Sunday, July 31, 2011

Let’s Talk Disney-Part 2: Booking a Disney Vacation Package


We’re going to take this post from the point forward that you’ve decided to book a Disney vacation and stay on Disney property.

The last post ended with 5 questions and we’re going to talk about the answers to those questions here.

1.  What dates are you considering going?  This really is a personal decision and what works for one family may not work for another.  Do you want to go when the kids are out of school?  Are you ok with taking the kids out of school to go to Disney?  Are you someone who melts in the heat so don’t want to go in the summer?  Do you want to take advantage of a Disney special?  Disney offers a variety of specials throughout the year so you’ll want to keep an eye on this link to see what offers are available on the dates you want to travel or a special may come along that helps you decide when you’d like to go.

2.  What type of resort do you want to stay at?  Value, Moderate or Deluxe?  I covered some of this in my original Disney post.  Here is a good link to the Disney Resorts and what each of them has to offer.  There are 19 resorts to choose from as well as Fort Wilderness Campground which offers both tent and trailer rental sites as well as cabins.  I’m not going to go into any more details about the resorts for the main reason that I’ve only stayed at 2 different ones.  I would really like to try out a moderate and deluxe resort but it comes down to a matter of price.  For myself I choose to stay at a value resort and visit Disney more often.  The other thing is that the value resort has all we need and more and for us we have busy days planned while on a Disney vacation so are not in the room much more than for sleeping  and getting ready for the day.  Maybe someday I’ll be able to try out the others but for now we're very happy staying at a value resort!

3. How many days do you want to visit the parks and additional options that can be added to your ticket.  The way Disney ticket pricing works is that you’ll pay the most for the first 3 days and then after that it’s almost free!  There are a variety of ticket types and those are provided here.  A basic ticket is called a ‘Magic Your Way’ ticket and truly it’s all you really need.  There are more options which are great to have but not necessary for having a good time.   My recommendation is that if you’re going to be there 4 days or longer I would get tickets for each day including your arrival and departure date unless you know for sure by your flight times that you won’t be able to go to a park on one or both of those days.  Here’s a sample of 2011 Magic Your Way ticket prices:


Guest 10+

Guest 3-9yo

1 Day MYW



2 Days MYW



3 Days MYW



4 Days MYW



5 Days MYW



6 Days MYW



7 Days MYW



8 Days MYW



9 Days MYW



10 Days MYW



There are also some other options that can be added to the base ticket.  We’ll get to those in a moment.

The tickets above expire 14 days from the day of first use.  It is possible to purchase tickets with no expiration (unused days can be used in 1 month or 1 year later) but the price increases quite a bit.  eg. a 10 Day MYW with expiration is $279.03 whereas the same ticket with no expiration is $505.88.  One thing to keep in mind is that to take advantage of some Disney specials (ie. Free Dining) you need to purchase a complete package for that stay which includes room + park ticket.  If you have unused days on a non-expiring ticket from a prior visit you either need to purchase new tickets and not use the non-expiring ones or, pay for the dining package if you want it.

Another option that can be added is the Park Hopper option which allows you to visit more than one of the Disney parks on the same day.  You can go to Magic Kingdom in the morning, Animal Kingdom in the afternoon and then finish your day with fireworks at Epcot.  The cost of adding this option is $54+tax/ticket regardless of the number of days you’re adding it to.  e.g.  It is $54 to add the Park Hopper option to a 3 day ticket and yet still $54 if you add it to a 10 day ticket.  The Park Hopper option can also be added at any time within your trip.  This is a good option to have if you hope to move within the parks.  I’ve used it in the past and it was great but again, not necessary for having a great trip.

4.  Do You Want the Disney Dining Plan?  Disney offers a variety of Dining Plans that you can purchase with your package.  Dining Plans are based on the length of your stay so for example if you’re arriving on a Sunday and departing on Thursday you’re staying for 4 nights so your dining plan is based on that.

Firstly there is the ‘Quick Service Dining Plan’ which gives each person in your party 2 counter service meals, 2 snack credits plus a refillable mug (to be used at your resort) for each night of your stay.   Counter service meals include non-restaurant locations in the resorts (including food courts) plus a variety of other restaurants located throughout the parks, water parks and Downtown Disney.  A list of all counter service qualifying locations can be found hereCost of the Quick Service Dining Plan is $34.99/adult and $11.99/child (age 3-9) per person, per night.

A second dining plan option is the ‘Disney Dining Plan’ which includes a table service meal, counter service meal plus 1 snack for each night of your stay.  There are more than 100 participating restaurants on Disney property that offer table service meals for you to try.  Some are buffets, others serve family style while still others are individual meals for each person.  Each table service meal includes an entree, dessert and non-alcoholic beverage.  For a list of all participating dining locations and their type of service (counter, table, etc.) please click here.

One thing to note about the table service meals is that included in the participating restaurants are those that feature character meals.  At a character meal the characters visit each table during the dining period and will sign autographs and pose for pictures.  You won’t find Mickey snacking on the cheese on your plate but you may find him dancing with your child during special times during the meal!  Personally, we love the character dining!  Next month’s trip includes reservations for breakfast with the princesses, lunch with Winnie the Pooh, supper with Mickey one night and with Cinderella in her castle another night, and others too!  We’re putting character dining to the test next month and we’re going to see if it’s possible to have too many character meals booked.  I think the answer in the end may be ‘yes’ but to fulfill everyone’s character dining wishes (and truly, our trip is for the children) we have many character dining experiences booked.  I’ll let you know how that goes and whether next time we’ll scale it back a bit and throw in a couple of ‘Yes, it is possible to eat at a restaurant without a character meals’ in the mix just to keep the adults sane!  Smile  Cost of the Deluxe Dining Plan is $45.99/adult and $11.99/child (age 3-9) per person, per night.

A third option for dining is the ‘Deluxe Dining Plan’ includes 3 meals per day per person which can be any combination of quick service locations or table service locations.  This plan also includes 2 snacks and a re-fillable mug.  There is A LOT of food on this plan but if you want to eat your way around the world then this is a really good way to do it!  Cost of the Deluxe Dining Plan is $78.99/adult and $21.99/child (age 3-9) per person, per night.

Other options are Premium Packages and Platinum Packages.  I’ll just let you click the links to find out about those.

So as you can see there are many options for dining at Disney that are available to purchase at the time you book your trip.  It is quite possible to ‘do Disney’ without a dining plan but if you’re like me and gasp and grab your wallet, holding it close each time you look at the price of food at entertainment parks, you may find it a nice treat to have all that paid for in advance and just enjoy dining during your stay without needing to pull out your wallet.  Well, unless of course you need a Mickey Mouse ice-cream bar and have spent your allotted snack credits!  Paying for additional food is always and option and in my opinion, easier if I’ve paid for the majority of it before ever stepping on Disney property!

A couple of things to note about dining before I move on:

  1. Table service meals can be booked 180 day in advance from the date of your arrival.  So if your reservation is booked for April 10, 2012 you want to count back 180 days and book your dining reservations on that day.  Trust me, many fill up very quickly and even though they seat hundreds (if not thousands) of people at each meal, sometimes reservations are hard to come by! 
  2. Reservations can be booked online at or by calling 1-407-WDW-DINE.
  3. Some dining experiences (e.g. Cinderella’s Royal Table) will be a 2 credit dining experience which means each person in your party will be deducted 2 table service credits for this dining experience.
  4. Each person in your room is required to be on the same dining plan.  If it’s Quick Service for one then it’s Quick Service for all. 
  5. Your entire party does not need to eat at the same location for each meal.  If Mom and her little princess want to dine with Belle while Dad and Jr. want to yuck it up with Stitch then you can do that.  Each party will be deducted the number of credits used for the meal they’re at.
  6. All snack, counter service and table service credits for your room will be linked to all your ‘Key to the Kingdom’ cards.  This means that if dad lines up at an ice cream stand and gets 3 popsicles, the 3 snack credits will be deducted from the entire group’s total.  It makes it much easier and you’re not always trying to figure out how many credits are left on each card.  Each card carries the group’s balance and after each transaction you will receive a printed receipt stating the number of that type of credit used and the number remaining.

Will you be using your own vehicle, renting a car or using Disney transportation?

There are pros and cons to each of these and often people end up using a combination of the above.  If you are staying at a resort, parking is included at the resort and at all of the theme parks.  You will be given a parking reservation sign to place in your window that will grant you parking privileges for the entire length of your stay.  The same is true if you rent a car.

Disney transportation begins as soon as you land at the Orlando airport.  If you choose not to rent a vehicle then you will be driven to your resort on a Disney’s Magical Express (DME) coach.  When you arrive at the airport there is no need to pick up your luggage, just proceed to the DME counter and you will be checked in there and whisked away to your resort where your luggage will be delivered to your room. 

While getting around Disney property there is a wide variety of transportation options available:  bus, boat, monorail and others.  Depending on where you are going, one or more of these options will be available to you.


I hope you’ve found the above information to be useful!  I’m working on more posts but as you can see from above it’s hard to condense all I want to say into small areas.  Upcoming posts will include such things as: Fastpasses, child swap options, PhotoPasses and more!  If you have any questions feel free to post them in the comments area or email me directly.

Have a Magical Day!!!

Previous Post:

Let’s Talk Disney-Part 1:  Where Do I Begin?

Saturday, July 23, 2011

First Movie! Winnie the Pooh!

Monday afternoon as I was sitting at work I was trying to think of something special Hannah and I could do together.  I remembered Kayce sharing about her wanting to take Cricket to see the new Disney Winnie the Pooh movie when it came out and I quickly realized that’s what we would do for our evening of fun!  A quick scan of the Internet showed we could make a supper time show if we went directly from daycare to the movie.  I called Ange to invite she and the boys to come along but they had to take a rain check this time.

I picked Hannah up and told her we were going to see a movie but that didn’t mean much to her.  She pointed to her little DVD player in the car and said, ‘OK Mommy.  Turn on movie!’  Heh…gotta love 2!

We went into the theatre and she was excited to see the lights and posters but still didn’t really understand what was going on.IMG_1108

We bought popcorn because Mommy had to teach her all about movie popcorn.  It was her first and to say it was a hit would be an understatement!

As we entered the theatre I could see a little niggling of fear in her eyes.  It was darker with tiers of seats and very few people there.  She turned to me and quickly said, ‘Uppie!’ which I happily did all the time reassuring her that this was going to be fun!  We found our seats and she was happy to hop up on Mommy’s lap and enjoy the movie from there. 

Soon the lights dimmed and the previews began.  Man, I forgot how loud movies are!  We adjusted to the volume and thankfully the previews were a wise choice for a ‘G’ rated movie and after a quick little filler movie that she giggled through it was time for the movie to begin.

Mickey filled the screen first which made her day as she called out ‘Mickey!!’  She’s a Mickey gal through and through!

The movie began and we settled in with our popcorn, sippy of apple juice and Hannah safe on Mommy’s lap.  The movie was cute with lots of music that she enjoyed dancing to and we both enjoyed it.  I can’t remember much about the movie but I can tell you how much I enjoyed watching her wide-eyed, taking in all that she could and happily bouncing to the playful tunes.  She occasionally tried the seat next to mine but was happiest on Mommy’s lap.IMG_1104

There were a couple of parts that I thought might scare her a bit (a fairly new emotion that she’s only been experiencing for a few months now) but she did great and when I saw little bits of apprehension in her eyes, a quick reassuring whisper from Mommy or a ‘Oooo, that Tigger sure looks funny!’ comment and all was right once again.

She sat fairly well throughout the movie (it’s a brief 1 hour, 10 mins) but when she did grow a little restless I was happy to let her wander our row a few seats either way as only one other family was behind us and they were about 5 rows up.  The other fun part about her being able to wander a bit was that I was able to enjoy watching the freedom she had to dance, wiggle and sway to the music.  A treat for Mom who loves nothing more than to catch a glimpse of her sweet daughter when she doesn’t know I’m watching.  Such freedom to be herself and I love it!!!

After the movie ended she quickly turned to me and shouted, ‘Again!’ which is her way of letting me know something was a huge hit and she wants to do it again…and again…..and again! Smile


There were some cute little window clings that we found on the way out of the theatre.  Hannah enjoyed having her picture taken here too and even gave Pooh a kiss goodbye but unfortunately I missed that.IMG_1110

So, our first movie experience was a great success and we’ll go to a movie again when something appropriate comes out.  Hannah kept asking for Mickey so Disney if you’re listening, we’d like a new Mickey Movie for the big screen, okay? Smile

Here’s a little video I took of Hannah asking about the movie.  It’s cute to hear her thoughts.

Our first movie was a big success!

Friday, July 22, 2011

A Moment in Time: Highchair Scaling

My dear friend Kayce has begun a series on her blog called ‘A Moment in Time’ and I love her idea!  Each week I want to capture moments that are precious, everyday things (or once in a lifetime opportunities) that capture where Hannah is at at the moment.  At the time I think I’ll remember these moments forever but I know that just isn’t the case.  So now I have a reminder to capture them and another reason to take hold of them and save them for the future.  Someday Hannah and I can look back at these moments and enjoy them together!

This week’s ‘A Moment In Time’ entry is one picture that accurately captures where Hannah’s at right now.  One of her favourite sayings is, ‘I do it all myself!’  This particular night she was ready for supper and I just wasn’t getting to the high chair fast enough so she scaled the back of it and dove in head first!  Oh how I laughed when I turned around and saw those cute little feet in the air!IMG_1051

I love the independence she is showing and yet I also love that she’s not afraid to ask for help either.  It makes for a win-win situation.  DSC_8707She tries (and often succeeds) in doing things herself and when she needs some extra help she’s not afraid to say, ‘Mommy!  Help!’  Perfect!!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Feeling Hot, Hot, Hot!!

We laugh when we think of the misconception that some people have that Canada is always cold.  Heh….not so much!  We’re in the middle of a heat wave and I’m loving it!!  I’d take heat over cold every day of the year if I could so I’m thoroughly enjoying this summer of sun and fun!  Today the highest temps are forecasted and records will probably be broken.  At 7:45 am it’s already feeling like 38oC/100oF when the humidex is added in and today’s high is anticipated to feel like 50oC/122oF!!!  Now that’s hot!

Hannah and I have been taking advantage of the hot evenings by finding ways to stay cool.  Tuesday night we hung out at a local splash pad with my SIL Trish and niece Makenna then went back to their place to enjoy homemade sundaes.IMG_1118




Whoa!  Almost tripped but caught themselves!IMG_1130

Who wants to go home for ice cream?  We do!!IMG_1131

Ice cream!!!IMG_1134


Last night’s recipe for beating this summer heat was a dip in Mom and Dad’s pool with Auntie K, Uncle J, Chick and Pea!

IMG_1163 - Copy



Tonight we’re going to a circus that is in town.  Thankfully it’s indoors!

Hope you’re finding fun ways to enjoy these wonderful warm hot summer days!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Cottage Time = Annual Making of Monkey Munch!

Each year as we prepare to go to the cottage I whip up a batch of Monkey Munch.  It’s a fun, yummy treat that is perfect for sharing with a crowd. (Recipe at bottom of post.)

Last year Hannah was a little too young to help out but we made more last October and her first Monkey Munch experience was a success!

Last Wed night she and I had fun as we whipped up a batch to take to the cottage with us on Thursday.  Too bad we forgot it in the fridge….oops!  (Ended up being just fine though as Mom had had the same idea and made some while at the cottage so there was plenty to go around.)

So, without further adieu I give you, ‘The Making of Monkey Munch!’

(Warning:  There is much tasting involved in the making of MM!  Smile)

While the warm ingredients are melting in the microwave – test the peanut butterIMG_1053

Mommy says this spoon is for stirring but I’d much rather taste the ooey, gooey chocolate topping!IMG_1054

After stirring, quality check to ensure all pieces are equally coated…by tasting them!IMG_1055

Who needs a wash cloth to clean chocolaty fingers?IMG_1056

Shaking the bag with the cereal stuff and icing sugar.  Note to self:  next time don’t use no-name bags!  This oversight caused the initial shaking to create a small blizzard in July!IMG_1058

Spread evenly on a cookie sheet for cooling.IMG_1061

Taste the final product.IMG_1063

Heh….looking back at these pics, I guess it’s a good thing this batch will be in the freezer for the two of us to enjoy.  There sure was a lot of 2yo quality testing going on!!

Monkey Munch (aka Puppy Chow)

9 cups Rice Chex or Life cereal

1 cup chocolate chips

1/2 cup peanut butter

1/4 cup butter

1 tsp. vanilla

1 1/2 cups icing sugar

  • Pour cereal into a large bowl and set aside
  • Put chocolate chips, peanut butter, butter and vanilla in a microwave safe bowl.  Microwave for 1 min.  Stir.  Continue at 30 sec intervals until all ingredients are melted
  • Pour over cereal and mix well
  • Transfer covered cereal into a large zip-lock bag
  • Add icing sugar.  Seal and shake
  • Spread on a cookie sheet and cool
  • Enjoy!!!

What? You think I ate some? Whatever gave you that idea???IMG_1057

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

A Treat Night with GG and Grandma Dale

Last week Grandma Dale called and invited Hannah and I to a quaint little coffee shop that has recently opened near our home.  We were excited to spend some time with them and quickly said, ‘Yes!’

The night of the big event arrived and we picked up GG and Grandma Dale at their home.  I didn’t realize it at the time but it hadn’t been a very good day for GG and he just wasn’t up to doing much of anything.  About 20 mins before we arrived Grandma quietly mentioned that Hannah was coming and we were going for coffee.  It was like a light went on in GG and he was up and ready to go practically before Grandma knew it!  Hannah is a light in so many lives and I love the precious relationship she shares with her great-grandparents!

While Grandma and I were in line it was wonderful to look over and capture a little bit of the fun that these 2 were sharing!IMG_1046

Little fingers tightly grasping those of her special GGIMG_1043

Mmmm…an M&M cookie!IMG_1048

Treasured moments with loved onesIMG_1049

We love you GG and Grandma Dale!  Let’s do this again!!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Princess Attire is Commonplace in the Salsa Home….and We Loved It!!!

(Hannah and I are now home but there are still some posts I wanted to share.  We had an AMAZING trip with our friends and all too quickly our time together came to an end.  So many wonderful memories and pictures that we will treasure for a long, long time!)

Hannah quickly realized that princess dresses were in abundance in the Salsa playroom and throughout the week she could be found trying on a variety of them.  There were always lots of little helping hands there to dress Her Mini Royal Highness!   Kate and Will may have been visiting Canada while we were in CA but we were amongst the most precious princesses ever!


Ro and Ree have mastered the art of wearing a tiara and know that truly no outfit is complete without one!  Hannah didn’t catch on to the tiara thing but I have a feeling it’s only a matter of time.IMG_0574

Princesses do everything in their dresses including eating




chatting with the commonersIMG_0862


and sharing a tea partyIMG_1011

Hannah and Mommy also learned the very important lesson of custom fitting a princess dress.  Who needs trips to the seamstress when chip clips will do the trick?IMG_0744

One evening M3 and I went shopping with Hannah and it was easy to see that she had found her inner princess.  What fun to take her out dressed like this!  We have a couple of princess dresses here at home so I’m hoping there are more shopping trips like this in our future!IMG_0813

M3, Tuba Dad and I were surrounded by royalty all week long….and we loved it!!

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Special Moments with Wela and BobBob

One of the special parts of being friends with someone is that you are privileged to meet their family and friends.  The first time I visited M3 and her family back in January of 2008 I met her wonderful Mom!  I still laugh when I remember that Wela questioned M3 before I arrived the first time about having someone she met on the web come and stay in their home for an entire week?  Was she sure??  Heh….3 1/2 years later and a number of visits under our belt and our friendship is better than ever!  And from that very first visit, Wela and I have been great friends too and shared some fun times together!

This visit Wela and BobBob invited us to their home once again for a yummy supper.  While Wela was finishing up supper I found Hannah and BobBob playing together and it was oh so sweet!IMG_0881

Hannah absolutely adores spending time with men who remind her of her Grandpas and it warms my heart over and over to see these men spend time with my little girl.  Being a single Mom I am very aware of how important it is for Hannah to have special men in her life and we are blessed over and over…and over again by both family members as well as friends who spend time with my sweetie.  Thank you to each of you!

After supper M3, Wela and I were enjoying a visit together while BobBob took the girls for a walk.   I still chuckle when I think of what I saw when I looked outside and saw BobBob jogging by, trying to catch up with the 3 girls on the run! SmileIMG_0883

When they came back in there was a fun picture scavenger hunt that the grandparents had put together.  Much laughter and running from room to room was done as the girls searched for each and every clue. IMG_0884

In the end there were princess treats for all!IMG_0888

Wela and BobBob, we love you!!  You raised an absolutely amazing daughter who in turn with her great hubby are raising 2 awesome daughters!  Hannah and I are blessed beyond measure to have each and every one of you in our lives and we cannot wait until the next time we are all together!IMG_0891

We love you Salsa Family!!!

Thank you for welcoming us into your home once again M3, TubaDad, Ro and Ree and for the wonderful visit!  We’re already looking forward to next time!

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