Episode 100: Groups at Walt Disney World

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Groups at Walt Disney World

We’re back and so excited to share our 100th episode!! We recently traveled with a group of our writers and are here to share our experience. We’ll include tips for group planning as well as what it’s like when you’re actually at the parks. We may even mention why the Frozen Holiday Sing-Along at Hollywood Studios is better than the Olaf’s Frozen Adventure short! Have you ever traveled with a group before? If so, what are you best tips for group travel?

As always, please share with us if you’ve got something to add to our discussion! Please share your story with us! Post to our facebook page or tag us on instagram!


If you’ve enjoyed this episode, please let us know. For more Disney tips, tricks, tutorials, packing lists, dos and don’ts… Okay, you get the picture. We’ve got a blog! www.mouseandmonorail.com You can also find us on the following socials: FacebookTwitterPinterestInstagram, & YouTube.

5 Things to Know About Hurricanes at Walt Disney World

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5 Things to Know About Hurricanes and Disney Travel

Traveling during the Atlantic hurricane season, typically June 1 to Nov 30, can be tricky. The odds of traveling during a major hurricane at Walt Disney World are extremely low. However, it’s always a good idea to know what you’re getting yourself into when planning a vacation during this time. Even more so, if you’re traveling during the season peak month of September! We have you covered though!Pandora: The World of Avatar

Closures Due to Hurricanes are Rare

Orlando’s central location within the state of Florida makes it a much safer place to ride out a larger storm. Did you know the structures throughout Walt Disney World were designed to withstand gale force winds? It’s no wonder that since its opening in 1971, Walt Disney World has only ever closed for hurricane weather a total of 4 times!! The most recent being just under a year ago, with Hurricane Matthew. While a closure can be frustrating, it’s better to know that things are closed and everyone is safe.hurricane

You Can Change Your Travel Dates Without Penalty if a Hurricane Warning is Issued

According to Walt Disney World’s official hurricane policy,

“If a hurricane warning is issued by the National Hurricane Center for the Orlando area—or for your place of residence—within 7 days of your scheduled arrival date, you may call in advance to reschedule or cancel your Walt Disney Travel Company Magic Your Way vacation package and most room only reservations (booked directly with Disney) without any cancellation or change fees imposed by Disney.

If you have products and services provided by third-party suppliers included in your vacation—such as airlines, hotels, car rental agencies or vacation insurance companies—you will continue to be responsible for any non-refundable payments, as well as cancellation or change fees assessed by those suppliers. The policy does not apply to certain special events or dining experiences.

This policy also applies to Disney’s Vero Beach Resort or Disney’s Hilton Head Island Resort in the event a hurricane warning is issued for those destinations.”hurricane

Travel Insurance is Key

Whether you’re planning to travel during the hurricane season or not, travel insurance is always a good idea. One of the many things it can cover is the ever-unpredictable weather situations that can and do affect travel. It’s good to remember that each travel insurance plan is different. Your travel agent can explain more about what’s covered. Unfortunately, most insurance plans can’t be added onto a paid in full vacation package.

Be thinking of the potential for hurricanes and whether you should select travel insurance when you first book your trip. Furthermore, most insurance plans will help cover costs associated with travel such as airfare to and from your destination. Remember: Even though Disney may reschedule your vacation without penalty, other third-party vendors that you have bookings with may not allow a reschedule. For more information on Walt Disney World’s travel insurance, click here. For more information on Disney Cruise Line’s insurance policy, click here.hurricane

Disney Has Safety Protocols In Place for Guests On-Site

While it’s no secret that Florida gets its fair share of hurricanes, it may be surprising to some that Walt Disney World is designed to withstand gale force winds. In the event that Orlando sees a direct, or even near-direct, hit from a hurricane, guests staying on property will be protected and even entertained! Many guests who’ve ridden out recent storms like Hurricane Matthew have reported that they’ve participated in games, movie marathons, and even unannounced character meet and greets within their resorts’ lobbies and food courts! Additionally, most resorts will allow guests to ride out the storm in their rooms. However, should the storm become more intense, each resort has an interior space to relocate everyone.Hurricane

Disney Cruises Are Subject to Change

While Disney Cruise Line makes every effort to maintain its fleet’s schedule, safety is always paramount. Unfortunately that means that sometimes Disney has to make tough decisions. If the safety of any of Disney’s ships is in jeopardy, Disney Cruise Line assesses that risk and plans accordingly. This can often be as little as diverting around a storm or mixing up the port days during each sailing. Sometimes though, the risk is too great and Disney will make the call to cancel sailings. As of 5 September 2017,  Disney Cruise Line has now canceled several sailings due to Hurricane Irma. Disney announced that they would be giving all guests a full refund and offering 25% off a future sailing. To find out more about what Disney Cruise Line is doing now for Hurricane Irma, click here.

Memory MakerIf you are considering a trip to Walt Disney World or a Disney Cruise during hurricane season, just remember to stay prepared and flexible. Safety is the most important thing! Stay weather prepared and keep an eye on Disney’s official sites for the latest information. Additionally, for more information on rainy days at Disney, be sure to check out our other blog post here. ~Meredith ºoºhurricane

Make Your Vote Count

We are roughly 200 days away from our next Disney trip, and I’m coming to you today because I need advice! I can’t make up my mind about what we should do on our next trip. Who else should I turn to but our trusted Mouse & Monorail readers for their input and opinions. So here goes…

We are taking our family on another Disney cruise in late May 2017 for our son Roo’s 6th birthday. It will be my husband, our 2 sons (ages 10 and 6) and myself. I know that there is simply no way I can cruise from Port Canaveral and NOT visit Walt Disney World. The question then turns to, “what do I want out of our next Disney trip?” We are wanting to be there for a couple of nights before our cruise, and we don’t want to break the bank. Here are a few options I’m tossing around:

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Option 1: Stay in a value or moderate resort, perhaps Pop Century or Caribbean Beach. We would purchase a 1 day water parks and more tickets and visit Magic Kingdom and Typhoon Lagoon. We haven’t visited the WDW water parks yet, so this would be fun and new for us. The boys love water parks, and I think with their ages there would be plenty to do to keep us all happy.

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Option 2: Once again stay in a value or moderate resort, and purchase 2 day tickets. We would visit Magic Kingdom and either Epcot or Animal Kingdom. I would like to see the new Animal Kingdom light show when it comes out, but a date hasn’t been set for that. The kids would probably enjoy Animal Kingdom (especially Expedition Everest) more than Epcot, but Jeremy and I fell in love with Epcot on our last trip. I’d love to really explore Epcot more, and allow them to see all the fun things around the World Showcase. And hello, Soarin’ and Test Track!

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Option 3: Skip the parks all together and splurge on a savanna room at Animal Kingdom Lodge. This resort is on my bucket list, and I would absolutely be in heaven waking up and seeing the giraffes outside my room. If we picked this option, we would probably explore the resort, eat at restaurants we’ve never tried, play in the pools and visit Disney Springs. We might even get tickets to La Nouba by Cirque de Soleil. It would truly be 2 days of relaxation enjoying the resort amenities to the fullest. I’d also like to do the starlight safari at Animal Kingdom.

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So those are a few of my ideas. What do you think? Which option would YOU pick if it were your trip? Feel free to throw out other ideas in the comments. I’m truly open to all suggestions, and can’t wait to hear which choice you would pick. Have a magical day! ~Amy ºoº

Episode 50: Unique Experiences

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It’s time for another top 10! This time it’s full of unique experiences at Disney. What is a unique experience, you ask? Well, we’re here to answer that for you! So, please help us celebrate 50 episodes of the Mouse and Monorail Podcast by enjoying our Top 10 Unique Experiences at Walt Disney World. ~Meredith ºoº

How to Plan a Disney Vacation in 2017

Plan a Disney Vacation in 2017

Plan Disney vacation with our easy tips.

In case you haven’t heard the news, on June 21st package rates will be released for 2017 travel to Walt Disney World. Packages include rooms and tickets to the parks. If you think that you want to visit WDW in 2017, but don’t know where to begin, here are some of our helpful resources that can help you get ready to plan the trip of your dreams.

Travel Agents

Walt Disney World can be very overwhelming for newbies. Travel agents can take care of the details for you so you don’t have to worry. If you book through an authorized Disney Vacation Planner, you know you are getting an expert, and the best part…you don’t have to pay anything for the service! Disney pays them for you! If you have questions on using a TA, listen to our podcast all about the services travel agents can provide for you. You can find each of our travel pages here: Jolly Holidays by Sarah, Main Street Memories by Meredith, and Tomorrowland Travels with Amy.

Where to Stay

Plan Disney vacation and learn where to stay.

You can check out our posts on which Disney World Resort is right for you. My part 1 post includes value and moderate resorts, and part 2 includes deluxe resorts and villas.  Our family loves Pop Century, a value resort, but other families may favor more deluxe accommodations. Sarah has covered why her family loves Port Orleans French Quarter and Disney’s Contemporary Resort.

Dining Plan

After covering where to stay, you’ll need to decide if the dining plan is right for your family. Listen to our podcast where we dished on Dining. Read what I shared in December about how I got out of my Disney dining comfort zone on the plan and loved every second of it.

Other Considerations

Would your family like the Memory Maker PhotoPass? How can you take the best pictures possible to remember this trip forever?

Plan Disney vacation and get your FastPasses early!

Wondering what in the world FastPass+ is? What about how to beat the heat in Orlando? We’ve got you covered on those topics too!

Lastly, check out my Top 5 Know Before You Go Tips. These tips will help you plan a Disney vacation with a lot less stress. Use the search button at the top of this page to check for anything else you might be wondering about or email us your questions at mouseandmonorail (at) gmail (dot) com.

Need to plan your Disney vacation and don't know where to start? Check out our best tips for easy planning and stress free Disney fun!

We would love to answer any questions you have! Will 2017 be the year for you and your family?

Episode 32: The Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival

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Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival

Today’s podcast episode is all about The Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival! If you haven’t read our take on the festival, check out Sarah’s article here, and then give the podcast a listen! Hopefully all of your questions will be answered, but if not, please feel free to comment here, on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram. We love connecting with our fellow readers and listeners.

Why You Should Visit Epcot's International Flower & Garden Festival

The International Flower & Garden Festival runs through the end of May.

Episode 29 3/4: Beyond WDW

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Hey howdy hey everyone! In today’s episode we move Beyond WDW to talk about our visit to other parks in the Orlando area. Meredith, and her friend Noelle, took a little trip to Universal and Islands of Adventure to visit the Wizarding World of Harry Potter as well. They also enjoyed a stay at Disney’s Art of Animation resort and new dining options at Disney Springs as well as old favorites like tonga toast from the Polynesian Resort. So sit back and enjoy as we discuss the parks beyond WDW!

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This is shot I said I’d include in the episode post. ??? ~Meredith °o°

Episode 11: All About Packing

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Today’s podcast is all about packing for Walt Disney World trips. We are breaking down Sarah’s packing list for Walt Disney World, and just for good measure, I’m throwing in my packing list for Disney cruises. Neither of these lists are going to cover the obvious things like socks and underwear, but we do have some great tips on what you need to take with you! And don’t forget that part of packing is preparing your devices! We mention Meredith’s  posts on how to take better WDW photos and you can find them here and here. Go check it out! ~Amy ºoº

Episode 10: Our own Top 10 WDW Attractions

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It’s Friday and we’re back with our 10th (!!) episode of our Mouse and Monorail podcast! We’re super excited to have been podcasting for 10 weeks now and hope that you’re all enjoying what we have to say. For every 10 episodes, we’ll be bringing you a top ten list and today’s is our favorite attractions from Walt Disney World.

 

We’d love to hear what your top 10 WDW attractions are too, so feel free to tweet or comment with your favorite attractions! ~Meredith ºoº

Friday News

Here’s your round-up of this week’s Disney news:

Chef Mickey’s to start serving Brunch beginning May 31, 2015

Star Wars Weekends begins today at Disney’s Hollywood Studios

•Disney Springs to feature Indiana Jones themed bar that’s set to open this fall.

Phineas and Ferb animated series finally coming to close with a 73hr marathon leading up to its last episode on June 9, 2015.

See y’all Monday with more fun Disney trivia. Have a great weekend!

The Scoop On Extra Magic Hours

Today I’m answering a question from our Mouse and Monorail Mailbag:

Bethany asked: “I’ve read that its best to avoid the park offering Extra Magic Hours because it’ll be more crowded on that day. Does this apply during low to moderate crowd times as well? Is there ever a reason to avoid going to a certain park?

Great question, Bethany! Extra Magic Hours are special entry hours offered only to WDW resort guests, and they are either offered before the park opens or they allow resort guests to stay in the park after the official park closing time. It can be a catch-22 in that while it allows you extra time to enjoy the park, it also makes that park more popular and therefore busier than other parks on any given day. Resort guests see “Morning Extra Magic Hour” and automatically think that that is the best park to visit that day – and it might be! It depends on a lot of factors such as time of the year, how many park days you have, and what you want to accomplish on your trip. There are over 30,000 hotel rooms in Walt Disney World! That is a lot of people that have access to Extra Magic Hours, and definitely something to keep in mind when considering whether or not you want to utilize Extra Magic Hours.

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I personally use and recommend a membership to touringplans.com to pick which park I will be visiting that day, and I can then see which parks are estimated to be the busiest on my travel days and plan accordingly. In the past, I have opted not to visit the park that is offering the Extra Magic Hours just to avoid the crowds, but that isn’t going to be possible on our upcoming day trip to MK. We will be traveling during low to moderate crowd time. For this particular day, we will be visiting the most crowded park, BUT it is only ranking a 4/10 for crowd levels, so it will still be very manageable. And yes, we will be using the Morning Extra Magic Hour. With our party of 11, we need as much time as we can get!

If Extra Magic Hours are offered in the morning, it can be a great perk. Arrive to the park early and you can get tons done before the regular crowds arrive. If you have park hopper passes, you can utilize the Extra Magic Hours and when the park gets too crowded, you can always hop to one of the other parks for the day. If you are a night owl, then nighttime Extra Magic Hours might be right up your alley. You will have the chance to enjoy the parks at night with far fewer guests.

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For us, I would rather enjoy a less crowded park overall, so I tend to not participate in Extra Magic Hours and pick another park to visit for that day. That being said, we travel to WDW during the off season, so crowds are not as much of a concern for us than if we were traveling during peak season. If we were traveling during a busier time of the year, I would probably have to reevaluate my touring plans to maximize my park time.IMG_1660

Here are a few things to keep in mind about Extra Magic Hours:

1. Only visit the park with Extra Magic Hours during Extra Magic Hours if you are staying in a WDW resort. Showing up early isn’t going to get you in the gates any faster if you aren’t a resort guest. If you are trying to stay late during Extra Magic Hours at night, you won’t get to ride any rides if you aren’t staying at a Disney resort (they can determine this by scanning your Magic Band, so don’t think you’ll be able to “fake” them out).

2. Only visit the Extra Magic Hours park if you intend to utilize the Extra Magic Hours. Otherwise the park will be more crowded, and you will have gained nothing from visiting that day.

3. Pay attention to crowd calendars – If you are visiting the parks during the busy seasons (summer, school breaks, Thanksgiving, Christmas, etc.), you only have a Magic Your Way ticket (and no park hopper), and are expecting high crowd levels, avoid using the Extra Magic Hours. The park will be super crowded, and you won’t get to do as much because you can’t hop to another park when the park gets too busy.IMG_1619

That’s my two cents on Extra Magic Hours. Have you used them? What are your thoughts? Let’s discuss in the comments. ~A ºoº

 

Friday’s News and Links

Here’s your Disney news and links for this week:
  • Food Network will take you on a magical behind-the-scenes look at the Disney Cruise Line in a one-hour primetime special on-board the Disney Dream. It will air Friday, March 27th at 8pm ET/PT.
  • Giant Sandcastle in the snow announces 24 hour party, “Coolest Summer Ever” at Walt Disney World resort
  • 5 new babies on Kilimanjaro Safaris at Disney’s Animal Kingdom

 

That’s all we’ve got for this week. Check back next week for more updates!!