7 Things to Know Before Your Walt Disney World Vacation

  1. You will walk and be on your feet a lot. Walt Disney World is big and even getting from the transportation to the turnstiles will be a walk. Of course while in line you will also be on your feet.  The best help for this is to wear comfortable broken in shoes and socks and make sure to take breaks!  Check out Shannon’s article on prepping to walk.
  2. You cannot avoid the lines. You can use FastPass, but you will still be standing in lines for your FastPasses. You’ll definitely spend time waiting in the standby lines and if you need food, chances are good you will wait in line for a little bit there as well.  Just go in knowing that you will stand in some lines just about everywhere at Walt Disney World.
  3. FastPass is free and easy to use. FastPass is included with your park ticket, so use them! And they are indeed easy to use.  You get to choose an initial 3 but after that you can make more, one at a time.  FastPass gives you a lot of flexibility to change plans on the go using the My Disney Experience app.


  1. There are a few ticket options. Choosing the best ticket option for your party can require some planning, but knowing what options are available are important. There is the base ticket which is 1 park per day, or the Park Hopper which allows you into multiple parks per day.  Then there is the Water Parks, Fun, and More ticket which allows you entrance into the two Disney water parks as well as mini golf, Disney Quest and other extras.  Knowing what you will use on a vacation can save you a lot of money.


  1. Check the park hours and know about special events. You will want to do some research on these events as they can have an effect on hours and closures. For instance starting in September and October Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party and in November and December, Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party will cause the Magic Kingdom to close at 7pm.  This can really change your plans if the park closes much earlier than expected and you will be unable to see fireworks during your visit.  Other special event such as Food and Wine, and Flower and Garden can have an effect on crowds as well.



  1. Don’t overlook attractions. It is easy to judge an attraction but a spin on the People Mover can be relaxing and fun. These smaller attractions can end up becoming favorites if you give them a chance.


  1. You can and should enjoy your resort. The resorts are so well themed, they have amazing pools and some cool amenities. Many resorts have multiple restaurants and bars so there are great places to get bite to eat or drink.    It is very tempting to spend all your time in the parks, but the resorts have great activities such as movies under the stars, campfires with s’mores, and fun games around the pool that you should make the time to check out.




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.


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.


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!


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!


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.


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.


Candlelight Processional 2015- Narrators Added

Disney has just released additional names of narrators for this year’s Candlelight Processional at Epcot. From November 27 until December 30 you can catch a lovely retelling of the Christmas story with a full orchestra and choir at the American Gardens Theater in Epcot. Showtimes are at 5:00pm, 6:45pm, and 8:15pm nightly.

  • 11/27 – 11/29 — Gary Sinise
  • 11/30 – 12/3 — Neil Patrick Harris
  • 12/4 – 12/5 — Whoopi Goldberg
  • 12/6 – 12/8 — Joe Morton
  • 12/9 – 12/11 — Ana Gasteyer
  • 12/12 – 12/14 — Meredith Vieira
  • 12/15 – 12/17— America Ferrera
  • 12/18 – 12/20 — Chandra Wilson
  • 12/21 – 12/23 — Daniel Dae Kim
  • 12/24 – 12/26 — Edward James Olmos
  • 12/27 – 12/28 – Blair Underwood
  • 12/29 – 12/30 — Amy Grant

Disney does have a disclaimer that they are subject to change without notice to be sure to check before you arrive.

And you can also purchase Candlelight Processional Dining Packages for lunch and dinner where there is availability.

Who are you most looking forward to seeing?

Disney News September 2015

Here is your September 2015 Disney news round up!

The biggest news this week is that this will be the final year for The Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights. While it will be very sad to see them go the best part is that Disney is giving notice. So if you had wanted to see them one last time or for the first time this will be your last chance. The Osborne Lights start in early November and will conclude on January 3, 2016. This change is due to the upcoming Toy Story Land and Star Wars themed land coming to Disney’s Hollywood Studios.

nnnoojjj382012Photo via Disney Parks Blog.

If you are coming to see the lights there are two new seasonal offerings. The first is the Merry & Bright Dessert Party from November 6 to December 30. This will include holiday themed desserts. Next is the Merry & Bright Dinner Reception which is January 1-3, 2016. It will feature a selection of small bites like beef, shrimp, and turkey as well as beer, wine, and specialty beverages.  Reservations can be made starting September 16.

Let’s hop over to the west coast with news of a new Frozen inspired stage musical for Disney’s California Adventure Park. This show it due out in summer 2016 at the Hyperion Theater. Which means this show will be replacing the current Disney’s Aladdin- A Musical Spectacular” much to the sadness of many Disney fans. Aladdin will be finished on January 10, 2016.

dad930344Photo via Disney Parks Blog.

If you have ever been to Walt Disney World for Epcot’s Food and Wine Festival and enjoy cooking, I have the thing for you!  A cookbook for the last 20 years of Food and Wine Festival.  Disney has even posted some of the recipes on their blog if you would like to try out a few of them before buying!  http://disneyparks.disney.go.com/blog/2015/09/new-cookbook-celebrates-20-years-of-epcot-international-food-wine-festival/

Lastly, there is a new special event at Walt Disney World, Ferrytale Wishes: A Fireworks Dessert Cruise.  This cruise will take in the Wishes fireworks from a ferry on the Seven Seas Lagoon and feature plenty of sweat treats taken from resorts and the parks with the music piped into the ferry.  It finishes with a toast of alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages in a souvenir glow glass.  Prices are $99 for adults and $69 for children 3-9 and reservations are available.

FTWDC79731Photo via Disney Parks Blog.


New Show at Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party

Disney plans for a new show at Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween party! This new show “Hocus Pocus Villain Spelltacular” features the ladies from Hocus Pocus, Winifred, Sarah, and Mary with appearances by Oogie, Boogies, Maleficent, Dr. Facilier and other villains. The sisters are using all their magic to throw the vest evil Halloween party ever.

Photo via Disney.

Photo via Disney.

If Disney does it well this could be an amazing new addition to the hard ticketed Halloween Party. Considering Hocus Pocus is 22 years old it is a surprising, but this movie is a classic and Disney does like to take their time when adding new features to their parks. Disney does stipulate that it will only be shown on certain nights in the Magic Kingdom from September 15-November 1st so be sure to arrive early and stake out your spot to see this one of a kind show!

Frozen Summer Fun 2015

Photo via Disney Parks Blog

Photo via Disney Parks Blog

Frozen Summer Fun Live is back again for 2015. Last summer it was such a huge hit that Disney has decided to do it again. It starts June 17 and runs through September 7, 2015 in Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Calling it the “Coolest Summer Ever” the highlights include: Frozen Royal Welcome- located in the Hyperion Theater with the Royal Historians of Arendelle who retell the story of their kingdom with appearance by Elsa, Anna, and Kristoff.

Olaf’s Summer Cool Down- Olaf and friends come to the Event stage and he shares a burst of his personal snow cloud to cool things off.

“Coolest Summer Ever” Dance Party- once the sun is down near the Event stage there will be dance part featuring Disney characters and you can use a special hashtag to request songs over social media.

Frozen Fireworks- At the end of the night a fantastic fireworks display set to the music of Frozen.

The fireworks were a huge hit last year so we fully expect them to live up to the high standards Disney has set. If you are planning a visit this summer tell us what you are looking forward to most!

Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party 2015

The dates for Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party 2015 have been released.  Tickets will go on sale in April.

8, 10, 12, 13, 15, 17, 19, 20, 29

1, 3, 4, 6, 8, 10, 11, 13, 15, 17, 18
Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party is a hard ticketed event  on select nights starting in November.  The party takes place in the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World.  During the party there are special fireworks, parades, rare character meets and cookies and hot cocoa.  The number of tickets is limited so be sure to order early as the can and will sell out.


Epcot Park Tips

Here are some of my favorite tips for visiting Epcot at Walt Disney World!  I hope you can find them helpful!

Arrive at least 30 minutes before opening. There is no rope drop but you may get lucky and the park will be open early. On my most recent trip the park opened unofficially at 8:30am. So it never hurts to arrive a bit early.

If you have a FastPass+ for Soarin’ make sure to get in line for Test Track first, or vice versa. These two will have the longest lines of any ride in Epcot this assures that you get to ride both attractions.

Don’t miss Turtle Talk with Crush if you have children. They will love the interactive show and maybe even get a chance to ask Crush a question.

Check out MouseGears. This is a huge store with tons of merchandise but it always feels a lot less crowded than in the Emporium or World of Disney.

If you are a Disney Visa Cardholder there is a private meet and greet where you get a complementary 8×10 picture. Check the Disney Visa website for more details.

Check out Innoventions! There are plenty of interesting things to do here for kids and adults and you may even learn something too!

When you are ready to check out World Showcase stop by Agent P’s World Showcase Adventure outpost. It will give you plenty of interesting things to do and see while you explore. Plus it will keep kids and parents happy!

If you are going during Flower and Garden or Food and Wine Festivals do not make dining reservation for Epcot, just snack (and drink) your way around World Showcase and before you know it you will be stuffed!

Ride Spaceship Earth in the evening. It is very tempting to ride it first but the wait times will go down in the evenings. So you can easily make this the last attraction you go on.


Check out the lighted sidewalks at night. Sure to delight children and adults as you are exiting the park in the evening you can’t miss it.

Do you have a favorite tip for visiting Epcot?  Share it here!