Inexplicable to some, but not us. Am I right? If you’re reading this, it’s because you are my people. The attraction-loving, ear-wearing, character-meeting, pin-trading Disney traveler that pines to return to the Magic the moment your vacation is over. You are someone that uses Disney planning as a means to cope with not being ensconced inside an enchanting world where the stresses of daily life don’t seem to exist. That kind of euphoria found only at the Walt Disney World Resort is addicting! And because we can’t take leave of reality every day, planning gives us a satisfying taste of what our future at the most magical place on earth will be and we keep coming back for more. Dream it. Plan it. Do it. Repeat.
At Get Down to Disness®, we focus wholly on Disney travel planning and in the true spirit of Disney, subscribe to the concept of edutainment. Teaching our friends, fans and followers all the ins and outs, tips, tricks and fun facts to enhance their vacations in creative, captivating ways. We’ve studied the Walt Disney Travel Company, and aspire to surprise and delight our guests, clients and customers in the same way they do theirs. Our motto is “Planning is Half the Fun” and we stand by that. Doing all we can to PLUS the planning experience of everyone we touch, giving the entire process magical feels way before the countdown calendar hits “0”.
Disney planning however, isn’t one size fits all and we realize that. Wanting to advise, guide and support each type of Disney vacation planner, we have segmented our focus on planning into three distinct tiers. Within each we offer information, products and services to help our friends fulfill their Disney vacation dreams. We believe, after years immersed in the industry, Disney planning enthusiasts want to either: plan LIKE a pro, plan WITH a pro or BE a planning a pro. Our deep love and passion (ok, obsession) for Disney planning has us working around the clock constantly to provide all the necessary tools no matter what type of planner you may be.
To Plan Like a Pro
Most of us fall in this category. We are infatuated with our Disney vacation plans. Simply engrossed in all the details in every moment of our spare time. It’s actually a hobby, but one we treat like a part-time job. With our fingers on the pulse of what’s happening at the Walt Disney World Resort, we take notes, strategize, plot, plan and dream up what we consider to be the ultimate vacation outline. For folks who want to plan like a pro, our FREE Private Facebook Community is an extremely valuable resource.
It’s not only a place to ask your burning Disney questions, but you’ll also find answers to questions you didn’t even know you had. On top of the community providing priceless information, it’s packed with a ton of fun, engaging and social activities that really bond members and help forge friendships. The no-nonsense membership policy makes it a safe and fun place to be without fear of judgement or snarky responses. If you can’t be nice, you can’t stay.
Our Planning Products
Since planning is truly our passion and at the core of everything we do, it should come as no surprise that we’ve created a daily planner just for the Walt Disney World Resort. The Get Down to Disness Daily Agenda Book, now in it’s 5th edition, has assisted over five thousand Disney-loving folks plan out their days so they don’t miss a thing! Naturally, we’ve included an erasable pen with the book because if anyone knows plans can and will change, it’s us! Our Amazon.com customers love it and have great things to say, you can read the reviews here.
Last year, we introduced a little passion project, the Magical Snack Match Card Game. On the surface, it appears to just be a fun family game, but it’s true purpose is getting users familiar with the fun snacks that can be found in and around the Walt Disney World Resort. We know our audience and we know they love snacking! With so many ways to play while learning, it’s an example of edutainment at it’s finest. At least we think so! Check out the commercial we made for Magical Snack Match here!
Our social media channels, Instagram, Facebook and YouTube, all are stocked with tips, fun facts, must-dos and other ways to really knock your vacation out of the theme park. Follow along with us and you will be planning like a pro in no time at all. We don’t just show you what to do, we show you how to do it.
To Plan with a Pro
D-I-Y Disney planning is fabulously fun, but it’s also very time consuming. Having a good plan makes for a great vacation. But listen, there is no shame in the travel agent game! So if you simply don’t have the time or desire to get into the planning trenches, I absolutely recommend you get yourself a Disney-focused travel agent. Years ago, I partnered with the incomparable, Authorized Disney Travel Planner agency, Destinations to Travel. I’ve been an agent with them, senior advisor for them and business partner of theirs for many years. I stand by their agents’ abilities and would trust them to plan my very own vacations…if I didn’t obsess over my own planning. 😉
The Pros of Using a Pro
When you utilize the services of a Destinations to Travel agent, you:
- Have control over how involved you want to be in the planning process.
- Don’t need to get up early or stress about securing Advanced Dining Reservations or FastPass+ selections.
- Can relax knowing your agent price-watches promotions to ensure you are paying the best available price for your package.
- Can take comfort in knowing you have a lifeline should ANYTHING happen during your vacation that you need assistance with.
- Won’t pay an extra dime for these concierge level services when your package is booked with your agent.
- Usually get some great booking gifts!
If YOU want to be the one to secure dining reservations and FastPass selections, you are 100% more than welcome to. However, if those tasks are too stressful for you and you wish to defer to the pros, your agent will take on these planning services at ZERO cost to you. When you work with a travel agent, it’s like having a Disney BFF to bounce ideas off of. You have the big plans, they are responsible for making it happen. It’s a no-brainer for first-timers, first time in a long timers, or anyone who simply cannot take on the monumental task of planning for Walt Disney World.
Things can happen, sometimes not so pleasant things. For anyone new to Walt Disney World or to its more recent digital environment, having an agent to defer any crisis or emergency to, especially when it costs you nothing more, just makes sense. Disney-focused agents live and breathe the Disney universe day in and out. With things constantly changing at the resort, knowing an agent has your back is priceless! For a FREE, ZERO OBLIGATION quote, click here.
To Be a Planning Pro
The DREAM JOB! I have it and if you want it, you can have it too. If you’ve ever been told by family and friends that “you should be a Disney travel agent”, maybe you should think about it. I mean, what’s better than living and breathing Disney 24/7, planning outrageously fun Disney days and strategizing the ultimate theme park touring plans? I’ll tell you what…getting PAID to do it! On top of earning money, there is a whole slew of incredible perks that come along with it!
I personally spent years thinking I could never do it. I thought wrong and if you think you can’t, you’re thinking wrong too.
Our Training Products
Last year I introduced the Get Down to Disness Agent Prep Program: Fundamental Steps to Launch Your Career as a Disney-Focused Travel Planner. It’s an online, 5 module complete program that sets students on the path to realizing their dream of being a Disney-focused travel agent. For any amateur planners wanting to go pro, give this program a serious look. There is no other program like it available. While anyone can become a travel agent, not everyone will be successful. There is a formula that includes sales, marketing and customer service know-how, that without, success will be elusive.
But it’s not for everyone. Being a travel agent of any kind, in this case with a focus on Disney destinations, requires a certain set of skills and attributes before you can even consider enrolling in a program to get you on your way. Take a look here at this Skills Evaluation Worksheet and if you think you have what it takes, look further into the Agent Prep Program. We’ve welcomed 70 students over the last twelve months and every graduate that has applied for an agent position has been hired. The entire program is a very nurturing experience, that doesn’t end when you complete the final exam. Like everything we do at Get Down to Disness®, this program is designed to uplift, surprise and delight. You can read just a few of the comments we have received from our students, here.
For existing travel agents with a focus on Disney destinations that are struggling to grow their business, our new Plussing It Membership Site is our solution. This membership provides a complete done-for-you social media plan for each month of the year. It includes core training on building your business, bonus images, trainings and downloads to help you deliver the best service to your guests. Currently in beta development, the Plussing It Membership Site goes live on 1/1/20.
Planning IS SERIOUSLY Half the Fun
As you can see, we take planning VERY SERIOUSLY here at Get Down to Disness, but we are also serious about the fun we have. Everything we do has an element of joy. That spoonful of sugar Ms. Poppins sang about, we serve it with every piece of free content, product, promotion and service we offer. At the core of absolutely every single thing is that Disney planning magic. We recognized long ago the power of Disney vacation anticipation. How it makes us feel, how we crave it and how it truly is half the fun of the entire vacation process. To some, the enjoyment may very well be inexplicable, but to me and I’m guessing you too, it makes practically perfect sense.
Q: So tell us, how do YOU plan for Disney? Let us know in the comments!
I recently took the Caring for Giants tour at Disney’s Animal Kingdom theme park. This tour takes you as close as possible to the African elephants that reside on the savanna you experience during the Kilimanjaro Safari attraction. I was not hosted or invited by the Walt Disney Travel Company to take this tour, I paid my own way. As such, I feel no obligation to inflate the experience or refrain from my honest opinion of it. With that out of the way, here’s what I thought. Wow, that sounds ominous, but I promise-I’m just making a disclaimer!
First, you should know the Caring for Giants tour can be booked up to 180 days in advance, but we walked up and booked it the same morning we took the tour. There happened to be two spots left on the second tour of the day. You can chat with a booking agent at the kiosk just outside of the Kilimanjaro Safari attraction queue. However, if after you read this blog and decide you really WANT to take the tour, book as soon as possible.
If you’ve been following along with us here at Get Down to Disness, you probably already know I am a tour junkie! I love going behind the scenes, learning all kinds of neat facts and seeing how things work. Those peeks behind the magic curtain don’t ruin anything for me, in fact it makes me appreciate the world of Disney even more so! Check out my review of the DestiNations Discovered tour here.
While you do technically go behind the scenes during this tour, it really isn’t all that much. Sure, they walk you behind one of the walls into a CAST MEMBERS ONLY area, which is pretty cool, but you are really only seeing a parking lot and the back of Pandora. While the Cast Member escorting you to your tour vehicle points out some interesting facts about the buildings you see, it’s not full of juicy details. It’s just not that kind of tour. Once in your ride vehicle, most of the view is behind the scenes vegetation and natural area. You do see the outside of the pens that shelter the elephants, but don’t get closer to those than a glance as you pass by.
Speaking of Cast Members, on the Caring for Giants tour, you’ll encounter a staggering SIX different ones! First, you’ll be escorted to your vehicle by one person. Inside your vehicle are two Cast Members, the informational/on foot part of the tour is handled by two additional Cast Members and finally a sixth escorts you back on stage. I loved this element of the tour because I truly enjoy chatting it up with Disney folks and typically they have the A-Team working these tours, so no Grumpys to put a damper on the magic.
Once you arrive at the elephant area, you are greeted by a Cast Member that teaches you all about the elephants you are going to see. What their names are, how they are related, what their temperament is like, etc. You’ll learn about their social networks, hear some stories of their unique personalities and take some photos. You are about 50 yards (half a football field) away from the elephants. I have to admit it’s kind of cool watching the ride vehicles from the Kilimanjaro Safari go by while you are “backstage”. After this Cast Member has finished telling us about the specific elephants at Animal Kingdom, a second conservation specialists Cast Member explains all about where they are from and all the measures both countries are taking to protect them from becoming endangered. Really interesting stuff -the kind that could get your kid excused from school a few days for your Disney vacation. (wink wink) 😉
The Caring for Giants Tour is about an hour long and costs $30 per person at the time this blog post was written. They do offer discounts though for Annual Passholders, Disney Visa Card holders and DVC (Disney Vacation Club) Members! We got a 15% DVC Member discount. But is it worth around thirty bucks? It depends. I would not recommend this tour for everyone. Not that it isn’t suitable for all ages, or that it isn’t interesting, but for the fact that Animal Kingdom theme park already has so much to offer (included with price of admission) without having to pay a premium for a tour. In truth, we got about as close to the elephants on this tour as we did to a gorilla on the Gorilla Falls Exploration Trail. It’s not a get up close and touch the elephants experience-it can’t be for your safety- and there is no guarantee the elephants will cooperate and let you see them-it’s nature-not animatronics.
We were able to get wonderful photos of the elephants because we were standing still vs. moving in the ride vehicle on the Kilimanjaro Safari ride, but you aren’t much closer to them-as you can see in the photo below. If photos of elephants are what you are after, you could potentially get some great shots!
I would recommend the Caring for Giants tour for those who:
- absolutely adore elephants
- have been to Animal Kingdom several times already and are looking to do something new
- who want to take every tour Disney World has to offer
- have a deep interest in learning more about the conservation of these animals and how their native country is also working to protect the species
I fit into this category and I truly enjoyed the experience! It was 100% worth it to us! Anytime I can go somewhere with no crowd, no wait and get an insider’s look-I’m all over it! Plus, we met two incredible fun and sweet Cast Members, Esther and Frank that added a little pixie dust to our day just because they were fun people!
I would NOT recommend the Caring for Giants tour for those who:
- are visiting Walt Disney World for the first time
- have allergies to animals or biting insects (it was buggy back there)
- are on a tight budget
- have children who are easily bored
There really isn’t much to “spoil” about this tour. It’s pretty “what you see is what you get” however, there is something VERY unique about the name tags they give you…I’ll keep that under my hat for now. If you want to know the secret, comment below! If you don’t want to know the secret, don’t read the comments!
Are you looking to plan a Walt Disney World Resort vacation and want to learn more about unique tours and offerings? Let us help! Send us an email or fill out this quote form and tell us a little bit about the Magical Disney adventure you are looking to have. Our Authorized Disney Vacation Planners with Destinations to Travel are out of this world!
Bust These Hollywood Studios Myths to Help Structure Your Trip!
by Suzanne Burmeister
Hollywood Studios being under intense construction could mean a significant savings to your wallet, thanks to the high anticipation of Galaxy Edge’s opening date. Bust these five myths to maximize your next trip! Don’t miss out on the amazing offerings you can still find in this wonderfully themed park.
Myth #1: You Won’t Find Anything to Do with All of This Construction.
Reality: Most people know that Hollywood Studios is undergoing a transformation, but if you’re planning on skipping this park because of all the construction, you could be missing out on some of the most fun attractions in Walt Disney World.
For instance, a newer and very open part of the park is Toy Story Land. Not only can you ride the beloved Toy Story Mania!, where you can play a 3D interactive game, but you can also check out two newer rides: Slinky Dog Dash and Alien Swirling Saucers. Make sure you have your FastPass choice ready, because you can only choose one of these attractions.
Don’t forget about crowd favorites Twilight Tower of Terror and the Rock n’ Roller Coaster Starring Aerosmith. You can also see shows including the new Lightning McQueen Racing Academy, Beauty and the Beast, the Indiana Jones Stunt Spectacular, and Fantasmic!
You’ll also find plenty of character meet and greets, unique merchandise, and delicious treats to indulge in.
Myth #2: Because of the Construction, the Park Isn’t Crowded.
Reality: You may think people are flooding other parks instead of this one due to the construction, then you would be sadly mistaken. Because Toy Story Land is new, that area of the park sees a lot of activity. Slinky Dog Dash boasts one of the highest wait times in the entirety of Walt Disney World, so if you’re planning on climbing onto this fun roller coaster, you should try to get a FastPass. Let us help!
Heads up: Currently, this area of the park has only one way in and one way out, which means traffic can clog up quickly. The best thing to do is to show some patience, and try to check out this area during either opening and or closing times.
Myth #3: Hollywood Studios Doesn’t Have a Lot of Places to Eat.
Reality: Not true! Hollywood Studios actually has some of my favorite restaurants anywhere on property.
I love to visit the Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater Restaurant for lunch. You get to sit in tables fashioned like ‘50s style cars, chow down on burgers and fries, and watch silly sci-fi movie clips. Another must visit is the 50s Prime Time Café, which makes you feel like you’re sitting in a ‘50s kitchen and being taught good manners by the wait staff. The food is a real treat. My family loves both the fork tender pot roast and the golden-fried chicken.
Plan to make your reservations at these table service restaurants in that 180 day window. We can help with that!
Myth #4: For the Best Merchandise, Shop Elsewhere.
Reality: While you’ll still be able to find standard merchandise that you can find throughout Walt Disney World, you shouldn’t overlook the potential to find unique items.
Whenever I visit Hollywood Studios, I always check out the offerings at Hollywood Boulevard. Here, we often find the best men’s sweatshirts and pajama pants. Also, we can choose the best coffee mugs! Sometimes we see the same items elsewhere, but not always.
Pro tip: If you’re looking for an authentic park item, you can use your My Disney Experience App to see where to you can buy it. That sometimes can take the guesswork out of whether you’ll see that specific item in another park or at Disney Springs.
Myth #5: Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge Won’t Open Until 2020.
Reality: Opening date is a lot closer than you think. Get excited for some blue milk, because Galaxy’s Edge opens at Walt Disney World at August 29! (Don’t get confused: It opens in Disneyland on May 31). The good means that you’ll get to experience the much anticipated ride, the Millenium Falcon. But the bad means that the highly anticipated crowds means the capacity may be limited.
Keep in mind: You may be able to find some unprecedented discounts at Walt Disney World this summer because so many guests are pushing their trips to after Galaxy Edge’s opening date. Let us help you take advantage of them!
Can you find the best offerings? Let us help! Send us an email or fill out this quote form and tell us a little bit about the Magical Disney adventure you are looking to have. Our Authorized Disney Vacation Planners with Destinations to Travel are out of this world!
You’re in Magic Kingdom and you’re STARVING, but you’re also not in the mood for traditional “theme park” food. After all, you’re in Walt Disney World for cryin’ out loud, you want to be immersed in theming! When your regular “run of the mill” burger won’t do, head to Pecos Bill’s Tall Tale Inn & Cafe for some Frontierland fun. It’s the best food in the wild, wild West and I’ll tell you why.
Reason #1: Typically when I write these I like to ease into my most compelling reason, but not today. My number one reason is SO crucial it can’t be buried in text. Pecos Bill’s has the BIGGEST and BEST toppings bar in all of Walt Disney World. (Maybe even the WHOLE world, just saying.) Why is this so important you ask? Because this topping bar elevates EVERY meal to a whole new level. Picture your burger, your nachos, your tacos topped with (for free) red onions, banana peppers, cheese, sour cream, tomatoes, roasted corn, Chiptole Ranch dressing, limes, pico de gallo and…UNLIMITED GUACAMOLE! I’ll give you a minute to take that in folks, yes, unlimited guacamole.
Reason #2: The food is unique, there’s loads of allergy friendly options, it’s incredibly Keto friendly and even has a delicious plant based burger with vegan cheese and vegan avocado aioli. The absolute best, most mouth watering item on the menu is the Jerk Chicken Lettuce Wraps. It’s perfectly spiced and the lettuce is such a great compliment-it’s cold, crisp and light. What a way to combat the Florida heat and not being a total belly buster of a lunch!
Reason #3: The kid’s menu isn’t dopey. My kid is a foodie. Please don’t come at her with an Uncrustable. Pecos Bill’s SEES her and although there are items for any average kid eaters there are also Chicken Rice Bowls, Pork Carnitas Rice bowls and nachos for my kid. (And her potential foodie friends out there!)
Reason #4: It’s a Quick Service restaurant (and yes, mobile ordering IS available) that has a story to tell! You’re not just popping in for food, there’s “history” to see. If you didn’t know, Pecos Bill is actually a pretty popular piece of Old West folklore. The namesake “tall tales” are abundant when it comes to ole’ Bill who was rumored to have lassoed two rattlesnakes, rode a tornado like a bucking bronco and shot all the stars out of the sky except in his beloved Texas. Take a walk around the restaurant and see items showcased from Pecos Bill and other Western legends like Paul Bunyan, Annie Oakley and Wild Bill Hickok.
Reason #5: It’s hot, your feet are aching and you need a break. Pecos Bill’s has more than ample space for your family and tired bodies to spread out and pig out on all that guacamole. Plenty of a/c, plenty of shade if you need to spread out into it’s sister restaurant Tortuga Tavern. It’s a great place to rest and get lost in the Western Inn feel, it truly will transport you to another time and place if you let it.
Be sure to have your tiny cowpokes, cowboys and cowgirls get their official Sheriff badges (stickers) and let them restore some order in the wild, wild West while you take it easy. (Have I mentioned the unlimited guacamole yet?)
If you’re ready to stop dreaming about a Disney vacation, we can help make it a reality! Send us an email or fill out this quote form and tell us a little bit about the Magical Disney adventure you are looking to have. Our Authorized Disney Vacation Planners with Destinations to Travel are out of this world!