One Day Not Enough To Celebrate Independence Day? Take A Week

tsuacctnt/Flickr

Coming up in less than a month, America celebrates its Independence Day as fireworks light up the sky at events around the country. This year, the Fourth of July falls on a Thursday. That might mean an extra day off work for some, returning on Friday to end the week. Others might be in for an extra long, four-day weekend with plenty of time for travel.

Regardless of how your holiday schedule works out, one day might not be enough celebration. Plan a visit to Florida’s Walt Disney World Resort to the east or Disneyland Resort to the west. Both will be celebrating the Fourth of July for an entire week, starting July 1, 2013, during what Disney calls Limited Time Magic.

Said to “surprise and delight Guests in fanciful and unexpected ways,” Limited Time Magic events happen “only at certain times of the year,” says the Disney Parks blog. Between now and June 23, Disney wishes “ears to you” as graduates are invited to buy a mortar board Ear Hat at the Magic Kingdom park, then choose from five different tassels representing their school colors.During the Independence Week Celebration from July 1 to July 7, 2013, a fireworks spectacular will happen at 9 p.m. on July 3 and 4, and 10 p.m. on July 1, 2, 5, 6 and 7 at Walt Disney World and 9:30 p.m. each night at Disneyland. At either park, Disney chefs will have Independence Day-themed cuisine including red, white and blue strawberry shortcake or desserts in Mason Jars, apple pie-filled cupcakes and patriotic cotton candy.

Other Limited Time Magic events include a sneak peek at “The Lone Ranger,” a “Monsters University” homecoming celebration and other Monstrous Summer events.

Can’t make it but want to see those Disney fireworks? They might look something like these:



A stay at home 4th in order this year? Check Gadling’s Best Independence Day Travel Movies Of All Time.

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]

Disney World Immersive Expansion Opens This Week

Disney WorldFlorida’s Walt Disney World is about to open a new, re-imagined Fantasyland. The iconic park had been in operation for years to the thrill of vacationers of all ages and needed a facelift. More than a fresh coat of paint and upgraded technology, Disney is adding a popular immersive element to the experience.

“The Magic Kingdom is the iconic place at Walt Disney World and Fantasyland is the favorite land,” said Meg Crofton, president of Walt Disney Parks & Resorts in the U.S. and France in a Fox News report. “It’s the heart of the Magic Kingdom and we’re absolutely doubling the size of it, so I think that’s major in our guests’ minds.”


New Fantasyland has had some attractions up and running for weeks during a soft opening where cast members test their operation. Along the way, those experiencing new features and attractions have been engaged and drawn into each correlating story, every step of the way.

Enchanted Tales With Belle
A new attraction, Enchanted Tales with Belle, is an interactive experience (as opposed to a “ride”) that begins with an enchanted mirror transporting guests from Belle’s house to Beast’s library where Belle and Lumière invite guests to become part of a lively retelling of the “tale as old as time.”

Unique here is that groups are small and many are invited to participate in the experience that brings guests up close and personal with live action characters from “Beauty and the Beast.” This is not a passive, sit-around-and-watch attraction.Disney WorldUnder the Sea~Journey of the Little Mermaid
Also new is the musical attraction Under the Sea~Journey of the Little Mermaid where guests enter Prince Eric’s castle, board a giant clamshell and enjoy high-energy songs and effects that take them inside scenes from the animated Disney film “The Little Mermaid.”

Similar to Haunted Mansion in Disney’s Hollywood Studios, the ride transports guests on clamshell-style vehicles using the Omnimover ride system introduced by Disney Imagineers in the 1960s. The ride takes guests through a series of scenes, first taking them to the bottom of the ocean, bringing us up to speed on Ariel’s journey from her father’s undersea kingdom then on to meeting Prince Eric.

Disney WorldBe Our Guest Restaurant
Cinderella’s Castle has some competition now with the opening of Beast’s Castle. In the middle of Beast’s Castle are three dining rooms that make up the new Be Our Guest Restaurant.

A West Wing features an enchanted rose, the Rose Gallery has twirling, larger-than-life figures of Belle and Beast and the Ballroom features an elegant domed ceiling, twinkling chandeliers and views of softly falling snow.

Inspired by Disney’s animated feature “Dumbo,” the Storybook Circus park within a park features a country fair feel with colorful big-top tents and attractions.

The Barnstormer takes the Great Goofini on a stunt plane ride high above Storybook Circus. As the story goes, Goofy has goofed his way into the role of a circus stunt pilot, The Great Goofini. In the tradition of classic air shows, The Great Goofini takes you away on a spiraling stunt plane adventure. Your twisting, turning, daredevil, roller coaster “flight” takes you high above the grounds of Storybook Circus in New Fantasyland.

A new Dumbo The Flying Elephant ride is twice the size of the old one and features a circus-themed play area offering recreation and relaxation for guests as they wait for their turn – with two rotating squadrons of airborne pachyderms! Inspired by the title character from the 1941 Disney animated motion picture, this popular attraction lets you fly with Dumbo.

Casey Jr. Splash ‘N’ Soak Station is a circus-themed water play area where guests can enjoy cooling refreshment and squirt each other. Interactive water features include Casey Jr., who lets off billows of cooling “steam” along with monkeys, elephants and camels that spray water.

disney worldPete’s Silly Sideshow is the place for guests to meet Disney circus stars who are excited to show off their special talents. Located inside one of the big-top tents, guests can meet Minnie Magnifique (Minnie Mouse as a circus performer), Madame Daisy Fortuna (Daisy Duck as a fortuneteller), The Great Goofini (Goofy as a daredevil stunt pilot) and The Astounding Donaldo (Donald Duck as a snake charmer).

Opening this week, that’s not the end of Fantasyland expansion. Doubling the size of the park, two other major attractions are underway, due to open in 2013 and 2014.

In the center of Fantasyland, Princess Fairytale Hall, opening in 2013, will feature walls of stone and stained glass windows opening into a large gallery where portraits of the Disney princesses cover the walls. Guests will move to elegantly finished rooms, meeting Disney princesses Aurora, Cinderella, Tiana and Rapunzel.

The Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, opening in 2014, will take guests on a musical coaster ride into a mine via a first-of-its-kind ride system with a train of vehicles that swing back and forth, based on the classic Disney film and animated figures of “Snow White and the Dwarfs.”

See more in this preview video:




[Photo Credit- Disney Parks and Resorts]


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]

What Does Disney’s Space Mountain Look Like With The Lights On?

Disney's Space MountainEver wondered what Disney’s famous Space Mountain roller coaster looks like when the lights are on? If so, you’re in luck because the video below was posted to The Disney Blog a few days back and it gives us all a behind-the-curtain look at one of the most iconic rides in all of the Disney parks.

The first Space Mountain opened at Magic Kingdom in Orlando, Florida, in 1975 and became an instant hit with visitors. The indoor coaster sends riders hurling through a series of sharp twists, turns and drops while remaining almost completely in the dark. That combination of speed and the tension of not knowing what would happen next has made it one of the top attractions in Disney parks ever since.

Rarely do guests in the park ever get to see what Space Mountain looks like when the lights are on, but in the video below riders on one of the park’s “Peoplemovers” passed by while the interior was completely illuminated. The result is a great look at the inner-workings of the ride, which still look impressive.