Jan 112012

By: Dena Burkett

Today I am going to give you a glimpse inside my tactics for planning a Disney trip. I know that everyone plans for their Disney vacation differently, whether it is your first time or tenth time. I am hoping that some of the things I do can help make your future trip easier and more magical.

The first thing I do when I find out when I am taking my trip and where I am staying is to start making up my itinerary. It may seem like a lot of work or a waste of time (I get grief about it from family) but I love having it! It keeps everything in order and in one place. I put the park hours on it along with reservation confirmations, flight information, any other information I would like readily available, and of course, what we plan to do each day. Now, I will tell you that we sometimes stray from it, but for the most part, we follow it to a T. I also print out the hotel information, Magical Express information as well as any other documents I think I might need. I put everything in a red, Disney-decorated  folder that I use every time we go. That way everything is in one place and I can easily find it during the trip.  Doing something like this, whether it’s in an actual folder or perhaps saved on your phone in an app like Tripit, can really be a life-saver! Continue reading »

Nov 022011

By: Lindsey Tullier

My family and I have always enjoyed dining at both the Animal Kingdom and Downtown Disney Rainforest Café locations when we visit Walt Disney World. What’s not to love? There are animatronics, thunderstorms, enthusiastic servers and a large gift shop. However, I only recently discovered that the Animal Kingdom location serves breakfast. I have no idea how I managed to miss this, but I was determined to include a brunch at Rainforest Café on our next visit.

Our first morning was an extra magic hour for Animal Kingdom so we made plans to be in that park for 8 a.m. I normally don’t do morning Extra Magic Hours but since it was Labor Day and hot (an understatement), I figured the earlier we could get through Animal Kingdom the better. I made reservations for 9:30 a.m., which gave us plenty of time to ride Kilimanjaro Safari and explore some of the animal habitats before venturing back to the front of the park for our reservation. Continue reading »

Oct 192011

When you get in trouble and you don’t know right from wrong
Give a little whistle! Give a little whistle! – Jiminy Cricket

Q. Hi, My family had a great vacation last summer (2011) at WDW. We stayed at Port Orleans Riverside Resort and had no problem using Disney transportation system. I am planning a new visit for May or July 2012 but we would like to try staying at one of the Downtown Disney Area Hotels. My dilemma is the following: 1. Are free shuttles to Disney Parks really worth trying? 2. Can I walk to downtown Disney and use Disney’s Transportation System? Is it safe for a family and kids? 3. In terms of budget, will costs be lower in the Downtown Disney area? Could you provide help? (Submitted by the Rosso Family)

A. Hi Rosso Family!

I bet you’re excited planning for your upcoming trip! Trip planning is one of my favorite parts of the whole Disney Trip process! The planning portion can sometimes be just as exciting as the trip itself. (Ok…maybe not JUST as exciting…but it’s definitely fun!).

As far as your question is concerned, you are looking at staying in the Downtown Disney Area Hotels. For those who are unaware, these hotels are not Disney hotels but instead hotels owned by chains such as Hilton, Holiday Inn, and Doubletree Suites, to name a few. These are all very lovely hotels and the best part is they are on Disney Property…just a hop, skip, and a jump away from the Four Disney Theme Parks! Continue reading »

Jul 272011

The living area of a Bay Lake Tower villa.

By:  Rhonna Costabile

Did you ever find yourself wondering whether or not you should join the Disney Vacation Club? You see the kiosks all over the place or you see the billboards – taunting you with “the best kept secret”. As a member myself, I will gladly point out some of the more significant advantages and disadvantages to help you make a decision one way or the other.

The Disney Vacation Club program is point based, and you have the freedom and flexibility to use your points however and whenever you want. Each year, you will receive a new allotment of points and you also have the option to bank (putting the points aside for the following year) or borrow points (taking points from the next year’s coffers) if you are wanting to do a Disney vacation but don’t have enough points for the room type you are looking at or you want to vacation longer than your year’s points will allow. I will spare you the grueling details of all of that. Continue reading »

Jul 132011

When you get in trouble and you don’t know right from wrong
Give a little whistle! Give a little whistle! — Jiminy Cricket

Q. We are planning a Disney trip which enables us to be part of a Grand Gathering.  Are the Grand Gathering meals (The Safari Celebration Dinner, The Illuminations Dinner, Dessert Reception and The Good Morning Gathering at Tony’s Town Square) really worth it? It is hard to find information on the Walt Disney website. Do you have any details on these options and do you have any preferences?  (Submitted by Jennifer C.)


A. How exciting to be planning a trip for such a group!

For those who are unaware, to qualify for a Grand Gathering, you’ll need eight ticket-holders (any one under 3 doesn’t count, although they can participate). In addition, at least 80% of your group needs to be staying in on-site Disney accommodations.  It doesn’t matter what Disney accommodations you choose – Deluxe, Value, a campsite at Fort Wilderness; it’s all good.  Also good to note is that everyone in your group does not have to be in the same resort – Grandpa Jones can save and go with All-Stars, while Cousin Alexander swanks it up at the Grand Floridian. DVC members or renters are also eligible to participate.  In addition, you all don’t have to be related to qualify for a Grand Gathering.  If you are taking a trip with 7 of your closest friends that counts too!

People sign up for Grand Gatherings because it allows them access to special events only available for Grand Gathering guests.  Please take note that these events are not free.

In a nutshell, the Safari Celebration Dinner takes guests on a special ride of Kilimanjaro Safaris (meaning, not the typical storyline).  To make the ride more special, an animal handler will be onboard to serve as your guide.  Then you’ll make your way over to Tusker House for an African-inspired meal.

The International Dinner and Illuminations Dessert Reception will have your dinner take place in the Odyssey building, where you will be served a family-style dinner of international cuisine.  The evening ends with a special VIP viewing area for Illuminations, punctuated by a special dessert party.

The Good Morning Gathering sits you down at Tony’s Town Square for a family-style meal.  Tony hosts the event, and brings along some friendly characters for a meet and greet along the way.

If you would like more information about any of these events or about how Grand Gatherings work, visit here:  http://www.themouseforless.com/tripplanning/wdwmisc/grandgathering.shtml

As far as our expert recommendation, we lean more towards the Safari Celebration Dinner and the International Dinner and Illuminations Dessert Reception.

One word of caution; these events become a part of your resort reservation and they do have a firm cancelation policy.

Feb 092011

When you get in trouble and you don’t know right from wrong
Give a little whistle! Give a little whistle! — Jiminy Cricket

Do you have a Disney dilemma? Are you wondering about a certain attraction? Are you curious about a resort or a cruise? Give us a little whistle and we’ll help you sort out how to handle it. Questions should be sent to whistle@magically-speaking.com. If your dilemma is trip-related, please include when you will be traveling.

Q. I was just reading about Gaston’s Tavern being added to the Magic Kingdom. Are we talking alcohol at the Magic Kingdom? (Submitted by Lisa G.) A. Hi, Lisa! Yes, Gaston’s Tavern is coming to the Magic Kingdom as part of the Fantasyland refurbishment project. While we don’t know all of the specifics yet, Gaston’s will likely be a counter-service restaurant. Although there might be root beer, don’t expect the Magic Kingdom to start service alcohol on Gaston’s behalf. After all, Liberty Tree Tavern isn’t known for it’s adult beverages, either. No matter what, though, we are looking forward to seeing the new venue.

Q. We have a vacation booked for next March, with the whole extended family (23 in total!). Since many of our group are kids, we’re wondering about height limitations on the rides. It would be sad for the kids to be disappointed once we get there that they can’t ride something, you know what I mean? (Submitted by Suzy)

A. Wow, Suzy, that’s quite a group! It’s a great idea to plan ahead for these sort of things. You are right, disappointed kids are not going to make for an enjoyable day. Our suggestion is to visit the height requirements page and take a look at what the kids will be able to ride.

Just a couple of suggestions when dealing with this problem. Your reaction (or the reaction of the other adults in your group) will help you child deal with height issues. If little Joey, for example, won’t be able to ride the Rock ‘n’ Rollercoaster, make sure he knows ahead of time that this is the time he will get to go see something he can do. Also, don’t forget about child swap. You might not need it with a group of this size (one of our editors was always willing to sit out the thrill rides with the smaller ones), but it’s nice to know there is an option. For a child swap, one adult waits with the little one(s) while the others ride. Then when the first group is done, you hand off junior and the second adult rides the ride. Simply as the Cast Member at the front of the line’s queue if it’s available for that attraction and they will give you the low down on where to wait, etc.

Also, if a child is borderline on the height, it will be checked, perhaps multiple times, in the queue. The Cast Members are just trying to make sure everyone is safe. We’ve seen parents put children in their taller shoes, try to stand on their tip toes, etc. The safety of any child isn’t really worth the experience of any ride. We’re not suggesting you would try this, but we’re just mentioning it.

Regardless of which rides you experience, we hope you and your extended family have a magical vacation!