Thursday, June 6, 2013

Magical Gatherings

Welcome Tamela Hansen 

Full Time Honorary Gal

     Disney Gals have been very blessed over the past months to have Tamela Hansen as a frequent Guest Author. Tamela's articles always offer insightful information in a fun and informative way. We have been so impressed and inspired by the writings of Tamela that we are taking away her title of Guest Author and bestowing upon her the title of Official Honorary Gal. As an Honorary Gal, Tamela will now be featured contributor with us on a monthly basis. Welcome to the family Tamela-we are so fortunate to have you here sharing your vast knowledge of Walt Disney World.

And now Tamela's first article as an official contributor-today Tamela's talking to us about Disney's Magical Gatherings

Magical Gatherings

 Hi I am Tamela Hansen from Prattville, Alabama.  I am back to write about an amazing experience that every Disney lover needs to plan.  Have you ever planned or been part of a Grand Gathering at Walt Disney World?  If not, this is a Must Do!  You can make some of the most Special Memories with Grand Gatherings! Grand Gatherings can be difficult to plan but with good preparation they will make some of the most memorable vacations that will last a lifetime!  They require a few steps to plan and I highly recommend a few group meetings just to iron out the kinks before your amazing vacation.  

The first step I take is have every family or small group within your large group to pick three of their favorite dining experiences.  Then I'm able to take the list and compare it with each other and find favorites.  A dinner show to start of the vacation will always kick the vacation off in the right direction.  The second step I always do is have each family or group order the special maps online.  This allows everyone to get familiar with the parks before your group meeting.  I always make sure for the next step to check the calendar and find out what days the parks have extra magic hours and choose those days to attend those parks with dining close by.  

Another strong suggestion is to have down time.  Plan downtime or free time between each park. A full day or half a day to enjoy pools & shopping or just sleeping in will allow everyone to get the most out of the vacation.  After gathering all of your information print itineraries for every person including phone numbers, reservation numbers, the order of parks and restaurants that you will be exploring each day. 

Another suggestion, if all parties are willing, is to wear the same color at least for the first day until everyone gets use to a large group so you can find one another easily.  Bright colors are best!  Map out meeting places in each area of the parks and pick small group leaders to go get Fast passes for their group.  With large groups a week or longer would be my recommendation.  This will allow for everyone to enjoy one another. 

Always mix up riders so everyone will have experienced different adventures with different friends and family.  This makes for more Special Memories. Now let the good times begin! Grand gatherings are so special because you have such a variety in age and experiences.  You may have first timers, grandparents, great grandparents and maybe even ones who have been to Walt Disney World many many times but it will be a first experience for everyone.  Don't be surprised that you start new traditions for a lifetime.  Of course I have a few experiences to go with that. 

A few years back we had a grand gathering with 11 members of my family.  We started off our vacation with Epcot and dinner in Germany.  With my husband and children doing the chicken dance and the great grandparents watching with laughter, the vacation started out very memorable.  We all wore bright yellow shirts so we referred to ourselves as the Yellow Team!  My grandmother has a prosthetic leg so when riding Soarin' together she thought it was amazing and said "This is the best ride at Walt Disney World"! 

Now every time we ride Soarin' we think of our Mamaw.  While riding It's a Small World at Magic Kingdom my grandfather put his great-grandson on his lap and told him what country each doll represented.  That started a new tradition for us. Every time we go through It's a Small World we all point out what country each doll represents.  Then throughout the trip my grandmother that is handicap decided my grandfather was handicap and put him in the wheelchair and pushed him!  That was so awesome to see, I think Walt Disney World made her feel her youth again! At another grand Gathering my friend (sister) and her husband were celebrating their anniversary. 

We were eating at the Whispering Canyon and had notified through reservations that my friend was celebrating her anniversary.  So to celebrate they brought them a cake and a wooden horse on a stick and asked my friends husband to ride around the restaurant and sing "You are my Sunshine".  He was so embarrassed he would not get up and do it so my husband took one for the team and rode the stick horse around the restaurant singing the song and the whole restaurant sang along!  What an amazing special memory that made!Another Grand Gathering that I planned was with 18 people.  They consisted of friends and family.  Only 5 people in the group had experienced the Walt Disney World Resort.   
To experience the parks with this larger group with so many first timers was like seeing the parks for the first time again!  There were so many special memories made on this trip that I could write a book about it but I will limit myself to two.  One evening we all ate at 1900 Parke Fare and took this opportunity to dress up in our Prince and Princess attire.  We had the best time.  The Princesses all had their picture with Prince Charming and the Princes with Cinderella.  That was a evening we will never forget.  We ended our vacation at Mickey's Backyard BBQ dancing with Mickey and his gang.  We all kicked our heels up and had an amazing evening dancing with our kids, spouses, and friends. We have been able to make so many memories with Grand Gatherings at Walt Disney World!  
Whenever we are with our friends or family the experiences with our grand gatherings always come up and we always talk about it with fond memories!  It does require more planning but the memories that you will share with so many will last for the rest of your life.  So I highly recommend put it on your to do list.  Reach out to friends and family and plan a Grand Gathering to make special memories that will last a lifetime.

Thanks Tamela for being such a great addition to the Disney Gal family. We know you will wear your bow proudly!


  1. Thank you so much Disney Gals! I appreciate the opportunity to write about the most memorable moments in my life. My passion is to help everyone that has ever wanted to say " We are going to Disney World" a reality! Thanks to All the Gals for helping to make this dream come true!

    1. No, Thank you!! Welcome to the team!

  2. Welcome Tamela our first full time Honorary Disney Gal!!! We are so happy you have joined us. We love reading your articles and cannot wait to see more of them!! ~ Judy

  3. Love your articles, Tammy. You go girl! Proud of you!