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
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
July 15, 2015

What’s In My Bag?

Being prepared at Walt Disney World is very important. Knowing what to have on hand in the parks can save you money and stress. During my trip in February I carried one backpack with the essentials while my boyfriend Ethan carried a backpack holding both of our Canon DSLR cameras and extra lenses, among other accessories. We found this really worked well, and I think we would do the same thing on our next trip.

Ethan

Ethan carrying the camera backpack

Here’s what I keep in my bag at Walt Disney World:

Water

When in Florida it can get HOT! It’s important to stay hydrated, especially because you are walking so much while in the parks. I hate the taste of Dasani water, and unfortunately that is all they sell in WDW. I use a filtered water bottle so in a pinch I could fill up my water bottle using the sinks in the hotel room or even washroom sinks at the parks. There are many drinking fountains in the parks, but it’s a bonus to have the filter if needed.

 

Sunscreen

Again, in Florida it’s hot and sunny! Make sure to bring sunscreen with you, and apply it often! I would apply sunscreen while getting ready in the morning, and every couple of hours throughout the day. I’ve learned the hard way that some sunscreen is not waterproof (thank you Splash Mountain!), so make sure you are wearing a waterproof sunscreen! Sunscreen takes 20-30 minutes to start working, so applying it when you are in shade would be a good idea. That’s also a reason putting it on while getting ready in the morning works!

 

Sweater/ Change of Clothes

During our trip in February it really cooled down at night, so I always made sure to carry sweaters for both Ethan and I. Even when we usually travel in May I bring a sweater, because the buses have the Air Conditioning blasting to keep the windows from fogging up with the humidity. I get cold pretty easily so I’m comfortable in a hooded sweater at night.

Also think about bringing a change of clothes if you are heading to a park that has water rides you are wanting to experience. Or bring a poncho! At Magic Kingdom there is Splash Mountain and Pirates of the Caribbean (which you rarely get soaked). Animal Kingdom has Kali River Rapids (you WILL get wet!). If you are planning to head back to your hotel to change after, don’t worry about bringing a change of clothes. If I’m only planning on spending half a day at Animal Kingdom, I will experience Kali River Rapids last before heading back to the hotel so I’m not walking around soaked all day. I’ve learned from experience with this one! In 2007 my mom experienced Kali River Rapids in denim shorts. Needless to say she spent 20 minutes in the washroom attempting to dry her shorts under the hand dryers!

The Great Movie Ride

Sunglasses

You’ve protected your skin, make sure to protect your eyes as well! Make sure the sunglasses you are wearing have UV A and B protection, and polarized is a plus! Your eyes will thank you! I wear glasses so I make sure to change to prescription sunglasses when I can and carry both cases for rides I don’t want to lose my glasses on! (I’m looking at you Tower of Terror and Rock n’ Rollercoaster!)

 

Medications

Being at the parks all day can be tiring. Overcast skies can give me headaches, so I always keep Advil on me. I’ve also learned that I have a sensitive stomach when I booked dinner reservations at different times every night to eat at the restaurants I wanted. I went from feeling really hungry to sick fast. Pepto Bismol capsules have saved me. I keep them with me all the time as well, and they sure come in handy. And other medication would be good to have on you, because you never know what you might need in the park. It’s always better to have something and not need it than need it and not have it.

 

Band-Aids!

The parks all have First-Aid stations, but if you feel a blister forming you may not want to walk all the way across the park to get there! I find that having them on me usually means I don’t need them, but it’s always good to be prepared! First Aid might have some Advil as well, but you could also buy it in one of the many gift shops.

 

Cameras!

These were technically in our other bag, but it’s really important to capture the memories you are making! Disney Photopass service is available at all of the parks, but if you bring your camera with you the photographer will usually take a picture with your camera as well. I feel bad asking, but if it saves me money on buying prints, I’ll do it.

 

The Bag(s)

Lastly, the bag I keep everything in! On my trip in 2013 I brought a huge Mickey bag that my Mom purchased on another trip. After a few hours in the Magic Kingdom, my shoulder was killing me. Ethan didn’t want to be seen carrying a shoulder bag (I don’t blame him) so we headed into the shops on Main Street. We purchased this backpack, and it worked well for us.

The backpack we purchased in 2013

The backpack we purchased in 2013

We travelled in May in 2013, so the needs changed when we went in February this year. I brought the 2013 backpack hoping it would work, but after packing it full, we realized it was too full. We headed to Main Street again and bought this backpack.

The backpack we bought in February

The backpack we bought in February

It’s larger but not too large, and was made of a thicker material. It even had a pocket on the side for my water bottle which I loved. I also purchased the matching wallet later that day. 🙂 I think that having a backpack is important, to even out the weight of all of the things you need. It’s also helpful if other members in your party are willing to wear it!

Both backpacks side by side.

Both backpacks side by side.

There is not a huge size difference between backpacks, but it did make a difference!

Now on to the camera bag!

 

Ethan's Backpack

The backpack with pockets open.

The backpack with pockets open.

This is the camera bag we used. It’s a Vanguard Adaptor 45. As you can see it has pockets on either side and one on the top. One side we used for Ethan’s Canon Rebel T5i, the other we used for accessories and extra lenses, and the top fit my Canon Rebel SL1 perfectly. We have found that it works perfectly for us! It’s not too big, and even has a strap for a tripod if you don’t want to carry one!

An Epcot Afternoon :)

An Epcot Afternoon 🙂

And as a reward for looking at pictures of backpacks, here’s a nice photo of Spaceship Earth !

What do you bring with you to the parks? What can you not live without? Let me know in the comments!

Thank you so much for reading!

Kelsey