Disney World

Best and Worst Disney World Value Resorts

“How do I save money on my vacation?” is unsurprisingly one of the most frequently asked questions when planning a Disney trip. Park tickets expensive, quick service meals cost too…

“How do I save money on my vacation?” is unsurprisingly one of the most frequently asked questions when planning a Disney trip. Park tickets expensive, quick service meals cost too much, and you’re probably gonna want a pair of Mickey Ears to feel like you’re doing it right. One small way to save money is to eat outside of the parks and pack your lunches. But honestly, due to lines, parades, and FastPass reservations, you usually don’t have enough time to pop in and out for a cheap meal.

So, if you’re budget-minded, what’s the easiest way to spend less money? Choose a value level resort. Choosing a resort in this category (the lowest price with fewer amenities) can decrease the cost immensely and take a little stress off the idea of going on vacation. There have been plenty of blogs that outline money saving tips and tricks. This is one of the easiest ways to do so. Which brings me to another frequently asked question: “Where should I stay?” Here’s a ranking of all the Disney World Value Resorts to help you decide.

Something To Remember: Value resorts are more often booked by large families with kids in an effort to save money and for a kid-friendly atmosphere. Just making this clear so you don’t expect a tranquil getaway. It is, after all, a Disney vacation.

But first, if you’re not sure what I mean when I say “on and off property…”

On Property vs. Off Property: Each on property resort (owned by Disney) features multiple pools, shuttles to the parks, free transportation to/from the airport, 1 quick service restaurant, use of the Magic Band system and the Disney touch. The off property resorts (not officially owned by Disney) are a little cheaper, have a few more food options, free shuttles to the parks, and offer a break from the magic if you’d rather not fully immerse yourself in the Disney experience.


World Showcase in Epcot at Sunset

World Showcase at Sunset

Ranked Value Resorts

Best Western Lake Buena Vista (Off Property “Good Neighbor” Hotel): Most of us have an idea of what a Best Western is like. You can trust that this hotel will be clean and have decent service. The rooms and overall “décor” of the hotel are outdated and remind of the 90’s and not in a nostalgic way. But, it’s still a decent place to stay because it’s a step above some other Best Western’s. This one has an onsite restaurant and lounge along with a quick service pot and a Pizza Hut Express. The pool is decent and provides free shuttles to the parks. I don’t think it’s a bad choice, just not the greatest.

Wyndham Garden Lake (Off Property “Good Neighbor” Hotel): The only reason I’m putting this one after the All-Stars is purely nostalgic reasons. I love staying on property because it reminds me of my childhood family trips. But, I’ve sent quite a few of my clients to this hotel because I think it’s quite nice for the cost and people love it. The official Disney Value Resorts don’t have a poolside bar and grill, but this one sure does! The rooms seem to be updated recently, they have a 24-hour café, and a Lakeview Restaurant that features character dining on Tuesday, Thursdays, and Saturdays. What more could you possibly want?

Disney's All Star Music Resort

Good news! They are renovating the All-Star Resort rooms as well! The insides are looking much better than what they used to be and the design is very similar to Pop Century’s upgrade. Note: The All-Star Resorts sometimes share buses during the day, but have their own bus in the morning and evening.

All-Star Sports (On Property): I rank this one last out of the All-Stars because it’s the least “Disney” of all the Disney Resorts. There are a few character statues throughout, but it doesn’t quite capture the magic. But, I do know plenty of people who like the sports atmosphere and stay here every visit. They have a large open “football field” to play on and I’m a big fan of the Mighty Ducks pool. Other than that, staying at Sports really isn’t my cup of Gatorade, so I’m putting it last. The biggest perk to this resort is that it’s the first stop on the bus line during the day.

All-Star Music (On Property): This resort is rumored to be slightly quieter than the other two, but I honestly can’t tell the difference. I prefer rooms in the Calypso building because you’re near my favorite pool featuring The Three Caballeros fountain. The Calypso rooms do cost a bit more because they’re also near the food court and bus stop, FYI.

All Star Movies (On Property): Movies is my go-to cheap Disney stay. I love the larger than life Toy Story statues and I always stay in the Herbie the Love Bug building. Mostly because it’s towards the back of the property and a little calmer, but also because Herbie himself sits back there.  P.S. If you haven’t heard, you can ask for the “secret menu” at their quick service spot. The Cast Member will pull out a briefcase equipped with a couple of old View-Masters inside. The pictures you’ll see inside the View-Master are of the secret menu items available. A fun thing to do with kids!

Pop Century (On Property): What’s the best inexpensive Disney Value Resort? 9 times out of 10 a Disney veteran will answer with “Pop Century.” It’s a newer value resort and most of the rooms have been recently renovated. You also have the added plus of having your own bus line rather than sharing a line at the All-Star Resorts. My favorite feature is that the “Generation Gap Bridge,” which had the original intent of connecting the current themed buildings (decades ranging from the 50’s to the 90’s), to future generation buildings (2000’s and beyond) on the other side. Instead, they decided to build Art of Animation in that place and kept the bridge up. Meaning, you can pop over to Art of Animation if you’re staying at Pop Century any time you want.

You’re Probably Wondering Why I Didn’t Mention Art of Animation

Although Art of Animation is considered a value resort the prices do not reflect the same idea. The Little Mermaid Room, which is a standard non-suite, usually starts at about 150/night. Compare this to an All-Star that can sometimes go down to about $80/night. The family suite can be worth it if you have a larger family though. The suites accommodate 6 people so that means you won’t have to purchase two rooms. If you love the atmosphere of this resort, but can’t afford a room, then stop by for a visit!

Epcot at Disney World

Just because they’re easier on your wallet, doesn’t mean value resorts aren’t enjoyable places to stay. The amenities are generally good, onsite restaurants available, pools are nice, and the service is great. Besides, you’ll most likely be spending most of your vacation in the parks and only use your hotel to collapse after a long day.

If you’re looking for more ways to save money on vacation, feel free to contact me. As a Disney Travel Planner, I can help navigate current Disney World discounts and promos throughout the season.

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Even More Updates for Disney Parks in 2018 (and Beyond!)

Disney has been churning out more exciting news for the park lately! Some are brand new announcements made at the D23 Expo in Japan and some are updates to the…

More Updates Coming to Disney Parks in 2018 and Beyond! Disneyland, Disney World, Hong Kong Disneyland, Disneyland Paris

Disney has been churning out more exciting news for the park lately! Some are brand new announcements made at the D23 Expo in Japan and some are updates to the previous announcements. I’ve compiled some highlights for the last two weeks here! Also, take a look at my overview of everything new coming to Disneyland in 2018 for a refresher of everything planned and newly opened for that particular park.

Ticket Price Increases: By far the most controversial topic of the week. Disney has once again, increased prices of their tickets. Some passes increased by $2 while others increased by $5 and so on. The prices increased on February 11 and you can read a full break down of current ticket prices at Touring Plans.

Disney World

Hollywood Studios

Just confirmed! Toy Story Land will open on June 30th, 2018! Disney Parks Blog just dropped a video of the Slinky Dog in action. Check it out here.

Star Wars Resort Hotel Updates: The new Star Wars Hotel (opening in the next few years) is turning out to be a giant LARP experience for Star Wars fanatics. No complaints here! The updates announced recently have confirmed that the fully immersive resort will feature windows that display atmospheric space and Star Wars elements. When you check into your hotel, your travel group will begin a journey together, meeting characters and unfolding Star Wars plotlines during your stay.The storyline will be connected to the concepts in Galaxy’s Edge in Hollywood Studios as well. Guests will be allowed/encouraged to wear Star Wars inspired clothing to fully engage with the experience. Take a look at the short animated video released by Disney.

New Look at Alien Swirling Saucers: Hollywood Studios continues to be under heavy construction as they prepare for Galaxy’s Edge (Star Wars Land) and Toy Story Land. Toy Story Land is making progress as The Slinky Dog coaster seems to be almost complete and is set to open this summer. This week, Disney released some new concept art for the Swirling Saucers ride that will also be in Toy Story Land. This ride is speculated to be similar to Tow Mater’s Junkyard Jamboree, where your car is being towed by another and you’re gently whipped back and forth in a figure eight. This will most likely be a very toddler/child-friendly ride. OooOOOoooh.

Alien Swirling Saucers Toy Story Land Disney World

Name Change: Despite the vast rumors, Disney made the announcement that they will not be changing Hollywood Studio’s name after all. I have a sneaky feeling it’s because of the public’s reaction to the names that were rumored to replace the current name like “Cinemagine” or “Disney XL Parks”…yikes. They dodged a bullet with that one.

Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway Opening Date: The attraction replacing The Great Move Ride (R.I.P.) now has an official opening year: 2019. If you haven’t heard the details regarding this new ride, the railway will feature Mickey, Minnie, and Goofy. The ride will allow you “step into the adventure” with their new 2 1/2 D (as opposed to 3D) technology. Although we’re sad to see the Movie Ride go, I know Disney is capable is capable of some really advanced technology and can’t wait to see this thing in action.

Disney Park Updates

Runaway Railway Concept Art | Walt Disney Studios


Guardians of the Galaxy Roller Coaster: The Guardians of the Galaxy attraction replacing Ellen’s Energy Adventure (R.I.P.) in Epcot has been confirmed to be a roller coaster. It was also announced that it will be one of the longest enclosed roller coaster! The ride will feature a unique storyline to the Guardian’s of the Galaxy saga and also use newly innovative ride technology. Guardians of the Galaxy Epcot Ellens Energy Adventure Disney World

Mobile Ordering Available for Dining Credits at Disney World: Why wait in another line at Disney World? If you use the mobile ordering feature on the My Disney Experience app, you can pre-order your food and walk over to the quick service spot to pick it up! Now, you can use your quick service and snack credits to pay via the mobile app. We can all appreciate the fact that Disney is at least attempting to cut down on waiting time in the parks. Take a look at all the restaurants allowing mobile ordering on Touring Plans here.


Pixar Pier Official Opening Date: We’ve been getting a lot of questions regarding the new Pixar Pier overlay in California Adventure. Bob Chapek announced that Pixar Pier will be open on June 23rd, 2018, just in time for summer vacation! This means the Incredicoaster, updates to the pier, and Paint the Night featuring a new Incredible float will be running at that time. You can see all the updates coming to California Adventure in my previous post here.Pixar Pier California Adventure Disneyland Paradise Pier

Rey Meet n’ Greet: Ask and you shall receive! Rey will be making regular meet n’ greet appearances at Disneyland. Many were begging for it and since she was making appearances in the Jedi Training Academy in Disney World, it was only natural she would soon get her own experience. I can’t wait to get a picture with her!

New Disneyland Hotel Update: Taking over much of Downtown Disney, the new ridiculously enormous Disneyland resort hotel is set to open sometime in 2021. This week, a new piece of concept art was released depicting a monorail station at the front entrance of this future 4 diamond luxury resort. Guests of the resort will have their own monorail station that will whisk them away to inside the park. I’m mostly excited that there will be a new garden walkway, connecting the other three resorts and creating a new park entrance. They have notified neighboring tenants that construction will begin soon for the hotel and parking lot.

New Flagship Disneyland Hotel Concept Art

New Resort Concept Art

ew Flagship Disneyland Hotel Concept Art

Disney Home Now Open!: The new home goods store in Downtown Disney has officially opened. This store features all your Disney-at-home needs like mugs, teacups, and placemats. The store will also have seasonal items to spruce up your abode.

Ant-Man in Hong Kong Disneyland: A new Ant-Man ride will be replacing Buzz Lightyear’s Astro Blasters in Hong Kong Disneyland. No surprise here as the current Iron Man Experience in Hong Kong is wildly popular. Much like the Astro Blasters, this ride will also be an interactive shooting game where you’ll fight along with Ant-Mand the Wasp. It will be exciting to learn whether we will get similar attractions in the states.

Ant Man Overlay Hong Kong Disneyland Concept Art

Iron Man Overlay Replacing Rock n’ Roller Coaster in Disneyland Paris: When Disney does updates like these, you can kinda tell they’re testing the waters for bringing the updates overseas to the American parks. Of course, that’s all speculation. There was a lot of uproar over the Guardians of the Galaxy overlay on the Tower of Terror in Disneyland, so I’d be surprised if they did the same to the coaster in Hollywood Studios.

Iron Man Rock n' Roller Coaster Disneyland Paris

Do these updates get you pumped for a Disney vacation? Be sure to order your free planning DVD from Disney by clicking here. Or, shoot me a message here and I can help plan your vacation, free of charge. Have a magical day, friends!

P.S. Did you see the new Incredibles II movie trailer previewed during the Olympics? Exciting stuff!

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A Complete Guide to Disney Guidebooks (And Other Useful Planning Resources!)

If you ask a question like, “what’s the best hotel on Disney property?”, you’ll most likely get about 15 answers.  There are so many conflicting opinions on dining, hotels, and…

A guide to Disney World and Disneyland guides (And other useful planning resources!)

If you ask a question like, “what’s the best hotel on Disney property?”, you’ll most likely get about 15 answers.  There are so many conflicting opinions on dining, hotels, and attractions that it can become overwhelming. In the event that you feel so overwhelmed by booking a Disney vacation, I advise using a Travel Agent (like me) to help you customize your plans.

Now, in the second event that you’re in need of advice, but are more of a vacation DIYer, you’ll look to guides for help. Whether they are physical guidebooks, blogs, or websites, you’ll need to do some research before your vacation! So, here’s a list of awesome Disney park resources that helped me plan in the past and will hopefully help you too! You can click on my links below to find the books on Amazon.

P.S. I’ve only listed links for Disney World books, but most of these publishers write books for Disneyland and Disney Cruise Line as well. Kindle versions are also available for most.

The Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World

This guidebook is referred to as the “Disney Bible” and is written by the same people who own and operate the reputable touringplans.com. Every year they come out with an updated version of their unofficial guides and every year they get better and more detailed. I started buying these books in 2012 and have purchased it every new version since. The size of the book can be intimidating, but I treat it as an encyclopedia rather than something I need to study cover-to-cover. The book covers far too much for me to explain, so I’ll give you the highlights:

  • 5-Star Ratings: Every attraction, show, restaurant, and resort is graded by their 5-star system, and I agree with their ratings most often. Restaurants are divided by Quick-Service and Table Service, then described in detail ranked by quality. Resorts, both on and off property are treated the same and contact information is provided for all of them.
  • Packing tips and “bare necessities” are described in full detail. From credit cards to souvenir shopping, to finding gas stations, it’s all there.
  • Advice for a spectrum of travel groups like Disney for seniors, Disney for toddlers, and how to entertain your teenager.

Bonus: If you’re a true Disnerd, also read Unofficial Guide’s: The Disneyland Story. The story of Walt’s first conception of the park and how it evolved to the current form. I prefer listening to it on audible, but I also have the physical book for novelty reasons. 

The Easy Guide to Your Walt Disney World Visit in 2018

In second place is The Easy Guide to WDW. This is another comprehensive guide that is useful for first-timers and veterans alike. Dave and Josh have experienced Disney inside and out, so they have the ability to provide honest opinions about resorts, dining, and everything else. The coolest thing about this book is that if you buy the 2018 edition they will provide an updated copy once their 2019 edition is released in summer. All you have to do is shoot them an email to the address printed on the inside cover. Cool stuff!

Birnbaum’s 2018 Walt Disney World: The Official Guide

This is the only guidebook with Disney’s official stamp of approval. It’s also the most compact guide of the three I’ve mentioned.  This may sound juvenile, but I love it because of the high-quality, colored pictures. It’s a fun guide to look through if you have kids, or if you’re a kid at heart. And a great book to get you excited about your vacation! They also have a Birnbaum’s 2018 Walt Disney World For Kids if you’re looking for trip tips geared towards families.

Frommer’s EasyGuide to Disney World 

Frommer’s is a trusted destination publisher that covers more than just Disney books. Their overviews are not quite as detailed as the Unofficial Guide and not quite as colorful as Birnbaum’s, but still very as useful. At this point, I would say buy it if you are partial to the Frommer’s brand.

102 Ways to Save Money For and At Walt Disney World

Lou Mongello is among the elite Disney experts out there. He offers Disney guidebooks, podcasts, and videos dealing with tips and history to enhance your vacation. Always well-researched and entertaining, his tips for budgeting for your vacation will help you immensely. It’s mostly targeted at first-time visitors, but I found a few tips to be helpful as well. The Walt Disney World Trivia Book and 102 Things To Do at Walt Disney World At Least Once are also a joy to read.

Walt Disney World Dining Guide 2018

Making a dining reservation at Disney World has become one of the most difficult things to do when planning your vacation. Offsite guests are allowed to make a reservation 180 days before your vacation and onsite guests are allowed to make them 190 days beforehand. This has made booking reservations at popular restaurants an absolute monstrous task. Also, the restaurants on property are constantly being updated, replaced, or closed down completely. This can be both exciting and aggravating. The Dining Guide can be a really helpful resource when deciding where you’d like to eat and how to get those reservations. It’s also updated every year to keep with Disney’s ever-changing atmosphere.

Disney Food Blog Guides (eBook)

Are you a Disney foodie? Pretty much any restaurant and food item on property is reviewed on Disney Food Blog. The eBook is beautifully done with photographs, four planning worksheets, updates on closures and refurbs and fun tips like the “trendiest bar” or “best hot dogs.” The other advantage of an eBook is that they have the ability to embed hyperlinks into the text. Not sure what a Mickey’s Premium Bar is? Click on the links inside the ebook and it will send open to a description. Pretty nifty. And if you’re already an expert, it’s fun to peruse for the sake of Disney daydreaming. Disney Food Blog | Guide to Disney Guides | Green Monorail

Disney Dining Plan 2018: Tips & Tricks for Making the Most of the Dining Plans at Walt Disney World
If you just want an overview of the nefarious Dining Plan, Leah Crocker Althiser’s book covers the plans concisely and is free on Kindle Unlimited. There are a lot of blogs written about this subject, but I’ve found Althiser’s eBook to be well-organized. She clearly lays out the basics the Disney Dining Plan to help you determine the pros and cons of the dining plan.


Passporter’s Guide Walt Disney World 

Maybe the Unofficial Guide is a bit overwhelming in size for you. Passporter’s has more general tips and guidance for the planning process, so if you’re looking for a categorical overview, it would be a good choice. Also, the structure of their planning binder actually makes planning fun. With pockets placed inside, you can keep all of your printables and resources in one place. It also has pages dedicated to a Trip Diary. Make it a goal to complete a diary entry every day so you can remember the good times…and the things to avoid on your next trip.


I know this feels like a no-brainer, but the official website is indispensable. Especially when you’re trying to budget your vacation or find official Disney answers. Besides the My Disney Experience feature, here are my favorite tools from the official website:

      • Printable Guide Maps: You don’t have to be at the resort to get a handy park map. I find these helpful when making itineraries for myself. Marking and highlighting your favorite Disney attractions is almost meditative. You can find the PDFs by clicking on Parks & Tickets>Magic Kingdom (or any park)>Magic Kingdom Guide Map. Here’s a Magic Kingdom map link.
      • Free Disney Planning DVD: The planning movies are detailed overviews of the parks and resorts. They’re also fairly well-produced and the perfect little Disney-pick-me-up when you’re missing the parks. I download a new one every year! Here’s my link to the guide below. You can have a hard copy sent to your home or a downloadable version sent straight to your email. Here’s my link to the free planning video. 
      • Compare Package Prices: Did you know that you can do a side-by-side comparison of packages? Just choose a resort and ticket option then press “continue.” At the bottom of the page, you’ll see an option to “Compare Vacation Offers.” This allows you to price out your vacation and save your offers for later. You can see my example below.

Compare Vacations | Green Monorail Destinations

Disney Tourist Blog (Website and eBooks):  Money Saving Tips for Walt Disney World and Disney Tourist Blog Christmas 

So, the number one rule among bloggers is to try not to drive traffic to other people’s blogs. For me, however, if there is a blog that offers something I cannot, like Disney Tourist Blog’s beautiful photography and eBooks, then I’ll happily send my readers to them. Disney Tourist Blog is the first the Disney blog that I followed and they are constantly inspiring me to create a more beneficial blog for my readers. If you can’t find everything you’re looking for in a guidebook and prefer to book your own vacations (rather than through a Disney Travel Agent like me), then you’ll find this website very helpful.

Dis Boards

Another useful website are The Dis Boards. Think of this as a giant chat forum for you and the thousands of other Disney fans in the world. You can post questions and get honest feedback from fellow Disney vacationers. Since every user is anonymous, you can feel more comfortable about their honesty. And no question is too big or small! Want to know where you can get your karaoke fix on Disney property? Ask away! (It’s Kimonos at the Swan Resort, by the way)

Now that you’ve researched your resort, made your dining reservations, and learned how to budget, it’s time for the fun stuff. Here are some books that keep you will keep you entertained during the more grueling parts of your vacation. Mainly, waiting in line.

The Hidden Mickey’s of Walt Disney World

Hidden Mickey’s is the ultimate guide to…you guessed it…Hidden Mickey’s. If you’re not familiar with a Hidden Mickey, it’s the image of Mickey’s head hidden subtly by Imagineers around Disney property (and movies).  A sort of inside joke from Imagineers throughout the years. The book makes a game out of seeking out the Mickey’s hidden around the parks. There is also an app version available.

Lots To Do in Line

Like a Disney scavenger hunt, this activity book gives hints regarding subtle details and trivia hidden throughout the parks and line cues. With limited cell phone reception in some cues, it can create some momentary distractions and beat some boredom while you wait. Some find this book very entertaining, others say they can pass on it. If your family enjoys trivia, then I would suggest it. 

Secret Stories of Walt Disney World and Hidden Magic of Disney World

These two are the most popular “hidden secret” books, so I had to throw give them a mention. Sometimes, it’s fun to add a little insider magic while you wander the parks. However, Hidden Magic is outdated in some parts and holds most of the commonly known trivia. If you’re a first-timer, it’s a fun read, but some attractions have been removed since it’s publishing in 2009 (RIP Great Movie Ride). It’s also free on Kindle Unlimited as well. 

These are the books and resources that shaped me into the Disney expert I am today. Since I’ve discovered them, I can plan a mean Disney itinerary like nobody’s business. And of course, as I’ve mentioned before, if all this information is completely overwhelming to you, never fear. I can help! Feel free to reach out to me here. You can also sign up to receive your free planning itinerary at the bottom of the page.

In the meantime, I’ll digress from guidebooks for a bit and say that if you’re a true Disney buff, I suggest looking into these historic texts as well. Happy planning, everyone!

Walt Disney: The Triumph of the American Imagination

Ink & Paint: The Women of Walt Disney’s Animation

Walt Disney Imagineering: A Behind the Dreams Look at Making More Magic Real,

The Disneyland Story: The Unofficial Guide to the Evolution of Walt Disney’s Dream

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11 Ways to Spend Less Time Waiting and More Time Having Fun!

About ten years ago, simply visiting the parks during non-peak season (September through the first two weeks of December) would be enough to avoid crowds and long lines. Every year…

About ten years ago, simply visiting the parks during non-peak season (September through the first two weeks of December) would be enough to avoid crowds and long lines. Every year Disney adds another festival at Epcot or another room promotion during the off-season to keep rooms full and the money flowing in. And every year the ticketed events like the Christmas and Halloween parties get more popular. On top of all that, in the next two years, both Disneyland and Disney World will open Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, which will pull in a whole different crowd of park guests. I’m not trying to scare you! The parks are still very accessible during certain times of the year, and there are a few tips I can give to make the most out of your Disney experience.

The big tip here is to try and plan ahead of time. This will help you feel organized. On the other hand, don’t get stressed if everything doesn’t go precisely to plan. Take the day as it comes. There might be a time when you can’t make it to your next FastPass due to Disney transportation or ride breakdowns, but don’t stress about it. Remember to breathe through these mishaps and remind yourself that you’re on an awesome Disney vacation with your loved ones.



  1. FastPass+ (Disney World): If you’re staying onsite at one of the Disney hotels, you can schedule your FastPasses 60 days in advance. If you’re staying offsite, you can book 30 days in advance. I highly recommend using this to your advantage. Especially if you want to try the new Pandora rides at Animal Kingdom. Plan which rides you’d like to schedule for each of your days and get up early on your 60-day mark. If you’re out of luck, and the reservations are all snatched up, try again later. A lot of people luck out the week before their vacations due to people changing their reservations.
  2. MaxPass (Disneyland): Park goers are annoyed that you have to pay $10 per person per day for a pre-reserved FastPass at Disneyland when it’s a free service at Disney World. Paper FastPasses are still available at the kiosks if you don’t want to pay for this feature. I will say that at Disneyland, you probably only need to use a MaxPass for a day or two. At Disneyland, it’s a little easier to get to all of your desired attractions. I did find the MaxPass very useful, so if you have the budget, I’d say go for it. Instead of running around from ride to ride getting return passes, you can book your attractions from your phone, much like Disney World. It also allows for unlimited Photopass photos, which is a huge bonus. The website will try to make you buy the pass for all of your days. You have the option to add it one day at a time once you enter the parks.
  3. Extra Magic Hours and Rope Drops: Another perk of staying onsite is the fact that you have access to the Extra Magic Hours or Magic Mornings. This is when you can enter a park one hour or early or stay an hour late. If the park is not offering an early morning, getting there right when the park opens also helps. Bolt for the rides that usually have the longest lines like Flight of Passage at Animal Kingdom and Seven Dwarfs Mine at Magic Kingdom.
  4. Dining Reservations: Try your best to make reservations for table service restaurants at Disney World. It can be challenging making same-day reservations at popular restaurants. For onsite guests, reservations become available 190 days before your first vacation day. For offsite, 180 days in advance. If you can’t get your desired restaurants at the 180-day mark when reservations are open, try at 60 days when people start to schedule their FastPasses. As always, check 1-2 weeks before your vacation begins. Since there is a cancellation fee of $10 per person, guests have more of an incentive to remove their dining reservations if they don’t plan on attending. It’s a much different scene at Disneyland, I was able to make a same-day reservation at Napa Rose, the nicest restaurant the park has to offer. That said, I still suggest making an Advance Dining Reservation if there is a restaurant you don’t want to miss. ADR’s are available 60 days in advance for onsite guests only.
  5.  Mobile Meal Orders (Disney World): The My Disney Experience app contains all of your dining, FastPass, and resort reservations, and now allows you to pre-order from many locations around Disney World. Pre-ordering your meal will lessen your wait time considerably. Order during the lunch rush and grab a table. Right now, this feature is not available at Disneyland, but like most things, it may make its way over to the west coast soon. See all of the restaurants offering mobile ordering here.
  6. Character Breakfasts: Meet n’ Greet lines for characters can be up to an hour long, especially in Disney World. If you’re interested in meeting some characters, booking a character dining experience is the best way to go. For some restaurants, it can also create a more intimate experience. As a former friend of some of the characters, I’ve experienced some extremely slow mornings at Hollywood & Vine at Hollywood Studios where the characters spent a lot of time with each family. Crystal Palace, however, is fast-paced and you’ll likely only a get quick shot and autograph. The characters only have about an hour to see each table, so please be patient with them. They’re doing their best!
  7. Rides After the Last Firework Show: Once the first shows are over, a good chunk of the crowd will leave the parks. Families tend to rush out of the park after the last firework show, creating massive lines at the bus stations and trams. If you’re a night owl, plan on getting their late in the day so you have the energy to stay late, ride more rides, and have an easier time getting home.
  8. Rides Right at Close: If you’re in line before the park closes, they will not kick you out of line. Meaning, if a ride like Seven Dwarfs Mine Train has a 20-minute wait and the park closes at midnight, you can get in the queue at that time and stay in line past close.
  9. Avoid the Summer: During the summer, the lines are much longer and the heat is oppressive. My favorite time to go is September through the beginning of October and the first two weeks of November. Most kids are in school and the weather is still nice.
  10. Use a Minnie Van or Ride Share (Disney World): The new Minnie Van taxi service powered by Lyft picks you up at your resort and takes you anywhere on property for $20. Seeing as parking costs $20, I’d say this is an ok deal. It drops you off at the front of the Magic Kingdom, so you don’t have to wait for the monorail or ferry. It also provides two car seats for families. If you’re not staying on property, you can order a regular Lyft. Here’s a link to the app if you don’t have already it.
  11. MaxPass Bus System (Disney World): The Disney bus systems have been a regular complaint at Disney World. Th busses tend to be unreliable and crowded. The new MaxPass offer is like a FastPass, but for the bus! It costs an extra $30 per week, but many have said it is well worth the money as it allows you to spend more time in the parks and less time waiting for the bus. It also takes you through the back roads of Magic Kingdom, so you’re going through security quicker and avoiding main entrance traffic.


Using some of these tips will help greatly in reducing stress and waiting. And of course, if planning ahead isn’t your thing, please feel free to contact me. I can help book dining and attractions reservations, which will help you get to the places that you want to see the most.


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Disney Dining Dress Code Tips

There are a few Signature Restaurants that require dress codes for dining. In my experience, Disney doesn’t strictly enforce the rules, but if you’re worried about them cracking down on…

There are a few Signature Restaurants that require dress codes for dining. In my experience, Disney doesn’t strictly enforce the rules, but if you’re worried about them cracking down on your attire here are some guidelines.

The Grey Stuff (it’s delicious!) from Be Our Guest

First of all, here are the guidelines listed on disneyworld.com:

In order to preserve the atmosphere of this dining experience, Guests are asked to adhere to our dress code.

Appropriate attire for men includes khakis, slacks, jeans, dress shorts and collared shirts; appropriate attire for women includes capris, skirts, dresses, jeans and dress shorts.

Attire that will not be permitted includes tank tops or hats for gentleman, swimwear, cut-offs or torn clothing. In addition, while T-shirts are allowed, T-shirts featuring offensive language and/or graphics are not.

As you can see, you don’t have to dress in a formal evening gown to adhere to these guidelines, unless you really want to. This goes for most restaurants that require dress codes, excluding Victoria and Albert’s which has a stricter guideline:

Guests must wear proper attire.

Men must wear dinner jackets with dress pants or slacks and shoes. Ties are optional. Women may wear a cocktail dress, nice dress, dressy pantsuit or a skirt with a blouse.

Jeans, shorts, capri pants, sandals, flip-flops or tennis shoes are not permitted.


The newly opened Disney Springs restaurant and cabaret, The Edison is now requesting a dress code for its nightly entertainment. Starting at 10:00 pm each night, the restaurant undergoes a transformation to a “nightclub atmosphere” and guests are encouraged to wear slacks, dress shoes, and collard shirts. However, they won’t turn you away if you’ve put some effort in and look put together. Before 10:00 pm there are no dress codes.

Tips for Dressing Under the Guidelines:

Some Signature Restaurants do not require a dress code, but they do offer the same dining experience as those that do. For instance, Todd English’s bluezoo doesn’t say they have a dress code, but it is very much a fine-dining experience. It’s entirely up to you whether you want to dress up for these restaurants. Personally, I err on the casual side when dining at Disney since it’s still a park atmosphere, after all.  Others like to be aware of the guidelines, in case they feel uncomfortable wearing a t-shirt in a fine dining setting.

  • Comfortable Clothing: Unless you plan on using your reservation for a fancy date, it’s best to wear something versatile for fun in the parks as well. Don’t be afraid to wear a nice pair of shorts and a comfortable button-up/blouse. You don’t have to worry about having an entire costume change from parks to restaurants.
  • Shoes:  No matter where you’re dining, you’ll want to wear shoes that you can walk in. Most, if not all, Disney restaurants require a bit of walking or extended transportation to get there. For instance, if you’re not driving or taking a Lyft to Grand Floridian, you’ll have to take a bus to Magic Kingdom, then a monorail to the resort. For style, Tiek’s are a popular traveling flat that is also built for comfort and support.
  • Indoor/Outdoor Conditions: Florida weather is unpredictable with roaring thunderstorms one minute and oppressive heat the next. If you’re traveling during hurricane season, it’s advisable to carry a poncho or rain jacket. You don’t want to mess up the one nice shirt you packed. And no one likes walking around in wet clothes. This is especially true if you’re heading inside to a nicely air-conditioned restaurant. That being said, if you’re wearing light clothing to your reservation, you might consider carrying a light sweater indoors as well.

Restaurants That Request a Dress Code:

  • California Grill- Contemporary
  • Jiko-Animal Kingdom Lodge
  • Monsieur Paul-French Pavilion, Epcot
  • Artist Point-Wilderness Lodge
  • Victoria & Alberts-Grand Floridian
  • Narcoossee’s-Grand Floridian
  • Citricos-Grand Floridian
  • Flying Fish Cafe-BoardWalk
  • Yachtsman Steakhouse-Yacht Club

Whether you’re suited up or wearing blue jeans, Disney won’t stop the money from flowing in so I wouldn’t put too much thought into what you wear. It seems that the guidelines are only set to give you an expectation of the dining atmosphere. Some people feel embarrassed if they show up in tank tops and blue jeans at The Flying Fish Cafe, thinking it has the atmosphere of the Sci-Fi Dine-In Theatre. Others won’t care about the attire at all. As I’ve said before, it’s all up to your level of comfort!


If you’re interested in more tips & tricks regarding dining reservations, feel free to fill out the free quote form here. I’m happy to schedule and book your vacation!

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Disney World After Dark: Dining & Entertainment for Night Owls

“Raging nightlife” isn’t the first thing that comes to mind when you think of Disney. But just because it’s Disney, doesn’t mean it’s for early risers. When the sun goes…

Disney After Dark: Everything you can do in Disney World after the sun goes down! #disneyworld #disney #nightlife

“Raging nightlife” isn’t the first thing that comes to mind when you think of Disney. But just because it’s Disney, doesn’t mean it’s for early risers. When the sun goes down and most of the other guests are heading out, you can keep the party going with a variety of activities. I’m not saying this is Las Vegas, but you do have some options if you’re hopped up on Dole Whips at 9:00 pm.

I used to be a magic morning kinda girl, but lately, I’ve found that going into the parks later in the afternoon and staying all the way until close is something I can get used to. The other option is to go early for park opening, leave for most of the afternoon then return for more fun. Whatever your preference, there’s a lot to do at night in the parks and resorts.

The hours and times I’ve listed may vary, so always double-check park and dining hours on DisneyWorld.com before making plans. Also, dining closing hours means they will seat you until those closing hours, but won’t kick you out until you’ve finished your meal. Just, try not to take too much advantage of coming in right at closing. Servers gotta sleep too!  Later reservations are much easier to get, as opposed to dining around the typical dinner hour of 5:00-7:00 pm as well.


Disney Springs

Let’s start with the obvious place to stay up late. They’ve been trying their darndest to appeal to young 20 something’s in this area for years and I think they’re finally getting around to it. Most restaurants and shops and are open until 11:00 PM (and later) and the Starbucks is open until midnight to keep yourself from falling asleep.  There’s always excitement happening at Springs like live “street” performers and other artists scattered about. It’s my favorite place to go on our first night in town since you don’t have to pay to get in.

The Edison: Open until 1:00 am. This swanky bar/lounge/cabaret/nightclub/restaurant just opened this year and people are loving its nighttime entertainment. The live band, dancers, and singers begin their big band era show around 10:00 pm. On Thursdays through Sundays they charge a cover of $10 after 10:00 as well.  After 10:00 pm the restaurant becomes 21 and over and a “venue-appropriate” dress code is requested. You can read about Disney Dress Codes on my post here.

Enzo’s Hideaway Tunnel Bar: Open until midnight. The Tunnel Bar is Maria and Enzo’s counterpart lounge. It has a prohibition-era speakeasy theme where you enter through an unmarked door into a dark “tunnel” restaurant. They serve cocktails, small plates, and full meals in an “underground” bar. Very cool little spot to grab a drink before heading over to The Edison for some dancing.

Star Wars–Secrets of the Empire Hyper-Reality Experience: Open until 10:45 pm. This experience opened recently in Disney World and just opened at Disneyland’s Downtown Disney as well. Your chosen team is sent undercover to achieve a mission for the rebellion where you’ll interact with sets and experience sensory and immersive technology.  I’ve heard nothing but good things about it, but have been warned that if you are claustrophobic or experience vertigo, you should avoid it. This is for ages 10+ and is 29.95 per person.

Splitsville: If you’re taking a break from the parks, Splitsville is a great place to hang out. There’s a bowling alley food, frozen drinks, and creative martinis served until 12:30. You should really reserve a lane ahead of time if you plan on bowling, just to be safe. Odd Tip: They say the sushi is really good here. Who knew I could trust sushi from a bowling alley? Lane reservations go as late as 11:45 and the alley is open until 1:00 AM.

AMC Dine-In Theatre: This movie theatre has undergone quite the transformation since I was a Cast Member. A full menu is available with options like cheeseburgers, desserts, even cocktails. When you’re low on popcorn, press a button and *poof* your server appears without you getting up in the middle of the movie. Great idea for an evening flick!

House of Blues: Ah yes, the old standby. House of Blues is still rockin’ after all these years and all the transformations. Check the schedule here to see when the live concerts will be taking place at this venue.

Bongos Cuban Cafe: Open until 2:00 am. The rumors have started that Bongo’s will soon be another casualty in the renovations.  There’s still time to visit this happening venue! On Friday and Saturdays, they have a live band play with dancing. It’s like a nonstop party over there.

Raglan Road-Irish Pub and Restaurant: Fish n’ Chips, live music, and traditional Irish dancing until 1:00 AM. The lively venue pays homage to Disney Spring’s wilder years and is madly popular among the younger Cast Members. A great place to have a pint and let loose.

Here are a few honorable mentions for getting a late meal. You can find the full list of restaurants at DisneySprings.com

The BoardWalk

Now that Pleasure Island has transformed into an upscale shopping district (Disney Springs), I think it’s time for The Boardwalk to get a facelift as well. They haven’t had any major developments like the other parks or resorts and they’re definitely due. That being said, there are two adult-only venues and a couple dining options open late.

Jellyrolls: Open until 2:00 am. Jellyrolls is a dueling piano bar that’s been around for a while and still a favorite for some. Doors open at 7:00 pm so if you plan on getting a table, I advise going when they open. They do charge a cover charge of $12.

Atlantic Dance Hall: Open until 2:00 am. This top 40’s dance hall has a balcony with a beautiful view of the lake where you can cool off after shaking your tail feathers. There’s no cover charge, but it is closed on Sundays and Mondays.

Pizza Window: Open until midnight. Between dance breaks stop by the infamous Pizza Window. It has some outside seating and serves beer and Sangria as well. Nothing like pizza under the stars on a warm Florida night!

BoardWalk Joe’s Marvelous Margaritas: Open until midnight. This is a little outdoor shack that serves margaritas outside. Pizza and margs, anyone?

Late-Night Eats That Close after 10:00 pm for The BoardWalk

The Resorts

Disney After Dark: Everything you can do in Disney World after the sun goes down! #disneyworld #disney #nightlife

Grand Floridian Resort

24 Hour Dining: Speaking of midnight snacks, there are three restaurants open 24 hours on property.

  • Gasparilla Island Grill at Grand Floridian is a quick service spot serving pizza all night long.
  • Picabu at the Dolphin Hotel serves a take-and-go assortment of desserts and snacks.
  • Captain Cook’s at the Polynesian serves bakery items and some small snacks late at night.

Starlight Safari at Animal Kingdom Lodge: Disney’s only nighttime tour and probably the coolest. You’ll be guided through the “Savannah” at Animal Kingdom Lodge to view their wildlife after dark. Everyone is provided night vision goggles to get the full experience of seeing a giraffe or zebra after dark. Once exclusive to resort guests, now open to all. The tours start around 8:30 and 10:00 at night. If you go on any VIP tours, try this one!

Stroll Along a Scenic Trail: There are many jogging trails scattered throughout resort properties, but my favorite is the trail connecting the Polynesian and Grand Floridian. An ideal evening would be to take in the live jazz band at Mizner’s Lounge then head outside for a leisurely evening walk. It trails near the Seven Seas Lagoon and passes by the wedding pavilion at Grand Floridian. Once at the Polynesian you’ll get the perfect view of Cinderella’s castle in the distance. Can you smell the warm, evening air?

Grab a Drink: Disney resort lounges are usually stocked with full-service food menus from the restaurants attached to them. All are first-come, first-serve so you don’t have to worry about making a reservation. My favorite is probably Mizner’s Lounge at Grand Floridian.

P.S. Most resort food courts are open until 11:00 PM and there’s always Disney’s pizza delivery if you want to keep the party hopping. Although, I might suggest ordering Pizza Hut. Disney pizza isn’t great.

The Parks

Disney After Dark: Everything you can do in Disney World after the sun goes down! #disneyworld #disney #nightlife

Epcot at sunset

Disney has been good about offering some late night activities in the parks for those of us who are not rope drop people. Every year they’re adding something new to stretch out the magic all day and into the wee hours of the night.

Extra Evening Hours: Extra Magic Hours doesn’t always mean up-at-the-crack-of-dawn hours. On certain nights, the parks will stay open for a few hours after close, meant for guests staying at an onsite Disney resort. Check the calendar to see which park is honoring it the week you are there.  Fair warning, the park may still be busy during the late hours, but it’s a good option.

Disney After Hours: This one is definitely less advertised than the holiday parties and definitely less crowded. Between January and March of 2018, they are leaving the park open for an extra 3 hours in the Magic Kingdom. 25 attractions are left open and because there is a limited amount of tickets, lines are super short. The price is about the same as one day’s admission-$119. If you want to do this exclusive event you can find tickets for sale here.

Magic Kingdom:

The good thing about the Magic Kingdom is that it’s usually open until midnight unless it’s non-peak season and by that time you’re probably pooped from all the magic. But if you stick around long enough you get to experience the “Kiss Goodnight.” Which is the exit message and music from Mickey and friends when the park is nearing close. It’s a perfect time to take in the Disney atmosphere and get the perfect castle picture with fewer crowds.

  • Shop on Main Street: Main Street shops are open a little past park closing hours. I like to use this time to pick up souvenirs because the crowds are thinner and I don’t have to spend the rest of the day carrying them around. Also, you really can’t beat an empty Main Street U.S.A at midnight.
  • Dessert Parties: Magic Kingdom has a lot of dessert parties and most of them take place during the fireworks. One takes place in Tomorrowland, another takes place in the plaza, and others take place on your very own cruise. This is probably the coolest way to view the fireworks. This experience is right up there with a viewing at the Top of the World Lounge at the Contemporary Resort.
  • Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party and Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party: If you are visiting during the holiday season, these are must-do events. Both offer special parades, shows, merchandise, and rare character experiences. And they keep the parks open until midnight in the fall. They were created to help drag in some profit during the off-season and they are quickly becoming the busiest times to go. I suggest going mid-September or the last week of November to attempt to avoid the crowds.


Most, if not all, restaurants and food kiosks are open until 9:00 pm at Epcot. If you’re willing to skip Illuminations or go for a quick service option in lieu of a table service, you can actually get quite a bit done later in the day here.

  • Festivals at Epcot: I suggest visiting during one of their festivals like Food & Wine, Flower & Garden, or Festival of the Arts. They always have unique food and entertainment and the food kiosks are also typically open until 9:00 pm.
  • Proximity to The BoardWalk: World Showcase is located 5 minutes from The BoardWalk! Head over to the parks for dinner and Illuminations and then keep the party going with some dancing at The BoardWalk. Sounds like the perfect evening to me!

Hollywood Studios:

Studios is undergoing major refurbishments as they prepare for Galaxy’s Edge (Star Wars Land) and Toy Story Land coming in the next couple years. Unfortunately, that means there is far less to do in the evening hours. BUT, I do have a few suggestions for nighttime entertainment at the park while it gets a makeover.

  • Fantasmic! Dining Package: This is my favorite evening show! Like I said, the dining and dessert packages are the way to go. The Brown Derby is my suggestion for this dining package. They’ve got some great cocktails! If you don’t want to do a table service and there are two shows, I always suggest seeing the second show. The crowds will have died down and you’ll have more time for dinner and attractions.
  • Ride Tower of Terror at Night: I know, I’m really reaching here. However, if you’ve never ridden Tower of Terror at night, it’s really pretty cool. The evening ambiance adds to the eerie queue which guides you to the spooky lobby.
  • Take the boat!: After you’ve gotten your fill of Hollywood Studios, take the boat over to the BoardWalk area. The Dolphin and Swan Resort are also in the vicinity which offers places like Kimonos for nightly karaoke!

Animal Kingdom:

Even if it’s not open terribly late, Pandora-World of Avatar was meant to be seen at night. The bioluminescent lighting and Avatar “landscapes” look incredible in the evening. Last summer, Animal Kingdom was open until 10:00 pm most nights and sometimes 11:00 pm, without extra evening hours. And don’t forget to catch Rivers of Light, the new water and light show, playing most nights at the amphitheater. Unfortunately, Animal Kingdom doesn’t have too many dining spots open past 8:00 pm due to it closing earlier than others. For evening eats I suggest Tiffins, Yak & Yeti, Nomad Lounge, and Satu’li Canteen (quick service). Rainforest Cafe is open a little later than the others, but the food isn’t quite worth it.

I did my best to keep the list concise, but there really is a lot to do at night in and around the parks! What’s your favorite thing to do late at night on property? Mine would have to be watching the fireworks from the beach at the Polynesian Resort. So relaxing! Goodnight, night owls!

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Disney World’s Christmas Party Pumpkin Spice Waffle Copycat!

The Pumpkin Spice Waffle is a favorite at the Christmas Party. If you can’t make it to the parks this season, this treat will help ease the pain a bit….

The Pumpkin Spice Waffle is a favorite at the Christmas Party. If you can’t make it to the parks this season, this treat will help ease the pain a bit. I’m also one of those people who really get into the pumpkin spiced trend. Call me basic! I don’t care because this recreation of the popular dessert from Disney World makes me and other Disney fans feel right at home. Also, someone who doesn’t have a lot of time on her hands, like most others, I wanted it to find a simple way to enjoy it. I tried some recipes and instant mixes, but rumor has it that the waffle mix I ended up using is the actual mix they use in the parks.  Can’t get much more authentic than that! It’s a simple recipe you can make with kids or on Christmas morning without it being a stressful activity.  If you don’t have a waffle maker, you can make a pancake version instead. But, if you’re in the market for one, the mini Mickey waffle maker I got worked really well. Pair this festive sweet with one of the Disney holiday movies like I suggested in my blog here. Here are some suggestions for recreating this yummy treat.

The Essentials:
  • Waffle Maker
  • Pumpkin Spice Waffle Batter
  • Vanilla Bean Ice Cream
  • Powdered Sugar
  • Sprinkles
  • Added Bonus: Mickey Mug and a Mickey Waffle Maker! Review of the waffle maker below!

Adorable Mickey Holiday Mug from the Disney Store

Waffles: You have a couple choices here, ranging from super simple to more labor intensive. I’ll start with my favorite.

  • Carbon’s Golden Malted Pumpkin Waffle and Pancake Flour: I did some research and found multiple claims that this is the real mix they use in the parks. After having a taste, I’d have to agree with them. And it’s very simple to make! All you need is an egg and butter to complete the mix. Although, I highly suggest adding about 1/4 cup of sugar and about 1/4-1/2 teaspoon of Pumpkin Spice or Vanilla Extract. The mix is a little bland for my taste and adding the sugar and pumpkin spice extract made it absolutely perfect. Find it on Amazon here

  • Other Pumpkin Spice Waffle and Pancake Mixes: For other instant mixes, I highly recommend the Spiced Pecan Pumpkin Pancake & Waffle Mix from Williams Sonoma. Another trusted mix is My Favorite Pancake Mix. Both are super low maintenance and affordable.
  • Bake it from Scratch: If you love doing things homemade, there are some fantastic pumpkin spice waffle recipes online. Here’s a great pumpkin waffle recipe from Cooking Classy.
  • Frozen Waffles: If you’re far too busy for any of the above, some toaster waffles have seasonal offerings like Nature’s Path Organic Pumpkin Spice Waffles or even Eggo’s.

Two Mickey Waffles on a Christmas plate


Wilton’s Holiday Sprinkles is the classic brand that Disney uses and they’re pretty cheap on Amazon. I bought the combination pack with 6 different types of sprinkles then used the confetti and trees here. Save the rest for sugar cookie decorations! Add some Pumpkin Pie Extract for extra pumpkin spice goodness.

Ice Cream:

  • Vanilla Bean is the flavor they use at the parties, but feel free to get creative here. Try flavors that compliment the spices like chocolate or coffee ice cream. I used Snoqualmie Ice Cream because it’s local to Washington. My favorite brand is Tillamook. Super creamy and delicious!

Sifted Powdered Sugar: Obviously any brand will do here. You can also top off your creation with some cinnamon and cardamom to make it extra pumpkin spice-y!

Added Bonus!
Hot Cocoa Mug: I’m a big collector of Disney mugs. And this one combines my two favorite things: Mickey and Christmas. They’re selling it in the parks and on disneystore.com.


Backside of the adorable Holiday Mug from the Disney Store


Waffle Maker: I found this on Amazon for only 15.00, so I bought it on an impulse. It’s the cutest waffle maker on the planet so I was hoping the quality of the waffles would match the design. Mickey did not disappoint. The waffles are thick, fluffy, and evenly baked. Only takes about 5 minutes to make a waffle too! I was weary at first, but I liked it even more than my heavy duty Oster waffle maker. 

The cutest Mickey Waffle Maker!

Well, there it is! You’re very own slice of Disney all wrapped up in holiday goodness. Snuggle up with a blanket and a friend,  turn on A Muppet Christmas Carol, and have at it! Go crazy and grab a pumpkin spiced eggnog while you’re enjoying it. Happy holidays, everyone!



Disney World Christmas Party Waffle



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Disney World Snacks That Give You a Pep in Your Step

Wandering around for hours in the humid Florida sun can be exhausting. One is to become irrevocably irritable in a matter of moments. The best way to keep a sour…

Wandering around for hours in the humid Florida sun can be exhausting. One is to become irrevocably irritable in a matter of moments. The best way to keep a sour attitude at bay is by staying nourished and rested. Sometimes that means a piece of fresh fruit. Sometimes it means adding an extra shot of espresso into your Grande Vanilla Latte. Whatever your vice, rest assured there are plenty of snacks that are sure to cure the rumblies and make you feel slightly more chipper. I mixed in some healthy and more indulgent choices for your preference!

Note: Locations of these snacks can sometimes be elusive so keep your eyes peeled when searching for a pick-me-up! I’ve suggested places where you may find these tasty treats.

Water: I know, I know. Duh! But, I can’t stress how important this “snack” is. The humid Florida air will drain you completely if you’re not properly hydrated. It is essential that you drink plenty water and fuel up on liquids with electrolytes. I suggest buying a concentrate like Mio to drop into your bottle.  If you want to last until the fireworks, heed my advice!

Found at: Use a snack credit for a bottle of water anywhere it is sold. Cups of water are given for free at most quick service locations.

Warm Cinnamon Glazed Nuts: The delicious aroma due to these warm, cinnamon-glazed nuts are notorious around the parks. They come wrapped up in a paper cone, so they’re perfect to eat while you wait in line. They may not be completely healthy, but at least you’re getting some nut-protein in your system. And fun fact: they’re vegan!

Found at: Multiple food carts around the parks. Adventureland Nut Cart is my favorite snack hub. Also rumored to have them: Fantasmic Amphitheater, Drinkwallah in Pandora, Future World Nut Car in Epcot, Tomorrowland Popcorn Cart, Storybook Circus Popcorn Cart, among other carts scattered about.



Fruits and Veggies: Disney has made an effort to add healthier snacks to their quick service carts and restaurants. Making it easier to find fresh fruit and veggies around the parks.

At the Garden Kiosk in Animal Kingdom, you can talk with a Cast Member about your dietary restrictions and provide restaurants recommendations. They sell some organic and gluten-free products and even have vegan cupcakes!

Found at: The places with the healthiest snacks are The Land Cart in Epcot, Harambe Market in Animal Kingdom, Liberty Square Market in Magic Kingdom, Landscape of Flavors in Epcot, and Anaheim Produce in Hollywood Studios.

Corn on the Cob: Liberty Square Market grills fresh, sweet corn all day long. It’s hard to miss that smoky, summer smell wafting down the path. You can dress your freshly gri corn with seasonings like Italian, Lemon Pepper, Jamaican Jerk, or Curry Spice. Packed with enough crunch and saltiness to make you feel satisfied!

Found at: Liberty Square Market and Harambe Fruit Market


Me looking far too cool in this giant, comfy Gaston chair.

Gaston’s Tavern: The tavern has a variety of snacks that are healthy and/or refreshing. The hummus with chips is a hearty choice that help will tide you over until dinner. And, Lefou’s Brew (frozen apple juice flavored with marshmallow and a passion fruit froth) is a rival to Harry Potter’s Butter Beer. (I know, blasphemy!)

Found at: Fantasyland. Other places that have hummus and sides are The Land Cart and Intermission Food Court.



Dole Whip Float: The infamous pineapple soft-serve is little lighter than ice cream with a good kick of sugar and citrus to boost your energy. Make it a float and the pineapple juice will quench your thirst and pump you up! Make it a double with a shot of rum at Tamu Tamu in Animal Kingdom. That would be more of a “winding down” snack, but I thought ya’ll need to know this important tip. P.S. Did you know Dole Whips are vegan?

Found at: Aloha Isle (Magic Kingdom), Pineapple Lanai (Polynesian), Refreshment Port (Epcot-World Showcase), Tamu Tamu (Animal Kingdom)

Pineapple Spear: If you want to avoid the artificial sugars of a Dole Whip, you can indulge in a fresh-cut pineapple spear. The spears are always juicy, cold, and perfectly delicious. It will energize, rejuvenate, and get you ready for that 3rd ride on Big Thunder Mountain

Found at: Aloha Isle at Magic Kingdom and Harambe Fruit Market



CC by Joel

Fresh Fruit Smoothies: Fruit smoothies can be found many places around the parks. Joffrey’s Handcrafted Smoothies at Disney Springs offers an extensive menu of flavors (even coffee with Kahlua). Also, Joy of Tea in the Japanese Pavilion at Epcot offers a unique Strawberry Oolong or Mango Green Tea Smoothie. The caffeinated green tea and fruit mixture is sure to make you feel awake and nourished.

Found at: Many places! Contemporary Grounds, Café Rix,  Auntie Gravities, Joffrey’s Coffee and Tea at The Landing, Lotus Blossom Café (China), Oasis Morocco Beverages (Morroco-Epcot), Joffrey’s Handcrafted Smoothies, Fountain Eats and Sweets (Future World-Epcot), Trolley Car Café (Hollywood Studios), Coca-Cola Store (Disney Springs)

Power Pack: One of the best ways to find something that isn’t loaded with sugar is to look at the kid’s menus. They usually offer something with nutritional value on these menus. For instance, the egg-white omelet served with fruit and juice at Landscape of Flavors in Epcot. The Power Packs are a balanced and hearty, usually complete with yogurt, apple wedges, carrots, goldfish, snack bar, and choice of water or milk.

Found at: ABC Commissary (Hollywood Studios), Backlot Express (Hollywood Studios), PizzeRizzo (Hollywood Studios), and Rosie’s All-Amerian Café (Hollywood Studios), Grab n’ Go counter at Contempo Café (Contemporary Resort)


Frozen Banana: A giant banana saturated with chocolate and hazelnuts, frozen to perfection. Ok, so the banana is no longer a healthy snack once dunked in sugar, but the treat is quite filling and at least it’s not as heavy as say, a churro. The fact that it’s frozen helps keep the chocolate from melting away in your hands, so you can nibble on it while waiting in line at the Jungle Cruise. Which, by the way, is always the hottest cue in the park.

Found at: Basically any ice cream cart you lay your eyes on. They’re everywhere!

Shaved Ice: Shaved ice has the consistency of eating a pile of clean snow, flavored with your favorite fruits. This is the perfect treat to bury yourself in on a scorching summer’s day. They give you a huge helping so they’re great for sharing too. Mix and match with flavors like Strawberry, Melon, Tangerine, or Rainbow (ALL THE FLAVORS!)

Found at: Kabuki Café (Japan Pavilion at Epcot) and Florida Snow Company (Disney Springs). Other locations like Prince Eric’s Village Market and Harambe Market have a version of shaved ice as well. However, the texture is chunkier and not as light and frosty as Kabuki.

I can’t get enough of the “You Are Here Mugs” sold at the park’s Starbucks!

Starbucks: Now that Disney has partnered with Starbucks, we can all indulge in our favorite lattes and teas. They also offer the same variety of healthy snacks that you’d find in your neighborhood Starbucks like boiled eggs, salads, and muffins to name a few. You might find some unique options like the Rivers of Light cupcake that might help lift your Disney spirits.

Found at: Every park has a Starbuck’s, but they all go under pseudonyms to help blend in with the park’s atmosphere. Magic Kingdom: Main Street Bakery, Epcot: Fountain View, Animal Kingdom: Creature Comforts, and Hollywood Studios: Trolley Car.


Joffrey’s Coffee: I actually prefer Joffrey’s to Starbucks, myself. I’m a Seattleite so I like the beans to be freshly roasted. (Yeah, I’m a total snob) Although the beans may not be fresh out of the ground, the coffee tastes fresher than Starbucks, so I enjoy that. They also have specific roasts for certain restaurants in the park. My favorite is the Kona blend at the Polynesian Resort. And, you can order it to be delivered straight to your home. A tasty reminder of your time in the park.

Found at: Pretty much anywhere in the parks!


Ghirardelli’s Sundaes: Sue me! Sometimes the best way to boost your mood is to treat yo’ self. I’m not saying eat cupcakes all day, every day. It’s just that chocolate is an antioxidant so it’s beneficial sometimes! Or maybe that’s just something I tell myself when I’m drowning myself in a sundae. Either way, you’re at Disney, and this is where all your chocolatey dreams come true!

Found at: Disney Springs

(Don’t be fooled. This isn’t at the Rooftop Bar.)

Bonus: Check out Disney Springs  Coca-Cola Store and Rooftop Bar. Because what’s more refreshing than a glass of coke and a rooftop view?

Despite the fact that everything I listed here is delicious, it’s also extremely important to keep yourself nourished and hydrated. Of course, it’s important to fill up more on the healthy snacks and water, while reserving the Dole Whips for sparing indulgences. Either way, it’s Disney and it’s important to take care of yourself throughout your vacation. Don’t want to burn out early and miss out on the magic!


Need help planning your vacation and more dining advice? Feel free to reach out to me here. I’m a trained Travel Agent and will be happy to book with you!

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The Benefits of Using a Disney Travel Planner

Hiya folks! I’m your friendly neighborhood Disney Vacation Planner! If you’ve always wanted to experience the magic of seeing Cinderella’s Castle in person or seek the thrill of riding Space Mountain alongside your family, I’m here to help your…

Hiya folks!

I’m your friendly neighborhood Disney Vacation Planner! If you’ve always wanted to experience the magic of seeing Cinderella’s Castle in person or seek the thrill of riding Space Mountain alongside your family, I’m here to help your dreams come true! Booking a Disney vacation may seem easy with the endless amount of information on the internet. But this much information can be overwhelming. With my insider knowledge, I’m here to help discover what is best for you and your family. And as far as planning logistics, I’m here for that too. I can answer burning questions like: “What’s a FastPass?” or “I want a reservation at Be Our Guest, but everything is full! Can I still get in? As a former Cast Member and a graduate of the Disney College of Knowledge,  I have the resources to do all of the nitty-gritty work for you. This way, you can focus on the important things, like enjoying your vacation! So, don’t hesitate to reach out to me here. I’ll do my best to make your Disney vacation extra magical! To help keep things organized, download my 6 day Disney World Travel Itinerary example and blank itinerary. It’s a  snapshot of a 6 day Disney World trip I recently took and how I managed to see most things on my list.

Here are some reasons why you need an Agent in 2017:
  • You’re Dealing with an Expert: I’m endlessly qualified and highly knowledgeable when it comes to Disney vacations. As I mentioned before, I worked at Disney World in the Entertainment Department and took business classes through Disney University on the property.  You can probably guess what I did in that department, but it’s all very hush hush. During my time as a Cast Member, I was in the parks every day either for work or play. I stayed in many different resorts across the property and ate at most of the popular restaurants. I can give you honest reviews about each of these places to help you with your reservations. IOn top of that, I recently graduated from the Disney College of Knowledge, which is a Travel Agent training program designed to prepare Agents for booking Disney vacations for their clients. Easy to say, I know my stuff!
  • It’s Free to You: Suppliers like Disney and most, if not all, hotels and tours pay Travel Agents a commission when we book on behalf of them because we’re doing their job for them. They are willing to take a cut and pay us for doing the marketing and planning for them. This costs nothing extra to you. That being said, please be aware that the only way Travel Agents are paid is if we book on your behalf. If you work with us then decide later to book through a travel website, we won’t be compensated. We really appreciate it if we can work with you through the whole process, if you’re willing to have us.
  • Your Wish is My Command: Think of me as your personal assistant. I do all the work, planning, and follow-up for you. If you want to spend hours researching a destination, international border control stipulations, and Travel Insurance plans, that’s totally cool. If you’d rather have someone do it for you, let me do it!
  • Resources: As an Agent, I have an endless amount of resources and a huge network of Travel Professionals to refer to. This is something a travel website won’t offer to you. Agents tend to be the first to be notified when a supplier announces new upcoming promos as well.
  • No Upselling: As a small business owner and artist, supporting my dream of planning Disney vacations for people, I promise to be honest and upfront. This is my business so I’m not pressured to make certain amounts on commission. What does it hurt? It’s a completely free service and I actually like doing it. I offer honest opinions on hotels, parks, and dining and there will be no upselling on my part. I’ll always be on the lookout for what is best for you.

How much you want me involved in your planning is completely up to you. If you’d like me to schedule every FastPass, Dining Reservation, hotel and flights, I can do that. If you just want me to purchase tickets, I’m down for that too! See below for all the services I offer when booking your dream vacation.

Complete Service Offers:
  • Packages: Some packages offer discounts if you book during certain seasons. Other discounts seem great, but are not worth it once you read the fine print. I can do the budget hunting and pricing out for you. If you find a discount before I do, I can add it to your package no problem.
  • Dining Reservations: You can make dining reservations online 180 days before your vacation if you’re staying offsite and 190 days if you’re onsite. This year, to make it even harder for us, they’re adding Disney Good Neighborhood Hotels to the 190-day exception. It’s become increasingly difficult in booking the popular restaurants like Be our Guest since this system launched. People tend to get up at 3:00 AM on their 180/190-day mark just to ensure they get a seat. I am happy to be up in the wee hours to work on your reservations. If they happen to be full, I have the ability to set up systems that will alert me if a reservation becomes available.
  • FastPasses: With dining reservations and travel time, FastPasses can quickly become a logistical nightmare. I can help schedule your FastPasses and make sure they work will your other reservations.
  • Dining Plan: The most often Disney question asked: Is the Dining Plan a good deal? I can help draw out comparisons and figure out if the Dining Plan is right for you.
  • Resort Research: If you want to make sure the hotel is more kid oriented or have a more of an “adult feel,” I have plenty of recommendations. I can help you make requests for arranging to have a crib for your room or asking for ADA accommodations as well.

So drop me a line from my quote form here. It’ll be a blast!

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