Wednesday, July 1, 2015

10 Magical Reasons to Vacation at Disney at Christmastime

I am in the process of planning my 20th Anniversary trip to Walt Disney World and as a happy coincidence it is in December - and that makes me even MORE excited!! I cannot wait to be at my Home Away From Home during my favorite time of the year!!  Since I am daydreaming of Christmas at Disney in July I thought I would share my:

Top 10 Reasons to Visit Walt Disney World at Christmastime

Photos courtesy of my friend Kimberly of Frontierland Station.

  1. The Gingerbread Houses - Every year the chef's at Disney build huge gingerbread houses in the lobbies of several Deluxe Resorts. In 2014 Disney's Contemporary Resort featured a Frozen themed house with Anna, Elsa, Olaf, Kristoff and Sven. 2015 will mark the 17th year that Disney's Grand Floridian has housed a life size grand masterpiece. It is 16 feet high and has 40 window panes, and is made with 1050 pounds of honey, 700 pounds of chocolate, 600 pounds of confectioner's sugar, 35 pounds of spices, 800 pounds of flour, 140 pints of egg whites and 180 pounds of apricot glaze!! You can even buy  make your own kits to take home with you! A tour of these amazing gingerbread houses will definitely be on my "must do" list!
  2. Cinderella Castle - I know it's beautiful year round but Cinderella Castle during the holidays is nothing short of spectacular! This park icon is draped in lights that make it breathtakingly beautiful for the holidays. It's got to be spectacular, it is Fairy Godmother's gift to Cinderella after all,
  3. Characters Dressed for the Holidays - You get to see Mickey and Minnie in their festive holiday finery and perhaps even in Santa and Mrs. Claus attire (not to mention the Santa himself), Goofy and Donald don their hats and scarves and wintertime sweaters, you get the idea. They are all so adorable in the seasonal attire, and it's the only time of the year you can see them dressed that way.
  4. Holidays Around The World at Epcot - There is no better time to tour the World Showcase than during the holidays! November 27-December 30 are the 2015 dates for this amazing event. Visit Santa and Mrs. Claus and enjoy the Voices of Dickens Carolers in American Adventure. Go on a musical tour of the Great White North with Canadian Holiday Voyageurs, and watch the Chinese Lion Dance which is said to bring good fortune and happiness. In France experience the joy of the Christmas season through a child's letter and meet Pere Noel. Helga tells you the story of the first Christmas tree in Germany and meet La Befana, a good-hearted witch from Italy, who grants gifts to children on the eve of the Epiphany. Listen to the story of the Daruma Doll and learn about Japans New Year's customs and of course there's Feliz Navidad  festivities in Mexico. Celebrate the spice of life  in Morocco, learn about Julenissen, the Christmas Gnome from Sigrid in Norway. Father Christmas will be waiting for you in the United Kingdom with tales that date back to 15th century England.
  5. Candlelight Processional - This celebrity narrated telling of the Christmas Story in Epcot is a Disney fan favorite. As a celebrity narrator recounts the story of a baby born in a manager, orchestra and choir performances are masterfully woven in to make this a truly inspiring event. There is a dinner package available for guaranteed seating, all other seats are on a first-come, first-served basis. 
  6. Seasonal Treats - Gingerbread Mickeys, specialty candy apples, peppermint bark, chocolate-peppermint cheesecake cupcakes (yum!), gingerbread cupcakes, specially decorated Mickey rice krispy treats! I could go on and on about all these and the pumpkin cheesecake fudge or peppermint fudge. Come prepared to try treats you can only get during the holiday season - can you say snack credit??
  7. Osbourne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights  - Since it began in 1995 this has been a perennial favorite of Disney fans. Millions of multi-colored lights transform the buildings in Hollywood Studios into a sight you have to see to believe. There are twirling carousels, toy soldiers, even Santa and his reindeer. You have to see it to believe it, and to think it started as a family's personal outdoor display.
  8. Disney's Holiday D-Lights - This 5-hour tour starts in Epcot where you will enjoy the Candlelight Processional. Then you're off to Hollywood Studios where you will stroll throughout the Osbourne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights where you are mesmerized by literally millions of twinkling lights all choreographed to music. Then you will be whisked away to Magic Kingdom to see Main Street all decked out for the holidays and experience the beauty of Cinderella Castle transformed into an ice castle for the holidays. Finally, you will meet the talented team behind creating this magicalwinter wonderland and enjoy a light buffet of holiday foods. There is an additional charge for this tour, all guests much be at least 16 years of age. All guest who participate will receive a limited-edition Disney Pin. 
  9. The Decorations - The Mickey shaped wreaths hanging from garland on Main Street, the multi colored lights that illuminate from seemingly everywhere after dark, the gorgeous decorated trees that are on every corner. They all add even more magic to Disney during the holidays, and that's not easy to do! From the resort lobbies to the lamp posts to the store windows all of Disney is transformed into a Magical Winter Wonderland during the holidays.
  10. Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party - Watch as Fairy Godmother magically lights up the castle as a gift for Cinderella (and all of us), experience meet and greets with your favorite characters (and Santa),  enjoy Mickey's Once Upon a Christmastime Parade, Holiday Wishes fireworks, Celebrate the Season Show and A Totally Tomorrowland Christmas! Snack on free cookies and hot cocoa...and it SNOWS on Main Street!! This event does require a ticket and there is an additional charge.
You're ready to pack your bags and go with me now, aren't you? Don't worry - I can help you get there too! Email me at donnakay@thewdwguru.com or call me at 877-825-1646 ext 706 and let's start planning your Magical Christmastime Vacation today!!

Have a Magical Day!




Tuesday, June 30, 2015

I Believe In Magic

I will preface this by saying this is not my usual post. But, as you will see, it is me - Donna Kay - putting it out there...

The travel industry is competitive, there are a lot of travel professionals specializing in Disney. I got 10,300,000 in .33 seconds using Google search. That's a lot for you to sift through, and a lot of competition for me. Selling Disney is easy for me, marketing I needed help with. In my determination to be successful, I have been attending online seminars from so called marketing gurus. I have been reading lots of Facebook posts and books in an effort to decide the best approach to reach more clients in order to book more Disney travel. This one says hard sell, that one says soft sell, yet another one says no sale (How the heck would that even work??). I guess for different people each approach works - but so far none of them have felt right for me - so I have decided to take the Donna Kay approach and just be ME! 


Who is Donna Kay?

My husband says I am naive, but the truth is I am a believer in the Magic of Disney. The magic of leaving the world behind and stepping into this magical place where you live in the moment with no worries, no pressures, just lots of fun! Magic that happens in this very special place every single day! The magic of your little princess meeting her favorite princess in real life. How about the magic of watching granddad buy his first set of Mickey Ears because his favorite little guy asked him to? The magic of becoming a kid again when you see Cinderella Castle, walk down Main Street USA or ride Peter Pan's Flight. The PURE magic of Wishes at the end of a fun day, and all that magic happens in Magic Kingdom alone!  But...The real Disney magic comes from the memories you make there that will last a lifetime!

I love sharing the magic that I believe in so completely with my clients. Going the extra mile for my families makes me so happy! YES, I think of my clients as family! I do everything I can to ensure they get the dining reservations they want (Be Our Guest or Cinderella Royal Table). Give travel tips to make their vacation more magical. Help them see the Disney Magic I believe in with all of my heart. I love compiling a Disney Vacation Binder that is filled with information that is chosen especially for them that is sure to add a little Pixie Dust to their vacation. My philosphy for selling travel is pure and simple "Let's find the Disney Magic that is perfect for your family." 

Do I watch for discounts that apply to your vacation? Yes. Do I make your Advance Dining Reservations? Yes. Do I help you choose the best resort for you? Yes. I do all of the things that most travel professionals do. Do I believe that planning your Disney vacation is when the magic truly begins? A resounding YES! And I do all it with a belief that your Disney vacation will be the most magical vacation you will ever take whether it's your first Disney trip or your 50th.

So, if you are looking for someone who knows Disney and believes in all the Magic and Pixie Dust it has to offer, I would really love to help you plan your Magical Disney Vacation! You can call me at 877-825-6146 or email me at donnakay@thewdwguru.com. 

Have a Magical Day!!




Sunday, June 28, 2015

Sunday Souvenirs

Souvenirs are a favorite part of any Disney vacation. I am sharing  my favorite souvenir from my last Disney vacation. It was full of firsts for me. My first time going without my family, my first stay at Port Orleans, my first time meeting my Disney BFFs Didi and Stacey, my first time meeting my favorite princess (Aurora), and my first runDisney event.

After finishing the Frozen 5K Didi, Stacey and I had breakfast at Akershus and it was a royal good time. After getting very excited to FINALLY meet Aurora (aka Sleeping Beauty) I realized I had nothing for her to autograph. Then it hit me - my bib from the race!! Not only did we get Aurora to sign it but all of the Princesses that were there that morning - Snow White, Belle, Ariel, and Cinderella!  My one regret - I didn't have a sharpie with me so that you could see the autographs better!

My bib with my medal.
 
It is now one of my favorite souvenirs, mainly because of all of the happy memories it brings back. It was my shortest Disney visit but one of my happiest!! My point here is it doesn't matter if cost nothing or $1000 the best part of a souvenir is how it makes you feel!!

Do you have a favorite souvenir? Share it with me here or on my Guru Donna Kay Facebook Page!

Have a Magical Day!

Thursday, June 25, 2015

8 Fun Ways to Break Out of Your Disney Rut!


I love Disney vacations! I go to Walt Disney World every chance I get and love it every single time! I recently started planning our 20th Wedding Anniversary trip and it got me to thinking: We have a tendency to always visit the same attractions, eat in the same restaurants and tour the parks in the same way – through the castle and to the right in Magic Kingdom, Kilimanjaro Safari first at Animal Kingdom, ect. Then I wondered “How did I get myself into a Disney Rut???”

Every Disney fan has their favorites and must-dos for every vacation, actually if you ask 20 different Disney fans you will get 20 different answers.  To prove this fact I turned to the fans of my WDW Guru Donna Kay Facebook page and asked…

  • What is your favorite attraction?
  • What is your favorite resort?
  • What is your favorite restaurant?
  • What is your favorite Disney show?
  • What is your favorite way to spend a snack credit?


I got a lot of great responses – and no two were exactly the same. I had answers including value, moderate and deluxe resorts; several different kinds of cuisine; snacks I have never tried and shows I really need to check out! I am actually going to use this information to help me break out of my Disney Rut on our anniversary trip (I will also be using the answers in another post so be watching). We are trying new restaurants throughout our stay, adding new attractions to our FastPass+ list, now shows to our itinerary and even including a Disney tour this time, I think Marceline to the Magic Kingdom – still deciding.

Photo courtesy of DIStherapy

This is just one way of shaking up a Disney vacation, I wanted to offer you a few more.

  1. Make a list of all of the Disney attractions, restaurants and resorts - check off the ones you have already experienced and do at least 5 new ones on your next vacation. Now you have your very own Disney Bucket List!
  2. Are you an early bird and always at rope drop? Change it up and go into the parks a little later in the day and stay until they close (the Kiss Goodnight is a wonderful experience at Magic Kingdom)! Same for those who are night owls, check out rope drop for a great new experience!
  3. Go during a special event – The Epcot Food and Wine Festival is a favorite of my friend Did or DIStherapy (Open yourself up to trying new foods at the kiosks you may find a new favorite!), Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party or Very Merry Christmas Party, participate in a runDisney event (if I can do a 5k anyone can). 
  4.  Let your children plan your itinerary for one day. They may surprise you with their choices, and I can promise it won’t be what you were expecting. You may have to make a small change here or there due to time constraints or budget but they will love helping you plan and you may just find that it’s the most fun day of your vacation!
  5.  Use a Disney Authorized Vacation Planner (like Guru Traveldonnakay@thewdwguru.com) and let them offer suggestions. It doesn’t cost you anything, and we go through special training in order to earn the responsiblity of  booking Disney vacations. Disney is our passion and we can plan an itinerary based on what you already love but still shake things up a bit for you.  
  6.  Leave the kids and take an adults only Disney trip – whether it’s a romantic getaway with your significant other or girls trip just do it!! Sample different wines in Epcot or check out the lounges in Downtown Disney. Maybe a spa day for the girls or a round or two of golf for the guys.
  7. Spend a day ride free. Watch shows, people watch, take the time to really look at the details like the windows on Main Street or see how many Hidden Mickey’s you can find or Pressed Pennies you can make in a day. How about taking a tour of the resorts? They are all so beautifully themed! You may find a new one you would like to try on your next visit.  
  8. Take your children on a Disney vacation individually. Plan a special vacation to take with each of your children alone and focus on the things they like. My friend Beth (A Disney Moms Thoughts) just took a vacation with her son who loves Star Wars, they had a great time at Star Wars Weekends by the way. While she hated leaving her husband and other two boys at home it was great bonding time with Cman (and her Mom joined in for the fun too). The memories you make will be priceless and will last a lifetime.
Photo courtesy of A Disney Mom's Thoughts



What do you think? Would you try any of these ideas to shake up your Disney vacation and get out of your Disney Rut? Have any other ideas? I would love to hear them! Share them in the comments below or on my WDW Guru Donna Kay Facebook page.

Have a Magical Day!!

Thursday, June 18, 2015

5 Things Susan Yoo-Lee Doesn't Know About Walt Disney World


I always check my emails first thing in the morning, I have a Yahoo email account so of course I get an email from them with their idea of the stories I may be interested in.  This morning included in that list was a story by Susan Yoo-Lee entitled "5 Things to Skip at Disney World to Cut Costs." Obviously I was intrigued so I opened it. It didn't take long to realize that Susan was not a die hard Disney fan.

So I would like to take this opportunity to offer my rebuttal to Ms Yoo-Lee's suggestions.

1. Skip the food.
"I really wanted to like the food at all the theme parks, even the pricier ones at the World Showcase at Epcot, but the food was on par with hospital cafeteria food. Now the worst part of it all was the price. For three adults and two kids, our average bill was $70. That is way too much in my opinion."

I would love to know what restaurants she and her family dined at (and what hospital serves Disney quality food). Let's be honest, food at any theme park or event is pricier than McDonalds or Pizza Hut. Price aside, did she do any research as to the restaurants that Walt Disney World has to offer? I doubt it, the fact is Disney makes it easy - you can find full menus and PRICING on the Disney website. I also doubt that she dined at a table service restaurant, she probably has quick service dining and while Disney offers some of the best quick service food of any theme park you have to admit that table service meals are a definite upgrade - some more than others. I have had some great dining experiences at Walt Disney World, especially at the World Showcase in Epcot. P.S. Had she stayed in a Disney Resort she could have gotten a dining plan, just sayin.

"Also, make sure to take your own water with you because spending $3 on water will make your stomach hurt."

Hello, Disney will give you a cup of water for FREE for any quick service counter - and have you ever gotten a bottle of water at a professional sporting event.  $3 is pretty much the norm.

2. Limit your Disney memorabilia.
"Of course you're going to want to take some Disney memorabilia home with you, but you'll quickly realize that it comes with a price. Before buying anything, make sure you have a plan, especially if you have children, because everywhere you go, there will be something to be bought."

I probably have the least problem with this statement than any other. Yes, there is merchandise to be bought - it's a theme park. My local zoo and AAA baseball them have merchandise. You have to go with a budget in mind and stick to it. There are more options than Susan mentioned - Pin Trading with Cast Members would be a memorable experience as well as Pressing Pennies throughout the parks. Pressed pennies are cheap and don't take up a lot of room in your suitcase either.

3. Take disposable ponchos with you. 
"Since our vacation happened to land on a rainy week, there were a lot of off and on showers.  For the most part we walked around getting drenched, but we didn't have to...The ponchos at Disney,,,cost $9."

Again - RESEARCH.  Who doesn't know that it rains a lot in Florida, especially in the warmer months! If you plan correctly and do your research (or book with Guru Travel) you know to bring a poncho with you, but even if you forget $9 is not an astronomical amount to pay for a poncho.  Also, there are things to do at Disney INDOORS. Go see a show, ride one of the dark rides, ride the Monorail - if you stay on property go take a break in your resort room. While it may rain almost daily in Florida, the showers are usually over in a half hour or so.

4. Will you really use the park hopper option?
"I added the park hopper option to our base tickets and we didn't park hop at all. It was wasted money for our family...For a newbie, there's so much to look at each park, I personally think it's a waste."

Key word here  - "newbie". I think everyone who is planning a Disney vacation should do their research, or better yet use an Authorized Disney Vacation Planner (like Guru Travel). There is a lot to see and do and if you go without a plan you are not going to get your money's  worth - Park Hopper or Base Ticket. I like the Park Hopper option because my family may go to Hollywood Studios and decide to have lunch at World Showcase or visit Animal Kingdom then visit Magic Kingdom after dinner for Wishes and the Electrical Light Parade. Again, research and planning are the key to knowing what is right for you!!

5. Save yourself the $17 in Disney parking.
"The first day after a long flight, I decided to pay $17 to park at the theme park lot. While you can go from each theme park lot without repaying the fee for the day, since we stayed in the one park, it really didn't apply to us. Most non-Disney resorts offer free shuttle to and from the park and all Disney resorts offer free transportation for guests as well..."

I know I sound like a broken record but, if you stay at a Disney Resort you can park for FREE. Take advantage to the FREE transportation Disney offers to the parks, Downtown Disney and you can even do a Resort Tour. I love that I can go to Disney and park my car and I don't have to get back into it until I am ready  have to go home. The resort transportation comes at a reasonable schedule, is clean and dependable. Take advantage of it.

Finally, I would suggest that while Ms Yoo-Lee is good at saving money, maybe planning a Walt Disney World vacation is not her forte. I challenge her to try visiting Walt Disney World again, this time staying on property and having a game plan (email me donnakay@thewdwguru.com). Take advantage of 180 day ADRs, FastPass+ and all the amenities that come with the joy of immersing yourself in the complete Disney experience. As a newbie it is very easy to get overwhelmed, that's what a Travel Professional if for - we take away the stress so you can have more fun!

Thanks for letting me get that out of my system!

Have a Magical Day!!
Donna Kay




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