Friday, August 30, 2013

Dream to Cruise Disney

I've recently been doing a lot of research (i.e. training) about different cruise lines and cruise ships.  Like pretty much everything Disney does, they are amazing at selling their product.  That is why, even in a bad economy, their stocks rise consistently even while most other products flop.

The only cruise I have ever been on was a Royal Caribbean ship - the Navigator of the Seas.

An absolutely beautiful ship.  Inside and out - and we had an amazing balcony room - look how many there are!  It felt luxurious and decadent.  And, I was so seasick that I didn't want to do another cruise for a long time. 

But, now I've moved on.  And, Royal Caribbean has so many ships to choose from.  I've been amazed learning about their ships and all that they have to offer on board.  Lot of fantastic restaurants, ziplining, a carousel, Broadway shows (not just Broadway Quality... they've had Chicago, Fosse, etc...

They have become moving cities - the newest ships carry over 5000 guests.  It's insane/amazing

But, for me?  Disney Cruise Line intrigues me the most.  

With Disney-style stage shows created for the cruise ships, incredible restaurants, and Disney quality service, I want to go on a Disney Cruise ship more than any other.

Is a Disney Cruise Affordable?

Yes, they cost more up front than a Disney vacation.
But - basically everything is included and paid for up front.  Even with a Disney Dining Plan, you are likely to buy a drink or small snack somewhere.  On a Disney Cruise ship, you can eat for free 24 hours a day (and have free in-room service most of the day - there are surcharges if you order room service between midnight and 5 a.m.).

It is possible to get great deals on Disney Cruise Line voyages

Disney cruises start at $125 per person per day.  Remember - that is like your park ticket and your food and any extra entertainment all rolled up in to one.

Plus, there are occasionally last minute deals - especially for Florida Residents and Military.  Last minute travel for Disney Parks is rarely as affordable as last minute cruises!

 photos courtesy of Brenda from

Not convinced?

My friend Tami, from Colorado Mountain Mom hosted a friend's review of a Mediterranean Disney Cruise - it is basically my dream cruise, Pompeii and all! 

What Sets Disney Apart?

Like everything else that Disney does, they strive to be the best - best quality food, service, entertainment, rooms -
even interior rooms have "virtual" portholes so you can see outside the ship to avoid possible claustrophobia!

Another amazing fact?  Fireworks at Sea!

And, on Disney's own Private Island, Castaway Cay, there is a 5k every day!  That sounds like amazing fun to me (my husband might disagree!)

Interested in learning more?

Monday, August 26, 2013

Tiggerific Tuesday Trivia

Welcome back for more fantastic Disney Trivia!  Thanks again to Jodi from +Magical Mouse Schoolhouse, Heidi from +Heidi's Head, and +Mike Ellis for co-hosting!

Today (Monday, August 26th), I am celebrating my 6th wedding anniversary!  In honor of that, I wanted to share a little Disney Wedding Trivia!

Did you know:
The Walt Disney World Wedding Pavilion opened on July 15, 1995.  Including all Disney Parks and Cruise Lines, the Walt Disney Company has hosted over 30,000 weddings since 1991!

The Wedding Pavilion is located next to Disney's Grand Floridian Resort and Spa - it looks so perfect for a wedding to me!

Thanks for joining me!  Check out all of the other great trivia being offered this week!

Important Steps to Plan Your Vacation!

Going on a Walt Disney World can be overwhelming.  From where to stay, how to get around, and where to eat, there is a lot of planning to do!

When you book with WDW Guru Travel, you receive free itinerary planning!!

First Stages of Travel Planning

  • Schedule Your Trip.  Unsure how to choose?   Check out Touring Plans. Touring Plans crowd calenders are an amazing all-encompassing guide to crowd levels!

    • Avoiding crowds may help you do and see more in less time, however, if you visit in the very off season, you may see more limited hours than you would in the more crowded and hotter days of the summer.
    • Pick the right weeks - you may not realize when Memorial Day is or when Spring Break starts, but the crowds don't!  The crowd levels jump on 3 day weekends or whenever school may be out!
    • If you're not paying attention (it has happened to me!) you may end up in Hollywood Studios mid-day during Star Wars Weekends.  Don't expect to have much walking/breathing room!
    • Want to see Christmas Lights but not hit the crowds?  Head to the parks in early December!  The lights go up in November!

  • Choosing Which Park to Visit Daily
    • I again head to Touring Plans to help coordinate which days I will start in which park.  But, I have some different rules:
      • If there are morning extra magic hours, we generally take advantage of these - but if you aren't there for park opening, do not visit the park with morning extra magic hours!  These parks often get more crowded later in the day, so we might park hop to a different park after the first few hours
      •  Visiting the Magic Kingdom first may seem essential, but it also may make some of the other parks seem less exciting.  We usually start somewhere else and hop over or go in the 2nd day!
      • Scheduling park days makes it possible to plan for Advanced Dining Reservations

  • Scheduling Advanced Dining Reservations
    • Not sure what you want for dinner tonight?  That's my life.  But, at Walt Disney World, it's important to plan ahead - restaurants book up quickly and you may be left without somewhere to go!
    • Character meals and the big restaurants fill up often 180 days (often the same day reservations open up) out.  Plan where you want to eat so you can make your reservations 180 days out!
    • If you're using a Table Service Dining Plan, scheduling ADR's is imperative or you may be left with extra table service credits - talk about a waste of money!

  • Know Where to Go in the Parks
    • Each park has their "hot" spots.  Use the early time to hit the rides that will be crowded later on!
      • If you are starting at Rope Drop at the Magic Kingdom and heading to the lesser popular attractions, you're missing out!  At the Magic Kingdom, head to Peter Pan, Storytime with Belle, or one of the Mountains
      • At Epcot, the top attractions are Soarin' and Test Track
      • Hollywood Studios - head to Toy Story Midway Mania and/or the Jedi Training Academy
      • Animal Kingdom - it's all about the Safari.  Head there before the crowds arrive!
Planning ahead can save you time and money!  Make the most out of your vacation and make a schedule! 

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Doc McStuffins #DocMobile

Season Two of Doc McStuffins Premieres Friday, September 6 at 10 a.m.

Like so many other Disney shows, they are filling season 2 with guest starts including Geena Davis, Jeffrey Tambor, Tony Hale, Molly Shannon, Sutton Foster, Amy Sedaris, and Peter MacNicol! 

And, to celebrate the success of this fantastic show, Doc is hitting the road!!  The Doc Mobile, a 27-foot Airstream trailer custom-made to reach young kids (age 2-7) and families with fun and empowering experiences relating to health and nutrition will embark on a multi-city tour!

It started on Sunday, August 18 in Boston. 

Themed "So Much You Can Do…to Take Care of You!" the initiative is inspired by Disney Junior's acclaimed "Doc McStuffins," the animated series that models good health and compassion through stories of a young girl, a would-be doctor, who cares for her ailing stuffed animals and other toys. 

The Doc Mobile features an area for kids to perform a "check-up" on their own toys plus other activities and age-appropriate health and wellness lessons including nutrition and physical development and fitness.

Doc McStuffins will be on-hand to greet fans at select stops along The Doc Mobile tour route - including her stop in D.C.!

During the multi-city tour, kids and parents will also have the opportunity to meet real-life doctors from the Artemis Medical Society, an organization of more than 2500 female African-American physicians from around the world who formed their group after seeing a reflection of themselves in "Doc McStuffins." Recognizing the opportunity to further inspire young girls, the group serves to nurture, mentor and provide the foundation necessary to create a diverse physician workforce.

Fans are invited to follow The Doc Mobile tour route on Disney Junior's Facebook page and on Twitter at @DisneyJuniorUSA, #DocMobile. Scheduled tour dates are as follows:

Sunday, August 18: Boston, Massachusetts 
Franklin Park Zoo

Wednesday, August 21: New York, New York 10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.
Times Square Disney Store

Sunday, August 25: Chicago, Illinois
Navy Pier Gateway Park

Saturday, August 31 & Sunday, September 1: San Antonio, Texas 9:30 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Festival PEOPLE EN ESPAƑOL - Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center

Friday, September 6: Dallas/Fort-Worth, Texas
Fort Worth Museum of Science

Tuesday, September 10: New Orleans, Louisiana
Audubon Zoo

Saturday, September 14: Atlanta, Georgia
Centennial Olympic Park

Tuesday, September 17: Washington D.C.
*Location TBD

Thursday, September 26: Los Angeles, California
The Grove

Saturday, September 28: Phoenix, Arizona 7:30 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.
Arizona Coalition For Tomorrow Kids Health Fair - Salvation Army Community Center

Day job permitting, I will be covering the D.C. event with my 3 year old boy!!  Will you be attending?

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Yummi Pouch #StreetTeam Giveaway!!

Enter to win this amazing package of essential items every baby needs for play time, snack time and nap time!

Play, Snack and Nap Prize Package:

Total Value = $500+

Yummi Pouch - Reusable Food Pouches

Yummi Pouch reusable food pouches little munchkin set giveaway
Little Munchkin Set - Retail Price: $28.95
The Little Munchkin set has everything you need to get started with using Yummi Pouches! Yummi Pouch reusable food pouches are perfect for filling with homemade baby food, blended snacks, healthy smoothies, and more. Designed by a husband a wife team, Yummi Pouches are dishwasher and freezer safe, BPA-free, phthalate-free, easy to fill and clean through the wide zipper opening, and encourage healthy snacks for active kids! For more information visit
  • Set of 4 Yummi Pouch Brights reusable food pouches - hold up to 6oz each
  • 16oz filling funnel pitcher
  • 10 dishwasher safe name label stickers
  • 2 decorative dishwasher safe sticker sheets
  • 6 mixed color extra pouch caps

Gibout Toys

Gibout Toys
4 pack of blocks - Retail Price: $119.96
Winner can choose block designs.
Our deluxe version of a classic stacking toy features some of finest and softest, minky fabric you can find. At 11.5" each, they stack up as one of the largest plush blocks your children will get their little hands on. Whether you are looking for a unique addition to your nursery decor, or something your child will love to play with for years to come, these blocks have it all. They have won three toy awards and have been featured in celebrity nursery designer, Sherri Blum's, Gender Surprise nursery. Hand-made in the U.S.A. For more information visit

New Jammies

New Jammies
3 pairs of New Jammies - Retail Price $105
Winner can choose styles from online store.
New Jammies were created for you! There's a world in our dreams, pure and simple. It is a world where every child is happy and healthy. This is why we created New Jammies,100% pure, natural organic cotton pajamas. Bedtime is a precious time of day for children and we love that we can help make it a little better. Our super, soft cozy Jammies with colorful, playful images, send children off to dream each and every night. When they wake, we want it to be to a world that is cleaner, brighter, and more hopeful each day! Our dream: The happiest children you've ever seen! For more information visit

Milkin' Cookies

Milkin' Cookies
2 week supply of Milkin' Cookies - Retail Price: $21.99
Milkin' Cookies are delicious lactation cookies for nursing moms. They include healthy ingredients to boost breast milk production. We aim to provide delicious products to make a Mommy's life easier. For more information visit

Wristy Buddy

Wristy Buddy
Wristy Buddy teething wristband - Retail Price: $14.95
Winner can choose style from online store.
Wristy Buddy is a teething wristband designed for babies who haven't developed the motor skills to hold traditional teething devices. Wristy Buddy is made of absorbent materials to help keep little faces and clothing dry. Its various textures and colors engage and stimulate. It is easily accessible to your teething baby and is more sanitary than traditional teething objects. Wristy Buddy is machine washable and patent pending. For more information visit

Ah Goo Baby

Ah Goo Baby
ARK changing pad - Retail Price: $49.95
The Ark™ by Ah Goo Baby® is built around our luxurious, air-molded memory foam mattress that relieves pressure points to keep your baby relaxed during changings. It is made up of billions of high-density, elastic micro cushions. When the temperature-sensitive cells come in contact with the warm areas of your baby's body, they get softer and more pliable. In cooler areas, they stay firm. The cells will literally float to conform to your baby's tiny contours. The cells shift so your baby doesn't have to.
  • BPA-Free, Hypo-allergenic, and anti-microbial.
  • Perimeter zipper for easy removal.
  • Water-resistant, machine washable cover.
  • Includes safety strap for baby and fastening straps for child-proofing.
  • Sized 16 x 32 inch (40 x 80 cm) to fit most standard changing pads.
For more information visit


Dr. Suess Gift Basket
Basket contains two snack bags, a 9-month short-sleeved bodysuit, a 12-month pajama set, a receiving blanket and a 3-pack of SuperBibs.
Bumkins Finer Baby Products is dedicated to providing distinctively designed, quality, family-oriented merchandise. Bumkins believes that products can be both practical and attractive, and strives to provide visually appealing, value-driven merchandise to our loyal customers. For more information visit

Kinder Stuff

Kinder Stuff
Organic t-shirt - Retail Price: $32
Winner can choose style from online store.
We believe that every baby deserves the best we can create for them. That's why our clothes are made from the best and softest organic cotton we could find. These premium fabrics are then cut and sewn in selected factories that have a long tradition of craftsmanship. Our clothes are screen printed with non-toxic inks. All this helps us ensure that our products are of the highest quality and free of harmful chemicals and additives. Premium clothes should be more than just hip, they should also be unquestionably safe and eco-friendly. For more information visit


Dakota style poopsies in size 3-6 months - Retail Price: $32
A poopsies is an infant onesie made with a patented waterproof lining in the back that keeps blowouts from leaking through and ruining clothing. In addition to being made from the softest, most fashionable fabrics, poopsies' unique lining is waterproof, breathable, and machine washable. For more information visit

Wishy Life Buddies

Wishy Life Buddies
An Easter Tradition Book + Buddy - Retail Price: $30
'Wishy Life Buddies: An Easter Tradition' provides families with a sneaky, seasonal pal who gives treats, rewards and encouraging messages to well-behaved children during the Easter Season. Children bring their 'Buddy' to life by naming him and sprinkling him with Wishy Dust. The book includes 'Buddy' and seven empty eggs that are hidden and filled each day for a week leading up to Easter Sunday. Eggs can be filled with anything from stickers and treats to messages and small gifts, but bad behavior results in an empty, unhidden egg. 'Buddy' departs on Easter Sunday and promises to return the following year to watch after his new friends and family. For more information visit

Buttons Cloth Diapers

Buttons cloth diapers
Buttons Cloth Diaper Set - Retail Price: $54
3 covers and 6 daytime inserts (small or large)
Buttons Cloth Diapers were born at home. As a husband and wife team, we designed our diapers to be easy to use and affordable for everyone - the way it should be. We believe in keeping our lives simple, even when it comes to diapering.

Buttons Diapers feature soft, leak-proof, and durable diaper covers. The double-gussets around the legs keeps the mess in, so your little one can run, jump, climb, and sleep while your mind is at ease. Elastic at the back and tummy makes a custom fit. The durable snaps allow the covers to adjust to fit any baby (approximately 9-35 lbs.). And, they come in five adorable colors! For more information visit

Enter to Win this Fabulous Set of Prizes!

One Winner will be selected August 29th. Have fun and good luck!
Eat, Play and Nap Giveaway hosted by Yummi Pouch reusable food pouches
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, August 19, 2013

Tiggerific Tuesday Trivia

Welcome back for more fantastic Disney Trivia!  Thanks again to Jodi from +Magical Mouse Schoolhouse, Heidi from +Heidi's Head, and +Mike Ellis for co-hosting!

Did you know:
Walt Disney World's employee wardrobe consists of 1.8 million pieces.  Cast members wear 2,500 different "Costumes" - as they are members of the cast and not simply workers, they were costumes, not uniforms!

My favorite example (other than the Mouse himself) - the Dapper Dans!
To the right, they are decorated for the holidays and below, they are in their every day uniforms!

Thanks for joining me!  Check out all of the other great trivia being offered this week!

A Relaxing Day at Walt Disney World

It's hard for me to think it's even possible to have a relaxing day at Walt Disney World.  I am go-go-go.

In fact, my husband still tells people that his feet were bleeding after our first day in the parks.

I mean, we were tired after 12 hours in the MK, but not bleeding...

Relaxing at Walt Disney World

Say you want to take a day off from the parks - split up a 4 or 5 day ticket with a day "off."  What else can we do?

  • Spend the day at the pool/playground
    • Disney makes sure to have fantastically themed pools.  Most resorts even have multiple pools - usually one "loud" pool and other "quieter" pools.  Most also have pool bars.  Enjoy!
    • Many pools have playgrounds located nearby.  Let the kids wear themselves out playing in and out of the water
  • Resort Hop
    • Head over to the Monorail Loop and visit the Contemporary, Grand Floridian, and Polynesian Resorts all in one easy trip!
    • Head to Disney's Boardwalk to visit the Boardwalk/Boardwalk Inn, and Beach and Yacht Club Resorts!
  • Visit Downtown Disney 
    • Plan to spend a few hours - don't try to make this a full day (We've tried this.  Doesn't work unless you are planning to go to a movie, bowling, etc...)
    • Have a meal, shop for souvenirs, take a boat ride - there are plenty of free entertaining things to do!
  • Have a "special meal"
    • Consider saving your character meal until your day off - no rush, no worry about specific times, just a *hopefully* enjoyable experience!
    • Visit a "Signature" resort restaurant, or try a new restaurant you might have never considered - Sanaa and Jiko are a personally favorites!
Traveling with little ones prohibits me from adding "spa day" but, without those kids, head to the spa, go for a round of golf/mini golf, and maybe do a resort pub crawl!  The options are endless!

Friday, August 16, 2013

Trip Planning - How Far Out Should I Plan?

Planning a Disney Trip can be incredibly overwhelming.  Life can always get in the way and it can be very hard to settle on a time frame.

How Far in Advance Can I plan?

You can plan now for a trip in 20 years if you would like, but in all reality, you can only book 499 days in advance - and to do so, you must call the reservation line (or use your friendly travel agent).

Room rates will not be released, so you will not know your total price.

A booking can be saved by a deposit of one night at the current room rate.  Though you can pay for room and dining yet, you can buy your park tickets as far out as you can - prices will always go up, so buying in advance could save you some money in the future.  However, if a deal such as free dining requires you to buy park tickets as a part of your package to earn the free dining plan.  But, as your tickets won't expire until after they have been used, you can always store the ones you've purchased and save them for a later trip!

How Much Time Do I Need?

Not into long-term planning?  No problem.   But, realistically, if you want have the best chances to get all the ADR's you want, you need to book more than 180 days out.  Restaurants such as Be Our Guest (for dinner - lunch is a counter service which doesn't require an ADR), Cinderella's Royal Table, and experiences like the Bibbity Bobbity Boutique really do book up more than 180 days out.
Try the Grey Stuff, it's delicious!

If You Don't Want Big Name Restaurants

I've planned trips with as little as 3 weeks notice.  Even with low-middle crowd levels, with 3 weeks out, we were able to get a few dining reservations - my favorite - Kouzzina by Cat Cora - has always been an easy ADR to get (good - more for me!) as are most (but not all) resort restaurant.  

Some resorts may be booked as well, but if you are not as particular and simply want to go visit your happy place, it is possible to wing it. 

For the best possible experience

Research where you would like to eat or which experiences you would like to try to know if you need that available time.  You can absolutely have the trip of your dreams and not miss out on anything with enough planning!  I would say 180 days from travel is cutting it close if you want the most popular reservation!

How far out do you plan?  Do you count down until your 180 mark?

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Free Help - Perks of Using a Travel Agent

It may seem crazy, but as much as I love planning my own Disney trip, I use a travel agent to help book and plan my trip!

Why?  I can pick up the phone to call Disney myself or even book online - which I do for my Advanced Dining Reservations, but booking a room?  I'll leave that to the professionals!

The first time I used a Travel Agent, I found one on a major Disney website.   But, sadly, I got very little help.  I asked for prices of different moderate resorts and only received pricing for one.  When I asked for a room for my husband and me at a deluxe, we ended up with 2 queen beds.  Even though it was specifically mentioned that it was a romantic trip, we weren't given the option of a king bed.

Since my first experience with that not-so-good travel agency, I've had contact and used a few other fantastic agents - and reading their status updates and realized that I want to be a Travel Agent.

Why Use a Disney Travel Agent?

A travel agent - like the ones I've been working with (and training to become) is a free resource for a traveler.  There is a good amount of training to do plus I know a lot of people doing their "research" - learning about the different resorts so you don't have to!

Curious about the different resorts? Read my beginners guide here.

A travel agent will be the one booking your room(s), figuring out the different pricings between resorts, views, and all of the options.  They can make sure your tickets and dining are attached to your reservation, find the best deals for you, and if you book before the discounts are announced, the travel agent - not you will have the discounts applied as soon as possible to help you save money (if possible - discounts are never guaranteed!).  

Other Perks of Using a Travel Agent:

Okay, these perks can't be guaranteed - but often times, you will find that a travel agent has a special promotion going on - maybe a gift card related to the amount total of your vacation package, maybe on board credit if you're going on a cruise, or maybe even an extra day in the parks (now thru the end of the month thru Guru Travel!)

Plus, travel agents can keep you up to date on attraction closures, park hours, book your dining reservations, and so much more!

How is a Travel Agent Paid?

Like I said - the best Disney Travel Agents are free to the client.  They (soon to be we... weeee!) are paid on commision by Disney - not by you.  The prices are exactly the same prices you can find online or by calling but you don't have to sit on hold.  Plus, you have someone to ask questions to and make sure everything is perfect for your magical trip! 

Why am I training to be a Travel Agent?

I find myself constantly talking Disney.  Aside from blogging and everything that goes along with it, people are constantly asking where to stay, where to eat - I have been planning trips other than my own for years.  I is FUN for me!  So, I'm still training and not ready to start helping you, but soon enough I'll be available to book!  I'm excited - hope you'll remember me when you start planning your next trip!
And, did I mention this service is free?

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

If I Had a Crystal Ball...

By: Rebecca Farrell (@RMZFarrell)

Hello, reader…it’s been a while since you’ve heard from me. I promise that I have a very good excuse! In early July, my husband and I relocated from northern New Jersey and our jobs in New York City to Atlanta, Georgia. So in the flurry of getting ready to leave the north and getting set up in the south, as well as prepare for the impending arrival of our son (only 9 weeks to go – eep!), it’s been a bit hectic in the Farrell household.

Just yesterday, I found myself with a little free time in between work assignments and I filled that time with the re-creation of the spreadsheet I’ve been using to plan my son’s first birthday trip to Walt Disney World next October. (Note: I have already put down a deposit on a 9 day/8 night stay at the Polynesian for October 2014 – I did this the same day that the hotel rooms were released).

Even though the hotel rooms, etc., are available, I know that it will be many, many months before I can make any advance dining reservations or get a peek at the park hours for next fall. That didn’t keep me from using THIS year’s park hours and special events calendar to predict how our trip might shape up.

Some special things I’ve included so far are his first haircut at Main Street Barber Shop, a family breakfast at Ohana on his actual birthday (did I mention that date is TBD?), and a day at Animal Kingdom that includes Tusker House (for him) and Boma (for me).

But, as I started to slot things into my trusty spreadsheet, I started to wonder…what if my son is afraid of the characters? What if he hates going to restaurants? What if loud noises like music or fireworks make him cry? Is he going to be ‘that kid’ who kicks Minnie Mouse in the shins?

I love characters... will he?
I shared those fears with my husband, who agreed that all of those things are a possibility. And so now I ask you, dear readers, for your advice on how I can prepare my son for his first trip to Disney. Do you have fun or funny anecdotes to share about taking your child to Disney for the first time? Should we do a trial run at 6-8 months old to see how he reacts? Feel free to leave a comment below or email me directly at

Monday, August 12, 2013

Tiggerific Tuesday Trivia

Welcome back for more fantastic Disney Trivia!  Thanks again to Jodi from +Magical Mouse Schoolhouse, Heidi from +Heidi's Head, and +Mike Ellis for co-hosting!

Did you know:

The hearse outside of the Haunted Mansion was built during the Civil War and appeared in the 1965 John Wayne film "The Sons of Katie Elder

Thanks for joining me!  Check out all of the other great trivia being offered this week!

*Trivia from The Complete Walt Disney World 2008 by Julie and Mike Neal

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Back To School - Giveaway!

As it's almost time for kids to go back to school (and I know some have already started), several bloggers and I have gotten together to offer you a great Back to School Giveaway!

Win a Disney Princess back pack, lunch bag, and pencil box!  

What type of back pack would you choose for your prince or princess?

Friday, August 9, 2013

Disney World Family Traditions

Welcome to those of you joining me from WDW: It's Not Just for Kids and those of you just hopping aboard. I am the 3rd stop on our Magical Blogorail.

Disney family traditions vary family to family.  

I had many traditions back in my Day-Tripping days - i.e. all trips prior to 2009/children.  We would basically run the park in the same order.  And, I do mean run.  

But, since 2010 and our first trip with our then-6 month old son, we have done one thing on every single trip:

Rope Drop

The Magic Kingdom Welcome Show is possibly my favorite show at Walt Disney World.  With two early risers, we almost always take advantage of the morning Extra Magic Hours and, whenever possible, see the welcome show.

I have written about the Welcome Show over and over and over.  I have the music on a cd and listen to it in the car (most of it is repeated in the Main Street Trolley Show).

Make the Most of the Welcome Show

The show time varies - I have seen it 5 to 15 minutes prior to schedule park opening.  Try to be there 30 minutes prior to scheduled park opening.  In the busier season, they often open even earlier than scheduled, not only giving you a great show to welcome you to the park, but giving you extra time in the park before the crowds arrive!

Here is a recording of one of our favorite mornings in the park!

Thank you for joining me today. Your next stop on the Magical Blogorail Loop is Capturing Magical Memories.

Here is the map of our Magical Blogorail should you happen to have to make a stop along the way and want to reboard:

Final Stop: I Am a Disney Nerd

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Military Disney Trips - Shades of Green or On Property?

As a member of the U.S. Army, I have many opportunities for discounts that much of the general public doesn't have.  We have been lucky enough to have been offered constant ticket and hotel discounts for the past several years and I have been taking advantage of them - and convincing others to do so - for as long as possible.  I am well aware this discounts may go away, so I want to take advantage of them while I can!
For a full overview of the discounts available for the military, check out Military Disney Tips.

Disney Military Discounts 

At both Walt Disney World and the Disneyland Resort, park tickets and resorts are heavily discounted for military.  Disney Cruise Line often offers last minute discounts as well - harder to plan, but a great way to jump on them if you've got leave in the next month or so.

Disney Ticket Discounts:

  • A 4 day WDW Park Hopper for October, 2013-September 30, 2014 is only $169.  A limited number of these is allowed per service member.
  • A 3 day Disneyland Park Hopper is $129.

Disney Resort Discounts

  • At WDW, Deluxe resorts are 40% off 
  • Moderate Resorts are 35% off
  • Value Resorts are 30% off (higher than in past years)
  • Shades of Green is a military owned and operated resort ON WDW property - it's discounts are based on rank.
  • Disneyland Resort discounts are up to 40% off

Shades of Green

Located behind Disney's Polynesian Resort, the Shades of Green opened as the Disney Golf Resort in 1973.  In 1994, it was leased by the U.S. Government to become a military resort.  Shades of Green considers itself a "deluxe" resort.  The rooms are on the larger size, 400 square feet, and have double sinks in the bathroom.  Room rates are based on rank:
  • E-1 to E-5  -$95 and up (depending on room size)
  • E-6 to E-9, O-1 to O-3, WO1- WO- 3 - $123 and up
  • O-4 to O-10, WO 4-5 - $133 and up
veterans, foreign military, etc... apply into these categories.

With prices like those offered at Shades of Green, why look anywhere else?

With the Military Discount, the rates at Shades of Green are comparable to Disney Moderate Resorts and make the Deluxe resorts more affordable.

Let's price out rooms for an E-6 (hey, that's me!)
I could pay: 
  • $123 a night at the Shades of Green for a standard room.
  • OR for a steal - 543.20 for 4 nights plus breakfast
  • And pay for a rental car $30 per day 
  • And then $5 per day AT the hotel
    • Avoid these fees by paying for a taxi  $61 each way
  • Take free SoG transportation to the WDW parks or walk to the monorail at the Polynesian.
    • Buses are on a seasonal schedule.  Whatever that means.
    • 15 minute walk to the Poly/monorail.  Might not be that exciting after a long day of walking!
  • Park at the Disney Resorts for $15/day like an off property guest
  • Everything in the SOG is tax free
I could pay:
  • $112 per night at Disney's Port Orleans French Quarter
  • That's $453 for 4 nights - no meals included
  • Avoid rental car and parking fees by taking advantage of the Magical Express
    • Savings of at least $200 in transportation
    • If driving - park for free at resort and theme parks
  • Take free WDW transportation - buses run approximately every 20 minutes to parks and resort. Boats available from POR to Downtown Disney
It really is a toss up when it comes down to fees - but for my money, I'd rather have the full Disney experience. 

I'm training to become a WDW Guru - Travel Agent.  Contact me if you would like a quote to compare for yourself!

Monday, August 5, 2013

Tiggerific Tuesday Trivia

Welcome back for more fantastic Disney Trivia!  Thanks again to Jodi from +Magical Mouse Schoolhouse, Heidi from +Heidi's Head, and +Mike Ellis for co-hosting!

Did you know:
Walt Disney earned many Oscars in his lifetime. 26, in fact. And, many are now on display at the Walt Disney Family Museum in San Francisco. Including the real Oscar with 7 mini Oscars that Shirley Temple awarded Walt with for the 1937 film!

And, since I did spend a couple of hours at the beautiful WDF Museum in the stunning Presidio in San Francisco, expect more trivia and stories to come soon!

Thanks for joining me!  Check out all of the other great trivia being offered this week!