Changes, they are a comin’ to Walt Disney World!

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There is construction taking place at the Downtown Disney (DTD), to begin the transformation to the new Disney Springs Complex.  Parking lot “H” has been closed off, and will be followed by lots “I, J & K” to prepare for the building of a parking garage to allow more space for more guests to visit without, we hope, the congestion that has become a rite of passage to those who drive to DTD.  And even with occasional use of the Cast Member lot, there will be considerably fewer spaces, so happy hunting.  Also, the old Pleasure Island complex is being demolished to prepare for the transition.  I don’t know about others, but I can’t wait to see how this area changes and becomes an attraction worthy of the Disney name.

My Magic+ is continuing to be tested throughout the Resort.  And, it looks like the rollout could begin as early as this fall.  Now, what does this mean for you, the vacationer?  It means that the way things have been done, will no longer be the way they get done.  The elements that can be included in My Magic+ are: Resort Room key, Theme Park admission, Photopass, and Photopass+ , FASTPASS+, Disney Dining Plan, and on the spot purchases.  And, this will all be accomplished through the Magic Band!

If you like to keep track of things while you are in the park, make sure to download the My Disney Experience app to your smartphone.  This can help you keep tabs on your dining reservations, FASTPASS+ times, and a whole lot more.  It all links together with your reservations on your computer.  Just link everything together and it will show up in your app.  And, remember that park wide Wi-Fi is now free on all parks and resorts!

Let me explain a few of these terms that may be new to you…

Photopass+ is a service that makes use of in-park photographers to capture some magic that allows all of the guests to be in the picture.  It also includes many of the ride pictures and dining experience photos.

FASTPASS+ replaces the old FastPass system and will allow guests to plan ahead for some of the more popular rides and attractions.  This may include parades and fireworks.  You will be able to choose one or two attractions from different categories and the time you desire to be at the attraction.  For the Uberplanner, this is right in the wheelhouse!  For the spontaneous guest, you aren’t counted out.  Just go to the kiosks that will be located throughout each park and you can choose attractions and times when you arrive.

I’ll post more about the use of the Magic Band as we get closer to the rollout to give you the most accurate information available.  For now, testing is still being conducted, but the reviews are coming back with some positive feedback.  So, we shall see what comes next!

In our next post, we will look into the Magic Band and the accessories that are already available to make YOUR Magic Band yours.  Until next time,  may your Wishes and Dreams come true!

Author’s Note: My Magic+, FASTPASS+, FastPass, Photopass, Photopass+, Disney Dining Plan, Disney Springs and Magic Band are all trademarks of the Walt Disney Company.

How do you plan your vacation?

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I have been working to build an at-home travel business recently, and I am curious to see how you plan your vacations? I have included this poll to help with my research and decide if this is a course I wish to continue. Please feel free to share this with anyone you wish, and leave comments or questions on my blog post. Thank you for your time and God Bless You!

What is so Magical about the Most Magical Place On Earth?

What does this bring to your mind?

When you see the picture on the left, what do you think about?  For me, I remember all of the best vacations I have ever had!  My first visit was October 2, 1982 and my first park was The Magic Kingdom.  The first time I rode the Monorail, I thought I was going to the moon.  Walking toward the entrance off of the Monorail platform brought on emotions I didn’t know I was capable of experiencing.  And, to this day, all the cares of the world melt into oblivion, if just for a few days.

Visiting EPCOT Center, as it was called in 1982, was completely overwhelming.  It had the new feeling to the place, and some creative new ideas on display.  I really enjoyed the old Communicore East and West.  I especially enjoyed the little robot, I believe he went by Smart 1.  Somewhat interactive, and he had a bit of a sense of humor. The World Showcase was also a highlight of that visit.  But, the most used phrase on that trip was, “due to technical difficulties.”  Nothing could spoil my vacation, not even the broken down new things to see.

The first time taking my kids to Walt Disney World, the feeling was the same, but different.  To see the looks on their faces was indeed priceless.  And, of the three kids, two have fallen prey to my Disney addiction.  Now, we are preparing for our next journey and looking forward to what is ahead of us.  I will be taking one of the many tours offered in The Magic Kingdom, and I can honestly say that this will be a birthday I will truly enjoy!  Add to that the Candlelight Processional, a dinner at ‘Ohana, a lunch at Be Our Guest, and Osbourne Lights; this will be a week to remember.

So, what is the Magical attraction for you?  I would love to hear your stories about first trips, first experiences, best memories.  And, let’s all share our stories.  Please, leave your comments on this blog page.

Have a magical and blessed day, my friends!

Is Walt Disney World getting too expensive?

I am really beginning to become concerned with the cost of going to Walt Disney World for vacation.  For most people, it almost takes about ten percent of our income just to get there!  By the time to cost of food, souvenirs, and other assorted extras is added the dollars really begin to add up!  This has caused me to consider what next.

While we DO have a trip planned for later this year, I am strongly considering making this the last trip for me and my family. Please understand, I love Walt Disney World!  I don’t want to stop going, but as a single income earner for a family of five, I have few options in the future.  So with that said, here’s my question…

With the cost of admission to Walt Disney World Parks approaching the $100 mark, what does the future of your WDW vacation look like?

Thank you for your honesty and input!

A Monstrous Movie Review

Regular Guy Popcorn Movie Review…Monster’s University!

-no spoilers-

I took my youngest daughter with me to see Monster’s University, and we had a very nice date!  I thought the movie was well done and pleasing to the eye.  The story line is something I would imagine would be very similar to life in college.  The story was engaging enough for the kids around me, and sufficient for the adults in attendance, also.

I am glad to see that Disney/Pixar can still put out good, quality motion pictures that receive the G rating from the MPAA.  This is a very family friendly movie and one that all true Disney fans (writer included) can lift their heads about!

My daughter gives it a big thumbs up, and she’s hard to please with movies!  We laughed, routed for the underdog, and cheered wildly in the end!  If you have kids of any age, specifically under 12, I believe you will find Monster’s University to be the movie to see.

I give Monster’s University a 4 popcorn bag rating!

A Visit Home!

My kids and I took an overnight together and went to my hometown of Wooster, Ohio. The mission, to get some awesome pizza! Mission accomplished! We visited my favorite childhood memory, Coccia House located at 764 Pittsburgh Ave., Wooster, OH. We all started off with a house salad as an appetizer and them moved right into a Large Pep/Sausage and Small Cheese! Can I just tell you that it is still as good, and tastes the same, as it was those many years ago!

After our meal, we took a tour of my memories. We drove through the downtown area, past the house I grew up in, the elementary school I began my education in, and got to visit with some old neighbors. It was a fabulous time of remembering and catching up. It has been too long since seeing some old friends, and a man that I consider to be one of my original mentors.

I have to say that the motel we stayed at was not the best choice. I chose it because of cost and got what I expected. However, I was hoping to get a bit more than expected. So, if you are heading to Wooster, avoid the Super 8 on Madison Avenue south of town. There were me and my three kids in a single room. One bed! My daughters got the bed, I slept in the recliner, and my son was on the floor. You would think the lady at the desk would count and realize we needed something different. Oh well, learn from experience.

Saturday morning we got up early, and headed to Der Dutchman Restaurant in Walnut Creek, OH. Great buffet meal, service was awesome, and the food was delicious. I bought a few items from the bakery in honor of Mother’s Day for my wife and hope she is able to enjoy it with us on Sunday.

The trip home was a bit more challenging than I had hoped. I drove down US Route 62 and ran into a detour that was not well signed at all. As a result, we ended up driving way out of the way. It’s also an area of the state that has NO CELL COVERAGE. The company that gets that big hole plugged stands to make a lot of dinero.

I am glad the driving part is done, but it was a really nice time with my kids that I can never forget. I love building memories with the great people!

The Planning Begins…an adventure story to visit Walt Disney World

Greetings, friends!!

Well, the threetrandswdw family is beginning the planning of our adventure to Disney World in December!  My birthday is shared by to very special people in my life.  First, my father!  He was a man that I have learned was wiser than I realized.  Second, Walter Elias Disney!  And, this year I will celebrate my birthday at Walt’s Park!

We have selected, at this point, to stay at The Art of Animation Resort in a Lion King Suite.  For those who are aware of this property, it is just about a year old.  The Lion King suites were the second section to open up about 9 months ago.  And, we are now trying to figure out the sleeping arrangements.  We have three adults and three kids traveling with us, so there may need to be someone on the floor to accommodate everyone sufficiently.  I am really looking forward to seeing this resort and spending time looking around.

Our plan is to spend our first day just making use of the resort area and maybe a small trip to Downtown Disney to see how the construction of Disney Springs is progressing.  After that, it’s going to be quite the marathon.  While my family is going to enjoy whatever they choose to do on the second day, I am planning to spend my birthday doing the Keys to the Kingdom tour at Magic Kingdom Park.  It’s my gift to myself!  Once that is complete, I am hoping to hit one or two headliners and a good bit of time to stop and smell the park.  I truly love looking at all of the elements that ARE The Magic Kingdom atmosphere.  It will be decorated for the Christmas holiday, so I will most assuredly enjoy the decorations and ambience that will be in the park.  For dinner the family will all gather at ‘Ohana at the Polynesian Resort followed by the viewing of Holiday Wishes from the Poly beach.

So, where are we now?  We are inching toward Advanced Dining Reservations day and still hoping for some kind of deal that will include Disney Dining.  Failing that deal, we will still make the reservation for ‘Ohana.  We are looking at numbers between driving and flying.  I am hoping we fly, personally!  Making use of Disney Magical Express is as much a part of the move into vacation as the time at the resort.  And, it could mean an extra day in park!

I’ll try to post progress every week or two and hope you all enjoy the journey with us!

May God Bless You All!!!

Regular Guy Popcorn Review…Oz The Great and Powerful

I just returned from seeing Oz The Great and Powerful and wanted to give a regular guy’s viewpoint of this most recent movie from Disney. I offer no spoilers in this review.  I am strictly looking to offer my views on the overall story, plot, and suspense.  My goal is to help families decide if it is age appropriate for viewing.

The style of the film was very well constructed.  Filmmakers seemed to hold to the familiar pattern of cinematography while relating an adventurous and fun-filled story to the audience.  While I viewed Oz in 2-D, I could see the appeal of a 3-D option.  The colors were striking and the scenery popped off the screen without the glasses.  I can only imagine how 3-D looked. Personally, I can’t afford to pay the up charge for a pair of glasses.

As for the family, if your children can handle the original Wizard of Oz, they should be good with Oz. While there are a few areas of the movie that have pop-up scares, there is nothing that is long-lasting.  The comedic areas of the film will make you laugh and forget most of the scary stuff quickly.  There are many tender moments that may require the use of tissues.

Overall, I would give Oz the Great and Powerful a four out of five popcorn kernels!  This is due to a little overindulgent smooching and romantic innuendo. Kids 10 and over are most likely good for this PG movie.  For kids younger, I suggest letting them see the original first.  If they fair well through the original in good shape, they should be able to handle Oz just fine.

Project: Office

Well this weekend has been busy gathering pieces for the transformation of a room in the basement into a workspace to set up my travel business. This will be the operations center of ThreeStrands Family Travel. I will not be hosting customers in this space, so it will work just fine for a place to keep my materials and make contacts to build my business. Today, I began putting the sealer coat on and will continue to apply this through the upcoming week.  I am hoping to apply the real paint beginning next weekend.

I have decided to use Disney Colors by Behr to give me a little encouragement. The walls will be Whole New World on three sides and Cinema Star on the other wall with some glitter and highlights to make fireworks, and Galaxy Black for the floor finish.

This is the before look:

 

A Teenager’s Point of View, by Benjamin, 13 part one

 

The Crystal Palace is a buffet, but it still has nice service. The characters are extremely friendly. Most of the food was everyday, there was barely anything fancy or unusual. and they had soft serve Ice Cream.

Ohana: If you leave here hungry there’s something wrong with you!  your “cousins” will bring you endless platters of food. I especially liked the honey coriander chicken and the pork fried dumpling.

Yak and Yeti: I didn’t really like this restaurant and it’s not because of the name. Though it may have been our waiter, we waited to be seated even though we were on time.

Rose and Crown Pub:  I give this restaurant 5 million stars!  It gets my vote for best restaurant in EPCOT.  We got fabulous service, and the food was great! I personally ordered the Fish and Chips (french fries) and loved them!  And when it was time for Illuminations! they took us to their personal viewing area.

And, speaking of Illuminations! the fireworks are great!  There are flamethrowers so intense you could roast marshmallows, and there are fireworks launchers right in front of you that so loud that my ears are still ringing.

More to come…