My Birthday Gift to You

In honor of my birthday today, I am offering a limited time promotion. If you book a Disney vacation package with room, tickets, and dining for $4,500 or more for travel dates between August 15 – December 31, 2016…you will receive a $100 Disney Gift Card to use on your vacation.

donald duck birthday

You must book by 7/28/16 to get this promotion. Gift Cards will be mailed once your vacation is paid in full. Don’t wait, book now!!!

Contact me at:

https://www.facebook.com/MyMagicalMouseVacationsByJenny/

Get your free quote today!  My services are always free.

 

 

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The Dos and Don’ts for First Time Disney Travel

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If you’re a Disney Addict like me, I know it’s hard to believe, but not everyone has been to Walt Disney World or Disneyland multiple times.  My family and I have been to Disney World so many times, we can tell you where every bathroom is located, shortcuts to avoid traffic jams of people, and the quickest way to get to your next Fastpass ride.  If you have never visited Disney World in Florida or Disneyland in California, or if it’s been a long time since your last visit, there are several mistakes that guests tend to make.  Even well traveled guests may not be aware of some of the most common dos and don’ts.  I’ve put together a few suggestions to make your first trip to the most Magical place on earth (or the Happiest place on earth)  a little more magical.
  • Don’t Sleep in Late. –  I know, it’s your vacation, so you don’t want to get up early.  However, the best time at the parks is first thing in the morning.  It’s generally cooler and less crowded.  Plan to get up and be at the park about 30 minutes before the scheduled opening (this is known as “rope drop”).  Some of the parks have a little opening show, that you will miss if you’re not there early.  You can get through security and ticketing, and be ready to roll when the rope drops.  Then you can get to that big attraction that you usually have to wait 60 minutes for if you go later.  My daughter likes to head to Big Thunder Mountain in Magic Kingdom first, so we can ride it a few times in a row before a long line starts to form.  I also suggest eating breakfast in the park.  My husband prefers a Table Service breakfast buffet, but a quick service breakfast works fine too.  Enjoy the early part of the day, go back to your resort for lunch and a nap, then return in the evening refreshed and ready to enjoy the cooler and less crowded night activities.

 

  • Don’t Leave the Park Early.  –  Just like being there early, it’s generally cooler and less crowded after the sun goes down.  If you took my advice and got to the park early, then went back to your resort for a nap you, should be good to go for the evening.  Book your Advance Dining Reservation (ADR) for 6-7 pm in one of the parks and then enjoy the nighttime parades and fireworks after dinner.  The last few times I was at the Magic Kingdom, I was at the back of the park at closing time.  Sometimes I take my time walking to the front and stop in the shops on Main Street…those stay open about an hour after the park closes.  About an hour after closing time, there is a “kiss goodnight” at the castle.  It’s really short and it’s not publicized, but it happens each night.  You really need to see it at least once.  Plus, the buses, monorails and boats are much less crowded by that time.  Another thing a lot of guests don’t know is that if you’re in a line at closing time, you can remain in that line until you ride the attraction.  It doesn’t matter if you get in line for the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train 5 minutes before closing, you’ll still be able to ride the ride before you leave.  It’s a nice way to squeeze in one last ride before you leave the park.

 

  • Don’t Eat at Peak Times –  One of the worst things to do at Disney is trying to eat lunch at 12:00 noon.  Try to avoid eating at a quick service restaurant between 11:30 and 1:00.  The lines will be very long and you won’t find any place to sit.  You’ll get frustrated trying to carry all that food around without bumping into someone.  If you got to the park early, you’ll probably be ready to eat lunch by 10:45 or 11:00.  Or if you ate breakfast in the park early, you can wait until after the lunch crowd.  Bring a snack or get a Mickey shaped pretzel around 11:00 to hold you over until after 1:00. Waiting in line for Starbucks in the morning is a big waste of time, as well.  Grab some coffee at your hotel before you head to the park.

 

  • Do use Fastpass and Fastpass+ –  Disneyland still has regular Fastpasses that you go to each attraction, insert your park ticket, and it gives you a paper Fastpass.  Disney World now uses Fastpass+ which allows you select your Fastpasses up to 60 days before your trip if you’re staying on Disney property (30 days if staying off-property), and you choose 3 each day.  There is absolutely no reason for you not to take advantage of them.  It’s free for every park guest.  You don’t have to pay extra for this like you do at some other theme parks.  At Disneyland, you get your paper Fastpass 1 at a time.  When you use one, you can then go get another one, and so on… all day long until they run out.  The more popular attractions tend to run out mid to late afternoon. The Fastpass gives you a time frame for you to return to ride the ride with little or no waiting.  It’s usually a 1 hour window and you need to return during that time.  When you book your Disney vacation with me as your Disney travel planner, I will help you understand and take full advantage of the Fastpass system.

 

  • Do make Advanced Dining Reservations (ADR)  This is one of the things that I can help you with as your Disney Travel planner.  Disney World and Disneyland have some wonderful restaurants, but if you don’t make ADRs you more than likely will end up eating chicken fingers and hamburgers every meal.  The Table Service restaurants are extremely popular and are generally booked well in advance.  We can schedule your ADRs 180 days before your trip for Disney World, and 60 days before your trip to Disneyland.  Some of the most popular locations like Cinderella’s Royal Table and Be Our Guest fill up within minutes of hitting the 180 day mark.  I will get up early to make sure you get the reservations you want.

 

  • Do use the My Disney Experience App –  Disney World has free Wi-Fi in the parks which is great when using the Disney apps.  Be sure to download the My Disney Experience app on your phone to keep track of your Fastpassses and ADRs.  You can also check-in to your hotel with the app.

 

  • Don’t Park Hop Several Times in a Day –  It’s okay to park hop once, but any more than that, you’ll be wasting time in transportation.  My suggestion is to go to the park early, head back to your resort for an afternoon nap, then head out to a different park in the evening.  Pick a park that stays open later that night.  We love to go to Magic Kingdom on evenings it’s open late.  The rides tend to not be as crowded, and it feels like a different park at night compared to during the day.  It’s my husband’s favorite time to be there.

 

  • Don’t Watch the First Parade –  If there are 2 different times scheduled for a parade, always go to the second one.  The lines for rides will be much shorter during the parade, and many people leave after the first night time parade.  That means you get to ride more rides during the first parade, and then watch the second parade with less crowds.  Hit one or two last rides after the second parade while most people exit the parks.  By the time you leave, the transportation lines back to the resorts will be less crowded.

 

  • Do use a Disney Travel Planning Expert –  A Disney Travel Planner like myself, has graduated from the Disney College of Knowledge and knows many secrets and tricks to make your vacation less stressful and more magical than doing it yourself.  My service is free to you.  I’ll find you the best deals for your family.  I’ll keep checking for new discounts even after you’ve booked.  Then if something better comes along, I will adjust your reservation.  I’ll stay up late and get up early to make those ADRs you really want, so you don’t have to.  You will never pay a penny extra for a Disney Travel Planner to book your trip.  If you have a problem during your vacation, you can text me, email me, or give me a call, and I’ll take care of it for you.  There are a lot more secrets that I will share with you when you book your Walt Disney World, Disneyland, Disney Cruise Line,  Adventures by Disney, or Aulani vacation with me.

Summer Discounts are Here!

Awaken Summer MagicBand

Summer Discounts were released on 3/14/16, with a new Star Wars themed discount.

With the new Awaken Summer Discount, you can save up to 30% on rooms at select Walt Disney World Resort hotels this summer!  Plus, get an exclusive MagicBand when you upgrade to a room and Theme Park ticket package! For stays most nights 6/12-8/25/16.

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Contact me for a free quote today!

New Security at Disney World

As you may already know, Disney World recently increased security.  Some of the new safety rules are as follows:

  • Costumes and masks are now prohibited by guests ages 14 and older.
  • Disney is pulling all toy guns from shelves.
  • There has been a heavier presence of uniformed and armed police recently. Disney will also add more K-9 team patrols.
  • At AMC Disney Springs 24 theaters, bags will be subject to search and you may be asked to walk through a scanner similar to what they have at airports. There may also be searches with hand-held wands. This is a temporary change related to increased levels of caution around Star Wars.
  • Walk-through scanners are at bag check lines at Disney theme parks and water parks.

Security measures may continue to change over the next year or so.  I will continue to make updates as changes occur.

The Ganachery is coming to Disney Springs

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Disney World has announced a new chocolate shop set to open later this year, The Ganachery.  It will be opening at Disney Springs (formerly Downtown Disney), near other new restaurants like The Boathouse, Jack Lindsey’s Hanger Bar, and Morimoto Asia.

This new shop will have custom blend gourmet chocolate.  Yum!  Customers will have the option to enjoy their tasty treats right there, or take them home for a special treat later on.  It is unknown at this time if this shop will be included on the dining plan.  I’m keeping my fingers crossed that it will be.  There’s nothing like using a snack credit for a decadent dessert.  As more information is released about this chocolate shop, I will post more details.  🙂

It’s Almost time for Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party

Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party (MNSSHP) is Disney World’s special event offered in the fall at the Magic Kingdom park.  Guests get to go to the party dressed up in costumes and attend special activities only offered during the party.  One of the special activities is trick or treating around the park.

Halloween WDW

Everyone visiting Magic Kingdom from September to November 1st will get to enjoy the Halloween and fall decorations in the park.  Only guests attending MNSSHP will get to enjoy the special activities that are exclusive to this special event party.  There are special shows, trick or treating, exclusive merchandise, unique photo opportunities, meet and greets with your favorite characters, Mickey’s Boo to You Parade, and the HalloWishes fireworks.

Halloween Disney

The party is offered a few nights a week from mid-September until the day after Halloween.  On party nights, Magic Kingdom closes early so Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party (MNSSHP) can be held from 7:00 p.m. to Midnight.  Guests with party tickets can enter the park as early as 4:00 p.m.

The party nights for 2015 are:

  • September 15, 18, 20, 22, 25, & 27
  • October 1, 2, 4, 6, 8, 9, 12, 13, 15, 16, 18, 20, 22, 23, 25, 27, 29, & 31
  • November 1

Tickets are between $62.00 – $71.00, depending on when you attend the party, and if you purchase your tickets in advance.  This is a special event, so it requires a separate ticket to enter the park.  Having a regular park ticket will NOT get you into this event.

If you enjoy wearing costumes, this is the one time of year when adults are welcome to wear costumes at Magic Kingdom.  Don’t let this spooktacular good time pass you up!

Halloween Mickey

How to use your Disney Gift Cards

Disney Gift Cards can be used in many ways when planning your next Disney Destination vacation.  This method of payment is growing in popularity in recent years.

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Here is my list of ways to use a Disney Gift Card:

1.  Disney World – Use toward vacation packages, theme park tickets, water park tickets, annual passes, hotel rooms, spa experiences, merchandise, dining, and recreation…and more.

2.  Disneyland – Use toward vacation packages, theme park tickets, annual passes, tours, stroller and wheelchair rentals, merchandise, and dining…and more.

3.  Disney Cruise Line – Used to apply payment toward your shipboard account during your cruise, so you can use it to purchase Spa Treatments, Shore Excursions, Photographs at Shutters, and onboard Merchandise.  You can also use your Disney Gift Card toward your Disney Cruise Line reservation.

4.  Aulani Resort and Spa – Use toward your Resort reservation.  Can be used for payment toward room nights or accumulated purchases on your Resort charge during your stay.  The Disney Gift Card can also be used at participating merchandise and restaurant locations.

5.  Adventures by Disney – Use to reserve your next adventure.

6.  Disney Store – Used to buy Disney merchandise at your local Disney Store.

7.  DisneyStore.com – Used to buy Disney merchandise from the online store.

8.  Disney’s Hilton Head Island Resort – Use toward reservations.  Use for accumulated purchases on your Resort charge.  The Disney Gift Card can also be used at participating merchandise and restaurant locations.

9.  Disney’s Vero Beach Resort – Use toward reservations.  Use for accumulated purchases on your Resort charge.  The Disney Gift Card can also be used at participating merchandise and restaurant locations.

10. Disney’s PhotoPass – Use as a form of payment for your photo orders.

11. DisneyMusicStore.com – Use toward purchase of Disney music.

12. Disney’s Club Penguin – Become a member and have full access to all the exclusive games, parties, items, and events that make Club Penguin so much fun to explore.

How do you like to use your Disney Gift Cards?  Is there anything I forgot on my list that you would add?

My daughter and I use them for buying souvenirs while on vacation.  My daughter always gets a couple for her birthday, and she loves having her own “money” to shop with on our trips.  I’m also a fan of using them for shopping for Christmas gifts on DisneyStore.com or at my local Disney Store.

If you are a budget shopper, there are ways to get discounted gift cards from Target, Sam’s Club, and a few other places.  The savings can make using gift cards well worth it.  Where do you get your discounted Disney Gift Cards?

Baby’s 1st Haircut in Magic Kingdom

A few years back, I was doing a bunch of research on Disney World.  I came across some information about getting a haircut at the Harmony Barber Shop in the Magic Kingdom.  This intrigued me.  Especially since at the time, I had a toddler that was in need of a 1st haircut.  I was tempted to hold off on her haircut until we went on vacation, but I didn’t.

harmony barber shop

When you enter the Magic Kingdom park and make your way to Main Street, there is a little barber shop near City Hall (on your left).  They provide haircuts for kids and adults.  Who knew?

The best part is they will do Baby’s 1st Haircut.  The official name is the My First Haircut Package, which includes a printed certificate and a pair of commemorative Mickey ears that have “First Haircut” embroidered on the back. They also give you a clipping of your child’s hair in a mesh bag for you to take home.  How cute is this package?

The price isn’t bad either.  The package is only $19.  I consider that a bargain when you consider how much you can spend on Mickey ears alone in the gift shops.

The Cast Members cutting your child’s hair have fun ways to keep your little one entertained why getting their haircut, like pixie dust (glitter), bubbles, and stickers.

You can make reservations, but walk-ins are also accepted.  The appointments generally take about 15-30 minutes.  If you are a walk-in and there is a wait, you can go enjoy some attractions while you “wait” your turn.

Oh, and don’t forget your camera because this will be a life event you won’t want to forget.  🙂

Stroller Rental Companies in Orlando, FL

The past two years, we’ve rented a stroller for our trips to Disney World.  We didn’t want to worry about bringing our stroller from home, and we wanted something that would be easy to carry on the buses.  It was very convenient because the stroller was actually delivered to our resort, and all we had to do was pick it up the day we arrived from Bell Services.  Then on the day we were scheduled to leave, we drop it off and the stroller companies picks it up from the resort.  Simple, right?

Our daughter in 2013 at Animal Kingdom.  She was almost 3 years old.

Our daughter in 2013 at Animal Kingdom. This is the week before her 3rd birthday.  Her monkey was riding in the stroller while she walked.

We also liked the idea of having a more comfortable stroller than the ones offered in the parks.  Don’t get me wrong, I can remember my family using the plastic molded strollers in the theme parks when I was little and it was fine.  I don’t remember ever complaining about it.  But…I wanted my daughter to have something softer to ride around in, and a stroller that would have storage for packages and drinks.  For us, renting a stroller just made sense.  Like with most things, deciding whether renting a stroller is right for you is going to be a personal decision.  There are pros and cons to bringing your own stroller, renting a Disney stroller, and renting a stroller from an outside company.

Taking a break and eating some popcorn in her stroller in 2014.

Taking a break and eating some popcorn in her stroller in 2014.  This was several days before she turned 4 years old.

Here is a list of the top stroller rental companies in Orlando and their websites.  I’m going to start with the company we used in 2013 and 2014.  They are hands down my preferred company.

1. Magic Strollers

www.magicstrollers.com

2. Kingdom Strollers

www.kingdomstrollers.com

3. Orlando Stroller Rentals

www.orlandostrollerrentals.com

4. Apple Stroller

www.applescooter.com/Stroller.asp?U=&Reservation=&Venue=Orlando&Stroller=YES

5. Simple Stroller Rental

www.simplestrollerrental.com

6. Baby Wheels Orlando

http://www.babywheelsorlando.com/

7. A Baby’s Best Friend

http://www.abbf.com/

8. Baby’s Away

www.babysaway.com/reservations/Orlando

We have nothing but good things to say about Magic Strollers.  We have not encountered any problems, and we highly recommend them.  They are my go-to company for booking stroller rentals for customers.  Another highly recommended stroller company is Kingdom Strollers.  As a travel agent, I know a lot of people that use Kingdom Strollers and they have high praise for the service and the condition of the strollers.  Orlando Stroller Rental would be my last recommendation.  I hear good things about their service as well.  All three of these stroller companies are Disney preferred providers.

As for the remaining stroller rental companies, I don’t know them as well, so I can’t say whether or not I would recommend them.  I would suggest doing a little research to find out more about them if you are considering using them.  I have reviewed information about each company, and they seem to be reliable companies.  My main concern with some of them is that they don’t deliver to Disney resorts and leave the stroller with Bell Services.  You may have to meet them for delivery to accept the stroller.  This has the possibility of being very inconvenient, so please keep that in mind.

The best part of using a stroller rental company is that it is generally hassle free, and you have a clean and comfortable stroller for your child.  Our daughter walks probably 90% of the day, but that 10% of the day when she does ride in the stroller makes the cost worth it to us.

Here are my top reasons for having a stroller at WDW:

–  Having storage for souvenirs, jackets, rain ponchos, drinks, etc.

–  Sometimes our daughter just gets tired and wants a break from walking for a few minutes.

–  It’s a comfortable place for her to sit while waiting for fireworks, parades, and the bus (to and from the parks).

–  It’s easier for us to get through crowds when she’s in the stroller (like after a fireworks display).

–  At the end of the day when we get back to the hotel and we are exhausted, we can put her in the stroller instead of having to carry a half asleep child back to our room.  It is seriously a lifesaver.  Especially when your room is a long walk from the bus stop.  Believe me, we are very thankful for our stroller at the end of a long day.

Everyone has their own reasoning for wanting a stroller with them while at Disney World.  I recommend it for young kids.  It will make your life a lot easier.  One of the worst things you can see at Disney World is an overly tired child that is being forced to walk around the parks, resorts, etc.

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In the evening, getting ready to pick a spot to wait for a parade at Magic Kingdom in 2014.

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Waiting for a bus back to our resort for a mid-day break in 2014. We just missed a bus, so our wait was about 15 minutes.

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Entering Magic Kingdom in 2014. She was still trying to fully wake up, and it had just stopped raining out.

Our last night at Disney World in 2013.  It was chilly out, she was starting to show signs of catching a cold, and we were all getting tired.

Our last night at Disney World in 2013. It was chilly out, she was starting to show signs of catching a cold, and we were all getting tired.  

If you book a Disney vacation with me, I can help you select the best stroller rental company for your family and make the reservation for you.  If you prefer to make the reservation yourself, I can assist you in selecting a company to use.

If you would like more information on stroller rental companies, or are thinking about booking a Disney vacation, please contact me for more information.

You can fill out a request form for a free vacation quote here:

 http://www.mickeyvacations.com/jennyw/JennyW_Res_Form.htm

Getting Outdoorsy at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort and Campground

When planning a vacation, do you prefer something a little rustic and outdoorsy?  Well, the Fort Wilderness Resort and Campground at Disney World may be the place for you.

fort wilderness cabin

It’s nestled on 750 acres of pine and cypress forest.  It has the beauty of the American Frontier with a touch of Disney charm.  It opened in November of 1971.  The resort has 799 campsites and 409 air-conditioned Wilderness Cabins.  Fort Wilderness is the only pet friendly resort on Disney World property.

The cozy cabins can accommodate up to 6 guests.  The cabins are approximately 504 square feet, 12′ wide by 42′ long. Each cabin has a separate bedroom with a double bed, bunk beds, and a pull down bed in the living area.  There is a full bathroom with hair dryer.  The living area has a sofa and cable TV with DVD player. The dining area has seating for 6. The cabin also comes with an iron and ironing board.  There is a full kitchen, and a grill outside.

The camp sites are approximately 25′ wide and range from 25′ to 65′ in length. They are a combination of paved driveway and sandy pad.  All sites have running water, electricity, charcoal grills and picnic tables.  There are full hook-up sites that provide sanitary disposal.

The Trail’s End Restaurant is a cafeteria found in Pioneer Hall.  It is a buffet that features all-you-can-eat breakfast, lunch and dinner, and offers pizza as a late night snack.

One of the most popular dinner shows on the Disney World property is the Hoop Dee Doo Musical Revue.  In addition to the hilarious hoe-down-style entertainment, guests are treated to a family-style, all-you-can-eat dinner.

Mickey’s Backyard BBQ is a favorite of many guests.  This all you can eat buffet features everything you would expect at a Barbecue, plus much more.  There is also a variety of live entertainment, including character appearances.

The resort has a pool, horseback riding, fishing, and other recreational activities.  It provides Disney transportation to all theme parks.  There are also shops, laundry facilities, lockers, and childcare services.

Check out the video below to see what the Fort Wilderness Resort and Campground has to offer.

https://www.youtube.com/embed/CgtenTvXj0A?rel=0&controls=0&showinfo=0“>

Have you ever stayed at this resort or campground before?  What did you think?