Resorts

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Photo and Video Tour: Put on your coconut bra and grass skirt! It’s time for the Luau!

Published May 4, 2012 by Disneyways.com

I have wanted to go to Hawaii for pretty much as long as I can remember.  I’m a BIG Elvis fan and the movie Blue Hawaii probably influenced this in some way. A tan, handsome, young Elvis gyrating among the beautiful scenery of a Polynesian background? What’s not to like?! I guess since I love the thought of Hawaii, I love the thought of a luau, even if it’s just right here in my home town of Orlando Florida.

Luau 2

My mother first came up with the idea a few months before. She wanted to get the family all together for something really special and fun. I promise I did not suggest or influence her in any way to pick the Disney luau, she came up with it all on her own.  It took about a month to get our entire group to agree on a date but it finally happened. We picked Friday April 27, 2012. This also happened to be my cousin’s birthday. Matt is a quiet guy who doesn’t like a lot of hoopla or attention on his birthday but he agreed this might be ok as long as we didn’t buy gifts or go to crazy.

Luau Matt

I sent out the first email and everyone seemed excited about the big day! I made a list of all the names and counted it 4 times. Could we really be a group of 16??? Yes we could – and in fact — we ended up adding one more a couple weeks later for a grand total of 17. Wow! We lost my Dad about a year ago and I just couldn’t stop thinking about how much he would have loved this. I missed him through the whole process (and again on the big night) but I feel like he was watching the whole time. I think he would’ve loved to make it a party of 18.

My Mom decided on category 2 seating. When I called to make the reservation – all that was left was category 1. There was no changing the date now — so we went with it.  I read and researched all I could about the luau just so I could make sure it was something everyone would like AND to try and help things to go as smoothly as I possibly could. The main thing that bugged me was why we had to be there an hour early. Disney policy states this for the luau and they even read you that policy again when you book the reservation. There was very little I could find on the internet about why this policy was in place.

My Mom and I headed to the Polynesian a couple of days early to pick up what I thought were going to be “tickets” to the luau, which are normally at the concierge desk. It was that magic time of around 7:30pm however. I knew there would be cast members at the luau podium this time of night so we made a beeline for the podium first with my list of questions in hand.

Sure enough, the crowds were filing in for the 8pm show and there were cast members waiting to greet us. I told them we were early for the Friday night show (this was Wednesday) and I had some questions. They were happy to assist. My first question was about parking. When my Mom and I pulled up that night we got one of the last spaces available. I was fearful with our big group that there might not be enough spaces for all of us! The cast member didn’t really know what to say. Just then I really lucked out and a manager approached us! The cast member repeated the question for him and just like that – that manager was MINE. The poor guy had no idea what he was getting in to. He politely calmed my fears by stating that parking has never been a problem for luau guests– and we could always pay to valet if we really needed to. He was surprised to hear the lot was so full on this particular evening. OK, so I was satisfied with that answer. I smiled sweetly and asked, “Do you have a few more minutes to answer my other questions?”

“Sure!” he replied in all his typical Disney helpfulness. So off we went…

“We have a group of 17. Do we really need to be here an hour early?” His response: “There is no reason for you to get here that early IF you have already picked up your ticket.”

“Ticket?” I asked, “I thought there would be 17 tickets.”

“Nope,” he replied, “ What you actually get is a slip of paper that has your confirmation number on it and says party of 17. That acts as your admission to the luau.”

WOW! One little slip?

I was shocked. This was a wonderful thing because I had no idea how I would see everyone beforehand to give them a ticket and what if they lost it? It’s just one little slip so I didn’t have to give anyone anything. Awesome.

Next I asked him about being tardy. My nephew Jason would be working that night and not able to get to the luau until probably 9pm or later. The manager said that wasn’t a problem and if my nephew was REALLY late we could ask for a refund on his ticket.

Finally, I asked him about seating. All he could promise me was that we’d be in Category 1 because that’s what was paid for. Oh well, I tried.

Friday night finally came and we all met at my Mom’s to carpool.

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We got through all the gates and parking without incident. Everyone was in a great mood when we arrived. I was SO glad I had talked to the manager because even though we weren’t super early, we still ended up standing around outside with no where to sit for 20 minutes or so, even after the formal pictures were taken.

When we finally got in however, things went great. The food was fantastic, the show and costumes were awesome. I couldn’t help but bob my head and wiggle a little in my chair to that music. It was a wonderful night. One of the highlights of the night was that they just happened to pick my nephew, pull him up on stage, and have his shake his booty like a rock-star. He was a great sport!

Here’s a few photos from our big night.

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This is not video that I took but it’s a great 4 minute clip of what the show is like.
All in all, we had a blast. Go see this thing if you get a chance! I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

 

It’s a Tall World after all!

Published April 23, 2012 by Disneyways.com

My husband is a big Starbucks fan – so I’m hoping this great news might get my Decaf Dude to come to the parks with me more often! The one and only Starbucks announced today that they will soon have a presence at all the Disney theme parks.

You’ve got to be a California girl (or boy) to be the first to see it. Starbucks says they will open the first of six Starbucks locations in June at Disney California Adventure and then Disneyland Park. Disneyland guests can enjoy their “ pick me up” at the brand new Fiddler, Fifer and Practical Café. The Fiddler location will be themed to the 1920’s vision of Buena Vista Street. Sounds pretty cool to me!

Not long after – Florida will be “perked-up” Seattle style  in the Walt Disney World resort! More specifically, we will enjoy Starbucks in Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Hollywood Studios, AND Animal Kingdom. The new locations will serve coffee, espresso, frappuccino, signature Starbucks sandwiches, pastries, and desserts.

Please note the Swan and Dolphin Resorts on Walt Disney World property have served Starbucks for quite a while. These resorts aren’t Disney owned. Now we can make magical memories right inside the parks without sacrificing our morning cup of joe from Starbucks!

The “Art” of hearing music under water

Published April 12, 2012 by Disneyways.com

I am so excited about Disney’s Art of Animation Resort at Walt Disney World that is opening soon. This will be a much needed addition to the line of “value resorts” which are often quite full due to the fact that we don’t all want to mortgage our house just to stay on Disney property! Yesterday I heard that the Art of Animation Resort will have the biggest pool on all of Walt Disney World, except for the water parks. It will be called the Big Blue – a nod to the Fining Nemo movie. I have seen some Walt Disney World resort pools, and let me tell you, none of them are what I consider small. I have a feeling the Big Blue is going to live up to it’s name. There’s another thing…we will be able to hear music when we are under water in the Big Blue. How cool is THAT?

The Finiding Nemo themed family suites will be opening first on May 31, 2012, followed by the Cars family suites on June 18, 2012, and the Lion King suites on August 10th. If you have a smaller party and don’t need all the space a suite provides, you will want to wait for the Little Mermaid standard rooms opening September 15th. It is still sweaty, sticky hot in Florida in September so make sure you leave some time in your schedule to enjoy the Big Blue. You can book your stay right now! I checked yesterday and amazingly – they are showing availability for certain dates.

Here’s a link so you can practice singing the song under water if you want to – your secret is safe with me!

My Love for a 5 Legged Goat

Published April 5, 2012 by Disneyways.com

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I don’t know where I heard about him first. I do, however, remember the first time I shared him with someone. How do I remember? Because we got it all on film.

I had the video camera and I was panning the beautiful and historic mural in the main lobby of Disney’s Contemporary Resort. I was feeling so smart, and decided to impress my sister-in-law with one of my Disney “pearls of wisdom”…so I say,

“Somewhere on here there is a 4 legged goat.”

Her response…so sweetly and non-condemning…

”Don’t ALL goats have 4 legs?”

I laugh out loud because I realize I am so smitten with this goat and how he makes me feel — that I have forgotten the very trivia I was so proud of “bestowing” upon my sister-in-law!

“YES!” I respond through my laughter, “I meant FIVE legged goat…and now we’ve got that on FILM!”

Most people really appreciate him for the history and “legend” mural surrounds him. After all, it’s a totally awesome thing. The large mosaic where he lives was created in 1971 with 1,800 one-square-foot tiles and took 18 months to construct. It was designed by Disney Imagineer Mary Blair, who is also known for her contributions to the “look” of the “It’s a Small World” attraction. The legend states that Mary believed that no piece of artwork should be perfect – because only God is perfect – so she purposely created the “mistake”. I don’t know if it’s legend or truth, but what a wonderful story! To think this “mistake” has since become one of the greatest loves of my life just cracks me up.

In the encompassment of the fabulous mural itself, it’s easy to miss the five legged goat. He stands amongst the stylized denizens of the mosaic – one of many goats and other figures – just a face in the crowd.

Still, he draws MY eyes to him like a magnet. You see, he makes me so proud that I know about him, and I love the conversation and interaction with others that he creates. I always get a rush when I tell someone who has never seen him that he is there.

The reaction is pretty similar across the board. First a raised brow and a high pitched “Really?” is voiced. Then they want me to show them where he is. Finally when he’s revealed – whether they are just humoring me or not – most people get wide-eyed and whisper,

“That is SO cool!”

I am once again (in my own mind) crowned the Queen of Disney knowledge and I beam with excitement and pride.

It just goes to show you, when looking for love, not all girls are into outward perfections.

*To read more about the 5 legged goat: Dave’s Disney World Blog

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