much shorter, because the first parade is always the busier of the two, therefore, a good number of Guests will be occupied during it, freeing up space elsewhere in the park. Make sure you are in front of the Castle for the fireworks, since most of them are designed to incorporate effects on the Castle too. Then, when it's time for the second parade, make your way to Frontierland, which you will likely find far less crowded than on Main Street. Enjoy Boo to You from there, and then, right before the party is over, trick-or-treat until you DROP!!!! If you can, stay until the very end of the night. You could maybe catch the very last Hocus Pocus show, or get the opportunity to take some super cool park photos, with very few Guests in the background. Just know that unlike when the Magic Kingdom normally closes, Main Street does NOT stay open beyond the party hours, so make sure you have already done your shopping and grabbed you snacks. You won't find so much as an ice cream cart operating after midnight. And there you have it! Best Not So Scary EVER!!!!!


     OK, so this is the way WE do Not So Scary. It doesn't work for everyone, but it's how I have found we get the most out of the party ticket price. No matter what, it's good to go into it with a plan. Look at info on last year's party, and earmark what attractions, meet and greets and entertainment are most important to you, and plan your night around those things. Know that you will NOT get to do everything. The parties have gotten spectacularly popular over the past couple of years, and Disney has upped the number of tickets that they will sell per event, leading to longer lines, busy dining locations, and crowded streets. You will still have a blast, as long as you keep the expectation for yourself that you're going to miss one or two things.

     OK, now contact the team at Kingdom Konsultant Travel to purchase your tickets and plan your night! Have a Spelltacular time!!!!!

- Jenn aka "Tink"

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Agent Spotlight - Tara

Where do you call home?  I live in a small town just south of Saratoga Springs NY called Mechanicville NY.

Are you married?  Yes I have been happily married for 18 years.

Any children?  We have 2 fabulous children; a boy who is 16 and a girl who is 12.

Favorite vacation destination?  Walt Disney World

Favorite Walt Disney World Resort?  Port Orleans Riverside

Favorite Walt Disney World attraction?  Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster

Favorite Disney restaurant?  Raglan Road, Disney Springs

Favorite Disney snack?  Sea Salted Chocolate Covered Caramel

Wishes, Fantasmic or IllumiNations?  Wishes

Favorite Disney Souvenir?  Disney Mugs

Earliest Disney vacation memory?  I visited Walt Disney World for the first time when I was 13 around 1987.  My brother and I rode Space Mountain over and over and over again.  My mother also made us ride It’s a Small World over and over and over again.

Disney Cruise Line, Disneyland or Walt Disney World?  Walt Disney World

Disney experience that brings tears to your eyes?  When I think of all the wonderful staff and all of the little things they do to make my stay special.  I dropped my coffee one day getting into the elevator and a maintenance woman helped me pick it up and then went downstairs and bought me a new coffee and brought it to my room for me.

Where have you traveled aside from Walt Disney World?  All across New York,  Niagara Falls (Canada and US sides), Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Washington DC, Maryland,  North Carolina Outer Banks, Virginia, St. Petersburg Florida, Oklahoma, California, Nevada (Las Vegas).

Favorite TV Show?  NCIS and Once Upon a Time

Favorite Movie?  What Dreams May Come and Rudy

Favorite Color?  Royal Blue

Favorite Book?  The Help

If you had to pick another job besides being a travel agent, what would you do?  I would work with animals.

Let Tara help you plan the perfect vacation for your family! 

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Agent Spotlight - Stacy L.


Where do you call home? Sunny and warm San Antonio, Texas!

Are you married? Yes, for 13 wonderful years

Any children? I have 1 daughter and 3 sons (it's a crazy life but I wouldn't have it any other way!)

Favorite vacation destination? Walt Disney World followed closely by the Caribbean

Favorite Walt Disney World Resort? Beach Club! I love the proximity to EPCOT as well as Stormalong Bay.

Favorite Walt Disney World attraction? Living with the Land.  I am a gardener so I love getting fun ideas for new ways to grow fruits and veggies.



Favorite Disney restaurant? Morimoto, Kona Cafe, or the Boathouse for sure! I'm excited to try all the new restaurants opening in Disney Springs too!!

Favorite Disney snack? Mickey Bars and Dole Whip Floats

Wishes, Fantasmic or IllumiNations? Wishes for sure

Favorite Disney Souvenir? Probably either one of my many Christmas Ornaments or my Tinker Bell coffee mug


Earliest Disney vacation memory? I remember performing with my High School Band and Choir in EPCOT

Disney Cruise Line, Disneyland or Walt Disney World? That's a tough one! Probably Disney Cruise Line.  I get the Disney magical experience while also enjoying some much needed relaxation during at sea days.

Disney experience that brings tears to your eyes? Watching my kids meet their favorite characters for the first time

Where have you traveled aside from Walt Disney World? Japan, New York City, Las Vegas, Washington DC, St Thomas, St Maarten, Cozumel, Cayman Islands, Branson, Chicago, New Hampshire, all over Texas and the Midwest and probably many more places that I am forgetting about.

Favorite TV Show? Top Chef, any of the Samantha Brown travel shows, and Big Bang Theory- BAZINGA!

Favorite Movie? The American President and The Little Mermaid

Favorite Color? Blue or Pink


Favorite Book? That's a tough one!! I absolutely love to read so I don't know if I can pick just one.

If you had to pick another job besides being a travel agent, what would you do? Prior to being an agent I was a Special Events Planner and that would be my other choice job :)

Let Stacy help your family plan the perfect vacation! 

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Restaurant Review: Disney's Aulani Resort in Hawaii

Aulani, a Disney Resort in  Ko'Olina, Hawai'i

For those who have the opportunity to experience Disney’s Aulani Resort & Spa in Hawaii, the dining options can be somewhat of a mystery until you arrive and experience them for yourself.  As I was pleased to discover, the food at Aulani is very delicious! For the incredible 10 days I was there I managed to try new foods and find new favorites.  There are two restaurants on-site that take advanced reservations, Ama Ama and Makahiki.   I suggest booking 6 months prior to travel to get your preferred dining times, especially for Ama Ama. Try to get a dining time during sunset for a gorgeous view.


Ama Ama Restaurant
SO many delicious desserts!
The sunsets in Hawaii are exquisite and watching it from a table at Ama Ama while you enjoy your meal is amazing.  The restaurant is open air, and there’s a beautiful view of the beach and the ocean.  A word of caution, the food is delicious, but may be a bit expensive, but worth it! There is a dress code, but it’s nice to have an excuse to get dressed up for dinner while on vacation.  Everything we ate was delicious - from appetizers to dessert! The most memorable was the crème brulee!  

Makahiki Restaurant
Named for the traditional Hawaiian celebration of the harvest, this is where Aulani’s character breakfast with Mickey, Minnie and Goofy is located. The characters wander around the resort, but here you can have your picture taken with Hawaiian Mickey.  Breakfast is buffet style, and the Stitch waffles were a favorite of ours. Breakfast buffets consist of traditional pancakes, french toast, waffles, island fruits, pastries and more.  Dinner is a non-character buffet consisting of a carving station, salad station, Asian inspired food, pasta and desserts. The lighting will change from morning to night to celebrate the setting of the sun.

Off The Hook Bar and Lounge
Coconut Shrimp Salad
This was our favorite eating spot! It’s a laid back bar-style restaurant, with a full bar for drinks and a small men. There are plenty of tables to sit and eat, and we had many lunches and dinners here.  The coconut shrimp was a favorite, as were the fish tacos. Food was served in dim sum bamboo style containers.   The fun tropical drinks were available in alcoholic and non-alcoholic versions, and the service was always friendly and quick.   The Wailana Pool Bar served the same menu on the other side of the resort next to the adults only pool.     


Malasadas!
Ulu Café
Your typical breakfast fare is served here, but with a Hawaiian twist. We ate most of our breakfasts here. I had the usual (eggs, bacon, and sausage) but always added the malasadas, which are fried Portuguese donuts with cinnamon sugar. Deliciously served warm - and there were never any leftover!!

Makahiki
Dinner is a chance to try many different Hawaiian foods, and indulge in crab legs. It’s also a buffet, so if you want to try Hawaiian pizza and don’t like it, no worries, you can move on to another food.  Lots of Asian-inspired foods are served as well.  Wear comfy pants to dinner because you’ll roll out of there! Dinner can be eaten on the patio as well.


We did venture outside the resort for a meal or two, but did find the relaxed atmosphere of the resort, and the tasty options there were enough to keep us from wanting to leave! At Aulani you will experience the luxury and accommodations you expect from a Disney Resort, but it the most beautiful and serene place on Earth!

-Agent Marla


 The Kingdom Konsultant Agents will help you plan a perfect vacation to Aulani, a Disney Resort and Spa. 
Contact us at vacations@kingdomkonsultant.com or Email marla@kingdomkonsultant.com if you have any Aulani questions.
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