Next month, I will be attending Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party for the SIXTH time. I’m a Christmas fanatic, but I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this party! Not only do I love it, but I think you will too. Can I answer if it’s “worth it” to you? No, it’s a subjective topic. However, I can outline five things that make it worth it for ME and maybe that will help.
5. Lower Crowds: Don’t fool yourself, this party is very popular, so it won’t be an empty park. However, with so many unique experiences available that only party attendees can have, the lines for attractions tend to be much shorter than your average park day. Especially toward the end of the night and particularly on mid-week party nights.
4. Dance Parties/Shows: While there are several dance parties going on in the Magic Kingdom on party nights, the show to end all shows is the Hocus Pocus Villain Spelltacular starring the Sanderson Sisters from the movie “Hocus Pocus”. With special appearances by our favorite Disney villains, this outrageous show is everything you want from a Halloween stage performance and more! The music, the special effects, the dancing, and the creepy factor all get you in that spooky Halloween mood.
3. Rare Character Meet and Greets: While I am not a huge “Nightmare Before Christmas” fan, I will wait in line to meet all the seven Dwarfs in a heartbeat! Disney brings out all the heavy hitters for party nights and they are dressed in their Halloween costumes. The photo opportunities are amazing! Jack and Sally are among the most popular characters to see at this party and the line can be very long. Plan ahead! ºoº
2. Trick or Treating: Tricks might be for kids, but Trick or Treating is for everyone! The Cast Members hand out generous helpings of name brand, fun-size candy at a plethora of locations. There really is no limit to how much trick or treating you can do, but be warned, those bags get heavy! If you are looking to score some candy to snack on, hit a few lines early, then wait until the end of the night to enjoy shorter lines and even bigger servings. My family took home so much candy one year, we had enough to hand out to kids at our door on Halloween night. It’s a nice perk for the price you pay for the tickets.
1. The Boo to You Parade: There is no better reason to attend this party than the Boo to You Parade. This statement is coming from a non-parade person. I have yet to see the Festival of Fantasy parade in it’s entirety, but I never miss an opportunity to experience Boo to You. Lead by the Headless Horseman with a ride through Liberty Square all the way down Main Street USA, this parade is a traveling stage show of amazingly happy haunts. The Haunted Mansion grave diggers, the ghost dancers, the villains and lovable characters round out what is hands down the best part of the night. It’s so good, that there are two each night. The second parade viewers enjoy lower crowds.
How about you? What’s your reason or reasons for splurging on Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween party tickets? We would love to hear from you in the comments. If you’d like to learn more about this party and find out if it’s the right choice for your next Disney vacation, contact us at email@example.com.
One of my favorites things to discuss is what to eat at Walt Disney World Resorts. Dining in and around “the happiest place on earth” is MY happy place. There are so many incredible options out there, and although we do try to mix things up a bit with each trip we also have some tried & true favorites that we work into our plans each trip. Topping that list for me is 1900 Park Fare at the Grand Floridian Resort & Spa.
We first discovered this fun and delicious buffet-style character meal restaurant about 10 years ago when our oldest was just a toddler. The atmosphere is 100% family friendly, it’s elegantly decorated with a touch of whimsy but is not at all somewhere that you are afraid to rest your elbows on the table or have a cranky little one. Our daughter was in full on Princess obsessive mode and we were always on the hunt for those Disney Princess “wow” experiences. Let’s face it, dining at Cinderella’s Royal Table is AMAZING, but pricey. We’ve done it twice now for both of our girls and now the purse strings are tightly drawn. In my opinion, 1900 Park Fare is the Princess PLUS meal and is the best character meal at Walt Disney World. The “Happily Ever After” dinner is fun for both the kids AND the adults. Guests will have a chance to meet Cinderella, Prince Charming, Lady Tremaine and her hysterically hilarious daughters Drisella and Anastasia. Even my Princess loving tot was completely over Cindy and fully in love and giggling away with Lady Tremaine and the stepsisters. These three are incredibly funny, perfectly “in character” and absolutely unforgettable. The meal itself is not to be missed either, this is such a unique buffet with flavors essentially from all around the world. There is truly something for everyone, for the carnivores like me, hit the melt in your mouth carving station. There’s also peel and eat shrimp, steamed mussels, savory butternut squash ravioli, salads and 1900 Park Fare’s signature Strawberry Soup. (Sounds super weird, but give it a shot, it’s surprisingly refreshing.)
A few years ago we were looking to shake things up and decided to try 1900 Park Fare’s “Supercalifragilistic Breakfast (& Brunch)” and have never looked back. (I might have drooled a bit just typing about it.) We aren’t huge fans of starting the day with a big, time consuming character breakfast, we like to get up, eat light and hit the parks early. 1900 Park Fare is an exception to the rule for us. This delicious breakfast/brunch has a decidedly English flair and is wonderful. I want to bathe in their crepes with blueberry sauce, I can’t get enough of their Eggs Benedict and of course Mickey waffles are there waiting to be drenched in warm maple syrup. Just when you thought Strawberry Soup was just for dinner, surprise, it’s delicious in the morning too! The food is our biggest draw, the fresh, unique offerings are satisfying and delicious. The characters, for us, are a fun side benefit while we stuff our faces.
At the “Supercalifragalistic” breakfast guests can chat with Mary Poppins and learn all about her delightful carpet bag. Alice also pops by for a fun, mile a minute chat. She’s so adorable and you just never know what she’s going to come up with. Tigger will bounce by for some fuzzy hugs and guests will have a great photo and hug opportunity with Pooh as they leave the restaurant. Here’s “Fare” warning, the Mad Hatter is also one of the characters chatting up guests throughout breakfast. It seems as though folks either love him or are completely annoyed by him. Just as you’d imagine, he’s intrusive, in your face and says the craziest things. My youngest had so much fun with him while my oldest was freaked out and hid by the Strawberry Soup until he left our table.
Our favorite thing after loading up on our gut busting breakfast is to take the small resort boat from the Grand Floridian over to the Magic Kingdom. We love the less crowded, slower pace, the time to digest and have so much fun laughing about the character shenanigans in the (slightly) cool Florida breeze. It’s a perfect start to our day, and creates memories we will never forget.
What is the character meal that just keeps you coming back for more each time you visit? Tell us in the comments!
If you set sail on the Disney Cruise Line in the near future, you might find an all new experience to add even more fun to your vacation!
On the Disney Dream, guests now have the opportunity (for a limited time) to purchase a variety of customized and personalized products. Examples of what you can customize include: t-shirts, ornaments, door hangers, phone cases, fish extenders, etc. Whether you choose to bring back personalized souvenirs for friends and family members at home, or customize matching shirts for your whole group you’re vacationing with, you’re sure to have a blast at this store!
If you, or a fellow Disney fan you know, will soon be vacationing on the Disney Dream, you won’t want to miss out on this new and unique shopping experience. This store can be found on Deck 4 (mid-ship) in the Disney Gallery.
What would you like to customized? Tell us which of these customizable products (t-shirts, ornaments, door hangers, phone cases, fish extenders) you would like to purchase aboard the Disney Dream!
If you’re reading this, chances are you are a sucker for Disney merchandise in life, and then once you hit the Walt Disney World resorts you become an absolute kid in a candy store. EVERYTHING becomes a must-have Disney souvenir and is immensely cuter within the Disney World bubble. Add that daunting realization that you’re just not sure when you’ll be back and there is the pressure to buy-buy-buy! All of this happens within my adult brain. The adult that KNOWS how expensive this trip is, the adult that understands we WILL be back to WDW and also knows that there’s a mountain of bills waiting for our return home. Interestingly enough, the husband and I are traveling with two AWESOME, yet less rational kids. Who although they never ask for much and earn their own spending money before we leave for the trip, the desire for some of these awesome park souvenirs oozes from their precious little faces. How do we keep the Disney magic alive and still manage to spoil them on this vacation all while not breaking the bank? Two words-planning ahead.
It’s important to keep in mind that it’s the Walt Disney World Resort that is magical. It’s the sights, the smells and the excitement surrounding you, where the magic stems from and not the shiny souvenirs. The Mickey sweatshirt itself isn’t stitched together with pixie dust woven into the fabric, so why not bring in some fun Disney merchandise from home? Surprise your kiddos (and husbands and wives too) with items that they aren’t even seeing in the parks and be the coolest, hippest, most thoughtful parent/spouse ever?! You have all of your other important Disney planning dates marked in your awesome Disness Daily Agenda Book, now mark in some reminders to also start looking for some cool merchandise!
A great place to start is ShopDisney.com. You can usually find sales happening and coupons hitting the mail, your inbox or being posted on the Get Down to Disness planning group Facebook page. This awesome website is a GREAT place to find official Park merchandise. Hey, if you can get bubble blowers, shirts, autograph books or ears at a DISCOUNT -that would not be offered on your vacation- snag that up! This also gives you the power to reward great behavior on the fly, quiet a burgeoning tantrum or just make yourself look REALLY good all while saving some time and cash. Always be sure to check out their sale and clearance section on the website, you won’t believe the goodies that find their way there!
Your local “big box” store is also a great place to find what I lovingly refer to as “trip enhancers.” Many times you can find amazing, super cheap Disney themed glow sticks, bubble blowers, bags, and treats at an incredible discount. Pull these little surprises out when the sun goes down, or in the middle of an unexpectedly long, hot wait and you will be an instant hero. My favorite thing to do is to have as many “light up” options as the number of nights we will be at the parks. We call them “Nighttime Spectaculars.” It’s become something the kids look forward to every night even though it may just be a Dollar Tree glow stick, finger lights from Target or light up Minnie ears from Ebay. The kids are now not coveting the carts full of light up whirligigs any longer because they already have their “thing” to flash around at night. If you’re not into matching shirts, you can find loads of adorable Disney gear at so many big box stores and can surprise the family with fun, new Disney gear in the morning while everyone is getting ready.
We are also big pin traders, which can be a very expensive hobby even for the folks like us that are simply trading for pins that are just cute. This is another great opportunity to do some pre-trip shopping. I buy lots of pins from respectable, reputable sellers on Amazon. You’re pretty much guaranteed to get pins that your family will be okay trading away. I also love perusing the various Disney online “yard sale” groups on Facebook. Many times you can find sellers who are actually selling in package, brand new pin sets. I love using these cheaper finds as surprises while we are traveling to Disney World. What better way to build the excitement even more than having a Disney travel bag full of items to use and enjoy as soon as we arrive.
My mission this year has been collecting wearable Minnie ears for the kids. It’s taken several months to collect enough that each day the girls can open up a new set of ears to wear at the parks. We’ve all seen the price tag on park ears. Although they ARE adorably authentic, one pair can blow a kid’s spending money budget pretty quickly (if you must have the real deal, buy ahead from Shopdisney.com with a promo code). I have had so much fun looking through Etsy at handmade ears and buying unique sets that I know the girls won’t find anywhere at the park.( There’s also loads of online tutorials if crafting is your jam.)
Believe me, this isn’t to say that we don’t still buy special, fun items while we are at the parks. My restraint is not nearly THAT strong. However, with some planning ahead you can spread some more unexpected Disney magic to your family all without breaking the bank. Psst…be sure to get some extra magic for you as well, you’re never too old for finger lights, Minnie ears and pixie dust infused sweatshirts. ºoº
by Chris Boyer (Destinations to Travel)
“Which of the Disney resorts would you like to stay at?”
This incredibly important question is one that often kicks off the interactions I have with both new and repeat clients and is generally followed by some very specific Disney resort requests. Seasoned Walt Disney World Resort visitors have their favorite resorts they typically stay at, and new visitors often have either researched resorts online or obtained a recommendation from family and friends, resulting in them either having a specific resort or a very short list in mind. Ironically, for most travelers, their short list tends to be the same as just about every other client I work with. Those wishing to stay at Value Resorts request Pop Century more often than not. At the Moderate Resort level, one of the Port Orleans resorts are typically at the top of the list. And for those targeting the Deluxe Resort level, the Polynesian or Beach Club are the most requested Disney resorts for quotes.
While all of the resorts I just named are indeed amazing, guests are missing out on some great opportunities to stay at one of Disney’s less popular, but still amazing, resort hotels. Oddly enough, these ‘less popular’ resorts are actually among my favorite on property and are the ones that I target when planning my own personal travel to the House of Mouse. Since my family typically avoids the Value resorts, my recommendations for must-try resorts target the Moderate and Deluxe levels.
With regard to Value resorts, I will simply say reconsider the All-Star trio of resorts. They don’t get the love the deserve and feature some great theming and fun pools!
For Deluxe resorts, my family LOVES to stay at Saratoga Springs Resort and Spa. Saratoga Springs is built on the land that previously housed the Disney Institute, and opened as Disney’s second Disney Vacation Club resort in 2004. While this is primarily a DVC resort, Disney does continually offer rooms here for those looking to book a traditional Magic Your Way package, as well as a room-only reservation. Saratoga Springs is also typically included in all of Disney’s promotions (including the fan-favorite FREE DINING), making this an incredibly affordable family resort option. As of the writing of this blog piece, for example, the hypothetical family of 4 (2 adults, 1 junior, and 1 child under 10) can stay for 5 nights in a deluxe studio early September at Saratoga with 5-day park hopper tickets for just $3, 686.48 including tax under the Enchanted Escape Package currently being offered. Email me if this sounds like a great deal to you!
Saratoga offers much more than a spacious room at an affordable price. The grounds are absolutely beautiful, and the resort is located within walking distance of or a short boat ride to Disney Springs. The 1,260 rooms at the resort are built to reflect its theming of an 1880’s Victorian-Style upstate New York lake retreat. The 355 square foot studios include a kitchenette and full bathroom, while the 1 and 2-bedroom villas contain a full kitchen! For golf fans, the resort offers direct access to Disney’s Lake Buena Vista Golf Course, and many of the rooms offer views of the fairways (I especially love sitting on my room balcony sipping on coffee while overlooking this beautiful course). The resort also features a super fun main pool, a Senses Spa for you to unwind, a quick service restaurant, and the ability to grab dinner or a late-night drink at the Turf Club Bar and Grill. If you are looking for a relaxing resort with beautiful grounds and an amazing atmosphere, Saratoga may be just what you are looking for!
Jumping to the Moderate Level, the resort I feel does not get the love it deserves is the Coronado Springs. The theming at Coronado is just amazing and will make you feel as though you stepped right into the American Southwest or even Mexico itself! The feature pool here, known as the Dig Site, gets my vote for the second-best pool on property (bested only by Stormalong Bay at the Yacht and Beach Club). The Dig Site contains a 46-foot tall Mayan pyramid that houses a 128-foot water slide, a playground, hot tub, beach volleyball net and an arcade. In addition to the main pool, each area of the resort also has its own quite pool for more leisurely swimming close to ‘home.’
One area in which I feel Coronado really shines is the food! The Pepper Market is one of the most unique dining experiences on property. This Quick-Service location features a ton of Southwestern fare including Andouille Sausage Gumbo, Yucatan Roasted Chicken, Cheese Empanada, Nachos, and a Carnitas Mexican Rice Bowl. The Maya Grill (one of the sit-down dining spots at Coronado) has varying reviews online, but we really enjoyed our dinner here during our last stay.
Coronado Springs contains a total of 1,915 rooms, most of which measure 314 square feet and contain two queen beds. Those looking for a bit more room can check out one of the Junior Suites, or 1 Bedroom Suites which can sleep up to 6. For those traveling with even larger parties, the executive suite can sleep up to 8 with a total of 4 beds (1 king size and 3 queen size). Disney is currently refurbishing the rooms at Coronado, meaning your next stay here can be in a completely refreshed room with new flooring and furniture.
Have you ever stayed at Saratoga Springs or Coronado? If so I would love to know what you think. If not, I highly recommend you consider staying at one of them during your next visit home! Do you have any resorts that you feel fly under the radar? Drop me a comment and let me know all about it!
Let’s chat about how to get you there. My travel services are absolutely FREE to you when you book your Disney Destination vacation with me!