Friday Five: 5 attractions that are better in Disneyland vs. Disney World

 

With Dawn and me both in the Disneyland resort for the next several days, I’d love to talk about 5 attractions that are similar on both coasts and why the are better in Disneyland. Disneyland is definitely worth the trip to the left coast. It’s a condensed version of the Disney World and a little less stressful and complicated than it’s east coast younger sister! In no particular order:

  1. its a small world. This attraction is available on both coasts, but the version in Disneyland is longer, more elaborate and far superior. During the holiday season (early November through New Years), it gets turned into its a small world holiday so you don’t have the earworm song over and over and over! It’s a very cute overlay of the original attraction!
  2. Pirates of the Caribbean. Another attraction that is longer in Disneyland with more elaborate costuming and better lighting with some additional scenes. This attraction was not originally planned to come to Walt Disney World but with the popularity of the experience in Anaheim, the popular vote won out! With the recent refurbishment at Disney World, the lighting is better, but the DL experiences still wins out Fun Fact: On both coasts the big flume in the attraction is used to go under existing/immovable structures. A great little “fix”!
  3. Autopia/Tomorrowland Speedway. Have the need for speed? This attraction is for you…sort of.  While the cars go a whopping 7 miles per hour, the theming of the Disneyland version is far superior. Disney World could use a revamp of their cars to make the attraction more exciting to kids of all ages. While this doesn’t have big “adult” appeal, it’s still a favorite!
  4. Haunted Mansion. While the version in Disney World is a bit longer, the overlay of Haunted Mansion Holiday where Jack Skellington takes over the attraction making it a bit more whimsical than the more dark and ghoulish than the everyday attraction. It also makes the line astronomically longer. Still a must see as a unique experience as the cast members take a lot of time to put their personal touches and decorate.
  5. Fantasmic! If you are familiar with the Disney World version, you’ve only seen about 60% of what makes the Disneyland version great! There’s better action and it’s on a more grand scale at DL. While I consider the show a “must do” for guests that have never seen the show while in Hollywood Studios, it’s not a must do for us every time my family is in Disney World. In DL on the other hand, it’s 100% worth the experience!
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 either a Disney World or Disneyland vacation in 2016?  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 (Disney World specific). 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!

Friday Five: 5 must try Disney World treats

  
Happy Halloween! It’s time for trick or treat. Don’t be scared; I’m just going to talk anout treats today. Disney World treats that is. Five of my favorites all of which can be used as a snack credit for all of you using a dining plan. 

1. Cupcakes. Seriously, cupcakes everywhere! Many resorts have their own unique cupcake and most bakeries also have unique options. My favorites? Starring Rolls in Hollywood Studios and anything from Contempo Cafe in Contemporary resort! My favorite is the cupcake cup with Cheshire cafe in Magic Kingdom. The perfect amount of frosting!!

2. Zebra Domes. You’ll have to go out of your way to Boma in Animal Kingdom Lodge for these but worth the trip. They are also available at The Mara for a quick service credit. Even my foodie husband said they live up to the hype!

3. Dole Whip. This cold pineapple treat is a Disney original. On a hot day, its a good way to cool off. While its not my most favorite treat it’s still a must do treat to try!!

4. Carrot Cake Cookie at Writer’s Stop in Hollywood Studios. With the changes coming to this park in the next few years, I don’t know what will happen to this great dessert! 2 soft carrot cake cookies with a cream cheese frosting like center. Something I never want to share!

5. Anything at Les Halles Boulangerie & Patisserie. Creme Brulee, napoleons, chocolate tarts, and more. There’s an endless number of possibilities at this location. While World Showcase doesn’t open until 11 am, this lication is open for breakfast. It’s a long walk from the front entrace of the park but a great option if you are staying at one of the Epcot area resorts!

When I would travel to Disney World in 2016

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I hate crowds. I hate waiting in line, but I really truly love everything about Walt Disney World! So how do I stand going year in and year out (sometimes more than once in a year)? Plan to travel during lower crowd times to limit my waiting and of course plan FastPasses accordingly. While there’s not such thing as the “perfect” week, there’s a perfect week for you between breaks from school or work, getting away from winter, etc. So the question begs, when would I go to Disney World if I were planning a 2016 vacation? Here are my top choices!

  • January 9-15, 2016 (while this is between the Marathon and MLK Jr. weekend, the middle of the week is quiet). Weather during this time of year is mild so not big for swimming and you’ll see some attraction closures, crowds should be quite low!
  • January 20 – February 11, 2016 (this is the “low” season for Disney. Off peak travel plus the bonus of a dining discount/promotional offer. Most kids are back in school after winter break and parents would rather not take them out again; It’s a great way to get away from winter!)
  • February 21 – March 5, 2016 (another block of time that is more off peak travel. Comparing costs to the weeks at the end of January, it’s a bit more, however crowd wise it’s quite similar. Weather should be a little warmer during this time so you may get some quality swimming time or even a little bit of a tan!)
  • April 5 – May 19th, 2016 (this is a HUGE spring block of time and a time my family travels quite often. I like toward the end of April  but with an early Easter this year, much of April is quality park touring time with low crowds. Weather is pleasant and during the afternoons, we enjoy our resort pool while crowds the heaviest in the park! This is peak time for Epcot Flower & Garden Festival which has become a mini Food & Wine Festival)
  • August 24 – September 23, 2016 (This is the best of “fall”. Lowest prices of the year, often lowest crowds – 2015 saw an increase in crowds even during this time of year, but it should still be mild compared to the remainder of the year; With many schools going to a fall break toward the end of September and into October, the closer you get to the end of September, the bigger the crowd levels tend to be – HOWEVER it’s still a better option over summer and holidays. You get Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Parties toward the middle of September and summer like heat for those that like the warm temperatures. Beware of weather – it’s the rainy season and also peak hurricane season!)
  • October 20 – November 3, 2016 (With the intensity of free dining over the last couple of years, this is some of the last “good” fall time to travel. I worry about the fall travelers this year with larger than expected crowds based on availability dining reservations – it could be that people are being unscrupulous and booking many, many, MANY more dining reservations than they need; Many families like to be home for Halloween – for me I’d rather be in Disney)
  • November 27 – December 14, 2016 (this is the the best time for the “holiday” season travel; You’re post Thanksgiving crowds but still enjoyable in terms of  weather and crowds. You have Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas party and all of the holiday decor and events around the theme parks. It’s the most wonderful time of the year! Weather is mild but not often too cold).

So if I had to choose one set of dates, what would it be? That’s a hard one. If I’m going for weather, I’d go April, if I’m going for special events, I’d go October and if I’m going for atmosphere or a special occasion, I’d go December! We’ve traveled to Disney at pretty much every time of year and I’d go back to almost any time of year again! There’s truly no wrong time to go to 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)

Ready to get started planning your 2016 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!) 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!

Magical Monday Tips: Nighttime is the Best Time at Disney!

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We learned a little trick a few years ago to help with the heat and the crowds in the parks – go at night. Thankfully, our kids are awesome and they can deal with the changes to schedule. They are 8 and 11 now but we did this when they were 4 and 7 as well – we just had a stroller then and I would leave with the little one around midnight and let the other 2 have fun until 1:00am or later. I completely understand that some children cannot do this and trust me- I am a mother who believes in a strict bedtime for mine but vacation is vacation! Our main goal is to have FUN!!

On our first day, we usually get in late afternoon/evening and hit Magic Kingdom (everyone’s fav) until the park closes and the later, the better. Now of course we can accomplish this goal because we can take full advantage of the Magic Hours that are only for Disney Resort guests who stay on property. I have stayed off and on property and between the parking fees, traffic and headaches I truly believe that staying on property is a more cost effective and has such stress free advantages – plus it’s where all the MAGIC is!! The bus transportation has become so much more effective in the last year and I don’t even mind using it now (that says a lot) so that being said; the buses, boats and monorails are another plus to staying on property.

Sorry – back on track….we sleep late, do a character brunch around 11:00am and then off to a park for a few hours, back to the hotel for a pool/nap break and then hit another park later for dinner before a parade/fireworks to close it down for the day. I think we have more Memory Maker pictures taken in the dark than we do during daylight hours.

MK_PFTHBLUEC1CHAR_7258351032However, we love it because one, it is sooooo much cooler at night and two, everyone else leaves to go to bed and get up early for the parks. The elusive Anna & Elsa Meet n Greet that is a normal 90 minute plus wait (without a FP) we just walked into and went straight to them – of course this was at 1:00AM so not for everyone but my 11 year old daughter was ecstatic. We usually are able to ride Space Mountain (for example) and then get right back on again numerous times – it’s so much fun!

Disney World can be so overwhelming and frustrating if you are not knowledable of certain things/ideas and I tell all my clients that they will not see or do everything there in one trip! I have been well over 30+ times and have yet to have eaten or done everything there. It is not feasible in one stay and people get so frustrated. So don’t stress out and let me help you plan your next visit of Disney FUN!   Please contact me at any time for a free quote or use the form below. 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!) If you already have your vacation planned and are interested in transferring your vacation, please feel free to use the contact form below.

A day in the life of a travel planner

Waking up this morning, I had every intention of finally working on the May 2016 blog for late spring travelers, but today has just been one of those bad days where nothing seems to be going right. If you’re a regular reader of my blogs, you’ll know that both Dawn and I typically keep it pretty travel focused and don’t do a ton of insight into personal lives of our families. Today I need a bit of an outlet after a rough few weeks! We’ve been renovating our kitchen since 4th of July weekend. It’s been coming close to having everything done but after a few set backs we’re still waiting on the final pieces until we can truly say its done. Like all big home projects, they cost more than we expected it to. Any homeowner can attest to that statement whether you have someone help you with the project or are a big DIY-ers!

I digress. I’ve gotten an influx of requests from friends, family, and even previous guests about what I do and how to get into it lately, so I figure now is a good of a time as any to explain what a day in my shoes looks like.

Depending on the day I’m either awake at 4:55 am to book dining for guests that are reaching their 180 day mark or I get to “sleep in” until about 6:30 when my daughter comes running into the room yelling “HI MOMMY! UP PLEASE!!” Whenever I get up, I check email, respond to as much as humanly possible and then get up with her. We eat breakfast, play a bit and sometimes I get a shower in! Sometimes I don’t because a barrage of emails come in and I have fires to put out.

We use the mornings to play outside, run errands – Target, grocery store, an occasional trip to the zoo and then come back home for lunch. After lunch for both of us, it’s a little time to snuggle (while I check email from my phone and I try to clean up any toddler toy explosions that happened that morning) and then off for her nap time. Some days I think about a nap for myself but typically I have too much on the to do list like laundry, cleaning up the house, dishes, and just keeping up with client emails and requests pretty much takes up all the time while she’s napping.

Most of the sometimes 2 hours or less I get of toddler free time is spent making phone calls to Disney – room requests, making sure multiple parties are put together in the resort, adding flight information for Magical Express, and fixing IT issues that come up. Sometimes there are holds and wait times and sometimes I get lucky since I’m calling toward the middle of the day when the part timers are at work.

After my work time is over and the toddler alarm sounds, it’s time to play again and for snack time. If it’s nice outside we play in the sand, take a walk, swim in her little toddler pool, etc. If it’s crummy or super hot, we stay inside and chase after our 2 dogs in the house. Then it’s time to make dinner which is difficulty with a picky toddler who doesn’t really eat anything right now. Thankfully daddy is home from work so he can play a little bit while I catch up on a few more emails or answer a phone call. I try and have some evening time to chat with people who work full time.

After bath and bed time, it’s back to work for me and I typically work from 8-10 pm each night working on paperwork, itineraries for guests traveling in the next few weeks, answering any additional emails, and prepping for the next days events (whether it’s FastPass selecting or dining).

If I’m lucky, a FastPass and dining date won’t be on the same day – those days are long! Up at 5 am and staying awake past 11 pm. If I’m even luckier, I’ll be able to get that Be Our Guest dinner the dining guest wants and the Anna & Elsa meet and greet the FastPass guest is hoping for. Sometimes that doesn’t always work out and I have to send emails that disappoints both the adults and the kids in the party which is the my least favorite part about what I do.

I don’t say any of this to make you feel sorry for me for the job that I do. I truly love what I do and I’m so happy I get to call this “work”. At the same time, it’s not as glamorous as it seems from the outside. Yes I get to talk about Disney a lot, but on the same side, I don’t really get days off. I deal with constant issues with Disney’s online system.It always seems to be something – dining isn’t available at 6 am eastern on the dot, the system crashes right before FastPass time, My Disney Experience won’t let me log in, the travel agent web site isn’t searching and Stitch ate the page AGAIN. It’s those little things that I save guests from on a daily basis – the unspoken, unwritten pieces of the puzzle that make the difference because the guest hopefully sees a seamless plan put into place based on their specific requests. I think every job I’ve had is like this. The unwritten, unnoticed stuff are the things that make the biggest difference and it’s only noticed when it doesn’t happen anymore. My old coworkers can attest to that (in fact, one of them is a current guest as well so he knows very well that the work ethic from my previous job has made it to this one).

I really do love what I do. I’m thankful every day that I get to play with my daughter and laugh with her and enjoy life at home. I’m thankful that I can work in my PJs and stay home when it’s snowing or freezing outside. I’m thankful I get to watch her grow from a baby to a little girl and that’s what is really important in life. My trivial trials and tribulations well come and go and Disney’s web glitches will as well. Problems from Monday are essentially a thing of the past.

Thanks to everyone who has trusted me with their family memories and vacation dreams. I do work hard to make sure you have a magical vacation but don’t sweat the small stuff. You’ll still have a great vacation even if you can’t eat dinner at Be Our Guest or meet Anna & Elsa with a FastPass. The family is what’s truly important.

This kind of morphed into a random blabbering of my emotions, but I’m still going to hit the post button because family, Disney and life are all important to me! Thanks for reading and going on my little emotional roller coaster today!

Friday Five: 5 Things you that should be on your Disney World packing list

So it’s time to start thinking about packing list. Are you checking it twice? Well see if these things are on your list. While not a necessity, things I find very helpful during our many stays at Disney World:

1. A portable/mini phone charger. You’re not going to find very many outlets to plug in that smart phone, and the My Disney Experience app kills battery life. Invest in a small phone charger. We spent a few more dollars on an upgraded version which was well worth the money and will charge multiple phones in the same day (and even at the same time). It doesn’t help that I work while on vacation as well which also kills my overall battery life!

2. A backpack. Even if you’re not traveling with children, it’s nice to have some basics in a small backpack or sling bag – ponchos, water (and more water if it’s hot or humid out), an extra pair of socks or sandals in case of rain, and a few snacks (big kids get hungry too!) Find a bag with only a few pouches or zippers as you’ll need to go through security every time you enter a park. Make it easy on them and you so they don’t have too many places to look in. Make sure the bag is comfortable as well. If you’re going to wear it for most of the day, make sure the straps fit well. If you do have a lot to bring with you to the parks, maybe a strap around the waist to offset some of the weight would be helpful too!

3. Gum. I’ve said it once, I’ll say it again. Disney does not sell gum on their property. Bring it with you if it’s important!

4. Athletic shoes/sneakers. As a woman, I understand wanting to go for fashion over comfort and flip flops definitely do it in every day life for me, but not at Disney! Wear those tennis shoes and wear them proud. You won’t be limping or using up all of your band aids early in your trip or feeling uncomfortable the rest of your trip. It also saves you feet if they get stepped on or rolled over by a stroller by accident. I’m not against a nice pair of shoes for a dinner out, but for the bulk of your day, bring those comfortable sneakers! I usually bring 2 pairs in case I start to get a blister or if the first pair gets wet from rain.

5. MagicBands. This one probably goes without saying, but your MagicBands are your key to everything while in Disney parks. They are your park entry, room key, method of payment,dining plan credits, and more. Don’t forget them!! If you’re flying, make sure they are on your carry on bags to help expedite your Magical Express transfers.

And as a little bonus since I’ve been lacking in the Friday 5 department…5 things to leave at home (as they are not allowed in Disney parks):

1. Selfie Sticks (a new development and this girl is SUPER happy about it). I don’t want to get smacked in the face with one while riding Big Thunder Mountain Railroad

2. Wagons. Only strollers are allowed in Disney parks. If you try and bring in a wagon, it will be taken by guest services until you are ready to depart.

3. Glass containers. Glass of any kind is not allowed in Disney parks. You can bring in your own water bottles or refillable container. Make sure it is plastic!

4. Alcohol. If you want to bring it on your trip, it has to stay in your room. No alcohol is allowed inside the parks unless you purchase it there.

5. Bad attitudes. This one is of course a choice, but your’e in DISNEY! It’s a happy and magical place. Embrace it! Have fun and enjoy your time there!

Until next time friends…Happy FRIDAY and enjoy the weekend!!

Friday Five: 5 Great Disney World souvenir ideas

Five Disney World sounvenir ideas that won't break the bank

No matter who you are, I don’t think anyone can resist a vacation souvenir, especially when your vacation destination is Disney World. Today’s Friday FIVE is a selection of 5 great souvenir ideas that are both fun and functional!

1. EARS! The true measure of Disney vacation swag! While they are not super functional when you get home, my daughter loves to wear hers around the house and we take family ear pictures randomly at holidays! Whether you just hang them on a hook, it’s bound to make you smile and remember that you had a great vacation!

2. Mr. Potato Head Parts Yes. Mr. Potato Head! You can get unique Disney parts from Once Upon a Toy in Downtown Disney. For $19.95 (plus tax) you can fill a box with as many parts an accessories that you can. A little tip – we bought our standard potato from Amazon for under $15 so we can fill the box with just accessories and not the potato which takes up a ton of space. Darth Potato (as suggested by my husband) is my favorite! It’s the gift that keeps on giving since they are always adding and changing what is available.

3. Souvenir cups Whether it’s a souvenir mug at a dining location or just purchasing a refillable mug, it’s something useful! I love my Mickey coffee mug! It’s used almost every single day (unless its in the dishwasher). The resort refillable mug is a great cup for coffee in the car or a smoothie. And don’t forget about Mickey straws too!

4. Clothing Shirts, hats, aprons, oh my! I think I buy an article of clothing every time I go to Disney. Last time it was because I didn’t pack enough clothes, but that’s a minor detail! Plus Disney World attire is a conversation starter while I’m out and about. A little bit of a business builder for me!

5. A bag We bought a shoulder bag and turned it into a toddler diaper bag. A bright red bag with polka dots and Mickey heads. It’s one of my favorite purchases. Once my little out outgrows the need for a diaper bag, it will most definitely get repurposes to my lap top bag! There are also backpacks, purses, and even Dooney & Bourke bags! There’s something for everyone!