Star Wars Half Marathon Weekend 2015

Editor’s Note:  Here is part two from our friend Todd Carrier from his recently runDisney weekend.

If you’ve read any of my previous posts, you might have surmised that I enjoy the runDisney brand, inaugural races and race bling. If you can combine all three, then I’m one happy guy. I was able to have this enjoyment the third weekend in January with the Star Wars Half Marathon Weekend in Disneyland. The events for the weekend included: the Health and Wellness Race Expo, runDisney Kids’ Races,Star Wars Family Fun Run 5K, Star Wars 10K, Star Wars Half Marathon and the Star Wars Rebel Challenge (completing both the 10K and the Half).

Coming off of the Dopey Challenge in WDW, I allowed myself a day of rest and casual park touring before having anything to do with racing. I also planned on allowing myself only one meal (quick service or table service) inside either of the parks. This goal was helped with my hotel offers a complimentary breakfast from 6:30-9:30 (sharp…they lock the door at 9:28 and start clearing stuff immediately).

I flew into LAX from Orlando International on a non-stop direct flight that landed in Los Angeles around 9:30am. I took a shuttle service to my Good Neighbor Hotel from the airport and four of the folks were also taking part in the weekend, but not on the running side but on the vendor and administrative portion. It was interesting hearing a little bit about their thoughts on the weekend. It’s good to be a little chatty sometimes. As is pretty standard with my luck, I was the last to be dropped off at my hotel, the Quality Inn and Suites Anaheim, which was under renovation. I checked in, freshened up, and was on my way before 11am. Since I hadn’t had any food since dinner in Florida (at the Sonny’s on OBT) the night before, I was hungry. I started my walk to the parks and decided I needed to eat before I went in. I decided I wanted some lunch and tried the Gandhi Palace inside the Ramada Plaza at Harbor and Katella. I had the lunch buffet at this Indian restaurant, instead of choosing one item, I was able to sample 15 entrees. My bill before tip was under $10. After lunch, I went through security and entered the esplanade and then into Disney California Adventure. I had upgraded my Walt Disney World Premium Annual Pass in November for the Avenger’s Half Marathon Weekend (did I mention I really, really like inaugural race bling?) to a Disney Parks Premier Pass. I didn’t experience any issues either in WDW or DLR with park entry, fast passes or Photopass/Memory Maker. I had a snack for dinner and passed out early (7pm) since I had been up since before midnight pacific time.

CarsLand Sunrise Star Wars Half 2015 Continue reading

Dopey Challenge 2015

Editor’s Note:  Todd Carrier brings us two blogs about his latest runDisney events.  Today we hear about Marathon Week 2015.

The first full week of January, Walt Disney World’s Marathon Week 2015 marked the return of the some of its most beloved races. The flagship event for runDisney reprised the same races and challenges that it held last year; the Pluto 5K Family Fun Run, the Minnie Mouse 10K, the Donald Duck Half Marathon, the Mickey Mouse Marathon, the 10th anniversary of the Goofy Challenge, and the second Dopey Challenge. I was lucky (or foolish) enough to be able to participate in my second consecutive Dopey Challenge.

Dopey Challenge 2015 Continue reading

California Here We Come!

Traveling with ToaD
October 3 – 11, 2015

Disneyland is turning 60 in 2015 and we want to be there for the Celebration! We have traveled to Disneyland before as a group and wanted to get back there again, but why do the same trip over again when there is so much more to see and do? That’s why we have put together a custom group just for you! We are looking forward to traveling with past group members and new alike! We hope you’ll join us.

We have two groups to offer. For those that want to explore more in Disneyland and experience the Diamond Celebration at Disneyland Resort (not to mention the Diamond Anniversary for Disneyland Hotel as well), we have put together a three night stay at the Disneyland Hotel. We will have exclusive VIP tours along with other activities to celebrate both the Diamond Celebration and the Halloween season at both Disneyland and Disney California Adventure! Your package includes accommodations at the Disneyland Hotel, park hopper tickets, transfers, most meals and gratuities. Pricing for this tour is $2000 per person for double occupancy. Single supplement is +$780, subject to availability.

Disneyland during its 50th Celebration

Disneyland during its 50th Celebration

For those that want to experience San Francisco, including some of the Disney connections to the area, we have a five night package for you there! Upon arrival in San Francisco, we will be whisked off to Sausalito and then continue our journey on to Napa Valley. While in Napa Valley for two nights, we will tour several wineries with Disney connections, including tastings and special activities, with a picnic lunch at one of the wineries. After returning back to San Francisco, we will visit the Letterman Digital Arts Center as well as the Disney Family Museum. For the next two days, we will have several exclusive tours and special activities, along with some private time to explore more on our own. Pricing for this tour is $2580 per person for double occupancy. Single supplement is +$890, subject to availability.

San Francisco from the Bay

San Francisco from the Bay

Golden Gate Bridge

Golden Gate Bridge

Are you interested in both? For those participating in both tours, your transfers between Anaheim and San Francisco will be covered by Travel On A Dream! Pricing per person is $4580 for double occupancy. Single supplement is $1670.

Availability for these tours is limited so lock in your place today! Deposits are only $200 per person for each group ($400 per person for the combination group) and are fully refundable until 95 days prior (60 days prior for the Disneyland only tour). Fill out your request form here. We hope you will join us in October!

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Norwegian’s Freestyle Choice and Escape!

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We’re taking Freestyle Cruising® to the next level with Norwegian’s Freestyle Choice, giving you the opportunity to go where you want with the offer you want. Book any destination in an Oceanview Stateroom or higher and get the Ultimate Dining Package, the Ultimate Beverage Package or an onboard credit up to $300. Soak up beauty in Hawai`i** or relive history in Europe and choose any two offers when booking an Oceanview Stateroom or higher. Or live it up in a Suite or The Haven while cruising any destination and get all three. Great things happen when you Cruise Like a Norwegian®. Book today! Offer ends January 31, 2015.

**Ultimate Beverage Package will be substituted for an Air Credit.

CHECK OUT NORWEGIAN ESCAPE!

Contact Travel On A Dream today to Cruise Like a Norwegian!

Traveling to the Land Down Under

Once upon a time I was a young girl. That should read “back when the dinosaurs roamed the earth…” but I digress.

While watching TV, I saw the “I hate Qantas” commercial with a Koala lamenting the airline bringing tourists to Australia. I instantly wanted to visit this faraway land but realistically I knew it was like so many other dreams and probably would never happen.

Fast forward a lot of decades and I get an email from Celebrity Cruise line inviting us to go on a “Reunion Cruise” from Sydney, Australia to Auckland, New Zealand. The “Reunion” part was for repeat cruisers and, since we reached the Elite level of their loyalty program, it was promoted as having special events just for us. I showed my hubby and we decided to go for it.

Naturally, I turned to Tracy at Travel On A Dream to help us plan our epic vacation. The cruise part was easy. Much as we travel frequently, the rest was like planning a trip to the moon. After researching airlines I never knew existed (Fiji, New Zealand, Emirates) I picked (take a guess) Qantas.

Since we live in New York, it would mean a whole lotta time on an airplane. The first flight was from JFK to Los Angeles. Let me tell you, flying to the other side of the planet isn’t cheap so we opted for coach. Qantas uses huge Air Bus planes and I was relieved to find the seats to be fairly roomy. On every flight each seat comes equipped with a headphone, blanket and pillow.

On the “short” four and a half hour flight to LA, we were served dinner. On the longer flights we were also served breakfast. On the return flights, the hot breakfast was scrambled eggs, sausage, roasted tomatoes and BAKED BEANS!! Oh Qantas, you have a cruel sense of humor serving people on a 14 hour flight beans. There were a few times where I was sniffing my scented hand sanitizer until the puffs of bean clouds disappeared.

And yes, that’s not a typo. It’s 14 hours from Los Angeles to Sydney. Fortunately there’s a big selection of movies, TV shows, games, radio and music. Between meals they serve a snack and there’s a shelf stocked with treats that you help yourself to. Periodically, the flight attendants clean the bathrooms so you don’t have to practice beating the world record for holding your breath.

The weird part is adjusting to the space/time continuum. We left New York at 6:30pm on October 30th and arrived in Sydney at 8:30am on November 1st. October 31st simply disappeared. Conversely, we left Auckland (an additional 3 hour flight to Sydney on the way home) at 8:10am on November 18th and got to New York at 5:30pm still on the 18th. I swear Marty McFly and Doc Emmet Brown were in the cockpit.

So after spending an eternity on planes we arrived in Sydney. It actually happened!! I made it to that distant land on the other side of the globe!! So did our luggage!! (We don’t have the best luck with that flying from JFK.)

Next installment, exploring Sydney.

Change to DCL Onboard Booking Limits

In addition to new itineraries and cruise dates, this week Disney Cruise Line also announced a change in the time limit for using an onboard booking and receiving the benefits.

Prior to November 2013, you could book a future cruise while onboard your Disney Cruise and use it anytime in the future.  This led to many bookings that would need to be moved to a new date before the penalties set in.  Some reservations had been moved many, many times!  At some point, there needed to be the realization that you weren’t going to use that reservation.

That’s when Disney changed the policy and added a limit.  Bookings made prior to November 2013 were given until November 30, 2015 to be used or the onboard booking benefits would drop off of the reservation.  Any future bookings, however, were only given 18 months to be used.

This arbitrary number of months caused a lot of problems for future cruisers.  We started hearing a new reason for cancellations – “I can’t use the booking before the benefits will expire so I might as well cancel.”  We also were hearing back from those just off cruises that they didn’t book onboard due to the new time limits.

We figured that 18 months was a problem from the start.  There are a different types of people who make an onboard booking.  I’m going to focus on just two types.  Both of them are trying to save money on their future cruise and therefore have done their research.  They know that booking onboard is one of the ways to get a discount and onboard credit.

The first group are those who cruise every couple years.  They cruise pretty much at the same time each year due to the kid’s school break schedule or vacation time from work.  The problem is that 18 months is not long enough for them so they wouldn’t book onboard.

The second group are those who cruise every year.  Clearly, 18 months should be enough, right?  No, because they understand how to get the best price with Disney.  You book as soon as the dates are released.  That means if you normally cruise in January every year, if you book onboard your cruise, you would have to book for the following year.  However, to get the best pricing, you should have booked as soon as the following year’s bookings opened.  By the time you get onboard, you already have the next vacation booked, so it doesn’t do you any good to book onboard as you would need to use that booking within six months of your next cruise.

It seems as though Disney noticed this was happening and this week modified the time limit to now be 24 months.  While I would have preferred to see three or four years like Norwegian Cruise Line allows, or at a minimum 25 months (to account for shifts in school breaks/holidays/etc.), I think this is a vast improvement.

If the reason for the change is the reduction in the number of onboard bookings being made, I do think they will see an increase now.  If it is due to the number of cancellations, I don’t thing this will help.  Remember, when the rule went into effect, everyone booking before the rule was given approximately 24 more months.  It was only the new bookings that were given 18 months.  That means the majority of those who cancelled due to the time limit, were doing so because the limit was 24 months, not 18.

I am happy with the change however.  There was a need for it to happen.  For those who are sorry they didn’t book onboard or cancelled existing reservations due to the limits, don’t feel bad.  You helped Disney to see that the 18 months was too short a time.  Without your actions, there wouldn’t have been a reason to change it.  You sent a message and it appears it was heard loud and clear.