Diswithkids Disney Blog

Sally Black

Sally Black
Sally is the Founder of Vacationkids.com Travel Agency and author of the book "Fearless Family Vacations". She is also the Director of Travel Agent Initiatives and Training at The Family Travel Association.

Recent Posts

New Experiences Coming to Disney World

[fa icon="calendar'] Mon, Jul 31, 2017 @ 10:48 AM / by Sally Black posted in Disney Vacation, Disney Vacation Details, Disney Vacation Planning

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Every year Disney makes all of it's huge announcements at the D23 convention.  What's that you ask?

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Visit Pandora at Disney

[fa icon="calendar'] Wed, May 17, 2017 @ 10:25 AM / by Sally Black posted in Disney Vacation

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Beauty and the Beast Adventures by Disney River Cruise

[fa icon="calendar'] Sun, Mar 05, 2017 @ 10:15 AM / by Sally Black posted in Family Cruises, Disney Vacation, family adventure vacation

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It's a tale as old as time - the beloved fairytale of Beauty and the Beast.  2017 will see the release of Disney's live action movie staring Emma Watson and Dan Stevens.

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Uber at Disney

[fa icon="calendar'] Tue, Mar 29, 2016 @ 10:30 AM / by Sally Black posted in Disney Vacation

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Disney World Guests always need affordable transportation options and let's face it, Lightning McQueen is usually busy with his photo ops. Sure there is the Walt Disney World transportation system, but sometimes that just isn't fast enough. What if you want to venture off property to visit some of Orlando's other attractions?

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Magic Kingdom Fireworks

[fa icon="calendar'] Tue, Mar 01, 2016 @ 10:30 AM / by Sally Black posted in Disney Vacation

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Disney World Fireworks area spectacular, no doubt about it.  Every visitor to the parks may have their own favorite attraction but everyone agrees, it's the Magic Kingdom fireworks that are one of the most memorable and inspiring magical moments. Experiencing a Disney Fireworks show is usually a high priority for many visitors.

Disney posts an entertainment schedule of all it's parades, fireworks and shows. It's a good idea to check this as you plan your daily itinerary for the parks. Also, keep an eye to the sky as far as weather is concern.  Remember there can be time changes and cancellations due to storms.

As evening falls on the Magic Kingdom, Walt Disney World guests are treated to the Main Street Electric Parade. Full of color, pagentry, music and the chance to see some of Disney's most beloved characters.  Following the parade, guests are treated to "Disney Wishes".  The theme of the show is the "power of beleiving" Cinderella's Castle is painted every color in the rainbow with laser lights timed with a synchronized soundtrack of Memorable Disney Melodies. The show comes to a climax with Tinkerbell's flight as the "real" Tinkerbell shoots from the castle spire above the heads of spectators on a zipline over between Tomorrowland and Main Street.  The finale is a 15 minute breath taking fireworks show that will light up the night's sky as well as your heart!

Just as there are millions of visitors to Disney World, there are millions of opinions regarding the prime viewing spots for these treasured events. There are the  Disney fanatics that will mark their fireworks viewing points just like the X on the spot of Captain Jack Sparrows Treasure map. Some visitors will gladly pay for prime seats to witness this extravaganza. Other folks will go out of their way to avoid the crowds.

So there are 4 aspects to the entertainment in the Magic Kingdom....

  1. The parade
  2. The castle light show with Tinkerbell
  3. The musical score
  4. The fireworks

You'll also need to consider your own personal travel needs and style

  • Do you need to be in the heart of the action?
  • Are you traveling with little ones? Seeing from strollers?
  • Crowd tolerance?
  • Need a seat? (folks often stake claims to public seats hours before the show)
  • Budget vs priority?
  • Park exit strategy- do you mind waiting or need to sleep?
  • Shorter attraction lines while parade and Wishes is happening

Viewing Fireworks Throughout the park-

Disney knows the fireworks are a treat and priority for many of it's guests.  The good news is that guests can view the fireworks from just about any point in the Magic Kingdom. Soundtrack music is piped thru the park so you'll be able to hear the music as well.  

  • Fantasyland - Just "BEHIND" Cinderella's Castle or around the Seven Dwarf's Mine Train
  • While On attractions - Dumbo, Aladdin, Liberty Square Riverboat and Big Thunder Mountain are some of the favorites.

For The Full Effect -

  • The HUB - It's the central plaza area just at the end of Main Street facing the Castle.  The parade comes right thru this area. It's also one of the best spots to witness the full light show and Tinkerbell's flight.  It's shoulder to shoulder crowded and you'll basically be looking straight up to see the fireworks directly overhead.
TIP:  There are some "Fast Pass" viewing options for firework viewing.  Honestly, these spots aren't that much better than if you simply show up and claim some space. We suggest using your Fast Passes for saving time in attraction lines.
  • Main Street USA - Again, great for viewing the parade, Castle light show and fireworks. You'll catch a bit of Tinkerbell depending on your perspective.  Sidewalks here get EXTREMELY crowded during show time!
 TIP:  all of the shops that line Main Street flow one to another so you can often walk easier indoors than on the sidewalks if you can avoid the temptation of souvenir shopping.
  • Train Station Platform - Personally my favorite spot! Benches line the second floor here and look out over Main Street and the castle.  It's a fantastic vantage point to see the full spectical, you can view the fireworks without breaking your neck and it's a quick exit. Just skip downstairs and you're right at the monorail station and ferry docks.  Also a great spot for stroller size kids. They can easily see over everyone's heads with this bird's eye view.

Farther Afield - 

  • The ticket and transportation Center - This is located across the Seven Seas lagoon from the Magic Kingdom. You will be able to see some of the Castle light show and fireworks. Guests can also hear the soundtrack broadcast from area speakers.

TIP - Disney puts on specialty fireworks displays during Mickey's Not So Scarey Halloween Party and Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party.  These events require an admission fee in addition to your park admission.  For families who's budgets won't allow this extra splurge, do know you CAN still view the specialty fireworks without the extra costs from the ticket and transportation center dock!

  • The Beach at Disney's Polynesian Village Resort - Recent construction has limited much of the space that used to be available here but still a great spot for a picnic.
  • The Dock at the Grand Floridian - A decent viewing point with reflections off the Seven Seans Lagoon
  • Resort rooms - many guests pay to upgrade to Magic Kingdom Park view rooms. These are available for guests staying at the Deluxe monorail resorts, namely the Contemporary, Polynesian and Grand Floridian resorts.  There is a Disney Resort TV channel in your room that will play the synchronized musical soundtrack.

TIP -Disney Room upgrades that come with firework viewing options do cost a pretty penny.  They do make sense for some families with especially young children with early bedtimes, special event celebrations like a honeymoon or anniversary or guests who have special needs.  Remember, you'll be paying for this upgraded view during the entire length of your trip. Your room view remains even while you're out enjoying the parks.  For this reason, some of the "paid" viewing options work out to be more economical if seeing the fireworks is a priority for you.

Paid Firework Viewing Options -

Wishes Fireworks Dessert Party-  $49 per adults/ $29 per child 9 and under.  This desert buffet takes place at the Tomorrowland Terrace with an upfront view of "Wishes".  Tinkerbell will fly right above your heads as you treat yourself to a delightful  selection of themed desserts prepared daily by our pastry chef including chocolate-dipped strawberries, chocolate mousse, seasonal fruits, cheeses, ice cream and Disney character-themed cupcake.  Make a toast with sparkling cider or enjoy coffee, tea, signature lemonades or hot chocolate.


Firework Dining - These Disney Restaurants offer views of Wishes Fireworks. There are a few things to keep in mind here. Not every table will have a perfect firework view.  You MUST make your reservations AS SOON as they are available 190 days in advance for resorts guests. These are PREMIUM reservations in HIGH demand.  Plan your dining time about 1 hour prior to the show. Music is piped in to these locations...
  • California Grill - Contemporary Resort (observation deck)
  • Narcoosee's - Grand Floridian (observation deck)
  • O'Hana - Polynesian Village

Inside the Magic Kingdom guests can catch some particial firework views while dining at the Crystal Place and Casey's corner which are located at the end of Main Street.  On the other side, at the end of Main Street is the Plaza Restaurant.  All of these establishments have outside tables and offer casual dining.  The atmosphere will be crowded and chaotic during the fireworks.  Others have recommended Cinderella's Table as a firework viewing restaurant. Bear in mind this venue is located IN the castle where the fireworks are exploding overhead so not the best spot in our opinion.

Fireworks Cruises
  • Private Fireworks cruises - Prices from around $250 per person. This is a great option for larger groups, something to check off your bucket list or a magical marriage proposal.
  • Ferrytale Wishes: A Fireworks Dessert Cruise - $99 per adult/$69 per child under 9.  Enjoy a buffet of decadent desserts, alcoholic and non alcoholic specialty drinks served in glow glasses and a party like cruise onboard the General Joe Potter Ferryboat. You'll sail to a perfect viewing spot in the center of the Seven Seas Lagoon.  We recommend this option for old kids and adults.
  • Pirates and Pals Fireworks Voyage - $57.50 per adult $33.01 kids 9 and under. Set sail from the Contemporary resort this Captain Hook, Mr Smee and Patch the Pirate. Enjoy cookies, snacks and beverage as you set sail for your prime fireworks viewing spot in the Seven Seas Lagoon. Upon your return, Peter Pan himself will magically appear for a meet and greet.

So depending on your own "Wishes" and priorities, you'll be able to determing the best way for your family to enjoy the firework extravaganza during your next visit to Disney World. Remember these facts just concern the fireworks at the Magic Kingdom.  Epcot, Disney Hollywood Studios and Animal Kingdom parks each offer their own evening entertainment that will also brighten the skies at night.  Remember to speak with your Vacationkids Travel Agent regarding your best fireworks viewing options as they help you plan your daily itineraries.

I Need Help Planning A Disney Vacation

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Getting the Most Out of Disney Memory Maker

[fa icon="calendar'] Tue, Feb 23, 2016 @ 10:30 AM / by Sally Black posted in Disney Vacations, Family Vacation, Disney Details

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First, for a very quick recap - Disney Memory Maker costs $169 and gives you unlimited access to professional photographers who will digitally document your family's entire vacation experience with the simply swipe of your magic bands.  Be sure to check out our earlier blog post What is Disney Memory Maker for more info and details.

Disney Memory Maker is like having your very own vacation paparazzi!  So you'll want to take advantage of this red carpet treatment.

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What is Disney Memory Maker

[fa icon="calendar'] Tue, Feb 02, 2016 @ 10:00 AM / by Sally Black posted in Disney Vacation

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So you’re taking the family to Walt Disney World on Vacation.  You’ve booked your hotel, park tickets and dining package. Maybe you’ve even dropped some serious coin on airplane tickets too. 

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How To Plan A Vacation To Disney

[fa icon="calendar'] Fri, Jan 08, 2016 @ 06:30 AM / by Sally Black posted in Disney Vacation

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 You're searching for an affordable and fun vacation that you're family will love.Disney World offers so many different vacation choices that it can quickly become overwhelming.    

To prevent stress and get the MOST out of your Disney World Vacation...You need a plan!  You've come to the right place. We've created a timeline along with answers to the most popular FAQs about Disney Vacations. Let's get started.....

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New To Disney World for 2016

[fa icon="calendar'] Tue, Dec 15, 2015 @ 01:08 PM / by Sally Black posted in Disney Vacation

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 The one sure thing aboutWalt Disney World is constantly changing.  2016  for Disney World is no exception.  Here are some of the latest openings, updates and fun visitors can expect for 2106 Disney vacation... 

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Walt Disney World Group Travel

[fa icon="calendar'] Fri, Dec 11, 2015 @ 10:40 AM / by Sally Black posted in family group travel, Disney Vacations

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OK so I can blow a lot of magical pixie smoke here but instead I'd like to offer a deep fresh breath of reality.

 Planning a single family trip to Walt Disney World the right way is complicated...Travel, rooms, transportation, food, dining reservations, Magic Band, Fast Passes, shows, daily itinerary plans...WHEW!  Now multiple that at least times 10 times. Yes, you'll need a MINIMUM of 10 rooms to qualify for any Disney Group Benefits.  That said, it's been our experience that when word gets out that someone has already planned a group vacation to Disney World, friends and family seem to multiply like rabbits. Normally Disney Groups grow MUCH larger very quickly (and we can help you grow your group).

And speaking of "group travel benefits" let me add a bit more reality....please do not expect some super cheap rates due to group buying power here. Perhaps I'm "imagineering" this but I wholeheartedly  believe the head of Disney's Groups Department is the infamous Scrooge McDuck.  Bottom line, Disney does not discount - period.  And they don't take kindly to folks out there offering discounts either.  The travel business is all about supply and demand. In 2014, Disney World welcomed over 130,000,000 guests. Discounts are used to entice people to buy. In the scheme of the Disney World universe, if you don't visit the Magic Kingdom there are millions of other people standing in line.

Truth be told, a group vacation to Disney World will probably cost you a bit more than a beach vacation, cruise or any typical family trip. You're paying for the entertainment value here. Those memorable touches like fun tee shirts, dining experiences and photo packages all add to the cost of your vacation.  When you're planning a group it's those extra touches that create more camaraderie, build bonds and make memories. It's what puts the smiles on your grand kids' faces. It's about sharing time with the people you love most in this world.  Tell me, how much will that picture of your little girl dressed as a princess be worth to you twenty years from now as you're walking her down the aisle?  I can tell you the photo of I have of my parents sitting in the lobby of the Polynesian with my kids on their laps during check-in is utterly priceless to me now that my parents are gone.

So it's not about "discounts and cheap", it's about "Time and Value".  When you're kids grow up do you want them to remember you as cheap or smart? There is a big difference here.  

At Vacationkids, we strive to give your family the most value for their hard earned vacation dollars. We're here to save you wasted time and frustration while giving you more time to have fun and create memories with the people most important to you!

So now that we're all on the same page - how do you get your group on a Disney World Vacation together?

Here's a few tips to get you and your group on your way to a fun Disney World Vacation together:

PLAN Ahead - At minimum, start making reservations 1 year in advance. Group trips planned less than 6 months out WILL have issues with dining reservations and character meals. Making reservations and deposits 1 year in advance also gives us the time to set up a vacation payment plan. This will help encourage group participation by offering an affordable way for your guests to budget.

Appoint a Leader - You're group will want a strong decisive leader when it comes to making travel decisions. This is the most effective and efficient way to get the job done. There are ways that everyone can voice their wishes and wants without causing confusion and conflict. Working efficiently WILL save money with flights and can make all the difference when it comes to availability.  Good leaders know how to delegate and select or elect committee heads to help with group communications, crafting, luggage wrangling, dining plans, daily itineraries, Tinkerbell gifts, special celebrations and so forth.

Partner with a Travel Agent - Here is our shameless plug asking you to work with Vacationkids.  Yes, our agents have a deep working knowledge of Disney World...and yes, there are a lot of travel agents out there that "specialize and are authorized" in Disney World Vacations.  

Groups are completely different!

Far beyond Disney details, your group needs a travel agent who knows how to organize, negotiating, handle logistics, understands contracts, can create a group website, automate online payments, orchestrating social media and information, handling questions and special requests. Without that type of group travel experience and guidance, all this extra work falls on the shoulders of the group organizers. It will quickly your fun filled group vacation into a full time nightmare. WHATEVER you do, don't do this alone!  One small mistake  multiplied by a large number of travelers can become VERY expensive.

Select the Right Disney Resort -  First, stay in the park at a Disney Resort - end of discussion!  Disney World encompasses over 50 square miles.  Any money "saved" staying at a "cheaper" hotel will be wasted in time just getting to the parks, not to mention the value -adds for Disney Resort guests. Disney resorts offer three category hotels - Deluxe, Moderate and Budget.  When consulting with group leaders, regardless of your price point, we always recommend selecting at least one Disney resort that offers accommodations for families with 3 or more kids.  We appreciate that it's often difficult to please everybody with especially large groups.  One suggestion is to sub-divide your group into smaller groups. This works for adults and grandparents who may prefer the elegance of the Grand Floridian who are traveling in a group with young families who want to dive right into the Nemo pool at the Art of Animation resort.

Include a Dining Plan - The less your group guests have to think about additional costs the easier it will be to say YES, I want to go. Bundling transportation, accommodations, entertainment and meals into one package price really helps people when it comes to their travel budgets. Short of souvenirs and a few cocktails, they will know up front how much their vacation will cost in advance. You offer convenience and save them the worry and dread. Everyone can simply relax and share a delicious meal together.

Include the Memory Maker photo package - This one is a NO brainer. Besides now Uncle Eddie can actually be IN the pictures with everyone else. $149 spent once, everyone links into the account and has professional photographs that get everyone into the picture at the same time.

To complicate matters a bit more Disney has different departments and rules for every kind of group imaginable.  Sports teams, scout troops, school trips, performers, reunions and weddings all have different group departments and playbooks.  The good news is, you've come to the right place and we're ready to help and get your group on it's way to having lots of fun.

I Want to Get My Group To Disney


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