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.

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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.


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! – (800) 670-4312 x 140

Safari at Disney’s Animal Kingdom park

Magical Memories – A ride to remember!

Do you know what draws people to the Animal Kingdom?  It is their majestic safari ride!  If you have not experienced this, you must add it to your “things to do” list on your next trip!

trip to remember

The entrance to the Kilimanjaro Safaris is located in the back left hand corner of the park.  I suggest that you head here first, as soon as you enter the park.  The animals are always out for viewing but I can tell you that they will be more visible before the hot sun gets too high.

 As you get ready to embark on this wonderful journey through the savanna, you will board a large open-aired cargo jeep.  The ride does get bumpy, but that just adds to the excitement for the kids.  Your driver/tour guide does a wonderful job making sure that you can see everything the savanna has to offer.  He/She will take their time meandering their way along the trail, giving you plenty of opportunities to feel like a photographer for National Geographic.  So don’t forget you camera!

 I have experienced this safari ride over 20 times, and I always see something new.  Whether it is 2 baby elephants playing in the water, an ostrich roosting on its nest, or an antelope chasing a giraffe – the safari ride is always an adventure!  The drivers do an incredible job pointing out and describing the wildlife with a wide variety of facts and tidbits that help to make this a learning experience for the kids!

baby elephants

 Disney has done a great job with enticing the animals to stay more visible throughout the day.  If you see a log or a tree stump, the trainers are using that as a feeding bin.  This keeps the giraffes, wildebeests, antelopes, cattle, and zebras closer to the trial for viewing.


 As you leave the safari adventure, don’t forget to take a walk through the Pangani Forest Exploration Trail.  Here you can see even more wildlife up close.  This is a walking tour that takes you through the shade of the forest with several viewing areas along the way of the okapis, hippos, and gorillas.  This is another chance for you to get some great pictures of the wildlife.


 While walking through the Pangani Forest, your children can have the opportunity to participate in the Kids Discovery Club.  The Kids Discovery Club is a time when one of the animal trainers will take time to teach the children about the variety of wildlife, their behaviors, eating habits, and more. In the picture below, my son and his friend are honing in on some tracking skills – trying to find a rhino.

robert and friend

 So the next time you visit the Animal Kingdom, don’t forget to take some time for the Kilimanjaro Safari ride.  You will have a great time roaming through the savanna and watching the animals in their own environment, interacting with each other.

If you have any questions and would like to use a planner for free – contact me at 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!


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  You can also follow me on facebook at for information, specials and tips and tricks on Disney vacations.

Conquering Everest!

Expedition Everest is a MUST-DO attraction at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park. You have to be at least 44’’ tall to ride the ride, so luckily I qualify!  And so do a lot of kiddos!

I must admit the first time I was in line for this ride I was nervous! I’m a wimp. I’m not much of a thrill seeker and this attraction is built up as a thrill ride. I seriously thought of changing my mind right before we got on. But my pride wouldn’t let me. Plus there were tons of kids in line that were NOT scared at all. Including a cute little 7 year old who said she had already ridden it twice!  I couldn’t back out now!

Let me just say this ride got me over my fear of thrill rides…at least Disney style thrill rides. It is SO.MUCH.FUN.  My husband loves taking pictures on rides. Maybe to get my expression of fear captured forever. But I am glad he did because we got some great shots.

Not only is this ride super fun but it provides some BEAUTIFUL views of Animal Kingdom.

And, once I conquered Mt Everest I felt like I could conquer anything!

I fell in love with the views of Expedition Everest all around the park. And each time I saw that mountain peak I smiled to myself because A) I conquered it!  and  B) I had nothing to be afraid of in the first place.

Oh…and don’t let this scare you (too much) !

If you would like to have your own Expedition Everest adventure, contact me today at or 1-800-670-4312 ext. 139

I would LOVE to help you plan your next Magical vacation!

So many ticket options to choose from…..HELP!

When we travel to Walt Disney World we always take the park hopper option! When you are spending money on your magical vacation you do not want to be limited as to when and where you go during your stay. This can make dining reservations a little easier as well. Play at one park all day and eat at another at night. However when my Sister and her family go they always choose the Base ticket to save money and time at the park of their choosing. There are different options for different folks…that’s one of the things I love about Disney.

 The four parks at Walt Disney World are Magic Kingdom, EPCOT, Hollywood Studio’s and Animal Kingdom. Disney has also added 2 Water Parks, Typhoon Lagoon and Blizzard Beach. They didn’t stop there with an incredible addition of Disney Quest, an indoor interactive theme park.


With Disney World you have a couple options when you buy your tickets. Base tickets, Hopper tickets and Water Parks and more. The base ticket will get you into any park of your choosing for the day but you cannot go to any other park that day. The Park Hopper option will let you Hop between whichever parks you want to all day and night long.

The Water Parks and more option include the following. Admission to Blizzard Beach and Typhoon Lagoon, Admission to Disney Quest, Admission to Wide World of Sports, A round of Mini Golf at Fantasia Gardens and Winter Summerland, And a round of golf at Oak Trail Family Walking Course. You can use these choices each day you have a park ticket.

As you can tell there are many different options to your Park ticket!

For a FREE quote and FREE service contact me today and will help make the right ticket fit your family’s needs!

Amy Blades


Making more Magical Memories! Ticket options!

To hop or not to hop…..

Many people always ask me “Do you get the hopper tickets for every visit?” and my answer is always “Yes” because that is what works for my family.  Here is some information to help you decide what will work for your family.

First, an explanation of the parks at Walt Disney World for those who have not visited:

There are 4 theme parks (Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Hollywood Studios, and Animal Kingdom), 2 water parks (Typhoon Lagoon and Blizzard Beach), Downtown Disney (shopping and DisneyQuest – a 5 story indoor arcade) and the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex.  Disney really has a little bit of everything for everyone!


Now, an explanation of the ticket options:

Base ticket option – you may visit 1 of the 4 theme parks per day.  You can come and go from that park, but you may only go to that 1 theme park.

Hopper ticket option – you can visit as many of the 4 theme parks in a day as much as you want.


What is best for your family?  This is where having a planner can really help.  A planner (like me) can talk with you about what each theme park has to offer your family and help you decide between the hopper and base ticket.  For us, especially when Robert was younger, we would only spend half of a day at some of the theme parks.  This is why hopping works for us.  When we did everything we wanted to do at one park, we can “hop” on over to another park.

Now, you may be wondering the best option for enjoying the water parks or ESPN Sports Complex.  Walt Disney World also offers the Water Park Fun and More option.  This option gives you access to both water parks, DisneyQuest at Downtown Disney, the ESPN Sports Complex and 2 Miniature Golf courses.    This option can easily be added to either the base or hopper tickets.   This is a great and inexpensive way to enhance your stay.


I hope this helps to shed a little more light on to the ticket options for Walt Disney World.  If you have any questions and would like to use a planner for free – contact me at 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!

Magical Memories made at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge

When my family stayed at the Animal Kingdom Lodge, we fell in love.  This resort was unlike any we have ever stayed at before.  My son was amazed that he could eat breakfast on his own private balcony and watch the giraffes grazing below.  From our room we were able to watch zebras, giraffes, ankole cattle, greater kudus, impalas, roan antelopes, African pelicans, and so much more.

During our stay, we chose to take advantage of the concierge services.  The cast members took care of all of our needs.  We really enjoyed having a gold room key that granted us access to the concierge level..  Throughout the day, there was a wide variety of snacks and delicious foods available.  A cast member also stays stationed on this level and is readily available to assist with any additional dining reservations, tours, or services that you may need handled.  One of the cast members went out of their way to make sure that my son had a private supply of Sprite Zero available at all times.  This was an added touch that really made him feel special since he has Type 1 Diabetes.  They would even give us extra bottles to keep in our room.

The Animal Kingdom Lodge offers extensive amenities and dining experiences including 3 wonderful restaurants – Boma, Sanaa, and Jiko, as well as 2 lounges and a quick services dining area.  There are also 2 fitness center, 1 includes its own spa. And for more recreation, Animal Kingdom Lodge offers jogging trails, a playground, 2 arcade centers, bike rentals, nightly movies on the beach, children’s activity center, a zero-entry pool, and a 2nd game room with pool tables, ping-pong tables, and arts & crafts.

We absolutely loved the Animal Kingdom Lodge when we stayed there.  Once we stepped onto the property, we felt removed from our everyday life.  This deluxe resort offers rooms, suites and villas.  There truly is something here for everyone.

For more information on this and any other resort at Walt Disney World, Disneyland, or the Disney Cruise, please contact me at or call me at 1-800-670-4312 ext 125.  All of my services are completely free.  I would absolutely love to help you plan your next magical vacation!

Disney… not just for kids


“Oh, you are going to Disney World!!! That’s awesome.. But wait… I didn’t think you had kids?  What are you going to do there if you have no kids?”

Ah yes, my favorite line from many a people that I meet along the path of life.  That is right, YES we are going to Disney and NO we do not have any children.  Yes, one day, if we are blessed with children, we would love to take out child there, but if it will only be my husband and I, like a real life Carl and Ellie, we shall embrace adventure at our favorite place, Walt Disney World.  So here a few benefits to going it alone,  as adults.

1.     Fine Dining.  Of course children are allowed at the fine dining establishments in WDW, but there is nothing like a nice romantic dinner with your loved one, with some amazing food and excellent service.  We had dinner in Queen Victoria’s Room at Victoria and Albert’s on our last trip.  This dinner was about 4 hours long, including over 10 courses and wine tasting.  It was a night we will never forget, just the two of us. Also, when I was a kid, I ruined every meal we ever went to. HA. ask anyone who traveled on that first fateful trip.

2.     Rides for Two.  Well, we never have to fight over who will sit with who on specific rides!  And no height requirements, so no one feels left out.

3.  Minimal Temper Tantrums.  I’m not gonna lie, I have had a few “special moments” I’m not to proud of while being on Disney property… but it’s nothing like some of the extreme melt downs by kids I have seen.  It’s actually beautiful when you see them, the kid stops moving, goes down on the ground for the count, kicking screaming… pure brilliance kid, pure brilliance!

4. Can I Buy That??? Well, I must say, I’m spoiled.  Just ask my husband.  But at least with just the two of us, he can fuel my vinyl, pin, and Dooney & Bourke obsessions.

5. Getting a little Goofy.  From having drinks around the “World Showcase”, to night life over at Downtown Disney, when it’s just adults, you are more likely to let your hair down and enjoy!

6. Nap Time is REALLY Nap Time.. My husband and I love getting into the parks extra early, and heading home midday to take a nap.  No one to fight us about taking that afternoon snooze.

7. Disney is Romantic.  From fireworks shows, to fine dining, to horse and carriage rides, Disney has everything that you can imagine to make  your trip with your loved one a romantic time!

These are just a few of my fun things my husband and I like to do while traveling alone.  If you are looking to go and leave the kids at home, I’m your girl!  From honeymoons, to anniversaries, to friend getaways, let me know how I can make your Disney vacation a fun and awesome one!!! Contact me today for a free quote,

Pin trading – Make This Your Family Tradition



Standing inside a gift shop at any of the theme parks is so over whelming.  On our recent trip to Disney World, I told my kids we would buy something but the biggest question was what to buy.  My 8 year old wanted a hat with Mickey ears on and I knew that after wearing it for a few days, it would get put in a bin at home and we’d never see it again.  While looking at different shops in Epcot, we saw a huge display of pins.  We didn’t have any idea that there was a whole world of pin trading in Disney

Back in 1999, Disney released the tradition of Disney Pin Trading. Thousands of different and unique pins exist.  We first started with picking out our lanyards.  Then we picked out a starter pin set.  We pinned the pins on our lanyard and then the fun began.  Most cast members wear lanyards or lanyard squares.  You may trade up to 2 pins, per cast member, per day.  My kids had a blast going up to all different cast members asking to look at their pins. 
We did buy a few pins not to trade, which we will keep as a reminder of our special trip with Grandma and Grandpa.  My daughter’s special pin was Expedition Everest (the ride at Animal Kingdom).  My son had 2 special pins.  The first was Tower of Terror (at Hollywood Studios) and the second a pin from Coronado Springs (where we stayed). 
When we got home, the pins sat on the lanyards for a month and I wanted to find a way to display them.  Check out my son and daughters pin collection. 
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