Christmas Wish List

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It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas! Well, almost.  Are you just making your list or checking it twice?  What could possibly be a better gift to give a loved one, your family or even yourself, but a trip to the “The Most Magical Place On Earth”?  Here’s a bit of Disney trivia knowledge–The Magic Kingdom is commonly known as “The Most Magical Place On Earth”, but the Disneyland resort is known as “The Happiest Place On Earth“.

The thought of opening up a surprise gift of a trip to your favorite resort, or one that you have been waiting years to try, or better yet, the best of BOTH worlds- a Disney Cruise AND a resort stay linked together for your vacation pleasure, can make this the ‘most magical’ Holiday yet!  It is always a good time to book a Walt Disney World resort stay or cruise.  But this time of year as it gets more difficult to decide on gifts for your growing children or as your parents age and want to spend more time with them in their golden years, planning a trip to bring multiple generations together for memories that can last forever  is an ideal present for the entire family.

On a Disney Cruise you can sail on a 3night/4day excursion (or longer) to the Bahamas from Port Canaveral Florida.  The ship stops in Nassau, the capital of the Bahamas for a day trip filled with shopping, snorkeling and various other onshore adventures.  Then onto Castaway Cay, Disney’s privately owned island to meet the stingrays and skip along the pristine beaches.  You can choose to stay on board and participate in activities or be adventurous and travel through the AquaDuck, a “water coaster” located aboard the Disney Dream.  Think of journeying on this coaster 765 feet through an acrylic tube up, down, around and off the side of the ship, through the Forward Funnel and then down a span of 4 decks!  Once you arrival back in Port Canaveral you can board the Magical Express on your way to the Walt Disney World Resort property.  An amazing perk to the Magical Express is once you leave your luggage with the airline at the home departure airport, it is handled for you throughout your entire vacation, from the arrival at Orland International Airport to the Disney Cruise Line and then off to the resort.  Once you are ready to leave your resort for hoo, you check in your luggage with the airline at the resort and off to the airport it goes.  The bags always arrive in the ships cabin or resort room in a timely manner.  If you choose a split stay at different resorts on property Bell Services will transfer the luggage at no charge between the resorts.

A wonderful option about the “Land and Sea’ type package is Disney now sells them as separate packages.  This allows you to take advantage of the same discounted offers on rooms or free dining or cruise rates once they are announced.  As a multi-generational vacation, the older generation can relax and enjoy the cruising lifestyle and the younger generation can encounter an assortment of onboard leisurely past times.  Then it’s off to the parks where the magic of Disney brings out the kid in all of us.  The wave of enjoyment to see your children and your parents ride Dumbo together for the first time, sharing that first Mickey Bar as it melts in the hot Florida sun or at the end of a long day, the enchanting emotion to hold your mom or dads hand watching Wishes fireworks fall from the night sky hearing

Star light, star bright,

First star I see tonight.
I wish I may, I wish I might,
Have the wish, I wish tonight.

We’ll make a wish and do as dreamers do.

And all our wishes, (All our wishes)
Will come,

Epcot’s Food and Wine Festival


Halloween has passed and the Fall season is in full swing.  Now is the time to try something new!  Head to Epcot’s Food and Wine Festival and delight yourself with a mix of foods and beverages from all over the world.  The World Showcase in Epcot is home to 11 countries placed around the World Showcase lagoon.  But during the Food and Wine Festival some other countries like Poland, Singapore, Africa, Scotland, and Greece make themselves known with kiosks serving appetizer sized portions and beverages (alcoholic and non-alcoholic) to pair with or complement the dish.  You can explore the cultures of the world with a visit to the World Showcase using snack credits from the dining plan, at some kiosks and pavilions.  Choose one of the favorite dishes or drinks in a miniature version from some of the best restaurants on Disney property now available during this Festival at a kiosk located in the country itself.  There is a never ending array of desserts, like the chocolate covered cannoli in Italy to the FlanCocho, a vanilla caramel custard with a chocolate coffee cake bottom from Puerto Rico. The ebb and flow of the variety of beers ranges from the Innis & Gunn Original at Scotland’s stand to the The Trois Pistoles a Belgian Strong Dark Ale on Canada’s cart.  Champagnes from France such as Dom Perignon will tingle your nose with effervescence or a glass of Carnaval Moscato from Brazil to pair with an Artisan Cheese Platter from Hops and Barley in the United States pavilion.  The American favorite, Samuel Adams beer, can also be found there along with Leinenkugel and Belgian Snapshot in a tasty Beer flight.

The Food and Wine Festival is an adventurous excursion into the world of foods and beverages that you may never try at home.  The price points are reasonable, remember it’s a small portion or a few ounces in a glass, but taking your time and sampling around the Showcase can certainly make up for a meal in itself!


The Mickey Ice Cream Bar:)

First Mickey Bars

First Mickey Bars

Rumored for Summer 2016 DATES to be ANNOUNCED in the coming days..

As well as some possible changes to the Quick Service Dining Plan-Dessert to be excluded with meal but an additional snack credit added…AGAIN rumors to begin with but the change has already been made to UK Dining Plan for 2017.

Snack credits.  They come with your Dining Plan.  They make you smile.  Once you have chosen the Dining Plan that fits the needs of your family it’s time to map out the Snack Credit Attack Plan!  The Quick Service and Regular Dining Plans both come with one credit but the Deluxe Dining Plan(my personal favorite) comes with two.  So what’s the big deal about using those snack credits wisely? Simple..Mickey Ice Cream Bars!  At least that’s a start.  It is the very first snack credit used upon entering the Magic Kingdom for me.  There is no ‘official’ list for the snack credit, but a symbol and most items under $5 are usually a clue.  Now that Starbucks is located on Disney property at the Walt Disney World resort most of their coffee drinks are available for snack credit use. A snack credit can be any item from a bottle of water to a single scoop popcorn, a waffle at Sleepy Hollow or the coveted Dole Whip!  Visit Epcot and wander over to the World Showcase and have a school bread in Norway, an egg roll in China or a churro in Mexico. Maybe a gelato in Italy or a chocolate croissant in France.  Walk from Epcot to Hollywood Studios and head into Starring Rolls Bakery indulging in fan favorites the Red Velvet Cupcake or the Butterfinger Cupcake. Next door is Sweet Spells Confectionery, reveling in Disney Villains, where you can bite into a candy apple of all sorts(poison or non poison-old Disney joke;)) Walk down Sunset Boulevard to the end and pick up a scoop or two of ice cream from Hollywood Scoops.  I have personally witnessed the biggest chocolate chip cookie ice cream sandwich in my entire life from there! Definitely some of the BEST ice cream on property.  Find your way through the rainforest at Animal Kingdom Park and munch on a Mickey pretzel or Babycakes brand mini cupcakes(vegan/gluten free).  Snack credits may be used anywhere the Dining Plan is taken including, Typhoon Lagoon, Blizzard Beach and Downtown Disney.

The snack options are unlimited!  The Magic Kingdom is filled with goodies that will bring a smile to your face.  Stop in the Main Street Confectionery and it’s like stepping into the world of Willy Wonka.  Enter New Fantasyland and visit Big Top Treats featuring chocolate covered bananas, pineapple skewers, marshmallows… just about everything chocolate dipped!

Unofficial snack lists can be found on various sites.  Never miss an opportunity to use one and if you plan carefully enough you may be able to have a Mickey Ice Cream Bar a day!


Mickey Pumpkin Lanterns Light the Way

WDW 2012Baseball dance recital 141                                                  Ahhh the ‘still warm’ feeling of the morning air this time of year when you step out your front door.  The leaves are turning, maybe falling.  Halloween is around the corner and the kids are giddy with excitement and the prospect of heaps of candy on their trick or treat routes.  But for one moment, have you thought what it would be like to wake up in the Walt Disney World Resort on one of these Fall mornings?  Fall is a beautiful time of year to visit the parks and enjoy the many experiences that happen there now.  The parks are decorated in Fall and Halloween décor.  Mickey lanterns light the path on Main Street, and pumpkins greet you at the Main entrance.   The weather is a little cooler, and the humidity has lessened to a tolerable level.  Crowd levels have now dropped to a 3 or 4 out of 10, especially in the month of September and through most of October.

A Fall visit to the Walt Disney World resort entices visitors by the many discounts offered.  Perhaps a Free Dining discount works best for your family to see the characters at a yummy breakfast buffet where you can indulge in a Mickey waffle or two?  When planning which resort best fits your family’s needs and wants, it’s always a sensible idea to think about your dining plans as well.  By staying on Disney property you can benefit with this discount depending on your choice of a Value resort to a Deluxe resort.   The Free Dining changes with resort level.  For example, a Value Resort may offer the Quick Service Dining Plan that includes (2) Quick Service Meals, (1) snack and (1) refillable mug, the Moderate and Deluxe Resorts offer the Dining Plan that includes (1) Table Service Meal, (1) Quick Service Meal, (1) snack and (1 refillable mug per person, per night.  An important item to know is even though the specific dining comes with your resort choice, that you can upgrade the Dining to the next level and pay the difference between the two plans.  If you decide to do Table Service meals that require two credits, like Cinderella’s’ Royal Table to meet the Princess herself, the upgrade to the Deluxe Dining Plan may benefit your needs,  The Deluxe Dining Plan offers (3) Meals-can be used at Table or Quick Service, (2) snacks and (1) refillable mug per person.  The cost difference to upgrade is relative to the cost of certain Table Service meals that can sometimes be the cost of the upgrade alone for a five or six night stay!  As always, I will be happy to explain the plan and it’s sometimes complexities, when the resort of choice has been selected.(Bookings for Fall recommended early to mid summer to take advantage of Free Dining offer when it is offered)

But onto the BEST.REASON.EVER to visit the Walt Disney World resort this time of year!  Drum roll please…The Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party!  This is a hard ticket event (meaning: must purchase a separate ticket from regular park admission) in the Magic Kingdom and held certain nights in September and October up to and sometimes including Halloween night.  There are trick or treat locations throughout the park, character meet and greets, some rarer than rare too!   The Villains show on the castle stage with my personal favorite, Maleficent and the highlight of the evening is The Boo To You parade.  It features the Headless Horseman and some of Disney’s finest Villains shown twice an evening.  The earlier 9pm parade is great if you have young ones but the later 11pm parade is less crowded.  In between parade times you can view Hallowishes at 10pm, the fireworks spectacular high over the Magic Kingdom with a Halloween twist.  Being surrounded by all this scary fun and you can still ride some of your favorite attractions, most with shorter waits than a usual park day.

Current offers

Offer #1–Save up to 25% on rooms at select Walt Disney World® Resort hotels for stays most nights Oct. 4 – Nov. 24 and Nov. 28 – Dec. 23, 2015.

Booking Window: July 20 – Sept. 18, 2015
Travel Window: Oct 4 – Nov. 24 and Nov. 28 – Dec. 23, 2015

For Oct. 4-10, Oct. 16-17, Oct. 23-31 and Nov. 8-21, 2015:

  • Save up to 10% at Select Value Resorts
  • Save up to 15% at Select Moderate Resorts
  • Save up to 20% at Select Deluxe and Deluxe Villa Resorts

For Oct. 11-15, Oct 18-22, Nov. 1-7, Nov 22-24 and Nov. 28 – Dec. 23, 2015:

  • Save up to 15% at Select Value Resorts
  • Save up to 20% at Select Moderate Resorts
  • Save up to 25% at Select Deluxe and Deluxe Villa Resorts

Offer Exclusions: 3-bedroom villas, campsites, the Villas at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa, Disney’s Polynesian Villas and Bungalows, Bay Lake Tower at Disney’s Contemporary Resort and Disney’s Art of Animation Resort – The Little Mermaid Standard View Room

Offer #2–Experience what a Walt Disney World® Resort family vacation is all about with this 4-day/4-night room and ticket Magic Together package in a standard room at Disney’s All-Star Resorts for a family of 4 from just $1,701.

Booking Window: July 20 – Sept. 18, 2015
Travel Window: Most nights 10/4-10/8, 10/12-10/15, 10/18-10/22, 10/25-10/29, 11/1-11/5, 11/9-11/12, 11/15-11/19 and 11/28-12/10/15. Check for other great rates between 10/4-11/24 and 11/28-12/23.

Offer #3–Save on a kid-size package at Walt Disney World® Resort. They can enjoy 3 nights at Disney’s All-Star Music Resort with 2-day Theme Park Tickets at $903 for a family of 3.

Booking Window: July 20 – Sept. 18, 2015
Travel Window: most Sunday through Thursday nights
10/4-10/8, 10/12-11/5, 11/9-11/19 and 11/29-12/10/15.

To Breakfast, or not to Breakfast…That is the Question!

Ok, so maybe Shakespeare and Disney really don’t go together but it is a truthful question!  Breakfast at the Walt Disney World resort is always an exciting time to begin your adventure for the day.  But the question of the day is…Character breakfast, buffet, Table Service, or Quick Service(Counter Service)?  As my children are getting older and we are slowing the pace of our mornings, I am beginning to lean toward the Quick Service idea.  Well, slowing the pace and the fact I am not so sure how many more times my 11 year old son can be kissed on the cheek by a visiting Princess:) So truth be told, does experiencing breakfast depend on the age of your children or your touring plans that day for the park?

A buffet style Character breakfast is the most beneficial to the entire family.  A few valid points are the various foods available to satisfy each individual palate, quick turn-around, which to contrary belief, a character meal can easily be experienced in approximately 45 minutes to an hour, and of course meeting the characters!  Some restaurants offer numerous characters at one seating.  This allows for maximum park touring time instead of waiting in long, hot lines for an autograph of your fave character. But the reason the Character buffets are the best?? Disney BACON of course!  It’s never-ending…ok, maybe that’s more of a personal reason:)  The restaurants to consider for the BEST Character buffet style I would rank as this:

Contemporary Resort-Chef Mickeys-Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Pluto, Goofy                  
Animal Kingdom Park-Donald’s Tusker House-Donald, Daisy, Mickey, Goofy              
Magic Kingdom Park-Crystal Palace-Winnie the Pooh and Friends                        
Beach Club Resort-Cape May Cafe-Mickey, Goofy, Minnie, Donald                          
Magic Kingdom-Cinderella’s Castle-Cinderella’s Royal Table(Cinderella as main Princess)(Family Style)  
Norway in Epcot-Akershus-Disney Princesses(Belle as main Princess)                          
The Polynesian Village Resort-O’Hana-Lilo & Stitch  
Grand Floridian Resort-1900 Park Fare-Mary Poppins and Friends  
Hollywood Studios-Hollywood&Vine-Disney Junior Characters

If your family still decides on a ‘sit-down’ style breakfast there are many more to choose from without having the Characters making the rounds.  Some of the most popular breakfast destinations for Table Service that offer buffet style as well as a sit-down menu option are as follows:

Yacht Club-Captains Grille-Buffet and sit down menu  
Grand Floridian-Grand Floridian Cafe-Sit down menu  
The Polynesian Village Resort-Kona Cafe-Sit down menu
Fort Wilderness Campground- Trails End-Buffet and Family Style     
Contemporary Resort-The Wave- Buffet and Family Style
The Wilderness Lodge-Whispering Canyon Cafe-  Buffet and Family Style

Last but not least are the Counter Service options which you can find at your home resort, any of the other resorts located on Disney property or within the Parks themselves.  So many to choose and too many favorites to mention!  The most convenient option for a Quick Service meal is the obvious…your home resort.  Many points beginning with the convenience-after your meal, head back to your room to pick up any necessities or take the food back there and enjoy a quiet retreat to your balcony.  Don’t forget to grab your refillable mug for coffee, hot chocolate or tea.  You can opt for a Mickey Ice Cream Bar as a starter, or a full plate of Mickey Waffles drenched in chocolate syrup, chocolate chips and whipped cream. Of course there are healthier pickings but being in Disney…make your own choice on that!   If you so choose to visit another resort counter service restaurant, the testing phase should be over at this time and permitted to use your refillable mug at ANY resort Quick Service location.  Please do not quote me on that as these ‘rules’ change frequently once on site.  However, if you are on the Dining Plan then no need to be of concern as you receive a drink with your meal.  A helpful tip I received a long time ago at Hollywood Studios Starring Rolls-to use a Quick Service credit instead of depleting snack credits for this type of meal by purchasing a drink, yogurt and breakfast item(Example: bagel).  They will then deduct it as a QS credit instead of three snack credits.

The most important point of all is you HAVE to start the day with breakfast!  Not only to fuel your body for the day ahead, but to sit with your family, talk about your experiences from the day before, discuss the plan of the day, and look at those radiant smiles on your children’s face as they think about conquering Expedition Everest or getting drenched on Splash Mountain. Because by the 3pm Parade, in the HOT Florida sun, hours of attractions and character greeting lines, and Park Hopping you’re going to need a moment like that to remember!  But that’s what it’s all about:) 🙂





What time is the 3 o’clock parade?

In March 2014 the Magic Kingdom introduced a new afternoon parade which begins at 3pm.  It starts from Frontierland near Splash Mountain and follows the route through Liberty Square, around the Castle Hub and down Main Street.  If you are familiar with the Nighttime Spectacular Main Street Electrical Parade, that parade follows the opposite direction beginning at the Firehouse on Main Street.  The best view of the parade is in front of Cinderella’s Castle.  You can view the floats coming over the bridge from Liberty Square.  The colors are amazing and the costumes are far above anything Disney has offered in the past.  Some costumes are interpretations of support characters found in Disney movies.  There are nearly 100 performers and Disney Characters on floats and foot.   Rapunzel and Flynn have their own float with swinging pendulums and are joined by Princess Anna and Queen Elsa and everyone’s favorite-Olaf!  See Cinderella, Belle, Tiana and Merida and watch as Prince Philip battles the highlight of the parade-the fire breathing dragon otherwise known as Maleficent.

This parade is a must do for a first time as well as a mid day break.  Seeing so many characters is great for smaller children as it might help curb waiting in line for character meet and greets.

And believe it or not, one of the most commonly asked questions to Cast Members when people see the ropes being put in place for the parade….What time is the 3 o’clock parade?


The New Fantasyland

Tink (533x800) (424x640)Sword in the stone







When was the last time you visited Fantasyland in the Magic Kingdom?

In December 2012 the Walt Disney World resort opened their expansion to the land now known as the New Fantasyland.  New attractions include The Seven Dwarves Mine Train-take a roller coaster ride through the mine and end at their cottage, Under the Sea-Journey of the Little Mermaid-visit Ariel’s world along with Ariel’s Grotto-a new meet and greet character interaction, Enchanted Tales with Belle-step into the world of Belle and the Beast as Belle tells her story through children and adults alike dressed as the storybook characters, Casey Jr. Splash & Soak Station where everyone can cool off with this ornately decorated splash area, and Princess Fairytale Hall to meet the newest of Disney Princesses, Princess Anna and her sister Queen Elsa and visiting Princesses like Sleeping Beauty, Snow White, and Rapunzel. The area has been expanded to include the newest restaurant to the Magic Kingdom, Be Our Guest.  Visit Prince Eric/Beast’s castle to enjoy a Quick Service Lunch or a Table Service dinner.  There are three rooms to dine; The West Wing with the rose, and rumbling thunder, the open air Ballroom or the Rose Gallery(some are open only to lunch or dinner).

The old classic attractions are still there as well and some have a new location or have been expanded.  Goofy’s Barnstormer has moved from the area formerly known as Toontown which was demolished to build the expansion.  Dumbo now has a twin and located in the Storybook Circus area complete with LED lighting and water fountains below the flying Dumbos.  A new train station depot was built for the Walt Disney World Railroad and will take you back to Main Street or Frontierland.

Attractions such as Small World, Peter Pan’s Flight and Prince Charming’s Royal Carousel, Mad Tea Party Tea Cups and Mickey’s Philharmagic still see average wait times as these attractions are as popular as ever.

The New Fantasyland is a magical spot to watch the Wishes fireworks. High above your head and all around fireworks explode from every direction.  If you have seen the fireworks before or are planning for a different night then take that time to enjoy the attractions in the area when wait times are non existent.

And may all your wishes come true….


10647078_838958366122768_2010334450230169356_nI love the anticipation of a Disney vacation!  When you wake up for that early flight or the moment you walk through the doors of your favorite resort and the cast member greets you with ‘Welcome Home’!  Maybe it’s putting on that pin that exclaims the event you are celebrating on this trip.  Perhaps it’s that first glance at the Castle coming down Main Street, or my personal favorite (and my children’s) the glimpse of the Hollywood Terror of Terror from the beginning of Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood Studios.  There are so many moments and memories awaiting us to experience with our friends and family member that make the anticipation even more exciting!

These are the times to appreciate with our friends or family members that visit the WDW resort with you on your next adventure.  Is there a friend who has never been there, stayed on property, or have you just not visited in years?  Find that friend, reconnect with your family members and the most fun of all—travel with your children’s friends and their families!  The joy and excitement that radiates from their faces when they look at you is a defining moment in being a parent–That you have made them the happiest they can possibly be at that one moment in time.


It’s official! I am a Disney Vacation Planner!


Here it is…My Blog about all things DISNEY!  I have ventured into the world of planning your next Disney vacation.  Whether you want to plan your magical getaway to the Walt Disney World resort in Florida or Disneyland in California, maybe your first Disney cruise, or an Adventure by Disney excursion, Hilton Head or Vero Beach, ohhh or perhaps Aulani in Hawaii, I am here to do it all for you.  The benefits of booking with me for your Disney vacation are simple-First and foremost-No additional cost to you for my services.  Disney pays me to send you to visit the Mouse! That means what you would pay to book a trip through the Walt Disney Travel Company is the same you pay if booking through me. Secondly, my VAST knowledge of all things Disney.  I will be there from start to finish with guidance from picking your resort, to dining reservations, FastPass Plus reservations, and much more.  I am your inside track to experiencing the most magical vacation you could ever imagine!  Contact me now to begin your planning at JH