Being First Family at Disney’s Animal Kingdom

first_imgShare This!A giraffe watching us closely during our private SafariHave you ever had an extra magical experience at Disney? Maybe a Cast Member or even another guest found a way to throw some pixie dust your way? From the smallest gestures, like a departing guest passing on their still inflated balloon to a new guest, to the biggest surprises, say winning a night in Cinderella Castle, Disney is perpetually full of fairy-tale moments. My husband and I were lucky enough to experience that very thing when we were chosen as ‘First Family’ at Disney’s Animal Kingdom.I knew there was a First Family at Magic Kingdom. When chosen, those lucky ducks are invited to open the park from the train station platform as part of the Magic Kingdom Welcome Show. Families arrive to the entrance gates super early every morning in matching outfits for a shot at joining the characters up on stage. As someone without kids of my own, being that First Family never really interested me personally. I’d rather see a family with little kids enjoy it instead. Plus, the thought of being up on stage in front of that many people is terrifying to me. Visions of baby Simba hoisted above all the animals at Pride Rock in Disney’s Lion King would haunt my dreams. So, without realizing other parks participated in the practice of selecting a First Family too, I gave up on any notion of being one.It was with that lack of knowledge and with minimal expectations that we woke up bright and early one morning to rope drop Animal Kingdom. We successfully arrived before the gates opened which gave us a distinct advantage. Once they started letting people through the gates past The Oasis in Animal Kingdom and into Discovery Island, we were at the very front of the hoard of people who would head towards Kilimanjaro Safaris when the park opened. As luck would have it, we were also right in front of the tower where all the macaw birds land during the official opening announcement as well. While watching all the beautiful birds flying overhead to perch in front of us, I kept thinking this can’t get any better.Zebras as seen on Kilimanjaro SafarisThen we started our walk back towards Kilimanjaro Safaris, and at this point, I was practically itching with excitement for the first attraction of the day. When we reached the bridge to Africa, a Cast Member in safari gear approached us and started a casual conversation with us. She commented that she liked my Lion King shirt, congratulated us on our anniversary, asked us if we were having a good day so far, questioned how many were in our group, etc. This is when I probably should have caught on, but most Cast Members are so friendly that I thought nothing of it.As we approached the entrance for the line, she said, “Okay, everyone’s going to go that way, and you’re going to follow me down the FASTPASS Line”. I obviously wasn’t going to argue with that, so off we went! Barely containing my excitement, I looked up at my husband and tried to signal that something special might happen. I still wasn’t sure what was transpiring and didn’t want to embarrass myself by announcing an incorrect assumption out loud in front of the lovely Cast Member. I’m pretty sure I just looked at my husband and mouthed ‘Something’s happening”. And he probably looked at me with a ‘Well, duh’ expression.Thankfully, the Cast Member didn’t keep us waiting long. She finally told us we were selected as First Family, and as such, we would get a private Kilimanjaro Safaris tour to open the park for the day. At that declaration, I’m pretty sure I squealed out of excitement to the point that the animals were probably ready to accept me as their own (or hunt me down as their next meal). Either way, we were off on our own with a driver and two Cast Members.The lioness and tail of the male lionThe male lion perched on his rockThe tour was similar to the regular Kilimanjaro Safaris expedition for the most part. However, the smallest changes made all the difference in the world. The tour guide Cast Member was able to turn sideways in her bench and talk to us face to face since she wasn’t driving. I think because of that and because we were the only two on the tour, it was much more interactive. We were encouraged to ask tons of questions and learned more about backstage things that they don’t talk about on the regular safari. True to Disney theming, the normal version of the attraction is intended to emulate a real safari experience where you see animals in their natural habitat. During our private tour, however, our guide was able to break through that barrier a little bit regarding the animals and their upkeep. It was incredibly interesting and a very unique experience.Gorillas posing for the cameraBefore we knew it, we were back at the unloading zone. We said our goodbyes (and plenty of thank you’s) before heading off to our next adventure –Pangani Forest Exploration Trail, now known as Gorilla Falls Exploration Trail. Our luck continued there too! The first Cast Member we spoke to near the gorilla habitat told us that the gorillas were on their way out and would be crossing in front of us shortly. Thanks to being First Family, we were in and out of Kilimanjaro Safaris so quickly that we got to witness some extra magic there too. Even the baby gorillas were out to play.Since returning from the trip, I’ve heard that some Animal Kingdom First Families get pictures, certificates, and even extra FastPasses. Though that was not the case for us, I still had an amazing time. I know from now on, I’ll be trying a little harder to get to Animal Kingdom and Kilimanjaro Safaris bright and early in the hopes of experiencing it all again. If it sounds like fun to you too, my tips are to arrive early, wear your celebration buttons, and dress accordingly. While I’m not sure that my Lion King shirt guaranteed us the honor, I’ll bet it didn’t hurt. And as always, stay positive. Even if you’re not selected, you’re still in for a wonderful safari experience.Have any of you had the privilege to be First Family at any of the parks? I’d love to hear about it, your attempts, or your thoughts on the whole idea of First Family in the comments below!last_img read more

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Pop-Up Disney! To End This September at Downtown Disney in Disneyland

first_imgShare This!If you haven’t visiting the Pop-Up Disney! A Mickey Celebration experience, you’ll only have through Labor Day, September 2, to be able to do it. The Downtown Disney District exhibit is a social media lover’s dream. Guests have been able to can step inside nine different imaginatively themed rooms where multi-dimensional art and vibrant, visual displays salute Disney’s most recognizable icon.Want to know what some of the rooms have in store for Guests? In the Mickey at Disneyland room, Guests can share how much Mickey means to the Disneyland Resort, even getting a photo inside an 8-foot-tall Mickey balloon. In the Mickey Around the World room, you can see how Mickey is loved in different countries. The Forever Mickey Room allows Guests to reflect on what Mickey means to them thanks to a mirrored hallway. Finally, in the most social media move ever, you’ll also want to get your photo taken with the large polka dot bow sofa couch.The cost is $30 Monday to Thursday before 4 p.m. and $38 on evenings (after 4:00 p.m.) and weekends. The full experience takes approximately 1.5 hoursBook your reservation to visit the Pop-Up Disney experience here before your time runs out!last_img read more

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Game makes saving energy cool

first_imgEskom electricity pylons march across thelandscape in KwaZulu-Natal. The gameSave It! is part of the government’snational energy efficiency campaign,launched in 2008.(Image: Graeme Williams,MediaClubSouthAfrica.com. For more freephotos, visit the image library)MEDIA CONTACTS • Bheki KhumaloHead of Communications, Dep’t of Energy+27 12 679 9037 or +27 82 773 2388• Laura HallamInternational Brand Manager and PR, MXit+27 21 888 7024 or +27 84 575 5127 USEFUL LINKS• Department of Minerals and Energy• Save It! – energy efficiency campaign• MXit• AirgamesJanine ErasmusSouth African children are learning early about the benefits of saving electricity, and having fun at the same time, thanks to a new internet- and mobile-based game distributed and promoted by the national Department of Energy.Save It! – which teaches children about energy efficiency in the home – was launched by Minister of Energy Dipuo Peters at the Tygerkloof Combined School in Vryburg, North West province, during August 2009.The game, designed and developed by Johannesburg-based Airgames, is part of government’s national energy efficiency campaign implemented in 2008 to deal with energy supply problems in the wake of the power crisis of late 2007 and early 2008.The campaign centres on energy demand management, which is driven by national power utility Eskom and seeks to influence the pattern of end-usage, thereby helping consumers to use their energy more efficiently and save costs.Pushing their buttonsThe energy department has taken the logical step of reaching out to youngsters on a platform they can easily access and relate to – gaming and social media.At the Vryburg launch Peters said her department was excited with the development, as it used new media to connect with today’s techno-savvy generation.“Reaching the hearts and minds of South Africans starts with reaching the youth,” she said. “We hope that they will take what they have learnt into their homes, their schools and, ultimately, into the future.”Young gamers can play Save It! on their mobile phones or computers. A web browser is all that’s needed for the computer. On phones, users must first install the MXit instant messaging and chat application – although given MXit’s popularity among South African teenagers, chances are good they will have it already.MXit was developed in South Africa and is now used in over 120 countries around the world. It currently has over 14-million users, most of them in South Africa. With 25 000 users signing up every day, MXit is one of the largest mobile communities in the world.MXit is keen to demonstrate its usefulness as more than just a chat room and messaging service. The company has come in for some criticism especially with regard to the safety of its young users, but has recently made a number of improvements, such as implementing stricter rules with regard to personal behaviour, profanity filers and moderation in chat rooms, and a facility that enables users to ban others they consider troublesome.MXit also actively engages with schoolchildren to raise their awareness of staying safe online.Media analyst Arthur Goldstuck applauded the Save It! idea, but added the department was missing out on a large portion of its target audience because primary schoolchildren do not use MXit as extensively as their high school fellows.“The initiative is visionary in that it tries to talk to children where they are, rather than trying to attract them to a government portal, which would seem an alien environment to them,” Goldstuck said.Superhero teamIn the game children play as one of three superheroes – Captain Watt and his trusty sidekicks Dyna-Mo and Miss X-Static – to fight against the evil Energy Guzzler, the monster that is using all the electricity in their homes. Their mission is to save as much electricity as they can in the home while outmanoeuvring the wasteful Guzzler, who is bent on undoing the hard work.After each action, for example, switching off a light, players get a pop-up explanation of the benefit to the environment and the electricity bill. In this way the eco-friendly message is reinforced. At the end of the game they can submit their score via e-mail and compare themselves with other players.Save It! is available as a free download through MXit Tradepost, the application’s e-commerce section. Users can also play online for free on the national energy efficiency campaign’s website.Do you have queries or comments about this article? Contact Janine Erasmus at janinee@mediaclubsouthafrica.com.last_img read more

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The Increasing Demand for Flexible Work Arrangements

first_imgWorkplace learning, customized workflex, mentorship, a positive work culture, and employee-based innovation are just a few of the exciting workforce trends becoming a reality for employees.  Learn more about the 2018 When Work Works (WWW) Award winners here. When I attended a meeting recently at an offsite location, the office suite was an aesthetic experience in itself. I was lucky to get a quick office tour after the meeting ended and I couldn’t help but appreciate everything I saw— from the wall art to the spacious kitchen area, the plants, the workstations, and the scenic views from the large conference rooms. In one word, it was spectacular! However, I noticed that the office was almost empty. Out of curiosity, I asked where everyone was, and I learned that most of the employees either telecommute or have customized work hours.One of the HR predictions of workplace changes for 2018 was an increased demand for flexible work arrangements. The 2018 Mercer Global Talent Trends study identified five top talent trends: Change at Speed, Working with Purpose, Permanent Flexibility, Platform for Talent, and Digital from the Inside Out.Mercer’s survey involved over 5,000 employees, 1,800 HR professionals, 800 business executives and 50 board directors from 44 countries and 21 industries. Based on this study, 51 percent of all employees want their companies to offer more flexible work options. Employees want work arrangements that give them control over their personal and professional lives.In my experience, I know that executives raise concerns about the empty offices we find these days. However, I have also learned that the increased demand for flexible work options is causing business leaders to shift their focus from where, how, or when work is done to a focus on performance and output.With this shift to work flexibility, HR professionals are undoubtedly tasked with the responsibility of implementing or redesigning policies that support flexible work arrangements for employees, are equitable, and ensure that performance goals are met.What are you doing to provide more flexibility for your employees? Please join me on December 12 at 3:00 p.m. ET for a #Nextchat on creating an award-winning workflex program for your organization.  Stay tuned to the SHRM blog for the preview!last_img read more

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Cutting Congestion in Our Smart Cities

first_imgThis is the third installment (#3 of 4) of the – Smart Cities Tech Innovation SeriesClick here to view: blog #4To view more posts within the series click here: Smart Cities SeriesOne of the most visible results of a growing urban population is an increased congestion of traffic jams.  This affects not just our ability to go about our business, but also the quality of air that we breathe.  In my next post in this blog series, I will discuss Intel’s work to help improve air quality.  Today, I’d like to focus on smart transport.More than half of the world’s population lives in cities, and the number is growing.  It’s predicted that by 2025, 37 so-called megacities around the world will have a population of more than 10 million. As the number of city dwellers continues to rise, so does the number of vehicles.  It is this reason that congestion is becoming a bigger issue in our cities that are ill-prepared for such volume growth.  For example, the journey to work can now last hours – in Sao Paolo some commuters are resorting to helicopters to get around!Cities are beginning to take action to tackle this growing congestion problem.  With the ever-evolving innovations in technology, new opportunities and solutions are presented all the time. For instance, by combining existing infrastructure with smart sensors and Intel® Gateway Solutions for the Internet of Things (IoT), a city’s roadway system can be completely transformed – traffic control centers can gather useful data and get a view of how the whole transport system is working in order to improve efficiency.While traffic jams can cause inconveniences for everyday commuters, it can also cause critical delays for emergency response teams.  Intel is working with city partners to develop an end-to-end smart transport system that uses real-time data to calculate the fastest route for emergency services.  Through this system, vehicle-to-vehicle communications can be connected to sensors that monitor congestion levels.  With this integration, alert messages can be triggered to update a central management system. The “Intel Freeway to the Future” survey found that, if a smart transport system such as this was built, 59% of Americans would opt-in to a city program to have a sensor fitted in their car.Planning sustainable traffic systems is an important part of the long-term initiatives Intel has developed within cities like San Jose, California. By bringing together the technological building blocks that make up the Internet of Things, Intel is helping the city improve infrastructure.  The aim in the next 40 years is to reduce the total miles travelled in the city by 40 percent while creating 25,000 new clean-tech jobs. This project has been recognized by the White House as an integral part of the Smart America initiative.  Other public-private collaborations involving smart cities and Intel – like the ongoing project in Dublin, Ireland – have also been noticed.There are countless potential applications for this technology that can enhance the lives of city people.  One possibility could include an intelligent routing system for school buses so that parents can track the bus to ensure that their kids are traveling safely and on schedule.  Other opportunities exist within the idea of building a smart transport system that connects different services.  Suppose a ferry is running late, this smart transport system could alert local buses to arrive later for a smooth travelling connection.For those of us who can’t afford helicopter rides to and from work, Intel’s smart city initiatives are driving sustainable, effective solutions to meet the challenges of rising congestion levels in the city.To continue the conversation, let’s connect on Twitter @DawnOlsenOpens in a new windowDawn OlsenGlobal Sales DirectorGovernment Enterprise, IntelThis is the third installment (#3 of 4) of the – Smart Cities Tech Innovation Series.Click here to view: blog #4To view more posts within the series click here: Smart Cities Serieslast_img read more

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Victolero praises Ginebra’s defense in Magnolia loss

first_imgMRT 7 on track for partial opening in 2021 Jordan delivers on promise: 2 Cobra choppers now in PH “I give credit to Ginebra because they played a very good defense, especially when they gave us low percentage shots,” said Magnolia coach Chito Victolero of his team’s struggles against the reigning 2017 PBA Governors’ Cup champions.Ginebra didn’t look like it missed a beat from its championship run, limiting Magnolia to 36 percent shooting from the field and a paltry 18 percent clip from threes.FEATURED STORIESSPORTSSEA Games: Biñan football stadium stands out in preparedness, completionSPORTSBoxers Pacquiao, Petecio torchbearers for SEA Games openingSPORTSPrivate companies step in to help SEA Games hosting“We had tough shots and they weren’t going in. We can’t convert,” lamented Victolero in his team’s second outing this 2018 PBA Philippine Cup.In contrast, the Gin Kings had their way as they shot 44 percent from the field, with the tandem of Greg Slaughter and Japeth Aguilar making a living down low as they scored 32 of the team’s 46 points in the paint. Don’t miss out on the latest news and information. Ethel Booba on hotel’s clarification that ‘kikiam’ is ‘chicken sausage’: ‘Kung di pa pansinin, baka isipin nila ok lang’ Robredo: True leaders perform well despite having ‘uninspiring’ boss PLAY LIST 02:49Robredo: True leaders perform well despite having ‘uninspiring’ boss02:42PH underwater hockey team aims to make waves in SEA Games01:44Philippines marks anniversary of massacre with calls for justice01:19Fire erupts in Barangay Tatalon in Quezon City01:07Trump talks impeachment while meeting NCAA athletes02:49World-class track facilities installed at NCC for SEA Games Malditas save PH from shutout Hotel says PH coach apologized for ‘kikiam for breakfast’ claim Tenorio says Ginebra can’t be satisfied with win over Magnolia MOST READcenter_img After 30 years, Johnlu Koa still doing ‘hard-to-make’ quality breads ‘A complete lie:’ Drilon refutes ‘blabbermouth’ Salo’s claims The Fatted Calf and Ayutthaya: New restos worth the drive to Tagaytay “We allowed them to shoot 56 percent from two-points, and most of those were in the paint with Slaughter and Japeth. We had a hard time defending those two big guys and that’s the story of the game,” he said.Despite the defeat, Victolero could still draw positives from this game, especially with Ian Sangalang notching a career-best 25 points on top of 11 rebounds in the loss.“Ian has always been consistent for us since the last conference. I think he can still improve on a lot because he’s just 26 years old,” he said.Victolero sees the long break as a chance for the Hotshots to go back to basics and allow the injured players to heal up as they still await the full recovery of Paul Lee and Marc Pingris, as well as the return of Jio Jalalon and Rafi Reavis to their lineup.“At least, we have a long break to improve on the aspects of our game that we need to improve on. One loss won’t break our conference and I told them that these things happen,” he said.ADVERTISEMENT LATEST STORIES “Luckily for us, we have the time to wait for the other guys to be 100 percent. We’ll wait for Ping, Rafi, and Jio, and also with Paul because I want to see this team as a complete unit and what we can do with a complete lineup. Hopefully, by January they’ll be with us and let’s see how far we can go.”Magnolia’s next game is slated on January 10 against Kia.Sports Related Videospowered by AdSparcRead Next Photo by Tristan Tamayo/ INQUIRER.netBOCAUE — Defense wins championships.Unfortunately for Magnolia, it’s the same title-tested Ginebra defense which doomed the Hotshots in their Christmas Clasico clash at Philippine Arena on Monday.ADVERTISEMENT View commentslast_img read more

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Banned Neymar out of Copa America

first_imgBrazil’s Neymar has been banned for four matches after being sent off at the Copa America and will play no further part in the tournament, the South American football federation CONMEBOL said on Friday.The striker was dismissed at the end of Brazil’s defeat by Colombia on Wednesday for his part in a fracas after the final whistle. CONMEBOL said in a statement it had suspended him as a consequence of his dismissal and incidents after?? the match at Santiago’s Monumental Stadium.Chilean referee Enrique Osses said in his report of the match that Neymar had waited for him in the tunnel and insulted him as he headed for the dressing rooms.CONMEBOL, which also fined the player $10,000, said Brazil had the right to appeal. The South Americans have one remaining group match, against Venezuela on Sunday and could then face three knockout matches if they reach the final. Neymar was central to the fracas at Monumental Stadium two days ago. After the final whistle he kicked the ball hard at an opponent. Colombia reacted angrily and almost every player on the pitch was involved in pushing and shoving.Colombia’s Carlos Bacca was also shown a red card and had been suspended for two matches, CONMEBOL said. Neymars absence will be a huge loss not just for Brazil but for the entire tournament. Along with Argentinas Lionel Messi, he is the biggest name.He inspired Brazil to victory over Peru in their first Copa game before being frustrated by the Colombians in a tetchy re-run of their World Cup quarterfinal last year. Neymar was taken off the ground on a stretcher with a broken vertebrae after a clumsy challenge by Colombia defender Juan Zuniga and in his absence, Brazil lost their semi-final 7-1 to Germany.advertisementlast_img read more

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