Nancy Bobby is the owner of The Affordable Mouse, a website focused on budget Walt Disney World trip planning. Bobby has recently published “Magical Meals: A Guide to Affordable Dining at Walt Disney World.” The e-book, which I reviewed for this column, grew out of her readers’ interest and requests. Bobby also recently became a Disney specialist travel agent.
In part I of my interview, Bobby discusses The Affordable Mouse (TAM), its writers and some of its resources. In part II, Bobby talks to us about “Magical Meals” and her decision to become a Disney specialist travel agent.
See part I of my intervew with The Affordable Mouse’s Nancy Bobby.
Debra Peterson, Disney Travel Examiner: You’ve recently published “Magical Meals,” an e-book focused on Disney Dining. Why write “Magical Meals?”
Nancy Bobby: About a year ago, I ran a survey of my regular readers, and among other things, I asked them: “What do you find you need the most help on when it comes to saving money at Disney World? What frustrates you the most?” The response was overwhelming: people really needed help with dining. They were confused about the Dining plan. They wanted to know how much to budget for food. They wanted to know ways to make meals at Disney affordable. And of course, this was not surprising, because meals can be a huge part of a budget on a Disney vacation…but this is also the area that probably has the most flexibility. So anyone who is looking to save money, needs to have ideas on how to reduce this part of the budget.
What was especially great [about “Magical Meals”] was that I was able to get lots of tips and ideas from our regular readers who are Disney veterans, and these were included too. This is a part that I truly look forward to expanding in updates
Debra: Is there one tip from “Magical Meals” that you’d care to share with my readers?
Nancy: I think my one tip from Magical Meals that I would like to share, is to not assume that the Disney Dining Plan is right for your family. There are, of course, several Dining Plans, but most people think of the Basic Plan, that includes a Table Service meal for each person, each day. This is a great plan and for my family is a definite cost-saver…but it isn’t for many others. Some people don’t want to take the time for sit-down meals, and others have little ones for whom this is not realistic. You need to think honestly about your family, your habits and what you are going to enjoy. For many people, the Quick Service plan is a better plan. For others, the Dining Plans are just not right at all. Disney vacations are not one-size-fits-all, so the Dining Plan may or may not be right for you. Don’t get it if it’s not.
Debra: As the result of your experience with TAM, you’ve become a certified Disney Travel Agent. Tell us a bit about that.
Nancy: [At The Affordable Mouse] I encourage questions and am happy to help because that’s what we are about, help. And I do get a lot of questions, which is awesome! So because of this, I made the decision recently to follow a dream I have had for years, and became a Disney specialist travel agent.
Walt said you should follow your dreams, and this seems to be the natural next step for me, so I am following this dream! It gives me the chance to offer more help to my readers who want that extra, one-on-one help. And it’s a way for me to be able to really work with folks who are trying to figure out how to make Disney affordable. It’s rewarding to know that I can really help “make the magic happen” for others.
Debra: Why use a Disney travel agent? What services do you offer?
Nancy: Using a Disney travel agent is a great way to have someone personally guide you through the process. And of course a Disney specialist is better than a generic travel agent, because we know Disney!
As a Disney travel agent, I work with customers from the very beginning of planning, asking them questions to help figure out the best package or place to stay that fits their budget. From there, then I work with them to help decide where to eat if they will be making Table Service reservations, and I can even book those ADRs for them. I also help them, if they like, with figuring out a general itinerary of what to see and when. This can really help their trip be smoother and help everyone have an enjoyable time.
Basically I am there to answer questions, offer guidance and support, and do anything I can to make sure their trip is magical. And of course, there is no fee for this help! Best of all, because I have booked their vacation, if a promotion or discount comes along that will save them money, I can apply this to their reservation….they don’t have to ask, I’ll just do it automatically.
Debra: What is the relationship between TAM and your being a travel agent (TA)?
Nancy: The Affordable Mouse will continue to be what it has been: a resource center for folks looking to save money on their Disney vacations. Nothing about that has…or will…change because I am now a TA. Rather, I see this as just one more way I can help my readers…those who want/need that help. For those that don’t, that’s ok, because we still have lots of information that they can use to help them plan their Disney vacations affordably. But for those that do want/need the help, I am now available to be there for them in a way that I couldn’t before.
Debra: What part of the site would you recommend a first-time visitor to TAM look at?
Nancy: I would recommend that a first-time visitor to The Affordable Mouse start with getting the 50 page Planning Guide: that’s the perfect way for someone who is totally new to Disney vacation planning to start! Then explore our site: we have dedicated pages to saving money on accommodations, tickets, and food. And our blog posts fall into a variety of categories, so you can take a look at those to see what all we have written about. Or do a search to find exactly what you are looking for.
Debra: Last question. After readers visit TAM, what would you hope would be their overall impression of the site?
Nancy: It would be my hope that anyone visiting The Affordable Mouse will see that it really is possible to visit Walt Disney World affordably, and that our site has lots of information that will help them do just that. I’m here to help and hopefully folks will see that!
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