The Magic is Alive: Cast Members Make All the Difference by Diane Butler

Any frequent visitor to Walt Disney World has surely had at least 1 quintessential Disney “magical moment”. It’s that moment when an unexpected experience, sight, or kindness sprinkles the vacation with an extra dose of pixie dust that becomes an incredibly special lasting memory. It may be an amazing character greeting, a free waffle given away at the very end of a long night, or a rainbow over Cinderella Castle. For me, I am always blessed with at least one special Disney moment per visit. More times than not, it is the dedication and spirit of a Walt Disney World cast member who is responsible for this moment of spontaneous happiness.

New Picture (4)I have heard a few people recently say that the Disney magic seems to be dying; they felt as if the cast members seem disinterested and not willing to go to the extra effort to make a visit magical for the guest. I am so happy to say that I don’t believe it- not even for a second. I have come across so many amazing cast members on my recent trips to the World, who have gone out of their way to make my day special. Have I run into the occasional grumpy cast member? Sure…but anytime that there is such an enormous group of people working toward a common goal, there is bound to be a bad egg or two. In my experiences, the majority of the dedicated individuals that choose to work for Disney hold the spirit of Walt in their hearts. They believe that it is their primary goal to make each guest’s experience magical. They have a smile on their face and are always looking to make that magic, even through the blistering heat and torrential rain.

New Picture (3)Never was this more apparent to me than on my recent trip in July. It was the day before I was to depart from Walt Disney World, and I was determined to catch the Festival of Fantasy parade. The parade was elusive to me; over my past 2 trips, the weather had caused the parade’s cancellation the 5 times I had been in the park to see it. Since I was flying solo and didn’t have my kids to complain and really wanted a good viewing location to take some pictures, I found a shady spot in Frontierland (on a raised planter near the bathrooms) about 90 minutes before the start time. I settled in, figuring I could catch up on email and twitter while I relaxed under the tree. Soon I was joined by 2 lovely young ladies, and we struck up a conversation. They introduced themselves as off-duty Magic Kingdom cast members. Over the next hour, these women showed that they exemplified what a Disney cast member should be. Not only did they spend time talking with this middle-aged mom about everything under the sun, but they showed kindness to all those around them, both adults and children. They asked me all about my trip and what magical experiences I had encountered. They shared their experiences working at Disney and their hopes for a continued career with the company. The love for both their work and for the magic of the parks was clearly evident. Most importantly, they both interacted marvelously with the children around us, bringing smiles and giggles to all. As new cast member friends joined them, they introduced me and included me in their conversations. When the parade finally began (I had a few very nervous moments with some ominous clouds heading our way), the young women made certain that I had the best view for picture taking, telling their friends that I had been trying (unsuccessfully) to see this parade for so long! When the parade ended, we said goodbye and headed our separate ways.

It was certainly not necessary for these young ladies to befriend me, yet they went out of their way to make my parade experience special. Their kindness and obvious love for this magical place that means so much to me was touching and made my time waiting for the 3 o’clock parade a highlight of my whole trip. The most impressing quality of these beautiful young ladies is that it was not outwardly obvious that they were cast members, but they still went out of their way to enhance the vacation of all those around them. They continued to deliver that special Disney magic even though they did not have to. Unfortunately, I did not get their names, so I am unable to give them the formal compliment that they so deserve. To the 2 lovely fairy godmothers sitting with this middle-aged mom on that hot July day in Frontierland- I thank you from the bottom of my heart. You, and those like you, are the heart and soul of my beloved Walt Disney World.

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Star Wars Producers Wanted a Fully Operational Drone Defense System

When it comes to spoilers, commenters from all corners of the internet are quick to demonize whoever leaks precious plot details, but when it comes to J. J. Abrams’ upcoming Star Wars VII, we can’t seem to help ourselves.

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Star Wars Meets College Sports in New Apparel Line

Whether a member of an undefeated empire or part of a rebel alliance, collegiate sports fans know what it means to be part of a legacy. Now college sports fans can celebrate their school pride with the power of the Force sporting a new collection of apparel and accessories featuring iconic designs from the Star Wars saga!

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Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. – New Season 2 Preview

Coulson & his team work to rebuild S.H.I.E.L.D. in the second season of “Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.,” premiering Tuesday, September 23 at its new time, 9:00 p.m. ET on ABC!

3 Cool Ways Disney Keeps “Frozen” From Melting Away

Frozen summer fun2

Frozen is truly the gift that keeps on giving for Walt Disney investors. The animated hit, which grossed $1.27 billion worldwide on a budget of $150 million, is now the highest grossing animated film in history.

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Cell phones, Social Media, and Selfies. Oh my! by Heather Holley

I know I’m guilty of constantly using my cell phone, especially for social media. I can’t tell you how many times a day I check email, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Today I want to talk about how this habit is changing my personal Disney vacations (for better and worse) and what I’ve observed others doing in the parks.

Let’s start with the best reason to be on your phone in the parks, the My Disney Experience app. If you don’t have this on your phone, download it now. My husband loves to use this app. Our vacation is still 25 days away and he’s already made us dining reservations and FastPasses. You can easily check park hours, show and wait times. My only note is the app seems to perform better on his Iphone 4 compared to my Galaxy S4.

On to social media usage, my husband proposed to me in front of the Haunted Mansion in 2011. My entire family was there for it and I couldn’t have dreamed of a better moment, but after the initial excitement wore down I was posting a picture of my engagement ring on Facebook. I was so happy I wanted to share the news with everybody immediately. This is an instance I’m ok with social media use during a visit. On the other hand, I know I’m guilty of pulling my phone out and mindlessly scrolling while waiting in line. This is a habit of mine I hate and I wish others would do less of it too. Waiting in all of Disney’s lines is part of the experience. The queues are full of wonderful details and strangers from all over the world you could be talking to. Time flies by a lot more quickly when enjoying others’ company, as opposed to staring at a screen.

“Let’s take a selfie!” A sentence most people have heard, and something I have seen happening more frequently in the parks over the years. It makes sense. You want to have pictures from your magical trip, but are you losing memories by taking a lot of selfies? I have taken selfies in front of Cinderella’s castle and several other landmarks, but I’ve seen a lot of people working for that perfect shot during parades and rides. This is what really triggered my pondering of cell phone usage in the parks. These people may have a good picture to post online, but what about experiencing the parade or attraction? My last trip to Disney is when I came to the realization that I want to spend less time on my phone during my visits. I can post my pictures and status updates later that night. To be honest, I spend way too much money on a park ticket to not be fully immersed in my visit. I’d rather leave with millions of memories than a few likes and comments.

How about you, do you constantly use your phone in the park? Does it annoy you when you see others’ immersed in their cell phone? Let me know on Twitter @hoodie_life!

New Memory Maker Photo and Video at Seven Dwarfs Mine Train

Guests with both a MagicBand and a linked Memory Maker entitlement who ride Seven Dwarfs Mine Train will find a photo and video memento that captures and recreates their race through the diamond mine associated to their My Disney Experience account.

The Attraction photo and video will be available only to Guests who have purchased Memory Maker and have linked their Memory Maker entitlement and MagicBand to their My Disney Experience account.

Guests with a linked Memory Maker entitlement also will be able to view and download the photos and videos of their linked Family & Friends and Managed Guests who were also wearing a MagicBand while experiencing the attraction.

Guests who have experienced the Attraction while wearing a MagicBand may still purchase Memory Maker while onsite if they wish to view and download their Attraction photo and video.

Disney Channel’s Zapped, Starring Zendaya, and Justin Bieber: Limitless Headline New Digital Releases From MarVista Digital Entertainment

From teen and family comedies to sci-fi disasters to pop star documentaries, there is entertainment for everyone this fall with a slate of star-driven films, limited series and an all-new music documentary from MarVista Digital Entertainment (MVDE) — available across multiple digital platforms including AT&T, Comcast, Cox, DIRECTV, iN DEMAND, Time Warner Cable, Vubiquity, Amazon, Google Play, iTunes, Vimeo and VUDU (check local listings).

Following a worldwide debut on Disney Channel on June 27, teens can now enjoy watching one of today’s hottest stars — teen actress, singer and dancer Zendaya — in her new movie Zapped.  Zendaya stars as 16-year-old Zoey Stevens, a skilled dancer and straight-A student who is having a hard time adjusting to a new high school, a klutzy, new dance squad, a loud, new stepdad, three rowdy stepbrothers and an unruly dog. But things change when a dog-training app on her smart phone begins to somehow control all the boys around her.  Also starring are Chanelle Peloso (Radio Rebel), Spencer Boldman (Disney XD’s Lab Rats), Emilia McCarthy (Hemlock Grove) and Adam DiMarco (Radio Rebel).  Zapped is directed by Peter DeLuise (16 Wishes, Kyle XY). Available now.

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Exclusive Chase Cardholder Lounge Returns to the American Adventure Pavilion for the 2014 Epcot® International Food & Wine Festival

Chase today announced that as part of its multi-year agreement with Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, U.S., it continues as the presenting sponsor of the Epcot® International Food & Wine Festival. Guests attending this marquee culinary event can experience cuisine from around the world, taste specialty wines and spirits and enjoy daily live entertainment.

The 19th Epcot® International Food & Wine Festival presented by Chase, running from September 19 through November 10, 2014, will again offer Chase debit and credit cardholders, including Disney Visa® cardholders, exclusive access to the Chase Lounge at the Festival.* The lounge, located on the third floor of the American Adventure Pavilion within the Epcot® World Showcase, offers an inviting space to relax, enjoy complimentary beverages and charge personal devices at an increased number of charging stations, among other amenities exclusively for Chase customers. The lounge will be open daily during the record-setting 53 day Festival from 11 a.m. to park close.

Celebrated for its inspired food-and-beverage marketplaces, high-energy concerts and premium dining events, the Festival will sizzle with a variety of ethnic and specialized marketplaces. Guests will be able to pair wines, beers, cocktails and “mocktails” from many countries as they stroll the World Showcase Promenade and earn stamps on their complimentary festival “passport” souvenirs.

Celebrity and Disney chefs will present culinary demonstrations, and beverage experts will host daily wine tastings and mixology seminars for a nominal fee. Eat to the Beat concerts starring pop bands from several decades will rock the festival party each evening.

“We are delighted to again offer an exclusive lounge for our cardholders attending this one-of-a-kind event,” said Steve Pamon, head of Sports & Entertainment Marketing, Chase. “Located in the center of the Festival, the lounge is a great place for customers to rest, recharge and relax while making their way around the world of Epcot.”

The sponsorship of the Epcot® International Food & Wine Festival extends Chase’s long-term relationship with Disney that includes the Disney Premier Visa® Card, Disney Rewards® Visa® Card and Disney Visa® Debit Card. All Disney Visa Cards offer access to amazing perks 365 days-a-year when visiting Walt Disney World® Resort and the Disneyland® Resort, including a Character Meet ‘N’ Greet at a private Cardmember location and special savings at Disney’s U.S. Theme Parks and Disney Store locations and DisneyStore.com. Cardholders can also choose from various magical card designs featuring some of the most beloved Disney Characters.

Disney fans who are interested in Chase’s Disney card products can apply online at Chase.com/Disney or by visiting kiosks located at Epcot®, Downtown Disney® area and Magic Kingdom® Park.

*Theme Park admission to Epcot® is required.

‘Into the Woods’ character names not getting Disney makeover

Playbill and other sites, including EWpointed out that on the official website for the Stephen Sondheim adaptation, Cinderella’s Stepmother was listed as Lady Tremaine, Cinderella’s Prince was Prince Charming, and Rapunzel’s Prince was Flynn Rider.

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