Sleeping Beauty Castle at Disneyland Park

Moms Panel: Meet Military Mom Ashley Forster

posted on May 29th, 2012 by Laura Spencer, Social Media Manager, Walt Disney World Resort

Many of us celebrated this Memorial Weekend with backyard barbecues or a quick getaway with family and friends. I also took a moment to reflect on brave men and women like the Tuskegee Airmen, Crispus Attucks and my ancestors past and present, who put their lives on the line for me.

If you are planning a trip to Walt Disney World Resort and are looking for ways to have some patriotic fun, Walt Disney World Moms Panelist Ashley Forster has a few special tips to share. As our “Military Mom” on the panel, Ashley assists guests with lots of questions, including information about military discounts and the best way to travel with little ones in tow.

“My husband serves in the U.S. Coast Guard, so Memorial Day is very important to our family,” Ashley says. “We live in a big military area, so we and most of our neighbors will have a cookout this year and watch the local parade.”

In the past, Ashley and her family have come to Disney Parks on Memorial Day weekend and spent their time going to shows and attractions that highlight America’s history.

“We decided to make it a patriotic day, starting with a stop at the American Adventure Pavilion at Epcot, where we watched the Voices of Liberty perform,” Ashley says. “We ended the day with something really special at Magic Kingdom: the flag retreat ceremony. When it’s time to take down the flag on Main Street, U.S.A., each day, Disney cast members will invite active duty or retired military members to help with the ceremony, and being able to watch that with my family was truly memorable.”

Ashley says that her best advice to military families planning their Walt Disney World vacation is to take advantage of the discounts offered to Members of the U.S. Military, which include special Walt Disney World Resort hotel and Disney Park ticket rates.

Ask Ashley a question about your next vacation at

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Moms Panel: Melissa Joan Hart Live!

posted on May 18th, 2012 by Laura Spencer, Social Media Manager, Walt Disney World Resort

So if you remember last week (remember the word “remember”!) I talked about how Disney Parks kicked off our “Summer to Remember” with a huge media event, announcements of new attractions, world-wide itineraries, and new ships. There are zillions of ways to make the few summers we have to spend with our kids before they grow up, magical and memorable!

Melissa Joan Hart, former star of Sabrina, The Teenage Witch and current co-star of Melissa & Joey on the ABC Family network, will join Moms Panelists Amanda Ficili and Jill Cooper for a live web chat next Tuesday, May 22nd, at 9:00 p.m. ET.

What will they be chatting about? You! Well, not exactly you, but they will be answering guest questions right here on the Disney Parks Blog. Did I mention that it will be live?

Melissa is no stranger to traveling to Disney Parks with her two little ones. She is currently planning an upcoming Disney vacation herself after the stork visits her home with her third prince or princess!

For a chance to participate in the live video chat with Melissa, email

You can also ask me your questions right here below! I will be printing them out this weekend and picking some of your Disney Parks vacation planning questions on my way to the studio.

What do you want to know about how to make this summer’s vacation one of your summers to always remember? Ask me now!

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New Aulani Offers Available Today: Kids Eat Free and So Much More, Plus 25% Off Fares from Hawaiian Airlines

posted on May 11th, 2012 by John McClintock, Disney Public Relations

Mickey Mouse and Goofy with Guests at Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa in Ko Olina, Hawai'i

If you’re planning a family vacation, we’ve got two more reasons for you to visit Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa in Ko Olina, Hawai`i. In addition to the delicious food, fun-filled water play areas and activities for all ages, guests visiting Aulani can enjoy these new offers, when booking travel today through July 14:

Kids Eat Free and So Much More at Aulani*
Kids (ages 3-9) eat free from the Kids Menu for breakfast, lunch and dinner and receive a Length of Stay Rainbow Reef Pass with a five-night minimum stay, for travel between August 29 through November 3, when booked before July 14.

You can choose from the following table-service or quick-service restaurants for all three of your meals:

  • ‘AMA’AMA includes: 1 appetizer (lunch and dinner only), 1 entrée and one dessert (lunch and dinner only); 1 single-serving, non-alcoholic beverage
  • Makahiki Buffet includes: 1 full buffet (breakfast and dinner only)
  • ‘Olelo Room includes: 1 continental breakfast (breakfast only)
  • One Paddle, Two Paddle, Mama’s Snack Stop or Lava Shack quick-service meal includes: 1 entrée or 1 complete combo meal; 1 dessert (lunch and dinner only); 1 single-serving, non-alcoholic beverage

Save 25% on Hawaiian Airlines Fares**
Fly Hawaiian Airlines to Aulani as part of your vacation package and save 25% on round-trip airfare when you travel August 29 through November 3, when booked before July 14. Offer is available for flights out of John F Kennedy International Airport, Oakland International Airport, San Jose International Airport, San Francisco International Airport, and Los Angeles International Airport only.

Visit for more information!

* The number of rooms allocated for this offer is limited. Not valid in combination with any other discounts or offers. Additional per adult charges may apply if more than 2 adults per room. Dining entitlements and Rainbow Reef pass are for registered guests only, expire upon check out and are non-transferable. Advance reservations required. Subject to restrictions and change without notice.

**Reservation must include a minimum one-night stay at Aulani, a Disney Resort and Spa. Limited supplies are available and discount may be applied over all travel dates (8/29/2012 – 11/03/12). Fares on some dates may be higher. Not valid on K & L fares. Maximum of 6 passengers per reservation. Travel must originate from one of the following Designated Airports: John F Kennedy International Airport (JFK), Oakland International Airport (OAK), San Jose International Airport (SJC), San Francisco International Airport (SFO), or Los Angeles International Airport (LAX). Fare is subject to seat availability. Child/infant or other discounts do not apply. If ticket changes are made, the value of the original round-trip discount may not be applied and is subject to availability. Date and routing changes may be made with applicable penalties, and fare differential may apply. Cancellation penalties will apply. Discount will be applied to the published base fare at the time of booking, based on a round-trip itinerary originating from a Designated Airport to Honolulu, Hawaii and includes Base Fare, Fuel Surcharge, and U.S. taxes. Fare shown includes taxes and fees including a $3.80 ZP tax per segment (defined as one takeoff and one landing), a $2.50 per enplanement September 11th Security Fee (not to exceed $10) and PFC surcharge of $4.50 (not to exceed $18 round-trip) where applicable will be applied. For complete listings of fees and baggage charges, visit

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Moms Panel Monday: A Dad’s Tips for a Disney Parks Mother’s Day

posted on May 7th, 2012 by Laura Spencer, Social Media Manager, Walt Disney World Resort

Mother’s Day is right around the corner and that means it’s time for moms everywhere to sit back, relax and enjoy a day where it’s all about us! My perfect day would involve waking up late, spending some time at a spa, taking a nap, then having a light lunch, watching episodes of my favorite shows, taking a nap and then going to dinner, where I clink glasses of pink bubbly with my own mom.

If you’re a dad looking for ways you and your children can make Mom feel extra queen-like this Mother’s Day, Walt Disney World Moms Panelist, husband, and dad of two princesses Doug Ingersoll is here to share a few of his tips for celebrating Mom at Disney Parks and at home.

Q: What are some things dads and kids can do to make Mother’s Day extra special for Mom — either at Disney Parks or at home?

A: We always try to think of what she would want, not what we would want. So for a special “Mom day” we start with giving her some alone time to catch up on some reading, or just to relax. Then when she rejoins us, we make a point of having some activity ready to go, so that she does not have to plan everything as usual. The real key is to give her time for herself, but also time with the family.

Another fun thing we do is when Mom wants a little treat on the weekend, we go “get the newspaper” for her, which is code for us getting her a special drink from Starbucks. Now that there are going to be Starbucks at Walt Disney World Resort, we can incorporate that special tradition into our family vacations!

Q: Can you share some examples of things your family has done for Mother’s Day at Walt Disney World Resort that were a hit with Mom?

A: On one of our Walt Disney World Resort trips, we planned a special afternoon for my wife to thank her for being so great. At lunch in Magic Kingdom Park, I brought back a tray with only sandwiches for myself and the girls. For Mom there was card telling her to go to our room at Disney’s Polynesian Resort for an afternoon of relaxation. Waiting for her were some of her favorite magazines to read by the pool, lunch and a massage appointment. While she enjoyed herself, I took the girls to the pool, and later got them cleaned up for a nice dinner out. When she was done she met us at the California Grill (her favorite!) and we had a framed PhotoPass picture of us in front of Cinderella Castle for a present.

You can even re-create part of this later at home by going to a local craft store and creating a shadowbox just for Mom with memories and photos from a vacation.

Q: Since Mother’s Day is only one day to celebrate just how awesome moms are, what can you do to make her feel special all year round?

A: Once a month we have a themed dinner. Dad cooks, one daughter is the theme master in charge of decoration, and the other daughter is the server. While Mom relaxes in another room, we create a dinner themed to a Disney movie. We create a custom menu on the computer, decorate the room, and play the movie soundtrack during dinner. A recent hit was our “Mulan” meal, complete with ginger sesame pork chops, paper lanterns lighting the dining room and a menu from “Mushu’s Diner.” The hardest part is picking the next theme!

Watch some more ways to pamper Mom (or yourself) here. How are you adding Disney touches to your Mother’s Day? Let me know!

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Moms Panel Monday: Staying Fit and Healthy at Disney Parks and Resorts

posted on April 30th, 2012 by Laura Spencer, Social Media Manager, Walt Disney World Resort

If you’re trying to slim down for swimsuit season or need help thinking of new ways to get the kids excited about exercise, Walt Disney World Moms Panelist Carrie Burrows is just the one to ask.


As the owner of a health and fitness company in her hometown of Georgetown, Ontario, Carrie helps men and women reach their dreams every day. But while Carrie is away at her favorite vacation destination, Walt Disney World Resort, she makes sure that her family doesn’t forget that good health is important even while on vacation!

Here are Carrie’s top five tips for staying fit and healthy on your next Disney Parks vacation:

  • Make time to play at the resort pools or Typhoon Lagoon. “My kids love swimming and it’s a total body exercise,” Carrie says.
  • Rent a tandem bike at Disney’s BoardWalk Inn. “Canadian winters make biking tough, so it’s always a treat for us to take a bike ride in March when we typically visit.”
  • Stroll or run along the walking paths at Disney’s Port Orleans Resort – Riverside. “The pathway there is such a great thing. My family will race the boat as it goes along the water near the path and see who can get there first!”
  • Opt for veggies instead of French fries. “There are so many healthy options at Disney; you’re not going to blow your diet. Most meals at Disney come with great fruit or veggie options, so eating healthy here doesn’t have to be bland or boring.”
  • Sneak fitness in wherever you can. “It may sound funny, but we’ll run from pavilions on one side of Epcot to the other, or play a round of mini golf at Fantasia Gardens, and that is burning calories while you’re not even thinking about working out.”

Want to trade health and fitness tips with our Moms? Visit

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Moms Panel Monday: Go Green with New Panelist Stacy Cacciatore

posted on April 23rd, 2012 by Laura Spencer, Social Media Manager, Walt Disney World Resort

As you probably know by now, pink is my favorite color. But, yesterday I let go of the fabulous fuchsia colors I normally wear and went with a beautiful green frock in honor of Earth Day. Besides simply changing my clothing choice, I became a vegan two years ago and although my carnivorous family doesn’t exactly love my food choices (and like clockwork, they head for the closest steakhouse when I travel for business), we make sure to turn off lights when we leave a room and turn off the water while we brush our teeth. It’s not a lot, but we feel that every little bit helps.


There are lots of ways to help teach our kids about conservation and protecting our Mama Earth, and one of our Walt Disney World Moms Panel Moms loves to think of new and innovative ways to celebrate Earth Day every day. Stacy Cacciatore has a few tips from her family about how they became more Earth-friendly after being inspired at Disney Parks.

“When my family took the Behind the Seeds at Epcot tour, it was amazing to learn about some of the ways that Disney is eco-friendly,” Stacy says. “I thought it was really impressive that the foods grown at the Living with the Land attraction are actually used in the Sunshine Seasons restaurant there.”


Stacy says the tour helped introduce her kids (aged nine and five) to new things, like eating more veggies. “They saw the cucumber shaped like Mickey Mouse and now that’s all they want to eat!”

“I am always trying to teach my kids where food comes from and keep them healthy,” Stacy says. “We grow tomatoes, basil and onion—all ingredients for pizza! It’s a hands-on approach and teaches them so many things about gardening, measuring, and science in the process.”

Planting these plants in container gardens—where plants grow in small containers instead of the ground—is a low-maintenance approach for busy moms and dads, and it’s really easy for kids to put together, Stacy says.

Another project Stacy likes to do with her kids is recycling, and specifically upcycling.

“Upcycling is when you take something like a Gatorade bottle and transform it into something useful, like a hummingbird feeder,” Stacy says. “We save cardboard paper towel rolls and then use them to do crafts. The kids get really into it, and we’re doing something to help recycle items in a fun way.”

Ask other Moms and Dads how they celebrated Earth Day at

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Moms Panel Monday: Hola! Meet Malanie Rivera, Who Can Help You Plan a Walt Disney World Resort Stay in English and Español

posted on April 9th, 2012 by Laura Spencer, Social Media Manager, Walt Disney World Resort

When we rang in the New Year and brought our 15 new Walt Disney World Moms Panelists onboard in January, we also announced an exciting new feature for 2012 – the panelists can now receive and answer guests’ questions in Spanish! Since then, our newest bilingual mom, Malanie Rivera, has been busy answering your Walt Disney World Resort vacation planning questions on everything from celebrating holidays at Disney Parks to “Is it OK to bring a canoe with me?”


Malanie told me that she especially enjoys these types of quirky questions and any questions about Disney Resort Hotels. “I have visited a lot of [the resorts] and there are some experiences guests don’t really know they’re missing, like yummy cookies and lemonade that are offered as a free snack when you check-in,” she says. “These little touches can really make their vacations different and special.”

As a single mom of two children and an occupational therapist for special needs children, Malanie always has her hands full. So, when this New Yorker likes to get away from the hustle and bustle of the big city, her favorite retreat is Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort.

“I love the colonial, Spanish feel there and I have two ‘tweens,’ so I’m always looking for something special that they would like to do,” Malanie says. “This resort hosts Movies Under the Stars at the pool and my kids were adamant about watching the movie every night—they loved it! There’s a lot of pool activities too, not to mention Disney trivia, hula hoop contests, s‘mores around a campfire and more.”

Malanie enjoys helping others plan magical Disney moments, including her brother’s engagement at Cinderella’s Royal Table.


“Now that I get to answer other guests’ questions on the Moms Panel, it’s awesome to swap stories of these special memories and help others plan future moments,” Malanie says. “And I’m thrilled to pieces that we can be available for the Spanish community!”

Ask Malanie a question en Español at

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Disneyland Resort Presents Goofy in ‘The Art of Vacationing’

posted on April 5th, 2012 by Erin Glover, Social Media Director, Disneyland Resort

There’s so much to do and see at the Disneyland Resort – how do you make the most of your vacation? With two theme parks, three hotels, the Downtown Disney District and all of the attractions, entertainment, shopping and dining, even Goofy can’t see it all in just one day! Watch as he tries to make his Disneyland Resort vacation game plan in “The Art of Vacationing.”

What are your strategies for making the most of your Disneyland Resort vacation?

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Moms Panel Monday: Meet Elisabeth Lackey, Our Newest Adventures by Disney Mom

posted on April 2nd, 2012 by Laura Spencer, Social Media Manager, Walt Disney World Resort

Let the adventure begin! Where to, you might ask? Well, I’m hoping somewhere with excellent shoe-shopping options… How about a camel ride excursion in Giza for an up-close view of the Great Pyramids, or a dip in the warm waters of Australia’s Great Barrier Reef?

If you’re wondering what this has to do with Disney, just ask our new Adventures by Disney Walt Disney World Moms Panelist, Elisabeth Lackey. She’s a wife, preschool teacher and mom of four who loves to travel the world Disney-style.


She, along with her family, has traveled to China, South Africa and Costa Rica with Adventures by Disney and can’t wait to plan her next getaway. I got the chance to pick Elisabeth’s brain a little and get her expert advice on what to do before embarking on my next journey.

Q: Let me in on the secret—what makes Adventures by Disney vacations so special?

A: While I love helping people plan their Disney vacations, the great thing about Adventures by Disney is that you don’t have to do any extra planning! There is a set price, an Adventure Guide with you at all times, and everything from the hotels to your meals are included so there are little to no out-of-pocket expenses.

Q: Are these trips designed for the whole family?

A: All of the itineraries are family-oriented, but that doesn’t mean you can’t go as a couple on your honeymoon or on a girls trip without the kiddos! It’s really designed to make all ages happy and it’s also very educational. For example, our kids still talk about the different animals they learned about when we visited South Africa.

Q: You mentioned the Adventure Guides, can you tell me more about what they do?

A: There are so many special experiences that you simply would not get if you tried to plan a vacation on your own and the Adventure Guides are a huge part of that. The Adventure Guides are in-country guides who are extremely knowledgeable and provide you with so many extra facts and cultural activities throughout your trip—you’ll never want to come home!

Q: What’s a tip for families who are thinking about taking a trip with Adventures by Disney?

A: If you’re considering an overseas trip, it’s a big difference from a vacation to Disney Parks but provides the same exceptional service and attention to detail that Disney is famous for. One thing I love about Adventures by Disney trips is meeting other families traveling in your group. You bond with them just as much as you do with your Adventure Guides, and it’s nice to share these incredible experiences as a group.

Q: What are some of your favorite memories from the trips you’ve taken?

A: There are so many! Seeing the iconic Chinese landmarks and visiting Hong Kong Disneyland is definitely at the top of my list, but really it is the warmth of the people you meet and the chance to broaden your world that stay with me.

Do you have a question for Elisabeth? Visit

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Confirmed: The Pleasures of Laniwai, a Disney Spa at Aulani

posted on March 27th, 2012 by John McClintock, Disney Public Relations

Laniwai, a Disney Spa at Aulani

A few months ago, I shared a video about Laniwai, a Disney Spa at Aulani, along with a confession that I’m not someone who usually takes advantage of spa opportunities, no matter how attractive.

Well… last time I was at Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa, on O‘ahu, Lucia Rodriguez, the spa manager who has contributed so much to the wonders of Laniwai, convinced me that – if only for the sake of putting some firsthand Laniwai experience into the Disney Parks Blog – I should have a spa treatment. I was still hesitant, but we narrowed it down to a facial and (once Lucia convinced me that none of the Laniwai cast members would be too horrified by my feet) a pedicure.

Wishing Stones at Laniwai, a Disney Spa at Aulani

After selecting a “wishing stone” and traveling through the “transformation corridor,” I – like most Laniwai guests – had time to enjoy Kula Wai, the outdoor hydrotherapy garden (the only one on O‘ahu). This truly is a memorable, relaxing experience in a beautifully landscaped garden with two herbal pools, a jetted hot tub, a circuit of six different showers and a cold plunge (I didn’t “plunge” exactly, but I did cautiously submerge).

Laniwai, a Disney Spa at Aulani

Finally, of course, were the treatments themselves, which left me feeling very pampered, not to mention grateful for the restraint of the cast member who worked such wonders on my nasty feet.

I’m still not sure I can ever become the kind of guy who’d do this on a regular basis… and yet, it’s something I think everyone should experience at least once. If you’re going to have a “first spa” experience, you couldn’t ask for better than Laniwai, a Disney Spa.

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