Hey Mom & Dad...It is your vacation, too!

Ok, Mom & Dad...I think you all need a little talking to.  You work so hard for very limited vacation dollars.  You work.  You save.  You are going to take your kids to Disney.  You want this vacation to be absolutely magical.  I get it - and I am on board!  But guess what?  This is your vacation, too!  So start acting like it!

I cannot tell you how many families that I have talked to when the adult coordinator (usually Mom) tells me.  "Oh, that sounds like fun!  *sigh* But little Johnny would probably not enjoy that."  That is when I step and and firmly but kindly remind mom that little Johnny is not paying for this trip!

Yes, Disney is a great place for kids and families.  Yes, most of us parents plan a trip specifically for the kids or grandkids.  We are willing to cough up a lot of money to make sure they have a great time and and experience that they will remember forever.  But this is a family vacation, and everyone should get to do something that they want to do!

I  unapologetically tell my kids, that since we have done everything that you wanted to do all day long, it is my turn to pick.  End of story.  And you know what?  It works!  In fact, I think they like the idea of letting Mom or Dad be the kid and have some fun our way. 

Disney actually is on board with this idea, and makes it easy for parents to have fun, too!
  • Dining - If you want to try a nice restaurant or a more adventurous spot, Disney has you covered.  Kids are welcome anywhere, except the super-posh Victoria & Albert's.  Every restaurant has a kids menu with a sub-set of the Disney kids menu staples.  Aim for a meal time close to when you eat at home.  At dinner, your kids should be appropriately tired from a busy day that they will hopefully sit still and behave.  Try not to ask to much of the little guys by pushing a meal into the bedtime hour.  We all know that can end disastrously!  I am not ashamed to admit that I will use the next day's activities as a powerful bribery tool.  (If the gentle warning "Santa is watching." works for you for the month of December, the "Mickey is watching." works just as well at Disney!) 
  • Rider Swap - If you have a kiddo that is to small to ride, or too scared to enjoy, it does not mean that you can't!  Take advantage of the Rider Swap option.  Essentially, the Rider Swap allows your family to stand in line once, but to allow each parent to ride separately.  Think of it as a fastpass for the second adult. 
  • Date Night - Disney has some great kids club options.  Several of the Deluxe hotels have clubs that will allow you to drop off your kids in a safe and fun spot for the evening.  Not only will you enjoy some grown up time, but your kids will have a ball!
  • Spa Day - Let your spouse enjoy the pool with the kids for the afternoon and you enjoy the spa.  A pedi for those tired feet is a great treat!
  • Head out Solo - This is a frequently overlooked option!  I regularly put the children and husband to bed and then take off on my own.  I enjoy a late night shopping adventure at Downtown Disney without my kids in tow.  I can do twice the shopping in half the time, and save money!  I will also often head out to a park that is open late.  It is a great time to take some pictures, scope out / preview attractions you are not sure your kids will enjoy, eat a great snack, or just wander around on your own.  Fair is fair, though...the next night you have to stay in with the sleeping kids and let your spouse go explore.
So, on your next Disney vacation, I strongly urge you to take a little time - even if it is only a few minutes and do something just for you.  You work hard - you have earned it!  I promise that your kids will forgive you if you have some fun yourself.  A happy mom is a good mom!  You can always remind your kids that the more fun YOU have, the more likely you are to return!  'nuff said!

Marathoning with the Mouse…

The Mouse Connection Blog would like to welcome it's second guest blogger, Lindsey Porter.  Lindsey loves all things Disney and is a Travel Agent with TMC Travel.  She is also in much better shape that I am...

My husband and I have made a pact to start exercising. Well, it’s more of a challenge really. I tend to do a little better when there’s some friendly competition involved. I thought I might start running again and when I thought about finding a race to train for, I thought about Disney’s big Marathon in January. When I started researching this topic, I was surprised (and excited) that Disney offered so many races to all types of runners during this weekend, not to mention all of the other races offered throughout the year they host. Although I currently can’t run from here to my mailbox without feeling out of breath, one of the races during the Disney World Marathon Weekend might just be what I need to get me motivated. What better way to reward myself for training for a race than a trip to Disney? Complete my race, then enjoy a week in the parks with my family? It might just work.

In 2012, the Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend runs from Thursday, January 5th-Sunday, January 8th. The festivities begin Thursday with Disney’s Health and Wellness Expo running from 10:00 am-7:00 pm at ESPN’s Wide World of Sports. Runners begin their marathon weekend here to check in and receive their packets. The Expo offers seminars on training, racing and nutrition. Runners can also pick up their marathon gear, and get information on the latest and greatest training apparel and equipment. The Expo remains open at scheduled times throughout the weekend. After participants check in on Thursday, they can head over to Epcot for the Pasta in the Park party from 6:30-8:30 pm. This includes a buffet dinner (pack those carbs on for a lot of extra energy!), a live DJ, character visits, and great reserved seating for Illuminations; Epcot’s nighttime spectacular! This marathon kick-off party requires a separate ticket and reservations.

Disney hosts the Family Fun Run 5K in Epcot on Friday, January 6th at 6:30 am (c’mon moms…you know your kids are up anyway…). This family event does include a stroller division, so if even the kiddos aren’t quite old enough to keep up the pace on their own two feet, families can still participate together. Participants receive a t-shirt, a medallion (or two if you’re pushing your little future marathoner in the stroller), a program guide, a goody bag, and refreshments throughout and after the race. Then, on Friday and Saturday at 11:00 am, at the ESPN’s Wide World of Sports Track & Field Complex, Disney hosts the Kids’ Races. Disney has a variety of events for kids all ages. There’s even a Diaper Dash for crawlers under 12 months old. All children under the age of 13 can participate in the Mickey Mile held on Friday. Children that participate in these events will receive a t-shirt, a goody bag, a medallion, and refreshments. Early Saturday morning (5:30 am…moms, I hope you’re not up this early everyday…) the serious runners get going in the Walt Disney World Half Marathon event. Participants in the Half Marathon will enjoy plenty of goodies such a long sleeved half marathon shirt, a Donald Duck finisher medal, refreshments, and much more including a Family Reunion Area with live entertainment and character appearances.

Just as bright and early on Sunday morning, Disney presents two opportunities to participate in the Walt Disney World Marathon. Runners can either run the magical 26.2 miles individually or they can sign up as a relay team of two people. Both races begin simultaneously in Epcot, wind through the Magic Kingdom (where the relay teams switch runners in the parking lot), continue through Animal Kingdom, Hollywood Studios, and back to Epcot for a big celebratory finish with Mickey and friends. Participants of the Marathon receive many of the same goodies as the Half Marathoners, with the exception of the Marathon finisher medals which have Mickey on them.

Now, I am fully impressed by anyone who can finish any of these events. 5K, Half Marathon, Full Marathon…they’re all amazing accomplishments in my book. However, there is one final event that can only be described as downright astonishing. It’s called Goofy’s Race and a Half Challenge. It’s for those runners who are, well, goofy. Runners participate in the Half Marathon on Saturday and the Marathon on Sunday to complete 39.3 miles of running in two days. Not only will finishers receive the Donald Duck medal and the Mickey Mouse medal, but the Goofy finisher medal, signifying that they completed both events. Make sure to go ahead and book yourself into a spa day at the Grand Floridian Resort on Monday. You’re going to need it.

Make sure to tack on a few extra days in Disney World after your event(s). With the wide variety of resorts and the awesome Free Dining deal going on right now for resort guests, why wouldn’t you stay to relax, celebrate, and show off those medals?

So, if the wide variety of family and individual events, the free dining, and the general perks of running in one of the events on Disney Marathon Weekend hasn’t convinced you to try it out, consider the following: Where else can you run a race through multiple countries in one day, take pictures with characters at music-filled and themed water stops, watch the sun rise over Spaceship Earth, wave to crowds on the Monorail overhead as you run by, run through Cinderella’s Castle while taking in the view of crowds spilling into Main Street USA, pass the breathtaking scenery around many of Disney’s beautiful resorts, experience the views of early morning Animal Kingdom, run down Hollywood Boulevard, and finally, cross over a finish line to celebrate with a dancing Mickey and Minnie Mouse? Nowhere but Disney World. And those may be all the reasons I need to motivate myself to start training.

If you want to join me in a quest for exercise, a healthier lifestyle, personal achievement, and a great excuse to visit Disney World, please contact me at Lindsey@tmctravelonline.com. From where to stay to when to run, I can help you plan your Walt Disney world vacation, and as always, my services are free. The Walt Disney World Marathon is a great place to start, but Disney hosts many amazing running events throughout the year. Please contact me for more information on any of the events listed below. No matter which one you choose to participate in, you can plan on the same magical atmosphere and Disney perks during them all:

January 5-8, 2012-Walt Disney World Marathon

February 24-26, 2012-The Disney Princess Half Marathon (geared toward us ladies!)

March 2-4, 2012-The Champion 5K (During ESPN The Weekend. This is by far my best chance to get my husband to participate.)

May 2012-Expedition Everest Challenge (Adventure run and scavenger hunt through Animal Kingdom…for those adventurous athletes.)

Fall 2012-Disney’s Wine and Dine Half Marathon (Most of this event is already full for Fall 2011. The slogan for this race is “The Run is a Beauty. The Party is a Beast.” Sounds like my kind of event.)

Thanks, Lindsey!  You have almost imspired me to put on my running shoes....almost! ;)


Minnie and Minnie Method Soap - a fun touch!

So, you guys know I love all things Mickey....no surprise there!  People often assume that my home is overflowing with the latest and greatest Disney collectibles and decor.  But surprise...hardly a Mickey in site.  My few items of Disney "stuff" is confined to my little corner of my office.  I display all of my trading pins on a bulletin board, and I have some photos, and posters around, but that is really the extent of it.

My girls have a bit more going on in their rooms, lanyards, trading pins, ears, plus princess and fairy stuff galore.  They are 100% on board with my Disney affection and think I am perhaps the coolest mom ever for helping people plan their Disney trips!  (My oldest is actually my best little PR person...she should probably be getting paid.)

As we were wandering the aisles of Target this week stocking up on school supplies we wandered over to the hand sanitizer (gotta send a big tub o' that stuff!)  and as I was putting a few vats of it in the shopping cart I hear squeals of delight followed by "Oh, Mommy!!!  PLEASE!!!"  It sounded odd because they never ask for things in stores - they are fanatically trying to save their money (and ours!) for a Disney Cruise this spring.  Extremely curious as to what had them so excited and willing to actually spend money, I went over to investigate.  They had found the cutest bottle of Micky and Minnie hand soap from Method.  At only $3.89 it was absolutely going home with us.

Minnie now sits proudly in their bathroom.  Preliminary studies indicate that children in my home are much more likely to wash their hands if they get to use the cute Minnie Mouse soap.  Who knew?!?  Perhaps I should make Minnie disappear until cold and flu season is in full swing.

So if you want to add some Mickey or Minnie fun to you home to get excited about your trip...or to mitigate post Disney vacation funk, head over to Target and get you a bottle!  Of course, now I am left wondering, it this the beginning of "Mouse Creep" in my home....


Free Dining Announced for Many Dates In 2011 & 2012

The free dining announcement announced this morning is even more delicious than the wildly speculated rumor circling every corner of the internet over the last week!  Disney has announced free dining dates for many travel windows through the end of the year and even into 2012.  The savings for this promotion can quickly add up, making a favorite for many guest (especially those staying in Value and Moderates.)  As an FYI, a hefty room discount is often the best promotion for those staying in Deluxe resorts (still no word on what, if any room discounts are coming.)

So here is the scoop:

2011 Travel Dates
October 2, 2011 – October 8, 2011
October 23, 2011 – November 5, 2011
November 13, 2011 – November 19, 2011
November 27, 2011 – December 3, 2011
December 11, 2011 – December 17,2011

2012 Travel Dates
January 8, 2012 to January 14, 2012
January 22, 2012 to February 4, 2012
February 12, 2012 to February 18, 2012
March 4, 2012 to March 10, 2012
March 25, 2012 to March 31, 2012

You can book this discount from August 3 - Oct 29 pending availability.  A three night minimum stay is required as is a 2 day ticket.

This will be a very popular offer, folks!  Do not delay with making your plans.  If you are still tentative about your travel plans I would recommend that you go ahead and reserve your spot.  A $200 deposit is required to do so and it is fully refundable up until 45 days prior to travel when your final payment is due.

As always, I would love to help plan your Disney vacation.  As a reminder TMC Travel never charges a fee for our services and we offer a free gift for everyone in your travel party with the purchase of a 4 or more day vacation package!

If you have already booked a trip with me, be assured that I have spent the morning on hold with the Mouse having the discount applied to your existing reservation.  I will be contacting you with some good news soon!