Category Archives: Travel Planning

Minnie Van Service

Disney World has a new service that I recently got to test out and it’s pretty fabulous.

Minnie Vans!

Disney’s version of Lyft or Uber

  • The Minnie Vans will take you everywhere on Disney Property.
  • Minnie Vans can make multiple stops along the way. If you want to go to McDonald’s, Speedway then your resort…you can. If you are leaving a park and need stops at different resorts, this is an option.
  • There is not an extra charge for this feature.
  • Drivers are Cast Members, not employed by Lyft. This means you receive the Disney customer service.
  • Each Chevy Traverse has two versatile car seats with different options based on the childs’ needs.
  • You must be 18 years or older to travel alone in the vehicle. However, an adult can take a child (14+) in the Minnie Van to drop them off at a park and the Minnie Van will return the adult back to where they would like.
  • Hours of operation 6:30 am – 12:30 am

  • They can transport up to 6 guests.
  • They do have accessible vehicles available. You order your Lyft as normal and when they arrive they will call for an accessible vehicle.
  • To book a Minnie Van – go to bell services where they will give you a code for booking. Download the Lyft app, when you enter the code you will see the Minnie Van as an option.
  • The Minnie Vans give you closer proximity to entrances at the parks than Uber or Lyft. At Magic Kingdom, they take you to the bus stop in front of the park, not the TTC as everyone else does.
  • If clients are going to the Hoop-Dee-Doo Revue – they will be taken right to the entrance vs having to walk. Also, the Minnie Van driver will take them through the campgrounds to see all the decorations.
  • Resorts are being added as they have enough staff trained.
  • They have a track of Disney music they play during the ride.
  • They have phone chargers available in the vehicle.
  • Cost is $20 flat rate. The cast members are salary but you can tip them through the app or cash.

They are now available at all the Disney Deluxe Resorts. It’s particularly a great option for those early morning breakfasts!

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What are the Disney Visa Rewards Perks

Make the most of your vacation with Walt Disney World ®

Do you have a Disney Visa Rewards Card? Do you know of all the perks that come with it?

Disney Character Experience at Our Private Cardmember Location

At Walt Disney World® Resort, stop by our private location—reserved just for Cardmembers—to meet and pose with some of your favorite Disney Characters. You’ll receive downloads of your photos, too! Just present your Disney Visa Card to enter this exclusive event, offered daily 1pm to 7pm at the Disney Visa Photo Spot at Epcot®. Our new location is located in Future World next to Journey Into Imagination With Figment.

Star Wars Character Experience at our Private Cardmember Location

Feel the power of the Force at the Star Wars Character Experience, offered daily from 11am to 4pm at the Star Wars Launch Bay in the Animation Courtyard at Disney’s Hollywood Studios®. You’ll receive downloads of your photos to mark your visit to the dark side! Simply present your Disney Visa Credit Card to enter this exclusive location.

10% Off Select Merchandise

Receive 10% off select merchandise purchases of $50 or more at select locations at Walt Disney World® Resort.

You can enjoy this discount any time during normal Theme Park hours. Just use your valid Disney Visa Card or Disney Rewards® Redemption Card and mention this offer.

10% Off Select Dining Locations

Receive 10% off select dining locations most days at Walt Disney World® Resort (restrictions may apply). Just use your Disney Visa Card or Disney Rewards Redemption Card at the locations below and mention this offer to receive the discount.

Save at Select Walt Disney World® Resort Operating Participant Coffee/Tea and Merchandise Locations

Receive 20% off entire purchase at Joffrey’s coffee/tea kiosks throughout Walt Disney World® Resort, at Tea Traders Café by Joffrey’s, and online at Joffreys.com with code: VISABEANS. Plus, receive 10% off select merchandise purchases of $50 or more at the following Walt Disney World® Resort Operating Participant merchandise locations including Basin®, Basin White®, Chapel Hats, Good Fortune Gifts and House of Good Fortune, kidsHeritage and Marrakesh Emporium Arts & Crafts.

15% Off Select Guided Tours

Receive 15% off the non-discounted price of select guided tours at Walt Disney World® Resort. Just use your valid Disney Visa Card or Disney Rewards Redemption Card and mention this offer.

10% Off Select Recreation Experiences

Receive 10% off the non-discounted price of select recreation experiences at Walt Disney World® Resort. Just use your valid Disney Visa Card or Disney Rewards Redemption Card and mention this offer.

15% Off at Select Spa and Salon Locations

15% off the non-discounted price of any salon treatment valued at $45 or greater or any 50-minute or longer spa service most days at the spas and salons at Walt Disney World® Resort.

Create more magic and memories on your next vacation. Use your Disney Visa® Card to treat your family to amazing perks while you relax, dine and play throughout Walt Disney World® Resort!

Remember, even though you might have your Disney Visa Card linked to a MagicBand or RF-enabled card, you will still need to present your Disney Visa Card at the Cardmember Character Experience locations and use it for purchases to receive your Cardmember perks throughout your stay.

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Staying Cool at Disney World

I often have people asking me how we survive traveling to Disney World in August, which is when we always go. For various reasons, school, work…it really is the only option we have. Yes, it’s HOTTER than the surface of the sun most of the time!

Channel your inner Olaf!

But, with some strategic planning and accessories it can still be a very enjoyable vacation.

Beat the summer heat at Disney World with these tips!
  1. Rope Drop – I hear you, you want to sleep in on your vacation, but getting to the parks early at opening, or even Extra Magic Hour opening even better is really one of the best ways of beating the heat. The coolest part of the day, relative to the heat of Florida in the summer of course, is before noon. Which leads right to the next tip.
  2. Schedule a midday break – If it’s a short trip it might be difficult to schedule downtime, but a midday pool break will save your sanity and hopefully prevent those kid meltdowns when they’ve just been pushed too far. Doesn’t matter how hot it is, being in the water or under an umbrella with an icy drink will keep you cool.
  3. Stategic FP and Queue Planning – Choose the longest queues that are outdoor for your Fastpasses in the afternoons. Become familiar with the queues as many are inside and have a/c or even outdoor ones have fans and are shaded. It helps…a lot. Outdoor ones that are kept fairly cool are Rock n Rollercoaster, Tower of Terror, Big Thunder Mountain, Splash Mountain, and Expedition Everest. Inside queues where you might enjoy a slight wait to cool off include Test Track, Soarin, Space Mountain, Toy Story Mania and Dinosaur.
  4. Plan those WET attractions – There are rides that you WILL GET WET on in most of the parks. Plan those for afternoon, noon – 4pm. It’s amazing how even a little bit of water can make a difference, and you’ll dry quickly. These include Kali River Rapids which will get you soaked. Splash Mountain and even a little splash on Pirates of the Caribbean is possible.
  5. Water Parks – If you have any interest in the water parks, summer is the time to explore those. If you have a long enough trip 1-2 afternoons at the water parks is a great way to stay cool.
  6. Accessories – Cooling towels like Frog Toggs or iCool Towel will keep you cool and misting fans can be bought in advance from Walmart for less than the ones they sell in the parks.
  7. Showtime – Shows such as Mickey’s Philharmagic, Turtle Talk with Crush, Finding Nemo the Musical, It’s Tough to be a Bug, Indiana Jones (although outdoor it’s covered and there are fans) are another great way to cool down and rest, mingle them into your schedule.
  8. Use Disney transportation – Nothing is worse than getting into a hot car that has been baking in the Florida sun for hours. Use the air conditioned monorails, buses, boats to get from A to B.

Disney actually did a very good job of creating waiting areas and queues to ensure the least amount of time out in the heat and sun.

Don’t forget your sunscreen and sunglasses!

With a little bit of strategic planning which I am happy to help you with if you book your trip with me, you can prevent melting in the hot Florida summer sun.

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Top 3 Reasons to be at Rope Drop

Rope Drop is what opening is called at the Disney theme parks. At Magic Kingdom, they have a Welcome Show each morning as a part of their Rope Drop. Occasionally, the other parks have had shows as well, but not regularly.

Why should you plan to be at the Magic Kingdom in time for Rope Drop?

 

3. It’s a fun show! The train pulls into the station with most of the characters on it, there is singing, dancing, waving, confetti and often a Family of the Day picked from the early arrivals to the park. Often there is fun going on just inside the park as well, cast members waving hello, the Dapper Dan’s may be out. It’s exciting!

Rope Drop
Welcome Show at Magic Kingdom
Rope Drop
Where else can you see Drizella and Anastasia getting into trouble with Stitch!

Rope Drop

2. Parks are empty! You are walking into an empty park. A cast member will lead people to the main attractions and there are photo ops with  fewer people than you will see for the rest of the day. You can ride the big ticket rides with little to no wait, more than once if you’d like.

Liberty Square
An empty Liberty Square

Liberty Square

1. The number one reason is to maximize your time in the park! By arriving at opening when crowds are minimal and many are still sleeping in, you’ll have access to many rides with little to no wait for an hour or two. You’ll get much more accomplished in the morning than in the afternoon and it’s not quite as hot either.

Tomorrowland at rope drop
Heading to Space Mountain first thing at Rope Drop, nobody ahead of us!

 

While sleeping in is nice, my number one recommendation on a Disney trip is to be at Rope Drop and make the most of your time. Relax by the pool later in the afternoon when the lines are long and the parks are crowded.

 

Here Come Mickey and Santa

Join Mickey at this festive winter celebration for live entertainment, spectacular fireworks and an oh-so-jolly holiday parade.

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Here Come Mickey and Santa

Start planning for a marvelous gathering with family, friends and some familiar Disney faces!

When Mickey celebrates the season, Magic Kingdom park lights up with excitement for Guests of all ages. Cinderella Castle shimmers. Joyful music fills the air. Disney Characters don their most festive attire. Favorite attractions take on a holiday theme. And enchanting surprises lie around almost every turn!

Mickey dressed in seasonal holiday clothing dancing in formation between two life-size nutcrackers

Held on select evenings, Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party is currently scheduled to take place on the following dates in 2016:

  • November 7, 8, 10, 11, 13, 15, 18, 27 and 29
  • December 1, 2, 4, 6, 8, 9, 11, 13, 15, 16, 18 and 22

Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party

Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party is a Halloween-themed special event held on select dates in Magic Kingdom® Park. Purchase of an additional event admission ticket is required to attend Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party.fhufhu736921211

During Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party, Guests of all ages are encouraged to dress up in their favorite Halloween costumes. Even better, you can collect delicious candy as you trick-or-treat around Magic Kingdom Park.

In addition to many favorite Disney attractions, Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party is filled with special entertainment, including:

Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party

  • “Hocus Pocus Villain Spelltacular” – a new Cinderella castle forecourt stage show, will take place exclusively at Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party this fall. “Hocus Pocus Villain Spelltacular” features the mischievous Sanderson Sisters from Disney’s “Hocus Pocus” as they return to the mortal world for one night during the Halloween season to cast a spell on everyone in the Magic Kingdom Park. The show also includes appearances by the Disney villains, and features dancers, projections and special effects.
  • Mickey’s “Boo-to-You” Halloween Parade – including Disney Characters and the stars of the Haunted Mansion attraction. The parade begins with a spook-tacular ride by the Headless Horseman.
  • Happy HalloWishes – a spectacular fireworks show where the Disney Villains go trick-or-treating in the sky.
  • Many favorite Disney Characters and Disney Villains in special Halloween costumes.
  • Special lighting, music and theming effects transforms special areas of Magic Kingdom Park into happy haunted hollows.

The tone of the event is, well, “Not-So-Scary”, and is appropriate for children of all ages.

Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party will return in Fall 2016.

Here is the full list of this year’s dates:

  • September – 2, 8, 11, 13, 16, 18, 20, 23, 25, 29, 30
  • October – 2, 4, 6, 7, 10, 11, 13, 14, 16, 18, 20, 21, 23, 25, 27, 28, 30, 31

Tickets will go on sale soon!

 

Garden Grocer

Having groceries delivered to your resort is a great way to save a bit of money. My favorite is Garden Grocer. You can order everything right through their website, including alcohol.

Garden Grocer offers a discount plan depending on how far in advance you order. There is a delivery fee and minimum order amount, but it’s well worth it.

They deliver everything, within your chosen time slot, to Bell Services at your resort so you don’t have to be there to receive it. If you order alcohol, you’ll  need to send a copy of you ID to them, they have an online form to fill out and upload. Bell Services will keep everything at the appropriate temperature for you until your room is ready and you can have them bring it up.

We love to have breakfast items, water and beverages delivered.

MyMagic+ and FastPass+

If you haven’t been to Walt Disney World in the last year, things…they are a changing! A new system has finally been completely rolled out although it’s still being tweaked and kinks are still being worked out.

MyMagic+ is a complete system of keeping all data together and simplifying the experience for guests. The My Disney Experience tool, MagicBands, FastPass+, all work together.

What is FastPass+

One of the big changes is to Disney’s FastPass system. The old familiar FastPass Ticket system is gone. All the ticket machines have been removed. FastPass+ is in full effect. Guests can book their Fastpass+ selections 60 days in advance for Resort guests and 30 days for non-resort guests. This gives an advantage to buying your tickets in advance and not waiting to get them at the park.

MagicBand

Guests can choose 3 FastPass+ selections limited to one park. Then, once they have used up those 3 experiences, they can book additional Fastpass+ attractions, one at a time at kiosks  in the parks. They are not limited to one park for the additional ones. So a guest could schedule their 3 for a morning in one park, then hop to another park and book at the kiosks there based on what is available.

Booking FastPass+

So how do you book these FassPass+ attractions? Using the My Disney Experience website or app on a smartphone or tablet. You sign up for an account and set everything up linking your reservation and ticket numbers. Have the lead person set it up, add your family and friends and then you can book the FastPass+ for everyone in your traveling party. You can use the app in the parks to check wait times and maps, and of course change your FastPass+ selections on the fly if you need/want to.

How does it work:

The system works by using an RFID (radio frequency identification) chip embedded on the tickets or in the Magic Band. Ticket media are now like credit cards with the chip embedded with your My Disney Experience profile and information. Magic Bands are a band/bracelet you wear embedded with the chip. Non resort guests can buy Magic Bands if they wish.

Magic Bands

Magic Bands are free to resort guests and can be customized by choosing colors and names printed on the inside of the band.  They ship out before your trip (or can be picked up at your resort at check in) and can be used right from your arrival at Orlando Airport for Disney’s Magical Express if you are using that option. You Magic Band is your Key to the World card. It will open your hotel room door, it is your park ticket and FastPass+ ticket, and it can be used with a pin number to make purchases and charge to your room. Your ADR’s (Advanced Dining Reservations) can also be stored booked through your My Disney Experience account and they will be listed there for you. The bands are comfortable to wear and waterproof.

MagicBands

If it all seems complicated and overwhelming, no worries. It’s not too bad once you get the hang of it and experience it and of course, a good Disney Travel Planner, like myself,  will do a lot of the set up and booking for you or with you, free of charge!

 

Benefits of Using a Disney Travel Planner

A trip to Walt Disney World can be an overwhelming vacation to plan for. This is especially true for first time visitors. There is so much to see and do and of of course everyone wants to “see it all!”header4

First things first…you can’t and won’t see it all, no matter how many days your trip is. You can however, maximize your vacation time with less stress by getting professional FREE planning help.

That’s right, the #1 thing many people don’t know is that using the services of a Disney Travel Planner is FREE.

Disney, like most other suppliers in the Travel Industry, pay agencies a commission. The Guest pays the same whether they do all the work themselves or have an expert do it for them.

When planning my first trip with my family I spent months…it was basically a full time job for me, researching and planning our trip for several hours a day. I wanted it to be perfect and made it my mission to study everything I could find. Had I not been lucky enough to be a stay a home mom at the time, I would not have been able to devote that time to our vacation planning. Luckily I also had a professional background in the travel industry and had been to Disney World a few times prior.

Disney Family Vacation

A Disney Travel Planner will get you the best deal. They are current on all the best offers and can determine which one is best suited to your family and situation. Even if you are already booked, your agent will keep up to date and switch your booking over to a new special offer when it becomes available if possible. Your agent worries about getting you the best price, not you. Your agent will spend the time on the phone lines getting you the best option so you don’t have to.

A Disney Travel Planner will suggest and even book all your dining for you. Disney restaurant and special character meals can sell out fast, 6 months before your travel date! It can be daunting to even think about where you are going to eat 6 months in advance and then wrestle with the online booking system or spend hours on the phone with Disney Dining. But if you little ones have their hearts set on dinner with a certain character you’ll be out of luck if you don’t plan for it well in advance. Your Disney Planner can and will do this for you.

A Disney Travel Planner will give you as much itinerary planning help as needed. Whether it be just some simple tips if you have your own plan down to planning out a detailed itinerary if you want step by step guidance.

header1A Disney Travel Planner will recommend the best hotel option for your family. There are so many options at Disney World and a wide price range. A Disney Planner can narrow down the best options to suit you and your theme park touring style.

By getting help with the planning from a travel agent that works with an Authorized Disney Vacation Planner, like me :), you’ll be sure to make the best of the time you have and come home with the most MAGICAL of memories!

Stay up to date with me on Facebook or Twitter, follow this blog and be sure to contact me ( barbara@atimetotreasuretravel.com )when you are ready to head back to the House of Mouse!