Disney’s Magical Express Not Offered In 2022

Disney Magical Express
Disney’s Magical Express was launched back in 2005 and quickly became a popular option for guests of the Walt Disney World Resorts for getting to and from the Orlando International Airport.  Given the service was complimentary to resort guests, it could save hundreds on your vacation by avoiding car rentals, shuttles or taxis.  There were many benefits to using the service and I had outlined them in my blog “What is Disney’s Magical Express

On January 11th, 2021 Disney Parks released a blog talking about “A Look Ahead at Walt Disney World Resort“.  In the article they announced changes including the end of the Magical Express service.

Vacationers have more options to choose from than ever for transportation, including ride-share services that save time and offer more flexibility to go where they want, when they want. In light of this shift, when Disney Resort hotel bookings open for stays in 2022, we will no longer offer Disney’s Magical Express service for airport transportation, starting with arrivals Jan. 1, 2022. We will continue to operate the service for new and existing reservations made at Disney Resort hotels for arrivals throughout 2021. Additionally, complimentary transportation options – such as buses, monorails and Disney Skyliner – will continue to be available within Walt Disney World Resort for Disney Resort hotel guests, including to and from all four theme parks.

Many Disney fans took to social media to share their disappointment of the announcements.  Some were actually quite funny and comical:

Disney’s Magical Express will continue to operate throughout 2021.  

Brightline announced in November 2020 that they had reached an agreement with Walt Disney World Resort to open a new train station at Disney Springs.  With this new train service it will connect Walt Disney World with Orlando International Airport.  The train is scheduled to open sometime in 2022.

How do you feel about the changes?  Will you be excited for the train option?

Been there, done that – and you’re going to Disney again?

Sleepy Hollow with CastleSomeone asked me today “how can you be excited about another trip to Walt Disney World, isn’t it the same as it was the last time you were there?”.   They were implying that I had already ‘been there, done that’.  Yes – I was there 2 months ago, and multiple times last year – but no, it never gets boring.

The next question I hear is “haven’t you seen it all?” – and the simple answer is NO!  Walt Disney World is always changing so there is something ‘new’ to see or do every time I visit.

Here’s why I’m excited about my next trip!

Different Resorts

I have stayed in all of the Walt Disney World Resort properties.  It took me a while to get to stay at the Yacht Club (I don’t know why I kept missing that one!) but I finally did it!  With each trip there is always something new to check out at a resort, so I like to mix it up!  There are so many different room types too – sometimes it’s nice to splurge on a more “resort based” vacation where you hang out and enjoy the resort more than the parks.  Splurging on a Cabin at Copper Creek would give you the whole “home away from home” feel to relax and enjoy, and you’re not far from the pool!

Night Time Shows

I’m always so excited as I love the night-time entertainment!  The big concern is how to decide between Rivers of Light, Epcot Forever, Star Wars fireworks & Fantasmic at Hollywood Stuidos and Happily Ever After and the Magic Kingdom?   I think I need more nights…

Pixie Dust Fan's Tee Public Store

Pixie Dust Fan’s Tee Public Store

New Dining

There is ALWAYS something new to eat – and this trip is no exception!  I could seriously eat the new desserts all week for every meal, but I do want to try at least 1 new restaurant on each trip.  It’s hard to decide sometimes because there are some great options.  Each trip brings a new dilemma of deciding between our tried and true favourites, or something new.

Shopping & New Merchandise

Yes – shopping is a bit part of my trip.  Wandering through the stores and seeing the new, unique and custom merchandise?  It’s so much fun.  I love to visit Disney Springs for just a regular “shopping day” but then I also have to hit all the stores in the parks.  Resort shops?  You don’t want to miss those because sometimes they have different things too!  You can find a lot of the merchandise online at ShopDisney.com but it’s not quite the same as when you can touch it.

Walt once said ‘Disneyland will never be completed. It will continue to grow as long as there is imagination left in the world.’  I’m so glad this vision is carried on at Walt Disney World, I continue to be amazed and inspired each time I step on the Disney property and revitalize my own imagination.

What keeps you going back?


Top 5 Myths About Using A Disney Travel Agent

Do not disturb I'm planning my Disney Vacation

Whether it’s your first Disney vacation or your hundredth, you should use a travel agent who specializes in Disney vacations.  This topic is debated frequently in many Facebook Groups, but I often see some big misconceptions given for reasons against it.  I decided it was time to correct some of that misinformation.

Here are my top 5 myths about booking with a reputable Disney Travel Agent

1.  You will pay extra

A good Disney Travel Agent never charges planning fees.  Your Disney vacation will cost the SAME as if you booked it directly with Disney yourself.  Instead of costing you money, they will tell you where you might be able to save some money or what ‘upgrades’ would be worth it.  

2.  You lose control of your vacation

Nothing could be FURTHER from the truth.  You can control as much or as little as you like!  You can book all of your own fastpasses, dining, Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique reservations and special events if that’s what you want to do.  The beauty is that if you don’t want to book those things – you have an agent who will do it for you free of charge.  Yes – they will get up at 6am or 7am to do this for you, but if you are an early bird – you can do it all yourself if you prefer.

Donald Duck Dream Along With Mickey

Donald Duck Dream Along With Mickey

3.  You don’t need one

Honestly, I need one…. and I’ve been visiting for over 40 years!  I don’t need one to do my fastpasses or dining (my sister does all that stuff!), but staying doing the legwork for changes to a vacation is priceless.  If there is a promotion, event, or website glitch that requires a call to Disney – the agent calls for you.  You don’t have to sit on hold for hours and HOURS when the room promotion comes out, or when you have to change dates because of a hurricane coming or a pandemic closing the parks – an agent does that for you.

4.  All of the information is online anyway

Sure, and you still can do your own research when you’re using a travel agent, but they’ll help you decipher the truth from the ‘click bait’ online.  We all have friends who have advice or read something somewhere, but how do you know what’s really going on?  Use an agent to bounce around ideas with your specific goals and family in mind.  Good agents draw on the tribal knowledge within their team and their own frequent experience to provide specific information tailored to your needs.  Why would you not want that extra resource at your disposal if it doesn’t cost you anything?

5.  They’re all the same

No, they aren’t all the same.  There are so many variables when choosing an agency to work with, and you need to make sure that they know what they’re doing!  Agencies with Disney’s EarMarked status indicates their level of experience and knowledge with Disney products.  It is important to find an agency with that status, but also an agency built by people who truly love what they do.  I recommend Pure Magic Vacations always.

Do you use a travel agent to book your Disney vacation?


What I learned travelling to Walt Disney World with 2 children under 5

Traveling with small children can be no easy feat, but the memories you make will be worth it in the end. I took my kids to Walt Disney World for their first trip when my daughter was 5 and my son was 2.5. They were, in my eyes, the perfect age to enjoy the magic but I got some valuable insight from the experience of traveling with 2 children under 5!

I have listed my top 5 tips based on the experience with my kids.

1.  Choose Your Commute Carefully!

Depending on where you’re traveling from, getting there can be a big decision. Are you going to drive or fly? It really comes down to what you think is best for your family, considering the cost and practicality of it. We chose to fly for the kids first trip so they could experience a plane and Disney’s Magical Express for the first time. If you’re flying make sure you pick good flight times, sometimes the cheapest, isn’t always the best. We had a 6am flight out of Toronto which meant having to leave our house at 2am! This was really hard on their little bodies (so much that my daughter was sick before we even left home). They ended up sleeping on the plane, which was great but if I had to do that again, that would be the one thing I’d change! If you choose to drive (which we have done since), make sure your kids are well entertained with books, movies, colouring books, etc. Maybe try doing a long day drive to test for motion sickness ahead of time.

Stuffed Animal On The Plane to Disney

All buckled up and ready to go!


2.  Bring Comforts From Home

When we were getting ready to go on our vacation, we wanted to make sure we packed comforts from home to not only help them feel safe and comfortable but also in case of any meltdowns that may happen (and they do happen). This could be a stuffed animal or toy, or even their favourite book. These small things will make a world of difference when your little one is feeling tired or overwhelmed with the busy days. My daughter had fun buckling in her stuffed sheep on the plane and one evening we came back to our room to find her barbies set up on the bed from the Mousekeeping Cast Members!

Barbies In A Pirate Bed At Disney Caribbean Beach Resort

3.  Bring Your Own Snacks

We made the decision to bring our own snacks and juice boxes from home. Yes, this added to the weight of our suitcases but it was a great idea that helped get through the days, and let’s face it, it’ll offset the weight of souvenirs coming home. We made our own trail mix and put it in Ziploc containers so that we could grab a cup a day for the kids to snack on. This is huge for parents with picky eaters! Then you know for sure they are going to eat something they like. The juice boxes we wrapped in a garbage bag for the way down, just in case a few decided to leak in our suitcases, and then the garbage bag doubled as a dirty laundry bag for the way home! We also put granola bars in containers so they didn’t get squished which helps give everyone, not just the kids, a little energy boost through the day.

4.  Bring A Stroller

If you have kids 5 and under, I strongly recommend bringing a stroller from home or renting one. We chose not to bring our double stroller so that we didn’t have to worry about it on the plane, but we made sure to put the rental in our budget when planning. We rented a double-stroller from Kingdom Strollers that could seat 100lbs on each side, came with a rain cover, shades that pulled all the way forward and the backs of the stroller laid down completely! It was a life (and back) saver! Not only was it great for giving the kids little legs a break, but it gave them a shady spot to sit and enjoy and snack. It also provided my son a great nap area because the back laid down completely. Even my daughter who was 5 used it to rest even though she wanted to go, go, go! Which brings me to my final point…

5.  Know Their Limits

If your little one is tired and needs a nap, let them! Don’t be worried about them missing out on things because everyone will feel better after they’ve napped. My son slept through the Festival of Fantasy parade in Magic Kingdom and Finding Nemo: The Musical in Animal Kingdom. They make for pretty cute pictures! You can also find shady areas to relax, like the Rapunzel rest area, or do a quiet, indoor attraction, like The Enchanted Tiki Room or Tomorrowland Transit Authority’s PeopleMover. There’s also no harm in going back to your resort for a rest and continuing with the day once everyone is freshened up! This reduces the risk of those unmagical meltdowns happening.

Matthew at Disney

Traveling with my kids when they were so young was such a rewarding and memorable experience. If I had to go back, I would take them again but even younger! I absolutely love the memories we made and the pictures we have from that trip, it’s still one of my favourite trips to Walt Disney World that I’ve ever taken!

Kids at Chef Mickey at Walt Disney World



Ashley at Pure Magic Vacations

Ashley at Pure Magic Vacations

Ashley’s love of Disney started at a very young age, watching Disney movies and sing-alongs.  Her family was fortunate enough to travel while she was growing up so she caught the travel bug quite early.

Ashley was only 10 years old on her first trip to Walt Disney World and she still loves it just as much as she did then.  In fact, she loves it so much that she honeymooned at Walt Disney World when she got married.  Now Ashley enjoys her Disney vacations with her family and when she’s not there – she’s helping other families plan their magical adventures.

Contact Ashley at Ashley@PureMagicVacations.ca

Follow Ashley on Facebook AshleyAtPureMagicVacations

Disney Facebook Groups – Some Aren’t So Magical After All

Disney Facebook GroupsI don’t know about you, but Facebook a part of my every day routine.  I love that I can sign in and see tidbits from people’s lives and connect with those that I don’t get to see often enough.  I have made some wonderful friends on Facebook from the Disney community, and it’s always fun to follow along on their vacations, getting ideas of things I might like to try the next time I visit.  I keep up to date on news and little gossip, but I always remember to take each piece of information with a grain of salt unless it comes from an official Disney source.

Disney groups on Facebook used to be a real source of entertainment for me.   I was always amazed by how perfect strangers can get so angry with each other over silly stuff, it was like the online version of the Real Housewives series.  I have to admit that I used to read these posts, but I rarely commented.  I would get out my popcorn, sit back and enjoy the show until an admin deleted the thread, but I just can’t do that anymore.

While there are a LOT of Dinsey groups on Facebook, there are a few that are managed by some real characters (pun intended!) that really bother me.   I’m not sure if it’s just my love of Disney that finds them offensive or the manner in which the Admins conduct themselves that disturbs me.  It’s expected that any really frequent visitor will have a few negative reviews or experiences in the parks.  We won’t like everything, but we can and should share those opinions in a manner that is useful and constructive to the community who are planning their vacation.

There are a couple of groups that drove me crazy that I had to remove myself from.  The first is one that is run by a local who sells merchandise with Disney copyright images, I often wonder why Disney hasn’t shut it down.   While the admin doesn’t work for Disney, he represents the ‘ultimate fan’ to some people online.  He has posted about restaurants that give him tummy issues (only he isn’t so delicate with his words).  He’s made videos ranting about guests suggesting that the majority of them don’t shower and has called them idiots and morons.   His representation of what is wrong with the parks is inflammatory and creates hostility in those that follow him.  He has many social media posts that are bullying, racist and downright unkind, not the kind of ‘Disney fan’ you would want to follow.

Pixie Dust Fan's Tee Public Store

Pixie Dust Fan’s Tee Public Store

The second group that makes me cringe is one that is actually sponsored by a BUSINESS that rents out Disney Vacation Club points.  I bring up the sponsorship because it’s fascinating to me that a business would want to be associated with this group.  The admins are mean – and take great pride in BEING mean to others.  They have entire threads in the group meant for shaming guests!  They encourage pictures of guests doing things that they deem ‘not right’ in the parks and then they each take turns shaming them.  For example – they will post a picture of someone sleeping in a resort lobby and call it ‘hobo napping’.  What they don’t know is if this person is ill, or if they have some kind of disorder, or if they are unbelievably tired because they were up all night with a sick child.  They don’t know the circumstances, but feel like making fun of them is the right thing to do.  I think it’s horrible and for that reason, I would NEVER support the business that sponsors them and will go out of my way to make sure others don’t either.  Can you imagine finding YOUR picture online because someone caught you nodding off at Disney?

There are people who are researching their first trip to Walt Disney World in these Facebook groups.  It’s sad because they’re reading these rants and reviews, and their expectations of their vacation are being tarnished by them.

I think it’s important for people to have a safe place to ask their questions and share their love of Disney!  You can’t be in an environment where you may get a public shaming for asking a question.  That’s the real reason I decided to create a Pixie Dust Fans group on Facebook.  It’s a place where everyone is nice – and welcoming!  We talk about the Disney stuff that makes us happy – after all, isn’t that what Disney is all about??  Stop by and see us, you’ll be glad you did!

What’s your biggest pet peeve about Facebook groups?


How Do You Use Disney’s Magical Express?

Disneys Magical Express Bus

UPDATE JANUARY 11, 2021:  Disney’s Magical Express will no longer be offered beginning January 2022.  See updates here


Disney’s Magical Express is a complimentary transportation to and from Orlando International Airport (MCO) for guests staying at a select Walt Disney World Resort hotels.  I’ve got a full post on What IS Disney’s Magical Express, but here you’re going to learn:

How do you use Disney’s Magical Express?

Here’s step by step what you need to know to enjoy this fantastic COMPLIMENTARY service!

Make your reservation

If you’ve booked your Walt Disney World resort package with a good Disney Travel Agent, they will make the reservation for you.  If you booked yourself, you would need to submit the request for transportation with Disney direct or online here.

When you request Disney’s Magical Express you need to provide:

  • Resort Name
  • Resort Reservation Number
  • Number of Guests (they must be on the reservation to use the Magical Express)
  • Airline
  • Flight Number
  • Mailing address for the luggage tags

Recieve your information package:

UPDATE – Beginning July 2020 – Luggage transfers will not be provided.  You must pick up your luggage at the carousel and take it with you to the bus.  It’s unclear if this will revert back at a later time.

Your luggage tags will arrive in advance of your trip if you have provided enough time for them to send them – usually 2 or 3 weeks is sufficient but the more time the better!

Disney Magical Express Luggage Tags

The luggage tags will have all of the information that Disney needs to retrieve your luggage from the carousel and deliver it to your ROOM at your Walt Disney World Resort IF you put the tags on your luggage before you check them at your departure airport.  This service of luggage delivery is NOT available if your flight lands between 10PM and 5AM.

Some things to keep in mind if you choose to have Disney bring your luggage:

  • Your luggage may not arrive until 3 hours after you do
  • Keep medications and important documents with you
  • If you plan activities for as soon as you arrive at the resort – make sure you have the necessary things with you (like your bathing suit!)
  • If you have your Magic Band already – keep it with you and don’t pack it in your luggage

If you did NOT get your luggage tags in advance, not to worry!  You can still have Disney pick up your luggage for you – just head to the Magical Express Service location and give the representative your claim tickets from the airline!

You can also choose to NOT put the tags on and pick your luggage up yourself and take it to the motorcoach with you.  If you decide that you are going to retrieve your own luggage – do NOT put the tags on. 

Get on the plane in your home town – you’re going to WALT DISNEY WORLD!

Make sure you’re prepared for ALL of the things that go with flying… here’s a list of some simple (but often forgot) things you should plan for

Arrival at Orlando International Airport

When you land (YAY!) it’s so exciting, you just can’t WAIT to get to Walt Disney World.  Now – you need to find the Magical Express!

Orlando Airport (MCO) is probably one of the best signed airports I’ve been to, they have signs everywhere.

MCO Shuttle


Jump on the first ‘ride’ of the trip – the train from your arrival gate to the main terminal

Upon arrival in the main terminal, follow the signs

Either pick up your bags at the carousels here


Keep following the signs to the Ground Transportation Area in Terminal B on level 1

MCO Ground Transportation


When you get off the plane, enter the US Immigration Checkpoint

After you get your luggage – proceed to the Customs Checkpoint

After completing the customs and immigrations process, decide if you’re taking your luggage with you or if you want Disney to transfer it.  If you would like Disney to transfer it, put it BACK on the carousel.

NOW YOU get to experience the first ‘ride’ of the trip – the train from your arrival gate to the main terminal

Upon arrival in the main terminal, follow the signs to the Ground Transportation Area in Terminal B on level 1

Arrive at the Magical Express Counter in Terminal B Level 1

Magical Express Arrival Counter

As you pass all of the car rental companies etc – you’ll see the Magical Express counter.  Here is where you will present either your Magic Bands OR your resort reservation confirmation.  Don’t worry if you don’t have your Magic Bands in advance, Disney can only ship to some countries.  If they can’t be shipped – they will be waiting at your resort for you.

When you check in with your Magic Bands or Resort confirmation, the cast member will validate the members of your party are all there and then direct you to a ‘lane’ – the bus line for your resort.  Resorts in the same area share buses, so there could be 3 or 4 stops on the bus route, but it’s generally pretty quick.  People on the bus don’t dilly-dally because they are anxious to start their vacation!

Magical Express Lines

Get on that bus!

When your bus arrives the cast member will direct you to the bus in the bay.  Here’s where the driver will load your luggage in to the base of the bus if you’ve brought it with you.  If you didn’t bring it – it will be coming separately and NOT on this bus.  Take your seat on the bus – remember that the first couple of rows are reserved for guests with mobility issues and they will be marked as such.

Inside Disneys Magical Express

Each seat is comfy and you get a great view of the overhead TVs that will show you some fun things you need to know before you start your vacation.  It’s the perfect way to get you excited for what’s to come!

Individual lighting and vents are above the seat for comfort and there is a restroom at the back of almost all of the buses.

No car seats required, the little ones can sit on their own seat or your lap.

Sit back, enjoy the show on the TV – you’ll be at the resort in no time!

The driver will call out the name of the resorts as they pull in – make sure you’re getting off at YOUR resort!  Gratuities are appreciated by these drivers.

Now you’ve arrived – go check in and start your vacation!!  Remember if you didn’t bring your luggage it will arrive up to 3 hours later.


Have FUN!  UNTIL…….

IT’S time to go home

The wonderful people at Disney’s Magical Express will drop by your resort room the day before you are set to check out and hang the ‘eviction’ notice on your door.

Inside the envelope will be all of the information you need for a smooth ride to the airport.

Magical Express Check Out Letter

HOLD ON TO THIS PAPER – this is your confirmation and “ticket” to get on the bus.

Make note of the pick up time – and be there EXTRA early!

Disney does NOT want to be responsible for people missing flights, so they keep a very tight schedule.  If the bus says it’s leaving at 7:50 – its leaving at 7:50.  Don’t be late.

The morning of departure

Arrive EARLY to the bus stop at your resort with your luggage.  It will be transported with you on the bus to Orlando International Airport

Magical Express Departure Bus Stop

Have your paperwork with you – make sure you have that letter they left you the night before!  It confirms your seats and time on Disney’s Magical Express

When the bus arrives, the driver will load your luggage and you can take a seat on what is now known as “Disney’s Tragical Express“.  You know – it’s tragic ’cause the vacation is over right??

Sit back in your seat and watch the cartoons… they try to cheer you up and make you laugh!

Upon arrival at the airport the driver will unload your luggage and be appreciative of any gratuities.

Take your luggaage, wave goodbye to the Mickey bus and find your check in counter for your airline.

*For select resorts and guests, there is a Resort Airline Check In service available so that you can check in for your flight at your resort.   If you plan to use this service, make sure you allow plenty of time for it before your scheduled departure.

Enjoy Orlando International Airport

Even though the vacation is over, there is still plenty of shopping and fun things to see in the airport!  On your train ride back to the terminal, Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer will thank you for coming.  It’s funny, I’m always happy to hear is voice on the train when I arrive and when I leave… it’s like the two bookends of the trip!

Have you used Disney’s Magical Express?

What is Disney’s Magical Express?

Disney Magical Express

UPDATE JANUARY 11, 2021:  Disney’s Magical Express will no longer be offered beginning January 2022.  See updates here

Disney’s Magical Express is round trip complimentary transportation between Orlando International Airport and your Walt Disney World resort in Florida.

Yes, you read that right, it’s complimentary (FREE) for all guests staying at a Disney Resort hotel in Walt Disney World for the dates of their resort reservations.  

There are many benefits to Disney’s Magical Express:

Cost Savings

Save money because you don’t need to rent a car, Uber or taxi to and from the airport to your resort.  

Of course if you want luxury travel to/from the airport I would recommend a Minnie Van!  But…they’re not free 🙂


Car Seats – Transportation is provided via motor coach and child safety seats are not recommended.  Children can sit on their own seat, or on the lap of an adult.  This saves you bringing and or renting a car seat!

Wheelchairs – the motor coach will accommodate wheelchairs too!  Just make sure you indicate that on your Magical Express reservation or let your Travel Agent know.

Service Animals – Service animals can join their owners on Disney Transportation motorcoaches


No need to worry about directions on how to get there or fuss with a rental car, let Disney do the driving for you.

Select Disney Resort hotels offer airline check in before boarding the Magical Express.  Full details are here


Disney Magic


You’ve finally arrived in Orlando and you’re ready to start your vacation!  What better way to start than with a bus ride with videos all about what you can expect on your vacation!  This is when the excitement really kicks it up a notch!  When you’re returning to the airport – there are some great cartoons you can watch! 


On your next vacation to Walt Disney World will YOU use this service?


For details on HOW to use Disney’s Magical Express – click here.



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Pixie Dust Fan's Tee Public Store

Pixie Dust Fan’s Tee Public Store

5 Rookie Mistakes When Planning A Walt Disney World Vacation

Disney Rookie MistakesBeing an avid Disney Fanatic who has been visiting Walt Disney World since 1974, people are always asking me for help booking their vacations.  I hear horror stories of people who booked their Disney trip by themselves or with a travel agent who doesn’t have much personal experience.  There is so much to see and do at Walt Disney World that you can’t just show up and wing it.  Here are the  5 rookie mistakes I see people make when planning a Walt Disney World vacation.

1.  Buying only a 2 or 3 day park tickets

There are 4 theme parks to visit!  Walt Disney world is roughly the size of Ottawa – there is no way you’re going to see it all in a couple of days.  Trying to cram everything in to 2 or even 3 days makes for very long days and stressful times, especially with little ones.  If you experience an attraction that you love, don’t you want the opportunity to do it again and not be stressing about the next thing on the itinerary?

2.  Not buying a hopper pass

Yes… this is one that some disagree with – but I really believe that a hopper pass is worth it.   For example – Fantasmic is only happening on Monday and Wednesday the week you’re there – guess what days will be busiest at Hollywood Studios?  With the hopper pass you can enjoy another park during the day and then head over in time for the night time entertainment elsewhere.  The flexibility of the hopper pass is extremely valuable in my opinion, and you won’t realize how much until you’re there.

3.  Not staying on property

Yes, there are some fabulous Deluxe resorts on property, but if those aren’t in your budget you should explore the Value and Moderate resort categories.   These resorts are on Disney property, they are well themed, convenient and affordable!  That’s right – these resorts will give you all of the benefits of staying on property (including extra magic hours) but there is real savings in the transportation.  Disney’s Magical Express will pick you up at the airport and take you to your resort and back again when the vacation is over.  The transportation all over the property includes buses, monorails, boats and the Skyliner!  It’s all included, there is no need to rent a car! 

4.  Missing fastpasses & dining reservations

If you’ve never been to Walt Disney World – how would you know what you want to see?  Fastpasses can really help you make the most out of your days in the parks and avoid some of the lines at the more popular attractions. Dining reservations?  If all your little one wants to do is meet the princesses – arrange to have a meal where they will come to your table to meet them!   Having a travel agent who specializes in planning Disney vacations can help you with all of that.  There are a lot of myths about using one, but I can guarantee you that the RIGHT agent can help you plan the BEST vacation.

5.  They over plan!

I know, that kind of contradicts what I said in point 4, but there’s something to be said for just enjoying the moment.  If you want to eat with the Princesses – then yes, you need a reservation.  However, planning all of your attractions in a strict itinerary takes all of the fun out of being there.  I’ve seen many families racing around the park to make sure they are ‘on schedule’ and it really takes away from all of the wonderful things they could experience if they took a moment to slow down!

A Walt Disney World vacation can be an amazing experience making memories you will treasure forever.  Knowing how to get the most out of your vacation will give you time to enjoy the magic!

Have you made any of these mistakes?  We’d love to hear what tips you have, comment below!

Explore some of the resorts we have reviewed here

Fuel Rods Continue To Be Free Swaps At Disney?

Fuel Rod DisneyThe Fuel Rod is one of my ‘must have’ items when I visit Walt Disney World, so I was very concerned when news broke that they were going to start charging $3 for every swap!  I know that I could use the one I bought on Amazon instead and charge it myself, but it is convenient!  I have to charge my phone probably 3 times per day while I’m in the parks.  Taking videos and pictures, doing live streams – it drains the battery.  Having the ability to swap the Fuel Rod is better than carrying one of the bigger batteries that would hold 3 or 4 charges worth, the Fuel Rod is much lighter in my bag.

In late 2019 Disney had started putting signs on the Fuel Rod kiosks announcing the $3 fee for a swap after they had previously had unlimited ones.  They updated the website to say the same:

From the Disney site when the charges were first being communicated

My friend Carolyn from Pure Magic was there on October 27th and snagged a pic for me of the stickers on the Fuel Rod stations

Fuel Rod charged $3 for every swap

Stickers showing $3 Charge as of November 1st 2020

There was quite a backlash from the Internet about the charges and a lawsuit was even filed?  Really?  A lawsuit over the fact that you were promised unlimited swaps and now it’s $3?  I think the world has gone mad… and I refuse to link to the ‘lawsuit’ articles because I personally think it’s ridiculous.  Anyway…

As of November 1st – Disney has reconsidered and has taken the stickers OFF of the Fuel Rod locations and has released the following statement:

“A decision has been made to not implement the $3 portable charger swap fee until further notice. Guests can continue to swap their FuelRod portable chargers using FuelRod’s owned and operated kiosks at Walt Disney World Resort for no additional cost at this time.”

The Walt Disney World website now shows this again:

Fuel Rod description Disney site

Back to normal

I am happy about the reversal in the decision – but can’t for the life of me figure out why they would change it?  Did they not KNOW there would be people complaining?  Did they get more complaints than they realized?  We may never know… For now – I’ll put the Fuel Rods back in my travel bag and enjoy the unlimited swaps!

UPDATED JULY 2020 – The company has created a “Founder” Status to grandfather people who bought the original ones under the impression it was unlimited free swaps.  They released this statement:

“SAN DIEGO – July 10, 2020 – Tricopian, Inc. (DBA: FuelRod) announces the availability of the “Founders” status in recognition of the continued support and loyalty of the most valued customers and “early adopters” (*) of FuelRod’s world-first, power-on-the-go program. The creation of the “Founders” status also resolves pending litigation against it pertaining to changes in its policies regarding charges for swapping its devices.(**) As a Founder, the customer can continue to enjoy free, unlimited swaps at any FuelRod kiosks (***). There is no cost to eligible customers to become a Founder.

Once verified, Founders will use the FuelRod app in conjunction with the kiosks to obtain free swaps under the program. The app will generate a scannable QR code that will be input at the kiosk at the time of the swap. The kiosk will then allow Founders to swap their existing FuelRods for free, even at kiosks that charge to swap.”

All existing FuelRod customers are encouraged to verify their eligibility by completing a simple questionnaire at https://kiosks.fuel-rod.com/questionnaire.php.


Fuel Rod – Keeping Your Phone Charged at Disney

Phone charger Disney

The Fuel Rod is one of my ‘must have’ items when I visit Walt Disney World!

One of my biggest challenges at Walt Disney World has always been keeping my electronics charged. Taking videos and photos, posting on social media, my Iphone and camera would barely make it to lunch time.

There are places in the Walt Disney World parks that you can charge your devices. For example, over near the Tangled washrooms in the Magic Kingdom are some very cute little tree stumps with ports to charge your phone.

When I’m in the parks though, I prefer to be able to charge ‘on the go’ and not be stuck sitting in one place to top up my battery life.

The Fuel Rod is $30 USD and available at many locations throughout the Walt Disney World Parks and Resorts.

Fuel Rod DisneyInside of the Fuel Rod package you will find:

  • One fully charged portable battery
  • One 6” USB to micro-USB cable (for most Android devices)
  • One Apple 30-pin to USB cable (for iPhone and iPad generations 1-4)
  • One Apple Lightning to USB cable (for iPhone generations 5+)

Having that first one fully charged enables you to charge your phone immediately. When I purchased mine, it charged my iPhone fully from 15% battery.  The convenience of the Fuel Rod vs the charges you buy on Amazon is the ability to swap it out in the machine for a fully charged one – at NO COST.  There were some changes and updates to the program speculated in October 2019 – but Disney has reversed the decision to start charging for swaps,for now.  I believe there will be a charge in the future given the company has created a “Founder” Status to grandfather people who bought the original ones under the impression it was unlimited free swaps.  They released this statement in July 2020:

“SAN DIEGO – July 10, 2020 – Tricopian, Inc. (DBA: FuelRod) announces the availability of the “Founders” status in recognition of the continued support and loyalty of the most valued customers and “early adopters” (*) of FuelRod’s world-first, power-on-the-go program. The creation of the “Founders” status also resolves pending litigation against it pertaining to changes in its policies regarding charges for swapping its devices.(**) As a Founder, the customer can continue to enjoy free, unlimited swaps at any FuelRod kiosks (***). There is no cost to eligible customers to become a Founder.

Once verified, Founders will use the FuelRod app in conjunction with the kiosks to obtain free swaps under the program. The app will generate a scannable QR code that will be input at the kiosk at the time of the swap. The kiosk will then allow Founders to swap their existing FuelRods for free, even at kiosks that charge to swap.”

All existing FuelRod customers are encouraged to verify their eligibility by completing a simple questionnaire at https://kiosks.fuel-rod.com/questionnaire.php.


As of November 2019 – there will now be a charge to swap your fuel rod.  My friend Carolyn took this picture of the kiosk at Disney Springs.

The Fuel Rod Station at Disney Springs

The Fuel Rod Station at Disney Springs

Fuel Rod charged $3 for every swap

They will now be charging $3 for every swap

At $3 per swap, I know that I won’t use the Fuel Rod the way that I used to.  I liked that it was light weight and while only carried 1 full charge – it was perfect because I could swap it multiple times during the day.  Now that there’s a charge, I will probably just carry the bigger battery I bought from Amazon that charges my phone multiple times.  Then I can charge that fuel bank overnight in the resort.

It’s a shame that the change is coming – but clearly there is a business reason for it.  I just wonder if the money made from the swaps will compensate for those that won’t buy new ones?

Have you purchased a Fuel Rod?  Will you purchase one now that there is a charge for swaps?

Disney Skyliner Now Open

The Disney Skyliner is a whole new way to get around at Walt Disney World!  This state of the art system provides new transportation options for those visiting Epcot and Hollywood Studios from 4 Disney resorts.  The gondola connects Pop Century, Art of Animation, Caribbean Beach and the NEW Disney Vacation Club property – Disney’s Riviera Resort to both Epcot and Hollywood Studios.

This map shows the routes and connections for the Skyliner!

There was a lot of talk before these were open because they weren’t going to have air conditioning.  Each car has ventilation with a cross breeze that generates while the car is in motion.  You can see the openings at the top of the cars that create the breeze to keep guests comfortable. 

Of course with any Disney opening – there is special merchandise available to celebrate the ocassion!

This new option for transportation is giving us something special aside from getting from point A to point B, this gives us a view from ABOVE the Disney property.  While you’re travelling along the routes you will have a new perspective, espcially over the water enroute to Art of Animation, coming in to International Gateway at Epcot and being above Caribbean Beach?  These are all going to be very picture worthy shots!

The other cool thing about the gondolas is that they are equipped to handle ECVs and Wheelchairs without disrupting the flow of the cars.  Much like the cars in Toy Story Midway Mania – the cars that are equipped for Wheelchairs and ECVs can be taken in and out of the rotation while guests board.  This allows the guests to board safely without feeling rushed or holding up all of the other cars on the line. 

Efficiency and fun – all rolled in to one.  What could be better?

I have friends who are a bit afraid of heights that may opt for the bus, but I think I’ll be enjoying this new mode of transportation for years to come!

What do you think?  Will you be riding?  

How To Use Disney’s Minnie Van Service

Minnie Van At Walt Disney WorldWhen the Minnie Van service was first announced, I was pretty excited.  Having another option to renting a car or taking the bus was something I had been hoping for.  I love that Disney has so many transportation options, but it isn’t always the most comfortable at the end of a long night when I just want to get back to my room.

I had the opportunity to try the Minnie Van service when it first launched and I could not have been happier.  I didn’t just try the service once, I loved it so much I used it 8 times in 4 days!  My poor rental car stayed in the parking lot for 4 days untouched!

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Once you download the Lyft app and have the Minnie Vans activated, you will see all of the options for cars – and one clearly marked “Minnie Van” (with ears of course!)

Minnie Van Lyft Options

You select the Minnie Van as the car you want – and then ‘Request Minnie Van Service’.  It will show you if any vans are in your area.  Mine was so close because it was literally parked outside while I was requesting it!

Minnie Van Request Service

You’l be able to see on your app the car number, the licence plate as well as the estimated time of arrival.  You can watch the car on the map as it’s coming and will get a text message (if enabled) when the car arrives.

Minnie Van Pick Up

The app itself takes care of the payment using the credit card you entered when you set up the app.  It’s a flat rate plus mile pricing structure to take you anywhere on Disney property.  After your ride you do have the option to tip the cast member if you choose.

Minnie Van Car 40

The vans are large and comfortable vehicles that can seat up to 6 passengers.  Each Minnie Van has 2 car seats in the trunk if you need them for the little ones!  There are vans that also service guests with special needs such as wheelchairs or ECV’s, those can be arranged by calling 407-828-3500.

Minnie Van Car Seats

Minnie Van Car Seats

Minnie Vans are available at all Walt Disney World resorts and anywhere on property.

There are many reasons to use the Minnie Van service, you can read about my top 5 here.

Is this something you would use at Walt Disney World?

Disney Skyliner Opening

Disney SkylinerDisney’s gondola system will be ready to transport guests beginning September 29, 2019.   This state of the art system will provide new transportation options for those wanting to visit Epcot and Hollywood Studios from 4 Disney resorts.  The gondola will connect Pop Century, Art of Animation, Caribbean Beach and the NEW Disney Vacation Club property – Disney’s Riviera Resort to both Epcot and Hollywood Studios.

I am excited for this skyliner, I think it’s going to be a unique experience with some fantastic views.  Aside from the time I went Parasailing on Bay Lake – I’ve never really had a birds eye view of Disney property that wasn’t the top of Bay Lake or the Contemporary.  The heights could be an issue for some, I know that I have friends who are already saying “you won’t get me up there”.

There has been a lot of fuss over these gondolas, especially discussions about air conditioning.  Disney has assured us that there is ventilation.  I mean, can you imagine Disney creating this whole experience and then making it so uncomfortable that people won’t want to be on it?  Ya, I didn’t think so either.

I think they’re a fabulous ‘throw back’ to the ones that were in the Magic Kingdom when I was a kid – and I can’t WAIT to ride the new ones!  What do you think?  Will you be riding?


Walt Disney World Grocery Delivery

Groceries for DisneySo you’re heading to Walt Disney World and thinking about how much spending money you’ll need each day for incidentals.  For me – my biggest cost is my bottles of water.  Really, the ‘healthiest’ thing I do is drink plenty of water – I always have a bottle of it with me and when it’s hot out – I drink a ton!  First thing in the morning I drink a full bottle and at $3.50 each, it adds up quickly.   How can I save a little money when I’m at the resort and have a fridge full of it?  The answer is simple – have a case delivered to my resort.

There are a few options for Walt Disney World grocery delivery, here’s a few things you need to know.

1. Charges

There is a $6 USD charge for any deliveries at your Walt Disney World resort for which you need bell services to bring to your room.  If you want to go to bell services to pick up your packages, they are at no charge.   I personally prefer to have them bring them to my room – $6 is worth the convenience to me!  Don’t forget to tip them as well.

There are also delivery charges from the grocery provider, don’t forget to consider those when you are calculating the savings.

2.  Garden Grocer

Garden Grocer is a full grocery store near Walt Disney World that will deliver your groceries to your resort!  It’s a great way to stock up on some of the things you’ll need – without having to rent a car or jump in a cab or Uber to go get it.  You can order juice, bread, snacks, chips, beer/wine and cases of water!  I always place an order before my trip and it’s waiting for me at bell services when I arrive.  They even keep the refrigerated items cold for me!

My typical shopping order when travelling with children includes cases of water, juice, milk, bagels, bananas, cheese slices, chips, granola bars & beer.  Yes, beer – the grown ups enjoy an adult beverage after the kids have gone to bed!  You need to provide proof that you are over 21 for the purchase by submitting a copy of your photo ID.

The delivery fee is currently $14 USD, but there is no minimum order.  Based on my bottled water savings, I’m still coming out WAY ahead by having cases delivered that I can fill our fridge with.  If there’s an item you need that isn’t on the website – no problem, just fill in the special request form and they will let you know what they can get for you.  It’s that simple.  If you order in advance, they also have additional savings based on how far ahead you order it!  

I have ordered ahead from Garden Grocer more times than I can count and I have always been pleased.  My orders always arrive on time and complete – I have never had an issue where I didn’t get an item or the wrong thing arrived.  They always deliver exactly what I ordered.

3.  Amazon

If you are an Amazon Prime member, you can use the Amazon Prime Delivery service!  Amazon Prime NOW can be ordered on short notice – with a 2 hour delivery window, it’s quick!

You can also order with Amazon itself (without the NOW) if you’re not a prime member and that delivery time is generally 2 days.

I don’t normally recommend anyplace other than Garden Grocer or Amazon.  Both are very reputable companies obviously!  Garden Grocer works with all the Disney resorts and is a little more personalized.  You can speak to someone who is local if you want to change/update your order.  That’s why they will always be my first choice.

Have you ordered groceries for your Disney vacation?  


Magical Honeymoon Memories

Disney Honeymoon Memories Kate

Wedding season is upon us, which means that honeymoon season is upon us as well.

According to tripsavvy.com, couples spend an average of $4,466 (USD) on their honeymoon, with eight days being the average length of trip.

And while many people think of far-off destinations when they picture the perfect honeymoon, the majority of North American couples have stayed in North America for their honeymoons over the last five years. In fact, Florida is the second most popular US honeymoon destination in the United States (after Hawaii). 

Disney without the kids?

Even though Walt Disney World is known for creating magical moments with families and children, it can be the most magical place on earth for couples, too. 

Gorgeously themed resorts, world class shopping, and signature dining experiences. What’s not to love?

We caught up with one Pixie Dust Fan, Kate Seftel, who honeymooned at Walt Disney World in 2007. Kate, an elementary school teacher, and her husband Chris, a personal trainer and wellness coordinator, reside an hour west of Toronto.

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PMV Natalie:  Why did you choose Walt Disney World for your honeymoon?

Kate: Chris and I decided on Walt Disney World because we are both active people who enjoy a “Go Go Go” vacation so that we can see and do everything! We also love rides!

PMV Natalie:  Give us the details! What resort did you stay at?

Kate: For our honeymoon, we decided to do a six day/7 night vacation and we stayed at Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort. We did all four parks over the six days, and doubled up on Epcot and Magic Kingdom.

We also spent time at Downtown Disney and the West Side (now Disney Springs). We even spent a morning at Typhoon Lagoon.

Disney Honeymoon Memories

PMV Natalie:  What are some of the “magical” moments you remember?

Kate: One of the things that made our honeymoon super special was that we wore “Just Married” buttons (provided by Walt Disney World Resorts) wherever we went. Every cast member that saw us wished us “Congratulations” and some chatted with us about our special day while we waited in line. It made every day extra special! Some restaurants wrote “Congratulations” on our dessert plates, too!

PMV Natalie:  Was going to Walt Disney World for your honeymoon something you had to talk Chris into, or was Chris equally on board?

Kate: This was definitely an easy choice for both of us. We had both been to Walt Disney World as kids in the ‘90s and we both really wanted to go back!. 

PMV Natalie:  Would you recommend a Walt Disney World vacation for couples? Not just for a honeymoon, but for any couple looking to get away?

Kate: For people that know us, we are a Walt Disney-obsessed couple. Our first trip was our honeymoon in 2007 and we returned in 2008, 2010 and 2012. We stayed off site once, and then at Disney’s Port Orleans Resort – French Quarter twice.

Disney is a place that is magical for so many reasons and you can make the trip whatever you want to be! If you want some days off by the pool, you can do that. If you want first class shopping, Disney Springs provides that. You don’t need to rent a car….or you can, and go to surrounding attractions like Universal Studios.

It really is a flexible as you want it to be.

Disney Memories After The Honeymoon

PMV Natalie:  Have you been back since 2012?

Kate: As I said before, we traveled to Walt Disney World four times as a couple. We had our fifth trip together in July 2016, but not just as a couple – that time we brought our 3.5-year-old son for his first trip. We had an amazing time as a family, staying at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge and seeing it all again through his eyes!

We have taken our son a few times now, and have another family trip coming up this summer!

Natalie is a vacation planner at Pure Magic Vacations (PMV) – Email Natalie for help planning your dream vacation at Natalie@puremagicvacations.ca


Natalie Thomas

Natalie Thomas

Natalie’s favourite park at Walt Disney World is Magic Kingdom. She finds nothing more magical than walking up Main Street USA and taking in the sights, sounds and smells. Natalie has a deep appreciation for how organized and efficient the Disney experience is each time she is there, and how nice and accommodating Cast Members can be!
A “grown ups only” Disney trip with her husband is currently just a dream, as her trips currently revolve around her two young daughters. Natalie’s oldest daughter is now transitioning from princesses to thrill rides – so every trip to Walt Disney World is a brand new experience.
Let Natalie help tailor your Disney experience to YOUR family’s wants and needs!  Email her today at Natalie@puremagicvacations.ca.

Travelling With A Family With More Than 4 People

Comfort Suites Bridgeport - Clarksburg

Comfort Suites Bridgeport – Clarksburg. Photo c/o the Comfort Inn

As someone who spends her days planning vacations for people, I have found that many places are designed for families up to 4 people. Hotels are generally 2 beds, Cruise state rooms fit up to 4 people, you get the idea! Given that my family is 5 (my husband, our 3 boys and myself), I thought I would take some time to consider how a family of 5 or 6 or possibly more could travel together in the most efficient way.

Back when we would drive south with my parents, I can remember 2 out of the 4 of us were delegated to a sleeping bag on an air mattress or a line of pillows in the 2 bed hotel rooms.  Hey, we were kids on an adventure, we didn’t care!  Now a days I have to research our destinations and the plans to get to our destination more thoroughly to see how we can be accommodated.  While I have lots of different trips to share, I thought I would focus on a recent trip that we did. We chose to drive from the Niagara Region in Ontario Canada to Orlando.  We would be staying over at 2 hotels on the way, a night at a Disney Resort and then on to a cruise with Royal Caribbean.

We chose to get a head start in our driving and left on a Friday night and made 2 overnight stops so that when we arrived at our Disney Resort, we could spend some time there. The first evening we spent at the Comfort Suites Bridgeport – Clarksburg.  It’s a place we had stayed before when driving to South Carolina, and thought it was a perfect place to check out again. What we like as a family is that it is quick off the highway, has an indoor pool (hard to find once you cross a certain point) and decent hot breakfast. The room we booked offered 2 Queen beds and a pull-out couch bed. Guess which bed the boys fought for!  This room allowed us all to have our own space and beds to lay our heads on. This hotel was clean and located in a quiet area.  We will absolutely stay here again if ever our travels lead us to that area.

SpringHIll Suites Jacksonville Airport

SpringHIll Suites Jacksonville Airport

Our second night stay was at the SpringHill Suites by Marriott Jacksonville Airport. Spring Hill Suites falls under the Marriot brand, and I’m quickly noticing how well this brand could work for a larger family’s needs. This room also had 2 Queen beds, and a couch/bed, that also offered a trundle under it. 6 people could sleep in that room fairly comfortably. The breakfast was great, lots of fresh fruit, and the staff there even packed us up a little to go bag of water, apples and a few other snacks! What a nice touch!

Disney's Contemporary Resort Garden Wing

Contemporary Resort Garden Wing Room

The next day we had a quick 3-hour drive to the Walt Disney World Resort.  This time around we chose to splurge at a deluxe property, and Disney’s ContemporaryResort was the way to go!  We wanted to be close to Magic Kingdom that evening as we were attending Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party. We reserved a Garden Wing – Standard View room that was in a separate wing behind the main building.  Let me tell you…BEAUTIFUL views!  We watched the boats run behind us yet it was a quick easy walk to the pool.  The room itself was very spacious and we were thankful to be not tripping over each other!  Like most of the deluxe resorts, it offered luxurious, soft Queen-sized beds (so nice to fall into after a busy night), and also had a great day bed/couch perfect for our tall pre-teen.  The bathroom area was also very large, with double sinks (yeah for lots of people brushing teeth at once) and even a separate water closet (toilet). Lots of closet storage that we didn’t have to use on our one-night stay, and a lovely little coffee center built in as well. We felt spoiled and would stay here again in heartbeat!

Royal Caribbean Enchantment of the seas stateroom

Royal Caribbean Enchantment of the seas stateroom

Lastly, we arrived in Port Canaveral to take a short 4-night cruise with Royal Caribbean on the Enchantment of the Seas. Originally, we had booked on the Majesty of the Seas and we registered one of our children in a friend’s stateroom so we could choose rooms of 4 next to each other. When our ship was re positioned we were assigned to the Enchantment, and when I called into choose our stateroom, a category 1B Spacious Ocean View Balcony, we found out that it could fit 5!  We had one larger King bed (the twins pushed together), a Sofa bed for 2 and then Pullman for the last kiddo. Was it as spacious as our hotel rooms? Not quite.  Since we only slept there (and the oldest boy crept into the Pullman at night on his own after Teen Club Curfew hit) we didn’t mind a bit and I would say having a balcony gave us some extra sitting space too. Royal Caribbean often offers a Kids Sail Free promotion, being able to all be in a room together saved us quite a bit (almost ½ off the original price).

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I hope this write up gives hope for you larger families to be able to travel together without always having to go a double room route! I have plenty of tips and tips to share, you can contact me to help you plan your next vacation!  Happy Travels Big Families!!


Carolyn de Blieck

Carolyn de Blieck

Carolyn was born and raised in the Niagara area in Ontario and worked in many hospitality venues over the years.  She is a former Disney Cast Member and lifelong Disney fan.  Her life revolves around her family, her husband Maurice and their 3 sons Ethan, Aaron and Gavin.  When she is not spending time with her family she is helping others plan their most magical trips as an agent with Pure Magic Vacations.

Carolyn would be happy to plan your families next getaway (big or small family she does it all!) – contact Carolyn today at carolyndeblieck@puremagicvacations.ca

Disney Parks Ban Wagons And Smoking

There are rules you need to follow when you visit Disney property.  Whether its a resort, theme park or shopping district – they have rules in place to ensure a safe and happy environment for all guests.

Disney Know Before You Go

As you would expect, these rules need to be updated and refreshed at times.  The changes in the spring of 2019 are outlined below:

1.  Loose and Dry Ice is not permitted

Disney Ice Not Permitted

I can only assume this was difficult at security check points to search.

If you’re planning to bring a cooler to the park with some food or beverages you must use reusable ice packs.  You can no longer fill up your cooler with loose or dry ice.  Keep in mind your cooler cannot be bigger than 24″ long x 15″ wide x 18″ high.

2.  Stroller Size Restrictions

Stroller Size Disney

Strollers can not be any larger than 31″ wide and 52″ long.  Many strollers on the market fit within these guidelines including double jogging strollers.

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3.  Wagons are prohibited

Wagons At Disney

Wagons were not allowed in the parks (something you pull behind you) but then there came ‘stroller wagons’ that you could push.  Disney has specifically called out wagons of any kind – they are no longer allowed in the parks.

4.  Disney Parks Are Now Non-Smoking

Disney Bans Smoking

No smoking inside Walt Disney World or Disneyland theme parks, water parks, ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex or Downtown Disney in California.

As of May 1, 2019 Diney Parks in both Florida and California will be smoke free.  Designated areas will be provided outside of the parks.

I can’t tell you how happy I am that I quit smoking last year.  This would have been really difficult for me to deal with – not being able to smoke in the parks.  I know the smoking areas need to be out of the way – I’m just not sure they had to be OUT of the parks!  I guess we’ll see what they have planned when it rolls out on May 1st.

Disney Rules

You can always find the rules on Disney’s official websites

Are you impacted by these changes?



Top 5 Date Night Activities at Walt Disney World

Donald and Daisy Date Night

Did you know that Walt Disney World is the world’s #1 honeymoon destination? I had my honeymoon at Walt Disney World in 2010, and we had so much fun, we’ve returned every year since! And because we don’t have kids, I’ve become a bit of an expert in planning adults-only trips.

One of my favourite things to do is to help my clients plan special Date Nights together, whether they’re going on a romantic adults-only vacation, or leaving the kids with the grandparents or onsite babysitting services for the night. There are an almost-endless number of options for your special evening out with your sweetheart, but these are my five favourite Date Night activities.

 1  An Evening On The BoardWalk

Disney’s BoardWalk is one of my favourite places to spend an evening with my sweetheart! Just like with Disney Springs, you don’t need a park ticket to visit the BoardWalk. There are tons of great bars and lounges, romantic ambiance, live entertainment, carnival-style games, and a huge area to explore together.

Disney's Boardwalk Resort At Night

Disney’s Boardwalk is one of my favourite places at night!

Before your meal, stop for a pre-dinner cocktail at Abracadabar, a magic-themed cocktail bar, full of fun little details.

Boardwalk Abracadabar Inside

The AbracadaBAR is a fun place to stop in for a drink!

My favourite dining location is Flying Fish. We have been here several times, and we’ve always had incredible meals! The menu is modern, inventive and exciting, with an emphasis on seafood, although they have lots of non-seafood options as well. The appetizers here are especially delicious, and if you’d like to share them, the kitchen is great at splitting them up between two plates! Dessert here is also great, but consider going a few doors down to Ample Hills Creamery instead, for some incredible, homemade ice cream. Split the Ice Cream Flight, where you get to choose 6 flavours to taste – I highly recommend the Ooey Gooey Butter Cake.

Disney's Yacht Club

The Yacht Club Resort is a short walk from the Boardwalk

Alternate dining recommendation: Yachtsman Steakhouse at Disney’s Beach Club Resort, just a few steps from the BoardWalk.

 2  The Monorail Tour

This is one of my favourite Date Night activities! Head over to the Magic Kingdom and hop on the monorail – you can visit all three of the incredible Disney Deluxe Resorts on the monorail loop. Get off at each resort and do some exploring.

A must-do is visiting Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto. There will likely be a bit of a wait to get a seat inside, but it’s worth it! Take a pager and they’ll call you when your table is ready. I don’t want to spoil anything, but let’s just say that when you order certain drinks, magical stuff happens in the bar.

California Grill

The view from California Grill can’t be beat!

For dinner, the ultimate Date Night dining experience is going to California Grill. The food, service and atmosphere are among the very best that Disney has to offer. The restaurant is located at the top of Disney’s Contemporary Resort, and offers incredible views of the fireworks at Magic Kingdom, both from your seat, as well as from their own private viewing platforms. Try to book your reservation so you’re there during the fireworks, but if you can’t, hold on to your receipt, and you’re welcome return, to watch them from the viewing platforms! Another option is to watch the fireworks from a number of locations throughout the monorail resorts, such as on the beach in front of the Polynesian Village and the Grand Floridian Resorts, or the bridge linking the Contemporary Resort’s main tower to Bay Lake Tower.

Alternate dining recommendation: ‘Ohana at Disney’s Polynesian Resort.

Polynesian Village Resort

Even if you’re not eating at Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort, it’s a great place for an evening stroll

3  Epcot After Dark

Without question, Epcot is the best park for table-service dining in general, but even more so when you’re planning Date Night! Arrive in the evening and spend plenty of time wandering through the World Showcase pavilions. I especially love Morocco, the UK, China and France at night.

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Head over to Mexico’s La Cava del Tequila, for an authentic cocktail made with imported, top-shelf tequila. This is a very small, intimate spot, and it may be difficult to get a seat. If you don’t want to wait, you can get your drink “to go” from the bar!

Canada Pavillion

Canada is home to Le Cellier, it’s delicious!

For dinner, there are SO many options to choose from but for Date Night, my personal favourite is Le Cellier Steakhouse in the Canada Pavilion. The dining room is quiet, with romantic lighting, and the food is delicious! Unlike at many other steakhouses, your steak comes with a side dish, which you are allowed to swap with any other side dish on the menu. There are excellent non-steak options on the menu as well. Try to book your table at around 7pm, so you’ll have plenty of time to enjoy your meal and find a spot for the fireworks, which usually begin at 9.

After the park closes, if you’re not ready to head back yet, exit through the International Gateway entrance, and you’re just a 5-minute walk from the BoardWalk, where you can have more fun before returning to your hotel.

Alternate dining recommendation: Monsieur Paul in France or San Angel Inn in Mexico.

4  Exploring Animal Kingdom Lodge

Animal Kingdom Lodge is a bit off the beaten path, but there is SO much to do once you get there! There are two resorts to explore – Jambo House and Kidani Village, and they each have their own animal savannah. For this itinerary, I would consider getting there a bit earlier. Look up the sunset time during your travel dates, and aim to arrive at least an hour before then.

Animal Kingdom Lodge

You could spend hours exploring this resort and all it’s details

Begin by walking around the resort, spotting the animals, appreciating the incredible architecture, viewing the authentic African art, and finding all of the hidden nooks and crannies. Have a drink at Victoria Falls Lounge.

Then, have dinner at Jiko – The Cooking Place. This is one of my favourite Disney Signature Dining locations! The menu is adventurous – you can find wild game meats, fresh-baked flatbreads, and authentic African offerings, as well as many non-intimidating dishes. The dining room is beautiful, and your server will do a great job of explaining any menu items that are unfamiliar to you. They have one of the largest South African wine lists outside of Africa!

Animal Kingdom Lodge Relax

Some very comfortable spots to relax and enjoy the resort atmosphere

After dinner, step outside and sit by the gigantic fire pit, or borrow a pair of night vision goggles to see the animals at night.

Alternate dining recommendation: Sanaa in the Kidani Village wing of Animal Kingdom Lodge.

5  Under The Stars At Disney Springs

In the past few years, Disney Springs has become a must-do location for many guests. When it comes to Date Night, there is no lack of wonderful options! Begin by taking some time to walk around the stores – spend time in The Art of Disney, the Christmas shop, the Marketplace Co-Op, and other adult-friendly shopping locations. Stop for a drink at Jock Lindsey’s Hangar Bar, the Indiana Jones-themed lounge – taste the incredibly inventive offerings, and appreciate the little details that surround you. You can also have a great drink at the top of the Coca-Cola Store, or sit and have a drink or a snack at the bars of Paddlefish or The Boathouse, two of my favourite restaurants.

Paddlefish and Boathouse

Both Paddlefish and Boathouse are exceptional choices at Disney Springs

For dinner, you have so many restaurants to choose from, but my favourite is Frontera Cocina. This restaurant is from celebrity chef Rick Bayless, whom many consider to be the Julia Child of Mexican food – he travels throughout Mexico, to learn the most authentic, regional dishes, and introduces them to Americans. This is not your typical Mexican restaurant! There are often special, limited-time menus, showcasing specific Mexican regions like Oaxaca or Mexico City.

After dinner, go for a walk around the newer section of Disney Springs, populated with mostly non-Disney stores. For dessert, stop into Amorette’s Patisserie for a fancy cake for two, or go to Ghirardelli Soda Fountain for one of the best ice cream sundaes you’ve ever had!


If you have a sweet tooth, Amorette’s has exactly what you’re looking for!

Disney Springs’s shops and eateries are open later than most other places on Disney property, so if you’re a night owl, this is the Date Night location for you.

Alternate dining recommendation: Homecomin’ from chef Art Smith

Want a few more recommendations?

I asked the Pure Magic Vacations team for their favourite Date Night restaurants, and here are our top picks:

  1. California Grill
  2. Sanaa
  3. Le Cellier
  4. Yachtsman Steakhouse
  5. The Boathouse
  6. Morimoto Asia
  7. Flying Fish
  8. Jiko
  9. Beaches and Cream
  10. Citricos
  11. ‘Ohana

Disney Springs From Saratoga Springs

The view of Disney Springs from Saratoga Springs Resort

Date Night Tips

  • Book early. If you want to catch the sunset or dine during a popular time, you’ll want to book your table as early as possible.
  • If you’re celebrating something like an anniversary, engagement or birthday, let the restaurant know in advance. Phone Disney’s main dining number (407-WDW-DINE), and have them note your celebration on your reservation.
  • Consider making your Date Night even MORE special with Disney Floral & Gifts, who can deliver a beautiful bouquet or cake to the restaurant, or even better, have a special surprise waiting for your sweetie when you return to your hotel room at night!
  • Choose your clothing wisely. Many of the fancier dining location have dress codes, but if you visit during the hotter months, it can be difficult to choose what to wear. For ladies, it’s easy to pack a comfortable, flowy skirt or dress, or Capri pants. For gentlemen, consider bringing a dressier pair of shorts (such as golf shorts – skip the cargo shorts) and a short-sleeve button-down or polo shirt.
  • Don’t waste too much time on transportation. To get from your own resort to another Disney resort hotel, it can take a long time on Disney transportation. Consider using Uber, Lyft or a Minnie Van instead. These options are quite inexpensive, and when you factor in the value of your time, it’s a very reasonable option.
  • Be careful with the drinks! The bartenders make delicious cocktails, and when you’re in a very hot climate, you’re sometimes a bit dehydrated to begin with. Drink lots of water before, during and after your Date Night.

What Do You Think?

Do any of these Date Night ideas appeal to you? Do you have any favourite Date Night activities that you would like to share?  Leave us a comment below!

Aydin at PMV

Aydin at PMV

Aydin is a lifelong fan of Disney films and theme parks. When he’s not telling you about his last visit to Walt Disney World, he’s busy planning his next one. He and his wife love taking annual trips together from Toronto, often centered around culinary experiences.

Aydin uses his passion and expertise to help his clients create their happiest memories. He would love to curate a personalized vacation experience for you!  Contact him at Aydin@PureMagicVacations.ca

Experiencing The Magic, Not The Meltdown: Visiting Walt Disney World With A Child On The Autism Spectrum

Disney DAS Mum and Son
Anyone with a child or family member on the Autism Spectrum knows that routine and controlling outside stimulation is important.  Stepping out of what is familiar can be scary and lead to meltdowns which can be uncomfortable for everyone involved.  That’s why a family vacation can be both exciting and stressful.  I hoped that visiting the parks would be a great experience for us and I used all the resources I had to plan our days to fit closely to our regular routine. 

I arranged everything important for the early morning so that after lunch, we could decompress and just go back to the resort for some pool time.  I knew we were missing out on some attractions and precious park time, but I also knew my son had a limit for waiting in lines and having to behave amongst all of the different sights and sounds that can become too overwhelming. 

Disney DAS Pool Time

Pool time was always important for us to decompress

This worked well for us, but as he got older and became more of a thrill seeker, those wait times increased and I needed another plan.  I learned about DAS (Disability Access Service).  It is a game changer for us.

Here are 5 tips you should know before visiting

1 Setting Up DAS

To set up DAS is actually quite a simple process.  Disney tries accommodate guests who could find long waits uncomfortable and difficult to handle.  I was nervous to ask for it.  Looking at my son you cannot tell there is anything different about him.

Disney DAS Lego

He loves to have fun!

What if they wanted proof?  As soon as I explained our situation, the cast member nodded and turned to my son.   She explained to him that he was the leader.  His band was a magic key that would get his family onto attractions through a VIP line.  This was all he needed to hear to perk right up!

2 How DAS Works

Once DAS is loaded to your family member’s Magic Band, you are eligible to use the system.  You simply visit the attraction that you would like to see and explain you will need a DAS return time.  They will program it to your family member’s band and let you know when to come back.  It’s that easy.  Sort of like an instant FastPass.  Return times vary depending on the actual wait times, so head for those with longer wait first if you didn’t get a regular FastPass (yes, you still get to prebook your original 3). 

Disney DAS Tower Of Terror

The Tower Of Terror is one of his faves!

You can only have one DAS return programmed at a time.  When it’s time, you simply walk in through the FastPass entrance.  I love that at no point do we feel centered out or the need to explain our situation again.  (We had a terrible experience with a local amusement park’s version of this).  The important thing to note is your VIP has to be riding and they have to scan their band first to activate the DAS pass for the rest of your family members.  

3 Take Breaks In The Park

If there’s a longer wait between return times with DAS, use that opportunity to grab a snack somewhere nearby or find a play area and let the kiddos cut loose.  We love the play areas inside the Flying Dumbos tent and near Splash Mountain in Magic Kingdom,  the Boneyard in Animal Kingdom. 

Disney DAS The Living Seas

Taking a moment in The Living Seas at Epcot

I never really understood them before I had kids.  Who needs to play on a little slide and some climbers when they are in Walt Disney World?  NOW I GET IT!  In Epcot, a lot of the attractions in Future World have hands on games and play structures that are a great to pass some time.  Most of them are after you exit the attraction, but you can simply walk in through the exit and head right for them.  They are also great  places to cool off in the air conditioning if it’s a hotter day.  The aquariums in the Seas with Nemo and Friends are also great, open spaces.

4 Plan For Triggers And Things To Avoid

Planning for possible triggers and knowing some things to avoid also helps us have better experience in the parks.  Disney provides resources that goes through many of the attractions and indicates some of the more sensory aspects that might be experienced (darkness, loud noises, restraints, surprise, etc.  Some of these might have an easy fix like wearing ear defenders to lessen the noises, but for those who cannot handle ride restraints or extended periods of darkness, it’s great to be aware of what you might encounter.  We also check out YouTube videos to get a better idea of what to expect if we are concerned about an attraction.  Being able to talk about what might happen in advance helps with some of the anxiety of experiencing something new. 

Disney DAS Rock n Roller Coaster

Rockin it on the Rock n Roller Coaster

5 Know The Limits

Even with the FastPasses and DAS to help keep wait times down, our son can still hit a wall.  As much as we’d love to stay a little longer and do one more attraction or show – we know that sometimes it’s time to head back to the resort.  We try to stay Deluxe as often as possible since we do spend a large amount of time at the resort.  Many of the Deluxe resorts have some great, low key activities for kids so even our down time still has some Disney flare.  And the POOLS!  They have some great feature pools with slides and activities planned throughout the afternoon.

Disney DAS

Sometimes a break is all you need

Hopefully if you are considering visiting the Walt Disney World Resort and you will be travelling with someone on the Autism Spectrum, this helps you prepare so that you can spend more time experiencing the magic and not the meltdown!   

Contact Jennifer to book your next vacation! jennifer@puremagicvacations.ca

Listen to Jenn discuss it all on the Pixie Dust Fan Podcast


Disneyland Resort Increases Ticket Prices Before Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge Opening

Disneyland Ticket IncreaseDisneyland has just announced an increase to ticket prices that has the internet all a buzz.

The increases to the single and multi day tickets are not unreasonable when you consider the opening of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge this year. Disneyland Single and Multi Day Ticket IncreaseThe largest price increases came to the annual passholders.

Disneyland Annual Pass Price Increases

The premier pass is the one that offers access to both Disneyland and Walt Disney World, and has the biggest jump in price.

It happens every time there is an increase, fans are up in arms saying they’ll never visit again, but sometimes you have to put things in to perspective like this Twitter fan.

It is clear that the increase is meant to curb the crowds they anticipate will visit for Galaxy’s Edge.  The over zealous Star Wars fans will not be discouraged by a price increase, in fact I know many who would pay extra for the opportuity to visit with lower crowds – myself included.  I suspect this increase is to encourage more locals to purchase the tickets with blackout dates – this way Disney can control the crowd levels to some extent.

What do you think of the increases?  Will it deter you from visiting Disneyland?



Date-Based Tickets at Walt Disney World

Date Based TicketsHow much are tickets to visit Walt Disney World?  The answer now depends on the date you want to visit.

On October 16th, Walt Disney World will introduce a new pricing structure for park tickets where the cost is based on the dates you want to visit.  Disney is rolling out this new model along with a new online portal that is meant to simplify these changes.

Disney has said the reason for the changes is to “better distribute attendance throughout the year so that we can continue to improve and deliver a great experience.”

The actual pricing has not yet been released, but it will be interesting to see how different the price is for different dates.  The value of course will be in off peak times, and you will pay a premium to be there on New Years Eve I’m sure!  I think the problem will be with guests trying to compare dates and pricing – there are now more variables to consider when booking your vacation.  First you have to decide how many days, what parks, to hop or not?  Now you have to also consider if you’re arriving on the peak day of the week in peak season?  Should you arrive Sunday instead to get the better pricing than Tuesday?  The resorts have always fluctuated in price for peak times and weekends, but now that tickets will as well – the packages could have a substantial difference depending on when you arrive.

The change has not been well received on social media:

With all of these changes, it highlights yet another reason to use a travel agent who specializes in Disney travel.  I can’t imagine the big booking engines will be able to explain this one!  It will also make the comparison shopping that much harder – how do you know you have ALL the same components?

Stay tuned for more updates as they are released, this currently only applies to Walt Disney World in Orlando.

What do you think of these changes?

How Much Does A Minnie Van Cost?

Minnie Van PriceHow much does a Minnie Van cost?  Well, it all depends where you’re going!

When Disney launched this service as a pilot in 2017 it was $20 USD for a trip anywhere on Disney property.  I was a big fan of the Minnie Vans and have used them on multiple trips.  The service is so easy to use and has become a permanent fixture on property.  As the program has evolved over time, so has the pricing.  What started out as a flat fee has now become based on distance.

The price for a Minnie Van is now $15 USD flat rate PLUS $3.15 per mile.

Minnie Van Pricing

Price details found in the Lyft app when requesting a Minnie Van

While Uber and Lyft generally have a price surge model (fares go up when demand is greater), the two companies are very similar on pricing.  Both Uber and Lyft charge around $1.00 to start a ride and $1.50 per mile, and .25 cents per minute. When we average that out, it equals about $2.00 per mile.  These are just general estimates and vary by city – but it gives you an idea of the pricing comparison.

Minnie Van Marketing

There are many reasons that I would prefer a Minnie Van vs an Uber or Lyft, but the biggest one is peace of mind.  I know that the person driving me is a cast member and not a random stranger.  I know that effectively a cast member is a stranger – but I think I trust Disney’s ‘screening process’ a little more than those other companies.

Minnie Van Grand Floridian

Price of a Minnie Van from the Grand Floridian to Epcot

The biggest challenge in my mind now is the price.  It is more expensive than ever to take a Minnie Van on property, unless you’re going a short distance.  $29 USD is quite a bit in my opinion for a lift from the Grand Floridian to Epcot – but I can tell you that at the end of a long day… I will gladly pay $30 to take me back to my resort if I don’t have to wait for a bus or monorail and get to travel in style!

What do you think?  Would you use the Minnie Van service to avoid the bus?

Pixie Dust Fan Amazon Store

Shop from my wish list of products!

How Do You Afford To Go To Disney So Often?

How can you afford DisneyIt always amazes me that I get asked the question “How can you afford to go to Disney so often?”.  It’s an uncomfortable question because I never know how to answer it.  Are people expecting me to tell them how much money I earn?  I can assure you, I don’t make any money from Pixie Dust Fan at the moment, but I’m hopeful one day it becomes a full time career.  If you have tips on this I’m all ears!

I do have an unmagical job in the corporate world that pays my bills, but it doesn’t afford a big disposable income.  I have to prioritize Disney vacations over most other things in order to visit as often as I do.  While I still think it’s an awkward question – I’m going to answer it in hopes that you can learn a trick or two so that you can visit more often!

These are 10 things that I do to prioritize and save money for my Disney vacations.

1.  I don’t buy clothes, and when I do – they’re not expensive

Ask anyone I work with in my corporate job, I don’t have an extensive wardrobe.   I keep my work clothes until they don’t fit anymore or fall apart, whichever comes first.  They aren’t expensive to begin with – and I purposely buy things that are mix and match so that I can appear to have more outfits than I really do.

2.  I buy no name and discount brands at the grocery store

Yes – I scrimp everywhere else that I can.  I buy no name paper towel and no name frozen pizzas.  My garbage and recycling bags are no name and tend to rip easily – but that’s okay, I just make sure I’m careful when I carry them to the curb.  Each dollar saved can go towards a treat in the parks!  

Recycle Bags

They do the job!


 3.  I don’t spend money on entertainment

I’m too old to go clubbing and I don’t really go ‘out’ and spend money on entertainment anymore.  It’s rare for me to go out and spend money on dinner, food or drinks unless I’m in Disney.  At home, I’m normally at work or at home checking in on Pixie Dust Fans, I don’t have time to go out spending money, my big splurges are going to the movies when a new Star Wars movie is released!

4.  I do my own repairs 

It’s amazing the repairs you can do with a toolbox and YouTube video!  I have fixed many things around my house by myself (the toilet running, the shower leaking and resetting the pilot light on my water heater to name a few).  All of these have saved me a bunch of money on professional service calls.  When I can’t fix it myself, I weigh the price of the call out vs the inconvenience.  For example – my washing machine ‘errors out’ during the spin cycle.  I can bypass the error by restarting the machine.  It’s a royal pain, running up and down the stairs twice for every load of laundry – but the price of repair is the same as 4 nights at Pop Century.  It’s okay – I could use the exercise anyway!


I don’t look quite so glamorous!

5.  I measure all spending in relation to Disney vacations

Before I buy anything, I think about what I could do in Disney for the same money and then determine if it’s worth it.  For example, if I wanted to spend an evening out for a nice dinner and a concert, I could easily spend $150.  For that money I could pay for a Halloween or Christmas party ticket, or 2 really great table service meals, or a night at a Disney resort – I know what I would rather have!  On a smaller scale, 3 steeped teas at Tim Horton’s would be the same as a chocolate covered pineapple spear or a dole whip.  When you put it in to those terms, it makes it much easier to save money!

Dole Whips

I’ll trade the lovely Tim Horton’s tea for these any day!

6.  Each pay has something for Disney

I have friends at work who say they ‘pay themselves’ on every pay day – they put X amount in a retirement plan or RRSP.  I do something similar, but it’s the Disney fund!  I have a separate savings account that automatically transfers money on pay day for vacations.


7.  I use the tools that my bank offers me

I have a USD bank account where I deposit money whenever I can.  When I do it in smaller increments, I don’t feel the ‘sting’ of the exchange rate so much.  I also have a prepaid USD Visa from my bank.  I load that up so that when I’m there, I have a limit of money I can spend.  Well… I like to think I limit it, but when a new Dooney is released, that’s when the OTHER Visa comes out.  

CIBC Prepaid USD Visa

I like having a balance sitting on my card – it helps me budget (sometimes!)

8.  I quit smoking

After 30 years I finally quit smoking!  Feels weird putting it in writing – but I’m calling it FINAL!  What I spent in cigarettes was insane, but I never gave it a second thought because I NEEDED it.  Now I choose to use the cigarette money for flights (believe it or not, it’s the same price for a round trip flight as it was for 1 month of smokes).  Every time I think to myself “that’s crazy to go down for 4 days” I remind myself that not so long ago I would have literally set that money on fire.  It’s how I rationalize it – and it works for me! 

9.  I buy an annual pass and I am a Disney Vacation Club Member

Buying an annual pass is a no brainer when you visit as many times as I do during the year.  My Disney Vacation Club purchase was the right investment for me when I bought it before Bay Lake Tower opened because I didn’t have to finance it for long and the dollar was good.   When you finance a DVC membership and then add the maintenance fees – you won’t be ‘saving’ money for years.

Passholder Entrance

I don’t know what I would do without my annual pass!

10.  I use a travel agent

While I have DVC points, I never have enough points to cover all of my trips, so I use Pure Magic Vacations for those ones.  Even with ALL of my trips to Walt Disney World – I still book with a travel agent because I don’t want to have to research what promotions are available or sit on hold long distance if I want to change it.  I don’t have them book my dining or fastpasses because I like to do that myself, but the room booking or cruise bookings they do for me.  This is their profession – they know what they’re doing and it’s no cost to me, why wouldn’t I use them?

I need to get back to Disney

It really is my happy place, so I make it a priority in my life.

There you have it, my list of things that I do at home to make sure I have money for my Disney vacations!    It’s clear that I prioritize my Disney vacations, because they are important to me.  These trips are what make me happy – so how could I not make them a priority in my life?

Listen to my Podcast on How I afford Disney here

Do you do any of these things?  How do YOU save for your Disney vacations?


One Thing Most Disney Travellers Don’t Plan For

Empty PlaneThe one component of the perfect Disney vacation that most travellers don’t prepare for is the airport.  Sure you’ve planned your dining, tickets and resort, but what good is it if you can’t get there?  Do you know what the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) expects from you?  Are you ready for what is waiting for you at the airport?

The mission of the TSA is to “Protect the nation’s transportation systems to ensure freedom of movement for people and commerce”.  Sounds kind of generic but there are specific things that the TSA do every day to keep us safe – and they could very well disrupt our travel plans!

While each airport has different procedures, there are some general guidelines that can help make your flights as painless as possible.

Here are 9 things you need to know before you get ready to fly.


When the airline suggests arriving 2 hours before your flight, it’s for a reason.  Security check points can have extremely long waits for a variety of reasons.

Recently there have been many posts from travellers at Orlando International Airport that the TSA has been swabbing each package of candy in a carry-on.  This has created some rather long lines given so many families flying home from Disney are bringing home lots of treats.  Do you want to miss your flight because you didn’t leave enough time for your 20 bags of candy to be swabbed?  And if you don’t have the candy – you can bet someone in front of you will!

This is a view you don’t want to miss!


Seems like a no brainer, but you would be amazed how many people don’t know what the required documentation is!  Your airline will have all of the information about what is required based on the cities that you’re flying to and from.  Make sure if both parents are not travelling together that you have the required paperwork to allow you to take the child with you.   Make sure these documents are in your carry-on, and not your checked bag!


While some items that are not allowed in your carry-on are obvious (like a firearm or dynamite) – others are not.  Did you know that you Christmas Crackers and foam toy swords are not permitted?  What about the cordless curling iron your teenager always has in her bag for those last minute touch ups?

It’s important to check before you get to the airport!  For the TSA list of items you can and can’t bring click here.

Disney Shopping

What can you put in your checked luggage vs your carry-on?


Each airline has their own guidelines to how big your luggage and carry-on can be.  Know the dimensions allowed and the weight.  Having your checked bag be overweight can be very costly!  Invest in a luggage scale like this one from Amazon – we weigh our luggage ourselves before we leave to avoid surprises and delays.


When you’re going through security you may be asked to remove your shoes, jackets, belts and jewelry.  Anything that could set off the metal detectors can delay the process.  FYI – those lovely Alex and Ani bracelets trigger it every time!  I make sure mine are in my carry-on or checked bag.


Still have that airline tag on your bag from your last trip?  Remove it.  While the airline will probably catch that one, it’s best to avoid any possibly confusion for the baggage handlers.

Have a luggage tag with your name and contact information attached to your checked bag.  Consider using your work address for security reasons and your cell phone number since it will be with you.

Disney luggage


I wish I could tell you how many times I have been travelling with someone who has ‘lost’ their boarding pass.  It’s easy to do – you use the restroom, get a drink, do a little shopping and leave it on the counter.  You’re going to need it to board the plane – so make sure it’s always with you.  I have a ‘passport wallet’ like this one to make sure I have everything together at all times.


Don’t waste time trying to find your airline or your gate.  Some airports are HUGE and can take a great deal of time trying to get from one place to another.  Connecting flights can be disastrous if you haven’t left enough time in between them to get to where you’re going.


Your airline website and the airport websites are the place to get the best information.  Check your flight status for delays, expected wait times and terminal maps before you go.  Lots of well meaning strangers on Facebook & Twitter will give you advice, but they won’t be there to help you if you get denied boarding.

Orlando International Airport site:  https://www.orlandoairports.net

Flying is a critical piece in your vacation that deserves attention.  With the right planning you can avoid unnecessary stress and enjoy the journey as well as the destination.

“A goal without a plan is just a wish.”

Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

Have you experienced issues at the airport that you weren’t prepared for?  Leave us a comment below!

*Disclosure:  We are a participant in the Amazon Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon and affiliated sites.

Dogs Welcome At Select Walt Disney World Resorts

Mickey and PlutoBeginning Sunday, October 15th, 2017, the Walt Disney World Resort will welcome guests – and their dogs – to four of its resort properties, and I’m not sure how I feel about it.

Guests at Disney’s Yacht Club Resort, Disney Port Orleans Resort – Riverside, Disney’s Art of Animation Resort and the cabins at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground will be permitted to have up to 2 dogs in their resort room for an additional charge.

Each property’s per night / per room pet-cleaning rate is:

  • Disney’s Art of Animation Resort $50/night
  • Disney’s Port Orleans Riverside Resort $50/night
  • Disney’s Yacht Club Resort $75/night
  • Cabins at Disney’s Ft. Wilderness Resort $50/night

While Disney states that the guests are responsible for the proper care, behaviour and waste maintenance of the dogs, I struggle to see how it will be enforced.

The rules indicate that the dogs must be well behaved and should not be left unattended in the room for more that 7 hours.  If the dog is making noise while you are out (at the parks enjoying your vacation) they will call you to address the issue within 30 minutes.  Given that Disney recommends up to 90 minutes to travel on property for dining reservations, I’m not sure how they expect owners to come back to their resort within 30 minutes to address ‘noise’.

I must admit that when I read the announcement, my first reaction was “NO”, this is not a good idea.  I love some dogs, but I’m afraid of big ones – I have been all my life, so the thought of a big dog being in the hallway with me at my resort makes me very uncomfortable.  There are people with severe allergies who would be concerned about checking in to a room where the previous occupant had 4 legs, but that is an issue today with service animals.


Anna’s dog loves Disney too!

I know that Disney will do whatever they can to make ALL of their guests happy, but I think I may have to reserve judgement on this one until I see it in action.  I was not affected adversely by any of the dogs on property during Hurricane Irma, it was quite the opposite.  I loved seeing them playing around outside of the resort and they were all lovely, gentle dogs that I had the pleasure of being around.

On the other hand, I know that not all pet owners are responsible and not all dogs are well behaved.  My sister has 2 west highland terriers, and while I love them dearly – they bark at their own shadows.  That’s not a metaphor or exaggeration – if there is too much sunlight, it drives them CRAZY and they will spend hours barking at their own shadows.  I will reiterate again, I do love them – but I wouldn’t want to be in a resort room next to them… especially on a sunny day!

Angus and Dug

Angus & Dug Looking Well Behaved – no shadows!

Disney Facebook groups and Twitter have been very active with people sharing their opinions.  Guests feel very strongly both for and against it, but it’s big news!  Even People picked up the story today!

Service animals have been in the parks and resorts for years, and while there has been some chatter about people taking advantage of the ‘service animal designation’ – the volume of animals was pretty limited.  How will this change with this new policy?  Only time will tell.

I believe it will still be a small number of guests who will pay the cleaning fee in addition to their resort reservation to bring their dogs with them.  Who would want to pay $50 per day to leave your dog at the resort while you’re at the Magic Kingdom?   Why not have them at the Best Friends Pet Care Centre where they would not be alone and have plenty of activities to keep them entertained?

Otis 2

How much trouble could this guy cause??

While the logistics of how this will work are still to be seen, it will be interesting to watch how Disney handles the negative feedback to this and multiple requests for ‘deep cleaning’ of the rooms before check in.  Many resorts outside of Disney have this option and it’s a positive thing for many whose kids have 4 legs.  The question is how Disney will manage it.  Will Mousekeeping be overloaded trying to thoroughly clean the rooms?  Will the landscaping crews find more than just dirt around the flowers?  Or will everyone be responsible, respect the other guests, follow the rules and enjoy having their dogs with them at the happiest place on earth?

Angus and Dug 2

Angus and Dug looking sweet!

We shall see… but just so you know – my sister’s dogs (Dug and Angus) will NEVER be on vacation with me 🙂

For full details – please see the official information here

Will you take your dogs on vacation to Walt Disney World?  What do you think of this decision?


5 Reasons To Use Disney’s Minnie Van Service

Minnie Van Grand Floridian Car 32Minnie Vans are the newest form of transportation at Walt Disney World, and worth every penny to me.  They operate similar to Lyft and Uber, but use a slightly different pricing model to take you anywhere on Disney property.

Here are the top 5 reasons you should try the Minnie Van service the next time you’re in Walt Disney World

1.  It’s a Disney Service – Safety First

There are car seats for the little ones and each driver goes through a rigorous 8 hour training class on how to install them.  There are vans that are equipped to transfer guests with wheelchairs and ECVs.  The Cast Members driving know exactly where they’re going without looking at the GPS on their phones.  Safety first – and it shows.

Minnie Van Car Seats

Minnie Van Car Seats

2.  Access to Cast Member Only Roads

Did my drive seem shorter with a Minnie Van vs a regular Lyft?  Absolutely!  Our driver was able to utilize the Cast Member Only roads in the back of Fort Wilderness to get us to our destination quickly.

 3.  Preferred Drop Points

Since this service is Disney, they obviously give preference to their drivers.  The drop off and pick up points are much more convenient to guests.  At the Magic Kingdom you will not have to go to the Ticket and Transportation Centre first, they will drop you at the bus dock right outside.  Regular Lyft drivers are not able to go to the bus stops at the Magic Kingdom so we found this a huge plus.  Less walking and much more convenient to be in a Minnie Van.

Animal Kingdom Pick Up

4.  Uninterrupted Cast Member Time

On a recent trip we took as many as 8 Minnie Van trips – all with wonderful cast members!  Having the time in the vehicle to chat with them one on one was such a treat, we even had the same cast member twice.

The Cast Members we met had such great stories about their careers with Disney, there were a few that we didn’t want the ride to end because we were enjoying the chat so much!

5.  Convenience and Comfort

Being able to see where the car was when it was on it’s way is one of the great things I love about Uber and Lyft.  Knowing the approximate arrival time is somehow comforting when you’re waiting after walking around all day.

Minnie Van Music

With Air Conditioning controls in the front and the back – we never had an uncomfortable temperature and the background Disney music was an added bonus.

Being able to go from resort to resort without transferring to a different bus made me very happy!

Minnie Vans are  available at all Walt Disney World Resorts.  If you would like to know how to use the service – click here for instructions.

Have you tried Disney’s Minnie Van service?  What did you think?

Updates To My Disney Experience App

My Disney Experience AppThe My Disney Experience app has upped its game by adding some features that we’ve all been waiting for.  In a move that integrates even more information in to your smartphone, it has made the app an even more important piece of your Walt Disney World vacation.



1.  Track Dining Plan Credits

My Disney Experience Track Dining

Tracking your Disney Dining credits has always been a bit of a pain for my family.  When we travel with 7 of us, it’s difficult to know how many credits are left – especially with snacks and quick service meals when we split up.  While we normally eat all of our table service meals together, the snacks and quick service are the challenge.

The newest update allows guests to track their dining plan credits and see how many were issued, redeemed and are still available for use.

This may mean that I won’t be trying to use up 20 snack credits in 2 days.  I think it will make things much easier for planning!


2.  Check Resort Purchases

Disney Resort Purchases Tracking

This one might be both good and bad for me!  Many times I’m standing in a store staring at a new Dooney when I wonder “how muchmoney have I already spent this week?” – now I won’t have to wonder.  The problem is that I’m usually able to convince myself I haven’t spent that much and then I buy the Dooney – this app will remind me, it is not in my budget!  Good thing or bad thing?  We’ll see on my next visit.


3.  Renew Annual Pass

I am an annual pass holder and this update will make it even easier for me to renew.  Disney is the master at making it convenient for you to spend money!

Disney Annual Pass Renewal

The My Disney Experience app has become the ‘hub’ for your Disney vacation planning and management.  From mobile food ordering to fastpass and dining plan management, it’s a “must have” when you’re visiting Walt Disney World.

Are you excited about these features?




Mobile Food Ordering At Walt Disney World

Mobile Food Ordering WDWMobile ordering quick service food at Walt Disney World has really improved meal time for me!

One of my biggest pet peeves was always having to wait in a HUGE line for a “quick service” meal.  It hardly felt like “quick service” when I had to stand in line for 15 minutes just to order.  Yes, you can avoid the lines if you don’t eat lunch at 12 or dinner at 5, but what happens if I’m hungry at noon?  Now I can order it from my phone and avoid those lines!

At select Walt Disney World quick service locations, you can pre-order your meal on the My Disney Experience app right from your smartphone.  I had the opportunity to try it when we ate at Satu’li Canteen in Pandora at Animal Kingdom and I have to say – I LOVE it!

Technology is a great thing – when it works.  I was a little hesitant trying this since there wasn’t much of a line and I was really hungry, but thought I’d give it a go for research purposes!

Selecting my meal

It allowed me to select my sides, sauces etc.

Adding dessert

So far so good. 

Payment screen

Payment was done right on my Visa that is linked in my Disney account.

Let them know I’m here to start preparing my order

When you select the “I’m Here, Prepare My Order” option – they start preparing your meal.  

Then you wait….

Order is ready confirmation in the app

The notification was in the app – but it also gave me an ‘alert’ notification on my iPhone too!

iPhone alert

And lunch was served!  It was a great experience, no lines.- quick food.  What more could I ask for?  Maybe that they roll it out at more locations in the parks AND resorts?

Satuli Pods

Have you tried mobile ordering yet?  Was it as easy to use as it was for me?


Minnie Themed Transportation Option

Minnie Vans DisneyI have always maintained that there is no need to rent a car when you’re staying on Disney property at Walt Disney World.  The Magical Express will take you back and forth to the airport and the bus, monorail, or boats will take you anywhere else for FREE.  Why would you pay extra to rent a car?  Because you want the convenience and comfort.

At the end of the night when you’re leaving a park it can be very crowded.  While Disney does their best to make sure they have plenty of buses, monorails and boats, there is inevitably a long line for some of them when a park closes for the evening.  If you’re willing to pay extra to avoid the crowds, a car rental, taxi or Uber were your only options – until now.

Guests staying at Disney’s Boardwalk, Yacht and Beach Club Resorts will are the first to test out this new mode of transportation.  Guests are able to arrange their own private transfer within Disney property from a smartphone.  Each van comes equipped with two car seats for children stored in the trunk if they are not required.  A trip is $20 USD flat fee for up to 6 passengers.

Minnie Vans D23With the launch of the Express Transportation option I was happy to pay extra for a little comfort when I was park hopping.  The new Minnie Vans are going to be a welcome cost at the end of a long night when I just want to get back to my resort and put my feet up.

I can’t wait to test them out!  Stay tuned for my full review!


Disney Park Updates From D23 Expo Recap

D23 ExpoBig plans were announced for Walt Disney World Parks and Resorts at the D23 Expo.  From new resorts, park expansions and Disney Cruise Line updates, it was so hard to keep track of it all.  Below is a summary of the big announcements that will impact Walt Disney World.    

1.  Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge

Set to open in 2019 first at Disneyland and later that year in Walt Disney World, Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge promises to be a fully immersive experience with 2 major attractions.   One attraction is reported to make you feel like your on a Star Destroyer, but I am MOST excited about the second – flying the Millennium Falcon!   The lands will give you an opportunity to dine at the cantina and see some of your favorite characters!


2.  Star Wars Resort at Walt Disney World

No opening date has been set, but this new resort is just what Star Wars fans have been looking for! According to Bob Chapek, Chairman of Walt Disney Parks & Resorts, this will be a revolutionary new vacation experience.


3.  Epcot Getting 2 New Attractions

Guardians of the Galaxy attraction will be added to Future World and will replace the Universe of Energy. A Ratatouille inspired attraction will be added to the France pavilion in World Showcase.   Guests will be “shrunk” to Remy’s size inside of Gusteau’s restaurant in this 4D experience, similar to the attraction in Paris. Specific opening dates have not been released for either attraction but they are scheduled to be open before Walt Disney World’s 50th anniversary in 2021.


4.  Mickey Themed Ride

Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway is coming to Disney’s Hollywood Studios! An attraction inspired by Mickey Shorts will put you inside the world of a Mickey cartoon! No opening date has been announced, but the Great Movie Ride will be closing to make way for this new adventure.


5.  TRON Is Coming To The Magic Kingdom

Being built next to Space Mountain, we can’t think of a better spot for this new attraction.   TRON Lightcycle Power Run is a coaster style attraction at Shanghai Disneyland and we can’t wait to see it here. No opening date has been announced, but it will be open in time for the 50th anniversary of Walt Disney World.


6.  Space Dining At Epcot

Epcot is a great place to visit for dining reservations and will be even more appealing with the opening of a new themed restaurant! Sitting next to the Mission: Space attraction, guests will be dining in space – with views from high above Earth!


7.  New Transportation Options and Disney Vacation Club Resort

Disney Skyliner gondolas will soon connect Disney’s Art of Animation, Pop Century and Caribbean Beach Resorts to Hollywood Studios and the International Gateway at Epcot. The gondolas will also connect Hollywood Studios and Epcot’s International Gateway to a new Disney Vacation Club Resort called Disney’s Riviera Resort.   New Minnie themed vehicles will offer point-to-point transportation options for guests. Rumored to be something of an Uber type service, it could be a great way to avoid the buses. No costs or opening times have been released.


8.  A New Theatre At Magic Kingdom

Main Street U.S.A will have a new theatre based on a 1920’s theatre from Kansas City where Walt Disney lived when he left Marceline.   With the success of shows like Frozen Live at the Hyperion in Disneyland, this is sure to be a great addition!


9.  Toy Story Land

During the summer of 2018, Toy Story Land will open at Hollywood Studios! This new land will let guests explore Andy’s backyard with all of their favorite Toy Story characters.   Along with the exploration there will be 2 new themed attractions. The Slinky Dog Dash will be a family coaster while the Alien Swirling Saucers will have aliens trying to capture your rocket toy vehicle with The Claw! How exciting does this sound??


Outside of Walt Disney World

  • Disney Cruise Line Expansion

Disney Cruise Line announced last year that they were building two new ships. At the D23 Expo it was revealed that there is a third new ship coming!

  • California Adventure Park Super Heroes

Spider-Man and the Avengers will join guardians of the Galaxy at Disney California Adventure Park. More details on this to come!

  • Pixar Pier

More updates for Disney California Adventure Park include a new look for Paradise Pier by creating neighborhoods filled with stories from some of your favorite Pixar movies. This permanent addition will open during a limited time celebration in 2018. The very popular Paint The Night parade will return, but this time to Disney California Adventure park!

  • Disneyland Paris Marvel Characters

Disney’s Hotel New York will be updated to include Marvel theming! Who doesn’t want to stay in a resort that reflects the worlds of The Avengers, Spider Man and Iron Man?

Which update are you most excited about?  Let us know in the comments!


What is a Magic Band at Walt Disney World?

Magic Band TerminalSimply put, a Magic Band is a wristband that contains all of the information stored in your My Disney Experience account. Inside of the band there is a small chip that interacts with different terminals throughout Walt Disney World. Magic Bands are complimentary with your Walt Disney World resort stay or you can purchase them if you’re not staying on property.

Magic Bands are incredibly convenient – here are 6 ways you will love using yours!

  1. Access to your Walt Disney World resort room

Instead of keys or key cards, your Magic Band will unlock your resort room door. Tapping your Magic Band to the small device on the outside of your door will unlock it! The doors automatically lock when you leave, so make sure you’re always wearing your band! 

  1. Your park tickets

When your Disney park tickets linked to you’re my Disney Experience account they are accessible via your Magic Band. When you arrive at the parks you scan your Magic Band for entry. There is also a finger scan that connects your band to you personally in case you lose it.

The My Disney Experience Site where you can plan your adventures!

  1. Fastpasses

Once all of your fastpass reservations are made, you use your Magic Band to redeem them. When you arrive at the attraction, tap your band to the fastpass device and it updates your account that you have used your fastpass. When you make more fastpass reservations they are automatically added to your band!

  1. Dining credits

If you have the Disney dining plan, your dining credits are stored on your magic band. When you want to redeem them for a meal or snack credit you tap the band to the terminal and enter your personal pin. The pin protects you in the event you lose your band, no one can take your dining credits.

  1. Charging and shopping

If you’re staying at a Disney resort, you can charge your purchases to your room or credit card! They also have a pin associated with this feature to protect you if someone else has your Magic Band. Disney really does make spending money easy…

  1. Photopass

When you see a Disney photographer in the parks, you have to stop and get a picture! They are a great way to make sure everyone is in the shot. After the photographer takes your pictures they scan your magic band and your photos are magically added to you’re my Disney Experience account.  If you have purchased Memory Maker you’re all set, if not – you can purchase the photos individually.

Magic Band helps you organize your vacation and manage it through your My Disney Experience account. You can customize the color, add decorative pins to them and reuse them until the battery dies (approx. 2 years).   If you’re a stickler for matching them to your outfits, you can collect all the different colors like Carrie did! They really are the perfect accessory to any outfit when you’re at Walt Disney World!

What color Magic Band will you get?


Laundry At Walt Disney World

Laundry room at Bay Lake Tower Walt Disney WorldDoes anyone WANT do laundry at Walt Disney World?

No, but sometimes it’s necessary.

During a trip last year there were a few ‘mishaps’ where I needed to change outfits a few times one day. It might have been chocolate icing from my cupcake, mustard from my burger or my Pina Colava (okay, it was all 3), but they ended up on my clothes. I knew I needed to do laundry.

I gathered up all of the dirty clothes and headed to the laundry room at Bay Lake Tower where I was staying. I purchased my soap from the machine for $1 each with my credit card. So far so good.

I loaded up two machines (might as well wash all of the dirty clothes we had), then I saw the sign.

Laundry Instructions Disney

Disney laundry is high tech!

Using the website laundryview.com/Disneyworld I was able to view the progress of my washing. I could set up an alert to let me know when it was done, or I could just keep checking online. No need to sit in the room or remember what time I put the load in. My vacation brain does not let me monitor time well and this was exactly what I needed.

Doing laundry was a great excuse to have some down time outside of the parks and enjoy the pool or resort.  I chose to enjoy my balcony with an afternoon cocktail and relax in the sun.

Laundry View Website WDW

About 40 minutes later, I checked the status and the laundry was ready to move to the dryer. I could see online that there were 4 dryers available for use before I went back to the laundry room. I purchased my dryer sheets from the machine, turned on a couple of dryers and had another little break.

Laundry Machine Disney

Before I knew it, the site was saying the dryers were done. Within 20 minutes I had folded the clothes, brought them back to the room and put them away. I felt relieved, now I didn’t have to worry about any ‘spills’ during future meals. Doesn’t that happen to everyone? Put on a white shirt and immediately spill ketchup on it? Happens to me ALL THE TIME, especially on vacation.

While I dreaded the thought of laundry while on vacation, it turned out to be a relaxing afternoon that we now plan for almost every trip. If I know I’m going to do laundry on vacation, I don’t pack extra clothes for the inevitable spills. I save valuable space in my suitcase for all of the stuff I buy, and I’m guaranteed a couple of hours at my resort, sitting in the sun with a drink in my hand.  Somehow doing laundry at Disney isn’t as painful as it is at home!

Do you do laundry on your Disney vacation?


When The Deal May Be Too Good To Be True

Disney ParadeI’m scrolling through Facebook tonight and reading the random posts on various pages when I come across one that is posted to the official Walt Disney World page.  It’s a post from a couple that have allegedly been ‘scammed’ by a Disney Cast Member.

In their claim, they say they directly paid a Disney cast member $1900 to book a vacation for them.  The cast member told them that she got a promotion and could no longer help them and would request a refund for them.  After limited communication – they reached out to Disney to confirm the refund was coming and were told that the reservation was made – but was never paid for.  It was then clear to them that the cast member stole their money.

This couple have taken to social media to complain that Disney will not reimburse them for the money they allegedly gave to the cast member.

After reading the posts and the couple’s responses, there are a few things that bother me about this story:

  1. They clearly gave this person money because they believed they were getting some kind of deal – maybe a cast member discount?  Does that mean they knew the cast member personally?  Why else would they give the money directly to this person vs. through a travel agency or Disney itself?
  2. They paid them through pay pal – I don’t know about you, but I don’t pay large companies via pay pal.  I don’t shop at Best Buy, The Disney Store or Alamo and submit my payment that way.  If they asked for a pay pal payment – I’d be suspicious, but that’s just me.
  3. Disney isn’t accountable for what their cast members do when they’re not on the job.  If this cast member was ‘on the job’ – they wouldn’t be paying for their vacation through pay pal (see point above).  This is like asking McDonald’s to pay a bank that their employee robbed.  Would you ask a movie theatre to reimburse you for the bootlegged video you bought from their ticket taker?  I think not.

If this cast member really does work for Disney and was using that privilege to scam people – you can be sure that they won’t be working there for long.   That is what Disney will and should do to address the situation.

If in fact these people lost their money, I feel bad for them.  It’s a horrible thing to be robbed and $1,900 is a lot to lose – but how it that Disney’s fault?  There are many people on social media posting that Disney is supposed to be ‘all about customer service’ and they can’t believe they aren’t ‘making this right’ – but it isn’t Disney’s to fix.  This is a matter for the police and if they have all of the receipts and communications that they say they have, the police should be able to handle it quickly.

Too often people think they can force a company like Disney to pay for their mistakes by bashing them on social media, and they may just get what they want. While $1,900 is nothing to a company of this size, it speaks to the larger issue of guests believing that no matter what goes wrong “in the name of Disney” – that they will fix it.  This isn’t a culture that Disney should encourage, and I hope that they don’t give in.

Smoking at Walt Disney World

WDW SmokingUPDATE:  AS OF MAY 1 2019  No smoking is permitted inside Walt Disney World or Disneyland theme parks, water parks, ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex or Downtown Disney in California.

Before we begin, I have to confess – I am a smoker.   Hold on to your pitchforks before you start with the lectures of how bad and disgusting it is – I’ve heard it, and I assure you – I know it.  I am well aware that it is detrimental to my health and how gross it is.  I’m an intelligent woman in my (dare I say it) mid 40’s who has heard it all.  Am I proud that I have not been able to quit?  No, I wish I could, and I still hope someday I will.  But that is a whole other blog.  (update – I quit smoking!  I use the money to visit Walt Disney World now!)

For those of you who are heading to Walt Disney World for the first time, you need to be aware of the 2 important rules about smoking.

All resort rooms are non-smoking, including your balcony.  There are designated areas at each resort.

All of the parks and Disney Springs have designated smoking areas, outside of the parks as of May 1st 2019.   You cannot smoke outside of these areas.  They can be difficult to find and may change frequently, so it’s best to check the Disney app for locations.

If you have not selected your resort yet – it’s wise to look at the maps online to see how many smoking areas there are and were they are located.  The majority of resorts that I have stayed at have been relatively convenient to reach a smoking area, with the exception of Animal Kingdom Lodge.

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It makes sense to me that there wouldn’t be smoking areas near the animals, but I didn’t realize how FAR I would have to walk, essentially to the parking lot.  I don’t know if it was just my luck that the room was at the end of a very long hall, but it felt like I needed to wake up an extra 45 minutes early in the morning just to walk to the smoking area!  At the end of a long day in the parks, it felt like miles….

Epcot Monorail

In the parks, it was a whole other story.  While Epcot seemed to be the most “smoker friendly” park, Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom were not at all.  Essentially, they just didn’t have enough smoking areas.  Now there are none – anywhere in the parks.

I remember the days when you could walk down Main Street with a cigarette in your hand.  It wasn’t a good idea as it was too easy on a crowded day to have a child come close to the end of your cigarette in their excitement.  It made perfect sense to me when they banned smoking except in the designated smoking areas for this very reason.

I was happy to go to the designated areas back then.  There were a few sprinkled throughout the park and they were never crowded.  Not because there were no other smokers, but because there were quite a few areas!  Normally there was only ever 2 or 3 people in each one, so there wasn’t a big cloud of smoke hanging over them.  They were out of the way, yet easy enough to find.  Those were the good ol’ days.

Fast forward to now – and the smoking areas are outside of the parks.  What does that mean?  30 people in this ‘out of the way’ smoking area at a time, and the big cloud of smoke is above it, around it, and wafting every way it can.

Let me stop here to say, I would never smoke outside of one of these areas.  It is my choice to smoke and I respect the other guests at the park.  I have noticed over the last couple of years a significant increase in guests smoking outside of the designated areas and I have to wonder what changed?   I don’t think the smoking population has increased – but the available places to smoke have substantially decreased.

Is the lack of availability a good reason to break the rules?  Let me clearly say NO.  I would never condone any of the reasons people smoke outside of the designated areas.  I am merely pointing out that with the limited areas, we seem to have created another problem.

I am a Disney fanatic who happens to be a smoker and should be able to enjoy my vacation as much as anyone else – as long as I am respectful of others.

I understand that people have allergies, asthma, and host of things that are impacted by second hand smoke which is why I am in favor of designated areas so that people with these conditions do not have to be in them.  The smoking areas need to be easily avoidable for these people.  Now I only wish I could avoid the overpowering perfume of some guests that give me a severe headache – but again, that’s a whole other blog too.

What is the BEST answer in my opinion?  More smoking areas.  Before you start with your outrage, let me tell you what I believe this would have been the best solution.

1  The smoking areas should be more ‘out of the way’.

I don’t mean ‘impossible to find’.  They need to be in locations that are not walkways.  I’m never happy sitting in a walkway where guests have to walk through the smoking area to get where they’re going.  They need to have a choice to walk through or not – and the one that was on the walkway to Tomorrowland didn’t give them a choice.

2  There should be more of them.

You need to have more – to have less people in them to make them less of a ‘polluted air zone’.   When you cram 30 smokers in 1 area, it’s much more  toxic and noticeable to those people in the vicinity.  Overcrowding also causes the smokers to spread out – outside of the designated area.

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3  They need to be easy to find.

I know the app has the map – but they can’t be so well hidden that a first time visitor can’t find them.  Put them in the background and have a little sign or something that ‘points this way’ so that no one is wandering for 20 minutes trying to find one

4  Smoking outside of the areas must be strictly enforced.

Many cast members don’t enforce this rule because they don’t want a confrontation with the guest when they tell them they have to leave the park.  If they were a little more convenient it might be easier to approach them.

So there you have it, my view on the smoking at Disney debate.   I’m sure many of  you will disagree – but some will see my point.   It’s a very passionate debate and I’m anxious to hear your comments!

I quit smoking cigarettes in March 2018.  I still agree with everything I wrote 🙂

Walt Disney was a smoker himself, who died of lung cancer.

Walt Disney Smoking


6 Questions To Ask Your Disney Travel Agent

Port Orleans Resort Royal RoomLast night I was invited to a wonderful pizza party with a bunch of other Disney fanatics. The pizza was home made (it was SO good) and I’m thinking I’ll never be able to eat a frozen pizza again! We had a great time talking all about Disney and sharing our experiences, tips and favorite things. What happens when you get a bunch of self-proclaimed Disney experts together? We learn a LOT from each other! The discussion came up about Disney Travel Agents because many of the people at the table were agents. We have all read the horror stories online about a person who booked their vacation with someone who wasn’t a Disney professional. In fact, I read a story the other week about someone standing at the front gates of the Magic Kingdom with her “Universal” ticket wondering why they wouldn’t let her in. She thought that “Universal ticket” was literally ‘universal’. This might be an extreme example of misinformation – but you get the idea. I started thinking this morning about how someone would determine who is a well-versed Disney travel agent. What questions could you ask to make sure they know what they’re doing before you book with them? It would be hard to come up with those questions if you’ve never been, so I’ve done it for you. Here are the 6 questions you should ask before handing over a deposit.

  1. When was the last time you visited Walt Disney World?

Walt Disney World is probably the most complicated of the Disney destinations. You need to arrange fastpasses and dining, there are 4 parks to consider, nighttime shows and transportation options – there is a lot that can impact your stress level on vacation. If your agent hasn’t been to Walt Disney World in 5 years, how will they know what options are best for your family? Reading online doesn’t put things in to context and sometimes they are completely misinformed opinions. You have to experience the crowds at the Magic Kingdom fireworks in order to tell you a good spot to watch them from!

Seven Dwarfs Mine Train

  1. Do you get the dining plan, memory maker, or hopper pass when you go?

These are valuable insights that only someone who visits the park can give you. If your agent tells you that their family gets the dining plan because it’s a good value for the character meals her son likes, you’re more informed about the best use of those dining credits! You also know that they have experienced the character meals and can tell you which ones they love.

Art of Animation Resort

  1. How big is your team and are they all Disney focused?

Having someone that is part of an agency that is Disney focused will ensure that you have back up in the event your agent is sick or is on vacation when you have a question. It also means they have a wealth of knowledge to tap in to if they don’t have personal experience on the subject you need. For example – one agent on the team may have a child with allergies that can share that first hand knowledge about the process of eating at a buffet with allergies. If they are a good team, they’re sharing all that good stuff with each other regularly.

  1. How much is your service and what is included?

This is a tricky one as some agencies will not charge a fee – but won’t help with dining or fastpasses. They give you the link and instructions to My Disney Experience and say “good luck”. Other agencies will do all of that for you, but they charge a fee for that service. Most reputable agencies will NOT charge you for their service (they get paid from Disney) and the prices are exactly the same as if you booked it yourself. If you book direct with Disney – there isn’t a discount, they just keep the commission they would have paid to the agent you used. The other part of the service to be cautious about is the “promo people” who tell you that if Disney releases a promo that they will absolutely get it for you! What they don’t tell you is that the space can be limited and sometimes not available for the resort you have booked. A good agency will monitor the promotions for you and apply it to your reservation if you qualify. If your reservation isn’t eligible because the resort is not included, they will work with you to see if you’d like an alternate one. Beware of false promises!

Epcot Monorail

  1. Is your agency an Authorized Disney Vacation Planner?  If you’re in Ontario – are you TICO certified?

Being an Authorized agency means that Disney has entrusted them to represent their brand. They must abide by the Disney regulations and not comment on or participate in the crazy rumors about promotions or announcements until they are officially released. Being a registered TICO agency means that they have governance around their bookings and protection for you as a consumer when booking your vacation plans. You can check out the website for more information on why this is important to you.

Polynesian Bungalow Bedroom

  1. The last (and most important) thing you should ask your agent before booking with them is “why do you do it?”

This is such an important question, and you should listen carefully to the answer.   A real Disney fan will want you to go and love it as much as they do. That’s the thing about us ‘Disney people’, we get so excited when someone comes back from vacation and says they understand our love for Disney. It’s hard to explain, but it’s almost like we have this club that we want everyone to join because it’s a happy place to be. When you find an agent that is a real Disney fan, you can be sure they’re invested in making sure you have a magical vacation so you can join the club!

If you’re looking to plan your vacation – contact my preferred agency!

Pure Magic Vacations Ad

Do you have a great question you think I missed that you should ask your Disney Travel Agent? Let me know in the comments below!


5 Common Questions Cast Members Are Frequently Asked

Cast Member QuestionsWhile the concierge desk at your resort and front desk agents are very helpful and I encourage you to go to them with your questions, sometimes you can wait in a very long line to get a simple answer – “what time is the 3pm parade?” (Yes, that is a real question that I have been asked). Thanks to the My Disney Experience App, you can now make dining reservations, fast passes, view your Photo Pass pictures, and get more information on your smart phone. Why wait in more lines when you can find the answers for yourself?

Here are 5 of the most commonly asked questions that you can actually find the answers to without waiting in line:

  1. What time is the 3pm parade at the Magic Kingdom?

The 3pm parade is actually called Festival of Fantasy and it takes place at, you guessed it, 3pm every day. However, pick up a times guide at the park entrance to ensure that it is taking place that day.   You will also want to take note in the guide of where the parade starts in the park. For example – if the parade starts in Frontierland at 3pm – it won’t reach Main Street until 10 or 15 minutes later and vice versa.

  1. How late is the food court open?

Most resorts have their Quick Service dining areas open until midnight. Instead of waiting in line at the Front Desk to ask this question, pop into the dining area and ask any of the Cast Members walking around; that is their area of expertise after all.

  1. What characters can I meet at (insert park name here)?

Thanks to the new My Disney Experience App, you can look up all characters and their appearance times depending on the park you are going to.

  1. Do I have to wear my MagicBand all the time?

Use you common sense. Of course no one is going to monitor to ensure the band is on your wrist 24 hours of every day of your vacation, but it is your room key and in most cases, your park passes, dining plan, and even credit card. If it is not on your wrist there is always the chance of it falling out of a bag, becoming unclipped from your belt loop, or otherwise risk being misplaced. It is designed to be easily accessible and since it is on your wrist, you can see that it is with you at all times.

  1. When is it going to stop raining? (Yes, this is also a real question).

While we as Cast Members are good friends with Mickey and Minnie, we aren’t with Mother Nature. When you ask a Front Desk Agent or Concierge this question, they will simply go to the Weather Network and find some sort of radar to give you an approximate answer. This is something you can most definitely research on your own

Once again, I encourage you to ask Cast Members questions and seek assistance when you need it. But there are many resources available to you, like the My Disney Experience App which are incredibly helpful; take advantage of them 🙂


*About the Author* – Darci is a former Cast Member who worked Front Desk at various resorts at Walt Disney World. She was a member of the Disney College Program which allows students to work all over Disney property – not only EPCOT’s Canada Pavilion. She now resides in Ontario and feeds her Disney passion by assisting family and friends with their Disney vacation planning, watching live streams of park shows, and even got engaged at the Magic Kingdom. Disney is and always will be a part of her life. She believes that you can take a girl out of Disney World, but you can’t take Disney World out of the girl.

Follow Darci on Twitter: @dmartindalee


What to do when your Disney vacation is less than magical

Art of Animation Resort ScarDisney is an incredible company that gives a large amount of freedom and empowerment to their Cast Members. All Cast go through extensive training (especially Front Desk, Concierge, and Guest Relations) and Disney therefore trusts that their Cast Members will use their judgement when making decisions as to how to ensure that families have the most out of their Disney vacations. That being said, sometimes things do happen that can be rather less than magical. When this happens, there are a few ways to deal with the situation.

  1. At the parks – go to Guest Relations as soon as possible and let them know what has occurred. Becoming irate with the Cast Member at the attraction or dining area will not accomplish anything. It will only cause a scene and take the magic out of other people’s day, including the cast member who most likely did not do something personal to you. Guest Relations will be able to understand what occurred, possibly explain to you how or why it occurred (each situation varies), and may even compensate you for your negative experience.
  1. At the resort – if it is something regarding your room itself, call Housekeeping from your room phone. Even call the Front Desk, they can get Housekeeping or Maintenance in touch with you. Walking down to the front desk to most likely wait in a line, will only irritate you further and there is a slim chance that the Front Desk Agent that you speak with will be able to do something in that instant. If it is an issue with your reservation and the Front Desk Agent is not giving you the answers or information that you are looking for, ask to speak with a Leader (supervisor in Disney terms).

Regardless of who you speak with, please remember that these Cast Members are humans too. They are people who are highly trained and are doing everything in their power to assist you. No Cast Member intentionally sets out to ruin your vacation. Be patient and be kind. As the old saying goes, “you get more with honey than with vinegar”.

If a Cast Member does go out of their way to do something magical for you, ask to speak with their Leader and let them know. The 2 minutes you spend recognizing a Cast Member for their efforts can make their day, and even week. That little bit of kindness goes a long way.

*About the Author* – Darci is a former Cast Member who worked Front Desk at various resorts at Walt Disney World. She was a member of the Disney College Program which allows students to work all over Disney property – not only EPCOT’s Canada Pavilion. She now resides in Ontario and feeds her Disney passion by assisting family and friends with their Disney vacation planning, watching live streams of park shows, and even got engaged at the Magic Kingdom. Disney is and always will be a part of her life. She believes that you can take a girl out of Disney World, but you can’t take Disney World out of the girl. 

Follow Darci on Twitter:  @dmartindalee



9 Annoying Things People Do At Walt Disney World

Annoying things guests do at Walt Disney WorldVisiting Walt Disney World for over 40 years, I’ve seen my share of foolishness on property.   On one visit I was so shocked at some of the things I saw and I had to write this public service announcement for those who may leave their brains at home while on vacation at Disney.



  1. Disney Cast Members are NOT your babysitters (unless you’ve left them in the kids club of course!)

During my recent visit I was at Bay Lake Tower in the lobby watching cast members trying to help a young girl that was maybe 7 or 8 years old. Apparently she was swimming in the pool and wanted to go back to her room. Her parents were in the room and had left her at the pool to find her own way back, but she couldn’t remember the room number… Ummmm really? Please don’t leave your young children unattended. Who do you think is watching them #WhatAreYouThinking??

  1. Keep your hands inside the vehicle at all times

Eating at Pinocchios we selected the window table overlooking It’s A Small World. Do you know how many people leave their children on the end of the boat with their hands in the water?? Do you know how many adults I saw doing the same thing?? In the 30 minutes we were sitting there, I was amazed at the foolishness. Safety is Disney’s top priority, but you can’t fix stupid people. #ThatsHowYouLoseAFinger

  1. Trying to make your child appear taller

Attractions like the Tower of Terror, Space Mountain and Everest have height restrictions. Why? Because it isn’t safe for if you are shorter than the required height. Don’t try to convince the cast member that your child is slouching or that they can meet the requirement if they stand on their tip toes, it’s just not smart. The cast members are not letting you on because it isn’t safe – listen to them! #NotTheTimeToArgue

  1. No flash pictures

Okay – this one just irks me. They ask you not to use your flash in the dark rides as it can ruin the magic, and for stage shows it’s a safety issue for the performers. If you don’t know how to turn off your flash on the huge iPad you’re holding up then ask someone. Also, if you’re on the Haunted Mansion and you’re texting someone – all I can see is the light from your screen! You are not the only guest on this attraction and you’re irritating the rest of us. #Selfish

  1. Cutting the line

Seriously – how old are you? Where is your sense of civility? Lines are expected at the parks, if you’re not prepared to wait your turn – don’t visit. It’s really simple. We’re all there for the same reason and pushing, shoving, cutting the line is just going to aggravate everyone and possibly start a verbal exchange of unpleasantries. #GrowUp

  1. Yelling at Cast Members

The Cast Members at Walt Disney World are the best in the business. Sure there are some bad apples, but overall they offer first-class customer service. Seeing a guest berate a cast member for silly things like the length of a line, the price of a meal or their inability to make it stop raining is insane. Disney Cast Members don’t really have a magic wand that can bring out the sun and make you less of a jerk.   #DontBeAnIdiot

  1. Trying to get something by security

They search everyone’s bags and send random people through metal detectors at the parks, but did you know they have undercover security as well? I will say no more about them as I don’t want to give away any of their methods, but if you manage to make it through bag check without your flask of vodka being detected under your shirt – don’t be surprised if some random stranger approaches you later and ejects you from the park.   They are everywhere! #YoureNotSmarterThanThem


  1. Waiting in line for 10 minutes without deciding what you want

It’s busy, you’re standing in line at the quick service for 10 minutes waiting your turn. You finally get up to the cast member to order and you haven’t decided what you want! Really? What were you doing for the last 10 minutes? This happened to me at Sprinkles at Disney Springs, and I was not amused. #UseYourTimeWiesely


  1. Feeding the wildlife

When you feed any wildlife – you make them lose their natural instinct to be afraid of humans. This one always bothered me especially since my sister has a horrible fear of birds. We were always aware of the people feeding them because it made them comfortable to swoop in and grab a fry out of your hand.   I watched adults let their little children feed the ducks their french fries and wondered what would happen when the duck bit the child – who would be to blame? Given the recent tragedy of the young boy who was drowned by an alligator, experts have suggested the alligator was probably fed by people at some point. I’m not saying the people who fed the alligators could have predicted this tragic event – but maybe if they had used some common sense, things would have been different. If you want to feed animals, visit a petting Zoo, Disney parks are not the place for it. #CommonSenseIsntCommon


Walt Disney World really is the place where an adult can be a kid again… Just remember to use your common sense and be courteous to others while you’re there and you will have a magical time!




Yes I’m suffering from DVE

Disney Vacation EnvyI’m at my unmagical job, it’s Friday, the weather looks great for the weekend – and it’s almost time to go home!  I’m listening to music from the Disney parks on my iPhone, I’m singing away in my head as people walk by, I’m feeling pretty good.

I decide to take a break and sign in to Facebook, my source for the important things that are happening in my world.   I get excited about the posts in the Disney groups about new things happening and the merchandise that’s being released.

I keep scrolling, and then I see them – TONS of pictures, check ins, status updates…. I have a bunch of friends at Walt Disney World right now, and some are sailing on the Dream this weekend.  I start going through their posts and pictures.  The food looks good at Morimoto, Ohana dinner – yes please, a check-in at the Mine Train and another for Soarin?  I almost feel like I’m experiencing it with them!  YAY!!  Disney fun!!

Soarin Sign

Then, suddenly… the discomfort and confusion – what am I feeling?  I’m happy for them and excited to follow their adventures, but what is this that I’m feeling???  I contemplate for a while and then it hits me… I have DVE – Disney Vacation Envy.

In case you weren’t aware – DVE is a real condition.  It’s a wave of confusing emotions where you feel happy for your friends, but sad for yourself – sad that you’re not there with them.  You do what you can to fight these feelings of jealousy, but they’re there, right below the surface.  While you do the customary ‘likes’ or ‘comments’ on their posts, you’re fighting the urge to just close Facebook and ignore it, but you NEED to see what they’re going to do next!  The inner conflict begins – do you have your next vacation already booked?  Or should you book a quick getaway to get your next fix?  Can you afford it?   Does it matter?  It’s an addiction, and if you can relate, you may need help.

Epcot Spaceship Earth from the monorail

If you’re suffering from DVE it’s important to know that you’re not alone.   We all feel it, but we rarely talk about it.  There’s no shame in suffering from DVE, it’s the struggle that all members of the Disney community face when they’re active on social media.  We all deal with it differently, but the cure is the same… book another trip to Disney.

Cinderella Step Sisters

So the next time you’re resembling the jealous step-sister and suffering from DVE, like the post and move on.  Then check your count down app to see how long it is until YOU are the person with the posts and check ins that will give the rest of us Disney Vacation Envy!

Follow us on Facebook for our updates!


Rescheduling a Walt Disney World Vacation

Rescheduling a Disney VacationFive weeks ago I had a very small medical procedure that was supposed to take about 2 weeks to heal completely.  3 infections later – I’m nowhere near the finish line.  I was scheduled to go to Walt Disney World today, but on Wednesday of this week we made the decision to reschedule for June to give me time to heal.  I hadn’t bought insurance, so it was going to be expensive – but my health is more important than the loss of money.

Some people said to me “it’s not like you won’t be going again, or you weren’t just there!” and I get it – I travel to Walt Disney World multiple times per year, but I was so excited about this trip!  We had all of our dining reservations that we wanted and even had planned to stay at Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort – one of the very few I have not stayed in yet!   We had even purchased tickets to Disney’s After Hours and upgraded our flights to business class so that I wouldn’t be uncomfortable on the plane (both are non refundable).  The disappointment set in – I had just backed out of the perfectly planned Disney vacation.

Thursday was a bit of a mess as it sank in that we would have to try and ‘re-plan’ the perfect vacation without the benefit of months to do so.  We booked the week at Saratoga Springs and started looking for cancellations at the resorts we really wanted to try.  It might mean moving rooms a few times – but that’s okay, we’ve done that before and it’s a smooth process.

I felt horribly guilty that I had ‘ruined’ my sister’s vacation – even though she was so understanding about it.  I told her I would do whatever she wanted when we went in June to try and make it up to her, I would even try some of the restaurants that were for a more adventurous palate than mine because I know she would like them.  Morimoto is on the agenda!

Two days later and I have to say, I’m excited about our new trip!  While we are checking daily for cancellations for dining – we did manage to snag an Ohana’s dinner, a Be Our Guest breakfast and Toy Story & 7 Dwarfs fastpasses!  All in 2 days!  It pays to keep looking for sure.

Soarin’ has been closed for refurbishment for a while which is a big disappointment since it’s one of our favorites.  Guess what?  It’s reopening June 17th and we got a fastpass!  This was a bonus of delaying our trip, and has shown me that maybe things will work out for the best after all.

This has been a trying time for me, but I have learned a lot through this experience.

  1. Insurance might be useful!  I’m normally don’t buy cancellation insurance myself, and I’m not sure if it would have covered my scenario – but for the $1k I lost by rescheduling in flights and event tickets, it might have been worth it!  
  2. Medical procedures may or may not go as planned – and planning a Disney vacation within 5 weeks of one might have been overly optimistic.  Apparently I’m not invincible and cannot will myself to get better faster by using my Mum’s motto of  ‘it’s mind over matter’
  3. Having a family to support you through these challenges is priceless
  4. You CAN book a Disney vacation 5 weeks in advance and STILL get some awesome dining reservations and fastpasses!

Planning my Disney vacations are always fun – and now I get to do it twice.  Now it’s back to My Disney Experience to see if there are any more cancellations I can grab!


Disney Dollars Discontinued

Disney CurrencyIt’s true…  Disney Dollars are no more.

Lots of changes these days at Disney, some are wonderful (Toy Story Land, Star Wars Land) but some just leave me a little sad, purely for nostalgia.

Disney Dollars have been around since the late 80’s as a form of currency in the Disney Parks. I loved giving some Disney Dollars to kids that I knew were going to be visiting Walt Disney World so that they could buy themselves something special on their trip.  It was something unique that was nicer than giving a gift card or real cash.

With people using more digital means to pay for things in the parks like gift cards and Magic Bands, I can understand the dwindling interest in the Disney Dollars.   With all things like this that Disney discontinues, I would expect to see a bunch on ebay shortly!



Disney’s Free Dining, it’s a debacle every year

California GrillThere are thousands of Disney fan sites on the Internet, Pixie Dust Fan included.  Many are very reputable sites that offer accurate information and advice for planning your Disney vacation.  Sadly – not all sites are created equal and sometimes it’s hard for a new Disney fan to tell the difference.

Over the years I have watched some of these sites grow and gain a following and at least once a year they start the whole ‘free dining’ hype.   They post rumors and ‘insider details’ about a potential free dining promotion that is going to be announced.  Every April my Twitter and Facebook feeds explode with this ‘free dining is coming’ posts, including ones that show dates for next year!   Some of these sites get it right and must have an inside track, but others are just plain wrong.  They start the frenzy and modify the details as they go and create such chaos that the rest of us are left shaking our heads!

There are some things you should know about Free Dining that these less  responsible sites won’t tell you:

1  Free dining has quite a few restrictions

The resort you wanted may not be available, or you have to upgrade to a better room category or add the hopper option to your tickets.  Availability for the promos are generally very limited and in the last year it looks like Disney is restricting them further to move people away from expecting free dining.

2  Not all restrictions are created equal

Did you know that some Disney promos are targeted to particular visitors?  That’s right – the UK visitors usually get a slightly better promo with much more advanced notice, I assume because they have to travel farther.  Canadians also get longer booking windows sometimes, even after the offer has expired for US residents.

3  Good luck getting dining reservations

Cape May

Cape May at Disney’s Beach Club Resort

People want to make sure if they get their free dining promo that they’re able to use it!  I really can’t blame them; I would want to do it as well.  The problem is that when it’s just a rumor, many people will start booking dining reservations ‘in case’.  That means they’re booking weeks of reservations to cover potential dates and availability.   Since most of these don’t need to be cancelled until 24 hours in advance – they have tied up many reservations for months that you and I might like to have!

4  A GOOD travel agent will cringe when they see these rumors

 – There is very limited availability on those first few days because other agencies have put holds on packages based on the frenzy of inquiries they generated with the rumors.  Some of these reservations will inevitably be cancelled a few days later and free up the inventory for other guests.  It’s safe to say the good agencies spend the next few days pulling their hair out.

 – They are going to sit on the phone for HOURS trying to get their clients the ‘free dining’ deal when the website crashes.  This will be the better part of their day (some years I have heard of 9 hour wait times!) where they will continue to rotate and recharge cordless phones. 

 – Disney doesn’t like its travel partners to engage in these rumors until it’s officially announced.  That means the reputable travel agencies are at a substantial disadvantage while trying to adhere to their ethical responsibilities to Disney.

 – They will frantically have to call all of their clients who are travelling during the dates once it’s announced to find out if they want to switch resorts, rooms or add ticket options if it means getting free dining.  

5  Free Dining isn’t always the best deal!

Bread Pudding Ohana

Bread Pudding at Ohana

Many times the room discount has been a better value.  If a room discount is 30% – was the dining plan worth 30% of your room rate?   For many people it has been much cheaper to add the dining plan to the room promotion.   It can be confusing when you hear the words ‘free dining’ – but trust me, it’s worth pricing out the difference!

I will never understand why Disney doesn’t reprimand these sites for starting these rumors and leaking information.  It causes confusion, stress, and in some cases a pretty bad guest experience when their expectations aren’t met.  For me, it ties up valuable dining reservations when I’m struggling to get one for California Grill for my trip!  C’mon Disney – it’s time to flex your muscles and get these sites to stop the madness!

So, the next time you see the “I heard free dining is coming” pop up in your news feed, don’t panic, you haven’t missed the boat.  Review it when it’s officially announced and see if it’s a good deal for you when you consider the resorts and ticket options.  If you’re working with a reputable travel agent, they’ll provide you with the best options.  Give them a few days (or a week) to get it all sorted when the availability opens up from cancelled ‘fake’ reservations.

California Grill View

The view from California Grill at Disney’s Contemporary Resort

Whatever you do – please don’t book a bunch of fake dining reservations!  Remember that you may be forcing me to call the California Grill every day while I’m on vacation trying to find a cancellation 🙂





7 Reasons It’s Difficult Being A Canadian Disney Addict

Canadian Disney Addict

Thanks to the ever-growing social media networks I’m privileged to have so many “Disney Friends” online from all over the world.  I follow them on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram and I’m always so jealous of their ability to visit the parks so often.  It got me thinking – what’s the problem with being a Disney addict who lives in Canada?


1.  I can’t just decide to go for the weekend when they announce something ‘new’ at the parks that I’m dying to see.

Sure I could catch a flight and be there in 3 hours – but my budget won’t allow for how often I want to do that.

2.  Flights are not cheap.

I have a couple of options for flights – I can fly from Toronto and pay to park my car at the airport (maybe $100 for the week) or I can drive to Buffalo and get cheaper flights – but then I have over an hour drive home at the end of my trip.  I feel like I’ve won the lottery if I find flights for $350 from Toronto – tack on baggage fees and parking at the airport and I’m laughing that it’s under $500.

3.  Shopping at the Disney Store online costs us a fortune.

First it’s in US Dollars, then you add shipping and duty – even when they have sales it can become so expensive if you have a lot in your cart!  In case you didn’t know – we don’t qualify for the ‘free shipping’ promos they have.

4.  We don’t have Disney Visa!

Disney VisaI ask almost EVERY time I’m there when they’re going to launch this for Canadians.  Yes, there are perks and discounts that I would love, but if I’m telling the truth, I just want a Visa card with a castle or Darth Vader on it!

5.  We don’t get the Target Discount Cards

I have seen so many people in the US buying Disney gift cards when they have a sale at a 5% discount – essentially saving 5% when they pay off their vacation using the cards.  They don’t sell these in Canada; I would have to drive across the border to buy them.

6.  Cool stuff that reminds us of the park isn’t available to ship to Canada or costs us an arm and a leg to ship it.

There are candles & scent machines that we love – they make our homes smell like Disney.  We have found a way around “do not ship to Canada” (though it adds to the price), but Shipllama works well and I now have a machine that makes my house smell like Bay Lake Tower.

7.  The dollar is killing us.

At the current rate of around $1.30 for one US Dollar – it costs us 30% more to shop, eat, stay and buy tickets for our favorite place.   We monitor the dollar and have US Dollar bank accounts so we can try and buy some when the price is better, but it hasn’t been ‘good’ in a while.

So for those of you who live close to the magic – I am jealous!  There are many wonderful things about being a Canadian, but being a Canadian Disney addict definitely has its challenges.   Are these challenges enough to deter us from visiting so often?  Not a chance, we will always find a way to make it work!  So the next time you meet a Canadian Disney addict in the parks you’ll know that we are a dedicated bunch who will do anything to get to Disney!