Month: January 2015

What Exactly is MyMagic+?

MM+ copy

If you are planning a Walt Disney World getaway, then you need to familiarize yourself with MyMagic+. Disney has definitely changed the way people plan for their vacations as they have unleashed a bunch of tools to help people completely customize and pre-plan portions of their vacations.  These planning tools are bundled together and collectively known as MyMagic+. If you have never used the MyMagic+ components, it can be a bit overwhelming. No worries, though, The Magical Escape is here to help you navigate and get you on your way to planning your Walt Disney World Vacation!

MyMagic+ includes the following components:

  • My Disney Experience Website & App – This is the main “hub” of your MyMagic+ tools. It is where you will link your hotel and dining reservations as well as your park tickets. By linking reservations and tickets, they will show up in your itinerary and give you access to the features of MyMagic+. You will also use My Disney Experience to customize your MagicBands, make your FastPass+ reservations, check wait times (app only), link family/friends traveling with you, and add must do’s to your wishlist. After your vacation, you will use it to view and download/purchase your PhotoPass/Memory Maker photos.
    • A note about linking reservations and park tickets: If you already have My Disney Experience and booked a package/hotel or purchased park tickets online through www.disneyworld.com, your reservations will most likely automatically show up in your account. If you booked/purchased any of these over the phone, through a travel agency or purchased tickets elsewhere, you will most likely need to manually add these to your account. There are screenshots below to help you!
  • MagicBands – These nifty little RFID wristbands act as your park ticket, access your FP+ reservations, dining plan credits, and unlock your Disney hotel room. Also, they can act as your PhotoPass card and can even pay for on-site purchases. You may also use the RFID ticket card for all these features if you do not wish to use the MagicBand.
  • FastPass+ – You can skip the long lines for the best attractions using FP+. The system allows you to make 3 per day in advance of your check in date. If you are staying on-site with valid admission, you can make your reservations 60 days in advance. Those with valid admission, but staying offsite can make reservations 30 days in advance. If you plan to buy tickets the day you arrive, you will be able to visit the FP+ kiosks in the parks to make your reservations, but note that availability will be more limited.

Don’t worry, I will go into MUCH more detail for each of the MyMagic+ components!

SO you just booked a trip! What next?!

my-disney-experience

If you haven’t signed up for My Disney Experience on www.disneyworld.com, do that now. You will not have access to any of the MyMagic+ features without it! It is completely free to sign up. If you have already have a log-in, sign in!

(Click any of the screenshots to make them larger)

01-MDE-Tutorial

02-MDE-Tutorial

You will notice that My Disney Experience is broken down into three sections:

  • Plan & Manage
  • My Account
  • Photography

Plan and Manage 

My Account

Photography

Hopefully you now know a little more about MyMagic+ and My Disney Experience. Stay tuned in the coming days for more information regarding FastPass+ and MagicBands!

Please like & share:

#Factoid Friday

 DSC_2798Did you know that there are no employees working at Disney Parks? None. Rather, those who work for the company are affectionately known as Cast Members. It doesn’t matter if one is part of the janitorial staff or the VP of Park Operations, he/she will always be referred to as a Cast Member. All aspects of the Disney Parks are part of the “show” and Cast Members are who put on/run that show.DSC_2423

In fact, if a Cast Member is working or can be seen by the “audience” (aka: guests), they are said to be “on-stage.” Once the Cast Member is no longer visible to the “audience,” then they are considered to be “off-stage” or “backstage”.

Cast Members can really make a Walt Disney World trip memorable, and we have had so many wonderful, magical experiences thanks to amazing and dedicated Cast Members.

DSC_2764DSC_2763

Please like & share:

Polynesian Villas & Bungalows

IMG_1446Current Disney Vacation Club (DVC) members can now purchase points at the newest DVC resort located within the Polynesian Village Resort. Sales for current members opened up on Monday, January 12. Sales for the general public will open on February 9.

Unique to the newest member of the DVC family will be the highly anticipated 2 bedroom Bora Bora Bungalows. The Bungalows sit on Seven Seas Lagoon, offer Magic Kingdom park views and individual plunge pools. They will sleep 8 guests and include the same amenities as some of the other DVC 2 bedroom accommodations including a full kitchen, two bathrooms & washer/dryer.

While there will be only 20 bungalows available, Disney is in the process of converting some existing Polynesian Longhouses into connecting studios. The resort will not have the one-bedroom option that is common among the other DVC resorts. In total, there will 360 studios which will feature split bathrooms with showers in each. Each studio will be able to accommodate 5 guests and are said to be the largest studios in the Disney Vacation Club Resort collection.

For a tour though one of the model studios for the Polynesian Villas & Bungalows, check out this video from Inside the Magic.

There was speculation that the Bungalows would be quite exclusive and this is evident when taking into consideration that there are only 20 available and also when looking at the DVC point charts. One week in a Bungalow will run members between 841 – 1,439 points depending on the time of the year. Per night, that comes to 115-227 points. To compare, a member can stay in a two bedroom villa at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge for 185-575 points per week.

Point-wise, the studios at the Polynesian Villas & Bungalows are much more in range with the other monorail DVC resorts (Bay Lake Tower at the Contemporary Resort and The Villas at the Grand Floridian Resort & Spa) and range from 118-269 points per week depending on travel dates and view. See the 2015 Polynesian Villas & Bungalows Point Charts for more information.

We have always dreamed of staying at the Polynesian, in fact it is the only monorail resort we have never stayed at, so I am excited that as a DVC member, we will now have the opportunity to stay there on our points.  I don’t know that we will ever be able to have enough points to stay in one of the coveted Bungalows, but I know just staying at the Polynesian will be good enough for us!

IMG_1447

 

 

Please like & share:

Farewell to the Hat at Disney’s Hollywood Studios


DSC_1831 Whether you love it or hate it, the Disney’s Hollywood Studios hat, which has been the park’s icon since September 28, 2001, is on its way out today. The news of the hat being removed has been around for quite a while now and Disney had been hinting at its removal by making the Earful Tower the park icon on new park merchandise.Today, they make it official as construction walls are now surrounding the giant blue hat.

Personally, I didn’t mind the hat as the park icon and never felt it was too out of place. I did visit the park twice when I was younger when there was no giant hat and the Chinese Theater was front and center. I have to say, though, most of my MGM/Disney’s Hollywood Studios memories come from having that hat as the park icon and I will definitely miss it as a backdrop for so many of our Disney pictures!

Image0185 Image024 wd034wdw201415181054306 wd014wdw201415582304478 STUDIO_HBTAILOR_7113427574

On our recent trip in early December, we knew the hat was on its way out in early 2015, so I made sure to give it a proper goodbye:

DSC_1839
Although the hat will soon be a piece of Disney history, I am excited as to what new things the Studios has in store. Star Wars? Pixar Expansion? Carsland? Something else? Only time will tell, but I sense big things are coming and the removal of the hat is all in preparation for whatever the future holds.

Please like & share:

Staying On Property at a Walt Disney World Resort Hotel

DSCN9621

“My family is going to Walt Disney World, should we stay on property?”  

“Are there any benefits if I choose to stay onsite?”

“If I stay offsite, will I still have a magical time?”

These are some of the most common questions I come across when people are in the beginning stages of planning their Walt Disney World vacation and deciding ultimately where to stay. I have experienced both types of vacations myself, and I cannot stress enough the benefits of staying on Disney property.

Benefits of Staying at Walt Disney World Resort Hotel

  • Make FastPass+ (FP+) Reservations 60 Days in Advance  — The benefits begin even before you leave for your vacation. By staying onsite, you are allowed to make FastPass+ reservations for the most popular attractions and entertainment up to 60 days in advance for the length of your stay (provided you have tickets linked to your My Disney Experience account).
  • Free MagicBands — As a resort guest, you will also be sent MagicBands for your family that can be customized by color using My Disney Experience. (MagicBands are RFID enabled wristbands that act as your room key, theme park tickets, FP+ reservation access, can have charging privileges and more! I will do a post explaining MyMagic+ which includes MagicBands, My Disney Experience and FP+ soon!)
  • Extra Magic Hours — Most days, a different theme park will open either 1 hour early or stay open 2 hours later than the normal posted hours. These “Extra Magic Hours” are for resort guests only so they can take advantage of many attractions with shorter wait times. You would be very surprised what you can accomplish in 1-2 hours!
  • Disney Transportation plus Free Parking — The Walt Disney World Resort has a boatload (pun intended) of transportation options. The monorail, ferry/boat launches and bus system make it easy to get around the World even if you don’t have a car! No worries if you do decide to have a car on property because parking is free at all theme parks and resorts because you stay on property!
  • Disney’s Magical Express — If you are traveling by air into Orlando International Airport, you may take advantage of Disney’s Magical Express, a motor coach that will take you and your luggage directly to your resort hotel and return you and all your precious belongings to the airport on your check out day. All arrangements must be made through Disney in advance and information and luggage tags are sent to you prior to departure.
  • Package Shipping — There is nothing worse than having to carry heavy bags of souvenirs around all day long. If you stay on property, you can have your purchases shipped to your resort hotel’s gift shop for free to be picked up by you in the next day or two. Note that there are limits to this service dependent on your check out day to ensure enough time is allotted to get the package to your resort before you leave, but even then you can have the package shipped to a location near the theme park entrance to be picked up before you leave (the “Ship to the Front” option is available to all guests staying either on or off site).
  • Disney Dining Plan option — Resort guests have the option of adding a dining plan to their vacation package. There are different plan options all of which allow you to prepay for your meals/snacks so you do not need to worry about having enough cash to cover your dining expenses. At different times during the year, Disney also sometimes offers a free dining plan to be added to new/existing vacation packages. Disney Dining Plans can only be used by those staying onsite.
  • More Flexibility for Midday Breaks — Since the transportation options make it easy to get around, you can take an advantage of a midday break should you choose. Head back to your resort hotel for a dip in the pool or put the little ones down for a nap and take one yourself. Midday breaks can give you a real energy boost, especially after multiple park days and you can feel rejuvenated for an evening of fun in the parks and you can rest assured that you will be there in no time!
  • Different Themes and Experiences — One of my favorite things about staying on property is that each hotel is so unique and different. They all offer a different experience/theme. For example, you can feel like you are on an African adventure, escaping to a Caribbean paradise or entering your favorite Disney movie.
  • Hotel Lobby Concierge — These cast members are available to help you with any last minute planning and questions about the Walt Disney World Resort you may have. They are a great resource which you can only find if you stay onsite!
  • Always Immersed in the Magic — There is something special about staying on Disney property for the duration of your vacation. From the moment you arrive, you are swept away to a whole new world, escaping reality. You are greeted by friendly, smiling faces at every turn and can truly feel like a child again.

If you are on the fence about where to stay and you have the opportunity to stay onsite, please do it! We have done both offsite and onsite vacations, and we always joke that we will never go back to staying off property, in fact, we joined the Disney Vacation Club to make sure that happens!

This is not to say, however, that if you stay off property you will not have a great time, it is just a different experience and may take a little more creative planning. One day, I will do a post about our off property experiences.

Thanks for reading!

Please like & share: