Plan a Disney Trip the Stress Free Way with Inside Tips: Meet Nina, A Magical Vacation Planner

Have you ever been to Disney World?

We have- twice.

The first time we went, I called the Disney 1-800 number, spoke to a random person, booked the trip and went on with life.  It worked.

The second time around, I had heard of Nina from TMC Travel Magical Vacation Planner, from Milk Allergy Mom’s Facebook page.  I decided to give Nina a call.  Why not?  It was worth a shot.

I called Nina and she immediately answered.  I instantly felt at ease with her and we chatted away.  It’s not everyday I get to chat with another food allergy mom!  YES… you read that right.  Nina’s children have food allergies so she understood my every concern.

Nina asked all of the important questions:

When did we want to go to Disney?

What was our budget?  (Budget?  What budget?!?!)

What kind of room did we want to stay in?  (Standard room or suite or somewhere in between)

How many days were we planning?

Did we want to include the meal plan?

Did we want to go to a park every day?

Which parks did we want to go to?

And so on.

Nina gave me different price quotes for different possible hotels within Disney.  She answered my various questions without delay over the following days.

She even gave me tips that I didn’t know about last trip.  We requested the room receive a deep clean.  Nina gave me tips about the requests for special diets.  While we brought SG’s food with us from the hotel, we did dine free of SG’s allergens, as well as my special dietary needs.

Nina helped me pick the best days to schedule the parks.  Two years ago around Christmas, the park closed early for Mickey’s Christmas party- cookies and milk.  We didn’t want to be there again on the day it closed early.  Nina helped me choose the right days and we were happy to be at Magic Kingdom for a full day.  Nina also clued me in on cool things- like telling us the crowd calendar for the days we were considering.  It helped us pick the dates.  We were thrilled to know we were going on lower crowd calendar days.

Nina helped us the entire time.

She answered multiple emails from me.

And I asked LOTS of questions:

“Is Fantasmic a good thing to Fastpass?  Is it too scary for a four year old?”

“Do you recommend Fantasmic over the Toy Story ride?”

“I couldn’t get the 7 Dwarfs ride for a fastpass before 6:50 pm so I didn’t do it.  Do I just keep checking daily?  Tomorrow can you look at what I’ve scheduled?”

“Is The Great Movie Ride good?  And are there any things that might scare a 4 year old on the ride?”

“So I’m in central time. So shouldn’t I be able to get our fast passes at 11:01 pm my time?” (For the day I could book our fast passes)

“Let’s talk restaurants! We want to have lunch in the park. (We will pack SG’s lunch.) Can we bring her lunch into the sit down restaurants?”

“I think I’ll book Liberty Tree tomorrow. Do I call you? I have a few dining needs of my own plus I eat dairy and egg free to keep SG safe.”

Nina also helped me with “My Disney” app.  Nina helped me pick the fast passes in the best order.  I randomly picked some and emailed her.  She advised me to the same passes but in a better order that didn’t have us running back and forth around the park.  Now that’s service!

Nina even sent us some extra goodies in the mail for using her as our vacation planner.  That was super sweet, unexpected, and certainly didn’t happen the first go round with the random person from trip number one.

Nina even advised me on where to have the Magic Bands delivered.  We traveled from Iowa to South Carolina to pick up my parents and kept heading south to Florida.  In the middle of choosing our magic bands, I emailed Nina and asked where to have them delivered.  Iowa?  South Carolina?  She helped me, assured me that the bands would arrive on time and that was that.  If Nina wasn’t my planner, what would I have done?  I don’t know!  Having Nina as a vacation planner was like having my very own, very accessible and knowledgeable friend with me every step of the way!  

Nina is an amazing Disney Travel Agent.

And she has a NO FEE policy if she is the agent on your trip! 

Seriously, I didn’t pay to use her services.

I didn’t pay the first go round and got okay service with the random 1-800 number.  The job was done.

But with Nina, the service was EXCELLENT.  I had someone to answer my endless questions and emails.  I had someone to email if I had a bump in the road, so to speak.  I had someone to help me with every little detail.  For free.

And not just some random person somewhere.  Someone that listened to my story, helped us plan a trip that met our special needs and someone who I came to think of as a friend.

She helped us tremendously in planning our trip and made the planning a breeze!

If Disney is in your plans, I highly recommend giving Nina a call before you book your trip.  She is a no fee Disney Travel Agent if she books your trip.  She does custom planning with all bookings.  She specializes in food allergies, special diets, and families.  Even if you have no food allergies, Nina is your gal.

Nina can help book your next trip to:  Disneyland, Walt Disney World Resorts, Disney Cruise Line, Adventures by Disney and Aulani, a new Disney Resort in Hawaii.

Please visit Nina on her Facebook page here, her blog “The Dingle Hopper”, e-mail her at Nina@gotTMCtravel.com or give her a call at 734-890-2350.  Please let her know that Ellie from Blessed Little Family sent you.

Here's Nina at Epcot with her family.

Here’s Nina at Epcot with her family.

***I have not been paid to write this for Nina.  I may receive a small referral fee for each person who books a trip with Nina if you mention Ellie sent you.  All opinions are my own.  And Nina really is amazing and a tremendous help!***

Vacationing with Food Allergies: Disney World

Disney Receipt

This post has been brewing for over a year. I wanted to write about our first trip with SG to Disney World last year.

We were so excited. We heard great things about Disney and food allergies. We stayed at Port Orleans resort with Disney in December 2013 and bought their meal plan- the one with one quick service meal and one sit down meal a day. We made our meal reservations with our special dietary requests and were thrilled to safely eat out.  We spoke to the chefs every single time.

But still… SG broke out in hives. Every. Single. Meal. It was horrible! The worst was when she had a hamburger. At that time, we didn’t know about her beef allergy, so we know that was most likely the reason behind her allergic reaction. At the other non-beef meals, she broke out in 3 to 5 hives. It wasn’t a major reaction, but a reaction never the less. And any hives on her stress me out and put me on edge= Not relaxing. Not magical.

I even cried talking to the chef at our resort’s restaurant. I cried because I was stressed out and just wanted something SAFE for my child to eat.

Disney tried, but failed us.

The rides, however, were magical! We quickly developed a system to keep SG safe. I went first with a baby wipe in my hand. I wiped down the lap bars and seats as I got on the ride. Then the Huzz and SG joined me. The second we were off the ride, we’d all wipe our hands with baby wipes. SG did great at the theme parks. No hives from rides!!!

Fast forward to October of 2014. We decided the problem last year was the food at Disney. We decided to try Disney again in December 2014.  To be safe, we decided to get a room with a full kitchen so I could cook all of our dinners. We would bring a safe lunch and safe snacks for SG in the parks. We would eat lunch at the park, but all grown ups would need to eat dairy and egg free to keep SG safe. She ate her safe packed lunch and a special dessert snack (Skittles one day and a Cocoa Loco bar the next.) We snacked on safe snacks I brought and ate dinner in our villa. That part was great.

Here’s where the HUGE problem was. We checked into our “deep cleaned” room at Old Key West Resort and immediately started wiping down every surface. Even though we had requested a deep clean and had supposedly received it, our room just wasn’t up to par. There was some red sauce splattered on several white wood surfaces on the kitchen chairs. There were more red splashes on the side of the fridge. There were white droplets of some food (milk? ice cream?) on the side of the kitchen island. Clearly, we needed to clean it all again.

I told SG (she’s 4) to not touch anything while we wiped everything down. She started touching surfaces as any excited 4 year old would do at a Disney resort. And within 30 minutes, had hives on her face and eyes and a bright red neck. I was terrified and thought this was “the time I was gonna have to Epi her.” She didn’t ingest any dairy, though, so we gave her Benadryl, gave her a quick shower, and then the hives started calming down. All of this within about an hour of checking in to our “relaxing and magical vacation.”

SIGH.

I broke down and cried, y’all. I was so upset. I emailed our travel agent, who was equally appalled at the lack of deep cleaning and she was upset SG had an allergic reaction. She notified the resort. The managers came to our room. We talked and I cried again as I explained to them what happened and tried to stress that even though they claimed our room was deep cleaned, I saw plenty of food “leftovers” in the room.

The manager offered to have the upholstery steam cleaned the next day while we were at Hollywood Studios. That night, we had all of the furniture covered in clean white sheets and towels.

The next day, we came back to freshly steam cleaned sofas, chairs and kitchen chairs. I appreciate that. Really, I do. We still covered it all in new sheets, though, just to be safe.

The managers even had this set up for SG when we returned from Hollywood Studios. SG loved her gifts!

The managers had this as a surprise for SG after she broke out in hives from the room.  She loved these gifts!

SG’s surprise from the managers after she broke out in hives from the room. She loved these gifts!

After the first night, SG didn’t have any more reactions.

I can’t tell you how stressful it was to start off vacation with our daughter having hives and almost taking a trip to the emergency room.

I know tons of food allergy families safely dine at Disney World and have had great experiences. We are two for two at not being completely safe at Disney. Our time in the theme parks and meeting princesses has been the highlight of our visits. The first year the food was the problem. The second year the room was the problem. Yikes.

My princess meeting Merida.  One of her favorite moments from our trip.

My princess meeting Merida. One of her favorite moments from our trip.

Anyway, I wanted to share how our trips to Disney panned out.

My daughter loved her Disney visit. No matter the obstacles, I’m grateful we were able to give her that gift two years in a row.

But for now, I think I am done with vacations. They really stress me out.

Note:  Lots of food allergy families have had great success dining at Disney restaurants.  I applaud Disney for being so food allergy aware.

Our daughter is obviously contact reactive, with RAST numbers off the chart.  Still, we try to provide her with every opportunity to have a “normal” childhood.  Having fun at Disney has been checked off of our list.