Thursday, May 26, 2011

The Ins and Outs of Disney Magical Express

Have you ever used Disney's Magical Express?  I have and I LOVE it!

But what is Disney's Magical Express?  Guess what?  I'm about the explain to you all about how this great service works! you've got a vacation coming up, you're staying on property and you don't want to have the added expense of renting a car...what are you going to do?

Well in 2005, Disney rolled out a fabulous way to allow for guests to get to the resorts without much hassle at all.

Disney's Magical Express is a transportation service that Disney provides out of Orlando International Airport (otherwise known as MCO) using motor coaches to transfer guests and their luggage to the Walt Disney World Resort...all for FREE! 

So how does it work?  Well, you'll need to be signed up for it at least 10 days prior to your trip.  You can call 866-599-0951. You can also add flight information to your itinerary by visiting your My Disney Experience account, or through your travel agent.  You will need to know your arriving and departing times and flight numbers.  While you can register for this up to 10 days prior, it is recommended that you do so at least 6 weeks in advance.  You see, if done 6 weeks in advance, Disney will send you a packet of information, which has some very valuable items included.  More on that in a moment.  Packets will only be mailed to guests visiting from the United States or Canada...guests visiting from other countries will receive information once you check in at the Disney's Magical Express Welcome Center.

So, this packet I was talking about?  What's in it?  Well first is an informational booklet letting you know additional and important advice.  Second are these yellow luggage tags.  These are important!  Make sure to put them on your luggage before you leave your home airport.  Why?  That will be explained soon.  Disney will only mail guests 1 tag per person, but don't fret.  If you have more than one piece of luggage call 866-599-0951.  

When you pack your bags at home, make sure to pack any essentials you may need during those first 3 hours or so in your carry on bag.  This would include medicines, clothes to change into, swim gear, etc.  

So, now it's time for your flight.  Take off, just like you normally would.  Once you land at the airport, that's when the Disney magic takes place.  Don't head to baggage claim (unless it is after 10pm, then you will need to claim your luggage first)...instead, head to the Disney's Magical Express Welcome Center.  This is located on the B side of the airport on Level 1.  Once there, if you have your booklet that was mailed to you in the packet of information, the Disney Cast Member will escort you to the Red Carpet.  If you do not have the booklet or you had additional luggage that wasn't tagged with the yellow Disney Magical Express Tag, then you will need to proceed to the counters first.  

Once you've gotten to the podium at the Red Carpet, the Cast Member will direct you to a line that corresponds with a bus.  That will be the motor coach you take to your resort.  Soon, you will be escorted to the correct vehicle.  More often than not, your vehicle will include people who are staying at other resorts besides the one you are staying at, so be prepared to make a few stops along the way.  From there, relax, let Disney do the driving, and enjoy the video that's played.  You'll be on Walt Disney World property typically in around 30-45 minutes.  

Now I know you're asking yourself...what about my luggage?  We forgot about my luggage?  Nope!  As long as those yellow tags are on your luggage before you leave home, it will be magically transported to your room.  It may take up to 3 hours after you arrives for it to appear at your resort, which is why I suggested making sure to have essential items with you in your carry-on, but it's really cool to be able to go straight to the parks, come home and see your luggage sitting right there in your room when you get back.'ve had a fabulous trip...but's almost time to leave.  So what happens then?  Well, Disney has that under control too.

The day before you leave, Disney will hang an envelope on your doorknob.  The Envelope of Sadness!  They try to make it more fun by putting Mickey on the front...but doesn't work.  You know it means you're going home.

In this letter, Disney will inform you of the time you will be picked up from the resort (it's usually 3 hours before your scheduled flight time, though it's 4 hours early if you are an international traveler).  Keep in mind, when you board the bus, you must have the vouchers with you that were included in the booklet that Disney mailed to you before your trip.  (If you've not received the vouchers in the mail, they will be given to you at the Welcome Center in the airport.)

Disney does also allow for Resort Airline Check in Service, which works similar to the service where they dropped off your luggage, in the fact that once you drop off your luggage at the Check In counter, you won't have to mess with it until you land.  Keep in mind that only certain airlines participate and that any baggage fees must be paid in advance, otherwise Disney will not allow you to participate.  Also, something to keep in mind is that your luggage MUST be checked in no later than 3 hours prior to your scheduled flight time.  If you are even a few minutes late, they will not accept it.  (I know this from experience).  The resort check in area is not open all day, so make sure to check your luggage before they close, otherwise you'll have to take your luggage with you on the bus back to the airport.

Once your luggage is checked, do what you want to do for the day.  You can still use the motor coach if your airline does not participate in the Resort Check In Process or if you are late with checking in, you'll just need to carry your luggage with you to the bus and you'll need to check it at the airport.

When your scheduled time approaches, you'll need to head to the Disney Magical Express loading area out in the front of your hotel.  (Symbolized by the Magical Express logo).  Hand over the vouchers we talked about earlier to the bus driver, board the bus, and he'll take you back on the sad drive back to the airport.

So, that's Disney's Magical Express in a nutshell.  Personally, I love it and use it any time I am staying on Disney property.  I like that it is just one added expense that I don't have to have.  Plus, for some reason, using Disney's Magical Express really is one of those signs that I'm in Florida and I'm about to start a wonderful Disney vacation.

Have you used it before?  Do you like it?  Does the idea of allowing Disney to take your luggage for you make you leery?  Let me know your experiences in the comments section!

Monday, May 23, 2011

News and Rumors 5/16/11 - 5/22/11


Disney's Hollywood Studios

  • Star Tours II is now open for flights daily
  • Anaheim Produce will be closed for refurb until June 24th.

General WDW News

  • The Yacht Club's quiet pool will be closed for refurb May 26th and 27th.  
  • It appears that when booking online dining reservations, you will now not be able to book multiple reservations for the same time period in a day.
  • Lots of great concept art came out this week about the new Disney's Art of Animation Resort.  To see it, please visit here.   


  • Hearing it's quite probable the Let the Memories Begin Campaign, along with the Magic, Memories, and You Castle Show will be continuing through 2012. 

Friday, May 20, 2011

May The Force Be With You...Or Not

Every year, around May/June, Disney holds Star Wars Weekends, celebrating all that is included in the Star Wars Universe.   This event takes place at Disney's Hollywood Studios on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays during those consecutive weekends.

Now, I know that I'm odd.  I myself, am not a Star Wars fan.  Well, I guess I can't say that.  Really someone can only technically say that if they've seen Star Wars...and seeing as how I have NOT...saying I'm not a fan isn't really accurate.  Basically, I'm pretty much indifferent to the whole Star Wars saga.  I could care less about the whole thing.

Yet, for some strange reason, I would  like to experience Star Wars Weekends at some point in my life.  From everything I've heard about this weekend, it seems like it would be something to behold.  Kind of like how a person should experience Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party and Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party at least once.

So what is it that would draw in someone like me?  Someone who is not a big Star Wars fan.  (Or, in my particular case...someone who's never seen the movies at all?)

First of all, there's the characters.  Now, I'm not talking about those Star Wars particular characters.  I have no idea who Queen Ama-what's her name is.  I don't know what the purpose of Boba Fett is.  And I could care less about Chewbacca.  (Aren't you impressed?!  I actually know SOME Star Wars stuff!)

The characters I'm talking about are the Disney characters dressed in their Star Wars finest!  I want to meet Jedi Mickey, Leia Minnie, Stormtrooper Donald, and Darth Goofy!  These are the characters that draw me.  They aren't too Star Wars-y that I don't know who they are, but they are Star Wars-y enough to help enhance my experience those particular weekends.  It's the perfect mixture!

Another thing that really draws me in and makes me want to go to Star Wars Weekends is the Hyperspace Hoopla!  Maybe it's just because I miss saying Hoopla (Hoopla!  Adventurer's Club, may you rest in peace!)  I really think this show appeal to me because it's quite entertaining.  Make sure to check out this video from last year's changes every year. 

Now, even though I don't like to get to the parks early (I mean, are the parks really open before noon?!) on Star Wars Weekends, you really should.  Not so you can get in line to meet the Star Wars Celebrities who are featured each weekend.  No, I think you should get there early so you can see the Storm Trooper Show before park open.  I won't post a video that gives it away, but trust me...from what I've seen, it's a hoot!  (I'm thinking it's probably funnier if you've actually SEEN Star Wars, but not all is lost on me.)

The last thing that I think I would enjoy, as a non-Star Wars fan, during Star Wars Weekends, is the ability to people watch.  Seriously, some people get INTO this!  They get all decked out in their Star Wars finest.  (The closest I can compare this to is when I go see Harry Potter on opening night at Midnight and see all the people dressed as characters.)  So watch as all the Star Wars geeks (and I use that term lovingly) come parading past.  It's totally worth it!

I guess I should also throw in experiencing Star Tours.  I mean, it is Star Wars Weekends after all.  How can you have fun at this event without riding this attraction?  Especially now, since it's been completely redone.  

So, those are my tips for how to enjoy Star Wars Weekends without being a Star Wars fan!  To me, I think you still get a lot out of just being surrounded by the ambiance.  It's what makes the whole thing fun.

Of course, if you are absolutely 100% positive that Star Wars Weekends just isn't something you care to experience while down in Florida this time of year, I really suggest avoiding Disney's Hollywood Studios on the weekends.  Sure, you don't have to partake in the Star Wars excitement, but the rest of the park will be...which means the park will be a little busier.  So, if you don't want to see any of the event, avoid the park on those days.  

What is it that you enjoy about Star Wars Weekends?  Have you been before?  What was your favorite?  Are you like me and could care less?  What would draw you to the parks for this event?  Make sure to let me know in the comments section.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

News and Rumors 5/9/11 - 5/15/11

News and Rumors are gathered from various different sources. All rumors are rumors and are to be taken as such.


Magic Kingdom

  •  Demolition walls has shown up around the Fantasyland Skyway building.
  • It has been confirmed!  With the refurbishment of The Enchanted Tiki Room underway, it's been announced officially that a show similar to the original will be returning in August.

Disney's Hollywood Studios

  • Star Tours II is now in soft openings.  
  • On the official opening day of Star Tours II, the attraction will have a delayed opening.  Instead of opening at park open, it will open to guests midday. 

Disney's Animal Kingdom

  • The Wild Africa Trek has proven to be quite popular.  Disney has increased the number or tours again.  Tours will start at 8 am and will run every 45 minutes until the park closes.  No word if this is a permanent change or just for the busy month of July. 

General WDW News

  • Wolfgang Puck Express in the Downtown Disney Marketplace will be closed for refurb this week.  It will reopen May 21st.


  • The Backlot Tour could go down for a refurb in August.  
  • Tinkerbell and Friends may be staying at Epcot even though the Flower and Garden Festival has ended, at least for the time being.  

Friday, May 13, 2011

Let The Memories Begin: My Memories Part 2

A little while back, I started this series here on the blog to share with you all some of my memories of trips that have been quite influential in my life.  The ones that have really stuck with me and have become super special.  (For those who would like to read my first memory, please read Part 1.)

It was around this time that my love for Disney was starting to grow more rapidly.  I had been trying to find a way to get all my best girl friends together for a trip down to WDW, since we'd all gone away to different colleges.  It would be the perfect way to celebrate that first year back together.  Unfortunately, that trip never did pan out (I'm still waiting to go with my best friend...who has promised me as soon as she gets back from Kuwait next year, that going to WDW and trying to find the Seven Dwarves will be of top priority!  I so hope she's right!) The trip I had taken the previous year had shown me how much fun the theme parks were and I wanted so badly to share that with my best friends.

So, it was then that I started the research.    I joined a not so little forum in WDWMagic and read as much as I possibly could about the wonder that is Walt Disney World.  I couldn't get enough.  I absorbed it like a sponge.  Everything I read made me just a little more excited and anxious to finally get there, actually having an appreciation of what the parks were made of. 

Another big thing happened around this same time.  I stopped being afraid.  Before when I would go to theme parks, you could hardly get me on anything.  I was terrified of roller coasters, but I was getting my courage and was anxious to experience the attractions at WDW that made it famous that I'd been so scared to experience before! 

With all that being said, the second trip I would like to share with you all is one that shouldn't have ever happened.  You see, in 2003, my dad and I were photographing a wedding at Clearwater Beach and we had a job to do.  This was a purely working trip.  (In the fun and sun...I mean, who can argue with that?!)  We didn't realize it until we got down there, but my dad had somehow made a mistake.  He had gotten the dates of our flight back home wrong...we would be staying in Florida an extra day! 

Now my dad knew how much I was obsessing over Disney in recent months...and with an extra day that we didn't intend on having, he decided he was going to take me to Walt Disney World.

Now, for those of you who don't dad isn't a very theme park type person.  He would go when we were kids because he felt it was the thing to do, to take your kids to Disney World...but I don't know if he ever really enjoyed it.  It was also one of the few times in my life when I can remember just doing something with my dad...there was no one but him and I.

I was over the moon excited!  The details of this trip are foggy at best again...and I do have some pictures, but most I lost due to a computer that I didn't save the files from.  (NOTE!!!  ALWAYS save your files somewhere else!!!!  If your computer crashes and you don't have a sucks....your memories are gone!)

I remember we drove up from Tampa and we managed to get a hotel room at the Holiday Inn Maingate.  We used to stay there when we were kids.  No longer did they have Holiday Hound and the kids club that I remembered so fondly, but the feel of the resort was the same.  It felt like an old friend. 

The next day, we went to the Magic Kingdom that day and I remember waiting in line for Big Thunder Mountain Railroad and being so mad at the Cast Member who was working the line at the merge point for the Fastpass and Standby lines.  At the time, I thought she was doing a terrible job, even waiting as some Fastpassers came up the path...they weren't even at her yet!  (I still to this day don't remember why we didn't grab Fastpasses.  I knew what Fastpass was.  I can only assume we already had Fastpasses for another attraction in our hands.)  It's because of this encounter that I will never ride Big Thunder without a Fastpass. 

I also remember taking my first official ride on Space Mountain!  Yes, I'd been on it before, but it had scared the beejesus out of me!  This time, I faced my fear and rode.  I was brave!  And I was so excited that my dad was there with me, getting to experience that...seeing as how he was there the last time I chickened out.

But the thing that I will always carry with me was that I got to have a special day with my dad at a place that I love more than most.  That to me, is one of the best things that could have ever happened.  So I'm thankful that my dad messed up the flights.  Because this trip was meant to be. 

As I mentioned, I do have a few photos that I scrapbooked.  These, are the memories that stick with me about this trip. 

My favorite photo is the one of my dad.  We were standing in line for the monorail and I said pretend like you're having a good time.  :)

You see, it was this trip that really got the ball rolling for me in a swift manner, because after this trip, my life was about to change...I just didn't know it yet.

Monday, May 9, 2011

News and Rumors 5/2/11 - 5/8/11

Hi guys!  I'm so sorry I've been a little lacking in the posts lately.  I've been EXTREMELY busy!!!  I don't know where on earth the time has been going lately.  So, don't worry, if you see less posts over the next few weeks, you'll know why!  :)

Anyway, here's the news and rumors for the week! 

News and Rumors are gathered from various different sources. All rumors are rumors and are to be taken as such.


Magic Kingdom

  • Captain Blackbeard will be joining the crew of Pirates of the Caribbean.  He will be appearing in the water mist in place of Davy Jones starting May 20th.


  • The new group that took over for The British Invasion is called The English Channel.  This new band plays British Rock and Roll.  Showtimes are typically 3pm, 4:30pm, 6pm, 7pm and 8pm.  
  • The China Marketplace is closed for refurb in the China Pavilion.  It is set to reopened June 2nd.
  • The 2011 Wine and Dine Half Marathon Tickets are now on sale.

Disney's Hollywood Studios

  • Voyage of the Little Mermaid will be closed for refurb from Aug. 15th - Sept. 4th.

General WDW News

  • The Sand Trap Bar and Grill will be closed until May 19th while Ospry Ridge Golf Course is being refurbished. 
  • Car Masters Weekend will take place this weekend, May 13th - 15th at Downtown Disney Westside.  It's a weekend filled with all things cars (including Cars 2 characters) and will last from 10:30 am - 6 pm.
  • The AMC Pleasure Island 24 Movie Theater will reopen as the Downtown Disney 24 Movie Theater featuring a Dine-In option on May 16th. 
  • Blizzard Beach will be down for refurb from Oct. 30th to Dec. 4th.  
  • Typhoon Lagoon will be down for refurb from Dec. 4th - March 18th.
  • The Military 4 Day Ticket Promotion will continue until Sept. 2012.  The deal gives the following pricing for themselves and up to five (5) family members and/or friends

    · Disney 4-Day Military Promotional Tickets with Park Hopper Option for $138 each, plus tax
    · Disney 4-Day Military Promotional Tickets with Water Parks Fun and More Option for $138 each, plus tax AND
    · Disney 4-Day Military Promotional Tickets with Park Hopper and Water Parks Fun and More Options for $165 each, plus tax


  • Rumors are indicating that the Phineas and Ferb meet and greet may not open until May 20th.  It was previously scheduled to open May 16th. 

Sunday, May 1, 2011

News and Rumors 4/25/2011 - 5/1/11

News and Rumors are gathered from various different sources. All rumors are rumors and are to be taken as such.


Magic Kingdom

  • The official dates for Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party have been announced.  They are:  September 13, 16, 20, 23, 27, 30
    October 2, 6, 7, 10, 11, 13, 16, 18, 20, 21, 23, 25, 27, 28, 30, 31
    November 1 
  • The official dates have also been announced for Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party.  They are:  November 8, 9, 11, 13, 15, 18, 27, 29, and 30
    December 2, 4, 5, 7, 9, 11, 13, 14, 16, and 18


  • The British Invasion is going to be replaced by a new group starting May 3rd.  This new group is said to play all flavors of British music, not just Beatles-centric tunes.

Disney's Hollywood Studios

  • The official line up for Star Wars Weekends has been announced.  Here is who you can look forward to seeing if you'll be traveling down for this event. 
MAY 20-22
• Anthony Daniels (C-3PO)
• The Clone Wars Special Guest: Dave Filoni (Supervising Director)

MAY 27-29
• Anthony Daniels (C-3PO)
• Bruce Spence (Tion Medon)
• The Clone Wars Voice Talent Guest: Dee Bradley Baker (Captain Rex)

JUNE 3-5
• Ray Park (Darth Maul)
• Jeremy Bulloch (Boba Fett)
• The Clone Wars Voice Talent Guest: Matt Lanter (Anakin)

JUNE 10-12
• Ray Park (Darth Maul)
• Peter Mayhew (Chewbacca)
• The Clone Wars Voice Talent Guest: Tom Kane (Yoda)

General WDW News

  •  Cirque du Soleil will be dark from May 15th - May 30th.
  • 512 Rooms at Port Orleans Riverside are going to be rethemed to become Royal Rooms.  Themed after the Disney Princesses, these rooms will include references to movies like Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin, and The Princess and the Frog.  These rooms are expected to open in the Spring of 2012. 

  •  Also, Disney announced this week that over at the Contemporary, this Fall they will be introducing Health and Wellness Suites.  These suites will include bamboo flooring, 100% cotton linens, non-allergenic wrapped mattresses, rainwater showers, and tea tree oils.  In addition, these rooms will be outfitted with cardio equipment and guests will have access to seasonal and organic fresh foods at the concierge lounge, can partake in yoga sessions and spa treatments in the wellness studio.This area will be located on the 14th floor and there will be 23 rooms in all.


  • Rumors I've head this week about Pleasure Island indicate that the remaining clubs may not be torn down.  These clubs may get the chance to reopen, leased under the specification that the club cannot reopen as what it originally was, but could reopen as something similar.