Walt Disney World & World Travels

Posts Tagged ‘Disney World

Christmas Magic allowed it to snow in the atrium of the Carnival Dream

Christmas Magic allowed it to snow in the atrium of the Carnival Dream

Raindrops on Roses and Whiskers on Kittens…those may be Julie Andrews favorite things but not mine.  If you know me at all, it’s pretty obvious what my favorite things are.  I love to travel and I love the holidays (did my 6 themed Christmas trees give it away?).  What’s even better is when you put them together because the memories are something that will last soooo much longer than whatever the current fad toy is, or the clothes that are outgrown before being worn.

There are a few ways to combine my favorite things; you can go away for the holidays or you can surprise everyone with the trip wrapped up under the tree.  Both have their advantages & disadvantages.

Travel over the holidays:  There is something really special about being at Disney World or on a cruise over Thanksgiving or Christmas/New Years.  The decorations, the special events, and all the extra holiday cheer. Getting away from crazy Uncle Fred is another bonus.  I’m about to go on my 2nd Christmas cruise, and I have to say there is nothing like having it “snow” in the atrium on Christmas Eve or spending the day on a Caribbean Island for Christmas day.  It also makes Christmas shopping a lot easier; “Honey, kids; you’re getting a cruise for Christmas”.  Over course the downside is that we will miss a few traditions and the actual travel part of the trip isn’t always warm & fuzzy.  Price doesn’t have to be a downside, especially if you plan in advance.  Book that cruise in June and you’ll be smiling in all your holiday pictures 🙂

Not sure you want to travel during one of the busiest times of the year?  That’s completely understandable!  The best thing to do in that case is plan & book your trip and wrap clues as gifts under the tree.  There are special offers that will let you save money & travel in  Jan/Feb, or book the summer vacation way ahead to save on that and draw out the anticipation.  Taking the family to Disney World?  Maybe your spouse gets a map of Orlando, and little Johnnie & Suzie get post cards from the Main Mouse himself.   Planning a cruise? Sunglasses, sunscreen, map of the Caribbean would be great clues.  There are all sorts of ways to announce the surprise, and it will be a gift that they’ll never forget.

My kids are 20 & 16.  I don’t remember every gift I’ve given them and I know they don’t!  What I do remember is my daughter being named Princess of the Day and opening the doors to the Princess breakfast at Epcot;  the look on my son’s face when he climbed up to the top of St. Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican and the whole family still laughs at the time Dad lost the waterproof camera while cave tubing in Belize.  Who needs remote controlled cars & ugly sweaters?  I may not have pictures to hold in my hand but the memories of cave tubing will never fade.

Wishing everyone a Very Merry Christmas & Happy New Year!  May your holidays be filled with love, family & great memories!

Wow, that was an exhausting week, but it was fun and really exciting!  I was able to go to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter during the opening week, go to both Universal parks, check out a new (to me) resort, and all 4 parks at Disney World.  I’m ready for a vacation from my vacation 😉  I have lot’s of stories & pictures to share.  I’ll be writing separate posts for different parts of the trip, and will have some “guest posts” to give everyone a different perspective.  Please if you have any questions, drop me a note.  I love to get feedback!

Today I’ll keep it short.  I just want to remind everyone that it really gets hot in Florida during the summer and you can’t underestimate how that will affect your trip.  Dehydration happens much faster than you would think possible and heat exhaustion and heat stroke aren’t to be messed with.  I learned a great lesson from Fairy Godmother many years ago and it’s really true; if you notice that your princess or prince has gotten grumpy at the happiest place on earth; they’re already dehydrated.   Grumpiness is a BIG sign of dehydration, followed by lethargy & the blahs.  They may not even think they’re thirsty.  Get them to drink something, anything.   Take bottles of water into the parks with you (it’s fine, Disney allows it), refill them throughout the day using the water fountains.  Now, I’ll admit Florida/Disney/Orlando water sometimes tastes a little different than it does at home.   No problem!  The solution are those single serving packages of kool aid, gatorade, lemonade, etc.   1 little package into a 16 oz bottle of water and ta da, something yummy to drink that keeps you hydrated.   If you don’t have water bottles with you and don’t want to keep spending $$$ on water, sodas, etc; go to any quick service or snack location that has fountain beverages and ask for a cup of ice water.  Disney will give free cups of water if you ask, it’s not bottled water but it’s free and that ice cold water will taste just fine when you’re melting in the parks.

Take breaks from the heat, stay hydrated and you’ll have a fun & safe summer day at Disney.

Thinking it’s time to take the kids to Disney World?  Easy right?  Of course, but this isn’t just your run of the mill trip, it’s Disney World.  There’s a lot of planning to do.    You have to research the resorts….and the different types of resorts: Deluxe, Moderate, Value and Deluxe Villas.  What time of year should you go, and how much of a difference does that make in price?  What about crowds?  If I go at a lower priced season, should I upgrade my resort?   Then once you pick your resort or at least resort type; you think about when & how long of a trip.  What kind of tickets (Magic Your Way Base Tickets or Park Hoppers) and do you add the water parks or not?  Oh and then someone at work mentioned that their cousin just got back from Disney and had some special dining thing.

That’s about the point that many people decide their kid doesn’t really need to go to Disney World and they’ll  just go back to the beach for their annual family vacation.

Don’t give up on the idea of that magical Disney vacation!  It’s a special trip, and deserves to be planned carefully but it doesn’t have to drive you crazy.  There are tons of books available at book stores & at libraries.  Of course there are roughly a gazillion Disney fan sites with information.  My recommendation with the fan sites is that like all things in life, moderation is the key.  A little bit of info is good, but too much can make you insane.   Of course, I always recommend finding a travel agent that specializes in Disney travel.  Check around, you’re not likely to find a difference in price (Disney trips cost the same booked direct through Disney or through an Authorized Disney Travel Planner) but you want someone that is a graduate of the Disney College of Knowledge and has a lot of experience planning Disney trips and personally traveling to Disney.

With my clients, I like to start with the vacation planner that Disney sends out.  I show them the different type resorts, and the individual resorts in the categories.  If they love to fish, want a calm but pretty resort, not too expensive; I might focus on Disney’s Port Orleans Riverside.  This Moderate Resort even has a good old fashioned fishin’ hole.  The client that wants queen size beds, nice restaurants, maybe a fitness center and wants to be close to the parks would be a perfect fit for a Deluxe resort.  Now we just find the one that appeals the most.  It really comes down to personal preferences, a great resort for 1 person may not be the right fit for another.  This is your vacation, pick the resort that fits you (not your cousin, or next door neighbor).

Next we’ll work on when to travel.  Most of the time, you’re going to have a specific time of year in mind because that is what works best for your schedule.  As a Disney travel planner, I’m going to help find the best deals available at that time and the least crowds for you.  If you’re interested in certain events, I’ll make sure that you don’t miss out on Star Wars weekends or the International Food & Wine festival by a day or week.  If you’re considering several different times, I’ll be able to identify the pluses & minuses of each for you.  For young children, going in the early/mid fall (after school has started) or early/mid-spring (before school gets out) are great times to go.  The crowds (and prices) are lower, and the weather is very comfortable.  Teenagers generally can’t miss as much school due to exams and High School athletics, so you may have to go at a busier time of year.   You may think that going in July will be awful, but it can be a great time to take teenagers.  Teens love to sleep in, we all know it so it’s easier to work around it.  The parks will be packed with small children during the day and it will get hot.  The parks tend to empty in the evening (especially after a rain storm) and the parks are generally open late (sometimes until 2 or 3am), the perfect time of day for teens.  My point is, even if you’re going during the busiest week of the year (Christmas), there are ways to plan your days so that you can enjoy your vacation, not be miserable.

Once the resort and dates are picked, the real fun begins.  This is when you start looking at park schedules and making your dining reservations.  I know what you’re thinking, “we don’t know what we’re having for dinner tonight, how do I know what I’m going to want in 180 days?!”   One of the the things that helps me with that, is the idea that this is a special meal; not just Tuesday night dinner.  Knowing that you’re going somewhere where you’ll be eating with Cinderella or at an African Lodge makes a big difference; at least for my family.  I like to look at the park hours and start planning which day(s) I want to go to each park.  Then based on that, I start making the advanced dining reservations.  I  know that if I do want to eat with Cinderella or have dinner at LeCellier in Canada at Epcot; I need to make those reservations 180 days out.  These are popular places, and with the popularity of the dining plan you can’t just walk up to most restaurants and expect to get a table at all, let alone without a 2 hour wait.   There’s that Dining Plan again, the one your cousin mentioned after their trip.  Disney offers several dining plan options.  These dining plans allow you to pre-pay for your meals while you’re at Disney World.  It’s a great way to budget your trip, and it’s convenient.  I’ll write about the dining plan details in a seperate post.  Once I get the “most important” reservations made, I fill in the rest of the schedule making adjustments as needed.

Having someone that has been to Disney World multiple times and knows the parks & resorts to help you plan your trip will make it much easier.  Just remember, this is a vacation, not work!   Do the proper planning before you go and then relax & enjoy your magical vacation.

This is a really cool interactive video! Great way to spend the “day” at Disney from the comfort of your living room.  Perfect pick me up when you can’t get to Disney or are in trip planning stages!

Drew Brees in the ticker tape parade and interview at Disney World on Monday Feb 8, 2010

The video can also be seen on the Disney Parks Blog

One of my favorite things about going Disney World isn’t the rides or even the food; it’s all of the “little things” the attention to detail.

For example, I’m really looking forward to stopping by the Grand Floridian Resort to see the new floor.  I know you think I’ve finally lost my marbles but the new Italian marble floor is something to be seen.  It’s filled with Disney characters and there is even special meaning to the placement of the charcaters.   If you check out the DisneyParksBlog you’ll see pictures, but from what I’ve heard it’s something you really need to see in person to appreciate fully.

It really is the little things that make you forget that you’re in the middle of Florida and transport you to a Magical land.  That’s what I love about Disney World.

The details have been released!  Sign up on Disney’s Give a Day Get a Day website, volunteer a day’s work and you’ll get a ticket to Disney World or Disneyland.  You must be 18 to sign up, but children 6 & up can participate and earn free tickets. One ticket per person, regardless of the number of times you volunteer. Program begins January 1, 2010 and continues until tickets are distributed or until December 15, 2010, whichever occurs first. Your voucher for a free ticket must be redeemed by December 15, 2010, and used on the same day of redemption.

The website has been very busy today, but I do recommend signing up early to make sure you don’t miss out.  This program is a win-win for everyone!  Charity organizations that are desperate for help will get it;  you’ll feel better for having done something “good” and you’ll be rewarded with a free ticket to Disney.

Disney’s Give a Day Get a Day

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