Welcome to the Blog!
While I would like to think I will offer the best and most up to date information that is out there about Disney, it simply cannot be true. There are too many amazing blogs out there that already do that. And to be honest, I just don't have the time! However, I will offer my honest opinions and experiences as frequently as possible. This blog is simply a way to document my experiences and collect my thoughts while talking about the love of my life, Walt Disney World and Disney in general. Thanks for reading!
When you enter the Land pavilion in Epcot’s Future World West, the first thing you should see are large balloons hanging overhead. You might even glance upwards at them when you are dining at Sunshine Seasons. What you might not realize is that these balloons fit in perfectly with the ideas of the Land pavilion. The large balloon in the center at the highest point represents the land itself, Earth. Can you guess from the pictures what the surrounding balloons represent? The four seasons that we experience on Earth are shown in the surrounding balloons. Icons such as flowers and butterflies are shown on the Spring balloon, whereas the sun and birds are featured on the Summer balloon. Each balloon has beautiful vibrant colors to represent the season. I must have walked by this hidden gem a hundred times before really stopping to understand how well this fits in with the Land.
1. Complimentary Services
Perhaps one of the biggest reasons to take advantage of using a travel agent for your Disney vacation (or any other type of vacation for that matter) is that the service you are provided is 100% complimentary to you, the client. The supplier, such as Disney, pays the travel agent for the booking and the client pays absolutely nothing extra. Not a thing! It is a common misconception that you will pay fees to a travel agent and this is simply not the case.
2. Expert Advice & Knowledge
I've been to Walt Disney World specifically every year for the past 10 years and it truly is a passion of mine. I spend time keeping up to date on all the news going on at the World as well as all Disney destinations. I make sure to stay at different resort hotels each time, try new dining experiences, take special tours, and do all of the extra things offered at this amazing vacation destination. I not only do it because I love it, but I do it so that I can confidently make expert recommendations to my clients for their upcoming vacations. We all know that the internet is out there and it can offer you really great resources when planning but did you know that a trip to Walt Disney World requires more research than any other destination? Relying on a true Disney expert can save you so much time and stress!
3. Dining Reservations, Fast Pass Plus & My Magic Plus
There have been so many changes at Walt Disney World in the last year with the arrival of the My Magic + system. It can get extremely confusing, especially to a first time visitor. When using a travel agent you can be assured that you will receive all of the must have info regarding these changes and how to navigate them. Not to mention I can book your dining reservations for you. Many of the hard to get dining reservations require being online or on the phone extremely early in the morning 180 days in advance of your vacation. I will spend that time securing these reservations for you, saving you the trouble of remembering to get it done, getting up early, and spending time on hold with Disney.
4. Cost Savings
Not only are the expert services you are receiving free, they can actually save you money. Agents are aware of all new promotions and discounts offered by the Disney company minutes after they become available. We will automatically apply any new promos that will save you money to your reservation without being asked by the client. You could wake up one day to an email saying, "I just saved your $600 on your reservation" or "I just got you the free dining promotion." The best part is, you would not even have had to know such a promo existed. You would not receive this service if you booked direct yourself and you could miss out on some great savings opportunities!
Often times agents offer special incentives or thank you gifts for choosing to book your vacation with them. Some come in the form of Disney gift cards or special prizes for the kids like plush toys, autograph books, etc. I believe that once you contact me and receive the expert friendly service, prompt responses to your questions, and overall attention to detail you wouldn't need the incentive to want to book. But I still like to thank my clients for their trust and loyalty.
6. Personalized Itineraries
New to the parks and not sure how to make the best use of your time? Want to make sure you hit all of your must dos? I can help you plan as little or as much of your vacation as you would like me to. I understand that some people like to do their own planning. If that is the case, just say the word and I will let you do your thing. However if you feel the need to have help planning out every detail, that is something that I love to do!
7. Supporting a Small Business
Lastly, using a travel agent is a way to support a small business/individual who is doing this mainly because they truly love it but also because they are using their skills to make a living. Even if you consider yourself to be a Disney expert and want to do most of your planning, using a travel agent to complete the booking helps a small business to grow and it costs you absolutely nothing more than if you were to do it yourself.
The next time that you are planning a vacation to Walt Disney World, Disneyland, Disney Cruise Line, or any other vacation, please consider contacting myself or any of the wonderful agents at Magical Vacations by Me for all of your travel needs, big or small. We really do appreciate it!
As you are leaving Expedition Everest at Disney’s Animal Kingdom and heading further into Asia you may see a shrine to your left. This is a popular photo pass site as the background for your picture is Expedition Everest - Legend of the Forbidden Mountain. Like most things at Walt Disney World, the shrine has a purpose. The outline of the shrine represents the shape of the mountains you see in the distance. However, you might not realize this trick when you are standing to the left or right of the shrine. When standing directly in front of the shrine and quite a ways back, slowly bend down. You will find that the shrine aligns exactly with the mountain range behind it. Want to know another cool secret? There is also a telescope near the shrine. When you look into the telescope you will find that it is focused on the mountain to the right of the highest peak. That peak is actually Everest whereas the highest peak is the Forbidden Mountain.
I absolutely love this week's "Wordless Wednesday" blog hop theme - A Different Perspective.
It's definitely something I try to do frequently when I am lucky enough to visit the World. I try to look at things in a different way or take an interesting picture of something common to show it in another light. Now I am no photographer and I don't always do it well, but I definitely like to document my trips in pictures. Anytime I can snap something interesting that I may not have noticed before to add to my photo memories, is a good day for me.
I'm a huge fan of signage around the parks. I tend to take more pictures of signs than anything else. A fun challenge is to try to get your background to incorporate in some way with the sign you are taking a picture of.
A favorite of mine was from the Food and Wine Festival at Epcot in 2010. I liked lining up the food kiosk's sign with the pavilion's beautiful architecture in the background. Not a masterpiece by any means, but just a little different perspective.
Want to link up with the Blog Hop? Visit Deb over at Focused on the Magic.
It's my favorite time of the month! You guessed it! It's KILL REFURB MARRY time with Mouse on the Mind and This Happy Place Blog!
If you aren't familiar with the rules, every month they choose a category that relates to Walt Disney World. You then have to choose within that category what you would kill, refurb, and marry. This month's category is WORLD SHOWCASE COUNTER SERVICE LOCATIONS.
OMG how tough is this category? The World Showcase has got to be one of my favorite all time places to eat. I can think of at least four that I would take out on a date right this second. So how can I possibly marry just one? Yeah yeah...quit complaining....just choose!
KILL : LOTUS BLOSSOM CAFE
I had to kill something and the Lotus Blossom Cafe in the China pavilion just happens to be my least favorite of all. I struggled between the Liberty Inn and this one but in the end it came down to the fact that I'd choose Liberty Inn before I would choose Lotus Blossom Cafe for a meal. It's not that I have ever had a terrible meal here but it just really isn't all that unique. To me it is typical Chinese food that you could find at any little take-out restaurant at home. There is nothing that jumps out as something I must try or I'll never forgive myself. Also there is really nothing regarding the location or atmosphere that has me jumping out of my chair. All in all, it's just fine. I hate to tell you this but fine is not going to cut it when we are playing Kill Refurb Marry. Sorry folks.
REFURB : YORKSHIRE COUNTY FISH SHOP
I have to refurb this one even though it's on my list of places I'd like to get involved with on a more personal level. The reason is simple. It's just tiny. And it only serves one entree. Now some might call it quaint which I wouldn't disagree with. The smallness might contribute to the hidden gem aspect of this actually fantastic little eatery. But I'm refurbing it anyways because well they told me I had to pick something and so I am! What if they could add a couple more options to the menu while still keeping it authentic? It seems to happen from time to time that one person in your party doesn't care for fish and chips, therefore you feel guilty for wanting to enjoy the deliciousness of fish and chips! If they had a few more things, maybe those mean people that I hang out with would let me go there more often. One other refurb option could be to add an indoor seating area as well as more outdoor seating options. Expand a bit, I dunno.
MARRY : TANGIERINE CAFE
Ok so I am assuming that La Cava or Tutto Gusto is cheating.....right? I'm more inclined to marry someone after I've had a couple of margaritas or glasses of wine. But in all seriousness, Tangierine Cafe????? WHAT???? Who would of thought that I would be a fan of Moroccan food? Two words people. Lamb Wrap. I am forever in love with the Tangierine Cafe and I don't care who knows it! I am only ashamed that it took me so long to venture out and try it. Not only is the food fantastic, but the seating area is really gorgeous inside and out. If you can nab a table just outside of the door under an umbrella next to the gorgeous fountain at the entrance to the pavilion than you have hit the jack pot my friend. Now I will admit, I've yet to experience Spice Road Table. I have a feeling I will like it even more or at least just as much. But until I get to try that one out, I am sticking with my new found love.
Want to play along? Join the Blog Hop below! And make sure to check out all the other great sites who played along too!
So with all of my trips to WDW, there is always a period of reflection. Where I look back on the time spent, think about some of the things I wished I would have done, you know....pine away for days gone by.
Since I usually only go yearly - twice a year if I am lucky, I find there are lots of things I miss when trying to fit everything in. If only I were a Florida resident, these regrets if you will would never exist. But what are you gonna do? All I can do is put them back on my list and make sure I hit them "next time."
It's craziness but I feel like we zoomed right through Tomorrowland on our first night to hit the TTA and I swear we never went back there. This makes me sad. I really wish we had taken some more time to explore Tomorrowland. It is safe to say it is my least favorite land, but I still love it. So I definitely need to get to know it much better. Regret # 1 is that I didn't slow down and mosey around this land. I would have liked to get a snack here, definitely wish I would have gotten on Space Mountain, and it flat out sucks to miss the Carousel of Progress. Damn you New Fantasyland, why did you take up so much of our time this trip?
2. Starbucks in Epcot
I love Starbucks! What is my problem??? We walked by this Starbucks on our way to somewhere that I can no longer recall. I remember saying, "we need to go into that Starbucks for a beverage on our way back." Do you think we ever made it in there? Of course not. It's the classic "let's make sure we do that on our way back through" comment that almost never seems to actually happen. I might as well of said, "we are never going in there, ok? Everyone good? Awesome! Moving on...." Long story short - totally bummed I didn't get my favorite Valencia Orange Refresher from the new location. Luckily since it's brand new I would assume it's not going anywhere any time soon. So put it back on the list for next year.
3. Fort Wilderness
For some idiotic reason I had thought we would have so much time to fit everything in that I needed to make additional plans for our "down" times. Yeah right! What down time????? Months before the trip I had been talking about how I would like to go over and visit Fort Wilderness. Maybe take a carriage ride, maybe a horse ride, maybe just stroll around and check things out. The possibilities were endless. I have only been to Fort Wilderness once and it was for the Hoop De Due Review in 2003. I don't remember much about the resort as we arrived in the dark, went to the show, and left immediately after in the dark. I wanted to get to know the resort a little more, decide if it was ever a place I might stay, etc. You might have guessed already, but we never made it. There were so many in park experiences that we had still wanted to do. It didn't make sense to use up valuable time at a place that didn't require a ticket. *Sigh* Maybe someday.
4. World Showcase Movies
I absolutely love all three World Showcase movies. Impressions de France is my favorite, followed by O'Canada at a close second, and lastly Reflections of China. I am sad to say, we did not watch one of them. Granted, we were mighty busy drinking at La Cava de Tequila. Perhaps a movie that wraps around your head with the use of several screens might have ended in disaster this time. But regardless, I am actually disappointed in myself that I did not at least get to Impressions de France. I seriously need two weeks next time guys, this is ridiculous!
5. Food Trucks at Downtown Disney
I have been listening to the news about these food trucks for what seems like forever prior to our trip. I was so excited to get my snack on and try several of the options. I was really excited about it. The times we were in Downtown Disney, not only did I not try any of them, I never even looked for them or saw them. Epic fail!
Am I alone on this type of reflection? Do you ever leave the World and think about all of the things that could have been?
Yeah yeah I know. I am super lucky to have even went, and I tell myself this all the time. But damn....why is there so little time when you actually get there?
Saturday, December 7th, 2013
I have to shed a tear now because this will be our last full day at WDW.
We really had no set plans on this day other than our dining reservation that evening at The Turf Club at Saratoga Springs. Sometimes it's nice to not have a plan on the last day. It gave us a chance to think about what we missed and make sure to try and fit it in.
We all agreed that we wanted to go back to Animal Kingdom. This might be surprising to some, but due to the Wild Africa Trek on our first day, we didn't really get to some of the things we wanted to do. Well and I just flat out love this park!
And while examining the Tree of Life a little closer, I noticed a new animal carving that I had never noticed before. Some of you may wonder where I have been, but I will admit I had never seen this particular animal near the base of the tree. This is part of the reason I love this tree so much, I see a new animal on every trip!
So our first order of business was to wander more around the tree. We wanted to go through all of the Discovery Island trails and see what we could find. I absolutely love these trails, there is never anyone back there. They really are one of my favorite parts of the Animal Kingdom and a great place to get away from the crowds. I was disappointed however that my favorite trail that takes you past the kangaroos and up toward the front of the tree was closed off. Not sure why or what they had going on, but we couldn't get the up close views I had hoped for. I also noticed the giant catfish looking thing was gone and his/her stream was empty. I hope he/she is coming back.
Next stop - some shopping in Asia and the Maharajah Jungle Trek.
When we arrived at Animal Kingdom on this morning, we decided that we might be in and out rather quickly since we just wanted to get to a couple of trails and the Maharajah Jungle Trek. Our thoughts were to head over to Downtown Disney at some point that afternoon. Since there isn't a direct bus to Downtown Disney and we would have to connect through a resort, we had wanted to possibly head over to Art of Animation for lunch and try out their food court that I have heard so many good things about.
That plan didn't exactly pan out. We were having a rather nice time at Animal Kingdom and once we got to the Maharajah Jungle Trek it was already after 11. Running out of the park and over to another resort just seemed like too much work at this point and we wanted a little more relaxation in our last park day. So we finished the trek and decided to have lunch at the Yak & Yeti Counter Service.
Oh and a moment of silence for the beautiful Komodo Dragon who just passed away last month.
I must admit, I am kinda glad we didn't leave the park to go to Art of Animation. True, I have been dying to get over there and check it out but I couldn't have been more pleased with my lunch at Yak & Yeti. Not only was the seating area just gorgeous, I really loved my meal. I decided on the Mandarin Chicken Salad. We had eaten like pigs all week and it actually felt amazing to have a light salad. It was just enough and not too much for me to feel refreshed and ready to take on the rest of the day.
After we finished, we were wandering by Flights of Wonder and saw that a show was beginning in the next 15 minutes. Score! There was also a margarita stand right outside of the theater. Double Score!
And as if it couldn't get any better, you can take beverages into the theater! Triple Score!
Now it was getting rather hot out, so you know that I jumped on the chance to have a cold beverage while seated in a shaded theater. The breeze coming through was amazing, and overall it was just a lovely time. Plus I love that show!
We decided we would head over to Harambe as our last stop, and then leave Animal Kingdom for the day. After listening to Radio Harambe for the last several months, I had the African Spice Cake on my list and I wasn't leaving until we had tried it. We still had quite a few snacks left on our dining plan as well, so it was only natural we would need to get the cake. So we ordered one African Spice Cake from Kusafiri Coffee Shop & Bakery to share. I will agree with Safari Mike and Dave. It was really delicious and a great snack choice. I will be returning to Kusafiri for sure! Oh and if you don't listen to Radio Harambe, you definitely should. Why are you still here? Go....Listen....
Next stop was Downtown Disney as we had been talking about riding on Characters in Flight all week. I was disappointed but not surprised when we got there that the prices had been raised since my last "flight." I went on the balloon in 2011 and I believe it only cost around $13. This time it was $18. Not cool guys....not cool. But regardless, the other members in my group had not been on it before so I was excited to give it another whirl. I really love that this is in Downtown Disney. It is so fun to see more of Walt Disney World property from way up there.
We took the boat from Downtown Disney over to Saratoga Springs a little early so we could take a look around the resort while it was still light out. This was a common theme this week. We would arrive to our reservation a little early, the place was dead, so we got seated earlier than expected. I pretty much think I didn't even need to make ADR's for the restaurants I chose this week. That could be a good thing, or it could be a bad thing.
But in this case, it was a VERY good thing. For two reasons. 1, The Magic Kingdom was going to be open late this night, we wanted to get in as much time as we possibly could so eating early let us leave early and get more time at MK. 2. I like the fact that this place was dead and it's apparent that no one knows about it because it is AMAZING! I will continue to go here and the less people who know the better.
Whoops...I just told everyone.
We decided to sit outside since it was a really pleasant night and even a tad on the chilly side, except indoors the air was up so high it was even chillier. The outdoor seating area was really lovely and I am excited to go back and sit inside on the next visit. For this meal I ordered the Grilled New York Strip and the best part of all was that it came with a lobster fondue to dip the steak into. It was really really good. A favorite meal of the trip. For dessert I ordered the Chocolate Espresso Torte. Another success.
Ending our last night in the Magic Kingdom just seemed right. And we intended to stay as late as we could, or until we felt like we might pass out. We had so much fun on our last night. The crowds were low. We were able to catch the castle projection show again but from much closer up. I can't say enough how much I love this show. We got to do Pirates again (my fav), see the Enchanted Tiki Room for the first time as it was originally and not under new management. Such an improvement and I was actually shocked how much I enjoyed the show. I truly thought I wouldn't care either way, but I LOVED it. Hopefully my new friends at The Enchanted Tiki Talk Podcast (listen to them immediately) will be proud of me!
We then went back to New Fantasyland and hung out by Gaston's Tavern and enjoyed some popcorn from "Popping Machine" cart (still the cutest cart I've ever seen!). We slowly strolled back out and made sure to go through the stores on Main Street and grab any last minute items we forgot to get earlier in the week.
And now I am sad again, because it is over. Well...it's been over for almost two months now but this re-hashing isn't helping guys!
Thanks for reading! Until next time!
Missed Day 5? Read it here:
A December Trip Report - Day 5
Friday December 6th, 2013
This seemed to be the first morning where we weren't rushing to get out the door and to the parks. So instead of heading right out, we decided to do some more exploring of the grounds of the lovely Coronado Springs Resort. I had stayed here on a previous trip so I was already familiar with most of the resort, but I wanted my mom and cousin to get to see more of it. It is funny that it took us 5 days to actually look around our resort. But I'm sorry, our room was literally 8 steps from the bus stop. Can you blame us that we only walked to and from the bus stop each and every day thus far?
It has seriously taken me this long to get over to Epcot?
That NEVER happens.
Thursday, December 5th, 2013
Ok so you probably have guessed it. Today was Epcot day! FINALLY!
Not only was it Epcot day, it was surprise day for my mom. We had planned a Candlelight Processional Lunch Package months ago and this was the only reservation we kept from my mom during our entire planning process. I'm not really sure why I decided to keep it a secret, I just thought it would be fun. I will be honest, the Candlelight Processional is not something I've ever been all that interested in. Yes I love the Christmas story, yes I love celebrities, yes I love candles.....I dunno...I guess I've always just been too busy doing other stuff and haven't wanted to stop to get in line or pay the extra to secure my space. But I knew that she would just be OVER THE MOON about it.
So this trip we decided it was time to experience it. At least once. And luckily I was able to snag a Biergarten lunch reservation for it which is the cheapest one possible. Good news also, I LOVE Biergarten. So it's really a win win for everyone involved. So again I am cheating with my "only eat at different restaurants" approach, but I justified it in the fact that the Candlelight Processional package was new to me. So there!
We arrived at Epcot fairly bright and early. We rode Spaceship Earth right away and had fastpass plus selections for Soarin and Test Track anywhere from 9 to 11. Luckily I made the reservations before the dreaded tier system was put into place! We were stopped twice during our Test Track ride for several minutes. I have not had a seamless ride on Test Track in several years. And no, it wasn't raining.
Some entrance photos...
Wednesday, December 4th, 2013
Day three of our adventure began with a very exciting breakfast reservation....The Kona Cafe. Now, I have been to Kona several times for dinner. It actually is one of my favorite restaurants on property when it comes to dinner. But I had yet to try it for breakfast. I really am not a huge breakfast person. Don't get me wrong, I like breakfast, but let's be honest...in the morning at Walt Disney World I would much rather be sleeping or rope dropping. Take your pick.
We headed out bright and early to catch our Magic Kingdom bus. My experience with the bus service at Coronado Springs has always been stellar. But for some reason throughout this entire trip it was extremely hard to get a Magic Kingdom bus. Six buses for Animal Kingdom would come before a Magic Kingdom bus. It was insane. We started out a little over an hour before our reservation, we arrived at the Magic Kingdom with exactly 10 minutes until our reservation. This is from exiting the bus. We still had to sprint to the monorail and make a stop at the Contemporary and TTC before arriving at Kona. I was extremely nervous due to the new "no show, no cancellation" fee that Disney is supposedly charging people for missing their reservations. We finally arrived, about ten minutes late, but luckily the hostess was very understanding and we were not penalized and there happened to be plenty of tables available.
Now on to the good stuff!!
I just had to try the Tonga Toast!
The Disney community as a whole talks about this particular meal more than anything so I decided it was time. I needed to see exactly what all the fuss was about.
For any of you who may not know the Tonga Toast is banana stuffed sourdough bread, rolled in cinnamon sugar and served with Strawberry Compote.
All in all, I have to say that I really did love it. It was worth checking out for sure and I will say it does live up to the hype. I am not great at describing tastes and flavors so I apologize for not being more descriptive. The strawberry sauce was one of my favorite things about it as well as the cinnamon sugar glaze.....YUMMMMM. I will definitely be going back to Kona for breakfast at some point.
After breakfast we were of course headed into the Magic Kingdom for our one and only day trip to MK. We returned later in the week at night, but this was the one day to try to get to the things we had planned. Most importantly was New Fantasyland. My mom and cousin had yet to see it, so we had plans to spend the majority of our time there. But not before we took some more pics at the Polynesian and made a quick stop to the Grand Floridian to check out some more Xmas decorations!