Growing up in Western Nebraska, we took yearly trips to South Dakota or Colorado. I remember going on these vacations during my elementary school years. It was during my 5th grade year, my parents made the vacation decision that forever changed my life – a trip to Disneyland! This is the story of why that trip changed my life as a child and as an adult.

Disneyland changed my life!

We had never gone a trip of such magnitude. I remember going to our local travel agent with my mom and seeing that sticker of Mickey Mouse on the window that said “Authorized Disney Vacation Planner.” As a child I thought to myself “wow, this is really happening!” After taking home a stack of Disneyland brochures and a few weeks of planning, we settled on our hotel and our tickets.

 

It was almost a year a way, but I was excited as if we were leaving the next day. I remember looking at those brochures every day and counting down until we left. I mapped out the park, the lands, the rides and the routes we were going to take to get around. At this time, my only perspective of a Disney park was seeing them on the Disney Channel.

 

After months of anticipation, we were ready to leave. My family and I were driving to California, and it was an adventure that rivaled that of Clark Griswold’s Walley World pilgrimage! {That is an entire story in itself.}

 

Fast forward to arriving in Anaheim. We drive down Katella Avenue and make the turn and there it is-the famous Disneyland sign. We made it! After a sleepless night, we park and make our way to the same gates that Walt Disney himself entered. It was a like a dream seeing the Mickey Mouse head flower garden and the train station then Main Street U.S.A. We made our way around the park: seeing, riding and eating! 

Disneyland changed my life!

Let me get to the part that changed my life. We were on the monorail and there is a place near Tomorrowland that when you look close you can see backstage. I remember this like it was yesterday. I proclaimed to my family “someday I want to work for Disney.” It was my childhood moment when I said I want to grow up and do this. And guess what? I did grow up and I did work for Disney, and it changed my life. I worked at Walt Disney World, traveled as a Cast Member to Disney headquarters in Burbank, walked Walt’s studio, held the first ticket to Disneyland, met with Imagineers, created magical memories, and bettered my career.
All of this started with a visit to the travel agent in Gering Nebraska and a stack of brochures. I ran into that same travel agent a year ago. She is now retired, but told me, “I remember how excited you were when I gave you those brochures! You were glowing with excitement.”


If you are ready to experience Disneyland for the first time, contact a Me and The Mouse agent today!

Ryan Gross

Travel Specialist

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

 

Dance into Summer 2017 at Disney Junior Dance Party

This summer at the Disneyland® Resort, there is an all-new Disney Junior show that your little ones won’t want to miss!! The Disney Junior Dance Party is a fun, high-energy, live show experience! It combines inspiration from multiple, popular Disney Junior shows including: “Mickey and the Roadster Racers,” “Doc McStuffins,” “Sofia the First” and “The Lion Guard.” The show includes several live appearance from fan-favorite characters, fun music from Disney Junior, and much more!!

This fun interactive concert-like event is perfect for your kiddo as it involves them directly in the fun experience! Be sure to have your camera out and ready because this will make for some adorable images! {Better yet, purchase the Disney PhotoPass!}

The all-new “Disney Junior Dance Party” show debuts in Hollywood Land at Disney California Adventure Park on May 26, 2017!

Interested in learning more about this new event? Contact a Me and The Mouse agent today!

Disney Pixar’s Cars 3 will be cruising down the highway on a nationwide tour this Spring with Road to the Races! It is an amazing chance for kids, young and old, to gear up for the upcoming big-screen release!

The tour will feature life-size, character lookalikes of five-time Piston-Cup champion and fan favorite, Lightning McQueen. Guests will also see racers: Cruz Ramirez and Jackson Storm. This fun and new tour is headed to 27 cities throughout the United States to celebrate the new movie, Cars 3. You can see this fast and furious film in theaters June 16 in 3D. Take a look below to see where the tour will be taking a pit stop!

Cars Tour

TOUR LOCATIONS:

Walt Disney World, FL | Miami, FL | Tampa, FL | Dallas, TX | San Antonio, TX | Houston, TX | St. Louis, MO | Chicago, IL | Cleveland, OH | Pittsburgh, PA | Boston, MA | Allentown, PA | New York, NY | Washington, DC | Philadelphia, PA | Greensboro, NC | Charlotte, NC | Cincinnati, OH | Kansas City, MO | Denver, CO | Salt Lake City, UT | Phoenix, AZ | San Diego, CA | Disneyland Resort, CA | Los Angeles, CA | San Jose, CA | Sonoma, CA

Click Here to Download the Full Tour Schedule

You’ve been working with your Me and the Mouse travel specialist to plan your families magical Disney vacation and it’s all set. You have your resort, tickets, dining – everything to make this a wonderful vacation for your family!  Now what?!?!  Looking at your Disney countdown calendar, you have months before your trip!  By starting some of these tips NOW, you can ensure your Disney vacation will be even more enjoyable!

  1. Start walking now!  One thing you can count on for your Disney trip is that you will be walking A LOT!  On my last 6 day trip, we logged 55 miles worth of steps onto our Fitbits!  I started doing my “Disney training” with my treadmill months before we left. Although, I was tired by the end of the days at Disney, I was able to keep up and really enjoy the long days!
  2. Buy good comfortable shoes well before your vacation so that you have the time to break them in. Disney is not the place you want to break in new shoes and realize they give you blisters {yikes!}!
  3. If you plan on taking a backpack into the parks, try walking around with it on and loaded up so that you can ensure that it will be comfortable for your days at Disney.
  4. Visit our Me and The Mouse Pinterest Page, here!. We have several great ideas for how to countdown to your trip and fun outfit ideas! Prepping for Disney
  5. Download the My Disney Experience app on your phone and use it before you go so you know where to find the information you will be looking for in the parks. The My Disney Experience app has all of your reservation information, park maps, Fastpass picks and times, your dining reservations. It also has all park info like hours, parade times, character times, and wait times.  It is an amazing resource to use while you are in the parks.
  6. Purchase a portable power bank to charge your phone while you are in the theme parks. These are life savers. Typically, people use their phone often in the parks taking pictures, using the My Disney Experience app, and posting photo’s for all their friends to see what a great time they are having and it eats away at the phones battery. You will also want your phone charged to be able to contact other members in your group in case you split up during the day.
  7. Do some research on food you would like to try while you are at Disney! Disney has some fantastic food and snack options {Dole whip, zebra cakes, school bread} that are must try’s while you are there!  If you need any help coming up with ideas, make sure to ask your Me and the Mouse agent they are sure to have plenty of ideas for you!!!
  8. If your family is planning on partaking in pin trading, you can purchase pins on eBay to fill your lanyards for trading in the parks. My kids really enjoy interacting with the cast members while trading their pins!
  9. Your travel specialist is a great resource of information! We have a great team and are ready to answer any questions that will help your family have an enjoyable and memorable Disney vacation. Feel free to contact a Me and The Mouse agent today!

 

Beth Rodgers

Travel Specialist

New Guardians of the Galaxy Ride!Disney California Adventure® Park at Disneyland® Resort is adding a new and adventurous attraction to the line up! You will soon be able to join in the fun of the trilling, rocking attraction of Guardians of the Galaxy – Mission: BREAKOUT! This new and exciting mission will kick-off May 27th!

You will be immersed in to the Guardians of the Galaxy universe alongside characters from the famous films and comics. You will help Rocket bust his pals out of the Collector’s Fortress! You will experience randomized ride experiences complete with all-new visual and audio effects and music inspired by the popular film soundtracks.

The fun doesn’t stop there! There will be even more ways to step into Super Hero stories with Summer of Heroes, May 27 through Sept.10, 2017. You can answer the call for this limited-time celebration as you join the Avengers and the Guardians of the Galaxy for all-new epic experiences.New Guardians of the Galaxy Ride

Summer of Heroes will launch these new, year-round experiences:

  • Guardians of the Galaxy: Awesome Dance Off! – You may run into the Guardians of the Galaxy on their way to the Milano, with Star-Lord firing up his old-school boom box to get the party started. Gamora may prefer to stand back and observe, but everyone else is bound to get in the groove and show off their moves during this awesome rock ‘n’ roll bash!
  • Super Hero Encounters – For the first time, citizens of Earth will come face-to-face with Groot, one of the Guardians of the Galaxy! You can also step up to meet the First Avenger, Captain America, along with everyone’s favorite web slinger, your friendly neighborhood Spider-Man.

And for a limited time, you can step up to the challenge with new adventures during Summer of Heroes:

  • Avengers Training Initiative – Black Widow and Hawkeye assemble young recruits for a series of tests to see if they have what it takes to join the ranks of the Avengers.
  • Heroic Encounter: Black Widow – Black Widow will arrive on the scene several times throughout the day in an armored Avengers vehicle for her heroic encounter with park Guests.
  • Grab a Piece (or Bite) of the Action – Special deliciously themed merchandise and food will be available throughout Hollywood Land. You will definitely want to partake in this fun!

This summer is sure to kick off full of fun and action packed with the new release of Guardians of the Galaxy – Mission: BREAKOUT on May 27th!

If would like to learn more about the Summer of Heroes at Disneyland, contact a Me and The Mouse agent today!

 

Disney is truly a magical destination and you’ve spent months and months dreaming out your family’s Disney vacation and it finally has come….and gone.  It is common to feel what I affectionately call the post Disney vacation blues.  These are my top tips on how to keep the magic going while at home.

7 Tips to Cure the Disney Blues

  1. Take advantage of the Memory Maker Photo Package. The Memory Maker Photo Package is in my opinion one of the best ways to capture your Disney Memories.  Disney has photographers placed at all of their iconic park locations ready and waiting to take your families picture or magic shots.  That is not all you can get videos of your families experience on some Disney attractions such as Seven Dwarfs Mine Ride and Tower of Terror.  So when you arrive home you can download all of your family’s pictures and relive your Disney vacation.

    After trip to Disney

  2. Disney is known for their treats/snacks! If your at Disney World, you’ll want to use some of the snack credits from your dining plan and head over to Goofy’s Candy Company in Disney Springs. You can pick out some Disney snacks to bring home. Plan a Disney movie night with the family and enjoy your Disney movie while indulging in your Disney goodies.
  3. Post your Disney pictures to your Facebook page! You can share the memories with your friends and family. They can share their memories of past vacations with you!
  4. Bring back a souvenir that you can use/see daily when you go back home. After trip to DisneyI like to get a Christmas ornament every time I go and each Christmas when I place the ornament on the tree I am reminded of each trip and the wonderful memories my family created during that vacation. To read more of our favorite Disney souvenirs, click here!
  5. The music that is played at Disney adds so much to the magical experience! Pick up a Disney Parks music CD or go to Youtube and search Disney Parks music and you will be given plenty of options.  Sit back, close your eyes and you are transported back to that magical place.
  6. Did you know that you can actually bring the smells of Disney home? Some amazingly creative companies have bottled up the smells of Disney and created Disney scented candles!
  7. My ultimate tip for overcoming the post Disney vacation blues is to start planning your next Disney vacation. Contact one of the AMAZING Me and the Mouse Travel Specialists! We will help you put an end to your post Disney vacation blues by helping you to start planning your next Disney adventure!

“If you can dream it you can do it” Walt Disney

Beth Rodgers 

Travel Specialist

 

 

You booked your Disney vacation over six months ago. The anticipation is unbearable! Here are some fun ways to help your kids (and you) count down to the magical day!  Countdown to Dinsey

  1. Make a paper chain. Remember counting down to Christmas using those? Use Mickey colors or favorite princess colors.
  2. Watch Disney movies. One week before the trip, stack up seven movies and watch one each night. This will help the kids countdown the days and get reacquainted with the characters.
  3. Mickey Dry erase board. Print off a Mickey themed picture and place it in a cheap frame with glass. Use a dry eraser marker to count the days down.
  4. Paper bag surprise. A week before your trip, fill a paper bag with a Disney goody such as stickers, autograph books, penny bags for the penny-press, spending money, etc. Staple each bag and number the bag. Let the kids open a bag a day until you leave.
  5. Print off a calendar representing 30 days before your trip. Let the kids place a sticker on each day until the day you leave. Countdown to Disneyd
  6. For more ideas, check out Me and The Mouse’s special Pinterest Board, click here. There you will be able to find several other ideas for activities for your family’s countdown to Disney!

I hope you and your family enjoy building the excitement before your big trip. Enjoy the magic!

As always, let Me and The Mouse Travel take the stress from your travel planning. Contact a Me and The Mouse Agent today!

Lori Steinnerd

Travel Specialist

                                                                                                                         

It wasn’t until my oldest son, who is living with Fragile X, was almost 3 that I began to have a greater understanding of his sensory integration challenges.  Fragile X is the leading cause of inherited intellectual impairment and the leading known genetic cause of Autism. I was attending an education workshop, and I participated in an exercise that helped me understand what someone with Fragile X/Sensory integration challenges experiences. I began to view the world with a different perspective. Sensory Overload

On our next trip to Walt Disney World, It was as if I was experiencing it for the first time.  Guests are immersed in their experience even before entering the gates.  Our senses are constantly bombarded.  As my son grew older, it was clear that the sensory input, at times, was too much.  If we wanted to continue to enjoy traveling to Disney destinations, we needed to come up with a plan.

Over the years, we have used many strategies to lessen the sensory bombardment. Trial and error is worth the effort and can lead to developing a great plan.  Try to utilize strategies that are used at home/school/work and modify them for use while on vacation too! Here are a few of the strategies that we have used over the years.

  1. Social Story:
    Search the Internet for examples or reach out to your speech therapist to help develop one for your upcoming trip.
  2. Videos:
    There are many options available.  Disney Park’s has a wide variety of video’s to help those of us who are visual learners! Check out Disney Parks’ YouTube Channel, here!

  3. Review Disney resources throughout the planning process:
    Check out the WDW Cognitive Guide, here!

  4. Visual schedule:
    Search for “images” of Disney destination attractions/dining/parks/transportation. Many digital applications allow you to add photos to create the schedule on the go.  Prior to having a digital device, I pasted those images into a word document, printed them out, laminated and then placed Velcro on the back.
  5. Noise cancelling headphones/ear phones.
    This allows your child to either eliminate overwhelming sounds or decrease the level of auditory input.
  6. Biting options:
    If your family member tends to bite on items, chew on gum, or has a preferred snack, bring those items with you. Gum is not sold on property.  If your family member has brand specific preferences, I suggest bringing your own snacks.
  7. Downtime/waiting activities:
    Bring some preferred activities to help pass the time: pictures (of preferred people works for us), digital devices (wifi is available for FREE), card games, travel size versions of games (magnetic options), coloring book/crayonsSensory Overload
  8. Back pack.
    Utilizing a back pack (moderately weighted works best for us) helps to provide the needed sensory input that helps your family member combat the overwhelming input. It is also a great place to keep all your items above.

 

The key is to integrate a familiar strategy with new options and modifications, and your next trip will be a success!!!

 

Missy Zolecki

Travel Specialist

  1. Jolly Holiday Bakery Café, Disneyland – At the top of Main Street, you’ll find this gem. Amazing for breakfast (scrambled egg and cheese on a croissant!), even better for lunch and dinner with amazing sandwiches, soups and salads. And yes……there are a TON of yummy dessert treats! Disneyland Quick Service Restaurants
  2. Bengal Barbecue, Disneyland – Not the best location to find a seat, but the Jungle Skewers they offer up are delicious. My picks – a beef skewer and a veggie skewer. Just thinking about them makes my mouth water!
  3. La Brea Bakery, Downtown Disney – Although not owned by Disney, La Brea Bakery has been making waves in Los Angeles for years with their amazing bread. This is my go-to to pick-up lunch when heading back to the resort to relax. They have quite a large menu, but my favorite comfort food from La Brea Bakery will always be their Grilled Three Cheese sandwich with a Tomato Bisque on the side. Disneyland Quick Service Restaurants
  4. River Belle Terrace, Disneyland – Once Walt’s favorite place to stop and have breakfast, this restaurant is now open only for lunch and dinner. If you love Southern cooking, they have fantastic chicken or pork sandwiches. My favorite is the Half Chicken plate which can easily be shared.
  5. Sonoma Terrace, California Adventure – This relaxing spot serves wine and beer, but I love the Gourmet Cheese Plate!
  6. The Little Red Wagon on Main Street, Disneyland – Look for the unassuming little red wagon with the long line, and you’ll find the best corn dogs around!
  7. French Market, Disneyland – This Creole-style restaurant has great jambalaya, and it’s got a great view of the Rivers of America with frequent entertainment in New Orleans Square. Disneyland Quick Service Restaurants
  8. The Golden Horseshoe, Disneyland – This is one of the original buildings at Disneyland and was one of Walt’s favorite places to hang out. It’s a bustling saloon inside where chicken is the main star.
  9. Smokejumpers Grill, California Adventure – They’ve got great burgers, but I prefer the Grilled Chicken and Jack Sandwich. The chipotle aioli makes this sandwich!
  10. Hungry Bear Restaurant, Disneyland – Tucked in the back of Critter Country, this restaurant offers a place to relax in the shade overlooking the Rivers of America. For me, this restaurant is all about finding a quiet retreat with a view!

 

 

Nancy Wideman
Travel Specialist