What is the Best Age to Visit Disney World?

We often hear “I want to wait until she/he will remember it” or “I want to go while they still believe in the magic”. The truth is, every age is a perfect time to visit the Walt Disney World Resort.

Babies and toddlers can be easy to take because they will often sleep in their stroller. Pre-schoolers are of course much more aware of all that is going on. Elementary school age children still love the characters and aren’t too cool for Mickey yet. Middle and high school age children are great because they can stay out late and don’t need you to ride their favorite roller coaster. And going as an adult turns you into a small child again.

As for remembering the trip, you never know what they will remember. I first stepped foot in the Magic Kingdom when I was about 16 years old. I remember very little other than how amazing it all was. My second trip was right after I married my prince charming (about 14 years ago).  We talk about that trip and frankly, there’s a lot we don’t remember. Of course from both of those trips there are key moments, or magical moments, that stand out but those are primarily of things that we have pictures of.

In addition, the trip is not just about the child(ren). You as the parent or grandparent will be making your own memories. The 2 year old may not remember the first time she hugged Minnie Mouse, but YOU will never forget that magical moment when she squealed and ran to Minnie for the first time. You will never forget the crazy afternoon rain shower when you and your 4 year old got drenched and went puddle jumping while everyone else ran for cover. You will never forget that little boy being tall enough (and brave enough) to hop on Tower of Terror for the first time. The memories belong to each one of you…not just the baby, toddler, preschooler, or big kid.

The important thing is take the time to make those moments happen before it’s too late. As specialist in planning family vacations, the team at DWB Vacations wants to help you plan those moments. Our services are personalized to fit your family and your needs…not just generic advice for anyone that happens to pick up a book. And when you book through us, our services are no cost to you. In fact, we usually are able to save our clients money over booking it themselves.

The Kiss That Saved a Trip

Lauren M., a friend and client of DWB Vacations shares her story of Disney magic and how a royal kiss saved their trip…

We arrived for our Disney trip, with my 6yr old son and 3yr old daughter. It was Christmas and the park was beautiful. My daughter who is painfully shy only had one thing on her mind…seeing Snow White. She would not meet or touch or talk to any other Disney character, in fact, they all sent her to tears if they even looked her way. But not snow white; she is my daughter’s favorite. So my mission that trip was to find Snow White.

Our first day was spent at Magic Kingdom, riding every ride there, well everyone except my daughter, she was too scared. We saw Cinderella, Belle, and Aurora, none of which my daughter cared about.  I asked about Snow White and was told the best place to find her was Epcot. So, the following day we set out for Epcot…after an 8 hour day still no Snow White (we evidently ate breakfast at Akershaus on the only day Snow White wasn’t there). Our next day was spent at Downtown Disney and our hotel, promising our princess that we would find Snow White.

The next and last day of our trip we headed back to Magic Kingdom, and our search began….then, finally near the front of the park right beside Tony’s Town Square, there she was…Snow White.  It was 2:30pm. There were only about 10 children in line so we claimed our spot, autograph books ready…we got closer and closer, we were next..my daughter had the biggest grin on her face, finally something for her. Then bam! A cast member stepped in front of us and said “Sorry, Snow White has to go” Wait! What?! I begged, please just one more, we have searched all week. “No, sorry ma’am, Snow White has to go she’ll be back tomorrow” I looked at my daughter and her eyes were full of tears, heck, my eyes were full of tears. I carried her away, crying and broken hearted. Walking up mainstreet back towards the castle a cast member in a  suit approached my daughter and said “Oh please don’t cry. Here is some pixie dust” and sprinkled her head. My daughter could not stop crying. I explained that we had been searching for Snow White for 3 days and it was our last night in Disney and we got cut off as we were next in line. The cast member told me to meet her at the building by the entrance at 6pm and she was going to see what she could do. I agreed.

We met our angel at 6pm thinking we were going to see Snow White, but the cast member instead handed my daughter Snow White’s headband signed by Snow White and told her to wear it to the 9pm Parade and gave us instructions to sit in VIP. My daughter was devastated, she didn’t want the headband, or care about the parade, she just wanted to meet Snow White. There isn’t much that makes my daughter smile.  She is a very timid child, but Snow White could make her smile. Nine pm arrived and we had our spots in VIP for the parade (beside Trace Adkins and his family by the way).  The parade began and my daughter had on her headband as instructed. Then we saw her… Snow White! The cast member in the VIP section mentioned, “Wow! Snow White always rides on a float.  That is strange she is walking.”  Then it happened..Snow White came out of the parade, walked over to our section, picked up my daughter and gave her the biggest hug and a huge lipstick filled kiss on her forehead. And I almost died. My daughter was smiling so big and didn’t wash that kiss off for 2 days. I cried like a baby and I will never ever forget the look on my daughter’s face for the rest of my life.

Princess Kisses

“I Want to go to Disney to See Harry Potter”

Since the Wizarding World of Harry Potter made its debut in central Florida a few years ago, we hear that sentence a lot. But there’s a problem…Harry Potter isn’t at Disney World. Wizarding World of Harry Potter can be found at Universal Florida’s Islands of Adventures.

A lot of people just assume that “Disney” is all of central Florida and that all of the theme parks and water parks belong to Disney. Unfortunately for Disney fans, that’s not the case. Central Florida has the Walt Disney World Resort, the Universal Orlando Resort, Sea World Parks & Entertainment, Legoland and more! There’s so much to see and do and there’s no way you can do it all in one trip.

Let’s look at the major entertainment destinations…

*Walt Disney World Resort-

People often mistakenly call Magic Kingdom “Disney” and don’t realize that “Disney” is more than “the park with the castle”.  The Walt Disney World Resort features 4 theme parks, 2 water parks, mini golf, 18 hold professional golf courses, shopping, fine dining, and the EPSN Wide World of Sports. Disney World’s 4 theme parks are Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Hollywood Studios and Animal Kingdom.

*Universal Orlando Resort-

Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure along with Citywalk Wizarding World of Harry Potterand 3 fantastic hotels make up the Universal Orlando Resort.  Universal Studios is all about the movies with tributes to many movie greats like E.T., Twister and Terminator. Islands of Adventures allows you to step into Harry Potter’s world when you ride Flight of the Hippogriff or dine at the Three Broomsticks. And coming soon there will be even more Harry Potter themed fun…stay tuned!

*Sea World Parks and Entertainment-

Sea World Orlando is so much more than dolphins and Shamu doing tricks. First, Sea World  has expanded and now includes exciting rides like Feeding the dolphinsthe Manta along with the many animal attractions like penguins and manatees. Check out the Penguin web cam. There’s also Aquatica, Sea World’s Waterpark Orlando, where you can ride a water slide that takes you underwater to find black and white Commerson’s Dolphins or raft through Loggerhead Lane to see beautiful exotic fish. And you can spend a day at Discovery Cove, an all inclusive park day that allows you to swim with dolphins, snorkel and meet a marmoset. Discovery Cove limits the number of tickets sold each day and when you you purchase your ticket to Discovery Cove, you also get unlimited admission to Sea World and Aquatica for 14 days.

*Legoland Florida-

150 acres full of Lego fun is designed for children ages 2 to 12 and their families. Legoland Florida now also boasts a Legoland water park. Legoland Florida is in Winter Haven, about 45 minutes from the other Orlando area theme parks.


In addition to the theme parks, guests in Central Florida can head to Cape Canaveral to

Kennedy Space Centerexplore the Kennedy Space Center and see the Space Shuttle Atlantis  or eat lunch with an astronaut.  A quick trip to Clearwater, near Tampa, will take you to visit Winter the Dolphin from the hit movie “A Dolphin’s Tale”.

As you can see, a trip to Central Florida  can mean so much more than just Disney or Harry Potter. Trying to sort through all of the options can be a pretty massive project. We would be happy to help you plan your vacation to Central Florida and decide which of these many fun adventures would be best for your family. Our planning services are free when you book through us!

Cruising To Disney’s Castaway Cay (part 3)

Many cruise lines have their own “private island” in the Caribbean where they stop for their guests to enjoy a day of peaceful relaxation but just like with everything, Disney takes it up a notch.

Gorda Cay, the former name of Castaway Cay, was the setting for the scene in 1984 Tom Hank’s hit “Splash” with Daryl Hannah. Not long after, Disney took possession of the 1,000  acres of land. Over 18 months, 50,000 truck loads of sand from the ocean so that the mighty Disney cruise liner could dock at a port right at the island. Some of the other cruise lines require tendering. Tendering occurs when the ship can not dock, or park” at a dock at the port and must anchor at sea. A smaller boat is used to transport guests between the massive cruise ship and the island. Because of the dredging, Disney’s ships are allowed to dock directly at the island’s port.

Great care was taken in giving the island an authentic Caribbean feeling while mixing the Disney magic to create a cruisers paradise.  Buildings were constructed to look as if they has been built using the remains of a shipwrecked boat. At one time the Flying Dutchman (the actual prop) from Disney’s Pirates of the Caribbean franchise rested in the waters near the family beach but the famous movie prop has since been removed and dismantled due to deterioration from the weather and sea. Two of the submarines from Disney World’s 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea attraction have been sunk off of Castaway Cay for those exploring the water. A bar designed to look like a air hangar in Serenity Bay adds to the look of the abandoned airstrip. It is reported that Disney spent $25 million designing this ideal deserted island.

It takes a lot to keep paradise in it’s magically perfect state. Approximately 100 cast members live on the island to make sure guests have their ideal Caribbean getaway. To care for these cast members as well as the guests that visit for just a few hours, the island has a sewage treatment plant and 2 facilities that turn salt water into fresh water.  There is an HR coordinate to assist the employees and a cook that prepares meals for the cast members living in the paradise. Cast members living on the island are divided into 6 areas… recreation, landscaping, maintenance, animal programs, custodial, and island leadership. While they live in a tropical paradise, their work is never ending. Not only do they have to provide for the arrival of 2700 to 4000 guests on days the ships dock, they have to handle on going maintenance and prepare for all mother nature has in store.

Castaway Cay even has its own post office operated by the Bahamian authorities with its own post mark. So make sure you send yourself a post card so you can remember your day in Disney’s paradise.

Cruising to Disney’s Castaway Cay (part 2)

If you have been to Disney’s Castaway Cay, you know just how beautiful and peaceful it is. But if you have been on Disney’s little piece of heaven, you probably didn’t realize that only 5.5% of the island is being used. Castaway Cay, formerly known as Gorda Cay, is actually 1,000 acres but Disney only uses 55 of those acres.  I’ve been very fascinated with the story of Castaway Cay. Of course like everything Disney, it needed a back story, right? What I found was not always “Disney-like” and the accounts are not necessarily the same from one source to another.

There are various stories about Gorda Cay, near Great Abaco Island in the Bahamas, prior to the 1950’s. Some believe that the many hidden alcoves made a great hiding place for pirates waiting to ambush passing merchant ships. It is possible Blackbeard himself walked on the island. Well, that fits in with the Pirates of the Caribbean theme, doesn’t it??

A real estate agent from Nassau, Alvin Tucker, purchased a large portion of the land in the 1960’s and built the 2400 foot airstrip that is still there today (although no longer used). Unfortunately drug smugglers began to take over the tiny area. Tucker’s landing strip was used to help bring narcotics into Florida. Tucker tried to stop the crimes but since the area authorities were involved, there was nothing he could do. Tucker and the other owners of the land supposedly were not even able to visit their own private paradise because of the criminals and their Dobermans would chase them away. An American drug trafficker, Frank Barber, purchased the landing strip from Tucker so he could utilize it for his own gain. Supposedly Barber had plans to turn the island into a resort but his plans were thwarted when there was a drug bust on the island in 1983. Barber went to jail and died before his sentence had ended.

According to the official Disney website the island was used by European settlers in 1783 who were escaping exile from the American Revolution. Now that sounds much more like a Disney story, doesn’t it? Interestingly enough, the official Disney website states that the island of Gorda Cay was used in the filming of the 1984 smash comedy, “Splash” starring Tom Hanks. But Disney did not purchase Gorda Cay until 1996.

In our next installment on Castaway Cay we will talk about what it took to build the paradise we know today.

Cruising to Disney’s Castaway Cay (part 1)

The highlight of a Disney Cruise, at least for my family, is the day we stop at Castaway Cay (pronounced key). Castaway Cay is their private island. And it is very private…and beautiful…and calming…and relaxing. As soon as we are told we can disembark, we head out. First stop is Pelican Plunge, before the lines get long.

Luckily my children only want one or two trips down before they are ready to move on. It can be a tiring swim to get out to the landing and then back to land time and time again. We like to grab a spot on Castaway Family Beach for a little fun in the sun and beautiful clear water. My only complaint is that the tubes you can rent for the water are too big for little ones to float in (without falling through).

After a few hours we are hungry and ready for lunch on the island at Cookies BBQ or Cookies Too BBQ.  Lunch is served as a family buffet with all you can eat BBQ, island spiced rotisserie chicken, burgers, fresh salad, corn on the cob, baked beans, and yummy desserts. And just like on board, the soft drinks are free at the soft drink station!

Serenity Bay
Quality relaxation at Serenity Bay

After lunch we like to split up so the kids can enjoy some fun in the kid’s club on the island while my hubby and I can relax at Serenity Bay, the adults only area. There are tram stations set up across the island to help you get from place to place. 

One tip, if you are driving to the port, you can bring water onboard in your  luggage. This can be very useful for a hot day on Castaway Cay! Bring a smaller cooler and pop 4-6 bottles in so you don’t have to run to the drink station or buy the expensive bottled water they sell.

Stayed tuned…next segment on the history of Castaway Cay


Captain Jack Sparrow

Sometimes it’s easier to meet Disney characters on Castaway Cay

Pelican Plunge

Pelican Plunge


Splash area on Castaway Cay

Duct Tape is Your Friend

Have you ever picked up your luggage from baggage claim only to fine it torn or ripped or broken? Have you ever started packing to go home and found a broken zipper? Have you ever stayed in a cruise stateroom or hotel room where the curtains just won’t close completely? Or worse, have you been heading out for an evening on vacation only to find the hem in your skirt ripped?

Duct tape is the traveler’s friend! Throw it your carry on for a quick fix for any of those scenarios or hundreds of other situations that require a quick fix! Plus, when using it on your luggage, it helps you identify your bags on the conveyor belt. Duck brand duct tape now comes in a variety of cool colors and prints and can even be found at your favorite craft store! You could even create a cool flag to hang on your door or window to help you remember which room is yours. And duct tape comes with college logos so you can show your school pride!




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