Blog roll

Some our best travel blogs!  Full of tips and great information to help you plan your next vacation!

Disney Dining Plan snack credits – more than just water and chips! 

How to surprise your kids with their first Disney trip

Reserving the Magic: Tips for scheduling your advanced dining reservations

Where can I find Lightning McQueen at Disney World?

Disneyland’s Grand Californian Hotel and Spa

 

 

The Queen of Hearts

Do you like the Queen of Hearts?  Who is your favorite Disney villain?

Screen Shot 2013-10-16 at 8.15.32 PM

Reserving the Magic: Tips for Scheduling your Advanced Dining Reservations (ADR’s)

You have chosen your resort, tickets, and booked your package. Now you are ready to relax and daydream about your upcoming vacation to Walt Disney World. But then your travel agent says “It’s time to make your advanced Dining Reservations” and you have a mini freak-out. Sound familiar? Don’t worry -It happens all the time. I am the first to admit I dislike making decisions. So when there are hundreds of amazing options and all sound wonderful I tend to get overwhelmed. But let’s focus on the positive; Walt Disney World offers TONS of amazing dining options- a foodie’s dream come true! So, whether you have planned multiple Disney vacations or are in the midst of planning your first trip, think about these tips for scheduling your dining and enjoy the bountiful options.

Are you a Morning Person? If you wake up before the sun and enjoy being out and about in the morning consider breakfasts and lunches.

· BREAKFAST: Consider making some breakfast reservations for restaurants inside your favorite parks. Some take reservations before the park even opens. This will get you in before the majority of vacationers are stirring. Eat, enjoy some characters (character breakfasts are FUN, and be ready to experience many of the best attractions with low wait times.)

· LUNCH: Another option for early risers is to eat a quick breakfast in your hotel room (or while waiting for the bus) and get to the park before it opens. Being there for the opening is always fun and again, you will probably have the shortest waits and lowest crowds of the day. Just as you are getting hungry for an early lunch, the crowds will be coming in and you can sit and relax at a lunch reservation. You might even hop to another resort for your meal and enjoy walking around in a quiet area away from the parks.

Morning People

Night Owls-Have no fear! Walt Disney World is even more magical at night!

· I recommend making at least one dinner reservation at Epcot during Illuminations or at Magic Kingdom during Wishes. Many restaurants with viewing areas of these nighttime shows will dim the lights and pipe in the music during the show. Some of my favorites are California Grill at Disney’s Contemporary Resort, Ohana at Disney’s Polynesian Resort, and La Hacienda de San Angel at Epcot. Other options are available-tell your travel agent if you want to book during the fireworks or other nighttime shows.

· Restaurants are open pretty late at most locations so if you like to linger over dinner and relax in the evening there are plenty of great options in each park. I especially enjoy being in one of the pavilions at World Showcase in Epcot for dinner. The light, sounds, smells all take you right into the culture and atmosphere of the country you are “visiting”.

Night Owls

Families with Children

· I have 2 words for you: Character. Meals. These are a hit with kids and give you some forced downtime. Plus you get personal one on one interaction with characters and some really great photo opportunities. If you are on the dining plan they are a great deal! Many character meals only require one table service credit!

· If your kids are on a schedule think about keeping them on that schedule. There is nothing worse than a tired, hungry child on vacation. So try to schedule your meal times for times they are used to. And remember you can bring snacks into the park! Aim for scheduled meal times but always have some back up.

· One of the best tips I have is to get to the parks early in the morning, take a long afternoon break (when the parks are the most crowded and the weather is usually the hottest) and then go back to the parks in the evening. With this schedule a long lunch or an early dinner could fit right in without taking away from your time in the parks.

For the Spontaneous . In my daily life I appreciate (need) routine and structure. But when I am on vacation I do not want to have any plans. I don’t personally like the idea of being tied down to specific meal times each day. If that sounds familiar-read on!

· Schedule your Advanced Dining Reservations for breakfast every day. That way it forces you to get up (for you sleepy heads) , you get a good hearty breakfast, and then the rest of the day can be spontaneous! Try it-you might like it!

· If you are on the dining plan, consider trying some of the Signature restaurants. They take 2 table service credits and are top notch dining experiences. This will give you some very special meals to look forward to. I would recommend scheduling them for the beginning and or end of your trip-think of them as a celebration of the start or end of an amazing vacation.

· Look at the days you arrive and depart. If you do not plan on going to the parks one both of those days these can be great times to plan meals that won’t take time away from the parks.

 

food!

 

General Tips for All

Where to eat?

· Ask your friends who have been where they like to eat. You should get good, honest feedback that you will trust (you really have to take some on-line reviews with a grain of salt). Pose the question on your Facebook or twitter-you should get plenty of responses/opinions

· Talk to your travel agent. If you have a good one, they can recommend some dining experiences based on personal experience. Tell your travel agent about your family, dietary restrictions likes and dislikes. We will give you as much info as you need to make the best decision.

· Ask your travel agent for descriptions and sample menus of the dining locations you are interested in.

Consider the Park Hopper

· Your travel agent can give you info about park hours and crowd levels for each day of your vacation. Look at the info and try to anticipate where you might like to be on a certain day. But remember, things can change (especially if you like to be spontaneous on your vacation). So a park hopper can save the day when your plans change! You may find yourself at one park in the morning and another in the evening, but oh no!-your dining reservation is in a different park! If you have a park hopper just hop on over to the right place and enjoy your meal.


Plan Early and Be Flexible

· Advanced Dining Reservations can be made 180 days before check in. Do not wait till the last minute to decide what you want-plan ahead so you or your travel agent can make your reservations on the first day they are available.

· You may not always get the exact time you want for each restaurant. List some alternate times/locations for your travel agent in case your top choices are not available.

So, maybe you are still overwhelmed at all this info. Don’t worry! “Keep Calm and Call your Travel Agent!” That is why we are here. Thinking about these tips and what some of your preferences are will help your travel agent to help YOU have the best dining experiences for your family.

Do you need help planning your next Disney trip? Contact me today-I would love to help you.

“See Ya Real Soon!”

Aleshia Sokoloski

1-800-670-4312 ext 139
Aleshia@travelwiththemagic.com
Find me on Facebook
Pin with me on Pinterest

Magical Memories – Visiting Pizza Planet

As you wander the Streets of America in Hollywood Studios, there is a great quick service restaurant called “Pizza Planet”. It is based on the restaurant that Andy frequents in the Toy Story movies. Robert and I had a great time here during our last visit to Walt Disney World.

sign

food

This 2 story restaurant offered plenty of seating both inside and out. The food was yummy and the arcade was a lot of fun. Our lunch consisted of personal sized pizzas for each of us (1 adult and 1 child), a salad, applesauce, our drinks and a cookie for Robert. You can use your quick service credits from your dining plan to pay for this meal. After we ate, my son had so much fun being a ninja slicing fruit, hip hop dancing, practicing his skee ball skills, and of course, challenging me to air hockey.

fruit ninja

arcade interior

hip hop

I do have to say my favorite details were the little green aliens seen hanging from the ceiling. I loved these guys in the movies.

green alien

And what Pizza Planet restaurant would be complete without “The Claw”!

the claw

If you are looking for a quick and easy place to grab your lunch or dinner, Pizza Planet is a great choice. It will also give you a great chance to sit and cool off while your children burn off some extra energy (and quarters).

If you have any questions and would like to use a planner for free – contact me at Robyn@travelwiththemagic.com or call me directly at 1-800-670-4312 ext 125. I have an unexplained passion for Disney and making sure that everyone is getting the most that they can out of every visit!

Infant Disney Touring Essentials

Now that you have made the decision to take your infant on a Disney vacation, there are some must have items that I felt helped us have the best and most magical experience possible with our little guy! Below I have compiled a list of my top 5 favorite infant Disney touring essentials!

travelwiththemagic-infanttouringessentials (2)

1. BOOK BAG-Instead of your typical over the shoulder diaper bag try using a regular back pack. Not only are they roomy, BUT will help you or one of the other people in your party have the option to carry it over both shoulders while exploring the parks or in line.

2. MOMMY HOOK- A mommy hook is a stroller accessory designed to hold basically anything that you can hang from it such as a diaper bag, camera, sippy cup, or baby toys. (OR shopping bags full of Disney items for the baby of course!)

3. STROLLER COVER-Every time we have gone to Disney it has rained, AND of course you don’t let that stop you from having a magical time! A stroller cover is great to make sure all baby items stay nice and dry while you are enjoying an indoor attraction where strollers are not prohibited.

4. WATER MISTING FAN- These are not really made just for babies, but they come in handy to keep your baby cool while napping in the parks. We tied a couple to the sides of the stroller.

5. BABY CARRIER- There are places such as lines for attractions where strollers are not permitted. A baby carrier could save you a sore back during those long wait times and give your baby a different view!

In my travel experience these items are essential to touring Disney with a baby! Need more tips for traveling to Disney with an infant? Call me! I would love to help! Contact me at Lizeth@TravelWithTheMagic.com, on Facebook or by phone at 1-800-670-4312, ext. 143.

Ridemakerz

Ridemakerz1

On our last visit to Walt Disney World, my son was mesmerized…by the characters, the shows and also by the remote control cars. Did you know that you can build your own cars in Downtown Disney? In the back of Team Mickey is a car lover’s dream! Here you can create a model or remote control car.

Ridemakerz2

Ridemakerz3

Kids (and adults) can customize their own car piece by piece. Be prepared to spend some time here, parents. There are LOTS of options… In fact, there are more than 650,000,000 different ways to create your car! Once you have the pieces you want to use, a cast member will use their tools to put the cars together.

Ridemakerz4

This is a great place to check out if you are traveling with that teenager who doesn’t seem interested in the “kid stuff”, but don’t be surprised when your little one wants in on the action as well. Once you create your masterpiece there is an area for you to test out your speed and check out everyone else’s ride. We watched cars drive around for what seemed like an hour. It was a great way for the kids to chat with each other and show off their cars. The final product is a little on the expensive side (few are less than $50 when put together) but the look of pride on those little faces is well worth it.

Ridemakerz5

Tip: You will need to put your cars away before leaving the store. They don’t allow you to drive them around Downtown Disney.

For more information on shopping, dining, parks and more – Contact me today!

Erin Santamaria 1-877-377-0505 or erins@travelwiththemagic.com

Walt Disney World’s Tomorrowland

“Tomorrow can be a wonderful age. Our scientists today are opening the doors of the Space Age to achievements that will benefit our children and generations to come. The Tomorrowland attractions have been designed to give you an opportunity to participate in adventures that are a living blueprint of our future.” – Walt Disney

This was Walt Disney’s vision for Tomorrowland at Disneyland and one that carried over when Walt Disney World was built in 1971. Of all of the lands at Walt Disney World, Tomorrowland is probably the most challenging for Imagineers in keeping with Walt’s vision. After all, our world is changing quickly and by the time a redesign is rolled out it’s not so futuristic anymore. So, in the mid 1990’s a redesign to Tomorrowland was debuted that didn’t focus so much on our realistic view of the future, but a more science fiction view where you might find Flash Gordon battling aliens.

Metallic palm trees, neon lights, synthesized music and kinetic (moving) elements are all used by Imagineers to set the atmosphere of this world of tomorrow.

Tomorrowland 1

The largest kinetic element is the Tomorrowland Transportation Authority Peoplemover (TTA) which glides above the land and through some attractions. If it’s your first visit to Tomorrowland hop on this attraction first as it will provide you with a great overview and lay of the land. The TTA departs and returns to Rocket Tower Plaza in the middle of Tomorrowland. This 10 minute ride will take you inside Space Mountain and Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin for a sneak peak. You’ll also get a view of the original model of Walt Disney’s vision of a futuristic city. This model was on display at the 1964 World’s Fair in New York and was Walt’s early vision for Epcot.

Tomorrowland 2

Want to help Buzz Lightyear save the galaxy from the Evil Emperor Zurg? Hop on over to Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin and grab an astro blaster and start blasting. You’ll be racking up the points in this ultimate interactive video game as you move through different rooms. Want to hit the point jackpot? In the room with the large orange robot watch HIS right eye. When it begins blinking with an X fire away – each hit is worth 100,000 points. There are other mega targets as well but I’ll let you find those on your own!

The centerpiece of Tomorrowland has and will continue to be Space Mountain. This was the first ever thrill ride at Walt Disney World and while the attraction has gone through several updates over the years it remains the classic trip into outer space. What makes Space Mountain so thrilling is that the entire attraction is in the dark. You would probably be surprised to know that the maximum speed the trains go is around 27 miles per hour – hardly a high speed roller coaster – but the darkness and sharp turns continue to make Space Mountain one of the most beloved attractions in all of Walt Disney World.

tomorrowland 3

Another Disney classic is located a short distance from Space Mountain. Walt Disney’s Carousel of Progress dates back to the 1964 World’s Fair and was created by Walt Disney himself. This attraction was originally located at Disneyland until it was moved to Walt Disney World in 1975. The Carousel of Progress really is a carousel. Guest sit in a theater that then rotates around 4 different scenes depicting the life of the American family from the beginning of the 20th century. You’ll hear some famous voices to the audio animatronics including the voice of the father (Jean Shepherd) and Cousin Orville (Mel Blanc). The music was written by the award winning Sherman Brothers. When visiting the last scene (Christmas morning) keep an eye out for several hidden Mickeys. While the storyline has been updated throughout the years to keep up with the times, the overall attraction has stayed true to Walt’s original Carousel of Progress.

There are many other attractions to check out in Tomorrowland – all giving a different taste of a Disney tomorrow.

Tomorrowland Fun Facts:

The exterior design of Space Mountain uses “forced perspective” to make the mountain appear taller than it actually is. After all, Space Mountain couldn’t be taller than the castle but it still needed to look like an intergalactic mountain. While the structure looks huge it’s actually 6 feet shorter than Cinderella’s Castle.

When you are walking around the area make sure to keep an eye out for a wandering trash can! PUSH will come mingle with guests around Mickey’s Star Traders several times a day.

The Tomorrowland Transportation Authority vehicles move by linear induction. Magnets under the track push and pull the cars. This is the ultimate in clean energy.

The only area from inside the park that guests can see the Contemporary Resort is Tomorrowland. This is also the only resort that can be seen from inside. The Imagineers felt the contemporary A framed hotel fit nicely in the backdrop of Tomorrowland so there was no need to hide it.

Walt Disney’s Carousel of Progress was Walt Disney’s personal favorite attraction and it holds the record for the longest running stage show in the history of American theater.

Space Mountain is Florida’s oldest roller coaster.

This land takes on a whole different look and feel at night. Be sure to stop by after dark!

It’s details like this that make Walt Disney World such a special and unique place. My name is Susan Heidenrich and I am a travel professional with Travel with the Magic. I’ve visited Walt Disney World over 20 times and I would love to help you plan your next Disney vacation. Email me at SusanH@travelwiththemagic.com and follow me on facebook for tips, tricks and information on all things Disney!

Would you stay in a Pirate or a Princess room?

It’s time for a showdown! What will you choose? Are you a swashbuckler or more of a royal guest? Is it pirates and cross bones that excite you, or the thought of spending the night in a room fit for a princess? Disney now offers these two amazing themed room for your pirate or princess. Let’s take a look!

pirate bed two (2)

pirate bed three

Located at Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort you will find yourself searching for buried treasure and having dreams of sailing the high seas in their Pirate themed rooms. Climb aboard these ship shaped beds and imagine yourself searching for gold with Captain Jack Sparrow or Captain Hook! Each room comes with two double sized beds great for a family of three or four. The room décor makes you feel as though you have become one of the Pirates of the Caribbean! Even the curtain separating the bathroom from the rest of the room will remind you of a ship’s sail. Don’t forget the treasure chest drawers and the sitting area with a mighty compass on the table.

pirate pool

The fun doesn’t end here! Be sure to check out the Fuentes Del Morro Pool for some water adventures, featuring two waterslides! There is also a shipwreck play area in this pirate’s play land. This resort and themed room is the perfect place to have your little pirate embark on their great sea adventure!

princessroom

For a change of scenery, why not book a Royal Guest Room at the Southern themed Port Orleans Riverside. These newly remodeled rooms are fit for royalty of any age! Princess Tiana has taken the time and care to make these rooms perfect for her friends! The attention to detail is absolute perfection. There are pictures of the princesses goofing around, bed spreads boasting princess decorations, even a genie lamp sink faucet from Jasmine! When you take the time to look around this room, you will feel like the royalty Tiana expected you to be! One of the most breathtaking amenities in the royal guest room is the headboards that are located behind each of the two queen sized beds. When the lights go down you can hit a button and watch fireworks fly into the night sky on these magnificent headboard.

princessroom2

princessroom3

The royalty treatment does not have to stop there at Port Orleans Riverside! Why not take your princess on a magical horse –drawn carriage ride? And don’t forget to take a leisurely swim in the Ol’ Man Island pool, which hosts a swimming hole, a fishing hole, three bridges and a waterslide built right into the millworks.

Both Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort and Port Orleans Riverside have offer a Pirate Adventure Cruise, for those who may like a little of both worlds. This kids only (ages 4-12) adventure includes sailing, pirate tales, treasure chests, snacks and a drink. Ships sail daily, weather permitting, from 9:30-11:30am. This is a great idea for those princesses who can be as gruff as a pirate at times, and those pirates who just need even more adventure!

So which room do you choose? I would love to help you pick. Contact me today for a FREE quote for these rooms or any other Disney Resort and let your adventure begin! Tracy@travelwiththemagic.com

Harmony Barber Shop, First Haircut Package

barber shop my 1st haircut ears (2)

If you are planning a trip to Disney World and want a special place to get your child’s first haircut I would strongly suggest making an appointment at the Harmony Barber Shop. Harmony Barber Shop is located at Magic Kingdom, no other place than on Main Street USA. As you you pass under the train station, look to your left and you’ll see City Hall, the Fire Station and Harmony Barber Shop with it’s red and white striped pole out front.

barber shop

They provide the following services:

Adult Hair Cut $19

Child Hair Cut (12 and under) $15

My 1st Haircut Package $18

Gel and pixie dust (colored gel not being offered at this time) $5

barber shop exterior sign

I had been anxiously awaiting for my daughter to get her first haircut (she just turned 3!) and decided Harmony Barber Shop would be the perfect spot. I made my reservation over the phone at (407) WDW-PLAY prior to arrival. They do accept walk-ins but I noticed quite a few guests walking in and being told they were full so I would strongly encourage calling ahead of time to be on the safe side. They are open daily from 9AM-5PM.

barber shop inside

As you enter the Harmony Barber Shop, the first thing you’ll probably notice is it’s very tiny. There’s not a whole lot of room with only 3 chairs with 3 barbers. It has old fashioned charm to it complete with black and white flooring, tile ceiling and ornately carved wooden mirrors.

My daughter was seated in the chair soon after we arrived and she wasn’t too sure about what was about to happen. I could see her lip start to tremble and tears welling up in her eyes. Diane who was cutting her hair had it all under control. She was calm and patient and began putting Mickey stickers on my daughter’s dress and blankie to distract her and then gave her a bottle of bubbles. Bubbles always make my daughter smile so any fear she had was forgotten in no time.

barber shop henley bubbles

While my daughter was getting her first haircut, my son had mentioned he wanted to get his hair styled with gel as he had seen some kids sporting at the parks previously. They were no longer offering colored gel but he did get a pretty funky “do” with regular gel and “pixie dust”.

Barber Shop Banks hair

Once my daughter’s hair had been cut, Diane handed us her freshly cut locks which were placed in a white mesh bag complete with sparkles sealed with a Mickey sticker. She was also given a certificate proclaiming that her first haircut was at the Harmony Barber Shop and an adorable Mickey Ear Hat with “My 1st Haircut” embroidered on the back. Cutest first haircut keepsake ever!

barber shop certificate

I highly recommend a visit to the Harmony Barber Shop, particularly for a child’s first haircut. It will be an experience you won’t forget and you’ll get to take home some cute souvenirs from the occasion.

barber shop first locks

*It is important to note that the Harmony Barber Shop is unable to accept tips using credit cards so please bring cash.

Barber Shop Henley with ears

If you are planning a trip to Disney World, I’d love be of assistance! Please feel free to email me at corby@travelwiththemagic.com.

The Importance of “Down Time” for Kids at Disney

When we take a family vacation to Walt Disney World, we make sure to leave a “park-free” day in the middle of our trip. We sleep late, have leisurely meals, maybe go for a swim. And it’s wonderful to recharge before hitting the parks again.

disneyswim (2)

But it’s also important to have some “down time” for the kids DURING the park days, too!

Lots of people will suggest taking a break to go back to the hotel in the middle of the day, but for my family, I’ve found that taking a break IN the park works just as well, without the travel time! We just plan some time to unplug from the hustle of going from one attraction to another, and the rigors of following the lines. There are places in each park where you can relax a bit, and let the kids run off some steam or just do some exploring.

At Magic Kingdom, you can ride a raft over to Tom Sawyer’s Island to spend an hour or so. The kids can wander the island, explore the caves, use their imaginations in the fort, try the different bridges, or just chill on the dock for a game of checkers.

Disneycheckers

At Animal Kingdom, there’s a great playground called The Boneyard. It has lots of climbing places and slides. Kids can pretend they are archaeologists unearthing dinosaur bones in the gravel pit, too. And there are some shady spots where parents can hang out and enjoy the breeze from the fans in there!

There’s also a really neat playground area at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, and if your kids have seen “Honey, I Shrunk the Kids”, it’s sure to be an especially big hit. All the play areas look like larger-than-life items the movie kids found in their yard!

There are many fun things for your family to do at Walt Disney World, and you can try them all! Let me or one of our other agents start planning a trip for you, and remember our services are always FREE!

Brenda@travelwiththemagic.com – (800) 670-4312 x 140