Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Disney Memory Maker (previously known as Photopass Plus) Tips

By: Shendl

When I traveled to WDW with my husband in September 2013, I debated the idea of adding what was then known as Photopass Plus. I was concerned that I would not get my money’s worth of photographs to warrant the pre- purchase price of $149. Normal price was $199.

Boy was I wrong!! It is a fantastic program and if you do the pre-purchase you can get a whopping $50 discount of the normal price of $199 which brings it to $149!

This program allows you to add all your ride photos, your character meal photos and any Official Photographer Photos that you have taken in the parks.

You can find Photopass Photographers at many places throughout the parks and all the main icons and character spots. A few Character meal restaurants also have photographers.


There is a map with a list of places where you can have your photos taken on the above official site.

1900 Park Fare – you have your picture taken in front of the Cinderella Castle Mural.

At 1900 Park Fare, we didn’t get the printed out pictures as it seemed it was an extra purchase at this restaurant.

Tusker House – you get your picture taken with Donald Duck.

At Tusker House we got the printed out pictures at no extra charge as well as the pictures loaded onto our account.

My Tips for making the most of Memory Maker Program!

If you have the time
    •    Stop at every Photographer you have time for

    •    Ask if they can do Magic Shots ie: Tink on your hand, Holding baby Simba

    •    Make sure to load all your ride photo’s onto your Card or Magic Band depending on what they ask you for
    •    If you are having a character meal and there is a photographer before you enter the restaurant, you can have these pictures added as well.
    •    The photographers will also take a picture with your camera if you request it
    •    Have fun with the pics

When you get home, you have 45 days to edit your pictures and then you can order your CD or download them. The CD is included in the price.
My Opinion is that it is definitely worth the money for trips longer than 3 days and you get your whole group in the picture!

Monday, April 28, 2014

How Often Do You Change Your Disney Vacation Plans?

by Nick

I know I'm not the only one.
I tinker and tweak my Disney Vacation right up until the day we go, and very often, during our trip.
Our upcoming trip in October 2014 may be a record breaker though.

It started off when I booked 3 nights at the Beach Club Villas (BCV) in November of 2013, for a Saturday, Sunday, and Monday night.

Why only 3 nights? Because we only have a very small 30 point Disney Vacation Club (DVC) contract there, and that is all I could book at the 11 month window.

The plan was to book 3 more nights at the 7 month window.

When that window opened up, the ONLY studio rooms available were at Saratoga Springs.
Now, I should have just booked 3 nights, and wait-listed them for the Beach Club.

But here is what happened instead.

I decided, spur of the moment, that we really needed to take a Disney Cruise!

A couple of things played into this somewhat hasty decision.

One, we had booked another DCL Cruise while on our Alaskan Cruise in 2012, but had to move it back as something had come up, so had a 10% discount and $100 credit to use.

Two, we had JUST gotten back from a Royal Caribbean cruise that my Father-in-Law had given us as gift, and I had cruise fever!

  The Disney Dream in Nassau. 

So here is what I did.

While speaking to Guest Services, I went online and saw that there was a 4 night cruise on the Dream leaving on a Sunday.
I told Guest Services I'd call back, and got on the phone with Disney Cruise Line (DCL), and booked the cruise! I then called DVC back, and cancelled 2 nights at the BCV.

When I told my wife Barbie what I'd done, her first response was "Awesome!" And then she asked "Didn't you book Beach Club because it's during the Food and Wine Festival, and you wanted to be close to Epcot?"

Oh my.

Yes, that is exactly what I'd done.

So, while I was excited about the cruise, I now had a bit of remorse that we'd only have one evening to enjoy Epcot's International Food and Wine Festival!

This remorse sort of stayed with me for a few days. 

So, a week later, I called DVC, and booked one night at the end of our cruise at Old Key West, which was the only thing available besides Saratoga Springs.
I'd have booked more, but we have a pet/house sitter, and we need to work around their schedule, so we only have Saturday-Friday to work with.

We really like OKW, but, again, Food and Wine is going on during that time, so I wait-listed Boardwalk and Beach Club.

A couple of days ago I got a letter in the mail (yes, snail mail, not email!) that we were booked for one night at the Boardwalk Villas! Our wait-list had come through very quickly indeed!

Every change that has been made has had me on the phone with DVC and DCL, and online with Southwest Airlines, changing flights, transfers, and Magical Express.
But I love it!

The plan as it is now.

Saturday: Fly in to Orlando in the afternoon. Check into the BCV. Walk around Epcot's World Showcase and eat and drink! Maybe spend a bit of time at the pool in the evening.

Sunday: Not sure what time the DCL bus picks us up. If we have time, we'll go to the Magic Kingdom. If not, we'll have an early breakfast at Cape May Cafe.

Monday-Thursday: On the Dream. Transfer from Cape Canaveral to BWV. Thursday evening at Epcot, hitting booths we missed. Depending on where our room is, we'll either stay at Epcot for Illuminations, or watch it from our room.

Friday: Magic Kingdom. Late flight home

How often do you change your schedule while planning a Disney Vacation?

Sunday, April 27, 2014

E.P.C.O.T. - Who Knows What It Means?

By Beth Skarp

Growing up, I learned that EPCOT was Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow.
Since then, many new meanings from the acronym EPCOT have come about.

The most notable ones are Every Person Comes Out Tired or Every Paycheck Comes on Thursday.
In our house, we have our own meaning for EPCOT—Every Person Concentrated on Tasting.

World Showcase is a literal culinary walk around the world, and not just during the Food & Wine Festival either.

There are so many new taste treats for the our family to sample. Just when we “think” we have tasted or experienced everything there is, we find new things to tantalize our taste buds.

Have you tried the Nudel Gratin at Somerfest in Germany? My husband, who comes from a family of Germanic heritage, claims this is very close to what he experienced at his grandparent's home. The nutty cheese flavors are oh soooo good.

Morrocco has a wonderful new table service restaurant called Spice Road Table, truly a must do if you like Mediterranean foods.

Their Tingis Sampler with Lamb Sliver, Harissa Chicken Roll and Merguez Sausage are not only filling for a quick lunch, but an explosion of flavors in your mouth.

Add some of their mint tea, different from what most Americans are used to, and you have a wonderful lunch. Other favorites are Mussels Tagine with Cilantro, garlic, lemon confit in tomato sauce or their Rice Stuffed Grape Leaves with fried capers, raisins and fresh nutmeg.
Not sure you want to try “weird” food, how about some ice cream.
The Spice Road Juice Bar offers up some wonderful chef made handcrafted ice cream choices that are not your typical flavors.

Speaking of ice cream, have you tried the Brioche ice cream sandwich or the L-Artisian des Glaces Sorbet from France. One word....YUMMY!! There are always new experiences for our taste buds each time we go to EPCOT—and we go often.

Want to learn more about what new adventures are out there for you explore? A.J. Wolfe does a wonderful job of keeping our family informed with The Disney Food Blog. Check her out at http://www.disneyfoodblog.com or follow her on Facebook.

Remember—EPCOT means something to everyone. For us, Every Person Concentrated on Tasting. Bon Appetite.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

The Torii Gate in the Japan Pavilion, Epcot

By Barbie

This is called the Torii Gate, at the Japanese Pavilion in Epcot. It overlooks Spaceship Earth and is a prime photography spot for everyone who passes by. I know that we have helped many people set up their perfect family shot, making sure that everyone was included in the picture.

The area surrounding the Gate is lovely, with a koi pond, pools and lush plantings.

Just recently, the Torii Gate was painted, and it just doesn't seem to be the tranquil place of antiquity that it used to be. Wow who picked out that color! I hope it fades soon!

Friday, April 25, 2014

Disney Vacation Club for Non-DVC members

By: Josh Soifer

It’s been a few years since my wife and I have been to Disney World and decided it was time to plan our next trip.  Last time we were there went we were joined by our friends Nick and Barbie (who I am sure you know by now if you are reading this). We shared one of the Cabins at Fort Wilderness and had a fabulous trip. When we heard that they were going in December 2014, we decided to all go together.

                                    Left to right: Josh, Jill, Barbie and Nick

This time Nick and Barbie planned on using their DVC points to stay at the Villas at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge. We decided to join them there to keep the group together. A quick search for a non-DVC room yielded a total of $2400 ($350/night) for a Woods View Room. There was a slightly cheaper room overlooking the roof/parking/service areas that I did not choose. This was higher than I was hoping to spend on my room and could find no discounts at the time. (I am sure I could find something if I was willing to wait, but Nick was booking the trip 11 months ahead as DVC Villas at the Wilderness Lodge fill up quickly.)

Nick suggested that I look into renting DVC points. Once again the search began. After a little research I found that I would need 91 points to get the time I wanted. I joined message boards and stalked them hourly. Each established forum has a section on selling/renting/trading points. It is both an exciting and dejecting experience. I saw points as low as $8, but not for my resort. I saw points for $11 but not enough to meet my needs. I saw points for $10, but they required me to buy the full amount of 126, which was more than I needed. I saw my room cost fluctuate from $2400 to $750. If only I could make the right connection. I sent emails and personal messages and waited for responses that never came. I was on Big Thunder Mountain and was not enjoying it like I usually do.

Enter David’s Vacation Club Rentals. David’s business is to find DVC members who have extra points going to waste and match them with people like me. Although the site is not the easiest to navigate, he provides everything you need to know about the process. At the time of my booking points were $14. After much deliberation my search came to an end. I put aside the possibility of a cheap $750 stay at Wilderness Lodge and “settled” for a $1300 stay ($1000 less than rack rates).
The process was pretty simple. On David’s site you verify the number of points you need, put in your dates and make a $100 deposit. David’s team then goes to work. DVC members can book their home resort 11 months in advance (7 months for resorts not your home resort). I put my request and paid my deposit 11 months in advance of my trip on Jan 4th. David’s team responded on Jan. 6th with a match and confirmation number. I paid for the remainder of the trip through paypal. On Jan. 7th I received a rental agreement email which I had to read and respond to (replying to this was a signature of sorts).  After this I received an email with details on Magical Express and Dining Plan booking details. In total, it was 4 days, 5 emails, and $1300 to book my room for 6 nights at the Villas at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge.

Not long after I received my Welcome brochure from Disney with my reservation details.  Our names were on the brochure.  The trick here is that the unknown DVC member books the trip for you and you are essentially their guest.  I was relieved to see that at this point and going forward everything is in my name. I signed up to plan our trip online. I ordered our Magic Bands. To my knowledge I will have no need to connect again with David’s DVC Rentals or the anonymous DVC member whose points I am using.

A few extra details:
    •    If you decide to rent points from a DVC member from a message board there are risks involved.  Do your research and get references.
    •    David’s DVC is more expensive, but he assumes a lot of the risk. 
    •    I have only booked my trip. My David’s Vacation Club Rentals experience will only be complete when I check out with no issues. I will post again in December 2014 when the trip is complete.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

500 Disney Stores Button and 500 Disney Musings Posts!

According to Wikipedia, the 1st Disney Store opened in Glendale, California, on March 28th, 1987.

According to this button, from my Jar of Buttons, the 500th Store opened on July 5th 1996, and according to Google, that store was in Phoenix, Arizona.

Of course, there has been a lot of changes since then, including not actually being owned by Disney for a time. They are now once again owned by The Walt Disney Company.

I share this button today because this is Disney Musings 500th post!

I want to thank all of my Disney loving friends that have contributed articles, and all our loyal readers for checking in with us.

I also want to thank all the people who have Disney pages and groups on Facebook, fellow bloggers who host Blog Hops, and the other blogs I share articles with, that allow me the opportunity to share our posts to a wider audience!

If I make just one person happy a day with this blog, then it's worth it!

500 Posts & Climbing!

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Friends in Warm Places

by Gaylin

Since most of my vacations involve a Disney theme park, I have never been to Hawaii. Luckily for me, I have friends who went this winter. While they couldn't afford to stay at Aulani, they did go there to visit the resort and enjoy lunch and an afternoon surrounded by all things Disney.

Also lucky for me, they brought back presents! If I never go to see Aulani, I have a bit of Hawaii on my pin blanket.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Walt Disney: One Man's Dream

One Man's Dream is an attraction at Disney's Hollywood Studios. I think it is an under appreciated  tribute to Walt that many people neglect as they go running by to get Toy Story Midway Mania.

This is a history of Walt, with artifacts and displays which take you through the years. There are more photos here.

Walt's elementary school desk, which he carved his initials on! A reproduction of Walt's office. Where some of the magic happened.

 There are beautiful scale models here.

Great examples of Disneyana can be found throughout.

At the end of this exhibit is a lovely film. Be prepared to shed a few tears.