Wishes And Pixie Dust

Follow the journey of a Wisconsin family of 4 who relocated to the Walt Disney World area in July 2011


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Annual Passholder MyMagic+ Update

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This afternoon, Disney Destinations sent an email to all AP holders alerting them that MyMagic+ is now available for all passholders.  The following information was included in that email.

“As a Disney Passholder, you now have access to MyMagic+! Your Walt Disney World visits can be more magical than ever—from reserving select attractions, shows and Character experiences in advance to entering the Theme Parks with your very own MagicBand.

And this is just the start! We’re always listening and learning to improve the experience for you. ”

Disney FastPass+
Now you can choose from double the number of attractions and experiences than our original Disney FASTPASS® Service provided. Plan for seven days of Disney FastPass+ selections within a 30 day period*. Your seven days don’t have to be consecutive-and you can plan for any additional day as soon as you use one of your existing days.

*One Theme Park per day. Valid Theme Park admission and online registration required. Disney FastPass+ attractions and entertainment experiences, the number of selections you can make and available arrival windows are limited.”

MagicBand
They’re cool. They’re colorful. They’re complimentary. And MagicBands are now available to Passholders! Use them to enter the Walt Disney World Theme Parks, enjoy your Disney FastPass+ selections and more.

Be sure to keep your Pass/discount card and photo ID with you for Passholder discounts!

Please visit MyDisneyExperience.com/privacy for information about our privacy and data collection policies and to learn more about RF technology used in MagicBands and RF cards.

To learn more or get started, call 407-560-PASS (7277). “


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A Walk in the Park With Phil Holmes

This past Wednesday I was able to participate in a Disney Parks Blog Limited Time Magic opportunity; a walk through the Magic Kingdom with Phil Holmes, the VP of the Magic Kingdom (MK).  I wanted to share this tour with you. We started outside the main gate at 7:45am with Phil telling us that this tour came out of the Park walk-throughs that he asks his new leaders to do as they join his team.  This is done so that the leadership can gauge what the frontline Cast Members (CMs) see and hear during their days.  This lets Disney provide the best experiences for the Guests and it is those top flight experiences that in turn drive the Disney ‘machine’.  By providing the best for the Guests, Disney takes care of the financial line without worrying about the bottom line as most companies do, the bottom line takes care of itself.

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Our first stop was at the Roy Disney/Minnie Mouse bench in Town Square.  Phil shared his story of working construction for Disney World before it opened and how he saw how differently Roy acted in comparison to how he thought a company leader would, particularly in seeing Roy bus away his own tray as well as others’ after lunches in the construction cafeteria.

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We walked down Main Street taking in the view of a near empty Park (some early ADR Guests were in by this time) and Cinderella Castle.  We stopped in front of the Castle to view a card showing the many different ‘variations’ the Castle has had over the years.  Phil did quip that the comment he most hears about the Castle is how bad the 25th Anniversary ‘Birthday Cake Castle’ was and that it shouldn’t be done again (personal thought here – I agree).  His story here was simple, that Walt’s vision for Disneyland and Disney World was that they weren’t built to be museums, static and never-changing.  They were meant to change and evolve and to always bring new experiences.  To exemplify this he told how the current colour of the Castle isn’t the same as it was back on Opening Day.  A few years back the designer of the Castle in Paris came to him and Meg Crofton and suggested that the colouring schemes used there would also fit the MK Castle as well.  And so, with confidence (and the thought that if it didn’t work they could always re-paint it) the Castle was re-painted…and it looks wonderful.
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From here we walked up to the Castle’s main entrance and behind the Castle Stage.  We could see back up a now empty Main Street and into the Hub.  Phil told us here what he had said back during the 40th Anniversary Celebration (which we had attended 2 years ago) and reminisced on his time as a CM at the Haunted Mansion on opening day; a job he got after impressing his boss while working construction and being offered a job “inside in the air conditioning”.

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We then walked through “the hardest working Castle in the world” and into Fantasyland; the ‘heart’ of the Magic Kingdom.  Here we saw photos of Fantasyland as it was opening day and how it has changed over the years.  Phil explained why the decision was made to replace Snow White’s Scary Adventure with Princess Fairytale Hall.  This was because on Opening Day and for years you met the Princesses in Fantasyland but they had since moved to places they just didn’t belong, Mickey’s Toontown Fair and then Town Square; and that the fairy tale Princesses belonged in Fantasyland in the Castle.  Since there was no room in the Castle, they picked the next thing, the show building next to it.  He told of how he questioned the Imagineers on the need for Castle Walls being added as part of the New Fantasyland expansion; agreeing once it was explained that the walls ‘close off’ the Castle Courtyard and transition you into the Villages and Enchanted Forest of New Fantasyland.  He also told us here that we’ll never see the true classic attractions close; mentioning “it’s a small world”, “Pirates of the Caribbean”, “Haunted Mansion” and “Peter Pan’s Flight”.  We’ll see them change and evolve, using the addition of Johnny Depp’s Jack Sparrow to Pirates as an example, but not closed.

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We walked into New Fantasyland first stopping at the Be Our Guest Restaurant.  Here we heard how the designers wanted to feature a restaurant as the centerpiece of the expansion in order to provide a new experience not available in the Park before and in a way to make it accessible to all; counter service for lunch and sit-down service for dinner while encompassing the Guests into the Beauty and the Beast story.  We walked into Belle’s Village where we learned that having Gaston meet here was an important piece as he was highly requested and seldom appeared outside of Epcot and that his Meet and Greet has become a very popular and interactive experience.  We visited Bonjour Gifts where Phil posed with the portrait of “his ancestor” that hangs there.  I asked him here what the ‘story’ is behind the ‘little door’ behind the Shoppe.  He had no real answer, saying that it was a great way to theme a utility hatch, but if Guests wanted a story, he’d have to ask the Imagineers to create one; perhaps a door for Mrs. Potts to use to visit the Shoppe.  Last we visited “Under the Sea: Journey of the Little Mermaid”.  Here we learned how the Imagineers learn all the time how to apply new technology and methods even to older attractions.  In this case it is the grass.  The grass covering the outside of this attraction is so realistic that many do believe it is real.  This can now be applied to other attractions that feature grassy areas, specifically mentioning Splash Mountain, to make them more realistic.  We also learned that the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train Coaster is on schedule to open pre-summer of 2014 as planned.  This coaster was designed with families in mind, following Walt’s vision that the rides should always be ones that the whole family can enjoy together, including rollercoasters; and this will be one that all can ride and not just the 75% that ride many other Disney coasters like Space Mountain.

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From here we ventured into Storybook Circus.  Here were learned that the vision of Storybook Circus came from designs that Walt Disney had drawn up himself for a never built Circusland at Disneyland.  We also learned that research had shown that for almost all Guests, a stay at Disney World couldn’t end without riding Dumbo, so over the years Dumbo was redesigned to add arms and elephant cars but that it still wasn’t enough.  Building Storybook Circus allowed for an increased capacity by adding the second Dumbo; but it also allowed for a centerpiece to be built for the area, the wait area that allows for children to play and burn energy while parents enjoy a rest in the air conditioning. Now came our big surprise as we walked down to the Fantasyland Train Station.  We boarded the train and were told that we were going to help be part of the Magic Kingdom Welcome Show…wow!  After we boarded we had a Q&A time with Phil where we learned things such as Limited Time Magic will end 12/31/13 but may come back in future years, there are no plans for ‘Dapper Danielles’ but there were also no plans in the past for female train engineers or other positions so ‘never say never’, the Frozen Princesses will be around for Meets ‘forever’ but not at the Magic Kingdom, Phil’s granddaughters were Batman and Robin for Halloween and more trinkets.  Now it was time for the characters to board; Mary Poppins, Stitch, Lady Tremaine, Pluto, Minnie and Mickey (and more).  The train circled around to the Main Street Station and hearing the noise build as we got closer and closer was just electric.  Waving to the waiting crowd and being a part of a show that opens the Park to all each day brought a lump to my throat…it was just pure joy and I was a little boy again.

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After the show we each had a photo taken with Phil and received a special gift, a Legacy of Leadership pin featuring a photo of Walt in front of a Florida map.  A treasure I’ll cherish forever!

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A huge thank you to the Walt Disney Company, the Disney Parks Blog and to Mr. Phil Holmes for providing this opportunity to all of those who have had a chance to enjoy this thrilling time.


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Candlelight Processional Featuring Neil Patrick Harris

Tonight at 5:00pm ET, Catie’s HS Choir will be performing at the Candlelight Processional featuring Neil Patrick Harris as the Narrator. We’ll be broadcasting the entire show on UStream (if all goes well). So please join us at http://www.ustream.tv/channel/wishes-and-pixie-dust if you’d like to enjoy along! Please share with anyone who might enjoy this live NPH CP performance.


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The Five Wonders of Epcot

As a vacationer, Epcot was the least favorite of our Disney Parks, and we couldn’t imagine why guests would rave on about it.  It was nice, yes, but we felt the other parks had so much more to offer.  As residents, we have grown to love Epcot, and this week’s column will highlight five different aspects of what makes Epcot unique to us.

  1. Marine Animals.  As you exit The Seas with Nemo and Friends Attraction, take the escalator up to the second level and enjoy the aquariums that display the marine animals.  Did you realize that Epcot is home to a manatee research and rehabilitation center?  Vail and Lou are two West Indian Manatees who were victims of a boat strike, and are currently recovering until they can be re-released into the wild.  Pictured below is Lou feeding on romaine lettuce:  both Vail and Lou each consume 100 lbs of greens daily.
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  2. Spaceship Earth.  This slow-moving attraction, located inside the geosphere, offers a glimpse into history beginning with the period of cavemen and ending with the information age.  It is an educational but enjoyable journey, and as you exit the attraction you will step into Project Tomorrow, an interactive area that allows you to explore different aspects about your current and future world through games and activities.

  3. World Showcase.  World Showcase is a representation of eleven different countries that are located around World Showcase Lagoon.  Each country is considered a Pavilion, and each pavilion offers food, culture and entertainment specific to that country.  The best time to tour World Showcase is during the day; you will not be able to take in all the theming at night.   World Showcase offers a lot of great photo opportunities through sunset.

  4. The Land.  This is an indoor pavilion in Future World that is home to the attractions Soarin’, Circle of Life & Living with the Land.   You will also find the Behind the Seeds Tour (a fee-based, guided tour of four greenhouses featured in the Living with the Land attraction) located here.  The Sunshine Seasons Food Court has a great variety of food and plenty of seating available.  The Garden Grill is a sit-down character dinner meal featuring Mickey and his friends, and is part of the dining plan.  Chances are if you enjoyed fresh vegetables or fish during your meal, it was grown right there at Epcot.

  5. Illuminations:  Reflections of Earth.  This is a fourteen minute display of fireworks and laser lights that is definitely a must-not-miss attraction at Epcot.  It tells the tale of our planet Earth by displaying images on a 350,000 pound sphere in the middle of Showcase Lagoon.  Please plan to arrive at least one hour prior to its performance to secure a good viewing point.  


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Calendar Giveaway

We saw these cute calendars at Target and thought we would pick up two sets for our readers!  Enter the giveaway to win a 2014 wall and planner-size calendar.  There will be two winners:  the wall calendars are the same but the planner-size ones are different.   See pictures below.  You will have the chance in the Rafflecopter widget to let us know which one you prefer.  The contest will begin at 12am ET tonight and run through Thursday, November 14th; click on the link below the photos to enter.

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Wishes and Pixie Dust Calendar Giveaway