Tuesday, December 6, 2011
One of the biggest mistakes I see with Disney vacation travelers is the lack of planning. A little planning can go a long way to ensure that you have a magical vacation!
The best use of your time to ensure you trip starts out well is to choose your hotel wisely. There is a raging debate between the “On-Site” and “Off-Site” crowds, and honestly there is no one right answer for everyone. One of my favorite articles on this subject was written by my colleague Keith … check it out … The Many Splendors of Disney Hotels
Disney offers a resort for every family – for those on a budget, all the way up to those spending the trip of a lifetime at the resort. Knowing what your family needs – and wants – in a resort will help you choose the best one for your family. Do you want an amazing pool with a themed water slide? How about signature dining opportunities? A kid-friendly paradise? Or just a place to crash after an exhausting day at the park? Disney has just what you need!
Not only are there great sites like MouseBuzz to help you out … many of the Disney resorts have Unofficial Fan Pages. My personal favorite is Tikiman’s Polynesian Site – check it out at TikiMan Pages.
Spending just a few minutes to be sure of your resort choice will pay off when you arrive at Walt Disney World!
Monday, November 21, 2011
Do you have a family member on the Autism spectrum? Disorders considered as “autistic” include not only classic Autism, but Asperger’s, some forms of ADD, and PDD-NOS (pervasive developmental disorder, not otherwise specified). These disabilities can wreak havoc on an otherwise magical vacation if not properly planned for. My stepdaughter is a recently diagnosed “Aspie” with inattentive-type ADD. And if that wasn’t enough … she also has moderate binaural hearing loss. These different-abilities certainly made us think carefully when planning our most recent trip to Disney World.
Luckily, Disney does an amazing job of accommodating those with all sorts of disabilities. The stimulating and inclusive environment allows children of all ages to enjoy a magical vacation. However, if you are not careful, the stimulation may lead to a “meltdown”. Here are some of my tried-and-true meltdown-avoiding tips:
- Have a plan. Booking your vacation with a travel agent that understands your needs is important. He or she can assist you with finding the right resort for your family, dining reservations, and touring plan suggestions. Know your family’s needs, don’t be afraid to share them, and be an advocate for them.
- Know your family. What are the “triggers” that you face? Waiting in lines? Being hot? Too much sun? Not enough to eat? Understand what can cause drama, and avoid it. Having a solid touring plan will really make a huge difference – you don’t have to be militant about your day, but knowing what to ride and when will make a difference.
- Get a GAC. Disney is very accommodating to those with different-abilities, and has ways to make the experience better for those with special needs. This is done by issuing a GAC, or Guest Assistance Card. These cards are not meant to replace a good touring plan or the Fastpass system, but they’re meant to make the visit more enjoyable for everyone involved. My next article will explain the GAC in more detail.
Sunday, November 20, 2011
As I mentioned before, I'm now an Authorized Disney Vacation Planner. This has kept me VERY busy, but in a good way. I never realized just how much I enjoyed making dreams come true. :)
And now, I have another amazing project.
I'm a guest blogger on MouseBuzz.
I've added the posts to my blog below, and will continue to do so each time I post a new article.
Love and pixie dust to all!
Monday, November 7, 2011
On my family’s most recent trip to Walt Disney World, we chose the Deluxe Dining Plan. To make the most of this experience, we chose a few Signature meals.
Signature meals are among Disney’s most delicious – and expensive – options. In fact, for the Plus Dining and Deluxe Dining plans, two table service credits are required to “pay” for your meal. It does seem a bit steep, but in many cases, they are very much worth the expense.
|Photo courtesy of Alex4981 on Flickr|
Now, I wouldn’t advise anyone that’s averse to meat to go to Yachtsman … because thick, juicy, delicious steaks are their calling card. Quite possibly, Yachtsman cooked up the best steak I’ve ever had. My husband and I are “foodies”, so that’s saying a lot.
Upon arrival, we checked in at the hostess stand. Our table wasn’t quite ready, so we were shown into the Crew’s Cup Lounge. This full bar offered not only the typical bar seating, but several comfortable booth-and-table setups. They also had several flat-screen TVs on the walls for your viewing pleasure.
Our table was ready quickly, and we were escorted to the dining room. There are several “rooms”, with many tables. There was a mix of family tables as well as those clearly on a kid-free night out.
|Photo courtesy of Dilbertian on Flickr|
Now that we’re back home, we are still talking about our delicious meal at Yachtsman. It was one of the culinary highlights of our vacation. I highly recommend making reservations at Yachtsman Steakhouse if you have the opportunity – it was delicious!
Tuesday, October 25, 2011
One of the most overlooked opportunities for making memories on your Disney vacation is to spend time exploring your resort.
At every price point, your Disney resort offers great opportunities for family time. Many people miss what’s offered right outside your hotel room door, in an effort to spend every waking moment at the parks. Of course, going to the park is the main reason you visit Walt Disney World. But you can really miss out on some amazing memories if you don’t take the chance to stop and enjoy your resort.
In your travel documents, there is more to see than just your luggage tags. Really! There are some great discounts available in that package, and few people actually put them to use. I recently stayed at Disney’s Polynesian Resort – my “home away from home”. And rather than plan day after day at the parks, I made sure that we had plenty of down time to put those discount coupons to use. And boy, am I glad that I did!
One of the discounts we used was the coupon for the water sports. We chose to use our coupon on the Sea Raycers, also known as “Water Mice”. These adorable two-seater mini-speedboats can be rented by the half-hour or hour, and piloted out on the Seven Seas Lagoon or Bay Lake. My daughter (9 years old) and I were in one boat, and my husband took his 11-year-old daughter in the other with him. We put the 9.9 horsepower motors on the boats to work as we zoomed around the Lagoon. We didn’t really time our trip, but we spent a half-hour on the open water. The cost was quite reasonable, especially with the 15% discount voucher. Both girls really enjoyed the excursion, and they both asked to do it again. I’d say that was a “win”.
Another discount we used was the arcade discount. My family is “that family” … we often have wars over the Galaga machine at arcades, and we weren’t disappointed with the selection of fun games at the Polynesian’s arcade. Granted, the discount coupon in the book wasn’t of much value (100 points was only four rounds of Galaga), but it was still a free bit of gaming. And we wouldn’t really have sought out the arcade otherwise.
Have you ever considered having an adults-only dinner while at Walt Disney World? There is a discount coupon for the Child Activity Centers (also known as “child care”) in your documents as well. My girls were guests of the Neverland Club while my husband and I enjoyed a delicious and romantic dinner at Narcoossee’s. The price for competent and safe child care while at Disney was excellent, and the discount voucher made it an even better value. My girls had such a great time at the Club that they asked to go back a second time. As a result, my husband and I had a second delicious and amazing dinner at Yachtsman Steakhouse. I can highly recommend this service, because the kids have as much fun as the adults do.
Finally, another often-missed opportunity for family fun is the nightly movie held at most resorts. Many of the resorts have a large inflatable movie screen, and if your resort has a beach, it can often be found there at night. Check out the Resort Guide given to you at check-in for times and movie selections. It’s a great chance to grab a snack at the counter service location on-site (or an adult beverage for the grown ups), and watch a great movie with your family to end the day.
I hope that I’ve given your family some new things to try while at Walt Disney World … and some new ways to Let The Memories Begin!
Sunday, September 4, 2011
Sunday, August 14, 2011
I have plenty of posts in the hopper for everyone. I'd like to share a bit of my wisdom that I've shared on Second Wives Cafe with everyone ... it's called my Disney 101 series.
As a sponsor of SWC, I have spent a good deal of time typing up some basic Disney info for everyone. I'll be pleased to share it here too ... just you wait.
Thursday, August 11, 2011
Saturday, July 16, 2011
Props where they're due ... this post was inspired by my friend TinkerKell and her mention of the Test Track rumor.
Here's some current rumors, and my knowledge about their status.
Rumor: Disney will be controlling their drink fountains and refillable mugs. No more re-using your old mugs.
As discussed on just about every Disney site and blog earlier this week, the heyday of free soda for all is just about over. Disney is currently testing RFID-enhanced mugs at All Star Sports Resort. This process has a long push-handle under the soda dispenser, and an RFID chip in the refillable mug. It dispenses soda ONLY if a mug or cup purchased at an appropriate time is used.
This is both a blessing and a curse. For those of us hardcore rule abiders, I say GOOD. If I'm paying $15 for another mug every time I go, then everyone should. No more of this soda theft!
Rumor: The monorails will not work anymore. They're closing.
Status: NOT EXACTLY.
Disney has announced on their official blog that monorails will now stop running one hour after regular park closing. This means that if you are an extra magic hours type of person ... you'll have to take a bus, or a boat, or some other means of transportation back to your resort. There is much debate about the rationale for this move ... some say it's cost cutting, some say it's maintenance ... but the bottom line is that you'll need to carefully plan transportation if you're staying after EMH.
Rumor: Brazil will be the next country added to Epcot's World Showcase.
Disney has always had a pretty cozy relationship with the (in)famous Brazilian Tour Groups. Whether you've been around them, seen them in line around you, or have run the other way when you hear them cheering ... they're a factor at Disney. Brazilian culture is complex, beautiful, and FUN. So this makes a great addition to the WS, if they do it.
Watch the D23 Expo ... I bet you'll see some big reveals!
Sunday, July 10, 2011
Friday, July 1, 2011
Wednesday, June 29, 2011
Friday, June 17, 2011
AND THEN, this morning? My friend Kristen over at Cooking With Mickey managed to get her hands on the menu for my two most anticipated Food and Wine Festival booths ... Hawaii and Caribbean. To say that I SQUEE'd when I read that post is an understatement. Seriously - Dragon Berry Colada? Tuna Poke? Lotus Root Chips? The foodie in me is rejoicing! And even better - The Panda will be with me to shepherd the kiddies around and to ensure that I ride the Tron-O-Rail back to the right resort. ***hiccup***
And then ... it gets better. Disney has now released the rooms and suites at Disney's Art of Animation Resort for booking, starting October 4, 2012. AND, you can start booking the new Royal Suites at Disney's Port Orleans Riverside Resort during January, 2012.
Seriously. I might explode from all the mousey fabulousness that abounds today.
Tuesday, June 14, 2011
You can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org for all of your Disney travel needs. I can't wait to help make your next trip a magical memory!
Also ... see that handy-dandy little box over there that says "Get Emails From LuvsTheMouse"? Yeah. Put your email in the hole, and get an email update from me every month ... chock full of Disney tips, discounts, and hot deals. I promise to keep your address secret and will NEVER EVER sell it or share it with anyone. Pinky swear.
Hope to hear from you soon! I can't wait to share all of this excitement with you.
Monday, June 13, 2011
But she's been asking "my-mommy, how many more days till MICKEY WAFFLES?"
Thursday, June 9, 2011
For all you nerdy-girls (and boys) out there ... check it out. Here are my QR codes. One's for the blog, and one's for the Facebook page. :)
Saturday, June 4, 2011
And really ... I'm just a nerdy comic book girl underneath it all. So there's that.
Anyhow, I simply adore the "X-Men" franchise. Now, I know that some fanboys (and girls) have gotten rather salty that the movies aren't true to the comic books. But I think that the movies are good, and well done. And I certainly wouldn't throw Hugh Jackman out of bed for eating crackers.
My Panda and I are kid-free until Tuesday (my daughter's with her dad's family, and my stepdaughter's with my dad and his fabulous wife). So we judiciously used our "freedom" to go see "X-Men: First Class" on Friday night. Now, we rarely venture into the theater on opening day. But for this movie, I was willing to make an exception. And I was NOT disappointed.
Aside from a great (and profanely hilarious) cameo from Wolverine himself, a few more of favorite actors were in the movie. Edi Gathegi (also known as the fabulously creepy nomadic vampire Laurent from Twilight / New Moon), James McEvoy (one of my tasty crushes), and January Jones were all present. And of course, I was really excited to see Jennifer Lawrence - she's slated to play Katniss Everdeen in the Hunger Games movie!
At any rate, if you are looking for a good movie - not just a good ACTION movie, but a good all-around movie - go see X-Men: First Class. The plot was great, the acting was great ... and of course, any excuse to see Kevin Bacon play a villain is welcome.
Tuesday, May 31, 2011
I'm getting together my "launch" plan for the travel agency. I have a lot of great things planned, so make sure that you "LIKE" me on Facebook. Click the image below to be taken there ...
Sunday, May 22, 2011
Between the ability to pick up and scrap whenever I had a free five minutes, and the "gentle nudging" by the nice folks at MouseScrappers ... I'm now about 90% done with our 2010 book. I am really looking forward to working on my 2009 book now, too.
The photo in this post is my favorite page from the 2010 book. If you'd like to see the rest of my work, check out my gallery on MouseScrappers.
Friday, May 13, 2011
Now, I'm what the natives might call a "couch potato". I don't like running. I never have. I likely never will. My former cheerleading coach used to make me run steps and laps when I sassed her.
At any rate, I'm just not a fan of running. Maybe I'm lazy, maybe I'm old, or maybe I just have a raging case of cheerleading PTSD. It's no matter ... I know many of my friends ARE though, hence my desire to share the love with y'all.
Did you know that Disney sponsors several race events each year? From the fun and funky "Princess Half Marathon" (where most of the participants wear shiny things and tutus ... and not just the girls) to the full-blown Disney Marathon ... there's a little something for everyone. And the best part? The race courses wind through the iconic parks of Walt Disney World! Can you imagine running with the wind, through an empty Magic Kingdom? What about running through a closed Animal Kingdom? I think that would be fun.
And each person that completes the race received a medal ... lovingly referred to as "Disney Bling" by the TGM peeps. I've seen some of these medals, and they're GORGEOUS.
But, although I'm a self-described lover of shiny things ... I'm just not sure that it's enough to make me go back to running. After all - I'm a grown adult now and can be just as sassy as I please.
Monday, May 9, 2011
I've fallen in love with digital scrapbooking. Seriously, this stuff is AWESOME. I've created some wonderful pages, with the help of my friend Arlette and the peeps at MouseScrappers.
Head on over and look at my gallery on my Facebook page, and why don't you like said page while you're there? :)
Thursday, April 28, 2011
Values get the Quick Service plan (all counter service places), and Moderates / Deluxes / Deluxe Villas get the regular Dining Plan. No suites are included in this (except the All-Star Family Suites). You also must pre-purchase a PhotoPass CD to get this price ($100).
- You must book at least a three night stay, and your stay cannot be longer than 14 nights
- You must include at least a two day Magic Your Way base ticket
- You must pay your $200 per room deposit at time of booking, you cannot “hold” a reservation
Ordinarily, I would just zip my lips and be happy with what I'm offered. But this time, I don't have to. Why, you ask? Because this doesn't apply to us. We arrive on September 28.
I'm not a big fan of this offering. I know that Disney has said that they're going to "wean the public off of discounts". Well, that's all fine and dandy, except for the fact that air prices have went up considerably. And I don't know about you ... but gas is $4.16 here in Columbus, Ohio (which means I pay $4.36 or higher since I have to put premium in my car). Not exactly a good time to start eliminating discounts.
Not to mention that, for a family of four like mine (three Disney adults and one Disney kid), the addition of the PhotoPass CD reduces the savings from $900 to $800. Actually, for my family, it adds about $75 to our tab because I always participate (usually lead) a PhotoPass share. Our own CD isn't something we'd have bought, so that's an added expense. And all this whining is for absolute NAUGHT, since the dates don't include ours anyhow. :)
I'll be interested to see how this one pans out for Disney. I don't know that it'll be as big of a deal as it historically has been, and I think requiring the PhotoPass purchase is an interesting twist on the "value added" concept.
Friday, April 8, 2011
Adding to Lynn's list, I'd like to add a few of my own. Some are at no additional cost, and some are a bit extra. All, in my opinion, are worth the effort. And now, I'll share my ideas ... in no particular order.
That pre-rope-drop breakfast. This is one of my daughter's FAVORITE things. There's nothing quite like waltzing past the growing crowds at the gate to the Magic Kingdom, scanning through the turnstile, and dancing like idiots on an an empty Main Street USA. If you're there early enough, you'll even meet the Mayor!
The Wishes Dessert Party. Held on the Tomorrowland Terrace, the location is king (or queen) here. The desserts are good, and they are plentiful. But if you can spare the $25ish for adults and $15ish for the kiddies ... do this. It's an exhilarating feeling, just watching Tink fly right over your head. Plus, not having to waste valuable touring time to stake out a fireworks viewing spot? Worth every penny.
Resort Hopping. Very few people really truly appreciate the resorts around The Walt Disney World complex. Take some time out of your trip to walk through some of the other resorts. Now, don't go using their pool ... that's not allowed. I'm talking about walking around the grounds at the Grand Floridian to see the landscaping. Tour the beautiful French Quarter area of Port Orleans. Go over to Pop Century and have a meal in their food court ... it's the best one, I think.
Don't Just Ride ... Crawl. One of the best bits of advice I've gotten is to try a "crawl". Get on the monorail, and stop at every resort (Contemporary, Polynesian, Grand Floridian). Check out their bars, and try the signature drink at each. Just make sure that you have a safe way to get back to your room ... I can give you first-hand advice that the Lapu-Lapu is Hawaiian for "knocks you on your arse".
Until next time ... enjoy your day!
Wednesday, April 6, 2011
Monday, March 28, 2011
Although I'm a pro now and I can pretty much figure out what's what on my own, I still subscribe to TGM for the forums. The peeps are nice and hey ... Finchy's coming on Friday! Everyone loves Finchmas.
Anyhow, I found a new resource to help with the park planning, as a way to fill the gap left by Mike's tardiness. Check out EasyWDW. I've been nosing around there for a bit, and even compared their suggestions to the plan I've already laid out. And you know what? Their calendar was right on with my assessment. Again, I've got a pretty good handle on the whole "what park, what day" thing, based upon experience and understanding of crowd levels during my chosen travel time. However, I like to have an independent source give me the OK too ... sort of a Stuart Smalley Affirmation, if you will. Because I'm good enough, I'm smart enough, and doggone it ... people like me.
At any rate, check out EasyWDW. I'm LuvsTheMouse on their forums (shocker, right?). So far, I've lurked around a good bit and like what I see. The park calendars seem to be right on - not as detailed as Mike's, but in my opinion they're very very good.
Sunday, March 27, 2011
I am pleased to announce that I will be joining Mouseketrips as an Independent Travel Consultant. I begin my training in mid-May, and will be up and running by the first of June. I chose Mouseketrips because they are a family-friendly company with an amazing reputation. Further, they have a very similar customer service ideal as I ... responsive service, and "substance over pixie dust". They subscribe to the same concept as I ... the best trips to Disney are not merely magic occurrences. The best trips are carefully planned to ensure the best experience for the travelers.
I take great pleasure in helping plan trips for my friends and family - my love for Disney is amazing, and my OCD is legendary amongst my inner circle. I'm excited to "make" magic for everyone by helping them plan their trip ... and making their dreams into reality.
For now - make sure that you're following me on Twitter, and that you "friend" me on Facebook.
"C" ya real soon!
Tuesday, March 22, 2011
Check out the post at http://www.wdwfanzone.com/2011/03/ways-to-add-extra-pixie-dust/
Also, I will be making a fabulous announcement here on the blog (and on Facebook) within the next few weeks. Stay tuned ... I am really excited!
Wednesday, March 16, 2011
With me so far? Good. Because this can be a bit confusing, if you've never been Disney-crazy before. After all, what moron plans out what they're going to have for dinner, six months in advance? As my Maddie says ... "Who has two thumbs and has issues? THIS GIRL, RIGHT HERE!"
Saturday, March 5, 2011
Anyhow, I have a really great opportunity on the horizon. If you could give me a little pixie dust, dancin', or whatever "achieving the desired results" action you traditionally do ... I would appreciate the gesture.
Monday, February 7, 2011
So, after many weeks (months?) making fun of those folks that owned iPads, I finally bit the bullet. I am now the proud owner of a 32GB wi-fi model.
And the only thing I have to say about it is ... What took me so long to buy this?
Over the next few weeks, I'm going to attempt a few different blogging apps. I really like the iPad interface, and I really do miss writing about my favorite place on earth.
I wrote this post with an app called Monarch. So far, the only complaint i have is that the keyboard on the screen covers the bottom of the post Entry area, and there no scrolling mechanism. Fail.
If you have any suggestions for an iPad friendly blogger app, let me know.
Thursday, January 27, 2011
Anyhow, I'm occupying my time with working on a few new ventures, MBA work, and the usual ESPN rotation (save for tennis - that sucks).
Oh. And planning our next Disney trip.
I think that we're going to go back the same week as last year (September 28 - October 4). This is Wednesday - Tuesday, and for good reason. Airfare. Look at what Southwest charges, and when. The cheapest days to fly with them are Tuesday and Wednesday every week. If I stalk the sales, I can likely hit airfare for $59 each way, per person. Plus, leveraging the "off days" for Magical Express is perfect.
Another reason to choose that week - we can catch the Food and Wine Festival soft opening on September 30th. The booths are all open, and are serving the same food ... but with 100% less crowds. And of course, who can forget MNSSHP? It's quite possibly the perfect week.
Of course, I plan to go "home" to the Polynesian. My husband has always dreamt of staying at the Contemporary though ... I need to talk it over with him and see where he wants to stay. Both are similarly priced (we'd do Theme Park View Tower at the Contemporary versus Garden View at the Polynesian), but the reality is that I just love the Polynesian. Maybe a little aggressive negotiation is in the works?
Next time I write, I need to talk through a few things ... my thoughts on the water parks, Halloween costumes, and my stepdaughter's pending diagnosis.
Wednesday, January 26, 2011
Well, hello there. It sure has been a while. Sorry I haven't written much lately, but life has kinda happened. Between finishing my first MBA course with a 98.3%, Christmakwanzakkuh, New Year's, and a whole lot of other things ... life's been busy. But I realized one thing - I miss writing about my favorite place on the planet.
I'm getting ready to book my trip for 2011. Of course, we'll be staying at the Polynesian again in late September/early October. We get the best of both worlds, spanning months ... the annual Free Dining discount (allegedly, it hasn't been released yet), and the kickoff of the Food And Wine Festival.
And boy, do I like the Food And Wine Festival.