Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Collectible Walt Disney World-Vinylmation and a Giveaway!

Many guests come away from a Walt Disney World vacation with cool new souvenirs for friends and family.  Others like to bring home things for themselves...after all, having a fun reminder of your awesome WDW vacation can bring back happy memories of your trip! 

Souvenirs are a great way to remember your vacation

One thing many repeat visitors love to do is start a collection that they add to with each trip.  For example, I used to collect Disney ornaments.  Every trip I would stop in to the Disney’s Days of Christmas store at Downtown Disney to get a new ornament for our Christmas tree.  I only stopped when we stopped putting up the tree every year due to space constraints in the apartment we had moved into.  Some people collect Mickey ear hats, others collect the pressed pennies you can find around the parks and of course tons of guests love to collect Disney can even trade pins with Cast Members and other guests.

Then in 2008, a new souvenir was introduced-Vinylmation figures.  These figures all come in the shape of Mickey Mouse, but are all decorated or colored to represent different things.  Some are solid colors, some are decorated to look like other Disney characters, others are colored to represent sports teams and so on.  They come in different sizes from tiny 1.5” figures to 3” all the way up to 9”...and just like with any collectible you can find prices from the quite cheap to the obscenely expensive.  But your average 3” figure starts at about $12.95 and goes up from there based on design and how many of that type of figure have been produced.  And just like the pins, guests like to trade the Vinylmation figures too.  They are a fun and cute way to remember your vacation and most everyone should be able to find one they like.
Aren't these guys just adorable?
Think you might like to start a collection of your own?  After all, $12.95 is about half the price of most t-shirts you’ll find in the parks and a Vinylmation wil most likely last you a heck of a lot longer than a t-shirt anyway.  Plus, some of these are just so darn cute!  I was able to procure several figures and decided to sponsor a giveaway for my readers.  So to start off I’ll be giving away this adorable Goofy-design 3” Vinylmation from the Color Block series.  A great way to start a collection of your own, or add to an existing collection...or even use it to trade!  I’ll be giving away one Vinylmation each month for the next few months to a lucky reader.  Interested in your own Vinylmation figure?  Here's the first Vinylmation giveaway-enter using the Rafflecopter widget at the end-and don't forget to share the giveaway with friends, family and anyone else who loves Disney:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Tuesday Tip-A Little Extra Magic for Those Celebrating While at Walt Disney World

Will you be celebrating something during your Walt Disney World Trip?  Maybe a birthday, an anniversary, engagement, marriage or a personal triumph?  Make sure you have your travel agent note this on your reservation (or you can do this yourself if you prefer making the reservation on your own). Normally when you check in to your WDW resort, the Cast Member will see the notation and offer you a pin to wear to show what you are celebrating:
For the birthday one, the Cast Member will write your name on the button (or have you write it) and when you're wearing it other Cast Members will tell you Happy Birthday.  You could actually write things on any of the buttons-like for the Personal Triumph--maybe you're running your first half or full marathon at WDW, you could put that on the button; or you and your spouse's names on the anniversary, engaged or just married buttons, etc.  Cast Members will congratulate you when they see it.

If it's not offered at check-in (for example, if it was listed on your reservation too close to your trip so the resort didn't receive the information), be sure to let the Cast Member who is checking you in know you are celebrating something and if the buttons aren't offered, just ask for them--they'll be happy to provide them.

Just another way Disney likes to add a little magic to your vacation!

Have you ever gotten a celebration button while at WDW?  I've gotten the birthday, anniversary and "I'm Celebrating!" ones before :-)

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Where in Walt Disney World am I Wednesday

Where at the Walt Disney World Resort can you find this little outdoor pub?  Bonus points if you can name the buildings on either side of it :-)

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Tuesday Tip-Wake-Up Calls at Walt Disney World Resorts

For a much more fun start to your day when staying at a Walt Disney World Resort hotel, request a wake-up call instead of using an alarm clock or your cell phone.  When the call comes, it will be a Disney character on the other end of the line!

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

WDW Quick Tip-Parking at the Walt Disney World Theme Parks

Driving to the Walt Disney World theme parks can be quick and convenient, and if you stay at a Disney resort, you don't have to pay the parking fee-which for cars is currently $14 per day!  One thing you'll want to do if you decide to drive yourself instead of taking Disney resort transportation is to remember where you park.  The parking lots for the WDW theme parks are HUGE.  The Magic Kingdom's lot at the Transportation and Ticket Center is one of the largest in the world and can hold more than 12,000 cars.  Epcot's lot holds over 11,000; Disney's Hollywood Studios and Animal Kingdom hold over 6,000 each.  And if you happen to visit on a very crowded day, forgetting where you parked your car can turn your fun vacation day into a nightmare.

WDW's parking lots are all named and numbered.  For example, Animal Kingdom's lots are named after animals (well, that should have been obvious, right?), such as Unicorn, Butterfly and Giraffe.  At Disney's Hollywood Studios, you could be parking in lot called Film or Television, at Epcot there's Create, Discover, Amaze and more.  Examples from the Magic Kingdom include Peter Pan, Ursula, Woody and Zurg.

If you have a pen and paper, you could write down where you parked.  Many guests save the information in their cell phones.  My favorite tip, though?  Take a picture-preferably with your cell phone, especially if your regular camera doesn't have a screen to view your pictures (the picture you took with it would be kind of worthless then LOL):
This will make it a lot easier at the end of the day to locate your car-unless you really feel like you need the extra exercise ;-)

An extra tidbit about the Magic Kingdom's parking lots...they are divided between the "Heroes" lots and the "Villains" lots.  Heroes include Peter Pan, Rapunzel, Aladdin, Woody, Mulan and Simba.  Villains include Cruella, Ursula, Jafar, Hook, Zurg and Scar.  This is important because there are two separate tram lines depending on where you parked.  If you parked in one of the Heroes lots and you get on the Villains tram,'re not going to get to your car and will have to ride the tram back to the Transportation and Ticket Center, then get on the Heroes tram instead.  A bit confusing if you're not paying attention, so just keep this in mind when you park as well.

If you forget where you parked and can't find your note, deleted your photo or something else happens, you can flag down one of the Disney security vehicles that patrol the lots for assistance.  If you can provide the time that you arrived and parked, they may even be able to help narrow down the search for you to a particular lot that was being filled at that time. 

Have you ever forgotten where you've parked at Walt Disney World's theme parks?  What's your favorite tip for remembering your lot and row?

Monday, May 6, 2013

Late Summer/Early Fall 2013 WDW Offers: FREE Disney Dining, Late Summer/Early Fall Room Only Discount

Just in time for those of you who have already started thinking about your Late Summer/Early Fall trips, Walt Disney World just released two promotions today.  They are available right now for Disney VISA cardholders (debit or credit) for advanced booking, but both promotions will be released to the general public on May 9th.  Here’s the details:

FREE Dining Offer
“You can treat your family to a special offer: a great Disney vacation complete with meals!  Get a FREE dining plan when you purchase a non-discounted 5-night/6-day Magic Your Way room and ticket package at select Walt Disney World® Resort hotels valid for arrival most nights September 2 - September 25, 2013.”

Guests staying at select Disney Value Resorts will get the Quick Service Dining Plan for free.  The Quick Service plan will get you two Quick Service Meals and one snack per person, per night of your stay.  Staying at select Moderate, Deluxe or Deluxe Villa Resorts and you’ll get the regular Disney Dining Plan for free.  The regular plan includes one Quick Service Meal, one Table Service Meal and one snack per person, per night of your stay plus each person gets one Resort refillable drink mug.

Want a higher dining plan?  You can always upgrade for an additional charge.

Remember, this is part of a package with room and tickets so you only need a deposit of $200 to book it with the final payment due 45 days before your check-in date (and you can make smaller payments along the way if you don’t want one lump payment at the due date).

Late Summer/Early Fall Room-Only Discount Offer
Don’t need the dining plan?  Not to worry, a room-only discount was also released today.  “Be close to the heart of all the magic, from the Theme Parks and entertainment to exciting nightlife, shopping and more. Save up to 30% when you stay at a select Walt Disney World® Resort hotel for stays most nights 8/15 - 9/28/2013.”  Room-only bookings only need a deposit equal to your first night's stay and you pay the balance when you check in...though you can always make smaller payments along the way for this type of booking as well.

Here’s the breakdown:
Value Resorts-Family Suites-save 15%
Art of Animation

Value Resorts-save 20%
All-Star Sports
All-Star Music
Pop Century

Moderate Resorts-save 25%
Coronado Springs
Caribbean Beach
Port Orleans-Riverside
Fort Wilderness Cabins

Deluxe Resorts-save 20%
Grand Floridian

Deluxe and Deluxe Villa Resorts-save 30%
Yacht & Beach Club
BoardWalk Inn
Animal Kingdom Lodge (standard/pool view rooms)
Contemporary (standard/lake view rooms)
Wilderness Lodge
Saratoga Springs 
Old Key West
BoardWalk Villas
The Villas at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge
Beach Club Villas

The FREE Dining discount and the Room-Only discount are not available for stays in the 3-bedroom villas, campsites or Art of Animation-Little Mermaid standard rooms; the room-only discount must be booked by 7/31/2013.  Both discounts are available to Disney VISA cardholders for advanced booking thru May 8th, then on May 9th the discounts will be released to the general public.

So, which is the better way to go?  That all depends on how you and your family eat on vacation.  If you’ll use all the meal credits and don’t want to go off property to eat, the FREE Dining offer may work better for you.  If you’re like me and do go off property for some meals or use reward certificates for those on-property restaurants that take them-like Rainforest Cafe (I use my MyPoints to get gift cards here) or House of Blues (they have certificates on from time to time), the room-only offer could be the better option (for more about why I don’t use the Disney Dining Plan, click here).  You’ll need to sit down and figure out the math each way to see what will work better...or just contact me and I can quote your vacation both ways for you.  Don’t worry, there’s no extra charge for my services-and if your package is $2500 or higher, I’ll  even throw in a $25 Disney gift card for your trip.

And don't forget-Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party dates start in September so you can add tickets for the party to your trip as well for a lot of extra fun.

So, which offer would you choose?

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

2013 Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party dates and pricing

Dates and pricing are finally out for this year’s Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party!  What better way to celebrate Halloween then by putting on your costume and trick-or-treating through the Magic Kingdom?  With the unique Boo-to-You parade-preceded by the Headless Horseman-and a special Happy HalloWishes fireworks show, you’re sure to have a fantastic time!  I’ve got an In Depth Mickey’s No So Scary Halloween Party post that I put up last year with lots of info if you’re wondering what all the fuss...I mean fun! all about.

Advanced sale prices-this is the pricing if you purchase your tickets online before the party...which I would highly recommend.  You can even print out your e-ticket to bring to the park so you don’t have to pick up at will-call.  If you buy tickets the same day, expect to pay $6 per ticket more for September dates (except 9/29) and $5 per ticket more for 9/29 and October dates (and 11/1).  10/11, 10/18, 10/25 and 10/31 do not have an advanced sale price-the price you see listed here is the same whether you buy ahead of time or not.  Note that all prices listed do not include tax:

Tuesdays-9/10, 9/17, 9/14 ($59/adult, $54/ages 3-9)
Fridays-9/13, 9/20, 9/27 ($59/adult, $54/ages 3-9)
Sunday-9/29 ($62/adult, $57/ages 3-9)

Sundays-10/6, 10/20, 10/27 ($62/adult, $57/ages 3-9)
Monday-10/14 ($62/adult, $57/ages 3-9)
Tuesdays-10/22, 10/29 ($62/adult, $57/ages 3-9)
Thursdays-10/3, 10/10, 10/17, 10/24 ($62/adult, $57/ages 3-9); 10/31 ($73/adult, $68/ages 3-9)
Fridays-10/4 ($62/adult, $57/ages 3-9); 10/11, 10/18, 10/25 ($67/adult, $62/ages 3-9)

Friday-11/1 ($62/adult, $57/ages 3-9)

There is a fantastic Military Discount available-adult tickets are only $41.30, child tickets (ages 3-9) are only $37.80 with the discount for all September dates except 9/29; all other dates are regular price.  There are also Passholder and DVC discounts-September dates (except 9/29) are $56/adult, $51/ages 3-9; 9/29, 10/3, 10/6, 10/10, 10/14, 10/17, 10/20, 10/22 and 10/24 are $58/adult, $53/ages 3-9.  All other dates are regular price.

One thing I do recommend if you’re tight on your ticket budget is using the party as your Magic Kingdom day if you were planning on going to the party anyway.  You can get into the park as early as 4pm (even though the party doesn’t officially start until 7pm) and stay until midnight--8 whole hours!  That’s lots of time to enjoy the park, especially since a limited number of tickets is sold for each party so lines should be quite a bit shorter than during the day.

By the way, if you want to go to the party on Halloween (10/31), be sure to get your tickets early.  That’s the one night you can be sure will sell out earlier than you surprise, right?

Have a fantastic time, and don’t forget-if you’d like assistance planning and booking your trip, just let me know...I’d be happy to help!

Do you plan on going to the Halloween Party this year?  I do!