A Magical Night to Remember ~ A Stay in the Cinderella Castle Suite ~ WDW

stay-cinderella-castle-suite

All Walt Disney World Resort fans know about the Cinderella Castle Suite and most would love the opportunity to stay a night. The suite is located inside Cinderella Castle on the fourth floor and was originally intended to be an apartment for Walt Disney and his family when they came to Florida. After Walt died in 1966, the space became an area for telephone operators and over the years had various different uses. The Suite is visible from the bridges to Liberty Square and Adventureland, with it’s three, small stained glass windows.

stay-cinderella-castle-suite
Mosaic Floor in Entry Foyer ~ Photo via Disney Parks

It seems every die-hard Disney fan (yes, me too!) wants to spend the night in the suite. Who wouldn’t want to? Unfortunately, almost everyone has to settle for dinner in Cinderella’s Royal Table because no one is actually allowed to book it. If you do get the chance to stay – it’s FREE – but, stays are by invitation only. Last year at a Disney media event, I sat at a table next to someone who won a stay with her family. I actually started to hyperventilate when they announced they would be giving away a stay in the suite! That’s the closest I ever came to even peeking inside – sitting at the table next to someone who won a stay! 

stay-cinderella-castle-suiteThe suite was finished for the promotional Year of a Million Dreams and each day that year a different family was randomly selected to spend the night in the suite overlooking the Magic Kingdom. Every now and then Disney will run a contest offering the winner a stay. The suite is lavishly decorated but small (just a bit larger than a studio at one of the Disney Vacation Club resorts). It has three areas ~ a bedroom with two beds, a parlor/sitting room with a sofa that folds out into a bed and a luxurious bathroom. It can accommodate 6  people. Disney has made every effort to make it a beautiful mix of Medieval and modern. The Imagineers have made every effort to ensure that the room is plausibly authentic as a suite in Cinderella Castle despite its modern conveniences. The Cinderella Castle Suite carefully toes the line between modern and Medieval. 

stay-cinderella-castle-suite
Fireplace in Bedroom ~ Photo via Disney Parks

Medieval but Modern

The careful attention to centuries-old details to make the suite believable hide many modern amenities. There is a lavish garden tub and shower; wheelchair accessible bathroom and bedroom facilities and an elevator to gain access to the suite. Medieval paintings and mirrors turn into modern flat-screen televisions.

stay-cinderella-castle-suite
Bathroom ~ Photo via Disney Parks

stay-cinderella-castle-suite
Tub ~ Photo via Disney Parks

Guests fortunate enough to visit and stay in the suite are assigned guides to take them through a rear entrance into the Magic Kingdom and to begin their stay. These guides are full of Disney knowledge and love to share as much of this knowledge as they can with guests. The guide will also act as your human FastPass+ and will sweep you through the lines for any attractions you wish to ride while you wait for your suite to be readied. As guests of the suite you are also able to watch the fireworks from a VIP spot on the lawn complete with Mickey ice cream bars, popcorn and drinks. Because of the stained glass windows in the suite, there is no good viewing of the parade and other park happenings from inside. You can also slip into one of the plush robes and slippers provided and sneak into the Magic Kingdom after the park closes for some special photo memories! When you stay the night, you will be asked to be ready early the next morning to be led by a special guide to enjoy breakfast at Cinderella’s Royal Table

Stay Cinderella Castle Suite
Bedroom Area ~ Photo via Disney Parks

Stay Cinderella Castle Suite
Sitting area ~ Photo via Disney Parks

A stay in the Cinderella Castle Suite will remain at the top of my Disney “Wish List” for a long time. It doesn’t matter how much money you have, Disney will not be allowing reservations anytime soon. I do believe that magic really does happen at Walt Disney World ~ so ~ you never know!




Private Cabana Rental at Magic Kingdom Being Discontinued

Private Cabana Rental Magic Kingdom DiscontinuedBack at the end of November white cabanas popped up in Tomorrowland in the Magic Kingdom and the official word was the private cabanas were only there temporarily as a “test” for private rental use. For $649 (plus the cost of your regular park admission) you would have your own little shaded sanctuary throughout the day. The cabanas were able to accommodate 8 people and included lockable storage, charging stations, sunscreen, insect repellent, water, soft drinks, and snacks. You were also able to add dining options delivered to the cabana for another additional fee.

Mid-way through the test period, Disney lowered the cost to $500 for the day stating it was a “seasonal” reduction. However, it has now been announced that the rental of the cabanas will be discontinued as of February 17, 2017. I guess even $500 was too much for most. I personally think they looked tacky. They reminded me of special event tents that are used for special parties or filming and just don’t fit in with the park on a regular basis.

Walt Disney World has been introducing a number of add-ons aimed at higher-end visitors recently. Those have included dessert parties, early race packet pickup, and preferred parking for its theme parks. It has opened early and closed late for visitors willing to pay extra money. There is even a really nice wedding package starting at $180,000! Unfortunately, I think some of these high priced add-ons may be starting to backfire on the company since – just my opinion – I think most of their visitors are everyday, hard working, middle class people who want to visit often so adding extra money onto the cost of their trips just isn’t realistic.

What are your thoughts?

 




Singapore Destination Guide

This post was originally published on IHG’s Guide to Singapore. This is a sponsored post. I have been compensated for publication.

Singapore Hotels
Photo via IHG.com (Intercontinental Hotels Singapore)

Visiting Singapore – A City Guide

Modern, prosperous and dynamic, Singapore is a global hub for finance, high-tech industry and international trade. If you’re visiting on holiday, it’s a shopper’s haven and a foodie’s dream, with gleaming malls and a legendary food scene that takes in everything from Chinese, Malay and Indian street food to sophisticated fine-dining restaurants.

If you’ve an urge to explore, you can discover the island’s multicultural heritage in Chinatown, Little India, Kampong Glam and the grand colonial buildings of the Civic District. You’ll also find plenty of beachside activities, rainforest parks, a thriving arts scene and 21st-century attractions like Gardens By The Bay.

Singapore: City Layout

Shaped like a diamond, Singapore combines towering skyscrapers, traditional communities and modern waterfront developments.

Restored 19th-century colonial buildings are clustered in the city and Civic District near the Singapore River, with Chinatown close by. Little India and Kampong Glam are found to the north of the city and head east for the popular local suburbs of Geylang and Joo Chiat.

There’s an extensive network of nature reserves and parks throughout the island. Holidaymakers are drawn to islands such as Pulau Ubin for nature trails and bike tracks as well as Sentosa island, connected to central Singapore via a bridge, for seaside entertainment and theme parks.

Top Attractions in Singapore

The beautifully landscaped Gardens By The Bay is home to the Cloud Forest and Flower Dome greenhouses, filled with blooms from across the world. Don’t miss the OCBC Skyway, a walkway set among 18 ‘supertree’ sculptures, which comes alive after dark with a magical light display.

For a relaxing day out, head to Sentosa island to soak up the sun on the beach, enjoy a leisurely round of golf or brave the thrilling rides at the Universal Studios Singapore theme park.

Singapore Zoo is home to white tigers, honey-loving sun bears and African lions. You can spot the giant pandas, Kai Kai and Jia Jia, at the River Safari, or nocturnal leopards on the Night Safari.

For a bird’s eye view of Singapore head to the Singapore Flyer, a 165-metre observation wheel with 360-degree views of the island.

The concierge recommends…

  • A walk around Marina Bay to enjoy the city’s night lights.
  • A stroll through the Singapore Botanic Gardens, a UNESCO World Heritage Site housing lush themed gardens with more than 1,000 species of orchid.
  • food tour through the well-loved haunts in Chinatown, Geylang Serai, Joo Chiat or Kampong Glam.
  • A visit to Pulau Ubin, a kampong (traditional) village off the coast near Changi Airport.
  • Booking tickets for a traditional dance performance, a play or a concert at the iconic Esplanade arts centre.

Hotels in Singapore

For your stay in Singapore there are hotels that will suit every budget and travel need. The city’s efficient transport system makes travelling around a breeze, and it’s easy to find hotels within walking distance of a train station.

If you want to be in the thick of the action, pick a central location like Orchard Road, Singapore’s most famous shopping street, or close to the energetic nightlife hubs around Clarke Quay, Robertson Quay or Club Street. For a budget hotel in Singapore you’ll find good choices in Little India and Kampong Glam.

Singapore hotels in the central business district (CBD) or at Bugis, Outram Road and North Bridge Road are good for business travellers, with plenty of entertainment nearby.

Families might appreciate the quieter residential areas with easy access to the centre, like Tiong Bahru and River Valley, or a beachside retreat on Sentosa.

Eating Out in Singapore

Singapore’s culinary scene lies at the heart of local life. Choices range from Chinese, Indian and Asian street food at budget-friendly hawker centres in Maxwell Road, Lau Pa Sat and Tiong Bahru Market to award winning fine-dining restaurants like Restaurant Andre or Tippling Club.

For a special night out, try a rooftop restaurant such as Stellar at 1-Altitude to enjoy panoramic city views while you feast on modern European or Asian fare.

If you’re looking for an authentic Singaporean experience, BonAppetour organises trips to local families’ homes for a traditional meal, as well as gourmet cooking classes.

The chef recommends…

  • Chilli Crab: Sweet, savoury and spicy, this dish is prepared by stir-frying crabs in tomato and chilli sauce. Best eaten with fried mantous (Chinese buns).
  • Hainanese Chicken Rice: Steamed chicken, rice cooked in rich chicken broth and cucumber slices make up this beloved national dish. Spicy chilli and ginger paste is the perfect accompaniment.
  • Laksa: This delicious Peranakan soup consists of rice noodles, spices and seafood cooked in creamy coconut milk.
  • Bah Kut Teh or “meat bone tea”, prepared by simmering pork ribs in broth filled with herbs and spices.

Shopping in Singapore

Singapore’s vibrant local shopping streets and glitzy international malls should satisfy even the most demanding of shoppers.

Around Orchard Road you’ll find glamorous malls like TakashimayaParagon and Ngee Ann City, filled with high-end boutiques, luxury labels and gourmet food products. For popular local brands try exploring central malls like Marina SquareMillenia Walk or Raffles City Complex.

If you’re on the lookout for souvenirs, you can pick up Asian antiques, artworks and colourful fabrics along the quirky streets of Little India, Chinatown and Kampong Glam.

Local shopping in Singapore:

  • Ann Siang Hill: The historic streets around Ann Siang Hill and Telok Ayer are lined with independent boutiques selling unique clothing, fashion accessories and home ornaments.
  • Haji Lane: Designer boutiques selling modern and vintage fashion and lifestyle accessories have transformed this narrow alley in Kampong Glam.
  • Bugis Village: Its crowded lanes are home to a labyrinth of stores in restored shophouses, selling everything from fashion to food and electronics. Ideal for shoppers on a budget.

Culture & Nightlife in Singapore

Singapore’s cultural scene reflects its unique racial mix. The streets of Chinatown, Kampong Glam and Little India are filled with traditional shophouses and temples. A trip to the Buddha Tooth Relic TempleSri Mariamman Temple or Sultan Mosque provides a glimpse into the religious traditions of the local Buddhist, Hindu and Muslim communities. You’ll find throngs of devotees in traditional garments playing musical instruments at Sri Mariamman’s frequent temple processions.

You can trace Singapore’s history through the art, artefacts and multimedia displays at the National Museum of Singapore. Traditional Chinese beadwork, porcelain and sarong kebaya dresses are on display at the Peranakan Museum.

Singapore nightlife takes in everything from sleek rooftop bars to chic beachside hangouts and stylish nightclubs. For an evening of feasting and late-night revelry head to Clarke Quay or ClubStreet. The vibe is quieter at Robertson Quay, or at Dempsey Hill, where a relaxed evening can be enjoyed.

Live music venues in Singapore

  • Blu Jaz Cafe: Jazz lovers flock to this funky bar for its live music, as well as R&B, hip-hop and Latin dance parties.
  • Timbre: There are three Timbre venues in Singapore, with regular performances by local and international bands.
  • Catch a free concert from the Singapore Symphony Orchestra, held at venues such as the Botanic Gardens.

Leisure in Singapore

Lovers of the outdoors can find plenty to please in Singapore’s parks. You can rent a bike and follow the island-wide park connector network. You’ll enjoy coastal views, tropical greenery and cooling breezes on a ride from East Coast Park to the popular Changi Village Food Centre, which dishes up some of the best nasi lemak (coconut rice) on the island.

Nature lovers can take a treetop walk on the suspension bridge at MacRitchie Reservoir, a leisurely stroll around the hilltop at Fort Canning Park or enjoy panoramic views of the city from the Southern Ridges.

For families, the landscaped roof of the Marina Barrage, looking out over the city and Marina Bay, is a popular spot for picnics and kite flying. Ride the Singapore Cable Car over to Sentosa resort for beach watersports, golf, theme parks and views of the harbour from the Imbiah lookout.

Thrill seekers can try indoor skydiving at iFly Singapore on Sentosa or hurtle through the air in a reverse bungy or GX-5 extreme swing at Clarke Quay. Get closer to nature in the Bedok Reservoir and tackle the family friendly treetop ziplines at the Forest Adventure.

To eat as the Singaporeans do, head to a local cafe for a breakfast of kaya toast and soft boiled eggs. For a Sunday treat, try one of Singapore’s famous Champagne brunches at Garibaldi or Catalunya.

Best eats in Singapore

  • Tong Ah Eating House: This cafe serves up slices of crispy kaya toast and cups of smooth, fragrant kopi (traditional coffee).
  • Chinatown Food Street: Great for street-side dining on local delicacies like hokkien mee and roti prata.
  • Kok Sen Restaurant: This old-school dining establishment turns out some of the tastiest Cantonese wok-fried dishes on the island.
  • Din Tai Fung: This Taiwanese dumpling house has taken Singapore by storm with branches throughout the island.



6 Tips to Help You Save Towards Your Dream Vacation

6 Tips Save Towards Dream Vacation

Disclaimer: posts contains affiliate links.

If you want to go on your dream vacation and you are like most people, you will need to save up to do it. Dream vacations tend to be expensive! So how can you go about saving up enough cash to make it a reality? Here are four strong tips to get you there:

6 Tips to Help Save Towards Your Dream Vacation

Move it up the priority list – If you want to go to Tahiti, you need to forget about going up the street to the fancy restaurants for a bit. Take the money that you would spend there and put it into your dream vacation fund instead.

Start a change fund – People simply don’t realize how quickly pocket change can add up. Stick those quarters away and watch it grow! Pocket change can pay for a ton of vacation fun over the course of a year!

Set up your bank for an autosave feature – Banks now can automatically save your change overage when you use a debit card. Why not apply this to your savings account and go on vacation? Or an automatic deposit once or twice a month from your checking account into your savings account.

Make it a contest with your travel buddy – If you are traveling with someone on this dream vacation, have a contest to see who can save the most by a specific date. The competition helps you to make good decisions. The winner should get a reward!

6 Tips Save Towards Dream Vacation

If you’re not using Honey, a Google Chrome extension, you’re basically throwing money away. This genius Chrome extension scans the Internet for any available coupons and automatically applies the best one to your cart at checkout. Honey does all of the work in a couple of seconds, and it’s free.

6 Tips Save Towards Dream Vacation

While shopping on-line, don’t forget ebates! Last year I received $360 directly deposited from ebates just for going to sites I normally shop at through the ebates websites. It’s easier than ever now with an “ebates button” you can use in case you forget to go to your favorite on-line site without going through ebates! 




Star Wars Galactic Nights Coming to Disney’s Hollywood Studios

Star Wars Galactic Nights Hollywood Studios

Experience an epic premiere party ~ get in costume for this galactic party (be sure to read the Official Costume Guidelines HERE) ~ the first of the new Star Wars events for the entire family coming to Disney Hollywood Studios on April 14, 2017 from 7:00 p.m. to midnight!

Adult $129 and Child (3-9) $124 plus tax

Enjoy Special shows and activities during the evening, including:

  • Hollywood Arrival:  Make your entrance walking the red carpet
  • Special Star Wars Character Sightings and Greetings:  Look for Boba Fett, Storm Troopers and more!

Some of the Character opportunities you can expect to experience include:

  • Stormtroopers on Patrol ~ As you board your shuttle at Star Tours – The Adventures Continue, get ready to come face-to-face with Imperial Stormtroopers patrolling the embarkation ramps in pursuit of a Rebel spy.
  • Ewok Encounter ~ While you adventure through the forest of Endor en route to your flight with Star Tours – The Adventures Continue, prepare for a curious encounter with a few furry village inhabitants.
  • Imperial March ~ Clear the way for Darth Vader as the feared-and-revered Sith Lord leads a battalion of Stormtroopers down Hollywood Boulevard during a dramatic Imperial March to the event stage.
  • March of the First Order ~ Clear the way for Captain Phasma as this ruthless commander leads her squad of Stormtroopers up Hollywood Boulevard in a daunting demonstration of the First Order’s obedience and strength.
  • Characters at Star Wars Launch Bay ~ Visit the Cantina at this popular Disney’s Hollywood Studios destination for a chance to interact with the most notorious bounty hunter in the galaxy, Boba Fett—and possibly even Darth Vader himself!

Rebel Base ~ Dance the night away at this DJ-hosted party featuring a stunning projection of Yavin Base

The Star Wars Show on Location ~ Join the hosts of the popular starwars.com show as they interact with guests . . . and film material for their weekly online program!

Celebrate the Saga ~ Throughout the evening, take off on an interactive journey that chronologically celebrates the milestones of 40 Force-filled years of Star Wars.

  • Inside the Saga:  After a brief pre-show warm-up featuring the hosts of the Star Wars Show, hear from a Star Wars feature film cast member.  As your host asks question after riveting question, their stories will be yours—including what it was like to perform before an audience of millions!
  • Behind the Magic: Following a pre-show with the hosts of the Star Wars Show, learn what it takes to make some of cinema’s most beloved moments, as experienced by one of the Saga’s behind-the-scenes wizards. Their adventures will be yours as this special crew member explains all that goes into bringing the world—and worlds—of Star Wars to life.
  • Star Wars: A Galaxy Far, Far Away
  • Unique, Park-wide Scavenger Hunt:  Search for the Death Star plans throughout the park and capture your experience to share on social media. Put together a puzzle of interactive proportions as you collect Star Wars-themed pieces from each of the 8 live-action films!

During the Seize the Saga Scavenger Hunt, you’ll be enlisted to find 8 takeaway clues located at each of the Star Wars photo backdrops. After gathering the clues, you will be encouraged to act out your very own mini scene or capture a heartfelt message about your love for Star Wars—and post your moment on social media during the event.

  • Dimensional Photo Backdrops:  Feel like you’re in the middle of the action as some of the most iconic Star Wars scenes surround you.
  • Unique Food and Keepsakes:  Treat yourself to galactic-themed bites and special souvenirs available for purchase
  • Fireworks:  End the evening with a nightime spectacular bursting with memorable Star Wars moments.

Plus, ride Star Wars themed, Disney Hollywood Studios attractions and more!

Attractions available throughout the event include:

  • Star Tours – The Adventures Continue
  • Star Wars Launch Bay
  • Star Wars: Path of the Jedi
  • Jedi Training: Trials of the Temple
  • Toy Story Mania!
  • The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror
  • The Great Movie Ride
  • Muppet*Vision 3D
  • Voyage of the Little Mermaid

*Tickets are nontransferable and nonrefundable. The number of tickets available is limited. Tickets are valid only during specific event dates and hours. Prices, entertainment, attractions, experiences, ticket types, entitlements and other event elements subject to change without notice.

The event is currently only scheduled for April 14, 2017, but I additional dates and events should be announced soon since Disney is billing this as “the first of the new Star Wars events”. I would imagine they will begin to offer additional nights based on the Star Wars theme soon.

You can purchase tickets HERE.