Travel Agent or No Travel Agent

When you consider all of the information available on the internet, it is easy to do all of your own research and travel plans. And, for many, this is a fine way to plan your Walt Disney World, Disneyland, or Disney Cruise Line vacation. But, there are those who just don’t want to put THAT much thought into making the arrangements. That is where having an Authorized Disney Vacation Planner at your side makes sense.

These folks are specialists in all that takes place within the Disney Destinations galaxy! They keep their ear to the ground to stay informed on changes to reservation procedures, dining options, ticketing, or pretty much anything else within The World! And, with the advent of MyMagic+, MagicBands, and My Disney Experience, it becomes even more important to understand ALL that is taking place at Walt Disney World.

Disney Logo

Disney Vacation Planners can take care of every aspect of your travel arrangements, or they can help you do whatever you are comfortable doing on your own. But, there are those who DO want to do it all on their own, and that’s fantastic! If you have to time to pour over all of the options, resorts, ticketing, crowd predictions, etc., then by all means, hit the internet and get your plans rolling. I would ask, however, that you keep in mind that if you ask a travel agent for advice, and are not using their services, they don’t have to assist you. Many will, but it’s not fair to them! I would suggest that if you have questions, you call Disney directly and talk to a Cast Member. They will do all they can to answer your questions.

Yes, I am working to build a Disney travel business. It is all that I do! But, I’m not writing this to promote myself, or anyone else. I just wanted to try and give you food for thought if you are planning to head to any of the Disney Destinations anytime soon! Remember, the longer you wait to book, the more it is likely to cost!

Have a Blessed and Magical Weekend, my friends!!

The Greatest Gift!


I want to take this moment to thank you for visiting my blog and giving me an outlet for my Disney addiction. Most especially my love for the Walt Disney World Resort!

However, as this week was approaching, I was contemplating what I wanted to do for this week. And, I decided to just tell you all about the Greatest Gift I have ever received. That gift was first found laying in a manger! He was God’s gift to us all! And, as I read my Bible, I am reminded how much he was meant as a gift for ME! I do not live a perfect life, I can’t because it is impossible on this side of heaven. But, I am so grateful that because of him, I can be made perfect in the next life!

About thirty-three years later, he was hung on a cross for my sin! And, he would have died on that cross if I was the ONLY one on earth! He died on that cross and on the third day, he arose again to live in heaven seated at the right hand of God! It’s a gift too big to fit in a box, a gift that cannot be adorned by pretty wrapping paper and a bow! It is a gift that is open and free to all who would reach out and grab a hold of it!

That gift, my friends, is Jesus Christ!

Yes, I am a Christian! I am not ashamed, nor am I afraid, to say so! I try hard not to judge how others live their life, and I truly believe that God loves all people! He just doesn’t love some of the choices they make!

If you are a Christian, too, please take time to help your family understand your faith! That could be one of the best gifts you can give them this year. If you are not a Christian, I respect your right to choose how you express your faith. I just ask for the same in return!

So, to all my readers, family, and friends….MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!

Have a Blessed and Magical Christmas Day!!

Water, Water, Everywhere

Fountain at the Imagination Pavilion
Fountain at the Imagination Pavilion

When Walt Disney first toured The Florida Project, he knew that one thing he would have to manage was all the water on the property. After all, it was literally swamp land! He hired the people he needed who had the imagination to see what could be, and not what was about the land.

Today, the management of all the water comes in many different forms, and sometimes you can find yourself standing in front of a water piece oooing and awwing!

The Magic Kingdom has the Jungle Cruise which uses a lot of water to provide guests with a Walt Disney Original experience. There are water features all around the park. Tom Sawyer’s Island is surrounded by water, there are water accents at the hub near The Crystal Palace, just to name a few.

EPCOT, I think, offers the most spectacular fountains on property! The upside-down waterfall at the Imagination Pavilion is very nice, the jumping water in the same area is fun to watch (and try to catch). My absolute favorite is the Innovention Fountain! The synchronicity of the soundtrack with the patterns and use of water cannons is both astonishing and captivating! I find myself wanting to stay there for a long while and losing all sense of reality.

The Innoventions Fountain EPCOT
The Innoventions Fountain

Disney’s Animal Kingdom has a lot of natural looking water features, some which may be getting a facelift over the next few years. These features are truly beautiful and breath-taking! I urge you to take a few minutes to take it all in and see the detail that the Imagineers put in to sweep us away with the scenery to support the Animal Kingdom themes.

Finally, Disney’s Hollywood Studios doesn’t ‘seem’ to have as much to offer in the way of water features. The largest to note is probably the area at Fantasmic! Which really becomes one of the cast members during this nighttime spectacular. It provides the backdrop for the projected scenes, and of course there are the watercraft flotilla that supports the music of the various Disney movies represented in the show. The most obvious water feature at DHS is Echo Lake! If rumor is accurate, though, this may be getting filled in to support changes to the park for whatever the Lucasfilm Acquisition may provide over the next several year.

So, take a look around and enjoy the different manners in which Walt Disney World uses water in the parks!

Until next time, have a Blessed and Magical Day!!

Updated Photo Album

I simply updated my Photo Album page! It now includes several pictures from our Recent visit to Walt Disney World, December 4-9, 2013. Please visit the Photo Album Page at . Thanks!!

Monorail system to close during non peak times for maintenance in early 2014

I wonder if they are taking them down at the same time, or will alternate? Sounds like a complete shut down to me.

Monorail system to close during non peak times for maintenance in early 2014.

Survived without Photopass +

On this past trip, I fought myself about whether or not to purchase the Photopass+ package. As it turned out, it was a good plan to NOT take it. Why? Because I only saw a few photographers at the normal spots inside the parks. Main St. in the Magic Kingdom, Tree of Life in Animal Kingdom, Spaceship Earth in EPCOT, and Tower of Terror at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. I saw no roaming photographers, and none anywhere else.

I carried my own camera and snapped a couple hundred pictures. Add to that two cell phones and one video camera with photo capture, and I have HOURS of stuff to go through. A preliminary edit has over three hours on a DVD slideshow.

I know with the creation of Memory Maker, that many are considering how this might impact their visit to Walt Disney World. This package will include all character dining pictures, ride photos, and the standard Photopass pictures. This is a good deal, IF you can find the photographers to take pictures. IF you are planning a lot of Character interaction. IF you’re riding all of the rides that offer on-ride photos.

The pre-purchase price is $149 if purchased at least three days before your arrival. If you choose to wait, the cost jumps up to $199. I can see where this could a benefit for some, but for my money, I can take a lot of pictures for $149. I may not have the on-ride pictures, but it seems to me that is the only loss I can experience.

I would suggest that you look at your plans very carefully and determine if this is a worthwhile expense for you. Keep in mind, that a Photopass Photographer will gladly use your camera, or cell phone, to take a picture for you at any of the usual places. If the package makes sense for you, by all means make the purchase before you leave.

Coming soon, mrsthreestrandswdw will be submitting a comparison study of our two most recent trips. They couldn’t be more different. Until next time, have a Blessed and Magical Day!!

Review of Art of Animation Resort

Art of Animation

Driving up to the Art of Animation Resort was quite an experience. The excitement covered my being as we made the approach and first saw the sign. After being welcomed by the guard, we proceeded to the front entrance where we were greeted by the big sign. Walking into the Lobby was quite an eye-opener. I learned that what you see on video doesn’t quite have the same impact as seeing it in person. The sketchings on the wall were breath-taking and added to the beauty of the lobby area. We were greeted by a friendly Cast Member, and given our room assignment. At the other end of the lobby is the Concierge Desk and the entrance to the Ink and Paint Shop. Just past the Ink and Paint, is Landscape of Flavors. This food court has plenty of room to sit and several drink stations around the room. Rapid Refill is in place at the drink stations, so keep an eye on how many you have left.

When you walk out of the back door of the Lobby area, you are staring at the Big Blue. This is the main pool area of the resort and is beautifully themed with Nemo and friends. This pool is the largest on the WDW property, and does not use chlorine in the water. The pool is flanked by the Finding Nemo Family Suites.

To your far left facing Big Blue is the Little Mermaid standard rooms. These rooms are about 10 minutes from the main lobby and bus stops. It’s a pleasant walk, so don’t let the distance keep you from choosing these rooms if you are looking to experience the atmosphere of AOA.

To the immediate left is The Lion King family suites. We stayed in these suites ourselves on our most recent visit. We found the rooms to be comfortable and of ample size to allow us all a little personal space. As you approach this area, you are greeted by Rafiki. Of course, Simba, the hyenas, and Zazu are all represented around the LK area. But, the most impressive is Timon, Pumba, and young Simba on the log overhead as you approach building 6.

Finally, to the immediate right is the Cars Family Suites. Again, the theming is beautiful! You feel like you have actually walked into Carburetor Canyon. The detail on all of the cars is amazing, and the pool is very nice. It’s not as big, but it is inviting and again well themed.

As you enter the suites, you open the door to the dining area. In our suite, there was a bathroom to the left of the entry. The Living space was straight ahead, and a separate bedroom was just past the dining area with a queen-sized bed and a second full bathroom with a walk-in shower. The dining table doubles as a Murphy style bed and is very easy to set up. And, there is a sofa-bed in the living area that is reported to be pretty comfortable.

Landscape of Flavors offers multiple cuisines to tempt any palate. I must admit, however, that the breakfasts leave a little to be desired, in my opinion. The food was bland tasting and the meat wasn’t cooked as well as it could have been. The dinners were quite tasty. I had the meatball sandwich and found it to be full of flavor. I’m not sure what the rest of the family had, as we ate in shifts that evening.

If you are using Disney Transport to get around to the parks, water parks, or Downtown Disney just walk out through Ink and Paint and go right. First slot is for the Magic Kingdom. All of the other slots are labeled with the destination and buses are frequent first thing in the morning. While the ‘official’ start is about an hour prior to park opening, I did notice most parks being serviced by 7:45am.

If you are looking for a unique experience with some fabulous theming, Art of Animation fits the bill! The property is spread out and is adjacent to Pop Century. The two properties are connected by a bridge near the center of the resorts. I noticed many people using this as a part of their jogging track.

I hope this look at the Art of Animation Resort is helpful to you. If this is a property you are interested in visiting, don’t hesitate to book it!

Thanks for reading! Have a Blessed and Magical day!!

Walt Disney World Restaurants Review

During our vacation to Walt Disney World, we experienced several different types of food. We had mostly good experiences and some that were a bit disappointing. Keep in mind that this is review comes from an everyday guy who only gets to visit Walt Disney World every few years or so. This means that my experience with Disney restaurants is very limited. And, we judge by how we find the meals to be during our visit. So, here we go!

On our arrival day, my daughters and I went to Downtown Disney for a visit to the Earl of Sandwich. I had heard so many great things about the sandwiches here, that I had to try it! And, I had my birthday code with me, so I had a freebie coming to me. I got the Ham and Swiss with Honey Mustard Sauce, which I found to be delicious! My oldest daughter got the Chicken Caesar Salad and really enjoyed it. While my youngest daughter got the Best BLT and she raved about how good it tasted to her. In fact, we enjoyed this place so much, the whole family went back right before we had to head home.

We then journeyed over the Disney’s Beach Club Resort for a taste of Beaches and Cream. My son attempted to take on The Kitchen Sink. He gave it his best effort, but in the end the Kitchen Sink won. My choice for the evening was the No Way Jose’. It’s a lot of peanut butter, but so very delicious! I did a pretty good job of taking care of the ice cream in my bowl. In case you haven’t heard, Beaches and Cream is now an Advanced Dining Reservation (ADR) selection. Keep that in mind!

This was dinner!
This was dinner!
Fifteen-year-old vs. The Kitchen Sink at Beaches and Cream.
Fifteen-year-old vs. The Kitchen Sink at Beaches and Cream.

For my birthday, December 5, we had dinner at the well-known ‘Ohana! I have to say that this meal was a bit disappointing. Not because of the food, but the service just wasn’t up to what we had experienced on our last visit. We were seated about 20 minutes late, which isn’t THAT big of a deal, but it took forever for our drinks to be served and there was a delay on serving food as there wasn’t enough ready. I will say, however, that once the food started getting to the table, it was an all-out feast! The only issue with the food was that I thought the pork wasn’t quite as tender as it should have been and a bit on the fatty side.

While at Disney’s Hollywood Studio, we had dinner at Mom’s Place. I mean, 50s Prime Time Café. I enjoyed Mom’s Old Fashioned Pot Roast very much! The meat was fork tender and the potatoes were just a little lumpy the way mom used to make them. I tasted the Pumpkin Spice milkshake one of my daughters had and all I can say is YUMMY! That was a really good shake. There was some fried chicken on the table that looked spectacular and I believe a bit of salmon. The food was very well cooked, but again, the service wasn’t quite the level I expect when dining in a Disney restaurant.

Next on our list was a surprise to us. After reading as much as I could about this restaurant, I wasn’t sure it was a good choice. But, with the addition of seats for The Candlelight Processional, it fit our schedule best. And, the dining experience I am referring to is…Nine Dragons at the China Pavilion. Many reviews don’t paint a flattering picture of the food or ambiance of this restaurant. Not only did we find it to be an excellent experience, but the food was very good! I would have to say that this was, indeed, our best meal on this vacation. My wife had the Kung Pao Chicken which had a spice that really took on a personality the longer it danced across the tongue. One daughter had the Honey Sesame Chicken and it had a sweet and slightly tangy taste to it. My other daughter and Mother-in-law had the Shrimp Fried Rice, but it’s not like the stuff you get down the street. This had jumbo shrimp and was served in a large bowl of fried rice. And my son and I enjoyed our Fragrant Five-Spiced Fish which became more delicious with every bite! The fish is slow pan seered to make sure that it is cooked through. The Five-Spiced Sauce is in a separate cup and can be used as a dipping sauce or poured over the fish. And, our server made this particular meal exceptionally enjoyable. We really liked Nine Dragons, and will revisit again in the future.

At Disney’s Animal Kingdom, our main meal was Flame Tree barbeque. And, I have to say that it was exceptional barbeque! The sweet and spicy sauce really adds to the flavor of any of the meats you might decide to eat. The only difficult part is that all of the sit-down areas are outside and there were a lot of birds hanging close to the tables. May I recommend the Shredded Pork Sandwich? The meat was very tender and juicy, and when you add the sauce, it becomes one of the most delectable sandwiches on property.

I got to take the Backstage Magic tour on our last day, which included lunch at Whispering Canyon Café. The meal was served in a family style and a few of the folks with me had special meal needs, so there was a lot of food to choose from. On the plate was shredded pork, bbq ribs, Italian sausage, bbq chicken, and mashed potatoes. Talk about down home barbeque! This stuff is really tasty, and the atmosphere of WCC is beautiful and has an open feel. You can find Whispering Canyon at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge.

The Crystal Palace, Magic Kingdom, Walt Disney World
The Crystal Palace, Magic Kingdom, Walt Disney World

The time came to eat our final meal and our choice was The Crystal Palace in The Magic Kingdom. And, while the pricing is a bit on the high side, the character interaction with Winnie-The-Pooh and friends is not to be surpassed. The food was well cooked and had good flavor, the service was adequate, but the visits from the characters made this restaurant a highlight of our trip.

Mrsthreestrandswdw may have more to add later!

Well, that’s it for now. Have a Blessed and Magical Day!