Friday Five: What I Love About the Port Orleans Riverside Resort

What a crazy week this has been.  On Tuesday, booking for 2018 Walt Disney World Vacation packaging became available and I found myself very blessed with over 20 quotes to put together for prospective clients. Looking over these reservations, along with the ones I have made throughout my last 6 months as an Authorized Disney Vacation planner I discovered that I am booking many of my clients at Port Orleans Riverside (POR)…

Besides the obvious Southern Hospitality theming and charm, today’s “Friday Five” is going to be dedicated to 5 Things I love about Port Orleans Riverside Resort…

1. Amenities of 2 Resorts

When you stay at Port Orleans Riverside, you get to also use the amenities of Port Orleans French Quarter resort.  What does this mean?  You get double the resort just a short 10-minute walk away… including arcades, evening movies, playgrounds, Cast Member lead activities, Quick Service food courts, and most of all double the pools for pool hopping (one of the few resorts this is allowed).

2. Royal Rooms

My Disney bucket list includes a stay in one of these incredibly themed rooms located in the Magnolia Bend Mansion section of POR. The theme is centered around Princess Tiana (Princess & the Frog) and her royal friends. You’ll find ornate furniture, custom drapes and bedding, royal artwork and my personal favorite…a light-up firework headboard. I can’t think of anything more magic than falling asleep under fireworks.

3. Yeehaw Bob

Port Orleans Riverside, Sassagoula Steamboat Company Main Buildi

Yeehaw Bob” is one of the funniest family-friendly entertainers around and appears at POR every Wednesday through Saturday evenings. He and his dancing piano put on a show that will have you laughing, singing and wanting to get up and dance. “Yeehaw Bob” knows how to get the audience of all ages involved in the show, and there is never a moment of silence during his performance.

4. Sassagoula River Cruise Boats

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These open air canopied boats transport guests from Port Orleans Riverside and French Quarter to Disney Springs (shopping, dining and entertainment district). This is such a relaxing, enjoyable way to travel and a nice departure from a Disney bus. It’s especially beautiful and serene at night.

5. Carriage Rides

Port Orleans Riverside, Magnolia Bend area

 

Call me a romantic at heart but Southern Charm just oozes by taking a relaxing horse carriage ride through the woodland pathways and along the river…especially at dusk with the one I love.

The laid-back, quiet, “old south” charm of Port Orleans/Riverside will keep me booking clients at this moderate level Walt Disney Resort hotel.  It is especially perfect for families of 5 like mine.  Want to know more about what Port Orleans Riverside has to offer or a complimentary, no obligation Walt Disney World vacation?  Contact me today and lets start planning a vacation full of magical memories!

Friday Five: 5 Ways to Countdown to Your Disney Vacation

keep-calm-countdown-to-disney-is-onThe waiting for a fun vacation can be nearly unbearable! Make it a Disney trip and it’s even harder to wait. Help the kids (and yourself) tick off the days with a fun ways to pass the time.

1. Have Weekly Family Movie Nights

Set aside a weekend night, pop some popcorn and enjoy a Disney movie night with the family.  This is a great way to introduce or reacquaint everyone to characters and attractions that they may encounter on your Disney vacation. Don’t limit yourself to current animated titles, branch out to the classics. Here is a great link that will help you out!

http://www.listchallenges.com/disney-movies

Make it even more fun by creating a themed dinner that involves everyone in the preparation.  Watch the blog for Making Magic at Home, plus follow my Pinterest Board for ideas.

https://www.pinterest.com/disneybytammie/disney-movie-nights/

2. Disney inspired crafts

DIY the days away by making autograph books, customized t-shirts, hair bows, Mickey ears and anything that will put a smile in your heart during the days leading up to your vacation! Check out

https://family.disney.com/crafts/

https://www.pinterest.com/disneybytammie/disney-craft-ideas/

for lots of ideas for all ages!

3. Watch Attraction Videos

There is nothing like experiencing the real thing, but watching ride-through videos on YouTube can help get you and your family get excited for your next Disney Parks vacation. If you can only visit a Disney park every few years, then refreshing your memory and re-familiarizing yourself with as many attractions as you can will be very helpful once you’re on vacation. There is never enough time on a Disney vacation to do everything, so if you can eliminate some attractions from your plans by watching them on YouTube then you might save some time to do the things you know you love. It also is a good way to give less popular attractions a second chance. For example, if your family enjoys watching the Journey Into Imagination ride-through video on YouTube then ignore the naysayers, and go have fun! Watching ride through videos are especially helpful to prepare children who might finally be tall enough to ride some of the bigger thrill attractions. Letting them see the ride on YouTube before they see the real thing might help them feel more confident.

When you book your Disney Vacation through me, I will send you a PDF file with every attraction linked to a video! No need to search it out yourself, just click the link and watch!

4. Create a Countdown

We have all counted down to Christmas with an Advent Calendar, why not countdown your Disney vacation?  Search my Pinterest Board for some fun ideas.

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https://www.pinterest.com/disneybytammie/disney-countdown/

Also, there are lots of countdown apps available, most of them for free!  Just search in the app store for Disney Countdown Apps.  I personally use Countdown for Disney.

5. Listen to Music

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Nothing gets me in the Disney spirit more than listening to music from the movies, Broadway shows, and attractions. Use Spotify or the new Apple Music to create Disney themed playlists. Listen while you cook, while you drive, while you walk the dog. Music really can put you in a better mood and make the non-Disney days a whole lot brighter!

How about a Bonus Idea?

Bonus Idea…Follow Me

Check out my daily posts and follow me on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and of course right here on My Life in Ears for pictures, inspirations, and ideas to make your trip as magical as possible. (Link Up Using Social Media Icons found on left side menu).

I can’t guarantee the wait till go any faster, but it certainly will make it more fun an bearable.  Please share your ideas and how your family is counting down till their next trip in the comments.

 

Friday Five: 5 Tips for Using Memory Maker & PhotoPass+ at WDW

When I go on vacation, I don’t purchase souvenirs…my souvenirs are the pictures that I take and use to create a scrapbook album of our vacation.  Since I am usually the one in control of the camera (or the one who lugs it around the entire trip) there are very few photos of me on our trips.  Disney puts me in the pictures with their Memory Maker product and PhotoPass+ services.  Here are 5 tips for making the most out of this product & service…

  1. Purchase Before Your Trip

If you purchase your Memory Maker at least 3 days prior to your departure, you will save enough for 4 Mickey Bars ($20).  I don’t know about you but I like the idea of saving money at Walt Disney World.  Also, you only need 1 Memory Maker for your travel party, so if you are traveling with a large group, split the cost.

I can easily add this onto your vacation package when you book your Walt Disney World Vacation through me.  This way it is part of your payments and is paid in full prior to your trip.

  1. Make Sure your Memory Maker is Linked

If you want Memory Maker to work with your Magic Bands, you need to make sure that it is linked in your My Disney Experience reservations.  Also check to make sure that everyone who is using it is on your friends and family list in My Disney Experience and their reservations are linked to your account.

When you book your Walt Disney World Vacation through me, I will make sure that Memory Maker is linked prior to your departure as well as you family and friends are also linked that you are traveling with so you don’t miss any pictures!

  1. Use as Much as Possible

Pictures really are the best souvenir there is and who wouldn’t want to come home with hundreds of photos of their vacation and actually be in them?  If you see a PhotoPass Photographer, take the few moments to stop and take both serious and goofy photos.  No matter how many pictures you take, the price is still the same.  Get your money’s worth!  If you are stumped for ideas how to pose, ask your PhotoPass Photographer, they usually have great ideas and suggestions.

  1. Ask for Magical Shots

After you take a few serious or goofy photos, ask the PhotoPass photographers what Magical shots they have.  There are many different shots throughout all of the parks including adding props, and funny poses where characters will be inserted into your photograph.

  1. Use a Back Up Camera

If there are really important pictures that you want to make sure you have, use a backup camera or phone camera, your PhotoPass Photographer will be happy to snap a few extra pictures with your device.  Trust me, nothing feels much worse than your pictures being lost in cyber-space.  This happened for me with my son when he met his hero, Lightning McQueen.  I still cry thinking I don’t have those pictures.

For me as a scrapbooker, pictures capture the moment and Memory Maker along with the PhotoPass+ services helps me to relive those memories long after our trip is over and is certainly worth the cost.

Friday Fives: 5 Reasons Why You Should Use an Authorized Disney Vacation Planner for Your Trip

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People ask me, “Why should I use a travel agent to help me with my Disney vacation?  I am only going to an amusement park, what needs to be planned about that?”  There is so much more to a Disney vacation then simply riding rides.  There is planning that needs to be done to insure that your trip is filled with magical memories and make it worth all the money you are spending.  Here are my top 5 reasons why you should you use me, an Authorized Disney Vacation Planner for your next Disney vacation…

1.  My Services are FREE!

Disney has very standard pricing and they offer the same rates to all travel agents that they have on their website.  There are no blind fees or hidden mark ups.  The difference is what comes after you book your vacation.  When you book your vacation through me, you work with a real person who wants to make your trip better. If you were to book through Disney, it would be up to you to navigate the planning waters and put in all the research. Disney pays me a commission to make sure that your trip is the best that it can be and you will want to come back time after time.

2. I KNOW Disney!

Not only do I love Disney, but I KNOW Disney and have earned my “ears”.  I am a graduate of the Disney College of Knowledge.  I work hard to keep my knowledge of all Disney vacation experiences current by attending on-site location trainings, reading and researching.  I actually have traveled many times to Walt Disney World, Disneyland, and sailed on the Disney Cruise Line.  For each of these trips I have spent countless hours researching and planning making sure my vacation was the best possible for my family and friends. I can answer pretty much any question you might have, or I know where I can find the answer.  I also speak Disney fluently, don’t know what “Staying at POR and riding the monorail to MK to dine at BOG and then riding the BTMRR before MNSSHP begins” is, I do and I will help you decipher Disney language.

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3. I help you SAVE MONEY!

Disney vacations are expensive, so I will work to save you money by providing tips and searching out the best vacation package discounts for your trip.  Even if you have booked your trip, I will still continue to watch for discounts that can be applied for your trip. I try to spend your money like I would my own.  Sometimes spending a little extra will give you a lot, and vice versa.  I will be honest with you and let you know where it is appropriate to splurge and where to cut corners, and work within the budget you set to make the best vacation possible.

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4. I WALK YOU THROUGH the planning process and am your personal SOUNDING BOARD.

A Disney vacation is far more than showing up to the park gate with your ticket.  There are a lot lots of things to consider from transportation, choosing a hotel, sorting out all ticket options, finding places to eat, deciding which park is best which day and what do you do when you get into the park.  I help take away some the stress and confusion planning a Disney vacation, by walking you through the planning process and providing insider tips along the way. I do the research for you, you make the choices, and then I put it all together for you so that when you are finished planning you don’t feel like you need another vacation from planning. If you are trying to make a decision between two choices, just ask more than likely I have personal experience or an opinion on what you are trying to decide between. I will give you an honest answer each and every time, plus do my best to fulfill all of your wishes for your trip.

5. I SAVE YOU TIME before and during your vacation!

I have already spent the hours researching what is needed to make a Disney vacation magical and I will pass that knowledge on to you, so that you won’t have to invest that time.  Depending on which time zone you are in Disney advanced reservations for dining and FASTPASS+ open extremely early in the morning, I will wake up and make those reservations for you while you sleep.  I will also continuously watch discount offers that become available, and apply them to your reservation package, saving you both time and money!  While on your vacation, I will have prepared for you daily itinerary suggestions to save you time in the parks by avoiding large crowds, long wait times and crisscrossing the park.

I am proud to that Disney has awarded me with the title of Authorized Disney Vacation planner by completing the Disney College of Knowledge and honored to be an affiliate of Academy Travel and mickeyvacations.com.  Academy Travel and mickeyvacations.com is a Platinum Earmarked Agency awarded by Disney, the highest rating possible and 1 of only 5 in the world to reach this status for its excellent client services.

I hope that you will consider me for your Disney vacation planning needs and allow me the satisfaction of making magic happen for you and your family.  I promise that I will give your vacation the same care and attention to detail as I would my own trip.

 

Friday Five: 5 Things You Need to Know about Dining at Walt Disney World

IMG_9747One of things I love best about a Disney Vacation is the food and I tend to get more excited about thinking about all the amazing dining menus rather than the attractions when I am planning my Disney Trips.  Once your resort room and tickets are purchased, the next thing you will want to begin thinking about and planning is where you are going to eat.  Advanced Dining Reservations or ADRs are EXTREMELY important; I have watched many people try to walk up to a Disney Restaurant hoping to get a table only to be turned away.  Here is my Top 5 Things You Should Know about making dining reservations at Walt Disney World.

1.  2 Styles of Restaurants

Walt Disney World has 2 styles of restaurants (and variations within each style) to fit all of your dining needs, so if you are a guest that prefers more time for rides & attractions or a guest with a foodie heart, rest assured there will be dining to fit your needs.

Quick Service Restaurants (QS) offer great food and fast service. They are generally cafeteria-style or counter-service venues.  You order or take the food items that you want, pay for your food and sit down to enjoy your meal.  Walt Disney World even has a few Fast Causal style dining locations where you order from a counter and your food is delivered to you.  Reservations (other than Be Our Guest Breakfast & Lunch) are not needed, walk up only.  With a wide range of Quick Service options through the Walt Disney Parks, Disney Springs & Resort Hotels you will never be stuck eating burgers or chicken nuggets your entire vacation.

Table Service Restaurants (TS) offer great food, a chance to sit down & relax as well as great service. Generally you are seated and a Cast Member/Server takes your order from a menu.  Within this style of Disney Dining, you will also find many buffets with diverse offerings, most with character interactions.  You will also find Fine Dining within the Table Service style, called Signature Restaurants where food and atmosphere combine into a truly unique dining experience; perfect for a night out or a celebratory meal.

When you book your vacation with me, I will provide you with dining suggestions, feedback, and reviews.  I have created several documents with direct links to menus, pictures and information about each dining location.  Trust me, I have read every menu MANY times and know the hidden menu gems that are MUST TRY.

2.  Dining Plans Available

When you stay at a Disney Resort you can also add a Dining Plan to your resort/ticket 8 pizza abpackage.  These plans offer the convenience and flexibility of prepaid dining.  There are 3 plans available, one sure to fit your needs:

  • Quick Service Plan-Includes 2 quick service meals, a resort refillable mug and 2 snacks per number of night of stay
  • Disney Dining Plan-Includes 1 Quick Service credit, 1 Table Service credit, a resort refillable mug and 2 snacks per number of night stay
  • Deluxe Dining Plan-Includes 3 Table Service Credits, a resort refillable mug and 2 snacks per number of night stay

Dining plans are not for every trip or even for everybody, and they may not give you the best deal.  I will give you honest feedback whether a dining plan is good for your vacation based on what you have told me what you want from your vacation.  I have gone on Disney Vacations with and without of levels of the Dining Plans so I have personal experience what might be best for you.

3. Plan & Organize before Advanced Dining Reservations (ADRs) Booking Window Opens

There is a lot of planning that needs to be done to truly make your vacation a memorable one at Walt Disney World.  I suggest guests book at least 7 months in advance resort rooms and tickets, giving you ample to time to plan out a general idea of where you will be each day of your vacation and make dining selections before the 180 Day dining reservation window for your stay.

When you book your Walt Disney Vacation with me, I will provide you with information on which park is best on which day during your stay as well as offer personal suggestions to maximize your time, again based on what you tell me is important for your vacation.  Once you have determined Which Park, Which Day, I will then provide you suggestions for dining options that best fit that schedule and from there we will create a list of Advanced Dining Reservations (ADRs) to book and develop a plan of attack for getting the ADRs that you want. 

4.  Book 180 Days in Advance with Linked Credit Card

For guests staying on property you are able to make Advanced Dining Reservations (ADRs) for the first 10 days of your trip beginning at 180 days in advance, while guests 2 choc waffleoff property can only book each day at 180 days prior to dining date, another added perk of staying at  Disney Resort hotel.

Booking your vacation after the 180 day mark?  Don’t worry I have you covered.  I have a few tricks up my sleeve to help you still get all of the dining reservations that you want, not a guarantee but I have a pretty good success rate at stalking and getting those hard to get ADRs at the last-minute as long as you are flexible.  I totally believe in pixie dust and making magic happen.

Online reservations open at 6 am EST on MyDisneyExperience-Walt Disney (MDE) or you can call beginning at 7 am EST.  Please note that there can be long waits on the phones sometimes, so you will need to make sure you call right at 7 am to get in the queue early.

Don’t want to get up early or this entire process stressing you out?  That is why you have booked your Disney vacation with me, an Authorized Disney Vacation Planner.  I will be happy to make all Advanced Dining Reservations for you so you can sleep in and not have to worry about it. 

All Table Service reservations require a “Good Faith“ credit card hold at time of booking.  Some reservations also require pre-payment at time of booking.  It is important to make sure that you have a credit card linked in MyDisneyExperience (MDE) or a card readily available when you speak with a Cast Member online.

5.  Know the Cancellation Policy

5A lot of guests book several Advanced Dining Reservations on specific day because they have not planned well ahead reservation time.  This is a total UNMAGIAL THING TO DO.  Disney has a 24 hour cancellation policy.  You must cancel your reservation 24 hours before your reservation or they will charge you a $10 fee, per person in your party.  This ensures that guests don’t hold onto reservations that they have no intention to of using, thus preventing other guests from enjoying the dining experiences.

Does planning and booking all these reservations sound overwhelming?  I can literally help you have your cake and eat it, too! When you book your Disney Vacation with me you will pay the same price as if you booked your vacation with Disney directly AND get complimentary concierge trip planning services that Disney does not offer, which includes making your dining reservations, if you wish.  I also know lots of tips and tricks to help you get everything you want and the times you want them.