May 21, 2017

Disney World – 5 Reasons to Stay at a Disney Property

When it comes to where to stay for your Walt Disney World vacation, it may seem like you have a million options. There are the many Disney owned resorts and the many, many neighboring hotels in the area. Where should you stay? If you want the overall best experience, you’ll want to stay onsite at the Disney own resorts, and here’s why:

1.) Transportation/Parking: When staying at a Disney resort, you get free transportation from the airport and back. In addition, you get free transportation on a frequent, regular schedule from your resort to all of the parks. If you decide to rent a car anyway, parking at the parks is free for resort guests. All of this adds up to savings AND convenience. While some offsite hotels offer shuttles, most are not very frequent and quite a few don’t start going until AFTER the park opens (which is not good at all, see here for why).

2.) Dining Reservations/Dining Plan: Guests who are staying at a Disney resort are allowed to book their dining reservations at 180 days like everyone else PLUS 10 days of their trip. So while offsite guests are booking reservations one day at a time, you’ll book the full length of your trip (up to 10 days) all at once. Why does this matter? The most popular restaurants are snapped up in a flash and the onsite guests frequently use this advantage to completely take up those reservations – leaving offsite guests out of luck. And then there’s the Disney Dining Plan which is only for guests of the Disney resorts. This plans is very convenient, a great stress reliever for some, and often a savings over paying out of pocket.

3.) FastPass+ reservations: FastPass+ allows you to reserve 3 attractions per day in advance of your stay. The key here is that onsite guests get to do this 60 days in advance, while offsite guests only get to do this at 30 days in advance. Why does it matter? The most popular attractions, including Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, Frozen Ever After and Flights of Passage are often completely booked up by the 30 day mark. This can leave you in incredibly long lines.

 

4.) Afternoon Breaks: One of the great things about staying onsite is that it’s quick and easy to return to your resort for a break. The parks are huge and a lot of walking is involved. Especially in hotter times of year and especially with children in tow, the ability to exit the parks for a bit in the heat of the sun and height of the lines for a refreshing break back at your resort can feel priceless. Most offsite hotels simply take too long to get to, with having to take a parking tram to your car, commute time, finding parking upon return and so forth.

5.)  The Disney touch: When your resort can be as magical as the parks, that’s something special. Many people find the resorts end up being a really big part of the fun on their vacation. Resorts can be whimsical or beautiful, depending on your preference. Many have fantastic pools with super fun water slides. The fun of the themes combined with the world renowned Disney service makes your vacation feel truly like an escape from the every day. So while there are many hotels in the Orlando area, for the least stress and the most fun, you’ll find that the onsite Disney World hotels may make the most sense for you!

Looking for help in selecting the best resort and other components for your Disney vacation? Not sure how you’re going to figure out all the dining and FastPass+ reservations and how to make it through your days without long lines and stress? That’s what we’re here for!

Ready to learn more about any of these options? Visit our website to connect with us for more information!

sabrina-enchanted-travelerThis post was written by Sabrina Tinius, a specialist in planning Disney vacations for families who want less stress and more time making memories that last a lifetime. 

Through her in depth destination knowledge, park touring strategies and incredibly detailed planning, Sabrina is here to help you have a more enjoyable Disney vacation — while saving you tons of time and stress. And when she’s not busy crafting amazing Disney vacations, you can find her hanging out with her two awesome kids, taking family vacations of her own, and occasionally baking up a storm in her Seattle area kitchen. 

Meet Sabrina and get ready to experience just how amazing a well planned Disney vacation can be at www.theenchantedtraveler.com.

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Want to learn more about Disney Vacation planning? Check out our past posts on the topic :

May 17, 2017

Great Wolf Lodge – Up to 50% off your stay, as low as $119

Living Social - Great Wolf Lodge

Living Social – Great Wolf Lodge Discounts

Right now over on Living Social you can find Great Wolf Lodge discounts up to 50% off – as low as $119, depending on your location.

  • Book to stay between May 17 and July 13.
  • You may have the maximum number of guests in any room for no additional fee with this voucher.
  • Daily water park passes for each registered guest up to the maximum room occupancy are included in all options.  You can enter the water park at 1 p.m. on the day you check in and stay until close on the day you check out (essentially 2 days’ water park admission). And since there are no day passes for outside visitors, resort guests have exclusive access and won’t get stuck in long lines.
  • A $50 nightly dining credit is included with the Wolf Den or KidKamp Suite, KidCabin Suite, and Grand Bear Suite to be used at any of the dining facilities within the resort. (The dining credit is not included with the Family Suite option.)
  • Hands-on crafts and activities such as face painting and balloon twisting can entertain young children when they want a break from the water park action. Explore activities by age group here.

If you’re in the Pacific Northwest, the Grand Mound Great Wolf Lodge location in Washington has a ton of choices, starting at $159.

  • A One-Night Stay for Up to 6 People in a Family Suite, Sundays to Thursdays ($159)
  • Or, a One-Night Stay for Up to 6 People in a Wolf Den or Kid Kamp with a $50 Dining Credit, Sundays to Thursdays ($219)
  • Or, a One-Night Stay for Up to 6 People in a Wolf Den or Kid Kamp with a $50 Dining Credit, Fridays ($319)
  • Or, a One-Night Stay for Up to 7 People in a KidCabin Suite with a $50 Dining Credit, Sundays to Thursdays ($239)
  • Or, a One-Night Stay for Up to 7 People in a KidCabin Suite with a $50 Dining Credit, Fridays ($339)
  • Or, a One-Night Stay for Up to 8 People in a Grand Bear Suite with a $50 Dining Credit, Sundays to Thursdays ($299)
  • Or, a One-Night Stay for Up to 8 People in a Grand Bear Suite with a $50 Dining Credit, Fridays ($439)

Whatever location you select, make sure and read the fine print to make sure the deal works for you!  Prices vary by location and the type of package that you select.

See all Great Wolf Lodge Discounts here

April 24, 2017

Great Wolf Lodge Groupon Discount – as low as $119/night

Great-Wolf-Lodge-Discounts-Jan-18

If you’ve been waiting for a discount on the Great Wolf Lodge – it’s back on Groupon!  See all Great Wolf Lodge offers here – discounts available nationwide. Prices vary by location and the type of package that you select. Some locations are as low as $119/night.

For those of you in Washington, here is a discount for the Great Wolf Lodge – Grand Mound location. You can choose from FOUR options for the Grand Mound, Washington – as low as $159/night with a one-night minimum.   See all Grand Mound options here.

Make sure and read the fine print on the offer to make sure that it works for you!

What You Get

  • Stay for six in a Family Suite, Wolf Den Suite, or KidKamp Suite, seven in a KidCabin Suite, or eight in a Grand Bear Suite
  • Daily water park wristbands for each registered guest up to maximum occupants per room type
  • Select options include $50 dining credit per night, valid at any onsite restaurant (dining credit not included with Family Suite option)
  • May have the maximum number of guests in room option purchased for no additional fee
  • Dates into July

Policies and Fees

  • Reservations: Dates cannot be changed once booked; valid only for night(s) purchased.
  • Cancellation policy: 4-day cancellation notice required prior to check-in or reservation is non-refundable; reservations made within cancellation window are non-refundable.
  • Additional fees: $29.99 daily resort fee plus tax added at purchase.
  • Rates may vary by date and are subject to availability.

No-shows will be charged total Groupon rate; no refunds, rescheduling, or rebooking allowed.

See all Great Wolf Lodge discounts here

March 26, 2017

Visiting Disney Parks in Summer? You MUST Read This First!

Visiting Disney Parks in Summer? You MUST Read This First!

If you have kids in school (or if you are a teacher!), summer may be one of the only times you can take a vacation. This doesn’t change things much when your destination is a beach or a national park. When it comes to Disney theme park destinations, however, this can be a bit intimidating. You might have heard about the heat and the crowds, and while those are very real factors, you CAN have an amazing summer vacation with the right kind of plans and know how! Don’t let the fear stop you from finally taking that Disney family vacation!

First of all, let’s talk crowds. Yes, a lot of people go to Disney World or Disneyland in the summer. That’s because they’re just like you and this is the easiest time for them to travel with their kids. Not all summer weeks are created equal, though. Because some schools get out later than others and some schools start their school year earlier than others, the more crowded weeks lay in the middle. If you have the luck of a later starting school, the last two weeks of August typically bring lower crowds to the parks than the others. (And, as a bonus, these also often price out lower as well!)

disney-world-plan-ahead-resorts

Heat is another factor a lot of people worry about. Summer is, of course, the hottest time of year, but this doesn’t mean you need to just give up and plan to melt all day long. There are a couple of ways to help you stay cool:

  • Plan on starting your day early.
  • Arrive to the parks before they open so you can get a jump start on the fun while the temperatures are lowest.
  • Bring along self-cooling towels or a misting fan to cool you down as the temperatures rise.
  • Bring along plenty of sunblock – you won’t want to buy it in the parks! And a sunburn will really put a damper on your fun.
  • Stay hydrated! Drink lots of water, these kid’s CamelBak backpacks are great!
  • Plan to exit the parks after lunch to get out of the mid-day high heats and chill in your resort pool or take a quick nap in your air conditioned room. Then, head back into the parks as the sun starts to lower and the temperature starts to drop.

Along with that famous summer heat, if Disney World is your destination, afternoon thunder storms are common. This doesn’t have to detract from your plans. If you are heading back to your resort as discussed above, you’ll generally not be in the parks during these rain showers anyway. But if you get caught in a quick storm, being prepared means you get to go on having fun while everyone else scrambles for cover! Pack small, disposable ponchos with you! These ponchos, which can be found in the camping section in most stores, fold up incredible small so easily fit in a purse or backpack. If it starts to rain, throw it on and continue your day without batting an eye!

And what about lines? Yes, it’s true, the wait times can get very, very long on a summer day. Arriving early to beat the heat also places you at an advantage for lines, but only if you know how to use it. This takes planning ahead to figure out where to go when, to avoid arriving at rides at their peak wait times. You will want to consider how FastPasses work (different for Disneyland vs Disney World) and how best to take advantage of them. Having a well laid ride plan will drastically minimize your wait time. (Not sure how to do that? Hire a Disney expert to do that for you!)

If summer is your family vacation time, the Disney Parks are still a wonderful option for you! When you’ve got a fun plan to work with the heat, avoid the crowds as much as possible and navigate those lines, you’ll have the amazing adventure you’ve been hoping for!

Ready to learn more about any of these options? Visit our website to connect with us for more information!

sabrina-enchanted-travelerThis post was written by Sabrina Tinius, a specialist in planning Disney vacations for families who want less stress and more time making memories that last a lifetime. 

Through her in depth destination knowledge, park touring strategies and incredibly detailed planning, Sabrina is here to help you have a more enjoyable Disney vacation — while saving you tons of time and stress. And when she’s not busy crafting amazing Disney vacations, you can find her hanging out with her two awesome kids, taking family vacations of her own, and occasionally baking up a storm in her Seattle area kitchen. 

Meet Sabrina and get ready to experience just how amazing a well planned Disney vacation can be at www.theenchantedtraveler.com.

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Want to learn more about Disney Vacation planning? Check out our past posts on the topic :

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February 26, 2017

Which Disney Vacation is Right for You? Let’s discuss!

Which Disney Vacation is Right for You?

Perhaps you know you want to go on a Disney vacation but you just aren’t sure which Disney property or vacation is best for you. Maybe you have already visited one of the theme parks, or maybe this is your first Disney vacation with the family. Either way, there are a lot of options for a magical vacation, and here are some tips for finding the vacation for your needs and wants. . .

Disneyland
Where the magic began! A lot of families in the west half of the country start with Disneyland. A smaller park, it often feels more doable to first time families, and for those on the West Coast it’s certainly easier to get to. Disneyland Resort is made up of two theme parks: Disneyland and California Adventure. Situated right across from each other, this destination makes it easy to stay and play, with no transportation needed. There’s fun for all ages in both parks, and the Southern California location means that it’s easy to add some days at a nearby beach or in San Diego for more attractions such as SeaWorld.

Families who have visited Walt Disney World in the past might wonder if it’s worth a trip to what they perceive to be a much smaller theme park. While it’s true that it’s smaller, it’s also incredibly charming and big Disney fans will love the history and the feeling of being where it all began!

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February 18, 2017

Northwest Trek – FREE kids admission with adult, This weekend!

FREE KIDS N’ CRITTERS EVENT

This weekend, February 18 – 20, Northwest Trek is hosting Kids n Critters – with FREE admission for up to 4 kids (ages 12 and under) per paying adult or senior. Guests can join a kid-friendly, 30-minute Discovery Tram Tour to spy on moose, bison, elk, and other herd animals roaming freely through a 435-acre natural habitat.

In the past, they’ve also offered FREE activities, crafts, and special trailside encounters. Are you planning to head to this event?

February 10, 2017

Northwest Trek – FREE kids admission with adult, Feb. 18 – 20

FREE KIDS N’ CRITTERS EVENT

Save the date! February 18 – 20, 2017, Northwest Trek is hosting Kids n Critters – with FREE admission for up to 4 kids (ages 12 and under) per paying adult or senior. Guests can join a kid-friendly, 30-minute Discovery Tram Tour to spy on moose, bison, elk, and other herd animals roaming freely through a 435-acre natural habitat.

In the past, they’ve also offered FREE activities, crafts, and special trailside encounters. Are you planning to head to this event?

January 15, 2017

5 Reasons to Plan Ahead for Disney World

disney-world-plan-ahead-because

5 Reasons to Plan Ahead for Disney World

There’s no rule that you have to plan a Disney World vacation far in advance, but those in the know make sure to plan their Disney World vacation with plenty of notice. Why? The early bird gets the worm is a very accurate statement here. From better dining to better days in the parks, read on to find out why you should plan ahead, too!

beauty-beast-castle-feast

1.) Dining reservations. Ever hear of people dining inside of Cinderella Castle? Or maybe a lovely meal at Be Our Guest, in the Beast’s castle? Famously popular restaurants like these book up very early. How early? Dining reservations open up 180 days in advance at 6 a.m. EST. And the most popular restaurants can book up in the blink of an eye, especially during busy seasons. For the best number of choices, having your trip booked before the 180 mark is smart. Plus, those staying onsite get the perk of being able to make dining reservations on that 180th day for up to 10 days forward…something offsite guests don’t get to do.

disney-world-plan-ahead-resorts

2.) Resort choices. It’s true, Disney has a lot of resorts to choose from. But not all of them will be the right fit for you, and occupancy levels are high at Disney resorts. This means that some resorts can book up as you get closer to the trip dates. And even within a resort you like, specific room categories can sell out.

3.) Discount availability. When a discount is released, it’s for a limited time and limited rooms. If you wait too long, the discount will end and rack rate is all that is left. Worried about booking before a discount comes out? For those booking with a specialist, these discounts can be watched for and applied to existing bookings if the discount is available for the dates and room type.

ariel-salon

4.) Special activities. Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique makeovers in the castle, Pirate and Pals Fireworks Cruise, special dessert parties – these special activities require reservations and do book up. Sitting down to look at your days and deciding if and when you’d like to do these (or getting personalized advice from your travel consultant) will allow you to have reservations made early, with the best chance for availability remaining.

rides-disney-world

5.) FastPass+. For Disney World, you are given the opportunity to reserve three FastPass+ reservations per park day. These are essentially like ride reservations where you bypass the longer lines and are a very important part of having a strategy for a smoother experience. These open 60 days in advance of your arrival for onsite guests and 30 days in advance for offsite guests. Some of the most popular rides can book up completely at that point in time, especially during the busy season. (Not sure what makes sense to reserve? Have an expert plan your days based on your overall goals to ensure the least waits in line!)

So if you’re thinking summer or fall sounds far away right now, but you know you want to visit Disney World then, it’s not actually far at all! In the world of Disney planning, right now is the best time to get started!

Psssst! Did you just read this and panic a little bit (or a lot) because you were hoping to go this winter or spring? Send me an email – I’m really good at last minute planning when needed!

sabrina-enchanted-travelerThis post was written by Sabrina Tinius, a specialist in planning Disney vacations for families who want less stress and more time making memories that last a lifetime. 

Through her in depth destination knowledge, park touring strategies and incredibly detailed planning, Sabrina is here to help you have a more enjoyable Disney vacation — while saving you tons of time and stress. And when she’s not busy crafting amazing Disney vacations, you can find her hanging out with her two awesome kids, taking family vacations of her own, and occasionally baking up a storm in her Seattle area kitchen. 

Meet Sabrina and get ready to experience just how amazing a well planned Disney vacation can be at www.theenchantedtraveler.com.

disney-posts-planning

Want to learn more about Disney Vacation planning? Check out our past posts on the topic :

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