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-Disney Echo forum
+--Forum: Walt Disney World tips, trip reports, comments and questions
+---Topic: "Magical Gatherings" & "Grand Gatherings" started by RichKoster


Posted by: RichKoster on July 24, 2003 12:04 am/pm

Yoo Hoo, Disney EchoEars!

Susan Strother Clarke of the Orlando Sentinel must be all ears, because she heard this < juicy tidbit > from Disney insiders:

Keep watching for "where magic lives" now being used in TV commercials, print ads, and park publicity to be replaced by the new theme "magical gatherings."

Warren was mum on the topic, but other company insiders say those words may replace the "where magic lives" tagline now used in ads. (Disney is big on magic; remember the "100 Years of Magic" campaign that began in 2001?)

So, what's a magical gathering? Most Disney vacations have included that unexpected Disney Magic that usually exceed Guests' expectations, but the key word in this new campaign is gathering. As in family reunion. Disney wants to increase attendance by encouraging more families to vacation at WDW with other families -- whether they are related or even the MouseFest-type gatherings popular on the internet.

Let's hope there will also be special rates for these magical gatherings!
:idea:

Posted by: RichKoster on Aug. 06, 2003 11:45 am/pm

Yoo Hoo, Disney EchoEars!

It has been confirmed by Al Weiss that beginning in October 2003 a new 15 month celebration at WDW will be "Magical Gatherings" focusing on the magic of reconnecting with family and friends at Walt Disney World.

I'd bet this will be one of the things announced at the October media event.


Posted by: Mary on Aug. 08, 2003 8:29 am/pm

Since late June, when I was trying for PS for our upcoming trip, whenever I tried to get PS for ANY WS restaurant after 3 PM on Oct 9, 2003, the CM told me "they are working on the template".  After about a month of trying for Rose and Crown and Chef de France, I expressed an inquiry as to what was so special about that date!  The CM said she had no idea, had never seen anything like this for the length of time I had been trying (especially since I was able to get PS for lunch on 10/9 and dinner 10/10) so she took it upon herself to plug in every restaurant in Epcot, both FW and WS, and everyone had that mysterious "working on the template" message!  Someplace, I heard that on 10/9 there was to be a big announcement in WDW.  I mentioned this and the CM said it could be possible but she hadn't heard anything.  Well, when the hours came out for Oct, Epcot close at 3 PM on 10/9, both FW and WS, with the whole part opening at 9 AM!  So, I am wondering, what is going on?  After spending alot of money calling for PS everyday, my inquiring mind needs to know :coolgrin:

Thanks!!!

Posted by: Tinas Travel on Aug. 08, 2003 12:40 am/pm

I found this information earlier this morning:

The grand opening for Mission Space is being held during the International Press Event "Magical Gatherings", scheduled for October 8 through October 10, 2003. Over 3,400 VIP's from the national and international media will be there,
when the new 15 month celebration will be announced, Mission Space will be formally opened, and some other new attractions will be unveiled.

On October 9, 2003, Epcot will close at 3:00 pm.

Posted by: RichKoster on Aug. 08, 2003 1:51 am/pm

This is true! I found out about this huge media & press event while I was at WDW in April when the media event at Disney's Animal Kingdom was going on during that park's anniversary on Earth Day.
Posted by: coleenb on Aug. 08, 2003 7:07 am/pm

I have a bit more information on the new "Grand Gatherings".  Disney has realized that there are more and more familes traveling to Disney World together.  They realize that not everyone has a group that needs 10 or more rooms but people are interested in something special for thier small group.   Begining November 24 you have a group of 8 or more guests but less than 10 rooms you can book some specail events.
Grand Gatherings will offer several semi-private functions that appeal to groups eager to experience a special type of Disney magic together. Functions include International Storybook Dinner at Epcot® with private fireworks viewing; Good Morning Gathering at the Magic Kingdom® that
includes breakfast and a VIP photo session with Mickey Mouse; Safari Celebration at Disney's Animal Kingdom® featuring a special safari experience and dinner with music and characters; and the Magical Fireworks Voyage offered seasonally in the Seven Seas Lagoon outside of the Magic
Kingdom®. (all is subject to change).


Are you thinking about having a family reunion?  Want to celebrate a special occasion with some family in friends?  Why not do it in Disney World!  I will be happy to help you plan all of the details :sorcerer:

Posted by: RichKoster on Aug. 08, 2003 7:10 am/pm

Sounds like just the perfect thing for a Disney EchoEars Mouseke-Meet!
:nod:

I'm glad they're doing this for all the small groups it applies to -- and I also hope it makes Disney a ton of money.
:dollar:

Thanks for the additional details, Coleen!
:clap:

So is it "Magical Gatherings" or "Grand Gatherings" or both?
:confused:

Posted by: coleenb on Aug. 08, 2003 7:23 am/pm

Yes it will be great for a Mouseke-meet  :D
Seems like the name for the specail small group events is Grand Gatherings, while the new theme for the year is Magical Gatherings.  Either way a visit to Disney is both Grand and Magical.

Posted by: RichKoster on Aug. 11, 2003 12:53 am/pm

A letter from Walt Disney World Resort President Al Weiss
August 4, 2003

To WDW Cast Members:

I'm thrilled to tell you that soon we'll publicly announce a new way for guests to experience the Walt Disney World Resort, and it's called Magical Gatherings. I wanted to tell you about it first, because I'm very excited about its potential to enchant our guests and drive our business.

Magical Gatherings is the theme we'll celebrate property-wide starting in October and continuing for 15 months. It will focus on the magic of reconnecting with family and friends, and it will help us tap into the most dynamic trend in travel—extending the family vacation beyond the immediate family.

More than ever before, people are choosing vacations that let them spend quality time with those they love. What better place to do that than here at the Walt Disney World Resort? We've been bringing people together for more than three decades, because we know that more is always merrier. But no matter what size the party is, everyone visiting us will have a Magical Gathering during this time frame.

When our guests travel in parties of eight or more and stay in a Walt Disney World resort, we'll give them the designation of Grand Gathering. For them, we'll offer an array of new products and services such as itinerary planning, a vacation-planning kit for larger parties and custom-designed experiences just for these gatherings, to name a few.

In addition to all this, we'll roll out Mission: SPACE at Epcot and Mickey's PhilharMagic at the Magic Kingdom Park as part of Magical Gatherings, as well as Disney's Pop Century Resort and Disney's Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa. At the Magic Kingdom Park, we'll debut a fireworks show called “Wishes.” There's much more to this event, and you'll learn all the details soon.

One element that sets Magical Gatherings apart is that, even at the end of the 15 months, the products and services we're developing for larger parties will live on as part of our everyday business. We'll make sure it's always fun and easy to vacation with loved ones at the Walt Disney World Resort.

I look forward to helping our guests celebrate the joy of families and friends coming together, and the power of their shared experiences. We know the Walt Disney World Resort is the most magical place on earth. Now with Magical Gatherings, it will be, quite simply, magic multiplied.

Al Weiss
Walt Disney World Resort President

Posted by: RichKoster on Oct. 09, 2003 9:09 am/pm

Yoo Hoo, Disney EchoEars!

Disney has announced more details at the WDW press event this week as well as opening up a < Magical Gatherings website > about the new ways that "Magical Gatherings" can help family and friends come together at Walt Disney World.

Check out the preview of the Magical Gatherings Planner which gives you neat new tools on Disney.com including message boards and online chat.

There is also word about "Grand Gatherings," a version of Magical Gatherings designed for groups of 8. Walt Disney World specialists will help them with storybook dinners at Epcot, special meetings at the Magic Kingdom with the Disney Characters, a Safari Celebration Dinner at Disney's Animal Kingdom including special Character appearances and up-close animal experiences, plus a special Magical Fireworks Voyage cruise on Seven Seas Lagoon to see "Wishes" in a whole new way. The Disney planners also will help groups plan their itineraries -- including finding restaurants that can accommodate their gathering without having to eat at many separate tables.

Other exciting options are group souvenEARS, two-way radios and photographic memories of the group's Disney vacation.

More details can be found here on the Disney Echo!

Posted by: RichKoster on Oct. 09, 2003 9:28 am/pm






More the Merrier!

Guests "togethering" at Walt Disney World Resort in Lake Buena Vista, Fla., are treated to activities customized for their group, including storybook dining, fireworks cruises, and more. Shared moments are the focuses of Disney's new Magical Gatherings program.

Copyright 2003. THE WALT DISNEY COMPANY.

Posted by: RichKoster on Oct. 09, 2003 9:39 am/pm

The More the Merrier as Walt Disney World Resort Announces Exciting New Way to Vacation

Magical Gatherings in a Magical Place


LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Whether with friends or neighbors, classmates or cousins, the hot trend in travel today is extending the family vacation beyond the immediate family.

This fall, Walt Disney World Resort kicks off Magical Gatherings, a multi-faceted and unprecedented program of new products and services designed with these extended travel groups in mind.

"Whether they're friends across the street or families across the globe, the need to reconnect with each other is more important than ever -- we call it 'togethering,' " said Walt Disney World President Al Weiss. "We believe Walt Disney World is the most magical place there is to vacation with extended family and friends. Time together is an invaluable souvenir."

The Magical Gatherings program will give guests special opportunities to relive memories and make new ones at the world's most popular vacation destination. The program, which officially commences Oct. 6 and will continue adding more features over time, addresses everything from the details of planning an extended-family vacation to dining and entertainment, sports and recreation.

Also included are some special experiences available only to guests who are part of a Grand Gathering -- a Magical Gathering of eight or more people staying at a Walt Disney World resort:
  • The "International Storybook Dinner" at Epcot. A dinner featuring international cuisine, storytelling and entertainment ends with a special VIP viewing of "IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth."
  • The "Good Morning Gathering" breakfast at Magic Kingdom. Guests meet favorite Disney characters -- with special one-on-one time with Mickey Mouse -- and experience magical surprises to start their day.
  • The "Safari Celebration Dinner" at Disney's Animal Kingdom. Guests enjoy an end-of-day safari followed by a dinner reception at the rustic Tusker House in the Africa section of the park, complete with live entertainment, Disney character appearances and 'up close' animal experiences.
  • The "Magical Fireworks Voyage." An evening cruise on Seven Seas Lagoon, where guests enjoy entertainment surprises as Disney characters make special appearances and fireworks explode over Cinderella Castle during the new "Wishes" fireworks spectacular, created to bring to life the Magical Gatherings theme of spending time together. (Available seasonally.)
"We're trying to create experiences that guests traveling in larger groups will enjoy -- and will remember forever," Weiss said. "We want this Magical Gatherings vacation to become part of family history."

And Magical Gatherings makes it easier than ever to plan the perfect group getaway. Among the new services and offerings that start now or will be launched soon, guests will enjoy:
  • A Vacation Planning Kit, complete with video or DVD and step-by-step information on how to plan a Magical Gathering.
  • Personalized Web-based planning tools to assist communication among the group and help build consensus on dates, accommodations, activities and other details. The tools also will allow guests to invite others to participate in their Magical Gathering.
In addition, Grand Gatherings (Magical Gatherings of eight or more guests staying at a Walt Disney World resort) will enjoy:
  • A Walt Disney World team of specialists assigned to assist with every aspect of vacation planning -- dining, tours, spa treatments, recreation, special celebration events and more.
  • Group dining options. Walt Disney World Resort has significantly increased the number of dining facilities that can accommodate larger parties.
  • Other exciting options such as group souvenirs, two-way radios and photographic memories of their Disney vacation.
One thing hasn't changed for Magical Gatherings guests: The "Disney Difference" -- including legendary guest service, magical surroundings, lovable characters, spectacular live entertainment and incredible attractions -- will continue to offer something for everyone, from toddlers to teens to grandparents.

"Research shows that spending quality time with family and friends tops the list of things people want to do on vacation today," said Peter Yesawich, president and CEO of Yesawich, Pepperdine, Brown & Russell, America's leading marketing, advertising and public relations agency serving travel and leisure-industry clients, and co-author of the widely quoted National Leisure Travel Monitor.

"The emotional fabric of the country has combined with the growing sense of pressure most of us feel from the demands of our jobs to elevate the importance of spending time with the ones we love," he said. "And contemporary vacations are not just about rest, relaxation and entertainment. They're also seen as an occasion on which to reunite with our friends and family."

According to surveys, groups are increasingly looking beyond backyards and parks for a more creative location that appeals to a majority of the attendees.

"With world-class theme parks, themed resorts in all price ranges, unmatched accessibility by air or highway, recreation aplenty from golf to water parks and the added plus of Disney Cruise Line , Walt Disney World Resort is ideal for the 'togethering' vacation," Weiss said. "And now with all the new value-added benefits for the group vacationer, a good thing gets even better."

What makes any Magical Gathering even more magical is all that's new across the 47-square-mile Vacation Kingdom. Mission: SPACE at Epcot takes guests where they've never gone before -- deep among the stars to a touchdown on Mars in a simulated space adventure. "Mickey's PhilharMagic" treats Magic Kingdom guests to an entertaining 3-D musical adventure with Mickey, Minnie, Donald and friends.

And, created especially for the Magical Gatherings inaugural year, Walt Disney World Resort launches "Wishes," the most spectacular fireworks show ever to paint the sky above Cinderella Castle.

On board Disney Cruise Line , guests can enjoy a sparkling new stage show, "Golden Mickeys," a salute to Walt Disney and the animated films he created.

And -- coming soon and loaded with enough way-back memories for any Magical Gathering -- Disney's Pop Century Resort is a new value-priced resort celebrating the fads and fashions of the 20th century with giant icons such as a Big Wheel, yo-yo, jukebox and Rubik's Cube.

Beginning Oct. 6, 2003, guests interested in booking a Magical Gathering may call 407/W-DISNEY or go to disneyworld.com for more information. To download the Magical Gatherings online planning tools, guests can visit www.disneyworld.com/magicalgatherings starting Oct. 15.

Source: Walt Disney World

More pictures coming!

Posted by: RichKoster on Oct. 09, 2003 6:18 am/pm

Stars gather at Disney to help launch campaign

See highlights in the Orlando Sentinel of the announcements made at Walt Disney World by Jay Rasulo.

He presented the new family reunion program called Magical Gatherings and announced the new Visa "Kids Stay and Play Free" promotion.

< Full details. >

Posted by: JEANYLASER on Oct. 09, 2003 6:53 am/pm

:bowdown:  :sorcerer: this is the best party in disney world history.
Posted by: RichKoster on Oct. 10, 2003 2:02 am/pm

Dozens of stars come out to celebrate Magical Gatherings at Walt Disney World Resort

The stars came together for the official launch of Magical Gatherings, a celebration of the magic that occurs when friends and extended family reconnect at Walt Disney World Resort.

The celebrities included Julie Andrews, Wayne Brady, Serena Williams, the cast of TV's "Brady Bunch," Deborah Gibson and more.



Ashley Gearing

Rising country music star Ashley Gearing, 12, clowns with Dale, left, and Chip on Oct. 8, 2003, at the Magic Kingdom theme park, part of Walt Disney World Resort in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. Gearing joined dozens of celebrities for several days of festivities that included the grand openings of new attractions and shows. (Photo: Gene Duncan/Disney)



Here's A Story, Of A "Magical" Family

Five members of television's "The Brady Bunch" reunited in the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World in Florida on Oct. 8, 2003. (L-R): Florence Henderson, Christopher Knight, Maureen McCormick, Barry Williams and Susan Olsen prepare to take a ride aboard Cinderella's Golden Carrousel. This week, Walt Disney World announced new attractions and opened several new rides and shows. The sitcom stars reunited for the official launch of Magical Gatherings, a celebration of the magic that occurs when friends and extended family reconnect at Walt Disney World Resort. (Photo: Gene Duncan/Disney)



Framed "Family" Portraits

The five sitcom stars (top row, L-R) Maureen McCormick, Florence Henderson, Barry Williams (bottom row, L-R) Susan Olsen and Christopher Knight took some time out at the Disney-MGM Studios for a recreation of the opening credits of "The Brady Bunch" before a large crowd of park guests. (Photo: Todd Anderson/Disney)



The stars of TV's "The Brady Bunch," Maureen McCormick ("Marcia") and Christopher Knight ("Peter") reunite at Cinderella's Golden Carrousel in the Magic Kingdom on Oct. 8, 2003. The sitcom stars came together for the official launch of Magical Gatherings, celebration of the magic that occurs when friends and extended family reconnect at Walt Disney World Resort. (Photo: Gene Duncan/Disney)

Copyright 2003, THE WALT DISNEY COMPANY.

Posted by: RichKoster on Oct. 10, 2003 2:18 am/pm



You're in the #1 Film of the Week... What Are You Doing Next?

Going to Disney World, of course! Rising star Miranda Cosgrove, who stars in the hit film "School of Rock," visited Walt Disney World Resort in Florida on Oct. 9, 2003, as the vacation resort celebrates the opening of new attractions and shows. The young film star took some time to rock out at the Rock 'n' Roller Coaster Starring Aerosmith during her visit, standing before a four-story guitar. Inside, a high-speed thrill coaster launches guests at 0-60 mph in less than three seconds. (Photo: David Roark/Disney)



Julie Andrews at Walt Disney World

Entertainment legend Julie Andrews takes a spin on Cinderella's Golden Carrousel Oct. 9, 2003, at the Magic Kingdom. The theme park is one of four at Walt Disney World Resort in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. Andrews was accompanied by her penguin friends from Disney's classic film "Mary Poppins" on her ride. Andrews joined dozens of celebrities this week as Walt Disney World opened new attractions and shows. (Photo: Gene Duncan/Disney)



Two Thumbs Up

Pop idols Howie Dorough of The Backstreet Boys and Joey Fatone of 'N Sync unite Oct. 8, 2003, at Walt Disney World Resort in Lake Buena Vista, Fla., for the red carpet premiere of "Mickey's PhilharMagic," an all-new 3-D spectacular in the Magic Kingdom theme park. Hundreds of press lined the red carpet as celebrities filed in and out of the premiere in the Fantasyland theater. The new film, which stars Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck and a host of computer-animated Disney characters, is presented every day in the theme park.



Beauty and the Beast

Former teen pop idol and current Broadway performer and entertainer Deborah Gibson shared a "fairy tale morning" Oct. 8, 2003, at the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World Resort in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. During her career, the platinum-selling recording artist has also played "Belle" in the hit Broadway musical "Beauty and the Beast." She briefly reprised her role as Belle this morning as the giant Beast presented her with a rose.



Tennis legend Serena Williams autographs a novelty tennis ball for Apollo 13 Commander Jim Lovell at Epcot on Oct. 8, 2003. The stars came together at Walt Disney World resort for a taping of "The Wayne Brady Show" and the official launch of new attractions including Mission: SPACE and "Mickey's PhilharMagic."

Copyright 2003, THE WALT DISNEY COMPANY.

There are more photos here from the WDW media event you should check out!

Posted by: RichKoster on Oct. 15, 2003 11:25 am/pm

Magical Gatherings At a Glance

WHO: More and more travelers are planning group vacations with extended family and friends, according to travel industry research. Magical Gatherings vacations are designed to make vacation planning easy for these groups of travelers.

WHAT: Magical Gatherings is an innovative program with new products and services designed for extended travel groups planning a Walt Disney World Resort vacation. New online tools make it easier than ever -- even for a novice -- to plan a multi-household vacation. And groups of eight or more staying at a Walt Disney World resort can book new Grand Gatherings experiences that include the "Safari Celebration Dinner," "International Storybook Dinner," "Magical Fireworks Voyage" and "Good Morning Gatherings." Dedicated planning specialists will assist Grand Gathering groups with special celebrations, dining and recreation reservations.

WHEN: Beginning Oct. 6, groups can make reservations for Magical Gatherings to take place starting Nov. 24, 2003. On Oct. 15, Magical Gatherings online planning tools debut. (See Details section below)

WHERE: Magical Gatherings vacations can take place at Walt Disney World deluxe, moderate or value resorts, with an itinerary that covers the theme parks, water parks and other entertainment and recreational locations within the 47-square-mile Vacation Kingdom.

DETAILS: The Magical Gatherings vacation-planning program provides easy, step-by-step tools, including a Vacation Planning Kit complete with DVD or video. Online vacation planning is a breeze with the new Web-based Magical Gatherings Planner at www.disneyworld.com/magicalgatherings . The online tools allow you to send invitations to family and friends, engage in group chats about your itinerary, create polls for consensus building, browse and share other Walt Disney World Web pages and build a complete group vacation itinerary.

Exciting new shows and attractions give vacation planners plenty of reasons to visit Walt Disney World Resort. At Magic Kingdom, "Wishes" is the most impressive fireworks show ever, and "Mickey's PhilharMagic" -- a 3-D spectacular -- debuts in Fantasyland; at Epcot, Mission: SPACE launches guests out of this world; and the value-priced Disney's Pop Century Resort celebrates fads and fashions of decades past.

Guests can book a Magical Gatherings vacation by calling 1-407-W-DISNEY.

Posted by: RichKoster on Oct. 15, 2003 11:55 am/pm

Magical 'Grand Gatherings' Filled with Surprises For Larger Vacation Groups at Walt Disney World Resort

Pirates, Wild Animals and Popular Disney Characters Figure in the Fun


LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Shiver me timbers! Captain Hook has snared you, and now "Patch" the pirate -- that crusty scalawag -- has commandeered the vessel for an evening voyage around Seven Seas Lagoon at Magic Kingdom. Arrgh! Relax. After shoving off, ye buccaneers are too busy enjoying the scenery, playing Disney trivia games and singing sea songs to worry about walking the plank or sharpening the swords.

The adventures are magical and the planning is carefree for Grand Gatherings -- Magical Gatherings of eight or more guests staying at a Walt Disney World hotel -- who won't want to miss the "Magical Fireworks Voyage" with Patch . . . or three other brand-new Magical Gatherings experiences at Walt Disney World Resort.

Grand Gatherings is a whole new way to enjoy a large-party vacation at the Vacation Kingdom. These guests are offered a host of new products and services that make planning a big get-together easier than ever -- even for a novice. In addition to new online tools offered to all Magical Gatherings groups, Grand Gatherings have a team of specially trained reservation agents who can help book everything from priority seating for group dining to a trip to the spa to a golf outing to a memorable group photo session. Also designed specially for these larger groups are four special experiences, which guests can book at least 90 days prior to their visit:

  • "Magical Fireworks Voyage" -- After bidding farewell to Captain Hook and Mr. Smee on shore, your group will sail with Patch the pirate along Seven Seas Lagoon by the Magic Kingdom.

    This memorable evening includes ideal "seaward" viewing of the "Electrical Water Pageant" and the spectacular new "Wishes" fireworks extravaganza over Cinderella Castle.

    The voyage features group trivia and song activities and a celebration for special occasions like birthdays, reunions or anniversaries.

    The irrepressible Patch regales you with tales of Peter Pan on the trip back to shore.

    Speaking of Peter Pan, he awaits your return to pose for photos and sign autographs.

    Ages 10 and older, $29.99; ages 3-9, $14.99.




  • "Safari Celebration Dinner"

    -- You'll gather in the exotic African coastal city of Harambe at Disney's Animal Kingdom for high adventure on Kilimanjaro Safaris. Your group will journey through the park's authentic jungles and across the sweeping, baobab-studded savannah as you spot giraffes, elephants and other wild African creatures. The experience continues at Harambe's Tusker House Restaurant for an African-inspired dinner, Disney character appearances, "up-close" animal experiences and live entertainment. Ages 10 and older, $59.99; ages 3-9, $19.99.


  • "International Storybook Dinner" -- There's no need to jet around the globe to experience dining around the world. At Epcot, international culinary favorites are on the menu for adventurous groups looking for a storybook ending to their day. Children can join in the dinner's special storytelling experience, which is punctuated with a surprise character appearance. A special viewing area is reserved for the evening finale, the nighttime Epcot spectacular "IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth." Ages 10 and older, $59.99; ages 3-9, $19.99.



  • "Good Morning Gatherings" -- Breakfast with famous Disney characters enters a whole new dimension with this new group gathering served up with plenty of morning merriment at Tony's Town Square Restaurant in Magic Kingdom. Your group will not only meet favorite characters but will participate in song-and-dance numbers. Mickey Mouse makes a one-on-one appearance with each guest for photo sessions. Ages 10 and older, $24.99; ages 3-9, $11.99.


Grand Gatherings groups must include eight paying guests -- ages 3 and above -- staying at a Walt Disney World hotel. And, of course, there is no additional charge for children under 3 years of age.

Beginning Oct. 6, 2003, guests interested in booking Magical Gatherings / Grand Gatherings may call (407) W-Disney or go to < disneyworld.com > for more information. To download the Magical Gatherings online planning tools, guests can visit < www.disneyworld.com/magicalgatherings > starting Oct. 15.

Copyright 2003, THE WALT DISNEY COMPANY.

Posted by: RichKoster on Oct. 15, 2003 12:25 am/pm

Pixie-Dusted Online Tools Make Vacation Planning Simple For Walt Disney World Magical Gatherings

With the click of a mouse and a wave of Tinker Bell's wand, you can begin making online plans with family and friends for a Walt Disney World Resort vacation.

Disney's Magical Gatherings is a new, multi-faceted program designed to help groups of travelers organize and get the most from their Walt Disney World vacations, and Magical Gatherings interactive online-planning tools debut Oct. 15.

As soon as you download the Magical Gatherings Planner at < www.disneyworld.com/magicalgatherings >, your online vacation-planning session begins, and the famous animated fairy from Peter Pan flits across your computer screen to guide you through easy itinerary-planning steps. The user-friendly Web-planning tools allow you to:
  • Establish a group to plan your Magical Gathering, then create and send electronic invitations to family and friends
  • Participate in group chats to discuss vacation plans
  • Compile your own and group "favorites" of Walt Disney World attractions
  • Introduce custom polls and cast votes on "must-see" activities for the group's itinerary
  • Browse other Walt Disney World Web pages and share them with group members
  • Build a complete vacation itinerary
  • Embellish messages to group members with animation of Tinker Bell as she winks, pouts, or pixie-dusts the screen
The Magical Gatherings Web-planning tools are designed to provide an online environment in which friends and families can have fun and feel comfortable sharing their vacation-planning ideas.

"Our Web tools provide the vacation planner with a fun and unique combination of collaborative tools for building consensus and creating an itinerary," said Paul Yanover, general manager of Walt Disney Parks and Resorts Online. "It's simple and intuitive enough for easy group planning."

The colorful Web pages and entertaining graphics invite users to design a vacation around reunions, birthdays, anniversaries and other events. An invitation window lets you choose an occasion around which to build a vacation -- from there, invitations can be sent directly to friends and family.

The first group member to log in and begin planning a Walt Disney World gathering becomes a group leader with total access to every Web tool, including the "Create a Poll" feature with voting prompts. Group leaders can appoint other members as leaders, providing them access to create polls with multiple-choice options and collect votes on topics that range from, "What Disney resort would you like to stay at?" to "What do you want to do on Tuesday?" Leaders also can interact online to revise the group's itinerary.

During a vacation planning session, the "Browse and Chat" feature lets group leaders share pages from < disneyworld.com > about attractions, restaurants and activities when members participate in an online discussion about how each participant wants to spend vacation time. Once your itinerary is complete, call 407 W-DISNEY to make resort and dining reservations and to lock in recreational activities, including tee times.

The Magical Gatherings dedicated vacation-planning online tools provide a helpful tutorial for anyone needing assistance and a direct link to the disneyworld.com site. A custom calendar on your planning page "counts down" the days until your Walt Disney World Resort vacation.

Beginning Oct. 6, 2003, guests interested in booking a Magical Gathering may call 407 W-DISNEY or go to < disneyworld.com > for more information. To download the Magical Gatherings online planning tools, guests can visit < www.disneyworld.com/magicalgatherings > starting Oct. 15.

ONLINE VACATION-PLANNING MAGIC

A little pixie dust goes a long way when Tinker Bell appears online at < www.disneyworld.com/magicalgatherings > to help web users plan a Magical Gathering at Walt Disney World Resort in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. The easy-to-use web-based tools let friends and families send invitations, share vacation ideas and participate in consensus-building polls while creating a complete vacation itinerary.


Copyright 2003, THE WALT DISNEY COMPANY.

Posted by: RichKoster on Oct. 15, 2003 12:34 am/pm

Four Easy Steps to Magical Gatherings At Walt Disney World Resort

Cathy calls Rob and shares the idea first sparked by a Walt Disney World television commercial: Let's plan a family reunion! Three months later, Cathy, her cousin Rob, and 13 other family members are headed for a Magical Gathering -- a well-orchestrated visit to the world's leading vacation destination. With a vacation itinerary already in place, Cathy, Rob and their entourage are set to relive favorite family memories and make new ones while enjoying an experience tailor-made for their group.

Disney's Magical Gatherings program is a new, multi-faceted concept designed to help extended travel groups -- whether they're families or friends -- organize and enjoy their time together at Walt Disney World Resort. The program makes planning simple with a step-by-step process available to anyone. Guests can begin taking the first of four easy steps on the telephone or via the Internet beginning Oct. 6 to schedule a Magical Gathering starting Nov. 24:
  • Call 407 W-DISNEY or contact < www.disneyworld.com/magicalgatherings >.
  • Request a Vacation Planning Kit complete with video or DVD and step-by-step information on how to plan a Magical Gathering.
  • Use the Magical Gatherings Web-based planning tools designed for custom itinerary building, e-mail invitations, group chats and consensus building related to shared activities. (Available beginning Oct. 15.)
  • If your group includes eight or more people staying at a Walt Disney World resort, link up with a Magical Gatherings planning specialist who will assist with dining, recreation, golf tee times, special celebrations and other reservation needs for these Grand Gatherings.
Groups of fewer than eight guests can create their own Magical Gathering by working with one of many Walt Disney World reservationists.

Guests who request a Vacation Planning Kit video or DVD also can receive specialized planning brochures for groups that include preschoolers, including information about favorite attractions for younger children, child-care options and tips for a well-planned vacation with preschool-aged children. The interactive DVD features a highly detailed map with zoom-in capabilities to rides and attractions. It also includes special sections on thrill-seeking, grown-up fun and even resort room layouts.

The planning video and DVD also cover group recreational and relaxation opportunities beyond the parks -- including golf, parasailing, horseback riding, boating, bass fishing, dining, nightlife and spas.

Magical Gatherings planners can arrange a variety of special Disney experiences for Grand Gatherings (groups of eight or more staying at a Walt Disney World resort), including a "Safari Celebration Dinner" at Disney's Animal Kingdom, a "Good Morning Gathering" character breakfast at Magic Kingdom, the "Magical Fireworks Voyage" on Seven Seas Lagoon and the "International Storybook Dinner" at Epcot.

For the Magical Gatherings inaugural year, Walt Disney World Resort launches its most spectacular fireworks show ever, "Wishes," above Cinderella Castle in Magic Kingdom. Must-see attractions for Magical Gatherings itineraries include the new Mission: SPACE at Epcot and "Mickey's PhilharMagic" at Magic Kingdom. And Disney's Pop Century Resort opens its doors to an exciting new value-priced resort experience celebrating the fads and fashions of the 20th century.

Beginning Oct. 6, 2003, guests interested in booking a Magical Gathering may call 407 W-DISNEY or go to < disneyworld.com >for more information. To download the Magical Gatherings online planning tools, guests can visit < www.disneyworld.com/magicalgatherings > starting Oct. 15.

Posted by: RichKoster on Oct. 26, 2003 9:53 am/pm

Coming Together: The More The Merrier
New trend in travel: Guests are discovering parks in packs

by Mark Sunderland




It's almost three o'clock in the afternoon. The matriarch of the McCormick Family stands in a huddle around a Magic Kingdom@ Park map with her two sons.

The sons strategize the best route to Pirates of the Caribbean once the parade is done. But Barbara McCormick isn't listening. Instead she gazes just over the map, smiling at the rare sight of her six grandchildren all together, jostling for the best spot to see the parade. They've all been to Disney before, but never like this, never all together, sharing every magical moment.



Three generations of McCormicks gather around a Disney-MGM Studios park map.


Something compelled three generations of McCormicks to gather together from as far away as San Diego for a week-long adventure. And they're not alone.

Each year more than five million family vacations include three generations, according to the Travel Industry Association.



Families gather to enjoy a parade at the Disney-MGM Studios.


In fact, multigenerational travel has become one of the fastest growing areas of the travel industry, as many families are now including grandparents, aunts, and uncles in the family vacation.

And according to Walt Disney World@ Senior Vice President Alice Norsworthy, it's not just families but also groups made up of friends and neighbors that are traveling together more often.



Adventurers spin their way through Kali River Rapids.


Always the innovators, Walt Disney World Resort is not only recognizing the group travel trend, they're celebrating it.

“With so much to see and do for everyone, Walt Disney World really is the perfect place to celebrate the magic that happens when people come together -- Magical Gatherings," said Norsworthy.

The Ratliffs of Memphis recent1y visited with their longtime friends and next-door neighbors.

“We've all been here before, either with our families or for Spring Break,” Christopher Ratliff said. "We've been telling each other stories about coming here as kids. It's just a completely different experience coming here with people that also have a Disney history. We've already decided to do it again.

The architects of Magical Gatherings™ vacations have created a variety of planning tools for small groups like the Ratliffs, for instance, pre-arrival' online assistance. And for larger groups, like the McCormicks, there are additional services, like group dining arrangements, theme park. experiences and itinerary planning assistance.

“We're going to make planning a group vacation not just easy, but fun also,” Norsworthy said.

“There really is something here for everyone, and if you can experience it all and still stay close to your group, well, that's where the magic is."

Whether it's a large family like the McCormicks, a few couples getting together or vanload of soccer moms, when it comes to Walt Disney World vacations, the more the merrier.



Copyright 2003, THE WALT DISNEY COMPANY.

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