{Or if it’s your first trip in a long time!}

I recently took my family on a mini vacation to an amusement park.  I had not been there since I was a child.  While I have planned 100’s of Disney vacations planning this destination for my family gave me a reality check to how my clients feel when they are planning for a first {or first time in a really long time} visit to Disney World! Today, I’m sharing my answers to the top questions I receive from first time guests or guest that are trying to get back into the swing of planning a Disney World Vacation.

Top 10 Questions From First Time Disney World Guests

  1. Why Use a Me and the Mouse Travel Specialist?  I kind of joked with my husband that I wish I had a “me” to call when planning our trip to Cedar Point.  I had questions and spent hours searching for answers online.  The team at Me and the Mouse Travel is a wealth of information regarding Disney and Universal not only can we answer any question that you can come up with but we will save you that time you would have spent researching or on hold waiting to find out answers. If you’re a first time guest to Disney, Me and the Mouse would love to help iron out details and explain anything! We love serving our families! 
  2. Walt Disney World 101: First Time GuideWhen should I start planning my Disney Vacation?  I recommend starting your planning 6-12 months out if you have the luxury to do so.  With giving yourself plenty of time to plan you set your family up to:
    • Get the best price on your vacation package
    • Acquire the dining reservations you desire
    • Better room availability to choose from
    • Best selection to choose from for your fastpasses
  3. When do I need to make dining reservations?  180 days from the day you check in!  Yes, 6 months out.  I often hear how will I know what I want to eat 6 months out?  Your Me and the Mouse agent can help you with this we all have eaten at most of the restaurants on property and offer recommendations based on what we think your family will enjoy. 
  4. What are FastPasses?  Fastpasses are pre-set up time slots where you can go to an attraction or show and not have to wait in the standard line but you go through a FastPass cue.  There is not an extra cost for the FastPass.  You start off with 3 FastPasses per day.  Then you can add another from the My Disney Experience app on your phone.  If you are staying at a Disney resort you can pre pick out your FastPasses 60 days before you arrive.  If you stay off property you can still pre-pick out FastPasses but it is only 30 days out.
    Walt Disney World 101: First Time Guide
  5. What are Magic Bands?  When staying at a Disney resort you will receive a Magic Band which is a colorful wristband with a Mickey Logo on it.  The Magic Band links all your vacation choices on your wrist.  The Magic Band is your room key, park tickets, fastpasses, dining plan, Memory Maker, and you can use it to make purchases while on Disney property. The name says it all – it’s pretty magical! 
  6. What is at Disney World?  Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Hollywood Studios, and Animal Kingdom, 2 water parks {Typhoon Lagoon & Blizzard Beach}, Disney Springs, 3 championship golf courses, and close to 30 different resort options.  There are also more delicious dining spots than you can count, a wide variety of shops, and a countless amount of picture perfect locations. We’re kinda in love with this place, and we have a feeling you will be too! 
  7. How do I get around while on Disney property?  Disney World expands over 40 square miles!!!  Disney provides transportation everywhere on property via bus shuttles, monorails, and water taxi’s. If you plan to road trip to Disney, there are also different parking lots and garages to accommodate you. 
  8. What is Disney’s Dining Plan(s)? Disney has 3 different meal plans that your family can choose from: Quick Service Meal Plan, Disney Dining Plus (most popular), and the Deluxe Dining plan.  What I find great about adding this option onto my package is that my meals at Disney are now taken care of and at a discounted price then if I had not used the dining plan!  Your dining plan becomes active the day that you check in and ends at midnight the day you check out. {Read our blog about the 2017 Dining Plans: HEREWalt Disney World 101: First Time Guide
    • Quick Service Dining Plan
      • 2 quick service meals per person {This includes 1 entrée or 1 complete combo meal, 1 beverage.}
      • 1 snack per person
      • 1 resort refillable mug per person over the age of 3
    • Disney Dining Plus
      • 1 table service meal per person per night stay {including character dining}
      • 1 quick service meal per person
      • 2 snacks per person
      • 1 resort refillable mug per person over the age of 3
    • Deluxe Dining
      • 3 meals {table service or counter service} per person
      • 2 snack per person
      • 1 resort refillable mug per person over the age of 3 
  9. What are the different ticket options available? 
    • Base Tickets
      • You can choose the number of days you plan to be at Disney parks.  You have the flexibly to come and go to the same theme park during that days visit.
    • Park Hopper 
      • By adding the Park Hopper option onto your ticket it gives you flexibility to go to multiple theme parks during a single day!  So if you happen to miss the parade at Magic Kingdom on the day you planned to do Magic Kingdom you have the flexibility to go back on another day.  This option is an all or nothing it is the same price whether you have 2 days of park tickets or 10.
    • Park Hopper Plus
      • The Park Hopper Plus option you get the specified number of days to visit the theme parks {Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Hollywood Studios, and Animal Kingdom} then you also get the same number of days to go visit the “Plus” visits to:
        • Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon Water Park
        • Disney’s Blizzard Beach Water Park
        • 1 round of mini golf at Fantasia Gardens mini golf course 
          • Must be before 4 pm 
          • Can’t be used the same day as Winter Summertime
        • 1 round of mini golf at Winter Summertime miniature golf  
          • Must be before 4pm
          • Can’t be used the same day as Fantasia Gardens
        • Admission to ESPN Wide World of Sports
          • Valid only on event days
          • Some sports may require an additional admission
        • One Round of Golf at Disney’s Oak Trail
          • Tee time reservations required
  10. How will I get to and from the airport to my resort?  If you fly into Orlando International Airport {MCO} you will be able to ride Disney’s Magical Express directly to your resort. This transportation service is complementary with your package. As a mom of 4, my favorite part of the Magical Express, they pick up your checked luggage from the airport and deliver it directly to your room within 3 hours of landing! {Make sure to take anything you are going to need during that time on your carry on.}  

 

Ready to let a Me and the Mouse agent take the stress away from planning your first trip to Walt Disney World? Contact one of our incredible, top-notch agents today!

Beth Rodgers

Travel Specialist

 

Golf at Disney WorldAnother one of Disney’s best {but one of the most exciting} kept secrets is Walt Disney World® Golf.  It is located right on Disney property across from Disney’s Polynesian and Disney’s Grand Floridian Resorts. There are two championship courses: Disney’s Palm, Disney’s Magnolia, and a 9-hole walking course: Disney’s Oak Trail.  Also across from Disney Springs is their third championship course, Disney’s Lake Buena Vista golf course.  All are an exhilarating yet relaxing way to take a break from the theme parks but still have an amazing time!

 

As a previous cast member with the Walt Disney World Resort, I had the awesome opportunity to experience all that Disney Golf had to offer! My department even surprised my colleagues and I for Administrative Professionals Week with a morning outing to the courses.  Not only did we get to have a world class tour of the property, but we were able to participate in a quick putt around the green! We even got to head out {on the Mickey golf cart} to the driving range and try our hand on some sweet swings! Golf at Disney World

 

Walt Disney World® Golf has a wide range of options for your family or groups traveling to Walt Disney World! If you’re looking for a way to get out and enjoy a few rounds of golf – Disney Style – then this is for you!

One More Thing…

Walt Disney World® Golf and Arnold Palmer Golf Management have teamed up to present these NEW Mickey Mouse logo MD3 wedges designed by Callaway Golf! The red, yellow, white, and green weight ports also represent Mr. Arnold Palmer’s famous umbrella logo. See more information, HERE!

 

Golf at Disney World

If you’re a local Floridian, and you’re looking for a FUN and EXCITING new experience close to home, contact a Me and the Mouse agent, today!!  The Magic AND GOLF is just a phone call away!

 

 

Amy Pattee

Travel Specialist

 

 

Photo Credit Courtesy of Anna Lazorchak Sales and Marketing Manager Disney Golf

 

Looking for a Rootin’ Tootin’ good time?

Hoop Dee Doo Musical at Disney's Fort Wilderness Resort
If you want a different experience, head on over to Pioneer Hall at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort and Campground for a night of entertainment and dinner.  Hoop Dee Doo Review is fun for the whole family.  This show is truly entertaining. You’ll love how the entertainers interact with the audience getting everyone engaged in the hand clapping, foot stomping, sing-along fun!

Grab your cowboy boots and then kick back and relax! You’ll enjoy a non-stop interactive Wild West performance which includes dancing, singing, and hilarious comedy. Your waiter will serve your meal family style while you and your family enjoy the show! The offerings are “finger-lickin’ good” and include: all-you-care-to-eat smoked BBQ pork ribs, crispy fried chicken, mashed potatoes, baked beans, salad, seasonal vegetable, delicious cornbread, and amazing strawberry short cake for dessert.  

Hoop Dee Doo Musical at Disney's Fort Wilderness Resort
Non alcoholic beverages are included for the whole family! For the “young-at-heart,” {but over 21 crowd} unlimited draft beer, wine and sangria is included and served when you serve up proper identification!!  Yee Haw!

There are 3 Hoop Dee Doo shows per night and prepayment and reservations are required.  Three categories of tables and pricing are offered with two levels of seating available to guests.


Be sure to allow plenty of time for transportation.  You won’t want to miss any of this dinner show.

If you and your family want to experience the unique Hoop Dee Doo experience, contact a Me and The Mouse Travel Specialist for assistance in making reservations. 

 

 


See More From Our Incredible Visit:

 

Traci Perjak

Travel Specialist

Adventures by Disney – 8 days, 7 nights

Featuring two amazing cities rich with history, the Adventures by Disney England and France departure is ideal for families exploring Europe together for the first time. There are several recognizable sites from your favorite books and films. You will be in awe of the beauty and excitement of the highlighted cities. Europe Vacation - Adventures by Disney

Starting off in London, you will experience some of the city’s most iconic landmarks. This includes a private tour of Westminster Abbey, witnessing the Changing of the Guards at Buckingham Palace, touring the Tower of London and meet a Beefeater, and taking a speed-boat ride up the Thames!

You can explore the English countryside, take in an archery lesson, and stroll the grounds of Windsor Castle. A special experience here includes scone-making and tea at Guildhall. Guildhall is a stunning setting where dignitaries and the Royal Family have gathered since the 12th century.

Travel on to Paris by train in the Chunnel under the English Channel. After an introduction to the sites of Paris, experience the Eiffel Tower with a Behind-the-Scenes tour. This includes access to the rooftop of the Le Jules Verne restaurant for a 360-degree panoramic view of Paris {one word, breathtaking}. Your Parisian adventure continues with wine tasting, bicycling and walking tours.

You will end your adventure in Paris by visiting the Louvre and the Notre Dame Cathedral! This is a day full of beauty and art. There are activities for both adults and children. The adults will enjoy a tour of the Louvre with a private guide. It includes a viewing of the Mona Lisa.  The children can play Art Detective to discover some of the Louvre’s most famous works. Europe Vacation - Adventures by Disney

As always with an Adventures by Disney tour, you will experience 5 Star accommodations, VIP access to historic sites, immersion into local customs and traditions, and world class service. Adventures by Disney promises you will leave feeling a connection to the land and the people.

With the journey culminating in Paris, extending your family’s visit to include a few nights at Disneyland Paris before heading home is a great add-on to add a little extra Disney magic.

For assistance finding the ideal Adventures by Disney tour for your family, contact your Me and the Mouse Travel Specialist!

 

Nancy Wideman

Travel Specialist

Are you ready for some Muggle Magic?

Universal Orlando’s Wizarding World of Harry Potter is one of the most immersive and impressive themed lands ever created.  It is no wonder that this area is very popular and always crowded.  In order to get the most out of the Wizarding World with the least amount of hassle, you must go in with a plan.  By following the steps below, you are sure to experience all that your Muggle heart desires without the aggravation of lines, crowds and excessive waiting.

 

Step 1 – Diagon Alley in Universal Studios Park 

Wizarding World of Harry Potter
Escape from Gringotts!

Congratulations!  You’ve been accepted into Hogwarts so now you must pick up all of your supplies.  Stepping into Diagon Alley is like stepping into the movie.  Never have I experienced such a feeling of being a part of the story.  You will want to spend some time here experiencing all of its beauty.  Do the attractions in the following order to get the most out of your time here:

  • Harry Potter and the Escape From Gringotts
  • Purchase your interactive wand from Ollivanders and if you are lucky, your wand will choose you!  Interact and cast spells all over Diagon Alley. (Read more about the Wand Ceremony, HERE!)
  • Grab breakfast at the Leaky Cauldron before catching the Hogwarts Express over to Hogsmeade.

 

Step 2 – Arrive in Hogsmeade in Islands of Adventure Park 

Wizarding World of Harry Potter
Hogsmeade

You’ve made it to Hogsmeade and now you are ready to become a wizard!  Stepping off the Hogwarts Express, pause and take it all in.  The snow-topped buildings with the awe-inspiring Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry will be like heaven for muggles so make sure you get plenty of photos!  Explore Hogsmeade in the following order to make the most of your time:

  • Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey
  • Compete in the Triwizard tournament in Dragon Challenge (Use your Express Pass)
  • Hop on board a Hippogriff in Flight of the Hippogriff (Use your Express Pass)
  • Interact throughout Hogsmeade with your wand
  • Have lunch at Three Broomsticks (Learn more about Universal’s Dining Plan, HERE!)
  • Grab a Butterbeer from one of the carts: regular, frozen or ice cream. Wizarding World of Harry Potter

 

Other tips and tricks to make the most of your visit to the Wizarding World 

  • Stay at a Universal on-site hotel to get early entry into the Wizarding World of Harry Potter.  For an even more convenient experience, add Universal Express Pass to your tickets or Unlimited Express Pass free with your stay at one of the three premier Universal resort properties.
  • Make sure you have a Park-To-Park Ticket to be able to ride the Hogwarts Express between Diagon Alley and Hogsmeade.

Wizarding World of Harry Potter

Whether you are a Harry Potter fan or not, you are sure to fall in love with this area of the Universal theme parks.  Take your time, tour with patience and enjoy your journey into this magical world. For more information or to book your Universal Orlando vacation, contact your Me and the Mouse Travel Specialist.

Julie Stewart

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

One of the most sought-after experiences of a Disney Cruise is having a cabana at Disney’s private island, Castaway Cay.  Our family has been fortunate to experience this luxury, which we like to label “peace, quiet and solitude.” Cabana at Castaway Cay

The cabana experience includes:

  • Bottled waters, cans of soda, and cold towels in a refrigerator
  • Fresh fruit, granola bars, and chips
  • Towels and sunscreen
  • Fresh water shower including foot rinse
  • Hammock
  • Lounge areas, changing area, storage, safe, ceiling fan, music, and outlet
  • Floats and tubes and one-hour bike rental
  • The Family Beach includes a private beach experience with beach loungers, chairs, umbrellas, snorkel equipment, and sand toys
  • Cabana host and service button

Twenty cabanas grace the Family Beach – including one accessible cabana – while four are at the adults-only Serenity Bay.


Cabana at Castaway Cay

The Experience

The experience is especially good for families traveling with heat-sensitive guests, elderly or small children.  My 80-year-old mother-in-law could not enjoy the island but for an hour during her first cruise.  On her following visit, she was able to stay on island the entire day thanks to the cabana and its fan that provided reprieve from the heat.  Families can enjoy still enjoy the experience while small children nap on the couch or in a complimentary pack-and-play.

The ship’s Concierge class crew services the cabanas, and guests summon the cabana host with a simple push of a button.  My husband’s parasailing experience was in question, and our host kept in touch with the parasailing hut and even re-scheduled the booking that was cancelled.  Without this service, he would have had to go all the way back to the hut by the ship to check the status.  Another host hung a birthday sign for our daughter that was visible upon her cabana arrival.  Cabana at Castaway Cay

Reservations

How do I get a coveted cabana?  Cabanas are typically snatched up by Concierge guests and Platinum status guests. However, I have even seen them available at Gold and Silver status activity booking openings.  Guests can cancel up to three days before embarkation, so many guests will check daily for cancellations.  You may also have your name added to a wait list at the Port Adventures desk upon boarding.

The luxury and service do come at a cost, however.  Many guests will offer other guests to share the cabana to help defray the expense.

  • Family Beach: $590.18, up to six guests included; up to four additional can be added at $53.75 each
  • Family Beach Grand Cabana: $966.43 for up to 10 guests; up to six additional may be added
  • Family Beach seasonal surcharge: $53.75 additional total cost late April through late September
  • Serenity Bay: $428.93 for up to four guests; up to six additional may be added

Cabana at Castaway CayIs it worth it?  This is the number one question most folks have, and that answer lies solely with the guests reserving it and their needs and wants.  We prefer to look at the cost by hour. We feel the privacy, peace of mind with our belongings and relaxed beach atmosphere is worth the splurge.

 

Jenniffer Sheldon

Guest Contributor

Disney Cruise Platinum Guest

 

 

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

 

 

How many times have you had an itch to get on vacation, but the thought of making a reservation at the last minute would cost an arm and a leg? Disney Cruise Line may have a solution for last minute planners. Many times, Disney Cruise Line releases promotional rates called IGT (Inside Guaranteed), OGT (Oceanview Guaranteed) and VGT (Verandah Guaranteed). Disney Cruise Line Discount

Granted, you may receive a lower fare if you book as soon as Disney releases their new itineraries, but many people have a hard time planning that far in advance. If you happen to discover you have extra vacation days at work or you just need a little time away, these fares may be right up your alley.  They are usually quite a discount from the regular fares that you would book last minute.

Disney generally releases these fares after the pay in full date, which for most sailings and stateroom categories, that is 75 days prior to sailing. However, they have been known to release them prior to the pay in full date.

In exchange for the discounted fares, you agree to a few things when you book an IGT, OGT or VGT rate:

  1. These rates are only applicable to new bookings.
  2. You are agreeing to book a stateroom category vs. a specific stateroom. For example, if you book an OGT, Disney will book you in a stateroom that is at least an Oceanview based on availability. You could possibly get bumped up to a Verandah, but you would not be moved down to an inside stateroom.
  3. Your stateroom assignment may include an obstructed view.
  4. In most cases, you will know your stateroom about 30 days prior to departure.
  5. The GT rates cannot be combined with any other discount, such as an onboard booking discount
  6. You are also agreeing to pay in full at the time of booking and you cannot cancel. Disney Cruise Line Discount

If you are looking for a last-minute vacation, reach out to one of our Me and The Mouse Travel Specialists and they will be able to help you with the next step.

Janene Jaroscak

Travel Specialist

Looking for a new way to experience the magic of Disney, Marvel, and cruising? Disney Cruise Line and Marvel have teamed up to present you with Marvel Day at Sea. This fun cruise is for the superhero lover in your family. Your family will be able to discover Marvel’s superheroes, comics, films, and more!

One epic day. Seven select sailings.


If you’re interested in sailing on one of the seven select trips, contact a Me and The Mouse agent today.