Tag Archives: trip planning

Fall 2017 Walt Disney World Discount

New room discounts were released for select dates October through December 2017!  There are also package versions of this same discount.  Some weekend and holiday check-in dates are excluded from the discount.

If you’re thinking of a trip this year, now is the time to book!  Some popular travel dates are already sold out at many hotels, so the earlier you can book the more options you’ll have for your hotel and room type selection.  Request your free Walt Disney World Quote today!

Magical Holidays 2017 Room Discount

You can save up to 20%* on rooms at select Walt Disney World® Resort Hotels for stays most nights Oct. 8-Dec. 24, 2017.

Booking and Travel Windows:

  • Book by Oct. 7 for stays most nights Oct. 8-Dec. 24, 2017.
  • Book by Dec. 24, 2017 for stays most nights Dec. 8-24, 2017.

When you stay at a select Walt Disney World Resort hotel, you’ll enjoy benefits like first access to Disney FastPass+**planning, complimentary MagicBandsExtra Magic Hours in a Theme Park each day to enjoy select attractions (valid Theme Park admission and Resort ID required), complimentary transportation and standard parking, plus more!

*The number of rooms allocated for this offer is limited. Length-of-stay requirements may apply. Savings based on the non-discounted price for the same room. Additional adult per-adult charges may apply if more than two adults per room at Disney Value, Moderate and Deluxe Resorts. Cannot be combined with any other discount or promotion. Advance reservations required. Offer excludes 3-bedroom villas, campsites, Cabins at Copper Creek Villas & Cabins at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge, Bungalows at Disney’s Polynesian Villas & Bungalows, Disney’s Art of Animation Resort – The Little Mermaid standard rooms. 20% savings for select Disney Deluxe and Deluxe Villa Resorts; lower savings may be available for other Disney Resort hotels.

**Valid Theme Park admission and online registration required. Disney FastPass+ attractions and entertainments experiences, the number of selections you can make and available arrival windows are limited.

Planning a Walt Disney World Vacation with Military Discount

Have you heard?  Great offers on Walt Disney World hotel rooms and tickets are available to active and retired service members.  These offers are available on a yearly basis and differ from other discount offers.


See this page for the full terms and more information about these offers.  Active duty and retired military qualify, and a spouse can use these discounts if the service member is not present.  Military ID showing active or retired status or permanently disabled veteran is required.  Veterans who did not retire do not qualify for these discounts.

To best take advantage of these offers we should design your trip around the ticket you select.  2017’s offer is a 4-Day Park Hopper or a 5-Day Park Hopper.  You can choose to add Water Park Fun & More for a small charge.  Let’s say you select the 5-Day Park Hopper + Water Park Fun & More option, how might we plan your trip?

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When a Travel Agent Plans Their Own Trip

I spend every day thinking about someone’s Disney vacation, excited about the fun activities they have planned or a special milestone they’re celebrating.  What’s it like when I plan my own trips?  We have a trip coming up so I thought I’d share some of the thought processes we go through.

As my own boss, I approve my own vacation days.  When we start to get an idea for a trip, one of the calendars I check against is my work calendar.  Are there any dining reservation openings or final payment due dates while I’m gone?  I need to be sure I have time set aside to keep current on these important dates.  For our upcoming trip I had to do this twice, as we had to make a major date change less than two months out.  Yes, we lost our Frozen Ever After Fastpasses :'(

We take two kinds of Disney vacations – DVC villa trips and resort hotel trips.  When we take a resort hotel trip, we prioritize unique room types or hotels we haven’t stayed in recently.  We also do split-stays frequently, which means more hotel experiences in a short time.  We may start a trip in a moderate hotel, then finish with a few days in a deluxe hotel.

This trip we are staying in a Garden Room at the Boardwalk.  These two-story Club Level rooms only sleep 2 adults, so we are  one year away from our family size outgrowing these rooms.  I’ve hoped to stay in these rooms for a few years and I’m excited to finally have the opportunity.


Boardwalk Inn lobby

As I mentioned above, our two types of trips are also planned differently.  Our DVC villa stays are usually planned a year or two in advance.   Our resort hotel trips are usually planned a few months out when we have an opportunity to get away for a few days.  These more spontaneous getaways have a fun factor that differs from the months of anticipation our DVC trips have.

We’re notorious dining reservation changers.  Ironically, when we book dining 180 days in advance we usually make few changes to our plans.  When we plan a few months in advance we constantly book and cancel dining reservations.  We aren’t seeking the “perfect” plan, rather we change our minds about what we’d like to do.  Since we have less time to brainstorm the trip our plans are constantly evolving.


Expedition Everest queue

New and Improved
We prioritize new experiences on each trip we take.  Our last trip was 9 months ago but so much opened or changed that we are taking another trip just to experience these changes.  Here are some of the new experiences we’re looking forward to…

Disney Springs – We’ve only had one quick visit here since it began its transformation, and missing it due to days of rain on our last trip was our biggest regret.  We’re excited for new shopping, food, atmosphere, and parking and navigation.
New restaurants – We intend to eat at Skipper Canteen (oops, had to cancel this after it interfered with the Once Upon a Time announcement!), Rizzo’s, and Homecoming Florida Kitchen.  We’re excited for some new experiences, but whether a restaurant is new or just new-to-us it’s always good to try something different.
Jingle Bell, Jingle BAM! – Hollywood Studios is going through so much change that we’ve completely missed a fireworks show between the one that ran in January 2016 and the new Christmas show that debuts this year.  As a parent to a toddler, I secretly appreciate that this show is running early at 6:45.
Once Upon a Time – The new projection show in the Magic Kingdom is a surprise addition to our new experiences list.
Animal Kingdom – Several years ago we experienced nighttime in Animal Kingdom, both from early sunsets and from evening Extra Magic Hours (which no longer occur.)  The atmosphere of Animal Kingdom at night is so unique from the daytime, and nighttime is even better with the entertainment and visual improvements they introduced over the summer.  Hopefully I can hit the single rider of Expedition Everest because it’s in its best form at night.
New rides – Frozen Ever After and Soarin’ updates opened since our last trip.  We’re also looking forward to the finale scene upgrade to Gran Fiesta Tour.  As Muppet fans we’re also excited to check out The Muppets Present…Great Moments in American History.
Restricted Admission – The Disney Visa meet and greet in Epcot has a new location and we love what we’ve seen of the design.  The DVC Lounge in Epcot opened after our last trip and we’re pumped to stop by.

When I write it all out it’s so clear why we booked our upcoming trip.  As I mentioned in my Trip Report for our January 2016 visit, we experienced a lot for the last time.  Now we’re taking a trip that we’ll have experiences for the first time!  Pardon me while I go check on a few dining reservations…

2017 Military Offers for Walt Disney World

Special room and ticket discounts are available to active and retired U.S. service members for 2017!  These are good discounts that can help your family plan your next Walt Disney World vacation.  See more below for terms of these offers, and this post for more information about how we can help you plan your next Disney vacation!

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Early 2017 Walt Disney World Discounts

New discounts are now available for early 2017 Walt Disney World hotel and package reservations!  These discounts roughly cover January through March 2017 travel.  The details of these discounts vary, but we’ll compare all available discounts for your trip dates to help you find the best option.

Booking ends on December 21, 2016 for all of these discounts.  Now is the time to book for better availability of hotels, flights, and dining.  School break flight prices go up and stay up due to high demand, especially on weekends.  Don’t wait to plan your trip and be left with a 6 am flight back home!

Details of the new discounts are below.  There are two main discounts, a package and a room discount, plus two additional package variations on the room discount.

If you’ve already booked your early 2017 vacation through Mouse Unlimited, no worries, we’ve already applied the discount to qualifying vacations.  If you’re submitting a new  quote request, we’ll quote a discount if your request qualifies.  If you’re flexible with your package selections to help you qualify for a discount, state that in the comments box of our Quote Request.

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2016 Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party Tickets

Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party tickets are now on sale!  Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party takes place on select dates in November and December.  The party features themed entertainment, characters, cookies, a unique parade and fireworks.  These parties take place in the Magic Kingdom from 7 pm to midnight and the park is closed to all non-ticketed guests.

Save time and money by purchasing your tickets in advance.  Parties can sell out, especially the most popular dates, so be sure to purchase in advance.

There are three options for free ticket delivery.  Print at home is quick and easy.  Will call allows you to pick up a ticket on property.  Standard domestic US delivery is free via USPS.

2016 party dates and prices are listed below.  Prices do not include tax.  Party tickets are purchased separately from vacation packages and are non-refundable.  Party tickets can be linked  in My Disney Experience.

Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party

November 10,13 – $86/adult, $81/child 3-9 advance purchase

November 7,8,11,15; December 1 – $91/adult, $86/child 3-9 advance purchase

November 18,27,29; December 2,4,6,8,11,13 – $92/adult, $87/child 3-9 advance purchase

December 9,15 – $96/adult, $91/child 3-9 advance purchase

December 16,18,22 – $99/adult, $94/child 3-9 advance purchase

If you’re planning to visit Walt Disney World at the end of this year, book now before your favorite hotel sells out.  Submit your quote request today!

2016 Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party Tickets

Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party tickets are now on sale!  Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party takes place on select dates in September and October.  The party features themed entertainment, characters, trick or treating, a unique parade and fireworks.  These parties take place in the Magic Kingdom from 7 pm to midnight and the park is closed to all non-ticketed guests.

Save time and money by purchasing your tickets in advance.  Parties can sell out, especially the most popular dates, so be sure to purchase in advance.

There are three options for free ticket delivery.  Print at home is quick and easy.  Will call allows you to pick up a ticket on property.  Standard domestic US delivery is free via USPS.

2016 party dates and prices are listed below.  Prices do not include tax.  Party tickets are purchased separately from vacation packages and are non-refundable.  Party tickets can be linked  in My Disney Experience.

Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party

September 2,8,11,13,16,18,20,25 – $72/adult, $67/child 3-9 advance purchase

September 29,30 – $79/adult, $74/child 3-9 advance purchase

September 23 – $85/adult, $80/child 3-9 advance purchase

October 2,6 – $86/adult, $81/child 3-9 advance purchase

October 4,10,11,13,16,18,20,23,25,27 – $91/adult, $86/child 3-9 advance purchase

October 7,14,21,28,30 – $95/adult, $90/child 3-9 advance purchase

October 31 – $105/adult, $100/child 3-9 advance purchase

If you’re planning to visit Walt Disney World this fall, don’t delay in booking your package to secure your preferred hotel.  Submit your quote request today!

What’s in the Mail?

You might be surprised by the amount of physical mail you will receive after you start planning your Walt Disney World vacation.  This can be especially important to know if planning a surprise trip.  If you have a small mailbox or cannot receive packages directly, you may make alternate plans for your “Mickey mail” delivery.

The items included in this post are accurate as of a November 2015 trip.  The design of mailings may change.

1) Welcome Booklet

Welcome Booklet envelope

Welcome Booklet envelope

You receive your first piece of mail a few weeks after you link your reservation in My Disney Experience.  When you book through a travel agent you must link your reservation manually using your reservation number.  If you don’t link your reservation immediately after booking, you won’t receive this packet until after you’ve linked properly.

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Using Tax Refund for Disney Vacation

Are you stuck inside on a cold and snowy day?  Makes you want to plan a Florida vacation, right?  Now is a popular time to plan your next Disney vacation and for good reason.  These cold, short days are a great time to plan some fun in the bright Florida sun.  If you’re anticipating a tax refund you can pay for part of your trip without impacting your monthly budget.

Here are a few things to keep in mind if you plan to pay for your Disney vacation with a tax refund-

1) Book a Package
Booking a Magic Your Way Package combines multiple aspects of your trip under one booking.  If you prefer to minimize your expenses on the trip, a package with dining is a great choice.  If you have a set budget, tell your agent.  We can work backwards to find a balance between your trip preferences and vacation budget.

2) Travel this calendar year
All of 2016 is available to book a Walt Disney World vacation.  If you’d like to travel in 2017, those dates will be available to book sometime in the summer of 2016.  If you’d like to use this refund to pay for next year’s vacation, you may save the money in a Disney Vacation Account or a special savings account.  We use an online high-yield savings account for our vacation fund.  If you prefer a physical location, check local credit unions for vacation savings accounts.

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Indoor Walt Disney World Character Meet and Greets

Visiting Walt Disney World in Florida is usually an adventure dealing with weather. Whether it’s 95 degrees and humid, raining buckets, or cold enough to frost the windows, you may search out indoor activities. I prefer indoor character meet and greets not just for the character experience itself, but also for the more comfortable queue.

Ponchos are not good meet and greet fashion! Avoid this with indoor meet and greets

This list of character meet and greets is accurate as of May 5, 2016. Characters and locations change often, so always check your Times Guide or My Disney Experience app and Park Map once inside the park. Extreme weather can also move some outdoor meet and greets inside, but these won’t be published. This list excludes any meets that happen as part of a character dining experience.

Magic Kingdom

  • Town Square Theater on Main Street – Mickey, Tinker Bell – Fastpass Available
  • Princess Fairytale Hall in Fantasyland – Anna and Elsa, Cinderella and Rapunzel – Fastpass Available
  • Ariel’s Grotto in Fantasyland – Ariel – Fastpass Available
  • Pete’s Silly Sideshow in Storybook Circus – Goofy, Minnie, Donald Duck, Daisy Duck


  • Character Spot in Future World – Mickey, Minnie, Goofy – Fastpass Available
  • Character Spot in Future World – Baymax
  • Character Spot in Future World – Joy & Sadness
  • United Kingdom – Pooh and Tigger

Hollywood Studios

  • Red Carpet Dreams on Commissary Lane – Sorcerer Mickey, Minnie
  • Celebrity Spotlight – Olaf
  • Pixar Place – Wood and Buzz Lightyear
  • Star Wars Launch Bay – Chewbacca, Kylo Ren

Animal Kingdom

  • Adventurers Outpost – Mickey and Minnie – Fastpass Available
  • Rafiki’s Planet Watch – Rafiki

Indoor meet and greets are just a fraction of all of the meets available in the parks. Some characters, like Russell and Dug from Up, only meet in one outdoor location so you may not be able to avoid them completely. Character meals, especially if you have a Disney Dining Plan, are another great way to meet multiple characters from the air conditioned comfort of your dining table.