Monday, June 23, 2014

Eat to the Beat Concert Series

EPCOT'S Food and Wine Festival


I will be experiencing my first EPCOT Food and Wine party this year, held September 19 - November 10, 2014  - and aside from the numerous booths of food and drinks, I'm excited about the Eat to the Beat Concert series, included with the cost of park admission!

Check out the roster - the other 90's kids will love a lot of this line up!

Eat to the Beat Concert Series


Jo Dee Messina
The Pointer Sisters
Rick Springfield
Christopher Cross
Hanson
Air Supply
STARSHIP starring Mickey Thomas
Sugar Ray
Fuel
Sister Hazel
To be determined
Billy Ocean
Night Ranger
Smash Mouth
Jim Brickman
Los Lonely Boys
Wilson Phillips
Dennis DeYoung, original member of the group STYX
38 Special
Boyz II Men
David Cook
Big Bad Voodoo Daddy
Sept. 19 - Sept. 21
Sept. 22 - Sept. 23
Sept. 24 - Sept. 25
Sept. 26 - Sept. 27
Sept. 28 - Sept. 29
Sept. 30 - Oct. 2
Oct. 3 - Oct. 5
Oct. 6 - Oct. 8
Oct. 9 - Oct. 10
Oct. 11 - Oct. 12
Oct. 13 - Oct. 14
Oct. 15 - Oct. 16
Oct. 17 - Oct. 19
Oct. 20 - Oct. 22
Oct. 23 - Oct. 24
Oct. 25 - Oct. 26
Oct. 27 - Oct. 28
Oct. 29 - Oct. 31
Nov. 1 - Nov. 2
Nov. 3 - Nov. 5
Nov. 6 - Nov. 7
Nov. 8 - Nov. 10


I'll be there possibly for David Cook and Big Bad Voodoo Daddy!  Who do you want to see?

For booking information, please email JennL@TheWDWGuru.com for free travel planning and more!

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Experiencing Fort Wilderness



Welcome to the first stop aboard Magical Blogorail Blue. Enjoy the ride as we share ways to have fun outside of the Disney Parks

While I absolutely love spending a week park hopping, there is a lot to do at Walt Disney World that doesn't involve a park ticket (and the hefty price tag).  This Magical Blogorail Blue loop is showcasing some of our favorites - or in my case, some of the attractions I hope to visit: Fort Wilderness Campgrounds and the Tri Circle D Ranch!
Photo courtesy of Disney Travel Professionals
The Fort Wilderness Resort and Campground is home to 409 cabins and 799 campsites.  The campgrounds are the least expensive way to stay on WDW property (if you want to pitch a tent or park an RV).  The cabins are considered moderate rooms - with bunk beds as well as a double and murphy bed, then a kitchen and sitting area - lots of stuff packed in that cabin.  But, there is a lot more to see and do at Fort Wilderness than just camp!  For those of us that don't camp, there are a ton of reasons to stop by and visit during a non-park day!

In terms of dining, Fort Wilderness is home to the Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Review, Mickey's Backyard BBQ (friends, food, and the fab 5 - outside!), Trail's End Restaurant, and Crockett's Tavern.  Like many other Walt Disney World Resort Hotels, a movie is often played outdoors at night.  But at Fort Wilderness, you can enjoy the movie after first singing songs at the Chip and Dale campfire sing-a-long, every night, weather permitting!

The Tri-Circle D Ranch is home to the horses of that you often see marching down Main Street, U.S.A.  And, when visiting the Tri-Circle D Ranch you can see all of the horses and maybe even see a blacksmith fixing their horseshoes!  Also at Fort Wilderness?  A Dragon Calliope, a horsedrawn musical instrument, used in the Mickey Mouse Club Circus Parade at Disneyland in the 1950's!

Other activities at Fort Wilderness?
  • 2 Pools (One located near campground & a 2nd pool near the cabins area)
  • Children's pool and water playground
  • Children's playground
  • Arcade
  • Archery
  • Segways Adventure
  • Tennis
  • Marina/boat rental
  • Bike rental
  • Fishing
  • Beach area
  • Jogging trail
  • Horse-drawn carriage rides
  • Horseback riding - Pony rides
  • Hayrides
  • Chip n Dale's Campfire Sing-a-Long, Nightly
  • Disney Movie Under the Stars, Nightly
  • Electrical Water Pageant view
  • Waggin' Trails Dog Park
You don't have to stay at Fort Wilderness to experience all of the great activities that are available!  Stop by and experience all there is to see and do!

Thank you for joining me today. Your next stop on the Magical Blogorail Loop is Rolling with the Magic

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

**1st Stop ~ Disney Babies Blog
4th Stop ~ Ashley Aspires

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

102 Ways to Save Money at WDW #review

This review for 102 Ways to Save Money at Walt Disney World by Lou Mongello is part of a Magical Blogorail sponsored campaign. Copies of the book were received free of charge for a review. Opinions are those of the reviewer and do not represent those of the author.  Your opinion may vary.

Pre 2011 half marathon
Lou Mongello was one of the first people in the Disney community I discovered through his podcast, WDW Radio, has been on for many years, going in depth behind the scenes at the Disney parks and resorts, live dining reviews, interviews with legends, and so much more. I've even run with his running team, raising money for Make A Wish foundation! His trivia books and audio guides of the Magic Kingdom are fan favorites, and his newest book, 102 Ways to Save Money at Walt Disney World is a great addition to a Disney book collection!


102 Ways to Save Money at Walt Disney World is filled with out of the box tips for saving money.  There are several sections of tips, separated with stunning photographs of around WDW - win, win in my book!  There are sections on how to save on tickets, resorts, when to go, before you go, and many more, each filled with great tips about all of the topics.

Beyond the 102 is a Bonus! section with 40 things to do, get, see, eat, and collect!  I love the different things that Walt Disney World offers -  Because, really, it's Lou and a Top Ten always has at least 12.

Something new and unusual (at least to me) - I downloaded this book as a PDF format - with clickable links, so if you get the online version instead of the paperback version, you'll have links to many different websites that Lou has provided for the reader to get even more information about specific topics!

This book has so many great tips - tips I've heard and thought to use, but seem to always forget, or tips that honestly, most people just don't know!  I think that this book can help Walt Disney World first timers and experienced vacationers save money on their vacations



Disney expert and podcasting pioneer, Lou Mongello, shares 102 ways you can have the most magical Disney vacation without breaking the bank in this comprehensive, detailed, 197-page guide.  102 Ways to Save Money For and At Walt Disney World guide is a MUST HAVE for any family planning toward a Disney vacation.

Purchase the Book Here 

 

Enter to Win a Copy of Your Own + a Walt Disney World Audio Tour from Lou Monghello

If you would like a copy of Lou Mongello's 102 Ways to Save Money at Walt Disney World please enter to win our giveaway below.  Please click here if the entry widget is not shown below.


Monday, June 16, 2014

Celebrations Magazine #review

Celebrations Magazine


I've heard of this magazine for years - as a listener of Lou Mongello's WDW Radio podcast, I've heard him talk wiith Tim Foster and make mention of this magazine.  I've always thought - this would be a great Christmas present to gift for my close friend, Melissa.  Yet, somehow, I never found myself a copy.  Until now!

Celebrations magazine just released it's 35th issue.  The mission of the magazine is "discovering the magic of Walt Disney World."  Readers can explore the magic of the Disney theme parks and resorts, relive the classic films, and celebrate the secrets, stories,a nd history of the most magical place on Earth.  Reders can subscribe or buy back issues at www.celebrtionspress.com
I was recently sent an issue from January/February 2013 to review and share with you - let me tell you, I love it.  I don't think I could have received a more perfect issue - the cover (and inside pictorial) is all about New Fantasyland, there is a guide on the World Showcase Adventures with Phineas and Ferb, and the Story Behind the Music of Main Street, U.S.A.

I really enjoyed reading the articles - there is one entitled "Suspended Animation: The Disney Strike of 1941" al about the Disney studio strike.  This magazine is filled with incredible photography that really does bring the magic home!  Between hidden mickeys (with a guest article from Steve Barrett himself), quizzes, crosswords, games, and more, these magazine can be enjoyed by the entire family!

I've loving Celebrations Magazine and I'm looking forward to more - and to buying them for gifts in the near future!  Have you read Celebrations Magazine?

I received a free copy of Celebrations Magazine for reviewing purposes, but all thoughts and opinions are my own.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Adventures by Disney

The other night, I was lucky enough to attend an Adventures by Disney evening, to showcase all of the amazing trips and experiences that AbD offers - this night was a Travel Agent learning experience that I want to share a little with my readers, because honestly?  Wow.

Adventures by Disney

Disney is known for many things:
  • Cartoons
  • Movies
  • Theme Parks
  • Mickey Mouse
But - one thing above and beyond that ties everything together?

Incredible Customer Service

Theme Parks, Resorts, Disney Cruise Line - service is impeccible.  Everyone knows it - the Disney difference is the extra magic that is created on Disney vacations.  Adventures by Disney takes this one further - VIP treatment for everyone.  Yes, I may never have a personal guide for a Walt Disney World vacation, but on an Adventures by Disney vacation, but on an Adventure by Disney, you have 2.  There are always at least 2 guides - 1 from America and 1 local, from wherever you may be visiting.  

New for 2014/2015 - Long Weekends


Imagine a trip already planned out for you with 5 star accomodations, dining, VIP tours, backstage access - more than you or I could put together by ourselves - well, that's what Adventures by Disney does, even on a 4 day trip to NYC.  

Ever watch Good Morning America on ABC?  Well, on the NYC trip by Adventures by Disney, you'll wake up and go visit GMA - but you won't be standing outside.  You'll be inside.  In the VIP area - backstage, mingling with whomever may be there that day!  How close you get, I'm not sure - but you will see whomever is there, without any lines, bad weather, just by having your VIP guide!

Experience New Places




Frozen's location of "Arendelle" is loosely based on Norway.  Thus, when Elsa and Anna first made their appearances at Walt Disney World, they spent their time in the Norway pavilion (now, they've moved to Princess Fairy Tale Hall in the Magic Kingdom).  Visit the Stave Churches, trout fish amid glaciers, and so much more!

Disney Difference

While all AbD groups have 2 tour guides, they often bring on "Step on guides" to get even more information about specific locations.  Imagine having a 3rd guide join in the fun when visiting the Louvre - to really give details about every painting.  But, what about the kids?  No problem - the Junior Adventurers will have a Mystery Detective game, in which they have to discover the different pieces of art (shh!! don't tell them they're learning!!) to solve the mystery!  The experiences are constantly tailored to the people in each and every group - and updated along the way as they need to be!

Destinations

From Wyoming and Southern California to the Almafi Coast or Peru, Adventures by Disney are available all over the globe (minus Antartica, but I think most of us are okay with skipping that one) and while they change, they are always amazing.  For price quotes, more destinations, or any questions, check out our Guru page focused on Adventures by Disney, or email me! JennL@thewdwguru.com

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Guide to the Magic For Kids - Review

Recently, I was offered the opportunity to review a couple of great publications from Celebations Press!  I'm excited today to share a review of Tim Foster's Guide to the Magic for Kid!  I hope you enjoy!

A Guide to the Magic for Kids

Published by Guide to the Magic, a division of Celebrations Press, in 2013 - Tim Foster, creator and editor of Celebrations Magazine (look for that review coming soon!) created an amazing guide perfectly designed for kids on vacation.

Inside the Book

Inside the book, you will find scavenger hunts, character spotting tips, an attraction index, and guide pages for each of the parks.  The back contains daily journal pages so kids can remember what they did each day of their vacations - meals, locations, souvenirs, hidden mickeys found, weather, and more!    There is even a place for autographs and pictures - or a place where kids can practicing drawing the characters they may have learned to draw in the Animation Academy, or to put those wonderful Mickey stickers that Cast Members occasionally hand out. 

The details in this book remind me of a junior version of The PassPorters Guide to WDW - another favorite book of mine.  Each attraction has a box to rate the attraction (thumbs up/down/okay), plus tips, a place to put the included attraction stickers, and tips or tricks.  For each attraction!

Another favorite - for the World Showcase pavilions, there is a specific box for the PassPort stamps, autographs, and a place to draw and color the flags of the different countries!  No more color Agent P/Duffy (or maybe just in addition to that - my boys love to color Agent P).

For $24.95 (or less on amazon!) - you can purchase this book for your children!  

I think any kid would love this guide for their trips.  It's amazing how many fantastic books there are for kids visiting the Disney parks - between the scavenger hunts, activity guides, and now this over all guide, it may be hard to choose, but this is a perfect guide for the kid who really likes to know what's going on.  

Have you used Guide to the Magic for Kids yet?  I highly recommend it!

Celebrations Press provided me a copy of this book at no charge for reviewing purposes, but all opinions and wording are 100% my own!  I


Thursday, June 5, 2014

Wizarding World of Harry Potter

Part 1 - Hogsmeade Village - opened up in the summer of 2010 at Islands of Adventuer theme park in Orlando, Florida.  Later this summer, Part 2- Diagon Alley - is opening.  Are you ready?

I started reading the Harry Potter books in college.  They are captivating, entertaining, and incredibly magical.  I was skeptical at first - wizards? Magic? No, thanks.  But, as most everyone who has read them agrees, they are marvelous.  I really can't even think of a better word!  Marvelous.  Amazing.

And, Universal Studios in Orlando, Florida, has brought the books and movies to life with the Hogsmeade Village in Islands of Adventuere.  And, opening up soon - Summer of 2014 (no exact date announced), Diagon Alley will open with the Hogswart Express connected the two parks to each other.


With attractions such as Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts Banks, shops, and wizarding food and drinks, these parks are a must see for all Harry Potter fans!

For travel starting June 29, there are Harry Potter Packages for travelers to the Universal Orlando Resort parks!

Email me JennL@thewdwguru.com for booking info and a free, no obligation price quote!!

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Enjoy the Parks, Skip the Crowds

People always ask me when they should visit the parks - there is always a reason to skip, postpone, or avoid, but I'm here to help clear up some of the confusion and help you plan the best possible trip!

Enjoy the Parks Skip the Crowds

General Rules for Lower Crowds:

  • If the kids are in school, the parks are less crowded
  • Avoid major holidays
  • Spring break fluctuates around the country, but you may not have one of the popular breaks
  • Check Disney's calender for major events - i.e. Star Wars Weekend, Food and Wine, runDisney events, etc...

Daily Rule to Avoid Crowds:

  • Start early - don't sleep in!
  • Take midday breaks - leave the parks when the majority of people are there
  • Avoid parks that have special events occuring
  • Head to the Magic Kingdom during the day if there is a hard ticket event that night 

Cheat - Use tools that MANY won't:

  • Use a Disney-specialized Travel Agent - as my agency is new and not yet EarMarked, I won't use that as the status to find (plus, my first TA experience was with an "earMarked" agency that was NOT a pleasant experience), but someone you can trust and have good recommendations or develop a relationship with (hello, lovely blog readers)
  • Invest in a subscription to TouringPlans.com (I use and recommend this tool, but by clicking through that link I make a very small percent if you purchase)
    • Touring Plans has an amazing 365 Day Crowd Calender - based on ridiculous statistical research
    • TP always gives park recommendations based on crowd levels - makes touring a breeze!
    • TP has endless varieties of Touring Plans - literally a step-by-step guide to the parks to get the most out of your day without spending it all in linen!

Want more information or free travel planning help?  Email me JennL@TheWDWGuru.com for free quotes, itinerary planning, and more!

Monday, June 2, 2014

One Day of Food in Disney's Animal Kingdom

Animal Kingdom may not be the best park for food, but it does have some great options

Where do I Eat?

Counter Service:

  • Beastly Kiosk - Discovery Island - Grab and go, sandwiches
  • Dino Diner - Dinoland, U.S.A. - hot dogs
  • Flame Tree Barbecue - Discovery Island - BBQ - Fave Lunch
  • Kusafiri Coffee Shop and Bakery - Africa - baked goods and coffee (cupcakes!!)
  • Mr. Kamal's - Asia - Boneless wings
  • Pizzafari - Discovery Island - pizza  
  • Restaurantosaurus - Dinoland, U.S.A. - Burgers, chicken nuggets
  • Tamu Tamu Refreshments - Africa - sandwiches, salads
  • Yak & Yeti Local Food Cafes - Asia - Egg Rolls, Fried Rice

Table Service:

  • Rainforest Cafe - Animal Kingdom - park entrance - it's a chain - skip it!
  • Tusker House Restaurant - Africa - Character meal with fab 5 for bfast/lunch - LOVE!
  • Yak & Yeti Restaurant - Asia - Asian - dumplings, lo mein, miso salmon - lots of options!

While the Animal Kingdom doesn't have as many choices, there are still a few good options!  Make sure to head to Kusafiri for a great cupcake if you're craving one!