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Free Fall Dining Offer

FREE dining plan when you purchase a non-discounted 5-night/6-day Magic Your Way package that includes a room at a select Walt Disney World® Resort hotel and ticket with a Park Hopper® or Park Hopper Plus Option Aug. 21-Sept. 30, Nov. 14-20, Nov. 25-27, Dec. 8-23, 2017 when they book April 24-July 7, 2017.

With this offer, you can enjoy distinctive Disney Resort Guest benefits and amenities – including early access to Disney FastPass+ planning, Extra Magic Hours, complimentary Resort transportation, standard parking and entertaining amenities!

Stay at a select Disney Deluxe Resort or Disney Deluxe Villa Resort, get the Disney Dining Plan with a variety of delicious dining options! Stay at a select Disney Value Resort or Disney Moderate Resort, they get the Disney Quick-Service Dining Plan that allows you a quick bite!

Booking Through: April 24-July 7, 2017
Offer Travel Dates: Aug. 21-Sept. 30, Nov. 14-20, Nov. 25-27, Dec. 8-23, 2017

Disneyland Magic

Thinking about Disneyland?? Stay in the middle of the magic and save up to 20% on premium rooms at select stays at Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel® & Spa or Disneyland® Hotel from April 23-June 15, 2017 on select Sunday-Thursday nights

Book by March 27 – May 25, 2017 for travel dates April 23 – June 15, 2017.

Save Up to 25%

Save Up To 25% on WDW Rooms!

Save up to 25%* on rooms at select Walt Disney World® Resort hotels for stays most nights May 28-Aug. 31, 2017 when they book March 27-July 14, 2017.

Uncover a magical mix of new and unforgettable experiences at Walt Disney World Resort this summer including Pandora – The World of Avatar opening May 27, 2017 at Disney’s Animal Kingdom® Theme Park.

And, as we recently announced, for a limited time, May 27-July 4, 2017, guests staying at select Walt Disney World Resort hotels can explore Pandora – The World of Avatar beyond regular Park hours.

Nightly Extra Magic Hours will take place from 11 p.m.-1 a.m. only in Pandora – The World of Avatar at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park. This offering will provide you with an additional opportunity to enjoy everything Pandora – The World of Avatar has to offer – including navigating a mystical river, flying on a back of a banshee and walking under floating mountains. Please note valid Theme Park admission and a Resort ID are required.

Book by July 14, 2017 for travel May 28-Aug. 31, 2017.

Fish Extenders – A Disney Cruise Extra

Fish extender smallIf you do any research on a Disney Cruise odds are you will find mention of Fish Extenders or FE’s. What are these mysterious things that people are talking about? Fish extenders are pockets or bags hanging from the fish, seahorse or starfish that is located next to your door.

The Fish Extender gift exchange is all about fun! If you are cruising with kids, they will LOVE it. They will run to the room to see if there is something in the FE. Even adults enjoy it. The adults may not be running to the room, but we are always excited to see what is in our pocket.

Fish extenders take many shapes and forms. A fish extender can be as simple as a bag hanging from the fish. If you would like to order a special personalized one, check into etsy.com or ebay.com.  If you are able to sew you can also make one yourself. Here are a couple patterns that you can use.

http://www.alittleboltoflife.com/2013/01/fish-extender-tutorial.html

http://www.kraftingkreations.com/2012/05/fish-extender-tutorial.html

Now you are probably asking why? Fish extenders are used for fish extender gift exchanges.

In order to sign up for the gift exchange on your cruise you will need to search facebook for the FE exchange group.  You will search using the ship name and the dates of your cruise. You can also check out this website for links to the facebook group for a 2017 cruise: https://sites.google.com/site/fefunforall/home/2017

Once you find and join the FE exchange group for your cruise, you will need to give the coordinator the names of everyone in your party and your room numbers. If you are in more than one room, sign up every room and list the guest in each room so everyone receives their gifts in their respective rooms. There will need to be a fish extender at each room participating in the exchange.

You will need to sign up for the FE exchange in order to receive gifts. There have been instances of cruisers putting up their fish extender and distributing gifts to others. Unfortunately, they did not sign up for an exchange and did not receive any gifts.

Once sign-ups have been ended, the coordinator will give you a list of people and staterooms that are in the Fish Extender exchange. Gifts can be put together for the entire family or for each person individually. It is at your discretion. If you are signing up for the exchange, plan to give out gifts at least once during the cruise. If you cannot give gifts, do not sign up for the exchange.

Gifts can be purchased or made. If you need ideas for Fish Extender gifts, just check out Pintrest or a simple google search will bring up tons of ideas. Some people bring an item from their state or the country they live in. We have received magnets, bookmarks, small photo albums, photo frames, candy, lanyards, sand toys, stickers and other great things. Most people stick to the Disney theme, but it is not required.

You are not required to spend a certain amount or limit the amount that you spend. It is at your own discretion. Remember that whatever gifts you choose to give must be packed in your luggage and brought on the ship. There will be plenty of gifts to take home as well.

One last thing, be sure to zip tie your fish extender to your fish. It doesn’t happen often, but a fish extender does disappear from time to time.

Have fun!

Disneyland Visit Part 1-Arrival and Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa

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Our family traveled to Disneyland over the Thanksgiving holiday.  Ideally, we would have chosen a different time to visit, but several personal factors impacted our travel dates.  We flew out of Midway, located in Chicago, IL, on Tuesday morning.  The flight lasted four hours.  We have only flown as a family of four on one previous trip.  Our five-year-old son and two-year-old daughter fly a lot easier than their anxious father.  My wife, Tracy, is definitely the “team captain” when it comes to flying, and dad just plays pack mule.  Moving the kids through security and other congested areas is definitely a team effort, but Tracy handles most of their needs throughout the airport.  Additionally, she flies with a child on each side of her, which demands a great deal of energy and effort.  My primary duties are hauling the luggage and assisting our son to and from the restroom.  The first time we flew into LAX, we obtained a rental vehicle with AVIS.  (Remind me to create a short post on how big of a nightmare getting the vehicle was.)  This time we used Disney-contracted transportation.

As expected, the contracted shuttle service in L.A. is much different than that of Orlando.  In L.A., there are no cast members to make your luggage magically appear in your resort room.  You have to gather your luggage and haul it out to a waiting area.  The area is labelled and identified with green markers.  The pickup area at LAX is a step above (as in worse than most) the cluster most airports are.  It is setup in a giant “U.”  (See the graphic below.)  We waited in one of the first stops, which meant it took nearly an hour for the shuttle to make its way around the entire pickup area.  It was miserable.  After completing the tour of the pickup area, the driver announced that we were on our way to Disneyland which could take up to an hour and a half.  Luckily, the traffic was not bad and we made it in about 40 minutes.  This commute was a stark contrast to our drive to Yorba Linda in the summer of 2016.  The round trip cost our family slightly less than $100.  I don’t recall the exact dollar amount.  Here is a link to Disneyland transportation site:  https://disneyland.disney.go.com/guest-services/transportation/

We arrived at Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa mid-afternoon.  The resort is incredible.  Upon arrival, cast members welcomed and asked us if we needed anything.  They also directed us to the lobby’s check-in desks.  The cast member was efficient and friendly.  He also was quick with valuable information about getting to our dining reservation and utilizing the extra magic hour the next morning.  He also shared information about the resort.  Overall, the cast member was a great introduction to the Grand Californian.

The lobby and atrium of Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa are magnificent.  The theme is described as “Craftsman-style Elegance” by Disney.  It is so much more than that.  The color is a dark wood, which comforts guests with a cozy feeling.  Within the atrium is a very large fireplace with a sitting area near it.  We were there while Christmas decorations adorned the area.  The decorations featured an extremely large tree and a magnificent gingerbread house.  The decorations had a classic feel without going over the top.  This trend continued throughout the parks.  Our first day in California was the warmest, but we did not swim.  However, the pool area is extremely nice and offers enough space for a vast amount of guests.  The Grand Californian offers two amazing features, which no other Disneyland resort can offer-an entrance to California Adventure and Downtown Disney.  The resort also has multiple dining areas highlighted by Napa Rose and Storytellers Café.  Both offer wonderful dining experiences.  There is also a snack area called White Water Snacks and two lounges.  Overall, we decided we would stay at this resort when we return to Disneyland.

Come back to enjoy the rest of our Disneyland trip.

Justin Eggenberger, Co-owner of Adventure is Out There Travel, LLC

justin@adventureisouttheretravel.com                  Twitter @JAEggenberger

Is Disney Cruise Line Just for Families with Kids?

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So often when talking about cruising with friends and family, the first thing I hear when suggesting Disney Cruise Line is “I don’t want to be on a ship with all those kids!” or “isn’t that line just for families?”.  I had the absolute pleasure of cruising with five of my friends last November and found out for myself just how wrong both of those statements are.

Spaces on the ship

-Mallory says “I went in thinking wed have to stick one little portion of the ship to avoid hyped up children.  That wasn’t the case at all!”.

-the Cove pool and bar was one of our favorite hangouts on the ship.  The Cove is an adults only area and Disney does a wonderful job of enforcing this rule. There are cast members near the “entrances” gentling reminding families that this is adults only area and not to linger as they pass through.

-The District includes several very different bars and lounges.  The whole area is a great area for adults to have a drink, dance, and even sing.

-Don’t think that the “adults only” areas are the only places you’ll find magic.  We also rode the aquaDuck and of course ran into some of our favorite characters!

 

 

Dining and Entertainment

-“some of the best food I’ve ever had”

-Disney utilizes rotational dining in which your party rotates to a different dining room (Enchanted Garden, Royal Palace, and Animator’s Palate) with your serving team every night.

-Each dining room provides a different atmosphere and menu.  Everything we tried was delicious!

-Our serving team was outstanding!  They really engaged with us and learned some of our likes and dislikes.  For example, we had a bowl of cherries on our table every night.  They definitely brought a little extra magic to our trip.

-We went to a show every night before dinner.  These truly are “Broadway style” and appealed to all ages kids to adults.  Absolutely phenomenal!

-Room service is also an available option for dining.  We used it for snacks and coffee in the morning.  We were sure to order milk and cookies and of course Mickey Bars!

-In additional to the dining rooms and room service, Cabanas is also an option.  Cabanas is casual buffet style dining with many yummy options and we were always able to find a table to seat us all.

 

Accommodations

-There were five of us and we were able to book two connecting balcony rooms.

-Plenty of space for all of us.

-Bathrooms are split which was a HUGE bonus with five adults getting ready for dinner or a day in port.

-Beds were comfortable as was the fold out on the couch

-As our rooms were connecting, the divider between our two balconies was able to be opened which let us has have one large balcony to share. The below picture is before the divider was open.

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Ports

-We had two ports on our ship: Nassau and Castaway Cay

-Nassau was our first port and we scheduled excursions here.  There was a large selection of excursions and we had no problem finding two that our group split up to participate in.  The selection of excursion was varied and had great options for families and adults.

-Castaway Cay (Disney’s private island) was our second port.

-When we first boarded the ship we went directly to guest services to register for the Castaway Cay 5K.  5K participants we among the first off the ship when we docked at Castaway Cay.  Abilities vary and we were not the only participants walking.

-After the 5K some of us went to the ship to change and we headed to beach.  Serenity Bay is the adult’s only section.  The water is shallow and perfect for waiting.  We had no problem finding enough chairs for all of us to sit together.

-Near Serenity Bay are a bar and an eatery.  Lunch was wonderful.  So many options; chicken, fish, ribs, and sides.  Don’t forget to grab some banana bread or ice cream for desert!

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This is only a taste of our trip and I think the only complaint we had was that we didn’t have enough time to explore the ship.  We embarked on Friday and left on Monday.  So to answer the question of “isn’t Disney Cruise Line just for families with kids?” the answer is NO!  There is so much to do for adults too!

Surviving Disney with Small Children

Traveling to Disney World with little ones can be the most magical (and exhausting) trip you will ever take!  The first time we took our little princess, she was 2.5.  At that point, I had only traveled to Disney as a child and as an adult with no children, so I had no idea what I was getting myself into!  After asking friends and scouring the internet, I found lots of good tips and tricks.  We have now taken Princess L to Disney at 2.5, 3.5, and just two weeks ago for her 5th birthday.  Every trip has been different because of her age and interests, but I have used a lot of the same tricks to keep myself sane throughout our trips!  So here are my top tricks and tips for traveling with little ones to Walt Disney World!

  1. Schedule around your child’s “magic” time. This is the time of day your child is most agreeable/best behaved.  When Princess L was 2.5, her “magic time” was morning.  Anywhere between 7am-Noonish, she was almost always in a great mood and the most cooperative.  As soon as lunch time would hit, she would turn into a hangry beast and NOTHING was going to happen until she ate something and took a nap!  disney-tiredWith that in mind, I scheduled the majority of our character meet & greets and fast passes during those hours and planned to head back to our resort at lunch time to get her fed and down for a nap.  Once she was well rested, we would take her back to the park and figured anything we got done between then and bedtime was a bonus!  It worked out great and we had very minimal meltdowns.  We still do this, but our resort time is getting shorter and shorter.  She hasn’t taken a regular nap in a couple years, but Disney tired is a special kind of tired!  Also, going back to the resort for a break gives your kids a break from all the excitement, which can get overwhelming and lead to more meltdowns!
  1. Ziploc bags & Take n toss sippy cups are your friend! Seriously!  We used Ziploc bags for everything like leftover food because Princess L is a grazer (and takes forever to eat), dirty clothes, snacks, etc.  We took a gallon Ziploc bag to the park every day with a full change of clothes (shirt, shorts, underwear, socks) just in case.  You never know when spills or accidents will happen and this will keep you from having to spend Disney prices on a new outfit!  Bonus, the mess can be contained in the Ziploc until you get back to your resort.  In 3 trips, we have had to use our change of clothes twice.  Once for a potty accident and once because of a spill!  Plus it’s easy to just grab the bag and toss under the stroller.  We also bring a few take n toss sippy cups.  My kid loves chocolate milk, but they are always in a bottle that she can’t really drink out of.  Animal Kingdom does not have lids and only paper straws because of the animals, so a sippy cup comes in handy there!  They are great on the plane as well.  If you don’t want to wash them out, you can throw them out when you’re done.  They’re fairly cheap and come in all sorts of Disney prints!
  1. I guarantee you will LOVE and HATE your stroller at Disney! Having a good stroller is key!  A cheap umbrella stroller is okay, but you will appreciate something that rolls a lot nicer (and has storage) when you’re pushing around a child (and their gear) all day.  We have a City Mini stroller, which we love.  lila-strollerIf you don’t have a nice stroller, there is really no need to go out and buy one just for vacation.  There are several companies that rent strollers out in the Orlando area and they will deliver to your resort.  The majority of rented strollers are Baby Jogger City Mini or City Mini doubles.  You will see them all over the parks and for good reason!  They push easily, fold one-handed, and have a decent storage.  There are other options for rented strollers as well, but the Baby Jogger brand in particular is my fave.   Bonus, they’re fairly easy to fit on a crowded bus, because they fold almost totally flat.
  1. Yes, there are TONS of things to do at Disney, but I’m talking about waiting in line and waiting for food.  Those are the times Princess L struggles with.  Not only at Disney, but in our regular life I always have a play pack in my purse.  You can find them at Dollar Tree, Target, Walmart, etc.  They’re a little Ziploc pack that includes a small coloring book, crayons, and stickers and they’re usually around $1.  There are loads of Disney ones as well!  I also keep a couple games on my phone that I know she likes but that I don’t let her play often.  When the coloring book isn’t going to work and she’s burnt out looking for hidden Mickeys, I whip out my phone with her fave app open.  I also bring a few power banks to charge my phone.  (There are also fuel rod kiosks at the parks!) Between taking a million pics, looking up fast passes, and letting the kiddo play with my phone, my battery doesn’t last long!
  1. Expect nothing, appreciate everything! Taking a little one to Disney can feel (at times) like walking around with a ticking time bomb!  i-hate-akToddlers can be so unpredictable and you never know what they will like/dislike!  Don’t be afraid to switch up plans because your kid just isn’t having it!  Maybe s/he is afraid of characters.  Don’t force it because that isn’t fun for anyone! There are photopass photographers everywhere, with and without characters.  We have our share of pics where Princess L did not cooperate (see the Animal Kingdom picture!)  It’s ok!  Maybe they just want to ride Carousel of Progress six times in a row.  (L’s was Haunted Mansion over and over again!) Maybe they want to watch the ducks swim around the ponds at Epcot for 30 minutes.  Flexibility is key and sometimes you just have to roll with it!  If you don’t force a hectic schedule, it will make for a happier trip for everyone.  And no, you won’t get to see and do everything, but that is ok!  I guarantee that your kid won’t remember that they hated Elsa or didn’t get to ride a certain ride.  They will remember the little moments like riding on the “Mickey Bus”, eating a dole whip for breakfast, and Mickey waving to them from the parade float!

Not all these tips will work for every family, but hopefully one of two will help your family have a more magical vacation!

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