Friday Five: 5 Favorite Mickey Meet and Greets at Walt Disney World

It’s the big cheese’s birthday – Happy birthday Mickey! In his honor, today’s Friday Five is all about where to find him and the best ways to meet him whether it’s a character experience inside the park or a dining location! Here are our top 5 with assistance from my favorite Mouseketeer – my 3 year old daughter!

  1. Mickey at Town Square Theater in Magic Kingdom. For anyone that has experienced this, it’s not a townsquaremickey
    surprise that it’s our number 1 choice. It’s a great way to ease your new to Disney World kiddos to meeting characters. Why? Because HE TALKS!! It’s truly the most magical experience and perfect for kids young and old. Moms – grab the tissues because I can tell you get a little teary almost every time. I can also tell you we’ve played with Mickey at least 15 times and I’ve had a different experience every time. He’s also got a different experience for children vs. adult groups so it’s a fun interaction no matter what your age!
  2. Epcot Character Spot in Epcot. This fun location has a meet and greet with Mickey, Minnie, and Pluto in their more classic attire. We love it because it’s a relaxed, air conditioned area that has a fun theme backdrop and the characters are always warm and welcoming! It’s a don’t miss img_6270experience for  us when we hit Epcot!
  3. The first character DINING experience on the list and it’s not as well thought about as many others – Garden Grill in Epcot. This location now serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner with Mickey (dressed as a Farmer), Pluto, and Chip and Dale coming around to visit! The food here is good and the character interaction is quite good as well. Chip and dale are full of mischief. We actually like booking a late breakfast because it’s often fairly empty during that time of day which means more time with the main man for us!
  4. Adventures Outpost in Animal Kingdom. One of the few places to see Mickey in Animal Kingdom is at Adventures Outpost where Minnie and Mickey are ready to head on their very own safari. Unique attire make this location fun but watch out – lines can get long mid-day with its proximity to Expedition Everest. It makes for a great “split” for families with little ones that don’t measure up for or are too scared for one of Disney’s bigger coasters.

    img_6134

    Mickey taking some time to doodle on a photo of himself at Garden Grill!

  5. Sorcerer Mickey in Hollywood Studios. Hit the Red Carpet – Mickey is ready for his close up inside Disney’s Hollywood Studios. With his Sorcerer robes and hat, it’s another unique experience that everyone can enjoy. With the current construction work going on in this park as well as this meet and greet’s location, we often don’t find the line very long so it’s an easy way to sneak in an extra Mickey hug!

What’s your favorite place to meet Mickey? If you want your first hug from Mickey or are just missing the main mouse, let’s plan your 2017 Disney World adventure! Please contact me at any time for a free quote. The benefits to using an agent that is

A free gift for your Disney vacation! The amazing and exciting Minnie Box! (subject to minimum vacation package)

A free gift for your Disney vacation! The amazing and exciting Minnie Box! (subject to minimum vacation package)

part of authorized Disney vacation planner include saving time before and during your vacation with itinerary planning which can help save you hours of standing in line each day. Plus you won’t have to watch for available discounts, research resorts, wake up early for dining reservations, or stay up late for FastPasses. The best part about using a travel planner instead of planning yourself? It’s totally FREE! Plus I’ll take away some of the stress and confusion of planning a Disney vacation (especially if it’s your first one!) It’s also a worry free vacation opportunity. I’ll walk through through all of the steps to the process with a few little insider tips along the way! If you already have your vacation planned and are interested in transferring your vacation, ask me how!

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Let’s talk about Disney World weather!

 

It’s coming up to the summer season again, which means weather is a hot topic both literally and figuratively. Around this time of year I start fielding questions about what to do if it rains during the trip, or why there is rain in the forecast every day. Rain is very seasonal in Florida, and Disney World is no exception. Most importantly, don’t let the rain dampen (pun intended) your trip!

During the summer months into fall, expect rain almost on a daily basis. Most of the time this rain isn’t in all day, soaking rain. Afternoon showers are often welcomed as the heat and humidity of the day come to a head. Often times this is welcomed, as cooler temperatures often and prevail. This is a great time of day to take an afternoon break (especially if you’re in Magic Kingdom). If you’re staying in a park during this time, find an indoor attraction or continue on with your plans. It’s always good to have a poncho packed and ready to go when there’s a threat of rain. Don’t forget about something to cover the little one strollers. We found a great stroller cover from Amazon that’s completely see-through but Shields our daughter from rain. Very kind stranger also gave her a poncho on a previous trip which she thought was awesome the first time around and a torture device the next trip!

Poncho2009

Don’t let the rain and wearing a poncho get you down!

So what happens if it does rain during your trip? Make the most of it! Many people had for the buses and their cars, so
lines often get shorter. Many of the attractions have covered queues while you wait or if you really don’t want to get wet,  find an indoor attraction to wait out the rain. Rain is also a good time to go shopping, or have a meal. While you won’t be the only one with these ideas, it’s better to stay as dry as possible.

If rain is in the forecast, we always bring a pair of sandals with us. While tennis shoes are a must for our family while touring the theme parks, nobody likes wet socks or blistered feet the following day. If you want to keep your tennis shoes on, make sure you have an extra pair of socks available. Something I didn’t think about last time was a bag to put wet socks and clothes into. A small plastic bag (or the bag that comes in your ice bucket in your resort room) will do just fine. When you return to your resort, air everything out. We always pack a second pair of tennis shoes as a back up because let me tell you, shoes do not dry in one day. If you only have one pair of shoes, a hair dryer often works, but be prepared for some stinky shoes (and feet) the rest of the trip.

I also ALWAYS bring a hat when there is a strong threat of rain. It gets the rain out of my eyes as I walk and for whatever reason the darn hoods on the ponchos don’t stay on my head without me holding them. Well I can’t push a stroller AND hold my poncho, so a hat solves all of those problems for me! It doesn’t make for great family photos but it’s a great way to save that horrible feeling of rain drops right in the face!

NemoPonchoIf it looks like an all day kind of rain, stick with your plans! We got absolutely poured on during our last trip. Rain started around 2:30 and soaked us through almost 8 pm. Almost everything was “walk on” and none of the attractions were closed because it was just rain and not lightning in the area. We had a little swim into Ariel’s Grotto and were the ONLY people in line around 6 pm and grabbed a very last minute FastPass for Cinderella & Rapunzel (Anna & Elsa was also available as I’m guessing someone got tired of being wet). We’ve done Disney in the rain, but this was the most soaking rain I’ve ever encountered. To stay dry we watched Carousel of Progress, rode PeopleMover, checked out a few shops, had dinner, met some characters, and ended the day with fireworks RIGHT as the rain was stopping. Ahhh the magic of Disney!

On the other end of the spectrum, summer brings HEAT. This is nothing to be messed with. Please listen to your body, keep yourselves and your kids appropriately hydrated with water, Gatorade/Powerade, and other liquids that replenish your fluids. Stay away from caffeine when possible (you won’t get me up early to hit a Disney park without coffee) and stay away from carbonated beverages. Find a place to cool off during the heat of the day and plan your indoor experiences for the afternoons. The best part about those “indoor” activities is they don’t typically have long waits or they are continuously running shows so it’s a nice air-conditioned place to rest your feet, cool you and your family, and enjoy some more Disney fun!

Do you have any Disney secrets for beating the the weather?

A free gift for your Disney vacation! The amazing and exciting Minnie Box! (subject to minimum vacation package)

A free gift for your Disney vacation! The amazing and exciting Minnie Box! (subject to minimum vacation package)

If you would like help planning your next Disney World vacation, I’d love to be a part of the process. Please feel free to contact me anytime for a free quote. The benefits to using an authorized Disney vacation planner include saving time before and during your vacation with itinerary planning which can help save you hours of standing in line each day. Plus you won’t have to watch for available discounts, research resorts, wake up early for dining reservations, or stay up late for FastPasses. The best part about using a travel planner instead of planning yourself? It’s totally FREE! Plus I’ll take away some of the stress and confusion of planning a Disney vacation (especially if it’s your first one!)It’s also a worry free vacation opportunity. I’ll walk through through all of the steps to the process with a few little insider tips along the way! If you already have your vacation planned and are interested in transferring your vacation, ask me how!

Disney’s Memory Maker: How does it work and is it worth my money?

How Does Disney's Memory Maker Work and is it worth the money?

If you’re planning a Disney World vacation, sooner or later you’ll see information about Memory Maker – Disney’s photography package. Disney touts it as “the most incredible way to capture and relive your vacation memories”.I was a bit skeptical of the entire situation as first. I didn’t think it would be worth my $149. I was absolutely wrong! The first time I tried it was November last year during a conference with a group of 7 adults. We enjoyed the experience going around the parks, meeting characters, and taking advantage of the opportunity to have us all in every photo without someone being stuck behind the camera. My 2nd experience was with my immediate family and thats where the magic truly happened! It was my daughter’s first Disney World visit and capturing the smile on her face as she got to meet her favorite characters was PRICELESS! I wasn’t required to be behind the camera to preserve those moments – Disney did it for me. We ended up with at least 70 photos I was truly happy with and saved from our collection of about 300. Our most recent trip in April afforded us another opportunity to use Memory Maker. Over 7 days of park time, we ended up with nearly 800 photos at our disposal and I had hundreds of favorites to choose from (two of which are on my wall above my desk!)

Our more recent experience with the product was in January. We didn’t see as many characters this time around as my daughter took a liking to more of the attractions so about 300 photos that time around but still a great overall experience!

How does it work?

Once you purchase Memory Maker whether it’s through a package or as an individual purchase, the allotment is linked in your My Disney Experience account and all MagicBands linked to your account. If you have additional family and friends traveling with you, linking their accounts to yours will also allow them to use Memory Maker. Once on site, locate any PhotoPass photographer in one of Disney’s theme parks and ask to have your photo taken (if it’s a character experience, they will do it automatically). Scan one MagicBand from the group and voila! Your photos are uploaded to your My Disney Experience account. NEW Disney has added a preview of photos on the My Disney Experience app so you can view photos in the park in real time (allow a few minutes for upload, but it’s typically very quick) – something fun to do while you wait in line for another attraction.

How do a find a PhotoPass photographer?Fox family

Photographers are roaming around the parks and ready for your close up. You’ll see them at all of the major milestone locations and any location with a unique backdrop. Some photographers are only out at night while other locations are better during the day time. The My Disney Experience app now has a list of available locations for photographers. I think Disney heard the questions and feedback of all of you 2014 and 2015 travelers wishing to have more info on photo opportunities. You’ll find additional opportunities during special events and during the holiday season where photographers can also be found in the Disney deluxe resorts near the giant Christmas tree displays.

What are Magic Shots?

Magic Shots are fantastic little photos that Disney superimposes a character or little something special to Ellie MagicShotyour photo. The Disney photographer will pose you to make the shot work, set up their cameras and give you a few instructions for a face to make to truly make the moment memorable. You may ask for a Magic Shot from any photographer. Te general rule of thumb is that if a photographer has a camera on a tripod, they don’t have Magic Shots. If it’s a hand held camera, they may have something to help.

How long are my photos available?

You have 45 days from when the photo was taken to download them to keep them forever. You may purchase an extension if you need more time, but it’s best to just download them – throw them on your desktop and do the hard work of looking through the photos later.

I have a large group/multiple rooms. Do I need to purchase more than one allotment of Memory Maker?

Absolutely not! Guests will need to be appropriately linked through My Disney Experience under friends and family. As long as all guests are linked to the guest who purchased Memory Maker, the lead person will be able to download all of the photos. It’s best to have each party member linked to every other party member so everyone can see every photo taken online – it will have no affect on being able to download them.

I’m trying to view photos I’ve taken online but I only see a location to purchase or add it, what gives?

This is a common complaint from guests. You can view them from one of 2 places. The easiest way is by

One of my favorite photos from our April trip!

One of my favorite photos from our April trip!

visiting MyDisneyPhotoPass.com and logging in with the same credentials as My Disney Experience.You can also visit the My Disney Experience web site and go to the reservations and tickets page. The link to view photos from Memory Maker is all the way at the bottom of that page.

What do I do with my photos when I get home?

The lead guest (the person who has Memory Maker assigned to them) will have a DOWNLOAD button available (use either option in the question above to view them). Memory Maker is a digital entitlement so once your photos are downloaded, you may do whatever you’d like to with them whether its post them on Facebook or Instagram for family and friends, make a photo book through Shutterfly, or just keep them for yourself. You may take those photos to any local retailer to have them printed as well. Disney provides you with a letter of “ownership” to take with you if the retailer has any questions.

Is it worth the money?

This little girl of mine tried to beep every character's nose she encountered!

This little girl of mine tried to beep every character’s nose she encountered!

In a completely unbiased capacity, Y-E-S! I love it. Any trip traveling with a child or children, I will most definitely add it on to my package. For anyone interested in meeting characters, it’s worth it! For anyone who wants to to capture memories from their trip – YES! For anyone who is always stuck being the photographer – absolutely yes!

I heard Disney photographers will take a photo with my camera as well, is that true?

Yes, if you stop by any PhotoPass photographer and ask them to take a photo with your camera after they are done with the official photos, they will. In my previous experiences, those photos are not as good of quality as the official shots and since most of them only snap one photo, you’ll lower your chances that the entire family is both looking at the camera and smiling!

A free gift for your Disney vacation! The amazing and exciting Minnie Box! (subject to minimum vacation package)

A free gift for your Disney vacation! The amazing and exciting Minnie Box! (subject to minimum vacation package)

If you would like help planning your next Disney World vacation, I’d love to be a part of the process. Please feel free to contact me anytime for a free quote. The benefits to using an authorized Disney vacation planner include saving time before and during your vacation with itinerary planning which can help save you hours of standing in line each day. Plus you won’t have to watch for available discounts, research resorts, wake up early for dining reservations, or stay up late for FastPasses. The best part about using a travel planner instead of planning yourself? It’s totally FREE! Plus I’ll take away some of the stress and confusion of planning a Disney vacation (especially if it’s your first one!)It’s also a worry free vacation opportunity. I’ll walk through through all of the steps to the process with a few little insider tips along the way! If you already have your vacation planned and are interested in transferring your vacation, ask me how!

The Disney World Deluxe resort difference

 

It’s no secret that Disney World deluxe resorts are the top of the line in terms of available accommodations around their property. While they come with a larger price tag, I do feel like they are absolutely the ONLY option for me! After getting recharged with 2 amazing deluxe resorts over the past few days and it gave me a huge recharge of how much I absolutely love them! Don’t get me wrong, I love (almost) all Disney World resorts, but deluxe resorts are just a cut above the rest! So what makes them so amazing? Let me count the ways…

Service. All Disney cast members are trained to help traveling guests but deluxe service takes it to another level! I was greeted at Disney’s Grand Floridian at 10 am to check into my resort by a wonderful gentleman who had a conversation with me and truly engaged in the process. I was greeted by another wonderful cast member who walked me through the check in process. Now, I’m a frequent Disney goer, so the check in process is nothing new to me but this experience brought a new light to the experience and how wonderful it can be! I had an issue with my MagicBand (which my husband laughed at because it’s a pretty typical scenario for me) and I had another two cast members come to my rescue. In 10 minutes, I had touch points with FOUR different cast members who magically remedied this situation!

Dining. All Disney resorts have a quick service/grab and go dining option, but deluxe resorts have a minimum of THREE dining experiences (table service, quick service, and signature dining). That’s at minimum. You’ll likely see more than just 3 dining locations. And these are some of the best dining experiences you’ll find either inside or outside of the park INCLUDING character dining! How nice would it be to go from your room to enjoy a world class dining experience and then head back to your room to change back into park clothes to head back to the park.

Location, location, location. Almost every single Disney World deluxe resort has more than one mode of transportation to get you to and from the theme parks (exception – Animal Kingdom Lodge). This means you’ll be spending less time getting to and from the theme parks and more time enjoying them. This is great for many reasons – families that want their toddlers or young children to have a nap in the middle of the day, families that want to enjoy their resort’s amenities and not spend the entire trip inside the parks, interest in a great pool experience, or additional recreational activities. There is more to Disney than just theme parks and the deluxe resort offer some amazing opportunities to explore the surroundings and even watch fireworks right from your resort (or even your room).

Club Level Service. I’ve talked about club level service at Disney World resorts in several previous posts. I was lucky enough to stay at Beach Club and enjoy their club level service. I always enjoy the club level offerings and it really gives you a more upscale feel. This is definitely luxury travel! You have a continental breakfast each morning, light snacks and

Club level snacks offered at Beach Club resort (similar offerings at most other resorts)

Club level snacks offered at Beach Club resort (similar offerings at most other resorts)

refreshments mid-day (and this is a very quiet place to relax and work for those of us traveling on business), hot and cold appetizers in the evening and an array of lovely desserts in the evening. These meals are not meant to take over your daily meals (I still needed a dinner each evening, but it was nice to have access to drinks and some snacks while I was arriving). This is a fantastic resort opportunity for guests who want more out of their Disney World experience beyond just theme parks. Cast members are available daily to answer questions (and I put them to the test) as well as help guide you with transportation and making recommendations for dining and park plans. While there is a concierge at every Disney World resort, these special cast members are available to help on a more intricate level. For more on club level service…Club Level Service Overview and The Best Walt Disney World Club Level service.

Additional activities. If you’re looking for more to your Disney experience than just theme parks, look no further than deluxe resorts (and Disney deluxe villas). This amazing locations have water sports, special evening activities – roasting marshmallows on the beach, a view of fireworks right from your resort, upgraded pool experiences. These are really uniquely themed pool complexes with elaborate kids splash play areas and spacious pools so that every family has a great experience. In resorts like Grand Floridian, you can also book High Tea! We’ve made vacations at deluxe resorts with really limited time inside the theme parks because there is just so much to do and explore!

Space! In addition to the best locations on property, you’ll also get the most square footage in your room and even options for 1 and 2 bedroom spaces on club level floors as well as expanding your horizons to the villas. The rooms at Grand Floridian allow plenty of space for a family of 5 with 2 queen beds plus a day bed and still plenty of space for 5 suitcases (or a crib/pack n play if you are traveling with little ones) without feeling like you are tripping over each other. It’s a huge difference in the experience, especially coming from the tiny rooms at the All Star resorts!

I can’t wait for my next deluxe resort stay! I know it’s an additional cost out of pocket, but the benefits are perfect for our family! We are a fairly frugal family and I’m fairly plain as it relates to the clothing/name brand I purchase, but these “name brand” Disney experiences are absolutely worth the upgrade! If you’re looking to upgrade from your usual value or moderate resort stays, you can “try out” the lower cost rooms at either Wilderness Lodge or Animal Kingdom Lodge before you go on the very high end of the puzzle like a club level or theme park view room!

A free gift for your Disney vacation! The amazing and exciting Minnie Box! (subject to minimum vacation package)

A free gift for your Disney vacation! The amazing and exciting Minnie Box! (subject to minimum vacation package)

Ready to get started planning your 2016 Disney World vacation? Please contact me at any time for a free quote. The benefits to using an authorized Disney vacation planner include saving time before and during your vacation with itinerary planning which can help save you hours of standing in line each day. Plus you won’t have to watch for available discounts, research resorts, wake up early for dining reservations, or stay up late for FastPasses. The best part about using a travel planner instead of planning yourself? It’s totally FREE! Plus I’ll take away some of the stress and confusion of planning a Disney vacation (especially if it’s your first one!)It’s also a worry free vacation opportunity. I’ll walk through through all of the steps to the process with a few little insider tips along the way! If you already have your vacation planned and are interested in transferring your vacation, ask me how!

 

101 Tips to Make for a Magical Disney World vacation – UPDATED for 2016!

 

For 2016 and 2017 Disney World vacations, these are the best tips and tricks! While there’s a million different opinions out there, who knows what’s current and what’s outdated! Having just come back from another research expedition in Disney World, I’m confident these tips will help you on your Disney World vacation!

In no particular order…
1. Research, research, research! The more you know, the better your trip!

2. If cost is an issue, know when the best deals are. If crowd levels are an issue, know when the lowest crowd times are (hint, they are typically very similar times). Crowd calendar 2015, best times for 2016.

3. Start walking before you go. You can easily log 8-10 miles a day at Disney and while you take breaks, you’ll need to build some endurance. Take some family walks and start to get your legs ready!

4. STAY ON PROPERTY! While it may seem more expensive on the surface, you won’t need to rent a car, get transportation to/from the airport, or pay for parking.

5. Think about using a travel agent. We know how to get the best discounts, when promotional rates come out, and are actively looking to save you time and money! Plus, we are FREE to work with!!! The biggest thing I’m here to help with is lower your stress level as it relates to your trip – limiting the amount of research you’ll have to do as it relates to choosing a resort, making dining reservations, and FastPass selections!

6. If you book your Disney vacation before a discount comes out, you will have to call Disney to apply the new discount. It doesn’t get changed automatically. During a big discount, you may be on hold for a very long time!

7. Think about your budget. Now think about adding about 20% more to it to make it a more reasonable number for Disney. You can definitely do Disney on the cheap, but if you’re thinking about cost the whole time, it makes it less fun for the adults!

8. Look into the dining plan and what it includes. See if it’s for you (or how you can get it for free!)

9. Make sure Disney knows about any celebrations during your stay! You’ll get a few freebies and some recognition as well.

10. Children under 3 are free in Disney. If you’re thinking about a vacation before or after your child turns 3, you’ll likely save at least $300 if you go when they’re 2 and that’s just tickets! We’ve traveled 3 times with my daughter before the age of 3 and saved a boatload on them park ticket costs AND dining plan. With her love of character dining, we can eat on our adult dining credits and she eats for free! Doing the math, we saved about $30/day on food because she’s under 3!!!

11. Similarly, Disney considers 10 year olds Disney adults. That means there’s a price break between 9 and 10. Park tickets don’t make a huge difference, but dining does!

12. Park tickets become cheaper the more days you add (sometimes adding a day of park tickets can be as low as $30 for a family of 3-4). Disney does the math for you when you are booking your package, so check it out!

13. Plan for a day off. Disney can get exhausting. Make sure you take a break during your trip, whether it’s a planned pool day, downtown Disney, or just a day without parks. You won’t get bored!

14. Ask questions! If you’re in Disney and are confused, lost, or need help, cast members (Disney employees) are here to help!

15. Plan at least one table service dinner. Even if you’re not on the dining plan, it’s a good experience! And consider that meal to be at one of the deluxe resorts – call it research!!

16. Try new food! You’re on vacation. Don’t be afraid to book a unique restaurant or menu item (especially on the dining plan!) 

17. Ask your server for suggestions. They’ll give you a good opinion or at least tell you the most popular menu items.

18. Save room for dessert! There’s some awesome options on all the menus.

19. Explore other resorts. It’s fun to just look around another resort if you’re in the area (think Magic Kingdom and Epcot areas). You don’t need any sort of ticket or pass to walk around in the common areas. It’s fun to look around!

20. Bring sunscreen and wear it! Bring more than you think you need. Nothing like feeling miserable and uncomfortable after one day of vacation! Reapply after pool or water rides.

21. Bring snacks to the park. You can also bring your own water bottles. Anything except glass and alcohol is allowed into the parks! If you have a place to store it or are fine carrying it, you’ll save a ton of money!

22. Bring your own stroller. Sure it’s a pain to lug it through the airport and check it at the gate, but it’s better than $18/day for a single stroller or $31/day for a double stroller! If you don’t have a stroller anymore or don’t want to bring your own, think about a rental from a 3rd party group. The strollers are more comfortable, easier to push, and less expensive!

23. Decorate your stroller so you know it’s yours. Colored ribbon, a sign, etc. will all be helpful. Yes you left it in a certain place, but cast members rearrange strollers for the most capacity. This is especially helpful if you are renting a stroller.

24. Share meals. Share meals! Seriously. For quick service/counter service meals, start with one meal for every 2 people. You can always go back and get another or one or get a snack to share. Don’t throw away the expensive food!!! Look at appetizers and meals to share for table service meals. If you made a reservation and you’re not that hungry, don’t be afraid to share a meal. The only place you can’t share are buffet meals, special meals like Fantasmic dining package or Candlelight Processional, and meals served family style like Ohana and Garden Grill. Via Napoli does not allow sharing on the dining plan, but you can share if paying out of pocket.

25. Bring your refillable mugs to the parks! While you can’t officially refill them, it’s a great way to share one of the large fountain drinks from counter service meals. You can also fill them with water from the water fountains or ask for some free ice water at any counter service (a word of warning that Orlando water doesn’t taste the greatest!)

26. Use Disney transportation. It’s FREE! It adds to the experience of Disney.

27. Know how to get from here to there BEFORE you leave! If you need to make a cheat sheet on your phone or index cards, do it! You’ll save headaches later.

28. Driving to Disney? Parking is free at your resort and all the theme parks if you stay in a Disney resort! Bring a GPS or some directions to get you to the main roads. Once there, Disney signage is great to get you to your destination. Get an idea of where your destination is and how Disney breaks up the resorts into 5 categories – Magic Kingdom area, Epcot area, Disney Springs area, and Wide World of Sports area. Knowing which area you are going to will help you get around by following signs!

29. Download the My Disney Experience app to your smart phone. You can update reservations on the fly and check for various show times and character meets in the park.

30. Arrive at the parks 30-45 minutes prior to park open. At times the parks open before the posted time. You can get through more of the park in the first 2-3 hours of the day than any other time!

31. Even if you’re tired, wake up for “rope drop” (park opening). You can always take a break later.

32. Take breaks! Whether it’s for lunch inside the park or a nap or some pool time outside of the park. You can’t make it 12-14 hours in the park without a break.

33. Be aware of Extra Magic Hours. Late hours are great to get some more popular attractions out of the way. If you are willing to get up early for morning Magic Hours, make sure you arrive before the park opens, otherwise it’s not worth it. If you have base tickets, beware that parks with extra magic hours in the AM will make the parks more crowded by noon and more difficult to manage!

34. Fall brings some early park closures to the general public. Check the park hours on Disney’s website for days that close early due to special events. You may want to avoid that park. Animal Kingdom also closes earlier during lower crowd levels (which will change in April when Rivers of Light opens which will have evening offerings). Make sure you plan ahead if you have park hopper tickets.

35. Make your FastPass+ reservations at your 60 day window – this is for your entire vacation. This opens at midnight EST. If you want to meet Anna & Elsa, this needs to be done the second the window opens! Make sure your reservations are made at least 30 days in advance as that’s when day guests can make reservations.

36. Take advantage of all your FastPass+ allotments. Even if you aren’t sure, book it!

37. Make your dining reservations as soon as possible. This has become extremely competitive in the last 2-3 years. Resort guests can make reservations 180 days in advance (this is for your entire vacation, not just one day). If you don’t have a resort reservation, you can make reservations 180 days in advance (but you’ll have to do it each day).

38. Be Our Guest in Magic Kingdom requires reservations for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Breakfast and lunch are quick service meals so it doesn’t follow the normal rule of thumb for reservations. Breakfast is a great way to start the day and a great value on your dining plan!

39. Package reservations must be paid in full 30 days prior to your arrival. Room only reservations are paid upon arrival. If you are looking to purchase room + tickets at minimum, do it as a package instead of separate entities. This protects your money! If you purchase tickets separately, they are non-refundable if you need to cancel your trip!

40. Think about online check in. If you are arriving earlier in the day, make sure Disney knows about it. While it’s no guarantee, the more they know, the better. It will also save you time when you arrive at your resort!

41. If you don’t like your room assignment on check in, you can always ask the front desk if there is another available room you can switch to (in a different location on the grounds). The worst they can say is no!

42. Wear good walking shoes! Flip flops are not good walking shoes. 6-12 miles each day depending on how long you are in the parks makes for an exhausting day in bad shoes.

43. Bring an extra pair of shoes in case one gets wet from rain or if you get a blister. If it’s supposed to be a rainy day, bring an extra pair of socks with you to keep your feet dryer.

44. Bring first aid supplies. Disney does have first aid at each of their theme parks, however bring some good band aids, blister band aids, and moleskin with you. It’ll save you walking time to get there and making your injuries worse.

45. On days with a threat of rain, pack a pair of sandals or crocs. This is the only time I’ll ever suggest sandals in Disney. EVER. More suggestions on what to do on rainy days.

46. Pack your own ponchos. You’ll save money. Don’t forget a poncho or tarp for your stroller!

47. Pack a ziplock bag or two for cameras and cell phones on rides where you can get wet.

48. Take a photo of where you parked. After a long, hot day, you may not remember. Also take a photo of your rental car’s license plate!

49. Bring an extension cord. There aren’t always enough plugs available or in a nice place.

50. Think about staying closer to the park you’ll be at the most. You’ll save time traveling to and from your resort each day.

51. If pool time is important to you, choose a location with a great pool. You may want to spend a little more money on a moderate or deluxe resort to have a water slide. My favorite pools are at Beach & Yacht Club, Animal Kingdom Lodge, Polynesian, Caribbean Beach, and Coronado Springs. Of the value resorts, Art of Animation and Pop Century have fun pools (but no water slides).

52. Decide if you want to park hop. I think park hopping is beneficial, but it may be too much for young children or your first trip. You will get to see more in less time. Add a park hopper to your tickets and cut down on the number of days of tickets giving you time to take a day off!

53. Explore Disney Springs. The World of Disney store has everything you could ever want to buy! You also have additional unique shopping and dining locations. As this area grows, it becomes to be more exciting!

54. Stay cool. Drink water, don’t get dehydrated. If you’re feeling ill find a cool indoor show to watch or take a little break in one of the bathrooms.

55. Stop and enjoy your surroundings. Running from one thing to the next isn’t very much fun! Enjoy your surroundings.

56. Don’t try and do too much. Don’t plan every second of every day. Go in with a general plan and be open to change.

57. Know height restrictions for different Disney attractions before you go. They are strict.

58. Don’t make your kids go on something they are afraid of. There’s always another trip another time.

59. Find free stuff in Disney! Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom gives you free cards. Play the game or just take the cards. It’s a great distraction.

60. Really enjoy each country of World Showcase in Epcot. They are really interesting and intricate. It’s also a great place to find characters! Check the times guide or My Disney Experience app for character locations and times. Also check out some of the amazing shows and entertainment around each country – my favorite is Voices of Liberty!

61. Take family photos with the Disney photographers. Your MagicBands will upload the photos to your account. Even if you don’t purchase them, it’s still fun!

62. If you see a Disney photographer hovering around, it’s likely because a pop up character meet will be on the way. If you want to know, ask! They’ll tell you the information they have.

63. Check out all the evening fireworks/shows. Magic Kingdom, Epcot, and Hollywood Studios each have one and they are all amazing, whether it’s the first or 100th time you’ve seen them.

64. Watch Magic Kingdom’s fireworks from different vantage points: Main Street, Tommorowland Bridge, Polynesian Beach, California Grill (reservations required) or even the Ticket and Transportation Center/monorail platform!

65. Get your spot for parades early. The shady spots go first, so if that’s important, stake your claim! Consider a FastPass for parades to save yourself some time – you can get a “front row seat” 30 minutes from the start of the parade. Grab a snack from Main Street Confectionary and enjoy!

66. Think about Memory Maker. You’ll be able to put your camera away and have tons of pictures for your return!

67. Customize your MagicBands. It’s so much fun to see the rainbow of colors arrive at your doorstep instead of plain gray ones.

68. Use your MagicBands to their fullest extent. They’re more than just a key to open your door. Pay for anything and everything in Disney World, gain entry to the parks, use your FastPasses, etc. It’s actually really fun!

69. Call Disney if you need more than one room. It’s easier to properly link the reservations and they can book it faster than you could online. While you’re on the phone, ask if there are any PIN codes attached to your account.

70. Start your vacation on Sunday. Friday night and Saturday night stays are the most expensive. Crowds are also highest on a Saturday. If flight costs don’t permit, it’s not the end of the world!

71. Arrive early in the day and leave late in the day. This will allow you the most time. Even if you’re not going to the parks.

72. Magical Express service TO your resort can take up to 90 minutes from your arrival. You’ll likely stop at other resorts on the way to your own. Be patient! Use the restroom prior to leaving the airport.

73. Magical Express service FROM your resort typically leaves 3 hours before your flight. Plan your flight accordingly. An early flight departure means an extremely early pick up time from your resort!

74. Be cautious before booking a dining reservation the night you arrive. Flights get delayed, things happen. Consider just eating quick service or scheduling something after you arrive if it’s important!

75. Try a character meal! Even if you are dining as adults, it’s fun to watch kids faces light up. There are some great locations with great food as well – 1900 Park Fare, Ohana, Garden Grill!

76. Don’t yell at your kids. You’re in public and people can hear you! I know it gets stressful, but keep it calm and remember you are on a family vacation. Enjoy your family!

77. Eat at off peak times. You’ll definitely be able to tell peak lunch and dinner times by the amount the crowds dwindle. If you can take advantage of that, you’ll get more for your time.

78. Did you know the average number of attractions done in a day is 8.5? While it’s definitely possible to do more, don’t have extreme expectations for your visit. You’ll very likely get more than that accomplished in Magic Kingdom.

79. Stop and enjoy the cupcakes. Contempo Cafe, Boardwalk Bakery, Starring Rolls, and many other wonderful locations!

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80. Study park maps before your arrive to know where you’re going on day one!

81. Grab a daily schedule for the parks on your way in. You’ll know about special events, live shows, and character meets.

82. If you are in line for an attraction before the park closes, you’ll be able to ride or meet a character. A cast member will turn you away if the park is already closed, but you won’t have to leave the line.

83. Disney buses run until the last guest is out of the parks. You won’t get left behind!

84. There’s a place for nursing mothers if you’re taking a very young child to Disney. Ask a cast member for more information. The Baby Care Center also has high chairs and some quiet areas for children older than infants!

85. Enjoy attractions more than once. Just because you already did them on this trip, doesn’t mean you can’t do it again, especially if the line is short! Same goes for characters. Just because you saw Mickey at dinner, doesn’t mean you kids won’t want to see him again in the parks!

86. Head straight for the headlining attractions/rides first thing in the morning when lines are shortest. Also consider a FastPass for these attractions!

87. Eat a decent breakfast. Even if you plan on enjoying some food at the parks, don’t go on an empty stomach and then get lost in running from ride to ride.

88. Pack some simple breakfast foods in your luggage. Pop Tarts and granola bars are easy grab and go things to get you to the parks early!

89. Think about club level service. Breakfast, snacks, hot and cold appetizers, happy hour drinks for adults, desserts, and after dinner cordials. It won’t be all of your meals, but we were able to keep full throughout our stay. Free bottled water too (some locations will just fill your containers with water)

90. Meet at least one character during your trip. I don’t care if it’s kids or adults, it’s still fun!

91. Prepare your kids for the trip: waiting in line, being courteous, using manners, etc.

92. If there are two lines, choose left. 95% of the time that line is shorter! Most of this is gone with the addition of FastPass lines, but it still exists in some locations.

93. The shops on Main Street in Magic Kingdom are open longer than the park. Shop on your way out after the fireworks show instead of heading out of the parks to wait for a bus!

94. Get a set of “first ears”!

95. Enjoy Club Cool in Epcot. Get a free beverage and try the different flavors of Coke around the world! Have your kids try Beverly!

96. Take a night off and watch a movie at your resort. Don’t like the movie your resort has, check out the other resorts!

97. Try Dole Whip (I prefer the floats!)

98. Sit and enjoy some of the live shows. Don’t feel like it’s a waste of time. They are truly enjoyable and it’s a load off your feet. Best done in the middle of the day when it’s hottest or during a storm!

99. Pay attention to the details! The different things on Cinderella’s Castle, all the animals in the Tree of Life, etc. It’s truly amazing!

100. Think about a dinner show! Disney has 3 on property and they’ll all really fun! Two credits on the dining plan or a decent out of pocket charge, but it’s a great way to take a nice long break!

101. Learn about Pin Trading and trade with cast members!

Whew! Did I forget anything important?

A free gift for Disney vacation! The amazing and exciting Minnie Box!

A free gift for Disney vacation! The amazing and exciting Minnie Box!

Ready to get started planning your 2016 Disney World vacation? Please contact me at any time for a free quote. The benefits to using an authorized Disney vacation planner include saving time before and during your vacation with itinerary planning which can help save you hours of standing in line each day. Plus you won’t have to watch for available discounts, research resorts, wake up early for dining reservations, or stay up late for FastPasses. The best part about using a travel planner instead of planning yourself? It’s totally FREE! Plus I’ll take away some of the stress and confusion of planning a Disney vacation (especially if it’s your first one!)It’s also a worry free vacation opportunity. I’ll walk through through all of the steps to the process with a few little insider tips along the way! If you already have your vacation planned and are interested in transferring your vacation, ask me how!