During discussions with my clients I often bring up visiting Disney Springs while on vacation.  I have uncovered that many Disney first timers were unaware of this not-so-hidden oasis at Disney World.  So the homeschool mom in me has put together today’s lesson: Disney Springs 101.

 

Lesson 1: The History behind Disney Springs

  • This area of Disney World opened on March 22, 1975 as Lake Buena Vista Village and was Disney’s first shopping area.  The shopping area was actually set up to serve residents who were supposed to be living on Disney property.  The plans changed and with that so did the name and purpose of Lake Buena Vista Village.  
  • The first name change took place in 1977 to Walt Disney World Village and the idea behind it now was to keep Disney guests on Disney property.  With that idea in hand Walt Disney World Village transformed into the entertainment district encompassing entertainment, shopping, and restaurant options that would not be found in any of the Disney theme parks. Disney Springs 101 
  • Then in 1989 Disney had seen another need arise, that to add more adult nightlife options.  This new area became named Pleasure Island and had celebrations nightly kicked off at midnight.  During that same year, Walt Disney World Village Market underwent yet another name change to The Disney Village Marketplace.     
  • In 1995, Walt Disney World Village went through yet another rebranding and combined both Pleasure Island and Walt Disney World Village to create the Downtown Disney District.  This turned out to be a very great option for this space for many years! (I know I loved visiting the area when I worked at Disney.)
  • The time had come on November 18, 2010 Disney announced their newest inspiration for this shopping and entertainment district a themed town built around the idea of a twentieth century water side town, Disney Springs.  Disney Springs would bring in even more shopping and dining options, nearly doubling its current size and adding not one but two parking structures. This space is still known today as Disney Springs!

 

Lesson 2: Geography of Disney Springs

There are 4 different themed areas that are combined to create Disney Springs:

  • The Landing
  • The Marketplace
  • The Westside
  • Town Center

 

Lesson 3: Dining while at Disney Springs

Disney Springs 101First and foremost, your dining plan can be used at many locations at Disney Springs! There are currently 55 different dining locations offered within the 4 themed areas.  There is something for everyone! You can find anything from amazing sandwiches {check out Earl of Sandwich} to waterfront fine dining at the Boathouse!  Let’s not forget all the dessert options!  Two of my favorite sweet stops are: Sprinkles Gourmet cupcakes and Ghirardelli Ice Cream and Chocolate Shop. This special Sprinkles location features a cupcake ATM. {You can read more about Sprinkles, here!}  

 

Lesson 4: Shopping at Disney Springs

Disney Springs 101Disney Springs really has stepped up the game on shopping options!  There are 110 unique shopping venues available!  Some of the stores have stayed post renaming such as:

  • The Lego Store
  • The Wide World of Disney
  • Basin
  • Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique
  • Disney Days of Christmas

There are also SEVERAL new options of stores to check out such as:

  • The Coca Cola Store
  • Happy Hound
  • Kate Spade New York
  • Lefty’s the Left Handed Store

 

Lesson 5: Entertainment Opportunities while at Disney SpringsDisney Springs 101

Disney Springs is more than just dining and shopping! You can enjoy some family friendly entertainment at:

  • Cirque Du Soleil La Nouba
  • AMC 24 Movie Theater
  • Disney Quest Interactive Theme Park
  • Splitsville Luxury Lane Bowling {Read more, here!}
  • House of Blues
  • Market Place Stage Live Shows

 

Questions from the Class

  1. Does admittance into Disney Springs require a park ticket or any charge?

No, it’s FREE!! This makes it a great option to go to on a non-park day such as the first day you arrive or if you have an off day in your itinerary to rest around the resort.  A ticket is required if you plan to go to Cirque Du Soleil’s La Nouba (which your Me and the Mouse agent can help you with), Disney Quest, or to go see a movie at the AMC 24.

2. How can I get to Disney Springs?

There is bus transportation to and from your Disney resort to Disney Springs.  If you are staying at: Port Orleans French Quarter, Port Orleans Riverside, Disney’s Old Key West Resort, or Saratoga Springs you may also choose to take a boat over to Disney Springs.  Guests staying at Disney’s Saratoga Springs Resort may also walk from their resort using the pedestrian bridge which takes you directly into the Market Place area. Staying on the Disney Property will make it easier to get to Disney Springs, but it is not required to stay on property. Disney Springs 101

3. If I drive my car to Disney Springs, how much will it cost to park?

There is no charge for parking in either parking structure or in the surface parking lots. However, if you choose to have the valet service park your car there is a cost of $20.

4. Can I use my dining plan at Disney Springs?

Yes! {One of the many reasons why we love Disney Springs!} Many of the dining locations accept the Disney Dining Plan!  If you are curious if a restaurant choice is on the dining plan ask your Me and the Mouse agent, or look on your My Disney Experience account!

5. In your opinion is it worth it to visit Disney Springs?

Yes! {Is this even a question?!} There has not been one Disney vacation where we haven’t made the trip to Disney Springs to walk around, shop, and enjoy the dining and entertainment! It is such a great place to relax without leaving the fun of Disney!!

Are you ready to take a trip to Walt Disney World and visit Disney Spring?! Contact a Me and The Mouse agent today! We would love to help plan your vacation!

Beth Rodgers

Travel Specialist

Returning this Summer with NEW Magic!

A few of the iconic Disneyland attractions will be returning to the park this summer! Disneyland Railroad and the Rivers of America will both reopen with new magic and fun! Take a look at the artistic rendering {courtesy of Walt Disney Imagineering} of the new north bank of the Rivers of America! It will feature a gorgeous new waterfront and an elevated trestle over which the classic Disneyland Railroad will travel. You will not want to miss out on this experience!Disneyland Railroad & Rivers of America

The Rivers of America will celebrate several famous rivers including the: Mississippi, Columbia, Missouri, Rio Grande, and Columbia Gorge! It will feature magnificent waterfalls and vegetation. The Big Thunder River Waterfall and Twin Sisters Waterfall will welcome five new, and incredible, waterfalls along the Rivers of America. Guests will be able to see these sights while on board the Mark Twain Riverboat, Sailing Ship Columbia and Davy Crockett Explorer Canoes!

However, if you don’t want to experience these gorgeous falls up close on the water, you can still see all of the beauty while aboard the Disneyland Railroad. The railroad with travel across the new and magnificent trestle. You will experience a breathtaking view of the new waterfalls {be sure to have your camera ready!}. Disneyland Railroad & Rivers of America

While there are lots of new additions to these classic rides, there are still some familiar aspects that will make you feel right at home. You will see several familiar faces along the Rivers of America as well as throwbacks to Frontierland’s past. The Indian Village will return, but will be in a new location. It will include a more prominently featured Shaman! He will tell the story of how the hummingbird taught the Indian chief to make a flute.

We are so excited to see these new changes to a few of our favorite classic rides. Disney has yet to announce the opening dates for these attractions. We will keep you posted as soon as we know!

Ready to head to Disneyland right now? Contact a Me and The Mouse agent today! We’d love to help take the stress from your vacation planning!

Woohoo!! Your cruise is booked but now you are wondering how you’re going to get to Port Canaveral. No worries – we’re here to help! It is highly recommended that you fly in at least one day prior to your cruise!  This may impact the means of transportation you chose. Here are a few options to consider.

Disney Cruise Line Transportation

Transportation to and from Port CanaveralDisney Cruise Line shuttles passengers from the airport (MCO) to the port. The cost of the ride is $35/person each way, however it only runs the day of embarkation and debarkation.

If you are flying in the night before and staying at a local hotel and are utilizing this option, I would suggest staying near the airport. The Hyatt Regency is located inside the airport and will be an easy elevator ride down to the bus. Otherwise, a hotel that provides shuttle service to and from the airport is also an easy option. Simply catch the shuttle back to the airport the morning of the cruise.

Renting a car

Some rental car companies have rental locations near the port. This brings a few options. You can either rent the car at the airport and park at the port or you can return the car to the rental location in Cocoa Beach and then pick up another vehicle on your return. The second option will save on parking fees, but will add an additional step since you will need to get the rental shuttle to get to and from the rental location to the port. It’s a simple step, but does add a little time.

Private Transfer

If you have 4 or more people in your party, your Me and The Mouse Travel Specialist will be able to arrange a private transfer company. It will be approximately the same cost as Disney transfers. The benefit of the private transfer company provides you flexibility to be picked up at a time that you want and arrive at the port at your convenience. Transportation to and from Port Canaveral

Also, if you fly in the night before, a private transfer company can pick you up at the airport and bring you to a hotel in Cocoa Beach. Your Me and The Mouse Travel Specialist will be able to help locate a hotel that provides a shuttle from the hotel to the port the morning of your cruise.

All Me and The Mouse Travel Specialists are highly trained! They would love to help you find the best transportation option for your cruise vacation. Ready to make the move to take a Disney Cruise? Contact a Me and The Mouse agent today! We’d LOVE to plan your dream Disney vacation!!

Janene Jaroscak

Travel Specialist

Learn all about The World of Avatar!

 

Alpha Centauri Expeditions {ACE} has made it possible for humans to explore Pandora.  Unique expeditions and breathtaking views are around every corner in the Valley of Mo’ara on Pandroa.

Pandora the World of Avatar - Na'vai River Journey

Pandora features floating mountains, gentle waterfalls, bioluminescent rainforest and amazing, flying creatures known as Banshees or “Ikran” by the Na’vi.  Stepping into the land of Mo’ara, guests are immediately transformed by the beauty of the flora that surrounds them.   The plant life is diverse in both color and size, as well as in purpose.  For example, Vein Pods act as sponges and help maintain stability in the environment.  Puffball Trees are important plants on Pandora for detoxifying the atmosphere.  Panopyra resemble Earth’s jellyfish and captures water and minerals from the dew and fog.  Guests will have the opportunity to interact with different elements in nature as well. For example, when you rub a native plant, the Flaska Reclinata, it releases its spores into the air.

Pandora the World of Avatar - Na'vai River Journey

There is so much to take in and enjoy as you explore Pandora.  A Na’vi-built drum circle, containing instruments, is available for guests to play.  Wilderness Explorers will find new challenges and badges to collect as they interact with the land in Pandora as well.  You may even encounter tour guides from Alpa Centauri Expeditions {ACE}, scientists from the Pandora Conservation Initiative {PCI}, or even a unique expat or two, who have opened a refreshing drink stand on Pandora {I recommend the Night Blossom}.

Pandora the World of Avatar - Na'vai River Journey

In the evenings, the land transforms into an even more spectacular scenery with bioluminescent plants radiating light throughout Pandora.   You’ll notice sights and sounds from nocturnal creatures as you walk the paths and explore the mountains of the Valley of Mo’ara.   Animal Kingdom Park has become a full day park with the addition of the Pandora- The World of Avatar, as well as new nighttime offerings.

Pandora the World of Avatar - Na'vai River Journey

 

If you are ready to take the expedition to Pandora, contact your Me and The Mouse Travel specialist to book your trip to Walt Disney World!

Tressa Krippel

Travel Specialist

Nestled in the Valley of the Mo’roa on the moon of Pandora, explorers are invited on a mystic journey down the Na’vi River.

Pandora the World of Avatar - Na'vai River Journey

At the water’s edge, explorers will board small reed boats to begin their journey.  As your travel begins, you are met by a Na’vi warrior, who grants you passage into the rainforest and your eyes are open the wonderment of Pandora.

Pandora the World of Avatar - Na'vai River Journey

A spectacular bioluminescent rainforest surrounds you as you discover exotic flora and the sounds of Pandoran creatures in the distance.   As the voyage continues, you hear music in the distance and encounter unique creatures, like viperwolf, who seem to be traveling down river with you as you in search of the Na’vi “Shaman of Songs”.

Pandora the World of Avatar - Na'vai River Journey

Finally, you see the Shaman holding a musical ceremony while playing an instrument and singing along.  Her music sends positive energy throughout the rainforest of Pandora. Pandora the World of Avatar - Na'vai River Journey

 

Na’vi River Journey is one of two new attractions in Pandora at Disney’s Animal Kingdom park.  The slow-moving boat ride is a family-friendly attraction and takes 4 1/2 minutes to complete the journey.  FastPass are available for this new attraction.  Guests with disabilities must transfer from wheelchairs/EVCs to experience the attraction.   Pandora the World of Avatar - Na'vai River Journey

 

Na’vi River Journey is a spectacular attraction that showcases the amazing technology that Disney posses in creating new, family-friendly attractions.  As you disembark your reed boat, you are awestruck with the beauty and spiritual connection between the Na’vi people and their environment.  Pandora the World of Avatar - Na'vai River Journey

Ready to journey to Pandora? Contact a Me and The Mouse agent today to book your trip! We’d love to help take the stress away!

 

Tressa Kripppel

Travel Specialist

Avatar Flight of PassageFlying on the back of a banshee is an important rite of passage for the Na’vi, and now visitors of Pandora: The World of Avatar have a chance to experience the thrill of this journey at Disney’s newest attraction, Avatar Flight of Passage at Animal Kingdom Park.

 

Deep in the heart of the Valley of Mo’ara, visitors can now climb atop a mountain banshee for a breathtaking, first-person flight over the moon’s amazing landscape, explore the bioluminescent forests, and soar by the Na’vi living among the moon’s beautiful flora.  This attraction will immerse your all your senses as you feel the breath of your banshee beneath you, smell the aroma of the foliage of the rainforest and feel the crisp, cool feel of the waters of Mo’ara.

Avatar Flight of Passage

The journey begins in the queue as guests begin an uphill trek towards the mountains floating above the valley.  You will pass over a land bridge, travel near waterfalls and pass by amazing flora unique to this moon.  The trail leads you to the entrance of a cave, where the Navi had recorded their history of flight with the great–winged banshees, or Ikran as the Na’vis call them.  Next, guests cross through the bioluminescent rainforest and enter the laboratory  where scientific experiments are in progress.   Visitors are now met by cast members who direct the first 16 visitors to their genetic matching room, where they are given a number, scanned and genetic material is sampled to connect them to personal avatar.  Once explorers are matched, they given 3-D glasses and move onto the flight room where they board “link chairs”.

Avatar Flight of Passage

Link chairs are single-seat simulators (like a motorcycle) that a guest must straddle.  Once positioned on their machine, leg supports that rest on the back of your calves will lock in place and a back support will rise up to secure each explorer on their machine.  I found the that link chair very comfortable and not convining as some had described.  Taller guests may find it difficult to position their feet in place to allow the leg supports to lock into place.  Both leg and back supports must be secure for guests to ride.  Once the ride begins, guests will experience an immersive flight that delivers a realistic sensation of riding a banshee breathing beneath them as the soar over Pandora taking in the breathtaking views, smelling the flora of the forests, feeling the splash of the water and wind in your face.

Avatar Flight of Passage

Avatar Flight of Passage is available as a FastPass option. Guests must be 44 inches or taller to ride.  Guests prone to motion sickness or have a fear of heights, may find this ride to be too intense as you will experience the sensation of diving, plunging and swooping throughout the attraction.  Due the popularity of this much anticipated attraction, we highly recommend choosing a FastPass for this ride at  Animal Kingdom Park.

Avatar Flight of Passage

Flight of Passage is a like no other attraction at Walt Disney World.  This immersive ride will take you on breath-taking journey over a land that will leave you wanting to explore again and again.

See More from the Flight of Passage!

 

Ready to book your trip to Pandora? Contact a Me and The Mouse agent today!

Tressa Krippel

Travel Specialist

Quick Service Dining at Pandora – The World of AVATAR

The Satuli Canteen is a the Quick Service Dining location in Pandora:  The World of Avatar.  It has a unique menu of healthy dishes to satisfy all travelers exploring the Valley of Mo’ara on Pandora.
Situated between the Flight of Passage and the Na’vi River Journey,  this former RDA (Resource Development Administration) mess hall is now a peaceful resting spot adorned with the art of the Na’vi and supplying travelers with all the comforts of home.  Travelers will find cuisine inspired by their journey through the Valley of Mo’ara.  Satuli Canteen is considered a fast-casual restaurant on the Quick Service Dining Plan. Our meals were served off a china bowls, reminiscent of flora of the natural habitat.  Guests will find silverware to dine with, as well as indoor and outdoor seating.  Self-serve drink stations are also available.

 

Pandora: The World of Avatar Quick Service RestaurantSince I do not have an adventuresome palette, I was hesitant that I would find a meal that I would enjoy.  I was pleasantly surprised to find multiple offerings for even the pickiest of diners.  The “Create Your Own Satu’li Bowl” seemed to be the most popular choice. Visitors first choose their PROTEIN, which include beef, chicken, fish or tofu.  Next, you choose your BASE (vegetable salad, potato hash, mixed whole grain and rice or Romaine and Kale salad).  Step 3 is to select your sauce:  charred onion chimichurri, black bean vinaigrette or creamy herb dressing.  I recommend the Creamy Herb Dressing.  The Steamed “Pods” Bao Buns were also very flavorful.  Guests will want to make room for “Ber’ri” (dessert) as the Chocolate Cake and Blueberry Cream Cheese Mousse were both highlights of this dining adventure. Pandora: The World of Avatar Quick Service RestaurantPandora: The World of Avatar Quick Service Restaurant

 


For young guests traveling the valley, there’s an option of grilled chicken or beef, fish or tofu with greens or rice; cheese quesadilla, a hot dog wrapped in Parker House dough; or a steamed “pod” (cheeseburger bao bun). 

Pandora: The World of Avatar Quick Service Restaurant

Satuli Canteen is the first fast-casual restaurant to offer Mobile Order, a new convenient option to order and pay for meals on-the-go within the My Disney Experience app.  Guests will be able to bypass the queue to order when they arrive at the restaurant. Using the app, guests can select menu items, customize their order and pre-pay for their meal with a credit card. When they arrive at the restaurant they will tap an “I’m here” button in the app, which will notify the kitchen to prepare the meal. Guests will be notified through the app to pick up their meal at a specific window.   While Satu’li Canteen is on the Disney Dining Plan, the Mobile Order only accepts credit card payments at this time. Pandora: The World of Avatar Quick Service Restaurant

 

Satuli Canteen is one of the best overall counter service restaurants at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. With a great variety of options allowing guests to customize their dishes, there is something for everyone at this a former RDA commissary.

Are you ready to experience Pandora for yourself? Contact a Me and The Mouse agent today to book your next trip!

 

 

Tressa Krippel

Travel Specialist

 

We’re celebrating Fun Fridays at Me and The Mouse with a collection of our favorite PhotoPass moments. We love the PhotoPass services! They are offered at Disney World, Disneyland, Aulani, and ESPN’s Wide World of Sports. If you didn’t know, PhotoPass allows you to preserve your magical Disney vacation. This special service provides you with professional photography throughout the different Disney destinations. We love that we don’t have to lug around a big camera! Plus, it also helps us have peace of mind that we won’t lose our new expensive camera! PhotoPass photographers are strategically placed throughout the Disney Destinations to not miss a moment of your fun. Take a look at the fun Me and The Mouse agents have had while using the PhotoPass!

If you’re considering using the PhotoPass services that are throughout Walt Disney World, we highly recommend purchasing the Memory Maker Package. If you don’t purchase this package, you will have to pay a decent charge for each photo. The great thing about the package is that once you purchase it, you can download as many pictures as you’d like! This is especially great if its your first time visiting, your celebrating something special on a trip, you have a young child and you want to capture every moment, or like we mention before you want to have tons of pictures, but you don’t want to carry an expensive camera around all day.

To add the Memory Maker Package on to your Disney Destination package, contact a Me and The Mouse agent today!

Now, enjoy some of our fun photos!!

Disney Destination PhotoPassThe Beast - Disney Destination PhotoPassDisney Destination PhotoPassDisney Destination PhotoPassTinker bell - Disney Destination PhotoPassDisney Destination PhotoPass

I am not a runner…at all…but that didn’t stop me from joining friends in my first runDisney marathon weekend! Whether you are up every morning for that morning run, or if you simply want to experience a runDisney event, here are several reasons to love runDisney races!

The Challenge!

Hopefully all races are a challenge no matter your level of experience. For this girl, I’ll admit I didn’t train nearly enough knowing what I do now. Disney recommends a pace time of 15 minutes or under per mile whether you run or walk {or a combination of both}. “Balloon Ladies” {and sometimes Balloon Men!} keep the pace from the back and encourage you to keep going. If you fall behind, you will eventually get picked up and taken to the finish. I was able to stay ahead of them, but I saw faces of defeat on those who were not so lucky. The race itself is challenging, and there are so many people who attend these events who have personal challenges they are overcoming. My motto is simple –  Do your best and have fun!

Train with Jeff Galloway!  https://www.rundisney.com/training/running/

The Camaraderie!

It’s amazing all the people you will meet, everyone cheering each other on, and the excitement in the corrals and along the route. You have the opportunity to sit and chat with people from all over the world as you wait for your corral to be released for the race. You’ll meet plenty of first-timers as well as marathon pros who have been running the circuits for years.

For Your Health!

Whether you walk, run, crawl,….it doesn’t matter! Get out in the fresh air and get some exercise in! It does your body and your brain good! If you have any health concerns, consult your doctor prior to beginning training. Use a Fitbit or smart watch to monitor heart rate and have fun watching that step counter tick away!

The Outfits! runDisney event for Non-Runners!

It’s fun to see all the people who come dressed as Disney characters, Disney foods, or maybe even as an attraction! That’s a huge part of the fun – people get extremely creative and go all out which also makes for fun photos!

The Bling!

Because really…..don’t we all want that medal at the end? And the DISNEY medals? I’ve got my eyes on a Star Wars event just for that!

runDisney event for Non-Runners!The fun characters you’ll get to meet along the way!

I have always loved meeting Disney characters, and at a runDisney event, you’ll run into characters that aren’t often seen in the parks. For the 2016 Food & Wine race, we got to meet Remy and Emil from Ratatouille!

The After-Party!

If you still have energy the night of the big race, Disney throws a fun after-party which includes more characters and entertainment!

And let’s not forget…The Destination!

Disney races are held at Walt Disney World in Florida, the Disneyland Resort in California, on Castaway Cay in the Bahamas during Bahamian and Caribbean Disney cruises, and even at Disneyland Paris!


These are all great reasons to participate in a runDisney event, and I did absolutely love my weekend. I did my best and had a blast!

For upcoming events, check the official runDisney website!  https://www.rundisney.com/

 

 

Nancy Wideman

Travel Specialist

You won’t want to miss out on this incredible resort!

Disney’s Copper Creek Villas at Wilderness LodgeI am so excited about Disney’s villas Copper Creek at the Wilderness Lodge Resort.  They are brand new and beautiful!  Rooms ranges from deluxe studios, one to three bedroom villas, and 26 private waterfront bungalows. If you’re looking to add some extra magic on your next Disney World vacation, this right up your alley!

One great thing about Copper Creek is that they are able to accommodate nearly any size family! The deluxe studio and one-bedroom villa can accommodate up to four guests. The two bedroom can sleep up to eight guests and the three-bedroom grand villa can accommodate up to twelve guests. These spaces will make you feel right at home. All of the villas come with a fully equipped kitchen, stacked washer and dryer, and jetted tub. It’s perfect for the whole family!Disney’s Copper Creek Villas at Wilderness Lodge

Want to spend some time around the resort? You won’t be disappointed! Guests can enjoy two heated picturesque pools that include a 67-foot waterslide and both cold and hot whirlpool spas.  Children can also have a fun exploring the aquatic play area. Nearby is Geyer Point Bar and Grill which is an open-air lounge overlooking the bay. Disney’s Copper Creek Villas at Wilderness LodgeDisney’s Copper Creek Villas at Wilderness Lodge

Copper Creek also offers a special spa-like oasis of its own.  Salon by the Springs are where guest can get pampered with a manicure, pedicure, and facial.

The perks of staying at Copper Creek don’t stop there! All Copper Creek guests will still be allowed to use all the amazing amenities at the Wilderness Lodge! This includes bike and boat rentals, jogging trails, movies under the stars, campfires, and the use of the health club. It’s like getting two resort experiences in one!

If you have any questions or are ready to book your trip to Copper Creek contact a Me and The Mouse agent today! We’d love to help plan your dream Disney vacation!

Elizabeth Hollman

Agency Owner & Travel Specialist