Charging up at Disney World…

A while back Disney tested charging locker/stations and random “hidden” outlets.  As this was a minor hit…it was clear that guests wanted to charge while being on the move.  I mean, how many people can sit for an hour with crazy, excited kids – not me.  OR want to go back to that said locker and claim a “charged” phone/device…again NOT me.  WE like to keep it moving at Disney, plus most people need phones for emergencies, taking pictures and well…facebook posts.

So…in response to that need…Disney got in bed with a company called “Fuel Rod”.  And lets just say…I am in LOVE.  What is Fuel Rod exactly?  Let me tell you ALL about it.

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A Fuel Rod is a portable (external) battery, about the size of a lipstick.  It’s basically the same kind you can buy at any store…it charges your phone or device.  So why is this “fuel rod” so great?  Well…Disney has set up “vending machine” stations throughout the parks.  You purchase this battery ONCE for $30, then as you need a charge you “turn-in” your USED one and get a NEW charged one in its place. Cool right?!?!?

But that’s not all – you can do this, Over and Over and Over again (UNLIMITED).  The whole family can use it.  Once the charge is gone, get a new one.  Pass it around the group and top everyone off.  ALL for only $30.  And you can use your credit card to purchase, I got an email instantly with the receipt.

The first time you purchase one, it does come with a few adaptable charging connection pieces, to fit most phones/devices.  OR if worried bring your own cord, it does have a USB port for connecting to your device.  And it comes in a simple clear case to keep everything together.

So why do you need this or should consider it???  I was just at Disney with 6 adults…between us all, phones were dying fast, battery power was flying out of the park and we all needed some juice.  Most of us packed our own back-up batteries but those too ran out quick…so again…unless I wanted to sit for 1 hour and charge up…the Fuel Rod was the perfect solution.  And thanks to Disney’s crazy Wi-Fi (on, off, on, off)…we needed a charge several times in ONE day.  Many times my phone was at 30% and the Fuel Rod charged it to about 80-90% – of course this was while I was also using it; posting, filming, taking pictures – all while I was “charging”.  Since I was the only one who purchased a Fuel Rod, it was getting passed around like crazy.  It became a game to see who had it next.

So for those with older kids, those with multiple devices, those who are posters (you know who you are)…this might be the solution for you too.  Again, even though I packed my own back-up…the ability to use, exchange, use, exchange, use, exchange…several times through-out the day/trip…that was a life-saver.  It’s yours to keep, so bring it back next time at Disney, use it at home and charge yourself.

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TIP:  If this sounds like something you will want/need…you can purchase it for $20 directly from Fuel-Rod (online) and then bring to the parks.  Also…since I got back (5 days ago) I heard rumors that even some resorts are getting a Fuel Rod machine…which would rock.  I remember telling people, if only they had these at the resorts…well apparently…that is coming as we speak – YAY!!!  I did screen-shot the current locations of the machines (see above) and used that to help guide me to the next…we exchanged every chance we could and we were NOT alone, this is growing in popularity.

MermaidNina:  I am a Disney Vacation Planner (aka Travel Agent) and I book and plan Disney/Universal vacations as a living…yep it’s my FULL TIME job.  And when not quoting, planning, booking dining, helping with fastpasses, getting travel documents together…I am at Disney…doing something Disney.  My services are 100% FREE as Disney pays me to do this…so contact me if looking to explore Disney.  Disney World, Disneyland, Disney Cruise, etc.  As I am not the best blogger (I know), I AM amazing at my job which of course prevents me from being an awesome blogger, lol.  I am a mom, a wife, a kid at heart and well…I am a Mermaid (with legs of course).

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Disney Tantrums…Not just for kids

So I am sitting here watching my son (age 4) throw a fun little tantrum and thinking…thank goodness we are NOT at Disney, lol. Yep it happens; kids get tired, overloaded with sweets, too much stimulation, need more sleep and they aren’t the only ones.  Adults get hungry, hot, tired and CRANKY too…so much fun, right – NOT. Unfortunately when at Disney…tantrums can still be a thing…but luckily there are ways to AVOID them. Perhaps not 100%, but at least bring them down to a tolerable level.
Dealing with a tantrum at Disney seems to be a common worry or concern of many of my clients and I try my best to walk them through the steps to avoid such an event. With 2 kids, both in the tantrum age zone…it’s something I try my best to avoid as well. I have been to Disney more times than I can count and have taken my kiddies several times, at various ages and have learned a few things.
First…kids will be kids. Just because you spent your hard earn cash on what is supposed to be the BEST VACATION of a life-time…doesn’t mean your toddler is going to change. You know you kid(s) the best. You know their triggers, limits and issues. And you need to be honest to yourself about it. This is also where the adult tantrums come into play, lol. As an adult, we want to see and do stuff too. We want to stay up late and watch the parade/fireworks and do the special Holiday party. We want to have a few adult beverages and relax. We want to ride the coasters and do some thrill rides. BUT…we also want to see the magic in our kid’s eyes, see their faces light up with wonder and delight…but It can come to the point where we need to decide, what is more important? OR find a happy mix; a healthy medium. This is something I have developed over time and each and every trip gets better and better; as kids ages change so does the experience.

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BIG kid in stroller; she is happy & entertained while WE get a break.

Things to consider, thoughts to ponder about YOUR child: LIMITS…
• Walking – Strollers are NOT just for toddlers…if your older kid isn’t a grand walker…consider a stroller
• Sweets – Some kids have a limit, some can’t handle it at all. Giving them a limit WILL help.
• Sleep – Some kids NEED sleep, some can handle a little less than normal…but sleep is a MUST.
• Length of Day – Some kids crash out early, some are night-owls…some with a mid-day nap can flourish
• Food – Some NEED to eat at normal times, some can snack until a BIG meal…but DON’T push it off.
• Lights, Sounds, Stimulation – Some kids are ok with all the action, some kids are overwhelmed (consider breaks, head-phones, distractions)
• Heat – some people are ok in the heat, some people just can’t function (same with crowds). Know this and prepare.

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Dole Whip; nice treat, but LOTS of sugar – try sharing.

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Mickey Pretzel…my FAVORITE snack.

Be honest…if your kid tends to throw more fits after a birthday party (SUGAR) or after a long day at the zoo or fair is burnt out…then consider that at Disney. It’s OK to miss a few things, especially if it prevents a melt-down. Consider cutting back on the treats (we allow ONE per day), consider NOT doing the night-time fun every night (perhaps every other), consider packing or renting a stroller for an older child to prevent (my legs are tired whining). Pack “distractions” for kids who get easily bored (waiting in line) or overwhelmed. Consider saving an experience for “next” time. For us…this is the Holiday Parties…I am dying to take the kids, but when the time is right.
With all these trips under my belt you would NOT believe what I have witnessed (not that this will be you); parents forcing crying kids on rides, kids climbing on chains, bars and displays, kids having over-tired meltdowns during the evening parade, kids begging for more and more treats/toys, parents yelling, screaming and dragging kids along. It’s hard…we ALL want to see and do it all…but we ALL have our limits. Some kids are scared of certain rides, some are just hungry, some are dehydrated and need to drink more water and EVERYONE needs to make sure they get plenty or rest…PLUS parents need breaks too.

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LOTS of healthy options at Disney…

For us…as long as I try to keep it healthy (packing healthy snacks/bars), limit sweets, provide LOTS of water (not milk, juice or soda) and make sure we ALL have plenty of sleep…our Disney vacations have always been 100% Magical and Amazing. But I also keep it real…I know my kids. And I know me. I know what I need to walk for a week straight, to deal with kids and a husband and to keep everyone together. I know what my husband needs (evening adult drink, lol) and I know what makes sense for us, for NOW, for THIS trip. I have dealt with a tantrum or two (not just from the kids) and although they weren’t that bad, I did learn from them. Disney is amazing, but it’s also BIG, long, loud, crazy, FUN, filled with sweet treats, shopping AND people. One needs to learn to adapt and “go with the flow” while also tending to all the needs of the group.

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Don’t forget to take time out for “play”…its NOT all about the rides.

I know some of this seems generic, but it’s about YOU, not what your friend did, your neighbor did or even what I did…it’s about what is GOOD for YOU. This is something I help all my clients with. I will have long chats about concerns and worries and help plan the best vacation per THEM, their needs. Each and every client/trip/family is different. It’s not something you can compare or copy…every trip is unique. One family’s favorite or ideal resort might not be yours, same with restaurants, rides and other activities.

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This TOY camera saved our trip last time…He took LOTS of “pictures”.

I post this…not as a deterrent to Disney, but as an honest account. This is something to think about and plan for…to have guidelines and back-up thoughts…to “practice” before you travel. To prepare and learn about all the “quiet” spots, children play areas and best resorts for a mid-day break (if needed).  To know when to push and when to alter your plans, lol.
**As a Travel Agent specializing in Disney vacations…it is my job to know the parks, resorts, restaurants, rides and attractions. It’s my job to see and do it all…it’s also my job to help and give advice to the best of my knowledge and expertise. Consider putting your trust in an agent whose FULL-TIME job is Disney, someone who knows more than just ONE resort. My services are 100% FREE if you book with me and as a Disney Vacation Planner…I book directly with Disney. Check me out – http://www.facebook.com/wordofmouse

Gettin’ Organized…Making Lists

Ok…so I am about 6 months out from our Disney Vacation.  This is about the time that I start making LISTS…yes I am a crazy list person.  But I do this to not only stay sane and organized but to save a few too.

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I find that shopping last minute for specific items not only makes me want to tear my hair out, but also costs more.  Not to mention the dreaded…I must get XYZ (insert Bathing Suit, Formal Dress, Matching Clothes HERE).  Plan Early and shop the Deals!

Also considering it’s almost summer and in 6+ months it will be fall/winter…finding summer items and accessories will get harder and harder to come by, not to mention pricey.  So I make my lists and shop as I normally would and if I see something on my list when already at Target or the Disney Store – SOLD and DONE.  No more last minute trips for sunscreen, a suit that fits, cover-ups, backpacks, Disney Tees and so on.  Shop early and save yourself the Headache…here is a general, ever changing list.

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Summer Time Deals to LOOK for:

  • Sunscreen
  • Sunglasses, Summer Hats – for ALL
  • Bathing Suits, Water Shoes, Cover-up, etc – For ALL
  • Clothes for the kids…for when you go. Perhaps get the next size up?? THINK SHORTS.
  • Disney TEES, Princess Attire, etc – Shop the Halloween section, shop DisneyStore Deals
  • SNACKS…often Target has deals on BULK snacks during summer

Back to School Items:

  • 1-2 Backpacks – One per parent perhaps
  • Soft-Side Cooler bag or Tote – I just got a deal on one from the DisneyStore
  • Highlighter, note pads, locker Magnet boards with dry-Erase Markers (Cruise)
  • Black Sharpie Markers – Autograph signing
  • Post-it notes – Cruise and for taking notes in general

General Searching:

  • Formal Dress/Accessories and Attire for family…also Sundresses – Cruise
  • Pirate Gear – Cruise
  • Other random items: Blister Band aids, Nightlights, Alarm Clocks, Clothing Pins (Cruise), Ziploc bags, etc.
  • Kids Entertainment – Coloring books, Airplane fun, Tablet apps, Headphones, etc.
  • Disney Gift Cards – if you see a deal
  • Get NEW shoes and start breaking them in…DON’T wear straight from the box.
  • Camera and other Memory Making items…read manual, practice, practice, practice.

NOW is also a good time to search Etsy.com for Matching tees, embroidered outfits for the kids or any other Custom items.

**Also NOTE…I love to purchase lightweight Princess Night-Gowns verses Full-on Fancy dresses…DisneyStore and Kohl’s always has a cute selection and they are perfect for the sunny/hot weather.

I am a Disney Vacation Planner, AKA Disney Travel Agent.  As always my SERVICES are 100% FREE if you book with me and you gain all my Travel and Kid tested tips, advice and HELP.  Check me out: www.facebook.com/wordofmouse or @mermaidninatravels (https://www.instagram.com/mermaidninatravels/?hl=en)

Disney Dining…the “PLAN”

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The Disney Dining Meal Plan is something I whole-heartily LOVE, especially for those with Food Allergies.  We get it EVERY trip…and yes I have to pay the same price as everyone else…no kickbacks for this gal 😦   But for some reason the “meal plan” concept can confuse many and I mean many people.  In fact it’s one of the most popular questions from my clients…a daily question for sure.  After years of booking Disney vacations and booking dining for other people…I find I have “experience” on the subject, lol.

So…in an attempt to Dis-Confuse you…here you go.  And in an effort to keep this simple, but yet detailed…I am only talking about the Basic plan, the middle plan, the Disney “Plus” plan, the Disney Dining Plan…as it seems to have many names these days.

The Disney Dining “Plus” Meal Plan includes…

  • 1 Table Service Meal Credit
  • 1 Quick Service Meal Credit
  • 1 Snack Credit
  • And 1 Refillable Mug (per person Ages 3+) – A great souvenir for home.
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Pick up at your resort, 4 different colors

Easy right…ummm for me it is…for others…they need more info…so keep reading

How many do I get?  And who gets it?

The number of credits you get are based on the number of nights you’re staying…so if you’re staying 7 nights and 8 days…that’s 7 credits per person (aged 3+).  So no matter how many days you’re spending at the parks…it’s based on nights staying at the resort.  As far as who gets it?  It’s for everyone in your party, everyone on your reservation…everyone that is aged 3 and up.  Those under 3 are not on the plan, do NOT get meal credits and do NOT get a mug…they can however eat off your plate (especially at a buffet meal) and in many cases a chef will make your portion a little larger knowing your also feeding a little one.

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You will get this when you check-in…a total summary breakdown.

Does everyone have to be on the plan? – YES, everyone on your RESORT reservation must have the same plan, the same everything actually.

Can I use the “Credit” at my Resort? – YES, you can use those credits anywhere on Disney property, were it is accepted.  Yes, some places do NOT accept the plan…but 99% of them do 🙂

So…how come some require 2 credits?  All the Dinner shows, Fine Dining experiences and Specially Restaurants (like Cinderella’s Royal Table) take 2 credits (as it’s more than just eating)…but the majority requires 1 credit, including most of the character meals.

What does a Table Service Meal, a Quick Service and a Snack mean?  Ah…the question of all questions.

  • A Table Service Meal…is basically all restaurants that have a waitress, that require a reservation, that are sit down. This includes the Character meals, any fun Themed dining and other yummy places.  They are either buffets or menu ordering.  Consider this your BIG meal, the meal that will fill you up the most…thus I plan for when I might be the hungriest.

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  • A Quick Service Meal…is basically all the other restaurants. They don’t take reservations, you don’t get a waitress and you seat yourself.  You walk up to the counter, order, take a seat and wait for either your beeper to go off or for your food to be brought out.  I often tell people to think of this as your “fast food” meal…but that seems to make people think you’re getting burgers and hotdogs…NO…there are plenty of awesome, yummy, healthy options at these places…and they go far beyond your typical fast food joint, by FAR.  Gourmet burritos, sandwiches, salads, yes burgers too, deluxe pizza, and so on.

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  • A Snack…a snack on the dining plan will be clearly labeled with a little icon symbol. But in general if the item is less than $5…it’s probably a snack credit.  But for the purpose of being detailed; dole whips, Mickey pretzels, popcorn, soda, bottle of water, fruit, bagel, cupcake, rice krispy treat, coffee, hummus/chips, ice cream, Mickey’s premium bar, etc are ALL snacks 🙂

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And this brings me to the BIG question:  How /when do I use these credits?  Now…this is something I do for my clients (for FREE)…I will walk you through the calendar, the parks and restaurants and find your family the best ones…for you.  Then we discuss the best time to eat these meals, based on your families’ specific needs…then I BOOK them for you…again for FREE.  So…this part of the planning is under control and I will walk you through it, step by step.  But for those that wonder…you can mix/match these credits…you are NOT required to use 1 per day or on a certain day.  They are your credits…so as long as you use them before midnight on the day you check-out…use to your needs and enjoyment.  And every time you use one (of any kind), your receipt will tell you how many you have left…so keep track.

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So…in major conclusion…I hope I helped clarify the meal plan.  In simple terms…you are purchasing credits; you’re paying for the meal before you dine…and at a discount.  Then when you’re at Disney…you click your Magicband (pay a tip if at a table service) and walk away.  No need to pinch pennies or skip the most expensive item on the menu…enjoy what you want since it’s already paid for.   And to get the most bang from your “credit”…you want to aim for the most expensive places and meal times.  But for us…we just aim for our favorites…the ones that make our trip the most magical, aka the Character Meals.  Those make and save our trip…they are entertaining and prevent me from standing in line after line to meet a Character…dining with them “kills two birds with one stone” (as the saying goes).

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Remember I am a FREE Disney Travel Agent…booking all Disney Vacations daily…my services are ALWAYS free when you book a trip with me.  I specialize in food allergies and special diets at Disney…and with all our Food “issues”…I am the perfect gal to help you with your food choices.

Contact me anytime – Nina 734-890-2350 or Nina@goTMCtravel.com

Memory Maker Saved My Vacation…

Say What?  It’s true, I LOVE Memory Maker.  I’ve been to Disney more times than I can count, been visiting the”D” since childhood and it wasn’t until I had Memory Maker that I felt a little weight lifted off my shoulders.

As a mom, it is very important to me that I capture all my families’ memories…the baby years, childhood, firsts, birthdays, celebrations and family vacations.  So…as the “one & only” person who can use a camera…it lands on me; it’s my job, my responsibility, my stress.  I am always trying to capture the perfect shot; the best view, the ideal angle and the perfect expression.  And with all this…I am NEVER in the picture, since I am the one taking them.  So…all our family gatherings, vacations, birthdays…momma is always missing 😦

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Well NOT anymore thanks to Memory Maker…So “For the First Time in Forever”…I am FINALLY in the picture!  And I am not the one who picks the spot, the background or the lighting.  It’s Easy, Breezy and Beautiful.  The only thing I really need to do is a: Purchase Memory Maker, b: Be on the lookout for all the Photographers and c: Look Pretty 🙂

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But for those that want the “knitty-gritty” information…here you go:

  • It’s $169. Yep…but only if you get prior to your vacation…if you wait until you’re at the Parks…It’s $199 (ouch)
  • It Includes ALL pictures taken of your family:
    • All Pictures taken from Disney’s PhotoPass Photographers
    • All Pictures taken while on a ride or attraction (Toy Story Mania)
    • All Pictures from any Character Dining (some have photographers, some don’t)
    • All Videos from rides that have that option (7DMT)
  • All Members of your party can use it, can get their pictures taken (with or without you)
  • All Pictures can be downloaded when you get home; print, make a CD, turn into gifts (photobooks)
  • All Pictures can be uploaded (via the site) almost automatically…so you can FB, tweet, email from Disney.

Side Notes:

  • Only the person who purchased Memory Maker can download the pictures…unless you share your password.
  • When you get home…you can add magical touches to all your pictures; backgrounds, banners, pixie dust, magic.
  • To make the most of this…seek out every single photographer you can find.
  • Ask about any “Magic Shots”.
  • Your MagicBand automatically links your pictures to your account…so click away.
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Embrace your “Disney-Side” as you never know what kind of magic will happen.

In all honestly…not all my 200+ pictures were awesome…but there were plenty that were and so many that I was just glad someone captured…even the silly ones (gotta do the silly ones).  So even though (in some) my eyes were closed, my kids weren’t looking or it was too dark to really see us…I did get the one of me & Ariel (my BFF), my son & Goofy and my daughter kissing Minnie.  Then of course there was the video of DD and me turning green on 7DMT and the hubby and I with Olaf and his Magical Flurry.

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And…I was in ALL of them and I didn’t have to take a single picture (LOL).  Ok I took 2000+ pictures this past trip…but that’s my job…capturing the magic of Disney…food, resorts, bathrooms, hidden Mickey, etc (all get captured by me)…but I didn’t have to stress about capturing the important ones for my family…that job was Disney’s…and they ROCKed it.

I hope this little segment on Memory Maker has helped you.  For most of my clients I think it’s a great idea, the perfect family souvenir.  But in some cases I say…just hand the photographer your personal camera, like when you’re going for only 2 days as the $169 price tag can be steep.  But for large families, people going for longer vacations…I say it’s a must.  And for the record…200 pictures can be a low number…I have many clients who get like 400.  It all depends on how eager you are at finding those cameras.

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As usual I am a FREE Magical Vacation Planner, Booking ALL Disney Destination Vacations – Contact me TODAY.  Nina – 734-890-2350 or Nina@goTMCtravel.com