Disney Springs New Boathouse Restaurant


IMG_8759The old Downtown Disney is slowly turning into Disney Springs.  As a veteran of West Side and the Marketplace, I must admit that I was a little sad with all the changes. (I still long for the Adventure’s and Comedy clubs) However, I do like the new additions with the smart tech parking decks (see last post) to the great new dining options.

IMG_8762One new options is the new Boathouse Restaurant which offers upscale, waterfront dining.  The atmosphere is nicely nautical from regattas trophies, boat motors everywhere, and phenomenal artwork throughout.  Disney always has that attention to detail so make sure you walk around to soak it all in.  Hopefully you will be lucky enough to get to dine in one of the “boats” – how fun!!  If not, then no worries since every seat has a great view of the water.  I personally like the outside, dining area- if the weather will cooperate.IMG_8763 2

The menu made it hard to choose from all the great choices and a bit pricey however, the meals are good size so you are able to share many dishes.  My sister and I halved the Stuffed Crab BLT sandwich which was a special for the day and it was incredible.  It got two thumbs up from her as well who knows her crabs being from Annapolis!  I can’t wait to go back for the surf n turf!IMG_8761 2

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The best “show” is outside of the restaurant which is the new Amphicar which is a car AND a boat!  You can experience your own cruise experience with a guided captain for a 25 minute boat tour of Downtown Disney as it floats on the water.  The aqua-car has seating for four with the price tag of $125 and you can purchase the tickets in the gift shop.  We stood for a while and watched the Captain drive a family into the lake with a splash.  It was fun to cheer them on from the shore as they floated away from the dock.  I believe that this is the only place in the world to ride in these great vintage vehicles so don’t miss seeing it while around Disney Springs!

Lastly, do not forget the gift shop. I have to mention the ducks.  Yes, I said ducks.  They are in every “theme” you can think of and only $20.  My kids LOVED the ducks and they were fun to see all the many different ones to choose from.

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If you are ready to eat at the new Downtown Disney/Disney Springs restaurants or float away in the Amphicar then: 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.

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10 Disney World Non-character dining restaurants your kids will love

 

The first thing many people think about when dining for kids are character dining meals. These can get tiresome for adults as they are all character meals and are often quite noisy. This experience can also be a long one as you wait for characters to make their rounds (especially at larger locations). If you’re looking for a few non-character meals that your kids will enjoy, look no further! Here are a few of my favorite suggestions:

Rainforest Café. Locations in both Animal Kingdom and Downtown Disney. Menus at both locations are essentially the same, it’s a matter of scheduling and convenience. During the winter months and off peak travel times, Animal Kingdom often closes around 5 pm (sometimes earlier), so a later dinner would be out of the question – transportation will be a bit more limited if you choose a later reservation time as well.

T-REX. This fun location in Downtown Disney is an alternative to Rainforest Café, but is also more popular! Kids marvel at the outside and the interior is just as fun. Dinner reservations go fast, so make sure it’s one near the top of your list.

Coral Reef. Wouldn’t you like to dine with one of the largest aquariums in the world? Located in Epcot Future World, this is more than just seafood. There are chicken and steak options as well. Your kids will really enjoy the aquarium while you enjoy a really tasty meal. This is not an extremely tough reservation to get and is open for lunch and dinner. A 2 or 3 pm reservation should fill your bellies for the rest of the night, especially in the summer sun of Florida!

Via Napoli. A quick trek over to Italy in World Showcase, Via Napoli has some delicious pizza and pasta options and one of the favorite menus of kids. Adults can enjoy some sangria and some of the friendliest wait staff in all of Disney (my opinion of course!) The food is made quickly, so you won’t be waiting long. There’s a reason that this location is consistently booked up 20-30 days before arrival!

Boma. Yes, Boma is a buffet, but it’s not your ordinary buffet meal! Disney imagineers did a great job styling this like an African Market. Breakfast is one of boma-flavors-of-africamy favorite meals in all of Disney. While it’s not the most convenient location if you are staying outside of the Animal Kingdom area and don’t have a car, it’s worth a trip during an off day or a day you are planning on touring Animal Kingdom. The food here is a little different, but has options for picky eaters as well.

50s Prime Time Café. Elbows off the table! This 50s diner in Hollywood Studios is well themed and cast members really play their part. Encourage your kids to play along! This is a cast member favorite to bring their family and friends when they’re not on duty. In addition to the fun atmosphere that your kids will love, enjoy some huge portion sizes (sharing is highly encouraged) and save room for dessert!

Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater. Your booths are cars. Can it get any more fun than that? While you may share a space with another family depending on your party size, enjoy this fun and exciting themed restaurant. It’s a fairly inexpensive themed table service restaurant for those paying out of pocket for their meals. It’s a great first experience for those looking for one or two dining meals during their stay. Don’t worry, their “sci fi movies” are more goofy and not scary!

Whispering Canyon Café. Located in Wilderness Lodge and just a boat ride away from Magic Kingdom, this is another place to encourage your kids to play along. You’ll find pony races, literal interpretations of meal requests, and just try and ask for ketchup! While it’s a noisy restaurant, it’s a fun dining experience for all. Some teens may roll their eyes at some of the corny jokes, but it’s still a blast!

Be Our Guest. Yes this is the most difficult reservation in all of Disney World. Yes, there’s been some difficulty getting FastPass+ lunch reservations after June 28th, but yes it’s an amazing atmosphere as well. Located in New Fantasyland, it’s the first Disney restaurant that is quick service at lunch and table service at dinner. It’s also a great way to allow more people to visit the restaurant each day. We really enjoyed our lunch and I’d definitely go back again. If you can get it, definitely go! It’s a very enjoy able experience and beautifully thought out.

‘Ohana. Breakfast is a character meal, but dinner is not. Located at Disney’s Polynesian, it’s one of Disney’s most popular restaurants, so make your reservations as soon as possible to get a reasonable time (the closer to 5 pm, the better as later times may run late). ‘Ohana also underwent a menu change recently, but I’m sure it’s still a delicious family style meal with a Polynesian flair and atmosphere. It’s also a longer meal with multiple courses, but the food and the fun keep going and kids of all ages are entertained during the entire length of their meal.

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

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

Ready to get started planning your 2015 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 cruise 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!

Arriving at your Walt Disney World Resort

 

Whether you arrive at your Disney World resort via Magical Express or car, the check is process remains the same. In order to get the full picture, you’ll need to know about the online check in process as well.

Online check in

Up to 60 days prior to your arrival, you have the ability to check in online. By logging into your My Disney Experience account, you can designate a credit card, set a personal PIN to use for purchases while on site, set your estimated arrival time for check in and make some room requests. Each resort has a specific list of room requests available and you are able to choose up to 2. Typical requests include choosing a floor, requesting to be near transportation, or in some cases a view within the resort. If near transportation is an option during your online check in process, I’d choose it! Remember, you can always make additional requests via phone (like a side of the resort you’d prefer to be in or in value or deluxe resorts – a king size bed), but the more requests you make, the more difficult it will be to fulfill those. It’s best your request to a maximum of 2-3 and prioritize your request. During the process you are also able to submit a cell phone number to receive a text alert to notify you that your room is ready.

If you are arriving early in the day, I highly recommend choosing online check in. If you are arriving later in the afternoon or in the evening, the process is not as important as your room will already likely be ready, although it will save you some time in setting a personal PIN and providing credit card information.

Check in desk

Upon your arrival, you’ll likely be distracted by the magic of Disney as you walk into your resort. It’s a common happening even for us who are veterans! Thankfully, the check in desk isn’t very hard to find! Make sure you choose the appropriate line: Check in or online check in. If you checked in online, you can use this separate line.

Make sure at least one of your MagicBands is available as you’ll need to scan it to access your reservation. If you are arriving via Disney’s Magical Express, you’ll probably already have them on! Rooms are assigned 3-4 days prior to your arrival, so you’ll already have a room assignment. If your room is not ready, you’ll be asked for your cell phone number and sent a text message notification. The great part about these notifications is that your room number is also included. You don’t have to go back to the check in desk to get keys or room assignments. Just grab your bags and head right to your room!

At any point during the check in process you realize you don’t like your room location or it doesn’t fit your room requests, you are welcome to ask if something else is available. The room assigning cast member does everything in his/her power to grant your requests, but sometimes it just can’t happen!

Dining Plan

If you elected to add any of Disney’s dining plan options, your cast member will go over the plan as well as the rules and regulations behind using them. If you’ve done your research already, it will just be a refresher. This is a great place to ask any questions you may have.

If your room isn’t ready

If your room isn’t ready, check your bags at bell services and do one of Disney’s many available activities. For a few suggestions, check out ideas of what to do on your arrival day.

Arriving early or late

Check in time rolls over at 6 am. You are welcome to check into your resort any time after that. On the other hand, if you have a red eye or really delayed flight, There is staff available 24/7 (also good information if you ever have a problem during your stay). Either way, make sure you have the appropriate reservations.

If you’re saying to yourself “wow that’s a really expensive hotel stay for a few hours” do you have any suggestions on another option? For those with a car, check the main gate hotels. You can get a room at a decent rate just to lay your head for the night. For those relying on Disney transportation I’d suggest either staying at the Hyatt at the Orlando airport. Find the earliest arrival the next morning to provide to Disney’s Magical Express. You can also book a room only reservation at a value resort. Hop the Magical Express and then have Disney transfer your baggage to your preferred resort for the remainder of your stay. It’s a common occurrence at Disney, so don’t worry!

As a reminder, if you arrive before 5 am or after 10 pm, you’ll have to grab your own checked luggage. While the Magical Express does run 24/7, you won’t have baggage handling available.

That’s the long and the short of it! Disney makes check in a snap and with MyMagic+ and MagicBands, it’s even easier!

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

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

Ready to get started planning your 2015 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 cruise 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!

 

Tips & Trick for Disney World Refillable Mugs

 

As you may know, all Disney resorts of Refillable Mugs which can be used at your resort any of the Disney World resorts. In 2014, Disney updated their machines and mugs for “Rapid Refill”. In addition, costs have changed as well and is more of a tiered system which looks a little like this:

$8.99 for 1 Day
$11.99 for 2 Days
$14.99 for 3 Days
$17.99 for Length of Stay

There is a hard coded “length of stay”, but keep your receipt if you exceed that date and a cast member can make adjustments.

Another change to this program is a wait time between refills. You must wait 2 minutes before you can refill your mug again. For most people that’s no problem and it saves people from filling cups that are not their mugs/cheating the system. Outside of water, all soft drinks, coffee, and tea will only be dispensed with an active mug placed on the tray (you cannot hold it and fill). Display screens provide appropriate directions.

What  if my child is too small to see the screen?

My experience is that they yell for mom because they think the machine is broken. (I got a little chuckle out of it several time!)

Is water still free?

Yes. You won’t have trouble getting ice or water in your own container if you so choose.

Disney’s Dining Plan

Everyone with Disney’s dining plan will also receive a mug as part of your package. To pick yours up, head to the quick service location of your choice and have the cashier scan your MagicBands. He or she will likely ask if you are on the Dining Plan, but it never hurts to make mention of it.

What if I’m part of a split stay?

If you are part of a split stay and your mug purchase or dining plan is on the first half of your stay, see a cast member to add additional days to your mug. Keep your receipt from your original purchase. You’ll rarely be second guessed, but it’s good to have.

If your dining plan credits don’t activate until the second half of your stay, you’re out of luck unless you’d like to purchase a separate mug. If it’s only a day or two, just wait it out. No need to purchase something you’ll soon get for free.

I’m not on the dining plan, is this worth the money?

It depends on how much time you’ll be staying at your resort and the convenience of the refill stations to your room. Even if you average $1.99 per drink refill, you’d have to use your mug 4 times in 24 hours. If you divide the charge over 6 nights (a pretty average length of stay for many families), you’d only have to use your mug twice each day to make it worth the money. If we’re not staying club level, I really enjoy having a mug, even more so at a value resort!

Can I use my mugs in the theme parks?

No, sorry! We often fill our mugs  with coffee in the morning, hop on the bus and head to our park of the day. We also grab a few napkins to toss inside the mugs after we’re done with them so coffee doesn’t get all of our small bag/tote for the day. After we get through our main attractions early in the day, we rinse them out in a bathroom or water fountain and refill. Yes, Orlando water does taste kind of yucky, but with a packet of Crystal Light, problem solved!

If you are eating a quick service lunch, the mugs are a great thing to have to split those giant drinks (or take the rest of your table service drink to go).

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

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

Ready to get started planning your 2015 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 cruise 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!

 

Disney World Tips and Tricks for Military Families

 

As you may or may not know, Disney offers discounts to members of the military. This includes both discounts on tickets as well as Disney World resort rooms. While this discount cannot be combined with other Disney World offers, it is most definitely a better deal than most other Disney World room only deals.

Who qualifies for Disney’s Military discount?

  • Current military members including active, reserve, National Guard, and Coast Guard.
  • Retired military members including active, reserve, National Guard, and Coast Guard.
  • 100% Service Connected Disable with “DAVPRM” code on their military issued identification.
  • Some additional exceptions are also included and up to the discretion of Disney

Please note that the member who qualifies your family/party for this discount must be present at check in and MUST present their military identification. Failure to do so will change the rate to the current non-discounted pricing, so book with caution and don’t try and cheat the system. IT DOES NOT WORK!

I’m qualified! What are the details on park tickets?

Disney offers two kids of discount tickets:

  • Armed Forces Salute
  • Regular Military Discount tickets

There is a big difference in these two types of tickets and you must be very careful in selecting which option is best for your family.

Armed Forces Salute has a much greater discount (almost 50%) but is only available in as a 4 day ticket (park hopper, water park fun and more, or park hopper + water park fun and more). Additionally there are blackout dates for the use of these tickets including peak times like the week of Easter, the before Christmas through New Years Eve, and the 4th of July (excludes Magic Kingdom only – but you wouldn’t want to go there anyways as it’s excessively crowded!)

Armed Forces Salute tickets also have a maximum of 6 tickets available to you for each offer period (typically end of September – end of September the following year). Disney may make exceptions for families with immediate families larger than 6 persons. Tickets may also be purchased for extended family members with your allotted 6 tickets as long as the qualifying member is present to present identification to activate the tickets once on Disney property.

Regular Military Discount tickets provide a roughly 5% discount off the general public rates (sometimes up to 8%). This discount does offer you many more choices as park tickets go including 1-10 day tickets, base tickets, park hoppers, and water park fun and more. You may have to be flexible if choosing your tickets as your military ticket office may not have exactly what you are looking for. You also have the option to purchase tickets at Shades of Green once you arrive, but you will be unable to make FastPass+ selections until your tickets are linked. This option is also better if you are looking to travel during any of the ticket blackout periods.

Link your tickets as soon as you purchase them to take advantage of FastPass+ service as both ticket options qualify you. Remember these important dates:

  • On Site guests (Disney World Resorts) – 60 days prior to arrival
  • Off Site guests (including Shades of Green) – 30 days prior to arrival
  • Day Guests (or guests not making a hotel stay) – 30 days prior to arrival

If you have a little princess who is dying to meet Anna & Elsa, you will need to set an alarm when day 60 rolls around or you will be out of luck. Don’t say I didn’t warn you!

If you are traveling with extended family or plan on purchasing more than the maximum of 6 tickets, purchase as many adult tickets as possible under the military salute discount. Child tickets are a little less expensive, so you are saving more with on your adult tickets when comparing apples to apples.

Either option requires activation at the gate during first use which will require proper identification. If you are traveling with a larger group, please make sure you go to the same park the first day. After initial use, you may split up.

Disney World Resort Discounts

Disney typically offers an annual discount to members of the military and their families. Same inclusions as listed above apply for this room discount as well.  Typically, the discount looks a little like this:

  • Value Resorts – 30%
  • Moderate Resorts – 35%
  • Deluxe Resorts – 40%

The only exclusion I am aware of are the Little Mermaid Rooms at Art of Animation. This is of course subject to availability and black out dates which have historically included the week leading up to Easter through Easter Sunday, Thanksgiving day and Friday after Thanksgiving, and December 23 – 31. Be aware that if you arrival prior to one of these blackout dates, your length of stay will be included in this discount (which differs from many public room only offers).
You are also able to book up to 3 rooms with your military discount, although the qualifying member must be present, with proper identification, at check in for each room booked. They are not required to pay for every room.

Like any Disney package, booking a room only reservation will require 1 night’s room cost and the remaining balance is due upon arrival at your resort.

An additional benefit of this discount is Disney’s Dining Plan! While all Disney World packages require park tickets to add the dining plan, the military room discount does not! You can add either Plus Dining (or the full dining plan) or the deluxe dining plan. There is no discount to adding the dining plan, but with the money you save on tickets and your room it’s likely worth it! (You cannot use a free dining promotion if it is available at the time you are booking).

I’m sold! How do find out costs and book a room?

Unfortunately, you are unable to book any military discounted room online. You must call Disney reservations to do so (or contact your travel agent – lucky for you, you’re reading a blog of a Disney travel professional!) 🙂 You can also get a rough estimate by searching a room only offer on Disney World’s web site and doing your own math. While this is definitely not 100% accurate, it will give you a good idea before you call. You may want to be aware of any newly released discounts before calling that may inflate your wait time. You can find information by checking the Special Offers section of the Disney World web site.

Just mention the military discount when you call. You do not need to provide any proof of qualification for the discount over the phone (just on arrival). You will receive an email confirmation when you book your vacation package and it will link to your My Disney Experience account just like any other resort reservation! You will receive MagicBands and all the other benefits of staying at a Walt Disney World resort hotel. You also qualify for Disney’s Magical Express Service saving you the cost and time of renting a car or booking alternate transportation.

What about Shades of Green?

Shades of Green is an Armed Forces Recreation Center located on Disney World property. Be aware that this is NOT one of the Disney World resort hotels. While I cannot go into great detail about the resort or it’s amenities outside of what is available on the internet (as I’m a civilian), I can provide the following comparison between Disney World resorts and Shades of Green:

  • Cost: Cost of a Disney World Value room during peak season and Shades of Green are roughly the same cost depending on the booking category you qualify for at Shades of Green and your party size.  In a close race of cost after a comparison, choose a Disney resort as the benefits outweigh the difference of $100 or so!
  • Transportation: Shades of Green does have bus service to all Disney World theme parks. Once at the theme parks you are welcome to use any additional method of Disney Transportation to get around. Unfortunately this bus runs on a structured schedule which is often once an hour. Disney buses tend to run every 15-20 minutes continuously. If you miss a bus for a Disney resort, there is likely one right behind it! You must show proof of stay to board any Shades of Green bus. There are no requirements for Disney buses.
  • Airport Transportation: Shades of Green does not qualify for Disney Magical Express Service. You are able to book somewhat inexpensive shuttles, however you can’t beat the cost of free!
  • Parking at theme parks: Parking for Disney World resort guests is free at all of Disney’s theme parks. Unfortunately this benefit does not cover Shades of Green as it is not considered a Disney resort. The current cost of parking is now $17/day.
  • Dining Plan: Shades of Green guests unfortunately do not qualify for the dining plan as they are not resort guests. As noted above, you are able to add Disney’s Dining Plan to your room only package without the purchase of park tickets with the military discount.
  • Extra Magic Hours: Both Shades of Green and all Disney Resorts qualify you for Extra Magic Hours at Disney World theme parks. One of my favorite benefits!
  • FastPass+: FastPass+ service is available to add Disney World guests with valid park tickets. If you purchase tickets ahead of time, you are able to make reservations 60 days in advance at Disney World resorts and 30 days in advance at Shades of Green (as it is considered an “off site” hotel). Your tickets must be linked to your My Disney Experience account in either situation.
  • MagicBands: MagicBands are free to all Disney World resort guests. Any guest can purchase a MagicBand in the theme parks.

If cost is a major factor in your Disney World vacation, you may have a less expensive option (and a little bit more space) at Shades of Green over a Disney value resort. With such a great year round discount, you’ll save a great deal of money regardless of your resort category in a Disney World resort hotel.

A few other things to mention

  • If Free Dining is offered during your travel period, you may want to compare overall costs to see what will save you more money. At times it may be more advantageous for you to use a public offer over your military discount (but not often).
  • Once you arrive at Disney, check for discounts at stores (especially in Downtown Disney). You can save up to 20% on your purchases!
A free gift for Disney vacation! The amazing and exciting Minnie Box! (subject to minimum vacation package)

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

Ready to get started planning your 2015 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 cruise 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!

Disney World Tips & Tricks: Disney with a car

I know you’ve heard me constantly say that Disney transportation is great, but what if you have a car? Is it faster to drive and park than to take Disney’s bus service? Is travel around Disney property easy? As you probably know, parking is free at all the theme parks for resort guests, saving you a whopping $20 per day! (updated for 2016)

Driving vs. Disney Transportation

In most cases it is faster to drive than to use Disney transportation, especially if you are traveling for park opening/rope drop. Your park spot will be closer to the main entrance. If you are arriving later in the morning, you may have to use up some extra steps or wait for the trams that will bring you to the park entrance. Buses drop you off right at the entrance. The major exception to this rule is Magic Kingdom. Parking is at the Ticket & Transportation center which requires you to then take the monorail to the Magic Kingdom gates adding at least another 10 minutes to your travel time. If you plan on park hopping between Epcot and Magic Kingdom, this may be a viable option, but in any other situation, I’d advise against it.

Parking at any park besides Magic Kingdom is probably a 5-10 minute walk from the lot to the entrance gates. If you want to save some foot power, take the tram, it runs on a constant basis and just makes 2 stops.

Navigating Disney World in your own Car

Disney has great signage both in and out of the park. The bright purple signs provide great direction. You can also put addresses into your GPS, but be sure that you are putting in the address or coordinates of the parking lot! If you’re driving, be aware that you may need some cash for tolls to get to the Disney area.You cannot just rely on signage to get you from here to there. You’ll need some GPS or written directions to get you to one of the main roads.

Pros and cons of using your own car

If you’re traveling with little ones, it might actually be easier to take Disney transportation. No worrying about bringing a car seat if you’re renting a car, buckling a kiddo into a car seat, or trying to shove a double stroller into the trunk of your car. If you are taking Disney transportation and have a stroller, please be considerate to other guests and have your stroller folded up before the bus arrives. This saves a lot of time as people wait for you to board the bus.  Typically, driving will be faster thank taking Disney transportation, but it all depends on your location on property. If you are driving to Disney, enjoy the convenience of a car. If you are thinking about renting a car, ask yourself why you really want it. I might consider it if you are traveling off property for a period of time or if you have many dining reservations at resorts and it’s difficult to use Disney transport to get to them.

What are your thoughts on traveling through 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 next 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 cruise 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!

10 Beginner Mistakes to avoid when going to Disney World

 

It’s time to plan your Disney vacation! Whether your traveling in 2014, 2015 or beyond, it’s important to do a little bit of light reading and research before your arrive. Avoid these 10 mistakes often made by first timers to create your perfect Disney World Vacation:

1. Planning with short or no notice. Know the important milestone days for ANY Disney World Vacation. These include:

  • 180 days prior to arrival: Window for dining reservations opens up!
  • 60 days prior to arrival: Time to book FastPass+ reservations (if you are staying on site). You can also check in online
  • 45 days prior to arrival: Final payment is due for package reservations
  • 30 days prior to arrival: Time to book FastPass+ reservations for those staying off site; This is typically the last day you are able to customize your MagicBands prior to shipping

2. Not budgeting enough for your vacation. Think about the type of accommodations you’d like to have, how important location is on Disney property, the cost of park tickets, and the cost of food once your arrive! All of these things should be calculated into your overall budget. Transportation to and from the Orlando area should also be part of your mental budget. Don’t starve yourself once you arrive because you didn’t plan for the cost of food!

3. Not reading reviews or asking friends and family about restaurants. I think everyone should have at least one table service meal. It’s a fun way to enjoy a different side of Disney! Whether it’s a character meals for the kids, or a quiet table at one of the many restaurants in Epcot, there are very few bad meals in Disney World!

4. Traveling during peak times (especially when no discount is offered). I understand your kids are off during Christmas break, but so are everyone elses. There’s a reason that Disney doesn’t offer discounts at certain times of year. There are also reasons why big promotions like Free Dining are offered at other times. Don’t pay more than you have to!

5. Wasting FastPass+ reservations. Magic Kingdom has almost 30 options for FastPass+ so how to do you choose? First, start with the most popular attractions and then decide which ones are best for your family. Make sure that your kids are tall enough for attractions with height restrictions and that they won’t be too scared to ride them. Now that Disney resort guests can book additional FastPasses after the initial 3 that all guests are given each day, it’s more important to use your FastPasses and EARLY!

6. Not preparing your legs. I log an average of 9 miles each day when I’m at Disney World. While that’s over the course of 10-12 hours, it’s still a lot of steps every day. A busy day with park hopping is well over 11 miles. Get your legs, hips, knees, and feet ready for Disney several months before your arrive.

7. Wearing crummy shoes. Wear athletic shoes with good support. I don’t care if socks and shorts looks goofy, you’ll thank me when you don’t have blisters!

8. Sleeping in. This may be the biggest mistake I can think of! Wake up early. I know it’s vacation, but you can get more done in the first 3 hours of park opening than any other time of day. Be at the bus stop one hour prior to the park opening which should get you to the parks about 30 minutes prior to park opening (on earlier, depending on your start and end location)

9. Not taking breaks. Don’t try to be a superhero! It’s not possible to go all day every day from 9 am – 10 pm (or later). Yes there’s lots of things to do in Disney, but you need to relax and rest up for the next day.

10. Not researching anything. Disney is NOT a fly by the seat of your pants type of vacation. You’re not sitting on the beach. If you don’t have time to do research or just don’t want to, find a knowledgeable travel agent who knows Disney to help you (hint: you are reading a blog of one right now!)

A free gift for Disney vacation! The amazing and exciting Minnie Box!

A free gift for Disney vacation! The amazing and exciting Minnie Box!

Ready to get started planning your 2015 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 cruise 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!