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Spoonful of Sugar

Oh Boy!  This sure is a fun blog post today! One of my favorite topics is food!  And one of my favorite things at Disney is the variety of food that they offer, especially what the countries have to offer at Epcot.

But today, my focus is on the sweets at Disney, in particular, my favorite sweets at Disney.  Here is a list of my top five savory sugar treats at Disney, which will hopefully clue you in as to what you should sample when you make your journey there!

  • Dole Whip:  Yes, I know, I have mentioned this treat several times already.  That’s  because it is sooooo good!  You must try it if and when you go to Disney World.  A luscious mix of creamy, non-dairy, soft serve, deliciousness (even better as a float).  Some even claim it is EVEN better with rum.  I’ve yet to try that mix.  It can not be bought just anywhere at Disney World, only at the Polynesian Resort and at Aloha Isle in Adventureland at Magic Kingdom.
  • The Kitchen Sink: Admitting that I love this borders of me being a glutton.  However, if you notice from the photo above, it is SHARED with four people and we did NOT finish it!  It is absolutely, everything you could possibly want in a dessert, all thrown into one, well, sink!  Here is a list of all the ingredients inside this delectable dessert:
  • fudge topping
  • butterscotch topping
  • peanut butter topping
  • banana slices
  • cinnamon spice cupcake
  • angel food cupcake
  • vanilla ice cream
  • chocolate ice cream
  • strawberry ice cream
  • mint chocolate chip ice cream
  • coffee ice cream
  • chocolate syrup
  • marshmallow crème
  • strawberry topping
  • pineapple topping
  • dairy whipped topping
  • 1 brownie
  • 1 regular-sized (2 ounce) candy bar
  • 4 chocolate cookies with cream filling
  • sliced toasted almonds
  • dark and white chocolate shavings
  • chocolate cookies with cream filling, crushed
  • chopped jellied orange slices (approximately 2 large slices)
  • milk chocolate chip morsels
  • peanut butter chip morsels
  • chocolate sprinkles
  • rainbow sprinkles
  • ½ cup drained maraschino cherries

So now you can see why it is called “The Kitchen Sink”!  This can be found at the Beach Club Resort, at Beaches and Cream.  Wonderful atmosphere, wonderful cast members and a great environment for attempting this dessert!

  • Ice Cream Sundae at 50’s Prime Time Cafe:  Can you tell by now that we love chocolate?  Oh my goodness these were fantastic!!!!  Not nearly the ingredients that were in the kitchen sink, but every bit as delectable.  We didn’t all finish our desserts, as they were pretty rich, but since they came with our meal plan, we went ahead and splurged and ate on them as much as we could, which didn’t leave much room for supper!  Somehow, on this trip, we didn’t gain a single pound, but I’m guessing it was due to all the walking!
  • The Grey Stuff (It’s Delicious):  I have also wrote about this before, the dessert that comes with a meal at Be Our Guest Restaurant at Disney World.  It is a chocolate cupcake with cookie creme and topped with Lumiere’s famous “Grey Stuff”.  Divine.  Also a favorite of mine there, the Lemon Meringue Cupcake.  It is a vanilla spongecake with a lemon custard filling, topped with a flamed meringue icing.
  • Chocolate Croissant: If you love chocolate and you loved baked goods…..this is about as perfect of a blend of breakfast meets dessert as someone could make.  You feel like a child who asks for chocolate for breakfast, except this is totally acceptable!  This counts as a snack with your Quick Service meal credits, so a huge win-win!

And there you have it, my top five sweet treats at Disney.  Notice all but one involved chocolate…makes me really think I need to count my carbs during my next terip!  But as I mentioned above, I have yet to gain weight on a Disney trip!  And let me tell you, I indulge on the food!  Because what good is a vacation going to be if we have to watch what we eat all day?  Just be cautious, don’t make yourself sick, and enjoy your life, one sweet bite at a time….at Disney.  Let me help you make this happen.  Feel free to email me to get your trip of a lifetime started.  debbie.lands@magical-vacations.com

 

 

 

 

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

So This Is Love

Can’t you see the look of truly smitten love in his eyes?  Isn’t Alice just a beautiful and glorious girl to look at?  On this day, my sweet boy was exhausted and ready for a swim to help ease his swollen and tired feet.  We had to take off his orthotic shoes and just leave on his SMO’s to help get some air to them, and were about to head back to the monorail when sweet Alice came walking down the lane.  All of the sudden,  her gracious and loving smile and her caring voice as she spoke directly to my son, made him feel like he was floating on a cloud.  Life got just a little sweeter for these few moments.

Love is love, however you want to put a spin on it.  Whether it is through the eyes of an eight year old looking at a beautiful princess that has caught his eye, or through the eyes of his thirty nine year old mother as she is admiring the beautiful flowers that surround their resort.  Love comes in a variety of packages, whether it is bandaging someone’s blisters from walking too much, or riding “It’s a Small World” with your brother, even though you hate it.  Just because he loves it.  Love is taking risks, seeking out adventure.  Love is apologizing and loving someone for exactly who they are.  Love is letting someone have your favorite Dole Whip.  Love is going on the Astro Orbiter with your family (even though you are deathly afraid!!!!) and holding on tight, just to be with your family and show them that you can always tackle your dreams head on.

Love. Is. Love.  I love being with my loves at Disney.

Let me show you how to be with your loves at Disney World or our other Disney locations and adventures.  debbie.lands@magical-vacations.com  See you soon pals!

 

You Can Fly

When there’s a smile in your heart, there’s no better time to start                                    Think of all the joy you’ll find, when you leave the world behind                                        And bid your cares goodbye!  You can fly! You can fly!                                                                                                       YOU CAN FLY!”       – You Can Fly- Peter Pan

I love that song, and not because of the movie, but because of the encouragement that it provides when you have a little “faith, trust, and pixie dust” floating around in your life.  Sometimes in life, we are overwhelmed, over-worked, and over-scheduled.  Those were the thoughts from our pastor this week.  He was right.  We spend so much time trying to meet every demand on our calendars, hit every deadline, attend every meeting, practice, concert, and it all becomes too much.  Stress takes over our ragged bodies, and we begin to deflate a little each time it happens.

But if you are wise, and turn your thoughts to something “lighter” when you are upset, things can begin to look up.  This photo for instance, was not one that I originally planned.  But as we were waiting in line for Peter Pan’s Flight, I caught a glimpse of these two, side by side, enjoying a loving moment together, holding onto each other’s hands and “ooh-ing and ahh-ing” about the scenes from the movie.  Gabe’s legs were pretty wore out from the day, and we had to park his wheelchair and walk just a bit to this ride.  It wasn’t bad, but a little longer than we had anticipated.  Syd knew he needed a hug and some love, and instantly, he was back to giggling and having a good time.  It also just happened to be at the spot in line, where your shadow is cast along the wall.  I knew, I needed to get my camera out, because I wanted to remember this moment forever.  A glimpse at this photo, gives me a glimpse at what I live for:  my family.  At the end of the day, no matter what meeting was attended, what game was played, what plans were made, my family is everything to me, and they are the reason that I want to better my life.  They are the reason I know I have been blessed, and they are the reason why, no matter what happens, I have to just smile and be grateful for all I have been given.  When my life bucket “feels” empty, I know it is something I have done to myself, but also within myself, I can think about the ones I love, and suddenly, my life bucket is full, overflowing.  Amazing how one photo can remind you of everything you live for.  They give me my wings, and they allow me to fly.

I have been very fortunate to have a family who supports my dreams, and who knows that without their love, I would be able to make it, but I wouldn’t be as fulfilled.  Love gives us wings we didn’t realize we had.  Just like in Peter Pan, they believed in themselves and each other, and that faith allowed them to fly.

We do Disney because of that feeling, the way we believe in each other, and how we support each other’s dreams.  Disney allows us to “never grow up”, to relive moments that we loved as children, and to explore our passions while being together as a family.  I would love to give you the same experiences that I have shared with my family.  Let’s create some magic together, and find out where our wings can take us:  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 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 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!