WHAT WE KNOW ABOUT STAR WARS: GALAXY’S EDGE

WHAT WE KNOW ABOUT STAR WARS: GALAXY’S EDGE

Over the course of the past week, Disney has dropped tons of details about their new Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge. The land is coming to both Disney World and Disneyland this year. Details about cast member costumes, food and drink offerings, opening dates, and more have been announced. Here is everything we know about whats to come in the new land:

Opening Dates and Details 

  • Galaxy’s Edge is set to open May 21 at Disneyland and August 29 at Disney World.
    • Guests who wish to visit the land in DL between May 21 – June 23 will be required to already have a park ticket and make a no cost reservation in order to control crowds. There is no doubt that the reservations will be hard to come by, as they are limited. Guests staying at any of the three Disneyland resorts during this time frame will have a designated reservation time to visit the land. Guests will only be allotted one reservation per person.
    • Disney World, as of now, will not follow this advanced reservation policy. Capacity will, however, be limited.
  • At the open of both lands, the only attraction that will be open and operating in the land will be Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run. The second attraction, Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance will be opening at a date later in the year on both coasts.
    • There will be no Fastpass+ reservation opportunities available at WDW or DL for Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run upon opening.
  • Galaxy’s Edge will not be open or available during Extra Magic Hours or Magic Morning at Disneyland. As of right now, WDW plans to keep the land open in Hollywood Studios during Extra Magic Hours upon opening.
  • Below are some concept art photos of Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run and Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance as provided by D23.

Cast Member Costumes

  • WDW cast members were invited to an exclusive event where they were introduced to the costumes that will be used in the land.
    • There will be unique name tags/badges worn by cast members that are far different than the classic white badges worn by CM’s around the park.
    • The costumes look very layered, heavy, and are created with dark colors. Most costumes include long sleeves and jackets or vests. However, costume ambassadors claim that breathability and the extreme summer temperatures were taken into consideration when creating the costumes.
  • Photo’s of the costumes released by Disney can be found below.

Food and Beverage

  • Food service options in the land will consist of Oga’s Cantina, Docking Bay 7 Food and Cargo, Ronto Roasters, Milk Stand and Kat Saka’s Kettle. 
    • Oga’s Cantina will be a very immersive dining experience that most guests are looking forward to. The restaurant will serve both alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages as well as meals for both lunch and dinner. This will be the first ever restaurant in Dinseyland park to sell alcoholic beverages.
    • Docking Bay 7 Food and Cargo will be another immersive restaurant in the land. This restaurant is described as “fast-casual”, which I’m assuming means a quick-service restaurant. Non-alcoholic beverages as well as lunch and dinner meal options will be served.
    • Ronto Roasters seems to be another quick-service restaurant that will serve barbecue style sandwiches and other finger foods for lunch and dinner.
    • Milk Stand will be a vendor where Disney Imagineers worked hand-in-hand with Lucasfilm to create the iconic blue milk Star Wars drink. The drink will be plant-based to accommodate dietary restrictions. There isn’t much more information on this vendor as of yet.
    • Kat Saka’s Kettle will be a stand in the land where guests can find various flavors of popcorn.
  • No reservations will be taken for any of the dining experiences in the land.
  • The Disney Dining Plan will not be accepted for any food or beverage items at any vendor in the land.
  • Below are some photos of various food and beverage items as provided by D23.

Merchandise

  • There will be plenty immersive merchandise locations in Galaxy’s Edge. Guests will be able to build driods, create lightsabers, and purchase their own Jedi costumes and apparel.
    • Droid Depot will allow guests to create BB-series or R-series droids. The driod’s will be able to interact with elements in the land and respond to guests behaviors. There will also be pre-built droid’s available for purchase.
    • Savi’s Workshop will allow guests to build their own “high quality” lightsaber. Guests will be guided through the process, and will get to chose from a variety of options.
    • Dok-Ondar’s Den of Antiques will be a merchandise location where guests can find items from different Star Wars stories. An anamatronic Dok will be at a desk in the merchandise location interacting with the surroundings.
    • The Creature Stall will have various plush creatures available for purchase including  pogs, wampas, and more.
    • Toydarian Toymaker will be another location guests can purchase plush characters from the series as well as wooden and tin toys and instruments.
    • Guests who are a part of the resistance will be able to purchase apparel and accessories from Resistance Supply. 
    • Likewise, if you consider yourself a part of the first order, you will be able to pick up first order apparel and accessories at First Order Cargo.
    • Other apparel and accessories will be available for purchase at Black Spire Outfitters.
  • There has been no word or communication from Disney on whether guests will be able to wear the apparel they purchase from the shops in the land.
  • Everything sold in Galaxy’s Edge was made specifically for the land, therefor will not be available for purchase outside of Galaxy’s Edge.
  • Below are some photos of merchandise that will be available for purchase, as provided by D23.

And there you have it – all we know so far about Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge! I know personally I am thrilled for this land to open, and I cannot wait to experience it. However, with anticipation and all the hype will come heavy crowds – so, if you plan on visiting the parks to experience this land, be prepared for long waits to just get inside.

Are you excited for Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge to open in Disneyland or Walt Disney World? Let me know down below! I’ll also leave some newly released concept art from Disney and D23 below. Be sure to subscribe to our blog so you’re notified when we post next. See ya real soon!

 

SPENDING MY BIRTHDAY IN THE MAGIC KINGDOM!

SPENDING MY BIRTHDAY IN THE MAGIC KINGDOM!

This past Friday, March 1, was my 26 birthday! I love birthday’s no matter what, but this one was extra special because it was the first birthday that I got to spend in WDW! I had always dreamed of spending my day in the most magical place on earth, and I was so excited that I finally had the chance to do so!

My fiancé was working on my birthday, but a few friends that I met through working offered to head to MK with me. We are all teachers, so obviously we worked during the day. We ended up meeting at the park a little before 6:30 and had until park closing (9:00) to fit in some birthday magic! And let me tell you – although it was a short time in the park, it was such a magical experience!

First thing when heading in the park, we stopped to get celebratory buttons. I, of course, got a Happy Birthday button to wear proudly around the park, while my two friends got I’m Celebrating buttons! The birthday button was the LAST button that I needed in my collection – I’ve gotten the First Time button from my trip to DL in 2016, I’ve had the Happily Ever After button from getting engaged on property, and I’ve gotten the I’m Celebrating button for various things on property. I am so excited to add this one to the collection!

We then started to head down Main Street USA and decided to stop at a Photopass photographer to snap some pictures. Our photographer was wonderful, snapped a ton of special pictures, and even included a fun magic shot!

Next, we stopped at Pecos Bills Tall Tale In and Cafe to grab something to eat, which is one of my favorite quick service restaurants on property that I would highly recommend. After dinner, I wanted to try and find the new donut Minnie Ears. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find them anywhere but I opted for the ice cream bar ears instead! I’ve had my eyes on them for a while anyway, so I figured it was worth it!

After grabbing our ears, we walked over to the bridge right near Be Our Guest to watch the fireworks show. If you don’t mind missing the projections on the castle, this is one of the best places to watch the fireworks! It’s never crowded, and you get a great view of the castle as well as the fireworks. You can also hear the music to accompany the fireworks, which is a huge plus!

The last thing on our agenda was to ride Splash Mountain. Now, I have a confession – before this night, I have never ridden this ride [or Kali River Rapids]. I have heard only good things about this ride and always admired it, but I could never bring myself to get soaking wet then have to walk around the park. Luckily, I was not the only one in our group who had never experienced this ride. With a little fairy dust, we somehow scored Fastpass+ reservations last minute and thought we would give it a try. I do have to say that I did not get nearly as wet as I thought I would have! It was a fun and great ride that I would recommend everyone experience and I cannot wait to ride it again!

Lastly, the night was over. Before heading out of the park, we stopped really quickly at the Rapunzel restroom area to snap a few pictures with a lantern. Heading to the TTC at park closing is something I always DREAD, but I learned a really great tip/trick that I plan to share with you guys in a future blog about how to avoid the long boat and monorail lines 🙂

Overall, experiencing my birthday in MK was such a magical experience! I am so thankful to have had great friends to accompany me because it was a fantastic time. I already can’t wait for 27 so I can head back to the parks for a birthday celebration again!

Thanks for reading 🙂 I hope you enjoyed today’s story time blog! Below are some fun pictures from the night. Be sure to subscribe to our blog to be notified when we post next. Have a magical day, we’ll see ya real soon 🙂

8 THINGS I WISH I KNEW BEFORE MY FIRST TRIP TO WDW!

8 THINGS I WISH I KNEW BEFORE MY FIRST TRIP TO WDW!

Planning a WDW vacation can be stressful, especially if you’ve never been to the resort/parks and don’t know exactly what to plan for. I thought I was completely ready for our first trip – I had our park backpacks packed and ready, I chose weather appropriate clothing, I made sure we had sunscreen and bandaids – but there were some things I had no idea about that I should have been prepared for.

Although my fiancé and I had the best time on our first WDW vacation (you can read all about it here: OUR FIRST DISNEY TRIP AS A COUPLE!), there are some things that I wish I had known before our trip! Had I known these things, it would have went for a much smoother vacation. So, here are 8 things that I wish I had known before our first trip that would have made for an even more magical vacation!

  1. The My Disney Experience app is a necessity. From booking Fastpass+ and ADR’s to checking wait times for rides, navigating your way around the park, finding out showtimes for parades and fireworks – the list goes on and on. I made the mistake of not having this app during my first visit to the park and found myself asking cast members question after question that could have easily been answered in the app! The app can be downloaded on all smartphones and is free, making it an absolute necessity!
  2. Take advantage of the Fastpass+ booking window. The wait times are very long – especially in peak seasons (which is basically all the time now). Guests staying on property can book their Fastpass+ reservations 60 days in advance, while other guests with tickets-only [and Passholders] can book up to 30 days in advance. Use those windows to your advantage and be sure to score your must-have rides! Some Fastpass+ reservation ideas can be found here: BEST RIDES FOR FASTPASS+ RESERVATIONS!.
  3. Making Advance Dining Reservations (ADR’s) is necessary to get into a good table service restaurant for dinner. If you read all about our first Disney trip, you’ll know that we had a very hard time finding any table service restaurant to eat dinner at. Your family, your feet, and your body will thank you if you score reservations at an indoor, air conditioned “sit down” restaurant. Guests staying on property can book ADR’s up to 180 days in advance!
  4. Make sure you pack comfortable, supportive shoes. Our first trip, I made the mistake of wearing sandals to Magic Kingdom and ended the night with blisters covering my feet. Be sure that the shoes you pack for the park are comfortable, supportive, and broken in! Once again, your feet will thank you!
  5. Adding the Park Hopper option to your ticket isn’t really worth it. I’ve mentioned this time and time again in my blog and when giving advice to people heading to WDW for their magical vacations – the park hopper, in my opinion, is not worth it. If you’re staying on property for enough time that you can visit all four parks in four separate days, make it a point to do that. If you’re not staying long enough to visit all of the parks, find out which parks are your priority. It takes so much time out of your day to go from park to park, and it hinders your overall experience.
  6. Dining plans are totally worth it. For my fiancé and I, the DDP completely makes sense. We eat three meals a day, we tend to order the more expensive things on the menu, and it is very convenient for us. Had I known how much we would enjoy and appreciate the DDP, I would have added it on to every one of our WDW vacations! I made an entire blog about DDP’s (A BREAK DOWN OF WDW DINING PLANS!) which will break down into great detail what plan is best for you, if any at all!
  7. Be prepared to wait in line – for everythingSeriously – everything. From the monorails and busses, to baggage check and getting into the gates, to getting your photo’s taken by a Photopass member and more you will constantly be in a line. The more prepared you are for it, the less stressed out you will be! As I mentioned above, you can cut down the wait times for these lines by doing things such as heading to the parks at rope drop, making ADR’s, booking Fastpass+ reservations, and having a strategy.
  8. Amazon can ship things to your resort. This is something that I recently found out and never had the chance to take advantage of when I visited the WDW resort for vacations! You can have Amazon ship packages to your resort, and the resort will hold them until checking in. Then, they will bring the packages right to your room! This can come in handy if you forget a necessity at home, but a good friend recently used it to order an inexpensive stroller for her child! This way, she didn’t have to pack her bulky stroller, and planned to donate it to a charity before she left. The possibilities are endless!

As you can see, there are still useful tips and tricks that even I am learning about as time goes on. There will never be a straightforward way to book the perfect vacation, but knowing some of these things ahead of time will only help you in the end!

There you have it! 8 things I wish I knew before my first trip to WDW! Leave a comment below telling me something you wish you’d have known before your first visit that would have made things a little smoother! Also, be sure to subscribe to our blog so you’re notified of any new posts. Thanks for reading, see ya real soon 🙂

PLANNING OUR DISNEY FAIRYTALE WEDDING: PART I

PLANNING OUR DISNEY FAIRYTALE WEDDING: PART I

In honor of my wedding being less than 100 days away (yay!), I thought it would be fun to create a series where I document the planning process of our Disney Fairytale wedding! In this series, I’ll take you along the planning process with me in anticipation of our big day.

But first, let’s backtrack a bit. Up until about January, we had an entire destination wedding planned. The wedding was set to be at Bilmar Beach Resort in St. Petersburg, Florida for all of our family and friends on May 25, 2019. We were looking at 150-200 guests, and it was going to be beautiful.

The closer and closer the wedding got the more stress that was added on. Our family and friends began stressing about getting time off of work and if they could afford it, it was hard finding vendors due to the wedding being Memorial Day weekend, and the list could go on and on. So, finally, my fiance and I decided we would cancel our “big” wedding and elope. That is what leads us to the start of Part I of our Disney Fairytale Wedding series…

Part I: Booking our Fairytale Wedding 

Choosing Our Package

When considering and brainstorming places to elope, one of the major factors we were considering was what would be easily accessible while still fitting into our lifestyle. We didn’t want to just head to a courthouse – we wanted something that would compliment who we were. I started googling “Places to elope in Orlando, Florida”, and Disney Fairytale weddings popped up. We knew then that we would be having a Disney Fairytale wedding.

There are three tiers to choose from for a Disney wedding, and this is where the planning began. The three options are:

  • Wishes: Starting at $12,000 with a minimum of 18 guests.
  • Escape: Starting at $7,000 with a maximum of 18 guests.
  • Memories: Starting at $3,500 with a maximum of 4 guests.

Initially, we thought that the Memories package would fit best for us since we wanted to do a simple elopement. However, the more we discussed the idea of our “special day”, we couldn’t picture saying I Do without our parents and siblings with us. We decided that the Escape package was the best fit for us, and this is where the fun began.

Disney’s Escape Wedding Package

Now that we chose which package would best fit our vision and our guest list, we then contacted a Sales Representative to get further information on how the package works and what is included. Our representative, Joe De Matei, was outstanding and a big help in this first stage of the planning process! During about an hour-long consultation on the phone, I was given the following information on what would be included in our special day:

  • A one-hour ceremony. Within this hour-long time frame, we would have the traditional wedding ceremony including a processional and a recessional. The hour also includes champagne toasts, a cake cutting ceremony, and a first dance.
    • There were several venues to choose from, which I will get more into a little later.
  • A two-tier cake and two bottles of champagne. These two items, as part of the ceremony, are included in the package cost.
  • A solo violinist. The violinist is included for the ceremony, and the song choices for the sand ceremony, processional, recessional, first dance, cake cutting, and more would be decided upon by my fiance and I. We were informed that they have pre-set songs we could choose from, or we could make special  requests ahead of time!
  • A bouquet and boutonniere. For the bride and groom only. There are several options to choose from!
  • A four-hour limousine charter. This can be used for our bridal party or any special guests.
  • 2-hour service of a Disney photographer. The photographer would be there to capture all moments during the ceremony, as well as photos of the bridal party and family after the ceremony has ended.
    • Included with the photographer is a 20-photo personalized album as well as a USB of all photo’s taken on the special day with printing rights.
  • An on-site wedding coordinator, room specialist, and photography coordinator. This team is assigned to you after booking the package.

A few other things that I took note of in regard to the package are…

  • There are several enhancement options that can be added on to customize the special day including floral decor for the ceremony space, additional hours for photography, videography, floral for the bridal party, and more.
  • We were able to set up a room block with special rates for rooms and tickets for our guests. If our guests reserve 10 room nights in total, we are provided with a complimentary nights stay at the resort of our choice.
  • We are required to have a four-night stay booked as the couple, and the reservation has to be linked to our package.

Lastly, some things that are necessary (or, that I found necessary) for our special day and are not included in the package are:

  • An officiant. We are provided with a list to choose from, but the officiant must be paid for and booked seperately.
  • Floral for our bridal party. We have the option of ordering floral through the Disney floral department or bringing in our own.
  • A reserved space to get ready for the bridal party. This one is fine, as we are able to get ready in our hotel rooms and be escorted in the limo to the ceremony space.

After speaking with Joe, we decided that this package was perfect for our elopement and fit our dream very nicely. This moves us into the next part of the process, which is deciding on a venue and putting a “soft hold” on our package!

Choosing our Venue

With the Escape package, we had five different venues to choose from:

  • Disney’s Wedding Pavilion at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort
  • Canada Terrace at the Canada Pavilion in EPCOT
  • Sea Breeze Point at Disney’s Boardwalk Resort
  • Wedding Gazebo at Disney’s Yacht Club Resort 
  • Luau Pointe at Disney’s Polynesian Resort

Our first choice was the Canada Terrace in EPCOT. We love that park, and the backdrop of the ceremony space is the waterfall in the back of the Canada pavilion. However, even though the date we wanted was open (May 24), the only time slot available was 9:00am, as they only do ceremonies before park opening which – to us – was entirely too early!

Our second choice was Luau Pointe. We absolutely love the Polynesian, and this ceremony space is beautiful. It’s very tropical and surrounded by beautiful greenery with the backdrop being Seven Seas Lagoon. Since we initially were supposed to get married on the beach, we figured this was perfect! After deciding on this ceremony spot, we were informed that the 1:00pm slot was already reserved, but a 9:00am and an 11:00am ceremony was open and available. As I mentioned above, 9:00am was too early for our taste, so we decided on the 11:00 slot!

Soft-Hold of our Date and Venue

The next and final step of the booking experience was to put a “soft hold” on our ceremony venue, date, and time. What this basically meant was that everything was reserved in our name for about a month’s time span while the Letter of Agreement was being drawn up and until the deposit was set.

To draw up the Letter of Agreement, I had about two weeks to fill out a form from Joe. On the form, I had to choose up to three resorts for our our room block (one value, one moderate, and one deluxe) as well as a resort for our complimentary room. I also had to provide him with basic information including our contact information and our parents’. Since it was easy information, that part of the process only took about three days.

After sending in that information, it took about another two weeks for Joe and his team to draw up a Letter of Agreement. I had to review that all of the information was correct, and my fiance and I had to sign the document. We then had about two more weeks to get the deposit of $1,000 over to them. Once everything was signed and they received the deposit, Joe and his team took about another week to sign the document on their end as well as assign us our wedding coordinator team.

And, that brings us to the end of Part I of our Disney Fairytale Wedding series! Part II in our series will be information on how we planned every detail of our wedding with our coordinating team, so be on the look-out!

Thanks for reading! I hope you enjoy this series! We are so excited for our special day, adn cannot wait to share it with all of you! Below are some photo’s of the venue we chose (Luau Pointe)! Be sure to subscribe to our blog so you’re notified when we post next! See ya real soon 😉

VALENTINES DAY IN DISNEY?!

VALENTINES DAY IN DISNEY?!

Valentine’s Day is just a few days away, and what better place to spend it than in the Most Magical Place on Earth? Although WDW is viewed as a family friendly vacation destination, there are plenty of things adults can do for a romantic date night. I thought it might be fun today to list a few fun and romantic date ideas for couples this Valentine’s Day!

  1. Spend the evening in Disney Springs. Disney Springs is one of my favorite places to just go visit. Grab a bite to eat, go watch a movie, see a live band or performer, do some shopping – the possibilities there are endless. On vacations, or even now, this  is a place my fiance and I love to get dressed up and go to for a night of fun!
  2. Have dinner at the Sci-Fi Diner in Hollywood Studios. Although it may not seem like it, I think this restaurant can be extremely romantic! There’s just something about sitting in a “car” under the “stars” watching a movie with your loved one that brings major date vibes!
  3. Watch a fireworks show. This is, in my opinion, as romantic as it can get in WDW. Especially if you’re watching Happily Ever After in MK. Between the story told through the projections and the fireworks themselves, this makes for a perfect ending to a romantic night.
  4. Buy a nice gift. This is a tradition my fiance and I have held since we’d come visit for vacations – we’d buy each other “surprises”. It’s almost as if it’s a contest on who can get the better gift. We’d pick a store, set a price point, and split up to find each other the perfect gift/surprise/momento of our day and our vacation. This tradition is still one of our favorites. Some other things we’ve (he’s) done include sneaking to the “bathroom” – aka Pandora or a store – and surprising me with jewelry, balloons, ice cream, etc. It always makes him feel good to surprise me and make me happy, and I love that he’d always think of me and get excited to do so! Definitely something I’d suggest on a romantic date night to WDW!
  5. Go on a few dark rides. Whether it’s Peter Pan’s Flight, Little Mermaid, Winnie the Pooh, or even Haunted Mansion, these rides have potential to be super romantic. Simply just by sitting in your own private ride vehicle and getting to admire the beauty of the ride is something that makes for a romantic time.
  6. Catch a show. One of our favorites to catch when we need a little romance added into our day is Beauty and the Beast in Hollywood Studios. Nothing like seeing a classing and favorite fairy tale come to life right before your eyes!
  7. Play putt-putt at Fantasia Gardens Miniature Golf Course. Mini golf always makes for a fun date with your significant other. Adding the Disney touch to it just makes it that much better of a time!
  8. Simply walking around Magic Kingdom holding hands. There is nothing more simple, and more romantic, than walking hand-in-hand down Main Street USA. You just feel the magic all around you, and if you’re truly in the moment it can make for an unforgettable experience. Just head to MK without a plan and see where the night takes you!

I absolutely could  have went on and on with this list.  As I mentioned above, there’s just something about the magic and the “Disney touch” that can make any experience a romantic one. So, if you’re headed to the parks this Valentine’s Day, keep a few of these ideas in mind to create an unforgettable experience!

Thanks for reading! Do you have any magical and romantic date ideas for WDW that I didn’t mention?  Leave them in a comment down below! Don’t forget to subscribe to our blog to be notified when we post next. Happy Valentine’s Day, I’ll see ya real soon 😉

MY UNPOPULAR OPINIONS – DISNEY!

MY UNPOPULAR OPINIONS – DISNEY!

There’s currently a huge Youtube and blog trend about “my unpopular opinions”. My best friend, Emily, just recently posted one on her Youtube channel which got me thinking about my unpopular opinions! For today’s post, I thought it would be fun to “disneyfy” the popular trend by listing a few of my unpopular Disney opinions. So, here we go!

  1. Dole Whip is gross. Maybe it’s because I don’t like pineapple, but I really do not get the hype. I’d so much rather spend my money on regular soft serve ice cream or a bag of cotton candy.
  2. Children should not be allowed on parent’s shoulders during parades, fireworks, stage shows, etc. I completely get why parents do this. However, if as a society we become kind enough to let small children stand in front of us for parades and shows, or decide to all sit down (like they do in Tokyo Disneyland), then everyone could enjoy each show and this wouldn’t be an issue!
  3. I approve of the ticket price increases. In fact, I think prices should continue to increase or something else should be done to limit the crowds at WDW. Once Galaxy’s Edge opens, it’s going to be beyond unbearable to be in the parks. Ticket increases are the only way, in my opinion, the crowds will lower in size.
  4. Pandora- World of Avatar is overhyped. I mean, it is absolutely beautiful to see and experience. I love watching everything illuminate as it gets darker at night. And, Flight of Passage is truly the best WDW ride thus far. However, it’s still overhyped in my opinion. It’s never been something I’ve gone out of my way to see, or planned my vacation around!
  5. I enjoy the All Star resorts. I think it’s more of a nostalgic thing for me, but I really do enjoy all of the All Star resorts! If you’re heading to WDW on a budget and there is availability, these are a great option. Movies is, in my opinion, the best choice out of the three with Music being my least favorite – but each resort has something for everyone.
  6. There is too much of a Star Wars presence in the parks. I understand the licensing issues between WDW and UO, but I would so much rather see a Marvel presence than Star Wars. I get that Disney is trying to target a whole different audience, and I do love Star Wars, but it’s just too much.
  7. Walt Disney World is superior to Disneyland. Before heading to Disneyland, I always craved visiting and experiencing the land that had so much history behind it. I was captivated knowing that Walt worked hand-in-hand with imagineers to create this land where it all began. When I finally had the chance to go in 2016, I was elated. However, I feel like my entire visit was me saying to myself “Wait – this is it?” The intimacy of the parks might be appealing to most, but I absolutely prefer the grand scale of everything at WDW. Sure, a few of their rides are far better than our versions (specifically Small World, Pirates, and Space Mountain) – but those rides don’t make me love our versions and less. Maybe it’s because WDW is my home park and I’ve created so many magical memories here that I’ll cherish forever. I know very few people agree with my opinion, but I’ll absolutely choose WDW over DL any time!

There you have it! A few of my unpopular Disney opinions. Do you have any unpopular Disney opinions? Do you agree or disagree with any of mine? Let me know in the comments below!

Thanks for reading! Be sure to subscribe to our blog so you’re notified when we post next. We’ll see ya real soon 🙂

A BREAK DOWN OF WDW DINING PLANS!

A BREAK DOWN OF WDW DINING PLANS!

When helping friends and families plan their magical vacations, I often get asked several questions about Disney World dining plans. The dining plans can be confusing to first-time guests or those who have never used one in the past. So today, I thought I would break down the disney dining plans based on the questions I’m often asked!

Before I dive into the dining plans themselves, it is important to get a basic understanding of the different types of dining options that you will come across on property. There are four main types:

Grab-and-Go: Grab-and-go locations are usually stands in the park that have a walk up window with readily prepared foods and beverages. Mostly, these offer snacks such as popcorn, Mickey pretzels, cotton candy, churros, ice cream, and more. They are normally just small, walk up stands located outdoors with little-to-no seating.

Quick Service: I refer to these locations as the “fast food” locations in WDW. Quick service locations are usually indoors. They will have a cashier/window waiting area for guests to walk up and order food, and an indoor or covered seating area that is first come, first serve. There are no servers at these locations.

Table Service: Table service locations are traditional “sit down” meals. At these indoor locations, you will check in at the hostess stand in the front and wait to be seated. You will have a server, and will need to leave gratuity. These locations may be buffets, a traditional “order-off-the-menu” style dinner, a family style dinner, or may have a prix fixe menu.

Signature Dining: Signature dining locations are also “sit down” meals, however they are typically higher quality, more expensive, popular character dining spots, or dinner shows.

Now that we have those four types of dining broken down, we can finally dive into the three dining plans WDW currently has available for guests. Keep in mind, these plans are what are currently offered at their current prices in 2019. Below, I will break down the three different plans into pricing per person as well as what is included in each:

  1. Quick Service Dining Plan ($52.20/day for adults, $23.78/day kids 3-9)
    • 2 quick service credits (per person, per night of stay)
    • 2 snack credits (per person, per night of stay)
    • Refillable mug (1 per person)
  2. Disney Dining Plan ($75.49/day for adults, $27.98/day kids 3-9)
    • 1 table service credit (per person, per night of stay)
    • 1 quick service credit (per person, per night of stay)
    • 2 snack credits (per person, per night of stay)
    • Refillable mug (1 per person)
  3. Deluxe Dining Plan ($116.25/day for adults, $43.49/day kids 3-9)
    • 3 meal credits – each credit can be used for any combination of table service or quick service meals (per person, per night of stay)
    • 2 snack credits (per person, per night of stay)
    • Refillable mug (1 per person)

Which plan is best for you?

When considering which plan is best for you and your family, there are several factors that come in to play. Here are some things for you to keep in mind before you make a decision regarding a dining plan:

  • You can only book a dining plan if you are staying at a Disney-owned resort. If you are only going for the day, or are staying at a hotel not owned by Disney World, you will not be able to add a dining plan.
  • Refillable mugs are only refillable at your resort. You can fill and refill this mug as often as you’d like, but only at the resort you are staying in. If you bring it into the parks, you’ll have to purchase a beverage to put inside, or fill it with water from a water fountain!
  • Each person in your party must be on the dining plan, and you must have a dining plan for each night of your stay. You cannot assign a dining plan to only a few in your party if you are all booked under the same reservation. Likewise, you cannot choose to limit your dining plan to certain days of your stay.
  • Although the credits are assigned “per night”, you don’t have a limit or a requirement on when you have to use your credits. Much like a college dining plan, you can use your credits at your leisure. Usually, we save up all of our snack credits until the end of our stay, then purchase candy and other edible souvenirs for our friends and family!
  • Signature dining requires 2 table service credits per meal, per person. No matter what plan you are on, whether it’s the Disney Dining Plan or the Deluxe Dining Plan, you will need to cash in two table service credits to eat at signature restaurants. This factor is a major one in and of itself, which will make or break the difference between the Disney or Deluxe plans for your family!
  • Snack” credits can be redeemed for a pretty wide margin of options. There are really so many options for snacks – from ice cream, to Starbucks drinks, to certain food items offered at EPCOT festivals – there is so much to choose from. You will be able to tell if an item can be considered as a snack credit if it has the DDP purple icon next to it – or, just ask a cast member!
  • Children under 3 eat free. You will not need to purchase a dining plan (or ticket) for any children in your party under 3. They will be able to eat off of your plates!
  • All meals on the Quick Service Dining Plan and Disney Dining Plan include a meal and a dessert per person.
  • All meals on the Deluxe Dining Plan include an appetizer, meal, and dessert per person. This one can be a lot of food, so take that into consideration when deciding which is best for your family. You’re paying for it regardless, and it will be a waste for your family to have this level of the dining plan if you won’t eat it all – you will not get your money’s worth.
  • All meals on any dining plan include one drink – either alcoholic or non-alcoholic. Drinks may include beer and wine, soft drinks, and even milk shakes! There may be limitations, and you would only get refills on the soft drinks, but the option is definitely a nice addition.
  • Gratuity is NOT included. Some people think that if they get a dining plan, they won’t have to touch their wallets at all – which isn’t necessarily the case. You will need to pay gratuity to servers at table service meals, and may need to pay more if you order an extra beverage or two.
  • You can track your credits on the My Disney Experience app, or on your receipts. Your credits will show up as a sum of everyone’s in your party, so be mindful of how many credits each of you has left as a whole.

Are the dining plans worth it?

I often get asked if the dining plans are worth it, and there isn’t a baseline answer – It really depends on your family and your preference. Here are a few things that I tell friends and family when posed with that question..

  1. It is really easy to waste money on dining plans. If your family isn’t going to use every credit or consume all that is offered in the meals, then you’re basically throwing money away. It may not seem like it on paper, but you really do get a ton of food.
  2. Be sure to weigh the factors of how much time you want to spend eating vs. how much time you want to be in the parks. If it’s your first, or once-in-a-lifetime visit to WDW, I would stick with either the Quick Service or Disney Dining plans. Eating at a table service restaurant may take up to two hours out of your day, which is a long time when you want to experience everything there is to do in the parks.
  3. It is convenient. One of the main reasons my fiance and I love the dining plan so much is it’s convenience. Although we still factor gratuities into our budget, it is nice to not have to worry about how much to put aside for meals.

Dining plan tips.

  1. Do not waste snack credits on bottles of water. It’s easy and convenient, and I’ll admit I have fallen victim to doing this, but it really isn’t worth it. Instead, ask for a cup of ice water – which is free – and fill up your refillable mugs.
  2. Plan your days ahead. Have a game plan of what parks you are going to be in per day and MAKE ADVANCED DINING RESERVATIONS! Also, have a game plan in mind on how you will take advantage of the quick service and snack credits – will you get snacks for breakfast, and use a quick service credit for lunch? Will you buy breakfast, use a credit for lunch, and save your snack credits for an EPCOT festival? You don’t need to have it planned down to where you’ll eat and when, but keep a general plan in the back of your mind.
  3. Order the more expensive things on the menu. Get your money’s worth!

Personal thoughts…

Personally, my fiance and I love the dining plans. When we would come for vacations, we added on a dining plan every time. We would usually do the Disney Dining plan, but we’ve tried the Deluxe and found it to be worth it. Once we did the dining plan once, we never went back to not adding it on. The convenience factor was what really got us, and we never wasted food.

We would frequent the parks so much (3 times a year) that we didn’t mind spending half of our day sitting down and eating because we’d done everything in the parks. That may be different for other people, and it’s really all based on your individual priorities.

I hope that this breakdown helped you better understand the different dining plans offered at WDW! I get asked more questions about these plans, and just dining in general, than I do about anything else when helping others plan their vacations. It may seem very confusing now, but [in my opinion] in the end a dining package makes your vacation a bit more magical.

Another question I get asked very often are which restaurants specifically are one credit vs. two. Let me know in the comments below if you’d like to see a blog where I list all of the restaurants, sorted by quick service locations and locations that are one table service credit vs two table service credits!

Thanks for reading! Be sure to subscribe to our blog so you’re notified of any new posts. Have a great week, we’ll see ya real soon 🙂

IS WDW STRUGGLING TO FILL ROOMS THIS SUMMER?!

IS WDW STRUGGLING TO FILL ROOMS THIS SUMMER?!

Within the past two weeks (keep in mind – its January), Disney has surprised fans and travel planners by releasing discounts, free dining, and Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween party tickets. Yes – Halloween tickets. Released. In January. The release of these things may not come as a shock to you, but the timing of these releases says a lot. Is Disney struggling to fill guest rooms this summer?

Let’s backtrack for a second and talk about some background information…

Free dining. Disney releases free dining deals every year. Usually, these free dining deals are released around mid-April, when Disney sees where it’s “weak spots” are in reservations. In the past, guests would receive a free Quick-Service Dining Plan or Disney Dining Plan to guests staying in certain resorts. They were also set, in the past, for times during Disney’s slower periods – usually the beginning of the school year, the time between Halloween and Thanksgiving, and early December. To get the free dining package, guests would be required to book a room at rack rate with a ticket package.

Room-only discounts. Also during slower times, Disney would release room-only discounts for Florida residents, Annual Passholders, and other guests planning to visit the resorts. Guests would be able to add on tickets and dining to these discounts, but at full price. These discounts would be for select resorts as well, and would range in percentages based on the resort.

Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party. Even though the Halloween party starts ridiculously early (mid-August), Disney would hold off on releasing the dates and tickets for this event until at least March or April. The dates of the party would range from August to October, and vary in price depending on the date as well as the day of the week the party fell on.

Now that we covered some background information, let’s take a closer look at 2019. Last week, I released a blog post about 19 Things Coming to WDW in 2019. The biggest item on that list, and what most people are looking forward to, is the opening of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge. For those of you living under a rock, this is a Star Wars themed land set to open in Hollywood Studios in “late Fall 2019”.Aside from this much anticipated land opening, Fall 2019 and later in the year will bring many other attractions and openings, which you can read all about here: 19 THINGS COMING TO WDW IN 2019!

Now, you might be asking “How is any of this connected?” or “Why are all of these early releases a big deal?” and I have one theory – Disney is hurting for guests during [what is usually] their busiest time of year.

Now, here are the issues with these early releases.

Free dining 2019. The free dining deal that was released much earlier than it has been in recent years is for stays during summer 2019. As mentioned above, Disney releases free dining deals during their slower periods to try and reign in more guests.

Room-only discounts. Now don’t get me wrong, Disney has released room-only discounts in the summer in previous years. However, the discounts available for resorts during summer 2019 are reaching extremely low prices. So low, in fact, that for a stay at the Grand Floridian mid-June, I found a price for $410/night – that’s over $200 less than rack rate for Disney’s flagship resort.

Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party tickets. I mean, Halloween party tickets released in January.

So, finally, this brings me to my point. Disney has to be hurting to fill rooms in the summer. The summer used to be one of the worst times to visit the parks due to the extreme heat and the overwhelming crowds. However, it was the best time for families to visit due to summer vacations, so people would go regardless. They would never release crazy room discounts or free dining plans, simply because they didn’t need to. People would come regardless of the deals that were available to them.

In my opinion, it is pretty evident that the future opening of Galaxy’s Edge has a large part in these low crowds. This land has been highly anticipate for years, which makes it no surprise that people seem to be holding out their vacations for “late fall”, which is when the land is expected to open. Pair that opening with the fact that fall is a wonderful time to visit the parks due to the weather, the Food and Wine festival in EPCOT running, and the various holidays and parties that come with them – why not hold out until the fall?

Another factor to these discounts being released, and what I theorize as the possible low bookings in WDW, is Galaxy’s Edge in Disneyland. Disneyland and WDW are opening identical lands, but Disneyland’s opens in summer 2019. It could be possible that people are heading out west for their summer vacations to experience this land instead of waiting until the fall. Regardless, it still means less bookings here in Florida.

What do you think – Is WDW hurting for bookings in the summer? Free dining deals, extreme room-only discounts, and Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party are huge draws for many regulars to the parks, so it doesn’t come as a surprise to me that Disney is pulling out the “big guns” to try and fill rooms. I’ll be interested to see the crowd levels this summer compared to recent years as well as this fall!

Thanks for reading! Be sure to subscribe to our blog to get notified of any future posts. See ya real soon 😉

19 THINGS COMING TO WDW IN 2019!

19 THINGS COMING TO WDW IN 2019!

Although I still can’t believe 2019 is here, we are already a few weeks in. 2019 has been such an anticipated year for the Disney parks, with no exception to WDW itself. Besides the much anticipated opening of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, there are a ton of new happenings set for WDW.

Below are 19 new things coming to WDW in 2019 including attractions, lands, restaurants, resorts, and more. As you can expect, with all of these new openings will come heavy, heavy crowds – especially in fall and there after. So, if you’re heading to WDW in 2019, here are some things you can expect!

Magic Kingdom

1. Mickey and Minnie’s Surprise Celebration: Last November, Mickey celebrated his 90th birthday. A celebration of this milestone is heading to WDW running January 18 through September 30th. As part of the celebration, guests can expect a new dance party as well as fun and unique food and merchandise offerings.

Hollywood Studios

2. Hollywood Studios 30th Anniversary Celebration: Hollywood Studios is celebrating its 30th anniversary, and with it is bringing some much anticipated attractions and events! The celebration will begin May 30th, with several openings to follow.

3. Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge: Probably the most anticipated land to open since its announcement at D23 in 2017, Galaxy’s Edge is almost here. Although we don’t have an exact opening date yet, Disney has announced guests can expect to explore the immersive new land in “late fall”. Below are the new attractions and eateries that will be opening with the park. (There is a very immersive hotel opening attached to the land, but it is not anticipated to open until 2020-2021.)

4. Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance: On this attraction, guests will be in the middle of a battle between the First Order and the Resistance. It seems as though there will be a larger-than-life animatronic of Kylo Ren that the ride vehicle will face during the ride. This is the most anticipated attraction in the land!

5. Millenium Falcon: Smugglers Run: In an attraction that seems to be a mixture of Mission: Space and Star Tours, guests will be put into the cockpit of the Millenium Falcon and work together as a team to navigate the ship.

6. Oga’s Cantina: If you’ve seen the movies in the Star Wars franchise, then Oga’s Cantina  may sound familiar with you. Guests will be able to enter the cantina for eats and beverages (alcoholic and non-alcoholic) while being served by characters in the galaxy. This dining experience is sure to be very immersive and a great addition to the park.

7. Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway: The first ever Mickey and Minnie themed attraction is finally making its way into the Disney parks, taking place of the beloved Great Movie Ride in the Chinese Theater. Guests will hop on Goofy’s locomotive to head to the premier of a new Mickey short-movie in this “2-and-a-half-D” attraction. It is anticipated to open fall 2019.

8. Pixar Place Reimagined to Municiberg: Starting January 18, Pixar Place (which used to be the home to all things Toy Story before the opening of the new land) will be transformed into Municiberg and taken over by the Incredibles! Guests will be offered new meet-and-greet opportunities with Frozone, Mr. Incredible, and even Edna Mode! There will also be a Jack Jack themed scavenger hunt in the alley.

9. Lightning McQueen’s Racing  Academy: Set to open “early 2019”, Lightning McQueen will be putting on a show for guests near Rockin’ Roller Coaster. Along with friends Tow Mater and Cruz Ramirez, McQueen is set to show his fans all about what he’s learned as a racer.

10. Wonderful World of Animation: Lastly, in celebration of 90 years of Mickey, guests can expect a new nighttime spectacular projected on the Chinese theater. The show is set to open May 2019, and will likely replace the current nighttime show Movie Magic. The show will feature lazers and state-of-the-art projections to celebrate 90 years of Disney animation.

EPCOT

11. EPCOT Forever: This new (and temporary) nighttime spectacular is set to begin when Illuminations: Reflections of Earth ends in fall 2019. The show will include lazers, kites, fireworks, and special music and lighting effects. As mentioned, the show will be temporary, and will end when the new permanent nighttime spectacular beings in 2020, A Celebration of Disney Music.

12. Beauty and the Beast Sing Along: In the France pavilion, guests will find a new IP attraction themed to the beloved Beauty and the Beast. The show is being designed with help from Don Hahn, who produced both the animated and live action versions of Beauty and the Beast. As of now, there is no opening date announced.

13. Signature Dining Experience in Japan: Although there is no name to this restaurant or opening date announced, construction is well underway and it is assumed further details will be announced any time now. The new restaurant will be signature dining, which means it will require two credits on the Disney Dining plan.

Disney Springs

14. City Works Eatery and Pour House: Set to open 2019 comes another restaurant and bar in Disney Springs. The Pour House will feature craft beer and American eats, and will offer many screens to watch sporting events including a 165″ television.

15. Jaleo by Jose Andres: This two-story, Spanish style restaurant is set to open winter 2019. Uniquely inspired by an artichoke (yes, an artichoke), the building is set to have no solid walls, and will be completely open to the outside. This table-service restaurant will be considered signature dining, which means it will be a bit pricey and two credits on a DDP.

16. NBA Experience: This is what my fiance is most excited about coming in summer 2019, and a place I know we will spend many, many evenings at in the future. This immersive experience will invite guests into a replica of an NBA arena. Along with dining options, guests can explore a media room and a locker room, partake in a Combine, and a dunk-contest as well as other games and challenges. Construction has been under way for over a year now and this place looks huge, so I am sure it will not disappoint any basketball fans that pay it a visit.

Disney Resorts

17. Disney Skyliner: The new gondola-style mode of transportation is set to open in fall 2019. The new transportation system will connect parks EPCOT and Hollywood Studios to Pop Century, Art of Animation, and Carribean Beach resorts as well as the new Riviera Resort. Although highly anticipated, there are several questions surrounding this system that we won’t have answers to when it opens including – are they air conditioned? What will happen/how will they run (or not run) during rain and thunder/lightning storms? I guess we will wait and see how this pans out when it finally opens!

18. Disney’s Riviera Resort: A new DVC resort is set to open in Fall 2019 – just in time for Galaxy’s Edge! The resort is themed based on Walt’s visits to the European Mediterranean coastline, which sounds beautiful. The resort will hold about 300 units of various types including DVC as well as standard rooms and everything in between.

19. Coronado Springs: Grand Destino Tower and Hotel Expansion: Disney is adding so much to this convention resort that I had to include it in the “new” happenings in 2019. The biggest addition is the 15-story Grand Destino Tower set in the middle of the resort including 545 new guest rooms. The tower is set to open July 2019, and is already taking reservations. Along with the new tower came a rehab of the guest rooms in the rest of the resorts, along with a new table service restaurant.

And, there you have it! 19 new things coming to WDW in 2019. Believe it or not, there is even more coming including the reopening of Rafiki’s Planet Watch, a new dance party in MK, a Lion King celebration in honor of it’s 25th anniversary, and more. It will be a crazy and exciting year for the parks, but also a busy one. Be sure to plan your trips smart, and expect it to be a little crazy – especially toward the end of the year!

Thanks for reading! As always, be sure to subscribe to our blog to be notified of any new posts. Hope you enjoyed today’s post, see ya real soon 😉

 

REVISITING WHERE WE GOT ENGAGED!

REVISITING WHERE WE GOT ENGAGED!

If you followed my blog months back, you might have read one of my first posts which was the story of Dee and I getting engaged in Disney Springs (if you haven’t read it yet, here’s the link: OUR DISNEY WORLD ENGAGEMENT STORY). That night we would have never imagined that two years from then, we’d be living minutes away from The Most Magical Place on Earth and yet here we are!

So, of course, we decided we just had to go back and reminisce on our most memorable moment together yet. For months we planned to head to Disney Springs January 3, 2019 and relive everything we felt that same day in 2017 – and the experience didn’t fall short.

All day, we were elated because not only was it the anniversary of our engagement, but we had just (FINALLY) rung in our wedding year. All we could talk about was how we couldn’t believe two years had flown by so quickly and how now we are living our dream.

So, we headed to Disney Springs and the first thing we noticed was how much more crowded it was compared to two years ago! Both parking garages were full, but after driving around the Lime Garage for a bit we finally found a spot. Walking into DS itself, it was jam packed. But, unlike Christmas Eve, that didn’t stop us from having a magical time or even hinder our experience.

Since we parked in the Lime Garage, our first stop was the 45 foot tall Christmas tree in the middle of the shopping center – which is the tree my soon-to-be husband proposed in front of. It truly felt like stepping into a time warp because the tree was exactly how I remembered it. The same golden shimmery garland glistened around the tree with illuminating baubles that were larger than our heads scattered throughout. Just seeing the beauty of the tree itself brought a flood of emotions with it reminding me of that magical moment two years ago. Of course, we stopped and snapped a few pictures and stared at the trees beauty a little more before heading on.

Next stop was to grab a bite to eat at Chicken Guy. Now, obviously this new quick-service restaurant just opened this past summer 2018, but Dee had yet to try it out! If you  read my rave review on the restaurant (CHICKEN GUY: A REVIEW), then you’d know that it is amazing and I couldn’t pass up an opportunity to eat there let alone introduce it to my fiance! It did not disappoint.

Last, we embarked on  the journey all the way across DS to the Christmas Tree Trail. This seasonal attraction holds 27 themed trees that you can admire while walking in a winter wonderland – with snow and all! Our first experience walking along the CTT was the night we got engaged, before he popped the question, so it was another nostalgic and magical moment.

There were a few differences this year compared to two years ago, but in good ways! First, there was more snow falling which only added to the magical feeling. Also, there were a few different trees including a Haunted Mansion themed tree which is officially my favorite. The last difference I noticed was instead of a curved trail that just basically went along one path, this year there were different sections/areas. I’m assuming this change was to help with crowds – which there were a ton of – and it did, but it wasn’t as smooth of a walk. Either way, it was still such a wonderful experience!

After the Christmas Tree Trail, there was a little photo spot with Goofy, Pluto, and Donald statues that was exactly the same two years ago, so of course we had to snap a picture there as well!

After the trail, we decided to head back home and relax for the rest of the night. It was so beyond nice to revisit where we got engaged and relive that night. However, since then we have done nothing but look ahead into the future. We also decided that day that, due to many reasons, we are going to have a small and intimate wedding ceremony and celebrating in Walt Disney World instead of our big wedding that we had been planning. Later in the summer, we are going to head back home to Ohio for a week and have a party with all of our friends and family to celebrate our marriage. We have been non stop talking to family, planning for this new decision, and looking forward to the best day of our lives. We are truly living in a fairy tale. Only 138 days to go!

Thanks so much for reading! Be sure to subscribe to our blog to be notified of any new posts. Also, check out the then and now pictures below! See ya real soon 😉