Posts Tagged ‘Disney World’

Get the most out of Disney by planning ahead

March 27, 2011
This was first published May 9, 2010, in my Boston Globe column “Where they Went.” Years ago, when I lived in Cocoa, Fla., my friend had a press pass to Disney. We would “drop in” for an hour, parking in VIP spaces up close. Fun!

Amy and Douglas Yatsuhashi, and their children (left to right), Laura, Andrew, Kevin, Lindsay, at Disney World.

WHO: Amy, 38, and Douglas Yatsuhashi, 45, and their children, Andrew, 9, Lindsay, 8, Kevin, 6, and Laura, 4, of Reading, Mass.

WHERE: Disney World, Orlando, Fla.

WHEN: One week in August.

WHY: “My husband and I went as children and for our honeymoon. His family is a real Disney family,’’ Amy Yatsuhashi said. “We waited until the kids were old enough to enjoy the magic, but under 10, because Disney charges adult rates at age 10.’’

KEEPING A SECRET: “We usually go to the Cape every summer. We didn’t tell them until the end of June so they’d get through school without being too distracted. It was their first airplane ride, too. They were so excited.’’

Kevin, Lindsay, Andrew, and Laura hang out with Goofy

PLAN OF ATTACK: Yatsuhashi read up on Disney and especially relied on Fodor’s “Walt Disney World With Kids 2009.’’ She booked a family suite with a dining plan at Disney’s All-Star Music Resort, one of its budget-minded “value resorts,’’ and even made restaurant reservations 90 days in advance for “character meals,’’ where the kids could see and photograph themed characters during lunch and dinner.

GETTING AROUND: “Where we stayed was perfect. Even though it was budget for Disney, it was first class. Buses went from our place to everywhere. We had a Park Hopper pass so we could go to all the different places like Blizzard Beach [Water Park] or Epcot or Animal Kingdom. We got a double stroller for the younger two, and the other two would hang on to the stroller. We pinned our cellphone numbers into their shirts in case we got lost.’’

Andrew, Laura, Lindsay, and Kevin at the Barrel o` Monkeys.

VOICE OF EXPERIENCE: “The best advice I could give anyone is to go early. We were at the doors when they opened at 9. We didn’t have to wait that long for rides. They have a neat thing called Fast Pass where you make ride reservations. The kids’ favorite was Big Thunder Mountain Railroad. They must have gone on it 10 times.’’

A PENNY SAVED: For souvenir buying, the children had “earned money from chores, and their grandparents gave them Disney dollars . . . like dollar bills but with Mickey Mouse on them.’’

Andrew, Kevin, Laura, Lindsay, with their grandparents Tony and Pam Carrara

ADULTS ONLY: Yatsuhashi’s parents joined the party for a few days, thrilling the children and giving the parents a little alone time. “One night they had the kids overnight and my husband and I went to Pleasure Island and then had dinner in The Land at Epcot.’’

SIGN ‘EM UP: “The kids were great and were happy almost all the time. You get to say yes a lot in Disney World. Even before we got home they said, ‘Mom, we decided we’re going to put together our allowance to make a reservation for next year.’ ’’

Caribbean cruising with Mickey Mouse

November 4, 2008

Disney cruises are pricey, but the company does know how to pack in the fun. Lucky Gilson kids (and adults, too)!

“Where they Went” by Diane Daniel
(Published Oct. 12, 2008, in the Boston Globe)

The Gilson Family

The Gilson Family

WHO: Diana, 39, and William “Gilly” Gilson, 46, and their children Will, 6, and Carli, 5, of Sharon, Mass.

WHERE: Caribbean.

WHEN: A week in April.

WHY: “People told me, if you’re really not looking forward to having your kids stand in long lines at Disney World, try a Disney cruise,” Diana Gilson said. “Our accountant had done the Western Caribbean cruise about four times and loves it, so we did that one.”

EASY PREP: “Disney does a great job with sending you a DVD that has pictures of the ship, what to pack, what the scene is like,” Gilson said. “It really takes very little thought. The only challenging part is you must absolutely have a passport for every person traveling, so I got the kids’ passports very early.”

FUN FOR ALL: “This was our first cruise, and everyone said the staterooms were bigger than usual,” she said. “We had a double bed, two bunks that folded up, and two bathrooms.” They also sprung for a balcony, where they would watch the sunset and other boats pass at sea. “Disney characters like Mickey Mouse, Pluto, and Goofy are walking all over the ship, and the kids just love that. For adults there’s a spa, workout room, and track, and they could have alone time when they dropped the children off at clubs organized by ages. Gilson, a pediatrician who said she’s “crazier than most parents about safety,” gave the ship and activities her “absolute seal of approval” in that department.

Bill Gilson dances with Athenea the Dolphin

William Gilson dances with Athenea the Dolphin in Cozumel, Mexico

PORTS OF CALL: The ship departed from Port Canaveral, Fla., with a first stop in Key West. “They have an aquarium and a really cute butterfly garden,” Gilson said. On Grand Cayman island, all family members were thrilled by an optional submarine ride. “We took a 20-minute catamaran ride out to the middle of nowhere and then this huge white sub comes up. We went 103 feet down and we saw everything from barracuda to angel fish to a shipwreck in the clear, clear Caribbean water.” An opportunity in Cozumel, Mexico, to interact with dolphins at Chankanaab National Park was equally exciting. “You can kiss them, dance with them, and give a dolphin a belly rub.”

Will, Carli and mother Diana Gilson have a grand time at Castaway Cay

Will (left), mother Diana and Karli Gilson have a grand time at Castaway Cay

PRIVATE ISLAND: The final stop was Castaway Cay, Disney’s own Caribbean island. “They’ve got everything there. Places to eat and buy souvenirs. We got my daughter’s hair braided. There’s this little fort built 20 feet from the coast that children can swim out to and play in. Our kids spent most of the day in the water.” Everyone liked it so much that the Gilsons are considering the Disney Eastern Caribbean Cruise next year, she said. “It’s for people who totally want to spoil their kids.”