A short trip report from 2020.
Magic Kingdom on re-opening day was all that I wanted it to be and more. The Cast Members were lined up along Main St waving and smiling (under their masks), with many saying how happy they were to see us and how they had been preparing for our visit.
I am all for responsible travel, and Disney is doing a great job keeping guests safe.
There were social distancing markers throughout the park, and as it was opening day some were added if the line got to be longer than there were markers for. There were Cast Members monitoring spaces and reminding guests to wear their masks properly.
Is the Magic still there?
In a word: yes.
As a Disney fan and one who's job revolves around the parks, I am so happy when I get to visit.
Why is Disney so special?
It isn't just one thing, but a beautiful combination of music, the immersive-like quality of the "Disney Bubble", the food, the Cast Members, feeling as excited as a kid when you see your favorite characters, screaming like a wild person as you plummet down Splash Mountain, staying in a resort, not having to drive, memorable smells that tie you to your happy place, and many other little things that stack up to make Disney a unique and wonderful vacation - especially if you have a travel professional to take care of every detail leading up to and during your trip!
It is special for many reasons, and yours may be different than my list above!
There are many changes to the park this year, some temporary and some are permanent, like the updated paint job for the castle.
All ride queues have social distancing markers and plexiglass dividers (if needed) to keep groups apart.
Hours have been adjusted for all the parks and as of this writing there are no evening shows.
Transportation has been modified to reflect new opening and closing hours, with some options like the Friendship Boats reactivating on November 1.
Disney is still using the DAS pass for those who need it. You will go through the interview process on your first day, just as before, and then utilize the Fastpass queue when it is time for you to ride. It's almost like a VIP tour!
Most restaurants are using mobile ordering or mobile check-in through the MyDisneyExperience app.
How's the food? I'm so glad you asked!
I'm happy to report that the waffles are as delicious as ever. And the ice cream?
Character interaction is adjusted to over-the-shoulder selfies.
And you can see characters throughout the day during spontaneous cavalcades. We even saw Merida ride through on her horse, which was pretty spectacular.
If you'd like to see more videos and other first-hand experiences, check out my story highlights on Instagram under the re-opening heading.
You can connect with me on Instagram here travel_bug_company, and on Facebook Travel Bug Company.
When you're ready to plan your trip to the Most Magical Place On Earth, I'd be delighted to chat! Click the button below to choose a time that works for you. Or send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Fall in the parks is one of my favorite times of the year to visit, with September being my ultimate favorite for the one-two combination punch of low crowds and great rates. If your schedule is flexible or if you have fall break options for October or like to celebrate Halloween in the parks, let's chat about why it's a great time to visit!
Plus, if late summer travel is possible and you want to experience the Halloween party, those are beginning in mid-August!
Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party
This Halloween party is unlike any you've ever seen! With rare characters to meet, special snacks you can only find at the party, a unique parade and fabulous fireworks, it's a spectacle for the whole family!
Wear your costumes (no masks please), and you and your kids can trick or treat around the whole park. The event is only open to ticket holders, so plan accordingly. I have some tips and tricks to help you make the most of this magic event that's a favorite of my clients!
Epcot's Food and Wine Festival
Creme brûlée, poutine and croissant doughnuts are just a few of the things you can find at the seasonal Food and Wine Festival at Epcot. And now with the Skyliner open, we have even more ways to travel to Epcot to try out these booths.
Most choices are a snack credit if you're on the dining plan, and meandering through the park to try your favorites is a lovely way to experience a new side of Epcot. There's also a scavenger hunt for the kids and a brand new ride opening Summer 2020, Remy's Ratatouille Adventure. Hint: I've ridden this when we visited the parks at Disneyland Paris, and it is going to be a treat for your whole family!
Great pools at on-site resorts and swimmable weather
Staying at a Disney Resort becomes a part of your vacation and can offer fantastic benefits like early reservation choices for dining and better Fastpasses (for Disney World), the best transportation options and a level of quality and service that adds that extra pixie dust to your family's trip.
On our last trip to Disneyland we met Goofy and Chip just walking through the lobby of the Disneyland Hotel! It added a lot of fun to our afternoon.
If your kids are fans of pools the themed pools are super fun, like the water slide shown above or my favorite resort pool at the Yacht and Beach Club at Disney World, featuring a sandy area for younger kids to play, a huge pirate ship water slide and a lazy river.
We love meeting characters! It's part of the fun of a Disney vacation.
Ready to plan a trip? Check out these reviews and send me a message for a time to chat about your family's trip. It will be the best ever with a Disney expert in your pocket to help guide you to the best rides, when to ride them and someone to help recommend the best dining and resort options for your family's needs.
Ah, the all-inclusive vacation. It is one of my favorite ways to completely relax, unwind and unplug.
What is an all inclusive vacation?
It starts with the resort. Some of my favorite locations that I've personally visited are in Jamaica and Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. There are many, many locations, depending on your preferences for beaches, food and activities. My favorite resorts and brands I know and trust are in Mexico, the Dominican, Turks and Caicos, St. Lucia and the Bahamas, to name a few.
Once you arrive at your resort you don't have to go anywhere else unless excursions and activities are on the docket. You can walk outside your room, find your sunny or shady spot, and spend the entire day gazing at the beautiful turquoise waters.
Or, you can hang out at the pool, with many resorts offering swim-up bars, zero-entry features, and gorgeous views.
Did I mention if you are a club level guest and above you get an exclusive check-in option, are escorted to your room, and have 24-hour room service?
And then there's the butler service option, which is an even greater level of service so you don't have to lift a finger!
These resorts also feature all drinks included in your stay! A couple of my favorites for vacation are the Mai Tai, a mojito and my favorite in Jamaica, the Dirty Banana. Many resorts feature top shelf brands, wine and champaign.
My favorite all-inclusive resort brand, Sandals and Beaches Resorts, also includes water sports, on a first-come, first-serve basis.
All dining is included in your stay for these resorts, and many feature steak, sushi, Thai and other fabulous options.
So to summarize, all-inclusive resorts include:
All-inclusive resorts are great for families, large groups, weddings, honeymoons and anniversary trips.
Need someone to help guide you to the best options for your taste, I'm your friendly travel agent here to assist!
Do you like golf? Want more nightlife? Are you very picky about the beach? Do you want to swim with the pigs?
I'd be delighted to help plan your perfect vacation that includes the things that are important to you.
Ah, can you feel those tropical breezes yet?
All-inclusive resorts are just a short flight away! When you're ready to start planning, send me an email and we'll choose the perfect spot for you.
Can't wait to see where you go next!
"Have you seen the Penguins?" Mary Poppins asked us. Why, no I haven't, but it was charming and seemed so natural of her to ask.
Meeting the characters can be a little intimidating for me, a naturally quiet person, to approach someone who is pretending to be a character from a Disney story. I'm also very practical in real life, so to suspend disbelief in order to meet a fictional character who may or may not talk is a challenge.
But I have to say, every time I do it, it's a blast. It's so fun to see my kids interact with their favorites and for them to find new favorites after their interactions with the characters.
Here are my top 5 characters meet and greets. Who are your favorites?
5. Anastasia, Drisella and the Wicked Step Mother from Cinderella
This was one of my all-time favorite character interactions for my oldest son. I was a little nervous about taking him to a Princess-themed dinner and wasn't sure how that would work for him.
The sister walked out, and we watched them approach our table. "Oh, are you married?" Anastasia asked.
My son looked confused and said, "No, I'm not married."
So Anastasia proceeded to yell across the room to her sister, "Eligible bachelor!" and it was so awesome and then I got this priceless photo.
4. Mary Poppins in Magic Kingdom
Oh, it's a jolly holiday with Mary!
I grew up with Mary Poppins and I adore her. During this particular meet I was moved to tears while we were waiting in line, watching the sweetest little girl hug Mary and not release her for a minute. She just kept staring at Mary Poppins and saying, "You're so beautiful!' It was the most magical thing, and to that little girl Mary WAS REAL.
3. Pluto in the Polynesian
This one can be a little tricky to time correctly, but if you have a dining reservation or hop over to the Polynesian during the day you will usually find Pluto upstairs near the entrance to 'Ohana.
It's a low-key way to meet a somewhat rare character. This one was a lifesaver for us because we had forgotten to meet Pluto during one of our trips and I heard about it for a year. So when we saw him here and with little to no line we were ecstatic.
2. Anna and Elsa
I am a huge fan of the new setup for meeting the sister duo, Anna and Elsa of Arendelle. I like the Royal Summerhus and the wait times are generally manageable for meeting them right around a dining reservation at Akershus or before you ride Frozen Ever After at Epcot.
I like the details of the decorations in the Norwegian inspired decor. We lived with a dear lady from that region once upon a time, and when I see the painted furniture and the doo dads around the Summhus it reminds me of her.
I also like to grab a snack at Kringla Bakeri Og Kafe while we are over there. (My favorite is School Bread - very much like a Twinkie but better!)
1. Seven Dwarfs
Staying in character the whole time was the fun of this character meeting. All seven walked in like they were grumpy, sleepy, bashful, etc. and we loved it. My youngest daughter kept laughing because grumpy kept pointing at her and gesturing.
Currently, meeting all 7 Dwarfs is only an option at Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party or Mickey's Very Merry Christmas party. This meet and greet is very popular and I recommend attending at the beginning of the party or during fireworks.
Honorable mention: Mickey and Minnie
An all-time favorite, nostalgic and fun. Meeting any of the Fabulous Five (Mickey, Minnie, Goofy, Daisy, and Donald) is always on our list of favorites for each trip. This was a special meet at an invited travel agent dinner I attended in the spring. Love their celebration outfits!
Who are your favorites?
If you're planning a trip, I'd be delighted to help you meet your favorite characters and ride the most amazing rides in the shortest lines possible! Send me a message here for a time to chat.
The Skyliner is Disney World’s newest form of transportation. It travels continuously from the Caribbean Beach Resort to Epcot, Hollywood Studios, Art of Animation and the Riviera Resort.
It takes five minutes to get from the Caribbean Beach station to Hollywood Studios. That’s huge! I liked how fast it was... when it was moving.
When we boarded we were joking about how we would be stuck if it stopped moving. About three minutes in it completely stopped. For 15 minutes. When you’re in an enclosed bubble that feels like a really long time.
The weather was very pleasant when we rode, with good airflow through the vents just under the bench and the upper vents which you can close if you’d like to.
I highly recommend the Skyliner as a way to get from Epcot to Hollywood. However, definitely make a bathroom stop before boarding. Just in case!
As a side note, taking the Skyliner to the Riviera Resort for a dining reservation during a park day at Hollywood it Epcot is definitely doable. There are some lovely and photogenic murals at the station as well.
We liked the Skyliner, and would recommend it to others. Not for those who are claustrophobic!
Have you ridden? What did you think?
I love planning Disney trips, and I'd be delighted to help plan the vacation of your dreams with babies, toddlers, tweens or teens.
Click here for a time to chat!