Friday Five: 5 Favorite Mickey Meet and Greets at Walt Disney World

It’s the big cheese’s birthday – Happy birthday Mickey! In his honor, today’s Friday Five is all about where to find him and the best ways to meet him whether it’s a character experience inside the park or a dining location! Here are our top 5 with assistance from my favorite Mouseketeer – my 3 year old daughter!

  1. Mickey at Town Square Theater in Magic Kingdom. For anyone that has experienced this, it’s not a townsquaremickey
    surprise that it’s our number 1 choice. It’s a great way to ease your new to Disney World kiddos to meeting characters. Why? Because HE TALKS!! It’s truly the most magical experience and perfect for kids young and old. Moms – grab the tissues because I can tell you get a little teary almost every time. I can also tell you we’ve played with Mickey at least 15 times and I’ve had a different experience every time. He’s also got a different experience for children vs. adult groups so it’s a fun interaction no matter what your age!
  2. Epcot Character Spot in Epcot. This fun location has a meet and greet with Mickey, Minnie, and Pluto in their more classic attire. We love it because it’s a relaxed, air conditioned area that has a fun theme backdrop and the characters are always warm and welcoming! It’s a don’t miss img_6270experience for  us when we hit Epcot!
  3. The first character DINING experience on the list and it’s not as well thought about as many others – Garden Grill in Epcot. This location now serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner with Mickey (dressed as a Farmer), Pluto, and Chip and Dale coming around to visit! The food here is good and the character interaction is quite good as well. Chip and dale are full of mischief. We actually like booking a late breakfast because it’s often fairly empty during that time of day which means more time with the main man for us!
  4. Adventures Outpost in Animal Kingdom. One of the few places to see Mickey in Animal Kingdom is at Adventures Outpost where Minnie and Mickey are ready to head on their very own safari. Unique attire make this location fun but watch out – lines can get long mid-day with its proximity to Expedition Everest. It makes for a great “split” for families with little ones that don’t measure up for or are too scared for one of Disney’s bigger coasters.

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    Mickey taking some time to doodle on a photo of himself at Garden Grill!

  5. Sorcerer Mickey in Hollywood Studios. Hit the Red Carpet – Mickey is ready for his close up inside Disney’s Hollywood Studios. With his Sorcerer robes and hat, it’s another unique experience that everyone can enjoy. With the current construction work going on in this park as well as this meet and greet’s location, we often don’t find the line very long so it’s an easy way to sneak in an extra Mickey hug!

What’s your favorite place to meet Mickey? If you want your first hug from Mickey or are just missing the main mouse, let’s plan your 2017 Disney World adventure! Please contact me at any time for a free quote. The benefits to using an agent that is

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)

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!

Beyond Burgers: Unique Quick Service locations at Walt Disney World

beyondburgers

As a fan of any of Disney’s dining plans, we know our way around the menu! In fact, we’ve challenged ourselves to not eat any sort of  “theme park food” during our stays which include chicken fingers, burgers, and hot dogs. Surprisingly, it’s easier than I expected it to be if you know where to look! So today we’re going beyond burgers around Walt Disney World.

And where else to start but with the most difficult park – The Magic Kingdom. Magic Kingdom is best known for being the family friendly park. It’s a crowd favorite and therefore I think it tries to cater to the masses which means a lot of basic menu items and a lot of kid friendly items. If you want to avoid that theme park food experience, check out…

  • Pecos Bill Tall Tale Inn – a new Mexican style flair which is going a year strong and something that was definitely needed in a park full of burgers. Combine that with the toppings bar and you can easily have a meal for 2 with just 1 quick service credit.
  • Be Our Guest – This would be at breakfast or lunch ONLY since dinner is table service. And a big note – this is the only quick service location that requires reservations so advanced planning is needed here!
  • Columbia Harbour House – with things like Fish and Chips and Lobster Rolls, it’s a unique menu and located toward the “middle” of the park so it’s fairly easily accessible from anywhere!

From the most difficult, to the easiest…over to Epcot! With ethnic flairs around World Showcase and even running into a location in Future World, there’s a lot to be had here! It’s a place I wouldn’t plan for too many sit down meals because quick service is delicious and gives you more time to explore fun new and old as well as a lot of great characters!

  • If you’re in Future World, check out Sunshine Seasons on the first floor of the Land Pavilion. This is the same location you’ll find Soarin’ and Living with the Land so if you plan your FastPasses accordingly, you can Soar around the World and then have a great meal!
  • If you find yourself in World Showcase without a dining reservation, check out Mexico, China, Morocco, England, Japan, and my favorite – France for unique menu items without a burger or fry in sight!

Hollywood Studios is another park that is similar to Magic Kingdom with many locations serving burgers and fries, but there are a few unique options!

  • The new PizzeRizzo opens this week with pizzas, pastas and a meatball sub that looks really amazing!
  • Starring Rolls is a great option for those with the a sweet tooth – while there are not a ton of quick service menu items, it’s a great way to find a sweet treat after you’re done with your lunch or dinner!
  • Fairfax Fare has the most unique menu items with ribs and BBQ pork recently added to the menu. It’s a great little stop on your way over to Fantasmic – you can bring food in!

Most of Animal Kingdom‘s food is unique so you’ll happily find flavor and beyond burgers all over the park. Some highlights for me:

  • Flame Tree BBQ – You’ll see this well rated by guests across Disney blogs. Good BBQ, fresh flavors, and a nice view!
  • Harambe Market – Another newer location in Disney World – you’ll find African spices and more unique menu items we’d happily go back for!
  • Yak & Yeti Counter Service – This is actually my favorite choice in Animal Kingdom. It’s a taste of the table service location with portion sizes that are more comfortable for my stomach (anyone that follows me knows that we often share meals at table service and quick service location when it’s possible so it’s a nice medium that would allow us to share if we’re not really hungry but lets eat our own portion if we didn’t have a big breakfast!)

Outside of the parks, Disney Springs has a plethora of unique options!

  • Earl of Sandwich – great for folks not on a dining plan because the price point is very reasonable by Disney Standards
  • Along the same lines, Blaze Pizza. We have one locally so it’s not a location we will frequent in Disney but the food is good, reasonably priced, and can be shared quite easily!
  • Wolfgang Puck Express has good pasta and pizza options with massive portion sizes!

BUT let’s not forget about the resorts! While all resorts have their own take on dining with unique themes based on location, there are some that are a cut above the rest – no pun intended!

  • Art of Animation’s Landscape of Flavors is somewhere we’ll go no matter where we stay. It’s worth the trip! I could easily eat a few menu items on a daily basis and my husband loves that there are some Indian inspired dishes on the menu!
  • The Mara at Animal Kingdom Lodge. This is another location that gives some African spices and flavors to the menu items. There’s a great BBQ flatbread on the menu that we would happily eat multiple times in a single trip! It’s a bit of a hike, but if you’re staying at Animal Kingdom Lodge or Villas, it’s worth checking out!
  • Contempo Cafe in Contemporary Resort. A quick hop skip and a monorail ride away from Magic Kingdom, it’s a great place to dine outside of MK if you want a break or if you want some good food. Hot and cold sandwiches, flatbreads, and salads are all good!
  • Capt’n Cooks in Polynesian Village. Similar to Contemporary – a quick monorail ride away and a nice break from the parks. Nachos, adult grilled cheese, and unique Polynesian style means available and it’s a great rest break from what can be a long day at Magic Kingdom!
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)

Are you up for the beyond burger challenge in Disney World? It’s actually easier than you think! Bon appetit! 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!

Two vacations in one: Disney World & Disney Cruise Line

landandsea

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!

 

Early 2017 Disney World promos are here!

It’s baaaaaaack! Play, stay, and dine, the little sister of free dining is back and Disney is also offering a room discount which saves guests money on their resort stay (percentages are based on your travel dates and resort, but it’s just another way to save yourself a few dollars on your next Disney World adventure! So let’s break down the details…

play-stay-and-dine

If it’s difficult to read the fine print – excluded from this offer are Little Mermaid rooms at Art of Animation, all 3 bedroom villas, Bungalows at Polynesian Villas, campsites at Ft. Wilderness (but Cabins are included), and Port Orleans French Quarter (which is not listed on this document but). Guests are required to have a minimum 3 night stay and minimum 2 days of park tickets to qualify for this offer!

room-offer

This offer is a bit more general. Similar exclusions with Little Mermaid rooms at Art of Animation, all 3 bedroom villas, Bungalows at Polynesian Villas, and campsites at Ft. Wilderness (but Cabins are included. The percentage of savings varies by travel date and resort. How does it break down?

Resort Category Resort Savings

Select Disney Deluxe Villas

Save up to 25%
Stays most nights
1/1/17 – 4/8/17
Disney’s BoardWalk Villas 25%
Disney’s Old Key West Resort
Disney’s Polynesian Villas & Bungalows — Studios only
Disney’s Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa
Disney’s Animal Kingdom Villas – Jambo House 10%
Disney’s Animal Kingdom Villas – Kidani Village
Disney’s Beach Club Villas
The Villas at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge

Select Disney Deluxe Resorts

Save up to 25%
Stays most nights
1/1/17 – 4/8/17
Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge 25%
Disney’s BoardWalk Inn
Disney’s Wilderness Lodge
Disney’s Yacht Club Resort
Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa 15%
Disney’s Beach Club Resort 10%
Disney’s Contemporary Resort
Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort

Select Disney Moderate Resorts

Save up to 20%
Stays most Sunday through Thursday nights
1/1/17 – 2/18/17
Stays most nights
2/19/17-4/8/17
The Cabins at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort 20%
Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort
Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort
Disney’s Port Orleans Resort — French Quarter 10%
Disney’s Port Orleans Resort — Riverside

Select Disney Value Resorts

Save up to 15%
  Stays most Sunday through Thursday nights
1/1/17 – 2/18/17
Stays most nights
2/19/17-4/8/17
Disney’s All-Star Music Resort 15%
Disney’s All-Star Sports Resort
Disney’s Art of Animation Resort — Family Suites Only
Disney’s Pop Century Resort
Disney’s All-Star Movies Resort 10%

As you can see, you can save a lot if you are flexible in your resort destination! If you’re looking for a new favorite Disney resort, now is a great time to explore a fun new option!

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 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!

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!

 

“You’re going to Disney AGAIN?”

DSC_1330

It’s a question I receive a lot. Melissa, you’re really going to Disney again? Don’t you get tired of it? Isn’t it all the same? I have clients that actually give me a run for my money in number of trips in a year so I’ll answer for all of us instead of just answering for what I do.

YES!!!!! We are going again. And sorry I’m not sorry about it! It’s my magical home away from home. It’s a place where I don’t have to worry about the troubles of the world or my life at the time. It’s a place where magic happens around you every single day (if you are in the positive mind frame to look for it). It’s a place that has given me some of the best memories of my life and given me strong ties to family and friends! It’s where I’ve made new friendships and a place I can bond with people like ME. The generally bright, shiny, happy-go-lucky, Disney lover. It’s a place where dreams come true.

Everyone has their own memories of Disney and what is important to them. Listening to the music of Main Street Electrical parade for one last time reminds me of that first time we watched as a family. A sweet family allowed my then 2 year old daughter to sit on the curb while they stood behind their kiddos. She feverishly waived and blew kisses to every single character that walked by (even those who she had never seen before). It was absolute joy and delight. That smell of walking into Wilderness Lodge will always make me feel like it’s “home”. For others it’s Beach Club that and that flowery aroma. For others, it’s that taste of Dole Whip or a special dinner you do on your first night.

The best part about our Disney adventures is that no two are the same. There is always something JUST a little bit different about each adventure and a special moment about each adventure. Some of it is the anticipation and excitement of Disney and knowing I have something to look forward to. I definitely feel like something is “missing” when there’s not something in the future.

“But Melissa, you have perks by being an agent.” Well, yes this is true but doesn’t everyone have some sort of job perk or benefit that they get to take advantage of? Yes, I have some nice benefits but I’ve earned them by working hard and staying on top of everything that is up and coming with Disney. I use our trips to continue my knowledge and pass it forward to other guests. So I work on vacation, I wake up at 5 am to book dining and then have to stay away until 6 to do FastPasses for someone else. I work weekends and late night and my house is a mess because clients come first. But all of that is 10000% worth it when it comes to being able to say, we’re going to Disney World! or Disneyland or a Disney Cruise or even Universal Orlando! I love it all. I love what I do and I L-O-V-E Disney!

So don’t let anyone tell you that you’ve done Disney too many times because there’s never a too many for me!

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

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

If you’re ready for your next adventure, let’s start planning! Disney World, Disney Cruise Line, Disneyland, and Universal all have rates through the end of 2017, so we can start the magic now! 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!

Mistakes I’ve made in Disney World (and how you can avoid them)

A long, long time ago in a galaxy far far away…I was a first time Disney World visitor (as an adult). I traveled to Disney World a few times as a child with my family but when you’re young, you just go with the flow. As an adult and in charge of my first ever trip to Disney World in which I was paying out of my own pocket, I made some mistakes. Some big ones! Here were my biggest faux pas and how you can avoid them…

Not Making a Plan ahead of timeThis is much harder to do now that FastPass+ is in effect and more guests than ever are choosing to add a dining plan to their package. It was my sister and me. She had just graduated college and we were celebrating in Disney World. We found a great promo, made 2 dining reservations and just planned to eat as inexpensive as possible as 2 girls just starting with our careers. Neither of our dining reservations were in the parks, so I truly went in with ZERO plan for the day. A marker of Disney World success is knowing park hours, extra magic hours, and having a plan of action prior to your arrival. We truly wandered around the parks (which was fine for two 20somethings, but I felt like we missed a lot – AND WE DID!!)

Not researching resorts enough. My initial research involved finding the absolute rock bottom lowest price. Disney, just like the rest of the world, you get what you pay for! Poly signBooking the cheapest room in the cheapest resort gave us the cheapest experience. Shared bus system, an almost 10 minute walk to from our room the the main building to refill mugs and not our kind of “people” in the resort! If I would have taken 10-15 minutes to research the resorts, look at reviews, or look at other options, I would have spent $75 more (for the entire week – not just one day) on a different resort!

Not realizing how Extra Magic Hours affect crowds. This was one of our biggest mistakes! We saw early morning magic hours for each park and thought that would be a great park to go to with our base tickets (OOPS!) Early Magic Hours increase park crowds and unless you can arrive at the parks before that early hour opens (which can be as early as 7 am during peak travel time), you’re doing yourself a disservice and will end up seeing MORE crowds than you would have on a different day.

Arriving lateWe were on vacation. We took time to sleep in. No college classes, no work, why should we get up early? 9 am – 12 pm are the most important hours of the day (or if park open is 8 am during peak travel time). Being part of the late arriving crowd will have you miss the lowest crowds of each day where many attractions are “walk on”. Set an alarm, wake up early and plan on a nap or a break if the early mornings are getting to you! Consider an off day to let everyone sleep in instead of arriving at the park at 11 am or 12 pm each day and then just staying until park close.

Our amazing view from the FastPass viewing area of MSEP!

Our amazing view from the FastPass viewing area of MSEP!

Not understanding FastPass. Again, we’re going back in time when FastPass was still the paper version. We didn’t figure out how things worked until the end of our trip but the theory still holds true with FastPass+. In Disney’s new system, each guest receives 3 FastPasses for every day they have theme park admission. These can be scheduled up to 60 days in advance of your arrival if you are staying on site and on site guests receive the bonus adding more FastPasses throughout the day by using the My Disney Experience app. FastPass is a key to success no matter what time of year you travel!

Not having the option of park hopping.  Two adults, no kids in tow, lots of rain, cancelled fireworks and shows. We should have park hopped! Our first night, Magic Kingdom fireworks were cancelled because of lightning in the area and we missed Epcot’s because we were so water logged later in the week. With base tickets, we didn’t have the opportunity go back to Epcot based on how our days ended up falling into place. It would have been a nice addition to our trip just to give us some flexibility in our days.

Being afraid to explore other resorts. We hopped the boat from Hollywood Studios down toward the Boardwalk and walked around, had some lunch and then started to peek around Boardwalk Inn. Since it wasn’t our resort, I was uncomfortable walking inside because I didn’t feel like I belonged there. The good news for you? You are welcome in ANY Disney World resort if you’d like to explore the common areas! You don’t need a reservation for a dining location. Hop a bus, boat, or monorail and explore!

Not using Magical Express luggage service. We were flying an airline that offered resort airline check in but we didn’t understand what that meant! For those on qualifying airlines, you may check your luggage with Magical Express at your Disney World resort and only your carry ons will come with you on the bus back to the airport. Luggage is secured and sent to the airport and then next time you’ll see it is at your home airport. Amazing little time saver to not deal with anything at the airport and there are rarely guests in line (at least in my 10+ experiences with it!)

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)

I hope you learned a few things from my mistakes! I’d love to help plan for your magical adventure! If  you’re ready to get started planning your 2016 or 2017 Disney World vacation, Please contact me at any time for a free quote. The benefits to using an authorized Disney vacation planner include saving time before and during your vacation with itinerary planning which can help save you hours of standing in line each day. Plus you won’t have to watch for available discounts, research resorts, wake up early for dining reservations, or stay up late for FastPasses. The best part about using a travel planner instead of planning yourself? It’s totally FREE! Plus I’ll take away some of the stress and confusion of planning a Disney vacation (especially if it’s your first one!)It’s also a worry free cruise opportunity. I’ll walk through through all of the steps to the process with a few little insider tips along the way! If you already have your vacation planned and are interested in transferring your vacation, ask me how!

 

Planning your December 2016 Disney World vacation

 

It’s the most wonderful time of the year! This guide is specifically for guests traveling to Disney World in December 2016.  December crowds are up and down all month but it’s trending up. There are pockets of higher travel times  but a few pockets of lower crowd times. Most notably, the weeks between Christmas and New Years. You’ll see the month start a little slow in terms of crowds and increase through New Year’s Eve which is one of the most traveled days to Disney World.

December weather in Disney World

According to Weather.com the average high in the month of December is 73 and the low is 52.  Be sure to check your favorite weather app prior to your departure to confirm actual temperatures before you pack. December is a very variable month from year to year. In our recent December trip, we had absolutely beautiful weather. Comfortable park touring weather during the day and we added light jackets after the sun went down!

Choosing your Travel Dates/Events to be Aware of

  • Various dates in Dec –  Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Parties begin (for full details, check out Tips for this special event!)
  • Dec 1 – 31 – Epcot’s Candlelight Processional which provides a little extra holiday magic with a celebrity narrator retelling the story of Christmas
  • Dec 24 – 31 – Peak holiday season – these are the largest crowds of the entire year and crowds will be busiest. Using FastPass and planning ahead are extremely important!

Many travel dates will also include an opportunity to Magic Kingdom’s special event: Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party! This special event is an added expense, but a fun way to get into the Holiday spirit in both November and December. Disney ends this special event just before Christmas but the parade from this special event becomes a daily show near Christmas day.

When to book dining

At the time of publication, dining is available for booking. Many of the most popular options have been booked, but pecosbillcancellations do occur. Patience is the name of the game for popular locations like Cinderella’s Table, Be Our Guest, Chef Mickey’s, Ohana and more! If you’re looking for one of these headliners, continue to check on availability as it’s constantly changing!

Promotional Offers

No current promotions available for December but some should be coming extremely soon!

Cost

So how much will it cost a family of 4 to travel to Disney World in December 2016? Let’s do the math! These prices are BEFORE the peak Holiday season begins. If you’d like to experience Christmas at Disney, you’ll spend a bit more money.

The Smith family wants a fun an inexpensive vacation and are planning 7 days and 6 nights at a value resort. I suggested Pop Century since it’s most centrally located among the value resorts. They are taking mom, dad, Susie – 13 and Jenny – 9 on their first vacation! They have decided on 5 days of base tickets to really focus on one park each day and to save a little bit of money and will pay for meals out of pocket and bring some snacks with as well, so no dining plan. $2546.46

Disney's Pop Century brings adults back to their childhood!

Disney’s Pop Century brings adults back to their childhood!

The Jones family wants a moderately priced vacation and are also planning 7 days and 6 nights, but they want to stay at a moderate resort. Their two daughters love Disney princesses so they are considering an upgrade to a royal guest room. They are also going to do 5 days of base tickets but are considering the upgrade to park hoppers to see more with their time. If the Jones family chooses the least expensive package options, their moderate vacation would cost them $3022.34. If they added park hoppers to their tickets, their vacation would cost them $3316.30. And if they wanted to upgrade to a royal room their vacation would cost them $3548.04

The Howell family wants to go all out for their two children’s first Disney World vacation and stay in a deluxe resort for 7 days and 6 nights. They definitely want park hoppers to see everything and they are considering the dining plan. Their preferred resort is Wilderness Lodge to have access to Magic Kingdom. With 5 days of park hoppers, their vacation would cost them $5678.76 If they did elect to add the dining plan, their vacation would cost them $6962.46

The bottom line

A family of 4  have a reasonably priced vacation and enjoy some lower prices and moderate crowds!

Start planning your December 2016 vacation

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 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 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!

Planning your April 2017 Disney World vacation!

 

This guide is specifically for guests traveling to Disney World in April 2017 (The rest of the year will come soon if you’re looking to travel later in the year!)

For complete months: January 2017, February 2017, March 2017

Crowds continue to increase in April as Spring Break continues through the week of Easter (April 16th). Droves of families from all over the country take this break from school as a perfect excuse to head to Disney World (as if you need an excuse!) In addition to higher crowd levels, prices spike to more peak levels. While Spring Breaks are staggered throughout the country (sometimes even within the same state), from what I’ve investigated, the week of Easter and the week following are the two most popular weeks.  The week following Easter, but crowds and prices begin to fall and weather is often quite pleasant!

April weather in Disney World

According to Weather.com the average high in the month of April is 82 and the low is 58. Be sure to check your favorite weather app prior to your departure to confirm actual temperatures before you pack. This can be picture perfect weather for Disney World! Warm enough to swim during the day but not too hot that walking around the parks are unbearable! I can tell you from personal experience, the early parts of April 2014 were HOT and late April 2015 was very comfortable! April 2017 was again a bit warmer than predicted. Remember that the average of 82 meals there were days warmer and cooler but it’s pretty safe to say you’ll be happy and shorts and taking some time for the pool or a water park!

Choosing Your Travel Dates/Events to be aware of

  • April 1 – 22 – Spring break season concludes! It’s still generally better to travel during peak spring break vs. peak summer based on temperatures and similar crowds!
  • March 1 – May 29 – Epcot’s Flower & Garden Festival. This doesn’t increase the overall day to day crowds in Epcot or in the resorts, however you may see an increase in crowds over the first few days of the Festival with bloggers and excited guests!
  • April 20-23 RunDisney – Star Wars Half Marathon: The Dark Side. This is the 2nd annual event and it’s gaining popularity with events on both coasts throughout the year! Like other RunDisney events, you won’t see a huge increase in crowds in the parks, but it will limit some resort availability.

Special Offers/Promotions

  • No promotional offers will be available at the time of publication. Look toward the end of 2016 or around the first of the year for promotional offers for Spring 2017 (based on historical releases). In previous years, a room discount was offered with an additional day of park tickets at no additional cost!

When to book dining

Dining reservations are available 180 days in advance of your arrival date which means you can bee dining for April can be made in early October! If you have an active package, you’ll have the ability to book dining for your entire length of stay. If you’re inside that mark, you may not see every dining reservation available – especially popular things like character dinners (especially Cinderella’s Table, and Chef Mickey’s) and popular locations like Ohana and Be Our Guest. Don’t let lack of availability worry you, since all Disney dining reservations require a credit card guarantee, cancellations do happen so persistence and patience are key! As we start the month in Spring Break, planning for the incredibly popular locations are often best for later in your trip to secure prime dinner times!

Cost

Disney's Pop Century brings adults back to their childhood!

Disney’s Pop Century brings adults back to their childhood!

So how much will it cost a family of 4 to travel to Disney World in April of 2017? Let’s do the math. Remember these are NON-DISCOUNTED rates so your total could be less than the ones listed below. These travel dates fall under Spring Break as it’s a more popular time to travel.

The Smith family wants a fun an inexpensive vacation and are planning 7 days and 6 nights at a value resort. I suggested Pop Century in a preferred room since it’s most centrally located among the value resorts. They are taking mom, dad, Susie – 13 and Jenny – 9 on their first vacation! They have decided on 5 days of base tickets to really focus on one park each day and to save a little bit of money and will pay for meals out of pocket and bring some snacks with as well, so no dining plan. $2796.14

The Jones family wants a moderately priced vacation and are also planning 7 days and 6 nights, but they want to stay at a moderate resort. Their two daughters love Disney princesses so they are considering an upgrade to a royal guest room. They are also going to do 5 days of base tickets but are considering the upgrade to park hoppers to see more with their time. If the Jones family chooses the least expensive package options, their moderate vacation would cost them $3342.98. If they added park hoppers to their tickets, their vacation would cost them $3636.94. And if they wanted to upgrade to a royal room their vacation would cost them $33913.66

The Howell family wants to go all out for their two children’s first Disney World vacation and stay in a deluxe resort for 7 days and 6 nights. They definitely want park hoppers to see everything and they are considering the dining plan. Their preferred resort is Wilderness Lodge but with the construction scheduled, they are going to try out the recently renovated Polynesian resort to have access to Magic Kingdom. and Epcot. With 5 days of park hoppers, their vacation would cost them $6228.94. If they did elect to add the dining plan, their vacation would cost them $7586.20

The bottom line

April is a great time to travel to Disney World if your only options are school breaks whether you can’t pull your kids out of school or if you’re a teacher! If you’re looking for lower crowds after Spring Break season before the summer temps start to soar, the end of the month leading into May is one of my favorite times to travel! While the pricepoint is a bit higher in Spring Break Season than that of the the “off season” a family of 4 can have a magical Disney vacation. There is potential for some promotional offers (typical room discounts), so your family can still save a few dollars as well!

Start planning your April 2017 vacation

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

Planning your November 2016 Disney World vacation

 

This guide is specifically for guests traveling to Disney World in November 2016. For other months…

November crowds are up and down all month. There are pockets of higher travel times  but a few pockets of great low crowd times. Most notably, the week of Thanksgiving is a very popular option. The weeks prior are less busy but this month has becoming a great time for families looking for cooler temperatures and holiday decor but still the opportunity to get away from the “winter weather” that might be at home!

November weather in Disney World

According to Weather.com the average high in the month of November is 79 and the low is 57.  Be sure to check your favorite weather app prior to your departure to confirm actual temperatures before you pack. November is a very variable month. In a recent trip, it was 80 degrees to start our trip and then highs dropped into the low 50s during the day with wind. November is not a rainy season, but still be prepared for a bit of sprinkles during your stay.

Choosing Your Travel Dates/Events to be aware of

  • Nov 1 – 14 – Epcot’s Food & Wine Festival Concludes
  • Nov 6-12 – Jersey Week (not a huge change in overall crowds, but this week will have droves of guests form New Jersey traveling to Disney due to a week off of school)
  • Nov 7 – Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Parties begin (for full details, check out Tips for this special event!)
  • November 19-26 – Thanksgiving week (a peak travel week for 2016)

Many travel dates will also include an opportunity to Magic Kingdom’s special event: Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party! This special event is an added expense, but a fun way to get into the Holiday spirit in both November and December. Limited options are available the week of Thanksgiving.

When to book dining

At the time of publication, dining is available for booking. Many of the most popular options have been booked, but pecosbillcancellations do occur. Patience is the name of the game for popular locations like Cinderella’s Table, Be Our Guest, Chef Mickey’s, Ohana and more! If you’re looking for one of these headliners, continue to check on availability as it’s constantly changing!

Promotional Offers

Disney is currently offering a room promotion to help save you money off of your resort stay! For full details check out Back to School offer for dates and available resorts included. This promo ends November 5th and a new offer should be available very soon!

Cost

So how much will it cost a family of 4 to travel to Disney World in November 2016? Let’s do the math!

The Smith family wants a fun an inexpensive vacation and are planning 7 days and 6 nights at a value resort. I suggested Pop Century since it’s most centrally located among the value resorts. They are taking mom, dad, Susie – 13 and Jenny – 9 on their first vacation! They have decided on 5 days of base tickets to really focus on one park each day and to save a little bit of money and will pay for meals out of pocket and bring some snacks with as well, so no dining plan. $2285.48

Disney's Pop Century brings adults back to their childhood!

Disney’s Pop Century brings adults back to their childhood!

The Jones family wants a moderately priced vacation and are also planning 7 days and 6 nights, but they want to stay at a moderate resort. Their two daughters love Disney princesses so they are considering an upgrade to a royal guest room. They are also going to do 5 days of base tickets but are considering the upgrade to park hoppers to see more with their time. If the Jones family chooses the least expensive package options, their moderate vacation would cost them $2798.48. If they added park hoppers to their tickets, their vacation would cost them $3092.44. And if they wanted to upgrade to a royal room their vacation would cost them $3352.26

The Howell family wants to go all out for their two children’s first Disney World vacation and stay in a deluxe resort for 7 days and 6 nights. They definitely want park hoppers to see everything and they are considering the dining plan. Their preferred resort is Wilderness Lodge to have access to Magic Kingdom. With 5 days of park hoppers, their vacation would cost them $5022.98 If they did elect to add the dining plan, their vacation would cost them $6306.68

The bottom line

A family of 4  have a reasonably priced vacation and enjoy some lower prices and moderate crowds!

Start planning your November 2016 vacation

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 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 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!