Handle the Crowds Like a Pro
& Experience All Pandora Offers!

Pandora: The World of AvatarWhether you loved the movie, hated it or have no clue what it’s even about, Pandora: The World of Avatar is a “must experience” land. All Disney guests should be sure to visit it during their vacation.  The breathtaking scenery, attractions, food and merchandise are bringing in guests by the millions, which means you better go with a plan!  After attending the grand opening of this new land in Disney’s Animal Kingdom, here are some tips to be able to experience all it has to offer.

Tip #1

Plan on going during the Extra Magic Morning Hours at Animal Kingdom.  Since the hours are for resort-guests only, you will have the least crowded hour in the park before it opens to all guests. This will be one of your best times to visit the World of Avatar. If you are taking Disney transportation, plan on being on the very first bus, which departs the resort 45 minutes prior to park opening.

Tip #2

Reserve your Fastpasses 60 days out from your check in date if you are staying at a Disney Resort Hotel.  Since there are two options for Fastpasses in this land and you can only pick one to Fastpass, I recommend Avatar Flight of Passage.  This ride has had wait times up to five hours since opening, so having a Fastpass for this attraction is like having a golden ticket.  If you have a morning Fastpass reserved for this ride, go ahead and get in the standby line for the Na’vi River Journey.  If you are there for the Extra Magic Hours, you will not wait in this line for more than 20 minutes.  Pandora: The World of Avatar

Tip #3

Explore! Once you have ridden the two attraction in this land, take the time to explore and take photos.  Never have I ever felt a part of a movie like I have here.  Every detail is carefully crafted and more than worth exploring.  

Tip #4

Find the Photopass Photographers!  The photo opportunities in this land are countless and one is more amazing than the next.  You can get a standard shot of your family with the floating mountains in the background and you can even get magic shots featuring flying Banshees and other characters native to this land.  Use your My Disney Experience app to locate photographers and make sure you purchase Memory Maker so you can download all of your photos. Pandora: The World of Avatar

Tip #5

Head over to the Situ’li Canteen to get some much-needed sustenance after a busy morning exploring this other world.  With create-your-own rice bowls and other healthy alternatives, the Situ’li Canteen is a great place to take a break and have a meal or a snack before heading back to Earth. You can read more about the Canteen, HERE! The World of Avatar has several tasty places you can try, but we love Situ’li!

 

For more information or to book your Walt Disney World vacation complete with a trip to Pandora, contact a Me and the Mouse Travel agent today!

Julie Stewart

Travel Specialist

For many families, planning your vacation last minute is a necessary decision. When friends panic and tell you that you can’t do it – take a breath and go for it! A last minute trip to Walt Disney World can be filled with wonderful memories! We here at Me and the Mouse Travel want to make it a magical experience for you.

The first thing you need to remember when booking a last minute vacation to Walt Disney World is to be flexible. If you open yourself up to the options available you are going to find treasures of delight hiding around every corner.

Planning a Last Minute Disney Trip!Staying on property at Walt Disney World is a key component of a last minute vacation. This allows you to partake in extra magic hours, maximizing your fun each day. A last minute trip will have reduced resort and room selection but consider these options an opportunity to explore what makes each resort unique and special. While most of Disney’s promotional offers do not apply to last minute bookings, if your budget is tight consider staying at a value resort.

 

Many families are concerned that if they book a last minute vacation they will not be able to eat at character meals. Your agent will recommend the available character meals that include many of the characters you are wishing to see at alternate locations on property. You might also be one of the lucky families and get a reservation released from a last minute cancellation! Be sure to check each night at your resort concierge desk for any updates on cancellations for the following day.  

Planning a Last Minute Disney Trip!Looking for just a nice place to sit down for a meal? Consider eating at resorts as they are often hidden gems. A favorite place to eat is Epcot for its many international restaurants. Having a park hopper ticket, you can head to this park for a meal on any day. Disney Springs is also a FREE location with many different dining options. Stressed about trying for dining reservations? Skip reservations completely and eat at Disney’s many quick service restaurants that serve a wide variety of entrees. 

Lastly, if you book less than a month before your trip, some of the top FastPass attractions may not have availability. However, there are ways to still experience these rides with minimal wait. This is the perfect time to use extra magic hours. Another option is to head to those favorite attractions first thing in the morning when the parks open. Don’t forget to check the Me and the Mouse touring pages in your travel package for the must see attractions in each park.

Planning a Last Minute Disney Trip!A last minute trip can be one of the most stress-free vacations you’ve ever had! The reduced options allow you to focus on what is most important to you and your family. Remember to be flexible!! Let your travel agent work their magic! You are sure to have a great time on your Walt Disney World vacation.

Ready to book your last minute vacation? We’re here to help! Contact a Me and The Mouse agent today!

Michelle Browne

Travel Specialist

 

If you haven’t stopped by Disney’s Hollywood Studios in the past few months then, you have haven’t noticed the big changes occurring in and around the park. With the addition of Star Wars and Toy Story lands, the park is undergoing extensive work. These two new themed lands will add approximately 20 acres to the park {& a LOT of extra fun}! We are so excited to see and experience the new extensions that will be happening in Florida. Here is an update of where things currently stand. P.S. You should get EXCITED!!

Starting inside the park and with the Star Wars addition, the Streets of America along with the backlot and car stunt show are no longer. A few buildings remain along the street but outside of that not much is there. There are mounds of dirt and the start of new ride buildings gearing up for the opening in 2019. Toy Story land is also under way with a planned opening in 2018, this section of the park will start near Toy Story Mania and circle around eventually to the Star Wars land. This should make a large loop around the park. 

 

There have been very few released details about each of the two lands and access inside of these construction areas are off limits for obvious reasons. However, there is a lot of information regarding the outside of the park including parking and the new entrance. Hollywood Studios has always had the smallest parking lot and has experienced issues lately with access off of Buena Vista Drive. That is all changing. {Wahoo!!} They are expecting a huge influx of attendance projected in the next two years. Disney has decided to add a new driving entrance that will be located off of Osceola Parkway. (See attached road drawings submitted by Disney)

Star Wars LandStar Wars Land

There will be a new interchange near Victory Way and Osceola at the ESPN Wide World of Sports entrance. This interchange will guide cards into the parking lot from an entire new direction. The parking lot is getting upgraded to accommodate the high traffic. By the looks of aerial photos the parking lot will nearly double in capacity with a private lot for Cast Members. Speculation is there will be a private bus route in the park too, limited entrance to guest cars only.

Star Wars Land

As you can see, work is moving along quickly at the Studios. In the coming months, I will post another update as much will be completed this summer and further details. Star Wars and Toy Story lands are expected to be announced at the D23 conference in Anaheim in July. Stay tuned!

You don’t have to wait until Star Wars and Toy Story lands are opened to the public to visit Disney World! Contact a Me and The Mouse agent today to book your trip to a Disney Destination!

Ryan Gross

Travel Specialist

Today, I am sharing with you 5 incredible places to meet Mickey Mouse at Walt Disney World.  What is a “Meet and Greet” you ask?  It is a designated spot to find Disney Characters.  Your family is able to meet with them, take pictures and get their autographs. Meeting a character is one of the best things you can do on your Disney Vacation! It is so much fun to get your picture, but you also get to experience their personality in real life {the characters do some pretty entertaining things!}. Take a look at my favorite spots to meet the Mouse himself!

 

5 Favorite Spots to Meet Mickey Mouse:

 

  1. Magic Kingdom – located on Main Street USA in the Town Square Theater5 Favorite Places to Meet Mickey at Walt Disney World

Meet Talking Mickey dressed as a magician at this location.  It is so fun interacting with your “favorite” mouse. If you’re lucky, he might even show you one of his magic tricks. 

 

  1. Epcot – located in Future World at the Epcot Character Spot

At this location, you will find lovable Mickey Mouse in his regular dapper attire. If you’re someone that is looking for a classic Mickey Mouse picture, this is where you should go! 

 

  1. Hollywood Studios – located on Commissary Lane – Red Carpet Dreams near the New Star Tours

Meet Mickey all dressed up as the Sorcerer’s Apprentice. 5 Favorite Places to Meet Mickey at Walt Disney World

 

  1. Animal Kingdom – located in Discovery Island – Adventurers Outpost

Meet Mickey the Explorer dressed as a safari guide to find a new adventure! This outfit might be my personal favorite {in addition to the classic}, and Minnie looks pretty cute as well! 

 

  1. Character Dining Location – “Chef Mickey” – located at the Contemporary Resort

Looking for a two for one opportunity? You can join Mickey {and Friends} while dining and celebrating! If you have a busy trip and want to make the most of your time, this might be right up your alley. You can enjoy delicious Disney dining and meet Mickey at the same time! Plus – Mickey is adorable dressed as a Chef. What more could you want? 

 

Ready to plan your trip to meet the mouse? Contact a Me and The Mouse agent, today!

 

Traci Perjak

Travel Specialist

It’s time to start planning your 2018 Walt Disney World Vacation!

Starting June 20th, 2017, The 2018 Walt Disney Travel Company vacation packages for Walt Disney World® Resort will now be available for purchase.

These vacation packages will be valid for arrivals Jan. 1-Dec. 31, 2018. Please note the last date of your vacation cannot be booked more than 499 days in the future.

Walt Disney World offers many exciting and incredible activities and attractions. Don’t forget about the new land at Pandora: The World of Avatar or the expansions going on throughout the parks. Don’t forget to stay in the magic with an on-property resorts. The resorts are perfectly themed and keep the magic going long after you’ve left the park!

Contact a Me and The Mouse agent today to book your 2018 vacation package!!

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

 

4th of July at Disney WorldDoes your summer vacation happen to fall on July 4th or were you wanting to celebrate Independence Day at one of the most magical places on earth?  Well, you’ve picked a great time and place to see something special!  Throughout all of the parks, Walt Disney World will be celebrating the 4th with all of the Disney touches.  

Only at Magic Kingdom can you celebrate July 4th on the 3rd.  That’s right, they will have 2 special firework shows.  Celebrate America – A Fourth of July Concert in the Sky fireworks will be shown on July 3rd and 4th.  These fireworks are sure to amaze you as well as celebrate our country’s birthday.  

4th of July at Disney WorldThe flag retreat is another hidden gem that happens at Magic Kingdom every night at 5pm.  Make sure you put this on your list of must do’s as well. You’ll want to head to the town square on Main Street USA to watch Cast Members retire Magic Kingdom’s American flag for the night. This special event is specifically to thank veterans for their service, sacrifice and dedication to protecting our country. 

 

Hopping over to Epcot, you’ll enjoy some other festive 4th of July happenings.  Throughout the day, Mickey, Donald, and Goofy will appear in their patriotic costumes! You can find them near the promenade by The American Adventure in World Showcase.  While you are there, be sure to stick around for the various 4th of July concerts! These will be taking place at the American pavilion. Then following IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth, there will be a patriotic firework finale! This special show is called, The Heartbeat of Freedom

leigh3

At each of the parks, there will be special Independence Day merchandise and treats available! You’ll not want to miss out on these limited editions! Since the celebration is so big, July 3rd and 4th tends to be crowded days at the parks. However, do not let that detour you from spending the holiday at Walt Disney World. {Arriving early to the parks can help you get in extra activities before the crowd gets big!} You won’t want to miss this special Walt Disney World 4th of July Celebration! 

Want to book your Fourth of July at Disney World? Contact a Me and The Mouse agent today! If you are a local Florida resident, we would still love to assist you in your planning!

Leigh Miller

Travel Specialist

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

 

Lesson 1: The History behind Disney Springs

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

 

Lesson 2: Geography of Disney Springs

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

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

 

Lesson 3: Dining while at Disney Springs

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

 

Lesson 4: Shopping at Disney Springs

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

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

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

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

 

Lesson 5: Entertainment Opportunities while at Disney SpringsDisney Springs 101

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

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

 

Questions from the Class

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

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

2. How can I get to Disney Springs?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Beth Rodgers

Travel Specialist

Returning this Summer with NEW Magic!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Disney Cruise Line Transportation

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

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

Renting a car

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

Private Transfer

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

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

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

Janene Jaroscak

Travel Specialist