Podcast 234 – Doing nothing at Disney’s Old Key West Resort

Pixie Dust Fan Podcast Episode 234

Doing nothing at Disney’s Old Key West Resort

The ladies are sharing part 2 of their trip to Walt Disney World where they checked in to Disney’s Old Key West Resort with the intention of doing nothing.  They’re sharing some food reviews, updates on Carrie’s lost phone and some interesting Lyft drivers!

Find Francine and Carrie online:

Website: https://PixieDustFan.com

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Carrie on Instagram: @MuppetCrazy

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Doing nothing at Disneys Old Key West PIN - 1

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Summerhouse On The Lake Dining At Disney Springs

Summerhouse On The Lake Dining At Disney Springs

Summerhouse On the Lake Disney Springs

With so many fantastic restaurants at Walt Disney World Resort, it’s so hard to decide where to dine.  If you narrow it down to Disney Springs, I still have a hard time choosing because there are really a ton of wonderful choices.  From Art Smith’s to the Boathouse, I have my traditional “go to” places, but I always try to do something new each trip. 

Summerhouse on the Lake is located on the West Side of Disney Springs.  This spot is a decent size restaurant with 3 different patios for outdoor seating as well as a pretty expansive indoor seating dining room.  I made my reservation via Open Table and I was able to modify it a few times when the rain came in and we decided to delay our dinner.

First thing to notice when you walk inside?  The cookie bar.  Yes, you can stop in to just get their delicious cookies to go. Some of the more popular flavours include Sea Salt Chocolate Chip, Birthday Cake and Oatmeal Scotchie.  They also have dietary-friendly options like the Gluten-Free Chocolate Chip Cookie or the Vegan Snickerdoodle cookies.  They also have a selection of coffee, wine, draft beer, and specialty cocktails to go with your oversized cookies!

Summerhouse on the lake

My reservation was for dinner and we were impressed with this California-inspired menu.  In fact it was hard to decide what to order!  We looked at all of the appetizers (the cheesy dream puffs and the truffle fries were tempting!) and we debated some of the fresh salads and veggies (ummm – why does caramelized brussel sprouts, potato salad deviled eggs or grilled avocado sound so good?) but we knew we weren’t that hungry.  The waitress did ask about any special dietary needs we might have before taking our orders.

Summerhouse on the lake salmon poké nachos

Salmon poké nachos

While my friend ordered the salmon poké nachos, I of course opted for the prime cheeseburger and french fries.  I would have liked to have tried the pizza, but when I can’t decide I usually default to chicken or a burger.

The portions were large and we couldn’t finish the meal.  We wanted desperately to try dessert from the in-house bakery, but we just couldn’t do it.  We decided to split a cookie and then order an extra to take back to the room with us.  Our meals were delicious and we both talked about how we try it again on our next visit.  I also didn’t get to try the signature Rosé Cart, that sounds like something I would like too!

Summerhouse On the Lake cheeseburger

Aside from the lunch and dinner menus, there are options for brunch each day.  Choose from a giant cinnamon roll, strawberry waffles or Mexican hash browns, every option on the menu sounds delicious.  I think I’ll have this on my to-do list for my next, the brunch sounds like something I would enjoy.  Take note that on Saturdays and Sundays, there is a special weekend brunch menu.

Have you eaten at Summerhouse on the Lake?  Did you love it?

Dining at Space 220 in Epcot – A Journey to Space

Dining at Space 220 in Epcot – A Journey to Space

There are SO many unique dining experiences and great restaurants at Walt Disney World Resort, but if you have a fan of space exploration in your travel party you’re going to want to experience Space 220.

This casual dining restaurant has good food (and I’ll get to that later) but the experience and views are literally ‘out of this world’.  Just an FYI – this is not a ‘Star Wars’ space type thing, this is more “international space station” type feel!

Space 220 Epcot EntranceLocated in the Mission: SPACE pavilion, my recommendation is to visit the restaurant AFTER you ride Mission Space attraction and not before.  Even if you’re doing the green side – it’s best not to have a full belly.  If you’re doing the full Orange experience, you might want some extra time before eating any space food!

Once you check in with the Cast Member you are taken to the Departure Lounge where you’re given a boarding pass for the space elevator.

Space 220 Elevator Boarding Pass

This is such a cool experience.  With a window in the ‘floor’ you get to watch as you ascend to space.  You get to watch Epcot shrink as you get farther and farther away from earth.

Space 220 Inside the elevator

The Elevator

Look up to the widow above to see the space station coming in to view.  This journey is such a highlight of the experience.

Space 220 the view of earth from the elevator

As the doors open to the Centauri Space Station you are escorted into the main dining room. The scene as you walk in are amazing!  The large ‘windows’ that offer views of earth are fantastic and I think I stood for a second in awe when I first saw them.  Who doesn’t want to dine in a space station looking out in to outer space?

Once seated at the table you’ll notice the cutlery and glassware fit the theming as well.  I have heard that sitting up against the ‘windows’ you don’t get to see quite as much and the best seats are the ones further back.

Space 220 viewsSpace 220 is open for both lunch and dinner, although I wish they would add breakfast to allow more people to experience it.

The lunch menu is a prix-fixe 2-course meal and a prix-fixe, 3-course meal at dinner.  The dinner menu has Space Station Supplements including a baked whole lobster stuffed with jumbo crab.  Menu items at Walt Disney World restaurants can change so it is important to review it on the official Walt Disney World website before your visit especially if there is a dish you specifically want.

Space 220 Blue Moon Cauliflower

Blue Moon Cauliflower

Appetizers are called “Lift-Offs” and are themed of course!  My favourite was the Blue Moon Cauliflower.  Tempura Fried Cauliflower, Housemade Hot Sauce, Blue Cheese Dust = perfection.  If all vegetables tasted that good I’d eat more of them!  The side dishes are called “Satellite Sides” and feature 4 options that I have yet to try myself.

Space 220 Starry Calamari

Starry Calamari

I have dined here multiple times with different people and I have yet to hear anyone complain about their dishes.

Space 200 Wagyu Beef Carpaccio

Wagyu Beef Carpaccio

Thankfully I have had dining companions who like different dishes than I do so I was able to get pictures of things like the Starry Calamari and the Wagyu Beef Carpaccio.

The main course is called the “Star Course”.  I have had the burger and french fries a few times and the flat iron steak, and my dining party has tried many other things!

Space 220 Steak Salad

Steak Salad

From plant based to carnivores, my travel party has tried just about everything.  The only thing I keep thinking I’d like to try is a children’s meal because I really want to try the Spaceghetti and the Cosmic Cupcake!

Space 220 Filet Mignon

Filet Mignon

The desserts are called “Super Nova Sweets” and if I’m honest, I’ve never had ROOM for any so I can’t tell you if they are any good.  I always want to try the “Blue Planet” chocolate cheesecake but I just can’t do it after I’ve eaten the appetizer and main.

Space 220 Burger

Burger

The kids menu is equally fun and there is a full alcoholic drinks menu as well.  Cold brews, spirits and kids zero-proof sippers offer something for everyone.

Space 220 views 2My overall experience every time is that it’s a fun, immersive dining experience.  The food is delicious, but the atmosphere is what puts it over the top.  Watch the windows while eating your meal and you’ll see astronauts and other things floating by.  When it’s time to leave the restaurant you head back to the same space elevator and do the journey in reverse.

My tips for your visit:

  • Space 220 is a very popular spot, advance dining reservations are strongly recommended
  • If you don’t have a reservation – keep checking on the My Disney Experience app or check if they are accepting walk-ups
  • Make sure to mention any celebrations or special occasions when you’re there
  • Before you mess up your table, ask a Cast Member to take a picture of you and your party with the windows in the background
  • Save room for dessert – I kick myself every time!

Have you eaten at Space 220?  What did you think?

Podcast 233 – This Is Magic Disney Event

Pixie Dust Fan Podcast Episode 233

This Is Magic Disney Event

Carrie and Francine were guests of Disney Destinations at the This Is Magic Event in Walt Disney World.  They got to explore and experience the new CommuniCore Hall and Plaza at Epcot and of course spent some time in the Bayou with Tiana!  Hear about the antics, parties and drones – and all of the fun stuff in between!

#ThisIsMagic #WaltDisneyWorld

Find Francine and Carrie online:

Website: https://PixieDustFan.com

Instagram: @PixieDustFan

Carrie on Instagram: @MuppetCrazy

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How long does it take to see Walt Disney World?

How long does it take to see Walt Disney World?

How much time do I need to see Disney World

This is a question I get asked all the time from people who are planning their very first trip.

First timer:  How many days / how much time do I need to see all of Walt Disney World?

Me:  You will never have enough vacation days

Let me explain.

On average most first timers go for a week or ten days.  This is a good amount of time to have a great experience, enjoy the parks, sample the food and relax while enjoying the resort amenities.  They may or may not fit in a visit to one of the water parks and Disney Springs.  Please note – you will NOT see ‘everything’.

Walt Disney World Map

To put it in perspective, Walt Disney World Resort is about the size of San Francisco or Ottawa.  While you can plan to visit them for a week, you wouldn’t expect to see ‘everything’ in that time – and you should assume the same with Walt Disney World.  When you look at the maps of the property – those are highways you see that connect the 4 theme parks, they are not side-by-side like in Disneyland.

With each of the 4 parks you can spend a full day there and get through a LOT of stuff.  If you’re staying at a Walt Disney World resort, you can make use of the early entry perk to get a head start on the long lines for some of the attractions.  If you couple that with lightning lanes and using the My Disney Experience app to be flexible, your first time to any of these parks can be a good day.

Tron - how much time for Disney

What I don’t advocate for is pushing yourself and your family harder than you need to.  It breaks my heart when I’m in the parks and I see a family with hot, cranky kids who are being driven to “hurry up” and keep a schedule that was set in advance.  Things happen. Rain, upset tummies, unusual wait times and crowds can throw even the best laid plans out the window.  It is sad when I see people experience something fantastic and they RUSH through it because they are trying to get to the next thing.  You need to expect to take your time in some situations.  If the kids are having the best time at the splash pad or on the PeopleMover then do it again.  A family vacation shouldn’t be so stressful, you should enjoy the moments that are creating those memories.

So how do you see the most of Walt Disney World while still enjoying your time?

Here are some tips to help you find the balance between ‘seeing it all’ and enjoying your vacation

Time for a dole whip - how long to disney

There should always be time for Dole Whip!

1.  Plan for breaks

Going to the parks from open to close is exhausting.  I don’t care who you are, they are LONG days.  If the kids (or you!) are going to be super cranky by dinner time, plan a break in the early afternoon to rest and rejuvenate.  It might be worth skipping an attraction or two to save everyone some stress.

2.  Limit table service dining

If you’re a big foodie then make all the reservations you can.  If you’re not, table service dining can eat up a lot of time in your day.  Be selective about where you want to eat and make sure you give yourself enough time to enjoy the meal once you’re there.

Cindrella's Royal Table Sign

3.  Decide what is important

Do you have kids that want to do every roller coaster they can? Or do you have small children who won’t want those big rides but instead will prefer It’s a Small World?  Having a list of what attractions are a must do vs a nice to do can help you maximize your time in the parks.

4.  Rope drop IF it makes sense

You’ll hear lots of people talking about ‘rope drop’ at the parks. Essentially this means arriving before opening so that you’re there when they ‘drop the rope’ to let everyone in when the park opens.  It is a great strategy to get some of the most popular rides done first thing in the morning.  If you make use of the extra time for onsite guests it’s an added bonus.

Pixie Dust Fan on the Haunted Mansion

My caveat for this is that if your family aren’t ‘morning people’ then having them wake up at the crack of dawn might make them miserable for the day.  Know your family and what they’re capable of.  If they are more ‘night owls’ then stay in the parks as late as you can.

5. Get park hopper tickets

This is only valuable if you have the stamina to visit more than 1 park per day.  This can be useful for things like revisiting Disney’s Hollywood Studios to see Fantasmic after a day at Disney’s Animal Kingdom park that closed earlier.  You can easily go back and visit something again that you enjoyed earlier without committing a full day to the same park.  It’s also helpful for going back to see nighttime shows as well.

Fireworks at the Magic Kingdom

6.  Make use of the tools available

Whether its Disney Genie, a virtual queue or an individual lightning lane, use the tools available to you.  There are always new things being changed and updated and understanding how to use them can be critical for saving time in long lines.

7.  Know before you go

Using a travel agent that specializes in Disney vacations is always recommended.  A good agent knows about recent changes in the Disney theme parks as well as the tools I reference above.  They keep an eye out for promotions to make sure you have the best deal possible.  While you’re saving some money, maybe you end up adding an extra day to the trip to be able to experience even more of your favorite park.

Journey of Water Moana at Epcot

Walt Disney World is my happy place, and I can’t tell you how many times I have made the trip from Toronto to Orlando (I have seriously lost count).  What I can tell you from my personal experience is that I still haven’t seen it all!  On a recent trip with my nephew we were walking through world showcase when he said “what’s in there?” as he pointed to this little structure in Norway.

Gods of the Vikings Epcot

I told him it was just a facade, but he ignored me and walked up, opened the door and went inside!  I was floored, I had no idea you could go IN and that there is an exhibit of Norwegian artifacts inside!  It was pretty cool and I mentioned to other Disney friends and they didn’t all know about it either!

So how long does it take to see all of Walt Disney World?  I’ll let you know once I have done it!

For a first timer I would plan for a week or two so that you can have a good time, not be rushed and see a good chunk of it.  Then once you get home and reflect on what a magical vacation it was – you’ll start planning the next trip.  There is always something new and exciting to experience at Walt Disney World, that’s how they get you to keep coming back.

Before you know it you’re a Disney addict and you’re planning trips to go back and see ‘what’s new’.

There’s always something new because just like Disneyland – Walt Disney World will never be complete.

Walt Disney Imagination Quote

Before you plan your vacation, read my blog on the top 5 myths about using a travel agent.

Roundup Rodeo BBQ Review – Disney’s Hollywood Studios

Roundup Rodeo BBQ Review – Disney’s Hollywood Studios

Roundup Rodeo BBQ Sign Toy Story Land

When it comes to dining at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, there are a few unique experiences choose from.  You can dine at a drive-in movie theatre at the Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater or you can be ‘scolded’ for not eating your veggies as you turn back time to dine at the 50’s Prime Time Cafe.   But it’s only at Roundup Rodeo BBQ that you get to be one of Andy’s honorary toys from the movie franchise of Toy Story.

Welcome Rodeo Fans Roundup Rodeo BBQ

Located in the heart of Toy Story Land in Disney’s Hollywood Studios, this dining experience is fun for everyone.  The theming from Andy’s backyard continues in to this restaurant as you walk in to Andy’s rodeo playset.  While this is not a character dining experience, the meal is full of character!  Once you’re in the dining room you are now the size of a toy surrounded by walls that are “made” from cardboard boxes and full of huge cutouts and pictures of some of your favorite toys!

Inside Roundup Rodeo BBQ

The attention to detail was so incredible.  As the Disney cast member was showing us to our table I struggled to take it all in because there was so much to see.  From the cardboard cutouts to the huge Bo Peep, Jessie riding on the back of a Trixie pull toy to train station playsets, this western town was overrun with things to look at.

Bo Peep at Roundup Rodeo BBQ

The best part of the theming was “Andy’s coming”.  I sat and watched in awe at how the ENTIRE main dining area committed to being still when Andy was coming.  Watching the kids at their tables doing their very best to stay still and not get ‘caught’ by Andy was one of the highlights of the experience.  I watched a young boy who was probably 6 years old trying NOT to smile and giggle as he ‘hid’ from Andy.  These kids were having a BALL and their smiles were evidence of it.  For Toy Story Fans both young and old, this is everything you could hope for.

Jessie and Rex Roundup Rodeo BBQ

The only thing that is a bit weird inside is the lighting – it’s almost got a red or purple hue to it.  I’m not clear what the reasoning is, other than you’re supposed to be inside a bunch of toy boxes so I guess it makes sense it isn’t good lighting, but it doesn’t make the food look as edible in the pictures as it was!

Normally these types of restaurants are more about the theming than the food, but I am happy to say that the food quality did not disappoint!  The food is served family style with everything coming out together and you put it on your plate yourself.  The plates were even well themed as they looked like paper plates!

Paper Plates at Roundup Rodeo BBQ

There were 2 of us and we asked for one of us to have the plant-based option.  That was a bit of a mistake because there was SO MUCH food!  I know they say you can get more of whatever you’d like, but honestly they were almost rolling us out of there.

The first dishes that arrived for us were:

  • The Prospector’s Homemade Cheddar Biscuits with Sweet Pepper Jelly
  • Rootin’ Tootin Tomato Salad
  • Wheezy’s Watermelon Salad

Appetizers Roundup Rodeo BBQ

This was the perfect way to start off the meal, but it took all sorts of willpower not to stuff myself with the biscuits!  They were so good and the jelly was delicious.  The watermelon salad was incredibly refreshing and the tomato salad was tasty.  For the starters – we were really happy.

Being seated at a table for 2 we were starting to wonder how they were going to fit anything else on our table, we weren’t about to give up our biscuits or watermelon in case we had room at the end to polish them off.

Somehow – he made it work when then main course came out.

For the meat and plant based meat we had:

The Meat at Roundup Rodeo BBQ

From the House-Smoked Items:

  • Evil Dr. Smoked Ribs
  • Buttercup’s Beef Brisket
  • There’s a Sausage in my Boot – Fire-grilled Pork Sausage
  • BBQ Chicken – with Style!
  • Buckin’ Baked Beans

From Trixie’s Plant-based Trio:

  • Combat Carloflower with Harissa Drizzle and Walnut Gremolata
  • Scrumptious Bratwurst
  • Rip Roarin’ Rib Chop

Side Dishes Roundup Rodeo BBQ

Then came the side dishes:

  • Potato Barrels
  • The Claw! Veggie Slaw
  • Slinky Doooooooooog’s Mac & Cheese
  • Cowpoke Corn on the Cob

Somehow it all managed to ‘fit’ on our table and we started eating.  I tried a bit of everything including the 3 BBQ sauces on the table (they had classic, sweet and spicy).   I honestly didn’t feel that anything needed the sauce other than the chicken.  I found the chicken to be a bit bland when compared to all of the other meat options.  Everything else was tender and flavourful, exactly what you would expect in a good BBQ.  The sides were as good as you would expect, I love potato barrels and struggled not to fill up on those alone.  The mac & cheese was so rich and the slaw was delicious!

Mac and Cheese Roundup Rodeo BBQ

The only thing I wasn’t totally crazy about was the corn on the cob.  It’s not that I disliked it, but if I had to be selective about filling up on stuff – I wasn’t wasting stomach space on that one.   I had dessert coming so I needed to be responsible.

Corn Roundup Rodeo BBQ

For dessert we got to choose one:

  • Bo’s Lemon and Blueberry CheesecakeBilly’s Chocolate Silk Pie
  • Goat’s Apple Pie
  • Gruff’s Peach-Strawberry Pie (Plant Based)
  • Cupcake a la Forky

While I normally would be all about the cupcake, Billy’s Chocolate Silk Pie was calling my name.  Chocolate mousse and whipped cream – of course I was having it!  And I was very glad I did.  It was the perfect ending to a delicious meal!  Unfortunately with the lighting the pics of it didn’t turn out at all, but trust me – it was good.

Woody and Zurg Roundup Rodeo BBQ

Is this Roundup Rodeo BBQ restaurant a good option for those at Hollywood Studios?  Absolutely!  I would recommend it without hesitation.

As with all Walt Disney World Resort table service restaurants, reservations are recommended.  That being said, sometimes you can get availability that day!  For my visit we arrived at the park and decided to see what restaurants had availability.  I was shocked to see many times open for Roundup Rodeo BBQ and other dining locations in the park.   Also remember if you have any special dietary requirements, be sure to inform the restaurant when you make your reservation and be sure to tell your server.

Cut Outs Roundup Rodeo BBQ

Woody’s Roundup BBQ at Disney’s Hollywood Studios offers a delicious food, engaging entertainment, and immersive theming.  Whether you’re a die-hard Toy Story fan or simply looking for a fun and memorable dining experience, this is a spot you won’t want to miss. So round up your posse and head on over to Woody’s Roundup BBQ for a rootin’ tootin’ good time!  But don’t plan on riding Slinky Dog Dash right after, give yourself some time to digest!

Are you a Toy Story Fan?  Have you tried this place yet?

If you’d like to explore character dining – check out my review of Topolino’s when I did it solo!

Podcast 232 – Fran does Universal Orlando

Pixie Dust Fan Podcast Episode 232

Fran does Universal

Francine leaves the Disney bubble and spends 4 days at Universal Orlando.  Find out where she stayed, what she enjoyed most and what attractions she experienced.

Then hear the ladies pixie dust of the week as they go from Jim Henson to bouncing – it’s never a dull moment!

Find Francine and Carrie online:

Website: https://PixieDustFan.com

Instagram: @PixieDustFan

Carrie on Instagram: @MuppetCrazy

Facebook: Pixie Dust Fan

Pixie Dust Fan Facebook group: PixieDustFanGroup

Support Pixie Dust Fan by shopping our affiliates

Find Pixie Dust Fan on YouTube: PixieDustFanSite

 

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Podcast 231 – Carrie’s no running runDisney event

Pixie Dust Fan Podcast Episode 231

Carrie’s no running runDisney event

She did it!!  Yes – Carrie has a runDisney medal!  She did the 5k in Walt Disney World and she’s sharing her thoughts on the whole event.  From getting registered to the walk itself – you’ll want to find out if she’s planning on doing another!

Find Francine and Carrie online:

Website: https://PixieDustFan.com

Instagram: @PixieDustFan

Carrie on Instagram: @MuppetCrazy

Facebook: Pixie Dust Fan

Pixie Dust Fan Facebook group: PixieDustFanGroup

Support Pixie Dust Fan by shopping our affiliates

Find Pixie Dust Fan on YouTube: PixieDustFanSite

 

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How to find your best Disney Cruise Line travel agent

How to find your best Disney Cruise Line travel agent

Best Disney Cruise Travel Agent

Planning to sail on Disney Cruise Line is planning for the ultimate magical vacation, but let’s be honest – it can be a bit overwhelming.  There are so many things to consider for a regular family vacation, but when you add the complexities of a cruise it’s important you get it right!

Whether it’s your first time cruising or you’ve done it before, the best vacation is born from research and clear expectations.  That’s where a good travel agent can step in to make the magic happen seamlessly.

DCL pick up MCO

Finding the right cruise travel agent is a bit like finding the perfect hairdresser, accountant or therapist.  While you start as strangers, you begin building that relationship over time and with every trip.  They understand your needs and preferences and will be there as your family and travel preferences evolve over the years.  The best Disney travel agents are invested in YOU and and are there with you every step of the way.  They set your expectations and make sure that your Disney trip is everything you had hoped for.

So the question is – who is the best Disney Cruise agent? There isn’t one. It’s not a ‘one size fits all’ model, but there is someone that is the best for YOU.  Not all travel agents are created equal and of course there are more experienced, professional agents than others, but this can be said about every industry.  The important thing is to find the one that works best for YOU and your family.

Castaway Cay Characters

In full disclosure, if you didn’t know – I am co-owner of Playcation Travel agency.  What I’m writing in this article is based on my 15+ years of experience in the industry.  I have had many conversations with clients over the years who shared what they loved about their agents and what they were disappointed in.  I have outlined some questions below that you can ask a potential agent to get an idea if they are the right fit for you.  This applies to ANY agency – not just mine.

Please ask the questions, but don’t have a bunch of different agents giving you a ‘free quote’.  Travel advisors generally do not get paid for any of the work until the client actually travels on the trip.  Everyone gets the same pricing from Disney and if you’re getting different prices, they likely didn’t include the same things.  Please be respectful of the advisors time and the hard work they put in to creating the quotes for you.

7 Questions to Ask a potential Disney Cruise Travel Agent

Pirate Mickey and Minnie

1.  What is your experience with booking Disney cruises?

It’s important to ask about their experience helping other guests plan their cruises.  It means that they understand the process, they have insight in to how things work on the ship and can guide you through it all.  A good agent asks their clients for feedback when they return so that they can build their practical knowledge around all different kinds of travel parties.  Those who cruised with multi generations may have a different perspective from those that are 2 adults with no kids.  When you pair that up with personal experience – it’s a match that can’t be beat.

2.  Are you a Disney focused travel agent?

Disney has specific training programs for travel agents (the College of Disney Knowledge) and completing those is just the first step.

An agent who specializes in Disney destinations will obviously have a little more insight in to the cruise line vs an agent who focuses on other brands.  Keep in mind this is really only applicable if you’ve decided you for sure want to cruise with Disney.  If you want to compare other lines – then this may not be a deal breaker for you.

Disney Fantasy DCL

Those that also say they are a Disney specialist should quantify for you if that includes cruises or just the Disney parks.  There are so many Disney destinations that they may not focus on all.

It is also a false sense of security when asking for a “Disney-certified” travel agent or an ‘authorized Disney vacation planner’.  The Earmarked designation that they are referring to applies to the agency and not the agent.  It has NO bearing on their capabilities as an agent.  (Just an FYI – most advisors at ‘Disney focused’ agencies are independent contractors and not employees).

Disney Dream Donal Duck

3.  How do you handle changes or cancellations?

Life happens when you’re busy making plans.  Find out how they work with changes and cancellations and if they have any additional fees associated.  It’s important to understand not only the suppliers terms and conditions but also what your agent will do if you need to make changes.  With Disney Cruise Line there isn’t generally a ‘new deal’ that comes out that is better than the original pricing requiring changes.  Keep in mind that with cruising the prices generally go UP over time as staterooms sell out, usually the best deals are only found when the itinerary is released.

4.  What is your availability and how can I contact you?

If I had a dollar for every post I saw with someone saying “my agent isn’t responsive” and it was because they didn’t discuss how they would work together.  Your agent might (and should) have office hours and boundaries for when they work.  You can’t expect replies to emails within minutes when you send it at 11pm at night.

A good travel advisor is handling multiple clients at a time and will also prioritize messages from clients who are IN the destination and need immeditate assistance.  Have them explain to you how they prioritize their time and responses.

DCL Towel Animal

A travel professional may also work through one mode of communication only, this allows them to keep things organized and set boundaries.  If they work through email only, sending text messages and notes via Instagram won’t work.  Find out how they work and then see if that works for YOU.

5.  Can you help with additional arrangements, like flights or pre-cruise hotels?

This is so important especially with cruising!  I would never tell anyone to fly in for a cruise the morning it departs – too many things can go wrong and if you miss the ship, it can absolutely ruin your vacation.  Does this agent book flights for you or just research them?  Not all agents will book flights and you should understand their reasoning if they do or don’t before you decide to move ahead with them.

Do you need reservations at a Walt Disney World resort before your cruise or after?  Do they help with an itinerary for the theme parks?  Are you sailing out of a different port and need a good hotel for the night?  Having someone who knows the ports and can recommend where to stay and how to get to the port easily is a huge help!

DCL Pool Deck

6.  How do you personalize the planning process for us?

Your vacations should be as unique as your family.  Do they do phone consultations?  Video chat?  Are they willing to get on a call and speak about your individual needs?  Not everyone needs this level of support – but it’s important to know it’s available to you if you do.  Understand the entire process of how your vacation will come together and what the agent typically does as part of the planning with their clients.

7.  What kind of support do you provide during and AFTER my vacation?

It’s good to know if they’ll be available to help if you encounter any issues while on vacation.  This is always a hot topic on social media with guests not knowing where a travel advisor can and can’t help.  Generally once you have “checked in” for your vacation (the resort or cruise) the agent no longer has any control of your reservations.  That being said, an agent can offer advice and guidance to get the best results should any real issues arise.  The challenges with your family members though – you’re on your own!

Minnie Mouse Formal DCL

After your vacation is also the beginning of your relationship with this advisor.  If you are happy with their customer service and had a great time, you’ll probably want to use them again.  Make sure you ask if their agency books other destinations and cruise lines.  Yes it’s great if they’re a Disney expert, but find out how they could help you for the next trip!

After asking these questions, you should have a good sense of whether the travel agent is a good match for you.  Trust your instincts and choose someone who listens, understands your needs, and is as excited about your Disney cruise as you are.  Remember, this relationship is for the long haul.  So, take your time, ask the questions, and find your travel planning partner in crime.

Happy cruising!

Looking for a positive place online to ask questions?  Join our Facebook group here

If you need assistance planning your vacation contact my team at Playcation Travel

 

Podcast 230 – Our April 2024 Walt Disney World Trip Reports

Pixie Dust Fan Podcast Episode 230

April 2024 Walt Disney World Trip Reports

On this episode the ladies share the stuff that was ‘new’ to them on their most recent trips to Walt Disney World.  From Gideon’s cookies to Ratatouille, Beach Club to French Quarter – there is so much new to talk about!   There are burger reviews from Disney Springs and Roundup BBQ to talk about – you don’t want to miss it!

Find Francine and Carrie online:

Website: https://PixieDustFan.com

Instagram: @PixieDustFan

Carrie on Instagram: @MuppetCrazy

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9 Things To Know About Disney’s Kilimanjaro Safaris

9 Things You Should Know About Disney’s Kilimanjaro Safaris

Kilimanjaro Safaris Disney's Animal Kingdom

When planning a Walt Disney World vacation I have had many people say to me “I’m not going to visit Animal Kingdom, I’ve been to a zoo before”.  This always makes me chuckle a little before I start to explain what Disney’s Animal Kingdom offers.

One of the most unique and different experiences available in the park is Kilimanjaro Safaris. This experience lasts about 20 minutes where you will explore the Harambe Wildlife Reserve that is home to over 30 different species.  The reserve is 110 acres of open plains, forest landscapes and rocky wetlands.  It’s an experience like nothing else in any other Disney park.  It’s educational, fun, exciting and interesting – you would forget that you’re actually inside of a theme park!  It’s one of the most popular attractions in the park, but there’s some things you should know before you venture out on your first safari.

Harambe Wildlife Reserve

Here are 9 things you should know about Kilimanjaro Safaris

1.  It’s suitable for all ages – but not all people

In order to visit the reserve you are taken out by a tour guide in a safari truck.  The ride vehicles are spacious with no seatbelts.  You enter through the door and slide along the bench, small children should be seated on the inside.  There are wheelchair access trucks, but they cannot accommodate an ECV, you must transfer to a wheelchair.

Now who is it not suitable for?  Anyone with high blood pressure, heart, back or neck problems, motion sickness or expectant mothers should not ride.  The ‘roads’ or paths that the vehicles take are rough and unpaved, it is an incredibly bumpy ride during some of it.  It’s also important to note that there is no air conditioning (it’s an open-air safari) and if you get stuck behind a slow moving animal you could be there for a while.  Generally you should be in good health before setting out on this african safari.

Kilimanjaro Safaris Warning Disney

Fun fact:  The rutted road on Kilimanjaro Safaris is part of the landscape design and was done intentionally! The Walt Disney Imagineering design team matched concrete with the surrounding soil, rolled tires through it, tossed stones, twigs and dirt into it to create an appropriately bumpy experience duplicating a remote African road.

2.  The animals are real

Unlike the Jungle Cruise at the Magic Kingdom, the animals on Kilimanjaro Safaris are real.  There are over 30 different species of live animals to see so make sure you have your camera ready and on sports mode!  Sometimes the animals are right next to you, and sometimes they are a bit further away.  While the giraffe is friendly walking beside the truck, you wouldn’t want the lions doing that!

Giraffe so close Kilimanjaro Safaris

3.  You get an expert guide

The cast members that drive the vehicles point out animals that you might otherwise miss, not all of them are in plain sight and can be hard to spot.  Your safari guide will share information about the animals and their surroundings.

Giraffe stops vehicle Kilimanjaro Safaris

Yes – these are real animals with minds of their own.  They can hold up the safari if they get too close to the path, the trucks will come to a complete stop until it is safe to continue.  You can see this one above just sauntered right up to the vehicle!

4.  There are 30+ different species of animals

You aren’t getting on this safari just to see a giraffe or two, the amount of different animals is overwhelming.  Each truck comes with a picture list showing you the animals you might see.  The reference card runs the width of the truck.

Animal Reference on Safari

Animal Reference on Safari

From white rhinos to black rhinos, warthogs to elephants, it’s a fascinating journey!   Just so you know, the Wildebeest aren’t as scary as they are in the Lion King!

5. It’s a great view – well as good as it can be with animals

Disney imagineers did everything possible to make this look like natural habitats that are good for spectators, but most importantly the animals.  They place salt licks, water holes and even some air-conditioned rocks in spots to encourage the animals to be in sight when your safari truck passes along.

Zebra on Kilimanjaro Safaris

Fun fact:  In preparation for creating Disney’s Animal Kingdom, a core team of seven Walt Disney Imagineers, led by Creative Portfolio Executive Joe Rohde, crisscrossed the globe in search of the essential look of life in the wild. The team traveled more than 500,000 miles . . . a distance equal to circling the globe 20 times.

6.  There can be long lines, but you’ll want to do it twice

It’s a different experience every time you ride so there really is no “best time” to ride.  Some animals are more active first thing in the early morning while others perk up in the late afternoon.  If you have the time and can fit it in to your day, I recommend doing it twice to make sure you can take it all in.  Early theme park entry or use of a lightening lane with Genie + is a great way to minimize the wait times.

Kilimanjaro Safaris Wait Time

7. It’s HUGE

If you wonder how the animals get the exercise and space to live comfortably, just know that the entire Magic Kingdom Park is comparable to the size Kilimanjaro Safaris.   For another point of reference, it’s larger than 83 football fields.

Rhino

The rhinos have lots of room to graze and explore!

8.  Healthy animals are important here

Disney’s Animal Kingdom is home to one of the leading animal hospitals in North America.  It has an emphasis on advanced imaging, digital radiology, ultrasound and endoscopy.  Disney’s Animal Kingdom is one of only a few animal hospitals in the U.S. with CT scanners on the premises making it easier for the team to quickly diagnose and treat animals.

A happy lion taking an afternoon siesta

If you take a ride over to Conservation Station when you get off of Kilimanjaro Safaris you can see one of the treatment rooms and the nutrition center where they prepare the meals for the residents of the safari.

9.  Some of the animals are endangered species

Of the more than 300 different species at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park, there are eight now listed on the endangered species list. Painted Dog, African Elephant and Okapi can all be seen on the safari.

While not specific to the safari itself, it’s important to note that the research being done in Disney’s Animal Kingdom Park is helping animals all over the world!  On the Caring for Giants tour we were told about one of the projects where they found a solution that allows farmers to protect their farms without harming the elephants. Did you know elephants were afraid of bees? Researchers discovered this and now have helped farmers in Kenya build “beehive fences” that stop elephants from raiding the farms. Now people can defend their farms without hurting elephants, and they get honey too! Genius right?

Elephants at Kilimanjaro Safaris

Since 1995, the Disney Conservation Fund has directed more than $120 million to support nonprofit organizations working with communities to reverse the decline of wildlife in more than half the countries in the world.  If you would like to learn more about the conservation fund, click here

Have you been on Kilimanjaro Safaris?  Was there anything else I should have mentioned?

Podcast 229 – The Disney Community And What It Means To Us

Pixie Dust Fan Podcast Episode 229

The Disney Community And What It Means To Us

Carrie and Fran are talking about the Disney community and how important it is to them.  They share stories of meeting listeners, building friendships and remembering why they do what they do.

This episode is dedicated to their friend Marla who was always a positive light in the Disney community.

Find Francine and Carrie online:

Website: https://PixieDustFan.com

Instagram: @PixieDustFan

Carrie on Instagram: @MuppetCrazy

Facebook: Pixie Dust Fan

Pixie Dust Fan Facebook group: PixieDustFanGroup

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Podcast 228 – Beyond Big Thunder Mountain and Updates to DAS

Pixie Dust Fan Podcast Episode 228

Beyond Big Thunder & Changes to DAS

On this episode Carrie and Fran are sharing their ‘wishes’ for the Magic Kingdom expansion beyond Thunder Mountain.  As per usual, they expand in to dreams for the other parks too.  While some of their wishes are expected (Zootopia and Muppets), some others are surprising! 

The ladies also discuss their thoughts on the changes to the Disney Accessibility Service and speculate about how the program will change as more details become available.

Find Francine and Carrie online:

Website: https://PixieDustFan.com

Instagram: @PixieDustFan

Carrie on Instagram: @MuppetCrazy

Facebook: Pixie Dust Fan

Pixie Dust Fan Facebook group: PixieDustFanGroup

Support Pixie Dust Fan by shopping our affiliates

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Podcast 227 – Harry Potter – the first movie

Pixie Dust Fan Podcast Episode 227

Harry Potter – the first movie

It’s true – Francine had never seen ANY of the Harry Potter movies.  She hadn’t read a book, understood the story – nothing.  Carrie on the other hand read all the books when they came out AND saw all of the movies.  

With Francine’s upcoming trip that includes Universal Orlando, she thought it was important to actually watch the movies to see if her appreciation for them was different with this new knowledge.

Find out what Francine thought of the first movie, hear how Carrie explains what’s to come in the next movies and how they all enhance the Universal Orlando experience!

Find Francine and Carrie online:

Website: https://PixieDustFan.com

Instagram: @PixieDustFan

Carrie on Instagram: @MuppetCrazy

Facebook: Pixie Dust Fan

Pixie Dust Fan Facebook group: PixieDustFanGroup

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Are there lockers for rent at Walt Disney World?

Are there lockers in the parks at Walt Disney World Resort?

When you’re planning a full day in a Disney park, you may want to bring personal items with you that will make your day more enjoyable.  An umbrella, ponchos, medicines, combs, fans, water bottles, sunscreen – the list goes on!  The challenge is, you may not want to CARRY these things around the park with you for the entire day, so what do you do?  Rather than leaving these items in your Disney resort room, you can rent a locker at the parks to store your stuff for when you need it.

Animal Kingdom Lockers

In the parks they have different locker rentals to make bringing your items to the park more convenient.  No need to lug them around with you everywhere!  The storage lockers can be found at the park entrance to make it easy to drop off in the morning and pick up in the evening before leaving.  Remember that lockers are first come first-served basis so make sure you’re there early.

There are some things that you may want to keep with you at all times and you can store those in your backpack or park bag for the day.

The lockers at the parks come in various sizes:

The following locker options are offered at the Walt Disney World theme parks:

  • Small Lockers are 12″ x 10″ x 17″
  • Large lockers are 15.5″ x 13″ x 17″
  • Jumbo lockers are available at Magic Kingdom and Epcot only and are 17″ x 22″ x 26″

At the Water Parks (Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon water park and Disney’s Blizzard Beach water park)

  • Standard lockers are 12.5″ x 10″ x 17″
  • Large lockers are 15.5″ x 13″ x 17″

Pricing at the time this article was written:

Theme park lockers:

  • Small $10 per day
  • Large $12 per day
  • Jumbo $15 per day

Water Parks:

  • Standard $10 per day
  • Large $15 per day

To confirm pricing and locations always check the official Walt Disney World website

Carry what you need at the Disney parks

Locker locations at the Disney theme parks:

Magic Kingdom Park:

Lockers are on the right side as you enter the park.  There are also complimentary lockers at TRON – but those are only to hold your things while you’re on the attraction.

Epcot:

The first spot is at the front of the park, on the right side Spaceship Earth near the restrooms.

The second is at the International Gateway entrance between France and the UK.  They are near the World Traveler shop and where you can rent strollers.

Disney’s Hollywood Studios:

When you enter the park on the right you’ll see Oscars, the lockers are right next to it.

Hollywood Studios Oscars

Disney’s Animal Kingdom:

When you enter the park, on the left the lockers are next to the Guest Services window.

The second spot is near Kali River Rapids.  It makes sense – you get WET on this attraction and it’s a good idea to store your personal belongings before you get on!

How do you use the lockers?

The locker system is keyless and easy to use.  You can use it throughout the day for a one-time charge so that you can add or remove items during your visit.

If paying with cash (USD only) or a major credit card, you may proceed directly to the self-service kiosk to rent a locker. If paying with a gift card or Disney magic band, you need to visit the merchandise location nearest to the lockers for a Cast Member to assist you. They will process your rental transaction and give you a code to input into the self-service kiosk to give you access to a locker

Magic Kingdom Map Locker Rental

Use the app to locate in the parks

Tips for Locker Rental at Disney Parks:

  1. Get a locker bigger than you think you need.  That way when you buy souvenirs during the day you can run them back to the locker for safe keeping.  The biggest locker sizes come in handy for those who like to shop!
  2. Take a picture of your locker number on your phone so you remember which one is yours.
  3. Set a reminder on your phone for 15 or 30 minutes  before you plan to leave the park or park closing.  That will remind you to stop by and pick up your things on the way out.  It’s easy to forget them when you’ve been there the whole day.
  4. In the parks where there are 2 locations, choose the locker area at the front of the park.  That way it is easier to grab on your way out of the park.  The last thing you want to do is remember your stuff is at the back of the park when you’re at the front leaving!
  5. Don’t overthink it.  Don’t bring that random item that you think there’s a 5% chance you might need in the park, leave it in your room.
  6. Leave your valuables in your room. All of the rooms at the Disney resort hotels have safes to store your valuables where the only way to open them is with the code you set or calling maintenance (don’t ask me how I know that – but make sure you remember your code!).
  7. At this time there are no lockers at Disney Springs so travel light and buy only what you can carry!

Have you rented a locker at Walt Disney World?  Or do you carry everything in your backpack?

Podcast 226 – Expo 2024 and WDW News

Pixie Dust Fan Podcast Episode 226

2024 Expo and WDW News

It’s that time of the year, the Disney Expo tickets are going on sale and the debate begins.  Carrie is worried about some FOMO, but Fran isn’t a fan of the stadium that they’re introducing this year.  Hear their thoughts on the Expo as well as the most recent Walt Disney World news.

Find Francine and Carrie online:

Website: https://PixieDustFan.com

Instagram: @PixieDustFan

Carrie on Instagram: @MuppetCrazy

Facebook: Pixie Dust Fan

Pixie Dust Fan Facebook group: PixieDustFanGroup

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Podcast 225 – The most expensive souvenirs in World Showcase at Epcot

Pixie Dust Fan Podcast Episode 225

The most expensive souvenirs in World Showcase at Epcot

Most expensive souvenirs in Epcot?  On this episode of the podcast Carrie and Fran are joined by Alex to talk about all things World Showcase souvenirs!  Alex did the research and found out  what was the most expensive thing to buy in each of the countries.  The ladies are a little surprised by a few that they have never even noticed and there isn’t even a Dooney on the list!

Read Alex’s blog post and see the pictures of what they’re talking about at Second Dad to the Right here: https://seconddadtotheright.com/blog/most-expensive-souvenir-epcot-disney-world

Find Francine and Carrie online:

Website: https://PixieDustFan.com

Instagram: @PixieDustFan

Carrie on Instagram: @MuppetCrazy

Facebook: Pixie Dust Fan

Pixie Dust Fan Facebook group: PixieDustFanGroup

Support Pixie Dust Fan by shopping our affiliates

Find Pixie Dust Fan on YouTube: PixieDustFanSite

 

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Podcast 223 – Hong Kong Disneyland Trip Report With Isabel

Pixie Dust Fan Podcast Episode 223

Hong Kong Disneyland Trip Report With Isabel

Isabel is joinging Carrie and Fran on the podcast to discuss her travels to Hong Kong Disneyland.  She is sharing her thoughts on the food, merchandise, attractions including differences to her trip to Tokyo Disneyland.

Isabel shares how much she appreciated some of the differences with Walt Disney World including how everyone gets ready for the parade!  What’s the scoop with Duffy and the Zeller’s bear?  Find out how the 7-11 is the place to eat and how ‘Duffy watching’ is an activity to try!

The ladies have a fantastic conversation full of interesting facts and things you should think about before planning your trip to Hong Kong Disneyland.

Find Isabel on here website: http://happybeehomestead.weebly.com/

Fran’s “plane pants” are the Urban Cargo Straight Leg Pant in the Active Zone at Penningtons

Find Francine and Carrie online:

Website: https://PixieDustFan.com

Instagram: @PixieDustFan

Carrie on Instagram: @MuppetCrazy

Facebook: Pixie Dust Fan

Pixie Dust Fan Facebook group: PixieDustFanGroup

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Find Pixie Dust Fan on YouTube: PixieDustFanSite

 

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Disney’s Boardwalk Resort 1 Bedroom Villa Review

Disney Boardwalk Resort porte cochere

There are so many great reasons to stay at Disney’s Boardwalk Resort in Walt Disney World.  The fact that the Boardwalk is walking distance to Epcot and Disney’s Hollywood Studios is a key feature.  I love that I can choose to walk or boat to either park (although truth be told I never walk to Hollywood Studios – it’s a bit too far for me!).  The restaurants and bars, shopping and nightlife all add to the perks of staying in this area.

Friendship Boat at the Boardwalk

There are many room categories at the Boardwalk depending if you’re staying at Disney’s Boardwalk Inn or Disney’s Boardwalk Villas – they are different.  While they are all technically in the same spot and all attached, one is a Disney Vacation Club Resort (the villas) and the other is the regular hotel.   I have personally stayed in many different room categories here from the deluxe studios to the guest rooms in the inn, but there is something so fantastic about having a separate living room and full kitchen in the one-bedroom villa.

Disney Boardwalk 1 bedroom Living Room

There are different views available for the 1 bedrooms, the Garden/Pool view, Boardwalk View and Standard View.  For our stay we were in the Pool View room on the ground floor.

For context of my trip there were 4 adults in the room (the 1 bedrooms sleep up to 4 adults), my sister, my 2 adult nephews and me.  We wanted the extra space of having the separate additional bedroom, we didn’t want to feel like we were on top of each other.  If you need something bigger, the Boardwalk does offer two-bedroom villas as well.

When you walk in to the room there is a large closet and small ‘foyer’.  It was a great place to store my sister’s scooter in that little hallway.  It was perfect for charging there.  Throughout the room there are plenty of outlets with the USB ports for charging all of your devices.

Disney Boardwalk 1 bedroom Kitchen Table

We are a family that does spend some time in our room, so having the kitchen and living room is a huge plus.  While we didn’t cook anything (it’s a fully equipped kitchen), we absolutely enjoy having our tea and coffee in the morning and chilling a little before heading to the parks.  Some days we got our breakfast at the Boardwalk Bakery or a snack at Leaping Horse Libations (the pool bar) and ate it in our room.  Since they were both a short walk it was really convenient.

Disney Boardwalk Sleeper Sofa

The living room has a huge TV, plenty of seating and the pull down queen-size bed.   Many of the resorts now how the ‘pull down’ queen-size sleeper sofa instead of the old ‘pull out’ couches.  There is additional bedding in the closet for the pull down.

Boardwalk Resort Pull Down Queen Sofa

Queen sofa bed pulled down

The bathroom is quite large in this room and offers the shower stall in the same room.  Next to the bathroom is a closet with a stacked washer and dryer – making it super easy to get some laundry done while relaxing.

Disney boardwalk 1 bedroom bathroom

There is a separate room with an additional vanity and a HUGE bathtub.  There are no jets in this tub and I have to admit, I like that idea better than the jets.  I feel like you never really get those jets clean and I would prefer to use this huge soaker tub.  Also in this room is a walk-in closet with the standard safe available in all hotel rooms on Disney property.

Disney Boardwalk 1 bedroom bathtub

In the bedroom there is a king-size bed with the two end tables and full dresser.  So many spots to put away your clothes AND souvenirs!

Disney Boardwalk 1 bedroom King bed

I like to stay in the “Epcot Resort Area” when I can.  It’s easy to get around with the boats on Crescent Lake taking you to Epcot, Hollywood Studios, Boardwalk, Yacht Club and Beach Club Resorts as well as the Swan and Dolphin resorts.  There is bus service to the Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom as well as Disney Springs.

There are some terrific dining options for table service meals on the boardwalk like the Flying Fish and Trattoria al Forno.  If I’m honest you can usually find me grabbing a slice of pizza at the window or in the AbracadaBar having a drink.  I wish I liked Margaritas because there’s BoardWalk Joe’s Marvelous Margaritas, but all I have bought from there is a pretzel!

Have you stayed at Disney’s Boardwalk Resort?

Podcast 222 – Genie+ and our January 2024 Disney trip reports

Pixie Dust Fan Podcast Episode 222

Genie+ and our January 2024 Disney trip reports

The ladies finally get down to the details and share their thoughts on Genie+ as they used on their trips.  After Fran spent $200 at Hollywood Studios – they have to debate if it was worth it!

Hear how their travel companions enjoyed their returns to Walt Disney World and what they thought of all the updates.

Find Francine and Carrie online:

Website: https://PixieDustFan.com

Instagram: @PixieDustFan

Carrie on Instagram: @MuppetCrazy

Facebook: Pixie Dust Fan

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Become a Disney focused Travel Agent in Ontario

How do I become a Disney focused Travel Agent in Ontario?

Disney Travel Agency Canada

It is a question I get asked a lot because there isn’t a ton of information available online for people who are new to the travel industry.   There is quite a bit of misinformation and conflicting details, hopefully I can clear some of that up.

(Full disclosure – I have been a travel agent for over 15 years myself and I do own a travel agency.)

First things first – TICO.

If you live in Ontario or work for an Ontario travel agency you MUST be certified by the Travel Industry Council of Ontario (TICO).   TICO is an organization mandated by the Ontario government to govern travel retailers and travel wholesalers registered in Ontario. TICO does not sell any travel services.  Registered TICO agencies and websites provide additional consumer protection that may not be available when booking with agencies based in other countries or provinces. A few of these protections include the compensation fund, travel complaint resolution, education standards, and set financial requirements for travel agencies.

You can find the education standards and requirements for TICO here.

Once you have your TICO certificate you need to decide what travel agency or program you would like to join.  Most times you are set up as an independent contractor  or home-based agent that is commission based.  There are some agencies that pay an hourly wage with little or no commissions that may have a physical location.

Some questions to ask when meeting with a potential host agency:

  • Is this commission based or salary?
  • Is there an expectation of minimum sales?
  • What are the start up and monthly costs?
  • What is the commission split?
  • Do you offer training?
  • What tools do I need?
  • Do your agents charge fees?
  • What perks or benefits are available and when?
  • Can I book things other than Disney and Universal?

These are just some of the things that you should consider when meeting with or starting the application process with a potential agency.  It’s important to understand if you will be a good fit in the team overall.  Who are the agency owners and how involved are they in the day to day operations?  Who will be there to support you as you navigate your first bookings?  Read the contract in detail before you sign as every agency has different terms included.

I cannot stress this enough – please beware of agencies that ‘free’ or ‘discounted’ vacations or who ask you to recruit others.  If your compensation requires you to ‘sign someone up’ – RUN.  These are not travel agencies, they are multi level marketing schemes that recruit new agents to pay the fees to the others.

Disney Travel Agent Areas of Focus

Is it fun to be a Disney vacation planner?  Absolutely!  Planning Disney vacations and having a first time guest come back and tell you how much they loved it is the best feeling ever!  The home-based travel advisors generally set their own hours, build their own marketing plans and nurture their own client base.  They spend as much time (or as little) as they feel necessary to grow and sustain their business.  They may be Disney fans, but the best agent knows this is a job and it is hard work as well as being fun.

Things that you should consider before signing up with an agency:

  • How will you attract potential clients?
  • Do you have personal experience at the Disney parks and Disney resorts to offer professional advice?
  • How will you manage your time in order to give the personal attention and customer service to your clients?
  • Do you have anything that would prohibit you from being available to your clients?
  • Are you willing to invest $$ in your business to get started?

Once you have signed on to join an agency you’ll have access to the College of Disney Knowledge.  This is the online course that all Disney travel planners have access to.  Each supplier has their own versions of online training including Universal Orlando Resort, Marriott hotels and others.

Vacation planners have such an important role in helping determine the best vacation package that meets the client’s needs.  You are expected to offer expert advice, find the best price and monitor new offers that may become available after booking.  There is a lot of work involved for Walt Disney World Resort packages when you consider travel tips for dining, attractions, ticket options and Genie+.  Having accurate information and knowledge of Disney destinations is key to planning the most magical trips for your guests.

Becoming a travel agent was one of the best decisions I ever made.  It really does make me happy to have clients return from a vacation I planned and tell me how many wonderful memories they made.  To know that I was a part of making that happen for them is priceless.

If you would like more information about joining Playcation Travel click here for details.

If you would like to work with an agent to plan your vacation – reach out to one of our agents on the team page and review the myths of using a travel agent here

Zootopia Quotes – Top 12 Inspirational Messages

Zootopia Quotes – Top 12 Inspirational Messages

Zootopia Judy and Nick

One of my absolute favourite movies is Zootopia.  I’m a sucker for a Disney movie that is inspirational and packed with lessons and humour, and this one is one of the best.

Zootopia tells the tale of Judy Hopps (voiced by Ginnifer Goodwin), a very tenacious bunny who has dreams of becoming a police officer.  In this town of animals, she is the very first bunny cop to join the force which brings it’s own challenges.  Throughout the movie we see Judy exude confidence, determination and kindness as she works her case with her new friend Nick Wilde (voiced by Jason Bateman) – who happens to be a fox.  We follow the cute little bunny on her journey from growing up in Bunnyburrow to becoming Officer Judy Hopps.  She deals with negativity from many around her, and it’s how she succeeds in spite of it.

Zootopia Judy Hopps Running

My top 12 memorable quotes from Zootopia

1. “Tomorrow’s another day”  – Judy Hopps

Judy says this while trying to remain positive after a bad day.  Her neighbour replies through the wall “ya but it might be worse!”

This one makes me laugh because I think we can all relate to this.  Judy is trying to be positive but the negativity from external forces is loud and clear!

2.  “Sometimes we come last, but we did our best” – Gazelle

This is a fantastic line in the song “Try Everything” performed by Shakira (Gazelle).  This song should be on your ‘motivational playlist’ if it isn’t already.  It talks about how we all make mistakes but how you should TRY.  I could have written out all of the lyrics – they are that motivational!  “I won’t give up, I won’t give in” – seriously, download and listen.

Zootopia Stu and Bonnie

3.  “It’s great to have dreams” – Bonnie Hopps  “just as long as you don’t believe in them too much.” – Stu Hopps

When her parents are trying to temper a young Judy’s dreams that they don’t believe are achievable.  Judy happily ignores this negativity as they try to tell her there has never been a bunny cop before.  Her reply?  “I guess I’ll have to be the first”.  This one really gets to me as it shows (so clearly) how sometimes very well meaning people in our lives try to discourage us from trying things for fear of failure.

4.  “Hey Judy, I’d just like to say I’m sorry for the way I behaved in my youth. I had a lot of self-doubt, and it manifested itself in the form of unchecked rage and aggression. I was a major jerk.” – Gideon Grey

Gideon is the example of how people change and they shouldn’t be judged based on acts from their youth.  Gideon goes from a bully to being a partner to a bunny carrot farmer.

Zootopia Young Judy Hopps

5.  “Well, he was right about one thing. I don’t know when to quit!” – Judy Hopps

After an altercation with the bully Gideon, young Judy Hopps jumps up more determined than ever to make the world a better place.

Zooptopia Chief Bogo

6.   “Life isn’t some cartoon musical where you sing a little song and all your insipid dreams magically come true. So let it go.” – Chief Bogo (voiced by Idris Elba – his voice lends an extra element of humour when he says this line)

This quote has to make you laugh where he is obviously poking fun at the movies, but it’s also another case where Officer Hopps is being discouraged by those around her.  The Chief says this to Judy after she tells him “I don’t want to be a meter maid, I want to be a real cop”.  Kind of makes you think about how many people in your real life do this to you doesn’t it?  Put a damper on your dreams?

Zootopia Nick Wilde

7.  “Never let them see that they get to you.” – Nick Wilde

While Nick was originally the one to call Judy a dumb bunny, their friendship has matured by this point of the movie where you can see how they care for each other.  He sticks up for her with her boss and proclaims that they will continue their search for the poor missing otter they are searching for.  It’s a moment when you realize that their friendship has grown from the most unlikely pairing.

Zootopia Judy Traffic Cop

8.  “Sir, I’m not just some token bunny” – Judy  “Well then, writing one hundred tickets a day should be easy.” – Chief Bogo.  “A hundred tickets, I’m not gonna write a hundred tickets. I’m gonna write two-hundred tickets! Before noon!” – Judy

This is a great example of how Judy is determined to be good – at whatever she’s doing.  She doesn’t want to be writing tickets, but if she is going to do it – she will be the BEST at it.  She isn’t afraid of hard work and will prove and earn her place.

Zootopia Judy and Mr Big

9. “I will take your kindness and pay it forward” – Mr Big

The big crime boss in the movie is Mr Big – who is an arctic shrew, a very small animal who is surrounded by polar bears for protection.  Nick is begging Judy to stop talking to Mr Big as he tries to hide the fact that she is on the police force.  Mr Big commands the bears to “ice ’em” until his daughter walks in and identifies Judy as the cop that saved her from a flying donut.  Paying kindness forward is always a good lesson and sometimes you get help from the most unlikely places.

Zootopia YAK

10. “Told you Nangi has a mind like a steel trap. Ah, I wish I had a memory like an elephant.” – Yax

This is such a fun segment of the movie where Judy goes to a “naturalist club” for the animals and they are greeted by a Yak named Yax who is voiced by Tommy Chong (best known as half of Cheech & Chong).  Yax is at the reception desk and is trying to help Judy with information about the missing Mr Otterton she’s looking for.  He walks her out to the elephant that was his yoga instructor – certainly the elephant will remember all of the details!  The funny thing is that the elephant named Nangi continues to insist she can’t remember anything, but Yax continues to ask questions with incredible detail in them.  “Yeah, and we both walked him out, and he got into this big old white car with a silver trim. Needed a tune-up, the third cylinder wasn’t firing. Remember that, Nangi?”.  This entire scene illustrates how we assume others have capabilities and skills while completely overlooking them in ourselves!

Zootopia DMV Flash

11.  “What, are you saying that because he’s a sloth he can’t be fast? I thought in Zootopia anyone could be anything.” – Nick Wilde

In this hilarious scene the sloth is in fact painfully slow.  As he repeats the three-humped camel joke that Nick told him, Judy tries to explain she’s in a really big hurry – but he just can’t move any faster.  The irony is, he is judged as a sloth for being slow, but in the end – turns out to be the fastest guy in a car!

12.  Gideon Grey was a jerk who happened to be a fox. I know plenty of bunnies who are jerks. – Judy Hopps

Such a powerful message about not judging based on ‘biology’.  Just because he was a fox – that wasn’t what made him a jerk. Jerks exist in every kind of animal.

Zootopia Graduation

Judy’s speech at the end of the movie welcoming the new recruits to the academy sums it all up perfectly!

“When I was a kid, I thought Zootopia was this perfect place, where everyone got along and anyone could be anything. Turns out, real life is a little bit more complicated than a slogan on a bumper sticker. Real life is messy. We all have limitations, we all make mistakes, which means – hey, glass half full! – we all have a lot in common. And the more we try to understand one another, the more exceptional each of us will be. But we have to try. So no matter what type of animal you are; from the biggest elephant, to our first fox, I implore you – try. Try to make the world a better place. Look inside yourself and recognize that change starts with you. It starts with me. It starts with all of us.”

C’mon – some great lessons right?  Be kind to one another, do the right thing and believe in yourself.

Have you seen Zootopia?  What is your favourite part?

Podcast 221 – Carrie’s Travel Fiasco and Disney’s Quick Service Dining Plan

Pixie Dust Fan Podcast Episode 221

Carrie’s Travel Fiasco and Disney’s Quick Service Dining Plan

​Not only did Francine go to Walt Disney World – so did Carrie!  She kept that secret and is now sharing her adventures.  It was quite a fiasco getting there – but the “jinxies” didn’t win!

Also on this episode the ladies share their thoughts about Disney’s quick service dining plan and using it at Contempo Cafe.

Then it’s on to Pixie Dust – and of course there are puzzles and plane pants!  You don’t want to miss these stories.

Find Francine and Carrie online:

Website: https://PixieDustFan.com

Instagram: @PixieDustFan

Carrie on Instagram: @MuppetCrazy

Facebook: Pixie Dust Fan

Pixie Dust Fan Facebook group: PixieDustFanGroup

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Podcast 220 – When a Disney fan goes to Vegas

Pixie Dust Fan Podcast Episode 220

When a Disney fan goes to Vegas

What happens when a Disney fan goes to Vegas?  How different is the planning and is there any magic?  Podcast friend Dustin is sharing his tips for a Vegas vacation plus the things he would do differently next time.

Find Dustin at Steps To Magic and on other podcast episodes like episode 167 where he shares his trip report along with his dinner at Victoria and Alberts!

The site Dustin shared about the attrations was Vegas.com

Find info about Area 15 including the Omega Mart here

Our podcast talking to Chris about the Disney Immersive experience was episode 179

Find Francine and Carrie online:

Website: https://PixieDustFan.com

Instagram: @PixieDustFan

Carrie on Instagram: @MuppetCrazy

Facebook: Pixie Dust Fan 

Pixie Dust Fan Facebook group: PixieDustFanGroup

Support Pixie Dust Fan by shopping our affiliates

Find Pixie Dust Fan on YouTube: PixieDustFanSite

Podcast editing by Anna Cooper

 

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How late is the Magic Kingdom park open in Walt Disney World?

MK Clock and castle

There are so many things that go into planning a Walt Disney World Resort vacation, including what days to visit what park!  With 4 full theme parks to choose from, Disney Springs and Water Parks – your time at each is very valuable.

So what time does the Magic Kingdom close every day?

The best place to find out the park hours is in the My Disney Experience app or on the official website, but keep reading for the additional hours that you’ll want to know about!

Once you look at the calendar you’ll see that there are caveats to the Magic Kingdom park hours (and the other parks as well).  From early entry, after hours events and extra hours for Disney resort guests – you’ll want to understand what they all mean to figure out the best ways to maximize your vacation time.

Things to consider about park hours:

Early Entry:

Guests staying at Disney Resort hotels and select other hotels can take advantage of a 30-minute early entry into Walt Disney World theme parks every day.  This can be a huge advantage if you wanted to get in to the park early and go straight to the most popular attractions like Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, Jungle Cruise or Space Mountain.  You can get a head start on those lines before the offsite guests are able to enter the park.  For a full list of participating resorts for the early park entry click here.

Magic Kingdom Walking Down Main Street

Rope Drop:

I need to explain what this is because you’ll see this term used in the Disney community.  This is where you basically arrive at the park before opening to be one of the first inside.  The name comes from the times when they would “drop the rope” to let guests in.  With the early theme park entry, you basically get an earlier rope drop than offsite guests and can be walking up Main Street USA while everyone else is still outside of the gates.  This is one of the ways guests get pictures of themselves in front of Cinderella Castle with limited people in the background.

Space Mountain at Dusk

Extended Evening Theme Park Hours:

Guests staying at a Disney Deluxe Resort, Deluxe Villa Resort or other select hotels are able to enjoy extended evening hours on select nights in select theme parks (for years they were called extra magic hours).  For example, one night the Magic Kingdom may close to regular guests at 10pm – but because you’re staying at one of the participating resorts you can stay until midnight!  That’s 2 extra hours of fun and a great way to maximize your time in the park.  Another added bonus is that you can get an extra shot at a virtual queue on the nights with the extended hours.  For all of the details including the list of resorts click here.

MK will close at 6pm sign

Special Events:

Depending on the time of the year that you’re visiting, there are many separately ticketed events that can impact the park hours.  Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party and Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party both require the Magic Kingdom to close early.  The party may start at 7pm for ticket holders – but they ask the daytime guests to leave by 6pm.  This is a significant reduction in the park hours for the Magic Kingdom.  However, it can be one of the BEST days to get in and ride attractions!  Given the reduced hours many people avoid the Magic Kingdom on an event day and the lines are significantly shorter for attractions.  If you have park hopping on your tickets you can go to another one of the Disney parks for the evening, just remember that you won’t see fireworks this day at Magic Kingdom.

The Disney After Hours events don’t generally close the park early, in fact the events start at the parks closing time.  These are also a great way to maximize your attraction wait times in the parks as they sell a limited number of tickets to these events.

When I have the chance to experience the shorter wait times I do some of my favourites like the Haunted Mansion and Peter Pan’s Flight.

What would you do with extra time in the Magic Kingdom?

Podcast 219 – Happy New Year 2024

Pixie Dust Fan Podcast Episode 219

Happy New Year 2024

It’s the start of the new year and there is so much to look forward to.  Carrie and Fran share their plans (or lack of plans!) for the year and their hopes for the Disney parks.  From Zootopia to RunDisney – you don’t want to miss this episode.

Find Francine and Carrie online:

Website: https://PixieDustFan.com

Instagram: @PixieDustFan

Carrie on Instagram: @MuppetCrazy

Facebook: Pixie Dust Fan 

Pixie Dust Fan Facebook group: PixieDustFanGroup

Support Pixie Dust Fan by shopping our affiliates

Find Pixie Dust Fan on YouTube: PixieDustFanSite

Podcast editing by Anna Cooper

 

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Where does the monorail go in Walt Disney World?

Where Does the Monorail Go at Walt Disney World

When Walt Disney World Resort opened on October 1st 1971 the Monorail was an important part of the destination and Magic Kingdom arrival.  Guests would park their cars at the transportation center and then they had the choice of two different routes to the park; ferry boat or monorail. The transportation and ticket center with the 2 options is still in place today if you are arriving by car to the Magic Kingdom.

Now there are so many different transportation options to get you around the property, but the highway in the sky is still a fan favourite!  This iconic mode of transportation does not go everywhere though, there are only certain places you can get to on the monorail.

Where does the monorail go in Walt Disney World?

There are technically 3 separate lines for the monorail

  • Resort monorail
  • Express monorail
  • Epcot monorail

The Resort line is a continuous loop and has the following stops:

Inside the Contemporary Resort with the monorail

The monorail inside Disney’s Contemporary Resort

Each of the above deluxe resorts are classified as “monorail resorts”. The security checkpoints for the monorail are inside each of the resorts and you will go through them before boarding.  While Fort Wilderness and Wilderness Lodge are both considered Magic Kingdom Resort Area hotels, they are not on the monorail lines and have different transportation options for resort guests to get to around.

One important thing (and probably one of my favourite things about the resort monorail route) is that it goes THROUGH the Contemporary Resort.  It was an amazing thing in the 70s and still is now – the monorail goes right through the middle of the hotel.  One of my favourite things to do is sit in the Contempo Cafe and watch the monorails go by.  If you’re eating at Chef Mickey, having a drink at the Outer Rim or just shopping in the grand concourse you can see them passing overhead.

Chef Mickey and the monorail

The express monorail loop runs parallel to the resort loop, but in the opposite direction and has only 2 stops – Magic Kingdom and the Transportation and Ticket Center.  It’s considered express because there are only 2 stops, but it still passes through the Contemporary Resort.  This is one of the ways that Disney is able to manage so many guests at the end of the night leaving the Magic Kingdom, they can pack those monorail trains and send them to the parking lot using the express line quite quickly.

Magic Kingdom Monorail Station

Magic Kingdom monorail station

The third is the Epcot line and it is a continual loop (or they call it express because it has no stops) from the Transportation and Ticket Center to Epcot and back again.  Upon arrival at Epcot the monorail takes a quick trip around Spaceship Earth and just inside of the park before arriving at the monorail station.  It’s a great little view inside of the park before you actually arrive.

Monorail in Epcot

When does the monorail run?

Hours of Operation

  • The Resort Monorail line and Express Monorail line begin operating 30 minutes prior to when Magic Kingdom park opens and stop one hour after Magic Kingdom park closes.
  • The EPCOT Monorail line begins operating 30 minutes prior to when EPCOT opens and stops 2 hours after EPCOT closes.

As things are always changing, it’s best to check the most updated information on the official Disney website before your trip.  For more information on WHO can ride the monorail, see my post here.

For a little history of the monorail, you might want to check out podcast episode 59 where we chatted with Disney Imagineer Bob Gurr.  Bob is known for his work on all things “motorized” including the Autopia cars, the Haunted Mansion Doom Buggies, the Matterhorn Bobsleds and of course the monorails.

Bus or Monorail at Walt Disney World

It’s important to note that while the monorail is a great way to get around, it does not visit Disney Springs, Hollywood Studios or Animal Kingdom parks.  When you visit Walt Disney World for the first time it can be overwhelming trying to figure out how to get around, but rest assured there is always a cast member nearby to direct you.  There are buses, boats and even the Disney Skyliner to get you where you need to be.

Have you been on the monorail?

How Do You Budget And Afford To Go To Disney So Often?

How can you afford Disney

It always amazes me that I get asked the question “How can you afford to go to Disney so often?”.  It’s an uncomfortable question because I never know how to answer it.  Are people expecting me to tell them how much money I earn?

I do have what I like to call an “unmagical job” in the corporate world that pays my bills, but it doesn’t afford a big disposable income.  I have to prioritize my next Disney trip over most other things in order to visit as often as I do.  While I still think it’s an awkward question – I’m going to answer it in hopes that you can learn some different ways to save to visit Walt Disney World Resort.

Here are 10 things I do to budget and afford my Disney vacations

1. I don’t buy expensive clothes, groceries or entertainment at home

Ask anyone I work with in my corporate job, I don’t have an extensive wardrobe.  I keep my work clothes until they don’t fit anymore or fall apart, whichever comes first.  When I hit the grocery stores I’m always looking for the best deals and I will buy no name paper towel, garbage and recycling bags.  I don’t really spend money on entertainment at home either because I’m too old to go clubbing anymore!  When I’m in Disney I will splurge on dinners out and entertainment, but at home it just isn’t something I spend my money on.

Recycle Bags

2.  I do my own repairs at home

It’s amazing the repairs you can do with a toolbox and YouTube video!  I have fixed many things around my house by myself (the toilet running, the shower leaking and resetting the pilot light on my water heater to name a few).  All of these have saved me a bunch of money on professional service calls.  When I can’t fix it myself, I weigh the price of the call out vs the inconvenience.  For example – when my washing machine was erroring out during the spin cycle I discovered I could bypass it by restarting the machine.  It was a royal pain, running up and down the stairs twice for every load of laundry – but the price of repair was the same as 4 nights at one of the value resorts.  I held on to that washing machine as long as I could!

Repairs

I don’t look quite so glamorous when I’m doing my repairs!

3.  I measure all spending in relation to Disney vacations

Before I buy anything, I think about what I could do in Disney for the same money and then determine if it’s worth it.  For example, if I wanted to spend an evening out for a nice dinner and a concert, I could easily spend $150.  For that money I could pay for a Halloween or Christmas party ticket, or 2 really great table service meals, or a night at a Disney resort – I know what I would rather have!  On a smaller scale, 3 steeped teas at Tim Horton’s would be the same as a Dole Whip in the Magic Kingdom.  When you put it in to those terms, it makes it much easier to save money!

Dole Whips

I’ll trade the lovely Tim Horton’s tea for these any day!

4.  Each pay has something for Disney

I have friends at work who say they ‘pay themselves’ on every pay day – they put X amount in a retirement plan or RRSP.  I do something similar, but it’s the Disney fund!  I have a separate savings account that automatically transfers money on pay day for vacations.  It’s a great way to put the money aside before I even think about it.  If I have some extra money that I haven’t ‘automatically’ moved to my Disney fun, I buy Disney gift cards to stack away for my trip.  I use them to pay for my park tickets, my Disney hotels or even just food and treats.  It’s the best way I know to have some extra money available.  I also have a ‘side gig‘ or 2 – basically other jobs that contribute to my vacation fund.  These other jobs are basically Disney money so that I’m not bought by such a tight budget when I travel.

5.  I use the tools that my bank offers me

I have a USD bank account where I deposit the money from point number 4 – that’s where I save.  I also have credit card rewards for flights, checked bags and other travel perks.  These help me get to the Orlando area usually at a discounted rate or reasonable prices.  Find out what options your credit cards offer you and if they don’t have travel perks, get a different one!

6.  I quit smoking

After 30 years I finally quit smoking!   What I spent on cigarettes was insane, but I never gave it a second thought because I NEEDED it.  Now I choose to use the cigarette money for my Walt Disney World Vacation!  While it has been years since I quit, I like to remind myself that for a very long time I would have literally set that money on fire.  It’s how I rationalize it – and it works for me!

7.  I use Google Flights

Gogle Flights helps me find the best priced flights and the day of the week with the cheapest option.  Sometimes the better option is to be on a 6am flight to save $200!  But you also must offset that with the resort costs as well.  Sometimes the cheapest way to fly down means extra cost on the other side for the hotel stay.   Figure out the right time of year that you want to visit and try to avoid peak times.  Then calculate the total cost before committing to anything.

8. I buy an annual pass

​With the calculation of the ticket prices for multiple trips, I know what the ‘break even’ point is for me and how many trips I need to take to make it worth it.  If you’re planning to visit once or twice per year, then an annual pass wouldn’t make sense.  You then need to figure out what Disney parks you’re going to visit and if you will get a park hopper ticket or not.  These are all important decisions for your vacation plans.

Passholder Entrance

I don’t know what I would do without my annual pass!

9. I stay onsite at one of the Walt Disney World Resorts

Having the transportation included while you’re on Disney property is just a convenience I’m not willing to give up.  I’ve saved and budgeted for the trip – I don’t want to waste hours every day going back and forth to some resort that’s 30 minutes away to save some money.  While it sounds like a great idea to save on the hotel cost, you spend it in your time.

I am a Disney Vacation Club member – but that doesn’t always cover my hotel room.  Availability is not the greatest because the best time to book is 11 months in advance (and I’m not planning that far ahead!).  Often times I am paying cash for my resort and it just depends on how much money I have tucked away.  Sometimes I’m staying in deluxe resorts, and sometimes it’s a value resort, it really just depends.

Now don’t get me wrong about my Disney Vacation Club, it was the right investment for me when I bought it.  I bought in before Bay Lake Tower opened because I didn’t have to finance it for long and the Canadian dollar was good at that time.  If you have to finance it and then add the maintenance fees – you won’t be ‘saving’ money for years.  To find out more about Disney Vacation Club – see my blog here.

I need to get back to Disney

It really is my happy place, so I make it a priority in my life.

10.  I use a travel agent

Full disclosure – I own a travel agency so I guess it’s me 🙂 but that doesn’t take away from the fact that using a travel agent that specializes in Disney vacations will save you money.  There are so many myths about using a Disney Travel Agent but they offer so much value!  They know all of the special offers and will monitor them should they change.  They can provide information for you on the theme parks, dining plans and they will find you the best VALUE for your dollar.  Just remember that the cheapest isn’t always the best value.

There you have it, my list of things that I do at home to make sure I have money for my Disney vacations!    It’s clear that I prioritize my Disney vacations, because they are important to me.  These trips are what make me happy – so how could I not make them a priority in my life?

Do you do any of these things?

How do YOU save for your Disney vacations?

Podcast 218 – MSC Recap and a look ahead

Pixie Dust Fan Podcast Episode 218

MSC Recap and a look ahead

Carrie and Fran are sharing the recap of their final days on board the MSC Meraviglia.  They ponder the comparisons to other cruises (like Disney) and how that kept them busy!  From Love It or List It to spas, Griswolds and puzzles, they share the details and the laughs.

Find Francine and Carrie online:

Website: https://PixieDustFan.com

Instagram: @PixieDustFan

Carrie on Instagram: @MuppetCrazy

Facebook: Pixie Dust Fan 

Pixie Dust Fan Facebook group: PixieDustFanGroup

Support Pixie Dust Fan by shopping our affiliates

Find Pixie Dust Fan on YouTube: PixieDustFanSite

Podcast editing by Anna Cooper

 

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Podcast 217 – Our MSC Cruise Part 1

Pixie Dust Fan Podcast Episode 217

Our MSC Cruise – Part 1

It’s time to CRUISE!  Carrie and Fran have decided they need a vacation to “do nothing” and they’ve decided to cruise on the MSC Meraviglia.  The ladies are sharing their first few days on board.  From spa visits to the lack of butter – they’re covering it all!

Find Francine and Carrie online:

Website: https://PixieDustFan.com

Instagram: @PixieDustFan

Carrie on Instagram: @MuppetCrazy

Facebook: Pixie Dust Fan 

Pixie Dust Fan Facebook group: PixieDustFanGroup

Support Pixie Dust Fan by shopping our affiliates

Find Pixie Dust Fan on YouTube: PixieDustFanSite

Podcast editing by Anna Cooper

 

Don’t forget to sign up to stay in touch with Pixie Dust Fan news!

Podcast 216 – Our Next Vacation – MSC Cruising

Pixie Dust Fan Podcast Episode 216

Our Next Vacation – MSC Cruising

Carrie and Fran both needed a change of scenery, but the regular Orlando getaway was not working.  Resorts, flights, dates – they just couldn’t get it together.  Then Carrie had a brilliant idea – let’s try a cruise we’ve never done before!  From booking to sailing 3 weeks later, the ladies are sharing their thought process and what surprised them the most about this trip.

Find Francine and Carrie online:

Website: https://PixieDustFan.com

Instagram: @PixieDustFan

Carrie on Instagram: @MuppetCrazy

Facebook: Pixie Dust Fan 

Pixie Dust Fan Facebook group: PixieDustFanGroup

Support Pixie Dust Fan by shopping our affiliates

Find Pixie Dust Fan on YouTube: PixieDustFanSite

 

 

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Can anyone ride the monorail at Walt Disney World?

Can anyone ride the monorail at Walt Disney World?

The short answer is yes, anyone can ride the monorail at Walt Disney World Resort.

Before you start planning your monorail adventures, here are some things you should know about this iconic Disney transportation.

Monorail at Epcot

What is the Disney monorail?

The monorail is an integral part of the transportation system at Walt Disney World and an important part of the original plan for the Magic Kingdom.  Walt Disney’s vision for the resort in Florida was that guests would leave the real world behind when they entered.  The Seven Seas Lagoon separated the guest parking lot from the entrance to Magic Kingdom Park.  When the park opened in 1971, guests parked their cars at the transportation center and had the choice of two different routes to the park; ferry boat or monorail.   This is still in place today if you are arriving by car.

Disney Imagineer Bob Gurr based the design of the Walt Disney World monorail system on the original ones he designed at Disneyland Resort while giving it an updated look.  Bob Gurr is known for his work on all things “motorized” including the Autopia cars, the Haunted Mansion Doom Buggies and the Matterhorn Bobsleds. For more information on the fascinating Bob Gurr – listen to podcast episode 59 where we got to chat with him about his work with Walt Disney.

Monorail with the Contemporary

Where does the monorail go?

The options for guests to ride the monorail are on one of three lines:

  • Magic Kingdom Express Line
  • Resort Line
  • Epcot Line

The Magic Kingdom Express Line brings guests from the Transportation and Ticket Center (TTC) to the Magic Kingdom.  It’s a complete loop that only makes those two stops as is essential for transporting guests at the end of a busy night quickly.

The Resort Line is a full loop that stops at the resorts as well as the TTC and Magic Kingdom.  It runs on a separate parallel track to the Magic Kingdom Express line.  The Resort Line stops at Magic Kingdom park, Disney’s Contemporary Resort, Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa, Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort and the Transportation and Ticket Center (TTC).

Disney Resort Monorail

The Epcot Line goes from the TTC to Epcot and back again on a continuous loop.

While these lines operate primarily as transportation between the stops, they also offer unique views on the journey!

Who Can Ride the monorail at Walt Disney World?

Now, let’s get to the main question: Can anyone ride the monorail? The answer is “absolutely” at Walt Disney World.  The monorail is open to all guests, regardless of whether you’re staying at a Disney Resort, have a park ticket, or are just visiting for the day. Since the stops are outside of the theme parks, you do not require a ticket to ride.  The monorail is one of the few Disney attractions that you can enjoy without needing theme park tickets.

It is important to note that this is NOT the case in Disneyland California where the monorail stop is INSIDE of the park. You must have valid park admission in Disneyland to ride.

Figment and Monorail

Are the Disney monorails accessible?

The Walt Disney World monorails are incredibly convenient for people with mobility devices such as wheelchairs and scooters.  When the train pulls in to the station and the doors open, a Cast Member will provide a ramp for you to drive right in!  For those with electric mobility devices it can be difficult maneuvering your scooter in to the narrow spot on the bus, but the monorail doesn’t have that challenge.  The Disney Skyliner also offers a ‘drive on’ experience as well.  For information on renting an electric scooter (ECV) see my blog post here.

Monorail Orange

Where do you get on the monorail?

  • If you are resort guests staying at one of the 3 deluxe resorts on the monorail line there will be a monorail station right inside of your hotel!
  • If you are arriving by car to the Magic Kingdom, you will park at the TTC and board the monorail there.
  • If you’ve got the park hopper option on your tickets it is the best way to hop between Epcot and Magic Kingdom – you transfer at the TTC between lines.

Basically anyone can get on at any stop and go for a ride!  Sometimes it’s fun to do the resort loop and get off to look in the gift shops at the resorts or grab a bite to eat.

Hours of operation:

  • The resort and express monorail begin operating 30 minutes prior to when Magic Kingdom park opens and stop one hour after Magic Kingdom park closes.
  • The EPCOT line begins operating 30 minutes prior to when EPCOT opens and stops 2 hours after EPCOT closes.

Monorail inside the contemporary

Tips for your monorail adventures:

  • The monorail is incredibly busy at park opening and closing and you will experience long lines.  If you’re riding for fun, try off peak times for the best experience.
  • Do NOT lean on the doors.  Keep children away from the doors and if possible, get a seat and enjoy the views from the windows.
  • When entering the parks and/or monorails, be prepared for security checks.  Each guest will walk through detectors and be subject to bag searches.  If you have an umbrella in. your bag or glasses case – hold them out in front of you when you walk through the detectors for smoother screening.
  • The Monorail lines are continuous loops, which means you can stay on board and enjoy multiple loops around the resort if you like.  If you miss your stop – it will come back again!
  • The monorail is fun, but it doesn’t go everywhere! For example, there is no monorail access for Disney Springs, the water parks, Disney’s Hollywood Studios, Animal Kingdom or many of the Disney resorts on property.  Know where you’re going and map out the most efficient transportation options to get there.  

The monorail is such an iconic piece of Walt Disney World history and is an impressive sight for Disney guests.  I don’t care how old you are, the first time you see the monorail go through the Contemporary Resort, it’s beyond cool!  I could sit at the Contempo Cafe and watch it all day.

Have you been on the monorail?  What did you love about it?

Podcast 215 – Our thoughts on Once Upon A Studio

Pixie Dust Fan Podcast Episode 215

Our Thoughts – Once Upon A Studio

After getting a preview of Once Upon a Studio at Destination D23 the ladies were anxious to see it again.  As soon as it was available on Disney Plus they both watched it multiple times and agreed, it was everything a Disney fan wanted as a tribute to 100 years.  On this episode of the podcast they are sharing their thoughts about the characters, the interactions and some fun details that you might not know!

Show Notes:

D23 Podcast was episode 212 for the full review of the event.

Find Francine and Carrie online:

Website: https://PixieDustFan.com

Instagram: @PixieDustFan

Carrie on Instagram: @MuppetCrazy

Facebook: Pixie Dust Fan 

Pixie Dust Fan Facebook group: PixieDustFanGroup

Support Pixie Dust Fan by shopping our affiliates

Find Pixie Dust Fan on YouTube: PixieDustFanSite

Podcast editing by Anna Cooper

 

Don’t forget to sign up to stay in touch with Pixie Dust Fan news!

Are backpacks allowed in Walt Disney World parks?

When you’re planning your trip to Walt Disney World, you inevitably begin to think about what kind of bags you will need to bring.  You automatically start thinking about your suitcases, your passport holder, your carry on – all of the things that you’ll need to get there.  But what about once you arrive?

Are you allowed to bring your backpack to the Disney parks?

The short answer is yes, backpacks are allowed in Walt Disney World.

There are specific requirements for what is allowed and you should always check here for the official rules of the Disney bag policy.  The official rules include dimensions so that they can limit the size to be more personal use vs full suitcase.  In the list you will also find all of the things you should NOT put in your bag such as glass containers, extendable selfie sticks, drones or folding chairs as you will be denied entry to the parks with any of these items.

Now that we know backpacks are allowed in the parks, is it a good idea to bring one?  It all depends on how you’re going to experience the parks, what attractions you’re going to go on and how much you want to carry.

Let me tell you about my Disney park bag.  I actually carry 2 bags when I go to the Disney theme parks.

I always have with me a crossbody type of bag (it used to be a fanny pack back in the day and I hear they’re back in style!).  This smaller bag carries my wallet, lip balm, cell phone, portable charger and hand sanitizer.  I love the easy access of the bag for my items that I use the most, including my favourite credit card (ok maybe it’s not great that I have quick access to pull that out!).  You can see my bag in most of my Photopass pictures since I rarely take it off.  When I’m heading to Disney Springs or just out to the resorts in the evening, I always have this bag with me.

In addition to my crossbody bag I have a sling one that I carry on my back with the bigger things that I don’t need to access as often.  In here I carry the larger items like my own water bottles (my Swell and an extra bottle usually), a hair brush, medication, poncho or umbrella.  In the summer months I might also have my cooling towel in there until it’s time to use it.  You are permitted to bring your own food and snacks in to the park as well, so if I have any I keep them in here.  I would put some of the best backpacks up against my sling bag because it’s lighter and I’m not tempted to fill it with “extra” stuff I won’t use.  It’s just big enough for what I need to carry around the parks.

Pixie Dust Fan Disney Park Bag

Both of my bags are not water proof – but are water resistant.  It helps a little on the water rides or when there’s a light rainfall, but generally I rely on the umbrella and poncho to keep things dry.  Remember you need to take your umbrella OUT of your bag when going through the security checks and hold it out straight in front of you.  It isn’t a huge deal if you don’t, but the scanners won’t know what it is and you will have to go for secondary screening.   That is another benefit of the sling bag instead of the larger bags it that it makes it easier for security personnel to inspect vs a bag with 12 zipper pockets.

The other benefit to the sling bag plus the smaller one is that they are a lot more “maneuverable” on rides when you need to fit them in to different spots.  While my roller coaster days are generally done, I know that my bags fit easily at my feet on rides like Expedition Everest at Disney’s Animal Kingdom or Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster at Hollywood Studios.  I just like to wrap the slings around my legs to keep them in place.  Tron over at the Magic Kingdom has free lockers provided since there really isn’t anywhere to store ANY size bag on that ride vehicle.

Expedition Everest at Animal Kingdom

I can get away with just 2 bags because I don’t have any young children with me anymore.  When you’re traveling with a diaper bag and young kids, the strollers come in handy so that you’re less concerned with the weight of the bag.  Just a reminder not to leave any personal items in your stroller or bag when you park it to visit an attraction.  While it is the happiest place, things can easily go missing if left unattended.

Lockers at Disney Animal Kingdom

The goal in my mind is to bring as little from your hotel room to the parks as possible.  If there are things that you must bring but don’t want to carry around all day, there are lockers available at each park entrance where you can store your items in case you need them.  Just remember at the end of the day to go back for them!

What sort of bag to you take when you visit the parks?  Let me know what kind and what you carry inside!

Podcast 214 – It’s PUZZLE time!

Pixie Dust Fan Podcast Episode 214

It’s PUZZLE time!

Carrie has been talking about this puzzle competition for MONTHS!  It has been her pixie dust on every episode since she signed up, she was so excited.  Now Carrie and Glenda are sharing their experience at their very first puzzle competition.  How did they do?  Did they FINISH the puzzles they were given?  How many competitors are there at one of these?  Find out on this episode!

Show Notes:

Puzzles Canada:  https://www.puzzlescanada.ca

Canadian Jigsaw Puzzle Association Facebook Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/672995323505989/

Karen Puzzles YouTube channel:  https://www.youtube.com/c/KarenPuzzles