Mama Monday : Wine Stroll in the World Showcase part one

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Welcome to Mama Monday! Disney isn’t all about the kiddos. There is plenty for the Mamas (and dads) to do while at Disney too and I am going to help show them to you!
Our first stop in our Mama Monday series is Epcot. It is one of my favorite parks for the evenings. I find it relaxing. We go hard during the day and come evening we want a nice meal and a drink or two and a stroll through the countries.  

To help get you started check out the World Showcase Wine Walk. The above picture is courtesy of our friends over at The Disney Food Blog. It is approximately $20 for six wine tastings, two in each country of France, Italy, and Germany.  You can start in any of the three countries and purchase the card there. They will staple the receipt to the card so you don’t lose it. Then taste away. I have started in each of them personally and I like to end in France but it’s your stroll so choose! The tastes really are a nice sized taste but no where near a full glass. It is about a 2 ounce pour of each wine. The wines are set though I have had them sub one out when they ran out. That is not usual though. So overall you are only consuming 12 ounces of wine.

Mamas tend to worry so much about what are the kids doing, how are they, that we can go the entire night and not even realize we are thirsty. Now with the wine walk card, you have bought the card. You are going to use it. You can’t let it go to waste right? I think that is the beauty of it personally. It forces me as the mama to stop, take a breath , and enjoy just a little taste of something adult. Prior to kids, I would get the card as an appetizer so to speak with the wines. Just some little tastes and then I would choose which glass of wine I wanted at each country in addition to my little tastes. If that is more your style, it works too. But I imagine for most mamas the card alone will be a luxury. I mentioned I like to end in France. It is because I do still indulge in a full glass at the end of the evening on our countries stroll. The empty park benches below make a perfect spot to enjoy the wine.
I know what you are thinking, that sounds great and all but what about the kids? They will never let us stroll through the countries.  Next week find out what to do with your children during your evening stroll. I promise they will be along for the walk! Are you ready to check it out in person? Email me for more information. 
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They Will Never Remember It So We Are Waiting Until The Kids Are Older

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This is one of the biggest misconceptions about Disney that I hear often. Why would you ever want to wait to take your kids to THE MOST MAGICAL PLACE ON EARTH?? We took our oldest for his first birthday. He’s three now. He certainly DOES remember his first Disney trip. There are things we did on that trip that we didn’t do on other trips. He adores the Disney characters and over time who his favorite one is changes. He still remembers feeding Minnie Mouse grapes at Chef Mickey’s. 


Now that he has a younger brother (who we took on his first trip when he was nine months, he’s about to turn 1) he tells him about the trip. He has been to Disney multiple times and each trip was different in its own way. We took him on the Tea Cups on this trip and on his next trip he remembered going on them. He was quite concerned though on his first ride on them.

We had two couples and their kids go with us on that trip and he clearly remembers the people that were with us. He talks about H and L going to Disney with him for his birthday and he asks before every trip if they are going to go again with us. No doubt they remember this trip too. L was 4 and H was 3. 

If we followed this guideline of only doing things they will remember, we would never leave the house with our kids. They take music classes, swim lessons, sports classes, go on a variety of play dates, attend birthday parties, dinners out, etc. We create family memories together by living in the present. 

The best part about taking them when they are younger than 3 is they are FREE. That’s right, FREE. Disney allows children who are under the age of three to go into all of the parks, water parks, etc for free. They can share meals with you at every restaurant which means the character meals are FREE. You can save hundreds of dollars on their first trip just by going before they turn 3. You can even celebrate their 3rd birthday there and as long as they are 2 on the day of check in, they are FREE. This is definitely a great deal.

Even if he never remembered this trip though, this look right here is one that is embedded in my memory and his daddy’s memory and I know we will never forget it. This was the look on his face when he saw we were about to meet Mickey Mouse. He was not even walking yet and he wanted down on the ground and he crawled as fast as he could over to Mickey and Minnie. The pure innocent joy on his face makes every trip worth it to us to take him and to let him and now his brother experience Disney.


So when asked why take the kids if they won’t remember it anyhow, I always say take the kids. YOU will remember it and they will surprise you with what they do remember. I personally could not have waited to share the Disney magic with my kids until they were older. We went to Disney often before the kids were born and have continued to go often since they arrived. We have incredible family memories from all of our trips and my kids are very lucky to have experienced these.


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To Hop or Not To Hop

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Prior to becoming a Disney Vacation Planner, when we went to Disney I always purchased the Park Hopper feature. It is currently approximately $61(including tax) per person to add the park hopper at Walt Disney World. Now after having planned hundreds of tips, I still feel the exact same way. It is the best $61 you will spend! 

For those of you that are not familiar with how the tickets work, Disney sells a Base Park ticket that allows you to enter one park per day. It can be any of the four parks at Walt Disney World: Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Hollywood Studios, or Animal Kingdom. At The Disneyland Resort it allows you to enter one of the two parks: Disneyland Park or Disney’s California Adventure. If you add the Park Hopper option you can go into multiple parks in one day. This is why I think you should add it:

1) It allows you the most flexibility with your dining schedule. Not everyone actually books their dining at 180 days. If you are my client and this is an advance planned trip, sure your dining is booked at 180 days out but if not and it’s a last minute trip or if you are choosing one of the most popular restaurants, it is nice to be able to take the reservation that is available and not worry about which park you should be in that day.

2) Some parks just don’t take as long as others. Animal Kingdom is a prime example. I have never spent open to close in that park. This park has some of the earliest closing times so the animals can get their rest and there’s not much to see after dark there. This often leaves a lot of hours left that could be spent at another park.

3) Even with the best planning, some days you just aren’t feeling like a particular park. Or you didn’t get to a ride you really wanted to do at another park and you want to hop over and squeeze that ride in. The year we ended up at the Magic Kingdom during the Christmas Parade taping was the time that sticks out the most when something unplanned happened to our stay. It was a makeup taping day so we weren’t expecting it. The crowds were much higher than expected and the park was broken up where you couldn’t get from one land to the next as easily as usual. We left and went to enjoy another less crowded park. 

4) And what about the unexpected events that can happen. You might oversleep one day and miss rope drop at a critical park or you might need to shift your plans to accommodate a late night the night before. You can’t do that as easily if you don’t have the park hopper. 

5) In the grand scheme of your total trip, this is a small dollar amount of an option and the return is much greater with it than without. 

Overall, I always recommend to HOP. Not everyone takes this advice and I can certainly plan a vacation without the hopper, but if it was my trip(and when it is my trip) I opt for the hopper every time for the most flexibility and best value of the tickets.

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Should I use a Disney Vacation Planner?

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YES!!!
First things first, not all planners are created equal when it comes to Disney.  Disney requires that vacation planners complete a training course called Disney’s College of Knowledge.  Once you have completed that you are eligible to become a Disney Travel Planner, however in my opinion that isn’t nearly enough to do an effective job.  You want to check to make sure that your agent is working with an agency that is a Disney Earmarked Authorized Vacation Planner agency.  This is a separate designation to Disney’s top agencies.  Those agencies require more of their planners.  For example, Mouseketrips, the one I work with, requires that you have real life hands on knowledge of Disney.  So their agents have been to the parks, on cruises, experienced Disney weddings, etc.  They also require their agents go through a more extensive training program than College of Knowledge. When choosing an agent, choose a Disney’s College of Knowledge graduate and one working with an Earmarked Disney Authorized Vacation Planner.  (hopefully ME but if not me, then make sure they do have these qualifications)
Now that that is out of the way, some people think it will cost them more if they use a travel agent.  Not true at all.  A Disney Travel Agent should always be FREE.  How is that possible?  Disney pays the agencies a commission and the agencies pay their planners.  This is another area in which not all agencies are created equal. One of the things that I led me to choose Mouseketrips is the attention to customer service.  We make sure that we are only recommending the options that are truly good for your family and your budget. I personally feel that you are going to be a happier, and hopefully repeat client if you have received a great value for your vacation and that means only the options you need.
You receive one on one attention when you book with a planner. Instead of calling into a call center and getting someone different every time, when you choose a vacation planner like myself you have direct contact with that person. My clients have my cell phone number and my email address and they know when they contact me I already know what they are celebrating, who is going, and all other important details of their trip.
In addition to all of those reasons, I also give my clients a personalized vacation itinerary. It has all the information they could possibly need to have the most magical trip so they just get to sit back and countdown the days to their vacation!
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