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
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