4 theme parks, 2 water parks, and a themed retail, dining and entertainment center called Disney Springs provides endless choices for you to spend your vacation.  It is very easy to feel overwhelmed with all the options.  Guests want to make certain they maximize their time and have the opportunity to enjoy everything on their wish list!  I have often heard guests say they need a vacation from their vacation!

When you plan a vacation, most are intending to take a break from the hustle and bustle of work and routine.  However, we often forget the rest and relaxation part of vacation when visiting Walt Disney World.  There are many options for fun and unique activities to bring the R & R back to your vacation.

  • Spa services: Who doesn’t enjoy a relaxing manicure, pedicure, facial or a massage?  Spa services can be scheduled at Saratoga Springs Resort and the Grand Floridian Resort
  • Horseback riding or Horse Drawn Carriage Rides at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort
  • Watersports – Sammy Duvall’s Watersport Centre is located at the Contemporary resort.   You can choose from personal watercraft, tubing, water skiing or wakeboarding.  Parasailing is also available as an individual or tandem.  This will provide an amazing birds eye view of the Disney property.
  • Disney’s Waterparks – Blizzard Beach and Typhoon lagoon both have unique themes and waterslides as well as a relaxing sandy beach area.
  • Golf – There are 3 outstanding champion courses and a par 36 walking course located on property.  Forgot your clubs?  Not to worry, you can rent clubs at the course!  Don’t forget, there are 2 miniature golf courses available: Fantasia Gardens and Winter Summerland
  • Resort Pool – with 25 uniquely themed resorts, each resort offers multiple pools.  Although pool hopping is allowed at select resorts, there are black out dates as well as certain resorts that restrict the use to resort guests only.
  • Shopping – Each resort and theme park have multiple shopping locations.  Disney Springs offers several locations where you can find Disney souvenirs and home goods, but it also has multiple widely known retail locations.  Don’t forget while you are shopping to enjoy the vast dining/dessert options or even have a glass of wine at Starbucks!
  • Enjoy the music – There are often musicians performing throughout Disney Springs, the House of Blues, Piano Bob at Port Orleans Riverside, or my most favorite….Jellyrolls Dueling Piano Bar  at the Boardwalk Resort
  • Movie – You can watch the latest movie release at the AMC dine in movie Theatre at Disney Springs!  A movie theater and restaurant all wrapped in to one!! Many of the resorts offer outdoor evening movies.  Check with your individual resort.
  • Bowling – Splitsville at Disney Springs offers both bowling and an expansive menu!  From traditional snack food (nachos, cheese fries) to more eclectic(sushi) and everything in between!

Take a day during your vacation to sleep in, take a nap, or simply take a relaxing stroll throughout your resort!

Your Travel Specialist is here to help you plan your own downtime day!

Missy Zolecki

Travel Specialist

 

 

Disney Parks name tags have become an icon much like many other seemingly random Disney items like the famous Disney trash cans (an interesting story for another day)! What started as method to identify employees in 1955 of the newly opened Disneyland, name tags quickly took on a life of their own within the company. This is the fascinating story of a little badge and the names on it.

The first name tags at Disneyland were metal with Disneyland in blue written across them and a number. The number represented the employee. All Cast Members were issued a badge. During the first few years most were seen with only a number on them. Some employee such as executives received a badge with their full name in place of the number.

It wasn’t until 1962 that the Cast Members first name was standard on all name tags. And it was only the first name. Why you ask not the last too? That is because of Walt. Walt believed his company was a first name company where it didn’t matter if you were at the top of the ladder or in an entry level job. To the guests of his Magic Kingdom you were known by a first name and there to help. A side note on Walt, he did not like being called Mr. Disney. Those who would meet him and call him Mr. Disney were often replied to with “call me Walt, Mr. Disney was my father.”

So in 1962, the gold metal name tag went away and what appeared was a plastic thin oval version. Through the years the oval changed some and eventually around 1985 took the shape of what we have come to recognize today – an oval with an icon bump out on top. This current look is an homage to the original Disneyland version. There have been a variety of other shapes also used for many different departments, people and celebrations but the most common is what is used today.

There literally have been hundreds of styles of name tags over the years. Today, they have been simplified and are uniform by department, park (Disneyland, Disney World, oversees parks), business line and employee recognition. They typically all contain the hometown the Cast Member printed below the name. They also contain service pins signifying the years the Cast Member has been with the company. Some showcase different languages the Cast Member knows.

In recent years you may have noticed blue name tags which represent Cast Members who have received the Disney Legacy Award, the highest honor for a Cast Member. One thing that is common among nearly every employee of Disney is that they are worn over their left chest. I say nearly all Cast Members wear them over the left chest because there is one department that is given the freedom to wear them on their lanyards and that is Walt Disney Imagineering. When I worked for Disney I could always spot an Imagineer because not only did they have a special Mickey icon on their name tag they typically were wearing them on their company ID lanyard.

A side note on working for Disney and forgetting your name tag. You don’t forget it. If you do you get one issued to you for the day and in my case I got to be Eric. That day was the one and only time I wasn’t Ryan!

Walt was insistent his employees at Disneyland were easily identifiable and proudly wore a badge in 1955 and later one with their name on it. He made sure they were worn on their left side and they always had it on while in guest areas. The only person to not be required to wear a name tag was Walt himself. I guess that is the perk of being Mr. Disney.

Ryan Gross

Travel Specialist

 

Look up, look down, and pay attention to the detail created by Disney Imagineer’s and Cast Members because hidden surprises are around every corner.

Looking for Hidden Mickeys is a fun activity and provides an opportunity to explore all the creativity the Imagineer’s put into designing Disney. They can be found throughout the resorts, parks, Disney Cruise Line, and even on some Disney products. Or, it can even be as simple as a Cast Member being creative with the placement of dinnerware on the tables at a restaurant.

Our family makes a game to see who can find the most Hidden Mickeys. We noticed it forces us to slow down and truly enjoy our surroundings and appreciate the little touches of magic that goes into creating all the magic. Since there are thousands of hidden Mickey’s all over Disney World, there are enough to keep you busy to discover new ones during many future vacations.

Let’s have some fun finding a few Hidden Mickeys.

Can you find the Hidden Mickeys on Disney Cruise Line?

Keep an eye out in the parks and resorts. Some are more obvious than others, but they are all fun to find.

If you like to participate in the Disney pin trading activities, keep a lookout for special pins with Hidden Mickey’s.

Enjoy your scavenger hunt – Disney style.

Janene Jaroscak

Travel Specialist

 

After you enter Epcot and take your picture by Spaceship Earth, the big golf ball, everyone rushes to their favorite attractions. Test Track, Soarin’ and Frozen Ever After to name a few. What some people don’t realize is that there’s a lot of really cool hands on areas as well as having the opportunity to not only learn more about our world, but there’s also a lot to learn about some of the different countries that are part of our world.

Epcot consists of the World Showcase and Future World. Future World has pavilions that are dedicated to such topics as the ocean, space, transportation, agriculture, and innovation. Not only are their fun attractions at some of these pavilions, there’s also an area of hands on fun and learning. For example, after Journeying into the World of Imagination with Figment, you enter into the ImageWorks – The “What If’ Labs. It’s a sensory-inspired play space allows you to wave your arms like a conductor of an orchestra to create music, create a symphony of sound by jumping on squares on the ground, and record sounds and play it back in different speeds.

At Living with the Land, you’re able to sail through the greenhouses of The Land Pavilion on a boat to see firsthand how Disney’s horticulturalists are using innovative growing techniques and cross-breeding high-yield crops with the goal of sustaining our growing global population. And if you’re so inclined to learn more, you’re welcome to make a reservation for a walking tour of Behind the Seeds, which takes a deeper look at sustainable high-tech horticulture.

As if Future World doesn’t have enough to offer and experience, the World Showcase has even more. World Showcase is home to 11 countries. Each country will provide you with some learning about their culture, their people, and their community. Upon entering each country, you’ll be transported to another section of the globe by seeing familiar famous landmarks, smelling the cuisine specific to that country and even hearing the native language being spoken by cast members from these countries.

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Depending upon the country, you’ll also be able to learn more about that country, the culture, and the goods that they provide. For example, upon entering China, you’ll be able to journey through ancient and modern China by watching a short Circle-Vision 360 degree film called Reflections of China. You’ll follow along as the Tang Dynasty poet Li Bai guides you through the sights and sounds of China.

After leaving Reflections of China, you might find yourself in the middle of a performance of the Jeweled Dragon Acrobats, which is an acrobatic troupe from China that performs breathtaking feats of strength, agility and balance. You might also find that the film left you a little hungry for some authentic Chinese cuisine. Whether you’d like to sit, relax and enjoy a table service meal at Nine Dragons Restaurant or want to grab a quick bite on the go at the Lotus Blossom Café, you won’t be disappointed.

There are a lot of things to discover at Epcot both in Future World and World Showcase. These are just some highlights of the many ways to learn more about exploring our world and the other countries within our world. We hope you’ll have a chance to take advantage of all it has to offer the entire family. You might have fun learning something new along the way!

Leigh Miller

Travel Specialist

My ultimate favorite time to go to Walt Disney World is when they have “decked the halls” for the holiday season!  Between the stunningly, decorated Christmas trees, the lights, and the overall feeling of happiness in the air, it has all the makings for a truly magical Disney vacation!  Disney offers some extra “Disney Magic” during the holidays to make your trip even more festive.  These holiday activities include:

 Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party

Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party is a separate ticketed event that takes place at the Magic Kingdom.  The special shows and attractions at the party include:

  • Castle Dream Lights on Cinderella Castle
  • Holiday Wishes fireworks performance
  • A Frozen Holiday Wish stage Show
  • Mickey’s Most Merriest Celebration Show
  • Mickey’s Once Upon a Christmastime Parade
  • Meet-and-greet opportunities with 15 of  your favorite characters throughout Magic Kingdom dressed in their holiday best
  • Complimentary cookies and hot cocoa
  • A magical snowfall on Main Street, U.S.A.

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The 2017 dates for the Very Merry Christmas Party are:

November 9th, 10th, 12th, 14h, 16th, 17th, 26th and 28th

December 1st, 3rd, 5th, 7th, 8th,10th, 12th, 14th, 15th,17th,19th ,21st and 22nd

Ticket price ranges from $89 to $109

Talk to your Travel Specialist about adding tickets to the Very Merry Christmas party to your family’s holiday trip.

 

Sunset Season’s Greetings and Jingle Bell Jingle Bam

 New this year to Hollywood Studios is Sunset Seasons Greetings.  As dusk settles over Hollywood Studios Sunset Boulevard, the lights of Christmas will start to twinkle and snow will begin to fall.  Billboards will come into motion and the “Tower of Terror” will transform as Disney characters start to tell stories of Christmases past, excitement over gifts, foods of the holiday, and beautiful Christmas sights.  Special characters joining this event include: Mickey and Minnie, Toy Story Toys, Olaf, and the Swedish Chef.

Another Christmas celebration is Jingle Bell Jingle Bam.  This incredible night time extravaganza uses the technology of projections, fireworks, and holiday music to tell the story of how Kris Kringle is rescued by stars of Disney’s Prep and Landing.  Another option with the Jingle Bell Jingle Bam holiday show is to take part in the Jingle Bell Jingle Bam Holiday party.  Talk to your travel specialist about adding a reservation onto your package and you will be able to dine on holiday sweets and drinks while enjoying the nighttime show in a special viewing area.

 

A Seasonal In-Room Celebration 

Disney floral gifts can transform your resort room into a holiday home away from home.  Imagine walking up to your Disney resort door to discover a Christmas banner welcoming your friends and family.  Once you step over the threshold you are welcomed by Disney Christmas décor and gifts from your favorite Disney characters.

For more information or to place an order please contact your Me and the Mouse Travel Specialist and they will be more than happy to help you add a some holiday magic to your resort stay!

 

An International Yuletide Extravaganza

At Epcot during the holiday season, you can experience how each of the 11 nations around the world showcase celebrates the holidays.  Indulge in seasonal favorites, experience live musical productions and costumed performers as they bring seasonal traditions to life.  You may also visit Santa and Mrs. Claus as they visit the American Pavilion.

Candlelight Processional

The Candlelight Processional includes a guest celebrity narrator and a 50 piece orchestra.  The narrator tells a moving story from the bible of how the Savior was born to a virgin in the city of Bethlehem.  Intertwined with the readings are choral songs of hope and joy making this a not to miss show!

The 2017 Celebrity Guest Narrator’s include:

TBD – November 24 to 26, 2017

Matt Bomer – November 27 to 28, 2017

TBD – November 29 to 30, 2017

Whoopi Goldberg – December 1 to 3, 2017

Pat Sajak – December 4 to 5, 2017

TBD – December 6 to 8, 2017

TBD – December 9 to 11, 2017

Warwick Davis – December 12 to 14, 2017

Trace Adkins – December 15 to 17, 2017

Neil Patrick Harris – December 18 to 21, 2017

CCH Pounder – December 22 to 24, 2017

Jaci Velasquez – December 25 to 27, 2017

Chandra Wilson – December 28 to 30, 2017

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Chip and Dale’s Christmas Tree Spree

Chip and Dale are looking for help as they collect ornaments for their Christmas tree!  Your family will need to make a stop at Epcot’s Disney Traders and World Travelers International Gateway and pick up a map (the price for the map is $6.99).  As you follow Chip and Dale around the World Showcase, learning how different cultures celebrate the Christmas holiday you will look for Chip and Dale.  When you spot them with their ornament you will place the corresponding ornament on your map.  After you have your map completed you can take it to Disney Traders and exchange for a special gift.

 

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At Epcot you can delight in inspirational holiday performances of Gospel, Jazz, R&B, and more.  These daily performances are located at the stage in front of the Future World Fountain.

 

Holiday Kitchen’s at Epcot

What is better than snacking around the World Showcase at Epcot?  Snacking on holiday goodies from around 11 different nations at Epcot!!!  Each marketplace will feature a festive holiday dining experience from each nation’s culture.

 

Illuminations

During Illuminations, Epcot’s fireworks and laser show, there are some holiday enhancements.  During the Holidays around the World at Epcot, the finale features the song, “Let there be peace on Earth”.

Disney’s Holiday D-Lights Tour

Disney’s Holiday D-Lights Tour is a 5-hour guided tour that will show you how Disney transforms into the most beautiful holiday wonderland!  Your tour guide or “Holiday Host” as they are called, will guide you on a journey with stops at Epcot to see the Candlelight Processional, Magic Kingdom to see the lighting ceremony of Cinderella’s Castle, and the star on top of the Christmas tree you will get to meet with some of the individuals responsible for turning Disney into a holiday wonderland.  You will also get to enjoy a family style barbeque dinner at Wilderness Lodge.

Tickets for this tour are $259 and you must be at least 12 years of age.

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Disney’s Yuletide Fantasy…A Backstage Adventure

During the Disney’s Yuletide Fantasy 3 hour tour you will meet at Epcot’s silver and blue guided tours Epcot location.  From there you will head backstage and learn about the logistics involved in the seasonal transformation of Walt Disney World Resort each year.  You will meet the Disney “Elves” that transform the resort into a Walt Disney holiday wonderland.  You will be guided through the World Showcase and learn how each country celebrates the holiday season.  You will also visit one of the resorts on the Disney property to see how Disney decorates on a grand scale using color, texture, attention to detail, illusion, and architecture.  You will also receive a special holiday keepsake.  To partake in the tour you must be at least 16 years of age.  Tickets for this tour are $99 per person. 

Disney Springs

At Disney Springs you can really dive into the spirit of the season.  The streets are decorated for a great family photo opportunity.  Your children can also visit with Santa Clause and you can stop at the Starbucks for some hot cocoa or maybe Ghirardelli for some ice cream.  You can also enjoy some live Christmas entertainment including christmas carolers, a tree lighting ceremony, a dance party, and you can take a walk amongst specialty decorated Christmas trees!

Just in case your kids weren’t exactly sure what they wanted on their Christmas lists there is plenty of shopping to be done at Disney Springs…including The Christmas Store!

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Victorian gingerbread house at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa

Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa is a beautiful place to visit and just look around if you don’t happen to be staying at that resort.  During the holidays there is another reason to make a stop on the monorail and visit the resort and the Victorian gingerbread house that they have on display!!!  The ingredients for the grandiose creation include: 1050lbs of honey, 140 pints of egg whites, 600lbs of powdered sugar, 700lbs of chocolate, 800lbs of flour, 35lbs of spices, and lots of Disney magic….oh did I forget to mention this is a fully functioning snack shop with actual cast members working inside!!!  Inside they sell creations such as: gingerbread men, gingerbread shingles, Mickey pops, and large gingerbread ornaments just to name a few.  Make sure to stop by and check this out!!!

Beth Rodgers

Travel Specialist

 

Walt Disney World’s newest attraction, Flight of Passage, is a like no other attraction at on property. This immersive ride will take you on breath-taking journey over the land on the back of a Banshee. This exciting new experience will leave you wanting to explore Pandora again and again.

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Like the Na’vi, guests can connect with these animals and form a lifelong bond with these magnificent creatures at The Rookery, which is located inside Windtraders, the primary merchandise location on Pandora.

The Rookery sits beneath a brightly colored hand-painted map depicting banshees soaring over Pandora. At the Rookery, a Naturalist from Alpha Centauri Expeditions will assist you in identifying a favorite Banshee from among 10 unique styles. Each interactive Banshee includes three ranges of motion – mouth, head, and wings – that are controlled by hand. Guests will also hear them make authentic banshee sounds, as they travel on your shoulder or sit on their perch.

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At the Rookery, guests can participate in a selection process where they are able to select their own Banshees to care for and take home. Guests are then asked to take the Banshee Pledge, which teaches the importance of the banshee as a symbol of their commitment to the environment.

Adopting a Banshee is a wonderful way to remember your adventures on Pandora. Banshees are $50 a piece and their perch can be purchased for $15. This unique keepsake has been in high demand since the opening of Pandora: The World of Avatar in May 2017. Colors and styles are subject to availability.

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Want to know more about Pandora! Check out our blogs on this magnificent new land at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Park.

Tressa Krippel

Travel Specialist

Ahoy! I welcome you to take a tour with me to explore the exceptional features of a popular upscale water-front dining experience offering indoor and outdoor seating with exceptional views. In addition to helping you travel through a variety of food choices you will find while dining at this family-friendly restaurant, I will also explain why The BOATHOUSE will provide you with a unique experience for kids of all ages in your family.

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Don’t sink your chances of dining here. While walk-up patrons are welcome, reservations here or at any restaurant on Disney property are highly recommended so be sure to discuss your dining preferences with your agent from Me and the Mouse Travel. You may use your Disney Dining Plan. Two credits are required.

BoathouseSeafood and Steak offerings are the main event. If you are a seafood fan, you will find a variety of starters and main courses featuring “authentic fresh daily” seafood options that your palate will love exploring. Featured on the menu is an Original Lobster Bake for Two which includes: 1¼ pounds of Whole Main Lobster, Shrimp, Mussels, Clams, Oysters, Andouille Sau-sage, Red Potatoes, Corn on the Cob and Boathouse Lobster Broth. Other seafood offerings include Maine Lobster Bisque, Firecracker Shrimp, and New England Lobster Roll. Dock Side Buckets with fresh cut fries are offered as follows: “Coconut Fried Wild Sea of Cortez Shrimp”, “Crispy Panko-Fried Fish of the Day”, “Fried Wild Caught Atlantic Surf Clam Strips”.

If you are like me and seafood is not your thing don’t despair. You can sink your teeth into your choice of a variety of steaks – a NY Strip Steak, Filet Mignon, Chicago Cut Rib Eye or Porterhouse.

Boathouse Steak

There are also many other delicious “shore” options that will delight your taste buds such as grilled chicken breast, BBQ/Baby Back Ribs, and a variety of pasta including seafood choices.Mouth-watering rolls and butter are served and one basket may not be enough.Salad varieties include Garden, The Wedge, The Chopped, and Caesar, and Buffalo Chicken salads.

Sandwich selections such as a variety of burgers, pulled pork, club, Angus brisket French dip, and my favorite “the filet mignon sliders” are served with fresh cut fries. For your sweet tooth, you may want to end your meal with Key Lime pie in a Mason jar, Mango Sorbet, NY Style Blueberry Cake Cheesecake, a Root Beer Float or Whiskey Carmel Cornbread Cake. If you are looking for a dessert for a party of 4, try S’mores Baked Alaska or Florida Sunshine Cake.

Kids’ menus are available for children ages 9 and under. You will find special entrées, beverages and desserts designed with kids in mind.

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Live musicians perform most nights offering old school rock and roll, country, or pop music.

If you find you have time before or after your meal, be sure to explore The Boatique gift shop which is adjacent to The BOATHOUSE and features themed authentic nautical items. You will find many unique gifts personalized with fun sayings.

Amphicars

The BOATHOUSE is the only place in the world to enjoy an interactive experience by land and water by taking a Captain’s Guided Tour in a vintage Amphicar. What is an Amphicar? Great question! Amphicars are dream boats that look like vintage cars from the ‘30’s, ‘40’s and ‘50’ but, SURPRISE – THEY FLOAT! Stop by the marina and book a 25 minute water tour of Disney Springs. The cost of the ride is $125. In addition to the Captain, an Amphicar will hold 3 adults or 2 adults and 2 small children. Be sure to capture the memories of your Amphicar water adventure by asking about flexible photo packages. Before you depart on your Amphicar sailing, a picture of your family will be taken outside the car, inside the car and in the water. At the end of your water adventure, visit The Boatique gift shop to select your photo packages. Flexible packages and pricing are available. BONUS: You will receive a souvenir magnet(s) with your photo package depending on the option you choose. Other boat tours are available through The BOATHOUSE marina.

***Please note that all menu items and boat tour pricing are always subject to change***

Want to know more about The Boathouse and other fantastic dining options at Walt Disney World? Visit our blog for more Walt Disney World Restaurant reviews and other “Helpful Hints and Tips”. Contact your Me and The Mouse Travel specialist, who is happy to recommend and book all your dining reservations for you.

Traci Perjack

Travel Specialist

If you’ve been to Walt Disney World or Disneyland you probably have ridden the monorail and like me you probably remember your first ride. Mine came the summer before my sixth grade year. I remember it like it was yesterday. It was at Disneyland and we boarded at Tomorrowland. As we cruised around the park and over, what was then the Submarine Voyage ride, I was beyond thrilled and amazed. But what was this amazing ride in the sky that I was on? Little did this boy from Nebraska know that this incredible piece of technology opened on June 14, 1959. That’s right – 1959!

Monorail Nixon

Walt Disney loved technology and wanted a fun and innovative way to transport guests around the park. He hired Imagineer, Bob Gurr, to design the ALWEG Monorail. The technology had existed in Europe and Gurr was tasked with making it work at Disneyland. On that day in 1959, the Disneyland Monorail became the first monorail to transport people in the Western Hemisphere. Guess who cut the ribbon on that day? Vice President Richard Nixon and his family. There is great story about the monorail taking off with Nixon and leaving behind the Secret Service and then after the first trip around, Nixon’s daughters asked for another ride and again left the Secret Service in panic!

Before we move onto the monorail system at Walt Disney World, a fun fact about the Disneyland version is that it was actually owned by a company called Retlaw, which was a private company Walt owned. They also owned the Disneyland Railroad. The Cast Members working these rides were employed by Retlaw. It wasn’t until the 1980’s that the Disney family sold the rides to the Disney Company.

The Walt Disney Monorail opened on October 1, 1971 which was opening day for the park. It traveled around the Seven Seas Lagoon to transport guests from the resorts to the Magic Kingdom and from the Transportation and Ticket Center known as the TTC. The TTC is a critical but not too often thought about area of Disney World as it was built to create a buffer from parking to the Magic Kingdom. Something Disneyland did not have the luxury of having.

The Disney World monorail was special as it actually went through a building, The Contemporary Resort. The first time I rode that monorail I had to do three more times because I was amazed that we were inside a hotel! Fun fact about The Contemporary is that each room was built off-site as a modular then the nearly nine ton rooms were lifted by crane into place.

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The monorail was expanded to connect the TTC, Magic Kingdom and resorts to Epcot in 1982. Anyone who has taken a spin in the monorail knows that for many years there was a familiar voice who made announcements including this famous one in english and spanish. “Please stand clear of the doors. Por favor manténganse alejado de las puertas.” This was, of course, the voice of Disneyland, Jack Wagner. In the early days of Disneyland his voice was heard from parades to rides throughout the park.

So there you go, a little history lesson on an amazing transportation vehicle, which I thought was futuristic in 1991 but was around for nearly 40 years before. The next time you get on an elevator give ole Jack Wagner a nod and say “Please stand clear of the doors. Por favor manténganse alejado de las puertas.” You might get some strange looks but for us Disney fans you will get a big smile!

 

Ryan Gross

Travel Specialist

Hurricane Irma was reported as devastating, unprecedented, and catastrophic as it moved closer and closer to Florida. Me and The Mouse travel specialists were incredibly busy assisting their clients in adjusting their travel plans. As a life long Midwestern family, newly Floridians, this was our first hurricane. We gathered supplies (flashlights, batteries, water, non-perishable snacks) and placed all exterior items into the garage so that they wouldn’t become a hazard. Steel shutters were placed over every window in the house. It was all a bit unsettling. The storm continued to shift west and with less than 24 hours before impacting us it was predicted to be a category 4 (winds ranging from 131-155 mph), as it passed over our community.

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As I have shared before, my oldest son is living with Fragile X Syndrome. We anticipated the storm would be very intense, we would lose power and maybe even water. We realized as the day progressed that this storm was going to be more intense than perhaps he or we were ready for. My husband and I decided it was time to leave for a safer location. Although availability was very limited, the amazing Cast Members at the reservation center and guest services went above and beyond to help us.

We quickly packed our belongings and headed east to Caribbean Beach Resort. Gas stations, grocery/convenience stores, and restaurants were already closed in anticipation of the storm. Upon arrival, we quickly checked in, settled into our room, and realized we had made the right decision to evacuate.

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Although the parks were closed due to the pending storm, there were many reports on social media from guests at various resorts of the activities that Cast members put together to help keep everyone entertained. Even the pools remained open that morning! Updates were frequently sent via in room voicemail and channel 3. Food service and housekeeping was limited and suggestions were made to stock up on water and snacks. A curfew was imposed for safety and housekeeping services would be unavailable. Disney movies were playing continually on tv and would continue to play even if cable was disrupted, a much appreciated distraction.

We weathered the storm, in fact, we slept through the most intense portion of the storm. We never lost power, nor wi-fi, and felt safe. Once the storm had passed, the curfew remained in effect to allow the damage to be surveyed to ensure it was safe for us to leave the room. Food service didn’t resume until 1 pm at our resort, but had begun earlier for other resorts. Character meet and greets were occurring to help pass the time while guests waited for food.

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Cast members exemplified incredible spirit, impeccable service, and always putting the needs of the guests first! We were safe and fortunate we didn’t suffer the devastation that many continue to deal with. Although, I am appreciative of this experience, my hope is this was a once in a lifetime experience!

Missy Zolecki

Travel Specialist

 

Oh my favorite thing…food on VACA!! What’s even better? Having a meal where you can get a great portion and awesome food for the money (or quick service credit) you are spending. Below is the top 5 based on food quantity and/or quality based on my personal experience along with our agent’s and guest’s favorites!

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Megan Thompson

Travel Specialist