Sara’s Snippets – April 8, 2015 – ‘Captain EO’ to Close Temporarily

Greetings fellow Mouse Fans!

"Captain EO", the 3D film starring the late Michael Jackson, will make way temporarily for previews of the upcoming "Tomorrowland" film starring George Clooney. "Captain EO" will close on April 9, 2015 and will return at an unspecified date after "Tomorrowland" premiers in late May. 

Be well and make magic wherever you go!

Sara Varney
Travel Planner

CAPTAIN EO:  "Captain EO," the 17-minute, classic 3-D film experience starring Michael Jackson that entertained audiences at Epcot from 1986-1994, is now showing again daily at Epcot.

Photo Courtesy of Disney®

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Sara’s Snippets – April 2, 2015 – Disney Cruise Line Updates Onboard Booking Policy

Greetings fellow Mouse Fans!

The best place to book a Disney Cruise is onboard a Disney Cruise Line ship! Booking your next cruise onboard allows guests to take advantage of perks such as discounts, onboard credits, or reduced deposit. (Offer varies by itinerary booked.) Guests have up to 24 months to travel on this onboard booking. Up until recently, guests had to choose a date for their future cruise, forcing them to either guess or pick a random date, knowing they would be changing the reservation eventually. 

Disney Cruise Line now offers guests taking advantage of the Onboard Booking Offer the ability to book a "Placeholder" reservation with no date attached. This placeholder reservation requires a $200 deposit per booking and guests still have 24 months to sail on this reservation. Black out dates and other restrictions apply. 

Be well and make magic wherever you go!

Sara Varney
Travel Planner

Disney Dream at Castaway Cay

Photo Courtesy of Disney Cruise Line®

 

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Sara’s Snippets – April 1, 2015 – Aunt Polly’s on Tom Sawyer Island

Greetings fellow Mouse Fans!

It's not an April Fool's joke – guests at the Magic Kingdom this week were surprised to discover that Aunt Polly's on Tom Sawyer Island in the Magic Kingdom is open for business! This location has been closed for years. Currently, Aunt Polly's is only scheduled to be open until April 11, 2015 but this may be a sign of things to come if it proves to be popular. 

The menu includes a Turkey Sandwich, Hummus with Vegetable Chips, Potato Chips, Fruit, and beverage offerings such as Lemonade and Iced Tea. 

Also open until April 11, 2015 is the Diamond Horseshoe Saloon. Counter service at lunch time, at dinner it converts to a table service location with a menu suspiciously close to that of Liberty Tree Tavern. You know, the restaurant that will be closing for an extended refurbishment beginning July 6? Hmmmmm….

Be well and make magic wherever you go!

Sara Varney
Travel Planner

Harper's Mill on Tom Sawyer Island sitting across from Liberty Square Riverboat at night

Photo Courtesy of Disney®

 

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Sara’s Snippets – March 26, 2016 – Changes Coming to Innoventions West

Greetings fellow Mouse Fans!

One of our favorite mid-afternoon, "Let's get out of the sun" breaks while at Epcot has always been Innoventions. My son especially enjoys "The Great Piggy Bank Race Presented by T. Rowe Price", an interactive game where you take a physical piggy bank through a series of virtual adventures. Oblivious to the lesson about saving money, my son simply loves playing the video games and watching the pig disappear at the end. Sadly, it turns out he has played his last piggy!

Innoventions West will be closing in early May 2015 for a complete re-imagining. The three current tenants – The Great Piggy Bank Race, Think by IBM, and "Where's the Fire? Presented by Liberty Mutual", will not be returning. No announcement yet about what is going in next but I am looking forward to it!

Be well and make magic wherever you go!

Sara Varney
Travel Planner

Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival

Photo Courtesy of Disney®

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Sara’s Snippets – March 25, 2016 – Disney Cruise Line Announces Summer 2016 Itineraries

Greetings fellow Mouse Fans!

Disney Cruise Line has announced the destinations for Summer 2016 and they are AMAZING! The Disney Magic will be visiting 15 countries in Europe – that's countries, not ports! New itineraries include a 12-night British Isles cruise, a new 12-night Iceland and Norway cruise, and a 7-night Norwegian Fjords cruise that departs from Dover. 

The Disney Cruise Line will also be returning to the Mediterranean and Greek Isles, Alaska, the Caribbean, and the Bahamas! 

Gold and Platinum Castaway Club members can begin booking to day. Silver Castaway Club Members and first-time cruisers can book beginning Thursday, March 26, 2015. Contact your MEI-Travel & Mouse Fan Travel Planner today!

Be well and make magic wherever you go!

Sara Varney
Travel Planner

Disney Cruise Line Charts New Course for British Isles

Photo Courtesy of Disney®

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Sara’s Snippets – March 19, 2015 – Dining Onboard the Disney Dream

Greetings fellow Mouse Fans!

Cruising is my favorite vacation for many reasons but let's be clear… Food is probably my absolute favorite thing about cruising! And it is available in abundance onboard the Disney Dream. 

Delicious food is important to a great meal but even the best food can be marred by sub-par service. I am pleased to say that on a Disney Cruise, the service is potentially even better than the food! Your servers rotate through the main dining rooms with you. They get to know your family – your likes, dislikes, food allergies – and truly become part of your cruise experience. Our servers were Madara and Richard and my son is still asking if we can PLEASE have them again on our next cruise! They quickly learned my son's love of puzzles and Madara had a new one each night for him, each more challenging than the next. (Richard was quick with a hint if we got stuck!) From charming napkin hats to closely monitoring my food allergies, they were the dining team version of Mary Poppins – practically perfect in every way. 

But back to the food. It is everywhere! From the welcome aboard buffet in Cabana (ohhhh the seafood….), to 24 hour room service, to the self-serve, soft-serve ice cream on deck 11, to the unique and delectable options at Palo & Remy, there is simply no excuse to EVER be hungry on a Disney ship! 

But on this cruise, my personal favorite had to be brunch at Palo. Available on sea days for guests 18+, this meal is not to be missed. Our server Julia (or possibly Jennifer – the good food fogged my brain!) from England was charming and courteous and had the best advice on what to eat. She insisted we be sure to try the Chicken Parmigiana and the Gorgonzola and Grape Pizza. Mental note – from now on, order whatever she says!!! They practically had to roll us out of there but it was worth every calorie. 

I'm ready to go back. If you would like to experience a Disney Cruise for yourself, please contact your favorite Mouse Fan Travel Planner today!

Be well and make magic wherever you go!

Sara Varney
Travel Planner

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The grape and gorgonzola pizza at Palo Brunch

 

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A sampling from the dessert buffet at Palo brunch

 

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My son enjoying the sushi from Cabanas

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Sara’s Snippets – March 18, 2015 – Be Our Guest Breakfast

Greetings fellow Mouse Fans!

Be Our Guest in the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World, will be testing a prix fixe breakfast service from March 20 – June 18, 2015. Breakfast will be served from 8:00 am – 10:00 am daily. The restaurant will be "fast casual", similar to the lunch service at Be Our Guest, and will be one Quick Service credit on the Dining Plan. 

The menu is French-inspired. All meals begin with a shared pastry basket. Guests choose their entree from selections such as Eggs Florentine, a meat and cheese plate served with a baguette, or an open faced bacon and egg sandwich with brie. Breakfast finishes off on a sweet note with the Croissant Donut topped with banana caramel sauce, chocolate ganache and whipped cream!

Reservations are currently being accepted through My Disney Experience, online at www.disneyworld.com/dine, or by phone at 407-WDW-DINE. 

Be well and make magic wherever you go!

Sara Varney
Travel Planner

chacha738834

Photo Courtesy of Disney®

 

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Sara’s Snippets – March 12, 2015 – Cabana at Castaway Cay

Greetings fellow Mouse Fans!

On our recent cruise onboard the Disney Dream, we were lucky enough to secure a Cabana for our day at Castaway Cay. Having had a Cabana on my last few cruises, there is simply no going back! The Cabanas are booked as a Port Adventure in your reservation on the Disney Cruise website.

When you can begin Online Check In and reserve Port Adventures is based on how many times you have sailed with Disney Cruise Line. Platinum cruisers (10+ cruises) can book 120 days prior to sailing, Gold cruisers (6+ cruises) can book 105 days prior to sailing, and Silver cruises (1 – 5 cruises) can book 90 days prior to sailing. First time cruises can book 75 days prior to sailing. 

I am a Gold Castaway Club member but even at 105 days in advance – the Cabanas were all sold out! This is a frequent occurence as they are VERY POPULAR. But I persisted, checking back every few days, and was rewarded when one became available closer to sailing. 

Why are the Cabanas so coveted? In my opinion, it is because they help you to get the most out of your day on Castaway Cay. Family Cabanas include not just your private, spacious cabana with plenty of space to lounge, relax, and gather with your family but a mini-fridge fully stocked with water and soft drinks, snacks, sunscreen, magazines, a changing area, safe for your valuables, and a Cabana attendant should you need refills on anything or to order adult or specialty beverages but also access to the private beach, float and tube rentals, snorkel gear rentals, a 1-hour bike rental, and even your own hammock. 

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My son enjoying the float and the uncrowded waters of the private beach

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The REALLY uncrowded waters of the private beach

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Getting in some hammock time. "Getting in" being the operative words

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A panoramic view from the private beach

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My husband enjoying lunch from the nearby Cookies Too

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My son contemplating which specialty kids drink to order. 

While the price tag on a Cabana can be a bit startling (about $600 with current tax rates, subject to change), even for our family of three, that is only about $200 per person. Less than a Dolphin Swim at Atlantis! And with all of the inclusions – bike rental, snorkel gear, float, etc., I think it is one of the best deals available while on your Disney Cruise. 

Be well and make magic wherever you go!

Sara Varney
Travel Planner

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Sara’s Snippets – March 11, 2015 – 24 hour ‘Coolest Summer Ever’ Party Announced

Greetings fellow Mouse Fans!

Are you as sick of winter as I am? Good news! Walt Disney World will be kicking off summer with a 24-hour "Coolest Summer Ever" Party at the Magic Kingdom on May 22-23, 2015! The Magic Kingdom will be open to guests starting at 6:00 am on May 22, and will remain open until 6:00 am on May 23, 2015. Guests are encouraged to dress to "Show Your Disney Side" while enjoying select attractions, exclusive entertainment, character appearances, food and drink, and more!

Contact your favorite Mouse Fan Travel Planner today to join in on all the fun at Disney Parks this summer. 

Stay tuned… rumor has it Disneyland may be getting in on the fun as well! 

Be well and make magic wherever you go!

Sara Varney
Travel Planner

NOI749702443

Photo Courtesy of Disney®
 

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Sara’s Snippets – March 5, 2015 – Disney Dream Stateroom

Greetings fellow Mouse Fans!

After an enjoyable 45 minute drive to Port Canaveral (is there anything better than the first sight of your ship when you reach the top of that hill leading to the Port?), we checked in, picked up our son's MagicBand for the Oceaneer's Lab, and boarded the ship! 

I'll get to the food in a future post but suffice it to say, the lunch buffet upon boarding is my favorite part of the first day!

Once we had satisfied our hunger, it was off to the stateroom. We had booked a Category 4E – Deluxe Family Stateroom with Oversized Verandah. The oversized verandah is WELL worth the investment! It gave us plenty of space to enjoy quality outside time reading, lounging, and watching the sun rise and set. 

Our location on Deck 5 was right above the Buena Vista theater and while this may be cause for concern for some, fear not. The room was quiet! And very convenient. On the same deck as the Oceaneer's Club/Lab, the Port Adventures desk and more, it was just a short walk to almost everything. 

Our room attendant, Marisa, was a delight. Returning to our rooms each evening, we were greeted by creative towel animals, and enticing turned down beds. 

Most Disney Cruise Line staterooms feature the popular split bathrooms – which makes getting ready for dinner each night so much easier! 

Up next… Castaway Cay!

Be well and make magic wherver you go!

Sara Varney
Travel Planner

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Our Stateroom and my favorite of the towel animals!

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