Disney Gift Cards

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Everything There Is To Know About Disney Gift Cards!

disney gift cards

The number one thing I am asked as a Travel Agent is “how can I save money on my vacation?” For Disney Destinations, that answer is easy: Disney Gift Cards! Most people have absolutely no idea how much power comes in this little plastic card.

Where Can I Buy Disney Gift Cards?

grocery store gift cards
Grocery Store Gift Card Rack

It used to be, way back in the day, the only place you could get a specific gift card was at that store, but those days are long gone. It’s entirely likely that you have Disney Gift Cards at your local grocery store, drug store, gas station, and more! You can purchase them in any amount (generally up to $500 per card) and be on your way.

You can also purchase them at some locations at a discounted price. Stores like Sam’s Club, Costco (don’t buy their vacation packages, trust me), BJs, and Target, for example, offer discounts on their gift cards. For example, with the Target RedCard, you can get 5% off gift cards, so you could get a $500 card for for $475, saving you $50 per $1,000 your buy. Let’s say you need $5,000 to pay for your vacation. That’s a savings of $250! Depending on how many are in your party, that’s a table service meal!

And finally, many grocery stores offer fuel perks when you purchase gift cards. I think EVERYONE can stand to save some money on gas these days!

Where Can I Use Disney Gift Cards? What Can I Buy With Them?

Disney Gift Cards

Ready for the BEST news? Disney Gift Cards can be used for almost EVERYTHING. Need to pay for your cruise? DONE. Need to pay your bill at Aulani? NO PROBLEM. It’s true! You can pay for all your Disney Destination vacations, including Walt Disney World Resort, Disneyland Resort, Disney Cruise Line, Adventures by Disney, Aulani, even Disney on Broadway!

My best advice is to plan your attack, and maybe even double your investment! Get some that come with discounts, saving money that way, and then get your fuel perks and save money on gas. The more you save outside of your vacation, the more you have to spend ON your vacation! And have all your family members get gift cards for the kids, and they will have their own spending money!

Learn more about Disney Destinations!

Need more money-saving tips? I’ve got you covered!

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Capture Your Moment

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Read Time:2 Minute, 48 Second

Capture Special Moments with Capture Your Moment Photo Session at Walt Disney World Theme Parks!

Capture Your Moment
Capture Your Moment – Magic Kingdom

Are you looking for a fun new activity for your family? Senior Pictures? Engagements? Consider a Capture Your Moment Photo Session! These sessions, available at all four Walt Disney World theme parks, give you a one-on-one session with a Disney PhotoPass Photographer.

Pricing and Details

capture your moment

Capture Your Moment sessions are one-on-one photo sessions with a photographer, and they are available for booking 60 days in advance as part of Enchanting Extras. You do have the opportunity to book two back-to-back sessions for 40 minutes and two different locations! Each 20-minute session costs $79 for up to 8 people, and full payment is due at time of booking. If you need to cancel, make sure to do it before 24-hours prior to your appointment. Payment will still be due if you do not show up, or cancel within 24 hours! Photos cost extra, unless you have the Memory Maker. Memory Maker provides access to all photo downloads. A WIN-WIN! These Sessions are only available during regular park hours and you must have valid admission (also not included in the $79 price) and park reservations.

Magic Kingdom

capture your moment

At the Magic Kingdom, you will check in AT LEAST 10-minutes prior to your session at Box Office Gifts inside Town Square Theater. This is right at the entrance of Magic Kingdom on the right as you enter. Your photog will meet you there and tell you which locations are available that day. (No worries, all locations come with a view of Cinderella Castle!) You’ll be able to choose props or bring your own (appropriate) props. Wedding attire is not permitted. Guests under 14 must be accompanied by an adult.

EPCOT

spaceship earth
Photo: Disney

Over at Epcot, quickly becoming my favorite park again (but I still miss Horizons), the photo options are absolutely amazing. Again, only available during regular park hours with valid admission and a park reservation. You will check in 10-minutes early at the Kidcot Fun Stop next to Art of Disney in the American Adventure. Choose from locations in the Germany pavilion, Italy pavilion, American Adventure, Japan Pavilion, or the Morocco pavilion. AMAZING. If I were to do back-to-back sessions, this is the park I would DEFINITELY choose!

Hollywood Studios

sunset boulevard

Next, Hollywood Studios offers several locations to choose from as well, but first, you have to get your photographer! Check in at Sid Cahuenga’s One-of-a-Kind Antiques, located to the left right as you enter the park! Photo locations include Hollywood Boulevard, Echo Lake, Sunset Boulevard, or another beloved spot. Unfortunately, Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge is NOT included in the Capture Your Moment Photo Session.

Animal Kingdom

tree of life

And finally, we head to Animal Kingdom, where you check in outside of Island Mercantile. When you meet your photographer, you’ll have your choice of an iconic Animal Kingdom location with a view of the magnificent Tree of Life!

And that is everything there is to know about Capture Your Moment Photo Sessions. These are perfect for Engagements, Anniversaries, Birth Announcements, Birthdays, Family Reunions, Graduation, Senior Pictures, or anything you might celebrate at the parks!

Schedule your FREE Vacation Consultation today!

Or just fill out the free quote request form here!

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Moderate vs Deluxe Hotels

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Read Time:6 Minute, 26 Second

How Do You Choose: Moderate vs Deluxe Hotels at Walt Disney World

moderate or deluxe hotels

There are a ton of decisions to be made about your Walt Disney World Vacation, long before you book, let alone before you travel! Let’s compare Moderate vs Deluxe Hotels, and how you can choose the one that will work best for your family AND your budget!

Moderate resorts are the middle of the road resorts. These are good for those that want to spend a day or two at just the resort. Deluxe hotels offer the top-most level of amenities, have the closest proximity to the parks, more dining options, generally more transportation options, and way more perks. So which resort is right for YOU? How do you choose?

Walt Disney World Resorts All Have Amenities

moderate vs deluxe
Waterslide at the Luna Park Pool at Boardwalk Inn

It should come as no surprise that every resort hotel at Walt Disney World have basic amenities. There’s not really a hotel that is just a bland room. They are all themed in some way, and all offer free in-room WiFi, free WDW transportation to the parks, water parks, and Disney Springs, and have online check-in. Every resort has at LEAST one pool. Most have at least two, even.

And there’s even MORE basic amenities! While you have to pay to park overnight at your resort, you will have FREE parking at all 4 theme parks, 2 water parks, and Disney Springs. You will also be able to use your MagicBand to charge back to your room at all Walt Disney World resort hotels. And if you are staying at more than one hotel, you will get FREE baggage transfer within those resorts.

Finally, all guests at Walt Disney World resorts have early morning entry at all four theme parks. Get into the parks before everyone else and head to your favorite attractions before the lines get too long! You will also be able to reserve your Genie+ lightning lanes and Individual Lightning Lane purchases before offsite guests. And all resorts have dining options and a gift shop!

Moderates vs Deluxe Hotels: Pricing Comparison

moderate vs deluxe

Let’s just rip the band aid RIGHT OFF. How do the prices compare for Moderates vs Deluxe Hotels? Moderate Resorts range from $250-$400 per night, while Deluxe Resorts range from $400-$1000+ per night. This, of course, depends on the season, and even day of the week. For the most part, the Moderate rooms are standard hotel rooms, with most opening out to the outside. Kind of Disnified Motel Rooms, only not at all gross like Motels!

Deluxe Hotels, on the other hand, offer your standard hotel rooms, studios, suites, and family villas that have full kitchens and a washer and dryer! The rooms are also slightly bigger, and almost all Deluxe hotels have a patio or a balcony.

Moderates vs Deluxe Hotels: Location, Location, Location

Fireworks from the Wilderness Lodge

Deluxe Resorts are the closest to the theme parks, with the exception of Animal Kingdom Lodge (it is WAY out there, but close to Animal Kingdom). In some cases, you can even walk to the parks. Deluxe Resorts have more transportation options, including monorail, boats, and even the Skyliner.

The closest you can get to the Magic Kingdom is the five minute or so walk from the Contemporary. You can also walk from the Polynesian and the Grand Floridian, or hop on the monorail for both the Magic Kingdom and Epcot. Staying at the Boardwalk, Beach, or Yacht Club puts you within walking distance of both Epcot AND Hollywood Studios. You can also grab the Skyliner, take Friendship Boats to Hollywood Studios or Epcot, too! The Riviera has the Skyliner, and the Wilderness Lodge is a short boat ride to Magic Kingdom.

Moderate Resorts are farther away from the parks than the Deluxe Resorts, but not as far as the Values. They have bus transportation ONLY, with the exception of Caribbean Beach Resort, which is the hub for the Skyliner. Coronado Springs is the Moderate hotel that is also the Convention Center, so there are additional amenities there, including Gran Destino Tower. Gran Destino Tower is brand new with rooms and suites. It is best described as Moderate pricing with a Deluxe feel. Port Orleans (both Riverside and Port Orleans) are way over by Disney Springs. The Cabins at Fort Wilderness, somehow considered a Moderate, are located right across the lake from the Magic Kingdom.

Moderates vs Deluxe Hotels: Amenities and Entertainment

Dining on the Boardwalk
Dining on the Boardwalk – Trattoria al Forno

As previously discussed, all the resort hotels have basic amenities, but they get just a little bit better the higher you go up in resorts. At Moderate Resorts, as well as Value and Deluxe, you can watch a movie on the lawn, go to a bonfire, or take part in a number of activities taking place during the day. But at Deluxe resorts, you can usually catch the fireworks WHILE you watch the movie, a nice added perk!

Moderate Resort pools are bigger than value, with small waterslides and loads of fun for everyone. There is usually at least one other pool that is considered more of a quiet pool, for those looking for a more peaceful swim. The Deluxe pools, however, are much bigger, with bigger waterslides, splash pads, whirlpool spas, great poolside bars, a lazy river, and, at some pools, cabanas you can rent by the day! In addition, there is usually a DVC pool area and even an additional quiet pool area.

Dining

Moderate vs Deluxe Hotels have a ton of amenities to compare, including DINING! All resorts have dining options. For the most part, Moderate Resorts all have one table service option (except for Port Orleans French Quarter) and at least one quick service. Deluxe Resorts, on the other hand, usually have at least 2 table service restaurants, one more casual and one fine dining option. In addition, Deluxe Resorts have a quick service restaurant.

Deluxe Resorts also have upscale Lounges, serving quick bites, beverages, cocktails, and beers. And as an extra special perk, a lot of Deluxe Resorts have areas to watch theme park fireworks shows while you relax at your resort. And some even pipe the music in while you do it!

Perks Available ONLY to Deluxe Resort Guests

There are a few perks available ONLY to Deluxe Resort Guests. Guests staying at Deluxe Resort hotels can enjoy extended hours on select nights at the Magic Kingdom and Epcot. This includes an EXCLUSIVE virtual queue at 6:00pm on Epcot nights, for an additional opportunity for guests to ride Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind. Deluxe Resorts also offer gyms and fitness centers, as well as spas.

So How Do You Choose?

Disney's Wilderness Lodge
Totem at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge

How do you choose? The honest answer is that only you will know. When deciding in the great Moderate vs Deluxe Hotels game, you’ll need to consider your budget, how long you want your trip to last, and what’s worth it to you. Split Stays are a great option to get a taste of Deluxe then transfer to a Moderate or Value. For me, personally, I LOVE the Deluxe hotels. Wilderness Lodge is my very favorite resort and the Boardwalk area, with Boardwalk, Beach Club, and Yacht Club, is my favorite area (can’t beat that short walk to Epcot AND Hollywood Studios). But I have had a lot of clients have their favorite vacations ever at Caribbean Beach and Coronado Springs. Long story short, it all depends on what kind of Disney vacation you want to have! Either way, I’d love to help you plan it! Contact me today for your free vacation consultation!

Visit here for more information about Disney Resort Hotels.

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Splitsville Luxury Lanes

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Read Time:3 Minute, 8 Second

Splitsville Luxury Lanes is Located at Disney Springs West Side

As I’ve said many, many times before, Walt Disney World has SO MUCH TO DO, and it is absolutely impossible to do it all in one trip! One of the most fun non-park day activities is to go bowling at Splitsville Luxury Lanes! This 2-story luxury bowling alley is located in the West Side of Disney Springs. There are 26-lanes, 5 bars, a restaurant, and MORE! While bowling isn’t an activity you can only do at Disney, this is a fun and unique non-park day activity, and GREAT for rainy days!

All the Deets About Splitsville

Splitsville Luxury Lanes - Disney Springs West Side

As I said already, there are 5 bars in Splitsville. This makes Splitsville Luxury Lanes a GREAT place to watch that college football game or NFL game while on vacation! The second floor becomes an adult hangout as the day turns to night, with all the bars, but the first floor is always family-friendly!

Much like Walt Disney World, Splitsville has A LOT to do! You can frequently catch live entertainment or go dancing. With a full service restaurant and 5 bars, there’s plenty to eat and drink, or you can choose to dine at your lane, where full-service dining is available. Play pool or catch the game on one of over sixty televisions. There is even an outdoor dining porch upstairs!

Splitsville Bowling Information

Splitsville Luxury Lanes

There are 26 lanes on two floors, and all lanes are ADA compliant! There is an elevator available to the second floor, too. In general, lanes are first come, first served, but you are able to book a lane online. Scoring is automatic, and your names will appear above your lane after you check in. 8 bowlers can play on a lane together.

There is a Lane Concierge who will deliver your shoes and help you set up your games, if you need it. A GREAT perk, if you ask me! The Kids’ Bowling Balls have Mickey and Minnie designs on them, too, for that little Disney touch you never knew you needed! There are no age limits, as that is left to parental discretion. Shoes start as small as 7 Toddler all the way to Men’s 18s. And the smallest ball is 7 pounds. If someone in your party needs bumpers, just let them know when you check in, and they will set it up for you!

Bowling Pricing

Splitsville Luxury Lanes

Pricing is per person and includes shoe rental. Your lane time is then based on number of players, since you pay per person and not per game.

  • 1-2 people: 1 hour
  • 3-4 people: 1.25 hour
  • 5-6 people: 1.5 hour
  • 7-8 people: 1.75 hour
  • Monday-Friday op-4:00pm: $30/person
  • Monday-Friday 4:00pm-close: $34/person
  • Weekends open-close: $34/person

Dining

Splitsville Dining

Splitsville Luxury Lanes features a full-service dining room. You can get a reservation at 60 days out on My Disney Experience, or check on Open Table. The cuisine is American, including appetizers like loaded fries, pizzas, burgers and more! The dining room is open from 11:00am til 10:00pm.

Allergy Dining Options

As Splitsville is not a Disney-owned restaurant, there is no dedicated Allergy-Friendly Menu. Likewise, there is a high chance of cross contamination. Proceed with caution!

Magical Extras

Everyone that books a Walt Disney World Vacation Package receives Magical Extras – free perks and discounts available as part of that package. Splitsville Luxury Lanes is part of this! Guests will receive 10% off non-discounted price of bowling for walk-in bowlers; 10% off food and non-alcoholic beverages for dine-in guests; and 10% off non-discounted merchandise!

Are you ready to book your Walt Disney World Vacation?! Contact me today!!

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Disney: Winter vs Summer

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Read Time:3 Minute, 28 Second

All the Information to Choose Disney: Winter vs Summer

I am always asked: when is the best time to go to Disney? The right answer is actually whenever you can! Whether or not you have fun is actually entirely up to you, not the weather or the crowds or any of that. But…when it comes to these two seasons, when is the best time to head to Disney: Winter vs Summer?

Disney: Winter vs Summer?
Looking for Lower Crowds? Consider August!

Travel in Winter – The Pros

Disney: Winter vs Summer?

First up, if there were such a thing as “perfect” weather in Central Florida, it’s the winter time. While it can get cold (by their standards, under 70 is considered cold), the weather is fairly moderate during winter months. It’s best to check the weather daily while packing.

Rumor has it that crowds are lower during the winter months, however, I am going to 100% disagree. More and more people are going during the winter months now than ever before. But there are some times where the parks are more of a ghost town in winter. And if you’re a Festival fan, the Epcot Festival of the Arts takes place during winter months!

Travel in Winter – The Cons

Disney: Winter vs Summer? RunDisney Marathon Weekend

YAY! The weather is nicer! Whoops…there’s more refurbishments. And they’re generally longer, too. The weather and lower crowds give the best combinations for construction crews to get a bunch of the big stuff done with minimal interruption.

Usually, both water parks are open in the summer, though that is not currently the case in post-Covid times. But in the winter months, there is always only one water park open. And it is not uncommon to see them close because of the temperature. If you love water parks, this is probably not the time for you to visit!

And finally, while people think crowds SHOULD be lower, they’re actually not. Holiday weekends, including MLK and President’s Day, plus Mardi Gras, bring MASSIVE crowds to Disney World. Then there’s Marathon Weekend. And, with the way school calendars are managed these days, some spring breaks run into late-February-mid-March! So while it would SEEM that crowds should be lower, in many ways, that is simply not the case!

Travel in Summer – The Pros

Disney: Winter vs Summer?

First of all, I am 100% Team Summer. I have a teenager, and going in summer means there is no school to miss. The other long breaks during the school year fall on holidays, which are generally the busiest times of the year!

Again, while not currently the case, in general, BOTH water parks are open during the summer months. This, of course, provides another great way to Beat the Heat! The heat also gives you a great reason to spend an entire day at your hotel’s pool!

The parks are open earlier and stay open later. My best travel tip in summer is to head out early, take a long break when it’s stupid hot, and go back late at night. It was MUCH better when the parks stayed open even later waaaaaaaay back when, but it can still be done! This gives you more hours in the day to get things done, despite the crowds. Also, PRO TIP: when it rains and everyone leaves? You should stay and take advantage of the low crowds!

Travel in Summer – The Cons

KEEP COOL!

Yes, it is hot. And the heat is only amplified by all of the concrete and asphalt you’re walking on to get around the parks. It is humid. You can swim through the air. And it WILL rain. Sometimes all day. Sometimes for five minutes, but it will happen.

Again, it is allegedly the most crowded time of the year. June and July are crowded, yes, but August is PRIME Disney World Time. We are lucky to have a later school start time, and we have taken advantage of this for years. So while everyone is going back to school, we are enjoying the low crowds of Disney World!

Truthfully, there is no bad time to visit, but I am Team Summer all the way! Contact me today to talk about YOUR Walt Disney World vacation!!

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Beat the Heat!

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Read Time:6 Minute, 55 Second

How to Beat the Heat and Enjoy your Walt Disney World Vacation in the Florida Summer!

People think we’re crazy, because we go to Walt Disney World in July and/or August every year. Yes, it feels like the surface of the sun, and I have sweat through my shirt within 37 seconds after walking outside, but it’s actually less crowded than almost any other time of year. It’s still crowded, yes, but not nearly as crowded as, say, October or May. So how do we beat the heat? Here are some of our tried and true “Disney in Summer” methods to help your family beat the heat!

1. Stay Hydrated

Beat the Heat

First and foremost, you MUST stay hydrated. It is incredibly hot and the sun and heat and pavement will wipe you out quickly. Remember that you will be walking on concrete and asphalt, so when the temperature is 96 degrees at 9am, the ground is MUCH hotter. But don’t waste your money on water in the parks. You could buy a whole case of water for the price of one bottle of water in the parks. And not only that, the “cheap” bottles of water are Dasani, and Dasani adds salt to their water, which then just dehydrates you. Yes, salt is necessary for the human body, but there was one vacation where I drank Dasani and came out of it incredibly thirsty and very swollen.

Beat the Heat

The solution? Pack your own water bottles. You can fill up at the quick service refill stations in your hotel, order bottled water for your room, and get water at all quick service locations for free. If the Florida water isn’t something you like, get a water bottle with a filter (like Brita) or pack some drink flavoring. There are also water bottle filling stations at each park. PRO TIP: Pack something to flavor your water with, like koolaid mix sticks. The water can be…funky.

2. Use Cooling Towels

Beat the Heat

Cooling towels are your friend! These little beauties will lower your body temp significantly, especially if you use them on your head. We have towels that you can wrap around your head like a scarf or a headband, which are not only comfortable, but fashionable. And let me tell you, when you’re dripping with sweat, being fashionable is completely important. There are several versions of these available to purchase, but I suggest a version that folds up easily. I like things to be light, compact, and easy to carry, so that your back isn’t broken by all the stuff you lug around. Also, you don’t want to be “that guy” in the bag check line.

3. Spend More Time in the Air Conditioning

Beat the Heat
Pirates of the Caribbean

The good news is that most of the rides at Walt Disney World are inside, so maybe standing in a long line every once in a while isn’t so bad! Make sure you’re going into air conditioned spaces as much as you can during the hottest parts of the day. Spend time shopping or grabbing a snack and a seat inside. Get in that Peter Pan line that is 90 minutes and play in the most awesomest line queue there is! ESPECIALLY if there’s a storm! This is a great dry and cool place to wait out a storm!

4. Get Up Early/Stay Out Late

Are you not a morning person? Believe me, I understand, but one of the absolute best ways to beat the heat is to get up really early and head to the parks. We like to get up early, get a ton done in the parks before it gets too hot, head to brunch, then head back to the hotel to rest and/or swim, before heading back out in the evening when it starts to cool down again.

PRO TIP: plan a longer trip in summer months so that you can take advantage or more down time and more time at your resort.

5. Add Park Hopper Plus or Water Parks and Sports

Beat the Heat

Adding Water Parks and Sports to your ticket gets you into the parks, ESPN Wide World of Sports, Golf and/or Mini-Golf, and the Walt Disney World Water Parks. If you want to park hop, you can purchase the Park Hopper Plus and gain access to the sports and Water Parks, in addition to park hopping privileges. This is a great value and an awesome way to beat the heat!

6. Eat a LOT of Frozen Treats!

There is nothing better on a scorching hot day than some ICE CREAM! And Disney has PLENTY to offer! Read about my top Ice Cream Spots!

7. Sunscreen/Moleskin/Body Glide/Extra Deodorant

Beat the Heat
YOUR BEST FRIENDS!!

DO NOT skip sunscreen. The last thing you want to do is spend thousands of dollars on a vacation to get scorched on day 1 and be miserable the rest of your trip. Use it often! Pack some moleskin. You will walk A LOT at WDW. People are surprised by how much walking there is. On our last trip, I think the lowest step count was about 20K in one day. Couple that with sweat and rain and wet socks, you might come away with blisters. Moleskin will help with that and protect your feet from infection AND pain. At the very least, make sure you have bandaids!

For those of us not blessed with a thigh gap, body glide is a life saver. BONUS PRO TIP: Gold Bond powder keeps lady bits and undercarriages of all types fresh and dry. Helps with the chafing and burning. Just trust me, you’re gonna want these things! I also pack a travel deodorant in my bag. I have smelled some stuff while in the parks in summer and let me tell you, it WILL NOT be me! BONUS BONUS PRO TIP: baby wipes or deodorant wipes to wipe the sweat off of you, makes you feel refreshed and clean.

8. Catch a Show

Whatever the reason, some people just feel the need to stay in the parks open to close. A great way to beat the heat on days like this is to spend the afternoon doing all the shows and indoor attractions. The shows are air conditioned and some of them offer a great place to grab a cat nap!

Florida Summers Bring Florida Rain….

9. Pre-Purchase Ponchos. In Bulk….

Yes, they sell ponchos in the parks. Yes, they have Mickey Mouse on them. Yes, you could easily reuse them. OR you can spend the same amount of money on a box of 20 or more ponchos you can easily throw away when the rain stops as you would on one Mickey Mouse poncho.

It’s summer in Central Florida. It’s going to rain. Most times, it will pass quickly, though there are those vacations when it just rains the entire week you’re there. Instead of carrying around a wet piece of plastic, throw it away and go about your business. Much easier, much nicer. You could also purchase a small, foldable umbrella or a raincoat to use instead of a poncho (I hate ponchos so much, so I get it).

10. Waterproofing

As I said, it will rain. It may be good to invest in a waterproof backpack. If you are like me, though, and you already have 20 backpacks dedicated to Disney trips (I’m probably embellishing a bit), just stick different size ziploc bags in your suitcase and stick them in your bag. This also comes in handy for electronics when you go on water rides. Some people also pack flip flops or sandals to wear in the rain, so their shoes don’t get trashed when the parks start filling up with water. PRO TIP: pack extra socks in your bag. As Lt Dan said, you want to keep your feet dry! Whether it be rain or sweat, sometimes just changing your socks midday can vastly improve your mood and the way your feet feel!

And those are the ten best ways that I beat the heat in August in Central Florida when the air is hot and thick. PS – The crowds in August are the LOWEST crowds of the year! Contact me today to book your summer vacation!!

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Non-Park Day Activities

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Read Time:9 Minute, 27 Second

Here are 10 Non-Park Day Activities you should work into your next Walt Disney World Vacation!

Walt Disney World is 27,000 acres or 40 square miles. This is the same size as San Francisco, or TWO Manhattan Islands, for perspective. In other words: Walt Disney World is BIG. There are TONS of things to see and do other than theme parks (of which there are four). How do you know what to do? You get a travel agent (aka ME) and talk about Non-Park Day Activities! Here are ten Non-Park Day Activities to think about for your next Walt Disney World Vacation!

Enjoy Your Resort

Non-Park Day Activities
Boardwalk Luna Park Pool

It’s easy to fall into the line of thinking that “I paid too much money to just sit in a hotel,” but when you go to Walt Disney World, half of your trip OR MORE is just paying for that hotel! ENJOY IT! Every single resort has at least one place to eat, and all resorts outside of the Value Category offer at least one Quick Service Restaurant and at least one Table Service Restaurant. It is not inconceivable to plan an entire day of activities JUST at your hotel.

Explore the pools! Yes, plural. There are multiple pools at each resort, and some of them are pretty awesome, with waterslides and even water playgrounds. You will also find an arcade in every resort, too. Need more? You can watch “Movies Under the Stars” on the lawns and, if you pick the right resort, catch the nightly fireworks at one of the parks WHILE you’re watching the movie! Check the lobby every day to get the list of daily activities offered at your hotel, and pricing, if necessary. And when in doubt, grab a nap! Remember, you’ll be walking 8-12 miles PER DAY. Your body, and your kids, will thank you!

Tour the Skyliner Resorts/Do the Skyliner Bar Crawl

Non-Park Day Activities

Yep: Bar Crawl. There are 4 hotels with Skyliner stops, so it has become “a thing” to Skyliner Resort-Hop. There are several ways to do this, even combining EPCOT and Hollywood Studios stops, with Art of Animation, Pop Century, Caribbean Beach, and the Riviera. You could simply look around the resorts, do the Bar Crawl, or, even more intriguing, do a DESSERT crawl!

Tour the Monorail Resorts/Do the Monorail Bar Crawl

Non-Park Day Activities
The Contemporary

The Monorail Resorts are absolutely iconic. Even if you’ve never been to Disney World, you’ve probably at least heard the names. The Contemporary, the Polynesian, and the Grand Floridian are the massive, and pricy, resorts that surround the Magic Kingdom and Seven Seas Lagoon. Even if you can’t afford to stay there, they’re worth a visit, especially at Christmas time! You could plan a bar crawl, stopping at such amazing Lounges as Steakhouse 71, Trader Sam’s, and Enchanted Rose. Maybe you like to eat? Well, from California Grille, to Kona Cafe, to Narcoossee’s, you will not be disappointed with food options at any of these resorts!

Looking for an out-of-the-box arrival day activity? Did you know that you can watch the Magic Kingdom fireworks from ALL of the Magic Kingdom area resorts? Whether you choose the observation deck at the Contemporary, or the beach at the Poly, or luck into an amazing dinner seat at Narcoosee’s, enjoy the fireworks without the massive crowds. You can also take in the Electric Water Pageant, too! And there’s plenty of shopping at these massive hotels. Plenty of Non-Park Day Activities for all!

Read more about the Bar Crawls of Walt Disney World!

Visit the Wilderness Lodge

Non-Park Day Activities
Wilderness Lodge at Christmas

I will not apologize for my unabashed devotion to the Wilderness Lodge. It is my absolute favorite and I’ve yet to find a place that I love as much as this. So NATURALLY I am going to advise you to take a visit to the Lodge! Themed after the Pacific Northwest, this place has all the charm of the US National Parks, including a Geyser that does shoot water into the air on the regular! The food options here are PLENTIFUL. Starting outside with Geyser Point, this “lounge” offers amazing food and drink options in a bar setting, though technically a quick service restaurant. It’s worth the trip just to eat the Bison Burger. If you’re looking for another great lounge, head inside for the Territory Lounge!

Non-Park Day Activities

Head inside for two amazing table service options! First, if you’re into all-you-care-to-enjoy food and a fun atmosphere, Whispering Canyon Cafe is the place for you! Looking for an upscale, unique character dining experience? Try Storybook Dining at Artist Point, where you will dine with Snow White, Grumpy, Dopey, and the Evil Queen!

Non-Park Day Activities
Wilderness Lodge

Take the time to enjoy the GORGEOUS lobby. And see if you can find some of the secret, private lounging areas. And no, I won’t just tell you because I enjoy my privacy! Now, I’m going to tell you ONE semi-secret location. If you head out to the Boulder Ridge DVC Villas, and walk into the main building, you will find the Carolwood Pacific Room. Not only is this an amazing place to chill out and relax, it also has some of Walt Disney’s Trains. You simply MUST see this room! To read more about the Wilderness Lodge, click here!

Visit Fort Wilderness

Non-Park Day Activities

No, Wilderness Lodge and Fort Wilderness are NOT the same place. Fort Wilderness is a campground with tent and RV sites, plus cabins. Wilderness Lodge is a fancy hotel themed to the Wilderness. Having said that, Fort Wilderness is a vacation in and of itself! This resort by far has the most to offer its guests!

Let’s start with dining. If you’re after a dining event, look no further than the Hoop Dee Doo Revue! Returning in June 2022, this is one of the oldest dinner shows in the country! It’s menu includes all-you-care-to-enjoy chicken and ribs and more delicious “cookout” foods, INCLUDING STRAW! BERRY! SHORT! CAKE! It’s fun for kids and kids at heart! You may, instead, want something slightly less high maintenance, so head next door to dine at Trail’s End! There is also a quick service location and a “take out” restaurant, as well as a general goods store that sells kitchen necessities for the kitchens located in the cabins, or for those that are camping. You can even grab a moonshine cocktail at Crockett’s Lounge!

For a more in-depth look at the activities at the Fort, I will do a more thorough review later, but for now, some activities available include: archery, horseback riding, pony rides, fishing, bike rentals, jogging trails, canoe and kayak rentals, basketball and volleyball courts, segway tours, and more! And you can even see the Magic Kingdom fireworks and the Electric Water Pageant!

Visit the Boardwalk Area

Non-Park Day Activities
Boardwalk Area

Let’s next head over to the Boardwalk area! This is another resort-area that has a lot to offer guests that are NOT necessarily staying at these resorts. Between the Boardwalk Bakery and the pretzel cart, the pizza window to the Margarita stand, there are plenty of awesome food and beverage options! Rent a Surrey Bike (also at a discount with your Magical Extras on your vacation package – talk to me, your travel agent, for more details!) and take the scenic view of the Boardwalk! Or maybe you want to see the Harmonious fireworks while having an ice cream treat from Beaches and Cream on the Beach at Beach and Yacht Club.

For adult fun, you can visit AbracadaBar or Jellyrolls. Stay tuned for more Boardwalk fun, too, as the Boardwalk gets a glow up!

Visit the Animal Kingdom Lodge

Non-Park Day Activities
Animal Kingdom Lodge Savannah

Yet ANOTHER amazing resort to visit on a non-park day: Animal Kingdom Lodge. In this instance, you can just sit in a rocking chair and watch giraffes walk by. Evidently, this is a rare thing? But that’s not all! Animal Kingdom lodge also offers some unique dining opportunities. When you visit the Lodge, plan to eat at either Jiko, Boma, or Sanaa. Here, you can enjoy African-inspired cuisine in a beautiful setting. Then, head out to watch the animals roam the savannah! You can also use night vision goggles to watch the animals at night!

Head to Disney Springs! Shopping, Eating, and MORE!

Non-Park Day Activities
Disney Springs

Disney Springs has a TON to offer, I just wish it wasn’t so far away. Here, you can eat an amazing meal at places like The Edison, the BOATHOUSE, Raglan Road, and more! The food options are vast and plentiful! My favorite? The BOATHOUSE! For those that don’t want an expensive sit-down meal, you could go to Chicken Guy, Polite Pig, D-Luxe Burger, and more!

If you’re looking for unique ways to see Disney Springs, consider a ride in an Amphicar or the Aerophile! In both instances, you can receive discounts, too! Also available, catch “Drawn to Life,” an all new Cirque du Soleil show.

Non-Park Day Activities

Additionally, you can get all (or most) of your shopping done in one convenient place! Visit the LEGO Store, World of Disney, Marketplace Co-Op, Uniqlo, Vera Bradley, and so much more, and feed your inner shop-a-holic!

If you’re looking to satisfy your sweet tooth, Disney Springs, again, has you covered! Grab a cupcake from the cupcake ATM at Sprinkles! Likewise, visitors with food allergies can visit Erin McKenna’s Bakery NYC for all their gluten-free, soy-free, dairy-free, vegan, kosher baked goods. You could also head to Everglazed for some delectable donuts, or Gideon’s Bakehouse for half-pound cookies! Need something cold? Head to Marketplace Snacks for Dole Whip Nachos! And back from hiatus, you can ALSO Create Your OWN Treat at Goofy’s Candy Company!

Disney Springs also has bowling! Head to Splittsville, where you can bowl and dine as a family. Also, this is one of the discounts available in your Magical Extras! To see more about Disney Springs, visit here!

Waterparks and Sports

In addition to more than 25 hotels and 4 theme parks, Walt Disney World also has 2 water parks. In order to access these, you will need a ticket, which is sold as a day pass, part of the water parks and sports ticket option, or park hopper plus ticket option. There are also 2 miniature golf courses, PGA-level golf courses, and Foot Golf!

Book Character Dining or Fine Dining

Sometimes, you don’t want to give up your time for a character meal while in the parks, so what better way to get a taste of the parks by visiting a character meal at one of the Disney Resorts? All the fun, none of the heat! We recently did this very activity on our non-park day at DisneyLAND, and it was wonderful. We never felt rushed and DEFINITELY ate our money’s worth! Or maybe you want to have one night where you get all dressed up and go out for a fancy dinner. This activity is also perfect for non-park days!

What do you plan for your Non-Park Day Activities? Let me know in the comments! Are you ready to book your next Walt Disney World Vacation? Contact me today for your free vacation quote!

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Disability Access Service

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Read Time:5 Minute, 59 Second

My Personal Experience with Using Disability Access Service, DAS, Pre-Registration at Walt Disney World and Disneyland

The Disability Access Service at Disney Parks, or the DAS Pass, is available for those guests that cannot wait in traditional line queues for extended periods of time. This does not include people with mobility issues, requiring a wheelchair or ECV. Many line queues are actually ADA Compliant. This is for the Guest with cognitive disabilities, like autism or ADHD. Or diseases like Crohn’s Disease, where a Guest has to have immediate access to a restroom.

Disability Access Service
Space Mountain – Disneyland

How to Qualify for DAS

In order to qualify, you will be required to explain why you, or your child, cannot PHYSICALLY tolerate long lines. For example, a child with autism or sensory issues may become triggered by crowds and the loud noises they come with. Or a child with ADHD may not be able to physically stand still, and could become aggressive when forced to do so. Whatever the reason, be prepared to explain it in as much detail as you feel comfortable with. Disney cannot and will not accept a Physician’s Note, so don’t waste time with that. Just kindly and clearly explain your needs. Approval and denial is entirely at cast member discretion.

What is the Difference Between DAS and Genie+? Do I Need Both?

Disability Access Service - Genie+

DAS is a free service only available to those guests with cognitive disabilities, like autism, or disabilities that keep them from waiting in traditional lines, like a person with Crohn’s disease who could need a bathroom with little to no notice. Genie+ is a paid service that anyone can use to skip waiting in line. That’s the first difference! The second difference is how/when you obtain the return times.

Genie+ – Walt Disney World

In order to obtain a return time, or Lightning Lane, for Genie+, you need to first BUY it. Then, you need to get onto the My Disney Experience App at 7:00 am every day and start booking your Lightning Lane return times. (This is for guests that are staying on-site at a Walt Disney World Resort). Next, this is only for those attractions that have the Lightning Lane included in Genie+. If it is an Individual, i.e. paid, Lightning Lane, that is a different process. If the attraction doesn’t have Lightning Lane but there is a line, you just wait.

Genie+ – Disneyland Resort

Now, on the West Coast, you can only buy Individual Lightning Lanes or book Lightning Lane return times once you tap in to the park. PERSONAL OPINION: Genie+ is MUCH better on the West Coast. Don’t shoot the messenger!

do i need both?
Individual Lightning Lane (purchase) - Rise of the Resistance

The answer to this one is complicated. So, if the person that the DAS is registered to is NOT riding, and you want to ride, you will need Genie+. So if your 4 year old with autism has the DAS, and you want to ride Incredicoaster, you will either need to wait in line or get Genie+. If the person that the DAS is registered to is fully intending to ride every single ride, you can double up with Genie+.

But if the wait times and crowds are low? You might not need it. It will all depend on how much you want to do and how quickly you want to ride. We use the waits, sometimes, to sit down and rest, use the bathroom, or get snacks and drinks. It will all be a matter of preference!

DAS Pass – Pre-Register

Before you use it, you must register for DAS and get approved. You can do this in two ways. First, you can pre-register by taking part in a video chat here for Disneyland and here for Walt Disney World. With pre-registering, you can get your pass between 2-30 days before your first PARK PASS RESERVATION (not the first day of your stay, unless that is also your first Park Pass). Once approved, you may also reserve up to two one-hour return times per day with the Cast Member on the video chat. The Attractions eligible for pre-registration are LAND and WORLD.

das pass – on-site register

You may also choose to wait until you arrive, and obtain your DAS Pass on-site. To do so, you will need to visit Guest Relations (Disneyland – City Hall, Chamber of Commerce, or any Guest Information Location. Walt Disney World – City Hall at Magic Kingdom or Guest Relations at any park). Once there, the person that needs the DAS will need to be present, you will explain why you need the pass. If approved, the Cast Member will take your (or your child’s) photo and link your party to that DAS Pass. Make sure everyone who will be in your group is all linked together. Then you can obtain your initial return time. You cannot pre-register for more than 1 attraction at that time unless you do so in advance via video chat.

Disability Access Service - cognitive disabilities autism adhd sensory processing
DAS Return Time in Plans
DAS Return Time in Plans
das-personal experience

I have had the opportunity to visit both parks since DAS became available for pre-registry, so let’s talk about it. I have sat on hold for the video chat for over 6 hours 3 times and have yet to get an actual person. This isn’t great for people with autism or anxiety who cannot wait. The person seeking the pass needs to be on the call to have their picture taken, too. This means that I cannot just handle it on my own. In both instances, though, we were able to obtain the DAS pass in the parks in under 5 minutes, and that includes the technical difficulties we temporarily experienced at Disneyland, and our first return time.

I don’t know that we will ever go through with the pre-registry, simply because it is so simple to just do it in the parks, and we have become big fans of waiting until we’re there to start choosing our attractions. I’ve heard tales that if you do want to pre-register, early Sunday morning has been the most successful.

They have added the option to obtain Return Times for Disability Access Service on the My Disney Experience App, rather than running all over the park at each attraction. This was a GAME CHANGER. As soon as you tap into your return time, you can obtain the next one. It is exactly like Genie+ except that you cannot stack return times. Like I said previously, if the wait times are low, you will not likely need both. We were able to do everything at Disneyland and California Adventure, including Radiator Springs (twice), Rise of the Resistance, Web Slingers (twice), Guardians (three times), and more!

And There You Have It!

The Disability Access Service process is incredibly simple. Children with autism, sensory processing disorder, and more deserve to have stress-free vacations, too! I really appreciate the opportunity to make things easier for families. I can’t wait to get back to Walt Disney World and use the updated service, just to see how the two locations compare! Are you ready to book your Disney Parks vacation? Contact me today!

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Enchanting Extras – Extra Magic

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Read Time:11 Minute, 36 Second

Looking for some Extra Magic on your next trip? Consider adding Enchanting Extras!

Enchanting Extras - Animal Kingdom Tours

One of the most popular questions that I get asked every time I say we’re going to Disney World (yes, AGAIN) is “don’t you get bored doing the same thing every time?” Actually, we aim to do at least one new thing every single trip, be it a restaurant we’ve never dined at before, or a show, or a resort hotel, or one of the many Enchanting Extras offered by Disney! These options add an extra dose of magic to your trip! Which Extra intrigues you the most?!

Enchanting Extras – Tours

  • Disney Private VIP Tours – Create your Disney dream day! This is the ULTIMATE way to explore the parks with your own private VIP Tour Guide. You will be getting a fully customizable experience. And it will be filled with attractive benefits, including access to the Lightning Lane for attractions offering it. Plus, you can request reserved viewing for parades, shows and fireworks. For more details, visit this story!
    • Prices start at $425/hour with a 7-hour minimum for up to 10 people.  Ask me for more information.
Enchanting Extras - Cinderella Castle
Cinderella Castle
  • Disney’s Keys to the Kingdom Tour – 16+ – Ready to take the Magic Kingdom to the MAX?  Unlock the fascinating history of Magic Kingdom Park and gain backstage access to legendary hidden areas. This 5-hour walking tour explores the creation and remarkable growth of one of the most beloved parks at Walt Disney World Resort! With this tour, you get a sneak peek at secret locations you’ve always wondered about and get the inside scoop on some of your favorite attractions, AND lunch. And walk through the Utilidors! I am so excited that we can FINALLY do this tour! I have been dying to do this for ages!
    • For this tour, guests must be 16 years of age or older, with valid photo ID, and prices start at $114 per person and can be booked on your My Disney Experience 60 days prior to travel.

Fireworks Enhancements!!

There are many ways to see fireworks without crowding into the massive crowds hours before the shows start. These Enchanting Extras are some of our favorites! We did the EPCOT Fireworks cruise in 2001 and it was fun, even in the downpour! Dessert parties are always a great time!

OUTSIDE OF THE THEME PARKS

Enchanting Extras - Fireworks Cruise

Fireworks Cruises – Drop anchor for world-class fireworks during an ever-enchanting nighttime cruise! By taking one of these nighttime cruises, you’ll have the perfect opportunity to watch Disney Enchantment or Harmonious right from the water. These brilliant fireworks spectaculars add an amazing wow factor to your cruise!

From the comfort of a chartered boat, your party will set sail for International Gateway near World Showcase Lagoon to watch the skies light up over Epcot. Or embark on the waters of Seven Seas Lagoon and Bay Lake cruises to Magic Kingdom Park—with synchronized audio onboard to fully immerse you in the moment. It’s an incredible finale to the festivities!
-Prices vary on type of cruise and location. Fireworks Cruises can be booked by calling 407-WDW-PLAY up to 60 days out from your check in.

THEME PARK ADMISSION AND RESERVATION REQUIRED

  • Dessert Parties –Put a cherry on top of your magical day with a sensational dessert party to toast the 50th anniversary of Walt Disney World Resort.
    • Magic Kingdom 50th Fireworks Dessert Parties:
      • Disney Enchantment Pre-Party – $99 per 10 and up $59 per child 3-9. Enjoy dessert first and reserved viewing in the garden (standing) after eating.
      • Magic Kingdom 50th Fireworks Dessert Parties: Disney Enchantment Treats & Seats – $114 per 10 and up $69 per child 3-9.  Enjoy dessert and the fireworks from a reserved table so you can remain seated comfortably during the show.
      • Magic Kingdom 50th Fireworks Dessert Parties: Disney Enchantment After-Party – $99 per 10 and up $99 per child 3-9. Enjoy reserved viewing in the garden (standing) first, followed by dessert buffet nearby after fireworks.
    • EPCOT Fireworks Dining Packages- Enjoy the amazing Harmonious Fireworks spectacular while dining on a delicious patio dinner.
      • Rose and Crown UK
      • Spice Road Table Morocco

These can be booked on the My Disney Experience website 60 days prior to travel on the My Disney Experience website

Animals

These Enchanting Extras can get you up close and personal with animals, or provide a unique experience that you will never forget! Please heed the age warnings!

  • Caring for Giants – 4+ – Get a closer look at the majestic African elephants at Disney’s Animal Kingdom theme park—and learn what it takes to care for them. During this 60-minute experience, you’ll meet with a knowledgeable Guide who will provide insight into the inner workings of our African elephant herd.
    • $35 per person pretax ages 4+ and can be booked on the My Disney Experience website at 60 days prior to travel.
  • Up close with Rhinos – 4+ – Meet these mighty—but gentle—giants in a special viewing area for a wildlife experience like no other! Get ready for your close-up with the white rhinoceros—Earth’s second-largest land animal. In this 60-minute guided adventure, the rhinos’ keepers will take you backstage to meet these massive creatures as few people ever do.
    • $45 per person pretax ages 4+. Can be booked on the My Disney Experience website 60 days prior to travel.

Hike the “Jungle”

  • Wild Africa Trek – 8 + and at least 48 inches (122 cm) tall. Participants must be between 45 and 300 lbs. with the harness gear on.  Embark on a privately guided, VIP expedition full of close encounters with exotic African wildlife! An Exhilarating Safari Adventure Be awestruck viewing wild animals in their natural habitat on the 3-hour Wild Africa Trek. On this privately guided tour, discover animals of nearly every variety living in the Safi River Valley—an untamed environment that resembles their home turf in Africa.
    • This excursion is $199 per person, and participants must be 8 years of age or older and at least 48 inches tall. In addition, because of safety, participants must be between 45 and 300 lbs. with the harness gear on. The safety harnesses used for this experience may prohibit Guests of certain body shapes or sizes from participating. This experience can be booked on the My Disney Experience website 60 days prior to travel.

Animals and Food – Two of My Favorite Things!

  • Savor the Savanah –8+ -See the Savanna in a new light. Immerse your senses during a privately guided journey and explore the sights and sounds—and tastes—of Africa. Enjoy Savor the Savanna, the premium tour where you can discover the wonders of the continent’s most amazing creatures… and so much more!
    • $174 per person pretax for ages 8+ and this extra can be booked on the My Disney Experience website at 60 days prior to travel.

Sports

Enchanting Extras - Golf
Go Golfing with Goofy? GAWRSH!

Not every one of the Enchanting Extras are for the theme parks! Sometimes it’s fun to hang out OUTSIDE of the theme parks! Walt Disney World is a massive place and literally has something for everyone. Click for more information on Guys’ Trip Activities or Cheap or Free Things to Do Outside of Parks or Walt Disney World with No Theme Parks.

  • Golf – Play 9 or 18 holes on any of Disney’s four different golf Courses.
    • Foot Golf
    • Miniature Golf
  • Fishing – Reel in the fun with guided excursions and dockside fishing on select waterways of Walt Disney World Resort. Guided catch-and-release outings let you experience bass fishing at its finest—all year round! Whether you’re a seasoned sportsman or an amateur angler, a guided fishing excursion is fun for Guests of all ages. Choose from Guided Bass Fishing Excursions, which includes a 21-foot Sun Tracker pontoon boat that can accommodate up to 5 Guests, and a tournament-style NITRO® bass fishing boat for up to 3 Guests. All by yourself? You’re in luck, because solo anglers may book an afternoon excursion at a reduced rate.
    • Prices vary Call (407) 939-FISH or (407) 939-3474 to make a reservation and get more information on pricing.

Explore Fort Wilderness

  • Horseback Riding – Go horseback riding on the scenic, wooded trails at The Cabins and Campsites of Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort. Guests 9 years of age and up can ride through an idyllic woodland teeming with deer, ducks, armadillos, and rabbits. Perfect for beginner and intermediate riders, trail rides are a relaxing way to explore the natural beauty surrounding The Cabins and Campsites of Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort.
    • $55 per person pretax and can be booked by calling 407-WDW-PLAY 60 days prior to check in date.
  • Archery – Archery Guides teach Guests 7 years of age and up how to use a compound bow; then it’s time for target practice! Most of this 75-minute experience is dedicated to firing at range targets. Since class sizes are limited to 10 guests, each marksman receives personalized advice from the Archery Guides to best help you hone your archery skills.
    • $45 per person pretax and can be booked by calling 407-WDW-PLAY 60 days prior to check in date.
  • Tri-Circle-D Ranch – FREE! There are activities that have a cost, but anyone can explore the Ranch for FREE!!

Enchanting Extras – Relaxation

  • Spa Experiences – Renew your mind, body and spirit at a full-service spa, salon and health club reminiscent of a serene Florida garden. Step through the Victorian-style entryway and escape to a timeless haven of relaxation. Here, you can break away from the everyday and truly unwind amid soothing music, calm lighting, and pampering experiences. The Grand Floridian Spa offers an array of revitalizing therapies and services—body treatments, massages, manicures and other indulgences—designed to elevate the mind and help you look and feel your best.
    • You can book this right on the My Disney Experience website 60 days prior to check in
  • Pool Cabanas – Relax in luxury and style, enjoying the day your way. You can lounge in the sun or retreat to your furnished, shaded oasis—complete with personal electronics and refreshments. As a result, Disney’s signature attention-to-detail sets the standard for the ultimate in poolside pampering. So, treat yourself, friends and family to this unforgettable vacation experience.
    • Cabanas are available for full day rentals.
    • Cabanas at Disney’s Contemporary Resort and Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa—as well as those shared by Disney’s Beach Club Resort and Disney’s Yacht Club Resort—are available to Guests of those Resorts only.
    • Pricing varies, and these cabanas can be booked at 60 days prior to check in by calling 407-WDW-PLAY

Other Popular Enchanting Extras

RETURNING AUGUST 25, 2022 – Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique!!!

Enchanting Extras - BBB 
Photo: Disney

The BEST news just came down, and the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique will soon be back to help dreams come true for all young princesses and princes! Fairy Godmother’s Apprentices will transform guests ages 3 to 12 into some of their favorite Disney characters with hairstyling, makeup, costumes and accessories. This reopening will usher in even more options to choose from, including a new hair accessory especially designed for textured hair and new costumes featuring some of Disney’s newest heroes and heroines coming later this year!

Enchanting Extras - Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique
Photo Disney

Star Wars Activities

  • Star Wars Savi’s Workshop – Handbuilt Lightsabers- Travel to Black Spire Outpost, where a group known as the “Gatherers” ushers you into a covert workshop packed with unusual parts, whimsical pieces and miscellaneous memorabilia collected from the far reaches of the galaxy.  Under their guidance, you can construct your very own lightsaber and bring it to life through the power of kyber crystals. Reservation is for builder and ONE guest.
  • Star Wars – Droid Depot – -Build your own droid at Black Spire Outpost’s industrial depot. Visit a workshop stocked with parts, chips, manuals and other tech items useful for constructing your very own droid, one of the galaxy’s most indispensable sidekicks. First, register your choice of the BB-series unit or R-series unit with the clerk, who’ll provide a basket and blueprint for parts. Next, proceed to the following stations and begin your droid-building experience. Reservation is for builder and ONE guest.

To experience both the Droids and Lightsabers, make advanced reservations 60 days ahead. May the Force Be With You!

Capture Your Moment with a Private Photo Shoot

  • Capture your moment – Commemorate your celebration with a photo session in any of the 4 parks setting. You can reserve a personalized 20-minute photo session that captures the fun and excitement of your special day—and your own unique style!
    • These sessions start at $79 for 20 minutes. This is a great way to get those Senior Pictures, Engagement Announcements, and MORE!

Nighttime Entertainment at Disney Springs

  • Drawn to Life presented by Cirque du Soleil & Disney – A Creative Tour-de-Force set your imagination in motion with Drawn to Life—a love letter to the art of Disney animation. In this first-ever collaboration between Cirque du Soleil, Walt Disney Animation Studios and Walt Disney Imagineering, journey into a world where an animator’s desk becomes the stage and drawings come alive. The show is a celebration of life, accentuated by the delightful, mesmerizing movements of Cirque du Soleil’s acrobatic mastery.
    • Tickets are on sale now for 2022.

This is just a sampling of the Enchanting Extras that you can do at Walt Disney World. Other activities have yet to return, like the Pirates Cruise. And there are plenty of Enchanting Extras that don’t cost a thing! It really is the Most Magical Place on Earth! Contact me today to book your trip!

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Saving Money at Disney

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Read Time:10 Minute, 12 Second

All My Favorite Tips for Saving Money at Disney!

Yes, a Disney vacation is expensive. And getting more and more expensive by the day. A lot of people think that taking a family vacation to Walt Disney World is only for the 1%, but that is simply not true! There are plenty of ways families are saving money at Disney. It is very possible to make Disney vacations happen for ALL incomes!! Here are some of my tried and true money-saving tips!

Saving Money at Disney - 2022
Saving Money at Disney - 2023

1. Travel in the off-season to save time and money

In 2018, Disney changed the way they priced their tickets. They eliminated the tickets that never expire, and began forcing you to choose the days you will visit the parks. They then began pricing tickets based on historical crowd data. This means that it is more expensive for you to attend the parks on, say, December 31 vs. January 1. Post-Covid has brought the advent of the Park Reservation system, too. The reason they did this was to attempt to more evenly distribute crowds throughout the year. Now, you may be thinking, “if they evenly distribute crowds, there IS no off-season.” And you would almost be right. The Disney parks are much busier every day now than they have ever been before. But there are, in fact, times that crowds are a bit more manageable than other times of the year.

Yes, it’s hot, but consider summer

To the surprise of many, the SUMMER is actually the most wide-open time to get to Walt Disney World. The crowds are actually much lighter than almost every other time of year, especially July (after the fourth) and August, which has become the lightest month of the year. This is a combination of the temperature being the surface of the sun, and kids in certain parts of the country actually starting school the first week of August. If you are able, August and September are the best crowd times to visit. CROWD, not weather. It is incredibly hot and you do take the chance that a hurricane or tropical storm will roll through. If you can handle the hot weather, you’re already on your way to saving money at Disney!

What about when the weather is not 300 kelvin?

January will give you the dream combo of cooler weather AND lower crowds, but try to avoid the holiday and marathon weekend. Mid-February-April is actually one of the busiest times to visit, because of both spring breaks and competitions, like Dance and Cheer. May is fairly open, plus you will have Flower and Garden available, but it will get busier near the end of the month, when school ends around the country, which leads into June, probably the busiest “summer” month.

Shouldn’t the fall be lighter, with kids being in school?
Saving Money at Disney
Sunrise over Tomorrowland

Now for fall. October is my FAVORITE time to visit, but I’m not alone. October is quite busy, especially on weekends. This is due to a combination of Food and Wine, Fall Breaks, and Halloween. Pack patience and sweatshirts! Early November is also an amazing time to visit. Crowds are low, weather is cooling, and Christmas decorations are up. Then Thanksgiving hits and things get nuts. If you want to spend Thanksgiving in Walt Disney World, plan as early as you can. Early December is a lot like early November, but the holidays are bonkers, the busiest time of the year. This is also one of the more expensive times of the year, so if you’re into saving money at Disney, maybe you want to avoid October-January 1!

In order to get the most bang for your buck, visit at a time when crowds are low. You will not wait in as many long lines and the weather will be great.

2. Book as far out as possible – Layaway for Vacations!

This is honestly the best way to be able to pay for your vacation. I can book your hotel room 500 days out. When you book a package, which currently includes room and tickets and is only available through October, 2023, right now, the deposit is $200, with the balance being due 30 days before your trip. Or you can book your room-only by paying the equivalent of one night as a down-payment, with your final balance due at check-in. Then you are free to pay any amount any time up until your due date. It’s like layaway for vacations.

3. Use Disney Gift Cards for all things from your hotel room to the kids’ souvenirs!

Saving Money at Disney with Gift Cards
GIFT CARDS!!!!
Gift cards for the kids

You know your kids are going to see mountains of stuffed animals and giant walls full of toys and things that glow in the dark and bubble toys and all kinds of crap. So what do you do? One thing I have always done is to tell friends and family to get my daughter Disney gift cards for all holidays and birthdays. That way, she will have her own money to spend. Kids can learn how to get the most bang for their buck and when their money is gone, it’s gone. Period. Look at that, it’s also a learning moment!

You can also use gift cards to pay for your trip

You can also use gift cards to pay for your trip, so if you are a discount junkie, you already know there are ways to get Disney gift cards at a discount, like Sam’s Club or Target RedCard and more. Get those gas points and that vacation money will save you money at the pump! Currently, there is no Disney Dining Plan for sale, so a good thing to do would be to take that money you would have spent on the dining plan and buy gift cards, that you then turn around and use on your food in the parks. Not having the dining plan is a bit inconvenient, yes, but if you know you would have spent that money anyway, just use it for gift cards!

Did you know that you can also PAY FOR YOUR HOTEL with a gift card? What about your Disney Cruise? Check out all the ways you can use Disney gift cards here!

4. Do Character BREAKFASTS, not dinners

Saving Money at Disney - Character Breakfast
Topolino’s Terrace

Sticking with the food theme, if you are someone that likes to do character meals (which you should if you like to see characters, as it will free up extra park time you won’t have to spend in character lines), consider planning breakfasts as opposed to lunches and dinners. Many times, these meals are as much as half the price of the lunches and dinners, and you get the exact same character interactions. For example, breakfast at Chef Mickey’s will currently run you $42 (adult)/$27 (kids), but dinner is $55/$36. It’s not a massive discount, no, but it can add up over 4-5 days.

5. Grocery delivery

Again, speaking of food, a great way to save money is to order groceries for your hotel room and eat less in the parks. It is entirely possible to survive in the parks on, say, $40 for food per person, per day, especially if you have food in your room. Depending on what kind of hotel room you have (villas have full kitchens, family suites have kitchenettes, etc), you can go from whole, prepared meals, to quick breakfasts of pop tarts and pastries and fruit and cereal, to lunchmeat for sandwiches for lunch, freeing you up to plan maybe one big sit down meal per day, or only one quick service meal per day, and one or two snacks. The point is you don’t HAVE to eat every single meal at a restaurant in Walt Disney World. Read more about grocery delivery here.

6. Share meals

It is entirely possible for two people to eat one “meal” at Disney World. By meal, I am specifically talking about an appetizer, entree, dessert at a table service restaurant.

Saving Money at Disney

So I’m going to use one of MY family’s favorite restaurants as an example: Mama Melrose in Hollywood Studios. It is an Italian restaurant, and it is superb, BUT, the portions are enormous. For two people, you could split the delicious Caesar salad for your appetizer ($11), Margherita flatbread ($15), and cannoli ($7). Add $20 for drinks, give or take, and you’re looking at a bill for two people for dinner $53, as opposed to almost $100. And that’s just two people, that isn’t even your kids!

Saving Money at Disney
Mama Melrose’s Most AMAZING Caesar Salad
Saving Money at Disney
Mama Melrose Flatbread
Saving Money at Disney
Mama Melrose Cannoli

6. Get the refillable popcorn bucket

Hear me out, because I know it seems insane to spend $20 on a popcorn bucket. BUT let’s say there are 5 of you and you’re there for 6 days. Day 1 you get the $20 Steamboat Willie popcorn bucket that you snack on for the rest of the day. That’s $4 per person for a snack. Day 2, you take Willie and you and your family head to EPCOT.

The kids start whining about being hungry, so you take your bucket to the popcorn stand in Canada and fill it up. Refills are $2, no matter WHAT bucket you buy. So now, on day 2, your snack budget is $.40 per person. Day 3, another refill. So, essentially, over 6 days, you have spent $30 TOTAL on snacks. For 6 people. Comparatively, ONE Dole Whip starts at $5, which, for your family of 5, is $25 for just one day. Do that every day, that is $150. I’d say that’s one heckuva deal!

7. Bring your own stroller

A stroller rental can START at $30 per day. You likely already have a stroller at your house, so bring it. But be aware, strollers must fit the rules (31″ wide by 52″ long). But again, it may still be cheaper for you to buy and bring your own stroller than to rent, even if you just bring an umbrella stroller to throw away or regift upon leaving.

8. Bring your own reuseable water bottles

The biggest waste of money in Disney Parks is to buy bottled water. For starters, they start around $3.50-$4 per bottle. You could get a whole case of bottled water for that price. Secondly, you can get cups of water for free at all quick service restaurants. So why on earth would you waste money on a bottle of water?

You could get filtered bottles (HIGHLY recommend, the Florida water does a number on my tummy) and/or bring flavoring (we like the koolaid liquid drops). Read more about water bottles and other ways to beat the Florida summer heat here.

9. Spend 1-2 days per trip outside of the parks

There is SO MUCH to do at Walt Disney World outside of going to the parks. Book a couple extra days on your trip that you don’t buy park tickets and spend the time relaxing at the pool, or exploring your resort, or resort hopping. There are even discounted and free activities included in the Magical Extras when you buy a vacation package, including FREE miniature golf! How’s that for saving money at Disney?!

Saving Money at Disney
Boardwalk Pool
Walt Disney Memorabilia – Carolwood Pacific Room at Boulder Ridge Villas
Miniature Golf – Included in Magical Extras with Vacation Package

10. Bring souvenirs with you instead of buying them

Sound crazy? Maybe, but your kids might whine less about you buying them stuff if you magically pull out a Mickey plush you spent $5 on at Walmart in the morning, instead of dropping $30 for one at the Emporium. Or you bring glow sticks and bubble wands that you got at Family Dollar and break them out of your backpack when all the nighttime vendor carts start making their appearance on Main St USA. And DEFINITELY bring your own ponchos, because a $15 piece of plastic with Mickey Mouse on it is really not worth it.

Do you have any other tips that lead to saving money at Disney? Let’s hear them in the comments!

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