The Whimsical Wishes team just returned from a holiday trip to our favorite place on Earth: Walt Disney World!
This was our first time back together since we launched the agency. It was long overdue and we had so much fun.
The holidays is one of our favorite times to visit Walt Disney World! The magic is alive all around you - in the parks, at the hotels - no detail is missed.
Every trip, we dedicate time to researching new things so we wrote a list of our key trip takeaways to not only share our personal experience with you, but show that the magic is alive and well in Walt Disney World for all to enjoy.
#1. Unique Opportunities to See Characters
This is one of our favorite pictures from our trip! We were talking towards Adventureland when we stumbled across Eeyore and Rabbit on the porch of Crystal Palace.
We loved seeing characters pop up all around the parks like this! Whenever the music played, we knew we were in for a treat. Characters made their way around the parks on decorated boats, tricked out cars and holiday themed floats.
We really enjoyed the characters waving from the Main Street USA Railroad platform; we loved being able to spontaneously walk up and chat or selfie with our friends from a distance.
#2. The Taste of EPCOT International Festival of the Holidays
Our first taste of the Festival was from one of our favorite booths, Las Posadas, in Mexico. We loved sharing this tostada and these holiday flavored margaritas. We could have spent a whole week tasting our way around the Festival!
We played along with Olaf's Holiday Tradition Expedition as we traveled around the World Showcase. Kiddos would love finding him in his sleigh in each pavilion, probably as much as we did!
The highlight was the Voices of Liberty; we were missing Candlelight Processional this year but this brought us a beautiful touch of one of our favorite live performances. We can't wait to see what live performances return in the New Year.
#3. Experiencing our Favorite Ride Queues
We're all used to FastPass+ helping us skip to the front of the line but while this service is suspended, it was nice to take in the magical details of our favorite ride queues. The queue from Peter Pan's Flight takes you into the Darling home to play with Tinkerbell before you board the attraction. While the lines appear long because of physical distancing measures, we found they moved at a great pace and we were never bored or wishing for something to see.
#4. New Dining Experiences
It had been a long since we'd experienced dinner at Hollywood & Vine in Disney's Hollywood Studios. We were excited to try Minnie's Holiday Dine with the new a la carté menu.
We were pleasantly surprised and enjoyed every element of the experience. The character interaction was a lot of fun; the characters were dressed in their holiday best as they danced around our table. All of the food was great, too!
While not all of our go-to restaurants are open, it was a treat to have some new experiences this trip including Rose & Crown, Trattoria al Forno and the new prix-fix lunch at Be Our Guest.
#5. Castle Projections and Fireworks
It was nice to see a hint of Minnie's Holiday Christmastime spectacular this holiday season. The details and the movements within the projections were captivating and festive.
We were treated to a burst of fireworks every time the castle projections changed; it was amazing to see the sky light up over Cinderella's Castle again.
We spent the better part of our evening soaking in the magic and we can't wait until we're watching fireworks show on Main Street again.
#6. The Magic of Magic Shots
We will never stop singing the praises of Memory Maker and PhotoPass photographers. It's always nice to get pictures of the three of us together but the Magic Shots this trip were extra special. This is our favorite Magic Shot from this trip; the photographer who took these photos could not have been sweeter. Always ask your Photopass photographers if they have any Magic Shots they can take for you and your family.
#7. Enjoying the Small Moments
We always encourage our clients to slow down and take the time to soak in the magic. We are guilty of not always doing that for ourselves but after being apart for the last 9 months, we made a point to relax, enjoy each other and appreciate the every minute. We spent time hanging out on the curb in Hollywood Studios; we drank our coffee and enjoyed a holiday treat while multiple character cavalcades passed us by. We sought out new photo ops (#prettyinpinkwall) and sampled colorful milks on Batuu (#teamblue). Even though it was chilly, we paid a visit to Stormalong Bay and enjoyed a drink by the pool. We enjoyed every second on Main Street, whether we were photographing characters or buying gifts for our families at the Emporium and Confectionary.
More than ever before, we were so grateful for the opportunity to visit Walt Disney World together. We were also reminded how lucky we are to have job and that allows us to be a part of something so special for our clients. We know our families are ready for their next vacation, and we're excited to be a part of whatever vacation your family has been wishing for.
We just returned from Walt Disney World and are so excited to share what we experienced on our amazing trip! This is the first of a series of blog posts we'll share with you to help paint the picture of what you can expect on a Walt Disney World vacation and to help you make the most of it!
We are frequently asked what it is like to travel during this time. Our clients rely on us to be experts and we work tirelessly to elevate our knowledge for you. As your travel advisor, a very important part of our job is to stay current on new travel policies and procedures. Walt Disney World has been open for some time now, and they have been very successful in maintaining a safe environment for their resort guests. Kristen and Kayla just traveled to Walt Disney World and experienced this first hand. They saw and followed the protocols that are in place to help guests have a fun, clean and safe trip to the parks.
#1: Wear your mask
Face coverings must be worn by all guests (ages 2 and up) and Cast Members. You’re responsible for bringing your own face covering but Disney does sell them throughout the parks and resorts. All face coverings must be made with at least two layers of material, fully cover the nose and mouth, secure under the chin, fit snugly against the side of the face and be secured with ties or ear-loops. Neck gaiters, open-chin triangle bandanas, and face coverings with valves, mesh material or holes of any kind are not considered acceptable face coverings. You may only remove your face covering while actively eating or drinking in a stationary position (i.e., standing at a table, sitting on a bench, etc.).
#2: Wash your hands
You probably know by now, washing your hands for 20 seconds is key to reducing the spread. There are portable hand-washing stations throughout the parks that make washing your hands easier to do than ever. Disney has installed hundreds of hand sanitizing stations throughout the parks as well.
We kept Purell wipes and hand sanitizer in our park bags so we could grab them whenever we wanted them. We brought a bottle of antibacterial hand soap for our hotel room, too.
3: Keep your (physical) distance
You are reminded often to keep 6 feet between yourself and others. Disney has installed ground markers and physical barriers to make it easy. Ride queues, restaurant dining rooms and shops throughout the parks are clearly labeled so you can maintain a safe physical distance from other guests. Thankfully, this doesn’t impede social interactions! We love chatting with guests and Cast Members; thankfully, we were still able to do plenty of that while keeping our physical distance from them.
#4: Plan your day in the park
While you’re waiting to enter the park, chat with everyone in your party about what they’d like to see and do today. You don’t need to have a step-by-step plan, but you should decide what your priorities are. Monitor the attraction wait times on your My Disney Experience app throughout the day to help you decide where to head next.
#5: Be patient.
While crowds may be lower than usual, it’s important to remember that the park isn’t operating at full capacity. More time is being dedicated to cleaning and maintaining attractions, restaurants and common areas throughout the day. You may wait a little longer for a ride than the posted wait time, or your food may take a little longer to prepare than usual. Be patient and be kind. Rest assured everyone is doing their best to make magic for you.
#7: Stay close to the parks
There are certain resorts that are more convenient than others in the current climate. We recommend staying close to the park you plan to visit the most. If you’re going to spend more than one day at Magic Kingdom, staying at Disney’s Contemporary Resort or Bay Lake Tower at Disney’s Contemporary Resort are the most convenient as you can walk across the street and into the park. If you’re going to frequent Epcot or Hollywood Studios, you’ll appreciate the ease of accessing these parks from Disney’s Beach Club Villas, Disney’s Yacht Club or Disney’s Boardwalk Inn and Villas. If you’re hoping for a more economical option, Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort offers easy access to Disney’s Skyliner which will get you quickly to either Epcot or Hollywood Studios.
If you want to try something new, consider Disney’s Riviera Resort. We had a chance to explore this resort for the first time on our most recent trip and it is beautiful! The 1- and 2-bedroom villas are great for families, the dining options are plentiful and the pools are beautiful. You can also easily access Disney’s Skyliner for a quick ride to either Epcot or Hollywood Studios.
#9: Partner with your travel advisor
Things are changing every day, it’s more important than ever to work with someone who can advise you on how to have the best vacation. We are here to walk you through every step, from choosing which parks to visit on which days to what to pack in your park bag. You have to take an active role in planning and enjoying your vacation, let us be your partners through it all.
Thank you for following our new blog series, Melissa's European Adventures! While cruises and much travel have been put on hold, it brings me joy to share our experiences and adventures with you. If you missed the first post in this series sharing the start of our Mediterranean Disney Cruise vacation in Barcelona, check it out!
Once we exited the gangway, we entered the ship and were greeted by one of our fav things to hear that always brings HUGE smiles to our faces, "Disney Magic, please welcome aboard the Ritrivi Family!". When you hear that saying with your family name, surrounded by crew members clapping as you enter the atrium, you know you are about to embark on one of the most fantastic vacations, ever!
We woke up and were in Italy! Ciao Italia! Docking in Naples offers a range of Port Adventures that can take you to a variety of locations, whether you are looking to take in some history or beautiful scenery. We had dreamt of visiting Capri, so we opted to spend the day there. We took a jet-boat ride to Capri, then boarded a shuttle to Anacapri. Our Port Adventure guide was so welcoming and informative. First, we had free time to explore the breathtaking views of the city and marina. We loved exploring the narrow streets and pathways to discover gardens, charming homes, and lovely scenery. Capri is the home of Limoncello- we enjoyed a few samples and as a result, our first souvenir from the cruise was purchased! My daughter was intrigued by the various sandal-makers located on the island. The Capri sandals date back to ancient times. This mom can't say no to a new pair of beautiful sandals! We found a small sandal shop on a side street and were greeted by the very talented sandal-maker himself. We chose the style, the color leather, he took our measurements and a short time later, we both walked out with a truly memorable souvenir- matching, custom Capri sandals, handmade before our very eyes. We then took a short bus ride down to Capri with our group for a truly delicious Italian, al fresco lunch, filled with antipasti, pasta, and meat.. After lunch, our guide took us on a walk through Piazza Umberto, through the "Rodeo Drive" of Capri, then up to the Gardens of Augustus for an absolutely breathtaking view of the Faraglioni rock formations and the Mediterranean. I could have stood there for hours, taking in the view. On our walk back to the funicular, we couldn't pass up stopping for gelato at the historic Gelateria Buonocore. The smell of their fresh made waffle cones that permeated the air was irresistible!
Our time in Capri was coming to an end, so we took the funicular down to the marina for the jet-boat ride back to the ship. The girls soaked in every last bit of Capri with the wind in our hair and beautiful views from the ride, while the boys took a nap to rest up for an evening of fun onboard. Our first stop in Italy was full of beauty around every single turn. We left Capri already dreaming of the day we'd return. That day was supposed to be in June of this year. My family had a vacation planned to Sorrento, Capri, and the Amalfi Coast for this summer. We were so looking forward to revisiting some of our fav sites, plus new adventures like going to the stunning Blue Grotto and visiting Pompeii for a fascinating history lesson, plus just soaking in the views from the cliffs of Sorrento. I hope we can reschedule this extra special vacation for another time.
Thanks for reading! Stay tuned for the next stop in our European Adventure, Florence!
Disney Cruise Line released their Fall 2021 itineraries last week! We love to see where they're going and when; we especially love the Fall itinerary announcement because it includes all the dates for the Halloween on the High Seas and Very Merrytime Cruises! There's no better way to celebrate these holidays than onboard.
Booking a Disney Cruise is a bit different from booking a traditional cruise. Itineraries become available to book this week based on your Castaway Club status with Disney Cruise Line:
Disney Cruise Line prices increase as the ship fills so historically you can lock in the lowest price on opening day. Of course, their deposit policy is flexible. The deposit is 20% of the total cruise fare, and the deposit is entirely refundable up until final payment is due.
In fall 2021, Disney Cruise Line will return to favorite destinations on a variety of itineraries, including sailings to the Caribbean, the Bahamas, Mexico, Bermuda and Canada. Here are a few itineraries that caught our eye:
*Celebrate New Year's onboard the Disney Fantasy, sailing a 7-night Eastern Caribbean itinerary on December 26, 2021
*Looking to experience a Disney Cruise for the first time? We recommend the 4-night Bahamian itineraries on the Disney Dream, sailing four times per month
*Castaway Cay fans, rejoice! A 5-night Bahamian itinerary with TWO stops at Castaway Cay sails on November 6, 2021 on the Disney Fantasy
*Northeast friends, the Disney Magic will be sailing from New York again in September 2021! There are a handful of 5-night Bermuda sailings and only one 6-night Canadian sailing on October 24, 2021.
*If you really love your sea days, the Disney Magic sails an 11-night Westbound Transatlantic itinerary from Dover, England on September 18, 2021 with two stops in Spain and one in Bermuda.
There are dozens more itineraries, we'd be happy to chat with you about all of them! Don't forget, most sailings in September and October feature a Halloween on the High Seas celebration while most sailings in November and December feature a Merrytime celebration. It's a fun way to celebrate Halloween and the holiday season with Mickey, Minnie and the entire Disney Cruise Line family.
Click here to get started planning your next Disney Cruise Line vacation!
While we are all yearning to travel again, I’d like to share one of my family’s most memorable vacations to locations we can’t wait to return to someday!
That evening, we visited the Spanish Village, enjoyed another outdoor cafe for a quick bite and took in a spectacular Flamenco show. The cafe gave us just a small taste of the delicious cuisine that was in store on this trip, with traditional patatas bravas, pan con tomate, and the first of numerous glasses of sangria. The show was a feast for the eyes- I never realized how meaningful and moving dance can be. Even my children were captivated by the show!
health and safety measures:
theme parks and experiences:
Walt Disney World will begin a phased re-opening on July 11, 2020 with Magic Kingdom and Disney's Animal Kingdom theme parks.
Epcot and Disney's Hollywood Studios will join them a few days later, on July 15, 2020. Select audiences, including Cast Members, may get previews prior to the scheduled opening. Disney Springs is currently in a phased re-opening, with many retail and dining locations already open.
Amenities and Services:
The following will be temporarily unavailable:
The following special offerings and childcare services will not be available during the initial reopening:
In order to visit any Walt Disney World Resort, you must have a confirmed room reservation for your stay or a confirmed dining reservation, if you are not staying overnight.
During the re-opening of Walt Disney World Resort, many dining experiences will be modified or unavailable in order to promote cleanliness and physical distancing:
We understand that there are a lot of updates being made and we are here to help our clients navigate through them. Stay tuned for more updates from Walt Disney World!
Exciting news! Universal Orlando Resort will open select Universal Hotels beginning June 2nd! Guests staying in Universal's resort hotels June 2nd – June 4th with a valid park ticket will be invited to visit to the theme parks on June 3rd and 4th, prior to our public reopening on June 5th.
Here are some of the most popular Frequently Asked Questions that Universal answered for us:
1. Which hotels are reopening on June 2?
The phased reopening of the hotels will include Hard Rock Hotel, Loews Royal Pacific Resort, Loews Sapphire Falls Resort, Universal’s Cabana Bay Beach Resort, Universal’s Aventura Hotel and Universal’s Endless Summer Resort – Surfside Inn and Suites. Plans for Loews Portofino Bay Hotel and Universal’s Endless Summer Resort – Dockside Inn and Suites will be announced at a later time.
2. What specific guidelines are the hotels implementing?
Universal Orlando’s resort hotels have enhanced its standards and protocols throughout its operations. These enhancements, which are subject to change as guidance from health and government officials is updated, currently include:
3. Why are hotels opening before the theme parks?
Select hotels are opening a day prior to Universal Orlando’s parks to give guests the opportunity to check-in and get settled before visiting the theme parks and taking advantage of Early Park Admission. Guests arriving on June 2 will not be able to enter the parks until June 3.
4. Will hotel guests have to purchase tickets to visit the parks on June 3 and 4?
Hotel guests must have valid theme park admission in order to access the theme parks on June 3 and 4. Guests can visit the Vacation Planning desk in their hotel to pick-up tickets.
5. What if a hotel guest registers a temperature of 100.4 degrees or greater?
If a guest registers a temperature of 100.4 degrees or greater upon check-in, they will not be allowed to check-in until they receive medical clearance to do so. The rest of the guest’s party will be allowed to check in. We understand some guests may feel they have special conditions, which we will consider upon request.
If a guest registers a temperature of 100.4 degrees or greater anytime following the check-in screening, they are required to self-quarantine and seek medical attention. The hotel will follow medical professional’s recommendations as to whether the guest can safely remain on hotel property. An additional guest room may be provided for other members of their party and they will still be able to move about the resort as they continue to successfully undergo temperature screenings.
6. Will hotel amenities and dining locations be affected by these changes?
The availability of food service, pools, fitness centers and other amenities may be limited due to increased frequency of cleaning and sanitization or to comply with the latest guidelines and recommendations. Guests should check with the front desk for more details.
7. Will I still receive hotel benefits like Universal Express if staying at a Premier hotel?
Yes, guests who stay at Hard Rock Hotel and Loews Royal Pacific Resort will receive Universal Express access to select attractions as well as their other hotel benefits.
8. Will Universal Express be available when the theme parks reopen?
Universal Express will be available for purchase for theme park visits beginning June 8th. Hotel guests staying at Hard Rock Hotel and Loews Royal Pacific Resort will be also able to take advantage of their Universal Express access benefit on any day of their visit.
9. Is Early Park Admission still valid for hotel guests?
Yes, all hotel guests can take advantage of Early Park Admission as well as other hotel benefits during their visit. Currently, Early Park Admission is scheduled for 8:00 – 9:00 am at Universal Studios Florida and 9:30 – 10:00 am at Universal’s Volcano Bay.
10. How will resort transportation be affected?
Guests can still utilize water taxi and resort shuttle transportation to visit Universal CityWalk and the theme parks. Face coverings will be required for all guests using resort transportation. We will limit capacity on all shuttles and water taxis so wait times may be impacted. We will also increase our already-aggressive cleaning and disinfecting procedures on all forms of resort transportation.
11. Will hotel guests be turned away if the theme parks reach capacity?
We account for hotel guests when setting our capacity limits and they will not be impacted if the theme parks reach capacity.
12. What if I’m visiting the hotels from out-of-state?
Visitors from New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Louisiana and international markets should be aware of and comply with government guidelines regarding travel restrictions and mandatory quarantines before visiting our destination.
Walt Disney World shared important updates last night that we wanted to share with you. Things are changing every day but this does give a more clear picture of what a Walt Disney World vacation will look like upon reopening.
We understand how much excitement, thought and time goes into planning a Disney vacation, and we realize some of these changes may be disappointing. However, we are confident that the magic will still be alive in Walt Disney World and we look forward to the parks reopening.
Here is a graphic from Walt Disney World with more specifics for your reference:
It's official! Walt Disney World will begin a phased re-opening on July 11, 2020 with Magic Kingdom and Disney's Animal Kingdom. A few days later, Epcot and Disney's Hollywood Studios will join them in opening on July 15, 2020. Select audiences, including Cast Members, will get previews prior to the scheduled opening.
We didn't get a lot of details during today's Orange County Economic Recovery Task Force Meeting but we did get a great overview of their plans to implement new health and safety protocols in their theme parks. Walt Disney World will start implementing a pre-arrival theme park reservation system to help manage significantly reduced capacity in their parks, restaurants, and stores. Capacity will also be reduced on attractions and on all modes of transportation.
Additional health and safety protocols include mandatory face coverings, a social distancing squad, more sanitization and hand-washing stations, temperature checks upon entry and other enhancements that will limit person-to-person contact. These enhancements include encouraging a cashless environment, increased mobile food ordering options, and the temporary pause of character meets, parades, fireworks and other events that create crowds. Play areas, like playgrounds, water effects, etc. will also be temporarily suspended.
Guests who plan to visit Walt Disney World will receive numerous 'Know Before You Go' communications to ensure only healthy, prepared guests are visiting the parks. There will be ample signage throughout the park, as well as Cast Members positively encouraging guests to comply with these protocols.
At this time, we have no update about Walt Disney World Resort hotels reopening. We hope to learn more in the days and weeks ahead, and we'll continue to share updates here.
UPDATE FROM THE DISNEY PARKS BLOG: Additionally, Disney Vacation Club resorts at Walt Disney World will reopen to members and guests and Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground will begin to reopen on June 22. Disney Vacation Club resorts in Vero Beach, Florida, and Hilton Head, South Carolina, will also open to members and guests starting on June 15. Plans to support required physical distancing as well as enhanced cleaning measures, along with a number of other safety and cleanliness protocols, will be implemented as part of this planned phased reopening.
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The following article was written and released by Disney Destinations on May 22nd:
PLANNING YOUR DISNEY PARKS VACATION
Released by Disney Destinations
"It’s an understatement to say that the past few months have been a challenging time for us all. As we navigate the longest park closures in our histories, we’ve loved hearing your kind words of hope and seeing how you’ve made your own Disney memories at home has uplifted and inspired us all.
During this time, we know it can be difficult to plan your Disney vacation. Now more than ever we’re longing for the opportunity to come together with family and friends to escape, to celebrate, to re-do missed milestones, like birthdays and anniversaries and to make new Disney memories.
Given the current uncertainty as to when we will reopen Disneyland Resort or Walt Disney World Resort, we’ve had to periodically adjust the schedule for the ability to book hotel reservations at our resorts. While we’re currently accepting reservations starting in July 2020 at both resorts, as this situation evolves, timing may continue to shift.
As we continue to follow guidance from government and health care officials regarding how we’ll be able to reopen our parks and resorts in a responsible way, we may also need to make real-time adjustments to booked experiences, park tickets and park passes.
Please know that if any reservations you may have made need to change, we will work with you to make the necessary modifications.
If you haven’t already, we encourage you to check out the recent blog post from our Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Pamela Hymel, on how we’re planning for re-opening our parks and resorts.
Our focus remains on the safety of the entire Disney community. Be sure to keep checking our websites for more details, and stay tuned for more information.
We appreciate your understanding and patience as we navigate this unprecedented time together. We continue to be moved by the incredible support and passion our guests have shown for our Disney family, and we hope to see you real soon."