TouringPlans Everywhere

TouringPlans #Everywhere: My Disney Cruise Line Info Booklet

by on September 23, 2014

Disney Cruise Line Info Booklet

Halloween on the High Seas has taken over the Disney Cruise Line info booklet. (Photos by Seth Kubersky.)

My first-ever DCL cruise on the Disney Magic is only weeks away, and I recently received the Disney Cruise Info Booklet that indicates your trip is just around the corner. The booklet arrived not long after I made my shore excusion reservations — and adventure in itself I’ll detail below — and seeing our selections in print only increased my anticipation.

If you’ve never been on a Disney Cruise, you may be interested in seeing what their welcome mailer looks like, since it’s the customer service touches like this that separate DCL from its competitors. And if you’ve sailed with the Mouse a million times, you’ll notice a change to the packet, just in time for the spooky season.

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How I’ll Get to Port Canaveral – TouringPlans #Everywhere

by on September 19, 2014

Photo by Nick Mitchell

Photo by Nick Mitchell

I’m heading to Port Canaveral to get on the Disney Dream on Sunday, October 12, and – once I’m on the ship – things seem pretty easy since there is plenty to do: I’ll eat, swim, play shuffleboard, etc. As I wrote in April, the challenge for me is getting to Port Canaveral. Over the past three months, I’ve made a few decisions, and I want to walk you through my calculations. The Internet is a place where people freely mock others’ ideas and decisions, so I welcome your thoughts.

Decision 1: When to Arrive and Leave?

I am going to arrive in Central Florida on the day before my cruise. Everyone recommends this, and since it’s a requirement of my job to get on the Disney Dream on time, I’ll minimize my chances of literally missing the boat, even though it will cost an extra $100-200 for a hotel room and food on Saturday.

After my cruise, I’d love to extend the magic by visiting Walt Disney World for a few days. Even though I have a Tables in Wonderland card that expires on October 31 that I’m tempted to exploit for more “value,” after running the numbers I couldn’t pull this off at a price I’m willing to stomach. If I stayed at Disney World for 4 days/3 nights after my cruise, it would run me roughly:

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TouringPlans #Everywhere – I’m Going to Vero Beach Resort!

by on August 22, 2014

©Disney

©Disney

Many, many months ago an article was posted announcing the coolest project ever. A group of Touring Plans bloggers was going to take the Disney universe by storm, dropping one of us in every location around the world for a first of its kind blogging event. It’s called TouringPlans #Everywhere, and much like all of you I was looking forward to reading about it. Imagine my shock and absolute delight when I was invited to join the event by heading to Vero BeachI’m still pinching myself, and the best part is I get to take you all with me!

So what have I done to plan? Well, I suppose writing this article is a start. To be fair, I’m planning a vacation to Tokyo Disneyland first that has been taking up most of my time. Also, since Vero Beach is just a couple hours away, it doesn’t feel like a vacation that needs a ton of planning. It feels more like a beach weekend where you don’t pack more than your bathing suit. I don’t want that to make it sound like I’m not excited, though. If you can believe it, when I’m heading to Vero Beach it will be the only Disney location aside from Hong Kong I haven’t visited! So let’s take a look at what’s there:

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TouringPlans Everywhere: Budgeting for A Tokyo Disneyland Trip

by on August 12, 2014

cinderella-castle-rear-tokyo-disneyland-guests-posing-640x514A couple of weeks ago I posted an introduction to my upcoming trip to Tokyo Disneyland as part of TouringPlans Everywhere. In this post I will talk about how much each component of the trip costs and share a time line of my different planning stages.

The earliest stage of planning for my trip to Tokyo began back January of this year. The idea of every TouringPlans employee taking a trip to a different Disney destination was thrown around, and we were asked to get a rough estimate on how much a trip would cost. When I was assigned Tokyo, I knew I would want to stay beyond the 4 days the company was paying for. My wife and I discussed how many days we could actually afford to go, and we ended up settling on 8 nights. Anyway, like I said , my first step was to get an estimate, so I started searching for hotel rooms and airfare to get a basic idea. After quickly going through a few travel websites (I was just getting an estimate so I didn’t shop around too much), I figured the total cost would be around $5825. Breaking it down, my estimates were $2500 for airfare, $2000 for hotel rooms, $1000 for food, $325 for park tickets, and $600 for transportation in Japan. That total price is too high for my wife and I to afford, so I knew we would have to adjust the plans or get lucky and find some deals to save us some cash.

Time line

1/14/14 – Very early on in my trip planning I was shopping around for hotels in the Tokyo Disney Resort area. Like any major city or theme park, Tokyo Disney Resort has many hotels with a wide variety of price ranges to choose from. I started to see some good deals for just a little over $100 a night. This would save us some money, but if we stayed at them we would have to take some form of transportation in to the resort. As I mentioned in my last post, there are several hotels on Tokyo Disney Resort property that are also located near a Disney monorail station. After comparing prices at the six non-Disney-branded hotels, the lowest price ended up being the Hilton Tokyo Bay. Hilton.com listed rooms at $171 a night, so we whipped out the credit card and locked in our dates. However, we knew we wanted to splurge a bit and stay in a Disney-branded hotel for at least one night, so we only booked three nights at the Hilton.

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TouringPlans #Everwhere: Dining in Disneyland…HELP!

by on August 6, 2014

Photo Courtesy Guy Selga, Jr

Photo Courtesy Guy Selga, Jr

This is the fourth in my series of printed histrionics about my first ever trip to Disneyland as part of TouringPlans.com’s desire to take over the world visit every Disney-run location in the world. I previously wrote about my general excitement, how I budgeted for the trip to California, and the random things I expect to find as a first time visitor to Disneyland. This post is all about choosing my dining in Disneyland, specifically for any meals where I may need a reservation.

I am about 2 months away from my Disneyland trip (I know because my kids have been counting down for over a month already). If I were traveling to Walt Disney World, at this point I would have all of my Advance Dining Reservations, FastPass+ attraction reservations, morning alarms set with precise wake-up times, and my pacemaker linked with Disney’s new heart rate excitement inducement program. Things are a bit different out west; there are no FastPass+ reservations (at least not yet), and dining reservations can only be made 60 days in advance.

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TouringPlans #Everywhere: I’m Going to Aulani!

by on August 5, 2014

Aulani                                                                                            ©Disney

Aulani ©Disney

Imagine this – you get a call from Len asking if you would like to go to the Disney Aulani resort in Hawaii. Really? Of course, the answer is YES! Aulani, is a Disney Resort & Spa in Ko Olina, Hawaii, located just 17 miles from the Honolulu International airport and close to Waikiki. Unlike most of Disney’s other destinations, there are no rides at Aulani, but the resort is designed with families in mind with the intent to immerse all guests in Hawaiian culture, history and traditions.

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TouringPlans #Everywhere: I’m Going to Hilton Head

by on July 29, 2014

©Disney

©Disney

Welcome back to the latest news about our big October eventTouringPlans #Everywhere. As a recap, during Columbus Day weekend, TouringPlans is sending our staff far and wide (some far-er and wider than others) to Disney destinations throughout the world to collect content, meet our subscribers, maybe have some fun while we’re at it.

Speaking of people who aren’t traveling very far, I will be visiting the Disney’s Hilton Head Island Resort, a Disney Vacation Club property. This is roughly 5 hours from my home in North Carolina, and I drive past Hilton Head, SC, every time I’m on my way down I-95 heading to Florida. I’ve always felt a little guilty about never stopping by because I’m a DVC member and believe I should experience all the resorts. (After October, Vero Beach and Aulani will be the only ones left.)

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TouringPlans Everywhere – I’m Going to Tokyo Disneyland!

by on July 24, 2014

Photo courtesy of Tom Bricker

Photo courtesy of Tom Bricker.

Back in April we announced that TouringPlans will be spending a weekend in every Disney-operated destination on the planet. The powers that be (Ed. – your naiveté is adorable, please let Len keep thinking he’s in charge around here) have assigned me to a destination I have always dreamed about visiting. I can finally say “I’m going to Tokyo Disneyland!”

Tokyo Disneyland has always been a bit of a mythological and mysterious place to me. In the late 80s and early 90s (before I had the internet in my home) I would always see glimpses of it in the old Disney News Magazines. The pictures I saw of the park made it look similar, but different enough that it always held my curiosity. Tokyo Disneyland continued to stay on my mind in 2001 when Tokyo Disney Resort’s second gate opened, DisneySea. Every picture I’ve seen of DisneySea make the park look absolutely spectacular. Anyway, back to the Tokyo resort being mysterious to me. I think one of the most daunting tasks most people have when they think about visiting Tokyo Disneyland is that they don’t even know where to start with their planning. I know I was the same way. Hopefully this and future blog posts I write on this subject will help you plan a trip to Japan. That’s my goal.

I’m a native to Los Angeles, California, and have been visiting the original Disneyland since 1986. This will not only be my first time visiting Tokyo Disneyland, but also my first time traveling out of the country. My wife will be making the trip with me, and because it also her first time in Japan, we will take advantage of doing some non-Disney sightseeing in Tokyo and Osaka.

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TouringPlans #Everywhere: What I Expect From Disneyland

by on July 10, 2014

All photos courtesy of Guy Selga, Jr

All photos courtesy of Guy Selga, Jr

In my past few posts about the fabulous TouringPlans #Everywhere adventure, I discussed my excitement about going to Disneyland and how I went about budgeting for my trip. This article is going to be very different because I’m going to get into my expectations, hopes, and fears about Walt’s first park.

Even though the October trip will be my first to Disneyland, no Disney parks fan can be completely ignorant of what goes on out west. Over the years I have built up quite a mental database of things that I think I think about the Disneyland Resort, in the process pushing old stuff out of my brain such as the state capital of Minnesota. Some of the things below I know for sure and some are speculation, but all are rhetorical. That’s right–I’m not looking for any confirmation or contradiction whatsoever to the ideas below. I will find out in a few short months and follow up with my findings then, please allow me to continue my limited ignorance (about Disneyland. My general ignorance is boundless).

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TouringPlans #Everywhere: I’m cruising the Southern Caribbean on the Disney Magic from Puerto Rico

by on June 7, 2014

#Everywhere Disney Magic Southern Caribbean Puerto Rico

I’m taking a TouringPlans #Everywhere trip on the Disney Magic!

¡Hola mis amigos! As you may have already heard, the TouringPlans team will be spreading out all over the Mickey-loving world for next October’s #Everywhere project, and I was lucky enough to be selected to sail the Southern Caribbean on the Disney Magic out of Puerto Rico. I’m excited because this trip represents a few firsts for me. I’ve cruised previously with other companies, but am a Disney Cruise Line virgin, so I can’t wait to see if their legendary reputation for service actually exceeds my less-than-perfect prior experiences with their competitors. Also, this will be my first time cruising from a departure point other than Port Canaveral (which is an easy drive from my home), necessitating air travel and a hotel stay. This post is my first entry in a brief series explaining how I’m approaching these issues, in hopes of helping any readers out there who may be contemplating a similar itinerary someday!

Disney Magic Southern Caribbean Itinerary

The Disney Magic, which was extensively refurbished last year, spent the summer of 2014 sailing around the Mediterranean, and will cruise the eastern and western Caribbean out of Port Canaveral from Halloween through next spring. But the 7-night cruise I’m on is somewhat unique, and calls for a different kind of introduction…It is one of only 4 scheduled Southern Caribbean itineraries departing from San Juan, Puerto Rico. (This port is also visited by the Disney Fantasy during some of its 7-Night Eastern Caribbean cruises.)

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