These are a few of my favorite Walt Disney World things…

I get this question a lot – “what are your favorite XYZ thing in Walt Disney World”? I have things that are near and dear to my heart – some of which tug at the heartstrings, some which are just the best of the best in experiences, other things that we save for special occasions.

Resorts

This is an easy one for me and we have two. #1 – Bay Lake Tower at Contemporary resort. Walking access to and from Magic Kingdom, many rooms with a view of the fireworks from your living room or balcony and the monorail steps away to get to other parks. Easy to get to parking lot for those that access to a car. Great set of resort rooms from the studio when it’s just the 3 of us traveling up to 1 and 2 bedroom villas when we are traveling with family. The 1 and 2 bedroom villas have a ton of bathrooms as well (2 full baths in a 1 bedroom and 3 full baths in a 2 bedroom). I am not as big of a fan of the main Contemporary building – the feeling of the two resorts (even though they have the same amenities) are completely different. Bay Lake is quiet which I love and need after a busy day in the park. I also like that the hallways aren’t horribly long like they are at some other resorts.

Resort #2 – Standard Club Level room at Wilderness Lodge. It’s not just Wilderness Lodge – it’s this specific booking category. Because it’s a small resort and the addition of Copper Creek Villas there are very few club level rooms. It makes the experience more intimate. I love the club level floor. We request a room facing toward Magic Kingdom and you’ve got a nice view of the fireworks in the evening. The club level offerings are robust here and it just feels like home. The sights, the smells, the everything! It’s my favorite overall place.

Dining

This list can get a bit long, so I’ll try to keep it short. This list also changes and adapts based on the time of year and why we’re traveling (and who is with us). And you will find very little character dining here – we prefer to see characters in the park with the photo backdrop and dining for us is all about the FOOD

  • Garden Grill (Epcot) – Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner are all good!
  • Via Napoli (Epcot)
  • Teppan Edo (Epcot)
  • Boma (Animal Kingdom Lodge) – Breakfast & dinner are both good meals
  • Trattoria al Forno (Boardwalk) – Breakfast (the best character dining meal – I’d eat here even if there were no characters)
  • Boathouse (Disney Springs)
  • Art Smith’s Homecomin’ (Disney Springs)
  •  Ohana (Polynesian) – Dinner (this is becoming a little less of a favorite in recent years but still a good meal)

Do we eat other places? ALL THE TIME! But these are my core go to locations. I’m just about 20 dining locations short of dining at every location in WDW!

Magical Extras/Special Experiences

This is the easiest answer – Magic Kingdom fireworks dessert party – Garden plaza view. DSC_0282For $59 for adults and less for kids, you’ve got a quick little dessert buffet followed by a protected place to watch the fireworks in Magic Kingdom. Happily Ever After with the projection technology, needs to be seen inside the park and with kids, it’s much easier to be seen in this protected space and the soft hub grass to sit in while you wait. We’ve had a photopass photographer come in and take photos while we wait too! It’s also a nice protected space after the fireworks end as most of the guests in the park head toward the exit and go nowhere fast. We just sit and relax and let the crowds clear first.

Special events parties – Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween party. This is my favorite special event. It’s an expensive add but we LOVE it so much. Dressing up as a family in Magic Kingdom, trick or treating, the best parade in all of WDW (RIP Spectromagic & Main Street Electrical Parade which may have ranked higher if still running), and a great fireworks show! And in our house…we love villains. This event runs on select nights in September and October.

What are YOUR favorite things around Walt Disney World??

MinnieBox

A free gift for your Disney vacation! The amazing and exciting Minnie Box! (subject to minimum vacation package)

I’d love to talk to you about my happy place so you can think about starting YOUR collection of memories! Whether it’s a first time, the first time as a family, a celebration, or it’s something you’ve been putting off because it’s overwhelming, we can do this! My planning services are 100% free for guests who book a package with Magical Vacations! Talk to me about a free, no obligation quote today!

 

This holiday season, collect memories, not more things!

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We have STUFF in our house…stuff, stuff and more stuff and the last thing I need to put under my tree is more STUFF! So this year, we’re collecting memories! We’re counting down the days until our next Walt Disney World vacation! To us, the stuff will come and go and thinking back to my childhood, what do I remember most? Is it tearing open who knows what at age 4 and 5 and 6? NO! It’s traveling as a family and visiting new destinations and having new adventures. So this year, we’re taking new adventures and doing new things in our home away from home.

I challenge you to do the same! Give the gift of travel to your family! We collect Mickey hugs and castle selfies, and laughter, and another ride on its a small world. And it makes my heart full more than any sort of item under my tree.

Travel is good for my soul, it gives us something to look forward to! It gives my husband IMG_9748a break from his busy, high stress job, and gets me out of my house and my office. It allows my daughter to continue to broaden her horizons, enhance her interpersonal skills at the ripe old age of 4. She brings sunshine to other guests and cast members and she has since she could talk and teeter around. It allows her to be social (which she is by nature). She also learns patience by waiting in line!

And truly, it’s just our happy place. We love our Disney bubble. We love being in the middle of the magic. We love the relaxation it now gives us. YES, Walt Disney World is a relaxing destination for us – we enjoy the parks, we enjoy the shows and the characters and sitting poolside and having our meals prepared for us every day.

MinnieBox

A free gift for your Disney vacation! The amazing and exciting Minnie Box! (subject to minimum vacation package)

I’d love to talk to you about my happy place so you can think about starting YOUR collection of memories! Whether it’s a first time, the first time as a family, a celebration, or it’s something you’ve been putting off because it’s overwhelming, we can do this! My planning services are 100% free for guests who book a package with Magical Vacations! Talk to me about a free, no obligation quote today!

Walt Disney World: Back to Basics

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It’s been a long time since I had some time to write so it’s time to go back to basics! Let’s talk about the basics of Walt Disney World. This is the perfect way to plan for a first time visit or the first time in a long time visit.

Packages vs. room and tickets ala carte

In almost every single scenario, having your package bundled together is the best thing for you. First, it’s the ONLY way you can include a dining plan and second, it gives you the most protection of your money. Disney packages require just a $200 deposit to confirm (which can include as little as your room and tickets but as much as dining plan, travel insurance, and more!) If you purchase items ala carte, you’re going to pay a one night + tax deposit on your room space, separate purchase for your tickets (which is non-refundable), Memory Maker (non-refundable), and you don’t have the option to include travel protection insurance in case something happens. With packages, you can add travel insurance which protects your entire package and in many cases, you stand to lose less if you have to cancel your plans for the unexpected.

So what is a package?

  • In the most basic form it’s room + tickets booked together
  • Guests can also book a “ticketless” package – if you aren’t planning on going into the park, are an annual passholder, member of the military, or have old non-expiring tickets from a trip long ago, you can book room + dining together and skip the ticket portion
  • Packages can include the optional additions of dining plan, travel protection insurance, Memory Maker, or even flights!

The Resorts

What do the resort categories mean?

Disney has 4 unique resort categories with their own pros and cons…

Value Resorts. These are the most cost effective options out of any resort category. This isBoardwalk Across the water.JPG best for guests that are looking to save money on their resort experience. Keep in mind that these resorts are at many times host to youth sporting events and international tour groups so it can effect your resort experience if you’re planning on spending any significant amount of time at your resort, this may not be the best place for you. These are resorts are great for those that are going to be spending all day in the parks and not thinking about a resort break in the day – essentially a place to sleep and shower! The exception to this rule is Art of Animation which have family suites and can feel a bit more robust in terms of offerings and experience than the other value resorts.

Moderate Resorts. These resorts offer additional resort amenities on site. Some notable upgrades from the value resort experience – larger resort rooms (some of these resorts sleep up to 5 guests), water slides at the main pool, additional on site dining options, and covered bus stops (so if it’s raining or really hot, it’s a nice feeling of relief to be out of the elements). These resorts are more middle of the road in term of pricing and many first timers find this resort a comfortable starting point in terms of price point and resort experience.

Deluxe Resort. This is my favorite resort category. You add even more to the available amenities from the moderate category and you’ll find stronger theming throughout the rooms and resorts (NOT Mickey around every turn – just stronger central themes – like African Safari, Yacht Club, a tropical oasis, and more) These rooms are larger yet – most of which sleep a total of 4 guests and some can sleep 5 (or more in suites). These resorts Beach Club Inside roomalso have additional dining options (at least 2 if not more choices to dine on site), things like watercraft or tours available in the resort, a room with a view (theme park, savanna, fireworks, etc.) and often special park access – whether it be a different way to get to the parks besides a bus – boat, monorail, walking. The key to most of these resorts is location, location, location! We also feel a little bit more of the warm fuzzies when it comes the guest experience.

Deluxe Villas. These are similar to deluxe villas in amenities. The difference in these are the room layout and overall size. These rooms come in different sizes – studio (similar to a standard hotel room), 1 bedroom, 2 bedroom, and 3 bedroom grand villa. This is more like condo living. Studios have a microwave in room, and 1 and 2 bedroom villas have both washer/dryers AND a full kitchen inside each unit. It makes it feel a bit more like home plus the same benefits of the deluxe resorts above!

Theme park tickets.

Choosing your park tickets can be a difficult piece of the planning puzzle for everyone. Single day tickets, park hopper tickets, park hopper plus which includes water park access. I like the convenience of park hopper tickets for my family so we can go back to a favorite park and open up additional options for dining.

Park hopper tickets are incredibly important during the fall and winter months when Disney hosts some special events in Magic Kingdom which limit park hours as well as dining in that parks. Additionally, days without parties become VERY crowded (over the last 2 years it’s been almost unbearable on non-party nights like holiday crowds on mundane October Saturday night)! Park hopper tickets allow you to start your day in Magic Kingdom on a party night and hop somewhere else for the evening. And on the other side, start in another park in the morning and hop one night to Magic Kingdom to see the amazing fireworks show!

Water park tickets. When is this a good option? Disney water parks are amazing and a great heat relief. It’s also a really great addition for guests with longer stays as well. It’s a nice way to do a little bit of relaxing and do a little less walking than a normal park day. And with park hopper tickets as a park of your package, it’s a very inexpensive addition!

Dining plan

Disney has 3 dining plans for 2018: Quick Service, Plus Dining, and Deluxe Dining. Regardless of your choice, each member of your traveling party will receive a refillable mug to be used at your resort. It can actually be refilled at any resort during your stay. No refills at the parks though!

The quick service dining plan provides you with 2 quick service credits and 2 snacks for each night stayed.

  • Each quick service credit comes with an entree and non-alcoholic beverage whether you use it for breakfast, lunch, or dinner

PLUS dining (or the Disney dining plan) provides you with 1 table service credit, 1 quick service credit, and TWO snacks for each night stayed.

  • Quick service credit comes with an entree and  beverage (it can  be alcoholic OR photo 1(2)non-alcoholic) whether you use it for breakfast, lunch or dinner.
  • Table service credits come with an entree, beverage (it can  be alcoholic OR non-alcoholic) and dessert. No dessert will be offered if you choose to use a credit at breakfast.
  • Table service credits can also exchanged for a buffet or family style meal.

The Deluxe Dining Plan provides you with 3 credits which can be used for either table service or quick service and 2 snacks for each night stayed.

  •  Quick service credits come with an entree and non-alcoholic beverage.
  • Table service credits come with an appetizer, entree, beverage (it can  be alcoholic OR non-alcoholic), and dessert. No appetizer or dessert will be offered if you choose to use a credit at breakfast. (This is an appetizer per person – not for your entire group so if you have a group of 4 you will receive 4 appetizers)
  • Table service credits can also be exchanged for buffet or family style meals.

Dining plan makes your reservation a more “all inclusive” type of vacation. Cost wise, it’s close to “break even” in terms of paying as you go vs. using a dining plan (we often end up saving money with a dining plan. I also like the convenience of the dining plan so everything is paid in full ahead of time vs. spending a ton of money on a package and hen spending a ton more money on food (because people really under estimate how much money food actually costs once inside the Disney bubble!)

MinnieBox

A free gift for your Disney vacation! The amazing and exciting Minnie Box! (subject to minimum vacation package)

So that’s a primer of the basics of Walt Disney world? So what’s right for you? I’d love to talk about your next Walt Disney World vacation! My planning services are 100% free for guests who book a package with Magical Vacations! Talk to me about a free, no obligation quote today!

Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween party dates for 2017 + Tips for your travel!

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It’s official! Disney has released dates for Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween party for 2017. Are you attending? I AM! This year, Disney starts the party at the end of AUGUST and it runs through November 1. What a schedule. I can’t wait to see what magic they bring this year!

  • August – 25, 29
  • September – 1, 7, 10, 12, 15, 17, 19, 22, 24, 26, 29
  • October –1, 3, 5, 6, 9, 10, 12, 13, 15, 17, 19, 20, 22, 24, 26, 27, 29, 31
  • November – 1

No official on sale date yet but going based off of historical data, they should go on sale in early May.

The big question for adults with the change in costume policy earlier this year is “can I wear a costume?” The answer is YES! They are discouraging guests from some specific types of costumes and larger costumes are subject to further inspection in security – it’s a safety thing. So plan accordingly but definitely bring you creativity!! For adults, long layers and full length dresses are not allowed. Capes may be worn but not past the waist. Remember all of these things are for the safety of all guests!

Some highlights from the 2016 party:

  • Mickey’s “Boo-to-You” Halloween Parade – including Disney Characters and the stars of the Haunted Mansion attraction. The parade kicks off with a ride from the Headless Horseman.
  • Happy HalloWishes fireworks – an AMAZINg display different from the everyday fireworks!
  • Many favorite Disney Characters and Disney Villains in special Halloween costumes.
  • Special lighting, music and theming effects transforms special areas of Magic Kingdom into happy haunted hollows.
  • Hocus Pocus Villain spectacular bringing back the Sanderson sisters to put a spell on the park. This stage show was wildly popular!
  • Trick or treating around the Magic Kingdom with more candy that I know what to do with (and tons of options for guests with allergies).

I expect this year to have even more haunting magic! While it is a separate admission into Magic Kingdom, if you travel in fall it’s 100% worth the cost to take advantage of lower crowds and all of the fun things that ONLY happen during the party.

Tips & Tricks for Special Events in Magic Kingdom:

  • Depending on your length of stay and number of days with park tickets, you have two options for the morning and early afternoon of your special event.
    1. For longer trips or those with park hopper tickets: Take the morning off! Sleep in (you’ll rarely hear me say this on a Disney vacation, so take advantage). It’s a great opportunity for a late morning character breakfast at Chef Mickey in Contemporary or the delicious flavors of Boma in Animal Kingdom Lodge. Enjoy your resort’s pool and explore to see some of the hidden things it has to offer. Use Disney’s transportation to navigate to another resort to explore (I choose the deluxe resorts!) or head to Downtown Disney for the morning.
    2. For shorter trips with only base day tickets, you may want to take the opportunity to “park hop”. Since you do not need your daily ticket and your special event ticket, enjoy a morning in another park
  • Regardless of your morning plan, eat a large late lunch before you arrive at Magic Kingdom! While select quick service restaurants are available, you don’t want to use your precious time eating a meal you could have any other time during regular park hours. You may find yourself roaming around the park for something that’s open by the time you are hungry. There are dining options both table service and quick service during the party, but you’ll use up precious time if you dine during the party.
  • Skip the long character lines and enjoy some of the special live shows and open attractions. You’ll rarely ever see lines that short! If there is a must do character, don’t worry about waiting! Do what is important to your kids (if characters are more important than rides, GO FOR IT! We are a character meet and greet family so seeing them in different attire is fun and it’s the only way to see some villains!)
  • Arrive as close to 4 pm as possible. While the park may still be a bit crowded with ticketed day guests, you’ll want to use as much of your ticketed time as possible.
  • Rest up earlier in the day (make sure kids have napped appropriately). Bring a stroller for your younger ones to take a little snooze waiting for a parade or a place if they are just too tired.
  • Consider Memory Maker. It’s a great little add on to any Disney vacation, but why not grab a few holiday photos for your Christmas card or capture some lasting Halloween memories through the eyes of Disney! Even if you don’t add it on, you can still take advantage of Disney’s PhotoPass photographers throughout the park.
  • If you know you want to attend one of the parties, buy your tickets before your arrive. Advanced purchase is a bit cheaper (usually about $5) and some popular dates sell out.
  • If you are not attending the party and you have base tickets, avoid these party dates! You won’t get a fireworks show at the end of the night (unless you watch it off the Magic Kingdom grounds). If you have park hopper tickets, it’s a pretty good park to start your day with as many people do avoid Magic Kingdom on party nights!
A free gift for your Disney vacation! The amazing and exciting Minnie Box! (subject to minimum vacation package)

A free gift for your Disney vacation! The amazing and exciting Minnie Box! (subject to minimum vacation package)

Ready to get started planning your 2017 Disney World vacation? Please contact me at any time for a free quote. The benefits to using an authorized Disney vacation planner include saving time before and during your vacation with itinerary planning which can help save you hours of standing in line each day. Plus you won’t have to watch for available discounts, research resorts, wake up early for dining reservations, or stay up late for FastPasses. The best part about using a travel planner instead of planning yourself? It’s totally FREE! Plus I’ll take away some of the stress and confusion of planning a Disney vacation (especially if it’s your first one!)It’s also a worry free vacation opportunity. I’ll walk through through all of the steps to the process with a few little insider tips along the way! If you already have your vacation planned and are interested in transferring your vacation, ask me how!

New Walt Disney World Spring Promotional offers!

The holidays are over, but Disney is still handing out gifts in the form of a new promotional offer for spring Walt Disney World travelers. These offers are available for guests traveling February 20 – June 10, 2017 so it includes President’s Day weekend, Spring Break, and early summer travel dates. It’s something to look forward to now that the holidays have come and gone. This also lets you explore the fun and whimsy of Epcot’s Flower & Garden Festival and spring time in Walt Disney World (it’s truly my favorite time of year!)

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When you stay at a Walt Disney World® Resort hotel, you’re always in the middle of the magic. And with this great travel offer, it’s even easier to bask in the enchantment! You can save up to 25%* on rooms at select Walt Disney World Resort hotels for stays most nights Feb. 20-June 10, 2017.

Plus, you can get one more day added to their ticket when they upgrade to a Magic Your Way® room and ticket package with a minimum 4-day Ticket.

Booking and Travel Windows:

  • Book by Feb. 26, 2017 for stays most nights Feb. 20-June 10, 2017
  • Book by March 30, 2017 for stays most nights April 9-June 10, 2017

*The number of rooms allocated for this offer is limited. Length-of-stay requirements may apply. Savings based on the non-discounted price for the same room. Additional per-adult charges may apply if more than two adults per room at Disney Value, Moderate and Deluxe Resorts. Cannot be combined with any other discount or promotion. Advance reservations required. Offer excludes campsites, 3-bedroom villas and is not valid at Disney’s Art of Animation Resort-The Little Mermaid Standard Rooms and Bungalows at Disney’s Polynesian Villas & Bungalows. 25% savings for select Disney Deluxe and Deluxe Villa Resorts; lower savings may be available for other Resorts.

A free gift for your Disney vacation! The amazing and exciting Minnie Box! (subject to minimum vacation package)

A free gift for your Disney vacation! The amazing and exciting Minnie Box! (subject to minimum vacation package)

Ready to get started planning your 2017 Disney World vacation? Please contact me at any time for a free quote. The benefits to using an authorized Disney vacation planner include saving time before and during your vacation with itinerary planning which can help save you hours of standing in line each day. Plus you won’t have to watch for available discounts, research resorts, wake up early for dining reservations, or stay up late for FastPasses. The best part about using a travel planner instead of planning yourself? It’s totally FREE! Plus I’ll take away some of the stress and confusion of planning a Disney vacation (especially if it’s your first one!)It’s also a worry free vacation opportunity. I’ll walk through through all of the steps to the process with a few little insider tips along the way! If you already have your vacation planned and are interested in transferring your vacation, ask me how!

Planning an August 2017 Disney World vacation

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This guide is specifically for guests traveling to Disney World in August 2017 (The rest of the year will come soon if you’re looking to travel later in the year!)

For complete months: January 2017, February 2017, March 2017, April 2017, May 2017, June 2017, July 2017

August wraps up the summer season. While July saw some lower crowds, it lead to a bit to higher than average August crowds before back to school season starts. The middle of the month sees a dip in crowds. As you get closer to Labor Day weekend, the crowd levels bottom out to some of the lowest that you’ll see any time of the year. In terms of pricing, with the dip in crowds, you’ll see a dip in pricing around the middle of the month. The entire month will be HOT. Doesn’t matter when. it’s the hottest month of the year.

August weather in Disney World

According to Weather.com the average high in the month of August is 92 and the low is 73. Be sure to check your favorite weather app prior to your departure to confirm actual temperatures before you pack. It will be warm and humid. Also expect rain as the humidity rises but it’s often a welcomed rain and not often an all day soaking rain. Plan plenty of pool time and maybe a day at the water parks!

Choosing Your Travel Dates/Events to be aware ofIMG_8755

  • Sounds like summer concert series in Epcot – not a huge crowd draw, but a way to add some free magic to your park time!
  • Epcot Food & Wine Festival starts earlier than ever: August 31st. Expect this to draw more crowds to Epcot than in the past!

Special Offers/Promotions

  • No promotional offers will be available at the time of publication. Look to offers becoming available in Spring of 2017 (likely March) for summer travel dates(based on historical releases). In previous years, a room discount has been offered. Disney sweetened the deal last year and offered a unique MagicBand for all packages!

When to book dining

Dining reservations are available 180 days in advance of your arrival date which means you can book dining for August as early as February. If you have an active package, you’ll have the ability to book dining for your entire length of stay. If you’re inside that mark, you may not see every dining reservation available – especially popular things like character dinners (especially Cinderella’s Table, and Chef Mickey’s) and popular locations like Ohana and Be Our Guest. Don’t let lack of availability worry you, since all Disney dining reservations require a credit card guarantee, cancellations do happen so persistence and patience are key! As we start the month in Spring Break, planning for the incredibly popular locations are often best for later in your trip to secure prime dinner times!

Cost

Disney's Pop Century brings adults back to their childhood!

Disney’s Pop Century brings adults back to their childhood!

So how much will it cost a family of 4 to travel to Disney World in August of 2017? Let’s do the math. Remember these are NON-DISCOUNTED rates so your total could be less than the ones listed below.

The Smith family wants a fun an inexpensive vacation and are planning 7 days and 6 nights at a value resort. I suggested Pop Century in a preferred room since it’s most centrally located among the value resorts. They are taking mom, dad, Susie – 13 and Jenny – 9 on their first vacation! They have decided on 5 days of base tickets to really focus on one park each day and to save a little bit of money and will pay for meals out of pocket and bring some snacks with as well, so no dining plan. $2534.09

The Jones family wants a moderately priced vacation and are also planning 7 days and 6 nights, but they want to stay at a moderate resort. Their two daughters love Disney princesses so they are considering an upgrade to a royal guest room. They are also going to do 5 days of base tickets but are considering the upgrade to park hoppers to see more with their time. If the Jones family chooses the least expensive package options, their moderate vacation would cost them $2984.45 If they added park hoppers to their tickets, their vacation would cost them $3272.41. And if they wanted to upgrade to a royal room their vacation would cost them $3670.64

The Howell family wants to go all out for their two children’s first Disney World vacation and stay in a deluxe resort for 7 days and 6 nights. They definitely want park hoppers to see everything and they are considering the dining plan. Their preferred resort is Wilderness Lodge but with the construction scheduled, they are going to try out the recently renovated Polynesian resort to have access to Magic Kingdom. and Epcot. With 5 days of park hoppers, their vacation would cost them $5088.16 If they did elect to add the dining plan, their vacation would cost them $6445.40

The bottom line

August is a great time to travel to Disney World for those that don’t have the ability to take time out of school whether it’s your children’s school schedule or maybe a teacher in the family! It can be fun filled and a great way to explore water parks and more during your adventures!!

Start planning your August 2017 vacation

A free gift for your Disney vacation! The amazing and exciting Minnie Box! (subject to minimum vacation package)

A free gift for your Disney vacation! The amazing and exciting Minnie Box! (subject to minimum vacation package)

Ready to get started planning your 2017 Disney World vacation? Please contact me at any time for a free quote. The benefits to using an authorized Disney vacation planner include saving time before and during your vacation with itinerary planning which can help save you hours of standing in line each day. Plus you won’t have to watch for available discounts, research resorts, wake up early for dining reservations, or stay up late for FastPasses. The best part about using a travel planner instead of planning yourself? It’s totally FREE! Plus I’ll take away some of the stress and confusion of planning a Disney vacation (especially if it’s your first one!)It’s also a worry free vacation opportunity. I’ll walk through through all of the steps to the process with a few little insider tips along the way! If you already have your vacation planned and are interested in transferring your vacation, ask me how!

Planning a July 2017 Disney World vacation

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This guide is specifically for guests traveling to Disney World in July 2017 (The rest of the year will come soon if you’re looking to travel later in the year!)

For complete months: January 2017, February 2017, March 2017, April 2017, May 2017, June 2017

July means summer season is officially in full swing with schools out around the country. Last year saw a dip in crowds in some weeks in July in comparison to previous years. This may be a change in overall crowd trends but it’s too early to tell. Plan on 4th of July weekend to be fairly busy with parents utilizing an extra day off of work and some unique holiday experiences.  In terms of pricing, you’ll see a similar dollar value no matter what the week. The entire month will be HOT. Doesn’t matter when. it’s the hottest month of the year.

July weather in Disney World

According to Weather.com the average high in the month of July is 92 and the low is 73. Be sure to check your favorite weather app prior to your departure to confirm actual temperatures before you pack. It will be warm and humid. Also expect rain as the humidity rises but it’s often a welcomed rain and not often an all day soaking rain. Plan plenty of pool time and maybe a day at the water parks!

Choosing Your Travel Dates/Events to be aware ofIMG_8755

  • Sounds like summer concert series in Epcot – not a huge crowd draw, but a way to add some free magic to your park time!

Special Offers/Promotions

  • No promotional offers will be available at the time of publication. Look to offers becoming available in Spring of 2017 (likely March) for summer travel dates(based on historical releases). In previous years, a room discount has been offered. Disney sweetened the deal last year and offered a unique MagicBand for all packages!

When to book dining

Dining reservations are available 180 days in advance of your arrival date which means you can book dining for July as early as January. If you have an active package, you’ll have the ability to book dining for your entire length of stay. If you’re inside that mark, you may not see every dining reservation available – especially popular things like character dinners (especially Cinderella’s Table, and Chef Mickey’s) and popular locations like Ohana and Be Our Guest. Don’t let lack of availability worry you, since all Disney dining reservations require a credit card guarantee, cancellations do happen so persistence and patience are key! As we start the month in Spring Break, planning for the incredibly popular locations are often best for later in your trip to secure prime dinner times!

Cost

Disney's Pop Century brings adults back to their childhood!

Disney’s Pop Century brings adults back to their childhood!

So how much will it cost a family of 4 to travel to Disney World in July of 2017? Let’s do the math. Remember these are NON-DISCOUNTED rates so your total could be less than the ones listed below.

The Smith family wants a fun an inexpensive vacation and are planning 7 days and 6 nights at a value resort. I suggested Pop Century in a preferred room since it’s most centrally located among the value resorts. They are taking mom, dad, Susie – 13 and Jenny – 9 on their first vacation! They have decided on 5 days of base tickets to really focus on one park each day and to save a little bit of money and will pay for meals out of pocket and bring some snacks with as well, so no dining plan. $2534.09

The Jones family wants a moderately priced vacation and are also planning 7 days and 6 nights, but they want to stay at a moderate resort. Their two daughters love Disney princesses so they are considering an upgrade to a royal guest room. They are also going to do 5 days of base tickets but are considering the upgrade to park hoppers to see more with their time. If the Jones family chooses the least expensive package options, their moderate vacation would cost them $2984.45 If they added park hoppers to their tickets, their vacation would cost them $3272.41. And if they wanted to upgrade to a royal room their vacation would cost them $3670.64

The Howell family wants to go all out for their two children’s first Disney World vacation and stay in a deluxe resort for 7 days and 6 nights. They definitely want park hoppers to see everything and they are considering the dining plan. Their preferred resort is Wilderness Lodge but with the construction scheduled, they are going to try out the recently renovated Polynesian resort to have access to Magic Kingdom. and Epcot. With 5 days of park hoppers, their vacation would cost them $5088.16 If they did elect to add the dining plan, their vacation would cost them $6445.40

The bottom line

July is a great time to travel to Disney World for those that don’t have the ability to take time out of school whether it’s your children’s school schedule or maybe a teacher in the family! It can be fun filled and a great way to explore water parks and more during your adventures!!

Start planning your July 2017 vacation

A free gift for your Disney vacation! The amazing and exciting Minnie Box! (subject to minimum vacation package)

A free gift for your Disney vacation! The amazing and exciting Minnie Box! (subject to minimum vacation package)

Ready to get started planning your 2017 Disney World vacation? Please contact me at any time for a free quote. The benefits to using an authorized Disney vacation planner include saving time before and during your vacation with itinerary planning which can help save you hours of standing in line each day. Plus you won’t have to watch for available discounts, research resorts, wake up early for dining reservations, or stay up late for FastPasses. The best part about using a travel planner instead of planning yourself? It’s totally FREE! Plus I’ll take away some of the stress and confusion of planning a Disney vacation (especially if it’s your first one!)It’s also a worry free vacation opportunity. I’ll walk through through all of the steps to the process with a few little insider tips along the way! If you already have your vacation planned and are interested in transferring your vacation, ask me how!

Planning your May 2017 Disney World vacation

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This guide is specifically for guests traveling to Disney World in May 2017 (The rest of the year will come soon if you’re looking to travel later in the year!)

For complete months: January 2017, February 2017, March 2017, April 2017

The early party of May is typically pleasant in terms of crowds. It’s a little window between Easter and Summer! You may see a spike the first weekend in May at value and resorts (and perhaps 1-2 or moderate resorts with a large cheer competition on site). As you get closer to Memorial Day weekend, you’ll see an increase in cost as you get into “summer season”. Memorial Day weekend is the official kick off to summer and you’ll start to see the unofficial increase in crowds.

May weather in Disney World

According to Weather.com the average high in the month of April is 89 and the low is 65. Be sure to check your favorite weather app prior to your departure to confirm actual temperatures before you pack. This can be picture perfect weather for Disney World early in the month but getting HOT toward the end of the month! WI can tell you from personal experience, we’ve had really spot on temperatures in 2016, but completely odd temperatures in 2009 that were well below average.

Choosing Your Travel Dates/Events to be aware ofimg_6989

  • March 1 – May 29 – Epcot’s Flower & Garden Festival. This doesn’t increase the overall day to day crowds in Epcot or in the resorts, however you may see an increase in crowds over the first few days of the Festival with bloggers and excited guests!
  • May 29  – Memorial Day. The kick off to summer – increased crowds and costs.

Special Offers/Promotions

  • No promotional offers will be available at the time of publication. Look toward the end of 2016 or around the first of the year for promotional offers for Spring 2017 (based on historical releases). In previous years, a room discount was offered with an additional day of park tickets at no additional cost!

When to book dining

Dining reservations are available 180 days in advance of your arrival date which means you can bee dining for April can be made as early as November If you have an active package, you’ll have the ability to book dining for your entire length of stay. If you’re inside that mark, you may not see every dining reservation available – especially popular things like character dinners (especially Cinderella’s Table, and Chef Mickey’s) and popular locations like Ohana and Be Our Guest. Don’t let lack of availability worry you, since all Disney dining reservations require a credit card guarantee, cancellations do happen so persistence and patience are key! As we start the month in Spring Break, planning for the incredibly popular locations are often best for later in your trip to secure prime dinner times!

Cost

Disney's Pop Century brings adults back to their childhood!

Disney’s Pop Century brings adults back to their childhood!

So how much will it cost a family of 4 to travel to Disney World in May of 2017? Let’s do the math. Remember these are NON-DISCOUNTED rates so your total could be less than the ones listed below. These travel dates fall BEFORE the official summer rates go into effect (before the week of Memorial Day)

The Smith family wants a fun an inexpensive vacation and are planning 7 days and 6 nights at a value resort. I suggested Pop Century in a preferred room since it’s most centrally located among the value resorts. They are taking mom, dad, Susie – 13 and Jenny – 9 on their first vacation! They have decided on 5 days of base tickets to really focus on one park each day and to save a little bit of money and will pay for meals out of pocket and bring some snacks with as well, so no dining plan. $2447.75

The Jones family wants a moderately priced vacation and are also planning 7 days and 6 nights, but they want to stay at a moderate resort. Their two daughters love Disney princesses so they are considering an upgrade to a royal guest room. They are also going to do 5 days of base tickets but are considering the upgrade to park hoppers to see more with their time. If the Jones family chooses the least expensive package options, their moderate vacation would cost them $2977.34. If they added park hoppers to their tickets, their vacation would cost them $3271.30. And if they wanted to upgrade to a royal room their vacation would cost them $3652.64

The Howell family wants to go all out for their two children’s first Disney World vacation and stay in a deluxe resort for 7 days and 6 nights. They definitely want park hoppers to see everything and they are considering the dining plan. Their preferred resort is Wilderness Lodge but with the construction scheduled, they are going to try out the recently renovated Polynesian resort to have access to Magic Kingdom. and Epcot. With 5 days of park hoppers, their vacation would cost them $5382.89. If they did elect to add the dining plan, their vacation would cost them $6740.15

The bottom line

May is a great time to travel to Disney World if you have flexible travel dates. Early May is one of my favorite times to travel (but lets be honest, I’ll travel ANYTIME when I can) Late in May can be a reasonable time to travel as well – less heat that peak of summer! There is potential for some promotional offers (typical room discounts), so your family can still save a few dollars as well!

Start planning your May 2017 vacation

A free gift for your Disney vacation! The amazing and exciting Minnie Box! (subject to minimum vacation package)

A free gift for your Disney vacation! The amazing and exciting Minnie Box! (subject to minimum vacation package)

Ready to get started planning your 2017 Disney World vacation? Please contact me at any time for a free quote. The benefits to using an authorized Disney vacation planner include saving time before and during your vacation with itinerary planning which can help save you hours of standing in line each day. Plus you won’t have to watch for available discounts, research resorts, wake up early for dining reservations, or stay up late for FastPasses. The best part about using a travel planner instead of planning yourself? It’s totally FREE! Plus I’ll take away some of the stress and confusion of planning a Disney vacation (especially if it’s your first one!)It’s also a worry free vacation opportunity. I’ll walk through through all of the steps to the process with a few little insider tips along the way! If you already have your vacation planned and are interested in transferring your vacation, ask me how!

Small Business Saturday – Why to choose an Authorized Disney Vacation Planner

Happy Small Business Saturday! I first want to say thank you to every single one of my guests who has supported me whether it’s allowing me to help plan your Disney World, Disneyland, or Disney Cruise adventure or referred a friend or family member to me. It has truly been a blessing to work with each of every one of my hundreds of guests whether you found me through a blog or friend, truly, THANK YOU! You have allowed me the opportunity to make magic, enjoy what I do for my job, and allow me to stay home with my amazing and beautiful daughter as well as let me “work” in my favorite places on earth.

I’d also like to make a quick thank you to all of you small business owners. I know very well how difficult things can be and why shopping local is so important! I try to do so whenever possible to pay it forward! Keep on keeping on! If it’s a rough time or a slow time during the holidays, it will bounce back. Keep the faith and stay positive! (this is typically my slowest time of year, so I get it).

Now the big question…why choose an authorized Disney vacation planner to help with your Disney World vacation? There are SO many reasons. I’ve touched on many of them before, but it’s a nice refresher and a reason to “shop small” even when shopping for travel!

Magical Vacations Logo - Landscape

  1. It’s FREE! Yes. F-R-E-E, no strings attached FREE! The price you can find on Disney’s web site is the same that I can pull up for you through Disney’s Travel Agent portal. All travel agents have the exact same cost available to them – we are not allowed to discount or offer “signing” bonuses to you, so it’s all about what your agent can do for you! Yes, we still get paid but it’s after you return home from your trip, so it’s in my best interest as a small business owner to work my butt off to make sure I exceed your expectations in hopes that you’ll recommend me to family and friends. Make sure you choose an agency that is an “authorized Disney vacation planner”. We are held to a very specific set of rules and guidelines governed by Disney which is an additional sense of security for your trip!
  2. It’s a time saver. Do you want to wake up at 6 am eastern time to make dining reservations (or even search through the 80+ menus of the table service restaurants available to you?)? Do you want to research FastPass strategy and get an idea of all of the available attractions to make the best choice and then think about how to organize them in a way to go around the parks and then stay up until midnight to book them all? AND Do you want to constantly monitor Disney’s web site for promotional offers,
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    changes in park hours, or attraction refurbishments leading up to your trip? I’d make a wild guess that most of you will say no to all of these things. THIS is where Magical Vacations makes such a big difference. We are a full service DISNEY ONLY* agency which means we know our stuff and know how to make our guests stays a better overall experience. Did you know that many agencies don’t require their agents to book FastPasses for their guests? At my conference, our group was the only one I found that truly booked everything. Yes, it’s a heck of a lot more time consuming, but it’s a heck of a lot more successful as well! It gives you as the guest an opportunity to follow our daily itineraries to help save you time inside the parks!

  3. It’s less stressful. Going back to all of the points in #2, you have someone here to take away the stress and anxiety of planning a Disney trip. Most guests spend several thousand dollars on your trip. Unless you have someone “in the business”, you wouldn’t spend several thousand dollars on your house to make renovations without talking to someone, would you? So allow me the opportunity to help answer your questions, calm your fears, and allow the true magic of Disney come out!
  4. Knowledge. I consider myself a Disney expert, especially Disney World! I’m rarely stumped by a question related to Disney World and if I am (kudos) and I’ll find you the answer! Did you know that you need to get your flight info to Magical Express before your departure? Did you know that getting a FastPass for Anna & Elsa is usually only available at the 60 day mark prior to your arrival (sometimes gone within a few minutes of that important midnight time frame?) Do you know of special events going on during your stay? I’m here to help with all of this knowledge and imparting it in a way that is not overwhelming in little bits and bites culminating in a gift for your family shortly before your departure.
  5. The Minnie Box. This is our unique gift to you and is unique to our agency! It was created and trademarked by our Magical Vacations owner and gives you the excitement of opening your big yellow bow like a present right before you arrive for your vacation! As Disney went “paperless” with the introduction of MyMagic+, there’s nothing much you receive directly from Disney to get you excited. While every Disney vacation is exciting, the Minnie Box just adds a little something extra!!
  6. Being in the middle of the magic! Will you remember the work that Ellie minniewent into planning your vacation and things that went wrong if you spend hours upon hours pouring over blogs, online information, and doing independent research? Probably! What Disney is truly about is the MAGIC! Remembering your child’s first meeting with a character – beeping Minnie Mouse’s nose, giving a big hug to goofy! Having the best meal of your life in one of Disney’s signature dining locations, or seeing the tears in your mother’s eyes as she watches Wishes fireworks with you. It’s those magical moments that I do what I do and not for the money! I’ve gotten asked to return to my office job more than once and I won’t do it because I love the magic making!

*Little asterisk to Disney only – We are also authorized to book Universal Orlando as it is becoming a big player in the area market so we also have training and authorization to help with a little bit beyond Disney!

A free gift for your Disney vacation! The amazing and exciting Minnie Box! (subject to minimum vacation package)

A free gift for your Disney vacation! The amazing and exciting Minnie Box! (subject to minimum vacation package)

Interested in experiencing a Disney World (Disneyland or Disney Cruise) vacation in 2017?  Please contact me at any time for a free quote. The benefits to using an authorized Disney vacation planner include saving time before and during your vacation with itinerary planning which can help save you hours of standing in line each day. Plus you won’t have to watch for available discounts, research resorts, wake up early for dining reservations, or stay up late for FastPasses. The best part about using a travel planner instead of planning yourself? It’s totally FREE! Plus I’ll take away some of the stress and confusion of planning a Disney vacation (especially if it’s your first one!)It’s also a worry free vacation opportunity. I’ll walk through through all of the steps to the process with a few little insider tips along the way! If you already have your vacation planned and are interested in transferring your vacation, ask me how! Thank you so much for supporting my small business!!

Friday Five: 5 Favorite Mickey Meet and Greets at Walt Disney World

It’s the big cheese’s birthday – Happy birthday Mickey! In his honor, today’s Friday Five is all about where to find him and the best ways to meet him whether it’s a character experience inside the park or a dining location! Here are our top 5 with assistance from my favorite Mouseketeer – my 3 year old daughter!

  1. Mickey at Town Square Theater in Magic Kingdom. For anyone that has experienced this, it’s not a townsquaremickey
    surprise that it’s our number 1 choice. It’s a great way to ease your new to Disney World kiddos to meeting characters. Why? Because HE TALKS!! It’s truly the most magical experience and perfect for kids young and old. Moms – grab the tissues because I can tell you get a little teary almost every time. I can also tell you we’ve played with Mickey at least 15 times and I’ve had a different experience every time. He’s also got a different experience for children vs. adult groups so it’s a fun interaction no matter what your age!
  2. Epcot Character Spot in Epcot. This fun location has a meet and greet with Mickey, Minnie, and Pluto in their more classic attire. We love it because it’s a relaxed, air conditioned area that has a fun theme backdrop and the characters are always warm and welcoming! It’s a don’t miss img_6270experience for  us when we hit Epcot!
  3. The first character DINING experience on the list and it’s not as well thought about as many others – Garden Grill in Epcot. This location now serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner with Mickey (dressed as a Farmer), Pluto, and Chip and Dale coming around to visit! The food here is good and the character interaction is quite good as well. Chip and dale are full of mischief. We actually like booking a late breakfast because it’s often fairly empty during that time of day which means more time with the main man for us!
  4. Adventures Outpost in Animal Kingdom. One of the few places to see Mickey in Animal Kingdom is at Adventures Outpost where Minnie and Mickey are ready to head on their very own safari. Unique attire make this location fun but watch out – lines can get long mid-day with its proximity to Expedition Everest. It makes for a great “split” for families with little ones that don’t measure up for or are too scared for one of Disney’s bigger coasters.

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    Mickey taking some time to doodle on a photo of himself at Garden Grill!

  5. Sorcerer Mickey in Hollywood Studios. Hit the Red Carpet – Mickey is ready for his close up inside Disney’s Hollywood Studios. With his Sorcerer robes and hat, it’s another unique experience that everyone can enjoy. With the current construction work going on in this park as well as this meet and greet’s location, we often don’t find the line very long so it’s an easy way to sneak in an extra Mickey hug!

What’s your favorite place to meet Mickey? If you want your first hug from Mickey or are just missing the main mouse, let’s plan your 2017 Disney World adventure! Please contact me at any time for a free quote. The benefits to using an agent that is

A free gift for your Disney vacation! The amazing and exciting Minnie Box! (subject to minimum vacation package)

A free gift for your Disney vacation! The amazing and exciting Minnie Box! (subject to minimum vacation package)

part of authorized Disney vacation planner include saving time before and during your vacation with itinerary planning which can help save you hours of standing in line each day. Plus you won’t have to watch for available discounts, research resorts, wake up early for dining reservations, or stay up late for FastPasses. The best part about using a travel planner instead of planning yourself? It’s totally FREE! Plus I’ll take away some of the stress and confusion of planning a Disney vacation (especially if it’s your first one!) It’s also a worry free vacation opportunity. I’ll walk through through all of the steps to the process with a few little insider tips along the way! If you already have your vacation planned and are interested in transferring your vacation, ask me how!