Wednesday, May 29, 2013

ABC's of Walt Disney World

My little list of Disney A-Z tips.

Kids love getting them and the Disney character experience is unmatched. You can use autograph books (bought or made), pillow cases, picture mattings, t-shirts, etc. for the characters to sign. Fat, retractable markers are best for the characters big hands.

We made autograph books, with the help of a friends Cricut.

Mickey's autograph on Mickey paper.
EVERYONE carries a backpack. This helps avoid "mom will carry this for me." I started this at about age 10. The kids carry the lightweight kind that have strings as the straps (ours are Nike and Adidas).

I realize we are at IOA but you can see both of them wearing their backpacks.
Character Meals
Worth every dime, especially when you get free dining :) This helps get character autographs without waiting in long lines at the parks. We have waited 2 hours before to see Minnie Mouse, the next year we had breakfast with her (at Beach Club), had all of her attention, and didn't wait in line.

Xander and Tigger at Crystal Palace MK (2005).
Disney Dining Plan 
Worth the money if you book table service meals 180 days in advance. I saved my receipts one trip (in 2011) and added up everything we used the dining plan for (meals and snacks). We saved about 30% by booking the meal plan. 

Make it an all day park. Between Future World and World Showcase, there is lots to do and lots to learn. My kids can't get enough of this park, even when they were little.

Order groceries from Garden Grocer. Bottled water is expensive in the parks and water fountains taste gross. The company is great, they deliver right to your Disney resort.

Bring your own, its not sold in the parks. Not kidding!! I usually pack 2-3 packs per person in my suitcase.

Hidden Mickeys
We love looking for Hidden Mickeys. There are books you can buy that tells you where to look but what fun is that? We like to use our imagination and search for them without instructions. 

My favorite sites for Disney vacation planning: AllEarsTheMouseForLessPassPorter 

IT IS SOOOO FREAKIN' HOT! If you absolutely must go during these months, be prepared. Take lots of sunscreen, drink lots of water, take swimming breaks, relax in shows with air conditioning, and wear good, protective clothing. The last thing you want on a Disney vacation is to be dehydrated and/or have a sunburn. 

Key to the World cards
These cards are very important, don't lose them. I put ours in our photo album each year as a souvenir. 

You are going to wait in line for rides and food, get over it. It will be all worth it in the end. If you are not in a line that has lots of entertainment (The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh line is excellent), then you can make waiting for kids fun by letting them bring their ipod or play with your phone.

Moderate resort
A lot more amenities than "Value" without paying twice the price for "Deluxe."

This country in Epcot has the BEST princess meal at Akershus Royal Banquet Hall. There are lots of princesses, It is beautiful inside, the food is excellent (not cheeseburgers), you get a picture with Belle when you enter, and they announce your daughters name when you enter (when we went they said "announcing Princess Eve" when our table was ready).

Eve and Belle at Akershus Royal Banquet Hall
Explore your options. There is so much to do, go in informed. Go to as many websites as possible, read as many Disney books as you can, and get the Disney app for smartphones.

Planning, planning, planning
Plan ahead!! Know when you are going to go to which park. This helps plan for park tickets and dining reservations. You don't have to go all crazy and plan when you will ride certain rides, this will only create disappointment, but at least know what days you will be at each park! (Bonus tip: it has been said that Thursday is the least busy day for MK)

Quit stressing
and have fun with the planning and the doing!!

Make dining reservations 180 days in advance. I had to settle for a later dinner this time around because I booked 1 day late. It sounds crazy now to plan where you want to eat 6 months in advance but it saves disappointment later. I always research menus at to narrow down my choices. 


Utilize as much Disney transportation as possible, it's free. These range from, Magical Express to monorails to busses to boats. We like to hop on boats to use as free entertainment and/or to find different and interesting ways to get from one place to another.

IT WILL RAIN IN FLORIDA AT LEAST ONCE DAILY!! We buy ponchos at Dollar Tree and bring them with us to avoid paying for the expensive Disney ones but I have seen people carry umbrellas. 

Vegetarian, allergies, dietary restrictions
Make these known right away. Ask a lot of questions about what is in the meals you are considering. Sometimes the chef will come out and talk to you personally. Some restaurants prefer advance notice with dietary restrictions, you can notate these when booking online or over the phone. Disney is extremely accommodating!

I always carry baby wipes for sticky fingers. 

eXtra magic hours
We love the morning ones. The park isn't that busy from 8-9am. Nothing like being allowed in a park an hour before anyone else. (you must be a resort guest to take advantage of these)

Remember this vacation is all about you and your family, don't let other guests get you down. 

Zebras, Zyrtec, and zinnias
"Z" words are awfully hard to come up with. Zebras: ride the safari at Animal Kingdom first thing in the morning, the animals are usually out and the lines are shorter. Zyrtec: Make sure you remember to pack ALL of your medications. You don't want to arrive at Disney and need a medication you hardly every use but you left it at home. Zinnias: Stop and smell the roses, enjoy what you are doing, don't rush through everything.

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