Old Key West Resort

On my most recent Disney vacation, we stayed at Old Key West Resort. The whimsical beauty of this large resort was amazing. Full of pastel colors and gingerbread accents, the theme makes you feel as though you are nestled right in the Florida Keys!

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This was a special trip for my family, as our best friends were traveling with us for their first Disney visit. There were four of us adults, as well as four children ages 4, 3, 2 and 1. Needless to say we were hoping for a smooth stay with all the kids.

As we arrived for check in, all four kids were greeted and were able to pick out their own balloon swords to keep. We had just finished doing a little grocery shopping down the street at a local grocery store, and they were able to keep all of our groceries in their refrigerator until our room was ready. We headed toward the bus stop and headed straight for Magic Kingdom! We received a text a couple of hours later letting us know our room was ready.

That night when we returned we walked down to the Hospitality House area, where most of the main activity centers are. Here is where Olivia’s Café table service and Goods to Go quick service restaurants are located. They are situated facing the water where the ferry dock is located, which can take you straight to Downtown Disney.

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We stayed in a two bedroom villa, which gave us plenty of room for all of our kids. We were able to get up and fix breakfast for everyone in the full kitchen  every morning before heading into the parks.

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Old Key West has the following types of rooms available:

Deluxe Studio: will sleep up to 4 guests

  • 2 queen-size beds with 2 pillows each
  • TV and DVD player with remote, AM/FM clock radio
  • Iron and ironing board
  • Wet bar sink, small refrigerator, microwave, toaster and 4 cup coffee maker
  • Private porch or balcony

1 Bedroom Villa: will sleep up to 5 guests

  • 1 king-size bed in the master suite
  • 1 master bathroom with whirlpool tub
  • Queen-size sleeper sofa and 1 twin sleep chair in living room
  • TV and DVD player in living room and 19″ TV with remote and AM/FM clock radio in master bedroom
  • Full kitchen
  • Dining room table with chairs and a bar area
  • Laundry area with stacked washer and dryer, vacuum, broom and dustpan, starter box of detergent
  • Private porch or balcony with parsons table and 2 chairs

2 Bedroom Villa: will sleep up to 9 guests

  • 1 king-size bed the master suite
  • 2 queen-size beds in the 2nd bedroom
  • Queen-size sleeper sofa and 1 twin sleep chair in living room
  • TV plus DVD player in living room and 19″ TV with remote and AM/FM clock radio in each bedroom
  • 2 bathrooms (one is a master bathroom with whirlpool tub)
  • Full kitchen
  • Dining room table with chairs and a bar area
  • Laundry area with stacked washer and dryer, vacuum, broom and dustpan, starter box of detergent
  • Private porch or balcony with parsons table and chairs

3 Bedroom Villa: will sleep up to 12 guests

  • 1 king-size bed in the master suite
  • 2 queen-size beds in the 2nd bedroom
  • 2 full-size beds in the 3rd bedroom
  • 1 queen-size sofa bed in the living room
  • TV plus DVD player in living room and 19″ TV with remote and AM/FM clock radio in each bedroom
  • 3 bathrooms (one is a master bathroom with whirlpool tub)
  • Full kitchen
  • Dining room table with chairs and a bar area
  • Laundry area with stacked washer and dryer, vacuum, broom and dustpan, starter box of detergent
  • Private porch or balcony with parsons table and chairs

There is a wide variety of recreation and activities to choose from. Rent a watercraft or bikes for the family, enjoy a game of volleyball, tennis, basketball or bingo, or take a relaxing swim in one of the four heated pools. You can work out in the state of the art exercise room, or unwind in the sauna. Take the kids to the playground or one of the two game rooms. All of these options you can find right on the resort property.

Your options do not stop with recreational activities, there are also a few places to eat on property as well:

Olivia’s Café – table service (dining plan accepted)

Enjoy your meal inside, or outside on the covered terrace with beautiful views of the water! On the menu you will find comforting foods such as omelets or pancakes for breakfast, to pork chops, prime rib or seafood for lunch and dinner and so much more!

Good’s Food to Go – quick service and snacks (dining plan accepted)

Stop by for breakfast, lunch or dinner! Menu items include bagels, muffins and danishes for breakfast, and soup cheeseburgers and hot dogs for the rest of the day. Refills for your refillable drink mugs are here!

Gurgling Suitcase – dining plan not accepted

This Key West style bar offers mixed drinks, wine, and both domestic and imported beer.

Turtle Shack Snack Bar – quick service and snack (dining plan accepted) open seasonally

This snack bar is located in the Turtle Pond pool area. Menu items include nachos and cheese, personal size pizza and salads. This is another location to refill your dining plan mugs.

For more info about Old Key West or any other Disney property email Casey@travelwiththemagic.com

 

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.

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            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.

Bowling at DisneyWorld

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 Who would have thought of this, right?  Well, if you run in to a situation where you are looking for something to do, and still enjoy the Disney Magic, then make sure you check out Splitsville at Downtown Disney’s West Side.

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If you are familiar with the West Side, you might recall a really large building on a corner that was home to Virgin Music.  Well, this building has been turned in to a two-story retro-classic bowling show place.  There are all kinds of other bars, restaurants and entertainment options on the West Side, but this is the first sports bar to arrive.  In addition to the bowling, there are billiards, over 60 flat screen TVs, and even a dance floor.

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There are 30 lanes in all, scattered all over the two stories with four here, six there, you name it.  Your lanes are all set up beautifully with tables and chairs right at your lane so you can take in a snack or meal while you bowl as well.  Food options include pizza to steak and even sushi!  There is even a “lane concierge” that delivers your bowling shoes right to you.

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Splitsville is the place to go and have a great time with your family, group or just the two of you.   Splitsville is also Handicap accessible as there are elevators to the second floor.   Splitsville is open from 10 a.m. to 2 a.m. every day.  Be sure and check it out.  You’ll definitely enjoy all the fun is has to offer.

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If you’d like more information on great things to do at Disney, or a free quote for an upcoming trip, feel free to contact me at cindy@travelwiththemagic.com.  Also, follow me on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/TravelwiththeMagicCindyPresley .

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.

The Match Family

What in the world am I speaking of. You know, the families you see walking around in Disney World all dressed alike. I am one of those families. When we first took our kids to Disney World back in 2007 I had done little in the research department and was virtually clueless of how to make the most of my Disney vacation. After that first trip I became an avid reader of all things Disney and one thing I learned is that lots of families wear the same color shirts or even the exact shirt to the parks each day. At first I thought it was kind of dumb, but then I started to see how cool the pictures looked and decided for my next trip we were going to have matching shirts for at least one day. The other bonus to wearing the same color or shirt is that your family is always easy to find if you get separated.


I found a design online and added our names and date of the trip to it. Then I printed the design out on iron- on transfer paper and voila matching shirts. It took me a little while to learn that the iron on transfer paper for dark colors works best and was the easiest to work with. If you are not crafty or don’t have time you can go online to different websites and create a custom shirt just for your family.  For that trip we only had the one matching shirt but I really loved the pictures we took in them and we also got tons of comments from Cast members about our shirts. As most of you know if you look like a cool Disney family you may be the recipient of some extra “pixie dust”.
For our next trip I wanted to have matching shirts for each day so we pulled out our t-shirts that we purchased during some of our other trips. We always buy a new set when we go that all match or match as closely as possible. That trip I think we matched for four of the days so my pictures on those days were great. I can’t wait till our next trip in Feb 2013 to sport some new shirts and get more great pics.


For more information on anything Disney travel related contact me Laure Simms at laure@travelwiththemagic.com or call toll free 1-888-214-6954. I would love to help you plan your next Disney vacation.

Add some Disney Magic to your Christmas….

 

         What puts your family in the Christmas spirit?  Many activities put my family in a Christmas state of mind – wrapping presents, baking, and especially putting up holiday decorations.  For most families, holiday traditions reflect memories from Christmases gone by.  This is certainly true for any family who has spent Christmas at Walt Disney World.  The joy of the holiday season, combined with the magic of Disney creates Christmas memories that we will cherish forever.

          Although we would all love to spend every Christmas at Walt Disney World,  finances, schedules, and other obstacles might get in the way of this dream.  But everyone can bring a little of the Disney Magic into their homes, creating their own unique holiday experiences.  How can we do this?  Here are a few ideas.

small Disney Holiday tree

          If you have been to Disney at the holiday season, you know that there are beautiful Christmas trees everywhere.  Unique themes and decorations make each tree a delight to see.  Why not make a uniquely Disney tree in your home this Christmas?  You can use a big or small tree, depending on the space you have available.  Using ornaments that you have purchased on Disney vacations, character decorations you can pick up at chain stores, like Walgreen’s or Walmart, or ornaments your family makes (Mickey head ornaments would be especially easy to create, even for young ones), you can make create your own slice of Disney holiday magic, right in your own home.

Mickey Mouse & Jack Skellington

          Under your beautiful Disney tree, you can also add some Disney magic with character themed wrapping paper.  Classic characters, such as Mickey and Donald, our favorite princesses, and new friends like Wreck It Ralph are all featured on wrapping paper this year.  Who wouldn’t love to find a gift under the tree wrapped in their favorite characters?

          At the end of a busy day, sit back and enjoy your Disney decorations while enjoying another great Disney holiday tradition – gingerbread cookies and cocoa.  Walt Disney World at the holidays is a wonderland of gingerbread houses and other creations.  Delicious gingerbread cookies are sold throughout the parks.  You can easily recreate these cookies at home using your favorite gingerbread recipe, or even a pre-made gingerbread mix.  Use Mickey Mouse cookie cutters and other Disney decorations to make some fun and delicious holiday treats.

Snow White cookie cutters

          These are just a few ideas of how you can bring some Disney magic to your holidays.  There are many other ways that you can incorporate the Happiest Place on Earth into the most wonderful time of year.  Just be creative, have fun, and enjoy.  Here’s hoping that you and your family have a truly magical holiday!

           Contact me Tammy Cain at TammyC@Travelwiththemagic.com or you can call me at 1- 800-670-4312 ext 137 for your next magical vacation.

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!

Do you like to volunteer?

 On my last trip to Hollywood Studios, we just sat down to watch Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Show and they were asking for volunteers.  My kids both raised their hands but they wanted an adult.  I thought, why not, so I shot my hand in the air.  The announcer looked right at me and I was picked.  I ran down the huge arena and I was standing on the stage.

 They asked me a couple questions and then sent me to wardrobe.  I was put into a purple hooded robe and sent back onto the stage.  I got to be right in the action of the show.  I must say, it was a completely different experience being on the stage vs. watching the show.

Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Show is a 30 minute live show that takes clips from the movies and brings them to life.  There are explosions, a huge 12 foot tall rolling boulder, flames and a large stunt featuring a motorcycle and airplane.

Have you ever wanted to be part of the action?  Give me a call at: (877) 818-6106 and I will help plan the perfect action filled vacation!

Karen Kalinowski  – Karen@travelwiththemagic.com or (877) 818-6106

Finding Pixie Dust

At Disney World when magical things happen, it’s common to bring them up with the words “pixie dust”.  On our last trip, we were lucky enough to be sprinkled with Pixie Dust quite a few times!  Here are some of my favorite moments that we were lucky enough to capture with our PhotoPass photos.

On our very first morning in the parks, we headed straight for Fantasyland.  My oldest wanted nothing more than to ride Dumbo.  Unfortunately, it was raining and Dumbo was closed.  Carrousel, it’s a small world, Peter Pan’s Flight?  No.  So she and my husband went into a shop to kill time while my youngest rode the Carrousel with Grandma.  I snapped some pictures of the younger one riding and having fun and wandered into the shop.  I saw my husband and my daughter staring at Sleeping Beauty’s dress which was changing colors.  She was MESMERIZED.  Then I heard a camera click.  I turned around and there was a Disney PhotoPass photographer taking their picture.  He put his finger to his lips, asking me to be quiet.  When he was done, I handed him my PhotoPass card (while sobbing).  I couldn’t wait to see the pictures!

I was also surprised at how much time the characters took with our kids.  The first interaction I loved was my girls meeting Mike and Sulley (from “Monsters, inc”).  There was NO line and we walked right up.  Our youngest was a little afraid of Sulley but went straight to Mike – where he proceeded to try to get her to dance.  She was so confused!  But he just kept tapping his toes!

Woody and Buzz played tic-tac-toe in our autograph book and took my daughter’s monkey and played catch with him, even though there was a VERY long line.  They treated us like we were the only ones there.

Fawn (the fairy) had my daughters “fly” around the room.  And then, when she saw the Rosetta doll my oldest had and saw how DEVASTATED she was that Rosetta wasn’t there, she made sure she told her that she would talk to Rosetta and tell her she had stopped by.  She also made sure that the Rosetta doll was in the picture.

We also got to witness a Pixie Dust moment for another family.  While in line for Lotso, just as we had gotten to the front and were waiting for him to come back, we were approached by a Cast Member.  The Cast Member asked us if we minded if a Wish Child went ahead of us (a child who was there with Make-A-Wish).  He was scared to death of Lotso, but waved to him.  His family then stuck around for him to see our kids visit with Lotso.  After seeing my girls run to him and hug him, he got a second chance and seeing him hug Lotso is a memory I’ll have forever.

We had prepurchased the PhotoPass CD, so we stopped at every PhotoPass opportunity we had.  And there were a lot of character greetings where a photographer was present.  I’m so glad we did this, as we were able to get a LOT of pictures that I might have missed the “moment” if I had been the one taking the pictures.  By prepurchasing the CD, we saved a little bit of money and were then able to use them to make a photobook for each of the girls and a calendar.  They LOVE looking through the books of their old trips!

Do you want to find Pixie Dust?!   Contact me today!  I’d love to plan your family’s MAGICAL vacation!!  Amy@travelwiththemagic.com, http://www.facebook.com/TravelWithTheMagicAmy, or 1-800-670-4312, x129.

 

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!