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.

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!


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?

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?

FuelRod at Walt Disney World – Your Portable Charger

The Fuel Rod is one of my ‘must have’ items when I visit Walt Disney World.  It is in my bag at all times when I am visiting the Disney parks.

One of my biggest challenges at Walt Disney World has always been my phone battery life. Taking videos and photos, posting on social media, and using the My Disney Experience app for Disney Genie, checking wait times and mobile ordering drains my phone’s battery.  Some days my phone would barely make through the afternoon without going in to “low battery” mode from the full charge I started the day with!

You can charge your phone here too!

​There are places in the parks that you can charge your mobile device if needed.  One spot that has some great access to charging stations is over near the Tangled washrooms in the Magic Kingdom.  There you will find  are some very cute little tree stumps with ports to charge your phone and/or plug in your Electric Scooter (ECV).  You can find access to power if you need to plug in, but for me that just isn’t convenient for my phone.  I want to be able to charge on the go and not have to sit in one spot.  That’s the big benefit of portable chargers.

I had purchased a portable phone charger from Amazon, and that served me well for a bit – but I had to remember to recharge it up every night when I got back to the hotel room.  While these other chargers are helpful on other vacations, there is a better option for my Disney trips.

The FuelRod kit is $30 USD + tax and available at many locations throughout Walt Disney World Resort and Disneyland Resort.

Inside of the Fuel Rod package you will find:

  • One fully charged portable phone charger
  • One 3.5” USB to micro-USB cable (for most Android devices)
  • One USB C Adapter (needed for some Android devices)
  • One 3.5” Apple Lightning to USB cable (for iPhone generations 5+)

Having that first fully charged FuelRod enables you to charge your phone immediately after purchase.  The convenience of it vs the portable battery you can buy on Amazon is the free unlimited swaps at no additional cost.

Contemporary Resort FuelRod Station

Contemporary Resort FuelRod Station

I always carry my own charging cable to plug in to the FuelRod USB port so that it’s long enough to keep the FuelRod in my bag while my phone is out.  The cables that come in the kit are great, but they aren’t long enough for me to use my phone and charge at the same time.

You probably never noticed the FuelRod Kiosks on Disney property before, but now you’ll be looking for them.  The machines are actually themed depending on their location, check out the pictures to see the different looks.  While they’re all the same shape and operate the same way – they do look a little different at each location.

Animal Kingdom FuelRod Station

If you are heading the theme parks want to make sure that your cell phones are always charged, this is the answer for you.  You could buy 1 to share with your family because the unlimited free swaps means that you always have access to a fresh battery.  Just make sure you stop by to swap it out when you see one of the FuelRod stations – while there are a lot of them, they aren’t always close when you NEED it.  I got caught last trip I should have stopped in the store at Epcot on my way out via International Gateway and of course the ONLY one was at the Boardwalk.  That wasn’t where I was going!  I waited until I got to Disney Springs to swap it out instead.

Coronado Springs FuelRod Station

You can check on the Disney site for a list of FuelRod locations here for Walt Disney World and here for Disneyland.
View my YouTube short here on how easy it is to swap them!

There was some talk about a fee for swaps some time ago and a class action lawsuit, but that went away as quickly as it appeared.

How do you keep your phones charged?

The Best Breakfast Options in Walt Disney World

They say breakfast is the most important meal of the day, why should it be any different on vacation?  The question is – what are the BEST breakfast options in Walt Disney World?

As you would guess, there isn’t just one – and the answer isn’t simple.  It depends on the food you like and your plans for the day.  Do you want a heavy or light breakfast? Are you in a rush?  Do you only want healthy or are you happy to have all sugary goodness?

There are so many different options for breakfast on your Walt Disney World vacation that we need to break it down in to categories.

  1. Order groceries / snacks from a local service to have ‘on the go’ stuff for the morning
  2. Eat at a quick service location or grab a snack in the park
  3. Have a full sit-down meal at a table service place (bonus for characters in attendance!)

Pretty broad categories aren’t they?  There are also many options within each category, so to make it easy I’ll give you my personal top picks for each.

Order Groceries

Having something in your room to grab and go is a great idea for people that want to be at the park before it opens and don’t want to be up extra early for a breakfast reservation.  They either bring snacks from home or order some to be delivered to the resort (read our blog here for the service we use).  Maybe some granola bars that they might even eat on the bus on the way to the Disney parks.  While each resort room has at least a ‘beverage cooler’ – they aren’t really big.  I would suggest the majority of your snacks shouldn’t need to be refrigerated if you plan on keeping some drinks in the cooler too.  If you’re staying at a 1+ bedroom villa with a full kitchen, this of course isn’t an issue since you have a full size fridge.

Quick Service Restaurants

Disney uses the term “quick service” to describe a location where you essentially seat yourself.  It’s like a ‘fast food’ location where you order on the app or at a counter and then take your food to your table on your own.

There are SO many quick service locations throughout Walt Disney World and EVERY resort has one.  Some are better than others, but when it comes to breakfast – there are a few menu items that deserve a call out.

The Bounty Platter

1.  The Bounty Platter

This breakfast has a few different variations around property depending on where you get it, but it’s fundamentally the same.  Scrambled eggs, meat (either sausage or bacon) and potatoes (usually tots or hash).  Sometimes it comes with a waffle, biscuit or fruit.  This is my go-to breakfast and bonus points when I get it at Disney’s Contemporary Resort where I can watch the monorails go by.  It’s the perfect way to start my day and I have never had a bounty platter I didn’t like!

2.  Fresh Fruit Waffle Sandwich

This is a great breakfast treat at Sleepy Hollow in the Magic Kingdom – full of fun fruit and chocolate.. who wouldn’t want this??  It’s a great spot to hit mid-morning in the Magic Kingdom after you’ve done a few attractions.  There is only outdoor seating here (and not much of it) so you will most likely need to eat on the go.

3.  The Cinnamon Roll

Yes you can get cinnamon rolls around property, but the gigantic ones found at Gaston’s Tavern in the Magic Kingdom are legendary.  You could easily split it with someone else if you felt like sharing, but no shame if you want it all to yourself!  You can ask for extra icing too – just to make sure it’s all coated.  It’s the perfect amount of sugar to kick start your day.

4.  Breakfast bowls

This is a yummy treat that I’ve found at a few different locations including Woody’s Lunch Box in Hollywood Studios.  Tater tots (or potato barrels they sometimes call them), gravy, eggs and green onions – so good.  It totally hits the spot, but I wouldn’t do Slinky right after eating it!

Breakfast Bowl at Woodys Lunchbox

Breakfast Bowl at Woodys Lunchbox

5.  Starbucks anything

Yep – any of the pastries from the Starbucks or the breakfast sandwiches are good to grab and go.  I find this is the preferred choice of the adults in the party that really need their Starbucks fix to get going.

6.  Mickey Waffles

I couldn’t do this list without including a breakfast of Mickey-shaped waffles!  You can find waffle breakfasts at many of the quick service locations and it usually comes with a protein like bacon or sausage.  Sometimes they aren’t even all Mickey!

Minnie Waffles at Walt Disney World

If you look closely you will see they aren’t all Mickey!

Table Service Restaurants

A table service restaurant is where you are seated by a cast member and the food is ordered via a server and brought to you by them as well.  Moderate and deluxe resorts have table service restaurants where the value resorts do not.  You can also find many inside the theme parks and at Disney Springs.

Some of my favourite table service breakfast spots:

1.  Topolino’s Terrace

This is a fantastic breakfast spot where you get to dine with the characters as well!  Located at Disney’s Riviera Resort, it’s an easy trip on the Skyliner after breakfast to go to Epcot or Hollywood Studios.  What I like about this one is that it’s not a buffet (as so many character meals are) and the food is made to order.  The show is terrific and the food is yummy. I once did this character breakfast solo and enjoyed it just as much as I did with my friends.

2.  Steakhouse 71

Located in the Contemporary Resort this is a little hidden gem.  The menu is varied and offers choices for everyone,  While this post is about breakfast, I’m happy to report that all 3 meals are terrific at Steakhouse 71.

 3.  Kona Cafe

I feel like the Disney community would be incredibly angry if I didn’t include this one.  Kona at Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort is famous for the Tonga Toast dish which is Banana-stuffed Sourdough French Toast rolled in Cinnamon-Sugar.  Sounds amazing, but if I’m honest, I don’t love it.

I enjoy breakfast at Kona and normally get the eggs and protein – but not the Tonga Toast.  I have friends though that think it’s amazing, and this is why the “best” is so subjective!

Tonga Toast

Tonga Toast

4.  Chef Mickey’s, Crystal Palace and Tusker House

Alright – this is where the Disney community has hyped up these locations (and rightfully so) but the food isn’t the draw here, it’s the characters.  The breakfast buffet experience may differ slightly across locations, but that really isn’t what you’re there for.

Chef Mickey’s is of course hosted by the main mouse himself and is located inside of Disney’s Contemporary Resort.  This makes a great choice for the Magic Kingdom days where it’s a short walk to the park after breakfast.  

The Crystal Palace is inside of the Magic Kingdom and is hosted by Winnie The Pooh and friends

Tusker House is located in Disney’s Animal Kingdom and makes for a great option to start your day at that park where Donald Duck and his friends entertain.

Fresh Fruit Plate

As you can imagine there are so many breakfast options that everyone will have a different opinion what the best one is.  As you can tell, I’m more of a ‘quick service’ gal vs a sit-down meal at breakfast although I do enjoy them occasionally.

Whether you choose to start your day with a character dining experience, a granola bar on the go or a bounty platter, they are all a ‘good breakfast’ to you.  I often see people online being upset before they even GO on vacation because they didn’t get a reservation at Cinderella’s Royal Table.  While it’s a unique experience, it isn’t everything and will not make or break the trip.  Enjoy the delicious food, the experiences and the magic wherever you go.

Did I miss any of your favourites??  Let me know in the comments below!

Top 11 Reasons To Take A Solo Trip To Walt Disney World

Top 11 reasons to take a solo trip to Walt Disney World

Magic Kingdom Walking Down Main Street

When most people think of a Walt Disney World vacation they think of a “family trip”.  The most magical destination has traditionally been marketed to kids and families, but does that mean others aren’t welcome?  Will they not have a good time?

There are a lot of different posts on social media making fun of “Disney Adults” and those who visit without kids, but honestly – I don’t understand the issue!  It’s the most magical place, why should it be JUST for kids?  Aren’t we ALL entitled to a little escape?  Some happiness and Pixie Dust?  Well I think YES!  Not only should you do it – I’m here to give you 11 reasons why it’s even MORE fun when you go solo!

First I have to make the caveat – I LOVE vacationing with my family and friends, it’s a ton of fun to have people with you that can share the experiences with.  It’s also AMAZING to see Disney through the eyes of a child, there is nothing quite like it.  While I really do enjoy my time on vacation with family and friends – it is a whole other vacation when I’m there solo.

Here are my top 11 reasons to do a solo Disney trip!

1.  Go when you want

Picking vacation days at the right time of the year and flight times that work for everyone can be a challenge.  Sometimes it’s hard to coordinate work, school, social commitments etc.  Going solo means you go when it’s best for YOU!  You can book the trip as early or late as you’d like.  Want to book flights a week before or a year before?  No problem!  Seat selection may not be important to you if you’re solo and want to just wing it.  Want to go for 3 days or 10?  The choice is totally YOURS.

The other benefit along the lines of going when you want is going to the PARKS when you want.  You can choose to sleep in or get up and arrive for rope drop.  Are you a night owl that wants to stay till the very end?  Or would you like to be in bed before the fireworks?  You get to arrive and leave whenever you would like, the choice is yours.

Arrival time is up to you!

2.  Stay where you want

With all of the resorts at Walt Disney World it is difficult to make the decision of where to stay.  Being solo you don’t have anyone to split the cost (see point 8 below) but you do get to pick a Disney resort that makes sense for YOU!  The room, the drawers, the bed and bathroom are all YOURS, no sharing here!  If you want to have the TV on all night or set the temperature to frozen, there is no one to complain.  You would be surprised how much more enjoyable a room is when you get to set the temperature to your preference.

3.  You get to really wander the parks

When you visit the parks solo for the first time, you’ll realize what a different experience it is to ‘wander’.  You don’t realize when you’re with other people how often you are trying to find the consensus of where you’re going and what you’re doing.  When you’re alone in the parks you realize you get to be free to just go where the mood takes you!

Remy in the bench at EPCOT

I have had a great time wandering the parks and just stopping to look at things I never noticed before.  I didn’t have to say to anyone “hang on a sec” while I admired something in a window or if I wanted to spontaneously get off of the train at the stop we pulled in to because I wanted a closer look at something – I could.  For a Disney fan this is a big plus to just stop and look at things that no one else cares about.

4.  Ride (or don’t ride) whatever attractions you want

It’s all about you!  Ride the Carousel of Progress 3 times in a row?  No problem!  Don’t ride a single thing?  You can do that!  I love the freedom of wandering through the park and seeing the Tiki Room or Country Bears going in for a showing and just zipping in at the last minute.

Enjoying some A/C in the Tiki Room!

I get to go at my own pace and just enjoy everything that I want to see – and nothing that I don’t!  When you’re visiting with a larger group you are constantly trying to make sure you are taking everyone’s wants in to consideration.  You can enjoy your favorite rides as many times as you like without any eye rolls!

5.  Don’t wait in long lines for some popular attractions!

Have you heard of a single-rider line?  Some of the longest waits like Test Track, Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run,  Expedition Everest and Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster have single rider lines.  Even for some attractions that do not have a designated “single rider” line – they will call out for any parties of 1 when they’re trying to fill a vehicle.  In these cases you get moved up the line quickly just for being alone.

6.  Eat where you want

Walt Disney World is usually pretty good about having something for everyone at a restaurant, but it is much easier to find your favourite menus when you don’t have to consider another palate.  If you are a seafood lover or a mean and potatoes – you get to pick where you want to eat.  Making an advanced dining reservation is still advisable for a party of 1, but sometimes it’s easier to get last minute too.  What is it like dining at sit-down restaurants alone?  It’s not as scary as you think.  I have even done a character meal by myself and loved every minute of it.  You can take your time eating and really savour the delicious food you’re having especially at the table service restaurants, it can be very relaxing.

For the quick service restaurants it’s so much easier to find a SEAT when you’re there by yourself.  Have you ever tried to find seats for a large group at meal time in a quick service?  Ummm,… It’s stressful!  I once left the Magic Kingdom to take the monorail to the Grand Floridian for lunch because I wanted to try a new sandwich on the menu there.  It was delicious and totally spur of the moment.

7.  Snack when and where you want

Ok – I know I talk about food in number 6, but snacking is a whole other thing!  Fancy some ice cream at 11am instead of lunch?  You can choose that.  Want to buy 3 cupcakes from the Main Street bakery to eat for breakfast the next morning?  No judgement from anyone.  Being able to stop when I’m hungry and keep going when I’m not is a huge benefit to a solo vacation.

8.  Save on costs

You’re only paying for 1 person – so it is cheaper in every aspect except the hotel if you would normally split it with another person.  The value resorts are perfect for saving a little as a solo adult (my favourite is Pop Century).  You only need one park ticket, one drink/snack/meal, one lightning lane or Genie plus – that’s it.  Somehow a $6 cupcake doesn’t sound so bad when you only have to buy one of them.

Dole Whip Cupcake

9.  Change your mind whenever you want

This is a big one for me and a complete revelation on my first solo trip – I could EASILY change my mind about things during the day and no one cared.  I could go to one of the Epcot festivals and decide it was too busy, so I take my park hopper ticket and go to Animal Kingdom for a stroll through the trails.  Whatever good idea I have, I can do it.  At the end of the day it’s all about what made me happy and how much time I spend in each park is totally up to me.

10.  Get as many photos as you want

I LOVE getting Memory Maker and I stop and pose for pics with all the photopass photographers I see!  They typically make me do stupid poses when I’m alone and they are always fun pics to share.  I’m not always good at selfies – so this really helps.  My travel companions aren’t always ‘game’ for getting all the pics.

It takes patience to wait for everyone to get out of the picture

I also get to stop and TAKE the pictures I want.  Sometimes I stand and wait for the Monorail to go by or the crowds to move so I can get the picture I hoped for.  I am not concerned about spending time just standing around because that’s one of my favorite things to do, stand around and people watch.

11.  It’s a safe place for a solo trip

I always feel safe at Walt Disney World – but that’s not to say that you abandon common sense.  Obviously you should follow all of the standard safety tips you do anywhere in the world, but comparatively speaking – it’s a pretty safe place to be.  There are always people around, guests and cast members – you would REALLY have to go out of your way to be alone in an unsafe spot here.  No matter what – always be vigilant, but you can have FUN!

I know that so many people have asked me about solo adventures and the best way to do a Walt Disney World trip alone and I can tell you from experience just do it!  It seems so scary when you’re thinking about it, but I promise you that it is so much fun.

The first time I was at Walt Disney World alone I was there for just 2 days after a trip with some friends.  I’m very comfortable with ‘alone time’ at home, but I wasn’t sure what it would be like in my favourite place with no one to talk to.  What I noticed was that there were so many more ‘solo’ people I had never noticed before.

Are you ever REALLY alone in Walt Disney World? I’m always making friends!

I was standing waiting to go in to Be Our Guest for my first meal alone when I started chatting with someone else who happened to be there alone too.  It really is quite common because you could be there with other people and just decided to go your separate ways for a few hours.

No one knows what your situation is and quite honestly, no one cares!  Others are there enjoying their family vacations or solo trips and aren’t bothered by what anyone else is doing.

If you’ve been considering a solo trip to Walt Disney World – do it!  You might be surprised how different the parks and resorts feel when you’re there by yourself.  I once spent a month there (primarily alone) and it was one of the BEST trips of my life.  Again (for friends and family that might be reading this) – I do enjoy visiting with others, it’s just a different experience.

Have you done a trip solo?  Or are you thinking of one?

Let me know in the comments what you loved about it.

If you want more information listen to podcast 197 where we chat about it with our friend Katie.

Renting an electric scooter (ECV) at Walt Disney World

If you (or a member of your party) want to visit Walt Disney World but are worried about mobility issues, the answer might be easier than you think.

Many people have mobility challenges in their everyday lives that they can manage well at home.  They might choose to only go short distances that don’t require much walking, or they may use a walker or a wheelchair to get around at home.  They may use a mobility scooter, but aren’t able to take it with them when they travel.  How could someone with these challenges enjoy a Walt Disney World Resort vacation?  By renting a device that will allow them to experience the Disney parks without worrying about the long distances of walking the entire day!

Rent from an outside vendor or at the parks?

If you plan to only rent just for a day or two to get around a specific park then renting at one of the Walt Disney World theme parks might be the route to take.  There are some challenges with renting the Disney ECVs though:

  • ECVs are available on a first-come, first-served basis.
  • Reservations are not accepted, and quantities are limited.
  • ECVs may not be removed from the destination where they were rented.

If leaving one theme park and visiting another, you can present your rental receipt with your deposit to secure another ECV on the same day at a second park if one is available.  At $50 USD per day to rent (+ a refundable deposit) – the price can quickly add up for Walt Disney World scooter rentals.  If you think you will need it for more than 1 day, it is so much easier to rent from a third-party vendor.  Most offer free delivery and you don’t need to have a backup plan if there are no scooters available at the parks.

ECV Wait List MK

The featured provider for Walt Disney World is ScooterBug, they have an agreement with Disney that they can drop off and pick up your equipment at your Disney Resort hotels bell services without you being there. Other companies such as Buena Vista Scooters offer some great products and different options, but you do have to arrange to meet them for pick up.  Given the ease of use, my personal experience of late has been with ScooterBug.

Due to medical issues in my family, my sister needed to have an electric scooter to visit Walt Disney World.  While at home she manages short distances (or with a walker), there was no way for her to experience the parks with her limited mobility.   Given this is not a device she uses at home, there is a bit of a learning curve for driving one!

When you get the scooter the first thing I advise is to practice driving it around at the resort on the slowest speed.  Get a good handle on how to maneuver it before venturing in to spaces with lots of people or tight spaces.

Bus or Monorail

Disney Transportation:

Getting around on the Monorail, Skyliner and Friendship Boats is fairly straight forward.  Driving in/out of the vehicles is not difficult and the cast members are always offering advice and encouragement.  Getting on the Disney buses is a whole other story!  When the buses pull up they load the ECVs first.  The spot on the bus is narrow and can be difficult to get in/out of if you’re not an expert driver.  Thankfully every bus driver we encountered was able to help ‘drive’ it in to position.  They lock it up with you on it and you have your own seat for the ride.  Each bus can handle a limited number of scooters so if you’re going for rope drop you may need to wait a little bit, so just be prepared.

Disney Bus Scooter spot

Disney Parks / Disney Springs:

It is very accessible everywhere you go inside of the parks.  Keep on the lookout for ramps to get in/out of the shops and up/down off of the pavement and sidewalks.  For the attractions it is important to note which ones require you to transfer from the ECV vs where you can stay in it.  Most attraction queues are wide enough that you can drive the scooter all the way through them.  On others such as the Jungle Cruise, they will direct you to a different loading area.

Using the scooter:

This is the scooter that my sister rented from ScooterBug, it’s the same one we have rented a few times.

The battery life was great and lasted quite a while, and the scooter comes with 2 batteries.

Two batteries scooter

We charged the battery every night in our hotel room so that we always had 2 fully charged batteries for the day.  You can bring the power chord with you as well, there’s always a spot to plug in at the parks if you need a boost.  See this one near the Tangled bathrooms at the Magic Kingdom.

Magic Kingdom Scooter Charging

Just make sure when you get in your scooter you set the speed to ‘turtle’ and not ‘rabbit’ to start out.

Do you have mobility issues?  How do you plan to cope at Walt Disney World?

Mears Connect – Airport Transportation at Walt Disney World

How to get to your Disney resort from the Orlando airport using Mears Connect

Mears bus to Disney Resorts at MCO

Mears has been a trusted transportation option for years in Orlando.  They offer taxis, shuttles, limousines and they used to facilitate the Magical Express before Disney discontinued the complimentary program.  It’s no surprise that they would step in to fill the void the Magical Express left behind.

What you need to know about Mears Connect

When I arrive at Orlando International Airport (MCO) – I feel like I have officially started vacation!  I take a customary pic of the distinctive carpet and then roll my carry-on down to baggage claim to collect my checked bag (because let’s face it, I always have a checked bag!).

Orlando Airport Carpet

After collecting my checked bag – it’s time to get to the bus.  In the airport Mears is located in Terminals B & C on Level 1 labelled Ground Transportation.

You can see from where I’m coming off the elevator – it’s allllll the way at the end of the terminal.

Mears connect transportation

As you walk up to the counter you’ll see that reservations are actually NOT required – but they are advisable.  You can make your reservations in advance online (or through your travel agent).  You will need your airline and flight number to make the reservation so that Mears will know when to expect you.  If you haven’t made the reservations in advance, you can do so when you arrive at the podium.

If your reservation was made in advance you will use your QR code in your confirmation email to check in.

Once you check in you will be instructed to a line that is specific for your resort.  They bundle the resorts that are close to each other so your bus will most likely stop at multiple resorts.

Mears connect - MK resorts

Buses depart for each resort area every 20-30 minutes.  Including stops at the resorts you should estimate your travel time to be between 30 and 60 minutes once you’re on the bus.

When your bus arrives they will send you out to meet it.  There is plenty of storage under the bus for luggage and the driver will store your bags.

The stairs to the bus are a bit steep – might be a small problem for some on the way back out.

Once you’re on the bus – it is really a comfy ride with plenty of room.

Mears connect bus - inside

The TVs will keep you entertained with some fun cartoons on the journey and before you know it – you’ll be in Walt Disney World!

For the ride home, you will be given the pick up time for your resort and you meet the bus at the stop where they dropped you off.  There will be signs for the airport shuttle like the one pictured below.

Disney Bus Stop Airport

Resort departure times are scheduled approximately 3 hours prior to the flight departure time for domestic flights and 4 hours prior for international flights.  For me as a Canadian – it’s quite a bit earlier than I would normally arrive, but understandable that they would schedule so much extra time.  I mean you don’t want Mears to be responsible for you missing your flight!

Mears Connect does not generally adjust resort departure times for delays and they will pick you up based on the original flight departure time.  If there are excessive delays or major travel disruptions you should contact Mears customer service.

What if it isn’t a full size Mears bus?

Sometimes – it isn’t a bus you get with Mears, sometimes it is a shuttle.  I assume this happens when they don’t have enough travellers coming in at the same time and they don’t want to make you wait, which is a good thing.  But these shuttles are small and a different experience from the bus.

Mears Shuttle

I have been in the shuttle a couple of times myself and both times there was only 1 other family in the shuttle with me.  It’s important to not that not only are car seats not required on the bus, they are also not required in the smaller fleet.  Mears does have limited access to additional car seats if needed (pictured below).

Mears connect car seat

What else should I know about Mears Connect?

  1. Drivers do not expect tips – but they are appreciated.  Make sure you have some cash with you to give them.
  2. If you cancel more than 24 hours in advance there is no charge.  Within 24 hours of your pick up time and you will be charged the full amount.
  3. If you need to remain in your wheelchair for travel or need to remain in your wheelchair to board the vehicle, make sure you indicate that on your reservation.

Would you recommend Mears Connect to get to your Walt Disney World resort?

Yes, I would.

There are a few things that I consider before booking Mears for myself.  If I have enough people to split the cost or I am in a rush to get to my resort, I will book a private transfer or take a Lyft/Uber.  If I’m by myself, I can’t justify the price of a private transfer vs the individual cost for 1 person on Mears.

Sometimes having this kind of transportation is just easier.  The whole family can go together, you don’t need to worry that your Uber won’t have room for your luggage.  If you are travelling with little ones, I feel like its a little safer on a big bus if a car seat isn’t required on any of the smaller transportation options.

Have you ever taken Mears Connect?

What was your experience like?


5 Reasons to use Vacation Grocery Delivery for your next Disney vacation

In the last 15 years or so I haven’t gone to Walt Disney World without ordering groceries in advance.  Each order is a little different depending on what type of room I’m getting (kitchen or not), how much park time I’m planning and who I will be with.

The staples for me are always cases of water, milk and sugar for my tea and sometimes some Airborne tablets since we can’t get them in Canada.  If we have a full kitchen or are planning a lot of ‘resort’ time – I’ll often include snacks, bagels, eggs, fruits and beer/alcohol.  It’s vacation after all!

I have used many different delivery services over the years, but my go-to service is Vacation Grocery Delivery – FL.

Here are my top 5 reasons to use Vacation Grocery Delivery on your trip.

1.  Price

I love the fact that they have a flat rate for delivery and do not mark up the items.  Many other services have a slightly lower delivery fee – but they increase the price for the individual items.  I don’t mind paying a delivery fee if I’m paying the same price for the items as if I was in the store myself.

2.  The website is easy to use

They have many items on their website that you can quickly “add to list” but they also have a custom item selection where you can type in something you want but don’t see.

You can click on a generic item to notate specific brands and flavors where available – it really is a custom experience.

3.  The communication is fantastic

From the time I place my order to the moment it’s delivered – the communication is exactly what I need.

I recieved my confirmation email with a summary of what I ordered, where I could contact them for changes/questions and updates.  Orders that contained alcohol come with specific instructions about how to order and what is required.

When my shopper starts the order I get a text message to open the lines of communication if there are any changes.

I assume they text if there’s something that isn’t available, but I’ve never had them need to contact me for anything.

There is another text that says the order is done and that they got everything.  The final text message is delivery including details about where my order is:

Now I have all the details in the event there is a mix up at the resort. I also know how many ‘pieces’ the delivery is when I call down to Bell Services to have them bring it up.  The one in the fridge is my milk for my tea, and I’m always so excited to have a cup when I arrive.  (I have a kettle in my Owners Locker but that’s another story!)

The wonderful Megan even sent me pictures of my items!

Before my arrival this is the peace of mind I need that it’s all there and waiting for me.  If this isn’t great service and communication – I don’t know what is!

Please note:  Given I am always staying at a Walt Disney World resort they can drop my things at Bell Services (as long as there is no alcohol).  Non-Disney resorts may require you to be there in person when they are delivering.  Check the website for full details.

4.  They generally shop at Publix

Yes there are a lot of places around to get your orders, but Publix has everything you could want and more.  The items are fresh and well stocked and the prices are reasonable.  I have always been happy with the QUALITY of the items I got.

5.  They are good people

The founders Jessica and Landon are a lovely couple who are former cast members.  I had the pleasure of being one of their first guests when they started this adventure after the pandemic and I ordered some groceries to arrive at Saratoga Springs for me.  As they have grown they continue to add team members who are also current & former cast members.  Listen to episode 191 of the podcast where they share their story with us.  They talk about their work as cast members, how they met, how the business started and even some cat rescue work in there!  They really are an incredible duo.

Next trip – reach out to the team at Vacation Grocery Delivery, you will be happy you did!

Still trying to decide on grocery delivery?  Read my 3 things to consider before you place your order.

Character dining alone in Walt Disney World

Can you do a character meal solo at Walt Disney World?

Absolutely you can and why not?  Walt Disney World is my favorite place to dine and experience solo!  In fact, sometimes it’s more fun when you’re alone (shhh – don’t tell my friends I said that!).

I travel to Walt Disney World by myself all the time.  The very first time I tried it I was a bit nervous, but I soon got over that.  I realized that no one cared that I was on an attraction by myself or wandering the park alone, they were all too wrapped up in their own stuff.  Soon I was more than comfortable doing a week (or even a month) by myself.

But character dining?  That’s a whole other thing.  I couldn’t figure out why this was such a big deal to me, I mean I had eaten at table service restaraunts alone before, but this just felt ‘different’.  I was nervous and I couldn’t tell you why.

I decided that for my first character meal solo I would do a table service instead of a buffet.  I just couldn’t figure out how it would work to be going to the buffet between characters and did I leave my stuff at the table?  Would they think I had run out on the bill when I was at the buffet?  These are the things my mind ponders.

Thankfully – I got a reservation at Topolinos!  It was perfect – no buffet and I had only been there once before when it first opened so I was anxious to get back and try it again.

Topolinos Dining Reservation Party of 1

Topolino’s Terrace is at Disney’s Riviera Resort.  Located on the top floor, the views are incredible!  While a character breakfast is offered here, in the evenings it’s signature dining featuring elevated French and Italian inspired cuisine.  It really is a beautiful spot.

I arrived at the desk to check in feeling a bit apprehensive.  As I was checking in there was a bit of a crowd hanging around the podium waiting to be seated.  I whispered “reservation for 1 please”.

When they called my name I asked them if I was seated off to the side (oh please don’t let me be in the middle of the floor!) and she said that I was by the window.  Perfect!  I will have something to look out at.  What a view it was, I was looking out over the hotel and the pool.

Once I was seated I started looking at the menu. There was a nice family at the table next to me that were just finishing up their meal.

I ordered my tea and breakfast (I did the two eggs any style) and soon she brought out the pastries.  Oh my gosh… I am by myself, but here is this big bucket of goodness!  Inside there are Croissants, chocolate chip muffins, and apple cake accompanied by strawberry, butter, and chocolate hazelnut spread.

I tried them all – but the croissant with the chocolate was my favorite (of course!).

By the time I was eating my pastries I had forgotten I was alone.  I was watching the characters interact at the other end of the restaraunt, I was focused on my food and the gorgeous view out of the window.  It was then that I realized that this was no different than anywhere else.  No one cared that I was alone, in fact I don’t think anyone even noticed.  They were all so busy doing their own thing and enjoying themselves that I wasn’t even a blip on their radar.  Funny how nervous we get about these things and realize pretty quickly they they really are no big deal!

As the characters came to my table they were so fun and gave me the full experience.  Daisy was first and she did a little pose before we got a selfie together.  I had a good giggle trying to get us both in the picture.

Next came Minnie and I was getting the hang of the character selfies!  While I cut her ear out of the pic – it worked!

Selfie with Minnie at Topolinos

As Minnie and I were taking our selfie together – one of the cast members came and offered to take our picture together.  How nice – now I have a full picture of Minnie and I!

After my photo op with Daisy and Minnie my breakfast arrived.  It was a good meal and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

There’s something about bacon on vacation isn’t there?  While I was eating the characters stopped visiting tables and did their ‘dance’ around the restaraunt.  It’s so unbelievably cute and they really put on a show.  Donald and Daisy had a whole ‘act’ that they did after where Daisy was acting jealous of Donald taking pictures with the guests.  It was so cute and so funny that I found myself laughing out loud.  I was completely immersed in the experience – again, not caring I was alone.

Next up Donald came to see me and I had him pose for a pic before our selfie – I just love the outfits that they wear here.

Last but not least, Mickey arrived at my table.  By this time there was a new family seated next to me and the father was so kind, he jumped up to offer to take the picture for me which I appreciated. 

I would have been ok (and fully expected) to do selfies with the characters, but I did appreciate the people who helped me get the full pictures.  

I have to say – I enjoyed every minute of that breakfast ALONE.  I think I’m brave enough to even do a buffet now, I mean why not?  I had fun, I laughed and felt that Disney magic just the same as I would had I been with a group of people.  That’s the beauty of Disney, you can enjoy it as a group or solo – it’s whatever YOU make of your vacation!

My friend Katie does Disney solo all the time too – we talked about it on Podcast episode 197 where she shared some of her tips to being in Disney solo.

Would you do a character meal alone?  Which one would you like to try??

Do I need a Disney travel agent to book my vacation?

Do I need a Disney travel agent to book a Walt Disney World vacation?

Welcome to Magic Kingdom - 1

I see this question ALL THE TIME online, in every Disney Facebook group this question is asked at least once per week.  It’s a great opportunity for every travel agent in the group to pipe in with “I can help” (I’m convinced some of the anonymous posters are in fact agents looking to advertise!).  This is also the time where some of the group “experts” weigh in to tell you why you don’t need an agent.  With so many conflicting opinions on social media it is incredibly confusing to know what to do, so I’m going to give it to you straight.  I’m going to tell you exactly why you should have a professional travel advisor when you’re booking your Walt Disney World vacation.

Before we go ANY further – I have been a travel advisor myself for over 15 years and I own my own travel agency.  Did I write this post to advertise my agency?  Nope.  I am a true lifelong Disney fan. I want people to go and love it as much as I do.  If you have bad advice during the planning process, your experience can suffer.  This post is about providing the facts about planning a Disney trip.  The advice I’m giving could apply for any GOOD PROFESSIONAL travel advisor that specializes in Disney vacations.    

(Please note the caveat is a GOOD PROFESSIONAL ADVISOR.  Not one from a Multi Level Marketing agency or an order taker at a big box store – a real travel advisor.  For tips on picking one click here).

Here are 5 reasons you should have a travel agent when booking your Walt Disney World vacation

1  The advice you get online is not the same as a professional agent

Sure I’ve heard people say “but I like to do the research myself”  and I totally get that.  You want to read the reviews, get the opinions and understand what is available, after all – it’s your vacation! The problem with this is that these ‘experts’ online giving you their opinions vacation the way it makes sense for their family.  They are not in the parks looking for details, services or tips that would help YOUR family, they are enjoying their own trip with their family.

The best Disney travel planners never really get a ‘vacation’ in Walt Disney World (or anywhere else for that matter).  They are trained to look for things that help their clients by looking for things that impact people that have DIFFERENT needs than their own.  Some kids like to sleep in at Disney and maybe yours are early risers – do you want to take tips from the family that don’t get to the park until 2 hours after it opened?  Some have kids that won’t sit in a restaurant so they’ve never had a table service meal, do you want to take dining advice from them?

What works for the people on social media may not be what works for you.  Remember that you are getting advice based on what they experienced only.

A good Disney agent has years of personal experience, they are graduates of the College of Disney Knowledge and are supported by a professional team of Disney experts.  Don’t get caught up on the “authorized Disney vacation planner” title you see on some posts.  Disney’s Earmarked program status ONLY applies to the agency based on criteria that includes time in business.  The agent you’re working with at an Earmarked agency can be brand new, or the agent at a new agency can have 10 years experience.  It’s an important distinction.

Disneys Port Orleans French Quarter

Disneys Port Orleans French Quarter Resort

2  Disney math is hard

Disney is one of the few suppliers that regularly have promotions announced that can be applied to existing bookings.  Is the new deal always the better deal?  Nope!  Is it easy to tell that it’s not?  Not always!

With dining card promos, date restrictions and different discounts for different resorts – finding out what makes sense is not always easy.  Add to that the extensive wait times on the phone to call in and ask – and why would you WANT to do that yourself?

I have personally experienced clients who were convinced by ‘experts’ online that one discount was better than another and were quite angry that I hadn’t switched their reservation.  After a phone call and spreadsheet to explain the math – they understood that switching would have INCREASED their price by over $400 USD for the SAME reservation.  Every good travel professional has experienced this at least once sadly.

An advisor will let you know the best deals for you.  They will tell you if you could change your dates or resorts slightly to make it work or if you already have the best package available.  If they need to change your package to get the special offers then they sit on hold with the call center to get it done.  Sometimes they can switch it online (and are so thrilled when that happens!) but sometimes they have to deal with systems that don’t always “work”.  These travel advisors figure it out and navigate all of the complexities for your vacation package so that you don’t have to.  Why wouldn’t you want someone doing this for you?

Contemporary Resort Full Room

3  Picking a resort and tickets isn’t always easy

With all of the Disney resorts on property they have organized them in to categories.  Value, Moderate, Deluxe and Villas – and those are just the Disney ones!  This can be an overwhelming list of resorts, especially if it’s your first time.

How do you choose where to stay?  “We’re only in the room to sleep” is the advice I see all the time from the die hard Disney fans online.  For some people the most important thing is to have a bed to sleep in, but this isn’t the case for everyone.  Transportation needs, pools, restaurant and food options are a few of the factors that should be considered.

Do you want a pool with a slide?  How much time do you want to spend GETTING to the Magic Kingdom in the morning?  Do you want a bus that has 4 stops before leaving the resort?  Is someone afraid of heights and wouldn’t be able to get on the Skyliner?  How far do you want to walk to get coffee in the morning?  These are just some of the things that can take an ‘ok vacation’ to a wonderful experience if you’ve considered them before booking.  If someone goes all the time and stays at All Star Music – how would they know about the amenities at the other resort hotels?

Tickets are another fun thing to explore.  Date based pricing, park hopping, water parks and more – how do you decide what makes sense for your family?  Sure you can get advice from the group – but I promise that the various opinions will make your head spin!  Disney vacation planners will guide you through the options that make sense so you have the best vacation possible

4  There are new things ALL THE TIME

Walt Disney once said “Disneyland will never be completed. It will continue to grow as long as there is imagination left in the world” and that holds true today for all of the Disney parks and resorts.  Even Disney specialists find it is hard work to keep up with all of the changes.

With Disney Genie+ and Individual Lightening Lanes, virtual queues, Memory Maker and Magic Bands, it is so easy to get outdated or misinformation from well meaning people online.

While new attractions, resorts, room categories and activities add opportunities for fun, they also offer opportunities for disappointment.  Imagine telling your kids that you can see the fireworks from your bed only to discover you booked the wrong room category and you are staring at the parking lot?  How about telling them they’d have their own ‘pull down’ bed only to arrive and find out you didn’t book the 5th sleeper?  Will you get sick on the newest attraction?  Are your kids tall enough? What about telling them they’re going to see all sorts of Star Wars stuff only to arrive and realize you didn’t have plans for Hollywood Studios?  If you think it can’t happen to you – it can.  It is so easy to misinterpret or just miss some critical information.  I hear this story all the time and it is so sad because it’s completely avoidable.

5  You always have control

The best Disney Travel Agents are there to guide you, but you make the decisions and are always in control.  Agents offer advice and information that you may not have known or considered, and it’s tailored to your family.  You don’t have to weed through 47 conflicting opinions online to try and decipher what is really important and what is actually true.

As an agent, podcaster and blogger focused on Disney I have heard it all.  Stories of booking the wrong hotel, the wrong parks even the wrong STATE!  (Grand Californian and Grand Floridian do sound similar, but that didn’t help the man at the check in desk!).  I have people that reach out to me all the time with their horror stories and they are looking for advice for their next vacation.

While I may have shared with you some of the more extreme cases of issues, there are many more that are just annoyances that will make your trip less than a magical experience.  My question is – why take a chance?  Why wouldn’t you use a professional travel advisor with the extensive training that can help you every step of the way?

Don’t just take my word for it.  There is an op-ed written by Sarah Milner called “Why I Won’t Use Costco For Travel Again” that captured exactly what I’ve been saying perfectly.  Sarah wrote about her own experience with Costco Travel and how she advises against it.  You can read her article here for the specifics of her trip.

For my best advice on how to find a good agent – visit my blog on 6 Questions to ask your Disney Travel Agent or speak with one of my agents at Playcation Travel.  Remember that not all Disney travel agencies are created equal – and not all agents will be suitable to work with you.  Find the one that is not only qualified – but one that you CLICK with!

(Ok yes that last part is a plug for my agency – but honestly, I want people to go and have the most magical Disney vacation possible!)

6 Questions To Ask Your Disney Travel Agent

We have all read the horror stories online about a Disney vacation that went wrong.  Guests standing at the gates of the Magic Kingdom with their “Universal” ticket wondering why they couldn’t get in, or they are at the park asking for Harry Potter.  Maybe it was the family that was very athletic that thought they could walk from Epcot to Animal Kingdom not realizing those were highways on the maps and not walking trails. These might be extreme examples of misinformation – but you get the idea.

I’ve said it before and will say it again, when booking your Disney vacation you should always enlist the help of a Disney travel agent.  There are many benefits to booking with them, but now the question is – how do you find a GOOD one?  How do you make sure that the agent you’re booking with is a well-versed Disney professional travel advisor?  What questions could you ask to make sure they know what they’re doing before you book with them?  It would be hard to come up with those questions if you’ve never been, so I’ve done it for you.

6 questions you should ask your Disney travel agent before booking with them

1  When was the last time you visited Walt Disney World yourself?

Walt Disney World is probably the most complicated of the Disney destinations.  You might need to arrange Genie+, park reservations, virtual queues and dining.  There are 4 theme parks to consider plus water parks, parades, shows, fireworks and transportation options – so many things that can impact your stress level on vacation.  If your agent hasn’t been to Walt Disney World in 5 years, how will they know what options are best for your family?  Reading online doesn’t put things in to context and sometimes they are completely misinformed opinions. You have to experience the crowds at the Magic Kingdom fireworks in order to tell you a good spot to watch them from!  Having an agent who has been to the parks recently they have validated the information first hand – and they’ve focused on things that will matter to their clients.

2  Do most of your clients get the dining plan, memory maker, or hopper pass when they go?

This is a great way to start the conversations that help you understand the experience that your agent brings.  They will have not only their own personal stories, but feedback from clients on how these options worked for them.  They know where the value is and how to maximize it.

In case you’re wondering – I love the Memory Maker option!

Animal Kingdom Photopass Tree of Life

You might feel silly posing, but the pictures are so fun when you see them later!

3  How big is your team and how many of them sell Disney?

Having someone that has other Disney experts on the team will ensure that you have back up in the event your agent is sick or is on vacation when you have a question. It also means they have knowledge to tap in to if they don’t have personal experience on the subject you need. For example – one agent on the team may have a child with allergies that can share that first hand knowledge about the process of eating at a buffet with allergies. If they are a good team, they’re sharing all of that stuff with each other regularly.   No one agent will have experience in EVERYTHING Disney has to offer – but a good team will.

4  How much is your service and what is included?

This is a tricky question and an important conversation to have.  Some advisors charge fees and some don’t, it depends on the agency and their business model.

What is included in the service?  Do they load your reservations in to your Disney account?  Provide a consultation with tips and advice?  These are examples of things they may or may not include.

Beware of agents that make “guarantees” of certain dining reservations or that they can apply a future promotion to your reservation.  False promises are definately a red flag.

5  Tell me a little about your agency

Finding out if the agency has any regulations to follow (in Ontario travel agencies are heavily regulated to the benefit of the clients) is a great place to start.  Also ask about the owners, how they provide support to their agents and what other destinations do they sell.  A good agent is like a good hairdresser – when you find one you like, you stay with them!

Sometimes you will see agencies advertising they are ‘earmarked’ by Disney.  While this status is given to agencies – it has NO BEARING on the qualifications or experience of the agent.  The designation applies only to the agency and is based on a combination of sales volume and time.  While agencies are proud of the status – it has no benefit to the client.

The other thing to be leary of are the big box stores (Costco) or ‘order takers’ who don’t build a relationship with their clients.  These places traditionally have higher turnover and less access to up to date information.  Generally they are not prepared to assist once the booking is made or you could be dealing with a different agent than who you booked with.

Also a big warning sign is if your ‘agent’ is trying to recruit you to BECOME an agent.  Promises of discounted or free travel if you “sign up” and book your own trips – this is an indication of a multi level marketing team and…well….run.

6  The last (and most important) thing you should ask your agent before booking with them is “why do you do it?”

This is such an important question, and you should listen carefully to the answer.  A really good agent is professional, dedicated and a Disney fan too!  They want you to go and love it as much as they do.  That’s the thing about us ‘Disney people’, we get so excited when someone comes back from vacation and says they understand the Disney magic we were talking about.  When you find an agent that is a real Disney fan, you can be sure they’re invested in you having the most fantastic and magical experience ever!

If you’re looking to plan your vacation – contact my team at Playcation Travel Ltd

Do you have a great question you think I missed that you should ask your Disney Travel Agent?

Is buying Disney’s Memory Maker worth it?

Is it worth it to buy Disney’s Memory Maker?

If capturing photographic memories of your vacation is a priority, then it is most certainly worth it.  Now let me explain.

First we have to address what it is – and how much it costs.

What IS Disney’s Memory Maker?

Memory Maker is the package that you can buy at Walt Disney World Resort to give you the ability to download all of your PhotoPass photos and videos.  These are the pictures and videos taken by the Disney photographers and on select attractions.

MM - Pixie Dust Fan and Sebastian

How much does Disney’s Memory Maker cost?

For one day – the current price is $75.00 USD

Advanced purchase (more than 3 days in advance) is $185.00 USD

Memory Maker $210.00 USD

For the most current pricing visit Disney’s official site here

Should you buy Disney’s Memory Maker?

Of course ‘worth it’ is very subjective.  It has many factors considering what is important to you, and how much money you’re willing to spend for it.

In my opinion, if you are visiting for more than 5 days and are willing to stop at PhotoPass photographers to grab some fun shots, then it is absolutely worth it!

Figment Photopass Bomb

When Figment shows up – that’s my favorite time!

I have 5 reasons why I think it’s worth it to buy Memory Maker at Walt Disney World

1.  Everyone is in the picture

You’ve spent all this money to have your whole family or friends together for this epic trip and all of your pictures are selfies or someone is missing.  If you’re good at selfies (I am not) then you can get everyone in, but not a good background.  If you can find a stranger to take your picture, you’re getting one or two shots and hope that they know what they’re doing.  With the PhotoPass photographers they are professionals using professional equipment to get you all in the shot, and sometimes when you’re not even paying attention.

Photopass Meeting Alice

I didn’t even realize they were taking pictures while we were talking

2.  Magic shots are so fun

Some photographers have what is called “magic shots”.  Some are a fun surprise when your pictures are available for viewing, and others you are expecting because you need to have a fun pose to create them.  Either way – they are FUN!

Animal Kingdom Photopass Tree of Life

You might feel silly posing, but the pictures are so fun when you see them later!

Memory Maker - Pixie Dust Fan and BB8

How cute is this pic with BB8? And how sunburnt am I???

3.  You get the attraction photos

How cool is it to get a picture of yourself ON the attraction?  It might be right at the point when a Dinosaur jumps out at you, or a ghost – or it might just be some fun shot of you winning on Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin.  Whatever it is – it’s a picture that you couldn’t get yourself.

Competing on Buzz Photopass

Trying to capture the winning moment!



4.  You can SHARE it with your friends and family

You can share this with up to 25 members of your Family & Friends who share media with you on your My Disney Experience account. That makes it even more economical if you’re travelling with other friends and family.  I do know of some people who link up on social media to split the costs – but I’m not sure that I would feel comfortable doing that with strangers.

MK Photopass Zoom

You can get a video that zooms in and out on you in the Magic Kingdom. How cool is that?

5.  The PhotoPass photographers make the pictures different than you would on your own.

I have had the pleasure of interacting with SO MANY great photographers over the years.  They make me laugh and have made me do so many silly poses that I have some fantastic shots that I would have otherwise not gotten.  I always ‘pose’ the same way when I’m getting a picture taken – I think we all do that don’t we?  But these photographers can make you step outside of your comfort zone and just have FUN with it!  

Rainy Main Street Photopass

Posing in my poncho on Main Street. I would NEVER have posed like this if it wasn’t for the photographer.


Sure, you can buy all of these photos individually if you wanted, but why limit yourself?  Having ALL of your memories captured and available for download is the best way to re-live the trip when you get home. 

One night a photographer took a shot of me watching the fireworks!


Even when the weather is unbearable – there’s always time for a photo.  I managed to get one at the famous purple wall while trying to catch some shade from the heat!

Do you think it’s worth it?  Have you bought Disney’s Memory Maker before?

    How I spent a month in Disney – working from home

    WFH - Working from Walt Disney World

    When the world shut down in March 2020 I had just returned from vacation.  We had just done the Pixie Dust Fan cruise plus some time at Walt Disney World.  I had plans to return in May, because I normally would visit 3 or 4 times per year.

    As I settled in to life in ‘quarantine’ I discovered that it didn’t really bother me much in my everyday life.  I had zoom calls with friends, I already did all of my grocery shopping via delivery services anyway and I was quite happy to have a built in excuse to avoid the outings I didn’t want to go to.  The fact that my unmagical job went 100% “work from home” was amazing – I could have my corporate meetings on video from my house in my track pants!  No commute and endless cups of tea that I got to make myself.  If it wasn’t for the actual pandemic – I was ok with some of these changes.

    As the months passed I missed Walt Disney World more and more.  With all of the horrible things going on in the world I couldn’t get back to the place that really gave me joy.  I didn’t like watching videos from people in the parks and I really struggled to stay positive and produce content on social media and the podcast.  The only reason I kept going was that I knew people were counting on ME to share some Disney joy and positivity so I couldn’t lose hope.  All I knew for sure was that when things opened up, I would NEVER take it for granted again.

    I knew that once I got back to Walt Disney World my normal “week” vacation was not going to be enough, I would need to make up for lost time.  I had to figure out how to stay longer.

    I debated using all of my vacation days, but could I leave my responsiblities at work for that long?  That really wouldn’t be fair to my team.  Then it hit me:

    Why can’t I work remote from Walt Disney World?

    WFH Disney Idea

    It was like all of a sudden things made sense.  I had heard of people working from their cottages during the pandemic.  I don’t have a cottage but we could consider Disney my home away from home right?

    As I started to formulate my plan, a 4 day cruise popped up with my friend that happened to align with the dates of my trip so why not?  Let’s do it ALL! And after 562 days, I finally returned to Walt Disney World.

    The itinerary was:

    Week 1 – Vacation at Bay Lake Tower

    Week 2 – Work from Disney’s Gran Destino Tower

    Week 3 – Work from Disney’s Saratoga Springs

    Week 4 – A few days at the park with my friend before a 4 day Disney cruise

    Many of you had questions about how this worked and the logistics, so I have tried to answer the most common questions below.  Who knows, maybe you can figure out how to do something similar in the future!

    How was the Disney resort WiFi?

    This was actually one of my biggest worries about working from Disney.  I spend a good portion of my day on video calls so a strong connection was critical.

    Work calls are more fun at Disney

    I was VERY happy I was not trying to work from Bay Lake Tower the first week.  The WiFi in my room was non existent.  I have stayed here multiple times but I guess I never noticed how bad the WiFi was.

    For my first week of working at Disney I strategically booked the Grand Destino Tower at Coronado Springs. I figured that since Coronado Springs was a convention hotel that they SHOULD have decent WiFi and I was right.  The WiFi was incredibly strong and I never lost connection.  In fact one day I went to do laundry and worked from there – no issues at all, I even kept the connection in the elevator on the way to the laundry room!

    Gran Destino Laundry Room

    Gran Destino Laundry Room

    At Saratoga Springs I was pleasantly surprised by the connection as well – I had no issues with any of my video calls.  It was strong and consistent and worked perfectly!

    After work at Hollywood Studios

    Did you go to the parks at night after work?

    Most nights – yes.  While I was at the Gran Destino I went to the parks in the evenings.  I used Lyft a lot to avoid wasting time waiting for a bus.  When I was at Saratoga Springs I spent a lot of those nights at Disney Springs since it’s a quick walk over the bridge.  I took advantage of the time browsing and shopping and I tried a few different dinner spots!

    Did you feel you were as productive working at Disney as you are working at home?

    100% yes, in fact maybe more productive.  There were a few reasons I felt that way.

    1. I had no distractions.  Other than mousekeeping coming to change the towels, it was really just me in the room with my kettle making tea all day.  I didn’t have a dishwasher to load, my home phone ringing or any of the other “I should be doing” things at home.  In this room there was really just me, my computer and my kettle.

    2. I think because I was away from home I felt a responsiblity and obligation to be extra focused.  I concentrated on my deliverables much more clearly.

    3. This was the most important reason – I was HAPPY.  It’s amazing how being really happy can change the way you work.  I refer to it as my ‘unmagical’ job because it does not bring me joy – it’s purpose is to pay my bills.  Somehow it just seemed like a much more pleasant day at work when you’re genuinely happy! Seriously-this was my Instagram story!Working at Saratoga Springs

    How did you afford to stay in Disney for a month?

    It’s always shocking to me that people ask me how I afford things – but they do!  I wrote a blog on it before about how I go to Disney so often, but obviously this trip was different so I’ll provide a little more insight.

    For Bay Lake Tower and Saratoga Springs I had my Disney Vacation Club points.  Since I hadn’t been in a while, I had points to spare (which never happens!).

    For the rest of the trip I have to say that I was financially irresponsible.  I hadn’t been to Disney in 18 months and I didn’t care what anything cost.  It was a “put it on the card and worry later” mentality.  I didn’t go overboard with dining and extras, I ate quick service the majority of the time.  I also ordered water and snacks to have in the room so I wasn’t buying 12 cups of tea a day!  I did splurge on Lyfts a lot to avoid buses and waiting for transportation.  It was all on the card waiting for me when I got home.

    What did you eat during the day?

    I have a terrible addiciton to tea. I drink a lot of it while I’m working so I actually brought a kettle with me.  I bought a cheap one on Amazon and brought my own tea bags from home.  For the most part during the day I didn’t eat – I would grab something for breakfast before I started and worked through lunch so I could be done just after 5.

    Tea Mug Dumbo

    I couldn’t drink from paper cups

    I would ocassionaly have a treat though – a extra cupcake from dinner the night before always served as a good afternoon snack!

    Afternoon snack wfh

    One of the great things though about being at Saratoga Springs was the proximity to Disney Springs.  I was in a preferred studio but it was still a bit of a walk to the bridge.

    One of the days I was really hungry at lunch time, I hadn’t eaten breakfast and I was famished.  I decided I was going to see if I could get from my building to Disney Springs and back in an hour.  I’m not a fast walker – but I was craving Earl of Sandwich.

    I timed myself – I was on a mission, and what a fun one it was!  Imagine ‘taking lunch’ from an unmagical job to go to Disney Springs?  I was grinning from ear to ear as I walked over and even sent some selfies of myself to some of my closest work friends.  They all commented at how happy I looked.  I got my sandwich and was back at my desk in 45 minutes!

    Was it comfortable to work there?

    Yes and no.  I mean lets face it, they definately weren’t ergonomic desks.  At Gran Destino it was a full desk, but the chair was less than ideal to sit on for 9 hours per day.  It was a good thing I had to get up and stretch a little when filling the kettle and making my tea.

    The table at Saratoga was a lot more comfortable because it was in front of the couch.

    Saratoga Springs Coffee Table

    But let’s be real, I’m not going to complain about comfort while at Disney.  Am I right?

    Were you lonely being in Walt Disney World alone?

    Nope.  Not at all.  I have discovered that I am quite comfortable and happy being on my own.

    Although – I wasn’t really alone the whole time.  I spent some time with friends in the parks, for dinner and drinks and I spent my days on video calls with people from work.  I was happy for the quiet time some days!

    Walking around Coronado Springs

    Walking around Coronado Springs

    How many suitcases did you bring?

    I am always a bit of an overpacker anyway – but I did bring two suitcases.  I had brought down a bunch of stuff from Canada for my friends and knew I would need the room on the way home for any souvenirs I bought.  It wasn’t all clothes, I did laundry twice while I was there.

    Did your work know you did this?

    I didn’t hide it.  People who worked at the cottage didn’t, so I didn’t either.  My team and close friends were happy for me and my boss never felt like I wasn’t pulling my weight.  In fact one night I was on a call with her at 6pm and said “You know, I’d love if we could finish this tomorrow because there is a drink at Epcot with my name on it!”.  She had forgotten I was there and encouraged me to hang up and get to the park.

    Did you get bored?

    Not at all – I still felt like I could have spent another month there!  There were quick service meals I didn’t have, attractions I didn’t ride and pictures I didn’t take.

    Best Disney Day Aug 2021

    Would you go to Walt Disney World for a month again?

    No question – ABSOLUTELY!

    This was really a dream trip for me.  I figured out how to work AND be in Disney at the same time so that I could stay longer.  It was everything I could have imagined.  I did things that I wanted to do when I wanted to do them.  I experienced the parks in such a leisurely stroll that I can’t describe the pure JOY I felt there.  It was honestly one of the happiest times I have had in a very long time.

    As the ‘unmagical job’ starts discussions for us to return to the office, I worry about not getting this opportunity again.  Then I remind myself that I know what my priorities are – and one of them is my OWN happiness.  I will find a way to do this again!  I don’t know when, but it WILL happen 🙂

    Now that you’ve read how I did it – can you do it.  Is this something you could see yourself doing?  

    Do you have any other questions that I didn’t cover?  You can also listen to the podcast where I covered a lot of the trip starting on episode 110.

    Using Beeper MD to return to Canada from Walt Disney World

    Trying a new option for Covid testing to return to Canada from Disney.

    on the plane ready to goOnce I had made my first trip back to Walt Disney World in 2021 after 18 long Covid months, I knew I couldn’t un-ring the bell.  Being back in the magic was everything this Canadian Disney fan had been missing and I knew I would never take it for granted again.  Crossing the border had never been more confusing and anxiety inducing with all of the tests and protocols, but now I knew how it worked.  If you haven’t read my experience GETTING to Florida – you can find it here.

    My first experience returning to Canada from Orlando I had my PCR test at the airport.  I didn’t have a lot of time after getting off of my cruise, so I needed a place that guaranteed results within a certain time.  If you want to read about that experience, I have detailed it here.

    With my next trip, I was only doing a resort stay so I had time to try out a new service – Beeper MD.

    Why I chose Beeper MD for my Covid test

    First things first – Beeper MD is free if you schedule 2 or more tests.  Given there were 4 of us that would need testing so we qualified for FREE.  That’s a big difference from the $175 USD per person I paid at the airport on the prior trip.

    I scheduled our tests a few weeks in advance online and we each had to upload the following to the Beeper MD site:

    • Our passports (or government ID)
    • Patient intake form
    • Insurance info (if available)

    You do not need insurance to use Beeper MD.  According to the site:

    The US government wants everyone to get tested and therefore they are covering the cost of testing for anyone that doesn’t have health insurance.

    On the patient intake form, it’s very general information including your name, address and date of birth.  For address we entered the resort address where we were staying.

    We originally scheduled 5-7 PM as our window online when we booked.  After hearing that my friends had experienced delays with their appointments, I called in to update our window to 3-5 to give plenty of time that evening.

    Beeper MD appointment times

    The day before the test was scheduled I called to confirm our appointment.  They assured me that we were booked for between 3 to 5 PM the following day, but once the scheduling was done we would be given a time.

    At 5:43 PM that day I got an email confirming the appointment for 3:50 PM – a more precise time.

    Beeper MD confirmation

    The following day we were at the Beach Club waiting when we got a call saying she was running late due to traffic.  She called twice to keep us posted and she arrived at 4:30.  We met her in the driveway and she performed the tests there.

    Disney Beach Club Covid Test

    We had to provide our passports for verification and she did the swabs.  The test was painless and quick.

    After the swabs were done, we needed to speak to the nurse practitioner via video call to confirm who we were and to answer any questions we had.  We were done.  For all 4 of us I think it took 30 minutes and it was free (we did give her a tip).

    Then – we wait… that was the part that we weren’t sure about, how long the results would take.  We needed to have our test within 72 hours of our flight, but Beeper MD said it could take 36-48 hours for the results of the PCR test.  (NOTE – One of my readers pointed out that if you have a connection in the US before returning to Canada, you must incorporate that in to your timing for the testing!)

    For PCR tests, you’ll receive the results directly in your email’s inbox within 36-48 hours.

    We had a backup test booked for 2 days later at the airport just in case.

    Beeper MD test results

    The tests were done by 5PM on the Wednesday and at 4:30pm the following day we all had our results in our email.

    Beeper MD Covid Test Result

    So the question is:

    Would I use Beeper MD again?

    Yes, I would.  You can’t beat FREE and the fact that they come to your resort.  But I would always have a back up plan just in case.  My experience was terrific, but I know others who didn’t have such a great time.  Given the service is free though, can you really expect the same service as if you were paying $175?  I don’t think so.

    I will reiterate that this was my experience.  You should do your own research to determine what your comfort level is and risk tolerance.

    Have you used Beeper MD?  What was your experience like?

    How I travelled to Walt Disney World from Canada during Covid

    Canadian Travel to Walt Disney World

    After 562 long days, I finally made the trip back ‘home’ to my happy place.

    Here’s how I travelled from Toronto to Orlando during Covid.

    Before I start telling you about my journey, I need to be very clear that this was MY EXPERIENCE.  I will provide the links I used to investigate my options, but it’s important that you also do your own research.  If the last 18 months have taught us anything, it’s that things can change quickly!  I only hope that my experience can help provide you some guidance and reassurance that it is possible for Canadians to get back to Walt Disney World.

    My trip dates were August 8, 2021 to September 4, 2021 and I was flying with WestJet from Toronto, Ontario to Orlando, Florida.  The land border was still closed at this time and driving was not an option.

    Before leaving Canada you must have negative covid test to enter the United States.  The airlines are responsible for validating that passengers have met the criteria before letting you board the plane.  The most up to date requirements can be found on the CDC website. 

    For my trip the requirements were:

    Get a viral test no more than 3 days before you travel by air into the United States (US) and show your negative result to the airline before you board your flight, or be prepared to show documentation of recovery (proof of a recent positive viral test and a letter from your healthcare provider or a public health official stating that you were cleared to travel).

    Notice that it says 3 days?  I stressed about the hours vs days and under the frequently asked questions they detail why – 

    The 3-day period is the 3 days before the flight’s departure. The Order uses a 3-day timeframe instead of 72 hours to provide more flexibility to the traveler. By using a 3-day window, test validity does not depend on the time of the flight or the time of day that the test was administered.

    They even have examples of the days of the week to help you calculate your “3 days” if you need.

    Here’s where I got paranoid – What types of tests are acceptable?

    Here’s what it says on the CDC website: 

    Passengers must be tested with a viral test that could be either an antigen test or a nucleic acid amplification test (NAAT). Examples of available NAATs for SARS-CoV-2 include but are not restricted to reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR), reverse transcription loop-mediated isothermal amplification (RT-LAMP), transcription-mediated amplification (TMA), nicking enzyme amplification reaction (NEAR), and helicase-dependent amplification (HDA).

    Since I failed science in school – this was major anxiety for me.  I read it so many times it started to look like a different language to me.  What if I got the wrong test?

    I decided (after reading it 32 more times) that the Shoppers Drug Mart $40 test was what I needed.  What made me nervous was that they call it “Rapid Antigen Screening” and not TEST –  the CDC says “antigen test”.  

    Shoppers Drug Mart Covid TestI got tested on the Thursday night after work before my Sunday flight.  The requirements for the test results:

    A test result must be in the form of written documentation (paper or electronic copy). The documentation must include:

        1. Type of test (indicating it is a NAAT or antigen test)
        2. Entity issuing the result (e.g. laboratory, healthcare entity, or telehealth service)
        3. Specimen collection date. A negative test result must show the specimen was collected within the 3 days before the flight. A positive test result for documentation of recovery from COVID-19 must show the specimen was collected within the 3 months before the flight.
        4. Information that identifies the person (full name plus at least one other identifier such as date of birth or passport number)
        5. Test Result

    I got my test result and validated it all before leaving the drug store.

    I was still stressing over the difference between “test” and “screening”, so I tweeted WestJet to confirm.  At first they directed me to the CDC site – but I had to clarify.

    WestJet Covid Test Confirmation

    The other thing that is a little hidden on the CDC site that you should have:

    “Air passengers will also be required to confirm that the information they present is true in the form of an attestation.”

    You can find the attestation here on the CDC site.  It says that this would be submitted to the airline.  

    On the Sunday of my flight, my arrival at the airport was the same as always, with the added benefit of some MASSIVE anxiety.  I was nervous about it all, what if I got the wrong covid test?  What if they said I couldn’t go?  What if I caught covid in the airport?  Honestly, 18 months in my house had brought back every ounce of anxiety I ever had.

    The energy at the airport was a bit chaotic.  At the check-in machines, the WestJet representative that was helping me get my luggage tags said “Ok, you have everything?  Your passport, boarding pass and negative covid test?”  I replied that I did and I was on my way.

    It is possible for Canadians to get back to Walt Disney World.

    I dropped off my luggage and headed toward security.  The Nexus line wasn’t open that morning.  With Nexus you don’t have to take your laptop out of the bag or your shoes off – so I forgot my laptops.  After a full screening of my bag and the contents I was on my way to customs.

    At customs I had a lovely lady who asked the purpose of my trip.  I told her mostly pleasure and a little business doing social media.  She asked for my passport and I was fumbling everything.  Our conversation:

    Customs:  Relax, take your time, there’s no rush

    Me:  I’m so anxious you would think I’ve never travelled before in my life

    Customs:  Don’t worry – EVERYONE feels that way right now

    That conversation was so reassuring to me for some reason.  It was nice to know everyone was feeling the same way.  

    After customs I headed to the gate.  There were many families with children and solo travellers – quite a mixture of people.

    When boarding began the gate agent checked my passport and asked me to lower my mask to see my face.  Her only question was “Oh, your hair is longer – covid hair?” We had a giggle about covid pounds and she told me to have a nice flight.

    As I was getting on the plane they handed me a disinfecting towel to wipe down my seat.  

    Masks were on always at the airport and on the plane unless you were eating or drinking.  I didn’t notice anyone without their mask for my entire journey from the curb to the plane.

    The other thing that didn’t happen?  Not one person asked to see my negative covid test!  Not customs, not the gate agent – no one!!  Now that is not the norm.  My friends were all asked at the gate and a few were asked a couple of times, but I wasn’t asked at all.  It’s funny how much I stressed and never had to show it.  My friends all got the same test as I did so I am confident it was the right one.  

    Once on the plane, the lady behind me said to her daughter who was afraid of flying “It’s mind over matter” – that’s what my Mum used to always tell me and it gave me such an odd sense of comfort.

    When the plane took off I got teary.  I was FINALLY headed home to Walt Disney World!  After 562 long days in my house, this Canadian Disney fanatic was finally on her way.  I would never take it for granted again that I could hop on a plane and get to Disney whenever I wanted.  

    Arrival in Orlando was so familiar.  When I saw that carpet I got a little teary again.  That carpet at the Orlando Airport is iconic!

    Orlando Airport Carpet

    Hopefully my journey gave you some insight (and dare I say hope) for travelling from Toronto to Orlando during Covid.   

    For your research – I found the best resources were:

    1. Your airline – make sure you understand the requirements specific to the airline including testing.  When they say arrive early – do it.  The lines are LONG with all of the extra questions they are asking.  
    2. The CDC – use this site for all requirements to the United States.
    3. The Government of Canada website to ensure you have met the requirements for travelling.  You should always read all of the advisories before you travel

    Traveling at this time is not for everyone, I’m not going to encourage or discourage anyone.  This should be a personal decision based on your own comfort level.  

    If you do decide to travel, make sure you do your research, be well prepared, have realistic expectations and have FUN!

    On podcast episode 110 I shared my adventures as well – if you’d like to have a listen, you can find it here.

    I have the full report on my return to Canada from Orlando HERE.

    What questions do you have about travelling to Orlando from Canada?

    Returning to Canada after my Disney vacation during Covid

    Canadian Travel from Walt Disney World

    Travelling from Walt Disney World back to Canada in 2021.

    I had the most epic adventure returning to Walt Disney World after 562 long days, but at some point I knew it would end.  I had to prepare for my return to Canada.

    If you haven’t read my experience GETTING to Florida – you can find it here.

    I will reiterate like I did in that post, I need to be very clear that this was MY EXPERIENCE.  I will provide the links I used to investigate my options, but it’s important that you do your own research.  Things can change and you need to have the most up to date information.

    My return flight with WestJet was on September 4, 2021 to fly from Orlando to Toronto.

    First I had to understand what the airline and the government required for me to get home.

    Pixie Dust Fan and Figment at Epcot

    The website listed the requirements.

    If you are fully vaccinated you are exempt from quarantine and the 8 day testing requirement providing you have no signs or symptoms of Covid-19 and have completed your last dose of the vaccine 14 days prior.

    If you are not vaccinated there are mandatory quarantines and testing required.  Validate your eligibility here.  If you are travelling with children who are not vaccinated, there are testing and quarantine requirements as well.

    The testing requirement to enter Canada is:

    All travellers 5 years of age or older, regardless of citizenship, must provide proof of a COVID-19 test result to enter Canada.

    All travellers must provide one of the accepted types of tests, not an antigen test, including those who are fully vaccinated.

    The accepted list of tests is long – and confusing for those of us that failed science!

    These tests are considered acceptable molecular tests:

        • PCR – Polymerase chain reaction
        • RT-PCR – reverse transcription real time PCR
        • Quantitative PCR (qPCR)
        • Nucleic acid test (NAT) or Nucleic acid amplification test (NAATs)
        • Reverse transcription loop-mediated isothermal amplification (RT-LAMP)
        • Isothermal amplification
        • Droplet digital PCR or digital droplet PCR (ddPCR)
        • Transcription-mediated amplification (TMA)
        • RNA (Ribonucleic acid)
        • Ct (cycle threshold)
        • CRISPR
        • Sequencing
        • Next generational sequencing (NGS) or whole genome sequencing (WGS)
        • Oxford Nanopore sequencing (LamPORE)
        • Detection of the N gene
        • Detection of Orf1a/b
        • Detection of the S gene
        • Detection of the E gene
        • Detection of the RdRp gene

    These tests use methods such as a nasopharyngeal (NP) swab, nose swab, or saliva sample. At this time, proof of having a vaccine will not replace a negative test result.

    I did a TON of Googling and I was more confused than ever!  What I recognized in all of that was PCR – that’s what all of the sites I was researching were offering.  I decided I needed to be methodical because I was getting overwhelmed.  I ruled out some of the obvious “scam” sites and narrowed my search to 6 places I needed to investigate further:

      1. Orlando Airport Testing
      2. Fast Test Now
      3. Covid Testing LLC
      4. Alliance Health
      5. Beeper MD
      6. Walgreens

    I read every post I could find on these 6 places on social media about experiences.  I read the reviews of the businesses and even tried to call a few (it’s amazing how many businesses don’t answer the phone!).

    Centra Care Sign

    I knew that I needed a place that was reliable, efficient and would give me my results THAT DAY.  I was going to be getting off of my Disney Cruise on Friday morning and flying home Saturday – there was no time to waste.  That fact ruled out Walgreens and a couple of other sites.

    I decided that Fast Test Now or the Advent Health/Centra Care at Orlando Airport were my 2 top choices.

    I had some friends who used the airport testing so I figured that was as good as any.

    While the website does say they accept walk ups –

    Yes, appointments can be made online in advance. Due to demand, we accept walk-ins based on availability, and cannot guarantee a test without an appointment

    MCO Covid Testing Walk In

    We made our appointments over a week in advance and secured our spot.  We had 10:50 appointments giving us enough time to get off the ship, rent the car and drive to the airport.  FYI – parking at Orlando airport is not fun, I would take a taxi next time so I didn’t need to worry, we arrived 5 minutes late.

    The site is located in Terminal A Atrium before security, next to the Universal store on the 3rd level.  

    MCO Covid Testing Appointment

    When we arrived – it was a bit chaotic.  I can’t blame the people working there, they had 20 people asking questions and the anxiety level was high.  They didn’t have any PCR tests available for walk ups.  Passengers were upset – they were going to miss their flights and they had one person fielding all the questions AND getting us all in line.

    Here’s the process and the timeline for my experience at Advent Health at the Orlando Airport:

    10:55 We arrived and got in line.  There were about 15 people ahead of us.

    Orlando Airport Covid Testing Wait Time

    11:15 We were given a form to fill out in line and were done filling that out by 11:20 when she came back to collect it.

    11:25 We were called in one at a time to pay for the test.  We were getting the Rapid RT-PCR test that was $175 USD.

    11:30 They called about 12 of us who had paid into a holding area.

    11:35 They gave each of us a seat number – we were sent in to the room to wait for the swab (I was in seat 1).  They confirmed again who was getting an Antigen test vs a PCR.  We were told Antigen was taking about 30 minutes for results while PCR was averaging about 45 minutes.

    Covid Testing At Orlando Airport

    11:40 My swab was done and I was sent back into the airport to wait for my results.  It’s very important to note they DO NOT EMAIL THEM.  You must wait in the terminal for the paper copy.

    12:25 They came out with a stack of papers yelling our names to collect our results. YAY!  We are negative.

    That was my experience at the airport, but I did have two friends who used Fast Test Now with no problems at all.  They took a taxi/uber/lyft to the office that was close to Universal Studios and were in and out in less than 30 minutes.  My friend Brenda was really impressed with her process.  The results were emailed to her so she didn’t have to wait for them at the site.  She paid for the RT-PCR Test Same Day Results by 11PM for $199 USD.  They took a few minutes for the swab and then went over to Hollywood Studios in time for their Rise of the Resistance boarding group 5.  

    After our tests we left the airport relieved and went back for our last night at Walt Disney World where we completed the ArriveCan requirements.

    Complete ArriveCAN

    Before return to Canada you must complete your information on ArriveCAN.  There is an app as well as online form.

    Some of the information they collect:

      • Arrival airport, flight number, date
      • Identification like Passport/Nexus/PR Card etc
      • Vaccine status, vaccine type and dates of each dose
      • Quarantine plan
      • Self assessment to ensure you have no symptoms

    After you complete the process you get a confirmation on the app and they email you the same.  This is to be shown to the airline at check in and at customs when you arrive in Canada.

    ArriveCAN app receipt

    The next morning we drove back to the airport.  At the WestJet check in they checked my ArriveCan receipt and validated my PCR results.  Unfortunately there was a couple at the next agent who were being turned away as they didn’t get the PCR test.  They were told to try the testing site in the airport, but I didn’t have much faith they would get the PCR in a walk up scenario and I didn’t see them board the flight.

    The rest of the process was the same as always until landing in Toronto.  We were kept on the plane while they explained customs was backed up and we needed to wait for some to clear.  After about 15 minutes they started letting us off of the plane 50 people at a time.

    Toronto Customs Arrival

    When I got to the customs area I understood why they did that, it was packed.   I couldn’t help but notice the irony of the situation.

    I spent all my time in Florida telling people how serious we are in Canada about physical distancing, we have been locked down for so long.  When I arrived home, they immediatedly escort you in to a mandatory line with no ability to distance from any of the 600 other people who just got off of flights from multiple different countries.  I spent 4 weeks in the Florida “hotbed” and had the highest risk in the customs line in Canada.

    Thankfully I had my Nexus and my line was shorter, but still in the same room.  The customs agent asked a lot of questions about my trip – including why I would travel alone to Disney.  Is that even a real question?  I told him it was for my mental health.  He checked all of my documents, test results and ArriveCan receipt and they told me I was randomly selected for another Covid test.

    Random covid test

    I got to the carousel and all of the luggage was out – that tells you how long that process took!  I got my luggage and followed the signs to the testing.

    Upon arrival you need to register for a Switch Health account.  They direct you to a booth where you are swabbed – it’s just the outer nostril, nothing terrible.  The worst part of that experience was seeing the signs in the booth asking people not to yell at the staff.  How horrible we live in a world where you have to ask people to be nice to those who are doing their job.

    The entire process probably added 20 minutes to my arrival and I was on my way.  The results were emailed to me in 24 hours and the test was negative.

    Random Covid Test YYZ

    I think my conclusion is that I would be happy to use either Advent Health at the Orlando Airport or Fast Test Now on my next trip.  My only concern with the airport is that I wouldn’t want to do it the DAY of my flight – I think it would be too stressful if there were lines.  I might try Fast Test Now on my trip in October for comparison.

    If you want to hear more about my arrival and my time on the Disney Cruise – check out my podcast episodes here.

    For full details on my departure from Canada to the United States, check out this blog post.

    Would you travel to Walt Disney World from Canada now?

    Mears Connect is Disney’s Magical Express Replacement

    When Disney announced in January 2021 that it would be retiring the much loved Magical Express service, many guests were left to wonder if there would be a replacement service (For more details on what the service is – visit my blog What is Disney’s Magical Express)

    Mears (who operated Magical Express for Disney for 16 years) has announced they will be filling this void with Mears Connect beginning in January 2022 to coincide with the Magical Express shut down.  

    According to Mears website:

    Same reliable, safe service guests have been using for decades to Disney area hotels. Service starts January 1, 2022.

    And since Mears have been running it all these years, it really is the same service – only now it’s an additional cost and not included in the price of your Disney resort stay.

    Reservations for this new service are available on the website and initial pricing is as follows:

    Introductory Rates – Standard Service 

    Adults – $16.00 one way ($32 round trip)

    Children – $13.50 one way ($27 round trip)

    I did play around with different Disney resorts and this is the pricing that came up, but it is an “introductory rate”.  This suggests the pricing could change at a later time.

    There is the option for a premium service as well.  This serivce boasts “limited wait time and direct service” for $200 round trip (up to 4 passengers).  Each additional passenger is $55 right now.

    Check out the FAQs on the site as well – quoting that you will be on your way within 20 minutes of check in and that they will have “Enhanced technology to offer you real time information regarding your transportation.”  This could infact be an upgrade to the Magical Express.

    How do you feel about this new service?

    5 Rookie Mistakes When Planning A Walt Disney World Vacation

    Disney Rookie MistakesBeing an avid Disney Fanatic who has been visiting Walt Disney World since 1974, people are always asking me for help booking their vacations.  I hear horror stories all the time about people who booked their Disney vacation by themselves or with a travel agent who had very little personal experience.  There is so much to see and do at Walt Disney World that you can’t just show up and wing it.

    Here are 5 rookie mistakes people make when planning a Walt Disney World vacation

    1.  Buying only a 2 or 3 day park ticket

    There are 4 theme parks to visit!  Walt Disney world is roughly the size of San Francisco, there is no way you’re going to see it all in a couple of days.  Trying to cram everything in to 2 or even 3 days makes for very long days and stressful times, especially with little ones.  If you experience an attraction that you love, don’t you want the opportunity to do it again and not be stressing about the next thing on the itinerary?  There is nothing worse than being rushed and anxious all the time while you’re trying to stay on schedule.   You will miss the magic of BEING there!

    2.  Not buying a hopper pass

    Now many will disagree with me, but I really believe that a hopper pass is worth it.   For example – Fantasmic is only happening on Monday and Wednesday the week you’re there – guess what days will be busiest at Hollywood Studios?  With the hopper pass you can enjoy another park during the day and then head over in time for the night time entertainment elsewhere.  The flexibility of the hopper pass is extremely valuable in my opinion, and you won’t realize how much until you’re there.  My only caveat to this would be if you have really little ones and you don’t envision having enough energy to hop around.

    3.  Not staying on property

    There are some fabulous Deluxe resorts on property, but if those aren’t in your budget there is still a place for you!  The Value and Moderate resort categories have some great places to stay to fit any budget.   These resorts are well themed, convenient and affordable and include the benefits of staying in a Disney resort including transportation to/from the parks.  The transportation options include buses, monorails, boats and the Skyliner!

    4.  Not knowing what to plan in advance

    If you’ve never been to Walt Disney World – how would you know what you want to see and do?  Walt Disney World planning is always evolving.  Disney Genie and Lightening Lanes, Park Reservations and Dining – how do you know what reservations you need before you go?  It is quite possible if you book your trip far in advance that things will CHANGE between the time you booked and the time you travel, Disney is ALWAYS mixing things up!  It’s imporant to know these things and having a Disney travel agent will help you with all of that.  There are a lot of myths about using a Disney travel agent, but I can guarantee you that the RIGHT agent can help you plan the BEST vacation.

    5.  They over plan!

    I know, that kind of contradicts what I said in point 4, but there’s something to be said for just enjoying the moment.  If you want to eat with the Princesses – then yes, you need a reservation.  However, planning all of your attractions in a strict itinerary takes all of the fun out of being there.  I’ve seen many families racing around the park to make sure they are ‘on schedule’ and it really takes away from all of the wonderful things they could experience if they took a moment to slow down!

    A Walt Disney World vacation can be an amazing experience making memories you will treasure forever.  Knowing how to get the most out of your vacation will give you time to enjoy the magic!

    Have you made any of these mistakes?  We’d love to hear what tips you have, comment below!

    Explore some of the resorts we have reviewed here and listen to our Podcast for more info!

    Top 10 tips for visiting Walt Disney World with kids

    10 Tips for Disney with kids blog fb

    You’re planning a fantastic Walt Disney World vacation, you have the flights, hotel and tickets – what else do you need to know? Plenty!  If it’s your first time going to Disney and you have little ones, there are some things you really want to consider before you go.

    On episode 99 of the Pixie Dust Fan podcast, we chatted with our friends Amy and Kimberley about things that they have learned over the years that helped them travelling with kids to Walt Disney World.  These guys know what they’re talking about, they have tons of experience between them.  They were gracious enough to put together a top 10 list that we discussed in depth on the podcast, and I’m sharing that list below.

    1 – Bring a Stroller

    Don’t underestimate how much walking there is to do in the parks and how valuable a rest is to the little ones.  Having a spot they can sit and relax (and maybe have a little nap) is critical.  It’s also a great place to store your purchases, hold your bags and your drinks!

    2 – Get Memory Maker

    You’re busy making memories on this trip, it’s important to capture the pictures with EVERYONE in them.   And don’t forget the magic shots and attraction pics, those are priceless!

    More info on Memory Maker can be found in this post here

    3 – Have snacks and water handy

    The last thing you want is a meltdown because they’re hungry or dehydrated.  While there are snacks available all over the parks, sometimes it’s good to have a familiar snack from home – something you know they like that won’t be an argument to have them eat. Also a good idea to have some for the adults too – no one is happy when they’re hungry.

    4 – Have a souvenier strategy

    The masters of marketing, Disney knows how to display merchandise so that we want to buy everything!  Now imagine how the kids feel when they see everything they want to buy. If you have a strategy for souvenirs before you go, it makes these debates a little easier. Plan in advance what they will be allowed to buy.  Do they get a set dollar amount? Or can they just choose one thing? So much will also depend on their age, but it’s never a bad idea to set those expectations with them before you go.

    5 – Pack a pharmacy and insurance

    Have typical medicines from home that you know work well with your child are so important. You can’t always get the same over the counter cough syrup or ear drops that you do at home. If your child is prone to needing certain allergy medications – bring it with you so you’re not testing a new brand while on vacation. The other thing that is crucial is making sure BEFORE you travel that you have some medical insurance for everyone, including the kids. On the podcast Kimberley explained one of the trips where her son was ill and ended up in Emergency – scary stuff, it’s always best to be prepared.

    6 – Expect the unexpected

    You’ve planned the absolute perfect trip – down to the hour with dining reservations, itineraries and matching outfits, it’s all fantastic until it isn’t. Be prepared that your plans may (and probably will) change. The weather, unexpected closures or even a meltdown (kids or adults) can mean a big diversion from your meticulously planned day. Roll with it, don’t sweat the small stuff, it will still be magical.

    7 – Ask the kids to help you plan

    Asking for their input while you plan gives them the opportunity to be involved. It helps build the excitement and it’s a good time for you to walk through the details.  It’s their vacation too – if they’re old enough, get them involved in deciding the ‘must dos’.

    8 – Plan for a rest

    The parks at Walt Disney World are magical, but can also be exhausting!  Make sure you’re planning a day to relax, enjoy the resort, maybe do some swimming and chill.  It’s really important to rejuvenate during the week so that you don’t burn out.  It’s also a great time to explore all that Walt Disney World has to offer outside of the theme parks.

    9 – Don’t wait

    Don’t wait until your kids are ‘old enough’.   They are never too young for YOU to remember their first time.  Those memories are just as important to you, and seeing Disney through their eyes is something pretty special.  There’s also a small window of time when they’re little that you don’t pay for them – so really it’s a win/win!

    10 – You can’t do it all

    Go with the plan that you can’t see and do it all.  Seriously.  I have been going all my life, multiple times per year – I haven’t seen it all.   Make your list of ‘must do’ items, and be realistic about what you can get through.  Don’t overplan because there will never be enough time anyway.  Prioritize what is important to you and your family and let the other stuff just happen.  It takes the pressure off, after all – it’s vacation right? It shouldn’t be stressful.

    Using a Disney travel agent can help guide you through all of the steps for planning your trip. 

    Have you been to Walt Disney World with little ones?

    Mears Connect aims to fill Magical Express void

    Disney announced in January 2021 that it would be retiring the much loved Magical Express service.  Many guests and fans were disappointed after relying on this transportation from the Orlando International Airport to their Disney Resort for years.  (For more details on what the service is – visit my blog What is Disney’s Magical Express)

    Mears (who operated Magical Express for Disney for 16 years) has announced they will be launching Mears Connect in January 2022 to coincide with the Magical Express shut down.  Reservations for the new service are said to be available to book starting in May 2021.

    In a news release, Mears said “Guests can expect scheduled service, luggage handling, convenient airport terminal staging, and return trips to the airport,” *

    Mears spokesperson Roger Chapin said in a statement*:

    “We plan to offer the same level of experience, service and convenience we’ve provided for the last 16 years, on behalf of our longtime partner, as returning guests and first-time visitors can expect nothing less,” 

    Pricing for these services are expected to be released later this year.

    More to come – but I can’t wait to try out this new service!

    Were you a fan of the Magical Express?


    Disney’s Magical Express Not Offered In 2022

    Disney Magical Express
    Disney’s Magical Express was launched back in 2005 and quickly became a popular option for guests of the Walt Disney World Resorts for getting to and from the Orlando International Airport.  Given the service was complimentary to resort guests, it could save hundreds on your vacation by avoiding car rentals, shuttles or taxis.  There were many benefits to using the service and I had outlined them in my blog “What is Disney’s Magical Express

    On January 11th, 2021 Disney Parks released a blog talking about “A Look Ahead at Walt Disney World Resort“.  In the article they announced changes including the end of the Magical Express service.

    Vacationers have more options to choose from than ever for transportation, including ride-share services that save time and offer more flexibility to go where they want, when they want. In light of this shift, when Disney Resort hotel bookings open for stays in 2022, we will no longer offer Disney’s Magical Express service for airport transportation, starting with arrivals Jan. 1, 2022. We will continue to operate the service for new and existing reservations made at Disney Resort hotels for arrivals throughout 2021. Additionally, complimentary transportation options – such as buses, monorails and Disney Skyliner – will continue to be available within Walt Disney World Resort for Disney Resort hotel guests, including to and from all four theme parks.

    Many Disney fans took to social media to share their disappointment of the announcements.  Some were actually quite funny and comical:

    Disney’s Magical Express will continue to operate throughout 2021.

    Mears (who operated Magical Express) has announced a replacement service called “Mears Connect”.  You can read about that here and our full review here

    Brightline announced in November 2020 that they had reached an agreement with Walt Disney World Resort to open a new train station at Disney Springs.  With this new train service it will connect Walt Disney World with Orlando International Airport.  The train is scheduled to open sometime in 2022.

    How do you feel about the changes?  Will you be excited for the train option?

    Been there, done that – and you’re going to Disney again?

    Sleepy Hollow with CastleSomeone asked me today “how can you be excited about another trip to Walt Disney World, isn’t it the same as it was the last time you were there?”.   They were implying that I had already ‘been there, done that’.  Yes – I was there 2 months ago, and multiple times last year – but no, it never gets boring.

    The next question I hear is “haven’t you seen it all?” – and the simple answer is NO!  Walt Disney World is always changing so there is something ‘new’ to see or do every time I visit.

    Here’s why I’m excited about my next trip!

    Different Resorts

    I have stayed in all of the Walt Disney World Resort properties.  It took me a while to get to stay at the Yacht Club (I don’t know why I kept missing that one!) but I finally did it!  With each trip there is always something new to check out at a resort, so I like to mix it up!  There are so many different room types too – sometimes it’s nice to splurge on a more “resort based” vacation where you hang out and enjoy the resort more than the parks.  Splurging on a Cabin at Copper Creek would give you the whole “home away from home” feel to relax and enjoy, and you’re not far from the pool!

    Night Time Shows

    I’m always so excited as I love the night-time entertainment!  The big concern is how to decide between Rivers of Light, Epcot Forever, Star Wars fireworks & Fantasmic at Hollywood Stuidos and Happily Ever After and the Magic Kingdom?   I think I need more nights…

    Pixie Dust Fan's Tee Public Store

    Pixie Dust Fan’s Tee Public Store

    New Dining

    There is ALWAYS something new to eat – and this trip is no exception!  I could seriously eat the new desserts all week for every meal, but I do want to try at least 1 new restaurant on each trip.  It’s hard to decide sometimes because there are some great options.  Each trip brings a new dilemma of deciding between our tried and true favourites, or something new.

    Shopping & New Merchandise

    Yes – shopping is a bit part of my trip.  Wandering through the stores and seeing the new, unique and custom merchandise?  It’s so much fun.  I love to visit Disney Springs for just a regular “shopping day” but then I also have to hit all the stores in the parks.  Resort shops?  You don’t want to miss those because sometimes they have different things too!  You can find a lot of the merchandise online at but it’s not quite the same as when you can touch it.

    Walt once said ‘Disneyland will never be completed. It will continue to grow as long as there is imagination left in the world.’  I’m so glad this vision is carried on at Walt Disney World, I continue to be amazed and inspired each time I step on the Disney property and revitalize my own imagination.

    What keeps you going back?


    Top 5 Myths About Using A Disney Travel Agent

    Do not disturb I'm planning my Disney Vacation

    Whether it’s your first Disney vacation or your hundredth, you should use a good travel agent who specializes in Disney destinations.

    This topic is debated frequently in many Facebook groups, YouTube videos and online blogs, and there are a lot of common misconceptions.  Of course what I’m about to describe is about working with a reputable and qualified agent.  For tips on finding the right one, see my article on questions you should ask your agent.

    Here are my top 5 myths about booking your Walt Disney World vacation with a reputable Disney travel agent.

    1.  You will pay extra

    If you are booking a Disney vacation package, most travel advisors will not charge a fee for their service.  Your Disney trip will cost the same amount of money as if you booked it directly with Disney yourself, and in some cases even less.  There can be multiple promotions Disney releases and a good agent will check the best deals to make sure you are paying the lowest price and getting the best value!  It is with these savings that many guests are able to upgrade their family vacation or extend their trip to make the most of the budget they have.  Finding a better discount can mean more souvenirs for you!

    2. You lose control of your vacation

    Nothing could be further from the truth.  You can control as much or as little as you like!  You can book all of your own Lightening Lanes, dining reservations, Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique and special events.  You dictate what you want to experience at the theme parks and the resorts. You are absolutely in control – it is YOUR vacation.  If you book via a travel agency the only thing that is different is your payments must be made via the agency.  One of the best things about that is you can work with your agent to set up a payment plan or schedule if you would like to pay your trip in increments.

    Donald Duck Dream Along With Mickey

    3. You don’t need one

    Honestly, I need one…. and I’ve been visiting for over 45 years!  I don’t need one to recommend dining or link my resort for me, but walking through the planning process to make sure I haven’t forgotten anything is priceless.  If there is a new discount, an event, or website glitch that requires a call to Disney – the agent calls for you.  If there’s a hurricane that happens to plan to visit at the same time as you and you need to change your dates, an agent is there to support you.  They will spend the time on the phone with the call center figuring out what can be done for you.

    A good travel planner will talk to you about the different resort hotels that might be the best fit for you.  They may even suggest ones that are a better deal for you given what they know about the promotions and pricing.  There are so many Disney resorts that it’s nice to have someone sift through that information for you.

    4.  All of the information is online anyway

    Sure, and you still can do your own research when you’re using a travel agent, but they’ll help you decipher the truth from the ‘click bait’ online.  We all have friends who have advice or read something somewhere, but how do you know what’s really going on?  I am often left shaking my head at some of the advice I read online.  You don’t know if the person in the Facebook group has years of experience with their own trips. Often they have been one time 7 years ago and are advising you based on what they got to experience or what they heard about their friends’ trips.  Social media is great for pictures and quick info, but it takes a lot of effort to sift through what is real and what isn’t.

    Disney Travel Agent Areas of Focus

    Use an agent to bounce around ideas with your specific goals and family in mind.  Good agents draw on the tribal knowledge within their team and their own frequent experience to provide specific information tailored to your needs.  Why would you not want that extra resource at your disposal if it doesn’t cost you anything?

    5.  They’re all the same

    No, they aren’t all the same.  Like any profession, the travel industry has a variety of business models and qualifications and not all travel agents are created equal.  Please believe me when I tell you that walking in to a counter at one of those big box stores is not the same as calling an agency that has a focus on planning magical vacations.

    There are so many variables when choosing an agency to work with, and you need to make sure that they know what they’re doing!  Find an agency with a team of people who have relevant and recent personal experience who love what they do – that’s where you find the right one!

    When you’re looking to plan your next vacation – read my article on why you need a Disney Travel Agent for your trip.

    Looking for a Facebook group with accurate info?  Join my group here.


    What I learned travelling to Walt Disney World with 2 children under 5

    Traveling with small children can be no easy feat, but the memories you make will be worth it in the end. I took my kids to Walt Disney World for their first trip when my daughter was 5 and my son was 2.5. They were, in my eyes, the perfect age to enjoy the magic but I got some valuable insight from the experience of traveling with 2 children under 5!

    I have listed my top 5 tips based on the experience with my kids.

    1.  Choose Your Commute Carefully!

    Depending on where you’re traveling from, getting there can be a big decision. Are you going to drive or fly? It really comes down to what you think is best for your family, considering the cost and practicality of it. We chose to fly for the kids first trip so they could experience a plane and Disney’s Magical Express for the first time. If you’re flying make sure you pick good flight times, sometimes the cheapest, isn’t always the best. We had a 6am flight out of Toronto which meant having to leave our house at 2am! This was really hard on their little bodies (so much that my daughter was sick before we even left home). They ended up sleeping on the plane, which was great but if I had to do that again, that would be the one thing I’d change! If you choose to drive (which we have done since), make sure your kids are well entertained with books, movies, colouring books, etc. Maybe try doing a long day drive to test for motion sickness ahead of time.

    Stuffed Animal On The Plane to Disney

    All buckled up and ready to go!


    2.  Bring Comforts From Home

    When we were getting ready to go on our vacation, we wanted to make sure we packed comforts from home to not only help them feel safe and comfortable but also in case of any meltdowns that may happen (and they do happen). This could be a stuffed animal or toy, or even their favourite book. These small things will make a world of difference when your little one is feeling tired or overwhelmed with the busy days. My daughter had fun buckling in her stuffed sheep on the plane and one evening we came back to our room to find her barbies set up on the bed from the Mousekeeping Cast Members!

    Barbies In A Pirate Bed At Disney Caribbean Beach Resort

    3.  Bring Your Own Snacks

    We made the decision to bring our own snacks and juice boxes from home. Yes, this added to the weight of our suitcases but it was a great idea that helped get through the days, and let’s face it, it’ll offset the weight of souvenirs coming home. We made our own trail mix and put it in Ziploc containers so that we could grab a cup a day for the kids to snack on. This is huge for parents with picky eaters! Then you know for sure they are going to eat something they like. The juice boxes we wrapped in a garbage bag for the way down, just in case a few decided to leak in our suitcases, and then the garbage bag doubled as a dirty laundry bag for the way home! We also put granola bars in containers so they didn’t get squished which helps give everyone, not just the kids, a little energy boost through the day.

    4.  Bring A Stroller

    If you have kids 5 and under, I strongly recommend bringing a stroller from home or renting one. We chose not to bring our double stroller so that we didn’t have to worry about it on the plane, but we made sure to put the rental in our budget when planning. We rented a double-stroller from Kingdom Strollers that could seat 100lbs on each side, came with a rain cover, shades that pulled all the way forward and the backs of the stroller laid down completely! It was a life (and back) saver! Not only was it great for giving the kids little legs a break, but it gave them a shady spot to sit and enjoy and snack. It also provided my son a great nap area because the back laid down completely. Even my daughter who was 5 used it to rest even though she wanted to go, go, go! Which brings me to my final point…

    5.  Know Their Limits

    If your little one is tired and needs a nap, let them! Don’t be worried about them missing out on things because everyone will feel better after they’ve napped. My son slept through the Festival of Fantasy parade in Magic Kingdom and Finding Nemo: The Musical in Animal Kingdom. They make for pretty cute pictures! You can also find shady areas to relax, like the Rapunzel rest area, or do a quiet, indoor attraction, like The Enchanted Tiki Room or Tomorrowland Transit Authority’s PeopleMover. There’s also no harm in going back to your resort for a rest and continuing with the day once everyone is freshened up! This reduces the risk of those unmagical meltdowns happening.

    Matthew at Disney

    Traveling with my kids when they were so young was such a rewarding and memorable experience. If I had to go back, I would take them again but even younger! I absolutely love the memories we made and the pictures we have from that trip, it’s still one of my favourite trips to Walt Disney World that I’ve ever taken!

    Kids at Chef Mickey at Walt Disney World



    About Ashley

    About Ashley

    Ashley’s love of Disney started at a very young age, watching Disney movies and sing-alongs.  Her family was fortunate enough to travel while she was growing up so she caught the travel bug quite early.

    Ashley was only 10 years old on her first trip to Walt Disney World and she still loves it just as much as she did then.  In fact, she loves it so much that she honeymooned at Walt Disney World when she got married.  Now Ashley enjoys her Disney vacations with her family and when she’s not there – she’s helping other families plan their magical adventures.

    Follow Ashley on Facebook Here

    Disney Facebook Groups – Some Aren’t So Magical After All

    Disney Facebook GroupsI don’t know about you, but Facebook a part of my every day routine.  I love that I can sign in and see tidbits from people’s lives and connect with those that I don’t get to see often enough.  I have made some wonderful friends on Facebook from the Disney community, and it’s always fun to follow along on their vacations, getting ideas of things I might like to try the next time I visit.  I keep up to date on news and little gossip, but I always remember to take each piece of information with a grain of salt unless it comes from an official Disney source.

    Disney groups on Facebook used to be a real source of entertainment for me.   I was always amazed by how perfect strangers can get so angry with each other over silly stuff, it was like the online version of the Real Housewives series.  I have to admit that I used to read these posts, but I rarely commented.  I would get out my popcorn, sit back and enjoy the show until an admin deleted the thread, but I just can’t do that anymore.

    While there are a LOT of Dinsey groups on Facebook, there are a few that are managed by some real characters (pun intended!) that really bother me.   I’m not sure if it’s just my love of Disney that finds them offensive or the manner in which the Admins conduct themselves that disturbs me.  It’s expected that any really frequent visitor will have a few negative reviews or experiences in the parks.  We won’t like everything, but we can and should share those opinions in a manner that is useful and constructive to the community who are planning their vacation.

    There are a couple of groups that drove me crazy that I had to remove myself from.  The first is one that is run by a local who sells merchandise with Disney copyright images, I often wonder why Disney hasn’t shut it down.   While the admin doesn’t work for Disney, he represents the ‘ultimate fan’ to some people online.  He has posted about restaurants that give him tummy issues (only he isn’t so delicate with his words).  He’s made videos ranting about guests suggesting that the majority of them don’t shower and has called them idiots and morons.   His representation of what is wrong with the parks is inflammatory and creates hostility in those that follow him.  He has many social media posts that are bullying, racist and downright unkind, not the kind of ‘Disney fan’ you would want to follow.

    Pixie Dust Fan's Tee Public Store

    Pixie Dust Fan’s Tee Public Store

    The second group that makes me cringe is one that is actually sponsored by a BUSINESS that rents out Disney Vacation Club points.  I bring up the sponsorship because it’s fascinating to me that a business would want to be associated with this group.  The admins are mean – and take great pride in BEING mean to others.  They have entire threads in the group meant for shaming guests!  They encourage pictures of guests doing things that they deem ‘not right’ in the parks and then they each take turns shaming them.  For example – they will post a picture of someone sleeping in a resort lobby and call it ‘hobo napping’.  What they don’t know is if this person is ill, or if they have some kind of disorder, or if they are unbelievably tired because they were up all night with a sick child.  They don’t know the circumstances, but feel like making fun of them is the right thing to do.  I think it’s horrible and for that reason, I would NEVER support the business that sponsors them and will go out of my way to make sure others don’t either.  Can you imagine finding YOUR picture online because someone caught you nodding off at Disney?

    There are people who are researching their first trip to Walt Disney World in these Facebook groups.  It’s sad because they’re reading these rants and reviews, and their expectations of their vacation are being tarnished by them.

    I think it’s important for people to have a safe place to ask their questions and share their love of Disney!  You can’t be in an environment where you may get a public shaming for asking a question.  That’s the real reason I decided to create a Pixie Dust Fans group on Facebook.  It’s a place where everyone is nice – and welcoming!  We talk about the Disney stuff that makes us happy – after all, isn’t that what Disney is all about??  Stop by and see us, you’ll be glad you did!

    What’s your biggest pet peeve about Facebook groups?


    How Do You Use Disney’s Magical Express?

    Disneys Magical Express Bus

    UPDATE JANUARY 11, 2021:  Disney’s Magical Express will no longer be offered beginning January 2022.  See updates here


    Disney’s Magical Express is a complimentary transportation to and from Orlando International Airport (MCO) for guests staying at a select Walt Disney World Resort hotels.  I’ve got a full post on What IS Disney’s Magical Express, but here you’re going to learn:

    How do you use Disney’s Magical Express?

    Here’s step by step what you need to know to enjoy this fantastic COMPLIMENTARY service!

    Make your reservation

    If you’ve booked your Walt Disney World resort package with a good Disney Travel Agent, they will make the reservation for you.  If you booked yourself, you would need to submit the request for transportation with Disney direct or online here.

    When you request Disney’s Magical Express you need to provide:

    • Resort Name
    • Resort Reservation Number
    • Number of Guests (they must be on the reservation to use the Magical Express)
    • Airline
    • Flight Number
    • Mailing address for the luggage tags

    Recieve your information package:

    UPDATE – Beginning July 2020 – Luggage transfers will not be provided.  You must pick up your luggage at the carousel and take it with you to the bus.  It’s unclear if this will revert back at a later time.

    Your luggage tags will arrive in advance of your trip if you have provided enough time for them to send them – usually 2 or 3 weeks is sufficient but the more time the better!

    Disney Magical Express Luggage Tags

    The luggage tags will have all of the information that Disney needs to retrieve your luggage from the carousel and deliver it to your ROOM at your Walt Disney World Resort IF you put the tags on your luggage before you check them at your departure airport.  This service of luggage delivery is NOT available if your flight lands between 10PM and 5AM.

    Some things to keep in mind if you choose to have Disney bring your luggage:

    • Your luggage may not arrive until 3 hours after you do
    • Keep medications and important documents with you
    • If you plan activities for as soon as you arrive at the resort – make sure you have the necessary things with you (like your bathing suit!)
    • If you have your Magic Band already – keep it with you and don’t pack it in your luggage

    If you did NOT get your luggage tags in advance, not to worry!  You can still have Disney pick up your luggage for you – just head to the Magical Express Service location and give the representative your claim tickets from the airline!

    You can also choose to NOT put the tags on and pick your luggage up yourself and take it to the motorcoach with you.  If you decide that you are going to retrieve your own luggage – do NOT put the tags on. 

    Get on the plane in your home town – you’re going to WALT DISNEY WORLD!

    Make sure you’re prepared for ALL of the things that go with flying… here’s a list of some simple (but often forgot) things you should plan for

    Arrival at Orlando International Airport

    When you land (YAY!) it’s so exciting, you just can’t WAIT to get to Walt Disney World.  Now – you need to find the Magical Express!

    Orlando Airport (MCO) is probably one of the best signed airports I’ve been to, they have signs everywhere.

    MCO Shuttle


    Jump on the first ‘ride’ of the trip – the train from your arrival gate to the main terminal

    Upon arrival in the main terminal, follow the signs

    Either pick up your bags at the carousels here


    Keep following the signs to the Ground Transportation Area in Terminal B on level 1

    MCO Ground Transportation


    When you get off the plane, enter the US Immigration Checkpoint

    After you get your luggage – proceed to the Customs Checkpoint

    After completing the customs and immigrations process, decide if you’re taking your luggage with you or if you want Disney to transfer it.  If you would like Disney to transfer it, put it BACK on the carousel.

    NOW YOU get to experience the first ‘ride’ of the trip – the train from your arrival gate to the main terminal

    Upon arrival in the main terminal, follow the signs to the Ground Transportation Area in Terminal B on level 1

    Arrive at the Magical Express Counter in Terminal B Level 1

    Magical Express Arrival Counter

    As you pass all of the car rental companies etc – you’ll see the Magical Express counter.  Here is where you will present either your Magic Bands OR your resort reservation confirmation.  Don’t worry if you don’t have your Magic Bands in advance, Disney can only ship to some countries.  If they can’t be shipped – they will be waiting at your resort for you.

    When you check in with your Magic Bands or Resort confirmation, the cast member will validate the members of your party are all there and then direct you to a ‘lane’ – the bus line for your resort.  Resorts in the same area share buses, so there could be 3 or 4 stops on the bus route, but it’s generally pretty quick.  People on the bus don’t dilly-dally because they are anxious to start their vacation!

    Magical Express Lines

    Get on that bus!

    When your bus arrives the cast member will direct you to the bus in the bay.  Here’s where the driver will load your luggage in to the base of the bus if you’ve brought it with you.  If you didn’t bring it – it will be coming separately and NOT on this bus.  Take your seat on the bus – remember that the first couple of rows are reserved for guests with mobility issues and they will be marked as such.

    Inside Disneys Magical Express

    Each seat is comfy and you get a great view of the overhead TVs that will show you some fun things you need to know before you start your vacation.  It’s the perfect way to get you excited for what’s to come!

    Individual lighting and vents are above the seat for comfort and there is a restroom at the back of almost all of the buses.

    No car seats required, the little ones can sit on their own seat or your lap.

    Sit back, enjoy the show on the TV – you’ll be at the resort in no time!

    The driver will call out the name of the resorts as they pull in – make sure you’re getting off at YOUR resort!  Gratuities are appreciated by these drivers.

    Now you’ve arrived – go check in and start your vacation!!  Remember if you didn’t bring your luggage it will arrive up to 3 hours later.


    Have FUN!  UNTIL…….

    IT’S time to go home

    The wonderful people at Disney’s Magical Express will drop by your resort room the day before you are set to check out and hang the ‘eviction’ notice on your door.

    Inside the envelope will be all of the information you need for a smooth ride to the airport.

    Magical Express Check Out Letter

    HOLD ON TO THIS PAPER – this is your confirmation and “ticket” to get on the bus.

    Make note of the pick up time – and be there EXTRA early!

    Disney does NOT want to be responsible for people missing flights, so they keep a very tight schedule.  If the bus says it’s leaving at 7:50 – its leaving at 7:50.  Don’t be late.

    The morning of departure

    Arrive EARLY to the bus stop at your resort with your luggage.  It will be transported with you on the bus to Orlando International Airport

    Magical Express Departure Bus Stop

    Have your paperwork with you – make sure you have that letter they left you the night before!  It confirms your seats and time on Disney’s Magical Express

    When the bus arrives, the driver will load your luggage and you can take a seat on what is now known as “Disney’s Tragical Express“.  You know – it’s tragic ’cause the vacation is over right??

    Sit back in your seat and watch the cartoons… they try to cheer you up and make you laugh!

    Upon arrival at the airport the driver will unload your luggage and be appreciative of any gratuities.

    Take your luggaage, wave goodbye to the Mickey bus and find your check in counter for your airline.

    *For select resorts and guests, there is a Resort Airline Check In service available so that you can check in for your flight at your resort.   If you plan to use this service, make sure you allow plenty of time for it before your scheduled departure.

    Enjoy Orlando International Airport

    Even though the vacation is over, there is still plenty of shopping and fun things to see in the airport!  On your train ride back to the terminal, Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer will thank you for coming.  It’s funny, I’m always happy to hear is voice on the train when I arrive and when I leave… it’s like the two bookends of the trip!

    Have you used Disney’s Magical Express?

    What is Disney’s Magical Express?

    Disney Magical Express

    UPDATE JANUARY 11, 2021:  Disney’s Magical Express will no longer be offered beginning January 2022.  See updates here

    Disney’s Magical Express is round trip complimentary transportation between Orlando International Airport and your Walt Disney World resort in Florida.

    Yes, you read that right, it’s complimentary (FREE) for all guests staying at a Disney Resort hotel in Walt Disney World for the dates of their resort reservations.  

    There are many benefits to Disney’s Magical Express:

    Cost Savings

    Save money because you don’t need to rent a car, Uber or taxi to and from the airport to your resort.  

    Of course if you want luxury travel to/from the airport I would recommend a Minnie Van!  But…they’re not free 🙂


    Car Seats – Transportation is provided via motor coach and child safety seats are not recommended.  Children can sit on their own seat, or on the lap of an adult.  This saves you bringing and or renting a car seat!

    Wheelchairs – the motor coach will accommodate wheelchairs too!  Just make sure you indicate that on your Magical Express reservation or let your Travel Agent know.

    Service Animals – Service animals can join their owners on Disney Transportation motorcoaches


    No need to worry about directions on how to get there or fuss with a rental car, let Disney do the driving for you.

    Select Disney Resort hotels offer airline check in before boarding the Magical Express.  Full details are here

    Disney Magic

    You’ve finally arrived in Orlando and you’re ready to start your vacation!  What better way to start than with a bus ride with videos all about what you can expect on your vacation!  This is when the excitement really kicks it up a notch!  When you’re returning to the airport – there are some great cartoons you can watch! 

    On your next vacation to Walt Disney World will YOU use this service?

    For details on HOW to use Disney’s Magical Express – click here.

    Check out our Tee Public Store Here

    Pixie Dust Fan's Tee Public Store

    Pixie Dust Fan’s Tee Public Store

    Fuel Rods Continue To Be Free Swaps At Disney?

    Read here for up to date information on the FuelRods at Walt Disney World:  FuelRod is one of my ‘must have’ items

    Fuel Rod DisneyThe FuelRod is one of my ‘must have’ items when I visit Walt Disney World, so I was very concerned when news broke in 2019 that they were going to start charging $3 for every swap!  I know that I could use the one I bought on Amazon instead and charge it myself, but it is convenient!  I have to charge my phone probably 3 times per day while I’m in the parks.  Taking videos and pictures, doing live streams – it drains the battery.  Having the ability to swap the FuelRod is better than carrying one of the bigger batteries that would hold 3 or 4 charges worth, the FuelRod is much lighter in my bag.

    In late 2019 Disney had started putting signs on the FuelRod kiosks announcing the $3 fee for a swap after they had previously had unlimited ones.  They updated the website to say the same:

    From the Disney site when the charges were first being communicated

    My friend was there on October 27th 2019 and snagged a pic for me of the stickers on the FuelRod stations

    Fuel Rod charged $3 for every swap

    Stickers showing $3 Charge as of November 1st 2020

    There was quite a backlash from the Internet about the charges and a lawsuit was even filed?  Really?  A lawsuit over the fact that you were promised unlimited swaps and now it’s $3?  I think the world has gone mad… and I refuse to link to the ‘lawsuit’ articles because I personally think it’s ridiculous.  Anyway…

    As of November 1st – Disney has reconsidered and has taken the stickers OFF of the FuelRod locations and has released the following statement:

    “A decision has been made to not implement the $3 portable charger swap fee until further notice. Guests can continue to swap their FuelRod portable chargers using FuelRod’s owned and operated kiosks at Walt Disney World Resort for no additional cost at this time.”

    The Walt Disney World website now shows this again:

    Fuel Rod description Disney site

    Back to normal

    I am happy about the reversal in the decision – but can’t for the life of me figure out why they would change it?  Did they not KNOW there would be people complaining?  Did they get more complaints than they realized?  We may never know… For now – I’ll put the FuelRods back in my travel bag and enjoy the unlimited swaps!

    UPDATED JULY 2020 – The company has created a “Founder” Status to grandfather people who bought the original ones under the impression it was unlimited free swaps.  They released this statement:

    “SAN DIEGO – July 10, 2020 – Tricopian, Inc. (DBA: FuelRod) announces the availability of the “Founders” status in recognition of the continued support and loyalty of the most valued customers and “early adopters” (*) of FuelRod’s world-first, power-on-the-go program. The creation of the “Founders” status also resolves pending litigation against it pertaining to changes in its policies regarding charges for swapping its devices.(**) As a Founder, the customer can continue to enjoy free, unlimited swaps at any FuelRod kiosks (***). There is no cost to eligible customers to become a Founder.

    Once verified, Founders will use the FuelRod app in conjunction with the kiosks to obtain free swaps under the program. The app will generate a scannable QR code that will be input at the kiosk at the time of the swap. The kiosk will then allow Founders to swap their existing FuelRods for free, even at kiosks that charge to swap.”

    All existing FuelRod customers are encouraged to verify their eligibility by completing a simple questionnaire at


    Disney Skyliner Now Open

    The Disney Skyliner is a whole new way to get around at Walt Disney World!  This state of the art system provides new transportation options for those visiting Epcot and Hollywood Studios from 4 Disney resorts.  The gondola connects Pop Century, Art of Animation, Caribbean Beach and the NEW Disney Vacation Club property – Disney’s Riviera Resort to both Epcot and Hollywood Studios.

    This map shows the routes and connections for the Skyliner!

    There was a lot of talk before these were open because they weren’t going to have air conditioning.  Each car has ventilation with a cross breeze that generates while the car is in motion.  You can see the openings at the top of the cars that create the breeze to keep guests comfortable. 

    Of course with any Disney opening – there is special merchandise available to celebrate the ocassion!

    This new option for transportation is giving us something special aside from getting from point A to point B, this gives us a view from ABOVE the Disney property.  While you’re travelling along the routes you will have a new perspective, espcially over the water enroute to Art of Animation, coming in to International Gateway at Epcot and being above Caribbean Beach?  These are all going to be very picture worthy shots!

    The other cool thing about the gondolas is that they are equipped to handle ECVs and Wheelchairs without disrupting the flow of the cars.  Much like the cars in Toy Story Midway Mania – the cars that are equipped for Wheelchairs and ECVs can be taken in and out of the rotation while guests board.  This allows the guests to board safely without feeling rushed or holding up all of the other cars on the line. 

    Efficiency and fun – all rolled in to one.  What could be better?

    I have friends who are a bit afraid of heights that may opt for the bus, but I think I’ll be enjoying this new mode of transportation for years to come!

    What do you think?  Will you be riding?  

    How To Use Disney’s Minnie Van Service

    Minnie Van At Walt Disney WorldWhen the Minnie Van service was first announced, I was pretty excited.  Having another option to renting a car or taking the bus was something I had been hoping for.  I love that Disney has so many transportation options, but it isn’t always the most comfortable at the end of a long night when I just want to get back to my room.

    I had the opportunity to try the Minnie Van service when it first launched and I could not have been happier.  I didn’t just try the service once, I loved it so much I used it 8 times in 4 days!  My poor rental car stayed in the parking lot for 4 days untouched!

    Once you download the Lyft app and have the Minnie Vans activated, you will see all of the options for cars – and one clearly marked “Minnie Van” (with ears of course!)

    Minnie Van Lyft Options

    You select the Minnie Van as the car you want – and then ‘Request Minnie Van Service’.  It will show you if any vans are in your area.  Mine was so close because it was literally parked outside while I was requesting it!

    Minnie Van Request Service

    You’l be able to see on your app the car number, the licence plate as well as the estimated time of arrival.  You can watch the car on the map as it’s coming and will get a text message (if enabled) when the car arrives.

    Minnie Van Pick Up

    The app itself takes care of the payment using the credit card you entered when you set up the app.  

    After your ride you do have the option to tip the cast member if you choose.

    Minnie Van Car 40

    The vans are large and comfortable vehicles that can seat up to 6 passengers.  Each Minnie Van has 2 car seats in the trunk if you need them for the little ones!  There are vans that also service guests with special needs such as wheelchairs or ECV’s, those can be arranged by calling 407-828-3500.

    Minnie Van Car Seats

    Minnie Van Car Seats

    Minnie Vans are available at all Walt Disney World resorts and anywhere on property.

    There are many reasons to use the Minnie Van service, you can read about my top 5 here.

    Now the big question is – what does a Minnie Van cost?  Read my post here

    Disney Skyliner Opening

    Disney SkylinerDisney’s gondola system will be ready to transport guests beginning September 29, 2019.   This state of the art system will provide new transportation options for those wanting to visit Epcot and Hollywood Studios from 4 Disney resorts.  The gondola will connect Pop Century, Art of Animation, Caribbean Beach and the NEW Disney Vacation Club property – Disney’s Riviera Resort to both Epcot and Hollywood Studios.

    I am excited for this skyliner, I think it’s going to be a unique experience with some fantastic views.  Aside from the time I went Parasailing on Bay Lake – I’ve never really had a birds eye view of Disney property that wasn’t the top of Bay Lake or the Contemporary.  The heights could be an issue for some, I know that I have friends who are already saying “you won’t get me up there”.

    There has been a lot of fuss over these gondolas, especially discussions about air conditioning.  Disney has assured us that there is ventilation.  I mean, can you imagine Disney creating this whole experience and then making it so uncomfortable that people won’t want to be on it?  Ya, I didn’t think so either.

    I think they’re a fabulous ‘throw back’ to the ones that were in the Magic Kingdom when I was a kid – and I can’t WAIT to ride the new ones!  What do you think?  Will you be riding?


    3 Things to consider before ordering groceries for your Walt Disney World vacation

    3 Things you need to consider before ordering groceries for your Walt Disney World vacation

    So you’re heading to Walt Disney World and thinking about how much spending money you’ll need each day for incidentals.  For me – my biggest cost is my bottles of water.  Really, the ‘healthiest’ thing I is drink plenty of water – I always have a bottle of it with me and when it’s hot out – I drink a ton at $3.75 each, it adds up quickly.  

    Dasani at Walt Disney World

    While water is my thing, many families like to have some snacks for breakfast before they leave the resort to avoid eating in the parks.  Or to have something they can take WITH them to the parks to avoid buying snacks there.  But how do you get groceries when you’re at a Disney Resort?  There are many delivery services – but before you order, there are some things you need to know:

    1. Charges at your Disney Resort

    There is a $6 USD charge for any deliveries at your Walt Disney World resort for which you need bell services to bring to your room.  If you want to go to bell services to pick up your packages, they are at no charge.   I personally prefer to have them bring them to my room – $6 is worth the convenience to me vs trying to lug cases of water!  Don’t forget to tip them as well, the bell serivces team (as with all cast members) work HARD to make your vacation magical.  

    2.  Selecting a delivery service

    While it seems pretty straight forward (look for the one with the cheapest fees) – not all deliveries are created equal!  Some things to consider before selecting your service:

    • Some offer a flat rate that is a less than others – but they also ‘mark up’ the items they are buying.  Compare the price of the actual items themselves in your calculations.
    • Decide what items you need before you start comparing.  Some things aren’t available at all stores – do they have substitutions?  What is the method for replacing something on your list?
    • Do you need alcohol?  (Ok, maybe not ‘need’ but want?).  Disney requires that if there is alcohol in your order you MUST meet the delivery driver to show ID.  No exceptions.  (This was implemented in Aug 2023).  If this is something that is in your order, you will have to consider the delivery window and availability of when you can meet your shopper.

    3.  Selecting your items

    Sure – it sounds like a great idea to order ahead.  There are some FANTASTIC things you can have sent to your room, but are you going to use/eat them all??

    It’s easy to get carried away ordering online, but remember that you are ON VACATION!  You will be snacking, eating and drinking in the parks and you may not want (or need) a whole ton of snacks that you ordered.  Will you be diligent in walking past the popcorn stands, cupcakes and other tasty treats in the parks to eat the granola bar in your bag?  So many people try to ‘save money’ by ordering groceries and end up spending more because they ordered too much.

    Another fun tip is to beware of the sizes of things.  I personally ordered 48 bottles of water and when they arrived – well, they were NOT what I expected. I didn’t know they made them this small!  

    small water

    Size DOES matter

    While saving money is an important piece of a Disney vacation for so many, the above factors should be considered in your planning.  

    There are many different services to choose from, all with different business models.  I have a few listed below the ones that I have personally used.

    Grocery Delivery Services at Disney:

    Vacation Grocery Delivery Florida

    This is the service that I have used on my most recent trips.  They have a flat rate for your groceries and they never mark up the items.  That means you get what the price would be if you went to the store yourself.  They primarily shop at Publix – which usually has everything you could want.

    The founders of this service are former Disney cast members and all round lovely people.  I had the pleasure of interviewing them on the podcast – check out episode 191 to get to know this incredible duo.

    Garden Grocer

    Garden Grocer is a full grocery store near Walt Disney World.  I have used them multiple times in the past and often check their prices to do the math when comparing.  They have a flat fee for delivery that is waived if your order is over $200.  If you order in advance, they also have additional savings based on how far ahead you order it.


    If you are an Amazon Prime member, you can use the Amazon Prime Delivery service!  Amazon Prime NOW can be ordered on short notice – with a 2 hour delivery window, it’s quick!


    I wanted to try Instacart while I was in Florida to see how it worked, and pretty much is the same as at home.  There are delivery fees AND they mark up the prices of the items.

    Do you have a service that you have used in Walt Disney World?  What type of things have you ordered?

    Magical Honeymoon Memories

    Disney Honeymoon Memories Kate

    Wedding season is upon us, which means that honeymoon season is upon us as well.

    According to, couples spend an average of $4,466 (USD) on their honeymoon, with eight days being the average length of trip.

    And while many people think of far-off destinations when they picture the perfect honeymoon, the majority of North American couples have stayed in North America for their honeymoons over the last five years. In fact, Florida is the second most popular US honeymoon destination in the United States (after Hawaii). 

    Disney without the kids?

    Even though Walt Disney World is known for creating magical moments with families and children, it can be the most magical place on earth for couples, too. 

    Gorgeously themed resorts, world class shopping, and signature dining experiences. What’s not to love?

    We caught up with one Pixie Dust Fan, Kate Seftel, who honeymooned at Walt Disney World in 2007. Kate, an elementary school teacher, and her husband Chris, a personal trainer and wellness coordinator, reside an hour west of Toronto.

    PMV Natalie:  Why did you choose Walt Disney World for your honeymoon?

    Kate: Chris and I decided on Walt Disney World because we are both active people who enjoy a “Go Go Go” vacation so that we can see and do everything! We also love rides!

    PMV Natalie:  Give us the details! What resort did you stay at?

    Kate: For our honeymoon, we decided to do a six day/7 night vacation and we stayed at Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort. We did all four parks over the six days, and doubled up on Epcot and Magic Kingdom.

    We also spent time at Downtown Disney and the West Side (now Disney Springs). We even spent a morning at Typhoon Lagoon.

    Disney Honeymoon Memories

    PMV Natalie:  What are some of the “magical” moments you remember?

    Kate: One of the things that made our honeymoon super special was that we wore “Just Married” buttons (provided by Walt Disney World Resorts) wherever we went. Every cast member that saw us wished us “Congratulations” and some chatted with us about our special day while we waited in line. It made every day extra special! Some restaurants wrote “Congratulations” on our dessert plates, too!

    PMV Natalie:  Was going to Walt Disney World for your honeymoon something you had to talk Chris into, or was Chris equally on board?

    Kate: This was definitely an easy choice for both of us. We had both been to Walt Disney World as kids in the ‘90s and we both really wanted to go back!. 

    PMV Natalie:  Would you recommend a Walt Disney World vacation for couples? Not just for a honeymoon, but for any couple looking to get away?

    Kate: For people that know us, we are a Walt Disney-obsessed couple. Our first trip was our honeymoon in 2007 and we returned in 2008, 2010 and 2012. We stayed off site once, and then at Disney’s Port Orleans Resort – French Quarter twice.

    Disney is a place that is magical for so many reasons and you can make the trip whatever you want to be! If you want some days off by the pool, you can do that. If you want first class shopping, Disney Springs provides that. You don’t need to rent a car….or you can, and go to surrounding attractions like Universal Studios.

    It really is a flexible as you want it to be.

    Disney Memories After The Honeymoon

    PMV Natalie:  Have you been back since 2012?

    Kate: As I said before, we traveled to Walt Disney World four times as a couple. We had our fifth trip together in July 2016, but not just as a couple – that time we brought our 3.5-year-old son for his first trip. We had an amazing time as a family, staying at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge and seeing it all again through his eyes!

    We have taken our son a few times now, and have another family trip coming up this summer!


    Natalie Thomas

    Natalie Thomas

    Natalie’s favourite park at Walt Disney World is Magic Kingdom. She finds nothing more magical than walking up Main Street USA and taking in the sights, sounds and smells. Natalie has a deep appreciation for how organized and efficient the Disney experience is each time she is there, and how nice and accommodating Cast Members can be!
    A “grown ups only” Disney trip with her husband is currently just a dream, as her trips currently revolve around her two young daughters. Natalie’s oldest daughter is now transitioning from princesses to thrill rides – so every trip to Walt Disney World is a brand new experience.

    Travelling With A Family With More Than 4 People

    Comfort Suites Bridgeport - Clarksburg

    Comfort Suites Bridgeport – Clarksburg. Photo c/o the Comfort Inn

    As someone who spends her days planning vacations for people, I have found that many places are designed for families up to 4 people. Hotels are generally 2 beds, Cruise state rooms fit up to 4 people, you get the idea! Given that my family is 5 (my husband, our 3 boys and myself), I thought I would take some time to consider how a family of 5 or 6 or possibly more could travel together in the most efficient way.

    Back when we would drive south with my parents, I can remember 2 out of the 4 of us were delegated to a sleeping bag on an air mattress or a line of pillows in the 2 bed hotel rooms.  Hey, we were kids on an adventure, we didn’t care!  Now a days I have to research our destinations and the plans to get to our destination more thoroughly to see how we can be accommodated.  While I have lots of different trips to share, I thought I would focus on a recent trip that we did. We chose to drive from the Niagara Region in Ontario Canada to Orlando.  We would be staying over at 2 hotels on the way, a night at a Disney Resort and then on to a cruise with Royal Caribbean.

    We chose to get a head start in our driving and left on a Friday night and made 2 overnight stops so that when we arrived at our Disney Resort, we could spend some time there. The first evening we spent at the Comfort Suites Bridgeport – Clarksburg.  It’s a place we had stayed before when driving to South Carolina, and thought it was a perfect place to check out again. What we like as a family is that it is quick off the highway, has an indoor pool (hard to find once you cross a certain point) and decent hot breakfast. The room we booked offered 2 Queen beds and a pull-out couch bed. Guess which bed the boys fought for!  This room allowed us all to have our own space and beds to lay our heads on. This hotel was clean and located in a quiet area.  We will absolutely stay here again if ever our travels lead us to that area.

    SpringHIll Suites Jacksonville Airport

    SpringHIll Suites Jacksonville Airport

    Our second night stay was at the SpringHill Suites by Marriott Jacksonville Airport. Spring Hill Suites falls under the Marriot brand, and I’m quickly noticing how well this brand could work for a larger family’s needs. This room also had 2 Queen beds, and a couch/bed, that also offered a trundle under it. 6 people could sleep in that room fairly comfortably. The breakfast was great, lots of fresh fruit, and the staff there even packed us up a little to go bag of water, apples and a few other snacks! What a nice touch!

    Disney's Contemporary Resort Garden Wing

    Contemporary Resort Garden Wing Room

    The next day we had a quick 3-hour drive to the Walt Disney World Resort.  This time around we chose to splurge at a deluxe property, and Disney’s ContemporaryResort was the way to go!  We wanted to be close to Magic Kingdom that evening as we were attending Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party. We reserved a Garden Wing – Standard View room that was in a separate wing behind the main building.  Let me tell you…BEAUTIFUL views!  We watched the boats run behind us yet it was a quick easy walk to the pool.  The room itself was very spacious and we were thankful to be not tripping over each other!  Like most of the deluxe resorts, it offered luxurious, soft Queen-sized beds (so nice to fall into after a busy night), and also had a great day bed/couch perfect for our tall pre-teen.  The bathroom area was also very large, with double sinks (yeah for lots of people brushing teeth at once) and even a separate water closet (toilet). Lots of closet storage that we didn’t have to use on our one-night stay, and a lovely little coffee center built in as well. We felt spoiled and would stay here again in heartbeat!

    Royal Caribbean Enchantment of the seas stateroom

    Royal Caribbean Enchantment of the seas stateroom

    Lastly, we arrived in Port Canaveral to take a short 4-night cruise with Royal Caribbean on the Enchantment of the Seas. Originally, we had booked on the Majesty of the Seas and we registered one of our children in a friend’s stateroom so we could choose rooms of 4 next to each other. When our ship was re positioned we were assigned to the Enchantment, and when I called into choose our stateroom, a category 1B Spacious Ocean View Balcony, we found out that it could fit 5!  We had one larger King bed (the twins pushed together), a Sofa bed for 2 and then Pullman for the last kiddo. Was it as spacious as our hotel rooms? Not quite.  Since we only slept there (and the oldest boy crept into the Pullman at night on his own after Teen Club Curfew hit) we didn’t mind a bit and I would say having a balcony gave us some extra sitting space too. Royal Caribbean often offers a Kids Sail Free promotion, being able to all be in a room together saved us quite a bit (almost ½ off the original price).

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    I hope this write up gives hope for you larger families to be able to travel together without always having to go a double room route! 


    Carolyn de Blieck

    Carolyn de Blieck

    Carolyn was born and raised in the Niagara area in Ontario and worked in many hospitality venues over the years.  She is a former Disney Cast Member and lifelong Disney fan.  Her life revolves around her family, her husband Maurice and their 3 sons Ethan, Aaron and Gavin.  

    Disney Parks Ban Wagons And Smoking

    There are rules you need to follow when you visit Disney property.  Whether its a resort, theme park or shopping district – they have rules in place to ensure a safe and happy environment for all guests.

    Disney Know Before You Go

    As you would expect, these rules need to be updated and refreshed at times.  The changes in the spring of 2019 are outlined below:

    1.  Loose and Dry Ice is not permitted

    Disney Ice Not Permitted

    I can only assume this was difficult at security check points to search.

    If you’re planning to bring a cooler to the park with some food or beverages you must use reusable ice packs.  You can no longer fill up your cooler with loose or dry ice.  Keep in mind your cooler cannot be bigger than 24″ long x 15″ wide x 18″ high.

    2.  Stroller Size Restrictions

    Stroller Size Disney

    Strollers can not be any larger than 31″ wide and 52″ long.  Many strollers on the market fit within these guidelines including double jogging strollers.

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    3.  Wagons are prohibited

    Wagons At Disney

    Wagons were not allowed in the parks (something you pull behind you) but then there came ‘stroller wagons’ that you could push.  Disney has specifically called out wagons of any kind – they are no longer allowed in the parks.

    4.  Disney Parks Are Now Non-Smoking

    Disney Bans Smoking

    No smoking inside Walt Disney World or Disneyland theme parks, water parks, ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex or Downtown Disney in California.

    As of May 1, 2019 Diney Parks in both Florida and California will be smoke free.  Designated areas will be provided outside of the parks.

    I can’t tell you how happy I am that I quit smoking last year.  This would have been really difficult for me to deal with – not being able to smoke in the parks.  I know the smoking areas need to be out of the way – I’m just not sure they had to be OUT of the parks!  I guess we’ll see what they have planned when it rolls out on May 1st.

    Disney Rules

    You can always find the rules on Disney’s official websites

    Are you impacted by these changes?



    Top 5 Date Night Activities at Walt Disney World

    Donald and Daisy Date Night

    Did you know that Walt Disney World is the world’s #1 honeymoon destination? I had my honeymoon at Walt Disney World in 2010, and we had so much fun, we’ve returned every year since! And because we don’t have kids, I’ve become a bit of an expert in planning adults-only trips.

    One of my favourite things to do is to help my clients plan special Date Nights together, whether they’re going on a romantic adults-only vacation, or leaving the kids with the grandparents or onsite babysitting services for the night. There are an almost-endless number of options for your special evening out with your sweetheart, but these are my five favourite Date Night activities.

     1  An Evening On The BoardWalk

    Disney’s BoardWalk is one of my favourite places to spend an evening with my sweetheart! Just like with Disney Springs, you don’t need a park ticket to visit the BoardWalk. There are tons of great bars and lounges, romantic ambiance, live entertainment, carnival-style games, and a huge area to explore together.

    Disney’s Boardwalk is one of my favourite places at night!

    Before your meal, stop for a pre-dinner cocktail at Abracadabar, a magic-themed cocktail bar, full of fun little details.

    Boardwalk Abracadabar Inside

    The AbracadaBAR is a fun place to stop in for a drink!

    My favourite dining location is Flying Fish. We have been here several times, and we’ve always had incredible meals! The menu is modern, inventive and exciting, with an emphasis on seafood, although they have lots of non-seafood options as well. The appetizers here are especially delicious, and if you’d like to share them, the kitchen is great at splitting them up between two plates! Dessert here is also great, but consider going a few doors down to Ample Hills Creamery instead, for some incredible, homemade ice cream. Split the Ice Cream Flight, where you get to choose 6 flavours to taste – I highly recommend the Ooey Gooey Butter Cake.

    Disney's Yacht Club Resort

    The Yacht Club Resort is a short walk from the Boardwalk

    Alternate dining recommendation: Yachtsman Steakhouse at Disney’s Beach Club Resort, just a few steps from the BoardWalk.

     2  The Monorail Tour

    This is one of my favourite Date Night activities! Head over to the Magic Kingdom and hop on the monorail – you can visit all three of the incredible Disney Deluxe Resorts on the monorail loop. Get off at each resort and do some exploring.

    A must-do is visiting Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto. There will likely be a bit of a wait to get a seat inside, but it’s worth it! Take a pager and they’ll call you when your table is ready. I don’t want to spoil anything, but let’s just say that when you order certain drinks, magical stuff happens in the bar.

    California Grill

    The view from California Grill can’t be beat!

    For dinner, the ultimate Date Night dining experience is going to California Grill. The food, service and atmosphere are among the very best that Disney has to offer. The restaurant is located at the top of Disney’s Contemporary Resort, and offers incredible views of the fireworks at Magic Kingdom, both from your seat, as well as from their own private viewing platforms. Try to book your reservation so you’re there during the fireworks, but if you can’t, hold on to your receipt, and you’re welcome return, to watch them from the viewing platforms! Another option is to watch the fireworks from a number of locations throughout the monorail resorts, such as on the beach in front of the Polynesian Village and the Grand Floridian Resorts, or the bridge linking the Contemporary Resort’s main tower to Bay Lake Tower.

    Alternate dining recommendation: ‘Ohana at Disney’s Polynesian Resort.

    Polynesian Village Resort

    Even if you’re not eating at Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort, it’s a great place for an evening stroll

    3  Epcot After Dark

    Without question, Epcot is the best park for table-service dining in general, but even more so when you’re planning Date Night! Arrive in the evening and spend plenty of time wandering through the World Showcase pavilions. I especially love Morocco, the UK, China and France at night.

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    Head over to Mexico’s La Cava del Tequila, for an authentic cocktail made with imported, top-shelf tequila. This is a very small, intimate spot, and it may be difficult to get a seat. If you don’t want to wait, you can get your drink “to go” from the bar!

    Canada Pavillion

    Canada is home to Le Cellier, it’s delicious!

    For dinner, there are SO many options to choose from but for Date Night, my personal favourite is Le Cellier Steakhouse in the Canada Pavilion. The dining room is quiet, with romantic lighting, and the food is delicious! Unlike at many other steakhouses, your steak comes with a side dish, which you are allowed to swap with any other side dish on the menu. There are excellent non-steak options on the menu as well. Try to book your table at around 7pm, so you’ll have plenty of time to enjoy your meal and find a spot for the fireworks, which usually begin at 9.

    After the park closes, if you’re not ready to head back yet, exit through the International Gateway entrance, and you’re just a 5-minute walk from the BoardWalk, where you can have more fun before returning to your hotel.

    Alternate dining recommendation: Monsieur Paul in France or San Angel Inn in Mexico.

    4  Exploring Animal Kingdom Lodge

    Animal Kingdom Lodge is a bit off the beaten path, but there is SO much to do once you get there! There are two resorts to explore – Jambo House and Kidani Village, and they each have their own animal savannah. For this itinerary, I would consider getting there a bit earlier. Look up the sunset time during your travel dates, and aim to arrive at least an hour before then.

    Animal Kingdom Lodge

    You could spend hours exploring this resort and all it’s details

    Begin by walking around the resort, spotting the animals, appreciating the incredible architecture, viewing the authentic African art, and finding all of the hidden nooks and crannies. Have a drink at Victoria Falls Lounge.

    Then, have dinner at Jiko – The Cooking Place. This is one of my favourite Disney Signature Dining locations! The menu is adventurous – you can find wild game meats, fresh-baked flatbreads, and authentic African offerings, as well as many non-intimidating dishes. The dining room is beautiful, and your server will do a great job of explaining any menu items that are unfamiliar to you. They have one of the largest South African wine lists outside of Africa!

    Animal Kingdom Lodge Relax

    Some very comfortable spots to relax and enjoy the resort atmosphere

    After dinner, step outside and sit by the gigantic fire pit, or borrow a pair of night vision goggles to see the animals at night.

    Alternate dining recommendation: Sanaa in the Kidani Village wing of Animal Kingdom Lodge.

    5  Under The Stars At Disney Springs

    In the past few years, Disney Springs has become a must-do location for many guests. When it comes to Date Night, there is no lack of wonderful options! Begin by taking some time to walk around the stores – spend time in The Art of Disney, the Christmas shop, the Marketplace Co-Op, and other adult-friendly shopping locations. Stop for a drink at Jock Lindsey’s Hangar Bar, the Indiana Jones-themed lounge – taste the incredibly inventive offerings, and appreciate the little details that surround you. You can also have a great drink at the top of the Coca-Cola Store, or sit and have a drink or a snack at the bars of Paddlefish or The Boathouse, two of my favourite restaurants.

    Paddlefish and Boathouse

    Both Paddlefish and Boathouse are exceptional choices at Disney Springs

    For dinner, you have so many restaurants to choose from, but my favourite is Frontera Cocina. This restaurant is from celebrity chef Rick Bayless, whom many consider to be the Julia Child of Mexican food – he travels throughout Mexico, to learn the most authentic, regional dishes, and introduces them to Americans. This is not your typical Mexican restaurant! There are often special, limited-time menus, showcasing specific Mexican regions like Oaxaca or Mexico City.

    After dinner, go for a walk around the newer section of Disney Springs, populated with mostly non-Disney stores. For dessert, stop into Amorette’s Patisserie for a fancy cake for two, or go to Ghirardelli Soda Fountain for one of the best ice cream sundaes you’ve ever had!


    If you have a sweet tooth, Amorette’s has exactly what you’re looking for!

    Disney Springs’s shops and eateries are open later than most other places on Disney property, so if you’re a night owl, this is the Date Night location for you.

    Alternate dining recommendation: Homecomin’ from chef Art Smith

    Want a few more recommendations?

    I asked a few friends for their favourite Date Night restaurants, and here are the top picks:

    1. California Grill
    2. Sanaa
    3. Le Cellier
    4. Yachtsman Steakhouse
    5. The Boathouse
    6. Morimoto Asia
    7. Flying Fish
    8. Jiko
    9. Beaches and Cream
    10. Citricos
    11. ‘Ohana

    Disney Springs From Saratoga Springs

    The view of Disney Springs from Saratoga Springs Resort

    Date Night Tips

    • Book early. If you want to catch the sunset or dine during a popular time, you’ll want to book your table as early as possible.
    • If you’re celebrating something like an anniversary, engagement or birthday, let the restaurant know in advance. Phone Disney’s main dining number (407-WDW-DINE), and have them note your celebration on your reservation.
    • Consider making your Date Night even MORE special with Disney Floral & Gifts, who can deliver a beautiful bouquet or cake to the restaurant, or even better, have a special surprise waiting for your sweetie when you return to your hotel room at night!
    • Choose your clothing wisely. Many of the fancier dining location have dress codes, but if you visit during the hotter months, it can be difficult to choose what to wear. For ladies, it’s easy to pack a comfortable, flowy skirt or dress, or Capri pants. For gentlemen, consider bringing a dressier pair of shorts (such as golf shorts – skip the cargo shorts) and a short-sleeve button-down or polo shirt.
    • Don’t waste too much time on transportation. To get from your own resort to another Disney resort hotel, it can take a long time on Disney transportation. Consider using Uber, Lyft or a Minnie Van instead. These options are quite inexpensive, and when you factor in the value of your time, it’s a very reasonable option.
    • Be careful with the drinks! The bartenders make delicious cocktails, and when you’re in a very hot climate, you’re sometimes a bit dehydrated to begin with. Drink lots of water before, during and after your Date Night.

    What Do You Think?

    Do any of these Date Night ideas appeal to you? Do you have any favourite Date Night activities that you would like to share?  Leave us a comment below!

    This article was written by Aydin Turgay – find him on Facebook here

    Experiencing The Magic, Not The Meltdown: Visiting Walt Disney World With A Child On The Autism Spectrum

    Disney DAS Mum and Son
    Anyone with a child or family member on the Autism Spectrum knows that routine and controlling outside stimulation is important.  Stepping out of what is familiar can be scary and lead to meltdowns which can be uncomfortable for everyone involved.  That’s why a family vacation can be both exciting and stressful.  I hoped that visiting the parks would be a great experience for us and I used all the resources I had to plan our days to fit closely to our regular routine. 

    I arranged everything important for the early morning so that after lunch, we could decompress and just go back to the resort for some pool time.  I knew we were missing out on some attractions and precious park time, but I also knew my son had a limit for waiting in lines and having to behave amongst all of the different sights and sounds that can become too overwhelming. 

    Disney DAS Pool Time

    Pool time was always important for us to decompress

    This worked well for us, but as he got older and became more of a thrill seeker, those wait times increased and I needed another plan.  I learned about DAS (Disability Access Service).  It is a game changer for us.

    Here are 5 tips you should know before visiting

    1 Setting Up DAS

    To set up DAS is actually quite a simple process.  Disney tries accommodate guests who could find long waits uncomfortable and difficult to handle.  I was nervous to ask for it.  Looking at my son you cannot tell there is anything different about him.

    He loves to have fun!

    What if they wanted proof?  As soon as I explained our situation, the cast member nodded and turned to my son.   She explained to him that he was the leader.  His band was a magic key that would get his family onto attractions through a VIP line.  This was all he needed to hear to perk right up!

    2 How DAS Works

    Once DAS is loaded to your family member’s Magic Band, you are eligible to use the system.  You simply visit the attraction that you would like to see and explain you will need a DAS return time.  They will program it to your family member’s band and let you know when to come back.  It’s that easy.  Sort of like an instant FastPass.  Return times vary depending on the actual wait times, so head for those with longer wait first if you didn’t get a regular FastPass (yes, you still get to prebook your original 3). 

    Disney DAS Tower Of Terror

    The Tower Of Terror is one of his faves!

    You can only have one DAS return programmed at a time.  When it’s time, you simply walk in through the FastPass entrance.  I love that at no point do we feel centered out or the need to explain our situation again.  (We had a terrible experience with a local amusement park’s version of this).  The important thing to note is your VIP has to be riding and they have to scan their band first to activate the DAS pass for the rest of your family members.  

    3 Take Breaks In The Park

    If there’s a longer wait between return times with DAS, use that opportunity to grab a snack somewhere nearby or find a play area and let the kiddos cut loose.  We love the play areas inside the Flying Dumbos tent and near Splash Mountain in Magic Kingdom,  the Boneyard in Animal Kingdom. 

    I never really understood them before I had kids.  Who needs to play on a little slide and some climbers when they are in Walt Disney World?  NOW I GET IT!  In Epcot, a lot of the attractions in Future World have hands on games and play structures that are a great to pass some time.  Most of them are after you exit the attraction, but you can simply walk in through the exit and head right for them.  They are also great  places to cool off in the air conditioning if it’s a hotter day.  The aquariums in the Seas with Nemo and Friends are also great, open spaces.

    4 Plan For Triggers And Things To Avoid

    Planning for possible triggers and knowing some things to avoid also helps us have better experience in the parks.  Disney provides resources that goes through many of the attractions and indicates some of the more sensory aspects that might be experienced (darkness, loud noises, restraints, surprise, etc.  Some of these might have an easy fix like wearing ear defenders to lessen the noises, but for those who cannot handle ride restraints or extended periods of darkness, it’s great to be aware of what you might encounter.  We also check out YouTube videos to get a better idea of what to expect if we are concerned about an attraction.  Being able to talk about what might happen in advance helps with some of the anxiety of experiencing something new. 

    5 Know The Limits

    Even with the FastPasses and DAS to help keep wait times down, our son can still hit a wall.  As much as we’d love to stay a little longer and do one more attraction or show – we know that sometimes it’s time to head back to the resort.  We try to stay Deluxe as often as possible since we do spend a large amount of time at the resort.  Many of the Deluxe resorts have some great, low key activities for kids so even our down time still has some Disney flare.  And the POOLS!  They have some great feature pools with slides and activities planned throughout the afternoon.

    Hopefully if you are considering visiting the Walt Disney World Resort and you will be travelling with someone on the Autism Spectrum, this helps you prepare so that you can spend more time experiencing the magic and not the meltdown!   

    Listen to Jenn discuss it all on the Pixie Dust Fan Podcast

    Disneyland Resort Increases Ticket Prices Before Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge Opening

    Disneyland Ticket IncreaseDisneyland has just announced an increase to ticket prices that has the internet all a buzz.

    The increases to the single and multi day tickets are not unreasonable when you consider the opening of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge this year. Disneyland Single and Multi Day Ticket IncreaseThe largest price increases came to the annual passholders.

    Disneyland Annual Pass Price Increases

    The premier pass is the one that offers access to both Disneyland and Walt Disney World, and has the biggest jump in price.

    It happens every time there is an increase, fans are up in arms saying they’ll never visit again, but sometimes you have to put things in to perspective like this Twitter fan.

    It is clear that the increase is meant to curb the crowds they anticipate will visit for Galaxy’s Edge.  The over zealous Star Wars fans will not be discouraged by a price increase, in fact I know many who would pay extra for the opportuity to visit with lower crowds – myself included.  I suspect this increase is to encourage more locals to purchase the tickets with blackout dates – this way Disney can control the crowd levels to some extent.

    What do you think of the increases?  Will it deter you from visiting Disneyland?



    Date-Based Tickets at Walt Disney World

    Date Based TicketsHow much are tickets to visit Walt Disney World?  The answer now depends on the date you want to visit.

    On October 16th, Walt Disney World will introduce a new pricing structure for park tickets where the cost is based on the dates you want to visit.  Disney is rolling out this new model along with a new online portal that is meant to simplify these changes.

    Disney has said the reason for the changes is to “better distribute attendance throughout the year so that we can continue to improve and deliver a great experience.”

    The actual pricing has not yet been released, but it will be interesting to see how different the price is for different dates.  The value of course will be in off peak times, and you will pay a premium to be there on New Years Eve I’m sure!  I think the problem will be with guests trying to compare dates and pricing – there are now more variables to consider when booking your vacation.  First you have to decide how many days, what parks, to hop or not?  Now you have to also consider if you’re arriving on the peak day of the week in peak season?  Should you arrive Sunday instead to get the better pricing than Tuesday?  The resorts have always fluctuated in price for peak times and weekends, but now that tickets will as well – the packages could have a substantial difference depending on when you arrive.

    The change has not been well received on social media:

    <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-conversation="none" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">Going to need an MBA to plan a Disney vacation soon.</p>— annie armes 🍦 (@anniearmes) <a href="">September 24, 2018</a></blockquote> <script async src="" charset="utf-8"></script> <!-- [et_pb_line_break_holder] -->
    <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-conversation="none" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">Have your systems been upgraded to deal with this? Is the website going to work? MDE hasn't exactly been functioning properly for a while now. Will these new tickets be seamlessly integrated into the existing systems?</p>— Ydnam (@ydnam) <a href="">September 24, 2018</a></blockquote> <script async src="" charset="utf-8"></script> <!-- [et_pb_line_break_holder] -->

    With all of these changes, it highlights yet another reason to use a travel agent who specializes in Disney travel.  I can’t imagine the big booking engines will be able to explain this one!  It will also make the comparison shopping that much harder – how do you know you have ALL the same components?

    Stay tuned for more updates as they are released, this currently only applies to Walt Disney World in Orlando.

    What do you think of these changes?

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    How much does a Minnie Van Cost in Walt Disney World?

    How much does a Minnie Van cost?  Well, like most transportation services – it depends on where you’re going and how busy it is.

    Minnie Van Car 40

    When Disney launched this service as a pilot in 2017 it was $20 USD for a trip anywhere on Disney property.  I was a big fan of the Minnie Vans and have used them on multiple trips.  The service is so easy to use and has become a permanent fixture on property.  As the program has evolved over time, so has the pricing.  What started out as a flat rate has now changed to a different pricing structure and a lot more expensive.

    There is no specific calculations for pricing that I can offer to give you the total cost. What I can do is share the screen shots from within the Lyft app when comparing a Minnie Van to the other types of Lyft options.  I have shared them through this article.  They are at different times of the day (peak times and not) going to/from different locations.  What is clear is the DIFFERENCE in the total price between a Minnie Van and a regular Lyft ride.

    Minnie Van to Coronado Springs

    My love of the Minnie Van service had me ordering them for years, even if it was more money than the ride-sharing services.  In my mind the benefits of using Minnie Van over the others were worth the price difference, but that was when it was a flat fee or the average cost was comparable.  Now that there is such a big difference in the price that I struggle to justify it to myself vs ordering a standard Lyft.  Especially with the “wait and save” option from Lyft.

    Minnie Van vs Wait And Save Lyft

    I was willing to wait a little bit – look at what I saved!

    With all of the transportation options offered around Walt Disney World property (Monorail, Disney buses, Skyliner, boats etc) – why would you need any of these services?  Sometimes it comes down to convenience as Disney transportation does not always have a route for where you want to go (say from hotel to hotel).

    For each person the benefits of Disney’s Minnie Van service will have a different value to consider.  Minnie Vans include complimentary car seats for the kids, something that is not required by other services.  It’s important to note that you also have an option for an accessible Minnie Van if you require one.

    Minnie Van Car Seats

    Minnie Van Car Seats

    The Minnie Van benefit of dropping you in more convenient locations around Walt Disney World and at the parks can give you a little extra time in your day.  For example – Minnie Van drivers can drop you right in the bus stalls at the Magic Kingdom, other ride services must drop you at the ticket and transportation center.  Being so close to the park entrance is a bonus when you start your day but even bigger bonus when the day ends!  The pick-up location requires a lot less walking at the end of a long day in only SOME of the parks.  Make sure you note where the pickup location is before determining if the Minnie Van is going to save you steps.

    Pick up Coronado Springs Minnie Van

    So do I use Minnie Vans like I used to?  No – but would I use them again?  Yes.  For me it depends on so many different things but it all comes down to convenience.  The ability for a Minnie Van to pick me up closer to where I am and avoid extra walking on a hot or rainy day can be worth it.  If I just need a lift from Disney Springs (because I don’t want to walk back to the bus stops) then Lyft or Uber work fine since the pick up is in the same location, the extra cost isn’t justified for me.

    Beach Club Minnie Van to Old Key West

    After a long day at Epcot I walked to the Beach Club to get a ride to Old Key West after the fireworks

    I used to think that having a friendly cast member to chat with was such a huge plus, but I feel like I would be doing a disservice to the fantastic Lyft drivers I have had during my stays.  I tend to use Lyft more than Uber while I’m on my Walt Disney World vacation and I have had some of the most interesting and fun conversations with the drivers.  Many of them prefer to stay on property and drive between the resort hotels and parks, but they have been just as lovely when taking me to the Orlando International Airport.  Given I’m Canadian, the Mears service picks me up EXTRA early for my flight departures home so I rarely use it going back.  I have used Lyft to take me to Universal Studios from my Disney resort as well.

    At the end of this I feel like I’ve written an article on why you should use Lyft instead of the pricing of the Minnie Vans, but I had to give my honest opinions.

    What do you think?  Would you use a Minnie Van vs the rideshare services?  Let me know in the comments.

    I do have a post on 5 reasons I love Minnie Vans too!

    One Thing Most Disney Travellers Don’t Plan For

    Empty PlaneThe one component of the perfect Disney vacation that most travellers don’t prepare for is the airport.  Sure you’ve planned your dining, tickets and resort, but what good is it if you can’t get there?  Do you know what the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) expects from you?  Are you ready for what is waiting for you at the airport?

    The mission of the TSA is to “Protect the nation’s transportation systems to ensure freedom of movement for people and commerce”.  Sounds kind of generic but there are specific things that the TSA do every day to keep us safe – and they could very well disrupt our travel plans!

    While each airport has different procedures, there are some general guidelines that can help make your flights as painless as possible.

    Here are 9 things you need to know before you get ready to fly.


    When the airline suggests arriving 2 hours before your flight, it’s for a reason.  Security check points can have extremely long waits for a variety of reasons.

    Recently there have been many posts from travellers at Orlando International Airport that the TSA has been swabbing each package of candy in a carry-on.  This has created some rather long lines given so many families flying home from Disney are bringing home lots of treats.  Do you want to miss your flight because you didn’t leave enough time for your 20 bags of candy to be swabbed?  And if you don’t have the candy – you can bet someone in front of you will!

    This is a view you don’t want to miss!


    Seems like a no brainer, but you would be amazed how many people don’t know what the required documentation is!  Your airline will have all of the information about what is required based on the cities that you’re flying to and from.  Make sure if both parents are not travelling together that you have the required paperwork to allow you to take the child with you.   Make sure these documents are in your carry-on, and not your checked bag!


    While some items that are not allowed in your carry-on are obvious (like a firearm or dynamite) – others are not.  Did you know that you Christmas Crackers and foam toy swords are not permitted?  What about the cordless curling iron your teenager always has in her bag for those last minute touch ups?

    It’s important to check before you get to the airport!  For the TSA list of items you can and can’t bring click here.

    Disney Shopping

    What can you put in your checked luggage vs your carry-on?


    Each airline has their own guidelines to how big your luggage and carry-on can be.  Know the dimensions allowed and the weight.  Having your checked bag be overweight can be very costly!  Invest in a luggage scale like this one from Amazon – we weigh our luggage ourselves before we leave to avoid surprises and delays.

    <iframe style="width:120px;height:240px;" marginwidth="0" marginheight="0" scrolling="no" frameborder="0" src="//<1=_blank&fc1=121111&lc1=161617&bg1=ffffff&f=ifr"><!-- [et_pb_line_break_holder] --> </iframe>


    When you’re going through security you may be asked to remove your shoes, jackets, belts and jewelry.  Anything that could set off the metal detectors can delay the process.  FYI – those lovely Alex and Ani bracelets trigger it every time!  I make sure mine are in my carry-on or checked bag.


    Still have that airline tag on your bag from your last trip?  Remove it.  While the airline will probably catch that one, it’s best to avoid any possibly confusion for the baggage handlers.

    Have a luggage tag with your name and contact information attached to your checked bag.  Consider using your work address for security reasons and your cell phone number since it will be with you.

    Disney luggage


    I wish I could tell you how many times I have been travelling with someone who has ‘lost’ their boarding pass.  It’s easy to do – you use the restroom, get a drink, do a little shopping and leave it on the counter.  You’re going to need it to board the plane – so make sure it’s always with you.  I have a ‘passport wallet’ like this one to make sure I have everything together at all times.

    <iframe style="width:120px;height:240px;" marginwidth="0" marginheight="0" scrolling="no" frameborder="0" src="//<1=_blank&fc1=302828&lc1=121314&bg1=ffffff&f=ifr"><!-- [et_pb_line_break_holder] --> </iframe><!-- [et_pb_line_break_holder] -->


    Don’t waste time trying to find your airline or your gate.  Some airports are HUGE and can take a great deal of time trying to get from one place to another.  Connecting flights can be disastrous if you haven’t left enough time in between them to get to where you’re going.


    Your airline website and the airport websites are the place to get the best information.  Check your flight status for delays, expected wait times and terminal maps before you go.  Lots of well meaning strangers on Facebook & Twitter will give you advice, but they won’t be there to help you if you get denied boarding.

    Orlando International Airport site:

    Flying is a critical piece in your vacation that deserves attention.  With the right planning you can avoid unnecessary stress and enjoy the journey as well as the destination.

    “A goal without a plan is just a wish.”

    Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

    Have you experienced issues at the airport that you weren’t prepared for?  Leave us a comment below!

    *Disclosure:  We are a participant in the Amazon Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon and affiliated sites.

    Dogs Welcome At Select Walt Disney World Resorts

    Mickey and PlutoBeginning Sunday, October 15th, 2017, the Walt Disney World Resort will welcome guests – and their dogs – to four of its resort properties, and I’m not sure how I feel about it.

    Guests at Disney’s Yacht Club Resort, Disney Port Orleans Resort – Riverside, Disney’s Art of Animation Resort and the cabins at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground will be permitted to have up to 2 dogs in their resort room for an additional charge.

    Each property’s per night / per room pet-cleaning rate is:

    • Disney’s Art of Animation Resort $50/night
    • Disney’s Port Orleans Riverside Resort $50/night
    • Disney’s Yacht Club Resort $75/night
    • Cabins at Disney’s Ft. Wilderness Resort $50/night

    While Disney states that the guests are responsible for the proper care, behaviour and waste maintenance of the dogs, I struggle to see how it will be enforced.

    The rules indicate that the dogs must be well behaved and should not be left unattended in the room for more that 7 hours.  If the dog is making noise while you are out (at the parks enjoying your vacation) they will call you to address the issue within 30 minutes.  Given that Disney recommends up to 90 minutes to travel on property for dining reservations, I’m not sure how they expect owners to come back to their resort within 30 minutes to address ‘noise’.

    I must admit that when I read the announcement, my first reaction was “NO”, this is not a good idea.  I love some dogs, but I’m afraid of big ones – I have been all my life, so the thought of a big dog being in the hallway with me at my resort makes me very uncomfortable.  There are people with severe allergies who would be concerned about checking in to a room where the previous occupant had 4 legs, but that is an issue today with service animals.


    Anna’s dog loves Disney too!

    I know that Disney will do whatever they can to make ALL of their guests happy, but I think I may have to reserve judgement on this one until I see it in action.  I was not affected adversely by any of the dogs on property during Hurricane Irma, it was quite the opposite.  I loved seeing them playing around outside of the resort and they were all lovely, gentle dogs that I had the pleasure of being around.

    On the other hand, I know that not all pet owners are responsible and not all dogs are well behaved.  My sister has 2 west highland terriers, and while I love them dearly – they bark at their own shadows.  That’s not a metaphor or exaggeration – if there is too much sunlight, it drives them CRAZY and they will spend hours barking at their own shadows.  I will reiterate again, I do love them – but I wouldn’t want to be in a resort room next to them… especially on a sunny day!

    Angus and Dug

    Angus & Dug Looking Well Behaved – no shadows!

    Disney Facebook groups and Twitter have been very active with people sharing their opinions.  Guests feel very strongly both for and against it, but it’s big news!  Even People picked up the story today!

    <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">Attention Disney Lovers! Now Your Dogs Can Stay at Disney World Hotels with You <a href=""></a></p>— People (@people) <a href="">October 13, 2017</a></blockquote> <script async src="//" charset="utf-8"></script>

    Service animals have been in the parks and resorts for years, and while there has been some chatter about people taking advantage of the ‘service animal designation’ – the volume of animals was pretty limited.  How will this change with this new policy?  Only time will tell.

    I believe it will still be a small number of guests who will pay the cleaning fee in addition to their resort reservation to bring their dogs with them.  Who would want to pay $50 per day to leave your dog at the resort while you’re at the Magic Kingdom?   Why not have them at the Best Friends Pet Care Centre where they would not be alone and have plenty of activities to keep them entertained?

    Otis 2

    How much trouble could this guy cause??

    While the logistics of how this will work are still to be seen, it will be interesting to watch how Disney handles the negative feedback to this and multiple requests for ‘deep cleaning’ of the rooms before check in.  Many resorts outside of Disney have this option and it’s a positive thing for many whose kids have 4 legs.  The question is how Disney will manage it.  Will Mousekeeping be overloaded trying to thoroughly clean the rooms?  Will the landscaping crews find more than just dirt around the flowers?  Or will everyone be responsible, respect the other guests, follow the rules and enjoy having their dogs with them at the happiest place on earth?

    Angus and Dug 2

    Angus and Dug looking sweet!

    We shall see… but just so you know – my sister’s dogs (Dug and Angus) will NEVER be on vacation with me 🙂

    For full details – please see the official information here

    Will you take your dogs on vacation to Walt Disney World?  What do you think of this decision?


    5 Reasons To Use Disney’s Minnie Van Service

    Minnie Van Grand Floridian Car 32Minnie Vans are a private transportation option at Walt Disney World. They operate similar to Lyft and Uber, but use a different pricing model to take you anywhere on Disney property.

    Here are the top 5 reasons you should try the Minnie Van service the next time you’re in Walt Disney World

    1.  It’s a Disney Service – Safety First

    There are car seats for the little ones and each driver goes through a rigorous 8 hour training class on how to install them.  There are vans that are equipped to transfer guests with wheelchairs and ECVs.  The Cast Members driving know exactly where they’re going without looking at the GPS on their phones.  Safety first – and it shows.

    Minnie Van Car Seats

    Minnie Van Car Seats

    2.  Access to Cast Member Only Roads

    Did my drive seem shorter with a Minnie Van vs a regular Lyft?  Absolutely!  Our driver was able to utilize the Cast Member Only roads in the back of Fort Wilderness to get us to our destination quickly.

     3.  Preferred Drop Points

    Since this service is Disney, they obviously give preference to their drivers.  The drop off and pick up points are much more convenient to guests.  At the Magic Kingdom you will not have to go to the Ticket and Transportation Centre first, they will drop you at the bus dock right outside.  Regular Lyft drivers are not able to go to the bus stops at the Magic Kingdom so we found this a huge plus.  Less walking and much more convenient to be in a Minnie Van.

    Animal Kingdom Pick Up

    4.  Uninterrupted Cast Member Time

    On a recent trip we took as many as 8 Minnie Van trips – all with wonderful cast members!  Having the time in the vehicle to chat with them one on one was such a treat, we even had the same cast member twice.

    The Cast Members we met had such great stories about their careers with Disney, there were a few that we didn’t want the ride to end because we were enjoying the chat so much!

    5.  Convenience and Comfort

    Being able to see where the car was when it was on it’s way is one of the great things I love about Uber and Lyft.  Knowing the approximate arrival time is somehow comforting when you’re waiting after walking around all day.

    Minnie Van Music

    With Air Conditioning controls in the front and the back – we never had an uncomfortable temperature and the background Disney music was an added bonus.

    Being able to go from resort to resort without transferring to a different bus made me very happy!

    Minnie Vans are  available at all Walt Disney World Resorts.  If you would like to know how to use the service – click here for instructions.

    Have you tried Disney’s Minnie Van service?  What did you think?

    Updates To My Disney Experience App

    My Disney Experience AppThe My Disney Experience app has upped its game by adding some features that we’ve all been waiting for.  In a move that integrates even more information in to your smartphone, it has made the app an even more important piece of your Walt Disney World vacation.



    1.  Track Dining Plan Credits

    My Disney Experience Track Dining

    Tracking your Disney Dining credits has always been a bit of a pain for my family.  When we travel with 7 of us, it’s difficult to know how many credits are left – especially with snacks and quick service meals when we split up.  While we normally eat all of our table service meals together, the snacks and quick service are the challenge.

    The newest update allows guests to track their dining plan credits and see how many were issued, redeemed and are still available for use.

    This may mean that I won’t be trying to use up 20 snack credits in 2 days.  I think it will make things much easier for planning!


    2.  Check Resort Purchases

    Disney Resort Purchases Tracking

    This one might be both good and bad for me!  Many times I’m standing in a store staring at a new Dooney when I wonder “how muchmoney have I already spent this week?” – now I won’t have to wonder.  The problem is that I’m usually able to convince myself I haven’t spent that much and then I buy the Dooney – this app will remind me, it is not in my budget!  Good thing or bad thing?  We’ll see on my next visit.


    3.  Renew Annual Pass

    I am an annual pass holder and this update will make it even easier for me to renew.  Disney is the master at making it convenient for you to spend money!

    Disney Annual Pass Renewal

    The My Disney Experience app has become the ‘hub’ for your Disney vacation planning and management.  From mobile food ordering to fastpass and dining plan management, it’s a “must have” when you’re visiting Walt Disney World.

    Are you excited about these features?




    Mobile Food Ordering At Walt Disney World

    Mobile Food Ordering WDWMobile ordering quick service food at Walt Disney World has really improved meal time for me!

    One of my biggest pet peeves was always having to wait in a HUGE line for a “quick service” meal.  It hardly felt like “quick service” when I had to stand in line for 15 minutes just to order.  Yes, you can avoid the lines if you don’t eat lunch at 12 or dinner at 5, but what happens if I’m hungry at noon?  Now I can order it from my phone and avoid those lines!

    At select Walt Disney World quick service locations, you can pre-order your meal on the My Disney Experience app right from your smartphone.  I had the opportunity to try it when we ate at Satu’li Canteen in Pandora at Animal Kingdom and I have to say – I LOVE it!

    Technology is a great thing – when it works.  I was a little hesitant trying this since there wasn’t much of a line and I was really hungry, but thought I’d give it a go for research purposes!

    Selecting my meal

    It allowed me to select my sides, sauces etc.

    Adding dessert

    So far so good. 

    Payment screen

    Payment was done right on my Visa that is linked in my Disney account.

    Let them know I’m here to start preparing my order

    When you select the “I’m Here, Prepare My Order” option – they start preparing your meal.  

    Then you wait….

    Order is ready confirmation in the app

    The notification was in the app – but it also gave me an ‘alert’ notification on my iPhone too!

    iPhone alert

    And lunch was served!  It was a great experience, no lines.- quick food.  What more could I ask for?  Maybe that they roll it out at more locations in the parks AND resorts?

    Satuli Pods

    Have you tried mobile ordering yet?  Was it as easy to use as it was for me?


    Minnie Themed Transportation Option

    Minnie Vans DisneyI have always maintained that there is no need to rent a car when you’re staying on Disney property at Walt Disney World.  The Magical Express will take you back and forth to the airport and the bus, monorail, or boats will take you anywhere else for FREE.  Why would you pay extra to rent a car?  Because you want the convenience and comfort.

    At the end of the night when you’re leaving a park it can be very crowded.  While Disney does their best to make sure they have plenty of buses, monorails and boats, there is inevitably a long line for some of them when a park closes for the evening.  If you’re willing to pay extra to avoid the crowds, a car rental, taxi or Uber were your only options – until now.

    Guests staying at Disney’s Boardwalk, Yacht and Beach Club Resorts will are the first to test out this new mode of transportation.  Guests are able to arrange their own private transfer within Disney property from a smartphone.  Each van comes equipped with two car seats for children stored in the trunk if they are not required.  A trip is $20 USD flat fee for up to 6 passengers.

    Minnie Vans D23With the launch of the Express Transportation option I was happy to pay extra for a little comfort when I was park hopping.  The new Minnie Vans are going to be a welcome cost at the end of a long night when I just want to get back to my resort and put my feet up.

    I can’t wait to test them out!  Stay tuned for my full review!


    Disney Park Updates From D23 Expo Recap

    D23 ExpoBig plans were announced for Walt Disney World Parks and Resorts at the D23 Expo.  From new resorts, park expansions and Disney Cruise Line updates, it was so hard to keep track of it all.  Below is a summary of the big announcements that will impact Walt Disney World.    

    1.  Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge

    Set to open in 2019 first at Disneyland and later that year in Walt Disney World, Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge promises to be a fully immersive experience with 2 major attractions.   One attraction is reported to make you feel like your on a Star Destroyer, but I am MOST excited about the second – flying the Millennium Falcon!   The lands will give you an opportunity to dine at the cantina and see some of your favorite characters!

    <blockquote class="twitter-video" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">You're home. Get a glimpse of <a href="">#StarWars</a>: Galaxy's Edge. Coming to <a href="">@DisneyParks</a> in 2019. <a href="">#D23Expo</a> <a href=""></a></p>— Star Wars (@starwars) <a href="">July 16, 2017</a></blockquote> <script async src="//" charset="utf-8"></script>


    2.  Star Wars Resort at Walt Disney World

    No opening date has been set, but this new resort is just what Star Wars fans have been looking for! According to Bob Chapek, Chairman of Walt Disney Parks & Resorts, this will be a revolutionary new vacation experience.

    <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">Why stay in a Galaxy Far, Far Away? Our new <a href="">#StarWars</a>-themed Resort will have you right in the middle of the action! <a href=""></a> <a href=""></a></p>— WDW Today (@WDWToday) <a href="">July 15, 2017</a></blockquote> <script async src="//" charset="utf-8"></script>


    3.  Epcot Getting 2 New Attractions

    Guardians of the Galaxy attraction will be added to Future World and will replace the Universe of Energy. A Ratatouille inspired attraction will be added to the France pavilion in World Showcase.   Guests will be “shrunk” to Remy’s size inside of Gusteau’s restaurant in this 4D experience, similar to the attraction in Paris. Specific opening dates have not been released for either attraction but they are scheduled to be open before Walt Disney World’s 50th anniversary in 2021.

    <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">Attractions inspired by Guardians of the Galaxy & Ratatouille are coming to Epcot! More: <a href=""></a> <a href="">#D23Expo</a> <a href=""></a></p>— Disney Parks (@DisneyParks) <a href="">July 15, 2017</a></blockquote> <script async src="//" charset="utf-8"></script>


    4.  Mickey Themed Ride

    Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway is coming to Disney’s Hollywood Studios! An attraction inspired by Mickey Shorts will put you inside the world of a Mickey cartoon! No opening date has been announced, but the Great Movie Ride will be closing to make way for this new adventure.


    5.  TRON Is Coming To The Magic Kingdom

    Being built next to Space Mountain, we can’t think of a better spot for this new attraction.   TRON Lightcycle Power Run is a coaster style attraction at Shanghai Disneyland and we can’t wait to see it here. No opening date has been announced, but it will be open in time for the 50th anniversary of Walt Disney World.


    6.  Space Dining At Epcot

    Epcot is a great place to visit for dining reservations and will be even more appealing with the opening of a new themed restaurant! Sitting next to the Mission: Space attraction, guests will be dining in space – with views from high above Earth!

    <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">Adjacent to Mission: SPACE will be a new table service restaurant with great views! <a href=""></a> <a href="">#D23Expo</a> <a href=""></a></p>— Disney Parks (@DisneyParks) <a href="">July 15, 2017</a></blockquote> <script async src="//" charset="utf-8"></script>


    7.  New Transportation Options and Disney Vacation Club Resort

    Disney Skyliner gondolas will soon connect Disney’s Art of Animation, Pop Century and Caribbean Beach Resorts to Hollywood Studios and the International Gateway at Epcot. The gondolas will also connect Hollywood Studios and Epcot’s International Gateway to a new Disney Vacation Club Resort called Disney’s Riviera Resort.   New Minnie themed vehicles will offer point-to-point transportation options for guests. Rumored to be something of an Uber type service, it could be a great way to avoid the buses. No costs or opening times have been released.

    <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">We're excited to roll out in style in Minnie Vans with easy access to all areas of <a href="">#WaltDisneyWorld</a>! <a href="">#D23Expo</a> <a href=""></a> <a href=""></a></p>— WDW Today (@WDWToday) <a href="">July 15, 2017</a></blockquote> <script async src="//" charset="utf-8"></script>


    8.  A New Theatre At Magic Kingdom

    Main Street U.S.A will have a new theatre based on a 1920’s theatre from Kansas City where Walt Disney lived when he left Marceline.   With the success of shows like Frozen Live at the Hyperion in Disneyland, this is sure to be a great addition!


    9.  Toy Story Land

    During the summer of 2018, Toy Story Land will open at Hollywood Studios! This new land will let guests explore Andy’s backyard with all of their favorite Toy Story characters.   Along with the exploration there will be 2 new themed attractions. The Slinky Dog Dash will be a family coaster while the Alien Swirling Saucers will have aliens trying to capture your rocket toy vehicle with The Claw! How exciting does this sound??


    <iframe width="560" height="315" src="" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>

    Outside of Walt Disney World

    • Disney Cruise Line Expansion

    Disney Cruise Line announced last year that they were building two new ships. At the D23 Expo it was revealed that there is a third new ship coming!

    • California Adventure Park Super Heroes

    Spider-Man and the Avengers will join guardians of the Galaxy at Disney California Adventure Park. More details on this to come!

    • Pixar Pier

    More updates for Disney California Adventure Park include a new look for Paradise Pier by creating neighborhoods filled with stories from some of your favorite Pixar movies. This permanent addition will open during a limited time celebration in 2018. The very popular Paint The Night parade will return, but this time to Disney California Adventure park!

    • Disneyland Paris Marvel Characters

    Disney’s Hotel New York will be updated to include Marvel theming! Who doesn’t want to stay in a resort that reflects the worlds of The Avengers, Spider Man and Iron Man?

    Which update are you most excited about?  Let us know in the comments!


    What is a Magic Band at Walt Disney World?

    Magic Band TerminalSimply put, a Magic Band is a wristband that contains all of the information stored in your My Disney Experience account. Inside of the band there is a small chip that interacts with different terminals throughout Walt Disney World. Magic Bands are complimentary with your Walt Disney World resort stay or you can purchase them if you’re not staying on property.

    Magic Bands are incredibly convenient – here are 6 ways you will love using yours!

    1. Access to your Walt Disney World resort room

    Instead of keys or key cards, your Magic Band will unlock your resort room door. Tapping your Magic Band to the small device on the outside of your door will unlock it! The doors automatically lock when you leave, so make sure you’re always wearing your band! 

    1. Your park tickets

    When your Disney park tickets linked to you’re my Disney Experience account they are accessible via your Magic Band. When you arrive at the parks you scan your Magic Band for entry. There is also a finger scan that connects your band to you personally in case you lose it.

    The My Disney Experience Site where you can plan your adventures!

    1. Fastpasses

    Once all of your fastpass reservations are made, you use your Magic Band to redeem them. When you arrive at the attraction, tap your band to the fastpass device and it updates your account that you have used your fastpass. When you make more fastpass reservations they are automatically added to your band!

    1. Dining credits

    If you have the Disney dining plan, your dining credits are stored on your magic band. When you want to redeem them for a meal or snack credit you tap the band to the terminal and enter your personal pin. The pin protects you in the event you lose your band, no one can take your dining credits.

    1. Charging and shopping

    If you’re staying at a Disney resort, you can charge your purchases to your room or credit card! They also have a pin associated with this feature to protect you if someone else has your Magic Band. Disney really does make spending money easy…

    1. Photopass

    When you see a Disney photographer in the parks, you have to stop and get a picture! They are a great way to make sure everyone is in the shot. After the photographer takes your pictures they scan your magic band and your photos are magically added to you’re my Disney Experience account.  If you have purchased Memory Maker you’re all set, if not – you can purchase the photos individually.

    Magic Band helps you organize your vacation and manage it through your My Disney Experience account. You can customize the color, add decorative pins to them and reuse them until the battery dies (approx. 2 years).   If you’re a stickler for matching them to your outfits, you can collect all the different colors like Carrie did! They really are the perfect accessory to any outfit when you’re at Walt Disney World!

    What color Magic Band will you get?


    Laundry At Walt Disney World

    Laundry room at Bay Lake Tower Walt Disney WorldDoes anyone WANT do laundry at Walt Disney World?

    No, but sometimes it’s necessary.

    During a trip last year there were a few ‘mishaps’ where I needed to change outfits a few times one day. It might have been chocolate icing from my cupcake, mustard from my burger or my Pina Colava (okay, it was all 3), but they ended up on my clothes. I knew I needed to do laundry.

    I gathered up all of the dirty clothes and headed to the laundry room at Bay Lake Tower where I was staying. I purchased my soap from the machine for $1 each with my credit card. So far so good.

    I loaded up two machines (might as well wash all of the dirty clothes we had), then I saw the sign.

    Laundry Instructions Disney

    Disney laundry is high tech!

    Using the website I was able to view the progress of my washing. I could set up an alert to let me know when it was done, or I could just keep checking online. No need to sit in the room or remember what time I put the load in. My vacation brain does not let me monitor time well and this was exactly what I needed.

    Doing laundry was a great excuse to have some down time outside of the parks and enjoy the pool or resort.  I chose to enjoy my balcony with an afternoon cocktail and relax in the sun.

    Laundry View Website WDW

    About 40 minutes later, I checked the status and the laundry was ready to move to the dryer. I could see online that there were 4 dryers available for use before I went back to the laundry room. I purchased my dryer sheets from the machine, turned on a couple of dryers and had another little break.

    Laundry Machine Disney

    Before I knew it, the site was saying the dryers were done. Within 20 minutes I had folded the clothes, brought them back to the room and put them away. I felt relieved, now I didn’t have to worry about any ‘spills’ during future meals. Doesn’t that happen to everyone? Put on a white shirt and immediately spill ketchup on it? Happens to me ALL THE TIME, especially on vacation.

    While I dreaded the thought of laundry while on vacation, it turned out to be a relaxing afternoon that we now plan for almost every trip. If I know I’m going to do laundry on vacation, I don’t pack extra clothes for the inevitable spills. I save valuable space in my suitcase for all of the stuff I buy, and I’m guaranteed a couple of hours at my resort, sitting in the sun with a drink in my hand.  Somehow doing laundry at Disney isn’t as painful as it is at home!

    Do you do laundry on your Disney vacation?


    When The Deal May Be Too Good To Be True

    Disney ParadeI’m scrolling through Facebook tonight and reading the random posts on various pages when I come across one that is posted to the official Walt Disney World page.  It’s a post from a couple that have allegedly been ‘scammed’ by a Disney Cast Member.

    In their claim, they say they directly paid a Disney cast member $1900 to book a vacation for them.  The cast member told them that she got a promotion and could no longer help them and would request a refund for them.  After limited communication – they reached out to Disney to confirm the refund was coming and were told that the reservation was made – but was never paid for.  It was then clear to them that the cast member stole their money.

    This couple have taken to social media to complain that Disney will not reimburse them for the money they allegedly gave to the cast member.

    After reading the posts and the couple’s responses, there are a few things that bother me about this story:

    1. They clearly gave this person money because they believed they were getting some kind of deal – maybe a cast member discount?  Does that mean they knew the cast member personally?  Why else would they give the money directly to this person vs. through a travel agency or Disney itself?
    2. They paid them through pay pal – I don’t know about you, but I don’t pay large companies via pay pal.  I don’t shop at Best Buy, The Disney Store or Alamo and submit my payment that way.  If they asked for a pay pal payment – I’d be suspicious, but that’s just me.
    3. Disney isn’t accountable for what their cast members do when they’re not on the job.  If this cast member was ‘on the job’ – they wouldn’t be paying for their vacation through pay pal (see point above).  This is like asking McDonald’s to pay a bank that their employee robbed.  Would you ask a movie theatre to reimburse you for the bootlegged video you bought from their ticket taker?  I think not.

    If this cast member really does work for Disney and was using that privilege to scam people – you can be sure that they won’t be working there for long.   That is what Disney will and should do to address the situation.

    If in fact these people lost their money, I feel bad for them.  It’s a horrible thing to be robbed and $1,900 is a lot to lose – but how it that Disney’s fault?  There are many people on social media posting that Disney is supposed to be ‘all about customer service’ and they can’t believe they aren’t ‘making this right’ – but it isn’t Disney’s to fix.  This is a matter for the police and if they have all of the receipts and communications that they say they have, the police should be able to handle it quickly.

    Too often people think they can force a company like Disney to pay for their mistakes by bashing them on social media, and they may just get what they want. While $1,900 is nothing to a company of this size, it speaks to the larger issue of guests believing that no matter what goes wrong “in the name of Disney” – that they will fix it.  This isn’t a culture that Disney should encourage, and I hope that they don’t give in.

    Smoking at Walt Disney World

    WDW SmokingUPDATE:  AS OF MAY 1 2019  No smoking is permitted inside Walt Disney World or Disneyland theme parks, water parks, ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex or Downtown Disney in California.

    Before we begin, I have to confess – I am a smoker.   Hold on to your pitchforks before you start with the lectures of how bad and disgusting it is – I’ve heard it, and I assure you – I know it.  I am well aware that it is detrimental to my health and how gross it is.  I’m an intelligent woman in my (dare I say it) mid 40’s who has heard it all.  Am I proud that I have not been able to quit?  No, I wish I could, and I still hope someday I will.  But that is a whole other blog.  (update – I quit smoking!  I use the money to visit Walt Disney World now!)

    For those of you who are heading to Walt Disney World for the first time, you need to be aware of the 2 important rules about smoking.

    All resort rooms are non-smoking, including your balcony.  There are designated areas at each resort.

    All of the parks and Disney Springs have designated smoking areas, outside of the parks as of May 1st 2019.   You cannot smoke outside of these areas.  They can be difficult to find and may change frequently, so it’s best to check the Disney app for locations.

    If you have not selected your resort yet – it’s wise to look at the maps online to see how many smoking areas there are and were they are located.  The majority of resorts that I have stayed at have been relatively convenient to reach a smoking area, with the exception of Animal Kingdom Lodge.

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    It makes sense to me that there wouldn’t be smoking areas near the animals, but I didn’t realize how FAR I would have to walk, essentially to the parking lot.  I don’t know if it was just my luck that the room was at the end of a very long hall, but it felt like I needed to wake up an extra 45 minutes early in the morning just to walk to the smoking area!  At the end of a long day in the parks, it felt like miles….

    Epcot Monorail

    In the parks, it was a whole other story.  While Epcot seemed to be the most “smoker friendly” park, Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom were not at all.  Essentially, they just didn’t have enough smoking areas.  Now there are none – anywhere in the parks.

    I remember the days when you could walk down Main Street with a cigarette in your hand.  It wasn’t a good idea as it was too easy on a crowded day to have a child come close to the end of your cigarette in their excitement.  It made perfect sense to me when they banned smoking except in the designated smoking areas for this very reason.

    I was happy to go to the designated areas back then.  There were a few sprinkled throughout the park and they were never crowded.  Not because there were no other smokers, but because there were quite a few areas!  Normally there was only ever 2 or 3 people in each one, so there wasn’t a big cloud of smoke hanging over them.  They were out of the way, yet easy enough to find.  Those were the good ol’ days.

    Fast forward to now – and the smoking areas are outside of the parks.  What does that mean?  30 people in this ‘out of the way’ smoking area at a time, and the big cloud of smoke is above it, around it, and wafting every way it can.

    Let me stop here to say, I would never smoke outside of one of these areas.  It is my choice to smoke and I respect the other guests at the park.  I have noticed over the last couple of years a significant increase in guests smoking outside of the designated areas and I have to wonder what changed?   I don’t think the smoking population has increased – but the available places to smoke have substantially decreased.

    Is the lack of availability a good reason to break the rules?  Let me clearly say NO.  I would never condone any of the reasons people smoke outside of the designated areas.  I am merely pointing out that with the limited areas, we seem to have created another problem.

    I am a Disney fanatic who happens to be a smoker and should be able to enjoy my vacation as much as anyone else – as long as I am respectful of others.

    I understand that people have allergies, asthma, and host of things that are impacted by second hand smoke which is why I am in favor of designated areas so that people with these conditions do not have to be in them.  The smoking areas need to be easily avoidable for these people.  Now I only wish I could avoid the overpowering perfume of some guests that give me a severe headache – but again, that’s a whole other blog too.

    What is the BEST answer in my opinion?  More smoking areas.  Before you start with your outrage, let me tell you what I believe this would have been the best solution.

    1  The smoking areas should be more ‘out of the way’.

    I don’t mean ‘impossible to find’.  They need to be in locations that are not walkways.  I’m never happy sitting in a walkway where guests have to walk through the smoking area to get where they’re going.  They need to have a choice to walk through or not – and the one that was on the walkway to Tomorrowland didn’t give them a choice.

    2  There should be more of them.

    You need to have more – to have less people in them to make them less of a ‘polluted air zone’.   When you cram 30 smokers in 1 area, it’s much more  toxic and noticeable to those people in the vicinity.  Overcrowding also causes the smokers to spread out – outside of the designated area.

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    3  They need to be easy to find.

    I know the app has the map – but they can’t be so well hidden that a first time visitor can’t find them.  Put them in the background and have a little sign or something that ‘points this way’ so that no one is wandering for 20 minutes trying to find one

    4  Smoking outside of the areas must be strictly enforced.

    Many cast members don’t enforce this rule because they don’t want a confrontation with the guest when they tell them they have to leave the park.  If they were a little more convenient it might be easier to approach them.

    So there you have it, my view on the smoking at Disney debate.   I’m sure many of  you will disagree – but some will see my point.   It’s a very passionate debate and I’m anxious to hear your comments!

    I quit smoking cigarettes in March 2018.  I still agree with everything I wrote 🙂

    Walt Disney was a smoker himself, who died of lung cancer.

    Walt Disney Smoking


    5 Common Questions Cast Members Are Frequently Asked

    Cast Member QuestionsWhile the concierge desk at your resort and front desk agents are very helpful and I encourage you to go to them with your questions, sometimes you can wait in a very long line to get a simple answer – “what time is the 3pm parade?” (Yes, that is a real question that I have been asked). Thanks to the My Disney Experience App, you can now make dining reservations, fast passes, view your Photo Pass pictures, and get more information on your smart phone. Why wait in more lines when you can find the answers for yourself?

    Here are 5 of the most commonly asked questions that you can actually find the answers to without waiting in line:

    1. What time is the 3pm parade at the Magic Kingdom?

    The 3pm parade is actually called Festival of Fantasy and it takes place at, you guessed it, 3pm every day. However, pick up a times guide at the park entrance to ensure that it is taking place that day.   You will also want to take note in the guide of where the parade starts in the park. For example – if the parade starts in Frontierland at 3pm – it won’t reach Main Street until 10 or 15 minutes later and vice versa.

    1. How late is the food court open?

    Most resorts have their Quick Service dining areas open until midnight. Instead of waiting in line at the Front Desk to ask this question, pop into the dining area and ask any of the Cast Members walking around; that is their area of expertise after all.

    1. What characters can I meet at (insert park name here)?

    Thanks to the new My Disney Experience App, you can look up all characters and their appearance times depending on the park you are going to.

    1. Do I have to wear my MagicBand all the time?

    Use you common sense. Of course no one is going to monitor to ensure the band is on your wrist 24 hours of every day of your vacation, but it is your room key and in most cases, your park passes, dining plan, and even credit card. If it is not on your wrist there is always the chance of it falling out of a bag, becoming unclipped from your belt loop, or otherwise risk being misplaced. It is designed to be easily accessible and since it is on your wrist, you can see that it is with you at all times.

    1. When is it going to stop raining? (Yes, this is also a real question).

    While we as Cast Members are good friends with Mickey and Minnie, we aren’t with Mother Nature. When you ask a Front Desk Agent or Concierge this question, they will simply go to the Weather Network and find some sort of radar to give you an approximate answer. This is something you can most definitely research on your own

    Once again, I encourage you to ask Cast Members questions and seek assistance when you need it. But there are many resources available to you, like the My Disney Experience App which are incredibly helpful; take advantage of them 🙂


    *About the Author* – Darci is a former Cast Member who worked Front Desk at various resorts at Walt Disney World. She was a member of the Disney College Program which allows students to work all over Disney property – not only EPCOT’s Canada Pavilion. She now resides in Ontario and feeds her Disney passion by assisting family and friends with their Disney vacation planning, watching live streams of park shows, and even got engaged at the Magic Kingdom. Disney is and always will be a part of her life. She believes that you can take a girl out of Disney World, but you can’t take Disney World out of the girl.

    Follow Darci on Twitter: @dmartindalee


    What to do when your Disney vacation is less than magical

    Art of Animation Resort ScarDisney is an incredible company that gives a large amount of freedom and empowerment to their Cast Members. All Cast go through extensive training (especially Front Desk, Concierge, and Guest Relations) and Disney therefore trusts that their Cast Members will use their judgement when making decisions as to how to ensure that families have the most out of their Disney vacations. That being said, sometimes things do happen that can be rather less than magical. When this happens, there are a few ways to deal with the situation.

    1. At the parks – go to Guest Relations as soon as possible and let them know what has occurred. Becoming irate with the Cast Member at the attraction or dining area will not accomplish anything. It will only cause a scene and take the magic out of other people’s day, including the cast member who most likely did not do something personal to you. Guest Relations will be able to understand what occurred, possibly explain to you how or why it occurred (each situation varies), and may even compensate you for your negative experience.
    1. At the resort – if it is something regarding your room itself, call Housekeeping from your room phone. Even call the Front Desk, they can get Housekeeping or Maintenance in touch with you. Walking down to the front desk to most likely wait in a line, will only irritate you further and there is a slim chance that the Front Desk Agent that you speak with will be able to do something in that instant. If it is an issue with your reservation and the Front Desk Agent is not giving you the answers or information that you are looking for, ask to speak with a Leader (supervisor in Disney terms).

    Regardless of who you speak with, please remember that these Cast Members are humans too. They are people who are highly trained and are doing everything in their power to assist you. No Cast Member intentionally sets out to ruin your vacation. Be patient and be kind. As the old saying goes, “you get more with honey than with vinegar”.

    If a Cast Member does go out of their way to do something magical for you, ask to speak with their Leader and let them know. The 2 minutes you spend recognizing a Cast Member for their efforts can make their day, and even week. That little bit of kindness goes a long way.

    *About the Author* – Darci is a former Cast Member who worked Front Desk at various resorts at Walt Disney World. She was a member of the Disney College Program which allows students to work all over Disney property – not only EPCOT’s Canada Pavilion. She now resides in Ontario and feeds her Disney passion by assisting family and friends with their Disney vacation planning, watching live streams of park shows, and even got engaged at the Magic Kingdom. Disney is and always will be a part of her life. She believes that you can take a girl out of Disney World, but you can’t take Disney World out of the girl. 

    Follow Darci on Twitter:  @dmartindalee



    9 Annoying Things People Do At Walt Disney World

    Visiting Walt Disney World for over 40 years, I’ve seen my share of foolishness on property.   On one visit I was so shocked at some of the things I saw and I had to write this public service announcement for those who may leave their brains at home while on vacation at Disney.

    1. Disney Cast Members are NOT your babysitters (unless you’ve left them in the kids club of course!)

    During my recent visit I was at Bay Lake Tower in the lobby watching cast members trying to help a young girl that was maybe 7 or 8 years old. Apparently she was swimming in the pool and wanted to go back to her room. Her parents were in the room and had left her at the pool to find her own way back, but she couldn’t remember the room number… Ummmm really? Please don’t leave your young children unattended. Who do you think is watching them #WhatAreYouThinking??

    2. Keep your hands inside the vehicle at all times

    Eating at Pinocchios we selected the window table overlooking It’s A Small World. Do you know how many people leave their children on the end of the boat with their hands in the water?? Do you know how many adults I saw doing the same thing?? In the 30 minutes we were sitting there, I was amazed at the foolishness. Safety is Disney’s top priority, but you can’t fix stupid people. #ThatsHowYouLoseAFinger

    3. Trying to make your child appear taller

    Attractions like the Tower of Terror, Space Mountain and Everest have height restrictions. Why? Because it isn’t safe for if you are shorter than the required height. Don’t try to convince the cast member that your child is slouching or that they can meet the requirement if they stand on their tip toes, it’s just not smart. The cast members are not letting you on because it isn’t safe – listen to them! #NotTheTimeToArgue

    4. No flash pictures

    Okay – this one just irks me. They ask you not to use your flash in the dark rides as it can ruin the magic, and for stage shows it’s a safety issue for the performers. If you don’t know how to turn off your flash on the huge iPad you’re holding up then ask someone. Also, if you’re on the Haunted Mansion and you’re texting someone – all I can see is the light from your screen! You are not the only guest on this attraction and you’re irritating the rest of us. #Selfish

    5. Cutting the line

    Seriously – how old are you? Where is your sense of civility? Lines are expected at the parks, if you’re not prepared to wait your turn – don’t visit. It’s really simple. We’re all there for the same reason and pushing, shoving, cutting the line is just going to aggravate everyone and possibly start a verbal exchange of unpleasantries. #GrowUp

    6. Yelling at Cast Members

    The Cast Members at Walt Disney World are the best in the business. Sure there are some bad apples, but overall they offer first-class customer service. Seeing a guest berate a cast member for silly things like the length of a line, the price of a meal or their inability to make it stop raining is insane. Disney Cast Members don’t really have a magic wand that can bring out the sun and make you less of a jerk.   #DontBeAnIdiot

    7. Trying to get something by security

    They search everyone’s bags and send random people through metal detectors at the parks, but did you know they have undercover security as well? I will say no more about them as I don’t want to give away any of their methods, but if you manage to make it through bag check without your flask of vodka being detected under your shirt – don’t be surprised if some random stranger approaches you later and ejects you from the park.   They are everywhere! #YoureNotSmarterThanThem


    8. Waiting in line for 10 minutes without deciding what you want

    It’s busy, you’re standing in line at the quick service for 10 minutes waiting your turn. You finally get up to the cast member to order and you haven’t decided what you want! Really? What were you doing for the last 10 minutes? This happened to me at Sprinkles at Disney Springs, and I was not amused. #UseYourTimeWiesely


    9. Feeding the wildlife

    When you feed any wildlife – you make them lose their natural instinct to be afraid of humans. This one always bothered me especially since my sister has a horrible fear of birds. We were always aware of the people feeding them because it made them comfortable to swoop in and grab a fry out of your hand.   I watched adults let their little children feed the ducks their french fries and wondered what would happen when the duck bit the child – who would be to blame?  Given the tragedy of the young boy who was drowned by an alligator, experts have suggested the alligator was probably fed by people at some point. I’m not saying the people who fed the alligators could have predicted this tragic event – but maybe if they had used some common sense, things would have been different. If you want to feed animals, visit a petting Zoo, Disney parks are not the place for it. #CommonSenseIsntCommon


    Walt Disney World really is the place where an adult can be a kid again… Just remember to use your common sense and be courteous to others while you’re there and you will have a magical time!




    Yes I’m suffering from DVE

    Disney Vacation EnvyI’m at my unmagical job, it’s Friday, the weather looks great for the weekend – and it’s almost time to go home!  I’m listening to music from the Disney parks on my iPhone, I’m singing away in my head as people walk by, I’m feeling pretty good.

    I decide to take a break and sign in to Facebook, my source for the important things that are happening in my world.   I get excited about the posts in the Disney groups about new things happening and the merchandise that’s being released.

    I keep scrolling, and then I see them – TONS of pictures, check ins, status updates…. I have a bunch of friends at Walt Disney World right now, and some are sailing on the Dream this weekend.  I start going through their posts and pictures.  The food looks good at Morimoto, Ohana dinner – yes please, a check-in at the Mine Train and another for Soarin?  I almost feel like I’m experiencing it with them!  YAY!!  Disney fun!!

    Soarin Sign

    Then, suddenly… the discomfort and confusion – what am I feeling?  I’m happy for them and excited to follow their adventures, but what is this that I’m feeling???  I contemplate for a while and then it hits me… I have DVE – Disney Vacation Envy.

    In case you weren’t aware – DVE is a real condition.  It’s a wave of confusing emotions where you feel happy for your friends, but sad for yourself – sad that you’re not there with them.  You do what you can to fight these feelings of jealousy, but they’re there, right below the surface.  While you do the customary ‘likes’ or ‘comments’ on their posts, you’re fighting the urge to just close Facebook and ignore it, but you NEED to see what they’re going to do next!  The inner conflict begins – do you have your next vacation already booked?  Or should you book a quick getaway to get your next fix?  Can you afford it?   Does it matter?  It’s an addiction, and if you can relate, you may need help.

    Epcot Spaceship Earth from the monorail

    If you’re suffering from DVE it’s important to know that you’re not alone.   We all feel it, but we rarely talk about it.  There’s no shame in suffering from DVE, it’s the struggle that all members of the Disney community face when they’re active on social media.  We all deal with it differently, but the cure is the same…