If you didnât hear the good news, Disney has extended the Armed Forces Salute to cover the rest of 2015! Yay, Disney! Again! I have covered the Armed Forces Salute in a previous blog post, and this is an update of that post with the latest changes. Let me once again begin this blog post with a heartfelt thank you from me to Disney on behalf of our military personnel and their families. Iâve been a military spouse for 26 years now (and a military brat before that), and I understand the personal sacrifices that are made each and every day by Service members and their families. Itâs awesome that Disney recognizes it in some way as well.
Disney has sold slightly discounted (in the neighborhood of 5% off) tickets for the Armed Forces at military bases for many years. The last several years there has been a substantial additional discount on certain tickets for military, but with more restrictions (and much bigger savings). Once called the Armed Forces Salute, the last couple of years Disney hasnât really made a point of calling it anything other than a military discount. To distinguish between the ever present slightly discounted tickets and the steeply discounted tickets Iâll refer to it as the Armed Forces Salute.
The Armed Forces Salute can be a bit confusing. To be fair, the military has lots of categories of military personnel (active duty, Reserve, National Guard, retired, separated, Allied military assigned to the US, etcâŚ), so itâs no surprise there are lots of nuances to Disneyâs Armed Forces Salute.
1. Eligibility â Eligibility has changed over the years and actually seems clearer now. Â Any active duty or retired Service member, National Guardsman, Reservist, or Coast Guard is eligible. Foreign military assigned to US military bases (with a US ID card) in the United States are eligible, as are 100% disabled veterans with an ID card that says âDAV/PRIMâ and Medal of Honor recipients. If the eligible member is not present, their spouse is eligible. Thatâs it, though. No matter how deserving some other groups are (and there are many deserving groups), Disney did not choose to include those groups within this specific promotion. But, even within these rules there are complicated situations, so call Disney (or ask in the comments section below) if you still have questions.
2. Promotion Dates â The current Armed Forces Salute was scheduled to end on October 3, 2015 but Disney has now extended this promotion to end in December of 2015. The room discount will end December 23, 2015 and the tickets must be used by December 20, 2015. The Disney World tickets must be purchased by December 17, 2015 and Disneyland tickets by December 18, 2015.
The original Disneyland Band castle show has taken its final bow, but you can relive it with TouringPlans. (Photo and video by Seth Kubersky)
“Now it’s time to say goodbye” to one of the longest-running entertainment offerings in Disneyland history, as the Disneyland Band has disbanded, at least in it’s original form. Weeks ago, an “end of run” notice was filed with the musicians’ union that represents Disneyland Resort employees, notifying members of the historic 16-member marching band that they would have to reaudition for their roles (some of which they’d held for multiple decades) in a newly reorganized Disneyland Band, which will feature “a new sound” and “high-energy choreography.”
The classic Disneyland Band, which has been performing Americana classics since the park premiered in 1955, was originally expected to perform until the new one debuts at Disneyland’s official 60th birthday on July 17th. But (as reported by the “I Support Walt Disney’s Disneyland Band” Facebook fan page) the final performance of the full band under director Kurt Curtis was held on Monday, June 15.
The new Disneyland Band will be slightly larger, and feature 2 members of the original ensemble, while the rest will be redeployed in smaller musical groups (at least through the Diamond Celebration). That’s why I’m so grateful I stumbled into the band’s midday castle show during my recent Disneyland visit. While the microphones weren’t quite cooperating, this complete video of the Disneyland Band castle show should give you an idea why these performances were popular for generations:
In less than a month, we should have our first look at the all-new Disneyland Band, and if you are a fan of modern-day drum corps choreography, you should probably be looking forward to it. If not, keep an eye out for former Disneyland Band members as they pop up in new spots around the parks.
Get down with the goats and other Disneyland flora and fauna in this Best Week Ever! (Photos by Seth Kubersky)
Well, faithful Best Week Ever followers, I just flew in from Anaheim, and boy are my arms tired! (Hey, we can’t all be as funny as Derek Burgan.) I truly had one of my best weeks ever, as any week at the Happiest Place on Earth is pretty special.
I was visiting the Disneyland Resort to update the upcoming 2016 edition of The Unofficial Guide to Disneyland, and especially to review the parks’ new nighttime spectaculars. I had mixed feelings about some of the new after-dark additions, and you’ll shortly be able to read my full reviews of Paint the Night, Disneyland Forever, and World of Color — Celebrate! both online and in print. But something I have absolutely no hesitation endorsing is the wonderful world-famous Disneyland flora and fauna, which I enjoyed observing in abundance during my stay.
I know that most guests’ main interests at the Disney resorts are the rides and shows, and I love a ride on Radiator Springs RacersÂ or the Indiana Jones AdventureÂ as much as anyone. But some of the most magical Disney park memories I’ve ever made have involved the beautiful bounty of plants and animals — both carefully cultivated and amusingly untamed — that reside therein. And not to knock the Walt Disney World horticulture department, which does and impressive job (especially during the Epcot Flower and Garden Festival), but there’s just something awesomely intimate about the agricultural encounters I’ve experienced out west.
Picture from my disposable camera from my 1989 Disneyland trip (I am on the right).
Let me start by saying that I do not have childrenÂ of my own, nor do I travel anywhere with children. So, you’re probably wondering what makes me qualified to speak on the subject? Well, I do have one major qualification: I use to be one of those theme park children.
Even though I did not go to Disneyland a lot as a child (it was too expensive for my family), I did visit other Southern California theme parks quiteÂ often — specifically Knott’s Berry Farm and Universal Studios Hollywood. My parents managed to teachÂ me a lot about planning, having fun, and cherishing each experience, so below are the four strategies that I would like to pass along to you to help set up everyone in your family for a happy theme park experience.
Disneyland or Disney World? Welcome back to our four part series, where we are debating this very question. In case you missed it, in part one we took a look at some of the key differences between Disneyland and Disney World in the areas of size and scope, atmosphere, and weather. In part two, we examined the topics of crowds, pricing, and hotels. In part three, we compared planning, transportation, and the parks. In our fourth and final part, letâs conclude our side-by-side comparison of Disneyland Resort and Walt Disney World by discussing events, resort extras, and dining.
Disneyland Resort Events
The Disneyland Resort has lots of exciting happenings throughout the year. As well as offering several smaller events, Disneyland Resort is host to:
Lunar New Year: This is a fun celebration at California Adventure filled with festive decorations and entertainment.
Star Wars Half Marathon Weekend: This is a runDisney race event complete with Star Wars characters and entertainment.
New Orleans Square Mardi Gras: This is an exciting happening in the New Orleans Square of Disneyland complete with lively jazz music.
Tinker Bell Half Marathon Weekend: This is a themed runDisney race event filled with Never Land characters and entertainment.
Independence Day:This celebration has themed merchandise, tasty red-white-and-blue treats plus a dazzling fireworks show.
Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend:This is another incredible runDisney race event with courses that pass through both California Adventure and Disneyland.
Halloween Time:This event includes Disney villains, Halloween crafts, dance parties, yummy Halloween inspired treats, themed merchandise, and festive fall decorations.
Mickeyâs Halloween Party:This party is held on select nights in September and October and includes exciting dance parties, trick-or-treat stations, character meet and greats, and dazzling fireworks.
Avengers Super Heroes Half Marathon Weekend:This is another runDisney race event this time with a Super Heroes theme.
Holidays at the Disneyland Resort: This seasonal offering includes a special version of World of Color, holiday fireworks, a Christmas parade, snow on Main Street, U.S.A., holiday overlays to âitâs a small worldâ and Haunted Mansion, Sleeping Beauty Castle covered in sparkling icicle lights, themed treats and merchandise, and the entire resort adorned with festive decorations.
New Yearâs Eve Celebration: This event includes themed merchandise and treats, energetic dance parties, and a spectacular fireworks show.
If you had the opportunity to stay at a Disney theme park for 24 hours, what would be on your list of things to do? Food? Shows? Characters? Attractions? The theme park would be your oyster. Even if you are not able to stay up the full 24 you will have a few extra hours to experience things you mayÂ have never made the time for. Well, you will have your opportunity to experience a 24-hour Disney theme park comeÂ Friday, May 22. To kick off Disneyland’s 60th anniversary celebration, guests will be ableÂ to experienceÂ The Disneyland ResortÂ andÂ Walt Disney WorldÂ theme parks for an entire 24 hours.
During this special event, guests will have the chance to experience different attractions, shows, characters, and food that they would not normally have the time to experience. Since making your Disney theme parkâspecifically The Disneyland Resort–trip a unique experience is my niche, I have put together a list of Â 24 activities (since it is a 24-hour event…get it?) to fill your time during this event. Even if you do not plan on attending a Disney theme park during this time, it is still fun to just imagine the things you would do during this exciting celebration.
*DL= Disneyland Â Â *DCA= Disney California Adventure
1. Dine at the Blue BayouÂ (DL) –Â If you have never been to theÂ Blue BayouÂ before then this is the perfect time to experience one of the best restaurants in any Disney theme park. Even though there might be a long wait, that should not deter you because you will have a lot of time on your hands.
For some, the thought of flying on a plane with kids is simple and carefree.
For me, not so much.
Don’t get me wrong – I have an amazingly easy child who travels very well. Still, I would be lying if I didn’t admit prior to flying with her, I become a Nervous Nelly.
For those of you who can relate to my anxieties, here is a list of ideas and items for entertaining your child on a flight to Walt Disney World, Disneyland or anywhere else.Â Although who are we kidding, why go anywhereÂ else when you could go to some of the happiest places on earth? đ
The tiki drums are pounding, the tropical libations are now flowing, and there is cause for celebration. Trader Samâs Grog Grotto is now open at Disneyâs Polynesian Village Resort to the delight of Disney fans and tiki lifestylers. There is so much to love about this East Coast installment of a Disneyland Resort treasure. But as is always the case with siblings, there are some characteristics that set the two apart. These little touches give a difference that is just distinct enough between these two enchanted tiki destinations.
A Dream Come True
Before we begin our list of differences, let’s take a moment to look back. About three years ago I sat at the Tambu Lounge on the second floor of the Great Ceremonial House at Disneyâs Polynesian Resort. I nursed a tall frosty mix of tropical juices and rum; like so many Disney fans, Tambu Lounge had earned its place on my regular rotation of Disney bars & lounges.
Disneyland or Disney World? Welcome back to our four part series, where we will continue to debate this very question. In case you missed it, in part one we took a look at some of the key differences between Disneyland and Disney World in the areas of size and scope, atmosphere, and weather. In part two, we examined the topics of crowds, pricing, and hotels. In part three, letâs continue our side-by-side comparison of Disneyland and Disney World by discussing planning, transportation, and the theme parks.
Disneyland Resort Planning
Planning a trip to Disneyland is a fairly straightforward process. Letâs look at a basic timeline.
12 months or more in advance: This is the time to research where you would like to stay and book a hotel reservation or vacation package.
11 months or less in advance: If you are going to be flying to Disneyland, this is the time to start checking flights and booking one as soon as you find a great deal. Once your flight is reserved, you can book a rental car or make reservations for airport transportation. If you will be driving to Disneyland, this is the time to plan your route and make any hotel reservations that you will need for your journey to and from the resort.
3 months in advance: At this point, it is time to start researching restaurants and tours that interest you and make a list of reservations that you would like to book.
60 days in advance (exactly): This is the day you may begin booking dining reservations. Character Dining, Blue Bayou, and Napa Rose tend to fill up quickly and should be booked as soon as possible. If you did not reserve a vacation package that includes admissions and you plan to purchase your tickets in advance, this is a perfect time in order to allow for shipping. Purchasing admissions early is not a necessity in Disneyland, but it will save you a little bit of time once you arrive.
30 days in advance (exactly): This is the day you may begin booking any tours that you would like to try.
2 weeks in advance: This is a great time to research the attractions offered at DisneylandÂ and California Adventure, make a list of what you would like to experience, and create your personalized touring plans. Also take a few moments to put together a packing list so that you donât forget anything.
1 week in advance: Itâs now time to confirm all of your reservations, print your travel documents, and pack.
You’ve seen them everywhere…the prolific elongated rod where people attach a camera or a phone to a clamp to help them take a selfie. Ah…the good old selfie stick. Many have strong opinions either loving them or hating them. So,Â while the rule has always been in place that all personal items need to be stored prior to riding an attraction, it would seem, that with the number of these sticks you now see in the parks, that guests would need a reminder.
As the announcements go when boarding attractions, guests are to keep their hands, arms, feet, and legs inside the attraction vehicles at all time; this includes selfie sticks. (Or really anything that would stick up out of the moving attraction vehicle.)Â All guests’ personal belongings are to be properly stored when onboard an attraction, tram, or other moving vehicle. If a Cast Member sees a selfie stick while boarding an attraction, the guest will be asked to put it away.
On another note, if you are in a congested area, you should also consider refraining from utilizing your selfie stick.
Keep in mind, this is not a full on ban of selfie sticks at Walt Disney World or Disneyland; the best tip is to just be mindful of the guests around you.
While I am clearly going to be opening a can of worms asking this question: what are your thoughts on selfie sticks?