Vacation Planning Specialist – Nicole!

Independent Travel Agent with The Vacation Wizards!

Planning Your December 2017 Walt Disney World Vacation!

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A Disney Christmas: They’re Here! Our MagicBands are Here!

I got our MagicBands in the mail yesterday!!! I am beyond excited! This will be our first trip since Disney introduced the MagicBands! In case you don’t know what they are, the MagicBands have replaced your hard tickets! Meaning, that you no longer have to have a hard plastic ticket to get into your hotel room or inside the parks. You just put the Mickey head up to the device reader and wait until it turns green and you’re good to go! I will be posting videos on how all of this works once I get back from our trip! In case you were wondering my MagicBand is the pink one! I wanted to get a red one but I didn’t want my mom and I to get ours mixed up, even though they do have our names on the inside! Ha!

Also, I am going to be adding some fun vinyl images to our MagicBands! I haven’t decided what exactly I’m going to put on them but maybe our names and I know I want to do something with Minnie or Christmas but I haven’t decided yet! There are just so many options! But I will post my designs when I do decide what to put on my MagicBand! I may even put some Alabama stuff on there, Roll Tide!

I wish I would have known how to get one of these MagicBands! They also have a store inside the Magic Kingdom in Tomorrowland or at Disney Springs where you can customized your MagicBand. I just might be stopping inside one of those stores!

There are so many Christmas items that I have been looking at online at the Disney Store that I would LOVE to get while I’m down there! I wish we still had our Disney Store in the mall here in Mobile. The closest store that I can go to is in Gulfport, Mississippi and that is an hour away! But Black Friday is coming up and I think that my mom and I are planing to do some clothes shopping for our trip over at the Gulfport Outlets so we’ll just have to see if we can make a quick stop inside the Disney Store! (We ALWAYS do when we go over there!) If we do go to the Gulfport Outlets I will post a Disney Store HAUL post to show you what all we picked up!

24 Days to go!


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How to Survive Christmas Eve and Christmas Day at Disney World!

Christmas and the holiday season at Walt Disney World is an amazing sight to see! It is also the most crowded and busiest times of the year!

THE best advice that I can give is make sure to pack your patience! And just remember that everyone is going to have the same mindset as you; avoid the crowds, see all the shows and fireworks, eat at the best restaurants, meet all the characters and ride all the rides!

Let’s just get real, you are not going to be able to avoid the crowds all together! So if you are really not a “wind through the crowds” type of person I would strongly suggest you not go during the Holiday season. Although, there are a few things that you can do to make your vacation a little less of a headache.

  • Get to the parks super early! Meaning get to the park an hour to 30 min before park open. That means whether or not the park is offering Extra Magic Hours that morning!

  • Reserve FastPass+ and Dinner Reservations ASAP! Once you book your trip calculate what day is your 180 days out mark and 60 days out mark. Make sure to be up at 7:00 am eastern time to select your restaurants and FastPass+!

  • Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party! This separate ticketed event let’s those that have purchased tickets to this party into the Magic Kingdom at 4:00 pm on party nights. Only those that have purchased tickets are allowed into the park from 7:00 pm to 12:00 am on party nights. Which means only a select few will be in the Magic Kingdom to enjoy the special shows, character meet and greats and shorter lines for the rides. For more information on Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party, click here!

If you are going to the parks during the holidays and your main interest is seeing all of the shows and fireworks that are unique to this time of year, I would suggest not worrying too much about the rides. Make your FastPass+ selections for the rides that you absolutely HAVE to do. Pick a spot early on the parade route to get a good view of the floats and characters. There is one castle stage show during the day that is pretty cute and is a great way to see all of the characters in their Christmas best. And let’s not forget the nighttime shows and fireworks that everyone knows and loves! The best way to get a good view for the parades and firework shows would be to pick a spot that gives you a great view for both.

To make sure that you get your top pick for restaurants make sure to get your reservations in order on the 180th day out from your arrival date! Have your list ready and be sure to make reservations for the character dinning FIRST as they are the first to get all booked up!

Again if your main reason for going to Disney is seeing as many characters as you can, don’t spend too much time worrying about getting on rides. Like I mentioned before make your FastPass+ selections for the rides that you HAVE to do and then don’t worry too much about riding anything else unless the wait is low. In order to see characters you will most likely have to wait through at least one or two character meeting sessions before you get your turn to meet your character.

If you are planning to be at the Magic Kingdom on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day, plan to stay there all day. It’s more often than not that the Magic Kingdom will close due to capacity on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Disney goes all out for the fireworks on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day and it most definitely a must see if you are going to be in Disney World on these days. What many people don’t know is that you don’t have to be inside the Magic Kingdom to see the fireworks. If the Magic Kingdom is closed due to capacity don’t worry just hang around at the Transportation Center (TCC), you can get a great view from there and they play the music that goes along with the fireworks. You can also view the fireworks from the surrounding resorts on the Seven Seas Lagoon; the Contemporary, Polynesian Village and the Grand Floridian. Please note that sometimes the hotel security may not let you go into certain places on the hotel’s property as some of it is designated for Disney Vacation Club Members only. Also, please know that you can view the fireworks on any night from these locations as well not just on busy nights.

If you are not wanting to go to the Magic Kingdom on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day, the next best park to go to is EPCOT! EPCOT is so spread out and has many Christmas decorations and activities to enjoy. Although, the lines will be VERY long you will still be able to enjoy the seasonal offerings from all of the featured countries.

A very simple way to get away from all of the crowds but still enjoy Christmas in Disney World is to just stay at  the resort that you are staying at. Chances are they are all decked out for the holidays and have Christmas activities planned for their resort guests. You can also resort hop. Just as the theme parks go all out for Christmas decorations, you can only imagine what the resorts do. The deluxe resorts have the most decorations, but since they are near the Magic Kingdom the traffic getting there could be a pain. My best advice for resort hoping would be to take a bus to EPCOT and ride the monorail to the TCC and then take the resort monorail around the loop and take your time to take in all of the decorations. Just remember everyone else is trying to get somewhere as fast as they can too. Just don’t be in a hurry and bring your patience!

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Holiday Sleigh Rides

Bring a classic Christmas carol to life with a delightful 25-minute jaunt o’er fields and through wooded forests.

Revel in the magic of the holidays with an evening excursion in a one-horse open “sleigh.”

Take in the unspoiled beauty of the woodlands surrounding Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground and see them as you’ve never seen them before. Your group of up to 4 adults (or 2 adults and 3 small children) will be laughing all the way as you ride in a horse-drawn carriage done up like a sleigh, festooned with festive lights and garlands for the holidays. Each sleigh ride costs $79.

Holiday sleigh rides depart from the main entrance of Crockett’s Tavern at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground every 30 minutes and are offered nightly during the month of December.

Due to their seasonal nature, reservations are strongly recommended and can be made up to 180 days in advance by calling (407) WDW-PLAY, or (407) 939-7529.  

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Beginning Nov. 27, 2015, you and your family can celebrate a world of cheer as Holidays Around the World returns to Epcot at Walt Disney World Resort. Amid joyful music and seasonal food favorites, time-honored traditions spring to life as costumed performers present holiday heritage throughout World Showcase.

This year, you and your family can enjoy new live musical performances by American Music Machine. This five-member a capella group will perform modern and nostalgic holiday hits, including “White Christmas,” “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” and “All I Want for Christmas is You.”

“Joyful! A Gospel Celebration of the Season” enlivens the Fountain Stage throughout the day, while the Canadian Holiday Voyageurs take us on a musical exploration of holiday traditions from across the Great White North in the Canada Pavilion. In Mexico, “Feliz Navidad” features colorful dancers and mariachis, who celebrate the holiday customs of Mexico in an interactive, musical performance, and the China Pavilion bursts to life with the vibrant Chinese Lion Dance, bringing good fortune and happiness to all in honor of major holidays such as the Lunar New Year and Lantern Festival.

Plus the Candlelight Processional, one of the most beloved holiday traditions at Walt Disney World Resort, takes place at America Gardens Theater at 5, 6:45 and 9 p.m. each evening. 

Holidays Around the World at Epcot takes place Nov. 27-Dec. 30, 2015.

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The Merry & Bright Dessert Party and Dinner Reception will light up the season with special reserved viewing of over 5 million legendary lights during the finale of The Osborne Family Spectacle of Lights.

The Merry & Bright Dessert Party includes holiday-themed desserts, specialty alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages, sodas, water, tea and coffee. Each Guest in the party will receive a keepsake roll-up stadium blanket. The Dessert Party will take place Nov. 6-Dec. 24, 2015 from 7-8:30 p.m. and Dec. 25-30, 2015 from 8:30-10 p.m. Block-out dates include Nov. 17, Dec. 9 and Dec. 18. The price is $69 per adult and $39 per child (ages 3-9). Tax and gratuity are included.

During the Merry & Bright Dinner Reception, Guests can enjoy a holiday buffet including shrimp, beef, turkey and more, as well as specialty alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages, beer and wine. Each Guest in the party will receive a custom keepsake shadow box featuring their own Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights bulb. The Dinner Reception will take place from 8:30-10 p.m. on Jan. 1, 2016 and from 7-8:30 p.m. on Jan. 2-3, 2016. The price is $99 per adult and $54 per child (ages 3-9). Tax and gratuity are included.

During both events, Guests can enjoy the Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights from a reserved location at the end of the Streets of America near the entrance to Lights, Motors, Action! Extreme Stunt Show. Guests can check in at the location beginning one hour prior to the event.

Bookings can be made by calling 407-WDW-DINE or online at Advance reservations are recommended as availability is limited. 

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A dazzling holiday season is in store for you sand your family when Holidays at the Disneyland Resort returns Nov. 13, 2015-Jan. 6-, 2016. Here’s a look at what’s in store this year!

At Disneyland Park, “A Christmas Fantasy” Parade returns, showing daily along with the new “Paint the Night” parade each evening. “Mickey’s Soundsational Parade” will return in January after the holiday season.

And, also each night, the “Disneyland Forever” fireworks spectacular will light up the park as the Disneyland Resort Diamond Celebration continues. Please note “Believe…in Holiday Magic” fireworks will not be presented this year.

Over at Disney California Adventure Park, “World of Color – Celebrate!” continues throughout the season, along with “World of Color – Winter Dreams.”

Santa Claus will also be on hand to greet Guests at a new location in Critter Country at Disneyland Park, as well as Elias & Co. on Buena Vista Street at Disney California Adventure Park.

You and your family can also enjoy some of these returning favorites during Holidays at the Disneyland Resort: 

Disneyland Park

  • Jingle Cruise

  • “it’s a small world” Holiday

  • Haunted Mansion Holiday

Disney California Adventure Park

  • Disney ¡Viva Navidad!

  • Holiday décor in Cars Land, “a bug’s land” and Buena Vista Street

  • Olaf’s Snow Fest

  • Buena Vista Street Community Choir

Downtown Disney District

  • Olaf’s Frozen Ice Rink

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With the holidays right around the corner, there are two more options for seasonal fun coming to the Walt Disney World Resort. This year at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, you and your family can enjoy two special experiences as you are surrounded by The Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights – the Merry & Bright Dessert Party (Nov. 6-Dec. 30, 2015) and the Merry & Bright Dinner Reception (Jan. 1-3, 2016).

The dessert party includes holiday-themed desserts, while the dinner reception features a selection of small bites, including beef, shrimp, and turkey, as well as wine, beer, and specialty beverages. Reservations for both the Merry & Bright Dessert Party and Dinner Reception will be available beginning Sept. 16, 2015.

Please note that this season marks the finale for The Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights, as the park prepares for incredible new experiences, including the recently announced Toy Story Land and a Star Wars-themed land.

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A Disney Christmas: Last Year for Osborne Lights!

So I just found out this morning that this year will be the last year that Disney’s Hollywood Studios will be running the Osborne Lights! Due to the re-imagining of the park, Streets of America is said to be removed from the park itself to make room for the new “Lands”. I am so glad that I am going to Disney during Christmas this year! Like I have said before it will be my first time at Disney during the Holiday season and this year will also be the last time that Disney will be presenting the Osborne Lights. It’s kind of bitter sweet because the Lights have become somewhat of a Christmas Tradition to many and something that a lot of people look forward to during their Disney Christmas vacations. But with the Lights being removed it just means that something new and exciting is coming to Disney’s Hollywood Studios!

I also recently discovered that Pirates of the Caribbean will be opened back up from it’s long refurbishment when I go on my Disney Christmas Vacation! I know that it has been closed for quite some time for a well needed refurbishment and it just never occurred to me that it would be open when I’ll be at Disney! I will definitely have to remember to schedule me a FastPass+ for that ride because I’m sure there will be a lot of people wanting to ride the newly refurbished ride! The Pirates of the Caribbean is scheduled to open September 25, 2015.

I also think that the new Skipper Canteen restaurant will be newly opened while I am at Disney. Since I am a Travel Agent, I took a look at my newly refurbished information to see if any rides or attractions will be down during my vacation, and it looks like it will be open while I am at Disney. I am making an educated guess at this because the Liberty Tree Tavern and Diamond Horseshoe will be opening on November 19, 2015. Their kitchens are getting an update and that is all tied into the Skipper Canteen’s new area, so that is why I am thinking that it will be open. I’m not 100% sure, but one could hope! 


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A Disney Christmas: Character Dining Booked!

I’m so happy to say that I have finally been able to get a reservation for a Character Dining Meal! I was able to get a reservation at the Garden Grill in EPCOT. I have never eaten there before, but I have read some reviews and it sounds like its going to be a great experience! If you have any personal experiences I would love to hear them! Please comment below!

WDW Character Dining Lifestyle Shoot. 2013. Photographer: Melanie Acevedo

Our reservations are at 6:45 PM with hopefully enough time to enjoy our meal, meet some characters and snag us a great spot to view Illuminations! I haven’t seen Illuminations since I was very young, so I really don’t remember how the show goes. This trip we are planning on taking things really slow and enjoying all of the small things at the parks that we normally wouldn’t going from ride to ride or character to character. We are also going to eat at some restaurants that we normally wouldn’t eat at on our Disney Vacation. Friday night our dinner reservations are for the Garden Grill in EPCOT, Saturday night we are eating at The Boathouse in Downtown Disney, Sunday night we are attending Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party at the Magic Kingdom and will be eating at Tony’s Town Square Restaurant and finally we will be ending our Disney Christmas at 50’s Prime Time Cafe’ where afterwords we will be staying to watch the Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights!

As always, if you would like to share personal experiences at any of these dining locations or events that I have talked about please fill free to comment below!

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