It’s Official…I’m a Disney Vacation Planer!!

During the planning of our recent Disney vacation, I fell in love with the entire planning process! I learned so much as I was researching for our trip and I had so much fun doing it! I started thinking about how awesome it would be to get to do this every day! The magic of Disney doesn’t have to end because our trip did. It can continue as I help others plan for their next magical vacation!! I was hired on as a Magical Concierge with Kingdom and Cruising!! I cannot wait to get started on this new venture! I’m so thankful to Bill and Natalie Smith, the owners of this company, for this amazing opportunity!

I will be specializing in vacations to: Walt Disney World and Disneyland, Disney Cruise Line, Adventures by Disney (guided tours around the world), Aulani, Disney’s island resort in Hawaii, Universal Orlando and more!! I will plan every part of your trip from lodging, park tickets, dining and extra magical experiences that only Disney can create! And the best part is that there is absolutely no cost for my services!!

Please reach out to me! I would love to make all your Disney Vacation dreams come true!!

Email:melissa@kingdomandcruising.com

Phone: (910) 986-2914

Instagram: kingdomandcruisingwithmelissa

Facebook: kingdomandcruisingwithmelisssa

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A Review of Magic Kingdom’s Early Morning Magic

Early Morning Magic is a limited-entry, paid event. This is totally different than extra-magic hours offered to Disney hotel guests. Early Morning Magic requires a separate reservation along with a park ticket purchase and is only offered on specific days of the month.

With the special ticketed event, the park opens at 7:45 am for guests to experience the following attractions with little to no wait:

  • Seven Dwarfs Mine Train
  • Peter Pan’s Flight
  • The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh
  • “it’s a small world”
  • Mad Tea Party
  • Under the Sea-Journey of the Little Mermaid
  • Prince Charming Regal Carrousel
  • Princess Fairytale Hall

When making our plans for the day, I wasn’t sure how often and early the Disney buses would be running, so we scheduled a Minnie Van to pick us up. Minnie van’s are used within the Lyft app while you are on Disney property. They fit up to 6 people and provide car seats. It was very convenient, and easy, however the cost from Art of Animation to Magic Kingdom was STEEP! $33!! The buses were running already when we left, my dad was able to catch one the same time we left in the van. Our driver picked us up right outside our room and dropped us off closer to the front of the park than the buses. If you want the convenience of getting in and out of the parks without waiting for the buses transportation and don’t mind the cost, this is a great option for you.

Once we got through security, we were directed to the left side of the entrance. We gave our name and scanned our Magic Bands and were given “Early Morning Magic” wristbands to wear. Once in the park there were cast members holding up signs directing us towards Fantasyland. This is a great time to stop and snap some pics in front of the castle without having other people in your picture.

Fantasyland was pretty much empty!! You can see in the pic of my daughter, there was no one else around! We went straight to Seven Dwarfs Mine Train and walked right onto the ride. Once the park opened at 9, Mine Train went to a 180 minute wait!! The only attraction that we had to wait for was Princess Fairytale Hall. Cinderella, Elena, Rapunzel and Tiana were the princesses there that day. Unless your kids are die hard Disney princess fans, I would not waste my time waiting in line. We shouldn’t have either. We should have made the most of our time riding the other attractions again while they had no wait. This was my only regret of the experience.

Once the park opened at 9 and the crowds started rolling in, we headed to Cosmic Ray’s Starlight Cafe for breakfast. It’s only open for guests of Early Morning Magic. You walk up to the counter and let them know the number of plates you need. For breakfast you get, pancakes, sausage, bacon, breakfast potatoes and eggs. There is also a bar open for fruit and pastries. You also get soda, juice, coffee or water with your meal. It was so much food!!

I would definitely do Early Morning Magic again. This really helped us make the most of our day in Magic Kingdom. We saved so much time not waiting in lines or trying to move through the crowds. We were able to use Fast Passes on the other popular rides like Space Mountain, Buzz Lightyear and Haunted Mansion and some of these rides in Fantasyland can be hard to get FastPasses for. If you can fit it into your budget at $79 per adult ticket plus tax and $69 per child plus tax, it’s a MUST DO!!

How to get the Absolute Most out of the Disney Dining Plan and Where to Eat!!

We opted for the Disney Dining Plan (DDP) during our trip. The DDP includes : 1 Quick-Service Meal, 1 Table-Service Meal, and 2 Snacks for every night of stay. The quick service meal includes 1 Entrée and 1 Nonalcoholic Beverage (or Alcoholic Beverage) for breakfast, lunch or dinner. The table service meal includes 1 Entrée and 1 Nonalcoholic Beverage (or Alcoholic Beverage) or a full buffet and dessert with lunch and dinner. The cost per person is $75.49 for an adult and $27.98 a child ages 3 to 9 per night of stay. This was well worth the cost for our group. We ate a variety of food and had amazing character meals! Our kids met almost every character at Disney during our 4 days of meals.

The quick-service meals can be breakfast at your resort or any of the counter service stands within the parks. You can also opt to use snack credits for meals. You can get some GREAT filling snacks for breakfast rather than using a quick service meal. You want to look for this symbol when you are trying to determine if it’s included as a snack credit…but you can always ask a cast member if you aren’t sure.

You will also receive one of these Disney refillable mugs from your resort when you purchase the DDP. You are able to use this mug for refills on fountain drinks, coffee and tea during your stay. I filled mine up with coffee every morning to take with me to the parks.

So here’s what our 4 days of dining in Disney looked like:

Hollywood Studios:

Skipped breakfast and grabbed some pop-tarts on the way out of the door

We grabbed some snacks at Woody’s Lunch Box in Toy Story Land. The chocolate-hazelnut lunch tarts and the yogurt parfait were yummy here! These used snack credits.

We picked up chicken nuggets and fries at a quick service counter for lunch ( I can’t remember which one). **most quick service counters will have ice water available for you to fill up your water bottles

Our first character meal was dinner at Hollywood and Vine. This was our favorite character meal. The characters were so interactive with the kids and the food was delicious. It was a mixture of salads, meats, shrimp, and breads. Each buffet has a kids section. They have mac n cheese, chicken nuggets and corn dogs nuggets. The counters are lower for them to fix their plates as well. We chose the Hollywood and Vine Fantasmic package when making our reservation. This gave us VIP seats for the night-time show at no extra cost. Wish I could tell you how great the show was, but we were too tired to stay for it! The characters were dressed in summer/beach attire for this meal. This used one table-service credit.

Magic Kingdom: Day 1

We ate breakfast at Cosmic Ray’s Starlight Cafe in Tomorrowland. We had tickets for Early Morning Magic and breakfast was included with the ticket. (I’ll write more about Early Morning Magic in another blog post)

We had lunch at Cosmic Ray’s too. We spent the morning in Fantasyland and Tomorrowland. This was the first time we used the mobile food ordering through the Disney App. USE THIS ANY CHANCE YOU GET!! IT’S A HUGE TIME SAVER!!! We sat down, ordered our food, and were eating within a matter of minutes, while the mobs of people were waiting in lines to place orders and pick up. There will be a designated mobile order pick up line.

After the parade, we went to Gaston’s Tavern. We tried LeFou’s Brew (frozen apple juice). It was so sweet and refreshing after being in the heat during the parade. This used one snack credit. If you are wanting to use a snack credit for breakfast, the cinnamon rolls here look AMAZING!

We had another character buffet that night at 1900 Park Fare in the Grand Floridian. This was with Cinderella and Prince Charming, Lady Tremaine and Cinderella’s step-sisters, Drusella and Anastasia. I have to admit when we walked into the hotel, I started feeling anxious. We looked an absolute hot mess after being in the park all day. The girls had lollipop and ice cream all over their clothes, and we were melted by the end of the day! Some of these people were dressed to the 9’s!! When we walked into 1900, I felt more comfortable, everyone else looked just like we did! The step-sisters were hilarious and played their roles perfectly! The drinks were strong and delicious! This used one table-service credit. It was convenient to ride the monorail from Magic Kingdom to get to the Grand Floridian for our meal here.

Magic Kingdom: Day 2

We had lunch at Be Our Guest. Breakfast and lunch are quick-service meal credits here. It’s worth it to go just to have the experience of eating in Beast’s castle. There are 3 different dining rooms to choose from. The West Wing was closed, but a very kind cast member opened it up for us when he saw that our little one was sleeping and gave us a place to lay her down. The menu consists of salads and sandwiches and yes….the “grey stuff” is delicious!!!

Dinner that night was at Crystal Palace. This is a character buffet with Winnie the Pooh and friends. The kids loved this! A couple of times during the meal, the characters invite the kids to parade around the restaurant. This used a table-service credit. The buffet is a mixture of carved meats, breads, salads and veggies. The deviled eggs here are BOMB!

After dinner, I had my very first Dole Whip. It’s as good as everyone says it is. Don’t die without having a Dole Whip first! I used mobile ordering at Aloha Isle and picked mine up after Pirates of the Caribbean. This used one snack credit.

Animal Kingdom:

For our last day, we had lunch at Tusker House in Africa. This is another character buffet table service credit meal. The characters are dressed in safari gear and are too cute!! The atmosphere in the restaurant is really unique. The Magical Star Cocktail is delicious and exactly what I needed for our last day in the park. Bonus it comes with souvenir light up ice cubes. These kept our girls entertained. When we made our reservation, we booked the Rivers of Light dining package. This gave us VIP seats for the night-time show at no extra cost. The show is AMAZING, a can’t miss!!!

I know I just threw tons of dining info and recommendations at you, but I hope this helps as you are making your reservations for your trip!!

Tips and Tricks for Planning a Disney World Vacation

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I wanted to start a Disney series on here. Our family just got back from a magical 4 days at Walt Disney World. We planned the trip in just a few months. I searched numerous blogs and YouTube videos to plan this adventure. I thought I would put together all of the tips and tricks I found that worked for us that made our trip as stress free as possible.

  • carosel
    Decide what parks you will go to and how long you will stay. We spent 4 days total in the parks. 1 day at Hollywood Studios, 1 day at Animal Kingdom and 2 days at Magic Kingdom. We opted out of Epcot this trip. If your schedule allows, I would totally take a day off to spend at the resort after 2 days. I used WDW prep school crowd calendar to plan which days to spend in the park. This is super useful in showing you when crowds are lowest/highest in the parks according to the month you are going.
  • Decide if you will stay on or off WDW property. Staying on property allows you access to Advanced Dining Reservations (180 days prior to trip), book your Fast Passes 60 days prior and free Disney transportation to and from all the parks.
  • Book your dining reservations as early as you are allowed. We didn’t start planning our trip until 3 months before hand, but we’re still able to snag some great dining reservations!
  • Decide which Fast Passes you want and be ready at 7 am at the 60 day mark prior to your trip. You can do this on the My Disney App. Booking the FastPasses at back to back times worked great for us. Here are my recommendations for ones to book:

Hollywood Studios:

teacups

Slinky Dog Dash

Toy Story Mania

Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster

Tower of Terror

Magic Kingdom:

Seven Dwarfs Mine Train

Peter Pans Flight

All the Mountains (Space, Splash, Big Thunder)

Haunted Mansion

Animal Kingdom:

Flights of Passage

everest

River Rapids

Everest

Kilimanjaro Safari

*Once you use all 3 of your Fast Passes, you are able to book additional ones through the My Disney App while you are in the park

  • If you are travelling with any children that have ADD/ADHD, go to guest services in any of the parks and speak with them about getting a DAS pass. This helped out tremendously! They will scan the magic band of the person with the DAS pass and add it to everyone in your party’s bands. If there is an attraction or ride you are not able to physically stand and wait for, ask the cast member if you can use a DAS pass. They will give you a return time to come back to the attraction.
  • Rent a stroller!! I cannot stress this enough! We rented ours through Kingdom Strollers. We got a Citi Mini Single for 4 days for $65. It was at our resort when we checked in. It comes with your name tag already on it, a rain cover, and cooler. You can also add a diaper bag hook for $5. It was comfortable enough for her to sleep in it during the day at the park. It folded up easily, even with stuff in the bottom. And we saved room in the car by not having to bring ours.
  • Pick up a map when entering the park to find out show times/parade times during the day. Plan time for rest breaks to get out of the heat to check out one of the awesome shows at any of the parks.
  • Lastly, enjoy the time with your kids and watching their faces light up!! We were surrounded by couples and families fighting and so frustrated with one another, they were missing out on what was happening around them. So when you’re feeling stressed or getting frustrated, look at those sweet excited faces, that’s why you’re here!!
babe
castle

Sleep Training a 1 year old-Day 2

If I could sum up last night in one word it would be, DEFEAT!

She had her bath, we rocked and she went down to sleep in her crib so easily. I was sure it was going to be even better than last night. She woke up at 9, 11, and 5 more times after that. Each time she woke, I patted her back until she fell back asleep.  Once 2 am rolled around and she was still not sleeping soundly, I brought her into our bed. That didn’t help either. She was restless and cried off and on the rest of the night.

We’re exhausted and like I said, feeling defeated. But I know my God is faithful and my prayers for her to have a peaceful, restful, full night of sleep are not going unheard. I’m praying for his super-human strength today and restoration. I’m repeating Isaiah 40:31 over and over today.

“but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.”

Let’s see what Day 3 brings..

Sleep Training a 1 year old-Day 1

Since 6 months old Harper has been sleeping in our bed (btw something I said I would never allow!). Between the constant ear infections, colds, teething, so on and so on, putting her in the bed with us, was the only way we were going to get any sleep. The last few weeks, she’s been having night terrors, and constant restlessness during the night, so we are no longer sleeping at all.

So I’ve decided it’s time to make the transition from our bed to her crib. When you Google “toddler sleep training” it’s overwhelming the number and types of responses you find. 5.5 million results actually, from mommy blogs (like this one), to MD websites, to parents.com. I am going to try a way that I think will work best for me and for her. (P.s. every child is different so my way may not work for you and yours) Last night was night 1 and here’s how it went down:

730ish to 8ish–she had been playing for a while, started getting fussy and rubbing her eyes. I took her into her room, turned the lights off, and sound machine on (I don’t really know if this works or not but here’s the link to the one I have Munchkin Nursery Projector ) We rocked and I prayed, and prayed, and prayed until she started falling asleep in my arms. I stood up and she stirred, so I held her until she fell asleep, then I put her in her crib. She woke up, so I patted her back and she fell asleep. This took several rounds of me patting her back, then her waking up when she realized my hand was off of her. As I walked out of the room, she stood up in her crib and was crying. I decided I was going to continue walking out, get myself ready for bed and if she was still crying, I would go back in.

810–She was still crying after about 10 min. I went back into her room, and rocked her, and prayed, and prayed, and prayed, until she was asleep. This time when I laid her in her crib, she didn’t wake back up.

820–Mama has a glass of wine and chocolate (I strongly recommend both while sleep training)

1100–She wakes up crying in her crib. I go back into her room, rock her until she falls back asleep and back in the crib she went.

She slept from 11 to 4am y’all!! I couldn’t believe it! When she woke up at 4 I just put her in the bed with us since the alarm was going off in an hour anyway. It was amazing!! Never underestimate the power of prayer! Only God got that baby girl to sleep that long in her crib and restored me after a night of sleep! I’m praying the rest of the week goes just as well. My goal is that she will be able to get herself to sleep when I put her in her crib, but for now I’ll take the 5 hours of uninterrupted sleep!!

 

A Letter to My Son on His 10th Birthday

It’s been 10 years since I met you. I looked into those tiny eyes, and held those tiny hands and felt a love I never knew existed. In these 10 years, you’ve grown into an incredible young man. In these last 10 years, you and I have grown up together. You’ve helped me to become a better person. I have made so many mistakes along the way, and for that I’m sorry. I know I will make more as we go thru this journey called life. The early years of your life were a whirlwind, and many of those days, you saw the worst in me. It was because of you and the grace of God, I had the courage to keep pressing on, to become the best version of me for you.

You and your smirky grin, and those deep blue eyes, make me melt. Your personality is contagious. You’ve never met a stranger. You pour out a love for the people around you that mimics the love of Jesus. I remember watching you running down the football field, and stopping mid play to help a teammate up off of the ground. You are so incredibly brave. That bravery was on full display when you stepped up to fill in for the part of Mr. Mayor in the play at school. Learning all your lines in a matter of hours. My heart overflows when I see you with your sisters. It’s like being a big brother is a role you’ve always been meant to play. You never complain when asked to do chores. You go out of your way to help me. You open up doors for me, and always ask if you can carry something for me.

You’ve shown so much growth this year, not just physically, but emotionally and spiritually as you asked Jesus to come into your heart. I pray everyday that God will help me to be the mom that you need. I ask him to help you be a light that shines for you, everywhere you go. He answers that one daily.

I am so proud of you, and proud of the man you will become. Ronnie and I, your dad and Alyssa, we all love you so much!

Happy Birthday my love!