When planning Disney World vacations I’m asked many questions. What is the Magical Express? How do I use my MagicBands? Where can I eat dinner with the Princesses? And then there is the question that usually leads to a lot more questions. What is the FastPass?

So what is a FastPass? Well, as I like to say it’s a magical way you can get more out of your Disney Vacation by reserving a time for your favorite attraction, show or character greeting and bypassing the standby line. That is a simple answer to a somewhat complex thing. Today, I will share with you the basics of the FastPass+. I must note that this a basic overview of FastPass+. To get the most out of this free time saving service Disney offers it is best to have a conversation with your Me and the Mouse Travel Specialist. The one thing we all have in common on this team is getting the most out of your Disney vacation and FastPass+ definitely will help do that!

FastPass+ is a free service that allows guests an opportunity to reserve a time to many of the attractions, shows and character greetings. FastPass+ is available to both Disney guests staying at a Disney Resort and for those not. For this blog we will make the assumptions all guests are staying at a Disney Resort. FastPass+ service is, in my opinion better for those staying on property.

Here is how it works.

  • You can begin making your FastPass+ reservation at 7:00 a.m. Eastern Time 60 days in advance of your visit.
  • To make a reservation in advance of your trip either log onto your My Disney Experience mobile app or on the website.
  • Once logged on you can select up to three FastPass+ experiences you would like for the park you are visiting on that day. You will be guided through your options and times and simply select what you would like. For example, at the Magic Kingdom you could visit Mickey Mouse at 10 a.m. and ride Space Mountain at noon and reserve a spot for the fireworks at 10 p.m.
  • You can make selections for each day you have tickets on your vacation.
  • The FastPass+ selections are automatically loaded onto your MagicBand.
  • Once you arrive at the park a Cast Member scans your MagicBand at the attraction, show or character greeting at your designated time and you are in.
  • You can make changes to your selections in advance or even the day of by logging onto your My Disney Experience mobile app.

So that is a basic understanding of how it works. Like I said there are many other features and little secrets to get even more out of this amazing free service. To find out more of the advance features of FastPass+ contact your Me and the Mouse Travel Specialists. They will help you by explaining how to book additional FastPasses once you’ve used yours for the day, what rides you should try to get a FastPass for and much more!

Ryan Gross

Travel Specialist

 

 

As we have experienced with our Me and The Mouse clients, once you have experienced a Disney Cruise, you cannot wait to start planning your next one. Disney has made the process both easy and with a cost savings by starting the booking process while you are onboard. The process is very simple:

  1. By visiting the Future Cruise Desk, you can book a specific date with an applicable deposit or you can book a placeholder cruise for $250. The placeholder reservation can be moved to another cruise with a sailing date within 24 months from your booking of the placeholder.
  2. The $250 for the placeholder deposit will be applied to your deposit when moved to a set date.
  3. When you move your placeholder to a cruise of 7 + nights or longer, you are only required to place 10% of the cruise cost as the deposit (typically, 20% is required as a deposit).
  4. You will receive 10% off your future cruise when you transfer the placeholder to an actual sailing. Concierge level excluded.
  5. Disney also offers an onboard credit on your future cruise that can be used toward any charges you will have on your next cruise, such as excursions, purchases at the gift shop, and/or drinks. For sailings 7 + days, it will be $200. For sailings 6 days and less, your onboard credit will be $100.
  6. If you decide you are not able to use the placeholder, the $250 is refundable.

Please note, there are restrictions such as blackout dates and the benefit cannot be combined with any other offers. The onboard booking benefit is not valid on concierge levels rooms or VGT, OGT or IGT discounted rooms or 2 night cruises.

Happy sailing!!

Janene Jaroscak

Travel Specialist

 

 

Continuing the success of the Marvel films (and my personal favorite), Guardians of the Galaxy  – Mission: Breakout! is a fantastic thrill ride that has been re-imagined in the former Twilight Zone Tower of Terror attraction. The Guardians of the Galaxy have been kidnapped and it’s up to you to save them!

Enter the fortress of Taneleer Tivan (otherwise known as the Collector) where he is currently exhibiting some of his finest pieces. Take some time to explore the cases and discover amazing relics – a warlock’s eye, Atlantis artifacts, Loki’s shackles, Figment (from Epcot’s Journey’s Into Imagination with Figment), and Cosmo the Spacedog. The newest possessions on display are none other than the Guardians of the Galaxy: Star-Lord, Gamora, Rocket, and Drax. You will find yourself in the Collector’s office where Rocket has escaped his cage and is now requiring your assistance to break the remaining Guardians out of the fortress.  The rest of the journey is full of thrills, an “awesome” soundtrack, and quite possibly a lot of uncontrollable giggling!

If you weren’t brave enough to experience this attraction when it was the Tower of Terror, you might want to give this re-imagined attraction a second chance. While the scenes and falls are randomly generated, one thing that has been removed is the thirteen-story drop that was part of Tower of Terror. Instead, guests experience much shorter drops, and the comedy of the Guardians and music from the films will have you laughing and cheering the whole time!

If you are craving more time with the Guardians, be sure to head over to the Guardians of the Galaxy Dance Off! Dance to an “awesome” mix of familiar tunes with Star-Lord, Gamora and Groot!

Other Marvel characters to meet around Disney’s California Adventure include Spider-Man and Captain America! If you’re lucky, you might even spot Black Widow or other Marvel heroes roaming the streets of Hollywood Land!

* You will want to determine your main attraction goal for California Adventure before you enter the park. Mission: Breakout will be a jog to the left into Hollywood Land. CarsLand is straight through from the main entrance. Both attractions have FastPass kiosks (or you can utilize MaxPass on the Disneyland app for a fee) to help accommodate both attractions into your day.

Nancy Wideman

Travel Specialist

 

 

 

With the continued hype of Jurassic Park movies, it’s no doubt that the T-Rex restaurant in Disney Springs is still as popular as ever!  This dinosaur themed restaurant is sure to excite the kids in your group and equally satisfy the taste buds of the adults.   

Open for lunch and dinner, T-Rex is a table service dining location with an extensive menu.  As simple as burgers and fries, to seafood and steaks, to salads and pastas, there is something for everyone!  The kids also have some of the most extensive menu options I’ve seen.

As you check in at the podium, you will not miss the 15 foot T-Rex proudly on display as you get ready for an exciting dinner.  To your left you will see the beginning of the themed rooms throughout the restaurant, a room and bar with giant octopus tentacles overhead and a fish tank as the back drop.  As you continue to walk though, other themed areas including a color-changing ice cavern and a fern forest with giant wasps will not go unnoticed.  To keep you completely immersed, every 20 minutes the entire restaurant comes alive as a meteor shower gets every prehistoric creature to react.

Such a variety of food will have you second guessing what to try this visit.  You may want to consider splitting with someone so you can try a couple of different tastes they have to offer.  From the Mega Mes-O-Bones ribs to the Prehistoric Pasta with Chicken, the portion size will not leave you feeling hungry.  There is also a variety of prehistoric drink options to enjoy as you dine, from a glass of wine to a Candy Apple Cotton-tini, there is a drink for satisfy all.  You do not want to skip dessert either!  My favorite (which is made to feed up to four guests), is the Chocolate Extinction.  With some fudge cake, ice cream, caramel and bits of Butterfinger crumbs, this dessert had me eating my husband’s portion as well….do not miss this!!

As you exit, stop at their Dino-Store to check out unique merchandise the kids will love. They are sure to find a great souvenir to bring home.  If they like Build-A-Bear, they will love the chance to Build-A-Dino as a way to remember this fun dining experience.  If you want to skip the shopping experience, at least check out the Paleo Zone, a hands-on experience where the kids will enjoy digging for hidden dinosaur fossils.  They can also pan for treasure in Discovery Creek or check out the interactive displays to learn about “the time before time”.

This location does take reservations starting at 180 days from your trip.  It can be quite the popular spot, so make sure you have your Me and the Mouse Travel Specialist add this as one of your choices for dining during your stay.  I personally love to put it on our radar for an Animal Kingdom park day…it really ties in our day in the park and extends it to the evening hours!

Megan Thompson

Travel Specialist

 

 

In this month’s blog I’ll be wrapping up creative ways to save for Disney, and with all that Christmas shopping, these tips are sure to come in handy! My first recommendation is using affiliate shopping apps, like Ebates and Ibotta, which give you money back on the purchases you already make by directing you to their sites, before or after your purchase. With Ebates, you head to their website first, and then find the store where you want to shop. It will link you to that store’s website and also tell you what percentage cash back you’ll be getting for that purchase. Once you make your purchase, it will automatically deposit your rebate into your Ebates bank. You’ll then get paid once a quarter via check. Since starting Ebates, I’ve already received $365 back! I’ve been doing it for a year and haven’t found a “catch” yet! Ibotta is a similar concept to Ebates, but it provides rebates on brand-specific groceries at places you normally shop, like Costco, Publix and Walmart. A lot of times they also have rebates for “any item” and general items as well, like milk, bread and fruit, so after a shopping trip, check out the app to see what rebates you can get on your purchases. After you have checked off your qualifying purchase, upload your receipt to Ibotta. Once your purchase is reviewed and accepted, it will show up in your Ibotta bank, which you can then cash out after $20.

The next big way to save is to buy discounted gift cards. Various retailers like Sam’s, Target and even Best Buy have deals that would allow you to purchase Disney gift cards at discounted rates, ranging from 5% off, up to 15% off, depending on the deal. This equals HUGE savings for a cruise or a week-long trip.

Another trick is to check out “used” gift card sites, like Raise. If you haven’t heard of Raise, they basically buy gift cards from customers who do not have a need for that particular gift card brand, at a discounted rate. While Disney gift cards can be hard to come by on these sites, there are thousands of other brands on items you use every day like Starbucks, Home Depot or Marshall’s, which make your dollar stretch a little farther so you can save up for that Disney trip in no time. And as a bonus, Raise is on Ebates so you can get an extra 1% off of your purchase when you start your virtual shopping trip on Ebates. If you are going to try to purchase these types of gift cards, make sure you use sites that have a guarantee, like Raise, which offers a year-long guarantee on their gift cards so you don’t have to worry about what you are buying.

I hope you have found these tips helpful and make sure to keep an eye on the Me and the Mouse Facebook page for additional “tips and tricks” to save for your Disney vacation!

Jen Morrison

Travel Specialist

 

When designing the perfect vacation package, there are a lot of questions to ask yourself? What resort would we like to stay at? Base tickets or Hopper tickets? Dining plan or no Dining plan? These are all important questions that your Me and The Mouse Travel specialist is ready to help you navigate and answer as we build a tailored vacation package for YOUR family.

Is the Disney Dining Plan worth adding to my vacation package? What’s included in the Dining Plan? Do we have to order from a select few entrees? These are just are a few questions about the Disney Dining Plan that we are asked from our clients.

YES!!! The Disney Dining Plans is worth it. With over 200 restaurants on property that accept the Disney Dining plan, you will find a wide variety of dining options on the menus at restaurants across the parks, resort properties and Disney Springs. Your dining credits are available from the moment you check-in to your Disney resort and are applicable until midnight of the night you check-out. This flexible plan allows guests options in using their dining credits.

The Disney Dining Plan can actually SAVE you money. In fact, it is about a 15-20% savings on the Disney Dining Plan and about 20-25% on the Deluxe Dining Plan. My family was recently on vacation at Walt Disney World and this is an example of one day’s dining for 1 adult.

Pecos Bill’s Tall Tale Inn and Cafe – $18.00 (entree and drink)

Snack (Dole Whip) – $5.00

Character Dinner at Chef Mickey’s – $60.00

Snack (The “Plaza” Ice Cream Sundae) -$6.00

Total Cost – $89

With the 2018 Disney Dining Plan (Disney’s most popular dining plan), you receive 1 table service restaurant, 1 counter service restaurant and 2 snacks per person for each night’s stay at your Walt Disney World resort. In addition, NEW for 2018 guests have several new beverage options available including non-alcoholic specialty beverages and, for Guests 21 and older, beer, wine and cocktails with their meal. The cost of the day’s worth of dining on the Disney Dining Plan would be around $70.00!!!

Whether your a family who is “on the go” and doesn’t want to be “too scheduled” with your day, a family that enjoys adding character meals to their itinerary to get that extra one on one time with multiple Disney characters, or a couple looking to experience the amazing Signature Dining experiences that Disney offers its guests, there is a Disney Dining Plan for you! Your Me and The Mouse Travel Specialist will work with you to determine which dining plan (Quick, Disney or Deluxe) is the perfect fit for your Disney vacation.

If you are like my family, you like having the details of your vacation taken care of. Adding a Disney Dining Plan allows you to save money, as well as lets everyone choose exactly what they want to eat without having to discuss: “How many drinks are we buying? Can I have dessert?” With the Disney Dining Plan, the details are already taken care of for you.

We love the ease and money savings that the Disney Dining plans add to a resort guests stay at Walt Disney World. Let your Me and The Mouse Travel Specialist know that you want to include the a Disney Dining Plan to your resort vacation package.

2018 DISNEY DINING PLAN PRICING

*All Disney Dining Plans include a Resort Refillable Mug ($18.00 value) for each guest

**Guests 2 years old or younger do not have to be on a Dining Plan, but are welcome to share a meal with another family member.

Per Adult, Per Night Per Child, Per Night

(ages 10 years and older) (children ages 3-9 years old)

Quick Service Dining: $53 $22

Disney Dining Plan: $76 $26

Deluxe Dining Plan: $116 $40

Any other questions? Contact your Me and The Mouse agent!

Tressa Krippel

Travel Specialist

 

Those traveling on a Disney Cruise in the Bahamas or Caribbean can experience an exciting day on the white, sandy beaches of Disney’s Castaway Cay. Whether you are an adult, a couple, or a family, there is much for everyone to enjoy. But what if you could partake in a unique experience that not only creates fun memories, but also helps to preserve native wildlife? Sounds exciting, right?! Then why not try the Stingray Adventure at Castaway Cay?

You and your family can schedule this amazing excursion once your excursion date has opened and you have paid your cruise fare in full. At $52 per adult (10 and up) and $41 for kids (5 to 9), you will have an hour of exclusive time with multiple stingrays in ‘Stingray Lagoon’. It is important that your children are at least 5 years old and are comfortable swimming with life jackets and goggles/snorkels, and are gentle with animals. If they are not, it may not be the excursion for them!

Once on the island, travel to ‘Castaway Ray’s’ rentals, and they will direct you to the ‘Stingray Hut’. In the hut, a Marine Biologist (who lives and works with the sea life ON the island!) will give you a crash course on the animals themselves, how humans should behave around them and what to expect from them, as well as what you will be doing to interact with them. It’s fascinating to learn about these beautiful creatures! And even better knowing that the Marine Biologists with Disney have rescued these animals and are rehabilitating them.

Next, you’ll walk to Stingray Lagoon where the stingrays are swimming…and are hungry! Biologists, trainers, and feeders have taught the stingrays how to get used to humans, as well as how to eat. There is a special U-Shaped tray they must swim over to get their special food, and they will eat STRAIGHT FROM YOUR HANDS on a Mickey Plate!

Once they have been fed, you are free to swim about the lagoon with the stingrays. They may swim up to you and bump you, thinking you have food. They will allow you to pet them, chase them, and swim with them! Stingrays are so soft and very gentle! Well, their “bumps” into you can be forceful if they think you have food in your hand. It really is a unique, swimming-with-wildlife experience!

We enjoyed this excursion this past summer, and I have to say, was the most fun we’ve ever had on an excursion. We have memories that will last a lifetime – whenever we see a ray at the zoo, at the aquarium, or in the Living Seas at Epcot, we recall what we learned and the experiences we had!

Want to take part in this excursion? Make sure you book your next cruise with a Me and The Mouse Travel Specialist and have your agent assist you in booking this amazing experience!

Amy Sowinski

Travel Specialist

 

It’s finally here! You’ve been waiting in line for the last 50 minutes to meet the man himself, Mickey Mouse! Your 4-year-old has been talking about this moment since the trip countdown started. You have your phone ready to video the reaction on her face and then you realize…you only have 3% left of battery life.

Now what? Hopefully you at least purchased the Memory Maker package to capture the still shots of the moment, but you really were looking forward to watching her videoed reaction with her grandparents when you returned home.

What went wrong? You had the phone fully charged before leaving your room, you took a few pictures walking into the park, took a short video of the morning show and afternoon parade, posted pictures to Facebook while waiting in line and reorganized some of your FastPasses on the My Disney Experience app. All of these things can cause the battery life to fall…fast.

The resolution is simple, pack a portable phone charger before you go. There are many out there, so you may need to research which one will work best for you.

If you are already there and forgot to get one before leaving, Disney still has your needs covered. Throughout the parks and the resorts, they have FuelRod stations. There are some very positive things about these FuelRod chargers:

  • You can purchase them on property if you underestimated your need to have a portable charger.
  • If you use the FuelRod charger in the park and you drain it, you can easily swap it out at another station for a fully charged one at no cost.
  • If you choose to keep the same one, it is fully rechargeable with a USB adapter.
  • They come with an adapter plug for both an Android and iPhone.

If you know you will benefit from the ease of swapping dead chargers for fully recharged ones, you may want to consider purchasing a FuelRod before you travel. In Disney, the FuelRods currently sell for $30 each. Online, these chargers start at $20 (with a $5 delivery charge **pricing may vary at some locations). So, if you wanted to get a couple for the guests in your group, you are paying $45 versus $60 in the park. It is a great option to save some money.

Although we would all love to be able to put our phones away on vacation, the functionality of a phone is ideal depending on your needs. Whether you want to capture candid photos, videos, vlog, or use the My Disney Experience app while there, a phone’s functions are a necessity to fulfill those needs. It is best to be prepared from the start to alleviate any stress something as simple as a dead phone could cause.

Megan Thompson

Travel Specialist

 

Walt Disney World is home to 27,000 acres of land. Spread throughout the property are resorts, theme parks, water parks and shopping districts. There are multiple ways to navigate these areas – busses, monorails, boats or cars. Today’s blog will explore the option Disney transportation or driving yourself.

First, I must declare that because I’m a former Cast Member, driving is my preferred option as I know the roads quite well. However, that wasn’t always the case. Prior to working for Disney I relied heavily on their transportation. I will focus this blog on the advantages of Disney transportation and driving rather than the disadvantages.

Let’s first take a look at the advantages of Disney transportation. Disney’s fleet includes over 400 buses, approximately 40 boats, 12 monorail vehicles and the new Minnie Vans by Lyft. Taking a bus, monorail, boat or Minnie Van will get you close the entrance of the park. You skip the step of parking and boarding the tram then going to the entrance. Knowing the roads and routes of Disney World isn’t necessary and you avoid the stress of driving in theme park traffic. Finally, you save money by not needing to rent a car and pay for fuel.

Now let’s take a look at the advantages of driving. You have complete freedom to leave when you want and go wherever you feel like it. You get in your car and you’re off! You can also go wherever you like on or off Disney property. (Outlet stores anyone!) When dining at other resorts there are no transfers of Disney transportation, you drive up to the security gate and they scan your MagicBand and you’re in! Plus, you get free parking. Here is the added bonus of driving yourself. You can explore Walt Disney World. That means driving past the new entrance to Hollywood Studios or seeing other construction take place, (both things that a Disney nerd like myself enjoy).

Lets recap! If you want dependability and convenience you stick to Disney transportation. There are few headaches here except for the occasional tired child who happens to be a little fussy on the bus ride back to the resort when the park closes. (Yeah can’t blame them and I’ll be honest I think that is me some nights!) If you want a little more freedom and exploration opportunities than you take the car. You’re in control with this option but you will walk a little more in parking lots and at the end of the night you will be asking “did we park in Goofy row 97 or Donald row 57?”

Ryan Gross

Travel Specialist

 

Visiting Disney’s Hilton Head Island Resort is the perfect destination for a relaxing vacation. But on the days you want a little more than just relaxing by the pool or on the beach, there are plenty of scheduled activities happening around the resort, but venturing off the property is a fun addition to a great trip.

  1. Savannah, GA – Taking a drive to Savannah, Georgia is a fabulous full day activity. We opted to do the Hop On Hop Off Trolley tour through Old Town Trolley Tours. It was a great way to get around the city. The drivers gave us a brief description of what you could explore at each stop. If the trolley tour isn’t for you, there are plenty of other tours available, such as a historic homes tour, a riverboat cruise, ghost tours and so much more.
  2. Bike Rentals – You can rent bikes at Disney to take advantage of the bike trails around the island. It is also a great way to get to the Beach House. We took our bikes and road for miles along the beach.
  3.  For the serious shoppers, Tanger Outlet Mall has 2 different locations, which you will pass shortly after you enter the island.
  4. Water Activity – Across the harbor from the Disney resort there are plenty of activities at the Shelter Cover Harbour. You can arrange inshore and offshore fishing, nature and dolphin tours. For water fun, you can reserve kayak tours, waterskiing, paddleboards and for the more adventurous guests – parasailing. Reservations are highly encouraged, so this is a great place to start your trip after checking into your Disney resort.
    5. Art Center of Coastal Carolina is a beautiful and quaint theatre that is within walking distance of the resort. Visit their site prior to your arrival to see what is scheduled and order your tickets in advance. http://www.artshhi.com/
    6. Harbour Lighthouse – If you want a great look at the island, there is no better view than the views from the lighthouse and museum, where you will not only have great views, but you can learn the history of this iconic lighthouse. https://harbourtownlighthouse.com/
    7. Civil War Forts – For the history buffs, Hilton Head Island is home to four Civil War forts that housed Union troops. You have an opportunity to learn their role in the war.

With all the daily activities scheduled at the Disney Hilton Head Island resort and everything there is to explore in the area, you may want to plan another visit to continue seeing more of the low country.

Janene Jaroscak

Travel Specialist