Character Meet and Greets are Back!

Meeting your favorite character whether Mickey, Minnie or a Princess is such a magical memory made at Walt Disney World! When the parks reopened after their Covid-19 closure these meet and greets were taken away and replaced with Cavalcades. The Cavalcades are small little parades throughout the day with different characters. This was a way to see the characters and get a selfie while still remaining socially distant. Well….starting this past week we have seen some Characters in their meet and greet spots. However, you will not see them as “Meet and Greets” they are now called “Character Sightings.”

Magic Kingdom

  • Mickey Mouse is at Town Square Theater
  • Disney Princess are at Princess Fairy tale Hall

Hollywood Studios

  • Minnie Mouse is at Red Carpet Dreams
  • Disney Junior is at Animator courtyard

Yes, this is only two parks and a limited amount of characters but hey, it’s a start!!!


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New at Disney

What’s new at Walt Disney World ?

This is going to be a great year to take a Walt Disney World Vacation and I am excited to tell you why! January through March, guests can enjoy Disney After Hours at the Magic Kingdom®.  This is a great time to take advantage of little to no wait times for over 25 rides and attractions.  For adults or adults with teenagers who stay up late into the night, this is a great opportunity to take advantage of some family bonding time.  The Magic Kingdom® is usually open until 2am and to keep you going through the night, snacks and bottled beverages are provided.  This event is an extra ticketed event, so be prepared to pay around $149 per person. 

 

For the last four years Disney has been hinting at a whole new land in the Animal Kingdom® theme park and we have all seen the renderings, but it looks like it is finally to go open this summer.  Pandora – The World of Avatar will have several new attractions including Na’vi River Journey.  This ride puts you into a canoe like boat that takes you down a river with the exotic glowing plants and interesting creatures.  If you are looking for more of a thrill, then try Avatar Flight of the Passage which will allow you to experience flying with banshees. 

 

Even though the new Star Wars themed land at Hollywood Studios isn’t open yet, that doesn’t mean Disney isn’t taking advantage of adding in new characters from the latest Star Wars Movie.  Advanced Weapons Research or AWR are now part of a new scene in the “Star Wars: A Galaxy Far, Far Away” show.  There are also new props from Rogue One: A Star Wars Story movie at the Star Wars Launch Bay, and new footage of the behind the scenes of the movie.  I was going to talk about this in my next newsletter but I am too excited so I am going to share it now!!  Are you ready, this is so exciting?!?  If you are a Star Wars super fan, there is now a 7-hour guided tour led by a Star Wars “all-in the know” tour guide!!  This tour includes front of the line access to Star Tours, an in-depth tour of the new Launch Bay, Jedi training (ages 4 -12), Star Wars themed menu items from the Backlot Express, and to end it all off, prime seating with sweets and specialty beverages for the Star Wars: A Galactic Spectacular Dessert Party.  The number of people on the tour is limited so I highly recommend making reservations in advance. 

 

If you had been to WDW in 2016 you may have been surprised that Hollywood Studio® was half the park it used to be.  Don’t worry, all good changes are on their way with new and exciting rides and attractions.  They also have recently opened PizzeRizzo, a two-story eatery that serves fresh salads and personal sized pizzas.  If you have always been a big fan of Rizzo, like myself, then this is must stop quick service restaurant.  A quick note, all quick-service dining plans have removed the dessert from the meal.  In return they have added an extra snack to the plan so now everyone on the plan will receive 2 snacks per night of stay. 

 

 

The Muppets are jumping theme parks!  They will still be in Hollywood Studios® entertaining people with their quirky MuppetsVision®, but they now have their own show that plays several times a day in the Magic Kingdom® in front of the Hall of Presidents.  Get ready for Kermit the Frog, Miss Piggy, Fozzie Bear and The Great Gonzo in “The Muppets Presents…Great Moments in American History” where they put their spin on the what they believe were the greatest moments in history.  This is a live show so you never know what is going to happen. 

 

Epcot is the theme park to go to for their festivals.  They host the Food and Wine Festival and the Flower and Garden Festival to name a few.  This winter for the first time, Epcot will be hosting the Festival of the Arts which combines visual, culinary, and performing arts all in one place.  For six weeks only, you can take art classes, watch Broadway Style singing shows, and feast on delicious creations that, of course in Disney style, look too good to eat!   They are only running these special exhibits for six weeks and on Friday, Saturday, Sunday, and Monday’s only. 

 

MagicBands are now part of your everyday wardrobe when you are at Walt Disney World, and I still truly believe have revolutionized the efficiency of how Disney can handle so many people.  I am surprised in the last 4 years that Disney hasn’t redesigned the MagicBand to make it sleeker looking, and easy to wear, but wait they have!  They have redesigned the look a bit so that it is more flat to your wrist and a bit wider.  You will still have all the amazing benefits that the MagicBand had in the past, but now with a cool design. 

 

Walt Disney World has so many changes coming up that I just want to help book everyone an amazing family Disney vacation.  Make sure to contact me to book your next Disney vacation because you never know what new changes are coming or have been made!!

 

 

P.S. Call me this year to plan your AMAZING Disney vacation.  I always recommend to start planning your Walt Disney World vacation 8 to 12 months in advance so we can start planning everything out for you. 

Fill out the form below to get started planning your next European Vacation.  Looking for a motor coach tour, self-drive, or private tour, we can easily put together the perfect European vacation for you and your family’s needs. 

When you book your vacation with a member of the Life is Better Traveling Team, you are supporting local families and business.  Thank you to everyone who has supported us over the past 4 years, we have become an AMAZING travel agency due to your support!

Smaller is better…

Especially when you have a lot of walking to do all day.

 

When planning this last trip to Walt Disney World we gathered the family around the dinner table and talked about what we were looking for from a Walt Disney World resort.  Over the years we have stayed at deluxe, moderate, and value resorts, our last trip in October was at the moderate resort Caribbean Beach.  A great resort with a great pool, sit down restaurant, and pirate themed rooms, but also one of the largest resorts on property.  We were frustrated trying to get on crowded buses and walking a long distance to get to the pool and food, an inconvenience when staying in the pirate themed rooms.  So this time the family decided we wanted something smaller, intimate, but with a great pool.  The Port Orleans French Quarter was chosen.

The Port Orleans resort is two resorts in one.  There is the Riverside resort where the building mimic large mansions of the South.  The main area has a sit down restaurant, Boatwright’s, which features Southern style cuisine, and a large pool and playground for the kids.  Riverside is the larger of the two resorts, and there is more space between the buildings so the parks shuttle buses stop at four different bus stops around the resort.  Riverside is the only other moderate resort on property that has themed rooms, Princess themed rooms.  These rooms are a lot of fun if you have little Princesses of your own as there are firework displays in the headboards, and Aladdin’s Magic Carpet is in the carpet.  Riverside also has a boat dock where they have continuous service to and from French Quarter resort and after 10am to Disney Springs. 

There is the French Quarter side where the building, sidewalks, fountains, and main lobby area mimic New Orleans’ French Quarter.  The French Quarter has a nice pool with water slide and a kids’ splash zone.  There is also an outdoor bar by the pool and an indoor bar where at night they bring in bands to play music. 

The entire resort only has about eight buildings and even if you are in one of the farthest buildings it is only a 2-minute walk to the pool and food court.  French Quarter is the smallest of all the moderately price resorts and you enjoy this when you head to the one and only bus stop.  The buses were never crowded and they now have installed televisions with time tables as to when the next bus will arrive for each park or other destination.  There were also never any lines when we left the parks for the French Quarter bus stop. 

 

French Quarter also had a boat dock where boats would come every 10 to 20 minutes to either take you to the Riverside resort or to Disney Springs.  We decided to use the boat a few times to head to Disney Springs and it took about 10 minutes to get there, but you went past parts of Disney that I have never seen before including the Tree Top Villas at Sarasota Springs, Disney Vacation Club clubhouse, and an amazing view of Disney Springs from the water.  The boat dock at Disney Springs was conveniently located right around the corner from Art of Disney, and we never had to wait for more than 10 minutes to get a boat. 

 

When traveling with small children who are tired, cranky, and hot from a long day in the parks, I was glad to not have to wait several rounds to get on a bus to get back to the resort.  I enjoyed getting up early and walking down to the food court to get my cup of joe (and my husband’s beignets), and I really enjoyed the whole atmosphere of the French Quarter.  I think our family has found our favorite Disney resort that we will stay at time and time again.

Fill out the form below to get started planning your next European Vacation.  Looking for a motor coach tour, self-drive, or private tour, we can easily put together the perfect European vacation for you and your family’s needs. 

When you book your vacation with a member of the Life is Better Traveling Team, you are supporting local families and business.  Thank you to everyone who has supported us over the past 4 years, we have become an AMAZING travel agency due to your support!

 

 

Do you have anxiety about going to Disney?

This past weekend I had a booth at fitness expo in Allentown, Pennsylvania showcasing Disney Destinations.  The expo was for the St. Luke’s Marathon on Sunday, so those who signed up to run would come in and get their race bibs and shirts.  One of my independent contractors and I set up our booth, put on our glowing Minnie Mouse ears, and were ready to talk about all things Disney, and oh boy, did we talk Disney!  We talked about everything from runDisney events to Disney cruises, but in our conversations with other moms, there still seems to be this hesitation or anxiety about taking the kids to Disney. 

 

 

Disney should not be a vacation where anyone in the family has anxiety about going.  It is known as the “Happiest Place on Earth” but for some people it can turn into the “Worst Time of Their Lives.”  A lot goes into planning a Disney vacation, much more than planning a trip to Williamsburg or a cruise, but I am always telling people, you don’t have to do it alone!  We are here to help!

 

I want to share some of the comments that I heard this weekend because it may be some of the same hesitation that you have or someone you know may have in taking their family to Disney, and what my response was to these anxious moms.

 

1.)    Comment – “Disney is too expensive to take the whole family” 

 

Response – “There are several resorts on Disney property that can be costly but did you know that Disney actually has three resort categories to try and fit all budgets?  Maybe the first time you go you can try out a value resort which still offers many great amenities including pools and onsite eating.  When promotions come out we can easily apply them to your reservation so you can even save more money!”

 

2.)    Comment – “My kids are too young and they won’t remember it”

 

Response – “That is the best time to go!  If you have kids under the age of three their admission to the park is free and they don’t have to be on a dining plan!  If your kids watch Disney Junior and know who Sofia the First, Jake, or even the characters from Mickey Mouse’s clubhouse then they are going to have a blast.  The first time I took my youngest was at 18 months and her face was so excited every time she met any of the characters, but mostly Sofia the First.  There are plenty of rides that have no height restrictions, and adding Memory Maker to your package allows you to get hundreds of pictures taken that when your child gets older they can see their toddler self with their favorite characters.”

 

 

3.)    Comment – “Too much to pack like car seats and strollers.”

 

Response – “Well let’s make sure you stay at one of the Disney resorts then so you can take advantage of the Magical Express where in the state of Florida on all buses and motorcoaches you don’t need car seats, so then you don’t have to bring them with you.  You don’t want to rent a stroller from Disney as it will cost you as much as a park ticket for the entire weeks, but we have two stroller rental companies that we recommend in Orlando who deliver the stroller right to the resort so when you check-in they bring it out to you and when you check-out you just give it back to the front desk so the company can pick it up at the resort.  No lugging strollers through the airport or packing in the car. 

 

4.)    Comment – “Food is expensive at Disney and so are the dining plans”

 

Response – “If your kids and you have specific snacks that you like I always recommend shipping them to the resort ahead of time.  Go to the post office and get a medium flat rate box that will cost you around $18 to ship.  Stuff the box with juices, snacks, Horizon individual milk containers, sun screen, etc.  My last trip I sent down two boxes of food, one was 20 pounds which would have cost me $45 to ship by regular mail but was $17.45 in a flat rate box.  I sent two boxes for under $40 and that left more room in my suitcase for clothes and shoes.  Now this may make me sound like a bad travel consultant, but I am not going to sell a dining plan to someone if they aren’t going to get their money’s worth!  If you plan on doing a lot of characters’ meals, and what I mean by a lot is around every other day, then the dining plan pays for itself.  At that point it is like you are paying for the table service and getting a quick service and snack for free every day.  And their quick service meals are a large amount of food!”

 

5.)    Comment – “I don’t know the best time of year to go”

 

Response – “That is why you call me!  There is a lot of historical data to show some of the best weeks to go to the parks without a large crowd of people, but let’s talk about how old your children are and when they are in and out of school.”

 

 

 

 

Disney is a great place to take the kids at any age.  Whether they are toddlers and are in love with Disney junior characters or are teenagers looking for something thrilling, Disney does have something for all ages.  So if you are on the fence about taking the kids on a Disney vacation, give me a call and we can talk about all the options that are available for you and your family.

 

Fill out the form below to get started planning your next European Vacation.  Looking for a motor coach tour, self-drive, or private tour, we can easily put together the perfect European vacation for you and your family’s needs. 

When you book your vacation with a member of the Life is Better Traveling Team, you are supporting local families and business.  Thank you to everyone who has supported us over the past 4 years, we have become an AMAZING travel agency due to your support!

 

Ready to Use Your Magic Bands?

Walt Disney created Disneyland so one could be in the past, present, and future all in one park while letting your imagination run wild.  He created what has become the most magical places on earth including Walt Disney World.  Since 1971 when the Magic Kingdom opened, Disney employees have tried to make sure that their guests have the best experiences possible.  However, with so many people wanting this experience and the increased popularity of a Disney vacation, overcrowded parks had become a problem.  Disney decided something had to change. They took a big risk and decided to incorporate new technology in this decision and came up with the idea for the Magicband, an all-inclusive wristband.  This was a huge risk has paid off nicely for Disney and goes perfectly with a quote Mr. Walt Disney has said “It’s kind of fun to do the impossible.”

 

What is a Magicband?  Magicbands are bracelets that you wear around your wrist and have a Radio Frequency Identifiable Device (RFID) in each band.  RFIDs are a great way to store information that can be quickly used later and by the end of this article you will see why they are a perfect way to get around the parks.  Let’s get back to exactly what the Disney Magicband is.  It is a bracelet or wristband with a RFID in it that contains all the information of your entire Disney reservations.  It will have which resort you are staying at, dining plan, Fastpasses, restaurant reservations, and of course your credit card information that is on file.  Now, having my credit card information on a device that is readable is a bit scary to me but when you check into the resort you must enter a unique four digit pin that is linked to your band.  Each person has a unique pin for their band.  You need this four digit pin to make any type of purchase on your band so if your band gets lost a person won’t be able to charge anything to your account.  The other great thing about the bands is that there are no identifiable markers on the outside to let someone know which resort you are staying at.  You may have your first name engraved on the back of the wristband so if your party is large and multiple people have the same color wristbands, you know which belongs to whom.  Also, if you lose your band you simply go to guest services and they quickly deactivate it for you.

 

How do you get a wristband and where do you use it?   For anyone who is staying on Disney property you will get a wristband.  In your My Disney Experience you will have the opportunity to select colors for each member of your party and any names you would like to have engraved on the inner part of the band.  The bands are simple in construction with a Mickey Mouse head imprinted on the top.  If you don’t like your jewelry simple, like me, don’t worry, you can add bling.  Small trinkets are available for purchase at several stores on Disney property.   Now, your wristbands will be mailed to your house or you will receive them at time of check in at the resort.  Once the band is on your wrist it is now the key to your room.   Simply place the Mickey Mouse on the wristband to the Mickey Mouse on the door knob, and you are in your room.  When you are ready to enter the parks you will place the Mickey Mouse on the wristband to the Mickey Mouse on the entrance pole and place your finger on the reader and you are in.  When you are ready to get your check after dining or check out at quick service, simply place the Mickey Mouse against the reader, enter your four digit pin, and everything is paid.  When your Fastpass time has arrived, simply place the Mickey Mouse against the Mickey Mouse FastPass pole and enter the ride.  I think we have a pattern going here: simply place the Mickey Mouse on your wristband to the reader and you are in!

The wristband has revolutionized how easy it has made families to plan their vacation and get around the parks.  You don’t have a room key, a park ticket, a FastPass ticket, and a Disney voucher to carry around anymore.  It is all now on your wrist.  The band is waterproof so if you go to the pool or one of the water parks you don’t have to worry about getting it wet.  It is a bit difficult to get on and off so they recommend that you keep it on for the length of your stay. 

 

Now comes the question of how does all that information get onto the band?  I briefly discussed the My Disney Experience application for choosing your color bands and what you want engraved on the inside. The My Disney Experience application can easily download this onto any phone from the Android or Apple store or by using your computer going to MYDISNEYEXPERIENCE.com.  Once you have made your reservation, make an account here and put in your reservation number.  All of your information will show up including where you are staying, dining information, park tickets, etc.  Set up your profiles for those traveling in your party and you can make yourself a fun Disney character, I am personally Goofy.   You can link tickets to each person accordingly especially if you are going to a special event tickets.  Once you have the profiles set up you can look at the restaurants that are available all over Disney.  On the 180th day from the start of your reservation you can start making dining reservations and linking them to each person.  Once you hit the 60 day mark you can start adding FastPasses to each person to ensure you get on the rides you want at the times you want.   You can add Memory Maker and link that to one person, preferably the ring leader.  All of this information is going to be right on your Magicband.    

 

Now once you get home, that information is still in your My Disney Experience and you can also look at your pictures.  The great thing about the Magicbands is that you can reuse them if you would like or you can always order new ones for your next Disney vacation.  I have to say that, I really enjoyed my experience with the Magicbands and I hope that you have or will too.

On a side note.  Our agency now offers day by day planning for those who do not want to or have the time to plan their entire Disney experience.  We have put together itineraries to fit all families and we will even put together your my Disney experience.  We do charge an extra fee for this service but this will alleviate even more of your stress of planning an amazing Disney experience.

 

Have a Great Week!

Fill out the form below to get started planning your next European Vacation.  Looking for a motor coach tour, self-drive, or private tour, we can easily put together the perfect European vacation for you and your family’s needs. 

When you book your vacation with a member of the Life is Better Traveling Team, you are supporting local families and business.  Thank you to everyone who has supported us over the past 4 years, we have become an AMAZING travel agency due to your support!

Less Stress Disney Planning

Disney is one of the most magical experiences a person can have in their lifetime.  We all grew up watching Disney movies, wearing Disney paraphernalia, buying Disney toys, and some of us have even had the ultimate Disney experience by going to the parks.  As we get older we still have a place in our hearts for the joy and happiness that Disney has brought to us over the years, and now it is time we pass that excitement onto our children or grandchildren.  We think about taking them to Walt Disney World in Florida to hear their laughter and see their smiles as they ride the rides, eat giant turkey legs, and meet their favorite Disney characters.  Unfortunately, for most people a rush of anxiety hits almost immediately after all these wonderful thoughts.  The anxiety of how much will the trip cost, how am I going to entertain them for a week, which parks should we do, where to eat, dining plan or no dining plan, etc.  Yikes!  The amount of questions that floods one’s head is way too overwhelming that most people decide not to plan a Disney experience or put if off for a while.

Eventually, one has to start planning a Disney experience for the kids.  My advice is to jump in with both feet because I am here to tell you how to make it less stressful.  Yes, less stressful because there is no way to take all the stress out of planning a Disney experience for the family.  However, you can make it less stressful and enjoy the vacation as much as the kids will.

Like any vacation you should definitely start early.  Disney has a lot of properties, restaurants, parks, and experiences and if you don’t start early you could miss out on some spectacular offerings.  For example, most people start a year or 18 months in advance once they have figured out when they want to go.  The best place to start is to pick which resort you would like to stay at.  There are so many great resorts that will cover all of your family’s needs including: budget, pools, themed rooms such as the Princess themed rooms, or great restaurants right in the resort.  Once you have narrowed down your choices of which resort to stay at, you are a quarter of the way done with the planning.

Next, people consider how many days they want to go to the parks.  Most people stay 7 nights or 8 days so I always recommend a 7 day park pass.  This way if your flight gets there early on day 1 you can hit the parks, especially the Magic Kingdom since it is open late, sometimes 1am.  Even though you are staying on Disney property you don’t have to do just Disney.  Universal Studios and Sea World are close by and on a rainy day the Crayola Experience is a great way to keep the kids occupied.  However, you would need to rent a car, book a service, or call a taxi cab.  Once you have considered which parks you want to do you are now another quarter of the way done!

 

Let’s talk about dining.  In the good old days you used to be able to go into any Disney restaurant and get a table.  Things have really changed when it comes to dining at Disney.  You can start making reservations for your dining 180 days prior to your first day of arrival and for an additional 10 days of stay.  Some restaurants are so popular that you if you don’t call at midnight on the 180 day you may not get a reservation.  Getting tables for larger parties is even harder so picking where you want to eat and making those reservations close to the 180 days will surly get you a table.  When it comes to dining you also have to consider whether or not you want to add a dining plan to your reservation, which can only be done if staying on property.  The Disney dining plan is great if you plan to do a lot of nice sit down meals or character meet and eats, as these are costly.   The dining plan also helps if you don’t want to constantly be pulling your credit card out of your pocket.  It is already paid for, but make sure to understand how many meals are included with your plan.  If you miss a meal you will not receive a refund.   If you plan on doing a long weekend in Disney then I would not recommend using the dining plan.  Once you have figured out where to eat and if you want to add the dining plan you done with another quarter of the planning.  75% of your Disney vacation is planned!

 

The last part of your Disney planning experience is your day by day itinerary.  If you have never been to Disney before this can be quite a challenge.  There are so many great rides and shows to see in each park but it is impossible to get to do half of them in a day, especially when there are long lines.  When planning this part you want to plan with the family.  Let your family tell you want they want to do.  This way you can incorporate one thing from each family member into the day and everyone is happy.  Once you have an idea of the itinerary don’t forget to get on your My Disney Experience 60 days prior and reserve your FastPasses for those rides.

Great!  You are pretty much done now.  You only have to show up and enjoy your time at Disney.  One thing to remember is that sometimes thing don’t go as planned but that is ok.  There will always be something else to do.  The kids will not be disappointed by their Disney experience at all and will be talking about all the great memories for weeks after the vacation.

 

 

On a side note.  Our agency now offers day by day planning for those who do not want to or have the time to plan their entire Disney experience.  We have put together itineraries to fit all families and we will even put together your my Disney experience.  We do charge an extra fee for this service but this will elevate even more of your stress of planning an amazing Disney experience.

 


Fill out the form below to get started planning your next European Vacation.  Looking for a motor coach tour, self-drive, or private tour, we can easily put together the perfect European vacation for you and your family’s needs. 

When you book your vacation with a member of the Life is Better Traveling Team, you are supporting local families and business.  Thank you to everyone who has supported us over the past 4 years, we have become an AMAZING travel agency due to your support!

 

Which Disney Resort is Right for Your Family?

Choosing a Walt Disney World resort is like car shopping.  There are over 20 various resorts to choose from in three different budget-class categories. What this leaves you with is a stressful decision that leaves you covering your eyes and randomly picking a resort.  I am here to tell you the secret of choosing the right resort for you and your family. 

First I want to tell you why you should stay at a Walt Disney World resort.  Convenience, amenities, dining, and your sanity.  Let’s start off with convenience, which includes saving time too.  It starts as soon as you land since you have access to Magical Express, Disney’s shuttle bus to and from the Orlando International airport.  You don’t have to worry about renting a car, an added expense, and you don’t have to worry about your checked luggage.  Special luggage tags provided by Disney are simply placed onto your checked luggage by you before you leave for Orlando.  Once in Orlando, the luggage is taken by Disney employees and it is delivered to your room later that day.  Once you and your family have deplaned, you simply follow the signs for the Magical Express, swipe your Magicband at one of their kiosks and get the bus which goes to your resort. Another convenience is that resorts are in close proximity to the parks and some resorts are even within walking distance to the parks.  This saves you time and money on a rental car and parking.  Friendly staff!  This one sounds a bit strange, but personal experience has taught me that I always encounter the friendliest staff when I stay at a Disney resort, even at eleven o’clock at night when I just returned to the hotel and starving!  Early bird FastPasses.  Did you know that when you stay on property you can reserve your FastPasses 60 days prior to your check-in date?  This helps you get ahead of the game and reserve FastPasses for some of those hard to get FastPasses such as the Meet and Greet with Elsa and Anna or Toy Story Mania!  When you stay off property you have to wait until 30 days prior to arrival to make your FastPass selections.

Resort amenities in Disney are like no other.  Did you know that three of Disney’s resorts have themed rooms?  Caribbean Beach has pirate themed rooms where the beds are shaped like pirate ships, and the Disney’s Port Orleans Riverside resort has Royal Guest rooms where the back boards display fireworks at the push of a button.  Art of Animation has four different themed rooms, three of which are suites sleeping up to six adults.  Each resort has at least one themed pool with some of the most elaborate water slides I have ever seen.  Complimentary Wi-Fi, extended theme park hours, and laundry service are just a few other benefits of staying at one of the Disney properties.

No matter if you are staying on property or down the street, when you visit the parks you inevitably end up eating.  Only those who are staying on property have the option to include one of the Disney Dining plans to their reservation.  I have written a whole article on whether or not the dining plan is worth the money, and it is!  Also, your dining plan is automatically linked to your Magicbands.  No credit cards needed.

Now some of you may be thinking that I should include Disney’s Magicbands as a perk for staying on property.  Well, the truth is that you don’t need to stay on property to have a Magicband.  There are specialty Magicbands that can be purchased and linked to your My Disney Experience account.  When you stay on property, part of your reservation is getting NEW Magicbands from the array of colors available.

So now that you have all the AMAZING reasons why you should stay on property, here is the secret of knowing which resort is perfect for you and your family: BUDGET.  It really does come down to what you and family have budgeted for the trip.  There is a resort for every budge,t so make sure that you stay within that budget.  When a client comes to me and tells me their budget, my first follow-up question is does that budget include meals, souvenirs, and extras?  If you have set a budget and that is the maximum amount you can spend, then you need to consider these extra costs.  Estimate these costs then subtract them from your budget and this is the resort category where you and your family can stay.  Now you have now narrowed it down to a category.  Take a look at the resorts in your category and see what amenities each resort has and how it will benefit your family.

For example, for me and my family the room is just a place for us to sleep and get cleaned, so I am not worried if it is close to the pool or has a river view.  I am concerned with how large the resort is because the larger resorts have more bus stops which means buses get crowded during peak times to get to the parks.  I also like to have table service available at the resort in case the first night or last night we don’t want to stay in the park, we can still enjoy a sit down meal together.  These are just some of my personal preferences, but if you have not stayed at a Walt Disney World resort before then these are some questions you may not know to ask.  If you talk with a Disney Travel Consultant, like myself or any of my independent contractors, these are some questions that we will be sure to ask you.

So if you are thinking about taking a Walt Disney World vacation in 2018 or 2019, now you know how to choose the right resort for you but if you still need some help, don’t hesitate to call us.

Click Here to check out the Life is Better Traveling Team!

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Are the Disney Dining Plans Worth Your Money?

Disney easily comes up in conversations with random people I meet, but when they find out I am a travel consultant they always ask20160515_191819 me if the Disney Dining Plan is worth the money.  I have read so many different opinions on various Disney blogs, Facebook pages, and travel agent outlets about people’s views on this subject matter.  It seems like people are split, some love it and some say it is a waste of money.  Well, we recently went to Disney and I decided to add the Disney Dining Plan to our package so I could see if it is worth it. 

Before I go into if is it worth or not, I must explain that there are several dining plans available through Disney.  Because of the variety, I am wondering if those who feel that the Dining Plan is not worth the money may have been talked into the wrong Dining Plan for their family, see chart below for quick reference.  Why so many options?  It is easy to understand, there are many cultures and different types of families that go to Disney so they are really catering to everyone.  One family may say that a particular plan has too many meals for their family while another may say this is the perfect amount for us.  I will tell you, that no matter which plan you choose for your family, it will be perfect. 

For my family we choose the Disney Dining Plan which includes 1 quick service, 1 table service, and, new for 2017, 2 snacks per person per night of stay and 1 resort refillable mug.  The refillable mug can be used at your resort.  You cannot use this mug in the parks to get refills, but I will tell you that we did take our mugs along with us to the parks and asked for ice water, which is free.  We then transferred our ice water into the mugs.  With each table service meal, we were able to choose one entrée from the menu, one dessert, and one non-alcoholic beverage.  When you choose an entrée you are not limited to a select menu specifically for those on the dining plan.  You receive the same menu that everyone receives and get to choose any of the entrées including steak or salmon.  Dessert at Disney is fantastic!  It is gourmet and no matter what you choose it will not disappoint. 

However, having dessert every day could be a lot for some people, as it was for me.  There is a little known fact that isn’t shared by the wait staff, but some restaurants now allow you to substitute your dessert for an appetizer.  You have to ask your server when you sit down if this is one of the participating restaurants and which appetizers are included, but you may have an option of a salad instead of the that rich chocolate cake. 

Quick service meals are just like the combo meals that you get at any of your local fast food places, and snacks include a variety of foods including popcorn, cookies, cupcakes, a banana, or the famous Mickey Mouse ice cream bar. 

When you purchase a dining plan that has several table services with it, you must make your reservations in advance.  You can start to make your dining reservations up to 180 days prior to your arrival date for the entire length of your day, but not to exceed 10 days of stay.  What this really means is on the 179th day you can call to make your reservations.  I would recommend calling to make your reservations.  It is much faster and you will also be able to make any additional reservations such as Pirate’s League or any tours, all with one phone call.  If you don’t make a reservation in advance, you could be told that the restaurant is full for the day or you may have a two-hour wait.  A two-hour wait with hungry children is not fun for anyone!

So are you ready to find out if the dining plan is worth the money?  For a family of four going to Disney for seven nights, who elect the Disney Dining plan, it is a little over $1000.  (Now that is just for the Dining plan, not including park tickets or resort stay.)  For four people on this seven day Disney vacation, it comes to between $33 to $40 per person per day.   One character meal is around this same cost, so if you do one character meal you have paid for your entire day right there!  Even if you are doing non character meals, your meal cost with entrée, dessert, and non-alcoholic beverage can easily reach the $40 to $50 range per person.  When you look at the numbers you really see that you are paying for table service but getting a quick service meal and snack for free.  I, personally, find that the dining plan is worth the money and saves me time when we are there.  My meals are planned out, they are paid for, and everyone is happy because the food is so good. 

Now, one thing you must know is that tip/gratuity is not included.  The suggested tip is based on your total meal cost prior to deducting your plan.  It is up to you, how much you want to tip unless you are a party of six or more than 18% is automatically added to your bill.  When you receive your bill it will tell you how many of that service you have left.  So if you had six table services to start and just finished eating, then your bill will show that you have five remaining.  You can always get your entire amount of allotted meals from the concierge or guest services area at your hotel.  It is important to note that meals do not roll over after your stay.  If you don’t use them up you will lose them so I highly recommend planning out your meals for each day you are at Disney.  Also, the meals are to be used at your discretion.  If you want two table service meals on one day and two quick service meals another day, it is up to you how you use them, but again, use them up!

 

P.S. Call me this year to plan your AMAZING Disney vacation.  I always recommend to start planning your Walt Disney World vacation 8 to 12 months in advance so we can start planning everything out for you.     


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Which Disney Resort is Right for Your Family?

Which Disney Resort is Right for Your Family?
Here is my secret for picking the right Disney Resort…

Choosing a Walt Disney World resort is like car shopping.  There are over 20 various resorts to choose from in three different budget-class categories. What this leaves you with is a stressful decision that leaves you covering your eyes and randomly picking a resort.  I am here to tell you the secret of choosing the right resort for you and your family. 

First I want to tell you why you should stay at a Walt Disney World resort.  Convenience, amenities, dining, and your sanity.  Let’s start off with convenience, which includes saving time too.  It starts as soon as you land since you have access to Magical Express, Disney’s shuttle bus to and from the Orlando International airport.  You don’t have to worry about renting a car, an added expense, and you don’t have to worry about your checked luggage.  Special luggage tags provided by Disney are simply placed onto your checked luggage by you before you leave for Orlando.  Once in Orlando, the luggage is taken by Disney employees and it is delivered to your room later that day.  Once you and your family have deplaned, you simply follow the signs for the Magical Express, swipe your Magicband at one of their kiosks and get the bus which goes to your resort. Another convenience is that resorts are in close proximity to the parks and some resorts are even within walking distance to the parks.  This saves you time and money on a rental car and parking.  Friendly staff!  This one sounds a bit strange, but personal experience has taught me that I always encounter the friendliest staff when I stay at a Disney resort, even at eleven o’clock at night when I just returned to the hotel and starving!  Early bird FastPasses.  Did you know that when you stay on property you can reserve your FastPasses 60 days prior to your check-in date?  This helps you get ahead of the game and reserve FastPasses for some of those hard to get FastPasses such as the Meet and Greet with Elsa and Anna or Toy Story Mania!  When you stay off property you have to wait until 30 days prior to arrival to make your FastPass selections. 

Resort amenities in Disney are like no other.  Did you know that three of Disney’s resorts have themed rooms?  Caribbean Beach has pirate themed rooms where the beds are shaped like pirate ships, and the Disney’s Port Orleans Riverside resort has Royal Guest rooms where the back boards display fireworks at the push of a button.  Art of Animation has four different themed rooms, three of which are suites sleeping up to six adults.  Each resort has at least one themed pool with some of the most elaborate water slides I have ever seen.  Complimentary Wi-Fi, extended theme park hours, and laundry service are just a few other benefits of staying at one of the Disney properties. 

No matter if you are staying on property or down the street, when you visit the parks you inevitably end up eating.  Only those who are staying on property have the option to include one of the Disney Dining plans to their reservation.  I have written a whole article on whether or not the dining plan is worth the money, and it is!  Also, your dining plan is automatically linked to your Magicbands.  No credit cards needed.

Now some of you may be thinking that I should include Disney’s Magicbands as a perk for staying on property.  Well, the truth is that you don’t need to stay on property to have a Magicband.  There are specialty Magicbands that can be purchased and linked to your My Disney Experience account.  When you stay on property, part of your reservation is getting NEW Magicbands from the array of colors available.

So now that you have all the AMAZING reasons why you should stay on property, here is the secret of knowing which resort is perfect for you and your family: BUDGET.  It really does come down to what you and family have budgeted for the trip.  There is a resort for every budge,t so make sure that you stay within that budget.  When a client comes to me and tells me their budget, my first follow-up question is does that budget include meals, souvenirs, and extras?  If you have set a budget and that is the maximum amount you can spend, then you need to consider these extra costs.  Estimate these costs then subtract them from your budget and this is the resort category where you and your family can stay.  Now you have now narrowed it down to a category.  Take a look at the resorts in your category and see what amenities each resort has and how it will benefit your family. 

For example, for me and my family the room is just a place for us to sleep and get cleaned, so I am not worried if it is close to the pool or has a river view.  I am concerned with how large the resort is because the larger resorts have more bus stops which means buses get crowded during peak times to get to the parks.  I also like to have table service available at the resort in case the first night or last night we don’t want to stay in the park, we can still enjoy a sit down meal together.  These are just some of my personal preferences, but if you have not stayed at a Walt Disney World resort before then these are some questions you may not know to ask.  If you talk with a Disney Travel Consultant, like myself or any of my independent contractors, these are some questions that we will be sure to ask you. 

So if you are thinking about taking a Walt Disney World vacation in 2016 or 2017, now you know how to choose the right resort for you but if you still need some help, don’t hesitate to call us.

Click Here to check out the Life is Better Traveling Team!

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Congratulations to Mary! 

She recently earned the distinguished Certified Travel Associate (CTA) designation from the Travel Institute, the travel industry’s oldest education organization.  She completed a comprehensive exam-based training program that demonstrates extensive industry knowledge and experience, and she must continue to fulfill stringent education credit requirements each year. 

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Have a Great Week!

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