Maclaren Quest Stroller – Best Stroller for Disney World

The Maclaren Quest Sport Stroller has been a valuable tool for traveling to Disney with my kids. I am about to embark on my next Disney World trip with my son and daughter and I will not be without my […]

Top Disney Halloween Costumes

Are you planning to attend Disney’s Not So Scary Halloween Party this year?  If so, you will want to have one of this years top 5 Disney costumes.  From Elsa to Izzy, Jake to Buzz, these costumes will have your son […]

stroller

Strollers at Disney World

When you travel with small kids, a stroller is a must-have item. Not only will it help with getting your little one safely around the park, but it also serves as a great place to take a nap.  The day’s […]

WDW Entrance

First Stay on Disney Property

Select a Disney Resort for your First Stay on Property The resorts at Disney World are each a unique masterpiece.  All of the Disney Properties have a unique theme and style, and all live up to the magic.  As you […]

Beagle Puppy

Bringing Fido to Meet Pluto

Bringing your Furred Friend to Disney? Disney Offers Pets A Place to Stay. Why leave your puppy at home, when you can bring him or her with you. While most children will quickly forget about everything at home when touched […]

 

Maclaren Quest Stroller – Best Stroller for Disney World

The Maclaren Quest Sport Stroller has been a valuable tool for traveling to Disney with my kids. I am about to embark on my next Disney World trip with my son and daughter and I will not be without my two Maclaren strollers. My son has successfully made 7 trips to Disney, and my daughter has made 2. The Maclaren quest has come with us each time.

If you are looking for a convenient, strong and durable stroller without the extra bulk and weight, the Maclaren is the stroller to choose It is easy to fold, and has sufficient storage room underneath for baby essentials. There are an array of accessories that can attach to the stroller from cup holders, to storage sacks, rain covers and mesh netting.

We use our stroller throughout the parks and it is small enough to tote on and off of the Disney buses and monorails, and even the Walt Disney World Railroad. It is lightweight, and has held up to over 4 years of heavy use.

Southwest Overbooked My Flight, Now What?

The overbooking of flights is a common practice airlines use to ensure their flights fly full. Southwest allows overbooking of flights, and within the terminal you may commonly hear a gate agent calling for volunteers.

When a volunteer is needed, and your a glass half-full type of person, an opportunity is present. Volunteers are offered compensation to give up their seat and to fly another flight. The gate agent will present you with an offer that may include free flights, cash, and a re-ticket on the next available flight. If you are not in a rush to get to your destination, some of these offers can be quite lucrative.

It’s time to play Monty Hall, and make a deal. The Southwest gate agents do have some flexibility with their published compensation policy. It all depends on how many volunteers they need, and how many they are getting. You usually can negotiate your compensation a little higher – but for volunteers, it usually only comes in the form of a travel voucher. You will be offered the next available flight with seats, and then depending upon how soon you will arrive to your destination, you can receive a travel voucher compensation of $100 to $300 plus the amount of your one-way fare. Note: If your flight was booked using points or a companion voucher, you will not receive the amount of your one-way fare as your ticket has no-value.

When the airline cannot find volunteers in an overbooking situation, the conversation changes to Bumping. Bumping occurs when you are Involuntarily Denied boarding. Southwest has one of the better policies regarding bumping:

    When and if you get bumped, Southwest will schedule you on the next available flight with seats. They will discuss with you any change in flight plan such as connections or layovers.

  • If your alternative flight(s) is scheduled to arrive at your destination or stopover point within two hours of your originally scheduled flight(s), you will be compensated with a check or a travel voucher in an amount equal to twice the face value of your remaining one-way flight. Southwest caps the the maximum amount of involuntary denied boarding compensation at $650 in this scenario.
  • If your alternate flight(s) is scheduled to arrive at your destination or stopover point more than two hours later than your originally scheduled flight(s), Southwest will increase the amount of the compensation to an amount equal to four times your remaining one-way flight coupon(s). Depending upon what you originally paid for your flight, this can be quite large, capping out at $1,300.

    It is good to know your rights. The DOT regulations for passenger rights can be found here: http://www.dot.gov/airconsumer/fly-rights

Use a Car Seat when Flying with Children

Traveling with Kids: Should I Bring a Car Seat?

One of the things all parents should be concerned about when flying with their children is safety. While flying with kids isn’t the easiest thing to do, flying with a car seat may be an option that can make it easier. It may take several trips to master packing, installing and carrying the seat, but after a few attempts you will master your own technique. Below is some information you need to know in order to travel safely with your children.

    Consider using a car seat for small children. Whether you are traveling by car or by plane, a car seat is essential to keeping your child safe. If you are traveling by plane with a small child, and intend to bring a car seat, a decision is required as to whether you check the car seat under the plane or bring it on. This decision will depend on the age of your child, the size of the car seat, and whether or not your child has a ticket.

      Children 2 years of age and under may not require a ticket when sitting on the lap of a ticketed adult. This usually works out well for short flights, while the child is an infant. As soon as the child is able to sit on his/her own, I recommend purchasing a ticketed seat for the child. This keeps the parents and the children safe.

    If your child weighs under 40 pounds, then you may want to bring a car seat onto the plane. The Federal Aviation Administration highly recommends that children be secured in a CRS (child restraint system) when flying. A car seat on the plane must be rear-facing when your child is under 20 lbs and can be front-facing from 20-40 pounds. It must must be approved for use in both automobiles and aircraft and must fit within the dimensions of the seat. Make sure your seat has “This restraint is certified for use in motor vehicles and aircraft” printed on it, or the airline may not permit it’s use during flight. Check with your carrier for the dimensions of the seats. A car seat will keep your child comfortable and restrained, may give a familiar feeling of security, and can provide support for his/her head to allow them to sleep. It may also provide a clean area for your child’s small toys and snacks to fall, without contacting the dirty airplane seats, floor or tray table.

    There are alternatives to carseats. Check out my article on the CARES safety harness. It is an FAA approved child restraint that is easy to pack and to use. The FAA prohibits passengers from using booster seats and harness vests during take-off and landing as these types of restraints do not provide the best protection. Note: Just because your car seat is FAA-Approved does not mean that it will fit in the seat of your air carrier. Some car seats are way oversized and will not fit within the arm rests, will be too close to the seat in front, or will not have ample room underneath for the seatbelt latch to open and close. Check out this guide provided by car-seat.org that provides measurements for various child restraints.

    If you choose to check your car seat under the plane rather than bring it onboard, keep in mind that this is a free checked bag. It does not count against the bag limits that some air carriers have, and it does not matter if the child is ticketed or not. One carseat may be checked for free for each child traveling. On some carriers, you may check a carseat for free if you plan on meeting your little one on the other end – even if they are not traveling with you. Check out these great carseat carrier bags which will keep your car seat clean and safe from damage.

Top Disney Halloween Costumes

Are you planning to attend Disney’s Not So Scary Halloween Party this year?  If so, you will want to have one of this years top 5 Disney costumes.  From Elsa to Izzy, Jake to Buzz, these costumes will have your son or daughter ready to celebrate Halloween in style.

Did you know?  At the Magic Kingdom, Mickey’s Not so Scary Halloween Party is one of the few occasions that you are permitted to wear a costume in the park!


Strollers at Disney World

stroller

When you travel with small kids, a stroller is a must-have item. Not only will it help with getting your little one safely around the park, but it also serves as a great place to take a nap.  The day’s in the park are long and hot, and a short bit of shut-eye makes the day that much better.

For the past 3 years, 5 week-long trips to Disney World, a 1 week trip to Atlantis and many days of use at home, I have relied upon a Maclaren stroller.

Maclaren is known for their line of baby strollers including the following models:  QuestTechno XT, Techno XLR and many others.

I personally have two Maclaren Quest strollers which have been excellent for use within the parks.  They are small enough to use throughtout the trip, from the airport to the jetway, from the car through the park and everywhere in-between.  The quest baby stroller is lightweight and sturdy, and has ample storage underneath for all of the items you need to carry.  The seat lays down flat, allowing your little-one to take a mid-day nap.  The stroller comes with a clear rain cover which will shelter the rider from a light rain, or cool breeze.  Check out the stroller online at the link below:
[amazon template=iframe image&asin=B00B98DX7E]

First Stay on Disney Property

WDW Entrance

Select a Disney Resort for your First Stay on Property

Disney Cinderella CastleThe resorts at Disney World are each a unique masterpiece.  All of the Disney Properties have a unique theme and style, and all live up to the magic.  As you can imagine, there are variations on the prices and accommodation levels.  All of the resorts discussed here are on-property, meaning they are owned, operated and located within the Walt Disney World resort property.  They are conveniently located to the parks and all of them offer free Disney transportation.   All of the Disney Resorts now offer complimentary WI-FI internet. The resorts are categorized in ranges based on amenities and price, but all of them will offer an excellent trip.

In addition this article, I highly recommend these travel guides:

DK Eyewitness Travel Guide: Walt Disney World Resort & Orlando

The Unofficial Guide Walt Disney World

Value Resorts

This category offers the most affordable accommodations on property.  This category includes Disney’s All Star Sports, Music, Movies, Pop Century and the newest of this category, the Art of Animation resort.  All of these resorts are decorated with larger than life disney figures and oversized themes.

The All Star Sports resort features giant football helmet clad buildings overlooking a field filled with playbook X’s and O’s.  On the other end of the hotel is a Baseball themed pool with an enormous Coca-Cola cup.   Each value resort has multiple buildings all within walking distance of a pool and the main lobby.  The lobby includes a Gift Shop – Pantry Store  and a Food Court.  Most resorts have a small arcade as well. The All Star Sports resort is where I started out when I began traveling to Disney on my own as a teenager.  The rooms typically range from $85 per night during the Value season to as high as $195 during the Holiday season.

Most value resorts have two double beds and a single nightstand in-between  while some rooms are available with King Beds.  The rooms have a small bath room with a tub/shower combo and a sink and mirror directly outside.  A television on the main dresser is accompanied by a small seating table and two chairs.  These rooms are amongst the most basic available on property.  If you plan on spending most of your stay park hopping and not in the room, then this is the best room category for you.

Moderate Resorts

These resorts are a small step above the Value resorts offering more amenities, dining options and activities within the hotel grounds.  Disney’s Port Orleans, Caribbean Beach, Coronado Springs and The Cabins at Fort Wilderness resort are included in this category.  Moderate rooms are about 315 sq feet in size, or approximately 1/3 larger than the value rooms.  They offer similar amenities, with upgraded themes.

Disney’s Port Orleans Resort – French Quarter is inspired by the historic French Quarter in New Orleans.  The theme is enhanced by delicious Cajun food, jazz music, and dazzling parades. When walking on the resort’s cobblestone walkways, you will hear the sound smooth jazz in the background and will smell the sweet smell of magnolia blossoms in the air. The classic street signs, flowing fountains, and antique gaslamps may make you feel like you’ve been transported to the riverfront of the Mississippi.

Deluxe Resorts

These resorts take it one notch higher than the rest.  Amenities include valet services, improved dining options including room services, concierge services, motor sports and daily activities.  These are also some of the larger resorts.  Disney’s Grand Floridian, Polynesian, Contemporary, Wilderness Lodge, Boardwalk, Yacht and Beach Club and Boardwalk as well as the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin are in this resort level.

The Grand Floridian Resort is a Victorian-style hotel modeled after the Del Coronado in San Diego.  This is the flagship hotel of Walt Disney World which offers world-class dining, entertainment, and luxurious accommodations in its eye catching red-gabled buildings. It is located along the bank of Lake Buena Vista with views of Cinderella Castle and the nightly Wishes fireworks.  It is conveniently located on the monorail line, one stop away from the entrance to the Magic Kingdom.  This resort could not be closer to the heart of the Walt Disney World resort.

The Deluxe Resorts are some of the classics that have been around since my early childhood.  They all hold a piece of history and are worth a visit, even if you don’t make them your vacation home.

Villa Resorts

These resorts offer larger luxurious rooms and suites.  They offer accommodations for larger families.  Many of the Villa resorts are a part of the Disney Vacation Club (timeshare).  The Bay Lake Tower is one of the newest Villa properties which provides a balance of modern and luxurious features An impressive pool, luxurious rooms with contemporary custom pieces and views of the lush landscape near Bay Lake, the courtyard, pool or Magic Kingdom make this resort special.  It is also located on the Monorail line with convenient access to the Magic Kingdom, Epcot and the Transportation and Ticket Center.

Campgrounds Resorts

Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort is the best place to combine nature and magic.  750 wooded acres of lush pine and cypress trees contain fully equipped campsites which let you setup a tent, camp out or trailer stay in comfort. A walk on the quiet trails may include a wildlife sighting of deer, ducks or rabbits.  The natural landscape leads to a relaxing feeling of separation from the hustle and bustle of city life.

Four different types of campsites, including Premium Campsites can accommodate everything from tents to 45-foot and longer vehicles.  There is a maximum of  10 guests per site and amenities vary.   Each campsite is equipped with a private campsite, water, cable television, electrical hook-ups, picnic table, and charcoal grill. Some locations also include a sewer hook-up.

Your Home Away From Home 

Disney does a great job of making your stay comfortable and magical.  There is always a surprise waiting around the corner at these resorts.  On one of my stays on property, Goofy showed up at the resort pool for a swim.  The varied resort options have a fit for every budget and preference. With all of the exciting resort features, the on-property resorts provide fun and excitement beyond the parks.

We would love to hear your feedback regarding your stay on property at Walt Disney World.

Traveling with a Baby – The Top 5 Items to Pack

When traveling with a Baby, be sure to pack the essentials.

When preparing to fly with a baby, it is important to pack some items that are critical to staying comfortable and safe.. Not only do you have to pack for yourself, but you also need to pack for the little one.   Babies generally require more stuff to keep them clean, safe and occupied on the trip.

Feeding Supplies. When packing for a baby, food is probably the most important thing to remember. It is critical to pack enough food to keep the little one calm and content, and not hungry.  A little extra food goes a long way. Clean bottles, extra nipples, water, formula/breast milk and cereal are all essential items. If you are breastfeeding, be sure to pack any supplies required to accomplish this (sometimes in inconvenient locations).  Be sure to calculate the time from when you leave your originating location, all the way to the time that you reach your final destination.  Add a little extra to cover any delays you may encounter. Have a sufficient supply to cover a long delay at the airport, or even in the air.  Also consider the food you may need when you reach your destination.  If it will be late in the evening when you land, are there stores open where you can buy food, or do you need to carry this with you?

Portable Crib. A portable crib or Pack-and-Play is often a must for an overnight stay.  Your baby needs a safe place to sleep during your time away from home. The crib should be tested at home before you travel.  Be sure to know how to unpack, setup and break-down the unit.  When you arrive at your destination is not the time to unpack the unit for the first time.  Another tip is to bring a familiar item with a house-hold familiar smell.  A blanket that is used at home that has the smell of home may make it more comfortable for your child.  Pack an extra blanket and  some type of bedding for the portable crib so your little one isn’t sleeping on a hard mattress. Portable cribs also provide a nice and safe place for your child to play as well.  If you plan on renting or using a provided crib, be sure to bring some cleaning (bleach or antibacterial) wipes to give the unit a good wipe-down.

Clothes. When it comes to babies, you really can’t ever pack too many clothes. Spit up, food spills, and diaper mishaps will cause you to change clothes frequently.  When you think you have packed enough, pack more and you still will not have enough.  If you are staying somewhere with a washer-dryer, you may get away with packing a little less.  Clothes can be packed neatly in Zip-Lock bags which can be labeled by the outfit.  If you squeeze all of the air out the bags, they will take up less room when you pack.  As the clothing gets wet or dirty, you can repack them in the zip-locks to keep the other items clean.  Just be sure not to leave the dirty or wet clothing in the bags for too long or you will have moldy extra gross clothing to deal with.

Teething Essentials. Teething can start at any time, especially if your baby is close to four months old.  Teething rings, baby chew toys, Orajel, Motrin and/or Tylenol are great for relieving the pain.  Bibs are necessary to control excessive drooling.  If you happen to be traveling with a cooler, throw a frozen teething ring into the ice as you never know if it might save the day.

Diapers and Wipes. Finally, forget the baby diapers, wipes and changing supplies. Diapers can take up a lot of space, but they are must-have items and can often be difficult to find in the right brand and size at your destination.  Be sure to bring any rash creams or ointments that you may need should your baby develop a rash.  Often times you travel includes a change in climate, or frequent trips to a swimming pool which can lead to a diaper rash.  Regular diaper changes are essential to keeping your baby comfortable.

If you pack these items in your carry-on luggage and keep them within quick access, you will be sure to have what you need to get through most situations.

Bringing Fido to Meet Pluto

Beagle Puppy

Bringing your Furred Friend to Disney? Disney Offers Pets A Place to Stay.

Why leave your puppy at home, when you can bring him or her with you. While most children will quickly forget about everything at home when touched by the magic of Disney, some are very attached to their pet and there is no need to be far apart. Disney has an on-property kennel service which allows families to vacation with their dog, cat or small pet. Now it is possible to take your entire family with you when you vacation, which makes traveling much more feasible for many.

Disney Kennel

There is one central kennel located in the Walt Disney World resort. The kennel is operated by Best Friends Pet Care Inc., which is a member of the American Boarding Kennel Association. It is located on Bonnet Creek Pkwy. just outside of the Epcot Resort.

Only service dogs are permitted within the theme parks, hotels, buses, or monorails. All other pets are prohibited from these area. In order to transport your pet, you will need to provide your own transportation to and from the kennel.  You may want a soft sided pet carrier to transport your dog or cat safely.

The pet care facility is full of Disney style as this resort for pets offers daycare, overnight care as well as multi-day stays. Accommodations include Indoor and Outdoor units with many different size pet suites and villa. Depending on how much you want to spend to pamper your pet, your pet can go from basic accommodations all the way up to a VIP luxury 220 square foot villa, equipped with a flat panel television and webcam. Overnight boarding comes in handy if you are planning on staying for more than a day. Of course, Disney style means that your pets get a large air-conditioned area to run and play in. Your extended family member will get tons of attention, primping and pampering, and the best veterinary care possible if anything should be needed.

Packaged Amenities

The luxurious kennel has packages which include potty walks, large flat screen TVs, webcams, play groups, a turn-down biscuit, and so much more. Your pet will experience Disney treatment at its best! If the basics are simply not good enough, you can add-on Cuddletime, a Walk & Explore experience, Bottled Water, a Bedtime Story, an Ice-Cream Break, a Premium Bed or even in some seasons a Holiday Meal

So What Does It Cost?

Kennel fees are priced per animal, per day. The kennel is large and can accomodate almost 300 dogs, but this does not mean you should depend on having an available spot. While reservations are not required, the kennels do fill up quickly, so be sure to call in advance and make a reservation for the boarding of your animal.

Depending on the type of animal and the amenities that you select, prices range anywhere from $20 to about $100 a day. Kennel fees are priced per animal, per day. Boarding is available to all Disney guests, irregardless of whether you are staying on or off of Disney property. Discounted rates are available for resort guests (about $3-5 less per day). The basic prices are not much more than boarding your furry friend at home and you get the added benefit of being able to see your friend whenever you feel so inclined. A la carte items such as playgroups, cuddle time and even an ice cream break range from $3 to $15. If you have one or more dog, the kennel offers discounts for multiple animals sharing the same space. Dogs and Cats cannot board together. The kennel is large and can accomodate almost 300 animals, but this does not mean you should depend on having an available spot. While reservations are not required, the kennels do fill up quickly, so be sure to call in advance and make a reservation for the boarding of your animal.

  • A current vaccination and health record from your veterinarian is required in order for your pet to stay in the kennels.
  • Dogs must be up-to-date on Rabies, Distemper and Bordatella vaccinations.
  • Cats must have FVRCP and Rabies vaccinations.

Disney World installed their kennel so that you won’t have leave your family friend at home. After a long day of park-hopping, you can spend time with your pet playing in the dog park or enjoy a walk around the grounds. The kennel is open one hour before the theme parks open to one hour after closing.

Best Friends Pet Care
2510 Bonnet Creek Parkway
Lake Buena Vista, FL 32830
Phone: (407) 209-3126

Have you ever brought your pet with you on vacation? Please share your experiences below:

Disney Luggage for Kids – Heys Hard Side Carry On

At the age of 2, my son made his fifth trip to Disney World.  On this trip we gave him his very own children’s carry-on luggage.

Disney themed luggage is perfect for carrying items for your children to use in-flight.  It easily fits in the overhead compartment on most planes, or under the seat in front of you.  These Heys Hard Side bags are made of polycarbonite composite material which makes them durable for even the toughest of baggage handling. They come with in-line wheels for easy rolling through the airport.

These bags are available in many Disney themes.  Toy Story, Cars, Mickey, Minnie and others.

Delta Changed My Flight Time

ATL_12-29-08_N136DL_(3151283907)

I received an email from Delta that my flight time has changed.  This seems to happen often to me and the airline doesn’t matter.  In one of my first blog posts, jetblue changed my flight time – now what I wrote about this same subject.  Now that Delta has notified me that ” Your Delta itinerary has changed “, I figured I would summarize their policy as best as I understand it. Delta offers a free reporting tool called Delta Messenger.  This tool will send you an email if your flight info changes. It will update you if:

  • Your first ticketed flight departs within 0-60 days.
  • A schedule change occured and has adjusted a flight by more than 15 minutes later or more than 10 minutes earlier.
  • Your flight is arriving more than 45 minutes later than previously scheduled.
  • The aircraft type has changed.

You may receive a refund on a non-refundable ticket(s) when:

  • Your flight is cancelled and there is no Delta flight with a comparable route available within 90 minutes of the original time of departure.
  • A change in your flight departure time exceeds 90 minutes.
  • A change in the route of your flight adds one or more stops to the original itinerary.
  • A change in the route of your flight results in an arrival time of more than 90 minutes later than the originally scheduled arrival time.

As always, check with your Travel agent and confirm using the Delta.com website.  The information provided above is only as accurate as the research performed as a paying customer.  Call Delta if you have any specific questions regarding your flight.