The relatively recent Fastpass Plus system is a great mystery to many Disney guests, even those who have been to Walt Disney World before.  Planning your Fastpasses too late, too spread out, or not doing them at all can completely derail your vacation.  Follow these tips to handle your Fastpass Plus reservations with minimal confusion and chaos so that your days in the parks go as smoothly as possible.

1) Stay on Disney property.   If you stay at a Disney resort hotel, you can make your fastpass reservations 60 days prior to your check in date for the duration of your vacation.  For offsite guests, the fastpass window will open up 30 days prior to your vacation and will require you to make fastpass reservations one day at a time.  If Frozen, Seven Dwarfs Mine Train or Avatar Flight of Passage are on your must-do list, you may be very disappointed if you don’t have a 30-day advantage by staying at a Disney resort hotel.

2)  Make your Fastpass Plus reservations for the mornings and as back to back as possible.  Once you use all three fastpasses, you have the ability to get more that day.  By having morning fastpasses, you are at way more of an advantage to get more throughout the day.  Since you have a one hour time frame for a fastpass reservation, make your reservations close together as possible.

IMG_0403

 

3) On your third fastpass reservation, get on your mobile app right after you scan your band.  While you wait to get on the ride, you can make great use of your time by immediately getting on your my Disney Experience app and securing your next fastpass.  For some of the less popular rides, you may be able to secure a Fastpass within the hour.

4) Use your Fastpasses on rides, not shows.  Whether you have a fastpass or not, you will still be waiting in the same line and the same amount of time for a show.   If Fantasmic, Rivers of Light, or the Festival of Fantasy Parade are on your must-do list, book a dining package instead.  Your seats will be better and you won’t be burning a fastpass.  Rides and absolutely must-see characters are the best use of your fastpass.

5) Make your Fastpass reservations for the rides that typically have the longest lines.  Do your research and check the wait times on your my Disney Experience app to see what rides have the longest lines.  Not only will you have short wait times for rides with longer lines, but rides with typically shorter wait times most likely have reservations you can make the day of (see tip #3).

Fastpass reservations can definitely be confusing for the Disney beginner, but if you use a Me and the Mouse Specialist, they will tailor your fastpasses to your family’s preferences so don’t forget to contact your agent!

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Julie Stewart

Travel Specialist.

 

Handle the Crowds Like a Pro
& Experience All Pandora Offers!

Pandora: The World of AvatarWhether you loved the movie, hated it or have no clue what it’s even about, Pandora: The World of Avatar is a “must experience” land. All Disney guests should be sure to visit it during their vacation.  The breathtaking scenery, attractions, food and merchandise are bringing in guests by the millions, which means you better go with a plan!  After attending the grand opening of this new land in Disney’s Animal Kingdom, here are some tips to be able to experience all it has to offer.

Tip #1

Plan on going during the Extra Magic Morning Hours at Animal Kingdom.  Since the hours are for resort-guests only, you will have the least crowded hour in the park before it opens to all guests. This will be one of your best times to visit the World of Avatar. If you are taking Disney transportation, plan on being on the very first bus, which departs the resort 45 minutes prior to park opening.

Tip #2

Reserve your Fastpasses 60 days out from your check in date if you are staying at a Disney Resort Hotel.  Since there are two options for Fastpasses in this land and you can only pick one to Fastpass, I recommend Avatar Flight of Passage.  This ride has had wait times up to five hours since opening, so having a Fastpass for this attraction is like having a golden ticket.  If you have a morning Fastpass reserved for this ride, go ahead and get in the standby line for the Na’vi River Journey.  If you are there for the Extra Magic Hours, you will not wait in this line for more than 20 minutes.  Pandora: The World of Avatar

Tip #3

Explore! Once you have ridden the two attraction in this land, take the time to explore and take photos.  Never have I ever felt a part of a movie like I have here.  Every detail is carefully crafted and more than worth exploring.  

Tip #4

Find the Photopass Photographers!  The photo opportunities in this land are countless and one is more amazing than the next.  You can get a standard shot of your family with the floating mountains in the background and you can even get magic shots featuring flying Banshees and other characters native to this land.  Use your My Disney Experience app to locate photographers and make sure you purchase Memory Maker so you can download all of your photos. Pandora: The World of Avatar

Tip #5

Head over to the Situ’li Canteen to get some much-needed sustenance after a busy morning exploring this other world.  With create-your-own rice bowls and other healthy alternatives, the Situ’li Canteen is a great place to take a break and have a meal or a snack before heading back to Earth. You can read more about the Canteen, HERE! The World of Avatar has several tasty places you can try, but we love Situ’li!

 

For more information or to book your Walt Disney World vacation complete with a trip to Pandora, contact a Me and the Mouse Travel agent today!

Julie Stewart

Travel Specialist

I’ve Booked My Disney Cruise…Now What?

Keeping the excitement of a future cruise – especially one that is over a year away – can be difficult unless you are sailing with Disney!  Once you have booked your cruise with Me and the Mouse Travel, here are some things to do or consider.

1. Join the cruise Facebook group. 

Each Disney cruise has a Facebook group organized by an individual or group of individuals on the sailing, usually a DCL veteran.  In the Facebook search toolbar, type the name of your ship and year of your cruise i.e. Disney Wonder 2017, and you should be able to locate the group.  Groups are typically “closed” and a request to join is necessary.  It is a great way to get to know your fellow Guests, and many groups schedule a group meet-up or other private events on board.  It also serves as a wonderful resource to ask questions.

2. Join a Fish Extender or Secret Mickey group. 

Within each Facebook cruise group, an individual coordinates a gift exchange program.  Guests sign up and provide family name, cabin number, and additional information.  Many gifts are homemade and personalized, and you receive a set number of cabins to gift while you receive gifts from your group of cabins.  The Secret Mickey exchange is similar to Secret Santa, and you exchange with only one other cabin.  The recipients do not know who is giving the gifts until the end of the cruise or even after returning home.

 

3. Watch videos. 

Official and unofficial Disney Cruise Line videos can be found on YouTube to help keep you excited and see adventures posted by other Guests.
What to Do Before Your Disney Cruise

 

4. Download the DCL Navigator app. 

While on board, the app will provide activity schedules, ship information and maps, dining room menus, free texting capability with other guests or groups, and more.  At home, a countdown clock is visible anytime you open the app once you enter your sail date.  Visit the iTunes or Google Play store to download the app for free.  A note about the messaging capability:  Guests do not share personal information.  Guests provide a designated chat number to other guests they want to be able to message.  Even if the chat number is shared, no personal information is provided to the recipient.  Parents have the capability of granting messaging access to children.

 

5. Schedule a character call.

Each reservation gets the opportunity to have a generic pre-cruise character call.  These are great to use for surprising kids with the trip.
What to Do Before Your Disney Cruise

 

6. Review Personal Navigators from similar sailings. 

You can find Personal Navigators {daily activity schedule} from previous cruises here.  The more recent the sail date, the less the activity schedule changes.  These serve as a great resource for advance planning.

 

7. Submit dining room requests. 

If you would like to be in a specific dining room on a certain night, you can have your Me and The Mouse agent submit your request to DCL.  If you have severe food allergies, those can also be submitted in advance.

 

8. Book onboard activities and shore excursions. 

Each Guest has an individual booking window depending on their frequent cruise club status.  Click here to calculate your window.  Booking opens at midnight Eastern, so adjust accordingly to where you are located.  Any changes that are needed can be made until approximately three days before sailing without cancellation fees, depending on the item or excursion reserved.
What to Do Before Your Disney Cruise

 

9. Complete your online check-in. 

You can complete this up to two days prior to sailing.  Have your travel itinerary, passports {if applicable}, and credit card ready.  Many people like to complete check-in when it opens at the same time as the booking window in order to get the earliest port arrival time possible.

What to Do Before Your Disney Cruise

 

10. Review DCL gifts and photo opportunities available. 

Visit disneycruise.com and you can see the gifts available for purchase that can be delivered to your cabin or someone else’s cabin.  You can also make advance photo purchases, which offer savings versus while on board.

Don’t Forget: Pack and complete final preparations. 

Your Me and The Mouse agent will supply you with a packing list before you set sail.  If applicable, be sure to check in for your flight in advance and allow plenty of time to get to your airport.

 

You’re now ready to set sail!

Jenniffer Sheldon
Guest Contributor || Disney Cruise Platinum Guest

You’ve been working with your Me and the Mouse travel specialist to plan your families magical Disney vacation and it’s all set. You have your resort, tickets, dining – everything to make this a wonderful vacation for your family!  Now what?!?!  Looking at your Disney countdown calendar, you have months before your trip!  By starting some of these tips NOW, you can ensure your Disney vacation will be even more enjoyable!

  1. Start walking now!  One thing you can count on for your Disney trip is that you will be walking A LOT!  On my last 6 day trip, we logged 55 miles worth of steps onto our Fitbits!  I started doing my “Disney training” with my treadmill months before we left. Although, I was tired by the end of the days at Disney, I was able to keep up and really enjoy the long days!
  2. Buy good comfortable shoes well before your vacation so that you have the time to break them in. Disney is not the place you want to break in new shoes and realize they give you blisters {yikes!}!
  3. If you plan on taking a backpack into the parks, try walking around with it on and loaded up so that you can ensure that it will be comfortable for your days at Disney.
  4. Visit our Me and The Mouse Pinterest Page, here!. We have several great ideas for how to countdown to your trip and fun outfit ideas! Prepping for Disney
  5. Download the My Disney Experience app on your phone and use it before you go so you know where to find the information you will be looking for in the parks. The My Disney Experience app has all of your reservation information, park maps, Fastpass picks and times, your dining reservations. It also has all park info like hours, parade times, character times, and wait times.  It is an amazing resource to use while you are in the parks.
  6. Purchase a portable power bank to charge your phone while you are in the theme parks. These are life savers. Typically, people use their phone often in the parks taking pictures, using the My Disney Experience app, and posting photo’s for all their friends to see what a great time they are having and it eats away at the phones battery. You will also want your phone charged to be able to contact other members in your group in case you split up during the day.
  7. Do some research on food you would like to try while you are at Disney! Disney has some fantastic food and snack options {Dole whip, zebra cakes, school bread} that are must try’s while you are there!  If you need any help coming up with ideas, make sure to ask your Me and the Mouse agent they are sure to have plenty of ideas for you!!!
  8. If your family is planning on partaking in pin trading, you can purchase pins on eBay to fill your lanyards for trading in the parks. My kids really enjoy interacting with the cast members while trading their pins!
  9. Your travel specialist is a great resource of information! We have a great team and are ready to answer any questions that will help your family have an enjoyable and memorable Disney vacation. Feel free to contact a Me and The Mouse agent today!

 

Beth Rodgers

Travel Specialist

I never thought I’d have the chance to travel to Disney World alone, however, my most recent trip presented an opportunity to explore Disney solo.  Since this was a once in a lifetime chance for me, I happily accepted!

What does one do when alone?  Anything they want!!  You may or may not have ideas of how to ideally spend your solo trip.  This is how I spent my unforgettable time!

  1. Stay at a new resort

Enjoying a Solo Day at DisneyI stayed at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge for the first time {You can read about this interactive resort, HERE!}.  After a day of travel, I relaxed and explored this breathtaking resort. I…

  • Viewed the animals in the savanna
  • Relaxed on lush seating in the lobby, took in the detailed architecture, and enjoyed the smells that wafted from Boma {Read about this amazing restaurant, HERE!}
  • Ate a quiet dinner at The Mara (chicken corn chowder soup and mixed tomato flatbread)
  • Sat by the indoor fire pit with my feet up
  • Walked the outside path listening to the running water
  • Took pictures from the overhead bridge
  • Shopped at Zawadi Marketplace
  • Grabbed a Zebra cake for dessert to enjoy in my room
  1. Visit your Favorite Park Enjoying a Solo Day at Disney

    I visited Magic Kingdom and strolled down Main Street, watched the welcome show, rode my favorite rides, and took in the details of each land. Just because you’re alone, doesn’t mean rides won’t be fun!  Take this chance to talk to people from all over the world.  You can have some of the best conversations with perfect strangers.

  2. Share with others

    I loved being alone, but chose to share some experiences via social media throughout my day. Facebook Live was a great way to share my views and sites with friends and family.  You can share with everyone or a customized group of people.

**Read Facebook’s copyright rules before posting.  Things like music played for the fireworks are copyright material that you’re not allowed to broadcast.

  1. Eat what you want Enjoying a Solo Day at Disney

    I indulged in my favorites: corn dog nuggets from Casey’s Corner, beef nachos at Pecos Bills, my morning iced coffee and coffee cake from Starbucks in a quiet spot overlooking Cinderella’s Castle, and a bag of popcorn during the fireworks.

  2. Park Hop

    With less of an agenda, being able to enjoy my next favorite park was not out of the question! I visited Epcot and enjoyed Soarin’!

  3. Explore Enjoying a Solo Day at Disney

    I took this chance to see details at resorts I usually don’t have a chance to. From the Ticket and Transportation Center, I walked to the Polynesian and Grand Floridian Resorts.  I enjoyed views of the park, sandy beaches, and quietness along the way!  I then sat in the lobby of the Grand Floridian and listened to the piano while I rested my feet.  Exploration is endless at Disney….

If you ever have a chance to see Disney World alone for a couple hours or a full day, take it!  There is so much for the solo traveler to indulge in.  Enjoy…it is not a day you will soon forget!

Megan Thompson

Travel Specialist

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

The cabana experience includes:

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

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


Cabana at Castaway Cay

The Experience

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

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

Reservations

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

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

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

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

 

Jenniffer Sheldon

Guest Contributor

Disney Cruise Platinum Guest

 

 

That is the Question – Part 1

This time of year I get many people say “I’m want to go somewhere warm!” I reply with the one thing I love more than any other vacation and that is a Caribbean cruise! There reaction is one of three replies. Love em, hate em, and the most common answer I get is “It sounds fun but what do your really do on a boat all day?” That is when my ears perk up! Watch out, I’m about to tell you what you can do a cruise all day. Is Cruising for me?

Living in Nebraska I find a lot people haven’t cruised before, so not know what cruises are all about is very common. Here is my breakdown of what I think are the advantages of cruising.

  1. It is the most relaxing week of my year. I board the ship, turn off my phone and put it in the safe, wait for the ship to debark and next thing I know I’m in the middle of the expansive and beautiful ocean. You feel as if you are a world away from the one you left. 
  2. I eat, then I eat, then I get ice cream, then I eat, then I get dessert then a midnight snack. I don’t know about you, but vacationing is a time that I can say “NO” to watching what I eat. From amazing restaurants to classic buffets to room service with breakfast on your balcony – the food is part of the experience. For those who aren’t into the endless smorgasbord, many ships are offering healthy food restaurants. These restaurants serve endless fruits, quinoa and delicious steamed fish.
    Is Cruising for me?
  3. Amazing entertainment awaits around every corner. I’ve been on Disney and Royal Caribbean cruises and both have world class shows. Disney Cruise Line brings to life live action shows featuring your favorite Disney characters set in a beautiful broadway style theater. On Royal Caribbean ships, you can catch shows such as Cats, Chicago and and line up of original performances made just for the cruise. 
  4. It’s a kids dream! Children of all ages have a huge variety of entertainment and activity choices. From clubs just for the little ones to teen lounges, your kids will never say “I’m bored”. I tell parents it’s the ultimate vacation. They can relax by the pool while their kids are in supervised areas having fun doing what they want to do! 
  5. Different destinations every morning without packing a suitcase? That to me is the best part of cruising. I can wake up to a view in the middle of the ocean one day and the next touring Jamaica. Everyday is a truly a different day. I get to experience the best of the Caribbean in one week!

Is Cruising for me?Yes, cruising might not be for everyone but I think it should get a close look when booking your next vacation. You might end up like me – a Cuisy!!

This is part one of my “To Cruise Or Not To Cruise” blog. I will follow up with a Day at Sea! I will guide you through what I do when my ship is not at a port for the day.

 

 

If you are interested in cruising, be sure to contact a Me and The Mouse agent! Let us take the stress out of planning your next adventure!

Ryan Gross

Travel Specialist

It wasn’t until my oldest son, who is living with Fragile X, was almost 3 that I began to have a greater understanding of his sensory integration challenges.  Fragile X is the leading cause of inherited intellectual impairment and the leading known genetic cause of Autism. I was attending an education workshop, and I participated in an exercise that helped me understand what someone with Fragile X/Sensory integration challenges experiences. I began to view the world with a different perspective. Sensory Overload

On our next trip to Walt Disney World, It was as if I was experiencing it for the first time.  Guests are immersed in their experience even before entering the gates.  Our senses are constantly bombarded.  As my son grew older, it was clear that the sensory input, at times, was too much.  If we wanted to continue to enjoy traveling to Disney destinations, we needed to come up with a plan.

Over the years, we have used many strategies to lessen the sensory bombardment. Trial and error is worth the effort and can lead to developing a great plan.  Try to utilize strategies that are used at home/school/work and modify them for use while on vacation too! Here are a few of the strategies that we have used over the years.

  1. Social Story:
    Search the Internet for examples or reach out to your speech therapist to help develop one for your upcoming trip.
  2. Videos:
    There are many options available.  Disney Park’s has a wide variety of video’s to help those of us who are visual learners! Check out Disney Parks’ YouTube Channel, here!

  3. Review Disney resources throughout the planning process:
    Check out the WDW Cognitive Guide, here!

  4. Visual schedule:
    Search for “images” of Disney destination attractions/dining/parks/transportation. Many digital applications allow you to add photos to create the schedule on the go.  Prior to having a digital device, I pasted those images into a word document, printed them out, laminated and then placed Velcro on the back.
  5. Noise cancelling headphones/ear phones.
    This allows your child to either eliminate overwhelming sounds or decrease the level of auditory input.
  6. Biting options:
    If your family member tends to bite on items, chew on gum, or has a preferred snack, bring those items with you. Gum is not sold on property.  If your family member has brand specific preferences, I suggest bringing your own snacks.
  7. Downtime/waiting activities:
    Bring some preferred activities to help pass the time: pictures (of preferred people works for us), digital devices (wifi is available for FREE), card games, travel size versions of games (magnetic options), coloring book/crayonsSensory Overload
  8. Back pack.
    Utilizing a back pack (moderately weighted works best for us) helps to provide the needed sensory input that helps your family member combat the overwhelming input. It is also a great place to keep all your items above.

 

The key is to integrate a familiar strategy with new options and modifications, and your next trip will be a success!!!

 

Missy Zolecki

Travel Specialist

Rain, Rain go away come back on a non-Disney day…

Not much can damper your spirits on a Disney vacation like drops of rain.  If you’re like me you’ve envisioned sunshine and fun and have no room in your vacation for rain showers.  One good lesson I learned while working at Disney in Florida is that, “typically” the rain shower doesn’t last long and the sunshine is out and drying everything up again!  If you have a day like I had on our last trip where it was constant showers these following tips will help your family to still enjoy your vacation as the “rain, rain, rain comes down, down, down”. Rainy Day at Disney

The rainy season in Florida is defined as May – October.  The rain during this time tends to be short rain bursts and the rest of the day is beautiful.  So if you are traveling to Disney during this time please consider packing:

  • Ponchos (you can get them at the Dollar Store and miss paying Disney prices)
  • Raincoat
  • Shoes you can wear in the water comfortably (Keens, Rain boots, Crocs)
  • Baseball hat
  • Stroller water cover (so your children and stuff can stay dry)
  • Plastic bags for electronics and cameras

The parks tend to thin out when the rain comes down so if you’re up for sticking it out you may experience shorter wait times.  With many of the shows and attractions inside you will not lack for things to do.  The following is a list of indoor attractions and shows that will keep you out of the rain for a bit!

Magic Kingdom

  • Country Bear Jamboree
  • Enchanted Tales with Belle
  • The Hall of Presidents
  • It’s a Small World
  • Haunted Mansion
  • Mickey’s Philhar Magic
  • Monsters Inc Laugh Floor
  • Carousel of Progress
  • Princess Meet and Greet at Fairytale Hall
  • Character Meet and Greet at Petes Silly Side Show

Epcot

  • Advanced Training Lab
  • The American Adventure
  • The Circle of Life
  • Disney & Pixar Film Festival
  • Ellen’s Energy Festival
  • Image Works
  • Innovations
  • O’Canada
  • The Seas with Nemo & Friends
  • Soarin
  • Spaceship Earth
  • Grand Fiesta Tour (Mexico)
  • Reflections of China
  • Impressions de France

Hollywood Studios

  • The Great Movie Ride
  • Muppet Vision 3D
  • Aerosmith Rock N Rollercoaster
  • Star Wars Launch Bay
  • Toy Story Mania
  • Walt Disney: One Man’s Dream
  • Disney Jr. Live on Stage
  • A Frozen Sing A Long
  • Voyage of a Little Mermaid

Animal Kingdom

  • Festival of the Lion King
  • Finding Nemo the Musical
  • Dinosaur
  • It’s Tough to be a Bug
  • *Animals tend to be more active during and after the rain

Rainy Day at DisneyA day at Disney Springs can be an entertaining option at keeping you out of the rain.  Disney Springs has myriads of restaurants and shopping as well as:

  • AMC 24 Movie Theater
  • Splitsville Luxury Lanes Bowling
  • La Nouba by Cirque Du Soleil
  • Disney Quest Interactive Theme Park

If you happen to get caught out in the rain every Disney resort has a laundry room that can help with drying out of the laundry.  Newspaper can help in the drying out of your tennis shoes, you ball up the paper and stuff it inside and wrap the paper around the shoes.  Another option to help in drying out shoes would be to hang them in front of a fan.

While rain may be an inconvenience it doesn’t have to stop you from experiencing so much on your Disney World vacation!

Beth Rodgers

Travel Specialist