If you haven’t stopped by Disney’s Hollywood Studios in the past few months then, you have haven’t noticed the big changes occurring in and around the park. With the addition of Star Wars and Toy Story lands, the park is undergoing extensive work. These two new themed lands will add approximately 20 acres to the park {& a LOT of extra fun}! We are so excited to see and experience the new extensions that will be happening in Florida. Here is an update of where things currently stand. P.S. You should get EXCITED!!

Starting inside the park and with the Star Wars addition, the Streets of America along with the backlot and car stunt show are no longer. A few buildings remain along the street but outside of that not much is there. There are mounds of dirt and the start of new ride buildings gearing up for the opening in 2019. Toy Story land is also under way with a planned opening in 2018, this section of the park will start near Toy Story Mania and circle around eventually to the Star Wars land. This should make a large loop around the park. 

 

There have been very few released details about each of the two lands and access inside of these construction areas are off limits for obvious reasons. However, there is a lot of information regarding the outside of the park including parking and the new entrance. Hollywood Studios has always had the smallest parking lot and has experienced issues lately with access off of Buena Vista Drive. That is all changing. {Wahoo!!} They are expecting a huge influx of attendance projected in the next two years. Disney has decided to add a new driving entrance that will be located off of Osceola Parkway. (See attached road drawings submitted by Disney)

Star Wars LandStar Wars Land

There will be a new interchange near Victory Way and Osceola at the ESPN Wide World of Sports entrance. This interchange will guide cards into the parking lot from an entire new direction. The parking lot is getting upgraded to accommodate the high traffic. By the looks of aerial photos the parking lot will nearly double in capacity with a private lot for Cast Members. Speculation is there will be a private bus route in the park too, limited entrance to guest cars only.

Star Wars Land

As you can see, work is moving along quickly at the Studios. In the coming months, I will post another update as much will be completed this summer and further details. Star Wars and Toy Story lands are expected to be announced at the D23 conference in Anaheim in July. Stay tuned!

You don’t have to wait until Star Wars and Toy Story lands are opened to the public to visit Disney World! Contact a Me and The Mouse agent today to book your trip to a Disney Destination!

Ryan Gross

Travel Specialist

Today, I am sharing with you 5 incredible places to meet Mickey Mouse at Walt Disney World.  What is a “Meet and Greet” you ask?  It is a designated spot to find Disney Characters.  Your family is able to meet with them, take pictures and get their autographs. Meeting a character is one of the best things you can do on your Disney Vacation! It is so much fun to get your picture, but you also get to experience their personality in real life {the characters do some pretty entertaining things!}. Take a look at my favorite spots to meet the Mouse himself!

 

5 Favorite Spots to Meet Mickey Mouse:

 

  1. Magic Kingdom – located on Main Street USA in the Town Square Theater5 Favorite Places to Meet Mickey at Walt Disney World

Meet Talking Mickey dressed as a magician at this location.  It is so fun interacting with your “favorite” mouse. If you’re lucky, he might even show you one of his magic tricks. 

 

  1. Epcot – located in Future World at the Epcot Character Spot

At this location, you will find lovable Mickey Mouse in his regular dapper attire. If you’re someone that is looking for a classic Mickey Mouse picture, this is where you should go! 

 

  1. Hollywood Studios – located on Commissary Lane – Red Carpet Dreams near the New Star Tours

Meet Mickey all dressed up as the Sorcerer’s Apprentice. 5 Favorite Places to Meet Mickey at Walt Disney World

 

  1. Animal Kingdom – located in Discovery Island – Adventurers Outpost

Meet Mickey the Explorer dressed as a safari guide to find a new adventure! This outfit might be my personal favorite {in addition to the classic}, and Minnie looks pretty cute as well! 

 

  1. Character Dining Location – “Chef Mickey” – located at the Contemporary Resort

Looking for a two for one opportunity? You can join Mickey {and Friends} while dining and celebrating! If you have a busy trip and want to make the most of your time, this might be right up your alley. You can enjoy delicious Disney dining and meet Mickey at the same time! Plus – Mickey is adorable dressed as a Chef. What more could you want? 

 

Ready to plan your trip to meet the mouse? Contact a Me and The Mouse agent, today!

 

Traci Perjak

Travel Specialist

A strategy for successfully navigating your next vacation!

Uncle "Tim" EffectOver the past several months, I have written many blogs about different strategies that my family has utilized to help make our visits to Walt Disney World successful {You can read those here & here!}. My oldest son, Matt, is living with Fragile X Syndrome. It is the leading cause of inherited mental impairment and leading known genetic cause of Autism.  My son often struggles with becoming overwhelmed by even preferred activities, and this can lead to less than desirable behaviors.  We have used many strategies as I have discussed in previous blogs.  This blog is focused on our most successful strategy.  We affectionately call it “The Uncle Tim effect”!


Over the years, we noticed a marked difference in my son. When we would have someone else visiting the parks with use, he would have a better ability to manage his environment and to keep the undesirable behaviors under control.  We have been very fortunate over the years to experience the parks with a wide variety of friends and family.  Our expectations are realistic {you can read about that, here}. W
e are continually aware and mindful that Matt may be reaching his limit and in need of a break.  

Uncle Tim Saves the Day

When Uncle Tim is with us, things are different. Uncle "Tim" EffectWhen a preferred person is with us, Matt is incredibly motivated to be a part of the experiences much longer.  For example, when we visit with my immediate family only we know 3-4 attractions/hours are his limit before he needs a break, a meal, a bus ride, or we have to pull out the ultimate reward, a ride on the monorail.  Although, Matt may not want to participate/ride all the attractions that others may prefer, when we have Uncle Tim with us he patiently waits.  On our most recent day trip, we visited two parks over nearly 11 hours!!!!  No undesirable behaviors, no extra breaks and not even one ride on the monorail!  

A vacation to a Disney destination, Universal or Disney Cruise Line is not inexpensive.  There is no value you can put on the experience, in my opinion.  The memories, the excitement, the wonder and awe we experience together as a family will be with us for the rest of our lives.  Bringing a support person(s) with you will only enhance your experience and well worth the additional investment.  This concept is not exclusive to families who have special needs and can be beneficial to a wide variety of visitors and families.  

Uncle "Tim" Effect

So maybe you don’t have an actual Uncle Tim in your life! However, I’m sure you have a family friend, a preferred peer, or even an Uncle Tom! They would love to accompany you on your next trip. It would be an honor to be asked to be the support person for your family. They would know they were making a difference in your family’s next vacation experience!  

I look forward to helping you plan your most successful strategy for your next vacation. I know my family has been able to experience more because of the careful time that has gone into planning each of our vacations.

 

Ready to plan your next Disney Destination Vacation? Contact a Me and The Mouse agent, today!

 

Missy Zolecki

Travel Specialist

 

4th of July at Disney WorldDoes your summer vacation happen to fall on July 4th or were you wanting to celebrate Independence Day at one of the most magical places on earth?  Well, you’ve picked a great time and place to see something special!  Throughout all of the parks, Walt Disney World will be celebrating the 4th with all of the Disney touches.  

Only at Magic Kingdom can you celebrate July 4th on the 3rd.  That’s right, they will have 2 special firework shows.  Celebrate America – A Fourth of July Concert in the Sky fireworks will be shown on July 3rd and 4th.  These fireworks are sure to amaze you as well as celebrate our country’s birthday.  

4th of July at Disney WorldThe flag retreat is another hidden gem that happens at Magic Kingdom every night at 5pm.  Make sure you put this on your list of must do’s as well. You’ll want to head to the town square on Main Street USA to watch Cast Members retire Magic Kingdom’s American flag for the night. This special event is specifically to thank veterans for their service, sacrifice and dedication to protecting our country. 

 

Hopping over to Epcot, you’ll enjoy some other festive 4th of July happenings.  Throughout the day, Mickey, Donald, and Goofy will appear in their patriotic costumes! You can find them near the promenade by The American Adventure in World Showcase.  While you are there, be sure to stick around for the various 4th of July concerts! These will be taking place at the American pavilion. Then following IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth, there will be a patriotic firework finale! This special show is called, The Heartbeat of Freedom

leigh3

At each of the parks, there will be special Independence Day merchandise and treats available! You’ll not want to miss out on these limited editions! Since the celebration is so big, July 3rd and 4th tends to be crowded days at the parks. However, do not let that detour you from spending the holiday at Walt Disney World. {Arriving early to the parks can help you get in extra activities before the crowd gets big!} You won’t want to miss this special Walt Disney World 4th of July Celebration! 

Want to book your Fourth of July at Disney World? Contact a Me and The Mouse agent today! If you are a local Florida resident, we would still love to assist you in your planning!

Leigh Miller

Travel Specialist

The anticipation of a Disney Cruise can be grand. There’s so much to plan, and for most travelers, it is a once-in-a-lifetime experience.  Your Me and The Mouse Travel Specialist will guide you in the best options for your travel party: before, during, and after your cruise.  One such option, is visiting the Walt Disney World Resort for a few days before embarking on your cruise that leaves from a Floridian port!

 

There are benefits to visiting the Most Magical Place On Earth BEFORE your cruise… Here are the Top Five!

 

  1.  5 Reasons To Visit Walt Disney World BEFORE Your Disney Cruise!You will be too relaxed (and tired) to visit the Walt Disney Resort after your cruise!

Cruising changes your mood, and changes your routine, to a Hakuna Matata lifestyle!  To then switch gears and amp up for a theme park visit is exhausting. Rest your tired feet, be pampered, and end your vacation refreshed!

 

  1.  By arriving a few days early, you will not have to worry about trip delays with airlines or traffic.

Day-of arrivals for cruises can be extremely stressful, as any major delay could keep you from boarding your cruise on time, or could prevent you from boarding at all!

 

  1. 5 Reasons To Visit Walt Disney World BEFORE Your Disney Cruise!You will experience world-class amenities at the Walt Disney World Resort hotel of your choice!

Not only will you enjoy perfectly themed rooms and resorts to fit your needs, but if you are flying, you will experience free Magical Express transportation from Orlando International Airport to your resort.  Transportation from your resort hotel to the port can also be arranged, but for a nominal fee, either with Disney transportation or with a private car service.  All of which, your Travel Specialist can assist with!

 

  1.  Room and package discounts often make a WDW stay cheaper than an off-site hotel!

And who doesn’t like to save money on vacation?  

 

  1. If you are that close to the Magic…why not?

5 Reasons To Visit Walt Disney World BEFORE Your Disney Cruise!Get the chance to experience an attraction, dine at a restaurant, or meet a character you’ve always dreamed of!  There’s no better time to do so!  Whether your first visit or your umpteenth, your Walt Disney World memories will stay with you forever.  Kids, and the “Kids-at-Heart”, agree that the opportunity to visit WDW along with the Disney Cruise was a great decision.  Every Disney experience is unique and worthwhile! Why not combine the best of both worlds and make unforgettable memories on Land and at Sea?  Especially if this is a once-in-a-lifetime trip!

 

You’re never too old to experience all the Magic that Disney has to offer!  Let your Me and The Mouse Travel Specialist guide you through a few easy steps to add your Walt Disney World experience to the start of your cruise vacation, and add more memories that will last a lifetime! If you’re not yet connected with a Me and The Mouse agent, visit our contact page, and we’d love to pair you with one of our incredible specialists!

 

Amy Sowinski

Travel Specialist

Returning this Summer with NEW Magic!

A few of the iconic Disneyland attractions will be returning to the park this summer! Disneyland Railroad and the Rivers of America will both reopen with new magic and fun! Take a look at the artistic rendering {courtesy of Walt Disney Imagineering} of the new north bank of the Rivers of America! It will feature a gorgeous new waterfront and an elevated trestle over which the classic Disneyland Railroad will travel. You will not want to miss out on this experience!Disneyland Railroad & Rivers of America

The Rivers of America will celebrate several famous rivers including the: Mississippi, Columbia, Missouri, Rio Grande, and Columbia Gorge! It will feature magnificent waterfalls and vegetation. The Big Thunder River Waterfall and Twin Sisters Waterfall will welcome five new, and incredible, waterfalls along the Rivers of America. Guests will be able to see these sights while on board the Mark Twain Riverboat, Sailing Ship Columbia and Davy Crockett Explorer Canoes!

However, if you don’t want to experience these gorgeous falls up close on the water, you can still see all of the beauty while aboard the Disneyland Railroad. The railroad with travel across the new and magnificent trestle. You will experience a breathtaking view of the new waterfalls {be sure to have your camera ready!}. Disneyland Railroad & Rivers of America

While there are lots of new additions to these classic rides, there are still some familiar aspects that will make you feel right at home. You will see several familiar faces along the Rivers of America as well as throwbacks to Frontierland’s past. The Indian Village will return, but will be in a new location. It will include a more prominently featured Shaman! He will tell the story of how the hummingbird taught the Indian chief to make a flute.

We are so excited to see these new changes to a few of our favorite classic rides. Disney has yet to announce the opening dates for these attractions. We will keep you posted as soon as we know!

Ready to head to Disneyland right now? Contact a Me and The Mouse agent today! We’d love to help take the stress from your vacation planning!

Woohoo!! Your cruise is booked but now you are wondering how you’re going to get to Port Canaveral. No worries – we’re here to help! It is highly recommended that you fly in at least one day prior to your cruise!  This may impact the means of transportation you chose. Here are a few options to consider.

Disney Cruise Line Transportation

Transportation to and from Port CanaveralDisney Cruise Line shuttles passengers from the airport (MCO) to the port. The cost of the ride is $35/person each way, however it only runs the day of embarkation and debarkation.

If you are flying in the night before and staying at a local hotel and are utilizing this option, I would suggest staying near the airport. The Hyatt Regency is located inside the airport and will be an easy elevator ride down to the bus. Otherwise, a hotel that provides shuttle service to and from the airport is also an easy option. Simply catch the shuttle back to the airport the morning of the cruise.

Renting a car

Some rental car companies have rental locations near the port. This brings a few options. You can either rent the car at the airport and park at the port or you can return the car to the rental location in Cocoa Beach and then pick up another vehicle on your return. The second option will save on parking fees, but will add an additional step since you will need to get the rental shuttle to get to and from the rental location to the port. It’s a simple step, but does add a little time.

Private Transfer

If you have 4 or more people in your party, your Me and The Mouse Travel Specialist will be able to arrange a private transfer company. It will be approximately the same cost as Disney transfers. The benefit of the private transfer company provides you flexibility to be picked up at a time that you want and arrive at the port at your convenience. Transportation to and from Port Canaveral

Also, if you fly in the night before, a private transfer company can pick you up at the airport and bring you to a hotel in Cocoa Beach. Your Me and The Mouse Travel Specialist will be able to help locate a hotel that provides a shuttle from the hotel to the port the morning of your cruise.

All Me and The Mouse Travel Specialists are highly trained! They would love to help you find the best transportation option for your cruise vacation. Ready to make the move to take a Disney Cruise? Contact a Me and The Mouse agent today! We’d LOVE to plan your dream Disney vacation!!

Janene Jaroscak

Travel Specialist

Learn all about The World of Avatar!

 

Alpha Centauri Expeditions {ACE} has made it possible for humans to explore Pandora.  Unique expeditions and breathtaking views are around every corner in the Valley of Mo’ara on Pandroa.

Pandora the World of Avatar - Na'vai River Journey

Pandora features floating mountains, gentle waterfalls, bioluminescent rainforest and amazing, flying creatures known as Banshees or “Ikran” by the Na’vi.  Stepping into the land of Mo’ara, guests are immediately transformed by the beauty of the flora that surrounds them.   The plant life is diverse in both color and size, as well as in purpose.  For example, Vein Pods act as sponges and help maintain stability in the environment.  Puffball Trees are important plants on Pandora for detoxifying the atmosphere.  Panopyra resemble Earth’s jellyfish and captures water and minerals from the dew and fog.  Guests will have the opportunity to interact with different elements in nature as well. For example, when you rub a native plant, the Flaska Reclinata, it releases its spores into the air.

Pandora the World of Avatar - Na'vai River Journey

There is so much to take in and enjoy as you explore Pandora.  A Na’vi-built drum circle, containing instruments, is available for guests to play.  Wilderness Explorers will find new challenges and badges to collect as they interact with the land in Pandora as well.  You may even encounter tour guides from Alpa Centauri Expeditions {ACE}, scientists from the Pandora Conservation Initiative {PCI}, or even a unique expat or two, who have opened a refreshing drink stand on Pandora {I recommend the Night Blossom}.

Pandora the World of Avatar - Na'vai River Journey

In the evenings, the land transforms into an even more spectacular scenery with bioluminescent plants radiating light throughout Pandora.   You’ll notice sights and sounds from nocturnal creatures as you walk the paths and explore the mountains of the Valley of Mo’ara.   Animal Kingdom Park has become a full day park with the addition of the Pandora- The World of Avatar, as well as new nighttime offerings.

Pandora the World of Avatar - Na'vai River Journey

 

If you are ready to take the expedition to Pandora, contact your Me and The Mouse Travel specialist to book your trip to Walt Disney World!

Tressa Krippel

Travel Specialist

Quick Service Dining at Pandora – The World of AVATAR

The Satuli Canteen is a the Quick Service Dining location in Pandora:  The World of Avatar.  It has a unique menu of healthy dishes to satisfy all travelers exploring the Valley of Mo’ara on Pandora.
Situated between the Flight of Passage and the Na’vi River Journey,  this former RDA (Resource Development Administration) mess hall is now a peaceful resting spot adorned with the art of the Na’vi and supplying travelers with all the comforts of home.  Travelers will find cuisine inspired by their journey through the Valley of Mo’ara.  Satuli Canteen is considered a fast-casual restaurant on the Quick Service Dining Plan. Our meals were served off a china bowls, reminiscent of flora of the natural habitat.  Guests will find silverware to dine with, as well as indoor and outdoor seating.  Self-serve drink stations are also available.

 

Pandora: The World of Avatar Quick Service RestaurantSince I do not have an adventuresome palette, I was hesitant that I would find a meal that I would enjoy.  I was pleasantly surprised to find multiple offerings for even the pickiest of diners.  The “Create Your Own Satu’li Bowl” seemed to be the most popular choice. Visitors first choose their PROTEIN, which include beef, chicken, fish or tofu.  Next, you choose your BASE (vegetable salad, potato hash, mixed whole grain and rice or Romaine and Kale salad).  Step 3 is to select your sauce:  charred onion chimichurri, black bean vinaigrette or creamy herb dressing.  I recommend the Creamy Herb Dressing.  The Steamed “Pods” Bao Buns were also very flavorful.  Guests will want to make room for “Ber’ri” (dessert) as the Chocolate Cake and Blueberry Cream Cheese Mousse were both highlights of this dining adventure. Pandora: The World of Avatar Quick Service RestaurantPandora: The World of Avatar Quick Service Restaurant

 


For young guests traveling the valley, there’s an option of grilled chicken or beef, fish or tofu with greens or rice; cheese quesadilla, a hot dog wrapped in Parker House dough; or a steamed “pod” (cheeseburger bao bun). 

Pandora: The World of Avatar Quick Service Restaurant

Satuli Canteen is the first fast-casual restaurant to offer Mobile Order, a new convenient option to order and pay for meals on-the-go within the My Disney Experience app.  Guests will be able to bypass the queue to order when they arrive at the restaurant. Using the app, guests can select menu items, customize their order and pre-pay for their meal with a credit card. When they arrive at the restaurant they will tap an “I’m here” button in the app, which will notify the kitchen to prepare the meal. Guests will be notified through the app to pick up their meal at a specific window.   While Satu’li Canteen is on the Disney Dining Plan, the Mobile Order only accepts credit card payments at this time. Pandora: The World of Avatar Quick Service Restaurant

 

Satuli Canteen is one of the best overall counter service restaurants at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. With a great variety of options allowing guests to customize their dishes, there is something for everyone at this a former RDA commissary.

Are you ready to experience Pandora for yourself? Contact a Me and The Mouse agent today to book your next trip!

 

 

Tressa Krippel

Travel Specialist

 

We’re celebrating Fun Fridays at Me and The Mouse with a collection of our favorite PhotoPass moments. We love the PhotoPass services! They are offered at Disney World, Disneyland, Aulani, and ESPN’s Wide World of Sports. If you didn’t know, PhotoPass allows you to preserve your magical Disney vacation. This special service provides you with professional photography throughout the different Disney destinations. We love that we don’t have to lug around a big camera! Plus, it also helps us have peace of mind that we won’t lose our new expensive camera! PhotoPass photographers are strategically placed throughout the Disney Destinations to not miss a moment of your fun. Take a look at the fun Me and The Mouse agents have had while using the PhotoPass!

If you’re considering using the PhotoPass services that are throughout Walt Disney World, we highly recommend purchasing the Memory Maker Package. If you don’t purchase this package, you will have to pay a decent charge for each photo. The great thing about the package is that once you purchase it, you can download as many pictures as you’d like! This is especially great if its your first time visiting, your celebrating something special on a trip, you have a young child and you want to capture every moment, or like we mention before you want to have tons of pictures, but you don’t want to carry an expensive camera around all day.

To add the Memory Maker Package on to your Disney Destination package, contact a Me and The Mouse agent today!

Now, enjoy some of our fun photos!!

Disney Destination PhotoPassThe Beast - Disney Destination PhotoPassDisney Destination PhotoPassDisney Destination PhotoPassTinker bell - Disney Destination PhotoPassDisney Destination PhotoPass