Tag Archives: Florida
At the recent 13th Annual Orlando Business Journal “Women Who Mean Business” awards dinner, Betty Martinez Lowery was recognized as one of five finalists in the Business Executive of the Year category. As manager of Walt Disney World Community Relations, Betty ensures the majority of Disney’s charitable support focuses on improving the lives of Central Florida’s children.
Her strong advocacy for minority businesses and local charitable organizations over the past 20 years has resonated in Central Florida. So much so, that Cuban-born Betty Martinez was chosen among dozens of women who have not only succeeded in business, but also volunteered their time and donated their money to local charities to improve the community.
A mother of four, Betty has spent most of her life helping others through education, human relations and cross-cultural communication. For the past five years, she made great strides in multicultural communities locally and across the U.S. through her work in WDW Minority Disney Business Development where she established key relationships between minority organizations and Disney.
Before her career at Disney, Betty led the Greater Orlando Region of the National Conference for Community and Justice and worked for the Orange County Public Schools for 10 years in a variety of leadership roles.
Appointed by two governors, including Jeb Bush and Charlie Crist, Betty has also served on the advisory board for the state of Florida’s Early Learning Coalition since 2005. She also serves as an active board member of as the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, the National Association of Women Business Owners Foundation, the WMFE Board of Directors and is the immediate past chair of the Hispanic Heritage Scholarship Fund. This fund has awarded more than $450,000 to 115 students since its inception in 2001.
In 2010, Betty received the Outstanding Minority Business Award from the Orlando Business Journal in the Corporate Advocate category. In 2009, she was recognized by La Prensa newspaper with the Lifetime Award for Achievement and Excellence and by Ahora Orlando Magazine as one of Orlando’s Top 25 most influential Hispanics.
As Walt Disney World Resort nears the midpoint of a 40-day celebration across Central Florida to shine a spotlight on charitable organizations, it is lending support to several groups that enrich children’s lives and care for their well-being.
With special gifts totaling $72,000 in tow, Mickey Mouse and prize patrols have surprised seven local organizations within the past 24 hours. Receiving recognition and rewards for their efforts are:
- Camp Boggy Creek $15,000
- Howard Phillips Center for Children & Families $10,000
- Children’s Advocacy Center of Osceola $10,000
- Kids House of Seminole County $10,000
- Lake County Children’s Advocacy Center $10,000
- Children’s Home Society of Polk County $10,000
- Make-A-Wish Foundation of Central and Northern Florida $ 7,000
By May 23, Disney will give more than $1.2 million in Disney Helping Kids Shine Grants throughout Orange, Osceola, Seminole, Lake and Polk counties. Additionally, prize patrols will recognize 15 students in the five-county area as Disney Dreamers and Doers Shining Stars for their outstanding character.
“As we approach our 40th anniversary, Walt Disney World is celebrating its ongoing commitment to Central Florida,” said Nancy Gidusko, director of Walt Disney World Community Relations. “Disney is proud to lend its support year-round to organizations that educate, develop and care for local youth. They make a substantial difference in the lives they touch and build a brighter future for us all.”
Walt Disney World’s philanthropic focus is on helping families meet basic needs, youth development and education. Disney Helping Kids Shine grant recipients demonstrate alignment with Disney’s goal of improving children’s lives by focusing on one or more of the following areas: connecting with adults, character development, constructive use of free time and compassion.
Follow the 40-day journey across Central Florida and track the total giving at www.shineontoday.com, where prize patrol reports and pictures will be posted.
Do you let your guard down at Disney World? I find that I do. To most of us, Disney World is not only the happiest place on earth, it’s also one of the safest. It certainly feels like it. There are helpful cast members everywhere. You don’t have to look far to find security. Your surrounded by families. For the most part, the assumption that Disney is a safe place is well-founded. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be mindful of safety.
The best advice is simple: Take the same safety precautions at Disney World that you would at home. If you’re reading this, you’re probably already concerned enough about safety that you do this. Still, I am sometimes stunned by the willful stupidity of some guests visiting Disney World. A few months ago a couple left their young foster children in their resort room for several hours while they relaxed by the pool. In another incident, a family left their toddler to sleep unattended on a chair in a water park while they enjoyed the park. When they returned some time later, they were angry to find that security had been called and taken the child. I can’t say that these couples wouldn’t have made the same mistake at home, but I do wonder if the fact that they were on vacation in a place generally regarded as safe didn’t influence their decision.
Orlando is one of the busiest tourist destinations in the world, so it’s not surprising that it’s also home to criminals whose intent is to separate you from your belongings . . . or worse. With that in mind, here are just a few safety tips for your next trip to the World:
1. Never leave young children alone in your hotel room. I know this seems like an obvious piece of advice, but people do it. If you need a night out, Orlando has numerous babysitting services that are reasonably priced and whose sitters undergo thorough background checks. If you are a Disney resort guest, you can take advantage of the on-site Kids’ Clubs which provide children with dinner and entertainment nightly.
2. Consider putting a temporary tattoo with your phone number on it should your child get lost in the parks. Also, identify a meeting place beforehand in the event that members of your party get lost.
3. Bring a small ziplock bag of your own babyproofing supplies if you have small children, as most hotels and rental homes are not babyproofed. Many rental houses have private pools just a few feet from the living room. While this is a real luxury, it also poses a safety hazard. Ask the owner or rental agency ahead of time what kind of safety measures are in place. Also remember to be mindful of doors that lead out to balconies and half walls that separate your balcony from your neighbor’s, as children might be tempted to climb over the latter.
4. If you’re concerned about having an older child of the opposite sex accompany you into the restroom but they’re not yet hold enough to go alone, consider using a family bathroom; they are in all the parks. Check your park map for locations.
5. Resist the urge to leave valuables in an unattended stroller or wheelchair. If you’re staying on-site and make a purchase, have your item sent back to your resort; it’s a perk for Disney resort guests. If you’re not staying on-site, you can still have your items sent to the front of any park for pick up on your way out.
6. Don’t open your hotel room door unless you’re sure who’s there. If you’re concerned, call down to the front desk.
7. Lock and latch your door. The latch, which is located on the upper part of the door out of most small children’s reach, not only gives you added security from the outside, it also keeps younger children, who can easily open a locked hotel room door while mom or dad is momentarily distracted, from getting outside.
8. Use your room safe. Most hotels will safeguard larger items for you.
9. Do NOT buy partially used tickets from “businesses” set up outside of Disney. This is a scam.
10. Familiarize yourself with Florida’s child safety seat laws.
11. You probably don’t spend much time in busy parking lots or at bus stops at home. At Disney World, it’s a fact of life. If possible, keep toddlers in their stroller until you’re ready to board the bus. Even the most attentive parent gets distracted. In this environment, better safe than sorry.
We’d love to hear your safety tips and concerns. Please feel free to leave a comment and let us know.
Chris writes here and at Everything Walt Disney World. She’s also a travel agent with Pixie Vacations. Email her at ChrisW@pixievacations.com for information on how you can get a free $50 Disney gift card when you book your next vacation.
A new study released today shows the magic Disney makes for guests at its parks and resorts and on its cruise ships translates into a strong economic impact not only in Central Florida but across the state.
The $18.2 billion in annual economic activity generated locally by Walt Disney Parks and Resorts accounts for a staggering 2.5 percent of the gross domestic product for the entire state.
Of the 7.2 million Floridians in the workforce in 2009, more than one out of every 50 had a job that can be directly or indirectly tied to the operations of Walt Disney Parks and Resorts. Locally, 6 percent of all jobs in Central Florida can be attributed to Disney’s operations.
“As our business at Walt Disney Parks and Resorts keeps growing, the bottom line impact for Florida is the more than 160,000 jobs and $6 billion in compensation directly and indirectly associated with these jobs that help power our state’s economic engine,” said Al Weiss, president of worldwide operations for Walt Disney Parks and Resorts. “The ripple effect created by our operations resonates throughout Florida as families across the state use their earnings to purchase goods and services from the diverse businesses both large and small that make Florida such an amazing place to live, work and play.”
The impact of Disney’s operations in Central Florida and across the state includes:
• Jobs – Walt Disney World Resort directly employs more than 62,000 cast members. Statewide, the total number of jobs created indirectly and directly by the operations of Walt Disney Parks and Resorts tops 160,000.
• Compensation – In Central Florida, cast members at Walt Disney Parks and Resorts earned a total of nearly $1.8 billion during FY2009. Across Florida, when direct and indirect jobs are taken into account, more than $6 billion in paychecks can be attributed directly or indirectly to Disney’s operations.
• Purchasing by Disney – Each year Walt Disney Parks and Resorts purchases more than $2 billion worth of goods and services. Nearly $1 billion is paid to vendors with a presence in the state and approximately $500 million goes to vendors in Central Florida.
• Spending by Disney Guests – Spending by Disney guests at businesses outside the resort area totaled nearly $1.7 billion in FY2009. This includes hotel and lodging expenditures; meals at local restaurants; retail purchases; and transportation expenditures.
• Taxes – When taking the amount Disney pays in taxes and subtracting the cost of various government services used by guests and cast members, the net benefit to Florida and all localities is more than $400 million. In Central Florida, for example, Orange County sees a net benefit of more than $100 million and Osceola sees a net benefit of nearly $10 million.
The study was commissioned by Walt Disney Parks and Resorts and conducted by the outside consulting firm Arduin, Laffer & Moore Econometrics.
The first few times that I went to Disney World, either with my Grandparents, or with my wife Cindy, we didn’t stay on property. For us, either we were going for just the day, or if we were going for multiple days, we just stayed at a local hotel – to save money, we thought.
However, all of that changed when we went to Disney World with Sophie in 2007. That was the first year we stayed on Disney property, and it was incredible. We had so much fun that we have not even looked at staying off property since! To that end, let me tell you about some of the incredible benefits for staying on Disney property.
The first thing I think about as one of the benefits to staying on Disney Property is the Magical Express service. What’s funny is that we’ve never flown down to Disney, so I have no experience with the Magical Express, but from everything I’ve heard and read about it, it is a truly great free service that Disney offers to it’s guests that are staying on property. For those that drive in to their resort, a similar service that Disney offers if your room isn’t available yet is the ability to drop off your luggage with bell services, and they will call or text you when your room is ready. After that, you can call them from your room and they’ll bring your luggage to your room. Now that’s service!
To me, another of the incredible benefits to staying at Disney is all of the Disney themed hotels. For us, when we travel down to Florida to take our Disney World vacation, we immerse ourselves in all of the things that make Disney our favorite place to visit. The Disney themed hotels extend the Disney Magic outside of the parks and bring it right into your room for the entire duration of your stay. To me, knowing that, when we leave the Park, we aren’t leaving the Magic, that is one of the best benefits to staying on Property.
Another thing that I count as a benefit to staying on Walt Disney World property is not needing to drive if you don’t want to. For us, it’s about a twelve hour drive to Florida, and I love that when we get to our resort, we can park the car for a week and let Disney do the driving for us. There are a few times when we do drive during our vacation, but for most of the trip, our car gets a much needed vacation from us!
The Disney Dining Plan is one of those benefits that we really loved when we stayed at the resorts in the past, whether we were getting the DDP for free or paying for it ourselves. There is a TON of debate out on the internet about whether the DDP is worth it or not, but let me tell you, for us, it was worth it for the simple convenience of not having to carry as much cash, and for being able to schedule all of our character dinners and avoid having to do meet-and-greets.
One of the best benefits, without a doubt, for me, is the Extra Magic Hours that you get if you are a resort guest. Being able to get to the park either one hour early, or even better, stay out three hours after park closing, is so cool! One of my favorite Disney World memories occurred during Extra Magic Hours last year, when we saw Mickey and Minnie riding the Dumbo ride with some lucky guests. A lot of people opine that the EMH parks are the busiest parks for that day, but I’m of the opposite opinion. I can’t wait for our June trip, because when we get to Bay Lake Towers our first day, the Magic Kingdom will be open late that night with Extra Magic Hours, so we will be able to take advantage of that first thing!
There are some other things that can be called benefits of staying on Disney property, such as not having to pay for parking at the parks if you drive to them, having Mickey and Minnie or other characters call you to wish you a happy birthday (or happy anniversary) to your room, and other things like these. But to me, the ones I mentioned are the cream of the crop of benefits!
I know that a lot of people think that staying at a Disney resort is more expensive than staying at an off-property resort. The last thing I would really urge you to do is to take a really in-depth look at all of the costs associated with both types of vacations — on property and off. We have found that the benefits are incredible, and the cost difference is negligible when you factor in all of those extra benefits.