A room with a view at your Disney World resort!

Disney World offers so many available resorts and room options that it can be hard to choose.Something that many guests (including me) consider is a room with a view! Disney allows you to book in many different booking categories in each resort which often makes the process of dissecting all of your options even more challenging – once you’ve decided on a resort or two to look into, you now have an additional 4 or more room views to choose from.

Each resort has a “standard view’ or “standard room” which means different things at different location. At the Yacht & Beach Club as well as Wilderness Lodge, a standard view typically overlooks the parking lot or a service area. At Pop Century, your standard room can overlook the lake toward Art of Animation or the parking lot. At value resorts (and to a certain extent moderate resorts), it’s more about location than it is about view out your window since you won’t have a private balcony. And a standard room at Port Orleans French Quarter is typically of the grounds or walkways based on the general layout of the resort. Having a room with a view is most important in the deluxe resort and deluxe villa category because you have that balcony to sit out on (or escape the quiet and darkness of a child taking a nap). It’s a nice place to have coffee in the morning or to check on work (yes, work on vacation)!

So you want a room with a view, it depends on what type of view you want (and how to ask for it)! All Disney resorts accept room requests which starts with online check in and the basic options. You (or your travel agent) may call Disney reservations via phone and make verbal requests as well. Some of these requests would be along the lines of “room facing Magic Kingdom/Contemporary” at Wilderness Lodge or “room near walkway to Epcot” at Beach Club. Generally, keeping in more generalities instead of making a request for a specific room is most effective because if that room is not available, you’re leaving the room assigner with limited information of why you choose that room.

The best view in the house - Magic Kingdom from your balcony (view from Contemporary resort but similar views available at Grand Floridian & Polynesian)

The best view in the house – Magic Kingdom from your balcony (view from Contemporary resort but similar views available at Grand Floridian & Polynesian)

In the Magic Kingdom area, you can book rooms with a “theme park view” which is a direct view from your balcony of Magic Kingdom. This is a specific booking category at Contemporary & Bay Lake Tower, Polynesian Village, and Grand Floridian and obviously comes at a bit of an advanced price. Something can be said for being able to open your curtains or step out onto your balcony and see the entire fireworks show or wake up to Cinderella’s Castle. If that price tag is a bit steep for you, can book in a lower category and use the public viewing areas in any of those resorts to get the same view (but I’m happy to watch in my PJs and then draw the curtains and crash into bed!) A lesser known option (and one of my favorites) are the standard rooms at Wilderness Lodge – requesting a room that faces Contemporary/Magic Kingdom. Some of the upper rooms will allow you to see most of the fireworks at Magic Kingdom. While there’s no music piped into your room, it’s still a great way to catch the magic every day. For the best views, book a club level room because that will put you on the 7th floor and you have a club level concierge to speak with to appropriately make your room requests in a manner that they will understand and help assist. Please be aware that all room requests are not a guarantee, so if 30 people requests that same view, only 8 of them may be accommodated because of availability.

Panoramic view of Bay Lake View at Contemporary Resort

Panoramic view of Bay Lake View at Contemporary Resort

Staying in the Magic Kingdom area, you also have the option to book a lake or lagoon view depending on your resort. These rooms are often peaceful with the view of the water (At Contemporary & Bay Lake Tower it’s a view of Bay Lake) and at Grand Floridian & Polynesian Village, it’s a view of Seven Seas Lagoon (some of these rooms may offer you a glimpse of Magic Kingdom but not enough for Disney to classify it as a “theme park view”).

Part of the 'courtyard' view area at Wilderness Lodge

Part of the ‘courtyard’ view area at Wilderness Lodge

At Wilderness Lodge, your options are completely different – you can choose from woods or courtyard views which offer you views of the tree-lined area of the resort or toward the center of the resort overlooking the pool and courtyard. Some of these rooms can be quite noisy as an upgrade, but they did a really wonderful job designing the resort (as well as all of the resorts), so many guests truly enjoy the experience!

In the Epcot resort area, you typically have an option of standard view (as mentioned above), garden or woods view (which is typically landscaping/vegetation), as well as lagoon/pool view. These rooms will either overlook the resort’s pools at either Yacht & Beach Club or Boardwalk Inn/Villas (based on the resort you are staying in) or Crescent Lake which is the waterway separating these resorts. Boardwalk also offers a “Boardwalk View” which is of the bustling area with shopping, dining and nightlife. I’ve been told these rooms can get quite noisy (we haven’t booked one simply because of that fact – we prefer to “get away from it all” when we get back to our room in the evening!)

What about Animal Kingdom Lodge? There are lots of options available! You have the standard view (again, service
area or parking lot) as well as pool view and my favorites – Savanna and Arusha view. This gives you direct viewing area of the animals that live on the property. Typically the animals available are based on the area of the resort you are staying in so if your daughter loves giraffes, make sure you know where they are on property and make the best room choice and appropriate room request. This is a great resort for families with little ones or those that want a day or two off from the parks as it gives you a lot to look at outside of water or the parks if you’re not going inside that day!

Do you NEED a room with a view? Definitely not. We’ve stayed in standard view rooms and stepped out onto our balcony and had a big tree blocking it or looked down at the convention center but those were trips where convenience of resort location mattered more than being in the resort. As we become more seasoned (and let’s face it, more spoiled) with everything Disney has to offer, view and location are both important so we typically opt for the view. I have a kiddo who doesn’t like fireworks at the moment (hopefully as she gets older that will subside), so if I can see them from my balcony it’s a huge bonus to me (or if we can slowly introduce them to her at a distance without a huge boom, it’s a win!) We’re also a family that takes breaks during the day, so going back to the resort and having a nice place to rest is important as well! If you are choosing a deluxe resort, it’s worth the consideration of choosing a room with a view!!

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 and finding your perfect view? 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!

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Planning your early 2016 Disney World vacation

Early 2016

With the new year not far away and the holidays upon us, it’s time to talk about how to plan for early 2016 Disney World vacations. This guide is specifically for guests looking to travel in January, February, and March (through the week of Easter).

For January travelers, time is a bit short, but there’s still plenty of time to grab dining reservations, FastPasses, and plan a perfect Disney getaway following Christmas to get away those winter blues!

January and February are a great time to travel for many reasons – first it’s not often crowded as many families have kids back in school after a long break. It’s also a time of year that’s not very hot so it makes park touring more comfortable. If you’ve got younger child, this is great for you as well because park hours are not often extended as they are during more popular times of year which means you could in theory see a fireworks show around 8 or 9 pm without stretching the limits of bedtime too far!

A few busier times to note for this time of year:IMG_4982 (2)

  • Disney Marathon weekend – January 8-10 (this does not have a huge impact on overall crowds, but it’s noteworthy
  • MLK Jr weekend – January 15-18
  • President’s Day weekend – Feb 13-15
  • Valentine’s Day – Feb 14
  • Princess 1/2 Marathon weekend – Feb 19-21 (this has a bit of a larger impact than the marathon weekend does, but crowds subside quickly after the event)

If you’re hoping for a little bit warmer weather or extended park hours, March is a great time for you. It’s also a great time to take advantage of kids spring breaks! While it makes for a bit more crowded park touring experience (and sometimes more expensive flights), you’ll still have a fantastic vacation experience! The week of Easter is typically the busiest time of the spring break season.

The first three months of the year are not considered part of the “rainy season” in Orlando. The area was built on a swamp, so you may see a few drops here and there (sorry, I can’t control the weather), but hopefully it will be very minimal!

Crowd Calendars

Below are projections of crowds for early 2016. Click the images below to see the images larger! These are subject to change. Please don’t be concerned about a “red days”. You will have a magical experience no matter what time of year you travel. Typically it’s not “wall to wall” crowds!

January 2016 Disney World Crowd Caneldar

(Click to Enlarge)

 

February 2016 Crowd Calendar

February 2016 (Click to Enlarge)

 

March 2016 Crowd calendar

March 2016 (Click to Enlarge)

Saving Money

polyPromotional rates have expired. Look toward the ends couple of weeks for a new promotional which may include SOME of these travel dates!

Refurbishments

The only “downside” to this time of year is attraction closures for refurbishments and renovations to resorts. Below is a list of all of the known attraction closures during the first three months of the year:

  • Disney’s Polynesian Resort  is scheduled to continue refurbishment. It should be the end of this major refurbishment!TL
  • Caribbean Beach Resort (Jan 3 – Feb 28;  Some public areas may have some construction noise during the day)
  • Soarin’ (Jan 4 – Summer 2016)
  • Splash Mountain (Jan 10 – 14)
  • Pizza Planet (Jan 11 – Late 2016)
  • Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin (Jan 15-Feb 11)
  • Liberty Square Riverboat (Jan 18-22)
  • Mad Tea Party (Feb 22-26)
  • Planet Hollywood  (Jan 6 – summer 2016)
  • Typhoon Lagoon annual refurbishment (Jan 3 – March 12)
  • Ol’ Man Island Pool (Port Orleans Riverside) (Jan 11-Feb 29)
  • Wilderness Lodge & Villas (multiple refurbishment projects running through 2017)
  • Flying Fish Cafe (Feb 1 – Sept 30)

Thankfully, only Soarin’ is the only attraction with a “major” impact on guest travel!

Limited Time Experiences!

So what makes this time of year unique? A few really exciting things this year.

Symphony in the Stars This popular limited time fireworks experience in Hollywood Studios is returning on a nightly basis. As of January 5, you’ll also be able to book a Fireworks Dessert party!

Growing Star Wars presence in Hollywood Studios. On December 1st, Disney opened Star Wars Launch Bay, updated Star Tours to include scenes from the new film, updated Jedi Training academy featuring a new villain and updated experience as well as a new themed stage, and new character meet and greets – you can visit the dark side and find Darth Vader or the light side and find Chewbacca! These experiences are available EVERY DAY instead of just limited time during Star Wars weekends!

Minnie’s Seasonal Dine at Hollywood & Vine. Each season, Minnie will host a character dinner at Hollywood & Vine which can be coupled with the Fantasmic dining package. This experience will allow you to meet Minnie and her friends (the holiday version came with Goofy & Mickey). In winter, you can “dine with the stars”! Plenty of good reservations are still available. As of March 21, the experience will change over to a “spring” themed experience (booking is not available fg2for this time-frame yet, so there’s still a chance to get a great character dining experience during peak travel time!)

Epcot’s Flower & Garden Festival. This annual experience continues to grow (excuse the pun). This year the Flower & Garden Festival is extended to 90 magical days and begins on March 2nd! You can see your favorite Disney characters made into gorgeous topiaries and nosh on some tasty food in the “fresh kitchens” around World showcase. This is a huge change in experience from several years ago as the kitchen experience continues to grow! I can’t wait to see what’s new this year.

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!

Small Business Saturday – Why to choose an Authorized Disney Vacation Planner

small business saturday

Happy Small Business Saturday! I first want to say thank you to every single one of my guests who has supported me whether it’s allowing me to help plan your Disney World, Disneyland, or Disney Cruise adventure or referred a friend or family member to me. It has truly been a blessing to work with each of every one of my hundreds of guests whether you found me through a blog or friend, truly, THANK YOU! You have allowed me the opportunity to make magic, enjoy what I do for my job, and allow me to stay home with my amazing and beautiful daughter as well as let me “work” in Disneyland for 8 beautiful nights last week!

I’d also like to make a quick thank you to all of you small business owners. I know very well how difficult things can be and why shopping local is so important! I try to do so whenever possible to pay it forward! Keep on keeping on! If it’s a rough time or a slow time during the holidays, it will bounce back. Keep the faith and stay positive! (this is typically my slowest time of year, so I get it).

Now the big question…why choose an authorized Disney vacation planner to help with your Disney World vacation? There are SO many reasons. I’ve touched on many of them before, but after returning from my planner conference last week, I have a few more additions that make Dawn and me (since we are a part of Magical Vacations LLC) unique and a cut above the rest.

Magical Vacations Logo - Landscape

  1. It’s FREE! Yes. F-R-E-E, no strings attached FREE! The price you can find on Disney’s web site is the same that I can pull up for you through Disney’s Travel Agent portal. All travel agents have the exact same cost available to them – we are not allowed to discount or offer “signing” bonuses to you, so it’s all about what your agent can do for you! Yes, we still get paid but it’s after you return home from your trip, so it’s in my best interest as a small business owner to work my butt off to make sure I exceed your expectations in hopes that you’ll recommend me to family and friends.
  2. It’s a time saver. Do you want to wake up at 6 am eastern time to make dining reservations (or even search through the 80+ menus of the table service restaurants available to you?)? Do you want to research FastPass strategy and get an idea of all of the available attractions to make the best choice and then think about how to organize them in a way to go around the parks and then stay up until midnight to book them all? AND Do you want to constantly monitor Disney’s web site for promotional offers, AK_EVRST3_7261858207changes in park hours, or attraction refurbishments leading up to your trip? I’d make a wild guess that most of you will say no to all of these things. THIS is where Magical Vacations makes such a big difference. We are a full service DISNEY ONLY* agency which means we know our stuff and know how to make our guests stays a better overall experience. Did you know that many agencies don’t require their agents to book FastPasses for their guests? At my conference, our group was the only one I found that truly booked everything. Yes, it’s a heck of a lot more time consuming, but it’s a heck of a lot more successful as well! It gives you as the guest an opportunity to follow our daily itineraries to help save you time inside the parks!
  3. It’s less stressful. Going back to all of the points in #2, you have someone here to take away the stress and anxiety of planning a Disney trip. Most guests spend several thousand dollars on your trip. Unless you have someone “in the business”, you wouldn’t spend several thousand dollars on your house to make renovations without talking to someone, would you? So allow me the opportunity to help answer your questions, calm your fears, and allow the true magic of Disney come out!
  4. Knowledge. I consider myself a Disney expert, especially Disney World! I’m rarely stumped by a question related to Disney World and if I am (kudos) and I’ll find you the answer! Did you know that you need to get your flight info to Magical Express before your departure? Did you know that getting a FastPass for Anna & Elsa is usually only available at the 60 day mark prior to your arrival (sometimes gone within a few minutes of that important midnight time frame?) Do you know of special events going on during your stay? I’m here to help with all of this knowledge and imparting it in a way that is not overwhelming in little bits and bites culminating in a gift for your family shortly before your departure.
  5. The Minnie Box. This is our unique gift to you and is unique to our agency! It was created and trademarked by our Magical Vacations owner and gives you the excitement of opening your big yellow bow like a present right before you arrive for your vacation! As Disney went “paperless” with the introduction of MyMagic+, there’s nothing much you receive directly from Disney to get you excited. While every Disney vacation is exciting, the Minnie Box just adds a little something extra!!
  6. Being in the middle of the magic! Will you remember the work that Ellie minniewent into planning your vacation and things that went wrong if you spend hours upon hours pouring over blogs, online information, and doing independent research? Probably! What Disney is truly about is the MAGIC! Remembering your child’s first meeting with a character – beeping Minnie Mouse’s nose, giving a big hug to goofy! Having the best meal of your life in one of Disney’s signature dining locations, or seeing the tears in your mother’s eyes as she watches Wishes fireworks with you. It’s those magical moments that I do what I do and not for the money! I’ve gotten asked to return to my office job more than once and I won’t do it because I love the magic making!

*Little asterisk to Disney only – We are also authorized to book Universal Orlando as it is becoming a big player in the area market so we also have training and authorization to help with a little bit beyond Disney!

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

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

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

Tips and Tricks for Planning a Walt Disney World Vacation

Tips & Tricks for Planning a Disney World Vacation

So you want to plan a Disney vacation. Congrats! You’ve gotten to the first BIG step: RESEARCH

This step would ideally be completed 7-12 months before your travel date. Already feel behind? Don’t worry, I’ll catch you up! During the research phase, I’d suggest ordering a planning DVD from Disney’s web site. This will familiarize you with the parks and some of the great things Disney World has to offer presented in a fun way the whole family will enjoy.

Next steps, create your budget. I suggest creating multiple budgets underneath your full budget. This would include airfare or gas to get you to Disney, hotel and park tickets, food (or dining plan), souvenirs, and any extra spending money. During down travel times, a decent budget for a family of 4 (2 adults, 1 junior, 1 child) would be about $2500 for hotel and park tickets. It can obviously be a little less or a little more. During peak travel times, I’d suggest a budget of about $3000 for hotel and park tickets as prices increase during spring break, summer, and holiday time.

Once you have a budget, it’s time to start looking at resorts (hotels). Each hotel has their own pros and cons and with over 25 options, it can be VERY confusing! To make things easier, here’s some easy questions to answer to help get to your final destination:

  •          What are my options within my budget?
  •          Are we a family of 5 or more?
  •          Is location on Disney property important?
  •          What park do you plan on visiting the most?
  •          Do you have a little one who will need a nap in the middle of the day?
  •          Do you need Disney characters in your room or around your resort? (this is somewhat limited)
  •          Is bed size important to you?

All these important questions will help steer you toward the best location for you.

Next step: BOOKING YOUR RESERVATION!

Remember, if you’re looking more than 6 months out from your vacation, the cost you see online will likely not be your end cost. Disney typically released special offers/discounts between 2-4 months prior to your arrival date.

Why do I suggest booking so far out? DINING! If getting some of the hottest dining reservations are important to your family, you need to have your vacation booked more than 180 days from your arrival date. This will allow you to get first pick of dining locations like Be Our Guest and Cinderella’s Royal Table. Be Our Guest consistently is 100% booked 180 days from arrival and getting a reservation for dinner is extremely difficult after that point.  On top of that, you’ll need to be up at 6 am eastern time to secure a great reservation time (for you west coasters that’s 3 am!)

The next step in this process is RELAXING! Between 180 days and 60 days there’s not a ton of important things to do except get excited and think about the various attractions you’d like to see/do as well as any characters you’d like to meet. Check online Disney’s website for some information or order customized maps for your vacation. This will give you a list of all the available attractions in each park. Now is also the time to keep an eye out for discounts to be released through Disney’s web site. Once they are made available, it’s important that you call a cast member to apply the discount as soon as possible as rooms at some resorts go very quickly.  Be aware you may need to upgrade your room view to take advantage of the discount (you’ll still save money in the process, so don’t worry about it too much!) Also be aware that it may take over an hour on the phone to get a hold of a cast member when a new discount is released and Disney does not automatically apply any discounts to your account without your request.

At 60 days, we’re back to BOOKING. Now it’s time to book your FastPass+ reservations. When you do this, it’s very important that you know a few things:

  •          Do you have park hopper tickets?
  •          Parks with early morning magic hours
  •          Best and worst parks each day
  •          The best attractions to use your FastPass+ allotments on
  •          Do you have smaller kids that would be scared of dark rides or have height restrictions?

Around this time is usually the perfect time to get the lowest cost on flight reservations (if you haven’t already done so). After your flight, you’ll need to call Disney to add your flight information to your Magical Express reservation.  60 days prior to arrival is also makes online check-in available. This will allow you to provide Disney with your arrival time to your resort as well as provide a credit card on file during your stay. It’s another way to skip the line. If you’re planning on arriving later in the afternoon, this option isn’t necessary.

This is also a quick reminder that in 15 short days, your final payment is due for any package. If you have a room only reservation, you’ll pay the remaining balance on arrival.

Between 45 days and arrival day, there’s not much more to do in the planning phase. If you were unable to get any dining locations you were hoping for, you can continue to check back online for cancellations. Or, if you’re like me, you can change and update your FastPass+ and dining reservations until you make yourself crazy!

Have a completely confused you? Do you feel really behind? The good news is that you have another option to take all the stress and planning away. Use an authorized Disney vacation planner and the better news, is I’m happy to help! Four reasons to use a travel planner instead of doing it all yourself:

 

Reason #1 to use a  Travel Professional: KNOWLEDGE!

Did you know that some of the most popular Disney Restaurants can be completely booked 180 days in advance? Your best bet is to wake up at 6 am EST and get advanced dining reservations online. For you west coasters, that means 3 AM! Unless you have a newborn that’s already awake, that’s no fun for anyone. As part of my Disney Travel Experience, I take care of all of your planning needs, not only resort and ticket reservations, but also Dining and FastPass+. This is more time to spend with your family.

Reason #2 to use a  Travel Professional: CONVENIENCE & TIME!

Your ideal resort or room sold out on Disney’s web site for the promotion you were hoping to get? Well never fear, check with a Disney Travel Specialist to see if their access allows you to book your dream vacation. Also, Magical Vacations is the Home of the Minnie Box, a special gift that arrives on top of all the other goodies that Disney offers when you book a vacation package! Additionally, you’ll have extra time in the parks with a personalized itinerary tailored to your family’s wants and needs.

Reason #3 to use a Disney Travel Professional: SPECIAL BENEFITS!

Did you know that using a travel professional is absolutely 100% FREE? You read that right! Having someone else do all the heavy lifting, waking up early, and being available for questions costs nothing! PLUS, you have the peace of mind that everything is taken care of before your departure.

Reason #4 to use a Travel Professional: FREE!

There are just some of the great benefits of using an authorized Disney vacation planner. While you are able to use any travel professional, I suggest you choose one who is readily available, willing to go the extra mile to make your vacation magical, and someone with a great level of customer service. So what have you got to lose?

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!