Family of Five

Did you know... certain hotel rooms at Walt Disney World sleep up to 5 people?

At the Value level, Family Suites that sleep up to 6 are available at both Art of Animation and All-Star Music. These rooms have a separate bedroom with a common area that holds a combination of a Murphy bed, a pull-out couch and/or a sleeper chair. These rooms also include a kitchenette and two bathrooms to help a larger family get ready in the mornings!

For Moderate level hotels, Port Orleans-Riverside and Caribbean Beach offer rooms that sleep 5 - two queen beds and a child-sized Murphy bed. These rooms are more traditional, with one bathroom and a small fridge. They are a more affordable option for families that have more than 4 people! The Cabins at Fort Wilderness are another option that sleeps up to 6 with a queen bed and twin bunk beds in one room and a living area with a pull-out couch. The cabins also have a kitchenette and a personal deck.

For the utmost luxury, most of the Deluxe resorts offer rooms that sleep 5, frequently with the addition of a small Murphy bed. The Disney Vacation Club resorts also offer suites or varying sizes that can sleep up to 13! No matter what your family's size, there's a room for you!

Never Grow Up!

Movie Review: Fantastic Beast & Where to Find Them (No Spoilers)

    I don't typically do movie reviews, on my blog or anywhere else, but I feel like this is a special occasion! I grew up with Harry Potter - waiting for new books to come out, racing my friends to finish it first, seeing the movies at midnight the night they came out! The book releases spanned my teenage and young adult years, from reading the first few books at age 14 to the final movie at 25. My first date with my husband was to see Disney/Pixar's UP! But our second date(s) were a Harry Potter movie marathon before seeing the 6th movie at the drive in. My love of the Harry Potter universe is a close second to my love of Disney.

Our First European Adventure: Two Americans in Paris

    To get caught up on our trip so far, Amsterdam was awesome (Day 1Day 2) and our first day in Paris was... a learning experience.  Determined to see some of the world famous attractions Paris has to offer, we had a quick room-service breakfast of fruit and baguettes and got ready.  I grabbed our passport to lock in the safe and we set off on our site seeing expedition!

Our First European Adventure: Learn From My Mistakes in Paris

     In case I haven't mentioned it enough, I was so pumped to visit Paris. In high school (longer ago than I'd like to say), I took French as my foreign language for when I inevitably visited. More recently, Disneyland Paris edged out Paris the city as number 1 on my bucket list, but visiting the greater Paris area was GOING to happen. Our compromise for Europe was going to Amsterdam for my husband and going to Disneyland Paris for me. So now that you're in the proper mindset for how I felt about France, we journey from Amsterdam (Day 1, Day 2) to Paris.

Our First European Adventure: How I Fell In Love With Amsterdam

Click here to read about Day 1 in Amsterdam, 

   The following morning, we slept in until lunch time and were frankly still exhausted. We grabbed some sandwiches from the small cafe in the hotel lobby and made our plans for the day. Aside from food, my number one "must-do" was a canal cruise tour. Initially, I had planned on doing a meal cruise of some sort - everything from pizza and burgers to a 5-course meal. However, because of our late start to the day and the fact that we already had plans for dinner, we opted for one of the many one-hour guided tours.

     Based on reviews, we chose the Gray Line 100 Highlights canal cruise tour.  Did you know... the canals were such a vital part of European history, they have been designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site? During our tour, we learned a lot of interesting facts about the city, from architectural trends to rumors and folk lore. We also shared a somber moment as we passed the house where Anne Frank and her family sought refuge during the Holocaust. I took way too many pictures (over 100), but the city was just so beautiful from the water. It is said you haven't truly seen Amsterdam until you see it from the water, and I must say I agree.

Our First European Adventure: Arrival in Amsterdam

      If you had asked me six months ago where I most wanted to travel in Europe, I can honestly say Amsterdam would not have made the list. All I knew was that marijuana and prostitution were legal there... which didn't really sound like my scene. When my husband mentioned he wanted to visit a friend in Amsterdam during our trip to Europe, I was not enthusiastic.  However, I figured since he was going to Disneyland Paris for me, I would go to Amsterdam for him.... even if I was less than thrilled.

WDW Tiara Takeover

Stop for a moment and imagine a weekend away from your family and responsibilities. Where would you go? Are you lounging by the pool and drinking mimosas for breakfast? Maybe you'd rather travel around the world, visiting as many countries as you can. Perhaps a dinner show with your friends is more your speed. For some, it could just mean uninterrupted time in the bathroom. What if I told you could have all of these in one weekend... And someone else has already planned everything so you don't have to!

Disney Dining for Romance

     For most people, Walt Disney World conjures images of balloons, princesses, and larger than life characters. While that is of course part of the draw for children and families, there's so much more to Disney parks. Today, I want to explore a more adult side of Disney! Here are some of the most romantic spots at Walt Disney World!

Trip Report: Our First European Adventure

Image courtesy of Jens Fricke
     For me, Europe has always seemed like a magical land of castles and fairy tales. Visiting France, in particular, had been high on my bucket list for as long as I can remember. When we found out my husband's work would be sending him to Munich for training, we jumped at the opportunity to visit Europe with his flight already paid for.

     Those who know me know I'm a planner by nature - which is why I plan vacations for a living! I'm used to planning Disney vacations several months in advance and booking dining and fastpasses and the like. The idea that I had less than 2 months to plan a vacation to a place I had never been was a bit stressful! I dove into my research, but agreed to my husband's request that this trip be less planned and more spontaneous.

Photo courtesy of: Charles Clegg
     First, we chose our route. My husband wanted to visit a friend that lived in Amsterdam, Netherlands. She was going to be travelling the latter part of our trip, so we decided that would be our first stop. The absolute #1 item on my bucket list was Disneyland Paris, so we added that as a stop. If we were going to pass through Paris on our way to Disneyland, you have to stop and see the Eiffel Tower! Finally, we would end our trip in Munich a few days before training was scheduled to start. By happy coincidence, Oktoberfest ending the weekend we were scheduled to arrive, so we added that to our must-do list.

    I researched top attractions, best restaurants, cool neighborhoods, and read dozens of blog posts about each city.  While I didn't specifically book anything, I wanted to have an idea of what was available so we didn't miss something amazing because we didn't know about it.  I approached this trip with the philosophy that everything will be new, so it's okay if we don't do that absolute best thing we possibly could for the lowest price possible.  I worked hard to adopt a more "go with the flow" attitude toward everything we would see and do. We would squeeze what we could in to 8 days and the rest would have to wait for the next trip we're sure to take.

   To read about our experiences in each city, click the links below!  I'll update the link as I write each post.

Amsterdam, Netherlands: Arrival in Amsterdam   How I Fell In Love With Amsterdam

Paris, France: My Mistakes in Paris  Two Americans in Paris

Disneyland Paris

Munich (M√ľnchen), Germany

Even when you're traveling the world, never grow up!

Off On A European Adventure

I'm currently in Europe exploring new places and gaining new experiences to share with you. I can't wait to write my trip report and reviews once I get back. In the meantime, follow me on Instagram for live photos during our trip!

Never Grow Up!

Ten FREE Things To Do Without a Park Ticket

     People ask me all the time what they should do on their arrival or departure day that doesn't require a park ticket.  Here are some of my favorite free things to do around Walt Disney World that aren't in the parks!

Poll: Favorite Mickey-Shaped Foods

When in comes to Disney Parks, there's no shortage of foods with familiar round ears. From waffles and pancakes to muffins and cupcakes, you can find a hint of Mickey in a variety of edible forms!

What's Your Favorite Mickey-Shaped Foods?

Learn the Disney Lingo

     When it comes to Disney, there's a lot of new words and acronyms to learn.  Here's a list of some Disney phrases and shorthand. Comment below with any additional terms you want to know about!

What You NEED To Know About Walt Disney World Hotels

Walt Disney World includes a variety of options that cover a wide array of budgets and preferences.  There are four main hotel categories at WDW: value, moderate, deluxe, and deluxe villas. Each level includes multiple hotels for you to choose from, to find the right fit for you and your travel companions!

Click Here to read about the benefits of staying at a Walt Disney World hotel.

Fall Is Here at Walt Disney World

     Fall decorations are up at Walt Disney World!  Orange, yellow, and Mickey pumpkins galore. With the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival and Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party, Fall is an amazing time to visit Walt Disney World!  The decorations will be up until around November 1st, when the transition to Christmas/holiday decor will begin.

     What questions do you have about visiting Disney in the fall?

Never Grow Up!

Announcing Golf Getaway Weekend!

We have another exciting event coming in 2017! March 2-5, 2017 Living With The Magic Vacations will be hosting a Golf Getaway Weekend! We have discounted rooms available, an amazing opportunity to golf at Disney's Palm Golf Course in a tournament complete with a PGA Professional and lunch!! We also have discounted park tickets available for those who bring their families along!

Mod Housewife's Magic on the High Seas... Part 2

Guest post written by The Mod Housewife!
Click here to read Part 1!

So now that you are on the cruise (hopefully enjoying an adult beverage and relaxing in a lounge chair while your children are playing in the Mickey Pool), it’s time for your activities and excursions.
Here is a day-by-day account of our cruise activities: (The Disney Navigator was waiting in our room each evening to let us know the next day’s activities)

Mod Housewife's Magic on the High Seas... Part 1

Guest post written by The Mod Housewife!
After conquering the parks, we decided to conquer the high seas aboard the Disney Cruise Liner, The Fantasy. It’s been two weeks since we returned; and I still think back to each day’s activities, the people met and the places discovered.

We took the 7-Day cruise from Port Canaveral and traveled to Tortola, St.Thomas/St. John and Castaway Cay (Disney’s private island).

In this first blog post, I want to give you the details of booking and then arriving on the cruise.

Amsterdam, and Paris, and Munich... Oh My!

I have some pretty exciting news! My husband's work is sending him to Europe for training so we decided to take advantage of the opportunity by flying in a week early and visiting a few different countries in a whirlwind adventure! I'll post in more detail once we have a more clear itinerary, but I just had to share!

Top 10 Reasons to Stay at a Walt Disney World Hotel

You're thinking about vacationing to Walt Disney World! One of the first things you'll need to decide is where you want to stay. In central Florida, there is certainly no shortage of hotels and other accommodations.... so why pick an official Disney hotel?

WDW Planning Timelines

My clients frequently ask me when to start planning a Walt Disney World vacation. I thought it might be helpful to share some general timeline tips! I'm always available for questions, too!

When Should I Visit Walt Disney World?

     There are a lot of factors to consider when planning when to take your Walt Disney World vacation. For a lot of families, vacation dates are dictated by work and/or school schedules. Other families plan based on weather or crowds. In general, the less crowded the parks, the cheaper it will be to visit. One of the perks of travelling without children is the freedom to vacation when school is in session and crowds are lighter.

     Here are my thoughts about vacationing to Walt Disney World for each month of the year!

Main Street Electrical Parade Ending

The Main Street Electrical Parade is officially ending its run at Walt Disney World on October 9, 2016. It will then be presented  for a limited time at Disneyland. Have you ever seen this parade?

Understanding the Disney Dining Plans

The Disney Dining Plan (DDP) is a way for families staying at an on-site official Walt Disney World hotel to prepay for food on their Disney vacation. Each plan includes a combination of snacks, quick-service meals, and/or table service meals. Disney loosely defines a snack as 1 frozen ice cream novelty, popcorn scoop (single-serving box), single piece of whole fruit, 22-oz. fountain soft drink or juice, or similar; these are frequently designated with the purple and white DDP symbol, but if you’re unsure ask a cast member. A quick-service meal, more commonly known as fast food, is defined as 1 entree or complete combo meal and a single-serving non-alcoholic beverage. A table-service meal, or sit-down meal, includes one entree, dessert, and non-alcoholic beverage or one full buffet. There are a handful of signature dining restaurants and dinner shows that are considered to be a higher value meal and require the use of two table-service credits.

Winter 2016 Discount Announcement

Save up to 20%* on rooms at select Walt Disney World® Resort hotels for stays most nights Nov. 6- Nov. 10, Nov. 13-Nov. 22, Nov. 26-Dec. 23, 2016 when you book Aug. 8-Oct. 8, 2016.

Click here to request your personalized, no obligation quote!

Advanced Dining Reservations (ADRs) Explained

What is an Advanced Dining Reservation?

Walt Disney World's Advanced Dining Reservations, or ADRs, are similar to reservations at your favorite local restaurant. You make your reservation for a certain restaurant at a given time. On that day, you arrive at the restaurant the recommended 15 minutes before your reservation time and get seated as soon as possible. There are exceptions where sometimes you'll be seated early and others you'll be seated later than your reservation, but Disney generally tries to get you to your table as quickly as possible.

Girls' Getaway Weekend: Day 5 - Hollywood Studios

A Brief Hollywood Adventure

The final day of Girls' Getaway Weekend was pretty laid back. Since everyone was leaving at different times, there were no official events. One of my roommates access I had planned to go to Hollywood Studios for the morning since our flight wasn't until late afternoon. Our other roommate had a late flight as well and decided to join us.  We checked out of our room and stored our bags with luggage services so we could visit the park unencumbered.

Girls' Getaway Weekend: Day 4 - Magic Kingdom

Magic Kingdom

We awoke on our last full day at the parks super excited to be visiting the Magic Kingdom! No Walt Disney World visit is complete without seeing Cinderella Castle, at least for me! We arrived just before rope drop and waited to go through security. I got separated from my group, but we quickly met back up inside. Our first stop on our Magic Kingdom day was the remodeled Main Street Bakery (aka Starbucks) for some much needed caffeine. We then met up as a big Girls' Weekend group for a picture in front of the castle!

Girls' Getaway Weekend: Day 3 - Animal Kingdom

A Wild Safari Breakfast

The second unique event for Girls' Getaway Weekend involved getting to ride the first Kilimanjaro Safari of the day, followed by a private breakfast in Africa.  When I was a Cast Member, my primary role was selling tickets at the front of Animal Kingdom. Getting to walk through the park as the animals are waking up, before the crowds start to file in, took me back to some of my favorite memories from my CM days.  If you get chance to enter the park before it opens (like by having an early breakfast reservation at Tusker House), I really recommend giving yourself some extra time to really look around and experience the animals in the quiet peacefulness of the early morning.

Girls' Getaway Weekend: Day 2 - Epcot

A Very Beachy Breakfast

The first official Girls' Getaway Weekend event was breakfast at Cape May Cafe at the beach club resort. After the craziness of the previous night trying to get to the Boardwalk my roommates and I decided to take a taxi, especially since we had a fairly early reservation time. We ended up being the first ones there so we checked in at the restaurant and then went outside to explore the grounds. Having only been to the Beach Club once before to go to Beaches and Cream, I hadn't previously had much chance to see the resort. I can honestly say I'm a fan, with the Beach Club now sitting safely in second, right behind the Polynesian, for places I want to stay!

Girls' Getaway Weekend: Arrival Day!

Planes, Trains, and Automobiles

      In all my Disney adventures, I've only flown to Orlando once before... and that was when I was 9! After the driving fiasco during our last trip to Florida, I was definitely excited to be flying. My friend picked me up around noon and we were on our way.  Our flight was uneventful, other than getting to see an aerial view of our resort, Pop Century!


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Tip Tuesday: Have A Plan

Tip Tuesday! Even during the busiest times of year, a good plan can help make sure you get the most out of your vacation, from dining to fast passes to making time to relax!

Shameless plug -- I'd love to help plan your next trip!

Tip Tuesday: Hidden Mickey

Hidden Mickeys are representations of our favorite mouse,  hidden throughout the Disney Parks. There are entire websites and books devoted to finding them! You can also ask Cast Members if they know if any in their area.

Tip Tuesday: Wear Sunscreen

The Florida sun can be brutal, especially in spring. Be sure to apply appropriate amounts of sunscreen for your skin type. As a melanin-challenged person, I used 50+ SPF and apply multiple times per day.

Pro tip: if you get a beach-side massage with oil, be sure you completely remove the oil before applying your sunscreen... Otherwise you look like this!

Tip Tuesday: Fastpass Screenshot

At Walt Disney World, fastpasses are an important part of a good vacation plan. However, it is easy to forget what time you're supposed to be at Splash Mountain... Or wait, is that after Pirates of the Caribbean?

Your fastpasses are easily accessible from the My Disney Experience portal, but that means logging in and pulling them up. Doing so multiple times a day, plus taking pictures, and oh yeah maybe talking on your phone, can really wear out your battery.
To save time and preserve your battery life, take a screenshot of your fastpasses and make them the lock screen on your phone. It keeps you from having to pull up the app to check, saving your battery and data!

Never Grow Up!

Halloween and Christmas Party Tickets Now On Sale

Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party tickets are now available! Prices start at $67 per adult for September 2, 8, 11, 13, 16, 18, 20, 25 and go all the way up to $105 per adult for Halloween night.

Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party tickets are also available with prices that start at $81/adult for November 10 and 13 and go all the way up to $99/adult for December 16, 18, and 22.

These parties are a great way to Never Grow Up!!!

May the 4th Be With You

Today, find your inner jedi (or sith lord if that's your jam)! Make a light saber out of a pool noodle and test your battle skills. Have a movie marathon and drink every time Luke whines... Or maybe not because alcohol poisoning is bad news. However you celebrate today, do it in the name of the force!

Free Dining Announcement

Free Dining is back!! This offer is very LIMITED so contact us today! We are busy updating our current clients reservations and then will take new requests!

Request your quote before this deal is gone!

Book Through July 8, 2016 for travel:
August 23 through October 1, 2016
November 15 through November 21, 2016
November 26 through November 28, 2016
December 10 through December 21, 2016

Offer excludes the following room types: 3-bedroom villas, campsites, Disney’s Art of Animation Resort – Little Mermaid Standard Rooms and Bungalows at Disney’s Polynesian Villas & Bungalows.

Around the World in 8 Hours

Selecting my favorite Disney park is difficult because there are things I love at each of them. I worked at Animal Kingdom so it's special to me; Hollywood Studios has my favorite thrill rides; and I don't feel like I've truly arrived at Disney World until I see Cinderella Castle at Magic Kingdom. But when it comes to fun for the adults, Epcot is the clear winner!

First and foremost, Epcot had the best options for food. You have the option of international cuisine, from Canadian poutine to Japanese hibachi. Disney strives to give an authentic experience, even importing water from Naples to make sure the pizza tastes the way it would if you went to Italy. You also have the opportunity to dine with Mickey and friends at Garden Grill or enjoy an underwater view at Coral Reef, if that's more your speed. My mouth is watering just talking about it.

Each of the parks has subtle differences in atmosphere.  Epcot is all about discovery.  As you walk around Epcot, the focus is more on exploring the environment and trying new things. One of my favorite things about the World Showcase is each pavilion employs individuals from the host country.  I love to ask them about their experiences and learn about them and their culture.  For example, the Morocco pavilion's stunning tile work includes purposeful mistakes because their religious believes that nothing man-made should be perfect.  While not as educational as the park once was, opportunities to learn and expand your horizons still abound at Epcot.

Epcot is home to two of my favorite events at Walt Disney World:

The Flower and Garden Festival in the Spring gives guests a chance to learn about horticulture from around the world, talk to experts about various gardening techniques, and more.  Also, visually stunning floral arrangements can be found throughout the park, from character topiaries to flowers planted in the shape of a giant hidden Mickey.

The International Food and Wine Festival plays host to culinary adventures each fall. Throughout the park, kiosks offer bite-sized tastes of favorite foods and drinks from over twenty regions of the world, like escargot from France, lamb from Australia, even haggis from Scotland (if you're feeling really adventurous).  My husband and I like to share items so we get to taste more of the offerings from each location.  The Food and Wine Festival also offers seminars on different, food and beverage related topics like how chocolate is made or the appropriate win pairings for different entrees.  What a tasty way to learn!

Drinking Around the World
While other activities at Epcot may appeal to people of all ages, this one is strictly for the 21 and up crowd.  The World Showcase offers a glimpse into 11 regions of the world, each offering a variety of alcoholic beverages, in addition to their food choices.  Drinking Around the World is a popular activity where people try to imbibe a drink from each of the countries.  There are different techniques, but most seem to recommend starting in Mexico and continuing clockwise around the World Showcase. I tried it once, but it was pretty hot out and I didn't want to end up miserable so I only tried three drinks.  If you do want to take this on, I recommend pacing yourself and mixing some food in with your beverages.  You don't want to get permanently banned from Disney World for climbing the pyramid in Mexico!

Which park is your favorite? Comment below!

Never Grow Up!

Dreams Come True, or How I Became a Travel Agent

Costume from Hollywood & Vine
As some of you may know, I spend a semester of college working at Walt Disney World through the Disney College Program!  I started out working Quick-Service Food & Beverage at Tusker House (way back before it became a table-service restaurant) and ended my program as a DAK Vacation Planner.  In non-Disney speak, I went from working fast food to selling tickets at the front of Disney's Animal Kingdom.  But saying I sold tickets doesn't really cover what my job entailed.  I was the first point of contact for families at the park, many of whom had never been to Walt Disney World before. I was there to introduce families to all that Walt Disney World has to offer and make sure they were getting the right tickets for their needs, whether that meant getting a 5-day base ticket or a 2-day Park Hopper. Sure, I sold tickets, but my real job was getting to know the family in front of me and helping make sure they had a magical vacation!

That was over a decade ago now... wow, I feel old... but I still get the same job from helping others have the right vacation for their family.  For several years, I have helped friends and family plan their Disney vacations for fun (and the occasional beer and chicken wings). However, I felt like something was missing - I could give advice, but I wasn't really helping them plan.  Then came Amanda at Living with the Magic Vacations!  In August 2015, I met Amanda through a Disney College Program Alumni page on Facebook.  After speaking a few times, Amanda offered me the chance to fulfill my dream of becoming a full-blown Travel Agent!  I get so much joy from helping my clients find the right vacation for them.  The pixie dust overflows when clients tell me how amazing their vacation was, knowing I had a part in bringing happiness to the world!

They say if you love your job, you never work a day in your life.  Well, I love this job and the fact that it allows me to share my enthusiasm and knowledge of Disney with fellow fans and newbies, alike. While the hours are strange and the main boss is a bit CHEESY (pun very much intended), I'm happy to have a career that allows me to Never Grow Up!

To my fellow lost boys and lost girls, I hope you never grow up either!

Follow the bouncing ball to Amanda's Blog next to read about how she decided to start Living with the Magic Vacations!

Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party Dates Announced

The days for the 2016 Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party have been announced!

November: 7, 8, 10, 11, 13, 15, 18, 27, 29

December: 1, 2, 4, 6, 8, 9, 11, 13, 15, 16, 18, 22

My Magical 30th Birthday - Animal Kingdom

My days as a Cast Member were spent at Animal Kingdom, for the most part. For that reason, this park will always hold a special place in my heart! However, as much as I don't want it to be, Animal Kingdom usually tends to be a half day park for us. For this trip, we saved it for the last day, when we knew we wouldn't have the energy to spend a full day at a park.

To begin the day (around 10:30), we split up with me riding Expedition Everest and Ken heading to "It's Tough to be a Bug." We then met back up at Flametree BBQ, our favorite quick-service dining option at Animal Kingdom.  We snagged a water-side table with a great view of the progress being made on the new Rivers of Light show, coming next month! We were also joined by a few winged friends for our meal! (Side note: please don't feed the animals - it really is bad for them.)

Our fastpass plan was to do the Kilimanjaro Safari at 12:30 and the Festival of the Lion King at 1:30. However, we finished lunch quickly and noticed the line for Lion King was pretty short so we dropped our 1:30 fastpasses and did the standby line instead.  The Festival of the Lion King is one of my very favorite things! It's a beautiful combination of dancing, singing, acrobatics, and Disney fun. Way back in the day, I was a competitive dancer and dreamed of being a part of this show.  While that didn't quite pan out, I still love the artistry of it. This showing was a bit unique in that one of the main characters, the red bird, was not present.  I found it fascinating how smoothly the other troupe members covered for the absence, so much so that my husband didn't even notice it.  While I definitely missed the romantic pas de deux to Can You Feel the Love Tonight, the show went off without a hitch.

We finished our time at Animal Kingdom with a safari adventure. I love how every ride is different, as the animals interact with their environment.  On this safari, we were able to have a great view of some elephants, including a new baby calf. Every time I ride the Kilimanjaro Safaris, I get to experience something new!  After the safari, we made our way back to the car and headed back to the room to start packing... worst part of vacation!

Read about the rest of my Magical 30th Birthday Here: