Great Deal on Great Photos with Disney’s Photopass+

            Nothing captures the magical memories of your Disney vacation like Photopass photography.  Although I had traveled to Walt Disney World many times, my family had never really used the Photopass services.  Throughout all of the Disney parks, and at several of the resorts, you can find Photopass photographers who will happily take beautiful and unique photos of your family.  These images are recorded and can be viewed and accessed at any Photopass kiosk or online, using the Photopass card provided to you.  It wasn’t until a dear friend showed me some of her amazing Photopass photos that I realized what a great opportunity I was missing out on.  For the last several trips, my family has taken many photographs with Disney photographers, and everyone that sees them compliments us on what excellent pictures they are.

            So as I began planning our summer trip to Walt Disney World, I was excited to learn about a new program that Disney was offering called Photopass+.  This new program offers all of the traditional benefits of the Photopass program, with some new and exciting additions.  For $199.95 purchased at the park, $169.95 preordered online, or $159 when added to your package by your Travel with the Magic vacation planner.   Photopass+ users receive a cd containing all of the photos taken by Disney photographers, plus photos from select dining locations AND all of the attraction photos taken at the park!  Also included in the package is an extensive library of stock photos of characters and park attractions.  I was impressed by the deal and immediately preordered my cd.  Shortly thereafter, I received a package consisting of a cd of stock photography, a coupon with the redemption code to order my photo cd after my trip, and a voucher for my Photopass+ lanyard.  If you add the PhotoPass+ to your vacation package, your vouchers will be waiting for you when you check in at your resort.  I was ready to go and excited!

            When we arrived, we were easily able to obtain our Photopass+ lanyard at the park. We then used this throughout the parks.  On a few occasions, we split up and got new Photopass cards.  These photos were easily added on to the Photpass+ lanyard, so all of our pictures were in one spot.  We found that Photopass photographers were especially attentive when they realized that we had Photopass+.  A great photographer at Blizzard Beach took our family to two different locations for group shots and took individual shots of each family member.  We also found that Photopass+ was a real savings when it came to specific dining photography.  We were able to get family shots from Chef Mickey’s and Hoop-De-Doo Review for no additional charge.  Just these photo packages would have cost nearly $60, but instead, we spent nothing!

            By far, the greatest fun my family had with Photopass+ was on the attraction photography.  My children had always asked to purchase these pictures, but we never had before.  At $14.95 per photo, this was just not budgeted into our trip.  They were so excited that they could have, not just one, but ALL of their ride shots this trip.  I must say, that these are some of my favorite trip photos and make me laugh whenever I see them.

tammy 1

            When I got home, I had great fun going through our pictures.  Another benefit of Photopass+ is that you can take any individual photo and turn it into many more by cropping, adding borders, and personalizing it in any way you wish.  I also loved that I didn’t have to decide what photos to order right at that moment.  I simply ordered my cd and made decisions later about which photos to print.  This came in especially handy when choosing a photo for our Christmas card.  My whole family sat down and took our time choosing a photo that we all liked.

            All in all, I found Photopass+ plus to be an amazing deal.  With stock photography, park photos, and dining and attractions pictures, we were able to get more than $500 worth of photos for $169.95.  Photopass+ is a great deal on great photos, and an excellent way to capture the wonder of any Disney vacation.

 Contact me Tammy Cain at 1-800-670-4312 ext 137 or TammyC@travelwiththemagic.com for your next magical adventure.

Walt Disney World’s Park Hopper Option

The park hopper option can be added to any Walt Disney World base ticket and is good for the length of your stay.  This option allows you to visit more than one park in a day.  For example you could spend the morning at Magic Kingdom then “hop” over to Epcot in the afternoon. The park hopper option is an additional $35 per person to add to a one day ticket or $57 per person to add to a 2 day or longer ticket.  This cost is not per day, it is the total price per person excluding tax.

While park hopping can be useful for any length of stay, if you have 5 day or longer park passes then I highly suggest adding the hopping option.  Once you’ve experienced all four theme parks, hopping allows you to go back and hit the highlights at each park again without having to devote an entire day to one park.  This is great when you may only want to ride a couple of attractions or eat a meal in any one location.  You could spend the morning at Animal Kingdom which tends to be the first park that closes for the day and then hop over to the Magic Kingdom for dinner and fireworks.  Or spend the day at the Hollywood Studios and then hop over to Epcot Illuminations that evening.  Or use the hopping option to bounce over to another park for evening Extra Magic Hours.  The possibilities are endless with park hopping and this feature allows you the flexibility to go where you want, when you want, and experience what you want.

 

For the ultimate in park hopping visit all 4 parks in one day and experience at least one attraction in each!

 

Whether you choose to park hop or not it’s important to have a good itinerary with a solid plan of action.  This is where I come in!  One of my complementary services is to work with you to prepare a touring plan that fits your style and make sure you have ample time at each park to experience those things important to you.  I’d love to help you get started with a wonderful Disney Destination vacation.  My name is Susan Heidenrich and I am a Disney Destination Specialist affiliated with Travel with the Magic.  Contact me at SusanH@travelwiththemagic.com.  You can also follow me on facebook at www.facebook.com/SusanHeidenrichTravelwiththeMagic.com for information, specials and tips and tricks on Disney vacations.

Be Our Guest Restaurant

 

Ariel’s Adventure at Fantasyland in the Magic Kingdom

I was at Disney World in November and had a chance to experience Ariel’s Adventure at the new Fantasyland. If you have any questions contact me at Tracy@travelwiththemagic.com.

A Little bit of Disney Magic Created with Water!

       Some of the things I love most about Disney World and what I feel makes it special is its uniqueness, attention to detail and element of surprise.  It’s all about the little things.  The unexpected. For example, on a recent trip, we happened to stumble upon not one, but three of these pieces of water art!

     The first time I was able to witness these artists in action we saw a gentleman dressed as a custodian carrying a broom and bucket, dressed in janitor attire.  I immediately knew what he was about to do because I had read about it being the Disney nerd I am.  I stopped to watch as most guests kept walking by not paying any attention, which is easy to do when you are in a theme park.  At first, it looks like he’s cleaning but then you start to notice he’s actually drawing, only you can’t tell what it is at first.

     That’s where the fun begins.  We enjoyed watching and taking turns guessing which character it was going to be.  I will admit to being wrong with each guess.  As he continued to draw, more guests began to take notice and pretty soon he had a little crowd anxiously awaiting to see the finished product.

 

     It added a little bit of spontaneity and surprise when we weren’t expecting it.  It provided some entertainment and awe in something as simple as a bucket of water.  Something only Disney could do at it’s best.

 

     The next time you are visiting Disney World, I encourage you to slow down and take time to witness the “smaller” things.  You never know what you might discover!

     Are you interested in traveling to Disney World?  I’d love to help!  Feel free to email me at corby@travelwiththemagic.com or call me at (800) 670-4312 x128.

My First Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party

 

This year I was lucky enough to cross off one more item on my Disney bucket list – I went to Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party.  I love Christmas time and of course, I love Disney, so combining them was something I have long dreamt about.

Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party is a separate hard ticketed event meaning that even though it takes place at the Magic Kingdom, your Magic Kingdom admission alone does not gain you entrance into the party.  The party lasts from 7pm to midnight and admission tickets can be purchased for about $54-$68 depending on dates attended and the age of the guests.   Check out http://www.travelwiththemagic.com/2012-mickeys-very-merry-christmas-party.html for more party information.

During the party you will experience many exclusive experiences including Character greetings not available during normal park hours, Mickey’s Once Upon A Christmastime Parade, complementary  hot cocoa and cookies, Cinderella’s castle like you’ve never seen it before and a fireworks show that will stay with you long into the new year.

The party is scheduled to begin at 7 pm when the Magic Kingdom closes to non-ticket holding guests, but on most nights guests with party tickets can start entering the Magic Kingdom at 4 pm.  If you were at another park that day, or not visiting a park at all, you simply present your Christmas Party ticket to enter the park.  Once inside the turnstiles, Cast Members will present you with a special wristband to confirm that you have used your Christmas Party ticket for admission to be in the park past closing.

If you have been in the Magic Kingdom that day, you will need to proceed to one of the wristband stations (one at the main entrance or one in Adventureland) around 4 pm or so to receive your wristband.  Early in the evening we were stopped multiple times by Cast Members asking to see our Christmas Party wristband to verify our admission.

Some of the Christmas Party events actually start before 7 pm (probably to entice those who haven’t purchased the party tickets to think about purchasing them next time!) including Cinderella arriving on the castle stage with her Fairy Godmother to “wish” her castle transformed and then right before your eyes, the castle is covered in icicles.

The holiday themed light show on the Castle is amazing.  Make sure you get a spot near the castle so you can see all the amazing details in the show that happens on the castle.

And what would a party at the Magic Kingdom be without fireworks?  The “Holiday Wishes: Celebrate the Spirit of the Season” fireworks are everything you expect from Disney and more!  Seeing them over Cinderella’s dream light covered castle brought tears to my eyes.  Holiday Wishes is a fantastic fireworks show.

The Once Upon a Christmastime parade is not to be missed!   But don’t worry, it runs twice during your party.  Prepare for Disney to exhilarate all of your senses – especially sight, hearing and SMELL.  I won’t say more because I don’t want to ruin the surprise, but keep your nose open!  We met characters and rode attractions during the first parade hoping that the crowd would thin out for the second parade, which it did somewhat, but was more crowded than I expected.  I would definitely recommend getting to your viewing area ahead of time if you want a good seat with a good view!

During the Christmas party, all park aspects reflect a special Christmas cheer.  There are character greetings that can only be seen during special events including Cinderella, Prince Charming, her Stepmother and Stepsisters all greeting guests as a group.  The Princesses, in special holiday attire, are never far from their Princes and you can even find characters like Uncle Scrooge during the party.

The shops will be open during the party and some of the stores carry special Christmas Party merchandise that is ONLY available during parties, so if you see something you like, make sure you buy it.

There are even character dance parties!  Club Tinsel (inside Cosmic Ray’s) is one of the spots where you can find some of your favorite Disney characters cutting a rug!  We danced with festively dressed Chip and Dale and Goofy dressed in his finest Santa suit.

A lot of guests use the parties as a way to ride their favorite attractions with VERY minimal wait times.  Even on a sold out night we were able to walk on to Pirates of the Caribbean, the Haunted Mansion and Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin.  Not all attractions operate during the party, but we had a blast riding the ones that were open!

Don’t forget to eat!  Even though the park is open until midnight, some of the dining locations close earlier).  I would recommend eating at a quick service location to maximize your time in the park during this event.  We ate at Pinnochio’s Village Haus and I was pleasantly surprised by their new menu items.  I had a caprese flatbread pizza and tomato basil soup.  The quality was definitely similar to a sit down restaurant back home (rather than a fast food type meal).   Complementary hot cocoa and cookie stations are set up throughout the park and are identified on the map and on an inflatable signpost outside of the location.  Unless you’re exceptionally cold or hungry, don’t rush to get in line for these free goodies – they will be there all night!

One of my favorite memories of the night was walking down Main Street with SNOW falling!  It was such an amazing night and an experience I cannot wait to share with my family.  The Magic Kingdom during this time of year is beautiful (day or night)!

If you would like to attend Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party (or want more information about any of the other special events that happen throughout the year at Disney World), contact me today!  I cannot wait to help you plan your MAGICAL vacation!  Contact me at amy@travelwiththemagic.com, 1-800-670-4312, x129 or on facebook (www.facebook.com/TravelwiththeMagicAmy).

Magic Kingdom Opening Show

Looking for a fantastic way to start your morning at the most magical place on earth.  If you are an early riser, be sure to catch the opening ceremony at the Main Street U.S.A. train station near the entrance of Magic Kingdom.  If you are not an early bird, you may want to become one for a day.  The show takes place about 10 minutes before the park opens.  I would suggest getting there at least 30 minutes before the park opens to get a good viewing area.

The ceremony begins with a warm introduction followed by singing and dancing.  These catchy tunes will be in your head all morning.  The excitement builds even more when you hear the whistle of the train as it approaches the station.  Your family will be thrilled when they realize some of their favorite characters are on board, including Mickey Mouse.  Then it is time for the big opening of Magic Kingdom with a group countdown from 10 to 0 followed by pixie dust thrown into the air.

This extra magic gets our day at Magic Kingdom off to a great start.  Just another one of the many reasons I love Disney.  It really is a “must do”.

I would be glad to help you plan your next Disney family vacation.  Contact me for a no obligation quote.

Michelle Terry

MichelleT@travelwiththemagic.com

1-866-Hi-Miki-2

New Fantasyland

I recently returned from a family vacation at Disney World.  One of the highlights of that trip was when  I happened to stumble upon the first day of dress rehearsals at New Fantasyland in Magic Kingdom.

I had tickets for the Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party that evening and I decided to go to Magic Kingdom early so I could take some pictures of the fabulous fall décor before it got too dark.  While I was there, I went to Storybook Circus Land to check out the new Pete’s Silly Side Show and Big Top Souvenirs and Big Top Treats since they had recently opened.  Little did I know something was about to catch my eye while I was over there.  I looked over to Beast’s Castle and noticed the waterfall was turned on.  It was truly beautiful!  I decided I needed get closer and perhaps I would be able to take some exterior pictures of it.  It’s always seemed so far away behind those big construction walls with the castle peeking over the top.  I walked over and noticed a large cast member presence but few crowds and that is when I saw the sign, “Welcome to our Dress Rehearsal of New Fantasyland”.  I truly can’t explain the giddy feeling I felt!  I’ve been watching construction for two years and here I am finally being able to see what’s behind those walls!  My Disney geek radar truly went through the roof just thinking about being one of the first people to set foot at these new attractions.  So now I’ll share with you some of what I saw.

 

As soon as you enter the area past the new majestic looking castle walls which separate Fantasyland from New Fantasyland, you’ll notice it’s very open yet it has a cozy feel to it at the same time.  The first attraction you will see is Enchanted Tales with Belle, which is part interactive show, part meet and greet.  There is quite a bit of foliage and it looks as if it’s been there forever. You’ll feel as though you’ve been transported into the movie, Beauty and the Beast as you see Maurice’s humble cottage with Beast’s castle off in the distance.  Next, you’ll find the very mysterious looking Be our Guest restaurant which is truly breath taking.  It has a very medieval, regal, rich look to it complete with broken archway, iron gates, heavy draperies, and knights in armor and majestic chandeliers.  The bridge to get to the restaurant is almost daunting.  This new restaurant will offer a French inspired menu.  It will have quick service for lunch and table service for dinner.  The restaurant features three different themed rooms for guests to dine in: the elegant ballroom which will feature a snow falling effect in the windows, the rose gallery and the mysterious west wing.  Next up is the very masculine Gaston’s Tavern where you will find dark wood and antlers galore!  You can grab a pork shank, cinnamon roll or the already very much talked about LeFou’s Brew.  It’s a delicious frozen concoction that will certainly be a hit, particularly with the souvenir goblets!  There was always a line when I passed the entrance. Next to Gaston’s Tavern is Bonjour! Village Gifts which is a quaint gift shop with more of an upscale vibe to it.  And finally, there is Under the Sea: Journey of the Little Mermaid which is an adorable ride that takes you through the story of Ariel under the sea in a clam mobile.

One word that I feel describes this new area is DETAIL.  No detail is left behind!  The Imagineers truly outdid themselves with themeing.  You’ll even HEAR details like frogs croaking at Beast’s castle and waves crashing in Under the Sea: Journey of the Little Mermaid.  It truly is a lovely addition that is sure to be a hit.  Soft openings for New Fantasyland begin November 19 with a grand opening on December 6. And don’t forget the final addition, Seven Dwarfs Mine Train Coaster, which will be opening in 2014 as well.

Are you interested in planning a family vacation to Disney World?  Would you like to see the New Fantasyland?  I would love to assist with your vacation planning!  Feel free to call me 800-670-4312 x128 or email me at corby@travelwiththemagic.com.