Saturday, 1 December 2018

My Disney World Trip VOP Project - VOC Rides and Shows (Part 4 of 4)

VOC or Voice of the Customer is the term used to describe the stated and unstated needs or requirements of the customer.  The objectives of a project depend on what the customers requirements are.  In this case the customer are my kids, my main stakeholder and project sponsor is my husband.  All of their “voices” need to be heard. Before the trip, I asked my children what rides they wanted to do, shows they wanted to see or even characters to meet.  Since they are all in tweens and teens, their memory of the Disney Channel days is dim so we had to watch the Disney movies again so they will be familiar with the stories and characters.   Our trip went well, based on the three constraints (cost, time, energy) although not 100% in the scope were done.  


Liked Best


It took a while before I can complete this post (this is part 4 – previous parts link above)

because my kids just handed me their feedback today, 2 weeks after the trip.  Well, they said it was hard to choose their favorite rides, attractions and shows from all the 4 parks. I only asked 5 from each park and rank per level of likeness (ranked by all 5). Here is the verdict:

Magic Kingdom

  1. RANK #3 Splash Mountain - they remembered that 50-ft drop
  2. Space Mountain – the dark rollercoaster ride that really scared me
  3. Big Thunder Mountain – the drops and fast turns were exciting
  4. Pirates of Caribbean – they liked all the animatronics rides but this one stood out
  5. Seven Dwarfs Mine Train – the kids were not thrilled anymore after experiencing all the mountains, but they all liked it anyway
  6. Astro Blasters – shooting is our favorite
  7. Monsters – “we were already laughing but Mom is still staring at the screen” (slow or couldn’t get the joke, or just needs to be ready to be focused on camera LOL)

Hollywood Studios

  1. Fantasmic Show – because this is included in a dining package at Hollywood and Vine, we were in a good spot and walked in a VIP lane
  2. Star Tours
  3. Toy Story Mania
  4. Indiana Jones
  5. RANK #4 Jedi Training and meeting all the Star Wars Characters

EPCOT

  1. RANK #2 Soarin
  2. RANK #5 Mission Space
  3. Test Track
  4. Frozen – only Mom liked it. This is where Alexus asked, “How come this is called Fastpass lane when the line is slow?” he was so loud that the cast members heard it to say this is a popular ride and new.

Animal Kingdom

  1. RANK #1 Avatar’s Flight of Passage
  2. Kali Rapids
  3. Festival of Lion King

I used Fastpass to book most of these rides and shows but for some of them we rope drop or line up as soon as we arrive.  Definitely, FOP, Slinky Dog, Soarin, Test Track and all roller coasters for me are worth the fastpasses.  Shows and meet and greets, you can rope drop or wait for  low wait times.  I’ve observed that during lunch time and when there is a parade, the wait times are lower so check MDE app often.

Liked least

In as much as I liked meeting the characters up close and have a photo with them, the kids didn’t like it.  We lined up for Cinderella and Elena meet n greet near the Castle because it says on the My Disney app that it only takes 10 minutes to wait but it ended up 60 minutes. Of course, my Alexus complained. “Why are we lining up this long?” “Can we not use a Fastpass for this?” “Who is this character we are meeting?”  Meeting Star Wars characters was a different story.  The kids didn’t mind waiting and the area where we are standing in queue are all decorated with Star War’s elements and Storm troopers are walking around so I think it kept them interested.

What would you do better or try next time?

The following are the rides that we really liked but were not able to go to. We either missed it during our FP schedule (we are only given a 1-hour window), we didn’t get a FP reservation (all schedules were taken) or it broke down while we were already lining up:

  1. Slinky Dog – Hollywood Studios
  2. Rock n Roller starring Aerosmith – Hollywood Studios
  3. Everest – Animal Kingdom
  4. Navi River – Animal Kingdom
  5. Mission Space (Mars) – EPCOT
  6. Tower of Terror – Hollywood Studios
  7. Beauty and the Beast live – Hollywood Studios
  8. Dinosaur – Animal Kingdom
  9. Illuminations – EPCOT
  10. Watch the March of the First Order in full – Hollywood Studios

Notice we missed rides and attractions at Holllywood Studios because of too much time waiting in line to meet and greet Kylo Ren, BB-8 and Chewbacca.  This means that there is a need to go back after the Star Wars Land is completed and more rides are available.  I hope the Project Sponsor /CFO will agree to the Phase 2 of the Project LOL!

Meet and Greets to do

Because the kids didn’t like to wait in line for the meet and greets, the next time will need to include character breakfasts or dinners to meet them and get more personal interaction.  Dining plan is a must in the next trip because each character dining will make you fall off your chair after seeing the bill. This is something for the CFO to consider.  

  1. Winnie the Pooh and Friends – Crystal Palace
  2. Cinderella’s 2 sisters – Back of the Castle
  3. Princess Jasmine and Aladdin – Morocco
  4. Mulan - China
  5. Belle and Beast – book dinner at Be our Guest
  6. Rapunzel and Flynn Rider – Trattoria Al Forno
  7. Ariel and Prince Eric – Trattoria Al Forno
  8. Or dinner at Akershus to meet all Princesses – I hope he agrees because he liked the encounter with Cinderella– kinikilig pa nga eh hahaha

Overall, I would say since the kids enjoyed and were happy, we are all happy – project was successful.  Our experience was not the same as how younger kids would describe it. Yes, we can call it fantasy land but we have a more mature outlook now that the kids have grown. There is a certain experience that I couldn’t put in words but earns my respect and admiration for Disney.  All the theming, processes, planning, communication geared towards ultimate customer satisfaction.  Service was impeccable – every cast member is knowledgeable, helpful and ensured that we are safe, informed, satisfied, served right.  One of my sons who has an entrepreneurial spirit told me that “Disney is very good Mom, all the shops are in the right locations – after each popular ride to keep the guests buying stuff. I wonder how much Disney earns daily.” The Disneyworld experience is an eye opener for us. I know we already tried our best to make it memorable and maximized our investments, but we gained more. The Innovations stirred our creative minds, new plans and upcoming attractions we saw opened our eyes to how vast and endless possibilities there are.  Disney gave us insights more than the fantasy.  Magical if you would say, yes, we had a Magical Disney Experience.


We thank the Lord for this answered prayer.


 



Wednesday, 21 November 2018

My Disney World Trip VOP Project - Saving Time and Energy (Part 3 of 4)


I like planning. It's my second nature. A carefully planned and organized strategy is needed to accomplish the specific objectives. For this project, we wanted to enjoy the trip, to try and experience most if not all the activities or attractions that Disney can offer.  I know there are people who will just go with their instincts without any plans at all, I don't see anything wrong with that but it's not just my thing.  Even with little plan, I believe I'm going to achieve my objectives.

Human factor
Like any DMAIC projects, the only way to ensure that your plans will work is if you have all the stakeholders informed and aligned to the plans for the day. No room for tantrums, or other plans. Their own preferred rides need to be told and included during the planning stage. Our Epcot day was the only day our 2 families got separated because Carlisle didn't feel like going to the park that day but he decided going later but that meant they were behind us for an hour and we didn't see each other at any of the rides. The good thing is, they were able to go back and repeat the rides they liked and enjoyed them. VOC is important.

Other essentials - people thirst, get hungry, get tired or grumpy. You need to stop once in a while and let the kids and adults drink water, have some snacks and rest for a bit. This is the perfect time to go to no lines, stationary rides like people mover or the trains or watch shows or hang around gift shops to take a breather so that energy levels go up again. The magic bands shown above are your personal link to all Disney related stuff, your room key, your entrance ticket, your fast pass, your photo pass ticket, sometimes it works like wallet too so ensure that these bands are always on your wrist and your children's. By the way, they always think that they are doing a fast pass when the magic band is scanned.

TIME and ENERGY constraints
Saving time is linked to saving energy and motion. If you noticed in my previous post, my plan started with the rides, the fast passes and getting around the Magic Kingdom park per area (in one direction). The intent is to always save time and energy.

Hotel room location
If you can, try to request for the room near the lobby, the food court or the bus station.  Some resort complexes are so big that if your room is located at the far end, you will need more time to reach your room or the bus stops. I saw families with young children and I could feel their frustration when these children who are tired becomes grumpy or will cry a lot on the Bus and on the way to the hotel room - the farther the room, the longer the agony.  The farther room locations I saw were Little mermaid building of Art of Animation and 90's building of Pop Century resorts.  These 2 resorts have buses directly coming from and going to these destinations so guests have an advantage. All-star hotels share the buses so they will need to pick up and drop off guests from all the 3 all star hotels. That is something you need to consider when choosing the Disney hotel you're staying at. These are the value resorts I'm referring to, there are other moderate or high end resorts where waiting is minimal, but the cost is more. The choice is yours.

Matching shirts have advantages
It is easier for us or any family member to see who is missing or how to catch up when we know what they are wearing. Wendy and family wore bright coloured matching shirts so we see them easily if someone got lost in the crowd. Another way that worked was when Alexus had to go to the washroom and they had to leave the line, they were able to spot us right away when they returned because of the matching shirts that Wendy and family wore that day. They also look good in pictures.

"Why do we have to line up everywhere?"
My youngest Alexus is very expressive of his thoughts. These were his comments each time we line up for something. It starts from the bus stop at the hotel, then at the security check, entrance at the park, before you pose for photo pass, meet a character, watch a show, order food, ride or even a fast pass ride. He even told a cast member that the line was not supposed to be called a fast pass because it is slow.

Waiting game strategies:
1. At the Bus stop leaving the hotel - wake up early, eat breakfast at your room or eat the sandwiches while lining up. Check the park opening hours. The objective is to get on the bus early so you could "rope drop" and go to the ride you didn't save fast pass for without waiting that much.


2. Security check- do not bring too much, a back pack should be enough. There should be only one person per family lining up at security and those without bags can go through the line and go straight ahead the park entrance. They can go to their first ride or character meet and greet while those who went thru the security check catch up with them.


3. Watch a show - always check the show times on the app and just line up on stand by lane at least 5-10 before the show starts. Everyone will be able to sit just make sure that your party are on the same line.


4. Order food thru the mobile order app. - you will be able to see the food on the menu, click and order then wait for your notification while sitting at your table. You will only need to be at the counter when the food is ready for pick up.


5. Ride- try the single rider so you don't have to line up as a group. Sometimes if the line is short you are allowed to repeat the ride to fill up the space, we did this on the Kali Rapids ride. While waiting at the stand by line plan for your next ride, use the app for the wait times, have a back up in case the ride breaks down or the weather acts up.


6. Take advantage of "Extra Magic Hours". Guests are given extra hours to get into the park and avail of shorter lines. We were able to do this and finish all the rides at EPCOT before entering the Pavilion and complete the 11 countries visit in no time. We arrived early before 8:00 am and was able to leave the park at 4:00 pm completing everything we planned for the day. With the extra hours, the kids were able to go swimming at the hotel pool. You could also use that extra time to do hotel activities like scavenger hunt, watch movies outdoors, do s'mores, check out Christmas decorations at fancy hotels by resort hopping or joining activities at other resorts. When we went to Polynesian they have a great show - activity for kids. That gave us time to explore the high-end resorts and ride the monorail gong to Contemporary, Polynesian and Grand Floridian hotels.  This is also an opportunity to go to Disney Springs if you haven't included it in your plan to do some shopping or eat  there.

Of course, you and your family would want to spend more time together in your rooms and hang out while resting your tired feet and review how the day went to repeat the good and forget the bad. It's fun to reminisce the reaction to the rides, shows and character meetings while mumbling on your favourite snacks and watching TV. At the end of the day, you will realize that you maximized the time and enjoyed most of Disney, getting ready for another fun-filled day.


My Disney World Trip VOP Project - FASTPASS (Part 2 of 4)

Before I continue the part 2 of my Disney World Travel Story,  I will share some of the Lean terminologies and how I was able to apply these to the project. The word "value" is familiar to you, you want to get the most value for the money you spend, the time and effort you exerted. We live by these principles and my kids know that whatever we do, we get something of "value" out of it. VOP or Value Optimization Project is a term we use in the workplace for all the Lean Six Sigma projects we are doing. Going to Disney is a VOP that is why in my first blog post, the title included Project.  I don't think this will end up completing the DMAIC (Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve and Control ) cycle but you will get the picture when in one way or another you will see the phases in each scenario.  The intent is for you to understand that not only in this trip but in any situation, you can do process analysis, continuously improve and achieve results.  

2. TIME CONSTRAINT

Today, I'm going to talk about FASTPASS, some ride description and what to do (and not to do) at the parks to save time.

Wastes and how to prevent them

I hope you are already familiar with the 7 types of wastes .  The types of wastes we encountered the most in our trip were: Inventory, Motion and Waiting.  

Inventory (COST) - the food servings are huge. On our first night,  our dinner orders came with fries and for the leftovers from all the 3 children combined, I think there was a big platter of fries. To think, they were fries eaters. We couldn't finish them because Lito and I ordered adult entrees which we couldn't finish either.  Maybe we are really small eaters but I think the food leftovers are a huge waste.  It could have fed more children with those fries. Sayang talaga.  So in the following days, either I ordered a kids meal for myself or Lito and I shared an adult entree.  

Motion (TIME, ENERGY) - before we go to each park, I make it a point to study the map and review the plan for the rides or attractions we are going to do. We don't want to end up doing a Spaghetti Diagram (right picture) as there will be lots of Motion waste. 

One of the perks of staying inside the Disney World hotel is the FASTPASS reservation for popular rides 60 days before the trip.  If you are staying outside WDW, you are also given a fastpass opportunity but only 30 days before.  Imagine I already have made plans for the parks and the rides we are going to 60 days before.  The timing, duration and wait times on the Fastpass ride and the next rides need to be considered.  

Fastpass Tip #1 - Make your last day the Animal Kingdom Park day, and Second to last day is Hollywood Studios Park day.  Why?  Because the most popular and difficult to reserve (if you are on wrong timing) rides are from these parks.  Avatar's Flight of Passage (FOP) in Animal Kingdom and Toy Story Slinky Dog in Hollywood Studios are too popular (and probably still new) that even if they don't have a Fastpass reservation, people will still line up for it (yes, we saw people on stand by lines with wait times of 160 minutes)  I will discuss other rides worth your Fastpasses in another paragraph but for now I will focus on these 2.

When your Fastpass Day arrives, you should have a list of the rides in each park and the timing (AM or PM) handy.  There will be more chances of you getting the Fastpass if you start on your last day then backwards because not all reserving for Fastpasses will even have that park in that day in their list.  Example:  We went to 5 parks during our trip (November 12-16).  My Fastpass day was September 13. On that day, I was to reserve for all the days during my trip. People usually think that they need to start Fastpass reservation on their first park day when in reality they can start with any day. I am saying to focus on the last day because not all have that day in their plan. Some people will only have 3 park days, some 2 and so on and so forth.  So start with your last day and choose Avatar's Flight of Passage right away.  If you have small children, you need to consider height restrictions (should be 44 inches tall) because this is a single ride or choose among you who will watch over the kids while you are taking this ride which is a must by the way :) This is highly recommended and our family's favourite, one of my kids even said, "This ride beats them all". I hope you take my word for it.  Do the same with Toy Story Slinky Dog.  We didn't get a FP for this ride because there was nothing available on our Fastpass day and we can only choose 1 FP from Toy Story land.  We waited in Stand By line but the wait time was 90 minutes but eventually we did not get the chance because the ride broke down. Have a back up plan when ride breakdowns happen.

Fastpass Tip #2 - Choose between Rides, Shows or Character Meet and Greets.  Because our family already agreed that we will all do roller coaster rides, my Fastpass list consisted all the Mountain Rides at Magic Kingdom, and all other roller coaster rides from other parks.  Character Meet and Greets also take up most of your time and getting good seats in shows like Fantasmic merit a FastPass for those who are not into thrill rides.     

Fastpass Tip #3 - Choose all the morning fastpass schedule, if you can, select the rides that are close to each other so you can prevent spaghetti diagram, finish right away and you can add more Fastpass after you finish all 3.  You are only given 3 FP in a day but if you finish them all, you can get another one after you entered in the last one, then you can get another one again and so on.  Example: Magic Kingdom - We had our Big Thunder Mountain Roller Coaster Fast Pass ride after Splash Mountain which are both located in the same area - Frontierland and were able to finish right away, had more time to find a good spot in watching the parade between Frontierland and Adventureland. At Epcot - Fastpass at Mission Space and Test Track, Magic Kingdom Day 2 - choose Space Mountain and Tomorrowland Speedway.  These are only examples, you can choose based on what your family prefers.

After you completed all your Fastpass reservations, the next thing you should plan is where are you going next after each Fastpass ride.  Look at the Magic Kingdom map below:



Depending on where your Fastpass ride is, you should focus on that area. Example; Seven Dwarfs Mine Train is at Fantasyland where you want to go next is probably the next attraction with the least wait time in that area (use the My Disney Experience app for this). To prevent Spaghetti diagram, just go One Direction - remember the boy band? LOL.  Our last stop at Fantasyland was the Barnstormer roller coaster ride which was near the Train Station (see arrow). We took the train going to Frontierland which was on the other side. This saved us time and restored our energy while resting our feet from walking.

You can find other touring plans on the internet, on Pinterest, and from other Disney frequent visitors.  I actually checked them out but I created my own because I really want to save on energy and time (remember our Time and Energy constraint?). Below was our touring plan for the Magic Kingdom park Days.  The arrows indicate which way we are supposed to go to reach our destination. The check and cross marks are based on priority or if it was a Must-do or can-be-skipped activity:


 


In the next blog post, I will discuss some waiting game strategies and how we tried our best to avoid waiting (there is always waiting in line at Walt Disney World).  More on the ENERGY / EFFORT Constraint. Stay Tuned. Meanwhile, @ Animal Kingdom


Sunday, 18 November 2018

My Disney World Trip VOP Project - Cost (Part 1 of 4)

WHAT: Our Walt Disney World Trip in Orlando, Florida
WHEN: November 11-17, 2018
WHERE we stayed: POP Century Resort
WHO: Castillo and Ordaz Families

WHY: It's Mickey's 90th birthday, my 50th birthday and Alexus' 10th birthday and our 20th wedding anniversary celebration all in one and we all deserve an amazing vacation.

I will share our Disney experience in the context of Project Management and Lean Six Sigma concepts. Based on my notes from University of Toronto, a project is a temporary endeavour undertaken to create a product or service. For this blog post, the product will be the outcome of the trip. Now in order for a project to be successful, it has to be within the three constraints; COST, TIME and SCOPE but I will replace the last constraint with energy or effort as it is more applicable to this project.


1. COST CONSTRAINT
When you hear Disney, you know it is expensive. The biggest constraint for us is cost and I guess to most of you. This is my way to help those who are hesitant to go because of the cost. The Walt Disney World experience is expensive but still possible for those with less budget if you plan and organize well.



Rooms
Timing is important. Plan ahead, use the crowd calendar to see when is the least crowded and book those dates because that is when the value resorts are least expensive. There are lots of infographic images on Disney calendar at Pinterest. I used one and the room rates are cheaper but the crowd volume is still the same. I think there are no less crowded dates at the parks. Disney Value resorts are Art of Animation, Pop Century, All-Star Movies, All-Star Sports, All-Star Music and The Campsites at Fort a Wilderness Resort. Last week of August, January, February and hurricane season are less crowded. Get the Magic Your Way Package (Park Tickets, Room and Dining plan). There are offers for free dining and room discounts on certain dates. After you decide on a date and booked the MYWP and an offer like free dining or room discounts becomes available, Disney will apply that to your package. You can call Disney and ask an authorized Disney Travel Agent to assist you on these. One of the perks of getting the MYWP is the bounce back offer where a unique discounted rate for booking a resort room is available to resort guests currently staying for future dates.

Offsite hotels - I only mentioned about staying onsite because of the many benefits in staying with Disney hotels. Free airport transfers, airline checkin at the hotel for some US airlines, faster access to the parks - this is a perk for time constraint which I will discuss later but most especially the Disney theming in the rooms and the total Disney experience. There is a certain vibe when you are onsite, the smell, the theming, the personalized approach and ultimate service from Disney staff.  The hotels near WDW are okay, some of them have Disney themed rooms and free shuttles to Disney Springs, this is where the terminal of  buses going to the parks are located. The prices are cheaper all right but you have to check the fees.  When I was looking for hotels offsite, I discovered that most of them charge resort fees per day. This adds up to your hotel cost, the total would be more than the price of a value resort room per night. Cost and time going to the parks are cons of staying offsite. These made me choose to stay onsite. At the end of the day, we are only going to sleep there anyway.

By the way, we opted to remove housekeeping for the duration of our stay. That meant $10 per day per room. The replenishment of supplies will still be done, just call and request for towels, soaps or coffee. Because we had 2 connecting rooms for a family of 5, we received $100 worth of gift cards that we can use to buy souvenirs or even pay for food. All we did was took out trash and let the kids continue doing their chores of tidying up and making up their beds.

If you still choose to stay offsite, the hotels near Disney Springs are my best bet and also those near the entrances. For the villas or houses for rent with pools by VRBO, those from Windsor Hills are highly recommended by those who stayed from my Canadian Disney Addicts group.


Park tickets
The more park tickets per day you buy, the cheaper the cost. There are four parks and 2 water parks at Walt Disney World. You can also buy a park hopper where you can do 2 parks per day.  Depending on your family's preferences, you can choose to do whatever suit your needs. We are first timers in WDW that's why we chose to do 1 park per day and a 2nd day at Magic Kingdom.  We also availed the Canadian Residents Ticket offer, so watch out for that kind of deals. But you cannot convert it to Magic your way package, you can only choose one offer. You can also buy cheaper tickets at mousesavers.com or AAA/CAA.

Dining
Food is important because you need energy to do all those walking, standing in line, and waiting. But everything in Disney is expensive including food.  Because my kids are picky eaters and we didn't have MYWP, we decided not to include the dining plan and just pay as we go. We only had 2 Advanced Dining Reservations (ADR) Hoop De Doo Revue (Dinner Show) and Minnie's Holiday Dine at Hollywood and Vine (Buffet with character experience and reserve seating at Fantasmic Show). ADRs are one of the perks of staying onsite. You and your family are given priority to reserve for Table Service Restaurants 180 days before your trip.  I would say the first ADR was amazing and we got the value for money. I felt like our date was perfect except for very late showing and arriving late to our hotel.  The other ADR was just okay because of the character experience and Fantasmic show reserve seating. But when we think of what we paid for and compared it to the food that our kids ate at the buffet, the cost was too much for only chicken nuggets and fried chicken and ice cream that the kids consumed. Halos mahulog lang naman sa silya si Lito nung nakita niya ang bill, ano daw yun? yung tipong me usok sa tenga after the 2nd and 3rd look hahaha, even I myself couldn't believe that the cost per person was $60, the old rate was only 48 for adult price and 36 per kid. After the price increase this October, the total cost change   We are just thinking the cost is in exchange for the long queues at meet and greet for Mickey and friends and also for the Fantasmic show. If I were you, I would just use a fast pass to do these. It was not worth it. Other than these two which took most of the pie share of our food budget,  all our other dining were from Quick service restaurants and I found them to be more sulit (value for money). I chose those that serve more filling food like rice and pasta. I also chose kids meals or Lito and I would share an adult entree because the servings are big enough for 2.  If you plan to include a dining plan either Quick Service only, or Table Service and Quick Service, the following are recommended based on our experience and my friends from the Canadian Disney Addicts group.

Quick Service Restaurants we tried and must try food list:
1. Landscape of Flavours - Art of Animation (Grilled Fish, Chicken Bowl,  Tandoori Chicken thighs)
2. Everything Pop - Pop Century (Chicken Parmesan, Pot Roast)
3. Captain Cooks -Polynesian Resort (Thai Coconut Meat balls, Asian noodles)
4. Aloha Isle - Magic Kingdom (Dole whip soft ice cream)
5. Pecos Bill - Magic Kingdom (3way tacos, fajitas, smoothie)
6. Columbia Harbour - Magic Kingdom (Lobster Roll, Seafood Platter)
7. Cosmic Ray's Starlight Cafe - Magic Kingdom
8. Gaston's Tavern - Magic Kingdom (Cinnamon Rolls)
9. ABC Commissary - Disney Hollywood Studios
10. Backlot Express - Disney Hollywood Studios
11. Satuli Canteen - Animal Kingdom (Beef Bowl with Rice, burger bun pao)
12. Eight Spoon Cafe - Animal Kingdom (Mac n Cheese with pulled pork)
13. Flame Tree Barbeque - Animal Kingdom (pulled pork burger, turkey leg)
14. Be our guest - Magic kingdom
15. Katsura Grill - Japan Epcot (teriyaki, maki rolls, green tea colada)
16. Sunshine Seasons - EPCOT (rotisserie chicken, pork loin, Mongolian beef, pasta)

Below is the summary of our food expenses, I ordered grocery (milk, eggs, ham, cheese, bread, jimmy dean frozen breakfast and snacks) online and have it delivered to the hotel lobby. There are microwave ovens at the food court for these. This saves time and money for our breakfast. Do not forget to order water bottles as each bottle at the parks cost USD3.99. You can also bring water container, fill it up with water and ice from the food court of your hotel and get a refill at quick service restaurants. Another must do to save on snacks is to buy a refillable popcorn bucket and get a refill of only $2 each time during your entire stay.


Other Essentials

Buy your Mickey Ears, Rain Ponchos, Autograph books, Souvenirs and other accessories like glow lights from a dollar store before the trip or at Walmart near WDW.  Wendy got our Mickey ears from Claire's. They cost Double or Triple at Disney, they are all made in China anyway. There are lots of matching shirts at Walmart with generic print shirts (Dad, Mom, Brother, Sister) in different colors) or you can order online too.

The weather in Florida is unpredictable and rain might appear anytime so bring the poncho, you could use that at wet rides like Kali Rapids or Splash Mountain. The cost of Poncho at Disney is $10 for a kid size.


Getting there (air or land)
I waited for Boxing Day to get a good deal. Choose the non-popular airlines, we chose Air Transat because of the price, it's nonstop and they have a good kids club where my birthday celebrator received perks. He is the reason why we doing this trip because he is celebrating 10 years. I'm happy because Alexus is happy.

Other airlines that are worth checking out are Southwest, Frontier, Spirit in US (BUF for those from ON). Airlines flying out YYZ with good deals are Air Transat, West Jet, sometimes Air Canada offers good deals, Sunwing (they have good Disney packages that are worth checking out).

More savings are in store for those who will drive down South.  You just need to plan on your vacation days, consider hours of driving, driver reliever, hotel to stay in the middle of the trip.

I hope this helps. Thanks for reading. I will discuss the next constraints "TIME" and "ENERGY /EFFORT" in my next post.

Saturday, 25 August 2018

Confidence is a choice

Many people think that the only way to be confident is to be successful.  While it is easier to believe in your abilities when you have proven success, it is not the only way to feel a sense of confidence. Confidence is a choice. It comes from choosing to focus on your strengths and knowing that you are good.  It comes from choosing to be positive with yourself.  It comes from focusing on what you need to do rather than uncontrollable, situational factors. My friend Christeen Lewis always tells me, "Focus on what you can control."   Confidence comes when you're not worrying about being the best, but focusing on being your best.  But how can I start, how will I do my best?



True source of Confidence


Most importantly, confidence comes from the Lord your God who created you, gave you the skills, knowledge and strengths.  As a consumer, are you not choosing the product based on the brand or who the maker is?  When you buy from a tested brand, you are confident that it's good quality.  What more about our Creator, we are wonderfully made. If you believe that the same God who gave you the confidence before, will do the same today, what else could go wrong?  I remember my old motto,  "I will do my best and God will do the rest".  We hold on to His promise in Proverbs 3:6 - In everything you do, put God first and He will crown your efforts with success


How can I create confidence?

 
The first step in creating confidence is Preparation.  In sports, champions are not created overnight. If you fully engage physically and mentally in practice, you will feel more prepared in competing.  Focused practices allow you to trust that you did everything you could to enable yourself to perform your best.  Even if in my mind, I know what I'm going to say for a meeting I'm facilitating or a training to deliver, I still prepare a cheat sheet, and practice many times  -in front of a mirror, in front of my kids, or record myself in a video or audio recorder to see how I can build more confidence and improve on the delivery. Do you think that the Hollywood actors or even your favorite stars can execute perfectly what the scripts say in one reading or sitting? Practice makes perfect and build confidence.


Second, it is important to Act Confidently.  Our mind reacts to what our body does.  If your head is down, your muscles are tense or your shoulders are hunched, your mind will sense your self-doubt.  So always make sure that your body language and your communication with yourself and others portrays confidence. Even when you don't feel confident, act confidently.


Finally, realize you don't need other people to tell you that you are good. Back to the athletes example, many of them wait for their coaches to tell them that they are good in order to believe in themselves.  You may want others to tell you that you are good, but it's not something you need.  Believe in yourself and believe in the One who created you and destined you to be great.  Set your mind that you have that confidence within.  Whatever your mind conceives, the body achieves.


Choose to be confident.  You have a reason to be.






Wednesday, 18 July 2018

Keep Calm I'm turning 50

Wow, how time flies. I am so thankful that I have reached this important milestone in my life - fifty years! I am a Golden girl, it's my year of jubilee.


In the Bible, the year of Jubilee occurs after seven sets of seven yearly intervals (49 total) are completed. The fiftieth or "liberty" year is proclaimed on one of God's annual feast days known as the Day of Atonement.
This fiftieth (Jubilee) year is sacred — it is a time of freedom and of celebration when everyone will receive back their original property, and slaves will return home to their families . . . If one of your brothers becomes indigent and has to sell himself to you, don't make him work as a slave. Treat him as a hired hand or a guest among you. He will work for you until the Jubilee . . . (Leviticus 25:10, 39 - 40).
As I am celebrating and blowing my trumpet for my year of jubilee, I am sharing my list of 50 blessings that I am thankful for (lifetime ito).


1. My relationship with my Lord and Saviour - Jesus Christ
2. My Papa P - Pogi - (in English  - my handsome) husband Lito and how each day is valentine's day
3. My 3 sons who are equally smart and handsome as well - Aloysius, Kyle and Lex
4. My parents - Naty and Rolando who I am indebted for my life, the good life, life lessons.
5. My siblings - Wendy and Roty and our unique relationships
6. My other siblings, nephews, nieces in the Philippines.
7. My church - Church on the Queensway who keeps us growing in the knowledge of the Lord
8. My other church family - Servants of Christ Ministries for starting our walk in the Lord in Canada
9. My challenging but rewarding career
10. My current employer - MCBC who gave me opportunities to work and travel to the following places:
11. MCBC UK - Burton on Trent, Staffordshire, UK
12. London
13. Windsor
14. Cambridge
15. Stonehenge
16. Roman Baths
17. MCBC HQ Denver, CO
18. MCBC Golden Brewery
19. Hiked and reached the top of North Table Mountain at Golden, CO
20. MCBC Montreal
21. Manor Saint Sauveur, QC
22. ADEC Innovations / AMDATEX who gave me the opportunities to work and travel to the ff:
23. Rockwall, Texas
24. Irving, Texas
25. Binghamton, Upstate New York
26. Deposit, New York
27. New York City
28. San Francisco, California
29. RFM Corporation and the exposure to IT and dealing with challenging personalities
30. SGS Philippines for the multinational environment experience and for meeting Lito there
31. SGS Far East Limited for the travel to Southeast Asia
32. For all my officemates who also became close friends and mentors until now.
33. To my old church - Lighthouse Community for introducing God to my children in their young age.
34. To all my lifelong BFFs from Grade and High School, whom I shared with all joys, pains and successes ever since.
35. To all my relatives whom I share all my childhood memories.
36.  For coming here to Canada and becoming a resident and adopting us as citizens.
37.  For letting us explore the beauty of nature in and around the corners of Ontario - falls, beaches, ostriches and beautiful lakes
38. For the travels in other cities in Canada with family and friends like:
39. Ottawa
40. Kingston
41. Old Quebec
42. Old Montreal
43. for all the other planned trips in the coming months - Money and time to do this:
44. Disneyworld Florida, Philippines plus Japan or Seoul side trips
45. for the invention of TV and letting us watch all Korea Drama and TFC series
46. for the invention of social media - like FB, IG etc. for keeping me updated and connected with friends online
47. Music and all the perks in listening to it, any genre - bring back all memories
48. The opportunity to be with, work and sometimes disagree with people. The joy of being human and learning about the different kinds of people and how to deal with them.
49. for all the wisdom and lessons in life, the errors committed to correct and have room for improvement, the capability to adapt to change
50. for the life filled with hope, faith and love that comes from something supernatural - God.


I would say I have lived the life I wanted to have, the blessings are bountiful and I believe there is more to come.  Thank you Lord for the true love, joy and peace that I believe will only come from You.


Happy birthday to me, it's time to blow the trumpet and consecrate the fiftieth year. It shall be a jubilee for me, because God owns everything, this is the year when a man's possessions would be returned to Him.  My time is His, time to give back time - volunteer work to be used for His glory.



Friday, 23 February 2018

Are you ready to die?

There are only 2 permanent things in this life - change and death, we cannot escape both.  I have written about change and managing it has become a day to day activity at work. It is challenging and inevitable.

Death on the other hand is an avoided subject. No one wants to talk about it or even prepare for it. I just realized that it's about time that I write all the thoughts that I have been setting aside because we need to be ready as death comes like a thief in the night.

Today, my sister Wendy told me a story about how her husband witnessed a car accident and how the victim's last minutes in life were spent in Carter's arms. Carter responded and gave the victim CPR to save his life until the ambulance arrived but it was not successful. He died. Wendy and I wondered about how that morning went before the accident happened, has that man spent his morning with the wife and children? Did they have a good breakfast or good conversations? Were they happy? Did they kiss the dad goodbye before they parted ways? Were the memories about his life during those last minutes all good, positive and fulfilling? What if they are not? What about you? Do you want to die in bitterness, pain or regrets?

Life is too short and it could end anytime. We are all going to die anyway so why don't we live life as if it is our last days - all positive, no regrets. What do you want to be remembered while you are here on this earth? I remember a manager officemate and our odd moments together. One time, she saw me and my other friend who is her direct report in a small cafe that only a few people know, only the managers frequent.  When she saw me and her staff, she asked “What are you two doing here?” with the look that says only ”Managers” are allowed to eat here. Dumbfounded, we stood there waiting until another manager said,”they have the money, they can eat here, so let’s go.” The first manager had a sudden death and while most of the staff were sad of her dying, I was sad in another way because she died with my last memory of her as condescending to Marlyn and me.   Do you want to be remembered like that manager?  Be joyful, hopeful, loving and forgiving, kind and helpful.  No room for negative thoughts, no mumbling, complaints, worries, fear, anger or pride.  Just live happily and at peace with our Creator. We will all come to see HIM in judgement day anyway.

Now, if you are a planner and want to prepare before that time comes, here are some ways to give you that peace of mind and also your loved ones even if you leave:

1. Purchase a life insurance - term or not, find out about your options from your insurance broker.  It is important to indicate the beneficiaries so they will not have financial problems when you leave.

2. Purchase a service that will take care of everything - viewing, casket (style, colour) funeral, cremation, cemetery, church, eulogy? etc. You don't want to leave your family the trouble of deciding about all these while they are also grieving. The cost of these services are also more expensive when you need it right away compared to pre-planned and pre-paid or lay-away.

3. Make a will. What do you want your loved ones to do when you get sick, when you are in a coma, when you get into an accident? Do you want to donate organs? Do you want to be resuscitated? Do you want them to pull the plug of the life support machines? Until when do they need to wait for you to wake up? Who decides? Who will be the custodian of your children? There are decisions to be made and  it will be easier for the family to cope if these decisions are already stated in the will.

It is important that your assets and properties are indicated in a will so that your family will not fight over those assets later on or worse, go to an estate. My friend gave me an example of what's in her will. She took photos of all her jewelries and asked her children to choose which one they would like to have when she dies. The outcome of the exercise are indicated in her will.  Now she will not worry who will get more or less because the children are the ones who chose. The same should be applied to cars, real estate properties, investments/stocks, companies. Well, more valuable assets need to be assessed and financial values / equal distribution need to be considered. 

4. Write letters to your loved ones. While most of those who are left behind will get over the loss and move on, there are a significant number especially children/teenagers who are greatly impacted and will have difficult time recovering.  Tell them your deepest thoughts in the letter and prepare them to be strong to face the situation. Words of hope and reminders of great memories will help them move on. Make birthday letters especially milestones so that they will still have your influence and memories when they turn 10's,20's,30's, etc. This is a perfect opportunity to remind them about seeking God's wisdom in making major decisions like a career, a ministry or lifetime partner, purchasing a property etc. It will be nice for them to remember or think about "What would ___ do if still alive?"

5. "Proverbs 22:6 -
Train up a child in the way he should go, And when he is old he will not depart from it.."  The perfect legacy that a parent can give to their children is showing and teaching them the way they should go. Good habits, Christian elements like going to church, reading the bible and praying are essential. They will continue doing it if it has become a natural habit. Being responsible and holding them accountable is not only taught but also shown. You prepare them and make them experience the joys and pains of doing manual work themselves and not depending on someone. You can start training them with household chores, doing menial jobs. A boy doing a girl's thing like budgeting, marketing, cooking, laundry is challenging but also rewarding. These chores are life's essentials.  The earlier they learn and do all these, the earlier they become more independent and the less pain to experience when you are gone. They also add value to their community. You don’t want the children to be a burden to others, they need to learn how to survive and move on.

6. Make memories. Travel, enjoy doing things together. The pictures that show where you've been and the special memories from that place will remind them about how you spent your time with them. It could be the many falls you experience during the first ski trip, or completing the scavenger hunt on a mountain hike or it could be a simple memory of playing a game board or a movie marathon watching together. The laughters will echo and will surely bring back the happy times.

7. Express your affection.  Do not cease saying "I love you" "I'm sorry", "Thank you, I appreciate you". Do not be embarrassed to show your affection even in public - kiss, hug, hold their hands or just look lovingly in their eyes - smile. Those moments are what you surely want to be captured in your memory and want to play back over and over again until your last breath. 

8. Get ready to face death and surrender your life to The Creator. The most important preparation- settle everything with The Lord now while you can.  Do you know that God formed us from dust and gave us life by breathing into it? He gave us life and can take it back anytime. But it doesn't end there. He loved us so much that He gave us His Son - Jesus. His promise is whoever believed in the Son will have everlasting life.  The life here on earth is temporary. If we experience God here, it will be easier to face death because we know that we will see Him face to face. We have settled our life and all its issues with Him while on earth that we can smile and assured of an everlasting life after. 

If you haven't yet, please surrender your life to The Saviour. Jesus is the only Way, the Truth and the Life. 

Life is short. Celebrate it.