2015 Year in Review!

It’s into 2016, but I wanted to take a little time to reflect on how amazing 2015 was for me! For all of 2015, I was a stay at home mom and worked from home full time with Magical Vacations and I couldn’t be happier! Early December marked the one year mark since I officially “retired” from the office life and I know it’s still the right decision!

Thanks to this amazing blog as well as some amazing clients who have become the most fantastic referral source for me, I helped send over 200 different families to Disney Destinations in 2015 alone – this includes Disney World, Disneyland, and Disney Cruise line. I’m still waiting for that perfect family who wants to enjoy Aulali and Adventures by Disney! Some of these families are on their 2nd or 3rd vacation with me! This ranges from guests that planned over 1 full year in advance of their arrival all the way down to just a one week before their arrival (I’m sure they had very different experiences, but both received the full Magical Vacations experience!)

2015 was also host to 2 Disney World adventures with my family  and some of the most memorable moments of my Disney “life” seeing my daughter absolutely light up seeing her favorite friends and run right past Goofy right to her favorite friend – Pluto! 2015 also hosted one amazing week of my life at Disney’s EarMarked conference which is Disney’s National travel agent conference which is an exclusive conference for high level agents and owners. I was very lucky to attend this conference and have some incredibly memorable moments including a sneak peek into a day in Adventures by Disney, a sing-along with Dick Van Dyke, some great speakers, and the motivation and excitement to keep going and doing my job well!

I learned a lot of things about myself as well. I learned I’m just human and I’m also a mom in addition to a vacation planner and added Dawn as a blog partner as we expand our overall knowledge level and ensuring that every single guest we work with has the appropriate level of customer service that we both expect to by choosing Magical Vacations as our Disney agency. I also learned that I’m WORTH IT! That I’m more than an order taker. People choose ME for my level of customer service and want my opinions and that I should assert myself. An amazing speaker at our conference reminded me that customer service and high level customer service is the way to grow a business.

And according to WordPress (which is the blog group I have this crazy little site of mine through), my blog was viewed 660,000 times in 2015 alone! Isn’t that absolutely crazy? I’m less than a month away to have 1 MILLION views all time! One of my Pinterest pins is also coming dangerously close to hitting 10,000 original plans (it’s well beyond that from the way that it exploded and fanned out). I also have some #1 spots on google searches so I’m more in demand that I really ever expected I could be and I really appreciate everyone that has reached out to ask about their own Disney vacations, thanked me for my content, or compared me to sites that I truly idolize!

2015 was truly a record breaking year all around! I’m hoping I can keep up with the pace in 2016 and help just as many or more amazing families make their Magical vacation dreams come true! I hope yours is one of them!

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

 

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


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

Spotlight Saturday: Disney’s Pop Century

IMG_1099Starting my Saturday spotlight on each Disney Resort. First up: Disney’s Pop Century.

Resort Class: Value

Dining: Everything Pop

Location: Wide World of Sports Area

Closest Park: Hollywood Studios and Epcot

Transportation Options: Bus only

Disney’s Pop Century has arguably the best location of all of the Value Resorts. Located a short bus ride away from both Hollywood Studios and Epcot, Pop Century gives “value” a whole new meaning in its resort class. While it’s typically a bit more expensive than the All Star Resorts, it’s absolutely worth every extra penny. Why? First, Pop has one of the best guest rated food courts. Second, Pop doesn’t share a bus with any other Disney resort. In the times I’ve stayed there, I’ve never had to wait for a second bus to head to a park (coming back after IllumiNations or Wishes is a different story, but everybody waits there!) Third, you are just a walk away from Art of Animation, Disney’s newest resort. This offers a second dining option as well as a little walking tour of a possible future destination!

Pop Century also offers fun theming and great pools. The main pool, the Hippy Dippy Pool, offers great fun for kids during the day and the two quiet pools are some of my favorites.

Pop Century is located along Hourglass Lake which allows for quiet and relaxing views. My favorite location is a first floor lake view in the 60s or 70s area. Other standard location rooms include the 90s building. While the view isn’t the greatest, you can easily walk right across the parking lot to the bus station or Classic Hall (check in, check out, and Everything Pop Shopping and Dining).

Pros:

  • Proximity to Hollywood Studios and Epcot
  • Inexpensive
  • Walking distance to Art of Animation
  • Quick walking access to Classic Hall and Bus Stop from all rooms

Cons:

  • Uncovered bus lines
  • Only one dining option

What are your favorite things about Pop Century?