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!

Tips for planning your First Disney World vacation!

 

It was a slow day for me today, so what else would I do but dream of our next Disney World vacation. My husband hates when I’m left to my own devices because he knows I’ll find a deal and sweet talk him into something, and of course, I did! 🙂 Back to Disney in December for some more “research” of course! This will be my daughter’s very first trip and while she won’t remember it, the vacation will be a very memorable one for us!

The first Disney trip is a big deal. Whether it’s the first time going as an adult and planning yourself or the first time for your kids, each experience is different and deserves specialized care! While many of my general tips apply to all Disney guests, here are some that are especially for those first time travelers!

  • Travel off peak when possible. September – early November is really the best time to go to Disney! The weather is still warm, crowds are low, and prices are low as well. Disney often offers free dining or discounted dining promotions during this time so you get more for less. Free dining continues to be the most popular promotion Disney offers and there’s a reason they choose specific seasons to offer this great promotion.
  • If summer or spring break is your only option, don’t sweat it. You can still enjoy Disney while when crowds levels are higher. You can enjoy FastPass+ to the fullest by staying on Disney property which will allow you to skip the line for even more of your soon to be favorite attractions!
  • Plan ahead. Once you have your dates, get them secured. Discounts can ALWAYS be applied at the time a new promotion is released. It’s just a phone call away. Packages require a $200 deposit to book and is 100% refundable 46+ days in advance, so if things change, no problem.
  • Work with someone that knows Disney. You will save time, money, frustration, and stress by working with a travel agent. I’m always here to help if you have general questions or are looking to get your Magical experience started! I’ve found that once a person starts with a good travel agent, they continue to use him/her for future trips or refer friends. That’s a really good marker of a great person! You should not be another page in their book!
  • Try at least one sit down restaurant. Your feet will thank you and it’s fun to get a different experience and a break from the go, go, go atmosphere of Disney.Disney-MagicBand
  • Use FastPass+ to your advantage. Whether you have base tickets or park hoppers, make sure take advantage to all the free things Disney offers as part of their package. Each ticketed guest will receive 3 FastPasses each day. Disney resort guests have the opportunity to earn more once inside the park. Check out the complete details of FastPass+ and learn strategy.
  • Customize those MagicBands. I always feel bad when I see a family with all gray bands walking around the parks or playing in the pool. Learn how to get to your customization page and get creative!
  • Children under 3 are free! If are thinking about Disney travel in the near future and your son or daughter is under 3, think about travel sooner rather than later. Children under 3 years of age are free. Free park tickets, free dining at buffets, and are able to eat off your plate at other restaurants. They also don’t count toward the total guests in your room . For a family of 5, this is huge. Once you hit 5+ in a room, you lose many hotel options.
  • Children under 10 cost less! Once again, if you are going to travel in the near future, 9 years old and 10 years old make a huge difference. At 10, kids are considered Disney “adults” and pay adult prices for food and park tickets. You will save quite a bit of money by traveling before (or near) the age your child turns 10.
  • Tell Disney (or your travel agent) about any celebrations. This includes everything from first visit to birthday, graduation, anniversary, etc. Anything you can think of.  Even if travel doesn’t fall specific on a birthday or anniversary, you can still celebrate at Disney! You’ll get a little something extra. While it’s typically just a button, you never know what kind of fuss Disney will make over your special celebration.
  • Do your research! Know what resorts have to offer and know where each one is. Typically there’s a reason that one hotel is cheaper than another in each resort category. Make sure you know the details before you make your final decision!
A free gift for Disney vacation! The amazing and exciting Minnie Box! (subject to minimum vacation package)

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

Ready to get started planning your 2015 Disney World vacation? Please contact me at any time for a free quote. The benefits to using an authorized Disney vacation planner include saving time before and during your vacation with itinerary planning which can help save you hours of standing in line each day. Plus you won’t have to watch for available discounts, research resorts, wake up early for dining reservations, or stay up late for FastPasses. The best part about using a travel planner instead of planning yourself? It’s totally FREE! Plus I’ll take away some of the stress and confusion of planning a Disney vacation (especially if it’s your first one!)It’s also a worry free cruise opportunity. I’ll walk through through all of the steps to the process with a few little insider tips along the way! If you already have your vacation planned and are interested in transferring your vacation, ask me how!

Being thankful…my personal side

I’m being very reflective today. I’m so thankful that Disney and I found each other. While that sounds completely silly to many of you, it’s extremely meaningful to me. Because of the success I’ve add by adding a blog and just pinning things on Pinterest, sticking out the crummy first few weeks when I was getting 10 views a day (and continuing to create new topics and add new content even though no one was reading). Now I’ve created this somewhat thriving personal business. I set a small goal for myself and after achieving it in less than 3 months, I looked bigger and bigger. I’ve gone well beyond my expectations. We’re now at the point that we are financially even looking at me cutting down from a full time job to something park time and being able to spend 2 days home every day with my beautiful daughter; something I never thought possible without the help from Disney vacation planning.

It’s funny how the world works. When I started college I went in clueless of what I wanted to do, started with some travel agent courses and thought it wasn’t profitable to support myself. I switched to psychology which is something I love but something I knew I wouldn’t stick with (because in order to do anything with that degree I’d need a Masters and I’m not a school lover). So I switched to Business Administration, something that’s not exciting but I’m good at. I’ve taken all of those skills and rolled them into this great new job of mine. Who knows, in another year or two, I may be telling cyberspace that I’ve quit my job and doing Disney full time and enjoying every moment of having a child (or maybe by then children).

So, just wanted to say thanks. Thanks for reading my blog, thanks for all of those people that have contacted me and allowed a small glimpse into their lives to plan an amazing vacation. I’m so amazingly thankful for the people who have sent me how amazing their trips work and how thankful they are for me. It gives me a purpose and something that keeps me going on days that I just don’t want to write another blog post or days when I have a really crabby, teething 15 month old. Because in life, all we really need is a thank you and some positive reinforcement to keep us all going. I know I’ve had thankless jobs and people who are difficult to work with, but in the end, it’s all been worth the struggles to get to the point I’ve made it to today. Recently I received an email from a family that had just returned from their Disney World vacation. It’s common practice for me to check in after families get home to see how their trip went, how they liked their resort and if they would have changed anything. Typically I get a few lines back and a thank you. This email was PARAGRAPHS of thanks and wonderful feedback and a few photos of them beaming with smiles meeting some of their favorite Disney characters. I have a small file that I save all of those great things for when I’m having a bad day. It makes everything better.

The bottom line. Thank you for helping me be a success. I hope 2015 is a blockbuster year where I can exceed my own expectations yet again, boost my self confidence and add even more of you to my Disney family. This business of mine is both competitive and customer service driven, so when I do a good job, my name gets out there more. It’s something I’m passionate about and it’s free for families who are looking to travel. It’s true that I owe so much to the families that have entrusted their vacation planning to me and even more true that when I do a good job, they thank me with a referral. So thank you, thank you, thank you! I can’t say it enough times!

Arriving at your Walt Disney World Resort

 

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

Online check in

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

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

Check in desk

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

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

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

Dining Plan

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

If your room isn’t ready

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

Arriving early or late

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ready to get started planning your 2015 Disney World vacation? Please contact me at any time for a free quote. The benefits to using an authorized Disney vacation planner include saving time before and during your vacation with itinerary planning which can help save you hours of standing in line each day. Plus you won’t have to watch for available discounts, research resorts, wake up early for dining reservations, or stay up late for FastPasses. The best part about using a travel planner instead of planning yourself? It’s totally FREE! Plus I’ll take away some of the stress and confusion of planning a Disney vacation (especially if it’s your first one!)It’s also a worry free cruise opportunity. I’ll walk through through all of the steps to the process with a few little insider tips along the way! If you already have your vacation planned and are interested in transferring your vacation, ask me how!

 

Tips & Trick for Disney World Refillable Mugs

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

Is water still free?

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

Disney’s Dining Plan

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

What if I’m part of a split stay?

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

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

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

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

Can I use my mugs in the theme parks?

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

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

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

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

Ready to get started planning your 2015 Disney World vacation? Please contact me at any time for a free quote. The benefits to using an authorized Disney vacation planner include saving time before and during your vacation with itinerary planning which can help save you hours of standing in line each day. Plus you won’t have to watch for available discounts, research resorts, wake up early for dining reservations, or stay up late for FastPasses. The best part about using a travel planner instead of planning yourself? It’s totally FREE! Plus I’ll take away some of the stress and confusion of planning a Disney vacation (especially if it’s your first one!)It’s also a worry free cruise opportunity. I’ll walk through through all of the steps to the process with a few little insider tips along the way! If you already have your vacation planned and are interested in transferring your vacation, ask me how!

 

15 things to do non a non-park day at Disney World!


Disney World can be an exhausting and expensive experience. If you have a longer vacation or have young kids, you may want to take a day off from parks. But can you fill a whole day without parks? Definitely! Even better, a lot of these suggestions are inexpensive or even FREE!  Here are 15 great things to do that are not in parks:

1. Enjoy your resort hotel’s pool

2. Explore other nearby resorts. Just because you aren’t going to the parks, doesn’t mean you can’t use Disney transportation to visit other resorts. My favorites are the deluxe resorts on the monorail line and the Epcot area resorts.

3. Try some different restaurants. My favorites: Boma in Animal Kingdom Lodge, Sanaa in Animal Kingdom Lodge, Kona Cafe in Polynesian, and anything in the Boardwalk Area.

4. Shop in Downtown Disney. Tons of different shops and something for everyone in your family without tiring out your feet.

5. Look around at all the amazing Lego designs in Downtown Disney. Then play in their 3,000 square foot outdoor play area.

6. Go to a movie (theater located in Downtown Disney)

7. Go bowling (Splitsville in Downtown Disney)

8. Check out some of the awesome restaurants (and food trucks) in Downtown Disney

9. Enjoy the animals at Animal Kingdom Lodge. Viewing around property is free and there are a TONS of different animals roaming free around the property.

10. Play a round of miniature golf. You should receive a coupon for one free game at one of Disney’s 2 courses in your Mickey Mail before your departure.

11. Find a resort that does marshmallow roasts  by the fire (you can buy the graham crackers and chocolate to go with it)

12. Watch a movie at your resort (or head over to one of the many that offer movies on the beach)

13. Watch the Electric Water Pageant around the monrail Resorts. Check the daily schedule for more details.

14. Enjoy the street performers at Disney’s Boardwalk

15. Watch Magic Kingdom fireworks from the beach at Polynesian or from the monorail platform


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!) I’ll walk through through all of the steps to the process with a few little insider tips along the way! If you already have your vacation planned and are interested in transferring your vacation, ask me how!

Disney World Tips & Tricks: 20 do’s and don’ts from Disney veterans

 

  1. DO get to the parks early. At least 20 minutes before park opening. You’ll get to experience 2-3 attractions before your breakfast digests. Sometimes you get lucky and the park opens before the post time giving you even more opportunities before the rest of the crowds get there.
  2. DON’T go to the park with early morning magic hours, unless you are arriving before park open and you have park hopper passes. These parks tend to be more crowded than the others.
  3. DO go to the park that had extra evening magic hours the night before. Historically, crowds are lower.
  4. DO plan out your dining. Know where the best quick service restaurants are and make advanced dining reservations for table service restaurants. Make your reservations as far out in advance as possible to guarantee the best locations and times.
  5. DO work with a travel agent your first 2-3 times. They know the ins and outs of Disney, are able to give you specific hints and time savers.
  6. DO know when discounts are available. A travel agent can give you a good idea of historical data and the type of discounts offered. Free dining is usually available September – early December; room discounts are almost always available the remainder of the year with varying percentages. Use the discounts to your advantage and play with the numbers to save yourself the most money!
  7. DO NOT travel to Disney World over Christmas and New Years. Parks are extremely crowded with the longest wait times (sometimes up to 4 hours!). In 2013, Magic Kingdom parking lot was totally full and only allowing select guests to enter.
  8. DO travel at off peak times. Weather is cooler, parkers are quieter, and prices are lower. You are also offered better incentives.
  9. DO plan ahead! Discounts are typically available around 3-4 months before travel dates. At the beginning of the year, lesser discounts are available 2-3 months in advance. The sooner you can book your trip, the better. You are always able to change the discount if you get a better deal closer to your trip.
  10. DO check for PIN codes. These are personalized, exclusive discounts and include % off rooms or free dining. To check if you have one available, call Disney and select your dates and then ask if you have a PIN attached to your account. The worst the cast member can tell you is no!
  11. DO set a budget and DO factor in travel costs with your budget. You are always able to modify your Disney reservations (46+ days out from your trip) at no cost if you’d like to upgrade or remove options from your trip.
  12. DO NOT stay in the parks all day. Even adults need a little break. Enjoy your resort’s pool, take a nap, have a long lunch. You’ll burn yourself out in no time if you try and stay from park open to park close.
  13. DO look into the dining plan. Know what each plan includes and if it would be cost effective for how your family eats. Ask your travel agent to do the math for you based on your favorite types of restaurants or Disney restaurants you want to try. I don’t try to upgrade people to the dining plan if they will save money paying out of pocket. Sometimes the sticker shock is hard up front, but showing them the math makes the most sense!
  14. DO know that you have to pay tips for Table Service meals are not included in the dining plan. You will likely pay an addition $75- $150 out of pocket depending on your length of stay.
  15. DO NOT waste your money. Purchase the right number of days of park tickets, know how to use your dining plan credits, and know what the park hopper option vs. the water park option will get you. If you only want one day of water park passes, it may be in your best interest to just purchase a day pass at your arrival at the park.
  16. DO look at more expensive resort hotels. While the cost is greater, your travel time is greatly decreased! Locations like Polynesian, Grand Floridian and Contemporary give you monorail access to Magic Kingdom and one quick transfer over to Epcot. Resorts such as Beach Club, Yacht Club, and Boardwalk are all within walking distance of Epcot and Hollywood Studios. Wilderness Lodge is also a short boat ride away from several resorts and Magic Kingdom.
  17. DO NOT take the ferry to the Ticket & Transportation Center or to get to your car. It’s a huge bottle neck and REALLY slow!
  18. DO know when parades are scheduled in each park if you are trying to get in or out of a park, to a reservation, or to when to ride some more popular attractions.
  19. DO wear comfortable shoes. It doesn’t matter if you wear flip flops at home. 8-10 miles a day for 5-7 days (or more) will kill your feet. Between blisters and sore feet, you’ll wish you brought something different! DO bring flip flops in case there is rain. DO bring an extra pair of shoes in case your first pair gets wet or you get a blister. The change may help save your feet.
  20. DO enjoy yourself. DON’T stress out if plans don’t go as you hoped.


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!) 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!