Monday, February 17, 2014

A Unique Travel Option...A Review

Walt Disney World in Florida

by Al Kessel

Well, regular readers of the Tales From The Mouse House Disneyland Podcast blog (phew, that's a mouthful) know that typically, we are asked to review movies, and occasionally a product or two. However, recently, we were contacted by a Disney lover who is offering a very unique service - one I at least have never heard of.  One that, quite honestly, looks a bit interesting. 

Andrew, owner of a new, online business called Mouse Consultants, specializing in offering affordable vacation planning and consultations for guests visiting the Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Florida. (At least for the time being, the only resort he has recommendations for is this one) According to Andrew, his goal is to "help visitors avoid the infamous Disney crowds and have the most seamless vacation possible". Lofty goal, huh? Well, Andrew offered us a 'review copy' of his services, and recommended the 'MegaMouse Vacation Package', which offers the most extensive planning and travel advice he has. I'll get into detail on the other packages he offers later. So, of course we took him up on his offer - hey, it was free! Only problem was, we weren't planning a trip to Walt Disney World any time in the near (or semi-distant) future, what with our current situation and all. I explained that to Andrew and we decided to go ahead anyway, and just act like we were...

Now, the whole thing starts out by visiting Andrew's website at and clicking on the Featured Products page. Here you'll find five packages (at the time of this writing) to choose from:
  • One Day Disney Park Touring Plan - Consists of a personalized single-day touring plan for any park(s) at the Walt Disney World Resort. Features recommended attractions for you and your family; suggested timing to minimize wait times; proposed dining locations within the Parks. Cost of this package is $19.99
  • Disney Hotel Package - Walt Disney World features 23 resort hotels, each designed to accommodate different tastes and budgets. After purchasing this package, you will receive a list of the top three, best-suited hotels for you and your family. Cost of this package is $24.99
  • FastPass+ Planning Package - In 2013, the Walt Disney World Resort unveiled a revolutionary new system, called FastPass+. It allows visitors to make reservations for their favorite attractions, up to two months before their trip. This package includes: An in-depth introduction to the FastPass+ system; suggested FastPass+ scheduling for each day of your vacation; email support for the 'My Disney Experience' website and app. Cost of this package is $24.99
  • Five Day Disney Parks Touring Package - It takes at least five days to see everything Walt Disney World has to offer! With our Five-Day Disney Vacation Package, you can be sure to make the most of your stay. This package includes: Suggested Park Touring Plans (5 days) to minimize wait time; recommended attractions and dining locations for your family; personalized travel tips. Cost of this package is $39.99
  • MegaMouse Vacation Package (the one we were offered) - The MegaMouse Vacation Package combines all of our travel plans and advice to help you make the most of your Walt Disney World Vacation! The package includes: Suggested Disney Park Touring plans to minimize wait times; List of Recommended Disney Attractions & Restaurants; Top Three Proposed Disney Resort Hotels 
  • -Personalized Travel Tips & Suggestions; Ideal Timeline For Booking Hotels, Restaurants and Attractions; Unlimited Email Support Up-To And Through Your Vacation; Support For The "My Disney Experience" Website And Mobile App. Cost for this package is $59.99
All the above information will be personally tailored to the family's needs, and will be both mailed and sent electronically.  AND...this is important: Andrew is NOT a travel agent, therefore he does NOT book anything for you, nor does it arrange hotel reservations, dining reservations, show reservations, etc. His services RECOMMEND all of these things. So, keep that in mind.

Now, once you purchase your desired package, Andrew will send you a link to a survey form asking the typical questions you'd expect about your vacation wish list. Once he receives your answers, he starts working on a package (depending on your purchase) based on the survey. He'll also recommend optimal times to visit (such as the Holidays). The next thing you can expect is a reply with all of his recommendations (in a first draft, just to see if you're comfortable with his preliminary work), and once you approve those, he'll send you a follow-up email going in to much deeper detail in terms of restaurants, attractions to visit, how to avoid lines, etc. Very helpful stuff. 

As I mentioned, Andrew offered us the MegaMouse package. Now, one of the things I explained was that I had never visited Walt Disney World...ever. So, he designed a vacation (again, based on our answers to the survey) that included arrival date and departure date,  a hotel from our choice of 'comfort level' (and price range), with a price per night, car rental, and Park tickets. No airfare or flight information was included. Andrew also included a general itinerary indicating which parks to visit on which days. Also, with the MegaMouse package, once we approved the plans he sent, he would have included the FastPass+ and touring plans. Here's an example of the itinerary he devised for us, based on our desire to visit Walt Disney World during the Holiday Season:

-Saturday (12/6): Arrival at Resort
-Sunday (12/7): Disney's Hollywood Studios 
-Monday (12/8): EPCOT
-Tuesday (12/9): The Magic Kingdom
-Wednesday (12/10): Disney's Animal Kingdom
-Thursday (12/11): The Magic Kingdom
-Friday (12/12): EPCOT
-Saturday (12/13): The Magic Kingdom 
-Sunday (12/14): Departure

Also, since I indicated I had never visited WDW before, Andrew included some history and a brief overview of each park - a very nice touch. 

Ok, now, for MY thoughts on this...well, I think it's an extremely clever idea. I do. Good on Andrew for creating a business out of something he truly loves. It is very clear that he has both a love and deep knowledge of the Walt Disney World Resort. I honestly applaud anyone who sets out to make a dream come true, especially if that dream includes earning (or attempting to earn) a living doing something that you love doing. And I can (I think) see where this idea came about. Anyone who is a FAN of a Disney Park, and gains any sort of reputation for their knowledge of said Parks, soon becomes the 'go-to' person for friends, friends of friends, etc. 'Hey Al, we're thinking of taking a trip to Disneyland someday. Got any suggestions?' Ah...YEP! So to me, I think that's how Andrew got his inspiration.

But the question is: are the services Andrew, through MouseConsultant, offers worth spending money on? Well, that's up to you. Remember, Andrew is not a travel agent. What you are paying for is his knowledge and his RECOMMENDATIONS on what you SHOULD do based on his experience. If you like what he's suggested, then it's up to YOU to book and pay for everything. So, if you're the type who doesn't want to do the research for themselves, and are ok with paying someone to make recommendations for you, then sure, this service is for you. Would we recommend MouseConsultant? I think so, but with the caveat that this is all stuff that you can find on your own, or perhaps through a friend who also has knowledge. OR, through a Disney Travel Agent who CAN book all of these things for you. 

If you'd like more information on Andrew and MouseConsultants, visit him at 

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Tales From The Mouse House Ep...87

Welcome to Episode 87 of Tales From The Mouse House Disneyland Podcast!! As we promised you earlier in the year, we’ll be doing more ‘out of the norm’ episodes, you know, to spice things up a bit! So, on this go ‘round, we’ve got something SPECIAL for you.
DCA of yesteryear 

On February 8th, Disney California Adventure celebrated it’s 13th birthday! Wow, seems just like yesterday we saw the “OPENING SOON” commercials on TV! Well, over the last 13 years, California Adventure has gone through quite a few changes - some great, some...well, let’s just leave that one alone. Disney California Adventure has introduced us to some terrific things (like CORN DOGS), and has reinvented itself recently to include a trip through Walt Disney’s history, as well as incorporate an animated world into our own. All these things add up to one great adventure! So, in honor of their 13th birthday, we thought we’d share some of our favorite Disney California Adventure photos with you, set to music, in this latest VIDEO PODCAST EXTRAVAGANZA! (cue impressive music here)

Hey, if YOU'RE in need of a great travel agent, why not give our sponsor, Randy Crane from Mouse Ear Vacations a holler! I bet he can make YOUR vacation a MAGICAL one! Visit Randy at NOW is the time to book your 2014 Disney adventure! 
Disney California Adventure TODAY!
YEP! Cars Land has arrived in the REAL world!

As always, If you’d like to send in comments for the show, you can send us an email to, leave us voicemail on the Hotline at 304-TALES23, leave us feedback in iTunes or leave comments for us on our Twitter account @talespodcast. Heck, you can even find us on FaceBook, just search for Tales From The House House - Disneyland podcast! If you'd like to listen to the show, you can find it on iTunes, on our podcast site at, the direct episode link: Episode 87, or on Stitcher Radio now! Just visit and search for Tales From The Mouse House - Disneyland Podcast!

Thanks for making US a part of your Disney Experience, and remember...
"Make It A Mickey Day!"

                                          ~~ Al, Joyce and Kate (the pup)


by Joyce Kessel

Minnie-Rella on DVD is a fun-filled Disney Junior Adventure perfect for the entire family.   I loved the music, love and friendship shared between our most-loved Disney Characters.  Put on your dancin’ shoes and read my review, and tune in to Disney Junior or purchase the DVD and share with your favorite Prince and Princess. 

Just in time for Valentine’s Day, Don’t Miss The Latest Full-Length Adventure from
Mickey Mouse Clubhouse 

Available To Own on Disney DVD on February 11
Premieres on Disney Channel and Disney Junior on February 14

Synopsis:  Our beloved Mickey, Donald, Daisy and Goofy need to get Minnie a surprise present, but they keep her busy with plenty of chores to do at the Clubhouse.  Minnie is tired from so much work, and falls asleep and dreams that she is MINNIE-RELLA!  Inspired by the fairy tale of Cinderella, the story of Minnie-rella sparkles with music and fun as we recognize our favorite Clubhouse characters in familiar roles.

Poor Minnie-rella needs a lot of help to get ready for Prince Mickey’s Grand Ball!  With a wave of her wand and some “Mouseke-doodle-lee-doo” magic, Minnie-rella’s Fairy Godmother, Clarabelle, transforms an ordinary tomato into a magnificent carriage and Minnie-rella’s raggedy dress into a beautiful gown that is perfect for a princess.  But Minnie-rella’s enchanted dance with Prince Mickey at the ball must end when the spell is broken at midnight.  With our help, Prince Mickey finds the princess who fits into her lost glass slipper – Princess Minnie-rella!

The Mickey Mouse Clubhouse: Minnie-rella DVD comes packaged with the full-length adventure, a FREE Castle Play Set, 3 additional Mickey Mouse Clubhouse episodes and 10 Minnie’s Bow-Toons Shorts!

Cast:  Bret Iwan (as Mickey Mouse); Russi Taylor (as Minnie Mouse);Bill Farmer (as Goofy and Pluto); Tony Anselmo (as Donald Duck); and Tress MacNeille (as Daisy Duck).

Director:  Donovan Cook (Return to Never Land)
Exec. Producer:  Rob LaDuca (Jake and the Never Land Pirates)
Producer and Story Editor:  Mark Seidenberg (Jake and the Never Land Pirates)

Release Dates: DVD debuts on Tuesday, February 11, 2014
Airs on TV on Friday, February 14, 2014 at 9:00 a.m., ET/PT on Disney Channel and 5:30 p.m., ET/PT on Disney Junior

Packaging:  1-Disc DVD (Each DVD comes with a FREE Castle Play Set, 3 additional episodes and 10 Minnie’s Bow-Toons Shorts)

Bonus Episodes:                    

Pluto’s Tale – In Pluto’s very first fairytale adventure, we help Prince Pluto rescue Princess Bella from the clutches of sneaky Wizard Pete.

Mickey and the Enchanted Egg – Mickey finds an egg which soon hatches into a Baby Dragon. Mickey and his friends have to return the Dragon back to her castle home and convince the powerful Wizard Pete that they didn’t steal the egg in the first place.

Daisy’s Pony Tale – When Professor Von Drake’s new invention, a Fritzer-Spritzer Spray Potion, accidentally gets spritzed on Daisy’s ponytail, it makes her hair grow super long! That’s not goody-good at all. Along with Mickey and Sire Goofs-a-Lot, Daisy travels on her pony to find twelve leaves of the magical plant, Rapunzel, in order to reverse the effects of the Professor’s potion and fix her ponytail.

Minnie Bow-Toons Shorts:   
Piano Movers and Shakers
*A Good Sign
*Locked Out
*Feelin’ Crabby
*Cucko-Loca’s Egg-celent Adventure
*Funny Bunny
*Weather or Not
*Mechanical Mayhem
*Adventures in Piggy Sitting
*Minnie’s Makeover Madness

Ratings:         TV-Y (US)
Feature Run Time:   Approx. 102 minutes
Aspect Ratio:    2.35:1
Audio:               Dolby Digital Surround Sound
Languages:       English
Subtitles:            English, Spanish

Friday, February 14, 2014

Winds In The East, Mist Coming In...

by Al Kessel 

Well, if you're a regular reader of our blog, you'll remember that recently we posted our review of The Walt Disney Studios film, Saving Mr. Banks. Let me save you some time (unless of course, you'd like to go back and read the original review!), in one word, WE LOVED THE MOVIE! (ok, that was like four words but hey...I'm pretty jazzed up at the on, you'll see why).

Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment proudly announces the home entertainment release of the heartwarming drama Saving Mr. Banks, arriving on Blu-ray + Digital Copy, DVD, Digital HD and On-Demand on March 18, 2014.

Tom Hanks and Emma Thompson bring to life the untold true story about the origins of one of the most treasured Disney classics of all time.  John Lee Hancock (The Blind Side) directs this acclaimed film, which reveals the surprising backstory behind the making of Mary Poppins.  Determined to fulfill a promise to his daughters, Walt Disney (Hanks) tries for twenty years to obtain the rights to author P.L. Travers’ (Thompson) beloved book.  Armed with his iconic creative vision, Walt pulls out all the stops, but the uncompromising Travers won’t budge.  Only when he reaches into his own complicated childhood does Walt discover the truth about the ghosts that haunt Travers, and together, the set Mary Poppins free.
From Disney's Mary Poppins, now available 

Featuring a stellar supporting cast that includes Colin Farrell (Total Recall), Paul Giamatti (Sideways), Jason Schwartzman (Rushmore), Bradley Whitford (TV’s The West Wing), Annie Rose Buckley (TV’s Home and Away), Ruth Wilson (The Lone Ranger), B.J. Novak (TV’s The Office), Rachel Griffiths (TV’s Brothers & Sisters) and Kathy Baker (Edward Scissorhands), Saving Mr. Banks was directed by John Lee Hancock (The Blind Side, The Rookie), produced by Alison Owen, Ian Collie and Philip Steuer, and written by Kelly Marcel and Sue Smith. Executive producers are Paul Trijbits, Andrew Mason, Troy Lum and Christine Langan.  

On Blu-ray and Digital HD, Saving Mr. Banks sweeps viewers away with enchanting high definition picture and sound, plus delightful, never-before-seen bonus features, including “The Walt Disney Studios: From Poppins to Present,” in which director John Lee Hancock takes viewers on an insider’s tour of Disney Studios today and reflects on studio life during the creation of Mary Poppins.  Additional bonus materials include “Let’s Go Fly a Kite,” in which the film’s cast and crew sing an impromptu version of the iconic song on set during the last day of shooting, and deleted Scenes.
From Disney's Mary Poppins, now available 

Bonus Materials*:
The Walt Disney Studios: From Poppins to Present (Blu-ray & Digital HD) - Join Director John Lee Hancock on a tour of the Disney Studios lot, reflect on studio life during the making of Mary Poppins, and discover how Walt’s creative spirit still flourishes today. 
Let’s Go Fly a Kite (Blu-ray & Digital HD) - Cast and crew sing break out in a rousing, heartfelt tribute to Composer Richard Sherman on the last day of filming.
Deleted Scenes
Stargaze (Blu-ray & Digital HD) – A picture on Walt’s desk leads to a flashback of Pamela’s childhood. 
Nanny Song (Blu-ray, DVD & Digital HD) – The Sherman Brothers perform a song for Pamela that she is less than thrilled with. 
Pam Leaves (Blu-ray & Digital HD) – After yet another disagreement with Walt, Pamela leaves his office and heads for the airport. 

*Digital HD bonus offerings vary by digital retailer

Disc Specifications:
Feature Run Time: Approximately 125 minutes
Rating: Feature Film: “PG-13” in U.S., “PG” in Canada, bonus features not rated
Aspect Ratio: Blu-ray = 2.40:1 1080p High Definition Widescreen
DVD = 1.78:1 – Enhanced for 16x9 Televisions 
Audio: Blu-ray = English 5.1 DTS-HDMA and DVS 2.0 Dolby Digital, French and Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital Language Tracks 
DVD = English 5.1 and DVS 2.0 Dolby Digital; Spanish and French 5.1 Dolby Digital Language Tracks 
Languages/Subtitles: Blu-ray = English SDH, French and Spanish Subtitles 
DVD = English SDH; Spanish and French Subtitles 

Yeah, to say the least, Joyce and I are GEEKED out about Saving Mr. Banks coming to Blu-Ray and DVD! We're hoping to get a review copy to...err...well, review, AND if we're lucky (and you too), we'll be able to get a giveaway copy as well! Fingers crossed! - Al