Posts Tagged ‘celebration’

Seth Kubersky’s Best Week Ever July 23, 2014: An Evening with Jodi Benson

by on July 23, 2015

Jodi benson best week ever

Spend an evening with Jodi The Little Mermaid Benson in the best Best Week Ever ever! (Photos by Seth Kubersky)

The hyperbolic title of this column is intended to be tongue in cheek, but every so often I truly do experience something that qualifies for the Best Week Ever superlative. Last Sunday night certainly qualifies, since — thanks to a contest conducted by Shelly Valladolid via her Fabulous Disney Babe column on — I had the once-in-a-lifetime chance to meet a real-life Disney heroine. Part of Your World: An Evening with Jodi Benson at the Bohemian Hotel in Celebration, afforded 60 guests an intimate audience with Jodi Benson, original voice of Disney’s The Little Mermaid, over an excellent three-course meal, as she told stories, answered questions, posed for photos, and (best of all) performed a mini-concert of songs by Howard Ashman and Alan Menken.

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2015 Celebration of Harry Potter Schedule and Autograph Session Information

by on January 16, 2015

Celebration of Harry Potter schedule and autograph information

Plan your Celebration of Harry Potter weekend with event schedules and autograph advice.

If Dani’s recent blog post about Universal Orlando‘s upcoming Celebration of Harry Potter event inspired you to attend, you’re probably looking for some hard information on the weekend-long fan convention kicking off at Universal Studios Florida on January 30th. Fear not, muggles, because we’ve found the full details on the Celebration of Harry Potter schedule and autograph session information to help you snag some face time with your favorite wizarding stars.


Celebration of Harry Potter Basic Information

The Celebration of Harry Potter, scheduled for January 30 through February 1, 2015, brings Harry Potter fans together with the actors and artists who helped create the blockbuster franchise. Similar to sci-fi and comic book conventions held around the country, the Celebration features panel discussions and question & answer sessions where guests can see some of the series’ stars in person, and possibly get an autograph. Confirmed participants in 2015 include Michael Gambon (Dumbledore), Robbie Coltrane (Hagrid), Evanna Lynch (Luna Lovegood), and James and Oliver Phelps (Fred and George Weasley). Paul Harris, the choreographer who created “wand combat” for Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, will also attend to lead popular masterclasses in wizard dueling.

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Disney World Situational Celebration Guide

by on July 14, 2014

Many guests plan Disney World trips, either in whole or in part, to celebrate an event. This phenomenon is such a truism that Disney even planned their 2009/2010 marketing campaign around the theme “What Will You Celebrate?”

While Walt Disney World is indeed a great place to celebrate, not all Disney celebrations should look the same. You’re not going to celebrate your daughter’s first birthday the same way you’re going to celebrate Grandma and Grandpa’s 50th wedding anniversary. Here’s a guide to constructing the perfect celebration for common situations.

Different situations call for different celebrations.

Different situations call for different celebrations.


Who should be there?: The birthday boy/girl, mom and dad, siblings, possibly grandparents.

Where should we stay?: The monorail hotels (Contemporary, Grand Floridian, Polynesian) are great because you won’t have to fold your stroller to get to the Magic Kingdom. But if that’s not in the budget, try a family suite at Art of Animation or All-Star Music, or a cabin at Fort Wilderness because you’ll have a separate room where the baby can nap undisturbed. At the moderate level, the standard rooms at the Coronado Springs resort have a sliding wooden door between the bed area and the bath area, creating a de facto mini-room which can serve as a nap area. The value resorts, with their small square footage, may be a challenge during this trip because your Pack n’ Play will take up a substantial percentage of your living area.

Where should we eat?: Chef Mickey’s (breakfast or dinner). The boisterous atmosphere will muffle any cranky noises the birthday child might make. Since it’s a buffet, it won’t seem odd if you’re walking around a bit, also you’ll have lots of food options for fussy eaters.

What should we do?: Character photos! This is the perfect time for pictures juxtaposing little toddler next to a giant mouse. Cuuuute!

What should we buy?: Mouse ears embroidered with junior’s name (another perfect photo opportunity!).

Helpful hints: The celebrant is likely pre-verbal, so there will not be any direct memories being made for the child. Focus on making mom and dad comfortable (traveling with an infant can be exhausting) and taking lots of great photos to help convey your family’s Disney/birthday story when the little one is old enough to understand.

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PotterWatch: Diagon Alley Peep Holes and Celebration Recap

by on February 3, 2014

Universal Harry Potter Diagon alley peep holes

Diagon Alley peep holes, Celebration videos, and Gringotts rumors in the latest PotterWatch report

It’s been just over a week since Universal Orlando‘s big Wizarding World of Harry Potter — Diagon Alley webcast reveal, but there are still plenty of surprises in store. For this edition of PotterWatch, we’ll take a look through the new Diagon Alley peep holes that Universal considerately cut in the London Waterfront’s construction wall, plus a look back at the recent Celebration of Harry Potter event via some exclusive video. Finally, we’ll finish up with a few hot new Gringotts rumors.

Diagon Alley Peep Holes

With major construction complete on Diagon Alley’s London Waterfront facade, and the scaffolding recently removed, I had feared there wouldn’t be much left to see in terms of exterior progress on the project.

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Disneyland’s Splash Mountain Turns 24 Today

by on July 17, 2013

Image copyright Disney

Every serious Disney fan knows that Walt's original Disneyland park celebrates its 58th birthday today (July 17, 2013). But did you know that one of the resort's iconic E-tickets is also marking an anniversary today?

According to Disney historian Jim Korkis, Splash Mountain opened at Disneyland on today's date in 1989, while the Walt Disney World version debuted on this same date, 3 years later. (The official dedication for WDW's version was on October 2, 1989, but today's date marked the start of its “soft opening”).

For more information about Splash Mountain and the controversial film that inspired it, read Korkis' book Who's Afraid of the Song of the South?, or (if you happen to be in the Orlando area) stop by the Winter Park Library on Sunday for an informative free lecture from the author.

Whichever coast you are on, be sure to swing by your Laughing Place today, and have a Zip-a-dee-doo-dah day!


Trip Planning 101: Celebrating at Walt Disney World

by on October 31, 2011

Your birthday! Your anniversary! Your graduation! Your retirement! Your recovery! Your promotion! Your reunion! Your return from service! Your new baby! Your college acceptance! Your big win! Your engagement! Your honeymoon! Your new job! Those are just a few of the reasons people celebrate. And they’re also some of the reasons people celebrate at Walt Disney World.

When I’ve answered questions for the Walt Disney World Moms Panel, one of the most frequently asked types of questions was, “I’m celebrating X event at Walt Disney World. What can I do to make it special?” So what’s the answer? How can you make a celebration special at Walt Disney World?


Please consider that you need not jump through any magical hoops to make a Disney celebration special. A trip to Walt Disney World is special all by itself. Space Mountain and a hug from Mickey! Seriously, life really can’t get much better than that. If you’re celebrating something for a child or a first-time guest, just walking through the front gates of the Magic Kingdom will make them feel on top of the world. Indeed, for a sensitive or easily overwhelmed youngster, a fancy to-do may be counterproductive, resulting in tears all around.


Disney has long offered free buttons to guests as a way to publicly proclaim that they’re having a special day. These buttons are available at the guest relations offices at each park. Additionally, they often have a supply at the hotel check-in desks and at general ticket sales windows. (Please be aware that the free buttons are NOT the same thing as the for-purchase trading pins.) Buttons come in may styles and periodically change. Over the past 2-3 years I’ve seen: First Visit, Happy Birthday, I’m Celebrating (with a blank to fill in the occasion), Happy Anniversary, Family Reunion, Just Engaged, and Happily Ever After. These buttons don’t confer any special priorities, but they do let cast members and other guests know that you’re having a special day. You’ll likely get lots of extra smiles. Tom Bricker gives more great insight into birthday buttons in the post Celebrating Your Birthday at Disney.

If you want to take things up one notch further, you should make a point to tell EVERY cast member you encounter that it’s your special day, this includes cast you speak to when making room and dining reservations. Nothing is guaranteed (really, I mean it), but it’s not uncommon for birthday or anniversary celebrants to get small perks like free cupcake at dinner, a commemorative certificate, or a balloon in your room.


Your first instinct when planning a celebration is to order a cake. If that’s what you want to do, Disney has a special hotline set up for just this purpose. A cake hotline. Why does this not exist in the real world? To order, call 407-827-CAKE (407-827-2253).

Not to be a killjoy, but I’m going to ask you to think out of the box with me for a minute here and say maybe you don’t actually want or need a cake, even for a birthday. This goes double if you’re on the Disney Dining Plan. Here’s my thinking … First, there are desserts at Walt Disney World that are far more delicious and delightful than a plain old slab of cake. I’d rather have crepes from Chefs de France, ‘Smores from the ’50s Prime Time Diner, or the bread pudding at ‘Ohana. Slip your server a birthday candle and they’ll bring it out singing. Also, if you’re on the Dining Plan, your meal comes with dessert. Do you want cake on top of that? The answer may be yes, but I’m asking you to think about it.

My point is, do something different. Try to conquer the Kitchen Sink at Beaches & Cream. Have Dole Whip for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Sample every kind of fudge at the Main Street Confectionery. The more off-the-wall your sweet treat is, the more your special someone will remember the celebration.

This cake went uneaten. We were completely maxed out on dessert consumption.


A great way to add oomph to your celebration is to decorate your hotel room. You can do this with streamers and balloons brought from home. When my family spent our first Christmas at Walt Disney World, I purchased several small artificial trees at Target, and we brought them on the trip and decorated them at the hotel together. If you’re not a do-it-yourselfer you can enlist the help of the Disney Floral and Gift Basket team. These dreammakers can be found online or at 407-WDW-GIFT. They have a number of room decorating packages available. They can also customize a basket for you. If you have something very specific in mind, get on the phone and speak to someone directly.


Beyond these basics, the best way to “plus up” a Disney trip to make it a Disney celebration trip is to take an honest assessment of the person or event you’re celebrating. For example, my family celebrated my twins’ sixth birthday at Walt Disney World. At the time, the were relatively indifferent to many of the rides at WDW, but were completely obsessed with meeting the characters. To make their day extra special, we booked not one, not two, but three character meals for that day: breakfast at the Crystal Palace, lunch at Cinderella’s Royal Table, and dinner at Chef Mickey’s. Obviously this was faaaar more food than we needed to consume, but it was the very best thing their first grade minds could imagine, so we indulged. And six years later, they still talk about it.

Just because “women like spas,” or “men like sports,” doesn’t mean that’s what you should automatically turn to for your celebration. Take the time to talk with your special someone about what their wildest dreams are. If the celebration is meant to be a surprise, you can be oblique about this, or enlist a trusted friend to do some sleuthing for you. For example, if my husband sent me to a Disney spa for my birthday, I might feel awkward or uncomfortable, but if he brought me a bouquet of those fancy Mickey balloons they sell on Main Street (something I’ve always wanted but never had), I might possibly faint from bliss. This is truly at time when it’s the thought that counts.

To get your thought process rolling, below are some ideas about activities you can add to your Walt Disney World vacation that will increase the celebration factor. Please note that while some of these ideas are quite expensive (tours, private events), many of them are inexpensive (personalized Mickey ears), or even free (watch Wishes from the beach).


On your honeymoon, proposing, celebrating an anniversary? Here are some ideas to put the romance in your trip:

    • Take a horse-drawn carriage ride at Port Orleans or Fort Wilderness.
    • Have the Disney Florist send two dozen red roses to your room.
    • Book a dinner at the posh Victoria & Albert’s restaurant.
    • Order in room service, then place the do-not-disturb sign on your door.
    • Grab a blanket or extra towels and watch the Wishes fireworks presentation from the beach at the Polynesian.
    • Book a private fireworks cruise.
    • Snuggle into an arcade photo booth for some mid-kiss portraits.
    • Win your sweetie a prize at Animal Kingdom’s Fossil Fun Games in DinoLand, U.S.A.
    • Enjoy a couple’s massage.
    • Go for a midnight swim in your resort’s “Quiet Pool.”
    • Sit in the backseat of a car with a fancy drink and watch campy movie clips at the Sci-Fi Dine-In.
    • Drop the kids at a Disney child-care center and sneak back to your room for some alone time.
    • Take the Characters in Flight balloon ride at Downtown Disney to get a bird’s eye view of the world. (Just don’t drop the ring if you’re proposing.)
    • Arrange a vow renewal with Disney Weddings.
    • Offer to let your sweetie sleep in, while you take the kiddos to the park.

A romantic hiding spot at the Animal Kingdom.


Celebrating a milestone birthday, college graduation, or military retirement? Here are some ideas for adults looking to celebrate:

  • Drink around the World Showcase at Epcot.
  • Spend a day at the Saratoga Springs Resort spa.
  • Take a backstage tour at the Magic Kingdom.
  • Book a suite or stay in a nicer resort than you usually do.
  • Dine in a Signature Restaurant.
  • Invite a surprise guest.
  • Create a special Touring Plan, using only the guest of honor’s favorite rides.
  • Plan a shopping spree.
  • Stay at the park until the very end.
  • Go parasailing or waterskiing at the Contemporary.
  • Get tickets to Cirque du Soleil’s La Nouba at Downtown Disney.


Is your child celebrating a birthday, straight-As on her report card, or scoring the winning goal? Here are some ideas for kids looking to celebrate:

    • Book three character meals in one day.
    • Get a makeover at the Bibidi Bobbidi Boutique or the Pirate’s League.
    • Go to the Downtown Disney AMC theater and let your child create the ultimate custom Coke Freestyle beverage.
    • Go on a candy crawl through Epcot.
    • Ride Space Mountain ten times in a row.
    • Meet your child’s favorite character, every day of the trip.
    • Go on a pirate cruise.
    • Have tea with Sleeping Beauty.
    • Take the Wild Africa Trek (one of the few backstage experiences open to children).
    • Start a pin or Vinylmation collection and spend the trip trading.
    • Let the child choose the day’s itinerary.
    • Put a present under your child’s pillow to find when he wakes up.
    • Host a party at Goofy’s Candy Company at Downtown Disney.
    • Try to find all the hidden Mickeys at the Magic Kingdom.

The Wild Africa Trek is great for kids.


  • Go to the Hanes Design-A-Tee Store at Downtown Disney and get matching shirts for everyone.
  • Have dinner at the Hoop Dee Doo Revue – the ultimate in festive dining.
  • Arrange for a private IllumiNations dessert party.
  • Get a private cabana at a resort pool or water park.
  • Conquer the Kitchen Sink at Beaches & Cream.
  • Have the ultimate mini-golf tournament.
  • Spend a sing-along evening at Jellyrolls on the BoardWalk. They’ll play all your favorite songs.
  • Get personalized Mickey Ears for the gang.
  • Have a photopass photographer grab goofy shots of the entire group. Order and share the CD.
  • Make a Disney “goody bag” for everyone in your group.
  • Participate in a Run Disney race together.
  • Create a Disney trivia scavenger hunt. Have a friendly competition among members of your group.

Overall, it doesn’t really matter what you do to celebrate as long as it’s heartfelt and joyful. But those giant Mickey balloons sure would be festive wouldn’t they? Not that I’m hinting or anything 🙂

What special celebrations have you had at Walt Disney World? What milestones have you marked in the parks? Have you found a unique or innovative way to celebrate? Let us know in the comments below.