Tag Archives: resorts

Special Order!

Disney has dropped a great promotion this morning.  Disney Bound guests who book their packages by July 7, 2018 and stay during limited dates between August-September and November-December 2018 will receive this promotion. These packages are VERY LIMITED, so if you are interested, get in touch with me today!  debbie.lands@magical-vacations.com

Friends on the Other Side (of the Castle)

A week ago, my plane landed in Orlando, and I was off to my home away from home. Disney World, for an agency training.  Keep in mind…I was about to share a room with three other ladies, two of which I had never met or really spoken with.  I was also about to meet 15 other agents whom I have spoken with just over social media, and a handful of phone calls to a few of them.  Yet, in true Disney fashion,  some extra special pixie dust was spread over this entire work trip.  These ladies have my heart now.  We are definitely not strangers anymore.  We laughed, we cried, we laughed until we cried, we sang in the rain, we ate until we had one too many food comas, and we screamed our heads off on some amazing rides and experiences.  It’s hard to imagine that eight days ago, I didn’t really “know” any of them.  Now, I can tell you wonderful things about each of them.   One of the key things I took from this training had nothing to do with Disney.  We discussed how much we should support each other’s careers and want the best for each other.  It was truly some of the best adult conversations that I have had in a long time.  We live in a world where everything seems ultra competitive.  Yet, here we were, giving each other tips and strategies, ideas and “a-ha” moments.  That is the way it truly should always be in this world.  I am blessed to be part of this, and that is just one reason why.

When our training was over, all of us began departing at different times.  Our 16 slowly dwindled down, and I ended up having about four hours before my flight.  Not once, during any of my trips, have I ever had “solo” time to doddle around.  It gave me a chance to see Disney through a fresh set of eyes.  When you are alone, you take things in more passionately, and that is exactly what I did.  I noticed things I had never noticed before, because during my previous trips, I always had an agenda, or was always talking to someone.  My mind and body were definitely on the “go”.  But this time, things were different.  It made me appreciate my job, my family, and my life, so much more.  It made me thankful for the opportunity to be there, and also appreciative of the chances I have had in the past to be there.  Disney is definitely my second home.  My heart is there, and I leave a piece of it behind with each visit.  I am blessed to have a family that supports my passion.

Let me show you how amazing Disney can be.  Let’s plan some magic together for 2018 or 2019.  Securing a trip is easier than you might expect and quotes are free.  Take it from someone who knows and loves Disney.  Contact me today:                  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

 

 

 

 

For the First Time in Forever…(Part 5)

Wrapping up my blog series, today I will jump into using FastPass + and MagicBands, two of my favorite things from WDW!

Fastpass+

A question I get asked regularly is “What is a FastPass+?”.  Essentially, it reserves a spot for you on a ride/attraction.  The best thing?  It is FREE!  You can choose your FastPass+ selections 60 days prior to your trip, and when choosing, it gives you a choice of time frames to select from (if mutltiple time slots are available).  You will have an hour window in which to physically complete your FastPass+.  Each guest is given three FastPass+ selections per day, and upon completion, you can even select a fourth!  If you are a park hopper, the fourth one can be inside a different park, but the first three MUST be completed within the same park.  So, if you are NOT a park hopper, then the fourth one will be completed within the same park as well.

As mentioned before, FastPass+ can be booked at 60 days out from your trip via the My Disney Experience App, or website, or can even be done from inside the park at one of the kiosks on the day of your trip.  This can be done once your tickets are purchased AND if you are staying on property during your trip.  The selections are then stored in your app,  MagicBands, or also on your physical park ticket.  I would have to stress that it is highly recommended/critical to book FastPass+ in advance for those highly sought after rides and attractions.  This summer, Pandora debuted during my trip.  I regret now NOT taking the time to check it out, as the lines were 240 minutes long every single day, for MOST of the day,  during our trip (it debuted the day before we arrived).  No one wants to spend that much time in line, when you have planned so many other things to do while at Disney.  There is no guarantee you will get exactly what you want, but the chances are much higher if you are able to book at your 60 day window.

You use your MagicBand Mickey Head (see the one in my picture above) to meet up to the ride’s RFID Mickey Head as you walk into the attraction opening.  There will be a line for FastPass+ and for Stand-by.  It always feels SO GOOD (but honestly, I have also felt a little guilty!!!) going in on the FastPass+ side, knowing that at most, you may only have another 10-15 minute wait for a ride, as compared to some coveted rides where there is a 90-120 minute wait in the Stand-by line.  You can arrive 5 minutes early or 15 minutes past your “selected time”, which, in theory, gives you more than an hour to complete the ride.  Things happen, and this is one nice option to have.  Having pre-selected times for rides also allows for the opportunity to do other things while waiting for your next ride such as grab a quick bite to eat, pose for some pictures, do some shopping, or simply rest!

The great thing about using a company like Magical Vacations, is that it is OUR JOB to book these reservations for you.  So, if you were to use me as your specialist, we would discuss together some choices that your would like to have for your trip, and then after I have them selected for you at your 60 day mark, you get a quick email from me stating which ones are confirmed!  Even as a specialist, we can’t guarantee to get 100% of what you want, but we can take the stress away from having to try it alone.

MagicBands

The next most popular question I get asked is “what are those colorful bracelets everyone wears?”  Why, in fact, those are MagicBands!  That is what you see in my image above.

MagicBands are fantastically designed by Disney to incorporate a vast amount of knowledge in one piece.  They double as:  room keys, credit cards, park tickets, food reservations, park photos, and FastPass+ selections.  You can store ALL of this information into your MagicBands, for every single person on your trip.  No more carrying a separate card for your room, or only getting “two” as we do at hotels.  Every member in your party can have access to the room with their own customized MagicBand.

As I stated above,  it also stores credit card information.  So, you don’t HAVE to carry a separate wallet unless you want to.  Just like with the room keys, anyone in your party can have access to using their MagicBands for payment.  You choose a PIN password for payment info after touching your MickeyHead on your MagicBand to the one on the payment sensor.  Done!  This way, if you were to lose a MagicBand, your payment information is still secure via PIN password protection.

The park photo storage option is probably one of the most clever ideas invented for this handy wristband.  When you enter a ride using your MagicBand, the ride then has knowledge that you were on the ride, and at premium photo opportunities with specific rides, you will have your photo taken.  After the ride, you can view your photo on available screens, and near them are, guess what, more of the Mickey Head sensors.  You place yours to theirs, and voila!  The photo is now stored as yours and will pop up on your app using your Memory Maker package, which can be purchased as an add-on for your trip.  You can also pose for pictures throughout the park, such as character experiences, and those photographers can link their photos to your package using Mickey Heads from their devices.

Each person will get to choose their color of MagicBand as part of your package, and it will be needed to get in to the parks or to access your rides.  You will also have the physical tickets that can be used should a MagicBand become lost.

MagicBands are also waterproof, so there is no need to take them off when swimming!  Did I mention they are FREE?  MagicBands have become such an integral part of the Disney system, I can’t imagine now not using them.  There are MagicBands that can be purchased if you would rather use them than the standard solid colors, and you can also buy add-on waterproof vinyl images from sites like Etsy (like I have shown on mine).    You can also buy accessories such as MagicBandits to slide onto your band.

I would love to give you a FREE custom quote on a magical trip.  If this sounds like a trip of a lifetime for you, please let me help make that happen!  Contact me at:  debbie.lands@magical-vacations.com to get started!

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

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!