A Few Disney News Bites

Hello everyone!  There are a number of little Junior News stories about Disney from the past week or two, so I’m going to toss them at you and ask: what are you most excited for?

1: The Jingle Cruise!

Disneyland and Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom will both be giving a holiday makeover to the classic Adventureland attraction, The Jungle Cruise. The holiday theming will begin “in early November”, so presumably sometime in the next week or two?  From Disney’s description:

In this new seasonal storyline of the attraction, the Skippers have grown homesick for the holidays, so they’ve added holiday cheer to the Jungle Cruise queue and boathouse with decorations that have been mailed to them from home (plus a few they’ve created themselves). The Skippers have also added a slew of new jokes to their tours that are the perfect way to get guests in the holiday spirit. Additionally, Jungle Cruise boats have been renamed with the holidays in mind, and if you listen carefully, you may hear a holiday-themed radio broadcast playing in the background.

My thoughts: I love the idea of a Jingle Cruise – I’m not sure why, I just do – but I’ve always been struck by how the Skippers on the Jungle Cruise are such smartasses. ;D  Somehow it seems weird to me that they’d be so sentimental as to get “homesick” and decorate for the holidays!  But that’s just me.  I’d still love to see this!  What do you think, are you for or against this makeover?

2: New Lounge at Hollywood Studios’s Brown Derby restaurant!

One of the nicer restaurants at Hollywood Studios, the Hollywood Brown Derby is now opening an outdoor patio lounge area for guests.  The area is shaded with umbrellas and menu offerings include beverages (alcohol included), small bites – that’s “fine dining” for appetizers – and some really luscious desserts:

Small bites are on the menu and include artisanal cheeses, charcuterie, duck confit tacos, steamed Prince Edward Island mussels, Derby Cocktail with jumbo lump blue crab, black tiger shrimp, avocado and a horseradish-tomato juice, and two Derby Sliders – a Wagyu beef slider with cognac mustard aïoli, smoked gouda cheese, bacon and avocado; and a house-made chorizo slider with chipotle mayo, manchego cheese, pickles and crispy onions.

You can also just stop for dessert, with Chocolate Three Ways (praline milk chocolate cream, crunchy ganache and orange-chocolate mousse), a banana-white chocolate toffee tower on a cocoa-almond cookie and bananas Foster, or strawberry Champagne cheesecake.

Reservations are not accepted and the lounge won’t take the Disney Dining Plan – this is important to know.  The Brown Derby is on the DDP for *meals*, but not lounge.  However, if you have Tables In Wonderland, it applies!

My thoughts: I’m boring and I don’t go to lounges. I should! but I don’t.  I’m a park commando most of the time, because I need to fill up on Disney experiences while I’m there. Then I think of all the things I missed once I’m back home. 😉

3: Reimagined Disney Magic!

Image (c) The Walt Disney Co./Disney Cruise LInes

Image (c) The Walt Disney Co./Disney Cruise Line

The Disney Magic has been relaunched (cautiously!) with new sailings out of Miami, Florida.  The ship has not been just refurbished, but reimagined, with new spaces and activities and experiences all over the place.  Among the most exciting are the AquaDunk, a water ride that begins with a VERY sudden drop – the floor opens beneath you! – and the Avengers Experience, a kids’ section of the boat with activities and Marvel Comics characters such as a Captain America meet & greet!

My thoughts: They had me at “Cruise ship”. 🙂

So?  What are you most excited about?  Are there any that inspire a yawn and a pass?  Leave a comment and let me know!

Travel Tip Tuesday: What is a VGT Room Rate?

This is the first in what might be a sort-of series, which I call “Know before you go”!  It might be a series and it might just be this one post, we never know with me and that’s the fun. 😉  Anyway, here I aim to give some extra details on things that might be unclear when you travel or are planning a trip.

For this post, I’m going to start out with a particular kind of cruise rate on the Disney Cruise Line called a “GTY” or “*GT”.  This can be in the form of IGT, OGT or VGT and they all mean the same thing: GuaranTeed stateroom. IGT is for Inside Staterooms, OGT is for Oceanview Staterooms, and VGT is for Verandah Staterooms.

I am onboard with this offer. (Get it? Onboard? GET IT?)

I am onboard with this offer. (Get it? Onboard? GET IT?)

Now that it’s explained what it stands for, what does it mean?  Why would you need to know this?

In answer to the first question, these acronyms are used for room rates that are a significant discount off of the full rate for those stateroom types.  They are usually released just a short while before the cruise sets sail, in order to sell off rooms. (It is TOTALLY legit; this is not a “stay away from this offer it’s a scam” or anything. It’s a great deal so long as it fits your requirements!)  To answer the second question: you need to know this because sometimes you will run into this amazing great deal and you’ll see “OGT” or whatever, and you won’t know what it means, and you won’t bother to find out, and you’ll just book the amazing rate.  And the reason it’s important to know this is because the GT rates come with restrictions.

There are numerous ones, but the most important ones to know in advance are this:

– They must be paid in full at the time of booking
– The booking must be completely new
– The rates are non-refundable
– The rates are non-transferable
– You do not get to pick your stateroom or even where on the ship it is
– Your stateroom is assigned to you when you check in so no info is available in advance except that it’s guaranteed and it will be an Inside, Oceanview, or Verandah (depending on what GT you booked)

It’s kind of like Priceline, you have to be in a state where you can say “Okay, I am DEFINITELY ABSOLUTELY taking this trip and I don’t really care what I get as long as it’s on the boat”, and then you get what you get.  Having said that I haven’t seen many people say “I got a VGT stateroom and it was awful!” – it’s been the reverse, in fact – so, although it’s a gamble, it appears to be one worth taking.  But you do need to know what you are getting beforehand.  Hence the purpose of this blog post. 🙂

Last thing to note: there are not always GT rates available on a particular cruise, so it’s not a great idea to bank on them opening up if you have already picked out the cruise dates you want and don’t have any flexibility.

Dancing on the beach is optional with this rate.

Dancing on the beach is optional with this rate.

Contact Fairytale Journeys by Rebecca Kelly for free travel advice, booking assistance, research and more!  I can help you find the best rate, find out things to do, and be sure to explain any restrictions up front.  No cost to you!  Follow on Facebook or Twitter, or email me!

Promotional Consideration!

Code words for “Travel Agent Post!”

If you’ve been following for a long time you know that I’m not only a Disney fanatic but also a travel agent specializing in Disney vacations – I’m affiliated with Fairytale Journeys, an Earmarked/Authorized Disney Vacation Planner. (Disclaimer: I’m NOT affiliated with Disney. Very few of us independent TAs are unless you count our undying devotion and belief in what we’re promoting. *G*)

Anyway, from time to time I offer promotions for particular kinds of bookings.  Some are bigger than others; a few days ago on a whim I decided to do a quickie but biggie.  From now until the end of August, I’m offering a shipboard credit worth at least $50 for any Disney Cruise line booking to the first person who contacts me to book.  ANY!  With the potential for MORE than that, depending on the final cost of the cruise fare!  It’s not dependent on where you go, when you go, how many people are sailing – you will get at least $50 in shipboard credit from me.

This could be yoooooouuuu! Img (c) Walt Disney Co.

This could be yoooooouuuu! Img (c) Walt Disney Co.

But this only goes to the first person who contacts me before September 1, 2013.  You don’t have to book by then, just contact me, and if/when you do book I’ll have a note in your file about the credit and make sure it’s applied for your trip.  Most amenities on the cruise ships are included, but you can use this for shopping, for spa treatments, for cocktails, and more!

The second and third people to contact me about booking a cruise will receive $25 each (or more, again depending on the total cost, but that first $25 is guaranteed!) if they book.  This is a special offer and is not standard with all cruise bookings, so you’ll want to act now to take advantage of it!  If you’re on the fence, you can contact me with any questions you have, and I’ve got materials I can send you (Disney’s Cruise planner DVD, brochures, and so on!) if you’d like.

Literally the greatest thing I can think of right now. Img (c) The Walt Disney Co.

Literally the greatest thing I can think of right now. Img (c) The Walt Disney Co.

There is NO bad time to take a cruise!  However, just as a hint, you’ll get the best fares around January-February, and in October.  Coincidentally, October is a great time to go, because this year they are holding Halloween themed parties on all four Disney Cruise ships, and a full-on Halloween cruise experience on the Disney Dream!  For an ultimate experience, you can book a land and sea vacation with a Disney Halloween cruise and a Walt Disney World stay… Tickets for Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party are still available, as are plenty of delicious experiences at Epcot’s Food & Wine Festival!

Contact me for quotes; you can email me at rebeccak@fairytalejourneys.com, message me on Facebook, or leave a comment here!

A quick aside: I don’t anticipate having any bookings that would not qualify for the $50 credit; however, there are always unanticipated situations that pop up and I reserve the right to not apply this offer if such a situation arises. This would be in a case where, for some reason, the credit ended up costing me significantly more than what I would earn on the booking.  Again, I don’t anticipate this situation occurring but in case it does. Thanks for understanding!

Fairytale Journeys by Rebecca Kelly – March 2013 Special Offer

This is an Advertisement.

But really, it's my ad, not yours.

But really, it’s my ad, not yours.

As I’ve mentioned occasionally here, I’ve recently become a Disney Travel Agent with Fairytale Journeys.  This service is free and encompasses pretty much whatever you want – the only thing I absolutely NEED to do is put your booking in for you.  Otherwise, you can plan out as much as you want, and whatever you don’t want, I’ll pick up the slack.  Want to do everything?  Okay!  I’ll still be here for advice and quick question answers.  Want to do nothing?  No problem!  I can book hotels, flights, rental cars, ADRs, tickets, the works.

Well, I know what you’re thinking – “If I do everything, why should I use a travel agent and let them get paid for doing nothing?”  Two reasons: one, I get travel updates directly from Disney, so I get the latest news as it comes out; and two, this month, I’m running a special offer where, if you book with me – meaning you don’t have to pay in full this month, but we do need to do the preliminary booking – you get a free gift.  In other words, if you book with me, YOU get something for nothing… Plus, of course, your Disney vacation!

The options vary depending on the cost of the vacation you book, but they break down in price ranges: $500-$1749 gets a gift worth up to $25, $1750-$3499 gets a gift worth up to $50, and $3500 or more is worth up to $75!

What, I now hear you thinking, are these gifts you’re promising?  Is this a timeshare?

No.  It is not a timeshare.  You can leave this presentation at any time, I won’t even notice.  And I certainly won’t get hostile and rude and blame you for wasting the past three hours or something that you never actually ASKED me to spend trying to sell this timeshare to you.  …Not that this has ever happened to me, ahem.

But yes – the gifts.  You have the option of either selecting a gift card (Disney or Visa) in the exact amounts above – no “up to”, just $25, $50, or $75 – or picking out some Disney merchandise which I will buy for you and have shipped to you. (that’s where the “up to” comes into it.)  I can’t list everything you can choose from here, but a few samples:

Gourmet Mickey Mouse tea kettle – $40

I have to say, that's a nice kettle. Well, then again, I picked this image out so I guess it's not a surprise I like it. Pic is (c) Disney Store.

I have to say, that’s a nice kettle. Well, then again, I picked this image out so I guess it’s not a surprise I like it. Pic is (c) Disney Store.

Vinylmation Figures – $10 ea.

So darn CUTE.  Image (c) The Disney Store.

So darn CUTE. Image (c) The Disney Store.

Dooney & Burke Wristlet Bag – $60

Other varieties available. Image (c) The Disney Store.

Other varieties available. Image (c) The Disney Store.

Mickey Mouse Messenger Tote – $30

I love messenger bags!  Though I don't know what you're a messenger of. Image is (C) The Disney Store.

I love messenger bags! Though I don’t know what you’re a messenger of. Image is (C) The Disney Store.

Donald Duck: The Original Angry Bird t-shirt – $33

Oh, Donald, I love you. :) Image is (c) The Disney Store.

Oh, Donald, I love you. 🙂 Image is (c) The Disney Store.

(Just to avoid ANY confusion: I am not selling these, I don’t currently have them in my possession, I picked a few nice-looking things from the website.  What’ll happen is you’ll decide what you want and I’ll order it at full price and have it shipped to you as a gift.  I am NOT selling Disney merchandise, on this site or any other!)

There are a few caveats: these come FROM ME and are not provided by Disney or by Fairytale Journeys.  In order to be eligible for the gift you have to book with me in March, but the gift will be delivered after travel occurs to avoid any problems such as unforeseen cancellations, etc.  Also, as much as possible, the price of any merchandise selected should include shipping costs (ie the Dooney & Burke back – $60 plus $10 for shipping, total cost = $70).   Unless for something small, such as Vinylmation, please don’t request multiple items to try to make an exact price.

So there’s your opportunities!  This offer expires after March 31, 2013, possibly never to return… so call me, maybe? (I kind of hate myself for writing that.)  How about: so get in touch please and let’s talk Disney!  I can help smooth out your details, or I can just gab with you about what a great trip you’re going to have!  I love all of it, so I hope to work with you!
Email: rebeccak@fairytalejourneys.com
Website: http://fairytalejourneysbyrebecca.weebly.com
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/FairytaleJourneysByRebeccaKelly

Disney Dreams: Stuff I’d Like to do, Cruise Edition

I will be here someday, looking at this in person. Oh yes I will.  (I did not take this picture.)

I will be here someday, looking at this in person. Oh yes I will. (I did not take this picture.)

A few years ago when my daughter was 2, just before my husband and I started trying to have our second child, there was a really amazing deal on Disney Cruises.  Since we’d only be paying for ourselves (due to our daughter being 2, as mentioned), we seriously considered it, but there ended up being too many unresolved issues.  Mainly, like, how would we pay to get down to FL from MD?  How would we do it, fly or drive?  Since our daughter wasn’t completely potty-trained she couldn’t go into most of the pools and couldn’t be left in the kid clubs.  Would she be upset by this?

In the end we decided to save our money for a bigger, longer trip to WDW, and go to the beach for a few days.  And we had fun.  Even though there was no Mickey there.

The thing is, though, that in the four and a half years since that time I have wondered over and over, what if we had gone?  I’ve never been on a cruise of any kind, and I’ve never been to the Bahamas.  Should we have thrown caution to the wind, only lived once, and taken that opportunity when we had it?

So instead I’ve made myself a promise, that if ever we do have the money available and that opportunity comes back, we are TAKING it.  Both kids are old enough, and yes we’d have to pay for both but if we HAVE the money then that’s not a problem.

And now, the opportunities are so much more amazing.  Four and a half years ago there were only two ships, not four: no Disney Dream or Disney Wonder.  No Aquaduck.  No European cruises and Greek Isles.   No magic portholes.  If I can only go once (and Lord willing, I will go more than once, but I did say IF), I’d rather it be now than a few years ago just so I can get to do these new things.

The problem with the whole “once in a lifetime” idea is that I have a few too many things I’m intent on doing.  I want to go to Castaway Cay AND the Meditarranean AND Italy.  I want to see castles AND beaches.  And as many doggone characters as I can!  And I want a room with a verandah, so that every morning I can step out and feel the wind in my hair and just sigh.  Just one big, happy sigh before I head on out for breakfast on my perfect boat.