Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Planes, Trains and Automobiles

And of course there's monorails, FriendShip boats, buses, and trams. 

What's your favorite way to get to and around Walt Disney World? 

I took a quick poll on Twitter to see if people preferred using their own car while visiting the Disney parks or using Disney transportation. The overwhelming winner? Disney transportation

Honestly, it's my preference too. You don't have to worry about finding your way around the huge Walt Disney World resort property and you can literally leave the driving to someone else. Also, you don't have to pay the parking fee, which starts at $15 per day, per car (more if you have an RV). 

It's a wonderful perk of staying at a Disney resort - no need to rent a car!

But for those that drive to Disney in their own car or in a rental car, here are a few tips to minimize any frustrations:

1. Get a map. This may seem obvious, but a map of Orlando and a detailed map of Disney are handy tools.

2. Remember where you parked! Write it down or snap a photo of the parking sign with your camera or phone...trust me, you'll be happy you did. (*Note - if you forget, Disney security can assist you)

3. Park in the lot of the last park you want to visit that day. For instance, if you want to end your night with IllumiNations at Epcot, but want to spend the day at Hollywood Studios, park your car at Epcot and then take the bus to the Studios. At the end of the night, your car will be waiting for you at Epcot. 

Disney buses and boats generally run every 10 - 15 minutes or so. The monorail is more frequent.

There are pros and cons to both scenarios.

Which do you prefer? Driving your own car or riding on Disney transportation?

Thursday, August 22, 2013

How Can You Reinvent Your Disney Experience?

If you've been to the Disney parks a few times, you probably have your plan in place. Up early and on the boat or bus or monorail. Sunblock, tickets, picture in front of the castle, FastPasses, popcorn, ice cream, the parade...

It all happens so fast. But do you ever get SO into your routine that you feel like you've been there, done that?

One way to break out of your routine is to try something new. Shake things up a bit! 

All of us at Magical Travel visit the Disney parks and cruise ships as often as we can. This keeps us up to speed on the latest tricks and tips so can share them with you. (We know it's a tough job, but someone has to do it!) 

One of our agents, Tammy, is at Walt Disney World right now with her family. For as many times as she's been to Disney, she's always looking for new ways to experience some magic.

She recently shared a snapshot of how she and her family spent a magical day at Disney:

"We had so much fun today! We rode our bikes all over Fort Wilderness and we saw three deer, a rabbit, and a squirrel. We stopped and visited the Magic Kingdom horses, too, during their bath time!
(*NOTE - Didn't bring your bikes? You can always rent bikes at Fort Wilderness or other locations on Disney property)

We went to the Magic Kingdom around 8:30pm. We took the boat over and with that full moon beaming on the water it was nice!
It was close to parade time, but it seemed a lot less busy tonight. You could get right through by Casey's and the Crystal Palace. You don't see that often.

Anyway, we wanted to get a few things in so we hurried over to Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, then Splash Mountain, the Haunted Mansion and Belle's show. We were able to meet Ariel in New Fantasyland and then we rode Space Mountain - we were the last guests to "fly" on Space Mountain tonight!
It was a super fun night at the Magic Kingdom! The boat ride back was close to empty, too. We sat on the front and enjoyed the moon again. This time we had a great cast member who came out and talked with us most of the ride back. Great cast members like this with so much knowledge can really make your day. Take time to get to know these people. I thought I knew everything there is to know about Disney but I learned some new things from him tonight.

Our family is ALWAYS on the lookout to try new things at Disney. You really have to reinvent the Walt Disney World experience every time you visit - especially when you visit a lot like us!"

Taking a late night boat ride, talking trivia with Disney cast members, going for a bike ride...these are just a few ways to shake up your routine.

You can also ride the monorail and get off at a different resort each time. Relax on a hammock at the Polynesian Beach Resort. Listen to the grand piano in the beautiful lobby of the Grand Floridian Beach Resort. Sit in front of the cozy fireplace at Wilderness Lodge...

So how will you reinvent your next Disney vacation?

Need more ideas? Our agents are the experts!

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

How Loyal Are You?

Wanna play a game? It won't take long, I promise. Just run through this list of brand names and see which ones you prefer. 

Target or Walmart?
Coke or Pepsi?
AMC or Regal Cinema?
Hershey or Nestle?
United or JetBlue?
Home Depot or Lowe's?
McDonald's or Burger King?
How quickly were you able to do this? I'm guessing pretty fast because like most people, you know what brands or products you prefer. But have you ever thought about why you like one over another?

Brand loyalty is what marketers strive for. So they try fancy packaging, prettier colors, prettier faces, flashier graphics, etc. That might work for a little while, but what really determines customer loyalty is the emotional connection they make.

I was lucky enough to work at Walt Disney World for many years. And I've got many lessons I could share with you. But really, the one big lesson that I and every other cast member was taught is if you're not providing exceptional guest service, you're not doing your job.

I was a tour guide at Disney. First at the Backstage Studio Tour in those long, red shuttles. And then in Guest Relations, at what was then known as Disney-MGM Studios. I loved working for Disney and I loved my job. 

But in the bigger picture, my job title was kind of irrelevant. Why? Because everyone at Disney has the same job: to provide exceptional guest service. Not just really good guest service, but exceptional guest service. 

Granted, it doesn't always happen. Disney is a company run by humans. Humans who make mistakes sometimes and don't always handle things well. But Disney has a term for that, too: "Service Recovery." It's basically fixing what went wrong as best as you possibly can. 

The Disney movies and songs trigger good feelings and smiles in people, for sure. And that's all part of the brand, too. 

But I believe that the reason people visit Walt Disney World, Disneyland or any other Disney property not just once but over and over again throughout their lives is because of the emotional component. 

People enjoy being greeted by the smiling gentleman who's been welcoming guests at the entrance of the Grand Floridian for years. They love visiting a family "brick" on the pathway near the Polynesian Resort. And they marvel at how Snow White or the Fairy Godmother remembers meeting their child earlier in the day...and then waves and calls their child by name from the parade float hours later (true story).

It all boils down to exceptional customer service. Successful brands or companies or small businesses are ones that consistently exceed expectations and leave an indelible imprint on their customers. They make their customers - or guests - feel welcomed, appreciated and most important, they make them feel valued. 

Chances are, the brands you chose at the beginning of this post make you feel the same way, too.

So what brands did I miss? Which ones are you most loyal to and why? What is it about them that makes you loyal to their products?