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

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

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

Now the big question…why choose an authorized Disney vacation planner to help with your Disney World vacation? There are SO many reasons. I’ve touched on many of them before, but it’s a nice refresher and a reason to “shop small” even when shopping for travel!

Magical Vacations Logo - Landscape

  1. It’s FREE! Yes. F-R-E-E, no strings attached FREE! The price you can find on Disney’s web site is the same that I can pull up for you through Disney’s Travel Agent portal. All travel agents have the exact same cost available to them – we are not allowed to discount or offer “signing” bonuses to you, so it’s all about what your agent can do for you! Yes, we still get paid but it’s after you return home from your trip, so it’s in my best interest as a small business owner to work my butt off to make sure I exceed your expectations in hopes that you’ll recommend me to family and friends. Make sure you choose an agency that is an “authorized Disney vacation planner”. We are held to a very specific set of rules and guidelines governed by Disney which is an additional sense of security for your trip!
  2. It’s a time saver. Do you want to wake up at 6 am eastern time to make dining reservations (or even search through the 80+ menus of the table service restaurants available to you?)? Do you want to research FastPass strategy and get an idea of all of the available attractions to make the best choice and then think about how to organize them in a way to go around the parks and then stay up until midnight to book them all? AND Do you want to constantly monitor Disney’s web site for promotional offers,
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    changes in park hours, or attraction refurbishments leading up to your trip? I’d make a wild guess that most of you will say no to all of these things. THIS is where Magical Vacations makes such a big difference. We are a full service DISNEY ONLY* agency which means we know our stuff and know how to make our guests stays a better overall experience. Did you know that many agencies don’t require their agents to book FastPasses for their guests? At my conference, our group was the only one I found that truly booked everything. Yes, it’s a heck of a lot more time consuming, but it’s a heck of a lot more successful as well! It gives you as the guest an opportunity to follow our daily itineraries to help save you time inside the parks!

  3. It’s less stressful. Going back to all of the points in #2, you have someone here to take away the stress and anxiety of planning a Disney trip. Most guests spend several thousand dollars on your trip. Unless you have someone “in the business”, you wouldn’t spend several thousand dollars on your house to make renovations without talking to someone, would you? So allow me the opportunity to help answer your questions, calm your fears, and allow the true magic of Disney come out!
  4. Knowledge. I consider myself a Disney expert, especially Disney World! I’m rarely stumped by a question related to Disney World and if I am (kudos) and I’ll find you the answer! Did you know that you need to get your flight info to Magical Express before your departure? Did you know that getting a FastPass for Anna & Elsa is usually only available at the 60 day mark prior to your arrival (sometimes gone within a few minutes of that important midnight time frame?) Do you know of special events going on during your stay? I’m here to help with all of this knowledge and imparting it in a way that is not overwhelming in little bits and bites culminating in a gift for your family shortly before your departure.
  5. The Minnie Box. This is our unique gift to you and is unique to our agency! It was created and trademarked by our Magical Vacations owner and gives you the excitement of opening your big yellow bow like a present right before you arrive for your vacation! As Disney went “paperless” with the introduction of MyMagic+, there’s nothing much you receive directly from Disney to get you excited. While every Disney vacation is exciting, the Minnie Box just adds a little something extra!!
  6. Being in the middle of the magic! Will you remember the work that Ellie minniewent into planning your vacation and things that went wrong if you spend hours upon hours pouring over blogs, online information, and doing independent research? Probably! What Disney is truly about is the MAGIC! Remembering your child’s first meeting with a character – beeping Minnie Mouse’s nose, giving a big hug to goofy! Having the best meal of your life in one of Disney’s signature dining locations, or seeing the tears in your mother’s eyes as she watches Wishes fireworks with you. It’s those magical moments that I do what I do and not for the money! I’ve gotten asked to return to my office job more than once and I won’t do it because I love the magic making!

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

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

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

Interested in experiencing a Disney World (Disneyland or Disney Cruise) vacation in 2017?  Please contact me at any time for a free quote. The benefits to using an authorized Disney vacation planner include saving time before and during your vacation with itinerary planning which can help save you hours of standing in line each day. Plus you won’t have to watch for available discounts, research resorts, wake up early for dining reservations, or stay up late for FastPasses. The best part about using a travel planner instead of planning yourself? It’s totally FREE! Plus I’ll take away some of the stress and confusion of planning a Disney vacation (especially if it’s your first one!)It’s also a worry free vacation opportunity. I’ll walk through through all of the steps to the process with a few little insider tips along the way! If you already have your vacation planned and are interested in transferring your vacation, ask me how! Thank you so much for supporting my small business!!

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Two vacations in one: Disney World & Disney Cruise Line

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

Is this type of vacation for me?

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

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

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

What about cost? 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Packing for your Disney Cruise

Throw your Disney World packing list out the window, because Disney Cruise Line packing is a lot different. The style of vacation is a lot different as well! There are two types of cruising families – the first: the ship is the vessel that takes them to the unique destinations they want to explore and the second: the ship is the destination and an all inclusive vacation. My family falls into category number 2.

If your family is the first type of family, your Disney World packing list may be helpful – comfortable clothes, closed toed shoes, extra socks, etc.  For my family it’s all about the experience, so we pack for every experience – formal, semi formal, pirate night, cruise casual, and more! THREE suitcases later, we’re ready to go! So what’s in our suitcases? Let’s take a look!

Clothes, clothes, and more clothes. A complaint I get from many first time cruisers is that there’s not enough space in their bags for all of the special nights. On longer cruises you’ll have a formal night, semi formal night, some sort of themed night (Frozen, Pirates, etc.) plus “cruise casual”. Disney’s policy on attire at rotational dining is pretty lax. We find that we are more comfortable in skirts and dresses (my husband in khakis and a polo) than in more casual clothing because of our restaurant surroundings. They are just a little bit nicer feeling (I liken them to California Grill or even Cinderella’s Table in Disney World). With extra attire comes extra shoes, jewelry for me, and some cardigans to go over the dresses because those restaurants are CHILLY!

Swimming anyone? For us, our cruise is our destination. We don’t spend a lot of time on port adventures (mainly because I don’t want to chase around a 3 year old OR carry her around when she’s done walking) so outside of Castaway we are on the ship enjoying our experience. That means swimming and relaxing. I, for one, do not like getting into a wet swimsuit, so we bring 2-3 suits per person. Thankfully they don’t take up a lot of space. We leave our beach towels at home. There are plenty of towels on the ship (you can ask your room attendant for more if you need them). On your Castaway Cay day, you are given medium sized towels to bring with you. Take as many as you can comfortably carry as you’ll likely be in and out of the water. We also pack water shoes. Safer for a 3 year old to have a little bit of “grip” on the pool deck and it saves our feet from the hot sand and walking paths at Castaway.

Speaking of carrying... Two more important things – BAGS! On the day of embarkation, I have a bag that rolls/with wheels. We try to have an early check in time to take in an early lunch and get a little swim time in before the Disney resort buses get to port. Staterooms are not available until 1:30 pm, so anything you carry on board, you’ll have to carry. Camera, computer, and other misc. things get heavy in a backpack, so I like an option with wheels. Additionally, if you want to carry on wine or beer (according to Disney’s alcohol policies), it needs to be in carry on luggage and not anything checked.

I also need a bag to carry things around Castaway. An extra change of clothes, a cheap watch to put around the handle, and a place to stash sunscreen. You are welcome to head back to the ship if you want a change of clothes, but that’s a time consuming effort! Since we aren’t getting off the ship at all of the ports, we get our money’s worth out of Castaway and spend the entire day there. A large beach bag is perfect for everything we need!

Hydration, hydration, hydration! We also bring a water bottle per person to stay hydrated on the ship as well as Castaway Cay. Disney has refill stations for both water, soft drinks, and select other options are available. The refill cups available at each station is small. We use the cups to put water and ice in and then transfer it to our bottles. It’s also nice to have a full bottle of water before going to bed so we don’t have to run up several flights of stairs or hit the elevators late at night since the refill station is on the pool deck.

What not to bring. There are a handful of things that you should NOT bring onto your Disney cruise. The obvious things like weapons (or toys that look like weapons) but there are some less obvious things:

  • Hard liquor – Disney’s alcohol policy only allows guests to carry on 2 bottles of wine/6 beers per person. No hard alcohol can be carried on. It will be held and returned to you after you disembark.
  • Extension cords/power strips. There are some specific requirements for power in each stateroom and having extension cords or power strips can overload the circuits. If you need an extension cord for medical reasons (example: CPAP machine), an approved version can be rented upon boarding the ship. For those of us with lots of electronic devices, consider a multi-USB device charger. We purchased a 4 USB charger and it works well for our using. We try to charge the iPad during the day and phones at night because the iPad takes more power to charge than phones do.
  • Homemade or opened food. There is plenty of food on the ship and chefs can accommodate dietary restrictions. Disney does allow pre-packaged and unopened items brought onto the ship if you do need to bring something.
  • Irons or bottle warmers (similar to the extension cord/power strip policy). If you need either, guest services can help.
  • Recreational pool equipment – pool noodles, large tubes, etc. Floatation devices for safety are allowed (such as wings and floatation devices sewed into swim suits).
  • Over the door hanging devices – this can scratch/damage doors and Disney no longer allows them.
A free gift for your Disney vacation! The amazing and exciting Minnie Box! (subject to minimum vacation package)

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

The process of booking a Disney cruise can be VERY confusing, so let a professional help you! Please contact me at any time for a free quote.The benefits to using an authorized Disney vacation planner include saving time before and during your vacation! Plus you won’t have to watch for any possible rate drops, research everything there is to offer, or keep track of milestone dates for any “extras” you want during your voyage.  The best part about using a travel planner instead of planning yourself? It’s totally FREE! Plus I’ll take away some of the stress and confusion of planning a Disney vacation (especially if it’s your first one!) If you already have your cruise planned and are interested in transferring your vacation, ask me how!