disney travel

Disney Dream Reaches Home Port near Orlando

A couple hundred Disney cast members, a bevy of specially invited press, hundreds of members of the public, and a few rather large rodents, greeted the arrival to Florida of the newest ship in the Disney Cruise Line fleet this morning – The Disney Dream. Port Canaveral will be the home port for the ship that has been under construction for nearly two-years in Papenburg, Germany. For the most part The Dream will sail three, four, and five night cruises to the Bahamas. The initial cruise departs January 26th and there are still even a few cabins left on the second cruise as of this morning.

With the arrival of the Disney Dream to its homeport in Florida, preparations are underway for its inaugural cruises and events, including the traditional christening of the vessel. Other Disney Dream inaugural events include a Benefit Preview Cruise in support of Boys & Girls Clubs of Central Florida, sailing Jan. 21-23. I am currently planning to be aboard one of those preview cruises and attend the christening. So look for more on that in the coming weeks.

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Disney Cruise Lines Making room for more Magic at Castaway Cay

The Disney Cruise Line has released more details of the upcoming expansion to their private island Castaway Cay. Located in the tropical waters of the Bahamas, Castaway Cay is a popular stop on the itinerary. When the new larger ships start operating in 2011, it will have to handle approximately 2000 more guests with each visit. As such Disney will be adding new beaches, expanding existing ones; expanding existing facilities; adding restaurants, and even new water play areas. Plus they will expand the island’s tram network to help spread guests out around the 1000 acre facility.

Follow below the jump to see the most recent DCL Video Podcast about the expansion plus the full press release:

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Disney Parks New Promotional Theme: Celebrations

Disney Parks has announced their new promotional campaign for 2009. The theme is ‘Celebrations’ and the tag line is “What Will You Celebrate?” The goal — get you and your family to book a trip to Disneyland or Walt Disney World to celebrate an event or occasion together.

The campaign website (www.disneyparkscelebrations.com – Note there’s a video that starts automatically on this page with no way to pause or mute it. Bad form on Disney’s part.) is where you’ll find a contest where you can win a Disney Vacation, learn about fun ways to celebrate milestones in your life, and find out the schedule for a new promotional tour. Also highlighted are tools to plan your vacation with. Additionally, they’re promoting Disney Environmentality with a message not to release your ‘Mickey Balloon’ into the air. The biggest news would seem to be that you can register to get free admission to a Disney Theme Park on your birthday in 2009 (you must register first, and there are other treats available if you already have admission).

Without even reading the Disney Press Release on this. It would appear that Disney is hoping to capitalize on what is already a major trend in their customer base. Disney has known for years that since families tend to save for years to make the trip to the parks, they often do it around a special occasion. A few years ago the campaign was called “Magical Gatherings” and it was essentially the same thing where Disney would organize special events for you based on the occasion you were celebrating. Finally, the whole campaign ties into a vacation planning package that will walk you through hotel, dinner, and event registrations. It was obviously successful enough they want to try it again.

I hope this is a successful campaign for Disney and brings in hordes of guests. However, my initial response is to be a little underwhelmed. Disney is probably facing a significant drop in attendance and spending at its domestic parks for at least the next 12-18 months and this all they came up with to bolster the numbers?

What happened to the great promotions of the past where Parks, Films, and Parades were all tied together. Mickey Mania, Party Gras, The Lion King Celebration? Where’s the exciting Tagline? In the past we had “Where the Adventure Begins,” “Where the Magic Never Stops,” and “Where Dreams Come True.” Where we should have inspiration, instead we get a question. Where’s the announcement of the new parades, shows, and attractions that will encourage repeat visitors to return and send prospective new visitors to travel agencies to book. Instead we get a ‘Street Party’. What is that?

What disturbs me most about this promotion is how Disney is equating themselves with the local Chuck-e-Cheese. Little Johnny’s having his Birthday? Where do we want to celebrate? How about Chuck-e-Cheese? Or maybe Disneyland? That’s not an effective way to get people to drop their “staycation” and travel to Anaheim/Orlando instead. You have to offer excitement and value.

Disney isn’t in the same category as local options, and they shouldn’t act like it either. I’m not saying Disney should not offer Birthday and other Celebrations. But it should be part of the whole package, not the cornerstone of the big promotion for the year.

Okay. It’s the 3rd year in a row of less than exciting promotions for Disney Parks. So let chalk this one up to being an ‘off-year’. Due to the soft economy Disney isn’t expecting much to happen this year. They’ve planned no new shows, no new parades, and only one new attraction (American Idol at DHS) for 2009. Perhaps there is some fiscal merit to not going overboard with a major promotion. But then again, maybe they could have done something that would knock your socks off.

A promotional video and the full press release is below the cut:

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Iron Chef Cat Cora coming to Disney Travel on Demand

CatcoramickeyAs part of its Disney Travel on Demand cable offerings The Walt Disney Company is adding a new cooking show starring Chef Cat Cora. Cat Cora is most popularly known as the female Iron Chef on the Food Network. She maintains her own website with recipes and a blog and she has her own charity with Chefs for Humanity.

“I’ve always been a huge fan of Disney, so exploring the Parks and
informing families about the culinary gems that exist, in addition to
sharing ideas for spicing up routine family dinners with some healthy
new recipes is a dream come true for me.”

Walt Disney World’s parks and resorts really do host some of the best dining options in the region. I hope that Chef Cat Cora truly explores the dining choices and helps Disney broaden some of the menus that are currently somewhat limited to do the efficiencies of the Disney Dining Plan and tourist sensibilities.

Disney’s What’s Cooking with Cat Cora will be available on Disney Travel on Demand Channel beginning the week of March 9th to viewers with Cablevision and Time Warner Cable as their provider. Hopefully this will soon be available wider or on the internet (remember what you said today Bob Iger.) In the meantime you can catch previews of the show online at the Disney Parks site.

The full press release including additional on-demand content is below the cut:

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