Disney Cruise Line Summer 2018 Itineraries!

Surprise!

Instead of making us wait until late March like the previous two years, summer 2018 itineraries will be available for booking as of February 23 (February 22 for those Gold and Platinum Castaway Club members.)

What’s New?

The Disney Magic will flip flop her usual schedule, beginning the European itineraries in the Mediterranean and cruising into the British Isles and Norway for July and August. New ports include Genoa, Italy and Cork, Ireland.

The Disney Wonder cruises five and nine night Alaskan itineraries in addition to the traditional seven night cruises from mid-May throughout summer of 2018.

The Disney Dream continues her three and four night Bahamian cruises to Castaway Cay but be on the lookout for some five night double dips as well.

The Disney Fantasy is continuing  with Eastern and Western Caribbean weeks with one Southern Caribbean thrown into the mix for good measure.

What are you interested in booking?

Early Morning Magic Fantasyland

Early Morning Magic Fantasyland

Welcome to this month’s Blogorail Blue Loop. Today we are sharing fun ways to splurge at Disney.


Early Morning Magic
Castle pictures at dawn? Yep. Just me a photographer and a cast member rolling his cart to work.

Have you ever dreamed of visiting Magic Kingdom when it is (almost) empty? Sneaking onto the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train as many times as you like without queueing? Dancing up Main Street without any crowds? Are you an extreme early bird who would love a few rides before breakfast time?

Early Morning Magic Fantasyland
Pulling on the Sword in the Stone in front of the empty Carousel.

 

 

 

Me too!
So I decided to splurge for the Early Morning Magic Fantasyland tickets last vacation.

Early Morning Magic – Fantasyland
Limited entry, early access to the parks an hour prior to park opening. Includes The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, Peter Pan’s Flight and Seven Dwarfs Mine Train. Also includes an all you care to eat buffet hosted by Pinocchio’s Village Haus. $69 per adult and $59 per child plus tax. Advanced reservation highly recommended.

Early Morning Magic-Fantasyland
So close!

Available select mornings only, I found myself queuing outside our resort to catch the bus well before dawn. How early? We excitedly queued at our resort bus stop at 6:30 AM and arrived at the Magic Kingdom by 6:45 AM. We were second in line waiting for security to begin around 7:00 AM. (For reference, the normal park opening hours weren’t until 9 AM that day.) Several of the Early Morning Magic families queued together took turns running kids to the bathroom.

Early Morning Magic-Fantasyland
Our week got plastic party bracelets stamped with the Early Morning Magic logo!

A cheerful predawn cast member checked our reservations and distributed event identification. Then right before 7:45, they released our group!

Early Morning Magic Fantasyland
Don’t trip on the trolley tracks!

I don’t know about you, but I’ve never been to a rope drop where we were absolute first into the park. I never pick the right line. Since the couple in front of us wanted to climb upstairs and see the view from the train station, that left us as the first occupants of Main Street U.S.A. How do you put a value on gleefully skipping toward Cinderella Castle and giggling like a school girl?

Early Morning Magic Fantasyland
Priceless.

PhotoPass Photographers capture memories all down Main Street and throughout the hub. After some quick pictures, we decided to take our road less traveled and cut directly through the castle. I always mean to go through the castle. I usually cut around toward Merida’s meet and greet to shave off wait time…but that’s not a concern this morning.

Early Morning Magic Fantasyland
Wait…you mean you can go through the castle?

Christopher and Kylee each have a go at Excalibur in front of Prince Charming Royal Carousel. Then we get down to the business at hand. Seven Dwarfs Mine Train. Lots and lots of times.

Early Morning Magic Fantasyland
After a few rides, the kids were worried we would lose track…hence the countdown photos. This is our seventh time up the first drop.

The main reason we theoretically took the chance on this splurge is that my kids were in the sweet spot for Seven Dwarfs Mine Train…it’s just thrilling enough, but not too scary for re-ride-ability. During Early Morning Magic, they let us turn right around, and bypass most of the exit to return through the normal FastPass+ queue. I don’t know where the other guests went. Perhaps they were hungrier than us. Several times we were the only guests on the entire train.

Early Morning Magic Fantasyland
Yes, they each have their own row. (This is ride eight.) Chris decided he preferred the front car, Kylee, the back car, they tried sitting most of the train that morning.

In the end, the kids felt ten rides on Seven Dwarfs Mine Train (and once each on the Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh and Peter Pan’s Flight) made for a perfect start of the day. (We went twice more later in the day, making an even dozen.)

Early Morning Magic Fantasyland
Waiting for Princesses to wake up? #bestbrotherever

To round out our magical morning, we queued outside Princess Fairytale Hall and met Aurora and Snow White as soon as they woke up for the day.

Assuming a wait of only half an hour for each time on Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, Peter Pan and Winnie the Pooh, we saved a minimum of six hours queuing. Reality is, we’ve queued well over and hour for each ride before…more than once. Splurge? I think of this more as a savings. Savings for my sanity. #disneymomproblems

Early Morning Magic Fantasyland
Waiting for us with all the juice, pastries, eggs, bacon, coffee, tea, and French toast we could care to eat. The buffet continued until 10 AM. We pushed it off until 9:30 after several more rides to take advantage of the low crowds at park opening.

We headed over to Pinocchio’s for a nice quick breakfast and then leisurely began our touring plan for the day.

Is Early Morning Magic Fantasyland the right splurge for you?

For us this was a no brainer. My kids love one of the three rides offered beyond all hope of reason.

How much do they love thee?
Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, they voluntarily queued for an hour and a half when they’d already ridden it that day.

This is perfect for naturally early risers who love either one or more of the offered rides extremely much (AKA those who end up queuing for all three of these rides despite FastPass+).

Early Morning Magic Fantasyland
Seven Dwarfs Mine Train Super Fans, only.

Skip this splurge if you hate waking up early (6 AM is much earlier on vacation than at home), if one ride on each of these rides is enough (FastPass+ is free, y’all!) or if you’re doing it for the empty Main Street USA photos (not guaranteed).

We’re excited to try out the night owl version, After Hours at Magic Kingdom, next month!

So what do you think: plurge or skip? Why?

For more Disney Splurges,
check out the other great posts from the Blogorail!


Here is the map of our Magical Blogorail Blue  | Disney Splurges Loop:

National Plan For Vacation Day. It’s a Thing.

Take Back Vacation!

Study after study has proven that downtime has real benefits, and while the majority of Americans believe strongly in the value of time off, we continue to function under the assumption that endless face time serves us better than taking the occasional break. We fail to plan for vacation.

Take Back Vacation!
Take back vacation!

Let that number sink in.

More than half of us aren’t using our hard-earned vacation time, resulting in a stockpile of 658 million unused vacation days and a workforce always on the brink of burn out.

What’s worse, we’re doing nothing to correct our work martyr mentality—if anything, we’re letting it thrive. While senior business leaders overwhelmingly recognize the importance of using time off, they aren’t talking, as nearly two-thirds of employees say their company says next to nothing about time off. Couple that silence with our fears and anxieties about taking time off, and it is a recipe for keeping us at the office. According to research from Project: Time Off, the top barriers for employees include:

  • Concern over returning to a mountain of work, 37%
  • Feeling that no one else can do the job, 30%
  • Impression that taking time off is harder as you grow in the company, 28%
  • Wanting to show complete dedication, 22%

There is a secret to overcoming all our vacation fears: planning.

Planning is the most important step in making vacation possible and, according to Project: Time Off, planners are more likely to use all their earned time off and take longer breaks at once. They are also happier with their personal and professional lives—not to mention they have bosses who have plenty of advanced notice to cover them while they’re out.

Plan for Vacation

It’s time for you to take back your calendar and put downtime at the top of your list of priorities. Planning for vacation can be achieved in three simple steps:
  1. Determine how much time off you earn and identify the vacation policies at your workplace.
  2. Get to dreaming! How do you want to spend your time off this year?
  3. Add your vacation plans to the calendar and share with your manager, your colleagues—everyone!
Plan for Vacation
So many dream vacations. So little time.

This year, don’t let your vacation days be part of a statistic. Your bucket list can be a to-do list with dedicated thought and planning.

Whether you’re wanting to visit Walt Disney World, Disneyland, head out on a cruise,  or relax on Hawaiian beaches, I can help you get started!

Take Back Vacation!
Take back vacation!

Read more about the importance of planning at www.ProjectTimeOff.com/PlanForVacation

Adventurer Kids | Disney Queues

Welcome to this month’s Blogorail Green Loop. Today we are sharing some of the best queues at the Disney Parks.


Disney Queues
Ogling Ahsoka’s Lightsaber in the Chewbacca Meet and Greet Queue

Disney queues, lines, and wait times, oh my! While generally my approach to the parks focuses on minimizing standing on queue (thank you, FastPass+) a few queues are worth waiting for.

While I love the little details all over the parks, the lines often get overlooked. I wondered if the kids even noticed the Disney queues, let alone had favorite queues. Save your FastPass+ for another ride (or go on these twice) as the Adventurer Kids rate their all time favorite Disney Queues- an attraction worth waiting for!

ADVENTURER KID INTERVIEW FOLLOWS
(From here on Adventurer Mom’s comments appear in parentheses.)

Code Name: Adventurer Boy

On Meeting Chewbacca: Totally cool. Bummer they didn’t have Luke or Han or Yoda, though!

Name: Christopher
Age: 10
Specialties: Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom, Agent P’s World Showcase Adventure, and Wilderness Explorers. Anything interactive.
Height: 51″
Favorite Park: Epcot
Favorite Disney Memory: I was on Star Tours and they scanned the area for a match. They found me. I ended up being a rebel spy so the Imperials started shooting our transport! C3PO managed to get us out of the hanger but we went through several battles, including the battle of Coruscant and Kashyyyk. Jango Fett almost got us blown up but we met up with the Rebel cruiser. And made it!
Very Favorite Attraction: Test Track

Best Disney Queues

5. Buzz Lightyear Space Ranger Spin – It explains what your mission is. It makes me feel like I’m ready to beat Zurg.
4. Space Mountain – It can show you all the destinations in several galaxies. I like the safety reviews. I like the video games when they were working.
3. Barnstormer – Goofy did tricks like jump through a hoop on fire. There is a cannon he flew out of. It looks like he made lots of mistakes. Because he’s Goof’ it’s often. It’s funny.

Disney Queues
C3PO and R2D2 prepare your Starspeeder 1000.

2. Star Tours – It acts like an airport but for spaceships. It has the stuff to let you know what trips are scheduled where. (Arrivals and departures board?) There’s also droids and you can see Jawas through glass. I like Jawas because they’re traders and good scavengers.
1. Test Track – I love testing and making the vehicles. It’s just so exciting getting to test what you make. I like the part of Test Track right at the beginning and right at the end when they test your pace. I liked when our car won the categories.

Code Name: Adventurer Girl

Dream Jobs: Stunt Woman, Actress, Disney Cruise Line Dancing Cast Member, Homeschool Mom and a Librarian too.

 

Name: Kylee
Age: 8
Specialties: Adrenaline Junkie, Meet and Greets
Height: Just Over 44″
Favorite Park: Magic Kingdom
Favorite Disney Memory: On my first trip to Walt Disney World on Barnstormer, my first ever roller coaster, it was really exciting! The part where it drops after it goes up? That’s when I fell in love with roller coasters.
Very Favorite Attraction at Walt Disney World: Seven Dwarfs Mine Train – I like it because if you’re a first timer it’s always fun because you’re going up the hill through the mine you think it’s going to be the end but you get a whole ‘nother drop after the ‘Heigh-Ho!’ around ’till you get to the cottage.

Best Disney Queues

5. Star Tours (The Adventure Continues) – In the ride there are all these different robots around you and it’s all “oh I want to stay at this part of the queue!” Then there is a video talking to you about embarking and safety but Star-Warsy.
4. It’s Tough to Be a Bug – You get to see all different kinds of animal patterns in the walls. (The Tree of Life.) It really brings the ride to life, because you can tell “oh there might be a bug on this one!” It keeps with the theme that it’s tough to be a bug because you get lost wandering around in the queue in the dirt.

Disney Queues
The Tree of Life in Animal Kingdom boasts over 300 animals carved in her “bark”.

3. Haunted Mansion – I mean you tap a book and another one will come out. Then it closes and another comes out at you, which I just find fascinating. It keeps on subject, ‘spooky’ and it’s all still scary. (You mean it keeps consistent with the theme?) Yes. That’d be a grown-up way to say it.
2. (The Many Adventures of) Winnie the Pooh – You get to play with little bees and there are screens with pictures hiding under honey so you can try to wipe the honey off of them.

Disney Queues
A dozen rides on Seven Dwarfs Mine Train in one day? You’re going to really get to like the queue. Or tolerate it for your brother.

1. Seven Dwarfs Mine Train – You get to play the whole time and it’s really fun. There are spinny crystals and you look at the ceiling and there are lights in the ceiling. There were water things that made music.

And I’m back! A bit surprised that neither of my kids picked my favorite queue…

Disney Queues
Name that queue!

What about you? What are your favorite queues?


Here is the map of our Magical Blogorail Green  | Best Disney Queues Loop:

How to Save Money on a Disney Cruise

Welcome to this month’s Blogorail Red Loop. Today we are sharing ways for you to save money while you’re at Disney.


Save money. Hundreds of dollars off on a disney cruise, even if it isn't on sale.Why should I try to save money on a Disney Cruise?

I love Disney. I love Disney Cruise Line. Some of my most cherished and priceless family memories happened out to sea with Mickey and the gang. But if I can save a couple hundred thousand dollars, that’s more money for cabanas, souvenirs, fruity drinks and the future cruise desk. Continue reading “How to Save Money on a Disney Cruise”

The Disney Movie Challenge: Free Printable

#WatchAllTheMovies #DisneyCountdown

Do you have a Disney vacation coming up that is tantalizingly close? Do you or your kids vaguely remember the characters or songs, but not the movies? Or better yet, don’t remember a character at all? With fifty-five animated feature films to pick from, it’s understandable that a film or two might get missed. Even for the most dedicated mouseketeers. Enter the Disney Movie Countdown Challenge. Continue reading “The Disney Movie Challenge: Free Printable”

Free Printable Walt Disney World Touring Cards

Free Printable Walt Disney World Schedule Cards

I like to plan out every minute and bring my phone along to snag last minute FastPass+, but sometimes I need a low tech way to tour Walt Disney World. I originally developed these touring cards to help my son track our day. He enjoys a “set” schedule. After seeing how they helped his sense of routine, I knew I needed to share them with you!

Walt Disney World Free Printable Touring Schedule Card
They loved checking the schedule on the bus!
(I printed off some fun questions for them to fill out on the plane ride home too!)

Each evening at Walt Disney World I lay out their outfits for the following day and the card for the next day sits right on top of the pile. After they dress in the morning, they slip their touring card into a pocket or lanyard. Then they pore over them after they are awake.

If you aren’t in need of a full days schedule laid out, you can also use these to jot down you FP+ times and ADRs and you’re ready to make some magic!

Free Printable Walt Disney World Touring Cards

To print off cards and handwrite your own schedule or details, print off this PDF:

free-printable-wdw-schedule-cards-for-handwritten-notes

To edit your own set of cards using Word, download the docx link below. It uses the fonts Florida Project, Century Gothic, and Waltograph.

free-printable-disney-world-schedule-cards

I like to laminate the cards to protect them from water rides, rain and sweat, then cut them out. I get one set. The kids each get a set.

Free Printable Walt Disney World Schedule Cards
Fill in as much or as little information as you want!

Do you like using schedule cards or tech trackers?

Go Directly to Magic Kingdom

Home at the Magic Kingdom

Welcome to this month’s Blogorail Blue Loop. Today we are sharing how we know we’ve “arrived” at Disney.


Go Home to Magic Kingdom
Calling “no running” and “watch for the trolley track” when all you want to do is run up Main Street with the kiddos. #DisneyMomProblems

I moved around as a kid. I went to elementary school in five different states in six different school districts. My parents moved an additional five times since then. The smell of waffle cones, the warm glow of fireworks over Cinderella Castle, and the strains of ragtime drifting through the evening air, Magic Kingdom *is* my childhood home.

With the streamlining of Disney’s Magical Express handling the luggage and online check-in handling our resort hotel, we opt to hop directly onto a Magic Kingdom bus immediately.

Go Home to Magic Kingdom
I play this card every single trip possible.

After months of planning, days of packing and hours of traveling by bus, plane, monorail and foot, I emerge from the train station tunnel and take my first steps down Main Street, U.S.A. In that first glimpse of the Magic Kingdom, I am home.

How to Know You’ve “Arrived” at Disney
Go Directly to Magic Kingdom

1.) Plans? What Plans?

Whether we swing by the firehouse to pick up our Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom cards, stop to meet Tinker Bell and Mickey at the Town Square Theatre or head out to hit Space Mountain, this is the second that we’ve arrived on vacation.

Home at the Magic Kingdom
Define “on vacation.” Give three examples.

Life slows down a lot.

We laugh a little more, snack a little more and relax a little more. Our first afternoon at the park is usually very loosely planned. We book our FastPass+ and wait to see where the wind takes us.

Home to Magic Kingdom
Touring cards? Plans? What?

For a recovering parks commando, this is a big deal. I totally blame Magic Kingdom for bringing out my spontaneous side.

Free Printable Schedule/Touring Cards are available here!

2.) The Outside World Disappears

I forget to take pictures on vacation. (Bad blogger!) I forget to check my email. I forget to scroll Facebook. I occasionally forget I have a phone.

Somewhere between Main Street and Fantasyland, the outside world ceases to exist. Maybe it’s all of the spinning. Either way, I’m focusing on my kids and family for a good couple of days.

3.) Running Amok

Pixie dust does not allow for self-consciousness. When I get wrapped up in the magic, I join in a little more and worry a lot less about what others might be thinking.

Home at Disney
Hiding behind potted plants to avoid suspicion during a spy mission? Totally normal on vacation.

Selfies, public singing, skipping, and matching outfits? Just another day of magic. The faster we get into the Magic Kingdom, the faster we know we’ve arrived at Walt Disney World.

How do you know you’ve arrived at Disney?

For more ways we know we’ve “arrived” at Disney,
check out the other great posts from the Blogorail!


Here is the map of our Magical Blogorail Blue  | How We Know We’ve “Arrived” at Disney Loop: