The Perfect Time To Take A Vacation

One of the most popular questions I get from people is when is the best time to take my kids to Disney World.  I am the wife a man who works hard.  He struggles to escape from work unless he is actually AWAY from work.  With the popularity of mobile devices, it becomes even more of a struggle.  I am also the mom of two teenage daughters.  One of those is a college sophomore.  While I am so proud to see her spread her wings, I am saddened by the idea that our time together is quickly fading.  It won’t be long before she has her own family and life separate from us.  My younger daughter is sixteen.  She just started driving.  We see her less and less.  Before long, she’s going to be off at college pursuing her dreams.

I started going to Disney World as an adult (it was almost our honeymoon, and we decided to change and go to the Ozarks instead.  What was I thinking????).  I didn’t grow up going to Disney World.  But my children did.  We took the girls as preschoolers and they’ve been going ever since.

When we took Madison, my older daughter, as a four-year-old, I never dreamed of the time when she would be in college.  She was going to be four forever, and I ranked up there with Cinderella with coolest people in the world.   And when we took Emilie as a two-year-old and she was running after characters and rides, the idea of her running after her dreams as a young adult wasn’t even a thought in my mind. 

Those first couple trips for each of them were for me.  Those memories are sweet memories I have tucked away in my mind and the only way the girls really remember them are looking through the scrapbooks we have.  As they’ve grown, the pile of scrapbooks have as well.  We have taken many trips over the years.  Trips to celebrate birthdays.  Trips that we swore we would never return until the girls could get along with each other for longer than five minutes – only to return the next year and say the exact same thing.  Trips where each of the girls thought that Mickey Mouse was for babies.  Then the trips of wondering if it would be our last as a family before Madison graduated, and we wouldn’t be able to travel together anymore.

Ironically, that “last trip as a family” has happened three times now.  We have pulled kids from school, missed games, and missed events.  Our most recent trip was in February for Emilie’s 16th birthday.  Madison missed a week of college.  Emilie missed a week of high school.  They both have recovered.  And we made some amazing memories.  Amazing.  I will treasure those memories forever.

One of my favorite requests I get is when Grandma and Grandpa want to take their kids and grand kids to Disney World.  Last year I was able to plan that trip for my parents and their grand kids.  It was a spur of the moment trip that had to be rescheduled once due to my dad’s health.  It was a tough trip to plan with school, commitments, and trying to avoid crazy crowds.  It almost didn’t happen.  We thought about waiting for a “better time”.  But, we made it work, and I even got to tag-along and plan tour guide.  My dad passed away last month.   In the weeks that followed, I was blessed by Facebook Memories of a couple of trips that just happened in previous years that included my dad.  We didn’t appreciate at the time we took those trips just how precious the memories would be.

So when is the best time to plan a family vacation?  Now.  There really is going to be no perfect time.  I’m not sure I’ve ever taken a perfect vacation.  There’s bound to be tired kids, crabby family members, rainy weather, missed school, and missed soccer games.  In the end, the only thing you remember are the precious memories that you create with your family.  Take advantage of the opportunity to create those special times in your life.

By the way – neither of my girls think Mickey Mouse is for babies anymore.  😊


Nicole Riley is the owner of Visit the Magic Travel, an authorized Disney Vacation Planner.  To have Nicole help you plan your family’s vacation, contact her at or call (319) 373-8541.

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Magic Kingdom After Hours: Worth the Wait

The Magic Kingdom After Hours party was one of the highlights of our most recent trip to Walt Disney World. The After Hours party is a three-hour event that takes place once the park closes at night either from 8pm-11pm or 9pm-12am. The event runs through March 9th, 2017 and costs $119 per person, however, Annual Passholders and DVC members are eligible for discounts.

If your party decides to attend the After Hours event, you will have to wait all day for the event to begin, but once it does, the waiting is over.

Nearly every single attraction we went on displayed a 5 minute wait time. Including attractions that normally have at least an hour wait- even during less busy times. We were able to walk on to Splash Mountain, Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, and Space Mountain with ease.

Getting around the park was a breeze, too. While saying “there was no one there” seems like an exaggeration, it often felt like we had the whole park to ourselves. We were able to move around and have fun, without worrying about crowds of people surrounding us.


Going on any attraction we wanted was definitely a major advantage of the After Hours party, but not having to wait in line wasn’t the only benefit of the event. All guests attending the party get complimentary popcorn, ice cream (yes Mickey bars are included) and bottled drinks. While you may not have a lot of time to eat while going from attraction to attraction, it is rewarding to be able to finally eat the popcorn that smells so good everywhere you go without having to worry about dropping a few pieces on the ground.

The only downside of the After Hours party is that it is only three hours. We were able to go on a lot of rides, but we had also been to MK the day before, meaning we didn’t feel the need to repeat longer attractions such as Haunted Mansion and It’s a Small World. Additionally, there isn’t a lot of time to stop and really appreciate the park. In the short span of three hours, we were able to go on around 15 rides. However, we couldn’t have done so much if we didn’t already know what to do, what was worth going on, and the best way to get there.

The After Hours Party was a lot of fun and was definitely worth it, but it isn’t a substitute for a full day at Magic Kingdom. You can do a lot, but you can’t do it all.

Even if rides aren’t your favorite thing to do, it is nice to just enjoy the park without the usual hustle and bustle of crowds. While my family went on Big Thunder Mountain Railroad a few more times, I went to Mainstreet U.S.A. to enjoy a view that wasn’t blocked by hundreds of heads and the music that wasn’t accompanied by the screaming of tired children. It was really nice to just take a bit of time to appreciate the vision Disney had for the park and all of the magic I’ve been able to experience because of it.

So whether you’re looking to go on as many rides as possible, you want to stroll down Main Street and enjoy the view, or you just want to eat as many Mickey bars as you can, the Magic Kingdom After Hours party is worth the wait.

For more information about the Magic Kingdom After Hours event or to book your vacation contact

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Free Dining Promotion Released for Disney World

Disney World has released a promotion today including free dining for select dates and resorts during the months of September through December.

Offer is value for most nights August 28 – Oct 2, Oct 25-31, Nov 8-19, and Dec 15-21.  This must be booked between the dates of April 27-July 10, 2015.

When you stay at a moderate or deluxe resort, you receive the Disney Plus Dining plan that includes a table service, counter service, and snack (one per person, per night of the stay).  When staying at a value resort Quick Serve Dining is included which includes two quick serve meals and one snack (per person, per night of the stay).  Guests staying at a value resort can upgrade to the Plus Dining plan for a fee.

The number of rooms allocated for this offer is limited.  Packages must include tickets that have either a Park Hopper or Water Park Fun & More Option.  Offer excludes the following resorts: Villas at Grand Floridian, Disney’s Polynesian Villas and Bungalows, Bay Lake Tower, Disney’s Art of Animation Little Mermaid standard rooms, campsites, 3 bedroom villas, Disney’s All Star Movies, Port Orleans Riverside (for certain dates), and Port Orleans French Quarter.

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Disney Cruise Line New Placeholder Onboard Booking Policy

Disney Cruise Line has released a new policy effective immediately for onboard booking policies.  Disney Cruise Line offers a promotion to anyone who books a new cruise while they are onboard.  By booking while onboard, guests will receive 10% off their next cruise, have a reduced deposit, and receive a shipboard credit for the future cruise.  The cruise must be taken within 24 months of the booking date.

So what’s new?  Starting today, it is not necessary to pick a future sailing date.  Guests can simply book a placeholder by paying a $200 deposit.  Guests will be given a confirmation number that they will simply have their travel agent reference when calling in the actual date.

There are two options for booking onboard – with Disney Cruise Line direct or with the travel agent that originally helped the guest with their booking.  If guests wish to use a travel agent or switch to a different travel agent, they must book with Disney Cruise Line onboard and transfer the booking to their travel agent when they return home.  A form has been provided to make booking an easier onboard process.

Onboard Booking

Visit the Magic Travel Promotion!

Book A Disney Vacation and Receive a $


I’m excited to announce the launch of Visit the Magic Travel. To celebrate, I am offering a $25 gift card to anyone who books a Disney vacation between today and March 31, 2015. As a bonus, if you refer someone who books a Disney vacation with Visit the Magic you will receive a $25 gift card on your next vacation. (see details below).

Did you know that when you book a Disney vacation through Visit the Magic that it will cost you the same as if you booked it direct with Disney? There are no fees or upcharges involved when booking a vacation with Visit the Magic. What you will get is great service and the knowledge of someone who has been traveling to Disney World for over fifteen years.

To request a quote, following this link


Meet the Owner – My name is Nicole Riley. I have been planning Disney vacations for about three years as my job. Before that, it was a hobby of mine to help plan trips for other people. My first trip was with my husband in 1999. I knew nothing about Disney World and thoroughly enjoyed researching and planning for the trip. Since then, I have been on over 35 Disney vacations with family, friends, and extended family. I have been married for 20 years and have two daughters – 17 and 14. I look forward to helping you plan your perfect vacation. Email me at if I can answer any questions for you.

*Promotion valid on bookings made 3/1- 3/31, 2015. Offer valid on 2015 vacations only. In order to qualify for the promotion, a minimum $1500 package consisting of room and a minimum of 3 day park tickets must be booked. Gift cards will be mailed at time of travel. For referral gift cards, the referrer will receive their gift cards on their next book AFTER the referral has traveled. Valid on new bookings only. Offer valid on Disney World, Disneyland, Disney Cruise Line, Aulani, or Adventures By Disney. Be sure to mention this promotion when booking.

Disney World Releases New Summer Promotion

Walt Disney World released a new summer promotion. Enjoy up to a 30% savings on resort room most dates from June 16 to August 27, 2015. Vacation must be booked between the dates of March 23 to June 12, 2015.

Excluded from this offer are the following resorts and rooms – 3 bedroom villas, campsites, All-Star Movies, Port Orleans French Quarter, the Villas at Disney’s Grand Floridian, Disney’s Polynesian Villas and Bungalows, Bay Lake Tower at Disney’s Contemporary Resort, and Disney’s Art of Animation Resort – the Little Mermaid Standard View Rooms.  Rooms allotted for this promotion are limited.  Follow the request a quote form to receive pricing and availability.