Magical Travel with Heather Collea
|Posted on May 22, 2015 at 2:00 PM||comments (90)|
It all started with a Mouse
Last month I had the incredible opportunity to travel to Disneyland for an Agent Education Program. I was so excited because I had never been to Disneyland! What, you say, you've never been to Disneyland??!? Yep, that's right, it was my first time at Disneyland. I guess I just didn't get what the big deal was. My thoughts ran along the same lines as other's...it's smaller, there's not as much to do, it's the same rides, it's so far away, we have Walt Disney World and it's better. But guys, let me just tell you, those thoughts are wrong!!! Walt Disney World and Disneyland are not the same. Just because you have been to Walt Disney World does not mean you've been to Disneyland. I didn't get it before but I do now and I hope it is something that I can get across to you. I want you to go to Disneyland. It is its own experience and its own magical moments, and...it is the original. You walk on the same ground Walt did when he made his dream a reality. And that should be reason enough for you to go. But in case it's not enough, here are the 10 reasons you should go to Disneyland and why I will return again and again with my family.
10. It's not called sunny California for nothing!
According to this site, California is the number one state for the best weather. In order to the make the list "each state has places that meet these best weather criteria: Comfortable temperatures, with daily highs averaging between 63 and 86 degrees Fahrenheit for seven or more months of the year. Dry weather, at most 60 inches of rain a year. Mainly clear skies, with sunshine for at least 60% of the time." I am sure we all have experienced Florida summer heat...the oppressive heat, humidity, daily thunderstorms. Yuck! Give me sunny California any day! Now don't get me wrong, I love Florida, but if I had a choice...
9. No magic bands or planning fast passes 60 days in advance.
Disneyland still uses the old system. For some this might be considered a negative. But for some, this is a definite pro! It's still the good old way in California. You know how you used to see everyone in Florida with the lanyards that contained their key, tickets, etc. before magic bands? Well, that's what you will still see in Disneyland. No magic bands to mess with. And as for fast passes? There is no planning fast passes days in advance in Disneyland or DCA (Disney California Adventure). You just walk up to the ride you want a fast pass for, stick your card in and a fast pass is spitted, sputted, whatever you want to call it, back at you. Voila! You have a fast pass.
8. Disneyland has excellent relations with its Good Neighbor Hotels.
There is no competition. They work together. Disney wants to make sure that they meet all the needs and budgets of their guests! If a hotel is given the Good Neighbor title, you know that it has to meet the strict standards Disney expects! The Good Neighbor Hotels also share close proximity to the parks. You don't want to find yourself in a hotel a cajillion miles away from Disneyland and DCA. And often times you can even find special offers for Good Neighbors. Want more information? Click here.
7. You can include more in your package than just Disneyland and Disney California Adventure.
Since the resorts and parks are so intimate in California, you will find that you can enjoy most of what Disney has to offer in 3-5 days. This is great for lots of folks on the west coast. But if you are an east coaster, like I am, you tend to think I don't want to fly all the way out there and be done in 4 days! But this is what makes Disneyland so awesome! You can add on additional packages to enjoy your trip longer! For example, there is a San Diego Getaway that you can add! This package can give you an opportunity to stroll through quaint Old Town, dine in the historic Gaslamp Quarter, or visit such famed attractions as the San Diego Zoo®, San Diego Zoo Safari Park and SeaWorld® Adventure Park, LEGOLAND® California, and Sea Life Aquarium™. Or if that doesn't float your boat, you can enjoy a southern California Vacation Package! In Disneyland, you can make the most out of your vacation! It's your choice! Read here to learn more about additional packages.
6. The attractions are not the same.
Of course, the parks do have different attractions. Everyone knows that. But even the same attractions are not the same attractions. Say what now? For example, both Disneyland and Walt Disney World have the attraction "It's a Small World". But the two are actually different! Yes, it's the same song. But what you see on the exterior and the inside are different! For example, some of the dolls in Disneyland's version are actual versions of some Disney characters! You can find Mulan, Peter Pan, or Cinderella, to name a few. So now you can't say anymore, the attractions are the same, because, nope they are not! Make it a challenge to find the similarities and differences in the two!
Exterior of It's a Small World at night
5. Disney California Adventure is like nothing else at Walt Disney World
Cars Land!!! It. Is. So. Awesome!!! The Radiator Spring Racers! So fun! And Disney California Adventure is not all about Cars Land either. Part of DCA looks like a boardwalk theme park named Paradise Pier. There is also a part that pays homage to the Pacific northwest named the Pacific Wharf. You also have Grizzly Peak which looks and feels just like the Grand Californian Resort. In fact, you can walk right out of the Grand Californian and step right into DCA, no monorail, no bus, just one step and you're there! Can you say the same thing for Walt Disney World?
4. You can walk everywhere.
There is an advantage to staying at a "smaller" more intimate park. You can walk everywhere, literally! I stayed at the Disneyland hotel and every afternoon after our meetings we would walk from our hotel through the Downtown Disney District and make a left or right to enter Disneyland or Disney California Adventure. No bus, no car, no monorail, no tram. Just your own 2 feet. There are only a few resorts I can say that about with Walt Disney World. But no where in Disney World can you reach all parks and downtown Disney on your own two feet. Pretty nice. When you park your car or exit your transfer vehicle, say sayonara to those modes of transportation because you will not need them again until it's time to leave or you choose to add a vacation package to your trip.
Oh, wait, you can ride the monorail in California. You can take the monorail from the Downtown Disney District into Disneyland. But you can also walk
3. Disneyland and Disney California Adventure do in 2 parks what Walt Disney World does in 4.
Okay, get this! This blew my mind! There are the same number of attractions in Disneyland and California Adventure Park as there are all of 4 of Walt Disney World's! Yes, so again, you have the same number of attractions in 2 parks (which are right beside each other) that there are in 4 spread out parks in Walt Disney World. I never knew this! I just thought that because they were only 2 parks in California that it was smaller, that there was less to do! Yes, I am eating my humble pie! All of the times I said, "but Disneyland is so smaaaaalllll". Can you hear my whiny voice? I feel like such a whiny loser now, lol!
2. DisneyLand is celebrating its 60th Anniversary!
60 years! That is a long time to be the happiest place on Earth! And you only get to celebrate 60 years once. So why wouldn't you want to be a part of that? So much is planned for this event! There is a new parade called Paint the Night and a new fireworks extravaganza called Disneyland Forever and a new World of Color! (World of Color is kind of like Fantasmic, but waaaaay better. Plus Disneyland has its own Fantasmic, which I heard was better than Hollywood Studio's version. I didn't get the chance to see and judge for myself. But given that I was wrong about a lot of other things, I would probably say it's true). I have also heard rumors that every day they are picking one family or one guest to win a variety of prizes, such as a night in the Disneyland Dream Suite or a big butt diamond. Wouldn't you love to be that lucky guest?! You can read more about the Diamond Celebration here.
1. And the number one reason? It is the original.
Walt worked here. He lived here. He dreamed here. Though Walt started the plans on Disney World, he never got the chance to actually see it come to fruition. And therefore, we will never have the opportunity to share in his footsteps at Disney World. But we can in Disneyland. I know this sounds corny. I would have thought what's the big deal? But, it really is something. It's a feeling, a touch of magic. Maybe it's because we think if one man can build his dream, why can't we all? I don't know, I can't really put it into words. But I had chills run up and down my arms when I was there, thinking about Walt and his vision. I was able to visit his apartment that he lived in while he was building Disneyland. (Yes, the very one above the fire department, the one with the lamp in the window that shines 24/7.) And while in the apartment I became teary eyed listening to our cast member talk about Walt and his family life and Disneyland. And I wasn't the only one trying to discreetly wipe tears away. The moment affected everyone in our group. He was just such a good man and one who believed in family. Walt was able to do what few others have been able to do, to make a dream a reality. I think it's something everyone wants, to have a dream come true, but not something we often get to see come true or experience. But Walt made it so that we can experience a dream, even if it's someone else's. In that moment, it just feels like its ours. And to walk in Walt's footsteps and experience it in such a grand way... well, I still get chills! I know I'm not doing it any justice trying to put it into words. But trust me. It is just something you have to experience!
(The apartment tour is no longer available, so it is not something you can do. BUT there is a tour called Walk in Walt's Disneyland Footsteps Guided Tour that will take you other places just as fabulous. Click here to learn more about it.)
Did I convince you? I really hope so! I really fell in love with Disneyland and I hope everyone gets to experience the original park that started it all...Disneyland. But just in case you need a little more enticement...
In honor of Disneyland's 60th anniversary and Disney's 24 Hour Summer Kick Off Celebration, I am offering a $50 gift card and Disneyland 60th commemorative gift to the FIRST THREE people who book a DISNEYLAND Southern California vacation with me. This is an exclusive offer through me only. You must book a package (package includes hotel and park tickets). Prizes will be sent with your travel documents approximately 1 month before your travel date. This offer does not include Walt Disney World in Florida.
One last thing, remember that Good Neighbor Hotel offer I mentioned a little while ago? Well, how about an offer on top of an offer? Disney currently has this promotion going for Disneyland! Plan a 2-Night/3-Day Disneyland Resort vacation at a Good Neighbor Hotel starting at $99 per person per day for a family of 4. Includes 3-Day, 1 Park per Day Disneyland Resort tickets. For arrivals most nights 8/30 – 10/1/15 and 11/1 – 11/23/15
Saving money and winning money, what could be better than that? If interested there are a number of ways to reach me. You can fill out the contact form here on my website. You can email me at [email protected] Or you can call me at 704.813.1358
I hope to hear from you soon! But until then, have a magical day and
|Posted on April 7, 2015 at 8:00 PM||comments (4603)|
Last week I posted a question on my Facebook page asking what you wanted to know more about. It could have been anything from questions or things you wanted to know more about or maybe something you had heard and were curious about. It could have been anything from cruise lines to resorts or destinations beyond Disney. It didn't just have to be about Disney.
One fan (thanks Kyla!) asked, "I want to know which resorts have more than just a "hotel room." We hate just being stuck in one room. So talk to us about other options!!"
So let's talk options!
Disney understands that in order to be competitive you have to give clients what they want. Value resorts are a great, well, value but still have larger than life theming! Most rooms accomodate up to 4 guests. But Disney realized that it was missing a target audience of larger families. So to give them more options, they have included family suites (sleep up to 6 guests) at their newest resort Art of Animation and now at All-Star Music. Family suites feature a separate bedroom, pull-out sofas in the living room, 2 bathrooms and a kitchenette.
Here are the floor plans:
All Star Music Art of Animation
Moderate resorts are next on the chain. While not as expensive as the deluxe resorts they are not as competitively priced as the value resorts. Each resort here is themed with an exoctic locale. For parties up to 6, the cabins at Fort Wilderness give you more than just the standard hotel room. This was one resort I hadn't been on site with until my last trip. We ate lunch at Trail's End Restaurant (which was delicious, make sure to try the chicken and waffles). I was amazed by this resort. It feels like it is entirely its own world! And there is so much to do - horseback riding, wagon rides, playgrounds, canoeing, shuffleboard, pony rides, tennis, fishing - these are just a few of the activities you can find at this resort! Each cabin features a fully equipped kitchen, double bed and a set of bunk beds, separate living room with a pull-down bed, full bathroom, DVD player, outdoor patio deck with picnic table and charcoal grill, private parking and daily housekeeping.
Here is the floor plan:
Cabins at Fort Wilderness
Deluxe Resort Hotel – Sleeps 5 or More Guests
If budget is not a concern, then I highly recommend the deluxe resorts! You have many more options here and the resorts are outstanding! Each resort has its own floor plan so if you have a specific question about a certain resort's floor plans, leave a comment and I will post the floor plan for you. Each deluxe resort has:
1 bedroom suite - this is a two-room suite. The bedroom features 2 Queen Beds. The bathroom has a separate sink/dressing area from the actual bathroom. A separate parlor features a sitting area and a day bed, along with a small kitchen area and refrigerator.
2 bedroom suite - there are two bedrooms and a parlor in this suite. One bedroom has two queen size beds and the other bedroom typically has a king size bed. Each bedroom has its own bathroom. The parlor has a sitting area with a day bed, and a small kitchen area with refrigerator, and a third bathroom.
Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge
Disney's Beach Club Resort
Disney's BoardWalk Inn
Disney's Contemporary Resort
Disney's Grand Floridian Resort & Spa
Disney's Polynesian Village Resort
Disney's Wilderness Lodge
Disney's Yacht Club Resort
Deluxe Villa Resort Hotels – Sleeps Up to 8 or 9 Guests
Each Deluxe Villa Resort has one and two-bedroom villas. Each two-bedroom villa sleeps up to 8 Guests—and up to 9 at select locations—and includes home-like amenities such as a full kitchen, a whirlpool tub, DVD player, washer and dryer.
1 bedroom suite - can accomodate up to 5 guests. It offers a fully equipped kitchen, king size bed in master bedroom, queen-size sleeper sofa and twin-size sleeper chair in living room, two full bathrooms, washer and dryer, and private proch or balcony.
2 bedroom suite - accomodates up to 9 guests, a fully equipped kitchen, master bedroom, second bedroom, 3 full bathrooms, washer and dryer, DVD player and private porch or balcony
Bay Lake Tower at Disney's Contemporary Resort (sleeps up to 9)
Disney's Animal Kingdom Villas - Jambo House (sleeps up to 9)
Disney's Animal Kingdom Villas - Kidani Village (sleeps up to 9)
Disney's Beach Club Villas
Disney's BoardWalk Villas
Disney's Old Key West Resort (sleeps up to 9)
Disney's Saratoga Springs Resort
The Villas at Disney's Grand Floridian Resort (sleeps up to 9; select rooms up to 10)
The Villas at Disney's Wilderness Lodge (sleeps up to 9)
And one of my personal favorites are the Treehouse Villas at Disney's Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa
The Treehouse Villas at Disney's Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa are stand-alone Disney Deluxe Villas nestled in natural forest glens just around the corner from the bustling Downtown Disney Area. They are elevated 10 feet off the ground on pedestals and beams designed to blend into the lush wilderness environment. They sleep up to 9 Guests and feature modern luxuries such as cathedral ceilings, granite countertops and flat-panel TVs.
Disneyland has 3 resorts. Each resort hotel has its own distinctive theme, selection of shopping, dining experiences and themed pool areas. In order from lowest priced to highest priced:
Disney's Paradise Pier Hotel - has a 1-bedroom or Signature 2-bedroom suites that contain many of the comforts of home. It offers 1 king-size bed or 2 queen-size beds per room and can sleep up to 12 guests depending on room type.
Disneyland Hotel - has 1 bedroom suites and delivers higher levels of luxury and comfort. Adjacent rooms can also be requested to create 2 or 3 bedroom options. It offers 1 king-size bed or 2 queen-size beds per bedroom and can sleep up to 14 guests depending on room type.
Disney's Grand Californian Hotel and Spa - has a 1-bedroom, 2-bedroom and 3-bedroom suite that offer a relaxing retreat after an exhilarating day at the Disneyland Resort. It offers 1 king-size bed or 2 queen-size beds per room and can sleep up to 14 guests depending on room type.
Guess that's it for now! Remember, these are just some of the rooms at the resorts. Each resort also comes with a standard bedroom or studio. I hope this answered your question Kyla! Let me know if you have any other questions, whether it is related to this post or a completely different question. I will be glad to answer!
In case you are intertested in my Facebook page, check it out here! Like my page to receive tips, discounts, or news! And feel free to share with friends!
|Posted on March 31, 2015 at 6:05 PM||comments (2532)|
Why, yes, yes I am! Thanks for asking! But why? Why do I go every year? Isn't it just the same thing, over and over again? No, it is definitely not the same thing over and over again, it is soooo much more than that!
Let me explain. Disney has been pure magic for my family since the first time we went. And I feel the magic most when it is my husband, Bob, my son, Braden, and myself on vacation. I go multiple times a year, sometimes by myself and sometimes with Braden, sometimes with other family memebers. But the magic never feels quite as strong as when we, as a family, travel to Disney on vacation together. If I had to sum it up as to why, I would say that there are two main reasons as to why I feel this way.
Reason #1 - Braden. For those of you who don't know us well, Braden was diagnosed with autism at an early age, just before his 2nd birthday. You would never know to look at him or speak with him. And there are times that you could say, yes, I can see it. Every day brings its own challenges and sometimes life is hard. But there are many days that I think to myself what a blessing he is and what wonderful things he has taught me. And then there is Disney...the magic of Disney. The minute his foot steps on Disney soil, you can see the magic enter his eyes. We weren't sure what to expect the first time. Would the crowds be too much? Would it be too over stimulating for him? Would he be able to stand in lines? But Disney knows how to take care of their visitors, both young and old, and especially for its special needs children. Braden has always been a sensory seeker, meaning he craves movement and pressure. The rides at Disney provide all of that movement he craves and the pressure he seeks. But oh my! Disney has done so much more for him! The first year was all about the rides. Sure, that makes sense, right? So the next year we were ready to prepare our days around rides. But Braden had different plans for us. On his second trip, Braden decided all on his own, that he wanted to meet all the characters and get their autographs. Say what??? He wants to meet characters, make connections, make conversation, allow himself to be touched and to give touch himself? Say what? Oh my, that was when the Disney magic hit me full steam in the feelings! Bob and I couldn't stop looking at each other in amazement! We were on cloud nine! You want to know who else was on cloud nine? Braden! He had those princesses and characters wrapped around his little finger! He would bow to the princesses and ask permission to get their autograph and their picture taken with him. He knew exactly how to be the little charmer he can be if he wants. But do you want to know what put him over the top? Queen Elsa. He has been in love with Elsa ever since he watched the movie Frozen. So of course, we had to meet her! And he was his charming little self again. So much so, that all the cast members, Elsa, and Anna, were just crooning over him! And then!!!! Because she was just so amazed by him, Elsa kissed Braden on the cheek. Yes, my son who doesn't like to be kissed, wipes off every single kiss you give him, stood in utter shock and true love and felt that kiss as no one on Earth has ever experienced a kiss. He carried those wide eyes and dreamy look for the rest of our vacation and REFUSED to wipe that kiss off! This picture we caught just explains it all...no further words needed. You can see for yourself the Disney magic in his eyes.
So now, Bob and I were prepared for our third trip. Make sure to make time for rides AND characters. And SURPRISE!!! Braden decided this year that he was going to focus on animals! We booked our trip and stayed at the Animal Kingdom Lodge and reserved a birthday night safari with night vision binoculars for him. Talk about over the moon! And again, we experienced that Disney magic through him! Except this time it manifested into something different. The best example of this manifestation was over his new magic band not allowing him to unlock our room's door. So, after being frustrated yet again, he decided to take matters into his own hands and go speak with someone at the front desk. So imagine my surprise as I opened my mouth to start my long explanation of our problem, when Braden's voice stopped me. HE was the one who said excuse me, I need some help. HE was the one who then proceeded to explain what the issue was and was there anything they could do to help him. Yes, my mouth was dangling open and I had to use my hand to close my mouth. He was so polite and so well articulated. You would have thought it was an adult speaking with the cast members! And here he was again, my little Prince Charming, charming all the cast members. They were so impressed by how well he was speaking and how polite he was, and oh my! it was his birthday! So as one cast member set about fixing his magic band, I look up to see 2 other cast members handing him this little safari hat as a gift that they had found in the back. Yes, my mouth dropped open in amazement! Tears sprang into my eyes...this is Disney magic at its best! And I am so thankful that we are able to experience that through Braden. And for you all, here is a picture of us at the Animal Kingdom Theme Park with Braden proudly wearing his safari hat.
Reason #2 - Bob. Disney is truly a vacation for us. I don't know if it's Disney magic or just the fact that we are getting away from the every day hustle and bustle of life. But Bob and I connect, re-energize, remember why we love each other. Maybe I should call it Disney love instead of Disney magic. We can re-connect as a couple while we are here. There are no disagreements, no rolling of the eyes, no heavy sighs. We can just relax and enjoy our time together. We often find ourselves holding hands without realizing it. We smile at each other more, feel more pride in things we see Braden accomplish. We can just be ourselves and enjoy the time we have together. That is no small feat, let me tell you! It's hard to get away from life, the demands and urgency we feel to accomplish everything on our to do list, to cram everything in to meet the daily grind of life and work. But none of that seems to matter when we are at Disney, as a family. Except for Braden, maybe...he was SO embarrassed by this picture!
Disney is magic, and love, and family and THAT is why we return year after year.
And ya, okay, it is a little for me too! I still feel like a kid at heart! In no way do I feel that I am actually the number that my driver's license says I am! And there is no better place to feel like a kid than when you are at Disney!