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
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The Walt Disney World Monorail System

A guide to using Walt Disney World’s monorail.

Disney’s monorail system (affectionately known by Disney lovers as the “Highway in the Sky”) has been moving guests at Walt Disney World since opening day in 1971.  For many of us the monorail is as much a symbol of Walt Disney World as the castle with its own t-shirts, toy sets, figurines and other products.  Each train is identified by a uniquely colored stripe running down its side.  When my sister and I were little our dad would pay us 25 cents if we could guess the next color monorail that would pull into the station at the Polynesian Resort.  These days the tradition continues with my children as we all pick colors on the Magical Express bus and whichever person picks the correct color of the first monorail we see wins.

new monorail1

But the monorail is so much more than a fun game of guess the color.  It is the workhorse of the Disney transportation system moving approximately 50 million guests a year over its almost 15 miles of track.

The monorail system runs 3 different routes using 12 trains.  The number of trains in service on any given day depends on the crowd levels. You do not need a park pass to use the monorail.

Resort Route ~ This is a circle that runs from the Magic Kingdom all the way around Seven Seas Lagoon stopping at the three resorts located on the monorail line along with the Ticket and Transportation Center.  These resorts are (in order of the stops) the Contemporary Resort, the Ticket and Transportation Center, the Polynesian Resort and the Grand Floridian Resort & Spa and then back to the Magic Kingdom.  This line is primarily for those staying or dining at one of the three resorts although there are no restrictions as to who can use these trains.

 new monorail2

Express Route ~ This route runs the opposite direction of the resort route and only stops at the Ticket and Transportation Center and the Magic Kingdom.  The trains do go by the three resorts along the track however they do not stop.  This route is designed for those parking or being dropped off by bus at the Ticket and Transportation Center.  It’s also used by guests “hopping” from the Magic Kingdom to Epcot and vice versa as they change trains at the Ticket and Transportation Center to catch the monorail to Epcot/Magic Kingdom.

new monorail3

Epcot Route ~ This route runs from the Ticket and Transportation Center to Epcot and back.  When you pick up the train at the Ticket and Transportation Center you will be treated to a pleasant 10-15 minute ride that will end with a quick pass through Future World at Epcot.  This is a great way to get an overview of the park and check out the crowds.

new monorail4

You don’t have to be staying at a monorail resort or visiting a park to ride on the monorail so next time you are at Walt Disney World treat yourself to a round trip ride on the “Highway in the Sky”!

 My name is Susan Heidenrich and I am a Disney Destination Specialist affiliated with Travel with the Magic.  I would love to help you plan your next Disney vacation.  Contact me at SusanH@travelwiththemagic.com or on Facebook and we’ll get started!

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.

Tell me A Story

It is no secret that I love Walt Disney World during the holidays, everything is just so magical!  When we took our Christmas trip I was determined to fit in everything that is special and unique about visiting during this time of the year.  One of the things that was on our must do list was to see the Storytellers in Epcot.

You can see the Storytellers in all the countries around World Showcase at various times throughout the day.  Pick up a times guide as you arrive at the park and map out your plan of attack.  You can find the location by looking for these signs

Each Storyteller shares the traditions of their country through their story, which usually lasts around 10-15 minutes.  You then have a chance to meet the Storyteller and get your picture taken with them.  It was really fun to learn where a lot of our own Christmas traditions originated from!

Here is a list of who is available to see, typically from late November through the end of December

Mexico – The Three Kings

Norway – Sigrid tells the story of a mischievous little Gnome named Julenissen.  Julenissen plays tricks on Sigrid throughout the story and is really funny.  This was my favorite of all the Storytellers!

China – The Money King.  He was full of energy and was a favorite with the kids

 

Germany – Helga tells us all about the nutcracker and serveral other holiday tradtitions.  This one was especially interesting to me because of my German heritage, and the kids loved meeting the giant nutcracker at the end.

Italy – La Befana tells a beautiful and sometimes sad story.  She was another of my favorites

The American Adventure – You can meet Mr. & Mrs. Claus here as well as learn about Kwanzaa and Hanukkah

Japan – A Daruma doll seller explains the customs of the Japanese New Year

Morocco – Taarji shares the customs of Ramadan

France – Pere Noel

United Kingdom – Father Christmas, loved him as well!

And finally,

Canada – Nowell the lumberjack searches for Santa at Christmas

I was so glad that we made time to do this!  It was such a special and unique experience.  We were able to get through most of them during one afternoon/evening and the rest we caught at different times throughout our trip.

If you’d like to know more about the Storytellers or any of the other things going on at Walt Disney World during the holidays, you can contact me at michelle@travelwiththemagic.com  It doesn’t cost you any extra to book your trip through me and then all of my planning services are completely free.  I’d love to help you plan your next trip!

Making more Magical Memories at Disney’s Beach and Yacht Club Resort!

Last Spring, I had the opportunity to stay at Disney’s Yacht Club resort.  It was a wonderful experience.  The Yacht Club resort is right next door to the Disney’s Beach Club resort.  Both resorts offer wonderful accommodations, gorgeous pools, yummy snack bars and fun family activities while overlooking one of Walt Disney World’s many lakes.  We were able to take a short water taxi ride over to Hollywood Studios.  In the evening, your family can enjoy a beach campfire with sing-a-long songs and a movie.

Another great aspect of staying at Disney’s Beach and Yacht Clubs is the access to Disney’s Boardwalk area.  The Boardwalk is a fun, family area that offers several great signature restaurants, a candy store and ice cream parlor, ESPN Zone, dueling pianos, street performers and more.

One more great convenience of staying at either the Yacht Club or Beach Club is the back door entrance you will have to Epcot.  When staying here, you are a short 10 minute walk right into the countries of Epcot.  You can also take the water taxi over to Epcot if you choose.

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!

 

 

 

The Story of Christmas

There is no place more magical during the holiday season than Walt Disney World.  From the Osborne Lights at Hollywood Studios to Cinderella’s Castle dripping with lights in theMagicKingdom, the halls are all decked across the entire resort, and it is a beautiful sight to see.

Of all the festive things going on during the Christmas season, my favorite has to be the Candlelight Processional.  The Candlelight Processional is a special holiday event that is held nightly starting in late November and running through the end of December.  It retells the story of Christmas with a celebrity narrator who is accompanied by an orchestra and an amazing choir.

There are three shows times each night, 5:00 pm, 6:45 pm and 8:15pm, held in the America Gardens Theater in the World Showcase inside the Epcot theme park.  As you can imagine this is a very popular show and seats fill up quickly.  You can arrive early and wait in the standby line for a seat or you can purchase a Candlelight Dining Package that includes lunch or dinner, a guaranteed seat for the show and a special spot to view Illuminations.

Lunch packages range from $32.99–$55.99 for adults, and $12.50–$17.99 for children ages 3–9

Participating lunch restaurants include: Biergarten, Coral Reef, Le Cellier Steakhouse, Les Chefs de France, Nine Dragons, Restaurant Marrakesh, Rose & Crown,SanAngelInn, Teppan Edo, Tokyo Dining, Tutto Italia and Via Napoli.

Dinner packages range from $49.99–$66.99 for adults, and $14.50–$26.99 for children ages 3–9

Participating dinner restaurants include: Biergarten, Coral Reef, The Garden Grill, La Hacienda de San Angel, Les Chefs de France, Nine Dragons, Restaurant Marrakesh, Rose & Crown,SanAngelInn, Teppan Edo, Tokyo Dining, Tutto Italia and Via Napoli.

Current celebrity narrators for this year are:

November 23 to November 25, 2012 — Geena Davis
November 26 to November 29, 2012 — Neil Patrick Harris
November 30 to December 1, 2012 — Whoopi Goldberg
December 2 to December 4, 2012 — Andy Garcia
December 5 to December 7, 2012 — Blair Underwood
December 8 to December 9, 2012 — James Denton
December 10 to December 13, 2012 — Jodi Benson
December 14 to December 16, 2012 — Lea Salonga
December 17 to December 19, 2012 — Alfre Woodard
December 20 to December 22, 2012 — Trace Adkins
December 23 to December 25, 2012 — Gary Sinise
December 26 to December 28, 2012 — Amy Grant
December 29 to December 30, 2012 — Marlee Matlin / Jack Jason

If you would like my help in planning your very own magical Christmas at Walt Disney World just contact me at michelle@travelwiththemagic.com.  It doesn’t cost you any extra to book your vacation through me and then all of my planning services are completely free!

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

amyb@travelwiththemagic.com

1-800-497-4674

Food & Wine, What a Wonderful Way to Dine

I’m pretty sure that my favorite time to visit Walt Disney World is in October.  The weather is great, the humidity from the summer months is all but gone, and it is still plenty warm enough for shorts and swimming.

I love all the fall decorations.

Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party is so much fun, with special fireworks, a parade and trick or treating inside theMagicKingdom.

But the biggest reason I love Disney World in October is because of the Food & Wine Festival held annually at Epcot.

I really enjoy strolling around World Showcase and snacking on different foods and drinks from locations all over the world.  I’ve tried things I never thought I would, and developed a love for all different kinds of food.  The portions are small, allowing you to sample many items, and if you are on one of the Disney Dining Plans you can use your snack credits for many of the offerings.  This is a great value for your snack credits!

There are seminars, demonstrations and special dining experiences that you can sign up for.  These will cost you extra and they vary in price.  But, there is plenty to see and do that is included in your regular park admission.  There are taste seminars, HGTV seminars, book signings and the popular “Eat to the Beat” concert series.  These concerts are held nightly during the festival in the American Gardens Theater and include performances by many well known artists.

I’d love to help you plan your trip to Walt Disney World!  You can email me at michelle@travelwiththemagic.com or give me call (800) 670-4312 ext 127.  You can also find me on facebook,  facebook.com/travelwiththemagicmichellebeam

Dine With Some Pretty Fantastic Fish!

You may have had the pleasure of enjoying the Seas with Nemo and Friends pavilion in Future World at Epcot but did you know you can actually dine inside of the giant aquarium – no scuba suit required?  Tucked around the back of the pavilion is the Coral Reef restaurant which not only offers delicious food but a unique dining experience as well.  This is one of only two table service restaurants located in Future World.

Inside the restaurant you’ll find colors complementary to the huge glass walls that showcase the aquarium.  Soft blues and aquas, along with shell lighting, enhance the under the sea mood.  The lights are dimmed and seating is tiered so everyone has a good view of the sea life.

 

At every table you will find a guide to the different fish as well as other animals you might see during your meal.  The aquarium is so huge that Spaceship Earth would fit inside with room to spare!  Also, keep your eyes open for the divers that feed the fish as well as a certain famous mouse that’s been known to make an appearance in his scuba suit.

The food here is, as you would expect, mostly seafood.  The menu offerings include lobster soup, trout, salmon, seasonal fish and lobster ravioli.  If you are a landlover you have options as well including chicken and steak and a vegetarian dish.  The kids menu includes choices such as Mahi Mahi, chicken breast, pizza and grilled fish.

Typical of the table service restaurants at Walt Disney World the desserts are not to be missed.  The most popular dessert by far is the Chocolate Wave – a chocolate cake filled with a liquid chocolate center served with ice cream and raspberries.  It is heaven on a plate!

The Coral Reef is a wonderful spot for a mid-day break or a nice dinner before Illuminations.  Kids (and adults) of all ages will enjoy the sea life and the relaxing atmosphere of this restaurant provides a respite from the crowds.

If you are using a Disney Dining Plan the Coral Reef will utilize one table service credit.  Priority seating reservations are available 180 days in advance and are recommended.  The restaurant is open for lunch and dinner.

I would love to help you plan your next Disney Destination vacation.  My personal concierge trip planning services are free.  Contact me at SusanH@travelwiththemagic.com and follow me on facebook at www.facebook.com/SusanHeidenrichTravelwiththeMagic

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 Robyn@traelwiththemagic.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!