Category Archives: Disneyland

For the First Time in Forever….(Part 4)

Today’s topic in my blog series is how to choose the right park ticket for your family’s vacation.  Of the choices and options that we have discussed up to this point, this is one of the easier ones, I feel.  It is easy to narrow down the days that you will need first, so let us jump right into that.

Tickets:  How Many Days?

Every Day

I have been that person before!  I remember being so excited for our first trip back after so many years and wanting to cram in AS MUCH time as possible in the parks.  If this sounds like you, then you might want a park ticket to be equal to the number of days you will be vacationing OR one day less.  For example, if you are staying 6 nights and 7 days, you would want the 7 day ticket option IF it made economical and physical sense that you could be in the parks all 7 days.  Some people have a late or early flight on their arriving or departing days, and that takes away one day immediately.  So, the first option to decide will be narrowed down to how many days can we REALLY physically be in the parks and get our money’s worth out of it?

Not “Every” Day

I have also been this person.  When you choose a Disney World, Disneyland, or Universal vacation, you go into it knowing there will be a fair amount of walking, while definitely having the time of your life.  There are vacation goers like myself who know that you will need to write in a day to relax at the resorts, which is exactly what we did during our last trip.  We took one day, spent it at the pools, lounged around, right during the middle of our vacation week, and we truly felt it recharged our batteries.  We still watched the fireworks from the Polynesian beach during the evening, and we definitely still felt we were vacationing at Disney.  But, it gave us some peace.  It gave us time together.  We moved as fast as turtles that day and enjoyed every minute of it.  We had our lunch by the pool, supper in the room (the best pizza I have ever had in my life!), and just laughed and enjoyed each other.  So, for our 8 days and 7 nights we were there for this trip, we didn’t do an 8 day ticket.  We did 6 days worth of tickets.  One reason was what I just stated, taking a day to relax.  The other reason was that we arrived later in the evening on our first night, and it wasn’t physically worth it to pay for a ticket, when we were already jet lagged and just needed to rest so we could be ready to go the next day.

Tickets:  Park Hopping vs No Park Hopping

The idea of park hopping is that your ticket allows you to visit more than one park per day.  So if you started your day off in Magic Kingdom, but really wanted to end the evening at Epcot for their Illuminations fireworks festivities, you could do that.  If you even wanted to park hop over to another park that had Extra Magic Hours that evening (later than normal “business” hours), you could do that, too!  It gives you the most flexibility with your ticket as far as seeing more in a day.  Your Disneyland Park Hopper would allow you to venture into both parks in the same day, while your Disney World Park Hopper would allow you to venture into all four parks in the same day (if you chose to, but I can only imagine, that would be exhausting, even though exhilarating).  Universal has a system called Park to Park, which is essentially the same idea, just a different name for their brand.  They offer a Single Day ticket,  with the Park-to-Park option for their two theme parks.  The price of park hopping is higher than having a one park per day ticket, but each family has to determine the value of that dollar and what they want to accomplish during their vacation.

Tickets:  Water Park Options and More

Park Hopper Plus

There is also the Park Hopper Plus option at Disney World, where you can add on the option of other very popular Disney World attractions to your ticket.  You can also buy those separately, but this allows you to work them into your park hopping options.  With a 3 day Park Hopper Plus ticket, for example, you would get 3 visits, or with a 4 day Park Hopper, you would get 4 visits.  The exception to the rule is a 1 day ticket allows for 2 visits.  The attractions offered are:  Disney’s Blizzard Beach Water Park, Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon Water Park, ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex, Disney’s Oak Trail Golf Complex, and Disney’s Fantasia Gardens Miniature Golf Course.   These attractions are amazing!  You could easily take a day alone to hit the water parks, and then another day to try out some rounds of golf and head over to ESPN!

Multi-Day Ticket

Universal offers a new water park called Volcano Bay and it has been a huge hit with tourists.  Tickets can be purchased separately for this or you can combine them into a Multi Day ticket with a 3-Park Ticket, giving access to all three parks. 2-Park Tickets allow access to Universal Studios Florida and Universal’s Islands of Adventure each day. 1-Park tickets allow access to 1 Park per day.

Tickets:  Annual Passholders

This is my final ticket option I will be discussing with you today.  Annual Passholders are an amazing option if you find yourself having the ability to vacation at your favorite Disney or Universal destination several times a year.  There are several different tiers when deciding which annual pass is right for you.  I am an annual passholder, and for me, one benefit I love is the shopping and dining discounts we receive in the parks from being a passholder.  There is even an app that honors passholders, and gives discounts on merchandise.  Just like everything else, this is not an option for everyone, and you must decide whether or not this is something that would be worth your money.

Tomorrow’s Topic:  MagicBands, FastPasses, and more!

I would love to give you a custom quote on a Disney and/or Universal vacation package that allows you all the flexibility that you need on a dream vacation.  Please email me at debbie.lands@magical-vacations.com and let me get started for you!  I would love to give you a free Minnie Box customized for your family!

 

 

For the First Time in Forever…..(Part 2)

Today I will be discussing “food” at both Disneyland and Walt Disney World.  I could go on and on about this topic, for my palette waters every single time I think about particular desserts I have sampled or meals I have engaged in.  I have never once been disappointed in food that I have encountered while vacationing.

So what are the food options while vacationing at Disney?  Many.  Today’s blog won’t go into specific restaurant choices and things of that nature, but more so, helping you make the decision on whether or not choosing a dining plan is the right decision for your family.  Then, if you do choose a dining plan, helping you understand the differences and understanding better which would be the best fit for you.

No Dining Plans for Me!

Let’s begin with the option of not choosing a dining plan, which I have done before.  Even with this choice, there are many options and ways to experience food while vacationing.  Whether you are using a dining plan or paying as you go, you can make ADR’s (Advanced Dining Reservations) at 180 days out from your trip.  I highly suggest this if your family is looking to book some coveted character meals or there is a restaurant that is on your “to do” list.  Again, at Magical Vacations, we can take of all of this for you, so you don’t have to think about it!

Disney is gracious enough to allow food and drinks into the park, which gives people the choice to bring in their own snacks.  I have done this, and it is a fantastic option to have in my purse or my backpack.  Especially for those times when you are in between meals or waiting in line for a ride and just need a quick pick me up.   If you choose not to bring in your own snacks and drinks, there are food options to be found everywhere at the parks and back at the resorts.  Just follow your nose and it will lead you to one!  Prices are honestly better than what you would find at a professional ballgame or a concert and the food you get for your money is incredible.   If you bring your own water bottle in with you, there are many water fountains to be found for you to get a quick fill up as well, which saves from buying fountain sodas.  Let’s face it, we need that water on our vacationing days anyway!

If you made ADR’s as mentioned above, then you will have a little bit of comfort knowing where your next meal is coming from.  If you didn’t make ADR’s, you will need to make the decisions depending on what park or resort you are at, as to which dining location you will choose for your meal.  Choose wisely according to the time of day, as certain locations fill up quicker the closer you get to normal dining times.  If you didn’t make ADR’s, just keep in mind that you may need to allow some “wait time” to go along with your meals.  Even with quick dining options, there is a bit of a wait with the lines.

Also, many resorts have rooms with mini refrigerators, coffee makers, microwave ovens, and toasters.  It is a nice option to have for those who would like to have at least one meal in their room per day.  There are several businesses that delivery groceries right to Bell Services at your resort for a slight fee.  Again, a great option to have if you want to have a stash of snacks available to take to the parks with you or know that you want to eat every breakfast together in your room.   Room Service is also available and I can say, the pizza we ordered from the Polynesian this past summer might have been the best pizza I have ever tasted!

The best advice I can give to someone not using the dining plan or ADR’s is to be willing to be flexible.  You may really want to eat at a particular location, but it may be busy at the time that your stomach is growling, and you don’t feel you can wait 30 more minutes.   Make choices that won’t leave you hangry!  We all know what that feeling is like and it doesn’t make for a fun vacation!

Now let’s jump into the different types of dining plans for Disneyland and Walt Disney World.

Dining at Disneyland with Vouchers

Disneyland offers a “Dine in the Magic” voucher system.  Guests pay in advance for dining that they anticipate they will enjoy while on their trip.  While it may not necessarily be a money “saver”, it does give you peace of mind that the food portion of your trip is taken care of.   Vouchers will expire at the end of the year and are non-refundable.

A slight difference between this plan and the one we will discuss at Disney World is that you do not have to purchase vouchers for everyone in your party and the vouchers can be for any length, not the exact length of your stay as it is at Disney World.  Also, ADR’s at Disneyland are 60 days in advance, a difference between this and the 180 days at Disney World.

There are four different plans and I will quickly discuss each one of those.

Donald’s 2 Day

  • Adult $106/Child $64
  • 2 Character Dining Vouchers, 2 Dining Certificates ($15 for adults/$10 children), and 2 Snack Vouchers

Goofy’s 3 Day

  • Adult $159/Child $96
  • 3 Character Dining Vouchers, 3 Dining Certificates ($15 for adults/$10 children), and 3 Snack Vouchers

  Minnie’s 4 Day

  • Adult $219/Child $132
  • 3 Character Dining Vouchers, 1 Premium Character Dining, 4 Dining Certificates ($15 for adults/$10 children), and 4 Snack Vouchers

Mickey’s 5 Day

  • Adult $272/Child $164
  • 4 Character Dining Vouchers, 1 Premium Character Dining, 5 Dining Certificates ($15 for adults/$10 children), and 5 Snack Vouchers

Please note: Child rates are for young ones ages 3-9 years old. Vouchers may be used at any Full Service or Counter-Service restaurant. Vouchers can not be used for alcoholic beverages, room service, holiday buffets, Downtown Disney restaurants, and merchandise.

Next, we will move on to our final point, the Walt Disney World Disney Dining Plan.

Dining at Disney World with the Disney Dining Plan

There will be some similarities between this plan and the one from Disneyland.  Dining plans offer peace of mind, knowing that if you have made ADR’s, you know where your next meal is coming from AND you don’t have to have extra cash prepared for anything except for gratuities at table service restaurants.  The cost of the dining plan was figured into the resort package.  Many people like the idea of knowing that it is already taken care of before they get to their vacation.  While you will still have to decide between what quick service meals you would like and what snacks you want to choose, knowing that you have particular types of meals covered on a plan allows families to decide just how much to eat at other meals.  The Dining plans are offered for those staying with their DVC (Disney Vacation Club) points or who purchased a Magic Your Way package.

Once again, remember that table service dining reservations can be made at 180 days prior to your vacation.  Take advantage of that option.  We missed Be Our Guest on the trip with my mother, and it was the ONLY restaurant that she wanted to go to.  During this particular trip, we booked everything at three months out, so instead of having 180 days, we only had less than 90 days and it was already taken for our vacation dates.

Here is a breakdown of cost for the 2018 Dining Plan options:

Quick Service Plan

  • Adults $52.49/Children $21.75 per night
  • 2 Quick Service Meals, 2 Snacks, 1 Refillable Mug per person

Quick Service meals to me are similar to fast food.  While it can still be a meal you eat together at the table, you order at the counter and pick up your own food.  The refillable mugs will be included with each package and are really great to have.  You can use them at your resort to get a quick drink to take back to your room, or as my kids would do, make several trips back and forth to refill!

Standard Plan

  • Adults $75.49/Children $25.80 per night
  • 1 Table Service Meal, 1 Quick Service Meal, 2 Snacks, 1 Refillable Mug per person

Table Service meals are just like eating at a regular sit down restaurant.  You have a server, they come and take your order, and gratuity is considered to be something given at the end of the meal.  The servers/cast members REALLY do a great job with their guests and always interact with the families in a fun way.  We have used this plan the most and feel it gave our family alot of flexibility with meal options.  Since we were given a table service meal each night that we were there, it allowed for great character dining experiences which my children still talk about.

Deluxe Plan

  • Adults $116.24/Children $39.90 per night
  • 3 Meals (any combo of table-service and quick service), 2 Snacks, 1 Refillable Mug per person

I always think of my husband when I think of the Deluxe plan.  His favorite part of our Disney trips has easily been the food.  We tried the Standard Plan once with him and he was still hungry, while I was very full and had not finished my food!  However, he could easily finish mine for me and fill up.  The Deluxe Plan is great for those families who come to Disney for the food.   They know the food is excellent and they want to take every opportunity to take part in each course!  It allows families quite possibly the most flexibility in their dining options because you have choices on your meals.

These are JUST the basics that cover the Dining Options.  There are so many other things in which I can cover to help you navigate your way through the Dining Plan choices, and I will in a future blog.  I know when I first learned about the dining plan, I was very overwhelmed!  However, I will gather some helpful tips and share those with you at a later date.

In my next blog, I will discuss what to pack in your backpack for a day at the parks!  If you have decided to make a magical dream come true, please contact me to let me help you make that happen: debbie.lands@magical-vacations.com

 

 

For the First Time in Forever….(Part 1)

There are so many questions for those that have never been to either Disney World or Disneyland before.  While it can be an overwhelming process, I am hoping to ease that for you with a blog series meant to help those who have never been, and have alot of questions!  For today, let’s discuss two big items:  First…….

Walt Disney World vs. Disneyland (California)

Walt Disney World, located in Orlando, Florida, spreads across over 30,000 acres.   Disneyland, located in Anaheim, California,  covers around 100 acres with the expansion of Star Wars Land.   The difference between the two in itself is mind-blowing to me!

Walt Disney World is home to four parks (Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Hollywood Studios, and Animal Kingdom) and currently twenty five on site resorts, ranging from value resorts to luxurious deluxe accomodations.

Disneyland is home to two parks (Disneyland Park and Disney California Adventure Park) and three on site hotels.

One of my MV travel specialist friends best summed up how to decide between which park to vacation at:  Time.  What do you have time for during your vacation to Disney and what do you hope to get out of it?  You can easily squeeze in a great Disneyland vacation in 3-4 days, covering both parks, and have an amazing time.  It would allow you to spend around two days at each park.   Or, if you  have more time to spend, you could adventure to Disney World, and spend  8-10 days there, soaking in the Florida sun, while taking in all Disney World has to offer.

Next, moving on where to stay:

Resort and Hotel Options

As mentioned earlier, there are a variety of resorts available, depending on your budget.  To say that Disney vacations are only for those who have money to blow, is not necessarily true.  I, myself, have always felt that I have budgeted well for our trips, no matter where we stayed, and we have stayed everywhere from the value resorts to deluxe accomodations.    If you are flexible with your dates,  I can help you find that dream vacation in the resort of your choice!  Here is a short breakdown of resorts.  Keep in mind, there are many levels to each resort.   There are standard rooms, rooms for more than 5 guests, preferred rooms, rooms with a garden, pool, or standard view, villas (even treehouse villas!), and other options that will deviate the cost.

Disney World Resorts

Deluxe resorts are priced the way they are for a variety of reasons, but I’m going to give you my own personal story and why we chose a deluxe resort to purchase through Disney Vacation Club.  Deluxe resorts typically have better location and accessibility to the parks.  Remember my son, and his walking condition?  We needed to use a wheelchair and having a resort that was on the monorail loop of pickup and dropoff was a necessity for us, even if it meant paying a little more upfront.  It saved us time, which saved HIM time and fatigue from being on his feet.  So, on the monorail loop, we are just two very short stops away from Magic Kingdom.  On the other end, we are a three minute walk to the TTC (Ticket and Transportation Center) and could once again, take the monorail to Epcot from this location.   On top of that, deluxe resorts are all beautifully themed with fantastic decor and you truly feel you are swept off into another time, another place just by spending time at your resort.  Each resort has amazing food and gift shops, some offer beach access, and most offer truly unique character dining opportunities.  We have always agreed to spend a “day” of our trips just at our resort, relaxing, and taking in all it has to offer.  A day to reset our batteries, and to spend a day in the sun, letting the kids swim while we relaxed as well.  We felt it was our own private getaway, just being there.

Moderate resorts are typically priced middle of the road, although, certain times of year, there are only a few hundred dollars separating them between either the deluxe or the value, depending on when you travel.   Their amenities and proximities are nice and I have always been pleased with what I had when staying at the moderate resorts we have chosen.  Again, Disney never disappoints.  Depending on which resort you choose, while you will not be as close to the action as you are on the monorail loop, the moderate resorts offer some unique themed rooms (pirates, princesses, etc), amazing food, and family friendly pools for down time.  It may take a little longer by bus to get to your park destination of choice than what you would experience riding on the monorail, but again, being “middle of the road”, the experiences I have had, were always handled promptly and never alot of waiting.  These resorts are spread out, and can allow for some great outdoor and indoor activities, as each resort also has their own theme, as did the deluxe resorts.

Value resorts are the least expensive of the resorts at Disney World.  They offer over the top, larger than life, statues and replicas of favorite Disney characters.  When our children arrived for the first time at a value resort, the first thing they noticed where all of the enormous statues and replicas.  It felt very real and personal to them and reminded them of why they wanted to be on this trip.  We encountered great food, great swimming and, as with every resort we have stayed, fantastic service from Disney cast members.  Value resorts are the furthest away by bus from most locations, so while you are definitely saving money by staying here, you will spend just a bit more time each day geting to and from the parks.

The biggest and most important question you have to ask yourself when choosing a resort would be this:  What is more important to me/my family:  My time in the parks/proximity to my resort, or the value of the dollar I will spend?  Once you know that, choosing a resort is a much simpler task.

Disneyland Hotels

The Grand Californian is the “grand” daddy of the hotels at Disneyland.  It is the closest to the parks and has immediate access to California Adventure park.  It has more of a craftsmen theme, with lush woods and stone.  It has character dining, restaurants, an arcade, several pools, as well as a spa.  It has over 700 rooms and suites, including rooms that are handicapped accessible.  When it comes to cost, it is typically the most expensive of the three hotels.

The Disneyland Hotel is the original hotel of Disneyland California.  It houses more of a classic feel,  and has over 900 rooms and suites, including handicapped accessible rooms.  This hotel offers many types of themed rooms including:  Pirates of the Caribbean, Adventureland, Big Thunder, Mickey Mouse, and Fairy Tale.  Character dining is also available here, as well as many other restaurants and lounges.  There are several pools for the family, and the proximity to Disneyland is just a monorail ride away.  The Disneyland Hotel is the middle of the road in cost of the Disneyland California hotels.

Paradise Pier is also just a monorail ride away from Disneyland.  With over 400 rooms and suites, including handicapped accessible rooms, Paradise Pier is the most budget friendly of the three hotels at Disneyland.  With a unique roof top pool, character dining, and panoramic views of California Adventure, Paradise Pier is an amazing option with its beach themed rooms.

What I always found so magically intriguing was that Walt Disney himself walked on the grounds of Disneyland.  There is so much of him there.  The history alone makes the trip worth while.  While Disney World encompasses so many of his visions and what he also had plans for,  there is something quite magical about knowing that he was there, once upon a time, in Disneyland.

Please let me help you in making your dreams coming true and adding some magic to your world.  I would be happy to give you a custom quote to see what options would suit you best for your dream getaway adventure!

Email me at:  debbie.lands@magical-vacations.com

In my next blog, we will discuss Disney Dining Options!