Sunday, November 27, 2011

When to Go?

So, when is the best time to go to Disney World?  There's a pretty simple answer to that question.  When the kids are in school.  :)

Typically, September and October are great months to go to WDW because temperatures are cooler and crowds are lower.  And as if that was not good enough, they also typically offer FREE DINING during these months!  But you must also take into consideration, that this is the peak of hurricane season, so the weather could be tricky.

January and February also tend to be cooler, lower crowd months, but avoid MLK weekend, and President's Day weekend if at all possible. 

So, what if you're like me, and you can't go when the kids are in school?  Well, don't fret, my pet, because there are lots of other great times to visit Disney World!  Where I live, school typically gets out at the end of May, and we have always been able to squeeze in a trip right at the end of the late-Spring special offers.  This is a great time to get a good deal.  Also, many schools in the southeast start back in mid-August, so late August can be a good time.  The weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas are also a bit less crowded.

What times of year should you avoid?  Holidays and school breaks are the busiest times at WDW.  Crowds are higher, and so are the prices.  Avoid mid-summer, Spring Break, and Christmas-New Year's if at all possible. 

Until next time...
Disney Diva

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Why We Choose Pop Century

There are lots of things to think about when choosing where to stay when you go to Disney World.  Is it really better to stay on-site?  Is it really worth the extra money to stay in a moderate or deluxe resort?  The choice of where to stay is a very personal one, and you really just have to decide what's best for your family.  Today I want to tell you why we almost always choose Pop Century.

The first year we went to Disney, we stayed at another value resort.  It was nice, but the bus service was horrid!  We were sharing buses with 2 other resorts, so there were times we waited for an hour or longer for a bus.  I think Disney has since worked to improve this situation, but nevertheless, we decided to try another resort.  The next year, we decided to try Pop Century, and we have stayed there every year since.

Many of you want the perks of staying in a moderate or deluxe resort.  Sure, the pools are nicer, the dining options might be a little better, and you might have a little extra wiggle room.  But for us, we don't spend a whole lot of time in the room, so we can't justify spending the extra money for a moderate or deluxe room.  Again, it's a personal decision.  You have to decide what's best for your family.

Pop Century is great, but for many other reasons than not having to share a bus!  Pop Century has this awesome nostalgic feel.  I love the giant Potato Heads, Big Wheel, Play-Doh, Mickey phone, and oh so much more!  It definitely makes you feel like a kid again!  The giant flower shaped "Hippy Dippy Pool" is so much fun, but the other pools (shaped like a computer, and bowling pin) are great, too.  Everything Pop Shopping and Dining is a great place to chill and cool down after a long day in the parks, as well as  for buying all  your souvenirs.  The rooms are nice and clean.  They aren't huge, but again, we don't spend a whole lot of time in the room, so we don't mind at all.  And I don't know why, but I love the sparkly floors inside the main building!

So, lots of people have asked me about where to stay when you go to Disney World, and I tell them that you have to think about what's best for your family, but we love Pop Century!  It's very affordable, still nicer than a lot of other hotels we've been in before, and lots of fun!  So when you're thinking about where to stay for your Disney World vacation, don't count out those value resorts just yet!  Pop Century is a great one!

Until next time...
Disney Diva

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Free Dining Dates

Did you know that as long as you plan to arrive during a free dining period, you get free dining for the duration of your vacation?  If the website says there is free dining Dec. 10-15, I can plan my vacation for the 15-20, and get free dining for the entire vacation because I arrived during the 10-15 free dining period!  So if you're thinking of planning a Disney World vacation, look out for those free dining offers, and remember that as long as you arrive during those dates, you'll receive free dining for the duration of your vacation!  Right now, there are free dining dates available from October 2011-March 2012!  Check them out here.

Until next time...
Disney Diva

Saturday, August 27, 2011

What to Pack?

So, you're going to Disney World.  What to pack?  This is a question many people ask when they are planning there trip.  Here's my two cents:

1.  TENNIS SHOES - I have always worn my flip flops at Disney World.  I love flip flops.  I wear them every day.  Plus, if you get wet, soggy tennis shoes are no fun.  Well, this year, I decided to listen to my husband and give the tennis shoes a try.  I will never wear flip flops at Disney World again!  My feet and legs were so much happier wearing tennis shoes all day!  I highly recommend tennis shoes for a day in the parks!

2.  Extra Clothes - I usually pack two sets of clothes per day for us.  We go to the parks in the morning, and come back in the afternoon to rest/swim/whatever.  You don't want to put on dirty clothes when you're going back out in the evening.  So I make sure we have extra sets of clothes for the days we are going to be in the parks.

3.  Poncho/Rain Coats - We usually take ponchos in our backpack to the parks.  It is Florida, and you never know when you're going to get caught in a rain shower.  We have used our ponchos every year.  Unfortunately, the first year, we didn't bring them and had to buy them in the park.  OUCH!  Bring your own!

4.  First Aid Kit - I don't bring anything major, just a little something with band-aids and some antiseptic.  We have lots of scrapes and blisters, so band-aids are a must!

5.  Camera- Duh!  You're definitely going to want pictures/videos of those magical memories!

6.  Backpack - I mentioned this already, but we always take a backpack into the park.  It can be a bit cumbersome, but we've tried taking smaller bags, and have just found that the backpack works best.  We can bring our ponchos, first aid kit, camera, bottles of water, snacks, and whatever else we might need.

7.  Sunblock - Again, this is Florida.  You're going to need sunblock!

8.  Medications - Of course, if you take daily medications you'll want to take those, but I learned to always bring Tylenol/Motrin as well.  Our daughter caught strep throat last year at Disney World and we had to carry the children's Tylenol around in our backpack!  We also bring allergy medicine, just in case!

9.  Hand Sanitizer - I ALWAYS keep this in my backpack at Disney World.  There are gazillions of people there and if you have kids, they put their hands on everything!  And usually you're stopping to eat while you're in the park, so you'll want the hand sanitizer nearby. 

Of course, if you forget something, there are plenty of places inside and outside of Disney World where you can get what you need.  The most important thing is to have fun!  So don't stress about this part!  You're probably going to forget something, and it is going to be okay! 

Until next time...
Disney Diva

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Special Events

There are a number of special events that happen at Disney World seasonally.  They are fantastic, and if you happen to be there during one of these events, you'll definitely want to take part!  The one I can't wait to see for myself is Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party!  You must have a special ticket for this event, and they have offered discounted tickets to Disney Visa cardholders for events like these in the past.  But it is completely magical!  Holiday parades, characters decked out in their holiday best, free hot cocoa and cookies, snow on Main Street USA...It is not to be missed!  Staying on the topic of Christmas, Epcot also has a candlelight processional that I hear is amazing.  Celebrity hosts narrate the Christmas story with a mass choir to create an unforgettable holiday experience.  This event does not require a ticket, but you can get reserved seating with a lunch or dinner package.

In the Fall, Magic Kingdom also offers Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party.  This is another ticketed event where kids (of all ages!) can dress up in their costumes and trick-or-treat around the Magic Kingdom.  Characters are decked out in their Halloween attire and villains who are scarce at other times of year make special appearances.  There is a Boo to You parade featuring the Haunted Mansion characters as well!  It is all a bit of not-so-scary fun!

There are other special events held around the year.  Magic Kingdom's Night of Joy is coming up soon on September 9-10 featuring Christian music artists.  They also host the marathons in January and February, Epcot's Flower and Garden Festival has amazing topiaries in the Spring-last year they had Lightning McQueen and Tow-Mater right at the entrance to World cool! And of course, Epcot's Food and Wine Festival in the fall where you can enjoy food and drink specialties from around the world!  Hollywood Studios has Osborne Family's Spectacle of Lights at Christmas with millions of lights, and in the summer, Star Wars Weekends for the Jedi in your family!

To find out more about special events at Disney World, click here.

Have you attended any of these events?  I'd love to hear from you!

Until next time...
Disney Diva

Wednesday, August 3, 2011


Walt Disney World has just announced free dining dates for October 2011-March 2012!  Like the last free dining promotion, if you stay at a value resort, you will be given the Quick Service Dining plan, and if you stay at a moderate resort (or above), you will get the regular Dining Plan (which includes table service meals).  Quick note:  2012 Quick Service Dining Plan only includes 1 snack per day instead of 2.  If you've been thinking about planning a Disney Vacation, but have been waiting for a good deal, here's your chance!  Rooms designated for promotions are limited, so call soon to get the resort of your choice!  Packages must be booked by October 29!  You can find more details here.

Happy Planning!

Until next time...
Disney Diva

Thursday, July 28, 2011

My Itinerary

Some of you are like my husband, and want to go to Disney World and just do whatever you feel like doing.  It's vacation, right?  Others of you are like me and have every single minute of every single day planned out so you don't miss a thing.  Well, for us, we have to compromise and do something in-between, but for those of you who are like me, today I am sharing my itinerary.

You don't HAVE to have an itinerary for a Disney trip.  I just find it helps me keep track of the things I want/need to remember, like dining reservations, tips, character greeting times, shows, etc.  Most of the planning sheets I've seen are in excel, but I don't like excel, so mine is in word.  :)

Our 2011 Disney Vacation!


Magic Kingdom
Hollywood Studios
Magic Kingdom
7 am

Breakfast at resort
Breakfast at resort
Bus to MK
8 am
8:10 Chef Mickey’s
Confirmation #403381209004
Bus to Epcot

Bus to Epcot

9 am
Castle: Sit on the stone ledge on the side of the castle, you will hear Stitch giggle and tell you to be quiet because he's hiding. Notice the color of the step sister's faces in the mosiac
9:25 Akershus
Confirmation #403381211441
Head to HS and Toy Story Mania
Future World
Head straight for Soarin

(Tomorrowland)Look for the Galaxy Gazette Hawker between the entrances to Astro and Transit. Stand in front of him to get insulted.
10 am
Family Magic Tour
City Hall

Voyage of the Little Mermaid
Disney Junior?
The Seas
Test Track

11 am

11:30 Beauty and the Beast
World Showcase
Kim Possible

12 pm
Lunch at Pecos Bill’s
Back to Hotel
Lunch at Pizza Planet
Lunch at Liberty Inn
Lunch at Cosmic Ray’s
1 pm
Adventureland: Carpets: Ride halfway to get hit by the Camel spit. Stand on the wet spots on the pavement outside the ride to get wet too!
Lunch at Resort
Muppet Vision
Honey I Shrunk the Kids
Mulan (China)- 11am to 6pm
Back to Hotel
2 pm
Frontierland: BTMR:Take off your hat! Each of the 6 trains has an engine and 5 cars. For the "wildest ride" request a seat in the back rows. For tamer rides, request a seat in the front of the train. Look at the second floor of the saloon for a party!

Mexico Donald - 1:20 - 5:45 pm.

3 pm
Celebrate a Dream Come True Parade
Registration at Indy Racing
Pixar Pals Parade
Watch near American Idol Entrance
Mary Poppins, Winnie the Pooh, Eeyore, Piglet and Tigger and Alice. Be sure to visit The Toy Shop for more characters! (UK)
Back to MK

4 pm
Liberty Square Area:  Look for the wooden crates at the entrance that represent the Boston Tea Party. Look for the brown pavement that represents the sewer that flowed through the streets.
Look for the 2 lanterns in the window across from the Haunted Mansion
Indy Racing Experience
Back to Hotel
DVRC Meet & Greet
Character greetings at Town Square Theater (to the right as you enter).  FASTPASSes are available just past TST before Chapeau.
5 pm
Dream Along With Mickey (5:15)

Dinner at Yakitori House
6 pm
Dinner at Pinnochio Village Haus
Dinner at Downtown Disney?
Head over to line for Fantasmic
11:30 - 6:30 (France) Princess Aurora, Belle (and the Beast sometimes), and even Esmerelda and Marie- in one of the shops in France (behind the perfume shop, I think), you can find the Beast's library. Look for the little area behind the bookstore. That is where the characters come out!

7 pm
Back to Resort

12:15 - 7 pm.  (Morocco) Aladdin, Jasmine,
Dinner at Casey’s Corner
8 pm

9 pm


Main Street Electrical Parade
10 pm

back to resort


I hope this helps you as you're planning your own Disney trip.  If it does, let me know!  If it doesn't, you can let me know that, too!  :)

Until next time...
Disney Diva

Wednesday, July 27, 2011


Wondering if you might be able to get a discount on your Walt Disney World vacation?  The answer is YES!  I have never been to Disney World without some sort of discount.  That being said, the rumor is, they will be releasing fewer discounts than they have in recent history because bookings have increased.  Nevertheless, there are still discounts being offered, and you can take advantage of them!  Disney's current special offers can be found here on the website.  To get an idea about when a special offer might come along for the dates you're planning, take a look here on the website to see when discounted rates have been released in the past.

Disney also has something called a bounceback offer, where you can book your next vacation while you're on the current one.  You can look for these offers in resort hotel rooms.  These offers can only be booked, though, while on your current vacation.  There are no exceptions.

Also, if you are planning a Disney vacation, make sure you become a member of their website, as they periodically send out special "code" offers by email.  To get these offers, you have to have the PIN you were emailed.  Likewise, these offers may be sent out to members of anyone who has an account with the Disney store, Disney Rewards Visa, or has requested the free vacation planning dvd.  Let them know you're interested, and you might get just the discount you were hoping for!

So don't feel overwhelmed by prices when you look into a Disney World vacation!  You can make it happen!  So start planning!

Until next time...
Disney Diva

Until next time...
Disney Diva

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Resort Hopping

Did you know that it is perfectly okay to resort-hop at Disney World?  If you're staying at a value resort, but you're just dying to check out a deluxe, hop on over!  You are welcome to explore any resort at the world while you're there, just not the pools!  Each resort has its own special atmosphere and you are welcome to come take part in the activities at any resort during your stay.  You can go to each resort's webpage and click on the tab that says recreation to see some options.  Here is one example at the Fort Wilderness Resort.  Likewise, if you want to try a restaurant at a different resort than the one you're staying, go for it!  Just don't forget that if it's table service, you'll probably need to make advance reservations.  So as you're planning your trip to Disney World, don't forget that you can check out some of the great amenities at some of the more high-priced resorts without breaking your budget! 

Until next time...
Disney Diva

Monday, July 25, 2011

Character Dining

If you have a kid like mine, character dining is a necessity at Disney World.  My daughter's goal each trip is to fill every, single page in her autograph book with autographs of characters.  We spend hours chasing characters around and waiting in lines to get an autograph.  Character dinners are wonderful because we get to sit down and have a nice meal, and the characters come to us! 

Character dinners can be expensive, but are included if you get the regular dining plan.  If you aren't on the dining plan, character dinners usually run around $100 for a family of four, but it completely depends on the meal.  On our last vacation we spent about $150 (tip included) for a princess breakfast at Akershus.  But I used my Disney Rewards Visa rewards to pay for it, so it didn't seem so bad.  And it was totally worth it because I can't imagine the lines we'd have had to wait in to meet all those princesses!

Our favorite character meal is Chef Mickey's.  We usually visit Chef Mickey's on a day we plan to visit Magic Kingdom because it is at the Contemporary and we can just ride the monorail right back to Magic Kingdom when we're done.  Chef Mickey's is great because you get to meet all the Disney "classic" characters:  Mickey, Minnie, Goofy, Pluto, and Donald.  They come around to your table while you're eating and take all the time you want signing autographs, taking pictures, and just having a good time.  Chef Mickey's is a buffet, with delicious choices for breakfast or dinner.  We love the food here because there's something for everyone. 

If you have someone in your family who is into the princesses, a princess dining experience is a must.  Cinderella's Royal Table at the Cinderella castle is a favorite, but counts as 2 table service credits on your dining plan, and if you're not on the dining plan can be quite expensive.  It is definitely a unique experience that your little princess will love, but we chose Akershus Storybook Dining instead.  This is at Epcot, and includes several princesses.  We met Ariel, Snow White, Cinderella, Belle, and Mary Poppins.  I'm not sure why Mary Poppins was at the princess breakfast, but it was good to meet her anyway.  :)

If you have a Wonderland fan in your family, you can meet Alice and her Wonderland friends at 1900 Park Fare at the Grand Floridian.  This is another monorail resort where you can ride straight back to the Magic Kingdom.  Winnie the Pooh fans can meet their favorites at The Crystal Palace at Magic Kingdom.  You can also meet Chip and Dale and friends at the Garden Grill at Epcot, and Goofy and pals at Cape May at the Beach Club resort.  'Ohana is a unique experience that takes place at the Polynesian resort (another monorail resort!), and breakfast features Lilo and Stitch!   Disney Junior fans can meet their favorite characters at Hollywood and Vine at Hollywood Studios.  And for another truly unique dining experience, dine on African-style favorites at Tusker House at Animal Kingdom, and enjoy breakfast with Donald and his friends!

There are tons of choices when it comes to character dining at Disney World, and each one is special!  Don't miss out on this experience!  The food is delicious, and the interaction with characters is priceless.  You will make memories here that your family will treasure for years to come!

Do you have a favorite character dining experience?  I'd love to hear about it! 

Until next time...
Disney Diva

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Did You Know?

Today's tip is just a little FYI...If you're planning your upcoming trip to Disney World and you're wondering which attractions are best for your family (this is especially helpful if you have young children), did you know that you can find videos of most of the attractions on YouTube?  Check it out beforehand and see if it's right for you! 

Until next time...
Disney Diva

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Tips and Tricks for Getting the Lowest Price!

I know there are lots of you who say "I would love to take my family to Disney World, I just can't afford it."  You are the reason I started this blog!  People say that to me all the time and it is my goal to let you know you CAN afford Disney World!  Here are some ways I do it:

First off, I have the Chase Disney Rewards Visa card.  Now I'm not a huge fan of credit cards, but I use this one to buy stuff like gas and groceries and stuff, and I pay it off every month.  It is not a great rewards program, but it does have some perks.  There are two reasons why I love this card.  One, because I save up my rewards points and use them for spending money at Disney World, and two, because you get 0% APR financing for 6 months, so I get 6 months to pay off my Disney trip, which helps.  There are also some theme park perks, like a special character meet and greet for cardmembers only, discounted tours, and a complimentary 5x7 photo!

Second, choose your days wisely.  When staying at a Disney resort, weeknights are cheaper than weekdays.  Also, some times of year are cheaper than others.  Spring Break, Mid-summer, Thanksgiving, and Christmas are some of the most expensive times to visit, so if you can plan your trip away from those times, you can get some great discounts.

Of course, there are special offers, too.  We have enjoyed free dining for almost all of our Walt Disney World vacations.  These special offers are only available on certain dates, but if you can go during these times, it is SO WORTH IT!  Disney also offers percentage off hotels, and kids stay and play free packages from time to time.  There is also a military discount, which is pretty good.  The special offers are not as plentiful as they have been in the past few years, but they will still release them from time to time, so keep an eye out for those.

If you're not on the dining plan, dine outside of the parks for most of your meals.  If you want to eat somewhere in the parks, do it at breakfast or lunch, when the prices are lower.  We all know restaurant portions are huge, so consider sharing, if you can.  You can also bring drinks and snacks into the parks with you so you don't have to buy them at the park.

And there are always ways to save, like staying off-site, dining off-site, and buying tickets from a discount site.  All of those are options if that's what works for your family, but I do recommend the Disney World vacation package if you can swing it!  We have always chosen a vacation package, and have been able to book for a family of four (including resort, park tickets, and dining) for about $200-$300 per day.  That's about what we'd spend on any other vacation!

Where there is a will, there is a way, when it comes to taking your family on a Disney vacation!  It is a special trip where you'll make magical memories your family will remember forever.  You CAN afford it!  Don't miss out because you think you can't!

Until next time...
Disney Diva

Friday, July 15, 2011

Disney Transportation

While I'm on the subject of pros and cons, let's talk about Disney Transportation.  I'm talking about the free, resort-guest transportation provided by the folks at Disney World.  Again, there are pros and cons, and you have to make up your mind what's best for your family.  I know people who feel strongly about both sides.

Pros:  You get out of your car when you get to your resort, and you don't have to come back to it until you leave (unless you want to, of course)!  If you're a resort guest, this is totally FREE!  Even the transportation is part of the experience:  I love it when the bus gets to the park entrance and the little announcement comes on and says "You are now entering the Magic Kingdom..." and the little magical music fun!  The monorail is just cool, and the ferryboats are a truly unique way to get around the Magic Kingdom area!  It is wonderful when you get ready to leave the park, and you are hot and tired, and you get to that bus stop and board a cool bus ready to take you right back to your resort!  You don't have to worry about finding your car in a huge parking lot, waiting for it to cool off because it's about a thousand degrees inside, fiddling with seatbelts and carseats, etc.  We almost always use Disney Transportation because we love it!

Cons:  Unfortunately, the bus (or monorail, or ferryboat) can't be right there waiting for you when you are ready to go.  Sometimes you have to wait.  Rarely, it's a long wait.  Disney is really working hard to improve these wait times, and on our last trip, we hardly ever had to wait for a bus, but I have had to wait many times before.  Once, after fireworks, we waited over and hour...that was very frustrating.  If you're trying to get to a dining reservation or something, make sure you are very early for your transportation because you may have to wait in line.  And sometimes, you'll have to stand.  They fill those buses/monorails/ferryboats to the max, so if you aren't one of the first ones in, you'll be standing.   Strollers can be a pain if you're using Disney Transportation, because you'll have to fold it up and carry it with you.

So, I guess the pros and cons here pretty much balance out.  You choose for yourself, and let me know what you think!  Did you love Disney Transportation, or do you prefer to leave the driving to yourself?

Until next time...
Disney Diva

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Extra Magic Hours

Since I've referenced Extra Magic Hours (EMH) in a few posts, I thought that today I might give some more details on this popular Disney Resort guest perk.  As with most things in life, there are pros and cons for EMH, and I will try to fill you in on some of those today.

Pros:  I love the morning EMH.  Lots of people want to sleep late on vacation, so if I can get up early and be in the park at 8, beating the heat and the crowd, I'm a happy camper.  When I enter the park for morning EMH, I head straight to those most popular attractions, so I can enjoy them without the long wait.  I rarely use the evening EMH because I have a young child, but I can imagine if you can stay out a bit later, many people are watching parades/fireworks and you can enjoy shorter lines at some attractions.  During the actual EMH times, the parks will likely be less crowded, because only Disney Resort guests will be able to enjoy the attractions that are open.

Cons:  During the midday, parks with EMH tend to be even more crowded because many resort guests are there for the EMH, plus the "normal" crowd.  Some planners will tell you to avoid parks with EMH for this reason.  It can also be tedious trying to plan your vacation around EMH, whether you're trying to use them or avoid them.

So to me, all in all, it looks like the pros outweigh the cons.  Granted, I don't plan my vacation around EMH.  I have used them, and enjoyed them, but I plan my schedule how it works for me, and if the EMH fall on the day I'm going to the park, I take advantage of them.  Overall, if you want to use EMH, I'd recommend getting to the park as soon as they begin, leaving during the midday crowd, and returning in the evening for parades or fireworks, or other attractions.  I can't give a lot of advice about evening EMH, because they just don't work for the stage of life I'm in, but if you can do it, go for it, and let me know how it went! 

Until next time...
Disney Diva

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

5 Things I Wish I Knew on My First Disney Trip

So there are all these little things that you don't know until you actually experience it, or you become a Disney nerd like me and research it.  :)  I thought I'd share a few of those valuable little tips I've found to be most helpful. 

1.  If there is theater style seating (like Philharmagic, It's Tough to be a Bug, American Adventure, Voyage of the Little Mermaid, etc.) you do NOT want to be first in line.  If you are first, they make you go all the way to the end of the row.  You want to try to be somewhere in the middle of the crowd, that way you get a seat in the middle of the theater.  (FYI:  There really aren't any "bad" seats).

2.  On most attractions, if there is a particular place you want to sit, ask.  You might have to wait until the next round, but most cast members will try to help you out.  This is the place where dreams come true, right? 

3.  You do not have to have park hopper.  If you don't want to stay in the park all day, you can leave and come back to the same park in the same day.  Park hopper tickets cost more, so don't pay for park hopper unless you really need to go to different parks in one day.  Oh, and you can always get a base ticket, and add park hopper later if you decide you need it.  You can even add it in the middle of your vacation if you want to.

4.  If you have small children, the stroller is so worth it.  You do a LOT of walking at Disney World.  It took us three years to figure out that our daughter was so much happier in a stroller.  Whether you bring your own, or rent one at the park, it is totally worth the trouble.

5.  The most popular attractions get crowded early, and run out of FASTPASSes early.  Head to those FIRST.  Before your trip, make priorities about the things you most want to see and do, and make sure you get to those first, then you can do others if you have time.  Use FASTPASS so you don't have to wait in line as long for the most popular attractions.

Hope this helps! 

Until next time...
Disney Diva

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Why Stay at Disney?

There are many debates out there about whether to stay on-site or off-site when you visit Disney World.  I can honestly say that I can't give you a good debate about the pros and cons of each, because we always stay on site at Disney World.  There is just something wonderful about parking our car when we get there, and not coming back to it until we leave.  Since I am the driver in our family, that, in itself, feels like a vacation to me!

So my first reason why staying on-site is the thing to do, is that you can use Disney transportation!  We take the buses to and from the parks each day, and we enjoy that nice break to sit down and rest on the air-conditioned bus!  We don't have to worry about directions, or being able to find our car in a massive parking lot, we just head to the bus station and go where we want to go!  There are also the monorail and the ferryboats.  These are an experience in themselves!  This is probably my favorite perk of staying at a Disney resort.

And secondly, of course, are the Extra Magic Hours.  Every day, specific parks open early or stay open late just for the Disney World resort crowd.  This is a great time to enjoy the attractions that usually have the longest wait times, because the crowd is significantly lower.  Granted, the parks with EMH are usually MORE crowded during the day, because they have the normal crowd, plus those taking advantage of the EMHs, but if you come and leave the parks during the most crowded parts of the day like we do, that is not a problem. 

And don't forget, the Disney magic!  Each Disney resort is totally themed-out, and is an amazing experience!  Stay at the Caribbean Beach resort for your little pirate, the Polynesian for an island adventure, or Animal Kingdom Lodge for an African safari!  And it's not just the deluxe resorts, you can stay at All-Star Sports for the sports fan in your life, All-Star Music for the musician, or Pop Century to reminisce about years gone by!  All of the Disney resorts are unique and special.  And each one is full of Disney magic!  And of course, that famous Disney service is nice, too! 

We love staying on-site at Disney World, and for us, we wouldn't have it any other way. 

Until next time...
Disney Diva

Monday, July 11, 2011

Downtown Disney

Lots of friends tell me that they haven't visited Downtown Disney because they don't have time for it while they're at Disney World.  Well, that's understandable, but I will tell you that my family LOVES Downtown Disney!  There are so many fun things to do there, and you don't have to have a ticket to get in!

Let's be honest here, my family loves going out to eat.  So we love all the great restaurants at Downtown Disney.  Our favorite quick service restaurant is Wolfgang Puck Express.  We ate there twice on our last vacation.  The food is unique and delicious!  I highly recommend it, especially if you're on the quick service dining plan.  I've also heard that Earl of Sandwich is good, but we've never tried it because we can't get enough of Wolfgang Puck!

There are also some great table service restaurants like Planet Hollywood, Wolfgang Puck Cafe, and Cap'n Jack's Restaurant. Those are on the table service dining plan.  But there is also Fulton's Crab House (mmm...crab legs...), Rainforest Cafe, and House of Blues, but these are not on the dining plan.  So try those out if you've got some extra cash laying around, or you just want the experience!

I have heard so much about DisneyQuest at Downtown Disney, but we've never made it there.  I think I'm going to make that a goal for our next trip.  DisneyQuest is an indoor, interactive theme park, with attractions like CyberSpace Mountain where you get to create your own coaster, Virtual Jungle Cruise where you can take a raft ride through dinosaur times, Buzz Lightyear's Astroblasters, a bumper car/asteroid shooting ride, and Pirates of the Caribbean-Battle for Buccaneer Gold where you get to steer your pirate ship, and shoot your cannons on your own pirating adventure!

And my personal favorite, the shopping!  You must visit World of Disney, the largest Disney character store on the planet!  You can find just about anything Disney-related you could possibly imagine in this store.  It is broken up into separate parts, but it is all part of one fantastic store! 

There's also my daughter's personal favorite, Goofy's Candy Company.  This is a really neat experience.  You can choose a treat like a cookie, or rice krispie treat and choose all sorts of toppings.  This year, we got a Mickey krispie treat dipped in milk chocolate, covered with sprinkles, and drizzled with dark chocolate.  But you can come up with your own combination!  You can also buy all sorts of other sweet goodies in here.

Then there's the Lego Imagination Center, where you'll definitely want to go if you have a Lego lover in your family!  I am amazed at the things you can see here built out of nothing but legos.  You can play with legos to your heart's content in this store.

There's the Disney's Pin Traders store, where you can find just about any pin you want, and trade if you want as well.  Disney Days of Christmas is also a fun store where you can get ready for a Disney Christmas!  And don't miss Once Upon a Toy where your kids can shop and play with tons of Disney toys!  If you like to shop, you'll love Downtown Disney!

There is so much to do at Downtown Disney, you really should take the time to stop by.  We don't spend a day there or anything, but sometimes we go to a park in the morning, and Downtown Disney in the evening.  It's a treat for the whole family!

Until next time...
Disney Diva

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Disney Depression

It has been a while since my last post, and I can only attribute my slackness to 1. This has been the busiest summer "vacation" ever, and 2. I've been going through my post-Disney trip depression.  You see, when you are a Disney lover like I am, once that trip you've been planning all year is over, you feel a little lost.  What am I supposed to do with my time now?  I guess it's time to start planning another trip.  :)

Actually, we are planning another trip, and this time, it's a Bahamian cruise on the Disney Dream!  We go next year during Spring Break and I am super excited, because it is my first cruise ever!  And of course, because it is Disney, they do it well! 

First off, one of the cool features about the inside staterooms on this ship, is that they have "magical portholes" which offer a real-time view of the outside of the ship, with an added bonus:  Disney characters that appear throughout the day!  I can't wait to see this!

The Disney Dream also has a water coaster called the Aqua Duck!  This looks like so much fun!  The 765 foot tube takes you all around the ship and even out over the water, finally dropping you off at a lazy river.  We can't wait to try this out!

And here she is, the Disney Dream! 

We can't wait to go!  Guess I have something new to do with my free time, huh?

Until next time...
Disney Diva

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

We're Baaaaack!

So we returned just a few days ago from our most recent trip to Disney World, and I wanted to share a little about what I learned on this trip with you.

1.  WEAR TENNIS SHOES!  Before this trip, I would have argued this point with you.  Tennis shoes are hot.  They are gross if they get wet.  But this year, I decided to try it out, and I tell you, I will never wear flip-flops at Disney World again!  My feet and legs felt so much better after wearing tennis shoes.  If you are worried about getting wet, take a cheap pair of flip-flops in your bag.  The tennis shoes are so worth it!

2.  USE FASTPASS!  Well, this is a given.  But sometimes, you'll see that the wait is only like 30 minutes, and you know if you use your fastpass you won't be able to get another one for a couple of hours, so you decide to wait.  Disney does their best to estimate wait times, but they are not always accurate.  Sometimes I have waited in line up to 20 minutes longer than the posted wait time.  The FASTPASS is SO worth it!  Don't wait in line! 

3.  IF YOU'RE ON THE DINING PLAN, USE YOUR SNACK CREDITS!  We ended up with 19 snack credits left over on the last day of our trip.  That means when we were waiting in line over an hour for Splash Mountain (did I say how important it was to use FASTPASS?) we could have been enjoying a nice Mickey popsicle, or a cold drink.  Don't try to save them for later!  Use them!

4.  PLEASE RAIN ON MY PARADE.  No one wants rain on their Disney World vacation, but we did have a totally overcast, rainy day this year, and it wasn't that horrible.  The only bad thing was that we lost our Test Track FASTPASSES because they had to stop the ride due to rain.  Otherwise, though, the temperature was cool, the park was less crowded, and it turned out to be a fairly nice day.  It was definitely the most comfortable day of our vacation. 

We also checked out the Fantasia Gardens miniature golf course this time, for the first time, and really enjoyed it.  You do have to pay extra for it, but it was a fun afternoon activity after we were done with Hollywood Studios. 

The great thing about Disney World is that there's so much to do, every vacation is different.  I learn something new every year.  This year was no exception.  :)

Until next time...
Disney Diva

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Free Dining!

As I've said before, the BEST time to go to Disney World is when they offer free dining.  Well, just a few weeks ago, Disney released their newest free dining dates: August 28 - September 24, 2011.  These are GREAT times to visit the parks, as most kids are back in school and the crowds are much lower.  Again, if you book a value resort, you will receive a quick service dining plan, and if you book at a moderate (or above) you will receive the regular dining plan (with table service meals).  We have done both dining plans and enjoy both equally.  You can also request to change your dining plan, and they will usually let you do that, for example, if you are staying at a value resort and really want the regular dining plan.

They are booking for this special offer until August 27.  But there is a catch.  This time around, they are offering free dining only with the "Memories Vacation Package," which includes a 20 page PhotoPass photo book.  (PhotoPass is a card you receive from Disney photographers who are all over the parks.  They scan your card and take your pictures so they are all saved on your card.)  So I'm guessing that the 20 page photo book is adding a little to the cost, BUT, I still think it is a good deal since all your meals are going to be free.

You can find out more here.

Until next time...
Disney Diva

Sunday, May 8, 2011


So you're really excited about your trip to Disney World and you want to squeeze in as much fun as possible, but what to do about the lines!?!?  Sometimes the wait for a popular ride can be an hour or more!  How will you fit it all in?  The answer is FASTPASS!

Each park offers FASTPASS for its most popular attractions.  A few examples are Expedition Everest and Kilimanjaro Safaris and Animal Kingdom, the three "mountains" at Magic Kingdom (Space Mountain, Splash Mountain, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad), Soarin' and Test Track at Epcot, and Toy Story Mania and Tower of Terror at Hollywood Studios. These attractions are most likely to have very long wait times.

CAUTION!  You can generally only have one FASTPASS at a time.  So you can't just plan to go in at 9 am and go around and get FASTPASSes for all your favorite rides and then ride all day long.  Choose your favorite ride first and head straight there as soon as you get to the park.  Get your FASTPASS and if you look at the bottom of your ticket, there will be a line that tells you when you can obtain your next FASTPASS.  It is usually after you are able to use the current one, but sometimes it will be a couple hours after you got it.  Only then can you head over to get another FASTPASS.

Another word of caution, some of the MOST popular attractions will run out of FASTPASSes quickly.  This includes the rides mentioned above, plus Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger Spin (MK), Rock'n'Roller Coaster (HS), and Mission: Space (Epcot).  If any of these attractions are must sees for you, make sure you head over as early as possible for your FASTPASS.

For more information on FASTPASS, go to:

Until next time...
Disney Diva

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Don't worry, be happy! You're going to Disney World!

As I am getting ready to head to Disney World in just a few weeks, I know from experience that most people worry about what will happen to all this money they've spent on a fabulous vacation if the unexpected happens and you can't make it.  I am here to help!  Full payment for your vacation is due 45 days prior to your trip.  Before that time, you can change or cancel with no losses.  After the 44 day mark, you will pay a $200 cancellation fee if you have a vacation package.  Also, after the 44 day mark, there is a $50 charge to make changes to your reservation.

Some people like to buy vacation insurance in case something happens, but for me, personally, I'm just not sure it's worth it.  Disney's vacation insurance is expensive, and if I cancel, all I have to pay is $200 without it anyway, so for me, I'd rather just pay the $200 if the worst happens.  I know there's not a whole lot that's going to keep me away, so for me, that just seems like the better option.  There are some other options for vacation insurance you can check out at  They do have some more affordable options there.

In other words, don't worry!  Be happy!  You're going to Disney World!

Until  next time...
Disney Diva 

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Fun New Tool!

I am excited about a new tool I discovered today at!  This website allows you to view a map of Walt Disney World (or Disneyland) and click on any part of the map to add it to your itinerary.  The plan tool is super easy.  You can just click on any event you added to your event queue and drag it onto your calendar!  There is even a blog and an app you can use to help you plan your vacation.  What a great planning tool!  I can't wait to start using it!  Head on over and check it out!

Until next time...
Disney Diva

Friday, April 29, 2011

NEW Deals!

Disney just released a new special offer for Chase Disney Rewards Visa cardmembers.  August 28, 2011-September 24, 2011, they are offering FREE dining, plus a Photopass photo book!  This deal will be released to the general public probably within the next few days.  If you are able to go to Disney during this time, it is a great time to go!  The weather is great and the crowds are low, but you might want to think about vacation insurance because this is hurricane season, and we are talking about Florida here!  Not to worry, though, on our first Disney trip there was a hurricane off the coast of Florida, and we had lots of rain and thunderstorms, but we still had a great time!

If you book at a value resort, you will automatically be given the quick service dining plan which includes 2 meals and 2 snacks per person per day.  If you book at a moderate or deluxe resort, you will get the basic (table service) dining plan free.  That's 1 quick service meal, 1 table service meal, and 1 snack per person per day.  I do hear that you can upgrade your dining plan if you wish, but you will be responsible for paying the difference. 

This sounds like a great deal!  Free dining is one of the best Disney offers out there.  Let's start planning!

Until next time...
Disney Diva

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Choosing the Right Resort for You

Walt Disney World has different "tiers" of resorts: value, moderate, deluxe, and deluxe villa.  Each of the Disney resorts are full of character and charm, and each has its own unique qualities.  The right resort for you depends on personal preference, your budget, amenities you'd prefer, and the amount of time you plan on spending there.  Here is a breakdown to get you started:

Value Resorts
The value resorts are generally the most affordable (as low as $82 per night).  We usually stay in these resorts.  We don't spend a lot of time in our room, and the accommodations are better here than most of the hotels we've stayed at other times.  There are 4 value resorts:  Pop Century, All-Star Music, All-Star Movies, and All-Star Sports.  There is a new Art of Animation Resort that is scheduled to open in 2012.  We usually choose Pop Century, mainly because of the bus situation at the All-Star resorts.  The three resorts share buses and there were times we waited in line for an hour or more just waiting on a bus.  We have never had that problem with Pop Century.  All of these resorts have pools, arcades, food courts, and gift shops.  The maximum occupancy of these rooms is 4, except for All-Star Movies which has a family suite that sleeps 6.  If you have a smaller family, I'd definitely recommend the value resorts for their affordability.  Here is a link to check out more.

 Moderate Resorts
The moderate resorts are a little higher priced (as low as $154/night).  These include the Port Orleans resorts, Caribbean Beach, Coronado Springs, and the Cabins at Fort Wilderness.  These resorts generally have more amenities, like larger rooms, trundle beds (in some rooms), mini-fridges (these are available at value resorts for an extra charge), double sinks, and ceiling fans.  The moderate resorts also have larger pool areas with water slides.  Some of these resorts have nicer dining experiences as well.  The Caribbean Beach Resort also has a pirate theme which can be lots of fun for young boys.  These rooms also generally sleep 4, but the rooms with the trundle bed can sleep 5.  The cabins sleep 6.  You can find out more at the following link.

Deluxe Resorts
There are several deluxe resorts, so I won't name them all.  They are a bit more pricey (as low as $250/night and on up to the thousands).  The deluxe resorts are very nice, and their amenities vary widely.  These resorts boast things like wildlife outside your window (Animal Kingdom Lodge), access to the monorail right in your resort (Contemporary, Polynesian), spas (Grand Floridian, Beach Club), beaches, watercraft rentals, bike rentals, health clubs, and so much more.  They also offer things like concierge service, valet parking, and Signature Dining experiences.  If you can afford it, go for it!  These resorts are awesome!  You can get more information at the following link.

Deluxe Villas
Several of the Deluxe Villas are inside the Deluxe Resorts, but there are a few outside.  These offer more of the conveniences of  home.  Rooms are offered for as low as $305/night for a room that sleeps 4.  Some Deluxe Villas can sleep up to 12 people.  These rooms come with things like full kitchens, washers and dryers, whirlpool tubs, private balconies, sleeper sofas, and more.  They offer many of the same services as the Deluxe Resorts, because most of them are at the same physical location.  You can find out more at:

I hope this helps you choose the hotel that is right for you!  There are lots of hotels outside Disney World that are affordable and super-nice, but I don't think you can beat staying on Disney property!  You'll get that one-of-a-kind Disney service and experience, and you'll get to be a part of the magic even when you leave the parks.  Not only that, but you'll get bonuses like Extra Magic Hours, and Disney Transportation!   We usually park our car when we get there and don't see it again until we leave!  Disney hotels are the way to go!
Until next time...
Disney Diva

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Moms Panel

Another great tool I use when planning my Disney trips is the Moms Panel at

There is an abundance of information here on so many topics!  Sometimes when I don't have anything to do (yeah, like that happens very often), I just sit and read the questions and answers.  Really, I have learned so  many good tips from the Moms Panel.  You can search for specific topics, and you can even submit your own question if you don't find an answer that you need!  

So head on over there and give the Moms Panel a try! 

Until next time...
Disney Diva

Monday, April 18, 2011

These Are a Few of My Favorite Things (Animal Kingdom Edition)

My personal favorite at Animal Kingdom is the Kilimanjaro Safari.  On our first Disney World vacation, we tried this one, and our vehicle actually had to stop because there was a rhino in the road!  How cool is that?  What an incredible experience this attraction is.  I highly recommend it.

Another favorite at AK is Expedition Everest.  I haven't been on this ride personally, but I have watched it on YouTube!  It sure looks exciting!  How scary that you're moving along and the track just runs out!  And Yeti even makes an appearance!

I personally enjoyed It's Tough to be a Bug, but let me tell you, my 4 year old daughter DID NOT.  I should have listened to the warnings that this could be scary for little kids.  This 3-D show lets kids experience A Bug's Life through experiences like being sprayed, poked by stingers in the back, and more.  My daughter was hysterical by the time we left.  I think it's a great attraction, but save it for your older kids.

One experience I haven't had at AK and hope to is Kali River Rapids.  This ride looks like so much fun!  I hope to try that one next time we visit AK.

Well, this one's a short list because after It's Tough to be a Bug, we hightailed it out of there.  We didn't particularly want to win the bad parent of the day award.  And our daughter was scarred for life and never wants to go back to Animal Kingdom.  Maybe one day...

If you want to learn more about Animal Kingdom attractions, visit

Until next time...
Disney Diva

Thursday, April 14, 2011

These Are a Few of My Favorite Things (Hollywood Studios Edition)

For those of you who haven't been to Disney World in a while, Hollywood Studios is what you used to know as MGM.  Hollywood Studios has lots of great attractions and a fantastic fireworks show called Fantasmic.  Fantasmic takes place in an outdoor amphitheater, so seating is limited, and weather can cause the show to be cancelled.  The show is amazing, with fireworks, images projected on water sprays, and Mickey's defeat of some favorite Disney villains.  However, you usually have to get in line for this attraction rather early (unless you take part in the Fantasmic Dining Package), and again, it can be cancelled because of bad weather.  This happened to us the first time we tried Fantasmic.  We waited for over 2 hours for the show to start, then about 10 minutes into the show, it started to rain and they cancelled the rest.  Talk about a bummer.  But the show is amazing, and I'd encourage you to see it, but check the weather forecast first!  And make plans to wait for quite a while.

On to other Hollywood Studios Attractions!  One of the most favorites is Toy Story Mania.  This ride almost always has a LONG wait time, and FASTPASSES run out quickly, so head there first thing.  Also, opening in May 2011 will be the new Star Tours attraction, and you can count on about the same thing there also.

I LOVE the Animation Courtyard area for our young daughter.  She gets to see some of her favorite Disney Junior characters at Disney Junior LIVE!  Plus, some of them appear outside periodically for autographs!  Across the way is Voyage of the Little Mermaid, which is a really cool live show. 

The Honey I Shrunk the Kids Movie Set Adventure is also a fun place for kids.  They get to run around and play in a giant bugs eye view playground.  It's also a great place to take pictures!

For big kids, there's Tower of Terror and Aerosmith's Rock 'n' Roller Coaster.  These are really fun rides, but not at all for the little ones.

Well, these are a few of my favorite things at Hollywood Studios, but that's definitely not all!  You can see more Hollywood Studios attractions at

Until next time...
Disney Diva