I can’t believe #Everywhere has come and gone. Our last few cruisers are off their ships and everyone is back on the clock. I hope everyone enjoyed all the live tweets from Walt Disney World, Disneyland, Disneyland Paris, Tokyo Disneyland, Disneyland Hong Kong, the DCL Magic, Wonder, Dream, and Fantasy, Aulani, Vero Beach, and my destination, Disney’s Hilton Head Island Resort, a Disney Vacation Club (DVC) property in Hilton Head, South Carolina.
So how was it? I can’t believe I didn’t go sooner and that it took “taking one for the team” to get me to check it out. Both my travel partner, Len Testa, and I were very happily surprised at how much we loved this resort. I’ll try to break down the review into logical sections, but first the small print – for all the #Everywhere trips, TouringPlans picked up the bill for lodging, transportation, and food. We booked at rates available to the public and didn’t receive any incentives from Disney or the travel agents we booked with beyond what anyone else would get. In the case of the three DVC resorts, those were all booked using my own points as opposed to booking with cash through Disney or renting through a 3rd party.
The photos on the Disney site, make Hilton Head Resort look like it’s really secluded. This is clever cropping though. The resort is at Shelter Cove Marina, which is a fairly commercial site with moorage, restaurants, retail, condos, and other resorts. Disney’s resort is on the edge of this area with the actual marina on one side and undeveloped marshland on the other. The clever thing about how the resort is situated is that once you’re actually there, you do feel like the resort is on its own island. As a coastal town, Hilton Head has mostly mild weather; you can see the forecast and weather history at Weather Underground.
There’s nothing like your first look at your first Disney cruise ship! (Photos by Seth Kubersky)
As part of the fantastic TouringPlans #Everywhere project, I recently had the amazing opportunity to experience my very first Disney Cruise Line vacation aboard the Disney Magic, on an unusual 7-day itinerary out of Puerto Rico. While I’ve previously stayed on-site in both Walt Disney World and Disneyland, and traveled with some of Disney’s competitors in the cruising and all-inclusive resort industries, this was my initial experience as a guest of DCL. Overall, I have to say that I went in with sky-high expectations, almost all of which I can happily report were met or exceeded. But that’s not to say there weren’t a few surprises along the way. Here are a handful of Disney Magic observations and advice from this first-time (but hopefully not last-time) DCL cruiser that may may your vigin voyage a little smoother.
I was in Tokyo Disneyland last week as part of TouringPlans Everywhere and got a chance to see the new nighttime spectacular that premiered earlier this year. The show is called Once Upon a Time and uses the same projection technology seen in Celebrate the Magic at Magic Kingdom in Walt Disney World and Disney Dreams in Disneyland Paris. Once Upon a Time is presented on to Cinderella Castle and features Mrs. Potts and Chip as they take the audience through various classic Disney animated films like Peter Pan and Alice in Wonderland, through newer films like Tangled and Frozen. Laser, fire and pyrotechnics also appear along with the projections on the castle. Personally I enjoyed the show quite a bit and thought each sequence was beautifully done. The show clocks in at almost 20 minutes long, so with Once Upon a Time, Tokyo Disneyland Electrical Parade AND fireworks the nighttime entertainment lineup at Tokyo Disneyland is sizable and impressive. But enough of what I think, take a look at our video of a full performance of the show:
Hi everyone! Welcome to the best week ever! While you’ll normally find me covering all the latest news at Walt Disney World, this week I had the amazing opportunity to visit Disney’s Vero Beach Resort as part of TouringPlans #Everywhere. This resort was one of a very few Disney locations I hadn’t visited and I was excited to check it out.
Vero Beach is a very easy drive from the Orlando International Airport. We clocked it at just shy of two hours. We could have been there a little sooner but noticed that Disney routes you around some of the less desirable parts of Vero Beach. In any case we were checked through the guard gates in just a matter of minutes and ready to start our fabulous beach weekend. Want to see more? Please click to keep reading!
Over the past few weeks and months you’ve probably read several articles on the upcoming big October event - TouringPlans #Everywhere. If not, here’s the skinny: during Columbus Day weekend, TouringPlans is sending its staff across the world to Disney destinations in order to collect content, meet our subscribers, and if we can squeeze it in, have some fun, too. Brian McNichols, my cohost of the Pardon the Pixie Dust podcast, is going to Disneyland. Gerelyn Reaves is going to the Aulani resort in Hawaii. Guy Selga is going to Tokyo Disneyland. And I’ll be going to the Disney Outlet Stores in Orlando. Just kidding, I’ll actually be taking my first ever trip on the Disney Cruise Line aboard the Disney Wonder.
Spoiler Alert: This is NOT the Disney Wonder, this is the Disney Dream.
Have you ever wanted a chance to hang with TouringPlans staff in locations throughout the globe? Sunday, October 12, is your opportunity. This is the day of TouringPlans #Everywhere. We will have our people posted at every Disney location in the world on the same day, blogging and tweeting for your reading pleasure. And we’d love to see you while we’re at it.
Here is where everyone will be available. All times are local. DCL meet ups may change due to what’s happening on the ship that day – watch Twitter for updates.
If possible, please RSVP via email to the person who’ll be there so we’ll have an idea what to expect:
Meet Up Locations
Europe Disneyland Paris – meet Brad Huber (developer and Saints fan) at 3:00 pm at the Market House Deli on Main Street in Disneyland Park. Email firstname.lastname@example.org.
When it comes to planning a Disney vacation, I have a somewhat odd perspective – I’m American, but spend most of the year in Tokyo for my husband’s job. Good News: Tokyo Disney visits! Also Good News: for my TouringPlans Everywhere trip, I’m headed to Hong Kong Disneyland!
…and I know nothing about Hong Kong. Go go planning skills!
Back in April, we announced a full day of Disney park coverage around the globe. I was lucky enough to get assigned to Disneyland Paris, aka “that place you go for a day when you need a break from Paris.” The park formerly known as Euro Disney gets a bad rap for its re-themed off-the-shelf carnival rides and boring cuisine (in a country known for inventing fine dining). But it also receives a ton of praise for having more exciting versions of other Disney Park roller coasters, like Space Mountain. I’ve also heard great things about the new Ratatouille ride. It seems like it has really been improving since Disney took a renewed interest in how this non-Disney owned park was being run back in 2012, and since our own Unofficial Guide to Paris was last published in 2010, it will be interesting to see exactly what’s improved in the last 4 years.
First and foremost, you need a passport. I have one, but it expires in November, and several people told me that even though my passport would technically be valid, some places won’t allow you to travel with a passport expiring within a few months. So if you are like me and took your first international trip 9 years and 9 months ago, renew your passport as soon as possible. It usually takes 4-8 weeks to arrive.
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.
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.
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: