Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party Dates Have Been Released!

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For Walt Disney World when the night air turns from swelter to cool and crisp in the evenings, that is the time when ghouls and goblins by the score roam Main Street U.S.A. in search of fun and frolic with their favorite Disney Characters!  Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party is an amazing hard ticket even offered on select nights inside of the Magic Kingdom.  On these nights every land in the Magic Kingdom is transformed in lighting, decorations & eery music and streetmosphere into a “not so scary” experience for the entire family!

The dates for the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World were released today along with pricing and here they are!

Walt Disney World:

Hours: 7:00 pm – midnight, Parade at 8:15 pm and 10:30 pm, Fireworks at 9:30 pm

Pricing does vary by Month, and as well as you get closer to Halloween itself the price per ticket goes up, as well you can save if you purchase in advance versus purchasing at the gate.  Several dates will sell out including Halloween Night so if you will be there over these dates and would like to go be sure to purchase well in advance.  Also if you are traveling to the parks during these dates and have already attended be advised the Magic Kingdom will close early on these dates:

September 1, 9, 12, 14, 16, 19, 21, 23, 26, 28, 2014

  • Advance Purchase:  Adult: $62.00 + tax, Child: $57.00 + tax

October 2, 3, 5, 9, 13, 16, 19, 21, 23, 26, 28, 2014

  • Advance Purchase:  Adult: $67.00 + tax, Child: $62.00 + tax

October 10, 17, 24, 30, 2014

  • Advance Purchase: Adult: $71.00 + tax, Child: $66.00 + tax

October 31, 2013

  • Advance Purchase: Adult: $77.00 + tax, Child: $72.00 + tax

 

Our family was delighted to experience this event in 2011 with our boys and my Grandmother and it was a highlight of our trip.  There are a few different offerings though that you will want to be aware of when planning to attend:

Everyone Can Dress Up!

Yes, even the adults.  Usually Disney has a rule that adults cannot dress up within their parks (especially as Disney characters) well on these nights they make an exception and EVERYONE can get in on the fun!  We saw a little Nemo Baby with two Jellyfish parents all the way to a fully decked out pirate family boarding Pirates of the Caribbean to the Muppets wandering around.  So long as it’s in “good taste” Disney usually delights in the creative endeavors of it’s guests.  Remember though the title of the party is “Not So Scary” so apply that accordingly to your costumes.  As well remember you aren’t in the Northeast for Halloween, you’re in Orlando, and yes in September and October it’s still very hot and humid and you can have storms creep in unannounced.  So plan your costumes to be a bit lighter than you would wear elsewhere.

 

Prepare for Loads of Candy

Even if you only do one or two candy trails you could walk out with the provided bags completely full to the brim.  Disney does provide a smaller bag when you come inside, but if candy is the name of the game for your kids you might want to bring another bag (Disney Shopping bags work awesome for this) to periodically dump the excess into.  We ended up bringing home enough candy to put our suitcase over the 50 pound limit so got another bag to put the candy and additional souvenirs into for the flight home.  If you or your child is diabetic, or has peanut allergies or any number of dietary restrictions that would mean they would need an alternative treat be sure to check in at Guest Relations and they will provide treats specifically for those dietary restrictions so all may partake!

 

This Is A Hard Ticket Event

The admittance for this party is considered a hard ticket event, meaning that your standard park admittance won’t allow you in.  In fact on these nights the Magic Kingdom closes early to day guests (usually 7 p.m.) so that those with a hard ticket are permitted to stay with less crowds.  The cost can be higher, so be prepared.  You can though enter the park any time in the afternoon to get the most out of the price.  I usually recommend a day plan like this: Stay in the resort, relax, swim, maybe visit Downtown Disney; have lunch, take a nap, then start getting ready around 2-3.  Arrive at the Magic Kingdom around 4 and have dinner at one of the many restaurants in the Magic Kingdom or surrounding resorts and then start going on attractions.  You will notice a shift in the guests in the following 2-3 hours as the day guests leave and the partygoers arrive in full force.

In the even of inclement weather, those aforementioned storms that can crop up, you can get a rain check for an alternate date the same year usually.  But if you are say leaving the next day it can be dicey.  Just remember there are no refunds on the purchase so if rain would keep you away you may want to plan for an October party versus a September date.

 

There Are Many Options So Choose Wisely

As with any Disney event they stock the parks with a great many touring options and special offerings to allow their Guests to get the most of their party dollar.  You can choose from Candy Trails, Dance Parties, Special Parades, Exclusive Character Meet & Greets (Captain Jack Sparrow is usually out and the Seven Dwarfs), Talented Streetmosphere (especially over at the Haunted Mansion) and a lot of merchandise.  So I suggest choosing 2 or 3 and prioritizing what you really really really want to experience and sticking with it.  We opted for a couple of character meet and greets, candy trails and hitting some attractions we hadn’t done earlier in our trip and as well of course going on the Haunted Mansion.  It was Halloween Night after all!  We also wanted to be sure to catch the Headless Horseman trotting through and see Hallowishes which in my review is probably the most impressive fireworks show in the Magic Kingdom’s calendar.

You can also listen to our experience as I was a featured guest on the Special Mouse Podcast episode all about touring Mickey’s Not So Scary!  Check it out here.

So in all it’s a wonderful experience, especially if you love Halloween and love Disney and you have kids like mine who despite being older elementary age still don’t go for gore and are more into spooky, but not TOO spooky!  If you would like assistance in purchasing tickets for Mickey’s Not So Scary on either coast be sure to contact Up & Up Travel, LLC at info@upanduptravel.com or Click Here to contact them via web form!

 

 

 

Arguments, Meltdowns and Unhappiness in the Happiest Place on Earth

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We’ve all been there.  We all know what it’s like to spend thousands of dollars, months of planning, nights dreaming, and years building the anticipation for a Disney vacation.  Only to have a speed bump or two happen once we arrive at our Destination.  You miss your ADRPeter Pan’s Flight ran out of Fast Passes.  There are WAY more people than you thought would be here in February.  The list of unplanned for issues or inconveniences are vast when you have so many Guests, in so many parks, operating for so many hours of the day.  And usually as is the case even with the most Saint like person there is literally only so much one person can take before all of those subtle disappointments boil over and guess what, You’re Grumpy.Grumpy_OK_214572K1a

I’ve been there.  But, guess what your spouse, traveling partners, etc. they usually are going through the same issues and add in heat, crowds, and sleep deprivation and you have the perfect brew for an argument.

Again, I’ve been there.  It’s not a topic a lot of people like to think about when planning vacation, is it?  I can count the number of times I’ve thought “I’ll be in Disney, why would be I upset.”  Only to get down there and things not go as planned totally and I reach a point where yes, I get grumpy and snippy.  Or my kids get tired and whiny.  Even the most open and honest family can get worn out and argumentative and if you look around you realize you aren’t the only ones feeling it.

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So how do you get over it when an argument happens?  I’ve broken down my way of dealing.  Not saying this is the perfect solution for everyone, but since I do have two young children and one with special needs I usually have to reign it in a bit.  The more I dramatize a situation or over emphasize a problem it can potentially escalate my youngest into stemming and lead him to meltdown.  So my husband and I have gotten pretty good at dealing with stresses in a quieter fashion, more direct and putting them behind us faster.  Keeps things from snow balling into our kids attitudes and behaviors later.

First, be honest with yourself.  Are you tired, stressed, are you down because things aren’t going the way you planned?  That’s the bane of being a Mom at Disney sometimes.  Not all the time, but sometimes.  Moms are the planners (usually) when it comes to planning Disney vacations.  And usually we are victims of our own hype.  We fantasize about those hugging Mickey moments, the perfect outfits for our darling children, being able to walk on rides with little to no wait.  And the reality is great and Magical moments happen.  They do at Disney, but yes there are lines, and if you go in the Summer there is heat, and if you pack custom clothing and ask your child to change 4 times a day for photo ops they are going to get tired of it.  Eventually.  So be honest about those emotions you are feeling, don’t slap a smile on your face and pretend.  Just clearly state, “I think I overdid this, or I thought this would be different.”  Now you can work on solving it.

Solving It – If it’s another person’s attitude or actions that are mucking up what you anticipated would be a glorious vacation deal with them directly.  But in an emotionally fair manner.  A phrase that is fair may be: “When we planned the trip I lined out how we needed to be at our ADR at 8:00, you agreed, but now it’s 9:00 and we missed it.  This really sets us back for the day, can you go ahead and get ready if I call and reschedule?”  Be flexible, don’t jump up and down yelling that you missed your ADR, it happens.  But, it also gives a subtle hey, you agreed to this come on we had a deal to your voice.  I’ve been very direct with my husband before. “I’m just disappointed that I spent all these months planning meals only to have to reschedule now we’re here.”  Again, you’re just lining out how you feel, nothing at all wrong with that.  You aren’t name calling, just stating a fact.  I feel disappointed, I feel upset by, I am stressed because.  You aren’t nagging but simply lining out how actions of others are making their eventual consequences in your emotions present.  Oncce the other person knows.  They can help solve the problem with you.  And as often is the case if you state how you feel as fact, they are more inclined to work with you.  If you go on the attack the human response is to defend and then it just takes longer to get back around to this point.  Choose your words carefully.

Breathe – You would be amazed at how breathing in through your nose and out through your mouth can calm you down.  We do a breathing exercise with our boys before we fly, if we are in tense situations (lines, travel, transitioning) and it helps your brain with a supply of oxygen literally function better.  Take a few breaths, deep breaths, step back think (always think before you speak) but think about the situation in a clear manner.  And I usually ask myself the following: “Is it as big of a deal as I am making it?”  “How could the other members of my family be viewing this trip, situation, etc.?” This usually helps me look at the problem in a more fair less persecuted way.

Compromise – That’s a hard pill to swallow when you really feel angry and wronged isn’t it?  The last thing you feel like doing is compromising any more at that moment.  But, I am going to tell you that is the best thing you can do to come up with an exit strategy.  Usually after I have said “I’m disappointed, stressed, upset because…” my husband will respond with a “Sorry. Um, what can I do to make you feel…?” Which usually makes it better in some ways, it’s not resolved but it’s better.  Then we usually come up with a plan.  Last time we were at Disney he wanted to stay in the room on our last night, needless to say I didn’t.  So I took the kids and went to the Magic Kingdom while he stayed in the room and rested up.  The boys and I had a wonderful time, he rested everybody won.  Would I have liked for him to come with us?  Sure.  But, I knew he was plain wore out after a week at the parks and wanted to rest a bit before our flight the next morning.  So I guess that leads me to my last point, know your family’s limits!

Oh and stay hydrated.  If you work on keeping your body cool you are likely to be more rational.  If you get hot literally, you also get hot figuratively.  Oxygen, H2O, and Compromise.  Be honest but never attack.  And hug it out!

What are some ways you get over disappointments or arguments when touring the Disney Parks?

Autism and WDW pt. 1

Traveling with children presents its own unique brand of challenges.  Add to that a developmental delay, processing disorder, sensorial processing disorder or Autism Spectrum Disorder and you have a whole kettle of items to plan for.

When my youngest son was 20 months we made our first family trip to Walt Disney World.  We didn’t know at the time, but our son was and remains Autistic.  I remember that trip set the alarm bells off as a mother when my child from his stroller screamed all the way back down Main Street after Wishes holding his hands over his ears and repeatedly pushing them in and out with a look of pain.  We couldn’t get out of the park fast enough.  And I remember my husband and I looking at each other like “What the heck is wrong?”  We thought a trip to Disney would delight both of our boys and slowly over the course of the next few days our youngest son adapted and we figured out what was stemming him (people being too close to his space, fireworks, other loud noises), so we changed our touring plans appropriately.  But, I will never forget the discussion my husband and I had immediately after the trip which started with, “We need to get him checked, this is more than just a speech delay…”

Now, our youngest son has toured the parks many times.  He loves going to Walt Disney World (especially the Haunted Mansion) and provided we tour at a different pace, he enjoys his time in the parks very much.  But, we have also adapted our behaviors, our expectations, and also we tour with certain items always at the ready.  I want to share as much as I can with you my readers in the hopes that anything we have found will help other families.  Disney is possible for children with ASD, it really is!

First and Foremost: Do Your Homework

If this is your first time visiting a Disney Park, like with all things ASD related, you need to do your research.  There are plenty of resources out there for people with disabilities and touring the Disney Parks.  I personally recommend the following Message Boards and Links:

Mouse-Aid: This is a great site full of information for families not just traveling to Disney (though that is a primary focus) but in general.  The folks on this site are kind and want to help as much as possible!

DISabilities Forum at TheDis: Another great message board.  If you have a question a lot of the posters have personal experience with your dilemma and have been there before.  Great place to get answers even while touring the parks!

Diz-abled.com: Another great link for tips on navigating Disney World with Autism

There are of course many more sites, interviews, and folks out there with great information.  The thing about Autism is it’s a Spectrum Disorder, what works for one child will not for another.  It is all about the sensitivities each child presents, how social they are, where they are verbally and so on.  You know your child best and if talking to a 5 foot tall Mickey will not thrill them, avoid the character meals.  But, if meeting Mickey is their top priority make sure to get in to see the main mouse!  We have found with our son the rules of fair play are very important and he understands every one in our travel party gets to take a turn picking an experience at the parks.  So, even if he doesn’t particularly care for Pirates of the Caribbean he will at least go on it one time for his brother.  If his brother wants a repeat, one of us will stay outside and let him look in the gift shop until the ride is over.  It’s all about compromise 🙂

Make A Plan 

Another item that my son loves is knowing, like Phineas and Ferb, what we’re going to do each day.  What is the plan, where we are going, knowing there is some structure and that we aren’t just loose in the wind.  So, each day I sketch out what park we will be going to, what attractions we hope to see (and I will even show him videos on YouTube of the attraction if available), where we plan on eating, etc.  I put these in colorful, character clad spreadsheets on my computer and in the months leading up to our departure we go through them together so he feels like he has some say over the vacation.

I can’t tell you the amount of tantrums it saves if we let him decide the first ride of the day on specific dates and our eldest son on other dates.  The fairness idea is being drummed into his head constantly at school, so it’s something he naturally is starting to get.  All we have to say if he starts getting upset is that him deciding every ride for our family (which would consist of the Haunted Mansion, El Rio de Tiempo and Muppet-vision 3-D over and over) wouldn’t be fair to Parker, and we love Parker right, we don’t want him to be sad?  That usually is enough to make him relent.  If not, we take a break and sit and do some breathing exercises until he calms.

**Of course, things do change sometimes, this is life, but we have found with both boys if we clearly explain in stages (to allow for processing time), that we can’t go to such and such attraction due to it being repaired for instance and give them time to understand, all the while repeating it in a calm clear manner, it lessens the tantrum that can ensue.  Also if we sweeten the deal with something they have been wanting to do like get ice cream it will usually re-direct them.**

Use the Internet To It’s Fullest

Walt Disney World and Disneyland have been some of the most photographed and video’d places on the planet. If you have a question as to whether or not your child will like a certain, show, attraction, character, etc. look it up on YouTube, on Google or anyone of the many Disney fan sites.  Let them see other vacation videos as well.  We have found that letting our son see other families enjoying the parks goes a long way to laying the ground work for him.

Talk with the School and Support

Our son is tended to every day by a Para-Educator and a support staff at school that help him learn adaptive learning & behaviors, stay on task, and aid the teacher in getting him from place to place.  Before we leave each time, and as soon as I make the reservation I text the dates to his Para.  She starts over the course of the next few weeks introducing it into their conversations at school.  For example if he is starting to get upset she may say, “Is this the way we are going to act in Disney?  How are we supposed to behave?” to start.  She will also be aware that we are going and that since our son tends to hyper-focus on our vacations in the weeks leading up that she will need to gently re-direct him back to his studies.  They also use Disney inspired treats and rewards to help when he doesn’t want to do his work & ultimately pushes through and does it.  We also ask for their assistance on what items we should take with us to keep him calm on the flight, in the parks, etc.  What breathing techniques are they currently using, what vestibular motion is leaning more towards in OT?  What non-verbal images/icons or hand signals are they using when he drops his speech and is stemming?  We are usually up on all of this stuff because we speak every day with them, but sometimes he changes on us and say wants to rock versus bounce so we try to make sure we can provide this while away.

Our Second Part will be on the travel day and how to prepare for driving or flying!

Toons for Tuesday!

We’ve decided, not nearly enough people know who Horace Horsecollar is, or Clarabelle Cow. Heck, there are some Disney fans who have trouble with discerning the relationship between Donald, Scrooge, and Huey, Dewey, and Louie.

So every Tuesday we will feature a Disney toon, some old some new. And maybe (if we’re lucky and can find one) a cartoon featuring the toon of the week. So without further ado one of Walt’s first creations, Oswald the Lucky Rabbit.

Originally introduced in “Trolley Troubles” in 1927, Oswald was co-created by Walt and Ub Iwerks for Universal Studios. Much has been written about the back and forth on the creation of this character, intellectual property rights, etc. However, it is interesting to note that Universal wanted a more plucky & determined fellow than Oswald, so he served as the basis for Walt’s next creation: Mickey Mouse.

Oswald was a star in his own right and for some 20 years his cartoons appeared. Though Walt lost the rights to Oswald, he was returned to the Walt Disney Company in 2006. Fans of Epic Mickey will note his character returned just in time to be utilized in the development of the story of the new gaming franchise; introducing Oswald to yet another generation of Disney fans.