Travel

Authorized Disney Vacation Planner, do I need one?

I was on a Disney Fan Facebook page recently and saw a debate about using a Disney Vacation Planner when planning your upcoming Disney vacation or if it’s better to just do it yourself. The comments ranged from “it’s great to have someone else do all the work” to “I don’t want to lose control of my trip” and even “I’m not going to pay someone else to book my vacation when I can do the same thing online myself”. This isn’t the first time I have seen or heard these comments so I wanted to share a little about how an authorized Disney Vacation Planner can help, even if you are a seasoned visitor to a Disney property. Here are the top 4 things that I typically talk to potential guests about using my services.

Training: To become an authorized Disney Vacation Planner, you are required to go through Disney’s training course and pass all of their testing and criteria. You are also required to stay current on any updated training that is provided. Many of the agencies also have requirements regarding training and even traveling to the various Disney properties so that you can provide firsthand knowledge and experiences to your guests. There are many training tools and information sharing that we have access to so even if I personally haven’t run into a particular situation, I can pretty quickly find someone to help me to get my guest an answer.

 Customized Experience: An authorized Disney Vacation Planner can be as involved or as “hands off” as the guest prefers. For example, a first-time visitor to the Walt Disney World Resort in Florida can easily get overwhelmed with the planning. There are multiple parks, resorts to choose from, tickets, dining, FastPasses, special events, waterparks and it’s all spread out over miles of property. This can be very overwhelming for a guest who may not know where to begin. As an authorized Disney Vacation Planner, I can help narrow down all of these items until we create a vacation that is perfect for your family. After booking the package, I am available to my guests anytime a question arises. I send reminders to be sure they are aware when important dates such as dining opens or FastPasses can be scheduled. I can help with the booking of dining and FastPasses also.  For a more seasoned guest, I may only be booking their vacation package and they may choose to book their own dining and FastPasses or may just ask me for recommendations. At the end of the day, this trip is about finding what is the best fit for your family based on budget and availability and tailoring how involved I am to what the guest is comfortable with.

Advocate for the Guest: Once a guest has booked their vacation, my job doesn’t stop there. In fact, my job isn’t complete until after the guests have returned from their Disney vacation. On a regular basis I am watching for discounts that may be able to be applied to any of my guests’ packages, I will spend hours on the phone getting these discounts applied (if applicable) so that the guest does not have to make the call into Disney Travel themselves. If problems arise, I do my best to resolve the pieces in my control. For example, if a flight is cancelled due to weather I can’t change the flight but I will call into Disney and see if we can cancel that dining reservation you are now going to miss and see if we can reschedule it or what options we may have to make situation a little better.

We LOVE Disney: Disney Vacation Planners are often some of the most passionate people about Disney and Disney Vacations! This is a labor of love for many of us, we get paid from Disney via our agencies and never directly from a guest. We do not, and are not allowed, to charge guests for our services. Disney Vacation Planners are typically frequent Disney travelers themselves and stay up to date on parks, rides, attractions, entertainment and resorts so they can help you create the trip that best suites your family.We do this because we are usually the ones at the parks before rope drop, checking wait times and FastPasses on the My Disney Experience app, are always looking for the next time we can plan our own Disney vacation. I enjoyed helping family and friends make plans for their Disney vacations and I was always on the various Disney sites to find out about the latest news and offers so this is my dream job. My family has traveled to the Walt Disney World Resort over 10 times in the last seven years because we love it so much, so often that my pre-teen can navigate through the theme parks like a pro and is now starting to help me make our family plans.

For me, the decision to become an authorized Disney Vacation Planner was a dream come true and I am grateful every day that I am affiliated with Academy Travel, an EarMarked Diamond Travel Company, which is the highest honor Disney Travel gives to an agency. I am proud to be an authorized Disney Vacation Planner and helping others plan their dream vacations and make memories. Disney has so much to offer with theme parks, cruises, adventure travel options and much more so if you haven’t been on a Disney vacation before or if it’s been a while, I would love to help you plan a trip of your dreams. Contact me for a Free, No Obligation quote and let’s start creating your magical adventure together!

http://www.facebook.com/KristieRyan.travel

Travel

Make time for golf during your stay at the Walt Disney World Resort.

There really is so much to do at the Walt Disney World Resort outside of the theme parks. Did you know that the Walt Disney World Resort is home to four incredible golf courses? Each of the courses are rated 4 stars by Golf Digest and boast gorgeous greens and landscaping.

Disney’s Palm Golf Course is an 18-hole championship course located at the Shades of Green Resort in the Magic Kingdom resort area. Play among lakes, tropical sands, palm trees and sloping greens. This course will challenge the novice or the pro in your group with 9 holes that have water hazards and 59 bunkers throughout the course.

Disney’s Magnolia Golf Course was designed in a classic tour style and is the longest of the Walt Disney World golf courses. Not only will you be playing among majestic magnolia trees, this course features elevated tees, spacious greens and water hazards. Located at the Shades of Green Resort in the Magic Kingdom resort area this course is great for serious golfers as it boasts 11 holes with water hazards and 97 bunkers. Not only is this course beautiful but it is certified by Audubon International as a Cooperative Wildlife Sanctuary.

Disney’s Oak Trail Golf Course is the third course located at the Disney’s Shades of Green Resort in the Magic Kingdom resort area. This is a 9 hole walking course that allows you to test your skills. The holes range from 132 to 517 yards from the white tees. Three of the holes route around a deep canal and beautiful pond. This course is also certified by Audubon International as a Cooperative Wildlife Sanctuary.

Disney’s Lake Buena Vista Golf Course was designed in a classic country-club style that winds through the pastel villas and gorgeous landscaping around Disney’s Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa in the Disney Springs area. This amazing course has 18 holes featuring elevated bunkered greens and a 7th hole that will test your skills with its challenging island green. The Lake Buena Vista golf course has hosted the PGA Tour, LPGA Tour and USGA events.

Rental equipment is available at each of the courses including clubs and golf shoes. This is the perfect place for the traveler who is a golf enthusiast but isn’t able to bring their clubs on vacation, to test out another brand of clubs. Junior US Kids Golf rental equipment is provided complimentary at the courses. If you love to golf, make sure you leave some time in you vacation plans to golf on one of these amazing courses.

Travel

Sizzle in Summer Fun with a Kid Sized Vacation Package.

All-Star Movies Resort

Make memories that you’ll cherish forever when you stay in the middle of the magic at a WDW All-Star Resort. Disney has released their Summer Fun package that includes a 2 day / 3 night stay at one of the three Disney All-Star Resorts; All-Star Movies, All-Star Music and All-Star Sports. For as low as $1,205, a family of 3 (2 adults 1 child aged 3-9) can enjoy a 3 night stay in a standard room at a Disney All-Star resort and a 2 day theme park base ticket. Sample package price is based on an arrival Sunday – Thursday June 2nd – June 25th and July 7th – Aug 29th.

All-Star Music Resort

When you book this offer for arrivals in June, you will receive a Disney gift card upon resort check in, $10 per room per night. The gift card is only valid for arrivals between May 28, 2019 to June 30, 2019; one gift card will be issued per reservation per night of stay.

All-Star Sports Resort

This package is available for arrivals between June 2, 2019 – June 25, 2019 and July 7, 2019 – August 29, 2019. The number of rooms allocated for this offer is limited and may be available at additional resorts for an increased price. Summertime is a magical time a the Walt Disney World Resort, contact me for additional information or for a free, no obligation quote via email or my Facebook page; Kristieryan.travel@gmail.com or http://www.facebook.com/KristieRyan.Travel.

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New Summer One World Ticket at Walt Disney World Resort.

Best Friends in front of CInderella’s Castle, Magic Kingdom

Disney just announced today an offer unlike any other, the “Summer One World Ticket” that will allow guests 6 admissions – one admission to each of the 4 theme parks and 2 water parks. Tickets will cost $74 (plus tax) per admission for a total purchase price of $444 (plus tax). Tickets must be purchased and used between June 4, 2019 – Aug 28, 2019. Tickets are able to be used for more than one park admission per day.

Ticket includes 1 admission to each park; Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Animal Kingdom, Hollywood Studios, Typhoon Lagoon, Blizzard Beach. This can be used along with a room only reservation at a Walt Disney World Resort Hotel, guests are not required to stay on Disney property to obtain this offer. Contact me for more details or for a free, no obligation quote for a stay at a Walt Disney World Resort.

Travel

New Extra, Extra Magic Hours at Walt Disney World Resort Theme Parks Includes Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge at Hollywood Studios

Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge will open Aug. 29, 2019, at Disney’s Hollywood Studios in Lake Buena Vista, Florida. At 14 acres, Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge will be Disney’s largest single-themed land expansions ever, transporting guests to live their own Star Wars adventures in Black Spire Outpost, a village on the remote planet of Batuu, full of unique sights, sounds, smells and tastes. Guests can become part of the story as they sample galactic food and beverages, explore an intriguing collection of merchant shops and take the controls of the most famous ship in the galaxy aboard Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run. (Disney Parks)

Guests staying at select Walt Disney World Resort hotels have the opportunity to enjoy select attractions in at least one of our four theme parks, before or after regular operating hours, as part of the Extra Magic Hours benefit. It has been announced that guests staying at these hotels this fall will have more opportunities to take advantage of this Extra Magic Hours benefit with Extra, Extra Magic Hours at our theme parks!

The Extra, Extra Magic Hours benefit will include expanded daily offerings at three of the theme parks, which includes more time to visit Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge at Hollywood Studios, as well as other experiences at Animal Kingdom and Magic Kingdom theme parks. Here’s the details: 

  • Disney’s Hollywood Studios — Daily from Sept. 1-Nov. 2, the park will have Extra, Extra Magic Hours from 6-9 a.m., including Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, plus Toy Story Land attractions and select other attractions. Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge and its experiences subject to capacity. (Please note that on Aug. 29-31, Disney’s Hollywood Studios will open at 6 a.m. for all Guests. There will not be Extra, Extra Magic Hours on those days.) 
  • Disney’s Animal Kingdom theme park — Extra, Extra Magic Hours will happen daily from Aug. 29-Nov. 2, from 7-8 a.m., featuring Pandora – The World of Avatar and other attractions throughout the park (same as today’s morning Extra Magic Hours offerings).
  • Magic Kingdom Park —Extra, Extra Magic Hours will happen daily from Aug. 29-Nov. 2, from 7-8 a.m., featuring favorite attractions in Fantasyland and Tomorrowland (same as today’s morning Extra Magic Hours offerings).

Extra Magic Hours will also continue to be available on select days at Epcot.

If you are visiting this fall, please note that the Extra, Extra Magic Hours benefit at the Walt Disney World Resort requires a valid theme park admission and hotel ID.  Guests without the Park Hopper Option or Park Hopper Plus Option must spend the day at the same park where they’d like to enjoy the Extra, Extra Magic Hours benefit. Also, not all Walt Disney World attractions are available with the Extra Magic Hours benefit. Park hours and available attractions are subject to change without notice. *Applicable theme park, days and times of operation, attraction and service availability may vary and are subject to change without notice. Subject to capacity and cancellation. 

Follow my site for up to date happenings on Disney World travel and parks as well as other family friends adventures. If you are interested in a free, no obligation quote for a Walt Disney World vacation, please check out my Facebook page and click the link for a quote. http://www.facebook.com/kristieryan.travel


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May the 4th Be With You; sneak peek at the special merchandise and planned events to celebrate.

May the 4th will be here tomorrow so I wanted to give a sneak peek at what fans who will be at Walt Disney World can experience.

In honor of the annual fan-proclaimed “Star Wars Day,” Disney is releasing several new items, including a Star Wars T-shirt, drinkware and several pins.  The special themed merchandise will be available on May 4 at Hollywood Studios’ Tatooine, Launch Bay and Mickey’s of Hollywood as well as at Disney SpringsStar Wars Galactic Outpost and Star Wars Trading Post.

Tickets are also now on sale for a special Disney After Hours celebration on May the 4th at Hollywood Studios.  During this special Disney After Hours event you will have the opportunity to encounter Chewbacca with Rey, Kylo Ren with Captain Phasma and more! There will also be themed merchandise and special treats available for purchase.

During May the 4th, it’s also a great time to ride Star Tours – The Adventures Continue at Hollywood Studios and enjoy other Star Wars experiences, including:

  • Star Wars Guided Tours – Enjoy the full Force of Star Wars with this all-access tour.
  • Star Wars: Galactic Spectacular Dessert Party at Hollywood Studios where you can enjoy Star Wars-themed desserts and drinks (with a souvenir stein) while watching the show from a reserved viewing area.
  • Star Wars Launch Bay: Meet Chewbacca
  • Jedi Training: Trials of the Temple – Young Guests can train in the ways of The Force and put skills to the test against the Dark Side.
  • March of the First Order – You can witness Captain Phasma leads her squad of stormtroopers up Hollywood Boulevard.

Even though we won’t be at Hollywood Studios to celebrate, my family will be decked out in our Star Wars gear to celebrate this unofficial holiday. Have a magical weekend and remember “May the 4th be with you”!

Travel

Tickets Now on Sale for Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party 2019!

It’s the most magical time of the year, especially at the Walt Disney World Resort, when Mickey and friends deck the halls (and parks, and resorts) and get into the Christmas Spirit! Celebrate the holiday season with Mickey and his friends during the “Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party” where you will see Elsa make Cinderella’s castle shimmer and glimmer. There is music in the air as you enjoy all the decorations in Magic Kingdom, visit with some of your favorite characters decked out in their holiday best and some of your favorite attractions take on a holiday theme.

This is an extra ticket event so you will want to purchase tickets ahead of time. The party starts at 7pm and lasts until midnight. Dates for this year’s party are:

  • November: 8, 11, 12, 14, 15, 17, 19, 21, 22 and 24
  • December: 1, 3, 5, 6, 8, 10, 12, 13, 15, 17, 19, 20 and 22

During Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party, be on the lookout for special Character appearances like Jack Skellington dressed as Sandy Claws, Scrooge McDuck and even Santa Claus himself!

During the party there is so much to see and do such as enjoy a seasonal beverage (included with your admission) and an event-exclusive treats available for purchase throughout the night. Grab a hot chocolate and a sweet treat and find a spot to watch the “Once Upon a Christmas Time Parade” where you might see a dancing reindeer or even Santa himself! Don’t forget to grab a spot for the special holiday firework show at Cinderella castle too, it is a must see show for sure.

While the party is going on there are still some attractions open so you can enjoy some rides or head over to Cosmic Ray’s for a dance party as it turns into “Club Tinsel”.  There is so much to see and do during this event, you won’t want to miss out on this party! There is absolutely something for all ages to enjoy at this magical special ticket event.

Contact me for a free, no obligation quote for your upcoming Walt Disney World vacation. Please be sure to follow my blog, Facebook and Instagram to stay up to date on the latest Disney news!

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Top 10 Places or Ways to relax or wind down at Walt Disney World.

Vacation should be all about relaxing and enjoying time with people you care about. A Disney vacation may not always seem relaxing because there is just so much to see and do but there are ways to sneak in little breaks and some relaxing. Here are my top 10 places or ways to relax at Walt Disney World.

  1. Ride a slow or quieter ride. Riding the Tomorrowland Transit Authority (People Mover) at Magic Kingdom is a great way to sit and enjoy the views and relax for a little bit. One of my favorite attractions for relaxing is the classic Carousel of Progress at Magic Kingdom where we learn that there is a “Great big beautiful tomorrow, shining at the end of every day..” If you are at Epcot, I recommend riding Spaceship Earth and enjoying this slower moving ride that takes you throughout history or Living with the Land located by Soarin’.
  • Take in a show. There are so many shows at each of the Disney World parks that you have lots to choose from. This can be a great way to get inside out of the Florida heat and relax while watching Broadway level shows.
  • Find an out of the way place to sit and relax. When you are at Animal Kingdom, there are so many little paths back by Asia where you can get out of the crowds and relax a little. At Epcot, when you travel through the countries be sure to explore them. Many of them such as England, Japan and Morocco have little walkways or alleyways that are not as hectic and allows you to relax while enjoying beautiful gardens or buildings. Hollywood studios seems to be a little more tricky right now because there is so much construction but head over towards Echo Lake and there is often some quieter spaces to enjoy. At Magic Kingdom be sure to enjoy the Main Street Plaza Garden where there are greenspaces fenced in on both sides of Main Street with views of the castle. This is one of the best places to let little ones stretch their legs and for families to relax.
  • Ride the Monorail. Hop on the monorail and enjoy riding the loop OR jump off at each of the three resorts and explore! The theming at Disney World Resorts are amazing and you will not be disappointed in checking out the Grand Floridian, Polynesian or the Contemporary. If you catch the monorail at Epcot you will have to switch monorails at the Ticket and Transportation Center to get to these resorts. Added bonus, the beach at the Polynesian is a great place to watch the fireworks from Magic Kingdom or the water parade at night. The Contemporary has a viewing deck that has an incredible view of the Magic Kingdom fireworks also.
  • Take a boat ride. You can take a boat ride from Magic Kingdom to the Grand Floridian,  Polynesian or Wilderness Lodge. You can also enjoy a nice relaxing boat ride from Wilderness Lodge over to the Contemporary. When staying at Port Orleans French Quarter, Port Orleans Riverside, Old Key West or Saratoga Springs resorts you can travel by boat to Disney Springs. The resorts of Boardwalk, Beach Club, Yacht Club, and the Swan and Dolphin Hotels have boats traveling to Epcot and Hollywood Studios.
  • Utilize the Baby Care Centers. When traveling with a little one, be sure to utilize the Baby Care Centers located in each of the Disney Theme Parks. These centers give you a little more privacy and comfort during those hot or busy park days to feed or change little ones.
  • Swim and play at your resort. Don’t forget to take a day or at least a few hours to enjoy the pools and activities at your Walt Disney World Resort. All of the resorts have multiple pools, each with different theming to match their resort and are staffed with lifeguards. An added bonus is that there are typically activities that go on near the pool for kids of all ages lead by Cast Members. At night, most of the main resort pools will have poolside movies which is the perfect way for families to relax and unwind after a day in the parks.
  • Resort Hop. Have a few hours of down time? Book a dining reservation at another of the Disney resorts so you can check them out OR just head over to the other resorts to take a walk around. This is how my family usually gets an idea of the next resort everyone wants to stay at. We take a few hours one day and pick a couple resorts to check out. That helps us see what each has to offer in person.
  •  Head to a Water Park. Disney World has two water parks both themed very differently but equally fun, Typhoon Lagoon and Blizzard Beach. Enjoy the wave pools and find a beach chair to soak up the sun and relax. There are plenty of attractions for all members of the family, from the lazy rivers to big water slides. It’s the best of both worlds because you can enjoy various attractions with your family and then chill out and relax in your beach chair by the water.
  1. Plan a “down” day. If you have time in your trip, have one day where you don’t have anything planned. If you have a park ticket for that day, you can wake up that morning and decide where to head and not worry about fast passes. I know, the horror – how could she say that lol, but there is something to be said for taking a spontaneous day once in a while. My family usually takes one day of our trip and doesn’t get a park ticket for that day. We can decide to swim, explore, head to Disney Springs or do all three. The beauty is that it helps to recharge our batteries because we are typically a rope drop to park close kind of a family.

However you decide to plan your vacation, remember to be in the moment and enjoy making memories with the people you love.

Please contact me if you would like a FREE, NO Obligation quote on a Walt Disney World Resort Vacation. My services are free for my clients. To stay up to date on Disney Park news and offers, please follow me on Facebook and Instagram at www.facebook.com/KristieRyan.travel or www.Instagram.com/KristieRyan.travel.

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When is the best age to start taking your kids to Disney (or other theme parks)?

This is a question that as an Authorized Disney Vacation Planner I seem to get a lot. Often as I’m speaking to potential clients they will say “I would love to go but we are going to wait until my youngest can appreciate or enjoy it.” I get it, Disney and other theme parks are not cheap so of course you want to make sure that each family member enjoys themselves and lots of fun memories are made. What I like to encourage people is to keep in mind that often the parents or other adult relatives on the trip are the ones who will have the memories of their kids first time seeing the castle, or that first ride on Dumbo; those are the memories that last a lifetime. An added bonus of traveling with an infant is that at Disney Parks kids under the age of 3 are FREE!

What has helped to shape my opinion on this topic is that our daughters first trip to Walt Disney World was when she was three years old and to be honest, seven years later she still remembers some things about the trip but she LOVES seeing pictures of her first trip and us telling her the stories. Yes, there are challenges in taking younger kids; they get overwhelmed and over stimulated more easily, they tire out faster, they often haven’t learned impulse control so when they want to eat, rest, see something or do something they don’t understand that you may have to wait. The first trip with our daughter wasn’t all sunshine and roses trust me, she has always seemed to know exactly what she wants and is willing to do or not do, would get over stimulated easily with all the lights, people and sounds, needs downtime to chill out plus she is pretty stubborn so when she says she won’t take a picture in front of the castle she is not kidding, she seriously means it (and still does today lol).

The biggest advice I give people who are considering taking young kids to Disney (or other theme parks) is that you know your child better than anyone. What works for one family may or may not work for your family and that is okay. I knew that as long as I gave my daughter time to swim, run, explore at her own pace and rest when she was tired that we would have a great time. Did that mean that I did not get to ride Haunted Mansion because she was too nervous (and they didn’t have the rider switch option yet) sure, but I had a better time making memories of her and I riding Dumbo and her cracking up at me because I was nervous and she wasn’t (I’m terrified of heights, she is not). It was more about the memories of the first time her and my husband had a sword fight in the shop outside of Pirates of the Caribbean, still a tradition today with them. The memory of seeing her face light up when she walked onto Main Street the first time and saw the castle lit up for Christmas or how she laughed when we rode Kilimanjaro Safari at Animal Kingdom because it seemed like a giraffe was going to try to get into the car with us. I never got a picture of her looking at the camera in front of the castle, but I do have a few pictures of my husband and I looking at the camera and our daughter with her hands in front of her face because she did not want to take the picture….it’s still one of my favorite pictures of my family because it’s an honest picture of our first Disney adventure as a family.

So, if you think you may be up to traveling to Disney with a young child, toddler or infant, here are my top five pieces of advice.

  1. Plan, Plan, Plan….but don’t be afraid to change your plans based on what your kid(s) really need. I am a planner, it gives me less stress and anxiety to have a plan and an idea at least of what we will be doing each day before we leave (also makes packing easier). With that being said, even as my daughter gets older, we still have days where one of us may be tired or just in the mood to do something different so we change up our plans as we go. It’s okay to have some flexibility.
  2. Use the Rider Swap option for the rides that your little ones cannot or will not ride. This way the adults can still enjoy the ride with older kids or other family members.
  3. Utilize the Baby Care centers at each of the Disney parks. These are especially nice for nursing mothers on those hot summer days as well as gives you a little more privacy to change or feed a baby in a more relaxing environment.
  4. Take Breaks. Plan some down time at the resorts and enjoy the pool or hop on the monorail or a boat from a park to a resort for a nice relaxing ride. Get a Mickey pretzel, Mickey ice cream or some popcorn and sit down to relax for a while. In Magic Kingdom, the Main Street Plaza Garden is a nice grassy, fenced in area where you can spread out to relax and little ones can stretch their legs and move around.
  5. Bring Snacks. Did you know that you can bring your own snacks into Disney Parks? Bring some fruit snacks or goldfish crackers and a few bottles of water so when you are waiting in line your little ones can have a snack.

Most of all, plan your vacation in a way that YOUR family will get the most enjoyment. Spend some quality time together and enjoy seeing the Magic that a Disney Parks vacation has to offer!

If you would like help in planning an upcoming vacation to Disney Parks (Disney World or Disneyland) please contact me for a free, no obligation quote. My services are free to my clients and I would love to help you plan. Follow me on Facebook at www.facebook.com/KristieRyan.Travel or Instagram at www.Instagram.com/KristieRyan.Travel.