Tuesday, March 10, 2015
Why use a Disney Travel Planner/Travel Agent
So you have decided to book a Disney Vacation. You have decided which Disney destination you want to enjoy. You’ve chosen how many days you plan on staying and what type of tickets you want. You may have even decided what hotel you want to stay at. So now to book the trip! Do you call a Travel Agent or book directly with Disney?
Yes, you can book directly with Disney for any and all Disney Destinations. You will get a clearly stated price and they will tell you about any current deals being offered for the time of your stay. They will give you all the choices and gladly tell you the pros and cons of each.
You can book with a Travel Agent (TA). You will get a clearly stated price and they will tell you about any current deals being offered for the time of your stay. They will give you all the choices and gladly tell you the pros and cons of each.
Wait?!?!? They offer you the same things! You will get the same price for the same thing from each. So why not just do it all yourself and skip the Travel Agent (TA)?
While the prices may be the same but the service offered is different. If you go through Disney book and later on Disney offers a special deal for the time you will be there they will not tell you about it. A good TA will keep track of the specials being offered and be glad to assist by making sure you get them if they apply to your booking. Besides possibly saving you money a good TA will also offer to make all your Advanced Dinning Reservations and Fastpass+. Anything to make your trip more magical a TA will assist.
Your TA will call ahead to Disney and make sure they know about any and all special celebrations on your trip. An excellent TA will follow through before, during and after your trip making sure things are going as you wish. A Travel Agent trained to do Disney Travel does not cost extra. We do it because we love to help make the Magic Happen.
So the next time you are planning a Disney Vacation, does not matter if it is Disneyland Resort, Disney World Resort, Disney Cruise Line, Disney’s Aulani Resort and Spa or an Adventures by Disney tour contact your favorite Disney Travel Agent for a quote. Quotes are free. Have questions about your Disney Destination? Ask your Travel Agent! If they don’t know the answer they can find out for you.
Do you want to ask me questions or ask for a quote or ask questions? Feel free to contact me at TinkysMagicalStarr@yahoo.com
I’m a member of the team at Magical Starr Travel:
You can request a quote at:
You can request my services by clicking
Carolyn “Tinky” Hoagland for your choice of Travel Agent
Is the Disney Cruise Line Disability Friendly?
I’m going to start out with sharing my experiences doing the Disney Cruise with people with disabilities, medical equipment, vision and hearing loss and dietary limitations.
My first cruise was in 2005. It was a large group of 15 family and friends. We had 3 people with mobility issues and used electric scooters. 2 of the 3 were also showing signs of dementia and would get lost easy. 2 people had diabetes. 4 had food allergies. Several just were picky eaters that I’ll add in to the same treatment as fool allergies. 1 had major vision issues.
First off for the mobility issues there are special staterooms with better accessibility. The staterooms have the following amenities for guests with mobility issues:
· 32” (minimum) doorways
· Ramped bathroom thresholds
· Open bed frames
· Additional phones in the bathroom and on the nightstand
· Bathroom and shower handrails
· Fold-down shower seats
· Hand-held shower heads
· Lowered towel and closet bars
· Emergency call buttons
The following special equipment is available upon request:
· Bed board
· Portable toilet
· Raised toilet seat
· Shower stool
· Transfer bench
· Stateroom communication kits containing door knock and phone alerts, phone amplifier, bed shaker notification, a strobe light smoke detector and a Text Typewriter (TTY)
Wheelchair-Accessible Staterooms have wider doors and feature a wider path of travel inside the stateroom to give clearance for access to the entire room. If your mobility equipment will not fit inside your stateroom just ask your room steward and they will tell you where to park it. Just don’t leave it sitting in the halls.
For the 3 with mobility issues we usually had some of the able bodied of the group with them. We worked out going as a train. In the front with someone walking beside to guide was dad. Dad had both mobility, minor dementia and vision issues. Next was mom who had mobility issues. Coming up as the caboose was a family friend with mobility issues and dementia. An able walker went beside him to keep him from wondering off. 99% of the ship is accessible. That 1% that is not you are close enough to say you were there so it is not an issue.
Because we had told Disney Cruise Line ahead of time of the mobility issues and discussed the need for 1 of the 3 to stay on their scooter while dining every night at dinner there was a space left for him without a chair. It was always place to make it easy for him to pull up and out. There are also alternative entrances to some of the restaurants with ramps to avoid stairs.
Each scooter was equipped with a squeeze type bike horn. They would honk back and forth as they went down the halls so they knew they were all still together and nobody was left behind. If they had to split up to use the elevator someone always stayed behind to help those left get to where they needed to go.
You might think that the crew and other guests might get upset by the use of the bike horns. It was quite the opposite! Guests and crew would laugh as they saw our crazy human train head down the halls and decks. When we would go into our assigned restaurant each night the serving staff would run across the restaurant to honk the lead horn we went across the room to our table.
Our cabin was near my folks. We shared the same cabin steward. The steward would come to us with questions or concerns about my folks. Did they need a snack that night? Was the bed turned down far enough to make it easy for dad to get into bed? Did they need ANYTHING at all? I could not have asked for better service.
There are transfer devices at the pools for those with mobility issues. You will just need to transfer to the transfer seat. If you can’t do it without help make sure a member of your traveling party is there to help you. Disney Crew can not help.
The only problem we had with those with mobility issues was the tendering into port. When you tender into port you need to transfer to a smaller ship. If you can’t get down the stairs from your Disney Ship to the tender boat you can’t go. Also there most likely is not room mobility devices on the transfer boat. There is no way to get an electric scooter onto one.
My husband uses a CPap machine at night. It requires water to operate and when we arrived in our stateroom a bottle of water was waiting for his use, no charge for the water! Our room steward kept an eye on the level of water and when it got low asked if we needed more.
My husband is also hard of hearing and has difficulty hearing movies or shows. Disney had options for us! Movies had portable closed caption screens you could use. Live shows had headphones you could use.
Our daughter (at time of trip 10 years old) has ADHD and gets excited easy. She tends to lose control when she is overstimulated. We found plenty of quiet spots on the ship for her to calm down. She also had plenty of places it was more than acceptable for her to run and play, burning up the energy.
There are special viewing areas for shows, movies and deck parties for those in wheelchairs or scooters. They are usually in really good positions for viewing the shows and give good unobstructed views.
Disney’s Castaway Cay Island was designed to give those with disabilities the most access possible. There are paved pathways to shops and restaurants. Sand wheelchairs are available for free to give access to the beach. These are on a first-come, first-served basis. The tram is equipped to allow guests in manual and electric wheelchairs to board. Accessible restrooms are available.
For more information on what is available for those with disabilities on a Disney Cruise check the link below. If you can’t find your answer ask me. I’ll be happy to find out the answer for you.
I am a Travel Agent with Magical Starr Travel that has a subspecialty of helping those with disabilities. Feel free to contact me for help with your travel plans. My services are free. Just select "Tinky".
Saturday, March 7, 2015
Navigating Disney Parks Disability Access System (DAS)
Quick Overview and How/When to Ask for It
The DAS (Disability Access System) at the Disney Parks is to assist those with disabilities have access to the attractions.
In simple terms the DAS system is to help those with Disabilities have the access they need. With the fact that Walt Disney World Parks and Disney California Adventure Park were built after the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) went into effect it means they comply with ADA laws. That means the lines for the attractions and show areas are designed with disabled access in mind. The lines are wide enough to accommodate wheelchairs and scooters and if the loading area is not accessible they have a secondary loading area. Disneyland on the other hand was made before ADA laws and lines do not always accommodate wheelchairs and scooters. Many of these lines can’t be changed due to space limitations. Disneyland has separate lines set up for wheelchairs/scooters where applicable. What does this all this ADA information mean? It means that just because you have a mobility issue you will not automatically be given a DAS Pass. You can sit on your scooter/chair in the regular lines.
So if the DAS is not for “physical disabilities” that require mobility devices what is it for? It is for those with issues that make being in long lines hard or impossible. Mostly it is for those with cognitive disabilities. Autism, extreme ADHD, Panic Attacks and PTSD are several things that fall into the list. But that is not the only thing. If you have a physical disability that makes sitting or standing in one place impossible/dangerous then you can get the DAS Pass.
So how do you get a DAS Pass? Go to Guest Relations in any park. Be ready to explain your disability. Tell them in simple terms why you need help and what your limitations are. BE HONEST!! Do not lie and ask for the DAS when you don’t truly need it. Be persistent if you truly need it. If you tell them you can’t stand for a long time they may well tell you to go rent a wheelchair or scooter so you can sit. Don’t be intimated by their questions nor the fact they may say no at first. They are not there to outright deny you the pass or judge you. They are there to weed out those that are faking and taking advantage to “cut lines”. They are there to find the best possible option for you. As long as you honestly need it and you are willing to explain why you need it they will at least try. If your disability makes you nervous talking in a loud room ask to be taken to a back stage quiet room to discuss your needs.
For further information on how DAS works check out an earlier blog post:
Yes it does repeat some of the same information I just gave but it is important information and people have told me they can’t get DAS when I know they should.
Thursday, March 5, 2015
Tinker Bell and Legend of the Neverbeast – Non Spoiler and Spoiler Review
Tinker Bell and the Neverbeast is the latest direct to video release in the series of Tinker Bell Pixie Hallow themed movies from the DisneyToon Studio. It was released March 3rd, 2015.
In this movie the Fairies of Pixie hallow face the unknown. At the very beginning Fawn, an animal fairy shows she has a big hart but does not always make wise choices. Her heart leads her decisions and this often leads to danger.
This movie shows the importance of following your heart while still using your brain to make good choices. Other things it teaches is not judging others by how they act and look.
I think this is a very good movie for families. It has a good heart, wonderful animation and great acting.
Now for the spoilers. Stop here if you don’t want spoilers!
While the movie is called Tinker Bell and the Legend of the Neverbeast the main Pixie is Fawn, not Tinker Bell.
Fawn saves and hides a baby hawk, the natural enemy of the fairies. As she is taking the hawk to be released the baby becomes afraid. It cries and adult hawks hear the sound and come to its rescue. They attack the fairies and a group of fairies called Scouts come and chase them off. Fawn is chastised for letting her heart lead her decisions.
Fawn tries to follow the rules and be responsible. She does not want to put Pixie Hallow at risk again. There are several opportunities for her to make mistakes but she resists and uses her head to control her heart.
A comet hits near Pixie Hallow. As it hits a roar is heard. Fawn wants to go and check out the animal that made the sound. She fights with herself trying to follow her head not her heart. She loses the fight and goes off to see what the creature who made the sound is. She finds a large vicious looking beast.
Gruff is the “Neverbeast”. Fawn is afraid of Gruff at first but she notices he has a thorn in his paw. Fawn follows him around until she is able to pull the thorn out. While following him around Fawn sees he is building towers. Gruff is taking rocks and spit to make the towers. Fawn takes to helping him and turning it into a game. This leads to a friendship between the two.
While Fawn is studying Gruff the Scouts are also trying to figure out what animal made the frightening roar. After looking Nyx, the leader of the Scouts comes to the conclusion that it is a monster that has come to destroy Pixie Hallow.
Fawn tries to take Gruff to the Queen to prove he is no threat. Instead she hears Nyx talking about how the comet had woken up a monster that would destroy Pixie Hallow. Instead of telling the Queen about Gruff she tries to hide him. As Gruff is trying to finish the last of four towers the Scouts trap him. The green clouds create lightning. Gruff accidently hurts Tink.
Gruff runs to the first three of the four towers and collects the lightning. He is changed. He starts to become the “monster” that the leader of the Scouts said he was. Fawn sees him attack Tink and helps Nyx and the Scouts catch him. Once Gruff is caught the lightning strikes. Things turn from bad to worse. Fawn realizes something is wrong. She sees Tink is ok. Tink tells her that Gruff saved her life. He actually knocked her over to keep her from being hit by a falling tree.
Fawn figures out that Gruff is not there to destroy Pixie Hallow he is there to save it! Is it too late? The flower pollen that the Scouts used has made it so Gruff can’t see. How can he do what he needs to do if he can’t see? Fawn realizes Gruff can see her glow. She guides him from one town to the next catching the lightening. As he is hit by lightning Gruff changes. He grows bat like wings and also horns. As they approach the last tower Nyx destroys the last tower!
Fawn realizes Gruff can’t collect the lightening without the towers! Lightning strikes all around starting fires and destroying Pixie Hallow. Lightning almost hits Nyx. Gruff saves her! Once again risking all to protect a fairy. Fawn strikes upon the idea to head straight into the heart of the clouds. She figures going straight to the source Gruff can get the lightning.
Fawn and Gruff fly up and Gruff does the job he was destined to do. Fawn and Gruff fall from the sky! Nyx leads the charge to catch them and break their fall. Gruff’s wings are burned to a crisp and his horns are charred stubs. They shrivel up and turn to dust. Fawn is laying unresponsive on the ground. The fairies have gathered around and are trying to help Fawn. They know there is nothing they can do. Gruff sees Fawn and crawls over and whimpers. A charge of electricity gathers around him and Fawn takes a little shock and starts to breathe!
For a short time Fawn and the other fairies enjoy Gruff being around. He helps and even protects the fairies. Soon Fawn notices Gruff is slowing down. Having read the Legends about the Neverbeast Fawn realizes he is about to go into hibernation. She realizes she will not see him again. She is sad that she will not see him but thankful for what he has done.
Wednesday, March 4, 2015
Disney Cruise Line Navigator App Part 2
There is even more to the Disney Cruise Line Navigator App than what I posted in my first post. Thank you to my good friend, Elizabeth Garcia for sharing her screen shots of the app with me.
As I stated in my first post it is a countdown clock for your trip when home. Here is a shot of my countdown as of today. This is the only part of the app that works from home.
It is easy to access the app and it gives you step by step directions on how to turn it on once you are on the ship. Once on the ship and you turn it on there is a host of fun things to do.
You can Navigate your way around the ship and explore it with confidence with the deck by deck maps.
You can check the scheduled events to see if there is a special even you wish to do . . . before going to the pool and just relaxing. You can even save times and events to a list!
It even gives you the times of the movies playing onboard the ship.
Check the schedule for the pools, restaurants and see what spa treatments are available. You can even find out where and when your favorite character will make an appearance.
Disney Cruise Line has a special Drink of the Day each and every day. You can use your app to see what it is.
When you are in port they give you general information about the port and the hours the ship will be there. Here is the map and schedule from Castaway Cay, Disney’s Private Island.
This app almost (but not totally) does away with the need to carry a Wave Phone around the ship! You can chat via text messages on the ship using your personal phone, the DCL Navigator App and the ships free WiFi for using the Navigator App.
Will the DCL Navigator App replace the need for Wave Phone all together? If you have young children in the Kid’s Clubs I don’t think so. Unless your child has and can easily use a cell phone I think the Wave Phone is still one of the best ways for the Crew in the Kid’s Clubs to reach you if there is a need.
Now that I’ve mentioned Wave Phones I’d better say what they are. Disney Cruise Line has 2 phones in each room that you can use while on the ship. You can call and text other people on the ship using them at no cost. You can get extra Wave Phones for your room for a small per day charge. With the Navigator App you can eliminate the need for the extra Wave Phones for older children and teens that are responsible enough to use their cell phones on the ship.
See my first blog post here:
Saturday, February 28, 2015
Disney Cruise Line Navigator App
I’ve book a Disney Cruise and I’ve found that the Cruise Line has come up with a new way for you to keep updated with what is going on on the ship. It also allows you to explore the ship and find your way around. I’m looking forward to using this app.
One of the most important thing to do on the ship is keep informed of the scheduled events. Our first cruise we missed many things we would have enjoyed if we had only known about them. On the ship they give you a printed schedule each night for the next day. It tells you what show or deck party is on for that night. You can find out about specials in the spa and shops. Information on Ports of Call and events throughout the days at sea. Times and locations of character meet and greets and special events in the Kids Clubs. Everything for every member of the family is listed in the Personal Navigator. The printed copies of the Personal Navigator only have that day’s schedule. You can’t find out what is happening on future days nor can you check to see if a tour or event will be repeated on another day.
This new app is a way to keep the Navigator with you electronically instead of carrying around a crumpled piece of paper! You just need to keep your smart phone or tablet with you.
With the Navigator App you can quickly find up to date information on:
· Character Experiences
· Deck Parties
· Live Shows
· Nightclubs and Lounges
· Ports of Call
· Spa Services
· Youth Clubs
You can also:
· See what’s happening every minute of every day of your cruise
· Save favorite activities to one convenient list
· Explore the ship from bow to stern, deck by deck
To use the app you download it to your phone or tablet before leaving home. It is available in both the Apple App Store and Google Play Store. It will work on both iOS and Android devices in all countries except Japan.
To use the Navigator App onboard the ships put your device in Airplane Mode and turn on WiFi. Connect to the DCL Guest WiFi for free. The Navigator App only fully works while on the ships.
At home you can use the Navigator for a Cruise Countdown Clock but that is the only use for it at home. You can’t even explore the ship’s deck plan.
Why use the Navigator App instead of carrying around the printed Personal Navigator:
· You have a countdown clock while waiting
· You can look and the entire trips schedule not just the one day at a time
· Being able to look at the entire trips schedule you can see if things are repeated and make better choices about what to do
· If changes are made to the ships schedule the Navigator App will updated automatically where the Printed Navigator will not be, printed additions will be given but you have to wait for them to be printed and delivered to your stateroom
· You are able to keep a running list of your not to be missed events on the ship
· You can easily look up hours of operation of the different venues on the ship
· You can always find you way around the ship with the Navigator Apps Deck Plan
· Remember it is totally free to download and use on the ship
What is the downside of using the Navigator App:
· It does not do much for you at home other than being a great countdown clock for your cruise
· You have to carry your phone or tablet while on the ship so you have your wave phone and cell phone or tablet so it is one more thing to keep track of
· Your personal phone will only function for the Navigator App unless you pay extra for WiFi connection or cell phone service – both are very costly and Internet is slow and restricted while on the ship
Over all I think the Navigator App looks good, especially for first time cruisers. Most people are now use to using their smart phones for finding information and maps. People usually keep track of phones but lose papers.
I believe being able to look at the schedule of events for the entire trip and make decisions based on more complete information is exciting and will make the trip more enjoyable.
So Bon Voyage and smooth sailing!
See Part 2 at:
See Part 2 at:
Wednesday, November 19, 2014
Changes to the DAS (Disability Access System) at the Disneyland Resort
First off what is DAS. DAS is the system at the Disneyland and Walt Disney World Resorts intended to help Guests whose disability prevents them from waiting in a conventional queue environment. It is not intended for those with mobility issues only. Those with mobility issues in wheelchairs and ECVs will go into regular Standby Lines where the lines can accommodate and into special lines where they don’t. Everybody can use the FastPass and FastPass+ systems. (Note: Disneyland was built before the ADA laws so some lines do not accommodate wheelchairs or ECVs and Disney has long had policies in place to accommodate. Disney California Adventure is ADA compliant so lines there will accommodate wheelchairs or ECVs.)
Who will this help? It will help those with cognitive and behavioral disabilities or those physical disabilities that make confined spaces or long periods of confinement hard. Some examples are Autism, ADHD, Anxiety, Brain Injury and PTSD. If the person has a medical condition of any kind that makes it so they legitimately can’t cope for the length of time it takes to do a regular stand by line ask at Guest Relations about the DAS.
How do you get a DAS? Stop by City Hall or the Chamber of Commerce at Disneyland and Disney California Adventure and discuss your needs with the Cast Member there. Take the Tickets or Annual Passes for everybody in your group when you talk to them. They will give you the appropriate level of help. They do not need or want a doctors not or proof of disability. They will fill out a form explaining your needs and take your picture. They will then link your DAS with your Ticket or Annual Pass. (Before they use to print up a paper card. This system is new as of 11/19/14.) It will be good for the length of stay or a maximum of 60 days.
When discussing your need of a DAS with the Cast Member remember that mobility issues alone will not qualify you for the DAS. You must tell them why you can’t stay in a long line. If you can’t stand long they will suggest you get a wheelchair or ECV and not give you a DAS. If you can’t do stairs they will say stay in the regular line and tell the Cast Member at the attraction you need to bypass any stairs on entrance or exit. Please do not lie and say you have ADHD or some other issue if you do not to qualify. This just makes it harder for those that really need the help to get it. Be honest and tell them truthfully the legitimate reason you can’t be in line for over 30 minutes or so.
You are only allowed to have one Return Time at a time with DAS. The Return Time is just like a FastPass Return Time. The only difference is a DAS Return time is 10-15 minutes less than the regular Standby Line wait time for the ride you request it for. Example: You ask for Space Mountain as your next Attraction. The Standby Line for Space Mountain is 60 minutes long at that time. Your Return Time will be for 50 minutes from the time issues. You can have only one Return Time at a time. You can use the DAS system in conjunction with the FastPass system. Unlike the FastPass your Return Time for DAS does not expire.
You will pick your first attraction while at Guest Relations getting your DAS and be given a Return Time to ride. After your first ride you can choose your next attraction at any of Kiosks located around both Disneyland and Disney California Adventure. Anybody in the party can go to get the Return Time after the DAS is issued. Just take all the tickets for everyone in your group who will be riding that attraction when you go. You can get a Return Time for Attractions in either park from any Kiosk.
The person named on the DAS must ride the attraction for the party to ride. They will be required to show their ticket for the party to ride. You will personally be responsible to keep track of your return time. They will not give you any written reminder. I suggest setting an alarm on your phone or watch, take a pad of paper to write it down, make a note on your phone or send yourself a text with your Attraction and Return Time information.
DAS is good for the guest and up to 5 others or a party of 6. Larger groups can be accommodated but you need to talk to Guest Relations for approval. You can change the number of people in your group at any Kiosk that gives Return Times.
If you are unsure if you need DAS or if you qualify for DAS ask the Cast Member at Guest Relations. If you don’t think the DAS system will give you the assistance you need then tell them what assistance you need and why.
Here is a list of where the Kiosks are at this time:
For more information check out the Disneyland website section on DAS:
After a long conversation with Disney I found out that this same system is going to be implemented at Walt Disney World sometime in the future. The date has not been set as of yet.