Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge Boarding Group Virtual Queue

written by Crystal Boston, Travel Specialist

UPDATE: Effective July 30, 2021, face coverings are optional for Guests in outdoor areas. All Guests (ages 2 and up) must wear a face covering when inside, including indoor attractions, queues and transportation.

UPDATED: September 10, 2021

Confirming a virtual queue in the My Disney Experience Mobile App is still the only way to experience Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance. As availability allows, you will have an opportunity at 7 a.m. and 1 p.m. to request to join the virtual queue. This means there is no need to arrive early to the park to check the virtual queue. 

Here are a few important details to know before arriving…

  • Guests with a valid ticket or annual pass and a Disney Park Pass Reservation for Disney’s Hollywood Studios will be able to access the virtual queue system and check for an available boarding group starting at 7 a.m. on the day of their park reservation. This can be done before you leave your Disney resort hotel, or wherever else nearby you might be at that time.
  • In addition, the virtual queue will reopen daily at 1 p.m. for anyone who was not already able to join a boarding group earlier in the day. Note: Guests must be inside Disney’s Hollywood Studios to access this second virtual queue opportunity, access to a boarding group is subject to availability and not guaranteed.

The attraction’s virtual queue is only accessible via your My Disney Experience Mobile App. To maximize your opportunity to secure a boarding group, here are a few tips for prior to your day at the park:

  • Register an account in My Disney Experience
  • Download the My Disney Experience mobile app on your smart device or ensure you are using the most updated version of the app before you arrive at the park
  • Have a valid Disney Park Pass reservation for Disney’s Hollywood Studios for the day you are visiting
  • Link all park tickets in your party to your My Disney Experience account
  • For the best opportunity, it’s best if all members of your travel party attempt to access the virtual queue for everyone in your group
  • Remember, virtual queue boarding groups are limited and subject to availability

NOTE: Only Guests with a Disney Park Pass reservation for Disney’s Hollywood Studios will be able to experience Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance. Even with Park Hopper tickets, Guests visiting from another theme park will not be able to request to join the virtual queue.

You can follow the Boarding Group information provided below to join a Boarding Group and should receive a notification when your Boarding Group opens. It’s now easier to confirm your party prior to the Virtual Queue opening. Starting 1 hour before the boarding group queue opens, you can now confirm your party.

 

There are now also tips within the app telling Guests how to “refresh” right at 7 a.m. to join the queue, streamlining the process. You can see this reflected in the screenshot below.

If you have any questions or need assistance with joining the virtual queue, Cast Members at Guest Experience Team locations throughout the park are available to assist. While waiting for a virtual queue group to be called, you can enjoy other experiences at Disney’s Hollywood Studios including the newest experience, Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway.

You will be assigned a Group number and estimated wait time for return to the land to join the line for Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance. Your MagicBand or park ticket will be scanned again before you are allowed access to the ride queue. During this time you are free to enjoy any other experiences at Disney, including going back to your resort to sleep!

There may be times when a virtual queue will be used to enter Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, allowing you to enjoy the rest of Disney’s Hollywood Studios while waiting for your turn to enter Batuu. Guests should check either the My Disney Experience mobile app or with the Guest Experience team that can be found within the park for the land’s current status.

To make sure that you’ll be able to join the virtual queue, you’ll need to have the latest version of the My Disney Experience mobile app downloaded on your phone. If you’ve enabled push notifications for the app and you have entered the virtual queue, you should be notified when it’s time to return to Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge. If you don’t, you’ll be able to view the boarding group status in the app, or check the various digital status boards throughout the park.

To see if the land is open or if Boarding Groups are available, you’ll launch your My Disney Experience mobile app and look for the Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge: Status and Access section – tap the “Find Out More” button.

If there are Boarding Groups available, and you want to experience Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance, you will then click the “Join Boarding Group” button.

Once you select “Join Boarding Group” you will see the information below in your My Disney Experience mobile app. Click “Continue”.

In the next screen you will select your Party and click the “Join a Boarding Group” button.

You will then be assigned a Group number and estimated wait time for return. Click the “Done” button.

For those who don’t choose to use the My Disney Experience mobile app, and you would like to join a Boarding Group, you’ll need to visit a Guest Experience Team kiosk.

As a reminder, for those with reservations for Oga’s Cantina, Savi’s Workshop – Handbuilt Lightsabers, or Droid Depot, if the land is full and you have a reservation, you will be allowed into the land.

Contact your Wish Upon A Star With Us Travel Agent now to book your Walt Disney World or Disneyland resort package for your Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge experience!

Park Hopper Option Returns to Walt Disney World Resort on Jan. 1, 2021

written by Crystal Boston, Travel Specialist

As the phased reopening of Walt Disney World Resort continues, another exciting milestone is approaching that many Guests have been looking forward to: the return of the Park Hopper option!

Guests with a ticket, package or pass that includes Park Hopper® benefits will get the chance to see and do more during their visit, which could mean a morning on the savanna at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park and an evening stroll by Cinderella Castle at Magic Kingdom Park or starting the day living your Star Wars adventure at Disney’s Hollywood Studios before an afternoon traveling around the world at EPCOT.
Please note that the ability to visit another park will be subject to the park’s capacity limitations.

YOU CAN SIMPLY CHECK YOUR MOBILE APP FOR PARK HOURS FOR THAT DAY, CALL 407-560-5000 TO CHECK PARK AVAILABILITY OR CHECK ONLINE
WALT DISNEY WORLD PARK HOPPER HOURS



How It Works
Starting January 1, 2021, Guests who purchased a ticket or annual pass with the Park Hopper benefits will be able to visit more than one park per day, with some new modifications as part of an ongoing focus for health and safety. These modifications are designed to help with continue to manage attendance in a way that fosters physical distancing. Additionally, other enhanced health and safety measures remain in effect, including face coverings required for all guests ages two and up.

Specific Park Hopper hours will be set during which this option will be available. Park Hopper hours will start at 2 PM each day and end at the park’s scheduled close time. Guests will soon be able to check DisneyWorld.com/ParkHours and the My Disney Experience Mobile App for the most up-to-date Park Hopper hours, as they could start earlier at a later date, depending on the day and park.

With the updated Park Hopper experience, Guests must make a Disney Park Pass reservation for the first park they plan to visit AND enter that first park prior to visiting another. At this time, a park reservation is not required after the first park, however, reservation requirements are subject to change.
Please note that the ability to visit another park will be subject to the park’s capacity limitations.

YOU CAN SIMPLY CHECK YOUR MOBILE APP FOR PARK HOURS FOR THAT DAY, CALL 407-560-5000 TO CHECK PARK AVAILABILITY OR CHECK ONLINE
WALT DISNEY WORLD PARK HOPPER HOURS


Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance
To help manage attendance, upon the return of the Park Hopper option, only guests with an initial Disney Park Pass reservation for Disney’s Hollywood Studios will be able to experience Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance – Guests visiting from another theme park will not be able to request to join the virtual queue.

Ticket Modifications & Cancellations
In light of these updates, if you have a ticket that includes the ability to visit more than one park per day and you wish to modify or cancel your ticket, please contact your Wish Upon A Star With Us Travel Agent.

Park-to-park transportation is also planned to resume in 2021, with operations beginning each day shortly prior to the start of Park Hopper® hours.

Remember to check the Walt Disney World Know Before You Go web page for the most up to date information regarding health and safety protocols to insure the best experience possible!

Come experience the magic for yourself, contact your Wish Upon A Star With Us Travel Agent today to book your Disney vacation!

Welcome Back to the Magic!

written by Crystal Boston, Travel Specialist

UPDATE:  August 24, 2021, face coverings are optional outdoors but are required for all indoor locations including transportation.  

UPDATE: Effective June 15, 2021, face coverings are optional for fully vaccinated Guests in most areas, outside and inside, as well as when experiencing attractions and shows.

Since Walt Disney World in Florida reopened its properties on June 22, 2020, I have been back to the magic several times already!

I have experienced all resort hotels currently reopened as well as all 4 parks and, while some things are different, so much is still the same and Disney magic is still there! One of the biggest and most noticeable differences, due to capacity limits, is crowd levels – the resort hotels and parks are empty in comparison to “normal” and, while this is amazing for those “doing Disney” right now, it is a bit eerie and the vibe just doesn’t feel as magical at times but I didn’t realize just how much I missed the magic until I was back on property because the magic is definitely still there!!

Staying on property will offer the most healthy and safe experience as Disney has implemented many new touchless features, such as online check-in that allows you to skip the front desk on arrival, and enhanced cleaning protocols.

All Guests that I have had contact with have been great with wearing face coverings properly and maintaining physical distancing and Cast Members are attentive with reminding Guests to replace or adjust their face coverings when needed.

Disney has always been exemplary with sanitation and cleanliness and even more now! Cast Members are constantly working to keep touch points clean. There are sanitizer stations throughout the parks and resort hotels and rides are closed at various times throughout the day for additional cleaning. Even at resort hotel pools you are asked to fold your lounge chairs closed or tip your chairs towards the table when done so that Cast Members and other Guests know that these areas have been used and need sanitized.

To maintain physical distancing protocols, there are markers throughout the parks and resort hotels, at every ride and store – anyplace where a line could potentially form – and Cast Members are often on the side of the lines at certain spots to ensure everyone is maintaining physical distancing. In addition, there are now plexiglass partitions between many spaces where you could come into direct contact with other Guests, even for complimentary transportation.

Something you will notice that has changed is character experiences… There are characters still in the parks and all 4 parks have “Character Cavalcades” or, as I like to call them, “pop up parades”! These character experiences are not announced in advance to ensure that crowds do not gather but here’s a #wishtip – when you hear the music get louder that is your signal that a character cavalcade is on its way and at Animal Kingdom Park these “pop up parades” are on the river, which runs through the park, and you can wave to the characters as they pass under the bridges on the walkways.

While there are no traditional character meet & greets right now there are still plenty of character interactions!

In Epcot you can take a selfie with Mary Poppins or Alice in Wonderland in England or find Joy or Pooh playing in the fenced grassy areas.

In Hollywood Studios you will find Stormtroopers, Chewbacca and Rey in Batuu where you can also take a selfie with each.

At Magic Kingdom you can snap a selfie with Captain Jack Sparrow in Adventureland.

At Animal Kingdom, however, I didn’t see any opportunities for character interactions other than the “pop up parades” when I was there.

And, if you purchase Memory Maker, there are also new and fun “magic shots” in all 4 parks and the PhotoPass Photographers have all been super fun and are working to offer some great photo opportunities.

Each park offers at least 2 Relaxation Stations where you can sit for a bit and remove your face covering. Some are air conditioned but all offer some type of shade.

Each park offers at least 2 Relaxation Stations where you can sit for a bit and remove your face covering. Some are air conditioned but all offer some type of shade.

Even with lower capacity levels I still suggest planning to arrive just before the scheduled park opening time, especially for Hollywood Studios if you want a Boarding Group for Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance, and head back to your resort late afternoon to enjoy the amazing pools on property. Currently, most parks and other experiences are closing earlier than normal but most pools will remain open until 9 – 11 pm.

For dining, it is very important right now, due to limited capacity requirements, to secure advance dining reservations for sit-down dining experiences. I saw many Guests turned away, even at locations that would sometimes previously accept walk-up’s (I always recommend advance dining reservations for my Guests to insure no disappointments!). You can use the QR Code at the host stand to check in or you can also use your MDE Mobile App to check-in for your dining experience 15 minutes in advance and restaurants are offering digital menus that you scan by QR code to insure a more touchless experience.

And, there are also 2 Character Dining experiences available, Topolino’s Terrace – Flavors of the Riviera at Disney’s Riviera Resort [Breakfast à la Art with Mickey & Friends] and Garden Grill at Epcot [Chip ‘n’ Dale with their Disney pals], modified for your health and safety but still so magical!!

For Quick Service dining experiences, be sure to always use your MDE Mobile App to place your order by either logging in to your account or scanning the QR code at the dining location. You will then be notified when your food is ready and that is when you will be allowed into the dining venue, again, due to current limited capacity requirements.

If you have questions about anything when in the parks or at the resort hotels just ask any Cast Member. They have all been great with answering questions about anything and everything that is new and different and, if they do not know, they will find out for you.

My final piece of advice or tip – now is a GREAT time to “do Disney”!

Limited capacity provides – Shorter wait times and ride cars all to yourself – Common areas at resort hotels and parks are less crowded – Pixie Dust (i.e.: magical surprises) is still there

Even though some experiences have changed there is still so much that hasn’t changed (park maps are still available!) and the [necessary] changes implemented to help insure that we can all continue to experience the magic in a healthy and safe way are still just as magical!!

Remember to check the Walt Disney World Know Before You Go web page for the most up to date information regarding health and safety protocols to insure the best experience possible!

Come experience the magic for yourself, contact your Wish Upon A Star With Us Travel Agent today to book your Disney vacation!

Travel – FACTS not Rumors…

written by Crystal Boston, Travel Specialist

First, we hope you and your family, friends, and co-workers are staying home [unless you are an essential employee, then THANK YOU!] and staying healthy during this crazy time we are living in.

As a Travel Agency specializing in Disney and Universal vacations, our agents have been working to take care of our Guests directly affected by resort and park closures as well as cruise itinerary cancellations for Disney Cruise Line.

While working with our Guests we have received many questions related to rumors posted on other blogs and social media pages. This blog was created to explain the current situation with information direct from Disney and Universal – this information is not rumor, this is FACT!

Walt Disney World
UPDATE – MAY 27, 2020Plans Unveiled for the Phased Reopening of Walt Disney World Resort Theme Parks, Resort Hotels and Disney Stores
Pending Orange County and state approval, the Walt Disney World Resort proposal plans for Magic Kingdom Park and Disney’s Animal Kingdom to begin a phased reopening to the general public on July 11, 2020, followed by EPCOT and Disney’s Hollywood Studios on July 15, 2020.
This phased reopening will demonstrate a deliberate approach, with limits on attendance and controlled Guest density that aligns with guidance on physical distancing. That means certain experiences that are known to draw large group gatherings – such as parades and nighttime spectaculars – will return at a later date. In addition, “high-touch” experiences such as makeover opportunities, playgrounds and character meet and greets will remain temporarily unavailable, but characters will still be in the parks to entertain and delight Guests.
Because theme park capacity will be significantly limited as Guests are welcomed back to the magic, attendance will be managed through a new theme park reservation system that will require all Guests to obtain a reservation for park entry in advance. More details about this new reservation system will be available soon.
Your Wish Upon A Star With Us Travel Agent can help you book now.

Disneyland
UPDATE – April 2, 2021Disneyland Resort Reopening on April 30, 2021
Magic is finally returning to the Disneyland Resort theme parks as Disneyland park and Disney California Adventure park plan to officially reopen to the public on April 30,2021 with limited capacity. Your Wish Upon A Star With Us Travel Agent can help you book now.

Aulani, A Disney Resort & Spa
UPDATE – September 24, 2020Aulani Resort will plan to begin a phased reopening on November 1, 2020
Given Hawaii’s recent announcement of a pre-arrival testing program for those traveling from out-of-state, we are working toward a phased reopening of Aulani, A Disney Resort & Spa beginning on Sunday, November 1, 2020. Your Wish Upon A Star With Us Travel Agent can help you book now.

Disney Cruise Line:
Update: July 23, 2021Disney Cruise Line Resumes Sailings on the Disney Dream
Disney Cruise Line announced plans for a return to service, beginning with the Disney Dream, which will depart Port Canaveral starting August 9, 2021. New health & safety updates will be in effect for all sailings. Your Wish Upon A Star With Us Travel Agent can help answer any questions you may have or assist you with booking your next cruise now.

Update: June 8, 2021Disney Cruise Line Extends Suspension of Sailings
As Disney Cruise Line continues to refine protocols for an eventual return to service, they have announced the cancellation of additional 2021 sailings.

  • Disney Dream departures through 8/6/21
  • Disney Fantasy departures through 8/28/21
  • Disney Wonder departures through 9/19/21
  • Disney Magic departures in the U.S. through 11/4/21
  • Your Wish Upon A Star With Us Travel Agent will be reaching out to discuss your options for rebooking or refund.

    Update: May 14, 2021Disney Cruise Line Extends Suspension of Sailings Departing Through July 2021
    As Disney Cruise Line continues to refine protocols for an eventual return to service, they have announced the cancellation of additional 2021 sailings for all Disney Dream and Disney Fantasy sailings through July 2021, and all Disney Wonder sailings through July 12, 2021. Your Wish Upon A Star With Us Travel Agent will be reaching out to discuss your options for rebooking or refund.

    Update: April 15, 2021Disney Cruise Line Extends Suspension of Sailings Departing Through October 9, 2021 for the Disney Magic ONLY
    As Disney Cruise Line continues to refine protocols for an eventual return to service, they have announced the cancellation of additional 2021 sailings. Your Wish Upon A Star With Us Travel Agent will be reaching out to discuss your options for rebooking or refund.

    Update: April 6, 2021Disney Cruise Line Extends Suspension of All Departures through June 2021, and Disney Magic European sailings through Sept. 19, 2021
    As Disney Cruise Line continues to refine protocols for an eventual return to service, they have announced the cancellation of additional 2021 sailings. Your Wish Upon A Star With Us Travel Agent will be reaching out to discuss your options for rebooking or refund.

    Update: February 24, 2021Disney Cruise Line Suspends All Departures through May 2021 and Disney Magic sailings through August 10, 2021
    As Disney Cruise Line continues to refine protocols for an eventual return to service, they have announced the cancellation of additional 2021 sailings. Sailings are cancelled aboard the Disney Fantasy, Dream and Wonder through May 2021; and Disney Magic through August 10, 2021. Additionally, based on the conditional sail order provided by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Disney Cruise Line must cancel sailings longer than 7 nights. Your Wish Upon A Star With Us Travel Agent will be reaching out to discuss your options for rebooking or refund.

    Update: January 27, 2021Disney Cruise Line Suspends All Departures through April 2021 and Select Disney Magic and Disney Wonder Sailings in May 2021
    As Disney Cruise Line continues to refine protocols for an eventual return to service, they have announced the cancellation of additional 2021 sailings. Sailings are cancelled aboard the Disney Fantasy through April 24; the Disney Dream through April 30; the Disney Magic through May 6 and Disney Wonder through May 12. Additionally, based on the conditional sail order provided by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Disney Cruise Line must cancel sailings longer than 7 nights. Your Wish Upon A Star With Us Travel Agent will be reaching out to discuss your options for rebooking or refund.

    Update: January 12, 2021Disney Cruise Line Sailings Suspended Through March 2021
    As Disney Cruise Line continues to refine protocols for an eventual return to service, they have announced the cancellation of all sailings through March 2021. Your Wish Upon A Star With Us Travel Agent will be reaching out to discuss your options for rebooking or refund.

    Adventures by Disney:
    UPDATE – April 1, 2021Adventures by Disney Departures Suspended Through March
    With the well-being of our Guests and Guides as our top priority and in line with direction from health experts and government officials, Adventures by Disney has decided to suspend most of our adventures through the end of April. Your Wish Upon A Star With Us Travel Agent will be reaching out to discuss your options for rebooking or refund.

    Universal Parks & Resorts Vacations (Florida & California):
    Universal Parks & Resorts Vacations in Florida have reopened with limited capacity.

    Universal Parks & Resorts Vacations in California will reopen to California residents only on April 16, 2021

    Other Cruise and Land Vacation Destinations:
    While our agency does specialize in Disney and Universal vacations, we also help book and plan other cruise and land vacation destinations and we have been keeping our clients that have been directly affected by closures and cancellations updated about their options.

    Cruise Lines:
    UPDATE: April 6, 2021 – Currently, many cruise lines have suspended all sailings. Be sure to check with your Travel Agent or whoever you booked thru for specific details about your specific reservations.

    Land Destinations:
    As for land vacation destinations, it depends on the destination, please check with your Travel Agent or whoever you booked thru for specific details about your specific reservations.

    Airlines:
    Airlines are still operating but on a limited schedule and are adjusting travel dates and times based on occupancy of certain itineraries. Please check with your Travel Agent or whoever you booked thru for specific details about your specific reservations.

    For all travelers, if you booked your travel plans thru a Travel Agent and they have not yet reached out to you this is likely because your travel dates are not yet directly affected and they are working to take care of their clients with travel plans that are currently directly affected by closures and cancellations, April and some May travel dates. Please be patient, in this type of situation, it is typically in your best interest to wait until your trip is cancelled by the supplier before making any decisions about cancelling or rebooking your future travel plans.

    Please do not hesitate to reach out to your Wish Upon A Star With Us Travel Agent with any questions or if you would like more information about anything. We will share as much as we know and can share. We will also post updates as they become available on social media platforms.
    (i.e.: If you are not our client we cannot legally or professionally advise you about your current travel plans, you will need to reach out to whoever you booked thru. But, if you are not yet booked for future travel and wish to discuss future travel plans, we can assist and advise to the best of our ability with the information we have available).

    While the White House has issued an April 30 social distancing guideline, please follow this or the guidelines set by your state or county. If you are not an essential employee, please stay home. This is being implemented for the safety and well-being of everyone and the more of us that follow this guideline the better off we will all be in 14 – 30 days and we will then [hopefully] be able to get back to a more normal way of life again very soon!

    Stay healthy, stay home and practice social distancing!
    CDC / WHO

    The NEW Disney Skyliner

    written by Crystal Boston, Travel Specialist

    The newest transportation option is the Disney Skyliner – magic in the sky!

    Check out this video of my ride from Disney’s Pop Century Resort to Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort.

    Magic is in the air at Walt Disney World® Resort with the new Disney Skyliner transportation system.

    Disney Skyliner connects Epcot® and Disney’s Hollywood Studios® to four Disney resort hotels – Disney’s Art of Animation Resort, Disney’s Pop Century Resort, Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort and the forthcoming Disney’s Riviera Resort, set to open December 16, 2019. The system serves as a magic carpet, floating Guests through the air aboard approximately 300 gondolas, nearly half of which are wrapped in whimsical Disney scenes of beloved characters, fan-favorite movies, theme park attractions and more. 

    While riding Disney Skyliner, you will be treated to never-before-seen views of Walt Disney World Resort as you float along the treetops and waterways alike. The system provides bird’s-eye vantage points of Disney icons such as the Hollywood Tower Hotel and Spaceship Earth. 

    Come experience the magic for yourself, contact your Wish Upon A Star With Us Travel Agent today!

    Disneyland Resort in California

    written by Crystal Boston, Travel Specialist

    I have been to Disneyland in California several times – when I lived in California and again in September 2016 when I participated in the runDisney Coast-to-Coast Half Marathon – I didn’t know at the time, but this was the last year for this runDisney experience in California. However, a lot has changed even since 2016 so I was very excited to be chosen to participate in a Travel Agent learning experience at this Disney Destination!

    While we toured all 3 of the Disneyland property hotels, we stayed at the Disneyland Hotel. Even though you are in the heart of Anaheim, this is still a very large property with 3 towers for rooms. We stayed in standard rooms that all had magical Disney touches from the light fixtures to the headboards to the faucets! Everything was so “Disney”.


    And we toured a themed signature suite at this hotel – Adventureland Suite – which was AMAZING! This suite takes guests on the most luxurious safari ever. With the feel of an explorers’ camp from the 1930s, the Adventureland Suite features a master bedroom fashioned as a safari lodge with a claw-foot bathtub in the living area. In the master bathroom there is a grotto with a foot spa, steam and rain showers, and lighting and sound effects that make you feel like you’re in a rain forest or savanna. There is also a second bedroom, which makes you feel like you’re sleeping in a safari tent. The Asian/Indian-inspired main living area includes a wet bar, a flat-screen TV hidden behind artwork above the faux fireplace, and a “hidden” closet (hint: try the bookcase). When you’re in this suite, it even sounds like you’re in the jungle: the doorbell “rings” with tiki gods playing drums, and – for the first time in a Disneyland Hotel suite – themed background music plays three separate tracks inspired by the Jungle Cruise, Disney adventure-themed movies and music first created for Disney’s Animal Kingdom Park.

    There are also 3 other signature suites at the Disneyland Hotel – Fairy Tale, Big Thunder, Mickey Mouse Penthouse and Pirates of the Caribbean. All signature suites include concierge level access.

    All of the property hotels have signature suites and concierge level service. The concierge service is different than Walt Disney World where you book the Club Level room type for concierge level services. At Disneyland Resort you book any room type and then pay additional to add on the concierge services per person per night. And, unlike Walt Disney World, you are encouraged to take food and beverage from the concierge offerings to enjoy when in the parks.

    During our resort tours we also enjoyed Brunch at Storyteller’s Café with Mickey and Friends! This character dining experience offers a delicious buffet with great character interaction for Breakfast and Brunch. It was a fun experience and I would definitely recommend it for your Disneyland vacation!

    Dining reservations open 60 days in advance and walk-ins are typically not available.
    There are 5 locations for character dining:
    – Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & SpaDisney Princess Breakfast Adventures (Napa Rose) – Breakfast with Disney Princesses
    Disneyland Park – Breakfast with Minnie & Friends at Plaza Inn – 7 -11 am *Park ticket required
    Disneyland HotelGoofy’s Kitchen – Breakfast & Dinner
    Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & SpaMickey’s Tales of Adventure (Storyteller’s Café) – Breakfast and Brunch – after 2:30 pm there are no characters
    Paradise PierDonald’s Seaside Buffet – PCH Grill is a small venue and characters are only at Breakfast – this dining experience is known for the best character interaction.

    There are 2 parks at Disneyland Resort – Disneyland Park and Disney California Adventure Park – and they are only separated by a small courtyard-like area so park hoppers are definitely the way to go with tickets at Disneyland. Disneyland Park is very similar to Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World Resort except it’s a bit smaller – or at least seems smaller. This is where the new Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge will open Summer 2019.
    Note: With Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge scheduled to open Summer 2019, non-Star Wars fans should plan to visit NOW before opening date.


    Disney California Adventure is similar to Hollywood Studios at Walt Disney World Resort. The two new attractions, Incredicoaster and Guardian’s of the Galaxy, were definitely on my “to-do” list as they were not open yet during my 2016 trip! Neither disappointed but Guardian’s of the Galaxy was my favorite – but one of my favorite rides at Walt Disney World is Tower of Terror and Guardian’s is a similar experience with different theming and a bit different experience but close.

    Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa also offers a secret entrance for guests staying at that hotel. This hotel sits “inside” Disney’s California Adventure and offers great views of the park.

    And, if you are looking for a quiet spot to get away from it all – the Alfresco Tasting Terrace is the perfect little spot!

    The Downtown Disney area offers shopping, dining and entertainment with many outdoor areas to enjoy during the day and at night. Splitsville is new to Disneyland and more new venues will be opening soon!

    I also highly recommend adding MaxPass to your resort package. MaxPass will allow you to make advance FASTPASS selections the day of your visit and also includes PhotoPass. If you aren’t heading in to the parks first thing in the morning, be sure to walk over to the Monorail entrance to activate your park tickets – just enter the Monorail area, scan your ticket and exit – you can then make FASTPASS selections if you have MaxPass. Without MaxPass you will only be able to use the paper FASTPASS system once inside the parks. With MaxPass you can have mobile FASTPASS selections and also paper FASTPASS selections for the same or overlapping times.

    The PhotoPass system is a bit different at Disneyland than Walt Disney World… for ride photos you will want to take a screenshot of your photo code and enter it into your Disneyland Mobile App as the photos do not automatically capture to your account like they do with your My Disney Experience (MDE) account at Walt Disney World.

    And, once you link your park ticket to your mobile app, take a photo of it to save to your phone in case your internet is not working once at or in the parks. They can scan the photo of your park ticket instead of needing to open your mobile app.

    Disneyland Resort is a great way to kick off a Southern California vacation – Disney/San Diego/Hollywood – and we can book it all for you! At Paradise Pier there is an Alamo Car Rental office which offers no drop fee to pick up at one location and return to another. So, for example, you could rent a car at Disneyland and drop it in San Diego for your return flight home without any additional drop fees.

    If you are looking for a laid back, more spontaneous Disney vacation experience, where you will often see the characters roaming around and interacting with Guests, then Disneyland is for you! Contact me to help you book and plan your Disneyland Resort vacation!!

    Be Our Guest Restaurant – New Prix Fixe Menu

    written by Crystal Boston, Travel Specialist

    On Friday, July 27, 2018 Be Our Guest Restaurant debuted its new prix fixe menu for dinner and I was there to experience it!

    The new prix fixe, 3-course menu features French-inspired dishes and includes an appetizer, main entrée and a trio dessert as well as non-alcoholic beverages and bread service. Adult beverages may be purchased for an additional charge.

    For our appetizers we chose the Maine Lobster Bisque and Assorted Meats and Artisanal Cheese Selection. Both were very good, and the meat and cheese tray was much better than the previous cheese plate they offered at dinner service.

    While all of the new menu items sounded amazing, we chose the Saffron-Infused Seafood Bouillabaisse and Spice-Dusted Lamb Chops as our entrées. Both were delicious and prepared to perfection! I am looking forward to trying other entrée options available on the menu.

    Dessert is an amazing trio served on a platter with a ‘stained glass’ overlay that is edible. Every single bite was oh so delicious – but I do love my desserts!

    And, for everyone wanting to know… The Beast still receives Guests in the library following dinner but, as many have anticipated, Belle was not one of the new additions to this Signature Dining experience.

    I highly recommend the new prix fixe menu, my only disappointment was that they no longer do the “rose” napkins…

    For dinner service, Be Our Guest Restaurant is a Signature Dining experience which requires 2 Table Service Credits when using the Disney Dining Plan. Current pricing, when not using a Dining Plan, is $55.00 for adults ages 10+ and $35 for children ages 3-9, tax and gratuity are not included. Breakfast and Lunch are still Quick Service options but do require reservations as well.

    And here’s a little tip – if you reserve your dinner about 1 ½ hours before ‘Happily Ever After’ you will be able to view the fireworks show from the bridge just as you are leaving the Beasts’ Castle! #wishtips

    Minnie Van Service – Walt Disney World

    written by Crystal Boston, Travel Specialist

    Have you heard about the new ‘Minnie Vans’ at Walt Disney World? I recently had the opportunity to experience this new way to get around property.

    With the new ‘Minnie Van’ service, all vehicles are driven by Disney Cast Members and the vans are owned and operated by Disney. Service is offered from 6:30 am – 12:30 am daily (subject to change). Currently, you use your Lyft app to request a ride. Disney has a fleet of ‘Minnie’ Vans and offers originating rides from all resorts and locations on property, and plans to add the service to the My Disney Experience (MDE) app. It’s a good idea to have a Lyft account already set up on your phone before arriving for your vacation.













    New pricing went into effect mid-September 2018 – The flat rate of $15.00 plus a per mile fee will get you anywhere on property and, if you would like to tip your Disney Cast Member, tipping is also available through the Lyft app. See below for sample pricing from three resorts on property to Magic Kingdom.

    Note: Once on Disney property, your Lyft app should offer the ‘Minnie Van’ service as a vehicle option – scroll through the regular Lyft options to “More”. If you don’t see the Minnie Van option, just inquire at the front desk, any Cast Member at Bell Services or the front lobby desk can assist you with set up and questions.

    Once you are set up with the service, you are ready to request your first ride!

    You should plan to reserve your ride about 15 minutes before your preferred pick-up time as wait times can be 15-20 minutes. The standard ‘Minnie Vans’ will seat up to 6 guests and all carry 2 car seats and each will accommodate rear facing up to booster. Vans are configured with bucket seats in the front row, captain’s chairs in the second row, and a third row bench seat that is best suited for your little ones or smaller adults. All vans offer phone charging via USB ports, and rear seat climate controls to help you adjust the temperate to your liking. And our driver even had Disney music on the radio!

    If you require a mobility van, which will accommodate one mobility scooter/vehicle and up to a total of 8 guests, you will need to ask the front desk to request this type of van for you. There are 2 mobility vans currently in the fleet.

    The ‘Minnie Vans’ will only provide service on Disney property and they will make multiple stops if needed – for example, if you originate at Disney’s Boardwalk Resort and you have friends staying at Pop Century that you would like to stop and pick up – as long as you are all going to the same destination and you all fit in one vehicle you’re set! The ‘Minnie’ Vans will also make quick stops (around 5 minutes) at non-Disney locations on property, such as gas stations and McDonald’s.

    **UPDATED**The Disney ‘Minnie Van’ service, is now also available for travel to and from Orlando International Airport (MCO) for guests staying at any Walt Disney World Resort hotel. Unlike the regular ‘Minnie Van’ service, however, ‘Minnie Van’ airport shuttle service reservations must be made by calling 407-WDW-PLAY, not through the Lyft app. The shuttle service is available for flight arrivals from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m., and for flight departures from 9 a.m. to midnight. Each ‘Minnie Van’ can hold up to six passengers and eight medium-sized suitcases. Up to three complimentary car seats can also be provided and ADA accessible vehicles are available. The price is $150.00 one way.**UPDATED**

    If you are headed to experience the Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue, your ‘Minnie Van’ will drop you off right at The Campsites at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort so you can skip the bus. At Magic Kingdom, they drop off and pick up at Bus Stop #8 in the bus loop – however, the Lyft app will show Ticket & Transportation Center. At the larger resorts, the ‘Minnie Van’ will pick up and drop off close to your room. And, if you take a ‘Minnie Van’ to a destination on property from your designated originating resort you can absolutely request a return ride!

    If you happen to lose any items during your ‘Minnie Van’ ride, they will try to get your Lost & Found items back to the location closest to where you were dropped off or originated from.

    I would definitely suggest trying the ‘Minnie Van’ service, especially for early morning dining reservations, signature dining experiences where you a bit more dressed up or getting back to your resort at park closing after a full day of parks. It’s quick and convenient and, well, it’s just FUN to ride in that red polka dot ‘Minnie Van’!!

    *UPDATED: September 17, 2018 – Check back for future updates.

    The Pirate’s League

    Show your Pirate side the next time you visit Magic Kingdom park!

    Similar to the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique experience, which is for ages 3-12, The Pirates League is a makeover experience that the whole family (ages 3 and up) can enjoy together! Choose from pirate, empress or mermaid options, all with coordinating accessories to complete your makeover. Most pirate packages include facial makeup and hair, sword and The Pirates League logo sash, reversible bandanna, earring and eye patch, The Pirates League bag, temporary pirate tattoo, unique pirate coin necklace, pirate’s key, official pirate name and personalized pirate oath. The mermaid packages include luminous mermaid makeup and makeup palette and nail polish, mermaid hairstyle and color-changing hair clip, distinctive mermaid necklace, mermaid sash and bracelet.

    Our little pirate chose the zombie pirate makeover because it was scary. Your first task for your makeover is to determine your pirate name by spinning a wheel which turns a treasure chest to roll the dice. The num

    bers on the dice lead you to your pirate name.  Our zombie’s official pirate name was ‘Benjamin Sharkstench’.

    All of the ‘Pirate Masters’ are friendly and very good with the little ones, telling jokes and sharing pirate stories as they transform your pirate. If it’s your birthday, be sure to let them know and they whole crew will sing you a pirate birthday song!

    Once your makeover is complete, you are sworn in to The Pirates League and taken to a hidden chamber where your Pirate Master will surprise you with a bit of pirate treasure.

    Our little pirate enjoyed this makeover experience. One of his favorite parts was that during our day in the park everyone was looking at him and commented how awesome his face paint was.

    For the money and the experience, I highly recommend this makeover. It’s much easier to confirm a reservation than the Bibbidi Bobbidi Bo

    utique and adults can participate too – I think, one day soon, my husband and I might just have our own pirate makeover experience!

    The Pirates League is located between the entrance of Pirates of the Caribbean and Plaza del Sol Bazaar. Reservations are recommended and can be made up to 180 days in advance, packages start at $39.95.  Options for the basic pirate and mermaid packages can even include an entire pirate or mermaid outfit, for an additional charge.

    Pandora – The World of Avatar at Disney’s Animal Kingdom


    Pandora – The World of Avatar at Disney’s Animal Kingdom park opened on May 27, 2017 bringing a flight simulator based banshee attraction and boat ride through the landscape of Pandora.

    As you enter, you walk through the Valley of Mo’ara and the enormous floating mountains are all around you. The valley is also home to many unique species of plants that can only be found on Pandora. There is a Na’vi-built drum circle, containing instruments you can play, Na’vi totems and other cultural items found throughout the land as well as two new Wilderness Explorers challenges with badges to collect.

    This new land offers 2 new ride experiences as well as a Quick Service dining option, a beverage stand, and, of course, Pandora – The World of Avatar themed shopping experiences too!  Make sure you experience Pandora – The World of Avatar both in the day and at night because the land comes to life with beautiful bioluminescence each night!

    Rides:

    Avatar Flight of Passage (44″)
    This experience is an exhilarating, 3D ride where you fly on the back of a mountain banshee offering you a breathtaking, first-person flight over the moon’s incredible landscape. It is for those 44” and taller and is quite a thrilling ride. Once you enter, there is a pre-experience queue similar to DINOSAUR that is narrated by video conferencing but that is also interactive. Once you enter the flight room, you mount your own banshee and prepare to take flight. Many have compared this experience to Soarin’ but it is SO MUCH MORE! This is not just a view of the World of AVATAR; this ride truly immerses you in the land!  FastPass+ is highly recommended for this new experience.  Even if you don’t have FastPass+, the standby queue is quite amazing in itself!

    Na’vi River Journey
    This experience is a boat ride that takes you on a journey deep into a bioluminescent rainforest in search of the Na’vi Shaman of Songs that the whole family can enjoy.  It is similar to boat experiences at the other Walt Disney World parks.  The boats each have two rows that will comfortably seat 4 Guests each.  After coasting through a series of caves, and passing by exotic glowing plants and amazing creatures of the rainforest, you’ll soon find yourself face-to-face with the Na’vi Shaman of Songs. Your adventure comes to a conclusion as the Shaman demonstrates her deep connection to the life force of Pandora and sends positive energy out into the forest through the power of her music.

     
     
     
     
     

    Dining:

    The new Pandora – World of AVATAR dining and beverage options are Satu’li Canteen and Pongu Pongu, meaning “Party Party” in the language of the Na’vi. Both offer themed menu items with Satu’li Canteen offering Quick Service dining for breakfast, lunch and dinner and Pongu Pongu offering a quick stop for themed beverages. Of course, my favorite treat on the menu was the Blueberry Cream Cheese Mousse!

    Mobile Food Ordering:

    On opening day, Walt Disney World also introduced mobile ordering – only available at Satu’li Canteen. Simply find a table at the canteen area and, using your My Disney Experience Mobile App, you can easily place your order for food and beverage and will be notified via your app when your order is ready. You will only need to know your order number for pick-up. Currently, to use Mobile Order, your MDE account must have a credit card linked and all charges will be applied to the linked credit card – Disney Dining Plans and Gift Cards are not accepted. Mobile Order will expand to other quick service locations at Disney’s Animal Kingdom park this summer – and hopefully property-wide soon after!

    Entertainment:

    Entertainment on Pandora – The World of Avatar is focused around a Na’vi-built drum circle, containing instruments you can play, Na’vi totems and other cultural items found throughout the land. Swotu Wayä – which means “Sacred Place of Song” – is located in the heart of Mo’ara Valley and has the most beautiful backdrop of any stage at Walt Disney World! Performances are fun and interactive with a message of peace and can be seen every hour on the half starting at 10:30 am until 30 minutes before Pandora closes.  *Please check Time Guides for updated performance times.

    Shopping:

    For Pandora – The World of Avatar themed shopping, this new land offers Windtraders, which is the exit for Avatar Flight of Passage where you can choose from Na’vi cultural items, toys, science kits and more. And Colors of Mo’arais a retail kiosk that also offers Na’vi-inspired face-painting.

    Wilderness Explorers:

    While exploring Pandora – The World of Avatar, stop by the Wilderness Explorer stations and earn two new badges!

    Experiences at Night:

    Once darkness falls, the many unique and exotic plants of Pandora come to life with their beautiful bioluminescence in many different shades and patterns – even the ground you walk on is full of beautiful color! Look for interactive experiences throughout the land too – floating plants that respond to your arm movements and more. And it’s not only the colors that will surprise you, even the sounds of this amazing land change after sunset. As you move through Pandora at night you can occasionally hear the calls and footsteps of the many fantastic beasts that populate the nearby mountains.

     

     

    Maximize Your Time:

    There are some great ways to maximize your experience in The World of Avatar with extended theme park hours, “Extra” Extra Magic Hours for resort Guests and FastPass+!

    *TIP: Avatar Flight of Passage and Na’vi River Journey are both Tier 1 FastPass+ selections at Disney’s Animal Kingdom park. If you are only planning for one day at this park, I highly recommend FastPass+ for Avatar Flight of Passage and doing Na’vi River Journey as standby. However, if you are a resort Guest the “Extra” Extra Magic Hours may give you the opportunity to do both without FastPass+.

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    Photo credits: Crystal Boston, Missy Tillman, Debi Mitchell