September 23, 2015

10 Tips for Walt Disney World

It can be very overwhelming when you are planning a Walt Disney World vacation. I thought I would make it a little easier on you to put together some things that are important to know when heading to the Happiest Place on Earth!

Monorail

  1. Wear running shoes.
    Trust me on this one. I have done Disney World in flip flops, and my back was KILLING me after one day. Wear comfortable running shoes (or sandals) that have support and are broken in. You don’t want to waste time during your vacation stopping to apply bandaids and with your feet hurting the whole time!
  2. Bring a water bottle.
    It gets hot in Florida, and you are going to be walking a ton, and need to stay hydrated! I always like to bring a water bottle with me because I don’t like the taste of Dasani water, and to save time. There are water fountains all around the parks, which makes it really easy. As I have said before here, I like to carry a backpack around the parks with a water bottle and other extras.
  3. Take a break.
    Going to the parks all day every day is exhausting. Make sure to take it easy at some point. I like to take a break during the busiest part of the day, or sleep in one morning. If you are travelling with kids, they are definitely going to need to take a break. While they are napping, you could take a nap yourself, or even just relax for a few hours. When you head back to the parks you will feel refreshed and ready to go!
  4. Take Advantage of Fastpass +
    No one likes to wait in line! Take advantage of the Fastpass+ service and skip the long lines! I will be doing a post very soon that goes into detail about this service, so make sure to keep an eye out for it!

    Rock n' Rollercoaster

    You’ll want a Fastpass+ for this one!

  5. Plan ahead.
    One does not simply walk into the Magic Kingdom without a plan. If you are planning a trip to Walt Disney World, you need to be organized. I like to take advantage of Extra Magic Hours (hours where the park opens early or stays open late for guests staying at Disney Resort Hotels) and plan my trip around these hours. I will generally go to the park that has Extra Magic Hours. Some people don’t like to do this because they think the parks are busier during these times and on these days, but I haven’t found that to be true.
  6. Know what you want to do, and what you could skip.
    It’s important to set expectations when travelling somewhere where there are so many things to do. I exaggerated that on my last trip by making a list, but as long as you know the things that you really want to do and make sure you do them, you should be happy. Especially if you are travelling with a larger party, if everyone picks a couple things that they would like to do, no one will be disappointed.
  7. Download the App.
    Yes, there’s an app for that! The My Disney Experience App is pretty awesome, so I did a whole post about it! You can check that out here. I found it to be a really helpful tool in the parks, and would highly recommend it!Harper's Mill
  8. Get to the parks early!
    I absolutely cannot stress this point enough! The first few hours of the park are the least busy and the most valuable! You can get more done in the first few hours than in the rest of the day. If you can do it, you really should. If you make it to the park early, make sure to take a break! (See point #3).
  9. Make dining reservations in advance.
    Nothing is more annoying than waiting to be seated at a restaurant while other parties are seated before you. If you are having a meal at a sit down restaurant, make your reservations in advance. You will be seated faster and it really won’t take that much time out of your day! I like to have one sit down meal a day just to slow down a little, and I love looking forward to eating at certain restaurants that I know I have a reservation for.
  10. Remember that it’s a vacation, and have fun!
    At the end of the day, this trip is a vacation, so don’t let the number of things to see stress you out! Don’t forget to take your breaks and relax a little. Walt Disney World isn’t going anywhere anytime soon, so you can always go back! (Trust me, after you go once, you’ll NEED to go back).Animal Kingdom Waterfall

I hope these 10 tips have been helpful and can make your Disney trip better!

Have you been to Disney World before? Do you have any tips for someone heading to Walt Disney World for the first time? Let me know in the comments! (Bonus points to anyone who knows where the last two pictures are from! Hint: there is one picture from every park in this post!)

Thanks for reading!

Kelsey
September 16, 2015

What I Love About Downtown Disney

Downtown Disney is currently undergoing a huge transformation, a transformation into Disney Springs. If you don’t know what Downtown Disney is, it’s a shopping area in Walt Disney World. There are a lot of specialty stores, restaurants, and even Cirque du Soleil. It’s a great place to spend an afternoon and evening. For the purpose of this post, I’m going to call the area Downtown Disney, because I haven’t been to Disney Springs as it is now (and it isn’t completed yet). Now on to what I love:

World of Disney

I usually do a souvenir haul at the World of Disney, because it’s the largest  Disney Store! If you are staying at a Disney resort hotel, you can even have your stuff delivered to your room, or hotel gift shop! Trust me, you’ll want to take advantage of that. It’s organized into “rooms”, (seriously, that’s how big it is), so you can easily find what you are looking for. I love the one stop shopping of this store, and like to go in once a trip just to see everything.

Be warned though… if you see something in this store and say “Oh I like that, but I’m sure it will be somewhere else so I can grab it later”, that might not be the case. On my trip in February I found this Minnie dress that my sister would have loved, and didn’t grab it the day I was at Downtown Disney. So I looked in what felt like every store at every park, and couldn’t find it. So on our last day a couple hours before we had to be back at Caribbean Beach for the Magical Express, we headed back to Downtown Disney. Yes, I had to say goodbye to Magic Kingdom early *sniff* to get that dress for my sister. (You’re welcome Alex!). It was a little rushed and hectic, but it was worth it to see the smile on her face when I brought it home. Moral of the story… if you want it, buy it! Just don’t go too overboard.

This store also has a special place in my heart, because on my trip with my music department in high school, my choir performed on the stage right outside this store. (Yes we performed the first day and got to explore the rest of the parks and Typhoon Lagoon for 5 days… it was AWESOME.)

It's Stitch! Watch out, he spits! (picture from WDW website)

It’s Stitch! Watch out, he spits! (picture from WDW website)

Raglan Road

This restaurant is so much fun! Ethan and I went here on our last trip, and would definitely go back. The food was some of the best we had on our trip, and the environment is electric. Irish dancers go up on the tables, and you can’t help but cheer! I got to enjoy my Irish roots for a night, and loved every minute of it. Our server was great. I seriously can’t recommend this place enough. If you are planning to go, make a reservation on the Walt Disney World website in advance. There was a line up to get in, and I’m sure there was a wait to get a table as a walk up.

This is the inside of Raglan Road... seriously eat here! (picture from WDW website)

This is the inside of Raglan Road… seriously eat here! (picture from WDW website)

 

La Nouba

It’s a splurge, but if you ever get a chance to see it, it is worth it! La Nouba was Ethan’s birthday present on our 2013 trip. La Nouba can only be seen in Walt Disney World, and is a great way to spend a night. I’m not kidding… the couple who sat beside us had already seen the show 3 times! It’s nice to change it up when you are at the parks late every night, and whether it’s a dinner show or Cirque, it’s definitely something to consider! If you don’t know where it is, just look for the giant white Cirque du Soleil tent.

 

The Environment

I can’t put my finger on it, but I love the feeling at Downtown Disney. It’s such a different pace than the parks, and you can just wander around for an afternoon. The water is calming, and there are always different street performers. One of my favourite things to do is sit with Ethan on the benches by the water and watch the Hot Air balloon go up and down,  and the boats travel by. It’s so nice to just slow down when you’ve been going non-stop in the parks, even if just for a little bit.

This was back in 2013, sitting and relaxing

This was back in 2013, sitting and relaxing

 

The Number of Options

I feel like every time I go to Downtown Disney I try something different. There are so many dining options, (and so many new ones coming) that it will be a while before I try everything. There are a lot of new specialty stores opening as well, so it’s always nice to look at those shops as well. Some of my favourite things to buy are things from Disney World that don’t scream Disney. You’d be able to find a lot of these items at Downtown Disney I’m sure. It’s always fun to take something home and use it, knowing where it came from even though others might not. Kind of like a secret. But on the other hand, I like things that scream Disney too. Have you seen the backpack I got on my last trip? I love it.

I will someday go in that hot air balloon!

 

 

What else do I love? I Love Epcot, Magic Kingdom, Hollywood Studios, Animal Kingdom and Walt Disney World!

What do you love about Downtown Disney? Do you always visit? Let me know in the comments!

Thanks for reading!

Kelsey
September 9, 2015

They Have Water Parks Too?!

Yes, yes they do. Believe me, Walt Disney World has thought of everything. Walt Disney World is home to two wonderful water parks: Blizzard Beach and Typhoon Lagoon. How do you get tickets? Is it worth it to visit them? I will answer those questions and more! Both have a lazy river, and it can be quite relaxing (you know, what you should be doing on a vacation!) First, let’s breakdown the two parks.

From the Walt Disney World websiet

From the Walt Disney World website

Blizzard Beach

Blizzard Beach opened in 1995, and is located near Animal Kingdom. It’s themed as a Florida Ski resort… that melted. All “attractions” are sorted by coloured slopes. Blizzard Beach is open from March to January, and while it is not open it is refurbished.  There are also separate areas for small children and teenagers. The main attraction of Blizzard Beach is Summit Plummet (pictured above). That slide goes straight down, and it burns a little. You are travelling as fast as Rock n’ Rollercoaster, and much faster than the water! It was something fun to do once, but I don’t know if I’d do it again. Other fun attractions include Teamboat Springs (the longest family raft slide in the United States). There are lots of other fun water slides, and I loved the Toboggan Racers when I was 5!

From the Walt Disney World website

From the Walt Disney World website

Typhoon Lagoon

Typhoon Lagoon opened in 1989, and is located near Downtown Disney (they also share a bus route). Typhoon Lagoon was supposedly hit by a Typhoon, leaving the water park with a little less “picture perfect paradise”. Typhoon Lagoon operates from January to October, and undergoes refurbishments while closed. The attractions aren’t divided like at Blizzard Beach, so get a guide map when you enter the park to see which members of your party can go on what attractions. The main attraction of Typhoon Lagoon is the wave pool, pictured below. It’s fun for everyone because you can go in as far as you are comfortable. Again, Typhoon Lagoon also has areas for younger tots and teens, and also has a shark reef. One slide to check out is Crush n’ Gusher, a slide that doesn’t just go down, it goes up too!

This wonderful moment was captured by a Photopass Photographer

This wonderful moment was captured by a Photopass Photographer

How do you get tickets?

When purchasing your Walt Disney World tickets, you should consider whether or not you would like to visit the water parks. It is the easiest time to make this decision. If you decide yes, you are going to want to add the Water Parks & More option to your basic Magic Your Way Tickets. Prices can be found on the Walt Disney World website. If you decide when you are in the parks that you want to visit a water park, you can visit the ticket booths at any park and add this option.

 

Is it worth it?

In my opinion, the answer can be yes and no.

In the middle of the summer, it can definitely seem like a good option, especially if your resort pool isn’t doing it for you. If you have visited Walt Disney World before, the answer could also be yes. You’ve seen the parks before, and you want to try something new. So visit the water parks! Also, if you are visiting WDW for the first time but are going on a longer trip (longer than 5 days), the water parks could be a good option. It can be a nice break from the other parks, and can be fun just for a few hours. My boyfriend and I have never been to the water parks together, so on a future trip we are definitely going to spend some time there.

If you haven’t visited the parks before, I would say no, don’t waste your time visiting the water parks.  Walt Disney World is a once in a lifetime trip for many people, and with that pressure on your vacation and the small amount of time you have with the number of things there are to see, I wouldn’t suggest visiting water parks­. If you want to have some water fun but don’t want to go to the water parks, take a break during the day and use the pool at your resort! It can always be nice to cool off, change, and head back to the parks refreshed!

It’s a completely personal decision, but I hope my insight can help you make the right decision for your party.

And a picture of Br'er Rabbit because you always get wet when you visit the Laughing Place!

And a picture of Br’er Rabbit because you always get wet when you visit the Laughing Place!

I hope this post has given you an idea of what the water parks have to offer, and when to take advantage of it. Both water parks are very detailed and have great themes, so I hope some day you will have a chance to experience them!

Disclaimer: during the creation of this post I realized two things. 1) I have not been to the water parks since 2009 (Blizzard Beach since 2007). 2) When you do go the water parks, you generally don’t bring a camera. Therefore, most of these pictures are not mine, and are from the Walt Disney World Website.

Do you like the water parks? Which is your favourite? Do you usually visit the water parks on your vacation? Let me know in the comments!

Thanks for reading!

Kelsey