Jul 132011
 

When you get in trouble and you don’t know right from wrong
Give a little whistle! Give a little whistle! — Jiminy Cricket

Q. We are planning a Disney trip which enables us to be part of a Grand Gathering.  Are the Grand Gathering meals (The Safari Celebration Dinner, The Illuminations Dinner, Dessert Reception and The Good Morning Gathering at Tony’s Town Square) really worth it? It is hard to find information on the Walt Disney website. Do you have any details on these options and do you have any preferences?  (Submitted by Jennifer C.)

 

A. How exciting to be planning a trip for such a group!

For those who are unaware, to qualify for a Grand Gathering, you’ll need eight ticket-holders (any one under 3 doesn’t count, although they can participate). In addition, at least 80% of your group needs to be staying in on-site Disney accommodations.  It doesn’t matter what Disney accommodations you choose – Deluxe, Value, a campsite at Fort Wilderness; it’s all good.  Also good to note is that everyone in your group does not have to be in the same resort – Grandpa Jones can save and go with All-Stars, while Cousin Alexander swanks it up at the Grand Floridian. DVC members or renters are also eligible to participate.  In addition, you all don’t have to be related to qualify for a Grand Gathering.  If you are taking a trip with 7 of your closest friends that counts too!

People sign up for Grand Gatherings because it allows them access to special events only available for Grand Gathering guests.  Please take note that these events are not free.

In a nutshell, the Safari Celebration Dinner takes guests on a special ride of Kilimanjaro Safaris (meaning, not the typical storyline).  To make the ride more special, an animal handler will be onboard to serve as your guide.  Then you’ll make your way over to Tusker House for an African-inspired meal.

The International Dinner and Illuminations Dessert Reception will have your dinner take place in the Odyssey building, where you will be served a family-style dinner of international cuisine.  The evening ends with a special VIP viewing area for Illuminations, punctuated by a special dessert party.

The Good Morning Gathering sits you down at Tony’s Town Square for a family-style meal.  Tony hosts the event, and brings along some friendly characters for a meet and greet along the way.

If you would like more information about any of these events or about how Grand Gatherings work, visit here:  http://www.themouseforless.com/tripplanning/wdwmisc/grandgathering.shtml

As far as our expert recommendation, we lean more towards the Safari Celebration Dinner and the International Dinner and Illuminations Dessert Reception.

One word of caution; these events become a part of your resort reservation and they do have a firm cancelation policy.

Jun 292011
 

When you get in trouble and you don’t know right from wrong
Give a little whistle! Give a little whistle! — Jiminy Cricket

Q. I would like to find out if there are dates that are posted for Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party 2011.  (Submitted by SEFanatic4E)

A. Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party is a special hard ticket event that occurs on select nights in the months of September, October, and November.  Party hours are from 7 pm – 12 am.  During the party, guests are able to experience a specially themed parade, called Mickey’s Boo To You Parade, and the Happy Hallowishes Firework Show, in addition to being able to dress up and trick or treat.
This year, party nights are:  September 13, 16, 20, 23, 27, 30, October 2, 6, 7, 10, 11, 13, 16, 18, 20, 21, 23, 25, 27, 28, 30, and 31, and November 1.  Tickets vary in price depending on the day you are planning to attend and on many nights are a few dollars cheaper when bought in advance.  For more information, visit http://disneyworld.disney.go.com/parks/magic-kingdom/special-events/mickeys-not-so-scary-halloween-party/

Jun 152011
 

When you get in trouble and you don’t know right from wrong
Give a little whistle! Give a little whistle! — Jiminy Cricket

Q. We are going this summer and are wondering where we can find the characters that were previously found in Toontown at Walt Disney World?

A. Yes, it’s true, Mickey’s Vacation Home in Walt Disney World is no longer around (although he does still have a home in Disneyland’s Toontown) but you CAN still meet the characters that were previously found in this area of the park!

Guests will now find Mickey on Main Street USA in the Town Square Theater, right in the front of the park.  There, Magician Mickey Mouse greets park visitors in an area themed around a backstage theater dressing room.  While waiting, make sure to check out all the theming and gags that can be found in this room based off of various different Disney movies and theme park attractions.

While in the Town Square Theater, guests will also have the opportunity to meet with the Disney Princesses.  Make sure to check the wait time board, as that lets guests know which Princesses are doing meet and greets at that time.

When entering the Town Square Theater building, guests will have the opportunity to choose between the Princesses line versus the Mickey Mouse line.

One new feature is that with this new meet and greet area, guests may choose to stand in the standby queue as they previously had in Toontown or they may obtain a Fastpass to meet either Mickey or the Princesses.    Fastpass for this meet and greet area works just like it does for other theme park attractions, where the guest will insert their park ticket into the Fastpass machine and will be given a ticket that has a one hour return window printed on it.  The Fastpass distribution center can be found just around the corner of the building, near The Chapeau and the Main Street Confectionary.

As far as guests who may be looking for Tinkerbell and her Fairy Friends, as of right now, they are not doing meet and greets in the park.

Jun 012011
 

When you get in trouble and you don’t know right from wrong
Give a little whistle! Give a little whistle! — Jiminy Cricket

Q. My question involves Star Wars weekends. What are the June dates?
(Submitted by Ruth D.)

A. You are going to have a blast! Star Wars Weekends are an event that takes place annually over 4 consecutive summer weekends during the months of May and June at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. This event celebrates all that is involved in the Star Wars saga with park guests being able to meet celebrities and characters involved with the franchise, take part in special panels and presentations, experience a special motorcade, take advantage of special shopping experiences, plus much, much more. This year’s June dates (which will be weekends 3 and 4 of Star Wars Weekends) are June 3rd, 4th, and 5th and the 10th, 11th, and 12th. Oh and make sure to ride Star Tours – The Adventures Continue! It can’t be considered Star Wars Weekends without getting to experience that! Have a great trip and May the Force Be With You!

May 182011
 

When you get in trouble and you don’t know right from wrong
Give a little whistle! Give a little whistle! — Jiminy Cricket

Do you have a Disney dilemma? Give us a little whistle and we’ll help you sort it out. Questions should be sent to whistle@magically-speaking.com. If your dilemma is trip-related, make sure to include when you will be traveling.

Q. My family and I have booked a 3 day Disney cruise for October 25, 2012 on the Disney Dream and after the cruise we will be spending 4 days at Disney.

Our question is we want to have almost everything paid for in advance and wanted to know if we could purchase hopper passes this year for next year, as well as purchasing our on property hotel stay in advance. (Submitted by Aritha P.)

A. Hi Aritha!

It sounds like you have a great trip planned!

There are a few parts to your question, and while I normally wouldn’t answer a question with a question, there are a few questions that you need to ask yourself in order to answer this one.  The first question is whether or not you think that you will want to include one of Disney’s Dining Plans for your land stay next year.  In order to have a Dining Plan you would need to have a package that includes both the hotel stay and the park tickets, so purchasing the tickets ahead of time wouldn’t be an option.

While park tickets to sometimes go up in August, it usually is a fairly small amount.  Purchasing the park tickets ahead of time would also limit your ability to take advantage of any package discount that might come out, as they often have minimum ticket purchase requirements, so that is another factor to consider.

You can reserve a room up to 500 days in advance, but you have to keep in mind that it would be at an estimated room only rate.  These rates can be booked with the understanding that the pricing will be adjusted when the official 2012 rates are released.  The challenge here is that if you ultimately want a package, because of Disney’s system constraints, you will need to cancel the room only reservation and rebook the reservation as a package when the official rates are out.  So, all of the money that was pre-paid would be refunded.

Now, the good news is that Disney tends to release their rates for the following year somewhere in the late summer to early fall.  So, you would still have quite a while to get things planned and paid for in advance even if you waited for the official pricing.  Many of the agents with The Magic For Less Travel even have a waitlist for guests who are looking for 2012 rates, so if you contact them for a quote, they can hold onto your information and will get back to you with the pricing as soon as it is available!

May 042011
 

When you get in trouble and you don’t know right from wrong
Give a little whistle! Give a little whistle! — Jiminy Cricket

Do you have a Disney dilemma? Give us a little whistle and we’ll help you sort it out. Questions should be sent to whistle@magically-speaking.com. If your dilemma is trip-related, make sure to include when you will be traveling.

Q. We are going on the Disney Wonder to Alaska on June 14. I have been reading on blogs about Fish Extenders. They sound like fun! Do you know how to get on the “list” to do this? (Submitted by Lois B.)

A. Hi Lois!

Fish Extenders are a fun way to connect with other Disney fans.  For those who don’t know, on Disney Cruise Ships, there is a decorative fish outside each door that serves essentially as a glorified refrigerator magnet/clip.  A Fish Extender is essentially a pocket organizer than hangs from the Fish. This pocket organizer can be as simple or elaborate as you want it to be. (For example, some people have used things like mail organizers and others sew and create their own. You can even purchase pre-made ones off of places like Ebay.com and Etsy.com)

The purpose of a Fish Exender is that many people will join together who are sailing on the same cruise and play sort of a Secret Santa type game with other cruisers who are participating too.  Those who are playing the game will leave a little gift in everyone’s Fish Extender pouch.  The gifts are generally inexpensive knick-knacks.  They can be something related to the Cruise, Disney items, or items that relate back to where you call home.  Many people also make homemade gifts that are really quite special. The sky is the limit, but it’s always fun to come back to your room and see what people have left for you!

There really is no specific list to get on, as this is sort of an unofficial “game” played by the Disney online community. The best advice I have is to visit different online message boards and see if there’s a list that’s already been compiled for the dates of your trip.

I hope this helps and Bon Voyage!