Choosing your Disney Cruise Line Stateroom

So you’ve made the plunge (no pun intended) to a new adventure of a Disney Cruise! Well congratulations. It’s one of my favorite Disney destinations for so many reasons. The relaxation, fun, level of service, adventure, food, and more! So now comes the most difficult part – choosing your stateroom! With so many options with so many reasons for choosing a room, it can be confusing! So let’s unravel this piece of travel! As always, if you have questions of what may be best for your family, pleas don’t hesitate to contact me!

FIRST: How many staterooms do you need? If it’s just one, your possibilities are fairly endless! If you need more than one and you’d like to have a connecting room, it may limit your choices based on how early you book your DCL Piratecruise.

SECOND: Your concerns with motion sickness. Do you or anyone in your traveling party have a concern Truly, I can get motion sick on a windy day on flat ground and I can’t do coasters, but I can enjoy a Disney cruise with some over the counter meds. Consult your doctor or medical professional on what may be best for you. I won’t speak of any specific meds – I’m not a medical professional myself! If you have concerns with motion sickness, staying toward the middle of the ship is best. You’ll read all sorts of guest feedback that higher decks are better or lower decks are better. I can’t say if one is “best” but being toward the middle of the ship where there is less movement in general, will save you any trouble. For longer voyages – Eastern and Western Caribbean for example, aft rooms can feel some vibration when the ship is going full speed (we only really noticed it while in the bars and lounges on our last sailing but we had a more forward stateroom). That being said, many guests with concern for motion sickness prefer aft over forward rooms.

THIRD: Get to know the ship and what each stateroom offers. Standard inside rooms are going to be the smallest. If you have a concern with enclosed spaces, you’ll want to skip inside staterooms. You’ll have no window or way to see the outside world. On the Disney Fantasy and Disney Dream, you’ll have a magical porthole that is attached to a camera so it looks like a window. It’s a sense of calming but not the same as having a big porthole window in your room.

Oceanview rooms give you that view to the outside – with either 1 large porthole or 2 small portholes, you’ll have a way to see where you’re coming and going! For some people it’s enough. Be careful of these rooms as  many of them are on the forward and aft of the ship (the ends) and feel more motion than you would if you were mid-ship! Also beware of “slanted” portholes for Oceanview rooms. These are more like skylights than the ability to look out a window!

Your next tier of rooms are verandah rooms (rooms with a balcony). These are for guests that need a private way to smell the fresh air! Many of these rooms are more mid-ship but you’ll find some forward and aft so they are not all created equal. Some lower cost verandah rooms have navigator’s verandahs which are smaller than average or verandahs with whitewall which means you wouldn’t have clear plexiglass type material that you can see the crashing waves while seated in the chairs on your verandah.

Confused yet? This is why I have my job because it is confusing!!

So now that you’ve figured out the type of stateroom you’d like, it’s time to look at which deck you’d like to be on! This varies by ship of course, but a few basics of every ship:

  • Health Center on deck 1
  • Main lobby/atrium on deck 3
  • Main dining locations on dimg_7085ecks 2-4 (depending on the ship)
  • Walt Disney Theater on decks 4-5 (balcony is on deck 5)
  • Buena Vista Theater (feature films) on deck 5
  • Oceaneer’s Club (kids club for ages 3-12) on deck 5
  • Spa & Pool Deck – last full deck (on the Magic and the Wonder – deck 9; on the Fantasy and the Dream – deck 11)

So now that you know where all of these things are, there are 2 questions – what locations are most important to you? It’s often fastest to travel by stairs to get to many locations – especially after a deck party, dinner service is ending, or a show is letting out. Elevators truly take forever! We’ve hiked up from deck 3 following dinner all the way up to deck 11 for the Pirates Deck Party and my quads were definitely burning. If you’re planning on spending most of your time in the pool, you won’t want a stateroom on deck 2 or if you think you’ll be planning on dropping your 5 year old at the Oceaneer’s Club on a daily basis, deck 10 is probably not ideal! The steps on all of the staircases are small, so 2-3 flights is very manageable but more than that starts to get tiring (especially with little kid legs in tow!)

A few things to be aware of as you consider all of these locations:

  • If you are on a specialty cruise or a cruise with a movie primEAR, you may have late night events in the Walt Disney Theater. Noise can easily carry into the staterooms in deck 5 and rooms directly above on deck 6. On standard sailings, most shows are done by 10 pm and live shows don’t typically cause problems (it’s more the vibration of movies that guests notice)
  • Rooms on 5 aft may have additional traffic with guests walking past to check kids in for Oceaneer’s Club and rooms right above the Oceaneer’s Club on deck 6 may have noise from open to close of the club (which has pretty wide hours – typically 9 am – 12 am daily).
  • Rooms below the pool deck may have some additional noise. Additionally, be aware of the buffet restaurant on the Dream & Fantasy on deck 11. For early risers, it’s a location to grab breakfast and coffee. I’ve heard resorts of guests on deck 10 aft hearing chairs being pushed and pulled around the deck above them that woke them from sleep.
  • I always love to start with deck 7 if availability allows on any of the 4 ships but choose what is available and what your budget allows!

That’s a brief overview of staterooms! Disney is known for their layout of rooms with families in mind so in most staterooms you’ll see split bathrooms – with the shower and a sink in one door and a separate compartment for the toilet and sink allowing 2 guests to get ready at the same time. Where space is a commodity, it’s a nice addition! These rooms are not available in accessible rooms or standard inside staterooms – so if this type of space is important, please know what you are booking.

What about guarantee (GTY, IGT, OGT, VGT rooms)?

What are these rooms and are they for you? These rooms will pop up when Disney feels like a sailing is “underbooked”. It offers a guaranteed minimum room type. You’ll see these guaranteed rooms listed as “guaranteed room with restrictions” and can be in the inside, oceanview, or verandah categories. You’ll be given a room guaranteed at minimum in the lowest tier of that room category and your room will be assigned as your sail date comes closer. This is a nice way to get your cruise at a slightly discounted rate but gives you little control over where your stateroom is, so there is some risk involved. Rooms may be available on party size as well – for example, these guaranteed rooms may pop up for a family of 3 but not a family of 4 based on the number of rooms left in the category. You may be assigned a higher category room – so you could book an oceanview room and find yourselves in a verandah room. Do not book a lower restricted fare in hopes of an upgrade. It’s not a common occurrence. Book in the category that best works for your family! I can’t stress that enough!

Some important notes about these restricted fares – full payment is required in full at the time of booking and is non-refundable and sail date and stateroom category changes are not permitted. You are truly at the mercy of Disney, but it may be a way for someone who has enjoyed a 4-5 night sailing and wants a 7 night sailing but just cannot afford the cost of the longer sailing!

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)

The process of booking a Disney cruise can be VERY confusing, so let a professional help you! 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! Plus you won’t have to watch for any possible rate drops, research everything there is to offer, or keep track of milestone dates for any “extras” you want during your voyage.  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 cruise planned and are interested in transferring your vacation, ask me how!

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Planning your June 2017 Disney World vacation

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This guide is specifically for guests traveling to Disney World in June 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 means summer season is officially in full swing with schools out around the country by mid-June. You may catch a little “break” in the action in early June, but don’t expect September crowds!  In terms of pricing, you’ll see a similar dollar value no matter what the week. Weather earlier in the month will be a bit less humid than at the end but eitherway, still hot so it will take a little bit longer getting around (at least me because this old bones can’t move in 90 degrees like I can move in 70 degrees!)

June weather in Disney World

According to Weather.com the average high in the month of June is 92 and the low is 66. 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

  • “Gay Days” an unofficial Disney event “hosts” a day at each Disney theme park one day during late May into early June. Be aware of their schedule as you plan yours!
  • 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 bee dining for June can be made as early as December 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 June 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

June 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 June 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,
    Some

    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!

Beyond Burgers: Unique Quick Service locations at Walt Disney World

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As a fan of any of Disney’s dining plans, we know our way around the menu! In fact, we’ve challenged ourselves to not eat any sort of  “theme park food” during our stays which include chicken fingers, burgers, and hot dogs. Surprisingly, it’s easier than I expected it to be if you know where to look! So today we’re going beyond burgers around Walt Disney World.

And where else to start but with the most difficult park – The Magic Kingdom. Magic Kingdom is best known for being the family friendly park. It’s a crowd favorite and therefore I think it tries to cater to the masses which means a lot of basic menu items and a lot of kid friendly items. If you want to avoid that theme park food experience, check out…

  • Pecos Bill Tall Tale Inn – a new Mexican style flair which is going a year strong and something that was definitely needed in a park full of burgers. Combine that with the toppings bar and you can easily have a meal for 2 with just 1 quick service credit.
  • Be Our Guest – This would be at breakfast or lunch ONLY since dinner is table service. And a big note – this is the only quick service location that requires reservations so advanced planning is needed here!
  • Columbia Harbour House – with things like Fish and Chips and Lobster Rolls, it’s a unique menu and located toward the “middle” of the park so it’s fairly easily accessible from anywhere!

From the most difficult, to the easiest…over to Epcot! With ethnic flairs around World Showcase and even running into a location in Future World, there’s a lot to be had here! It’s a place I wouldn’t plan for too many sit down meals because quick service is delicious and gives you more time to explore fun new and old as well as a lot of great characters!

  • If you’re in Future World, check out Sunshine Seasons on the first floor of the Land Pavilion. This is the same location you’ll find Soarin’ and Living with the Land so if you plan your FastPasses accordingly, you can Soar around the World and then have a great meal!
  • If you find yourself in World Showcase without a dining reservation, check out Mexico, China, Morocco, England, Japan, and my favorite – France for unique menu items without a burger or fry in sight!

Hollywood Studios is another park that is similar to Magic Kingdom with many locations serving burgers and fries, but there are a few unique options!

  • The new PizzeRizzo opens this week with pizzas, pastas and a meatball sub that looks really amazing!
  • Starring Rolls is a great option for those with the a sweet tooth – while there are not a ton of quick service menu items, it’s a great way to find a sweet treat after you’re done with your lunch or dinner!
  • Fairfax Fare has the most unique menu items with ribs and BBQ pork recently added to the menu. It’s a great little stop on your way over to Fantasmic – you can bring food in!

Most of Animal Kingdom‘s food is unique so you’ll happily find flavor and beyond burgers all over the park. Some highlights for me:

  • Flame Tree BBQ – You’ll see this well rated by guests across Disney blogs. Good BBQ, fresh flavors, and a nice view!
  • Harambe Market – Another newer location in Disney World – you’ll find African spices and more unique menu items we’d happily go back for!
  • Yak & Yeti Counter Service – This is actually my favorite choice in Animal Kingdom. It’s a taste of the table service location with portion sizes that are more comfortable for my stomach (anyone that follows me knows that we often share meals at table service and quick service location when it’s possible so it’s a nice medium that would allow us to share if we’re not really hungry but lets eat our own portion if we didn’t have a big breakfast!)

Outside of the parks, Disney Springs has a plethora of unique options!

  • Earl of Sandwich – great for folks not on a dining plan because the price point is very reasonable by Disney Standards
  • Along the same lines, Blaze Pizza. We have one locally so it’s not a location we will frequent in Disney but the food is good, reasonably priced, and can be shared quite easily!
  • Wolfgang Puck Express has good pasta and pizza options with massive portion sizes!

BUT let’s not forget about the resorts! While all resorts have their own take on dining with unique themes based on location, there are some that are a cut above the rest – no pun intended!

  • Art of Animation’s Landscape of Flavors is somewhere we’ll go no matter where we stay. It’s worth the trip! I could easily eat a few menu items on a daily basis and my husband loves that there are some Indian inspired dishes on the menu!
  • The Mara at Animal Kingdom Lodge. This is another location that gives some African spices and flavors to the menu items. There’s a great BBQ flatbread on the menu that we would happily eat multiple times in a single trip! It’s a bit of a hike, but if you’re staying at Animal Kingdom Lodge or Villas, it’s worth checking out!
  • Contempo Cafe in Contemporary Resort. A quick hop skip and a monorail ride away from Magic Kingdom, it’s a great place to dine outside of MK if you want a break or if you want some good food. Hot and cold sandwiches, flatbreads, and salads are all good!
  • Capt’n Cooks in Polynesian Village. Similar to Contemporary – a quick monorail ride away and a nice break from the parks. Nachos, adult grilled cheese, and unique Polynesian style means available and it’s a great rest break from what can be a long day at Magic Kingdom!
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)

Are you up for the beyond burger challenge in Disney World? It’s actually easier than you think! Bon appetit! 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 agent that is 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!

Two vacations in one: Disney World & Disney Cruise Line

landandsea

One if by land, two if by sea. Disney World and Disney Cruise Line can be two amazing vacations in one. If you’re already making the trip to the Orlando area, why not extend your trip an extra few nights and end your adventure with the magic and relaxation of a Disney Cruise?

Is this type of vacation for me?

It could be for ANY family, but in my experience, this “taste” of Disney Cruise Line is good for a few different types of groups (but is not limited t0):

  • Families that are “veterans” of Walt Disney World but don’t want to give up their favorite theme park IMG_7136experiences. They can relive some of their favorite pieces of their Disney World vacation and experience anything that is new in a few short nights and then move to the relaxation, pampering, and magic of a Disney cruise and keep all of the wonderful level of service Disney offers across all of their products
  • Families that have a bit of an objection to the Disney World experience. Those that aren’t sold on the theme park experience will more likely be interested to “endure” the parks to be able to enjoy the cruise experience!
  • Families that are a bit concerned on how someone will handle a cruise. A 3 or 4 night cruise is a great starter cruise option. It’s a great way to try out a cruise and see if everyone does well with the motion of the ship. For most people (including me) that can get motion sick on a windy day on dry land, it’s not an issue with a little bit of motion sickness medicine )!
  • Multi-generational families traveling together. It gives everyone a taste of their kind of magic. Grandma and grandpa may enjoy seeing the grandkids with the theme park experience but then get to enjoy the relaxing spa experience and adults only area of a Disney cruise ship (and that amazing benefit that cruising is exponentially less walking)

That’s of course just a small piece of what type of families may enjoy a little bit of each type of destination in one bigger trip!

What about cost? 

Won’t the cost be more if we do 2 different stays at 2 different destinations? Not necessarily! I liken a cruise ship to a deluxe resort at a Disney property. While your stateroom isn’t as large as those deluxe resort rooms, we didn’t find ourselves in them much except to shower, change, and the occasional morning room service. For families with younger kids, nap time is another great benefit to cruising because it’s an easy transition from playing and character meeting to nap so you’re saving money AND time which is priceless. I digress!

Let’s compare a 7 night Disney World deluxe resort experience to a 4 night Disney World deluxe resort experience + a 3 night Disney cruise. This example uses Beach Club as the resort of choice – middle of the road in terms of pricing for a Disney deluxe resort property, favored by many families as well with some convenience to the theme parks with quick access to Epcot and Hollywood Studios and a great pool experience. Travel dates used were the last week of February – avoiding the “peak” travel times that increase pricing of both Disney World resorts and Disney Cruise Line. **Please do not use this pricing as a “quote” for your trip – if you are interested in more information please contact me. This is used as a real time example as the dollars and cents to compare different types of vacation packages**

A 7 night stay at Disney’s Beach Club resort with 6 days of park hopper tickets, Disney dining plan, and Memory Maker for 2 adults and 2 children age 10 and 7 comes to a grand total of $7424.51

A 4 night stay at Disney’s Beach Club resort with 3 days of park hopper tickets, Disney dining plan and Memory maker for 2 adults and 2 children age 10 and 7 comes to a grand total of $4909.38 coupled with a 3 night Bahamian cruise on the Disney Dream in an oceanview room for that same family is$2563.60 for a grand total for both vacations of $7472.98. Pretty darn close to the same package for the same number of dates for this family who gets TWO vacations in one!

The best part about a Disney Cruise is all of the magic that is inside of the experience and everything that is included…

  • The amazing Disney level of service
  • Access to Castaway Cay – Disney’s Private Island
  • Character meet and greets
  • Dining – breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks, soft drinks and ice cream virtually anytime you want it. Room service included *a few items not included from the room service menu
  • World class entertainment – nightly live shows
  • Movies and movie premieres
  • Character meet and greets – unique ways to meet characters, characters that are hard to meet, unique attire for characters, and more! We LOVE the time and experience of all of our meet and greets.
  • Kids clubs included with your cruise fare! For families with children ages 3+, the kids clubs are img_7085available for them to make new friends, explore areas on their own, play games, and have their own time and space. Even for kids on their own, it will likely be their favorite place! Our daughter could have easily stayed there all day every day outside of meeting characters. With characters and movies and interactive experiences, she was in absolute heaven! And for adults it’s heaven because they have time on their own to explore adults only areas including pools, lounges, and nightclubs!
  • For adults, you have your own space that is child free which is a priceless moment or two for any mom or dad on vacation!
  • On board pools and water fun no matter what ship you choose
  • Magic around every corner

I can’t tell you how much we truly enjoyed our Disney Cruise Line experiences and I’m mad at myself it took us so long explore one. My hesitation was not price or the qualify of experience but the motion on the ship. While there were some feelings of rocking and motion it truly was not an issue I couldn’t handle with a bit of motion sickness medication. In talking with other guests on the ship on our first sailing, they mentioned that it was a bit rockier ride than their previous sailings and I would agree! That being said, subsequent adventures have been smoother sailing!!

Ready to get started planning your two in one vacation? Please contact me at any time for a free quote. The benefits to using an agent that is part of authorized Disney vacation planner agency 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!