Of course, when you think of the holidays - there are so many options to add on to the traditional Disney favorites!!! This year take a minute to visit the all new festivities at Universal Studios, Orlando AND take advantage of round trip transportation for a day trip to Busch Gardens, Tampa bay - Christmastown!!!
The traditional holiday events such as Grinchmas and Universal’s Holiday parade featuring Macy’s will be met with an ALL NEW treat at Universal Studios!!!
For the first time, Christmas is coming to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter!!! In both Diagon Alley AND Hogsmeade, there will be Christmas décor throughout. Be ready to enjoy festive holiday entertainment (like the Frog choir and maybe even Celestina Warbeck!!!). Your day wouldn’t be complete without sampling the seasonal food and drink options – I can’t wait to see what new Butterbeer choices emerge!!!
In the evening, prepare to be blown away with an all new evening show. A projection-mapping- night time show will display familiar scenes across Hogwarts castle!
If you’re looking for the return of the thrill rides – be sure to spend New Year’s Eve at Busch Gardens! The park will be open until 1am Jan. 1, 2018 – so be sure to “get your scream on” and welcome in the new year!!!
I can't wait to see everyone's pictures this year!!!! Let me know what your favorite "holiday happening" is! P.S. Thank you to my favorite sister for sharing her amazing pictures of my even "favorite-er niece" during their own Busch Garden's experience -- Merry Christmas Jeff, Shell and Kara!!!!
As the holiday season begins, the best place to celebrate (my personal opinion) is Florida!!! With so many places to visit it will be hard to decide where to go. This year, make way for some old favorites and some new debuts for Christmas and New Year’s!!!
Walt Disney World
NEW FOR NEW YEARS EVE -2017!
In addition to Disney’s Countdown to Midnight at Disney’s Contemporary Resort, you can bring in the New Year with two new events – a romantic Creole dining and a fun Pixar adventure for the entire family!
Dining Down in New Orleans: As you arrive at the Contemporary Resort, make your way to the Grand Republic Ballroom and prepare yourself for an evening of fine dining! Inspired by Disney’s “Princess and the Frog” New Orleans themes, you’ll be surrounded by French Quarter décor, listen to a classic jazz band playing authentic sounds of N’awlins and enjoy a fine dining experience. At the end of the night, view the Magic Kingdom’s fireworks from a private viewing area. NOTE: This experience is for guests 21 and older.
Pixar Party: Another possibility is to ring in the New Years with the entire family. Enter the Contemporary Resort’s “Ballroom of the America’s”. The décor is themed after family favorites like: “Andy’s Room” from the Toy Story series, and adventure in “Metro City” with The Incredibles and a fantastic journey inspired by Up. There are character Meet and Greets with Disney – Pixar Characters and fun activities, like face painting, and balloon artists. There is a buffet – style dinner with a DJ playing Radio Disney hits. At the end of the night, you can usher in 2018 by watching the Magic Kingdom fireworks from a special viewing area right in the Contemporary!
Some of Christmas fun will even start as early as September!! The Haunted Mansion will receive a holiday makeover inspired by Tim Burton’s “Nightmare Before Christmas”
The World of Color will experience its own makeover as you see the “Season of Light” projection and water show. Not only will you see scenes and stories from your favorite Disney movies, but you will hear holiday music accompanying the show!
Disney Cruise Line
Planning on spending the holidays on a Very Merry Christmas sailing? #1 – I’m totally jealous! #2 – Be sure you enjoy all these activities!!!
Kids should be sure to check out the holiday themed activities and crafts! Enjoy decorating stockings, creating festive cards and participating in a holiday scavenger hunt. Teens and Tweens even have their own dance parties!
In addition to Pirate Night, will also have a “Deck the Deck Tropical Holiday Party” with candy-cane limbo, dancing and games. Don’t worry – you won’t need a special costume for this party!
Along with all your favorite characters, you’ll also get a chance to gather in the atrium and hear Mrs. Claus read Christmas stories as she rocks by the tree!
And of course – nothing says Christmas like an island tram decorated to resemble a reindeer! Even Castaway Cay under-goes a North Pole transformation with Mr. and Mrs. Snowman, dressed in holiday outfits and even the occasional “snow” flurry!
Let me know your favorite Disney holiday tradition!!!
Eat Like a Scalawag – dinner!!!
The fun begins when you enter your stateroom and find a gift of party bandanas for each guest. I tied this around my neck, while my son tied this on his head – whatever works for you!
For your evening meal, your restaurant will have a transformed menu to fit the pirate occasion! No matter which restaurant you are in, they will serve the same menu – no worries – you won’t miss out! We were in Animator’s Palatte that night and the “show” around the restaurant was all pirate themed. Scenes from Peter Pan and Pirates of the Caribbean flashed across the walls – this turned into a great game to keep the younger ones occupied as we waited for our food. As each scene flashed on the walls – the kids had go guess which movie they were from!.
The menu itself will resemble an old treasure map and the kids will have their own “pirate hat” to wear throughout the meal. Meal options will have fun themed names, like “Jolly Rogers Barbeque Rib Salad”, or “Pirates Gold-en Pot Stickers” (menu items are subject to change).
Your servers, who will be dressed in pirate wear, will set the tone for the night with fun pirate themed jokes and “pirate talk” – be prepared to hear a lot of “Arrrrr matey!!” this evening!
Pirates in the Caribbean Deck Party
After the second dining, it will be time to PARTY!!!! Head to the main pool deck and be ready for some fun! This will be a great time to see Disney characters in their pirate gear – definitely bring your camera for meet and greets to snap a picture of your family with Mickey and his crew! Throughout the evening, there will be a pirate show and both trivia interactive games. At the end of the night will be a spectacular fireworks display (note that some itineraries do not allow for fireworks and the display could be canceled due to weather conditions)
Tips to help your Pirate Night go smoothly!!!
2. Gather your pirate gear BEFORE you arrive on board. While Disney usually provides their guests with fun pirate bandannas, the rest of your costume is up to you. The shops on board will have a TON of accessories and costumes to help you get ready for the night, but the prices are a bit high. I totally recommend going to a costume shop after Halloween, and gathering your hats and eye patches then!
3. Take some time before you leave to introduce your kids to all the Disney Pirates. While Captain Jack Sparrow is the most recent on the big screen – don’t forget Captain Hook! I recommend scheduling some time to have some family movie nights BEFORE you leave and watch Peter Pan! If kids are younger, they might already know Jake and the Neverland Pirates – but it’s a good idea to at least let them see some pictures of Pirates of the Caribbean to give them an idea of who might be at the party.
4. If your child has sensory issues – you want to take some precautions to help block out things that might overstimulate them. Bringing an ipod and ear buds is a great way to let them enjoy the sights, but have soothing, familiar sounds playing in their ears. If you feel like it might be too much – I would actually recommend skipping the party. Instead – have something else that is fun and special for them to do. Maybe surprise them with a room celebration (decorations that your stateroom attendant can put up) and a special treat waiting in the room!
Let me know your favorite Pirate Night tips!!!
At least for a few more weeks! One of the best ways to end your enchanted Disney day on the perfect note is to relax with a beverage and go over all the “highs” of the day! If you’re staying in one of the monorail resorts, a fun twist is to try a different location each night! These are my Top 5 favorite drinks to sip while I unwind at the end of the day – each one quality ensured by your favorite Mouse Planner!
#2: Disney Springs pick!
When it's time to take a break from the parks, you need to head to Bongo's Cuban Cafe, located in Disney Springs!!! Ask for the "Traditional Mojito" -- but be sure that you know what size you'd like!! I took our servers advice and went LARGE! I can tell you - it was worth it!!!
#5: Just for Fun!
- At the Polynesian - ANYTHING at Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto is perfect. With so many fun tropical drinks to choose from – it’s hard to pick. But watch out – your bar order may trigger some surprises from the staff AND the room decorations!!!
ULTIMATE PICK!!!! Disney has just extended it’s amazing Highway in the Sky Dine Around through September!!!. This was introduced during the holidays and became so popular, Disney continued the experience. Check in takes place at The Wave…of American Flavors at Disney’s Contemporary Resort. From there – enjoy a five course progressive dinner at each monorail resort!!
I’m dying to try this one – if anyone gets to go before me – I would LOVE a full report!!!
As Disneyland is about to launch its new Max Pass option (July 19, 2017), I’ve had so many people ask me about the differences between Walt Disney World in FL and Disneyland in Southern California. Growing up on both coasts, I’ve visited both and BOTH are amazing; but there are definitely differences to be aware of when visiting each!
#1: Theme parks and attractions
#2: Magical Express
Walt Disney World in Florida:
If you’re arriving by plane and flying into Orlando International airport and staying on at a Walt Disney World resort, you are able to take advantage of Disney’s free transportation, the Magical Express, to and from your resort. Your bags will be taken from the airport to your resort and you will be whisked away in an air conditioned motor coach to your final destination – Walt Disney World property!
Disneyland in Southern California:
If you arrive by plane in Southern California, there are many options to get you from your airport to Disneyland property, but there is not a free Magical Express option. Depending on which airport you fly into, there are different transport options available – be sure to check which is best for your family!
#3: Fast Passes
Disneyland in Southern California:
Disneyland also has Fast Passes, but guests are not able to “pre-select”. Instead, once you are inside the parks, you travel to the attraction that you would like to ride later, scan your admission ticket, then go ride another attraction while you wait for your Fast Pass time.
NEW: I previously mentioned Disneyland’s “Max Pass” option has launched, and is available at a price of $10 per guest, per day. The MaxPass will work within the Disneyland app and allow you to select a FastPass electronically for an attraction instead of having to walk to each individual attraction every time you want a new Fast Pass. Max Pass also allows each guest to receive unlimited PhotoPass privileges, too, including attraction photos.
The Max pass will NOT eliminate the traditional free Fast Pass system, it will simply be there as another option for guests.
Walt Disney World in Florida
When you are thinking about where to dine during your Walt Disney World vacation – your magic number is 180! All guests are able to make dining reservations 180 days in advance (from your check in date). If you are staying at one of Walt Disney World resort, guests are even able to secure those hard to find reservations and character dining 180 + 10 days out!
While visiting the Florida location, you are also able to sign up for one of Disney’s Dining Plans. There are three versions of dining plans available for those staying at a Walt Disney World resort. The dining plans is purchased and added to your reservation before you arrive and provides you with an allotted number of meals, drinks and snacks for your stay.
#5: Magic Bands
Disneyland in Southern California
Another difference between the two locations would be that Disneyland does not utilize the Magic Band system. Instead, your park ticket will be used for your theme park entry, photo pass option and Fast Pass / Max Pass options.
So – while so many ask the question, “which is better” – I can honestly say BOTH!
Disneyland is where the magic began - I can walk down Main Street and know that Walt's original vision is all around. Everything in Disneyland is just a step away and easily accessible for all ages.
Walt Disney World is an opportunity to truly see the world without leaving the comforts of home. One morning I can explore an African safari and the next minute be in the world of Avatar -- unbelievable!
Do you have a favorite location!
During the day, you can take the opportunity to visit the ship’s Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique, which will be transformed into the “Pirate’s League” for this event. This option is available to entire families – not just little ones! You will be made over into your choice of pirate (they will have choices for you to look at when you arrive). Once you’re finished – be prepared to swear a pirate oath and be ready to plunder the
Eat Like a Scalawag – dinner!!!
The fun begins when we entered our stateroom and found a gift of party bandanas for each guest. I tied mine around my neck, while my little guy tied his on his head – whatever works for you!
For your evening meal, your restaurant will have a transformed menu to fit the pirate occasion! No matter which restaurant you are in, they will serve the same menu – no worries – you won’t miss out! We were in Animator’s Palatte that night and the “show” around the restaurant was all pirate themed. Scenes from Peter Pan and Pirates of the Caribbean flashed across the walls – this turned into a great game to keep the younger ones occupied as we waited for our food. As each scene flashed on the walls – the kids had to guess which movie was being shown!.
The menu itself resembled an old treasure map and the kids had their own “pirate hat” to wear throughout the meal. Meal options had fun themed names, like “Jolly Rogers Barbeque Rib Salad”, or “Pirates Gold-en Pot Stickers” (menu items are subject
Our servers were dressed in pirate wear and totally set the tone for the night with fun pirate themed jokes and “pirate talk”. Be prepared to hear a lot of “Arrrrr matey!!” this evening!
Pirates in the Caribbean Deck Party
After the second dining, it will be time to PARTY!!!! Head to the main pool deck and be ready for some fun! This will be a great time to see Disney characters in their pirate gear – definitely bring your camera for meet and greets to snap a picture of your family with Mickey and his crew! Throughout the evening, there will be a pirate show, dancing, music, trivia interactive games and so much more!!! At the end of the night there will be a spectacular fireworks display (note that some itineraries do not allow for fireworks and the display could be canceled due to weather conditions).
Tips to make sure everyone enjoys their pirate night!
2. Gather your pirate gear BEFORE you arrive on board. While Disney often provides their guests with fun pirate bandannas, the rest of your costume is up to you. The shops on board will have a TON of accessories and costumes to help you get ready for the night, but the prices are a bit high. I totally recommend going to a costume shop after Halloween, and gathering your hats and eye patches then!
3. Take some time before you leave to introduce your kids to all the Disney Pirates. While Captain Jack Sparrow is the most recent on the big screen – don’t forget Captain Hook! I recommend scheduling some time to have some family movie nights BEFORE you leave and watch Peter Pan! If kids are younger, they might already know Jake and the Neverland Pirates – but it’s a good idea to at least let them see some pictures of Jack Sparrow and the Pirates of the Caribbean to give them an idea of who might be at
4. If your child has sensory issues – you want to take some precautions to help block out things that might overstimulate them. Bringing an ipod and ear buds is a great way to let them enjoy the sights, but have soothing, familiar sounds playing in their ears. If you feel like it might be too much – I would actually recommend skipping the party. Instead – have something else that is fun and special for them to do. Maybe surprise them with a room celebration (decorations that your stateroom attendant can put up for an additional price) and a special treat waiting in the room!
Let me know if you have any more tips for how to have a swashbuckling time at
Pirate Night on Disney Cruise Line!!!
Disney's newest land, "Pandora - World of Avatar", opened over the weekend and I have so much to share with you! We've had our "Ears to the ground" as our agents have been at the parks gathering information for you the last few days! From attraction descriptions, souvenir options and yummy new food and drink choices -- here are my top 5 tips that will help you enjoy your time there!
Tip #1: Know the layout of Pandora
When you enter the Animal Kingdom, you will need to make your way towards the Tree of Life to reach the path to Pandora. The map below (on the right) shows the park overview - Pandora is the land all the way at the bottom left of the map. The land is separated from the other parts of the theme park and you will be able to simply enjoy the beauty surrounding you without the noise of roller coasters. The World of Avatar itself is not a huge area – so be aware that crowd levels will increase as the day continues. We've read that cast members are keeping track of numbers of people who enter Pandora and people may be turned away due to intense crowd numbers.
Tip #2: Investigate the "Flight of Passage" attraction BEFORE you get
Flight of Passage does have a Fast Pass option and if this is a MUST DO for your family, we highly recommend that you choose this as one of your options.
There is a restriction on Fast Passes for this land. You cannot have a Fast Pass for BOTH the Flight of Passage AND the Na'vi River Journey. Take some time to read through both attraction's descriptions and talk your family, then make your Fast Pass decision. Once you decide upon your Pandora Fast Pass - the rest of your day's Fast Pass choices can come from anywhere in Animal Kingdom.
Before you decide to ride – here is a little information that might help your decision process. If you love Soarn’ – Flight of Passage can be explained as Soarn’ TIMES A HUNDRED! You will be riding on the back of a “banshee” and through virtual technology, you will experience your flight, complete with smells and mists of water (4D). For those of you who might experience motion sickness – this is less jolty than Star Tours, but there is a definite feeling of flying through the sky.
After traveling through a detailed queue, you enter a room where you are “genetically matched” to an avatar. Then, you are brought to a room with your “banshee”. There are 16 “banshees” in a room and you ride as a single rider. If you're unsure if one of your little one would be alright riding by themselves - you might want to use Disney's Rider Swap.
Once seated, a mechanism will enclose your legs and back so you will be secured to the attraction, and you are given 3D glasses.
If you have small children, the glasses have a hard time staying on their heads. For boys and girls a hat might work, but be aware that they might need to hold the glasses on their face.
While you are exploring Pandora, know that there are two options for when you get the munchies.
NEW!!!!! Disney’s new Mobile Food and Beverage Ordering will be available for use in the Quick Service Restaurant located in Pandora. This can be found on your My Disney Experience app and allows you to avoid lines. The process is super easy, but cannot be used if you will be paying with Disney Gift Cards, or if you are using Disney's Dining Plan credits.
Let me know if you want more information on how to use this new Dining Feature!!!
Satu’li Canteen – This is the Quick Service Restaurant that is located in the World of Avatar. This location serves breakfast, lunch and dinner – and everything is a good amount of food for the money. According to our Ears sources, the hash was delicious and I have to admit - my husband is chomping (literally) at the bit to try the oatmeal with whiskey soaked raisins (must be 21 or older for this one!)
Pongu Pongu Lounge – This is a walk up beverage location (similar to the size of Aloha Isle in the Magic Kingdom). Be ready for some amazing drinks, like the “Night Blossom” – a mixture of limeade with Apple and Desert Pear flavors topped with Passion Fruit Boba Balls; this is available in BOTH alcoholic AND non- alcoholic versions – fun for the whole family!!! There is ONE snack sold here, at the time this was posted, Pongu Lumpia – so if you are looking more for food items – bypass this line and head straight to the Canteen! By midday - the line was reported as being long with no shade while you wait; you might want to come back later when the sun has drooped a bit.
When you cruise concierge level, you get the advantage of requesting your on-board activities and excursions 125 days before your sail date. These are submitted even before the Castaway Club members (those who have sailed on Disney Cruise Line multiple times). If you are a first time (non-concierge) cruiser, the earliest you are able to sign up for activities would be 75 days before your departure date.
As a result, many excursions, cabanas on Disney’s private island, Castaway Cay, or character activities could have booked by the time your booking window opens. By cruising as a Concierge guest, your are much more likely to score the high demand excursions - like swimming with the dolphins, or a day at the Atlantis resort to
enjoy the water slides!!!
Once you are on board – the service doesn’t stop! You will have a Concierge team dedicated to making your stay even more enjoyable!!! And if you are travelling with the very young, or elderly – travelling Concierge level is priceless. Your team will make / change dining reservations for you, sign you up for on – board classes, take care of Photo Pass options, even help with clothing suggestions for brunch at Remy and Palo!
Now it’s time to say, “See ya real soon” to Mickey – and your Concierge Team is there to make your Debarkation Day as smooth as possible. You can take care of your on board account right there in the Concierge Lounge – no need to go to Guest Services for last minute items! Once you have all your carry on luggage and are ready to leave – a member of your concierge will whisk you down an express elevator and lead you to the front of the line. No waiting and no crowds again – heaven!!
You probably have credit cards already in your wallet that unbeknownst to you could add up to Disney savings! You can use your existing credit cards to buy Disney gift cards. Each time you make a payment towards your vacation balance – you can plug in the gift card number --- the same as you would a credit card.
If you have multiple gift cards that you would like to use at one time – be sure to visit Disneygiftcard.com, where you can load all your cards onto one.
Think about signing up for a Disney Visa card. Each time you use your card, you accumulate Disney “Rewards points”. Before you leave for your trip, load your points onto a “Rewards card”; your Rewards card can then be used like cash, at select locations, while you’re on your Disney vacation. Additionally, your Disney Visa card has discounts in qualifying restaurants, stores, spa services and tours. Don’t forget to ask at every register to see if a Disney Visa discount applies!