Monday, June 29, 2015

To Park Hop or Not to Park Hop - That is the Question

Making the decision to park hop or not in Walt Disney World is an important consideration when you think about the added expense to your ticket.  Here is what you need to know and think about before deciding whether or not to add the park hopper option to your tickets.


What is “park hopping”?

Park hopping is the Walt Disney World term used to describe visiting more than one theme park each day of your trip.  The base Magic Your Way ticket only allows you to have unlimited entries into the same park each day whereas the park hopper add on would allow you to, for example, start your day at Magic Kingdom and then have your dinner in Epcot.




What factors should I consider when deciding to add park hopping or not?

-                Age of Children – We haven’t used park hoppers in recent years because we have young kids.  Since our two boys can’t stay up late to visit more than one park in the day, it’s simply not a good use of valuable Disney vacation money.  With older children, park hoppers are a fantastic way to maximize your vacation time and squeeze in as many attractions as you can during your time.  On an adult only trip, we almost always purchase park hoppers!
-                Length of stay – There is more of a need to park hop on shorter trips.  When you have 7 days to visit the 4 major parks, park hopping isn’t necessary and you can even build in time to enjoy your resort and Downtown Disney.  If you’re only in Walt Disney World for 3 or 4 days, you’ll need to park hop to see even just the highlights of the parks. 
-                Dining preferences – This is important when you think about where your favorite restaurants are located.  If you love dinners in Epcot (and who doesn’t!), then maybe you want to park hop so you can visit other parks for the rides while coming back to Epcot frequently for the yummy food.  However, if your favorite restaurants are scattered throughout Walt Disney World, you can typically pair up your meal preferences with the day you are in that respective park.


Remember that regardless of whether or not your have the park hopper option on your tickets, you can still only make FastPass+ selections for one park each day.  Park hopping can be a great way to get the most bang for your Disney buck, but it might not be ideal for all families and vacation preferences.  Think about your traveling party and the type of vacation you are looking to have to make the best decision about whether or not to purchase the park hopper option for your tickets.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

How to Organize Your Disney Vacation Plans

Planning a Walt Disney World vacation requires keeping track of a number of details including flights, hotel reservations, FastPass+ experiences, and dining reservations.  Thanks to the advent of the My Disney Experience app and website in recent years, this task has gotten a bit easier.  However, I’m someone who likes to be able to lay out my days and visually capture my whole vacation in just one easy to read page.


 The biggest advantage, in my opinion, of using a table like this is that you can quickly check for any time overlaps or concerns.  On our last vacation, I booked our breakfast at Hollywood and Vine and our first FastPass+ of the day for the Frozen Sing-a-Long too close together.  We ended up having to cut breakfast short in order to make it our FastPass+ experience.  While this certainly didn’t ruin the vacation, it was something I could have avoided if I would have been better prepared in planning the day.  When planning for character meals, I usually allow an hour to ninety minutes while other dining reservations can typically be completed in under an hour.  The exception to this would be any signature dining restaurants that are serving higher end meals and longer experiences.


On the above chart, you’ll notice I break the day down into morning, afternoon, and night.  So far, I have only entered times for dining reservations and FastPass+ selections, but as we get closer I will typically add ideas for quick service meals and breaks at the resort.  Planning you Walt Disney World vacation is a dynamic process that may involve many shifts along the way.  Finding a planning strategy that works for you will help make the whole experience more enjoyable and successful for you and your family. 

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

What's Happening with Disney Parks

During the opening presentation of the Disney Social Media Moms Celebration On the Road New York City event, we were given a recap of some exciting happenings around Disney Parks and their vacation destinations.  Here are a few highlights:

Disneyland Diamond Anniversary Celebration – That’s right!  Disneyland is turning 60 years old this year and the celebration is one that only Disney can throw!  The castle shimmers in special diamond decorations while Paint the Night Parade captivates young and old alike.  Disneyland is special in the hearts of all Disney fans and a celebration of this magnitude is well deserved.  Sleeping Beauty's Castle even received a makeover for the big birthday bash!



Disney Cruise Line Returns to NYC – In 2016, Disney Cruise Line will be returning to New York for a series of cruises that tour the New England coast and Canada.  There are also cruises out of New York to the Bahamas including a stop at Walt Disney World!  This is great news for those in the Northeast who can get all of the magic of a Disney cruise vacation but without the airfare.  There are very limited sailings offered for these unique cruise itineraries, so be sure to check them out soon!

Seeing Europe by RiverAdventures by Disney has entered the popular European market of River cruising.  For those of you unfamiliar, Adventures by Disney offers non-Disney destination vacations with the service and quality you’d expect from the industry leader in each.  Perfect for kids and adults who want to leaving the planning to the professionals, Adventures by Disney offers escapes on multiple continents including African safaris, exploring the Grand Canyon, and now cruising the river waters of Europe. 

Disney Marketing Campaigns – Disney knows how to reach it’s audience and is always trying to create new fans.  The #DisneySide campaign is still going strong which encourages everyone to show their #DisneySide – whatever that might mean to you!  More specific to traveling to Disney parks, Disney is hoping to reach out to parents of toddlers and preschoolers with it’s #DisneyKids campaign that showcases just how magical a trip to Walt Disney World can be for even the youngest members of the family.  In addition, they have also launched the #GrandDisney campaign which reminds us that “children are a blessing, but grandkids are a reward.”  Both of these show us that you are never too young or too old to enjoy a Disney Parks vacation.




Disney is always growing and changing which is why I can go every year (sometimes twice a year!) and constantly find new ways to enjoy the parks.  For all the latest Disney news watch the Disney Parks Blog (disneyparks.disney.go.com).  What are you most looking forward to about your next Disney vacation?

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Behind the Magic at the New Amsterdam Theatre

As part of the Disney Social Media Moms Celebration On the Road event in New York City, we were treated to a backstage tour of the New Amsterdam theatre.  Currently, the New Amsterdam Theatre, located on 7th Avenue and 42nd Street, is home to Disney’s Broadway hit, Aladdin.  While the show is relatively new to Broadway, the New Amsterdam theatre has a rich history and Disney has a tradition on Broadway that spans more than two decades.

We learned how they make miniature stages to plan out scenery and character placement.
The theatre itself was built in 1903 in the Art Nouveau style.  I’m not an architect or an artist, but I can say that it’s beautiful.  To give you an idea of the opulence and beauty inside the theater, it cost more than a million dollars to build back at the turn of the 20th century - think about how much that was back then!  Inside the theatre soft, muted colors and natural theming abound.  The theatre is also curvilinear meaning that you will rarely find a straight line inside.  While the theatre's history on Broadway has both its ups and downs, Disney has worked with the City of New York to restore this gem and keep it a treasured landmark of Old Broadway. 

Our tour guide shared lots of details about each Disney on Broadway show.
Enough of the history – let’s get to the fun stuff!  Disney on Broadway offers a Behind the Magic Tour of the theatre to groups of 10 or more.  We were treated to this unique and entertaining tour as part of our day.  The highlight of the tour (for me at least) was visiting the prop room.  Not only did we get the chance to see Broadway props and costumes from hits like Beauty and the Beast, Mary Poppins, The Little Mermaid, and The Lion King, but we also got to try them on and play with them.  Fun fact – the lioness headdress that I’m wearing below costs $7,000! 

The prop room was nothing short of amazing!

A big part of what I love about Disney is they know how to tap into the kid in all of us.  While I haven’t had the chance to see a Disney production on Broadway before, I now have a new appreciation for the work of the Disney team to bring magic to life each and every night.  I hope to be back soon for a night out on the town!

Friday, June 19, 2015

Inside Out Now in Theaters!

I'm so excited that the wait is finally over and Inside Out is now in theaters.  Brody is finally old enough where a movie will hold his attention and I'm planning on a "date" with him to see this sometime soon.  If the trailer is any indication, I'm sure the movie will be wonderful!

If you have little ones you are taking to the movies to check out the latest Disney/Pixar collaboration, try out some of these activities to get them excited.  These activities are perfect for preschoolers!

Inside Out Coloring Pages
Inside Out Connect the Dots
Inside Out Spot the Difference

Enjoy these activities!  I can't wait to see the movie and hear what you think too!

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Disney Bounding - Show your #DisneySide!

Disney Bounding is a term that even some of the more experienced Disney travelers don't know.  This is all about fashion and brining a little #DisneySide to your day without looking like you're a cartoon character.

The idea behind Disney Bounding is to dress in outfits that are "inspired" by a Disney character.  One quick search on Pinterest will give you lots of great ideas.  I've started to compile some of my favorites on a Pinterest board to keep an eye out for pieces as I shop.

I made my first attempt at Disney Bounding this past Monday for the Disney Social Media Moms Celebration On the Road in New York City.  Here I am with Mickey. . .can you tell which character I'm going for??


If you guessed Belle, you'd be correct!  She is one of my favorite Disney princesses and the one I probably relate to the most.  This look is the classic small town Belle.  I have her signature blue dress and paired it a white cardigan.  I also wore black flats (which of course you can't see) to complete a simple Disney Bounding attempt.  The beauty of Disney Bounding is that it's like a little secret among Disney fans.  You wouldn't know that I'm Disney Bounding by the outfit above, unless you knew to look for it.  Periodically working Disney Bounding into your wardrobe is both a fun and fashionable way to share your #DisneySide!  Try it out and enjoy!!

Monday, June 15, 2015

2015 Disney Social Media Moms Celebration On the Road Recap

I felt as though I was still flying in a cloud of pixie dust from that magical email that had arrived about 3 weeks earlier inviting me toattend the #DisneySMMC event in New York City.  And it’s a good thing.  I needed all the pixie dust (and coffee!) I could find when my alarm went off at 2:30 AM on Monday, June 15.  With a spoonful of sugar to help the coffee go down, I boarded a 4:25 AM train out of Maryland and was on my way to the Big Apple. 


The New Amsterdam Theatre in New York City

"Genie, I wish for an amazing conference." Wish granted!
The day began with registration, breakfast, “swag bags,” a photo op, and pin trading all before 8:30 AM.  This was a great way to kick off the celebration and begin conversations with fellow bloggers and social media moms.  Unfortunately, nobody was interested in my pin so, alas, no pin trading for me – but the photo op and props added a great deal of fun as everyone showed their #DisneySide.

The props at the Disney photo booth were a lot of fun!
Yummy breakfast. . .and the much appreciated coffee!!
The event was held at the New Amsterdam Theatre, which is home to Disney’s Broadway production of Aladdin.  Promptly at 8:30 AM, we were invited upstairs to make our Broadway debut as we found our seats on stage at the theatre for the conference to begin.  Leanne O’Regan began the day with a welcome and a brief overview of some of the upcoming magicat Disney Parks and other vacation destinations in the Disney family.  I’ll have more on that in a later post!

Leanne welcoming us to he conference.

Ready to learn!
The learning component of the conference was made up of a series of speakers from both Disney and other brands speaking to us about building our brand and presence on social media.  Some of my favorite tips of the day included:

  • Make lists to get creative.  When you force your brain to list 10 - 12 ideas, you push past logic and see where your creativity can take you. - Jenn from the Disney Parks Blog (@DisneyParksJenn)
  • Tweet on trending topics, but through the lens of your brand. - The editing team from Babble (@Babble) 
  • Be personal, be creative, and craft a unique voice. - Melissa Kraxenberg (@ladyandprince) 

The day wrapped up with a visit from the mouse himself, Mickey!  Then we received a special surprise – a backstage tour of the New Amsterdam theatre.  There was so much history and fun packed into that tour that I’m dedicating a separate post to that later on.

I'm like a little kid. . .thrilled to have a photo op with Mickey Mouse!

Sadly, the day came to end all too quickly.  But our “swag bags” gave us lots of goodies to remember the day and embrace our #DisneySide.  As someone relatively new to the world of social media and blogging, the event was such a great opportunity to learn from some amazing speakers and gave me lots of ideas to take back and improve my blog.  And, the Disney fan in me enjoyed every pixie-dusted surprise of the day!
Thanks for a great day!

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