A strategy for successfully navigating your next vacation!

Uncle "Tim" EffectOver the past several months, I have written many blogs about different strategies that my family has utilized to help make our visits to Walt Disney World successful {You can read those here & here!}. My oldest son, Matt, is living with Fragile X Syndrome. It is the leading cause of inherited mental impairment and leading known genetic cause of Autism.  My son often struggles with becoming overwhelmed by even preferred activities, and this can lead to less than desirable behaviors.  We have used many strategies as I have discussed in previous blogs.  This blog is focused on our most successful strategy.  We affectionately call it “The Uncle Tim effect”!


Over the years, we noticed a marked difference in my son. When we would have someone else visiting the parks with use, he would have a better ability to manage his environment and to keep the undesirable behaviors under control.  We have been very fortunate over the years to experience the parks with a wide variety of friends and family.  Our expectations are realistic {you can read about that, here}. W
e are continually aware and mindful that Matt may be reaching his limit and in need of a break.  

Uncle Tim Saves the Day

When Uncle Tim is with us, things are different. Uncle "Tim" EffectWhen a preferred person is with us, Matt is incredibly motivated to be a part of the experiences much longer.  For example, when we visit with my immediate family only we know 3-4 attractions/hours are his limit before he needs a break, a meal, a bus ride, or we have to pull out the ultimate reward, a ride on the monorail.  Although, Matt may not want to participate/ride all the attractions that others may prefer, when we have Uncle Tim with us he patiently waits.  On our most recent day trip, we visited two parks over nearly 11 hours!!!!  No undesirable behaviors, no extra breaks and not even one ride on the monorail!  

A vacation to a Disney destination, Universal or Disney Cruise Line is not inexpensive.  There is no value you can put on the experience, in my opinion.  The memories, the excitement, the wonder and awe we experience together as a family will be with us for the rest of our lives.  Bringing a support person(s) with you will only enhance your experience and well worth the additional investment.  This concept is not exclusive to families who have special needs and can be beneficial to a wide variety of visitors and families.  

Uncle "Tim" Effect

So maybe you don’t have an actual Uncle Tim in your life! However, I’m sure you have a family friend, a preferred peer, or even an Uncle Tom! They would love to accompany you on your next trip. It would be an honor to be asked to be the support person for your family. They would know they were making a difference in your family’s next vacation experience!  

I look forward to helping you plan your most successful strategy for your next vacation. I know my family has been able to experience more because of the careful time that has gone into planning each of our vacations.

 

Ready to plan your next Disney Destination Vacation? Contact a Me and The Mouse agent, today!

 

Missy Zolecki

Travel Specialist

 

I mean who doesn’t want to look cute in their vacation pictures?

Denim & Capri Outfit at Disney I don’t know about you, but vacation week is the ONE time of year I can get out of yoga pants and put on clothing outside of spandex.  With busy days working from home and continuously entertaining my 2 boys, I have limited times when putting on something cute is practical.

I also look forward to wearing more stylish clothing on vacation because this is a week I take more pictures with my kids than I do ALL year.  It’s my chance to take candid or Memory Maker photos to replace the older pictures around my house.

Some say, “It’s Disney, I’m going casual, no need for the ‘cute’ factor”.  But why can’t you be practical AND stylish?

~My top style choices~

  • Comfortable lightweight shorts: I love elastic waist shorts in various colors!  Pair them with a solid or patterned top for a fun outfit.  In Disney, we tend to eat more than usual, so having shorts that do not push on your belly is key.
  • Loose fitting tops: With the heat and the amount of food consumed {again}, loose clothing is comfier!  With tighter shirts, you may also deal with unwanted stickiness from Florida heat.   Loose tops are more breathable!
  • Flowy dresses: Flowy dresses in summer are great!  Dress it up or down to wear to the park or dinner.  Again, flowy = breathable and expandable for food consumption.
  • Rompers: Don’t like dresses?  Try a romper!  They’re easy to wear to the parks or dinner for a night.  Material is light and cool and I love that they aren’t tight…all good things, all good things. If you’re concerned about trying a romper, take a look below at this extremely easy & carefree outfit I put together. This makes for easy packing & cute pictures!Wear Cute & Practical Clothes at Disney!
  • Cute shoes: Ok…you may not want my advice on this one.  Because I hate hot/enclosed feet in the summer, I always wear sandals!  The last couple trips, I’ve worn flat strappy sandals with zero support.  I don’t recommend this, but if you’re like me, I’d save them for a nice dinner or night where you plan on doing little walking {because my feet ached!}. I love Clarks sandals for park days which offer great support {just be sure to break them in before you go}.
  • Safety Sweater: Disney restaurants are COLD, which is great in Florida heat, but with less clothing, it’s….brrrr!  I take a limited amount of sweater options since I’m only wearing them at restaurants or on a cool morning/night.  Take a jean jacket {goes with everything} and a black and a white cardigan.  These options are light and easy to throw in a park bag.
  • Capris: I tend to travel in warmer months, so pants/capris are not something I bring a lot of.  I prefer a looser pair of boyfriend capris for days I need something heavier.

Take a Look at Some of My Outfits!


 

These are my top clothing styles for my Disney trips.  The clothing is light and minimal which also makes packing easier!  With a few accessories to tie it together, it’s easy to complete your outfit.

Putting “real” clothes on for this mom of 2 is just ONE of the highlights of my vacation…it’s the little things in life.

Looking for more than just fashion advice? We’d love to help plan your dream Disney or Universal vacation! Contact a Me and The Mouse agent today to help take the stress away from your planning!

 

Megan Thompson

Travel Specialist

 

 

Adventures by Disney – 8 days, 7 nights

Featuring two amazing cities rich with history, the Adventures by Disney England and France departure is ideal for families exploring Europe together for the first time. There are several recognizable sites from your favorite books and films. You will be in awe of the beauty and excitement of the highlighted cities. Europe Vacation - Adventures by Disney

Starting off in London, you will experience some of the city’s most iconic landmarks. This includes a private tour of Westminster Abbey, witnessing the Changing of the Guards at Buckingham Palace, touring the Tower of London and meet a Beefeater, and taking a speed-boat ride up the Thames!

You can explore the English countryside, take in an archery lesson, and stroll the grounds of Windsor Castle. A special experience here includes scone-making and tea at Guildhall. Guildhall is a stunning setting where dignitaries and the Royal Family have gathered since the 12th century.

Travel on to Paris by train in the Chunnel under the English Channel. After an introduction to the sites of Paris, experience the Eiffel Tower with a Behind-the-Scenes tour. This includes access to the rooftop of the Le Jules Verne restaurant for a 360-degree panoramic view of Paris {one word, breathtaking}. Your Parisian adventure continues with wine tasting, bicycling and walking tours.

You will end your adventure in Paris by visiting the Louvre and the Notre Dame Cathedral! This is a day full of beauty and art. There are activities for both adults and children. The adults will enjoy a tour of the Louvre with a private guide. It includes a viewing of the Mona Lisa.  The children can play Art Detective to discover some of the Louvre’s most famous works. Europe Vacation - Adventures by Disney

As always with an Adventures by Disney tour, you will experience 5 Star accommodations, VIP access to historic sites, immersion into local customs and traditions, and world class service. Adventures by Disney promises you will leave feeling a connection to the land and the people.

With the journey culminating in Paris, extending your family’s visit to include a few nights at Disneyland Paris before heading home is a great add-on to add a little extra Disney magic.

For assistance finding the ideal Adventures by Disney tour for your family, contact your Me and the Mouse Travel Specialist!

 

Nancy Wideman

Travel Specialist

Love Disney, but looking for a different way to experience the magic? Take a look at Adventures by Disney for your next trip! Adventures by Disney has several different destinations to choose from. Now until March 4th, 2017, Adventures by Disney is running a special promotion for their Danube River Cruise. You can read about the travel dates and find out more information, here.

The Danube River Cruise is the perfect mix of adventure, fun, history, cuisine, and MAGIC!
Take a look at the video below and get a glimpse of the memories and magic you can experience on a one-of-a kind Adventures by Disney Danube River Cruise!

 

 

Interested in embarking on an Adventures by Disney expedition? Contact a Me and The Mouse agent today!

 

Mickey Ears – you can find them everywhere at both Walt Disney World and Disneyland. They are a fashion statement on everyone from babies to seniors. Some people, including myself, even have a small collection of ears to suit every occasion. Everyone has a desire to look like Mickey Mouse but what do people do who don’t want to blend in with the crowd?

Show your Disney style by making your own Mickey ears. This is an easy craft with options for people that are super handy with a sewing machine and those who are close friends of the glue gun. It’s a perfect craft idea for crafty tweens and teens too as you can make a pair of Mickey ears in less than 30 minutes.

DIY Mickey Mouse Ears


Materials:

Headbands {thicker ones work best} Cotton Balls
Ribbon Glue Gun
Cardboard Sewing Machine {optional}
Fabric of choice {enough to cover the ears}

Step 1:

Start by tracing 2 equally sized circles onto your cardboard. Officially the ratio of the ears to Mickey’s head is 3:5 (a 3” diameter ear matches a 5” diameter head) but you can draw freehand the size of ears that you wish. Line up the ears with the headband and cut off the bottom of the ears to match the curve of the headband so you can attach them in your final step.

Step 2:

Cut out your material for the ears slightly bigger than the size of the cardboard. Sew or glue the material with right sides together, leaving the bottom open to slide the cardboard in. Flip the material so the right side is showing and slide your cardboard in. Ears have a bit of cushioning to them so take your cotton balls, shred them thin, and stuff them on both sides of the ears to add the cushioning. Glue or hand sew the rest of the ears together.

Step 3:

Next, wrap your headband with ribbon in a coordinating color to match your ears. Use your hot glue gun to glue the ears to the headband and your ears are complete.

Step 4:

Looking to turn your Mickey ears into Minnie ears? Add a bow in the middle to match your custom theme.
Many local stores carry Disney themed bows already made, or take your ribbon and turn it into a bow by gluing together one larger loop, the width of your desired bow, and then wrap and glue a thinner piece of ribbon around the middle of the larger loop to complete the bow. Optionally, add decorations to the middle of the bow or the ears themselves.

Custom Mickey and Minnie ears are a great memory of a Disney vacation. Be sure to tag Me and the Mouse Travel on your Facebook page with your ears so we can see you show your very own Disney style! For more ideas, take a look at the pictures below and visit our DIY Mouse Ears Pinterest board.

 

Michelle Browne

Disney Vacation Planner

 

Working with a travel planner who specializes in Disney vacations can save you money and time, but how do you find a travel planner who will work well with your family?

  • Friends and family are a great resource – ask them how they planned their Disney vacation, and you might find they have a great referral for you!
  • You can search on the internet for travel agents specializing in Disney. There are a lot of them, so how do you weed them out? Look for a professional-looking website, certifications and affiliations, and even the Disney EarMarked logo (showing that the agency is an Authorized Disney Vacation Planner).
  • Talk with an agent and ask if there are any fees. Most agents do not charge a fee unless you booked on your own and they are only providing planning services.
  • Be clear about the services you’d like the agent to provide. Some agents will do your dining reservations and FastPass reservations. Others will only make suggestions.
  • What happens if Disney offers a promotion after you’ve already booked with your travel planner? Will your planner be aware of any new promotions? and will they automatically apply the promotion to your qualifying reservation?
  • If you have any special requests or requirements, be sure to mention them at the onset of your discussions. Your agent may have information that may help you with your requests, or they may have recommendations that they might not have made had your requests remained unknown.
  • Understand the value of your travel planner. We are there to take the stress out of the planning process and do everything to ensure you enjoy your vacation. We spend many hours fine-tuning all the details. We will often include extra pixie dust for your family. The services and little surprises your agent can provide you with outweigh any small discount or gift card you might be offered by another company simply trying to get your business.
  • And don’t forget – even families who have been to Disney dozens of time can still find value in a travel planner. We make sure we are aware of all the newest rides and attractions, restaurants, and any changes. The World of Disney changes very quickly, even from month to month. When you are settled in your comfort zone with what your family enjoys at Disney, something new will be introduced that you might have otherwise overlooked!

Nancy Wideman

Travel Specialist

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Some of my favorite photos of my kids are from Disney parks, and I have HUGE scrapbooks to prove it! I’m one of those moms who will plan an outfit based on where we’ll be, what characters we might meet, coordinating colors,… I also enjoy taking candid photos – photos when they’re looking somewhere else and all you see is the joy in their eyes, photos while walking behind them, and the simple things that make up what a Disney vacation means to our family. I am in no way a professional photographer, but I do like to pay attention to my shots.

1) Get down to their level. Sure, have some fun taking some artistic shots looking straight down at your kids or looking up at them from the ground, but the best photos are those that are at the same level as the subject. Experience things from a child’s perspective, and you’ll be amazed what comes into focus!

2) Mind the background! Sometimes what is behind your subject can be totally distracting when looking at a photo. Make sure that plant won’t look like it’s growing out of someone’s head! On the other hand, maybe you’d like to include something or someone in the background to show where you are. Offset your subject to the side so you can include the background in the frame!

3) Watch them when they don’t know you’re watching! Kids will get lost in the parade. They’ll be in awe of the castle or in seeing their favorite characters. Those are the moments to fill the frame with that pure joy!

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4) A great photo doesn’t necessarily require the subject’s face to be in the picture. Walk behind them and take a photo of their back, and show what they are walking towards!

5) Don’t be afraid to get up close! I always try to snap several different shots of a scene – zoom in, zoom out, portrait, landscape,…. I am drawn to images where I can really see someone’s face. While it’s good to be able to know where your subject is in a photo, sometimes it’s the expression on his/her face that is more important.

6) And lastly, what I struggle with – Learn when to put away the camera and just enjoy the moment. Dark rides and nighttime photos can be difficult with a point and shoot camera. Take a few photos if you must, but then sit back and enjoy the rest of your time.

7) Let’s not forget – Disney’s PhotoPass photographers can be found all over the parks and even at select resorts! Be sure to get a family portrait and, if you’re up for some fun, have them do a special pose with you!

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Friendly reminder – Don’t be “that guy!” Although many of us are tempted to take photos on dark rides, please refrain from having the flash go off at every scene. It ruins the magic for everyone else, and unless you’ve got a great DSLR camera, it’s very difficult to get a good, clear shot worth taking.

Nancy Wideman

Travel Specialist

mickey-pluto-in-suitcase-

Yes, you can book your own travel online.  You can do everything yourself from  spending countless hours of research to reading hundreds of blogs until you are dizzy, but working with a destination specialist is invaluable.  Why?  Here are just a few reasons that will make your trip less stressful and more magical…

 Knowledge

When it comes to Disney World, more research is required than any other Disney Destination.  A Disney Specialist can save you so much time on the details from the best restaurants to eat at to which parks will be the least crowded, helping you avoid time-wasted searches in the parks and helping you simply enjoy your vacation.

 Free to you

It doesn’t cost you any extra to book through an agent vs. booking straight through Disney.  In fact, most Disney Specialists will give you so many fun “goodies” for your family that Disney won’t. 

 Saves you money

Not only is it free to work with an agent, it can actually save you money because agents are aware of all new discount codes and will apply them to your reservation as they become available.  When you make your own reservations, you have to be on the lookout for any sales.

 Dining reservations booked for you

Many of those very hard to get dining reservations require being online or on the phone at the crack of dawn 180 days in advance of your trip. Disney travel agents will make these reservations for you, allowing you to relax and sleep in.

 Other reservations too

Aside from dining reservations, agents will also make your reservations for special tours, as well as things like Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique and Magical Express.

Elizabeth Hollman

Travel Specialist