Young Kids At Disney – Tips to Survive (and Enjoy) Your Trip

Tips For Traveling With Young Kids at Disney

1 – Plan the Trip Around Your Children
While this probably seems obvious and makes sense, a lot of people first-timing it with childrenn forget that the trip needs to be planned around them.  If they have fun, you have fun (and you can still sneak in your own wants too).  More info in further tips…

2 – Prepare Your Children
Before going, make sure your kids are familiar with the characters they will meet at Disney.  If they haven’t experienced a parade, fireworks or other loud shows, determine if you think they’ll be able to handle it before getting a front row seat to Fantasmic or Festival of Fantasy.  YouTube has thousands of videos of the attractions, fireworkds, character interactions, restaurants, etc. that can be great to familiarize your children with unfamiliar aspects of the trip.  Disney also has a free Trip-Planning DVD available on their website.

3 – You Will Not Be Able To Do Everything
Know before you go that you will not be able to do everything.  Some shows may be too late, too long, too intense or too busy.

4 – Your Child’s Schedule Comes First
You know your child better than anyone else.  Are they more energetic in the mornings or afternoons?  Are they a napper?  Can they fall asleep in a stroller?  ADRs (Advanced Dining Reservations) are great, and can help you pick the best meal times.

5 – Strollers? Yes!
Definitely use one.  Little legs will get tired quickly walking around parks, and carrying your child can get very tiring.  Commercial airlines will gate-check your stroller if you’re flying to Orlando.  If you are driving and space is limited, renting may make more sense.
At the parks, there are stroller parking areas that can get full, and Disney will move strollers around as people come and go, so make sure yours is clearly labeled to make it easy to find.
Use the parking: you can leave your stroller at the carousel, for example, and go to it’s a small world, Peter Pan’s Flight, Mickey’s Philharmagic, 7 Dwarfs Mine Train, etc without having to move it.

6 – Keep Your First Trip Memorable
If you are only going once, wait until your children are old enough to enjoy and appreciate it.  If you plan to go multiple times, this is not as important, but you’ll want to make sure your kids are at an age that they’ll have a good time (and you will too).

7 – Picking a Resort – Options for Kids
There are many activities for kids of all ages at the different hotels.  Some have better pools, some have more activities (Fort Wilderness Lodge has trails, bikes, horses, archery), some have better food options and others have various daily activities (Animal Kingdom has animals to see).  If you’re unfamiliar with the Walt Disney World resorts, do your research beforehand.  In general, the value and moderate resorts are more geared toward children, but the deluxe resorts can also be fun.

8 – ADRs (Advanced Dining Reservations)
When making these, you need to include your kids in the numbers, it is based on how many seats you’ll be taking, not how many people will be eating.  Every restaurant has foods for kids, but it’ll be up to you to determine which places would work well foodwise, pricewise, and entertainment wise for your family.

 

what additional tips do you want to share? Please leave them in the comments below!

A Frozen Attraction – ideas from around the web

NOTE: This post was started some time in the past, and recently appeared as unpublished….

For the last week, I’ve been posting a question on my twitter account (@365DaysOfDisney): if you were to create a Frozen attraction at Walt Disney World, what would you do?  If YOU have an idea, please leave a comment on this post!

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 – Olaf slip and slide ride. Like on his belly. Smaller. More for kids. Barnstormers but longer and cuter.  I have a whole frozen expansion set up in my head for MK. It’s pretty pathetic.
 – Re-theme Tike’s Peak at Blizzard Beach into Olaf’s snowman-in-summer gag and then let us never speak of Frozen again.
 – blizzard beach should just be refurbished into Frozen summer? Rubbish name haha
 – I’ve been saying at least the Winterland/Summerland golf should be converted to extra Olaf-y
 – we’d have to make sure Olaf had his own personal flurry so he doesn’t melt in the burning process
 He can have a block of ice to lounge on.
 I mentioned it on but Blizzard Beach could be completely rethemed to it.
 maybe they could expand Blizzard Beach to add some Frozen-ness into the mix.
 I never thought about expanding blizzard beach! That’s a great idea
 speaking of those options, could reimagine disney quest to add it. It needs a refurb
 isn’t one of the water parks half way there already ?
 How about one where you ride on Olaf like a motorcycle and roundhouse kick the evil snowbeast in the face like ten times
it needs lots of fire. Like “oh man stuff is no longer frozen ITS ON FIRE RUN” and then you start the ride.
 could there be laser guns?
 Thousands. Oh and this would replace Dinosaur too but we wouldn’t get rid of the dinosaur animatronics
  they’d be target practice? Big game hunting on Olaf as he time travels?
 they could do some expanding but will need to make it Scandinavia
 Free fall ride as Marshmallow drops you from the cliff!
The Marshmallow Tower of Terror?
 Olaf invites you if you dare
 and when the elevator doors open, it’s Anna and Elsa’s parents staring at you?  whispering “Elsa, you could have saved us”
 and then at the end of the ride the trolls lecture them for bad parenting skills.  after they’ve broken up a few marriages of the tourists in the ride of course
BRGUEST @BRGUEST39  Three D dark ride
 that takes you through Arendelle?
BR yes and the North Mountain, Oaken’s and harbor.
Wes with a quick pass through the southern isles?
BR yeah lol
 a Frozen overlay of Blizzard Beach seems like a no-brainer. I looking forward to whatever they come up with as long as it isn’t another spinner.
 Maybe a boat ride or a dark ride. Going not through the story but maybe call it “Olafs Adventure” or something
  late to the party, but you got my imagineering juices flowing
  maybe they could replace Disco Yeti with Marshmallow?  OR a stage show that explains relation between Frozen’s Elsa and Incredibles’ Frozone… cousins?
 Old school “Himalaya” type bobsled ride! Complete with DJ playing dance mixes of Let It Go and Love is an Open Door.The place it would really fit would be the Boardwalk. Wouldn’t it be cool to have an attraction there? get rid of the dance club at the end… And create a outside dance club. Can’t you just picture the strings of lights? And an outdoor bar.Over the water would be so cool! There was a dance club at the boardwalk near me that was over water at high tide.
 Currently, Disney has rethemed the Maelstrom Ride into Frozen Ever After, which has proven incredibly popular with Frozen fans.  But, if YOU could add a Frozen attraction anywhere at Walt Disney World, what would it be, and where would you put it?  Leave a comment below!

Should I get a Walt Disney World annual pass?

Yes. Maybe.  It depends.

I’ve had a lot of people ask me this question…  They’re going to Walt Disney World for a certain amount of time, and are wondering if they should spend the money on an annual pass instead of whatever ticket they were going to get.

For most visitors to Walt Disney World (who aren’t from Florida or DVC members), a Disney Platinum Pass is going to cost you $779.  (as of posting this: May 1st, 2017)

If you are going to WDW for one week, a park hopper ticket (allowing you to go to multiple parks per day) is $485.  So when you compare the two, it’s about $300 more to get the annual pass.  Why would a person pay that much more money for one?   Well, there are some reasons, which when put together, may make sense.

1 – You think you may come back within 12 months.  If you’re going to come back for 3 or more days ($349), the annual pass is worth it.   So if you take a trip about every year or so, plan your trips accordingly.  One year, go August 15-22.  The next year, go August 7-14.  You get two trips out of one annual pass.  It pays for itself and saves you plenty of money.
2 – You brought your own car and you’re staying off property.  Parking costs $20 a day at Walt Disney World, so a week of driving in will be an extra $140.  The Disney Platinum Pass gives you free parking for the entire year.
3 – You love the Photopass pictures and on-ride pictures at the parks.  You can pay $149 for Memory Maker, unlimited photos during your stay.  The Disney Platinum Pass gives you free photos for the entire year.
4 – You do a lot of dining or shopping, or have a large group that will spend a good amount of money on food and souvenirs.  The Disney Platinum Pass gives you a discount of 10-20% off at a good number of restaurants, and 20% at a LOT of merchandise locations.
5 – You’re thinking of doing a tour or sports recreations at Walt Disney World.  The Disney Platinum Pass gives you a discount of 15% on many tours, including Behind the Seeds, Keys to the Kingdom, and on mini-golfing, spas and other recreations.
6 – If you’re planning on staying onsite at a Walt Disney World resort, having an annual pass can save you quite a lot on your resort room.  Staying for only 2 nights, depending on the season and resort, can make the Disney Platinum Pass worth it, and staying for even longer can save you hundreds of dollars.

Many of the discounts can be found on the Disney website here: Annual Pass Discounts

When planning your vacation, any combination of these may show you that getting an annual pass is worth the extra money.  If you’re planning on buying Memory Maker, playing a few rounds of miniature golf, and spending money on parking while at Walt Disney World, the Disney Platinum Pass is definitely worth it!

The money you can save by purchasing an annual pass can be hundreds of dollars or more!  And that saved money means a longer trip, more souvenirs, a character buffet, or a donation to 365DaysAtDisney (joking.  sort of…).

FullSizeRender 136(And who doesn’t want this awesome looking card in their wallet?!?)

Please be sure to follow me on twitter, where I tweet daily about Disney history, food, parks, movies, and more! @365DaysOfDisney

365 Days of Kitchen Sinks

sin584232LARGE(Picture from the Walt Disney World website)

If you were to eat a kitchen sink (okay, if your group of family or friends) every single day for an entire year…

It would cost:
$10,585.00
$11,263.90 (including tax)
$13,291.40 (including tax and an 18% gratuity)

You would eat:
11.4 gallons of hot fudge topping
11.4 gallons of peanut butter topping
11.4 gallons of butterscotch topping
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365 bananas
365 cinnamon spice cupcakes
365 angel food cake cupcakes
Ice Cream Freezer Room
(image found here)
22.8 gallons of vanilla ice cream
22.8 gallons of chocolate ice cream
22.8 gallons of strawberry ice cream
11.4 gallons of mint chocolate chip ice cream
11.4 gallons of coffee ice cream
4.28 gallons of chocolate syrup
kirs0193edited1.jpg
(image found here)
5.7 gallons of marshmallow crème
5.7 gallons of strawberry topping
5.7 gallons of pineapple topping
319.4 pounds of dairy whipped topping
213558_largest_brownie-Daphne
(image found here)
91.25 square feet of brownies (365 brownies)
45.625 pounds of candy bars (365 candy bars)
1,460 chocolate cookies with cream filling
1.4 gallons of toasted almonds
1.4 gallons of dark and white chocolate shavings
1.4 gallons of chocolate cookie (crushed)
orangeslice(3)_1720_general
(image found here)
1.4 gallons of jellied oranges (730 slices)
1.4 gallons of mint chocolate chips
1.4 gallons of peanut butter chips
1.4 gallon of chocolate sprinkles
1.4 gallons of rainbow sprinkles
01lensNYC.480(image found here)
11.4 gallons of maraschino cherries

Haunted Mansion Halloween event

I had a dream a few weeks ago that, when I awoke from it, had felt so real, I knew I’d need to write it down on the blog.  It’s taken me a little bit of time, but here it is!

haunted-mansion-00
(image found on the Walt Disney World website)

The Haunted Mansion Halloween event will be a seasonal dinner show offered in the months of September and October.  On each night of Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party (32 nights), there will be a separately ticketed dinner show available in the Magic Kingdom.

10977560946_333dacc65a_b(photo by Brett Kiger, found here)

Guests will receive an invitation to attend the wedding of Constance Hatchaway and her fiancé, which will change each week to encourage more merchandise opportunities.  Having different would-be husbands also adds to the repeatability factor of the event.  Guests will want to see how each wedding changes from week to week in their themes, the music, dancing, food, etc.

dancerzz

The dinner itself will take place in a ballroom, set up as closely as possible to Disney’s ballroom from the Haunted Mansion, that is built adjacent to the current ride building, so guests truly feel like they are walking into the attraction.  Live actors will perform music, dance for the dining guests in period costumes, and after the food has been collected, will encourage guests to come up onstage (on the ballroom floor) and interact with them.  Two actors will even reenact the duel from the paintings above the ballroom.

Of course, this was all a dream, but Disney Imagineers, if you decide to add this to the Magic Kingdom, give me a call and I’ll let you know more details.  🙂

 

 

 

 

 

Disney Vacation Club

Over the past few weeks and months, my family has made the decision to buy in to the Disney Vacation Club.  We have purchased 150 points at Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort.

 

What is Disney Vacation Club?

Disney Vacation Club, or DVC, is a timeshare.  People have a negative attitude about the term “timeshare” though, so Disney calls it a vacation club, which definitely sounds much nicer.  When you buy points, your points can be used at any Disney Vacation Club resort.  You pick when you want to go, what type of room you want to stay in, and what type of a view you’d like.

Aulani,_a_Disney_Resort_&_Spa_by_Anthony_Quintano

Why buy Disney Vacation Club?

We looked at how many times we’ve been to Walt Disney World in the past 10 years (nine times!), and how much we’d spent on lodging for each of those vacations.  We know that in the future, we’d like to keep going every other year or more, and because of that, Disney Vacation Club makes sense.

pvb-25-sales-offer-hp

What are the REAL costs?

Disney is selling point at the Polynesian Village Resort (Walt Disney World) and at Aulani (in Hawaii).  Points are currently $168 each.  Meaning, if you buy in at 150 points, you’ll be paying $25,200.  If you have the cash up front, you end up getting each year’s vacation for about $500, plus the annual dues of $900.   $1,400 a year might sound like a lot, but when you know that it’s for a week at a deluxe resort, for just about the cost of a value, that’s pretty great.

Now, if you decide to pay over 10 years with Disney financing, you end up paying 12.5% interest, so an extra $15,000.  TIP: PAY IT OFF AS QUICKLY AS YOU CAN!

 

What does that mean, though?

The cost per point, over 50 years, ends up being about $9.40 each.  Staying at a deluxe studio at the Animal Kingdom for a week in January would cost 68 points, or about $640 dollars.  A two bedroom suite in January is as low as 185 points, or about $1,740.  Pretty great considering 9 people can stay there and it includes a living room, dining, full kitchen, and washer and dryer.

animal-kingdom-villas-kidani-rates-rooms-gallery-00

A night in Epcot

I obviously love the entire set of Disney parks, and picking a favorite would be like picking a favorite child… but I wanted to share one of the things I like best about spending an evening at one specific park: Epcot.

The park is open each evening until the 9:00 pm Illuminations, the nightly show that takes place in the World Showcase Lagoon.Image

BUT, my favorite thing to do at Epcot is AFTER Illuminations has ended.  As nearly everyone else around the park heads toward the exits, I love to stay in the park and take the long way around.  You get to experience the park in a way few people have: empty.

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Morocco is one of the most undiscovered countries in Epcot.  There are pathways that lead you all the way to the back, with hidden shops, great architecture, and a wonderful restaurant.Image

China (yes, I know, this is out of order) has some great reflections at night, which is fitting after viewing Illuminations: Reflections of Earth.

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The restaurants in France will stay open late if guests are still inside enjoying meals, bottles of wine and good company.

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I love the view of Spaceship Earth when viewed from Japan, but some think taking a picture through the Japanese torii is cliche.  Taking a picture that is different from everyone else’s is hopefully not so.

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The next time you head to Epcot, stay a while.  Enjoy yourself.  And when everyone else is leaving, relax, pull up a seat, and visit the countries in a way few people have.