Someone’s Mom is taking some time off, so this post is being brought to you by Someone’s Daughter. Don’t worry, Mom will be back very soon! She wants you to know she’s a little tired and overwhelmed, but she’s doing okay. She does want to thank everyone for all of their prayers, kind words, and support.
So today, I’ve decided to talk about the one thing I know the most about: Walt Disney World! I’m going to share with you some of my insider tips that I have learned along the way that will help you whenever you come to visit “The Happiest Place On Earth.”
1. Do your homework!
This is by far the most important tip I can give you. Most families can easily spend a few thousand dollars on a trip to Disney World; you would not spend three or four thousand dollars on a new car or TV without researching it first, so why would you spend that much on a vacation without learning all that you can? Get a guidebook; I recommend the unofficial guides because they have all the good details. Read up on the attractions, restaurants, hotels, and anything else you might need to know. Once you have done this, you will be two steps ahead of the game when you get there.
2. If staying on property, buy a refillable resort mug!
My family has done this for years. When you stay on Disney property you can purchase this souvenir mug in the food court at your hotel. The mug is about 14 dollars with tax, and it entitles you to completely unlimited refills on any of the basic beverages: soda, tea, coffee, lemonade, or hot chocolate. When I say unlimited, I mean unlimited. If you have a family who drinks a lot of soda, or if you are planning on staying for several days, this mug will pay for itself very quickly. The only drinks not included are alcohol and milk. If you are not staying on property, you can still get a refillable mug at Animal Kingdom or one of the water parks. The only catches to any of these mugs including the resort mugs is that they can only be used at the place of purchase. So the resort mugs can only be refilled at the resort, the water park mugs can only be refilled at the water parks, etc.
3. If you are at the Magic Kingdom, make sure you have a Pineapple Float!
I first experienced the Pineapple Float (otherwise known as a dole whip) a few years ago. This has to be one of the most refreshing, delicious, good deal for the money, snacks in all of the parks. A pineapple float consists of pineapple soft serve (made with Dole pineapple juice) and straight pineapple juice. The lines can get pretty long during the summer, so plan accordingly to get one during a parade or fireworks.
4. To see if small children will be frightened of characters before meeting them face- to-face, catch a parade.
This is a great way to see how your kids will respond to the larger than life characters that can sometime intimidate small children. I know several early pictures of my brother and I included me running back towards the camera crying! Parades give everyone a chance to see the characters from a safe distance away, if they respond well to seeing them from that distance, they will more than likely be okay in a one-on-one meeting.
5. Take a mid-day nap/swim/respite.
Now I know what you’re all saying, “We paid all this money to be here, and we have to get our money’s worth!” This is a good point, however I can assure you that no matter how much stamina you have, taking a mid afternoon rest will make everyone happier. This is especially true if you have young children or if you are middle-aged and “hot”.
6. Bring a big plastic Ziploc bag.
If you have ever been to Florida in the summer, you know that it can rain, and rain a lot in a short period of time. What will you do with your camera or cell phone if you get caught in the rain without a poncho? Or if you’re on Kali River Rapids and you suddenly realize that your raft is headed straight for that giant waterfall? This is where the Ziploc bag comes in. Simply put your camera, phone, or anything else that can’t get wet inside the bag, and you are all set! If you forget your Ziploc, simply run into the first gift shop you see and ask for a merchandise bag to store your things in.
7. Make sure you are drinking enough water!
I know this sounds like common sense, but in the rush of riding all the attractions, seeing the parades, and just “doing Disney” it is very easy to not drink enough water or PowerAde. This is especially important as we hit the hot summer months. You can bring water bottles from home or your hotel into the parks and then you can fill them up at the water fountains. Also, all quick service restaurants will give you free cups of water if you just ask for them. Please do not ruin your whole day by getting heat stroke!!
8. Each park has a First Aid Center and a Baby Care Center
These are little known resources available in each of the four main theme parks. First Aid not only has basic over-the-counter medicines such as Ibuprofen and aspirin available, but they also have registered nurses who are there during park hours. If you should become ill during you day, just stop in and they can assist you. Baby Care is also open during park hours. Baby Care has a room for nursing mothers, quiet restrooms, baby changing areas, a small play room, and baby items available for sale. If you run out of formula or diapers or food, this is the place to go!!
9. Use your Fastpasses wisely!
Fastpasses are one of the best creations ever to come from the Disney Idea Box. These Fastpasses allow you to get a pass to return to some of the most popular attractions at a later time in the day with little to no wait to get on the ride. All you need to do is go to the fast pass distribution machines at the attraction of your choice, place your tickets into the machine, then get the ticket that will have a return time on it (for example 2:05 to 3:05). Simply return to the attraction during this time frame and you can bypass most of the line. Now here is where it gets tricky! Once you get a fast pass, you cannot get another for two hours or until the time on your fast pass. So make sure you get them for the ride you really want to go on. Also, please don’t feel like you have to run across the entire park to make it there within the hour time slot. It is a little known fact that you can use your pass any time after the first time on your Fastpass; even if it is past the hour slot listed. I promise this works, I have done it myself.
10. Take time to smell the roses…literally.
Walt Disney World has some of the most beautiful gardens and landscaping you will ever find. Horticulture teams work round the clock to keep the grounds looking perfect. On property you will find rose gardens, topiaries, and flowers of all sorts. This is especially true at Epcot. As you walk around World Showcase, make sure you take the time to notice the native plants from each country. You will not be disappointed!
So there you have it! My top ten helpful tips for anyone planning a trip to Disney World in the near future! Most importantly remember to have fun!! Maybe I will see you all soon!