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

 

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

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

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

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

 

 

I’ve Booked My Disney Cruise…Now What?

Keeping the excitement of a future cruise – especially one that is over a year away – can be difficult unless you are sailing with Disney!  Once you have booked your cruise with Me and the Mouse Travel, here are some things to do or consider.

1. Join the cruise Facebook group. 

Each Disney cruise has a Facebook group organized by an individual or group of individuals on the sailing, usually a DCL veteran.  In the Facebook search toolbar, type the name of your ship and year of your cruise i.e. Disney Wonder 2017, and you should be able to locate the group.  Groups are typically “closed” and a request to join is necessary.  It is a great way to get to know your fellow Guests, and many groups schedule a group meet-up or other private events on board.  It also serves as a wonderful resource to ask questions.

2. Join a Fish Extender or Secret Mickey group. 

Within each Facebook cruise group, an individual coordinates a gift exchange program.  Guests sign up and provide family name, cabin number, and additional information.  Many gifts are homemade and personalized, and you receive a set number of cabins to gift while you receive gifts from your group of cabins.  The Secret Mickey exchange is similar to Secret Santa, and you exchange with only one other cabin.  The recipients do not know who is giving the gifts until the end of the cruise or even after returning home.

 

3. Watch videos. 

Official and unofficial Disney Cruise Line videos can be found on YouTube to help keep you excited and see adventures posted by other Guests.
What to Do Before Your Disney Cruise

 

4. Download the DCL Navigator app. 

While on board, the app will provide activity schedules, ship information and maps, dining room menus, free texting capability with other guests or groups, and more.  At home, a countdown clock is visible anytime you open the app once you enter your sail date.  Visit the iTunes or Google Play store to download the app for free.  A note about the messaging capability:  Guests do not share personal information.  Guests provide a designated chat number to other guests they want to be able to message.  Even if the chat number is shared, no personal information is provided to the recipient.  Parents have the capability of granting messaging access to children.

 

5. Schedule a character call.

Each reservation gets the opportunity to have a generic pre-cruise character call.  These are great to use for surprising kids with the trip.
What to Do Before Your Disney Cruise

 

6. Review Personal Navigators from similar sailings. 

You can find Personal Navigators {daily activity schedule} from previous cruises here.  The more recent the sail date, the less the activity schedule changes.  These serve as a great resource for advance planning.

 

7. Submit dining room requests. 

If you would like to be in a specific dining room on a certain night, you can have your Me and The Mouse agent submit your request to DCL.  If you have severe food allergies, those can also be submitted in advance.

 

8. Book onboard activities and shore excursions. 

Each Guest has an individual booking window depending on their frequent cruise club status.  Click here to calculate your window.  Booking opens at midnight Eastern, so adjust accordingly to where you are located.  Any changes that are needed can be made until approximately three days before sailing without cancellation fees, depending on the item or excursion reserved.
What to Do Before Your Disney Cruise

 

9. Complete your online check-in. 

You can complete this up to two days prior to sailing.  Have your travel itinerary, passports {if applicable}, and credit card ready.  Many people like to complete check-in when it opens at the same time as the booking window in order to get the earliest port arrival time possible.

What to Do Before Your Disney Cruise

 

10. Review DCL gifts and photo opportunities available. 

Visit disneycruise.com and you can see the gifts available for purchase that can be delivered to your cabin or someone else’s cabin.  You can also make advance photo purchases, which offer savings versus while on board.

Don’t Forget: Pack and complete final preparations. 

Your Me and The Mouse agent will supply you with a packing list before you set sail.  If applicable, be sure to check in for your flight in advance and allow plenty of time to get to your airport.

 

You’re now ready to set sail!

Jenniffer Sheldon
Guest Contributor || Disney Cruise Platinum Guest

If you’re a craft loving, DIY’er like me a fun way to add some magic to your approaching Disney vacation is to make your own Disney lanyard.  These lanyards can be used for multiple things on your Disney vacation:

  • As a pin trading lanyard (click hyperlink to learn about Disney pin trading)
  • To hold your park tickets if you don’t have magic bands
  • To hold a photo pass card

 

Supplies Needed:

  • Your Favorite Disney RibbonFun DIY Disney Lanyard
  • Scissors
  • Big Clasps
  • Fabric Velcro Tabs (if you want pull away lanyards)
  • Clear Nail Polish or No Fray Check
  • Sewing Machine, Hot Glue Gun, or Thread and Needle
  • Pins
  • Name Tag Holder

Step One:

Go pick out your supplies.  I found super cute Disney ribbon at: JoAnne Fabrics (best selection), Wal-Mart, Michaels, and Hobby Lobby.

I found big clasps in the Jewelry making section of my local JoAnne fabrics but I am sure each of the craft stores have them.

Fray check and Velcro tabs can be located at craft stores or Wal-Mart. The plastic name tag holders can be found easily at Staples or Amazon.com.

Fun DIY Disney Lanyard Fun DIY Disney Lanyard Fun DIY Disney Lanyard

Step Two:

Measure how long you would like the lanyard (I usually cut mine at 36”).

Optional Step: I like to make tear away lanyards for safety.  Match up the two ends you cut and then cut the opposite end so that you have one ribbon in each hand that are the same length. If you decided to do this optional step you will now add Velcro tabs to the ends you just cut.

Step Three:

So that the ribbon does not fray you will now use the clear nail polish or the Fray check on each of the cut end of the ribbon. Let the liquid dry before moving on to step four.

Step Four:

After the Fray Check has dried now is the time to add the clasp.  To do this I’ve found it best to put the lanyard on so that you can make sure it lays right when it is worn.  Once you have verified there are no twists, take it off.  Holding the end that the clasp is going on you will put both ends together and fold it about ½”.  If you are using hot glue you will want to glue the fold.  At this point you will slide the clasp on and then make another fold about 1” over.  Then pin the fold in place.  If you are using hot glue you will again glue the fold (I also recommend putting in a few stitches just to make sure it holds).

Fun DIY Disney Lanyard Fun DIY Disney Lanyard Fun DIY Disney Lanyard

I used a sewing machine and that made it simple to sew the folds holding the clasp in place!  You then add the clear plastic name tag if you choose to use one and your lanyard is all ready for your Disney vacation!

Finish the lanyard and ready to go on your next Disney vacation? Contact a Me and The Mouse agent today!

Fun DIY Disney Lanyard

Beth Rodgers

Travel Specialist

 

Summer 2018 Itineraries
Book Now!

Disney Cruise Line is offering some amazing destinations and experiences in 2018. DCL will be offering new itineraries and new ports, in summer 2018. For the first-time, they will offer destinations to Italy and Ireland. Disney Cruise Line offers incredible tours of Europe and special visits to the Mediterranean, northern Europe, Norway, and Iceland. They will also offer their classic cruises to Alaska, the Caribbean, and the Bahamas.

Disney Cruise LineGuests, will be able to become more engrossed in the incredible culture of Barcelona and unique history of Rome in one cruise. For the first time, on June 16, 2018, the Disney Magic will set sail on a cruise from Barcelona to Civitavecchia {Rome}. Then, on June 23, 2018, it will set sail again on a seven-night cruise from Civitavecchia {Rome} to Barcelona. Also, making its first appearance on a Disney Cruise is Genoa, Italy. Genoa is an incredible historic port is the passageway to the gorgeous, Milan and the beautiful, Portofino.

The fun doesn’t stop there, the Disney Magic will also visit Cork, Ireland. This incredible adventure is a seven-night British Isles cruise. It departs on September 2, 2018. There are several additional ports visited on this sailing, including: Dublin, Ireland; Greenock, Scotland; and Liverpool, England. The summer will hold several other European adventures on the Disney Magic. It will include: Baltic, Norwegian fjords, British Isles and the Mediterranean.

Don’t forget, the newly re-imagined Disney Wonder will return to Alaska for the summer as well!

If the Caribbean is calling your name, the Disney Fantasy will be embarking on special 11-night itinerary. It will depart on June 30th and visit the dreamy and tropical destination of: Aruba, Barbados, Martinique, St. Kitts, Puerto Rico and Disney Castaway Cay.

Castaway Cay has been consistently rated as a top-destination location. The Disney Dream will sail on a series of cruises. It will include two stops at Castaway Cay {double-the-fun}! This is such a fun and incredible opportunity as guests will be able to enjoy more of the beach, sand, and sea, and they will also see more of the pristine island paradise!

Contact us to learn more about these incredible cruises or to let us take all the stress away from your planning! We’d love to help plan your dream Disney cruise.

Elizabeth Hollman

Owner & Travel Specialist

Days at Sea – Part 2

This is the second part of my blog posting “To Cruise Or Not To Cruise?” This post is meant to help those who have never cruised but are intrigued with the idea of going on one. Part one of this post on the advantages of cruising. {You can read about that, here!} Today, will focus on what to do on sea days or for the cruise novice when you are not at port at a destination.

 Top Five Things to do on Sea Days! Is Cruising for me?

  1. Relax You are on a cruise in the middle of the Caribbean so enjoy the beauty. I usually get balcony rooms and on sea days I enjoy ordering room service for breakfast and enjoy the vast ocean and its peacefulness. If you don’t have a balcony that is ok to. Grab a bite to eat and take it to one of the decks and enjoy the same view. It’s also a great time to relax by the pool in a lounge chair soaking up the sun.
  2. Explore Is Cruising for me?Cruise ships today have so much to do that I enjoy walking the ship and finding little surprises. The last cruise I was on I stumbled upon a little known deck at the front of the ship and reenacted the scene from Titanic! It’s also a great time to see which places on the ship are busier than others. You may find a nice place to read a book or enjoy a drink that is quiet and relaxing.
  3. Eat Cruising is about enjoying a lot of great food. Sea days are a great time to do that. It is true that the restaurants are busier on sea days but I’ve found going at non-peak times isn’t all that bad. It’s also a great time to try different restaurants. You may want to grab a sandwich from one place, an appetizer from another and then finish with dessert at a third location. You may eat a lot but going back to point number two if you explore and walk around you will burn those calories off! {Well, maybe not all of them, but who’s counting!}
  4. Entertainment Is Cruising for me?There is always something going on during sea days, including Broadway musicals, movies, and live entertainment! If you want something low key you can take a cupcake decorating class, play bingo, try miniature golf, zip line or take part in trivia contest. There is literally something for everyone. Children can take part in volleyball tournaments, video game contest or meeting their favorite character.
  5. Spa This may be one of the best options on a sea day. Get a massage, skin treatment, steam bath or choose from dozens of other options. I’ve done spa treatments I would never get at home. They have great couples’ options too for those who want to have a relaxing hour together. They often offer sales on days at port, but if those days are full then stop by the spa on a sea day.

 

I hope first time cruisers now have a better understanding of why you should give a cruising a try! I also hope this blog has shown you what you can do on your day at sea. Be sure to check my future blog posts for what do at port and figuring out what excursion to take!

Ryan Gross

Travel Specialist