I am a true believer in loyalty points whether it is a credit card with rewards, airline frequent flyer miles, or a store loyalty program, and the Chase Disney Visa is no exception.

First, have fun selecting one of several cute Disney designs for your new card!  Choose a classic Disney character, like Sorcerer Mickey, Cinderella’s Castle, or a favorite Star Wars character.

Next, select a card with or without an annual fee. For a card with no annual fee, you can receive 1% in Disney Rewards Dollars on all your purchases. Upgrade your card to one with a $49 annual fee, and you can earn 2% in Disney Rewards Dollars on purchases at gas stations, grocery stores, restaurants, and most Disney locations; earn 1% in Rewards Dollars on all other card purchases.

By using this as your primary card for all your purchases, you will be surprised how quickly the points add up! It is possible to pay for a Disney vacation in Rewards Dollars by simply putting all purchases onto the card (and paying off monthly so as not to accrue interest) and save up the Rewards Dollars. You can use Rewards Dollars to pay for a Disney World or Disneyland resort vacation, park tickets, a Disney cruise, and even to use while shopping and dining around the parks.

Other great perks of the card:

  • Certain Disney vacation purchases can be financed for six months with zero interest. These will be separated on your monthly statement.
  • In the parks, you can save up to 10% on select dining locations or merchandise purchases when you use your Disney Visa with a minimum purchase.
  • As an extra incentive, you might receive a statement credit with a minimum purchase on the card during the first few months from account opening.
  • Enjoy special cardholder character Meet and Greets in both Epcot and Hollywood Studios.
  • Receive special offers for booking a Disney World or Disneyland vacation package.
  • and more!

If you use a credit card, you should be using it to your advantage by earning rewards for purchases you are already making.

* Offers and conditions may change without notice. Visit Chase Disney for more details.   

Nancy Wideman

Travel Specialist

 

“This will be so much fun”, “Let’s see if my sisters, brother and parents want to go too.”  Planning a group trip can be so exciting and at the same time overwhelming!  Whether you are taking your larger than “average” immediate family, friends, or a multi-generational Disney trip I have some great tips that will help in experiencing Disney as a large group.  

Timing

When planning to go to Disney as a large group I try to go during a discounted or off peak travel time (if you have any flexibility in your travel dates).  Going during an off peak travel time can help save  money as well as help you go during a less busy time of the year.  Some off peak travel times to consider include:

-Mid January – mid February

-First 3 weeks in May

-Late August and September

-First 2 weeks in November and First 2 weeks in December

The downside of going during an off peak travel time is that this may be the time Disney uses to do refurbishment work on some attractions.  You can talk with your Me and the Mouse Travel Specialist to inquire about any attraction closures during your travel dates.

Resorts

I prefer to stay on property.  I love that I am close to everything and if one of the little ones in our family needs to go back and take a mid-afternoon nap we can do that without any inconvenience.  Disney has many resorts that will accommodate families of all sizes.  If you have a child the age of 2 and under,  a pack and play can be requested, and they are not counted in the max number of individuals in the room.

If staying in multiple rooms, requests can be made for rooms near each other or rooms that are adjoined by a door.  Disney does their best to honor requests but they are not guaranteed.  

Another benefit to staying on Disney property is that when you fly into Orlando International Airport you can take advantage of Disney’s Magical Express transportation to and from the airport.  For more information on all the benefits of Disney’s on-site transportation and how it would benefit your group click the link.

Dining

Disney has different dining plans for nearly every budget and taste.  A perk of the dining plan is that you will get a discount on the meals by pre-purchasing the dining plan versus paying for your meal the day of service.  I also like how adding the dining plan onto your package gives it an all-inclusive feel.  

When traveling as a large group it is important to make your dining reservations as close to the 180 day mark as possible!  You may need to be flexible with your seating preference as some restaurants may need to split your group between different tables.  

Make sure to show up early to your dining reservations.  Since you are dining as a large party you want to give yourself plenty of time to get get where you need to go.  

Also, keep in mind that when you are dining with a party of 6 or more gratuity is automatically added onto your bill.  

Memory Maker

If this is a large group trip to Disney I highly recommend getting the Memory Maker Photo package.  More often than not these are once in a lifetime trips and by adding the Memory Maker Photo Package you will have wonderful photos, with everyone in them, to remember your trip!  When going in a large group only one person needs to purchase the Memory Maker  but everyone in the group can get linked via the My Disney Experience app and use the Memory Maker.  

Be Flexible but Organized

When you are traveling with a large group unpredictable things can happen; kids need naps, some in your group won’t like certain rides, others may want to go back to a different park.  It is very important to talk before you go about your expectations.  Are you expecting that all of you will do everything together?  Are you okay with splitting up and meeting for meals or rides that you have a fastpass for?  If you are splitting up make sure you are very specific on where and when you are going to meet up.  Also, if splitting up make sure everyone has a cell phone and a cell phone portable charger  to help in the event you need to change plans.

Your Me and the Mouse travel specialist will be able to help in creating an itinerary that will best benefit your group.

Fastpasses

I touched on fastpasses above but make sure to pre-pick out your fastpasses.  Fastpasses can be picked out 60 days before you travel if you are staying on Disney property.  If you are staying off  Disney property they may be chosen 30 days before you go to Disney.  You are able to split up fastpasses so if some in your group would prefer to use their fastpass allocation on thrill rides and others would prefer a slower pace that can be done!  

My Disney Experience App  

Make sure those in your group that have a smart phone all download the My Disney Experience App.  This app will link all of your Disney vacation plans into one place.   This app will allow you to make and see your dining plans, fastpass choices, maps of the theme parks, wait times for rides, and more!  Your Me and the Mouse Travel Specialist can help so that you all are linked, and will be able to see everyone’s plans!

So to review it is important to be flexible in your days but also very organized taking advantage of Disney’s fastpasses and My Disney Experience app.  Your travel specialist will be a wealth of information with putting all your pieces together for your group’s vacation needs!

Beth Rodgers

Travel Specialist

 

  

In the last 40 years, Walt Disney World has been the reason that millions of families visit Orlando each year.  However, with the full Harry Potter experience and so many additions to Universal Orlando, many families want to do both, but don’t know where to start.  This can get very expensive and overwhelming if you haven’t done your research.

One of the questions I get asked most is “how much time do I need at Universal?”  Several factors do come into play here, but I generally recommend 3:1.  For people doing three days at Disney, add 1 day at Universal and for six days at Disney, add 2 days at Universal.  Of course recommendations can change based on your family’s individual preferences, but it is certainly a good place to start.

Another question asked frequently is “should we get tickets only or purchase a Universal package as an add on?” If you are planning one day at Universal, it might make the most financial sense to purchase the one-day ticket and head to Universal for the day.  However, if you are more concerned about time and getting more accomplished during the day, end your Disney vacation and head over to a Universal resort hotel.  To really increase your time efficiency, stay at a Universal resort that offers the Unlimited Express Pass.  If you are planning two or more days at Universal, definitely stay onsite at Universal.   With a hotel package, you will be granted early access to the parks and be right in the center of the action, definitely getting more value out of the experience.

What about transfers? There are several ways to get to Universal from your Walt Disney World resort hotel.  If you are just going to be a one-day guest at Universal, ask your Me and the Mouse Travel Specialist about reserving a private car.  This will not only save you a ton of time, but the personalized car gives you VIP access with a drop off point very close to the Universal entrance.  Without having to pay to park, this option will most likely save you money as well.  If you are doing a split stay with a Universal hotel package, you are eligible for Take 2 Transfers which will provide your family pickup from your Walt Disney World Resort Hotel to your Universal hotel and back to Orlando International Airport.  If you choose to enjoy the Universal part of your vacation first, you will be picked up from Orlando International Airport, taken to your Universal hotel and then on to your Walt Disney World Resort.  Either way, it is incredibly convenient and a huge time-saver.

The split-stay is a great way to make all the Mickey-lovers and Potter-obsessed people in your family totally happy with their Orlando vacation.  Your Me and the Mouse Travel Specialist will take all of the intimidation out of this type of experience so contact him or her today!

Julie Stewart

Travel Specialist

 

When planning Disney World vacations I’m asked many questions. What is the Magical Express? How do I use my MagicBands? Where can I eat dinner with the Princesses? And then there is the question that usually leads to a lot more questions. What is the FastPass?

So what is a FastPass? Well, as I like to say it’s a magical way you can get more out of your Disney Vacation by reserving a time for your favorite attraction, show or character greeting and bypassing the standby line. That is a simple answer to a somewhat complex thing. Today, I will share with you the basics of the FastPass+. I must note that this a basic overview of FastPass+. To get the most out of this free time saving service Disney offers it is best to have a conversation with your Me and the Mouse Travel Specialist. The one thing we all have in common on this team is getting the most out of your Disney vacation and FastPass+ definitely will help do that!

FastPass+ is a free service that allows guests an opportunity to reserve a time to many of the attractions, shows and character greetings. FastPass+ is available to both Disney guests staying at a Disney Resort and for those not. For this blog we will make the assumptions all guests are staying at a Disney Resort. FastPass+ service is, in my opinion better for those staying on property.

Here is how it works.

  • You can begin making your FastPass+ reservation at 7:00 a.m. Eastern Time 60 days in advance of your visit.
  • To make a reservation in advance of your trip either log onto your My Disney Experience mobile app or on the website.
  • Once logged on you can select up to three FastPass+ experiences you would like for the park you are visiting on that day. You will be guided through your options and times and simply select what you would like. For example, at the Magic Kingdom you could visit Mickey Mouse at 10 a.m. and ride Space Mountain at noon and reserve a spot for the fireworks at 10 p.m.
  • You can make selections for each day you have tickets on your vacation.
  • The FastPass+ selections are automatically loaded onto your MagicBand.
  • Once you arrive at the park a Cast Member scans your MagicBand at the attraction, show or character greeting at your designated time and you are in.
  • You can make changes to your selections in advance or even the day of by logging onto your My Disney Experience mobile app.

So that is a basic understanding of how it works. Like I said there are many other features and little secrets to get even more out of this amazing free service. To find out more of the advance features of FastPass+ contact your Me and the Mouse Travel Specialists. They will help you by explaining how to book additional FastPasses once you’ve used yours for the day, what rides you should try to get a FastPass for and much more!

Ryan Gross

Travel Specialist

 

 

As we have experienced with our Me and The Mouse clients, once you have experienced a Disney Cruise, you cannot wait to start planning your next one. Disney has made the process both easy and with a cost savings by starting the booking process while you are onboard. The process is very simple:

  1. By visiting the Future Cruise Desk, you can book a specific date with an applicable deposit or you can book a placeholder cruise for $250. The placeholder reservation can be moved to another cruise with a sailing date within 24 months from your booking of the placeholder.
  2. The $250 for the placeholder deposit will be applied to your deposit when moved to a set date.
  3. When you move your placeholder to a cruise of 7 + nights or longer, you are only required to place 10% of the cruise cost as the deposit (typically, 20% is required as a deposit).
  4. You will receive 10% off your future cruise when you transfer the placeholder to an actual sailing. Concierge level excluded.
  5. Disney also offers an onboard credit on your future cruise that can be used toward any charges you will have on your next cruise, such as excursions, purchases at the gift shop, and/or drinks. For sailings 7 + days, it will be $200. For sailings 6 days and less, your onboard credit will be $100.
  6. If you decide you are not able to use the placeholder, the $250 is refundable.

Please note, there are restrictions such as blackout dates and the benefit cannot be combined with any other offers. The onboard booking benefit is not valid on concierge levels rooms or VGT, OGT or IGT discounted rooms or 2 night cruises.

Happy sailing!!

Janene Jaroscak

Travel Specialist

 

 

Looking for something special for a diehard Harry Potter fan? Well, Celebrating Harry Potter at Universal Orlando Resort is just what you’ve been wanting. You can be part of a magical 3 day event presented by Warner Bros. and Universal Orlando Resort.

The event takes part January 26 to January 28, 2018. There’s a lot to see and do in this action packed 3 day event! Not only is there a Q&A session with 5 actors/actresses from the Harry Potter movies, but you’ll be able to learn some wand combat skills, hear from 2 graphic designers for the films, learn special effects secrets, and get sorted by the sorting hat. All of these activities and more will take place at both parks, so you’ll need to make sure you have a park to park ticket.

The best way to make sure you get the most of this 3 day event is the A Celebration of Harry Potter Premium Vacation Package. This package includes on-site hotel accommodations, park to park tickets, and guaranteed access to select event activities. It includes an exclusive autograph and photo session with select film talent, an evening reception at the Harry Potter Expo, breakfast at the Three Broomsticks, exclusive Evening at The Wizarding World of Harry Potter with desserts and one complimentary Butterbeer, not to mention a lot of other special inclusions.

By booking A Celebration of Harry Potter Vacation Package, you’re allowed early access to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. These sections of the parks will open an hour earlier to guests staying on property. With the extra hour, you’ll be able to access Hogsmeade and Diagon Alley with reduced crowd levels. Set against the backdrop of Universal Orlando’s amazing theme parks, you’ll explore The Wizarding World of Harry Potter™ – Hogsmeade™ at Universal’s Islands Of Adventure™ and Diagon Alley™ at Universal Studios Florida™. Experience Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey™, Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts™, and other thrilling attractions. Ride the Hogwarts™ Express* and travel between King’s Cross Station in Universal Studios and Hogsmeade™ Station in Islands of Adventure.

This is definitely on a must do list for a Harry Potter fanatic! There are many more experiences and magic that will happen over these 3 days than what’s mentioned above. We’d be happy to let you know of all of the special things that will be happening from Jan 26th to the 28th. Be sure to contact your Me and The Mouse Travel Specialist today!

Leigh Miller

Travel Specialist

 

In this month’s blog I’ll be wrapping up creative ways to save for Disney, and with all that Christmas shopping, these tips are sure to come in handy! My first recommendation is using affiliate shopping apps, like Ebates and Ibotta, which give you money back on the purchases you already make by directing you to their sites, before or after your purchase. With Ebates, you head to their website first, and then find the store where you want to shop. It will link you to that store’s website and also tell you what percentage cash back you’ll be getting for that purchase. Once you make your purchase, it will automatically deposit your rebate into your Ebates bank. You’ll then get paid once a quarter via check. Since starting Ebates, I’ve already received $365 back! I’ve been doing it for a year and haven’t found a “catch” yet! Ibotta is a similar concept to Ebates, but it provides rebates on brand-specific groceries at places you normally shop, like Costco, Publix and Walmart. A lot of times they also have rebates for “any item” and general items as well, like milk, bread and fruit, so after a shopping trip, check out the app to see what rebates you can get on your purchases. After you have checked off your qualifying purchase, upload your receipt to Ibotta. Once your purchase is reviewed and accepted, it will show up in your Ibotta bank, which you can then cash out after $20.

The next big way to save is to buy discounted gift cards. Various retailers like Sam’s, Target and even Best Buy have deals that would allow you to purchase Disney gift cards at discounted rates, ranging from 5% off, up to 15% off, depending on the deal. This equals HUGE savings for a cruise or a week-long trip.

Another trick is to check out “used” gift card sites, like Raise. If you haven’t heard of Raise, they basically buy gift cards from customers who do not have a need for that particular gift card brand, at a discounted rate. While Disney gift cards can be hard to come by on these sites, there are thousands of other brands on items you use every day like Starbucks, Home Depot or Marshall’s, which make your dollar stretch a little farther so you can save up for that Disney trip in no time. And as a bonus, Raise is on Ebates so you can get an extra 1% off of your purchase when you start your virtual shopping trip on Ebates. If you are going to try to purchase these types of gift cards, make sure you use sites that have a guarantee, like Raise, which offers a year-long guarantee on their gift cards so you don’t have to worry about what you are buying.

I hope you have found these tips helpful and make sure to keep an eye on the Me and the Mouse Facebook page for additional “tips and tricks” to save for your Disney vacation!

Jen Morrison

Travel Specialist

 

When designing the perfect vacation package, there are a lot of questions to ask yourself? What resort would we like to stay at? Base tickets or Hopper tickets? Dining plan or no Dining plan? These are all important questions that your Me and The Mouse Travel specialist is ready to help you navigate and answer as we build a tailored vacation package for YOUR family.

Is the Disney Dining Plan worth adding to my vacation package? What’s included in the Dining Plan? Do we have to order from a select few entrees? These are just are a few questions about the Disney Dining Plan that we are asked from our clients.

YES!!! The Disney Dining Plans is worth it. With over 200 restaurants on property that accept the Disney Dining plan, you will find a wide variety of dining options on the menus at restaurants across the parks, resort properties and Disney Springs. Your dining credits are available from the moment you check-in to your Disney resort and are applicable until midnight of the night you check-out. This flexible plan allows guests options in using their dining credits.

The Disney Dining Plan can actually SAVE you money. In fact, it is about a 15-20% savings on the Disney Dining Plan and about 20-25% on the Deluxe Dining Plan. My family was recently on vacation at Walt Disney World and this is an example of one day’s dining for 1 adult.

Pecos Bill’s Tall Tale Inn and Cafe – $18.00 (entree and drink)

Snack (Dole Whip) – $5.00

Character Dinner at Chef Mickey’s – $60.00

Snack (The “Plaza” Ice Cream Sundae) -$6.00

Total Cost – $89

With the 2018 Disney Dining Plan (Disney’s most popular dining plan), you receive 1 table service restaurant, 1 counter service restaurant and 2 snacks per person for each night’s stay at your Walt Disney World resort. In addition, NEW for 2018 guests have several new beverage options available including non-alcoholic specialty beverages and, for Guests 21 and older, beer, wine and cocktails with their meal. The cost of the day’s worth of dining on the Disney Dining Plan would be around $70.00!!!

Whether your a family who is “on the go” and doesn’t want to be “too scheduled” with your day, a family that enjoys adding character meals to their itinerary to get that extra one on one time with multiple Disney characters, or a couple looking to experience the amazing Signature Dining experiences that Disney offers its guests, there is a Disney Dining Plan for you! Your Me and The Mouse Travel Specialist will work with you to determine which dining plan (Quick, Disney or Deluxe) is the perfect fit for your Disney vacation.

If you are like my family, you like having the details of your vacation taken care of. Adding a Disney Dining Plan allows you to save money, as well as lets everyone choose exactly what they want to eat without having to discuss: “How many drinks are we buying? Can I have dessert?” With the Disney Dining Plan, the details are already taken care of for you.

We love the ease and money savings that the Disney Dining plans add to a resort guests stay at Walt Disney World. Let your Me and The Mouse Travel Specialist know that you want to include the a Disney Dining Plan to your resort vacation package.

2018 DISNEY DINING PLAN PRICING

*All Disney Dining Plans include a Resort Refillable Mug ($18.00 value) for each guest

**Guests 2 years old or younger do not have to be on a Dining Plan, but are welcome to share a meal with another family member.

Per Adult, Per Night Per Child, Per Night

(ages 10 years and older) (children ages 3-9 years old)

Quick Service Dining: $53 $22

Disney Dining Plan: $76 $26

Deluxe Dining Plan: $116 $40

Any other questions? Contact your Me and The Mouse agent!

Tressa Krippel

Travel Specialist

 

Want to relive the time you rode the Hulk? Do you want to forever keep the moment you posed with a dinosaur? Consider adding My Universal Photos to your Universal package. I purchased this package on my last Universal trip and I absolutely loved all of the memories I get to keep forever. Here’s what you need to know:

Where do you purchase My Universal Photos? There are a few different ways to purchase My Universal Photos. My first recommendation would be to mention your interest to your Me and the Mouse Travel Specialist. He or she can add it to your package at the time of purchase for the best price. If you forget to add it early, there are several kiosks located throughout Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure that will add the photo package. Once purchased, you will receive a lanyard and a card that will be scanned at all photo locations to save your images.

Where can we have our photos taken? Universal photographers and photo stations are located through Universal Studios, Islands of Adventure and Volcano Bay. Character Meet and Greets like Transformers, Spider Man and Shrek are all photo locations, as well as the Raptor meet and greet in Islands of Adventure. There are also several areas within the parks with a timed, automated camera. I loved the ones at Volcano Bay! However, my absolute favorite moments are the ones you can’t capture yourself. The on-ride photos at Rip Ride Rockit, Hulk and Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey were a family favorite for us.

How much is it to add the photo package? There are two different options: a one-day pass is priced at $69.99 plus tax and the three-day pass is priced at $89.99 plus tax if purchased ahead of time. With the package, you get unlimited downloads of all of your photos, view and share through the Amazing Photos app, 1 free 4×6 and 5×7 printed photos as well as discounts on any other prints or photo products. It is definitely a great value!

For any questions regarding your Universal Orlando Vacation or to add My Universal Photos to your package, please speak to your Me and the Mouse Travel Specialist.

Julie Stewart

Travel Specialist

 

It’s finally here! You’ve been waiting in line for the last 50 minutes to meet the man himself, Mickey Mouse! Your 4-year-old has been talking about this moment since the trip countdown started. You have your phone ready to video the reaction on her face and then you realize…you only have 3% left of battery life.

Now what? Hopefully you at least purchased the Memory Maker package to capture the still shots of the moment, but you really were looking forward to watching her videoed reaction with her grandparents when you returned home.

What went wrong? You had the phone fully charged before leaving your room, you took a few pictures walking into the park, took a short video of the morning show and afternoon parade, posted pictures to Facebook while waiting in line and reorganized some of your FastPasses on the My Disney Experience app. All of these things can cause the battery life to fall…fast.

The resolution is simple, pack a portable phone charger before you go. There are many out there, so you may need to research which one will work best for you.

If you are already there and forgot to get one before leaving, Disney still has your needs covered. Throughout the parks and the resorts, they have FuelRod stations. There are some very positive things about these FuelRod chargers:

  • You can purchase them on property if you underestimated your need to have a portable charger.
  • If you use the FuelRod charger in the park and you drain it, you can easily swap it out at another station for a fully charged one at no cost.
  • If you choose to keep the same one, it is fully rechargeable with a USB adapter.
  • They come with an adapter plug for both an Android and iPhone.

If you know you will benefit from the ease of swapping dead chargers for fully recharged ones, you may want to consider purchasing a FuelRod before you travel. In Disney, the FuelRods currently sell for $30 each. Online, these chargers start at $20 (with a $5 delivery charge **pricing may vary at some locations). So, if you wanted to get a couple for the guests in your group, you are paying $45 versus $60 in the park. It is a great option to save some money.

Although we would all love to be able to put our phones away on vacation, the functionality of a phone is ideal depending on your needs. Whether you want to capture candid photos, videos, vlog, or use the My Disney Experience app while there, a phone’s functions are a necessity to fulfill those needs. It is best to be prepared from the start to alleviate any stress something as simple as a dead phone could cause.

Megan Thompson

Travel Specialist