Monday, June 27, 2016

Why I Love Magic Bands!

If you haven't been to Walt Disney World in the last few years, you might not understand what all the hoopla is about Magic Bands. Well....I'm here to help you!

In the simplest of terms- Magic Bands are everything at Disney World. Your park ticket, room key, Fastpasses, dining...and a way to charge purchases to your room if you so desire. It's a flexible bracelet of sorts, comparable to a Fitbit. They're pretty lightweight and very adjustable. They can be made small enough for the tiniest of wrists. I thought I would hate wearing it, but I honestly didn't mind. I got used to it real quick.

To use it, you simple press the Mickey head on your band to the scanner...which will also have a Mickey head on it. The scanner will glow green when its verified. That's pretty much it! (I'll explain the rest below.)

Your first experience using the band will most likely be Magical Express. You don't need to have it on...your boarding pass from your voucher book will be sufficient. We didn't wear them the first time, but did the second time, and I preferred using the band. I didn't have to fidget with the booklet. And I felt kinda special already having it on....and I wasn't even on Disney property yet!

Next you'll use it to enter your Disney resort room. You'll see the same Mickey head on your door. Hold your band to it and wait to hear the click of the lock, then walk on in. No glowing green light here :(

Next up! The parks! When you approach the turnstiles, you'll see that same Mickey head scanner. He'll glow bright green and the you'll be prompted to scan your finger. Security! Gotta have it! That way, if you lose your band and someone else finds it, they can't use it.

I LOVE the Magic Band for Fastpasses! No more papers to keep track of and pull out. They're all linked to your Magic Band. Just scan your band and walk right in!

If you have a Disney Dining plan attached to your reservation, you use it for that too! For snacks and counter service meals, the cashier will have a Mickey scanner. They will then have you key in your pin number, chosen at check in. Everyone who is on your reservation must use the same pin number, so make sure everyone knows it. Or they won't she access to their dining credits. For sit down meals, the waiter or waitress will scan your band at the table and ask for a pin, then print out a receipt right then and there. Proceed just as you have in the past with gratuity.

You can use your band to purchase souvenirs too! Or anything! When you check in, you can link a credit card to your reservation and choose which guests on the reservation have charging privileges. When you make a purchase, simply scan your band, just like with your dining credits, and punch in your pin number. Done! I'd like to point out that your credit card will not be changed immediately...but rather the purchase is charged to your room. You can then choose to pay the balance any way you'd like, or just have Disney charge your credit car on check out day.

Magic Bands come in several colors: Grey, Red, Blue, Yellow Green, Pink, Orange...and finally PURPLE! You must customize in your My Disney Experience account ahead of time or they will come in the default grey. Or you can purchase a specialty band online. They range in price and have all kinds of characters on them. Visit Disney's website or the Shopping tab on the My Disney Experience app. There are also D-Tech locations inside Disney world where you can purchase a custom band. There are also ALL kinds of trinkets and charms to decorate your band with.

There you have it! My side to Magic Bands! Feel free to comment with your questions!!

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Dining Plan Details for 2017!!!

I'm a big fan of dining in Disney World and we adore the Disney Dining Plan!! We've done both the Quick Service and Plus Dining plans, and maybe someday we'll be able to go Deluxe! Disney made  a few changes to their plans for 2017 and I have the details here!!

Click the links below for the PDF brochures!

Quick Service Plan

Plus Plan

Deluxe Plan

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

2017 Disney World Packages are HERE!

Have you been anxiously awaiting the release of Disney World packages for 2017??? I know I have!! Well, the wait is OVER! As of today, you can officially book your 2017 vacation package!!

In case you were wondering, I'm a Disney-certified travel planner/travel agent. That means I can book your Disney vacation for you and help with every step of the planning!! And I do it all for FREE!

I can help with:

- Resort recommendations
- Explain the different park passes
- Offer advice on when to go
- Help you decide whether or not a Disney Dining Plan is right for you
- Book your vacation package
- Help you choose which restaurants to dine at
- Book dining reservations for you
- Help you choose which days of your trip to go to which parks
- Assist with all Disney technology including Magic Bands, My Disney Experience Account, Fastpass, and more
- Book Fastpasses for you
Make any special reservations you may need, such as Bibbiddi Bobbiddi Boutique, Pirate's League, Wishes Fireworks Cruise
- Arrange your transportation from the airport to Disney property and back again
- Be on hand to answer questions before and during your vacation, anytime

Contact me today for a free no-obligation quote!! Or find e on Facebook!

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Top 6 Disney Souvenirs!

In my opinion, you can't go to Disney World and NOT buy anything. Most trips I have to really control myself and not buy every single awesome thing I see....which is very difficult because there are awesome things EVERYWHERE!! But over the years I have become really skilled at asking myself if I really need something before I buy it. Will I actually use it at home, or will it collect dust?

So here's my list of the best souvenir buys for your next Disney vacation!

* Photo Albums
I am a huge fan of photos. Always have been. And I need them printed and in albums. We usually get Memory Maker so I can have all the fun photos. I buy a photo album (or two!) every trip. Usually I buy the one with the year on it. Though my last trip mid-December 2015, they were already out of them :( I display all the albums on a shelf in my living room. They're so pretty!

* Ornaments 
I just started this a few years ago. It started simple with one ornament with the year on it. And well..... Now I buy like 3 or 4 every trip. I love all the fun ornaments they have! Last trip I started the Shoe Collection!

* Jewelry
I have a few pieces I've bought during our trips. They're not expensive pieces, but I love them. I love wearing them :) I usually go for the more subtle things...not the ones that scream "DISNEY!!!!" but that's just me. My favorite is a necklace that says "Love" in ti rhinestones with a tiny Mickey head silhouette off the "L".

We all have a kitchen at home. We all use dishes. So this is definitely a souvenir that gets used. I have a few mugs, some kitchen clips, a set of vintage Disney glasses, a Mickey pancake mold. There's a set of Mickey flatware I've had my eye on for a couple years, but have yet to actually buy it.

* Sweatshirt 
Where I'm from, it's cold for many months out of the year. And even in the warm months, it's chilly at night. So we own sweatshirts...lots of them. Disney sweatshirts are pricey, but they're good quality and we get lots of use out of them.

* Pressed Pennies
I got kind of obsessed about this one for a while ;) Disney has Pressed Penny machines all over it's property. Don't know what a Pressed Penny is? Basically the machine takes your penny...and 50 cents... and squishes it. When it come out it has a new picture pressed into it. All kinds of pictures, from Mickey and friends to princesses, to attraction logos and other fun stuff. They even sell books to hold all your pennies. I have a few. I counted once. I think I had over 300 different pennies just form Disney World. And there were tons I hadn't gotten. The machines are easy to spot. Make sure you have tons of quarters on you and nice shiny pennies.

So what are your favorite souvenirs?? Anyone wanna share their souvenir regrets? That will be an upcoming post ;)

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

What is the Best Time to Visit Walt Disney World?

If you ask 10 people that question, you'll get 10 different answers. Everyone has their own definition of "best." For me, best is when the parks are quietest. I'm not a fan of huge crowds. I don't like waiting in long lines. I like to feel relaxed and calm on vacation, not worrying about everything we have to skip because the parks are so crowded.

According to, the lowest crowds are:

The week after New Year's Day
End of January into the beginning of February
End of February into first week of March
End of August through the first week of October
End of October through mid November
The week after Thanksgiving through mid December

It's best to avoid all holidays or school breaks. Even just a single day holiday like Martin Luther King Jr's birthday or Columbus day will draw crowds, though not as much as full school breaks do. The marathons draw crowds as well.

Highest crowds:

Mid February (President's week)
Pretty much all of March and sometimes April (Spring Break and Easter)
Memorial Day weekend
Fourth of July
Most of June, July, and August
Thanksgiving week
Mid December through the first of the year

But some of the busier times of year are also a great time to be there, if you can handle crowds. There are all kinds of fun events going on, such as:

Marathons (February, April, and November)
Flower and Garden Festival (Spring)
Food and Wine Festival (Fall)
Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party (September and October)
Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party (November and December)

When's your favorite time to go to Walt Disney World??

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Pros and Cons of Every Age Range

Many parents struggle with the "right" age to take their kids on a Disney Parks vacation. In my opinion, EVERY age is a great age! I've heard many say they are waiting until they are old enough to remember. I understand that. A Disney vacation can be expensive, and may be a once in a lifetime event for a family, so I understand the need to get the most out of the experience. But there are drawbacks to every age, actually. Not just the little ones.

Here's my list of pros and cons for each age range!

Babies (Ages 0-18 months)

Pros: Babies are easy. They sit in their stroller all day and don't ask for every souvenir they see. Most are content to sit and watch everything going on around them and will nap right in their stroller. Disney has Baby Care Centers that are a great place for a meal (for baby) or just some quiet downtime. There are many attractions that are perfectly safe for babies to ride on mom or dad's lap, so the family can still experience much of the park together. (Unlike many other theme/amusement parks) And for the bigger thrill rides, Disney has a Rider Swap program to minimize your line wait times. Babies are FREE! No need to pay for a park pass or dining plan.

Cons: There are many attractions that babies cannot experience, or won't want to (dark rides). You will need to tour the parks at a slower pace and take frequent breaks for diaper changes and feedings. You'll need to lug quite a good amount of stuff into the parks with you- diapers, wipes, food, bottles, extra clothes. Babies won't remember it. You won't be able to ride thrill rides with your significant other. Someone will have to stay with baby.

Toddlers (18 months-3 years)

Pros: At this age they're starting to recognize who Mickey and other characters are and most will be amazed at seeing them up close and personal. They get so excited! Attractions will be very exciting for them too. You may be sick of the song from it's a small world, but they will love it. Many kids this age will still nap in the stroller. Kids under 3 are FREE! Even if they turn 3 while at Disney, as long as they are still 2 at check in, you're good!

Cons: They're still too small for bigger rides. Some kids will be scared of the characters. They might not remember it. This seems to be the prime age for being scared of dark rides.

Preschoolers (3-5 years)

Pros: This is the best age for character interaction. They just love meeting the characters they adore and still believe it's really the character and not just a person in a costume. The amazement and wonder is still there. Many kids are taller by this age and can ride the attractions with a 40 inch height minimum.

Cons: Still too short to ride thrill rides. They're no longer free. Some are still scared on dark rides.

Elementary Kids (5-9)

Pros: They're FINALLY tall enough for Space Mountain and Rock n Roller Coaster! And they are so so excited to ride! Kids on the younger side of this spectrum are still into the characters, any many of the older ones too. They're still considered a kid, so they're cheaper for park passes and dining plan. They understand more of what's going on at Epcot and Animal Kingdom and get a kick out of things like Kidcot Stations at Epcot and Wilderness Explorers at Animal Kingdom. They'll definitely remember it, and will most likely talk about it for months after you go home. (Is that a pro or a con? LOL!)

Cons: By the later end of the spectrum, most kids know the characters are just people in costumes. No more strollers, so you get lots of complaints about sore feet. And lots of, "Can you buy me this?"

Tweens (10-12)

Pros: They have more stamina at this age and can make it all day and into the evening without needing a nap or being tired. Most will be ready for all thrill rides and want to do them over and over.  Their palettes are expanding so they will be willing to try all the awesome restaurants on Disney property, not just ones with chicken nuggets and mac n cheese.

Cons: Starting at age 10, they are considered adults and must pay adult price for park passes and dining plan. Kids start to get embarrassed at this age and might not be as willing to play along and have fun. They might be over the whole character meet n greet thing. They might not be as impressed with slower rides.

Teens (13-19)

Pros: You finally have mini adults on your hands and can enjoy the parks together. Teens are more appreciative of fancier restaurants and shows like LaNouba. They will be able to shop with you without constantly asking for things (hopefully) and can better understand the cost of things.

Cons: They might miss their friends at home and want to spend a lot of time on their phones. They might want to spend time on their own at the parks, without you. And two words- hormonal meltdowns. Teen years are so so fun.....

So there's my list of pros and cons! Got a pro or con of your own for a certain age range that I haven't listed?? Comment below!!

Friday, January 15, 2016

Finding Happiness!

I'm pretty lucky. I've found a way to make money doing something I love. TWO somethings to be exact. They feed my soul in different ways, using different sides of my brain. For the first time in a long time I feel secure. I feel like I've really found my path....two paths that run along-side each other.

As you all know, I'm a Disney-certified travel agent/travel planner with Fairytale Journeys. I adore all things Disney. I love helping people plan magical vacations. I love helping families find that oh-so-precious and oh-so-rare family bonding time! I love helping them plan an escape from their everyday lives!

And I guess my other job is all about escape too! I'm also a romance author :)

I started writing years ago--like 10--on a whim and it just blossomed. I couldn't stop. I needed to do it. So much so that I often stayed up until two a.m. writing, and had to force myself to go to bed because I knew my daughter was going to be up in only a few hours! I learned the craft, met any many wonderful people, took baby steps, and eventually got to a good place. I currently have six contemporary romance novels published with the seventh releasing this July!

I love creating these wonderful worlds. I love creating these sassy characters and putting them into crazy situations. I love the love. I love when readers love my stories. I love that I create something that gives people an escape from whatever they need escaping from.

Check out my Author Blog here and my Author Facebook page here!

Never before in my life have a felt so happy and secure about my career/s. Who knew you could have passion for two things???!!!

My two careers fulfill me in different ways. The writing nurtures my soul, my creativity. It's my outlet for my thoughts and feelings. But it is a roller coaster, as any artist knows. I often doubt myself, but then later that day, I feel like a million bucks! I have very few answers and I don't think I will ever feel like an authority. But that's okay. I love what I create. I love what I give to others. I love the journey. And I can't wait to see where it takes me.

The travel planning is very different. I know all the answers, or at least know where to find them. I feel very in control, which is a feeling I rarely have when it comes to writing. And actually I think that's good for me. It's good to have control, but also good to know when you have to give it up. I love helping people create memories for their families. Life is so full of must-dos and I think families often run out of time for togetherness. When I help families plan a Disney vacation, I'm giving them peace of mind. I'm helping them create opportunity for quality time with their family. I'm helping them create memories they will cherish forever.