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Travel Tuesday

How to Plus up Your Walt Disney World Vacation for Free, Walt Disney World Vacation, Disney Trip

Heading to Disney and really want to get the most bang for your buck? I love Walt Disney World; it’s one of our favorite places to visit as a family. The thing we love most is that no two trips are ever the same. There are always new things to see and do and new adventures to be had. Unfortunately, everything “experience” you add, makes the price go up.  If only there was a way to plus up your Walt Disney World vacation for free.

Lots of families save and plan for a Walt Disney World vacation, sometimes for years so just adding experiences can change the price point quite a bit. When you consider that an average 7 day/6 night stay at a deluxe resort with park hopper tickets can cost $5000 and up, every single bit more that you add adds up. But what if you could plus up your Disney trip for free.

READ ALSO: What is Disney Creator Days and How to Get Invited

Here are some ways to plus up your Walt Disney World vacation for free.

Get celebration buttons

If you’re at Disney celebrating an event (birthday, engagement, honeymoon, anniversary, first time, etc.) simply ask the Disney cast members situated near the front of the park with a cart with all the celebrations buttons. Put that baby on and let everyone at Disney celebrate with you. When we go in September, we’ll be celebrating our 20th wedding anniversary, our 22nd dating anniversary and my birthday. I won’t say which one, let’s just say that I’m turning 30 again.

Become part of the show

There are several shows taking place all over Disney that you can volunteer to be a part of. Nothing makes you feel more magical than being an honorary Disney cast member for a day. It also makes for some great memories and photo ops.

Tell all the cast members that you’re celebrating when you book

When you book dining reservations or resort stays, let the cast members know that you are celebrating. They may just sprinkle you with a little extra pixie dust. It’s not required but you never know.

Use My Disney Experience app

If you really want to maximize your Disney vacation, you must use the My Disney Experience. It makes the whole trip so much more streamlined. All of your reservations and fast passes can be made on there. It updates all day long and you can see wait times, openings, get directions and even mobile order your food. It makes the entire experience so much more enjoyable and less chaotic.

Book fast passes 60 days in advance

There are a lot of great rides at Disney World and you’ll want to ride them all, some more than once. If you are staying on Disney grounds you can book your fast passes 60 days in advance and I encourage it so that you get all of your first choice rides and don’t have to wait for 180 minutes in line.

Make food reservations 180 days in advance

If you want to eat at some of the more popular restaurants like Be Our Guest, Sci-Fi Drive-in, Character dining, Le Cellier, Monsieur Paul and Takumi-Tei you should definitely take advantage of the 180-day reservation open date for those staying on property to make sure that you get those reservations.

Magic Hours

Another reason to stay on property, aside from the free transportation, early reservations and that amazing customer service and full immersion into all things Disney, you get magic hours. For example, while the rest of the world is waiting until 9 am to get into Galaxy’s Edge, Disney resort guests will be able to get into the park at 6 a.m. If you are not familiar with Magic Hours, they are extra hours the parks are open to resort guest either before or after normal park hours. It’s awesome and cuts wait times by quite a bit of time.

When you arrive at the resort, ask for free upgrades available

When you arrive at your resort, you can ask the cast member who checks you in if there are any upgrades available. That could mean a better view or even an upgraded room. It never hurts to ask. The worst they can do is say no and then you are exactly where you started…still at the happiest place on earth.


Do free resort activities

Yes, most resorts offer cool free activities for their guests. For example, there is a hidden Mickey hunt at the Fort Wilderness lodge. Restaurant tours are available at the Animal Kingdom every day from 4-4:15. Also, you can see animals for free at the Animal Kingdom. Just ask the front desk cast members and they will tell you what is offered. Most resorts offer movies by the pool and some even have campfires and s’ mores at night.

Ask for good tables at restaurants

Did you know that you can ask for good tables at restaurants when you arrive? Why not ask for a firework view and enjoy the firework display from the comfort of a seat rather than fighting with everyone else for concrete space. I love the Happily Ever After firework show more than I can express with words, it gets me in the feels, but waiting for 2 hours to have a good seat can feel like a misuse of my time.

Say Cheese

Did you know that you can ask the Photopass photographer to take your picture with your own camera? You can and they gladly will. Though, if we’re being honest, I love Memory Maker because then I’m in every picture and I can stop at every single photographer guilt-free.

READ ALSO: Best Walt Disney World Resorts for Families

These are just a few of the many ways to plus up your Walt Disney World Vacation for free. What’s your favorite tip to plus up your Walt Disney vacation for free?

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Best Walt Disney World Resorts for Families to stay on your next family vacation., walt disney world, disney world vacation, 10 tips for maximizing yoru walt disney vacation for free, magic kingdom, happily ever after, mickey mouse, pandora, #disneySMMC, Toy story land, epcot, astro orbitor, rose gold ears, disneyfamilia, familia first, disney family, family travel

Going to Walt Disney World on vacation is one of a kind experience. There is nothing else like it in the world. However, staying in Walt Disney World Resorts takes that vacation to an entirely new level. Aside from being fully immersed in the Disney experience, there are lots of perks and extra magic involved in staying on property. Can you say Free Disney Dining Plan? Yes, some magical promotions include free food. If you are wondering which are the best Walt Disney World Resorts for Families to stay at, I’ve got you covered.

We’ve vacationed to Walt Disney World several times and no trip has been the same. That is part of the magic of a Disney vacation. You can have a different adventure every single time. We’ve gone as newlyweds, as a couple and with our daughters. We’ve stayed in several of the Disney Resorts and we’ve stayed off grounds and, for us, staying on property is our favorite way to vacation at Disney World.

READ ALSO: Secrets To Use Disney Tickets to Experience Magic Kingdom like an Insider

I imagine for first-timers, you may ask yourself, “Why stay on property when there are so many affordable resort options so close?” You make a valid point, on paper but once you’ve spent a Disney vacation staying in Walt Disney World Resorts with your family, you will know why you’ll never want to stay off grounds ever again.

Aside from convenience, early Magic hours, early access to fast pass and dining reservation plans, free transportation to and from parks and full immersion into the Walt Disney World experience for your family, there is the incomparable Walt Disney World resorts customer service. It is unbelievable and it doesn’t matter if you’re staying in the Grand Floridian or Pop Century; the warmth, helpfulness and general disposition of the characters are always the same…top notch. The best thing about Walt Disney resorts is that they have something for every budget.

READ ALSO: Tips to Beat the Heat at Disney

Here are my recommendations for the Best Walt Disney World Resorts for Families to stay at

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Yacht Club

The Yacht Club where we stayed on our first trip to Disney World on our honeymoon. I was dazzled by the grand, turn-of-the-century Martha’s Vineyard summer home vibes that Disney’s Yacht Club Resort was giving off. It’s a deluxe-category hotel at Walt Disney World Resort and it felt romantic and whimsical for these honeymooners.

It’s conveniently located and guests can easily walk or travel by water taxi from the resorts to Epcot and Disney’s Hollywood Studios (Star Wars Land is coming sooner than you think). Convenient bus service transports guests throughout Walt Disney World Resort.

The luxury club hotel is on the shores of a 25-acre Crescent Lake. The resort’s décor will transport you back to the 1890s.

That east coast beach vibe continues throughout in Stormalong Bay, a 2 ½-acre water recreation area reminiscent of a Nantucket beach. It has a life-size shipwreck with water slides, snorkeling in a sandy lagoon and a lazy river swimming area that feels like it flows into the lake. The kids will love it and so will you. There is something about a sand-bottomed pool that induces relaxation. Also bonus, a standard room can fit up to 5 people with 2 queen beds and a twin daybed.

We love it so much; we will be staying there this fall for our anniversary trip.

Disney Beach Club Resort

Disney’s Beach Club resort is right next to Disney’s Yacht Club and they are both awesome in our book. Start your morning at Cape May Cafe for a delicious southern-style breakfast complete with Mickey. Then make your way over to Stormalong Bay. I told you it was awesome.

Tired of swimming? Take a break and grab a snack at the cabana or Beaches & Cream Soda Shop. Feel like hitting the parks? Epcot is a mere 5-minute walk away or jump on a water taxi and hit Hollywood Studios.

At night, you can watch a movie under the stars with your kids at the pool or you can take advantage of the onsite childcare and enjoy a romantic meal with your spouse at one of the resort’s 6 dining locations.

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Disney’s Beach Club Villas

Guests at Disney’s Beach Club Villas receive exclusive access to Stormalong Bay at Disney’s Yacht Club Resort. Disney’s Beach Club Villas also provides the Sandcastle Club, a supervised activity center for kids. Villas are equipped with kitchens and, in some cases, room for up to eight people. There are also nightly clambakes, volleyball and campfires at the Beach Club villas for added family fun.

Disney’s the Animal Kingdom

Want some adventure on your Disney World vacation? The Animal Kingdom Lodge is home to 4 wildlife savannas which you can watch from the lobby, visit with animal specialists, or tour as part of the Wanyama Safari and Dinner.

The Animal Kingdom Lodge also has the option to stay in a villa, which can sleep up to 9 guests, if you’re traveling with the whole family. No need for separate hotel rooms.

While you’re in this beautiful hotel, be sure to check out the 11,000-square-foot Uzimi pool with waterslides and whirlpool spas. Or get your fitness on at the onsite fitness and massage center. Did someone say massage center? Yes, please. This mom desperately needs a massage.

Disney World’s Polynesian

Aside from being beautiful and having Moana, you can get a Dole Whip on site.  The lush Polynesian Village Resort has both traditional rooms and villas to choose from. The villas have kitchenettes, private back decks with barbecues, a plunge pool and room for up to 8 people.

This is perfect for big families or splitting costs with friends. If you’re like this mom, you heard the word kitchen and thought “Dishes. No thank you,” But if you stay at the villa, Mousekeeping takes care of washing the dishes. No dishes for you! I told you the customer service was amazing.

The resort has 9 restaurants, a nightly luau, and a character breakfast where kids can meet Lilo & Stitch. Lilo’s Clubhouse offers on-site childcare so you can enjoy a peaceful meal, visit to the spa, or a day at the pool while the kids are safely taken care of.

Bonus, the Polynesian Resort is on the monorail, making it super easy to access all of the parks, especially Epcot and the Magic Kingdom.

Bay Lake Tower at Disney’s Contemporary

Bay Lake Tower has rooms with views of the fireworks, so in case you have little kiddies, you won’t miss the magic. And believe me, it is magic. It is within walking distance of the Magic Kingdom and easily accessible via monorail. Bay Lake Tower at Disney’s Contemporary Resort features an unparalleled backdrop that includes Cinderella’s Castle and Space Mountain.

Bay Lake is a Disney Vacation Club Property. The resort offers up to three-bedroom villas with kitchenettes that accommodate up to nine people. It also has a restaurant and pool with a waterslide, so you and your family can relax when not at the parks.

Disney’s Boardwalk Inn

This is my husband’s favorite resort on property. Our favorite feature of staying at the Boardwalk Inn is the actual boardwalk. Situated along Crescent Lake, the boardwalk features carnival games, restaurants, shops and surrey bike rentals. The Boardwalk also has a really fun pool with a waterslide and standard guestrooms that sleep up to five or six guests.

Disney’s Boardwalk Villas

At Disney’s Boardwalk Villas, families staying there share amenities with guests at Disney’s Boardwalk Inn. However, Disney’s Boardwalk Villas provide more amenities like full kitchens and balconies.  Villas are larger and sleep up to four or eight guests.

Disney’s Port Orleans French Quarter

Port Orleans properties are divided into two resorts, the French Quarter and Riverside. Disney’s Port Orleans is a PG13 way to experience Mardi Gras all year round. Our favorite is the French Quarter because it feels just like being in New Orleans. Disney’s Port Orleans Resort French Quarter has 1,008 accommodations, most sleep up to four or five guests.

Guests have access to bikes, boats, horse-drawn carriage rides, cane pole fishing and a pool, live jazz and beautiful architecture all make this resort located on 325 acres that feel worlds away from the theme parks. Don’t forget about the amazing Louisiana-style cuisine and beignets.

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Disney’s Wilderness Lodge

Staying at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge is like being in a beautiful, pristine national park cabin. While you might feel like you are off the grid in the serenity of your lodge, the Wilderness Lodge resort features added perks such as a beautiful pool and children’s activity center. Enjoy relaxing with your family at this rustic, luxurious rooms that sleep up to four guests, some even include bunk beds.

READ ALSO: Breaking News Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge Opening Date Revealed

Just announced Free Disney Dining Plan Day this Summer!

This summer, enjoy a little extra flavor during a fun-filled stay that’s sure to delight little ones and grown-ups alike. Receive a FREE meal per person (ages 3 and up), per night at a select Walt Disney World Resort quick-service dining location when you purchase a non-discounted, Walt Disney World Travel Co. Package that includes a room for 4-nights at a select Disney Moderate or Value Resort Hotel and a 5-day theme park ticket. Offer valid for arrivals most nights from May 28 through August 21, 2019.
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The number of rooms allocated for this offer is limited. Everyone in the same room must be on the same package. Advance reservations are required. Theme park tickets valid for admission beginning on the date of check-in and must be used within a limited number of days, depending on the length of stay and ticket. Visit disneyworld.com/usage for more details. Each quick-service meal includes one entrée and one non-alcoholic beverage (or if age 21 or over, one beer, wine or cocktail). 

These are just a few of my favorite Walt Disney Resorts for families. What is your favorite place to stay in Walt Disney World? And where is your favorite place and thing to eat on the Disney Dining Plan?

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Travel the World on a Budget, Eiffel Tower, Louvre, Paris, Notre Dame Cathedral, visiting Paris,

My new life mantra is eat the cake and travel the world! Yesterday’s burning of Notre Dame Cathedral has me reassessing my life choices. Visiting Paris and seeing Notre Dame was on my travel bucket list for as long as I can remember but I took for granted that it would always be there and now, I will never get to see the original spire or the forest of latticework that was the ceiling of the cathedral. That opportunity is gone and I can’t get it back. Today, I’ve decided not to wait anymore but to go for it. Life is not about things being perfect, it’s about getting things done. It’s better to travel the world on a budget than not at all. The thing is this life lesson applies to more than just travel.

When I was a little girl, I loved traveling. I still do. It is my favorite thing to do. My biggest dream was to travel the world and see as much of it as I could. It started with books of far off places and my imagination took it from there.

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READ ALSO: Five Ways to Have an Amazing Spring Break on a Budget

When I was in middle school, around 12-years-old, I was assigned to write a report about the place I most wanted to go. Most of the kids in my class chose the closest metropolis, some chose New York City, Los Angeles or San Francisco. I chose Paris, France.

After researching Notre Dame Cathedral, The Louvre, Sacré Cœur of Montmartre, La tour Eiffel, le Musee D’Orsay and the catacombs, I fell deep in love with the people and the culture of Paris. I decided that I need to speak the language and eventually, live there. But first, visiting Paris was a priority.

By the time I was 14-years-old, I was actively working on making the dream a reality. I learned the language. Ate the food. Became a Francophile. Dreams of putting a padlock on the bridge of love and throwing the key into the Seine, walking the city at night under the stars and writing about it all, permeated everything I did. But I never did it. Any of it.

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READ ALSO: Why RVing is the Best Family Vacation

Instead, I got married after graduation and never made it to Paris. The bridge of love has been dismantled and the Notre Dame Cathedral has burned and I’ll never get to see the forest within or the original spire. But I’m not going to wait anymore. I’m going to plan the trip, eat the croissants and drink the espresso.

My girls are getting older now and I want to share the world with them. That is a gift that, as a parent, you can’t top. The experience of seeing the world is priceless. But how do you literally give your kids the world when you live on a budget? It’s possible with some careful planning, smart shopping and frugality.  Think about it this way, is it better to see Paris now, maybe not the way you imagined it, or to wait until everything is just right and never get to see it?

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I did some research and where there is a will, there is always a way. 

How to Travel the World on a Budget

Travel at Night

By traveling at night, via train or airplane, you save yourself the cost of a night stay and red-eye flights are often more economical. This is a great way to save money.

Explore the Great Outdoors

We all know that staying in a huge metropolis is more expensive than staying in more remote areas. Take the chance to explore the amazing national parks of the USA. For $80, a National Park Pass allows you entry to every park in the country for a year, creating the perfect route across America for a road trip. Discover the world in a deeper, more natural and meaningful way. Enjoy the desert parks, the cool redwoods, beaches, mountains and forests for a fraction of the cost of visiting the cities.

Buy Foods at the Supermarket

No matter where we travel, we always hit the grocery store for water, snacks, fresh fruit and yogurts. You can save a lot of money by not eating out for every meal and then enjoy one nice meal out a day.

Plan ahead and have a budget

Shop for flights on Sunday and Tuesday nights, at least 3 months in advance or watch for specials. Often, there are flight specials to Europe for fractions of the cost, if you are flexible in your travel dates.

Use Points for Flights and Hotel Stays

Make sure that you have points cards for every hotel and airline that you use. I use my favorite airline and hotel chain regularly and accumulate points to use for future trips. Also, acquiring credit cards with your favorite airlines, hotel chains and Chase Sapphire offer lots of points when signing up, sometimes for several flights and stays.

Use Student and Other Discount Cards

Are you a student, teacher, or under 26-years-old? Welcome to the world of 50%-off attractions and a whole lot of discounts. Get a student/teacher/youth card and save half on your travel. Always ask if there are discounts available for students or youth because you never know.

Pick Budget Friendly Destinations

Visiting budget-friendly destinations like Asia and South America where your money goes further. Exploring India or making your way across South America can be surprisingly cheap. With a little research, you can find out where the best places to visit are. Save your money for the more expensive countries. Balancing them with cheaper destinations means you can spend a little more, without burning through your entire budget.

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Get City Tourist Cards

If you plan on seeing a lot of sights in a city, you should get a city tourism card. It’s a great deal and will save you lots of money.

Most importantly, eat the cake and travel the world. Stop waiting for the time to be right. Just go.

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What is your ultimate travel bucket list destination? Whether you’re visiting Paris or the Taj Majal, what is your number one tip for how to travel the world on a budget?

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Things to do in Banff with Teenagers, traveling with teens, travel Tuesday, Banff, Alberta, visit Canada, Visit Alberta, Things to do in Banff with Teenagers and tweens, family travel

If you want to take your children or teens someplace that will leave them speechless, visit Banff, Alberta. If you’re a parent, you already know how rare that can be. Children and teenagers are always in a hurry to get to the next place, the next thing and are easily bored and not afraid to tell you. If you prefer not to be serenaded by choruses of, “Are we there yet?” and “I’m bored” then Banff is for you.

I’m a talker who is easily bored and when I found myself standing at the mouth of Lake Louise, I had no words. I’m a city girl.  Grew up in Chicago. Love the city. I feed off of the hustle and bustle of people in a hurry. Kinetic energy gives me life. Standing in the stillness surrounded by all of that natural beauty, embracing the quiet is an inexplicable kind of breathtaking.

READ ALSO: Things to Do In Portland Maine with Kids and Teens

In my opinion, Banff is one of the most stunningly beautiful places on earth. The moment that I set eyes on Moraine Lake, I knew that I needed to share this place with my girls and the Big Guy. It’s a gift I want to give them.

There are certain things in life that have to be seen with your own eyes, felt with your heart and experienced to be believed. Banff is one of those places. You have to stand there and soak it in to believe this kind of beauty exists. I don’t want to oversell it, but then again I don’t think that is possible.

READ ALSO: Best Things to Do in Boston with Your Tweens and Teenagers

Nestled in the Rocky Mountains in the province of Alberta, Canada, Banff has mountains, rivers, valleys and glaciers. If your family loves exploring new places and going on adventures while being 100 %present, this is the perfect family vacation for the teenager or child who can’t sit still.

Things to do in Banff with Teenagers

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Moraine Lake

This might be my favorite spot in all of Banff. I may or may not have requested upon returning that my ashes be scattered there one day. Who wouldn’t want to be a part of all of that beautiful? Moraine Lake’s blue waters are surrounded by towering mountains, including 11,500-foot Mount Temple, the third highest peak in the Canadian Rockies. Located a 15-minute drive from the quieter more serene Lake Louise, popular Moraine Lake, can be crowded in summer. My suggestion, arrive early to enjoy canoeing and hiking before the crowds arrive.

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Lake Louise

Lake Louise, located within Banff National Park, is absolutely stunning. The emerald green lake is spectacular and the region has a range of hikes from easy lakeside strolls to more difficult ascents. The town of Banff is located 35 miles from the lake, so you will not be immersed in the crowds. The Lake Louise region has a sightseeing gondola and horseback riding.

Lake Minnewanka

Lake Minnewanka, the largest lake in Banff National Park, provides classic Canadian Rockies scenery. As the park’s only lake to allow motorized boating, Minnewanka is popular and crowded. Make reservations and arrive early to take a 1, 2, or 3-hour cruise around the lake. Lake Minnewanka is located a 20-minute drive from the town of Banff.

Banff Hot Springs

After a day of adventure seeking with your teens, what’s more relaxing than winding down in the Hot Springs? A natural hot spring provides an invigorating mixture of minerals to soothe your family’s sore muscles after a day of hiking, skiing or mountain biking. The Hot Springs are open seven days a week and well into the evening.

Banff Hiking

With more than 1,000 miles of trail, Banff National Parks offers path options for every level hiker. For an easy hike, try the Tunnel Mountain trail. Accessible from the town of Banff, the 1.4-mile trail leads to the mountain’s summit, with great views of the Bow Valley. Both Emerald Lake and Lake Louise offer additional easy family hikes with little elevation gain but with gorgeous scenery. In July and August wildflowers lace the Garden Path Trail, at Sunshine Village ski area.

Several outfitters offer guided hikes within the park, including the Mountain Heritage Guide Program at the Chateau Lake Louise.

Ice Climbing Banff’s Frozen Waterfalls

If your teen really wants to explore Banff like an adventurer, using an ice ax to climb a frozen waterfall is about the most exciting way to do that. Get yourself a guide for this excursion this winter and impress your teens with your adventurous spirit. You’d be hard pressed to find a cooler way to explore Banff’s creeks and canyon.

Climb Banff’s Majestic Walls

Banff has more than just fresh powder and raging rivers to offer. Being in the heart of the Canadian Rockies, Banff has numerous cliffs and crags to rock climb. Hire a guide to bring you along on a multi-pitch trek in Bow Valley or the Ghost River area. Whether you are looking for traditional top roping or pushing your limits with sport climbing, your teens will be safe as you explore. Banff boasts some of the best limestone formations that give you the most accessible and remote areas of Alberta to enjoy.

Ski the “Big Three”

Skiing is a year-round possibility in Banff. I was there in August and it snowed. The big three resorts to go to are Sunshine Village, Mount Norquay, and the Lake Louise Ski Resort. These three mountains, give you access to 8,000+ acres, 26 chair lifts, and 30+ feet of annual snow fall. There is something for everyone, whether your teens are first timer skiers/ snowboarders or black diamond ready or simply want to take in the majestic mountains, Banff is an excellent choice.

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Banff Trail Rides

Biking Banff will give you the ultimate Canadian choose-your-own adventure with all the scenic views and the opportunity to stop at will and take it all in. The best time for cycling through Banff is May through October for milder temperatures.

Banff Horseback Riding

Trail rides are a fun way to take in the scenery for those who prefer horses to hikes. Horses carry riders 2,000 feet up the mountain to the 7,000-foot-high tea house. After a break, you mount up and head back down. More experienced riders can sign on for longer expeditions that takes you through the forest, up mountain trails, to the banks of a waterfall and then high above the tree line for a panoramic view.

Banff Gondola

An eight-minute, enclosed gondola ride to the top of Sulphur Mountain gifts you with panoramic views. At the summit, stroll the Banff Skywalk or try the more difficult South East Ridge Trail hike depending on your family’s skill level.

Snowshoe through the Rocky Mountains

If you want to take your teens on the ultimate backcountry adventure, snowshoeing might be for you. Depending on how outdoorsy you and your teens are and your skill levels, you can choose a half-day to multiple day excursions. These adventures could include climbing the Continental divide, snowshoeing across frozen lakes or seeing Banff from a mountain peak. Possibilities for thrills is endless.

Rafting the Chinook River

Rafting is something that I’ve always wanted to do and that I think my teens would really enjoy. Banff offers several different rafting routes to choose from. Two of the most thrilling river rides are Horseshoe Canyon and Kicking Horse River. These rides will leave you exhilarated and soaked after a day on the rapids. On Horseshoe Canyon, you even have the option of cliff jumping if the rapids are not too fierce. Some excursions offer a BBQ lunch and professional photos of your family in the rapids!

Canoe or Kayak the Bow River

The Bow River is almost magical, born from snowmelt from the peaks of the Canadian Rockies. It winds through Banff flowing south. You can rent a boat and go exploring alone or hire a local guide.

Columbia Icefields

On this adventure, you and your teens will board giant buses with tires the size of adults that can handle moving through the ice on the Athabasca Glacier. You are left atop a glacier where you can stand on ice created by snow that fell 400 years ago. Holy wow! Your children of all ages will love this. Imagine a snowball fight made of centuries-old snowflakes. The Columbia Icefields cover nearly 200 square miles, the Athabasca Glacier is one of the most easily accessible. Tours take place mid-April to mid-October. Reservations are recommended.

Icefields Parkway

This is where you can really get some quiet time, save for some gasps of OMG! Stretching for about 143 miles between Lake Louise and the town of Jasper, the Icefields Parkway (Highway 93) delivers breathtaking scenery. You’ll pass forests, river valleys, mountains with peaks reaching 10,000 feet and Peyto Lake, the bluest in the Canadian Rockies. This bluer than blue color is a result of fine particles of ground rock scattering the sun’s rays. Bighorn sheep, elk, mountain goats and ravens can often be seen along this drive.

Sunshine Meadows Gondola

Kids, teenagers and adults will love this scenic summer gondola ride up the Rocky Mountains in Canada’s oldest national park, Banff. Begin your adventure by hopping inside an eight-person gondola at the base of Sunshine Village and enjoy a 20-minute scenic mountain ride. At the top, you will arrive at Sunshine Village.

A short walk from the gondola, visitors can hop on a four-person chairlift to reach the top of the mountain. This brings you to the magnificent viewpoint at the top of the mountain. There is a short, gravel walking trail to reach an elevated viewpoint. As you walk along the trail, you will enter the Canadian Provence of British Columbia and then cross back over into Alberta. The kids will think that’s cool.

Take your time and enjoy the breathtaking mountain and lake views from the summit and take tons of photos. Though I literally took thousands and it still wasn’t enough. Photos cannot accurately capture the magic that is Banff. These views have to be seen to be believed. Several hiking trails begin at the top of the mountain and head back to the village or you can take the chairlift and gondola back down the mountain. It’s up to you.

These are just a few of the things that you can do with tweens and teenagers in Banff. The possibilities are endless. The adventure begins with you and the feeling of experiencing it all together as a family will last a lifetime.

What’s your favorite place to travel as a family and why?

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Best Things to Do in Boston with Teens and Tweens, things to do in Boston, Boston Commons, Georgetown Cupcakes, Signature swings

Boston is one of our favorite cities to travel to as a family. We fell in love with it on our first trip when the girls were just preschoolers and we’ve found new things to do and places to check out on every subsequent visit. It’s one of those places that you can go back to 100 times and still find new and exciting adventures to be had. Virginia might be for lovers but Boston is for families and the proof is in my things to do in Boston with teens list that I’ve compiled.

We’ve done the typical things like go whale watching, visit the children’s museum and walk the Freedom Trail. We’ve visited Harvard and explored every inch of the commons. As the girls grow older, from toddlers to teens, what they want t do and what interests them changes. Lucky for us, Boston is a city with endless options.

READ ALSO: Things to Do in Boston When Traveling with Children

One of my favorite things about Boston, and I’ve said this many times, part of what makes it such an amazing family destination is that the people of Boston are so kind and welcoming to their city. Every time we’ve been, it never fails, if I need to stop and ask someone for directions or for a recommendation of places to eat or things to do, without fail they stop and answer my questions. This plays a big part in why I feel safe in Boston and return every year.

If you’re looking for a city to visit that offers something for all ages where you and your family can explore, Boston may be for you.

Best Things to Do in Boston with Teens and Tweens

Shopping

Primark

Shopping on Newbury Street

Newbury street is more than just a shopping center, it’s a cultural epicenter with all varieties of food and .

Anthropologie

Intermix

Eating

Pret a Manger

We only discovered this gem last year when I was sick and we needed something quick. Pret a Manger is literally, ready to eat. My girls are obsessed with grilled ham and cheese.

Cheers Boston

This is one of our favorite places to go with the girls. They love getting Shirley temples and Boston Creme pie and the Big Guy and I love the casual atmosphere and pub food.

Best Things to Do in Boston with Teens and Tweens, things to do in Boston, Boston Commons, Georgetown Cupcakes, Signature swings

Georgetown Cupcake

Most delicious cupcakes ever with a fantastic flavor variety.

Eating in Chinatown

Any place you try, it will be good.

The Q

Come for the hot pots and stay for the sushi.

The Gourmet China House

The Gourmet China House is a quaint, unassuming restaurant that serves up some of the tastiest Chinese food I’ve ever eaten.

Stoddards

Gastropub serving vintage cocktails & craft beer in a historical building & former corset shop

New York Pizza

It’s a little bit of New York in Boston. If NYC style is your favorite pizza, you’ll love it.

Legal Sea Foods

Places to Stay 

Westin Boston Waterfront

The Westin has the most comfortable beds and attentive staff. If you are in town for a conference, the Westin is attached to the conference center. It’s also within walking distance to downtown.

Hyatt Regency Boston

The Hyatt is a modern, clean hotel located in the theater district within walking distance to the Commons, Chinatown and Newbury Street. Also, the customer service at the Hyatt is wonderful.

Boston Park Plaza

Entertainment

Best Things to Do in Boston with Teens and Tweens, things to do in Boston, Boston Commons, Georgetown Cupcakes, Signature swings

The Swing Park at the Signature

This is such a fun thing to do for people of every age. We spent hours there from sunset until it was dark out swinging on those glowing swings.

Faneuil Hall

Exploring Boylston neighborhoods around the Public Garden Park

Catch a show at the Paramount Center

The Swan Boats at the Commons

Visit Harvard University and Cambridge

If you’ve never been, you have to go. It’s a beautiful campus with so much to see. Plus, it’s never too early to introduce your kids to the possibility of Harvard.

READ ALSO: Ogunquit Maine the Perfect Beach Getaway

These are just a few of the many places to go and best things to do in Boston with teens and tweens but there are several more. We’re going back this June and I’ll have even more things to do and places to go then.

What’s your favorite city to visit with your family?

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What's New at Walt Disney World in 2019, walt disney world, disney world vacation, 10 tips for maximizing yoru walt disney vacation for free, magic kingdom, happily ever after, mickey mouse, pandora, #disneySMMC, Toy story land, epcot, astro orbitor, rose gold ears, disneyfamilia, familia first, disney family, family travel

Are you a Walt Disney World fan? Is your idea of the perfect family vacation packing up the kids and heading to Orlando, Florida to spend all the time with Mickey and his friends? Does the thought of spending a week at the parks with your family make you get all giddy and go into full-on my Disney Experience mode? Do you get excited to find out what’s new at Walt Dinsey World?

I wasn’t always a Walt Disney World fan. I wasn’t not a fan either. I just never had the opportunity to visit the happiest place on earth. Growing up with 6 brothers and sisters, a stay-at-home mom and a dad who was a blur collar factory worker, we didn’t get many vacations and the ones we did were reserved for traveling to see family. I just assumed Walt Disney World was not in the cards for me and you can’t miss what you’ve never had so I was alright with it.  Then I met my husband.

Our love story was a whirlwind one and after 4 months of dating, the Big Guy resolutely declared to the world (and his mother) that I was his soul mate and he asked me to marry him. I was shocked, or as the kids say, I was shook! Was I ever.

READ ALSO: 25 Top Secret Tips to Rock Your Disney World Family Vacation

I took a chance and said yes because I couldn’t imagine my life without him in it. Yes, after only 4 short months, even I knew that much. He wanted to give me my dream wedding and he only asked for 2 things, 1) we walk into the reception with the Star Wars music playing in the background 2) we honeymoon at Disney.

I wasn’t super pumped about Walt Disney World as a honeymoon destination. I was thinking more along the lines of the French Riviera, Santorini, Rome or Paris. I either wanted a beach or a romantic city full of little nooks and crannies for us to get lost in. That was my dream. But, he only asked for those 2 things and he assured me that Walt Disney World could be romantic. In fact, he promised me that it would be.  And it was.

It was my first trip to Walt Disney World ever and it was magical. We may not have gone to Europe but at least with Epcot, I got to eat like we did. And maybe we didn’t get to lay on an exotic beach but the sand bottom pools at the Yacht Club resort where we stayed concierge was actually amazing. It’s crazy but even though there were thousands of people around, when he held my hand and we walked through those gates, I felt like there was no one else there except the two of us. It was as romantic a place as any I’d ever been to or have been to since, well, with the exception of New Orleans.  That was pretty romantic.

READ ALSO: Free Tips for Maximizing Your Walt Disney World Vacation

All this to say, we love Walt Disney World. It is our home away from home and boy, am I homesick. We have gone almost every year since we’ve gotten married. I’m in the beginning stages of planning this year’s trip. It will be our 20th wedding anniversary this year and we want to go back to where it all began so every time I see one of those #NowMoreThanEver commercials, I get a little choked up and really excited about what’s to come this year at the most magical place on earth, Walt Disney World.

I did a little digging and talked to my friends at Walt Disney World and got the scoop. Now, more than ever is a great time to plan a vacation to Walt Disney World Resort, with new parties, shows, character experiences and more debuting Jan. 18, 2019, at all four theme parks. Excitement is building as a new countdown clock at Disneyworld.com/nowmorethanever is ticking down to the launch of all of these new experiences!

Here is what’s new at Walt Disney World this January

New Parties, Shows, Characters and More Debuting in January 2019 at Walt Disney World Resort

Mickey & Minnie’s Surprise Celebration Arrives at Magic Kingdom Park

What's New at Walt Disney World in 2019, walt disney world, disney world vacation, 10 tips for maximizing yoru walt disney vacation for free, magic kingdom, happily ever after, mickey mouse, pandora, #disneySMMC, Toy story land, epcot, astro orbitor, rose gold ears, disneyfamilia, familia first, disney family, family travel

Mickey & Minnie’s Surprise Celebration will honor those true originals, Mickey and Minnie Mouse, with new entertainment, merchandise and specialty food and beverages at the Magic Kingdom.

JUST ANNOUNCED New at Walt Disney World!

Mickey and Minnie will greet guests together inside Town Square Theater, wearing all-new, colorful outfits for their special celebration.

JUST ANNOUNCED New at Walt Disney World!

Guests will enjoy Celebration Station inside Town Square Theater, where they may sign a guestbook to let Mickey and Minnie know, personally, how much fun they had during the party.

READ ALSO: Everything You Need to Know about the Disney Dream Cruise

JUST ANNOUNCED New at Walt Disney World!

An all-new song, “It’s a Good Time,” will play several times daily as part of the new “Move It! Shake It! MousekeDance It! Street Party.” During this high-energy bash, singing hosts will invite guests to join in the fun with Disney pals including Donald Duck, Daisy Duck, Goofy, and many others.

JUST ANNOUNCED New at Walt Disney World!

Mickey’s beloved dog, Pluto, will meet guests under the big top at Pete’s Silly Sideshow in Storybook Circus. Party with Pixar Pals and More as Disney’s Hollywood Studios Marks 30 Years.

Wonderful World of Animation – a new nighttime spectacular coming to Disney’s Hollywood Studios in May 2019 – will use state-of-the-art technology to take guests on a magical journey through more than 90 years of Disney animation. (Disney)

JUST ANNOUNCED New at Walt Disney World!

May 1, 2019, marks the 30th anniversary of Disney’s Hollywood Studios. The park will celebrate this milestone all year long, starting Jan. 18 with the reveal of a new 30th-anniversary logo. Pixar Avenue will be the place for guests to show off their inner Supers with The Incredibles. Guests will celebrate the heroic deeds of Mr. Incredible, Mrs. Incredible, and Frozone, who will make appearances throughout the day during a party featuring lively music, dancing, interactive games and more Super fun. Guests will meet super-suit designer Edna Mode and see some of her greatest creations. They may also spot signs for the whereabouts of the youngest Incredible – the mischievous and multi-powered Jack-Jack.

A door to the monster world will open inside Walt Disney Presents, inviting guests to visit with Mike and Sulley from Disney•Pixar’s “Monsters, Inc.”

(Steven Diaz, photographer)

Guests will feel like honorary toys in the new Toy Story Land. Based on the beloved Pixar Toy Story films, the playful land features two new attractions – Slinky Dog Dash and Alien Swirling Saucers – as well as fan-favorite Toy Story Mania!

In addition, the new high-energy live show “Disney Junior Dance Party!” will feature characters from Disney Junior television series, including Vampirina, Doc McStuffins and many more.

READ ALSO: Secrets to Use Disney World Tickets to Experience Magic Kingdom like an Insider

What's New at Walt Disney World in 2019, walt disney world, disney world vacation, 10 tips for maximizing yoru walt disney vacation for free, magic kingdom, happily ever after, mickey mouse, pandora, #disneySMMC, Toy story land, epcot, astro orbitor, rose gold ears, disneyfamilia, familia first, disney family, family travel

More Broadway Music Than Ever at Epcot International Festival of the Arts

The Epcot International Festival of the Arts comes to life Jan. 18-Feb. 25, 2019, where guests will indulge in world-class culinary, visual and performance arts.

The Disney on Broadway Concert Series expands to seven days a week during the festival, providing more opportunities than ever before to hear pairs of Disney on Broadway stars sing favorite tunes from award-winning productions. The lineup will rotate regularly, featuring music from “The Lion King,” “Frozen,” “Beauty and the Beast” and other hit shows.

The festival will include 13 Food Studios, plus additional creative food and beverages around Epcot, featuring an expanded selection of delicious new tastes to savor.

Art collectors and Disney enthusiasts alike will find artwork for sale throughout the park, from the Art of Disney store to Festival Markets. In addition, special festival merchandise will be available at Mouse Gear and other Epcot locations.

The 2019 festival provides fun every day for the whole family, including performance artists, complimentary seminars, hands-on activities and Figment’s Brush with the Masters Scavenger Hunt.

READ ALSO: Best Tips to Beat the Heat at Walt Disney World

What's New at Walt Disney World in 2019, walt disney world, disney world vacation, 10 tips for maximizing yoru walt disney vacation for free, magic kingdom, happily ever after, mickey mouse, pandora, #disneySMMC, Toy story land, epcot, astro orbitor, rose gold ears, disneyfamilia, familia first, disney family, family travel

While experiencing all the Epcot International Festival of the Arts has to offer, guests will want to spend another evening around World Showcase Lagoon taking in “IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth,” which will be ending in the second half of 2019 to make way for an all-new nighttime spectacular.

Feel the Love During ‘Hakuna Matata Time Dance Party’ at Disney’s Animal Kingdom

Guests will take a walk on the wild side at Disney’s Animal Kingdom during the “Hakuna Matata Time Dance Party,” featuring Timon and Rafiki from Disney’s “The Lion King.”

Each day on Discovery Island, the dance party will encourage young adventurers to let their inner animals roam free on the dance floor as a street band plays a fiery soundtrack in a World Beat style.

All this excitement will be here in two shakes of a mouse’s tail! To make sure no one misses a moment, you will find a new countdown clock online at Disneyworld.com/nowmorethanever. It’s rolling down to when the fun begins on the morning of Jan. 18, 2019!

More Walt Disney World Magic Tips

What to Pack for Disney

Disney Vacation  Tips for the Budget Conscious

So Your Planning a Trip with Friends, 5 Tips from a Disney Mom

Desserts Around the World at Epcot

Disney World Tips and Tricks – Over 50 Disney World Secrets 2019

Walt Disney World’s  Toy Story Land with Woody and Friends is Now Open for Play

What are you most excited for that is New at Walt Disney World in 2019?

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