Those traveling on a Disney Cruise in the Bahamas or Caribbean can experience an exciting day on the white, sandy beaches of Disney’s Castaway Cay. Whether you are an adult, a couple, or a family, there is much for everyone to enjoy. But what if you could partake in a unique experience that not only creates fun memories, but also helps to preserve native wildlife? Sounds exciting, right?! Then why not try the Stingray Adventure at Castaway Cay?

You and your family can schedule this amazing excursion once your excursion date has opened and you have paid your cruise fare in full. At $52 per adult (10 and up) and $41 for kids (5 to 9), you will have an hour of exclusive time with multiple stingrays in ‘Stingray Lagoon’. It is important that your children are at least 5 years old and are comfortable swimming with life jackets and goggles/snorkels, and are gentle with animals. If they are not, it may not be the excursion for them!

Once on the island, travel to ‘Castaway Ray’s’ rentals, and they will direct you to the ‘Stingray Hut’. In the hut, a Marine Biologist (who lives and works with the sea life ON the island!) will give you a crash course on the animals themselves, how humans should behave around them and what to expect from them, as well as what you will be doing to interact with them. It’s fascinating to learn about these beautiful creatures! And even better knowing that the Marine Biologists with Disney have rescued these animals and are rehabilitating them.

Next, you’ll walk to Stingray Lagoon where the stingrays are swimming…and are hungry! Biologists, trainers, and feeders have taught the stingrays how to get used to humans, as well as how to eat. There is a special U-Shaped tray they must swim over to get their special food, and they will eat STRAIGHT FROM YOUR HANDS on a Mickey Plate!

Once they have been fed, you are free to swim about the lagoon with the stingrays. They may swim up to you and bump you, thinking you have food. They will allow you to pet them, chase them, and swim with them! Stingrays are so soft and very gentle! Well, their “bumps” into you can be forceful if they think you have food in your hand. It really is a unique, swimming-with-wildlife experience!

We enjoyed this excursion this past summer, and I have to say, was the most fun we’ve ever had on an excursion. We have memories that will last a lifetime – whenever we see a ray at the zoo, at the aquarium, or in the Living Seas at Epcot, we recall what we learned and the experiences we had!

Want to take part in this excursion? Make sure you book your next cruise with a Me and The Mouse Travel Specialist and have your agent assist you in booking this amazing experience!

Amy Sowinski

Travel Specialist

 

For fans of Disney’s Wreck it Ralph, or anyone with an imagination and a sweet-tooth…you’ll want to explore Vanellope’s Sweets and Treats aboard the Disney Dream! You’ll find this confectionary inside the Cabana’s, with limited hours.

Vanellope’s has a wide array of candies, ice creams, gelatos, and confections, that you’re sure to find something for everyone in your family to enjoy*.  It’s whimsically decorated to resemble “Sugar Rush”, Vanellope’s video game in Wreck it Ralph…complete with Sour Bill, King Candy, and Vanellope herself!

While I could gush about the insane amount of goodies I drooled over this summer while on board the Disney Dream, I want to talk about Vanellope’s specialty items! The menu for Artisan Sundaes is jam-packed full of movie-referenced concoctions for you and your family to enjoy. The BEST part??!!  You can special order ANY of these sundaes AND they will hand-deliver for your dessert any night you choose!  It was so exciting!

We chose the “Vanellope Von Schweetz – Race Car Sundae”, because who doesn’t want a replica of the race car that wins the Grand Prix!?  At $13, it’s quite a steal. Not only is the racecar yours to keep, but you get THREE choices of ice cream OR gelato (in any combination), your choice of FIVE extra toppings, whipped cream and a cherry on top!  For a family of 3, it was the perfect indulgence for all!

Our sweet shop chef not only took our order and dining time/rotation – but also guaranteed she would be the one to create and hand-deliver our dessert at our dinner that evening!  All we had to do was give our receipt to our server at dinner, he would place the call, and VIOLA! At dessert time, here she was!

It’s not just an ordinary sundae. Specially crafted chocolates adorned the sundae, and the awesome touches to replicate Vanellope’s car were so very memorable!  There are many custom sundaes you can order…but this one was the Sugar Rush-iest! 🙂

When you plan your next Disney Cruise aboard the Disney Dream with your Me and The Mouse Travel Specialist, consider surprising your little one (or your own sweet tooth) with an awesome confection from Vanellope’s Sweets and Treats!

*Please note: nuts, milk, soy and other allergens are used in the making of most items in Vanellope’s. There may be gluten free options, but one would have to ask while aboard.

 

Amy Sowinski

Travel Specialist

I know, I know, this sounds like crazy talk – but doing “4 Parks in 1 Day” is doable…even if you have only 1 day to do it, versus multiple park days.  It’s giving brief attention to each park, for what you absolutely want to do…all while understanding that there will be a lot of travel, both on foot and between the parks.

Let’s set you up for success, with realistic expectations, and a time frame.  

  1. REMINDER: There is no guarantee you will get to do everything in every park.  Choose those must do’s (2-3 attractions, characters, or shows) in each park.
  2. Pre-planning is key. Look at park hours. Do you want to do early morning magic hours?  Would you rather do late night?  Would you rather not do either, and hit those ‘magic hour’ parks midday instead?  Find what works for you.  Put each park in order.
  3. Book your Fast Passes for the park in which you want to do the MOST.  This will maximize your time in that park, and move you through quicker!  
  4. If it coordinates, make the park you made the Fast Passes in be the first park you visit in the day. That way you can utilize extra Fast Passes later in the day.
  5. Whichever park you pick first, be there at park opening/rope drop (or as early as you are able).  You can accomplish a lot at that early time, even without your Fast Passes.  
  6. Remember that you can adjust Fast Passes for other experiences if your choices end up being shorter waits than anticipated!
  7. Don’t focus on table service meals. Quick service, and ‘walkable’ foods/drinks, will help you get through the parks faster.
  8. Utilize in-park transportation.  It is much quicker than your own. (water taxi’s may delay your time frame, so plan accordingly)
  9. If you get side-tracked, or something keeps you from your set plan – be flexible enough to modify your plans on the fly if necessary.
  10. Finally, realize that you will spend every bit of 12-14 hours in the parks that day – especially if you have utilized Extra Magic Hours.  Wear comfortable shoes and clothing!

Now, what if you have elementary aged kiddos?  You know your kids better than anyone – and the list above can be adapted for kids as well.  

  • Add their list of ‘must-do’s’ in the mix – can they be achieved in a timely manner too? Or will you compromise for a little of each?
  • Are your kiddos early risers or night owls?  Do they need naps, etc?  This must go into your pre-planning as well.  
  • If you don’t want to go back to the hotel for naps – perhaps longer, air conditioned, attractions (i.e Spaceship Earth, a 3D show, etc) may be a good alternative ‘down time’ – and should be figured into your schedule.
  • Figure in ‘melt down’ times. It will happen. We know, and understand.  Just plan for it 🙂
  • And realize, at the end of the night, you may be carrying them out, sleeping in your arms!

Kiddos in strollers?  Well, while it is doable to do all 4 in a day with a stroller aged kiddo – It may be better to plan for 4 parks, but to stop when it’s appropriate for your family.  If they can sleep through anything, bring the stroller along!  

On our last trip, we squeezed 3 of the 4 parks into our day.  A table service meal, and a longer line to see Mickey than anticipated bogged us down.  Had we only done quick service, and utilized a Fast Pass for Mickey – we could have gotten to all 4.  Lesson learned!

Want to plan a jam packed day? Contact your Me and The Mouse Travel Specialist today!

Amy Sowinski

Travel Specialist

 

Looking for something to do while on your cruise on your own, in a group, or with your family?  Well then look no further than Trivia challenges during your fantastic voyage!

Trivia levels vary on time of day and location within the ship.  In the family lounges, or lounges that allow those under the age of 21 to enter – anyone can partake in Trivia challenges!  You’ll find these challenges to encompass more family friendly topics (Disney parks or movies trivia, Pixar trivia, ‘do you know your family’ game show type trivia).  Fast paced, honor system, and tie breaking trivia fun is had by all.

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Trivia found in 21+ lounges host challenges covering more movie/quote trivia outside of Disney, or very obscure Disney trivia – covering more Walt Disney himself era trivia that the adult audience may have a better chance of knowing.  A little more competitive, adult trivia tends to carry a little more ‘clout’ with it if you win!   (I won, twice, on my last cruise…I would know 🙂

While bragging rights are the BEST part of winning Trivia on board your cruise ship, the “bling” you get for winning is also pretty cool. Although I cannot guarantee every cruise ship in the Disney Cruise fleet gives these out to winners, the Disney Dream and Disney Wonder sure do!

After winning our trivia rounds (Movie Quotes/adult and Pixar Trivia/family), we were asked to wear these ‘medals’ with pride for the remainder of our cruise.  You better believe we did!

Trivia is so much fun and a great ‘filler’ between larger activities.  Don’t be afraid to join in on the fun!!

Amy Sowinski

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

 

at Disney’s Boardwalk Inn

Bon Voyage Breakfast- Trattoria al FornoA relatively new experience, the Bon Voyage Breakfast at Trattoria al Forno is a lovely alternative for  character meals.  Meet two of the most adventurous princesses out there – Ariel and Rapunzel! Accompanied by Prince Eric and Flynn Ryder {Eugene for those that know him well}, no less!  Introduced by royal decree – each couple comes to visit tables and bring adventure to every family!  Sometimes, Ariel may ask you to swim with her like her favorite fishy friends in a conga line!

This restaurant boasts a charming, dark-wood, tile-floor, open kitchen concept everyone is sure to love. The dining room is more intimate, and ordering off menu versus a buffet is a wonderful change of pace!  Every menu item is inspired by The Little Mermaid or Tangled.  

Before you start your adventure, each table has a “Bon Voyage Adventure Journal” to fill out. In it, your family will find a place to write down your favorite adventures, your favorite travel companions, and other fun items to commemorate your trip!

Bon Voyage Breakfast- Trattoria al FornoTo start your day, you are given a ‘glass of sunshine’ and an assortment of delicious pastries served in a frying pan {Rapunzel’s weapon of choice}. You can then order your drink of choice {even Mimosas!} and select a fruit cup or parfait.  Both are beautiful and tasty!

Entrées range from eggs to calzones!  Kiddos can enjoy traditional breakfasts if they wish – Mickey Waffles, however, are served as Ariel and Flounder waffles…and they are just as good!  Our family enjoyed a breakfast calzone fit for King Triton, a “tower of pancakes”, and those “Tangled” eggs.  Everything was beautifully served, and tasted delicious. My “Tangled” Eggs were served on top of roasted red potatoes, sun dried tomatoes, and served with bacon. It was scrumptious – Rapunzel would have approved!

Flynn Ryder and Rapunzel visited us first…and of course, Flynn requested a new ‘wanted’ poster.  Then Ariel and Prince Eric came to visit.  I have to admit, Prince Eric was wonderful. He had so much to talk to everyone about and was able to bring most kiddos out of their shell….I guess that’s why Ariel fell in love with him!

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Gluten free and allergy options were available – but it is so very important to make your dining reservations with those needs noted, as well as alerting everyone you encounter of your needs at your dining time. All special dietary needs can be met, however it does take a bit longer to prepare! Also, some dishes do not translate completely to the allergen free option.  Keep that in mind!

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I LOVED this new experience. It’s calm since you are ordering off menu, the characters can be more interactive, and it felt less ‘busy’ than other meals. I would definitely recommend this breakfast on your next Walt Disney World adventure!

Contact a Me and The Mouse Agent today to book your next Disney vacation and to include this fun experience in your next adventure! 

Amy Sowinski

Travel Specialist

It happens to all of us.  We LOVE a certain movie, animated feature, or Disney Channel show…and there’s that one character that has stolen our hearts.  We dream of traveling to Walt Disney World to meet our favorite character…and when we arrive, that character is nowhere to be found!  Don’t fret!

 

Tips to help you find your favorite character

{if they make appearances} or to cope with not seeing them!Tips for Finding Favorite Characters

  1. Use the My Disney Experience app!  Your FREE app on your mobile device lets you find characters throughout the Walt Disney World property.  Agent Missy gives you a step by step on this process HERE.

  2. Use our Character Dining blog – hard to meet characters can be found at our Character Dining locations, plus we are able to meet several characters at one location.

  3. Hollywood Studios tends to have the newest characters from the most recently released movies to meet and greet!  Checking this park out is a MUST if you have a recent character in mind!

  4. Visit an attraction or show based on the movie/tv show you love!  While you may not get up close and personal with them, you will get to see them in real life! Tips for Finding Favorite Characters

  5. Visit during one of our special holiday parties!  Both Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party AND Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party have special characters you cannot meet anywhere else!  {We’re looking at you, Jack Skellington and Sally!}

  6. Open a Disney Visa card with Chase! With special designated character meet and greet locations at both Hollywood Studios and Epcot, you never know what character will show up!

  7. Become friends with a Disney Vacation Club member!  Occasionally, DVC members will get special invites to DVC only parties where special and rare characters come out to greet!  Tips for Finding Favorite Characters
  8. Why not try a new destination?  Keep in mind, Disneyland on the West Coast has meet and greet for characters that Walt Disney World doesn’t (Marvel characters, Judy Hopps, Oswald the Lucky Rabbit, etc).  Maybe you’ll find who you are looking for in a new location!

 

Asking guest relations would be your best bet in finding your beloved character after you’ve exhausted the above options.

 

Tips for Finding Favorite CharactersI met Robin Hood, Prince John, Little John, and Friar Tuck when I was 7…while dining in Cinderella’s Castle.  Yes, in 1987, those were the characters at the castle!  Skip forward to the 2010s…those are the characters my kiddo has been dying to meet.  While we haven’t been able to nail them down yet, we are hopeful we will in the future as they have been at special events around property.

 

The most important thing, however, is to NOT let this ruin your trip!  You’ll make magical memories with anyone you meet.  Enjoy your vacation!

Ready to start planning your next Disney {or Universal} vacation? Contact a Me and The Mouse agent today!

 

Amy Sowinski

Travel Specialist

 

As you may or may not know, Caribbean Beach Resort, a Moderate Resort on Walt Disney World Resort property, has been undergoing some extensive refurbishments and construction over the last few months.  Construction is projected to continue through June 2018 to make way for fabulous new rooms, additional hotel buildings within the resort, new dining experiences, and some other surprise features as well {like deluxe resort quality mattresses}!

Caribbean Beach Updates

While we still encourage our guests to stay at this wonderful resort – to enjoy the ‘cluster’ housing design, great themed pools, and Island feel – we want you to be informed on the most recent updates to this resort.

 

In May 2017, many building clusters were sequestered from others by way of sidewalk. Other sections of the resort are only accessible by your own car, or by Disney internal bus system.  This is mainly a safety precaution due to heavy machinery working daily.  

Wondering about construction noise?  Work typically begins at 9am, and ends at dusk.  Evening work has been pushed to a minimum.  Construction has not been projected to interrupt your family time for sleeping!

Caribbean Beach UpdatesIt might be a little more difficult for travel to the main building {Centertown} for snacks, meals and quick drinks. So, Disney has created a room in each building cluster and designated it as an ‘Island Market’. The Market is staffed by a Cast Member to assist you with bottled drinks, coffee, grab and go style snacks, breakfast muffins and fruit. They are located in Aruba, Martinique, and Jamaica clusters. Coke Free-Style machines have been added to these markets and accept the resort refillable mugs! Some dining plan credits are accepted at these markets, but you will have to verify the dining plan logo.  This convenience has alleviated a lot of headache, and is a great addition to guest service!

Pool parties at the main pool have stepped up the guest interaction!  While not daily, a few characters have been known to show up and host a dance party with our younger guests! Weather permitting, Minnie, Goofy, and Donald have been making sporadic appearances at the main resort pool.  Appearances are not guaranteed, however.

Caribbean Beach Updates

The permanent dining experiences in Centertown are closed for refurbishment. However, a new breakfast buffet is now open at the outdoor eatery. Dining plan quick service credits are accepted.  Food trucks have also been set up around Centertown offering a variety of island inspired dishes for guests to enjoy in lieu of the traditional dining locations at Caribbean Beach Resort.  Room service options are still available as well!

Finally, a nice touch to a client room who just returned from a stay at Caribbean Beach – upon arrival, a gift basket was awaiting them on their bed.  The basket was filled with snacks, cereal and milk, a few drinks, and a Caribbean Beach lunch sized cooler bag.  ***It is unclear if this is a trend we will see in all rooms. This particular room’s view was of heavy construction, and a crane.  ***We cannot guarantee your room will have a gift basket***

 

Guests are still flocking to this resort, regardless of the construction. Disney is doing an amazing job to accommodate guests and to still provide world-class amenities and services.  We hope your stay at Caribbean Beach is a wonderful one!

 

Want to book a stay at Caribbean beach? Contact a Me and The Mouse Travel Specialist today!

 

Amy Sowinski

Travel Specialist

The anticipation of a Disney Cruise can be grand. There’s so much to plan, and for most travelers, it is a once-in-a-lifetime experience.  Your Me and The Mouse Travel Specialist will guide you in the best options for your travel party: before, during, and after your cruise.  One such option, is visiting the Walt Disney World Resort for a few days before embarking on your cruise that leaves from a Floridian port!

 

There are benefits to visiting the Most Magical Place On Earth BEFORE your cruise… Here are the Top Five!

 

  1.  5 Reasons To Visit Walt Disney World BEFORE Your Disney Cruise!You will be too relaxed (and tired) to visit the Walt Disney Resort after your cruise!

Cruising changes your mood, and changes your routine, to a Hakuna Matata lifestyle!  To then switch gears and amp up for a theme park visit is exhausting. Rest your tired feet, be pampered, and end your vacation refreshed!

 

  1.  By arriving a few days early, you will not have to worry about trip delays with airlines or traffic.

Day-of arrivals for cruises can be extremely stressful, as any major delay could keep you from boarding your cruise on time, or could prevent you from boarding at all!

 

  1. 5 Reasons To Visit Walt Disney World BEFORE Your Disney Cruise!You will experience world-class amenities at the Walt Disney World Resort hotel of your choice!

Not only will you enjoy perfectly themed rooms and resorts to fit your needs, but if you are flying, you will experience free Magical Express transportation from Orlando International Airport to your resort.  Transportation from your resort hotel to the port can also be arranged, but for a nominal fee, either with Disney transportation or with a private car service.  All of which, your Travel Specialist can assist with!

 

  1.  Room and package discounts often make a WDW stay cheaper than an off-site hotel!

And who doesn’t like to save money on vacation?  

 

  1. If you are that close to the Magic…why not?

5 Reasons To Visit Walt Disney World BEFORE Your Disney Cruise!Get the chance to experience an attraction, dine at a restaurant, or meet a character you’ve always dreamed of!  There’s no better time to do so!  Whether your first visit or your umpteenth, your Walt Disney World memories will stay with you forever.  Kids, and the “Kids-at-Heart”, agree that the opportunity to visit WDW along with the Disney Cruise was a great decision.  Every Disney experience is unique and worthwhile! Why not combine the best of both worlds and make unforgettable memories on Land and at Sea?  Especially if this is a once-in-a-lifetime trip!

 

You’re never too old to experience all the Magic that Disney has to offer!  Let your Me and The Mouse Travel Specialist guide you through a few easy steps to add your Walt Disney World experience to the start of your cruise vacation, and add more memories that will last a lifetime! If you’re not yet connected with a Me and The Mouse agent, visit our contact page, and we’d love to pair you with one of our incredible specialists!

 

Amy Sowinski

Travel Specialist

One of my fellow agents, Ryan Gross, wrote a blog on all that was sweet and savory in Walt Disney World {read it, here!}, and mentioned ‘poutine’ as one of his favorites.  If you’d like to know more about this savory treat, you’re in luck!

The Daily Poutine - Disney Springs Dining

The Daily Poutine is a small, brick, ‘snack’ stand in Disney Spring, located roughly behind the Lego Store in the Marketplace, but not quite in the Town Center. It overlooks a lovely fountain and the savory smells billowing from this stand will keep you close by.

 

Promoting ‘gourmet frites’, the Daily Poutine makes 4 different poutine dishes.  Served in a large bowl, you will find it filled with french fries and cheese curds, and topped with heavenly items.  It’s a great treat to share for two {or a great meal for one}!

 

Classic poutine is covered in brown, beef gravy.  Simple, delicious, and so filling. I had never had it before – and it was my favorite! Italian poutine tastes like a meatball sub on french fries. Mmm! French poutine reminds me of cream of mushroom on french fries…I didn’t like it, but it may be your favorite!

BRAND NEW: As of Memorial Day weekend 2017, The Daily Poutine has added a Cheeseburger Poutine to its menu! French fries are covered with ground beef, Beer cheese sauce, traditional burger toppings – including house-made pickles!  It’s topped with traditional poutine cheese curds as well!

The Daily Poutine - Disney Springs DiningIf you are looking for a ‘meal’, I suggest the Latin poutine.  It uses fried yucca instead of fries, however, you’ll get black beans, rice, melted cheese and pulled pork on top!  It’s just the right spice, warmth and texture to fill that comfort food void.

 

What’s a great thing about poutine, well, next to the comforting flavors?  Low prices for a snack that could serve as a meal; and if you’re on the dining plan, most drinks at this location are covered as a snack credit.  

 

If you’re looking for something quick, portable, and that ‘hit the spot’ taste…look no further than the poutine at The Daily Poutine at Disney Springs. Ready to take the stress away from planning your Disney vacation? Contact a Me and The Mouse agent today, we would LOVE to help plan your next magical getaway!

Amy Sowinski

Travel Specialist