Sunday, March 3, 2019
Thank you for checking out my blog page! As you will probably notice, the dates of my posts are from quite a while ago. I began this blog when I first started with Mouseketrips and was doing all the sorts of things you do to grow your business including using social media to let people know what I offer. Well I have been super fortunate as my business has steadily grown from those early days and making magical plans for my clients has taken top priority. So do enjoy going through the posts and while some may be dated, there is still lots of good information.
And if you are thinking about going to Disney World, or on a Disney Cruise or would like to explore any of the many vacation options the Walt Disney Company has to offer, I would love to have you give me a call! There is absolutely no obligation and no pressure. The best way to get in touch with me is to call me at 973-377-1292 or send me an email at DebbieM@Mouseketrips.com. A chat on the phone is always the best way to get started. If I don't answer, leave a message to let me know the best time to get in touch with you so we can talk about the different options and I can get a feel for what's important to your family. I truly make planning your Disney vacation easy and will work hard to create Disney plans that work best for your family and budget.
I look forward to working together to make the magic happen!
Friday, January 22, 2016
|Here's a throwback to 2001 with our 3 Year Old, almost 2 Year Old and Pregnant with my daughter!|
FOR THOSE WITH YOUNG CHILDREN
It’s always a challenge to guess what kids will be scared of and what doesn’t bother them. I always encourage people not to push their kids onto rides that look scary to their child. As your vacation progresses, they will likely come to realize there is nothing that will hurt them and they will get braver if allowed to figure this out on their own terms. However, if you get them on a ride they didn’t want to go on and it is scary for them, you will have them doubting the rides and what you say about the rides all week. The same holds true for approaching the characters. The costumed characters can be really scary for many children. In my experience, the characters are very good about dealing with this. If your child is afraid, the “face” characters such as the princesses etc. are usually much less scary. When not forced, the timid child usually comes around by the end of the vacation. Either way, looking from afar can be all that is needed.
When my daughter was little, sometimes parts of rides, like on the Pirates of the Caribbean, felt too scary for her. My husband would have her sit on his lap and would drape his jacket (or blankie etc.) over her and told her she was safe under the magic blanket. This seemed to work for her if she was unsure or wanted to go on a ride but was afraid of certain parts. She could peek out when she was feeling brave and duck under when she wasn’t. I always encourage people not to push their kids but sometimes, the situation arises and you find yourself with a very frightened child. This strategy might work for you too… but only for tame rides with potentially scary images – not roller coasters etc!!
Monday, June 15, 2015
|Disney's BoardWalk Promenade|
A little gem off the beaten path is Disney’s BoardWalk entertainment promenade. One of my top Disney happy places, it offers something for everyone making it a great place to visit whether you are traveling with young kids, teens or as a couple. Modeled after the turn of the century East Coast Shore destinations such as Atlantic City or Coney Island, this quarter mile boardwalk offers great restaurants, shops and entertainment. It is a short walk out of the International Gateway in Epcot’s World Showcase or a relaxing boat ride from Hollywood Studios. Since there is no direct Disney bus transportation offered between resorts, the quickest access is to take a bus to Disney’s Boardwalk Resort from a park or Downtown Disney.
There are lots of great dining options along the BoardWalk with a wide variety of offerings including Trattoria al Forno, a new Italian eatery which opened December, 2014; Flying Fish, a signature restaurant featuring upscale seafood dishes; and Big River Grille and Brew Works where you can sample beers, enjoy some tasty food and what I especially love, outdoor seating where there is a little more Disney and little less convention feel. The sports lovers in your group will not want to miss the ESPN Club for food, entertainment and shopping, where not only is there a wide variety of all American comfort food and beers, there are also 108 TV monitors linked to 25 satellite feeds. And of course what would a boardwalk be without a sprinkling of kiosks featuring guilty pleasures such as funnel cakes, corndogs and margaritas! Perhaps the walk along the pier might trigger your sweet tooth. No worries, as the Boardwalk Bakery has an array of delicious baked goods to choose from. And just down the promenade is Seashore Sweets where amongst many candies, you can find the traditional salt water taffy which you can enjoy while checking out the display of Miss America pageant memorabilia, both of which helped make Atlantic City famous.
Besides the various food offerings, the BoardWalk offers entertainment too. In the evenings, you can find street performers dazzling a gathered crowd with their magic and balancing acts. There is a small but fun section of midway games where you can test your skills in an attempt to win a prize. For a fee, the whole family can also pile onto a surrey bike for two laps around the BoardWalk. But be forewarned, while most of the BoardWalk looks flat, there are two hills you’ll encounter and you may want to think about your pedal power versus weight ratio!! For adults, there are two entertainment options. The first is Jellyrolls, a sing-a-long dueling piano bar that is great fun. The audience shouts out song requests and good luck stumping the two extremely talented and knowledgeable players. Please note you must be 21 to enter and there is usually a cover charge. At the end of the entertainment promenade is Atlantic City Dance Hall, another 21 and over venue where you can dance the night away to DJ’d music. Typically there is no cover charge here.
On the BoardWalk, you will find other distractions to while away the time such as shopping for a Disney souvenir at Thimbles and Threads or check out Wyland Galleries, a great place to browse nature inspired paintings and grand dolphin sculptures. There are stations for caricatures and hair wraps. And if you are up for a walk around the entire boardwalk that encircles Crescent Lake, you can check out any of the five resorts which all have restaurants, lounges and gift shops to explore. And when the time comes to head back to your resort, you can either use Disney bus transportation or you can request a taxi from in front of any of the resorts.
So when you are looking for some night time entertainment and you’d like an option other than Downtown Disney, try the beautiful and fun BoardWalk promenade. And you’ll see why it’s one of my favorite places on Disney property.
Friday, April 17, 2015
|Guests of all ages enjoying the Biergarten!|
Most people would agree Magic Kingdom is clearly the park at the heart of Walt Disney World. I have never had a family tell me they’d like to see Epcot, Animal Kingdom or Hollywood Studios but they’re thinking of skipping Magic Kingdom. However, despite the fact that each park offers something for everyone, I sometimes hear families ready to ditch Epcot, particularly if they are traveling with younger kids. While I agree, Epcot features many experiences adults love, I wouldn’t be so quick to dismiss an entire park. In fact, I think it is a fabulous way to spend a day with your toddler. And here is why.First, let’s start with the obvious - the attractions created with little ones in mind. The entire family is sure to love The Seas with Nemo and Friends. From traveling under the ocean in search of Nemo, to chatting it up with Crush, to enjoying the real creatures of the sea in a nearly 6 million gallon aquarium, this pavilion can definitely entertain your little one (and you!) for a good portion of the morning. Then there’s the zany world of Figment as you explore the Imagination Institute. After the ride, a fun interactive area can give toddlers and preschoolers the opportunity to get out of the stroller and stretch their legs. And just because much of an attraction may go over their heads, it doesn’t mean they won’t find it enjoyable. My children have always loved riding on the boat in Living with the Land and exploring the history of communication on Space Ship Earth. If your preschooler can sit for a longer ride they just might love seeing real live animatronic dinosaurs in Ellen’s Energy Adventure. And of course, there are various meet and greet opportunities with the lovable Disney characters. Everything I’ve listed so far could easily take you from park opening to nap time! Still want more to do? Take a break in the air conditioned Innoventions West for some fun exploration. Learn money skills with The Great Piggy Bank Adventure as well as life saving tips in Where’s the Fire? where even 5 year olds and younger can learn how to safely exit their home in case of an emergency. Just like their movies, Disney is wonderful at creating entertainment that targets all ages and the attractions at Epcot are no exception. But the attractions are not the only reasons why I love Epcot with younger guests.
Epcot is big. It’s twice the size of Magic Kingdom and it boasts beautiful park like settings with gorgeous gardens and wide walkways. For me, it’s the perfect way to take it down a few notches. Strolling through the areas of Epcot pushing kids in strollers is more akin to a wonderful and relaxing day at your favorite garden park than the sensory bombardment of visiting Magic Kingdom. Several days into your trip of excitement overload, a calmer day at Epcot may be just what the mouse ordered. Besides all the delights I’ve mentioned, there are other features most little ones will love. If you are able to easily take the monorail to Epcot from the Transportation and Ticket center, it’s a great ride that circles inside the park before stopping. Also, once inside the park during the warmer months, pack a change of clothes for your little one as they will want to cool off and romp through the popjet fountains situated in the walkway between Future World and the World Showcase and near Test Track. And speaking of fountains, not only is there the grand Fountain of the Nations which sets off a wonderful display to a fantastic musical score every 15 minutes, but every kid big and small loves the antics of the leaping water fountains tucked up the stairs near Captain EO. Even with all this, I feel like I’ve only mentioned part of the list as there is still live entertainment throughout the World Showcase, a boatride featuring Donald Duck in Mexico and Kidcot Fun Stops where kids can enjoy a quiet, crafty moment around the world. Oh, and did I mention the night time firework/laser show, Illuminations for those not afraid of the big booms??When it comes to a table service meal the youngest guests will enjoy as much as mom and dad, three great restaurants come to mind although it certainly doesn’t stop there. The Coral Reef, part of The Seas with Nemo & Friends pavilion, is a lovely restaurant with windows open to the giant aquarium providing wonderful views of ocean creatures gently swimming by. The Biergarten in Germany is great fun, with a fabulous buffet and entertainment that gets everyone involved while celebrating Oktoberfest, no matter what time of the year. And Teppan Edo in Japan where after enjoying the beautiful koi ponds outside, you can come in to an entertaining hibachi dinner, featuring the amazing cooking skills of Japanese chefs as they prepare your dinner right at your table! What more can you ask for? Delicious food and entertainment that will satisfy the whole family!
Disney World is huge and you can only accomplish so much in one vacation. As you make your touring decisions, remember the reason behind the spark of Walt’s great plan… there ought to be a place where families of all ages can have fun together. Part of the magic of Disney is their ability to appeal to multiple generations at different levels. Remember this as you make your choices. There’s no doubt that Magic Kingdom is the epitome of Disney but I love Epcot as there is no other park like it in the world. It delivers a different kind of magic at perhaps a slower pace. Oh and one more feature for both you and your toddler should they manage to remain awake as you make your way out of the park. Do stop to enjoy the small patch of fiber optics… oops, I mean pixie dust that makes the walkway come to life at night. It is a classic Disney touch that no matter what your age will bring a smile to your face and, you can only see it at Epcot!
Thursday, February 26, 2015
First a little background information: We are a family of five. Our three kids are now teenagers ages 13, 14 and 16 and they are fortunate to have been born of two Disney enthusiasts. They have been visiting Disney World at least once and more typically, twice a year their whole life. When we arrive, they know the highlights have been booked and they simply ask, “Which park today?” while exuding confidence that Mom’s got the details tended to.
I should have recorded the moment we arrived and I announced we had no dining reservations, that I had no clue how we would spend our days and the only plans I had was for a handful of Fastpasses I had booked for the mornings. Ack!! Panic began to set in as their lips quivered under pale faces as they questioned, “You mean we don’t have reservations for the Biergarten… or Crystal Palace? How will we choose which park to go to? What will become of us???” As chief cheerleader I told them to fear not! Disney vacations are really all about being together. We are in the most magical place on earth and we are now free to explore and let the magic unfold!!
On our first night, we decided to head over to Downtown Disney. We hadn’t really explored the newer sections beyond the Lego store in a while and everyone was excited for a fresh adventure. I was excited to check out the relatively new Splitsville, a bowling alley proclaiming to rival all bowling alleys! We did make it there around 5pm and found both floors fairly empty. Perhaps it was the incredibly high price tag for a family of five because while the lanes look like great fun, we weren’t ready to part with $100 for our family to bowl. We did however learn, it was far less to have a billards table for an hour! (I think $20 or less.) With three teens, this was perfect for us! My husband and I ordered up a few specialty cocktails plus sodas and a couple of apps to share. We had a fantastic time together with a little friendly competition and some very creative attempts at trick shots that kept us all laughing! Our fly-by-the-seat-of-our-pants vacation was off to a great start!! Afterwards, we headed out in search of a place to have dinner. I have always heard good reviews about Raglan Road and so we headed there. The place was packed as it was now prime dinner hour. I walked through the crowd of guests waiting to be seated, not feeling very hopeful at all. I told the cast member at the podium our party size and that we had no reservation while hanging my head in shame. He said it would be an hour and twenty minute wait… unless we wanted to eat in the open patio area in which case, they could take us now. WHAT?? As I quickly gathered my flock we were lead immediately to a fantastic table under a beautiful Orlando night sky. There was a small stage not far from us where a four piece Irish band was performing, soon to be followed by Stepdancers. How could this be? All those people waiting for a table inside and here we sat, fantastic food, great entertainment, a wonderful waiter with NO RESERVATION! Okay, the Disney magic had arrived!!
Days in the parks were not much different than our usual well-planned vacations. We are not ones to wait on long lines and we’re happy to zag and zig while the bulk of the crowds find their zig and zag. On night number two, I was excited to see how that Disney magic was going to unfold. We headed out to the Wilderness Lodge figuring if we got there between 5 and 5:30, we should be able to get seating at Whispering Canyon. Okay, so maybe the Disney magic was working with another guest that night because we were quickly turned away with an offer of being seated at 9pm. No worries, we will jump on the boat to Disney’s Contemporary because with all the options on the monorail route, there’s going to be a restaurant that can take us in. Right? Well, not so fast. We first stopped at Chef Mickey’s where we were cheerfully told, of course we can seat you… it will be about an hour and 20 minute wait. (What’s with the hour and 20 minute wait?) Next stop, The Wave, they could seat us in 20 minutes at the bar. Not the dining experience I was looking for, especially with three teens. With a husband and three kids in tow, they sluggishly followed me as we made our way to the Poly and Grand Floridian looking for the proverbial room in the Inn only to be repeatedly told either no or come back after 9pm. I was quickly becoming the target of evil stares and angry under-the-breath comments as my sweet loving family turned into an angry mob. I swear I caught a glimpse of a pitchfork and torch as I tried to quickly lead them somewhere, anywhere for a fun dinner. Where’s that Disney magic now??? Somehow, about an hour and half later, we end up back at Chef Mickey’s where the same cast member was happy to take our name. The smile never broke from her face while she pointed us to the waiting area but I’m sure there was a grin and a snicker hidden behind the kind and friendly face. About 20 minutes later, we were called to come to our table! That gave me just enough time to jump on the My Disney Experience app and make a few key reservations for later in the week. With a little flexibility, I was able to get reservations at the Biergarten for dinner and even scored The Tusker House for breakfast. And on one day, we could have gotten in to the Crystal Palace as a walk up with a twenty minute wait however it was early in the day and no one wanted to give up ride time for a sit down meal.
All in all, we had a fabulous vacation as we always do when visiting our favorite place. However, tensions and some rather unpleasant attitudes boiled to the surface when hunger and disappointment took over. The bottom line is this, if you are an experienced Disney family and you are looking to spice things up a bit, there is a lot to be said for having days with no plans, jumping on the first park bus that pulls up to the resort curb, engaging with lady luck to see where you might land a table service meal etc. Having the Disney app on your smart phone, definitely helps by providing some relatively last minute structure. I personally would only allot for a couple of days in our Disney vacation to be so carefree and wild. I also learned where the threshold lies for my family and their sense of adventure. I also would NEVER, EVER recommend this strategy with young children or grandparents in tow and I am a true believer it’s an absolute, without a doubt, no-no for first timers. I honestly came home from this trip with a renewed sense of pride for what I do for my clients. Disney is truly a special place where magic can be found in surprising ways. With a sense of adventure, a free spirit and a willingness to skip some tried and true attractions while being open to new ones, experienced families can definitely find unexpected fun that can breathe new life into their trip. However, some caution should be taken to not demand too much from the magic of Disney by throwing all planning to the wind. And for most families, having a plan and booking with a Disney expert like a Mouseketrips agent who will help guide you, is truly the key to a fantastic and memorable trip.
Monday, December 1, 2014
Bringing out the kid in us is what Disney vacations do best! Some attractions seem to poke at our inner innocence a little more than others and one of my favorites is Tom Sawyer Island. You could easily dismiss this attraction as you race by on your way to Big Thunder Mountain Railroad or Splash Mountain, but I invite you to slow down and take a closer look. There are no high tech simulations or daring speeds or surprising ghosts to give you a scare. It’s good ol’ all-American fun like we used to have when we were kids and summer meant exploring the woods behind your house with your pack of neighborhood chums.
Your adventure begins with a meandering raft ride across the lazy river where you disembark and set foot in a natural playground full of areas to explore. There is no right or wrong way to go and you will need to forget trying to find a systematic way of approaching this island. Let your imagination transport you back to the days of Mark Twain and you’ll soon find your whole family is feeling like one of Tom and Huck’s co-horts in mischief. As you explore this island, the winding paths will lead you to suspension bridges and grist mills with turning water wheels. You’ll discover Fort Longhorn with click guns, hidden caves and mines, and some neat animatronics tucked away in the barn. For those in need of a rest while the children run around the fort, there are barrels with painted checker boards waiting for someone to play. And there’s air conditioned bathrooms for those needing a pit stop. One of my favorite features is the barrel bridges that are tricky to get across especially when someone is having fun making your crossing even more of a challenge by jumping on a nearby barrel popping yours out of the water!!
So next time you find yourself in the exciting Frontierland of Magic Kingdom, go get wild as you tackle the two mountains but don’t forget to slow it down a few gears and enjoy some simple and wholesome fun. There’s magic around every corner at Disney just waiting to be discovered!
Thursday, September 11, 2014
The new Fastpass+ system can cause stress, BUT, I encourage you to just try and think of it like you are getting three opportunities to bypass waiting in long lines. Your Fastpass selections does not mean that's all you're going to experience that day. Every park has so much to see and do beyond the FP attractions that you don’t want to hyper-focus on this. The beauty of Disney World is the fact that there is always something new and different to do. It is not meant to be conquered in one visit… or two. Heck, I’ve been going two to three times a year for the past twenty years and I’m still enjoying something new with each visit! I know I’ve said it before but I’ll say it again, the magic lies in the journey and spending time with the ones you love – not racing from ride to ride. More rides does not directly translate to more fun!
And just to make it a little easier, and hopefully, a lot less stressful, I make sure all my families receive my personal guide to setting up your Fastpass selections! A lot less stress leaves room for a lot more fun!!