Monthly Archives: January 2013

I’ve never been to Disney, what do I bring with me to the parks?

Often, I get asked by people who are visiting Walt Disney World for the first time, what should they plan to take with them to the parks? Well, truthfully, there are several different answers to this, and really they depend on you. But I have found that the best way for me to answer this question, is to tell you just what I take to the parks with me!

My first and foremost recommendation is a BOOK BAG! I have found that places like Wal-mart and Target often carry book bags all year round, for relatively low costs. I think the last one I purchased was around $14.00. I usually look for one that have multiple inside pockets, and side pockets that will easily hold a water bottle or two.

Now that you have a book bag, let me tell you just what I pack in mine.
1. Snacks! I usually bring snacks from home when we travel to Disney, something for everyone in our family. Usually things like fruit snacks, granola bars, and crackers travel the easiest, and take up little room. These will come in handy if you get caught in a long line for an attraction, or while waiting for a parade or firework show. Also, they certainly save the cost of a hunger driven impulse buy at a snack cart!

2. Water bottles! I also typically bring along a case of water, and start our pack each day with fresh bottles. We will drink on them throughout the day, and stop at a water fountain and fill them up once they’re empty. Also, did you know that you can stop in at any Quick Service restaurant and fill your water bottle for free?

3. A lunchbag that folds or collapses! This is something I recommend more for families traveling with small children. Often, young kids are hot or tired, and don’t eat all of their food at mealtimes. Many of the kid’s meals in Disney come with pre-packaged fruit or veggies. When my children were small, we had the rule that you ate the food that you couldn’t save first, and the packaged food later. If they couldn’t finish, I would simply drop the unopened food into the lunchbag, and save them for waiting-in-line-bored snacks!

4. A small wallet or coin purse! I usually like to bring a small wallet or coin purse, one that has two pockets. You can also find these relatively inexpensively at places like Wal-mart. I like ones with two pockets, so that I can keep my money/credit card in one pocket, and our family’s park passes/room keys in the other pocket. That way I am not fumbling through my money every time we need our tickets for fast passes, and I can leave all the stuff from my everyday wallet in the in-room safe, since most likely I won’t need it.

5. Ziploc bag with medicine! I like to grab a couple of doses of Tylenol or some other headache medicine, and some sort of acid reducer like Tums or Zantac. This way, if one of us gets to feeling not so great, we instantly have something to help, and don’t have to spend time finding a place in the park that sells something, or going to the Emergency Medical area of the park. I often also share the pocket where this goes with a small bottle of hand sanitizer, sunscreen, and chap stick.

6. Ponchos! – I call this one a variable item. Many Disney travelers can not leave the resort without their clear or yellow Mickey Mouse ponchos. Truth be told, my family doesn’t use them. We just seek shelter. But, if you are one that doesn’t want to get wet, and trust me, it always rains in Florida, even if only for a few minutes, then you certainly need your ponchos!

7. Camera! Even if you use Photo Pass, you’ll want your own camera at some point. Those Disney photographers just don’t see everything you see. Make sure you have it, and extra batteries! And I suggest a smaller, light weight camera, just for spacing issues.

8. Everything else! I say sunglasses, hats, ponytail holders are a must! But anything else that you think you might need. Just think about the day. Start off by saying, “If I don’t return to the room today before bedtime, I am going to need…”

One tip also for your backpack. Find a way to personalize it. This might be a bright pink bandanna that you tie to the strap, or a big promotional button that you pin to the outside. One thing we like to use is the luggage tags that we get when we book our Disney vacation. We always have an extra, so we just fill out the tag and hook it to the bag. This will help when you have to leave it behind at a loading/unloading dock for one of your favorite rides. You’ll be able to spot it right way, and likewise, others will know right away that it is not theirs!

Could you imagine being banned from Disney World?

I have been visiting Walt Disney World since I was a small child. It has become my most favorite vacation spot ever. It is also my family’s most favorite vacation place. We are fans of all things Disney, the movies, the music, the television shows, the theme parks – everything! But what on earth would we do as fans of Disney, if Disney told us that we could NEVER come back?!?

Well, that is exactly what happened to one man, who claims to be a huge Disney fan. He goes by the name “Adam the Woo” and he has his own Youtube channel. So what would make Disney tell one of their fans that they were never allowed to come back to their parks?

According to this report by WFTX-TV Fox 4 News in Naples, FL: http://www.fox4now.com/news/local/186387821.html, Adam the Woo, who calls himself a Walt Disney World “urban explorer” has been banned from the parks for life. On his Youtube channel: http://www.youtube.com/user/adamthewoo, he has been known to show videos of himself sneaking into back stage areas of the parks. He says he was trying to satisfy a “morbid curiosity”. He has at least a dozen videos of himself sneaking into areas of the Magic Kingdom that are off limits to park guests.

According to Disney, what Adam was doing is trespassing. Honestly, I would have to agree.

Adam has stated that he never received any emails, phone calls, or letters from Disney telling him that what he was doing was wrong. He figured he would get a slap on the wrist and a “don’t do that anymore”, but instead he got a life time ban. I think he feels wronged. But let’s be honest, we are taught at an early age what “off limits” means. And we all know that there is a reason why doors close. We don’t always need to know what is on the other side of them. Knowing all of the secrets almost erases some of the magic that we all recognize as just what Disney does best.

Adam says that the security guards who met him at the gate on his last visit to the park were actually fans of his web series. That may be so. I say he is generally lucky he was only given a ban, and not a lawsuit or a ride in the back of a police car. Maybe I am just not that gutsy. Or maybe I just really don’t want to see Mickey Mouse’s body with a human head. I don’t know. But what I do know, is that Adam the Woo is one individual that I am certainly glad I’m not. And I am glad that Disney caught him, and that he won’t be doing it anymore. Leave the mystery to the magic Adam. It is part of what makes Disney….Disney.

The Above and Beyond of a Disney Travel Agent

A while back, I was contacted by a friend who had lucked up on some 1 day passes for her family at the Magic Kingdom. She had never been before, and was a bit worried about making the most of such a big place that she wasn’t familiar with. She had a 4 year old daughter, who she knew would love the Magic Kingdom, but how would they be able to see it all in just one day?

Cinderella's Castle in the Magic Kingdom - WDW

Cinderella’s Castle in the Magic Kingdom – WDW

As a Disney travel agent, it is my job to know the parks, and to know them well. And it doesn’t hurt matters that I’ve been a ton of times, and it is my family’s prefered vacation spot! So what did I do to help my friend? I made her a map of course!

Map of Magic Kingdom

Map of Magic Kingdom

Once I got a map of Magic Kingdom, I started thinking of all of the “can’t miss” attractions for a 4 year old girl. Of course, this includes things like photo meetings of the Disney fairies, and/or princesses, beloved rides like Dumbo, and even the best snacks and treats – like the Dole Whip at Aloha Isle in Adventureland.

Dad holding the suggested Dole Whip!

Dad holding the suggested Dole Whip!

I grabbed a couple of highlighter markers, and got to coding. One color was for the “CAN’T MISS”. Since they only had one day, I didn’t want this family to waste a lot of time reading signs. Since the daughter was young, there are several rides that she just wasn’t going to be big enough for yet. No problem! Just avoid them! So another color was for the “AVOID THEM”. My goal was to give them a direct, to the point map, to help them cut out wasted time, and to make sure they were able to take in absolutely everything that they could.

So how did it go for them? Well, one thing I couldn’t control was the rain. Unfortunately, it did rain quite a bit that day, and so they weren’t able to get to it all. BUT…they did meet the princesses. And they did meet the fairies. They got to try the Dole Whip at Aloha Isle, and they did find the one gift shop just behind the castle that I told them about, since their daughter loved Tinkerbell. So no, they didn’t see it all, but they knew they wouldn’t be able to anyway in just one day. But what DID happen, was a love for the Disney parks was instilled in them, and they will certainly be back when their daughter, (and their newer daughter) are bigger and they have more time to enjoy WDW! And you can bet that when they’re ready, they’ll give me a call! I’ll be ready to help them again!

A Review of Disney’s All Star Movies Resort

Often, when working with clients who have never stayed on Walt Disney World property, I hear lots of questions about the types of resorts that Disney offers. Families are scared that by choosing a resort deemed “value” that they might miss out on some of the whole picture experience that they are expecting. Or they are concerned that by selecting a value resort, they are going to be miserable while in their rooms, and spend their whole trip wishing they had reserved a moderate style room. For families that are sized right for a value resort, I think they are well worth the savings!

My family often chooses the value resorts, primarily because we spend so very little time in the room! When helping my clients chose a resort to stay in, one of my first questions to them is how much time to you plan to stay in the room? Are you a family with a young child, who plans to possibly head back to the resort each day for a mid afternoon nap, or will retire early in the evening before the parks close to avoid the bus traffic rush? Or you planning on spending every minute possibly taking in rides and attractions, hitting the parks right as they open the gates, and staying until the kick you out? We tend to take it all in, as much as we can, and use the resort for little more than a shower and bed. That being the case for us, we would rather save the money on the resort, since we don’t intend to see much of it, and spend more of it on souvineers, snacks and extra fun!

Currently, at Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Florida, there are 5 value resorts. All Star Sports, All Star Movies, All Star Music, Pop Century, and the newest addition to the Disney resorts, Art of Animation. A standard room in any of these resorts is sized for a family of 4, or 5 if one is in a crib or pack-n-play. The All Star Music Resort, and Art of Animation Resort both feature family suites, which will comfortably sleep 6.

On our family’s last trip to WDW, we chose to stay in the All Star Movies Resort. This resort has several themed sections, all themed around Disney movies. Some of the sections are Fantasia, Toy Story and 101 Dalmations. We stayed in the Herbie, The Love Bug section of the resort. Our room had 2¬†double beds, a table with two chairs, bathroom, dresser and tv. What more did we need?

Herbie the Love But

Herbie the Love Bug

The Winner's Circle

The Winner’s Circle

Donald and Daisy at our resort

Not far from our door, was the Fantasia themed swimming pool. The kids LOVED thepool. My 5 year old who doesn’t swim well, split his time between the super fun kiddie pool and the extra large shallow end of the Fantasia pool. My 9 year old enjoyed thegames that the resort staff facilitated, like water baloon toss, limbo and the congo line.

 

Mickey at the Pool

Mickey at the Pool

Fantasia Pool

Fantasia Pool

 

Kiddie Pool

Kiddie Pool

Water Baloon Toss Competition

A couple of other things to note at the All Star Movies Resort:

* Like all Disney Resorts on Disney property, the value resorts offer bus transportation to all of the theme parks, Downtown Disney, Water Parks and all other Disney destinations.

* All of the value resorts offer a Quick-Service style restaurant, which features 3 daily meals, snacks, and even houses a convience store type section which stocks things like milk, cereal, yogurt, fresh fruit, salads, ice cream and other snacks and drinks.

* Each of the value resorts have 1 main pool area, and a smaller, less visited pool, if you are looking for a smaller crowd. Both pools are heated for all year round swimming.

* All value resorts feature a arcade, with games ranging from young child to adult.

* All value resorts have a gift shop that stocks Disney licensed clothing, toys, magnets, housewares, jewelry, everything you could possibly want as a souvineer!

* All of the value resorts have on site, to your room pizza delivery!

* Only the family suites feature a microwave and small fridge as standard ammenities, but even the standard size rooms can get them if requested either when booking your reservation, or by contacting the front desk.

* All resorts have larger than life themes and decorations, making for great photo opportunities and tons of smiles from the kids!

If you’re considering a trip to Walt Disney World soon, let me know and we’ll discuss whether a stay at one of Disney’s Value Resorts is right for your family!

 

 

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