By Sarah Waffle Gavin, on May 28, 2014

Summer with Disney

Summer is right around the corner, and Disney remains one of the top options for family travel. On land, Disney Parks offer a variety of destinations on either coast. At sea, Disney Cruise Line mixes great ships with exciting destinations and kid-oriented amenities. Across the board, Disney continues to invest in new and exciting experiences for families. And, much like Expedia prides itself on rolling out improvements to help travelers, Disney has engineered these developments to make travel easier.

Here’s a rundown on some of the latest and greatest from the mighty Mouse.


The biggest news out of Disney so far this year pertains to MagicBands, secure all-in-one devices that allow you to access plans and vacation choices you’ve made with My Disney Experience quickly and effortlessly.

Specifically, the devices are colorful waterproof wristbands that resemble a watch or bracelet. You can use them to unlock the door of your Disney Resort hotel room, enter theme and water parks (with valid admission), check in at FastPass+ entrances, connect DisneyPhotoPass images to your account, or charge food and merchandise purchases to your Disney Resort hotel room. To use them, all you have to do is touch them to a sensor called a touch point.

Technically, the program is still a pilot, but we’ve used it and loved it and we’re not alone. Give it a try.

Viewfinder Tip: To get the most out of your MagicBand inside Walt Disney World, go online and plan specific stops at certain rides throughout the day.

Park additions

Wednesday—as in, May 28—marks the official opening of the newest ride at Disney Parks—the new Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train ride at Walt Disney World.

The ride, located right near the entrance of Fantasyland, is a roller-coaster adventure that crosses stone bridges, passes through a forest, and heads down into the mine where those little people whistled while they worked. The ride swings up and down large lifts, cruises across sharp banks and sways around exhilarating hairpin turns. We got early access to the ride and can assure you it is great fun.

At Disney’s Hollywood Studios (also inside the Walt Disney World Resort), now through June 15 visitors can experience Star Wars Weekends, during which they can encounter Star Wars celebrities and characters for special shows, presentations, autographs, and more.

Finally, inside Disneyland, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad has reopened with an upgraded track, restoration of the historic Rainbow Ridge Mining Town, and an enhanced audio system that sharpens the sounds heard by guests on the trains and in the caverns and buildings. These renovations have made one of the park’s most enjoyable rides even better. Just be sure to hold on to your hats.

Developments at sea

Disney has rolled out some exciting new features in its cruise division, too. For starters, guests are raving about the AquaDuck, an exciting “water coaster” aboard the Disney Dream. The elevated coaster is the first of its kind at sea. During the ride, you will travel 765 feet through an acrylic tube, and go on a thrilling journey around the side of the ship and down a span of four decks, and enjoy breathtaking views of the ocean and ship below. You splash into a lazy river at the end of the plunge.

What’s more, the Disney Magic, Disney Cruise Line’s first ship, has rolled out a series of new experiences, including a re-imagined lobby, an expanded Oceaneer Club, and AquaDunk, a three-story body slide.

Finally, Disney Cruise Line announced that in the summer of 2015, it will chart a magical new course for northern Europe, exploring for the first time the Norwegian fjords and Iceland. It’s safe to assume this move was driven by the success of Frozen; Norway’s fjords served as the inspiration and backdrop for the movie, and the new itinerary will bring travelers up close and personal with the landscape. As of now, the ships weren’t scheduled to stop at Arandelle. We’re sure the experience will still be unforgettable.

To celebrate all things Disney, Expedia will be hosting a Disney-themed Twitter chat this Wednesday, May 28, at 1030 a.m. PDT. To join along, log in to Twitter and follow the hashtag, #ExpediaChat. Follow @Expedia during the chat and you could win a $500 voucher on Expedia. Good luck!

What are your favorite things to do inside a Disney Park or on a Disney Cruise Line ship?