While I would normally endeavor to make every trip to Walt Disney World 6 nights or longer, I sometimes have to accept I don’t have the luxury of time. I often run into clients who wonder, is it really worth going to Disney if you only have a couple days available? Is it even possible to enjoy Disney for such a short time? My answer is always — YES! Whether it’s last minute or planned in advance, a short visit can be just as memorable as a long one.
Carrie's Top 7 Tips for a Short Trip
Tip #1 - Take Advantage of ParkHopping
To park hop or not is a constant dilema for Disney vacation planners. With the prices increasing each year, guests most certainly are looking to shave off expenses where they can. For a short visit, at approximately $85/person to add the perk, I can certainly understand why some question if it is worth the expense. In the case of a short visit - don't second guess - in most cases it is a MUST! Park hopping will allow guests to pack in the maximum amount of park experience as is possible.
Tip #2 - Use Extra Magic Hours to Your Advantage
Especially if morning Extra Magic Hours are available - guests on a swift touring plan need to be there! If another park offers later hours, or night Extra Magic Hours, this too will come in handy to get the most bang for your buck out of your park tickets.
Tip #3 - Rope Dropping is a 'Thing'
If morning Extra Magic Hours are not available, still plan to be up early! "Rope Dropping" is the practice of showing up at the parks no less than 30 minutes prior to the published park opening time. Each Disney park allows guests in to the park -- up to a certain point -- where you'll find Cast Members holding the crowd at bay witha literal rope. While many guests "plan" to be present for rope drop, the reality is most do not make it out that early.
Using this tactic can help guests experience a good number of attractions within the first hour of park opening. My personal record is 3 attractions in an hour.
Tip #4 - Stay On Property
As a travel agent, I often work with guests who firmly believe staying off property is just the ticket. When adding up the dollars and cents many guests are surprised to learn that the off property "deal" cost as much, or sometimes more, compared to on property. Beyond that, I cannot stress that TIME IS MONEY, especially in a short trip scenario. So, unless you get that off property stay for free - do yourself a favor and stay on property.
The value here goes back to what your time is worth to you. With 1 to 3 days to pack in what you can, the perk of resort transportation is where your time earns some dividends. You don't have to battle the Orlando traffic; you can avoid the likelihood of getting lost along the way as we await all of the map apps to update Disney's new by-passes; and only Disney transportation can deliver you right to the gates!
My favorite mode of Disney transportation is the Minnie Van. While it adds to the bill, what you gain in saving time is most definitely worth the cost. Imagine getting picked up at your resort location, then whisked away on a quick trip to the closest point near the park gates. I utilize this service during those early morning runs to the park, as well as for the late night return to the resort.
Tip #5 - Depart from the "Norm" when Booking FastPass+
I do not doubt this tip will be hotly debated, and I don't disagree -- it is a bit controversial. I suggest booking your FastPass+ for midday/afternoon, at your second park of the day. I am of course assuming you A) plan to stay on property in order to take advantage of Disney's transportation; B) are taking advantage of morning Extra Magic Hours, or are rope dropping; and C) are park hopping. The typical advice would be just the opposite -- stack FastPass+ in the morning. But, hear me out, as I have put this to practice many times. With early entry to the parks, guest can experience a good number of attractions before 11:00am. For parks with Extra Magic Hours, 11 am tends to be the time when crowds increase and start to peak ... remember we discussed the good intentions to show up early, but most don't? That's right they show up en-force just at the lunch hour!
By the time the crowds arrive, I have already experienced a handful of attractions. I like to take a lunch break at this time and then make my way to the second park of the day by 1pm. At this time the second park is likely also busy, so having the FastPass+ set at this point gives me the next 3 hours to enjoy little to no wait for attractions. After I wrap up my last FastPass+, I may pick up another. Meanwhile I will pit stop for dinner, and then enjoy the remainder of my evening with shorter wait times as the hours grow later.
Tip #6 - Skip the Big Meal
With so many wonderful dining experiences, I know it is hard to pass up making dining reservations. I highly encourage however skipping the table service reservations, and use the quick service mobile order instead. The average time spent on a table service reservation is 2 hours. In contrast a quick service mobile order can have you back to business in about 30 minutes!
Tip #7 - Consider Special Events if Available
Extra Morning Magic tickets can afford guests an additional 3 hours, with little to no crowds. Plus, you receive a breakfast at your leasure within that time frame. You must still have general park admission in addition to the special event ticket, but in the long run it's a nice compliment to your day.
Disney After Dark/After Hours/Special Party event tickets can easily take the place of a 1 day ticket/parkhopper. This nearly 5 hour experience gives you unique entertainment, the run of the park with limited attendees, and often free treats! Who needs a Premium Mickey Bar? (everyone!)
So, to put it all together, my all encompassing advice when considering a short stay at Disney - be prepared to compromise! Expect that your time is after all still very limited. You will have to pick and choose what handful of experiences mean the most to you. And... plan to come back!
If you know you are in the market for a short stay, but not sure where to start, give us a call -- we will get you on track in a jiffy!
Just over a month ago our small agency celebrated our 1 year anniversary of our re-branding ... or as I prefer to think of it, our "re-birth". A short search through our Travel Journal will lead you to the article where I discussed what I now consider a milestone in our agencies journey. As we have made the transition, our client loyalty has swelled. We continue to be very thankful to our clients and the numerous referrals they regularly make.
I would be lying however if I didn't admit that I had been dragging my feet on the re-branding. A friend whom makes her living in Marketing would every now and then nudge about a logo. With her expertise in online presence, including website design and social media utilization ... I knew she was right. As she pointed out several times, the sad picture of a wilting Dole Whip, sitting aside a Mickey Balloon Popcorn Bucket, was not exactly going to draw in the billions of people scanning through the internet ... nor was it going to be memorable! The absence of a new business logo weighed heavily on my mind. Last spring I peeled the old vinyl logo off my car. For months I had the constant thought when walking to my car, "I should really figure out a new logo." Most business conversations with Colleen included a reminder from her that I really really need to do something about a new logo. It was holding so much up, business cards, website clean up, etc.
What was my problem you ask? Perhaps it took a year of "grieving" the loss of invested funds and time to our old name, in order to fully embrace our new name? Undoubtedly that played a part in the procrastination. In my life I try to do things with purpose and meaning as I dislike wasted energy, or settling for mediocre. With the name change, I put a lot of thought into what represents the agency and the team of ladies best. We have always been a full-service agency that prioritized helping our clients achieve vacations they dreamed of, but with the honesty of keeping their budgets as the priority. Our agency has never been about sales goals, and we are never concerned about how much commission we earn. Beyond those values however, as I said a year ago, our agency offers so much more than just booking vacations ... we offer to be your guides to adventures of a lifetime! With this thought I realized that Adventurers Navigation Co. was the right fit for a new name ... but, how did that LOOK? Just as the name has vivid meaning, I felt strongly the logo needed to as well.
I am excited to share that I have finally hit on a design that pulls together our core beliefs as travel planners and an agency, with a "hidden Mickey" to boot!
The base value of our agency is to show our clients the best way to a vacation that balances value and experience. The Compass represents how our travel planners are first and foremost committed to guiding our clients to the best vacation for their budget.
The next layer to our service is always about design. When planning vacations for our clients we cognizant each client is different. Therefore each vacation plan will need a different design to help clients achieve an enjoyable experience. The circle of design is a symbol that our agency will create a custom adventure that considers each clients needs, tastes, and desires.
Last, but certainly not least, is the value of Time. We each are granted just one lifetime to go and do; to explore and learn; to enjoy this wonderful world. Colleen and I talk often about time ... how now is the time, because life will not wait. We do not know when the clock will run out on life. As travel planners we believe that our service is priceless. Just as clients are encouraged to take the time to vacation now, their time spent planning can be consuming. We believe it is our job to save clients that time (and often frustration) spent on detail. Our travel planner have the adventure laid out, ready for clients to just go and enjoy.
I am excited to share with the world the new *look* for Adventurers Navigation Co. As I said just a short year ago, we are a Travel Team of professional travel planners. Our team of specialists is ready to help you navigate your next adventure! Whether it be Disney or Europe, we will be there for you every step of the way! To our faithful following - thank you for being the backbone of our business! To those who are just discovering us, welcome! To everyone reading this post -- Let's ADVENTURE Together!
"Soon," Disney tells us ... there will be one more fantastic reason to being a guest at an official Walt Disney World Resort! Currently, Disney Resort Guests and new/renewing Annual Passholders have the opportunity to choose a plain colored MagicBand at no charge as part of the resort perk, or pass benefit. For the past 5 years, selecting MagicBands has been a magical part of Disney trip planning. On Monday Disney released that the choice of MagicBands is "soon" going to become a whole lot cooler!
"Soon, Disney Resort hotel guests and new and renewing Annual Passholders will have the option to upgrade, at a discounted price, from a complimentary solid-color MagicBand to one of more than 30 new MagicBand options featuring favorite Disney characters and designs."
The same plain colored selection of complimentary MagicBand is still available for guests who choose not to upgrade to one of the new options. The new MagicBand options will be available for pre-arrival purchase at a special price of $14.99 off retail cost through the My Disney Experience website. Just as with the complimentary MagicBands, the new design options may also be shipped to guests’ homes (U.S. addresses only) if ordered 11 or more days ahead of arrival; or can be personalized and available for pickup at the resort, if done so at least 6 or more days ahead of arrival.
New to Disney? Wondering what the MagicBand fuss is all about? As Disney tells us, "The MagicBand, which recently celebrated its fifth anniversary, effortlessly links the Walt Disney World Resort vacation choices and plans guests make in the My Disney Experience app – from entering the parks to redeeming FastPass+ selections, using dining plan credits, linking Disney PhotoPass photos and more." The MagicBand has become a central piece to a Walt Disney World Vacation.
As of today, May 11th, this new option has not yet released. Disney promises to make the new option available "in the coming weeks". In the mean time, check out the video below to get a sneak peek!
For most, if not all of our clients, it will be a surprise that we are changing who we are known as... changing what our business name has been. That surprise will likely be in the form of, "Wait ... aren't you just [insert the name of beloved travel agent you have been trusting for years now]", rather than "Why are you changing your name?"
Several years ago we started out in the travel business, inspired and encouraged from our loved ones. Colleen and I love to travel, and so many of our friends and family relied on us to help with their travel details. Eventually someone said, "Why aren't you getting paid for doing what you love?" hmmm ... I wondered ... perhaps they have a point. And so, I did my research, found a name, filed the government and IRS paperwork and set off the ground running! Eventually Colleen and I became a team, a really great travel team. After all this time, I have to giggle though at the very small number of our treasured clients that actually know our business name! (Hi-5 to anyone that remembers it!)
For many years we existed completely by word of mouth. Referrals at that time, and to this day, was our life breath! Looking at our client roster today, 100% of our bookings have come from friends, family, and those they referred us to! Since our start it has been like a Christmas Tree explosion. First it was close friends and family, then it was their friends and family, and then their friends and family! It just kept going! I mean I have a recent client that has made well over 5 referrals in less than a year! Now those referrals are making referrals! I can't thank our clients enough for your faith and trust in us! YOU! You my friends have made our dreams possible.
Along the way my husband encouraged me to do more -- he said, "Take it serious now, you could really do something with this travel thing." Colleen and I agreed, and decided -- let's go online! A little less than 2 years ago our website and facebook page were born. Funny thing is we still were living and breathing on those valued referrals. In fact that online presence hadn't yielded anything other than 'likes', 'follows', and website visits from those we already know ... or of course had been personally referred to us. (Thanks again friends!)
What we never expected was that our little backyard agency would attract the attention and bullying from an online website. 2018 started with us having to decide if we wanted to battle to keep our business name of [words we may never breathe again as we are in something like a Harry Potter-esque situation due to our country's trademarking allowances and what I perceive as fuzzily gray governance of such], all because someone else used that phrase as a moniker for their agents ... They didn't have the same business name, but boy they are very very serious about that moniker.
I won't lie, Colleen and I have cried some tears over the situation. At the time I established myself there was nothing out there (ok, other than a toy manufacturer of magic tricks, and a fishing bait company) ... we had done our due diligence. For awhile it was doom and gloom as we researched our rights, and sought opinion on our chances of winning the argument. The other company fears client confusion. Though I contest that there would ever be a chance of such a thing. This brought me to two conclusions: Money talks, and when consulting with my pocket book, it replied back, "You don't really make enough to fight this." Sadly, the pocket book was right.; and through reflection I realized that I have no interest in wanting to ever be mistaken for this other company, no matter the slightest of chance. So, I then started the journey to change our business name.
As I sit here writing this little novella, I realize this is not really a sad time after all - rather it is a time to embrace what's to come. Since the day Colleen and I set out as a Travel Team, we have grown and changed. We are more than just Disney, and more than just Cruising ... in fact, we are more than just Carrie and Colleen! We are growing, and becoming even better at what we do, and have added some really great people to our team like Tiffany, Michele, and Ashley! We offer so much more than just booking vacations ... we offer to be your guides! We are a full-service agency that is more concerned about helping our clients achieve vacations they dreamed of, but with the honesty of keeping their budgets as the priority. We aren't about sales goals, and we are never concerned about how much of a commission we earn. WE don't need a cutesy moniker, we are professionals, and will always remain so.
My friends after months of work I welcome you to the new US! We are Adventurers Navigation Co. We are a Travel Team of professional travel specialists ready to help you navigate your next adventure! Whether it be Disney or Europe, we will be there for you every step of the way! Though our name has changed, our mission has not! To our faithful following - thank you for being the backbone of our business! To those who are just discovering us, welcome! To everyone reading this post -- Let's ADVENTURE Together!