Sunday, October 27, 2013
This was my parent's fourth trip to WDW with us, and for her previous three trips, she had a GAC (Guest Access Card) that allowed her to enter an attraction through an alternate entrance- usually the fastpass line. My mom has arthritis in her back, hips, left knee, and feet. She had a total right knee replacement in February of 2012. Thanks to her knee replacement, she is now able to walk without pain- although she is quite slow. However, she can't do stairs (she doesn't trust the strength of her knee on stairs), and she is unable to stand in lines well.
On our first day at WDW, we went to Hollywood Studios. We stopped at Guest Relations with her GAC from a previous trip, and explained her limitations to them. They told her she didn't qualify for a DAS (Disability Access Service) card because she could use a courtesy wheelchair (that is supposed to available at every attraction) in the queues. I explained again that she was unable to do stairs, and how would a wheelchair help her in queues with stairs? I was told again that she could use a wheelchair that was available at the attraction. I felt that the Cast Member at Guest Relations wasn't truly listening to what I was saying, but simply repeating the stock line of "use the courtesy wheelchair." Maybe it's because I'm a blonde, but I don't understand how I am suppose to push my mom up and down stairs in a wheelchair. So, we left Guest Relations and just went into the park.
We had FastPasses for Toy Story Mania, so we decided to just talk to the Cast Members at the attraction and tell them her limitation. We explained to the first Cast Member who looked at our FastPasses, and they said to simply tell the next Cast Member. We then told the Cast Member who took our FastPasses, and without delay, they sent us up the ramp to the handicap loading area. They were all very nice and polite about the situation.
The next day, we went to the Magic Kingdom, and knowing that two of my mom's favorite rides have stairs (Tomorrowland Speedway and Splash Mountain), we asked again at Guest Relations about a DAS card. For the second day in a row, I was told to put her in a wheelchair for stairs. Again, I tried to explain that I didn't see how that would work, and was told to use a wheelchair. By this point, I was getting rather frustrated that Guest Relations wasn't listening and was simply saying the same thing over and over. So once again, we figured we would just see how it went at the rides.
The first ride she did was Splash Mountain. The Cast Member at the entrance was great. He escorted her and Matthew (the only ones riding) to a second Cast Member, who took them through the exit and onto the ride. They both said the experience was a very good one. Later in the ay, we went to Tomorrowland Speedway. Now, she not only can't do stairs, but she also needs extra time getting in and out of the car. We explained this to the Cast Member at the entrance to the attraction, and the first thing he asked us was "Does she have a DAS pass for that? She should have one." I explained to him that she had been denied one, and he looked at me like I had three heads. But, he immediately took her in through the alternate entrance and was extremely polite and nice. He explained that she would enter and exit this way, and that she could have as much time as she needed getting in and out of the car. I thought it was very interesting that the Cast Members at the rides were expecting at DAS card while we had been told repeatedly that she didn't need one.
Our fourth day we went to Animal Kingdom, and mom was still proud of the fact that she was walking around, but she was definitely getting slower and the crazy hot and humid days were starting to take their toll on her. We obtained FastPasses for the Safari (again, doing what Disney suggested to minimize her time in lines) and went to the line at our return time. For whatever reason, the FastPass return line was over 30 minutes and not moving. Mom knew at this point that standing in one place wasn't going to happen at this point and had finally ok'd sitting in a wheelchair. There was a Cast Member walking through the line telling us it would be a few minutes before the line started moving. We told her that my mom couldn't stand in one place for long and the Cast Member told us "The line will start moving again before too much longer." Well, that's great, but for the time being, my mom was still standing and definitely wilting. Again, we told the Cast Member "She can't stand for long- is there anything that can be done for her?" The Cast Member repeated her statement that "The line will move soon." It's my understanding- based on what I had been told repeatedly at Guest Relations- that she should have been offered a courtesy wheelchair. This didn't happen.
All in all, I ended up going to Guest Relations five times over seven days in the parks. Every time, I walked out more and more frustrated. I felt that I was NOT being listened to. In fact, two of the times I went with complaints about how we were treated by Cast Members, nothing was written down. Guest Relations simply said "Sorry, that shouldn't have happened" and sent us on our way. There seems to be a huge disconnect with what guests are being told at Guest Relations and what is actually happening at the rides. The new DAS system is NOT helping those who need help. Yes, I agree that Disney needed to do something about the abuse that was happening with the GAC, but this new system is not the answer. It is penalizing people who actually need help, and guests are not being listened to. I came away completely frustrated and upset over this- not the way you want to feel after a Disney vacation.
Thursday, August 15, 2013
There- I said it. I mean, we all know it's true, but now I've admitted it out loud.
So what exactly does being addicted to Disney mean? It's simple, Disney is my drug. I have to have it. Seeing the Castle as you walk down Main Street. Walking in and seeing SpaceShip Earth.
Driving under the arch. These are all like hits of a drug to me. They make me smile. They make me happy.
Now my Disney addiction isn't just because I like to see the various sites at Disney. There are so many strong memories tied to everything at Disney. Hours spent at La Cava del Tequila... Rock 'N Roller Coaster... Soarin'... Flying Fish... Each one of these is an awesome experience by itself, but add in cherished memories with friends and family, and they become even more special.
(and no... I don't want help quitting my addiction!)
Monday, June 3, 2013
I am amazed at people who appear to be shocked by the fact that Disney increased ticket prices. I don't understand this. Every year, if not twice a year, Disney raises their ticket prices. Yes, the increases are more than the cost of inflation increases, but come on- this doesn't shock you does it? If you really expect Disney to keep the cost of tickets the same every year, then I want to live in whatever Fantasyland you live in.
Disney is a business. The purpose of a business is to make money. Yes Disney also talks about dreams and memories and magic, but they do this to encourage you to visit and spend your money. The marketing team at Disney is one of the best in the world. They come up with taglines and jingles and promotions that make you want to visit The Happiest Place on Earth over and over and over. And let's be honest, people are going to keep doing that no matter how much Disney charges for a ticket.
Disney is also trying to keep up with places like Universal, and also their own overseas parks. This requires money. And I know, Disney probably has plenty of money to accomplish all of this without raising ticket prices, but they have to answer to stock holders who want to see a profit being turned and increased year after year.
Does this mean I like that Disney raises ticket prices? Not at all... But it isn't going to change the fact that I have an Annual Pass, and will be renewing my AP in August when it expires. I won't be renewing as a Premium Annual Pass, but that's due more to the fact that they have cut back the benefits with that pass. I also hate the fact that they charge as much for a child AP as they do an adult AP, but again, it's not going to stop me from going.
For the first time, Disney separated out the cost of a ticket to Magic Kingdom, making it more expensive than a day at the other three parks. I think this stinks, but it makes sense. They have been pushing experiencing New Fantasyland and Storybook Circus- every ad or commercial makes sure to mention these new areas. But I think it's simpler than that- my thought is when most people go to WDW for a single day, they will head to the Magic Kingdom. It's what people think of when they think of Disney World- I mean, how many times have you heard someone refer to the Magic Kingdom as Disney World? It's like fingernails on a chalkboard for me, but that's a huge perception out there.
|My Precious (aka my Annual Pass)|
Wednesday, September 7, 2011
Saturday, June 25, 2011
Wednesday, June 22, 2011
Tuesday, June 7, 2011
- Watching my son sleep
- Ice cream
- My friends
- My #peas
- The #beans- but don't tell the #beans though!
- Potato dumplings- not eating them, just the thought of them
- The first sip of a Starbucks coffee with foam
- Getting into bed with fresh crisp sheets
- The song "Wild at Heart" by Gloriana- Seriously, how can a song with the line "Put your hand into my back pocket, light me up like a bottle rocket" NOT make you happy???
- Any song by the Black Eyed Peas- because it always makes me think of my friend who HATES any song by them
- Those few seconds on Tower of Terror after your elevator is loaded into the tower, but before it begins going up and down
- Text messages from friends
- Riding the PeopleMover
- Snuggly kittens
- Snuggles with Matthew
- Nascar date nite
- New shoes
- My pair of jeans that fit just right
- Crossing the finish line of a race
- A good hair day
- Eating frosting right out of the container
- Movie theater popcorn with butter
- Girl's Night Out
- Being under a bunch of warm blankets when it's cold outside
- Taylor Lautner's abs
- Reading a really good book that you don't want to put down
- Laughing so hard I cry
Monday, June 6, 2011
- the ones that I ate at Biergarten with- the food was mediocre, but it was hands down the best meal of my life.
- the ones you see on Main St. and start yelling and going crazy with happiness.
- the one I think of every time I go over a particular bump on Space Mountain and remember him commenting when the lap bar met his groin in a rude way.
- my #peas- my two friends who are always there for me. And know when they need to give my space.
- the ones that I want to call first when something good happens.
- the ones that I tell first when something bad happens.
- the ones that tell you to stop being a drama queen and just get over yourself.
- the ones that are in all of your pictures with you.
Tuesday, May 24, 2011
Tuesday, November 9, 2010
I recently had one of the most amazing experiences I could have ever imagined- a Behind-the-Scenes look of the new Times Square Disney Store! I was able to have this wonderful experience courtesy of the Disney Store President (Jim Fielding) and a contest he had on Twitter. The event was a pre-opening behind-the-scenes look of the new store that included a continental breakfast, remarks by Jim Fielding, and the chance to meet Jodi Benson, the voice of Ariel in The Little Mermaid. It was everything, and more, that you would expect.
I had entered the contest on Twitter, never expecting to win. When I got the Direct Message from Jim Fielding, I literally squealed with delight. I was on the phone with my mom, who doesn’t completely understand my Disney obsession. I replied to the DM with my email address, as requested, so his team could be in contact with me.
Very soon after that, I got the first of several emails. I was surprised, although I shouldn’t have been, at the efficiency of the team. The emails contained information about the event, making me even MORE excited. Then, a little bit later that evening, I got a phone call from Mark congratulating me again and discussing a little bit more about the event. I didn’t know who Mark was, but I assumed he was an administrative assistant or someone along those lines. When I got home, I Googled Mark (oh come on- you would do it too….) and my jaw dropped when I realized he is in charge of Experiential Marketing and Guest Experience at The Disney Store. Wow- Disney does this right!
I couldn’t keep the grin off my face that whole evening. I was so excited I was ready to burst- I finally called up my friend Lea, who I knew would understand and share my level of giddiness.
When it dawned on Mike and I that the NYC Marathon would be going on that Sunday morning, we decided not to hassle with trying to get into the city on Sunday, so we booked a hotel room and went into the city on Saturday (that experience will be a whole other blog post!).
We arrived at The Disney Store about 7:20 in the morning. Check-in started at 7:30- luckily we were able to wait in the small lobby of the store, and not outside. It wasn’t the warmest day in NYC. Promptly at 7:30, they opened the doors and let us in. When I told them my name, the person checking me in exclaimed “Hey- you’re the Twitter winner. Congratulations!” I have to admit- that was pretty cool. We got our wristbands and entered in.
We had about a half hour to explore the lower level of the store. We made a bee-line for the special vinyls- we got the Statue of Liberty 3” vinyl, one 9” Taxi vinyl, and one 9”graffiti vinyl.
What stands out the most about the shopping experience was how helpful the Cast Members were- it was like having a personal shopper in the Disney Store. They were getting merchandise for you, escorting you places, carrying bags… Really- could it get any better than that??? We also picked up one of the limited edition prints of Ariel that were created just for this event.
The Limited Edition Ariel print
Somehow, with all the time and looking around we did on the first floor, we totally missed that they had pins. Mike was bummed when he found out, because they have some really cool NYC pins. They had some new t-shirts and such that were really cool! People who know me, know that I don’t wear much Disney apparel, but even I couldn’t pass up this cool Cinderella shirt!
I believe they let in about 150 people for the event, and seems that they had about 75 Cast Members on hand to help. We felt totally pampered and special!
At 8:00 we were allowed to go upstairs into the “Imagination Park” section of the store. My first thought upon going upstairs was simply “Wow”. There was a ton of merchandise, but the store had a nice wide-open feel. All above were cute murals of various Disney scenes and characters- there was one scene with Peter Pan, Tinkerbell, and the Darling children flying above a London skyline that featured Mary Poppins. There was another section of wall that featured Winnie the Pooh floating above a scene from Alice in Wonderland.
They also have three trees located throughout the second floor- each tree has a Hidden Mickey on it somewhere.
Can you find the Hidden Mickeys?
And no, I never did find any of them. Of course, I didn’t really spend the time to look either- there was just so much going on! I was amazed at all the different merchandise in the store - a whole wall for Tangled, an entire alcove devoted to Marvel Superheroes, and sections for Toy Story, Cars (complete with RideMakerz experience), and even Phineas and Ferb.
As we walked around the upstairs, I just went around with my mouth open. We grabbed a little bit of breakfast, and grabbed a spot to listen to Jim Fielding say a few words.
I have followed Jim on Twitter for a while (and if you are a Disney fan and not following him at @disneystoreprez- shame on you!!!) and he is an absolute genuine, down-to-earth person. He spoke about the history of the store and what the expectations of the store are. It was really interesting hearing about the back story of the store, why they wanted that particular Times Square space, and what it takes to keep that store going- there are Cast Members working 24 hours a day! He also surprised me when he noticed me standing there and called me out as the winner of his Twitter contest. And even more surprising, he did this unprompted and without having met me in person yet- he really does value his Twitter experience.
After Jim spoke, we were introduced to Jodi Benson- the voice of Ariel. At this point, Mike just glazed over and became focused on meeting her. His favorite princess has always been Ariel (I think it’s because of the sea-shells), and he was so excited to get a chance to meet her and have his picture taken with her.
Meeting Jodi Benson. Notice where Mike is...
She also signed our print that we bought.
What makes this different than other Disney stores is that it’s interactive- using a touch screen, you can select what you want to see. Well, every day, they pick a child to “Unlock Imagination” in the morning. One of the Cast Members that we met was Suzanne, the general manager. She asked Matthew if he wanted to be the child who “Unlocked Imagination”. Matthew jumped on this chance and was beyond excited to be able to do this. The employees made a big deal of walking the huge key out to him and then making an announcement for everyone to come and watch.
After Matthew unlocked Imagination, he was able to go in and pick what he wanted to see on the screen (the “Squirrel in my Pants” music video).
The Cast Members then gave him his own, smaller, replica key.
My son also experienced the RideMakerz car-building experience. He picked out his own car parts and got to put them together.
He picked out the black Mater (because he looks like we went though a fire- the mind of a 6 year old) and found wheels with his favorite colors.
Putting Mater together
He then put various number decals on him. When he was done making his car, the Cast Member made a big deal about presenting him with the key to his very own car. I don’t think I have ever seen my son with a grin so big!
This was such an unbelievable experience for us all. We were in the store about 2 hours, and barely scratched the surface. The Cast Members are some of the best we have ever met and really represent some of Disney’s best. We came away remembering that Disney is more than just princesses and a castle- it’s something you hold deep inside of you. But I think the whole experience can best be summed up by Matthew’s words as we were leaving- “This was too amazing to be real.”
Sunday, October 17, 2010
Thursday, September 16, 2010
Wednesday, August 25, 2010
Tuesday, August 17, 2010
refreshing treasure unwrapped
chocolate lips licked
There are also poems that remind me of friends and times shared at Disney World
early a.m. sounds
over coffee and pastry
main street crescendo
Every person with a love of Disney, be it Disney World, Disneyland, or Walt Disney himself, will find something in this book that speaks to them. Also, even when the poem doesn't speak to you, because let's face it- they don't all hit home, it's still fun trying to figure out what part of Disney Brad was using as his muse. To sum it up, this book is a must-own for any true Disney fan.
Tuesday, May 25, 2010
Friday, May 14, 2010
Saturday, March 20, 2010
Saturday, March 13, 2010
1. Well, I did it. I signed up for a half-marathon. I have been debating whether or not I wanted to attempt this for a couple of months now. I am doing the Broad Street Run in May, and that's 10 miles- I figured, what's another 3 miles??? So, I am officially registered for the ING Rock-and-Roll Half Marathon in Philly in September. It seems like a good idea right now- we'll see if I'm singing the same tune in September!
2. This week, Disney announced that they have created a Premium Passport. This is an annual pass for both Disneyland and Disney World. (You can find details about what is included here.)
When I heard this, my first thought was WOO HOO!!! We currently have a 3 day trip scheduled to Disneyland this summer, and two separate 6 day trips to Disney World this year. So, I did a little looking into this passport. Disney- you screwed this one up! The cost for this Premium Passport is $700 per person. Adult AND child. There is NO discount for kids. I've priced this out and it is still cheaper to buy separate tickets for everything than to buy the Premium Passport. I'm curious to know how Disney can up with this pricing, because it seems to me that they really missed the mark on this one.
3. I look out my window and I don't see any snow piles. After more than a month of having piles of snow still over 3 ft high, this is a reason to celebrate! Although we may still have some cooler temperatures that come along, I think we have turned to corner into spring!
4. Thanks to everyone who told me about Site Meter for tracking visits to my blog! I was able to figure it out and install it!Ok- that's about all the unrelated thoughts I have for this morning. Off to make pancakes for breakfast!
Wednesday, March 10, 2010
Well, fast forward about 6 weeks later, and while I am by no means a social media queen, I have a much better understanding and respect for it. It has changed my life in ways that I would have never thought.
One of the first things is that I started, and have stuck with, this blog. It gives me a place to put my thoughts down in writing. And even more surprising- there are some people who read it! (And note to blogger- I would like it if I could track my page views...). It's really kinda fun- at least it is once I have decided on what my next post is going to be. I use social media to help me with my blog by following other blogs and absorbing the good from them.
I have met people who have amazing Disney websites that I love (like http://www.disneyeveryday.com/). I look at how they network and use social media and I learn from them. I also learn things about Disney from people who are in the know (such as #wdwmoms). Social media has also brought in contact with people in other countries who share some of my same passions. For example, I regularly correspond with a friend on Twitter who is an up-and-coming NASCAR reporter- in the Phillipines! One thing that both of these people do, that I am trying to watch and learn, is effectively network using Twitter and Facebook. They develop contacts and put their name out there using social media. It's all really very cool.
One thing about social media that surprises me is how it is really starting to invade our society. On Twitter, you have many big, popular NASCAR drivers (@kylebusch, @dennyhamlin, @mw55) who will hold Q&A sessions with their fans. This brings the fans closer to the sport, and increases exposure. There are many large companies- such as Harrah's, Kellogg, and HP- who are hiring corporate social media directors. They are learning that social media is here to stay and they want to know how to use it.
Before I went to the Disney Social Media Moms conference, I had a little (emphasis on little) idea of what social media was and how it worked. Now, I have more of an idea of how to effectively use social media- not that I have it all down yet, or that I am doing it... But, I think it's safe to say I have a little more of a clue than I did when I started this journey!
I hope this picture bring as many smiles and happy memories as it does me!