Everything you need to know about your Disney World MagicBands!

MagicBands

As part of MyMagic+ and staying on property at a Walt Disney World resort, each member of your party will receive a MagicBand. Regardless of age, each member will be able to customize their very own (even babies and under 3 year olds who don’t require tickets!) This small wristband feels like a rubber/plastic composite and an RFID chip inside. In the last several months, the material the bands are made out of has changed making it a more breathable and lighter! These little guys are adjustable (similar to how a baseball cap is adjustable in the back with little plastic snaps) and have the ability to make a really small version for tiny wrists. Disney truly does thing of everything.

Snaps on the back of the MagicBand to fit to any wrist size!

Snaps on the back of the MagicBand to fit to any wrist size!

So your trip is booked and it’s time to customize your MagicBands, now what? Once logged into you’re My Disney Experience (MDE) account and your reservation linked, you will have access to your MagicBands. Use the drop down on the right and choose MagicBands and Cards.

You will have a list of all of your guests and get to choose a color and a name or nickname for each person. Color choices include: red, yellow, green, blue, gray, orange, purple, or pink. You may also enter a name or nickname which is a maximum of 9 characters including letters, numbers or spacing. Your choice is case sensitive. Feel free to be creative! The nickname on the inside of the band isn’t used for anything – the name that appears on your reservation will be what pops up on the cast member’s screen when scanning your band. BUT, get creative! Family of 4 want to be Minnie, Mickey, Donald and Daisy? You got it! There’s no limit to your levels of creativity here! Names will also be imprinted on the inside of each band. Once you are done with your customization you need to confirm your address and mark them as DONE. This important step will save all of your changes and keep you from getting all gray bands! You are also welcome to choose the same color as another member of your family!

You’ll get a countdown of how many days you have left to customize your bands, but typically goes into customization 30 days prior to your arrival and ships shortly after that via  USPS mail.  Delivery comes in a plain brown box, so if you’re keeping a secret from your kids (and bravo to you!) just follow the package delivery to make sure you get the mail that day. The return address does say it’s from Disney, so it’s not completely anonymous!

Opening your MagicBand package

Plain packaging for delivery of our MagicBands

Plain packaging for delivery of our MagicBands

While I’m an adult, Disney always makes me a kid at heart, so watching and (im)patiently waiting for their arrival even though I’ve received more than 10 separate MagicBand deliveries!

Taking it out of the packaging is incredible (get it?) The inside packaging is also really well done and exciting as well! Each MagicBand is labeled by the name or nickname you chose during customization. While we only have two, it looks like that specific packaging could fit up to 5 in each. if you have a larger party, you’ll receive more than one box full.

Incredible packing of our MagicBands!

Incredible packing of our MagicBands!

I took my band out to try it on for size. Trying to make the snaps work with one hand was somewhat difficult, especially for this mama who does things with one hand all the time (a baby typically in the other). Once I finagled it on my wrist, the fit felt pretty perfect! I’m used to wearing a watch, so it didn’t feel much different. After I wore it around the house for awhile, made dinner, hung out with the baby, who seemed very interested in the band on my wrist as well as the box.

I decided to pick up the inside packaging and there was a little pamphlet discussing all the capabilities while on Disney property and a warning for those with pacemakers. If you booked your Disney vacation as a package (minimum room + tickets), you’ll also receive souvenir luggage tags with a corresponding Disney character on it. These tags are DIFFERENT from your Magical Express luggage tags which are sent via separate delivery.

After your vacation, they are yours to keep. They will remain linked to your My Disney Experience account unless you deactivate them or mark one as lost or stolen. They will remain available for use for the next 2-3 year and are reusable for future vacation! By booking an on site reservation on a Disney resort, you will receive a new band for each reservation so if yo lose track of your bands between trips, you can always receive a new set. If you don’t want to keep them, Disney will recycle them for you. Ask a Cast Member at your resort for more details.

In more recent times, Disney has also allowed those of us that travel more often to decline a MagicBand if they identify that there is an active band associated with your account. I’m a collector, so I’ve yet to decline a band yet! I usually bring 2-3 with me when we travel so I can color coordinate as well.

So what does my MagicBand do and why do I need one?

  • MagicBands are your new Key to the World and they do a whole lot more than the old system. You can:
  • Open your resort hotel room door
  • Enter the parks each day (if you have linked park tickets to your account) – it will also hold special event tickets
  • Access your FastPass+ selections (for guests that have linked park tickets to their account and made FastPass+ selections prior to arrival)
  • Link any photos you take on property to your My Disney PhotoPass/Memory Maker account
  • Using your Disney dining plan credits
  • Make purchases around Disney property. By setting up a 4 digit pin prior to your arrival or at check in, you don’t even need a wallet in Disney! . You’re just a wave away from payment! Parents, don’t worry, you have to enable charging privileges for your children.
Even babies love MagicBands!!!

Even babies love MagicBands (and how they grow so fast!!!)

Arriving at the Orlando Airport & Boarding Disney’s Magical Express

Make sure your MagicBands go in your carry on luggage. You’ll need them to access your Magical Express (Disney bus taking you from the airport to your hotel). Once you arrive at the airport, head straight to the Magical Express and you will be sent to your first line of your Disney World vacation! This is a great opportunity to put on your MagicBands. Once your bus arrives, each band will be scanned before you are allowed onto the bus. Remember, Disney will take all your luggage straight to your room, so this process makes getting to resort even faster! Remember, plan for about 75-90 minutes from arrival time at the airport to arrival at your resort. It could be less and the bus ride seems to go fast while you enjoy the welcome from Disney characters!

Arriving at your resort hotel

Once you arrive at your resort, find the correct line to check in: 1. online check in if you checked you in online prior to your arrival or 2. the check in/check out desk which is available if you did not do online check in. One of the very nice cast members will help walk you through the process of check in, confirming all of your contact and billing information as well as using your MagicBands to pull up your reservation! Once your room is ready, you’ll be asked to tap your MagicBands to your door. If you’re staying club level at one of the deluxe resorts, you’ll be asked to tap each MagicBands to your door to register them as a club level guest. You may also have received a direct to room notification if you completed online check in and you can head right to your room and bypass the front desk!

Heading to the theme parks

Once you are checked in, you are able to use your park tickets and dining plan! Whether your room is ready or not, you can head to the parks (another benefit to arriving early in the day!) If you are driving to the park, the driver will need to present his or her MagicBand at the gate to prove your stay inside one of the Disney resort hotels allowing you free parking! You’ll find one of the many MagicBand scanners in the park, mostly noted by the giant Mickey Heads! Hold your band to Mickey’s head as it reads the RFID chip. Once that’s done, choose one of your fingers to put on the finger scanner. You’ll need to use the same finger every single time afterwards. This will turn Mickey’s head green and you’re off to enjoy your first attraction! If there are any issues, you’ll get a blue flashing light and to be asked to try again.

Using your FastPass+ reservations Your FastPass+ reservations will be available via your MagicBands. Each attraction that has FastPass+ capability will have the same Mickey Heads at their FastPass entry. Hold your band to Mickey to wait for the green light. You are unable to arrive prior to your FastPass+ time, but you are given several minutes of grace period after your reservation time ends (I tried 20 minutes late which was too long). For suggestions on making your FastPass+ reservations or what attractions are available, review the most up to date FastPass+ strategy for Disney World Resort Guests.

Extra Magic Hours

What if I’m taking advantage of Extra Magic Hours? It’s different for morning and evening hours. For morning magic hours, only Disney hotel guests are able to enter the park early. You’ll need to show your MagicBand at entry only. For evening hours, one member of your party will need to show your MagicBand for scanning at the entrance to each attraction available during extra magic hours. A cast member will ask how many is joining in your party as you enter to save on scanning each and every time!

Charging to your MagicBands

When you do online check in OR check into your resort, you will be asked to set up a 4 digit pin to allow charges via your MagicBand. The pin can be different for each adult or the same for each member of your party. Additionally, based on age, some children will not be allowed charging privileges at all. Some older children may be allowed to charge with parental permission (they’d need access to the pin as well). If you don’t want your children to purchase anything, that’s ok too.

Dining Plan Credits

If you elected to add Disney’s Dining Plan to your package, your dining plan credits will also be on your MagicBands. Your MagicBand will be scanned to use your credits. As always, your remaining credits will be listed at the bottom of your receipt.

Taking Photos/Memory Maker

Each photographer is now armed with a scanning device. So take as many photos as you’d like, enjoy the benefits of Disney’s Memory Maker package! After you are done with your photos, the photographer will scan one MagicBand and the photos will be instantly added to your account! Again, easier than trying to keep track of another card along the way of your entire vacation!

What if I’m staying at 2 separate Disney hotels/resorts or have 2 reservations because of 2 discounts?

We actually stayed at 2 different resorts so had 2 MagicBands each. Our first resort reservation had our hotel and park tickets and the second was a room only reservation. We were told to formally check out of our first resort (instead of leaving the reservation open through the end of the day). When we arrived at the second resort, we were told that both sets of bands would work for both the resort entry as well as the park tickets. We brought both sets of bands with to the park that day and the cast member was correct! We were able to use our new bands to continue our park tickets.

My review of MagicBands

I really enjoyed using our MagicBands! We used them for everything. I never had to worry about digging in my bag for my Key to the World card to get into the park or grab my credit card to pay for anything (especially as we toured World Showcase in Epcot). We never had a problem throughout our entire trip getting into our hotel room, accessing the parks and our FastPass+ reservations, charging at quick service or table service restaurants, etc. It was a great overall experience with no snafus! I’m excited for others to try this upgrade to Disney technology!

Related posts:

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 or 2017 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 cruise 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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Planning your Spring 2016 Disney World vacation

spring2016 (1)

The holidays are over and guests across the country (and really around the world) are planning their 2016 vacations. It’s really the perfect time to talk about spring! This guide is specifically for guests traveling in March, April, May, and early June. There is a guide for early 2016 travelers which covers January, February, and March (there is some overlap in March in “early” and “spring!)

There is plenty of time to plan for ANY of these travel dates, whether it’s grabbing a dining reservation, planning FastPasses, or having the perfect warm weather getaway in the Orlando sun!

The spring months are really a great time to travel for several reasons. Outside of the peak spring break weeks in March through Easter, crowds are very manageable. We were happily surprised to have a very “dead” day in Magic Kingdom at the end of April 2015. Most spring breaks are clustered before Easter, although you may see some after March 27th into the first week or two of April,but I wouldn’t expect to overcrowd the parks!

As March and April hit, Disney begins to extend park hours into the 10 and 11 pm hours. This is a great way to maximize your money and your park time and also leans well to having a nice mid-day break from the action, whether it’s to get in a bit of swim time, check out Disney Springs, or just rest your feet!

A few busier times to note for this time of year:IMG_4982 (2)

  • Most of March (beyond March 8th for spring break season through April 2nd)
  • Star Wars Half Marathon: Dark Side – April 14-17
  • After June 5th as kids start to end school (Florida schools typically end about a week later, so if you have an early release, take advantage!)

 

While all months of the year see rain in the Orlando area, these months are not considered peak rainy season. That being said, you’re likely to see a touch of rain here or there (sorry, I can’t control the weather) but hopefully it will be minimal!

Crowd Calendars

Below are projections of crowds for early 2016. Click the images below to see the images larger! These are subject to change. Please don’t be concerned about a “red days”. You will have a magical experience no matter what time of year you travel. Typically it’s not “wall to wall” crowds!

March 2016 Crowd calendar

March 2016 (Click to Enlarge)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

April 2016 (Click to Enlarge)

 

 

 

 

 

 

May 2016 Crowd Caneldar (Click to Enlarge)

May 2016 Crowd Caneldar (Click to Enlarge)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

June 2016 Crowds Calendar (Click to Enlarge)

June 2016 Crowds Calendar (Click to Enlarge)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Saving Money

Save up to 30% on your resort stay for travel dates in April, May, and June and up to 25% off of resort stays in February and March!

Book By
February 28, 2016

Valid Travel Dates
February 22, 2016 through June 11, 2016

Important Details

  • Savings based on the non-discounted price for the same room.
  • The number of rooms allocated for this offer is limited.
  • Moderate and Deluxe suites may be available at a lesser discount.
  • Additional per adult charges may apply if there are more than 2 adults per room at Disney Value, Moderate and Deluxe Resorts.
  • Upgrade to a room and ticket package with minimum 4-day Magic Your Way theme park tickets, and receive one more complimentary ticket day.

Like all promotional rates, there are exclusions which include the usual suspects – Little Mermaid rooms at Art of Animation, Bay Lake Tower, Villas at Grand Floridian, the campsites at Ft Wilderness, and all 3 Bedroom Villas. This promotional offer also excludes Port Orleans French Quarter.

Refurbishments

This time of year is not often considered “peak” for refurbishment as Disney tries to provide the least amount of guest inconvenience. While you’ll still see some closures before the summer season, it’s typically reasonable! We’ve seen things closed like Test Track, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, and a few days of update on its a small world, but it’s not too bad!

  • Boardwalk & Boardwalk Villas exterior repainting (through May 5)
  • Animal Kingdom Villas – Jambo House Soft Goods Rehab (Jan 1 – May 20)
  • Art of Animation Sprayground (kids splash play area) (Jan 3 – March 11)
  • Soarin’ (Jan 4 – Summer 2016)WL
  • Pizza Planet (Jan 11 – Late 2016)
  • Planet Hollywood  (Jan 6 – summer 2016)
  • Typhoon Lagoon annual refurbishment (Jan 3 – March 12)
  • Beach Club Villas Soft Goods Rehab (Jan 22 – August 17)
  • Flights of Wonder (Jan 25 – March 17)
  • Wilderness Lodge & Villas (multiple refurbishment projects running through 2017)
  • Flying Fish Cafe (Feb 1 – Sept 30)
  • Bay Cove Pool at Bay Lake Tower (Feb 1 – March 18)

Thankfully, only Soarin’ is the only attraction with a “major” impact on guest travel!

Limited Time Experiences!

So what makes this time of year unique? A few really exciting things this year.

Symphony in the Stars This popular limited time fireworks experience in Hollywood Studios is returning on a nightly basis. As of January 5, you’ll also be able to book a Fireworks Dessert party! (currently scheduled to end in early March but may get extended based on popularity)

Growing Star Wars presence in Hollywood Studios. On December 1st, Disney opened Star Wars Launch Bay, updated Star Tours to include scenes from the new film, updated Jedi Training academy featuring a new villain and updated experience as well as a new themed stage, and new character meet and greets – you can visit the dark side and find Darth Vader or the light side and find Chewbacca! These experiences are available EVERY DAY instead of just limited time during Star Wars weekends!

Minnie’s Seasonal Dine at Hollywood & Vine. Each season, Minnie will host a character dinner at Hollywood & Vine which can be coupled with the Fantasmic dining package. This experience will allow you to meet Minnie and her friends (the holiday version came with Goofy & Mickey). In winter, you can “dine with the stars”! Plenty of good reservations are still available. As of March 21, the experience will change over to a “spring” themed experience (booking is not available fg2for this time-frame yet, so there’s still a chance to get a great character dining experience during peak travel time!)

Epcot’s Flower & Garden Festival. This annual experience continues to grow (excuse the pun). This year the Flower & Garden Festival is extended to 90 magical days and begins on March 2nd and ends much later in May than in past years! You can see your favorite Disney characters made into gorgeous topiaries and nosh on some tasty food in the “fresh kitchens” around World showcase. This is a huge change in experience from several years ago as the kitchen experience continues to grow! I can’t wait to see what’s new this year.

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!

What’s New Wednesday! Weekly roundup around Disney destinations

It’s a new installment here on A Little WDW Magic called “What’s New Wednesday”! It’s a way for us to get you the new information for the past week around Disney destinations (Disney World, Disneyland, Disney Cruise Line for the most part with a little bit of Adventures by Disney and Aulani news here and there). It will allow both new and old readers to get the tips and tricks they love and need while keeping updated on some of the new things happening around Disney parks and destinations. So let’s check out this week’s roundup…

Disney World

  • Downtown Disney OFFICIALLY becomes Disney Springs today! It’s an exciting transition that has been in progress for a few years now. All of the online presence on Disney’s web sites now says Disney Springs. They have been working on changing signage around property over the last month or so.
  • Morimoto Asia in Disney Springs will be opening this week! Another great addition to the area providing some unique and delicious dining. You will see this location available for dining on DisneyWorld.com/Dining in the coming months
  • Jock Lindsey’s Hanger Bar is now open in Disney Springs! This nod to Indiana Jones has been a popular destination since it’s opening. This location does not accept Disney’s dining plan, but it’s a great place to grab a drink and some tapas style appetizers.
  • Hollywood Studios popular Jedi Training Academy will be closed for a refurbishment beginning October 4th. No word on how long this refurbishment will last, but lots of disappointment fall travelers on this one!
  • TWO new promotional offers available for Disney World travel 2016 travel dates in January, February, March, and early April. Check out the full details HERE.
  • The Salute to the Military offer for military members and their families has returned for 2016!

Disneyland

  • Seasons of the Force will begin on November 16th at Disneyland which includes:
    • Star Wars Launch Bay – Offering opportunities to visit with favorite Star wars characters, special exhibits and peeks at the new Star Wars; The Force Awakens
    • Star Tours the Adventure Continues – Updated attraction with scenes from the new film!
    • Jedi Training – Trials of the Temple – Coming in December to Disneyland. It will introduce new characters and a new villain!
    • Hyperspace Mountain – Reimaging of the classic Space Mountain ride (for a limited time only)
    • Opportunity to revisit favorite scenes from classic Star Wars movies at Tomorrowland Theater (limited time)
    • Special themed food & beverage items (limited time)
  • The New Star Wars Land will break ground in early 2016 which will permanent close some attractions in Frontierland , Big Thunder Range including Big Thunder Range BBQ, Petting Zoo and Big Thunder Ranch Jamboree. The last day for these attractions will be Jan 10, 2016.
  • The following Disneyland attractions will close for approximately 1 year beginning Jan 10, 2016:
    • Disneyland Railroad (all stations)
    • Fantasmic!
    • Mark Twain Riverboat & Sailing Ship Columbia
    • Pirate’s Lair on Tom Saywers Island
    • Davy Crockett Explorer Canoes

That’s this week’s WHAT’S NEW! We’ll continue to update you on important breaking changes!

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 late 2015 or 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!

Friday Five: 5 Theme park events included with your park admission

Today is opening day for the International Food & Wine Festival, so today we are going to talk about 5 amazing events that happen each year that are included in your park admission!

1. Food & Wine Festival (Epcot). This is the best of the best in terms of special events. Epcot World Showcase (and part of Future World) get transformed into a bustling marketplace full of amazing smells and tastes! Take your taste buds on a trip around the world with more food and drink than you could ever consume. The biggest trouble you’ll have here is figuring out how much you can eat. This is a GREAT place to use your snack credits if you have a Disney dining plan. This event happens every fall typically late September through early to mid-November.

A little taste of Osborne lights!

A little taste of Osborne lights!

2. Osborne Festival of Lights (Hollywood Studios) 2015 marks the end of this amazing experience which runs from early November through the holiday season (usually into January). Streets of America gets turned into millions of lights from all directions and the lights are choreographed to amazing holiday music. I could sit on the ground and watch it for hours. There are so many lights that cast members begin to put them up in SEPTEMBER. Seriously, a not to be missed experience and this is the last year it will ever be seen in Walt Disney World so what are you waiting for?

3. Flower & Garden Festival (Epcot). This festival has becoming a mini food & wine festival with the addition of pop up “kitchens” around World Showcase. Originally, the event started as over 100 topiaries of Disney characters old and new lined much of Epcot. It has become a favorite event of ours because crowds are not often high and there are all sorts of fun snacks, drinks,and things to see! There’s even a butterfly garden! It makes Epcot more appealing for those who think it’s not a worthy park to visit. This event typically runs from early March through early  Mary.

4. Star Wars Weekends (Hollywood Studios). An event that will likely grow and grow. Star Wars weekends

happen in Hollywood Studios from Mid-May to Mid-June. Special meet and greets with star wars characters,Star Wars themed dining, special fireworks and a themed parade are highlights of this event. It’s truly fun and unique whether you enjoy Star Wars or not! If not, you better start enjoying it with the Star Wars presence only growing (Disney announced a Star Wars land coming to Hollywood Studios in the next few years)

5. Candlelight Processional (Epcot). This event comes with a little asterisk. While this amazing holiday experience is free to the general public, the theater it is held in is small. Disney offers dinner packages to allow you to guarantee a seat to experience the retelling of Christmas by celebrity narrators accompanied with an orchestra and choir. It’s a magical way to enjoy the holiday season. This event happens 3 times nightly (with a few exceptions). Still a very loved experience by my family! This event begins after Thanksgiving and runs through the Christmas season.

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 enjoy one of these amazing Disney experiences? Please contact me at any time for a free quote. We can talk about the best park tickets, resorts, and package inclusions for you! 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!

Friday Five:  5 ways to have a successful Disney Water Park day!

 

While this time of year doesn’t really spark the water park conversation, the weather in Florida stays warmer longer, so today’s Friday Five is how to have a successful Disney World Water park day. There are lots of little tidbits here and there, and most of them agree on many of the tips below. 

1. Research ahead of time Know the routes you are going to take and the first few slides/rides to do first. At Blizzard Beach, if you dare to do Summit Plummet, you better know to go straight there. Do not pass go, do no collect $200. It’s actually better if someone in your group (like me for my family) doesn’t want to ride. That person can be the designated towel holder, chair grabber for the day and can even grab a locker for your stuff. Another piece of important research is to know what your park tickets offer you. If you are purchasing a 1 day water park ticket, it is now technically a water park hopper ticket so you can visit both water parks in the same day. If you have the water park fun and more tickets with your package, you can use 2 allotments to visit both water parks in the same day. Why is this important? Well, if you are renting a locker, it’s a money saver. Keep your receipt and just pay your refundable deposit (which you will get back at the time you return your key)

2. Bring your own towels & rent a locker Did you know that towels are not free at the water parks? There is a non-refundable deposit required at each of the water parks. If you water park hop, they are also not included in the cost. We take towels from our resort room and bring them with to save the fee. We also bring big beach towels from home and keep them in our car. If you are using Disney transportation, rent a locker and bring a change of clothes before your return back “home” at the end of the day. The worst feeling is leaving the water park wet and cold and then getting a freezing cold bus!

3. Arrive early (or arrive really late) The old Disney adage – arrive early! If you’re ready ANY of my previous posts, it’s the key
to every Disney vacation. This holds true for the waterparks as well. It is very important to be on one of the first buses there and wear your swimsuit there. Don’t waste time changing after arrival. The first 20-30 minutes of the park opening is precious. The earlier you arrive, the closer to the front of the line you will be in. Many of the water park buses share with another resort, so be aware of that as you plan your departure time. If you can’t arrive early, plan on arriving really late – meaning arriving within the last 2 hours the park is open. This is about the time many people are leaving for dinner reservations or evening theme park time (especially when the park closes at 5 or 6 pm). We found the parks fairly empty and enjoyed walking on to almost everything!

4. Important things to purchase prior to your arrival. Sunscreen, water shoes (or decent sandals) and some sort of holder for sunglasses (if you don’t want them lost or broken). You may need to take your shoes or sandals off for some of the rides (especially body slides) but for most slides, you can wear them. It’s a great way to combat the HOT sun on the sidewalks. Disney does have little misters to cool some of the sidewalks but there were lots of people with very hot feet running from one place to the ends. Not for me! I like to saunter 🙂 

5. Use the lazy river as transportation For the ultimate in laziness…if you are going from one side of the water park to the other and not in any hurry, hop in the lazy river! It was our preferred mode of transportation. There are several entry and exit points around both parks, so you might as well enjoy the ride!

Disney water parks are well themed, a fun diversion from the water parks, and an enjoyable way to beat the heat during the warmer months of the year! For those with little ones – a little bonus tip – Typhoon Lagoon felt a little more family friendly than Blizzard Beach. It also always feels a little less crowded when both water parks are in full operation.

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 2015  or 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!

Friday Five: 5 ways to plan for rainy days at Disney World

 

In Florida, it’s almost a guarantee that you’ll see some rain on your trip. We’ve had a few lucky trips that we didn’t see a drop of rain until after we were done with our last day of parks or on our departure day, but those have been few and far between. I think it’s good karma for being completely waterlogged for 7 whole days during a fluke May soaking in 2009. Needless to say, my family are PROS in when it comes to doing Disney in the rain. Here are 5 ways to plan ahead and to make the most of those rainy days:

  1. Buy ponchos and WEAR THEM. You can spend less than $5 at your local Walgreens/CVS or even Walmart to get a good quality poncho that won’t rip after 2 wears. We’ve been going strong with our $3 ponchos for 3 years now. Make sure you don’t forget about the little ones. There are kid sized ponchos and really remember the strollers too! Your littlest passengers may not mind a little rain, but having a cover to keep the stroller dry will go a long way.
  2. Engineer ways to keep your feet dry. The fastest way to blisters and a rough rest of a trip is wet socks and shoes. You have a few good options to keep your feet dry. If there is rain in the forecast, think about brining a pair of sandals or flip flops (we always, always, always wear tennis shoes to the parks because it’s too much walking for a shoe with no support for my puppies). If you want to keep your tennis shoes on, bring 1-2 extra pairs of socks to the parks with you and switch them out as they get damp.
  3. Don’t let it ruin your day! We’ve had some of our best (and least crowded) park days in the rain. A day in Magic Kingdom in which we walked on almost every ride we were planning on doing for the entire week, met essentially every character more than once, and I rescheduled my FastPasses so many times, I lost track because I didn’t need most of them until the afternoon. And I got a new perspective on Seven Dwarfs Mine Train in the pouring rain so it felt a little like Splash Mountain. Make the most of it and have fun.
  4. Do a little shopping or grab a bite to eat. If walking around in the rain (if you get a day FULL of rain), isn’t your thing, duck into the shops, look for an interesting and unique dining reservation at the last minute (sometimes those last minute reservations can be great ones – We’ve snagged Whispering Canyon, Ohana, and even Be Our Guest in less than 24 hours before we’ve dined).
  5. Take advantage of indoor attractions. See a show or two, enjoy Hall of Presidents or Country Bear Jamboree or explore Innoventions in Epcot. If you’ve got park hoppers, head to Magic Kingdom or Epcot to check off all of the shows you want to see in the time it’s raining.

Rides and attractions will remain open in the rain. If there are torrential downpours or lightning in the area, you will see some stoppage of rides, but usually that is just temporary. Likewise, fireworks will go off in the rain except for very heavy rains or lightning or insanely windy. If strong weather is eminent, you may see fireworks go off a bit earlier than planned. If you have questions, please check with a cast member!

Always remember, you planned this vacation for months and a little rain is not going to ruin your trip! In the words of Dory… Just keep swimming and as Elsa says, LET IT GO! You can still have a great vacation rain, sun, heat, or cold!!

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.he 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!

Five reasons staying at a Disney moderate resorts over a value resort is well worth the money!

 

Choosing your Disney resort is a nerve-wracking one. I have an internal struggle every time we make the decision to head to Disney World! One thing that’s not a very difficult choice for us is choosing a moderate resort over a value resort. I know it’s extra money out of pocket, but it’s absolutely worth the upgrade. WHY? There are so many reasons!

#1: BED SIZE! All value resorts have double beds while all moderate resorts have queen sized beds. For any 2 adults sleeping in the same bed for a week, you’ll be much more comfortable in a queen bed. For anyone tall, queen beds are essential as well. If you’ve got 2 older kids (bigger than 5-6 years old), it will give you more space for them to bed share or comfortable enough space on the floor.

#2 NOISE! You get what you pay for at value resort. It’s a popular destination with smaller kids as many families also start with a smaller budget. I’ve found that moderate resorts are a bit quieter. It’s easier to be off the beaten path if you want to be. If you are driving to Disney, you have many other places to park around a moderate resort.

#3 POOL! The feature (or main pool) experience at each moderate resort has an elaborate theme and a water slide. It’s one of the many upgrades by choosing a moderate resort. While moderate resorts are larger, they also have more quiet pools so if you want a relaxing and low stress pool experience, moderate resorts are a great way to have that experience.

#4 BUS TRANSPORT! Each moderate resort has multiple bus stops (exception being Port Orleans French Quarter because it’s smaller than the other resorts). Your bus stops are covered and you don’t feel like you’re standing in another line like at value resorts. Value resorts you are in the sun waiting in a queue. Less than ideal in the hot sun or on a rainy day. You also have benches to sit and relax while you wait for our bus. Getting back from your resort, your bus stop will be a bit closer than the value resorts as well, saving you valuable steps (especially at the end of the day when you just want to get “home”!

#5 THEME! Value resorts are more kid friendly in terms of theme. Moderate resorts have more of an adult theme with good kid friendly things inside the resort. If being immersed 24/7 by Disney characters and themes, values are the way to go. Moderate resorts tame down the things that scream “Disney” while still having the level of customer service and magic.

BONUS #6 DINING! Moderate resorts (exception French Quarter) have more than one dining option on site – at minimum 1 quick service and 1 table service restaurant. Coronado Springs has even more options as it’s also a convention hotel. Having a nice place to sit down to is a benefit to many guests! While French Quarter doesn’t have its own table service restaurant, it is a quick walk or boat ride away to get over to Riverside where additional dining options lie.

Over the course of a 6 night stay, you’ll expect to see a $250-$300 difference in price between a value and moderate resort. For my family, it’s well worth the extra money for us. The benefits definitely outweigh the additional cost.  As a mom and someone that works from home, I’m always about saving money, but this is one of the cases where a little bit more money is better than a bit of a lesser experience!