Travel

5 New Attractions I can’t wait to experience coming to Disney!

Guardians of the Galaxy – This will be a gigantic enclosed roller coaster based on the hugely popular (and one of our favorite movies) “Guardians of the Galaxy”. The coaster will be located in Epcot’s Future World and is slated to open in 2021.

Disney’s Skyliner – Walt Disney World is in the process of constructing a much needed new transportation option called Disney Skyliner, a gondola style lift system. It will be a new way to connect several resorts right to Epcot and Disney’s Hollywood Studios . This is rumored to be opened the fall of 2019, just before Star Wars, Galaxy’s Edge will open in Hollywood Studios.

Ratatouille – The Adventure in Epcot at the Frace Pavilion: This was such a cute movie and will be a great addition to the France Pavilion. I’m always excited when Disney upgrades and adds new rides to the World Showcase Pavilion, it’s one of my favorite places to visit at WDW. Apparently this will be a 4-D adventure that is similar to one already located at Disneyland in Paris. This ride is scheduled to open in 2021.

Star Wars, Galaxy’s Edge at Disney’s Holiday Studios: opening fall of 2019. We are particularly excited about this addition as my family are all huge Star Wars fans, so it goes without saying that we can’t wait for this one! Black Spire Outpost is the name of Disney’s newest and largest completely immersive land. Guests will be able to board the Millennium Falcon as well as other life sized Star Wars attractions from the movies. Of course there will be the favorite Star War’s characters on site to meet and greet. This will be a hugely popular new addition to Disney’s Hollywood Studios and will be extremely crowded upon opening. Make sure to plan for this while deciding when to visit.

Mickie and Minnie’s Runaway Railway – To be honest, I was very disappointed about the loss of “The Great Movie Ride”. That has always been one of our “must do” attractions at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. However, I’m very pleased that a new Mickey and Minnie themed ride will be taking its place and I’m sure it’s going to be incredible. This ride will be based on a Mickey and Minnie cartoon short film that will take riders on a wacky railroad adventure. This attraction will be open the fall of 2019.  Visit disneyworld.disney.go.com for more information.

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Travel

DISNEY Vacation Tips when Staying Offsite

Yes, it’s true. You can thoroughly enjoy Disney World while staying offsite. I know because I’ve done it several times… but I also know that the die hard Disney fans will have a hard time with this post, I get it but let’s just try to have an open mind…

First things first, Disney has phenomenal accommodations. I love the extensive variety of themed resorts that are on the Disney property. They are comfortable, cleverly planned out and provide guests with convenience to the parks and other Disney attractions. Over the years we have stayed both on site and off site numerous times. There have even been a couple of vacations that we stayed on site for a couple of nights and then a week off property while still enjoying the Disney parks. We actually had our cake and ate it too!?!

A note on transportation: We usually drive to Orlando. We live in Virginia so it is easy for us to hop on I95 and head south. Once in Orlando we have our car to be able to travel back and forth from the parks. We also buy groceries as soon as we get checked in to our resort, there is a very convenient grocery store just around the corner from where we stay to make it a relatively quick process. You will have to pay for parking once a day at Disney, but if you are staying off site chances are that you will be spending less for your accommodations and still be coming out financially ahead. Disney is now charging guests that are staying on site for parking at the resorts, so either way you WILL pay for parking if you drive. If you are unable to drive a car, you will need to factor in the cost of a rental car. Many off site resorts provide their own transportation but I don’t recommend them, they are typically not an efficient way to spend your time.

The reason we started staying off site is that my parents bought into a time share program which included the Marriott resorts. They offer discounted “Friends and Family” rates for time share owners, so we can really save money and get a much larger room. The time shares are typically one or two bedroom villas with full kitchens and living areas. Now, I know what you’re thinking…. “I don’t have a timeshare – nor do I want one”… I understand completely, but even if you paid the regular nightly prices offsite, most off site resorts would be considerably less than the Disney Resorts.

The most important thing to remember when staying offsite is to factor in the time it takes to get on and off the property. We usually stay at one of the Marriott Vacation Club resorts that are not very far outside of the Disney property. While, we have to make sure we plan out our travel time if we have a dining reservation or need to be back in the park for a show or use our fast passes, we have never had a problem.

The key to any Disney vacation whether on or off site is planning!!

FASTPASS and DINING: For those staying offsite, you can still reserve fast passes but you will have to wait until 30 days prior to your trip. You will also want to make your Disney dining reservations for your favorite places to eat just like you would if you were on site, just don’t forget to factor in your drive time.

EAT BREAKFAST AT RESORT: Unless you have a Disney dining reservation for breakfast, just eat at your resort. It will save you so much money. We have a kitchen where we stay but many resorts will also offer a free continental breakfast – take advantage of that. If you don’t have a kitchen or continental breakfast, I suggest buying simple breakfast pastries and items you can eat in your room before heading out for the day.

ARRIVE EARLY: This is seriously one of the most important things to do especially when staying offsite. You can get so much more rides done at the parks if you arrive just before opening and are one of the first ones in the park. Don’t forget at Magic Kingdom it will take you longer to park your car and get to the entrance than at the other parks.

TAKE BREAKS: We usually leave the park sometime between 11:00 and 2:00 pm. This is when the parks are usually at their peak with the crowds and it’s really hot if you’re there in the non winter months. Getting out of the Disney crowds for a few hours during the hottest part of the day is extremely refreshing! Once back at our resort we will make a nice lunch and eat it by the pool, enjoying the resort. Once we’ve eaten and had some time to relax by the pool we are rejuvenated and super excited to head back to the parks for the evening.

EAT DINNER (or at least one meal) IN THE PARKS or DISNEY RESORTS: Because we eat breakfast and lunch at our resort, we always eat dinner at the park. Sometimes we will have a breakfast reservation so we will just adjust our schedule a bit to try and only pay for one meal a day. It is really fun to plan where we will eat each evening for dinner and the food digests so much easier knowing we’ve saved money by not eating the other two meals in the park!!!

ENJOY THE DISNEY RESORTS: We love exploring the resorts!! Don’t be afraid to take the monorail and get off at some of the stops. I like to make dining reservations at the Disney resort restaurants because they are a little less hectic and can be a fun change of pace while still on site. If nothing else, grab a cup of coffee or snack and enjoy a stroll around some really amazing and gorgeous resorts. Many of them are easy to access via the Disney transportation. And, Yes, you can use Disney transportation even if not staying on site.

Bottom line is that if you are trying to save some money and want to go to Disney but need to stay offsite, you will still have a blast! You may even enjoy it more than you think. Do a little homework and make sure you’re not too far away from the magic, do your planning ahead of time for your vacation like you should do anyway and please don’t be afraid of the non Disney properties!!!!

 

family, Travel, Walt Disney World

Disney Tips for Those with Limited Mobility

A few months ago our family took a trip to Walt Disney World. If you know me, this is nothing new. We love Disney and typically go every year, once in a while we are lucky enough to visit twice in one year. This past trip, however, was much different from many of our former vacations. This time we were traveling with a family member with disabilities requiring a wheelchair. We had five people in our group, I was nervous, to say the least. Would we manage to keep up the fast pace we are so used to, getting the most out of every second of the day? What would it be like moving through the crowds at each park? Let me just tell you, this was our best trip yet! Disney did not disappoint. Their attention to detail in providing excellent costumer service exceeded my already high expectations. We made some beautiful family memories that we will always treasure as well as some much needed quality time together. I can’t wait to do it again. Here is what we learned from our experience… Tip #1 Take your own wheelchair or scooter… We traveled to Florida by car, so we were able to take our own wheelchair with us, saving money and a lot of time waiting in line to rent one each morning in the park. Having our own wheelchair was very convenient, but many people don’t. If you are unable to travel with your own wheelchair but don’t want to wait in the long lines at the park to rent one, try checking local mobility rental companies to see how much it would cost to rent one for the week. It may be worth it, I’m not sure you save money but you will certainly save precious time that could be spent in the park and not waiting in rental lines each day. Cost to rent at Disney: Wheelchair Rental – $12.00 per day or $10.00 for a multiple day rental ECV (Electric Conveyance Vehicle) – $50.00 per day Tip #2 Use a wheelchair NOT scooter… If you’re trying to decide between a wheelchair or a scooter (ECV electric conveyance vehicle) I suggest wheelchair. I know what you’re thinking…someone has to push it all day. Yes, that is correct. Obviously you will only be able to use a wheelchair if you are traveling with people who are able to push you. We had four able bodied adults that had no problem taking turns with the wheelchair. Florida is flat! It is extremly easy to push the chair. So, the reason why we chose the wheelchair over the scooter can be summed up in one word: CROWDS!!! It’s my experience that traversing the chair through the crowd is much more convenient than the big scooters. Our family member in the chair used a scooter the previous visit and saw a remarkable difference in how we were able to manage the crowd. I noticed a lot of people struggling to maneuver their scooters through the crowds and buildings. It’s a matter of personal preference I guess but if given a choice, we choose wheelchair. Tip #3 Always check in with a cast member before each attraction/show Everything we wanted to do provided wheelchair accessible queuing areas. Some rides allowed the guest in the wheelchair to wait in the usual queue and transfer to the ride while other attractions have what Disney calls an auxiliary entrance where the disabled guest and five family members may wait together. The only caveat is if the disabled guest is able to transfer on their own to the ride or if they must stay in their chair. This is why it is absolutely essential to check in with the cast member and get assistance. They will know just what to do in either scenario. Another quick tip on accessing rides: don’t be afraid to ride the continual moving attractions. The cast members will stop the ride to allow the guest to board safely! There are even designated viewing areas during the parades for those in wheelchairs, but get there early because they fill up quickly. Tip #4 Take Breaks! We take breaks…we go strong when we’re in the park but we are not afraid to get out of the park and rest for a bit. This would be a tip I would give to anyone visiting Disney whether disabled or not. The parks are at their fullest typically between 11:00 and 4:00 and they can get hot depending on when you go, so we usually go back to the resort for a couple of hours during time frame. It is great to get a bite to eat, cool off in the room or by the pool and then go back in to the parks in the evening feeling refreshed and ready to get back at it! The bottom line is that Disney is a great place to visit, don’t let a mobile disability stop you or anyone in your party. For more information on services available at the Disney Parks and Resorts check out disneyparks.com or call (407) 560-2547.
Travel, Walt Disney World

Top 10 Things to Do at Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party

If you find yourself in the wonderful world of Disney during the end of August and months of September and October, you will most certainly want to check out Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party at the Magic Kingdom. This event is absolutely fabulous! The decor and overall ambiance is top notch and the Florida weather is much more agreeable if you go later in the season. Decide which of the selected nights work for your schedule and experience Halloween the way Disney does it! Need I say more? So, let’s get started…

10. GET THERE EARLY: The party starts for ticket holders at 7:00 and lasts until midnight BUT if you have a ticket you can arrive as early as 4:00 and start enjoying the park. You will be given a wrist band by a cast member that only event ticket holders will be given. There are a few rides that will not be available to ride after 7:00, so make sure to ride those first. After 7:00 anyone in the park that does not have that band will not be able to enjoy the rides and activities of the park. This event does require a separate ticket from the general admission. Try to get parked and be in Magic Kingdom by 4:00 to be able to spend as much time as possible enjoying the Disney magic!

9. Dress up like your favorite Disney character and go trick or treating: Cast members will provide treat bags for trick or treating at several locations around the park. You will find signs at each treat locations but make sure to get a map because they will also provide the locations for your convenience. Be prepared…you will get A LOT of candy!

8. Pirates of the Caribbean: Enjoy a new enhanced spooky experience with live pirates interacting with guests in the queue area as well as the ride loading area. Once on the ride you will also stumble upon the pesky pirate “Gunpowder Pete”.

7. Mad Tea Party: This ride has new lighting and a fun soundtrack just for Mickey’s Not so Scary Halloween Party. If you are unsure about riding a spinning ride (like me) you can ride or simply watch it. Whether watching or riding, you will not want to miss this.

6. Haunted Mansion: While the Haunted Mansion provides us with happy haunts all year long, Disney kicks it up a notch for Halloween. Rumor has it that a few of the ghosts have escaped the mansion and are hassling guests in the queue area. The overall lighting and ambiance outside the mansion will be sure to get you in the spooky spirit!

5. Character meet and greet: Prepare to enjoy unique meet and greet and character experiences. Most character meet and greets start at 7:00 but a few will start a little earlier. Popular characters like Jack and Sally will be available early, lines get very long for these two so make sure to see them first.

4. Boo to You Halloween Parade: There are two parades, the first one at 9:15 and then 11:15. Find a spot about 15 to 20 minutes before the 9:15 parade starts, if you decide to see the second parade it will be less crowded and may not require you to get a spot as early. The ghostly parade will showcase many rare characters including the headless horseman!

3. Hocus Pocus Villain Spelltacular: This show offers three showings: 8:30, 10:45 and 12:00. Join the Sanderson sisters as well as a few other Disney villains for some thrilling Halloween fun. If you decide to end the evening at the last showing, it will actually extend your time in the park as it ends a little after the park officially closes.

2. Happy HalloWishes Halloween Fireworks Show: If you’ve ever seen a Disney laser and fireworks show, you will know they are spectacular. The Happy HalloWishes Show does not disappoint. There is only one show at 10:15, so plan the evening accordingly. Along with the fireworks, the fun villain music and projections, this unique show is simply amazing!

1. Space Mountain: This is our families’ favorite ride at Magic Kingdom anytime we visit the park. During Mickey’s Not so Scary Halloween Party, the ride is completely dark. Every light is turned off which creates an entirely new and hair-raising ride experience. In addition to the lack of lighting there is also a new soundtrack just for this event. If you can only do one thrill ride during the party, this is the one to do!

If you are lucky enough to be able to attend this party, make sure to take advantage of each of the rides and entertainment included on this list. This is a very family friendly event, it has been one of our favorite things we have done at WDW over the years. To find more information on event dates, times and tickets see disneyworld.disney.go.com.