Disneyworld Preparation!

As you read this, I am 3 days in to a magical Walt Disney World vacation. I’ve been planning this trip for a year, and I am so excited to be in this Magical Place.

Over the months I have reviewed and studied, planned and dreamed about all we would do and see. In the next few weeks I will share my experiences, and my dos and don’ts. But this week, I share a very important set of tips to help you prepare for and enjoy your vacation. Hope this helps make your trip to Walt Disney World or Disneyland a little more magical!

  1. In the week leading up to your trip, make sure you are eating healthy, drinking lots of water, and getting plenty of sleep. Don’t try crazy new foods that will hurt your tummy. There is nothing worse than feeling miserable and burnt out for the first two days of your vacation because you didn’t take good care of yourself. water
  2. Have plans and back-up plans for your house sitter/pet sitter. Make sure that you have a back-up person to watch your animals, and that emergency care instructions are available, just in case. Check with your vet to see if you can leave a credit card on file in case of emergency. There is nothing worse than a home emergency when you are thousands of miles away.
  3. Pack your mini-pharmacy for your trip. Mine is listed on my packing list from last week. Yes, there are stores in Florida. But it stinks to have to track down meds and pay 5 times the price when you or your family do not feel well. meds
  4. Print two copies of your travel documents, and take 2 copies of ID for everyone in your family. This way if anything is lost you have a back-up plan. I always travel with my ID in my purse and my passport in my checked baggage. If my purse is lost or stolen I will be prepared.
  5. Plan some downtime into your Disney week. I know this sounds crazy. I am someone who would LOVE to be at the park from rope drop until they kick me out. However, I love my family and I don’t want them to hate me. It is nice to have unscheduled time in your trip. That way, if you feel up to rushing around the park you can, but also you are not missing out on anything if you decide to lay by the pool with a rum drink.giphy
  6. Clean the house before you go. It’s the worst, especially when you are doing laundry and packing. However, it really sucks coming home from a vacation to chores. You already have to go back to work. Why make it harder on yourself?cinderella
  7. Set reasonable expectations for yourself and your family. If you are going in peak season, there is a high likelihood you are not going to see everything, and that there will be lines. Tell everyone to prioritize and not be bummed if you miss some of the small stuff.
  8. If you are travelling with a group, establish general rules of appropriateness for your shared spaces. For example, we have a young teen traveling with us, so the young adults agreed that we won’t be getting “hammered” at the house. Similarly, we all want to sleep so we’ve established quiet hours. Make sure everyone is on the same page so you don’t have any unnecessary conflicts.jar
  9. Finally–RELAX. I know, I know. I am so excited right now I want to burst, but I know that if I drive my family crazy before we leave this trip is going to be the worst. Take deep breaths, drink a cuppa tea, and get ready to let your Disney-Freak flag fly!

See y’all next week, when I am back from Florida 😦

Planning for Walt Disney World

Our Disneyworld trip is one month away, and I can hardly contain myself. We are looking forward to some warmer weather as winter closes in on the PNW.Mine Train

A few things we have noticed:

  • There really aren’t any substantial discount tickets for WDW. Unless you are a service member, there are really no discount tickets for Walt Disney World. Yes, some sites have a discount off of the gate price, but nowadays most people buy their tickets online anyways. Some sites have a few dollars off after tax, but in that case I’d rather just buy my tickets directly from Disney.
  • Large group Dining Reservations are hard to come by, even in the low season. Considering that we are traveling in the low season, I thought we would have no problem booking a few dinner reservations for our large group. I was so very wrong.  I feel we will likely end up doing more counter service dining anyways, but I am a bit bummed about how hard it is to book a meal with my family 😦
  • Magic Bands are now available online in the Disney Store You can now purchase Magic Bands online at the Disney Store. For those of us staying off-property this allows us to have the perk of showing up to the parks ready to parrrr-tay.  I was not looking forward to wasting valuable theme park time my first day in Downtown Disney getting my Magic Band outfitted, so I am thrilled! magicband
  • My DisneyBounds are ready! For those of you not familiar with Disneybounding, it is a fun trend started by Leslie Kay, where you wear outfits inspired by Disney characters. These  are not costumes, just outfits with a touch of Disney flair. Here is an example of one of my Disneybound outfits from my last trip, as Minnie.DisneyboundThis trip I will be: Mary Poppins, Rapunzel, Snow White, Minnie, Jiminy Cricket, and Ariel. I am excited to show my “Disney Side”.

In the next few weeks look forward to my WDW packing list, a final pre-trip redux, and my post-trip WDW on a Budget posts! I ‘m so incredibly thrilled for this trip and I can’t wait to go to WDW!

Disneyland Attraction Tips: Mickey’s Toontown

Mickey’s Toontown has very few rides, but is still heavy on attractions, as every building is essentially a playground for guests. While walking through toontown, don’t be afraid to press buttons, turn knobs, and play!

Mickey’s Toontown

  1. Donald’s Boat-Donald’s boat is a fun boat themed play area, complete with a captains quarters,  This is also great because there is a shady area for adults to sit and let the kiddos blow off some energy.
  2. Gadget’s Go Coaster– As you approach Gadget’s Go Coaster, you shrink to chipmunk size and enjoy Gadget’s wild creation. This is a fun little coaster that is  great for kids, but is pretty fun for adults too! enjoy the individuality of each of the cars on the coaster, build with Popsicle sticks, pencils, acorns, and bottle caps (remember, you are chipmunk sized now!). This is also one of few coasters at Disney parks that is completely outdoors.

    Photo by Themeparkinsider.com

    Photo by Themeparkinsider.com

  3. Goofy’s Playhouse– Goofy’s playhouse is very similar to the style of Minnie and Mickey’s house, it’s a walk through with playground aspects for kids to enjoy. It used to be a giant bounce house, but now has an outdoor play area in Goofy’s garden and fun things to explore in Goofy’s house.
  4. Mickey’s House-This entire attraction is essentially an elaborate que to meet Mickey!  That being said, it is VERY cool, as with most Disney attractions, the attention to detail is immaculate with everything from the books on the shelves to Pluto’s bed perfectly themed to the Mickey Mouse way. At the end of the walk through (with plenty of things to climb on, play on, and observe), you get to meet Mickey in his film studio where he is filming one of three movies. If you ask the cast member what is being filmed, and are willing to wait, you can sometimes choose which set you’d like to meet Mickey on. On busy days you can meet classic Mickey, Steamboat Mickey, and Fantasia Mickey (though only one per walk through).2014-07-10 07.09.16

    At Mickey's House!

    At Mickey’s House!

  5. Minnie’s House–  Minnie’s House is a true gem. Often times, Minnie will have a meet and greet on the front porch, and then you can explore her house. This is a magical place for young children. You can do your Makeup at Minnie’s vanity, have tea and disappearing cookies in the kitchen, and play throughout her whole house. It’s a great little play space.2014-07-10 15.37.46
  6. Roger Rabbit’s Car Toon Spin– Honestly, this ride has been one of my favorites since opening day. I got to ride this on the first day it was open and it was marvelous. this is a classic dark ride themed to “Who Framed Roger Rabbit?” with a “spin” being that the driver of each car gets to “spin” the car around by it’s steering wheel. This ride can be a little fretful for young guests, and relies heavily on black lights.
  7. Chip ‘n Dale Treehouse– This is similar to the other walk-through houses, but like Goofy, Minnie, and Mickey’s houses it is very well themed and is a fun treehouse for kids to explore. It is a little small for big grown ups (My 6’4″ boyfriend couldn’t fit at all). This is right next to Gadget’s Go Coaster and has some similar decor and features.

For more attraction info view my posts on Attraction Basics for Disneyland Beginners; Tomorrowland; Adventureland & Main Street USA; ToonTown; New Orleans Square,  Frontierland, & Critter Country; and Fantasyland. For other Disneyland posts press the “Disney” Category in the sidebar.  (Adding a new area each week!)

Carpe Kingdom!

Disneyland Attraction Tips: Fantasyland

Fantasyland contains many of the original attractions still left in the park, and many attractions themed to original Disney animated features. All of these attractions are family friendly and are a lot of fun. I recommend hitting Fantasyland first thing in the morning or late at night as these do not have Fastpass and are swamped with young children during the day.

Fantasyland

  1. Alice in Wonderland– The Alice in Wonderland Ride is a “Classic Dark Ride”, that tells the story of Alice in Wonderland. It has very unique lighting effects and you get to ride in a Caterpillar, which is always fun! The Caterpillar cars are very tight though, so this may be one to avoid for bigger park guests.
  2. Casey Jr.  Circus Train – This is a super fun attraction! You board up at the platform into the train cars (pick from cars themed to all the different circus animals, and take a trip through Fantasyland. This can be a tight squeeze for taller guests, but is an easy ride that is a favorite of young toddlers and other children, and the whole family can ride together in one car, which is nice!
  3. Dumbo the Flying Elephant – Dumbo is a tremendously fun ride for kids and adults alike, and is fairly simple and slow, which makes it very relaxing. Each elephant can hold two riders, and you use a handle to control your “up and down” motion, while the ride sends you in a circle. If you are paying attention you can get some great views of the park.
  4. “it’s a small world”– This ride has some mixed reviews, but I think it’s a must ride, at least once. I recommend riding this when you want to get off your feet as this is a long attraction, about 15 minutes long. The attention to detail and artistry in this ride is amazing, and kids are mesmerized by it. If for no other reason then to see original designs by Mary Blair, do not miss this attraction. It is also fun to try to guess which country you are viewing and to  get into a nice, cool, air conditioned boat ride on a hot day. It is truly of massive scale on the inside.2014-07-10 07.07.27
  5. King Arthur Carrousel-This attraction is a very beautiful, but standard carrousel. I often skip it because we have carrousels at home and I don’t want to wait in line for it, but I also don’t have children and apparently kids love the crap out of carrousels. To each their own.2014-07-10 15.37.36
  6. Mad Tea Party – Pile into a teacup and hang on for dear life. In all honesty, you can ride this ride 3 ways. 1. You get in the cup with a couple of people, and just sit and enjoy as it spins around. The ride is beautifully decorated and it’s fun to people watch. 2. You leisurely spin the cup and laugh and enjoy yourself. 3. get in with the strongest people you know and spin until you are nauseous. I choose 3. 2014-07-10 07.07.32
  7. Matterhorn Bobsleds– This ride is a classic and is totally worth waiting in line for. It’s a little bumpy of a coaster, but is so fun. Themed like a ride up a Swiss mountain, you quickly discover that your racing bobsled is being hunted by a scary yeti who is lurking in the shadows! Mostly a thrill ride with a possibility of getting sprinkled by nearby waterfalls, this ride is a blast. Old fans of this ride should know they updated the ride cars so you can no longer ride double in the seats, they have 4 individual seats in each car now.
  8. Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride-Technically this ride is a children’s ride…but…yeah. It has some adult themes. Mr. Toad is a rich philandering toad who goes drinking and driving (the “wild ride” is your ride in his swerving car), crashes, dies, and goes to hell. It’s a super fun ride, don’t get me wrong, but if you have a child who is easily scared of…the devil…you may want to sit this one out. Conversely, my grown up boyfriend found this ride hilarious.2014-07-10 15.35.29
  9. Peter Pan’s Flight-This ride may be my favorite dark ride. It is very traditional as a dark ride as it merely tells the story of the film “Peter Pan” and features the characters. However, your ride vehicle is a two-three seater version of Hook’s flying pirate ship and you get to fly over dioramas of London and Neverland, surrounded by stars. One of the classic Disneyland attractions, this is very beautiful. Hold on to your stuff though, I lost my iphone on this ride in 2010. If you see it grab it for me (just kidding stay in your ride vehicles).2014-07-10 15.39.59
  10. Pinocchio’s Daring Journey– Another classic dark ride this tells the story of Pinocchio, but in such a cool way! The animatronics and transitions from scene to scene are really very good, and I have always loved the part at the end where the blue fairy appears!
  11. Sleeping Beauty Castle Walk Through-While this is not a ride it is a very cool new attraction that allows you to walk through the castle and view amazing Mary Blair style dioramas that are so beautiful and interesting. It’s usually pretty empty because people don’t know it’s there (it reopened in 2008 after being closed since 2001), and it’s right in the gateway to Fantasyland. For more info on this great attraction listen to Moustalgia Episode 64 with the imagineer behind the project, Chris Merritt.2014-07-10 15.35.38
  12. Snow White’s Scary Adventures-This is one of the original Disneyland attractions and tells the story of Snow White, which can definitely be a little spooky. Full of animatronics of all the classic film characters, it’s truly a creative attractions. Keep an eye on the window in front of the entrance  too, for a truly scary sight!
  13. Storybook Land Canal Boats– This is a fun attraction for park guests of all ages and families. Essentially, you board the canal boats and get to ride through a river surrounding miniature villages of all your favorite Disney movies, from Agrabah to London Park see each little landscape come to life. I love that you can fit the whole family in one boat!

For more attraction info view my posts on Attraction Basics for Disneyland Beginners; Tomorrowland; Adventureland & Main Street USA; ToonTown; New Orleans Square,  Frontierland, & Critter Country; and Fantasyland. For other Disneyland posts press the “Disney” Category in the sidebar.  (Adding a new area each week!)

Carpe Kingdom!

Disneyland Attraction Tips: New Orleans Square, Frontierland, and Critter Country

These three lands surround the Rivers of America and contain some of the most popular attractions in the land. I recommend avoiding these attractions around Fantasmic showtimes as they are impossible to get to. These three lands blend together pretty seamlessly and have a lot to offer. I would also suggest that the two New Orleans Square attractions are the best themed in the park, hands down. Way to go Marc Davis!

New Orleans Square

  1. Haunted MansionHaunted MansionThe Haunted Mansion is just the absolute best. I don’t know what it is about this attraction, but every single second, every square inch, is perfect. While it is a “haunted mansion”, it’s very silly and not scary at all, though it does talk about ghouts and goulies, so if that’s not your thing don’t do it. I will say that young people may get scared on the elevator in the first 5 minutes of the ride, when the lights go out and a hanging body appears overhead. After that it’s all singing and dancing goofy ghosts. This has been one of the best attractions on every trip since I was a little kid.pirates
  2. Pirates of the Caribbean-From the second you walk in the doors of this attraction, you will see something decidedly different. You start out in a boat on the bayou, fireflies and starry skies all around. Then you hear of a foreboding tale and a pirate curse….this boat ride has it all! Cannonfire and saucy wenches. The magnitude of this ride is amazing. Pro Tip, spread your party around the boat, otherwise the weight will make big splashes and wet passengers on the drops. Yes. there are drops.giphy tumblr_mu4pc5P1Sd1s5nzd6o1_400

Frontierland

  1. Big Thunder Mountain Railroad-This is a thrill coaster themed around an old west mining town and caverns. I won’t speak much on it as I haven’t ridden since the big remodel, but I’ve heard great things!
  2. Mark Twain Riverboat-The Mark Twain Riverboat is a Sternwheeler that circles the rivers of America. This is a pretty cool experience, but does take about 20 minutes, so keep that in mind when planning your day.
  3. Big Thunder Ranch-This is a petting zoo. So if that’s your thing….go do it. Not much else to say.2014-07-10 15.37.19
  4. Pirates Lair on Tom Sawyer Island– You can take the raft over to Tom Sawyer Island and play around on the pirates lair. I like to have picnic lunch here! Its a good little area to go exploring when ride lines are long.
  5. Sailing Ship Columbia-Same idea as the Mark Twain River Boat, except it’s a freaking pirate ship. So yeah, that’s cool. Also Vaughn and I stood 2 feet away from James Franco on the Sailing Ship Columbia once, so that’s cool….

Critter Country

  1. Davy Crockett’s Explorer Canoes-My favorite mode of transport in the Rivers of America, these are actual canoes that you ride with a guide dressed like Davy Crockett and paddle around the river. Pretty cool!  While they do have smaller paddles for kiddos this may be one to avoid with kids who are having a hard time listening.
  2. The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh- This is  a really cute ride for kids, it’s a great dark ride, but it is almost entirely in black light. Also, tall folks do not fit in the ride car. No good.
  3. Splash Mountain-Splash Mountain is a log flume ride, but it is so much more.  Based off the banned film “Song of the South”, it tells a story of Brer Rabbit and his battle with Brer Bear and Brer Fox. It’s got fun scenes and music. And then you drop to your death and get soaking wet. My advice…if you don’t want to get wet…sit int the middle, hold your hands up, and as soon as the camera flashes duck down behind the person in front. Your welcome.2014-07-10 07.08.36

For more attraction info view my posts on Attraction Basics for Disneyland Beginners; Tomorrowland; Adventureland & Main Street USA; ToonTown; New Orleans Square,  Frontierland, & Critter Country; and Fantasyland. For other Disneyland posts press the “Disney” Category in the sidebar.  (Adding a new area each week!)

Disneyland Attraction Tips: Main Street and Adventureland

Main Street and Adventureland have few attractions, but what they do have are high quality and entertaining. These tend to be some of the more popular attractions in the park, but are also fun for the whole family. Main Street USA

In the Ice Cream Shop on Main Street

In the Ice Cream Shop on Main Street

 

  1. Disneyland Railroad-The Disneyland Railroad is a ride people often miss, but it is a lot of fun, and also is a great mode of transportation. With stops at New Orleans Square, Toon Town, Tomorrowland, and a side trip to the Grand Canyon and Prehistoric Times. I ride this first every time I go to the park.
  2. Great Moments With Mr. Lincoln– Not a ride, but a truly great little show, that you don’t want to miss. Mr. Lincoln was one of the first animatronics built by the Walt Disney Company and the show is really splendid. Also, it’s a really nice air conditioned show, and there are some great Disney artifacts in the lobby.
  3. Main Street Vehicles– On any given day there are a variety of vehicles that can take you from one end of main street to the other. There is a horse drawn trolley, a double decker bus, and an old firetruck. All are a fun way to get you down to the castle.Main Street

Adventureland

  1. Enchanted Tiki Room– The Tiki Room is a lovely show that incorporates tikis, singing birds, and other fun critters in a magical revue! It’s a beautiful and elaborate attraction. Also, one of the only attractions that allows food. So, buy a Dole Whip and enjoy the show2014-07-10 15.36.21.
  2. Indiana Jones Adventure-This thrill ride is wicked fun. Another that I got to ride on opening day and meet Indy in costume (swoon, the fac he isn’t always in the park is a damn shame.) It’s a beautiful and well thought out attraction, but can definitely be frightening for young kids. The ride vehicle is super comfortable, the special effects are unbelievable.  I highly recommend iti
  3. Jungle Cruise-This ride is hilarious, and again, super great for all ages. Kids tend to be really entertained by the animatronic critters and their antics, adults will enjoy the dry puns of the skipper. The boat is a great ride vehicle too, not a bad seat in the house.junglecruise
  4. Tarzan’s Treehouse-A great walk through treehouse showing the Tarzan story. This is a cute attraction with simple touches that is often skipped, but is worth seeing for this view of the Rivers of America.
    This was Christmas weekend. Don't ever do it.

    This was Christmas weekend. Don’t ever do it.

    For more attraction info view my posts on Attraction Basics for Disneyland Beginners; Tomorrowland; Adventureland & Main Street USA; ToonTown; New Orleans Square,  Frontierland, & Critter Country; and Fantasyland. For other Disneyland posts press the “Disney” Category in the sidebar.  (Adding a new area each week!)