What’s New Wednesday: May 4th edition – Walt Disney World

It’s been awhile since I’ve had an edition of What’s New Wednesday, but some exciting things are happening again around Walt Disney World! If you’re traveling soon, you’ve got more new things to look forward to. As mentioned a few weeks ago, a lot of new things are coming this summer with Disney’s Awaken Summer campaign. A 3rd track to Toy Story Mania to alleviate some of the standby line, a 3rd track and a new place to soar (around the World) with Soarin’, Frozen Ever After, Anna & Elsa’s big move to Epcot, and a whole new experiences (at night) in Animal Kingdom!

So what’s new? Princess Fairy Tale Hall in Magic Kingdom FastPasses opened up through June 11th which very likely means that all things Frozen will open up after that date since Anna & Elsa can’t be in 2 places at once!

Olaf is HERE! He’s ready to BRING BACK SUMMER in Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Currently they are listed as “soft openings”. Wait times were not bad today, however it was a long day of almost constant rain. You can find him near the Indiana Jones Stunt Spectacular.

Sorcerer Mickey is finding a new home as of May 8th! Currently he’s in a less than ideal location in an empty building next to Toy Story Mania. He’s getting a new set with a gorgeous looking backdrop and a great new location. Minnie is also joining him with a glam look ready for the red carpet – it is some very unique attire!

The Frozen Games are coming to Blizzard Beach this summer. Beginning, May 27th, join Olaf and Kristoff and participate in a variety of “frozen” themed activities. Only water park admission is required (remember, this is different than your theme park admission).

During Fulton’s Crab House’s current refurbishment, the restaurant will undergo a name change: Paddlefish. With this change a menu change is coming as well! Check back for additional details as Disney continues to update!

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Why your SECOND Disney World Trip will be one of the best!

So you’ve made it through your first Disney World vacation. Congratulations! Do you feel like you just barely survived or did you feel like you had the time of your lives? For my family, the first trip (whether it’s a first trip as adults, first time planning myself, first time with grandparents, or first time with kids) wasn’t always the greatest. Things don’t go as you’ve planned even though you’ve likely been planning for anywhere from 3-12 months! So while I’m nearly positive your first Disney World experience was magical, you’ve probably learned so much which is why your second trip is going to be the absolute best. WHY?

Because you know the parks! Not like the back of your hard, I can navigate through Magic Kingdom without a map or tell
you the countries around World Showcase off the top of my head, but you have a general idea of their size, and a general idea of where many of the attractions are in each of the parks (especially family favorites).

Because you know what you like! Whether your first trip was just a little long weekend taste or a 7 night extravaganza, you know a little bit about what you like. You’ve probably found a favorite attraction, a favorite theme park, and perhaps a favorite restaurant. You know things you want to do again and maybe a few things you won’t do again (which is all part of truly enjoying the parks!)

Because you know what you missed! Do you feel like you missed something something in the parks? Whether it was an attraction on your “hope to do” list or maybe a show that you just missed? It’s something to add to your do list in Disney World. Maybe an attraction was under refurbishment during your previous stay and you weren’t able to experience it at all through no fault of your own. Or MAYBE it was pouring rain and you didn’t get to have the full experience of the Magic Kingdom parades.

Because there is always something new! Disney is always innovating. Just this summer, there are more than a handful of new things. You could travel to Disney World every 6 months and see something new and different. That’s the great thing about Disney parks. You’ll never have the same exact experience twice even if you plan it out that way. Even if you just returned home from your last Disney World vacation, your next trip will see no less than 5 new things on your next trip – Rivers of Light and the Awakening of the Tree of Life in Animal Kingdom, Updates to Soarin’ and a new Frozen attraction in Epcot, upgraded Star Wars fireworks and the first Olaf meet and greet in Florida in Hollywood Studios, and a new stage show in Magic Kingdom. Can you believe that all of that magic is coming in one year? In 2017, you’ll see all things Pandora, the World of Avatar in Animal Kingdom as well with multiple new attractions!

Because the magic is real! You very likely got a little taste of Disney’s magic in your own little way, but now you know how

The pure JOY on this little girls face is why we continue to travel to Disney destinations!

The pure JOY on this little girls face is why we continue to travel to Disney destinations!

to create the magic yourself. The magic is real and being in the middle of it at a Disney World resort is amazing. I’ve lost count on how many Disney World adventures I’ve been on between family trips and training/business trips and no matter what the circumstances, it’s magic. My last trip was work related and we were surprised with my friends Minnie and Mickey right before we were dismissed AND I got a front row seat for Festival of Fantasy parade. You can also open yourself up to the magic a bit more than you may have the first time around. Hug a character, pose with a princess, or (gulp) get matchy shirts!

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)

Whether you used an authorized Disney vacation planner on your first vacation or not, the second time around is almost more important than the first! Ready to get started planning your 2016 or 2017 Disney World vacation? Please contact me at any time for a free quote. The benefits to using an authorized Disney vacation planner include saving time before and during your vacation with itinerary planning which can help save you hours of standing in line each day. Plus you won’t have to watch for available discounts, research resorts, wake up early for dining reservations, or stay up late for FastPasses. The best part about using a travel planner instead of planning yourself? It’s totally FREE! Plus I’ll take away some of the stress and confusion of planning a Disney vacation (especially if it’s your first one!)It’s also a worry free 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!

Everything you need to know about your Disney World MagicBands!

MagicBands

As part of MyMagic+ and staying on property at a Walt Disney World resort, each member of your party will receive a MagicBand. Regardless of age, each member will be able to customize their very own (even babies and under 3 year olds who don’t require tickets!) This small wristband feels like a rubber/plastic composite and an RFID chip inside. In the last several months, the material the bands are made out of has changed making it a more breathable and lighter! These little guys are adjustable (similar to how a baseball cap is adjustable in the back with little plastic snaps) and have the ability to make a really small version for tiny wrists. Disney truly does thing of everything.

Snaps on the back of the MagicBand to fit to any wrist size!

Snaps on the back of the MagicBand to fit to any wrist size!

So your trip is booked and it’s time to customize your MagicBands, now what? Once logged into you’re My Disney Experience (MDE) account and your reservation linked, you will have access to your MagicBands. Use the drop down on the right and choose MagicBands and Cards.

You will have a list of all of your guests and get to choose a color and a name or nickname for each person. Color choices include: red, yellow, green, blue, gray, orange, purple, or pink. You may also enter a name or nickname which is a maximum of 9 characters including letters, numbers or spacing. Your choice is case sensitive. Feel free to be creative! The nickname on the inside of the band isn’t used for anything – the name that appears on your reservation will be what pops up on the cast member’s screen when scanning your band. BUT, get creative! Family of 4 want to be Minnie, Mickey, Donald and Daisy? You got it! There’s no limit to your levels of creativity here! Names will also be imprinted on the inside of each band. Once you are done with your customization you need to confirm your address and mark them as DONE. This important step will save all of your changes and keep you from getting all gray bands! You are also welcome to choose the same color as another member of your family!

You’ll get a countdown of how many days you have left to customize your bands, but typically goes into customization 30 days prior to your arrival and ships shortly after that via  USPS mail.  Delivery comes in a plain brown box, so if you’re keeping a secret from your kids (and bravo to you!) just follow the package delivery to make sure you get the mail that day. The return address does say it’s from Disney, so it’s not completely anonymous!

Opening your MagicBand package

Plain packaging for delivery of our MagicBands

Plain packaging for delivery of our MagicBands

While I’m an adult, Disney always makes me a kid at heart, so watching and (im)patiently waiting for their arrival even though I’ve received more than 10 separate MagicBand deliveries!

Taking it out of the packaging is incredible (get it?) The inside packaging is also really well done and exciting as well! Each MagicBand is labeled by the name or nickname you chose during customization. While we only have two, it looks like that specific packaging could fit up to 5 in each. if you have a larger party, you’ll receive more than one box full.

Incredible packing of our MagicBands!

Incredible packing of our MagicBands!

I took my band out to try it on for size. Trying to make the snaps work with one hand was somewhat difficult, especially for this mama who does things with one hand all the time (a baby typically in the other). Once I finagled it on my wrist, the fit felt pretty perfect! I’m used to wearing a watch, so it didn’t feel much different. After I wore it around the house for awhile, made dinner, hung out with the baby, who seemed very interested in the band on my wrist as well as the box.

I decided to pick up the inside packaging and there was a little pamphlet discussing all the capabilities while on Disney property and a warning for those with pacemakers. If you booked your Disney vacation as a package (minimum room + tickets), you’ll also receive souvenir luggage tags with a corresponding Disney character on it. These tags are DIFFERENT from your Magical Express luggage tags which are sent via separate delivery.

After your vacation, they are yours to keep. They will remain linked to your My Disney Experience account unless you deactivate them or mark one as lost or stolen. They will remain available for use for the next 2-3 year and are reusable for future vacation! By booking an on site reservation on a Disney resort, you will receive a new band for each reservation so if yo lose track of your bands between trips, you can always receive a new set. If you don’t want to keep them, Disney will recycle them for you. Ask a Cast Member at your resort for more details.

In more recent times, Disney has also allowed those of us that travel more often to decline a MagicBand if they identify that there is an active band associated with your account. I’m a collector, so I’ve yet to decline a band yet! I usually bring 2-3 with me when we travel so I can color coordinate as well.

So what does my MagicBand do and why do I need one?

  • MagicBands are your new Key to the World and they do a whole lot more than the old system. You can:
  • Open your resort hotel room door
  • Enter the parks each day (if you have linked park tickets to your account) – it will also hold special event tickets
  • Access your FastPass+ selections (for guests that have linked park tickets to their account and made FastPass+ selections prior to arrival)
  • Link any photos you take on property to your My Disney PhotoPass/Memory Maker account
  • Using your Disney dining plan credits
  • Make purchases around Disney property. By setting up a 4 digit pin prior to your arrival or at check in, you don’t even need a wallet in Disney! . You’re just a wave away from payment! Parents, don’t worry, you have to enable charging privileges for your children.
Even babies love MagicBands!!!

Even babies love MagicBands (and how they grow so fast!!!)

Arriving at the Orlando Airport & Boarding Disney’s Magical Express

Make sure your MagicBands go in your carry on luggage. You’ll need them to access your Magical Express (Disney bus taking you from the airport to your hotel). Once you arrive at the airport, head straight to the Magical Express and you will be sent to your first line of your Disney World vacation! This is a great opportunity to put on your MagicBands. Once your bus arrives, each band will be scanned before you are allowed onto the bus. Remember, Disney will take all your luggage straight to your room, so this process makes getting to resort even faster! Remember, plan for about 75-90 minutes from arrival time at the airport to arrival at your resort. It could be less and the bus ride seems to go fast while you enjoy the welcome from Disney characters!

Arriving at your resort hotel

Once you arrive at your resort, find the correct line to check in: 1. online check in if you checked you in online prior to your arrival or 2. the check in/check out desk which is available if you did not do online check in. One of the very nice cast members will help walk you through the process of check in, confirming all of your contact and billing information as well as using your MagicBands to pull up your reservation! Once your room is ready, you’ll be asked to tap your MagicBands to your door. If you’re staying club level at one of the deluxe resorts, you’ll be asked to tap each MagicBands to your door to register them as a club level guest. You may also have received a direct to room notification if you completed online check in and you can head right to your room and bypass the front desk!

Heading to the theme parks

Once you are checked in, you are able to use your park tickets and dining plan! Whether your room is ready or not, you can head to the parks (another benefit to arriving early in the day!) If you are driving to the park, the driver will need to present his or her MagicBand at the gate to prove your stay inside one of the Disney resort hotels allowing you free parking! You’ll find one of the many MagicBand scanners in the park, mostly noted by the giant Mickey Heads! Hold your band to Mickey’s head as it reads the RFID chip. Once that’s done, choose one of your fingers to put on the finger scanner. You’ll need to use the same finger every single time afterwards. This will turn Mickey’s head green and you’re off to enjoy your first attraction! If there are any issues, you’ll get a blue flashing light and to be asked to try again.

Using your FastPass+ reservations Your FastPass+ reservations will be available via your MagicBands. Each attraction that has FastPass+ capability will have the same Mickey Heads at their FastPass entry. Hold your band to Mickey to wait for the green light. You are unable to arrive prior to your FastPass+ time, but you are given several minutes of grace period after your reservation time ends (I tried 20 minutes late which was too long). For suggestions on making your FastPass+ reservations or what attractions are available, review the most up to date FastPass+ strategy for Disney World Resort Guests.

Extra Magic Hours

What if I’m taking advantage of Extra Magic Hours? It’s different for morning and evening hours. For morning magic hours, only Disney hotel guests are able to enter the park early. You’ll need to show your MagicBand at entry only. For evening hours, one member of your party will need to show your MagicBand for scanning at the entrance to each attraction available during extra magic hours. A cast member will ask how many is joining in your party as you enter to save on scanning each and every time!

Charging to your MagicBands

When you do online check in OR check into your resort, you will be asked to set up a 4 digit pin to allow charges via your MagicBand. The pin can be different for each adult or the same for each member of your party. Additionally, based on age, some children will not be allowed charging privileges at all. Some older children may be allowed to charge with parental permission (they’d need access to the pin as well). If you don’t want your children to purchase anything, that’s ok too.

Dining Plan Credits

If you elected to add Disney’s Dining Plan to your package, your dining plan credits will also be on your MagicBands. Your MagicBand will be scanned to use your credits. As always, your remaining credits will be listed at the bottom of your receipt.

Taking Photos/Memory Maker

Each photographer is now armed with a scanning device. So take as many photos as you’d like, enjoy the benefits of Disney’s Memory Maker package! After you are done with your photos, the photographer will scan one MagicBand and the photos will be instantly added to your account! Again, easier than trying to keep track of another card along the way of your entire vacation!

What if I’m staying at 2 separate Disney hotels/resorts or have 2 reservations because of 2 discounts?

We actually stayed at 2 different resorts so had 2 MagicBands each. Our first resort reservation had our hotel and park tickets and the second was a room only reservation. We were told to formally check out of our first resort (instead of leaving the reservation open through the end of the day). When we arrived at the second resort, we were told that both sets of bands would work for both the resort entry as well as the park tickets. We brought both sets of bands with to the park that day and the cast member was correct! We were able to use our new bands to continue our park tickets.

My review of MagicBands

I really enjoyed using our MagicBands! We used them for everything. I never had to worry about digging in my bag for my Key to the World card to get into the park or grab my credit card to pay for anything (especially as we toured World Showcase in Epcot). We never had a problem throughout our entire trip getting into our hotel room, accessing the parks and our FastPass+ reservations, charging at quick service or table service restaurants, etc. It was a great overall experience with no snafus! I’m excited for others to try this upgrade to Disney technology!

Related posts:

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

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

Ready to get started planning your 2016 or 2017 Disney World vacation? Please contact me at any time for a free quote. The benefits to using an authorized Disney vacation planner include saving time before and during your vacation with itinerary planning which can help save you hours of standing in line each day. Plus you won’t have to watch for available discounts, research resorts, wake up early for dining reservations, or stay up late for FastPasses. The best part about using a travel planner instead of planning yourself? It’s totally FREE! Plus I’ll take away some of the stress and confusion of planning a Disney vacation (especially if it’s your first one!)It’s also a worry free 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!

Let’s talk about Disney World weather!

 

It’s coming up to the summer season again, which means weather is a hot topic both literally and figuratively. Around this time of year I start fielding questions about what to do if it rains during the trip, or why there is rain in the forecast every day. Rain is very seasonal in Florida, and Disney World is no exception. Most importantly, don’t let the rain dampen (pun intended) your trip!

During the summer months into fall, expect rain almost on a daily basis. Most of the time this rain isn’t in all day, soaking rain. Afternoon showers are often welcomed as the heat and humidity of the day come to a head. Often times this is welcomed, as cooler temperatures often and prevail. This is a great time of day to take an afternoon break (especially if you’re in Magic Kingdom). If you’re staying in a park during this time, find an indoor attraction or continue on with your plans. It’s always good to have a poncho packed and ready to go when there’s a threat of rain. Don’t forget about something to cover the little one strollers. We found a great stroller cover from Amazon that’s completely see-through but Shields our daughter from rain. Very kind stranger also gave her a poncho on a previous trip which she thought was awesome the first time around and a torture device the next trip!

Poncho2009

Don’t let the rain and wearing a poncho get you down!

So what happens if it does rain during your trip? Make the most of it! Many people had for the buses and their cars, so
lines often get shorter. Many of the attractions have covered queues while you wait or if you really don’t want to get wet,  find an indoor attraction to wait out the rain. Rain is also a good time to go shopping, or have a meal. While you won’t be the only one with these ideas, it’s better to stay as dry as possible.

If rain is in the forecast, we always bring a pair of sandals with us. While tennis shoes are a must for our family while touring the theme parks, nobody likes wet socks or blistered feet the following day. If you want to keep your tennis shoes on, make sure you have an extra pair of socks available. Something I didn’t think about last time was a bag to put wet socks and clothes into. A small plastic bag (or the bag that comes in your ice bucket in your resort room) will do just fine. When you return to your resort, air everything out. We always pack a second pair of tennis shoes as a back up because let me tell you, shoes do not dry in one day. If you only have one pair of shoes, a hair dryer often works, but be prepared for some stinky shoes (and feet) the rest of the trip.

I also ALWAYS bring a hat when there is a strong threat of rain. It gets the rain out of my eyes as I walk and for whatever reason the darn hoods on the ponchos don’t stay on my head without me holding them. Well I can’t push a stroller AND hold my poncho, so a hat solves all of those problems for me! It doesn’t make for great family photos but it’s a great way to save that horrible feeling of rain drops right in the face!

NemoPonchoIf it looks like an all day kind of rain, stick with your plans! We got absolutely poured on during our last trip. Rain started around 2:30 and soaked us through almost 8 pm. Almost everything was “walk on” and none of the attractions were closed because it was just rain and not lightning in the area. We had a little swim into Ariel’s Grotto and were the ONLY people in line around 6 pm and grabbed a very last minute FastPass for Cinderella & Rapunzel (Anna & Elsa was also available as I’m guessing someone got tired of being wet). We’ve done Disney in the rain, but this was the most soaking rain I’ve ever encountered. To stay dry we watched Carousel of Progress, rode PeopleMover, checked out a few shops, had dinner, met some characters, and ended the day with fireworks RIGHT as the rain was stopping. Ahhh the magic of Disney!

On the other end of the spectrum, summer brings HEAT. This is nothing to be messed with. Please listen to your body, keep yourselves and your kids appropriately hydrated with water, Gatorade/Powerade, and other liquids that replenish your fluids. Stay away from caffeine when possible (you won’t get me up early to hit a Disney park without coffee) and stay away from carbonated beverages. Find a place to cool off during the heat of the day and plan your indoor experiences for the afternoons. The best part about those “indoor” activities is they don’t typically have long waits or they are continuously running shows so it’s a nice air-conditioned place to rest your feet, cool you and your family, and enjoy some more Disney fun!

Do you have any Disney secrets for beating the the weather?

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)

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

Disney’s Memory Maker: How does it work and is it worth my money?

How Does Disney's Memory Maker Work and is it worth the money?

If you’re planning a Disney World vacation, sooner or later you’ll see information about Memory Maker – Disney’s photography package. Disney touts it as “the most incredible way to capture and relive your vacation memories”.I was a bit skeptical of the entire situation as first. I didn’t think it would be worth my $149. I was absolutely wrong! The first time I tried it was November last year during a conference with a group of 7 adults. We enjoyed the experience going around the parks, meeting characters, and taking advantage of the opportunity to have us all in every photo without someone being stuck behind the camera. My 2nd experience was with my immediate family and thats where the magic truly happened! It was my daughter’s first Disney World visit and capturing the smile on her face as she got to meet her favorite characters was PRICELESS! I wasn’t required to be behind the camera to preserve those moments – Disney did it for me. We ended up with at least 70 photos I was truly happy with and saved from our collection of about 300. Our most recent trip in April afforded us another opportunity to use Memory Maker. Over 7 days of park time, we ended up with nearly 800 photos at our disposal and I had hundreds of favorites to choose from (two of which are on my wall above my desk!)

Our more recent experience with the product was in January. We didn’t see as many characters this time around as my daughter took a liking to more of the attractions so about 300 photos that time around but still a great overall experience!

How does it work?

Once you purchase Memory Maker whether it’s through a package or as an individual purchase, the allotment is linked in your My Disney Experience account and all MagicBands linked to your account. If you have additional family and friends traveling with you, linking their accounts to yours will also allow them to use Memory Maker. Once on site, locate any PhotoPass photographer in one of Disney’s theme parks and ask to have your photo taken (if it’s a character experience, they will do it automatically). Scan one MagicBand from the group and voila! Your photos are uploaded to your My Disney Experience account. NEW Disney has added a preview of photos on the My Disney Experience app so you can view photos in the park in real time (allow a few minutes for upload, but it’s typically very quick) – something fun to do while you wait in line for another attraction.

How do a find a PhotoPass photographer?Fox family

Photographers are roaming around the parks and ready for your close up. You’ll see them at all of the major milestone locations and any location with a unique backdrop. Some photographers are only out at night while other locations are better during the day time. The My Disney Experience app now has a list of available locations for photographers. I think Disney heard the questions and feedback of all of you 2014 and 2015 travelers wishing to have more info on photo opportunities. You’ll find additional opportunities during special events and during the holiday season where photographers can also be found in the Disney deluxe resorts near the giant Christmas tree displays.

What are Magic Shots?

Magic Shots are fantastic little photos that Disney superimposes a character or little something special to Ellie MagicShotyour photo. The Disney photographer will pose you to make the shot work, set up their cameras and give you a few instructions for a face to make to truly make the moment memorable. You may ask for a Magic Shot from any photographer. Te general rule of thumb is that if a photographer has a camera on a tripod, they don’t have Magic Shots. If it’s a hand held camera, they may have something to help.

How long are my photos available?

You have 45 days from when the photo was taken to download them to keep them forever. You may purchase an extension if you need more time, but it’s best to just download them – throw them on your desktop and do the hard work of looking through the photos later.

I have a large group/multiple rooms. Do I need to purchase more than one allotment of Memory Maker?

Absolutely not! Guests will need to be appropriately linked through My Disney Experience under friends and family. As long as all guests are linked to the guest who purchased Memory Maker, the lead person will be able to download all of the photos. It’s best to have each party member linked to every other party member so everyone can see every photo taken online – it will have no affect on being able to download them.

I’m trying to view photos I’ve taken online but I only see a location to purchase or add it, what gives?

This is a common complaint from guests. You can view them from one of 2 places. The easiest way is by

One of my favorite photos from our April trip!

One of my favorite photos from our April trip!

visiting MyDisneyPhotoPass.com and logging in with the same credentials as My Disney Experience.You can also visit the My Disney Experience web site and go to the reservations and tickets page. The link to view photos from Memory Maker is all the way at the bottom of that page.

What do I do with my photos when I get home?

The lead guest (the person who has Memory Maker assigned to them) will have a DOWNLOAD button available (use either option in the question above to view them). Memory Maker is a digital entitlement so once your photos are downloaded, you may do whatever you’d like to with them whether its post them on Facebook or Instagram for family and friends, make a photo book through Shutterfly, or just keep them for yourself. You may take those photos to any local retailer to have them printed as well. Disney provides you with a letter of “ownership” to take with you if the retailer has any questions.

Is it worth the money?

This little girl of mine tried to beep every character's nose she encountered!

This little girl of mine tried to beep every character’s nose she encountered!

In a completely unbiased capacity, Y-E-S! I love it. Any trip traveling with a child or children, I will most definitely add it on to my package. For anyone interested in meeting characters, it’s worth it! For anyone who wants to to capture memories from their trip – YES! For anyone who is always stuck being the photographer – absolutely yes!

I heard Disney photographers will take a photo with my camera as well, is that true?

Yes, if you stop by any PhotoPass photographer and ask them to take a photo with your camera after they are done with the official photos, they will. In my previous experiences, those photos are not as good of quality as the official shots and since most of them only snap one photo, you’ll lower your chances that the entire family is both looking at the camera and smiling!

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)

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

The Disney World Deluxe resort difference

 

It’s no secret that Disney World deluxe resorts are the top of the line in terms of available accommodations around their property. While they come with a larger price tag, I do feel like they are absolutely the ONLY option for me! After getting recharged with 2 amazing deluxe resorts over the past few days and it gave me a huge recharge of how much I absolutely love them! Don’t get me wrong, I love (almost) all Disney World resorts, but deluxe resorts are just a cut above the rest! So what makes them so amazing? Let me count the ways…

Service. All Disney cast members are trained to help traveling guests but deluxe service takes it to another level! I was greeted at Disney’s Grand Floridian at 10 am to check into my resort by a wonderful gentleman who had a conversation with me and truly engaged in the process. I was greeted by another wonderful cast member who walked me through the check in process. Now, I’m a frequent Disney goer, so the check in process is nothing new to me but this experience brought a new light to the experience and how wonderful it can be! I had an issue with my MagicBand (which my husband laughed at because it’s a pretty typical scenario for me) and I had another two cast members come to my rescue. In 10 minutes, I had touch points with FOUR different cast members who magically remedied this situation!

Dining. All Disney resorts have a quick service/grab and go dining option, but deluxe resorts have a minimum of THREE dining experiences (table service, quick service, and signature dining). That’s at minimum. You’ll likely see more than just 3 dining locations. And these are some of the best dining experiences you’ll find either inside or outside of the park INCLUDING character dining! How nice would it be to go from your room to enjoy a world class dining experience and then head back to your room to change back into park clothes to head back to the park.

Location, location, location. Almost every single Disney World deluxe resort has more than one mode of transportation to get you to and from the theme parks (exception – Animal Kingdom Lodge). This means you’ll be spending less time getting to and from the theme parks and more time enjoying them. This is great for many reasons – families that want their toddlers or young children to have a nap in the middle of the day, families that want to enjoy their resort’s amenities and not spend the entire trip inside the parks, interest in a great pool experience, or additional recreational activities. There is more to Disney than just theme parks and the deluxe resort offer some amazing opportunities to explore the surroundings and even watch fireworks right from your resort (or even your room).

Club Level Service. I’ve talked about club level service at Disney World resorts in several previous posts. I was lucky enough to stay at Beach Club and enjoy their club level service. I always enjoy the club level offerings and it really gives you a more upscale feel. This is definitely luxury travel! You have a continental breakfast each morning, light snacks and

Club level snacks offered at Beach Club resort (similar offerings at most other resorts)

Club level snacks offered at Beach Club resort (similar offerings at most other resorts)

refreshments mid-day (and this is a very quiet place to relax and work for those of us traveling on business), hot and cold appetizers in the evening and an array of lovely desserts in the evening. These meals are not meant to take over your daily meals (I still needed a dinner each evening, but it was nice to have access to drinks and some snacks while I was arriving). This is a fantastic resort opportunity for guests who want more out of their Disney World experience beyond just theme parks. Cast members are available daily to answer questions (and I put them to the test) as well as help guide you with transportation and making recommendations for dining and park plans. While there is a concierge at every Disney World resort, these special cast members are available to help on a more intricate level. For more on club level service…Club Level Service Overview and The Best Walt Disney World Club Level service.

Additional activities. If you’re looking for more to your Disney experience than just theme parks, look no further than deluxe resorts (and Disney deluxe villas). This amazing locations have water sports, special evening activities – roasting marshmallows on the beach, a view of fireworks right from your resort, upgraded pool experiences. These are really uniquely themed pool complexes with elaborate kids splash play areas and spacious pools so that every family has a great experience. In resorts like Grand Floridian, you can also book High Tea! We’ve made vacations at deluxe resorts with really limited time inside the theme parks because there is just so much to do and explore!

Space! In addition to the best locations on property, you’ll also get the most square footage in your room and even options for 1 and 2 bedroom spaces on club level floors as well as expanding your horizons to the villas. The rooms at Grand Floridian allow plenty of space for a family of 5 with 2 queen beds plus a day bed and still plenty of space for 5 suitcases (or a crib/pack n play if you are traveling with little ones) without feeling like you are tripping over each other. It’s a huge difference in the experience, especially coming from the tiny rooms at the All Star resorts!

I can’t wait for my next deluxe resort stay! I know it’s an additional cost out of pocket, but the benefits are perfect for our family! We are a fairly frugal family and I’m fairly plain as it relates to the clothing/name brand I purchase, but these “name brand” Disney experiences are absolutely worth the upgrade! If you’re looking to upgrade from your usual value or moderate resort stays, you can “try out” the lower cost rooms at either Wilderness Lodge or Animal Kingdom Lodge before you go on the very high end of the puzzle like a club level or theme park view room!

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

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

Ready to get started planning your 2016 Disney World vacation? Please contact me at any time for a free quote. The benefits to using an authorized Disney vacation planner include saving time before and during your vacation with itinerary planning which can help save you hours of standing in line each day. Plus you won’t have to watch for available discounts, research resorts, wake up early for dining reservations, or stay up late for FastPasses. The best part about using a travel planner instead of planning yourself? It’s totally FREE! Plus I’ll take away some of the stress and confusion of planning a Disney vacation (especially if it’s your first one!)It’s also a worry free vacation opportunity. I’ll walk through through all of the steps to the process with a few little insider tips along the way! If you already have your vacation planned and are interested in transferring your vacation, ask me how!

 

How to make the most out of your Disney World summer vacation!

disney world summer vacation

It’s finally spring, even though it doesn’t feel like it here in the Midwest. With summer vacations right around the corner, here are my tips and tricks for beating the heat this summer but still having an absolutely AMAZING time!!

1. Get water for free. Ice water is free at all quick service locations, even if you don’t buy anything else. Disney understands that the sun is hot in Florida and they’d much rather have hydrated guests then ones going to the hospital or leaving for the day because of heat related illness. Feel free to ask for a cup of water at any time of year, but it’s most common in summer. Many guests don’t like the taste of Orlando water so bring some Mio, Crystal Light Packets, etc. For us sometimes this isn’t enough (my husband is the water monitor for our family to ensure we are staying hydrated, so we order water from a delivery service and bring bottles with us into the park).

2. Know the park hours and arrive early. Check Disney’s website before your arrival and plan ahead. Arrive before park opening (rope drop) and head for the major attractions first. Make sure you know which park has extra magic hours and if you can’t get there at 8 am, go elsewhere. Remember, crowds get longer faster on EMH mornings. You’ll regret arriving at 11. If you have park hoppers, try and take advantage of those parks with extra magic hours to enjoy the parks before it gets hot out. If you’re going to add the park hopper, consider the water park fun and more ticket as well (it’s less expensive than a single day water park ticket and you can enjoy the parks for more than one day).

3. Schedule your FastPasses appropriately. There are a few different schools of thought – use FastPasses in the early portion of the day and then add more as the day goes on vs. leaving your scheduled FastPasses for mid-day. You may want to escape the heat in mid-day and you don’t want to be married to a park just for FastPasses (especially popular attractions like Seven Dwarfs Mine Train or meeting Anna & Elsa that you won’t be able to change!) For a full rundown of FastPass strategy and best use, check out one of my most popular posts!

4. Use water rides to your advantage. Water based attractions often have long lines during the hot sun of the afternoon. It’s a great cool off and utilization of one of your FastPasses! Think Kali River Rapids and Splash Mountain.

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Kid’s Splash area at Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort

5. Take a break. The hot sun between noon and 3 can be exhausting. Regardless of the time of year, plan on taking a break. Whether it’s a nap or a swim, make sure you don’t wear yourself out. All Disney resorts have uniquely themed pools and if that’s not enough, hit the water parks!

6. Don’t try to do it all in one day. Don’t be a hero! You don’t need to do every attraction, even on a short vacation. You’ll be exhausted, hot, and cranky. You can always come back again 🙂

7. Don’t let the rain chase you away. Pack some ponchos and enjoy the free cool off! Don’t forget an extra one for your stroller! Plain on rain almost every afternoon in late summer based on humidity alone. Almost every single attraction stays open in the rain, so don’t let it ruin your day. The exception would be lightning in the area or torrential downpours!

8. Don’t forget the sunscreen. PLEASE don’t forget the sunscreen! Nothing will ruin vacation like a horrible sun burn and not wanting to head back into the sun. Apply in the morning, reapply throughout the day! Between sweat and water rides, you’ll need it. Spray sunscreen is very easily applied.

9. Bring your own water. Yep! It’s allowed 🙂

10. Make sure your feet are comfortable. Get some moisture wicking socks and comfortable shoes with good soles. A bad blister or bad shoes can be a damper on your vacation.

11. Know where to go for some air conditioned attractions. Indoor character meet and greets and theater shows are two of the most popular. Theater shows often seat a large number of people at once so crowds are often low!

12. Dress appropriately. Wear light layers, loose fitting clothing, and breathable material to keep yourself cool.

13. Cool off in a bathroom. Sounds strange, but they are air conditioned and it makes a big difference as you’re getting overheated! For families with younger children, check out the baby care centers. These are additional areas to allow you and your kiddos to cool off. They are popular, but it’s a nice little break!

14. Check out a water park. I know this got mentioned a few different times throughout this post, but they are incredibly fun! I couldn’t believe how much fun we had as adults rolling down the slides and family rides. Even during the heat of a 90 degree day, the lines aren’t incredibly long! Check out a little bit more on Disney’s Blizzard Beach:

15. First opportunity for some of Disney’s newest experiences. This spring and summer there are SO many new things popping up:

  • Frozen Ever After and the opening of Arendelle in Epcot
  • Reopening of Soarin’ in Epcot: Soarin’ Around the World
  • Rivers of Light and extended hours in Animal Kingdom theme park
  • All things Star Wars in Hollywood Studios – an amazing new Stage show with favorite Star Wars characters as well as an enhanced fireworks show each evening.
  • Evening events in ALL four parks for the first time ever! It’s going to be the best summer ever!!
A free gift for your Disney vacation! The amazing and exciting Minnie Box! (subject to minimum vacation package)

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

Ready to get started planning your 2016 Disney World vacation? Please contact me at any time for a free quote. The benefits to using an authorized Disney vacation planner include saving time before and during your vacation with itinerary planning which can help save you hours of standing in line each day. Plus you won’t have to watch for available discounts, research resorts, wake up early for dining reservations, or stay up late for FastPasses. The best part about using a travel planner instead of planning yourself? It’s totally FREE! Plus I’ll take away some of the stress and confusion of planning a Disney vacation (especially if it’s your first one!)It’s also a worry free vacation opportunity. I’ll walk through through all of the steps to the process with a few little insider tips along the way! If you already have your vacation planned and are interested in transferring your vacation, ask me how!