Goodbye Joe!  He’s Off to the Disney College Program

Joseph was mighty stealthy about making his application to the Spring 2018 Disney College Program.  He’s well aware of how many apply (tens of thousands) and how few are chosen.  I know he didn’t want to get everyone’s hopes up in case this wasn’t meant to be.  This time in Joseph’s life was years in the making and we’re proud and excited that he’s seeing a long-term dream come true.

Goodbye Joe!  He’s Off to the Disney College Program

Acceptance to the Disney College Program involves a three-step process:  Online application, Web-based Interview, and finally a telephone interview.  We didn’t find out Joseph had even applied until his telephone interview was scheduled.  By then his excitement was high…as were his nerves.  He’d made it to the final stage!  His concern was that unlike face-to-face meetings where you can appear confident, make eye contact, and gage the interviewer’s reactions via body language and facial expression – telephone interviews are tough!  So much to convey with just the sound of your voice.Disney Simba Magic Shot

The big day came and Joseph did his best to express the reasons he feels he’s a good match for the College Program.  Aside from describing himself as a dedicated hard-worker, he wanted the interviewer to know his history with Disney.  He’d grown up vacationing in the Disney Bubble and understands all too well the crucial impact Disney Cast Members have on guest experiences.  He would love the opportunity to pay it forward by helping to make Disney Magic for other families.

When he got the email that he’d been accepted to the Disney College Program he was absolutely delighted.  And so were we.  While I’ve tried my best to be hands-off through the process of filling out online paperwork, requesting housing, preparing to move over 800 miles from home…it hasn’t been easy.  I’d say I’ve (mostly) been successful.  Joe might disagree.  I should get bonus parenting points for trying this hard!

Luckily, for both College Program participants and their parents, there are helpful Facebook groups to join that can be great resources.  As one would expect, they can also be full of drama at times as separation anxiety strikes all parties involved.  The benefits are worth being witness to a few uncomfortable virtual meltdowns.WDW Mickey Pretzel

If we’ve learned anything so far it’s this:  For every person who was accepted to one of these coveted positions, there are hundreds who were not.  If you are interested in the Disney College Program, please understand that roles are assigned rather than chosen and most have nothing to do with prior work experience or personal preference.  While working in a custodial position or in a parking lot or an Auto Plaza booth or in food service or in a gift shop might not sound like glamorous positions, remember how many other people would have loved to be there!  There are many blogs and vlogs out there by Disney College Program participants who enjoyed every minute of their program experience in one of the roles I mentioned.Meg and Joe at Disney's Hollywood Studios

Now…Joseph’s off on a new Disney adventure and we can’t wait to see how it goes!  If you have any questions about the application process or what comes next, Joseph and I will do our best to help!

Here’s a picture of Joseph just this morning as he masters the “Disney Look”!

The Right Way to Tour Epcot’s World Showcase

Hang around with enough fellow Disney fans and you’re bound to notice one hotly debated topic:  Which way is the right way to circle World Showcase?  One camp swears by the Mexico Pavilion route as the only acceptable way to go (Looking at YOU, Nick Maglio).  The other camp adamantly believes the only way to kick off a World Showcase visit is to begin in Canada (Hello, Dave Hodges!).  Of course, I have my own opinion (no big surprise, right?) and I’m certain my way is best.  (Want in-depth arguing on this topic?  Listen to The Disney Exchange!)

The Right Way to Tour Epcot’s World Showcase

The answer is simple.  Enter World Showcase wherever you like!  Our plan is always to go towards whatever is first on our agenda if we have one.  If we’re there simply to wander (a favorite family activity), we go to the side that appears to be less crowded at that particular moment.Gran Fiesta Tour / Mexico Pavilion / Epcot's World Showcase

If there for the rides, we enter on the Mexico side and hit the Gran Fiesta Tour on our way to Frozen Ever After in Norway.  When looking for a bite to eat, the direction we take is solely based on whatever we’re craving at the moment.  In search of a cold beverage, we’re headed to the Canada side to make our way to the UK Pavilion for an Innes & Gunn (Scotland’s finest beer, IMHO).  See how this works?

On of the very best and most charming aspects of World Showcase is that it can be completely different from one visit to the next.  Seasonal festivals, holiday decorations and special events, and slower times of the year – all game changers.

For example:  During Epcot’s International Food and Wine Festival, the World Showcase can be packed!  Between guests and the extra food booths and kiosks, it has a certain party atmosphere unlike other time of the year.  If we’re there for attractions or visiting particular pavilions to shop, we go at park opening.  If we’re there for the food, we prefer to be in and out by late afternoon.

When there are no special events, World Showcase begs to be explored at a leisurely pace.  This is when we love to visit every pavilion and stop here and there to speak to Cast Members or watch a performance unique to a particular country.  Drummers in Japan, acrobats in China, Mariachi band in Mexico, performers in Italy and France – we’ll take in whatever happens to be going on at the moment.  Of course, there are always snacks and drinks to try!

Don’t fall for the arguments!  There is no one correct way to tour World Showcase – no matter where you start, there are amazing sights, sounds, and flavors to explore.

What’s your World Showcase touring strategy? 

 

 

Walt Disney World Safety Tips

Nobody expects something bad to happen to them on vacation.  Thinking about safety while visiting Walt Disney World seems pretty un-magical, but it’s a priority if we all want the happiest of vacation memories.  I’ve compiled a list based on recent news items and my own family’s experiences.  For your consideration…

Walt Disney World Safety Tips

Minimize the Risk of TheftWalt Disney World Summer Crowd

Consider renting a stroller.  It’s sad, but true, there are thieves among us – even on a Disney vacation.  This recent incident is an excellent example of a repeat offender hard at work.  While she finally got caught, she’d apparently been stealing for a while and making off with high-end goods including at least one expensive stroller.  Leave your fancy wheels at home and choose among the many rental options in Orlando.  You may also want to consider investing in a stroller lock (like this one).

Secure your valuables (or leave them at home).  If you’re staying on Disney property, your resort will offer an in-room safe.  Use it to store everything of value you won’t be carrying in the parks.  Laptops (small ones fit in most safes), tablets, cell phones, credit cards, passports, extra cash, etc. will all be safely tucked away while you’re out having fun in the parks.

Carry a good park bag.  For the important things you need with you while enjoying the parks, a good bag is key.  It needs to be as small and comfortable as possible but still include every necessity.  Never leave your park bag (or anything of value) unattended or in a stroller or on a scooter or wheel chair.  There are designated parking areas for strollers, but that doesn’t mean a guard is watching your stuff.

Watch your snacks!  It’s entertaining to watch resourceful squirrels and birds raid park guests’ snacks from a stroller, but it’s kind of gross (and disappointing) for the snacks’ owners, I’m sure.  There are lots of reasons Disney guests are asked not to feed the local wildlife.  It’s not healthy for the animals and it turns them into beggars and thieves.

Avoid Injury

Dehydration, sunburn, falls, sprains – all possibilities no matter where you vacation.  Sometimes the excitement of being at Walt Disney World causes people to become completely distracted.  With so much to see and do, so many magical sights all around, the Florida heat and sun can take a toll before you realize it.  Have a plan to make sure everyone gets plenty to drink (especially water) and use sunscreen generously and often.  Wear sensible shoes and keep your eyes open for potential hazards (like the trolley track on Main Street USA in Magic Kingdom).

Watch Out!  I’ve had strollers run into me on more than one occasion even when I was walking along with the crowd.  If I’d been paying more attention to my surroundings, I might have been able to get out of the way.  Maybe.  If you’ve been hit by a stroller, you know how suddenly and unexpectedly that impact can happen.  I guess my point here is there are lots of folks who don’t watch where they’re going…many of them are armed with wheeled weapons.  Beware!  Also, NOT stopping in the middle of a walkway is a good way to avoid collisions.

Germs are Everywhere!

I try not to think about the germs when I’m at Disney World, but it’s hard!  I’ve watched kids lick handrails, seen plenty of runny noses, dodged uncovered coughs and sneezes.  Let’s not even talk about bathroom stuff.  With huge crowds of people from all over the world, the odds of picking up a bug are high.  I have friends who catch a cold or the flu every time they travel.  To minimize the chances of getting sick, I recommend carrying both liquid hand sanitizer and sanitizing wipes.  At the very least, have everyone in your group wash their hands before eating.

Have a Plan for Getting Separated

In general, it’s a good idea to have a plan in place as you arrive at a park for when and where you will meet if you split up either accidentally or on purpose.  I realize everyone these days has a cell phone and you can just call each other, but just in case…think ahead about what you’ll do.  If the worst happens, you should know this:  If Cast Members cannot find the parents of a lost child immediately, they escort the child to a certain “lost child” area in the park. Alert a cast member immediately if your child is missing – there’s an awesome system in place to help. If you’re not alone, have someone stay where the child was last seen while you go check at the lost child area.

There’s nothing like a Disney vacation.  Taking a few basic safety precautions is well worth the time and effort.  Everyone coming home safe and sound with only happy memories is the best!

What tips did I miss?  What’s your #1 safety tip for Walt Disney World?

In Magic Kingdom? Avoid the PeopleMover!

There’s been much too much love shared among Disney fans on social media, in blog posts, and on podcasts  for Tomorrowland’s PeopleMover attraction.  Way too much effusive praise.  I feel the need to warn you away.  Don’t listen to the hype, I say!  Why?  Well, if you’ve never ridden the PeopleMover, now’s not the time to try it.

In Magic Kingdom? Avoid the PeopleMover!

Let me give you the five best reasons to mark this attraction off your to-do list…

  1.  You’re afraid of heights.  You’re pretty high up on this ride – at times, on the very edge of the track even.  It’s straight down if something goes wrong.  Better not chance it.
  2. You like clean air.  You’d think that a birds-eye view of Magic Kingdom would be refreshing, right?  Nope!  The exhaust fumes from the Tomorrowland Speedway are toxic!  You’ll have a difficult time breathing, trust me.
  3. You’re a thrill ride junkie!  No thrills here.  PeopleMover is a total snooze-fest.  A boring, narrated, slow-moving tour of Tomorrowland’s sights and attractions.  You want thrills in this section of the park?  You’ll want Space Mountain or Stitch’s Great Escape, for sure.
  4. You (or any member of your party) are afraid of the dark.  Your ride vehicle will enter tunnels of complete and total darkness.  Like can’t-see-your-hand-in-front-of-your-face pitch blackness.  And not in a thrilling way.  It’s boring and uneventful…unless it’s your biggest fear, then it will be horrible.
  5. You want to be cool.  This ride is for dorks and geeks.  Cool kids do not ride the PeopleMover.  It’s the last place you’d ever want to be caught if you want people to think you’re worldly and hip.

So, if you’ve been here before you know that I’m always completely honest, right?  I give you my opinions in a straight forward, no-nonsense way and I can’t lie to you now.  I love the PeopleMover!  It’s the only must-do Tomorrowland attraction for me on every visit.  I’ve taught my entire family to appreciate and adore this wonderful ride as much as I do, but too many people have started to notice its awesomeness!

It’s getting too popular.  Where we used to walk on no matter the season or time of year, we’ve recently started to have to wait in line.  Sometimes for as long as 20 minutes!  I don’t like this development and want you to pass up PeopleMover so those of us who love it the most can have it to ourselves.  Am I asking too much?  I don’t think so.  Re-read the list of reasons to avoid the PeopleMover, take them to heart, and keep on walking, okay?  Please?

Holler if you love PeopleMover!!!!