Friday, November 19, 2010

The AquaDuck!!

On January 26, 2011, the new Disney Dream will set sail for the first time!  Not only is it a brand new ship, but it's launching a brand new water coaster that's not available on any of the other ships.  Once my son saw this, he started begging to go on a Disney cruise.  I don't blame him!  I'd love to check this out myself!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Showing off your Disney pictures with Shutterfly holiday cards

It's that time of the year again.  It's time for Christmas cards and cards celebrating the holiday season in general.  When asked me to blog about their holiday cards and other products, I gladly said yes!

I've been going through my Disneyland trip pictures trying to find the *perfect* picture for my cards this year.  Last year, I used and just plugged my 2009 Disney pictures of the kiddos into the following card (note - this is not my actual card from last year, just the design):

The cards came out so cute!  Even though the card doesn't have Disney characters, it was an easy fit with my pictures.  It was so simple to do, and I was able customize my wording.  Once your pictures are uploaded onto, you can easily choose the pics you want and drop them in to place.  You can make it as Mickey-riffic as you wish!  This is the one I'm considering for personalizing for us this year.  I like it because this is actually on card stock.

I've got to say that I absolutely love using, and I use them for printing all of my Disney pictures.  You can also use for gifts like wall calendars and personalized mugs.  A few years ago, I did one of the calendars for my grandparents.  They still have it hanging up in their living room with it opened on their favorite page.  I've also made several of their photobooks using my Disney pictures as an easy way to save memories. is truly one of the reasons I do not use Disney's PhotoPass service very often.

After our trip to Disneyland, I had over 800 pictures to upload!  It was super simple to get them all online with, and I ordered all of the photos on a CD so I can have an easily accessible copy at home.  Now I just have to go through them and find THE perfect picture for my Christmas cards.

Monday, November 15, 2010

The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh is back open!

WDW travelers rejoice!  The Disney Parks Blog is reporting that The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh is reopening this week!  Changes include a new loading area and gift shop.  The new loading area is interactive to give the little ones something to do while in line, including jumping with Tigger, Eeyore's house and Rabbit's garden.

Looking for FastPass?  For the time being, the FP machines are over near Mickey's Philharmagic.

Going soon?  I'd love to post your pictures of the new loading area!

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Caribbean Beach Rooms - Nemo and PoTC

The Caribbean Beach Resort (CBR) was Disney's first moderate resort.  Back in the day, it wasn't called a moderate, but it was the first resort to have outdoor corridors, smaller rooms, etc.   It's also huge at 2,112 rooms.  The resort is organized into six villages named after Caribbean islands.  Check out a map here.  All CBR rooms have either two double beds or a king bed, and they run smaller than deluxe rooms but bigger than value rooms.

In the past, rooms were decorated in standard Caribbean pastels.  Now, guests can choose between the new standard Nemo rooms or upgrade to a Pirates of the Caribbean room.

Pirates of the Caribbean rooms are only located in the Trinidad South village, and they cost more than the Nemo rooms.  Trinidad South is the furthest away from the Custom House, aka Check In, and it can be a hike to Old Port Royale (food court and shopping) from the furthest rooms.  Watch the video for a tour of the new PoTC rooms.

If pirates aren't up your alley, there's always the cute Nemo rooms that are found in the other five villages.

Have you stayed in either of these rooms?  Have advice or opinions to share?  Let me know about your experience!

Friday, October 15, 2010

More Details on the Wild Africa Trek Adventures at AK

Remember how back in July I told you about a new adventure at Animal Kingdom?  Details have finally been released on the Disney Parks Blog.

According to Disney, the new Wild Africa Trek Adventures will be a three hour tour (yes, everyone, start singing!) led by an expert through Pangani Forest and remote regions of the Harambe Wildlife Reserve.   It's definitely not a walk through the park by any means!  It includes a bushwalk and even the need to clip on to a safety line and cliffhanging.  Disney promises up close and personal views of hippos and crocs.  The trek is capped off with food tastings from Africa.

Groups will be limited to 12 guests per adventure.  If you are interested, call the tour line at 407-WDW-TOUR.  Pricing will vary depending on the season, but initial pricing is $129 + park admission for those who book a tour between January 16 through February 26.

If you book and go, let me know!  Would love to hear your thoughts!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Want a treat but can't make it to the park?

I know that Disney food has its detractors, but I'm not one of them.  Food at Disney is part of the entire experience for me.  I have my favorite restaurants, my favorite snacks, my favorite meals and my favorite drinks (Grand Marnier orange slushie, anyone??).  

We just happened upon my favorite snack a few years ago.  We had quite a few snack credits left over, and in our last hours, we just grabbed up several Mickey Mouse crispy rice treats on a stick.  You know, the kind with chocolate covered ears.  If you are still not sure, here's a picture (from, not my own).

I had one once we got home, and it was love at first bite!  

WDW does make some of these on site, but most of the ones I've eaten have been made by an off site company called Selma's.  Selma's has two locations - one in Florida, and the other in Nevada.  They supply many of the prepackaged crispy rice treats at both WDW and DLR.

If you ever just start craving one of these lovelies and can't make it to the park, you can order similar treats straight from Selma's.  Of course, they won't be Mickey ears!  I've also happened upon Selma's crispy rice treats locally, as well as a few other venues like the Georgia Aquarium.  Yeah, not from Disney.  Yeah, not in a cute Disney shape.  But yeah, it's still the same taste and takes me right back to the parks!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

The announcement....

While it wasn't about a fifth gate, a new ride or new resort, Disney did announce today that the 2011 theme will be "Let the Memories Begin!"

Disney has set up a new website,, where you can upload pictures and movies of your WDW trip.  Disney will use some of these pictures in their print and TV ads.  Plus, starting in January, some of these pictures will be illuminated onto Cinderella's Castle in WDW and "it's a small world" in DLR.

Are you excited about this theme?  Personally, I miss the Year of A Million Dreams!  

A Major Disney Announcement Today!!

I'm excited!!  Today at noon, Disney is making a major announcement concerning the Parks!  I've read all kinds of speculation from a new nation joining the World Showcase to a new DVC resort to a new park in Europe.  We shall see in just a few hours!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

The Mickey Mouse Penthouse @ DLR Revealed!

The Disney Parks Blog unveiled one of the most spectacular suites ever designed for Disney - the Mickey Mouse Penthouse (MMP) in the Disneyland Hotel!  

This ginormous suite - 1600 square feet! - is covered in All Things Mickey and decorated in traditional Mickey colors.  Think bold red, yellow and black.  There are two bedrooms, 2.5 baths, a living room, dining room and kitchen.  If you want a total immersion experience, this would be IT!

Below is the living room.   See the giant Mickey head right there in the ceiling?  There are even three flat screen TVs in that giant entertainment center! 

Check out the master bedroom.  A king size bed, another flat screen TV and loads of Mickey!  The description of the master bath just sounds delightful.  A steam shower, Jacuzzi tub and a mirror with a built in TV.  If you've never seen the TV in the mirror, it's a lot of fun.  On top of it all, there are special tiles in the shower that reveal a picture of Mickey when warm water hits the shower wall.  How fun is THAT?!

Even the second bedroom occupants get to have fun!  This room has a round bed.  Round!  There's also a high tech animation station in this bedroom.  I have no artistic talent, but perhaps I would with that kind of technology.  The kids also get to get ready for the parks in this fun bathroom.

Like with the BTRR suite, Disney's not publishing prices with this suite.  If you're interested, give DLR a call!

Monday, September 6, 2010

Free Shipping Ends Today!!! is currently offering FREE SHIPPING, but it ends TODAY!!!  This is a very big savings, as their shipping charges are usually pretty high.   This would be a great chance to get a leg up on Christmas shopping!  I know I'm definitely going to be looking at a few things.  You can even buy some Disney Parks merchandise online now as well.  Happy Shopping!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

I just can't help but remember...

It's been right at four years since we took our first family trip to WDW.  Little W Man was just three years old.  Big S Man hadn't been there since 1985 when he was eight, so it had been a very long while!  It was our first week long trip in 6 years, and we made the most of it.  The weather in Florida was still humid but getting a smidge cooler.  The best part - even with free dining, the crowds were minimal.  Twice - once on Test Track, once on Big Thunder - we were allowed to remain on the ride and do it again.  Now I always long to go back this time of the year!

What is your favorite time to go to WDW or Disneyland?

Thursday, August 26, 2010

What is the right age for Disney?

What is the right age to take your child to Disney?  This is definitely one of the questions I hear most from moms considering a trip to WDW or DLR.  So, what IS the answer? 

From my experience, there is almost no wrong age for a child to be at Disney!  Now, I wouldn't take a newborn, and I wouldn't take a really young one in the peak of the summer, but I've definitely seen my share of young babies in the park.  As a mom, though, I couldn't imagine dragging such a young child through the park, especially in the very hot and humid summer months.  It's not fun for the child, and it's definitely not fun for the parent.  But I swore up and down I'd never take a baby to WDW, and there I was in 2008 with a 10 month old, and it was really amazing to see her experience WDW.  We've also found that our favorite age to take a child has been when they are three, since the experience constantly changes.

A lot of making this determination depends on the child, of course, especially if there are any special considerations necessary.  However, for most children, I think most parents are just hesitant to take their child for a myriad of reasons, including that they are too young to remember the trip, that they will have to go back to the room to take a nap, etc.  And from my experience, a lot of these concerns come from a parent's fear of the unknown.  

One of the most important considerations is just be willing to rest during the day.  Have lunch, go back to the room, chill, sleep, swim, whatever; then head back to the park around dinner time.  You will feel better, your child will feel better, and you'll be in a better mood.   This is, hands down, one of the biggest reasons we stay on property.  We don't have to worry about travel time sucking away our precious time.  In fact, this has led us to stay at a monorail resort our last two times at WDW, and one of the deciding factors in staying at GCH on our recent Disneyland trip.  Rest is so important.  You don't want to be That Family - kids are screaming and whining, parents are rolling their eyes and yelling at the kids and everyone is hot and miserable.

If you're thinking about taking a baby, you should know about the Baby Care Centers, especially in WDW.  Each park has its own Baby Care Center, which is a nice, quiet, air conditioned little slice of heaven.  There's a private area for nursing, a waiting area for dad and the other kiddos with a TV, clean changing areas, things for feeding - mircowave, high chair, etc.  If baby has a blow out or you are out of supplies, they have some available for a nominal fee.  

Don't be afraid!  Make sure you know what Disney offers.  Consider staying onsite.  Know your family's limits.  But have fun!

Any questions you want to see answered about little ones at Disney?

New Suites Coming to Disneyland Hotel

Even if you've never been to Disneyland, chances are very good that you've heard of the Disneyland Hotel.  It's iconic.  It's the original Disney hotel.  And right now, it's receiving a serious TLC renovation on all three of its buildings.  Part of this renovation includes the addition of some absolutely amazingly themed suites.  

According to the Disney Parks Blog, the 11th floor of the Dreams Tower of the Disneyland Hotel will be the new home to what Disney is calling 'signature suites' - over the top theming, attention to detail, sound effects, etc.  You know, the typical Disney treatment!  These uber-themed suites will include the following themes: Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, Fair Tales, Mickey Mouse and Pirates of the Caribbean.  The DP blog recently provided the following pictures of the new Big Thunder Suite:

Prices aren't being publicized yet, but if you are interested, just give Disney a call at (714) 956-6425.

Monday, August 16, 2010

2011 Free Dining Announced!!

WDW is doing it again!  The wildly popular free dining is BACK for 2011.  The program has been expanded, too!  Those staying at mods, deluxes, and deluxe villas will get the standard dining plan, and those staying in the value resorts will get the quick service dining plan.  Please note that

Here are the dates:

Jan 1 – 5
Jan 9 – 13
Jan 21 – Feb 3 
Feb 11 – 17 
Feb 25 – Mar 3 
May 27 – Jun 2 
Aug 19 – Sept 29

The booking window for these promotions is through December 20, 2010, so act now!! Book online or call (407) 939-7926 and ask for booking code NL7 to book your room reservations. 

The fine print: No group rates or other discounts apply. Advance reservations required. With the Disney Dining Plan, children ages 3-9 must choose from children's menu if available. Excludes gratuities and alcoholic beverages. Some table service restaurants may have limited or no availability at time of package purchase.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Price Increase Coming on Park Tickets!

It's that time of the year again.  Time for football to start, kids to start thinking about school again and time for Disney to raise ticket prices!  You will see the regular ticket prices below, but also know that annual passes, Florida resident passes, etc., will also be going up as well.

Please note that these prices are effective as of Thursday, August 5!

New Prices at WDW:
Days On Ticket Base Ticket: Ages 10-up Base Ticket: Ages 3-9 Optional Add-On: Park Hopper Optional Add-On: Water Park Fun & More Optional Add-On: No Expiration
10 Days $262 ($26.20/day) $239 ($23.90/day) $54 $54 (10 visits) $213
9 Days $257 ($28.56/day) $234 ($26.00/day) $54 $54 (9 visits) $208
8 Days $252 ($31.50/day) $229 ($28.63/day) $54 $54 (8 visits) $182
7 Days $247 ($35.29/day) $224 ($32.00/day) $54 $54 (7 visits) $142
6 Days $242 ($40.33/day) $219 ($36.50/day) $54 $54 (6 visits) $106
5 Days $237 ($47.40/day) $214 ($42.80/day) $54 $54 (5 visits) $95
4 Days $232 ($58.00/day) $209 ($52.25/day) $54 $54 (4 visits) $67
3 Days $224 ($74.67/day) $202 ($67.33/day) $54 $54 (3 visits) $28
2 Days $162 ($81.00/day) $146 ($73.00/day) $54 $54 (2 visits) $22
1 Day $82 $74 $54 $54 (2 visits) n/a

New Prices at DLR:

Ticket Ages 10+ Ages 3-9
6-Day Park Hopper $256 $230
5-Day Park Hopper $251 $226
4-Day Park Hopper $231 $208
3-Day Park Hopper $206 $185
2-Day Park Hopper $161 $146
2-Day $151 $136
1-Day Park Hopper $101 $91
1-Day $76 $68

Monday, July 26, 2010

Recipe Share - Tigger Tails

I stumbled upon Tigger Tails at DLR while we were waiting to meet Pooh and Tigger.  Little Man and I went into Pooh Corner to get a drink, and there they were.  These little sticks of orange joy. 

I happened to run across a recipe online for them, and I can't wait to make them!

How to Make Disneyland Tigger Tails at Home
Making Tigger Tails like the ones found at Disneyland is fun, easy, and cheap!
Read More

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Grand Californian Hotel - Disneyland

As I mentioned before, we just returned from our first trip to Disneyland!  We did do more than just the Mouse while we were out there - quick trip through LA, Malibu, Ronald Reagan Library in Simi Valley, Legoland, San Diego, La Jolla - it was definitely a whirlwind trip!  

For the first five nights of our trip, Disney's Grand Californian Hotel (GCH) was our home base.  We had considered non-Disney hotels while in the LA area since Disneyland is right in the middle of town and surrounded by hotels, but Disney offered a great deal this summer - pay for three nights, stay for five.  It brought the GCH down closer to what we would pay at an Embassy Suites or similar, so we chose the GCH.  Boy, we were NOT disappointed!

The GCH was designed by the same architect who designed both the Wilderness Lodge and the Animal Kingdom Lodge in WDW, and you can see some similarities in the designs, such as the impressive lobby (see pic below).  Unlike the two Florida resorts, the GCH is designed in the Craftsman style that is so prevalent in California.

Like WDW, DLR also bases room rates on the view from your room.  The primary room views are standard (overlooks front entrance), pool view, Downtown Disney view and Disney California Adventure (DCA) view.  We booked a standard view room, and to our surprise, we were told at check in that we had a 4th floor room with a pool view!  Love free upgrades.  And to make things more fun, we were able to see part of DCA from our room as well if we looked to our left. 

GCH's pool complex is expansive.  There are three pools and two hot tubs.  The pool in the picture above is also home to the Redwood Slide.  The slide is only open during the day, as it is manned by a lifeguard.  At night, the pool complex is dimly, but safely, lit.  Cabanas are available for daily rental.  During the day, there is also chairside food service.  Another difference between all pools at DLR versus WDW is that they are gated with restricted access.  One must slide a room key to gain access to the pool - see gate below.

Once in our room, we were pleasantly surprised at its size.  The rooms were larger than what we had at the Wilderness Lodge, but they were not as large as the Polynesian or Contemporary.  We had two queen beds, flat screen TV mounted above a dresser, as well as two chairs and a writing table.  Outside on the balcony, there were a few chairs and a small table.  The decor continues the Craftsman theme with very little obvious Disney influence.  There were Mickey heads on the carpet, and there was Bambi and Thumper on the shower curtain.  The dresser hid a small dorm fridge.  

One of the best features of GCH is its proximity to both DLR parks.  Our room was essentially four floors above the private entrance in to DCA!  While this entrance is available to all current guests of any of the three DLR hotels, few can say that it only took them 5 minutes from room to park!  Going to Disneyland Park itself takes a few minutes longer - walk out from the hotel in to Downtown Disney, swing a right, and tada!  You are in the promenade between the two parks.

GCH's proximity to DCA is proving to be a bit problematic with the new World of Color show.  Currently, there are three shows a night, and it is LOUD.  The rides you see in the picture are in the Paradise Pier section, and WoC plays out on the lagoon in that area.   Even though we were not overlooking DCA and were actually a decent distance away from the lagoon, we could still hear the music during the shows, even with the doors closed to the balcony.  Luckily, it was not loud enough to keep us awake at night, but we both commented that it had to be loud in the rooms that overlooked the park on that side. 

We experienced two of the three dining options at GCH.  Whitewater Snacks is the quick service location, and we ate dinner there our last night of our stay.  We found it to be better than average as far as Disney hotel quick service goes.  We also had dinner one night at Storyteller's Cafe.  Three of us chose their buffet, while E Belle ended up with standard chicken nuggets.  The buffet had a carving station, salad, desserts, pasta, vegetables, etc.  Pretty decent, we felt that we got our money's worth considering we left stuffed!  Napa Rose was the only one we did not try, is considered to be the nicest of all DLR restaurants and serves California style cuisine.

I am so glad we chose GCH!  I'd stay here again in a heartbeat.  While it is definitely more expensive than most rooms on Harbor Blvd., it is still cheaper than a deluxe room at WDW.

Coming Soon - Your Chance To Explore the Savannah at AK!

This is cool!

Disney Parks blog is reporting that later this year, small groups of guests will be able to experience Animal Kingdom's Harambe Reserve at WDW up close and personal.
They're still working out the details, but guests can observe wildlife on Disney's savannah and learn about the animals who live there and their behaviors.  From the description, it's a combination of walking through a part of the Harambe Reserve that's not typically open to guests, then riding in a specially designed vehicle for the duration.

More information, including prices and reservations, won't be available until later in the year.  But this definitely sounds like an exciting tour!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Free Dining had been extended at WDW!

Just heard that Free Dining has been extended through December 21, 2010!!

The offer is valid on most nights August 15 through December 21, but you MUST book your trip by August 14.  And remember, if you use this discount, you won't be able to use any other discounts such as AAA, but this is better anyway.

If you book at a Value level resort, the free dining is Quick Service.  Choose a Moderate, Deluxe or Villa, then you get standard Disney Dining for free!

We were able to take advantage of this back in 2006, and it saved us more than $600 for two adults and one child.

Old Key West is being renovated!

Just saw on the disneyparks blog that Old Key West (OKW) is finally being renovated!!  OKW was the first of the DVC resorts, and I've heard over the past few years it was in need of some tender loving care.  The report states that in addition to a standard refurb (paint, carpet, etc.), they're also bringing in flat screen TVs, a sleeper chair in some units and granite countertops.  This is great news!

Monday, July 5, 2010

I'm Back!!

Just returned from Disneyland!!  Well, it's was technically a trip to southern California, but we spent five nights at the Grand Californian Hotel and three days (plus a bit) in the parks.  I'm getting my pictures together - all 800 of them - and my brain out of this travel fog so I can get some great info up on here about DLR!! 

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Dining... Part II

Now, on to the hard core stuff.

Disney has three primary levels of dining plans: MYW + Quick Service; MYW + Dining; and MYW + Deluxe Dining.  (There's also a MYW Platinum Package, but if you are buying this, then you're pretty much bought your own ticket to do everything and eat everywhere in WDW, and you're probably not reading my little blog!)

What does this all mean?  Well, here's the breakdown.  I've included links to the plan specific brochures as well.  These brochures include the list of the participating restaurants as well.  

Snack options are the same for all plans.  Examples of a snack is: 1 frozen ice cream novelty, popsicle, fruit bar, popcorn scoop (single-serving box); single-serving bag of snacks; single piece of whole fruit; 20-oz. bottle of Coke, Diet Coke, Sprite or Dasani water; 22-oz. fountain soft drink; 12-oz. coffee, hot chocolate or hot tea; single-serving prepackaged milk or juice.  Personally, my favorite use of snack comes when we have a lot of credits at the end of our trip, and we stock up on their rice cereal treats in the shape of Mickey with the ears dipped in chocolate.  Yum....

MYW + Quick Service  brochure

If you have very little interest in ever having a sit down meal, this is the plan for you.  MYW + QS gives you 2 quick-service meals and 2 snacks per person per night of your package stay. You'll also receive a mug you can refill as often as you like at any quick-service restaurant at your Disney Resort hotel.  Pretty straight forward.

Each quick-service meal includes:
For Breakfast
  • 1 juice
  • 1 entrée
  • 1 single-serving, non-alcoholic beverage
For Lunch and Dinner
  • 1 entrée
  • 1 dessert
  • 1 single-serving, non-alcoholic beverage

MYW + Dining  brochure

This plan is the most popular, and this is the one that we choose on our trips.  This is the one that works for us.  For each night of your stay, each person receives 1 snack plus:

1 Table Service Meal
Each table-service meal includes:
  • 1 appetizer (Guests ages 3-9 only)
  • 1 entrée
  • 1 dessert (lunch and dinner only)
  • 1 juice (breakfast only)
  • 1 single-serving, non-alcoholic beverage
  • 1 full buffet
1 Quick Service Meal
Each quick-service meal includes:
  • 1 entrée
  • 1 dessert (lunch and dinner only)
  • 1 juice (breakfast only)
  • 1 single-serving, non-alcoholic beverage

There is no refillable resort mug included in this package.  The mugs are available at each resort for about $13 each.  If you're staying for more than a few nights, it's worth the price to buy.

MYW + Deluxe Dining  brochure

If you like to have all meals covered, like to eat a lot of sit down meals or just want it all, then this is for you. This is what you want if you want to have your 3 daily meals covered for each night of your stay, plus 2 snacks.  Plus, you get a bit more food at your TS meals, and this plan also includes the refillable mug at your resort.

Each adult table-service meal includes:
  • 1 appetizer, 1 entrée and 1 dessert (lunch and dinner only)
  • 1 juice (breakfast only)
  • 1 single-serving, non-alcoholic beverage
  • 1 full buffet
Each child table-service meal includes:
  • 1 appetizer, 1 entrée and 1 dessert (lunch and dinner only)
  • 1 single-serving, non-alcoholic beverage
  • 1 full buffet
Each quick-service meal includes:
  • 1 entrée
  • 1 dessert (lunch and dinner only)
  • 1 juice (breakfast only)
  • 1 single-serving, non-alcoholic beverage

So, what looks good to you???

    Wednesday, June 9, 2010

    To Dining Plan, or Not To Dining Plan? Part I

    One of the questions about WDW I have heard the most revolves around the dining plan options, aka the Disney Dining Plan, aka DDP.  Back in my younger years, there was no DDP.  I remember going to Epcot (well, EPCOT Center back then) and my mom running to the video kiosks under Spaceship Earth to grab a lunch reservation for the Rose and Crown.  Those days are long gone, and to make things more fun, Disney likes to tweak the process every now and then.  It's not always the most clear part of planning a Disney vacation.

    Before we start, let's talk basics  WDW has quick service (QS) and table service (TS) meals.  Pretty self explanatory.  And to get the dining plan, you must stay on Disney property, and you must purchase a package, which means you have to buy your tickets and room bundled together.  Disney calls the room and ticket bundle a Magic Your Way (MYW) package.  

    Children under 3 aren't eligible for the dining plan, and children ages 3 - 9 on the dining plan must order from the children's menu.  This usually isn't an issue, other than some kids over the age of 9 still prefer smaller portions, but there's no way around this.  Most Disney restaurants participate in the DDP, but there are a few that won't.  The exceptions are so few that I don't even worry about it, but be sure to check the official list (more on this later).

    For each night of your stay, each child 3+ and adult gets the appropriate daily credits depending on what kind of plan you choose (more on that later).  The credits all get dumped in to piles - one for children's meals, one for adult meals and one for snacks.  If one adult wants to eat 10 TS meals in one day, and there's 15 credits in the pile, then that's fine.  They aren't assigned to each person.  And each time you use the DDP, you will find your total remaining credits at the bottom of the receipt.

    Chew on this, then check out part II.

    Friday, June 4, 2010

    Meal Options for DLR's World of Color

    All the online boards are all a flutter with news of and anticipation for World of Color.  This new nighttime show will be at DCA over the water, and standing room only seating will be in Paradise Pier.  This new show will open on June 11, and no one is quite sure exactly how the standing room is going to work.  But they do expect very heavy crowds, and even people camping out overnight the day before, all just to get a coveted FastPass for WoC.

    If standing for hours on end, holding your space, using up valuable ride time, isn't your speed, Disney's got a few food options that will also get you in to WoC.

    DLR has announced that picnic dinners are available for World of Color!  It appears that guests will be able to order a box lunch at least one day and no more than 60 days in advance, and these guests will also receive passes for guaranteed entry to WoC.  Meals are to be ordered online, NOT via phone with Disney Dining.

    Here's the details:

    • Online orders may be placed up to 60 days in advance but may not be placed on the same day as redemption. The meals may be picked up at the Sonoma Terrace from 2:00 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.
    • Subject to availability, guests who order Picnic meals online will be assigned to the evening’s first show, and guests who make a walk-up purchase will be assigned to that evening’s second show.
    • Picnic meal options include four selections for adults: “The All American” (cold honey-stung fried chicken), “The Taste of Asia” (chilled miso-glazed salmon), “The European Antipasto” (cured meats, regional cheeses, artichoke heart, sun-dried tomato) and “The Mediterranean Vegetarian” (marinated grilled vegetables in a whole wheat wrap with roasted garlic hummus). Kids’ options for chidren ages 3-9 include “The Junior All American” (chicken), “The Lunchbox Classic” (peanut butter and jelly) and “The Little Squirt’s Box” (apple wedges, string cheese).
    • All picnic meals with “World of Color” Reserved Viewing are priced at $14.99 and must be redeemed for the designated reserved show date and time. No refunds, exchanges or other discounts.
    • Each guest entering the reserved viewing area must have reserved viewing area admission. Children must be accompanied by an adult. Guests may only enter the viewing area during designated times and no early or late admission will be allowed. Guests in large parties may not be guaranteed admission within the same reserved viewing area. Separate theme park admission is required.
    • Want to see a video?  Click here
    If you'd rather eat in a restaurant, well, they've got you covered there, too.  Try a WoC dinner package at Ariel's Grotto (note - character meals have been suspended for dinner due to this package) and Wine Country Trattoria.  Here's Disney's lowdown on these meals:

    ~~Guests may order from a selection of Italian cuisine at Wine Country Trattoria ($39.99 for adults; $12.99 for children ages 3-9), or a varied menu of seafood, meat and vegetarian options at Ariel’s Grotto ($36.99 for adults; $20.99 for children ages 3-9). Both restaurants offer Preferred Reserved Viewing for “World of Color.” Reservations: (714) 781-DINE. Seatings are at specified times and space is limited. No early or late admissions. Children must be accompanied by an adult. No refunds, exchanges or other discounts. Separate theme park admission is required.~~

    Note that both of these meals are from a limited menu.  Diners who want to eat at these restaurants and NOT do a WoC package will be allowed to do so, and they will have access to the entire menu.

    So, if WoC is in your plans this summer, a dining package just might be the way to go!

    This news is from the Disney Park Blog.

    Where should we stay?

    Congratulations!  You're going to Disney World.  Now the planning begins.  And one of the biggest questions is, "Where should we stay?"  Let me see if I can help!

    1.  What's your budget?  Okay, to this ranks up in the 'duh' category, but it's important.  Not only how much can you pay, but what are you willing to pay for your room?  There's three levels of resorts: Value, Moderate and Deluxe, each with their own benefits.  Price will also vary depending on what time of the year you visit, as well as available discounts.  If Disney isn't offering a deal for your travel dates, I strongly suggest going through AAA.  Discounts vary, but we've saved up to 20% off of rack rates on our room before. is a great resource for available discounts.

    2.  How do you see your room?  Some people see their Disney room as a place to lay their heads and don't want to pay much even though they can.  Others see their resort as part of the Disney Experience (this would be me) and would be willing to a bit more to have a specific type of resort experience.

    3.  What's important to you?  Do you want space?  Maybe a family suite in a Value resort or a villa will work best for you.  Do you want to be on the monorail?  Check out the MK area resorts.  Do you want to be close to Epcot?  Stay at Beach Club, Yacht Club or Boardwalk.  Want queen size beds?  The Deluxe resorts all have queens (or kings on request), as well as some Moderates, but not Values.

    4.  Do not compare Disney resorts to outside hotels.  Doing this will ruin your mind!  It's a common complaint that Disney Deluxe resorts do not match up, dollar for dollar, with comparably priced outside hotels.  Of course not!  When I stay in a Deluxe resort, I'm not expecting the Four Seasons, even though I could often stay at a Four Seasons for the same price!  Disney resort prices are, yes, higher overall, but it's about more than just the room.  You're paying for transportation and other intangibles.  I'm okay with this, others are not.  And that's fine.  Just know that if you're paying $200+ for your room, it's going to be clean, it's going to be fun, it's going to be nice, just not the same as paying the same rate at another hotel.

    Just some food for thought!

    Disney's Contemporary Resort

    You know the Contemporary Resort, even if you don't realize it.  It's one of WDW's original resorts, the big, hulking A frame structure sitting between Seven Seas Lagoon and Bay Lake.  The ugly one.  See it in the distance under the rainbow?

    For years, CR was saddled in some odd interpretation of futuristic contemporary.  Orange and purple abounded in the rooms.  But a few years ago, CR underwent a much needed transformation.  Rooms now are sleek and modern - square sinks in the bathroom! - and decorated in earth tones.  A flat screen TV hangs above a faux mantle and glass mosaic tiles that are backlit to give the impression of a flameless fireplace (this also doubles as a nightlight!).  Rooms are quite large, which is always nice.  Here's some shots of our room:

    Even after I swore I'd never stay here, I relented.  The S Man is offering to take me to WDW yet again.  I wasn't going to fight him on our resort!  And Little W Man wanted to stay here so we could catch the monorail inside so he wouldn't get so sweaty (he just decided to ignore that he would be sweaty the rest of the day).

    I must say, all four of us enjoyed CR!  You just can't beat the location when you have little ones.  It's the only resort from where you can walk to the MK.  How nice it was not to have to stand in the long line for the resort monorail during nighttime Extra Magic Hours.  While some detractors consider the new CR decor sterile and devoid of character, we loved it.  We found it very soothing after spending long days in a very stimulating environment.  Plus, the S Man wanted to stay on the monorail, and the CR is the cheapest of the three monorail resorts.

    There are two choices for room location - the garden wing, which is close to the pool, and the tower.  Below is an aerial shot of the garden wing (and you can see the Wilderness Lodge in the distance).

    We chose to stay in the tower so as to be in the same building with the resort's amenities.  In the tower, you have a choice of two views - Bay Lake and MK views.  The MK view is more expensive than the other.  We opted for the Bay Lake view, and we were not disappointed.  Here's daybreak from our room:

    It doesn't matter if you choose to stay in the tower or the garden wing, you will have to come in to the tower to catch the monorail, eat at quick service, go to the front desk, dine at Chef Mickey's, the Wave or the California Grill, shop, etc.  The tower is a huge, well lit atrium.

    The main atrium level is level 4, and it's called the Grand Concourse.  This is where almost everything except the front desk can be found.  And of course, it's the home of the famous mural.

    Of course, you've got to have the pool!  There's two pools - one is quiet, the other is heavily populated with kids.  While not as visually stimulating as pools at other resorts - there's no volcano, dragon or sandbottom here - there's still a large slide.  Little W Man loved it.

    This view shows both pools, the garden wing and some of the water sprayers outside the pool.

    Although we've loved our stays at other Disney resorts, the CR is now our new go-to resort!

    Wednesday, June 2, 2010

    What do all those little letters mean?

    The more you look at any travel site about Disney World or Disney Land, you will be bombarded with acronyms.  Here's a list to help you get started.  It's a work in progress - I'm sure I'll be adding to it as time goes on!

    Walt Disney World
    WDW - Walt Disney World
    MK - Magic Kingdom
    DHS - Disney's Hollywood Studios
    AK - Animal Kingdom
    FW - Future World
    WS - World Showcase
    SSL - Seven Seas Lagoon
    CM - Chef Mickey's (or Cast Member, depending on the context)
    BL - Bay Lake
    ME - Magical Express
    EE - Expedition Everest
    KRR - Kali River Rapids
    TL - Typhoon Lagoon
    BB - Blizzard Beach
    DDP - Disney Dining Plan
    TS - Table Service
    CS - Counter Service
    ADR - Advance Dining Reservation
    MYW - Magic Your Way

    Resort Abbreviations-
    Poly - Polynesian Resort
    WL - Wilderness Lodge
    WLV - Wilderness Lodge Villas
    POP - Pop Century Resort
    POFQ - Port Orleans French Quarter Resort
    PO - Port Orleans Resort
    CBR - Caribbean Beach Resort
    CS - Coronado Springs Resort
    BC - Beach Club Resort
    YC - Yacht Club Resort
    BW - Bordwalk Resort
    BWV - Boardwalk Villas
    BLT - Bay Lake Tower
    GF - Grand Floridian Resort
    CR - Contemporary Resort
    FW - Fort Wilderness 
    SOG - Shades of Green

    DLR - Disneyland Resort
    DCA - Disney California Adventure
    WoC - World of Color
    GC - Grand Californian Hotel
    DLH - Disneyland Hotel
    PPH - Paradise Pier Hotel
    DL - Disneyland Park
    DTD - Downtown Disney
    GRR - Grizzly River Rapids

    Abbreviations Used By Both
    PoTC - Pirates of the Caribbean

    IASW - It's a Small World
    HM - Haunted Mansion
    BTMR - Big Thunder Mountain Railroad
    FL - Fantasyland
    TL - Tomorrowland
    DTD - Downtown Disney
    CM - Cast Member

    So, why am I doing this?

    To know me is to know that I love Disney.  Not in some kind of obsessive, overcrazed way.  But I get the Mouse.  I get the appeal.

    Growing up, it was pretty common for us to go to Florida with my grandparents for a week long vacation.  My grandparents stayed at the same hotel in Ormond Beach for 30+ years, every year, without fail, until my grandmother's health prevented her from making the trip.  They'd have a room, we'd have a room.  My parents would usually say we weren't going to Disney that year, we're taking a break.  But about Tuesday, I'd get the itch, and so did they.  We'd go over for a day, sometimes two or three, and hit the parks.  Some years, I'd feel extra lucky.  We'd go down a few days early, stay in the World, then head to the beach.

    Then a funny thing happened.  I grew up, went to college and got married.  Suddenly, I'm off the parental payroll!  I have my own bills!  And, gasp, a kid!  The in 2006, I fell victim to a very well done ad campaign by Disney - a family of four can spend a week for something in the neighborhood of $1500.  Score!  We were only a family of three at the time.  The more we investigated, looked and planned, by the time we booked, what we chose was WAY more than $1500.  But that was okay, as it was our first week long trip since our honeymoon.  What an amazing trip this was!

    And here we are.  Four years later, and I'm totally sucked in again.  I swore I'd never take a baby, and there I was a few years ago, running around with a 10 month old.  I love planning our trips so much, and I have stored so much information away.  I love talking about planning so much that people have emailed me, had me over to their house and talked to me for long periods of time just trying to get a grasp on this massive place called Walt Disney World.  I'm starting this blog to help others, help my friends and help myself by giving me an outlet to share.

    Now we're planning a trip to Disneyland, and I couldn't be more excited!

    Welcome, and I hope you find this blog useful and entertaining.