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

 

 

Looking for something special for a diehard Harry Potter fan? Well, Celebrating Harry Potter at Universal Orlando Resort is just what you’ve been wanting. You can be part of a magical 3 day event presented by Warner Bros. and Universal Orlando Resort.

The event takes part January 26 to January 28, 2018. There’s a lot to see and do in this action packed 3 day event! Not only is there a Q&A session with 5 actors/actresses from the Harry Potter movies, but you’ll be able to learn some wand combat skills, hear from 2 graphic designers for the films, learn special effects secrets, and get sorted by the sorting hat. All of these activities and more will take place at both parks, so you’ll need to make sure you have a park to park ticket.

The best way to make sure you get the most of this 3 day event is the A Celebration of Harry Potter Premium Vacation Package. This package includes on-site hotel accommodations, park to park tickets, and guaranteed access to select event activities. It includes an exclusive autograph and photo session with select film talent, an evening reception at the Harry Potter Expo, breakfast at the Three Broomsticks, exclusive Evening at The Wizarding World of Harry Potter with desserts and one complimentary Butterbeer, not to mention a lot of other special inclusions.

By booking A Celebration of Harry Potter Vacation Package, you’re allowed early access to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. These sections of the parks will open an hour earlier to guests staying on property. With the extra hour, you’ll be able to access Hogsmeade and Diagon Alley with reduced crowd levels. Set against the backdrop of Universal Orlando’s amazing theme parks, you’ll explore The Wizarding World of Harry Potter™ – Hogsmeade™ at Universal’s Islands Of Adventure™ and Diagon Alley™ at Universal Studios Florida™. Experience Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey™, Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts™, and other thrilling attractions. Ride the Hogwarts™ Express* and travel between King’s Cross Station in Universal Studios and Hogsmeade™ Station in Islands of Adventure.

This is definitely on a must do list for a Harry Potter fanatic! There are many more experiences and magic that will happen over these 3 days than what’s mentioned above. We’d be happy to let you know of all of the special things that will be happening from Jan 26th to the 28th. Be sure to contact your Me and The Mouse Travel Specialist today!

Leigh Miller

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

 

Want to relive the time you rode the Hulk? Do you want to forever keep the moment you posed with a dinosaur? Consider adding My Universal Photos to your Universal package. I purchased this package on my last Universal trip and I absolutely loved all of the memories I get to keep forever. Here’s what you need to know:

Where do you purchase My Universal Photos? There are a few different ways to purchase My Universal Photos. My first recommendation would be to mention your interest to your Me and the Mouse Travel Specialist. He or she can add it to your package at the time of purchase for the best price. If you forget to add it early, there are several kiosks located throughout Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure that will add the photo package. Once purchased, you will receive a lanyard and a card that will be scanned at all photo locations to save your images.

Where can we have our photos taken? Universal photographers and photo stations are located through Universal Studios, Islands of Adventure and Volcano Bay. Character Meet and Greets like Transformers, Spider Man and Shrek are all photo locations, as well as the Raptor meet and greet in Islands of Adventure. There are also several areas within the parks with a timed, automated camera. I loved the ones at Volcano Bay! However, my absolute favorite moments are the ones you can’t capture yourself. The on-ride photos at Rip Ride Rockit, Hulk and Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey were a family favorite for us.

How much is it to add the photo package? There are two different options: a one-day pass is priced at $69.99 plus tax and the three-day pass is priced at $89.99 plus tax if purchased ahead of time. With the package, you get unlimited downloads of all of your photos, view and share through the Amazing Photos app, 1 free 4×6 and 5×7 printed photos as well as discounts on any other prints or photo products. It is definitely a great value!

For any questions regarding your Universal Orlando Vacation or to add My Universal Photos to your package, please speak to your Me and the Mouse Travel Specialist.

Julie Stewart

Travel Specialist

 

Walt Disney World is a very magical and the happiest place on earth. Everyone is happy and eager to help. There is a hidden gem of a restaurant that things just aren’t what they appear. The restaurant is Whispering Canyon Café located in Disney’s Wilderness Lodge Resort.

Walking up to the podium, you’re surrounded by headdresses of past Native American chiefs and other relics from past times. The restaurant’s theme has the same motif. It’s an Old Western eatery that has bottomless platters and chuck wagon favorites will please the whole gang.

Breakfast starts with an all you care to enjoy family platter that’s loaded with breakfast meats, eggs, potatoes and buttermilk biscuits. Lunch and dinner also have some finger licking delicious food. For lunch, there’s a very expansive menu to order from and come dinner time, the family platter isn’t to be beat. It has an all you care to enjoy selection of foods such as chicken, sausage, ribs and amazing sides.

If you’re lucky enough to be at Disney over Thanksgiving or Christmas, be sure to check out the special menu at Whispering Canyon Café. Be sure to make your reservations early, as they will fill up quick! Even though the food is spectacular, the hidden secret are the cast members. While these cast members have the same happy and eager to help attitude, they also have a reputation for sassing customers. They like to play along with the customers and get into some shenanigans. There’s also plenty of fun for the kids! They’re encouraged to play with Lincoln Logs, coloring, spirited sing-alongs and even hobby horse races.

Along with the rustic atmosphere, the fantastic food, and the good natured fun of the cast members, this is a restaurant that you don’t want to miss on your next trip. One tip though, be careful when you ask for refills!

Leigh Miller

Travel Specialist

 

We all want to share that special Disney magic with our children, but determining when is the right time to start visiting the Happiest Place on Earth can prove more complicated than a simple visit to meet Mickey Mouse. Here are some tips to help you decide if your child is ready to experience all the magic that the World of Disney has to offer!

When is the right time?

  • Everyone around you will offer differing opinions, but no one knows your child like you do. When determining if your child is ready, there are several things you should factor in:
  • Does your little one require a nap?
  • Do you have a schedule that is hard to stray from without major meltdowns?
  • Does your child have any special requirements that will require extra planning or
    assistance?

You can plan half days for playtime in the park which would accommodate naps back at the resort, or you can take an extended break in the park if the stroller is a comfortable enough spot for a rest. Allow a few extra days to build in rest and pool time to keep everyone happy. Disney can be go, go, go all day, or it can be very relaxed.

Disney is great when addressing special considerations, including allergies, sensory overload, visual and auditory impairments, mobility issues, and more. Working with a travel planner who specializes in Disney can help alleviate your fears and provide you with information to best plan according to your family’s specific needs. Disney designates these agencies as “Authorized Disney Vacation Planners.” Not only can your Me and the Mouse specialist plan anitinerary specific to you, they can reserve strollers, wheelchairs, and scooters, notate allergies on dining reservations, help identify attractions with height or health restrictions, and even map out quiet zones for breaks.

The Experience

It’s important to understand what a visit to a Disney park will be like with a little one:

  • You will go at a slower pace, taking time to simply rest and people watch, maneuvering the crowds with a stroller, and taking breaks for diaper changes and snack times.
  • Much of your attraction experiences will be limited to areas where rides tend to be slower and calmer for younger guests. If a day at Disney isn’t complete without your favorite thrill attractions, perhaps just the big kids should go, or take advantage of the rider swap option which allows the adults to take turns enjoying the larger rides while one adult stays back with the smaller children.
  • Parades will be a highlight for all of you as you watch your children’s expressions! For very young guests, catch the earlier parade, if possible, as it often gets harder to keep them awake and happy the later in the evening you go.
  • The Baby Care Centers will be a blessing. Use them! Each park has a baby care center where you can find a quiet spot to eat, change diapers, use the toddler-sized potties, and nurse your young one. You can also purchase forgotten supplies, like diapers and formula. Read more about the Baby Care Centers here!

Will your toddler remember their visit to the parks? Probably not. Honestly, it really will be for Mom and Dad to experience the magic of Disney with them. You WILL, however, have some amazing photo opportunities when they see their favorite characters, take their first train ride, or fly high on Dumbo!

You know your children. If they can handle a busy day out and about in town, then it’s time to start thinking about that first Disney vacation.

Special note: Admission is free to children under the age of three.

Nancy Wideman

Travel Specialist

The trip of a lifetime to the most Magical Place on Earth comes with a price tag, but with some tips and tricks, I can show you some ways to save several hundred dollars with some planning and minimal effort. In this month’s blog, I am going to discuss two credit cards that can save you a lot of money, for Disney and other vacations.

First, a word of caution, I only encourage the use of credit cards if you can use them responsibly. And if you can use them responsibly, then I highly encourage them for the rewards (sorry, Dave Ramsey)! The first recommendation that I will make to maximize your rewards is to put every expense on your credit card and pay it off monthly. I do a monthly budget, so I am not saying spend frivolously here, just buy what you normally buy.

My husband and I got married just last year and had the lofty goal of travelling like crazy before we started a family, so we decided to try and obtain a Southwest Companion Pass by utilizing the Southwest credit card. If you’re not familiar with the Companion Pass program, a Rapid Rewards member who has earned 110,000 points in one year can designate one person to fly with them for free wherever they fly in the year the Pass is earned, plus the following year. There are a few ways to earn it, but I’ll just tell you about the easiest.

Southwest offers up to 60,000 bonus points when you open one of their credit cards and spend between $2000 and $3000 (depending on the offer) in the first few months, putting you halfway to your goal. If you have a small business, you can also apply for the business credit card on the same Rapid Rewards number and go through the same process, getting you within a few thousand points of your goal very quickly. However, it’s not necessary to get both cards. We were able to earn a Companion Pass utilizing only one of the cards. Fair warning that there is an annual fee, but the benefits far outweigh the nominal fee in comparison. We haven’t paid for a single domestic flight this year as I get to fly for free everywhere my husband goes. Additionally, he booked all his flights from our bank of points. This little gem has saved us from buying 14 roundtrip tickets this year! Southwest flies into Orlando and just announced plans to fly to Hawaii in 2018 (hello, Aulani), so you can take one trip with the kids and one without!

In addition, Disney also features a few credit cards that are geared towards helping you save money towards your next Disney vacation, by offering special room rates, discounts on Disney merchandise and dining in the parks, and Disney Reward Dollars. The difference between the two cards is the annual fee; the Premier has a $49 fee and the regular card does not have a fee. The Premier earns you higher rewards, like $200 back after spending a certain amount, as opposed to $50 back on the regular card. In addition, the Premier card earns you 2% back in Disney Rewards Dollars in many categories whereas the Disney Visa only earns you 1% back. I think one of the coolest perks about this card though is the referral bonus. You can refer your friends to sign up for the Disney card, and for each friend who signs up, you can get $50 back, up to $500 per year.

From my point of view, $500 back plus free flights to Orlando puts you that much closer to Club level at the Grand Floridian! Happy saving!

Jen Morrison

Travel Specialist

Old Key West. Simply put, this charming resort is a hidden gem. As the original Disney Vacation Club (DVC) resort, it can sometimes be overlooked because of newer villa resorts Disney has built or expands upon. This is a do not miss resort! All the charm and small community feel you want is wrapped up for you here.

Theming

As the name of the resort would suggest, this resort’s theme takes in the feel of the Florida Keys! You’re surrounded by villas laid out in a sub-division style, great views of water and golf-course fairways, tropical sounds piped through, and a small community feel of the Conch Flats.

Rooms

The rooms at this location can be described in one word…spacious! Although this isn’t the only word I’d use, it was a key factor for me and my extended family.

It offers 4 room types:

1. Deluxe Studio: Sleeps up to 4; kitchenette; 376 sq ft
2. 1 Bedroom Villa: Sleeps up to 5; 942 sq ft**
3. 2 Bedroom Villa: Sleeps up to 9; 2 full bathrooms; 1,333 sq ft**
4. 3 Bedroom Grand Villa: Sleeps up to 12; 4 bathrooms; 2,022 sq ft**

**Full kitchen

That’s A LOT of room to spread out! With combinations of king beds, queen beds, sleeper sofas and sleeper chairs, there’s a cozy place for each guest to rest after a long day in the parks. They all have their own private balcony with views of the fairways, water, or woodland areas (no noisy street views)!

Only three of the 49 buildings have elevator access, so if you prefer the ground floor for ease, have your Me and the Mouse Agent make this request! Elevator buildings are reserved for DVC guests first.

Grounds

Size and Transportation: This resort is large, so walking casually to the lobby may not be something you will do, depending on the location of your building. Bus transportation to the parks and Disney Springs (boat transportation also available) stop at all 5 bus stops on property starting with Peninsular Road and ending at the Hospitality House. **The Disney Springs bus starts at the Hospitality House.

Hospitality House: This is where check-in, Olivia’s Café (table service), Good’s Food to Go (quick service), Gurgling Suitcase (bar), the Sandcastle pool, the boat to Disney Springs, and Conch Flats General Store are located. To get here, internal shuttles loop through OKW’s bus stops or take a park bus (last stop is the Hospitality House).

Pools: The Sandcastle Pool (main pool) is at the Hospitality House. There are also 3 smaller leisure pools located at South Point Road, Miller’s Road, and Old Turtle Pond Road (which has the Turtle Shack Snack Bar with a lot of the same offerings as Good’s Food to Go).

If you’re looking for less of a resort feel and more of a small-town atmosphere, this is the place to stay! The laid-back feeling while staying here can’t be beat. Especially larger families looking for more space, look no further than Old Key West!

Megan Thompson

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