Disney Addicts Like Charity

Large LogoThis is an exclusive post to only a few of my groups.  Today, I want to specifically draw attention to one of the reasons I do what I do!  As many of you may, or may not know, I am a Disney Destinations Specialist.  That means that you can trust me to do the absolute best when it comes to helping you plan your vacations to ANY of the Disney Vacation experiences being offered.  But, what you may not know is that I am working to support a fabulous organization through the bookings I am honored to oversee.

2014-05-01 12.48.00The charity I have chosen to support is called The Shane Center for Therapeutic Horsemanship.  At The Shane Center, people with a wide variety of disabilities from the age of 4 years old into senior adulthood are served.  My family, especially my oldest Disney Daughter, have been involved with the center for the past year, and have found it to be a place of inspiration and delight.  To see a young person with the inability to walk enjoy a ride on a horse, that is pretty special.  To see an older person who has lost the ability to communicate well, have an interaction with the horse they are riding, WOW!  To see a veteran release tension through the relationship they have with that special horse is overwhelmingly amazing!

But, as a non-profit organization, fundraising continues to be a challenge.  That is where I want to help fill a little bit of the gap.  So, here is my plea to you, my readers!

I am committing to donating a portion of my commission from any Disney Destinations booking I receive throughout 2015.  This is for ALL bookings, not just people affiliated with the center in some way.  A minimum of $5.00 per booking will be donated in the traveler’s name by ME, Matthew Wallace aka threestrandswdw.com.  The amount donated will reflect the type and level of reservation made through Magical Starr – Threestands Family Travel.  I will NOT be making these donations under my name, as I don’t care about claiming the deduction.

So, whether you are a new traveler to a Disney Destination.  Or, you have a great deal of experience and prefer to plan it all yourself.  Would you consider allowing me the privilege of managing your reservation to help The Shane Center continue it’s mission to serve those in need of the specialized therapies offered?  Please contact me at matthew@magicalstartravel.com or visit http://www.magicalstartravel.com/free-quote.html to begin planning your trip?

I will be very grateful, and the clients we serve will have big smiles on their faces!  Thank you!

Visit http://www.shanecenter.org/ for more information about The Shane Center and how you can help.

If I Were a Disney Heir


Have you ever wondered what it would be like to be an heir to the Walt Disney legacy?  I sure have!  If I were an heir to Walt, I believe I’d have to have my hands into everything that is going on around the company.  Walt was known for animated movies using mostly innovations he designed. The creation of Mickey Mouse was his opening act into this genre that really gained traction when Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs premiered to thunderous applause and the accolades of industry critics when it took an Oscar.  He was also known for family friendly entertainment!  I think of movies like Old Yeller, Toby Tyler, and Pollyanna brought challenges of families of the early years to the big screen.  They showed us the importance of family and being together.  I love these Disney Classics.

When it comes to the theme parks, Walt Disney knew that there needed to be a place for the entire family to come together and spend some quality time connecting with each other.  Thus, Disneyland was born!  And, out of that we have seen the parks grow!  First, Walt Disney World with eventual growth to four different theme parks, resorts of all levels for guests to choose from, and many activities outside of the parks to keep you occupied for weeks and never have to leave the property.  And, let’s not forget, Tokyo Disneyland, Disneyland Paris, Hong Kong Disneyland, and soon Beijing!

If I were a part of the Disney family, I would truly want to have someone keeping and eye on how things are done.  Making sure that the movies are high quality to entertain families and give them a reason to spend some time together.  Checking up on the theme parks to be sure that the Guest Experience measures up to the level that Walt expected every time he walked into Disneyland.  And, even applying the values of the Disney name to any other venture that falls under the family umbrella.

Sure, Walt Disney had tough times and made some rough decisions as he grew his company.  And, it should be expected, that as the company continues to grow, there may be some small setbacks along the way.  But, if I were an heir, I’d have a sense of pride and commitment to secure a future NOT just for the stockholders and employees of the company, but also for the guests of our films and theme parks.

But, alas, I will just have to accept that I am not an heir.  Not a family member.  The only things that connect me to Walt Disney is my love for the Disney product, and my birthday, which is December 5.

Thank you Walt for leaving your legacy for all of those who have inherited your dreams!

First Impressions: Disney’s Hollywood Studios


Disney’s Hollywood Studios found me with a big smile on my face! This was my first visit to this park, because it simply didn’t exist the last time I visited WDW. As I made the walk down Hollywood Blvd toward Mickey’s Sorcerer Hat, I was looking around at all of the facades and found myself in a sense of wonder! I believe that Walt would be very proud of how this park turned out.

There is something here for everyone to enjoy! Thrill rides are covered with Tower of Terror, Rockin’ Rollercoaster, and Star Tours: The Adventure Continues. If you like classic Disney style rides you will find Toy Story Midway Mania fits that bill quite well. Live shows will round out your day with Beauty and The Beast, The Little Mermaid, and the nighttime spectacular Fantasmic! If you’d like to learn more about how stunts are put together for movies, drop by Indiana Jones or Lights! Motor! Action!

Whatever your likes, Disney’s Hollywood Studios has it!

I really enjoyed my first visit to DHS, and am looking forward to my next visit coming up in just a few months. Look for a trip report when I get back with my thoughts on a few of the food venues.

Thanks for reading, and have a magical week!

First Impressions: Part Two

First View

When I first visited Walt Disney World some 31 years ago, I didn’t know what to expect. I was with my cousin, who had been with his family once or twice, but I had never seen The Magic Kingdom up to this point. We flew into Orlando, got a car service to our hotel, checked in, and jumped on a bus to the Transportation and Ticket Center (TTC). The TTC was the only way to get to The Magic Kingdom. You could choose The Monorail or a Ferryboat. Of course, being my first visit, it had to be the Monorail for me!

As we walked down the ramp at the MK Monorail Station, my excitement grew! I was amazed that I couldn’t really get a glance of what was inside. As I got to the bottom of the ramp, I looked and say the Main Street Railway Station and that’s about all. But, as I entered the front gate to get my first look at Main Street USA, I was truly in awe of all that I was seeing! City Hall, the Fire Station, all the little shops, the circle with a little court yard in the middle. It all looked beautiful and I felt as though I had been transported to another time in history!

As we began to make the walk around the circle, I was thinking “what more could there be”? Well, that proved to be a rather silly question. As I came around The Emporium, my eyes felt like they got 3 times wider as there was quite the reveal in my eyesight…Cinderella Castle! It was right there! Right in front of me! WOW!!

And to this day, when I enter The Magic Kingdom, I still have the same sense of awe and wonder that I experienced back then. Just walking into The Magic Kingdom gives the feeling of weight being lifted off of my shoulders. And, the initial view of The Castle still takes my breath away, as though it was my first visit.

How about some of you? Is there something at Walt Disney World that still makes you say WOW? Let me know about it in the comments section below.

Until next time, enjoy a little magic in every day!

First Impressions! Part one


So, I’ve been trying to think of something interesting to write about. And, the one thing that kept coming into my mind was the first time I visited Walt Disney World on October 2, 1982. And, the very first thing I got to do was ride the futuristic Monorail to The Magic Kingdom! I remember standing there gazing in awe as this sleek looking, shiny ‘train’ wooshed into the Transportation and Ticket Center (TTC) Station. I was amazed!

In the years to follow, I still have that same sense of awe! As someone who has spent a significant part of his adult life in the transportation industry (bus driver), I am always interested in other forms of transportation. What has amazed me most about the Monorail, is that it hasn’t been a concept widely considered by local governments. After all, if I remember the spiel, the monorail is propelled by magnetic motors that use electricity to drive them. That seems incredibly efficient in my mind.

On my last trip, I took a Disney Transport bus from Port Orleans – Riverside to The Magic Kingdom. And, while it was nice to have someone else do the driving, I was a little confused by being dropped just feet away from the entrance to the park. What happened to the TTC? So, at the end of our day, my oldest daughter and I jumped on the boat from The Magic Kingdom to the TTC and boarded the EPCOT Monorail. I had to have a ride! There was no choice for me! I was drawn to it! And, my daughter loved the ride, too! Seeing her eyes as the train approached reminded me of how I must have looked oh so many years ago.

So, I ask you…Is the monorail a ride? An attraction? Transportation? Or, could it be a little of all three? I think you know my answer, please feel free to leave your comments.

I’d like to thank ResortLoop.com for mentioning my blog on their show! It was unexpected, but quite appreciated! Thanks, Guys!

And remember, may you always come home with Magical Memories!

Mug Shot!

As many may know, Walt Disney World is introducing the Rapid Fill Mug (RFID) system at all on-property resorts. On the surface, this seems like a good idea. It seems Disney may be trying to control the inventory of sodas. But, as I think about the impact on my wallet, I’m beginning to think it’s just a money driven decision.

I love going to Disney World, but over the twenty-five or so years since I first began visiting WDW, there seems to be a bit of a lack in the magic that built the Disney empire. Sure, I agree they need to make money. But, as a father of three, I have to consider every dollar being spent.

For instance, on our upcoming trip we have 6 people traveling for a six-night stay. The cost of the mugs would be
$128. I don’t know about you, but I couldn’t drink enough soda to make that worth the spending! I don’t think my kids could, either. Although, I’m sure they would try.

Refillable-Mugs-500x333Photo from disneyfoodblog.com

That being said, if using one of the dining plans, it’s another thought all-together. These mugs are usable at any of the on-property resort food courts, if I’m reading this right. So, theoretically, you could be staying at POP and wander around the Boardwalk area, make a pass through the Beach Club Marketplace to fill your Rapid Fill Mug!
That’s the way I read it, anyway!

As always, feel free to leave your comments! I’d love to know your thoughts!

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!