Taking a Disney Cruise is the Perfect Family Vacation

Disney Cruise Lines the perfect family vacation.
Disney Cruise Lines

Now is a good time to start thinking about your winter vacation.  There are a lot of options to choose from when it comes to a cruise.  Many people feel that a cruise is not always the best option for a family vacation, and before we took our first Disney Cruise, we may have agreed.  But ever since our very first Disney Cruise, we were hooked and never travel with anyone else.  We have taken the standard Caribbean cruises that most Americans love to escape the cold.  Last year my daughter and I took a Norwegian cruise which was nothing short of amazing.  

Disney Cruise Line offers something for everyone and there are a few things to know when you are looking at all those options.  Discover the Disney Difference.  

  • There are specific areas and activities for every age group, so you can enjoy a little free time when you enroll your children in age-appropriate activities.  Children ages 6 months through 17 years can learn and play in larger-than-life play spaces fueled by Disney storytelling. Led by trained counselors, kids from toddlers to teens can share in the Disney excitement with other kids, while enjoying Character Greetings, games, arts and crafts, and themed parties.
  • There are adult-only areas on board all Disney ships.  This is important to know for those who want to enjoy a Disney experience but without the children.
  • There are countless Disney character encounters.  Children and adults alike will have great photo opportunities with the Princess of their choice.  
  • There are nightclubs and lounges to meet every taste.  
  • Disney has its own island.  Castaway Cay, Disney’s private island is reserved exclusively for Disney Cruise Line Guests on Bahamian and Caribbean cruises.
  • Disney Cruise Lines offers fireworks at sea.  Disney is known for their amazing fireworks shows and they carry it out to sea for guests to enjoy.  
  • Enjoy a “pirate party” at sea.  Pack your pirate gear and get into the pirate spirit and enjoy a pirate evening.  
  • With all the activities available on the ship, it may be hard to leave for excursions.  However booking excursions through Disney will not disappoint.  They carefully vet the vendors and ensure the best guest experience possible.

Disney Cruise lines offer something for everyone in the family with the added bonus of being able to see and experience new sites.  

If you are ready for your next vacation email Sharon for information about FREE vacation planning.  

10 Things to Pack for A Disney Parks Vacation

 

Epcot in the Spring

Disney Parks are a must for almost anyone to visit at least once.  In Florida, where the four Disney Parks are located, the sun shines most of the year making Disney Parks an ideal place to visit if one is coming from almost anywhere.  Like any climate, however, it is a good idea to do a little research and plan what additional items might be good to take along.  A well-planned vacation can be completely ruined by forgetting to pack a few small, but essential items.  

  • Sunscreen – Even when traveling in the winter months it is a very good idea to bring along some sunscreen.  Being so far south means the sun is very intense and one can burn very quickly.  It is possible to get very warm weather, even in the winter months and in the rest of the year, it is easy to burn even in the morning sun.  
  • Raincoats, umbrellas or ponchos – In the winter months, Florida has what would be considered the rainy season and it is quite possible to encounter quite a bit of rain.  In the fall rain is possible but not nearly as cool.  If it is not possible to pack these extra items, Disney is prepared, offering ponchos and umbrellas for sale for $5 or $10 each.  
  • Proper walking shoes – Disney parks are extensive and it is not uncommon to walk 5-10 miles in a day, so fit flops and high heels, however comfortable they are in other instances, will lead to a very painful experience.
  • Allergy medication – With all the sunshine and rain in Florida, it is not uncommon for the heartiest of individuals to experience allergies, no matter what season so throwing in a little allergy medication may make the trip more pleasant. 
  • Band aids and blister shield- With all the walking it is not uncommon to develop blisters even in shoes one commonly wears.  The high humidity and the additional walking combine to create perfect conditions for blisters.
  • Advil – With all the additional activity, aches and pains can develop, Advil will come in handy.
  • Swim suits – although most people think of spending all their time in the parks, it is nice to take a break and let everyone enjoy the pools available at all the Disney resorts.  
  • Charging stations – although this is not a necessity, with all the devices that we all carry having a charging station will optimize the electrical outlets in any of the Disney resort rooms.  
  • Hats – Just as sunscreen is a good idea, a hat will also ensure some additional sun protection.  
  • Layers of clothing – Winter in Florida can range from cool to cold.  We have traveled to Disney World when it has been sunny and pleasant all day and cool enough for a sweater in the evening.  And we have also been to Disney World when we have felt we needed a parka.  The humidity in Florida makes cool seem cold and warm seem hot.  It is a good practice to follow the Orlando area weather for a couple of weeks before your trip to help you get a feel for the type of clothing you need.  

Although I live in Texas where the weather is generally pretty nice, Florida is one of my favorite places to visit, not for the weather but it is a fun and unique state.  The entire state is beautiful and green. If one drives to their vacation there is plenty to do and see along the way.  Adding a few items to your bags will prevent vacationers from needing to find them while on vacation in the parks.

 

Choosing A Disney Resort When Visiting Disney World

Walt Disney World at Night
Walt Disney World at Night

Now that you have decided to visit Disney World it’s time to book your accommodation.  Many people immediately dismiss staying at a Disney resort because they assume it will be too expensive.   That is simply no longer the case.  Disney has created a resort for every budget and preference, including those who like to camp.  

Folks who drive to the area will often stay off property assuming that they have their own vehicle and.they can get to the park easily.  Others will fly into the area and rent a vehicle assuming that resorts and hotels will be much cheaper off the property.   Again with the new line of value resorts available from Disney, it is no longer necessary to stay off property to get a competitive price on accommodation.  

Whether you are flying into the area or driving, staying at a Disney resort has many advantages that must be considered when planning their Disney vacation.

  •   Staying at a Disney resort offers the closest proximity to the parks, dining, and shopping.
  • When staying at any of the Disney resorts, you have access to free bus transportation from resorts to any of the parks.  You can get the family up at a reasonable hour, have a leisurely breakfast and proceed to your choice of parks in time for park opening without having to battle Orlando’s commute.
  • There is a Disney resort for every budget. Whether you were interested in a value resort, a moderate resort, or a luxury resort and spa, Disney can accommodate all of your needs.
  • When you stay at a Disney property you are more likely to take advantage of either the early morning or late night extra magic hours that the parks offer.  This greatly enhances your Disney experience because you are in the parks when they are less crowded.  This is very important during peak seasons.
  • Leaving the park at the end of a day is much easier. If you decide to stay until closing and you are staying off property you will need to find your vehicle, get into the lineup and will follow the traffic out of the park, which could take a large amount of time, based on the size of the Disney parking lots.  However, if you are staying at a Disney resort you merely need to find the bus that takes you to your resort and you leave the park casually with everyone else. 

Staying at a Disney resort offers another element of magic to your Disney vacation.  Not only are they conveniently located, but they offer special amenities that only Disney can dream up.  Let me help you plan your next Disney magical experience. 

Why Do I Need a Free Vacation Planner for Disney World?

The Castle

A few years ago when I first heard about travel planning for Disney destinations, I was skeptical that anyone would really need such a service.  I mean really, you go to the park, get a ticket and ride some rides.  Right?  That was before I understood just how much Disney World parks and destinations have grown and changed.  We visit Disney World at least twice a year and are surprised at the changes that happen in a six-month period.  Disney is not just about entertaining kids anymore, it is about creating an experience for families that they will want to repeat again and again.  

By using the services of a Vacation Planner who works exclusively with Disney destinations, you are working with someone who has dialed in their expertise to all things Disney. They can help you plan a vacation that allows everyone in your group to receive exactly what they want from their vacation, from Grandma to the youngest princess.  

Vacation Planners can save you a lot of time in research and booking.  What you have to Google is readily available to a vacation planner through their agents portal.  They can tell you where to find Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique and why that is important.  They can also tell you how to use your meal plan, and create your fast passes.  All these things are simple once you get the hang of it, but can be overwhelming if you have never been to Walt Disney World.  

When you are working with a vacation planner you save money.  If you plan your vacation for October and buy your package, you may not know when changes come up that might save you money.  A planner will have their eye on your vacation right up until it is finished and will hone in on those details.  They can also tell you if there is a new activity going on in the parks during your stay that you may not get informed of until it is too late to take advantage of it.  

As a travel planner with Ears of Experience, I will help you with the details and answer questions that will make your trip worry free.  Ears of Experience has put in place systems and checklists to help their clients know exactly when to start booking meal reservations, transportation, fast passes and so on.  When your life gets hectic we are on top of the details of your vacation.  So when you are ready to go on your next Disney Adventure, let me know. 

You can contact me anytime.  

Disney’s Hollywood Studios – Get the Most from the Park

Street in Hollywood Studios
Hollywood Studios Street

Disney’s Hollywood Studios is a great place to visit for all the “movie buffs” who visit the Magic Kingdom.  There is fine dining, exciting, movie-themed shows and, by all accounts, some great roller coasters.  It is also in close proximity to Epcot on foot or by boat.  

Epcot is home to my favorite attraction Toy Story Mania.  It is not easy to get into because it is so popular, but it is well worth the wait.  I am not a “roller coaster” person but there are some thrilling coaster style rides in this park.  

Here are a few things we have found helpful when coming to this park:

  • Disney’s Hollywood Studios is an open and airy park with minimal foliage and can be very hot.  Be sure you to drink plenty of water and plan to take your time through this park.
  • Make sure you plan your fast passes to include your favorite rides because it can be difficult to get rides link Toy Story Mania.
  • We like to come early for this park because it really does seem less busy and we will often plan a meal at Epcot so we can just take a scenic boat ride and come in the back door to Epcot.
  • Take a break at the Starbucks which is near the entrance to the park.  We usually do a few rides and then take a break with an iced drink.  
  • All the parks have great foods, but we do enjoy the healthy choice quick service options at this park, so take the time to check out your choices.  

Whether you are a movie buff or love roller coasters Hollywood Studios is a really fun park with plenty to do to keep you entertained.  Since we are not roller coaster people, we spend most of the day at this park and then take the boat (or walk depending on heat) to Epcot.  You will learn to do Hollywood Studios your way when you make your own mouse magic.

Contact me to help you plan your Disney Destination, it’s FREE and can save you money. 

Around the World with Disney’s Epcot Park

 

Lightning McQueen one of the amazing topiaries at Epcot Park

Disney’s Epcot or Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow, as Walt Disney thought of it, was Walt’s vision of what communities or cities of the future would look like.  Walt Disney was a dreamer and his imagination produced a place for all of us to enjoy the fun of a theme park and the culture of the world showcase.  

Epcot offers something for everyone in the family.  There are thrilling rides like Test Track and Mission Space,  calmer rides like the Seas with Nemo and  Friends, funny rides like Ellen’s Universe of Energy and my personal favorite, Soarin’.   From the rides, you can move on to the world showcase and visit pavilions from other countries, all offering a ride, demonstration or movie that teaches visitors a little about the perspective country.  

Like the rest of the Disney parks, it can get busy, especially during the spring for the flower and garden show or the fall during the food and wine festival.  Here are a few of the tips and tricks we have developed to help us get the most of this amazing park.  

  • When you buy your tickets, add the park hopper option because this park has a relaxing vibe to it and we often leave the Magic Kingdom once it gets super busy and drop in to visit the world showcase.  Additionally, many of the pavilions in the World Showcase have amazing restaurants, and even if you don’t do anything else in the park, you may want to come here in the evening for a gourmet dinner.   Reservations are recommended for all the major restaurants so plan ahead. 
  • Like the rest of the parks, visit Epcot early in the morning on the day after extra magic hours.  This will give you the opportunity to get in a lot of rides in a short time.
  • Epcot and Disney’s Hollywood Studios are accessible to one another via vote, so you can start with one and take a relaxing boat ride to the other.  Another reason to get the park hopper option on your tickets.
  • Utilize the Fast Pass system and make sure you set them up as soon as you are able before your trip.  Make sure you get a Fast Pass for Soarin’.  This is probably the most popular ride in the park and it is well worth the advance planning. 
  • If you are going to Epcot in the hot months, take advantage of the cool respite that country pavilions offer.  Most are air conditioned so take your time going around the showcase and stop and enjoy a film or demonstration.   Being from Canada, my favorite is the Canadian pavilion, but all offer insight into different cultures around the world.  
  • Throughout the park there are amazing photo spots, with whimsical topiaries and flowers and shrubbery, take the time to enjoy and photograph this beautiful park.
  • When you first come into the park there is the familiar big ball and inside is the ride Project Tomorrow.  We enjoy that ride very much, but we bypass it when we come in first thing in the morning, because everyone else starts there and the line is long, later on in the day, the lineup is short and you can get in much more quickly.   If it is a super busy time of year it won’t slow down much, but this works most of the time.  
  • And finally for this edition, if you feel like Starbucks, it is located in the center of all the action.   There is almost never a time when it is not busy, so if you want a coffee or treat, just go ahead and do it, the line won’t get shorter, I promise.  As a consolation though, for those on the dining plan, you can get a drink of any kind and any size for one snack point.  That is virtually the only time we order venti drinks.  

Epcot is such a different type of park.  Although there are rides that are fun are exciting, this park gives visitors the option of just walking around and relaxing in a beautiful spot.  Don’t bypass this amazing park.

As always, contact me and let me help you plan your next vacation to any Disney destination.  It’s free and can save you time and money.  

 

Disney’s Animal Kingdom – My Tips for Optimum Fun

    

Rare siting of Male Lion at Disney’s Animal Kingdom

If you follow my Instagram account you know that we love animals.  Just like all of the parks in the Disney family, the Animal Kingdom can get very busy, and it can be challenging to see all the attractions without careful planning.  Over the years we have developed a few tricks for ensuring we see and do what we plan.

If you have never been to the Animal Kingdom park it is important to determine the attractions you are interested in seeing.   The park has all kinds of animals but it also has some cool shows, great roller coasters for your teens and tweens,  a water ride for everyone,  an area just for smaller children,  and now the newest attraction Pandora, to name just a few of the attractions.  We previewed Pandora before it opened and those rides will be contenders for your time.   Each one of the items above deserves its own blog, so what I want to do with this blog is give you some tips to get through the park.

Here are some little tips we have learned for this park:

  • Make sure you utilize the fast pass system for your favorite rides and attractions.  That is the best way to ensure that, in peak seasons, you can get at least 3 of the attractions you really want.
  • Find out in advance the times for the shows.  You can get fast passes for the shows, Finding Nemo and Festival of The Lion King, but you can also often get in without a Fast Pass if you know when they are showing.  These shows are well worth seeing and have the added benefit of being shown at indoor theaters with AC and offer a great break in the hotter seasons.  
  • As I said we love the animals and always get a fast past for the Safari ride.  We don’t always care the time of our fast pass because we arrive early and go straight to the Safari ride.  We love the ride and do it with and without a Fast Pass. Going to that ride first always ensures we ride it first and often see the animals when they are pretty active.  This is personal preference and if my clients are interested in roller coasters I would advise them differently.
  • We are anxious to visit Pandora again in Sept., now that it is open.   We have noted that currently the ride wait times for the main ride “Avatar Flight of Passage” are in excess of 2 hours, so work your plan and plan your work. 
  • Now that the Animal Kingdom has a light show in the evening, you will want to make sure you plan to attend.  I would suggest a fast pass but we did manage to get some great seats last time and we did not have a fast pass.  I would not always count on that if you are there during peak season.
  • Finally if at all possible, in the heat of summer, plan on taking an afternoon break.  Plan your Fast Passes to give you a bit of a break in the heat of the day.  We have no small children with us, but we see lots of tired little ones slumped over in their strollers.  We go back to our hotel and have a swim and cool off, go to dinner and then go back to the park.  Taking a break is not a sin, it is your vacation, enjoy it all.  

We find it hard to have a favorite park, but we do love the Animal Kingdom because it is a zoo and then some.   This is the closest to a safari as we are likely to get.  For those with more adventurous leanings, there is always a real safari with Adventures by Disney.  The potential for fun with Disney is limitless.  

As always, if you are interested in learning more about Disney Destinations, and need help planning a trip, contact me.  Like me on Facebook and you will receive information on deals and tips for traveling to all amazing Disney Destinations.  It would be my privilege to help you create your own Mouse Magic.  

Enjoying the Magic Kingdom – Planning Your Disney Vacation

1. Decide at the beginning of vacation if you are an early morning family, if you are not, familiarize yourself with park schedules to enjoy late magic hours.

2. If you want to take advantage of late night extended hours, take it easy in the morning.  Don’t squeeze too much in one day and wear everyone out.

3.  Develop a daily routine of when you eat, go to bed etc, that way the children don’t wear out in the middle of the fun.

4.  Familiarize yourself with the parks and create a plan to get to the rides or shows that are of most interest.  

5.  When you are planning your trip, take advantage of the fast pass program.  This will allow you to ride the most popular rides at least once without standing in long lines.

6.  If you have never visited Florida you will be surprised at just how hard heat and humidity can be on the body.  Stay hydrated and take lots of breaks.  

7.  Wear the most comfortable shoes you can find, it will amaze you just how far you will walk in a day.

8.  Stay at one of the Disney properties.  There are properties to fit every budget and tastes, from value to luxury spa resorts.  All Disney resorts offer cool Disney touches but beyond that,  staying on property offers the option of using the Disney transportation system.  That is invaluable in getting the most out of the park.

9.  If you are going to the park early, arrive 15 minutes early and you can watch the opening, that is fun and of course, you get a bit of a head start on the rides.  

We visit the Disney World at least once, and more often twice a year and we see lots of families who are walking around exhausted and lost.  A successful Disney vacation happens long before you set foot in the park.  Plan your visit well and work your plan.  

Contact me to plan your next vacation.  It’s free and saves you money.

Follow me on Facebook to see new Disney specials on vacations and events.  

 

Making My Own Disney Magic

We have done lots of Disney traveling.  In the last 12 years, we took nine Disney Cruises, gone to Disney World at least once a year.  We went to Disneyland once on the way to a Disney Cruise.  That does not even include the Disney travel we did with our small children and extended family in the 80’s.  It is safe to say we love Disney.  

Along with our trips, I have planned several Disney trips for extended family.  I was so excited to learn that there is actually a way to travel and experience the myriad of things Disney has to offer and get paid at the same time.  Well, it turns out you can and I have signed up to do it. 

I have joined Ears of Experience, a travel agency that focuses is only on Disney travel. I feel confident aligning myself with Ears of Experience.  They know Disney (Land and Sea) up, down, and sideways, and have been booking Disney travel since 1999. 

Choosing EOE was easy because of their great track record creating satisfied clients, an amazing training program, and their organized systems that ensure every client gets the same amazing personalized service and care.   

I hope that I can give you some information in this blog that will show you just why I love Disney.  You can “like” my newest Facebook page @sharonschierlingwithearsofexperience and see my photos on Instagram @srschierling.   

In the meantime, feel free to contact me if you need any help planning your next vacation.  You can also call me directly at 214-264-7146.

 

Clutter – The Key to Keeping Ahead of Stuff!

I have written about and taught people how to get organized and stay ahead of clutter for over 10 years.  Some of my clients enjoy quick success, while others have ongoing problems.  As I analyze why some people find it 

Everything In Its Place

more difficult to keep their lives in order, it often comes down to one simple thing…they don’t put items back in place after use.  The first step in ordering one’s personal or professional space is, of course, giving everything that should be in that space a place to “live” permanently.  But the even bigger and more challenging part of the equation is to put items back after use.  

That all seems pretty simple and straight forward but you would be surprised how hard it is to get into the habit of putting things away immediately after use.  This is a habit that needs concentration and persistence to develop.  To help people create this new habit I suggest that my clients work at this day-by-day, rewarding themselves with each successful day of putting items away after use.  It will take about 3 weeks to develop this new habit, and if you have struggled with the problem a long time, it may take a little longer to stick.  However, once you are good at putting things away immediately after use, you will be surprised at how much time you save in a day.  

So what does that look like exactly?  When you wake up in the morning and you go to take a shower and brush your teeth, you place PJs in the closet or where ever they normally live.   You brush your teeth and put the toothbrush and paste away.    After you have breakfast, you put your dishes in the dishwasher.  At work, you put files and documents away neatly and tidy your desk quickly before you leave.  When you get home you put work clothes away and tidy used dishes in the dishwasher.  

The point is that most clutter is a result of postponing work and decisions.  The best way to combat creating clutter is to do tasks immediately unless you are in a huge time crunch.   There are always times when doing tasks immediately is not possible, but if they become the exception rather than the rule you will have more time for fun and spend less time cleaning up.