Planning Your Disney Trip

So, you’ve decided to go on a Disney trip, and you’re starting to feel overwhelmed with everything there is to do. But, don’t worry.  I’m going to walk you through it one step at a time.

I invite you to join me as I help you get ready for your Disney trip in this series I am currently writing for, The 1, 2, 3’s Of Planning A Disney Trip.  

So… let’s get started:

Step 1:
Do It Yourself Or Use A Travel Agent?

Step 2:
Deciding When To Travel

Step 3:
On Property Or Off?

Step 4:
Choosing Where To Stay On Property (Part 1)
Choosing Where To Stay On Property (Part 2)
Choosing Where to Stay on Property (Part 3)


Are you interested in an exciting Disney vacation package? Well, then…

Contact me to begin the journey to your wonderful Disney adventure.  




An Authorized Disney Travel Agency


Not traveling to a Disney destination?  No problem!  I can help you with all of your vacation needs.  

Magical World Vacations is a full service agency!

Contact me at:

Or contact Magical World Vacations directly and let them know you found them on The Mouse In Our House!

Happy Travels!

~ Monica

A Review of Wilderness Lodge Resort

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On our most recent trip, we stayed at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge for the first time.  A deluxe resort, it is themed for the lodges of the American Northwest, and is very close to the Magic Kingdom – just a short boat ride away.



This resort is modeled after the Old Faithful Inn in Yellowstone National Park and is surrounded by pines, dense forest and a 450-acre natural lake, and is the site for Fire Rock Geyser.  


The lobby is spectacular – towering Lodgepole Pine imported from Oregon, 50+ foot totem poles, 80+ foot fireplace which represents the colors and strata from the Grand Canyon, as well as representations of Native American artifacts.  As soon as the doors opened into the lobby, we were hit with a fresh, piney smell that made us feel like we were really in the Northwest and not in the middle of Orlando, Florida.



The resort is absolutely beautiful and breathtaking.  We truly enjoyed our stay.

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Roaring Fork – counter service

Whispering Canyon Cafe – table service

Artist Point – signature table service


The Wilderness Lodge also boasts the Villas at Wilderness Lodge (Disney Vacation Club).  


A Review of Coronado Springs Resort

Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort is our favorite resort – well, to be honest, it’s the only one we’ve stayed at so far. Every time we make our resort reservations, we always end up back at Coronado Springs.  And that’s just fine with us.

This is one of Disney’s moderate category resorts and is also a convention center, so it can tend to get very busy.  However, we’ve never had any issues in that regard.  The theming here is Colonial Mexican/American Southwest, and they do it very, very well.

The resort is divided into three village areas – the Casitas, the Ranchos, and the Cabanas. During our first trip, we stayed in the Cabanas.  It was a beautiful area of the resort, but it was quite a far walk from our room to El Centro, the main building that houses the check-in desk, Panchito’s Gift & Sundries, Cafe Rix, Rix Lounge, The Pepper Market Food Court, and the full service restaurant, Maya Grill.  The last two times we’ve stayed at Coronado Springs, we’ve been in the Casitas section of the resort.  Although it’s still a walk to and from the main building, we can walk through the convention center which is a much easier walk, especially in the rain and heat.

The resort’s rooms were refurbished in 2009.  A typical guest room has 2 queen beds (or a king-sized bed) and a key-operated wall safe for valuables in the closet area. All rooms have complimentary Wi-Fi Service. There are handicapped accessible rooms available with a king-sized bed and a wheelchair accessible shower instead of a tub. You can request bed rails and cribs from Housekeeping.

Rix Cafe:  This is a grab and go coffee shop located near the main entrance and offers a selection of salads, sandwiches, and drinks, as well as pastries, muffins, fruits, and cereals. This is also where you can get your refillable mugs for your water, coffee, tea and soft drinks.

The Pepper Market:  This is the resort’s food court located in the main building. This is not your typical counter service place, but instead feels more like a sit down restaurant.  There is a good variety of food here – grilled, Mexican, hamburgers, pizza, fish, pasta, sandwiches, stir-fry, and baked goods.  We eat here a lot and have always liked it.  On our last trip, just days after being put on a gluten free/dairy free diet by my doctor, I found the chefs here to be very knowledgeable and helpful.  In fact, they took the time to educate me on my food choices, and one of the chefs actually took the time to check with me as to what time I thought I would be in for lunch on the days he was working so he could prepare my meals for me to avoid cross-contamination and make sure I had something that I would like to eat.  I had chimichurri chicken a couple of times which came with rice and black beans and was delicious, as well as a hearty grilled fish filet, nachos, and tacos, all of which were also very good.  Our family really likes this restaurant, and it is one of the reasons we return to this resort again and again.

The Maya Grill:  This is the resort’s full service restaurant which offers Mexican and American Southwestern dining.  We have dined here twice over the last couple of trips.  My husband and daughter really seem to like it, however, I feel it has fallen short of my expectations in the past.  Both times, I’ve ordered their filet mignon, but felt that it wasn’t the best steak I’ve had on property.  However, on our last trip, I felt the steak was a little better than the previous year, and I absolutely LOVED the dessert the chef made especially for me in light of my gluten free/dairy free diet.  I didn’t really believe the waitress when she offered me dessert, since I hadn’t had much luck getting gluten free/dairy free desserts on property, but she definitely surprised me.  She brought out a bowl of the most delicious ice cream.  I believe it was Tofutti with a homemade mango sauce that was absolutely delicious.  It absolutely made my vacation.  The only other place I was able to have a dessert that wasn’t fruit was at Mama Melrose in Hollywood Studios.  All things considered, I would definitely give this restaurant another try.

Panchito’s:  This is the resort’s gift and sundries shop located in El Centro. There are also some groceries here, but beware, they are quite expensive.  We usually pack our own snacks from home, but we do buy milk to keep in our room’s refrigerator for breakfast, as well as some soft drinks. Panchito’s has a nice selection of gifts and clothing.

Pools:  The Dig Site is the large pool area at Coronado Springs with its centerpiece being a 50-foot Mayan pyramid behind which is a 123-foot long water slide that my daughter just loves.  Each of the three village areas have a quiet pool, and this was one we enjoyed on our last trip, as it was relatively near our room, and we had it to ourselves every time. 

I hope you get a chance to enjoy this resort in the future.

Until next time, remember to keep the Mouse in your house.

~ Monica

A Review of Be Our Guest Restaurant

The Be Our Guest Restaurant is a beautiful dining venue at the foot of Beast’s Castle in the new Fantasyland section of the Magic Kingdom. When you pass through the gateway and walk across the stone bridge and through wrought-iron gates, you enter the restaurant, which is the inside of Beast’s Castle. My family and I ate here on our August 2013 trip – for both lunch and dinner. Both times the food was delicious.We had dinner reservations on our first night at the World, and were very, very impressed with the design and decor, and my daughter was thrilled to be in Beast’s Castle.  She loves Beauty and the Beast, and being in the castle was like being in the movie.  There are three dining areas – the grand ballroom where we were seated, the rose gallery, and the west wing.  Unfortunately, we didn’t get a chance to see the rose gallery or the west wing. My husband and I both ordered the grilled strip steak with garlic-herb butter and french fries for dinner, which was delicious – very tender and cooked to perfection.  I was particularly pleased, since I was put on a gluten free/dairy free diet by my doctor just three days prior to our trip. After letting our waiter know that I had a special needs diet, the chef came out to speak with me about what I could eat, which was pretty much every entree on the menu.  I didn’t mention my dairy restriction – I cheated for a couple of days… what?  I was at Disney!… I wanted to enjoy it!Our daughter had the grilled steak with fries, which she said was delicious. Nope – no hamburgers at this place.  Their children’s menu was awesome and not the usual children’s meals.  Kids’ options include baked macaroni & cheese, chicken, grilled cheese and tomato soup, grilled fish, grilled steak, and meatloaf – much healthier options than some other table service restaurants.Desserts offered a choice of various cupcakes and cream puffs (including a GF cream puff) which were delicious.Some guests have reported being able to get the “grey stuff” as a special celebration dessert, but I’m hearing it is now available to everyone as a cupcake.What’s the grey stuff, you ask?  As fans of Beauty and the Beast will recall, Lumiere and the dishes serenade Belle, suggesting that she:

 “Try the grey stuff, it’s delicious.  Don’t believe me?  Ask the dishes!” 

It just wouldn’t be right to not have the grey stuff for dessert in Beast’s Castle!!!

After dinner, we were told that Beast was waiting for us in his study.  Our daughter got a thrill out of meeting him in his formal wear.  He couldn’t sign her autograph book (his paws are too big), but he did pose for pictures with her.  She loved it!

By the way, if you’re eating in the grand ballroom, take a look out the windows for a nice surprise.

Lunch is no less fabulous.  Imagine having a counter service lunch in such an elegant setting.
When we entered the castle on the last day of our trip, we were directed to a cast member or kiosk to place our order.  The options for lunch are incredible.
My husband ordered the roast beef sandwich and said it was delicious, as was my carved turkey sandwich (the gluten free version).  If you didn’t know it was gluten free, you just wouldn’t have guessed!  Our daughter had the Mrs. Potts’ Platter, and she loved it.
Desserts once again consisted of yummy cupcakes and cream puffs.
It was a wonderful dining experience each time and by far the best counter service meal we had.
I always recommend to family and friends that they have dinner there.  Or lunch.  Or better yet – both!!!
I hope you’ve found this restaurant review to be helpful and that you get a chance to enjoy a meal there in the future.
Until next time, don’t forget to keep the Mouse in your house.

Yours Truly Is Interviewed

Hi, Friends!

I was recently interviewed by Lanterns & Frying Pans.  Here’s the interview if you want to take a look.

Lanterns & Frying Pans:  Interview With Monica Pinto

Until next time, don’t forget to keep the Mouse in your house!

~ Monica

A Review of Disney “Descendants”



Hi! My name is Allisa, I’m 15 years old, and I live in Florida.

Today, I will be reviewing on the Disney Channel movie Descendants.

On July 31, 2015, the Descendants movie was released on Disney Channel. Descendents is a movie about the descendants of the original Disney Villains, Cruella De Vil, Jafar, Maleficent, and the Evil Queen, and their respective children Carlos, Jay, Mal, and Evie.

The Disney Original Villains and their children live in the island called The Isle of the Lost, where they have a barrier not to pass anywhere near the kingdom of Auradon. In Auradon, the son of Beauty and the Beast, Ben, invites Carlos, Jay, Mal, and Evie to come to Auradon Prep, the school which Ben attends.

The Villains receive this message and tell their children that they are going to attend Auradon Prep. The children greatly disagree, but they have no choice if they want to go or not. As they get ready for Auradon Prep, their vehicle arrives and off they go. But before they go, Maleficent gives them a mission to retrieve the wand of the Fairy God Mother. As they are on their way to Auradon Prep, they see a magical road that was magically unleashed right before their eyes.

They arrive at Auradon Prep and are greeted by the Fairy God Mother and Ben with his girlfriend, Audrey. They ask the Fairy God Mother to see the wand as an easy route to getting the wand, but she said that they no longer use magic in Auradon. They go on ahead on a tour as Mal finds some interest in Ben. Then they are greeted by Doug and he shows them the way to their dorms and he too has some interest in Evie. They go to their dorms and figure out a plan on how to get the wand from this museum that they discovered.

That night, they follow the location of the museum, a start to use magic once they arrive. The guard fell deep asleep and they headed inside. On their way to the sight, Mal feels a little insecure about if this is the right thing to do, followed by a duet performed by her and Maleficent. Her mom convinces her to be just like her and heads back to the wand. They find the wand and Jay tries to get it but an alarm goes off.

Evie starts to fall in love with Chad Charming, son of Cinderella and Prince Charming. Mal changes Jane’s hair. Then Mal learns that Ben’s girlfriend is the only person to be seated in the front of the coronation. She makes a potion inside some cookies that changes Ben so he falls in love with Mal. Ben declares his love for Mal asking her to go to the coronation with him.

Audrey finds a new boyfriend that Evie liked. Ben asked Mal on a date. Ben tricks her to go in the water and finds out she can’t swim. Ben saves her and asks if she likes him. She says that she doesn’t know what love feels like and that he would teach her.

Auradon Prep has a family day where Ben introduces Mal, his new girlfriend, to his parents which are shocked. A fight breaks out when Audrey’s Grandmother sees that Maleficent hurt her family. Jane is in the popular group now and Mal goes and undoes the curse of her hair. Mal gives Ben a brownie to break the spell but he knew that she put a spell on him.

After the coronation blessing, Jane takes the wand to give herself a magical makeover. She broke the barrier and Maleficent came in. Mal finds out that she wants to be good, and her mom gets mad. Maleficent freezes everyone and takes the wand. Mal tells her mom about love and that taking the wand away is not right.

The four friends battle the dragon which Maleficent has turned herself into, Mal says a spell, and turns her mother into a tiny lizard.  The Fairy Godmother explains that Maleficent’s size is equivalent to the amount of love she has in her heart. She can be herself again when she learns to love again.

They celebrate with the song “Set It Off.” The film ends with Mal’s eyes glowing saying, “You didn’t think this was the end of the story, did you?”

I loved this movie so much! My favorite characters are all of them. I recommend this movie for ages six and up. My favorite scene of the movie was when they did Set It Off and her eyes glowing, which left me off on a cliffhanger. I can’ wait for the second moving coming out in 2017.

A New Era At The Parks

Picture - Metal Detectors

Photo Courtesy of Magical World Vacations

Well…. the big day has finally arrived.  

Nope, believe it or not, I’m NOT talking about Star Wars: The Force Awakens….

What I AM talking about are the new security measures being taken at Walt Disney World and Disneyland.  As of Thursday, December 17, 2015, metal detectors were debuted at the parks in addition to extra security measures currently in place.

Although there’s a part of me that knows this was certainly inevitable and a long time coming, it still makes me a little sad that this is even necessary.  Although I’m sure Disney will continue to keep the visibility of its expansive security measures under the radar, it’s sad to think that the next time I walk up to the entrance of the Magic Kingdom (and, of course, the other parks), I’ll see metal detectors.

Believe me, I’m not naive.  I know that danger lurks everywhere and that people with bad intentions are all around us – no matter the place.  As the mother of a young child, I’m constantly on the lookout and imagining the worst case scenario.  I always tend to get extremely nervous before a trip – I hate flying for so many reasons, and I worry about everything that can happen on our trips, most of which is often driven by the misconception that there is a lack of security at the parks. After all, safeguards at the World are rarely visible.  However, I will say this – once I get there and step onto Main Street, all at once, I’m no longer as nervous as I was up to that point.  I’m not saying I still don’t worry about what can or might happen, but being there seems to somehow slowly dissipate most of my fears.

Have there been some hiccups along the way?  Unfortunately, yes.  And it’s outraged me, made me re-think trips, and made me ask, “What is Disney thinking?”…  

For example, back in May 2013, a grandmother found a loaded gun on her seat as she and her young grandson boarded the Dinosaur ride at Animal Kingdom.  The gun’s owner, who had a permit to carry a concealed weapon, said the gun slipped out of his back pocket as a result of the extremely bumpy ride.  This was swiftly followed by an incident at Disneyland a few days later when there was a small explosion as a result of dry ice inside a plastic bottle in a trash can – reported to have been placed there by a cast member.  The Toontown section of the park was evacuated, and there were no injuries.

I’ll admit it – these incidents occurred only a couple of months before a trip, prompting me to call Disney and question them about security at the parks and whether or not it’s safe for me to take my child there.  Yes – I’ve been that mom.  And that’s okay.  After speaking with them, and although, obviously, they couldn’t divulge any confidential information to me, I felt more at ease about their security efforts.

But, the question remains – do I think Disney World is safe?  I think it’s probably safer than most other places I might go to on any given day. Do I think anything can happen there?  Yes.  Do I think Disney goes above and beyond to keep their parks as safe as possible?  Absolutely.  I think they have way too much to lose otherwise.  And they know it.  

In the end, regardless of how I might feel about the sight of metal detectors, the most important task is to keep the parks safe for everyone, especially the children.

In the wake of the recent terrorist attacks in Paris and San Bernadino, California, the Federal Department of Homeland Security issued a statement saying it was “especially concerned that terrorist-inspired individuals and homegrown violent extremists might be encouraged or inspired to target public events or places”.

In reply, not only Disney, but Universal and Sea World as well, have put new security measures into place to provide the most safe environment possible for their guests. Interestingly, all three parks installed metal detectors on the same day.  Was that just coincidence or in response to information they received about a possible threat? We will probably never know the answer to that, but either way, the point is that they obviously take their guests’ security seriously and take the necessary steps to ensure their safety.  

This also follows the arrest last week of a Miami attorney who tried to enter the Magic Kingdom with a handgun. Thankfully, he was stopped and questioned at the entrance, fled, and was promptly detained.  It was determined that, although he had a license to carry a firearm, his license had expired approximately 10 years ago. My question – why did he need a gun at Walt Disney World?  Obviously, Disney was asking themselves the same question, and the answer was swift and purposeful.  Another security measure put into place that same day had Disney announcing that it would no longer sell toy guns at the parks and was instituting a ban on costumes for all visitors 14 years and older, even at the Halloween parties.  It is also being reported that more security guards have been seen at the resort lately, and K9 units have been patrolling particular areas.

In a statement, Disney said, “We continually review our comprehensive approach to security and are implementing additional security measures, as appropriate”.

I have also heard reports that wands are being used at the entrances to the parks.  

Although all of these security measures are warranted and, sadly, needed, I can’t help but feel like a little bit of that Disney bubble has burst.  It was wonderful to think that there was a place in this world where children were safe, where innocence prevailed, and the real world couldn’t intrude.  It’s sad to see that this is no longer the case – or, at least, at the front gates to the World.

Even though Walt Disney was a man whose ideas were before their time, I’m sure he never envisioned that this would happen in his parks.  I can only imagine how he would feel if he knew about this – I’m sure his heart would break to see that the parks he imagined and ultimately created for children and their families have fallen victim to the horrific threats of today’s world. But, I’m also sure that he would have been the first to lead the crusade to secure safety for everyone in the World and beyond.

~ Monica 


“Star Wars: The Force Awakens Episode VII” – A Review By Emily Olsen

This IS the movie you’re looking for…

***I am trying not to post any spoilers so forgive me if I am too vague in my descriptions***

Drew Struzan's poster for Star Wars: The Force Awakens

It has been a while since a movie got me this excited!  I was too young when the first Star Wars movies came out in the 70s and 80s.  My interest was sparked in high school when our marching band used the music from Star Wars for our performances, the original trilogy was re-released, and shortly thereafter when the next trilogy (Episodes 1, 2, and 3) were released.  They were good, I enjoyed seeing familiar characters like C-3PO and R2-D2, and it was satisfying to finally know the original story behind Darth Vader.  But THIS movie was so much better than Episodes 1 -3.

Immediately, fans are drawn into the Star Wars universe and become intrigued with the storyline which takes place 30 years after the Battle of Endor in Episode 6.  Action quickly ensues in typical SW fashion, we become familiar with new characters, and instantly bond with them.  Your mind begins dissecting motives, looking for plot twists, and trying to tie plot lines from Episodes 1-6 with this one.  Episode 7, however, does not rely on the original story, but instead adds distinct and unique layers to it.  As I was watching I caught myself feeling, “This is what it must have been like in 1977 when people were watching Star Wars for the first time.”  I was hooked!  I did not want to miss one minute of the action.

Again, it is very hard to describe the movie without any spoilers, but I can say that familiar faces and places do appear throughout the movie.  They are woven so well into the story that it does not feel forced on us or contrived.  Several times, the audience burst into applause when a familiar character was introduced.  It really felt like you were welcoming home an old friend. 

This is not to say that I didn’t LOVE the new characters.  BB-8 is an instant favorite with his endearing mannerisms and, of course, the way he moves (HOW DOES HE DO THAT? Click here to see how ).  And can we say YES to a strong female heroine in Rey from Jakku?  She is most definitely a force to be reckoned with and a great role model for all girls/women out there.  What would Star Wars be without a villain to hate?  Kylo Ren fits the bill and does not disappoint, complete with villainous behavior that might even surprise Darth Vader himself.  (His crossguard light saber is my favorite design by far’s_lightsaber .)  There are background characters that are very reminiscent of previous characters, the set designs are flawless, and I just heard today that the actors piloting the Millennium Falcon had to practice clicking the flight buttons exactly as it was done nearly 40 years ago to preserve the continuity between films.  With this kind of attention to detail, even the most die-hard fanboys will be hard pressed to find flaws in execution.

Finally, I have to tip my hat to JJ Abrams for superb direction of a film.  I must admit, I was skeptical of his ability to preserve the traditional Star Wars feel, but I was very pleasantly surprised.  The pacing was perfect, the cuts between scenes were smooth, and to many fans’ delight…WIPES!  Just like the original Star Wars trilogy.  Episode 7 does not even compare to Episodes 1-3 because it so much better than we could have ever hoped for or imagined.  My recommendation:  Go see this movie the first chance you get.  I can’t wait to see it a second time.   This movie receives a solid “5 Lightsaber” rating.

~ Emily Olsen

R5 From A Teen Girl’s Perspective

R5 Blog - Pic3Hi!  My name is Allisa, I’m 14 years old, and I live in Florida. Today, I will be telling you about a concert I attended. On July 8, 2015, I got to go to an R5 concert which included their younger brother and Jacob Whitesides. I went with my friend, and it was the first concert she has ever been to.

R5 is an American pop rock band. The band members are Ross Lynch, Riker Lynch, Rocky Lynch, Rydel Lynch, and Ellington Ratliff.  All of the band members are siblings, except Ellington Ratliff, who is their longtime friend.  They met him at a dance academy.  They also have a younger brother named Ryland, who is the band’s manager, as well as a DJ.

The band started in 2009 in Los Angeles, California, and their album’s second single “Pass Me By” premiered on Radio Disney on August 16th.

Rydel Lynch is the only girl in the band, and she plays the keyboard. She has been on Girls’ Life Magazine and is currently dating her band mate, Ellington.

Rocky Lynch plays the lead guitar while Ross Lynch plays the rhythm guitar.  Both serve as one of the band’s three lead singers.  Ross also stars on Austin and Ally, a show on the Disney Channel.

Riker Lynch plays the bass and is one of the band’s lead singers.  Riker was recently on Dancing with The Stars where he came in second place with his professional partner, Allison Holker.

Ellington Ratliff plays the drums. Since his name doesn’t start with an “R” like the other band members, he goes by “Ratliff” instead.

On Austin and Ally, Ross plays Austin Moon, whose love interest, Ally Dawson, played by Laura Marano, writes music which is then performed on the show by both Austin and herself.  Together, they have their own music factory where they teach people how to play instruments, sing, and dance.

In addition, Ross Lynch has been in the movies Teen Beach Movie and Teen Beach Movie 2.  My favorite movie songs are “All Night” by R5 and “Fall Back in Love” by Ryland Lynch.  

R5 Blog - Pic 2

I’m not able to choose my favorite band member since they are all special in their own way.

I enjoyed the concert and would go again given the opportunity. 

I recommend R5 for ages 6 and up.

My dream is to one day meet R5 and especially Ryland Lynch.

Until next time!


What Keeps Us Going Back To Walt Disney World?


I hope you enjoy this blog I did for The Mouse For Less about what keeps us going back to Walt Disney World.  What keeps you going back to the World?