Disney From Our Point of View….

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What’s New…and What’s Around the Corner!

Laura Holcomb

If you have been following our blogs during this open house you probably have learned a lot about what Disney has to offer your family! Here are just a few more things…..

Do you want Disney quality accommodations at a beach location? With Disney’s Hilton Head or Vero Beach resorts you have two great options! They are both located in great spots within those locations and give your family a wonderful place to call home while soaking in the sun!

I was invited to the Grand Opening of the New Fantasyland and had a chance to hear about some of the upcoming changes to Disney! What an amazing 3 days! So much to come in the future you will not want to miss it!

Within the last year Disney has seen some exciting things happen! Here are just a few:

  • The much anticipated Carsland opened at Disneyland ‘s California Adventure along with some other updates.
  • Downtown Disney at Disney World saw the opening of Splittsville! A unique bowling alley where martinis and sushi can accompany your spares and strikes!
  • Fantasyland doubled in size! Additions to Dumbo were made along with new rides and experiences now and to come in the near future. The new Be Our Guest Restaurant is AMAZING… nestled in the Beast’s Castle  you really feel like you are in the movie!
  • Test Track was remodeled and reopened giving you the opportunity to do some car design of your own before you take a spin!
  • Art of Animation Resort opened and it is fantastic! Talk about feeling like you are right in the movies!!! The family suites are a great option if your family is a little larger or you just want a bit more space. Don’t  worry…there are still standard rooms there as well.
  • Limited Time Magic – special surprises and experiences throughout the year within the WDW resort!
  • Disney decided that standing in line needed some updating…you will find new experiences and hands on activities now while you wait at some attractions. They are using this time to get you ready for what is to come!

So what’s to come….

Technology!!!! Around the corner is My Magic +….details will be out soon, but essentially being able to pre-plan more of your trip, using smartphones, apps and a special new item called the Magic Band are all things that will take the most magical place on earth to the next level.

This is such an exciting time for making memories at Disney! Call us today for more details!

And remember ~ We do the work ~ YOU enjoy the MEMORIES!!!!!

A Disneyland Review…

Michael Koritansky

This is where it all began with Walt Disney’s vision of what a true family theme park should be. Disneyland, in Anaheim, California, is America’s second-most popular theme park, behind the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World. While Disneyland is smaller than the Magic Kingdom, it packs many more rides and shows into the theme park, including superior versions of classics such as It’s A Small World, Pirates of the Caribbean and Space Mountain.

Disney’s California Adventure is the second theme park at the Disneyland Resort in Anaheim.  It is located just steps away from the original Disneyland Park.   Disney rededicated California Adventure on June 15, 2012, debuting the park’s $1 billion-dollar makeover.  The makeover features an all-new entry land – Buena Vista Street, themed to the Los Angeles Walt Disney first moved to in 1923. On that same day, Cars Land, a re-creation of Radiator Springs from the Pixar animated film, also debuted.  Other recent additions include The Little Mermaid: Ariel’s Undersea Adventure, a dark ride, and the spectacular night-time fountain and light show, World of Color.

The Disneyland Resort in Anaheim offers one of a kind attractions and shows that are only available in California such as: Indiana Jones Adventure, Finding Nemo: Submarine Voyage , Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln and A Salute to the Golden Horseshoe Revue at Disneyland.   At California Adventure you can experience Radiator Springs Racers, Grizzly River Run, California Screamin’ and the Aladdin live stage show just to name a few.

Those of you who have been to Walt Disney World and spent a week or more at the resort may find that The Disneyland Resort can usually be navigated within two to three days. Because of this, you can take time to experience some of the other attractions the Southern California area has to offer such as Hollywood, Knott’s Berry Farm, Sea World and the San Diego Zoo.

And finally for those who want to be totally immersed in the Disney experience, you can add on the Adventures by Disney “Southern  California”.  On this adventure you will receive special VIP access to Walt Disney Imagineering, the Walt Disney Studios, The Jim Henson Company Studios and even the Disneyland Resort!


Disney Pin Trading

Natalie Steigner

Disney pin trading is one of my family’s favorite things to do at Disney World! Pin trading is a great way to interact with cast members and other guests who are at Disney World. It also gives our family a chance to slow down the pace as we go through the parks.

To get started you will want to purchase a lanyard and a starter pack of pins. You will see cast members and guests wearing their pins around their neck or on their hip. Some cast member lanyards are green and this means they will only trade with a child 12 and under. The cast members are very strict about this!!

Some pin collectors like to look for pins that have a Hidden Mickey head hidden somewhere on the pin or some like to look for limited edition pins( you can find this on the back of the pin). You may just want to look for pins you like!

Ask the cast members about their pins or the pin trading process. Most cast members love to talk.  As we were talking with cast members we learned that the pins were not their own, they belonged to Disney. You will find cast members are very friendly and they love to let you take a look at their pins. The only time they will not trade is if they already have the pin you are trying to give them on their lanyard.

You will find that there are so many different pins out there. As we walk through the parks my husband and sons check out every cast member’s pins. Sometimes my daughter and I turn around and they are not walking with us! All we have to do is find a cast member and there are the boys!!

As the boys talked with cast members they discovered that Disney has a whole collection of special pins. Every month Disney puts out new sets of pins. A cast member at our hotel printed out a paper with all the sets. It turned into a scavenger hunt, which made for so much more fun throughout the parks. They looked at the sets and decided on which ones they wanted to collect and set out to find every pin of every set they wanted. I cannot tell you the excitement they had when they completed a set!

One year they met a cast member in our hotel store who collected pins. He told the boys which pins he needed and my boys ended up finding every pin the cast member needed. They were so excited to present this cast member with the pins. There are also pin traders who set up pins at downtown Disney. They will trade pins with you. They will tell you what pins they are looking for and what they will give you for them. You just have to watch out because some want a lot more than what they are willing to trade. Sometimes it is a way to get a pin you are having a hard time trying to find.

We also discovered that most hotels have pin boards that you can trade with. This gave us a reason to go check out some of the hotels around Disney. I hope when you go to Disney you will give pin trading a try. You may find a it to be a new adventure!!

Adventures By Disney

Laura Holcomb

This article is just meant to introduce you to Adventures by Disney….there is so much to learn about we would not have enough room here!!!

ABD is a top rated tour company that travels the world. Unique to ABD is that they carefully plan their adventures to really include activities for children that will immerse them into the culture and history of where they are yet they keep it fun and exciting. So are you wondering is this a child themed tour? It is the perfect tour for every person at every age in your family! There are times where children have their own special tour of a location while the adults have theirs…so everyone is experiencing things on their level! There are hands on activities galore, fine dining, great hotels, knowledgeable tour guides and specialist all along the way!

If you are thinking that you would be touring Italy, Germany or any of the fascinating countries with Minnie and Mickey… no you won’t be! Think the quality of Disney, not the characters!  Not only can you do these tours with a family or without…Disney also offers adult only tours as well!

And don’t forget…ABD offers great options for touring our own country as well! For more information check out the Disney Destinations page on this site!



Visiting Walt Disney World for the First Time

Leslie Hathaway

Leslie Hathaway Just like most every person, I grew up on Disney.  From watching “The Wonderful World of Disney” on Sunday nights, to watching cartoons on Saturday mornings, Disney was a great part of my childhood.  When my daughter was born, the Disney magic was reignited.  We enjoyed watching the Disney movies together.  “The Fox and The Hound”, “Beauty and The Beast”, and “The Brave Little Toaster” were among our favorites.

My first visit to Walt Disney World came in 2011.  I visited all of the Disney Parks while doing “hands on” training for the travel agency.   I was a little unsure of what my visit would be like, and when I first arrived, it was a little overwhelming.  There was so much to see….so much to do!  But the more time I spent, the more I felt like a child again!

I was able to visit almost every resort at Disney.  Each was unique in their own way and each was incredible to visit.  The swimming pools at the each resort were beautiful and definitely a wonderful place to lounge for a day.  The transportation system was very easy to navigate.  You can go by bus, rail, or boat very easily from your resort to the parks.

When I arrived at the first park, I was given a “First Visit” button to wear.   The cast members were very friendly and when one would see my button, I was always asked how I was enjoying my visit.  That made me feel special that I was acknowledged in a small way.   I was also impressed by the level of customer service.  Cast members were friendly and smiled and greeted each and every guest.  They were also very approachable when you had a question or needed some direction.

Everything about Disney was magical!  I loved the animatronics that Disney uses in their shows.  Watching the Hall of Presidents at Magic Kingdom made me feel like I was right there with each and every President of the United States.  The countries at Epcot were wonderful to visit and gave me a good sense of what it would be like to visit the real country.  Hollywood Studios is a must visit for anyone who is a movie lover, and I would recommend riding the “Star Wars” simulator ride.  There are 50 different endings, so each ride is different!  And at Animal Kingdom, the Tree of Life animal carvings are a must see!  Each park also has its own nightly show or a daily parade.  Who isn’t instantly transported back to childhood when they see the fireworks over Cinderella’s Castle in Magic Kingdom?

Don’t think that Disney is just for kids.  Disney is for the young at heart.  Visit Disney and be a kid again.  There is so much to experience!   I am certainly looking forward to the day when I can revisit the most magical place on earth!

Aulani: A Hawaiian Dream

Kenneth Holcomb

If you are looking for a chance  to get  away from every day life, and to dive deep into heritage and culture, then to  Hawaii is your destination.  Located on the island of Ko’ Olina  sits Disney’s Aulani Resort.  Jam packed with Hawaiian art and design, along with Hawaiian cultural activities, entertainment, excursions, and so much more, Aulani is a magical paradise to bring the whole family together for a vacation of a lifetime.

From quick service dining all the way to fancy eating, the food quality is nothing but the best.  Feel free to grab a quick appetizer or Continental breakfast at the ‘Olelo Room.  Or, how about relaxing back with a drink or two from the superb open air, seaside lounge called Of The Hook.  Resembling a fisherman’s sea-side shack, Off The Hook brings you your favorite drinks and Hawaiian styled appetizers.

If you are looking for some one on one relaxing time with that someone special, the 359 hotel rooms (including 16 suites) and 481 villas (including 21 grand villas) will be nothing short of a dream getaway! And for your kids and young adults, Aulani brings rare and unique experiences to life.  For the younger children, send them off on a day to Auntie’s Beach House.  Full of Hawaiian culture and fun, the wee ones will have a fantastic day.  For the older ones, Painted Sky is a spa and lounge designed only for teens.  Supervised and ran by the most expert of staff, your teens will have the time of their lives being pampered and treated with the utmost care.

A week in this paradise, surrounded by the luscious Pacific Ocean, will definitely take care of all your vacation needs.  Sit back, Relax, and let Disney’s Aulani Resort give you the vacation of your dreams.


Should We Stay On Site or Off Site?

Heather Weyls

The question always comes up about whether to stay on-site at a Disney property or find a less expensive off-site hotel and make the trek to the parks everyday.  I have done both with my family and there are definitely advantages on both sides, but for our family, the on-site option works a little better!  The advantages and disadvantages really need to be weighed before a final decision is made.

I will start with the on-site advantages!  Being at a Walt Disney World resort offers many benefits that you cannot access at an off-site hotel.  Before you even check-in to your Disney resort you can experience a benefit of Disney on-site service!  Disney’s Magical Express is only offered to guests staying at a Walt Disney World resort.  The Magical Express is basically free shuttle service from the airport to your resort and then back again at the end of your vacation.  The added benefit is that you can check you luggage at your home airport and Disney will take it from there!  Your luggage will be delivered right to your hotel room usually within three hours of your arrival.  So once you check you bags at the airport you don’t have to worry about lugging them around!  This service is also available for your departure and check out.  All you do is check your bags at your resort and get on the Magical Express, then your bags will be waiting for you at your home airport.  It is so convenient!

You can only get the Disney Dining Plan if you are staying at a Disney resort.  We have tried both ways, and having the Dining plan is well worth the money!  Food in the parks can be quite expensive, but if you have already paid for the Dining Plan you don’t have to worry about the cost of food!  There are a few Dining Plan options, but the “regular” Dining Plan includes a table-service meal for every night you stay, which means you get to eat at one of the restaurants that require a reservation.  This could be character meals or just a sit down meal at a restaurant.  It is definitely an advantage to staying on-site!

Another benefit of staying on-site is the availability of Extra Magic Hours.  Everyday, one of the Disney parks has extended morning or evening hours for resort guests only.  This could be as early as one hour before opening to the public or up to three  hours after the scheduled closing time.  This is so worth it!  If you get to the parks first thing in the morning, even before the general public is invited in, you can get to so many rides and attractions!  It makes for a much less stressful afternoon of waiting in lines and fighting busy crowds!  If you have seen most of what you want to see in the morning, then the afternoon can be more relaxed and slow-paced!  The after-hours option also gives you the choice to get to the parks a bit later in the day, because you will have at least a little time in the park once the general public has left for the day.  This is a really nice perk Disney offers to it’s resort guests!

If you are driving to Walt Disney World and staying at a Disney resort, you get free parking at the theme parks.  You are always welcome to use Disney’s free transportation system which includes monorails, buses, and boats, but if you choose to drive, the free theme park parking is a huge benefit!  Parking at the theme parks is $14 per day, but if you have the resort parking ID you will just get waved right through the gates!

Finally, there are several smaller benefits available to Disney resort guests.  Your room key is really an all-in-one card that has everything you need for a day in the parks.  It is your park ticket, dining plan card, and also gives you the ability to charge purchases to your room without having to carry around any other form of payment.  You can also have your purchases delivered right to your room instead of lugging them around the parks all day.  The proximity to the theme parks and amazing Disney themed resorts are a great way to add to the “magic” of your Disney vacation.

The benefits of an off-site resort are also something to consider.  The Disney resorts do tend to be more expensive than the off-site hotels.  However, Disney has partnered up with many of the hotels in the area to provide Good Neighbor Hotel packages, which include accommodations at a Walt Disney World Good Neighbor Hotel, magic your way base tickets, transportation to and from the parks, and keepsake luggage tags.  So you don’t HAVE to stay on-site to take advantage of some of the Disney magic!  Of course, you need to consider the cost of food into this sort of vacation, because you are not able to take advantage of the Disney Dining Plan in this case.  Remember, food in the parks can get quite expensive!  Staying off site may be a great way to save some money if you are looking to travel to Disney on a dime!

As I stated at the beginning of this article, I have done Disney vacations both on-site and off, and while I enjoy the money-saving value of staying off-site, I just feel like I enjoy the convenience and “magic” we feel when staying on-site!  Of course, being the Disney fans that we are in my family, I would be happy to get to Disney any way possible!

Group Travel

Tom Greene

 Planning a weeklong trip to WDW for the Fairport Harbor HS marching band was not only a lot of fun, but also very rewarding!  I was so proud that we were able to put together a plan that not only gave them everything they were looking for, but at a lower price than the trip they’d taken before 4 years earlier.  The group of 30 kids and 9 adults traveled by bus over-night, arriving in Orlando early enough to relax for a while before hitting some of the other popular area attractions. The following day at Disney the group got to take part in 2 different workshops while splitting the rest of the day between 2 parks. They opened Epcot with they’re very own parade the next day, and spent the last 3 days enjoying the parks.  The most fulfilling part of doing this trip was the ability to actually go with the band and make sure the time of every day was maximized to the fullest. Every part of the their itinerary was carefully planned out, yet included enough
flexibility to accommodate different tastes, from multiple locations to choose from for meals, to park hopper passes to enjoy any park on any day.  “Ideal” schedules were given out and carefully covered each day with highlights, hints, and tips for enjoying the parks.  By the end of the second day nearly a third of the group was doing everything together while I acted as their “itinerary manager” throughout the day… word had gotten out that hanging out with me meant getting to see and do more than everyone that didn’t!  The opportunity to travel with our client was reassuring that we’re doing things right too.  I’m confident that we’ll be working with this group again in the future as well. Everyone was thrilled with everything we were able to put together for them, especially for the price!

Thrill Rides…

Natalie Steigner

Are you the type of person who likes thrill rides? I bet you never thought Disney World would be the vacation adventure for you. Today I want to show you what Disney has to offer for all of you who like high adventure rides. If it is roller coasters that thrill you, well Disney has that for you. Take a ride on the Rock ‘N’ Rollercoaster. This coaster starts off going from 0-60MPH in 2.8 seconds. Talk about a thrill, this will take your breath away. Travel through the dark going through many twists and turns, two loops and a corkscrew all while listening to Aerosmith. You will want to ride this more than once. Next test out Expedition Everest located in Animal Kingdom in Asia. Travel up Mount Everest going forward and backwards on this adventure, but be on the look out for the Yeti. He could be at any twist or turn on this ride. Over in the Magic Kingdom you can travel to Mars on Space Mountain. This roller coaster is quite a thrill as you travel completely in the dark. You never know which way the coaster will take you. I have tested each one of these rides and would recommend each one of them.

You want a thrill ride, but not a roller coaster? Disney has that too. Head on over to Epoct. Take a ride on Soarin’ or Mission to Space. Soarin’ will take you hang gliding over California. Glide over the ocean, the orange groves, the Golden Gate Bridge and much more. This ride had me really believing I was hang gliding. I started kicking my feet trying to touch the ocean and I reached over to hold onto my three year old son to make sure he would not fall. This ride is so realistic. You will love it!! Mission to Space is a realistic flight into space. Have you ever wondered what it would be like to be an astronaut? Well this ride is a must. This ride simulates the speed and the G-force of the launch of the rocket.  My sister rode this ride and said she had to keep telling herself “this is not real”. If you feel this may be too much for you do not worry. Disney as two versions of Mission to Space. Do you like heights? Tower of Terror in Hollywood Studios or Characters in Flight in Downtown Disney are for you. Tower of Terror takes you into the Twilight Zone. As you travel through the Twilight Zone to the top of the hotel prepare yourself to take a major drop. You never know how many times the elevator will drop you!! How about a hot air balloon ride? Over in Downtown Disney you can hop aboard Character’s in Flight. This balloon takes you up into the air about 10 miles high. You will have a breath taking view of Downtown Disney and the surrounding Disney properties, but do not worry the balloon is tethered to the ground. My sons and husband tested this ride out and said it was scary. They would not even go to the edge of the railing. This was most definitely a thrill for them. One last thrill ride is DINOSAUR located in Animal Kingdom. Hop into your time rover and travel back to pre-historic time

You will travel through a dark forest looking for dinosaurs. Be prepared for bumps and jerks as you travel through rough terrain. Be on the look-out!! You never know when a dinosaur may try and attack. I was not prepared when I rode this for the first time. To be honest I got a thrill I never expected!! I cannot let you in on the secret. I will say plan your Disney vacation now and go find out for yourself!!

Disney with Babies!

Cheryl DeFranco

Planning an upcoming trip for my family to Walt Disney World is exciting, and also different, as we have a new family member joining us this trip, 7 month old Lucy!   It has been a while since I have gone to Disney with a small child, so I have been refreshing my mind on all that Disney has to offer parents visiting with babies.   These tips will be used by my family this spring, and hopefully will be useful to someone else!

  • Disney has done a great job at building a whole family experience, and if a ride doesn’t have a height requirement, baby can ride!   This means there are many rides in each of the parks that baby can enjoy right along with you – even rides like Toy Story and Pirates of the Caribbean!
  • For more intense rides that parents want to ride but babies cannot, you can utilize Disney’s “child swap” option.  Not widely publicized, it is a great option.   When entering the line, ask if this option is offered.   The Disney Cast Member will then instruct you to enter the queue.  Once you’re at the boarding area, let the Cast Member know that you want to “child swap”.   They’ll show you where to wait with the baby while the rest of your party enjoys the ride.  Once they get back, you hand the baby to them and take your turn without having to get back in line!
  •   Each of the four parks has a little known gem, called a Baby Care Center.   Locations within each park are noted on the park map.  The Baby Care centers are quiet and air-conditioned, a wonderful break  place with baby during the warmer months. They have multiple changing tables, a darkened seating area, electric outlets for breast pumps, kitchen equipment for warming food or bottles, and a supply of baby food, formula, and diapers for sale.
  • Disney hotels supply a “crib” if you are travelling with an infant.   Actual “cribs” are extremely limited though, and you are more likely to be given a standard pack and play for baby to sleep in.   Might be a good idea to have baby practice sleeping in a pack and play at home before asking he or she to sleep in one on vacation.
  • Important when travelling with an infant (and an idea I am attempting to work on myself), is to adjust any preconceived expectations of what park days will be like.  Baby doesn’t care how many rides you go on or how efficiently you work your way through the parks.   They may be more interested in watching a puddle on the ground than the Broadway quality show going on in front of them, and that’s ok!   Take time to slow down and smell the roses.  Plan for more breaks and downtime.  My goal is to leave my expectations back in Cleveland, and enjoy the little moments.   They are sure to add up to wonderful memories!

Food Allergies & Disney World Resorts

Kim Fletcher

As a mom with a child who has severe food allergies to milk, it is very important to me that he gets the same food experiences as his sister. Many times, I find that I have to pack a sandwich or another treat while his sister gets to have the full on restaurant experience.

When booking our dining at Disney, we made it known that we did have a food allergy at the table, thinking my son will get the standard allergy meal, grilled chicken with steamed veggies. Which is great if you are my age, no so fun if you are 3!

Our first dining experience was at Chef Mickey’s. Upon check-in, the hostess informed us that Chef will be coming to our table to discuss dining options for William. The chef came out shortly as we were seated and gave me a personalized tour of what William could eat, then went on to extend his kindness if there is nothing at the buffet that tickled his fancy, he would personally make him whatever he liked. Luckily for Chef, William chose dairy free chicken nuggets and French fries with a side of roast beef and carved turkey. After dinner, Chef brought out a personalized dessert of Tofutti ice cream complete with sprinkles. My husband and I were not expecting them to go as above and beyond as they did.

The next night our dining experience was at Coral Reef, again the Chef came out and made William a personalized meal complete with those French fries and ketchup! (A William standard) This time, William picked a raspberry sorbet for dessert, which was delightful!

The following evening, we dined at the Sci-Fi Drive In. The chef again, personally came out to our car and brought William, his own dairy free turkey burger with fresh fruit and a dairy free slushie, so he would not feel left out on our milkshakes. For dessert, William picked the Tofutti ice cream and was happy to eat it with Mickey sprinkles.

At Tusker House for lunch the next day, William was in heaven! Hummus heaven! The chef came out and again gave me a personal tour of the food stations and let me know what William could eat. Since that day, a lot of the food choices had dairy in them, the Chef made William his own homemade chicken nuggets, pita chips, and hummus! William ate them all and chose more homemade hummus for dessert!

This pattern continued for the rest of our table service meals. Each time we would sit down, the chef would go above and beyond to prepare William’s food and make him feel special! He never left the table hungry!

As far as quick service, we were again treated like royalty. The Quick Service employees were knowledgeable about each ingredient in their products. We found Sunshine Gardens, Wolfgang Puck Café, and La Catina de San Angel had many dairy free healthy options. Wolfgang Puck Café even made William his own pizza with dairy free sauce and crust.

With so many snack options on the dining plan, William could choose from many options. He even got his Mickey Mouse Popsicle, fruit slushie, and a pretzel!

The best plan when it comes to food allergies is to plan ahead with your travel consultant and let them know of dairy restrictions when making the dining reservations. It is also helpful to let your travel consultant know what your food preferences are, so he/she can plan out a great game plan while enjoying your vacation!

Bon Appetite!

How a Trip to Disney Can Benefit Your Organization

 Eileen Findak

Did you know that just by going to Disney for your family vacation, you can help out a non profit organization? Well, you can! Memories and Moments Travel can team up with any non profit organizations to receive a donation for any Disney trips booked through us. Let us know what organization you would like us to work with. We will contact them and if they agree to work with us, then all you have to do is let us know who you wish the donation to go to.

The best thing about this type of fundraiser is that it does not interfere with any fundraisers you already have and there is very little the organization needs to do. For the non profit organization there is no up front cost, no product to sell, no money to collect, and nothing to deliver. Just use medias such as facebook, twitter, emails, and even word of mouth to get your family and friends to give us a call for a free Disney Vacation quote. When the Disney trip is completed, Memories and Moments Travel will send a donation (a percentage of our commission) to the appropriate organization.

Fundraising has never been so easy because Memories and Moments Travel is a NO FEE agency so we do all of the work and you enjoy the Memories.

Walt Disney World  in March vs. December

Nicole Combs-Martin

Our first visit to Disney was to support my niece and nephew and their high school marching band. This was during spring break in March. It was very hot, very crowded, and the lines were very long. Certainly we were in awe because it was our first visit. But we said after that we would never again visit Disney in March.
Fast forward to our second trip. This time our family visited Disney the first eight days of December, what a difference.  It was magical! All of Disney was “dressed” in their holiday best!  The weather was awesome, the lines were short and the people were “calm”.
If you don’t mind the heat and the crowds then March is the perfect time for you. But if you would rather have more milder weather, still perfect for swimming, not as many people and Christmas decorations then December would be the time for you.

Cruising Disney with Kids

Michael Koritansky

Cruising with kids? Will my kids have fun? Will we be able to have any time ourselves? Yes, Yes, and Yes when you travel with Disney Cruise Lines. Travelers expect service, world class entertainment and attention to detail from Disney and that is what they get.

What is the best part of traveling with your children on Disney Cruise Line? Everything! You know Disney offers the best in entertainment, cuisine, and service. Oh and don’t forget that Disney magic!!! It starts the moment you board the ship through the Atrium with your family being announced and greeted by the ship’s staff.  Everything you need is taken care of.  Rotational dining where you experience the different restaurants each night but retain the same wait staff allows them to learn what your family likes and makes meal time more fun. Free soda at dinner plus all the self service soda stations around the ship is a nice perk that most other cruise lines don’t offer. Disney also tries to match adults with adults and families with families. In our case we were matched up with a family from Canada who had a son the same age as our son. From the moment we had our first meal together, they were inseparable and we all became good friends and still keep in touch.

What sealed the deal for me was how great the children’s’ activity staff was with the kids and the adults. They were attentive, patient, energetic and most of all fun. Our son had a blast and whenever we went to pick him up from the Oceaneer’s Club he would always be disappointed he had to leave.  The fun activities for the kids were not limited to the clubs. Events were held all around the ship including the Pirates IN the Caribbean Party, Character meet & greets, late night “camp outs”, dance parties, and at the end of the cruise the children put on a show on stage for all the parents!

With ports of call including the Caribbean, Bahamas, Alaska, Mediterranean, California Coast, or Transatlantic, cruising options from 4 to 12 nights, there is a cruise to satisfy not only the first time cruiser but an veteran one as well. Let us make your Dream a reality with the Magic and Wonder aboard Disney Cruise Lines. Your Fantasy await

What are the Benefits of Concierge Level?

Kathleen Ayres

Club level with concierge service is an extra guest feature offered at Disney’s deluxe resort hotels with in the Walt Disney world resort. Guests staying on Club Level are issued a key to the world card that allows access to the resort club lounge. The club is only accessible to guests who have paid extra for club level. The club lounge is a relaxing area that features tables and chairs, comfortable sofa’s and a flat screen television. There are daily food options available to explore. A continental breakfast is offered daily and features dry cereal, hot oatmeal, assorted pastries, hard boiled eggs and fresh fruit. There is also milk, juice, coffee, tea, and bottled water. During the day there are cold beverages and snacks available. In the evening the club offers appetizers, beer and wine. There are also kid friendly selections such as apples with caramel, peanut butter and jelly roll up sandwich’s, and fresh vegetables with dipping sauce. Later in the evening the club offers desserts and cordials. My children love the mini cheesecakes topped with fresh raspberries and chocolate mouse pudding cups.

We enjoy staying on club level with our young children for several reasons. We enjoy the daily lounge food offerings, but really enjoy the convenience of having access to fresh milk, bottled water and cold beverages as needed for our family. We also enjoy the quiet relaxing lounge that gives our family some extra space in addition to our resort hotel room. Our children love the opportunity to check out a complimentary Disney DVD movie from the concierge movie library. The concierge cast members are very friendly, helpful and knowledgeable. They can also assist with dining reservations, secure show tickets and more. Club Level gives our family a little extra magic during our stay.

Why Walt Disney World with your teens?

“Why Not”

Cheryl Carr

Disney has something for everyone and fun to find around every corner and more!

Having traveled to Walt Disney World with a young teen and her younger sister we never found ourselves getting complaints that they were bored or that things were “too” young for the teen.

We returned a few years later with our older daughter’s senior class and found that we were able to wear out the students by the end of the day. So much to do and see that we were excited to hear the students adventures at the end of the day.

Disney is so fun and exciting to all ages. Great resorts and more food options that your teen would never go hungry.

From water parks to the great adventure rides. Rockin Roller Coaster with Areosmith playing loudly just as a teen would want it, to Expedition Everest roller coaster thrill ride. They can venture into Disney Quest at Downtown Disney and play those video games they so love to play.

Our youngest wouldn’t ride roller coasters and now all she can talk about is getting back to Walt Disney World to take a ride on The Tower of Terror and a ride through Toy Story. Every park has great adventure to seek out and rides and attractions for all ages.

By the way…our youngest turned 18 and she can’t wait til May when she gets to go back to Walt Disney World with her Senior Classmates and ride “Tower of Terror”.

Honeymooning at  Disney

Julie Kirby

When my husband and I got married we were at a loss as to where to go for our honeymoon.  We wanted to have fun, see the world and do more than just lie on a beach getting sunburned!  The problem was we had a very tight budget.  I remember someone mentioning to me that it might be fun to go to Disney world. At first I thought they were crazy. We were in our early 20’s . Disney is for kids. We wanted an “adult trip”.  After looking more into it we decided the price was right so Disney it was!

Nothing could have prepared us for the fun we had! In Epcot we were able to see a lot of different countries. Everything from the food, the drinks, the style of clothing, the shops, the music was just amazing. We felt like we were on a trip around the world!

The Magic Kingdom is mainly known for the princesses, the cartoon characters but what you don’t hear about is how incredibly romantic it can be.  The fireworks, the rides, the shows…there is so much to see and to do. It is such a different experience without kids. You can make it whatever you want it to be!  Now with the dining plan option Disney is like an all-inclusive resort where you can do as much or as little as you want to .  I will never forget walking down Main Street with my new husband.  Everything was so new and exciting.  Looking back Disney was the perfect place for our honeymoon! I would recommend it to anyone!

Traveling with Young Children to

The Walt Disney World Resort

Kathleen Ayres

The Walt Disney World Resort is an amazing experience for people of all ages, especially young children. Here are some tips and considerations while traveling with young children.

Packing-Pack light and only pack what you need. Pack children’s diapers and/or pull ups as well as  underwear, socks and pajamas in clear gallon size ziplock bags. It keeps them organized and saves extra room for other items. Consider rolling the clothes. This easy task will save a lot of extra room as well. Pack special items such as your child’s favorite blanket, stuffed toy or book. Little comforts of home will be helpful during your visit. If packing liquids, I suggest purchasing travel sized bottles. It is less to carry with you and you can discard any unused portions before returning home. Be sure liquids carried with you( carry on luggage NOT checked luggage) on an airplane is no more than 3 ounces and is  in a clear QUART size bag. Purchase a few rain ponchos at Walmart or Target and pack them along. It is much cheaper and you will be prepared in case an afternoon pop up rain shower occurs. Pack a few small notebooks with markers not crayons ( crayons can melt in Florida’s hot sun if left in a bag) for coloring while waiting in lines and be sure to purchase Sharpie markers for character autographs.

You should also consider packing a few non perishable snacks, dry cereal and quick breakfast items to keep in your resort hotel room and in your daily back pack. Pack a few extra clear Ziplock bags to store them in. Breakfast time can be very busy in the food courts at the resorts. If you are utilizing The Disney Dining Plan, than I suggest saving your meals for lunch and dinner. Having a quick grab and go breakfast in your resort hotel room may move things along a bit quicker. Consider getting flavor packets to flavor water. Many guests find Florida’s drinking water to be less than desirable. You can fill sippy cups with water and add a little flavoring. You can also request ice water at most quick service locations. Choose a comfortable back pack to carry necessary items daily to the parks. Pack all items inside  clear Ziplock bags. It will be easier getting through park security and it will also keep items organized and dry. Don’t forget to attach a travel sized hand sanitizer to your back pack to keep hands clean.

A convenient tip is you can have groceries and baby items delivered to your resort hotel for a small fee. This is especially convenient for diapers, pull ups, baby formula and specialty milks.

Plan on doing atleast one load of laundry. All Disney Resorts have coin operated laundry machines located at the resorts. You can purchase detergent there as well or pack your own. The new laundry pods are great. I hate bringing home dirty laundry, plus if you plan to do atleast one load, you can pack fewer clothes. Do pack some travel sized liquid dish detergent to clean sippy cups and bottles.

Strollers-Walking can get very tiresome for the little ones. If bringing your own stroller is not an option, consider renting a stroller. There are many stroller rental companies in the Orlando area. You will need to make arrangements inadvance( usually 2 weeks or more prior to your arrival). Most companies will deliver your rented stroller directly to your resort. It is very convenient. At the end of your visit, you can simply leave your stroller at your resorts bell services and the stroller rental company will come pick it up. You can rent a single or double for much less than it costs at the parks. I highly recommend a double stroller even if you are traveling with one small child. The extra seat can be used for storage or souveniors. Most of the strollers are city mini doubles and  are light weight, easy to fold up and more importantly side by side. The city mini doubles can hold a combined weight of 100 pounds.

Waiting in Lines-Waiting in line may-be the hardest thing to do for the little ones. I suggest packing small non perishable snack items. A few gold fish crackers may do the trick. That trick may only work for a few moments so also consider small notebooks for coloring with markers, travel sized magna doodle, or magnet books or puzzles. For older children download a few games before your trip on your smart phone. These are also great for  the plane ride.

Downtime –If your child still takes naps or needs a quiet time during the day consider returning to your resort hotel room in the early afternoon. There you can refresh with a nap or take a dip in the pool. You can return back to the parks later towards the evening. If you prefer to stay at the park, than consider a monorail ride. It is quiet and air conditioned. You can also experience some fantastic views of The Magic Kingdom and EPCOT. You can also catch some great views of Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort and Spa, Disney’s Contemporary Resort and Disney’s Polynesian Resort which are located on the resorts monorail system.

Dining-The Disney Dining Plan is really your best option. I love knowing that all our meals are already paid for ( except gratuity at most Table Service locations).  You are saving money and time. You get MORE food, for less money than if you are buying it a la carte. It is highly recommended you make all your Table Service dining reservations 180 days prior to the first day of your arrival. Many character meal locations can book up quickly. Consider using your dining plan for lunch and dinner. Lunch is an ideal time when scheduling a character meal. This way your little one is happy and most alert. Try to keep eating schedules as close to a regular schedule as possible to avoid meltdowns. You want your child to get the most out of the experience, especially if it is their favorite character! You can use your Quick Service for a quick dinner on the go.

The Parks-Plan to visit The Magic Kingdom on your first day and your last day. The Magic Kingdom is the most magical park to visit for little ones. This way they have something to look forward to on their last day. Try and plan your visit in advance or download Disney’s Mobile Magic on your smart phone. If you have a plan of must do activities you will get the most out of your visit. Consider obtaining FAST PASSES for attractions with long wait times and utilize the parent swap option at most high thrill attractions.

Neverland Club, Polynesian Resort Walt Disney World Review

Kim Fletcher

After fun filled days at Walt Disney World Resort, my husband, Mark, and I were looking forward to adult time. Before our trip, we looked into childcare options for our 3 and 6 year old and decided to enroll them in the Neverland Club. Reservations can be made by your travel consultant at the time of booking dining.

Dinner, activities, and a great place to play are included in the cost of the night out. The Neverland Club was also wonderful in handling my son’s dietary needs and he got his own dairy free meal.

Drop off at the Neverland Club was easy, we filled out paperwork on each of our children about their likes & dislikes, what they liked to play, and basic health info. We left our cell phone numbers and we were off on a night of adult fun!

Elise, my 6 year old, told me all the fun they had at the club. They had age appropriate wii games set up and the counselors played with them. William had fun in the art center creating masterpieces and dressing up in the dress up corner. The counselors also had stories, Disney movies, and a sing along.

William, being newly potty trained (which is a requirement for the club) did an awesome job of telling the counselors when he had to go potty and if your little one has an accident, Disney has a change of clothes on hand.

At pick up, we got a detailed re -cap of their night at the Neverland Club and praise on how well-mannered they were. Always nice to hear! J I would do the Neverland Club again in a heartbeat! My kids always ask to go back and play with their new friends. Bonus for Mark and myself, is that we knew they were safe, well cared for and had an awesome time.  Rates vary from $11-12 an hour per child, with a 2 hour minimum.

You are never too old for Walt Disney World

Vicki Krueger 

When you think of  Walt Disney World, you think of little kids, rides and of course, Mickey Mouse.  While these things are true, there are lots of other fun activities awaiting the older adult.  For example: shopping, fine dining, award winning shows, five professional golf courses, tennis, water sports including fishing and boating, behind the scenes tours and unique experiences, beaches and swimming pools, miniature golf, specialty boat rides and other special events throughout the year.  There are also fine resorts with full service spas for your accommodations.  Walt Disney World can truly be a fun and relaxing vacation for the older adult.

If you enjoy shopping, there are shops located within each resort, theme park and Downtown Disney Marketplace.  With the vast array of stores, you are sure to find something for everyone.

 When it comes to fine dining, WDW has many options and unique tastes created by world renowned chefs.  If  you eat a late lunch and a late dinner, you are sure to miss the crowds and kids.  Fine dining is available at the California Grill at the Contemporary Resort, Narcoossee’s and Victoria and Alberts at the Grand Floridian Resort, Artist Point at the Wilderness Lodge, the Yachtsman Steakhouse at the Yacht Club Resort and Portobello Yacht Club and Fulton’s Crab House in Downtown Disney.

Walt Disney World is known throughout the world when it comes to entertainment.  From live shows to parades and fireworks, there is something sure to please everyone of all ages.

Ever wonder how things happen behind the scenes at Walt Disney World?  Well Walt Disney World offers many behind the scene tours and unique experiences.  There is an additional fee for most tours.  Tours include the Backstage Safari Tour, the Wild African Tour and Wild by Design at the Animal Kingdom, Inspiration Through Walt’s Eyes at Hollywood Studios, the Keep Moving Forward Tour, Behind the Seeds Tour, Epcot Seas Aqua Tour, Divequest, Dolphins in Depth, Gardens of the World, Undiscovered Future World at Epcot, Walt Disney: Marceline to Magic Kingdom Tour, Family Magic Tour, Keys to the Kingdom Tour and the Magic Behind Our Steam Trains Tour at the Magic Kingdom. Other tours include Backstage Magic (a multi theme park tour) Wilderness Back Trail, Adventure Segway Tour and Disney’s V.I.P. Tour.

Throughout the year, Walt Disney World features many special events.  In February, the Atlanta Braves hold their spring training at the ESPN Center.    From March – May, Epcot features the Flower and Garden Festival along with the Flower Power Concert Series.  The concert series includes Chubby Checker, the Guess Who, Paul Revere and the Raiders, the Turtles with Flo and Eddie, the Village People and more.  In  the fall  Epcot features the International Food and Wine Festival.  The festival features food and wine from over 30 international marketplaces and the Eat to the Beat Concert Series.  Lastly in November and December, Epcot features the Holidays Around the World.

After all the fun, relax in one of Walt Disney World’s fine resorts.  Deluxe resorts include the Grand Floridian, the Animal Kingdom Lodge, the Contemporary, the Polynesian, the Yacht Club,the Beach Club, Boardwalk and the Wilderness Lodge.  All deluxe resorts include a high level of quality service, full service spas, fine dining and luxurious pools.

Don’t worry if you have any special needs.  All  resorts offer handicapped accessible rooms.  You can request rooms away from the lobby, pool and food areas to be in a quieter location.  You can also request a first floor room or one that is close to the elevator and/or transportation.  If you utilize a scooter, can stand and walk short distances, a regular room may be more convenient.  You can request that the shower head be replaced with a hand held one.  Bathtub stools are also available.  The desk and chair can be removed from the room to allow more room for a scooter or wheelchair.  There are handicapped accessible and companion restrooms throughout the theme parks.  Scooters and wheelchairs can be rented at each park.  It is highly recommended to either rent one from home or from a local Orlando company, who can deliver the scooter or wheelchair directly to your resort.  This insures that you will always have your scooter or wheelchair available to you at all places.  Your travel consultant can arrange this service for you.  All Walt Disney World buses are handicapped accessible as well.  Special accommodations can be made for those with hearing difficulties and special diets. Lastly, utilizing the resort airline check-in desk allows for you to check in your luggage and not have to worry about it again until you are at your final destination.

As you can see, Walt Disney World offers many activities, accommodations and services for older adults to relax and enjoy themselves.  At Walt Disney World, there is something for everyone and you are never too old.

EPCOT’s Eat to the Beat Concert Series….

Fabiana Zollo

When I think about all the things I love about Disney and my favorite park, Epcot, I had a hard time choosing what to write about. There are so many attractions and events that I enjoy. However, when I found out about our Virtual Open House and this article, I had just been to Epcot and thought I would write about one of the most recent events I got to enjoy. The Epcot International Food and Wine Festival is a great way to enjoy the Fall season at the parks. And the concert series is an unexpected perk.  You’ll hear more about the International Food and Wine Festival from our fearless leader, Laura, in her article, so I am going to focus on the concert series.

Disney usually announces the concert line-up 5-6 months before the start of the festival. Every weekend of the festival, there is a new “Eat to the Beat” band. And let me tell you, these are well known acts. There are usually all kinds of bands that will suit most tastes in music. Past acts that I’ve enjoyed include Boyz II Men and Rick Springfield (one of my personal favorites). 2012 also brought Night Ranger, Sugar Ray, Air Supply, 38 Special, Blues Traveler, Smash Mouth and The Pointer Sisters to name a few. There are just a few things to keep in mind to make your experience and fun and pleasant as possible.

Make sure you get a schedule of events when you get to the park and check  for concert times. Make your way to The American Experience and directly in front of the restaurant you’ll find the concert pavilion. The concerts start in the early evening and they have three shows per night. So even if you have dinner reservations or fastpasses, you’ll still be able to make one of the shows. You can either wait in line for seats in the pavilion or stand in back. I recommend getting seats. To do this, you will want to get to the pavilion at least 30 minutes before the concert starts. On the right side of the pavilion is a special area to queue up for the concert. This should ensure you a spot towards the front of the stage. Or, you can wait by the ropes behind the seats towards the back of the pavilion. They let you in there after the queue has found their seats. You’ll still have a place to sit, just more towards the back.

Once the concert starts, you’ll see the artists really interact with the audience and play their most popular songs. After a day of wonderful food and drink, there is nothing like enjoying a fun concert with some great performers. Enjoy!

EPCOT International Food and Wine Festival

Laura Holcomb

One of my favorite times of the year to visit Walt Disney World has always been in October. The weather is comfortable and the crowds are not too heavy. My favorite reason is the International Food and Wine Festival!

EPCOT explodes with flavor and for someone with adventurous taste buds like me it is a wonderful experience. A day at the festival is like a spending a day taste testing throughout the world. Located throughout the World Showcase are kiosks from many different countries ( last year there were approximately 30 of these stations for testing) offering samplings of main courses, side dishes, desserts and beverages including wine and beer.

Each sample tends to cost anywhere between $1 and $5. In many locations you may use your snack from the Dining Plan for this purchase. We were visiting just for the day and did not have a Dining Plan so we used the samples for our lunch and dinner and paid for each individually. If you would prefer, Disney offers a card (like a gift card) that you could purchase for use at the kiosks.

When we entered the World Showcase we were handed a passport. Inside of the passport each country was listed and under each county was the menu. What an amazing amount of choices and what a great way to try new foods without committing to a full dinner of that item! Once you purchased something from that country they would stamp the book. We had a challenge going with my sister in law and brother in law to finish the book (30 some samples) and even though we gave it a good try we just couldn’t complete it. The other couple did and when they were done they received a stamp of completion on their passport. We shared many of the samples, but it was still just too much food for us to get through….if we were there more than one day we would have succeeded and enjoyed every bite!

So while our siblings continued on we enjoyed an amazing concert by Journey….this group was my favorite in high school so I was a happy and very full guest. Fabiana Zollo will discuss in more detail all of the wonderful concerts that Disney offers during this festival.

Above sampling there are classes, guest speakers and special exhibits so plan on spending more time in EPCOT than you normally would.

What an amazing amount of choices and variety! So if you are feeling a little adventurous and want to try one item you can or if you are really adventurous and want to visit every country the world is yours!