FEATURE ARTICLE: Grand Gatherings
by Joann McGarvey Warrington, PA
Okay, so you decide it’s time for a trip to the most magical place on earth. You start discussing your options and maybe mention it to your parents, siblings or friends. Then all of sudden they start saying that they have been thinking about it, too, and they want to come along with you. Next thing you know, the nice little vacation you were planning on for your family of 4 or 5, has turned into a group of 8, 12 or more?!
Feel a little overwhelmed? Well, don’t despair! Disney has just the thing for families like you. Any group traveling with 8 or more people over the age of 3 is called a Grand Gathering. Not only is there a special department to help coordinate all the accommodation and dining reservations you need, but there are a few special events only available to Grand Gathering Parties.
There are four Grand Gathering Experiences to choose from. The Safari Celebration Dinner is a wonderful way to experience a VIP Tour of the Savannah at Disney’s Animal Kingdom® Theme Park; followed by dinner at the Tusker House Restaurant, accompanied by entertainment and character interaction. If sampling dishes from around the world calls your name, The International Dinner and IllumiNations Dessert Reception might be more your speed. The VIP IllumiNations viewing is a lovely way to wrap up a fabulous dinner with treats from across the globe.
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READER TRIP STORIES
Here’s a sample of the kinds of magical experiences that can be had on a Walt Disney World vacation!
by Mary Seaford, DE
Our last trip to the “World” was last September. We have been to Walt Disney World® Resort many times and didn't have a trip planned at this time but saw an offer we couldn't refuse. Free dining! We stayed at Disney’s All Star Movies Resort for the first time. We have stayed at Disney’s All Star Sports, Coronado Springs, Caribbean Beach and Polynesian Resorts in the past. We thought Disney’s All Star Movie Resort was very nice for being an economy type hotel. We had a corner room in the Toy Story section, just a short walk to the food court and pool. The bus stop was just through the main lobby off the food court as well.
Generally, we are not in a hurry to be the first ones in the park and wake up when we feel like it, have a leisurely breakfast, usually at the food court and then head to the parks. The early risers with children are usually gone from the food court so there is much less noise and congestion. I did make ADR about 90 days before leaving home so we were able to have some great meals using the dining plan. One of our favorite dinners was at the Crystal Palace. Winnie the Pooh, Tigger, Piglet and Eeyore came by our table, some of them twice. They posed for pictures even though it was just 2 adults --who feel like kids again at Disney! We didn't feel out of place at all and had a ball!
We go at our own pace in the parks, stopping often to rest and just take it all in. Space Mountain and Big Thunder Mountain Railroad are about as wild as we get in Magic Kingdom. Epcot is probably our favorite of the big four. We managed to get our first ride on Soarin' and loved it. So realistic with the sights and smells, you really feel like you are parasailing.
Also, for the first time we went to the Spirit of Aloha Luau at Disney’s Polynesian Resort. The show was a bit slow in the beginning but got better as it progressed. The costumes and performers were great! We enjoyed the coconut bread, salad and fresh pineapple they start you with, and the main courses of chicken, ribs, rice and vegetables was good as well. I would recommend this show to anyone. At one point they invite children up on the stage to learn the hula and from the smiles on their faces, it was a highlight for them. They also have a children’s menu if your kids are fussy eaters.
The days always pass by too fast and soon it was time to pack up and wait for Disney’s Magical Express which we used to get from Orlando airport when we arrived as well. My husband loves not having to rent a car and driving which we have done in the past. Disney’s Magical Express works well as Disney buses. We rarely waited longer than 10 or 15 minutes. We hope to get back to Florida and see Mickey and the gang in January. Until then, we’ll enjoy reading trip reports and updates or news at DisBuzz!
Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party
by Barb & John Lehighton, PA
We had a wonderful experience on our last WDW trip, using MouseEarVacations.com. Elyse, our agent, was more than prompt handling all of our questions and emails, and we were especially pleased with the service she provided. Our trip actually had two highlights. The first was the Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party. Even though rain fell throughout the day, the evening cleared up in time for the party. Our day was especially memorable because of a very thoughtful gesture by Elyse. When we returned to our room at Disney’s Port Orleans Riverside Resort the afternoon of the party, our two girls were surprised with a Halloween goodie bag sitting in our room from Elyse! It included glow sticks and all kinds of Halloween goodies, along with a very nice personalized note! This was a perfect start to a terrific Halloween party. We enjoyed everything about the party…the parade, the Headless Horseman, the trick-or-treating…..but one especially vivid moment stands out. This was when my youngest daughter, dressed as the Mad Hatter, met the Mad Hatter himself! It was priceless! He made such a fuss about his little “brother” visiting him! (We had to inform him that it was his “sister!”) He even had a cast member take a photo of the two of them using his own camera! Then again, during the parade, Alice, Snow White, and the Mad Hatter stepped out of the parade, came over to Emily, and made such a fuss about her costume!
The second highlight occurred at Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon Water Park. The day we chose to go was not the best weather day, and we happened to arrive early. My oldest daughter whispered to me that some cast members were staring at us. One walked over to my youngest daughter and asked her to be the “Big Kahuna” for the day! What a great experience! She got a refillable mug, free towel and locker rentals, donuts, and a “Big Kahuna” medal to wear. Most importantly, we were escorted through the gates early and given a private tour of the park. All the cast members made a fuss about the Big Kahuna, and any cast member who saw her throughout the day made a point of talking to her personally (a big thing for my shy child). As the park opened, Emily had to turn on the wave pool using her “Big Kahuna” medal! This experience turned a dismal weather day into a blast!
We would recommend MouseEarVacations.com to anyone, as all of our needs were taken care of. I especially appreciated the Priority Seating arrangements being made for us! Elyse more than went out of her way to assure a perfect vacation! Thanks, Elyse!
DisBuzz invites you...
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- Memorable Moments – one to two paragraphs
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- Name of your resort or ship
- Month and year of your trip
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