Diving at Epcot’s Divequest

Within the attraction “The Seas with Nemo & Friends” is a 5.7 million-gallon saltwater aquarium.  This aquarium, Caribbean Coral Reef, is home to more than 6,000 sea creatures.  Occasionally, while visiting the attraction with my family, I would see divers swimming in the aquarium and just assumed that they were cast members and part of the show.  I was wrong!!!  If you are SCUBA-certified you have an amazing opportunity to dive in Caribbean Coral Reef with Epcot’s Divequest.

Epcot’s Divequest is a 3 hour tour.  During the 3 hours you will spend 40 minutes diving within the clear waters of the aquarium.  The Seas with Nemo & Friends pavilion has 56 enormous windows which allows family members and friends with a paid Epcot admission to watch your dive.  The best viewing location for your family and friends is within the pavilions tunnel they will be able to see you dive about an hour after the start of your tour.  You will also be given an opportunity to purchase a copy of your Divequest experience on DVD. 

Along with the Divequest experience you will go on a backstage tour and witness the system that helps maintain and filter the 5.7 million- gallon man made ocean. epcot-seas-aqua-tour-00

The current price for Epcot’s Divequest is $175 and you must be at least 10 years old and SCUBA certified.  If the guest is between the ages of 10-12 they must be accompanied by a paid adult.  You will be required to show proof of your certification by showing your C-card or verification from the certifying agency.  All diving equipment will be provided and the only personal dive equipment permitted is your dive mask and swim suit.  My brother Jared has taken part in Epcot’s Divequest and said, “this was an amazing opportunity and fun to be part of the show”.

Beth Rodgers

Travel Specialist 

When larger parties are travelling to Walt Disney World, it’s good to know that unique lodging options are available!  At Disney’s Saratoga Springs Resort and Spa, guests have the opportunity to book a stay at the Treehouse Villas, and experience an amazing getaway!

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Typically a Vacation Club option, these villas are great for any traveler, for parties up to 9 adults.  Each treehouse is secluded into a cozy wooded area, with views of woods or water, with a private deck and seating area, as well as a ‘park-style’ grill for some lovely evening hotdogs 🙂  Raised above the earth to look as if they are part of a tree, these villas are really exciting to see!

With all the comforts of home, the inside of the Treehouse Villas are beautifully decorated in a rustic, cabin style – boasting 2 queen beds, a bunk bed, a convertible couch and chair, a glorious master bathroom, and a beautiful shared bathroom. An in-room washer and dryer (with provided detergent!) allows you to pack less on your trip as you can keep up with laundry, or get caught up before you return home! Each room has a flat screen tv as well as wifi capabilities. The kitchen is supplied with every amenity needed, and comes equipped with full sized appliances, with enough seating (picnic and bar style) for the entire family!


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To travel to the Treehouse Villas by car, entry is with room-key/MagicBand only.  There is a walkway to the main pools, golf course, and buildings at Saratoga Springs if you wish to enjoy the amenities, shops and restaurants provided there.  As for “Treehouse Villa Only” amenities, guests can enjoy a private pool and hot tub, as well as a private boat dock with water transportation to Saratoga Springs and the “West Side” of Disney Springs – no need to fight the traffic to enjoy all that Disney Springs has to offer!

Some words of wisdom while staying here:

  • You will need bug spray – horse flies, mosquitos, and ‘no-see-ums’ are everywhere!
  • While BBQ/grilling utensils are provided – matches/charcoal is not
  • Try to take as few cars as possible to park at the Villas, parking is limited. You will still be able to park at Saratoga Springs and take the path back to the Villas
  • Use the boats for travel to Disney Springs – you won’t be disappointed!

Leave your curtains cracked – being in the woods, mornings are very dark!  Don’t miss park open, breakfast reservations, or fastpass+ reservations because you overslept!

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As my last WDW vacation was spent in the Treehouse Villas, I can honestly say it was one of the most fun trips to Disney yet!  These unique villas provided a beautiful retreat for my family.  Me and The Mouse Travel would LOVE to book the Treehouse Villas for your family – contact us today!

Amy Sowinski

Travel Specialist

For many cruisers, the best part of a Disney Cruise is the opportunity to spend the day at Disney’s private island, Castaway Cay, in the Bahamas. The island is comprised of family and adult locations to meet everyone’s beach desires.

Disney takes all of the fun and activities on the ship and moves them out to the island, including the kid’s clubs activities and dining. You can take the day to relax on the beach or participate in a variety of shore excursions that include activities that range from laid back fishing to more active excursions such as water skiing. As with any excursion, fees are associated, but the options are wide ranging.

Some of our favorite activities:

Bike rentals are a great way to explore the island, including the abandoned runway. The hourly rental rate is $10.75/bike and includes a helmet. Child seats are available for the little ones.  Generally, you do not need to reserve in advance.

Snorkel Lagoon Equipment Rental is a fun activity for guests 5 years of age and up. Little hidden Disney features are located in the lagoon. I highly recommend doing this activity early in the morning while the water is clear. Once the water is churned up with swimmers, it isn’t quite as easy to see the marine life.

Parasailing is an excellent way to get a birds eye view of the island. Kids can also ride tandem with an adult. This is an extremely popular activity, so I encourage you to book as early as possible. The cost is $102.50/person. Since they do not allow non-paying guests on the boat, you can run up to the front of the cruise ship for great photo opportunities of the parasailers.

The Wild Side Teen Adventure is a fun way for your teen (14-17 yrs of age) to do some biking, snorkeling and taking a high speed boat ride with their new friends. It is a 4 hour adventure for $49.00 and still leaves time for them to enjoy family time on the island once they return from a busy excursion. This is another very popular activity, so booking early is encouraged.

If you are looking for a fun souvenier of your Disney Cruise vacation, you can mail a postcard from the post office on the island. You can purchase a special Bahamian postage stamp made specifically for Disney Cruise Line and get a Castaway Cay postmark. But you should be patient since it takes quite some time before it will arrive to your home.

The entire list of excursions is available on the Disney Cruise Line website under Cruises and Destinations, then choose Port Adventures.

A little trivia about Castaway Cay. The name prior to Disney purchasing the lease in 1997 was Gorda Cay. It is also where the movie Splash, with Tom Hanks and Daryl Hannah, filmed the beach scene where Hanks first saw Hannah’s character.

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Janene Jaroscak

Travel Specialist

DisneyGiftCardDisney Gift Card Balance Tracking Made Easy

When I travel to any Disney destination, I usually come with a handful of Disney gift cards.  My only issue was being able to conveniently track the balance on each one.  I used to use a Sharpie with a trail of hard-to-read writing and scratch outs, but on my most recent trip, I discovered the efficiency of the Disney gift card app. 

After downloading the app to my iPhone free from iTunes, I loaded each card I had purchased and selected an image to represent each card.  You will need the card label number (at the top of your gift card), the card number (the 16 digit code) and the card PIN (security code) to load a gift card. Keep loading any additional cards and it will list them all on your screen with the balance on each one.    

Once all your cards are loaded, it’s time to start shopping!  When you swipe cards for purchases, all you need to do is tap to refresh for the remaining balance.  Spend down to a zero balance and the card will disappear from your list of cards. 

The Disney gift card app is a simple solution to help keep your gift cards organized and tracked.  The download is free from iTunes for iPhones, but unfortunately not available for Andriod at this time. 

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Julie Stewart

Travel Specialist 

Driving to Disney with Small Children: 4 tips to keep your sanity

Every year my husband decides we should live the American dream and drive to Walt Disney World. Even though my opinion differs, this is the choice I usually get talked into. Here are a few of my tipsand tricks that keeps the family happy [most of the time].

 1. On-The-Road Activities:

Get them pumped up about the drive, just as much as the destination. 

To help accomplish this, I bought my children each a plastic tote, to fill with car activities such as stickers, toys and art projects. Then, we let the kids decorate their box to their liking. One of my daughters chose classic Disney characters and the other was creative with Star Wars theming.

 We went to their room and choose some of their favorite toys that would entertain them for 10 minutes or more: books, magnetic boards, Potato Heads, etc. I then placed each activity into it’s separate gallon Ziploc bag, so everything was organized and the van wasn’t totally trashed by the end of the trip. To add to the excitement, we also went shopping for some new items. We chose to go to the dollar store and a craft store. Do not let your kids play with the new items until your trip, this helps them look forward to the journey. Fill your tubs, get them out of reach, but not out of sight and talk about all the fun that lays in store for them.

 2. Movies:

I let my kids only watch 30 min. of TV/iPad per day. On our road trip, Mom throws this rule out of the window and it makes the kids feel like they are getting a special privilege. Let them choose the movies you travel with. Stop boy Redboxes on the journey to mix it up a bit. Purchase new learning Apps. Same rule, do not let them play with the in the days leading up to your trip, so everything seems new and exciting.

 3. Distance Tracker:

Help them keep track of how far you have to go. As we all know, kids of all ages have a hard time keeping track of how far we still have to go. In my family we use clothespins. From my home to Walt Disney World it is approximately 1,111 miles. For every 100 miles we travel, I place a clothespin on the passenger visor. Every time we travel 100 miles we take the clothespin off the visor and drop into a bucket.Brown

 For the first part of the trip, I let the kids decorate the pins and bucket [buying you more time]. When someone asks, “Are we there yet?” Just point to the pins and say we have “X” more pins to go and then we are there. This year, I am going to create a passport book, and for every pin we drop I am going to give them a sticker to put in the passport book and we can write when and where we are. 

 4. Knowing when to stop and GO!

Watch your kids and see how they are doing. Be OK with stopping just to let the kids play and get the energy out. And just the opposite, if everyone is content, keep going while you can! Some families try to make the 1,000+ drive all in one swoop and some break it up in two days. Either way, just watch the morale of your crew and the parents! Do what works best for your family. The last thing you want to do is get to your vacation exhausted and upset with each other. Remember why you are vacation, to spend quality time with your family. Know everyone’s limits and be willing to change your strategy and plans as needed. 

I would personally love to hear other ideas to help make this track across our great country. Let me know your thoughts!

To Drink or Not to Drink – Florida Water 

          Many visitors to Florida find that Florida water tastes considerably different than their water at home.  When you first try the water at a fountain or restaurant, you may find that it has an odd taste and sulfur smell.  Florida water is completely safe to ingest but it needs a little something to make it ‘drinkable’.

On our first trip to Disney, my children were young and drinking water was a big part of our daily routine.  I found that by using small flavored packets in our water bottles helped tremendously to drink Florida water.  We used lemonade, Kool-Aid and Crystal lite On the Go packets.  Now there are liquid drops for water bottles.  These packets and containers fit easily in a backpack or your pocket.bottledwater

We had purchased our packets prior to our trip and had our children try them.  I made a big deal out of having these special drinks.  Once I figured out which ones they liked, I packed the On the Go packets away for our Disney trip.  While at Disney, I surprised the kids with the ‘special’ drinks again.  It was a little extra magic that made their Disney trip that much more fun.  Who would have thought that flavored drinks could be such a treat!!

We brought empty water bottles into the parks and filled them at fountains, or at restaurants.  By doing this we saved our snack credits for more yummy and delicious treats.  One water bottle at Disney is considered a snack credit on the meal plan or it costs approximately $3 per bottle out of pocket.

Don’t forget your flavoring!!  Heat, humidity and a lot of walking can leave you feeling exhausted and under the weather. Making an effort to stay well hydrated will keep you cool, energized, and ready for your next Disney adventure.

 

Roxanne Genovese

Travel Specialist