Category Archives: Disney Planning

Disney vacation update – must see list (plus a line-cutter sighting!)

In my last post I wrote about the new attractions at Disney World that I was hoping to see on my recent visit.  Below is the rundown on everything I saw (and what I didn’t get to see – luckily that list is short!)

Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party – This was definitely a highlight of the trip.  I will have to write a separate post to get into all the details, but I was pleasantly surprised that I felt like it was worth paying the extra ticket, which I was a little hesitant about. More details to come later this week!

Mickeys Very Merry Christmas Party

Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party

Ride the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train – We rode the minetrain during the Christmas Party so the wait was only about 25 minutes, which took into account the guy who just cut in line a few people in front of us! I could not believe it – I’ve never seen a line-cutter at Disney World but a man cut across through the line, pretended to look at something and then just got in line and signaled his wife and kids to come over.  When the man behind the cutter asked if he just cut in line (which he obviously did) the cutter just proceeded to look at his phone and did not even acknowledge that anyone was talking! Unbelievable! Has anyone else seen something like this!? If so, did you do anything about it?  Vote in the poll below!

Festival of Fantasy Parade – We saw the parade and it was very entertaining, even though I’m not usually a big fan of the parades. My favorite was Flynn Rider flying on the swinging hammers – the float was really amazing because it had such huge moving parts!

Flynn Rider - Festival of Fantasy Parade

Flynn Rider – Festival of Fantasy Parade

Fire breathing dragon - Magic Kingdom Festival of Fantasy Parade

Fire breathing dragon – Magic Kingdom Festival of Fantasy Parade

Tinkerbell

Tinkerbell

Magic Kingdom Festival of Fantasy Parade

Magic Kingdom Festival of Fantasy Parade

Cinderella and Prince Charming

Cinderella and Prince Charming

Anna and Elsa - Festival of Fantasy Parade

Anna and Elsa – Festival of Fantasy Parade

Mickey at Festival of Fantasy Parade

Mickey at Festival of Fantasy Parade

Meet and greet with Hiro and Baymax from Big Hero 6 – This is one thing we didn’t get to do.  We waited in line for a while, but with the characters heading out on a break and our FastPass time at Toy Story Mania quickly approaching, I gave up on my hopes of squeezing Baymax.  I have to say, he was pretty amazing – he walked around and blinked, much more mobile than I thought he would be.

Frozen sing-along – Didn’t do this one either – we went to the Streets of America in Hollywood Studios and there was a giant mob of people in a roped off area that I assumed was the line so we decided in two seconds flat that the sing along wasn’t happening!

Downtown Disney – We took the ferry boat from Port Orleans – Riverside to Downtown Disney a few times and it was interesting to see the panorama view from the water of the changes that are happening.  The boat docked over close to the Saratoga Springs resort at the edge of the Marketplace.  We walked around and enjoyed the new stores – specifically at the Marketplace Co-Op. There’s a huge assortment of items from iPhone cases to Vera Bradley bags to home decor to sports apparel – truly something for everyone!

Maelstrom – So sad, the sign is gone and there’s no trace of Maelstrom.  But the giant troll is still in the Puffin’s Roost so hopefully he stays!

No more Maelstrom!

No more Maelstrom!

Memento Mori – This store wasn’t as big as I thought it would be – I was imagining something the size of the Tower of Terror store but it was much smaller.  A few spooky items that would probably be of interest to big fans of Haunted Mansion but not to most people.

Lastly, something that was not on my wish list but definitely the highlight of the trip – my husband got us a reservation at California Grill for our wedding anniversary!  We had an amazing seat by the window and since our reservation was at 5:15pm, we saw the sunset over the Grand Floridian and then at dusk the lights illuminated Cinderella Castle.  The view, the food and the service were all amazing, and my husband definitely earned some brownie points!  It’s going to be hard to out-do that anniversary dinner next year! More to come in a future post with all the delicious details!

California Grill

California Grill

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#MagicalMondayMinute #4 – Campfires at Disney World resorts

Magical Monday Minute is a weekly quick Disney tip to help you enjoy your Disney vacation even more!

If you want to see the video version, I’ll post it on Instagram on Mondays with the hashtag #MagicalMondayMinute.  Follow me there so you don’t miss out on valuable Disney hints!

Today’s tip: If you’re staying at a moderate or deluxe resort, be sure to check out the daily campfires at the resort.  There are plenty of marshmallows for roasting and it’s FREE if you’re staying at the resort!

 

Campfire at Port Orleans Riverside

Campfire at Port Orleans Riverside

#MagicalMondayMinute #2 – Mad Tea Party teacups

Magical Monday Minute is a weekly quick Disney tip to help you enjoy your Disney vacation even more!

If you want to see the video version, I’ll post it on Instagram on Mondays with the hashtag #MagicalMondayMinute.  Follow me there so you don’t miss out on valuable Disney hints!

Today’s Tip: Bring a camera with you when you ride the Mad Tea Party teacups at the Magic Kingdom. You are sure to capture a photo that illustrates the feeling of pure joy at Disney World! Just be sure to hold on – to your camera AND your lunch!

Mad Tea Party Teacups

Mad Tea Party Teacups

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#MagicalMondayMinute #1- Disney’s Port Orleans Resort

Magical Monday Minute is my brand new weekly quick Disney tip to help you enjoy your Disney vacation even more!

If you want to see the video version, I’ll post it on my Instagram on Mondays with the hashtag #MagicalMondayMinute.  Follow me there so you don’t miss out on valuable Disney hints!

Today’s Tip: Staying at Port Orleans is like a 2 for 1 resort – whether you stay at Port Orleans Riverside or Port Orleans French Quarter, you can walk between the two resorts to enjoy double the pools and restaurants! Check it out when planning your next Disney vacation!

 

Pool at Port Orleans French Quarter

Pool at Port Orleans French Quarter

 

Pool at Port Orleans Riverside

Pool at Port Orleans Riverside

Disney Quick Service Dining – Day by Day

We’ve used the Disney Dining plan several times on our past vacations, but we’ve always had the regular plan which includes a Table Service meal, a Quick Service meal and a snack each day.  On our recent trip, the timing worked out so we got the free dining promotion, where the meal plan was included with our vacation package.  Since we weren’t staying at a moderate resort, the free option available for guests at the value resorts was the Quick Service plan which include 2 Quick Service meals and a snack per day.

I am always pleasantly surprised by the portion size of quick serve meals – I never leave hungry! And since the dining plan includes a dessert with every meal, there’s no way to feel deprived regardless of which Disney Dining plan you choose.

In addition to the free meals, refillable drink mugs were included with the plan.  I was a little nervous about the new “Rapid Refill” system after reading some reviews, but I didn’t notice any difference from when we’ve used the mugs in the past (other than I couldn’t bring my mug from home.)  Here’s where our quick serve dining took us over the course of our trip:

DAY 1

Magic Kingdom (Lunch): Golden Oak Outpost

We were heading to Pecos Bill’s but the line was out the door so we kept walking and found the Golden Oak Outpost, which was a food kiosk around the back of Pecos Bill’s.  Hint: there are two lines on the right and left – everyone was lined up on one side because people didn’t realize there were two lines. The spicy chicken sandwich was delicious!

Golden Oak Outpost - Magic Kingdom

Golden Oak Outpost (View from seating area) – Magic Kingdom

Epcot (Dinner): Yorkshire Country Fish Shop (U.K.)

MMM… fish and chips!

DAY 2

Continue reading

I love MagicBands! (for some things)

On our recent trip to Disney World, we were very excited to use the new MagicBands that I had heard so much about!  My friend and former cast member Jo Anne wrote a guest post a few months ago, and I was anxious to try them out for myself.

Disney MagicBands

Disney MagicBands

Tickets & Charging

For the main purpose of using the MagicBand as a park ticket and room key with charging privileges, I absolutely loved it!  At first I felt naked leaving my resort without having my purse – no key to the world, no money, but I soon realized all we needed were our colorful and handy MagicBands!  There was one scare in Epcot when we saw someone getting carded for a beer (we had not brought our ID’s), but apparently we look old since we didn’t get carded. Whew! That could have been bad.  Scanning and entering the pin number made spending E-A-S-Y.  Luckily we had the free dining plan so we weren’t really ‘spending’, but boy do MagicBands make it simple!

FastPass+

The other main purpose of the Magic Bands is to store FastPass+ reservations. Continue reading

MagicBands – Love ’em or leave ’em?

Today I have a guest post from my friend and former cast member, Jo Anne!  She has been an annual passholder, is a DVC member, and when we first met I thought she was a Disney fanatic (in a bad way.)  I still think she’s a Disney fanatic, but in a good way!  She used the new MagicBands in September and this is her review. 

Since this review took place during the test phase, things may have changed since then. Be sure to check Disney’s website for updates to policies and procedures.

In late October/early November we took a family vacation to Walt Disney World with family and friends to celebrate several birthdays (including my daughter’s first birthday.)  As DVC members, my parents stayed in a 1 bedroom villa and my family and our friends stayed in a 2 bedroom villa at Animal Kingdom Lodge. We were all super excited to find out we would be able to participate in the soft launch of the new Disney MagicBand program. Marketed as a colorful, all-in-one band that connects all of your vacation plans and reservations through My Disney Experience, we weren’t sure what to expect. My friend and I were super excited about the colorful bands and a free souvenir for the kids’ first trip to WDW.  However, our husbands were very cynical – they made comments about how Disney will know everything about us, can track us, help us spend money…but deep down they were excited too.

Once we were registered in My Disney Experience, I linked all of our ticket and dining information to our bands. I still brought my trusty spreadsheet, but I could see phasing this out now that I have this great tool.

I highly recommend taking the time to customize your MagicBands through My Disney Experience. We assigned a character to each person and had fun picking the colors of our bands. The packaging on them is amazing as well. We were so excited when we finally got them in the mail. If you don’t customize your band, you will be issued a gray one at the front desk when you check in. Boo…gray is so boring!

When we checked into our resort, we were flooded by MagicBand merchandise. Continue reading

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