Friday, November 22, 2013


Adventures By Disney - Vietnam, Laos & Cambodia
If your family is ready for a truly exotic vacation, then it would be hard to beat this adventure to Southeast Asia.  This experience embodies why world travel is enriching and transforming.  It's a trip your family would never forget as Disney does a magnificent job of providing an immersive way to experience this region's rich culture, diversity and natural beauty.  While I would leave at the drop of a hat to go on any of the Adventures by Disney, I've saved this one for our final day because it is certainly one that completely intrigues me.  So pour yourself a cup of tea and settle in to dream!

Thursday, November 21, 2013


Adventures By Disney - Australia & Tasmania
Day 9 of our trip around the world brings us to the land down under!  Even Nemo himself would love to explore all the beauty and cultural diversity of Australia.  This is a remarkable adventure where your family can experience first-hand many of the iconic features we associate with this continent from The Great Barrier Reef to Sydney to kangaroos and boomerangs! After today we only have one more day of our incredible journey so be sure to take a few moments to sit back, relax and dream!!

Wednesday, November 20, 2013


Adventures By Disney - Costa Rica!
Does the perfect family vacation include lots of exciting activities and adventure while also being a tad educational?  Then exploring Costa Rica may be the perfect match!  From looking for exotic animals of the rainforest and ziplining along the canopy and more, this Adventure by Disney is a naturalists paradise!   Even if paddling down a river is not your thing, you'll enjoy seeing what this adventure has to offer!

Tuesday, November 19, 2013


Adventures By Disney - China!
Exploring new cultures and experiencing what daily life is like for someone on the other side of the globe is what world travel is all about.  China has so much to offer and particularly in a land where communication can be even more challenging than say Europe, there's no better way to visit than with the guidance and expertise of Disney.  Enjoy this beautiful video and imagine your family on an Adventure by Disney!

Monday, November 18, 2013


Grab your lederhosen and let's go!!  Fairytales, castles, quaint villages and more await!!  And any card-carrying Disney buff must have a trip to Germany on their bucket list to see Neuschwanstein Castle, Walt's inspiration for the original Sleeping Beauty's castle in Disneyland! 

Sunday, November 17, 2013



Now it's time to switch gears a bit.  We are about to crisscross the globe by exploring the Adventures by Disney collection!  These are amazing guided tours that focus on destinations around the world.  There are no Disney characters waiting to sign your autograph book here.  Rather these are exclusive opportunities to world travel with your family under the guidance of Disney's experience and expertise of providing families unsurpassed service. 

So grab your cowboy hat and let me hear a yee-haw as we head out to our country's natural playground, Utah and Arizona!

Saturday, November 16, 2013


Disney's Aulani in Hawaii
Disney's paradise on the main island of Hawaii is Aulani.  Away from the hustle and bustle of Waikiki, this magnificent resort will allow your family to enjoy a first class resort experience with incredible amenities, delicious dining options and wonderful activities that will suit the entire family.  What else would we expect from Disney?  

Friday, November 15, 2013


Disney Cruise to Alaska!

Grab your jacket and some fuzzy mouseears cause today we are off to Alaska!  Who hasn't dreamed of heading north to the final frontier?  What an amazing cruise to share with your family.  The opportunity to visit an incredible destination coupled with all the amenities and magic of a Disney vacation!!

Thursday, November 14, 2013



Disney Cruise Line's fleet is a gorgeous collection of ships.  But the real magic is what they offer onboard!  Not only is there truly something for everyone, but the level of service and the magnitude of the magic is nothing short of what you would expect from Disney!  Join me as we explore what a Disney Cruise can offer your family!  Are you ready to dream?!! 

Wednesday, November 13, 2013


The Disney Cruise Line - no other family cruise line comes close to offering an incredible vacation for the entire family.  The numerous awards and setting the industry standards proves I'm not the only one who thinks so!  Disney just announced it's January through April 2015 sail dates out of Port Canaveral for cruises to the Bahamas and the Caribbean.  One of the highlights of all of these cruises is a day at Castaway Cay, Disney's own private island!  It is truly a paradise and often reported as the best day of the vacation.  Check out this video to see what Castaway Cay is all about and see some of the upgrades recently made.  Disney is always striving to bring their fans the best experience possible.  Once you see this, I guarantee a Disney Cruise will make it to your bucket list!  And when you're ready to make the plunge, be sure to contact me and we'll find the perfect cruise for your family.  Get onboard with making magical memories at sea!!

Tuesday, October 22, 2013



Disney's Art of Animation Resort is the latest addition to the value resorts but it really sits in a class all it's own.  This is truly a magical place where a child's perspective is the number one priority.  As the name suggests, this resort celebrates animation and focuses on four beloved movies: Finding Nemo, Cars, The Lion King and The Little Mermaid.  It begins when you enter the main lobby where one wall is covered with black and white sketches from the four movies and the other is lit up with the colors of an artist's palette.  As you walk through the lobby into the open air, you are first struck by the incredible Big Blue Pool, themed obviously after Finding Nemo.  There are grand sculptures and  fun squirting play areas and you can even listen to some great tunes while you swim under water!  To the right is the Cars building.  Any fan of this movie will love walking along Route 66 as they make their way to their room.  This area also has a second smaller pool which features giant road cones to lounge in.  To the left is The Lion King building.  Incredible sculptures make this area very magical and very photogenic.  Unfortunately, this area beckons to be climbed on but the signs tell us this is a no no.  All three of these sections provide only Family Suites that sleep up to 6 guests. They include a master bedroom with it's own bathroom, a dining/living room area and a second bathroom.  The table and chairs is actually what's called an Inovabed which pulls down into a bed that sleeps one adult or two small kids.  The sofa converts to a pull out double bed.  There is also a mini-kitchen which includes a microwave, coffee-maker, sink and small refrigerator. 
Walking through the Lion King section you will come to the furthest section from the main lobby, The Little Mermaid buildings.  These house regular value rooms with two double beds that accommodate up to four people.  Again, there is another well-themed pool where everyone can feel like a mermaid... or merman!  These rooms are very popular not only because of the theming, but also because they are comparable in cost to the other value resorts while the family suites can run you more than the rooms at a moderate resort.
Overall, this resort is completely magical for any fan of these Disney movies (and who isn't a fan?!).  Young and old will enjoy the whimsical iconic statues and there is no shortage of Disney magic.  The one downside that may prove to be an issue for some adults in particular is the fact that this resort celebrates animation and is very child focused which translates to the colors in the rooms are very saturated and bright and can be busy.  If you are looking for muted more sophisticated tones to calm yourself after a long day in the parks, this might not be the best choice for you.  On the upside, it is compact enough where you feel like you can easily visit and enjoy all four sections.  The food court, The Landscape of Favors, offers great selections for breakfast, lunch and dinner with something for everyone.  Like all Disney resorts, it has the standard gift shop and arcade plus it has a single bus stop for convenient transportation to the parks.  This resort was originally intended as the second half of Pop Century but was re-themed before it began construction.  It is a walk over the Generation Gap bridge to the Pop Century Resort but please note, there is no pool hopping between resorts.
Disney definitely brought the magic to this resort.  It is fun and I'm sure every child would love to stay in any of the four building sections.  Contact me today to see if this resort is right for your family's next stay in Disney World!!

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Two discounts have been released for Disney World -  Play, Stay, Dine and Save offer, and a Winter Offer for room discounts.  Disney only allows you to use one discount at a time, but I will check all options to get you the best possible deal!

Please note, this is NOT a normal package discount like free dining, kids stay and play free or any other offer. There doesn’t appear to be anything included for free, just a discount on the package. We have been finding that for some date and resort combinations, one discount can work out much better than the other.

Stay, Play and Dine Discount Requirements

§  Minimum 3 night stay
§  Maximum 14 night stay
§  Minimum 2 day park pass must be included in the package
§  Dining Plan must be included in the package
§  Walt Disney World® Resort guests staying at a Walt Disney World® Resort value resort must purchase the Quick Service dining plan or better
§  Walt Disney World® Resort guests staying at a Walt Disney World® Resort moderate, deluxe or deluxe villa resort must purchase the Disney Dining plan or better

This discount appears to excludes the Little Mermaid and Family Suite rooms at Art of Animation, 3 bedroom villas, Villas at the Grand Floridian, Deluxe resort suites and the campsites at Disney’s Fort Wilderness. As long as you check in by March 5, 2014, you will receive the discount for your entire stay, based on availability.
The Winter Room Discount Offer

Special room only discounts for select travel dates from January 5 to April 12, 2014.  You must check in during the travel dates in order to receive the discount, however, you can extend your stay past April 12, 2014. Only the nights included in the travel dates will be discounted. You cannot check in before January 5, 2014 and receive a discount. Availability is limited, and not all resorts and room types are available. Some nights may not be discounted, and weekend prices may be slightly higher. Minimum stay requirements may apply for Friday or Saturday arrivals.
Included Walt Disney World Resorts:
Walt Disney World Value Resorts
  • Disney’s All-Star Sports Resort, Disney’s All-Star Music Resort and Disney’s Pop Century Resort –Save 20%
  • Disney’s Art of Animation Resort – Family Suites only – Save 15%
Walt Disney World Moderate Resorts
  • Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort, Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort, Disney’s Port Orleans Resort – Riverside and the Cabins at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort – Save 25%
Walt Disney World Deluxe Resorts
  • Disney’s Yacht Club Resort, Disney’s Beach Club Resort, Disney’s BoardWalk InnDisney’s Polynesian Resort, Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa, Disney’s Contemporary Resort, Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge (standard and pool view rooms), Disney’s Wilderness Lodge Resort – Save 35%
  • Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge (savanna view and club level rooms) and Disney’s Wilderness Lodge Resort (courtyard view and club level rooms)  - Save 25%
Walt Disney World Deluxe Villa Resorts
  • Disney’s Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa, Disney’s Old Key West Resort, Disney’s BoardWalk Villas and Disney’s Beach Club Resort Villas - Save 35%
  • Villas at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge and the Villas at Animal Kingdom Lodge - Save 25%
If the resort you are interested in is not listed above, it still may be included in the discount for some dates, or at a lesser discount. Nights between March 6 – 13, 2014 may not be included in the discount, or may be discounted at a lesser rate.

Contact me to see how I can save on your family’s magical vacation!!

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

DISNEY'S BOARDWALK PROMENADE - A lovely nighttme entertainment option!

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 Kouzzina’s, celebrity iron chef Cat Cora’s Greek inspired restaurant; 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 just expanded with 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.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013


Disney and Fireworks – Two iconic images that simply go together.  It’s also one of those experiences that when you have become a seasoned Disney traveler, it becomes easy to say “Seen that.”  In our attempt to beat the system we tend to try to avoid the mass exodus out of the park or avoid standing amongst crowds by watching it from afar such as from California Grill or the beaches of Disney’s Polynesian. Watching Wishes away from Main Street definitely has its place.  It can add more magic to a wonderful meal; it can offer an opportunity for kids who are not so wild about fireworks to enjoy without the scary booms; and it can provide a wonderful backdrop for a romantic swing on a hammock for two.  But no matter how much you try to rationalize how your feet are killing you and you just want to get back to your resort, there is no denying that watching Wishes amongst the throngs of people, smack dab in front of the castle is an incredibly magical moment whether you’re a first timer or hundred timer. 

On our recent trip, it took a little convincing… okay a lot of persuading, to coax my tired, complaining, “I just want to go to bed” mumbling family to push through the 15 more minutes they’d have to wait for the start of the show.  A quick promise of ice cream to help with the after crowd maneuvers thankfully worked.  I was happy to see my brood of teenagers as engaged as I was during the pre-fireworks show, Celebrate the Magic. This seasonally evolving display where the castle is used as a canvas to project some of Disney’s beloved characters as well as some of the best love-to-hate villains even got them shouting out names as they appeared upon the walls.  A ten minute lapse between the end of Celebrate the Magic and the start of Wishes meant some of the crowd decided to disperse making it easier for us to find a little more personal space.  Thankfully the complaining was minimal during the wait.  I guess they figured there was no budging Mom at this point!  And then it began with the dimming of the lights, a few get-your-attention rockets, the voice of Jiminy Cricket, Tinker Bell flying out from the castle as the swell of a wonderful musical score filled the air.  Suddenly, the iconic moment of being with your family in front of Cinderella’s Castle watching a dazzling display in the night sky had arrived and we were actually living the dream.  We were that commercial I’ve seen a hundred times on TV!  And when it was over, I almost could’ve hugged the stranger I’d been bumping into the past 20 minutes because we’d both know we’d just witnessed Disney Magic together.  So much magic that my kids didn’t even realize the ice cream kiosks had closed for the night.  And walking down Main Street to exit the park didn’t seem so horrible when you’re with a couple hundred people who are also still buzzing from what they just saw.  The shared experience of a magical, albeit exhausting day in the Disney bubble with family and friends breeds a sort of unusual sense of community.  And the long ride back to our resort didn’t seem so bad.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013


It's been a little while since we've been back and re-entry is never easy!!  Thank you to all who followed our journey through Facebook.  I'm glad you enjoyed it and hope it helped you to re-live some of your own magical moments or to imagine the ones yet to come!
As promised, here is a report of some of our gastronomic adventures while visiting Walt Disney World.
I learned a few things with this challenge.  First, for a family who goes to Disney World as often as we do, I was amazed at just how many snack items we have naively passed by through the years.   The second thing I realized was some parks are much more conducive to finding a variety of snacks than others.  As you will see, in my list of ten favorite items we came across, many more selections were from Animal Kingdom and not surprisingly from Epcot, but with only one item from Magic Kingdom and nothing from Hollywood Studios.  I think we need to try harder the next time.  Having said all this, here is our list of tasty treats you might want to search out during your travels:


Chocolate Dipped Elephant Ear – (AFRICA)  Is it an ear or a Mickey head?  Not sure but doesn’t matter, it’s still yummy!  My daughter in particular LOVED this while her brothers thought it was just good.

Apple Blossom – (DINOLAND)  Super Delish!!  All the best parts of grandma’s apple pie and big enough to share!

Frozen Lemonade -  (ASIA)  Okay, so maybe frozen lemonade isn’t too exotic but when you factor in a very hot and sticky day in the Asian jungle and a very cool little shrine just beyond the kiosk that provides a quiet, private retreat with a great view to enjoy said frozen lemonade… well, I considered this a magical moment!!
Fried Wonton Dessert in Yak & Yeti – (ASIA)  OMG!!!  This doesn’t really count as a snack food since it is from the dessert menu of a table service restaurant but there is no way I could not mention this dessert that was featured on the Food Network! Skewers of fresh pineapple and cream cheese wontons, vanilla ice cream and honey vanilla drizzle just does not do this incredible dessert justice!!  It’s the sort of thing that haunts me in the middle of the night!


Red Velvet Whoopie Pie – (THE LAND)  If you are a fan of either Red Velvet Cake or Whoopie Pies, than you are sure to enjoy this sweet treat!  Perhaps it was the mini-chocolate chips all along the edges or the very adorable and edible Mickey Face smiling at me while I took my first bite but I really enjoyed this.
Chinese BBQ Pork Buns and Curry Chicken Pockets – (CHINA)  Less you think we only snack on sugary treats, here are two delicious menu choices from China’s Joy of Tea Stand that at least two of my kids went bonkers over.  I often encourage guests to take a day while visiting Epcot and instead of a formal meal, eat your way around the World Showcase.  This should definitely be one of your stops!  Each item comes as a pair making it perfect for sharing!

Kaki Gori – (JAPAN) – I can hear your comments now, “But Debbie, that’s just a snow-cone in a cup!”  And a French croissant is just a piece of bread.  No need to comment further except to say, go for the rainbow to experience three flavors!!    

The next two selections are so much more than a single item as it really is about the experience.  I simply wouldn’t know how to single out just one treat!

Les Halles Boulangerie & Patisserie – (FRANCE)  Walking into this relatively new shop in the back of the French Pavilion, I was transported to my trip to Paris.  I couldn’t make a decision on just one there either!!

Karamell-Kuche –  (GERMANY)  I never really gave much thought as to all the wonderful things you can do with caramel,  but thankfully the good people at Werther’s Original Caramel can!! 


Giant Cinnamon Roll – (GASTON’S TAVERN)   These legendary rolls have been discussed online and quite frankly, my mouth had been watering to try one since I spotted them back in January.   Unfortunately, they are a lot like Gaston himself, incredible to look at, but full of air and actually rather dull and boring to the taste buds.  A big disappointment but we absolutely loved this tavern so much, we almost didn’t care… almost.
At the conclusion of this little report, I would like to note for honorable mention that a closer look inside the Big Top Souvenirs will reveal an area of fabulous treats with a circus theme.  The candy apples alone are works of art.  And this is what I love most about Disney, that no matter how much you cram into your week… or your mouth, there is always something new to come back and sample!!

I’d love to hear more about your favorite treats while visiting “The Mouse!”

Tuesday, August 20, 2013


We are here!!  Arriving in Orlando Airport always brings me such joy.  My kids still race to the front of the mini-monorail for the best view of this very short but very exciting ride to the main terminal.  It is tradition that someone mentions how this is the best part when our whole vacation is in front of us.
For the first leg of our trip, we are staying at Kidani Village, the Disney Vacation Club section of the Animal Kingdom Lodge.  I had thought we would head right to Animal Kingdom Park so I had made reservations for Yak & Yeti, but the kids were exhausted after a sleepless night filled with anticipation and an early flight to catch this morning.  The general consensus became let’s spend a lazy afternoon at the pool.  By 5 o’clock, everyone was starving and we thought it would be great to go to Sanaa for dinner even though our reservations for this restaurant weren’t until tomorrow.  A quick look online showed there was nothing available before 8:25pm but we were starving now.  We thought we’d just stop by and see what happened and as luck would have it, we were seated right away and enjoyed a fabulous meal.  Now admittedly, we had a couple of factors in our favor as Sanaa is rather off the beaten path and we were there early.  But this whole day highlighted two opportunities to practice what I preach.  First is to plan, plan, plan and then remember when you get here that you’re on vacation.  You should never find yourself sacrificing what you feel like doing for the sake of sticking to an itinerary or reservation.  The second is to always ask.  If I had let my initial search for a dining reservation stop us from asking, we never would have tried and we would have missed out on a fantastic meal.  Disney is in the service industry and if they can make the magic happen, they will.  The worst they can say is no.
I hope you will follow the rest of my family’s vacation on my facebook page where I will be posting several times throughout the day.  I’ve also given my kids an assignment for this trip to help me taste test snack foods we’ve never had.  It’s a tough job but they assure me they are up for the challenge.  I will be blogging about our findings in the weeks to come.  It’s a good thing there are no bad calories in Disney!!  So through the magic of technology, join me as we spend 10 wonderful days in Disney!!

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Been There, Done That, Going Back!!

Just one week from today my family and I will be on our way to the happiest place on earth!  After countless trips (at least 2 to 3 times a year in the past 18 years) I still get giggly excited about going.  Sometimes I get the question “Don’t you get bored going to Disney World year after year?”   And after I take a moment to keep from screaming my unfiltered response of “What are you crazy?” I smile and say no.  I live in northern New Jersey and “going down the shore” is a given for many families in my area.  I often ask if they ever get tired of going to the same beach house year after year, swimming in the same ocean, walking the same boardwalk, visiting the same raw bars and ice cream shops?  That’s when they usually chuckle and say they get it.  I also throw in that not only is Disney World truly dynamic, but as your kids grow, their interests change so it’s never the same vacation twice.  Plus, I let them know I am confident I could plan a completely magical Disney World vacation for their family that would cost no more than what they pay for a week’s stay at the shore.  That’s usually when their eye’s grow wide!  Disney has the reputation of a hefty price tag and I totally agree that yes, it’s very possible to quickly spend a King’s ransom in a short amount of time, but I also know that Disney has options for every budget, all of which deliver a healthy dose of Disney magic.  It just takes a little Disney know-how and a little planning.  That’s of course where I come in!!
So even if you have the slightest thought of making your next family vacation a Disney vacation, give me a call and with no obligation or pressure, let’s explore the possibilities together and see if we can come up with a plan that fits your budget while being big on magic!

Tuesday, August 6, 2013


This week’s message is short and sweet and the #1 rule I share with families.  LET THE MAGIC COME TO YOU!!  I am a strong believer in planning and this couldn’t be truer than when you are visiting Disney World or Disneyland.  It’s a huge part of the services I offer my families and I would never suggest to even the most seasoned Disney family to just go and wing it.  However, having said that, I also say plan, plan, plan and then in the words of Captain Barbosa, “[let them be] more what you’d call guidelines than actual rules.”    Every family should have their handful of top must-dos for the day but it’s important to remember it’s the journey, not the destination.  There is magic all around you but if you are racing from ride to ride, you will certainly miss it.  Some of my favorite family moments have been the surprise around the corner whether it’s a troupe of street performers or saxophone bands.  Sometimes it’s taking a closer look at cement walkways that sparkle with fiber optics… oops, I mean pixie magic, when the sun goes down.  Resist the urge to drag the kids away from something that has peaked their interest in an attempt to get to that popular ride while the wait time is low.  Or it could very well be the reverse of that where you want to stop and watch the fountains while your kids are clamoring to grab fastpasses to Soarin’.   Now I completely admit that between things like dining reservations, scheduled character meet and greets, and Disney moving in the direction of fastpasses being pre-scheduled, it is getting harder and harder to let go of your phone or watch and just let your vacation unfold.  No longer can you simply walk up to a restaurant expecting to get in and when you do have reservations, they are getting stricter with the window of time they will hold your reservation.  Vacation is supposed to be rejuvenating by releasing you from the grinds of your everyday life and all these “signs of progress” are making it more challenging to leave your iphone behind and disengage from the outside world.   This makes it even more important to stop and smell the roses - such as when you are leaving the World Showcase making your way through the rose garden path to Future World in Epcot.   Disney is truly a magical place but the real magic is what happens when you slow down and let it reveal itself usually when you least expect it.  It is not the rides and attractions but the time spent with family and the people you love most that is the cornerstone of a Disney vacation.  Make that your priority, let your days unfold together, and the magic will fall in place.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

In Search of Disney Stars!

Once upon a time, a long time ago, seeing your favorite Disney character required a great deal of searching and a whole lot of luck.  For the sake of “keeping it real”, characters would never be at two places at the same time keeping the experience of running into your favorite mouse or duck as authentic of an experience as running into your favorite celebrity on the streets of LA.  Okay, well maybe a little easier but you get the point.  It soon became clear that Disney’s guests wanted more.  In fact, we were down right adamant about it.  Thankfully, the powers that be listened and now getting the opportunity to meet and greet your favorite is not as difficult as you might anticipate.  Today I’m going to share how best to make the introductions happen. 
First of course is the obvious.  Book  a character meal.  While the appearance of certain characters is never guaranteed, it is guaranteed that you will meet all the characters making the rounds during your meal.  If at any time you have finished your meal and a particularly allusive character has managed to miss your table, be sure to let your waiter/waitress know and they will ensure a meeting.    
Second, each park has areas where characters are scheduled to make an appearance.  Some meet and greets are actual attractions running pretty much throughout the day.  Others are at scheduled times at different locations.  When you enter a park, be sure to pick up a Times Guide.  All the scheduled characters will be listed along with the where and when they will make their appearance.  If you are ever in doubt or are struggling to find a particular character, simply turn to one of the many knowledgeable Cast Members and they will surely help.
Certainly stumbling across a character when you least expect it is one of the many magical moments you will be sure to experience.  You don’t have to actually get in line to enjoy seeing a character.  My teenage kids may not feel the need to get a hug and picture but it always gives a small thrill to spot a character along our way. 
Some final thoughts and Do’s and Don’ts:
If your child is into the characters and getting autographs, do have them make their own autograph book as you anticipate your vacation.  It makes a great souvenir to have hand drawn pictures of favorite princesses or characters which are then signed.  These make better treasures than the standard autograph book found in every souvenir nook around the World.
Perhaps turn your autograph book into a scavenger hunt.  Before you leave home, each child can pick ten characters to draw in their book.  Than as you walk through the parks, see who you find.  This way you don’t have to stop for every one.

Do be respectful of other family’s time with a character.  It’s not fair to carry on and shout out to a character when it’s someone else’s turn to interact.

Do respect the handlers.  Their job is to keep the characters safe.  This means helping with more “enthusiastic” guests but mostly keeping an eye on the time for regulated breaks.  As you can imagine, it can get incredibly hot, incredibly quickly inside.  When the handler says it’s time for a character to go, they need to go and when they say they will be right back in ten minutes, they will be right back in ten minutes.

Finally, many children are afraid of the characters.  This is okay.  The characters are great at dealing with this and you shouldn’t force them to get close or take a picture.  If your child is afraid, perhaps start with the face characters, ones without masks like Cinderella or Mary Poppins.  This may help them warm up.  But if not, that’s okay too.  Sometimes characters are more entertaining from afar.

Do let me know your child’s favorite characters when I book your next trip.  Or perhaps you’re the one eager to meet a Disney celebrity.  I will do my best to make sure you know how to navigate your encounter with the stars.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013


Overwhelming!  That is the adjective I hear most when first time families begin to plan their Disney vacation.  It is the number one reason why newbies seek me out.  But what about the seasoned Disney traveler?   You know the parks as well as I do.  You have your proven strategies to maximize your ride time and your family’s a well-oiled machine when it comes to working the Fastpass system.  You even know exactly which restaurants you like.  In fact, you’ve probably helped others plan their Disney vacation as well.  So why would you need or want to book through me when you can do it on your own?   The simple answer is time and money and not necessarily in that order.
When you call Disney to book your vacation, you are connecting to The Walt Disney Travel Company which is the services The Walt Disney Company employ to help guests book tickets and reservations.  As a travel agent, I too am booking your vacation through the Walt Disney Travel Company except I’m working through their agency hotlines.  There are absolutely no price differences or benefits to you calling in your own reservation directly versus me booking it for you.  The numbers are exactly the same.  I do however bring one critical advantage to the table. 

I work with Mouseketrips, where we are an Authorized Disney Vacation Planner. This means we are recognized by the Walt Disney Company for our experience and expertise in planning Disney vacations.  What this means for you is I am in the loop for knowing about every offer and deal that Disney presents.  When I book your trip, I know exactly which offers you qualify for and will ask for those prices to be applied.  But typically, offers become available after people have already booked.   I keep track of all my families and when new offers come out, I automatically rebook every family’s vacation that qualifies to get them the same package at a better price.  You don’t even have to know the deals came out or ask me about it as you will probably first learn about the Disney offer when you receive an email from me telling you I just saved you money!   And you probably wouldn’t even be aware that I woke up early the day the offers became available and sat on hold for up to three hours to make sure my families got in on that offer.  When you call Disney directly, they will not tell you about the offers available, you have to know and ask.  They will not say to you, “Hey, if you adjust your vacation by one day, you would qualify for this deal that will give you free dining.”  I would.  I act in the same way your realtor or your attorney would.  I work on your behalf, and making sure your family has just the vacation you want, for the least possible price is my number one priority.

I love working with families who are new to “the mouse” but I also love working with seasoned Disney families as well.  I love our enthusiastic conversations that always end in a volley of “oh, have you ever tried…”.  And I always learn something new from your expertise and sometimes I offer something new to you too.  I know that for Disney families, the planning is sometimes a huge part of the joy of a Disney vacation.  I’m here to help you as much or as little as you would like.  My role is not to tell you how you should vacation in Disney -  you’re already an expert in that.  My job is to be your advocate.   I hope the next time you are ready to book another Disney vacation, you will be happy to call me knowing I am here ready to make sure you’ve paid the least amount for the most magic.  And if you need another Disney nut who is always ready to chat about anything from Astro Orbiters to Zazu encounters and anything Disney in between, I’m just a phone call away!