Resort Spotlight: All-Star MusicIf you are a family dreaming of the benefits of staying at a Walt Disney World resort but have a limited budget, Disney’s All-Star Music resort is a value level resort you should consider for your next magical vacation.

With a red carpet and backdrop to pose for pictures, your check-in experience at the All-Star Music resort turns into your debut as the newest music sensation. Walk outside and the fun starts for all. Pose for pictures in the Calypso section with the giant xylophone or bongos. Stop by the Jazz section to see the biggest drum set of your life. Are you more into country music? The banjo or harmonica might be calling your name. There isn’t anywhere you can turn outside without being reminded of the powerful influence music has on all our lives.Resort Spotlight: All-Star Music

All-Star Music features 2 different styles of rooms. The standard style room features 2 double size beds and accommodates a family of 4. The family suite features 1 queen-size bed, 1 twin-size sleeper chair, 1 double-size sleeper sofa, and 1 twin-size sleeper ottoman, accommodating a family of 6. The suite also adds a kitchenette including microwave and coffee maker and an additional bathroom to speed up getting ready in the morning. The rooms are quite comfortable and very functional. For families that do not spend much time in the room itself, you will find it a great place to lay your head at night.

Resort Spotlight: All-Star MusicSummer days require somewhere to cool off and the All-Star Music pools do not disappoint. The guitar-themed heated pool found in the Calypso section includes the Three Caballeros – Donald Duck, José Carioca and Panchito spraying water at everyone swimming. Closer to the back of the resort you can swim while tickling the ivories in the black and white grand piano themed pool.

The Intermission Food Court is the All-Star Music’s quick service restaurant serving food from 6:30 am until 12 midnight. Be sure try out their smoothies; you may find them your new favorite Walt Disney World treat.
Resort Spotlight: All-Star MusicBus transportation to Disney’s theme parks from All-Star Music is extremely convenient. Although buses are sometimes shared between all three All-Star resorts, during busy times of the day, Disney runs a dedicated bus service to each of them. While waiting for the buses, you may even be entertained by a resort DJ hosting dance parties, singing custom lyrics to your family, or asking you to join in on songs from the past and present.

The All-Star Music resort brings memories for families filled with background music that speaks to the hearts of all. If this resort sounds like the perfect pitch to your ears, contact a Me and The Mouse agent to book All-Star Music for your next Walt Disney World Vacation!

Michelle Browne

Travel Specialist

{& Why These Cast Members Will Be
Some of Your Favorite Faces!}

 

Baby Care StationI have done what so many other moms like me have done and what so many others have thought me crazy for.  I have taken my very young children to enjoy the Disney parks. My kids were both under 1 year when we started taking them to the Disney parks regularly. I understand how we want to share our love of Disney and all the magic that that entails with our children, and I also understand how tiring that can be. Disney has created a place even for the smallest guests (and for those caring for them). It is called (*the sounds of angels descending* and cue the spotlight) the Baby Care Station.

With one Baby Care Station located centrally in each of the Disney theme parks (both at Walt Disney World and at the Disneyland Resort), you can find a quiet retreat to nurse or feed your baby, change diapers or visit the toilets, or just grab a quiet corner to escape the bustle and weather outside. They are staffed with the sweetest cast members who are there to help you take care of your little one.

The main room has tables and chairs, as well as high chairs. Forgot something? They also have a small area where you can purchase some of the essentials, such as diapers and baby food.Baby Care Station

When my kids were little, this was one (of many!) of the bright spots to our visit. They loved the pint-sized potties made just for them, and I loved knowing the wonderful cast members were always there for me to offer a smile (or help avoid a diaper emergency!).

Sure, it might sound silly, but when you spend a full day playing in the parks with your young ones, anything that can help keep everyone comfortable and happy is a blessing.

If you are traveling with Littles on your next visit to the parks, grab your map and locate the Baby Care Station for later. You’ll be glad you did!

 

Nancy Wideman

Travel Specialist

Rider Switch PassEver wonder if you’ll miss out on riding an attraction at Disney World because you’re traveling with someone either not tall enough or who does not want to ride?
No worries! Disney offers a Rider Switch pass for guests in this situation.

 

What is Rider Switch?

Rider Switch (aka child swap/rider swap) allows an adult who has waited off the attraction with a child or guest unable to ride, the ability to enjoy the ride after the remainder of his/her party returns from the line.

 

Reasons for not riding

  • Height restrictions
  • Guests with disabilities
  • Child chooses not to ride Rider Switch Pass

 

How does it work?

  1. The entire party goes to the front of the line of the attraction they wish to ride (either the stand-by line or FastPass line, if they have one).
  2. Let the Cast Member at the front of the line know you need a Rider Switch for the adult waiting with the non-rider(s).Rider Switch Pass
  3. Depending on the ride, the process for obtaining the Rider Switch pass may vary. At some attractions, the pass may be given to the group waiting off the attraction immediately OR the riders may be given a green lanyard to carry as they enter the line.
  4. The non-riders find a place to rest outside the attraction, enjoy other areas of the park, shop, or enjoy another attraction as they wait.
  5. If given a lanyard, the riders will exchange it with the next cast member in line. That cast member will provide them with a paper pass for the other adult to use later.
  6. Once the riders meet back with the non-riders, the waiting adult can now go to the attraction’s FastPass line with the Rider Swap ticket. They can take up to 3 guests with them.

Rider Switch expiration

There is generally an expiration date on Rider Switch passes.  Some are SAME DAY passes (must be used by the close of the park that day) and some may be good for a few days/weeks (due to expiring at the end of the month).

Rider Switch Pass

This means non-riders do NOT need to use the pass immediately after the initial riders have ridden.  They can return before the expiration date to ride.

**If you choose to use the pass on a different day, park admission is required.

 

Rides offering Rider Switch

  • Magic Kingdom
    • The Barnstormer (35in)
    • Big Thunder Mountain Railroad (40in)
    • Space Mountain (44in)
    • Splash Mountain (40in)
    • Stitch’s Great Escape (40in)
    • Tomorrowland Indy Speedway (32in)
    • Seven Dwarfs Mine Train (38in)
  • Epcot
    • Frozen Ever After (no height restriction)
    • Mission: SPACE (44in)
    • Soarin’ (40in)
    • Test Track (40in)
  • Hollywood Studios
    • Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster (48in)
    • Star Tours (40in)
    • Tower of Terror (40in)
  • Disney’s Animal Kingdom Park
    • DINOSAUR (40in)
    • Expedition Everest (44in)
    • Kali River Rapids (38in)
    • Primeval Whirl (48in)

 

**If you want to know if a Rider Switch is an option on a ride, please ask a cast member.

 

Megan Thompson

Travel Agent

Disney's Animal Kingdom LodgeDisney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge is a one-of-kind destination at Walt Disney World.  Its views of exotic animals grazing on nearby savannas, guests will feel as if they have escaped on an authentic Safari adventure!

This deluxe resort property is located near Animal Kingdom Park at Walt Disney World.  The African-inspired resort gives guests the opportunity to view grazing exotic wildlife outside their rooms and public areas within the resort. This leaves guests feeling as if they are staying on the African savanna.

Disney's Animal Kingdom LodgeThe rooms can accommodate up to 4 guests, plus one child under age 3. They are available with either a king-size bed, two queen-size beds, or one queen-size bed and bunk beds. Amenities include room service, irons and ironing boards, hairdryers, coffee makers and refrigerators.  Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge also has guest suites and Concierge Level accommodations. This offer access to the Kilimanjaro Club lounge, robes, turndown service and the opportunity to participate in two unique safari experiences (for an additional fee).

There are two amazing pools on property. The Uzima Springs Pool faces the Uzima Savanna and features a zero-depth entry, along with a 67-foot-long waterslide.  Families will enjoy making a splash at the Samawati Springs Pool.  This is located just a short walk away at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Kidani Village.  This family pool features an exciting 128-foot waterslide and zero-depth-entry.  This pool area also includes Uwanja Camp, a water playground with 3 distinct zones for kids of all ages.  Observation Station is for children 4 years of age and younger.  Kids can climb through cargo crates, unscramble animal images and play in a bubbling geyser and shallow cistern pool.  Children, ages 5 to 7, will enjoy playing at the Departure Zone, which includes a leaky water tower and clever African irises that squirt water.  At Base Camp, kids 8 years of age and up can soak each other with water cannons. This is a great place to spend time on a non-park day. These fun pools & slides will keep the kiddos busy all day long!  Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge

Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge serves award-winning, African-inspired specialties and classic American favorites for breakfast, lunch and dinner, amid a lush, wildlife preserve.  Animal Kingdom Lodge host to uniquely themed restaurants, BOMA – Flavors of Africa and Sanaa. Sanaa is a restaurant with African cooking with an Indian influence. It offers spectacular views of the savannahs at lunch and dinner.  (You can read our blog post on Sanaa, HERE.)  For parents who want to have a nice, quiet dinner alone at a Signature Dining restaurant, such as Jiko – The Cooking Place, Animal Kingdom Lodge offers Simba’s Clubhouse, a fun night of supervised activities, including arts and crafts, Disney movies, dinner and much more. (Cost for this service is in addition to your resort stay.)

Disney's Animal Kingdom LodgeThe Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge has a special secluded feel. Its unique opportunities to view wildlife up close in open, natural habitats, makes this Deluxe Disney Resort one of my favorites.  If you ready for a relaxing vacation, filled with special and unique experiences, contact your Me and The Mouse Travel specialist. They can help you learn more about Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge.

 

Tressa Krippel

Travel Specialist

Animal Kingdom Lodge Resort Day ActivitiesAre you looking for a new way to experience Walt Disney World on your next vacation? I’d like to recommend spending a day at Animal Kingdom Lodge. This resort is a destination unto itself with most activities are available to all guests and activities are available from morning until after sunset.

You can view the animals on the savanna throughout the day and into the evening hours. There are multiple overlooks of the savannas at both Jambo House and Kidani Village. Guides will teach you about wildlife and the African culture. After sunset, night vision googles will allow you to see the animals from a new perspective.

Animal Kingdom Lodge Resort Day ActivitiesThe String of Memories is a favorite activity of children {and parents} that teaches them about African culture and wildlife conservation in a fun and memorable way. You will receive a unique bead as your reward for completing each activity. If you choose to complete all eight activities you will be rewarded with a special totem bead.

Animal and wildlife discovery activities include learning about the feeding strategies of flamingos and pelicans, how scientists track animals, how animal experts present interactive objects to the animals while on the savanna, learning the sounds of the animals on the savanna, the biodiversity that contributes to the African ecosystem, and general animal trivia. Cultural activities include learning how to play African instruments and general trivia on the African continent.  Completing all activities will require you to visit both Jambo House and Kidani Village. There is a walking path between both sections or you can take a shuttle between them. These activities are timed throughout the day, and they do not require reservations.

Animal Kingdom Lodge Resort Day ActivitiesThere are several other African cultural activities. They are in the lobbies and restaurants of Kidani Village and Jambo house. These activities are during the afternoon and early evening.  Medallion rubbing, stamping, African face painting, drum playing, and storytelling are just a few of the events to immerse you in the African culture.

Looking for something more elaborate to enhance your stay at Animal Kingdom Lodge? Book the exclusive Wanyama Safari or Sense of Africa tour. The Wanyama Safari includes an afternoon safari followed by dinner at Jiko. While the Sense of Africa tour includes breakfast at Boma followed by behind-the-scenes animal encounters. These tours are held on select days for guests ages 10 and above. They require additional fee reservations.

Animal Kingdom Lodge is a resort worthy of a day to experience. Be sure to check it out on your next Walt Disney World vacation. Contact your Me and the Mouse Travel agent for more details.

Michelle Browne

Travel Specialist

Rain, Rain go away come back on a non-Disney day…

Not much can damper your spirits on a Disney vacation like drops of rain.  If you’re like me you’ve envisioned sunshine and fun and have no room in your vacation for rain showers.  One good lesson I learned while working at Disney in Florida is that, “typically” the rain shower doesn’t last long and the sunshine is out and drying everything up again!  If you have a day like I had on our last trip where it was constant showers these following tips will help your family to still enjoy your vacation as the “rain, rain, rain comes down, down, down”. Rainy Day at Disney

The rainy season in Florida is defined as May – October.  The rain during this time tends to be short rain bursts and the rest of the day is beautiful.  So if you are traveling to Disney during this time please consider packing:

  • Ponchos (you can get them at the Dollar Store and miss paying Disney prices)
  • Raincoat
  • Shoes you can wear in the water comfortably (Keens, Rain boots, Crocs)
  • Baseball hat
  • Stroller water cover (so your children and stuff can stay dry)
  • Plastic bags for electronics and cameras

The parks tend to thin out when the rain comes down so if you’re up for sticking it out you may experience shorter wait times.  With many of the shows and attractions inside you will not lack for things to do.  The following is a list of indoor attractions and shows that will keep you out of the rain for a bit!

Magic Kingdom

  • Country Bear Jamboree
  • Enchanted Tales with Belle
  • The Hall of Presidents
  • It’s a Small World
  • Haunted Mansion
  • Mickey’s Philhar Magic
  • Monsters Inc Laugh Floor
  • Carousel of Progress
  • Princess Meet and Greet at Fairytale Hall
  • Character Meet and Greet at Petes Silly Side Show

Epcot

  • Advanced Training Lab
  • The American Adventure
  • The Circle of Life
  • Disney & Pixar Film Festival
  • Ellen’s Energy Festival
  • Image Works
  • Innovations
  • O’Canada
  • The Seas with Nemo & Friends
  • Soarin
  • Spaceship Earth
  • Grand Fiesta Tour (Mexico)
  • Reflections of China
  • Impressions de France

Hollywood Studios

  • The Great Movie Ride
  • Muppet Vision 3D
  • Aerosmith Rock N Rollercoaster
  • Star Wars Launch Bay
  • Toy Story Mania
  • Walt Disney: One Man’s Dream
  • Disney Jr. Live on Stage
  • A Frozen Sing A Long
  • Voyage of a Little Mermaid

Animal Kingdom

  • Festival of the Lion King
  • Finding Nemo the Musical
  • Dinosaur
  • It’s Tough to be a Bug
  • *Animals tend to be more active during and after the rain

Rainy Day at DisneyA day at Disney Springs can be an entertaining option at keeping you out of the rain.  Disney Springs has myriads of restaurants and shopping as well as:

  • AMC 24 Movie Theater
  • Splitsville Luxury Lanes Bowling
  • La Nouba by Cirque Du Soleil
  • Disney Quest Interactive Theme Park

If you happen to get caught out in the rain every Disney resort has a laundry room that can help with drying out of the laundry.  Newspaper can help in the drying out of your tennis shoes, you ball up the paper and stuff it inside and wrap the paper around the shoes.  Another option to help in drying out shoes would be to hang them in front of a fan.

While rain may be an inconvenience it doesn’t have to stop you from experiencing so much on your Disney World vacation!

Beth Rodgers

Travel Specialist

 

A former Cast Members guide for first time Disney guest

After working for Walt Disney World for nearly five years I’ve seen a lot of overwhelmed faces from first time Disney guests. So the question is how not get overwhelmed by all that Disney World has to offer. I’ve compiled my list of things that may help a first time guest to vacation capital of the world. Much of what will help keep you from getting overwhelmed can be done before you even get on the plane.

 

Tips for First Time Disney Guest

  1. Get familiar with what Disney World has to offer ahead of time. Disney has many resources to help families prepare for their first visit. Research Disney World’s website and explore the 27,000 acres the resort covers. What I found helpful before I ever worked at Disney was talk with someone who knows the lay of the land. In this case that would be myself and others on the Me and the Mouse Team:)
  2. Prioritize what you want to do. It’s a huge place and you will never do it all in one visit. I’ve helped first time families by asking a lot of questions like what do the kids like and then combining that with their ages I can help create a pretty good vacation strategy. First Time at Disney
  3. There is a lot to eat! Get a grip on the dining plan if you are going to purchase it. Know the restaurants and their features. Ask the question “do I want something in the parks or at resort?” Find out what characters at what restaurants too. You don’t want to miss Mickey! Also, don’t think that Disney Quick Service is just hot dogs and hamburgers because it is so much more now. Look at menus on Disney World’s website.
  4. A FastPass is a family’s best friend! Your Me and the Mouse vacation planner can give you the ins and outs of this great time saver. The FastPass system allows you to bypass the line and get more done on your vacation.
  5. Have your Me and the Mouse vacation planner send you a Disney ebrochure that is customized to your vacation. This is a great piece that is visual and will give you a good look at what is to come.
  6. Ask lots of questions. While planning your vacation ask questions and then when you arrive ask any Disney Cast Member for help. Cast Members are your guides while on vacation. They can assist with directions, getting dining reservations and almost anything. While I was a Cast Member, I helped a family who had their luggage misplaced by the airline. We were able to get their vacation started on the right foot by providing them with the essentials until their luggage was found. So don’t ever hesitate asking a Cast Member.

 

And of course all of us at Me and the Mouse are here to help! Ask your questions and we will do our best to help your family have the best possible first time vacation to the Magic Kingdom!

 

Ryan Gross

Travel Specialist

 

 

1…2…3…Say Cheese!

Photo Spots on AttractionsAs a huge fan of the Memory Maker photo package, I want to be sure to get some fun pictures from the rides that offer PhotoPass at Walt Disney World. Pictures are great memories of a vacation and these rides will give you enjoyable moments to look back on. Be prepared for that picture perfect moment!

Magic Kingdom

  • Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin – the room right before this picture is near the end of the ride and has a video of Zurg’s ship moving from side to side as you gather your last points. Your vehicle locks into a forward facing direction and then the picture is taken. Be sure that little faces are between the two blasters or their faces might be hidden in the picture. Photo Spots on Attractions
  • Seven Dwarfs Mine Train – not one but two pictures are taken on this ride. The first picture is taken as you come out of the mine and into the light for the first drop. The next picture is taken later in the series of turns as you approach the end of the ride.
  • Space Mountain – when the ride first starts, you head down a tube of flashing blue lights. Right after the tunnel, you take a sharp turn and the picture is taken right after that turn.
  • Splash Mountain – your moment is captured right as you start the 50 foot drop. Say cheese! Photo Spots on Attractions

 Epcot

  • Frozen Ever After – part of this ride is experienced backwards. Your boat turns forwards when you see Marshmallow and the Snowgies and this is the time to get ready for your perfect pose. Your picture is captured as you start the decent that is also viewed from outside the ride.
  • Test Track – get ready to pose as you break through the barrier to the outdoor speed portion of this ride.

Hollywood Studios

  • Rock n Roller Coaster3, 2, 1, go! Not only is the countdown indicating the start of the ride, but it’s also a countdown to your picture taken at 57 mph.
  • Tower of Terrorwith no two rides the same, be ready for your picture as you are pulled down the hotel’s elevator shaft.
    Photo Spots on Attractions

Animal Kingdom

  • Expedition Everestthis roller coaster takes your picture after you turn back forwards and drop outside the mountain.
  • Dinosaurwatch out for the huge dinosaur on the right hand side near the end of this ride as your picture captures your reaction to it looming over you.

The front rows of the ride will give you the best picture of your family. If there are people behind you, don’t put your arms up as there is a good chance you will hide the people’s faces behind you. Have fun experimenting with poses. The memories you bring home will bring smiles to all for years to come.

 

Michelle Browne

Travel Specialist

Boma is located inside the Jambo House at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge.  This restaurant has a wonderful décor and African drummers provide a lively authentic atmosphere at the entrance.  Dinner is served buffet style with a wide variety of food choices and included is a soft-drink selection with refills.  Drink orders are taken by a waitress.  You may want to enjoy premium drink options with an African flair for an additional cost.  Disney characters do not make appearances here, but the restaurant provides character and charm.

Boma is paradise for food lovers.  You will need a big table to provide plenty of room to try all of the unique dishes along with the classics.  The food has an African flair and provides a unique dining experience.  A variety of favorite American classics are offered as well.  The food has amazing flavor without being overwhelming.  It is one of my top five favorite restaurants on the Disney property. Dinner at Boma Animal Kingdom Lodge

Do you have picky eaters in your family?  We did!  We avoided Boma for years because we had small children.  Once they became teenagers, we became adventurous and tried Boma for “the experience” and it did not disappoint!  It is on our “must visit” list every time we go to Disney.

Even if you do have picky eaters in your family, don’t despair!  Boma has so many choices; there is truly something for everyone.  Foods are grouped into sections:  salads, soups, hummus, meats, fresh fruit, desserts plus much more.  Two of my personal favorite sections are soups and desserts.  The best advice I can give to everyone whether you consider yourself a picky or adventurous eater is to PACE YOURSELF!

It is best to take a small portion of a variety of foods on your first trip.  You can always go back and fill up on your favorites.  There are less adventurous items to keep everyone happy.  My husband and son love the meat carving station for their hearty appetites.  There are safe options for kids to enjoy such as baked chicken legs, macaroni and cheese and mashed potatoes.  Mealie Bread is a Boma specialty along with Coconut Curry Chicken Soup.  Are you a pasta lover?  You will find Penne pasta with Meatballs and Marinara sauce.

Did you save room for dessert?  Probably not, but you NEED to have some anyway!  A variety of pastries are offered.   Warm apple cobbler, banana and butterscotch bread pudding with the options of vanilla and rum sauce should not be missed.  Be sure to try the coffee tarts and the zebra domes for something different.  In addition, chocolate brownies and cookies are on the menu too!

Boma provides family fun and you do not need to purchase a park ticket to enjoy this adventure.  Advance reservations are recommended so contact your Me and The Mouse travel specialist to make this a part of your Disney dining experience.

Traci Perjak

Travel Specialist

Experience all of the Magic of the Tree of Life

Tree of Life Awakening

One of the first things that people see when they walk into Animal Kingdom is the Tree of Life. It is one of the few artificial plants in Animal Kingdom that stands at 145 ft. tall. The tree can withstand the severe weather of Central Florida.  The branches and leaves were built to not move. However, they look as if they are real.

Most people look upon the tree as the symbol of Animal Kingdom but as they draw closer, they notice the intricate details of the truck and tree branches which make this feature a piece of art.  As you begin to look in detail at the branches and leaves, you begin to notice how tree branches evolve into animals or how the shape of one animal then transforms into another.  The tree itself does not have any moving mechanical parts but guests who visit in the evening hours after dark soon learn of the unique experience that the Disney Imagineers have brought to this statuesque icon of Animal Kingdom. Tree of Life Awakening

After dark, the Tree of Life transforms through the magic of high-tech lighting into a moving masterpiece telling stories and secrets of the animals in the tree.  Disney describes the setting of this “awakening” as the tree is brought to life by magical fireflies who help to awaken the animals.  Guests will get to see animals waking up from slumber or young does prancing across the tree.  A spry fox frolics in the snow until a large bear comes along.  These are just a few of the imageries you’ll experience as you watch the tree come to life.

When the animals are not moving, the tree is lite with a rainbow of colors that change. It is a wonderment to watch the tree and search for the little details such an animal’s tail move, while waiting for the next light show to begin.  The projections of the animals occur for only a few short periods of time so be sure to grab a snack and fine a spot to view the magical experience of the tree.


 

 


Animal Kingdom offers a variety of things to see and do after nightfall.  It’s a less crowded time to visit the park and a fun time to experience attractions.

Other items to check out during the night time hours:

  • Kilimanjaro Sunset Safari
  • Discovery Island Carnivale
  • Expedition Everest
  • Tiffins Signature Restaurant
  • Coming Soon Rivers of Light Show.

 

Roxanne Genovese

Travel Specialist