Posts filed under ‘vacation planning’

Crowded Disney World Theme Parks? Here are some fun alternatives.

Crowds in the Magic Kingdom at Disney World.

Alternative Activities when you want a break from busy theme parks

Campfire Sing-Along  with Chip & Dale & Outdoor Movie at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Campground & Resort.   This is a free nightly activity that is open to all guests of the Disney World resort.  For details, see:

Almost all of the Disney World Resort Hotels now feature nightly outdoor movies.   You can find out what movies are scheduled at your resort at The schedule is updated on the first day of each month.   Check your Disney resort recreation guide (provided at check-in) for special activities offered throughout the day at your resort.

YeHaa Bob Jackson’s Boogy-Woogy Sing-along at the River Roost Lounge at Disney’s Port Orleans Riverside Resort – This is one of my favorite “Disney World Secrets”.  Bob Jackson’s sing-along is family-friendly and so much fun!  He performs on Wednesday – Saturday nights from 8:30PM to Midnight and Monday, December 31 (New Year’s Eve).  No cover charge.  For more information, see:

Elliot Dyson perfroms in Scat Cats Lounge at Disney’s Port Orleans French Quarter Resort – Here’s another Disney hidden gem!   Wednesday – Saturday nights from 8:30PM to Midnight.  Click here for more  information.

Electric Water Pageant (Floating Parade) – Disney has a cute floating parade that passes the Polynesian, Grand Floridian, Contemporary, Wilderness Lodge and  Ft. Wilderness Resorts nightly.   For more information, see:

Check out Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge Resort – This amazing Disney resort has two Savanna – animal viewing areas and a nightly story around a campfire.  We love spending time in the lobby and public areas of this amazing resort.

Watch the Magic Kingdom fireworks from the beach at Disney’s Polynesian Resort.   The soundtrack from the fireworks is played over speakers and, while it  may not be quite as impressive as the view inside the parks, it can be a quieter and less crowded alternative.   We love to get Dole Whips (pineapple frozen soft-serve) at Captain Cooks (the resort’s foodcourt) to enjoy while we watch.

Build A Better Mouse Trip
Toll free: 877-815-6515


December 5, 2012 at 12:48 am Leave a comment

Disney World “Play, Stay, and Dine” offer for January 2 – March 7, 2013 Arrivals

Big Savings Available for Disney World Vacation Packages with arrivals from January 2 – March 7, 2013.

Cinderella's Castle and the Disney World Monorail - Magic Kingdom / Disney World / Orlando, Florida. This is a great deal because Disney is discounting the various componants of your package that includes a room at a Disney World Resort hotel, theme park tickets and a Disney Dining Plan. While the savings can be quite significant, actual savings will vary based on length of stay, resort selected, and number of guests in your party.

Contact us today for a free quote.

Sample Pricing:
Buy a 5-night, 6-day room, ticket and Disney dining plan package at a select Disney Moderate Resort in a Standard Room for stays most nights Jan. 2 – March 7, 2013, and pay a package price of $2,429 for a family of 4. That’s a savings of $633! *Prices based on 2 Adults, 1 Junior and 1 Child. Savings based on the non-discounted price for the same package. The number of rooms allocated for this offer is limited. Tickets valid for one Theme Park per day and must be used within 14 days of first use. No group rates or other discounts apply. Advance reservations required. Ask about packages in other Resort categories.

Booking Window: This offer can be booked from Oct. 10 – Dec. 31, 2012

Travel Window: For arrivals most nights Jan. 2 – March 7, 2013. Subject to Availability.

Existing Reservations: This promotion can be applied (subject to availability) to existing Disney World resort reservations but you must call your travel agency or Disney and ask to have your reservation adjusted – it will not automatically be applied to existing reservations.


  • Offer excludes campsites and 3-bedroom villas and is not valid at Disney’s Art of Animation Resort – The Little Mermaid Standard Rooms. It can be applied to the family suites at Disney’s Art of Animation Resort.
  • Excludes gratuities and alcoholic beverages. Children ages 3-9 must order from children’s menu if available. Some Table-Service restaurants may have limited or no availability at time of package purchase.

Booking Information:

To book, use the link below or call the Build A Better Mouse Trip toll free at 877-815-6515 and ask for the Disney World “Stay Play Dine Offer.”

Click Here for a free, no-obligation Disney World vacation Quote

Thank you!

Stephen & Annette

Build A Better Mouse Trip
Toll free: 877-815-6515

October 10, 2012 at 3:44 pm Leave a comment

Disney Free Dining Promotion For Canadian Residents – Now through December 20th!

~ A Disney World FREE Dining Promotion for Canadian Residents ~

Free Disney Dining Plan Promotion - Eat Free at Disney World.  For Select Arrival Dates
September 30 – October 4 / October 19 – November 1 / November 9 –  15 / November 23 – 29 /December 10 – 20, 2012

Must book by December 13, 2012 ~ Proof of Canadian Residency required at Check-In.

Limited Availability ~ Black-out Dates Apply

Arrive on or before December 20th and you can enjoy free dining over Christmas!

Disney has offered a Disney World Free Dining Promotion to Canadian Residents booking a Disney vacation package for select dates between September 30 and December 20, 2012. Your arrival (check-in) date must fall within the promotion dates –  September 30 – October 4, 2012 / October 19 – November 1, 2012 / November 9 – 15, 2012 / November 23 – 29, 2012 / December 10 – 20, 2012 –  but your departure date can extend into the blackout dates.  This means that you can check in on December 20th and enjoy free dining over the Christmas holiday! (Subject to availability).  

Book a qualifying Disney World vacation package at a Disney moderate or deluxe resort and receive the Standard / Plus Dining Plan at no extra cost. This dining plan includes 1 counter-service meal credit, 1 table-service meal credit, and 1 snack credit per person, per night of stay. Receiving this dining plan free of charge saves a family of four about $107 or more per night of stay, based on the regular cost of this dining plan. You can upgrade to the Deluxe dining plan and just pay the difference between the standard and the deluxe plans. Contact us for details. 

Book a qualifying Disney World vacation package at a Disney Value Resort (Art of Animation, All-Stars or Pop Century) and receive the Disney Quick-Service Dining plan at no extra cost. The quick-service plan provides two quick/counter-service meals + 1 snack per person, per night of stay. Receiving this plan at no extra cost saves a family of four about $85 per night of stay. You can upgrade to the Standard or Deluxe dining plans by paying the difference between the quick service dining plan and your preferred dining plan. Contact us for details.   Disney’s Art of Animation Resort Standard Rooms are excluded from this offer but the Family Suites are included in the free dining promotion.

Travel Dates: Your arrival (check-in) date must fall within these days to qualify for the free dining promotion: September 30 – October 4, 2012 / October 19 – November 1, 2012 / November 9 – 15, 2012 / November 23 – 29, 2012 / December 10 – 20, 2012.

Minimum Requirements: Must purchase a package that includes three (3) Consecutive nights stay at a Disney Resort + at least 2-Day Disney Magic Your Way theme park Tickets.

Must Book By December 13, 2012:  There are a limited number of promotional packages available at each resort so book early to get your first choice in travel dates and resort.

A $200 deposit is required to hold your room. The balance  is due 45 days prior to arrival.

Suites, 3-Bedroom Villas, campsites, and Standard Rooms at Disney’s Art of Animation Resort are excluded from this offer. The Cabins at the Fort Wilderness campground and Family Suites at the Art of Animation resort are included in the promotion.

If you do not have us book this for you, be sure to tell the booking agent that you want the free dining promotion. They do not automatically apply promotions to new or existing reservations – you must specifically ask for the discount.

Existing reservations falling within these days can be altered (subject to availability) to reflect the free dining promotion. Call and ask to have the discount applied – it will not happen automatically.  

This offer was extended to the general public on July 12, 2012.  Non-U.S. residents can receive this promotion when you book through a travel agent based in the United States, like me.

Dining Reservations – Dining can be booked up to 180 days prior to your arrival. Book your dining reservations as soon as you are eligible. The free dining promotion has a serious impact on the number of available dining reservations and some restaurants will fully book very early. Remember that we book dining reservations on your behalf (subject to availability) when you book your Disney vacation through Build A Better Mouse Trip.

Free Theme Park Touring Plans & Vacation Planning Help – In addition to the free dining promotions, you can receive vacation planning help at no additional cost when you book your Disney vacation through Build A Better Mouse Trip.  (1) We help with establishing a “Best Days” itinerary, (2) help with dining reservations, and  (3) provide either a subscription to, or an Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World (guidebook) to help you with touring plans that keep you ahead of the crowds and out of the long lines. Contact us today to book your vacation. 

Click here to book your vacation with free dining today

Please let me know if you have any questions about the above information – I’m here to help.

Thank you,


Build A Better Mouse Trip
Toll free: 877-815-6515

Build A Better Mouse Trip is an independent travel agency specializing in Disney destinations.   We book directly through Disney but are not employees of the Walt Disney Company.

August 3, 2012 at 5:44 pm Leave a comment

Top Travel Agent Tips for a Better Disney World Vacation

 Partners Statue featuring Mickey Mouse and Walt Disney in the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World Resort. Walt Disney Word: Travel Agent Insider Tips from Build A Better Mouse Trip ~

  • Think through Extra Magic Hours.  Disney has special “Extra Magic Hours” that allow Disney World Resort Hotel guests.  This is where – on select days – the Disney Theme Parks open one hour early or stay open an additional three hours after closing to the general public  A lot of Disney hotel guests plan an itinerary that includes every Extra Magic Hour but this isn’t always a good idea.  For one thing, the Extra Magic Hour park is always the most crowded park of the day so you may actually enjoy more attractions with shorter lines by going to a less crowded park, especially during peak travel seasons.   The parks generally open at 9:00AM, so the Extra Magic Hour begins at 8:00AM – which means that you need to leave your resort by 7:30AM – at the latest – to take advantage of this early opening.  Will your family be interested in getting up that early – especially if they were up late watching fireworks the night before?   Epcot stays open until 9:00PM every night and the Magic Kingdom and Disney’s Hollywood Studios are also often open late.  Will your little ones really be able to enjoy Extra Magic Hours that begin at 9:00PM or later?   We’re not saying that you should always avoid Extra Magic Hours – we just want you to consider crowds and the potential for exhaustion levels when you plan your Disney vacation itinerary.
  • Disney Theme Park Touring Plans – Did you know that people who use theme park touring plans generally cut their time spent in line by 3 hours per day during the busy summer season?   A touring plan is simply using good information to see and do everything that is important to you in a way that minimizes lines and long waits. We are so convinced of the value of a good touring plan that we provide them free to anyone who books their vacation through us. For more information, see:
  • Book T-Rex, Rainforest Cafe, and Raglan Road reservations directly through the restaurants, rather than through Disney dining.  Communication has never been good between these three restaurants and the Disney Dining Reservation system.   Call the restaurants directly, if you’ve been having trouble getting a reservation:   Phone numbers: Raglan Road – 407-938-0300 / Rainforest Cafe (Animal Kingdom) – 407-938-9100 / Rainforest Cafe (Downtown Disney) – 407-827-8500 / T-Rex – 407-828-8739.   These restaurants all participate in the 2012 Disney Dining Plans.
  • Having trouble getting your favorite Disney theme park restaurant reservation?   Go to the restaurant podium as early as possible on the day you’re in that park.  They’ll be able to check for last minute cancellations and may be able to give you a spot, if you can be flexible with dining times.
  • Need to check in for your return flight 24 hours before departure? The guest services desk at the Disney theme parks or the concierge desk at your Disney World resort hotel can help you check in for flights and can even print boarding passes but be sure to bring your airline confirmation number with you.
  • Don’t carry souvenirs & purchases all day – Disney offers package pick-up service at each of the Disney theme parks.  Anything you purchase during the day (cut-off time applies) can be sent to a pick-up desk at the front of the park.  You retain your receipt so there is no worry about lost items.   Guests staying at the Disney World resort hotels can have the items sent to a pick-up area at their resort – they’ll arrive the following day so don’t use the resort delivery service on your day before heading home.
  • Disney Rider Switch Passes for families with small children – Did you know that Disney offers Rider Switch Passes for families that have members who cannot ride a height restricted attraction?  This allows one family member to stay with the non-rider while everyone else rides, then you can switch and the person who waited can ride without having to go to the end of the line.  Disney knows that no one wants to ride alone so the rider switch pass is good for 2-3 riders.  You can read all about it at
  • There are lots of things to do at Disney World that don’t require a theme park admission ticket.  See our list of free things to do at Disney World at
  • Get schedules for Disney World live entertainment (shows, street performers, etc) at
  • Free Activity: Staying at a Disney Resort?  Find out what outdoor movies will be shown at your resort during your stay at
  • Our list of the best quick-service meals available at Disney World can be found at
  • Driving Directions to Disney World

Thank you

Steve & Annette

Build A Better Mouse Trip
Toll free: 877-815-6515

Build A Better Mouse Trip is an independent, Disney-focused travel agency.   We book directly through Disney but are not employees of the Walt Disney World Travel company.

August 1, 2012 at 3:33 pm Leave a comment

Disney World in August – Temporary Attraction Closures & Resort Refurbishments

Disney World Refurbishment Sign Disney World Temporary Attraction Closures & Resort Refurbishments for August 2012:  

One of the great things about summer is that Disney tries to keep ride closures to an absolute minimum so that there are lots of attractions for people to enjoy.

  • Magic Kingdom: The big Fantasyland expansion is well underway and has changed the places you go to see some of your favorite characters. You can see the Little Mermaid characters intermittently at the Adventureland Verandah Porch (check your theme park times guide) but please note that Ariel appears in her human form here and does not have fins. The Disney Princess, Mickey Mouse, and Minnie Mouse Meet-and-Greets are now offered at the new Town Square Theater. FASTPASS tickets available. TinkerBell & Friends now meets guests at Tinker Bell’s Magical Nook in Adventureland.
  • Magic Kingdom: The Liberty Square Riverboat will be closed from August 4 – 10, 2012.
  • Magic Kingdom: The Country Bear Jamboree with be closed from August 22 – October 16, 2012.
  • Epcot: Test Track will be closed April 2012 – Fall 2012.
  • Downtown Disney – Characters in Flight balloon closed indefinitely.
  • Disney’s Beach Club Resort – Cape May Restuarant closed July 9 – August 4, 2012.
  • Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort – Citricos Restuarant closed July 23 – August 3, 2012.
  • Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort – Gasparilla Grill & Games (food court) closed from August 24 – December 16, 2012.
  • Disney’s Yacht Club Resort – Yachtsman Steakhouse Restuarant closed August 27 – September 14, 2012.
  • Disney’s All-Star Sports Resort – Surf Pool wil be closed from August 6 – September 7, 2012. The Grand Slam pool will remain open.  If you enjoy the pools, you may want to call your travel agent to see if you can move to one of the other Disney value resorts with no pool closures without increasing your cost.
  • Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort – Courtyard pool closed August 24 – early December 2012. The Beach Pool will remain open during this time.
  • Disney’s Magnolia Golf Course closed August 6 – 12, 2012.
  • Disney’s Palm Golf Course closed August 13 – 19, 2012.
  • Disney’s Lake Buena Visa Golf Course closed August 20 – 26, 2012.
  • Disney’s Osprey Ridge Golf Course closed August 27 – September 2, 2012.
  • Disney’s Magical Express (Airport Shuttle Service) – This wonderful service providing transportation between the Orlando International Airport and your Disney resort hotel is offered 24 hours a day but luggage service is not offered for arrivals after 10:00PM.   If you have a late-night arrival, you simply need to collect your bags and take them with you on the bus.

New Disney World Resort – Disney’s Art of Animation Resort is now open.

  • Disney’s Art of Animation Resort – The Finding Nemo and Cars sections are both now open at Disney’s Art of Animation Resort.  Construction continues on the Lion King & Little Mermaid areas.   Did you know that they’ve included special recordings of music and the Finding Nemo characters that you can only hear under the water in the “Big Blue” swimming pool?   We’ve added a lot of great new photos of this resort here.

Build A Better Mouse Trip gives you a better Disney vacation by taking the stress out of trip planning & providing theme park touring plans. We book directly with Disney so you never pay more than if you booked the reservation yourself and we provide lots of help and advice designed to take the stress out of vacation planning at no extra cost to you.

1) Help with selecting the right resort or hotel for your budget. We don’t just book Disney resorts – we’re happy to make reservations at other accomodations too.

2) Help with building a Best Days Itinerary – a daily schedule that puts you in the best park for each day of your trip

3) Help with dining reservations (subject to availability)

4.) At no extra cost to you, we will provide 1) a subscription, 2) Tour Guide Mike Subscription – or – 3) the newest edition of The Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World when you book through

 Contact us today for a free, no-obligation quote

Thank you


 Build A Better Mouse Trip
Toll free: 877-815-6515


July 31, 2012 at 6:39 pm Leave a comment

Disney World in August – Crowd Warnings, Tips, & Discounts

Entrance Sign to Walt Disney World in Orlando, FL.

Disney World Crowd Warnings & Tips for August 2012:

  • Summer Vacation means lines and crowds. The first two weeks of August will see peak crowds (an 8- 10 on a crowd scale of 1-to-10). A good touring plan will keep you ahead of the crowds and out of the long lines.
  • Avoid Extra Magic Hours! We recommend that everyone avoid the Extra Magic Hours during the busy summer season. 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.
  • Fantasmic! (Disney’s Hollywood Studios) – This great show is presented every night in August. Most nights (August 1 – 25) will have two performances and the second performance is always less crowded than the earlier show. Warning: This show is excellent but it does feature villains for a good 8-10 minutes. The scene is a little intense and can be frightening to small children.   If you’re concerned about your child being frightened, you can preview the show at
  • Main Street Electric Parade (Magic Kingdom) –This parade is offered August 1 – 18, 20, 23, 24, 25, 27, 30, 2012. The following dates do not have a nighttime parade: August 19, 21, 22, 26, 28, 29 & 31. The Main Street Electrical Parade will be offered twice on August 2, 3, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 13, 16, & 17 – the second (later) parade is always less crowded than the first one.
  • Avoid Character Breakfasts during August! – The theme parks will be at their least crowded and coolest when the parks open. It is far better to book a lunch or dinner reservation that gets you out of the direct sun and out of the crowds a little later in the day. If you’re really looking forward to a character breakfast, try a resort character breakfast before going to the water parks or on your departure day. Another option is to book the latest possible reservation and treat it like brunch, rather than breakfast.
  • A good touring plan is absolutely essential during this busy travel season. There will be lines that are well over an hour long but you don’t have to stand in them to see and do all of the things that are important to you. We provide three choices for custom touring plans – the most recent edition of the Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World (book), a subscription to, or a subscription to Tour Guide Mike (online service) – at no charge to you when you book your trip through Build A Better Mouse Trip. For more information, see: Walt Disney World Theme Park Touring Plans  

Disney  Discounts & Promotions – You can still save money on your August trip to Disney World.

  • Disney World Late Summer Savings Offer for August 15 – September 29, 2012 – Must book by August 14. Disney is offering a discount on the room portion of “room only” and package reservations for arrivals August 15 – September 29, 2012. The Discount only applies to the room portion of your Disney World “Magic Your Way” package that includes theme park admission tickets and, if desired, a Disney Dining Plan. This promotion must be booked by August 14, 2012 and is subject to availability. Blackout dates may apply; only one discount or promotion per reservation.
  • Military & AAA discounts may still be available for rooms at the Disney World resort hotels.  Only one discount or promotion per reservation.

Contact us today for a free, no-obligation quote

Thank you,


Build A Better Mouse Trip
Toll free: 877-815-6515


Build A Better Mouse Trip is an independent, Disney-focused travel agency.   We book directly through Disney but are not employees of the Walt Disney World Travel company.

July 30, 2012 at 3:30 pm Leave a comment

New! Walt Disney World Summer Savings Offer

2012 Disney World Summer Savings Promotion

For most nights from June 15 – August 14, 2012 – Must book by June 14, 2012

Walt Disney World Summer Savings Offer

Save 5% - 25% on your Walt Disney World Resort Hotel with the Summer Savings Offer.

Disney has released a new Discount Promotion for Summer 2012.   You can save on the room portion of your Disney World vacation for most arrivals from June 15 – August 14, 2012.

Some Sample Savings:

Travel Window: Book April 2 – June 14, 2012, for stays most nights June 15 – Aug. 14, 2012

Existing Reservations: This promotion can be applied to existing reservations but you’ll need to contact Disney or your travel agent and request the offer – it will not be automatically applied to your existing reservation.

Contact us today to book your Disney World Summer Vacation!

Build A Better Mouse Trip
Toll free: 877-815-6515
Request a Free Quote

April 2, 2012 at 5:56 pm Leave a comment

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