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

 

On a recent visit to the Magic Kingdom we encountered the Main Street Philharmonic. I will be honest, we have seen countless parades that include them and have often seen them playing along Main ​S​tweet​ USA​, but this was the first time we stopped to enjoy their performance. In fact, we were trying to head to Tomorrowland for our expiring fastpass. The kids were very engaged listening and watching them perform. They quickly sat down and asked to stay for their performance. We almost even missed our fastpass, but no one seemed to mind.

The Main Street Philharmonic is a 12 piece brass and percussion band. As we were approaching them, they were playing traditional Christmas songs. There were even a couple of small children that were dancing in front of them as they played. In between songs, members of the group would step forward and speak. They would explain what they would be playing next and even asked for requests!! We truly enjoyed their medleys, especially the Christmas songs. They are a small but mighty band and their music filled the air in front of Cinderella’s ​C​astle. Each member was introduced throughout their performance and many humorous puns were shared!

The band played for approximately 20 minutes before they headed back up Main street. Although their times and/or locations of their performances are not published, one of the band members did verbalize to the audience when and where their next performance would be. Although, this was not our first time hearing them play, it was our first time taking the time to stop, listen and enjoy! They are a classic Disney entity and one that I am certain we will stop to enjoy again soon​.

What song are you looking forward to hearing the Mainstreet Philharmonic perform on your next visit?

Your Me and the Mouse Travel Specialist is ready to assist you in planning for your next vacation!

Missy Zolecki

Travel Specialist

 

“It’s a Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow……………”  If you are singing along at this point, you are familiar with my favorite classic attraction at Walt Disney World.  While some may walk by this classic attraction, this is a “MUST DO” on every visit to the Magic Kingdom for my family.

Walt Disney’s Carousel of Progress was personally created by Walt Disney for the 1964-65 New York World’s Fair.  In 1975, the attraction moved to its current location in Tomorrowland at Magic Kingdom.  This nostalgic attraction holds a special place in many people’s hearts because it is one of  the only attractions at Walt Disney World to have been touched by Walt Disney himself.

The Carousel of Progress exemplifies Walt’s love of history and progress.  This attraction highlights the industrial advances over the past century and how they have changed everyday living for the American family.

While this show does not typically have a long wait, take time to watch the pre-show video before entering the theater.  The video talks about the history of the attraction and includes clips of Walt explaining the attraction on his tv show.   If the theater isn’t full, I recommend sitting in the center section of any available row.  The show has innovative seating, where the audience’s seats rotate around a stationary central stage from scene to scene like a carousel.

After the brief introduction, the audience begins to move to the first scene as the attraction’s theme song, “There’s a Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow” begins to play.  Feel free to sing along!  As the scene opens, we meet John, the father of a typical American family living at the “turn of the century”.   We learn how advances like gas lamps, cast-iron stoves, iceboxes and a gramophone have made the pre-electric era an easy time for families.

As we move to the next act, we find ourselves in the summer of the 1920’s.  John shares modern conveniences like the electric iron, the radio, the sewing machine and the light bulb!  Life doesn’t seem like it could get any better.

John explains to the audience that he is now part of the “Rat Race” as we move the next scene which takes place in the Autumn of the 1940’s. Automatic dishwashers, televisions and refrigerators that hold more are just some of the wonders that make life in suburbia even easier for the American Family.

In the final scene that takes place in the Present, the entire family is enjoying high-tech innovations include virtual-reality games, high-definition televisions and voice-activated household appliances.

The Carousel of Progress is a classic attraction and is on my list of “Favorite Attractions”.  This 20-minute Audio-Animatronic show is a great opportunity to get out of the sun (or rain), as well as great place for little ones to rest.   As you look back in the past and take a glimpse the future,  sit back and enjoy Walt’s vision and feel free to sing along ………. “There’s a great big beautiful of tomorrow and Tomorrow’s just a dream away….”

Tressa Krippel

Travel Specialist

I know, I know, this sounds like crazy talk – but doing “4 Parks in 1 Day” is doable…even if you have only 1 day to do it, versus multiple park days.  It’s giving brief attention to each park, for what you absolutely want to do…all while understanding that there will be a lot of travel, both on foot and between the parks.

Let’s set you up for success, with realistic expectations, and a time frame.  

  1. REMINDER: There is no guarantee you will get to do everything in every park.  Choose those must do’s (2-3 attractions, characters, or shows) in each park.
  2. Pre-planning is key. Look at park hours. Do you want to do early morning magic hours?  Would you rather do late night?  Would you rather not do either, and hit those ‘magic hour’ parks midday instead?  Find what works for you.  Put each park in order.
  3. Book your Fast Passes for the park in which you want to do the MOST.  This will maximize your time in that park, and move you through quicker!  
  4. If it coordinates, make the park you made the Fast Passes in be the first park you visit in the day. That way you can utilize extra Fast Passes later in the day.
  5. Whichever park you pick first, be there at park opening/rope drop (or as early as you are able).  You can accomplish a lot at that early time, even without your Fast Passes.  
  6. Remember that you can adjust Fast Passes for other experiences if your choices end up being shorter waits than anticipated!
  7. Don’t focus on table service meals. Quick service, and ‘walkable’ foods/drinks, will help you get through the parks faster.
  8. Utilize in-park transportation.  It is much quicker than your own. (water taxi’s may delay your time frame, so plan accordingly)
  9. If you get side-tracked, or something keeps you from your set plan – be flexible enough to modify your plans on the fly if necessary.
  10. Finally, realize that you will spend every bit of 12-14 hours in the parks that day – especially if you have utilized Extra Magic Hours.  Wear comfortable shoes and clothing!

Now, what if you have elementary aged kiddos?  You know your kids better than anyone – and the list above can be adapted for kids as well.  

  • Add their list of ‘must-do’s’ in the mix – can they be achieved in a timely manner too? Or will you compromise for a little of each?
  • Are your kiddos early risers or night owls?  Do they need naps, etc?  This must go into your pre-planning as well.  
  • If you don’t want to go back to the hotel for naps – perhaps longer, air conditioned, attractions (i.e Spaceship Earth, a 3D show, etc) may be a good alternative ‘down time’ – and should be figured into your schedule.
  • Figure in ‘melt down’ times. It will happen. We know, and understand.  Just plan for it 🙂
  • And realize, at the end of the night, you may be carrying them out, sleeping in your arms!

Kiddos in strollers?  Well, while it is doable to do all 4 in a day with a stroller aged kiddo – It may be better to plan for 4 parks, but to stop when it’s appropriate for your family.  If they can sleep through anything, bring the stroller along!  

On our last trip, we squeezed 3 of the 4 parks into our day.  A table service meal, and a longer line to see Mickey than anticipated bogged us down.  Had we only done quick service, and utilized a Fast Pass for Mickey – we could have gotten to all 4.  Lesson learned!

Want to plan a jam packed day? Contact your Me and The Mouse Travel Specialist today!

Amy Sowinski

Travel Specialist

 

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

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

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

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

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

Missy Zolecki

Travel Specialist

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ryan Gross

Travel Specialist

 

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

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Megan Thompson

Travel Specialist

Who in your family would enjoy seeing Mickey’s Royal Friendship Faire? Why everyone, of course. This is a show for the whole family. Please be sure to bring mothers, fathers, sisters, and brothers. Children of all ages will love this entertaining performance so make sure Grandma and Grandpa tag along too! Join Mickey Mouse and his pals in this dazzling stage show at Magic Kingdom.

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Where can you find this performance by Mickey and his friends old and new? Mickey’s Royal Friendship Faire is performed in front of Cinderella’s Castle on the Castle Forecourt Stage, and is presented several times daily. Please check for exact times on the My Disney Experience mobile app and/or pick up a Times Guide located at the entrance of Magic Kingdom. Just be aware because this show is held outdoors, it is subject to cancellation for inclement weather. Performance times are subject to change so be sure to use the above resources for up-to- date performance times.

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Why should you take time out of your busy day at Magic Kingdom to see a show when there are so many fun rides waiting for you? Because Mickey and his friends want you to experience everything Magic Kingdom has to offer. Mickey has invited so many of his friends to help him entertain you and your friends in this magical musical extravaganza. You can be sure that Minnie will be there along side of Mickey. Mickey has made so many friends through the years, you will get to see Donald and Daisy shake their tail feathers and Goofy adds a little comedy to the mix! Mickey has had these friends for years so they wanted to invite some new friends too. We know that Mickey always has new pals. So if any of you are Frozen fans, you will want to arrive early to get close to the stage because Anna and Elsa will be there and they would not dream of performing without their good friend, Olaf. While Olaf is so adorable and adds “cool” touches to the show, I wanted to reach out and give him a “warm hug” because he is one of my favorites. Olaf loves the attention he gets while performing Frozen favorites.

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Who else can you expect to come and sing-a- long? Tiana and friends arrive from the Bayou to entertain with music from The Princess and the Frog. A fabulous part of the show features Rapunzel and Flynn Ryder providing a lively singing and dancing performance that will make you want to clap your hands and stomp your feet and sing along with them as they share their “dreams” and memorable music from Tangled.

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This show is so cute, fun and entertaining, you will dance away from the stage singing the songs you just heard and will have a happy heart as you continue your adventure through Magic Kingdom. The costumes are amazing so be sure to have a camera ready to snap lots of photos. This show will add a lot of “Disney” magic to your day. If you have additional questions, please be sure to contact your Me and the Mouse Travel Agent. We are always here to help you!

Traci Perjak, Travel Specialist

Even though my husband and I have visited WDW dozens of times, he had NEVER had the privilege of enjoying MNSSHP!!! We remedied that by attending OPENING NIGHT 2017!!!

We arrived about 3:30pm and there were already party guests lined up to enter. Although the MNSSHP starts at 7pm, guests can enter the park as early as 4pm with their party tickets! We were able to enter using our annual pass, but later we checked in with a cast member in Tommorowland and receive our party bracelet, guide map and trick or treat bag! As we entered Magic Kingdom, the decorations put you in the Halloween spirit and many guests were dressed in their party bests! Make sure to read the costume rules here when you are planning:
(https://disneyworld.disney.go.com/faq/parks/dress/). Our first stop, the confectionary on Main Street to discover the Halloween themed treats. There were delicious cupcakes, cookies and rice cereal treats, but the pumpkin Mickey cake pop was our choice!! There were many special treats that were available during the party ONLY! Don’t worry if you have allergy concerns, they offer allergy friendly options too!

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When the party officially began, access to attractions were only allowed for guests with party wristbands. Cast members were dressed in Halloween themed attire. The treat locations were open and the lines were lengthy. We made the decision to walk back to Fantasyland to view the exclusive merchandise and pins that were being offered. I saw Daisy and Donald duck and Minnie in her Halloween costume and I had to get my photo with them. There are endless character meet-n- greet opportunities throughout Magic Kingdom, including meeting all 7 Dwarfs!!! The wait for the Dwarfs or Jack Skellington was averaging 3 hours!!!

The Hocus Pocus Villain Spelltacular was about to begin on the stage in front of the Castle. We chose to watch a later performance and decided to visit some of the treat locations while other party guests were lining up for the first performance of the Boo to You parade (9:15pm)! We did enjoy the Monstrous Scream-O- Ween Ball at the Rockettower Plaza Stage in Tomorrowland. Who doesn’t love dancing with Mike, Sulley and Boo?!!??

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We then headed over to the Main Street area to view the Happy Hallowishes Fireworks Spectacular! The projections on the castle, along with the fireworks and music make this a not-to- miss item for this party! Many guests leave after the fireworks, which allows for more availability for great viewing spots for the 11:15pm parade! It began to rain and the Hocus Pocus Villain Spelltacular was cancelled, but we were awaiting the parade. We had an excellent view of the parade. The parade music gets in your head and I am still singing it! The character interaction was one of the best I have ever experienced in a parade!

My top 5 not to miss activities at the MNSSHP are

1. Character Meet-n- greet
2. Boo to You Parade(11:15 pm)
3. Hallowishes Fireworks Spectacular
4. The Hocus Pocus Villain Spelltacular show
5. Treats(specialty desserts, popcorn in a mickey pumpkin refillable container
and trick or treating candy)

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Your Me and The Mouse Travel specialist is ready to help you plan your immersion into the Halloween Spirit!

Missy Zolecki
Travel Specialist

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Have you ever walked into one of the parks at Walt Disney World and wonder who those people were wearing the same outfit taking everyone’s picture?  They are actually photographers that are part of Disney’s PhotoPass.  They will take your pictures at some of the most memorable places and in front of some of the iconic landmarks of Walt Disney World.  Once they take your picture, they will scan your MagicBand or park ticket to automatically link it to your My Disney Experience account.  From there you can browse through all of the pictures that were taken and decide if you’d like to purchase any to download.

Walt Disney World Magic Shots

Instead of paying for individual photos, your best option is to include Disney’s Memory Maker with your vacation package.  The Memory Maker photo package lets you download all of the pictures that were taken by Disney’s PhotoPass photographers for one up front cost.  

Walt Disney World Magic Shots

Now, here’s something special that can happen when a Disney PhotoPass Photographer takes your picture.  It’s called a Magic Shot.  It combines the great photograph of you and your family with some Disney magic!  Before these Magic Shots were sprinkled throughout the parks and were sometimes hard to find.  

Walt Disney World Magic Shots

Disney’s now made them easy to find!  By visiting Disney PhotoPass Service Facebook page, and clicking on the Albums tab, there’s a photo album showing each park’s current Magic Shot offerings and where they can be found inside the parks.  It’s always updated and there will be more Magic Shots available during festivals and holidays.  

 

Whether you’d like to have a picture with Stitch, Figment or Sebastian, you’ll now be able to know before you head to the parks if they’re available and where to go to find them!  Magic Shots is certainly a great added feature to the PhotoPass service that you’ll surely not want to miss!

Are you ready to book your next Disney vacation? Contact a Me and the Mouse agent today! All of our agents are highly trained in Disney vacation planning!

Leigh Miller

Travel Specialist