What’s in my suitcase? My ULTIMATE Disney World packing list.

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Hey girl, what’s in your suitcase? Glad you asked! Have a peek at my ultimate Disney World packing list. I should note we love a road trip and usually drive to Disney World. This gives us a bit more space flexibility than if we are flying. I think this list works for both, but you may need to tailor it suit any luggage constraints.

  • Clothes – Let’s talk attire. What to wear at Disney World comes down to personal preference. More than likely it will be hot, and you’ll get wet. You should plan to wear clothes you know you find comfortable. For me that means a lot of dresses. I find them to be pleasant, breezy and cool. I will note, with skirts/dresses, you may want to be mindful of length. Shorter lengths can be challenging to for getting in and out of low attractions such as Test Track in Epcot. I will wear tanks and shorts too. Andy prefers shorts and sleeveless tees. He’ll wear t-shirts sometimes, but he’s usually happier in the men’s tanks. More athletic style wear helps to wick away sweat and moisture, and could be worth considering. But it’s all about what you think you’ll feel best in when it’s hot and humid. Plan for plenty of clothes! You may find yourself wanting to change during the day. We do! It’s amazing how refreshed it can make you feel.IMG_7147.jpg
  • Shoes – You will be walking. For miles, and miles, and miles. If you’re new to Disney World the amount of steps you take may surprise you. One of the things I SWEAR BY to keep my feet fresh is switching up my shoe game. I try not wear the same pair of shoes more than 2 days in a row. I recommend allotting a little extra suitcase space and bringing 2-4 pairs of shoes that you love. My favorite park shoes are Olukai Ohana flip flops. My husband likes those and Rainbows. I prefer to have my feet open, not enslaved in socks and shoes. Even still I will also wear a shoe like classic Keds, Converse Chuck Taylors, Toms, Vans, or a moderate athletic shoe every couple of days to keep my feet fresh. My parents are more comfortable in athletic shoes like Aasics or Nikes. My mom is trying out a pair of Allbirds this trip. You do you! But I do advise several pairs, and ones you have broken in, that you know are comfortable. Your trip to Disney world is not the time to experiment. Trust me on that.
  • Sunglasses – Obvious. I also like to bring an extra pair – just in case!DSC00182
  • Hat – I love to wear a hat in Disney World. It may seem anti-intuitive to put something on your head in the heat, but a hat (especially a fedora or wide-brimmed hat) helps to keep your face and neck shaded. I’m usually in a straw fedora.
  • Sunscreen – Choose your favorite and keep it at hand. It’s nice to have both lotion/spray and a stick for your face.
  • After Sun Lotion – I do my best to keep sunscreen/hat on to avoid need of this. But I believe that re-hydrating my skin after a day of Florida sun goes a long way to ward off burn and irritation. This is hands down my favorite post-sun lotion.
  • Ponchos – It’s probable you’ll encounter rain on your trip. Fortunately it doesn’t usually last long! In the summer months especially, a small storm or shower will pass through and then move along. Keeping a poncho with you to stay dry is really great. I find it miserable to get rained on and then walk around in hot, damp clothes waiting for them to dry in the Florida humidity.
  • Waterproof Mascara – Let’s talk make-up ladies. I don’t tend to wear a lot of make-up in Disney World. It’s hot, you sweat, and it just doesn’t hold. However, I don’t like to go anywhere without mascara. In Disney World I highly recommend switching to a waterproof mascara. (I’m giving this one a go this trip.) Between sweat, water elements, misters, pool time, it saves the day by keeping black from running down your face. The other thing I usually wear is a tinted moisturizer/sunscreen combo. It evens skin tone without being heavy.
  • Makeup Removal Wipes – Waterproof mascara is stubborn these help with removal before a face wash. They’re also great for cleaning your face before/after a trip to the pool.
  • Gold Bond/Glide – Hubby discovered the need for this on our honeymoon. This helps keep chaffing at bay. Gold bond makes a small travel bottle that would be perfect for the park bag to keep things fresh.
  • Portable External Charger – Disney World has a way of draining your cellphone battery. You use it to snap photos, check wait times, order food, and of course check in on social media. There are charging stations throughout Disney World, but I prefer to charge on the go. Something like this external charger (or this) is inexpensive, small, and lightweight. Perfect to slip in your park bag and juice up your phones when needed. Also don’t forget chargers and cables for any other electronics you’ll be packing.IMG_7152
  • Hand Sanitizer – Lots of people in Walt Disney World. A little hand sanitizer is handy in helping keep germs at bay when you’re on the go in the parks. Bath & Body works makes cute ones that clip on your bag to be at the ready.
  • Brita water bottles – *TIP* You can get a free cup of ice water in any counter service location at Disney World. Awesome. But when you’re thirsty in line, that doesn’t help. Purchasing bottled water in the parks adds up quickly. We like to bring filtered water bottles into the parks with us. The water at Disney World doesn’t taste all that great. (It’s gross, actually.) But these filtered water bottles take care of that so you can refill at any fountain and stay happily hydrated without breaking the bank.
  • Lysol spray – I touched on this in my last post. I like to have this on hand in the hotel to spray down surfaces to kick the germs. This is great to do with your park bag when you get back to the hotel too.
  • Clorox Wipes – I love Clorox Wipes. They’re handy for messes and sanitizing. What’s not to love?
  • Laundry Bag/Pop-up Hamper – It’s much nicer to be in a clean & tidy space. Providing a spot for your dirty clothes keeps the aesthetic a bit nicer and the mess down. All Disney hotels have a laundry facility. Should you chose to clean a load of clothes on a pool day, it makes dealing with that much easier.IMG_7141.jpg
  • Mickey/Character Gear – This may be a bit redundant, but don’t forget your favorite Disney shirt/watch/shoes/hat etc.
  • Swimsuit/Coverup – Disney World hotels have GREAT themed pools, most with water-slides and other bells and whistles. I wholeheartedly suggest you take advantage of them on your trip. Nowadays Disney has controlled hours of their pools with locked gates. But, when I was little my mom used to get up early and take me swimming before we hit the parks. I love those memories. There is also Typhoon Lagoon and Blizzard Beach if you want to hit a Disney water park. Disney provides the towels. Wahoo! You can skip packing those.
  • Ziploc Bags – These are useful for a multitude of things. I especially love them for holding wet clothes/items or to keep wet OFF of certain things. Don’t want your sunscreen to explode in your bag? Ziploc. Boom!IMG_6450.jpg
  • Laundry Pods – I usually pack a tupperwear container with 3-4 of these because I often end up doing a load or two of laundry. They don’t take up much space and it’s much cheaper than buying from your Disney hotel.
  • Tide To Go – This snazzy little “pen” is perfect for the hotel or park bag to keep any Mickey Premium Bar, ketchup, or the like from permanently staining clothes.
  • Lightweight sweater/sweatshirt – OK, now I know what you’re thinking. “This woman has lost her mind. She’s been doing nothing but talking about the heat and now she’s saying pack a sweatshirt?!” I won’t be dragging one around the park, but the air conditioning can be chilly inside in Disney World. Especially if you’re wet from the pool/sweat. In the evening post swim or what not it can be nice to toss on. I also like to make this a gift shop purchase from the resort where I’m staying. I have a zip sweatshirt from Animal Kingdom Lodge that I just adore and a pull-on hoodie from Wilderness Lodge that put me in the Disney state of mind in the winter.
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  • Snacks – I’m not huge on bringing food to Disney World, especially into the parks. It’s a great way to save cash, but I love to eat Disney chow when I’m there. It’s part of the experience. That being said, it’s nice to have a couple of your favorite options on hand in your hotel room. (And in your park bag for hangry if you have kids… or yourself…) If you’re considering bringing your own food/beverages into the parks just remember – no alcohol or glass is allowed. And be sure to bring things that aren’t going to melt on you.
  • Band-Aids + Neosporin – At times, despite our best efforts to wear our most wonderful shoes, we end up with blisters. Having these already packed is lifesaving. I especially like to have Band-Aid Hydro Seal Blister Heels in my bag in addition to an assortment of (Disney themed, of course!) regular Band-Aids.IMG_7151
  • Motrin IB/Advil/Tylenol – Whatever your favorite OTC pain reliever is, I would bring it along and keep it on you to fend off headaches and the like. I’d like to note that all of Disney’s parks have a great First Aid station where you can get bandages, ice packs, and OTC medications if you’re in need. (Hopefully you’ll have no need though!)
  • Cash – We never carry cash so I have make a note to get some before trips. (Perhaps I am speaking out of turn, but I find that younger generations frequently don’t carry it.) Making sure to have a cash allotment for tipping and whatnot is wise. There’s a safe in all Disney hotel rooms to stash any surplus or other valuables you may wish to secure.
  • Park Bag – You need a bag to take into the parks. Something comfortable and not too big! (Post on this upcoming!)
  • Glow bracelets – You can pick these up at your local dollar store or Target and they make a great special touch at night in the parks.

That’s it for my major hitters! Don’t forget the other things to pack that are more travel-general and less park-specific:

  • Chargers
  • Toiletries: nail trimmers, nail file, toothbrush, toothpaste & floss, face wash, moisturizer, deodorant (please!), razor etc.,
  • Make-up
  • Comb, brush, styling products, hair ties, headbands, bobby pins, etc.
  • ID, Insurance cards, discount cards, etc.
  • Feminine products

Looking to theme out your luggage? shopDisney has you covered with options.

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Did I forget anything?!? Let me know in the comments below.

See ya real soon!

 

The List… My WDW Vacation Prep Struggle

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Guys, I have a confession. I’m struggling! Normally I am so organized, excited, and filled with the planning spirit when I have an upcoming Walt Disney World trip. For me, the preparation is half of the fun. But I’m having a hard time with this upcoming trip.

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We are so busy. Life is good, but life is full. And this fullness is overwhelming my ability to think about this trip, let a lone plan. I’m particularly frustrated by this because it’s been a long time since we’ve visited and I’m clamoring to make the most of this trip – including the planning! Probably a foolish feeling, but since when are feelings always sensible?

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I’ve taken care of the essentials: making sure we have Fastpass+ and dining reservations. But beyond that? Oy.

I’ve hardly thought about it. My countdown calendar lacks daily attention. In fact, I’ve been lucky to get to it once a week.

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And honestly, I feel daunted by visiting with my toddler. How much will she be able to do? Will she enjoy herself? Will be she be tired and fearful? How do I prepare for taking her? Am I going to feel like a backpacker lugging around everything to meet her needs? Are we going to be able to enjoy it as a family? I know in my heart we will. But I’m definitely in unknown territory.

To combat my sort of nagging, back-of-the-mind wanderings I’ve taken to constructing lists. When my hubby reads this he’s going to say this is just an outlet for my OCD, control-centric personality tendencies. He’s probably right. But, it’s also a great way to start preparing and ensure I take everything I need – particularly related to my toddler. I’ve also found it to be a fun way to jot things down that I’m looking forward to, to help foster anticipation and excitement.

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So what’s on my random post-it list?

  • Sunscreen – Clearly needed in FL summer, but I gotta make sure to have toddler safe and convenient!
  • Ziploc bags – These are so handy. I always have a few in different sizes with me when I go to WDW.
  • Laundry bag – Much better than stuffing dirty clothes in a trash bag or tripping over them laying around the room.
  • Shoes – lol really? Of course we need shoes. Prime example of how my mind works. But my point was making sure to have enough appropriate footwear, and order more Olukai sandals if needed. And figure out little one’s shoes. I swear her feet grow every day. Actually, I think I’ll make my next post just about SHOES at Disney World! *Cue geeking out.*
  • Ponchos – It is very likely to thunderstorm/rain shower on our trip. I find it miserable to get wet and try to dry out in the FL humidity. I don’t like the way my clothes stick and feel heavy when wet.  While ponchos are widely available in WDW, they’re much cheaper to purchase from somewhere like Amazon.com, and pack.
  • Thermometer – This is something I don’t normally take, but having a toddler it’s probably good to have on hand.
  • Motrin – Both adult and children’s version. For adults, it’s great for the headache or just aches that may find you from walking MILES every day. For my little one, I’ll be comforted knowing I have something to help if a fever should happen to strike
  • Juice pouchesHonest Kids Juice Pouches are something I always take on vacation. They’re the perfect liquid treat for a road trip/WDW vacation without being loaded with sugar. The lemonade and fruit punch are my favorites.
  • Snack singles – I am not big on taking food/beverage into the parks, outside of a refillable water bottle. I know it’s a great way to save money. But I’m OK with paying a little extra for Disney yummies. Especially when that means I don’t have to tote it around. I do not like to lug things around the parks. I’m sort of a “bare essentials” gal. However, I’m aware I’m probably in for a change in that tide with a 2 year old. I’ve seen her hangry meltdowns. I don’t think a couple of goldfish cracker packs will take up too much room, and I will probably be grateful for them at some point.
  • Diapers  – I certainly don’t want to get stuck with a need for these.
  • Baby Wipes  – See above, but also perfect for wiping off Mickey Premium Bars from little hands.
  • Diaper Rash Cream – I don’t normally have a need for this, but I’m leaving nothing to chance with the heat and humidity of Florida.
  • Hand Sanitizer – I’m not sure I’ve ever taken this into the parks before. I’m not sure why not. I know the numbers of people moving through the park each day. And since I’ve turned mom, especially after this last terrible flu season, I’m a bit of a germaphobe. I will have plenty of this on hand.
  • Clorox Wipes – Not an item I’ll be taking into the parks, but certainly something that comes in handy around the hotel and in the car.
  • Lysol Sanitizing Spray – Again, for the hotel. I think generally Mousekeeping does a great job preparing Disney hotel rooms. But I don’t see any harm in spraying down surfaces to keep germs at bay. No one wants to be sick on vacation.

This is by no means a comprehensive packing list. (That is upcoming!) Just a few things that I stuck on a post-it note.

I began writing this post a couple of days ago. Since then, I’ve been feeling excited! I’ve made many more post-it lists and doodles. My mood has shifted. I’ve been able to imagine being there with my little one and seeing her wonder. I’ve had a blast compiling my lists and daydreaming about the trip. I think I’ll even catch up on the countdown calendar tonight…

See ya real soon!

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Bay Lake Tower Review

IMG_6708On our 2015 June trip we called Bay Lake Tower, or BLT, home. When first reading about Bay Lake Tower and seeing its acronym of BLT I put off. A BLT is my favorite summer sandwich of bacon, lettuce, and tomato. However, after a bit of soul searching I found there is room in my heart for BLT to stand for Bay Lake Tower AND bacon, lettuce and tomato. After all, both are wonderful.

BLT is a DVC resort, so it is a bit different from other WDW hotels. (More on that momentarily.) One of Bay Lake Tower’s major appeals is its proximity to the Magic Kingdom. MK is just a short, pleasant stroll away. Because of this BLT often has guests that are not DVC members. The price is high, and you have to be willing to pay, and some do shell out to be close to Magic Kingdom. In fact, Many of BLT’s rooms offer stunning views of Magic Kingdom. This is particularly charming at night as it offers you a view of Wishes, Magic Kingdom’s fireworks spectacular, right from your room. Fireworks in pajamas with no crowds? Not bad, eh?

Being a DVC resort, rooms at BLT are either Deluxe Studios (sleeps 4 adults), One Bedroom Villas (sleeps 5 adults), or Two Bedroom Villas (sleeps 9 adults). Studios include a kitchenette and single bathroom. One Bedroom Villas offer a full kitchen, one bedroom and one bathroom. Two Bedroom Villas offer a full kitchen, two bedrooms, and two bathrooms. Studios, One, and Two Bedroom Villas all come with a choice of theme park view, lake view, or standard view. Standard views are anything level 4 and below. Lake views offer bits of Bay Lake (which may also include the pool), and theme park views offer a view of Magic Kingdom.

We stayed in a Lake View Deluxe Studio. We were situated in a room that faced the Contemporary, where we could view its pool, and watch the Monorails come and go. We could watch the boats sweep across the lake in front of the Grand Floridian. And in the distance, we could see Epcot’s Spaceship Earth and Disney’s Hollywood Studios’ Tower of Terror. We could see the hot air balloon rise up from Downtown Disney. At night we were able to watch the fireworks of Epcot and Disney’s Hollywood Studios from our balcony, as well as the Electric Light Parade. We could even see bits of Magic Kingdom if we leaned forward and peered to the right. (A move for adults only, obviously.) We loved our view. It was varied and wonderful. We spent as much time as possible just enjoying the scenery from our balcony. If we were to go back, we’d be more than happy to have the same room and view all over again.

One thing that is important to understand about staying at Bay Lake Tower is that it essentially functions as a branch of Disney’s Contemporary Resort Hotel. In fact, BLT is  connected to The Contemporary via a Sky Bridge on the 5th floor. Because Bay Lake Tower is a DVC resort it does not have the usual plethora of amenities Disney Hotels usually boast. Not to worry! The Sky Bridge connection to The Contemporary his allows you ready access to its restaurants, bars, shops, room service, and Monorail access.  BLT and the Contemporary also share a bus stop, which is located between the two hotels.

While you need to walk to the Contemporary for use of a gym, restaurants, or bars, Bay Lake Tower does have wonderful outdoor recreation. There is a pool with a winding water slide, a kid splash area, and a whirlpool. The pool bar, named Cove Bar, offers up beer, wine, tropical cocktails, and an assortment of snacks. In an outdoor area in front of the pool entrance there are games set up such as corn hole, shuffleboard, and ping pong tables.

If for some reason you are unsatisfied with BLT’s outdoor offerings, you also can take the very short stroll to use The Contemporary’s pool. (We did for a water slide showdown! And in case you’re wondering – both are great. BLT’s is more twisting, whereas the Contemporary’s is more dipping with speed.)

This was our first time to stay at Bay Lake Tower, though we have spent just one night at The Contemporary. Bay Lake Tower is less themed than most other WDW hotels. For us, that was fine. We liked the minimal, contemporary feel. I think it would be less exciting for kids, but then again, you’re right next to the Magic Kingdom and that has its appeal. In fact, one day when walking on the Sky Bridge I saw a dad carrying a little dude about 2. He spotted Cinderella Castle in the distance and started saying “Dad! Dad!! I see Disney World! I see Disney World!!” Little man was pumped. It was awfully cute.

So, do we recommend it? Should you stay here? This I can only answer with, “well, it depends.” As I may have mentioned before, my parents are Disney Vacation Club (DVC) members. Since my parents are also awesome, they shared their points with us for this last trip. Otherwise, because of the cost, Bay Lake Tower would not be anywhere within our reach. If you are a DVC member, I absolutely 100% recommend it. We would be thrilled to stay there again. If you’re not a DVC member, then my recommendation comes less readily. If being close to Magic Kingdom is worth the cost to you – BLT is a wonderful experience. If, however, the idea of shelling out that kind of cash for a hotel makes you squirm – stay somewhere else. (On Walt Disney World’s property, of course!) While Bay Lake Tower was an amazing experience, other deluxe or moderate resorts make for better ways to spend your hard earned cash in equal comfort.

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Our June 2015 Disney World Trip Preview… Or, Kermit’s Many Adventures

IMG_6550Hi-ho, Kermit the Frog here! And there, and everywhere in Walt Disney World on our June 2015 vacation. We had a truly wonderful trip and I’ve been very anxious to tell you all about it!  After we got home I was feeling pretty good… for about a day. Then a serious case of the Post WDW Vacation Blues set in. You know, where ordinary life seems kinda dull and flavorless compared to life in “the happiest place on earth.” After a few days I was feeling more or less back to my regular self and turned my attention to blogging about our trip. I started by uploading all 40 GB worth of photos and the 13ish GB worth of video. A simultaneously daunting and diverting job. I’m still in process of sifting through and editing photos. And of course I will compile a video montage once I go through the video footage. (I’m very eager to make said montage!)

IMG_6458Because I have such a large amount of information and media to share with you I will break our trip down into days and cover one day at a time. Today is simply all about Kermit, who unknowingly became our trip mascot.

A couple weeks before our departure date I went to Walgreens for some birthday cards. While trolling the card aisle I noticed Kermit hanging on a small clearance display for a whopping $1.67. Naturally, I snatched him up. How could I resist??

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One night my husband gave him an impromptu setting. The idea just kinda took with us and every few days one of us would randomly create a little Kermit scene. (Some certainly had our dog’s interest piqued.)

I had no real plans for bringing Kermie along on our trip. But somehow it didn’t seem right to leave him behind and I grabbed him as we headed out the door. My very clever mum, who had been privy to our Kermit antics, suggested we tote him around the parks and create WDW-Kermit photo scenes.

Lo and behold, our trip became full of Kermit. Actually, it’s one of the more entertaining things we’ve done on a WDW trip. Adults and kids alike would exclaim “Oo! Kermit!” and many enjoyable conversations often followed such a comment.

As I report on each day of our trip I’ll share the many adventures of Kermit the Frog. He even made his own photo passport of sorts in the Epcot World Showcase.

But, let’s go back to the beginning. We traveled to Walt Disney World via car trip, and Kermit was a goofy passenger…

IMG_6474 DSC00076 DSC00096We all wore bracelets that I made during the car ride…IMG_6483He made himself at home at Bay Lake Tower…IMG_6492 IMG_6493 IMG_6551And traveled to the parks in style…

DSC00627 IMG_6499 DSC00216There was even a dance party on the Monorail…DSC00898 DSC00895 After all, it isn’t easy being green!

More is soon to come! See ya next time!

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Disney’s Hollywood Studios Can’t Miss List

DSC_0528Glitz and glamor. Action and adventure. Disney’s Hollywood Studios gives you old school Hollywood paired with thrills.There is much to love about this park – starting with its charm. Right when you walk into Disney’s Hollywood Studios and stroll down Hollywood Boulevard you’re transported to the golden era of Hollywood.

No matter your age or what you like to do, you’ll find something of interest here. There are thrill rides, live stage and stunt shows, insights to Walt Disney and animation, spectacular eats, and one awesome nighttime stage show. While I love the scenery and atmosphere of this park, I am split on the attractions. There are attractions I love to visit here and ones I’m OK with skipping. For me, this park doesn’t require more than a day.

Need a stroller? You'll find it here at Oscar's.

Need a stroller, wheelchair, or electric vehicle? You’ll find it here at Oscar’s Super Service.

Disney’s Hollywood Studios is not a large park, compared to Epcot and Animal Kingdom. But it does pack a punch in theming. As you are walking around, take time to look – this park has wonderful scenic details.

So, without further ado…

The Walt Disney World Blog’s 2015 Disney’s Hollywood Studios Can’t Miss List:

(by area) Hollywood Boulevard and Echo Lake, Sunset Boulevard, Streets of America and Commissary Lane, Pixar Place, Mickey Avenue, and Animation Courtyard.

* “Super Favorites” – Things we always do at least twice.

  • The Great Movie Ride – Head inside the Chinese Theatre for this gem that takes a look at classic films. This tram ride is about 20 minutes long – which is a nice way to cool off and relax while you take in some film history. At the end there’s a movie montage on a huge screen, which is my favorite part. This ride fascinated me as a kid. Personally, now I think its due for an overhaul. But even with that being said, it makes my list.
  • DSC_0842Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular – Looking for some insight on how Hollywood does special effects? Scenes from Indiana Jones are reenacted to show you stunts that include plenty of pyrotechnics. Want to be part of the fun? This show also includes a few audience volunteers. They don’t take many so you should arrive early for a chance to be part of the action.
  • Star Tours – The Adventures Continue * – Star Wars fans will adore this 3D flight simulation attraction that includes all of your favorite characters. Even the queue for this ride is entertaining. A few years ago Disney overhauled this attraction and gave it some mega upgrades – including the 3D technology. The other big change came by Disney gaving the ride over 50 story combinations. This means you can visit this attraction many times and enjoy a different experience each time.
  • DSC_0419Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster * – As I’m sure you know, I LOVE roller coasters and this is one of my all time favorites. After visiting Aerosmith’s studio you snag a “limo” to catch their concert. This limo takes you from 0 to 60 in no time, loops you upside down and in a corkscrew, all in a dimmed, neon atmosphere. And the best part? You’ll be rocking out to Aerosmith’s music the entire time.
  • DSC_0415The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror * – Check into this hotel that is frozen in 1939 for a wild elevator ride. The lobby is dusty, full of cobwebs and dead plants. Creeping bellhops will escort you to the basement so you can take the service elevator. After boarding the elevator you’ll enter the 5th dimension and the fun really begins. The elevator has a 13 story drop that is on a randomized sequence. You never know if you’re going up or down first. But I assure you – you will drop down. And you’ll love every heart pulsing, palm sweating second.
  • Fantasmic! – This stage based nighttime spectacular is formed around Mickey’s dreams. Hosted in a large amphitheater, the show includes fireworks, lasers, and water special effects. The show is 30 minutes long and every second is entertaining. If you do not have FastPass+ or a Fantasmic! Dining Package, plan to get in line early to ensure you get a seat.
  • Muppet Vision 3D * – This was the second 3D show to join the WDW ranks, following Epcot’s Captain EO. By our standards today, the 3D technology is very dated. But the story, wrapped around all of the Muppet greats, is quite loveable. While you’re waiting to enter the theater there is a pre-show (not 3D) that I’ve always loved. I may even have been known to quote from it. We never miss this one on a trip to Disney’s Hollywood Studios.
  • Pizza Planet Arcade – If you enjoy pizza and you are a Toy Story fan – this is your dining spot! This Quick Service spot resembles the Pizza Planet arcade in Toy Story from the logo to the decor. If you want to beat the heat, there is ample seating inside. Seating outside offers tables with cheery, red umbrellas and views of The Muppets fountain. The menu, offering a variety of single serve pizzas paired with cesar salads is simple, but delicious. Meatball subs are also available. This is one of our favorite lunch spots at Disney’s Hollywood Studios.
  • Honey, I Shrunk the Kids Movie Set Adventure – This is an attraction especially geared for young ones. Stepping inside makes you feel as though you were bug sized and hanging out in a back yard. Mingle among giant blades of grass, climb a spider web, or slide down an over-sized branch. Music and sound effects help bring the set to life.
  • Toy Story ManiaToy Story Mania * – This is one of my favorite attractions in all of Walt Disney World. It’s an exciting combination of ride, games, 3D technology, and beloved Toy Story characters. After stepping into a car and donning 3D glasses, you whiz through a series of carnival style games such as balloon pop and ring toss hosted by Toy Story characters. This attraction has proved immensely popular with guests. So much so, in fact, that they are building another track for the ride. (Frequent WDW visitors all rejoice!) This is definitely an attraction you will want to visit, at least once. If you can, make sure to make a FastPass+ reservation for it. Try going early in the day or during parade or Fantasmic! times for a lower stand-by wait.
  • Walt Disney: One Man’s Dream – This attraction isn’t one of thrills and chills, but it is informative and full of neat models and information. Walk yourself through a gallery of Walt Disney history that includes models, sketches, and memorabilia that includes a peak inside Walt’s office. You can also view a 15 minute film in a small theater, hosted by Julie Andrews offering a glimpse of Walt Disney’s life. One of the great things about this attraction is you can move around at your own pace, making it last as long as you wish.

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The Magic Kingdom “Can’t Miss” List

Sometimes, when we are in the car, Hubs and I play a game where we propose hypothetical scenarios and we ask the other to respond. Usually it goes something like this:

Husband: “We’ve just arrived at Disney World! Where are we going first?”
Me: “Hmmmm… I’m feeling Epcot today.”
Husband: “Excellent selection. What is the first thing we are going to do?”
Me: “Straight up classic – Spaceship Earth.”

The answers vary depending on our mood. Often the answers involve Epcot or Magic Kingdom. Probably 95% of the time often.

Epcot DayIn my last post I discussed finding a perfect WDW vacation balance. For me, that involves my favorites mixed with unfamiliar delights and some relaxation. It’s hard to fit in all of the attractions, in every park during one vacation. So how do you choose? What you decided to do will depend on your time, interests, if you’re traveling with kids, weather, FastPasses, etc.

I started my “can’t miss” Walt Disney World attraction list. It’s kinda long… What can I say? I have a lot of favorites. So I’ve broken it down by park starting with Magic Kingdom. The list includes attractions, snacks and quick service food. (Table Service dining is excluded because they can act as whole blog posts.) I’ve given a brief note about why each has made the list. Attractions with an asterisks are super favorites. Since I totally made that up, I’ll qualify it with a definition:

Super favorite, noun, a Walt Disney World attraction/food that can not be missed on a park visit and will mostly likely be visited multiple times during a trip.

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The Walt Disney World Blog 2015 “Can’t Miss” Attraction List:

Magic Kingdom

(By land) Adventureland, Frontierland, Liberty Square, New Fantasyland, Tomorrowland, Main Street USA

  • Pirates of the Caribbean * – Set sail with the pirates? Yes, please. This is usually our first Magic Kingdom stop. And that brings us too….
  • Aloha Isle – Dole whip? Yes, yes, and yes again. I like my pineapple, in a cup, no juice please. Whip is perfect on its own.
  • Jungle Cruise – It’s corny and classic. There is nothing fast or feverish about this attraction, but it makes us chuckle. 
  • Enchanted Tiki Room – The audio-animatroics for the Disneyland version of this attraction were among the first that Disney designed. There is a simulated thunderstorm in the middle of this attraction and when I was a little girl I was never quite sure if it was real or not. Once we exited the theater and I saw the hot, dry pavement I knew it wasn’t real.
  • Tortuga Tavern Code of ConductTortuga Tavern – Tasty Mexican food such as taco salads and burritos with a pirate theme. There is even a code of conduct written in pirate speak. Arr!
  • Splash Mountain * – Br’er Rabbit, Br’er Bear, and Br’er Fox make this log ride full of charm. This ride is over 10 minutes long, making it one of the longest in Magic Kingdom.
  • Big Thunder Mountain Railroad * – The wildest ride in the wilderness is a family favorite. We like to ride it during the day and then again at night where it takes on a new feel.
  • Pecos Bill Tall Tale Inn & Cafe – Awesome taco salads and burgers,
  • Haunted Mansion * Delightfully creepy any time of the year. Hubs and I always find this a fun one to day late on Extra Magic Hour nights at MK.
  • it’s a small world – I won’t lie, this one does not make my husband’s “can’t miss” list. In fact, it’s more on his “I really don’t like it, but I’ll go once to make my wife happy.” But I like it. I love the costumes and I do not find the song irritating in the least.
  • Peter Pan’s Flight – A brand new interactive queue was just introduced to this attraction. The standby time is often long for this ride so it’s a good one to FastPass. Peter Pan is one of my favorite Disney movies and this is like flying through the film.
  • Mickey’s Philarmagic * – I love everything about Mickey’s Philarmagic. It blends Mickey, Minnie, Donald, and Goofy seamlessly with scenes from Disney films like The Little Mermaid, The Lion King, Alladin, and Beauty and the Beast.
  • The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh – I think this ride is adorable. Everything from the queue of Whinnie the Pooh book pages to the little hunny pot you ride in to the part where your hunny pot bounces like Tigger. This is a must for little ones.
  • Mad Tea Party * – I love to spin, so this is a winner for me. Bring on the twirling! My mom does NOT feel that way. She won’t go anywhere near this ride. Ever. I’m sure she’s not alone. If spinning of whirling motion is not your thing, watch and wave while other go ’round.
  • Seven Dwarfs Mine Train – I have only been on this new attraction once. On our last trip this ride had just opened and they were clearly still working out issues. On two different days during our trip the ride was closed for hours. We were pretty annoyed. Our first impressions of the ride itself were positive, though the ride seemed as though it was over in a flash. I hope we get a chance to experience it a couple of times this summer so we can really get a sense of it.
  • Under the Sea – Journey of the Little Mermaid – The queue for this ride is gorgeous. Actually, the castle and everything from the exterior is stunning as well. We only had the chance to ride this once on our last trip, and that was our first time. Overall, I found this ride disappointing. I think it was the style of the audio-animatronics. I do remember being distinctly impressed by the Ursala portion of the ride. I told my husband that it would’ve spooked the pants off of me as a little girl. But I love the queue, and I love the little mermaid. So this gets a second chance this June.
  • Dumbo the Flying Elephant – The re-imagining of this attraction was brilliant. I love the entire set up and all of the themeing and detailing that Disney does so well. And the splash zone they set up? Love at first sight.
  • Space Mountain * – This was one of my first roller coaster experiences. I loved it then and I love it now. This coaster rattles and it’s a little rough compared to so many coasters now, but I think that’s fun. Add space sound effects and subtract the light to imitate space and you’ve got a great ride.
  • Carousel of Progress This was one of Walt Disney’s original attractions. It’s vintage but a classic for me. 
  • Tomorrowland Transit Authority PeopleMover * – Just kick back and relax for a few on this one. There is nothing crazy about this ride. But, it’s just a opportunity to unwind and take in some great Magic Kingdom views from an elevated perspective.
  • Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin – Buzz Lightyear has enlisted your help! Climb aboard and aid him in defeating the evil Emperor Zurg with your marksman skills.
  • Monsters, Inc. Laugh Floor  – If you like a good chuckle don’t miss this one with the Monsters, Inc. gang. This attraction is audience interactive, which gives it a new twist every time you visit. If you have a favorite joke you can even text it in and it may appear in the show.
  • Walt Disney World Railroad  This is great for traveling from Frontierland to Main Street or to get to Fantasyland from either of those two. We like to just get on and ride the full loop. It’s fun and a good way to relax.
  • Casey’s Corner – So this is a little funny. In my day to day life I don’t eat much meat. Irregardless, I LOVE hot dogs. Piping hot with ketchup only please. (And maybe a small sprinkling of raw onions.) Casey’s Corner brings you some awesome hot dogs with a baseball theme. Yum. Oh, and often there is a ragtime piano player on the porch. Need I say more?

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Finding the Perfect Disney World Vacation Balance

IMG_3152I am a creature of habit. I like a routine and if I find something that works I tend to stick to it. This is also true of my Walt Disney World vacations. I have resort hotels I really love, and attractions I can’t miss, and treats I must eat. (Ahem, Dole whip!!) And when in WDW I will go to any length to fit it all in. (My husband was entirely unprepared for this on our first trip together.)

As I mentioned yesterday in my Pack Like A Pro post, my cousin just honeymooned in WDW and I made this list of my “must see” attractions for her. It occurred me as we were talking about attractions and dining, that in my two recent trips I have focused on the things that I love to do and sort of dismissed things that didn’t fall into that category. Several times I said, “Well, I haven’t done that in a few trips, but I remember enjoying it.”

I am certain I can’t be the only person in this boat. Disney World is so massive, and offers so much to to do. You only have so much time when you’re there, and you feel this pressure to do the things you know you love because once you leave it’ll likely be a while before you go back. Sound familiar to anyone?

This repetition pattern is especially true for dining. Typically we only have one table service meal per day. We have spots that we really love to dine and so we repeat locations. Do we enjoy our meals? Absolutely. But trying a new restaurant is fun – and at Disney World it will probably be delicious.

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Peter Pan’s Flight was a 1st time experience for Hubs last June.

On our last trip, we did a better job of having a more balanced vacation. We enjoyed a little relaxation and did lots of swimming. We fit in attractions that we missed the trip before and all of our favorites. In our upcoming trip in June, Hubs and I have a new motto: balance what we love with “new” experiences. Let’s qualify “new.” New will be something neither of us has experienced, something one of us hasn’t experienced, or something we didn’t do in our last two trips.

IMG_3775For us, barring favored Les Chefs de France, all of our table service restaurants will be “new.” We are staying at Bay Lake Tower, which will be a brand new experience for both of us. We have a short list of attractions that we have not done together that we are going to try to hit. Additionally, to my husbands fervent delight, we have scheduled a day where we will not be going into a park. If you can manage it, a day away from the parks to rest and relax by the pool or whatnot is a great choice. You’ll be better refreshed and able to enjoy your vacation.

In the next few days I will be sharing my list of “can’t miss” favorite attractions, and I can assure you we will try to squeeze all of those in. (Our favorites list is plentiful.) But I think we are on our way to a more balanced Walt Disney World vacation that will leave both us feeling very joyful.

Ultimately everyone will have their own idea of a perfectly balanced Walt Disney World vacation. But for us, the perfect balance looks like this: our “must see” favorites mingled with new experiences and a little relaxation.

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Packing Like A Pro For Walt Disney World

IMG_5470Today my friends, is a gift. I mean, all days we have on this earth are gifts, but today is a snow day! As a teacher, a day where school is cancelled and you get a few precious hours at home to catch up on life, is wonderful. So here I am with my little diet coke and my happy place Mickey straw.

I always find myself looking at a huge gap in my posts wondering how it got to be so long since my last check in. The school year certainly proves to be the biggest time thief, but recently I have had another task at hand. My brother is getting married in April and I’ve been working on making invitations for their wedding. Those got sent out over the weekend and so now I have a rare extra bit of free time. Speaking of weddings, my gorgeous cousin got married over the weekend too. Yay! Her new husband booked their honeymoon at Disney World as a surprise, and that’s where they currently are. Eek! And I’m so happy for them! I know that right now as I’m typing up this post with frozen sidewalks outside my window, I know that they are having a blast in the pleasant 65 degree WDW weather. (I might also be a teensy bit jealous.)

IMG_2932Knowing we are Disney World fiends, my cousin called for some tips on her upcoming honeymoon. She only found out about the trip a couple weeks before their big day and she wanted to plan to get the most of her time. She raised some great questions, mostly about dining. But I ended up writing her an email about a few things she might want to pack and what attractions are on our “can’t miss” list. Dining and attractions are big topics, so let’s tuck them away for another day. But, what to pack? That’s doable.

Packing smartly for Walt Disney World can make a significant difference in the quality of your trip. If you’ve never been before, or like my cousin you haven’t been since you were little and mom did your packing, you may not realize everything you may need.

  • Clothes – OK, obviously you need clothes. Check the weather before you go to determine what kind of temps you’ll be facing. Pack enough clothes to be able to change once a day. This is especially true if you’re going in the summer. It’s hot and you will sweat. There is nothing better than going back to your hotel to shower and get fresh clothes on after a particularly hot day in the parks before dinner. Or in the afternoon after a swim at your hotel pool. Or whatever it may be. If you’re not going in the summer, pack clothes you can layer. The temperatures can fluctuate day by day, and mornings can be cool while afternoons heat up. Don’t forget your favorite Disney gear while you’re choosing your clothes!
  • Shoes – Now, you may be tempted to save suitcase room and minimize your shoe count, especially if you’re flying. Luggage rates don’t seem to be dropping. BUT MAKE ROOM because shoes are key. Walt Disney World is huge, and you will walk miles, most likely daily, when there. And you will stand, and stand some more. I like to pack a pair or two of nice flip flops that have support (like Rainbows, Merrills, or Oluai Ohanas), and a of pair of sneakers. Three pairs of shoes may sound excessive, but I’ve found that switching shoes every day or two will save your feet from aching as much.
  • Swimsuit – Disney has awesome pools and water parks. Hubs and I tend to swim almost every day so I bring two suits for both of us so we can alternate.
  • Sunglasses/Hat – Protect your eyes and face from the sun. I don’t tend to wear a hat, but both Hubs and my Dad do.
  • Ziplock Bags – Bring a few sandwich, quart, and gallon ziplock bags. They just come in handy. They’re great for your toiletries, or to make an ice pack, or to keep a wet swimsuit isolated. (Many a time on our last day I’ve just had to squeeze in one more dip in the pool. Then I’m faced with a wet swimsuit to put in my suitcase. Gallon bag to the rescue!) Our family also tends to pack a garbage bag or two for dirty clothes. A pop-up hamper like the ones for college dorms are also great for that task.
  • First Aid Kit – Make your own or grab a pre-made version. I suggest including band-aids, neosporin, benadryl, Ib preufin (or other favorite headache medicine), your choice remedy for upset stomach, and rubbing alcohol.
  • Gold Bond Powder – As we’ve established, Disney World includes lots of walking and sweating. This helps keep chafing down. I’ve also heard Body Glide is great.
  • Sunscreen – This may seem like a no brainer, Florida sun = need for sunscreen. But it’s easy to get distracted at Disney World as you go in and out of attractions and forget about it. Trust us, it’s needed. In fact, I got lightly burnt in Magic Kingdom a couple of days before my wedding. Thanks be for aloe. That’s not a bad item to toss into your bag either.
  • Ponchos – Rain is a very likely happening on your trip to WDW. January – April tends to have 2-3 inches per month. May – just shy of 4 inches. June is typically the rainiest month with over 7 inches on average. July – September average about 6 inches per month. During October – December the average drops back down to 2-3 inches a month. Rain, especially in the summer is brief. It clouds up, pours, then steams away. Having a poncho to whip out will keep you dry and let you move on with your day mostly uninterrupted. I hate getting wet and then drying out slowly as I walk around the park. You will find very cute Mickey ponchos in many, many shops in Walt Disney World. We have ones that we bought years ago and that go with us on our trips. If you don’t own any, you can pick them up before your trip at Target, or somewhere similar for a better price.
  • H2O – Water can be life saving at WDW, especially in summertime. Are there water fountains all over Disney World? Yup. But I’m not going to lie, the water is gross. It does not taste good – at all. A bottle of water in the parks can cost $3-4. Buying a case of bottled water before you go will allow you to save substantially. We usually take two large bottles into the park with us every time we go to a park. I have not tried these, but I have read that the Brita Sport Water Filter Bottles are great. Many people have used them in the parks and claim they nip the nasty taste of the WDW water. I think we may try these on our June trip.
  • Snacks – As with water, bringing your own snacks into the parks can save you lots of cash. Disney allows you to bring food and drink into the park. They do not allow glass, alcoholic beverages, or coolers however. Remember is hot so you don’t want to bring something that can spoil or melt.
  • Adult Beverages –  A cold beer in the afternoon before a dip in the pool is mighty refreshing. Bringing your own alcohol can be another money-saver.
  • Cameras and Tech Gadgets – I am usually manning my video camera in the parks while Hubs usually has a camera for pics. We both also tend to use our cell phones for photos. Make sure you’ve got all of the corresponding cords and chargers!
  • Magic Bands – Once customized on My Disney Experience these are usually shipped to you about a month before your trip. Don’t forget ’em!
  • Park Bag – Make sure to bring along a small backpack or your other favorite bag to take into the parks. In our park bag we always have our camera gear for the day, water, sunscreen, a snack or two, ponchos, and a mini first aid kit.
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Hubs is ready with Shades and a Camera.

 

OK, now I’m really ready to go! Obviously I didn’t include things for kids in here as we don’t have any of those yet. However, I have heard that Tide Pens/wipes, sippy cups, change for the penny press machines, and glow bracelets/necklaces are great additions for little dudes.

June 2014 Video Montage

Once upon a time, when I was a little girl, my family took vacations to Walt Disney World. We always drove and the trip would take 18 hours of drive time on average. Good ol’ dad always documented these trips. (Mum usually did/does most of the driving.) The old school version of good ol’ dad’s documentations included a very large, black video camera that rested on one shoulder while filming and video casette tapes. Yikes! Talk about the Carousel of Progress…

While filming, part of good ol’ dad’s routine was acting as if he was reporting in for a news station – “WDW T.R.I.P.” This little routine has stuck around in my family for a lot of years. When my husband and I got married in Disney World in 2012, my parents gave us a video camera and passed the baton to me. As a point of interest, this camera fits in the palm of my hand. So when you hear me checking in with WDW T.R.I.P. know that it’s a time honored tradition.

And so without further ado, I present the Walt Disney World Blog June 2014 Video Montage! I hope you enjoy.

W. T. D. W. – It’s A Small World at Magic Kingdom

This week, WHAT TO DO WEDNESDAY is going to one of the Magic Kingdom’s original, classic attractions: It’s a Small World.

Happiest Cruise that Ever SailedThis popular attraction and its accompanying tune are no strangers to most people. However, you may not know the original attraction dates back to the 1964 New York World’s Fair. The first version was created by Walt Disney as a kinetic sculpture installment for the UNICEF pavilion of the World’s Fair. An interesting aside, this was also when Disney piloted The Carousel of Progress and Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln, now known as The Hall of Presidents.

The original installment at the World’s Fair had no trouble gaining regard, leading to Disneyland’s full ride version which opened in 1966. When the Magic Kingdom opened at Walt Disney World in 1971, It’s a Small World found a second home in Fantasyland.

Small WorldAs you enter the queue for the attraction, there is a glittering white scene featuring a large clock tower. The smiling face of the clock sways back and forth. Every fifteen minutes, the clock tower jumps to life and opens up, revealing the time. Not everyone knows this, and I confess that it was years before I saw it for myself. It’s fun to watch while you’re in the queue.

DSC01701DSCF1602For those who aren’t familiar with it, here’s the rundown of the ride: At the end of the queue you board a boat and set sail at a very leisurely pace. The boat makes its way through one large, colorful room at a time. Audio-animatronic dolls of children dance, twirl, skate, and play instruments. They are elaborately garbed in costumes representing various nations of the world. The sets are vibrant and alive with movement. The music makes stylistic changes to showcase the culture on display as the boat progresses and the lyrics are sung in different languages. In the last segment of the ride, all nations are presented together decked out in a monochromatic color palette. Lastly, as your boat heads to offload, you see “goodbye” written in a variety of languages.

Small World HulaDSC00972 DSC00978I love this attraction. My husband doesn’t feel similarly, and I know others who feel as he does. But no offense to them – I just don’t think they get it. This ride is absolutely gorgeous and ornately detailed. The scenery and costumes are elaborate and rich, with bright color everywhere. Everything is in motion, turning and twisting and I find that so visually pleasing. I’m sure part of my love for this attraction comes from my feminine admiration of the dolls. When I was a little girl I used to play a game with myself pretending I could select one doll to take home. I would search for the perfect doll all through the ride, and day dream about the choice throughout the day. But I was never quite able to make a decision from among my favorites, and still can not. I know for my husband, it’s the music that gets on his nerves. The repetition drives him bonkers. I enjoy it. I think it’s charming and joyful, so the repetition doesn’t bother me.

A great perk of this attraction is that even on crowded days the wait time usually isn’t too long. The line always looks worse than it is because of how the queue zig-zags, but it usually moves steadily.

All in all, It’s a Small World is always a must see for me, frequently more than once. (Though my husband vows he’ll no longer go on it. Guess I’ll be a single rider, or looking for a new ride partner!) It’s a classic attraction with an always pertinent message. Kids love it – and so do adults who know how to have fun.

Thanks for checking in. See you next week!

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