August 26, 2015

A Complete Guide to My Disney Experience

My Disney Experience is the new platform that was released in 2012 to act as the “hub” of your Disney Vacation. You can access My Disney Experience by logging on to the Disney World website, or by downloading the app to your smartphone. All you need to do to make the most out of your vacation is create an account.

Creating an account is as simple as visiting the Disney World website and in the top right hand corner, hover over “My Disney Experience” and click Create Account. It will take you through all of the steps to link any existing reservations, but you do not need to have anything booked to create an account. You can link reservations once they are booked at any time, and it is really easy. On my last trip I accidentally used two different e-mail addresses, but linked all of our reservations to the same My Disney Experience account.

Seven Dwarf Mine Train

My Disney Experience is awesome because it will show all future plans and reservations, as well as what is going on today. It’s very helpful to glance at your phone before you head out the door to see what time Fastpass+ experiences are, dining reservations, and of course where you are staying that night (if you are staying at a Disney Resort).

Now on to all of the things My Disney Experience keeps track of for you:

Fastpass+

When staying at a Disney resort you can make Fastpass+ reservations up to 60 days before your trip. If staying elsewhere, but you bought tickets through Walt Disney World directly, you can book Fastpass+ 30 days in advance. You will be e-mailed when you can create your Fastpasses, and you will use My Disney Experience to make the selections. I promise, there will be a post all about Fastpass+ soon! Once you have your Fastpass+ booked, these “reservations” will be shown in My Disney Experience, so you can easily see what Fastpasses you have on what day of your trip.

Magicband selection

Again, Disney will e-mail you when you can make your Magicband selection. A Magicband is a bracelet that holds all of your reservation information, and is used as your room key. You press the Mickey Head to another Mickey Head (whether it’s at your hotel room door, when entering the park or when heading onto a ride using Fastpass+). If you live in the United States, your MagicBands will be mailed to you ahead of your trip. If you live Internationally, you will pick up your MagicBands when you check in to your resort. You can choose from a variety of colours when picking out your MagicBand (red, blue, yellow, green, pink, orange, and grey). If you do not pick a colour, the default is Grey. There are accessories available in the parks to add to your MagicBand and make it your own. They are waterproof and are one size fits all (part of the strap can be removed to fit smaller wrists like mine or children’s). Keep in mind that you need your MagicBand to do pretty much everything, so keep it somewhere safe! That includes your children’s bands! If you think they will take theirs off, you should probably hold onto it for them!

Hint: You are going to want to Fastpass+ this ride!

Sharing plans with other family members

With one My Disney Experience account, you can easily add other members of your family, and create reservations for everyone in your party. For parties of 10 or more, Disney suggests calling (407) 939-7771 from 7:00 AM to 11:00 PM EST to help create a My Disney Experience account for your party. If you want to create multiple accounts within your party, you can easily send reservation information to those not on your account. Disney really does think of everything!

Dining Reservations

You can very easily use the Disney World website to make dining reservations, and once they have been made, they can be linked to your account! It makes it really easy to see where you are eating, what time, and how many people are on the reservation. Want to learn more about the Disney Dining Plan? check out my post all about it!

Festival of Fantasy Parade

Reservation Information

Lastly, My Disney Experience will keep all of your hotel information in one place. It will tell you which resort you are staying at, and which days the reservations are for, It seems like it might not be needed, but if you are staying at multiple resorts during your trip, you may need to know!

The My Disney Experience App

The App has all of the information you see when looking at your profile through the Disney website and more. I used this app all the time during my last trip. When I was hungry I could see the nearest dining options, and take a look at the menu without having to walk around the park! While in line for one ride we could see what we might want to hit next by looking at the wait time. Need a washroom? You can find out where the closest one was! Forget what time the park is open until? You can check that in 30 seconds! What time was the parade again? Oh right!

Seriously. I loved this app. I still check it once in a while, just if I want to know how long the line is for Space Mountain. You never know when someone will ask you when you’re at home… right? The only complaint I have about the app is that it was sometimes slow. I was using the Wifi in the parks, but I’m sure if you were using a data the connection would be faster. Other than that, it was amazing.

I think that My Disney Experience is one of the many things that keeps Disney above and beyond other theme parks, and they are always on top of the newest technology. My Disney Experience really helps to make your vacation easier, with all of the information you could want at your fingertips.

Expedition Everest

Have you ever used My Disney Experience on the computer or the app? What were your thoughts? Need me to elaborate on anything? Let me know in the comments!

Thank you for reading!

Kelsey
August 19, 2015

What I Love About Hollywood Studios

Hollywood Studios was the first Disney Park I ever visited (it was MGM Studios back then), so it holds a special place in my heart. It was the first time I met Mickey, I was terrified, and decided at the last minute I wanted to be in the picture.

I love my outfit too...

I love my outfit too…

Fantasmic!

While I love Wishes, I think Fantasmic is my favourite night show at Walt Disney World. I love it so much it is my ringtone! The storyline and effects are amazing, and the music is wonderful. Definitely get there early, as the amphitheatre fills up quickly, and get a Fastpass+ if you can! I realized during my trip in February that most of the seats are limited to Dining Packages (if you eat at Hollywood & Vine or the Hollywood Brown Derby with the package you have reserved seating), Fastpass+ and very little is open to fist come first serve guests. For Fantasmic you wouldn’t necessarily need to reserve the Fastpass+ days in advance, you can use your 3 for the day as normal and get a 4th once your 3 are used up. If you have no idea what I’m talking about with Fastpass+, keep an eye out for a future post all about it!

Tower of Terror

I had to ride this by myself last time because Ethan doesn’t like the spontaneous dropping feeling too much. The detail in the queue is amazing. If you are a fan of the Twilight Zone, you need to experience this attraction! Being in Hollywood Studios and seeing Tower of Terror in the distance makes me happy, I love experiencing this attraction!

Tower of Terror

Sci-Fi Dine In Theatre

Sci-Fi Dine In is a table service restaurant in Hollywood Studios, where you head into a set and enter an old school drive-in. Your booth is an old car and you are served by someone on roller-skates. You can enjoy your food and milkshakes while watching some black and white horror movie clips. The detail in this restaurant is amazing, and I would recommend the Oreo milkshake.

50’s Prime Time Diner

50’s Prime Time is one of my favourite restaurants in Walt Disney World. You step into a 50’s household and are server by “Mom”  or “cousin”. You are told to keep your elbows off the table, and have to eat all of your vegetables before getting dessert! The theme is really fun, as long as you are open to it. I would recommend the PB&J milkshake (also available in chocolate if you ask) and the Caesar Salad with blackened salmon. The Caesar Salad is so good that I have tried to re-create it at home! If you don’t want to sit down for a meal there is a bar that serves the entire menu. You can always get a milkshake to go! (And why wouldn’t you?!) Ethan and I always try to go to 50’s Prime Time when we are at WDW. Here is a picture of us right after we enjoyed our Blackened Salmon Caesar Salads!

Enjoying Echo Lake

Animation Academy

While it recently closed, Animation Academy was something I loved at Hollywood Studios. At Animation Academy you could take a 20 minute drawing class with an Animator. You would sit at desks with illuminated tables and pencils with NO ERASER! This taught you that you need to draw really, really lightly! It closed just over a month ago, but if you head to Art of Animation resort they have smaller classes, and they also have larger classes at Disneyland in California.

Toy Story Pizza Planet

Can you tell I love the dining options at Hollywood Studios? Toy Story Pizza Planet I love because I feel like I stepped into Toy Story. There are video games, green aliens, and PIZZA! While the pizza may not be the greatest in Walt Disney World, sometimes it is nice to have something a little different. They do have some other options available, but being a vegetarian my choices are limited to pizza. If you are a fan of Toy Story, definitely check this quick service restaurant out!

Voyage of the Little Mermaid

This was the first attraction I ever experienced at Walt Disney World. The Little Mermaid was and still is my favourite Disney movie. I still do Voyage every time I visit Hollywood Studios. This 20 minute show mixes puppetry, live actors and  cool effects, and features some of the hit songs from The Little Mermaid.

Voyage of The Little Mermaid

Hollywood Studios is a bit of a sensitive subject for me lately, because it is going through a lot of changes. There are rumours that the theme of the park may change, and more attractions will leave before the park is completed. While some attractions may come that I will enjoy, I’m sad to see some of my favourites go.

With that being said, this past weekend was a big one for Hollywood Studios. D23 Expo was held and there were a lot of announcements about upcoming movies, attractions and expansions of the parks. Hollywood Studios is getting two new lands; Star Wars Land and Toy Story Land!! For more information about the announcements, check out the Disney Parks Blog. I’m really excited to see what will be done in the parks, and hope it’s something great!

Star Wars

Want to see what else I love? Check out my other posts about EpcotMagic Kingdom, and Walt Disney World.

What do you love about Hollywood Studios? Are you excited for the expansion coming soon? Let me know in the comments!

Thanks for reading!

Kelsey
August 12, 2015

Should I Stay On Site? All About Disney Resort Hotels

Walt Disney World is almost 42 square miles, and holds many hotels in that area. Disney owns 25 resorts, and there are many others within Walt Disney World (not owned by Disney, but on Disney property). So which hotel do you choose? Is it better to stay on or off site? I have done both, but I prefer to stay on site. Before you tell me I’m crazy, let me explain a little.

Finding Nemo the Musical

A Little Background Story…

When My family visited the Orlando area in 2012, we rented a house very close to Walt Disney World and rented a car. We stayed for a week and visited Universal Orlando, Sea World and Kennedy Space Center. For these destinations, it was great. We liked having the room of a house, and we could prepare meals when we wanted. After a week of staying there, we were off to Walt Disney World! We returned the rental car back to the airport, and were off on Disney’s Magical Express (look for a post all about that service soon!). We stayed at a Value resort and took advantage of the Disney transportation.

In the same trip, my sister Alex was feeling under the weather 🙁 but Disney transportation was very fast (they even dispatched an entire bus for the 5 of us to get us to the hotel faster!) It also helps that wheelchairs have priority getting on Disney buses, because they need to be tied down. Being so close to the parks helped in this case, because when she was at a park and wanted to head back to rest, she could easily go with my Dad.

I find that with the size of Walt Disney World it is easier to take Disney Transportation than renting a car, and you can also get the Disney Dining Plan. If you are staying at a resort that is in Walt Disney Word but not owned by Disney, you may be able to get free transportation to the parks. I have never done this, but know that it may be available at some resorts.

Gawrsh!!

Gawrsh!!

The Disney Resorts

The resorts that are owned by Disney in Walt Disney World are split into three categories: Value, Moderate, and Deluxe. Value are the least expensive, moderate are in the middle, and deluxe are the most expensive.

Value resorts include Art of Animation, Pop Century, and the All Stars: All Star Music, All Star Movies, and All Star Sports.

Moderate resorts include Caribbean Beach (my favourite), Port Orleans Riverside, Port Orleans French Quarter, Fort Wilderness cabins and campground, and Coronado Springs.

Deluxe Resorts include Boardwalk, Animal Kingdom Lodge, Contemporary, Polynesian, Grand Floridian, Wilderness Lodge, Beach Club and Yacht Club.

There are a lot of advantages to staying on site. Disney Resorts guests get access to the parks earlier and later on specific days called “Extra Magic Hours”. I would strongly suggest taking advantage of this if you stay at a Disney resort.

What To Consider When Selecting A Disney Resort

Location! Location can be really important, especially if you are relying on Disney Transportation. In some cases you can even WALK to the parks. Like how friggen cool is that? In general, location can be something to consider. I tend to like resorts in the Epcot area, because they are central, and close to 2 of the 4 theme parks. Animal Kingdom and Magic Kingdom are somewhat out of the way, so getting to the other parks can take a little longer if you are staying close to a Kingdom park. Location can also be great, like at Caribbean Beach you can see Illuminations from the main pool. At the Contemporary, you can watch Wishes from the California Grill.

The Muppets

Special Offers

Disney usually creates special offers for guests staying at Disney Resorts, by giving you up to 30% off your stay. You should always check, because they are only for certain dates. You can find the information on the offer by visiting the “Special Offers” page on the Walt Disney World website.

A Note About Disney Transportation

Buses only go from resort to park and from park to park. Not from resort to resort! You have to take time into consideration when making reservations at a resort that is not your own. If you are visiting a park that day it won’t be that hard to get there, but getting back can be time consuming. Buses run to Downtown Disney until after midnight most nights, so you would have to take a bus to Downtown Disney and transfer there to the resort you are staying at. It sounds confusing but I hope it makes sense!

Good Morning to you!

It can be cheaper to stay outside of Walt Disney World, but I feel like it is much more convenient and adds to the experience to stay on site. Especially if you are dedicating your entire vacation to  WDW, which I would recommend to get the most of your Walt Disney World experience.

Which do you prefer, staying on site or off? If you like to stay on site, which is your favourite resort and why?

Thank you so much for reading!

Kelsey