Disneyland Good Neighbor Resort Discount Just Released For Summer Travel!

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Wow, the discounts are sure flying off the shelves this week.  We just received word of another discount, but this one is exclusively for Disneyland.  And to be more precise those Guests who stay at the Good Neighbor Hotels that surround the Disneyland Resort.

Now, for you Disney World travelers, this may seem a little odd.  But at Disneyland the way the park is constructed lends itself to a natural working relationship with many wonderful hotels who have a very close proximity to the parks.  It’s just well, different!  And that’s okay because by being a Good Neighbor Resort Guest at the Disneyland Resort you get many of the same perks including Magic Morning entrances to the parks and offers such as these:

Now-Aug. 12, 2014, a 3-Night/4-Day Good Neighbor Hotel Vacation Package at the Disneyland Resort starts at $91* per person per day for a family of 4 and includes a 4-Day, 1-Park per day Disneyland Resort ticket. This offer is valid for stays most nights June 13-Aug. 16, 2014. Travel must be complete by Aug. 17, 2014.

So that can lend itself naturally to some big savings if you are a party of 4 wanting to take in Walt’s original park!  Just the base package for hotel and tickets could run about $1,456 with this discount.  So that’s a good deal for a 3 night 4 day package.  Contact us at info@upanduptravel.com to book this offer today!

A word to the wise

"Where are you going?" "Forward" -Ratatouille

“Where are you going?”
“Forward”
-Ratatouille

I wanted to say something today that’s been on my mind recently.  This time last week I posted an article on the fly, about Disney doing away with Re-Ads in conjunction with their DAS Cards.  The response was shocking to me.  I received over 4,000 page views in 48 hours.  We’ve never had that much traffic on our site, and I thank you for visiting.  I truly do.  I think that Disney taking this away does warrant a polite advocacy to alert them to issues their Guests might face while touring.  I would tell the same to Guests who tour in standard ways if their reasonable needs weren’t met, and have.  They can only know if you tell them, and you will get more response by being professional in your communications.  But then this past saturday I posted a solution to a great many problems faced with the changes to the DAS, a Disneybility Day.  You could have heard crickets on our site.

And while I understand, the disheartening quality of what I wrote, only a handful of people who responded to the initial Re-Ad article responded in kind to the Disneybility article with the solution.  And this gave me some pause as I have mulled it over.  Are we really going to be defined by what we can’t do?  Do we wake our children every morning and tell them over and over what is out of their reach with having a disability?  No, we don’t and if we did we really wouldn’t be any kind of parent at all.  We wake up our children telling them what they CAN do.  We tell them what is on their agenda, to prepare them but also to help them plan for hitting that next level.  I tell Thomas every morning he, like his brother, is my rock star.  He does things that surprise me, he says things that make me laugh and yes he illuminates me every day as to what it is like to live with a cognitive disability.  That he isn’t defined by it, but he has set out everyday to change the definition of Autism and what that diagnosis means.

So around here, we will probably post news as it effects our guests since you all need to know.  But really I’ve been re-focused and have been for some time on finding solutions, not mourning for too long the changing of accommodations that yes allowed for more spontaneity in our days.  As parents and caregivers we have all been down this road before.  We consistently advocate for our children and family.  Why do we think all of a sudden we can just hang our skills of working with our children on a hook because we are on vacation?  It’s work, constant work, but from that work comes such an ultimate reward it overpowers us and in some ways that reward can make us feel humbled.

Look, I’m not saying don’t advocate.  I’m not saying that upset feelings are unjustified.  It’s in how we choose to let those feelings and actions DEFINE our advocacy that sets how we move forward from this in our children’s eyes.  We have always been the greatest teachers, advocates, therapists and counselors for our children.  What makes us think in some way that touring with these new accommodations is somehow unattainable especially if solutions are out there?  Why do we let the World intercede and tell us over and over we can’t and that things WON’T work, when we haven’t given it a shot or allowed time to work.  Would you give up on a therapy you loved after one go with no positive progress in your child?  Heck no you wouldn’t.  So let’s get together, find solutions, instead of ripping apart and focusing on the negatives.  We are only as strong as the weakest amongst us, and really the only way we all can inspire change is by working with each other.

That’s all I want to say.  I hope I have not offended anyone, but for me and my family and my clients and anyone I help I have to look at what we CAN do in this world, and yes that includes Disney.  Because it is so weary, and needs kindness and humility.  It needs people to start looking up once more and reaching out.  That can’t be done if all we do is tear it apart.

Disneybility Days at the Disney Parks

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Was having a thought, and I’ve touched on this idea before, but I would love to see a day (or several) dedicated to Disabilities at the Disney Parks in North America. I mean there are groups from every background, interest and passion that plan events at the Disney Parks, but to my knowledge there is not a set event each year for guests with disabilities.

What I would love to see is all of us, young and adult, cognitive and mobility; vision and hearing impaired, families and individuals of every kind vacationing together to celebrate our love of the parks. Families who only know each other online from forums, social media or support groups could tour together and yes, learn from one another.  Further say you have two single parents with children with disabilities who have been unable to go because of the recent changes be able to team up and tour successfully?  Alone, we can only do so much, but together we can really help one another.  As well, if this becomes successful enough, there is the possibility of group rates through Disney to help everyone out.  I know the costs of therapies for our kids, and if your family is like ours, the therapies come before a trip to Disney on the financial side of things.  But with the possibility of working together, I love that idea of people teaming up, maybe sharing rooms to offset costs and yes touring together in order to provide a support for one another.

Overall the emphasis I feel should be positive.  It’s not a sit-in, not a protest, it’s to celebrate the diversity in our community, to help one another and yes to be in the Happiest Place on Earth in a healthy constructive way.

I would love to hear your thoughts on this idea and if you are interested in making it more than an idea feel free to Like and participate in our planning page https://www.facebook.com/DisneybilityDays

Also a HUGE Mega Thank you to Rob Stevens a/k/a @SuperRob for tying our Event Name together today!

Share your thoughts on this idea in the comments below!

Why Would You Use A Disney Travel Agent?

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We live in an age of instant information.  Some of the people I follow on Twitter, blogs I read or Groups I am a part of on Facebook in fact give me real time information from Disney so that I know basically at any moment what is happening hours and time zones away from my office.  If I want to know something, anything really, I can click on a search engine type my question and see dozens of pages of answers.  So in this age of constant data, why would you use a Disney Travel Agent to plan your family’s vacation?

1.) Time.  Just because you CAN plan your vacation doesn’t mean you HAVE the time to do so.  I know because I have been there.  The kids, your husband, your wife, the house, the job, Church, school activities, LAUNDRY, family, the car, the pets, trying to fit in a workout, or time for friends the list goes on and on; planning vacations is fun, believe me I love lists and spreadsheets, and that thrill of lining out a to-do, and looking at all of the sites and yes, I even love the hold music at Disney.  But, do you have the time to wade through the mountains of information and line out a thought out travel plan?  What is your time worth in this process?

2.) Experience. I count myself very lucky that my Grandparents saw fit to take me many times to Walt Disney World, and that I have had the privilege in my life of being a Cast Member and taking my own children several times.  And while I have traveled to a Disney Park many a time, I also have made knowing Disney more than just a hobby, it’s a livelihood.  We’ve been called “That Disney family” in most any circle of friends, and chances are if there is a movie on in our house, it’s Disney related.  If I’m reading a book for pleasure, it’s about the Disney Company.  Most of the social media groups and connections I have are to the Disney based Travel industry so that I stay constantly in the loop.  My 30 years of constant involvement in Disney I feel is an asset, and my purpose when I help families is not to sell them on something they don’t want.  I want to help families experience the Disney I know and love.  I want them to not need a vacation from their vacation and to also come up with solutions from contacts, so they don’t need to worry about breaking the bank to afford Disney.  We are going on our 4th Generation of Disney Traveling in our family, and I constantly draw from that storied history in order to craft the most desirable vacation for our Clients so they truly enjoy Disney and want to go back as soon as they board their return flight home.

3.) Cost. You ever look at what you need to get accomplished in a given day and wonder if you can clone yourself just to get it all accomplished?  I have.  I’ve looked at the ceiling and thought, “How on EARTH am I going to get through my list today?” And after pouring copious amount of coffee down my gullet I may get 75-80% accomplished if I am lucky.  Well imagine having for your Disney Vacation a personal assistant that you don’t have to pay?  It’s true.  My services come at NO COST to my clients.  I am paid a commission based on just the amount you book.  This doesn’t give me broad range to up-sell you on things you don’t want.  I truly want you to have the best Disney vacation possible for the most cost effective dollar amount.  But, no, my services are at no charge to you.  Seriously. On the flip side of this I am constantly on the look out for new promotions that effect your travel date and will AUTOMATICALLY REBOOK your vacation for the lesser amount so that you get the most Disney for the vacation dollar.  If you book on your own you have to keep aware of the promotions and hope to get them before they are fully booked up.  I am usually up by 5 a.m. on these mornings and on the phone rebooking Clients so that before the sun even rises they’ve saved hundreds if not thousands by my efforts.

4.) It’s Still Your Vacation.  While I help you plan, by making your reservations, dining plans, changes to your tickets, and can answer any number of questions about the various parks and resorts, it’s still your vacation.  We consider our planning a partnership.  I want you to be as educated as possible so that you are able to navigate the parks once you arrive.  So I will send to you travel packets based entirely on your travel dates that showcases your resort, special events, what new changes have happened to the parks, your dining plans, nighttime fireworks and shows, Smart Phone apps, what parks to visit on which days and so on.  In addition I will constantly point out any information I find that will help you become a Disney veteran Guest so you know how to work through your vacation and don’t feel lost upon arrival.  I make it so that Clients also have any number of means for communicating with me.  I have answered my Clients questions via text while they are at the parks in order to fully assist them with Dining reservations, rebook events, or help point in them in the direction of the nearest Walgreens.  I’m here to support your vacation in any way I can.

5.) Agency Specific Offers.  Chances are if you book directly with Disney you can get the exact same amounts I offer.  It’s true.  But, in addition to all of the other services I provide I also offer Agency specific upgrades for our Clients.  From referral percentages to gifts for my clients to Disney Gift Cards to use for your vacation I am constantly taking feedback so that the offers we provide are consistent with what our Clients want.  Will Disney give you a gift card or referral amount for booking with them directly or alert you to new promotions?  Probably not.  But, we do because we want to earn your business with every service we offer and make you an invaluable member of our company.  So it’s a part of our make-up it’s a perk that we offer.

So, you can book on your own, you can.  I did for many years.  But, when I think back on the amounts I could have saved, time spent, and advice I didn’t heed eh, I wish I had.  I’m fiercely independent at heart, but sometimes it pays to shelve that DIY-ness and rely on someone with experience to step in and guide so that you get the most use out of your time and expenses.  I welcome your questions, your input, and yes if you are planning on a  Disney vacation I would be honored to provide you a quote so that I have the opportunity to show you what I can provide your family.  If you would like to contact me please feel free!  My email is amy@upanduptravel.net.  Or if you would like a quote you can click here to fill out our handy dandy quote request form.  I look forward to earning your business and your trust.  And work for you so that I can help your dream vacation reach it’s full potential.

Winds In The East, Our Review of Saving Mr. Banks

There are Spoilers in this Review.  So if you have not seen Saving Mr. Banks as yet and do not want some plot devices revealed spit spot and off you go.

Saving Mr. Banks is a film that is very difficult to just “sum up”.  One tries to think of a category to place it.  Family film, sure.  Drama? Has that.  Comedy? I chuckled several times more than the latest film I viewed that was actually billed as a comedy.  Musical? Yes. Can you get better than a revisit to the Sherman brothers?  Historical?  Yes.  So where do you put it?  Horror? There are plenty of things I could view in this film that would have been my personal childhood nightmare. Given what I know of this film and what I know of cinema in general I place it squarely in Disney as a category.  This is of course not a slight, it finds itself in wonderful and talented company, right along side the film it chronicles: Mary Poppins.

Like it’s predecessor, the film sits on the palette waiting to be savored.  Again like Mary Poppins, it’s hardly a one-note story, for within we find multiple personalities in conflict, resolution, artistic collaboration, isolation, reflection and as well we find questions and complexities of our human natures that make us pause before digestion.  It’s a fine meal of a film that asks at it’s heart if we can overcome the darkness present in the world and rewrite our own tragedies through the craft of story telling.

This film feels like an Open Letter of Apology addressed to one P.L. Travers a/k/a Hellen Goff.  Mary Poppins is one of the most mature films from the classic Disney lot & that I think is thanks in no small part to Mrs. Travers.  To wit Disney has acknowledged her collaboration in a more positive light.  Some hatchets take forever to bury.  And this over their falling out some 50 years ago over the chalk drawing animated sequence is no exception.  In popular view P.L. Travers has largely been identified as difficult, demanding, brutal and according to one Disney Legend lyricist “She was a witch.”  But, well begun is half done and Disney appears to be making an effort with this film to shine a light on this complex woman.  It is up to us the viewers to look at this story with new empathetic eyes.

Pamela, I beg pardon, Mrs. Travers

A tightly wound study of the proper governess of her stories.  She is their nursemaid & guardian in a culture clash between the literary world and the entertainment industry of Hollywood.  She is a woman combatting two sides of her nature, one handed down to her by her father, the other handed her by life’s cruel lessons; part a curious and heartbroken child, part a defiant yet isolated woman.  An actress when handed this role is handed no small task, and who else but Emma Thompson is up to this challenge?  Her Pamela is full of nuance, neurosis and empathy.  She is flesh and blood within the first scene.  And even though she delivers lines such as “Will the child be a nuisance, it is an 11 hour flight?” to a kind mother of an infant you start to feel empathy for this person over the film.  This is a tribute to Emma Thompson’s command of her craft.

Hers is a tale woven in the fabric of reflection.  Not just personal meditative reflection but in the story itself is running a parallel tract with her own childhood.  The flashback scenes  show that child that still resides deep in Mrs. Travers that she mourns for.  This mourning and internal conflict leads her from collaboration to self imposed isolation.  She says  about her creation             “(Mary Poppins) She doesn’t sugar coat the darkness that children must inevitably face.”  And no matter how beguiling and charming and downright friendly the folks at Disney are, Mrs. Travers attempts to remain an iceberg in the middle of Los Angeles.

“Don’t leave me.”  “Never.  I will never leave you.”

This is a film about Fathers and Daughters.  We see them on display in a number of ways: Walt’s promise to his daughters to bring the film to fruition; the driver Ralph and his concerns of daughter Jane, and in no uncertain terms Hellen Goff and Travers Goff.    And if ever there was a tale of childhood tragedy you need look no further than the Goff’s existence in Australia.

Her father, Travers, is stifled, a creative soul shoved into a suit and handed a ledger.  So he turns to the drink.  And becomes publicly embarrassed.  Then eventually passes from consumption.  There is again a tightly woven parallel between Travers Goff and George Banks and this passionate love for her father explains her apprehension to any changes to his representation on screen and in technicolor.  As a child Ginty Goff protected her father, idolized him; like her, he too was a flawed human being.

Another parallel is presented in Jane and Michael Banks letter, their kite and young Helen Goff’s poem and having her heart broken.  Her father angrily sober responds to her oeuvre: “It’s not Yates is it?” so Ginty retrieves the alcohol as she has realized that is what has made her father so childlike innocent and accepting.  The Banks’ torn kite is like Traver’s broken heart, her dismissed poem their likewise dismissed letter for a new nanny.  As her father dies in some ways so does Helen Goff’s childhood; her innocence of the hardships and cruelty in the World.  Travers Goff certainly had his own cage of circumstances handed to him by life, as do we all, and it’s a tragedy for a child to witness the public and private ruination of their parent.  That story turns for Mrs. Travers as finally the dam breaks: and by an ending rewrite that magical Hollywood panacea, Let’s Go Fly a Kite seems to be the thaw.  In one of the most joyous scenes Mrs. Travers is finally overcome as her own story is rewritten and her father is redeemed.  Her heart is finally mended, just like the kite.

That’ll Work

An American icon is a hard item to reproduce.  But Tom Hanks as Disney has that folksy jovial humor about him, and while his voice isn’t right, nor does he resemble him greatly physically, he favors Disney in his warmth and compassion but also in his directness in business and his appeal to do things better.  There are nuances such as Disney not having a great amount of compliments he  passed around, but if he handed an artist a “That’ll work.” they knew their job was done.  As well him clearing his throat before entering a room, and his tragic coughing that Disney fans know all to well was an early symptom of the illness that would eventually claim him, lung cancer.

Yes I cried when those gates parted and there was Walt smiling and waving.  For each time I enter a Disney Park, that’s what I think about, a gentle welcome from Uncle Walt saying “Thank you for visiting, please enjoy.”  And there it was on screen.

When I’ve told people how much I love Disney, they sometimes scoff.  And we see that on display here as Walt is scoffed at mercilessly as a fake, as schmaltz, as nothing more than the plasticine he sells in his gift shops.  But Walt is a story teller at heart.  He too is lovingly human in this film, and as he relates his own relationship with Elias Disney (who passed on while Walt was visiting South America and Walt unfortunately did not attend his funeral), you sense a fellow iceberg that goes deeper in relation to Mrs. Travers.  Walt was no Saint, but he wasn’t a Demon either.  He was a man, a beautifully gifted story teller, a master show man, a husband, a father, a son, a brother, and a visionary.

His promise that “George Banks will be redeemed” hits the need straight on in Pamela Travers heart.  I was advised by my mentor once to not ever look at things on the surface but when in negotiations always look for what that person needs to hear to be able to sleep at night with their decision, and to fulfill it if at all possible.  This is what Walt does in his visit to London.  He could assure that the color red would never appear in Mary Poppins, or waste bin the animated sequence, but if George Banks was not to be saved time and again, the story here wouldn’t have worked and I doubt the eventual film would gel into the Classic we know.

“That’s what storytellers do.  We restore order with imagination we instill hope again and again and again.”  There again that salvo that you can rewrite that pain of your childhood of tragedy of the ugliness that intercedes in our lives.  It’s all in how you choose to look at it and yes deal with it.  Hanks is a spoonful of sugar indeed.

Forget Ironic, That’s Iconic.

The supporting cast leaves nothing to be desired.  B.J. Novak as a combustible Robert Sherman is perfectly timed and exactly how I would imagine Bob Sherman would have reacted in those story meetings.  Jason Silverman as Richard Sherman imbibes that upbeat vibrancy and optimism in some ways you get from watching Dick play the piano.

Writing collaboration can at times be a nightmarish marriage of separate imaginations, this awkward relationship is perfectly displayed by the presence of Bradley Whitford as Mary Poppins screenwriter Don DaGradi.  His enthusiasm for the source material and ever hopeful approach to finding a way (any way!) to make this story happen is the perfect foil for Thompson’s no filter approach in the collaborative meetings.

Colin Farrell is loving, charming and tragic as the fated Travers Goff.  His turn as Travers father was heart rending and as honest as any portrayal I have seen of Farrell’s career.  Tragedy given as a beautiful relationship is sometimes the hardest to take, and Farrell handles his story arc with a deft, capable hand that leaves you ever hoping (like the process of watching one you love suffer from substance abuse) that he will become triumphant.

Paul Giamatti as Ralph, P.L. Travers optimistic driver plays the foil for Thompson with aplomb in his scenes.  His positive outlook even when facing personal struggles and ability to meet Travers on common ground is time well spent in the film.  I identified with this line in particular with regard to his special needs child: “You can worry about the future but you can’t do that.  Only today.” And as a parent to a child with a developmental disability this was a balm for me to hear in a film.  Because it rang out so true.  And the way it was delivered sounded as though it came from someone who has fought that battle, like all of us.

Here’s the thing, NO ONE felt like they were phoning it in, not one single person was a one-dimensional character.  Further supporting cast include the ever wonderful Kathy Baker as Walt’s Executive Secretary & Melanie Paxson as Dollie; and the Australian Goff family, Rachel Griffiths as Mary Poppins (sort of) in the flesh and Ruth Wilson as Margaret Goff, a mother and wife torn between love, duty, and public humiliation.

Each has their turn to shine, but it never feels unbalanced as if one person is walking away with the historically accurate scenery between their teeth.  They are all very real and play off of one another with a natural chemistry that belies a long term relationship of collaboration or familial ties.

Well Turned Out

As the director, John Lee Hancock has made a marvelous film.  The parallels between P.L. Travers journey to Hollywood and Hellen Goff’s journey to the end of the line Alora, Australia as a child starts off a domino effect of reflection.  This is handily and masterfully woven into the contents of the film to where the natural conclusions are drawn by the viewer and not forced.  It’s a gentleness in this direction, a capable hand guiding us through the necessary guide points so that we fully understand the underlying details that drive someone to seem as stiff and unrelenting.  To show us that not everyone is as we think they are at first glance.

Themes present in this film don’t feel slammed in your face but allowed to ruminate; they are present like the smell of water at Disneyland, fleeting but palpable.   It takes someone comfortable in their own craft to not hit you over the head with these ideas but to let you wade in at your leisure.

In Conclusion

Was there ever any doubt that when I finally saw this film I would fall in love with it?  Though I waited and watched friends and family see it I was warned to take kleenex, to not wear mascara, how good it was, and to watch Mary Poppins for a refresher.  And while I cried a little, I was deeply and sincerely moved by this experience and it brings to light relationships with our parents, with our children, and how we deal with our own tragedies with a spoonful of sugar.

What did you think of Saving Mr. Banks?  Share with us in the Comments Below: