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About jennifermarx

Jennifer Marx is the author of more than 50 travel guides and the recipient of more than a dozen awards. She is also the co-founder and co-creator of, an active community of enthusiastic travelers. Her amazing son, Alexander, is the subject of many of her posts and thoughts on family travel. You can find her on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Google+.
jennifermarx has written 69 articles so far, you can find them below.

How Badly Do You Need a Disney Fix? Take This Quiz!

Our friends at Celebrations magazine are sharing their fabulous quizzes with PassPorter fans. Here’s a fun quiz by Jennifer Bright Reich that helps you find out just how badly you really NEED a Disney fix! But be prepared for tough questions … this is hardcore Disney nuttiness here!

Your Score:  

Your Ranking:  

The scores are just for fun, but I’d still love to see them! Share them on Facebook, Twitter, or just reply to this blog post.

How did I do? It’s past time for my Disney fix!



About the quiz author: Jennifer Bright Reich is the director of partnerships and marketing at Celebrations Press, publisher of Celebrations magazine and the Guide to the Magic book series, at She is anxiously awaiting her family’s next trip to Walt Disney World


Which Disney Character Are You? Take Our Quiz!

Our friends at Celebrations magazine are sharing another of their fabulous quizzes with PassPorter this month. Here’s a fun quiz by Jennifer Bright Reich that helps you find out which famous Disney character you are most like!

The personality test is just for fun, but I’d still love to see them! Share them on Facebook, Twitter, or just reply to this blog post.

How did I do?


Which Disney Character Are You?

About the quiz author: Jennifer Bright Reich is the director of partnerships and marketing at Celebrations Press, publisher of Celebrations magazine and the Guide to the Magic book series, at She is anxiously awaiting her family’s next trip to Walt Disney World


How Big of a Disney Nut Are You? Take This Quiz!

Our friends at Celebrations magazine are sharing their fabulous quizzes with PassPorter beginning this month. Here’s a fun quiz by Jennifer Bright Reich that helps you find out just how big of a Disney nut you REALLY are! But be prepared for tough questions … this is hardcore Disney nuttiness here!

Your Score:  

Your Ranking:  

The scores are just for fun, but I’d still love to see them! Share them on Facebook, Twitter, or just reply to this blog post.

How did I do? I’m a true blue Disney fan!


About the quiz author: Jennifer Bright Reich is the director of partnerships and marketing at Celebrations Press, publisher of Celebrations magazine and the Guide to the Magic book series, at She is anxiously awaiting her family’s next trip to Walt Disney World


Fabulous Disney Pin Boards: Pinterest Contest Results!

Back in March I proposed a little Pinterest contest for PassPorter. The idea was to have Disney Pinterest fans make a Disney-themed pinboard, include some PassPorter tags and pins, fill it with Disney-related pins, and submit it by May 10. And you all came through brilliantly! I’ve been in Pinterest heaven for the last several days looking through nearly 200 pinboards jam-packed with Disney and travel related pins.

Narrowing that list down to just one pinboard was VERY difficult. With future Pinterest contests (and yes, I’d love to do more!), I’ll probably want to get more specific simply to help find a winner easier. For this contest, I simply asked you to include Disney pins and announced I’d pick a winner based on originality, creativity, and adherence to the rules. Nearly everyone followed the rules, which left looking for something cool and different. I narrowed the list down to 10 pinboards, which I’d like to showcase here for your enjoyment! Here they are:

  1. Chiradora (42 pins)  – I enjoyed Chiradora’s pinboard primarily because of the awesome stick figure family she made to show off her Disney side. Super cute.
  2. StephBlovvski (260 pins) – She used the description field (super helpful!), and I really liked how she made her own pins for remembering tips.
  3. Hypnozia (41) – This is a great use of a map pinboard! (Here’s how to make a Disney map pinboard.)
  4. RosemondG ( 21) – Great focus on plans for the 2015 Princess Half Marathon!
  5. DisneyAC (166) – Excellent collection of Disney-themed pins.
  6. KillBunny (51) — I love how many of these pins are new pins, not simply repins (though she certainly has those, too).
  7. Jacksmom (505) – Over 500 pins! Wow! I’m impressed with the sheer size of this pin collection!
  8. Altchar (29) – And to prove you don’t have a lot of pins to get my attention, this pinboard only has 29 pins (when I checked), but I LOVE the theme of Disney at night. Beautiful photos bring back great memories.
  9. IrishSkater425 (95) — It’s ORGANIZED! Unique graphics were pinned and placed carefully to create a lovely showcase.
  10. SuellaDaville (202) — This pinboard is impressively large, but I really admired all the personal notes on pins about her interests/hopes/dreams. She’s personalized nearly every pin! I can feel her enthusiasm for Disney in each pin she selected here. She also used a description on her pinboard very effectively and met all our rules. This is a really great use of Pinterest!

I was so impressed that I’ve chosen SuellaDaville’s pinboard as our winner! She wins a Deluxe PassPorter of her choice, two PassHolder Pouches, some extra PassPockets, a PassPorter Pin, and a $50 gift certificate in case there’s more she wants that we didn’t include! Congratulations, Susan – please e-mail me at jennifer (at) passporter [dot] com so I can send you your prize!

I’d love to do another Pinterest contest! Before I settle on an idea, does anyone have ideas they’d like to share? Themes? Rules? Please reply here!

Disney Stars and Motor Cars Parade at Disney’s MGM Studios (Disney’s Hollywood Studios)

On May Day (that’s May 1 — tomorrow!) Disney’s Hollywood Studios turns 25. It’s hard to believe my “baby park” (it was the newest part when I began my regular visits as an adult) will be so old. Like many others, I still tend to think of it as Disney-MGM Studios. I hear there will be a big hoopla to celebrate the milestone anniversary, including a rededication ceremony at 10:00 am, a motorcade at 7:00 pm called “Stars of the Studios” with famous characters, a dance party in from of the Sorcerer Hat stage, and fireworks at 9:30 pm.

As I was thinking about the Studios, I remembered a very cool parade that began there 13 years ago — it was called the Disney Stars and Motor Cars Parade. I went back into the PassPorter Archives and found photos, and was delighted by the various stars’ motor cars … and I thought you might enjoy a peek, too! Here are 25 of my favorite photos from the parade — all were all taken on October 6, 2001, just a few days after it debuted! (Larger versions of all photos are available in our gigantic Photo Archive – click on a photo to go there.)

It began with a Grand Marshall, in traditional Disney style!

First came Jessie and the Toy Soldiers, leading the way for the first motor car of the parade. 

In the Toy Story motor car were Sheriff Woody, Buzz, and Mr. and Mrs. Potato Head. Note the car is Andy’s bed!

The second motor car was the Mary Poppins float with Mary and Bert … the Penguins were nearby, too. Yes, Mary and Bert are RIDING carousel horses while riding a car. Now that takes talent, folks.

The third motor car were The Muppets, with Kermit, Miss Piggy, and Sweetums. I had no idea Kermit and Miss Piggy were so, well, HUGE!

R2D2 came along next, making way for …

Princess Leia in her awesome land speeder-esque motor car.

We can’t forget old wheezy himself, Darth Vader! <insert Darth’s theme here>

Next we have the Huns …  Mulan must be nearby!

Mulan’s Motor Car in the old Disney Stars and Motor Cars Parade — LOVE the lanterns!

Next up … harem girl dancers! Is she doing “The Swim” here? Hmm.

Aladdin and Jasmine in a giant Genie car!

Hercules and Megera wave to the crowds.

We can’t overlook Phil, who is preceded by his pleasantly plump belly!

Cue the villains! The Evil Queen is looking particularly feisty here.

Jafar and Frollo glare everyone down.

Hades gets his own hot rod, of course.

Anyone remember these guys? Yes, it’s a quiz! Reply to this post — let’s see who gets it first.

Dancers wearing the latest in … seaweed?

Ariel and Flounder … it’s a clammobile!

Ooh, another less familiar character. Anyone remember this guy?

The Playhouse Disney moto car with Bear and Stanley.

The Fairest Of Them All … Snow White! Dopey is riding shot gun, I see.

The grand finale … Mickey and Minnie, with Goofy as the chauffeur. Now THIS is a classy motor car.

And we cannot forget the motorcycle escort at the end.

Facts about the Disney Stars and Motor Cars Parade

  • Run Dates: October 1, 2001 to March 8, 2008
  • Motor Cars: 15-18
  • Length: 25 minutes


Getting Disney Tickets From a Discount Ticket Seller: What You Need to Know

disney-discount-ticket-sellAs of March 31, 2014, everyone with a Disney park ticket can use MyDisneyExperience to book FastPass+ ride reservations in advance — yes, even off-site guests. You just need to have a valid, non-expired Disney pass (ticket) and link it to Disney’s MyDisneyExperience system via the web site or the app. This means it’s now a very good idea to purchase your park tickets at least 30 days in advance so you can book FastPass+. Sure, you can buy tickets directly from and have them shipped to your home, but you can save money if you purchase tickets through a discount ticket seller. So let’s talk about that!

First, what is a discount ticket seller? These are businesses that resell Disney tickets to the public — they buy in bulk at a savings, and then pass that savings on to you. Some are considerably more reputable than others. The key is to identify the ones that are reputable, and then find the one that offers the best discount for your particular purchase. We list several that have passed our tests in PassPorter’s Walt Disney World guidebook on page 123, but there’s one in particular we recommend:

So why We’ve known MapleLeafTickets for many, many years — they are the oldest contracted discount ticket agent for Walt Disney World and we’ve purchased tickets from them in the past. has an A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau. They have an actual, physical office in Kissimmee (4647 W US Highway 192) that you can visit. And they are responsive — e-mails get answered quickly and completely. They sell real Walt Disney World tickets; not vouchers, e-tickets, or will-call tickets. You get “hard tickets” mailed to you that are just like the ones sold at Disney’s ticket booths — you take those tickets you receive right to the gate. They are RFID-enabled, too! Their tickets have the same benefits as those purchased at Disney and their numbers can be attached to your MyDisneyExperience account.

In fact, I wrote to MapleLeafTickets (as well as other ticket sellers) recently when the new pass prices came out and I got an answer within an hour. I was so impressed with this that I decided to work with them to offer some excellent park pass prices for PassPorter readers, which I’ve not ever done before in our 16-year history. At the time I am writing this article (April 2014), their prices save you 80-95% off full gate price, plus $1-2+ extra on several different pass options compared with other discount ticket sellers, especially on Magic Your Way base tickets without park hopping. For example, the lowest price I could find on a 3-day Magic Your Way base ticket (from the “secret link” folks talk about on our message boards) was $1.89 more than MapleLeafTickets special prices for PassPorter, while a 6-day was $2.18 more than MapleLeafTickets. It should be noted that MapleLeafTickets charges for their shipping, but it gets there quicker and you can always pick your order up free at their office.

That said, if you’re shopping around for discount tickets, here’s what you need to watch for:

  1. Is this a reputable business? Do you see the authorized Walt Disney World Ticker Seller logo on their site? (That indicates they are an authorized Disney ticket seller.)
  2. Are terms and policies spelled out up front? Look for a FAQ or Q&A link and read it first!
  3. How do you get your tickets? Are they shipped? Can you pick them up on arrival? You need the options that best meet your needs.

What do you want to avoid? Anyone offering free tickets — there’s no such thing, and you can be sure there’s a scam or timeshare hardsell involved.

So by now you’re wondering .. where are these great park ticket deals for PassPorter readers? I like to reward loyal readers, so first dibs go to our PassPorter’s Club passholders (see link) and to our PassPorter Newsletter subscribers. So if you’re not a Club passholder, make sure you’re subscribed to our free weekly newsletter and look for a link to begin apparing there this week! If you’re not currently subscribed to our newsletter and really really want to see those prices now, try asking on the message boards!

Let me know if you have other questions about buying and using tickets from a ticket seller!

PassPorter Pinning Contest

Like Pinterest? We love it! So we’re going to have a little fun with a little Pinterest contest so we can see who else enjoys Pinterest and hook up. We love to see your pins, too!

5/12 Update: I’m going through all the Pin boards now! If you want to be sure I see yours, leave a comment on this post. I’ll post the link to the winning board here on May 15 (Thursday).

5/14 Update: I’ve identified 165 pinboards entered into the contest!! That was considerably more than I first thought, and I’m concerned I’m overlooking some. Make sure your pinboard is being followed by PassPorter — this means we’ve found it!

5/15 Update: There’s a lot of great pinboards and it’s taking longer than anticipated to narrow them down to one. Hang in there — hope to have a winner by tomorrow!

5/17 Update: Whew, that was tough! But we have a winner — read about it here!

Here’s how to enter:

  1. Follow PassPorter on Pinterest
  2. Create a Pinterest board and name it “My PassPorter Disney Plans”
  3. Fill it with at least 10 Disney trip planning photos – a minimum of three must be repins from PassPorter’s Pinterest boards. Think trip planning — where will you stay, what parks will you go to, where will you eat?
  4. Tag all the pins on your board with #passporter
  5. When you’re done, repin the following “PassPorter Disney Plans” contest pin:



The pinner who makes the most creative, engaging, and MAGICAL board for their Disney trip will receive a PassPorter PassPack filled with a Deluxe PassPorter of their choice, two PassHolder Pouches, some extra PassPockets, a PassPorter Pin, and a $50 gift certificate in case there’s more you want that we didn’t include!

Announcing the Winner

Winners will be judged by MediaMarx, Inc. on criteria including originality, creativity and adherence to the rules. Please have your pinboard ready by May 10, 2014. Winners will be contacted on May 15, 2014. Winners will be promoted on the PassPorter web site and social media channels.

Top 10 Questions For a Walt Disney World Trip: My Answers!

Over the past 20 years, I’ve heard nearly every question one might have to ask about going to Walt Disney World. I often get e-mails from readers, or just get stopped in the hallway at my son’s school. From the podcast to the message boards, I hear it all. Several of these questions come up time and time again, and seem to be common, especially among Disney vacationers who don’t visit frequently. Perhaps they will help you, or someone you know! Here are the top ten questions I hear about Walt Disney World … and my answers!

What is the best time to go to Walt Disney World?

The best time of year to go is when you’re ABLE to go! That said, any school breaks or vacations are the busiest times of the year, and correspondingly more expensive. So then you have to balance taking the kids out of school and saving some money (and time) vs only going when school isn’t in session. I’ve done both, though I’m careful to only take my son out of school when I think it won’t be too disruptive. The most crowded times are holidays — I avoid the Christmas/New Year times at all costs. Least crowded times are early in the year (January/February), September, and November (though not Thanksgiving). I think the best weather at Walt Disney World is March-May, when the flowers are in full bloom and the glorious sun is shining down without scorching you!

How far ahead should I book my trip?

Generally speaking, the farther ahead you book, the more money you can save because you have your pick of the lowest-priced options. That said, I myself rarely book more than a few months ahead simply because I’m really busy, but aren’t we all? As a work-at-home mom, I find I often don’t know if we’ll have the free time to go on a Disney vacation until I can really see that particular spring break or summer vacation fast approaching. If you can book at least three months ahead of time, you’re doing good!

Should I fly or drive?

Look at the cost of airfare versus the time it takes to drive, in addition to gas, food and other normal parts of any road trip. For some, time is money, and if that is the case, I generally recommend flying. On the other hand, if you enjoy a road trip and isn’t MORE money than a plane, go for it. I fly and drive — mostly fly — and enjoy both methods of transportation.

About how much can I expect to spend per night if I want to stay at Disney on property?

One night in a value resort on Walt Disney World property starts at $101/night, and that’s on weekdays in the off-season (Aug 3-Sep 12, 2014). If you go during prime spring break or summer vacation season, expect to pay a minimum of $150/night. Of course, these are “rack rates” and you can find some better deals when Disney releases a special offer, which are generally advertised liberally on their web site at and around the web. For example, right now there’s a deal for up to 30% off when you stay up to 5 nights, or up to 35% off for six nights or more, and it’s good for June 15-August 28. Always check with Disney and ask about discounts!

 Are the “value” options nice enough or should I consider splurging for something nicer?

I personally enjoy staying at the value resorts, especially Disney’s Pop Century Resort and Disney’s Art of Animation Resort (their two newest value resorts). When I’m on a tight budget, I always go for the value resort and I put my focus on my park time — my hotel room is mostly a convenient place to sleep! I do definitely prefer to stay on Disney property — it just makes it so much easier to get around, and I really prefer staying within the Disney “bubble.” When I want to splurge, I move up to a moderate (such as Port Orleans French Quarter) and occasionally a deluxe (we recently enjoyed a great visit to Disney’s Wilderness Lodge Resort). I think if you’ve got the money to afford on a fancy hotel, go for it — otherwise, save it for food and souvenirs.

 Isn’t it cheaper to stay outside the park?

I’ve done this, and generally, it’s cheaper. But … I really dislike it. Staying at a cheap hotel off-property is easy on the wallet, but it’s totally lacking the convenient and “magic” of staying on property. You have to pass by all the chain restaurants and tacky tourist stands on your way to and from the park. And forget relying on the park shuttles from those hotels — they are usually the pits! The only exception to this rule, in my opinion, is when I rent a vacation home off-property. If I want a luxuriously large vacation home I have no choice but to go off property and the luxury seems to balances out the tackiness. A lot of parents I talk to are staying in timeshares with their families, and if you fall into that category, go and have fun, save some money, and put your focus on your park time. Do avoid doing a “timeshare deal” with an unknown outfit down there, however — that almost always ends in frustration and it’s just not representative of the real magic of a Disney vacation!

If we’re staying at the resort, should we bring our car, or use Disney transportation?

There are differing opinions on whether you need a car or not, but generally I prefer to use Disney’s transportation. I like not worrying about driving or parking a car when I’m on vacation, and I find Disney’s transportation options more than adequate. Sometimes it makes sense to rent a car, like if you plan to make a sidetrip to LEGOLAND Florida. But the rental fees and gas can add up quickly, too. Remember, too, that if you’re staying on Disney property you get to use Disney’s Magical Express — the shuttle to and from the Orlando Airport — at no additional charge. Besides, I think Disney’s buses, monorails, and boats are a bit part of the magical Disney experience — in fact, I got the idea for the PassPorter guidebooks while riding on a Disney bus nearly 20 years ago!

Is that Disney Dining Plan worth it?

For me and my family, we don’t really get enough out of the Disney Dining Plan to make it worth the money. I typically only use it when a free Dining Plan is offered for a package. Our family eats less food, and at a wider variety of places, than what really works best for the Dining Plan. But that is OUR experience, and there are some families who absolutely love the Disney Dining Plans! Ask yourself if your family are big eaters who enjoy sit-down meals and aren’t worried about planning them in advance with reservations. If the answer is yes, then a Disney Dining Plan might work well for you. If you’re not into a lot of sit-down meals, there’s a Quick Service dining plan as well. To truly save money, however, I’d skip the dining plan, bring along breakfast foods for the mornings before the parks, and choose eateries carefully (in-park eateries tend to be a bit higher than resort eateries). If you’re in doubt, do the math by pricing out foods you think you might eat at meals and comparing that to how much a Disney Dining Plan would cost you per day!

Do I really have to make dining reservations at Disney?

No one is twisting your arm and you won’t starve if you don’t have reservations. That said, if you have your heart set on a particular restaurant, or really want to eat at some special places, you’ll want to make those advance dining reservations! The popular spots book up fast, especially during peak times. I do a mix — I reserve a few places I really want to eat at, and otherwise I wing it or have counter service for the remaining trip.

I heard I can make reservations for rides, too — is that true?

Yes, all guests can use Disney’s FastPass+, a reservation system for rides, shows, and attractions at Walt Disney World. By selecting an attraction, and a one-hour time window in which you’d like to experience the attraction, you make an appointment for the attraction. The number of people who can make such a choice in any given hour is limited, which means that FastPass+ queues for any attraction are virtually guaranteed to never be longer 20 minutes. If you’re staying on property, you can make these reservations in advance at (click on My Disney Experience). If you’re staying off-property, you can visit a FastPass+ kiosk upon your arrival at a park to make reservations. FastPass+ is free!
More tips on planning a magical Disney vacation — and saving money while doing it — are in PassPorter’s Walt Disney World guidebooks (available online at and in bookstores), as well as on our website and at our message boards at . In fact, we have a free article collection with nearly 1000 articles on Disney and family travel at

PassPorter Wants You: How to Get Published, Seen, and Heard at PassPorter!

Since PassPorter’s first edition way back in 1999, we’ve been publishing tips, photos, and reviews from readers. In 2000, we added our popular message boards as a way for people to share their experiences online. Over the years we’ve added more and more ways for YOU to be seen and heard — articles in our newsletter, magical memories in our books, photos in our photo archive and the glossy photo section at the back of the book. More recently with the advent of smartphones and tablets (and wifi), I’ve added timely reviews from readers who are in the parks to that list, too! Community is at the heart of what makes PassPorter so wonderful!

Here is a comprehensive list of the ways you can contribute to be seen and heard at and in the PassPorter guidebooks:

Share an on-the-scene review of something new and/or updated at Disney * e-mail
Write an article for our weekly newsletter * e-mail
Get a photo published in a PassPorter guidebook * upload a photo to the Photo Archive and include “photocontest” as a keyword
Get a tip published in a guidebook or newsletter * send us a tip here
Get a magical memory published in a guidebook * send us your story here
Share a review of a restaurant, resort, etc. post on the message boards

* Rewards a gift certificate, free copy of a guidebook, or something else cool! Last year alone, PassPorter issued over $15,000 in gift certificates!

As far as I know, we’re the only Disney travel guide that incorporates so much of our readers’ contributions into our books!

Please bookmark and share this page so others can find the opportunity to let their Disney side shine out! There’s nothing quite like walking into a bookstore, picking up a PassPorter, and seeing your name in it! A quick search brought up the following comments about how excited people are to get published:

“I just got an email yesterday that my tip is going to be in the next Passporter!”

“That is so cool that your tip made it into the Passporter.”

“Congratulations on being published in Passporter … what an honor!”

“Do you all remember that I entered a Disney tip contest for PassPorter in March? And I won the monthly contest and got a free book… Well–I just got an email and my tip was picked to be published in the next Passporter!!!!”

“OMG… my story will be in the next Passporter! That is sooo cool.”

“I was so excited to receive my Passporter and surprise my sons with their photo in the book!”

Yay for community!

Frozen Sisters Anna and Elsa Moving to Magic Kingdom on April 20!

I’m pleased to discover today that the popular sisters from Disney’s “Frozen” are moving! Many PassPorter members have reported VERY long lines at the Norway Pavilion, so this is a very welcome change. Anna and Elsa will be at the lovely Princess Fairytale Hall in Fantasyland which has FastPass+, so this should really cut down on wait times. The sisters move in April 20, 2014 and should be available during the day, departing in the early evening to make way for other princesses.

If this princess encounter is important to you or your little ones, be sure to get your FastPass+ reservations made quickly, as I predict this will be a hot ticket.

Of course, if you don’t want to wait in ANY lines, you can see Anna and Elsa on The Princess Garden float daily during the new Disney Festival of Fantasy Parade, also in the Magic Kingdom!

Princesses Anna and Elsa in The Princess Garden float in the Disney Festival of Fantasy Parade
Many thanks to ladyt for breaking the news on the PassPorter Message Boards this morning!

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