It all started with … a mouse? Well, yes, but it also started with a family visit to a local carousel in Griffith Park, California. Sitting on a park bench, Walt imagined a special place a whole family could visit and enjoy together. A Walk in Walt’s Footsteps takes you step by step with a very hands-on Walt Disney as he envisioned and created a very magical new world, Disneyland.

Meeting up at the guided tour booth at the entrance to Main Street, U.S.A., you are greeted by your guide and welcomed into a small group of fellow guests. Groups are generally less than twenty people so you can stay tight and stick together as your guide walks you through some of Walt’s favorite areas. Everyone is fitted with an earpiece so the guide is able to walk with you, pointing things out and explaining the history and decision-making behind various areas.

You will spend time in Fantasyland as well as New Orleans Square, two areas Walt had huge involvement in. You can feel like a VIP as your guide walks you past lines of some of the most iconic attractions where you board immediately. On our tour, we experienced Alice in Wonderland and the Haunted Mansion and got a bit of history and trivia about these areas that added to the fun.

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The tour usually visits one of two rarely seen areas in the park – Walt’s apartment above the firehouse on Main Street, or the family apartment – also known as the Dream Suite – which sits perched atop Pirates of the Caribbean overlooking the Rivers of America. The Dream Suite was our treat for the day, and it was more than I had imagined it might be.

Over the years, this area has been converted for different uses. Walt never actually got to stay here as he passed away before it was completed. It was designed for Walt’s family and also as a space to entertain his guests (in combination with Club 33). In the early 90’s, I remember walking through the rooms as it was set up as an art gallery of original drawings and Disney history. The Dream Suite now is quite a lavish and charming apartment complete with parlor, guest bedrooms, luxurious bathrooms, and enchanted details that will surprise and delight any guest. You will have to walk in Walt’s footsteps to see for yourself!

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While the visit to the Dream Suite was definitely an amazing opportunity, the highlight of the tour for me personally was our last stop. A bit more backstory and one of Walt’s favorite songs playing through the earpieces left everyone in our group affected and moved, many to tears.

We ended with a special lunch (pre-selected before the tour began) with our tour mates at the Jolly Holiday Bakery (one of my favorite places to stop for a bite to eat). We had our final opportunities to ask questions and chat with each other and our guide. We were each handed a beautiful collectible pin to commemorate the tour. A perfect ending to an incredible tour.

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This tour is great both for a first-time visit, giving you an introduction and details of Disneyland that most guests do not experience, and also as a moving journey for guests like myself who had literally visited Disneyland over a hundred times before ever taking a tour.

That old bench from Griffith Park now sits where you can see it inside the Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln attraction, and the old carousel? Still turning in Griffith Park!

Nancy Wideman

Travel Specialist

Whether it’s your 1st or your 51st visit – there’s always something new to try!

You have your Disney World vacation planned and booked, but want to explore options to enhance your Disney experience.  There are an abundance of “extras” that can be added to your reservation to make it even more magical.

Disney Hopper Plus – To explore activities outside of the 4 theme parks, you can add the Hopper Plus ticket. The Plus option will give you access to Blizzard Beach and Typhoon Lagoon Water Parks! As well as, both Disney miniature golf courses, ESPN Sports Complex and Disney’s Oak Trail Golf Course. The number of visits is determined by the number of days of park tickets you have included in your package.

Water Sports – Enjoying water time doesn’t stop at the pools and water parks. Enjoy activities such as parasailing, wakeboarding, tubing, water-skiing, personal watercraft rentals and fishing at the Sammy Duvall’s Water Sports Centre at the Contemporary Resort.

Memory Maker – This is the perfect way to save your memories in the park. Memory Maker will capture all pictures taken by a Disney Photographer and on select rides. For my family, Memory Maker combined with our phone camera was a huge help. We were able to avoid lugging (or losing) our expensive camera in the park and on rides.

Deluxe Dining PlanExtra Magic at Disney WorldIf you visit Disney to enjoy the outstanding food options, you should highly consider this addition! Upgrading your dining plan to the Deluxe Dining Plan will include 3 Meals (table service or quick service). This is a popular meal plan for adult only vacations when you want to take in some of the signature dining options.

Disney Tours – For frequent visitors to Disney World that are looking for a different type experience, try one of the many tour options available. Some have minimum age requirements that your Me and The Mouse Travel Specialist will review with you. An example of some of the tours include:

  • Wild Africa Trek – For further information, read more about one of our Travel Specialists experience, HERE!
  • Keys to the Kingdom Tour – Brings you on a walking tour of Magic Kingdom and learn about the history and hidden gems of the park including access to the underground tunnels (Utilizers). Read more HERE!
  • Disney’s Family Magic Tour – A fun 2-hour guided scavenger hunt through Magic Kingdom discovering surprises throughout the park. Extra Magic at Disney World

Car Rental – Since you are headed to Florida, this is a great opportunity to take a day and head to the beach. You can get to either coast in 1 – 1 ½ hours. A complimentary shuttle will pick you up at your resort and bring you to the Car Care Center where your Alamo rental car will be waiting for you. Your Me and The Mouse agent can include a car rental in your resort package.

Contact a Me and The Mouse Travel Specialist, today! We will be happy to assist you with any extras you would like to add to your vacation to make it a memorable trip!

Janene Jaroscak

Travel Specialist

Walt Disney World is known for its ‘magical feeling’ that guests experience while visiting the parks. The magic is created in a variety of ways unbeknownst to guests. Many guests refer to their ‘magical experiences’ as getting sprinkled with Pixie Dust.  How is this ‘magical feeling’ created?  Where does the Pixie Dust come from?  What are the secrets of Walt Disney World?

To help answer those questions and a few more, I booked a Keys to the Kingdom tour at Magic Kingdom.  This tour is a five hour walking tour around the Magic Kingdom park which details the creation of the park, hidden secrets and much more.  You’ll need a park ticket and paid reservation for the tour to participate.  This attraction is only for guests 16 years and older.

Our tour started at the front of the park with meeting Walt Disney. We didn’t meet the ‘real’ Walt Disney but we got to listen to the story of how Walt envisioned his dreams while standing next to the iconic statue of Walt Disney and Mickey Mouse.

Partner Statue

As we walked down Main Street, our guide explained the details about the writing on the main street buildings.  Who are those people and why were their names painted on the windows?  All of this was explained along with a few more ‘magical’ pieces of information. Many guests have heard rumors about things that occur in the parks after guests leave like the tale of feral cats being released at night to keep the mice away.  These tales of course are not true but the rumor of their being an underground tunnel under Main Street IS TRUE!

Main Street Window

On your tour you will get to travel down to the underground tunnels and see how some of the ‘magic’ is created.  The tunnels are known as ‘utilidors’ (utility corridors) and are comprised of offices, wardrobe department, cafeterias, and salon.  Before a character ever steps foot on main street, they are dressed, groomed and transported to the correct spot of the park using the underground tunnels. The map shows how the tunnels go through and around the entire MK.

Tunnel Map

Jessie on her way back to the tunnels after her meet ‘n’ greet with guests.
Jessie on her way back to the tunnels after her meet ‘n’ greet with guests.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

You’ll also get to walk on to some of the attractions from an insider’s point of few and learn about the details behind the creation of those rides.  Your tour will end with a delicious lunch and you’ll be presented with a special gift only given to those who take the tour.

On your next trip to Disney, take note of where the characters go when they are done greeting guests or how many Disney cast members you see leaving the park by the front gate.  You’ll be surprised with what things you’ll learn.

To book your tour you can contact Me and the Mouse Travel Agent at www.meandthemouse.com.

Roxanne Genovese

Travel Specialist

All my dreams the night before were all about the tour even though I didn’t really know what to expect. My husband and I had planned the Trek months before our vacation, and the kids were completely in the dark. We got up early for our pre-park tour (which was also great because we were allowed to wander around Disney’s Animal Kingdom before the general public got in!) and headed straight for the park.

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We were greeted by one of the guides dressed in his safety equipment, and the kids quickly figured out we were up to something. The guide gave us a brief rundown of what we would be experiencing before sending us on our way to get our gear. After storing our belongings in lockers, we each were fitted with a safety vest and harness, and our cameras and glasses were all secured to our vests. We were also supplied with a water bottle to help stay hydrated during the 3 hour trek.

We had two wonderful guides to accompany our small group (tour groups are limited to 12 people, so you get to know your guides and fellow adventurers!) who were able to tell us about the animals we encountered, habitats, and Disney’s conservation programs. Andy and Bryn were very friendly, excited for the adventure with our group, and they got to know each of us (and remembered all our names!) very quickly. They were also pretty funny, and I think everyone in our group enjoyed their company. They also had a camera to take beautiful photos of all the wildlife we encountered as well as making sure there were plenty of photos of all of us on the adventure. (All the photos – over 200 of them! – are included in the package!)

We started in an aviary and through the research center at the Harambe Wildlife Reserve before taking a private dirt path up a gently sloping hill. At the top, we met a guide who was a hippo expert and could talk with us about the hippos’ habitat, behavior and interactions with other hippos in the reserve, and answer any questions we had. We stood just feet above two large male hippos while they were treated to lettuce which provided a great close-up view of my favorite creatures. As we were enjoying our experience so close to these magnificent animals, the Kilimanjaro Safari vehicles passed by in the distance for a brief glance at the hippos before moving on. We were definitely enjoying a VIP tour!

Next, we had to carefully cross two rope bridges over huge crocodiles to get to another vantage point where we could really get some more close-up looks with our crocodile expert guide. The rope bridges were what I was worried about with my youngest, not sure if he would be able to make the cross over alone. Silly me – this ended up being his favorite part!

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On to a private vehicle where we were able to drive through the savanna and make stops along the way when we observed animals. (The Safari vehicles did not share these special look-out areas, so we were free to park and stand up to look around and get great photos). We drove to a private outdoor patio overlooking the savanna where we could watch elephants while we were treated to a delicious African-inspired morning snack. This was another thing I was not sure my kids would take to, but they both loved the foods and juice prepared for our group which included fruit salad, prosciutto and cheese, dried fruit, yogurt, salmon roulade, and more. It was all packaged beautifully and included an edible flower which adorned the tasty treats.

We were driving back through the savannah when my son asked if we were almost done. Our guide responded that we were nearly done, thinking he’d perhaps had enough. “I don’t want it to end yet!” was his reply.

In our group, there were adventurers from 11 to the well-retired. We had two families (ours with younger children and another with an older child), newlyweds, and two sisters who met at Disney before heading back to their own home states. We all had fun joking and chatting together.

The Wild Animal Trek was a splurge treat for us, but it was the highlight of our trip. We met wonderful people, got to see areas of the reserve that the average person doesn’t get to see, we got very close to some amazing and dangerous animals, and we enjoyed our time adventuring as a family. It was absolutely a special experience that our family will remember forever.

Nancy Wideman

Travel Specialist