Wednesday, December 21, 2011

40 fun facts for Disney World's 40th anniversary

40 fun facts for Disney World's 40th anniversary

Published: 11:52 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 17, 2011
It's been 40 years since Disney World opened and turned Orlando into one of the world's most visited destinations. Sure, the long lines are a punch line. And all Disney magic comes with a price tag. But all 17.2 million people who pass annually through the Magic Kingdom can't be wrong.
So we tip our mouse ears to Disney with one fact for each year of its existence.
1. Walt Disney bought the 43 square miles of Central Florida swampland for Disney World for $5 million, or about $185 an acre.
2. Walt Disney died of complications of lung cancer on Dec. 15, 1966, before the first shovel of dirt was moved on construction of Disney World.
3. 10,000. That was the number of people in attendance for Disney World's soft opening on Oct. 1, 1971. But the grand opening later that month — which included performances by Julie Andrews, Bob Hope and Glen Campbell — was televised nationally. Today, the Magic Kingdom alone averages about 47,000 visitors a day.
4. Disney World has closed three times, all in anticipation of hurricanes: Sept. 15, 1999, for Floyd; Sept. 4-5, 2004, for Frances; and Sept. 26 of that same year for Jeanne.
5. It took less than 30 minutes to evacuate thousands of guests from the theme parks on Sept. 11, 2001.
6. After the Sept. 11 attacks, the Federal Aviation Administration put a flight restriction over the Disney World resort. It extends out in a three-mile radius from Cinderella's Castle and up to 3,000 feet.
7. An estimated 1.65 million pairs of eyeglasses have made their way to Disney World's lost-and-found bins since 1971. Every year, the park finds an average of 6,000 cellphones, 3,500 digital cameras and 18,000 hats.
8. Wondering about the weirdest things ever found? How about a glass eye, a prosthetic leg and a potty trainer — all of which were claimed.
9. A married couple from Boynton Beach, Fla., Alex and Donna Voutsinas, realized years later that they were coincidentally photographed together at Disney as children.
10. The Walt Disney World resort is about the size of San Francisco, and only about 35 percent of its more than 27,000 acres has been developed.
11. Mickey has more than 290 outfits, from a scuba suit to a lighted tuxedo. Minnie? She has more than 200, from cheerleading attire to evening gowns.
12. Stretched end-to-end, the hats with Mickey ears sold at Disney World would span about 175 miles.
13. Cinderella's Castle is made out of fiberglass, and it stands 189 feet tall.
14. Disney World's biggest theme park, Animal Kingdom, encompasses 403 acres.
15. The latest creatures at the Animal Kingdom are the blue people of "Avatar." A new section, with interactive 3-D rides, is planned to open between 2015 and 2016 at a cost of about $400 million.
16. The Animal Kingdom features more than 3,000 species in its 4 million trees and plants.
17. Inside the upper levels of Cinderella's Castle is an apartment that Walt Disney intended to use when he and his family were in Florida. It was left unfinished when he died, until Disney announced in 2006 that it would be turned into a deluxe suite, which is awarded randomly to a family every day. It comes complete with 24-karat gold tile floors and a "magic mirror" that turns into a television.
18. The Land ride at Epcot isn't just for entertainment. More than 30 tons of fruit and vegetables are grown there every year for Disney restaurants.
19. If you were to stay in a different room every night at the Disney World resorts, to sleep in them all would take you 68 years.
20. More than 500 of the young trees around Disney World properties started out as acorns from the "Liberty Oak," the focal point in Liberty Square in the Magic Kingdom.
21. Disney World employs more than 62,000 as part of its "cast," making Walt Disney World the largest single-site employer in the United States.
22. What does Epcot mean? Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow.
23. How did Epcot work out? As envisioned, it would be a working community of about 20,000 people, who would live with futuristic "push-button" technology in their daily lives. But after Walt Disney's death in 1966, brother Roy O. Disney scaled back the social experiment into a world's fair with a vision into "tomorrow."
24. The original idea for Epcot did come to fruition, in a way. Disney built the town of Celebration, which at the 2010 census housed about 7,500 people. The town, which was constructed beginning in 1996, used to be operated by Disney but is now mostly autonomous.
25. It's the late voice actor Jack Wagner you hear telling you to stand clear of the doors on the Disney World monorail. You can also hear his recording aboard the tram at the Orlando International Airport.
26. Disney's infrastructure has more than 270 buses, making it the third-largest bus system in the state, behind Jacksonville and Miami.
27. The newest roller coaster at any of the Disney World parks, Expedition Everest at the Animal Kingdom (aka the Yeti ride) is the tallest of any of the parks' at just a shade under 200 feet. Space Mountain at 180 feet is puny by comparison.
28. Ever notice the water tower wearing the giant Mickey ears at Disney's Hollywood Studios? If you made actual Mickey ears for it, the "Earffel Tower" would wear a size 342¾.
29. There's only one harpist at the Disney World Parks. You can hear him nightly, over dinner at Victoria & Albert's, the restaurant at Disney's Grand Floridian Resort & Spa.
30. If you look closely at the mosaic mural on the fourth-floor lobby of Disney's Contemporary Resort, you can see a five-legged goat facing the monorail track.
31. Disney World decorates more than 1,500 Christmas trees at holiday time.
32. There are more than 81 holes of golf on five courses on the property.
33. If you dress up folks in all the shirts sold at Disney World in one year, you'd have enough for every resident of the state of Montana (pop. 974,989.)
34. When Disney World opened, adult admission to the Magic Kingdom cost $3.50. Today it costs $85.
35. In 1976, 50 replicas of the Liberty Bell were made out of the original's cast, and one was donated to each state. Since Philadelphia had the original, it agreed to give its replica to Disney, making Florida the only state with two replica bells. (The other Florida replica is in Melbourne.)
36. Before it became strictly a theme park, Disney's Hollywood Studios (originally called Disney-MGM studios before a legal falling out) was designed to be a working studio.
37. The first film made at Disney's Hollywood Studios was "Ernest Saves Christmas."
38. Television shows were filmed at Disney's Hollywood Studios, too. "The Mickey Mouse Club" featured soon-to-be stars Britney Spears, Justin Timberlake, Ryan Gosling and Christina Aguilera. No shows are filmed there today.
39. Jane Eisner, wife of former Disney CEO Michael Eisner, came up with the "I'm going to Disney World!" campaign, Michael Eisner wrote in his 1998 memoir.
40. Disney World flew its flags at half-staff on the day Apple co-founder Steve Jobs died. Jobs was Disney's largest single shareholder (7 percent), and he was on the board of directors.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Agents Review The Magic

Insider Intelligence: Agents Review the Carnival Magic

More dining variety, a “hopping” bar, fun water elements and a conveniently located port for mid-America clients all won enthusiastic comments from travel agents who recently sailed on the new Carnival Magic.

Travel Market Report caught up with cruise sellers to learn more about the ship and hear their views on positioning and selling the Magic to clients.

All had sailed on the Magic, either in Europe, on the transatlantic crossing, or on the U.S. inaugural.

What is the target market for the Carnival Magic?
"The Carnival Magic covers many target markets: multigenerational family groups, any family with kids, and everyone who has ever sailed from Galveston or New Orleans and wants to see the newest/biggest ship in town." – Debby Stevens, owner, 3D Cruise and Travel, Round Rock, Texas, Nexion
Patsie Vaughan

"I would say families. There is so much for a family to do and The Magic has great staterooms that have two bathrooms and will hold five people." – Patsie Vaughan, CTC, ACC, Senior Travel Counselor, Travel Leaders of McKinney, McKinney, Texas

"Almost a majority of the ship was past Carnival guests." – Becky Piper, CruiseOne, Strongsville, Ohio

What were highlights of the onboard experience?
"I really loved the hammocks on the aft of the ship and special Jacuzzis interspersed throughout the ship." – Jo Anita Smith, Manager, Marchi Travel Service, Galveston, Texas,
Becky Piper

"It’s like coming home to Carnival. Cabins look the same and major public areas look the same. I don’t mean that in a bad way, because Carnival people know what they’re going to get and they like what they’re getting. And the miniature golf course on the sports deck turned out really nice." – Becky Piper

"The dining venues were great. My favorite by far was La Cucina, the new Italian restaurant option.  I thought the food was as good as I have eaten in Italy in the past." – Tammie Speers, president, Timeless Travel, Inc., Bixby, Oklahoma

Any “wow” spaces?
"The Red Frog Pub was a huge hit. The idea behind the pub was to create a Key West feel and Carnival nailed it! I must say I am a little biased as I spent lots of time there. Also, the Camp Carnival area is superb and I was truly jealous of the arcade area."  – Connie Kirby, vice president, Vacation Tour and Travel, Conway, Ark.
Debby Stevens

"The Water Park and Sports Square were big wows. The two-story spa is the largest I’ve ever seen at sea." – Debby Stevens

"The waterslides are fast enough to give a thrill to adults and the ropes course is challenging, especially if you try it with no hands." – Patsie Vaughan

What are key selling points for the Carnival Magic?
"To have a brand new build out of Galveston is major, because lately what’s been going out of Galveston are lots of older builds." – Becky Piper

"Economical, a great value for a family." – Jo Anita Smith
Connie Kirby

"The food, the food, the food – I was amazed at the options for lunch alone: The Lido Deck grill, the Lido buffet, The Tandoor (Indian cuisine), The Wok, the deli, the main dining room, the pizzeria, the new Italian restaurant (free at lunch), the Ocean plaza featuring a cook-out daily, Red Frog Pub….the options seem to be endless." – Connie Kirby

"Lots of entertainment and activities to do day and night." – Patsie Vaughan

"The ocean view cabins with two sinks, one tub and one shower. Awesome for people sharing a cabin when getting ready." – Tammie Speers

What’s the repeat sales potential for the Carnival Magic?
"The different itineraries make repeat sailings on the Magic a must. With both an Eastern Caribbean and Western Caribbean sailing offered you will definitely want to sail more than once.  I simply did not have the time to experience all there is to offer on one sailing." – Connie Kirby

"I feel it’s very high. Once a person experiences Carnival Magic, they will want to come back with others to try out the alternate itinerary it offers." – Debby Stevens
Tammie Speers

"I think it will be better than any ship they have had down in Galveston to date." – Tammie Speers

What should agents keep in mind when selling the Carnival Magic?
"This is a ship that will require more advance bookings due to its newness. Relay to clients that waiting for last minute deals is not a good idea, as the Magic will sell out most sailings for quite some time." – Debby Stevens

"The Magic is big, and agents should be careful putting people on it who are looking for a quiet, peaceful cruise." – Patsie Vaughan

“The size of the ship can be daunting. Sell only mid-ship cabins for those clients that do not want long walks from elevator to aft or stern.” – Jo Anita Smith

What are possible obstacles or objections?
“Beauty is in the eye of the beholder and some people are going to find the décor a little bit on the wild and funky side, but it’s all about managing expectations.” – Becky Piper

“The Comedy Club is a highlight, but this was the only venue where I experienced a seating issue. When they say standing room only, they meant it. The place was packed.” – Connie Kirby

"I know that there was an issue up front in the cove balconies, where the water spray coming in during rough weather made them too wet to use on parts of the voyage." – Tammie Speers

Monday, December 12, 2011

Travel Etiquette 101: Scandinavia & United Arab Emirates

When traversing the globe, we should never forget that we are guests in the countries we visit. Acting respectfully of the local customs is not just preferred but expected, so you should be prepared and know which actions are acceptable. With that in mind, here are general etiquette introductions to Scandinavia and the United Arab Emirates.


Never Call Someone a "Scandinavian" -- While the three countries that comprise Scandinavia--Norway, Sweden and Denmark--share many cultural similarities, they still maintain strong independent national identities. Refer to each country's people individually (ie. Norwegians, Swedes, Danes) rather than collectively. Also, inhabitants of Finland and Iceland, while sometimes included with their Scandinavian neighbors, are more accurately classified as Nordic.

All Men & Women Are Created Equal -- Equality of the sexes plays a strong role in Scandinavian society, in both professional and familial roles, so always treat both sexes the same. That being said, chivalry still has a place, so men should never shy away from opening a door for lady.

No Time for Chit Chat -- Scandinavians typically avoid idle conversation. So as much as you're tempted to ask, "How are you doing?" it's best to be direct with your conversation while looking them directly in the eyes.

Don't be Late for Dinner Parties -- Scandinavians tend to be extremely punctual, so if you are invited to someone's home for a meal, show up on time. Also, a small gift is expected, such as sweets for the host's children or a bottle of wine for the host.

The United Arab Emirates (UAE)

Respect Goes Both Ways -- Consisting of seven principalities or sheikdoms, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) is a rising star in the travel world. Although 80% of the population is Muslim, the country is, in general, very tolerant of all visitors in order to appease the business travelers who frequent Dubai and Abu Dhabi. Travelers, however, should never take this tolerance for granted. Both men and women should show respect for the country's religious beliefs by dressing moderately and not showing a lot of skin.

Please Drink Responsibly -- While most of the Muslim population stays clear of alcohol, it is still available in select restaurants and nightclubs. If you partake, drink responsibly in order to refrain from any "boorish" activities, which might attract the attention of local authorities.

Meet and Greet -- Greet everyone in the room with a gentle handshake, direct eye contact, a smile and a polite "Salaam aleikum," or "Peace be upon you" (the reply to which is "Aleikum assalaam," or "and on you peace"). As with many Middle Eastern countries, always shake with your right hand, since the left is occasionally used for less sanitary purposes.

Sit Up, Soles Down -- When sitting in a group, slouching is considered rude, so sit straight. Also, the soles of your shoes should remain on the ground and never be pointed in someone's direction.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

How to Pack for a Cruise Vacation

Luggage on the dock next to a cruise ship.
By Kara Murphy
The average standard cabin on a cruise ship is less than 200 square feet, so pay careful attention to the square footage when booking and packing for your cruise. Learn how to maximize the smaller space with these expert packing tips.

Pick the right suitcase.

The good news is that "cruise companies are increasingly designing cabins with room underneath beds to accommodate larger bags," says Carolyn Spencer Brown, editor in chief of Cruise Critic (

If there isn't space to store a larger suitcase, pack your things in soft-sided bags -- such as rolling duffels, backpacks, and totes -- that can be flattened after you unpack them.

Keep in mind that there are closets in most cabins, but it is unlikely that they will be stocked with enough hangers to accommodate all of your clothing. You may want to consider bringing several extra hangers with you if you plan to completely unpack your bags (not a bad idea if cruising for longer than two or three days). Pack extra hangers at the bottom of your suitcase, and plan to leave them behind on the ship.

In addition to your suitcase, bring a day bag for ports of call and to carry essentials to different activities around the ship. When boarding, treat your day bag as your carry-on bag. "The first day you check your luggage at the check-in desk, and you're most likely going to be without your bags for about six to eight hours," says Brown. "So pack anything you're going to need for the day, like your bathing suit, sunscreen, and any medications you need to take."

Board wearing a resort-casual outfit.

Since it can take some time for your luggage to arrive in your stateroom, pay attention to what you wear when embarking. "Aim for resort casual because whatever you're wearing when you board may even need to take you into the evening, especially if there are delays delivering your baggage to your cabin," says Cruise Critic's Carolyn Spencer Brown. "But the first night of dinner is always casual. People are still getting their luggage and most will not have unpacked."

When in doubt, just stick to classic styles in neutral colors or bright colors and patterns that transition easily from day to night. Consider wearing a dress or a pair of khaki or black pants with a blouse or a polo shirt. Save your extra casual clothes for later, but if you think you'll want them on the first day (for instance, if you plan to hit the pool immediately after you board), just pack them in your tote or personal bag.

Check the dress code.

"It used to be that you had to pack for all different occasions -- formal, semi-formal, evening -- but the dress code has been simplified," says Cruise Critic's Carolyn Spencer Brown. "Now most cruise lines stick to a casual dress code most of the time. Even if they do have formal nights, if you don't want to participate, you can just eat at a different restaurant that night. You won't see many people wearing jeans or shorts in the dining room at night, but during the day, anything goes." In general, a jersey dress, easy skirt, or casual slacks will work for dinner, along with a pair of strappy sandals or loafers.

There are, however, several cruise lines that take formal nights seriously. "Cunard and Crystal Cruises are both lines where people dress more formally. Princess and Carnival are two others where people get excited about getting all dolled up on formal nights," says Brown. "Even on some Disney cruises, there are dress-up nights where parents will dress their little boys in tuxedos, and little girls in princess dresses -- it's a really fun and special ambiance."

Most cruise lines have detailed descriptions of dress codes on their websites. Keep in mind that nearly all cruise ships offer some sort of casual dining service and room service, so you can certainly avoid formal dinners if you want to.

It's always best to leave valuables at home, but if you do want to bring jewelry (perhaps to wear on formal nights), most ships have safes in each cabin. Stash your valuables there along with your passport.

Make a list of activities, and pack accordingly.

Remember to pack clothes according to the types of activities you plan to participate in (both on the ship and at ports of call).

Do you want to spend lots of time at the pool? If so, bring a couple of bathing suits and cover-ups, flip flops and plenty of sunscreen. Do you want to exercise? Be sure to bring comfortable athletic shoes and workout clothes. Do you plan to sign up for shore excursions? Make a list of any additional gear, so that you don't end up having to miss out because you forgot to pack the right shoes.

"As far as clothing, I typically bring three of everything and use the ship's laundry service if needed," says Brown. "It's usually reasonably priced, and some ships even have self-service laundry you can use in a pinch."

Be prepared for small bathrooms.

Small cabins mean cramped bathrooms, so pack your toiletries in a hanging toiletry bag. If you're sharing the bathroom with other people, you might want to even bring along a fabric hanging shoe caddy that folds up flat when not in use. "Put it over the back of your door and let each person keep their stuff in their own compartment," says Carolyn Spencer Brown of Cruise Critic. "It's a smart way to stay organized."

Most cruise lines offer basic toiletries, including lotion, shampoo and conditioner, but that's about it. It's always good to bring your own, especially if you're particular about which products and brands you use.

"Every ship has some sort of small shop for toiletries, so if you forget stuff you can always buy things there. They typically even have items like underwear and socks," says Brown. "If you use a blow-dryer regularly, consider bringing your own -- the blow-dryers provided on ships are always weak!"

Also, because of their size, most cabins are equipped with just one power outlet. "So if you have several devices you're going to want to use and charge at once, bring your own power strip," says Brown. "Cruise lines don't advocate this, but it's a good item to bring along so you're covered in case you need it." An outlet multiplier will also do the trick.

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