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Monday, March 17, 2014

Walt Disney World Summer 2014 Discount

Save up to 35%!  June 2014 - August 2014
Valid for stays most nights 6/15/14 - 8/28/14.
Guests can save when booking a room-only reservation at select Walt Disney World resorts for stays select nights June 2014 - August 2014.  When staying 6 or more nights, save an additional 5%. 
Savings Include:
  • Save up to 30% when you stay 5 nights
  • Save up to 35% when you stay 6 nights or longer
  • Save even more when you add minimum 6-day Magic Your Way tickets to your room

Book this deal by 6/6/14. Offer excludes campsites, 3-bedroom villas, the Art of Animation Resort Little Mermaid rooms, the Villas at Disney's Grand Floridian Resort & Spa, Disney's Port Orleans Resort French Quarter, Disney's All-Star Movies Resort, and Bay Lake Tower at Disney's Contemporary Resort.  All discounts are subject to availability, certain restrictions apply. 

Please contact me if you would like a free quote!

Thursday, March 13, 2014

New Illuminations Sparkling Dessert Party

Beginning, March 15, 2014, you can experience IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth at Epcot® in an exciting new way.

The new IllumiNations Sparkling Dessert Party invites Guests to enjoy international desserts and sparkling wines in an intimate, exclusive setting with a clear view of the World Showcase Lagoon during the nighttime spectacular, IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth.

This new offering will be available on Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays, and will run from 7:45 p.m-9:20 p.m. The cost is $49 for adults and $29 for children. Parties begin March 15, 2014 and booking is now open. Epcot park admission is required.

I think that this sounds awesome! We may try it for our next trip!

What do you think?

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Make your own Frozen snow globe

Disney's Frozen has taken over my house. My daughter is prone to let out her own rendition of "Let it Go" anytime- the grocery store, at a friends house, or helping me cook at home. Yet at other times I imagine she's happily singly "let it go" when her and her brother are playing with their toys, but for some reason it doesn't sound so sweet. Her brother has found a fun hobby walking around the house pretending to be "Marshmallow." I'm telling you, we are Frozen-ites.

Around Christmas time, I purchased some Frozen items off I noticed they added items frequently, and saw that some items went out of stock in a short manner of time. And then more went out of stock. And more. And even more. If you were to visit the Frozen section on Disney store right now, its a fraction of what they had a month ago. I spent over a month waiting on Amazon to get Frozen twin bed sheets in stock. In other words, you have as good of a chance of finding Frozen merchandise as Leonardo DiCaprio has of winning an Oscar (don't hate me, I'm a fan!).

So I decided to start making some Frozen items of my own. I'm not the most crafty person, but I can cut and glue. And if you can too, then you're in luck.

Without further ado, here's how you can make your own "Frozen" snow globe, featuring Elsa (or Anna, if you fancy her). 

Here's what you'll need:

Jar (I used a salsa jar)
Frozen Figurine (we have about 6 different Elsas)
Hot Glue Gun
Computer & Printer
One (or two) excited children

First, I peeled the salsa wrapper off the jar. I had to use a razor blade to get it all off, and then I rinsed the jar off.

Next, you'll see that I like my salsa medium, and the Elsa figurine that I glued to the jar. Also, Woats Cookies 'n' Dreams is my new favorite snack. I swear this isn't product placement, but I'd happily accept a couple of complimentary bags.

If you're not sure what a hot glue gun is, then here you go. I always pack heat (in the form of hot glue!).

Here's our glitter. Blue because it's predominately Elsa's color, and silver because it'd look like snow. Also, it was the only two colors I found in my closet.  

Fill the jar all the way up with water. Let your child pour as much glitter as they'd like in the jar-

 And then let your Frozen character take a little swim in a melted snowball!

 Now, I'm all about my Tostitos salsa, but their lid didn't really look well with my Frozen Snowglobe. So I went on the computer, searched for "Frozen" on Google, and let my daughter pick out her favorite Frozen photo. I measured the diameter of my lid- ok, who am I kidding.... I just took the lid and traced it on the photo after I printed it off. I cut it out and glued it to the bottom of my lid.

There we go. Much better!

Almost done. I then visited my gift bag station, and was able to find a nice light blue ribbon. I wrapped it around the lid, and cut off just enough to have a little bit of overlap, and then glued it together again. And boom, look at the smile!

Alas, our journey is not over. I took one extra step. I wanted a picture to put in the background. So, I found a picture of Elsa on my friend Google, and printed it off as well.

I cut if off, and glued it to the back of the jar.

And there you have it. Your very own Frozen Elsa Snowglobe, all with household goods.

Give it a little shake, and Elsa brings on the snow!

My daughter was thrilled with the result. And now, if I can only find some way to make it play the Oscar winning song "Let it Go," I'd be Queen of Arendelle!

Monday, March 3, 2014

When Something Doesn't Go As Planned in Walt Disney World

I'm a pretty level headed person. I'm always happy, and it takes quite a bit to get me down. 

One of the things that can easily bring a person down is a trip to the most magical place on Earth, Walt Disney World. Wait, what?!!

The recipe for break downs are there- you've been looking forward to this trip for forever and want it to be perfect, you could be on a different sleep schedule, hungry, whining children, crowds of people, pressure to hit certain rides, transportation that may not go as quick as you like, and a number of other problems that could pop up- leaving your park tickets in the car or your camera back at the room. 

Even if you have someone help you plan your trip (like me, perhaps? ;)), it happens. It might not even be your fault.

It happened a couple of times to me on my latest trip to Walt Disney World.

First, we were dining at Tusker House, located in Animal Kingdom. Our reservation was for noon, and we arrived at 11:45 am. We were given a receipt upon check in, and skipped the line for a picture with Donald- the line was long, it was hot, and we had just taken a picture with Donald the night before. We headed straight to tables and chairs to sit down. I checked with the host, to make sure I didn't need to take a picture for some odd reason, that I didn't have to give him my receipt. He looked me up in the system, and told me no- we would be ready to go shortly. We took a sea among a number of people outside the restaurant.

When 12:20 rolled around, I politely asked the host again- we had reservations for noon, and wanted to make sure there were no issues. I didn't want to be a bother-but afterall I was 8 months pregnant and I was ready to get in the air conditioning. Also, I had stopped at Kilimanjaro Safari while my husband checked in at Tusker House, and picked up a Fastpass for 12:30-1:30. We could make it, right? The host checked again- yep, we were still there.

About 10 minutes later- the slowest ten minutes ever- another worker came by, checking the receipts, and writing down information on a note card. She didn't tell me what she was doing, but I didn't take it as a good sign. With my kids now starting to complain (we skipped breakfast so we could sleep in), our Fastpasses quickly looking like they would expire- and a number of people being taken seated that came in after me... I had enough. Some other people were having the same issues-they had been there for quite a bit of time, and people with later reservations were being sat in front of them. What's the point of making a reservation if you are just going to skip over me?

I made one final stand at the podium-at this point it was 12:50. I showed him my receipt again, and asked him how the dinner was at the restaurant, because it was obvious I wouldn't be seated for lunch. He had a puzzled look on his face, told me we would be up next.... and wouldn't you know it, we were seated shortly. It didn't matter, as my entire family was extremely unpleasant at that point. 

Our hostess, as they normally do, welcomed us to the restaurant and attempted to make small talk as she showed us to our table. We let her know our feelings, and told her how ridiculous it was that we had waited that long. She agreed, and quickly sat us to our table. She left with an apology for our wait. 

I left immediately- and to be honest, if Tusker House had steaks, lobster, ribs, chicken, chocolate imported from Europe, and my favorite beer on tap- I was still going to be displeased and ticked off. I kept thinking- you mean I purchased park tickets so I could spend half of my day waiting to eat at Tusker House? What a joy. And I saw plenty of empty tables as we walked in.

Soon after I sat down, a manager came over to our table. She came with an apology as well. Yeah, thanks, glad you noticed it. Apparently, the host had marked us as already being checked in. How nice of him, even though I asked him a million times!!!

She then preceded to ask us if we took our picture with Donald. Um no, because the line was huge and we were sweating like pigs. I imagine she was going to offer to give us the picture for free (but we probably would have turned that down). She then asked if were on a dining plan- which we were. I think she probably would have offered to comp our meal, but that's impossible and useless on the dining plan. We told her our real issue is that we had Fastpasses that were sure to expire, and now we will have spent half of our planned day waiting to eat. 

And then, miraculously, she pulled these out of her pocket.

That's right, these are what I like to refer to as "Golden Fastpasses." Why? Well, she told us that we could use them to get on any two attractions that we chose, and could enter the Fastpass line for both of them. Fair enough. We finished our meal, and moved on.

First, they still accepted our Fastpasses at Kilimanjaro Safari. No questions asked. Second, we preceded to go to Kali River Rapids with the "Golden Fastpasses." The cast member, who was supposed to collect them, took one look at them, and told me "Hold onto those and use them at another attraction." Which I did, and I experience the same result- they let me keep them. And at the next attraction... and the next... up until we had boarded every attraction we wanted to, and then some. 

So what happened? Well, we lost some time waiting at Tusker House. We certainly didn't go ballistic and crazy, and start cursing loudly at the cast members. We were disgruntled, but we made sure the people we came across were aware- but not in a degrading manner. I know they see a million people, and problems were bound to happen. I just don't like when it happens to me- and this one was definitely out of my control.

But the cast members at Disney recognized the problem, and worked to make it right. The time that we were robbed of waiting at Tusker House, was given back to use time and time again, to where we hardly had to wait for any ride. It stinks we had to go through that process, but they did a complete 180 for us.

So, what to do when things go wrong in Disney- and it's your fault? Find someone, whether it be guest services, a cast member, or Mickey Mouse himself (one time I told Spiderman at Universal that we were having a terrible time and that I should have never left Disney property!), and let them know what the problem is. Do your best to stay calm, and just let them know that you had an unsatisfied experience. You never know, you might regain a little magic! 

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Should I add the park hopper option to my Walt Disney World Tickets?

I've planned a number of trips for a number of wonderful families.

One persistent question I receive is about theme park tickets, especially for Walt Disney World. There are a couple of different options that can drastically affect a Disney vacation. 

Park hopping is a fairly easy concept. It might sound a little funny to the non-Disney theme park visitor, and doesn't require any actual hopping. A smile, maybe. Patience, sure. And a little extra cash, definitely.

The Park Hopper option for Disney theme parks works like this: you can visit any theme park you want, just as long as you have a valid theme park ticket for the day. Wait, what? Here you go- you can visit Magic Kingdom in the morning, "hop" over to Epcot over the afternoon hours, and then finish the night at Hollywood Studios.

It's also helpful to explain the alternative. If you don't have the park hopper option, here's how it works. You visit Magic Kingdom in the morning, well, then you are only able to visit Magic Kingdom for that day (or whatever park you decide to visit). Yes, you can leave the park and come back to the same park. 

Why is this a problem? Well, there are a couple of drawbacks. First, you are limited in your dining options- you may only eat at the Disney resorts or at a restaurant at the theme park you start at. Some people don't use free Disney vacation planning services (like I offer), and go to a theme park, and forget they can't leave to go for their Dining Reservations in another theme park. However, you can definitely plan ahead to try and avoid any problems if you don't have the park hopper.
Another issue is that all theme parks at Walt Disney World might not require a full day visit for some families. However, all of the theme parks offer marquee attractions, and may be you or your childs favorite attraction. It's crazy for someone to go to WDW and skip out on some of the world's best rides because they didn't want to spend a whole day in a specific theme park. On a related note, a family may find that they really enjoy a particular ride or area, and will want to come back and spend more time there. The park hopper option will allow you to do that.

Some of the draw backs?

Well, you are going to spend more time on Disney transportation (or driving if you have a car). There can always be minor frustrations that occur during this time. I know I've spent plenty of trips on a Disney bus with one holding my 2 year old son, the other holding our stroller, and standing because all of the seats are full. I feel like I'm walking a tight rope and I feel every bump. 

Also, it's going to cost you more. How much more? $60 to be exact. And here's the deal- it doesn't matter if you have 1 day or 100 day theme park tickets. It's going to be an additional $60 per ticket. So, if you want to visit WDW and get 5 day theme park tickets, then it will be an extra $60 for the park hopper. Want to add an extra day? The only price increase would be for the theme park tickets, but there's no increase in the park hopper option.

Is it for everyone? No, definitely not. But this is a big decision, and for many, a necessary expense. It is important to being knowledgeable, so you can make an educated decision. And if you need any help, well, you know where to find me!