When you think about Disney, you think the castle, Mickey, the theme parks, maybe even how expensive it all is, but do you think about philanthropy? I'm a firm believer that giving should be year round, and Walt was too.
Walt was very concerned with helping others to build a better world, and that attitude hasn't stopped, even though he is gone.
Did you know, last year Disney gave over 400 MILLION to non profit organizations that helped communities, kids and families! In addition to the financial gifts, they've done a lot of other really neat things to give to the communities. Disney has played a huge part in all of the hurricane disaster releif efforts in 2017, donating millions to that. They’ve also been longtime partners with Feeding America, and this year teamed up with a cosmetic line for Disney products where 100% of the proceeds go to Feeding America but that’s only the tip of the iceberg! Here are a few of my personal favorite things that Disney has done to help others!
In 2014, Disney illustrators designed comic books that also folded into posters to be delivered to almost 450 hospitals, and have kept up that annual tradition! This year's comic is going to be Guardians of the Galaxy! These comics are not just your usual comic you'll find on the comic store wall, but are specially designed just for these kids. Way to go, Disney! That's just awesome.
Click the photo below, to read the original article! At the end of the article, you can even read the digital comic, yourself.
Childhood literacy is so important to me, just ask Mr. Disney who just might tune me out when I get on my soapbox about school budget cuts, and reductions in products with Boxtops for Education that have make the school library suffer. While I don't do all of the fundraisers that come home, simply because we can't, I always, always do library fundraisers.
The importance of reading is so important to Disney too, they have donated over 34 MILLION books in 5 years. That's a lot of awesome stories out there for kids who might not otherwise get exposed to books. In this digital age, a lot is lost in translation without the feel of a real book, and the experience of turning the pages. I'm so excited Disney feels the same!
This next one makes me smile. You can click the photo below to read the article!
In November, Disney hosts the Holiday Share Joy Campaign. They partner with Feeding America, Toys for Tots, and their VolunteEARS do a day of community service, and make holiday comfort kits helping to make the holidays brighter for many children!
I learned, and was quite surprised (So yup, I'll be throwing this one around a lot this Christmas, all excited!) Disney's connection with Toys for Tots began in 1948, when Walt Disney and his animators designed the Toys for Tots logo, that is still in use today!! How amazing is that?! Maybe that's why that's always been my favorite charity to donate toys to, it was subconsciously sending those Disney vibes!
Mr. Disney Magic would be sad if I didn't mention Disney's Force For Change charity. The super, Star Wars themed fundtraiser, but Disney has done so many other amazing things for youth and adults, including recently supporting the opening of the New Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture, and partnering with the American Red Cross and Doc McStuffins herself, for the Pillowcase Project, preparing third through fifth graders for emergencies. I could go on and on, but I'm going to give you the main link so you can read some of these wonderful articles yourself so you too can be inspired to make a change in your community! It takes a village, but like Mother Teresa said, “If you can't feed a thousand people, feed one.” This year my goal was to loom knit 12 hats for our local Salvation Army seniors, but I'm feeling so inspired right now, I'm going to see if I can get that number a little higher! Let's all see if we can do just one thing this week to make things better for someone else!
For some reason, Disney doesn’t update everything they do on this particular website. I read many of the things that they do in their Disney Parks blog, so I’ve included a few of those links as well.
While there are many, many companies who give to their communities and disaster relief, I really think that Disney goes above and beyond, and in doing so, perfectly captures the way Walt would want it done.
This year, add a little of that Disney Magic to your holidays by helping someone. Grab a name or two off the Salvation Army tree, put a few toys in a shoebox, or the Toys for Tots bin that you see, and make someone experience the joy and warmth of knowing that they were remembered this Christmas.
New year, new Disney Dining Plan!! There have been a few changes, and it’s up to YOU to decide if the Disney Dining Plan is still the best for your family or not.
The price has gone up compared to in 2017, however there has been an addition that might make it more appealing for you. Keep reading!
Disney Dining Plans can be a little bit confusing if you've never used one before. If used wisely, the Dining Plans are a fantastic way to save a little or a lot on your trip, depending on what you eat or how much you drink, letting you add even more magic to your vacation!
Here's a basic overview about the Disney Dining Plan for 2018 to help you decide if the plan is right for you.
Disney World offers three dining plans for guests staying on property. The Quick Service Dining Plan, the Dining Plan, and the Deluxe Dining Plan. Each plan comes with a refillable souvenir mug that can be used at any resort during the length of your stay. Each restaurant will have a different theme, so it's often fun to try a new place each time.
The Quick Service Dining Plan is our favorite right now since we have small kids who don't want to sit still at a sit down restaurant for very long. This plan includes 2 meals per day, consisting of an entree and it's included side(s) (think half chicken, green beans and mashed potatoes, or sandwich and fries) and new to 2018, those under the age of 21 can choose to have soda, tea or coffee, a milkshake, smoothie or other specialty non alcoholic beverage. Those over the age of 21 with valid ID can choose to have a beer, cider, mixed drink or wine if available. This plan also includes 2 snack credits which can be used on a variety of things from soups or salads, drinks, desserts or packaged snacks. My favorite thing to use a snack credit on are the themed cupcakes. Gigantic works of art and delicious! We have never felt like we've sacrificed food choices with this plan. Quick Service doesn't mean you are stuck with just burgers and fries. There are yummy salads, seafood, fajitas, and so much more. Mr. Disney Magic loves going to Animal Kingdom and having lunch at Flame Tree BBQ so he can order the Ribs, chicken and pulled pork plate that includes baked beans, coleslaw and jalapeno cornbread. With Quick Service meals, no gratuities are charged and you do not need reservations.
The Dining Plan is the standard meal plan with Disney World and it includes 1 Quick Service meal, 1 Table Service meal and 2 snacks. You get everything as above with the Quick Service plan, but the Table Service meal can be a buffet or a sit down restaurant, and includes a dessert. This is a popular plan because it's the best of both worlds. You can have a quick lunch if you want and a leisurely dinner to unwind after a day at the Parks. There are a few Table Service restaurants that even offer special seating for nighttime shows, or Character Meals including breakfasts, however some of those might require the use of two meal credits. Gratuity will be added on additionally for Table Service restaurants just like if you went to a sit down restaurant at home. Reservations are usually required, and may be reserved up to 180 days before your trip.
The Deluxe Dining Plan is the most expensive plan because you get a lot more. This plan includes 3 meals, your choice of Quick Service or Table Service. If you choose the Table Service, in addition to the above entitlements, you also get to choose an appetizer. Gratuity will be added on additionally for Table Service restaurants just like if you went to a sit down restaurant at home. Reservations are usually required, and may be reserved up to 180 days before your trip.
The prices for the 2018 Disney Dining Plans are as follows:
Quick Service - Per night Ages 10 and up $52.50 Ages 9 and under $21.74
Dining Plan – Per night Ages 10 and up $75.49 Ages 9 and under $25.75
Deluxe Dining Plan – Per night Ages 10 and up $116.25 Ages 9 and under $39.99
There are some legitimate reasons as to why, or why not this plan might be good for you. If you love the idea of having all meals paid for in advance and if you like to have Table Service meals and don't mind planning in advance this plan may be perfect for you. If you just like to snack in the park, or want to bring in part of your own food and just eat one meal in the park, you might not get as much benefit from this.
An incredibly easy way to see if you will come out ahead or not if you buy this plan is to use this fabulous dining plan calculator. DisTripPlanner.com has put a lot of work into making your decision as easy as can be. Just make sure that you do add in the refillable mug in step 2, in order to get the most accurate result. Just click here to see the calculator.
A few things to remember.
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While there is no bad time at all to visit a Disney Park, without a doubt one of the most popular times to visit is a holiday. There’s something special about holiday decorations, whether it’s for a Patriotic holiday, Halloween of Christmas. It adds a little extra Pixie Dust to that already magical experience.
If you are one of those planning out your visit to the Magic Kingdom or any other park for an upcoming holiday, there are a few things you’ll need to keep in mind.
Going to Disney during a holiday does mean more magic, but it also means higher crowds. In order to get the most magic, and the least frustration out of your trip, there’s a few things you’ll want to take into consideration!
If you are driving your own car, be prepared for a much longer walk to and from your parking space. Arrive as early as you can for the best parking space possible. There will also be longer lines or wait times to take the parking tram.
Because holidays, New Years, Thanksgiving and Christmas especially, are such popular times to visit, Magic Kingdom can reach capacity. What does this mean? A holiday at capacity happens in stages, so knowing those stages can make sure YOU get inside. Disney can change the way they do things at any time, but this is generally how it happens when it starts getting closer to capacity. Usually you’ll only need to worry about this a few days before, and after Christmas.
Guests with one day, single park tickets or those using cast member passes will not be allowed to park, they will be turned away at the toll plazas.
Any guest staying at a Disney Resort, even if they drive themselves, is allowed in. Also, anyone with a multi day ticket, or park hopper tickets, annual passholders, someone hopping in from another park, anyone arriving by Disney transportation or anyone with an existing in park reservation.
When the second stage occurs, the only ones allowed into the parking lots, or through the ticket turnstiles are:
Those staying at a Disney resort, annual passholders, those re-entering the park from earlier that day, those hopping from another park, those with in park reservations or those coming by Disney transportation.
Once it reaches the third stage (which isn’t too often, the second stage it the most common) the only ones allowed into the turnstiles, or the parking lot are:
Those staying at a Disney Resort, annual passholders, those with in park reservations.
The fourth stage, the park is entirely shut down, to all visitors. This has only happened once though, so it’s unlikely you will need to worry about it.
If you are visiting during a holiday, and NOT staying on property, you need to arrive at least an hour and a half early in order to make sure you get into the park. Remember, with the new opening procedure for the park, the hub is open an hour, sometimes earlier, than actual park opening. Once that is filled, and it will fill on a holiday, people will be stuck between the gates and the turnsiles, backing up to to the arrival areas and it will take much much longer to get inside of the park and get where you want to go. Holiday are NOT a time to get there late.
There will be crowds, but like any Disney crowd, common sense will see you through. If you’ve small children, keep them in the stroller or tightly hold their hands so they don’t get lost, or knocked over. It only takes the blink of an eye for your group to be separated when another group pushes past you, so something like matching hats or shirts can go a long way towards spotting each others.
First-timers- please note! You will NOT be able to hear your cell phone ringing, and the person you are trying to call will not be able to hear theirs! Even on a regular park day, it’s just too loud in the park to hear it, so plan to take frequent breaks to look to see if you’ve missed a call or text from another in your group.
If there was a sit down place you wanted to eat, or if your little princess wanted a makeover, I hope you’ve already got reservations. You can start booking your preferred restaurant 6 months in advance. Didn’t do that yet? It’s okay, and you might still be able to get a reservation, but the sooner you start checking, the better. As time draws closer to your trip, if you haven't been able to score a table, don’t give up. Things happen sometimes with the others who hold those reservations, and it’s not unlikely, or impossible to get the restaurant you’ve been longing for, a few days before your trip. The trick is to keep trying, and not stop. Check the odd times too. It doesn’t matter if it’s quick service or not, tables are filled more from 11:30am-1pm.
This really goes along with the crowds, but you know there will already be some longer crowds. While it’s a little harder to beat the crowds on a holiday, it’s not impossible to minimize your wait time if you have a plan. If you don’t know what you want to do, where you want to go and where you want to eat, the lines are going to get longer and longer and you are going to start feeling frustrated. Disney is such a great place to visit, don’t let your magical trip be ruined by something so small like an hour per park that you’ve made at least a general outline of what order you are going to do things.
Take advantage of the great service Disney offers that’s totally free! Have the shop send your purchases to the front of the park for pickup on your way out, or even better, back to your resort! Keep in mind though, if you are sending back to your resort, don’t send anything back in the last 24 hours of your trip because it might not get to you in time.
Holidays at Disney have some extra special photo opportunities, so be sure to take advantage! You’ll find Mickey and his friends in seasonal costumes, as well as characters you might not get to see during the rest of the year. There will be special parades, music, shows and of course, lot sof special treats to sample that you can only get during these special occasions.
Disney also offers special seasonal events, such as the Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party, and the Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party. These have special things like trick or treating, or cookie and cocoa stations throughout the park as well as other fun surprises.
Keep in mind that if you are visiting the park on a day where one of these parties is held, the park does close early to those who do not have tickets for these events. Tickets can sell out quickly, so it’s best to get yours the moment you know you will be there during a holiday. It is very unlikely that you will be able to buy a ticket the day of the event.
Patience, patience, patience
While this is a top tip, other than planning, for any Disney vacation, it’s needed more than ever during a Disney holiday. Have patience. Patience with the family who just cut in front of you, patience with that REALLY annoying family remember who keeps slowing you down, patience with your kid who had to stop for the 11th bathroom/pretzel/pin trading moment in the last hour and a half. Don’t forget to have patience with yourself, too. You might not get to do everything you want. That’s okay. Enjoy what you can!
Remember, a little prep, a little planning will go a long way towards making the most out of your vacation. It can be a little overwhelming to plan a Disney trip, but it’s far worse to be standing there in a panic as the lines get longer and longer and you’ve no idea what anyone wants to ride! Like the old adage, an ounce of prevention, is worth a pound of cure.
Stay sane, and have fun during your Disney holiday!
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It's back to school time and my kids aren't the only ones learning! I learned something really interesting about Walt Disney that I never knew before!
Did you know, there are quite a few schools named after Walt Disney? Further, he actually helped create some of these schools. At least one has some original Disney artwork on the walls! You can see some of the pictures here!
As a boy, Walt Disney didn't have the best experiences in school, and was discouraged by his teachers when he would draw, or tell stories. It's a little sad to think that even though most teachers are encouraging, and try to foster a child's interests, there are still some that don't. Who knows what sort of genius they are stifling? Thank goodness Walt Disney didn't give up!
Throughout his life, Walt Disney felt education for all ages was key. He often spoke about education through various methods. He felt that education didn't have to be uninteresting. Like Mary Poppins said, "In every job that must be done, you find the element of fun, and snap! The job's a game!"
I found these two quotes below quite fascinating. What he spoke about all those years ago is still something on the mind's of parents and educators today.
"Crowded classrooms and half day sessions are a tragic waste of our greatest national resource- the minds of our children. " -- Walt Disney
"School age youngsters are capable of absorbing and retaining a tremendous amount of learning. Given the change they have an amazing aptitude for knowledge. We must not deny them that chance through shortages of classrooms and inadequate educational facilities.
having spent most of my life observing their potential, I feel convinced that a full time education for our youth is our best investment in the future." -- Walt Disney
Children are indeed our future! We can't expect teachers to do all of the educating though, it's so important that we teach them as well! Especially common sense, something that isn't a common as it should be!
On Animal Kingdom's approximate 500 acre Park, there are about 1700 animals, representing 250 species! While those animals are scattered about the park, and you might not get to see all of them every time you go, Animal Kingdom has a nifty little guide that you can have to keep track of who you do see! There are more detailed (though, not able to take home) guides on some of the trails, including the trail with all of the birds) and the Kilimanjaro Safari.
Take a peek here, and enjoy a preview of some of the creatures you'll find on your next safari to Animal Kingdom!
Isn't it amazing how many animals they have? They'll be getting more too, with the arrival of those sweet little tiger cubs, some of the last in the world of that species. Disney does a lot to help preserve the lives and species, and I didn't realize just how much until I took the time to actually listen for a while on our last visit there.
At any retail spot in Animal Kingdom, you can also make a donation to the Disney Conservation Fund. They'll give you a really cool button as a thank you that you can wear to remind you, or someone else, about the important conservation efforts Disney does throughout their parks, not just at Animal Kingdom.
When we went last, the button was of a sea turtle. Do you have any yourself?