Category Archives: Holidays

Disney Summer Vacation ’18

If you follow Modhousewife, you know I am a Disney mom! My family returned home last week after spending 7 days at Walt Disney World and then on a 3-day cruise in the Caribbean.

Here are the reviews of the new adventures we took!

Frozen Ever After Sparking Dessert Party – Many asked if this dessert party is worth the cost…..Absolutely! This party is at Epcot; and my family had exclusive seating in the World Showcase East (across from the Mexican Pavilion) to view IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth. We ate and drank delicious Frozen-themed treats and concoctions to our fill. Then we enjoyed the fireworks with 3-D eye-glasses that transformed the fireworks into snowflakes. Finally, my family was treated to a private ride on the Frozen Ever After attraction in the Norway pavilion.

   

Surfing Lessons at Typhoon Lagoon – For my daughter’s birthday, we wanted to gift her with a Disney experience. Because she is a swimmer and lover of the water, we signed her up for surf lessons at Typhoon Lagoon. The family arrived at Typhoon Lagoon Waterpark on 6:45am on Tuesday…and we enjoyed a continental breakfast ($10/person) while my daughter prepared for her lesson. The Cocoa Beach Surf School conducts the lessons by teaching safety and skills in the surf pool. Adults and children enjoyed the lessons; and by the end (10am), my daughter was standing on the board. Next time, she hopes to conquer the large waves.

     

Disney Vacation Club Moonlight Magic – We are Disney Vacation Club (DVC) members, and a perk is attending Moonlight Magic (when available) in one of the four parks. During our week at Disney, Moonlight Magic was offered at Epcot. Even though this is a free event for DVC members, you must sign up for tickets (the park closes at 9pm for all other visitors). Unfortunately, we were highly disappointed with this event at Epcot. Yes, many food items were free, but there are not enough attractions at Epcot. The World Showcase was only open for Frozen Ever After (Norway) and The Three Caballeros (Mexico)…which were very crowded along with the other lines at the Epcot attractions (Soarin, Test Track, etc). The point of this event is to enjoy short ride waits.

Then let’s talk transportation back to the resorts…..two thumbs down! The monorail was closed for the evening and there were not enough buses. We left Epcot at 11:30pm and did not return home to the Polynesian Resort until 12:30am. And our bus driver forgot where he was going, and crossed a grassy median to return to the right route. Terrible!

Overall, the trip was fantastic!  We enjoyed the new Toy Story Land at Hollywood Studios (do not wait more than 60 minutes for Slinky Dog). The August heat was no big deal; and we actually arrived the week that Florida and most U.S.students returned to school (lower crowds).

Now we must wait until spring break for our next Disney adventure….Welcome to Miami!

Disney Spring Break 2018 – Land & Sea

As you can tell by now, my family is crazy for “The Mouse”! And before we venture to Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida or onto a Disney Cruise Liner, I take my time to read up on new adventures to explore that will create even more magical memories.

Here are the new experiences my family shared on our 8-day Disney Land & Sea Spring Break:

LAND

Disney’s Boardwalk Inn/Villas

Because we were only staying for one night in Disney World, we decided not to explore all the parks and only play at Hollywood Studios and Epcot. Plus, we did not want to deal with crowded public transportation. So the perfect resort for our family’s trip was Disney’s Boardwalk Inn/Villas. This charming turn-of-the-century Atlantic City hotel has spacious and comfortable rooms; and is located within walking distance to both Epcot and Hollywood Studios. And the unique eateries and nightlife really topped off a magical experience at the Boardwalk.

   

Note: The Boardwalk Bakery has the best sweet rolls in the morning!!

Ale & Compass Restaurant – Yacht & Beach Club Resorts

There are so many restaurants at Disney World, we always make sure to try something new during each visit. My husband found Ale & Compass (short walk from the Boardwalk Resort); and after reading all the amazing reviews, it did not disappoint. Famous for it’s burgers and seafood, the Ale & Compass is now a family favorite. Make sure to book 180 days out from your visit.

  

Epcot Morocco Pavilion – The Art of Henna

Henna is a plant; and the dye is made from dried crushed henna leaves, lemon juice, water, sugar and eucalyptus.  Depending on the design chosen, the application will take 5-10 minutes and cost varies. Henna is a tradition in Morocco; and most commonly done on women for weddings in Morocco…. the day before the ceremony the bride’s hands and feet are decorated.

  

Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival

This was our first time to experience the amazing works of flower art at Epcot for the 25th Annual International Flower & Garden Festival. The grounds are absolutely gorgeous; and make sure to enjoy the festival’s food and drink pavilions too!

   

SEA 

Senses Spa Facial & RainForest Room

We love Senses Spa! And this cruise, I enjoyed a relaxing facial. Also, my husband and I both enjoyed the RainForest Room…this fabulous spa secret includes aromatherapy showers, saunas, steam room and heated stone loungers. We booked a couples RainForest 3-day pass.

     

Tequila & Margarita Tasting

My husband and I enjoyed an hour of adult time learning about the culture, region and tradition surrounding Mexico’s most popular spirit. Such a great time enjoying tequila and meeting new people. Book when reserving excursions or at guest services.

 

Star Wars Day at Sea

  • Darth Vadar Takes Over The Ship (Star Wars Day at Sea Eve) – This event is NOT in your daily Navigator. In the Lobby Atrium (Level 3) at 10:15pm the night before Star Wars Day at Sea, Darth Vadar takes over the ship. Don’t miss this super fun/secret event.
  • Star Wars Bibbity Bobbity Boutique – They can turn your little into a prince or princess, a pirate or wench and now a Jedi or Imperial Forces. This was the first time I have ever seen grown men getting into character at the Bibbity Bobbity Boutique. Make sure to reserve your spot when booking excursions…this is the BBB’s most popular day on the cruise. (prices vary)

      

Sweet On You

And I saved the best for last…..the new old-fashioned ice cream parlor offers sea-goers gelato, ice cream, candy and baked goods. Sweet On You also is the home of the Minnie Signature Sundae; and it’s amazingly yummy. (Serves 3-4 people)

 

Have a magical vacation!

#VegasStrong

I have just returned home from my first trip to Las Vegas. My first impression…this city is larger and brighter than life. And in the few weeks after the Mandalay Bay/Route 91Harvest Festival tragedy, Las Vegas has proven it’s a united community showing the world it will not be beaten….Vegas will remain strong and overcome.

My girlfriend and I enjoyed three days in Vegas, which is the perfect amount of time. With all the activity, it’s very easy to tire out. Plus, I want to save some attractions for my next visit!

Here’s our Girls’ Weekend itinerary. This was created after hours of blog reading and researching in order to have the perfect Vegas weekend. I hope it inspires you to visit Sin City:

Friday

-9:30am (12:30pm EST) Arrived at McCarran Airport  

-10:15am Dropped off luggage at our hotel..New York, New York  (Check In: 1-3pm)

-10:30am Began walking the famous Las Vegas Strip. Arrived at Planet Hollywood Box Office to retrieve our Britney Spears: Piece of Me concert tickets for that night’s show. I purchased tickets a month earlier on Vegas.com.

-11:30am Lunch at Lobster Me. Great New England Lobster Rolls and Lobster Bisque. We ate at the Miracle Mile Shops at Planet Hollywood.

-1pm Walked to the Venetian Hotel and enjoyed the sites and an outside Gondola ride. Gondola ride tickets are purchased onsite.

-3:30pm Arrived back at New York, New York to check into the hotel and rest. Then prep for these evenings events.

-5:30pm Dressed and ready for a night on the town, we taxied to The Venetian for dinner on the canal: Canonita Mexican Restaurant. The Coca Pina and Vaquero Beef Rib are outstanding!

 

-7:30pm Taxied to Planet Hollywood for the 9pm Britney Spears concert. She did not make an appearance on stage until 9:30pm. She still has it. The dancing and production of the show is incredible. It’s worth it…plus the people watching is two thumbs up!

 

-11:45pm – Taxied back to New York, New York for a good night sleep.

Saturday

11:30am – We slept in! With the three hour time change and a Friday full of walking, we were exhausted. The sleep felt great.

12:30pm – Walked the Strip to find lunch. 800 Degrees is highly rated for it’s brick oven pizza….and it did not disappoint. Highly recommend for your pizza fix.

 

2pm – After browsing the Hershey Store and M&M World, we decided to spend the rest of the afternoon at the hotel pool.

7:30pm – Taxied to the Bellagio for dinner at Prime. We had a wonderful view of the fountain show and the food is 5 stars!

 

9:45pm – Taxied to the Excalibur Hotel for the 11pm show of the famous Thunder Down Under male review. This was a fabulous girls night out!

 

12:30am – Walked to New York, New York for a good night sleep!

Sunday

11:00am – Checked out of New York, New York; and walked the Strip for a little shopping. Then we enjoyed brisket melts from Virgils BBQ.

 

1pm – 5:30pm – Enjoyed more of the Strip. Bought cupcakes from Sprinkles and then browsed the high end shops and relaxed at the Bellagio. My favorite shop is SJP….Sex and the City Shoe Heaven.

 

 

6pm – Our last dinner in Vegas was at Holstein’s in the Cosmopolitan Hotel. Fantastic burgers, chicken and of course, the best ice cream shakes in Vegas.

 

7:30pm – Walked to New York, New York to pick up our luggage and taxied to the airport for our Red Eye flight.

Las Vegas was incredible. I hope to make lots more trips in the future with girlfriends and my husband…so many things to see, so little time. And remember, what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas.

Happy Travels!

Sailing Disney…Where Dreams Come True

It’s been almost two weeks since we boarded the Disney Dream…ready to set sail on our 3rd Disney Cruise. This was not only our first time on the Dream (sister ship of the Fantasy), it was our first time on a 3-night cruise to the Bahamas.

We arrived in Orlando on a Thursday afternoon, and stayed at the Hyatt Regency Orlando Airport Hotel.  We enjoyed an evening filled with wonderful food, spirits and lots of swimming in the rooftop pool.

The next morning, we walked to the Orlando Airport Disney Bus Terminal to board the Magical Express for Port Canaveral. The rain was pouring as we entered the ship (no swimming), but there was so much to explore and activities to participate in on the Disney Dream.

Here is the itinerary:

Day 1 

  • 12pm Lunch
  • 1pm Explored Ship and Youth Activity Center (Oceaneer Lab/Club)
  • 3pm Disney Vacation Club Members Celebration
  • 4pm Mandatory Guest Assembly Drill
  • 6pm The Golden Mickeys Broadway-Style Show
  • 8:15pm Dinner at Enchanted Garden Restaurant
  • 9:30pm After-dinner coffees at Cove Cafe
  • 11pm Picked up child from Oceaneer Club

 

Day 2 – Atlantis

  • 7am Mr Mod wakes to run 6 miles on Deck 4 (but he brings coffee back to the room)
  • Room Service breakfast (included in the cost of your cruise)
  • 9:45am First Port of Call – Nassau, Bahamas
  • 10:30am Exited ship for our excursion to Atlantis Resort (15 minute bus ride)
  • 11am Aquaventure – Atlantis is an amazing sight from the ship deck; and an incredible, awe-inspiring resort to visit. The Aquaventure is a 1st-class waterpark with one-of-kind slides, rivers and pools for the entire family.
  • 5pm Returned to the ship and rested in our stateroom.
  • 7pm The Pirate Night Deck Party – Dress up in your pirate finest!
  • 8:15pm Dinner at Royal Palace
  • 10pm Pirate Party Fireworks

     

Day 3 – Castaway Cay  

My family decided not to disembark on Castaway  Cay. We were very tired from Atlantis, and wanted to spend a relaxing day on the ship. Note: On port days, the ship is empty….take advantage of the quiet and enjoy all the amenities offered to your family.

  • 9am Breakfast at Cabanas buffet (Mickey waffles are the best!)
  • 10am Deck 11 Poolside and watching Cinderella and Lion King on the Funnel Vision. We also enjoyed no lines on the AquaDuck.
  • Noon Lunch at Cabanas with a gorgeous view of Castaway Cay.
  • 2pm Empty movie theater (Buena Vista Theatre) enjoying Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales.
  • 4:30pm Back to the stateroom to pack (bags must be out in the hallway by 10pm if taking Disney Magic Express back to airport)
  • 6pm Rest/Relaxation
  • 8:15pm Dinner at Animator’s Palate
  • 9:30pm After-Dinner Coffees at Cove Café

   

After a 3rd Disney cruise, I can honestly say that Disney knows cruising. We plan to set sail on our 4th Disney Cruise Spring Break 2018. Please see my earlier Disney Cruise blogs for more information….and have a magical time.

Disney…Not Just For Kids

As you have read in previous blogs, my family loves everything Disney……bring on the magic! And after reviewing our five-year vacation plan, we decided to become Disney Vacation Club (DVC) members in order to save money and enjoy even more of what Disney has to offer.

Our latest Disney vacation had a theme…. “No Kids”. Disney World (Land, Cruises, Destinations) have itineraries just for adults. This is your time to relax and just be a “big kid”.

It’s been almost two months since we returned from our first “no kids” Disney vacation. We went with a fabulous couple (Douggiestyle.com) who are also DVC members. This trip was designed around the Ecpot International Food & Wine Festival and the Wine & Dine Half Marathon.

Here is a look at all the fun we had without the kids…. no guilt was had by all participating;) :

Thursday:

    

Friday:

  • Enjoyed a giant cinnamon roll (Gaston’s Tavern) and Starbucks in the Magic Kingdom. We found a small and quiet cove off of Main Street USA to eat in each morning. (Must arrive at Kingdom when park opens).
  • Bused to ESPN’s Wide World of Sports to pick up my husband’s race packets for the Wine & Dine 10K and Half Marathon (otherwise know as the 19.3 Lumiere’s Challenge).
  • Returned to Magic Kindgom for a day of rides and of course, Dole Whip.
  • Monorailed to the Polynesian Resort’s  Tambu Lounge for Pork Nachos and Lapu Lapu drinks (you get a whole pineapple!).
  • Returned to the resort to prepare for our late night dinner at California Grill.

       

Saturday:

  • My husband woke at 3:30am to make the 4am bus to Epcot for the Wine & Dine 10K.
  • He returned after a successful run and slept.
  • Spent the morning in Magic Kingdom (Cinnamon rolls, Starbucks, character photos and Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom).
  • Headed to Epcot for attractions and the International Food & Wine Festival.

  

   

Sunday:

  • My husband woke at 3:30am to make the 4am runners’ bus to Epcot.
  • I woke at 4:30am to make the 5am spectators’ bus to Epcot.
  • He completed the Wine & Dine Half Marathon thus completing the Lumiere Challenge of 19.3 miles.
  • Rested all morning and went pooling around noon.
  • Arrived back at the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival for more food and fun.
  • Ate dinner at Canada’s Le Cellier Steakhouse.
  • Enjoyed the private Wine & Dine Half Marathon party at Epcot. With your ticket (tickets are given to marathoners and may be bought by those in a marathoners’ party). Epcot is closed to everyone else.
  •        

Monday:

 

Tuesday:

  • Spent our last morning eating a the Polynesian Resort’s Kona Café rated Disney’s best breakfast (Tonga Toast).

 

As you can tell, Disney is definitely not just for kids. We ate, drank and just touched the surface of all Disney has to offer for adults. And we did so much walking, none of us gained a pound.

We had such a blast; and will be making this trip an annual destination each year. And next November, I will be competing in the Lumiere Challenge.

Have a magical vacation!

 

Walt Disney World – Planning Timeline

You know that commercial…the one with family is walking up to Cinderella Castle, with their matching Mickey ears, when suddenly their favorite character appears out of nowhere! Of course a photographer is there to capture this magical memories that will be cherished forever!

You also know it doesn’t just magically happen…right? While Walt Disney World is known for making amazing, magical moments, but it also requires research and pre-planning! With the increase in technology, planning ahead has become even more crucial! Today, I wanted to give you some travel agent insider tips about planning a Walt Disney World vacation.

7Months

 

Booking Your Vacation – 7 Months

When to book?
The time of year you visit Walt Disney World can have a huge impact on your experience. Peak times include summer vacations and weeks that include major holidays (Independence Day, Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter are the big four)! During these times, the prices will be higher and the parks will be far more crowded. Booking off-peak times means less expensive pricing, lighter crowds, and great events like Epcot’s International Food and Wine Festival and Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party in the fall, Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party in the winter, and Epcot’s Flower and Garden Festival in the spring. In general, it is recommended to book sooner rather than later to allow the most flexibility in planning. I recommend booking at least 7 months in advance, if possible – you’ll see why in just a bit.

How long to stay?
Walt Disney World is roughly the size of the city of San Francisco. It’s not a mere amusement park, but an amazing destination complete with 4 theme parks, 2 water parks, dozens of resorts, 4 PGA golf courses, 2 mini-golf courses, a major sports complex, and a newly-renovated shopping and entertainment district! It’s a lot to cover, but a week for your vacation is a great amount of time to get a chance to see a bit of everything. If a full week doesn’t fit in your budget, 5 nights would allow you 4 full days at the parks…time to visit each park once! You’ll just scratch the surface, but with a good plan in place you’ll see and do a lot!

Where to stay?
Walt Disney World has over 25 resorts to choose from, for a variety of budgets. Each resort offers something different in terms of theming and experience.The benefits to staying at a Disney resort (vs off- property somewhere) includes extra hours in the park, access to discounted dining through Disney’s their dining plans, amazing guest service, magic bands, early access to reservations, and more!

  • 
Basic rooms and amenities are available at the Value level hotels – All-Star Movies, All-Star Music, All-Star Sports, Art of Animation, and Pop Century. These resorts offer simple rooms with double beds, bright colors, whimsical decor, and a very kid-friendly atmosphere. Each resort has its own food court dining option.
  • At the next resort level (Moderate), you will see more subdued theming, queen beds instead of doubles, as well as specially themed rooms, such as royal princess or pirate motifs. Moderate hotels include Caribbean Beach, Coronado Springs, Port Orleans – French Quarter, Port Orleans – Riverside, and the Cabins at Fort Wilderness. These resorts offer full-service restaurants in addition to food courts and they are in great locations that are central to everything!
  • The top level of Disney accommodations is their Deluxe and Deluxe Villa resorts – Animal Kingdom Lodge, Beach Club, Boardwalk Inn, Contemporary, Grand Floridian, Old Key West, Polynesian Village, Saratoga Springs, Wilderness Lodge, and Yacht Club. These resorts offer a variety of rooms types, many with magical upgrades, like theme park or savanna views. Fine dining opportunities are available, in addition to full-service and food court options. These resorts come in at a premium price, but are also located the closest to theme parks (typically with unique access to at least one of the parks). The villas offer even more space and home-like amenities.

180Days

Dining Reservations – 180 Days

Advanced Dining Reservations (ADRs)
Walt Disney World’s dining reservations open 180 days (~6 months) prior to your arrival. When I tell my clients this, I get a lot of “I don’t know what I’m eating tonight, let alone what I’ll want in 6 months!” While I can totally commiserate with the “what’s-for-dinner” discussion, Disney dining is a completely different beast, involving over 100 dining options and some very hard to get reservations!

While not impossible to get dining reservations less than 180 days out for sought-after locations, it usually requires flexibility, patience, and perseverance. For my clients, I like to have as much opportunity as possible to get them reservations at the specific restaurant and day/time they want. Booking your reservation before 180 days maximizes the chance of getting everything you want on the first try! If you will be visiting during a busy time, booking early becomes even more important, in order to snag the reservations you want!

Disney Dining Plans

Walt Disney World offers a variety of dining plans for you to choose from. These plans can not only save you money, but also help to make your vacation as stress-free as possible. By prepaying for your meals, you don’t have to try and guess at how much to budget for food!

  • Disney’s Quick-Service Dining Plan is for families on the go! If you don’t like to sit down at a long meal each, day this plan is for you! It offers you 2 fast food (or “quick-service” as Disney calls them) meals per night of your stay, plus a snack for each person! No reservations required, with one exception… your family can eat when and where’d they’d like!
  • The most popular plan by far is the next tier up, or Disney’s Plus Dining Plan. This is a great mix of both the “quick-service” food and more traditional table-service restaurants, plus dinner shows and character meals! This plan does require pre-planning as the most popular restaurants will book up quickly!!!
  • The Deluxe Dining Plan is the third tier and really makes your vacation all-inclusive, with three meals, your choice of quick-service or table-service, plus two snacks for each person per night of your stay. For a lot of folks, this is just too much food, but if you plan on a lot fine dining (you might be surprised to know Disney has some of the best-rated restaurants in the area) or dinner shows this is the plan for you!

60Days

FastPass+ – 60 Days
You may have heard friends who have recently been to Disney toss around words like Magic Band or Fastpass+. This will soon become your lingo too!

Fastpass+
Fastpass+ is Disney’s system for pre-reserving your spot in line at up to three attractions per day. This ensures you get to see your favorites attractions with very little wait. Combine that with a great plan of attack and you’ll find you can see and do so much! You can begin selecting your Fastpass+ reservations 60 days prior to arrival!

Magic Bands
Magic Band bracelets are FREE to Walt Disney World guests and are your life line throughout your vacation! They hold your park tickets, entry to your room, dining plan credits, FastPass+ reservations and more – all with a simple tap! They make your vacation easy and everything is so convenient. You even get to pick your own color!

30Days

Getting Ready to Vacation – 30 Days

Let’s Get Packing!
In the month leading up to your trip, you’ll also want to start gathering anything you’ve purchased for your trip – special outfits, Mickey ears, autograph books, etc. The Florida sun is a lot hotter than some people are used to, so be sure to pack sunscreen (I know from experience). You may also want to consider buying/bringing a portable phone charger so your electronic devices will be able to keep up with you and your amazing vacation!

Paid in Full
Your vacation balance also must be paid in full at least 30 days prior to your arrival. If you plan to use a Disney gift card, make sure it specifically says Walt Disney World or Disney Parks on the back of it. There are some gift cards that are just for the Disney Store and unfortunately those won’t work to pay on a Disney Park vacation.

0Days

Does this still sound a bit overwhelming? Well, let me share with you a secret tool… me!!! While there is a ton of information out there, using a travel agent that specializes in Disney vacations can be an invaluable tool to making the most of your Disney vacation! At Living With The Magic Vacations we offer a special package that includes all the necessities for a memorable Disney vacation (including booking your dining and Fastpass+ reservations for you)… and we tailor it specifically to your family! Normally this package is $89 (per family…not per person or per day), but we are currently offering it to Mod Housewife readers for 25% off! Just mention where you saw us. Oh and we also will help you find the best dates and right vacation package (including resort, tickets and dining) for you at no cost!! You can read more tips and hints from me on my blog – TravelsInNeverland.com!

Magically Yours,
Miranda!