Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party - a budget solution for short trip?

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

I spent the holiday season of 1998 practically chained to a popcorn cart in the hub at the Magic Kingdom as I completed my College Program. Somehow this hearty New Englander had gone soft subjected to a hot Florida fall. I recall shivering while wearing a heavy winter coat standing beside my nut wagon in Fantasyland through much of December. Despite how odd it felt to hear holiday music with palm trees, it was such a unique experience to be in Florida at Walt Disney World on Christmas. It was special.

It still is.



Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party is offered during the holiday season beginning just after the Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party season and well before Thanksgiving, lasting through the Christmas holiday. Those guests visiting during the actual holiday week gain access to party events like parades and fireworks without needing to attend a party, though they will experience the heaviest crowds of the entire year. Tough trade off.

There are twenty opportunities to enjoy Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party (MVMCP) in 2015.

Dates are as follows (advance adult ticket pricing/child pricing PLUS TAX):

November 8 ($74/$69)
November 10 ($74/$69)
November 12 ($74/$69)
November 13 ($74/$69)
November 15 ($74/$69)
November 17 ($74/$69)
November 19 ($74/$69)
November 20 ($79/$74)
November 29 - ($79/$74)

December 1 ($74/$69))
December 3 ($74/$69))
December 4 ($79/$74)
December 6 ($74/$69))
December 8 ($74/$69))
December 10 ($74/$69))
December 11 ($79/$74)
December 13 ($74/$69))
December 15 ($74/$69))
December 17 ($79/$74)
December 18 ($82/$77)

Some of these parties will sell out in advance of the party date, but bear in mind that the tickets are non-refundable and non-transferable. So be absolutely sure of your plans before you purchase your event tickets.

How do these parties work?

You purchase a separate ticket to attend these parties, which typically begin (officially) at 7PM and end at 12AM. You can gain entry to the park with your party ticket prior to the official start (usually 2 or 3 hours). Be forewarned that the crush of the day crowd and the party crowd together in the park can feel incredibly busy. Rest assured though that the park will definitely feel much less crowded once 7PM hits and the day crowds are politely shown to the exits and the special events of the evening begin.


What is so merry about MVMCP?

Snow falls on Main Street as a holiday parade with our favorite characters (and some friends like gingerbread men and toy solderiers) makes it's way TWICE down the street. Dreamlights make Cinderella's castle sparkle in the most spectacular way. Cocoa and cookies are complimentary. You can find special live entertainment and meet rare characters like all seven dwarves. Holiday Wishes lights the sky and did I mention the SHORT lines for attractions?  Oh, and who can forget the big guy himself from the North Pole as the parade grand finale??

It is special and lovely and can be chilly (we were very, very cold), but it can ALSO be a budget choice for short trip. That's right, a money saver!

Utilizing the party to save a little green

For our trip, we were less focused on parks and more focused on holiday. We knew we wanted to dedicate an entire day to EPCOT (mostly in Germany, of course) and it just doesn't feel right to go to Walt Disney World without a trip to the Magic Kingdom. With just a long weekend, the park tickets were a large part of our budget. We had fancy meals to enjoy, tea to drink, and SHOPPING missions to complete.

Cost for two adults to spend a day at EPCOT and a day at Magic Kingdom: $408.96
Cost for two adults to spend a day at EPCOT and a night at the MVMCP: $364.24

Though I would not recommend a first time visitor utilize this strategy, for a veteran looking to hit their favorites, have shorter than typical waits, and experience a lot of holiday magic, well, this could be a great solution to skim a bit off your budget.

It definitely met our needs for our trip!

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Meet Kerry...

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Meet my wonderful, adventurous, talented sister-in-law, Kerry. She indulged me in accompanying me on a holiday themed long weekend at Walt Disney World in December 2014. She completed my post-trip survey and I have been saving it to include in this holiday series about our fun, but quite grown up weekend together.



If we could spend just one day at Disney, we would spend it at....
 
Epcot
 
Our family's favorite dining experience was....
 
It’s a tie, between:
 EPCOT's United Kingdom Pavilion,
Rose & Crown
– and –
Disney's Grand Floridian Resort and Spa,
Garden View Tea Room
 
The thing that surprised us the most was...
 
How well the Fast Passes worked, and how chilly it was in Orlando in early December. 
 
The attraction I would most recommend other families Fast Pass is...
 
EPCOT's Soarin’
 
The best advice I could give other families is...
 
Plan Fast Passes and make meal reservations as far ahead as possible.
 
The most magical moment on our trip was....
 
The holiday décor! We visited DisneyWorld in early December and the Christmas trees, wreaths, and garlands – plus whimsical items, like life-sized gingerbread houses and twinkling lights (everywhere!) – were truly magical.

Also – there were special events at every park, like carol sing-alongs, tree and castle lightings, fireworks, champagne dessert parties, and more. (You have to book those far in advance, at extra cost, but it was so worth it!)

Christmastime is a particularly magical season during which to visit the Mouse!

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Christmas in July!?!

Sunday, July 12, 2015

I know. You are deep into summer; breezing through paperback beach reads, enjoying the outdoors, reveling in evening s'mores, and enjoying the ease that comes with fine weather and bbq. This is probably NOT a time of year when you want to think about the holidays, but you might want to reconsider that.

This time last summer, my sister in law and I began putting together preliminary plans for our Hop and Shop Holiday Spectacular for December 2014. It was a long weekend, packed with shopping, eating, holiday festivities and adult fun.

She was game, but I would say a bit reluctant to admit that she was going as a grown up to Walt Disney World without a single one of her nieces and nephews in tow. I promised it would be fun, she took my word, and on the other side of the trip she understood. Walt Disney World can be even more fun to experience as a grown up WITHOUT the kids. It's true!! Over the next couple weeks, I will be sharing more about our trip; the details, the food, the drinks, and the SPA. Yes, the spa.

What a fun little getaway this would be for a couple or a group of old friends! You'll come home refreshed, "hollyfied," and ready to welcome in the season with gusto.

Some highlights to get this started? Sure!

We took in the drool worthy décor everywhere we went! Each resort has their own themed tree. This one at the Grand Floridian with the lifesize gingerbread house beyond it over there to the left rear of the lobby is perhaps one of the most popular.


I lean Wilderness Lodge myself, but you could spend a great deal of time "resort hopping" to check out the beautiful details of each unique tree. Which one will be YOUR favorite??


My sister-in-law has an affinity for London. I knew we would appreciate a lingering afternoon tea on our arrival day before we hit the holiday party at the Magic Kingdom. We drank tea and had the most filling "meal" of entire trip at the Garden View Tea Room. It would a perfect pick for tea lovers, a mother and daughter, or friends.

 
 
We searched for the most untraditional and beautiful Mickey ornaments in EPCOT's World Showcase. You could decorate an entire tree with just the ornaments showcased in Germany.


Speaking of Germany, we were enamored with GERMANY, GERMANY, GERMANY! (even though we sat to enjoy this Schofferhoffer in Italy). Look two grown ups at Walt Disney World with no break in sight!


We didn't have to overschedule ourselves at fancy sit down meals to enjoy good food. We tried the Vegetarian Platter at Tangerine Café and declared it delish, Aladdin would most definitely approve!


Beach Club was ideally located for our one all day park day at EPCOT. That's right. We only spent one entire day at the parks! We did an evening at the Magic Kingdom for the holiday party (must do and a money saver tip!) and the rest of the time shopping, pampering ourselves at the spa, and relaxing. Our room was just a five minute walk from the International Gateway which made it super easy in the morning and spectacular at the end of the day when we were tired (and cold!). I cannot wait to try this resort with my kids in warmer weather so they can enjoy the fun at Stormalong Bay!



 
I think of our little curb here in Italy often where we escaped for moment to peacefully enjoy our cocktail off our feet taking in the sights and people around us. What is YOUR favorite tucked away spot in World Showcase?
 


Thinking you could use a quick holiday getaway this year? I cannot more highly recommend booking a long weekend Walt Disney World adventure of your own adult design! I'm not shy about sharing that I would like to head back myself this season! Worried about planning an itinerary to ensure you don't "mistletoe" a thing? Lucky for you, I'm sort of an expert on these things.

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Meet Colleen

Thursday, February 26, 2015

 

Colleen recently traveled to Walt Disney World with her husband, son (3), daughter (2), and her wonderful in laws! They stayed off site, purchased Magic Bands and linked their tickets and FastPass+ reservations. She reported back that the bands made the process seamless for her family.

She was gracious enough to share this adorable photo of her son and daughter with their favorite Space Ranger. Colleen also responded to my hot off the press "Welcome Home Survey," results BELOW.

___________________________________________________________________________________

If we could spend just one day at Disney, we would spend it at....

Hollywood Studios
___________________________________________________________________________________

Our family's favorite dining experience was....

Ohana!! Breakfast with Lilo, Stitch, Mickey and Pluto! As soon as we got there the dancing started and the food arrived! The food (Mickey waffles and juice specifically) was amazing!! The characters were hilarious and spent plenty of time with us. A little disappointed that the Photo Pass people were only with stitch, so have your own camera ready for the rest of the gang!
___________________________________________________________________________________

The thing that surprised us the most was...

how quickly the time passed!! From one fast pass to another and soon the day was half over. It's hard to be aware of the time while also enjoying yourself -- so remember that a fast pass can always be changed but seeing your kids smile and hug chip n dale just because they were there - that's the magic. Well that and the fact that Aladdin and Jasmine rode the magic carpets with us ... I mean that was unbelievable!!


___________________________________________________________________________________

The attraction I would most recommend other families Fast Pass is...

toy story midway mania
___________________________________________________________________________________

The best advice I could give other families is...

really think about your kids and their typical demeanor. I forgot my son likes to know ʺthe planʺ and although I kept telling him about Disney I really didn't tell him what to expect!! That there would be lines and patience and toys (and you don't get them all!) and fun and excitement. If you think your kids need real naps - take them! We did every day. I have picky eaters, you'd think most kids would eat Mickey pretzels and French fries but mine prefer their typical stuff - so we packed it all!
___________________________________________________________________________________

The most magical moment on our trip was....

Having Aladdin and Jasmine ride with us -- I mean really it doesn't get better!!! It was seriously magical and although my daughter is too young to really remember I will cherish the photos and tell her the story on repeat!!
___________________________________________________________________________________

Thank you for sharing your advice and memories Colleen!

Do you have advice or magic to share from your recent trip to "The World?" Email Kerri at kerrim@magicalworldvacations.com for the survey link and more information.

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Grand Floridian - Garden View Tea Room

Saturday, December 20, 2014

What were two ladies to do? The Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party didn’t “technically” begin until 7PM and we wanted to do our best to avoid the crowd overlap (day guests and party crowd) as much as possible. We needed a big meal, not in size, but in wow factor to set the tone for this holiday getaway.

Enter, Garden View Tea Room at the Grand Floridian Resort and Spa.

Firstly, we loved Basin (specifically, our hearts swooned for the grapefruit salt scrub). The grandeur of this lobby will stop you in your hurried tracks on a normal day, but with the holiday in full effect, well, we stopped to snap photos of the main attraction from every angle. That tree with all her glorious Victorian themed goodness that my mother in law would simply love, save for the abundance of subtle bird theme throughout, literally took our breath away. The Grand Floridian’s tree was certainly grand in all ways.
 


 
The smell of the perfect in every way Gingerbread House hits you the moment you walk in. Turns out Kerry isn't too keen on that syrupy smell, but how can you not be completely taken by this little house. It's not so little, we joked our two year old niece could live inside quite comfortably. There was a line around the house to purchase holiday treats being sold out a window.
 

We checked in about 10 minutes early for our 4:05 ADR at the Garden View Tea Room and were told they were running a bit behind and would seat us as soon as possible. We were encouraged to enjoy the lobby while we waited. We took photos in front of the gingerbread house like Hansel and Gretel out for a stroll, hungry for just one bite. We were so smitten with the Grand that we had figuratively forgotten about that trail of tea scones until our bellies started to rumble. We waited a bit before planting ourselves beside the podium watching the guests inside lingering a bit too long over their tea, taking photos, soaking in the atmosphere. Who could blame them! The Grand Floridian Society Orchestra filed into place on the second level and this was the moment I had been envisioning; this grand setting, the festive near electric atmosphere off the lobby, the faint smell of gingerbread and that orchestra playing. It was perfection, except for one thing, we weren’t sitting yet and it was getting on towards 4:20.
In my head a big red “x” formed marking this waiting time as the first strike, until we were ushered into big comfy chairs at a table for four and our knowledgeable server knocked our socks off (if we had been wearing socks). Riley sized us up quickly. She knew we had been waiting, she sensed the need for bubbly, and she helped to personalize our Princess Kate Tea more to our taste so fast our head was spinning and it wasn’t from the champagne. We switched out the first course to sandwiches and chose a truly special Chai tea and the Eros for a seasonal citrus vanilla taste.



The sandwiches were yummy, though we felt somewhat lackluster. The standout for me was the curry chicken of the three choices (cucumber and egg salad). Any meh feeling completely went up in smoke when the cheese course arrived. Comprised of poached pears, walnuts, locally sourced honey with comb, cheddar biscuits, raisins on the vine, fig cake and three cheese choices; a stilton, a brie with mushroom  and a three cheddar wedge, this plate made us swoon and honest to goodness filled us to overflowing. Imagine our horrification when Riley informed us that, “ladies, you still have two course to go.” How could that possibly be?
 
We moved the plates the table beside us and made room for a strawberry tart and gingerbread scone with butter, strawberry jam, and apple butter. I adore gingerbread, but my sister in law is less keen because it borders on too sweet for her. The double strawberry on the plate seemed a bit too much strawberry, but the scone was perfect and warm and absorbed the apple butter with gusto. We were plain overstuffed and each had a bite for taste and moved it alongside the cheese plate to clear room on the table to bring the final course.

There were choices for dessert and we chose pastries; a chocolate éclair, a lemon custard swan, and a white chocolate covered strawberry that was so divinely juicy and candy covered that we both forced ourselves to finish it.
 
We were quite pleased with our Garden View Tea Room experience. We felt thoroughly spoiled, full, and this certainly seemed more like an experience rather than a meal. Kerry has an affinity for all things London and lived there for a bit in college. She deemed this tea the "best tea" she has ever had! I'd say that is reason enough to encourage you to make some time for this in your next itinerary. This is not to be squeezed in, leave time to enjoy and digest, we both feel quite confident that you will not be disappointed.

We departed the Grand Floridian just before 6PM to head to the Christmas Party via monorail. We might as well have rolled each other out the door we were so full. From tea. We imagined telling my husband we were too full to finish our tea In reality when I was sharing this story with him, he did not believe me. Full from TEA!

Monorail to Magic Kingdom!


MICKEY'S INSIDE SCOOP
*Avoid the crowd overlap as much as possible IF YOU DO NOT HAVE A DAY TICKET. As tempting as it sounds to gain entrance to the park earlier than 7pm, without a day ticket and later in the day fast passes pre-arranged, the park can feel VERY busy and you could be looking at some long lines, not a lot of walking space, and some waiting around to do until the day guests file out.

*Photo Pass Photographers were available in the Grand Floridian Lobby!

*Listen to Riley, that Chai with the addition of just a tiny bit of cream (NOT MILK) will change your life. In fact, ASK for RILEY. She was incredible in all ways.

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Truly genuine

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Without fail, days before an event or a trip, Steve will pepper me with questions. Days before our wedding he asked for a complete run down of what the flowers  would look like, what colors, where would they be? 


I know. 

It was not surprising at all when last night he posed this one, "so I saw your itinerary and you guys are only going to one park???" 

Yes, we have one true park day on this two days and three nights adventure. It's full of extras and add ons that most people might overlook or skip completely on their visits because of one singular thing; they are too busy at the parks to pay attention. 

I gave him my best defense, we don't need a park, we have the spa! I detailed all the gingerbread, the treats, the snow on Main Street. I went so far as to show him the castle lit up in dream lights and said, "I can't wait to show this to Kerry!" 

My travel partner and I had a quick "wardrobe and expectations" call earlier this week. She is an immensely talented writer and I am hoping she might loan me her skills for a short piece on something about this experience. She asked me what I would like her to be tuned into, watching for, seeking out. I had no answer because I just don't want to ruin it for her. I want her true and genuine reaction to everything. People who love Disney say they cannot wait to bring their kids! I love bringing my kids and this weekend, my sister in law will be soaking in this experience much like a kid, at heart anyway. I am so looking forward to making magical memories with her and relishing in that breathtaking moment when she sees that unbelievable castle.  

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Disneyland Observations from a WDW fan perspective

Friday, November 7, 2014




I was definitely out of my element walking down Main Street, U.S.A. at Disneyland. I had read up, I had listened to podcasts, I had planned as much as one can plan when one has never been to Disneyland before.


 
I knew I was especially excited about a few very important things; Matterhorn and all the other DL specific rides, Pirates, and Haunted Mansion's special holiday overlay. Steve fully expected me to be his tour guide for the evening, hustling him here and there with a clear vision and plan in mind. I definitely didn't have a plan because this was just a tiny part of our seven day road trip and I really wasn't sure what to expect from this event. For starters, I needed a map?!?!

My observations:

This is not like WDW, not at all. It is similar, yes, but in more of a cousin way than a sibling way. Sure, some of the rides are almost (but not quite) the same, but that in many ways is where the similarities end.

We saw far fewer families with children than I expected. I think we both had preconceived ideas that we would stand out as a couple without children, but it was quite the opposite. This is so very much a locals park. I feel confident saying that the majority of the attendees that night were older teens and very young adults and they were (with very few exceptions) very thoughtfully and elaborately attired. Steve was certain many times that he was seeing the REAL Cinderella walk by, that was how intense some of these costumes were.

Bengal Barbecue. We were absolutely starving when we finally made our way to Indiana Jones (one of my DL specific must dos). The ride was down so since we had to wait to ride anyway, we enjoyed drying off from splash a bit at this little spot in Adventureland. I am not sure if I liked the skewers or the jalapeno cheese pretzel more (probably the pretzel because jalapeno cheese stuffed pretzel!!). The portions were a bit on the small side, but the skewers were flavorful and decidedly yummy. My carnivore spouse was VERY happy with this choice.

What is with the yellow strap? I can't recall ever being asked to "pull up on your yellow strap for me, please?" at WDW and there it was on the Matterhorns, Indiana Jones... What is with the yellow strap?

The duplicate rides (ones at both WDW and DLR) were just plain out better here. Pirates, Space, Thunder. I worry that these might be tarnished at WDW a bit for me now and that is saying a lot because those are some of my favorite attractions.

Haunted Mansion's Jack Skellington overlay was so amazing I would have rode it five times had the line not been so long. It is just so well done and executed perfectly. Steve has NEVER seen the movie (?!), so a lot of it was over his head and I can imagine anyone who hasn't seen the movie would be incredibly lost. This was one of my favorite parts of our entire evening. If you can get to Disneyland next year to see it, I cannot more highly recommend it.

 
When I first talked to Steve about this trip, my plan was attractions, ambience, snacks and attractions. I was completely uninterested in waiting in long lines to meet characters and yet, there they were, characters just standing there waiting for someone to come play. We happened upon Pluto (no cue), Goofy (just entering from backstage), Woody (walked right up to him as you can see below in that too bright photo), and Genie & Prince Ali had a very short wait while Steve was getting a snack anyway, so WHY NOT? Not only were the lines short (for some characters), but they really wanted you to stick around. Prince Ali said, "that's it?" after I took our selfie because I felt badly taking up too much of their time. They clearly didn't think I was. I asked Genie if he thought we would all fit for the photo and he tried to climb into my phone which was hilarious. When I approached Woody, I told him my nephew was his biggest fan and this was a photo for him and he posed perfectly. The characters were reminiscent of how I remember Disney with my own family as child. Characters were just walking about, with no cueing, no scramble of people racing to get their attention and be the first one. On top of that, they were so interactive and really took their time (not just with the kids) and made these moments truly memorable. I won't soon forget this one.



The biggest observation was how I felt as a rookie out there. It has been a long, long time since I haven't known my way around a Disney Park (at least in a general, let's go here and then there way) and I was utterly lost. It was nighttime, landmarks were more challenging to find in the dark, and half the time I didn't even know the landmark I was looking for. I was frustrated that I couldn't seem to find my dole whip. It feels especially hard when your partner for the night keeps looking to you as the guide and you can only shrug your shoulders. Though challenging, this was a really good reminder of what that first timer experience is like and I have renewed energy to ensure my clients are prepared properly to not only have a good itinerary, but find their way with confidence.

Have you been to both Disneyland and Walt Disney World? How would YOU compare the two?

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