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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2017 Disney Salute to the Military Offers are now available!

Salute to the military

For all of the brave men and women who are currently serving or have served our country, let me be one of the many to thank you for your service! Disney also thanks you by a wonderful “Salute to the Military” offer which has been extended through 2017! This offer is very similar year over year, but if you’re new to Disney military offers, or just want to know what has changed or what is new, I’m really excited to provide the details. This offer is available NOW.

At Walt Disney World Resort – active and retired U.S. military personnel (including active and retired members of the United States Coast Guard, National Guard and Reservists) or their spouses can purchase:

  • 4 Day Park Hopper OR Water Parks, Fun & More $209 each
  • 5 Day Park Hopper OR Water Parks, Fun & More $224 each
  • 4 Day Park Hopper AND Water Parks, Fun & More $246 each
  • 5 Day Park Hopper AND Water Parks, Fun & More $261 each

Walt Disney World Resort tickets may be used January 1, 2017, through December 19, 2017, except that the tickets may not be used April 9-23, 2017. For me the addition of a FIVE day ticket is a huge one! Most families prefer to spend a week in Disney World, so now you don’t have to worry about filling an “off day”!

Active and retired U.S. military personnel can purchase Disney Military Promotional Tickets for themselves and up to five additional family members or friends. No more than six Disney Military Promotional Tickets may be purchased by any eligible member of the U.S. military (or spouse). All tickets and options are non-transferable and must be used by December 19, 2017. (THIS PART IS VERY IMPORTANT!!!)

Here are some other details you should know about:

  • Disney Military Promotional Tickets may be purchased at participating U.S. military sales outlets ONLY by Eligible Service Members or their spouses (but not both), for use by those family members or friends. They cannot be used in the absence of those military members.
  • “Eligible Service Members” are active or retired members of the U.S. military, including the National Guard, Reservists and the U.S. Coast Guard.
  • Participating military sales outlets must require that Eligible Service Members (or their spouses) present valid military identification to purchase Disney Military Promotional Tickets.
  • Disney 4-Day or 5-Day Military Promotional Tickets for admission to the Walt Disney World Resort are not valid until activated by the Eligible Service Members (or their spouses) at Walt Disney World theme park ticket windows.Valid military identification will be required for purchase and use. You still may link these vouches to your My Disney Experience account to select FastPasses 30 or 60 days in advance (30 days if you are not staying in a Disney resort)
  • No more than six (6) Disney Military Promotional Tickets may be purchased and (if applicable) activated by any Eligible Service Member or spouse (regardless of the place of purchase and whether purchased by that person or that person’s spouse). In addition, one of the six (6) Tickets purchased must be used by the Eligible Service Member or his/her spouse. Exceptions may be made for immediate family that is larger than 6 people.
  • Each Disney Military Promotional Ticket must be used by the same person on any and all days. (This is the same of all Disney tickets.)

Disney World Resort Discounts

Disney typically offers an annual discount to members of the military and their families. Same inclusions as listed above apply for this room discount as well.  Room discounts are based on resort category:

  • Value Resorts – 30%
  • Moderate Resorts – 35%
  • Deluxe Resorts – 40%

The only exclusion I am aware of are the Little Mermaid Rooms at Art of Animation, 3 bedroom villas, and Bungalows at Polynesian Villas. This is of course subject to availability and black out dates (This year is the week around Easter and that’s it!)
You are also able to book up to 3 rooms with your military discount, although the qualifying member must be present, with proper identification, at check in for each room booked. They are not required to pay for every room.

Like any Disney package, booking a room only reservation will require 1 night’s room cost and the remaining balance is due upon arrival at your resort.

An additional benefit of this discount is Disney’s Dining Plan! You can add either Plus Dining (or the full dining plan) or the deluxe dining plan. There is no discount to adding the dining plan, but with the money you save on tickets and your room it’s likely worth it! (You cannot use a package promotion like play, stay, and dine or free dining since you do have theme park tickets, but the large percentage off of your room rate generally is a better deal in conjunction with the discounted theme park tickets as well).

What about Shades of Green?

Shades of Green is an Armed Forces Recreation Center located on Disney World property. Be aware that this is NOT one of the Disney World resort hotels. While I cannot go into great detail about the resort or it’s amenities outside of what is available on the internet (as I’m a civilian), I can provide the following comparison between Walt Disney World resorts and Shades of Green:

  • Cost: Cost of a Disney World Value room during peak season and Shades of Green are roughly the same cost depending on the booking category you qualify for at Shades of Green and your party size.  In a close race of cost after a comparison, choose a Disney resort as the benefits outweigh the difference of $100 or more depending on your party.
  • Transportation: Shades of Green does have bus service to all Disney World theme parks. Once at the theme parks you are welcome to use any additional method of Disney Transportation to get around. Unfortunately this bus runs on a structured schedule which is often once an hour. Disney buses run every 15-20 minutes continuously. If you miss a bus for a Disney resort, there is likely one right behind it! You must show proof of stay to board any Shades of Green bus. There are no requirements for Disney buses.
  • Airport Transportation: Shades of Green does not qualify for Disney Magical Express Service. You are able to book somewhat inexpensive shuttles, however you can’t beat the cost of free!
  • Parking at theme parks: Parking for Disney World resort guests is free at all of Disney’s theme parks. Unfortunately this benefit does not cover Shades of Green as it is not considered a Disney resort. The current cost of parking is now $17/day.
  • Dining Plan: Shades of Green guests unfortunately do not qualify for the dining plan as they are not resort guests. As noted above, you are able to add Disney’s Dining Plan to your room only package without the purchase of park tickets with the military discount.
  • Extra Magic Hours: Both Shades of Green and all Disney Resorts qualify you for Extra Magic Hours at Disney World theme parks. One of my favorite benefits!
  • FastPass+: FastPass+ service is available to add Disney World guests with valid park tickets. If you purchase tickets ahead of time, you are able to make reservations 60 days in advance at Disney World resorts and 30 days in advance at Shades of Green (as it is considered an “off site” hotel). Your tickets must be linked to your My Disney Experience account in either situation.
  • MagicBands: MagicBands are free to all Disney World resort guests. Any guest can purchase a MagicBand in the theme parks.

If cost is a major factor in your Disney World vacation, you may have a less expensive option (and a little bit more space) at Shades of Green over a Disney value resort. With such a great year round discount, you’ll save a great deal of money regardless of your resort category in a Disney World resort hotel.

Something else to note…

  • Once you arrive at Disney, check for discounts at stores (especially in Downtown Disney). You can save up to 20% on your purchases!
  • You will not find pricing online anywhere for military offers – this is available via phone only.
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 2017 Disney World 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 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!

 

Tips for keeping kids occupied on your flight to Disney World

Hooray! You’re going to Disney World! You’ve chosen your dates, you decided to fly instead of drive and now it’s time to think about what to do with your kids for the 2-4 hours while in flight. As a mom of an almost 3 year old we’ve flown with our little girl twice and had 2 really different experiences!

The first time was easy – she spent most of the flight asleep (SCORE ONE FOR MOM!) and the second time we scheduled around nap time and it was much less successful. Maybe an hour asleep of the 3 hour trip.

You’ve got the obvious things…iPad or tablet, snacks, coloring, and books to keep them occupied, but will that take up almost 3 hours of time? For some kids the answer is yes, but for some it’s not enough! Also, make sure your kids will wear headphones of some sort so they can hear what they are doing and to not bother your seat neighbors.

If you’ve got an antsy kid who won’t sit still for 3 hours, think about quiet books and other activities that will capture their interest but won’t take up a lot of space in your suitcase. We brought window clings and let our kiddo have the window seat so she could stick and re-stick a snowman to the window (it was Christmas time so lots of clings available!) You may even want to purchase a toy that is NEW for the plane ride so it hasn’t lost its magic with use at home.

The one thing you do NOT want to do is pack too much! On our first flight, we brought the favorite “everything” – books, toys, stuffed animals, blanket, and snacks. We used about 2% of all of the stuff we brought so be a minimalist. Limit items to what will fit under the seat in front of you in a small backpack or bag. You won’t be able to use anything that’s large anyways!

Beyond entertainment, consider something for your child to drink or suck on during take off and landing as they don’t have the ability to adjust their ear pressure as easily as adults. Dum dum suckers are a great easy take along. If your child has a sippy cup, it’s another great way to loosen up their ears (the sucking motion helps). Bring easy to eat snacks with you (and things that aren’t incredibly messy!)

PLEASE bring an extra pair of clothes PER PERSON. I can’t stress this one enough. If you are sitting with a small child (especially one that has never been on a plane), make sure everyone has a change of clothes in case of any sickness in the air. You may want 2 changes of clothes for your little one just in case! Along the same line, bring a plastic bag or two – it can dual as a little garbage bag if necessary.

For older children, prep them about the flight experience if it is their first time. Ask them what they’d like to bring on the flight and allow them their own special carry on bag with their own stuff in it and allow them to pack it (within reason). If you’re traveling during the school year, ask for any homework ahead of time to potentially do on the plane!

Do you have any tried and true tips for flying with your child? I’d love to hear about it! Comment below!

The Pros and Cons of Disney World Moderate Resorts

 

Over the past 2+ years through this crazy little blog of mine, I’ve worked through comparing all Disney World resorts – their pros and cons in general but comparing a value resort to a deluxe resort isn not a fair fight. Generally people plan their experience around budget, so you’re working with a “value”, “moderate” or “deluxe” style budget!

I’m going to break down each of the resorts classes, start with moderate resorts since that seems to be the “middle of the road” for Disney vacations. These are also some of the largest resorts in space and capacity. For more detailed information on each resort, check out the moderate resort page and each individual resort for size, pools, and restaurants. I’ll start with my opinion of “the best of”…

Best Pool: Coronado Springs with Caribbean Beach in a very close second!

Best Grounds: Based on size, Port Orleans French Quarter; Based on overall appeal – Port Orleans French Quarter or Riverside (themes are related) If you want a more vibrant resort, Caribbean Beach is definitely appealing!

Best Location on Disney property: The Port Orleans sisters – Riverside & French Quarter have a bit of an edge because they have boat access to and from Disney Springs! In general, all of the moderate resorts are along a similar line of  “latitude” on Disney property so it takes roughly the same amount of time to get to Magic Kingdom (which is what most guests are the most worried about)

Best Bus system: It’s a really close race here and it truly depends on your timing. Disney buses run every 20 minutes to and form all 4 theme parks. You may see less of a wait time during peak travel times and maybe a bit longer wait during off peak times (11 am – 4 pm), but nothing is more frustrating than waiting for an Epcot bus and seeing 3 Disney Springs buses and 3 Magic Kingdom buses go by while the time ticks closer and closer to park opening. I get it – been, there, done that! I think Coronado Springs has a slight edge with just 4 internal bus stops. Port Orleans French Quarter & Riverside share buses at times, so when that is the case, I don’t think it wins the race!

Best Dining options: Port Orleans Riverside (with a nod going to French Quarter for their New Orleans style food – beignets!) with Coronado Springs in a close second. As a resort with a conference center, it makes sense that it has good food options.

Best rooms for kids: Tie. Port Orleans Riverside Royal Rooms have an amazing princess theme. At Caribbean Beach, you can enjoy a pirate themed room for your swashbucklers!

Best rooms for adults: Coronado Springs Business class is a moderate resort version of the club level service at the deluxe resorts at a fraction of the price. Enjoy a conveniently located room as well as food and beverage service in their lounge included in the cost of your stay. A close second would be Port Orleans French Quarter as the atmosphere can be quite romantic.

The good, the bad, and the ugly. This is all about where you want to stay for your vacation. If price is a factor, Port Orleans (both), and Caribbean Beach rooms all have the same rack (non-discounted) rates for standard rooms. The difference? Location and size. While all resorts in this category have queen beds now with the update FINALLY coming through for Caribbean Beach, resort size makes the difference for us! Traveling as 2 adults? You can guarantee yourself a king size bed by choosing this category room. If you’re a family of 5, you’re stuck with a room at Port Orleans Riverside or going to a different class of resort. It’s the only non-suite option that sleeps more than 4. There’s no real difference in travel time among the resorts to Magic Kingdom as they are located on the southern half of the resort.

Port Orleans resorts were renovated in 2012 and Coronado Springs renovated right around the same time. Caribbean Beach is the most recently updated resort having a major update in fall 2014 into early 2015.

Caribbean Beach, Port Orleans Riverside, and Coronado Springs are all larger resorts. If you’re concerned about extra walking in your resort, stay at French Quarter or choose a preferred room at one of the other resorts. Remember these are just my opinions, and if you have your heart set on a specific resort, GO!

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!

10 things to do on an adults only Disney World vacation!

What? People go to Disney World without kids? That’s right. I’ve done it many times and it’s a totally different experience than going with and for your kids. I actually recommend it if you’re interested in going post having children. It allows you to get the roller coaster experience “out of your system” or a way to get a romantic experience (YES, you can!) with a little fun!

1. Stay club level. The deluxe resorts all have club level service which provides you with a concierge floor and added

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

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

benefits which makes you feel like you are the best of the best in Disney World. We’ve spoiled ourselves with many experiences. Interested in seeing what the best Club level locations are and what it entails?:

2. Go on a monorail pub crawl. There are two great ones in Disney World. First, the monorail tour. Start at Magic Kingdom and take the boat to Wilderness Lodge, then make stops at each of the Disney monorail resorts: Contemporary, Polynesian, and Grand Floridian. I like to go later and stay to watch the fireworks from the Grand Floridian Beach!

3. Try signature restaurants. Disney offers 12 signature restaurants plus Victoria & Albert’s, the finest of all dining locations on Disney property. This is a great romantic setting and to try some amazing food! These meals often take longer than the standard table service, and offer many courses, wine pairings, and some amazing entree and dessert choices. One of the great things about signature restaurants, is many are located at resort hotels, so you don’t need park admission or park hoppers to visit them! Which leads me to my next point…

3a. Take advantage of the Deluxe Dining Plan. This plan is not for the faint of heart, or the tiny stomach. Disney’s deluxe dining plan provides you with 3 credits per person, per night stayed and can be used as a table service or quick service credit. An upgrade to the Disney dining plan, this plan provides an appetizer, entree, dessert, and non-alcoholic beverage for lunch and dinner meals (no appetizer or dessert for breakfast). It’s a great way to try multiple signature restaurants around Disney. While deluxe dining is expensive, it’s a great add on to an adults trip (or upgrade your dining when staying during a free dining promotion for more savings!) If you’re interested in any sort of character dining, you can enjoy that on this plan, too!

4. Enjoy drinks around the world in Epcot. Similar to #3, stop at each country in Epcot and have a drink of the land. This works out best if you share a drink or if you break it up into 2 days, as there is A LOT to try. I haven’t found many people that can each have a drink and make it all the way around and continue their Disney day without being quite obnoxious by the end of the night 🙂 This experience is enhanced during one of Epcot’s annual festivals – both Flower & Garden in the spring or Food & Wine in the fall!

5. Take a carriage ride. A romantic carriage ride is offered at Disney’s Port Orleans Riverside (for an additional feel of course).  Port Orleans can be reached by boat from Downtown Disney (a great end to a romantic night after dinner) or by bus from any theme park.

6. Enjoy a spa day. Saratoga Springs & Grand Floridian both have spas available for guest use. Call to reserve your germany-epcotservice before your arrival and pamper yourself!

7. Enjoy evening magic hours. My  husband and I like to enjoy evening magic hours when we travel. It’s an easy way to see more in less time, especially when there are 2 full hours of fun. Families with kids start to dwindle as the hour gets later. We get up early, head to the parks, take a nice long break in the middle of the date, eat a late dinner and enjoy all the extra time Disney has to offer us! Be aware that most of the “adult” attractions will still have some lines during these late hours, but the later they go, the shorter your waits will be as it gets into the wee hours in the morning!

8. Check out the evening offerings at BoardWalk. Disney’s BoardWalk has some fun things for adults including meals, street performers, and a piano bar (JellyRolls). This area is open later than most in Disney!

9. Spend a whole day in the park. While I don’t normally suggest staying in the park for a full 10-12 hours, doing it without kids is manageable, especially for a short trip. To let your feet take a break, park hop and the bus or monorail ride will be a little break. .With dining in there, you’ll be able to rest inside the park as well. This option makes things a bit easier with park hoppers as the transportation gives you a nice rest (as well as a break from the Florida weather!0

10. Pretend you are a kid again. Meet characters, go on water rides, do some character dining, and enjoy Disney like a kid! Just because you’re a grown up, you have no real responsibility. Enjoy yourself!!!

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!) 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!

Friday Five: 5 things every Disney World 1st timer should do

One of my favorite photos from our April trip!

One of my favorite photos from our April trip!

Happy Friday! I hope everyone had a fantastic Thanksgiving with family with ideas brewing for future Disney destinations travel!! Today, I want to talk about a few things I think every first timer should do when visiting Walt Disney World. This will enhance your trip and make for a more memorable experience!

1. Making at least one dining reservation. If you’re choosing to skip the dining plan (see a post from earlier this week why it’s not the best choice even as first timers!), you should still make at least one dining reservation and ideally make 2 – one inside and one outside of the park. The one inside the park is a matter of convenience to give your feet a rest (and possibly a good character experience). The outside park (in one of Disney’s resorts) gives you an opportunity to visit a resort that is not yours to do some valuable “research” for future travel. As a first timer, it also gives you a sense that you belong in a resort. You are welcome to visit any Disney resort at any time, but as a first timer, it seems a bit overwhelming to just go somewhere if you aren’t staying there – especially some of the higher end deluxe resorts!

2. See the Magic Kingdom welcome show. Every morning (pending any heavy rain showers), Magic Kingdom has a welcome show which occurs 20 minutes before park open. On days when extra magic hours are available, it’s 20 minutes before the morning magic hours. Many Disney characters arrive on the train in elaborate fashion. It’s an amazing start to the day (something that makes me a bit teary eyed every time we see it!) Plan on arriving at the gate about 30-40 minutes before park open to be near the front of the crowd to see the show and to get into the park and to your first attractions of the day!

3. Meet a character. Whether you are traveling with kids or not, take a few minutes out of your day to meet a Disney character. Its worth the experience and opportunity to remember! Talking Mickey in Town Square in Magic Kingdom is one of our favorites (and the favorites of adults as well as they trip and pick apart HOW it works!!)

4. Visit Disney Springs. You’ll also see this location in old posts here as well as many other blogs as Downtown Disney. This bustling area is filled with shopping, dining, and Disney entertainment! You won’t need a whole day for it, but you can easily spend a 1/2 day here for the best shopping (World of Disney and Once Upon a Toy) and some great dining of all shapes and sizes – whether you want fine dining (Morimoto Asia or The Boathouse) or family friendly options like Raglan Road, T-Rex, or Rainforest Cafe, it’s well worth taking a few hours to explore!!

5. See Wishes Fireworks. While all of Disney’s evening spectaculars are worth seeing, if you can only keep kids up to see one, Wishes is my choice! It’s incredibly well done and can be seen from most areas of the Magic Kingdom in front of the castle (you can also see it from behind the castle, but that’s not the experience I’d recommend as a first timer). Find your spot shortly after the Main Street Electrical Parade if offered during your stay in Magic Kingdom for the best spot!

For those that have traveled before, what are your must do experiences in Walt Disney World? What would you skip the next time around?

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 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!

How to deal with non-thrill riders in Disney World

 

Disney World is all about the fun and have varying degrees of thrills. You have your family friendly attractions which are good for kids of all ages, rides that spin but often have no height requirement, motion simulator rides like Star Tours that have motions that sync up to a video in front of you, and coasters of all sizes from the family coaster with 35-38 inch height requirements to the high thrills with height requirements in the range of 44 to 48 inches.

For me personally, age (and having my daughter) have lowered my tolerance for thrill rides. I’ve never been a motion simulator type of girl and never well be and I don’t like to spin, so how do we manage trips where other adults want to ride while I don’t? There are truly several ways…

10 Long Lines in Walt Disney World ParksFirst, don’t try and do something that is above your comfort or tolerance level. It will make for a headache or queasy feeling the rest of the day and can make for absolutely no fun! I’ll get on things like Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, and Splash Mountain, but that’s about the top of my tolerance level. In certain situations, I can be coaxed into Space Mountain (like when Disney rebrands it as HyperSpace Mountain in Disneyland and we are offered a sneak preview), but it’s well outside my norm! My husband and my dad are both big on coasters – everything from Expedition Everest and Space Mountain to Rock n Roller Coaster and Star Tours. Essentially during that time I “take one for the team” and allow them to enjoy their thrill rides. I also take the opportunity to take a bathroom break, do a little exploring, grab some water, or take photos of the surroundings!

How do we manage it? Making sure that those specific rides are done in the early morning hours the park is open or splitting a FastPass between a thrill ride and something else a little more tame for me. Several of these attractions also have a single rider line can be used if you don’t want to use schedule a WDW FastPass.

Attractions that have single rider line in WDW:Expedition Everest

  • Rock n Roller Coaster
  • Test Track

Attractions that need a FastPass regardless of time of day:

  • Seven Dwarfs Mine Train
  • Soarin’

Attractions that can be done 1st thing in the morning with minimal wait for the non-riders (this means arriving 20-30 minutes before park opens and walking quickly and safely to the attraction and riding standby) (the attractions in parenthesis is something the non-riders can do in the area):

  • Rock n Roller Coaster (shops along Hollywood Blvd, Toy Story Mania)
  • Tower of Terror (shops along Hollywood Blvd, Toy Story Mania)
  • Star Tours (Watch Jedi Training Academy, Muppets 3D)
  • Space Mountain (PeopleMover, Carousel of Progress, Buzz Lighyear, Pete’s Silly Sideshow)
  • Big Thunder Mountain Railroad (Tom Sawyer Island, Laughin’ Place if you have kids, ride the train)
  • Splash Mountain (Tom Sawyer Island, Laughin’ Place if you have kids, ride the train)
  • Expedition Everest (Finding Nemo the Musical)
  • Dinosaur (The Dig site if if you have kids, Meet Goofy & Pluto – one of my FAV meet and greets!)
  • Mission Space (Test Track/after market area, there’s also a fun area near the exit of the attraction)

And attractions that can split FastPass between 2 attractions for the non-riders (especially if younger kids are involved):

  • Space Mountain (Buzz Lightyear Space Ranger Spin, Tomorrowland Speedway)

    Seven Dwarfs Mine Train

    Seven Dwarfs Mine Train

  • Seven Dwarfs Mine Train (Enchanted Tales with Belle, Peter Pan’s Flight, Small World, Dumbo, and more…)
  • Splash Mountain & Big Thunder Mountain Railroad (Small World, Haunted Mansion, Pirates of the Caribbean)
  • Mad Tea Party (Tomorrowland Speedway, Dumbo and more…)
  • Rock n Roller Coaster (Beauty & the Beast Live on Stage or Toy Story Midway Mania – not in close proximity)
  • Tower of Terror (Frozen Sing-Along, Voyage of the Little Mermaid – not in close proximity)
  • Star Tours (Lights, Motors, Action Stunt Show, Frozen Sing-Along – not in close proximity)
  • Expedition Everest (Finding Nemo the Musical, Meet Disney Pals at Adventures Outpost)
  • Soarin’ (Living with the Land)
  • Mission Space (Spaceship Earth, Epcot Character Spot)

If you have all riding adults and a non-riding child, check out rider switch which is truly the way to maximize your experience!\

If you have questions or are looking for help making sense of all of your options, I’d love to help!

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 either a Disney World 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!