One of the most sought-after experiences of a Disney Cruise is having a cabana at Disney’s private island, Castaway Cay.  Our family has been fortunate to experience this luxury, which we like to label “peace, quiet and solitude.” Cabana at Castaway Cay

The cabana experience includes:

  • Bottled waters, cans of soda, and cold towels in a refrigerator
  • Fresh fruit, granola bars, and chips
  • Towels and sunscreen
  • Fresh water shower including foot rinse
  • Hammock
  • Lounge areas, changing area, storage, safe, ceiling fan, music, and outlet
  • Floats and tubes and one-hour bike rental
  • The Family Beach includes a private beach experience with beach loungers, chairs, umbrellas, snorkel equipment, and sand toys
  • Cabana host and service button

Twenty cabanas grace the Family Beach – including one accessible cabana – while four are at the adults-only Serenity Bay.


Cabana at Castaway Cay

The Experience

The experience is especially good for families traveling with heat-sensitive guests, elderly or small children.  My 80-year-old mother-in-law could not enjoy the island but for an hour during her first cruise.  On her following visit, she was able to stay on island the entire day thanks to the cabana and its fan that provided reprieve from the heat.  Families can enjoy still enjoy the experience while small children nap on the couch or in a complimentary pack-and-play.

The ship’s Concierge class crew services the cabanas, and guests summon the cabana host with a simple push of a button.  My husband’s parasailing experience was in question, and our host kept in touch with the parasailing hut and even re-scheduled the booking that was cancelled.  Without this service, he would have had to go all the way back to the hut by the ship to check the status.  Another host hung a birthday sign for our daughter that was visible upon her cabana arrival.  Cabana at Castaway Cay

Reservations

How do I get a coveted cabana?  Cabanas are typically snatched up by Concierge guests and Platinum status guests. However, I have even seen them available at Gold and Silver status activity booking openings.  Guests can cancel up to three days before embarkation, so many guests will check daily for cancellations.  You may also have your name added to a wait list at the Port Adventures desk upon boarding.

The luxury and service do come at a cost, however.  Many guests will offer other guests to share the cabana to help defray the expense.

  • Family Beach: $590.18, up to six guests included; up to four additional can be added at $53.75 each
  • Family Beach Grand Cabana: $966.43 for up to 10 guests; up to six additional may be added
  • Family Beach seasonal surcharge: $53.75 additional total cost late April through late September
  • Serenity Bay: $428.93 for up to four guests; up to six additional may be added

Cabana at Castaway CayIs it worth it?  This is the number one question most folks have, and that answer lies solely with the guests reserving it and their needs and wants.  We prefer to look at the cost by hour. We feel the privacy, peace of mind with our belongings and relaxed beach atmosphere is worth the splurge.

 

Jenniffer Sheldon

Guest Contributor

Disney Cruise Platinum Guest

 

 

The saddest part about a Disney trip is the walk out of the park on that last day.  Many guests want to bring something home to remember the trip by and will trigger the memory of their amazing stay!

With SO many gift shops in the parks, it is easy to find the perfect souvenir!  But with so many options in the shops, how do you choose?  Here are a few things I have bought to commemorate the fun I had during my stay.

  1. Disney Magnets Best Disney Souvenirs

    These are a must for me!! I love the clip magnets that hold pictures of memories or important notes on my fridge.  Most resort gift shops and park shops have them.  Take your time looking throughout the trip to find the one you want the most as some shops carry different ones.  My favorites have the year displayed!  They are an affordable option and, if you fly, do not add weight or bulk to your packing!

  2. Disney Key Chains

    Key chains are a great souvenir for you or someone who you are coming home to.  Since the wear and tear on them happens easily, a new key chain is something fun and affordable to update after each trip.

  3. Disney Mugs Best Disney Souvenirs

    In a world surrounded by yummy coffee and tea, a cute Disney mug is a great way to start your morning!  Mugs can be found throughout parks and resorts and the designs are ever changing.  Find one that reflects your personality or one that shows your favorite character or park.  These are a little more expensive than the first two options, but still very affordable!

  4. Alex and Ani Bracelets Best Disney Souvenirs

    Ok, this is admittedly my new obsession!  I just purchased my first one during a recent trip.  They are sold in gold and silver and come with a variety of themes… characters, travel year, park icon image, and Disney phrases (just to name a few).  Here are just a few places you can find them at the park:

  • Emporium on Main Street in Magic Kingdom
  • Keystone Clothiers in Hollywood Studios
  • Tren-D in Disney Springs
  • Mouse Gear in Epcot

To see more of a list of locations these can be found, download the Shop Parks app, search for Alex and Ani and pick a bracelet you like.  When you choose the image, click the “find on map” button and see where that bracelet is sold on Disney Property!  This will save you running around to find your favorite! The price on a souvenir like this may be a little higher than the others, but it is an adorable option and something you can get use out of each day.


What are some of your favorite things to bring home with you?  A new stuffed animal, a photo album or frame, a new pen?

Whatever it is, make sure you put some money aside to bring that one special item home with you! If you already have an idea of an item you’re looking for, contact your Me and The Mouse agent and they can help give you ideas where you could purchase it!

Megan Thompson

Travel Specialist

What’s better than visiting Walt Disney World?   Celebrating your BIRTHDAY at Walt Disney World!!!  There are lots of great ways to celebrate your special day.

To start your birthday celebration, you will want to make sure to pick up a free Birthday button at Guest relations or at your resort front desk (if you didn’t receive once at check-in).  You never know what Pixie Dust may happen when wearing your birthday button.

There are amazing desserts and treats to enjoy during your visit to Walt Disney World.   We often get asked about birthday cake options for celebrating  a loved one’s special day.  Walt Disney World offers several options for families, who are celebrating! Personalized Disney Birthday Cake

If you would like to add a non-personalized birthday cake to your birthday celebration while dining on property, guests may the request at the podium when they check-in for their dining reservation.  A 6 inch cake is available in both chocolate and vanilla. No notice is necessary.  You can order upon arrival at most Disney table-service restaurants for approximately $21. Candles are available upon request.

A personalized cake can be ordered and delivered to almost any Walt Disney World restaurant.     To discuss options and dietary needs, guests can order by calling the Cake Hotline at 407.827.2253.  Cast members can discuss the various options for cake decorations, styles and icing with you.  Please note that any personalized cake must be ordered with at least 72 hours notice.

Walt Disney World guests can also have a cake delivered to their room from Disney Floral & Gifts. Guests can select a six-inch two-tiered round cake that serve 4-6 people in either chocolate or vanilla. Celebration Cakes will be delivered to your room after you check-in. Cost is $55.95.  Forks, plates, napkins, and a cake server are all included.

Mickey’s Celebration Cake can be enhanced with two different add-ons: Magical Celebration with balloons and birthday tray for $93.95 or Grand Birthday Party with Walt Disney World® popcorn tin, a pair of Mickey birthday ears (personalization available), Mickey Mouse crispy rice treats, and five helium balloons is $131.95.

Please note that pricing and availability are subject to change. Contact a Me and the Mouse Travel specialist and let them know if you would like to add specialized birthday celebration to your vacation package!

 

Tressa Krippel

Travel Specialist

A Universal Orlando Character Dine Review

Character Dining at Universal If you want to see characters on your next Universal Orlando vacation, avoid the long lines for character meet and greets and enjoy breakfast with some of your favorite friends.  Often overlooked is the character breakfast at Islands Dining Room located at Loews Royal Pacific Resort. {Read more about this incredible resort, here.} This breakfast has wonderful character interaction and a wide variety of breakfast foods all for a great value.

Every Sunday morning Islands Dining Room comes alive with characters from The Simpsons, Despicable Me, Hop and more while guests enjoy an all-you-can eat breakfast buffet.  Each character visits your table for photos, autographs and meaningful interactions.  Unlike many other character meals, I found the character breakfast at Islands to be peaceful, low key and very relaxing. Character Dining at Universal

Included in the buffet are many breakfast favorites like scrambled eggs, bacon, sausage, fresh fruit, waffles, pastries and an omelet station.  While nothing on the buffet is particularly original, I felt the quality, variety and taste were all excellent.  There is truly something for everyone, even the pickiest eaters.

I also really enjoyed the environment and the feel of this restaurant.  Islands is a beautiful, tropically-themed restaurant with views of lush tropical plants and the and  South Pacific-inspired décor.  It is easy to kick back, relax and forget you are just walking distance from the hustle and bustle of City Walk, Universal Studios-Florida and Islands of Adventures. Character Dining at Universal

The character breakfast at Islands Dining Room is offered only on Sundays between 7am-12pm.  At $26.99 per adult and $14.99 per child, this is an excellent value for an all-you-can-eat character breakfast.   During the off season, it is fairly easy to walk up and be seated within 10 minutes, however, reservations are recommended.  To reserve your breakfast at Islands, please contact your Me and the Mouse Travel Specialist.

Julie Stewart

Travel Specialist

Pack your bags and visit the oasis you’ve been dreaming of…

Every once in a while it’s good to get away from the hustle and bustle of life and take an adult only vacation. You are able to visit a destination like never before and experience different events, activities, and places you might not have with kids. Disney is known for its fabulous parks and magnificent cruises, but what many people often forget is Disney’s amazing island getaway on Ko Olina, Hawai’i. Aulani- The Best Adult Giveaway

Aulani is Disney’s Hawaiian Resort. This tropical oasis is a perfect spot to plan an adult vacation getaway. The cast member’s at Aulani work hard to provide you with an authentic Hawaiian experience. All of the living spaces include pieces of the Polynesian culture and make you feel right at home. If you’re looking for a vacation spot with plenty to do, Aulani has you covered! If adventure is what you seek, Aulani has over 40 different excursions for you to join. These options range from zip-lining, see dolphins, and snorkeling. If you are an avid golfer visit the Ko Olina Golf Club. This outstanding golf club is next door to Aulani and is in walking distance {or a short shuttle ride}.  When you’re ready to relax, you can visit Aulani’s full-service spa, Laniwai. The spa includes an outdoor hydrotherapy garden, incredible massages, and refreshing facials. Aulani- The Best Adult Giveaway

Aulani has so much more to offer guests with its refreshing pools, morning and evening activities, and dining. Now is the perfect time to book your Aulani adult getaway. You can save up to 35% on consecutive stays of 5+ nights* with their special anniversary offer. To learn more about this limited time offer visit the promotion page.

 

Contact a Me and The Mouse agent today to book your adult vacation getaway!

 

Going to Walt Disney World on an adult only trip is an experience that must be enjoyed by all Disney fans. While you may miss the children for a few moments, there are some great experiences that you must try with your significant other or best friends. Here are some of my favorite activities on an adult only trip.

  1. Jellyrolls Adult only trip at Disney World

    This is a dueling piano bar located on the Boardwalk. Jellyrolls is the place to hang out with your friends and enjoy top entertainment. With 2 piano virtuosos taking requests from the audience, grab a drink, make a request, and sing along for an evening filled with fun. Be sure to get there early for a seat as the bar fills to standing by 9pm each night! Also, bring along small bills to give the players for those musical requests.

  2. Disney’s Tours Adult only trip at Disney World

    Touring Disney’s parks behind the scenes allows guests to see in depth all that goes into making Disney magic. One of my favorite tours for adults is the Keys to the Kingdom tour. This is available only to guests age 16 and above. Keys to the Kingdom reveals Magic Kingdom over 5 hours through its history, the development of the park’s technology, the daily workings of the park, and some of the parks secrets. Guests will get to see Magic Kingdom from below, in the Utilidor tunnels. This is where all the operations are centrally controlled.

  3. Epcot’s Food & Wine Festival

    Adult only trip at Disney WorldA favorite time to visit Walt Disney World for adult only vacations is during the Epcot Food and Wine Festival. This festival runs September through the first part of November. It features 30 global marketplace booths from which you can purchase food and beverage samples. Want to learn? The festival also offers demonstrations, seminars, and recipes. You will learn how to replicate the food back home! On the weekends, the Eat to the Beat concerts fill the night with song.

  4. Carriage rides

    Located at both Port Orleans Riverside resort and Fort Wilderness resort, carriage rides offer a unique way to see these resorts and the beautiful nature that they are located in. Listen to the water of the Sassagoula River or listen to the leaves in the woods while you cuddle with that special someone. During the month of December, the carriages are decorated for the holidays. They are  transformed into a sleigh ride, and travel through the festive resorts. Adult only trip at Disney World

  5. La Nouba

    A night watching Cirque du Soleil’s La Nouba will mesmerize you from start to finish. Located in Disney Springs, this theatrical show features some of the world’s best entertainers in their crafts. Add on a fantastic dinner before or after the show at one of Disney’s Springs delicious restaurants for a full night with your friends or loved one.

 


To experience these activities and more on your next adult only Walt Disney World vacation, contact an Me and the Mouse Travel Specialist.

Michelle Browne

Travel Specialist 

You booked your Disney vacation over six months ago. The anticipation is unbearable! Here are some fun ways to help your kids (and you) count down to the magical day!  Countdown to Dinsey

  1. Make a paper chain. Remember counting down to Christmas using those? Use Mickey colors or favorite princess colors.
  2. Watch Disney movies. One week before the trip, stack up seven movies and watch one each night. This will help the kids countdown the days and get reacquainted with the characters.
  3. Mickey Dry erase board. Print off a Mickey themed picture and place it in a cheap frame with glass. Use a dry eraser marker to count the days down.
  4. Paper bag surprise. A week before your trip, fill a paper bag with a Disney goody such as stickers, autograph books, penny bags for the penny-press, spending money, etc. Staple each bag and number the bag. Let the kids open a bag a day until you leave.
  5. Print off a calendar representing 30 days before your trip. Let the kids place a sticker on each day until the day you leave. Countdown to Disneyd
  6. For more ideas, check out Me and The Mouse’s special Pinterest Board, click here. There you will be able to find several other ideas for activities for your family’s countdown to Disney!

I hope you and your family enjoy building the excitement before your big trip. Enjoy the magic!

As always, let Me and The Mouse Travel take the stress from your travel planning. Contact a Me and The Mouse Agent today!

Lori Steinnerd

Travel Specialist

                                                                                                                         

“I Love the Interaction of this Ride”

Toy Story ManiaA trip to Disney World is never complete without visiting the interactive Toy Story Mania ride at Hollywood Studios. The second you grab your spot in line, you are thrown into a whole other world most could only dream up.

You will feel shrunk down to the size of the toys from the movies everyone has known to love. Wander through crayons as big as you, a giant Candyland board, and a Lincoln Log house that is big enough to live in. Waiting in line does not feel so bad! There are lots things to take in and observe up until the point of climbing onto the ride. Here you will experience what you always wondered it would be like to be a toy from your childhood. Toy Story Mania

Make sure to really take this all in and grab some great photo ops. Get ready to put your 3D glasses on for an unforgettable time for you and your family. My family has made it a point to come here every vacation we take.

Once you climb into the car and put your glasses on, get ready to immerse yourself into the world of Toy Story. You will play through five 20th century inspired carnival games. You can try to compete to beat the hourly score {my son always makes it a mission to do}. If the hourly score is out of your reach, battle the family for the vehicle high score. With that being said, don’t forget to aim for those high value points! 
Toy Story Mania

Meet a bunch of familiar faces such as Buzz, Woody, and the little Green Army Man from the story, while you make your way through these interactive 4D carnival games. Every ride will be a little different, keeping you wanting to go back for more. It isn’t hard to find yourself hopping back into line again and again, all day long. There is too much quick-moving action to take everything in with one go around.

Fast passes can be hard to come by, so make sure to grab them as soon as possible to make sure to not miss out on the magic. Toy Story Mania

Traci Perjak

Travel Specialist

 

That is the Question – Part 1

This time of year I get many people say “I’m want to go somewhere warm!” I reply with the one thing I love more than any other vacation and that is a Caribbean cruise! There reaction is one of three replies. Love em, hate em, and the most common answer I get is “It sounds fun but what do your really do on a boat all day?” That is when my ears perk up! Watch out, I’m about to tell you what you can do a cruise all day. Is Cruising for me?

Living in Nebraska I find a lot people haven’t cruised before, so not know what cruises are all about is very common. Here is my breakdown of what I think are the advantages of cruising.

  1. It is the most relaxing week of my year. I board the ship, turn off my phone and put it in the safe, wait for the ship to debark and next thing I know I’m in the middle of the expansive and beautiful ocean. You feel as if you are a world away from the one you left. 
  2. I eat, then I eat, then I get ice cream, then I eat, then I get dessert then a midnight snack. I don’t know about you, but vacationing is a time that I can say “NO” to watching what I eat. From amazing restaurants to classic buffets to room service with breakfast on your balcony – the food is part of the experience. For those who aren’t into the endless smorgasbord, many ships are offering healthy food restaurants. These restaurants serve endless fruits, quinoa and delicious steamed fish.
    Is Cruising for me?
  3. Amazing entertainment awaits around every corner. I’ve been on Disney and Royal Caribbean cruises and both have world class shows. Disney Cruise Line brings to life live action shows featuring your favorite Disney characters set in a beautiful broadway style theater. On Royal Caribbean ships, you can catch shows such as Cats, Chicago and and line up of original performances made just for the cruise. 
  4. It’s a kids dream! Children of all ages have a huge variety of entertainment and activity choices. From clubs just for the little ones to teen lounges, your kids will never say “I’m bored”. I tell parents it’s the ultimate vacation. They can relax by the pool while their kids are in supervised areas having fun doing what they want to do! 
  5. Different destinations every morning without packing a suitcase? That to me is the best part of cruising. I can wake up to a view in the middle of the ocean one day and the next touring Jamaica. Everyday is a truly a different day. I get to experience the best of the Caribbean in one week!

Is Cruising for me?Yes, cruising might not be for everyone but I think it should get a close look when booking your next vacation. You might end up like me – a Cuisy!!

This is part one of my “To Cruise Or Not To Cruise” blog. I will follow up with a Day at Sea! I will guide you through what I do when my ship is not at a port for the day.

 

 

If you are interested in cruising, be sure to contact a Me and The Mouse agent! Let us take the stress out of planning your next adventure!

Ryan Gross

Travel Specialist

It wasn’t until my oldest son, who is living with Fragile X, was almost 3 that I began to have a greater understanding of his sensory integration challenges.  Fragile X is the leading cause of inherited intellectual impairment and the leading known genetic cause of Autism. I was attending an education workshop, and I participated in an exercise that helped me understand what someone with Fragile X/Sensory integration challenges experiences. I began to view the world with a different perspective. Sensory Overload

On our next trip to Walt Disney World, It was as if I was experiencing it for the first time.  Guests are immersed in their experience even before entering the gates.  Our senses are constantly bombarded.  As my son grew older, it was clear that the sensory input, at times, was too much.  If we wanted to continue to enjoy traveling to Disney destinations, we needed to come up with a plan.

Over the years, we have used many strategies to lessen the sensory bombardment. Trial and error is worth the effort and can lead to developing a great plan.  Try to utilize strategies that are used at home/school/work and modify them for use while on vacation too! Here are a few of the strategies that we have used over the years.

  1. Social Story:
    Search the Internet for examples or reach out to your speech therapist to help develop one for your upcoming trip.
  2. Videos:
    There are many options available.  Disney Park’s has a wide variety of video’s to help those of us who are visual learners! Check out Disney Parks’ YouTube Channel, here!

  3. Review Disney resources throughout the planning process:
    Check out the WDW Cognitive Guide, here!

  4. Visual schedule:
    Search for “images” of Disney destination attractions/dining/parks/transportation. Many digital applications allow you to add photos to create the schedule on the go.  Prior to having a digital device, I pasted those images into a word document, printed them out, laminated and then placed Velcro on the back.
  5. Noise cancelling headphones/ear phones.
    This allows your child to either eliminate overwhelming sounds or decrease the level of auditory input.
  6. Biting options:
    If your family member tends to bite on items, chew on gum, or has a preferred snack, bring those items with you. Gum is not sold on property.  If your family member has brand specific preferences, I suggest bringing your own snacks.
  7. Downtime/waiting activities:
    Bring some preferred activities to help pass the time: pictures (of preferred people works for us), digital devices (wifi is available for FREE), card games, travel size versions of games (magnetic options), coloring book/crayonsSensory Overload
  8. Back pack.
    Utilizing a back pack (moderately weighted works best for us) helps to provide the needed sensory input that helps your family member combat the overwhelming input. It is also a great place to keep all your items above.

 

The key is to integrate a familiar strategy with new options and modifications, and your next trip will be a success!!!

 

Missy Zolecki

Travel Specialist