Monday, August 31, 2009



I love Disney World. I make no secret of it and I have been known to cry when the train pulls up in front of the Magic Kingdom first thing in the morning. I love Disney, and it’s magical to me. You can’t convince me or my family otherwise. Believe it or not, my family seems to calm down amidst the constant magic of Disney World. It is the measure for all successful vacations: nothing is as fun, tiring, imaginative, or inspiring as Disney World.

My family tries to go every 18 months or so. We can usually go a full 12 months before we start going into Disney World withdrawal. You think I exaggerate, but I assure you, I do not. Even my husband will sometimes look me straight in the eye and say, “How long until we go back to Disney World?” There is no higher endorsement for a vacation than that, I assure you.Here are my best tips for you if you’re planning a Disney World vacation.

1.Stay on property. It can be pricey, but it’s very worth it. There are three levels of hotels: Value, Moderate, and Deluxe. We have stayed at

  • Port Orleans Riverside (moderate; New Orleans theme)
  • The Yacht Club (deluxe; nautical theme and best pool on property–it has a sand bottom!)
  • The Wilderness Lodge (deluxe; Grand Canyon and family resort of the 1950s theme–very Craftsman)
  • The Polynesian (deluxe; Hawaiian theme; on the monorail so it’s very easy to get to Magic Kingdom and EPCOT)
  • The Boardwalk (deluxe; themed like the old Boardwalks of the late 1800s/early 1900s; walking distance to Disney’s Hollywood Studios and EPCOT)
  • Pop Century (Value; larger than life theming, great food court)

My favorite of the three resorts where we’ve stayed is the Port Orleans Riverside (a moderate). It wasn’t too far from anything, and it had a boat launch to Downtown Disney that was very convenient. It’s a great resort that isn’t too spread out. Also, if you have five in your family, it’s currently the only moderate resort on the DW property that allows five in a room (on the Bayou side). Otherwise you will have to book two rooms. FYI: Make sure when booking two rooms that you confirm they are adjoining (connecting) and not adjacent (close to), especially with kids involved.

2.Use the Dining Plan. I definitely recommend the Dining Plan. You can use your Dining Plan for one counter service meal, one full service meal (also called Table Service), and one snack for each night you are staying at a DW resort. The full service meals can be used to eat at a character meal. You are not limited to using one of each type of meal for each day. In other words you can use all your counter services in one day, or two counter services and a table service one day. Everything is lumped together on your card and just taken off as you use it which is very convenient. For the price (about $38/day/adult and $10/day/child), you’re getting more food than you can imagine. It definitely costs more if you go out-of-pocket. Keep in mind that it can cost more than $35 for one adult table service meal. So essentially you’re getting free food and snacks. Trust me, it will pay for itself.

3.Make ADRs. ADR stands for Advanced Dining Reservations. You can make your ADRs 90 days from your arrival date and I highly suggest you do. Without ADRs you’ll end up waiting for a table that may never become available. First priority is given to those who have an ADR. I have even made an ADR, gotten the time wrong, showed up at the restaurant and explained myself, and was put ahead of others without an ADR. It pays to make the ADR. It’s an especially good idea to make your ADRs as soon as you can if you would like to eat at Cinderella’s Castle or are planning on attending a hard-ticketed event. For example, many people love to eat at The Liberty Tree Tavern just before Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party. Therefore it fills up fast. To ensure you have a table, you need to make your ADRs 90 days from your arrival date.

4.Buy the Park Hopper. It isn’t that much more than a regular park pass, and the more days you are there, the cheaper it is to add a day or utilize the Park Hopper option. The Park Hopper option allows you to visit more than one park on any given day and gives you great flexibility. If you’re done with Animal Kingdom by lunch (and you very well may be) you have the option of visiting another park later in the day. Or if you’ve just had dinner and were at EPCOT all day but are close to Magic Kingdom, you can pop over to see the fireworks that night. We’ve done this several times.

5.Plan your route. Know which park you’re going to on which day. This helps with your ADRs and also with how your day will go. Make a loop (start at one end and work your way around) instead of criss-crossing. Seriously, get the map and map it out. Look at the shows and parades and decide what you want to see and when you need to be there. Understand that there is too much to do and you cannot get it all done in one trip. Don’t try! We’ve been five times and we have yet to do it all. I think you could go every year and still have something new each time.

6. Seek out the Magical Moments. My family were surprised by how many times “special” things happened to us on our trip. Some of it was the pixie dust that Disney sprinkles around , but most of it was stuff I researched ahead of time. Small things like wearing matching Mickey family shirts got us a lot of attention from the cast members and characters with the added bonus of making my kids easier to spot in a crowd. Getting there early to the Pirate Tutorial as well as the Jedi Training shows secured us a great spot to be chosen to participate. (A sign scrawled on a napkin that read “the force is strong with this one!” didn’t hurt either!) When we stumbled onto the Kim Possible Adventure and signed up to help save the planet- my kids were thrilled and thought this interactive espionage mission was a highlight of the trip…most of the Disney visitors were asking us where to get a “kimmunicator” and how did we find out about it… the answer is all in the planning!

If you’d like help in planning a trip as wonderful as mine turned out to be, I’d be glad to help! I can give you any and all details on how to make it happen- heck, I can do it all for you and all you have to do is show up and enjoy it! (Come to think of it, that’s just what my husband does! ;0)

Monday, August 24, 2009

My Day As A Spy…

My Day As A Spy.......

While in Disney World August 3, 2009, my family had the opportunity to become “REAL” Secret Agents with Disney’s Kim Possible World Showcase Adventure! Whether you are 5 or 105, this is an adventure you don’t want to miss.

Stationed around Epcot’s World Showcase are several Kim Possible Kiosks where families, like mine, begin their secret agent adventures.
We began in Future World at Innoventions. A Disney Cast Member showed us to a computer where we swiped our park ticket and entered the number of people working together on our secret agent adventure. We received a ticket that gave us a time and location to begin our first mission. We arrived at our KP Kiosk location and the family shared one “Kimmunicator” and worked together as a team.
The cast member that walked the family through use of the “Kimmunicator” was AMAZING! He informed us that there are spies around and we should be careful throughout our mission. He also gave the children a signal when to pass the “Kimmunicator” to the next person in our group… Every time you hear the Kim Possible music, pass it to the next person.

The “Kimmunicator”, a cell phone, is easy to use and has a “back” and “help” button should you need assistance.

It was now time to begin our first mission! We stepped away from the kiosk to receive our mission details… We were off to Mexico! It was so exciting to receive clues and find the locations. Each clue gave us a picture of our next location with directions. Once we arrived at our destination, we would send a “signal” with our “Kimmunicator” and something nearby would interact with us. Maps were revealed on walls, piƱatas revealed clues and we disarmed a rocket that shot out of the volcano inside Mexico!

The children were THRILLED with each step of the mission and amazed at how display cases and sights we see everyday at Epcot interacted with our mission.

We were VERY careful to be stealth and not let spies around us know what we were doing! Upon completion of the mission, we were given the option to choose another mission in a different country or we could drop off the “Kimmunicator” in a secret drop box located near the country of our mission.

We completed three missions before we returned our “Kimmunicator” (about 1 ½ hours) and exited the World Showcase. We plan on spending more time on our next trip to Disney World at the World Showcase to allow more missions!

On your next Disney World vacation, plan on at least two missions with your family which take about 30 minutes to complete. Each adventure is unique and exciting. Don’t we all have the desire to be REAL Secret Agents? Don’t miss this family spy adventure!!!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

What will you Celebrate???

What will you Celebrate?
The Disneyland Resort is the perfect place to celebrate your birthday
~ No matter how old you are!

Just a couple of months before my 40th birthday, I decided that I wanted to celebrate my big day at my favorite place, Disneyland, and I am so glad that I did. The memories of My Disneyland Birthday Party will remain in my mind for many, many, many years to come.

After arriving at the Plaza Inn on Main Street, my family and I were escorted to our table. Several other families and groups were seated around the outdoor area too. All of us where there to share in the group birthday celebration. At our table, we found for each of us, a party hat, a souvenir birthday cup filled with lemonade and a Mickey shaped plate with a plain, circle-shaped yellow cake in the large circle, 3 colors of frosting in one of the 'ears' and Mickey-shaped sprinkles in the other 'ear'.

Soon we were introduced to Pat E. Cake, our host for the party. He explained that we were each to decorate our own cakes as we competed to create the perfect 'mouse-ter piece'.
One of the 'mouse-ter pieces' would be chosen as the 'Winner'.

The entire time we were decorating our cakes, Pat E. Cake strolled around the party singing clever songs, he spoke kindly to the birthday guests, families and friends, making each of us feel special in the group birthday party. His presence at the party created that special 'Disney Magic' that can only be found at a Disney park.

After much thought I frosted my cake carefully and added sprinkles to just the right places in hopes that my uniquely decorated cake would be selected as the 'Winner'.
Of course, each guest was a winner and we were each awarded
A Birthday Mouse-ter Piece Ribbon.
I wore my ribbon proudly!
We all enjoyed eating our delicious 'Mouse-ter Piece and then were surprised by a special guest appearance by Mickey and Minnie! All the birthday girls and boys were asked to stand with Mickey and Minnie while the other guests sang 'Happy Birthday' to us.
Then we each got our picture taken with Mickey and Minnie!

My 40th birthday party at the Disneyland Resort was a great experience!
My children have asked if they can celebrate their birthday at Disneyland ~ they are 9 and 12 years old.
I had to wait until I was 40 to celebrate mine. Hmm, we'll have to see! He He!

Seating for 'My Disneyland Birthday Party' happens daily,
reservations are required and there is a small fee.

Contact me and I will be happy to help you arrange a magical vacation to the Disneyland Resort, including a memorable birthday celebration at the place Walt Disney called
'The Happiest Place On Earth'.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

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Bay Lake Towers in Walt Disney World

Disney’s Bay Lake Towers
by: WDWTravels Agent Alyson Morrissey

This last time I visited the World, just a few weeks ago, I was fortunate enough to visit the new Bay Lake Towers at the Contemporary Resort, the newest Disney Vacation Club Resort!

Being a DVC member myself who owns at Bay Lake Towers this was an extra special treat. To sum it up it one word, WOW, Disney really has out done themselves yet again, they brought the sleek look, cleans lines and modern feel of the
Contemporary to the DVC Villas and exceeded expectations.

We entered BLT from the Contemporary's 4th floor via the sky bridge, guests staying at BLT will check in at the Contemporary and proceed to the Towers using this bridge.
Looking out from this bridge you have amazing views of the Magic Kingdom Resorts, Bay Lake, and of course of Magic Kingdom itself.
After taking the bridge over we then got in the elevator and headed to the 15th floor to view the magnificent 3 bedroom Grand Villa, over 2400 square feet of Disney living!

The villa is complete with 3 bedrooms, 3 full bathrooms (with a whirlpool tub in the master bath), a complete kitchen, dining room, a loft on the second floor, a huge laundry room (bigger than mine at home), and inviting balconies with gorgeous views of the resort grounds, Bay Lake, or the Magic Kingdom.

It is amazing!!
After touring the villa we then went out the second floor entrance (16th floor) to go tour the Top of the World Lounge and observation deck, note this area is exclusive to DVC members staying at BLT. The lounge opens up at 5pm and you can order drinks and appetizers, if you care to stay for the fireworks at the Magic Kingdom you have the perfect view just outside on the Observation deck, they even pipe in the music from Wishes so you have the complete experience.

What an amazing resort, great location, wonderful amenities, and fabulous views.

I know I can not wait until Dec when I get to experience it first hand!!!

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Teen Club on Disney Cruise Line

Aloft on the Disney Wonder

A lot of people think Disney Cruise Line = families with small children.
I’d like to tell you about teens sailing on the Disney Wonder.
My 15 ½ year old took me to Aloft that first afternoon to show off ‘her’ space. There are lounge areas, a bar (ok, smoothie bar but it looks really cool), dance floor, games, books, music, disco lights, TV’s and so much more (even their own elevator). It is a really cool place to hang out & chill. I was able to get a few pictures while I was there. Parents, if you’d like to see and learn a little about Aloft, go while the ship is still in port. That’s when they let parents tour and they will answer any questions that you have. After the ship is underway, no one over 18 is allowed, except for the counselors. This is great for several reasons. First, the teens wouldn’t go or stay if parents were hanging out in there. Secondly, it’s a safety measure and that’s a good thing.

The first day of the cruise, there is a notice on your cabin door, addressed to the teen in your party. “The 411 will be held at 10:30pm in Aloft” the message reads. That’s the first thing that makes your teen fall in love with this cruise; I don’t have to be back at 10:30pm the party is starting at 10:30pm!!!

The “411” was the teen planning session. There were suggested activities & options for the cruise and the teens voted on them. They were their own Cruise Director and because of this, each cruise is different based on the teens that are there. They are given 3-4 choices for each hour the club is open and they choose what to do each hour.
Planned activities on the ship included different scavenger hunts; Wii sports games, game shows, movies/TV, and workout time in the fitness center, arcade time, and smoothie hours (free smoothies at the bar), and on and on. If the teens aren’t “into” any of that, they aren’t locked in. They come & go freely from the club. There are sport courts on deck 10 forward that they can use (basketball, soccer….I even saw a Cricket game one night) ping pong tables all over, an arcade, and the pool. There is no requirement for the teens to participate, but the 411 planning gives them the chance to plan things they want to do.

The fun for teens doesn’t stop when you pull into Castaway Cay. The club closes, but that because the counselors are on the island. Don’t worry your teen can’t leave the ship on their own; a parent does have to sign them out for them to leave the ship. There is an excursion on the island for teens. If they do the excursion, they are with a counselor the whole time on the island. The other counselors are at the teen beach. Yes, you read that right, the teens have their own beach. “Danger” and “do not enter” signs were posted; clearly stating the beach was only for those between the ages of 13-17.

The great thing about the teen program, the teens feel like they’re being treated as grown-ups, not kids. The parents don’t have to worry because the teens are being supervised (in a non-threatening way). The counselors are young & fun and the teens like them.
My only complaint at all about the teen program isn’t really about the teen program. It’s that Aloft stays open until 1 or 2am depending on the night and those same nights the adult clubs/areas close at 12am or 1:30am. This isn’t a problem with Aloft being open too late, but the adult areas closing too early. I’d like to be able to stay out as late as my teen, or at least have the option to.

My daughter was texting and Facebooking with her new friends the minute we pulled back into port. As soon as we got home, she started planning for our next Disney cruise and is really pushing for the Trans-Atlantic or a Mediterranean cruise. She had the time of her life and I’ll bet your teen will too!