Have you been looking for the perfect Disney Destination for your family’s fall break? Halloween on the High Seas with Disney Cruise Line is the perfect vacation location for you family! These special cruises are jam packed with extra holiday fun for the whole family! You can set sail for a spook-tacular experience that is full of haunted tricks and fun-filled treats on select Disney Cruise itineraries this fall!

Ready to take a look at all of the fun we’ve been talking about? Take a look at the video below. It will give you a sneak peek into some of the festive activities that will be on board!

Looking to book a Halloween on the High Seas voyage? Contact a Me and The Mouse agent today!

 

Step back to a simpler time in this retro style resort. Depicting the feel of the 1950’s and 60’s, this resort makes you feel you have walked onto the set of Mad Men and the Brady Bunch. Cabana Bay may be considered a value resort, but it is fabulous well-appointed and clean resort and perfect for families with their spacious family suites, that sleeps up to 6 people or their 2 Bedroom suites, that sleep up to 8. All family suites make dining more convenient for busy families with each suite fully equipped with kitchenettes complete with microwaves, mini-refrigerators and a kitchen sink. Each living area also has its own flat screen TV.

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If water fun is on your agenda, you can enjoy two large pools, one is complete with a lazy river. In my opinion, the best part of Cabana Bay is the fact it is adjacent to the all-new Volcano Bay Water Park. Universal recently opened the tower portion of the resort and some of the suites in the brand-new tower provide a spectacular view of Volcano Bay.

For your dining convenience, there are plenty of quick service dining options throughout the resort including pizza delivery and a Starbucks to help kickstart your day. If you are looking for fun and a table service option, take in a few rounds of bowling at the Galaxy Bowl and grab dinner at the Galaxy Bowl restaurant.

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If you didn’t get enough exercise walking around the parks, stop by the Jack LaLanne Fitness area. Yes, for those of that age group, that Jack LaLanne in the one-piece workout suit. The fitness club has state of the art equipment, but you can also see Jack LaLanne memorabilia.

As with any of the Universal resorts, you will enjoy early park access to enjoy the parks before the crowds arrive.

Enjoy your time at Universal Studios!!!

Janene Jaroscak

Travel Specialist

The Hyatt Regency at Orlando International Airport is a lovely alternative for a 1 night stay surrounding your full vacation.  Located on B side terminal, the Hyatt provides restaurants, bars, waiting areas, free lobby wi-fi, conference rooms and ballrooms to guests and visitors.

To those staying at the Hyatt, free in-room wi-fi, plush bedding, in-room fridge, flat screen tv’s, room service, and a rooftop pool (with poolside room service!) are just some of the luxurious amenities provided. Surrounding the terminal, large rooms provide guests with a soundproof experience, black out curtains for uninterrupted sleep, and valet service for bags and/or your car.  

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Soundproof rooms is not a misnomer. While there are some terminal sounds you may hear, if your balcony faces it (other rooms face the outer perimeter of the airport), you will have a quiet night sleep.  My family could not tell we were at the airport! The rooftop pool has a family friendly pool with waterfall, and a smaller ‘kiddie’ pool. Pergolas covering lounge chairs, umbrellas, and seating abound. Poolside towels are also available and a great amenity.

Room service at the Hyatt is one amenity we took advantage of a lot.  A pre fixe menu can be ordered from, or from the in-house restaurant, and is brought to your room on a fancy tray or roll cart.  The wait staff will inform you of their shift, and you can personally request them again if desired.  It was also especially nice for breakfast! Door hangers are provided, and you can place your order before midnight with a desired delivery time. It is a lovely feature!  While the convenience is a little pricier, we found it worth it to not have to fight through airport crowds, and to have a better and healthier meal than typical airport fast food.

Those returning from a cruise can also take advantage of ‘day rooms’ – rooms rented for the day to relax, nap, or swim before your evening flight. The convenience of printing your boarding pass at the business center, a concierge on staff for your every need, and a short walk to check your baggage makes this the perfect ‘post vacation’ stay.  

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It is also convenient to all theme park shopping, other high end stores located at the airport, as well as the food court.  Need a spa treatment? A haircut?  A new suit?  The Hyatt is just a few steps away from all of these airport amenities and sure to cover all your needs.

The Hyatt Regency at Orlando International Airport is a hidden gem you may not have realized was an option. Your Me and The Mouse Travel Specialist can set you up with the exact pre- or post- vacation night you need!

 

Amy Sowinski

Travel Specialist

 

Happy August everyone!  I can’t believe summer’s about to wrap up and kids are ready to head back to school soon!  It feels like just yesterday that I was sending everyone information on how to Beat the Heat on their summer vacations.  As we wind down our last few weeks of the fun in the sun, my family and I we are looking to find exciting ways to finish off our break with a bang.  What better than hitting the parks and refreshing our knowledge with an old favorite!

When my family and I visit the parks, we like to make sure we maximize our time by reserving the thrill rides for our choice fast passes and supplement our wait time with rides that are less likely to have too long of a wait.  One of our FAVORITES is Living with the Land, located one the first floor in the The Land Pavilion near Innoventions West in Epcot.

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We have been on Living with the Land many times and I personally have never seen the ride with over a 10 minute wait, which is why we use this particular attraction as a filler to Soarin’.  The day that my daughter and I went, however, was a surprisingly busy day and we ended up waiting around 30 minutes in the queue for our boat.  The extra time didn’t annoy me in the least, as it gave me more time to take in the queue, which I would have completely missed had we not “stopped to smell the roses.” The Living with the Land queue, has a number of inspirational quotes from many different individuals, in addition, has beautiful murals of farmers working with the Land! (see photo).  The ride itself always seems to surprise me, each and every time I ride, I notice something new that I had never seen before.  The greenhouse, where the ride goes straight through, takes you by a multitude of plants, vegetables and trees and shows guests the innovative ways to grow them using the most space efficient techniques possible.  Some examples of the items they are growing at Living with the Land are, Canna, Pineapple, Bougainvillea, Golden Lotus Banana, Java Apple, Fluted Pumpkin, Japanese Maple, Papyrus, Dragon Fruit and Cacao (to name a few).

They are also involved in Hydroponics and Integrated Aquaculture, where they showed how the plants/water provide nourishment to the fish and in turn the fish in the tank provide fertilizer to help the plants grow, the “Circle of Life” alive and well at Epcot!

All in all, the Living with the Land attraction is always worth the trip, as even though you might think you know everything there is to know about the attraction, you might be surprised and see something you never even knew existed (aka see hidden Mickey planter).

If you are ready to experience the Magic up close, contact your Me and The Mouse Travel Specialist!

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Amy Pattee

Travel Specialist

The Epcot International Food and Wine Festival begins as the summer crowds dissipate. From August 31st through November 13th , guests visiting Epcot can join in the celebration of food cultures from around the world they otherwise may never be able to experience. Guests can sample extended exotic food and beverages beyond what is typically found in World Showcase.

What to expect

For casual guests simply looking for different and fun food and drinks, along with a little entertainment,
they can enjoy:

  • Booths: With over 35 kiosks to sample new flavors, there is sure to be something for everyone. Throughout World Showcase you’ll see ongoing booths offering delightful eats and beverages from varying cultures! Grab a park map to see all booths offered and make your planfor the food locations you want to visit.

There are booths representing the existing countries in Epcot and many more to peak your taste bud interest. Some additional represented countries include: Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Ireland,New Zealand, and Scotland… just to name a few.

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Complete booth list

  •  Eat to the Beat Concert Series: Each night of the festival, scheduled acts perform for your entertainment at the American Gardens Theater. They are scheduled for at least 2 consecutive nights to perform 3 mini concerts per night (5:30 PM, 6:45 PM, and 8:00 PM). Arrive early to reserve your spot, or for reserved seating, consider booking a special dining reservation that includes VIP seating at one of the shows!

Entertainment scheduled this year includes: Baha Men, Plain White T’s, Everclear, Billy Ocean, Hanson, and Boyz II Men…there is just so many!!

Eat to the Beat Performers

**Concerts subject to change/cancel without notice.

Some guests want to expand their experience beyond the booths and want to hear/see food
preparation, mixology, and hear from top chefs. Check out these offerings:

  • Culinary Demonstrations**: Watch a 45-minute demonstration from some of the best gourmets! They’ll share their knowledge and wisdom as they put together a delicious creation.
  •  Mix It, Make It, Celebrate It!**: At this hands on lesson, master the art of mixology, explore
    ingredients in cocktails, and learn how to wine pair with certain foods.
  • “What’s Cookin’ With…”**: Gourmet VIPs are in house for this event! On varying dates, a scheduled celebrity chefs will be present and have guests enjoy a plated favorite breakfast of the VIPs choosing while having a food centric discussion.
  • Beverage Seminars**: Sample amazing beer, wine, and spirits at this seminar! Beverage experts will also offer their knowledge!

**These events must be booked in advance and have a separate fee associated with them.

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Crowds
Disney vacationers and Florida locals love the Festival, so expect higher crowds on weekends. Expect lower crowds during the week after World Showcase opens (11 AM).

Dining Plan
Purple DDP symbols next to items on individual booth menus indicate a dining plan snack credit can be used for that item.

Make Epcot a destination this fall for your Disney World trip! You won’t be disappointed as you experience the smells, tastes, sounds and sites of the offerings of the Festival.

Contact your Me and the Mouse Specialist to book any additional offerings!

 

Megan Thompson

Travel Specialist

A huge part of our family’s experience when we visit any Disney destination is enjoying so many amazing restaurants. Good food allows us to relax and simply enjoy the moment together. Great food keeps us coming back!

When we’re back home, we’ll think back on that special something and wish we could have just one bite! For me, the bread pudding at Ohana’s at the Polynesian Village is one of those “aaaaah” foods. Lucky for my family, it’s also pretty easy to make!

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Nancy Wideman
Travel Specialist

Another new transportation service will soon be available to guests visiting the Walt Disney World property…….”Minnie Vans”. This new transportation service is now available for guests staying at Disney’s BoardWalk Resort and Disney’s Yacht & Beach Club Resorts, Disney’s Wilderness Lodge, Copper Creek Villas and Cabins, and Boulder Ridge Villas at Wilderness Lodge can now go to the front desk at the resort to activate the service for their use. Soon, the service will be available at all Walt Disney World resorts.

Minnie Vans will take you anywhere on Disney property you want to go that is open to the public. Exclusive to “Minnie Vans” is the access to Magic Kingdom. When servicing the Magic Kingdom, guests will be dropped off / picked up at the BUS area, NOT the Ticket and Transportation Center, like all other off-property transfer services. This will provide guests with the short walk to the park entrance without needing to use the monorail or ferryboat service from the Ticket and Transportation.

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Minnie Vans are Chevrolet Traverse mid-sized SUVs that can seat up to 7 or 8 passengers (including the driver) across 3 rows. Each Minnie Van comes equipped with 2 Graco car seats. These car seats are fully adjustable to convert from a car seat into a booster seat, and can be both forward and rear facing.

Minnie Vans will be available through Lyft. When guests open the Lyft app from anywhere in the Walt Disney World Resort the Minnie Van Service is unlocked. The Lyft app will allow guests to request a ride from their smartphone and pay directly through the app. The current price the service is $20 per trip, this includes gratuity. The drivers are all paid employees of Disney. Currently,the hours of operation are 6:30 am until 12:30 am.

Whether you are traveling by monorail, bus, boat or Minnie Van, Disney does recommend allowing up to 90 minutes of travel time to get to dining locations within the Walt Disney World property. The Minnie Van transportation is another great option for arriving for early morning dining reservations, as well as making it easier to travel from resort to resort for dining and shopping.

Tressa Krippel

Travel Specialist

Every summer Disney Cruise Line sails one of its ships to Europe for one of the most special sets of itineraries available. Disney Cruise Line separates their European itineraries into Northern Europe and Mediterranean itineraries. This summer my family was able to experience the unique 7 night re-positioning cruise that connected these guest experiences. We started in Dover, England and ended in
Barcelona, Spain and it was a vacation we will never forget and recommend to all interested in visiting Europe with their family.

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Visiting Europe on a Disney cruise allows families to visit multiple countries and cultures in a short time while keeping a home base on the ship. The tours offered by Disney’s port adventures team allow for the interests of all ages with varying tour lengths to accommodate your needs.

On our particular cruise, we docked in Le Havre, France; Lisbon, Portugal; and Cadiz, Spain with 3 full days at sea. All of these countries were new to our family so we took advantage of the tours to see all we could while we were in port. Le Havre is located in northern France and about a 2 ½ to 3 hour drive from Paris. With a 16 hour stopover, there was plenty of time to take an adventure into Paris and see the main sights of the city. Lisbon’s city tour showed us how important the city and its inhabitants were to navigation of the oceans and the discovery of the new world. Cadiz’s town square, just steps from the dock, allowed us a walking tour of the city that dates from the time of the Phoenicians, about 1100 BC. Another amazing sight was seeing Africa as we sailed through the Strait of Gibraltar late one evening.

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Families of all ages can be found on Disney’s European cruises. If you have young children, exposing them to the historical locations, introducing them to new languages, and giving them a fun time each day is a great introduction to Europe. Tweens and teens will get excited when they recognize places and people that they’ve studied in school and then when they are back on ship the excitement doesn’t stop when the meet up with new friends in Edge and Vibe.

What makes Disney’s cruises so special to experience Europe is the fun, family friendly atmosphere. From the shows, to the on board events, to the age appropriate port adventures, to characters that dress in the native clothing of the ports, you will find everyone young and old enjoying each day of the cruise from morning until night.

Going on a European Disney Cruise Line vacation is one of the most memorable vacations that a family can have. Disney’s European itineraries are available for booking by contacting your Me and the Mouse travel agent.

Michelle Browne – travel specialist

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Loews Portofino Bay Resort is my resort of choice while visiting Universal Studios in Orlando. The beautiful re-creation of the famed seaside resort village of Portofino, Italy truly gives you the feeling of a piece of Italy in Orlando. I have stayed here on several occasions and continue to come back because it is exquisite in every way. The rooms are spacious and luxurious designed with superior quality and make you feel like a V.I.P. while you are a guest. You will feel the grandeur as you enter the lobby.

The service here is impeccable. This upscale resort is worth every penny because it includes complementary Universal Express passes for each guest in your party. The Universal Express pass allows you to skip the lines on many of the popular rides at the Universal Parks, including all of the Harry Potter attractions. You will also receive one hour early entry into the parks allowing you to beat the crowds. Water taxi service is available from this resort which provides easy access to the parks.

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If you are looking for a fun hotel catering to children, try a Despicable Me-themed Kid Suite with a Garden or Bay View. Parents can have privacy in a beautiful master bedroom with a king bed and the kids will have a connecting room with 2 twin beds shaped like Minion missiles.

The grounds and pools are always beautiful and well kept. Portofino Bay offers 3 swimming pools. The Beach pool is a lively pool ideal for families. It has a waterslide and a sandy beach. The Villa pool has a more serene atmosphere. Lastly, the Hillside pool offers more privacy. It is great to be able to return to your resort for some poolside relaxation after spending an active day at the parks. The Mandara Spa promises blissful renewal of both mind and body and offers a variety of spa services and treatments, a complimentary fitness center, and exclusive steam and sauna facilities.

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Each evening at sunset, the Harbor Piazza hosts nightly Italian musical performances, including Opera Singers, which really adds to the ambiance of this magnificent resort. It is a delightful way to end the day.

There are many restaurants onsite at Portofino Bay serving a variety of menus, including Mama Della’s Ristorante, Trattoria del Porto, Sal’s Market Deli and the superb Bice Ristorante. Dining and ambiance at this onsite resort is part of the wonderful experience at staying at a Universal resort.

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This resort holds a special place in my heart because of the incredible memories my family has made there. Loew’s Portofino Bay Resort offers onsite guests the opportunity to enjoy time away to rest, relax and enjoy a little piece of Italy.

Contact your Me and The Mouse Travel Specialist to book your next vacation to Universal Studios Orlando!

Traci Perjak
Travel Specialist

The relatively recent Fastpass Plus system is a great mystery to many Disney guests, even those who have been to Walt Disney World before.  Planning your Fastpasses too late, too spread out, or not doing them at all can completely derail your vacation.  Follow these tips to handle your Fastpass Plus reservations with minimal confusion and chaos so that your days in the parks go as smoothly as possible.

1) Stay on Disney property.   If you stay at a Disney resort hotel, you can make your fastpass reservations 60 days prior to your check in date for the duration of your vacation.  For offsite guests, the fastpass window will open up 30 days prior to your vacation and will require you to make fastpass reservations one day at a time.  If Frozen, Seven Dwarfs Mine Train or Avatar Flight of Passage are on your must-do list, you may be very disappointed if you don’t have a 30-day advantage by staying at a Disney resort hotel.

2)  Make your Fastpass Plus reservations for the mornings and as back to back as possible.  Once you use all three fastpasses, you have the ability to get more that day.  By having morning fastpasses, you are at way more of an advantage to get more throughout the day.  Since you have a one hour time frame for a fastpass reservation, make your reservations close together as possible.

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3) On your third fastpass reservation, get on your mobile app right after you scan your band.  While you wait to get on the ride, you can make great use of your time by immediately getting on your my Disney Experience app and securing your next fastpass.  For some of the less popular rides, you may be able to secure a Fastpass within the hour.

4) Use your Fastpasses on rides, not shows.  Whether you have a fastpass or not, you will still be waiting in the same line and the same amount of time for a show.   If Fantasmic, Rivers of Light, or the Festival of Fantasy Parade are on your must-do list, book a dining package instead.  Your seats will be better and you won’t be burning a fastpass.  Rides and absolutely must-see characters are the best use of your fastpass.

5) Make your Fastpass reservations for the rides that typically have the longest lines.  Do your research and check the wait times on your my Disney Experience app to see what rides have the longest lines.  Not only will you have short wait times for rides with longer lines, but rides with typically shorter wait times most likely have reservations you can make the day of (see tip #3).

Fastpass reservations can definitely be confusing for the Disney beginner, but if you use a Me and the Mouse Specialist, they will tailor your fastpasses to your family’s preferences so don’t forget to contact your agent!

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Julie Stewart

Travel Specialist.