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

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

These Are a Few of My Favorite Things (Epcot Edition)

There are two main parts of Epcot, and they are very different:  Future World, and World Showcase.  We thought for sure when we took my daughter (age 4 at the time) and niece (age 9 at the time) to Epcot, they wouldn't be all that excited with it.  Boy, were we surprised.  Really, our girls have a hard time choosing whether they'd rather go to Epcot or Magic Kingdom! 

When you enter Epcot, of course, the first thing you see is "the big golf ball."  Our girls LOVE this ride!  It is actually an omnimover ride through history (including things like Ancient Egypt, Greece, Rome, and on up through the late 20th century).  They ride it again and again.  This is one of our Epcot favorites.

But, the first thing we do when we head into Epcot is go straight for Soarin'.  This ride is AMAZING!  Soarin' is a simulated ride on an IMAX screen as if you're hang gliding over Southern California.  The coolest thing is that you can even smell each place!  The ocean smells salty, the vineyards smell cool!

Of course since we have a young child, we have to ride The Seas with Nemo and Friends, and visit the aquariums.  There is also a really cool show called Turtle Talk with Crush, where Crush from Finding Nemo actually interacts with the audience!

Test Track is another really cool ride.  I was terrified the first time I rode it and took my 5 year old daughter on it, but my husband LOVED it!  On this ride, you get to be the crash test dummy and go through all sorts of automotive tests. 

And that's about it for us in Future World, then we head over to World Showcase.  One cool thing to do is to find all the Kidcot Fun Stops.  The kids can make these little masks and decorate them.  Then in each country they get a little stamp and attachment for their mask.  It is totally FREE and makes a cool souvenir.   We love walking through each of the "countries."  It really feels like you've entered another world!  One of our favorite World Showcase rides is Gran Fiesta Tour Starring the Three Caballeros in Mexico.  This is a boat ride similar to It's a Small World, but Donald Duck just cracks my daughter up when we ride this.  It is a must do on our Epcot list.

I could go on and on.  Most people will tell you that you should schedule 2 days for Magic Kingdom, but we also schedule 2 for Epcot!  There is so much to do here!  We love it!

You can find out about even more attractions at Epcot at

Until next time...
Disney Diva

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

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

I just thought I'd share some of my family's favorite things from each of the parks.  And since Disney World wouldn't be Disney World without Magic Kingdom, I'm starting at the top!

When we enter Magic Kingdom, we head straight to Fantasyland.  Most people head to the right (Tomorrowland) or the left (Adventureland).  But I think if you go to Fantasyland first, you can at least beat (some of) the crowd.  Head to Dumbo first if you plan to ride.  This line gets long quickly, and most of it is out in the sun.  Next, head over to Peter Pan's Flight, Winnie the Pooh and Snow White's Scary Adventures.  Then you might try the Mad Tea Party (teacups), and Prince Charming Regal Carousel.  We usually save Philharmagic and It's a Small World for later because you don't usually have to wait that long, and we'll want to do those when it gets a little hotter because they are indoors and air-conditioned!

Then, you choose!  You can head toward Tomorrowland or Liberty Square.  We usually do Magic Kingdom in 2 days and we start with Fantasyland for both.  We go toward Tomorrowland on the first day, and Liberty Square, Frontierland, and Adventureland on the second day. 

Of course the three "mountains" are favorites:  Splash Mountain, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad and Space Mountain.  All of these are great rides, but can be a little scary for young ones.

If I had to pick my favorites for Magic Kingdom, I'd say It's a Small World, Peter Pan's Flight, Philharmagic, Space Mountain, and Jungle Cruise.  It's a Small World because, though some might say it's annoying, is a Disney classic, Peter Pan's Flight because it is so cool to fly through the air over scenes from Peter Pan (I was so shocked the first time that little "boat" left the track!!), Philharmagic (a 3-D movie) because it is AMAZING, Space Mountain, because it is a bit scary and exciting, and Jungle Cruise because it is just a nice little boat ride, but with a hilarious commentator.  :)

You can find out more about Magic Kingdom attractions at

Until next time...
Disney Diva

Monday, April 11, 2011

Take a Break!

One of the recommendations I make most often is TAKE A BREAK!  I know you want to do as much as you can for as long as you can, but let me tell you from experience...if you've been in the park all day with that hot sun shining down on your pretty little face, by about 3:00 in the afternoon you are going to start fading.  We tried staying for a full day on our first Magic Kingdom trip without park hopper.  We haven't made that mistake again. 

Our experience:  We had been in the park all day and our daughter wanted to ride Goofy's Barnstormer.  Most of the line is outside.  There were fans, but it was a long line, and it was very hot (about 2ish in the afternoon in late May).  My thought was...we ride this, then we go back up and watch the parade at 3.  WRONG!  By the time we made it through that line in that heat, we were done.  All the girls wanted to do was go back to the hotel.  We were supposed to come back to the park for fireworks that night, and they didn't even want to do that.  They were wiped out!

So now we almost always schedule a break in the afternoons.  Every once in a while, we may stay at a park all day, but in the afternoon we do something cool and quiet like Hall of Presidents (Magic Kingdom) or American Adventure at Epcot.  Doing something like that allows us to take a little break and cool down.  BUT, most of the time, we get to the parks early, do as much as we can, eat lunch, then maybe take in another attraction or two, and head back to the resort to rest.  This way, we completely avoid the hottest, most crowded time of day at the parks.  Then, we come back out again around dinnertime cool and rested, and we are able to enjoy our evening. 

If you have park hopper, this is easy to do.  Tackle one park in the morning, rest, then attack another in the evening.  But many people do not realize you can do the same thing without park hopper!  You just have to leave and return to the same park in the same day!

I highly recommend scheduling a break in your Disney World itinerary.  It is so worth it.  While you feel like you might miss out on something by leaving the park, I guarantee you will not regret it.  You will be so happy and rested, you will be ready to come back in the evening and attack the rest of your itinerary and best of all, HAVE FUN! 

Until next time...
Disney Diva

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Touring Plans

I also get lots of questions about itineraries/touring plans for WDW.  There are many out there to choose from.  I am working on an itinerary for my family's vacation for the first time this year.  We have visited the parks for 3 years in a row without a plan and have enjoyed our time immensely, but this year we expect it to be a little more crowded since we will be arriving on a holiday weekend.  Because of that, I wanted to have a plan in mind.

That said, let me caution you about planning your vacation down to the minute.  It is very easy to get caught in the trap of trying to plan "the perfect vacation."  Let me assure you:  there is no such thing.  On our first trip to WDW, there was a hurricane offshore and there were severe thunderstorms every day of our trip.  Last year, my daughter had strep throat and ran a fever the whole time.  It is very likely that your vacation will not turn out the way you planned.  BUT, it can take some stress off of you to have a plan in mind as you enjoy the park.  The key word is FLEXIBILITY.  You can plan your vacation perfectly, and something will happen to change it.  Be prepared to be flexible.

Here are a few good websites to get you started:
There are several sample touring plans here for Animal Kingdom, Hollywood Studios, and Epcot.  Look for them on the categories column all the way at the bottom. This is from a great website called Couponing to Disney.  These are her planning sheets from her personal vacation.  I got tons of ideas from her! 
This is a website that you can subscribe to for hundreds of touring plans, but there are a few freebies.
Some good advice here about trying to create your own touring plans.
This is a link to the Amazon page to buy the Unofficial Guide to Disney World 2011.  This book has several different touring plans you can use and tons of advice.

Hope this helps!
Please feel free to let me know if you know of any other resources!

Until next time...
Disney Diva

Friday, April 8, 2011

Getting Started

So…you want to go to Disney World?

Congratulations!  You are going to have a magical experience!

Here are some tips to get you started.

1- Start with the website.  I’d take a look first at the special offers at the bottom of the page.  You can find some great deals here to make your vacation even more affordable!  Then, I usually spend some time trying out different dates to see which will give me the most time at Disney for my money.

2- Decide whether or not you want the Disney Dining Plan.  I think it is most convenient because we don’t have to worry about paying for our meals when we get there.  You can usually save money this way, especially if you are traveling during the times when Disney offers free dining!  (And my recommendation is, if you can- do it!  It is a fantastic deal!)  You can find more information about the dining plans here:

3- Take a look at some of these websites with helpful information: - This is my new favorite planning website with calendars and TONS of reviews and information about when you should go, where you should stay, etc. - The Disney World Mom’s Panel – TONS of great information and advice about planning your vacation - tons of information about all things Disney - a great tool to help you find out about all the goings-on at Disney World, as well as lots of other Disney news  - ideas about all kinds of deals and ways to save money when you plan your Disney vacation (or any other Disney-related fun)

Most of all – have fun!  The planning process can be just as much fun as the vacation! 

Until next time...
Disney Diva

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Thinking about a dining plan?

Another question people always ask me is about whether or not to use the Disney Dining Plan.  There are several dining plans, the most popular being the Magic Your Way Plus Quick Service Dining (2 counter service meals, 2 snacks per day), and the Magic Your Way Plus Dining (1 quick service meal, 1 table service meal, and 1 snack per day).  There is also a Deluxe Dining Plan that offers 3 meals and 2 snacks per day, but I have never actually known anyone (personally) who has opted for this plan.  The other 2 are more affordable, and give you plenty of meal options for each day of your stay.

When we plan a Disney trip, we ALWAYS choose the Disney Dining Plan.  For us, it is just so nice to not have to worry about having to pay for each meal out of pocket.   We have used both the quick service and the regular dining plan.  We like both for different reasons.  We like the quick service dining plan because we don't have to plan our vacation around dining reservations.  We can go to whatever park on whatever day we'd like and we don't have to worry about being in a certain place at a certain time. Plus, there are plenty of good quick service dining options.  That said, we also enjoy the table service options on the regular dining plan because we are able to enjoy character dinners, and more unique restaurants.

If it is within your budget, I'd definitely recommend the Disney Dining Plan.  You can save up to 35% on your food (depending on which plan you choose), but most of all, while you're on vacation, you'll never have to worry about having enough money for food. 

And don't forget, from time to time Disney offers FREE DINING!  You can add a dining plan to your vacation package for FREE and not pay for a single meal your entire trip!  If you can plan your trip during one of these times, I'd definitely recommend it!

Until next time....
 Disney Diva

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Getting a Great Deal at Disney

Most people think I'm absolutely crazy when I tell them that I go to Disney World every year.  "How do you afford it," they always ask.  Going to WDW can be an affordable vacation if you plan it well.  Last year, we went to Myrtle Beach for 2 nights.  The hotel was over $200 a night, plus anything extra we wanted to do like dining out, going to a movie, etc. cost extra.  Our family of 3 can go to Disney World for about $200 per day hotel, tickets, and dining included! 

The best thing to do when you start is check out the special offers at We almost always book using one of these offers.  But there are lots of other websites you can use to get ideas about planning.  Some of my favorites are:,, and

If you can book your vacation when Disney offers the Free Dining discount, you absolutely should.  This is an incredible deal!  There are several other discounts Disney offers from time to time, such as room discounts, kids stay and play free discounts, and gift card promotions (like if you book a package you get a $300 gift card).  And of course, there are other discounts for those in the military, Florida residents, and sometimes for Disney Rewards Visa cardholders.

You CAN afford a trip to Disney!  So get started!

Until next time...
Disney Diva

Tuesday, April 5, 2011


Hi! My name is Denee and I am a self-proclaimed Disney Diva. I have always enjoyed Disney, but completely fell in love with all things Disney the first time I visited Disney World with my family in 2008. My husband can tell you I am now completely obsessed.

For a while now, I've been reading everything I can about Disney World and planning yearly vacations for my family to the parks. More recently, I have started helping other people plan their vacations. That is where this blog begins.

I wanted to find a way to share everything I've researched and learned about planning trips to Disney with as many people as possible. I've heard so many people say "We'd love to go, but we just can't afford it." THAT IS ABSOLUTELY NOT TRUE! We have found Disney World to be a very affordable vacation when properly planned.

That's why I'm here to help you. Because you CAN plan a Disney World vacation!

And it's also a chance for me to talk about it without driving my family completely crazy. :)

Until next time...
Disney Diva