Archive for February, 2009

Disney’s Magical Express (Airport Shuttle Service) – New luggage procedure for late night arrivals.

As of March 30th, luggage service will no longer be available for guests arriving at the Orlando International Airport (MCO) after 10:00PM.   If you have a late night flight into Orlando, simply Collect your luggage at baggage claim area and take them with you to the Disney’s Magical Express check-in desk.   The buses have enclosed luggage compartments.
Most guests arriving late tended to collect their bags anyway so that they didn’t have to wake up in the middle of the night when the bags arrived, or try to round up bags the next morning when the family is eager to head to the theme parks.
Disney Magical Express (DME) is contracted with Mears Transportation and it is customary to tip the bus driver when suitcases must be loaded and unloaded.   You do not need to tip the Walt Disney World Resort bus drivers who transport you between the resorts and theme parks.

 

 

 

February 26, 2009 at 8:59 pm 2 comments

Walt Disney World Resort in May – Crowds, Special Events, and Ride Closings

Crowd Warnings:

1.      Most of May has great weather and moderate crowds – this is a fantastic time of year to visit Walt Disney World.   It’s always smart to use good touring techniques for the headliners, even in moderate crowds.

2.     2009 Star Wars Weekends – Disney’s Hollywood Studios (information below).  (Friday – Sundays) May 22-24, May 29-31, June 5-8, June 12-14.  Saturday is the best day of the weekend to visit this event.  TIP: Avoid Sundays – the combination of the Star Wars Weekend and Fantasmic! show will make Disney’s Hollywood Studios disproportionately crowded.  Non-Star Wars fans may prefer to visit Disney’s Hollywood Studios on a weekday. 

3.     Memorial Day Weekend – A 3-Day weekend and the beginning of the summer travel season means that we’ll start to see the crowds building towards the end of May.  This is still a good time to visit – just use a good touring plan and you’ll be fine. TIP: Avoid Extra Magic Hours on Memorial Day Weekend!  We recommend that everyone avoid the Extra Magic Hours.  Disney has 33,000 hotel rooms and no one goes to Disney alone – that means too many people are pointed in the same direction at the same time. You’ll have a much nicer time by going to a less busy park.  This is doubly important if you are not staying at a Disney resort – you don’t want to get to the theme park and find a bunch of Disney guests in line in front of you.  TIP: Make dining reservations right away.

4.     Fantasmic! (Disney’s Hollywood Studios) –This great show is no longer presented every night.   It’s generally offered on Sunday and Thursday with a few other days here and there. It will be offered May 3, 7, 10, 14, 20, 22, 24, 26, 28, 31.  This is a very popular show and we highly recommend it.  Warning: When there are limited performances, you know Disney’s Hollywood Studios is going to be busier on days featuring a Fantasmic! show.  This will be especially true on Sundays because of the Star Wars Weekends.   Fantasmic! Dinner Package reservations will be harder to get.   Afternoons will be especially busy as those with Park Hopper tickets come over to see the show.  A good touring plan will help you manage this.   Warning:  This show is excellent but it does feature villains for a good 8-10 minutes.  The scene is fairly intense and can be frightening to small children.

5.     SpectroMagic Parade (Magic Kingdom) – This classic nighttime parade is also being offered numerous times throughout the month.   You can see it on the evenings of May 2, 4, 7, 9, 14, 16, 18, 21, 22, 23, 24, 26, 30.  Warning: Any day with a SpectroMagic Parade AND Extra Magic Hours will mean horrible, horrible crowds at the Magic Kingdom.  Avoid these days and go somewhere less crowded – you’ll be glad you did. 

Special Events:

1.      Epcot’s Flower & Garden Festival ~ March 18 – May 31, 2009.  The landscaping at Walt Disney World is always beautiful but everything is even more amazing during this festival (included in the cost of admission).   Gardeners will find tips, displays, and special events just for them.   Those who don’t sport green thumbs will also enjoy the “Cinderellabration” topiary, Pirates Adventure Zone, Pixie Power Playground, and the popular “Flower Power” concerts.   Performances are subject to change but here’s the current schedule:

  • March 20 – 22: Davy Jones
  • March 27 – 29: Paul Revere & the Raiders
  • April 3 – 5: The Turtles featuring Flo & Eddie
  • April 10 – 12: Herman’s Hermits staring Peter Noone
  • April 17-19: The Ventures
  • April 24-26: Harold Melvin’s Blue Notes
  • May 1-3: Chubby Checker & the Wildcats
  • May 8-10: “Ricky Nelson Remembered”, featuring the Nelsons
  • May 15 – 17: Jose Feliciano
  • May 22-24: The 5th Dimension
  • May 29-31: Tony Orlando

 2.     2009 Star Wars weekends at Disney’s Hollywood Studios.  (Friday – Sundays) May 22-24, May 29-31, June 5-8, June 12-14.  See Star Wars characters, autograph sessions, Legends of the Force motorcade, Stars of the Saga Q&A, Hyperspace Hoopla, and more.  This event is included in the cost of your Walt Disney World Resort theme park admission.   Fun event for Star Wars fans.  Most of the activities occur near the Star Tours attraction but this event does draw extra people.  You may prefer to visit on Disney’s Hollywood Studios a weekday if you are not participating in this event. 

Temporary Attraction Closures and refurbishments:

  • Liberty Tree Tavern (Restaurant – Magic Kingdom) the restaurant will be open but – beginning January 5th – Liberty Tree Tavern will no longer offer character dining.
  • The Hall of Presidents (Animatronic Show – Magic Kingdom) will be closed through July 1, 2009.
  • Space Mountain (Magic Kingdom) will close April 19th and is not schedule to reopen until late 2009.
  • Tomorrowland Transit Authority (Magic Kingdom) is closed April 19th – August 19th.
  • San Angel Inn Restaurant (Epcot – Mexico Pavilion) will close for renovations beginning May 10th, 2009.
  • Spoodles (Restaurant – Boardwalk Inn) will undergo some minor renovations from May 11-May 29, 2009. The restaurant will not be open for dinner during these renovations; however, a limited breakfast menu will be available. The Boardwalk Spoodles Pizza window will remain open during the renovations.  

Can you save money with the Disney January – June “Free Nights”  Promotion?

Disney recently released a special “Free Nights ” promotion for most dates in January through August 15th. The availability is limited but the potential savings make it worthwhile to call and see if the promotion can be applied to your reservation. In a nutshell, you must pay for the first four nights of your stay and then you’ll receive free room & tickets for up to three additional nights. Dining plan can be added at the regular rate for the length of stay. This is good for stays up to ten days: This promotion must be booked by March 26th, 2009

  • January – April 2: Special discounts on the room portion of your package or reservation available on select nights through April 2nd. This is a good option for people staying 4 nights or less – longer visits are probably going to save more by using the “Free Nights” promotion.
  • Are you active duty or retired military? Disney has recently released a new promotion that will save you a lot on your 2009 vacation.

 Free Custom Touring Plans

 If you find this report helpful, please consider using us to book your vacation reservations or for custom theme park touring plans.  We are authorized Walt Disney World Vacation Planners and book directly with Disney so you never pay more than if you booked the reservation yourself.  Then we provide lots of help and advice designed to take the stress out of vacation planning. 

  • Help with building a Best Days Itinerary – a daily schedule that puts you in the best park for each day of your trip
  • Help with dining reservations (subject to availability)
  • Custom touring plans that keep you ahead of the crowds and out of the long lines. Or, if you prefer to do your own plans, we will provide either a subscription to Tour Guide Mike or the newest edition of The Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World to you instead of our touring plans. The choice is yours.

At Build A Better Mouse Trip, we are convinced that everyone can benefit with good touring plans.   During busy times, a good plan will absolutely keep you ahead of the crowds and out of the lines – our clients typically wait less than 20 minutes for rides, even thrill rides and headliners.   During less crowded times, a good plan factors in shorter park hours and fewer performance times.    But the most important benefit of a good plan is that everyone gets to ride and see the things that they are looking forward to because everyone’s priorities are included in a plan that tours the parks efficiently and effectively.  For more information see: http://www.buildabettermousetrip.com/freetouringplans.php You can purchase custom planning service from us but most of our clients get them for free.  We accept Disney and other hotel commissions as payment for our planning services. If you’ve already booked your own reservation, it may be possible to have our name added as the agent of record.  Your rate, confirmation, and benefits all stay exactly the same.  In this situation, Disney just pays us the commission they would’ve kept for themselves.  Then – free to you – we provide you with custom touring plans that let you enjoy more attractions with less lines.

 If you have questions or are interested in our services:

                * just call us toll free at 877-815-6515
                * or use the online form

 

 Thank you,

Stephen

 Build A Better Mouse Trip
www.buildabettermousetrip.com
Toll Free Phone: 877-815-6515
International callers: 719-495-5698

Build A Better Mouse Trip is a full service travel agency specializing in Florida vacations & Cruises. Build A Better Mouse Trip is not affiliated with or in any way officially connected with, The Walt Disney Company, Disney Enterprises, Inc., or any of their affiliates.

February 24, 2009 at 11:33 pm Leave a comment

Walt Disney World with Small Children – Rider Switch Pass Information

 

 Walt Disney World Rider Switch / Baby Swap pass photo

Note:  The Rider Switch Pass is commonly referred to as Baby Swap / Parent Swap / Child Swap  passes,  etc.  

The Rider Switch Pass is important information for anyone traveling with children who will not be big enough – or brave enough – to ride certain attractions.   The rider swap pass allows adults traveling with small children or family members with special needs to efficiently trade places on any attraction with a height or age restriction.   You can always get a Rider Switch Pass when your child is too small for a height restricted attraction but some parents don’t realize that you can also use this service for timid riders – the child who is physically tall enough for a particular attraction but is frightened and doesn’t want to ride.  Parents of adult special needs children (Downs Syndrome, etc) can also use this service. Here’s how it works:

Standby Lines:  Both parents take the toddler or younger child to the standby entrance and ask the Cast Member (Disney employee) how Rider Switch works for this particular attraction.  In most cases, you will all have to go through the line together and, somewhere shortly before boarding the attraction, you will receive a pass that will let one parent exit with the non-rider while the rest of the party rides now.   In most cases, the waiting adult will be issued a Rider Switch Pass that allows him or her to ride the attraction at any point in the day using the FASTPASS entrance.  The Rider Switch Pass may have the number of eligible riders printed right on it.  If not, ask the Cast Member how many riders can ride using the Rider Switch Pass.   Disney knows that nobody likes to ride alone so at least two people can ride using one Rider Switch Pass.    Other attractions will let up to three or four people ride using one Rider Swap Pass.

FASTPASS Lines:  You use a similar method to get a Rider Switch Pass when using the Walt Disney World FASTPASS system.   In this instance, you present your FASTPASS ticket and the small child to the Cast Member at the FASTPASS entrance.  Ask for a Rider Switch Pass – the Cast Member may take the FASTPASS from the waiting adult and issue a Rider Switch  Pass in its place or they might just issue a Rider Swap Pass in addition to the FASTPASS ticket in hand.  If it isn’t already printed on the pass, ask how many people can accompany the Rider Swap Passholder.    Being able to have one or more people accompany you is why you get a Rider Swap Pass – the waiting adult would end up riding alone if you just waited and used the FASTPASS in hand.

 

Here’s how this looks with a more specific example – your baby is too small to ride Tower of Terror but your group has Tower of Terror FASTPASSes.  When you go to ride Tower of Terror, take the baby to the Disney Cast Member  at the FASTPASS entrance and present your FASTPASS tickets.  Tell the Cast Member that you need a Rider Switch Pass and ask how many people can ride using the one rider swap pass.  Three people can usually ride Tower of Terror using one Rider Switch Pass – the passholder and two extra friends/family members.    The Cast Member gives you the pass to the  adult who will wait with the baby while the others ride using their FASTPASS tickets.  When they’re done riding, the adult(s) who have already gone on the ride take the baby and then the adult who waited, along with two others,  can then enter using the Rider Swap Pass at the FASTPASS Entrance.

Why this is important:

1.) Just from a practical standpoint, you need to know the most efficient means of letting everyone ride height restricted, scary, or intense ride or attraction.

2.) More importantly (at least for the older kids in your party), the baby actually gives you a tactical advantage during peak travel times. Because the Rider Swap Pass lets up to 3 people accompany the passholder, this is the best way to ensure that the older kids get to ride the headliners / thrill rides twice.  This is a huge advantage and saves a lot of backtracking.  Be sure the older kids know that the toddler  is the reason they get to go twice – it should encourage sibling bonding. 

Important note:  Distributing actual Rider Switch Passes was implemented only a few years ago and there may be various adaptations or slight differences from attraction to attraction.  For example, the last time we used this on Space Mountain, the cast member asked how many return riders we had.  They then gave us that number of individual Rider Switch Passes, each good for only one rider. 

TIPS: 

  • If you’d like to ride the attraction twice, be sure to get a Rider Switch Pass even if the waiting adult doesn’t want to ride the ride. 
  • You do not have to use the passes immediately.  For example, if your group is at Epcot and needs to get through both Test Track and Mission Space using the Standby lines as soon as the park opens,  get the Test Track Rider Switch Pass and let the first group of riders ride using the standby line.  Then then move on to Mission Space and do the same.   Those riding using the Rider Switch Passes can do this after everyone else has gone through the standby lines when the lines are at their shortest.  Those not riding again can enjoy the activities in the Mission Space Training Area at the end of the ride – there’s even a play area there for the little one.   The two rides are fairly close together so the minimal backtracking shouldn’t be a problem.  This works 2-ride approach works well at Splash Mountain & Big Thunder Mountain in the Magic Kingdom, at Tower of Terror & Rock’N Roller Coaster in Disney’s Hollywood Studios, and at Expedition Everest & Kali River Rapids at Disney’s Animal Kingdom theme parks.
Walt Disney World Rider Switch / Baby Swap pass photo

February 15, 2009 at 11:34 pm 1 comment

Walt Disney World Resort in April – discounts, ride closures. special events, pool refurbishments.

There are some things going on at Walt Disney World in April that you need to know about:                                                                                          

Crowd Warnings:

1.      Spring BreakHeavy crowds all month.   No school, cold temperatures through most of the country but beautiful weather in Florida all work together to make big Spring Break crowds in the Walt Disney World theme parks.   Most Disney guests will just plan on standing in long lines but – armed with good touring plans, you can avoid hour long waits and spend your time having fun instead.   Did you book your Disney resort reservation yourself?  If you did, you can still get Build A Better Mouse Trip custom touring plans at no charge to you (see details below).  We’ll keep you ahead of the crowds and out of the long lines.  TIP: Avoid Extra Magic Hours!  We recommend that everyone avoid the Extra Magic Hours.  Disney has 33,000 hotel rooms and no one goes to Disney alone – that means too many people are pointed in the same direction at the same time. You’ll have a much nicer time by going to a less busy park.  This is doubly important if you are not staying at a Disney resort – you don’t want to get to the theme park and find a bunch of Disney guests in line in front of you.  TIP: Make dining reservations right away.

2.     Fantasmic! (Disney’s Hollywood Studios) –This great show is no longer presented every night but they’ve scheduled quite a few shows throughout the busy Spring/Easter break travel season.   It will be offered April 1, 2, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 19, 20, 23, 26, 29, 30.  There are two shows scheduled for the nights of April 5-11 & April 13-16.   This is a very popular show and we highly recommend it.  TIP: The second show – usually at 10:00PM – will be much less crowded and leave you with more time to enjoy the theme park.  When there are limited performances, you know Disney’s Hollywood Studios is going to be busier on days featuring a Fantasmic! show.   Fantasmic! Dinner Package reservations will be harder to get.   Afternoons will be especially busy as those with Park Hopper tickets come over to see the show.  A good touring plan will help you manage this.   Warning:  This show is excellent but it does feature villains for a good 8-10 minutes.  The scene is fairly intense and can be frightening to small children.

3.     SpectroMagic Parade (Magic Kingdom) – This classic nighttime parade is also being offered numerous times throughout the month.   You can see it on the evenings of April 2, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 23, 25, 26, 30.  There will be two parades on the nights of April 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12.  TIP: The second parade – usually at 11:00PM – will be much less crowded and leave you with more time to enjoy the theme park.  Warning: Any day with a SpectroMagic Parade AND Extra Magic Hours will mean horrible, horrible crowds at the Magic Kingdom.  Avoid these days and go somewhere less crowded – you’ll be glad you did.

Special Events:

1.      Epcot’s Flower & Garden Festival ~ March 18 – May 31, 2009.  The landscaping at Walt Disney World is always beautiful but everything is even more amazing during this festival (included in the cost of admission).   Gardeners will find tips, displays, and special events just for them.   Those who don’t sport green thumbs will also enjoy the “Cinderellabration” topiary, Pirates Adventure Zone, Pixie Power Playground, and the popular “Flower Power” concerts.   Performances are subject to change but here’s the current schedule:

  • March 20 – 22: Davy Jones
  • March 27 – 29: Paul Revere & the Raiders
  • April 3 – 5: The Turtles featuring Flo & Eddie
  • April 10 – 12: Herman’s Hermits staring Peter Noone
  • April 17-19: The Ventures
  • April 24-26: Harold Melvin’s Blue Notes
  • May 1-3: Chubby Checker & the Wildcats
  • May 8-10: “Ricky Nelson Remembered”, featuring the Nelsons
  • May 15 – 17: Jose Feliciano
  • May 22-24: The 5th Dimension
  • May 29-31: Tony Orlando  

Temporary Attraction Closures and refurbishments:

  • Liberty Tree Tavern (Restaurant – Magic Kingdom) the restaurant will be open but – beginning January 5th – Liberty Tree Tavern will no longer offer character dining.
  • The Hall of Presidents (Animatronic Show – Magic Kingdom) will be closed through July 1, 2009.
  • Space Mountain (Magic Kingdom) will close April 19th and is not schedule to reopen until late 2009.
  • Tomorrowland Transit Authority (Magic Kingdom) is closed April 19th – August 19th.
  • Ellen’s Energy Adventure (Epcot) will be closed January 5 – March 22.
  • Disney’s Port Orleans Resort / River Roost Lounge –  Bob Jackson  (YeHaaBob) will not be performing at all March 28-April 5.   See schedule.
  • Beach Club & Yacht Club Resorts – Stormalong Bay – Sections of the feature pool will be refurbished from January 5 to April 15, 2009.  There are three “quiet” pools throughout the resort that will still be open and guests may use the feature pool at Disney’s Boardwalk Resort.
  • Disney’s Contemporary Resort – Feature Pool will be closed January 5 – March 15th.
  • Concourse Spirits & Sundries (Contemporary Resort) will be closed January 5th – April 25th, 2009. Sundries will be available at either Fantasia or Bay View Gifts.  

Can you save money with the Disney January – June “Free Nights”  Promotion?

  •  Disney recently released a special “Free Nights ” promotion for most dates in January through August 15th. The availability is limited but the potential savings make it worthwhile to call and see if the promotion can be applied to your reservation. In a nutshell, you must pay for the first four nights of your stay and then you’ll receive free room & tickets for up to three additional nights. Dining plan can be added at the regular rate for the length of stay. This is good for stays up to ten days: This promotion must be booked by March 26th, 2009
  • January – April 2: Special discounts on the room portion of your package or reservation available on select nights through April 2nd. This is a good option for people staying 4 nights or less – longer visits are probably going to save more by using the “Free Nights” promotion.
  • Are you active duty or retired military? Disney has recently released a new promotion that will save you a lot on your 2009 vacation.

Free Custom Touring Plans

 If you find this report helpful, please consider using us to book your vacation reservations or for custom theme park touring plans.  We are authorized Walt Disney World Vacation Planners and book directly with Disney so you never pay more than if you booked the reservation yourself.  Then we provide lots of help and advice designed to take the stress out of vacation planning. 

  • Help with building a Best Days Itinerary – a daily schedule that puts you in the best park for each day of your trip
  • Help with dining reservations (subject to availability)
  • Custom touring plans that keep you ahead of the crowds and out of the long lines. Or, if you prefer to do your own plans, we will provide either a subscription to Tour Guide Mike or the newest edition of a well respected travel guide book to you instead of our touring plans. The choice is yours.  

At Build A Better Mouse Trip, we are convinced that everyone can benefit with good touring plans.   During busy times, a good plan will absolutely keep you ahead of the crowds and out of the lines – our clients typically wait less than 20 minutes for rides, even thrill rides and headliners.   During less crowded times, a good plan factors in shorter park hours and fewer performance times.    But the most important benefit of a good plan is that everyone gets to ride and see the things that they are looking forward to because everyone’s priorities are included in a plan that tours the parks efficiently and effectively.  For more information see: http://www.buildabettermousetrip.com/freetouringplans.php 

You can purchase custom planning service from us but most of our clients get them for free.  We accept Disney and other hotel commissions as payment for our planning services. If you’ve already booked your own reservation, it may be possible to have our name added as the agent of record.  Your rate, confirmation, and benefits all stay exactly the same.  In this situation, Disney just pays us the commission they would’ve kept for themselves.  Then – free to you – we provide you with custom touring plans that let you enjoy more attractions with less lines. 

If you have questions or are interested in our services:

  • just call us toll free at 877-815-6515
  • or use the online form

Thank you,

Annette

Build A Better Mouse Trip

www.buildabettermousetrip.com

Toll Free Phone: 877-815-6515

International callers: 719-495-5698

 Build A Better Mouse Trip is a full service travel agency specializing in Florida vacations & Cruises. Build A Better Mouse Trip is not affiliated with or in any way officially connected with, The Walt Disney Company, Disney Enterprises, Inc., or any of their affiliates.

February 12, 2009 at 8:10 pm Leave a comment

Walt Disney World Resort Crowd levels, Events, and Ride Closures in March 2009

There are some things going on at WDW in March that you need to know about:                                                                                              

Crowd Warnings:

1.      Spring BreakHeavy crowds beginning mid-March.   No school, cold temperatures through most of the country but beautiful weather in Florida all work together to make big Spring Break crowds in the Walt Disney World theme parks.   Most Disney guests will just plan on standing in long lines but – armed with good touring plans, you can avoid hour long waits and spend your time having fun instead.   Did you book your Disney resort reservation yourself?  If you did, you can still get Build A Better Mouse Trip custom touring plans at no charge to you (see details below).  We’ll keep you ahead of the crowds and out of the long lines.  TIP: Avoid Extra Magic Hours!  We recommend that everyone avoid the Extra Magic Hours.  Disney has 33,000 hotel rooms and no one goes to Disney alone – that means too many people are pointed in the same direction at the same time. You’ll have a much nicer time by going to a less busy park.  This is doubly important if you are not staying at a Disney resort – you don’t want to get to the theme park and find a bunch of Disney guests in line in front of you.  TIP: Make dining reservations right away.

2.     Fantasmic! (Disney’s Hollywood Studios) – Beginning January 3rd, this great show will no longer be presented every night.   It will only be offered on Monday, Wednesday and Thursday nights through March 15th.   Beginning March 15th, Fantasmic! will be offered on Sunday, Wednesday, and Thursday nights.  This is a very popular show and we highly recommend it.  Because of the limited performances, you know Disney’s Hollywood Studios is going to be busier on days featuring a Fantasmic! show.   Fantasmic! Dinner Package reservations will be harder to get.   Afternoons will be especially busy as those with Park Hopper tickets come over to see the show.  A good touring plan will help you manage this.   Warning:  This show is excellent but it does feature villains for a good 8-10 minutes.  The scene is fairly intense and can be frightening to small children.

 Special Events:

1.      ESPN The Weekend – February 27 – March 1 at Disney’s Hollywood Studios.  Expect Disney’s Hollywood Studios to be busier than usual this weekend. For official information see: http://espn.go.com/espntheweekend/

2.     The Inaugeral 2009 Disney’s Princess Half Marathon Weekend ~~ March 6-8.   Brand new Disney marathon weekend with events celebrating women of all ages.  The weekend includes:

  • Disney’s Fit for a Princess Expo
  • Family 5K
  • Kids’ Races
  • Disney’s Princess Half Marathon

3.     Campfire on de’ Bayou – Port Orleans Riverside Resort.   Enjoy a special storytime and campfire Sing-Along near Port Orleans Riverside’s Ol” Man Island Fishin’ Hole .  This special event is only offered on Thursday & Sunday nights from 6:30 – 8:00PM from Oct. 31, 2008-March 2009. Cost: free.  S’mores kits can be purchased for $7.00.  No reservations required.

4.     Epcot’s Flower & Garden Festival ~ March 18 – May 31, 2009.  The landscaping at Walt Disney World is always beautiful but everything is even more amazing during this festival (included in the cost of admission).   Gardeners will find tips, displays, and special events just for them.   Those who don’t sport green thumbs will also enjoy the “Cinderellabration” topiary, Pirates Adventure Zone, Pixie Power Playground, and the popular “Flower Power” concerts.   Performances are subject to change but here’s the current schedule:

  • March 20 – 22: Davy Jones
  • March 27 – 29: Paul Revere & the Raiders
  • April 3 – 5: The Turtles featuring Flo & Eddie
  • April 10 – 12: Herman’s Hermits staring Peter Noone
  • April 17-19: The Ventures
  • April 24-26: Harold Melvin’s Blue Notes
  • May 1-3: Chubby Checker & the Wildcats
  • May 8-10: “Ricky Nelson Remembered”, featuring the Nelsons
  • May 15 – 17: Jose Feliciano
  • May 22-24: The 5th Dimension
  • May 29-31: Tony Orlando  

Temporary Attraction Closures and refurbishments:

  • Liberty Tree Tavern (Restaurant – Magic Kingdom) the restaurant will be open but – beginning January 5th – Liberty Tree Tavern will no longer offer character dining.
  • The Hall of Presidents (Animatronic Show – Magic Kingdom) will be closed through July 1, 2009.
  • Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin (Magic Kingdom) will be closed March 2-9, 2009.
  • Ellen’s Energy Adventure (Epcot) will be closed January 5 – March 22.
  • Restaurantosaurus (Counter-service Restaurant – Animal Kingdom) will be closed March 3-12.
  • Typhoon Lagoon Water Park will be closed for its annual refurbishment Oct. 26 – March 21, 2009.
  • Cirque Du Soleil No performances on Tuesday, March 24th. There are no performances on Sundays & Mondays.
  • Disney’s Port Orleans Resort / River Roost Lounge –  Bob Jackson  (YeHaaBob) will not be performing at all from March 7-15 and March 28-April 5.   See schedule.
  • Beach Club & Yacht Club Resorts – Stormalong Bay – Sections of the feature pool will be refurbished from

January 5 to April 15, 2009.  There are three “quiet” pools throughout the resort that will still be open and guests may use the feature pool at Disney’s Boardwalk Resort.

  • Disney’s Contemporary Resort – Feature Pool will be closed January 5 – March 15th.
  • Disney’s Port Orleans Riverside Resort Old Man Island Pool (Main pool) closed February 2 – March 1. Alligator Bayou pools closed from February 23 – March 6. Guest may use the Doubloon Lagoon Pool at Disney’s Port Orleans French Quarter Resort.
  • Fort Wilderness Resort & CampgroundThe Meadows Pool with be closed January 12- March 13, 2009.
  • Concourse Spirits & Sundries (Contemporary Resort) will be closed January 5th – April 25th, 2009. Sundries will be available at either Fantasia or Bay View Gifts.
  • Disney’s Saratoga Springs Resort – High Rock Spring pool will be closed March 9 – 30. Guests can still use the three leisure pools at the resort and the feature pool at Disney’s Old Key West resort.

 Can you save money with the Disney January – June “Free Nights”  Promotion?

  •  Disney recently released a special “Free Nights ” promotion for most dates in January through August 15th. The availability is limited but the potential savings make it worthwhile to call and see if the promotion can be applied to your reservation. In a nutshell, you must pay for the first four nights of your stay and then you’ll receive free room & tickets for up to three additional nights. Dining plan can be added at the regular rate for the length of stay. This is good for stays up to ten days: This promotion must be booked by March 26th, 2009
  • January – April 2: Special discounts on the room portion of your package or reservation available on select nights through April 2nd. This is a good option for people staying 4 nights or less – longer visits are probably going to save more by using the “Free Nights” promotion.
  • Are you active duty or retired military? Disney has recently released a new promotion that will save you a lot on your 2009 vacation.

 Free Custom Touring Plans

 If you find this information helpful, please consider using us to book your vacation reservations or for custom theme park touring plans.  We are authorized Walt Disney World Vacation Planners and book directly with Disney so you never pay more than if you booked the reservation yourself.  Then we provide lots of help and advice designed to take the stress out of vacation planning.

  •  Help with building a Best Days Itinerary – a daily schedule that puts you in the best park for each day of your trip
  • Help with dining reservations (subject to availability)
  • Custom touring plans that keep you ahead of the crowds and out of the long lines. Or, if you prefer to do your own plans, we will provide either a subscription to Tour Guide Mike or the newest edition of The Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World to you instead of our touring plans. The choice is yours.

 At Build A Better Mouse Trip, we are convinced that everyone can benefit with good touring plans.   During busy times, a good plan will absolutely keep you ahead of the crowds and out of the lines – our clients typically wait less than 20 minutes for rides, even thrill rides and headliners.   During less crowded times, a good plan factors in shorter park hours and fewer performance times.    But the most important benefit of a good plan is that everyone gets to ride and see the things that they are looking forward to because everyone’s priorities are included in a plan that tours the parks efficiently and effectively.  For more information see: http://www.buildabettermousetrip.com/freetouringplans.php You can purchase custom planning service from us but most of our clients get them for free.  We accept Disney and other hotel commissions as payment for our planning services. If you’ve already booked your own reservation, it may be possible to have our name added as the agent of record.  Your rate, confirmation, and benefits all stay exactly the same.  In this situation, Disney just pays us the commission they would’ve kept for themselves.  Then – free to you – we provide you with custom touring plans that let you enjoy more attractions with less lines.

If you have questions or are interested in our services:

February 10, 2009 at 9:41 pm Leave a comment

2009 Walt Disney World Magic Your Way Dining Plan Prices

 Disney Magic Your Way Dining plans and the Cost per Person:

The most popular plan at Walt Disney World Resort is the Standard (or Plus)Dining Plan which provides one table-service meal credit, one quick-service meal credit, and one snack credit (up to $4 value), per person per with over 100 participating restaurants to choose from. Cost: $39.99 per adult / $10.99 per child per night of stay.

 There is also a Quick-Service Dining Plan which provides 2 counter-service (fast food) meal credits , two snack credits (up to $4 value), and one refillable resort mug (soda, tea, coffee -good only at the hotel, not in the parks). Cost: $29.99 per adult / $8.99 per child per night of stay.

The Deluxe Dining Plan provides 3 meal credits (sit-down or counter-service – your choice), 2 snack credits (up to $4 value), and one refillable resort mug (soda, tea, coffee -good only at the hotel, not in the parks) .  This plan offers just way too much food for most people. They don’t end up using all the credits so it isn’t usually a good value.  If you decide to use all sit-down locations, you’ll spend about 4 hours per day in restaurants. Cost: $71.99 per adult / $20.99 per child per night of stay.

Important Information about the WDW Dining Plans:

  • The number of meal credits is based on how many nights you stay in a Walt Disney World Resort hotel.  If you arrive on Saturday and leave the next Saturday, you are there 7 nights.  You’re credits will be based on 7-nights, not 8-days.
  • All credits are good until midnight of your departure day.  On your departure day, you can use any snack or meal credits for lunch or dinner even if check-out is at 11:00AM.
  • The dining plan does cover the sales tax for your meals but does not cover the gratuity (tip).
  • People staying in other non-Disney hotels can not participate in the dining plan.
  • There are over 100 restaurants to choose from – including character meals, restaurants in the theme parks, and restaurants in the Disney hotels.
  • Some contracted restaurants do not participate in the dining plan – these are primarily found in Downtown Disney and both Rainforest Cafe locations.
  • There are a few locations that are “Signature Dining Experiences” and require two table service credits.  Some example of these:  Cinderella’s Royal Table, California Grill, Brown Derby, Hoop Dee Doo Revue, Spirit of Aloha Luau.  
  • Your hotel room key will also serve as your theme park admission ticket and your Dining Plan card.
  • Children under age three do not participate in the WDW dining plan.  They may eat from your meals or you can purchase food for them.
  • Children must select from the children’s menus.  We recommend reserving some buffet and family style meals to give the kids some variety.
  • Sit-down restaurant reservations may be booked 90 days prior to arrival.   Due to the popularity of the dining plan, advance dining reservatations are recommended because many locations fill quickly.

At Build A Better Mouse Trip,  we happily make dining reservations for our clients (subject to availability).   We make sure you dine in a convenient location at a time that doesn’t interfere with showtimes, parades, or fireworks.  This, and other trip planning services, are offered at no additional cost when you book your vacation through us.

February 6, 2009 at 8:30 pm 4 comments

Disney’s Animal Kingdom Rides & Attractions for Families with Toddlers

Disney’s Animal Kingdom is a great theme park and we’re always sad when families skip this park because “we’ve got a good zoo here at home”.   While there are animals, this isn’t just another zoo.   The shows are excellent and most families can fill a very full day, even if there are not a lot of rides.    We’ll try to warn you about anything that might scare a toddler or that might not hold the interest of of a small child.

Africa Area

  • Donald’s Breakfast Safari Character Breakfast.  TIP: Book around 10:15AM so that you can enjoy Dinoland USA and the Maharajah Jungle Trek while crowds are at their lowest.
  • Kilimanjaro Safari – Safari ride past live animals.
  • Pangani Forest Trail. Animal habitat area featuring monkeys, okapi, naked mole rates, hippos, meerkats, and more.

Asia Area

  • Flights of Wonder Bird Show – Educational show featuring hawks, macaws, and other birds. Lasts about 30 minutes; use your own judgment about your child’s attention span and interest level.
  • Maharajah Jungle Trek– Animal habitat area featuring monkeys, Komodo dragons, tapirs, golden bats, tigers, and more.

Camp Minnie-Mickey

  • “Festival of the Lion King” (great show) – animal costumed acrobats and dancers perform in this much-loved show featuring songs from the movie.
  • Character Meet-and-Greet Pavilions

DinoLand USA

  • The Boneyard Play area – great archeology themed play areas.
  • “Finding Nemo – the Musical”. (great show) – impressive production with actors and puppets.  TIP: the last performance of the day is usually the least crowded.
  • Triceratop Spin – child’s ride similar to Dumbo the Flying Elephant.  TIP: ride as soon as the park opens to avoid long lines.  You’ll be able to repeat this ride a few times by arriving first thing.

Discovery Island

  • It’s Tough to be a Bug 3-D – One of Disney’s best 3-D movies but some kids find the giant bugs scary.
  • Discovery Island Trails – Animal exhibits along paths around the Tree of Life. You’ll find giant Galapagos tortoises, kangaroos, lemurs, and other animals.

Rafiki’s Planet Watch

  • Wildlife Express Train – train ride.
  • Affection Section – petting area with sheep and fat little African goats.
  • Conservation Station – educational area that may not hold the attention of very young children.

Other Attractions

  • Street performances
  • “Mickey’s Jammin’ Jungle Parade”. (A favorite of my family’s). Very cute parade with lots of great, classic Disney characters.

 Attractions with Height Requirements

  • Dinosaur (Dinoland USA) – Must be 40 inches tall / 102 cm. This ride is a bit intense as your jeep-type vehicle gets sent back in time, stuck in the dark, and nearly eaten by a dinosaur. Will likely terrify a small child, especially if they don’t know what to expect.
  • Expedition Everest (Asia Area) – Must be 44 inches tall / 112 cm. Seriously fun roller coaster. You don’t go upside down but you do go backwards in the dark.
  • Kali River Rapids (Asia Area) – Must be 38 inches tall / 97 cm. Water rafting type ride that should be fine for anyone tall enough. You will get soaked! TIP: Younger children can be taken to the bridge that overlooks the ride. There you’ll find buttons that let you spray the riders below with water from the elephant figures.
  • Primeval Whirl (Dinoland USA) – Must be 48 inches tall / 122 cm. Mad Mouse type ride that goes rather quickly.

Extra Animal Kingdom Touring Advice

  • This theme park closes earlier than the other Disney parks -often as early as 5:00 PM – so you probably cannot see everything AND take a mid-day break.
  • The landscaping is lush and beautiful, making this park perfect for great family photos. We all try to wear khaki with red or khaki with blue so that we coordinate in the photos.
  • The conventional advice is to go to Kilamanjaro Safari first thing but we disagree. All of the park’s “thrill rides” are clustered in the Asia & Dinoland USA areas – which are on the same side of the park. We advise taking your little ones to this area first so that you’re out before the crowds build.
  • Disney’s Animal Kingdom has some great live entertainment. If you see something fun, stop and enjoy it. You’ll be glad you did.
  • If you see an animal handler out with an animal,  stop and let the kids ask their questions.  These people are very friendly and informative.
  • Flame Tree Barbeque is a counter-service restaurant on Discovery Island and is our favorite quick-service restaurant at any of the parks.  All of the seating is outdoors so you might not prefer this on a very hot day.

Remember that Build A Better Mouse Trip will provide – at no extra charge –  custom touring plans to keep you ahead of the crowds and out of the long lines when you book your Walt Disney World Resort vacation through us.

February 5, 2009 at 5:35 am Leave a comment

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