My Disney World Agent Education Program

A special guest stopped by our last day of the Disney Agent Education Program.

A special guest stopped by our last day of the Disney Agent Education Program.

This year I was fortunate enough to be selected for a Disney agent education program. Every couple months, Disney offers these programs to agents who are new to the business, or need a refresher on things. It was a whirlwind four days of learning more about the business, and visiting many hotels and even the Disney Cruise Line. Here are some of the highlights I got to experience:

Animal Kingdom Lodge

Pretty soon I will write up an entire blog entry on this hotel. It was my first time staying at the Lodge and I didn’t quite know what to expect. I was never one to really gravitate towards an African theme, and I was always turned off by the fact that you couldn’t walk to a park from the hotel. Now that I have stayed there, I can’t wait to go back. The hotel is beautiful, and there is something, or some animal hiding around every corner. My room looked out onto a small part of the savanna.

Disney's Animal Kingdom lodge was overflowing with animals.

Disney’s Animal Kingdom lodge was overflowing with animals.

Throughout the day I could see different types of birds and grazing animals. The highlight of my room was seeing the giraffes every night. While having a savanna view was definitely awesome, I don’t even think it was necessary. Down every hallway, there are windows to see the animals. Every exit door you can open and peak out to the savannas. And right off the lobby, you can walk little trails to get better views of different animals. There was never a shortage of zebras. The hotel is kind of dark and quiet, making me feel like it was all for me. This hotel definitely has a lot of extra activities. You can sign up for safaris, and even use night vision goggles to see the animals in the evening. What you give up in terms of walking distance to parks, the animals and hotel more than make up for with amenities and scenery.

Disney's Art of Animation is just plain fun.

Disney’s Art of Animation is just plain fun.

Art of Animation 
Since I am usually visiting Disney World with just my mom or husband, there has been no need to stay in a family suite. Seeing them was just a treat. The Art of Animation resort has a tremendous amount of detail. Even the landscape and music will suddenly change as you move from the Finding Nemo pool to the Lion King building. You really feel like you stepped into the movies. I found the total immersive feeling more here than any other value resort. The suites are great and really well thought out. You can fit six in these rooms that have one stand alone bedroom with bathroom, and a separate pull out couch and drop down murphy bed / table with bathroom and kitchenette. We also got to eat lunch in the food court, and it was some of the best looking food I have seen at Disney. There was so much more to eat than the traditional burger. Pasta, salads, sandwiches, and different ethnic foods guarantee that there will be something for everyone.

Where else can you find gingerbread houses like these? Only at Disney.

Where else can you find gingerbread houses like these? Only at Disney.

Gingerbread houses

Since I was there around the Christmas holiday, I was able to see all the trees in the hotels, holiday decorations, and some beautiful gingerbread houses. The Contemporary Resort had a huge Frozen themed gingerbread house, complete with characters. The Beach Club holds a rotating gingerbread carousel. Both the Grand Floridian and Boardwalk Inn had Gingerbread houses so big, that they were selling gingerbread cookies from inside them.

Going onboard the Disney Dream
Even though I took my maiden voyage on the Disney Dream last August, getting to board on a day that they get the ship ready blew my mind a little bit.

The Disney Dream is big, beautiful, and has something for everyone.

The Disney Dream is big, beautiful, and has something for everyone.

On the same day people disembark the cast members have only a couple hours to get everything ready for the next batch of people ready to board. This means total turnover of rooms, common areas, restaurants, and lounges. Something I also got to do this time that I didn’t do on my three night cruise was explore literally everything onboard the ship. I was able to see the kids sections, all the way from the nursery, to kids clubs, to teen lounges. I was able to check out all the adult lounges. I was able to see the two exclusive restaurants, Palo and Remy, that require advanced reservations. I also got to see every room category onboard. Even though I was completely exhausted after this action packed tour, I feel very comfortable with the Disney Dream, and am still amazed by how beautiful, clean, and well-maintained it is.

Illuminations Dessert Party

On our very first night, we had an exclusive area of the World Showcase just for the agents to eat some dessert and watch Illuminations. Even though I have seen this firework show a million times, I have never seen it with such an amazing, unobstructed view – while drinking beverages and eating delicious desserts. I know that dessert parties can be pricey, and it’s not something I would do every time, but maybe on a special occasion I would suggest splurging.

See Illuminations like never before.

See Illuminations like never before.

During this party, they gave us exclusive Mickey glasses that are only available for these dessert parties. They somehow polarize the light so every light source you look at looks like a Mickey head. It was both trippy and super cool at the same time. It added a little extra magic to an already great show.

While I was exhausted every night after my full day of conferences, site tours, and having some time at the park, it was an awesome experience. Although I am a Disney dork through and through, there is always something new to learn, and something new going on. My agent education program was a great experience. I hope to one day attend the program in Disneyland as well.

Top spots that will give you song chills…Disney World

Song Chills

Song Chills

I read somewhere that about 50% of people experience song chills (aka goose bumps) when they listen to music. This phenomenon is something that happens to me frequently, and most often when listening to music from Disney World or Disneyland. (I have Disney radio stations going for the rest of the year when I’m not actually there.) As sure as the sun rises in the East, I will without fail sense that shiver of excitement and awe down my spine for these Walt Disney World experiences.

See what a little wishing can do

See what a little wishing can do

Wishes
If you read my Best Firework viewing locations, you know that I am a pretty big fan of Wishes. While some folks may be getting tired of this show (I’m sure I would love whatever firework show they eventually decide to replace it with) Wishes has been around over a decade. That means I have looked up into the sky and dreamed as dreamers do throughout high school, college, and part of my adult life. I have watched it with my mom, friends, and now husband. While the show stays the same, I know I have grown and changed, making it meaningful and song chill worthy.

Watch World Showcase light up

Watch World Showcase light up

IllumiNations
For anyone interested, the pre IllumiNations and IllumiNations soundtrack are great songs to run to if you like to run to Disney music as I do. The finale always pumps me up and pushes me a little more. Plus it’s a long song, so by the time you ran to it, another mile should have gone by. Going off what I said about Wishes, I am a total sucker for Fireworks and anything that lights up and looks cool. When you are standing around World Showcase Lagoon at Epcot and the IllumiNations song is coming to its climax and all the countries light up as fireworks are sparkling overhead, it enough to make my hairs stand on edge for sure. While I could take or leave the giant globe (can never really see it anyways) the 360 view of world showcase lit up paired with an awesome song is just that…awesome.

Sing it girl!

Sing it girl!

Festival of the Lion King
Take one of the best soundtracks from a Disney movie and pair it with with super talented singers, acrobats, dancers, and fire handlers and you have a recipe for success. This show is just so visually stimulating, there is always something going on in front of you or above you. While the Tumble Monkeys are super impressive, and I can not figure out for the life of me how the dancing spinning birds (Can You Feel the Love Tonight sequence) don’t immediately fall over or throw up, the big beautiful woman who belts The Circle of Life is sure to give you well deserving chills.

Who doesn't love this guy?

Who doesn’t love this guy?

Mickey’s PhilharMagic
Disney again uses the soundtrack of the Lion King (If it aint broke) and other chart topping favorites, Be Our Guest, Part of your World, The Second Star to the Right, A Whole New World, to serenade you into a Disney Magic soundtrack coma. While it’s a 3D attraction (never wait in line for it), a “4th dimension” of in your face smells, pops, drips, and wind immerses you in the movie and gives the songs a refreshed feel. Without fail, the Little Mermaid sequence (did the blog title give it away? ) into the Lion King gives me song chills, and then I pretty much have them for the rest of the show with all that cool swirling wind. I feel like they packed so much classic Disney soundtrack magic into this movie, it’s impossible not to get a goose bump or two.

God Bless America, Voices of Liberty are awesome

God Bless America, Voices of Liberty are awesome

Voices of Liberty
Check you park entertainment times for catch the Voices of Liberty in the American pavilion of World Showcase at Epcot. This group of a cappella singers will serenade you will both Americana, Patriotic, and occasionally a Disney classic. Did I ever mention I love all things patriotic as well? They are so in sync and their sound is so powerful, which is amplified in the beautiful round rotunda room. Interested in more? They have a website: http://www.libertyvoices.com/, where you can even have them perform at your next event. That seems like a surefire way to have the coolest 4th of July party on the planet. Anyways, their voices are spectacular and the combination of their powerful sound and the very impressive sopranos cause immediate song chills all over my body.

I hope those in the (better) 50%, enjoy every last chill when experiencing these spots around the parks. Even if these spots don’t do it for you, there is bound to be a place in Disney World where you find the magic and let the emotions run wild. Disney is real great at immersing you in sights, sounds, and smells and this keep me coming back for more time and time again.