Win a free FastPass for a day for your entire family.

Tom Sawyer Island at Magic Kingdom. Walt Disney World

Tom Sawyer Island at Magic Kingdom. Walt Disney World

A few weeks ago, we learned about a fun game at the Magic Kingdom. Every morning, cast members hide five paint brushes on Tom Sawyer Island. The lucky ones who find these brushes are rewarded with fast passes for the day for their entire family! Cool, I thought, as I started planning my ‘hunt’ around the island. How hard could it be? Right?

The first boat to the island left the dock at 10:00 this morning and we were on it. Our plan was to split up so we could cover more ground and then report back at a certain time to see who had found a brush. We hit the ground running (literally). A quick trip around the island made me realize just how hot and humid it really was, even at 10am.

I figured it would take us about 15-20 minutes of searching to find a brush. Well….it didn’t quite work out that way. After 30 minutes of intense searching in the heat and humidity, we knew it wasn’t going to be easy. We looked behind trash cans, throughout every nook and cranny of the fort, under chairs, and in the bushes. We even looked throughout the three caves on the island, where we had to use the light on our phone to search in the dark. Still nothing. And we weren’t the only ones having a problem. I asked several other people how they were doing and none of them had found a brush either. So much for stumbling on a brush; these were hidden well.

Hidden paintbrush on Tom Sawyer Island

After an hour of searching in the heat, we headed back to the boat without a paint brush, and more importantly, an all-day FastPass. Overall we had a lot of fun, and if nothing else, it was something different to do. We go to the park enough that I didn’t mind losing an hour where I could have been doing something else. If you don’t make it to the park often; however, I would suggest skipping this scavenger hunt and enjoying the rides instead. But….. you never know, you just might be the lucky one who finds a paintbrush and gets to enjoy FastPasses for the day. Good luck!

Discover the magic of Walt Disney World® Resorts and parks on a Walt Disney World® Family vacation, and share the joy of Mickey Mouse and company with your kids. Let Ears of Experience plan the perfect Disney trip for you and your loved ones. Contact us today at 1-877-80MOUSE. We look forward to sending you on the magical vacation of a lifetime.

www.themouseexperts.com

Top 10 reasons to visit Disney this summer!

Summertime at Walt Disney World

Yes it is hot in the summer. Yes it may rain briefly in the afternoon but there are many reasons to go to Disney this summer. Last June we went and we found it less crowded than our trip in October. We believe it is because so many people have been told to go in October that this has become a peak time. October is actually one of our busier months for clients now. So yes it will be hot and there will be crowds but we can help you manage those things and with all the promos Disney has come out with, there are fewer off season times than in previous years.

1. Everything is open! Attractions are not closed for refurbishments.

2. Extended hours. You can actually budget better than during other times of the year; ask us how. No matter when you decide to visit Walt Disney World in Orlando, the fact is there are always going to be crowds, especially for the rides and shows. During off-peak times, Disney cuts back hours at the parks and may not have as many ride vehicles going. This allows them to reduce manning; however, wait times end up being nearly as long as they may be during the summer time. So by going when there are extended hours when all of the attractions are open and having a plan for when you travel, you will be able to enjoy more and have a more flexible vacation.

3. Break up the summer. We all start the summer refreshed, loving the pool, and spending time with friends, but soon it all comes to feel like another schedule. Break it up with a trip to Disney, either short or long. We can help you experience a little magic either way. You don’t HAVE to set an entire week aside for Mickey.

4. If you do have some extra time, Wizarding World of Harry Potter is now open at Universal Studios and Sea World is offering $5.00 tickets this summer for kids! Take a day-trip to one of these fun places.

5. New things to see this summer include a new parade and new fireworks. Not to mention a dance party at Hollywood Studios and Tower of Terror has mixed it up.

6. Major airlines pricing roundtrip air in June/July from:

Huntsville, $148          Boston, $192

JFK, $238                      St Louis, $174

Detroit, $169                Chicago, $193

Charlotte, $158           Houston, $276

Atlanta, $138               Washington DC, $155

*Low-cost carrier rates may be lower. Subject to availability. Pricing at time this was published.

7. Time to get together with family and friends. We find this time of year is the easiest time friends and family can all get time off to get together. Turn it into a family reunion. There are so many things for folks to do at Disney. If you have members in your party who say they don’t like the parks, there is always golf and fishing, or even the Richard Petty race car driving experience. There is something for everyone and the summer affords the time for most to gather together and enjoy one another. Not everyone has to sit around the house all day and do the same thing together. They can all go off and do their own thing at Disney and meet up at the end of the day.

8. Throw some fun and entertainment into your summer. When I was young, my parents use to drag me to boring museums in the summer with no thrill to them. Then we would head to Cedar Point for one day of fun each summer. Why not do it all in one trip? There is so much to do at Disney; it is 47 square miles, and it is both fun and educational. You can learn about recycling while playing a game (in the AC), build a rollercoaster while doing math (in the AC), see how they are growing the next generation of plants on a boat ride (in the AC), or fly over California in a hang glider on Soarin’ (in the AC). See a theme here?

9. Savings this summer. Prices as low as $860.88 for a family of four, two adults, two kids (between the ages of 3 and 9) for four nights and five day tickets. Kids stay and Play Free, Free dining, up to 40% off resort rooms, so many ways to save money!

10. There’s no time like the present! Don’t wait any longer to head to Disney for some summer fun and excitement and to build memories you and your family will never forget. Call us today to help you plan the trip of a lifetime.

Discover the magic of Walt Disney World® Resorts and parks on a Walt Disney World® family vacation, and share the joy of Mickey Mouse and company with your kids. Let Ears of Experience plan the perfect Disney trip for you and your loved ones. Contact us today at 1-877-80MOUSE. We look forward to sending you on the magical vacation of a lifetime.

www.themouseexperts.com

Ears of Experience’s New Promotion with Princess of Tides

Ears of Experience’s NEW Promotion Now through May 26th! Win a Free Princess Dress! Sign up as a fan of both Ears of Experience, LLC and Princess of Tides Facebook pages to be entered in the drawing. You can also refer a client to Ears of Experience to enter a chance for the drawing as well. Email amy@themouseexperts.com once you sign up and you will be entered. If you are local, you can pick out your dress, if you are not, Ears will send it to you (shipping is included in the promo for out of towners).

Princess of Tides Snow White Dress

Win a Free Princess Party at Princess of Tides

Now through August 15th. Refer a client who books with Ears of Experience and you will be entered into the drawing.

For every client who books a trip that travels in June, July, or August, be entered in 5 times.

The more clients you refer, the more chances you get! It is unlimited!

The winner will receive a Magical Private Party for up to 12 guests in their Little Ballroom adorned with a wooden castle wall mural & chandelier 

~ The Princess of Tides Party Team (Staff) at your service~ Dress-up & Adventure Props including a flower halo with cascading ribbons, flower hairclip, or feather diva boa for guests as a keepsake

~ Special visits by Princesses, Characters, or Stylists (Determined by Theme)

* If you are out of town or have boys, we have a comparable gift card option.

Discover the magic of Walt Disney World® Resorts and parks on a Walt Disney World® family vacation, and share the joy of Mickey Mouse and company with your kids. Let Ears of Experience plan the perfect Disney trip for you and your loved ones. Contact us today at 1-877-80MOUSE. We look forward to sending you on the magical vacation of a lifetime.

www.themouseexperts.com

*Certain restrictions apply with this promotion.

Disney Fairies, by ‘Kid Expert’ Nattie, age 10

Tinkerbell, at the Walt Disney World® Resort

Tinkerbell, at the Walt Disney World® Resort

The Disney Fairies became extremely popular in Disney’s movie Tinker Bell. Now you can meet and talk to them, or maybe even ask them some questions! You can meet them back in Toon Town in the big tent. You need to get there early because lines can get to 45 minutes in the first 10 minutes of opening. Disney takes care of these crowds by getting you into groups before the Toon Town section opens. TIP: Make sure you grab a times guide before you enter the park, because Toon Town and the other lands don’t open the same time as the opening of the Magic Kingdom.

          When a cast member asks you to “fly with them” to meet the fairies it simply just means the fairies are ready to

Disney Fairy Fawn at the Walt Disney World® Resort

Disney Fairy Fawn at the Walt Disney World® Resort

see you. You walk down a hall and every thing gets bigger, so it seems like you are getting smaller. Once you’re down to fairy size, you go into a room with the fairies in there. All the fairies are not there at once, but Tinker Bell is always there. When you approach them, they may ask you where you flew from or ask you if they can sign your leaf journals (a.k.a. autograph books). One time Fawn told me that I was 40 seasons old! She told me to stop growing because then I will become a grown up. Meeting the Disney Fairies was a really cool experience, and I recommend it to everyone.

Written by our Kid Expert, Nattie. Check out more of what she has to say as well as more tips and tricks at her Kid’s Only Page.

Discover the magic of Walt Disney World® Resorts and parks on a Walt Disney World® family vacation, and share the joy of Mickey Mouse and company with your kids. Let Ears of Experience plan the perfect Disney trip for you and your loved ones. Contact us today at 1-877-80MOUSE. We look forward to sending you on the magical vacation of a lifetime.

Disney’s Boardwalk Resort

We just got back from a quick trip down to the Walt Disney World® Resort. It was supposed to be a relaxing, cool October visit, but it turned out to be just the opposite. Orlando had a heat wave last week and we heard the record-breaking temperatures were the hottest it’s been there in October in 150 Years. It was brutal! And….add Columbus Day weekend and the Food and Wine Festival and it all added up to a hot, crowded place. Still, we managed to have a lot of fun and we tried to stay cool wherever we could.

This visit, we stayed at the Boardwalk Resort for the first time and it was beautiful. The decor is of a turn-of-the-century boardwalk, complete with restaurants, bars, carnival games, and all of the little touches that made you feel like you were really at an old boardwalk. Our room was large and had a balcony overlooking the boardwalk. We had heard of people not liking this resort because of the noise from the boardwalk, and although we could hear a little at night, it wasn’t too bad.

The resort is split into two halves, with one side for DVC members and the other for regular guests. There are two quiet pools for those who want to relax and one larger pool with a bar, water slide, music, and games. The water slide is set up to look like a classic wooden roller coaster along the boardwalk and my daughter said it was fun. There was an activities member at the pool each day playing music and pool games for the kids. My daughter even surprised us by singing kareoke in front of everyone!

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3CuZ-GKKsnw]

From this resort, you can either walk or ride the boat shuttle to either Hollywood Studios or EPCOT.  EPCOT was a five minute walk and Hollywood Studios was about 15-20. 

Overall, we loved this resort and would definitely stay here again. If you have a favorite resort, let us know about it. We would love to pass on any tips you may have.

Discover the magic of Walt Disney World® Resorts and parks on a Walt Disney World® family vacation, and share the joy of Mickey Mouse and company with your kids. Let Ears of Experience plan the perfect Disney trip for you and your loved ones. Contact us today at 1-877-80MOUSE. We look forward to sending you on the magical vacation of a lifetime.

http://www.themouseexperts.com/

A 40 inch tall ‘giant’, by Gil Pohl.

I had to write and post this to the Blog.  My three year old granddaughter, Violet, called all exited on Saturday morning.  She was talking so fast I could not understand what she was saying, but from her tone I knew it was big news.  Her Mom got on the phone and told me that they measured Violet today and she is now 40” tall, and that when we go to Disney World she is going to be able to ride Splash Mountain.  She has been measuring herself every week since July wanting to be big enough to ride some of the rides she could not last time she was at the park.  I know grandpa will be doing some park hopping to get them all in.  She will love riding Soaring, Test Track, Big Thunder Mountain, and all the other rides open to a 40” tall granddaughter.

– Gil

 PS: Remember that Ears of Experience now has an Ask Gil page on their website where I will be happy to research any questions you have on attending a Disney Park.

http://www.themouseexperts.com

Tips on Bringing a Child with a disability to Disney World

As I have walked around the parks, I have seen some of Disney’s most special kiddos walking around having the time of their life. These kids range in disabilities from autism, Downs syndrome, to disabilities you many not even notice. I kept thinking, how we as a company can help these folks. My background is in special education. I fell in love with this population in high school when I helped out in the “special ed class” as it was called back then. I went to college, got a couple degrees in education, one in special education and continued to teach in four states with kids from a variety of disabilities. I left teaching when my first daughter was born as my husband was gone a lot as a pilot in the Air Force. I have kept up with my love for these kids by teaching Sunday school to a group that ranges from 2-10 on any given Sunday.

We have read in reviews of parents with children who have disabilities and all over the message boards where kids have made steps forward, even leaps such as first words in Disney and how the Disney cast members have that level of customer service to really help a family with a special child. So our goal is how can we help others get there? Below I have given some points on what to consider when planning a trip to Disney World with a child with disabilities. Please feel free to contact us with any questions you may have. I would love to see more of these special kiddos in the parks.

 1. Evaluate the pros and cons to the resort properties you are looking at. Keep in mind you will want to come back mid-day for a break.

           Do your research on properties or book with someone that can answer the questions you have. At “Ears” we understand the economical toll a child with a disability has on the family’s finances at times. We are acutely aware of this when helping plan a trip for someone. For every person that comes to us for pricing, regardless of their travelling party’s needs, we offer multiple pricing options after speaking with them on their party’s specific needs and we give them information on each option. In addition, for parties travelling with children with special needs, we also give information on how each resort may effect their child. For example, the value resorts are a great way to save money and many children with autism like the larger than life iconic figures displayed around the property but the bus transportation can be an issue. So we like to tell them these things. We always notate with the hotel what a child’s needs are and request a room location that fits their needs but we cannot guarantee that location. So if you are driving in or renting a car, the value may be a good option. The hotels that have monorail transportation or boat launches are great as well because it makes the much needed and suggested mid-day break easier for you but the cost can be a factor so we look into what is better for you. This is our mission as a business, no two families are alike, each family’s vacation is their vacation and we assist you with that acutely in mind throughout the process. In addition, our policy for every client that books with us is we keep checking prices to make sure the price doesn’t go down and if a fare code comes out we can apply, we do it. This helps in keeping the price down.

 2. Make dining reservations ahead of time and notate all dietary needs. Disney will accommodate you if they know ahead of time.

            Disney is great about noting dietary needs on dining reservations. We can even do it when we make them online for our clients. These requests go to the restaurants themselves 72 hours prior to the reservations so they have time to prepare for an alternate meal if need be. I have been in restaurants in Epcot where the Chef came out to a table where there was a severe allergy to assure them he had prepared something safe for them. Yet another way Disney accommodates the individual so well.

 3. Plan where you will be each day, each night and go over this with the family before you leave, when you get there, and before you leave the room every day.

            For our clients who have kids with special needs, in addition to all that is included in our final packet for every guest we book;  the maps, itinerary guidelines, dining reservations, our tips and tricks, and our kid expert’s tips and tricks, we also include note cards on a ring for the child with the timeline of events catered to them. This will have pictures of rides, the parks they are going to, maybe a character greeting, and as they do these activities, they can check them off or mark them with a sticker. The combination of our prepared itineraries, the dining all set for them with any special dietary needs their child may need already notated to Disney, and the maps they can study as a family together beforehand, all make the anxiety a little less. We even give them a little notebook to have handy if they need something to keep the child pre-occupied while they are waiting for something.

The packet our clients receive
 The packet our clients receive
 4. Get pictures and videos of some of the most popular attractions to share with your children before you go.

            We direct our clients to our YouTube account and our photo album to show their family what things look like before they go. They will also get the note cards to hold onto as a reminder. This seems to make the unknown a little less uncertain.  There seems to be a video of almost every ride on Youtube. Make sure to preview first to ensure it is appropriate for younger ones.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P3y85M5I-Q8]

5. If your child has sensory issues consider an iPod, mp3 player, or cd player with their favorite music, noise cancelation headphones, or at least ear plugs to help reduce some of the outside noises.

            There are all sorts of smells and sounds you and I may not realize but a child sensitive to these things can become very uncomfortable with. The clanging of the trolley, the music and fireworks of the stage show at the castle, and the smell of chocolate from the candy store are just examples on Main Street USA. If you can knock out some of those sounds, the child can take in the things they really want to enjoy.

 6. Know how to use the Guest Assistance card, where to get it in each park, and how to make it work best for you.

            This is a tool Disney has given to families with children or persons in their travelling party that have disabilities you may not see. Standing in line with people in close proximity to you is something many kids with special needs simply cannot handle for long and for that reason, Disney has come up with this option to help make their trip magical. Be informed on it or book with someone that is. It is a simple system and not something to be stressed about. We encourage our clients to text us if they are having a problem at the park acquiring a Guest Assistance card for a child who needs it. We have yet to have someone need to text us for this reason but they know they can.

 7. Don’t try to do it all

            It is important to take that break and to not push it. You may be having a great day so you think, “why not, let’s watch the fireworks from the park.” If you have thought the fireworks were going to be an issue, don’t push it. There are plenty of places to watch them far away from the crowds. For the Magic Kingdom Wishes fireworks; the beach of the Polynesian and the Ferry Dock at the Ticket and Transportation Center both are great unobstructed views of the fireworks where you can hear the music as they pipe it in and you do not have the crowds, before, during, and after to deal with.

            Some kids do not do well with the parades and it is not the parade itself, it is the chaos of the crowds. One of our research families with a child who has sensory issues found being at the end of the parade worked well for them as the biggest crowds tend to congregate at the beginning and cause a bottleneck after it passes. We have also mentioned other areas to our clients that seem to work well depending on the child’s specific needs.

            Pick the must dos and everything else is a small victory if you get it done. You will be amazed at how much you will get done but this way you don’t feel like you are on a marathon trip. That can put a lot of stress on any family.

Discover the magic of Walt Disney World® Resorts and parks on a Walt Disney World® family vacation, and share the joy of Mickey Mouse and company with your kids. Let Ears of Experience plan the perfect Disney trip for you and your loved ones. Contact us today at 1-877-80MOUSE. We look forward to sending you on the magical vacation of a lifetime.

http://www.themouseexperts.com/

Where can you find Princess Ariel

From Marin, our five “and ¾” year old Princess expert.

I like Ariel because she is a Princess and she is pretty. I like the part in the movie when she sings and saves the prince.

Marin talking to Arielle at Walt Disney World

I first saw her in the Grotto on a rock. She sits on a big rock and there is a little rock next to her where you can sit. She asked me questions about my pins. She said “Maybe you could get a pin of me, Flounder, or Sebastian.” She is very pretty. I like her red hair, sparkling tail, and purple bikini top.

I saw her next at lunch in Norway in Epcot. When I first saw her, she asked me where I was from. She then asked me if I walked or swam. My mom said we drove. I liked how she told me I could stand on the chair even in a fancy restaurant because it would take a good picture.

I like Ariel better as a human than as a mermaid. In the grotto she is a mermaid and at lunch she is a human.

Written by our little Kid Expert, Marin. Check out more of what she and her sister have to say as well as more tips and tricks at her Kid’s Only Page.

Marin and Arielle at Norway in Epcot

Marin and Ariel at Norway in Epcot

Marin and Arielle in the grotto at Walt Disney World

At the grotto

Discover the magic of Walt Disney World® Resorts and parks on a Walt Disney World® family vacation, and share the joy of Mickey Mouse and company with your kids. Let Ears of Experience plan the perfect Disney trip for you and your loved ones. Contact us today at 1-877-80MOUSE. We look forward to sending you on the magical vacation of a lifetime.

http://www.themouseexperts.com/

The Rock ‘n’ Rollercoaster® Starring Aerosmith Attraction, by Guest Blogger Madison, Age 10

Guest Blogger Madison

Guest Blogger Madison

The Rock ‘n’  Roller Coaster® Starring Aerosmith Attraction is one of my favorite fast roller coasters. It has a rock theme. The beginning gets you really pumped up. First you go into a room. There is a big television screen in there. It plays a fun little show on what you’re going to do and how this whole ride is started.  Once the show is over you walk out of the room and into a place where the ride is. When it is your turn to go you get into a super long ‘limo’ and you wait for the people in front of you to go. When you are at the front there is a big screen that counts down then……TAKE OFF!

This ride goes from 0 to 60mph in about 3 seconds! It is really fast. This ride goes upside down and there are twists so those of you who get sick on a fast roller coaster…….DO NOT ENTER!!!!! When the ride starts and you go into the darkness of the roller coaster you see the start of a road. The roller coaster tracks are supposed to be a road. You go through signs and closed roads. To make it even better there is music playing at your seat!

At the end you slow down to a ‘red carpet’. There are lights and a white hood above you. You get to walk out to the gift shop and see your pictures. Best of all they let kids ‘work there’ if you want to buy the picture. The Rock ‘n’  Roller Coaster® Starring Aerosmith Attraction is one of the fastest Walt Disney World® Rides. If you’re up for an adventure, remember this ride!

 [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gm4R37nPko4]

What’s Up With The Mickey Hats?, by Kid Expert Nattie, Age 10

The Mickey hats, yes a true icon on almost every Disney picture. But, why Mickey hats? Why not Mickey bobble heads, Mickey action figures, or Mickey masks? Well I think kids, AND adults want to look like Mickey while being comfortable. See you can drop Mickey bobble heads or actions figures and be uncomfortable in a Mickey mask but Mickey hats are just perfect! Another reason is parents can spot their kids in summer crowds, or just have a nap under those no-more-sun-like ears. There may be some other reason none of us would even stop for a second to think about.

The last time I went to Disney I saw a ton of different types of hats. There were pirate, wedding, casual, princess, train-like, and countless different types to choose from. Yet, every day in the parks, I bet you will see at least one Mickey Mouse hat. Trust me.

mickey hat

Written by our Kid Expert, Nattie. Check out more of what she has to say as well as more tips and tricks at her Kid’s Only Page.

Discover the magic of Walt Disney World® Resorts and parks on a Walt Disney World® family vacation, and share the joy of Mickey Mouse and company with your kids. Let Ears of Experience plan the perfect Disney trip for you and your loved ones. Contact us today at 1-877-80MOUSE. We look forward to sending you on the magical vacation of a lifetime.

http://www.themouseexperts.com/