Category Archives: DVC

True Love’s Kiss

Since today is my wedding anniversary, I thought I would take this time to talk about how wonderful it can be to do Disney with people in love.  You see, this photo was taken last year, as my husband and I were celebrating our wedding anniversary.  He was gracious enough to indulge me in a weekend getaway, just the two of us.  We had never done Disney without our kids before, so I knew that not only this was going to be a romantic journey for us, but it would also give me a chance to show my sweetie the adult side of Disney.

We used our DVC points and stayed at the Beach Club Villas for this short stay.  It was beyond perfect for us, although we were literally minutes away from missing our flight TO Disney! That’s a memory that is funny now…..but back then…..stressful!

We took an early-bird flight so we could arrive in Orlando at 10am.  We skipped the Magical Express and decided to splurge and use Tiffany Towncar for a personal ride to the villas.  It was an added expense, but our trip was so short that we didn’t want to lose a single minute.  So, after our very short drive, we were checked-in immediately, received our “Happy Anniversary” buttons and headed for Epcot.

We spent the entire day there, hitting the rides I thought he would love (Soarin, Test Track, Spaceship Earth, Mission Space), and honestly, doing the things I thought he would enjoy most, “Drinks Around the World”.  There was no rush, no hustle.  Just the two of us, hand in hand, gliding our way around the countries, remembering why we loved each other so much, and realizing how vital “adult time” really is in a relationship.

The weather was wonderful, beautiful during the day, and so chilly at night that we had to buy jackets!  We went back to the room to get ready for dinner, ate supper at Chef Mickey’s at the Contemporary Resort, and then headed to the DVC lounge at Bay Lake Tower for drinks and to watch the fireworks from the amazing balcony.  Nothing felt better than watching those with my love, even though I was shivering!  We were cold and thought it was time to call it a night, but before we left, we rode the monorail over to the Polynesian so I could get my favorite Disney dessert, a Dole Whip!  After that, we headed back to the Beach Club, and we “thought” we were done for the night,  when we decided differently.  We again, realized, it’s just the two of us, so let’s enjoy this night for as long as we can.

We went for a walk around the property, and strolled around, hand in hand, over to the Boardwalk resort.  We spent three hours walking outside together, and literally, saw no one until we got to the Boardwalk.  Once there, we got a bite to eat, and headed back “home”.

The next morning, we slept in, had breakfast together, snuck in one more adult drink before heading back to Epcot for short stroll.  We bought the kids some souvenirs, and by the time we ate lunch,  it was time to catch the Magical Express so we could fly back home.  It was only two days together, one full day and a half at the parks, but it felt like it was a week together.  We needed that for us, and we vowed to always make time like this for each other.

It made my husband appreciate Disney in a different way. It can be exhausting at times when you are traveling with your whole family.  But this time, this trip, with just the two of us….it was magical….and definitely something we will do again this year.

If this sounds like something you and your sweetheart would love to do, please feel free to visit my website to get a custom quote www.magical-vacations/debbie.lands  or email me at debbie.lands@magical-vacations.com.  See ya soon pal!

I Wan’na Be Like You-uuu

One of my favorite things to talk about with Disney are the great opportunities to interact with characters.  We have been very fortunate to have the chance to have ALOT of character meet & greet’s over the years, and it has not only been on the “to do” list for my children, but also for me as well.  I love seeing the excitement in their eyes as their on screen characters come to life.

I can not call this a “top” character meet & greet, because we have yet to run into a character that we didn’t love.  For now, let’s just say these have been our top so far……  Let’s start with my featured image:

Joy and Sadness (Epcot):  They.  Were.  Amazing.  The time they spent with my children, the way they moved around them.  Joy was literally hopping and dancing everywhere, and Sadness told my son she adored him simply because he wore glasses, just like her.  When we left our meet and greet, they both fell to their knees in a “we’re not worthy” kind of manner” and left us all giggling for hours afterwards.  I get the best feeling when I tell the stories about our time with them.  They devoted great time to us, so much, that they earned a compliment card from us.

Sorcerer Mickey (Hollywood Studios):  The area that we met him in was truly something “Fantasmic”.  Mickey seemed truly larger than life during this character meet and greet.  Maybe it was because we came in out of a torrential downpour to see him.  Or maybe it was just the Pixie Dust that we felt had been spread over us.  Either way, Mickey was great about spending time with us and we loved meeting him.

Cinderella and Tiana (Magic Kingdom): Both of these princesses were true to their character!  They carried on conversations with us as if we were their best friends.  Cinderella talked to my son until he was practically floating away on a cloud, and even called him her “Prince Charming”.  Tiana talked to us about her mother and how we know she’s the best cook in all of N’Orleans!  She was magical, graceful, and beautiful.  When we mentioned how we would see her at her Riverboat Dessert party the following day, she told us all about how Naveen would be there too.  We loved these ladies.

Rafiki (Animal Kingdom):  Oh how we loved Rafiki!  He took mutiple pictures with our kiddos and we just loved how he signed their autograph books.  Very engaging and definitely worth our time!

O’hana Breakfast Characters (Polynesian Resort): Lilo, Stitch, Mickey, Pluto:  Maybe it was the food, or maybe it was the music.  Maybe it was the dance line.  But when these characters came around to see us at our tables, they laughed with us, did sign language, signed autograph books, and interacted with our kiddos in the perfect way.  The perfect way to start our day.

Tusker House (Animal Kingdom) Mickey, Donald, Goofy, Daisy:  Again, tremendous food, followed by characters who weaved their way into our hearts.  Daisy flirted and hugged on our boys, and Mickey was just as sweet as he could be.  Donald and Goofy played around and signed autographs, and we all were full of smiles.

Cinderella’s Royal Table (Magic Kingdom) and Akershus (Epcot): Divine meals while being surrounded by the princesses.  They spent so much time with us and we had opportunities for real conversations with them.  It didn’t feel rushed at all and was definitely worth the time and money, especially being inside the castle .

This is my list of our top character meet and greets.  For your opportunity to do this and more, please visit my website:  www.magical-vacations.com/debbie.lands or feel free to email me at: debbie.lands@magical-vacations.com to get your vacation planning started.  Remember that my custom quotes are free, along with all of my services.  All of our resort packages come with a complimentary Minnie Box.  Let’s create some magic today!

Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah

You can’t help but want to sing the lyrics when you are at Disney and you hear this famous song.  You even believe it, “my, oh, my what a wonderful day!”.  So, what exactly makes a great day at Disney?  Loved ones being there to share in the day with you, of course.  Spreading some “pixie dust” for others (good deeds such as letting someone have your spot in line, giving someone something that is special to you, or simply helping someone who is lost).  I like to find as many of these opportunities to spread some pixie dust as possible, not only because it’s good for my children to see so they know how to act as adults, but also, maybe your good deed will change the course of someone’s day for the better.

Another way of making a great day at Disney is getting to indulge in some of your favorites.  Keep in mind, these are MY personal favorites, and while I know there are some amazing things I will be leaving off of this list, I have to keep it fairly short.  So…with that being said, I’m going to list my top five things to do at each park, according to my taste.  Kind of a “if I only had one day at Disney, what would you suggest?” post.

Magic Kingdom Favorites

This is REALLY hard.  I have SO many things I could put on this list.  But, when I think of Magic Kingdom, these things come to mind:

  1.  Peter Pan’s Flight:  This ride just comes to mind when I think of Magic Kingdom.  The wait is ALWAYS long, and you will do yourself a huge favor if you are able to get a fastpass for this ride.  Hop aboard a magical ship that takes you through the famous movie scenes and truly feel as if “you can fly”.
  2. Pirates of the Caribbean:  Another ride that SMELLS and FEELS like you are truly in the movie.  The water, the darkness, the smell of the sea….admist a backdrop of magnificent ships and Captain Jack Sparrow.  This is a ride that we go on again and again.  Some days we have needed a fastpass, and others, we have been able to go right in.  Trust me, you won’t regret it!
  3. Dine like a Princess at Be Our Guest AND Cinderella’s Royal Table:  BOG is more budget friendly and you can sample “the grey stuff (it’s delicious!)”.  Snag a breakfast or lunch dining option for Quick Service, or choose a Dinner serving time for Table Service and a chance to see “The Beast”.  Or, if you are more into all of the Princesses and dining at “THE” castle at Magic Kingdom, then make your advanced dining reservations (ADR’s) at the 180 day mark out from your trip to ensure you are able to snag this coveted character table experience.  Even my youngest son loved this dining opportunity.  We had our meal at 7:20, and it ended just as the fireworks began at night.  As we left, we had nowhere to go except the front row for prime fireworks seating!  What a bonus!
  4. Main Street, USA:  What I love about this is that it is supposed to mimic Walt Disney’s hometown of Marceline, Missouri (my home state!).  The architecture, the shops, the quaint cafe’s and ice cream parlors all scream of days gone by and truly make you yearn for simpler times.  It is a beautiful glimpse into where he grew up and of a time that can only be re-imagined with the dreams of someone like Mr. Disney.
  5. Splash Mountain:  Without a doubt, this ride is worth your time.  One thing my family and I commented on was how long this ride was prior to the actual uphill climb towards the thrilling descent.  Lots of crazy characters that really take you back in time, to the movie “Song of the South” with the famous Br’er Rabbit.

BONUS;   Dumbo, while it typically doesn’t require a fastpass, is also one of my favorites, especially at night, for you to see all the beautiful lights at Magic Kingdom.  Finally, while you are at Magic Kingdom, you need to stop by and try their famous Dole Whips!  A refreshing pineapple creamy treat that I look forward to each trip! Finally, you MUST stay for the “Happily Ever After” fireworks special, as mentioned above!

Epcot Favorites

For me, Epcot is equally as hard.  I have always struggled between which park is my favorite, not that I have to choose, but Epcot is also a park in which I could spend two to three days of my trip just wandering around and enjoying all of the experiences that it has to offer.  With that being said…..here are my personal favorites.

  1.  Soarin:  I could ride this over and over and over again.  The sights of some of the world’s most iconic locations, the hang gliding feel of the ride, the gigantic screen, the music, and we can’t forget the smells that go along with each “stop” you make on the voyage.  You feel you are truly there.  Fastpasses are suggested for this ride, although if you get there early in the day, you could hop on.
  2. Test Track:  In the words of my son, “I’m so going to drive like this someday!”.  Test Track allows you to “build” a car, design the best features possible for not only a safe ride, but also a very fast ride.  Your car will go on multiple “tests” prior to being out in the open for the ride of your life.  This ride was simply amazing.  Fastpasses are suggested for this ride as well.
  3. Spaceship Earth:  Getting to go inside the iconic feature of Epcot, the enormous geosphere (referred to by many as a “giant golf ball”), is amazing.  I have never needed a fastpass for this ride.  Spaceship Earth takes a little jaunt through our civilization and how communication has transformed over time.
  4. The Seas with Nemo and Friends:  If you love the movie, you will love the ride.  A fastpass is typically not needed for this ride.  Journey through the seas as you go on a search for Nemo.  You truly feel that you are taking a dive!
  5. Frozen Ever After:  I must begin this with telling you that a fastpass will definitely be required for this encounter.  Even if you aren’t a fan of the movie, you will enjoy this ride.  Take a ride through Norway with some cool Audio Animatronic figures and songs and let the ride show you how “cool” being frozen can be.

BONUS  You must stay for the IllumiNations fireworks spectacular.  Also…..The. Food.  That is all.  It’s amazing.  Sample some from as many countries as your stomach can tolerate!  Finally, the countries themselves are their own attractions.  There isn’t just one that I can say we loved the most.  But one example is that while in Morocco, my daughter got some amazing henna drawn on her hand that lasted well beyond our trip.  Epcot is simply amazing.

Hollywood Studios Favorites

There is so much that I love about Hollywood Studios.  I loved walking in and seeing the Grauman’s Chinese Theatre.  There are currently alot of changes going on at Hollywood Studios, and this post could very well be edited with some new favorites after our next trip this spring.  Let me hop into what my favorites were up to our last trip in 2017.

  1.  Fantasmic:  It helps to snag a fastpass for this epic firework extravaganza.  Sit down and enjoy this show that includes Mickey Mouse, fireworks, boats, ships, FIRE, and glorious scenes from dozens of Disney classic films.  There are live characters blended in with the digital projections, all taking you in and reminding you of why you love Disney so much.
  2.  Toy Story Mania:  Grab a fastpass for this ride, or arrive early to hop to this one.  Toy Story Mania is a 3D Based “game” in which you compete with the person sitting next to you to get the most points by going through several Toy Story themed rooms.  Very cute, VERY fun, and definitely worth your time.
  3. Beauty and the Beast: Live on Stage: Lots of singing and dancing, in this condensed version of the movie.  Fastpasses are optional, but not usually needed.  Sit back and enjoy the songs of Beauty and the Beast, watch the characters in motion, and feel as if you have watched the entire movie all over again.
  4. MuppetVision 3D:  This may have been my son AND my husband’s favorite attraction at Hollywood Studios.  They are both HUGE Muppets fans (cmon, who doesn’t love “Kermie”).  There are bits of Muppet-type humor woven in throughout the pre-show and main feature, and it leaves you feeling a little nostalgic for the days when the Muppets were at the height of their popularity.  A fantastic attraction for the kid in you.
  5. Star Tours:  The Adventure Continues:  Calling all Star Wars fans….this ride is a MUST!  Super exciting fun and adventure awaits on this motion simulator ride.  The ride is one big adrenaline rush as you are on a fast paced track with lots of dips and swerves and turns through the Star Wars locations.  Definitely grab a fastpass for this adventure!

BONUS:  Twilight Zone Tower of Terror….My daughter and sweet friend Katie LOVED it and I know it deserves to be on this list. Jump onboard as you manuever through the Twilight Zone in this free fall thrill ride.    Also, if you have time, watch the stage show Voyage of the Little Mermaid.  It’s a nice little adventure with Ariel and friends.

Animal Kingdom Favorites

Animal Kingdom is in a world of its own.  To me, it’s a park where you really start to feel you are in another world, miles away from civilization.  Give Animal Kingdom a chance to show you all that it has to offer.  You won’t regret it!

  1.  Kilimanjaro Safari’s:  You will need a fastpass to catch this trek.  It is simply amazing, how you feel you have been transformed into the jungle.  Something only Disney can design.  The live animals, the glorious waterfalls, the “bumpy” ride that feels like you are really riding on a real safari adventure.  Remember, most animals are usually alert and active early in the morning or right before sunset.  Try to get your fastpass for those times!
  2. Avatar Flight of Passage:  The new “it” ride at AK.  Climb on the back of a banshee (which you can even feel “breathing”), and soar and glide your way through Pandora.  You will experience smells and sights like no other and the wind and water from the ocean.  Needing a fastpass isn’t even a question…it’s a must!
  3. Expedition Everest:  Amazing to see at night, where you can see all the lights that Animal Kingdom has to offer.  Expedition Everest is an amazing thrill ride that goes forwards, backwards, and you encounter a Yeti that can frighten even the toughest of people!  Hold on tight during this ride!  Fastpasses recommended, unless you can grab a spot early in the morning at park opening.
  4. Kali River Rapids:  Remember how I advised on bringing ponchos for the Florida showers that pop up out of nowhere?  You also need those ponchos for this ride unless you want to leave drenched (like my husband was!).  You never know when you will get soaked on this ride, but it’s inevitable, it will happen.  Journey through the rainforest and ruins on this whitewater rapids ride.  Try to book it for later in your day, so you don’t take the chance of being soaked for the rest of your afternoon.  Lockers are available for storage and highly recommended.  You could even sneak in a dry set of clothes.
  5. Festival of the Lion King:  This. Show.  I don’t know that there is a better show at Disney.  Acrobats, fire, animals, singers, themed costumes and larger than life characters make this a stand out performance.  I was simply in awe throughout this show.  Do it.

BONUSIt’s Tough to Be a Bug:  The cast of A Bug’s Life takes you through an interactive and educational story on insect.   Finding Nemo:  The Musical is a condensed version of the movie but so worth it.  A great mix of live actors simulating the glorious characters from the movie make you feel that you are right there in the ocean with them.  Extra songs and lots of moments that make you laugh make this show unforgettable.

That’s it!  These are a list of my personal favorites, maybe even some of yours.  If you would like to seek out another adventure at Disney or this stimulates your need to go for the first time, let me help you make that happen!  debbie.lands@magical-vacations.com

Bare Necessities

Deciding on where to stay during your trip to Walt Disney World can be a huge decision.  Even just deciding what type of resort to stay in can be a huge choice to make!

While I have discussed resorts before, I haven’t gone into great detail about the types of resorts and what to expect.  In this next section, I will go into some detail about what to expect from each level, the resorts in each one, and some key features about each tier.

Value Resorts

Let’s jump in with our Value resorts first.  All-Star Movies, All-Star Sports, All-Star Music, Pop Century, and Art of Animation are the five resorts in this category.  Here are some key features about this category of resort:

  • Fun, bright, kid-friendly, whimsical theme with large icons
  • Motel type rooms that open to outside corridors
  • Food courts and pizza delivery available, but no Table Service restaurants
  • Themed pools that do not include water slides
  • Large, spread out layout, which can mean a lot of walking to rooms and dining
  • Bus transportation only to all parks and Disney Springs (and only 1 internal bus stop)
  • 260 sq. ft. rooms with 2 double beds or 1 king bed
  • Most budget friendly of all of the categories
  • Art of Animation has themed suites and rooms can be around 575 sq. ft.

Moderate Resorts

The Moderate resorts are Caribbean BeachCoronado SpringsPort Orleans French Quarter and Port Orleans Riverside are the four resorts in this category.  Here are some key features about this category of resort:

  • Beautifully themed with lush landscaping
  • Rooms that open to outside corridors
  • Table Service restaurants (except at Port Orleans French Quarter), food courts and pizza delivery available
  • A main feature pool with a water slide and other quiet pools
  • Large, spread out layout, can mean more walking to dining but not as far to buses
  • Multiple options for on-site recreation
  • Bus transportation to all parks and Disney Springs (and many internal bus stops, except at French Quarter).
  • Boat transportation to Disney Springs is also available at Riverside and French Quarter.
  • 314 sq. ft. rooms (340 sq. ft. at Caribbean Beach Resort) with 2 queen beds or 1 king bed
  • Riverside and Caribbean Beach can accommodate families of up to 5
  • Themed rooms available at Riverside ((Royal Guest rooms) and Caribbean Beach Resorts (Pirate rooms).
  • Coronado Springs offers Junior, 1-bedroom, and 2-bedroom suites.
  • Middle of the road as far as expense for a room budget

Deluxe Resorts

The Deluxe resorts are Animal Kingdom LodgeBeach ClubBoardWalk InnContemporaryGrand FloridianPolynesianWilderness Lodge and Yacht Club are the eight resorts in this category.  Here are some key features about this category of resort:

  • Beautiful, unique, impeccable theming with elaborate lobbies and gift shops
  • Rooms that open to inside corridors
  • Table Service restaurants (including 1 upscale option) and Quick Service, but no food courts
  • A main feature pool with a water slide and other quiet pools.  Some even Adults Only
  • Non-bus access to at least 1 park (except Animal Kingdom Lodge which always uses buses)
  • On-site gyms, salons, and valet parking available
  • Amenities are similar to a nicer chain of hotels
  • Each resort offers a full slate of hotel services
  • Direct monorail access from the Polynesian, Grand Floridian, and Contemporary
  • Direct boat access from Wilderness Lodge

Disney Deluxe Villa Resorts/ Disney Vacation Club Resorts

The Disney Deluxe Villa Resorts, sometimes referred to as the Disney Vacation Club Resorts, are:  Animal Kingdom Villas, Bay Lake Tower, Beach Club Villas, BoardWalk Villas, Boulder Ridge Villas at Wilderness Lodge, Copper Creek Villas & Cabins at Wilderness Lodge, Villas at Grand Floridian, Old Key West, Polynesian Villas & Bungalows and Saratoga Springs. All ten resorts are sold as timeshares through Disney Vacation Club (DVC), but you can also rent the units directly through Disney’s reservation system, just like you would a hotel room

Theming is on par with the Deluxe resorts.  These resorts will also be located in the same area, just in different buildings.  So, if you are staying in the DVC at the Polynesian, you will still check in like you normally would for a vacation at the Poynesian.  Your building assignment will just be in a different area.

Rooms for DVC are as follows:

  • Studios:  sleep up to five and include a mini fridge and a microwave, along with some disposable plates/utensils.
  • 1 and 2 Bedroom Villa: 1 (sleep 4-5) and 2 (sleep 8-9) Bedroom Villas have full kitchens with pots and pans, including a living room.  Most have a whirlpool tub in the master bathroom
  • Treehouses:  at Saratoga Springs, have 3 bedrooms and sleep 9
  • Bungalows: at the Polynesian, have 2 bedrooms and sleep 8
  • Cabins: at Wilderness Lodge, have 2 bedrooms and sleep 8
  • 3 Bedroom Grand Villas: at Animal Kingdom Villas, Bay Lake Tower, BoardWalk Villas, Villas at Grand Floridian, Copper Creek Villas, Old Key West and Saratoga Springs can sleep up to 12.

Fort Wilderness Cabins/Campsites

The last of our categories are the cabins and campsites.  Here is a brief overview of how they work:

Campsites are divided into three categories:  Partial, Full, or Preferred.

  • Partial Hookup (electricity and water provided),
  • Full Hookup (electricity, water and sewer provided)
  • Preferred (electricity, water, sewer and cable TV hookups, plus a more prime location). Each site has a picnic table and charcoal grill. Most sites feel secluded because there are trees and bushes between sites.

Cabins provide their own type of theming and offer boat transportation to Magic Kingdom.

  • One bedroom with a double bed and bunk beds
  • Murphy Bed in the living room
  • Full Kitchen with all basic cooking utensils, pots, pans, and dishes

 

There you have it!  Here is your complete list of resort categories.  Let’s create some magic together for 2018!  Contact me today to plan your dream getaway!  debbie.lands@magical-vacations.com

 

 

 

 

Baby Mine

Today is a lovely day to talk about love…..

While this blog is mainly about “how to do” Disney, it is also a way for me to include what Disney means to me and why I love it so much.  It is a way for me to explain why I am so passionate about what I do.  It is also a way for me to go back through my photos, and recall how they made me feel.  This photo is one of my favorites ever taken…….Let me tell you why.

First, it is a photo of my Sydney and Gabe, after a ride that I adore….Dumbo.  A classic, simple ride at Magic Kingdom that lifts you high into the air, with spectacular views of the nightly fireworks (which is when we chose to go).  The lights, the sounds, the music that we heard….made it all so brilliantly beautiful.  Hearing my children giggling and then seeing them cuddle and point to the fireworks that seemed as though we could touch them, was one of the most magical moments I experienced that evening.  When the ride was over, we of course, took the time to take this photo op, so we could always remember that we had this night together, soaring with Dumbo.  “Don’t just fly….Soar!”, as the movie goes…..and that’s exactly what we did.

Next, the main song from Dumbo, “Baby Mine”, was a song that I sang to my babies, night after night, and sometimes during their afternoon nap times, every single day of their lives when they were little.  It holds a particular fondness to me, that I will forever cherish as their mother.  I simply can not hear the song, or even think of this movie, and not think back to when they were tiny babies, wrapped tightly in my arms, when it felt as though nothing else existed during those moments except us.  As a mother, I would give anything to have one more glide in the rocking chair with them, one more afternoon of stroking their eyebrows as I sang to them, watching them fade away.  Those days are long gone now, but the memories, I will hold in my heart for the rest of my life.  So, for me, Dumbo will always be the most precious Disney movie to me, and maybe now, the most precious ride, for the memories it has given me, as a parent.  And just like the lyrics say, “You’re so precious to me, sweet as can be, Baby of Mine,”.

Finally,  when I was a young child, Dumbo was my favorite movie, and my children have always known that.  If they see a Dumbo trinket in a store, they beg to buy it so I can have it.  So, the connection that is there, between my love of Dumbo, and myself and my children, is something that we feel and we share together.  It is something I shared with my parents as well.  My father loved the crows that sang in the movie, “When I See an Elephant Fly,” and he will tell you those were his favorite parts of the movie.  My mother used to watch Dumbo with me, and I would crawl in her lap as she would stroke my hair and rock me, sometimes, to sleep as well.   The parts that would make me so sad, when Dumbo would be made fun of by others, my mother would just hold me, and remind me of what Timothy said to him, “The very things that hold you down are going to lift you up,”.  She always helped me see the positive when I was down, just like Timothy did for sweet Dumbo.

What I love the very most about Disney are the memories that it has given me, that I am able to carry with me and recreate with my family.  A movie, such as Dumbo, that I have loved for over thirty years, still makes me feel the same way when I watch it, and it holds so much more meaning for me now that I can share it with my children as well.   Then, to be able to go to Disney World, and put it into live action, riding the rides, feeling as if you are really a part of something magical, all while being with people you love and cherish.  There truly is nothing like it.

That is why I wanted to take this job, to share my love of Disney with others, and while doing so, allowing others to share their Disney love with their families.  I love helping others find their magical moments.  I love helping others find a ways to connect something from their past and make it part of their present, something they can share with people that they love.  Let’s find that magic together.  Contact me today to start your Disney adventures:  debbie.lands@magical-vacations.com

 

 

Hakuna Matata….it means no worries!

Happy 2018.  It is with great happiness that I am typing away this morning, thinking back on all of the blessings life has offered our family this year.  That is one of the wonderful things about the new year, it is a great time of reflection.

The picture above is from this past summer, and even though it is hard to tell, I had just been in the middle of a heavy downpour.  Quite typical for Florida.  One minute it’s raining cats and dogs, and the next, a beautiful skyline.  This was one of those moments.  Most people don’t smile when they are soaking wet…..right?  But in this picture, I was “beaming”.  I didn’t care that my hair was messy and my clothes soggy.  I didn’t care that my makeup was not photo ready.  I was not worried about filters and looking just right.  I wanted to capture this moment, my emotions, how I was feeling on the inside.  God was speaking to me, and I knew what I needed to do.  I have learned to listen to His gentle nudge.  Let me explain what went on prior to this photo…..

We were at Magic Kingdom, enjoying our first full day of vacation, when the storm clouds rolled in.  We didn’t have much time to think and then BOOM, the rain came down.  To say we were soaked would be an understatement.

We tried to take cover, but so did everyone else in the park.  After getting out the ponchos and umbrellas (see….this is why you always pack them!!!), we made a dash while I pushed Gabe in his wheelchair and Katie and Sydney ran in front of us, trying to find a dry spot.  It was no use.  Everyone there found the closest spots, so we just decided to go back to the resort.  We were fortunately at Cinderella’s Castle, so not too far away from the monorail, and after some moments of “what in the world are we going to do?”, we made it to the covered monorail area and hopped on the monorail.  Whew.  What else could we do but to laugh???  We were all soaking wet, shoes squishing, but, knew better than to complain.  We were safe, we were together, we were happy.

The rain stopped about the time we got off the monorail and began walking back to the resort (of course it did….after all that effort).  We. Just. Laughed.  We heard so many people around us complaining, and I get it.   But what could we do about it?  Nothing!  What has God told us?  What will worrying do?  Will it add a single minute, hour, day to our lives?  No!  So, I sent Katie back with the kids to our room, and I went to get us some snacks and drinks from the resort lobby.  It was during this walk back that I had a little short talk with God, taking in all the absolute beauty that was surrounding me, and thanking Him for allowing me the opportunity to be in this moment with Him, and also with my family.  I stopped to take this picture and sent it to my husband.  I was filled with an overwhelming feeling that I couldn’t name….more than happiness, more than excitement.  I continued to feel it during so many moments during that trip, and also at some point each and every day.  Because of Him.

This past summer,  a family friend’s daughter found out she had a brain tumor.  Two months after this happened, her mother, a friend of mine, spoke of this situation.  I know I won’t quote this exactly right, but this is what I took from it.  After going through her procedures, and, after time, coming out of it feeling more alive than ever, she struggled to find the word that she was feeling.  Yes, she was thankful.  Yes, she felt gratitude.  But there was more.  She knew there was a word she was trying to label all of this with, and she just couldn’t figure it out…..Finally, God spoke to her and said “Joy”.

I heard this story about a month ago, and ever since then, I have thought of that word endlessly.  Finding Joy, Appreciating Joy, Recognizing Joy…..Then yesterday, as I listened to our pastor speaking, he discussed the idea of “joy”.  I was pleasantly surprised that our sermon focused on this tiny word.  I say pleasantly surprised, but at the same time, I have also learned, that is how my relationship with God works.  When there is a lesson He wants me to learn….He keeps it on my heart.  So, for over a month, at least 3-4 times a week, I thought of our friend’s daughter.  I thought of “Joy”.  And I smiled.  I would think of God’s blessings, and I would smile.

In his sermon, as we discussed joy…I thought of this word…. Such a small word, but with great purpose.  He said that Pleasure + Meaning = Joy.   Things began to make sense to me.  There may be some that do not agree with this “definition”, but for me, it completely resonated with how I have always felt inside when someone spoke of the word “Joy”.  It was like I had been waiting my whole life for this definition, for an understanding of a feeling inside that I had when I am at complete peace, but it’s completely more than peaceful!  There is more happiness involved, there is purpose and excitement.  It is joy.  It is a look on my face that my husband knows all too well.  He says I get a tiny smile on my face….where I look like I am almost daydreaming, but I am completely in the moment.  It is joy, and I usually have that look when I see my kids loving each other, or a moment when I see something of beauty in the world.  My insides begin to stir and I almost feel that I am going to erupt!  And…it’s with joy.  The moments when you are ever so thankful to just be alive and where you are praising God for another day…and for me, I have this stirring inside of me and have never been able to put a word on it.  Finally, the word, so simply and true.  Joy.  A feeling that I can recall from moments when I was five years old to moments just yesterday….Joy.   Something that is a gift, given to me from the One, because of my moments of Solitude with Him.  How exquisite, how precious, and how rewarding, to know that I serve someone who will pay it forward to me, in such humbling ways.

While today’s blog varies from my normal topic of something related to Disney information, it absolutely has everything to do with WHY I am in this position to begin with.  I was 100% led by God to seek out this position as a travel specialist.  It has been by the overwhelming joy that I have felt inside me as I help guests that I know, this is what He wants me to do.  Joy.  So, simple and so meaningful.  So purposeful.  And exactly where I am supposed to be.

Happy 2018, may all of your dreams come true!  debbie.lands@magical-vacations.com

For the First Time in Forever….(Part 3)

Continuing my blog on big decision making for the first time at Disney (or the first time in a long time at Disney), I am moving on to what to pack in your daily backpack.  While there will be many travelers who won’t need a full backpack for their days in the parks, there will be just as many who will, and if you were anything like I was, I went to the internet searching for what the “essentials” were when trying to be prepared.

Before I begin with what to pack, it is just as important to first discuss geography.  This was a key element in not only what to pack in my backpack but how much for each of my trips.  For our trips in which we stayed at a value resort and a couple of the moderates we have stayed in, and we were a further bus ride away from “home” for the week, I would stuff our backpacks until I couldn’t even fit another penny inside.  I wanted (and needed) everything to be inside because if we forgot something, we would either have to buy it (if possible) at the parks, or we would have to just be without it for the day.  Especially for those days at our value resorts, for me, anyway, when I didn’t plan to return for several hours.

Now, for our trips when we stayed at the Polynesian, and were a short monorail ride away from being “home”, it wasn’t as much of a let down if we forgot something.  We were a little closer should we “have” to go back.  I also split my days up a little more as well when we stayed there, and didn’t have to pack my bags as full.

Finally, for days when we have traveled to Universal….since we have always been staying at Disney when we visit Universal, I usually just take a few “hip packs” with us and cram as much as we can in there.  Universal has great travel lockers to store backpacks in, whereas Disney allows the backpacks on the rides.  So, we had to be prepared for a different feel while at Universal, and we took just the absolute essentials with us on those days.

So, now that our geography lesson is over, we can jump right in.  To make it a little easier to follow, I divided up my list into categories.

Electronics

  • Phones:  make sure they are fully charged and storage ready to handle taking plenty of photos.
  • Portable electronic chargers and cords
  • Waterproof phone case/bag, for the water rides OR those pop up Florida showers….speaking of…..

Weather

  • Ponchos:  I can NOT stress enough that you must be prepared for a Florida shower.  It will happen!!!
  • Travel Umbrella
  • Sunglasses
  • Sunscreen
  • Lip Sunscreen (a must for me)
  • Water Misters
  • Bug Spray
  • Jacket: for those traveling during the slightly cooler days/nights

Health

  • Moleskin/Blister band-aids:  This is about as important as having a poncho!  Even the most prepared family (us) will have someone end up with a blister on the first day of the trip.  We have now learned for our blister prone people, to begin our trips with these on as a preventative!
  • First Aid Kit
  • Germ-X
  • Neosporin
  • Wet Wipes
  • Tissues
  • Travel Deoderant
  • Body Glide
  • Hair brush/ponytail holder
  • Baby powder (because your feet/body will stink after a bit and no one wants to sit next to you during a show when you smell of sweat!)
  • Travel perfume/cologne

Snacks

  • Water/Water bottles:  There are many water fountains available for a quick fill up.
  • Snacks:  Fruit snacks, granola bars, cheese crackers
  • Gum: Disney does NOT sell gum in the parks so if you want it, you will need to bring your own inside!
  • Some type of breath mint
  • Flavor packets:  A hit with my kiddos.  I would bring a stash of sugar free lemonade or fruit punch to add to their waters.

Park Essentials

  • Park maps, even though you can look via your smartphone, it is always smart to have a backup, and sometimes easier.
  • MagicBands, Park Tickets
  • Bitbelts for your MagicBands:  I have never had a Magic Band fall off, but this was just an extra added measure of safety.  You definitely don’t want your MagicBand to fall off and lose it!
  • Autograph books and pens (optional but SO fun!)
  • Lanyards with trading pins (optional to wear/do)
  • Ears to wear (optional, but again, when in Rome….)
  • Cash/Credit Card:  While you can have everything programmed to your MagicBand and pay that way, technology fails us sometimes and just like the park maps, it is good to have a backup.
  • Hidden Mickey’s…..ok, so you can’t “carry” this.  But there is a Hidden Mickey’s book you can buy AND an app you could download.  We loved searching for them while waiting for a ride or while on our way to our next restaurant.

Miscellaneous

  • Lots of Pennies!  Pressed Pennies are the cheapest souvenir you can purchase at Disney!  Take some shiny pennies with you and store them in an old medicine bottle.  You can even do Pressed Quarters.  Our kids have LOVED doing this and you can even purchase books to store them in permanently after you are home.
  • Glow Sticks:  Super fun for fireworks time.  Glow bracelets and necklaces are even nice just to have around your kiddos during the evening hours.
  • Towels:  I always pack one with us, to dry things off or to sit down and watch a parade.
  • Change of clothes/socks:  This is truly optional.  I, myself, have not done this for all of my trips.  Socks, YES, but not clothes.

Now…..there were two backpacks pictured above…..one was mine, and one was my daughters.  A lot of times, we will split up the items, so mine isn’t so heavy.  Somedays, she would take her camera with her, so she could capture those great quality photos.  She really loves taking pictures and is honestly, very good at it.  So, she needs a bag with her to carry it around and a backpack helps.

Keep in mind, I don’t carry ALL of these things ALL day long.  I spend some time each night before we go to bed getting our bags ready for our morning or our next day.  It would be too heavy to lug ALL of this around all day long, however, as I mentioned before, I DID do this when we stayed at one of the value resorts, simply because I was stubborn and didn’t want to take the 30 minute bus ride back and then back again.  Plus, waiting for the bus, both ways.  I felt it would take too much of my day, and we had things to do.  So, I hauled it around.  I was honestly glad I did then, but I would do it differently now.  Plus, I also have another child who wants to carry things with her, and we can split things up a bit.

Also….leave room for some souvenirs, unless you have time to have them sent back to your room.

I have two more thoughts for this series, and tomorrow, I will jump into Park Tickets.  What to buy, how many days, what are the options, etc.

If you would love a FREE custom quote on a Disney or Universal trip,  please feel free to email me at:  debbie.lands@magical-vacations.com