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Disney tells agents: ‘We need you to help tell our story’
Claire Bilby (left) and Marlie Morrison

Disney tells agents: ‘We need you to help tell our story’

Friday, March 2, 2018

TORONTO — Taking a page from the blockbuster film franchise ‘Toy Story’, Disney assured travel agents at its Toy Story Land Showcase in Toronto yesterday that they’ve “got a friend in Disney”.

During the first stop of its Toy Story Land tour, Claire Bilby, Senior Vice President, Sales, Services & Events at Disney Destinations, told agents that “we value you, we need you as part of our business, and we need you to help tell our story.” And that story, she added, largely focuses on the brand new Toy Story Land at Walt Disney World Resort, opening June 30, 2018 at Disney’s Hollywood Studios.

Inspired by Disney-Pixar’s ‘Toy Story’ films and spanning 11 acres, the new themed land includes two all-new attractions: Slinky Dog Dash, a family-friendly roller coaster, and Alien Swirling Saucers, featuring adorable ‘Toy Story’ green aliens in flying saucers. In addition, Toy Story Mania, one of the most beloved attractions at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, has been expanded to feature an all-new toy carnival game box entrance.

Pixar Pier at Disneyland Resort

Slinky Dog Dash

When asked what makes Toy Story Land so special, Bilby told Travelweek that it’s truly a family attraction. “Toy Story resonates with everybody, whether you’re a toddler or a grandma. One of the things that we really honed in on is creating a whole immersive experience. Yes, attractions are very important, but it’s the whole land that will ultimately deliver that over-the-top family experience.”

Marlie Morrison, Managing Director, Marketing & Sales, Parks & Resorts, Canada and Asia Pacific, also predicts that Toy Story Land will be one of Disney’s most instagrammable areas. With over 400 toy blocks integrated into the land, gameboard pieces, green army men and lamp posts shaped like Tinkertoys, the new land will make guests feel like they’ve been shrunk to the size of one of Andy’s toys.

“I think it’s going to lend itself to all sorts of terrific shots,” Morrison told Travelweek. “It’s going to really appeal to intergenerational families, from grandparents to grandkids.”

Morrison added that Disney is particularly excited to welcome Canadians, who are regarded as one of the company’s most important markets. “We’re so happy with the amount of Canadians visiting the parks every year, both new Canadians who’ve never been and Canadians who are coming down for the umpteenth time with their families,” she said. “Canada is incredibly important, not only to Walt Disney World but also to Disneyland, Disney Cruise Line, Adventures by Disney and Aulani.”

Disney Event

To help Canadians experience that “Disney magic” for themselves, the company has made a concerted effort to change the way they train travel agents. Said Bilby: “The days of doing three-hour trainings are gone. Agents just don’t have the time, which is why we went to bi-weekly webinars that last from 30 minutes to an hour and feature very specific subject matter. Some people may sell Adventures by Disney, some may not. It’s all about fine-tuning what we do to help agents in the way they want the information.”

Bilby encourages agents to make use of Disney’s travel agent website, DisneyTravelAgents.ca, which she says is a “one-stop shop for nearly everything you need, whether it’s product updates, marketing assets, sales training, the latest offers and so much more.” The site will soon get an upgrade, an initiative driven by input from agents themselves.

“We’re very excited about this new site launching because it’s going to have a fantastic makeover, and it’s going to be mobile-friendly because we know how we all live on our iPhones,” she added.

Disney Event

Bilby also suggested that agents use Disney travel professional social channels, be it Facebook Pinterest or Youtube, because “that’s where we post incredible content and assets that you can then share with your clients on your own social channels.”

And with so many new developments coming to Disney parks this year and beyond, it’s more important than ever for agents to stay connected, sign up for webinars, participate in fams and visit the parks themselves with comp tickets and discounted agent rates.

“We want you to know that we are there for you and that we appreciate that you are here for us,” said Bilby. “Our goal is to make your job easier and to help you grow your business at the same time because when you market and sell Disney vacations, it benefits all of us – we all win by working together. Together, we will surely go to infinity and beyond.”

Here’s a sampling of what’s coming to Disney parks in 2018:

Pixar Pier at Disneyland Resort

Pixar Pier Marquee

Pixar Pier at Disneyland Resort

Aerial view of Pixar Pier

Pixar Pier at Disneyland Resort (opening June 23, 2018)

  • The permanent, new land of Pixar Pier will feature four new imaginative neighbourhoods, newly themed attractions, encounters with Pixar pals and themed food and merchandise, all inspired by Pixar stories
  • The new Incredicoaster, inspired by ‘The Incredibles’ will feature special effects and a musical score
Pixar Pier at Disneyland Resort

Incredibles Paint the Night

  • The first-ever Pixar Fest, a limited-time celebration of friendship, kicks off April 13 with the return of ‘Paint the Night’ parade, this time taking place at Disney California Adventure
  • A new fireworks show at Disneyland, ‘Together Forever – A Pixar Nighttime Spectacular’, will debut with pyrotechnics, music and a heartwarming story
  • Pixar Play Parade will return, this time making its way through Disneyland park

Disneyland Resort

  • With the ‘Black Panther’ film breaking box office records, guests can encounter Black Panther and the Royal Guards during a limited-time experience at Disney California Adventure
Black Panther and the Royal Guards

Credit: Joshua Sudock/Disneyland Resort

  • Splitsville Luxury Lanes, which combines bowling, dining and live entertainment, has just opened
  • Naples Pizzeria will be refreshed with a new outside bar and additional seating for al fresco dining
  • Popular San Diego brewer Ballast Point will join Disneyland Resort as its first ever on-site brewery, complete with a tasting room and outdoor beer garden

Disney Cruise Line

  • With three new ships on the horizon, Disney will nearly double its fleet by 2023
  • Disney Magic will debut a number of enhancements on March 9, including Rapunzel’s Royal Table dining experience, a new coffee and smoothie bar at Vibe teen retreat, a newly updated Cove Café, a new Club Disney Junior Space at Disney’s Oceaneer Club, and new steam and hydrotherapy rooms at Senses Spa
  • Star Wars Day at Sea will return in 2018/2019 on seven-night sailings onboard the Disney Fantasy
  • Marvel Day at Sea will return on select five-night sailings onboard the Disney Magic
  • New ports of call for summer 2019 include destinations in Sweden, France, Spain, Denmark and northern Ireland
  • A new roundtrip sailing from Rome will also debut in 2019

Adventures by Disney

  • In 2019, a new seven-night trip along the Seine River, followed by two nights in Paris will debut
  • 2019 Japan cruises will open for bookings in spring 2018
Guests at Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa in Hawaii, also have the opportunity to interact with Moana.

Guests at Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa in Hawaii, also have the opportunity to interact with Moana.

Aulani

  • “I can tell you from personal experience that Aulani is one of the most beautiful spots in our entire Disney vacation portfolio,” said Bilby
  • Aulani has added a new luau that recounts the tales of Oahu and the legends of the demigod Maui

Toy Story Land at Walt Disney World (opening June 30, 2018)

Toy Story Land

  • Slinky Dog Dash and Alien Swirling Saucers, (height requirements are 38 inches and 32 inches, respectively) will be eligible for the Disney FastPass+
  • Woody’s Lunch Box, a quick-service food window serving classic items like grilled cheese sandwiches and old-fashioned soda floats, will accept the Disney dining plan and will be open for breakfast, lunch and dinner
Toy Story Land

Toy Story Mania

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