Saturday, February 28, 2015

Disney Cruise Line Navigator App

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
·        Dining
·        Entertainment
·        Live Shows
·        Nightclubs and Lounges
·        Ports of Call
·        Spa Services
·        Shopping
·        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!

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Changes to the DAS (Disability Access System) at the Disneyland Resort

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.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Big Hero 6 No Spoiler Review

Big Hero 6 Review – Non Spoiler

Big Hero 6 is loosely based upon a Marvel Super Hero Comic that was published in 1998 and had a mini-series of comics in 2008. The action of Big Hero 6 takes place in the fictional town of San Fransokyo (a mix of San Francisco and Tokyo).

14 year old Hiro Hamada is a genius robotics expert who spends his time engaging in back alley robot fights. His older brother, Tadashi is concerned and encourages him to continue his education by going to university with him. At first Hiro is uninspired with the idea and calls it Nerd School but after taking a look gets excited and decides to go.

Tadashi dies and Hiro is tossed again into depression and at a loss with what to do with his life. Hiro refuses to go to school or talk to friends. Baymax, a health robot made by Tadashi shows up in the room that Hiro and Tadashi shared. Baymax sees Hiro’s emotional pain and calls Tadashi’s friends and fellow students, GoGo, Honey Lemon, Wasabi and Fred to help Hiro deal with his loss.

Big Hero 6
Fred, GoGo, Baymax, Hiro, Honey Lemon and Wasabi

Hiro finds a supervillain and changes Baymax from a health robot to a fighting machine. He teams up with Tadashi’s friends from school and they work together to confront the villain and find answers.

Hiro finds out how to survive the loss of his brother and find acceptance. He learns to look out for others as his brother looked out for him. He learns compassion and forgiveness. In short Hiro learns to “Keep Moving Forward” as Walt Disney would say.

I give this movie 2 wings way up! Go see it and enjoy! Stay until the very end of the credits and see if you can identify the Marvel mainstay in the cameo. Enjoy the high quality animation, it is worth seeing in 3D.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Traveling Disney Parks with Babies and Children

Traveling Disney Parks with Babies and Children

Traveling to a Disney Park with an infant or young child can be daunting. There are many concerns. What supplies do you need? What accommodations are available inside the parks and at the Disney hotels? Is it worth the stress? Should you wait until they are old enough to remember the trip?

First off if your child is very young (under 2 or 3) they may not be able to remember this special trip, so why take them? Because YOU will remember it! You will have precious memories of your child at Disney. You will have pictures of your little prince or princess with the Disney characters that soon will become part of their lives through cartoons and movies. These will become part of their memories by you telling the stories and showing them the pictures.

There are lots of ways to make taking a baby or young child to Disney easier. Bring or rent a stroller for a young child. Bringing your own stroller can be a chore if you are flying. Checking it in and picking it up and the risk of loss or damage make it a risk as well as a hassle to bring your own strollers. The Disney Strollers are good enough for a single day but if you are staying multiple days you may want to consider renting from an outside rental company that will allow you to take the stroller back to your hotel either on property or off. Do you really want to carry your child back to the hotel from the park? How about the hassle of having to check in the stroller at one park when going to another in the same day? Here are two companies recommended by the Disney Experts at the Disney’s Mom’s Panel.

Disneyland and the California area:
Walt Disney World and the Orlando, Florida area:

Both of these companies deliver to your hotel and provide the extras needed upon request. You can order cribs and other needs as well. You can take your strollers out of the resort and to different resorts and areas if you wish.

Restrooms around the parks have changing stations so you can care for your little one. But when you need a quiet place to nurse, feed or just let your little one calm down check out the Baby Care Centers in each and every Disney Park. At the Baby Care Centers you can warm bottles, change diapers and clothing, nurse in privet and just find a quiet place rest.

While traveling around the parks you will find many rides your little bundle of joy can’t go on. You have a choice. You can skip the attractions all together or do child swap. One parent stays with the child while the other rides. This works really well if you have an extra family member or two come along. One parent can wait with the child, the other rides the attraction. When they return the parent that wait hands the child over to another family member and the parents can go ride the attraction together.

While at the parks look for quiet places to let your little one relax for a few. You can find these spots in restaurants and little off the path areas. Just keep your eyes open for an open bench in the shade. If they fall asleep in the stroller so much the better!

When taking a toddler be aware they may be afraid of characters. Please don’t force little ones to get their picture with Mickey if a tall Mouse panics them. Hold them, tell them what will happen before you go up to the character. Let them watch others be close to Mickey and see they are safe. I know you want the cute picture of your tot hugging Mickey and Minnie all smiles but it is not worth making them afraid of the characters for the rest of their lives.

Give your child a chance to rest! Be aware of their physical limitations. Your time will be much more enjoyable if you return to the hotel for a nap and maybe a swim. Be aware of the weather as well. Is it so hot it will tire your kiddo out faster? Are they so cold they are grumpy? Get them comfortable and let them rest. Do not push them further than their little bodies can take. Be aware that their little ears are more sensitive than yours. Is the music and sound effects too loud for them? Bring cotton to put in their ears or some other type of ear protection. Make sure they have shade in their stroller to protect them from the sun and bring sunscreen for them. Make sure you have plenty of the food and drinks they enjoy.

Adults and other kids think of all of Disney Parks as giant playground. Smaller children get bored easy. Make sure you give them time to play and run around. Little ones that are learning how to crawl or walk need the time and space to practice. Let them out and about some. Bring some toys, books, blankie or other comfort item. This is especially true if the child is ADHD or has other special needs. There are places at the parks and hotels to let a child be a child. Tom Sawyers Island and Challenge Trail are just two of the spots at the Disneyland Resort. Every park has several areas for kids to let of pent up energy. It is up to you to make sure it happens.

The most important this is ENJOY!! You are there to walk in Walt Disney’s Dream of having a place where families can “play” together! Just do what is natural and right for your family and if that means only spending a few hours a day in the park and heading back to the hotel then it is worth it.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Can you help me with An Angel Remembers 25 Voices of Christmas?

Can you help me with An Angel Remembers 25 Voices of Christmas?

I'm working hard at getting my book, An Angel Remembers 25 Voices of Christmas published before Christmas. I'm doing Print on Demand publishing with Outskirts Publishing. They will get the book into Amazon as both print and Kindle as well as into many other online book retailer sites. To do this I need money to get the ball rolling. Can you help? Any donation is gratefully accepted!

Here is one of the stories from An Angel Remembers:


My name is Isaac. I’m five years old; my Papa owns one of the shops on Market Street. We live aboves the shop. Papa got a man to make new tables and things for his shop. Joseph – dats da guy – had a new baby. My Mama took me to visit dem. My Mama told me I had to be very quiet as we visited ‘em. She said they had a new baby and the new mama must be all tired. All babies need lots of sleep too.
When I walked into da stable where they were staying there was lots of people. There was da shepherds with all those sheep, Joshua, da innkeeper, and all his family and a whole lot of other strange people!
The strange people were mostly very big. Bigger than my daddy!! One of them was very small, lots smaller than me even! I’ve never seen people like them before. They all had the prettiest wings I’d ever see, even da little one! The little one was sitting on the manger softly singing to the baby. The little one called me over to look at the baby! The baby was so beautiful! He smiled at me when I tickled His chin!
I tried to show Mama all the people in the stable, but she could not see ‘em. She kept telling me to be quiet and to stop being silly and making up stories. But I was not telling stories!
As the boy got bigger we played together! He was real fun! He could talk to the animals and they would do what He said. Even our big nasty cat liked Him. It scratched everyone but Him! He always had a lot of those strange people around Him. I like Nahem, the littlest of His friends the best. Nahem sang the prettiest songs and told the funniest stories! Nahem would even play games with us. I miss playing with Jesus and His friends.
My Mama still says that I need to stop telling make believe stories about seeing those strange people. She does not believe I have seen them around Him. But I know I saw ‘em! Nahem told me who “HE” is. Do you want to know who He is?

Thursday, October 16, 2014

What is Disney’s DAS and how does it help?

What is Disney’s DAS and how does it help?
Doing Disney with Disabilities

 The Disney DAS (Disability Access System) is how Disney helps those with disabilities enjoy the parks.

Let’s start off with what it is not. DAS is not a front of the line pass for anybody with any disability. A DAS Card is not issued to all disabled guests. It is not for all guests with mobility issues.

What is DAS? It is a Fastpass type return system for guests with disability limitations that make it difficult for them to be in long lines. For example the DAS system is for guests (young or old) that have cognitive disabilities such as ADHD, Autism and Traumatic (or other types) Brain Injury. If a person gets overly nervous or upset in lines then a DAS Card can truly save the day. It is good for the guest with disabilities and those in their party as long as the person that the DAS card is issued too rides the attraction with the party. You can only have ONE Return Time at a time. Once you use the Return Time you can get another.

So what do you do if you have mobility issues? You may not need to get a DAS Card. Instead just go into the regular queues for all rides. All lines at Walt Disney World parks and at Disneyland Resorts Disney California Adventure are designed to accommodate wheelchairs and ECVs. Disneyland Park has many lines that are NOT equipped to handle wheelchairs and ECVs. There are special secondary lines for wheelchairs and ECVs at Disneyland. My recommendation for those with mobility issues is take advantage of the regular Fastpass and Fastpass+ Systems. Have family and friends go to get passes is possible so you don’t have to wheel around the parks.

The exception to the above statement about mobility issues is Disneyland Park. Built before the days of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) many of the queues do not accommodate wheelchairs and ECVs. They have secondary lines for those with mobility issues and you can get a DAS card to use for those attractions. Some secondary queues do not require a DAS. It is still NOT a front of the line pass and many of the wheelchair lines are longer than the normal standby line. Not all attractions at the Disneyland Resort use a DAS Card for mobility issues. This is especially true for Pirates of the Caribbean and Space Mountain.

So how do you get and use the DAS? Go into any of the Guest Relation buildings at any of the Disney Parks and request one. You will need to discuss your needs with the Cast Member at Guest Relations. They will not look at Doctors notes or medical records so you don’t need to bring them. You just need to tell them why you need it. I’ll be honest if you have ADHD or some other issue that makes it hard for you to stand in long lines let go of some of your emotion control and let them see what might happen if you lose it. Don’t get upset or rude. Just let them see your disability for what it is. DAS cards can be issued for the guest and their party, up to 4 people total on just the word of the guest getting the DAS. For groups over 4 the entire group needs to go to Guest Relations and show the Cast Member how many people are in the party.

You will get to pick your first Return Time for the first ride at Guest Relations. At Walt Disney World the DAS works just like the regular Fastpass. You or a family member takes the DAS card to the ride you wish to go on and obtains a return time.

At the Disneyland Resort there are 10 locations, 5 in each park where you can obtain a return time. You can go to Guest Relations any time to get a return time or to any of the locations in the parks. For Disneyland they are at the City Hall, Central Hub, Fantasyland, Tomorrowland and New Orleans Square. In Disney California Adventure (DCA) Chamber of Commerce, Carthay Circle, entrance to Cars Land, Bugs Land and Paradise Pier.

To use your DAS Card go to the Fastpass Entrance or the Alternate Entrance if you use a wheelchair or ECV. There you can show your DAS card and enter the line. At some point during the ride they will cross out your Return Time so you can get another.

If at any time you find that the DAS Card is not meeting your need go and talk to Guest Relations. Some people with cognitive disabilities have a harder time than others with lines. Disney is committed to assisting those with Disabilities but, Disney can’t help you if you don’t talk to them.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Guardians of the Galaxy Non Spoiler Review

Guardians of the Galaxy!
Non Spoiler Review
Marvel Studio

The Guardians of the Galaxy is fun romp through the Galaxy of Marvel’s creation.

A group of misfit prisoners are thrown together by greed and circumstance. This rag tag group of loaners and scallywags becomes a tight group of companions that share a goal of riding the Galaxy of the worst evil they know. The Guardians are a mix of escaped prisoners. Each broke out for their own reasons and at first have little loyalty to each other.

The Guardians leader is Peter Quill (AKA in his own mind as Star-Lord), a human kidnapped as a child from earth and raised by a group of interstellar thieves. Peter has a faults sense of importance and is a women chasing rogue.

Gamora, an orphan raised and trained by an evil leader to be his personal assassin. She has a great sense of right and wrong and does not like her forced servitude. At first this is her reason for joining the group

Drax the Destroyer is a warrior looking for vengeance against Ronan for killing his family. He is a berserker when let loose and will align himself with anybody who will help him reach his goal of killing Ronan. He has a soft heart inside.

Rocket is a genetically engineered raccoon who is a bounty hunter and mercenary. (It was fun seeing a bazooka carrying raccoon.) He is a weapons and tactics genius.

Groot is a tree-like humanoid who is Rocket’s protector, friend and house plant. He speaks but not much. He is an innocent in the middle of the mess.

Ronan the Accuser is the evilness in the galaxy. His soul purpose in life is to destroy anything that does not fit into his view of reality.

Like all Marvel Comics Guardians of the Galaxy is a mix of good and bad with the lines clearly defined. Where the line gets blurred is in the heroes of the tale. Each is a flawed person with demons of their own. Each of our heroes chooses to do the right thing in the end.

This movie is a darker and more adult than most Marvel/Disney offerings. Most of the adult humor will go over the kids heads. None is so offensive as to persuade me not to take a younger fan.

The visual effects were incredible. The story fun. It is well worth seeing in 3D in my opinion.