Mousekeeping Envelopes: Waste of Time or Your New Favorite Craft Project?

First, let me address the Dumbo in the middle of the blog…..  I hardly ever see a more controversial topic on Disney chat boards.  For whatever reason, whether or not to tip a housekeeper seems to get folks handily riled.  Personally, I’m almost always going down on the side of pro.  Housekeeping is a hard job and some of these men and women go above and beyond to make a vacation special all the while doing a job that I shan’t be bothered to do while I’m on vacation.

At Disney World, these folks are affectionately referred to as Mousekeepers.  Most of the time, they get the job done and often with a little Disney flair (towel animal, anyone?).  Are there poison apples in the bunch?  Of course there are.  But, I want to devote this post to the ones we love and a fun craft to work on prior to your trip with which to reward them.

A few notes on tipping:  My personal philosophy and what I recommend to my clients is to tip $1 per person for each night of your stay and maybe a few dollars above that on the day you check out.  So, my little family of 3 tips $3 per night and usually $5 on check out day for the more extensive overhaul they’ll be doing to prepare the room for the next guest.  It’s important to leave a tip each morning before you leave as your Mousekeeping staff may fluctuate so you don’t want to miss someone by leaving one big tip at the end of your trip.  If you forgo the envelope, leave the money in a prominent place (like by the Mousekeepers little calling card) as they will not take money that is not clearly intended for them (yes, I know poison apples will take it, but again, we’re not talking about them today, ok?).

Typically in the month before we leave, I start planning my Mousekeeping Envelopes.  There are many ways to do this; here are two of the easiest:

  1. Buy some envelopes, and amass your stash of stickers, glitter, markers, glue, etc. and sic your kids on those babies while you sit back and watch the next episode of The Voice.  It’s a fun craft for the kiddos and a great trip countdown activity.
  2. Print them from a template and assemble them.  The only supplies required are a color printer, paper (I prefer card stock to give it more of a heft), scissors, and glue or tape.

There are some super cute Disney themed templates available online.  Here are a few links to some great Disney blogs with available templates:

WDW Prep School Mousekeeping Envelopes

The Main Street Mouse Mousekeeping Envelopes

The Mouse for Less Mousekeeping Envelopes

If you don’t have a good color printer, you can also download the templates to a thumb drive and have them printed at an office supply store.  Most of the templates include the assembly instructions (basically fold here, glue here) so this really doesn’t take that long to do.  Once assembled, I pre-load them with cash and pack them in my purse so they are ready to go once we’ve arrived.  There was at least one trip in which I came home with a few unused envelopes because we chose the “Do Not Disturb” option for a few days.  It’s nice to have one less thing to worry about once we’re there and I’m less likely to forget to do it because it’s already done and ready to go each morning.

IMG_1346 IMG_1347

Making Mousekeeping envelopes is one of my favorite pre-trip rituals.  It’s my way to share a little magic with a cast member at a place where I’ve been shown so much magic over the years.  It’s a small gesture, but aren’t those the ones we need day-to-day?


Feel free to contact me at any time for more information or to assist you in booking your next vacation!  You can find me on Facebook at Magical Vacations by Tracy or email at tracy@magicalvacationsbyme.com.  You can also follow me on Instagram HERE.  See you soon!

Tracy PhotoTracy Hurdle is a work-at-home mother of one and a former social worker turned travel agent.  She’s always had a love of travel planning and couldn’t be happier at being given the opportunity to do so on a broader scale with families just like yours.

Shop Disney Parks App-Most Dangerous App Ever?

If you have an affinity for Disney merchandise and a smart phone, then the answer is “yes, it just might be”, at least in terms of your wallet.  Disney released the Shop Disney Parks app in mid-August for use on Android and Apple smart phones.  This free app is available in your device’s app store; I initially had a little difficulty downloading the app (an error message about the script) but was successful on the second try.  I thought I would run you through the basics and give you my opinion of its performance.

As the title of the app implies, this little online store gives you access to Disney Parks merchandise.  What I love about this app already is that it features products that I have not been able to find on the regular Disney Store website.  I’ve been working on my family’s costumes for this year’s Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party.  We love the Haunted Mansion attraction and decided to dress in that theme for the party this year.  I was interested in purchasing the Ghost Host tees for my husband and I and was able to easily find the male version of that shirt on the Disney Store online.  However, the female Ghost Host shirt was missing from the site.  A quick Google search revealed the female shirt available for purchase on Amazon if you are a) a size Medium, and b) willing to shell out $65, of which I am neither.  Ebay didn’t fare much better so I was resigned to do without.  Much to my extreme delight, I immediately found the shirt I wanted on the Shop Disney Parks app in both the size I needed and at a much more reasonable price (by Disney merchandise standards, anyway).

When you open the app, you will see this screen:

Opening app screen

Opening app screen

It allows you to scroll down to see 4-5 featured items.  On the top left, you see the little magnifying glass search icon that allows you to enter your search terms.

Search screen

Search screen

For my purchase, I searched for “haunted mansion” items and received 141 options.  You can use the filter key to the top right if you’d like to narrow down your search but I actually scrolled through to check them all out.  When you select a clothing item, you can scroll down to select from the available colors and sizes.

Screenshot_2015-08-25-09-12-55

This is where it gets cool.  The three blue buttons below the item allow for you to “Add to bag” which you will do if you have more shopping to do, “Order Now” if this is the only product you need, or “Find on Map.”  This is a really neat feature that I can’t wait to try when I’m at Disney World in October.  When you are in a Walt Disney World park, you may search for your item and then select “Find on Map” to see from which store this item can be purchased.  I’ve seen several posts about guests being so disappointed because they never found such and such after searching all of the stores on their visit.  This app should eliminate those issues.  Your kiddo suddenly has to have that Stitch plush?  Boom, find it on the app, and then use the map to track it down.  Screenshot_2015-08-25-12-31-09

Now, let’s get back to my experience using the app.  I selected my shirt and went to my shopping bag.  I was given the option to “review and purchase.”  At that point, I was instructed to sign in using my ‘My Disney Experience” account information.  You are given the opportunity to create an account if you don’t already have one.  Once you sign in, you can enter your shipping and payment information (or it will automatically enter for you if you have this info saved to your MDE account; you will be asked for your saved credit card’s security code).  The one bummer about this is the shipping.  There are no options to change shipping type (for expedited service, for instance) and there is no discount for purchasing a certain amount of product (like on the Disney Store online, in which you can often receive free shipping if you purchase at least $75 worth of merchandise).  Once you agree to the Merchandise Return Policy, you click the green “Purchase” button and you’re done!

Almost immediately after my purchase, I received my confirmation email.  Three days later, I received an email indicating my shirt had shipped and the tracking link so I could obsess about my package.  Five days after that, I had my shirt in my hands!  Not a bad turn around time if you ask me.  My package arrived in the typical brown, nondescript box.  The shirt itself was wrapped in cutie-patootie Disney tissue paper.  The box also contained a note thanking me for the purchase and the larger merchandise return form.  A separate shipping receipt was also included.  Overall, this was a super easy process and I was beyond excited to receive my shirt after previously thinking I would be missing out.

My cute little package all wrapped up in Disney tissue.

My cute little package all wrapped up in Disney tissue.

Thank you note

Thank you note

Return form

Return form

My shirt, My shirt!

My shirt, My shirt!

One last thing:  The other super cool feature that I can’t wait to try out is the barcode scanner.  On the home page of the app, you’ll notice at the top a small barcode. Screenshot_2015-08-25-09-09-54Once opened, this will allow you to scan an item you find in the park and purchase the item in the app.  Why is this useful? Have you ever been inside a park store and saw THE souvenir, but it was fragile, huge, or otherwise inappropriate for air travel?  This feature on the app will allow you to purchase THE souvenir and have it shipped directly to your home.  Bypass the awkward packing dilemma and get that baby on its way to you before you even leave Orlando.  Eureka!

My plan is to do a follow up to this article after my visit in October so that I can update you on both the “Find on Map” feature and the barcode scanner.  In the meantime, feel free to contact me at any time for more information or to assist you in booking your next vacation!  You can find me on Facebook at Magical Vacations by Tracy or email at tracy@magicalvacationsbyme.com.  You can also follow me on Instagram HERE.  See you soon!

Tracy PhotoTracy Hurdle is a work-at-home mother of one and a former social worker turned travel agent.  She’s always had a love of travel planning and couldn’t be happier at being given the opportunity to do so on a broader scale with families just like yours.

10 Things Outside The Parks My Kids Always Want To Do.

My kids told me on our last trip down to Disney that they were done with the Parks.  I was shocked to say the least!!  I mean, how can you not go to the parks?!  They told me that they want to go to the Parks and hit their favorites and then go and then do some things outside the Park.

AOA

Here was their list:

1. Ride the monorail

2. Walk around at Art of Animation Resort

3. Head to Downtown Disney

4. Go to Goofy’s Candy Company and get some candy…duh! 🙂

5. Lego Store is always a must for both my kids

6. Eat at Cook’s of Dublin

7. Build a Mr. Potato Head at Once Upon A Toy

8. See what kind of entertainment is at Downtown Disney and sit and watch

9. Watch fireworks from the Beach at Polynesian Resort

10. Go to BoardWalk Resort and walk around

10 things to do at disney

Disney is our happy place as I am sure, it is for some of you.  So we try and make everyone happy by doing what ever we all want to do while we are down there.  The rules are simple, if  it is something we can all do as a family and everybody is good with it we do it!

 

What is on your list of things to do at Disney that is not in the Parks?  Do you change up the list every time you go?  Or is it pretty much the same every trip?

 

~Kim

If you are looking to book a magical vacation, please contact me at 678-449-6680 or kim@magicalvacationsbyme.com

Things said to a Travel Agent #2

Magic kingdom Castle

By Frances

By popular demand, here is a second installment of Things Said to a Travel Agent. As a travel professional, I pride myself on knowing details about a destination and lot of ins & out. These are some more comments or questions that have taken me off guard in my years in the travel business. You can imagine my responses. Please enjoy with a great sense of humor. EPCOT Flowers

~ I would like to stay at a clothing optional resort at Walt Disney World. (I did giggle a little when asked this)

~ Client:  I would like my 9 year old to have charging capabilities on his Magic Band. I would like for him to be able to purchase things when I’m not with him and to able to use the dining plan. Me: {knowing it’s a single dad and only his son on this trip} Oh! Will another family be joining you? Client: No, I will find a good spot to sit and let him do all of the rides by himself. I would prefer to read my book and people watch than to ride rides.

~ I can’t afford to pay off my trip. My kids are super excited. Can you pay the balance and I can pay you back with my tax returns?

~ Client: Could you please tell me some of the best places to hide and smoke at the parks? Me: You don’t have to hide, there are designated smoking areas at each resort and at all of the theme parks. Client: They let you smoke pot at Disney?

Seven Seas Lagoon

Seven Seas Lagoon

~ I would like the garden view room at the Contemporary please. I will then find something wrong during my stay and raise hell. They will upgrade me then to an atrium room and I won’t have to pay for it.

~ Client: How many bottles of water can I take into the parks? Me: I don’t believe there is a limit on how many bottles you can take as long as you can comfortably carry them. Client: So you don’t think 6 – 24 ounce bottles is too many? Me: For the 4 of you, I think that would be fine but you can get free refills of water at any restaurant. Client: Oh, they won’t be filled with water. I’m filling them with vodka.

~ {A woman} I will go into the men’s restroom with my 5 year old son. I don’t want him to feel uncomfortable going into one with out me?  Me: The men’s restroom?  Client: Yes Ma’am!

~ I know Stormalong Bay at the Beach Club is only for their resort guests but can you tell me how to sneak in there?

~ Can you please tell me how to cheat the magic bands? I want my friends staying at the Hilton to use our passes too.

 

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Some Real Questions Asked to Travel Agents

magic kingdom story time with belle

As a travel agent, I like to think that I already know the questions that will be asked before I pick up the phone to contact a client. There have been a few that have taken me off guard. I’m now able to laugh at all of them but some of them did have me and other agents a little perplexed as to “Why would you tell me this?”Magic Kingdom Pete Fantasyland

Please enjoy with a great sense of humor:

  • My son has a warrant out for his arrest. Do you think he will still be able to fly?
  • Client: I would like to go to Disneyland in Florida.    Agent: Great, Disneyland is in California. Is it the Walt Disney World Resort in Florida that you wish to travel too?   Client: No. I have been to Walt Disney World in Orlando. I would like to see Disneyland in Florida next.
  • Does travel insurance cover a cancellation if my husband is arrested for a little felony?
  • Client: I saw the new Harry Potter world was open at Disney. Will I get a chance to see it when I’m at the Magic Kingdom?   Agent: The Wizarding World of Harry Potter is located at Universal Studios and it’s not a Disney Property.   Client: But the internet says it’s located at the Magic Kingdom.
  • In an email: (Attachment picture of a child) Do you think my 5 year old could pass as a big two year old?
  • How do I make my child look like he’s disabled? I don’t want to wait in lines.
  • I’m only going to make a reservation for four people but there will be 7 of us staying in the room at Pop Century. Do you think we Magic Kingdom Crystal Palace restaurantwill all be comfortable?
  • (Email received after client arrived home after trip to WDW. They traveled the second week in July) We had a great trip except it was very hot. I wasn’t expecting it to be in the 90’s with a heat index around 100 every day.
  • May I pay my balance when I get home from my trip?
  • Client: I can’t believe they made me take my cooler full of beer back to the car. It’s not like they sell it at the Magic Kingdom.  Curious Agent: How many beers did you have in the cooler.  Client: Oh, I took a whole case. I didn’t want to run out.
  • Client: {Laughing} I’m so excited. My mother in law is going to pay for my trip to Disney. Here is her credit card number.   Agent: I need her to sign an authorization form first. Where can I send it?  Client: Oh, I just took the credit card out of her purse. She doesn’t know she’s paying for it yet.
  • I don’t want to pay your commission. Could you please tell me how much you make and I will remove that from the invoice. (No, it wasn’t a service issue)

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Unofficial Changes to the Guest Assistance Card

sky over castle

Here is some unofficial information about the new Disability Access Service Card (DAS) that will replace the current Guest Assistance Card (GAC) on October 9, 2013.

My son is autistic so the GAC has been a huge part of our trips to Disney. No one will deny that changes needed to be made to the old beourguestrosewindowsystem. The abuse was crazy. I think that the new Disability Access Service Card (DAS) is a great start and knowing Disney, it will be tweaked as they see fit in the future.  This is a change that has not been taken lightly by Disney and it has been awhile in the making.

The new Disability Access Service Card (DAS) will start on October 9th.

Disney worked closely with AustimSpeaks, park leaders from both coasts, and other disability advocacy groups. It will be used the same at The Disneyland Resort and The Walt Disney World Resort. Its sole purpose is to create a consistent similar experience for all guests from the average guest to one with an extreme disability.

DAS Card Description

  • A photo of DAS cardholder will be on the front along with name, date, location issued, and # of guests in the party.
  • The guest or guardian must also sign a terms and conditions on the DAS card that says they understand how it works, that they won’t abuse it, use it for commercial gain, or give it to someone else. If they breach this contract, it can be revoked and they can be asked to leave the park immediately.
  • The DAS cards can only be issued for up to a 7 day period or until the return time slots are filled up, including for pass holders.
  • On the back of the cards are lots of return time slots. No more different stamps.
  • The card will be paper and slightly larger than the existing GAC card.
  • Make-a-Wish and Give Kids the World guests will not use DAS. They will have a separate lanyard issues prior to their visit that will allow expedited waits. Nothing changes for these folks on how they access the attractions, only what they will use.
  • Guests with a stroller being used a wheelchair sticker will not need a DAS unless they have other needs that warrant it. Attraction based procedures will used to accommodate these guests.
  • Guests needing Front Row Seating will not need a DAS. Attraction based procedures and accommodation will be used.
  • Guests who only have mobility issues will not need DAS. Attraction based procedures and accommodation will be used.
  • The card also has a QR code making it easy for Guest Relations to reprint new ones with the information ready to go if needed.
  • It is still limited to only 6 guests per card including the one it’s issued for.

Space Mountain photo, space mountain ride, The Disney MomsProcedures

After getting a DAS card, guests will approach the attraction they wish to visit. Each attraction will have a cast member at the entrance to assist you. (Not a kiosk as first reported)

  • If the wait is less than 10 minutes, they are admitted through an alternate entrance or Fastpass queue.
  • If the wait is more than 10 minutes, they are issued a return time on their DAS card. The return times will be based on the current posted wait time minus 10 minutes.
  • Only 1 (one) active return time can be written on a DAS card placing you in a virtual standby queue. Just like a regular guest in a standby queue, you can’t be in multiple lines at once. You are free to go stand in line for another attraction, go shopping or eat.
  • The DAS card holder (photo and name) does not need to be present to receive a return time which allows families with children with autism a chance to stay clear of the attraction while a member gets the return time to avoid potential meltdowns by not getting to ride right away.
  • Once the return time has arrived, you will arrive to the attractions alternate entrance or Fastpass line to redeem.
  • Once a return time has been redeemed it is crossed off and no longer active allowing you get a new return time.
  • Crossing off a return time also voids or cancels it to the equivalent of getting out of line.
  • Fastpass & Fastpass+ are not tied to this program and can be used in conjunction. So you can technically be standing in two lines at once.

Here is a difference between a DAS & a Fastpassanimal dog

DAS Return Times have the same policy as a Fastpass when it comes to early arrivals, but they do not expire at a certain time of that day allowing those with special needs to not be restricted to returning back by a specific time if it doesn’t work for them. The catch however is that it will still remain active and additional return times can’t be gotten until it is used.

  • The DAS card holder (photo and name) must be present and experiencing the attraction in order to use the return time. If the person isn’t present or choose to sit out and let their family ride, they will be turned away and potentially have their card revoked. After all, the card is designed to assist the card holder and a few other companions or family members, but it is not designed to solely assist the family or companions when the card holder chooses not to or can’t ride.
  • If an attraction is broken, they can’t give you a return time. If you return and it’s broken, they will accommodate you by giving you a Fastpass to come back later and clearing your DAS return time to allow you to get another.
  • If all your return slots get filled, you have to return to Guest Relations for a new one. This would likely only fill up for someone that is staying on property for all 7 days.

Additional Procedures

  • Attractions that are not fully accessible through the standby queue may also have return cards. These are only for guests with wheelchairs, scooters, & strollers acting as wheelchairs who do not have a DAS card. Space Mountain is an example of a place that already does this, but additional attractions will soon be getting a similar procedure. The return times for these are just like DAS, but because they are attraction specific cards verses a global DAS card, you are able to grab multiple at once if you visit attractions that require it. Not all attractions will have this.

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Magical Vacations by Me LogoIf you are looking to book a magical vacation, please contact Magical Vacations by Me at 404-414-6198 or mickeyinfo@magicalvacationsbyme.com

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Happy Friday Pictures!!

Start this weekend off with some Disney inspiration!

sky magic kingdom sunset

 

 

magic kingdom walt moon

Is it a baseball or the moon?

Chip and dale

Is there a happier pair?

Cinderella castle

It makes you want to say ahhhhh!

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Magical Vacations by Me LogoIf you are looking to book a magical vacation, please contact Magical Vacations by Me at 404-414-6198 or mickeyinfo@magicalvacationsbyme.com

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Alice Apron Unbirthday Giveaway on Picturing Disney!

Have you ever celebrated your unbirthday? In the spirit of the March Hare and Mad Hatter’s fabulous tea party there is no day to celebrate like today! So grab some friends and family, have your own unbirthday party and then enter to win this wonderlandful apron.
Image

It’s easy to enter just head over to my photoblog, Picturing Disney, for more details! Remember you can send pics of past unbirthday celebrations as well!

A very merry unbirthday to you my dears!

Disney Inspired Bangle Bracelets on Etsy

Just wanted to share the newly updated etsy shop over at Picturing Disney!

Enjoy these adorable Disney inspired bangles and more.

image.png

Check the announcements section of the shop for deals like the current promotions: Free Bangle with the purchase of a Tiki Handbag OR Buy 3 Bangles and Get 1 Free!   Plus all Mouze readers get 10% off of orders of $15 or more  with promo code: MOUZE

Happy Shopping! 🙂

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Are you a biker or surfer? Teen Beach Movie

Teen beach movie

By Frances

My nine year old daughter has become obsessed with the new Teen Beach Movie. She knows the dances and she has taught her five year old brother the “Cruisin’ for a Brusin'” dance. In honor of my daughter, here is a test to find out if you are a biker or a surfer. This was on one of the kids menus at the Walt Disney World resort! Enjoy!

1. What sounds more relaxing?

A. The open road with the wind in your hair

B. Sandy beaches and sweet waves

 

2. You’d NEVER be seen wearing …

A. Brightly colored surf shirt

B. Leather jacket

 

3. When you’re feeling overheated, how would you cool off?

A. Cool breeze on a fast bike

B. Take a dip in the big blue sea

 

4. Do you prefer to slick up your ride with …

A. Engine oil

B. Board wax

 

5. When you’re feeling stressed, how do you handle it?

A. I rev it up!

B. I just chill out!

Score: Add up the number of times that you picked A, then add up the number of times that you picked B. If A is higher, then it’s time to rock ‘n roll because you are a Biker. If B is higher, then it’s time to catch a wave because you are a Surfer!

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Magical Vacations by Me LogoIf you are looking to book a magical vacation, please contact Magical Vacations by Me at 404-414-6198 or mickeyinfo@magicalvacationsbyme.com

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