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

IMG_8802 2

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.

IMG_8764

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.

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!

101 Tips to make a magical Disney World vacation!

 

 

For 2015 and 2016 Disney World vacations, these are the best tips and tricks! While there’s a million different opinions out there, who knows what’s current and what’s outdated! Having just come back from another research expedition in Disney World, I’m confident these tips will help you on your Disney World vacation!

In no particular order…
1. Research, research, research! The more you know, the better your trip!

2. If cost is an issue, know when the best deals are. If crowd levels are an issue, know when the lowest crowd times are (hint, they are typically very similar times). Crowd calendar 2015, best times for 2015.

3. Start walking before you go. You can easily log 8-10 miles a day at Disney and while you take breaks, you’ll need to build some endurance. Take some family walks and start to get your legs ready!

4. STAY ON PROPERTY! While it may seem more expensive on the surface, you won’t need to rent a car, get transportation to/from the airport, or pay for parking.

5. Think about using a travel agent. We know how to get the best discounts, when discounts come out, and are actively looking to save you time and money! Plus, we are FREE to work with!!!

6. If you book your Disney vacation before a discount comes out, you will have to call Disney to apply the new discount. It doesn’t get changed automatically. During a big discount, you may be on hold for a very long time!

7. Think about your budget. Now think about adding about 20% more to it to make it a more reasonable number for Disney. You can definitely do Disney on the cheap, but if you’re thinking about cost the whole time, it makes it less fun for the adults!

8. Look into the dining plan and what it includes. See if it’s for you (or how you can get it for free!)

9. Make sure Disney knows about any celebrations during your stay! You’ll get a few freebies and some recognition as well.

10. Children under 3 are free in Disney. If you’re thinking about a vacation before or after your child turns 3, you’ll likely save at least $300 if you go when they’re 2!

11. Similarly, Disney considers 10 year olds Disney adults. That means there’s a price break between 9 and 10. Park tickets don’t make a huge difference, but dining does!

12. Park tickets become cheaper the more days you add (sometimes adding a day of park tickets can be as low as $30 for a family of 3-4). Disney does the math for you when you are booking your package, so check it out!

13. Plan for a day off. Disney can get exhausting. Make sure you take a break during your trip, whether it’s a planned pool day, downtown Disney, or just a day without parks. You won’t get bored!

14. Ask questions! If you’re in Disney and are confused, lost, or need help, cast members (Disney employees) are here to help!

15. Plan at least one table service dinner. Even if you’re not on the dining plan, it’s a good experience!

16. Try new food! You’re on vacation. Don’t be afraid to book a unique restaurant or menu item (especially on the dining plan!)

17. Ask your server for suggestions. They’ll give you a good opinion or at least tell you the most popular menu items.

18. Save room for dessert! There’s some awesome options on all the menus.

19. Explore other resorts. It’s fun to just look around another resort if you’re in the area (think Magic Kingdom and Epcot areas). You don’t need any sort of ticket or pass to walk around in the common areas. It’s fun to look around!

20. Bring sunscreen and wear it! Bring more than you think you need. Nothing like feeling miserable and uncomfortable after one day of vacation! Reapply after pool or water rides.

21. Bring snacks to the park. You can also bring your own water bottles. Anything except glass and alcohol is allowed into the parks! If you have a place to store it or are fine carrying it, you’ll save a ton of money!

22. Bring your own stroller. Sure it’s a pain to lug it through the airport and check it at the gate, but it’s better than $18/day for a single stroller or $31/day for a double stroller!

23. Decorate your stroller so you know it’s yours. Colored ribbon, a sign, etc. will all be helpful. Yes you left it in a certain place, but cast members rearrange strollers for the most capacity. This is especially helpful if you are renting a stroller.

24. Share meals. Share meals! Seriously. For quick service/counter service meals, start with one meal for every 2 people. You can always go back and get another or one or get a snack to share. Don’t throw away the expensive food!!! Look at appetizers and meals to share for table service meals. If you made a reservation and you’re not that hungry, don’t be afraid to share a meal. The only place you can’t share are buffet meals. Via Napoli does not allow sharing on the dining plan, but you can share if paying out of pocket.

25. Bring your refillable mugs to the parks! While you can’t officially refill them, it’s a great way to share one of the large fountain drinks from counter service meals. You can also fill them with water from the water fountains or ask for some free ice water at any counter service (a word of warning that Orlando water doesn’t taste the greatest!)

26. Use Disney transportation. It’s FREE! It adds to the experience of Disney.

27. Know how to get from here to there BEFORE you leave! If you need to make a cheat sheet on your phone or index cards, do it! You’ll save headaches later.

28. Driving to Disney? Parking is free at your resort and all the theme parks if you stay in a Disney resort! Bring a GPS or some directions to get you to the main roads. Once there, Disney signage is great to get you to your destination.

29. Download the My Disney Experience app to your smart phone. You can update reservations on the fly and check for various show times and character meets in the park.

30. Arrive at the parks 30-45 minutes prior to park open. At times the parks open before the posted time. You can get through more of the park in the first 2-3 hours of the day than any other time!

31. Even if you’re tired, wake up for “rope drop” (park opening). You can always take a break later.

32. Take breaks! Whether it’s for lunch inside the park or a nap or some pool time outside of the park. You can’t make it 12-14 hours in the park without a break.

33. Be aware of Extra Magic Hours. Late hours are great to get some more popular attractions out of the way. If you are willing to get up early for morning Magic Hours, make sure you arrive before the park opens, otherwise it’s not worth it.

34. Fall brings some early park closures to the general public. Check the park hours on Disney’s website for days that close early due to special events. You may want to avoid that park. Animal Kingdom also closes earlier during lower crowd levels. Make sure you plan ahead if you have park hopper tickets.

35. Make your FastPass+ reservations at your 60 day window – this is for your entire vacation. This opens at midnight EST. If you want to meet Anna & Elsa, this needs to be done the second the window opens! Make sure your reservations are made at least 30 days in advance as that’s when day guests can make reservations.

36. Take advantage of all your FastPass+ allotments. Even if you aren’t sure, book it!

37. Make your dining reservations as soon as possible. This has become extremely competitive in the last 2-3 years. Resort guests can make reservations 180 days in advance (this is for your entire vacation, not just one day). If you don’t have a resort reservation, you can make reservations 180 days in advance (but you’ll have to do it each day).

38. Check out the FastPass+ bypass for Be Our Guest for lunch.

39. Package reservations must be paid in full at 45 days prior to your arrival. Room only reservations are paid upon arrival.

40. Think about online check in. If you are arriving earlier in the day, make sure Disney knows about it. While it’s no guarantee, the more they know, the better.

41. If you don’t like your room assignment on check in, you can always ask the front desk if there is another available room you can switch to (in a different location on the grounds). The worst they can say is no!

42. Wear good walking shoes! Flip flops are not good walking shoes.

43. Bring an extra pair of shoes in case one gets wet from rain or if you get a blister.

44. Bring first aid supplies. Disney does have first aid at each of their theme parks, however bring some good band aids, blister band aids, and moleskin with you. It’ll save you walking time to get there and making your injuries worse.

45. On days with a threat of rain, pack a pair of sandals or crocs. This is the only time I’ll ever suggest sandals in Disney. EVER. More suggestions on what to do on rainy days.

46. Pack your own ponchos. You’ll save money. Don’t forget a poncho or tarp for your stroller!

47. Pack a ziplock bag or two for cameras and cell phones on rides where you can get wet.

48. Take a photo of where you parked. After a long, hot day, you may not remember. Also take a photo of your rental car’s license plate!

49. Bring an extension cord. There aren’t always enough plugs available or in a nice place.

50. Think about staying closer to the park you’ll be at the most. You’ll save time traveling to and from your resort each day.

51. If pool time is important to you, choose a location with a great pool. You may want to spend a little more money on a moderate or deluxe resort to have a water slide. My favorite pools are at Beach & Yacht Club, Animal Kingdom Lodge, and Coronado Springs. Of the value resorts, Art of Animation and Pop Century have fun pools (but no water slides).

52. Decide if you want to park hop. I think park hopping is beneficial, but it may be too much for young children or your first trip. You will get to see more in less time. Add a park hopper to your tickets and cut down on the number of days of tickets giving you time to take a day off!

53. Explore Downtown Disney. The World of Disney store has everything you could ever want to buy!

54. Stay cool. Drink water, don’t get dehydrated. If you’re feeling ill find a cool indoor show to watch or take a little break in one of the bathrooms.

55. Stop and enjoy your surroundings. Running from one thing to the next isn’t very much fun! Enjoy your surroundings.

56. Don’t try and do too much. Don’t plan every second of every day. Go in with a general plan and be open to change.

57. Know height restrictions for different Disney attractions before you go. They are strict.

58. Don’t make your kids go on something they are afraid of. There’s always another trip another time.

59. Find free stuff in Disney! Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom gives you free cards. Play the game or just take the cards. It’s a great distraction.

60. Really enjoy each country of World Showcase in Epcot. They are really interesting and intricate.

61. Take family photos with the Disney photographers. Your MagicBands will upload the photos to your account. Even if you don’t purchase them, it’s still fun!

62. If you see a Disney photographer hovering around, it’s likely because a pop up character meet will be on the way. If you want to know, ask! They’ll tell you the information they have.

63. Check out all the evening fireworks/shows. Magic Kingdom, Epcot, and Hollywood Studios each have one and they are all amazing, whether it’s the first or 100th time you’ve seen them.

64. Watch Magic Kingdom’s fireworks from different vantage points: Main Street, Tommorowland Bridge, Polynesian Beach, California Grill (reservations required).

65. Get your spot for parades early. The shady spots go first, so if that’s important, stake your claim!

66. Think about Memory Maker. You’ll be able to put your camera away and have tons of pictures for your return!

67. Customize your MagicBands. It’s so much fun to see the rainbow of colors arrive at your doorstep instead of plain gray ones.

68. Use your MagicBands to their fullest extent. They’re more than just a key to open your door. Pay for anything and everything in Disney World, gain entry to the parks, use your FastPasses, etc. It’s actually really fun!

69. Call Disney if you need more than one room. It’s easier to properly link the reservations and they can book it faster than you could online. While you’re on the phone, ask if there are any PIN codes attached to your account.

70. Start your vacation on Sunday. Friday night and Saturday night stays are the most expensive. Crowds are also highest on a Saturday.

71. Arrive early in the day and leave late in the day. This will allow you the most time. Even if you’re not going to the parks.

72. Magical Express service TO your resort can take up to 90 minutes from your arrival. You’ll likely stop at other resorts on the way to your own. Be patient!

73. Magical Express service FROM your resort typically leaves 3 hours before your flight. Plan your flight accordingly.

74. Be cautious before booking a dining reservation the night you arrive. Flights get delayed, things happen.

75. Try a character meal! Even if you are dining as adults, it’s fun to watch kids faces light up.

76. Don’t yell at your kids. You’re in public and people can hear you!

77. Eat at off peak times. You’ll definitely be able to tell peak lunch and dinner times by the amount the crowds dwindle. If you can take advantage of that, you’ll get more for your time.

78. Did you know the average number of attractions done in a day is 8.5? While it’s definitely possible to do more, don’t have extreme expectations for your visit.

79. Stop and enjoy the cupcakes.

photo 2(2)

80. Study park maps before your arrive to know where you’re going on day one!

81. Grab a daily schedule for the parks on your way in. You’ll know about special events, live shows, and character meets.

82. If you are in line for an attraction before the park closes, you’ll be able to ride or meet a character. A cast member will turn you away if the park is already closed, but you won’t have to leave the line.

83. Disney buses run until the last guest is out of the parks. You won’t get left behind!

84. There’s a place for nursing mothers if you’re taking a very young child to Disney. Ask a cast member for more information.

85. Enjoy attractions more than once. Just because you already did them on this trip, doesn’t mean you can’t do it again, especially if the line is short!

86. Head straight for the headlining attractions/rides first thing in the morning when lines are shortest.

87. Eat a decent breakfast. Even if you plan on enjoying some food at the parks, don’t go on an empty stomach and then get lost in running from ride to ride.

88. Pack some simple breakfast foods in your luggage. Pop Tarts and granola bars are easy grab and go things to get you to the parks early!

89. Think about club level service. Breakfast, snacks, hot and cold appetizers, happy hour drinks for adults, desserts, and after dinner cordials. It won’t be all of your meals, but we were able to keep full throughout our stay. Free bottled water too!

90. Meet at least one character during your trip. I don’t care if it’s kids or adults, it’s still fun!

91. Prepare your kids for the trip: waiting in line, being courteous, using manners, etc.

92. If there are two lines, choose left. 95% of the time that line is shorter!

93. The shops on Main Street in Magic Kingdom are open longer than the park. Shop on your way out after the fireworks show.

94. Get a set of “first ears”!Anna & Elsa - Frozen

95. Enjoy Club Cool in Epcot. Get a free beverage and try the different flavors of Coke around the world!

96. Take a night off and watch a movie at your resort. Don’t like the movie your resort has, check out the other resorts!

97. Try Dole Whip (I prefer the floats!)

98. Sit and enjoy some of the live shows. Don’t feel like it’s a waste of time. They are truly enjoyable and it’s a load off your feet.

99. Pay attention to the details! The different things on Cinderella’s Castle, all the animals in the Tree of Life, etc. It’s truly amazing!

100. Think about a dinner show! Disney has 3 on property and they’ll all really fun! Two credits on the dining plan or a decent out of pocket charge, but it’s a great way to take a nice long break!

101. Learn about Pin Trading and trade with cast members!

Whew! Did I forget anything important?

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!

Disney World Hotels: On site vs. Off Site

IMG_1099

Another big question I get all the time from potential clients looking at a Disney World vacation is whether to stay on site or off site. I am of course biased toward on site as I know quite so much about that and have stayed at many of the Disney resorts as well. I’ve created a handy comparison chart as well as a hypothetical comparison to include Disney resorts as well as Disney’s Swan/Dolphin, and off site hotels. The comparison is very interesting!

Disney resorts Swan/Dolphin Off Site
Airport transport Yes – free No No
Discounts Typically 2-4 months available from arrival date – % off room total discounts; sometimes ticket discounts Discounts variable. At times teacher discounts available Variable by location.
Tickets Can be included in ticket packages (at times for a discount!) May be purchased separately May be purchased separately
Extra Magic Hours Included Included None
Parking Free at resorts and parks Free at parks only (additional $15 daily at resort) Typically free at hotel, $15 daily parking at parks
Park Transport from your resort Free Free Some intermittent buses at some hotels
Disney Dining Plan Available when purchasing park tickets as a part of your package Separate dining plan for Swan/Dolphin restaurants only (Disney Dining plan not available) None available – for Disney resort guests only
Average cost per night in July Value  ~$135+Moderate ~$208+Deluxe ~294+*does not include room discount, tax included ~$209+ plus taxDiscounted teacher rates available ~$149-$179 Variable ~$79 and up plus tax
Location Variable by resort – all on Disney property Epcot resort area Variable – Not on Disney property
Park transport Variable by resort – value resorts are bus only; some deluxe resorts are walking distance, monorail, or boat Boat access or walking distance to Hollywood Studios and Epcot; Shared bus service to Magic Kingdom & Animal Kingdom Your car only
Resort fee None $17 + tax per day Typically, none
Charging privileges on Disney property (to your room account) Available Only available at Swan/Dolphin and not throughout Disney resorts and parks Not available
FastPass+ Available 60 days in advance Available 60 days in advance Available upon arrival in the park
Advanced Dining Reservations Available 180 days in advance (plus 10 days into your trip) Available 180 days in advance (plus 10 days into your trip) Available 180 days in advance (must book your reservations day by day)
MagicBands Included Included None
Average cost for a 7 days, 6 night trip for a family of 4 (2 adults, 2 children)Base park ticketsNo dining plan Includes park ticketsValue: $2170+Moderate: $2645+Deluxe: $3223.44*Non-discounted rates. Room discounts will be available (typically up to 30%) Room: $1530Park Tickets: $1216Resort Fee: $102Airport Transfer: $70TOTAL: $2918

(more if you rent a car)

Room: $775Park Tickets: $1216Rental Car:$300Parking:  $90TOTAL: $2381

(most conservatively with a hotel in Kissimmee)

Benefits No car necessary!No resort fee!Everything at your finger tips!Ability to add on dining plan! One of the best locations on Disney propertyOffers some teacher discounts Rooms are cheaper, but everything else is more expensive!

 


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!

10 Must do Attractions for your Disney World Vacation

dumboWith so much to see and do at Disney World, priorities are difficult! If you are going for a short trip, it becomes even more difficult. This is also very dependent on your family and the time of year you travel. For example, refurbishment is typically done in January and February and lines are often longer during spring break, summer, and over Christmas break making it more difficult to do as much in a short amount of time. In my opinion, these 10 attractions should be at or near to top of your must do list. In no particular order…

10. Haunted Mansion (Liberty Square, Magic Kingdom). This is must do multiple times on my Disney vacations. The line moves quickly, it’s a fun ride and there’s always something new to notice even after 20+ times being on it. This ride may be a bit scary for younger children, but it’s all in good fun.

9. Dumbo (Fantasyland, Magic Kingdom). This attraction screams Disney World. It’s something shown in every Disney commercial on TV. While it’s not the most exciting ride, it’s something to experience during every trip, especially with little ones.

8. Kilimanjaro Safari (Animal Kingdom). One of the longest attractions on Disney property, this is a different experience every time as live animals roam to 22 acres of Disney property. Keep your camera out, you can get some amazing photos of tons of different animals. This is a nice ride enjoyable for children and adults!

7. Tower of Terror (Hollywood Studios). Let me start by saying this ride TERRIFIES me! I rode it for the first time in 2012 and the idea of riding again scares me a bit. The queue and trip through the hotel is very well done by Disney imagineers. But the screams heard throughout the park are real as no two rides are alike. The drops vary in height and timing. Please note, a height restriction for this ride.

6. Space Mountain (Tomorrowland, Magic Kingdom). This dark ride/roller coaster has been thrilling Disney guests since its inception. Lines are often long, but it’s a fun ride. When I say dark ride, I mean pitch black! You can’t see the track in front of you to see where you’re going. It’s thrilling and scary at the same time. Please note, a height restriction for this ride. Also, for tall folks like me, it’s difficult to squeeze yourself into (your knees are often in your chest).

5. Rock n Roller Coaster (Hollywood Studios). I can’t say anything about my personal experience on this ride because I don’t do well going upside down. My husband loves it! He rides every time we travel. The ride begins going 0 to 60 in about 3 seconds and does have some loops. This ride also has a height restriction. There is also a single rider line for those that have little ones or families like ours who like to enjoy the Florida sun while thrill seekers ride!

4. Test Track (Epcot). The re-imagined Test Track is a fun, interactive ride with a little bit of thrill. Another ride you can hear the screams throughout the park as you get whipped around corners and twist and turn. This exciting ride also has a height restriction as well as a single rider line. Of note, this ride may close during heavy rains as a portion goes outside.

3. Splash Mountain (Frontierland, Magic Kingdom). Yet another attraction you can hear before you can see! Screams going down the almost 60 foot plunge down the end of the ride. You will get wet on this ride! As you are inside the mountain, you follow Brer Rabbit and Brer Fox from Song of the South and enjoy a nice round of Zippity Doo Dah before you going flying down, down, down! This ride also has a height restriction.

2. Toy Story Mania (Hollywood Studios). My favorite thing in all of Disney World. Seriously! It’s one of the most fun attractions. Many people agree with me as it’s typically one of the longest lines in all of Disney. Riders don 3D glasses and go into a virtual midway and shoot at targets to receive points. This is fun for all ages, even if you miss as much as I do! I could easily go again and again and again if my arm didn’t get tired and the line wasn’t so long. Thankfully Disney imagineers have a really fun and exciting queue. This is a 100% absolute must do at least 3-4 times per trip. We’ve got a lofty goal of 8-10 times for our next trip.

1. Soarin’ (Epcot). This ride makes you feel like you are flying! Another attraction with long, long lines and a great use of a FastPass! Taken from Disneyland, this ride flies you over some very recognizable landscapes. Feel the breeze in your face and the sounds and smells of your surroundings. Definitely a must do attraction. Worth a 70 minute standby wait? Maybe. Would I wait that long? Never! Catch it during extra magic hours or at rope drop.

Remember if you want to ride something and you have kids that are either too scared or too short, you can always use the rider swap option!

Honorable mention: Peter Pan’s Flight (Fantasyland, Magic Kingdom), It’s a Small World (Fantasyland, Magic Kingdom), Jungle Cruise (Adventureland, Magic Kingdom), Big Thunder Mountain Railroad (Frontierland, Magic Kingdom), DINOSAUR (Animal Kingdom).


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!