Cruises are a great way to explore multiple destinations while enjoying all-inclusive dining and a wide range of entertainment while you sail. Cruise ships offer plenty of fun for everyone, whether you want a couples-only romantic getaway or are cruising with your extended family. With stellar weather all year long, deciding the best time to go on a cruise to the Caribbean can be tough. Below, I answer some of the most common questions about choosing a time to book a cruise.
What is the Best Month for a Caribbean Cruise?
January is one of the best times to go on a cruise. Low humidity, comfortable temperatures, breezy nights, and decreased rain chances are found throughout the Caribbean from November through April. It's also an excellent month for cruising if you want to avoid crowds. Since many people have just returned from family vacations during holiday breaks, they are less likely to take time off in January.
Plus, you'll get a welcome escape from the freezing temperatures, enjoying balmy 80-degree weather and mild ocean breezes while your friends and family shovel their driveways back home.
What Months Should You Avoid Cruising?
It is best to avoid cruising during peak hurricane season. Although hurricane season runs from June 1st through November 30th every year, the peak chance for tropical storm activity is in August and September. Cruising is not impossible during this time, however. Cruise lines update itineraries to avoid storms whenever possible. Also, your route may be modified if you're already on a cruise and a storm develops. If you want the best chance to cruise during these months without fear of a hurricane impacting your trip, opt for a southern Caribbean cruise to islands like Aruba or Curaçao. These islands lie under the hurricane belt and are rarely affected by storms.
When is the Most Popular Time to Go on a Caribbean Cruise?
Peak cruising season is typically November through April. Many people choose this as the best time to go on a cruise to the Caribbean. It's easy to see why: cruising during this time offers cruisers a welcome relief from freezing temperatures and snow. These months also encompass popular school vacation times like Thanksgiving, winter, and spring breaks.
What are the Cheapest Months to Go on a Cruise?
The best time to get great deals on cruising is during the "shoulder season," the months before and after peak season. Since peak season is typically November through April, the shoulder season is September, October, and May. September and October offer great discounts because it is peak hurricane season and a time when most families focus on getting their children into the back-to-school rhythm. May is another heavily-discounted month because it is sandwiched between the spring break season and summer. Some cruise lines offer incentives like onboard credits when you book cruises in May, especially for cruises longer than seven days.
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Whether you are visiting an Orlando area theme park or planning a cruise to the Caribbean, using a travel agent to plan your trip can help you save time, money, and stress. Here are the top five reasons you should use a travel agent to book your next vacation.
1. Save Time
One of the primary benefits of using a travel agent when planning a vacation is that we save you time. Whether you’re traveling as a couple or with a group of 15, we’ll take care of the logistics and details of getting everyone on board without spending hours ensuring everyone has the necessary reservations and documents needed to travel. You’ll also potentially save hours of getting your questions answered by far-away hotel staff, cruise sales agents, or theme park reservation centers. We also stay updated on the latest travel policies and procedures and can ensure you have everything you need to travel safely.
Life gets hectic sometimes, so it’s easy to miss travel deadlines like cruise payment installments. Travel agents monitor these deadlines as your trip approaches to ensure you’re on track to enjoy your vacation.
2. Destination Matchmaking
Travel agents are experts at matching you with incredible travel destinations. We get to know you, your family, and your desires for your vacation to help you pick a hotel, cruise line, or all-inclusive resort that fits your needs and will allow everyone to enjoy their trip. Our expert knowledge about the plethora of amazing travel locations and accommodations worldwide is one of the greatest reasons you should use a travel agent to book your trip. From intimate, romantic getaways to group adventures on a large cruise line, we can help plan it all. Once you’ve picked a destination, we’ll help you find the ideal accommodation within the resort to help you relax and unwind.
3. Concierge Service
Travel agents guide you into creating an unforgettable vacation without the stress and anxiety that comes with planning a trip on your own. We’re your one-stop point of contact for your entire trip—no need to gamble your vacation on whoever picks up the phone at a reservation center. We also provide support and assistance during your entire trip. If there is a travel hiccup or change in itinerary, we’re right there by your side to help develop an alternate plan and make arrangements as necessary. We have relationships with various travel providers to help you get answers efficiently and effectively wherever your travel plans take you.
An Authorized Disney Vacation Planner agency, like Just Add Magic Travel®, can also help you reserve dining reservations when planning a trip to Walt Disney World or Disneyland. If your desired dining location isn’t available when your booking window opens, we’ll keep checking back to see if more reservations become available or if there are any cancellations. This will save you tons of time searching through available reservations on My Disney Experience.
4. Insider Tips
Expertise is one of the best reasons why you should use a travel agent. We stay up to date with the latest and greatest offerings from travel brands around the world and travel to them frequently. We use this first-hand experience and insider knowledge to help you plan every detail of your trip, from the best way to get groceries delivered to your hotel room or how to rent a stroller. We also have extensive knowledge about upgrades and special experiences for your trip, such as booking dessert parties, VIP tours, or upgrading your hotel room to Club-Level.
5. Save Money
Travel agents are always on the hunt for travel deals that would be nearly impossible to find on your own. These deals often include complimentary extras such as free nights or upgraded amenities. We also monitor deals and discounts leading up to your vacation. If a new discount or offer becomes available after you’ve booked your trip, we can often apply the discount for more savings.
Should You Use a Travel Agent? YES! Let Just Add Magic Travel Help
I’m Aileen, the owner of Just Add Magic Travel. My agency specializes in Disney destinations and Caribbean vacations. In addition to planning Disney vacations, I’m a Sandals Certified Specialist and Authorized Universal Travel Professional. I will help make your trip an amazing, unforgettable experience for you and your family. I’d love to get to know you and see how I can help make your travel dreams come true. Get a free quote for your trip to get started. Have questions? Feel free to contact me!
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Beaches Resorts are synonymous with family fun in the Caribbean. One of the most recognized resorts for customer service, quality, and included amenities, Beaches provides families and groups the ultimate stress-free all-inclusive Caribbean vacation. The first Beaches resort opened in 1997 in Turks and Caicos, answering a long-term request from couples staying at Sandals Resorts for the company to provide a family-friendly option with the same luxury experiences. Since then, Beaches has become a world leader in all-inclusive vacations, having been voted the World’s Leading All-Inclusive Family Resort Brand by the World Travel Awards—24 years in a row. Beaches Resorts are also the Caribbean’s only certified Autism-friendly resorts. As a mom of three kids with Autism, I appreciate that the employees at these resorts are specially trained to deal with unique needs.
So, what is it like to stay at a Beaches resort, and what’s included? I break down everything you need to know below!
There are three Beaches Resorts, all located in the Caribbean: two in Jamaica and one in Turks and Caicos. Here’s an overview of each resort:
This is Beaches’ newest resort. As the smallest resort with 186 rooms, the resort offers an intimate and relaxed atmosphere. The resort is located on a pristine section of Jamaica’s famous Seven Mile Beach and includes two pools, a water park, and kid pools. Beaches Negril has nine restaurants and seven bars.
Beaches Ocho Rios
Located on 22 acres of tropical paradise with a private beach, Ocho Rios offers an excellent balance of adventure and relaxation. Its cove beach makes it easier to keep an eye on little ones. The resort provides easy access to one of the island’s premiere golf and country clubs. It includes seven restaurants and seven bars.
Beaches Turks & Caicos
Turks & Caicos is Beaches’ original resort and is also the largest. With 750 rooms and 43 room categories, accommodation options are endless! There are over 24 restaurants and 15 bars, along with ten pools, a water park, kid pools, and whirlpools. The resort is located in Grace Bay, a stretch of beach consistently voted as one of the best beaches in the world.
What’s Included in a Beaches Vacation?
The Sandals brand is known for having “Luxury Included®” vacations, with a wide range of amenities and activities as a part of your all-inclusive vacation package. Here’s what’s included with every Beaches Vacation stay:
Food & Drink
Beaches Resorts offer unlimited dining at up to every restaurant on property. This includes breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks. Every resort has at least seven eateries, combining a mix of buffets, sit-down restaurants, quick-service locations, and even food trucks! Unlimited alcohol, like premium liquors and Twin Oaks wine, is also included. From swim-up bars to beachside lounges, there’s truly something for everyone.
Gratuities & Taxes
No need to bring your wallet or carry cash around the resort: gratuities and taxes are included with your package for easy travel.
Beaches Resorts provide free shuttle transfers to and from the airport. In Jamacia, there is even an in-airport lounge exclusively for Beaches guests.
Whether you want to share photos on social media or check your work email, WiFi is available in your room and in many common areas around the resort.
Another great thing about Beaches Resorts is how many activities are included. All amenities listed below are included with your vacation unless otherwise noted.
Your toddlers and preschoolers will love getting up close with their favorite Sesame Street® characters. At Camp Sesame, preschoolers can participate in daily activities like story time, cookie making with Cookie Monster, puppet making with Bert & Ernie, and dancing with Zoe and Rosita. You can arrange a character breakfast or photoshoot for an additional upgrade. There is also a daycare center for infants and toddlers staffed by certified nannies.
There are plenty of places for teens to chill out at Beaches. The Xbox Play Lounge includes exclusive single and multiplayer games and cinematic screens to play them on. Tweens and tweens can play favorites like Minecraft, Forza Motorsports, and Dirt Rally in a friendly and safe environment.
Trench Town is a kid and teen-friendly game room and arcade with classic games like skeeball, pool, and air hockey.
A teen-only nightclub called Liquid (available at Negril and Turks & Caicos) is a fun place for young adults under 21 to get some time to themselves. After midnight, the lounge turns into a 21+ club.
There are so many activities everyone in the family can enjoy together. Here are a few highlights:
Pirates Island Waterpark
Pirates Island is a full-scale waterpark located right at your resort. Adventure is right around the corner with attractions like classic waterslides, water cannons, and a lazy river. There are even fun eateries and snack shops, like ice cream food trucks and a 50s-themed diner on-site.
Beaches’ scuba operation is one of the best in the world, at some of the best locations in the world. While many resorts require guests to pay additional fees for scuba excursions, all equipment, gear, and transportation are included with Beaches vacations.
Spend your days basking in the sun and crystal clear ocean water with snorkeling equipment, paddle boards, ocean kayaks, waterskiing, and glass bottom boats, all included with your stay.
For landlubbers, there are tennis courts, fitness centers, and walking trails to enjoy.
Nightly live entertainment like island beach parties and stage shows will keep the party going long after sunset. During the day and evening, enjoy Sesame Street character parades, stage shows, and family-friendly entertainment like talent shows. There are nightclubs featuring the latest dance music and piano bars with live musicians for adults.
Rooms & Amenities
There are a large variety of room categories and amenities available at Beaches Resorts. From standard suites to luxurious three-bedroom villas, there’s room for all to relax and recover from a full day of adventures around your resort. Every room at a Beaches Resort is grouped within a themed “village,” making you feel like you are traveling through an Italian seaside town or condo in Key West. Every room falls into the following categories:
This standard room size at Beaches accommodates up to five guests. Bed options include king or two double beds, along with spacious bathrooms. Some rooms have private balconies or patios with pool or ocean views.
Concierge-level rooms include everything in a Luxury level room, along with upgraded amenities like four-poster beds and expanded seating areas. The hallmark of this room category, though, is the exclusive lounge. This private club offers check-in service and a variety of amenities during your stay. The lounge provides a quiet place to unwind with board games, flat-screen TVs, coffee/tea bars, and a fridge stocked with soft drinks, sparkling wine, and alcohol. Snacks like fruit trays, desserts, and sandwiches are in the lounge throughout the day.
In addition, there is a concierge agent on hand to help with things like excursion and dinner reservations. There is also an exclusive weekly party for concierge-level guests.
Together Nest Suites
These suites offer the ultimate luxury at Beaches. Top-tier amenities, huge bedrooms, in-bedroom robes, lavish decor, and butler service are all included.
Butler-level rooms can be either Concierge or Together Nest-level rooms and offer butler service throughout your vacation. Your family butler, trained by the Guild of Professional English Butlers, will assist you throughout your stay, from bringing you a pool-side lunch to providing scented towels and welcome cocktails when you arrive.
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All-inclusive vacations can be more alluring than your typical beach vacation for many reasons. Paying one flat rate for a vacation package and knowing that most meals, drinks, and activities are included with your stay is a refreshing sigh of relief for many vacationers. All-inclusives are designed to provide everything you need, giving you little reason to leave the resort during your entire vacation. With a wide variety of resort options throughout the world, you'll want to keep these few things in mind as you plan your trip.
1. Know What's Included
Most all-inclusive vacations offer your room, most meals, drinks (including alcohol), resort amenities, and activities for one package price. However, "all-inclusive" doesn't always mean everything related to your vacation is included. Off-resort excursions, room service, spa treatments, WiFi, golf, and premium restaurants may require an additional fee. Some resorts include standard meals and soft drinks in their pricing but upcharge for high-end liquors and entrees like lobster or steak. Before you book your all-inclusive resort, you'll want to be completely aware of what's included to avoid a surprise bill at the end of your stay.
You'll also want to understand tips at all-inclusive resorts. Some resorts have a strict no-tipping policy, while others include gratuities in their resort fees but allow guests to tip staff for exceptional service.
2. Pick the Right Resort
With over 250 all-inclusive resorts in the Caribbean alone, picking the right vacation destination may feel overwhelming. All-inclusive resorts range in theme from romantic getaways to family-friendly fun. When deciding which resort to stay at, understand what you'd like to accomplish during your trip. Do you want to relax by the beach with your significant other all day? Are you interested in watersports and other excursions where you can explore the local area? Will you be looking to bond with your young children?
You'll also want to consider the atmosphere. Would you prefer a small resort with a secluded feel or a larger resort's bustling activity and nightlife? You should also keep in mind family-friendliness if traveling with children. Some resorts require guests to be over 21 or only allow families to book rooms in specific areas of the resort.
Not sure where to start? Just Add Magic Travel® can help you find the perfect all-inclusive vacation destination for you and your family. Get a quote today!
3. Know Your Dining Options
Although meals may be included and unlimited, there are a few things you'll want to remember to ensure you take advantage of every dining option available. First, most all-inclusive resorts offer a range of bars, buffets, and table-service restaurants. While you can walk in and dine at most buffets and bars, some of the resort's fanciest restaurants may require an advanced reservation or an additional fee. Before you arrive, research the various dining options available and get an idea of places you'll want to try. If reservations are necessary, you should make them on the first day of your trip.
Some upscale restaurants require a dress code as well. Often, this means no swim attire, flip-flops, or cut-off shorts in the dining room.
4. Take Advantage of Amenities
One of the best things about staying at an all-inclusive resort is that there is so much to do! From tennis lessons to salsa classes, all-inclusives provide a wide range of activities to keep you entertained day and night. You may even learn a new skill in the process! Make sure you take advantage of complimentary watersport rentals, activities, classes, and live entertainment. For more fun, book an off-resort excursion to explore the local area. At night, listen to bands, jazz musicians, and DJs at the resorts' lounges, or take in a theatrical show or movie. Most resorts will provide a schedule of activities for your stay upon arrival. Keep it on hand to ensure you don't miss out on everything the resort offers!
5. You Get What You Pay For
My biggest tip for all-inclusive resort vacation planning is to understand that you get what you pay for. Some all-inclusive brands are intrinsically more expensive than others but won't nickel and dime. Other brands are budget-friendly but may hit you with upcharges and fees upon arrival. Understand that resorts that appear to be cheaper may end up costing you more in the end.
There are also many ways to add luxurious experiences to your all-inclusive vacation. Budgeting for a few extras will enhance your trip and make it a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Here are my favorite ways to indulge:
Expert Tips for All-Inclusive Resort Vacation Planning
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Fireworks are the way to end your Disney day. No one does fireworks quite like Disney, which makes them can't-miss experiences during your trip. The two largest firework displays at Walt Disney World are Disney Enchantment at Magic Kingdom and Harmonious at EPCOT. Both shows premiered last October in honor of the resort's 50th-anniversary celebration. In addition, Disney puts on special firework displays on holidays like the 4th of July and New Year's Eve. Make sure you get a great spot for fireworks with my list of the best places to watch fireworks inside and outside the parks!
Disney Enchantment is the first nighttime spectacular to feature effects down Main Street, U.S.A., giving guests more opportunities for excellent firework viewing spots. Here are some of my favorite places:
Cinderella Castle Hub
The central hub immediately in front of the castle is one of the most popular places to watch the fireworks—and for a good reason. The area offers largely unobstructed views of the castle so that you can see the projections in more detail than anywhere else in the park. This area tends to get crowded quickly, so it's best to find a spot at least one hour before the show starts.
Main Street, U.S.A. - Train Station
If you'd rather not wait an hour before the fireworks to find a spot, you may be able to find a place toward the base of Main Street, U.S.A., about 20-30 minutes before showtime. I recommend watching the show from the flagpole area or the train station platform above the park entrance (if it's not roped off). This area provides panoramic views of the castle fireworks and the Main Street projections. If you plan to visit Magic Kingdom for more than one evening, I recommend viewing the fireworks from both vantage points. You get a completely different experience each time!
Another advantage of viewing fireworks from this area is that you can exit the park quickly after the show ends, beating the crowds to get in line for the resort buses, monorails, or ferryboats.
This firework location is off the beaten path and is not nearly as crowded as Main Street or the castle hub. It's a great place to watch if you've already viewed the show from a more "traditional" location. Plus, you'll get to take advantage of short wait times for rides like Splash Mountain and Big Thunder Mountain before and after the show.
Located on the top level of Disney's Contemporary Resort, this restaurant is one of the best places to view Magic Kingdom fireworks outside the park. The lights dim and the music plays throughout the restaurant during the fireworks for an immersive experience. You can also view them from the patio outside the restaurant. Snag a reservation for dinner about an hour and a half before the fireworks start for your best shot of being inside the restaurant during showtime. This location gives you a bird's eye view and lets you in on some Disney magic, as you can see where the fireworks are set off from behind the park.
Beach at Disney's Polynesian Resort
Is there anything more relaxing than watching Disney fireworks from a lounge chair? If you're staying at Disney's Polynesian Resort or have a dining reservation, head down to the beach area about 20 minutes before showtime for the most laid-back firework viewing on property. The Polynesian's over-the-water bungalows are the ideal location to watch the fireworks from the comfort of your room!
Harmonious is one of Disney's largest firework shows to date. The display can be viewed anywhere around the World Showcase Lagoon at EPCOT, making it feel less crowded than the Magic Kingdom. Here are my top picks:
World Showcase - Entrance
The entrance of the World Showcase (between the Mexico and Canada pavilions) is one of the best places to view Harmonious. I recommend finding a spot near the Disney Traders gift shop (directly after crossing the bridge from World Celebration) and the boat dock. Bonus: there is a Starbucks nearby if you need a quick pick-me-up. I recommend securing your spot about 30 minutes before showtime.
World Showcase - Italy
If you don't mind taking a stroll around the World Showcase after the show, viewing the fireworks from the Italy pavilion offers great views and a romantic ambiance before the show begins.
The walking path and wooden boardwalk around Disney's BoardWalk Resort and Yacht & Beach Club is the best place to watch Harmonious outside EPCOT. Head to the bridge towards EPCOT's International Gateway entrance for the best and closest views. Although you won't be able to hear the music, your proximity to Epcot makes this a great place for firework viewing.
Dessert Parties and Dining Packages
If you'd like a more private, less-crowded firework viewing experience, consider booking a reservation for a Disney Enchantment Dessert Party or a Harmonious Dining Package. These experiences give you reserved firework viewing while enjoying dinner, dessert, and drinks. Here are the firework dining package options that are currently available:
Disney Enchantment Dessert Parties
There are three dessert party experiences at the Tomorrowland Terrace. Every experience includes buffet dining with a selection of desserts, fruits, cheeses, beer, wine, and non-alcoholic drinks. The "pre" and "post" Enchantment dessert parties allow you to view the fireworks from a reserved viewing area near the Plaza Garden while enjoying desserts and drinks an hour before or an hour after the nighttime spectacular. When you book a "Treats and Seats" experience, you'll get a reserved table at the Tomorrowland Terrace to watch the fireworks while enjoying food and drinks all the same place.
Ferrytale Fireworks Cruise
This unique experience allows you to hop aboard one of the Magic Kingdom's iconic ferryboats and view the fireworks from the middle of the Seven Seas Lagoon. You'll also enjoy desserts, drinks, beer, and wine selections.
Harmonious Dining Package
These dining packages include a prix fixe menu at Rose & Crown in the U.K. pavilion or Spice Road Table in Morocco. Once you've finished your meal, you can watch Harmonious from a reserved viewing area at the two restaurants' outdoor patios.
Dessert parties and dining packages are an additional fee, and reservations are highly recommended. They also require valid theme park admission and a park reservation. Just Add Magic Travel® can handle these reservations for you!
Contact me at email@example.com to add this experience to your next trip to Walt Disney World! Haven't booked your vacation yet? Get a free quote for your trip!
Where are your favorite places to view fireworks? Let me know in the comments!
Summer and Disney World go hand in hand. With kids out of school and relaxed schedules, summer is a popular time for families to visit Disney, Universal, and other Orlando theme parks. However, Florida in the summertime also means heat, humidity, and daily thunderstorms. Here are the best ways to beat the heat and ensure everyone in your group has a cool vacation when visiting Disney in the summer.
1. Experience Indoor Attractions During the Hottest Part of the Day
A typical Florida summer day includes highs in the low to mid-90s with a 40-50% chance of rain in the afternoon. The heat is most intense between 11 am and 4 pm, so you’ll want to spend as much time as possible inside during these times.
Whether you choose a standby queue, schedule a Genie+ return time, or secure a Lightning Lane pass, choosing an air-conditioned attraction will be a welcome relief from the heat. Here are a few of my favorite indoor attractions & shows with mostly indoor queue lines:
2. Visit Characters
Meeting characters is a great way to beat the heat when visiting during the summer at Disney World. Many of the best meet and greet locations are located at indoor facilities throughout the parks. Meeting Mickey at the Town Square Theater or getting a hug from Elsa and Anna will help you relax and cool down!
3. Make a Lunch Reservation
Opting for a sit-down meal in the middle of the day may be a welcome break from the hustle and bustle of the parks. Plus, securing a dining reservation for lunch will free up time in the early morning and late afternoon to enjoy outdoor attractions when temperatures are slightly cooler.
Need help securing your dining reservation? Just Add Magic Travel® can help! Get a quote to get started.
4. Spend Time in Indoor Play Areas
There are many indoor play areas that allow your family to explore the wonders of the imagination, explore the future, blast into space, or discover the oceans. These include the interactive game areas after Spaceship Earth and Journey into Imagination with Figment at EPCOT. I also recommend checking out the aquarium at the end of the Seas with Nemo and Friends attraction. You can easily spend a few hours exploring these areas!
5. Take a Midday Break
Planning to take midday breaks is one of the best tips for successful theme park vacations, especially when traveling with small children or elderly family members. Staying at a Disney Resort makes this even easier, as you can take free Disney transportation to and from your hotel. After recharging for two or three hours, return to the parks in the afternoon and enjoy the cooler temperatures in the evening.
6. Stay Hydrated
You may not realize it, but you could walk nearly ten miles every day you visit Disney World. Pair that with 95+ degree heat and the blazing Florida sun, and it won’t take long for symptoms of dehydration to kick in. Churros and Premium Mickey Ice Cream bars won’t sustain you for very long, so be sure to drink enough water, apply sunscreen, and find shade whenever possible. I recommend getting cases of water delivered to your resort to bring into the parks. The water in Florida can have a strong sulfuric taste that can be off-putting to some. Also, order free cups of tap water from quick-service dining locations (as long as they have a fountain drink dispenser).
If you or someone in your party doesn’t feel well, head to the First Aid center. Every Disney theme park has nurses on hand during normal park operating hours to help with minor medical issues.
7. Cool Down with Water Rides & Attractions
The ultimate tip for beating the heat when vacationing during the summer at Disney World? Cool down with water rides, pools, and other water activities. Every Disney Resort has at least one pool, so cooling down for a few minutes or a few hours is easy. There are also two water parks, so you can spend an entire day slipping and sliding down various waterslides or taking a dip in the wave pool.
Take advantage of the water rides like Splash Mountain at Magic Kingdom or Kali River Rapids at Animal Kingdom, as well. There are also a few water play areas throughout the parks, like the Casey Jr. Soak-n-Splash Station at Storybook Circus in Fantasyland.
Another crowd favorite way to cool down is at Club Cool at EPCOT. This Coke-themed store features free samples of Coke flavors from around the world.
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What are your favorite ways to beat the heat when vacationing at Disney? Let me know in the comments below!
Is your teenager less than thrilled with the prospect of spending a day at the Magic Kingdom during your Disney vacation? Sure, teens may jump at the chance to visit Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge at Hollywood Studios or climb Mount Everest at Animal Kingdom, but a day at Magic Kingdom may be met with some eye rolls. Although Magic Kingdom is typically labeled as “a park for little kids” by tweens and teens, there are many things for teenagers to do. Here are my top picks for teens at Magic Kingdom!
Conquer The “Mountain Range”
While Magic Kingdom isn’t known for its thrill rides, that is quickly changing with the addition of the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train and the construction of the TRON roller coaster in Tomorrowland. If you’re visiting in the next year or so, the ultimate ride challenge is riding all three “mountain” rides on the same day: Space Mountain, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, and Splash Mountain. With its retro outer-space feel and dark track, Space Mountain is a fun ride for all. Splash Mountain is the only full-water ride at Magic Kingdom, so it’s a perfect place to cool off on a hot Florida afternoon. As the wildest ride in the wilderness, Thunder Mountain is a Magic Kingdom classic and a must-do attraction.
Teen Approved Attractions
In addition to the “mountain range,” here are a few other attractions teens won’t want to miss at Magic Kingdom:
Sure the jokes are a bit cheesy, but this fun and playful attraction will have your teens cracking a smile.
This ride maybe a little scary for young children, but it’s perfect for teens. Although it’s more kooky than spooky, teens will get a kick out of the “less than magical” Cast Members who take their roles as butlers in a haunted house “deadly” serious.
Pirates of the Caribbean
The film franchise featuring Johnny Depp has put this attraction back on the treasure map. See the ride that inspired the films, complete with appearances by Captain Jack Sparrow himself.
Tom Sawyer Island & Swiss Family Treehouse
It’s possible you visited Magic Kingdom and walked right by these places without noticing them. However, these secluded attractions offer teens a place to get some time to themselves (with some boundaries). It’s controlled independence— isn’t that any parent’s dream?
Tom Sawyer Island is filled with walking trails, caves, hills, and rope bridges inspired by the literary classic, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. You take a short raft ride from a dock located across from the Country Bear Jamboree in Frontierland to get there. There are plenty of places for teens to relax without being too far away from the rest of the family.
Similarly, the Swiss Family Treehouse is another outdoor walking area between the Jungle Cruise and Sunshine Tree Terrace in Adventureland. It’s themed after another literary classic and Disney film, Swiss Family Robinson. Cross the wood-planked and roped bridges to the trunk of a gigantic tree. For an added challenge, teens can make their way up the 116 stairs to the top of the treehouse. It offers rare views of the Magic Kingdom and The Jungle Cruise river at six stories high.
Give your teens dedicated time to fill up their Instagram and TikTok feeds around the park. Here are a few of my favorite places for a Magic Kingdom photoshoot:
This photo location at Magic Kingdom is so popular it has its own Instagram. The wall is located to the right before entering Tomorrowland, directly under the People Mover and on the side of the Monsters Inc, Laugh Floor building.
Probably one of the most well-decorated bathrooms at a theme park, the Rapunzel-themed bathroom area offers the perfect location for a fairytale photoshoot. Follow Rapunzel’s tower before leaving Fantasyland on your way to Liberty Square. The area features hanging lanterns that come to life at night. However, one of the most popular photo locations is inside the entrance to the women’s bathroom, where you’ll find a mural of swirling flowers, vines, and suns, just like the paintings Rapunzel decorated her tower with.
Of course, no trip to Magic Kingdom is complete without a picture in front of the castle. However, if you’re looking to beat the crowds stopped on Main Street, opt for some alternative photo locations of the castle, like from Cinderella’s Wishing Well or on the bridge between the castle hub and Liberty Square.
Tour of Snacks
Grab your teen an “I’m here for the Snacks” shirt and let them sample all the delicious treats the Magic Kingdom is known for, like Dole Whip, Turkey Legs, Mickey Premium Ice Cream Bars, Mickey-shaped Pretzels, and even Starbucks. These snacks are located throughout the park, which will give them lots of time to explore.
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Did you jump for joy when Disney announced last month that traditional Disney character meet and greets were returning to the parks? I know so many of you are excited to finally give your favorite characters big hugs and share the joy of seeing them in real life with your children and family members. In honor of these character interactions returning, here are the best locations to meet characters in 2022!
Princess Fairytale Hall
Located in Fantasyland, Princess Fairytale Hall is the place to spot princesses at the Magic Kingdom. This indoor, air-conditioned hall is also a nice break from the midday Florida heat! The princesses appearing in the hall may vary from day to day (princesses are notoriously busy), but you could spot Cinderella, Tiana, Rapunzel, and Elena of Avalor there. Check the My Disney Experience app for an up-to-date list of who you may see.
Town Square Theater
What’s a trip to Walt Disney World without meeting Mickey Mouse? Town Square Theater, located on Main Street, U.S.A., just to the right of the Magic Kingdom Train Station entrance, is one of the best places to meet Mickey at Walt Disney World. Currently, Mickey’s sporting his 50th Anniversary EARidescent attire. Another bonus: this meet and greet location is a part of Genie+.
Anastasia & Drizella
Cinderella’s stepsisters know how to make an entrance! Meeting them is always filled with lots of laughs, a little jealousy, and (unfortunately) a bit of singing. You may see them walking around Fantasyland or greeting guests near Cinderella’s Fountain in Fantasyland.
Captain Jack Sparrow
You may remember it as the day you *almost* caught Captain Jack Sparrow, but if you’re lucky, you may grab a selfie with the best (or worst) pirate you’ve ever seen. You can find him at the Adventureland Stage near the Pirates of the Caribbean ride entrance.
Although character cavalcades aren’t traditional meet and greet locations, they’re worth mentioning! Since the parks reopened in 2020, these mini-parades have been a great way to see many characters at once. Several themed cavalcades run along Main Street, U.S.A., throughout the day. Check out Mickey’s Celebration Cavalcade which features the “EARidescent Eight” (Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Goofy, Pluto, Chip, Dale, and Daisy) all decked out in W.D.W. 50th Anniversary outfits. Another fun cavalcade is the Adventure Friends Cavalcade, which premiered earlier this year. It features characters like Nick and Judy from Zootopia, Moana, The Incredibles, and Miguel from Coco. See the Magic Kingdom Times Guide for a current list of cavalcade showtimes.
EPCOT currently has the most locations for Disney character meet and greets. Meeting characters is one of the best things to do with young children at EPCOT! Here are my top picks:
Elsa & Anna
The Royal Sommerhus in Norway is the only place to meet the Frozen sisters at Walt Disney World. It’s one of the most popular character meet and greet locations on property, so plan to get there early to avoid long lines.
Inside the Imagination Pavilion (where Journey Into Imagination with Figment is located), you can meet Joy from Inside Out and Vanellope Von Schweetz from Wreck-It Ralph.
World Showcase Princesses & Characters
You’ll see many characters while strolling around the World Showcase pavilions. Be on the lookout for Belle and Princess Aurora in France, Snow White in Germany, Jasmine in Morocco, and Mulan in China. You can also spot Mary Poppins and Alice in Wonderland at the U.K. Pavilion.
Disney’s Hollywood Studios
Disney Junior Characters
Preschoolers will enjoy meeting their favorite Disney Junior characters like Vamprinia, Fancy Nancy, and Doc McStuffins in the Animation Courtyard (before the Disney Junior-Play and Dance theater entrance).
We all know Olaf likes warm hugs, so give him one at Celebrity Spotlight, located near the A.B.C. Commissary.
Star Wars - Galaxy Edge
Encounter several characters from the Star Wars universe at Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, like Rey, Chewbacca, Kylo Ren, and Stormtroopers. For the time being, you can’t take individual pictures with them, but they’re a must-see for any Star Wars fan!
Disney’s Animal Kingdom
If you look closely, you may spot a Snipe for yourself! Kevin from UP! can be seen searching for chocolate around Discovery Island near the Tree of Life.
Best Disney Character Meet And Greet Recommendations
These are just some of the Disney character meet and greets available at the parks right now! Other characters may pop up occasionally, so it’s best to have your autograph book handy! When you’re ready to plan your trip to The Most Magical Place on Earth, Just Add Magic Travel® can help! Get a free quote for your trip today!
One question I see parents of preschoolers ask regularly is what attractions their children will be able to enjoy at each theme park. When Disney vacation planning, it’s natural to want to spend more time at the parks they’ll enjoy the most—and skip those they won’t. Since EPCOT is mainly known for its annual festivals, the World Showcase, and thrill rides like Test Track, most people think of EPCOT as a place for teens and adults. Just add Magic Travel® is here to dispel these rumors with our top attractions for young children to do at EPCOT.
Frozen Ever After
EPCOT is the place for Frozen fans in your family, not just your little ones! Located at the Norway pavilion, Frozen Ever After brings guests on a slow boat ride through the icy waters of Arendelle as you journey to Elsa’s ice palace. Enjoy a musical tour through the world of Frozen on this one-of-a-kind adventure showcasing innovative technology to bring Elsa, Anna, and other Frozen friends to life. This attraction is one of the most popular rides at EPCOT, so you’ll want to have a plan in place so you can experience this attraction. Contact me to discuss the best options to have your family enjoy this ride.
The Seas with Nemo and Friends
Hop aboard a “clamobile” as you explore the underwater world from Finding Nemo. Accompany Nemo, Marlin, and Dory on their journey across the ocean and even catch a ride on the EAC. The ride incorporates 2D animation with 3D projections giving you a unique perspective of EPCOT’s 5.7-million-gallon saltwater aquarium. The real fun for littles, though, is after the ride. Kids could spend hours exploring the two-story aquarium building that encompasses the attraction. It’s one of EPCOT’s hidden gems! Learn about caring for manatees, get up close and personal with a dolphin, or watch a sea turtle swim above your head. The aquarium features floor-to-ceiling windows and lots of places to view sea life. There are also self-guided educational tours and a complimentary scavenger hunt. Don’t forget to say hi to Crush and ask him anything about sea turtle life during Turtle Talk with Crush. The aquarium is an excellent place for a midday break from the heat or to take cover during an afternoon thunderstorm.
Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure
EPCOT’s newest attraction, located in the France pavilion, is a family-friendly, 4D experience that has you explore Famous Gusteau’s Restaurant from Chef Remy’s point of view. The attraction is open to any height range, making it great for little kids and adults alike.
Beauty and the Beast Sing-Along
Also located in France, this 15-minute film is hosted by Mrs. Potts as she retells the tale as old as time—and you get to be a part of it. Parents will want to check out the six display galleries before the film, featuring movie props, costumes, and artifacts celebrating French culture on stage and screen.
Journey Into Imagination with Figment
The Journey Into Imagination ride has seen several updates throughout the years, but it is still considered one of EPCOT’s original attractions. Figment, a purple dragon that embodies a “figment of imagination,” has become one of EPCOT’s most beloved mascots since the attraction first opened in 1983. The ride is a slow, guided tour through the Imagination Institute, where Dr. Nigel Channing and Figment take guests on an expedition to explore the five senses. However, things aren’t always as they appear, especially when Figment is involved! After the ride, stop by the Image Works-“What If” Labs, where your little ones can explore music, color, and sound with interactive games and exhibits. Create a symphony using body movements, or design your own Figment and email it home.
We are so excited that traditional character meet and greets have finally returned to Disney Parks! Now’s the chance to hug your favorite Disney characters and collect their autographs (an excellent souvenir for little ones to bring home).
Here are some of the Disney Characters you can meet in the World Showcase:
EPCOT is the only place that offers a character encounter with Elsa and Anna at the Norway pavilion. You can greet them in their Royal Sommerhus just outside the Frozen Ever After ride.
In addition, you can see your favorite pals like Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Pluto, and Goofy near the park’s front entrance. You can also meet characters like Joy from Inside Out and Vanellope from Wreck-It Ralph at Image Works inside the Imagination pavilion.
Disney Vacation Planning with Just Add Magic Travel
Just Add Magic Travel provides concierge-level Disney vacation planning services and will help you enjoy the perfect Disney vacation of your family’s dreams—without the stress. By getting to know you and your family, I will help you plan the ideal itinerary so your preschoolers will have as much fun as the big kids. Get a free quote for your trip today!
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With so much to do at the Disney Parks, you'll want to make sure you take advantage of everything the parks offer! What are the best ways to get the most out of your time at the parks? I share my best time-saving hacks below!
ordering has become even more prevalent since the pandemic, with many quick-service locations requiring guests to place mobile orders before entering a restaurant. Mobile ordering is available at 20 locations across Walt Disney World and Disney Springs. You can mobile order anything from burgers and fries to snacks like Dole® Whip and coffee. Place a mobile order by tapping the "order food" button in the My Disney Experience app. Next, pick a location, select an arrival window, and prepay for your order. Head to the restaurant during the arrival window, and tap "prepare my order." You'll get a notification once the order is ready and pick it up at the "mobile order pickup" line.
The great thing about mobile ordering is that you don't need to wait in a long line to order food, which is beneficial if you dine during peak lunch or dinner times. Your arrival window allows you to order food while waiting in line for a ride, on Disney transportation, or sitting somewhere outside the restaurant. You decide!
Tip: You cannot place a mobile order when paying with cash. Save your credit card information in the My Disney Experience app before your trip to utilize mobile ordering.
Genie+ Time Savers
The best way to save time waiting in line for attractions is by purchasing Genie+ or Individual Lightning Lane passes. These services allow you to skip the standby line at over 40 Walt Disney World attractions. While these services are time savers in themselves, you can save even more time with the Genie+ grace period, which adds on an automatic 20-minute buffer for your Genie+ return window. The grace period starts five minutes before your return window begins and ends 15 minutes after the return window closes. You can enter the Lightning Lane during these times even though you're technically outside your one-hour return window. This is great if you find yourself at the other end of the park towards the end of your return time. There is no need to run through the park Home Alone style to make it on time!
Another time-saving hack is to take advantage of the "120-minute rule," which allows you to select an additional Genie+ attraction two hours after your previous selection (as long as the park is open), even if you haven't returned to the first attraction yet.
MagicMobile is a great way to save time while entering a park, using Genie+, or unlocking your Disney Resort room. MagicMobile essentially turns your smartphone or smartwatch into a MagicBand. Both passes have many of the same features and functionalities, including linking park tickets and charging purchases to your Disney Resort room. The best part? MagicMobile is a FREE feature inside My Disney Experience!
Standby Line Hacks
Genie+ is the best way to save time waiting in line. However, if you choose not to use Genie+, there are a few ways to cut down how long you wait in the standby queue. First, try to visit popular attractions during off-peak times, like when the park first opens or during fireworks and parades. Another hack if you're staying at a Disney Resort is to take advantage of early entry and get to the parks 30 minutes earlier than other guests.
Another way to cut down on standby wait time is to use the Single Rider line. It's usually much shorter than the regular standby line. Although it means you may not get to ride the attraction at the same time as the other members of your group, the time you'll save may be well worth it!
Shop at Night
Don't waste time shopping for souvenirs you'll have to carry around with you in the middle of the day (unless you're dodging a summer thunderstorm!). Some stores, like the Emporium at Magic Kingdom, stay open for an hour or two after the park officially closes. If your family can handle a little extra time at the parks at the end of the night, do your shopping then!
Disney Vacation Planning with Just Add Magic Travel®
The ultimate time-saver is to work with a knowledgeable travel agent who specializes in Disney Destinations. When you work with Just Add Magic Travel, an Authorized Disney Vacation Planner, we cut down on the noise, filter out the rumors, and take care of the little details for you. Get a complimentary quote here. For more planning tips for Disney and Universal vacations, view our blog. Sign up for our mailing list for theme park news and planning tips delivered to your inbox.