When I mentioned on Facebook that I was planning a Disney vacation for my nine month old daughter, my former stepmother, not the evil kind, mind you, recommended that I talk with Melissa Elcher, a travel agent, at MickeysDreamVacations.com to plan my vacation.
Melissa is an agent with MickeysDreamVacations.com that plans, at no cost to the customer, dream vacations for individuals and families that want a complete Disney resort vacation, but don’t want to pay full retail. Not only is Melissa an agent, she is a concierge helping to find customized Disney solutions and activities for all tastes, ages, and all needs.
Upon my initial phone consultation with Melissa, she asked me about my goals for the trip, my infant daughter’s needs, our dining tastes, and material needs in relation to our budget. Right off the bat, her extensive first hand Disney World experience shined as she made suggestions and came up with solutions to our every desire and need. It was if I had a talking Disney handbook at my disposal. I never met Melissa face to face, as I was working remotely from France and Florida while she is in Ohio, but this never kept Melissa from doing her best to arrange every detail of our trip.
I wish I could say my planning process was easy, but it was not at all. I personally encountered several problems in my own planning process, changing the dates a few times, making planning our trip the ultimate test in Melissa’s patience, planning skills and creativity. During the worst of the process, Melissa was the lighthouse in the tumultuous situation that I faced. She was calm, friendly, solution-oriented when I had to make a huge last minute change in dates with just a week notice. I always felt comfortable with her planning prowess while I waited for her to crunch numbers, research her database, and create an itinerary as my vacation plans changed with short notice. She was always respectful of our budget without skimping on our goals. She even found the best ways to save money and tried to find days for free dining, even if we couldn’t profit from it as our dates did not coincide with the offering.
When my best friend, Josh, my daughter, the Bean, and I arrived at our resort hotel, the Disney Beach Resort, we were warmly welcomed by every single Disney employee we encountered with a happy, “Welcome home!” from the lobby greeters. The valet brought our bags up to our room, a standard room with two comfortable queen sized beds, a daybed, an espresso machine, large flat screen t.v. a full bathroom with two sinks, each for Josh and I. While we didn’t have a splendid view from our room, it didn’t really matter to us, because the entire hotel and resort were impeccably decorated with fresh flowers and a clean attention to detail everywhere we looked. While Melissa never knew this important and personal detail, the Beach Resort characterized my friendship with Josh, because we met in a high school marine biology class sponsored club that I founded and Josh eventually took over when I graduated. I found that Melissa must have unconsciously picked up my personality and planned our resort stay on her gut feeling of my personality. Needless to say, I was very impressed with Melissa’s choice for our stay.
Melissa arranged to have a crib delivered to our room. Our deluxe dining package included a souvenir mug which allotted unlimited drinks at the resort and without her knowledge, the hotel had a Chase ATM, which was convenient for me. While we didn’t make use of the fantastic beach-like resort pool complete with a pirate ship, slides, and sand bottomed pools, we enjoyed the view as we walked around the resort with our local Orlando friends as they visited us in the evenings.
Our stay at the Disney resort also provided electronic bracelets that made shopping, dining, and getting around the property a breeze. We were able to use our bracelet passes to make gift purchases anywhere throughout the parks. Our bracelets were also our park passes, our room keys, and dining and snack service vouchers.
From day one, our itinerary was packed. We were busy, but we were never stressed. Traveling with an infant and being constantly on the go can be stressful, but it was not the case for us. We parked our car in the resort parking lot and forgot about it until the end of our stay. Melissa made recommendations on how to get around whether by boat or bus shuttle, scheduled our lunches and dinners around the baby’s schedule, and placed us at the Beach resort which was conveniently located within a five minute’s walk from Epcot and centrally located among the other parks. Since we stayed at the resort, we had access to Epcot before the park was officially open to the public. Melissa also hooked us up with Park Hopper passes so that we could come and go as we pleased and make the best use of our time during our three day, two night stay. We saw and did exactly what we wanted to see and do at all of the parks. Since we were resort guests, it was fantastic to have the service of purchasing all of our souvenirs and gifts and have them delivered to our hotel or to a convenient location.
After telling Melissa my desire to have all of our dining planned without any planning and foresight on my part and giving her the schedule of my baby, Melissa made sure that our dining experience was a part of the fun Disney package. She planned the restaurant locations perfectly: We ate the best restaurants in the parks and our resort and she planned the timing with the baby’s schedule in relation to our fun schedule. We felt as if our meals fit seamlessly throughout our day and I loved every meal she planned for us as if she knew what my favorite foods were.
All of our meals, save for our Japanese hibachi experience, had character dining so we had the opportunity to eat with all of the Disney princesses, Mickey and Minnie, Winnie the Pooh characters, and all of their friends. It was great to be able to sit down and have the pleasure of each character stop by our table during our meal to talk and take pictures with the Bean. Seeing the joy on her face was priceless and the experience was much better than having to wait in line in the excruciating heat to meet the Disney characters throughout the park. It saved us time, was fun, and made our dining experience inclusive in the whole Disney experience.
Going on about the dining, I also liked the buffet option Melissa planned for us. I could eat what I wanted to eat and take our time, feeding the baby from the buffet and feeding her when she needed to eat and feeling relaxed. The food was delicious, balanced, and the service at the buffets was a friendly and warm. At our Japanese hibachi meal, the staff asked about any allergies, and upon learning about my severe allergy to shrimp, they cooked my meal special in the kitchen and I was able to eat my meal without having to wait. Being really hungry after a non-stop day, it worked out perfectly for me and the baby.
Since Melissa arranged our itinerary in consideration to the baby and our dining experiences, we were able to do all of the rides and visit all of the attractions everywhere we went on the Disney property. Because my friend, Josh, has a vision disability, Melissa advised us on how to acquire a guest assistance pass for Josh which made it convenient for him because he barely had to use his walking stick and he didn’t have to stand in long lines and bump into people waiting in dark lines due to his night blindness.
Because of our Park Hopper passes, we saw and did everything we wanted to do. While we got rained out of the Magic Kingdom on our first afternoon due to a lot of close hitting lightening, we felt as if we got to meet all of our trip expectations. We got to shop, eat, and visit attractions with ease. The only time we didn’t get to see an attraction was if the heat was too unbearable (we spent that time shopping in air conditioned shops) or if the weather didn’t permit.
By the end of our trip, we felt as if we had been on one of the best vacations of our lives and we felt as if we had been treated like welcomed guests and Disney family members. Josh and I laughed like the high school kids that we once were when we met. The Bean had so many wonderful first time experiences, meeting all of the characters and having experienced the wonder that every child experiences upon their first visit to Disney (even if she might not remember them all as an infant). Taking care of her during the trip was simple and I felt as if the Disney staff supported and understood all of her needs. Dining was not a time consuming labor, but rather an integrated experience that made our stay complete. We may have run around like mad hatters and were exhausted by the end of each day, but we felt as if our days were full of happy memories and fun experiences. It was also convenient to have been visited by my sorority sisters at the resort and relax in our comfortably sized room, the gift shop, and grounds.
All in all, we felt as if we had the best experience and value for our money. When Josh geeked out and calculated all of the costs at full retail value, he determined that we saved 50% by booking our Disney experience with Melissa and MickeysDreamVacations.com. I noticed that the more people are added to the trip, the better value is added to the budget and since children under two are free, I didn’t have to pay extra for the Bean. Now that’s a value that a parent can be happy about.
Melissa uses her vast experience and passion in planning a Disney dream vacation that is not only fun, but affordable. We got the best of everything for our budget and felt as if all of our needs were met and all of our expectations were exceeded. It’s been a long time since I have written a business review, but Melissa impressed Josh and I so much with such a fantastic vacation that I had to rave about her and MickeysDreamVacations.com. I recommend Melissa’s free service to everyone I know and to all of my readers without a second thought.
If you are looking to have five star treatment with attention to your family’s every need and budget, then Melissa at Mickeysdreamvacations.com is the person you need. Why try to plan a family vacation on your own when you can have someone help you create your dream for free? I know when the moment comes to plan another Disney vacation, the first person I’ll call is Melissa.
To contact Melissa Elcher at MickeysDreamVacations.com,