Vroom! Vroom! The Minnie Vans are here!

After a fabulous Bon Voyage Breakfast at Trattoria al Forno at Disney’s Boardwalk Inn, my daughter and I headed for Animal Kingdom Park. Our first thought was to hop a bus and be on our way to see lions, tigers, and… giraffes! (There are no bears at Animal Kingdom Park, drat!) But as we approached the bus depot, we noticed a crazy line! There had to have been a 100 people standing around waiting for a bus. (I should say, at this point, that I’ve stayed at the Boardwalk Inn and while the buses have never been spot on, I’ve never seen something like this!)

We considered our options for transportation to the park, waiting for the bus (not gonna happen!), taking an Uber, or even hopping in a cab since there were a few on standby. Then, I remembered that Disney had just rolled out a new, private transportation system called “Minnie Vans!”

Minnie Vans are a fleet of Chevy vehicles, mostly Chevy Traverse although there are a few Suburbans available for larger parties, decorated to look like Minnie Mouse’s personal car! Disney Cast Members are at the helm of these super fun vans and they are ready to whisk you and your family wherever you need to go. This is a new program (meaning there are some kinks to work out) and the vans are currently servicing guests at Yacht Club, Beach Club, Boardwalk Inn, Wilderness Lodge, and Animal Kingdom Lodge. Since we were at Boardwalk Inn, I knew it was the perfect time to give it a try!

I knew the Minnie Vans were utilizing the Lyft app so I downloaded it to my phone. I found it easy to arrange for a pick up right there but just as I was about to request a ride, I realized that I was going to get a standard driver – not the Minnie Vans!

After asking around a bit outside the resort, I headed into the lobby and approached Bell Services as they were the people “in the know.” They magically sent something to my Lyft app, I honestly have no idea what, and then… Ding! I could request a Minnie Van!

The app whirled as it searched for a driver in the area while I walked outside again. I was shocked to see a Minnie Van right there – my app still wasn’t showing a connection with a driver. Yet, there he was! I walked over, introduced myself, and quickly learned that that particular vehicle was waiting for another guest. (I really should have known that it wasn’t going to be that easy…)

This Minnie Van is of the “classic” variety – a Chevy Traverse.

While this vehicle waited for its passenger, my app continued to search for a driver. The app crashed and/or timed out a total of three times in 15 minutes. But, happy for me, Mr. Craig never did show up for his sweet ride, so the driver helped me restart the Lyft app and link to him. After a rough start, we were soon on our way!

Our driver, Wes, is a long time Disney employee. He has worked in roles directly with Guests (including many years as a Disney bus driver), he has worked on special projects, and more. A very nice gentleman with, I’m sure lots and lots of stories to tell. I wish we had been headed further away, I would have loved to spend all morning talking with him!

During our journey, we learned that Disney keeps two car seats in each Traverse so that younger travelers can ride safely. All of the drivers have been trained in how to safely install car seats and will take care of this task for parents. (I was super impressed with this!) We also learned that guests using a manual wheelchair can easily be accommodated in one of the Traverses but there are other vehicles available for guests who have motorized wheelchairs or even ECVs. Guests do need to be able to transfer into the vehicle in order to ride though.

You can control the temperature in the vehicle AND charge your phones all at the same time!

Since these are Disney vehicles, they are able to bring you to areas not available to other drivers. For example, if you were to take an Uber to the Magic Kingdom – you would have to either go to Ticket & Transportation and take a monorail or ferry over to the park or go to the Contemporary Resort and walk to the park. With the Minnie Vans, they pull right up to the front of the park and you are just a few hundred feet from the entrance. That’s what I call riding in style! (I mean, arriving in Cinderella’s pumpkin coach would be better but this is still fantastic!)

The Minnie Vans are an awesome way to get around, there’s no doubt. The price tag is a bit hefty though – $20 per ride. When compared to Lyft or Uber, where you’d pay approx $8 for the ride we took, it’s a lot. A cab for that route would run you about $15, or so, depending on traffic. Still, I think it was a great value for us this morning. Meeting Wes and hearing some of his stories and learning about the “behind the scenes” of the service was great.

And, we made it to Pandora for our FastPass+ for Avatar: Flight of Passage with plenty of time to spare. That, my friends, is priceless!

Wes was fantastic so we left him a review on the Lyft app but, he let us know, no tipping is allowed! Payment for the Minnie Van service is all done through the Lyft app – so I was able to PayPal this expense and be on my way without any hassle!

Got questions about the new Minnie Van service, or anything else travel related, give me a shout!

Kristy “The Mickey Guru” Ouellette

Follow me on Instagram @MickeyGuru

The Best Disney Bars and Lounges: Cove Bar at Disney’s California Adventure

I’m excited to start a series on the best Disney bars and lounges!   Today’s feature is one of my absolute favorites, the Cove Bar at Disney’s California Adventure.  This open air establishment overlooks Paradise Bay and is the perfect spot to soak up the California sun and enjoy quality bar bites and cocktails.

The food here, albeit limited in choices, is delicious.  They don’t have a kids menu, but we just grabbed something for the kids before we went.  They do have a non-alcoholic cotton candy lemonade which the kids really enjoyed.

It can be a long wait to be seated here, so Guru Tip:

Get in line here about 30 minutes prior to opening.

Food options include choices like artisan pizzas (usually a different option each day), tri-tip sliders, which take me back to growing up on the Central Coast of California and the most popular item, lobster nachos.   That’s what we ordered on our most recent visit and they did not disappoint.  There was plenty for my husband and I to share.

Once you’ve made your food selections, go ahead and put that menu down.  Do not, I repeat, do not order a drink from that menu.  The drink menu is the standard Disney Lounge menu you’ll find anywhere on property.  Instead, order a drink from the “secret” cocktail menu!

The secret drinks are takes on the standard Long Island Ice Tea.  The most popular is the Fun Wheel.  The beautifully layered cocktail begins with pineapple juice, followed by passion fruit vodka and blue curacao and topped off with the Long Island ingredients, soda water and a citrus foam.   It was sweet and refreshing.   I had seen pictures of this for years, so I was happy to order it and cross it off my Disney bucket list.

Although my drink was much prettier, I actually preferred the taste of my husband’s choice, The Zombie.  It includes…wait for it…light rum, dark rum, coconut rum, spiced rum, 151 rum,  orange juice, pineapple juice, blue curacao, Midori AND grenadine!  I would have never ordered this based on the kitchen sink of ingredients but it was quite tasty.

Other secret options include the Earthquake which is reportedly the strongest, The Neverland Tea and the Black Pearl.  Someday I’ll try them all, so stay tuned!

I absolutely recommend a trip to the Cove Bar the next time you visit Disney California Adventure.  Both the food and drinks are worth the wait.  Impress your traveling companions by ordering off the secret menu.

As always, I’d love to help you plan your next magical getaway!

Facebook.com/MickeyGuruJen19             MickeyGuru.com/Jen

Disneyland for Adults!

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Of course Disneyland has so much to offer for families with kids. The joy of watching your little ones walk down Main Street and lay eyes on the castle for the first time is an experience like no other. But there is so much more to Disneyland, it is a magical place for adults as well! Before we had kids, my husband and I had some of our greatest dates here. Even our honeymoon was at the “Park that Walt built”. So if you are pre-kids, getting a vacation away, or even empty-nesters, here is a small list of magic that was made just for you.

  1. Have a romantic meal. It’s true that Disneyland is not the first place people think of when they are looking for romance. (Unless, of course you have experienced it firsthand!) But just think of all those Princesses that go on to find true love and it completely makes sense. Here are two of the most romantic restaurants you’ll find at the Disneyland Resort.  Blue Bayou, in Disneyland’s New Orleans Square, is one of the most unique settings I have ever had the privilege to dine. As you enjoy an amazing meal, by firefly light, you watch passengers start their voyage on Pirates of the Caribbean. Napa Rose located in the Grand Californian Hotel & Spa will have you set with the perfect wine to accompany your Award winning meal.  Reservations are recommended.
  2. Enjoy a show! There are some amazing shows at the Disneyland Resort. Disney’s Aladdin- A Musical Spectacular in Hollywood Land at Disney California Adventure is a must see. This show launched the Broadway version and it is just as good as the one you can see on The Great White Way. You can also cuddle up to your sweetie and watch the World of Color over in the Paradise Pier section of California Adventure or take in an incredible fireworks show over at Disneyland park.
  3. Pamper Yourselves! If luxurious spa treatments are more your speed, be sure to visit Mandara Spa at Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa. Here you can have a wide variety of treatments done from couples massages, pedicures, body wraps, facials and more.

Where do you find romance at Disney Parks? Be sure to drop us a line in the comments so we can add it to our list!

Looking for more information on how to make your Disneyland Resort vacation both memorable and romantic? Click on our agent page and select me, Stefanie Nusom, or any other member of our team. We’d be honored to help you!