August 13, 2014

How to Secure a FP+ Lunch Reservation at Be Our Guest

With FP+ making constant changes and going through continuous testing, there's bound to be changes that we'd love to make you aware of! Here's the latest on Be Our Guest...
What is Be Our Guest? (Info for the newbies…)
Be Our Guest (BOG) is a newer, and very popular restaurant in New Fantasyland in the Magic Kingdom. Themed after Beast's castle (Beauty and the Beast) and serving French fare, it's been a crowd pleaser for over a year! Be Our Guest serves as a quick-service restaurant for the Lunch time hours, and a Table Service restaurant for Dinner (not open for breakfast.) So far, Be Our Guest is the only restaurant to offer a FP+ reservation to onsite guests for the Lunch hours that will allow guests to skip waiting in line as well as pre-order their food. This special FP+ does not count against your 3 allotted FP+ attraction reservations - it's a Bonus! 


Most Recent Changes: (as of Aug. 13, 2014)
  • For onsite guests, A lunchtime FP+ for Be Our Guest can be reserved 27 days in advance of the day you'd like to eat. (i.e. On September 1st, you may make your FP+ Lunch Reservation for Sept 28th. Any day after Sept. 28th will show as "unavailable"until you're within that 27 day window.) The '27 day' rule seems to be the latest formula Disney is using - but it's always subject to change as we've seen '45-60 days in advance' as well as 'one month prior' for acquiring this particular FP+.
  • For offsite guests, or those that missed out on FP+ reservations, Be Our Guest is also testing a paper-fast pass distribution for walk-ups with out a reservation. They are handing a small card with a return time. It's best to arrive earlier (10:30 a.m.) than later to better your chances at receiving a return time 'fast pass.'
How to Reserve a FP+ Lunch Reservation:
  • Visit: https://beourguestlunch.disney.go.com/
  • If you're within 27 days of your planned BOG Dining date (not your check-in date), go ahead and select the day you'd like to dine at Be Our Guest for Lunch.
  • You'll be given 2 time frames to choose from. Don't like them? Hit the refresh button and two new time frames will appear… just keep refreshing until you find the time that you like!
  • We suggest choosing the "Direct to Table" option. It'll allow you to pre-select your food now and you'll be able to by-pass the ordering kiosk at the restaurant. You can always make changes to your meal selection after-the-fact.
  • Follow the prompts to pre-select your meal for each member of your party, complete the reservation and you're all set!
Quirks in the System:
  • If your reservation number doesn't work at login, try finding it by using one (or more) of these steps: 
    • If you have a room only reservation, you'll find it at: https://disneyworld.disney.go.com/trip/my-vacation/ 
    • You might try using the # found on your Magical Express luggage tags (though, these numbers can differ from your reservation # as well.)
    • If you purchased Memory Maker, you'll find the # within your package info.
    • If all of the above fail, get your geek-on and follow these steps:
      • Log into ‘My Disney Experience’ and hover over "Online Check In"
      • When the URL pops up (usually in the lower-left hand corner of your screen), copy the series of numbers that appears within the URL. That's the number to use for your reservation.
      • IF hovering doesn't work, go ahead and 'click' on Online Check In (even if you’ve already checked-in online - no worries, it won’t reverse any check-in info.) Watch your URL address bar, a link should appear with a 12 digit reservation number - but it may appear quickly then re-route to a new URL… just keep pressing the 'back' button and quickly try to write the number down as fast as possible. The 12 digit # is just what you need for the Be Our Guest lunch reservation fastpass.
  • Another quirk is that you may or may not receive a confirmation email about your FP+ Lunch Reservation. To be on the safe side, take a screen shot of your final completion screen, print and bring it with you. No confirmation # will be given, nor is it linked to the My Disney Experience app with your other FP+ Reservations, so do not be alarmed when you cannot find it there.
  • You might hear that the FP+ reservations are by email invite only. It has been working for everyone, not just those with an invitation.

That's it! We hope you enjoy your lunch at Be Our Guest. Mind your manners and remember to be a gracious guest! ; )


August 12, 2014

Dial® Coconut Water Refreshing Mango Body Wash GIVEAWAY (and Review)

New Dial® Coconut Water Refreshing Mango Body Wash (whew - that's a long name!) is something you've got to try! It's infused with coconut water, which is known for it's hydrating antioxidants and electrolyte components.

Review
As with any body wash, the Dial® Coconut Water Refreshing Mango body wash lathered up nicely on my loofa sponge and was easy to spread. The smell of this body wash in the shower is fabulous! It rinsed off nicely, and getting out of the shower my skin did not feel overly moisturized but not dry either. It leaves you feeling clean and smelling nicely of a hint of coconut. I received a full-sized bottle, and will use it for the months to come!


Disney
What does body wash have to do with Disney?! Not too much - lol! I don't have any special Disney hints or tricks to use with body wash, but I do recommend using this body wash if you're headed to Disney sometime soon. After a long day in the parks, walking in the sun, working up a nice sweat… I'm sure your family and all other Disney guests would appreciate you showering off and coming out smelling like coconuts & mangos! It really is a wonderful smell.

Giveaway
Dial® has provided me with 3 coupons each for a FREE bottle of Dial® Coconut Water Refreshing Mango Body Wash (11.75 oz. or larger) to give to one lucky winner! (Note: These coupons expire September 30, 2014.) This giveaway is running NOW (Tues Aug 12) through Thursday, Aug. 14 - closing at 11:59 p.m (eastern.) Open to residents of the USA.


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclosure: The Dial® brand provided me with a free sample of Dial® Coconut Water Refreshing Mango body wash in exchange for a product review. All opinions expressed here are my own.

August 9, 2014

Book Review: The Thinking Fan's Guide to Walt Disney World: Magic Kingdom

The Thinking Fan’s Guide to Walt Disney World is a guidebook for those who want to take a deeper look into the history and creation of the lands and attractions at the Magic Kingdom park in Walt Disney World. The author, Aaron Wallace, takes you on a journey clockwise throughout the park, beginning in Adventureland and culminating on Main Street U.S.A. As you enter each land, you are provided with a description and history of the area and then guided through each attraction in that land. The highlight of the book for me, as a big Disney fan, was learning about Walt’s influence on the attractions as they were created for Disneyland and later re-created for the Magic Kingdom.


Aaron Wallace did a great job researching and providing his readers with both historical and current information about each attraction. He gives a quick introduction about the attraction and then goes into great detail. He is truthful in his opinions, but also provides insight on why some of the lesser visited attractions still exist and how they are connected back to Walt Disney himself. Mr. Wallace also ties in a movie to each attraction.

Overall, I think it was a great book for Disney fans, like me, to dig deeper into the history of the Magic Kingdom. In my honest opinion, I wouldn’t want to read the book before visiting for the first time since the author goes into great detail about each attraction (and I like surprises). I would however, bring it along with me so after I experience an attraction, I can read up on details I may have overlooked.

**WDW hints note: Keep in mind as you read this book that Magic Kingdom is constantly growing and changing, so as you read this book, you will notice that some things have already changed since the book was published. For example, there are no longer paper fastpasses in this park and some of the newest attractions (Enchanted Tales with Belle, Journey of the Little Mermaid and Seven Dwarfs Mine Train) are not included. I hope that we will see an update for this book soon as well as follow-up guides for Epcot, Hollywood Studios and Animal Kingdom.

~Crissy


Disclaimer: We received a complimentary copy of The Thinking Fan's Guide to Walt Disney World: Magic Kingdom in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are our own. Affiliate links have been provided but do not raise the cost of the book for buyers.

August 6, 2014

Why My Family Loves the Dining Plan

My family loves using the Disney Dining Plan on our trips! With the cost of, well, everything increasing, the dining plan is no longer a big cost saver for my family. However, we STILL love the dining plan, and it is something both my husband and I agree we like to use. We continue to try and maximize our dining plan by the places we choose to dine, but we find value in the dining plan in unexpected ways.


My favorite thing about the dining plan is being able to pay for the bulk of our meals ahead of time. I know when I pay for the regular dining plan that I have paid for a sit down meal, a counter service meal, and a snack for each night that we stay at our Disney resort. This leaves possibly one meal a day that I need to budget for rather than having to budget a week’s worth of meals. Instead of trying to estimate how much each meal will cost, I just use my dining plan credits and continue enjoying my vacation! By purchasing the dining plan, I only need to estimate gratuities and budget some wiggle room in case we decide to purchase any extra food. That is much easier than having to estimate a week’s worth of meals!

The Dining Plan adds value to our family vacations by allowing us time to slow down. As you probably know, Disney World can be a busy vacation. There is so much to see and do that we forget to slow down and enjoy our family time. The dining plan makes our family take a break and enjoy a sit down meal, and honestly, with an active toddler, I welcome the time to relax over a meal. What better way to slow down at Disney World than to do it over a delicious meal?! When attending restaurants, we get to stop, enjoy a wonderful meal, and talk to one another.

As I mentioned in the beginning, the dining plan does not save us a whole lot of money like it did years ago. We have thrown around the idea of not getting the dining plan but still doing reservations for a restaurant each day. We know how much we enjoy that sit down meal each day, so we want to have that on our vacation. However, I am a very frugal person. Without the dining plan, I know I would sit down at the table, look at the menu, and get the cheapest thing on there. With the dining plan, instead of getting a hamburger, I may order the most expensive thing on the menu! The dining plan takes my mind off the sticker shock and allows me to enjoy trying new things. Rather than thinking about if the $30+ character buffet is worth it, I just enjoy seeing my son’s face light up.

All in all, the dining plan allows me to relax and enjoy our vacation that we worked hard for. I know I have already paid for everything, so I can just relax and enjoy our magical destination.


Natalie Floyd is a Disney Vacation Planner with Mickey Adventures and specializes in all Disney vacations. You can follow her on FacebookTwitter, or you contact her via email.

August 1, 2014

Introducing Spellbinders® Celebra'tions™

Have you ever heard of Spellbinders® Celebra'tions™? I hadn't until I was offered a complimentary kit in order to make my own project. The Spellbinders® Celebra'tions™Collection offers dies, stamps, paper, inks and accessories in order for you to craft something heartfelt to give to someone else. It's very fun and super easy!!


Review
I'm not creative when it comes to designing something from scratch - but give me some materials and instructions to follow and I can reproduce a card, craft or (semi-easy) DIY project. Spellbinders® Celebra'tions™makes crafting easy and fun! They provide all of the materials you need for each project and even step-by-step instructions so that you can't mess up! Of course, you are always free to add your own artistic flare - the instructions are basic assembly instructions.

Below is the Celebrate Party Hat Card that I created using the kit provided. The instructions were easy to follow, in-fact - no mistakes were made (thank goodness!) and it only took me 10 minutes!!

Spellbinders® Celebra'tions™instructions, materials & final product!
Handmade cards, crafts or gifts always beat out store bought cards in my book. There's just that sentimentality that goes along with handmade items - knowing that someone took the time to create something just for you. So, next time you're wanting to get into Papercrafts, card making, or stamping - and wanting to look for something easy - check out Spellbinders® Celebra'tions™!!

Disclaimer: The Spellbinders® brand provided me with a kit of Spellbinders® Celebra'tions™Collection in exchange for a product review. However, all opinions expressed are my own.

July 28, 2014

Geek Den Review plus Lanyard GIVEAWAY!!!

Who wants a Lanyard?!?! Better yet, who wants a Disney-themed Lanyard??? Look no further than Geek Den. Jen Lai has some really cute and cool lanyards sure to please any child, teen or adult! Just check out the Disney and Star Wars-themed lanyards below!

Image provided by Geek Den
Did you notice they're embroidered with a Disney font? Yay! You've got to visit Geek Den on Etsy, because not pictured are the Toy Story Woody and Jessie lanyards, as well as the Chewbacca lanyard.

Review
I chose a "Tigger" lanyard for my son. Jen was very professional and helpful throughout the ordering process. The lanyard arrived about a week after I put in my order. It came packaged so cutely! Wrapped in matching ribbon, with a Mickey sticker - its arrival 'presentation' was such a treat. The lanyard itself is made with soft fabric and full of character! My son is going to love showing off his Disney pins while wearing this lanyard. Jen's lanyards cost $13 - and in my opinion are worth every penny as they're personalized, very durable and can be made to fit anyone!



GIVEAWAY!!
For a chance at winning your very own personalized Lanyard from Geek Den, enter using the Rafflecopter form below. One winner will be selected on Monday, Aug 4 (2014) and notified via email and given 48 hours to respond and claim their prize. Winner will be given their choice of one (1) lanyard plus their choice of name to be embroidered onto the lanyard. Open to Residents of the United States only. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclaimer: I received a free lanyard from Geek Den in exchange for an honest review. All opinions expressed are my own.

July 24, 2014

Meet Morgan… the Magic behind Cover Bands, DVC Central and The Source!

Have you entered our Cover Band Giveaway yet? (It ends Sunday July 27th!) The creator of Cover Bands is Morgan Crutchfield, who also runs DVCCentral.com and is the Author and Editor of The Source eMagazine! She's got a lot on her plate, but thankfully she happily agreed to an interview so we can get a better look at all that she does! Enjoy!

WDW Hints: How did you come up with the idea to start DVC Central?

Morgan: Disney Vacation Club ownership is a great thing, but as a member I had a ton of questions and no really reliable source to go to when I needed quick answers. I started a Facebook group in 2012 to put together a group of awesome people who not only had questions of their own, but had a lot of experience in the Disney properties. As the group grew, I started answering questions not only about Disney Vacation Club, but about vacationing at Disney in general. In 2013 I decided to make a run at doing what I really love - helping people make the most out of their ownership and their trips. My group has been the foundation of everything Central has become and I’m so grateful for everyone who supports me.


WDW Hints: How long have you owned a piece of the Magic?

Morgan: I’ve been an owner since 2009.

WDW Hints: What's your favorite DVC property?

Morgan: I have always been so fond of the Boardwalk Villas. I grew up going to Boardwalk with my family and it holds so many special memories for me.

WDW Hints: How did you come up with the idea of Cover Bands?


Morgan: My son was a HUGE fan of the wrapped monorails and, honestly, I loved them too. As my friends began decorating their MagicBands with nail polish and storebought stickers and running into problems with getting stickers to stay and nail polish to look just right, I got in touch with a friend who owns a print shop and said, “If we can wrap a monorail, why can’t we wrap a wristband?” He said, “Well, we could,” and the rest is history.

WDW Hints: Which Cover Band is the most popular?

Morgan: It’s a tossup between the two Frozen-inspired designs and the Haunted Mansion issue. We’re getting ready to release some new designs on August 1 that I think may eclipse the popularity of our most loved designs now.

WDW Hints: How many team members help you run DVC Central and/or The Source?

Morgan: This is an answer I don’t let go of often, because it seems so cool to have a big team, but it’s actually just me. I am so fortunate to work with amazingly talented photographers who collaborate on my double-page spreads in The Source as well as an editor who keeps me correct, but everything else you see from photography to writing to social media is me.

WDW Hints: What made you start creating The Source?

Morgan: I love all of the ways that I can get information to people on social media platforms, but I realized in working with my group that people wanted something they could really look at and pour over when they weren’t at the parks. Lots of larger companies in media and other areas had moved to digital publishing, and a magazine that allowed me to put out incredible pictures as well as information just seemed like the natural next move. I’ve been through several changes since the first issue, but I think I’ve settled on a price (free) and a format (quarterly with mini issues in between) that work for everyone.

WDW Hints: Are there any other projects in the works?

Morgan: Always. I’m a little spazzy with my ideas. Just ask my friends.

WDW Hints: How often do you visit WDW?

Morgan: Before 2014, I visited WDW a few times a year. In early 2014 I packed up and moved down to make sure I was getting the best information and staying on top of the pulse here. It was really scary, but the best thing I’ve ever done. Now I’m in the parks several days a week.

WDW Hints: Can you tell us your WDW Disney favorites?

Morgan: Absolutely! I love the Magic Kingdom, It’s a Small World and the Rapunzel bathrooms (I know, I know, but I’m a Rapunzel NUT), breakfast at Boma, Cronuts and Artisans de Glaces Ice Cream, and (geeky confession) the Hall of Presidents.

WDW Hints: What is a favorite Hint (or lesser-known tip) you'd like to share with our readers?

Morgan: There are so many great sites like yours with awesome information so my biggest tip is to find us all! But I think my most useful hint is that getting a Red Card (debit or credit) at Target will allow you to save 5% instantly on Disney gift cards when you purchase them with your Red Card. We use gift cards for everything from paying our room balances to meals to merchandise. 5% doesn’t sound like much initially but it can really add up.

WDW Hints: Thanks so much for taking the time to answer our questions, Morgan!

Morgan: Thank you so much for these questions and I hope to see you all in the parks!

July 22, 2014

Baby Announcement Made on Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger Spin!

Meet Catie… (she helps us with Graphics!)
My husband and I are self proclaimed Disney nerds. What started out in 2008 as a one day trip to Hollywood Studios escalated into 2 trips to DLR and 2 trips to WDW within the last calendar year. After numerous trips to Walt Disney World, we felt like we were home. We knew where we wanted to go, what we wanted to see, what we wanted to do, etc. On each trip, we kept looking for ways to set it apart from our previous trips. We began with the Quick Service dining plan. Then we tried the Table Service dining plan. Then we tried a couple different tours. Every time we fell in love with Disney that much more!

Heartbreaking News
Before continuing with our story, I want to share some more of our back story. During our previous WDW trip in November 2013, I thought I was pregnant the entire 2 week trip. We didn't rent a car and we couldn't find a pregnancy test on WDW property. When we got home I took a test that very faintly confirmed I was pregnant with our first baby! We were very excited to say the least, but sadly 6 days later we lost the baby. It was a very sad time for me and one of the things that took my mind off of our baby was our upcoming anniversary trip to WDW.

Anniversary Surprise!
We headed down to WDW April 29 - May 5 to celebrate our 4th wedding anniversary on May 1st. The timing couldn't have been more perfect. Hollywood Studios was also celebrating their 25th anniversary the same day, and it was the first park we had visited together. Disney magic was definitely in the air for us! I had began to feel the same pregnancy symptoms the week leading up to our trip, so I packed a few pregnancy tests just in case. I had taken a test the Saturday before our trip that was negative, but I just KNEW I was pregnant. So I "patiently" waited until the following Saturday (May 3rd) to test again and it was POSITIVE!

We were very very excited but also, scared to death!

While in Disney… Make it Magical!
While being at the most magical place on Earth we knew we had the perfect opportunity to find a way to share the news with our families. We began thinking of rides that offered ride photos so that we could hold some kind of sign sharing our news. We didn't like any of the ride options that immediately came to mind. However, Magic Kingdom would be open until 2 a.m. Sunday, May 4th and we were hoping for any opportunity to ride Seven Dwarfs Mine Train.

Around 1 a.m. we figured that all hope was lost for 7DMT so we went over to Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger Spin and when we got to the ride photo we knew we had the perfect ride! It was slow moving, indoors and dry! We jumped off the ride and headed over to the gift shop and asked if they had a piece of paper and a marker. Once we told them what we had in mind they quickly helped us out! We rushed back over to Buzz and hopped on for our perfect ride photo! I quickly found the camera in the wall and knew exactly where to look into the camera, but I couldn't explain it well enough that hubby could find it too. So, after several attempts (6 to be exact!) he wasn't looking... or the sign was behind the joy stick... or we had weird looks on our faces.. or the camera just DIDN'T take our picture, it was nearing 2 a.m. and we knew we only had one more shot!

By this time, all the cast members working the attraction knew what we were trying to do and were cheering us on! We tried it one final time, knowing it was all or nothing! We stepped off the ride at 1:58 a.m. and even though hubby still wasn't looking at the camera we deemed it was as good as we were going to get! We headed over to the photo counter and told the young lady which ride photo we wanted. She gushed over our baby sign and showed all the other cast members in the area that didn't already know. She started quickly pushing buttons and adding photos of all sizes to our order. I thought it was a little strange because we never told her what sizes we wanted. I assumed it must be one of those package deals where they print the photo and ask if you want the bundle. 


"This One's on the Mouse!"
She came over with our prints (1- 8x10, 2-5x7's, and 4 wallets AND the digital rights to print more photos!) and told us to have a magical night! We tried to ask her how much we owed for them, but she told us this one was on The Mouse! She said it was a "Disney Magical Moment!" Indeed it was! Bringing home a baby was the best souvenir we could have gotten! 

Here we are several months later and I am happy to announce that I am 15 weeks pregnant with our baby boy!  ~Catie


Editor's Note: A great big CONGRATULATIONS to our team member, Catie!! We're so thrilled for this news and look forward to the arrival of this Blessing in January!