Memorial Day Travel Events Bring Discounts

Memorial DayAs Memorial Day approaches, travelers are taking advantage of some special offers and events exclusive to the three-day weekend that officially begins on Friday, May 24. Discounts, special offers and events this year are available at a number of locations around the United States as America remembers the men and women who died while serving in the United States Armed Forces.

Additionally, those in uniform have a variety of special discounts and offers.

Carnival Cruise Lines is offering a promotion that provides active and former military personnel with discounts of up to $600 per stateroom and shipboard credits of up to $100 per stateroom on a range of three- to 12-day sailings. Sister-line Princess cruises continues their Special Military Program, giving those who served up to $250 onboard credit on any sailing.

May is also National Military Appreciation Month and Florida’s Fantasy of Flight museum is offering complimentary admission to all active-duty, retired and reserve members of the U.S. Armed Forces when accompanied by a full-priced paid adult, senior or child general admission throughout the month of May.

Not a military member? There are still some Memorial Day promotions for you too.Disney is pulling an all-nighter with the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World in Florida and at Disneyland and Disney’s California Adventure. The parks open from 6 a.m. May 24 to 6 a.m. May 25, to kick off the summer season. The parks will also have extra entertainment, live bands and characters in their pajamas.

On the West Coast, California’s Mammoth Mountain ski area has a Memorial Day $99 package to ski or ride, mountain bike and golf all in one day. The Ski-Bike-Golf Challenge allows unlimited skiing, snowboarding, and access to the bike park along with nine holes of golf at the resort’s Sierra Star course.

Also in California, the West Coast Thunder Bike Run in Riverside, the largest single-day motorcycle event west of the Mississippi, hosts nearly 7,000 motorcycle enthusiasts. Proceeds from the ride registration and concert tickets benefit the Riverside National Cemetery Support Committee and the event also includes a Military Appreciation Fair on Sunday, May 26.

Nothing at all planned yet for Memorial Day weekend? Now might be the time to do that.

According to Travelocity’s Memorial Day booking data, domestic airfare is down 2 percent year-over-year with the average cost at $341, six dollars less than it was in 2012. That might not sound like much but recent years have all seen increases in the price of airfare.

Even Amtrak is getting in the Memorial Day spirit, saving northeast regional rail travelers 25 percent when they book by May 10, 2013, for Memorial Day travel.

[Photo credit – Flickr member Fritz Liess]

Disneyland Princesses Get Their Own, New Land

disneyland

Disneyland Park in California will debut Fantasy Faire in March, a new interactive experience that gives guests a more personal experience with all the Disney princesses, all in one place. A natural expansion of Disneyland’s Fantasyland, the addition has Disney princess fans excited for the March 12, opening, now less than a month away. Like sister-park Disney World in Florida, a big emphasis is on getting park guests involved in the story, rather than sitting by passively, listening (or not) to a story being told.

Located next to Disneyland’s existing Fantasyland and Sleeping Beauty Castle, new half-acre Fantasy Faire will be an enchanting, immersive environment with fairy-tale buildings placed around a main square. Individual elements of Fantasy Faire have guests informally cast in roles, making for a more memorable experience. It’s a dream come true for princess fans that will now find all the Disney princesses in one place.

%Gallery-178418%Royal Hall is the main attraction where three princesses will be on hand to meet, greet and pose for photos by Disney photographers; guests can also take their own pictures. Separated into three different rooms, groups of guests are small allowing for more interaction.

The Royale Theatre is an outdoor audience participation venue doing six, 15- to 20-minute shows a day. The premise is a live action vaudeville-like show where Mr. Smythe and Mr. Jones along with Rapunzel and Belle tell the stories of “Tangled” and “Beauty and the Beast” in a fun way with music and dance. Guest have a role here too, sneering at villains and cheering the good guys. After the show, stars of the show mingle with the crowd too.

Fairy Tale Treasures will be selling princess dresses and other merchandise.

Maurice’s Treats a food cart resembling the gypsy wagon owned by Belle’s father, which sells bread twists (cheese, chocolate, strawberry and almond cream) and the Boysen Apple Freeze, a slushy drink that looks suspiciously like the grog-like beverage we tried at Disney World in new Fantasyland.

Look for plenty of Disney’s signature attention to detail too.

Fantasy Faire takes the space formerly used for the Carnation Plaza Gardens. Not to let that venue be forgotten, a special crest is being put above one of the ornate doorways in the Fantasy Faire area with the initials C, P and G for Carnation Plaza Gardens and a carnation flower carved underneath.

Here’s more on Fantasy Faire in a video update:



[Photo Credit- Disney Parks]

Member Of Secret Disneyland Club Tells All


A member of Disneyland’s most exclusive club has been opening up to inquiring minds on Reddit, a social news website. The anonymous user has been defending the club’s $35,000 per year price tag, and also dished about dining with celebrities like Jack Nicholson and Tom Hanks.

The user introduced himself by saying he has been member of Club 33, a secret feature of Disneyland located in the heart of the New Orleans Square, for more than 10 years – and that the membership has been with his family for more than 30 years. The private club was opened in the 1960s, and the waiting list for membership is rumored to be 14 years.

Describing the scene, the member noted that celebrities can often be spotted at the club. “I’ve spoken to Jack Nicholson and Tom Hanks one on one while in the club,” he noted, adding that he tends to try and give celebrities their space.

He said a membership covers up to four family members. Besides access to the club, benefits include valet parking on a private lot, automatic upgrades at Disney properties, reserved seating at shows, a private car on the Disneyland Railroad, behind the scenes tours, immediate fast passes, invitations to special events and the ability to make reservations for friends and family members.

A former Disney Imagineer who was unable to access Club 33 asked if there were any of Walt Disney’s trademark gags inside. The member explained that there is an animatronic vulture in the Trophy Room, one of two dining rooms inside the club. He also noted Disney put an elevator that comes up from an underground garage so VIPs could be ushered in and out of New Orleans Square quickly and easily.

According to Wikipedia, the elevator is an exact replica of one Disney saw during a vacation in Paris. The owner of the original refused to sell, so Disney sent a team of engineers to the Parisian hotel to take measurements and a sample of the original finish for an exact replica.

Most of the people leaving comments on Reddit questioned whether or not the membership to the club was worth it. The member seemed undecided on the matter, pointing out that he mainly keeps his membership because it is a family tradition.

“While I make good money, I consciously pay the dues each year from some inheritance that was left to me by my parents,” he said. He also explained that dinner at the club comes at a cost of around $150 (without alcohol), and he only took advantage of his membership four times last year.

“If you’re a big Disney fan and want to enjoy 33 once, the price is worth the experience and memory,” he said, but he also pointed out that the best experiences he’s had because of the membership took place outside of the club.

The member also explained that Disneyland as a whole seems a little less magical than it was in years past.

“The attention to detail is fading quickly in the park,” he wrote, adding that maintenance and repair is also slipping. “[Twenty] years ago, something would be repaired the next day if the part was handy. Now things go for weeks before [they’re] replaced. If you ever meet an original Disney employee, ask them how often they saw a light bulb out.”

The member also offered a surprising tool for those looking to get into Club 33: Craigslist.

“Some members, especially the corporate ones, have been known to charge a hefty price tag to take guests,” he explained. “Alternatively, if you know any executives in the big well known brands in the [United States], ask them. Fewer and fewer corporate accounts are joining, but I’d have to assume it’s still the majority of the reservations.”

[Photo Credit: Creative Commons]

Insider Secrets No Secret To Disney World Cast Members

insider secret castle

Frankly, the best insider secret on how to get the most out of a visit to Walt Disney World is to go with a Disney cast member. They know exactly where to be at any given time for no wait on the best rides. They know what venues have the best food and, if something special is going on, when to be where for that. If a Disney cast member in your back pocket is not in the cards, Disney Insider offers the next best thing.

“Comfy sneakers, sunscreen, and jackets (for chilly nights) are must-haves, but before heading to Disneyland and Walt Disney World Resorts, you can learn the ropes from experienced Theme Park-goers – especially for first-time visits,” says Disney Insider and their tips ring true.

Giving details on what time of the day to go (afternoon on the weekends) and even which months are best to avoid crowds (October), Disney Insider tells how to get the most out of Extra Magic Hours, Disney’s FastPass service and more.Offering tips on everything from where to find recipes for Disney Gumbo, Mint Juleps or Walt’s Favorite Chili to what time is best to gather for Character Meet and Greets, Disney Insider is available by email subscription, RSS feed and Facebook.

Helping make the most of every magical moment, Disney Insider has the most current information. Almost as current as having a Disney cast member along for the ride.

Did you know that pin collectors can trade with any cast member as long as they don’t already have the same pin? See this new video for more:




Flickr photo by Christian Lambert (DVCphoto92)

Magic Kingdom Worker Gives Candid Interview About Crazy Guests And Working For Disney

magic kingdom During an IAmA (I am a…) discussion on Reddit, a turnstile and parade audience control worker for the Magic Kingdom at Disney World allowed people to ask uncensored questions about crazy guests and what it’s like to work at Disney. Read below to learn what happens when adults act like children, who the worst guests are and which cast members are the most difficult to work with.

Note: These questions were culled from the Reddit community, and the dialogue was taken verbatim. To view the original thread, click here.

What’s the weirdest thing you’ve ever seen?

That’s really tough, if only because of the sheer volume of incredibly weird people I see. Just the other day there was a pair of fully-grown adults dressed up as Peter Pan and slutty Tinker Bell (it was a child’s costume) who thought it was appropriate and that us not letting them in dressed like that was “ruining the magic for them.” (Adults in costume is against policy anyways, much less when it’s something crazy like that.)

Also, a few weeks ago during the daily flag retreat, right before the band started playing, and all of the background music was off so it was deathly quiet, a lady with Tourette’s walked right through town square shouting obscenities, at first we thought we were gonna have to break up a fight (wouldn’t be the first time), but it was just incredibly awkward.Has anyone ever been so large that they don’t fit through the turnstiles?

Yes. We have gates on either side of the turnstile pairs for strollers and wheelchairs though, so they go through those. Anyone that large is probably going to be wheelchair bound anyways, however.

How much fun is working for Disney?

I really, really enjoy it. There’s some crap, but there’s gonna be that at any job. More often than not, my interactions with guests leave a huge smile on my face. It’s just an experience you can’t get at any other job.

How happy are you required to be?

They like us to smile all the time. Which really isn’t as hard as it sounds.

Do you personally like Disney? Are you a fan, or can you not watch anything Disney because it’s “work”? How many famous people have you seen come through the front gates?

I’m a huge Disney fan. More so since I started working. Famous people don’t usually come through the front gates. I saw a lot when I worked at Toy Story though, especially during ESPN the weekend.

What’s your happiest memory from working at the happiest place on earth?

Oh god, just too many to count. After the parade a couple weeks ago a little girl riding on her moms shoulders walking next to me asked if it was possible to go into the castle. I told her yes and she yelled, “I love you!” and gave me a hug. Things like that happen weekly. It’s awesome.

Does it get annoying hearing the same happy-go-lucky music all day?

Yes and No. It kinda varies. You will catch me singing to it ALL the time.

As someone who I assume can ride/do anything at the park on their day off, what is the best/your favorite attraction? What is the most overrated?

I’m a little biased, but I LOVE Toy Story. It helps that I know how to activate all the secrets. Overrated? Peter Pan’s flight. Not worth the ridiculous wait at all.

Can you please elaborate, what secrets in that ride?

Each game has a “secret” you can activate through doing certain things, look up a guide.

What is the ultimate job(s) within a Disney park? The one(s) that people aspire to get assigned. Do these better jobs just come with experience/ seniority, or is it “political”?

It all depends on your personality. I can transfer to almost any of the entry-level areas, any attraction, any merch, food, etc. Serving, you have to work your way up to the nicer restaurants. A very large amount of cast want to be in entertainment, especially face. Unfortunately, most people don’t fit any character. Other than that, things like moving up in management is almost completely internal, based mainly on your record and experience.

Is it true that Disney provides company underwear for the costumed characters?

Not for years. I’ve read the article, I think that was in 2001 they stopped.

Have you ever had to kick someone out of the park before? How big of a sh*t storm did he throw?

I personally have never had to kick someone out, it doesn’t happen as much at MK as it does at the other parks because there’s no alcohol here. We get people whose tickets are invalid/resold who we can’t let in all the time though, and those people are generally very, very problematic.

Craigslist tickets: am I going to get in with them?

No. Not if you bring them to me, at least. Biometrics work!

Are there certain types of cast members that you or your co-workers think are total jerks?

Total jerks? Nah. If you’re the kind of person who wants to work at Disney, you’re probably a nice person. Some of the older people who work mornings can be crabby, but that’s about it.

Do the cast appreciate how fruitless the half-hearted bag “searches” are at the gate? Is it really just for “optics”? Just checking the main pocket of backpacks really doesn’t stop anyone from bringing a prohibited item into the park.

You’d actually be surprised how much stuff gets caught. They catch a ton of alcohol and knives.

What would be your top tip for guests … something you think is great about Disney World that fewest guests discover?

Master Fastpasses. Go during offseasons. ALWAYS GO TO THE 11 O’CLOCK PARADE. It’s the same as the 9 o’clock one and infinitely less crowded.

I knew someone who worked crowd control for Fantasmic at Disneyland and she would routinely be cursed at, screamed at, physically threatened, and often spit on and pushed. What’s the worst similar story of abuse by a guest that you’ve witnessed or experienced?

I’ve been relatively lucky when it comes to dealing with people. You’ll always get upset people, but I’ve never specifically had a terrible problem. I’ve seen it happen though.

Can you find all the hidden mickeys?

Oh god no. I know where a lot of them are, but certainly not all.

How does the park get cleared out at night?

It’s a pretty thorough process – areas close down back to front, getting full sweeps and then blocking people from going further back in until everything is completely closed. Also, you have to know that there’s custodial and engineering there all night – it’s not like everyone just leaves after a certain time.

is it true that the park releases cats out into the ground to catch any rats?

That happened at Disneyland after it first opened.

Do you ever have to turn people away who are dressed like princesses? …I know my gf was slightly disappointed when we went to Disneyland (her first time) and knew about the no adults in costumes or garb rule.

A couple times. Earlier this week we had an adult Peter Pan and Tinker Bell, with the Tinker Bell being INCREDIBLY inappropriate. She was 40-something, heavyset, and it was clearly a child’s costume. Needless to say, it didn’t fit well. We get a lot of Jack Sparrows as well.

Was it these people: http://www.upi.com/Odd_News/2012/06/05/Tinkerbell-teen-told-to-change-at-Disney/UPI-85141338922748/?

(no reply)

When are you the busiest? Also, when giant groups come in (schools, tour groups, etc.) are they usually a problem? I came with my school band in April-ish, and I am surprised no one was arrested.

Yesterday [July 4]! Brazilian tour groups are the worst thing on the planet. That is all.

What’s the most outrageous thing you’ve overheard a parent tell their child or better yet, a child tell their parent?

Well, you’ll get the parents you wanna just smack for ruining the magic “I wanna meet mickey!” “NO YOU DON’T HES JUST A GUY IN A SUIT!” kids face drops as his world crumbles around him
I’ve had parents tell their child that I hate them and that’s why I won’t let them stand in the middle of the sidewalk blocking foot traffic during a parade.
It’s hard to pinpoint outrageous from a child because, hey, we’re at Disney and most of the crazy nonsense you get from them just kinda fits. Also, in general, kids tend to be better behaved overall at Disney than other places they go. It’s just the atmosphere. You’ll get the average spoiled kid occasionally, but I’ve never seen one so crazy it blows my mind.

I am a cheapskate at heart, so I want to think that Disney is over priced, but every time I go to any Disney park, I am blown away by how professional and courteous almost every cast member is. This is in spite of hot or cold weather, nice or nasty guests, etc. I always leave thinking it was totally worth it. What kind of training do you get in customer service?

We spend an entire day doing a “Traditions” class that teaches us what’s expected. Working here, you really feel like part of a legacy, and you don’t wanna be the one who ruins it. So basically, it comes naturally.

Are the people who play the princess’/princes stuck up? I mean in my head when I see pictures of them I just can’t believe the are all nice and sweet like the portray.

Yes. A large number of them have a “better than thou” attitude. Some are very nice though.

Do the stuck up princesses stay around?

You’re only young and pretty for so long.

[image via ross_hawkes]