Sunday, May 13, 2012

Disney World!!!: Tips and Things I Learned

1) The princesses stole The Mouse's thunder. It is all about the princesses and pirates at Disney World now. 

2) Make your reservations months in advance. Lunch with the Princesses in the Castle fills up fast! So does dinner with the princesses in Norway at EPCOT. Max wanted to take me to a fancy dinner for my birthday at the California Grill in the Contemporary Resort, but it had been booked for months. We also learned that you have to make reservation for the Crystal Palace at Magic Kingdom early. And I want to go back and eat at Tony's in Magic Kingdom where they have a Lady and the Tramp theme.

3) Get on the meal plan. This is the best and easiest way to get food. You get refillable, plastic cups as part of it too. You up some of your snacks on the meal plan by getting pastries for breakfast then you can save some of your meals on the plan for a fancy dinner that takes 2 meal plans. Plus you don't want to have a ton of "snacks" left that you need to use. We got some yummy pastries for breakfast one morning at Goofy's Candy Shop in Downtown Disney. This way we didn't use a "meal," but rather "snacks."

4) Dress alike. It sounds cheesy and silly, but this place is huge and it makes it so nice and easy to spot your family member that wandered off or went to get Fast Passes when they are wearing the same themed shirt as you. Plus everyone complimented how cute we looked and how much they liked our shirts all day long. And it made for good conversation starters in the airport.

5) Get Fast Passes the moment you arrive at the park. We got this handy Disney Wait Times App and if the wait time was 30 minutes or longer we ran over to get a Fast Pass for that ride then came back later in the day at the time it said to ride them. No ride really lasts that long is not worth more than a 25 minute wait. When we arrived at the Disney terminal in the airport they pulled us aside and told us to pick 4 rides we wanted Fast Passes for then they scanned them onto a little yellow, plastic card for us. We found out later that this is a new thing they are testing out and only works at At Magic Kingdom. Not many people get them. We did this for Peter Pan, The Jungle Cruise and Buzz Light Year. It was so great!! You have to find the Fast Pass kiosk for them to scan it and tell you what time you can go to those rides. I think next time when the kids are older we will get Fast Passes to the Pirates of the Caribbean ride and Splash Mountain. Those both had long lines. At EPCOT we got a Fast Pass for Soarin', but mom had to stay outside with Rhett since he was too little.
6) Get to the parade site about an hour before it starts or at least have someone save your spots while you ride one last ride. We could see everything really well. 

7) Rest midweek. Hollywood Studios doesn't have that much and it's pretty low key so sleep in the morning you plan to go there, snack for lunch and have dinner there, but reserve it early. We ate at the Brown Derby which take 2 meal plans. When my parents took my and my brother when we were young we ate at the interactive 50's diner which was real fun.

8) Keep lightweight, cheap ponchos with you at all times. It spontaneously down pours about once a day in the afternoon. We packed our backpack everyday with ponchos and I'm so glad we did! We got caught in a downpour getting off the bus with no cover.

9) Rent or borrow a stroller even if your kids have out grown strollers. My 5 1/2 year old hasn't been in a stroller in years, but walking around from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. wore her out. She and her 2 3/4 year old brother fell asleep in the stroller every night and had rest during the day. We inquired about renting a stroller at our hotel and they just gave us 2 umbrella strollers to use for free. They said that people buy them just while they are in town then leave them and that each park has a whole closet full of strollers that people just didn't want to take back on the plane. So you can find a stroller to borrow anywhere.

10) Hollywood Studios has more boy stuff. They have Star Wars, Pixar's Buzz and Woody and Cars.

11) If you go to the Princess Dinner in Norway at EPCOT get their face painted right before you go over by the Pixy Hollow play area in the back of the Gears store. We got so many compliments and no one knew where to get their face painted, but as soon as they saw our kids they all wanted it. It wasn't crowded at all. I don't think anyone their was face painting back there.

12) The best spot to watch the Illumination show at EPCOT is at Norway. There are no obstructions! I was told this a few times and it was true.

13) Breakfast with Chef Mickey isn't worth it. I was told a number of times not go to the Chef Mickey restaurant because the food was out for little hands to touch and it wasn't that good of food. So we didn't do it. We just saw Mickey in other places.

14) As soon as the fireworks are over and the kids come down off their sugar high they get tired and cranky in a hurry. Keep them rested (if possible), hydrated, and pack healthy snacks. 

I made a double batch of Energy bites and packed them in these small containers so we could just toss them on our bag in the morning then throw them away at the end of the day. This time I added chia seeds and flaxseed mill. They were great to snack on before we could get down to breakfast and during the day and evening when they shouldn't have anymore sugary junk.  

15) Do Pin Trading. It was so much fun to go on the hunt for pins. We bought the pin lanyards for the kids, but Max and I may have taken it over once the kids lost interest. I knew Max had gotten way too into it when he made at trade on the last day and said, "A Bambi pin! Score!" And I got way too excited about a captain hook cast members only pin.

16) Get 1 Photo Pass Card and hand it to all the photographers so you don't have a bunch to keep up with. Also, take a picture of the back of it with your phone for 2 reasons: 1) if you lose it you will still have the code on the back to access your pictures, but 2) because the photographers can still scan it from the pic on your phone. That way if you don't have the 1 card your family is using you can have them scan your phone still get those pictures on the same Photo Card! 

Have a magical day!!


  1. Thank you for all of the great information! We are going to WDW in 2 months and I am currently working on t-shirts for the trip. What type of transfer paper did you use for your red shirts with the black Mickey heads? I am so confused looking at all the info. on the web. Thanks!

  2. Actually, Dinner at Chef Mickey's is worth it. We do it every time we go, and the food is good. The salmon is delish! Breakfast there is great too! It's a buffet. Quick and easy, and you can knock out characters without standing in the lines when you could be riding rides. :)

  3. Thanks for all the tips. We thought breakfast at Chef Mickey's was great. It was the highlight of the trip for my 4 year old. One of my favorite moments was when my 70 year old father asked to have a photo with Donald because that was his favorite character as a kid.

  4. I agree that Chef Mickey's was not worth it. You only see the characters for a few minutes. Dine and Play at Hollywood studios is awesome if your kids are fans of Disney Junior. The characters sings and dance, as well as visit each table. Kids are encouraged to get up and dance with them.

  5. We went last year just before Christmas. I'm 40 and was my very first time, amazing. I'd say for a first timer my fav was the light show on the castle after the fireworks, the 4D movie near the enterance, and dole whips! Mmm those were the best. We didn't see characters walking around to take a photo, was kinda bummed by that. Saw a few race through, with someone clearing ppl out of the way for them.