When I’m vacationing at Walt Disney World I like to find time to decompress and escape into some of Disney’s more relaxing activities. For me one of the those ways to enjoy the world class amenities and services that Disney World offers is to spend a few hours on the golf course. I’m sure some of you are now saying you don’t golf or you are a bad golfer. Well, then this blog is for those you know who like to golf and the great news is Mickey doesn’t care how good you are.

I must first say that the courses spread throughout Disney property are fantastic. They offer a way to break from the crowds while taking in some amazing views. The many times I’ve played one of the courses I’ve seen players ranging from great to those who look like they’ve never swung a club before. These are high end courses that welcome all players. For me that is a nice feeling. I can golf with my dad who is far from good but don’t have to worry about looking out of place.

There are four courses to choose from. Palm, Magnolia, Lake Buena Vista and Oak Trail. All four have their benefits. If you want to feel a little more removed from the rest of property try Palm or Magnolia. These two courses are nestled in the trees near the Polynesian Resort and Grand Floridian. They are beautiful, laid out well and offer holes that are fun to play whether you are a long time golfer or newbie. Near Palm and Magnolia is Oak Trail is a par 3 nine hole course. It’s a family friendly course that doesn’t take a long time to play.

Now to my favorite course on property. That is Lake Buena Vista. Located at Saratoga Springs this course offers great views Disney Springs, Old Key West Resort and Port Orleans Resort. Playing this course offers a view of these properties that you can’t see while at the resorts or Disney Springs. You see Disney all around you but feel you are in a separate world. One of my favorite aspects of this course is you get a up-close view of Disney’s Treehouse Villas.

The prices of these courses vary depending on the time but range from $39 and up. For a few hours of amazing scenic views and peace I believe they are well worth it. To get the most from your golf outing I recommend speaking with your Me and The Mouse Travel Specialist to see how you can fit in to your schedule and the best time to play.

Ryan Gross

Travel Specialist

 

 

If you are visiting Disney Springs during your trip to Walt Disney World, Bongos Cuban Cafe is an exciting family-friendly dining option located in the middle of all the action.

Owned by the world-renowned entertainer Gloria Estefan and her husband, Emilio, this award-winning restaurant offers a fun, Old Havana style vibe plus authentic Cuban food, music, dancing, and atmosphere. You can choose to join in on the conga line or quietly take in the colorful surroundings from your table.  Just make sure you have some fun!

When you grab a table, start out with a Cuban chicken soup or one of the many different salad options provided. There is a lot of fun appetizers to pick from like the ham croquettes, savory empanadas, and unique stuffed plantain cups. After appetizers, dive into your main course ranging from beef and pork stylings to fantastic steaks. If you love chicken, you are in luck as it can be shredded, breaded, or roasted in pretty much any way you can think of. If you prefer surf over turf, there are a number of seafood selections to satisfy your taste buds.

If you are in a hurry for a quick bite to eat, Bongos also provides a quick service Bongos Express station attached to the outside of the restaurant. The menu here is a little bit different from the offerings of the inside restaurant. The express station does still offer the delicious empanadas and croquettes. Sandwiches, wraps, and flatbreads with unique Cuban flair can be ordered here that are not found of the inside menu. In addition, soup and salad is also available if you are feeling less adventurous.

A favorite menu item that my family and I love is the hearty Cuban sandwiches. It is great if you are looking for something quick and easy. These sandwiches are classic Cubans pressed with their award-winning slow roasted pork, topped in addition with ham, pickles, Swiss cheese, and mustard on Cuban Bread served with a crispy load of French fries.  Since these sandwiches are so colossal, my daughter and I have found this to be a great meal to share.  My husband and son’s big appetites may be a bit less willing to share though.  For the smaller appetite, order a Cuban sandwich off the kids menu and enjoy half a hearty sandwich with fries for a great value.

If you are looking to take advantage of the Disney Dining Plan, this would be a great place to use it.  Even if you do not have the Dining Plan, the menu is reasonably affordable for all families.

Need more information or help making a reservation, call your Me and the Mouse Travel Specialist.

Traci Perjack

Travel Specialist

 

When you begin planning your next trip to Walt Disney World, what thoughts come to your mind?  Princesses?  Mickey Mouse?  Cinderella’s castle?  Is the newly re-opened Hall of Presidents on your “Must Do” list?  Legacy, history and patriotism is what comes to mind when I think of the Hall of Presidents at Walt Disney World.  On a recent visit to Magic Kingdom, I had the privilege of enjoying this classic attraction for the first time in over a decade!

Having grown up in Springfield, IL, the hometown of Abraham Lincoln, Presidential history was a constant throughout my education.   Perhaps, it may have caused me to lack the appreciation for the Hall of Presidents.  Over the last 20 years,  I had only visited this attraction less than 5 times.  This attraction has been closed for renovation for nearly a year, and honestly, absence makes the heart grow fonder!

We entered the attraction and were informed that the next show would take place in approximately 20 minutes.  The waiting area rotunda included A carpeted area that had the Great Seal of the United States on the floor.  There were many display cases throughout the waiting area with nostalgic pieces from past Presidents.  What I found incredibly interesting, was how engaged guests of all ages were in visiting all of the displays.  My children asked very interesting questions and even added additional information that they had learned in school.

Once the doors opened to the theater, we anxiously awaited the presentation.   This show included life like animatronic figures of all 45 Presidents of the United states.  The show also included music and video presentation on a 180 degree panoramic screen. Although, we all mentioned after our visit that many historically significant moments were featured, yet done in an entertaining way!!!  It was a major parental win!

Make certain to add Disney’s Hall of Presidents to your “Must Do’s” on your next trip.  Only through the vision of Walt Disney, could historical education and entertainment be seamlessly blended!   I have a new found appreciation for this attraction and I am sure this will be frequently enjoyed by my family!!!

What President are you most excited to see?

Missy Zolecki

Travel Specialist

 

 

When planning Disney World vacations I’m asked many questions. What is the Magical Express? How do I use my MagicBands? Where can I eat dinner with the Princesses? And then there is the question that usually leads to a lot more questions. What is the FastPass?

So what is a FastPass? Well, as I like to say it’s a magical way you can get more out of your Disney Vacation by reserving a time for your favorite attraction, show or character greeting and bypassing the standby line. That is a simple answer to a somewhat complex thing. Today, I will share with you the basics of the FastPass+. I must note that this a basic overview of FastPass+. To get the most out of this free time saving service Disney offers it is best to have a conversation with your Me and the Mouse Travel Specialist. The one thing we all have in common on this team is getting the most out of your Disney vacation and FastPass+ definitely will help do that!

FastPass+ is a free service that allows guests an opportunity to reserve a time to many of the attractions, shows and character greetings. FastPass+ is available to both Disney guests staying at a Disney Resort and for those not. For this blog we will make the assumptions all guests are staying at a Disney Resort. FastPass+ service is, in my opinion better for those staying on property.

Here is how it works.

  • You can begin making your FastPass+ reservation at 7:00 a.m. Eastern Time 60 days in advance of your visit.
  • To make a reservation in advance of your trip either log onto your My Disney Experience mobile app or on the website.
  • Once logged on you can select up to three FastPass+ experiences you would like for the park you are visiting on that day. You will be guided through your options and times and simply select what you would like. For example, at the Magic Kingdom you could visit Mickey Mouse at 10 a.m. and ride Space Mountain at noon and reserve a spot for the fireworks at 10 p.m.
  • You can make selections for each day you have tickets on your vacation.
  • The FastPass+ selections are automatically loaded onto your MagicBand.
  • Once you arrive at the park a Cast Member scans your MagicBand at the attraction, show or character greeting at your designated time and you are in.
  • You can make changes to your selections in advance or even the day of by logging onto your My Disney Experience mobile app.

So that is a basic understanding of how it works. Like I said there are many other features and little secrets to get even more out of this amazing free service. To find out more of the advance features of FastPass+ contact your Me and the Mouse Travel Specialists. They will help you by explaining how to book additional FastPasses once you’ve used yours for the day, what rides you should try to get a FastPass for and much more!

Ryan Gross

Travel Specialist

 

 

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

 

 

Those traveling on a Disney Cruise in the Bahamas or Caribbean can experience an exciting day on the white, sandy beaches of Disney’s Castaway Cay. Whether you are an adult, a couple, or a family, there is much for everyone to enjoy. But what if you could partake in a unique experience that not only creates fun memories, but also helps to preserve native wildlife? Sounds exciting, right?! Then why not try the Stingray Adventure at Castaway Cay?

You and your family can schedule this amazing excursion once your excursion date has opened and you have paid your cruise fare in full. At $52 per adult (10 and up) and $41 for kids (5 to 9), you will have an hour of exclusive time with multiple stingrays in ‘Stingray Lagoon’. It is important that your children are at least 5 years old and are comfortable swimming with life jackets and goggles/snorkels, and are gentle with animals. If they are not, it may not be the excursion for them!

Once on the island, travel to ‘Castaway Ray’s’ rentals, and they will direct you to the ‘Stingray Hut’. In the hut, a Marine Biologist (who lives and works with the sea life ON the island!) will give you a crash course on the animals themselves, how humans should behave around them and what to expect from them, as well as what you will be doing to interact with them. It’s fascinating to learn about these beautiful creatures! And even better knowing that the Marine Biologists with Disney have rescued these animals and are rehabilitating them.

Next, you’ll walk to Stingray Lagoon where the stingrays are swimming…and are hungry! Biologists, trainers, and feeders have taught the stingrays how to get used to humans, as well as how to eat. There is a special U-Shaped tray they must swim over to get their special food, and they will eat STRAIGHT FROM YOUR HANDS on a Mickey Plate!

Once they have been fed, you are free to swim about the lagoon with the stingrays. They may swim up to you and bump you, thinking you have food. They will allow you to pet them, chase them, and swim with them! Stingrays are so soft and very gentle! Well, their “bumps” into you can be forceful if they think you have food in your hand. It really is a unique, swimming-with-wildlife experience!

We enjoyed this excursion this past summer, and I have to say, was the most fun we’ve ever had on an excursion. We have memories that will last a lifetime – whenever we see a ray at the zoo, at the aquarium, or in the Living Seas at Epcot, we recall what we learned and the experiences we had!

Want to take part in this excursion? Make sure you book your next cruise with a Me and The Mouse Travel Specialist and have your agent assist you in booking this amazing experience!

Amy Sowinski

Travel Specialist

 

Visiting Disney’s Hilton Head Island Resort is the perfect destination for a relaxing vacation. But on the days you want a little more than just relaxing by the pool or on the beach, there are plenty of scheduled activities happening around the resort, but venturing off the property is a fun addition to a great trip.

  1. Savannah, GA – Taking a drive to Savannah, Georgia is a fabulous full day activity. We opted to do the Hop On Hop Off Trolley tour through Old Town Trolley Tours. It was a great way to get around the city. The drivers gave us a brief description of what you could explore at each stop. If the trolley tour isn’t for you, there are plenty of other tours available, such as a historic homes tour, a riverboat cruise, ghost tours and so much more.
  2. Bike Rentals – You can rent bikes at Disney to take advantage of the bike trails around the island. It is also a great way to get to the Beach House. We took our bikes and road for miles along the beach.
  3.  For the serious shoppers, Tanger Outlet Mall has 2 different locations, which you will pass shortly after you enter the island.
  4. Water Activity – Across the harbor from the Disney resort there are plenty of activities at the Shelter Cover Harbour. You can arrange inshore and offshore fishing, nature and dolphin tours. For water fun, you can reserve kayak tours, waterskiing, paddleboards and for the more adventurous guests – parasailing. Reservations are highly encouraged, so this is a great place to start your trip after checking into your Disney resort.
    5. Art Center of Coastal Carolina is a beautiful and quaint theatre that is within walking distance of the resort. Visit their site prior to your arrival to see what is scheduled and order your tickets in advance. http://www.artshhi.com/
    6. Harbour Lighthouse – If you want a great look at the island, there is no better view than the views from the lighthouse and museum, where you will not only have great views, but you can learn the history of this iconic lighthouse. https://harbourtownlighthouse.com/
    7. Civil War Forts – For the history buffs, Hilton Head Island is home to four Civil War forts that housed Union troops. You have an opportunity to learn their role in the war.

With all the daily activities scheduled at the Disney Hilton Head Island resort and everything there is to explore in the area, you may want to plan another visit to continue seeing more of the low country.

Janene Jaroscak

Travel Specialist

 

Combine Disneyland and Christmas and what do you get? One of the most magical, spectacular, beautiful Christmas experiences that your family can ever enjoy!

Starting with checking into your Disneyland resort hotel, each resort is decked out with boughs of holly and Christmas trees reflecting the resort’s own theme including the sea, the woodlands, and adventure. Stop by the Grand Californian to see a huge gingerbread house version of the hotel and sit by the fire while enjoying some of the most amazing hot chocolate you’ll ever taste at the limited hot chocolate stand located in the lobby.

Disneyland Park welcomes you with a 60 foot tall Christmas tree covered with 2000 ornaments and almost 75,000 lights! During the day the tree is beautiful but when night falls and the tree lights up your breath will be taken away. Rivaling the tree’s lights is Sleeping Beauty’s castle which appears as a shimmering ice castle and stands as a beautiful foreground for Disney’s “Believe… In Holiday Magic”, Disney’s Christmastime fireworks show. Be sure to get there early for the fireworks as Main Street’s best viewing locations fill up well before the start of the show. When the fireworks end, stay in your spot and look up – you will become enthralled to see it’s snowing in California! Disneyland Imagineers have two attraction overlays that are set up during the Christmas season. For both the Halloween and Christmas seasons, the Haunted Mansion celebrates “The Nightmare Before Christmas” with jack-o- lanterns and wreaths, completely transforming the ride. “it’s a small world” is also transformed during the holiday season with celebrations from around the world coming to life in each scene. Be sure to get a FastPass for both of these overlays as the standby lines are quite long.

California Adventure Park headlines the holidays with its Festival of Holidays. Festival of Holidays is inspired by festivals of traditions from around the world and features musicians and dancers, Disney characters, festive food market booths, and a meet and greet with Santa himself! CarsLand is another favorite area of guests with its Christmas decorations and Mater’s Jingle Jamboree. Sing along to your favorite Christmas tunes as you swing on the tractor dance floor. At the end of your day in California Adventure Park, be sure to watch World of Color – Season of Light. In World of Color, hundreds of fountains dance to holiday music from around the world while holiday scenes from your favorite Disney and Pixar movies are displayed on the water mist screen.

Christmas holiday celebrations in Disneyland begin early in November and continue through the very beginning of January. Contact your Me and the Mouse Travel agent today to make sure you don’t miss out on making Christmas memories with your family!

Michelle Browne

Travel Specialist

 

If you enjoy the hospitality that Disney offers but want something different and a little more relaxing than visiting a Disney park, our family discovered a hidden Disney gem. Last month, we had the pleasure of staying at Disney’s Hilton Head Island Resort. The resort sits in two areas of the island.

The actual resort is located in-land adjacent to the Shelter Cove Marina and The Beach House is about 1 ½ miles away on the ocean. The Beach House is where your family can enjoy a day at the beach, an additional pool and a quick service dining location.

We stayed in building #31, which was the furthest location from the main building, but we loved it. We felt like we were tucked away but we biked around the resort and everything was a close walk to get to the pool and quick service dining.

The resort is filled with family fun activities including shuffleboard, cornhole, putting area, bocce ball, paddleboard and kayak tours, fishing and so much more. Each courtyard has their own activity area, so make sure you explore outside of your own area to find everything there is to do. For your swimming pleasure, you will find a pool at the resort and another pool at The Beach House.

We loved the beach, which we found was great for families because the beach had sandbars that created little “pools” of water that made it great for little ones to swim without dealing with the waves of the ocean. You can either bike, drive or take the shuttle from the resort to get to The Beach House.

For your eating pleasure, we were glad we had a villa with a full kitchen since there are not any sit down dining restaurants on the property, but there are plenty of options on the island. There is quick service location on the resort property in addition to the option at The Beach House. Within a short walk, you can find wonderful restaurants at the Shelter Cove Marina, which sits right across the marina from Disney’s resort. We found that biking is the way to get around the island with close to 100 miles of paved bike paths. Since Disney’s Beach House is about 1 ½ miles from the resort, we found biking was the way to go and Disney has plenty of bikes to rent during your stay. All bikes come complete with baskets to carry your beach bag or for a stop at the grocery store, which is nearby.

Stay tuned for my next blog where I will go into activities to do around the island and day excursions.

Janene Jaroscak

Travel Specialist

 

Pixar is part of the Disney company that has brought us the technologically advanced movies that we have come to love for the past 20 years including:

  • Cars
  • Toy Story
  • Up
  • Brave
  • The Incredibles
  • Finding Nemo
  • Monsters Inc.
  • Wall-E
  • A Bugs Life
  • Ratatouille

On April 13, 2018 Disneyland in California will become even more “Friendly”, as those lovable Disney Pixar characters come out to celebrate friendship in Pixar Fest! Pixar Fest will feature new entertainment and welcome back a favorite nighttime parade.

Together Forever is a new nighttime spectacular show at Disneyland Park, that is sure to quickly become a must-see favorite! This show celebrates the everlasting friendship of our favorite Pixar pals. Together Forever will feature amazing music, stunning pyrotechnics, a flyover by Buzz Lightyear himself as he goes “to infinity and beyond”, and projections that can be seen throughout these areas of Disneyland Park:

  • Sleeping Beauty Castle
  • It’s a Small World
  • Rivers of America
  • Main Street U.S.A

Paint the Night is a Disneyland favorite that will be returning! This time it will be making its nightly appearance at Disney’s California Adventure theme park. This night-time electric parade boasts 1.5 million LEDs and features many of our favorite Pixar characters as they dance and light up the streets of California Adventure! This is a not to be missed night time parade and I highly recommend looking for your parade viewing location 90 minutes before the start time.

AT D23 EXPO 2017, DISNEY PARKS CHAIRMAN BOB CHAPEK ANNOUNCES PIXAR FEST COMING TO DISNEYLAND RESORT — Starting in 2018, this limited-time offering will include a new fireworks spectacular as well as special characters and entertainment moments.

Pixar Play Parade is another must see parade! With the onset of Pixar Fest the parade will now run down the streets of Disneyland Park! Leading that parade will be the famous Pixar lamp, Luxo! Sunset Showcase Theater located in Disney’s California Adventure will have showings of 2 of Pixar’s shorts:

  • For the Birds
  • Lava (my personal favorite)

Paradise Gardens will come to life with a Pixar themed musical troupe along with a chance to meet your favorite Disney Pixar characters. There will even be opportunities for younger guests to let their creative side shine.

A visit during Pixar Fest is one that will surely not disappoint so many new sights and sounds. If you are interested or have any more questions on this limited time engagement to Disneyland Park, contact your Me and the Mouse Travel Specialist.

Beth Rodgers

Travel Specialist