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Nobody Does It Like Disney! Part One

By:  Erica I. Peña-Vest

With the holidays behind us, it's time to start our new year.  2009 will bring its share of challenges especially with the present economy, but 2009 also brings its share of excitement for us to look forward to.  That excitement was magnified for me the day the Walt Disney Company announced it was letting us all in for free on our birthdays this year.  What a wonderful concept!  It all started because there is a growing trend among travelers to commemorate special occasions at popular travel destinations, so Disney decided to facilitate those celebrations.  For all of 2009, with proper identification, you can enter a Disney park free on your birthday.  (For more information on specifics terms, visit

I recently visited Disneyland in Anaheim, California with my family and was amazed at how the Disney Company works so hard to improve their parks, when to the naked eye there is no need for improvement.  Yet, every time I travel to Disneyland there is something new and exciting to see.  I hadn't been to Disneyland in a few years and all of Anaheim, California seemed to have changed so much.  Just when you think the magic can't get any bigger and the ambiance can't get any better, Disney and Company exceed your wildest imagination in their efforts.  For those of you planning to visit in the next year, I have so much to share  with you that I have decided to do it in a three part series.  This first part will touch on Disneyland itself.  The second part will be on Disney's California Adventure and Downtown Disney.  The third part will discuss all the changes and improvement you will see when you visit Anaheim, as well as a host of activities you can't miss while you are there.

Disneyland is the oldest of Walt's parks, and will forever be the original.  As the original park, I have always thought that Disneyland is a static creation.  After all, why improve on the true and tested?  And yet, I am always pleasantly surprised by the new rides, attractions and renovations that have taken place in the years since I was last there.  For those that have been there and done it all, you will find all of your old favorites plus some new thrills and adventures.  Kids and adults alike will enjoy the new Finding Nemo's Submarine Voyage.  The submarines that I loved so much as a kid have returned, but this time with a spin that is sure to capture the imagination of children everywhere.  On this trip, I was surprised to find two of my favorite rides had changed.  Pirates of the Caribbean has been lengthened and updated, and characters from the 2003 film have been added.  I found some new thrills and new surprises waiting around every corner.  Even more surprising was The Haunted Mansion.  My family and I visited during the period between Halloween and Christmas, and were delighted to find The Haunted Mansion completely redecorated in the theme of the movie “The Nightmare Before Christmas.”  It made for a wonderful change from the expected.
During our trip to California, we stayed just down the street from Disneyland at the Sheraton Garden Grove.  With so many hotels in the area to choose from, it's hard to choose the perfect one.  However, this brand new hotel has worked hard to stand out.  It offers great amenities, spacious rooms, transportation to and from Disneyland (for a fee), and most importantly a great place to rest after your hectic day of park hopping.  They also offer fantastic military rates year-round (  They are about to launch a special military vacation package for this spring.  Contact the hotel directly for more information (714-703-8400).

I had the opportunity to visit all the Southern California amusement parks during my visit and while they all have their merits, one thing became very clear to my family.  Something was different when we left Disneyland.  The different parks throughout the area lacked something we couldn't describe.  Not to sound trite but there is something dreamlike about being at Disneyland.  For just a moment, you are not just there for your kids.  It brings something out in you.  You are suddenly in a place where everything seems possible, where dreams really do come true and where you forget who you are today and remember who you were 20 years ago when you believed in magic.  My husband and I in a futile attempt to pinpoint the difference between the area parks came to one conclusion – no one does it like Disney.

Stay tuned to the next issue for more information or log on to for more recommendations and free advice for your trip to Disneyland. 

---------------- is proud to be featuring the travel articles of Erica I. Pena-Vest to our users. Erica is a travel industry veteran with over ten years of experience in public and media relations. Erica has worked with hundreds of travel writers before becoming one herself in 2004. As a Navy wife, Erica understands the needs of military families and focuses her research and articles to travel deals for those in the armed services. Erica's travel column is appropriated titled “Sweet Land of Liberty”. works hard to bring a multitude of resources and information to our audience. This site has thousands of pages of resources and information. There is something for everyone. Users refer to, as the “the Go To Site” for the military and veteran communities. When the next tour is back home, it's on