Podcast Episode 138: Goofus and Gallant Go To Disney

For just a bit of fun, we take characters, Goofus and Gallant from Highlights magazine and use them to demonstration how to plan a Disney vacation.  Goofus does things his way and Gallant plans how he likes.  See which one plans the more magical vacation!

Happy listening!

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Podcast Episode 137: Disney Water Parks

Have you ever wondered what Disney’s two water parks have to offer?  Wonder no more as we dive head first into all the features and fun you can find at Blizzard Beach and Typhoon Lagoon!

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Top 5 Reasons To Go To Disney Without Kids

In November I was really excited to take an adults only trip with my favorite Dole Whippies to Walt Disney World.  You would not believe the amount of people who were incredulous about the idea of going to Disney without my child, with other adults!  But let me tell you, it was an amazing choice!  Here are some great reasons why you should take a kid free trip to Walt Disney World.


5. No sharing! Unless you want to!  You know how your child will order ice cream that is  blue just because it is blue, and you order a delicious mint chocolate chip scoop?  Except yours always looks more appealing once it shows up.  Well no sharing required, you get that Dole Whip to your self!

4. Explore the World Showcase!  This is one place it is hard to appreciate with kids who are just looking for their next snack or attraction.  You can really soak in the atmosphere of the different pavilions and experience all there is to do at your own pace!

3.You don’t have to get the light up toy.  You know, the kind on the cart that comes out at dusk and they are so bright and flashy and your kid MUST have it and you have to figure out how to get it home.  Not this time! You can stroll smugly by and keep your wallet in your purse or pocket.


2. Sleep in and stay out late.  Both of these things can be very hard to accomplish with kids of any ages, they get tired or grumpy or both.  Well this happens with adults too, but it is generally a little easier to handle.  You can take advantage of nighttime extra magic hours and enjoy really low crowds.  No reason to get up early with the little ones, just close the curtain and hit snooze!

1. Freedom, sweet freedom.  You get to choose which attraction you want to do, which character to meet.  You can push lunch back by and hour and not have too many melt downs.  Or maybe you decide to linger over a drink or dessert.  Or you can try on all the tiaras in the shop in Germany and accomplish nothing else that day.  But that is ok because you do what you want.photopass_visiting_mk_393054706674

I can’t recommend enough how much fun it is to feel like a kid at Walt Disney World by going without kids. It is good for the soul and trust me, you will be a better parent for it when you return home!

 

Podcast Episode 125: Club Level Overview

Have you been curious about what club level is and what it has to offer?  This week we give you the low down on what you can expect if you stay club level at a Disney resort.  From the rooms, amenities, and food offerings, staying club level offers you a special something extra for your next Disney vacation.

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Podcast Episode 123: We Gave It A Try

We make it a point to try new things at Disney each time we visit so we can report back to our readers and listeners about our findings.  Join us this week as we talk about the most recent new experiences we’ve had for the first time while at Disney!

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Podcast Episode 118: November Girls Trip Report

Join us as we talk about all the fun things we did during our recent girls trip to Walt Disney World!  We tried new food (hello, Food & Wine Festival!), new attractions, and new shows!

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Fun Walt Disney World Splurges

There are plenty of ways to spend your hard earned dollars at Walt Disney World, but you don’t have to spend them all on your park tickets or resort room.   Here are some ways to try out something a little different on your Walt Disney World vacation.

Club Level rooms- This splurge come with great views, continental breakfast, snacks, beverages (including alcoholic beverages), desserts and cordials.  Plus if you need itinerary, dining, childcare, transportation services, or golf time set up concierge services can do that. See our series here.

Theme Park View rooms- If you really want to make your family feel special choose a theme park view at select resorts. You cannot beat waking up this type of view or watching fireworks from your bed! 

VIP Tour Services-This is an amazing experience but comes with a big price tag.  So this is a good splurge to share with friends.  Groups are limited to 10 people and must me a minimum of 7 continuous hours.

A VIP Tour Guide smiles as he delivers an excited family to a Walt Disney World Resort destination

Photo via disney.com

Spa Services- There are a few spas to choose from at the Grand Floridian, Dolphin, and Saratoga Springs. Some services offered are massages, facials, nails and hair.

Epcot Seas Adventures- There are a few choices such as Dolphins in Depth, a 3 hour encounter for those 13 and up. There is also the Aqua Tour which is snorkeling in the 5.7 million gallon tank for a 2.5 hour experience for those 8 and up.  If you are SCUBA certified and 10 years and older you can do the DiveQuest experience. During this 3 hour experience you can swim with over 6,000 sea creatures.

Guests clad in SCUBA diving equipment swim beneath a rock arch in a tropical underwater environment

Photo via disney.com

Afternoon Tea at the Grand Floridian- high tea is served every day in the afternoon features specially blended teas, sandwiches and desserts.  What a fun and fancy way to add a little splurge to your vacation.

Victoria & Albert’s- This AAA five diamond restaurant experience located in the Grand Floridian is the ultimate splurge, particularly the Chef’s Table with is a 13 course dinner created  just for your party.

A Chef greets a table of Guests dining at Victoria and Albert's restaurant

Photo via disney.com

 

 

Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue is a zany vaudeville comedy show and served with all you care to eat fired chicken, BBQ ribs, salad, and strawberry shortcake.  Drinks include unlimited draft beer, wine and sangria for those over 21.  This two hour event takes place in Pioneer Hall at Fort Wilderness.  Check out Tara’s review here.

Have you ever splurged for something really unique at Walt Disney World?  If so what has been your favorite splurge, we’d love to hear!

Is It Worth it?

As a travel agent I get this question pretty frequently, and you may be surprised on what topics this question is asked.   These are my opinions on whether something is worth doing at Walt Disney World.  These are going to be my opinion but my opinion is also based on personal experience as well as data gathered from former clients.

 

Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique: At least once, especially if you have a kid who is crazy about princesses.  I would highly recommend if you are going to drop the cash you will want a reservation at Cinderella Castle in the Magic Kingdom.  The packages can be pretty pricey so to save, bring your own costume and accessories instead of purchasing the full package.

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Pirates League: This is very much worth it!  It is a great value and a fun experience for boys and girls.  In fact unlike Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique, adults can also get a makeover here too!  They have pirate and mermaid choices and it is a really good value in comparison.

 

Getting Up Early: YES!  I cannot say yes enough.  The parks are least busy when they first open.  You also get to see some neat stuff like the Welcome Show at the Magic Kingdom.  How can you possibly be the family of the day if you are sleeping all morning?  Some restaurants even offer early breakfast reservations inside the parks which means you have beat the crowds inside the parks.  Go ahead and take that afternoon nap now, you deserve it.

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To Try ______ Attraction: Well this is a no-brainer, yes!  You should absolutely try any attraction, ride or show at least once unless you have a medical condition in which it is advised against.  You may never know when you find your new favorite!

 

Park Hopper Tickets:  In most cases, yes.  This ticket makes your vacation so flexible.  It can be a little work bouncing from park to park but if you are like a lot of people and find Hollywood Studios and Animal Kingdom to be half day parks this ticket option gives you the chance to save the rest of your day by hopping over to another park.  If you are traveling with really young children it might not be worth the hassle.  But if you are traveling with teens or adults only it is so worth the splurge.  I have travelled with and without the Park Hopper and I will absolutely give up a character meal before I give up with Park Hopper!

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Party Tickets: Yes, especially if you do not have park tickets for that day.  You can enter the Magic Kingdom at 4pm on the party days even when the party doesn’t start until 7pm.  You get special parades and firework shows, extra treats and character meet and greets.  The parks are less crowded as well so you can get on your favorites rides with a minimal wait time!

Refillable Mugs: Yes, but you have to do the math!  So as of 2016 the mugs are $17.  Say you are staying 5 days it would be $3.40 per day, plus you keep the mug.  For me this is very much worth it.  I drink coffee or iced tea in the morning so I would fill up each morning before going to the parks.  Then on an afternoon break I will fill up with Powerade, lemonade or more iced tea.  Then in the evening before bed I’m loading up on more water or Powerade.  Some quick math tells me that I am coming out ahead plus I have a cute souvenir cup to take home!

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Cinderella’s Royal Table:  Not really a good value.  This restaurant located inside Cinderella Castle is a character meal that will run you about $60 a person or 2 Table Service credits.  While you cannot beat the location or atmosphere there are other really great choices for princess character dining (Akershus, 1900 Park Fare) that won’t cost as much and the food is really good.  If you were planning to do this as a special treat or celebration then it may be worth it to do once.

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The Dining Plan: Yes, if used correctly!  The dining plan can absolutely save you money if you plan your meals correctly to get the best value.  If you split meals a lot or routinely order something that isn’t an entrée they no, it may not be worth it.  If you like to go on vacation knowing it is all paid for then this is very helpful, no Disney food sticker shock either.  So how do you figure out if it is worth getting?  You will have to do a bit of work checking menu prices and then figuring out if what you would order for each meal plus 2 snacks and if you would use the refillable mug (drinks start at about $3) and then look at the cost per day of the dining plan.

 

Preferred Rooms: Yes, a thousand times yes! Want to save yourself some walking at the beginning and end of the day?  How about saving yourself a long trip to the pool or food court?  Taking kids to Walt Disney World?  Then get a preferred room, it is worth the price difference from a standard, especially at the Value resorts.

 

Club Level: This is a it depends.  If you are already on the dining plan it may not be worth it, but if you are looking for a way to plus up a vacation with a great room that has snacks provided a couple times a day plus free drinks?  Then yeah you will want to look at it.  The big seller is that it includes some beers and wine as well as bottled water.  You could make breakfast out of the offerings.  There are also midday snacks offered and hot appetizers in the evenings and desserts in the late evenings!  This can be a fantastic value!  Check out Tara’s Club Level series here for specific resort information.

 

T-Shirts, Misting Fans, Glowing Trinkets: Nope, save yourself a lot of big bucks and pick up these things prior to going on vacation.  You can find misting fans and the cheap glowing, spinning toys at pretty much any dollar store, Walgreens, Walmart stores for about ¼ of the price.  The same could be said for the shirts you can purchase at Walt Disney World.  Your basic Tshirt will set you back about $25.  Go ahead and check out with Disney Store online, Target, Walmart, Forever 21, Torrid, Hot Topic, H & M, and Etsy just to name a few.

 

How to Allocate Park Days at Walt Disney World

Planning a vacation to Walt Disney World is very subjective because each family will have their favorites.  Family dynamics and ages are going to vary.  As travel planners we all get asked by our clients, how to allocate the number of park days over your vacation.  Granted having a Park Hopper ticket option will help you get to all the parks, but you have to factor in travel time from park to park and see if it is worth it to park hop.  A Park Hopper ticket option allows you to visit more than one park a day.  If you are short on time this might be a good options.  It is also a great option for couples and solo travelers.

Here is a breakdown of how I would use my days at Walt Disney World.

1 day ticket: (I know the horror!) but you will have to choose ahead of time if it will be at Magic Kingdom or Epcot, Hollywood Studios, or Animal Kingdom because the pricing is slightly different.  But this is a no-brainer for me: Magic Kingdom

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2 day ticket:  Magic Kingdom & Epcot.  Unless you have a person who is into Star Wars than I would suggest Hollywood Studios.  But with Magic Kingdom and Epcot having the most attractions these will give you the most bang for your buck.

3 day ticket: Magic Kingdom, Epcot and Hollywood Studios.  Sure you may prefer to hit up Animal Kingdom but I feel that Hollywood Studios still has more to experience on a short trip.

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4 day ticket:  Visit each park one time for first time visitors.  If you have been before or aren’t interested in Hollywood Studios or Animal Kingdom I would suggest 2 days at Magic Kingdom, 1 at Epcot and then 1 and either Hollywood Studios or Animal Kingdom.

5 day tickets: With 5 days I would check out Magic Kingdom twice and all of the other parks once.  I believe this a fairly common arrangement for many people taking a 5 day vacation and it gives you plenty of time in Magic Kingdom plus a visit to each other park.

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6 day tickets: Magic Kingdom and Epcot twice with a single day spent at both Animal Kingdom and Hollywood Studios.

7 day tickets: Here is where it gets tricky.  I would go with 3 days at Magic Kingdom (taking it easy), 2 at Epcot and again 1 at both Hollywood Studios and Animal Kingdom

8 day tickets: You could visit each park twice, or go to Magic Kingdom 3 times, Hollywood Studios and Epcot twice and Animal Kingdom once.

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9 day tickets: Magic Kingdom and Epcot 3 times each, Hollywood Studios and Animal Kingdom get the rest so I would probably go with 2 Hollywood Studios days and 1 Animal Kingdom day.

10 day tickets: So many days to use up here!  Magic Kingdom, and Epcot 3 times each, then Hollywood Studios and Animal Kingdom twice.  What a fun vacation that would be!

You may find having the Park Hopper is also a great advantage especially with longer trips.  You may want to pop over to Animal Kingdom in the morning and then finish the evening with fireworks at Magic Kingdom.  And of course if the weather isn’t cooperating a Park Hopper is really handy.

Do take into consideration when planning your park days special events like hard ticket parties, events like a runDisney race.  Or if it is near a holiday or school break the parks can get very crowded so it is important to look ahead for what is going on at Walt Disney World before planning your park days.  And of course a great travel agent can help you with this!

Do you have a favorite combination of parks to visit on a vacation?  We would love to hear it!

Roller Coasters at Walt Disney World

Walt Disney World is known to be a family friendly park, but that doesn’t mean they don’t have their share of roller coasters. Having grown up not far from Cedar Point I am a roller coaster junkie! But Disney does have pretty great roller coasters that will please even the most-picky of riders.

 

Epcot is sadly lacking a roller coaster. This isn’t to say there aren’t a few thrilling attractions, but no roller coasters.

 

Magic Kingdom

The Barnstormer is a junior roller coaster located in Fantasyland. It is the perfect beginner roller coaster for smaller children. It is themed with Goofy as pilot and is sure to please the young and young at heart. It is short coaster so if they don’t care for it, it doesn’t last long. FastPass+ is offered for this attraction, but not recommended.

Height Requirement: 35 inches

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The Seven Dwarfs Mine Train is also located in Fantasyland. It is the newest roller coaster at Walt Disney World and it is extremely innovative! It is a roller coaster combined with a Disney dark ride. Partially inside and outside with Audio Animatronic characters from Snow White. The cars on the coaster swing from side to side so the ride could not be smoother. It offers FastPass+ and it is highly recommended, this line is long. It also has an interactive queue so you will be entertained if you have to stand in line.

Height Requirement: 38 inches

Space Mountain is the original Disney roller coaster. Located in Tomorrowland, you will blast off in your rocket ship in this indoor dark roller coaster. The coaster doesn’t get above 27 MPH, but the darkness really adds to the thrill factor. This coaster is pretty bumpy and jerky, so ride with caution. There is FastPass+ and a single rider line and it is recommended to make use of either of these for the shortest wait.

Height Requirement: 44 inches

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Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, located in Frontierland is another great Disney roller coaster. Themed as a runaway mine train in an old mining town, you will love the thrills of this roller coaster, with its charming clicking and clacking up the hills. It has three large hills and so many neat things to look at as you take in the attraction. This is perfect for kids who are feeling a bit more brave but aren’t up to Space Mountain just yet. The ride is relatively smooth and is fun to do day or night! It has FastPass+ and it is a pretty good use if you are looking for mild thrills.

Height Requirement: 40 inches

 

Hollywood Studios:

Rock ‘N’ Roller Coaster Starring Aerosmith is the single coaster in Hollywood Studios, but it is an awesome one! If you are wanting thrills this indoor roller coaster will take you from 0 to 60 in 2.8 seconds. This roller coaster features the music of Aerosmith and you will even see some familiar faces in the preshow. This coaster does go upside down so be aware of that when you get in line. It has Fastpass+ and a single rider line. It is a fantastic use of your FastPass+ but if you also go at park opening you can get on the attraction a couple times without long waits.

Height Requirement: 48 inches

Rock 'n' Roller Coaster

Animal Kingdom:

Primeval Whirl: This is an off-the-rack coaster. That means you will find similar rides in many amusement parks, it is also a spinning coaster. Located in Dinoland USA, it is themed with a time travel and dinosaurs. This attraction can be pretty jerky so if you have neck or back issues stay clear of this. It does have FastPass+ but don’t waste one on this.

Height Requirement: 48 inches

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Expedition Everest. This is hands down the best coaster at Walt Disney World! It doesn’t have any large drops but it makes up for that by taking you backwards pretty quickly and for a long time. It is amazing to get to the top and realize there is no more track and the only way down is backwards. The inside parts of the attraction with the Yeti are thrilling and well themed. While this may be a coaster for those brave little ones who meet the height requirement, you will not want to miss it if you are a thrill seeker. It does have FastPass and a single rider line which can make your wait a lot shorter, it is recommended to make use of this.

Height Requirement: 44 inches
Do you have a favorite roller coaster at Walt Disney World?  If so, let us know what it is!