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)

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

7DMT – Friend or Foe?

One of the biggest things to happen to Walt Disney World in 2014 was the Grand Opening of the “Seven Dwarf Mine Train”.  News, Updates and Rumors had been circulating for months leading up to the final day when everyday peeps could test the ride for themselves.  The best part to me was the “recycling” of some of the original props from the scary Snow White ride that once resided in Fantasyland; I couldn’t wait to discover their new homes.

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This new coaster was labeled a “Family Coaster” so I figured I could handle it and if not it’s only like 45 seconds long…so for 45 seconds I thought I could deal with whatever was headed my way.  For the record I have a HUGE issue with Motion Sickness…something I have been battling with since a child and something that seems to have gotten worse since having babies…but I thought…what the heck…I’m gonna try this thing…and even better…I’m gonna bribe my 5 year old to join me, lol.  It also should be noted that I refuse to go on anything too crazy…no upside down things for me.

So in preparation for this ride…as you should all do if you’re slightly hesitant or have coaster “first timers”, aka kids – I purposely fastpassed on our LAST Magic Kingdom Day and I purposely selected a time hours after our meal.  And like I said…I bribed my kid to join me…we walked past this ride several times before going and she felt that she could totally do this thing…plus the idea of getting a prized souvenir helped.

For those doing the stand-by line…there is an awesome interactive queue to enjoy and experience, but I needed quick and painless…the thought of getting further anxious while in a long line wasn’t happening.  For fastpassers…you walk right in and practically on.  I had done a little research before this day and concluded that riding in the front had less “rocking” motion as each individual car rocks back and forth like a real mine car.  So front row we got.  To see a Video…go to my FB page and click videos – http://www.facebook.com/wordofmouse

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As you can see…we were terrified…turned green and were lucky to not lose our breakfast.  I couldn’t walk for hours after and kept needing to “sit” down and rest.  My equilibrium was totally off and sitting was the only way for the floor to stop moving.  DD was ok and wasn’t as affected as me, but to this day talks about the “worst” ride ever.  I slowly recovered and was able to continue on with our magical day…but I will never go on that ride again, lol.  So should you give it a try?  Sure, why not, lol.  If you look at the people behind us…they were all having a blast and screaming happy screams.  I will say that my favorite part, other than getting out, was the fun animatronics you see mid-ride and the finale – At the very end of the ride…you witness Snow White singing and dancing with the 7 Dwarfs.  Just watch out for the front door 😉

So for those that are going to give this a go…good for you.  I found the ride to have fun theming and loved the decor and surrounding atmosphere.  I just wish I could keep my head up long enough to really see the magical efforts of Disney Imagineers, sorry guys.  In the end I am glad I did it, because now I can say I did…but I do wish I could get those few sick hours back…Disney you owe me, lol.  A Mickey Pretzel and a bottle of water calmed my nerves and after enjoying Country Bear Jamboree for a spell…I was back on my feet and ready for more Magic.  And for those that are wondering…it is a lot like “Thunder Mountain”…just shorter and slight calmer (I think)…and Yes I have ridden Thunder Mountain (at both WDW and DL) many, many times…sometimes with success and a few times…not good.

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The Seven Dwarf’s Cottage

For those that would love the help of someone with motion sickness – I’m your gal.  I know all the tricks and what rides to avoid and which ones to cling too and ride over & over again.  Heck sometimes the mini hill on Pirates gives me that not so good feeling, but I just close my eyes, hold my stomach and wait for the mini splash, lol.  I have also heard of people taking Dramamine in preparation for such situations, but I have never done that outside of rides in the car.

Enjoy and Make sure to “Whistle While you Work”…I know I do or would if I could whistle.

Garden Grill – a Rotating Experience…

First I want to say that this dining experience was HANDS-DOWN my favorite this past trip…based solely on the fact that I was stuffed FULL…even the thought of unbuttoning my pants came to mind.

My family might not entirely agree…but that’s opinions for you…but me – I still dream of that meal.

I must point out that due to my family’s eating restrictions and food allergies…we aren’t the easiest group to please, feed and sometimes see completely full.  We are a happy, thankful bunch…but we do require some thought and preparation.  Between my kids and I…there are at least 8 food allergies and several avoidances…and to make matters more fun…I am vegan.  The husband is an eat everything kind of guy and pretty much left every meal full and happy…but even he has his favorites (stay-tuned).

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So…the Garden Grill is a table service restaurant at Epcot…located in the Land Pavilion…and it rotates.  Yep…it’s a rotating diner…and for those with motion sickness (join the club)…it’s very, very slow…but we managed to rotate completely around at least 1 time during our meal.  And to make it even cooler…it’s a character experience…bring on Harvest Chip & Dale and pals.  We ate with Chip & Dale (of course), Pluto and Mickey.  It is a dinner only location and is family style…meaning the wait staff brings the table an assortment of eats and you just dig in.  My husband who ate the traditional meal everyone enjoys found it to be OK…not his particular favorite, but he ate it all.  What was wrong with his meal you ask…nothing…he just likes to order from a menu.

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So before I get to my eats…I want to point out that as you eat, dine and chat…the Characters walk around and stop at every table for a few minutes…just enough time to get an autograph and snap a few pictures.  Since we had special food accommodations…we sat a little longer than others and saw all the characters twice – major bonus.

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Since we have 3 different people, all with different allergies…I often contact the restaurant before dining…I send an email and anxiously await a phone call.  I was lucky as Chef Javier called me, while I was at home about 10 days before my trip started, and we discussed meals.  We talked about the traditional menu that is offered and tried to find solutions for my family.  Most of the usual options available were perfect for us (sweet potato fries, mashed potatoes, veggies, gluten-free rolls and so on…but I couldn’t help but to ask for a few changes…first due to the abundance of chicken at Disney I asked about a hamburger patty for my daughter and also a special dessert.  As the restaurant doesn’t make burgers the chef was kind enough to order beef and make my kid a few special patties just for her.  And for me…I wasn’t fond of the traditional veggie dish on the menu…”stuff peppers” and sides.  I requested vegan meat (not typical for that location)…and he delivered.

So…fast forward to that night…we arrived 10 minutes before our scheduled dining reservation…we waited for the restaurant to open and we were seated promptly.  I was prepared to have to wait several minutes for the Chef…nope not Chef Javier…he had been cooking for my family already…waiting for us actually.  He already had ALL our food in the oven (no grilling or frying due to cross-contamination) and was waiting for us to finish our salads.  He warned me that his goal…”was to have us ROLL out of here”, lol.  I did for sure.  To my surprise he was able to deliver ALL my requests and they were delicious.  The vegan dish he “made-up” with the vegan beef was amazing and with all the sides…I was stuffed.  My son (dairy, eggs, and peanuts) was able to share my dish and was shoving it in.  My daughter (dairy, GF, peanuts, legumes, corn, and red dye) was able to cut her giant burger patties in half and eat with her GF buns…to make a quick burger.

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Dessert wasn’t as grand…but still had enough sweetness to finish the meal.  He was able to simplify the traditional dessert by using “Enjoy Life” cookies and fresh fruit filling, no whip and created a crumb-like fruit dish.

Major shout-out for Chef Javier that night and many thanks.  I enjoyed my meal SO much…I asked to speak to a manager and shared my happiness…apparently the Chef was gonna get some company shout-outs after dinner thanks to his awesomeness.

I also want to point out that getting a call from the chef before your trip is not typical…they are busy, busy bees and usually can accommodate your special food requests “the night of”…but due to our various allergies…I usually get a call and thus can request special items.  This is also something I can help you with as your Travel Agent…all services I provide for free when booking your Disney trip with me.  When it comes to food allergies, eating “out” is often a stressful event…but being prepared helps and when your family leaves the table safe and full…well that’s a huge success in my book.  Disney does an excellent job at accommodating food allergies and does it on a daily basis…so let me help you relieve the stress and help you enjoy food time for a change…you deserve it.

Quick Service…Say What?

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What is a Quick Service (QS)?  Where are Quick Services?  What Quick Services are on the meal plan?  How many Quick Services do I get on the meal plan?  What are your favorite quick services, what’s most popular?  And the questions go on and on.  I get questions about QS almost daily…and yet…even after my explanation, things still seem fuzzy, lol.  So here you go…the ins/out of quick service meals.

Quick Service restaurants are basically fast food restaurants…you don’t need a reservation, you don’t have a waitress and you don’t leave a tip.  At Disney…quick services places are, IMO, a major step up from fast food with quality food…but that’s the best way to describe them.  You order your food from a menu on the wall above the cashier, you wait for your food, you take it to a table, you eat and then you walk away (cleaning up is preferable).  Simple and Easy.

Most quick services places at Disney are set-up more like Cafeterias…multiple ordering windows, some with windows that only offer a certain types of food; salads here, burgers here, sandwiches here, dessert here…that kind of thing.  The larger ones can be a bit overwhelming…but any cast member is willing to help explain things to you.  If you are a little nervous…try going at a non-popular dining time; 11am instead of noon, 4:30 instead of 5-6:00pm.

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My kids loved this..how to get your plastic-ware – Sanitary

Where are Quick Services located; umm…they are everywhere.  All Disney resorts have them, all Disney parks including the waterparks have them and even Downtown Disney has them.  They are located in almost every land within a park and pretty much all of them are on the Disney Dining plan…which means you can dine at them all using your meal credits.  So can I dine at one at a different resort from where I am staying? – YES.  Can I eat at the parks even though I am on the plan? – YES.  Can I eat at more than 1 per day? – YES.  You can dine at a quick service as often as you want…just be careful because if you are on the plan…you are only allotted so many…so if you power through all of them…you will need to pay out of pocket for the rest.

Meal credit on the Disney dining plan depend on 1: what plan you’re on and 2: how many nights you are staying.  So if you are staying 8 days, 7 nights…you get 7 on the regular “plus” dining plan…but don’t forget  to count your table service meals too (a different post).  If you are on the Quick service plan…you’d get 14 total QS meals.

My Favs…Oh this is tough.  I like different QS for different reasons; some for the atmosphere, some for the selection and some for just one particular dish, lol.  But here is a quick, quick service list:

  • Tortuga Tavern (MK, near Pirates…) – LOVE the burrito and the unlimited toppings bar (open 11-3pm) so plan ahead.
  • Pinocchio Village Haus – (MK) – eat and watch fellow guests on “Small World” with flatbread pizza/pasta.
  • Sunshine Seasons – (Epcot) – So many options, so little time. Lots of treats for Food Allergy peeps too.
  • Flame Tree BBQ – (AK) – a favorite amongst my clients – Apparently killer BBQ
  • Pizza Planet Arcade (HS) – Need I say more, lol. Yummy fun Pizza – Kids paradise.
  • Earl of Sandwich (Downtown Disney) – Sandwich, after giant mouthwatering sandwich

As far as most popular…one of the perks of booking with me…is right before your travel date I send you a tip card with all the yummy QS listed…that way when you’re in Tomorrowland and hunger strikes…you can easily look up the best QS in the area.  And don’t worry Food Allergy and Special Diet peeps…I have a special card for you too.

Disney is my home away from home and I LOVE to eat and try new dining experiences…I also have 2 kids with food allergies so I am more than familiar with my way around Disney dining and special accommodations for my family.  Contact me today and let me show you how magical your vacation can really be…the smart and prepared way.  Nina@goTMCtravel.com or 734-890-2350 – FREE Disney Vacation Planning (I promise).

A “Napper” at Disney…

So…as a Mother of two little ones I have vast experience with this…not to mention it’s a very popular question amongst my clients.  Now…this post isn’t about the importance of napping, quiet time or resting…it’s about the “how to”.  And PS – Napping is highly RECOMMENDED; especially for younger ones and families doing an “All Day” experience.

In my opinion there is really only 3 ways to “nap” at Disney; in room, in stroller or my new favorite…on Mamma (or Dadda).

  • Napping in room, aka your resort room is the obvious choice…but is it the best?  First you have to leave the park, take a bus (or hop the monorail) then quiet down the fam, close the curtains, turn off the lights and hope & pray the kid(s) nap.  Now…this option is awesome when everyone wants to nap and will nap.  It’s perfect for families who travel often and are use to sleeping in one room or families that co-sleep.  It’s also great when a young family only has one kid.  The family with one kid can put the baby (tot) to nap while mom and dad sit out on the patio and discuss the day.

We did this one vacation and I can honestly say it worked out great.  Did I want to leave the park, NO…Did I like missing out on a few hours of potential play time, NO…but did it ruin my vacation, NO…my then 2 year old slept everyday like a champ and was then ready to tackle the evening for a few more short hours (we are early sleepers).  Now what saved us was not sitting and waiting around for 2-3 hours (everyday)…I packed her pack n’play tent (see pic), her baby monitor and we were able to walk the grounds a bit, grab a snack and return to the patio knowing she was safe.  Many people saw us and wondered where the baby was, asked if we had “grandma” with us…I mentioned the monitor and everyone was in awe.  So that’s my secret…enjoy.

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Pack N’ Play (provided by resort) – Tent I packed…Keeps kid safe.

Of course some could nap, some could play (swim)…but unless that napper is really, really tired…they might not want to miss out on any fun…so beware of that.

  • Napping in the stroller; I must confess that I have never done this but after several trips to Disney and watching other parents…I kinda have an insight.  First the perk is…you stay in the park, you don’t have to leave thus you can enjoy more rides and more park fun…however…if you have a napper in the stroller someone either needs to wait with the napper while others play or you wake the grumpy napper.  In my opinion this option doesn’t seem totally convenient, but if you have grandma with you who really doesn’t want to ride the rides or the parents switch off – it can be done.  But beware…hot sweaty kid in hot stroller might equal some unpleasant results…so remember sunscreen, get a shade and hydrate when awake.

Of course you could take that time to shop the air-conditioned stores and get your spending on…but do you want to do that everyday – just something to think about.

  • Napping on Mom, aka baby wearing; this is my new favorite way to nap at Disney…why?  One major reason…you can still ride the rides, that’s right…if the kid can ride it awake, you can ride it when “wearing” them.  This was basically our only option this past trip…the older kid didn’t want to leave (neither did I) and the napper was never going to nap in the room anyways (not a napper at home)…so I brought the baby carrier and hoped for the best.  He napped everyday for 2-3 hours…on me.  It was hard to use the restroom and getting in/out of the rides reminded me of pregnancy, lol – but it was awesome.  We still enjoyed ourselves and he had an awesome nap.  For the record he is 2.5 and about 32lbs.  I wasn’t in pain, my shoulders didn’t hurt and no…I did not trip.  I was able to ride Pirates of the Caribbean, Jungle Cruise and other similar rides, no rollercoasters obviously.  In fact I joke because he fell asleep in Mexico and woke up in Canada…he slept through the entire World Showcase, lol.
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Napping in front of Beasts Castle

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A Mermaid Experience…

Guess who just came back from “the Happiest place in the World”…Me, Me, Me!!  So I have LOTS to blog about, but I thought I’d start off with a post about the inspiration for this blog…My Favorite Princess.  Are YOU thinking about one of the Frozen Sisters?…nope guess again, lol

Ah…you got it…Ariel.

Thanks to the creation of NEW Fantasyland…Ariel has a proper place in Magic Kingdom.  Amongst Eric’s Castle you will find a clam shell ride (Under the Sea – The Journey of the Little Mermaid) featuring many of Ariel’s friends and one majestic Ursula.  Ursula totally steals the show; in my opinion…she was amazing.  I found the rest of the attraction to be a little quick and had wished Ariel had as much animation as Ursula did…but still the ride is a must and I wish I could have experienced it again and again.

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As you exit “Under the Sea…” you are just a few steps away from meeting Ariel herself.  Now this is Ariel the Little Mermaid, not Ariel with “human legs”…but Mermaid Ariel has always been my favorite so I was just as excited or perhaps more than my 5 year old.  We entered “Ariel’s Grotto” hoping for as much theming and amazement as the rest of the area (which is very cool)…but sadly I found inside her grotto to be a little lax in decor.  I had wished for more fish, seashells, seaweed, treasures a trove, something…but I digress.

We waited an amazing 20 minutes to meet the wonderful mermaid.  My DD, of course, beamed from ear to ear with excitement but still thinking my smile was bigger.  Ariel and I had the most in-depth discussion regarding our favorite accessory.  We both agreed that no mermaid should be without her “dinglehopper” and suggested that I always keep one with me at all times…for which I showed her mine, lol.  She also gave me strict directions to an under the sea store where I can purchase her favorite Jellyfish gel, apparently this product is the reason her hair is so fluffy and doesn’t deflate in the Florida sun.  So…as soon as I get my mermaid fins…I’m there.

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Meeting Ariel was beyond Magical for me and my 5 year old.  Out of all the characters I (we) met this trip, she was the most talkative.  Anna was a close second (stay tuned).  I could have spent more time chatting but this land mermaid had fastpasses to get too.  But as Arial said…”Us redheads need to stick together”, so my new bestie and I will hang again soon.

And for those that want to know…we had fastpasses for “Under the Sea” at around 10am…directly after the ride we entered the grotto and as I said only waited 20 minutes.  I am not sure how long the wait usually is, but we had to walk through a few lines of chains before hitting the end of the line.  I found New Fantasyland to be rather crowded as the day progressed…so I would suggest hitting it first.  As a mom…I had planned out this experience (knowing to go early), but kept it underwraps as I didn’t want to disappoint the kids if Ariel was overly-popular that moment…so to my DD this was a total surprise, she had no idea what we were even doing until we saw the amazing mermaid…so my advice…go with the flow (but with a plan) and if the moment is right…strike and enjoy the memories.  Nothing is worse than a mini-mermaid melt down, lol.

Walt Disney World is an amazing place and truly magical…but the smarter you go, the better time you will have – saves time and money too.  Check out my “about Nina” section to contact me.